What have you been up to in the kitchen?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Speeding the No Knead Bread

From my Mom, who got it from Press Democrat

Makes 1 big loaf

Time: About 1 hour, plus 4½ hours' resting

3 cups bread flour

1 packet (¼ ounce) instant yeast

1½ teaspoons salt

-- Oil as needed

1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1½ cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.

3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.

4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Breadstick Fingers

Breadstick Fingers
Originally uploaded by grayd80
OMG! Brilliant!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pumpkin Souffle, Guerrilla Style

I saw this recipe in a magazine and thought it sounded like a great use for those mini pumpkins, but didn't have time to copy it, so I snap-and-ran. This is my approximate understanding of the picture.

You Will Need:
8 Mini Pumpkins
4 Large Eggs
4 Tsp All-Purpose Flour
1/4 Tsp Baking Powder
3 oz. Cabot Habanero Cheddar, diced
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Preheat Over to 350
Place uncut pumpkins in a shallow dish and add a 1/4 inch of water. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until tender. Let cool.
Reheat oven to 375
With a paring knife, remove tops of pumpkins. Remove and discard seeds. Remove some flesh, leaving a 1/4 inch shell.
Place four cups of pumpkin flesh in a mixing bowl. Separate eggs and mix yolks into pumpkin flesh, reserving whites in a separate bowl.
Stir flour and baking powder into flesh and egg mixture. Add cheese. Season with Salt and Pepper.
Whip egg whites into stiff peaks and fold into pumpkin mixture. Spoon into pumpkin shells.
Place on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Food Not Bombs Pizza

So, as the undercurrent of Food Not Bombs Petaluma, I have discovered some excellent recipes that have been well-received by the Latino men we serve. We get donations from Petaluma Soup Kitchen and have had to improvise many a meal. Here is a winner:

Food Not Bombs Pizzitas:


1. A few cans of the Pillsbury Biscuits (I believe it says "Golden Layers" on the box.)
2. A Jar of spaghetti sauce of your choice ( I enjoy Amy's Organic Mushroom and Garlic sauce, but Amy's is pretty local and probably does not extend to many other states, if even out of the county.)
3. One red bell pepper and one green bell pepper.
4. One bag/box cherry tomatoes
5. Cheese of your choice. (We used Chevre goat cheese because that's what we had.)


Heat the oven to 350 and butter some cookie sheets.

Unroll the individual biscuits and poke holes in them so that they don't rise too much.

Warm up the sauce (maybe with some chopped up garlic?) and spice it as you like.

Then, on each of the little biscuits put a spoonful of sauce, some bell peppers (we used both colors for aesthetic value) and top with cheese. Bake for about 15-20 minutes.

They are delicious, easy, and feed many.

Yeah pizza!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sushi Crispies!


There's definitely something fishy about these Japanese-style rolls. The rice filling is crispy, the wraps are fruity and your kids will love them.
1/4 cup butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups crisped rice cereal
20 to 25 gummy worms
1 to 2 boxes fruit leather

Grease a 12- by 17-inch baking sheet. Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until smooth.
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the rice cereal until it's evenly coated. Turn the baking sheet so that the shorter ends are at the top and bottom. Then press the marshmallow mixture onto the sheet, distributing it evenly.Starting at one side an inch up from the lower edge, place gummy worms atop the mixture end to end in a hortizontal line. Gently roll the lower edge of the marshmallow mixture over the gummy worms.
Then stop and cut the log away from the rest of the mixture. Use the same method to form 4 more logs. Slice each log into 1-inch-thick "sushi" rolls and wrap them individually with a strip of fruit leather.
Makes 4 to 5 dozen

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Clean Out the Fridge Pasta

Well, my friends mutantly ginormous Zucchini yielded 2 dozen muffins and 2 loaves of bread, and there was still more left over (I shredded it all, remember, because I actually DON'T like zucchini). Well, always looking for creative ways to clean out the fridge, I settled on pasta sauce.

So here is my Clean out the Fridge Pasta

I boiled Whole Wheat Penne.

In a pan, heat some EVOO, and saute some minced garlic. Add as much shredded zucchini as you want. Saute that, too. Dump in whatever you have got. I used a can of diced tomatoes, a scoop of trader Joe's sun dried tomato bruschetta, and some artichoke hearts. Then I just let it bubble away for a while. When the pasta was ready, I dumped it on top.

A side note: I heard that Michael Phelps eats 10,000 calories a day to maintain his body weight, including a pound of pasta for lunch and another pound for dinner. In an effort to understand the sheer quantity of food he eats, I decided to boil the entire pound of penne.

I will be eating it all week long. It is no less than SIX ENTIRE MEALS for me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kitchen notes

I have made both of the following recipes in the last 24 hours, and both are excellent.

Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts


  1. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and walnuts. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done.



  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream


  1. Combine the frozen strawberries and sugar in a food processor or blender. Process until the fruit is roughly chopped. With the processor running, slowly pour in the heavy cream until fully incorporated. Serve immediately, or freeze for up to one week.

Weeknight Paella

I cut this recipe out of our local free paper, The Link. I haven't had a chance to make it yet, but in honor of my quickly approaching move to Spain, here it is:

3 C Quick Cooking brown rice
1 C frozen Peas
1 tbsp EVOO
2 chicken breasts, diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. cooked smoked turkey sausage, sliced
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp each of saffron threads, paprika, turmeric (i don't even know what that IS), and hot sauce (optional)
8 oz (1/2 lb) medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1- Prepare rice according to directions. When removed from heat, stir in peas, and let stand for 5 minutes
2- Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until done. Remove and set aside. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add sausage and heat through.
3- Stir in tomatoes, spices and seasonings. Bring to a simmer, add shrimp. Cover and cook until Shrimp is done. Stir in Chicken and brown rice, and serve with pita triangles, crusty bread, etc.

Monday, June 23, 2008

KombatKween's Chicken Pot Pie

I saw this recipe on a forum somewhere, and thought I'd post it here. It looks yummy and easy, and as I have recently aquired a ginormous turkey that needs to be cooked and eaten, I will have plenty of meat to put in this bad boy.

6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp flour
2 c chicken broth
1 c heavy cream or half & half
2 c veggies (corn, peas, carrots), you can use canned with the liquid drained off
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut up
4 white potatoes, cubed small and cooked
2 pie crusts

Melt butter in a pot and stir in flour to form a thick paste. Add salt and peppers. Stir in cream and chicken broth. Cook on a simmer until thick.
Add veggies, potatoes and chicken. Pour into pie crust, top with the other. Poke holes in the top to vent.
Cook at 375 for 35 to 45 minutes.If you double the ingredients, you can make 3 pies or 2 really full ones.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Crunchy Fruit Salad

1 banana

1 kiwi

4 or 5 strawberries (depending on size)

1/2 red delicious apple

1 11 oz. can mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained and rinsed

1/4 to 1/2 vanilla yogurt (you can increase or decrease amount based on personal preference)

Grape nuts

Cut the strawberries, kiwi, banana and apple to the desired size and mix in a bowl with the oranges and yogurt. Add some grape nuts and there you have it! A cool, healthy and delicious snack or dessert!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mini Margarita Pies

1 pkg Refrigerated Sugar Cookie Dough (Pillsbury or Nestle break and bake 20 count)
1 pkg cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 or 2 limes
8 oz container of cool whip
Pretzels (optional)
Strawberries (Optional for garnish)

Cut each of the dough cookies in half. Roll into a ball and place in Mini Muffin Pan. Press with floured Mini Tart Shaper (or something that will form them into little pie crusts). Bake cookies at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for about 1 minute, then REPRESS because they will start to collapse.
Remove from Pan to Cooling Rack. Meanwhile, combined softened cream cheese with powdered sugar. Zest lime. Cut lime in half and press with Citrus Press. (Add both limes if you prefer lots of lime flavor!) Mix it all together. Add in Cool Whip. Pipe filling into cups however you can get it in there. If desired, add chopped pretzels to cup before filling (to add a bit of salty flavor), OR stick a pretzel stick into each cup. Garnish with strawberry slice if desired

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

stalking led to this!

Oreo Cookie Balls - it looks so good!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Maple Salmon

This recipe is awesome for people who would like to eat more fish but can't stand the fishy taste! Sugar snap peas go great with this recipe!

1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound salmon

In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper.
Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish, and coat with the maple syrup mixture. Cover the dish, and marinate salmon in the refrigerator 30 minutes or longer depending on how strong you want the flavor to be, turning once.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, and bake salmon uncovered 20 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Tapatio is very possibly the most wonderful condiment sauce in the world. Of course, all my Latino friends have known about it forever, it is just recently that I have discovered the beauty of such a great sauce.
1. It's spicy.
2. It's not TOO spicy.
3. It's Tangy.
4. It surpassed Tabasco as my father's favorite condiment=Big Deal.
5. It's perfect for fake blood.
6. It tastes good with pretty much everything.

Now, for breakfast:

1 Tortilla (Trader Joe's "homemade" tortillas)
2 Eggs (scrambled)
Enough grated cheese. (Trader Joe's Jalapeno Pepper Jack or any sharp cheddar)

Warm up the tortilla in a hot pan (no oil) and scramble the eggs. put the cheese on the tortilla until slightly melted. Add egg. Add liberal amounts of Tapatio. A perfect breakfast.

Optional: Add a couple of spoons of Corn and Black Bean Salsa that marina posted awhile ago. It's divine.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chicken Adobo in Tangy Coconut Sauce

1 lb boneless chicken, cut up
1 bay leaf
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 TBSP soy sauce
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c rice vinegar
4 green jalapenos or 1/2 habanero finey chopped
1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
3 Tbsp Veggie Oil
1/2 C coconut milk

Put everything EXCEPT the veggie oil and coconut milk in the cast iron skillet and turn heat to high. Once bubbly, turn to low and let simmer till chicken is cooked, about 15 minute. Drain the liquid. SAVE IT.

In a wok, or in the skillet, heat the veggie oil over med/high heat. Cook the chicken till golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the liquid from before. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer about 20-30 minutes, or until most liquid is gone. Now add coconut milk, and heat until warm, 3-4 minutes. Serve hot, maybe with rice?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hello Spring! - Lemon-Basil Risotto

Welcoming spring always seems best done with food...

However, after an exhausting week and un-restful weekend, I woke from a 3 hour nap on Easter Sunday afternoon with no idea what to make for dinner, and very little energy with which to whip up something appropriate for the occasion.

Thank goodness for having trekked to farmer's market Sunday Morning! After digging through the pantry and assembling a pile of fresh goodies picked in the fields mere hours before, I found that I had more than enough for a simple and delicious dish that tasted entirely of springtime.

*Note the giant peep bunny supervising in the background - a plush toy that somehow found it's way into the household and has tricked many a sweet-toothed guest*

There can be many variations on this same theme, and the basic template for this risotto is as follows:
  • 1-2 cups chopped greens (rainbow chard, spinach, kale...)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 cloves crushed/minced garlic (a handful of chopped onions would fit well here too)
  • 4 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (14 oz) arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups stock (your preference, I used chicken)
  • grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • a hearty handful chopped fresh basil (no basil? try a smaller handful of parsley, thyme, rosemary...maybe a few spoonfuls of pesto...)
  • optional top-secret nontraditional ingredient - 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed to pale green-white section, tough outer leaves removed, smashed slightly with the flat of a knife then cut into approx. 1 inch sections
  • more extras - 2 tbls butter, grated Parmesan cheese
Bring water to a boil (depending on the size of your steamer, you may need to start with half of the water and add more as it boils off) add optional lemongrass. Over this, steam the chopped greens - when greens are just wilted and tender, remove from heat and set aside. Reserve the two cups water, and add to it the 4 cups of stock - keep this mixture at a simmer.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, saute the garlic/onion in the oil over medium-high heat until it is soft. Add the steamed greens and cook for about 1 minute. Increase the heat slightly and add the rice; stir for 2 minutes. Add the wine, and when it has been absorbed, gradually add just enough boiling stock to barely cover the rice.

Now, all that is required is patience. Stir frequently - as the liquid is absorbed, gradually add more.

After about 10 minutes, add the lemon rind, stirring well.
(I have found with risotto that the trick is to hover. Watch closely and you will see that the process begins slowly, and you will wonder if that much rice can possibly absorb that much liquid, but as soon as you see the rice begin to soften and expand, it will become easier and easier to tell when to stir and when to add more liquid. Towards the end of about 15-18 minutes, absorption will slow, and it is often best to turn off the heat just after adding the last ladle-full of stock. Keep stirring!)
After the last of the stock, add butter, grated cheese, lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper to taste. A slight drizzle of balsamic vinegar can add a nice twist, and I have to admit, it was hard not to wish for some grilled salmon alongside. Next time!

Friday, February 29, 2008


(another TJ's recipe)
(also, I don't HAVE my cookbook, so I'm going to try to remember the recipe but it might change after I get it back from my friend)

You will need:
1/2 tub mascarpone cheese
2 tbs Marsala wine
Approx 14 oz of DARK chocolate (I used 71% cocoa)
Instant coffee
2 TBS hot water
1 pint heavy whipping creme

I *think* that is everything. Use the water to turn the instant coffee into coffee. Blend together everything except the chocolate in a blender or food processor. Melt the chocolate. I put the chocolate in a glass bowl, and put the bowl in a pot of hot/boiling water. When the cocoa is melted, dump it into the mixture and stir it until everything is a melty gooodness. Dump it into glasses and refridgerate for 2+ hours. If you would like, garnish with a strawberry or a chocolate truffle from Trader joes!

Steph's Super Fantastic Apple Pie

Pie crust for 9" pie plate-you'll need top and bottom
5 large or 7 small Rome apples, sliced
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
6 slices of butter

Slice Rome apples and arrange into 1st layer in pie shell.
Mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl (mixture should be dark) and sprinkle mixture over sliced apples.
Repeat until apples are slightly taller than the top of the pie plate.
Sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top, placing 6 slices of butter on the top.
Cover with pie crust, cut tiny slices in the top crust for ventilation.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1-1 hour 15 minutes, top will be brown.

Dessert for Recyclers

After Kelsey made her mocha cream puffs, there was plenty of leftover chocolate cream filling, which had a weird gluey texture. Never one to throw away perfectly edible food (even if it doesn't taste good), I devised a way to salvage these leftovers.

1 batch Chocolate Cream filling from the Mocha-filled Cream Puffs
1 pint whipping cream
1 Tb. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 dash salt
1 pound cake, sliced
Unsweetened cocoa powder

Whip the cream with sugar, vanilla, and salt until stiff but not butter. Mix half of the whipped cream with the leftover chocolate cream filling. Place half of the pound cake slices on the bottom of an 8" x 8" pan, spread with half of the chocolate mixture. Repeat layers, then top the whole creation with reserved whipped cream. Dust top with cocoa powder. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: If desired, drizzle the pound cake slices with coffee or liqueur.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cool fact...

Even though the pictures of my desserts aren't desserts actually DID look like these ones. Hurrah!

Brownie Pudding Cake

THIS IS THE REAL ENTRY!!!! This recipe is quite deceitful as there is no pudding involved in the process. Hm.... This cake was eaten during an "The Office" marathon with my radical friends. The general consensus was that it's divine when warm, and not as good when cooled down. A quick and easy recipe. Unlike the cream puffs which were terribly hard.

Heat Oven to 350*F.
1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 Cup sugar
3 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 Teaspoon baking powder
1/4 Cup milk
1 TBS cooking oil
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 Cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 Cup boiling water

In a bowl add flour, baking powder, 1/4 Cup sugar, and ONE TABLESPOON of cocoa powder. Add milk, oil, and vanilla. Stir till smooth and put in a small baking casserole dishy thing.

Add the remaining TWO TABLESPOONS of cocoa powder and the 1/3 Cup sugar. Gradually add the boiling water.

Pour this mixture over the batter evenly. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

Eat warm with some vanilla ice cream or sweet cream of some sort.'s bomb.

Mocha-Filled Cream Puffs

I made two desserts for the challenge, but this one I decided should not be considered...

I ate this with two friends. We decided, and tested to prove later, that the recipe turns out better with a few squirts of Chocolate sauce and about 1 cup of whipped cream mixed into the cream filling. You could probably do away with the coffee as well. of course, then, it would just be cream puffs, not mocha cream puffs. But here is the original recipe.

Chocolate-Filled Cream Puffs
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

2. Heat oven to 400°F. Heat water, butter and salt to rolling boil in medium saucepan. Add flour all at once; stir vigorously over low heat about 1 minute or until mixture leaves side of pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth and velvety. Drop batter by spoonfuls into 12 balls (about 1/4 cup) onto ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. While puff is warm, horizontally slice off small portion of top; reserve tops. Remove any soft pieces of dough from inside puff; cool completely on wire rack. Fill puffs with CHOCOLATE CREAM FILLING. Replace tops.


1-1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 Tbs Powdered Instant Coffee

1. Stir together sugar, cocoa, coffee, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan; gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils; boil and stir 1 minute.

2. Remove from heat; gradually stir about 1 cup hot mixture into beaten egg yolks. Return all egg mixture to saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into bowl; press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until cold. Do not stir. About 3 cups filling.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

February's Challenge: Dessert

It's still cold out most places and this is the month when the store shelves are full of pink and red candy. So what to do?

Let's celebrate our sweet-tooth cravings with some real desserts! The rules are as follows:

1) Make it tasty! - all cooking methods are open, all flavors and styles too. Extra credit for attempting a new technique, or putting a new twist on a flavor we might not usually find in desserts. Remember, The Pudding Incident is about being adventerous in the kitchen!

2) Share it! - we will do away with the scoring on this round, and if you enter a recipe, you are encouraged to also vote for your favorite from amongst your competitors (via comments). That said, feedback from your guinea-pigs is helpful and encouraged.

3) Post your recipe by midnight, the 29th of this month. If you would like to vote, please do so by that time as well.

Winner gets a gift card, and will be asked to contribute ideas for the next month's challenge!

(Note: Please do not add your recipes as tags when posting - we would like to keep the tags as more of a category-sorting method, so if you bake, add the baking tag, but please do not add the name of your recipe as a tag.)

Fig and Date Bread

This recipe is tried and true... and to die for!

Scant 2.5 cups whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 Tbl. salt
1 oz/30 g yeast
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 Tbl. Molasses
1.25 cups water
1/2 cup dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup dates, chopped

* Makes 2 small loaves

1. Put the flours, salt, yeast, butter, molasses, and water into a bowl and mix for 5 minutes. Tip out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 5 minutes, then put the dough back in the bowl and let rise for 1 hour.

2. Line a baking sheet. Incorporate the figs and dates into the dough, then divide into two pieces. Shape the pieces into balls, then place on the baking sheet and let rise for 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C. Dust the loaves with flour and, using a knife, make three equidistant horizontal cuts all around each ball. Bake for 30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool

I made a mascarpone spread and it was awesome with the bread!

1 Small container marscapone cheese
2 Tbl. honey
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (add more if you please)

Mix all ingredients together well. Spread on bread- enjoy!

and the winner is...

Kelsey and her fabulous falafel!

She adventured out into new cooking territory, trying both new ingredients and a new recipe/cooking style, while making something that is an accessible and tasty winter-time meal.

She wins a gift card to Le Gourmet Chef, and the title of First Pudding Incident Challenge winner!

Friday, February 01, 2008


This recipe is in my "Cooking w/ TJ's" Cookbook:

Perfectly Paired Gorgonzola Quesadillas
4 Tortillas
1 (8 oz) Pkg Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese (or maybe bleu, for the Obsessed?)
1 Pear, thinly sliced (fresh or jarred [preserved, not impacted])
1 Tbsp Butter
1 C Pear Sauce (i guess available at TJs?)
1/4 C Candied Walnuts

(from here there are a lot of instructions, but what they boil down to is this)
1. Assemble Quesadilla
2. Cook quesadilla (preferably in a cast iron skillet)

Make it and tell me how it is. K, thx.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Spinach Pasta with Homemade tomato sauce

Spinach Pasta with Homemade Tomato Sauce

I should clarify that my secret ingredient was: spinach pasta.
But also - though I have used most of these ingredients before, I have never used them together in this manner. This was my first time making sauce and melting the goat cheese.

Served with: French Bread with chive and herb goat cheese
Eiswein & Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake.

1 package spinach pasta
4 lage roma tomatoes
1 large red pepper
1 package sliced mushrooms
4 cloves garlic
Basil, salt and pepper to taste
1/2 large yellow onion
1 bag of fresh baby spinach
1/2 loaf french bread
garlic and herb goatcheese
2 tsp sugar

Toss the tomatoes (cut up with the red pepper) in the blender until it becomes a liquid solidified mass. Add some EVOO to the pan and diced onions. Let the onions cook until they are almost clear and add the mushrooms and sauce. dice garlic and include that also. Add spices as you see fit, I added salt, pepper, garlic salt, sugar and basil. Cook until it boils and then reduce to a simmer.

Preheat the oven 350. Line baking sheet with tinfoil. Cut french bread into rounds and place on foil. Put goat cheese on top of the rounds.

Put the french bread in the oven for about 20 minutes. Goat cheese will not melt - much.

Boil water and add pasta, it only takes about 4-5 minutes to make it al dente.

I cooked my spinach in a pan with EVOO and salt and pepper on medium until it turns bright green and wilts slightly.

For dessert we will drink Eiswein and eat cheesecake. Good no?

I shared with with Brian - he didn't have anything left on his plate!

Here is Brian's Haiku about the experience:
Cooking with my gal
reminiscent of old world
yum in my tummy

Here is the review::
On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest)

1. Was this dish appetizing? (1-5) What were your first impressions? (smell, appearance)
The dish looked incredibly fresh, and smelled fantastic! 5

2. Did it taste good? (1-5) What stood out about it? (flavors, heat, textures)
It tasted better than expected. 5/ All fresh ingredients for sauce; robust, earthy flavors; very warm, not too hot; felt mushrooms, onions, garlic & pasta dancing in sauce. 5

3. Did the cook appear flustered or swear at all while making it - did this dish appear challenging? Were you apprehensive? (1-5)
Cook never felt or showed frustration or anger; dish did not appear challenging; I was not apprehensive at all. 5

4. Was the special ingredient new to you? How special do you think it was? (1-5)
Special ingredient was not new to me(spinach pasta), though I have seldom had it; in this dish, it wasn't too special, though it added extra flavor. 4

5. Would you eat this again? What is the leftover potential of this dish? (1-5)
I would definitely eat this again!; What leftovers? 5

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tasty Bruschetta Bread

More love from the Trader Joe's Cookbook!

You will need all of two ingredients:
1 bag of Trader Joe's Pizza Dough
1 jar of Trader Joe's Bruschetta (I like the sun dried tomato, others prefer the olive or the veggie)

Preheat to 425. On a floured surface, roll or man-handle your dough into a rectangle approx 6x15 inches (or whatever will fit on your pizza stone/cookie sheet). Spoon about a 1/2 cup of bruschetta down the middle of the dough. As a crowd pleaser, I usually make half olive, half sun dried tomato. Pull up and pinch the sides of the dough to make a long loaf-like thingie. Pinch well, every single one I've made so far has unpinched itself. Lay it on pizza stone (or cookie sheet) seam-side down. The recipe says to bake for 30-35 minutes, I say start checking in the 20 minute range. Pull it out when the loaf looks browny/done. Let it cool for a few, slice into sections and enjoy.

Like the Winter Frost
This Bread has something hidden
Just below the crust.

I think this recipe would be an EXCELLENT dessert if you swapped the bruschetta for a peanut butter/nutella mix. If someone beats me to the punch on this one, PLEASE POST IT. I have one bag of dough left, and peanut butter, but no nutella.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blue Cheese, Pear & Carmelized Onion Pizza

This pizza was so good that between two of us we ate the whole thing before it had time to get cold. Goes great with beer and movies on the couch on yet another windy and rainy winter evening.

You will need:

1 recipe pizza dough - I cheat and use Trader Joe's pizza-dough, and for this recipe I used whole wheat - makes a medium pizza

1 pear, sliced into thin wedges - I can't imagine any variety of pear that wouldn't work, I had an asian pear which, sliced into smaller wedges, baked up sweet but still firm and juicy.

as much mozarella as you like, shredded - I ended up using one of those individually packaged balls

at least 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed

1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled - I had a delicious Danish Blue on hand, and as this is the first time I have cooked/baked with blue cheese, I wanted to be sure the flavor would not overwhelm the sweetness of the onions and pear. The general consenseus was that the pizza needed a little more blue cheese, but not by much!

1 medium onion, carmelized - slice, cook in 1 tbls butter and 2 tbls olive oil over very-low-heat for about an hour (stirring/flipping occasionally), then cook over medium-high heat (stirring often) until golden brown

***optional*** about 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped small - I wanted a little extra filler but not too much flavor

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

If dough is refrigerated, leave out at room temperature for 1/2 an hour.

Mix in a bowl about two-thirds of the shredded mozarella with the chopped broccoli, add half of crushed/chopped garlic, mix, set aside.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface - as often as I try for a nice circular shape, I usually end up with a rustic rectangle, which fits better on my lightly oiled cookie-sheet anyhow. Once desired geometry is achieved, transfer dough to cookie-sheet, rub surface lightly with olive oil.

Spread all of the mozarella-broccoli mixture first. Then pears, onions, blue cheese. Top with the last of the mozarella and garlic.

Bake for about 10 minutes

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spinach and Spicy Turkey Sausage

I tried this on my husband and a friend of mine and it turned out pretty tasty! The original recipe called for gnocchi or any other pasta you like. I tried a couple different types, finding a long thin noodle (like spaghetti or fettuccine) worked best for me.

2 Tb. Butter
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2-3 Spicy Turkey Sausages, casing removed
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chopped Cremini mushrooms
1 package baby spinach
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1/2 to 1 lb. cooked pasta of choice

1. Melt butter in pan, then add onion. Cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the sausage, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces as it cooks. They should be done in about 5 minutes.
3. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, add the mushrooms and let simmer for a minute or two.
4. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

Serve the Sausage mixture over your choice of pasta. Season with salt and pepper, and (my favorite) a little fresh parmesan or romano cheese. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cooking Challenge: Fabulous Falafel

Well, I am a competitor.
Weather: BFC= Butt Freezing Cold.

Meal: Falafel with Cucumber Yogurt and Tahini Sauces.

Special Ingredient: Turmeric spice and Yogurt (I have truthfully never cooked with either, I have eaten both, but never cooked.)

It is best to start with the Cucumber Yogurt sauce as it should be cold when you finish the rest of the meal.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:
-2 small/medium cucumber
-2/3 Cup plain yogurt
-1/2 Tsp. Dill spice
Optional: 1 tsp fresh mint.

Mix together and chill.

Tahini Sauce:

-1 Cup tahini
-some Lemon
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic
- Salt and pepper
- Water

Finely chop the cloves of garlic. Mix together tahini and garlic. Add 1 tsb. of water at a time until the mixture is like a thick paste. Add lemon juice until delightfully tangy. Add salt and pepper to season to your taste. Set aside. Do no cool as it is better served warm.


1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1 cup vegetable oil for frying

Mix everything together except the oil. Duh. The mixture should be able to stick together, but should not stick to you. Add breadcrumbs as needed. Make little balls of the mixture that are about 1 1/2 inch long and slightly flatten.

Warm up the oil in your deep fryer or, if you're old skool like us, in your skillet. Wait until it's nice and hot. Plop in the falafels and cook until dark brown on the outside.

For serving: Warm up some pita bread, preferable the kind that opens up, and fill with about two spoonfuls of the cucumber yogurt sauce. Put a falafel piece or two inside and top with warm tahini sauce. It's delicious.

Now, you have all read my wonderful recipe, and Taylor, my good friend, was my guinea pig who filled out the survey. Here are her comments that we have posted together:

1. " Yes, this dish was very appetizing. Out of 5 points: 5. My first impression was that it looked and smelled exactly like falafels I've eaten in the past."

2. It tasted delicious. Out of 5 points: 5. It looked a little bit more crumbly that most falafels I'd eaten, but it tasted like a perfect mixture of garbanzo beans and crumbly bread. Also, it wasn't too spicy, which is a problem I have encountered in the past."

3. "No, the cook was very calm, although a bit bewildered when the falafel balls began to crumble. This dish appeared to have taken a lot of effort. Out of 5 points: 4."

4. "The special ingredient was yogurt which is not new to me, but I haven't come across it in cooking besides smoothies, for example. So it was 'special' in the context of the meal. Out of 5 points: 4."

5. "I would definitely eat this again. It was great! However, the leftover potential was not perfect for this size batch, because we finished everything, or maybe we were just really hungry. Out of 5 points: 3."

Meal: Falafels
By: Kelsey Otis
Eaten By: Taylor Norman

Friday, January 18, 2008

Easy Louisa's Tiramisu

This is my own original recipe, which I haven't made since last century, but I am going to make it today.

2 packages ladyfingers, or one sliced pound cake
1 small carton Cool Whip, or 1 pint whipped cream
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cold, strong coffee
2 Tbs. brandy, rum, or liqueur (Kahlua, for example)
1 package Jello flan mix
Powdered cocoa

Note: When I first developed this recipe, there was a product on the market called Jello Americana egg custard, which is what I used. Apparently that product has been discontinued (at least where I shop it has), but the custard mix in Jello flan is the same. So...

1. Prepare the custard in the Jello flan mix according to the instructions, and let cool to lukewarm.
2. Place half of the ladyfingers or pound cake slices on the bottom of an 8-inch square pan.
3. Mix coffee and liquor, and pour half of that mixture over cake.
4. Mix sour cream with Cool Whip or whipped cream, then mix that with the custard. Spread half of that mixture over the cake.
5. Repeat layers.
6. Sprinkle top with powdered cocoa.
7. Cover and chill 4 hours or overnight. That is, chill the tiramisu.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kimberly's Entry

For the competition: Orzo Salad Soup
Desert to follow this: Chocolate Come Volcano Cake

Weather in Tacoma: Grey, cloudy and constant rain

Box of Orzo Pasta
Halved Slepdido Tomatoes
**Cut up Hearts of Palm- never used ingredient
Artichoke Hearts quartered
Perlini Mozzarella Cheese
Chopped Garlic
Cut Scallions
Olives- as many & as small as you want
Olive Oil- enough to keep the pasta loose
Cut up Sun Dried Tomatoes
Diagonally cut Carrots
Veggie Broth
Butternut Squash Soup
Last bit of pasta sauce at the bottom of the jar

Cook the Orzo in water, the bit of pasta sauce, and a bit of veggie broth. Have a large pot of Veggie broth, butternut squash soup (like half a cup, or as much as you like) and combine all the ingredients and mix. Serve warm with preferred kind of bread for dipping.

This will feed you, and another person for about four meals. You can add and subtract what ingredients you prefer. Jack added some Parmesan cheese on top of his. You can also save some of the mixture from the broth and have just Orzo pasta, if your weather is hot.

Come Cake Brownie Explosion

Box of Brownie Mix
Shredded Coconut
**Coconut Milk—never used ingredient
Powered Sugar

Add your preferred amount of shredded coconut to the brownie batter, and include a dash of coconut milk as well. Bake brownie batter in small bunt cake molds.

When brownies are done baking, let them cool for 15-20 minutes before removing from the mold.
Once removed sprinkle brownies with the powered sugar, follow with the shredded coconut. Fill the center of each brownie with the coconut milk- wala! You have make Come Cake Brownie Explosion! To make more indulgent pour warmed chocolate sauce over the top. Enjoy!!


A trader joe's cheater recipe- aka I had ants

So my kitchen is invested with black nasties that I CANNOT stand. My roommates are all MIA currently in foreign countries and we have a pretty big kitchen. so half the food we had has been infested and trashed. as a result - I had to make dinner while cleaning and it had to be safe.

Trader joe's battered tilapia from the frozen section

and 1 jar of Corn Tortilla Soup also from TJs

Together- it was good- but it gave me wicked heartburn, so I put it on a low scale. I think it was the soup -the fish was good...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Holy Hotness!

So, here is my recipe for the Challenge!

Wicked Hot Pasta from Some like it Hot

1 7oz can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo (I have never cooked with this before)
1/2 C Dry Red Wine
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Tbsp Pine Nuts

Cooked Spaghetti
Chunks of cooked chicken (optional)

Chop up the Chipotles. Put the chopped peppers, adobo sauce, wine, tomato paste and pine nuts into a sauce pan over medium heat until warmed through. Add to the pasta. Dump a bunch of cheese on top.

OH MY GOD. It's delicious. And roughly the hottest thing ever made! Review to follow!

Hotter than Hades,
the Cheese doesn't help to cut
Though the searing pain

January Challenge - Staying Ahead of the Weather

For the record, this is not a communist blog. All are not created equal. SOMEONE(S) has to run the show.
That said, the powers that be got together and decided we need to do something to help stimulate more frequent posting.
We are having a food challenge. Probably monthly. I realize its late in the month to start, but you have two weeks to get you crap together.
So here is the Challenge!


Create a dish that helps you beat the weather where you are at using an ingredient you have never used before. Serve it to at least 1 other person, and have them fill out a quick questionairre (we will provide that shortly). We will take an average of the scores given, and pick a winner. The prize will be a gift card to a somehow-approriate venue.

FOR EXAMPLE: Here in Virginia, temperatures are hovering near Absolute Zero on the Kelvin Scale. Co-incidentally, I received a cookbook called "Some Like it Hot". I plan to find a recipe that requires an igredient I have never cooked with before that will sear my senses so entirely that I won't be able to feel the cold till next winter.
If you live in a part of the country/world that is experiencing hot weather, perhaps a cold salad with some odd lettuce? The options are limitless.

To enter, simply post about your culinary adventure by midnight, January 31st. Have your tester rate from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest) your dish in these categories:

1. Was this dish appetizing? (1-5) What were your first impressions? (smell, appearance)
2. Did it taste good? (1-5) What stood out about it? (flavors, heat, textures)
3. Did the cook appear flustered or swear at all while making it - did this dish appear challenging? Were you apprehensive? (1-5)
4. Was the special ingredient new to you? How special do you think it was? (1-5)
5. Would you eat this again? What is the leftover potential of this dish? (1-5)

Bonus if you somehow manage to get your guinea pigs to write a haiku about your dish.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Things I can't cook to save my life

Hashbrowns - the last attempt nearly brought me to tears. Perhaps I am using the wrong potatoes, perhaps I am simply not patient enough...whatever it is, even Joy of Cooking can't save me. I make hopeless hashbrowns.

And pancakes! So simple and yet, most batches come out somewhat edible but neither golden-brown fluffy nor shaped like anything resembling a pancake.

(Yet I was able to make an omelette beautifully for the first-time-ever a few days ago. Everything about it was perfect, and it almost looked too pretty to eat. What gives?)

So there you have it - breakfast is my weakness, and unless you like oatmeal or toast, I suggest you only come over for dinner.

What seemingly simple things have you been defeated by in your kitchen?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Cha Shu Bao

I remember these Cantonese bread dumplings from childhood, but I currently live in a place where dim sum is nearly impossible to find. My nostalgia finally compelled me to dig into the very confusing Encyclopedia of Chinese Food and Cooking that I purchased at a garage sale. These tasty doughy treats can be stuffed with just about anything, and are great additions to your quick-meal reserves in the freezer. A short steam, and you've got a warm easy meal.

First, the dough:

Yes, it is a word problem of sorts. This cookbook makes me run in circles just trying to keep track of the next step. Let me translate...

Chinese Bread - Man To - recipe from Peking

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pkg. dry yeast
2 tablespoons melted butter

Sift the flour, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl.

Mix the warm water and 2 tablespoons sugar in measuring cup. Stir in yeast slowly, mix well.

Add melted butter to the yeast mixture.

Hollow out center of the flour mixture, add the yeast mixture, mix thoroughly.

Knead lightly on floured board until dough is smooth and elastic. DO NOT OVER-KNEAD (like I did - the dough will be more chewy than fluffy)

Place dough in greased bowl, cover, and let rise at room temp. until it doubles in bulk, about 1 to 1.5 hours.

Divide dough into 20 3-4 inch round pieces and let rise again while you prepare the filling.

The Filling:

Traditionally, the filling is made up of red bean curd cheese (1 tbls) , sugar (1/2 tsp.), cornstarch (1 tbls.), water (3 tbls.), and chopped BBQ pork (2 cups). Stir fry, then let cool before filling each dough ball with 1 tbls. of the filling mixture, pressing it into the center of the dough and then smoothing over to seal it in.

I shredded some leftover pork rib meat, chopped up some leftover molasses-glazed sweet potatoes, and mixed it all in with a touch of plum sauce, salt and pepper. I imagine there are all kinds of tasty variations on this theme, and vegetarian options would be pretty simple as well.

If you want to freeze some dumplings for later, arrange them on a cookie sheet and stick it the freezer, once frozen toss them into a bag for easy storage.

To cook, simply steam in a steamer or steamer basket over rapidly boiling water for 15 minutes. I can recall microwaving the Cha Shu Baos my mother would buy, but have not yet tried to cook this home-made version that way.