Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Pasta Puttanesca (2)

I've shared a pasta puttanesca post in the past. I mentioned in that post that there is some debate on what ingredients are supposed to be tossed into the sauce. Frankly, I think that if whores were really making this pasta, they weren't going to be fancy snobs about their ingredients. I think that whatever was in the pantry is what ended up in the sauce. And that is the philosophy I took on the particular day that I decided to document this recipe (again).

We had eggplants and mushrooms begging to be used (as they were about to go off) and I found a pathetic amount of cherry peppers sitting in the bottom of a lonely jar in the back of the fridge so I just went with it.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
1 lb. pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
6 anchovy fillets
½ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
½ onion, diced
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 baby eggplant, diced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons chopped pickled hot cherry peppers (or olives)
8 oz. can tomato sauce
+ parmesan shavings

Monday, December 28, 2015

What I Ate: Fig & Chorizo Pizza with Apple Honey

So for Christmas, the kitchen got a new stand mixer. I'd been debating buying one for years because they're expensive and I feel like I can definitely get by without it. However, the whisk attachment on our hand mixer keeps losing wires and Black Friday yielded great sales so I bit the bullet and threw $250 at a new Kitchenaid Artisan stand mixer.

The day we went to pick up the mixer (I did 'ship to store') we also stopped by Christmas Tree Shops to pick up a tree topper and found a pizza stone for $10. So, that weekend, we decided to christen both the mixer and the stone by making pizza.
I love our little mixer. I don't really know why we didn't bite the bullet earlier because it's been so handy. I mean, sometimes I love to knead dough, but doing it by hand takes a long time.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Christmas!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas!
We're hosting a family Christmas party for the second year in a row. Last year was great and I think everyone had a good time so I hope it goes well again this year. We're doing an Asian theme for our dinner with some interpretations of our favorite Vietnamese, Thai, and Korean dishes, which should make our Korean elders happy.
Also, the kitchen has received two new major gifts this holiday: a brand new Kitchenaid stand mixer (the KSM150PS 5 quart artisan mixer in aqua sky) and an amazing new Belgian waffle maker (by Hamilton Beach purchased via Amazon) so look forward to some fun recipes in the near future.

Have a great holiday!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What I Ate: Gingerbread Houses

There's nothing more Christmas appropriate than gingerbread, at least in terms of dessert. The warm fragrant spices always remind me of the holidays and they go great with any hot drink, whether you're into tea, coffee, or even hot toddies.

This year, instead of regular gingerbread cookies, we decided to make gingerbread houses. I wanted to make a slightly larger house to use as a centerpiece for our Christmas party this weekend. And then, my sister and I decided to make mini houses so that we could enjoy the shape but also comfortably snack on them.
We spent a few hours making the dough, breaking for dinner, cutting out the shapes, baking the cookies, and then decorating. It was a fun and relaxing evening activity that yielded an adorable little Christmas village.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lemongrass Pork Bánh Mì with Sriracha Cilantro Aioli

I'm so excited because it's Christmas week! I love this holiday because of the time with family, the food, and the presents. My family isn't that big on gifts but we always get each other a little something. And, we're having a family party this weekend, which will be a lot of fun. And, I'm taking off from work between Christmas and New Year's, which is a total of 11 days out of the office. I'm super excited and I hope to relax and make lots of delicious meals.

I'm also really excited about today's post. I'm not going to lie; even though I ate way too much of this banh mi the night I made it, I ate even more for lunch the next day and then I was craving it for days after it was gone. In fact, I'm still currently craving it because it came out amazingly delicious.

On the day I wanted to make this for dinner, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some bread and the store was out of baguettes. It didn't matter because I just grabbed a soft Italian loaf instead, which worked out great because store bought baguettes tend to be a little too tough for banh mi, which typically require a softer bread with a crisp crust. We also lucked out because we had chicken liver mousse in the fridge (leftover from Thanksgiving) which made a perfect substitute for pate. And, to make this post a little bit more special and make it worth sharing even though I already shared a banh mi post, I decided to whip up a Sriracha and cilantro aioli to drizzle over the sandwich.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
marinated pork
1 lb. center cut pork chops
½ teaspoon minced lemongrass
1 teaspoon roasted red chili paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon sesame oil

banh mi
soft baguette-style bread
pate or chicken liver mousse
2 baby cucumbers, sliced
2 jalapenos, sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves
pickled carrot & daikon

sriracha cilantro aioli
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Sriracha
¼ to ⅓ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Friday, December 18, 2015

What I Ate: Barbecue Chicken Casserole

I bought my cast iron skillet earlier this year and I have been in love with it. I've mostly been using it for salsa chicken. But recently, when we didn't have any salsa in the pantry, I grabbed a bottle of honey barbecue sauce instead and it yielded a really delicious alternative. I also tossed in some frozen corn and chopped tomatoes for a bit more sustenance. And, instead of plain rice, I made a batch of coconut peas & rice.
This made an amazing midweek dinner because it was so simple to slap together. On top of that, it was warm and comforting and a perfect wintertime meal.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Donkatsu (2)

This is one of the most popular dinners at our house because it's crazy easy but even more so because it's delicious. We love doing katsu curry but since my old donkatsu post needed revamping, I decided to document and share.

I used to serve donkatsu in individual portions, meaning everyone got their own chop, but lately I've just been cutting the pork into pieces, piling it high on a plate, and then serving it family style. It's easier to eat - you don't need a fork and knife - and it's extremely helpful if you're trying to stretch your budget because you can always pound the chops extra thin to create more surface area for the breading and ultimately make more pieces.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
2 center-cut pork chops
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
oil for frying

¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons A1
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons grated carrot
2 tablespoons grated apple
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 scallion, chopped
+ spring mix
+ cucumber

Monday, December 14, 2015

Texas Roadhouse Rolls

I made these rolls for our Thanksgiving dinner a few weeks ago. We'd made cornbread last year and I think we had biscuits the year before so I was looking for something different. Then, I recalled the Texas Roadhouse copycat rolls we'd made a couple of years ago. I adapted the recipe from Eat Cake For Dinner and they turned out pretty great. So, even though I didn't take a v. complete photo diary (you have to forgive me because Thanksgiving is so hectic), I'm sharing them today.

One thing to note: these rolls freeze beautifully (prior to the second rise). They can also be made the day before and left to do their second rise in the fridge overnight, which is what I did and it worked out wonderfully. They bake up golden brown (once thawed to room temperature) and I can't wait to make these over and over again this winter (especially after my kitchen gets its Christmas gift, which is a stand mixer; yes, I finally caved and ordered one).
Ingredients [yields 1 dozen rolls]:
1¼ cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
3 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
+ 2 tablespoons melted butter

cinnamon butter
¼ cup butter
1 tablespoon honey (or golden syrup)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Friday, December 11, 2015

George Michael Eats: Pupcakes

In celebration of George Michael's eight birthday, I decided to make him some pupcakes. GM is not a picky dog. He loves eating 80% of the scraps off of my cutting board, especially cucumber and apple (but never ever mushroom). He'll munch on pieces of lettuce, he loves carrot, and he will do anything for a potato chip. So, I knew that whatever I made for him, he'd love.

I ended up combining a few of his favorite flavors: apple, carrot, and peanut butter, and made them into adorable mini cupcakes. These little cakes are gluten-free and relatively "healthy" for dogs, since they contain mostly natural ingredients. Obviously, as with humans, treats should always be enjoyed in moderation. Plus, we gave away half to GM's friend Baxter and his cousin Coco so there's no need to worry about his winter weight gain (yet).
Ingredients [yields 1 dozen mini pupcakes]:
¼ cup applesauce
½ cup grated carrot
2 tablespoons peanut butter (natural, unsweetened)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup oats
½ cup brown rice flour
+ 1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles

¼ cup softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon milk
+ food coloring
+ dehydrated blueberries (for decorating)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sticky Toffee Pudding

While we were in Grand Cayman last month, we enjoyed sticky toffee pudding two nights in a row (at two different restaurants). As a British territory, we did see a few UK-related bits and bobs here and there (including Queen E on the currency) but I think the most memorable was this amazing dessert.

I knew I was going to have to try and recreate it at home so I did a little research to make sure that I could make a super fluffy cake and a really decadent toffee good enough to rival the amazing memories we made whilst on holiday. I discovered that most sticky toffee puddings are made with dates (which I'm sure are what make this super sticky and sweet). As I always do with English cuisine, I turned to the Nigella Lawson to guide me through. I strayed from her recipe a bit to try and mimic the cakes we enjoyed on the islands (which consisted of insanely fluffy and airy cakes with the densest, richest, treacle-y toffee sauce) and came up with something pretty spectacular, and also a bit more suited to my American tastes (re: mainly, I largely increased the ingredient amounts to yield larger portions)*.
225g pitted dates (2¼ cups)
225 mL water (1 cup)
2 teaspoons baking soda
6 tablespoons softened butter
225g dark brown sugar (1¼ cups lightly packed)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons golden syrup
3 eggs, room temperature
225g flour (1½ to 1¾ cups)

toffee sauce
75g dark brown sugar (⅜ cup lightly packed)
3 tablespoons butter
pinch salt
2 tablespoons golden syrup
75 mL heavy cream (⅓ cup)

Monday, December 7, 2015

What I Ate: Thai Food

In the summer, my food cravings are much more reasonable; I usually get spurts of really wanting watermelon, salads, and ice cream. In the winter, because I want comfort in the form of food, I tend to crave more elaborate dishes, like spicy chili or apple cider donuts. Basically, I just want foods that take a while to prepare and require a trip to the grocery store.

On this particularly chilly Saturday, I was in the mood for Thai food. So, during our weekly grocery trip, we stocked up on the necessary ingredients to whip up a yummy Thai meal.
I made Thai green curry with salmon, coconut & lemongrass soup, and drunken noodles.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Apple Butter

I shared a recipe for applesauce earlier this week and today, I'm sharing how you can turn that applesauce into apple butter. It's super easy because all you need to do is pull out the slow cooker.

I used about half the batch of applesauce I made and it made about half a pint of apple butter, which I think is plenty for consumption in our house. However, if you want to give this out as gifts, you'll need a heck of a lot of apples (or really tiny jars).

If you've never had apple butter, I highly recommend you try it. It's just like a highly concentrated applesauce that gets really rich and caramel-colored and thick enough to spread onto bread. My sister asked why they don't just call it "apple jam" because there's no butter involved. I suppose it's because apple jam already exists (probably made by adding pectin to thicken up the apples as they cook).
Ingredients [yields ½ pint]:
½ batch applesauce
cinnamon stick
orange rind with cloves
+ ¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed (optional)
+ slow cooker

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


We had a little under a dozen apples leftover from our major apple picking trip and a few of them had gone mealy. The perfect solution for mealy apples is to make applesauce!

I can eat a plain apple without needing to sprinkle it with sugar, so when I make applesauce, which is a much more concentrated apple flavor, I don't see the need to add any sugar. However, if you prefer a sweeter applesauce, I recommend adding brown sugar, as it adds a nicer caramel flavor which nicely complements the apples.

I've been mostly enjoying this applesauce as a snack. However, it can also be used to top pork chops, as an additive to the marinade for jeyuk bokkeum (instead of freshly grated apple), or it can be used in baking as a substitute for oil. The oil substitute use is one I tend to apply to boxed cake mixes but can certainly be used for homemade batters as well. Applesauce can also be cooked down further to become apple butter. I'll be sharing that in my next post!
Ingredients [yields approximately 4 pints]:
5 lbs. apples
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of 1 orange
½ cup orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon grated ginger
+ ¼ cup brown sugar (optional)
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