Monday, June 16, 2008

Asian recipe ideas?

This weekend, I am hosting a cooking "class" for a couple friends of mine. We settled on an Asian themed menu, with chicken being the only meat involved.

Anyone have any killer recipe ideas for me?


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

White Sangria

Can you believe it...I TOTALLY forgot to post my sangria recipe last night....and get this - I WAS DRINKING IT AS I WAS BLOGGING! I know...crazy. That's what I get for drinking and blogging!

Anyway, I have had some BAD sangria in my life. I am NOT a fan of sweet wines, so a lot of it grosses me out. But this recipe is SO good. No's naturally sweet, but not TOO sweet! It's so light and refreshing for summer...a definite must-try! It's quite customizable, too. I've altered it a few times.

White Sangria recipe

1 bottle (750 ml) sauvignon blanc wine or champagne
4 oz. peach schnapps
6 oz. apricot brandy (I couldn't find this, so I used some extra schnapps and regular brandy)
8 oz. pineapple juice
(I have replaced this with OJ and OJ/Mango juice before)
2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
4 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
1 orange, sliced into rounds
1 small peach, pitted, diced
(I replaced this with a mango before - would also be good with a green apple)
2 vanilla beans, split

1 peach, sliced
Several springs of mint for garnish

In a large bowl or pitcher, combine ingredients and let chill for at least one hour. Strain well and serve over plenty of ice. Garnish with peach slices and sprigs of mint.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

California Roll Salad

Okay. Here is my last post for the evening. This stuff is SOOOOOOOOO good. My friend made it at her birthday party, and OH so amazing. It tastes just like sushi, but in salad form.

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons rice vinegar* (not seasoned)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (preferably unhulled*)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled ginger*
4 scallions, cut lengthwise into thin 1-inch strips (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
1 large seedless cucumber (about 1 pound), quartered lengthwise,
cored, and chopped
2 sheets nori (paper-thin sheets of dried seaweed)*
1 avocado (preferably California)
1/4 pound surimi (mock crab legs) if desired, sliced thin

For dressing
2 teaspoons wasabi (Japanese green horseradish) powder*
1 tablespoon hot water
2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons ginger juice (squeezed from freshly grated gingerroot)

*available at Asian markets, natural foods stores, and some supermarkets

Into a large saucepan of salted boiling water stir rice and boil
10 minutes. Drain rice in a colander and rinse. Set colander over a kettle of boiling water (rice should not touch water) and steam rice, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, 10 to
15 minutes (check water level in kettle occasionally, adding water if necessary).

While rice is steaming, in a small saucepan bring 1/4 cup vinegar to a boil with sugar and salt, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and remove from heat. In a dry small skillet toast sesame seeds over moderate heat, stirring, until golden and fragrant and transfer to a small bowl.

Transfer rice to a large bowl and stir in vinegar mixture. Cool rice and stir in sesame seeds, remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar, oil, ginger, scallions, carrot, and cucumber. Salad may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before proceeding.

Dry-roast nori, 1 sheet at a time, directly above moderate heat (gas or electric burner), holding it at opposite corners and moving it back and forth, until it turns bright green, 30 seconds to 1 minute. With scissors cut nori into thin 2-inch-long strips.

Peel and pit avocado. Quarter avoado and cut crosswise into thin slices. Add avocado to salad with surmimi if using and two thirds of nori strips and toss well.

Make dressing:
In a small bowl stir wasabi powder into hot water and stir in cold water, soy sauce, and ginger juice.

Serve salad sprinkled with remaining nori strips and drizzled with dressing.

July 1994

Another garden update!

As you can see, we have some additions to our garden! First of all, let's welcome Norm the Gnome! He is here to look after the garden, chase away the snails, and so on. :) (And say hi to Chloe up there on the left...she thinks it's her job to sporadically run through the plants. Ack!) Those tomato plants are getting freaking HUGE! And the cilantro is like a tree. Troy also planted a leek (from the grocery store!) which is getting nice and big. We now have gourds growing in the little pots. The soybeans are finally making progress again, which is a good thing. I am looking forward to that edamame!

Here you can see we only have one lonely lettuce plant. The snails ate that stuff up! What? So, we planted a whole new batch (on the other side of the cilantro monster) and it's doing great!

Check out my little tomatoes. :) This guy is about ping pong ball size.
and some spry young new 'maters.

My jalapenos were going slow for a while there...2 peppers for about a month, but all of a sudden, we have 9! and more on the way!!!

We ended up having to add a new tier to our garden, because T kept bringing home new plants! We now have several types of basil, sage, parsley, and dill, along with these sweet peas. T pulled some of these sprouts out of our salad sprouts and planted them. They went wild! He built this fence for them out of bamboo plucked off our beach. Doesn't it look nice?

See how cute the tiny little tendrils are, just starting to grab onto their frame? Aw, I love them! Too bad I'm not a big pea fan. :P

And, our cute little pineapple. :) (I don't like them either...but it's fun to watch them grow!)

Stay tuned for more! I have a feeling there will be some harvesting going on soon! (By the way...the radishes are about done...the boys have been picking those every day...they are almost gone already! And I dont' even eat them!)

Wonton Chicken Salad

The other item I chose to make for the birthday party was Wonton Chicken Salad, a dish my mom used to often make for potlucks when I was a kid. I remember how delicious it was, and couldn't wait to try it again!!!


3 chicken breasts
1 head lettuce
4 chopped green onions
1/4 - 1/2 pkg. won ton noodles
2 Tblsp. slivered almonds

4 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Accent (I don't know if that is still around or not -- it's a flavor enhancer)
6 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 clove garlic

Bake chicken breasts; season with salt and pepper. Shred skinned chicken.
Deep fry won ton noodles. Make a tossed salad of lettuce, chicken, onions and almonds. Top with noodles. Finish with dressing.

Super easy...super good! Sorry I have no pics, but really, you must try it!!!!

More cupcakes!

Now, huge jump to almost present. I didn't take photos for a long time...I apologize. I did cook the rest of my homemade pasta...SO good. Wow. I also made some AMAZING Tres Leches cupcakes for Cinco de Mayo. I arranged a little fiesta that night. I made crab enchiladas and margaritas, and played mariachi music. Oh yes. Party at my house! I don't have any pics, but if you are interested, here is the cuppy recipe. OMG. These are melt-in-your-mouth gooey sticky incredible cupcakes. I HIGHLY recommend them!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tres Leches Coconut Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream
Recipe courtesy Lorie Roach, Buckatunna, MS
Show: Ultimate Recipe Showdown
Episode: Ultimate Recipe Showdown: Cakes
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup coconut milk

1 cup lightly toasted flaked coconut (Mounds or Angel Flake brand)

Dulce de Leche Buttercream:
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle brand)
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed; add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until all the yellow disappears. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add alternately with the buttermilk to the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the flour.

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into cake batter.

Fill standard paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack that has been placed over a baking sheet to cool.

While cupcakes are still warm, stir together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the coconut milk. Using a meat injector needle, inject each cupcake in several different spots with about 1/2 to 3/4-ounce of the mixture. Or, poke several holes in the top of each of the cupcakes with a 1/4-inch wooden skewer. Pour the milk mixture over each cupcake while they are still warm, filling each hole. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before icing.

For the Buttercream:Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. To make the dulce de leche, pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie plate and cover with foil. Place in a larger roasting pan where pie plate can sit flat. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to a depth of about halfway up the pie plate. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Stir until smooth.

Place egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl. Stir the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a small, heavy saucepan. Whisk in the water first, then the dulce de leche and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk the dulce de leche mixture into the 2 egg yolks. Stir in the vanilla. Strain through a wire mesh strainer into a small bowl and set aside to cool completely.

Beat the butter on high speed in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled dulce de leche mixture. Beat in the 1 cup powdered sugar until smooth and spreadable.

Frost each cupcake with a generous amount of dulce de leche buttercream. Refrigerate any remaining buttercream for another use. Sprinkle each cupcake with toasted coconut.


And then...last weekend, my coworker had a birthday party, and asked everyone to bring food. When I asked around, everyone told me I MUST make my Vanilla Nut Martini Cupcakes. My friend's name is Liz, and her nickname is Lizard, so I decided to decorate the cuppys with a little candy lizard! After advice from friends, I melted some white chocolate with green food coloring and put it in a pastry bag. I enlisted my husband to help me trace some little lizards. As you can see, he went a bit wild.

But, I chose the best ones, and put them on top of my cuppys (frosted with Vanilla Bean Frosting, of course!) and they were a hit!

Liz loved the lizard reference, and everyone else was in awe of the cupcakes. I really had no idea the effect they were having on people! As my boss said, "it was like a ray of sunbeam bursting through the clouds." Wow. Seriously, people!

Garden update!

My little garden has been growing! The tomatoes have at least doubled in size, and the radishes are growing like crazy!

You can see that we now have green onions (thanks to the roommie...he planted them right out of the grocery store produce department!) and a pineapple plant! Oh, and I forgot to mention, we also have peppermint and oregano.

Homemade Veggie Burgers

Thanks to Alanna over at Two Fat Als (how can you not love a girl named Alanna, for reals?), I found this recipe for Veggie Burgers. Considering that my roomie is a veggie, and I have never tried a nasty frozen veggie patty, I decided to give homemade veggie burgers a go. Anything homemade is better than frozen, right? If I'm going to try veggie burgers, they better be effing good.

So. Here I am...sauteeing onions, celery, garlic and leeks.

Bulgur and lentils...

Sexy little patties in the skillet.

These babies fall apart really easy...more like Manwiches than burgers, but still, really tasty!!! I served them like any other burger...lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

I <3 Orchids

I just have to share how much I love my orchid.

This little beauty is doing so well. It amazes me that new buds keep blossoming, and the first flowers are still doing just as well. I love it.



So, we planted a garden.

A pretty little garden.

It started so simple...just a few herbs, tomatoes, and such.

Here it is, all shiny and new.

Stay tuned for updates. You know how gardens grow....with silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row.

(And tomatoes, jalapenoes, basil, cilantro, radishes, soybeans, lettuce, carrots, etc.)

Mac & Cheese - unhealthy but OH SO GOOD

So, while we are on the subject of the boys being out of town and me being at home....let me just say, I ate about as unhealthy as one could imagine. Strange, but M is the one who wants a square meal, veggies and all. So, I decided to make some greasy, ooey gooey mac and cheese for myself while I was home alone.

I ROUGHLY followed this recipe, though I used whatever I had/wanted to use.
  • 1 Box Elbow Macaroni, I think 8 oz, but maybe more
  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 2+/- Tbsp. Flour
  • 1 1/2 C. Milk
  • 1/4 C. Cream (I used milk)
  • 1-2 tsp. Dry Mustard
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • 2 C. Shredded White Cheddar (I used all sorts of good stuff...gouda, provolone, etc.)
  • 1/2 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 C. Grated Romano Cheese
  • Panko breadcrumbs, enough to coat top
Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  1. Cook macaroni according to package and drain. Pour into a large casserole dish and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  3. Stir in the flour, adding slowly until mixture is smooth and a little thick.
  4. Slowly whisk in the milk, bringing to a gentle boil, thickening the sauce. When it is smooth and creamy, mix in the cream.
  5. Stir in the mustard and salt and pepper to your tastes.
  6. Stir in the cheeses until melted.
  7. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni in the casserole pan. Sprinkle panko on the top of the mac n cheese until a you get a nice coating.
  8. Bake in oven until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Stirring together the butter and flour.

Mixing the cheeses together.

Melted cheese, butter, flour, salt & pepa

The whole concoction, ready to go into the oven.

All toasty and ready to eat. OMG, yum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Girls' Brunch

Okay. Let me preface this by apologizing for being SOOOO bad about blogging. It's amazing how actually working at your job keeps you from doing personal stuff on the internet. Serio. But, finally I have some free time...the hubs is playing Wii, so I have some time to kill online. w00t!

So, let's backtrack WAY back when to the day I had a girl's brunch. The hubs and the roommate were both on a mancation in Hawaii (yes, a MANCATION in HAWAII - without me!!!), so I decided to have some fun of my own. I decided to invite every cool chick I knew to come over and eat food at my house.

I started raiding blogs everywhere for delish breakfast recipes. I made SO much good stuff. Really. Naturally, I made cupcakes. First up, as you see in the top left corner, I made Mimosa cupcakes - the recipe can be found on the Cupcake Project. These were a big hit! I also made Ricotta Babycakes, and used a whole strawberry instead of mixed berries. I got this recipe from Baking Bites. SO good. As you can see, I had several toppings....for pancakes, of course!
And, what's a brunch without some sort of eggy-potatoey casserole? I made this awesome Brown Egg Frittatta from Bean's Bistro (although I didn't use brown eggs - gasp!). But, LOTS of compliments on this one!

And of course, gotta have coffee! (Though I must say...the mimosas seemed to be the much more popular option!)

Altogether, brunch was a blast! I had friends stay until 5 pm. I don't know why us girls don't do this more often!

Be Warned

Just a warning, in case anyone happens to be stalking my blog...(at this point, I'm lucky if there are more than 2 of you...) Be prepared for some blog vomit! I'm gearing up to go hog wild with posts! :)