Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gnocci Caprese

Sorry for the grainy pictures, but I made this last night and it was so delicious I decided I'd post it. Right now, Jeff is on a cruise so I've been cooking for 1, and trying to eat a bit healthier (sort of), but also easy. I got home kind of late from hanging out with some friends and decided to make this-- quick, easy, tasty!

Gnocci Caprese (basically). It's just boiled packaged gnocci-- and I don't usually post things like this on my foodblog, kind of for the same reason I don't post sandwiches on. To me, you just throw a bunch of ingredients together, it doesn't really seem like doing anything that other people can't do just as easily.

But since it's cheap, since it's easy. I figured, why not share? This is what I do when I'm not making foodblog meals. This is what I do when I'm really busy or tired or alone. I make simple meals-- usually out of pasta.

This is just some gnocci, some mozzarella balls, some basil leaves, some diced tomatoes, and some of those tomatoes were roasted with some balsamic and olive oil and onions. Mix it all together, top it with some parmesan cheese, voila!

And because of that, it's-- it's so quick and delightfully easy, I am not posting a recipe. I just posted the recipe! You can put any amount of anything in, just follow the basic directions and you can make this too!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

M&M Cookies


As you can tell, I make a lot of cookies. As far as desserts go, they're easy to make, tasty, last awhile, and portable. I don't have to make multiple parts and they're not all that messy. Plus, Jeff likes them, and requests them and/or different types often.

These little morsels have peanut butter M & Ms. They're all crunchy and M&M like, but filled with peanut butter. Which is pretty much perfect for me (though I kind of love all types of M&Ms, especially regular ones when curled up at home or peanut ones at the movie theater with popcorn).

The dough I made a little more sweet (a bit of extra sugar and brown sugar), with extra vanilla as well. Since there wasn't a lot of chocolate in these, I wanted to up the sweetness factor a little more. It made them spread a little bit more, and a bit chewier, but they were still scrumptious. Needless to say, I don't have any left anymore.

This is basically the same recipe I use for chocolate chip cookies, but...

M & M Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoon white sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste (I used a bit of both)
M & Ms

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla and continue beating until thoroughly combined. Stir in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until all mixed together. Gently stir in the M & Ms

Take tablespoon full amounts of cookie dough and place evenly on a cookie tray. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes, until just golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Guacamole!!

I don't think I ever had guacamole when I was growing up. I can't remember my parents ever making it-- but I also don't remember there ever being a point where I was like, hey, what's guacamole? It was one of those things that I eventually came upon and fell in love with.
I never had a lot of avacados growing up either. I remember the first time I got avacado on something-- it was a French Skillet at Village Inn. It came with two scrambled eggs, fried chicken pieces, ham pieces, and hollandaise sauce. I added avacados-- it was probably a heart attack waiting to happen.
I now know the avacados were probably saving me from th rest (har har). My dad always commented on how bad avacados were for you, because they were full of fat. So when I (needlessly) worried about my weight in college, they were something I stayed far away from.

Then I got real. I was trying to be healthy and I found out how GOOD avacados are for us. They're a healthy fat, a delicious one. And guacamole is a wonderful way of enjoying avacados. One of my favourite things about living out here in LA is-- dun dun, all the avacados! You can get them anywhere all the time here! I don't think they were that common in Colorado!

Since guacamole is just a mix of fruits/herbs/vegetables/peppers/whatever, its a quick easy thing that tastes good on burgers, eggs, or chips, or heck, by the spoonfull. Today I enjoyed my guacamole on some pita bread with melted cheddar, parmesan, and feta cheeses. It was like a greek meets west thing. But it made me happy.

My guacamole is pretty generic, and usually Jeff and I just scoop it by the chipful. I think I end up eating 70% of it, though he swears otherwise. I pull large chunks of guacamole out at a time when I have it. Unlike his modest dips. I think my ratio of guacamole to chip might be out of this world.

Anyway, I'm not really sure what else to say about guacamole. I know that, since it's Summer, I'm going to be eating it all the time. Something about summer makes me go "time for guacamole and smoothies!". Oh, and pina coladas.

Guacamole

1/2 medium sized tomato, chopped fine
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 avocado
The juice of 1/2 a lime
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, minced
a small handful of cilantro, torn or chopped into liittle pieces
1/8 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Ready for this step, it's easy!
Combine all ingredients. Mix with a fork. Dip a chip in and enjoy!

Edit
Thank you!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Meatloaf Woah Woah!


For Jeff's birthday I gave him a book of "food coupons". These consisted of Shepard's Pie, meatloaf, cookies, cobbler, just... anything I knew he likes. Lamb Risotto! His first coupon that he used was meatloaf. I hadn't made meatloaf for awhile, and I really like making it... well, basically a loaf of meat. I use four types of meat-- though I used to use three. And I like that, I like my loaf of meat.

This time I did the Alton Brown method too and shaped it in a loaf then baked it not in the loaf pan. I didn't elevate it, which kind of sucked because there was a lot of grease in the bottom of the pan. But oh well!

I made mashed potatoes with this! I mixed a little of cream cheese and sauteed garlic and onion. They were served alongside the yumminess. With a dollop of ketchup, and a good show-- it turned out to be a really nice eat at home meal.

The only complaint I do have, and I'm not sure which meat it was from, is I kept finding strings of cartilage like substance. That hasn't happened to me before, and it was very curious to me.

Meatloaf

1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb ground buffalo
1/4 lb ground turkey
1/4 lb ground lamb
1 egg
1/8 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon diced green onion
1/2 onion, diced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup

Oven at 350 Degrees Fahrenheit

Combine all the ingredients besides the brown sugar and ketchup in a mixing bowl. Knead thoroughly, and when combined place in a loaf pan and shape. Remove from the loaf pan (a silicone one helps nicely here), and cook on a cookie sheet, elevated if possible, for about an hour.
Meanwhile, mix together the brown sugar and ketchup. In the last 15 minutes of roasting, top with the sauce mix and allow to finish off.
Serve hot with mashed potatoes!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know I'm a little late on the Bacon In Everything Bandwagon, buuuuuuuuuut........

At work, my bosses Dave, Hend, and Matt were all talking about bacon chocolate chip cookies. We had talked about this awhile ago, and it was very interesting to hear that they were all so interested in trying them. I'd also gotten Jeff a bacon chocolate bar for his birthday so decided I'd try them in cookies. I really like bacon, but I wasn't a huge fan of the bacon chocolate bar. The bacon in it was chewy and it was a kinda strange...


But in the cookies it was pretty tasty! The bacon was still a little chewy-- and next time I may try a more savory spice rub as opposed to the sweet one. I think it made the bacon stand out a little less. Or maybe even like a smoked bacon, that would be quite tasty. I added the cardamom to kind of flow with the spices and flavors-- plus, cardamom goes with everything!

Besides all that, the actual texture of these cookies? Amazing! I made this recipe up in Denver too (without the bacon and cardamom) for my new little brothers (my parents adopted!!) and it turned out really good, so I think I'm sticking with it. These cookies aren't bready at all, and have just the right amount of crunch and flavor. It only took like four tries!!

Overall, I was super pleased with them. They disappeared at work, and Dave, Matt, and Hend seemed to love them. I brought them in on my last day and it was a nice little farewell present.

Aw, I miss DJ & the Fro. But now at least I get to cook again....


Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
3 strips of bacon
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
ground pepper


In a small cup or vessel, mix together the molasses and brown sugar. Lightly coat the bacon with the sugar mixture and play on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees while mixing the cookies, until crispy and cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack with some paper towels. Crumble and remove any sticky, fatty parts.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom.

In a seperate bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla and continue beating until thoroughly combined. Stir in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until all mixed together. Gently stir in the chocolate chips and bacon.

Take tablespoon full amounts of cookie dough and place evenly on a cookie tray. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes, until just golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Jeff's Funfetti Cake


Jeff's favorite cake is Funfetti. Of course, when I say this, I mean the Pillsbury version. For the first Birthday of his we had together I made him a non Pillsbury version with a slightly oily frosting that I wasn't 100% sold on. The cake was nice and fluffy though. I've had problems with the same recipe of the cake since then... it always seems to lay a little thicker in other climates. I'm still playing with it, and it's super tasty-- just... thick.

But this is basically my go to recipe for white cakes now. It's soft and tasty, and once I've figured out the little problems it'll be even better. For now, this is what you get... the super tasty funfetti cake.

See the cute stegosaurus I made? I piped it on after mixing the white frosting with orange food coloring. I also added the little blue sprinkles to be the spikes. I also put those same blue sprinkles in the cake and it turned it blue (see below). but Jeff and I kinda liked that. As you can see this is a pretty dense cake, but ohhh is it tasty!!

Happy Birthday a month ago Jeff! :D


Funfetti Cake

2 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups super fine sugar
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups buttermilk
¼ cup cream
colored sprinkles

Oven at 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Stir in the vanilla. Mix together the buttermilk and cream, then pour into the sugar mixture, alternating with the dries.
Stir after each addition until just combined. Beat egg whites separately, until soft peaks form, then fold into the batter. Fold in the sprinkles. Bake 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool thoroughly before frosting.

Funfetti Frosting

1 cup unsalted softened butter
10-20 oz powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
colored sprinkles

Beat the butter until creamy, mix in the vanilla extract and salt, then add the sugar in batches until thick. Beat in the cream until smooth, then fold in the colored sprinkles.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Waffles topped with Strawberries and Bananas


I really love waffles. Both Jeff and I love waffles... actually one of the first times I hung out with Jeff was at a waffle party where he invited us over and made a lot of people waffles (from bisquick mix I believe). It was tasty, it was fun, and we haven't done it since we've moved to Los Angeles-- which is really unfortunate.

But every now and again I'll make waffles. I think that it's because sometimes when I make waffles I'll separate out the egg whites and beat those so that there'll be more rise and crisp to the waffle. I can't remember if I did that this time (I made these a little while ago), but I included it just in case I did. If you want to omit that step and just use 3 whole eggs, feel free. Because I may have. I made these on May 9th, the day before Jeff's birthday. One of the reasons I did was because his friend Nick was in town, and we all decided waffles would be a delicious way to start the day! I also made funfetti cake this day, which will be in the next post....

But eating waffles really brings me back. When I was a kid, my dad would always make waffles from a waffle mix, which I didn't mention in my Pumpkin Waffles post. He'd heat up his square skillet (with not-so-deep holes) and make us these square waffles that we coated in Mrs. Buttersworth and all would be well. We'd often have bacon and sausage. It was always delicious and tasty and I looked forward to days when my dad would make them.

When I was in college, though, they had one of those Belgian flippy waffle irons in Cafe SCAD (the college food area). You'd pour in the batter and flip it over and it'd make tasty thicker waffles with a crisp edge, more like the ones here-- though thicker. So as you see I have a lot of fond memories of waffles. I hope to one day make tons of waffles for my children so that they get to be delighted by weekend morning waffles like I would be. Who knows, by then I might be using box mix again-- though I doubt it, considering my joy of baking from scratch.


As you can see from these posts, we topped the waffles with fresh strawberries (from the El Segundo farmer's market), as well as some bananas and powdered sugar. I put a little butter on mine too, but man, they were delicious. They were light and slightly crispy on the outside. I really love how they photograph because all the rivets of the waffles make for interesting lighting.

I highly recommend more weekend morning waffles, for everyone. Including myself. Maybe I'll come up with some new varieties. :)


Waffles, topped with Strawberries and Bananas

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated.
1 cup milk
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar

strawberries and bananas, sliced in a bowl
whipped cream, powder sugar for garnish

Preheat a waffle iron.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the eggs have turned a pale yellow. Add the butter and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Mix in the milk and buttermilk.
Add in the flour mixture, stirring to just combine.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and gently fold into the waffle batter.
Spray the iron with a nonstick cooking spray and pour enough batter to barely cover the area of the iron. It should only take 3 minutes or so per waffle to cook completely, though that depends on the waffle iron. Repeat until the waffles are complete.

Top with strawberries, bananas, powder sugar, butter, or whatever you want!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti Challenge: AKA, The Hamburger Themed Pasta


Awhile ago..... and I mean, a long while ago, Foodbuzz was having this challenge with Buitoni. you sign up, you get a free sample of Buitoni pasta, and you were supposed to make a dish to enter the Buitoni contest. My free sample came, mm, maybe a week and a half into my job on DJ & the Fro. Which is basically when I stopped doing the majority of my cooking and posts-- I have dedicated the last couple of my months to getting that whole business to turn out right.

But once Jeff finished up over at South Park and I had started to get a little more time on my hands, I at least cooked the pasta and took photos of it. I edited them, and then today I struggled to try to remember what I did to make it. Haha, it may not all be exact, but it's basically what I did and the amounts and ingredients I believe I used.

My thought was that I wanted like... an American burger pasta. I like hamburgers with mushrooms and bacon and cheese and caramelized onions-- and I figured, heck, that'd all go really well in a pasta too. But I wasn't really sure what to do for the sauce... I didn't really want a cream sauce, because there was enough heavy stuff in the pasta ingredient list that a cream sauce seemed like overkill. So I decided that a lighter wine sauce would be tasty, sort of Marsala based (the sweetness seemed like it might be nice), but with some white wine so it wouldn't be... well, too sweet.


A lot of pasta came in the pack. You can see me trying to double cook on my small stovetop as well as plate my dish. I don't usually take pictures of the cooking process-- I find it difficult to multi-task that much. I also have really shaky hands, so I usually need a glass or something to balance my camera on when taking photos. Jeff took these two of me cooking, which was nice participatory effort of him.


All in all, this dish turned out super tasty. The Buitoni pasta was really good-- I don't usually buy the pasta from that section of the grocery store (the fresh fridge section, because it's more expensive. :x and I often buy the whole grain but white still pasta from the dry pasta section). But when you want some ravioli, this might be the way to go. I really enjoyed the mushroomy cheesy goodness, especially with the saltiness of the "hamburger" meet and bacon and the slight sweetness of the sauce. The mozzarella balls were also positively lovely, as they had richness and also a mildness from the other flavors.

We played with some tomato sauce alongside, which was nice when we wanted a little zip of brightness. I really enjoyed this meal.

I miss it.
Hamburger Themed Buitoni Pasta

Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti
Mozzarella Balls
Parmesan Cheese
1/2 sweet onion, an 1/8 of it separated
3 strips of bacon
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground Thyme
Pepper and kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
1/8 cup white wine
a splash of Marsala wine
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon butter


In a small bowl, mix together the ground beef, garlic powder, thyme, some salt and pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
Heat a large skillet with about a teaspoon of olive oil in it. Make four flat patties of beef mixture and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until browned. Remove from the pan and wrap in aluminum foil to keep warm.
Cook the bacon in the pan, until just crispy enough to crunch into bits.
Set the bacon on a draining rack with a paper towel. Drain the bacon grease from the pan, leaving the tidbits and a little coating of it.

In a small to medium sized skillet, heat the butter to start caramelizing the onions. Place the onions in the pan and cook with a small amount of water and a small sprinkling of sugar, as well as a dash of salt. Slow cook, adding just a tad of water so the onions don't stick and all caramelize evenly.

Boil a large pot of water, with kosher salt added. Cook the pasta as per the instructions while the sauce is cooking.

In the large skillet the bacon was cooked in, add the rest of the onions, the oils, and the garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the wines to deglaze. Mix it all in, and add the butter. Allow it to reduce to a thicker sauce.

Mix in the bacon and caramelized onions, fold in the pasta, and plate. Top with the beef patties and pearl sized mozzarella balls. Finish with fresh ground pepper and some Parmesan cheese.