Friday, June 28, 2013

Update on experiments

I ran a few experiments these past few weeks, some had ended better than others. Following are my results:

Homemade powder sugar:
This happened because I was mid-stride of a recipe and realized I was out. UGH! A little research online and I found that 1 cup sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon corn starch can yield powder sugar. I say 'can' because I tried it first in my large food processor - and it remained fairly course. And I pulverized that sugar for a solid five minutes !! Once I moved it to my Magic Bullet (I LOVE that thing!!!!) I only had to pulverize it for two minutes. It was still a little grainy, but not bad for some made stuff. I could have had a go of it with my mortar and pestle - but let's be real, that wasn't going to happen.

Frozen Guacamole:
A few posts back I made Salsa y Guacamole and tried freezing the guac to see what would happen. The taste was okay, but the texture was weird and it looked awful!

Any suggestions? Has anyone had success on freezing avocados or guacamole? Please comment below if you have any thoughts!

Spicy Chicken Lime Soup

This one is fantastically easy and amazing. One day I was craving something savory, with a bit of kick and tang to it. So after rummaging around, working some magic, and doing all sorts of complicated procedures (just kidding, it was easy), this soup came into existence.

The savory broth is given some zing from the lime, and the Sriracha adds just enough kick to make things interesting. Plus, the classic combination of these flavors is very oriental to me. I don't know if it really is an authentic flavor combo as I've never been some place I would deem authentically oriental. But it works for me and I love this. Every time I've taken it into work for lunch, people always catch a whiff of it say something along the lines of "That smells great!" So yes, this really is good :)

I'm posting the recipe that will feed 6-8 people, but it can be paired down really easy as this is not an exact science type of soup. It's the 'throw everything in, taste, and add stuff till it tastes better' type of soup. So if you're flying solo, or feeding just two, only use part of the chicken, and save the rest for later.

Hope you enjoy!


8 cups chicken broth (homemade is best, fyi)
1 Rotisserie chicken
4-6 limes, juiced
1 Tablespoon Sriracha Sauce

Cilantro or Parsley (optional for garnish)


Remove the skin from the chicken, and remove as much breast and thigh meat as you can. Enjoy the legs and wings on your own time, but don't include them in this soup. Save the carcass for homemade chicken broth if you'd like. Cut the remaining chicken into chunks.

Heat chicken broth, add chicken, lime juice, and Sriracha sauce. Stir, serve, and garnish with Cilantro or parsley if desired.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pomegranate Lime Virgin Cocktails

Easy, distinct, and bold. This drink is something that kills three birds with one stone - it's bright, bold, and beautiful. It's like liquid elegance and beauty. Not only is it simple and fun to make, but it can be served with appetizers for a great conversation starter.

To get all the flavors, try briefly swirling it around in your mouth after taking a sip. This will allow the tart pomegranate flavor to give way to the sweet grenadine and the tangy lime.

Hope you enjoy!

2 oz water or ginger ale (depending on what you're in the mood for)
2 oz pomegranate juice (POM Wonderful is the only way to go for this)
1 oz Rose's Sweetened Lime Juice
1 oz Rose's Grenadine

Mix together, strain over ice if desired.

Seared Tuna

Seared ahi tuna with Pomegranate Lime Virgin Cocktail

Tonight was a huge win! While the win wasn't quite the 'fish and loaves' scale Biblical miracle, it was a success at our house. I was able to get a staunch non-fish eater to try tuna steaks! Woot woot!!

Since starting to work with a group of people to love fish, I realized how infrequently I had eaten it since getting married last year. The Mr. doesn't like it, and I don't like cooking two meals, so I called it even and didn't really cook it unless I was flying solo for a night. Anyway, after talking about it for days, I realized he never had fish without huge amounts of over powering sauce or breading. That gave me a perfect segway into explaining how I would cook it perfectly, use moderate seasoning, and blow his mind with it. Well ladies and gents - mission accomplished! Not only did he love it, but said he'd be up for it again.

Traditionally, tuna steaks are seared and sliced for presentation, which is beautiful. However, that was a stretch too far for tonight, so you'll see his cooked through, and mine seared. I tried his, and it wasn't bad  - just different. I served it with Pomegranate Lime Virgin Cocktails which carried a very distinct taste to compliment the subtle tuna flavor. 


2 tuna steaks (sashimi grade if you can find it), thawed
1 garlic clove, halved
Montreal Seasoning

Lemon for serving


Heat cast iron skillet or nonstick pan on medium high. Meanwhile, pat tuna steaks dry, rub gently with the cut side of the garlic, and dust with Montreal Seasoning.

Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray just before placing the steaks in. To cook all the way through, cook 2-3 minutes on eat side, flipping once. To sear, cook 30-40 seconds on each side (yup - it's fast!).

Serve with your favorite side, and top with avocado slices if you're feeling adventurous! Serve with lemon slices for those who want to spritz theirs just before eating.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Browned Butter Gnocchi


I've been toying around with Gnocchi and have decided that I really like it, and I like it with a lot of different stuff. I'm still working on a Gorgonzola Cream sauce and it's coming along quite nicely. As for now this is my favorite - simple, easy, good. Works for me.

For a while, I didn't know what gnocchi was - it always just looked weird in the pasta isle. However, as I started delving into cooking, I started hearing about it more and more. Soon, it seemed that I needed to try it simple for the sake of trying it. To my surprise, I actually really liked it. I like it a lot more then I like most other pastas in fact. As I mentioned above, I've done a lot of test recipes with it. I have yet to have it at a restaurent, so I'm excited to see how my version of it will compare.

I bought gnocchi made with sweet potato and whole wheat flour for these simply because I was craving sweet potato flavor. I'm sure you could use regular wheat or potato gnocchi.

1 package gnocchi
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 cloves diced garlic.

2 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed

Parsley for garnish

**Note - this works best if everything is ready to go before because you deal with a high heat pan. Prep your ingredients (chopped, diced, measured as needed) before - trust me! Also - these pictures show a quartered recipe, just FYI, not the full one listed above.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions, let drain well!!! those suckers should be pretty dry in order for them to brown well.

In a large pan on HIGH heat (yes high), heat oil and swirl to coat pan. Add onions and some salt, saute for 2-3 mins, stirring regularly. Once onions become translucent on the edges, add gnocchi and garlic, toss until coated. Toss about once a minute until gnocchi is lightly browned.

Remove from heat, add cold butter and toss until just melted. Serve and eat immediately :)

Tossed Salad with Blush Wine Vinaigrette, Cherry Tomatoes, and Avocado

I don't know if I talk much on here about how lazy I am - but in a moment of full self disclosure  I told my then boyfriend (now husband) that I can be remarkably lazy. We were sitting on the couch watching a movie, and he rolled his head over to look at me and with a totally straight face said "Oh honey, I can out lazy you any day." 

While I can be remarkably lazy in many ways, cooking is something I think people should enjoy. And sometimes, that means enjoying it because it was easy. Let me tell you, salads are easy. Well, they can be. I've encountered some pretty complex, finicky salads and thought "Wow, it just exhausts me looking at this!" However, this particular salad is packed with yummy goodness and full flavor with little fuss. It's pretty light but not so much so that you feel like you're eating air. I had this and Browned Butter Gnocchi for lunch today so I could clear out leftovers from some other food experiments. 



1 Head lettuce, chopped (I use Boston or Butter lettuce) 
Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing (make your own if you'd like, but I used Briannas and loved it) 

1 avocado, diced
~ 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Blue Cheese crumbles or Shredded parmesan, for garnish 

Directions: (Watch out - this is the tough part!!!)

Toss Lettuce and dressing in large bowl, top with everything else. Serve. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Teriyaki Beef and Broccolini

The longer I cook, the more I realize that good food is not the result of fancy ingredients - although they can help. Rather, good food is the result of someone who has a full command of the basics, and uses them wisely.
Don't get me wrong - I'm still on a steep learning curve when it comes to food, cooking, and domestic life in general. However, the more knowledgeable I become about food, the less pressured I feel to buy the newest, neatest gadget or gismo, and the more compelled I feel to learn how to use my paring knife in ten different ways.

Today I found out late in the day that Forrest would be home for dinner and my first thought was "Uh... I didn't grocery shop for you this week. Crap!" Since he's been working overtime the last few months, his company has provided the guys dinner - leaving me to try whatever the heck I wanted in my cooking lab without fear of someone else being hungry and therefor cranky.
So, when I realized he'd be home, I took a quick stock of what I had and compared it to what he will eat. Some broccolini (similar to broccoli), frozen stewing beef, and leftover teriyaki sauce from sushi night. BAM!!! That was my answer! Knowing how to use my basics allowed me to whip up a dinner to rival any restaurants version of this dish. The pictures aren't great because I snapped them 2 seconds before I ate it, so I wasn't in the mood to fuss with details.

Hope you enjoy!!


1 lb beef, cut into 1/2 inch strips
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup teriyaki sauce, divided
1/2 onion, diced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoon corn starch


Marinate beef slices in 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce - max of overnight, minimum of 30 mins.

Heat oil in large pan on medium high. Add beef/marinade and cook about 5 mins, or until meat is browned. Add onions, remaining 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce, stir, cook about 5 mins. While meat is cooking, mix soy sauce and corn starch.

After the initial 10 mins or so (may be less, depending on how thin your meat is), add broccoli florets, and corn/soy mix. Be sure to stir your mix right before adding it, as the corn starch will sink a bit.

Stir well, and cover to steam broccoli for about 2 mins.

Remove from heat, stir, and allow to stand for a few minutes until broccoli reaches desired tenderness.

Serve with rice, steamed veggies, or your favorite asian noodles.

Serves about 4-6 (depending on how hungry they are)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ratatouille: Slow cooker style

Guys! Guys!!! I made Ratatouille!!!!! Seriously - major accomplishment on my part. I now get to cross something off my bucket list.

After seeing Disney's movie "Ratatouille" in which it portrayed a lovable mouse helping a goofy kid live up to his potential, find love and acceptance...yada yada yada.... I  always wondered what this magical dish was all about. Why could some potentially soggy veggies turn a grouchy old man into a lovable hero who defends his arch nemesis? Here is what I found -  Ratatouille is a provincial french dish. As I understand it, it's a type of French comfort food. While the movie portrays this to some extent, I never fully understood why it was a comfort food until last night when I made this for dinner.

While I deviated from the more traditional recipes, what I came up with was delicious. It's one of those cooking magic tricks where the sum of the whole is greater than the individual ingredients. I never would have thought these vegetables plus some pasta sauce would equal anything edible, but I stand corrected.

So, my excitement in making this dish was two fold. One - I crossed off an item on my bucket list. And two - it turned out fantastic!! If you make it, please share your results in the comments, even if you think it's gross! I love feedback :)

1 Sweet potato, peeled
1 yellow summer squash
1 green zucchini
1 Italian Eggplant
1/2 medium onion, diced

~1 teaspoon Herbs de Province
Olive Oil

Tomato sauce (I used pasta sauce from a jar, feel free to use your favorite or make your own)

Wash and slice all veggies (except the onion) into 1/4" rounds. Half the sweet potatoes rounds (yes, you'll have a bunch of half circles). Cover the bottom of your slow cooker with the diced onions, then layer in the veggies, alternating between each one until all are used. You can do a second layer if you'd like!

Cook on low 3-4 hours until veggies are tender. Serve over your favorite pasta sauce and sit down to watch Disney's Ratatouille. 

Layered veggies
Spread the sauce

Add the cooked veggies (I used a slotted spatula, fyi) for a finished product! 

Short Hand: In the slow cooker, layer sliced veggies on top of diced onions. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs de province, salt, and pepper. Cook on low for 3-4 hours until veggies are tender. Serve over pasta sauce.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Salsa y Guacamole

Por los personas que no saben, yo servir una mision en sur de California, donde que yo aprende Espanol. (For the people who do not know, I served a mission in Southern California, where I learned Spanish.) Also, I lived in Tucson, Arizona until I was 13 years old. As a result of both, I have a cultivated taste for authentic mexican food cooked by loving mothers, caring sisters, and daring fathers who braved many a hot grills. Really, most mexican food is about love. And if you haven't guessed it yet, I love food.

This version of salsa and guacamole came into existence in my kitchen because I had left over avocado slices from Sushi night (pictures coming soon), thanks to Ms. Megan who brought them. As I thought back to how my mom made guacamole  I remembered that she made salsa, left a little in the food processor, and then added rich green avocado's and her magical 'mom love'.

Also, I've been wondering how well avocado's and guacamole will freeze - thus this is part "I can't just throw these avocado's away!" and part "Hmmm... let's see if this works." If it does, Megan will get getting some homemade guacamole (fresh) from me in the future as a thanks for providing me the supplies to experiment.

Experiment: how well does guacamole freeze?
Hypothesis: Mediocre
Variables: Guac in freezer verses my memory of the guac I'm eating now.
Results: TBD

 Salsa Ingredients: 
2 Large Beefsteak tomatoes OR 4 medium Roma tomatoes, quartered
1/2 medium onion, cut into chunks
~1/3 cup fresh Cilantro
2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic salt)
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce*
Juice from one lemon/lime (I used lime)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

S/P to taste

*start slow and ramp up your spice. Start with 1/4 teaspoon for the timid mouth - go crazy if you love pain. Also - you can use 1/2 to 1 whole Jalapeño. I don't like fussing with them needlessly, so I use Sriracha from the bottle.

Pulse onion and garlic in food processor (or blender) for 10-15 pulses, or until onion is well diced. Add remaining ingredients and blend/pulse until salsa reaches desired consistency. Taste - add salt, pepper, or more spice to taste.

Now it's time for your guacamole....

1/2 cup salsa (as above)
2 large avocado's, seeded, peeled

Add avocado's and salsa to the blender. Turn on low or pulse until desired consistency is reached. Pull out the chips, grab some chairs, your favorite drink, and head out to the porch to swapp stories of last summer while eating this super easy, ultra tasty, incredible salsa and guacamole. 

The wonderful thing about these recipes (and really most everything on this site) is that it's not an exact science. These, like many other recipes can be used a platform for your own ideas, modifications, or alterations. So add some flare and toss in something crazy and try it out. The good thing about trying out different foods is that you never need to repeat it if you hate it - and you'll never know if you hate something until you try it!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Savory Acorn Squash Soup

Enter the immersion blender. I received one as a wedding gift and have been oh-so-glad that I did. This little All-Clad beauty has been wonderful for me. I've been able to make salsa's, sauces, soups, puree's, and instand hot chocolate with it. You could use it for smoothies, milk shakes, etc, but I have a Magic Bullet for those.

Anyway.... I was grocery shopping this week browsing the produce section after I procured everything on my list and my eyes fell upon their squash cart. The acorn squashes seemed to fling themselves at me saying "Eat me! Eat me! Pick me!!!! I want to go home with you!" So I made my impulse by for the day (I allow myself one per shopping trip) and went on my merry way. Yes, I impulse bought a vegetable.

I thought about what I could do with it, and was vaguely dreaming of a gorgeously grilled or baked whole squash with sweet whipped cream and rich maple syrup.... THEN reality slapped me in the face and reminded me that I HATE the starchy, stringy, slightly gritty taste that squashes, gourds, or pumpkins can get when cooked, but not mashed or purred.  So, I quickly dismissed my notion of eating it whole and decided to turn it into a soup. My immersion blender plus the slow cooker made this super quick and fairly easy. I got home from work and was eating fresh, homemade soup less than 15 minutes later.

This soup is savory, rich, and very satisfying. It's thick and smooth, but is a great base if you wanted thin it down and add a slew of meats and veggies. It's also pretty easy, with basic ingredients. I like it in the summer because I cook my squash in the slow cooker rather than heat up my oven. This also allows me to purred it directly in the slow cooker and keep it warm if needed.

 For now though, I give you my most recent masterpiece: Savory Acorn Squash Soup

1 acorn squash
1 cup chicken broth
2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
salt to taste



Place chicken broth and garlic in slow cooker. Cut top off squash, deseed, and place in slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-5 hours or until all flesh is soft (test my inserting fork - there should be no resistance).

Remove squash onto place, scrape out all the flesh (THIS IS HOT!!! Use tongs, forks, spoons, whatever - but not your fingers!) and place it back in the slow cooker. Add milk and blend until totally smooth using soft up and down movements.
The dishes you see were the only ones I used. For me, this is an impressively limited amount of
 clean up - the slow cooker, plate, and a few utensils. It's really half the reason I love this soup. 

Add cream and salt, and mix just until blended (you don't want to whip it). Taste, salt as needed.

Serve with grated cheese, bacon bits, parsley, or pepper.

Shown with parsley, Jarlsberg, Cheddar, and Swiss Cheese

Serves 2-4 (Two for a main dish, 4 for sampler/starter sizes)

p.s. not all squashes are created equal. If you use a different squash/gourd, this will taste different. Feel free to swap out different squashes, or use a combination, but be warned!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Music From Heaven to a Deaf Man

I threw myself into cooking this week. I had avoided baking as I was trying to eat veggies, lean meats, and legumes mostly - but after a midweek 'meltdown' I spent two hours at the grocery store, basking in the glorious variety of foods that contain sugar, carbs, and starches. I toted home makings for sushi for a 'how to' night I'm hosting tonight, and a whole list of foods I had been itching to try or play with. Gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce, broccoli with pan seared steak, cherry almond scones with spiced cream tea, triple chocolate brownies, panna cotta with chocolate ganache, pumpkin soup, and Thai inspired spicy chicken soup with lime were just a few things that budded forth in my creative wake this week. 

For whatever reason cooking really helps me sort through stress. Perhaps it’s the act of creating something, enjoying good food, and feeling the sense of accomplishment when viewing a clean kitchen. Either way, it was music from heaven to a deaf man, paints from God to da Vinci, and literally, food for my soul from the earth.

Also, I've decided to add a new section of my blog - Reviews. I've been thinking about it for a while now and it's time I bit the bullet and did it. I love food, I love talking about, and I love just about everything about it. So keep your eyes posted from some up and coming food reviews!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Anytime Steak

Although it's getting to be summer time, we've enjoyed this simple and delicious meal year round. Steaks are traditionally grilled, but thanks for the man I love and a good cookbook, we've perfected the stovetop searing method.

This was inspired by my private cooking teacher, Tim Ferris, via his book "The Four Hour Chef". If you don't own it, and you love food and want to become a ninja in the kitchen, I suggest you buy it. And oh - how I wish he'd pay me to say that. Sadly, I think the self proclaimed rich playboy-ish, PeterPan-esque boy realizes he doesn't have to - his books sells itself. Why? Because they're all amazing.

Like good books, good steaks tends to sell themselves. While there are processes to tenderize less than amazing cuts of beef, I've decided I would rather just bite the bullet and drop a little extra money on a good cut. In this, I used a beef tenderloin (yes, expensive) cut from Sam's Club. I have yet to find a decent place that sells grass-fed that tastes remotely worth the small fortune I'd have to pay for it. Sam's club thus became the winner.

This is better than most steaks I've had in restaurants - and since being married to a Carnivore for the past year, I've tried a lot of different steak places. If this is your first time making steak at home, especially if you're nervous about pan frying it, BUY THE EXPENSIVE STUFF! Don't skimp and get something tough that you'll end up not liking because it will turn you off of cooking steaks at home in the future. I have found it's far less expensive to buy steaks at the store, and cook them at home than it is to go out to eat. Do the math, weigh your choices, and draw a line. As Tim would say - if it's gross or your screw it up, toss it out and count it as an inexpensive cooking lesson.


1-2 Steaks (beef tenderloin) 1.5"-2" thick

1 clove garlic
3-4 springs rosemary or thyme (pick your favorite)
1 T Olive Oil or Ghee/Clarified Butter*
Salt and Pepper

*What I used.


Heat a cast iron or nonstick skillet to high - I mean HOT! ***ALSO*** turn your oven on to 400º and get a baking dish/cookie sheet out and lined.

Pat steak dry, slice garlic cloves in half, and rub steaks with the cut side of the clove. Salt and peper as desired.

Add olive oil or Ghee to the pan, swirl to coat evenly, and gently place steaks into pan and scream and flail arms as the smoke fills the room. Ideally - turn the exhaust on before this - there is no way to avoid the smoke, but mmmmmmm it's so worth it. Sear those suckers well!

Sear both sides of the steak for two minutes, and using tongs, sear the edges too. Place steaks on the cookie sheet.

Place rosemary/thyme in the pan, push around a bit, then put them on top of the steaks.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven for 10-20 minutes depending on how well done you'd like your steaks. Mine were in about 10 because I like medium rare, as pictured. If you like them different, refer to this chart and use a meat thermometer to check them.

Presto - amazing steak. Top with some Ghee for an extra pop of flavor, and salt and pepper to your hearts content. Served here with Garlic Roasted Cauliflower (coming soon).