What could be better than snuggling with your honey in front of a nice cozy fire? S'mores and hot chocolate! And you know what's even better than that? Bailey's in that hot chocolate!
- Graham crackers
1. Stick a marshmallow (or two) on a skewer and hold it a few inches above the tip of the fire. Don't let the marshmallow catch on fire and keep rotating the skewer every so often so that no one side burns. The goal is a lightly browned and crispy outside and ooey melty goodness all the way through. If you let it catch on fire or burn, the outside will be done before the inside is. This is important stuff here!
2. Place a piece of chocolate (or two) on the graham cracker.
3. Put the perfectly cooked marshmallow on the graham cracker and chocolate. Using another piece of graham cracker, smush the marshmallow down and slide the skewer out.
4. Take a bite into this heart-warming sandwich and repeat :)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
What could be better than snuggling with your honey in front of a nice cozy fire? S'mores and hot chocolate! And you know what's even better than that? Bailey's in that hot chocolate!
Monday, January 26, 2009
I've always avoided deep frying things at all costs. It just seems scary and messy. I always try to bake things instead of frying, such as egg rolls, potato wedges, and carnitas.
The hubz was craving a good homemade burger, so while he made the burgers, I worked on the fries and decided to finally face my deep frying fears. And you know what? It really wasn't bad at all! I'm definitely going to be frying more often in the future (maybe not such a good thing for my waistline, but whatever).
The key to great homemade french fries is to fry them twice. As you can see, after the first fry, they're pasty white and a bit on the soggy side.
They remind me of In-N-Out fries, so if you like that style, stop after the first fry. But if you want them to be crispier and more golden brown, fry it a second time for these results -
- Potatoes (as many as you'd like)
- Oil (one bottle 48 oz)
- Salt to taste
1. Cut the potatoes into strips.
2. Heat the oil in a cast iron pot until it reaches 325 degrees (The cast iron is important because it holds the heat and also brings the oil back up to temp quicker than regular pots). If you have an actual deep fryer, that works too.
3. Slide the potatoes slowly into the oil to avoid hot oil splattering onto your hands. Do them in batches of about one potato at a time. This will give the potatoes enough room to cook and not stick together. It will also limit how much the oil temperature drops per batch.
4. Turn up the heat to high to bring the oil back to temp.
5. Using a wire spider, stir the potatoes around gently. Then remove the potatoes onto a wire cooling rack after about 3 minutes.
6. Bring the oil back up to 325 and repeat steps 3-5 until all the potatoes have been fried once.
7. Bring the oil up to 375 degrees.
8. Slide the potatoes back into the oil in batches of about one potato at a time. Make sure the heat is on high so that the oil comes back up to 375 asap.
9. Stir the potatoes with your spider and remove when they are golden brown and crispy.
10. Sprinkle them with a bit of salt or whatever other seasonings you would like while the fries are still hot.
11. Repeat steps 8-10 until all the fries are beautifully golden brown and crispy. Serve while still hot!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I can't believe it took me so long to try to make jerk chicken. The first time I tried jerk chicken, I instantly fell in love and was so upset that I hadn't discovered it earlier and was determined to learn to make it myself so that I could enjoy it whenever I wanted. That was almost 10 years ago!
When I saw that Kevin from Closet Cooking made his own and it looked sooo good, I knew I couldn't wait any longer, and boy am I glad I didn't. I absolutely LOVE this stuff! If you've never tried jerk chicken, I highly encourage you to do so. It's sweet, savory, fragrant, and best of all, spicy!
Don't let 10 years pass you by before you try this wonderful chicken...
Inspired by Closet Cooking
1-3 scotch bonnet peppers (I couldn't find scotch bonnet, so I used 3 jalapenos and it was still plenty spicy)
1 onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
3 green onions (chopped)
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
1 lime (juice and zest)
Chicken (I used a dozen drumsticks but anything will work, even other meats like pork, etc)
- Puree everything except for the chicken.
- Place the chicken in the puree and let it marinate overnight.
- Heat up your grill (or oven) and grill until the chicken is cooked through.
- My personal favorite part of jerk chicken is the marinade and I always ask for extra gravy at restaurants. At home, I like to take the marinade and boil it down into a sauce and spoon it over the chicken, the rice, the veggies, everything!
Monday, January 19, 2009
We had a few friends over for what my hubz called Rocktoberfest. It was October and the intent was to play Rock Band 2. Get it? Rocktoberfest! He's so clever! Oh, and don't forget the beer! NEVER forget the beer :)
Along with the drinks and rock band 2, we also served a few simple snacks, and these BBQ Chicken Quesadillas were one of them! It's so easy to dress up something as simple as a quesadilla into something a bit fancier. And the nice thing about these is that it's so flavorful that it doesn't need salsa or any other toppings (though you're more than welcome to add them), so it makes great finger food without the mess.
- Flour Tortilla
- Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese
- BBQ Sauce
- Black Beans
- Chicken Breast (grilled with salt and pepper and then cubed)
- Lay the tortilla out in a pan on medium heat. You'll have to move relatively quickly to keep things from burning, but quesadillas are not difficult to make, so it shouldn't be a problem.
- Spread a thin layer of bbq sauce on half of the tortilla.
- Sprinkle cheese on the entire tortilla.
- Sprinkle some corn kernels, black beans and the grilled chicken on the same half that you put the bbq sauce on.
- After the cheese has melted a bit, fold the quesadilla over and let everything melt together.
- When the first side is nicely browned and crispy, flip it over so the other side can get browned and crispy.
- Cut into wedges and serve!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
The Chinese name for this dish is cong you bing which literally translates to onion oil pancake, and that's really all there is to it. Since the ingredient list is so short, it's perfect for this month's Weekend Cookbook Challenge which is run by Sara of I Like to Cook: 5 ingredients or less!
I love green onion pancakes (aka scallion pancakes). You can eat it alone as a snack, dipping it in a simple sauce if you'd like. You can eat it as a side instead of rice. You can wrap meat and veggies in it with some hoisin sauce - yum! Fry it up with scrambled eggs for a great breakfast. The list goes on and on. Plus it freezes really well, so you can make a ton and freeze them for convenient future usage! I even had a green onion pancake-off with a friend once. We both made them and fed them to our friends for judging, and I'm proud to say that I won :)
Another thing I love about green onion pancakes are the layers. Look at those gorgeous layers! As a kid, I loved peeling off the layers and eating them one by one, and I'm not ashamed to say that I still play with my food to this day!
Anyway, enough babbling, here's the recipe!
- All purpose flour
- Hot, preferably boiling, water (approx 2:1 ratio of flour to water)
- Oil (I like to use a combo of vegetable and sesame and will elaborate below)
- Green onions (diced)
- In a stand mixer, or by hand, mix the flour and water together and knead until a nice dough is formed. The ratio should be about 2:1 and should be a non-sticky but relatively soft dough. It's pretty forgiving, so this doesn't have to be perfect. Hot water is important however because that will give you the texture you want (or so I was told when I first learned to make it).
- Take a small piece of dough (however big you want your pancake to be) and roll it out as thin as possible. The shape doesn't matter (as you can see below). And it's even okay if you rolled it so thin that there are holes in it.
- Drizzle some oil and rub it in with your hands so that the entire surface is lightly covered, but there are no pools of oil in any one spot. I like to use a combo of vegetable oil and sesame oil. I find that all sesame oil is a bit too strong for my taste, but vegetable oil alone is a bit boring, but really, use what you have and what you like. In fact, lard is probably the best option if you're brave enough to use it! (I'm not)
- Sprinkle on the green onions. Again, it's up to your personal preference how much you like.
- Roll the dough into a long rope. It's okay if oil and onions squish out the sides.
- Next, coil that rope into a circle.
- Using your hands and/or rolling pin to flatten out the pancake to your desired thickness. Some people like super thick pancakes, others like thin ones. Both are perfectly acceptable. You may need to let the dough rest a bit if it's being difficult to work with.
- In a pan, heat up a bit of oil over medium/low heat. Plop your pancake down and let it cook until golden brown, and then flip to crisp the other side. Thicker pancakes will obviously take longer (you might want to put the lid on and turn down the heat so that it doesn't burn before it's cooked through) and thin ones will take less time. Deep frying these is another delicious alternative!
- Cut them into wedges and serve them however you like. My favorite is with a dipping sauce of half black vinegar and half soy sauce, but experiment away to find what you like!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Although this isn't really related to Thanksgiving, nor is it real cooking, this is a fun little tidbit that I learned on Thanksgiving.
Did you know that if you put a gummy bear in water and let it sit still for about 24 hours, it'll grow to be the size of a cinnamon bear? It's pretty cool!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Phew! I'm finally done with all the Thanksgiving posts! Sorry, it took me so long...
So here's a little review -
We set up our buffet as the appetizer station (sorry for the fuzzy picture)
with all sorts of goodies including:
As you can see, I decorated the buffet table with a few colorful fall leaves. I did something similar with our fireplace mantle by just cutting some nice foliage from the yard including festive red berries and fragrant rosemary.
I even filled a vase with rosemary to add a bit of color to some other areas of the house.
In addition to the typical water, soda, juice, wine, etc, we also made some sangria.
For dinner, we had the turkey of course
mashed potatoes, gravy, sticky rice (aka chinese stuffing) that my mother-in-law made
simply roasted sweet potatoes
roasted butternut squash soup
sauteed green beans
a spinach salad
and cranberry sauce.
And here it is all together
I hope you and yours had a great holiday season and have a very happy and healthy new year!
Monday, January 5, 2009
I don't bake often because I'm not very good at it, especially when it comes to cookies, plus we don't really eat sweets in this house anyway. So what inspired the making of these cookies? Well, I had been craving peanut butter cookies for a while and I had 3 bananas that were going to go bad soon. Peanut butter and banana is always a great combo, so I googled away and found this! And because I really only wanted one or two cookies, not an entire batch, I decided to serve them at Thanksgiving!
I baked them a few days ahead of time with the help of my husband and brother-in-law, and I have them to thank for them turning out so well. The first batch that I did on my own were not so wonderful (I told you I can't bake). Even though the recipe says to bake them for 13-16 minutes and that they should not be brown on the edges and will set up as they cool, they never set up and were quite mushy. With the help of the hubz and his brother, we found that they had to be baked for ~20 minutes and have slightly browned edges for best results.
And look, I put them on a nice serving tray decorated with fall leaves and some fragrant rosemary for a pretty presentation =)Adapted from Foodgeeks
- 3/4 cup margarine, softened
- 1-1/4 cups peanut butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 md. overripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. baking powder
- Preheat Oven to 325°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the margarine, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.
- Peal the bananas and drop into the mixture; mix well (some small banana chunks are okay).
- Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder; stir into the peanut butter mixture.
- Use a cookie scoop or drop by the spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake for 13 to 16 minutes - they will not be golden brown when removed from oven. As they set they will turn slightly firm.
- Allow to cool on cookie sheet for two to three minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.*
Saturday, January 3, 2009
I'm not a big fan of the traditional green bean casserole. I am however, a big fan of bacon :)
Here is my preference for Thanksgiving green beans, sauteed in bacon fat, with some red bell pepper for added color and sliced almonds as a garnish.
- 1 pound of green beans
- 1 onion sliced thinly
- 1 red bell pepper sliced thinly
- 2 (or more) slices of bacon
- salt to taste
- almond slices
- Clean and trim the green beans. Blanche them in boiling water or steam them until tender and put them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and to keep their bright green color.
- Cut up the bacon into tiny pieces and cook until crispy.
- Add the onion and saute until soft and carmelized.
- Add the red bell pepper and saute until heated through. I like to keep it a bit crispy.
- Add the green beans to heat through.
- Add salt to taste (this may not be necessary since the bacon is already pretty salty).
- Sprinkle some almond slices on top and serve.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I tend to try new recipes for the first time when having guests over. Maybe it's not the best idea, but it has yet to go horribly wrong. On occasion it doesn't go quite as planned, but my hubby has a great palate and creative solutions to help save the day. In fact, sometimes, his ideas end up being even better than the original! Luckily, this time, all I needed was his taste buds to help me out.
So, silly me didn't know that the hollow section of a butternut squash was so small. I thought it was hollow all the through the skinny part too and bought way too many for the soup. Do you have any great ideas for my extra squash?
Silly me also didn't know how difficult they were to peel and chop, but I got through it with some help from my brother-in-law, thanks Alvin! I have since done it on my own with the extra squash I bought. They're tough little guys!
- Butternut squash
- Chicken stock
- Peel, seed, and cut the squash into bite-size cubes. Toss it in some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put it in a roasting pan and roast at 350 degrees until the squash is tender (about 30-45 minutes).
- Put the squash in a large pot and pour in the chicken stock until the squash is barely covered. Bring it to a simmer.
- Blend the soup until smooth and creamy. Be careful, it is very hot and can splatter easily.
- Add cream to the soup and stir until it has reached the desired consistency.
- Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with croutons, bacon bits, a few sprigs of fresh herbs or just enjoy it on it's own!
Homemade chicken stock is so much better than store bought. I save all of my chicken bones in a bag in the freezer and then pull them out when I've collected enough to make chicken stock, which I then freeze and stick back in the freezer in smaller batches so that I can take a bit out whenever I need. I've also started freezing the tops and leaves of celery that I cut off when making celery sticks, etc to use in the stock.
The problem with making stock is that you have to let it simmer for hours and I'm just not that patient. Plus, when you only notice that you're out of frozen chicken stock the morning of Thanksgiving and already have a million other things to do, you don't have time to wait hours for the chicken bones to release their goodness into the stock. That's when I'm especially glad that I have a pressure cooker.
This is my entry for Joelen's Tasty Tools event which features stock/soup pots. I love soups, so check out her blog to see what other tasty dishes others have made!
- Chicken bones
- Salt (optional)
- other herbs (optional)
- Put the chicken bones in your pressure cooker and cover it with cold water until the bones are just covered. Be sure not to fill it over the recommended limit for your pressure cooker (pressure cookers should NOT ever be filled to the brim).
- Rough chop some carrots, celery and onions and dump them in. There's no need to peel the carrots or chop them finely, etc since it's only there for the flavor, not to be eaten. Just be sure to wash them.
- Add salt, herbs, or other flavorings that you might want. I tend not to add any of things since I don't always know what I'm going to be using the stock for in the future and can add those things later.
- Close the pressure cooker according to the manufacturers instructions and put it over high heat until the maximum pressure is reached. Then turn down the heat just enough to maintain the pressure for about half an hour.
- Turn off the heat and let the pressure dissipate naturally.
- Carefully open the pressure cooker. Make sure you've gotten all the goodness out of the bones by breaking them. They should be so weak that they just fall apart with minimal effort. If they haven't reached this stage yet, go ahead and put the lid back on and turn up the heat again for another 10 minutes and let the pressure come down on its own again.
- Strain out all the bones and veggies.
- Now, you can either use a fat separator to get rid of the excess fat or chill in the fridge and remove the fat that solidifies on top.
- You can use the stock immediately or store it in the fridge for about a week, or freeze it practically for ever. Use it in your favorite soups, sauces, etc.