Monday, March 30, 2009

Not Your Typical Tuna Sandwich

My hubby was doing the grocery shopping and saw cucumbers on sale and it reminded him of one his favorite sandwiches from Pret a Manger. He found the rest of the ingredients and made this scrumptious sandwich.

This sandwich reminded me how much I love alfalfa and I definitely need to look into growing my own. I heard it's pretty easy. If you've ever done it, I'd love it if you'd share your experience with me!

- 1 can of tuna
- 1 baguette
- Mayo
- 1 hard boiled egg
- Cucumber
- Alfalfa sprouts

- Open and drain the tuna and mix it with mayo until it reaches your desired consistency. For me, it usually takes about 2 huge spoonfuls.
- Slice the bread in half and spread the tuna on the bottom half.
- Add a handful of sprouts on top of the tuna.
- Place a row of sliced cucumbers on top of the alfalfa sprouts.
- Place a row of sliced eggs on top of the cucumbers.
- Put the top half of the baguette on top.
- Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Banana Nut Biscotti

I keep doing this. I keep buying bananas, and I keep letting them get mushy. Then I keep finding myself scrambling to find a recipe to use them up. So far, I've done banana bread, banana and chocolate chip cookies, and peanut butter banana cookies, along with an assortment of smoothies and peanut butter banana sandwiches. Another idea I had was to replace some of the oil in brownies (out of the box) with bananas. You could definitely taste a hint of banana in them, but banana and chocolate go together nicely, so it's a pretty good option if you ever find yourself in the same situation (or just want to make yourself feel less guilty about eating brownies).

So here I am, searching for a new banana idea and I found banana nut biscotti. And I've gotta say, I really like this one and might make it again in the future since I'm pretty sure I still haven't learned my lesson about not letting bananas get mushy on my watch.

I like these because they make a great snack, aren't too sweet (I'm mostly a salty kinda gal), and are relatively healthy. I even replaced some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat and didn't even notice. Maybe next time I'll sub a bit more to see how much I can get away with before noticing.

Anyway, if you ever find yourself in a mushy banana predicament, I highly recommend giving this one a try.

I found this recipe on Culinary Adventures of a New Wife who got the recipe from Cooking Light. That makes this recipe a perfect candidate for the weekly Bookmarked Recipes event which was created by Ruth's Kitchen Experiment. Check out the roundup every Monday!

from Cooking Light

- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 1 banana)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
- Cooking spray


- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Combine banana, oil, vanilla, and egg in a medium bowl; stir in flour mixture and pecans (dough will be sticky).
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; shape dough into 2 (8-inch-long) rolls with floured hands.
- Place rolls on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; flatten to 1/2-inch thickness.Bake at 350° for 23 minutes.
- Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.
- Cut each roll diagonally into 12 (1/2-inch) slices.
- Place slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 250°; bake 15 minutes.
- Turn cookies over; bake an additional 15 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool).
- Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire racks.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Moo Shu Chicken

Moo shu is essentially a stir fry, except that it's served in a pancake instead of over rice. Stir fries are quick, easy, healthy, and great for clearing out leftovers in the fridge. I had leftover shredded chicken and half a head of cabbage, so I decided to make moo shu out of it! I added a bag of bean sprouts and a carrot that I added mainly for color more than anything else. Oh, and a bit of wood ear since I had it lying around the house too. You can put whatever you like/have into yours and I'm sure it'll turn out great! Some other popular moo shu ingredients are scrambled egg, bamboo shoots, lily buds, bok choy, etc, but you should really just put what you like or what you have on hand. You can also replace the chicken with any (or no) protein you want.

And since stir fry is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of woks, I'm submitting this recipe to Joelen's Tasty Tools event. She's highlighting woks during the month of March. Check out her roundup to see what other goodies people have made using their woks!

  • 1 leftover chicken breast shredded
  • 1 bag of bean sprouts
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1/2 a head cabbage, cut into strips as if for coleslaw
  • 1 carrot julienned
  • a few wood ears also julienned
  • soy sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • tortillas (you can find mushu pancakes in the freezer section of asian stores, but tortillas work just fine)
  • hoisin sauce

1. Prep all your ingredients so that they're ready to go!
2. Heat your wok/pan until smoking hot, add a bit of oil and swirl it around. Then add the garlic.
3. Since the cabbage takes the longest to cook, add that in.
4. Next, add the carrots and wood ear.
5. Last, add the sprouts.
6. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce to taste.
7. Toss in the turkey last since it's already fully cooked (You'd want to cook this first, before any veggies if it was raw).
8. Make sure everything is heated through but the veggies still have a bit of crunch to them.
9. Smear a bit of hoisin sauce on your tortilla, add some of the filling, roll it up like a Chinese burrito and enjoy! You can garnish it with a bit of scallion sliced on the bias too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Guinness Beef Stew

Normally, when I want to cook meat until it's fall apart tender, I reach for my pressure cooker. It does a fabulous job in a fraction of the time, but this time, the pressure cooker just wasn't going to cut it. The problem (and at times, benefit) of the pressure cooker is that there's hardly any evaporation, and if I was going to get the liquid in the stew to cook down into a nice, thick, flavorful sauce, I needed that evaporation.

The other way to cook meat until it's fall apart tender is to braise it in the oven, so that's what I did instead. I grabbed my beloved le creuset and put together this hearty stew which was surprisingly tasty. I say surprisingly because I haven't eaten much stew in my lifetime and never really thought anything of it, but now I definitely know why they call it comfort food. It really does warm you up from the inside out.

- 1.5 pounds of chuck steak or other stew meat
- 1 potato
- 2 carrots
- 1 box of mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 2 handfuls of pearl onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 bottle of guinness
- a bit of water or chicken stock
- a few dashes of worcestire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- thyme
- a bit of flour
- a bit of oil

- Cut the beef into chunks and lightly dredge it in flour.
- Heat a bit of oil in a heavy bottomed pot and brown the beef. You may have to do this in batches. Don't overcrowd the pan.
- Add just a bit of water or chicken stock to deglaze the pan. I don't use the Guinness for this because it's so dark that it's hard to see if you've really gotten all those great flavorful brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Mince the garlic and toss it in.
- Add the Guinness and a few splashes of worcestire sauce. Stir in the tomato paste until melted. I wait on the salt and pepper since it's going to reduce down and might get too salty.
- Toss in the peeled and chopped potatoes and carrots. Toss in the mushrooms and too. I made the mistake of putting the onions in at this point too and they disentigrated by the time the meat was done, so wait on this.
- Put the thyme in and bring everything to a simmer.
- Cover and put it into a 325 degree oven. Let it cook until the meat is fall apart tender. I think it took about an hour, but I'm not really sure. Add the onions in maybe about half way through the cooking.
- When it's done, the potatoes will have disappeared and helped thicken the sauce. Remove the thyme and add some peas and stir to heat through.
- Add salt and pepper if needed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Steak Sandwich

Remember those gorgeous homemade baguettes that are a constant staple in our house these days? Do you also remember the french onion soup that I made? Well, I had leftovers of both, so I asked my hubz to grill up some steak for steak sandwiches. He always does such a great job of cooking steak to perfection, I guess it's a guy thing because I sure can't do it. And it was so tasty that I requested it again and am thinking about making more soup just so that I can have more steak sandwiches!

And since the secret ingredient for Weekend Wokking this month is beef and steak is about as "beefy" as you can get, I'm submitting this entry. Wandering Chopsticks created this awesome event and Marija of Palachinka is hosting this month. Check out the roundup on April 1 for some beefy goodness!

- 1 baguette

- 1 steak (we used New York, but anything will do)

- Leftover french onion soup

- Horseradish sauce (I like the creamy variety for this)
- Lettuce (optional)
- Salt and pepper


- Ask your husband to salt and pepper the steak and cook it to perfection. Let it rest, then slice it into thin strips.

- Cut the baguette in half and toast it until nice and crispy.
- Spread a generous amount of horseradish across the bread.
- Lay the pieces of steak across the sandwich.

- Spoon the onion soup over the steak.
- Add the lettuce if desired (I found I liked it better without).

- Close the sandwich and dip it in additional onion soup and horseradish as desired and eat.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I'd like to thank Melissa at Mrs Sac's Purple Kitchen for passing on the "Lemonade Stand" and "Your Blog is Fabulous" awards to me, I'm really honored. If you haven't discovered her blog yet, definitely check it out. She's always cooking up something both refreshing and fabulous, so it's not a surprise that she received this award.

I've seen these awards passed around for a while now, so I'm not sure who has and who hasn't received it already. If you haven't, consider yourself nominated and follow the directions below.

- Add the logo in your blog.
- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
- Nominate other (refreshing…like lemonade and fabulous) blogs of your choice.
- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.

Thanks again Melissa!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Artisan Bread

We love nice crusty breads in this household. When I saw King Arthur's baguette, I knew I had to try it. I fell so in love with the bread that I've made it numerous times since and frequently make the stuffed versions too. But honestly, those things were a lot of freaking work! Start the sponge the day before, make the dough, knead the dough, go through 3 sessions of 1-hour rises, shape the dough, let it rise one more hour, spray, slash, bake, cool. Seriously, it was a huge commitment.

When I heard about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I was VERY intrigued and decided to check it out. And boy am I glad I did! This stuff is great! I can have fresh baked bread ready to eat in 2 hours whenever I feel like it with minimal fuss and minimal mess. I just have to keep the dough in the fridge at all times, which I don't mind at all.

I even taught the hubz how to make it too so he doesn't have to wait for me when he's got a craving. Needless to say, we'll be eating a lot more bread in this house from now on!

And even when I screw up and they aren't so pretty, they still taste fantastic!

Look at all those humungous, gorgeous air bubbles. Aaah, I'm in heaven.

A few tips and tricks that I've learned from my limited experience is to definitely wait at least a week before using the dough. The difference in taste between the bread I made the day after I mixed the dough and a week later was humungous! It's definitely worth the wait.

Another lesson learned is to let it rest for about an hour and a half instead of the 40 in the book (they mention this correction on their website too).

And lastly, use parchment paper. Seriously, it'll save you so much headache in transferring the dough to the oven. But remove it after about 10-15 minutes so that the bottom can crisp up more. Or use LOTS of cornmeal.

As a side note, a frequent snack in this household has become bread and cheese. I highly recommend Dubliner cheese from Costco. It's a less than $6 a pound and is really tasty with little flavor crystals and all! If this habit continues, we will be slowly making our way through all the cheeses Costco has to offer and will report back on any great finds (like the Dubliner, seriously, try it).

- 3 cups of water
- 1 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 1/2 cups of flour (bread or all-purpose)

- Mix all the ingredients together until all the flour has been incorporated in a large container with a NON airtight lid (or just crack the lid a bit when storing). There is no need for kneading or a mixer. I've found a dough whisk and my hands to be the best tools for this. Wetting your hands before digging in will help them from sticking.
- Let the mixture sit at room temperature with the NON airtight lid on for about 2 hours, or until at least doubled in size.
- Put the mixture (covered but not airtight) in the fridge.
- For the next 2 weeks, pull the dough of the fridge and while it is still cold, cut off about a pound of the dough. I found that for the best flavors, let it sit in the fridge for at least a week.
- Flour the surface of your workspace and gently shape and stretch the dough into a ball by pull the edges under the ball, rotating and repeating.
- Shape the dough into whatever shape you'd like (long baguette, round boule, etc) on a pizza peal heavily coated in cornmeal or parchment paper. Let it rest, uncovered for an hour and a half.
- Preheat your oven and a baking stone to 450 degrees. Put a roasting pan underneath to heat as well.
- Right before baking, if you want to make a baguette, spray the surface of the dough with water. If you want a boule, dust the top with flour, or coat the dough with an eggwash for something that I don't know the name of, but it definitely tasty.
- Slash the dough a few times with a very sharp knife in whatever pretty pattern you'd like.
- Slide the dough onto the pizza stone and pour a cup of hot water into the roasting pan.
- Quickly close the oven door to trap the steam and bake for about 25 minutes. If you used parchment paper, remove it about 10-15 minutes into the baking time. Do not disturb it for the first 10 minutes as that's when the majority of the rising and crispy crust develops.
- Let the bread cool on a cooling rack and then enjoy your fresh baked artisan bread!
- When you've used up all the dough, keep the old remnants in the container and add more flour, water, salt and yeast. Keeping the old remnants will help give your new batch even more depth of flavor.