Random (but not really)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Yesterday on our hike I started to wonder about apples. Specifically: Why are apples typically portrayed as red?

The majority of apples we find at our Farmers Market are green or green & red. Yet when you think of an apple, you generally think of a shiny red apple. Why?

Considering that the most common red apple is the misnamed Red Delicious, which was bred not for flavor but looks and storage, it’s amazing that anyone would want to think about Red Delicious when they think “apple”.

Vaguely from my plant biology classes, I remembered that color was often dependent upon light. So might where apples were red be related to why red is seen as the color of apples? Were red apples more common in Europe?

But it’s even more complicated than that.

Apples do not breed true from seed. If you plant apple seeds you will not get an apple tree that bears the fruit of the apple you planted, most likely you’ll get a cider apple (which is what Johnny Appleseed was doing–planting seeds for cider apples, not the fruit).

You have to graft to get a reproducible apple variety.  So what grows in an area is dependent not just upon hardiness, but what humans have chosen to grow in any particular area.

Out of curiosity, I decided to look up what influences peel color in apples, and although light is important, temperature is also important, and colder temperatures increase anthocyanin production. Which makes sense in retrospect, since anthocyanis are protective. So you’ll get red apples where there is a lot of sun, but also where there are colder temperatures.

So red apples would seemingly be more likely to thrive in areas with harsher conditions (more UV or lower temperatures).

It still doesn’t make Red Delicious apples taste better, but it does help explain why we might have developed a preference for red apples.

(FWIW our other indepth discussion yesterday was use of silver to kill paranormal creatures and what kind of ammunition would be best (and easiest) to defend yourself. So don’t think that I spend my time pondering highfalutin topics.)

Red Color Development in Apple Fruit
Traverso, Amy. The Apple Lover’s Cookbook. W. W. Norton & Company.

Written by Michelle at 11:51 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food,Non-Sequiturs,Science, Health & Nature  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Baking 2017


First, a whine. Who decided that slice-and-bake cookie are easy?


I mean, they act like it’s easy to create a perfectly round log of the desired thickness, refrigerate it, and then cut off perfectly circular rounds.


I’ve tried refrigerating the dough in empty paper towel tubes, rotating the dough with every slice–doesn’t matter. They always turn out misshapen and I have to neaten them up before baking.

If I’m going to go to that much work, it’s much easier to just roll the dough out and use cookie cutters. Or even cut the cookies with a knife.

This? Bah humbug.

Now, onto the good (and the yummy)!


The Essential Baker by Carol Bloom:

Lemon Shortbread Coins


Fine Cooking Cookies:

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies



The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle:

Rum-Raisin Sandwich Cookies


Brandied Eggnog Cookies



Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett:

Praline-Pecan Coconut Bars


Chocolate Brandy Balls


The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett:

Iced Lemon Shortbread Cookies



Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich:


Chocolate Wafers


Vanilla Sugar Cookies



Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever:

Vanilla Frosting



The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion:



Bread Illustrated:

Cranberry Walnut Bread


Coconut Rum Balls

Bourbon Balls

Pumpkin Bread


Apple Cider

Written by Michelle at 11:43 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food,Photos  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

I tried several biscotti recipes over the holidays, and there were two I particularly liked. The double chocolate ones are good, but if I eat them in the evening, then I can’t get to sleep (because who can eat just one biscotti?!)

So it’s the Cranberry-Orange Biscotti that are on the menu this winter. And they are delicious.

Recipe based on Italian-Style Cranberry-Orange Biscotti from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (4 3/4 oz) sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange juice
Zest of one orange
1 tsp orange extract
1 cup (4 5/8 oz) dried cranberries
1 cup (4 oz) chopped walnuts, toasted
2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I’ll lightly grease the parchment paper to make removing the biscotti logs easier. Not required, but recommended.

Beat the eggs and sugar until light-colored creamy. If you start mixing the eggs and sugar and then go onto measure out everything else, as well as toasting and chopping the walnuts, you’ll come back and it’ll be done.

Beat in the baking powder, salt, vanilla, orange juice, zest, and extract.

Toss the walnuts and cranberries in with the flour, then add to the egg mixture, beating just until the flour is completely incorporated.

Create two dough logs on the parchment paper.

This is easier said then done. Here is the easiest way: Plop down blobs of dough roughly in two log shapes.

Wet your hands.

Using your wet hands, shape the dough into something resembling two logs.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

Don’t worry if the dough looks very wet after shaping. It won’t matter.

Bake the dough for 25 minutes at 350F.

After 25 minutes, remove the dough from the oven and drop the temperature to 325F.

As soon as it’s cool enough to do so, move one of the logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated bread knife, and cutting on the diagonal, cut 1/2″ thick slices. If your knife is sharp, you should need only to press down on the dough to cute it–avoid sawing which will break off bits of the cookies.

Arrange the slices on the cookie sheet (I stand them on end, but if they’re on their side, that’s fine), then cut the 2nd log in the same manner.

Bake the slices for 25 minutes at 325 F.

Cool on a rack, and then enjoy dipping in your favorite hot beverage.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

Written by Michelle at 7:42 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Saturday, January 28, 2017


For Kimby!

Homemade Pizza

The dough is from The New best of BetterBaking.com by Marcy Goldman. This was actually the first time I tried that dough recipe–usually I make pizza with a thinner crust, but this was good! (Especially since it was fast–the other recipes I was thinking of using wanted an overnight sponge. NOT the thing to read at 2PM when I want dinner at 5PM.)

1 3/4 cup water
2 tbsp instant yeast (yes, TWO TABLEspoons)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3 cups (13.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 – 2 cups (4.5 – 9 oz) bread flour

Mix together all ingredients except 1 cup of the bread flour. Knead on lowest mixer speed and add more flour, two (2) tbsp at a time, until the dough comes together.

Let dough rise for 45 minutes, or until almost doubled (I totally let it rise twice that, because: busy.)

~1 tbsp olive oil (Yeah, totally didn’t measure here)
1 pint canned crushed tomatoes
2 – 4 tbsp tomato paste (YAY! A use for the tomato paste I canned last summer!) (A)
1 – 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic (B)
~3/4 tsp dried oregano (See above comment)
~1 tsp dried parsley (See above)
~1/2 tsp salt

Put sauce ingredients into a small pot, and allow to simmer on low while the dough rises.

Once the dough has risen, roll it into on large or two smaller rectangles. Dust with flour then cover with a clean cloth to rise for half an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 400F for at least 30 minutes. If you have a baking stone, make sure it’s in the oven for the whole pre-heat. (C)

Uncover the dough and drizzle it with olive oil. (D)

Spread the sauce over the dough.

Sprinkle a bit of shredded Parmesan, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella. I used part of a ball of fresh whole-milk and a block of the part-skim stuff with the longer shelf life, because that’s what I had. If I have Provolone, I’ll add some of that as well.

Add toppings of your choice. This choice was black olives and mushrooms.

Dinner : ready for the oven

Bake 15-20 minutes. The crust should be browned. If it’s not, let it bake longer.

Dinner : Ready to eat

Brief note on yeast. If you think you’re going to do any amount of baking, then buy a container of yeast, and just store that container in the freezer once opened. That’ll keep the yeast longer.


(A) I have always HATED tomato paste–it always tastes like the tin to me, so making my own paste was MARVELOUS. It’s YUMMY and I use it ALL THE TIME NOW!
(B) I discovered that you can freeze garlic! (I tried pickling it last year and hated it.) So I mince a couple heads at a time, then freeze in 1 – 2 tbsp servings (An ice cube tray is what you want to use here if you don’t have a Food Saver.) Freeze the garlic into cubes then put those cubes into a ziploc bag and EASY! I do the same thing with lemon and lime juice, so it’s in tbsp servings, and I’m not wasting what I don’t use.
(C) If you have a baking stone, the easiest way to transfer a pizza is to roll it onto a sheet of parchment paper. Then use a flat cookie sheet to transfer the pizza back and forth. (Because I am NOT buying a pizza peel when a rimless cookie sheet and parchment work perfectly.)
(D) I’ve listened to enough food shows and read enough cooking magazines that I avoid Imported Extra-Virgin Olive oil, since much of it is adulterated. I can get California Olive Oil in our stores, which is what use now. I think it’s only an issue for EV Olive Oil.

Written by Michelle at 6:30 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Not Cookies

Poticza from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Thank you again to Tania for introducing me to this.



Cranberry-Walnut Bread from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I made this regularly through the winter, because it’s really delicious. And it has some whole wheat, that makes it healthy, yes?



Chocolate Truffles from Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

These were a PITA to make, at least using their directions.

But they were delicious, albeit ugly.

Pumpkin Pie


Sweet Potato Pie


Eggnog (with eggs I pasteurized, because I couldn’t find pasteurized eggs in the story)

Written by Michelle at 9:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Cut-Out Cookies

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

Lemon Thins
Twice-Baked Shortbread

Lemon Thins



Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

Butter Cookies

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich

Lemon Curd

Butter Cookies with Lemon Curd


The Essential Baker: The Comprehensive Guide to Baking with Chocolate, Fruit, Nuts, Spices, and Other Ingredients by Carole Bloom

Lemon Shortbread Coins



The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Sugar Cookies

Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques by Shauna Sever

Vanilla Frosting

Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Frosting

Written by Michelle at 9:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

The Books of 2016: Cookbooks

I finally got around to reviewing some of the cookbooks I’ve been reading and enjoying.

I’ve always loved baking, and I like cooking, but all my recipes were for families, so we’d eat the same thing for a week to eat all the leftovers, and, well, meh.

I started to enjoy cooking when I started using a recipe app that had a “scale” option, so could automatically recalculate the servings from four or six to two.

Baking, however, is a little different, since leavening doesn’t scale linerally, so the discovery of books with tested recipes for baked goods? Fabulous.


Dessert For Two: Small Batch Cookies, Brownies, Pies, and Cakes (2015) Christina Lane : 9/10

This is the first cookbook for two that I found, and it’s marvelous. If I want to tweak the recipes, I have the base from which to do it. But many of the recipes are marvelous as is (although they really are more than two servings).

Comfort and Joy: Cooking for Two (2015) Christina Lane : 8/10

I got this because I liked the dessert book so well, and was pleasantly surprised to find dinner recipes I liked just as well.


The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook (2014) America’s Test Kitchen : 8/10

This has more recipes, and like all of the America’s Test Kitchen recipes, you get the reasons why things work. But mostly I just like having recipes that are quick and I know will work.

If you click through any of the Amazon links and buy something, it’ll get me hapenny or so, which will eventually let me buy another book.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Drop Cookies

Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

Cranberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies



Maida Heatter’s Cookies by Maida Heatter

Cookie Kisses



The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Chocolate Walnut Holiday Cookies


Written by Michelle at 9:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Bar Cookies

Aside from brownies, I think the only time I made bar cookies is at Christmas.

Probably because the recipes make entirely too many cookies, and I either eat them until I’m sick, or they go to waste (or Michael eats too many).


Christmas Cookies by Oxmoor House

Cranberry-Caramel Bars

I follow this recipe only vaguely–primarily I just drizzle the caramel over the shortbread and cranberries, and then sprinkle the other bits on top.




Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

Cranberry Streusel Shortbread Bars

This is my first year making these, and I think they need some work as far as presentation. The dough is gloopy like a drop cookie, rather than sandy like a shortbread cookie. But if they taste good, I’m willing to tweak the recipe.




Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett

Praline-Pecan-Coconut Bars

OMG. I love these so much. I like to trim the edges off because it makes the bars neater, the cookies fit back in the pan better once sliced, and because then I have to eat those edges, since they won’t fit into the pan neatly.


Written by Michelle at 9:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Biscotti

Every December I find myself scrounging around trying to find last years list of proposed Christmas cookies, and trying to remember what cookies I made, and what cookies everyone liked best.

This year I’m making note of everything.

I’ve made several different kinds of biscotti, and I have Many Thoughts on how biscotti should be properly made.

Biscotti aren’t supposed to be “high fat”; a biscotti recipe without butter is the correct way (or the traditional Italian way) to make biscotti. I hate the “less fat” designation because it makes you think something is missing, rather than something is made correct.

Biscotti are for dipping into hot drinks. They are supposed to be crunchy and hard. If you make biscotti with butter, they may hold the flavor better, but they don’t properly absorb the liquid when you dunk them in tea or cocoa (or coffee).

Trying some biscotti and cocoa.

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

Chocolate Biscotti with Less Fat

These “low-fat” biscotti are very delicious, and my new favorite biscotti recipe–dutch process cocoa AND chocolate.



Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett

Cranberry Ginger Spice Biscotti
Spiced Chocolate Biscotti

Nope. The spices were interesting, but the butter made the texture all wrong, so I gave them all away. I learned my lesson–don’t even try making biscotti if the recipe has butter. I won’t like it.


The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Orange-Cranberry Biscotti


The KAF cookie book has two recipes for biscotti–Traditional Italian or American Biscotti. You then try any of the variations with your choice of base recipe.

I of course used the Traditional Italian base.

Couple things I’ve discovered making biscotti. First, even when using parchment paper, lightly grease the paper. It makes it much easier to slide the hot biscotti loaf onto the cutting board without burning your hands. Second, in a tip I learned in David Lebovitz’s Room For Dessert, once you blop the the dough into a log (or logs), wet your hands to shape and smooth the log–it makes the sticky dough much easier to handle.

Written by Michelle at 4:42 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Vanilla Cinnamon Bread

Vanilla Cinnamon Bread
from The New Best of Better Baking by Marcy Goldman

1 ½ cups warm water
2 ½ tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ tsp salt (vanilla salt if you have it)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp non-fat dry milk
¼ cup instant potato flakes (1)
3 ½ to 4 ½ cups bread flour (2) (3)

2 tbsp cinnamon
¼ cup sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)

Two 8- x 4- inch bread pans

Add yeast to water and let sit for a few minutes. Stir in butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, dry milk, and potato flakes / flour. Add 3 ½ cups of bread flour and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to form a soft dough. (As noted, I use potato flour, and it is a really sticky dough that never cleanly pulls away from the sides of the bowl.)

Let dough rise 30 to 45 minutes, or until about doubled.

Mix together cinnamon and sugar.

Roll out dough into a 12 by 10 rectangle. Brush dough with milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Roll up into a log and cut in half to make 2 loaves and place in pans. (I actually cut in half before rolling, and manipulate the roll, pinching in the ends, so that the cinnamon sugar bits are sealed inside. This makes a finished loaf that is a bit more like poticza and less like normal cinnamon bread, but makes the pans MUCH easier to clean. And I like the more random cinnamon swirld.)

Cover and let rise for 30-45 minutes, or until dough rises just above the edge of the pan.

Preheat oven to 350. I generally preheat for at least 30 minutes, or try to bake something else before the bread so the oven is definitely at temp, but then I keep a baking stone in the bottom of my oven.

Bake 35-45 minutes or until loaves are brown. Cool in pans for 15 minutes then remove from pan.

(1) I only have potato flour, and I’ve dropped it to 2 tbsp and it’s still a very sticky.
(2) 1 cup of flour = 4.5 oz for her recipes
(3) I’ve used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and added 1 tsp gluten

Written by Michelle at 5:43 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Peach Rum Sauce

for Amy

Peach Rum Sauce
From the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

6 cups chopped, pitted, peeled peaches
2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup rum
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Combine ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.

Reduce heat and boil, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 20 minutes.

¼ inch head space, process 8 oz jars for 10 minutes.

Written by Michelle at 5:41 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Finally! We found pawpaw!

The Arboretum is having pawpaw parties, where you can come and taste the fruit and–if you want–take seeds home to propagate.

Here are the fruits, plucked from trees in the Arboretum:


And here is what the insides look like. The pawpaw on the left is less ripe, the fruit on the right is more ripe.

Pawpaw innards (less ripe and more ripe)

The fruit really doesn’t taste like anything else grown in WV, and certainly not something growing wild.

If you have seeds, here is how to propagate pawpaw.

Written by Michelle at 6:22 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food,Photos,West Virginia  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cran-Apple Crisp for Two (or Three)

Cran-Apple Crisp for Two
(Minus the Cranberries, which I Forgot)

(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)

Serves 2 generously, or 4 if you want to be more healthy.

1.8 oz flour
1.9 oz light brown sugar
.875 oz oats
.75 oz coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
4 tbsp cold butter

2 medium or 3 small apples
1/2 cup cranberries
2.3 oz sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tbsp flour

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Mix the ingredients for the topping in a food process, or cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or your fingers.

Core and slice the apples (I don’t peel apples for desserts), mix with the sugar, cranberries, and spices.

Put the fruit mixture in the bottom of a small, square pan, or a small loaf pan, or a small round pan–whatever will hold it and is oven-safe.

Ready to go into the oven:

Apple crisp ready for the oven

Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.

Awaiting ice cream:

Awaiting ice cream

Top with vanilla ice cream.

Written by Michelle at 7:53 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food,Photos  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Strawberry Ice Cream

Last year I started thinking about all the fresh berries I can get at the Farmer’s Market, and how I often have trouble using them all.

“You know what would be awesome?” I said to myself. “Using them to make homemade ice cream!”
“Self,” I said, “That is a genius idea.”

This was our first attempt at making ice cream. I made strawberry ice cream, from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

Ingredients for the ice cream were: heavy cream, sugar, CreamLine whole milk (which we can get locally! In GLASS BOTTLES!). The strawberry puree was: strawberries, sugar, lemon juice.

Mash the strawberries with the lemon juice and sugar:


Whisk the sugar into the heavy cream, then add in the whole milk.

I strained the strawberries, and added the juice in after the whole milk.

Pour into the running ice cream maker:


The recipe, helpfully, says, “about two minutes before the ice cream is done, add in the strawberry puree. I just guessed.

Is it done yet? Is it done yet?


Looks done to me!




Next up, lemon frozen yogurt.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food,Photos  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Food Week: Turkey Burgers

Michael makes this, because meat squicks me out. This is also our fallback position when I don’t want to cook. We have these about once a week.

1 pound ground turkey
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs (or something similar)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/3 cup onion
4 tablespoons dried parsley
dash salt
dash pepper

Line cooking sheet with foil.

Squish together with your hands until ingredients are combined.

Make ~1/2 cup patties and place on cookie sheet NOT TOUCHING. Depending upon the size of your cookie sheet, you may need to make another layer of foil.

Place sheet–uncovered–in freezer for a couple hours. Once frozen solid, place into stacks and put in ziploc bags.

To cook, heat frying pan on low. Add 1 or 2 tbs oil. Add frozen patties to frying pan, cover, and cook on low until done.

Cheddar cheese
Turkey bacon
Fresh spinach
Red leaf lettuce

Serve with sweet potato fries, baked in the oven.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Food Week: Penne alla Vodka

This is a favorite of mine, adapted from the Cooks Illustrated Italian Favorites 2009.

1/4 cup minced onion
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 cup good quality vodka
1/2 cup neufchatel cheese (ie “light” cream cheese), softened and cut into squares
fresh Parmesan cheese
Penne pasta, 1 lb

Heat 4 quarts of salted water, to boiling.

Heat large saute pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, and then onion, cooking until onion is light golden. Add red pepper flakes, and then garlic, the add the tomatoes and ~1/2 tsp salt.

Once everything is well mixed, turn off flame and add vodka. Turn the flame back on, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or while pasta is cooking.

Cook pasta according to directions.

When pasta has a few minutes left to finish cooking, add cream cheese to tomato sauce. I’ve found that Philadelphia actually melts and incorporates better than the store brand, but YMMV.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour sauce over penne and stir.

Serve, with fresh Parmesan.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Food Week: Wraps

The hospital serves a really unhealthy version of this that is INSANELY delicious. I tried to make it healthier.

There is a LOT of room for flexibility here. You can use lime or lemon here, I personally hunted down lime powder, because I really like the flavor the lime adds.

And you don’t need a wrap if you can’t find a gluten free ones. For lunch, Michael just plops everything in a bowl to eat.

1/2 onion, sliced
chicken, sliced or cubed
garlic, minced
vegetable/canola oil
1 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
1 tsp cumin (or to taste)
lime juice (or lime powder) or lemon juice [When I need fresh lemon for something, I get several lemons, the put the remaining juice in ice cube trays to freeze, then store the cubes in a ziploc bag with the air sucked out. This works perfectly for me.]
hot sauce (I’m partial to Melinda’s Mango Hot Sauce)
spicy ranch dressing (this is the key ingredient to the uber deliciousness)
lettuce (or spinach) sliced/shredded
sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
wraps (I’m partial to spinach wraps; I know I’ve seen gluten free wraps]
rice (Mexican rice is an option, but I don’t like it. I’m actually happy with plain brown rice.)
1 can black beans
1 cup or so frozen corn

Mince the garlic into a tablespoon or so of oil, then set aside. Slice the onion (or mince it, but I think the slices work better with this recipe)

If you want the black beans and corn, heat 2 tbsp oil in a small pot. Add a clove or so of minced garlic, a tsp or so of cumin, the black beans, and the corn. Mix occasionally, until heated through, then drop the heat to low. Feel free to add other spices.

Heat your largest skillet over medium heat (a drop of water should sizzle fiercely). Add 2 or 3 tbsp of oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, saute the onion. While the onion is cooking, add the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Once the onion is soft and translucent, push it to the edge of the pan and add the chicken.

Spread the chicken evenly over the bottom of the pan and then STEP BACK AND WAIT. When you saute chicken, you want to let one side cook well–you’ll notice that when one side is cooked, it will actually unstick from the pan. This is when you can then stir it around to make sure the chicken is well-cooked. So you can poke individual pieces to see if they’ve become unstuck, but you’re better off not paying attention to it.

Once the chicken is sauted, add 1 to 2 tbsp lime juice and hot sauce to taste.

Heat wraps you’re immediately going to use on a place in microwave for ~10-30 seconds. They should be warm and pliable.

Layer chicken, rice, black beans & corn, cheese, lettuce, spicy ranch and wrap as best you can. If you are me, you’ll make a huge, but delicious mess as you eat.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Food Week: Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

This is very basic, and very delicious. We serve it with turkey sausage and fresh bread and butter. Fresh ingredients are a requirement–you’re not working with a lot here, so what you have HAS to be good.

Mis en place is important here. Get everything ready to go before you begin–water in the pot, eggs cracked and ready to go, garlic minced, etc. You don’t want to be scrambling (HA!) trying to do several things at once.

This recipe is adapted from “Cook’s Illustrated Italian Favorites 2010”.

2 slices bread (When I have leftover bread, I just process it and put it in the freezer for later)
10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, total
fresh ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
spaghetti or linguini or fettuccini, 1 serving per person
Fresh grated Parmesean cheese or Parmesean & Asagio mixed
1/4 cup fresh parsley (I’ve skipped this and it’s fine. If you use dried, use only ~1 tbsp)
1 large egg per person, each egg in a separate bowl,

To make bread crumbs:
Preheat oven to 375 F
Pulse bread in the food processor till you get crumbs.
In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, two (2) tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. It’ll start lumpy and then look like moist bread crumbs.

Toast bread crumbs for 8 to 10 minutes.

You can make a large batch of bread crumbs, store them in the freezer, and then just toast/heat them before using.

While the bread crumbs are toasting, start the pasta water boiling. Use a large pot, and salt the water well.

While the water is heating, heat a non-stick skillet on low heat. When the pan is hot, add 3 tbsp of olive oil (I actually use a little less). When the oil is hot, add the garlic, peeper, and some salt, stirring until the garlic foams, about 8 to 10 minutes. Once the garlic is cooked, put it into a small bowl.

At this point, I turn the pan down to low, to keep it warm.

When pasta is al dente, drain water and then return pasta to the pot. Add 3 tbs olive oil, garlic, parsley, and salt (I actually skip the salt here) and mix well.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in pan. Fry the eggs sunny side up.

Divide the pasta between the bowls, sprinkle with cheese, sprinkle with bread crumbs, then, when eggs are done, put a fried egg on top of the pasta in each bowl.

Serve and eat immediately.

The original recipe had you mix the Parmesan with the garlic and a 1/2 cup of pasta water, but for me, this turned into a lumpy mess. Sprinkling the cheese with the bread crumbs turned out MUCH better.

Written by Michelle at 12:45 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Food Week! First, the Basics

My friend NeuronDoc hates to cook, but she wants to cook more both because it’s healthier, and because she wants to sent a good example for her daughter.

So I’m going to a few recipes that I think are easy, and also very delicious.

But more importantly, some basics:

1. Use fresh ingredients, whenever possible. When you’re only using five or so ingredients, they have to taste good.

2. Most ground spices should be replaced once a year, as they lose their potency once they are oxidized (exposed to air). Whole spices keep longer, since they are ground.

3. You can do a lot of prep ahead of time–having serving sizes of pre-cut onion or chicken in the freezer makes life much easier.

4. Mis en place (French for “get your shit together before you start”) is incredibly important. Get everything laid out and ready to go, so you’re not halfway through a recipe and realize you don’t have something essential.

5. That said, there are lots of substitutions you can make, if you don’t like an ingredient, or you don’t have something on hand. Just know you’re going to be making a substitution BEFORE you start cooking.

6. Keep staples on hand. Find a recipe you like that’s really easy to make, and keep stuff for that on-hand, for nights when you want something easier. Making and freezing soups is also good for this. On our house, turkey burgers are the default fall-back position. They’re easy, they’re delicious, and you can experiment with things you put on them.

7. I am a HUGE fan of kitchen scales. Measure cups are good, but if you want to quickly measure spaghetti, taring a tall drinking glass and then measuring out 2 oz of pasta per person is really easy.

8. Almost everything I make contains garlic, because I love garlic. I always mince the garlic first, into a tablespoon or so of oil. This helps release the aromatic compounds AND the healthy compounds. Also, immediately after mincing the garlic, wash your hands with DISH soap. This should remove the oils that makes your hands stink.

If I remember, I’ll try to make an index here, for the recipes as I make them.

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

Other recipes:
Butternut Squash Risotto

Written by Michelle at 12:04 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Food  
Next Page »

Powered by WordPress

books main pictures cats e-mail