Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Minor Food Update

Since I am busy enjoying the holidays, I am not sure I will be able to post actual blogs this week, but I am still cooking!

So far this week, I've made an eggnog pound cake and herbed corn bread. Still to come are sausage balls and pumpkin praline pie.

The secret ingredient this week in the Iron Chef Blogger Challenge is pickles. Yes that's right, pickles. Haven't decided what to do yet, I'm really not sure I'll even be able to do anything. There is a recipe in the good old Paula Deen cookbook for pickled okra sandwiches, but it sounds a little scary even for me. We'll see what happens, I'm undecided at this point.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Blogger Challenge: Chipotle

I'm just going to tell you up front. I cheated on this blogger challenge. I learned about cheating from Sarah and her "Bok Choy" Stir Fry.

This recipe, in spite of having chipotle in the title, has only a tiny amount. The recipe website claims "The secret is the mixture of the chipotle chile peppers and paprika which gives a flavorful kick to the chicken."

However - it's only a quarter of a teaspoon of ground chipotle. (Not even whole chiles!) And, as if all of that weren't bad enough, I didn't even use ground chipotle. I used Mexican Chile Powder. (The only ground chipotle at Ralph's was $10 a bottle! That's ridiculous!)

I will pause for a moment while you judge me.

Are you done?


Even though it didn't technically include the secret ingredient, this chicken was delicious! It's very lemony with just enough spice. Also, you get to pound the chicken breast with a meat mallet, which is always an activity that I enjoy.

I'm just going to link to the recipe, because I got it off of, and I'm feeling a little lazy to type today.

Before I head off for the night to watch Christmas specials and the Closer, here are some other links.

This is another mushroom recipe from last week's mushroom challenge. It is not only for a delicious sounding mushroom ravioli, but the blog is hilarious.

And this is some chipotle chili. Yum! (It has actual chiles in it, in case you felt cheated by this chicken).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Southern Tea Cakes

I felt the need to make Christmas cookies yesterday, and it was a lot of fun. It probably would have been better if I'd had any sprinkles or anything else to decorate them with, but oh well. The cookies were delicious anyway!

I must say though, I have an awful time trying to roll out dough. I had the same problem with the biscuits I made last weekend. I put flour on the rolling pin, but the dough keeps sticking to it and tearing apart.. it's just a whole mess.

Anyway, this recipe is from Paula Deen's "The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook". I halved it, because it said it would make between 6 and 8 dozen cookies. The halved recipe did not make anywhere close to 3 to 4 dozen though, so I'm not sure that was accurate. However, it could also have a lot to do with my dough-rolling issues and the size of the cookies that I made. I did some tree shaped ones that were sort of large.

So, here it is:

Southern Tea Cakes

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder together.* Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Dough should be soft. Roll dough out onto a floured surface until approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into desired shapes and bake on a slightly greased sheet for 10 to 12 minutes.

*If you don't have one of those flour sifter things, just use a mesh wire strainer. It works just as well. I actually compared the two, because I recently bought a flour sifter. I honestly shouldn't have wasted my money, the flour looks almost exactly the same either way.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blogger Challenge: Mushrooms!

The secret ingredient this week for this week was mushrooms. I was so so excited to make these cheese and spinach stuffed mushrooms, but they were ultimately really disappointing.

I wasn't incredibly pleased with the way the mushrooms looked at the store, the cheese I used didn't really melt properly, the spinach was too stringy, and I think I let them sit too long before I ate them. I uploaded a picture anyway, but I think for the time being we can just classify this one as misadventure. I'm not really going to bother uploading the recipe, since I don't recommend it. It's okay though, I'm sure I learned a valuable lesson somewhere along the way!

Here are some links to other Iron Chef Blogger's recipes that look much more delicious than mine:

Stuffed Mushrooms with Bacon
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

And finally, the photo of my stuffed mushrooms:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Basic Biscuits

As you can tell from the picture, these biscuits did not exactly turn out beautifully. They do taste pretty good, which I suppose is what really matters.

This recipe is also from Paula Deen's "The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook", but I find the title misleading. To me, a basic biscuit recipe does not require yeast. This is my second sort of unsuccessful try at baking with yeast. There are so many things I could be doing wrong, I don't even attempt to guess what they are. Maybe someday I'll work it out.

You may have better luck, so I'll add the recipe anyway. Like I said, they did still taste good and didn't take me that long to make. It just made a bit of a mess on my counter that I still need to clean up (in spite of using wax paper to roll out the dough). Also, I skipped greasing my baking pan and just put down some parchment paper instead.

Basic Biscuits

1 package yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup Crisco shortening
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside. Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening. Add yeast and buttermilk and mix well. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and roll out to desired thickness. Cut with small biscuit cutter and place on greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Rum Cake

This was my first bundt cake, as well as my first time cooking with alcohol (or attempting to cook with alcohol, as we'll see shortly).

It was pretty easy to make. I'm easily fascinated with things like putting nuts at the bottom of a bundt pan (when you flip it out of the pan, the nuts are on top!). I had some trouble getting all the glaze to absorb into the cake, but I think it turned out well in spite missing a bit of glaze.

The main stumbling block I faced was not wanting to spend between 12 and 15 dollars on rum. Apparently Ralph's does not sell rum in small bottles, and I didn't need the whole thing. I ended up using a rum extract instead (the entire bottle, as it turned out), but I saved a bit of money by doing this (rum extract was only $3), and I don't think the cake really suffered for it. If you're curious, for every 1/4 cup of rum, I used 1 tablespoon of rum extract and 3 tablespoons of water.

My favorite thing about bundt cake is that it doesn't require a pan to transport, so you can transport it easily without having to worry about getting your pan home again.

I thought it was delicious. I made it for a friend's birthday, and it seemed to be well-received. It didn't taste as strongly of rum as I was afraid it might (maybe because I didn't use actual rum?), and it actually reminded me of eggnog a little for some reason.

Rum Cake
from Paula Deen's "The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook"

1 cup chopped walnuts
One 18 1/2 ounce package yellow cake mix
One 3 1/2 ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark rum

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.* Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan. Mix remaining ingredients together. Pour batter over nuts. Bake for 1 hour. Cool. Invert on service plate. Prick top with fork or toothpick. Drizzle and smooth glaze evenly over top and sides. Allow cake to absorb glaze. Use all the glaze.


4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark rum

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in rum.

*I used a fluted bundt pan instead of a tube pan (which is straight-edged). Didn't seem to make a difference, and the cake was prettier. I suppose the cake shape might have made it more difficult to glaze, but I don't think so.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blogger Challenge: Bok Choy!

I'm totally getting ahead on the blogger challenge this week. This week's secret ingredient is bok choy. I was very pleased with this for two reasons.

The first is that I have been absolutely in love with Chinese food since our trip to China this past summer. I ate SO MUCH bok choy while we were there, I wanted to try to recreate it.

The second reason is actually connected to the first reason. Because all I want to do is eat Asian food since we returned, my dad got me this Chinese cookbook I'd been wanting for my birthday. It is called 'Simple Chinese Cooking' by Kylie Kwong. One of the first things that caught my eye in it was Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce.

And it was delicious. It tasted just like the dish I ate during at least two meals a day during my ten days in China. I like the flavor of bok choy. It's leafy but thicker than most greens.. I don't quite know what to compare it to. The oyster sauce was strong than I expected but still tasty. As an added bonus, it was amazingly easy to make.

This could very well be all the blogging I do for the week. I've been cooking like mad for the last week. It's time for a break to finally get all the dishes washed!

Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce

1 bunch bok choy, cores removed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
dash of sesame oil
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Separate bok choy leaves and wash thoroughly.

Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Stir in vegetable oil, add bok choy and simmer until bok choy is bright green and tender - this should take about 1 minute. Using tongs, immediately remove bok choy from water and place on a platter. Drizzle with oyster sauce and sesame oil.

Heat peanut oil in a small frying pan until moderately hot and carefully pour over bok choy. Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cranberry-Apple Pie

Okay, this is finally it for the cranberries! After this, it's on to bok choy - this week's secret ingredient.

This might be my favorite cranberry item so far. Although, I must confess now - I still did not make homemade pie crust. I actually quite like the Pillsbury refrigerated ones, and they're so easy.. it's sort of addictive. They make pie happen so much faster. Someday I will make a homemade pie crust. I just get scared.

This pie is delicious. It gets Travis's stamp of approval as well, and he's pretty picky. It's very simple, the cranberries are tart and the apples are sweet. It requires more sugar than a standard apple pie would, probably to be sure that the cranberries don't end up too bitter. The instructions call for "tart apples".. I always use Granny Smith, but I suppose there are probably other variations of tart apples as well. The recipe comes from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook.

Cranberry-Apple Pie

Pastry for Two-Crust Pie
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
dash of salt
5 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (5 medium)
2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries

1. Heat oven to 425. Prepare pastry.

2. Mix sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir in apples. Turn into pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with margarine.

3. Cover edge with 3-inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 40-50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. Cool in pie plate on wire rack. Serve warm if desired.

Blogger Challenge: Cranberry!

This week, it was my turn to pick the secret ingredient! I wanted to do something related to Thanksgiving, and cranberries just seemed like the thing to do. It's so easy to find fresh ones right now, and it's an ingredient that I've grown to like a lot more in the last couple of years than I did as a kid. I still have fresh berries left, so I'm planning a cranberry-apple pie later today. (I'm on a spree of trying desperately not to waste any food.)

I settled on making cranberry-orange muffins. The original recipe was for a streusel muffin, but I left off the streusel topping in the interest of making them slightly healthier. The recipe is from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook (the 1996 edition).

The muffins are really yummy. The cranberries are a little tart, but it blends nicely with the sweetness of the muffin. I'm not sure I ended up with quite enough orange zest, but there is still a hint. The orange smell is stronger than the orange taste, if that's possible. Also, the recipe calls for the cranberries to be halved. I chopped mine up a little smaller, because I don't really like big chunks of fruit in my muffins.

Cranberry-Orange Muffins

1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1//2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cranberry halves
1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1. Heat oven to 400. Grease bottoms only of 12 medium muffin cups with shortening or line with paper baking cups.

2. Add orange zest to milk. Beat milk, oil, vanilla and egg in a large bowl. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt all at once, just until flour is moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Fold in cranberries. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan to wire rack. Serve warm if desired.

I also had leftover canned cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving, so I made Paula Deen's Berry Steak Sauce. It was delicious on pork chops! It can be served either hot or cold (mine was cold) with pork, beef, or chicken. The recipe calls for jellied cranberry sauce, but I had whole berry. It was still good - the only problem with using whole berry is that there were still some berry bits in it. I think it would be slighly better with jellied sauce, just because it would be smoother.

Berry Steak Sauce

1 16 oz can jellied cranberry sauce
1/3 cup bottled steak sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons prepared mustard

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

Finally, here are some other cranberry recipes that the Iron Chef bloggers have made this week!

Cranberry Cinnamon Muffins
Cranberry Sorbet

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Another successful Thanksgiving has come and gone. I've moved onto Christmas decorating now, the tree is up with lights and just needs ornaments. Today is also my last day to finish my recipe for the Iron Chef Blogger challenge, the secret ingredient is cranberries. Actually, I'm making two different cranberry dishes today, which should be fun.

I didn't host Thanksgiving at my apartment this year, but I did make four different things. It was really fun! The fourth was a lemon gooey butter cake, but I somehow neglected to get a picture of it. It was pretty tasty though.

This is Paula Deen's broccoli salad. It is: a head of broccoli, chopped up into small pieces, some crumbled bacon, halved cherry tomatoes, cheddar cheese cubes, and red onion. The recipe also calls for 1/2 cup of raisins. I swapped this out for 1/2 cup of chopped almonds. The sauce is mayonnaise with some sugar and vinegar. It doesn't sound amazing, but it was really good.

I finally managed to make some cornbread dressing with sausage. It was not quite as good as my mom or dad's, but it was still pretty tasty. It just got a little dry, I wasn't really paying enough attention to it. With the addition of some gravy, it was scrumptious.

And who doesn't love sweet potatoes with tiny marshmallows? Tiny marshmallows don't take 10 minutes to brown, don't believe Food Network Magazine!

Thanksgiving was amazing, as always. Michele F makes a mean maple-bacon turkey and fantastic mashed potatoes. Not to mention the sweet tea, mmm!

No time for full recipes today, I've got muffins to bake and a tree to decorate! Travis just brought in the cut pieces from the tree, they smell so wonderful. Happy holidays, hope everyone had as wonderful a Thanksgiving as I did!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Maggie's Blogger Challenge: Coconut Milk!

My friend Maggie is also participating in the Iron Chef Blogger Challenge. Since she doesn't have a blog, I'm posting her blog for her. I've known Maggie since we both were going to school in Knoxville. She's super fun and lives in Huntsville now with her husband, Michael, who is also pretty great. So, I think that's enough bio for now, onto the curry!

Chicken & Vegetable Curry

1 can coconut milk
Like 14 thousand tbs of green curry (because I made the mistake of buying tyling from the grocery store)
3 chicken tenderloins (cubed)
1 small onion
2 small potatoes (parboiled for 4 minutes)
½ cup green peas
At least 2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs fish oil
Chili paste
Lime juice
Fresh basil
Salt to taste

In one saucepan, combine the coconut milk, green curry, fish oil, and brown sugar. Bring to soft boil and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Season additional curry, sugar, & optional chili paste & lime juice to taste.

In a small amount of oil, sauté the chicken, onions, and parboiled potatoes. When browned, add the sauce and simmer whole dish for additional 5-10 minutes.

Garnish with fresh basil & serve on jasmine rice.

This was just okay – I’ve made curries before but bought the paste from asian grocery stores. I mark against this recipe based on my chosen ingredients. It really needed the chili paste, lime juice, sugar, and salt desperately.

- Maggie

Pumpkin Pie + Variation

I made two pies yesterday, one pumpkin and one from Paula Deen's The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook called a Thanksgiving Pie.

I beat the pumpkin shortage by having had a giant can of pumpkin in my cabinet for the past several months. There is really no keeping me from my pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. It turns out that for Thanksgiving dinner I'm actually making a lemon gooey butter cake, and it seemed a shame not to make pies at some point.

This is the pumpkin pie. I made it from a recipe in my beaten up and broken copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. It actually needed a bit more evaporated milk, but I'm assuming that adding whipped cream will solve this just fine (it's just a smidge to "spicy" for me - by this I mean full of spices rather than spicy-hot). Then it was on to the Thanksgiving Pie!


3 eggs
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350. With hand beater, beat eggs well. Beat in corn syrup, sugar, butter, pumpkin, and vanilla until well blended.

Arrange pecans in bottom of pie shell.

Slowly pour egg mixture over them. (As I learned, if you are using an aluminum pie plate, it would really be best to do this on the oven rack.)

Bake for 1 hour or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Served with whipped cream.

I didn't even use the whipped cream, and this pie was amazing. It might even be better than regular pumpkin pie. It's like all the best parts of pumpkin pie and pecan pie combined into one. Has a texture sort of like custard. I'm trying to wait until after dinner tonight to eat another piece, but I might not make it! I was planning to take both pies to work tomorrow, but I may hold onto this one out of selfishness...

Also, I did not burn either pie crust! This is unusual for me, because I almost always burn my crust. I remembered to put foil around them before putting them in the oven. I think it also may be because I followed Alton Brown's advice and used aluminum pans instead of a glass pie plate.

I still used the refrigerated dough that you unroll for these, but the next time I make a pie, I'm hoping to be brave enough to try homemade crust. We'll see how that goes.

Finally, the secret ingredient this week for the Iron Chef Blogger Challenge is cranberries! It was my week to pick, and I wanted to do something with a bit of a Thanksgiving theme. I'm excited to see how it turns out.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blogger Challenge: Coconut Milk!

I was so excited when Carrie picked the secret ingredient this week and it was coconut milk. I've actually had a can in the cabinet for a few weeks, with the intention of making this Thai Coconut Soup. I love Thai food, but I've never actually cooked it. It was really quite exciting!

Squirrels love Thai Coconut Soup. You have to watch out for them.

As a side note, this is also my favorite pot to cook in - it's an enameled cast iron dutch oven.


Saute 3 sliced garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons grated ginger, 1/4 cup chopped lemongrass, 1 teaspoon each cumin and coriander and a Thai chile in oil.

Add 1 sliced raw chicken breast and 1 sliced onion, cook 5 minutes.

Add shredded bok choy, 4 cups water, 1 can coconut milk, cilantro, and two tablespoons fish sauce. Simmer 8 minutes.


This was really delicious. I didn't use the Thai chile, because I was concerned that it might be too spicy. Fish sauce smells really strong, but it was pretty mellow when cooked into the soup. It was really fast to make, with the one exception being that it me forever to grate the ginger. I'm going to call this my most successful week yet!

Here are some of the other coconut milk recipes from this week:

At Two Friends Cook: Indonesian Coconut Chicken, Coconut Scones, and Chicken Satay

Brazilian Soup and Pan de Coco

Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Leek, and Coconut Milk Soup

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blogger Challenge: Rhubarb!

The blogger challenge begins with: rhubarb! I settled on rhubarb crisp after a few missteps, since pies were ruled out. This is my first time having ever tasted, much less cooked with rhubarb, and it was an interesting experience.

This morning at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, I considered myself quite lucky to be able to find fresh rhubarb, since it seemed like everyone else had to get it frozen. After wandering about the market a little longer, I headed home. Only when I get there, I realized I no longer had any rhubarb. So, back I went, only to find it at the bagel stand.

Then, as I was getting to start on the glaze for a rhubarb-glazed pork roast, I discovered I had only purchased enough rhubarb for 2 cups chopped, when I needed 4. So, off to Ralph's to supplement with frozen, only by then it was too late for glaze. Hence, the crisp.

So... the crisp is... okay. I don't love it, but I wouldn't say that I dislike it either. The topping is made of oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter. The rhubarb is more tart than I expected. I think I might like to try making a pie with it someday, but certainly not tonight. I have had way too many rhubarb adventures for one weekend.

Over at Two Friends Cook, you can see Carrie's Wild Blueberry Rhubarb Pork Chops and Sarah's Rhubarb Pudding Cakes (which look beautiful... my food photography skills are still a bit lacking). Can't to see what everyone else has made.

That's all for this week, but keep an eye out, because the next week? It's time for Blogger Challenge: Coconut Milk!

Paula Deen's Luscious Lime Cheesecake

This is the cake that I made for Travis's birthday. His review is "a perfect cake". I think it could probably use a bit more lime, it was awfully sweet. I actually had the same issue with Paula Deen's lemon bars when I made those. There just isn't quite enough citrus flavor.

I didn't cover the full cake with whipped cream as the recipe called for, because Travis is vehemently opposed to whipped cream in both principle and practice. And, after all, it was his birthday. But I did add some to my slice and thought it was good.


1 (18 3/4 ounce) package yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip, or 2 cups heavy cream, whipped with 1/2 cup sugar until stiff
lime slice, for garnish


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Reserve 1/2 cup dry cake mix. In large bowl, combine remaining cake mix, 1 egg, and oil. Mix well (mixture will be crumbly). Press evenly in bottom and 1 and 1/2 inches up sides of greased 13x9 inch pan.

In same bowl, beat cheese until fluffy. Beat in condensed milk until smooth. Add remaining eggs and reserved cake mix and beat 1 minute at medium speed. Stir in lime zest, lime juice and vanilla. Pour into prepared crust. Bake for 50 - 55 minutes or until center is firm.

Cool to room temperature. Chill thoroughly. Spread Cool Whip over top. Cut into squares to serve. Garnish with lime slices.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Iron Chef Blogger Challenge

So, my friend Sarah had this awesome idea for an Iron Chef Blogger Challenge. Essentially, she and some her friends will be choosing a secret ingredient every week, cooking a recipe with it, and blogging about it. There are rules and time frames and everything. And I get to participate!

This will be happening over at Two Friends Cook, a blog that Sarah and her friend Carrie started to stay in touch via food, since they live in different states. They have graciously invited me to post over there with my results each week.

If anyone else wants to participate, let me know - even if you don't think you can do it every week or post the blogs yourself. We can work it out!

We'll be taking turns picking secret ingredients, and I'd love some suggestions, either in the comments or on Facebook. For a sneak peek, this week's secret ingredient is rhubarb, but we aren't allowed to make pie. I hope you'll check out the results when it's done.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sugared Peanuts

It's a very special blog day! I decided to document the process of making sugared peanuts, step by step. They are really really good. I think this would also be good with almonds.

To start, you'll need two cups of raw peanuts and a cup of sugar. You'll also need water and salt. It took me a pound of raw shelled peanuts, a meat mallet, and about 30 minutes to get 2 cups of raw peanuts. You may want to skip this step if you can find already shelled raw peanuts. But, there also something sort of cathartic and fun about the shelling process. Additionally, you should be pre-heating your oven to 300.

Dissolve the sugar and salt in 1/2 cup of water over medium heat. Add the peanuts. You need to cook this, stirring it pretty often, until the peanuts are completely coated and there is no syrup left. It doesn't seem very likely for a while, but it will work. I promise!

See! It totally worked. Sugared peanuts! Yes, that is also my finger. I guess I'm pointing at them? No, I'm not really sure why.

Put the peanuts on a cookie sheet (the recipe says un-greased, but I like to put some non-stick foil on pretty much every pan I put in the oven). Spread them out as much as you can. Bake them for 30 minutes, and stir them every 5 minutes. Don't stir them too vigorously, or peanuts will fly about your oven, and you'll have to fish them out before they start a fire. It's unpleasant, trust me.

And then they're done, and super delicious! Seriously, I wish I had some more right now. We snacked on them here for several days. Apparently I missed a tiny bit of syrup that got onto the pan with the peanuts, but it just turned it to something that tasted a bit like peanut brittle (and came right off the non-stick foil, ha!). Not a bad problem to have.

So there you go! You should really try these, they're one of my favorite things that I've made lately. Like candy, but you can pretend like they aren't bad for you because of the protein involved. Good luck with that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Catch-up Time!

It's catch-up blog time! These photos are actually in reverse order of when they were taken, due apparently to my inadequacies at uploading.

During this time, I also braised some leeks. Having never had leeks, I found them delicious. However, in the photo, they looked horrifingly unappetizing.

I also made some hoecakes and some oyster stew, neither of which came out very well. The hoecakes were too thick and so didn't really fry up crispy. The oyster stew was just plain bad. The butter kept separating from the cream and it was way too spicy. But oh well, it happens, right?

Finally, I seem to be missing a picture from Imo's Pizza in St. Louis. I don't usually like thin crust pizza, but this was really good. It wasn't too tomatoey, the toppings were under the cheese, and it was a bit more acidic than a lot of pizza. I ate way too much.

This is my Mom, Travis, and I sampling some original Ted Drewes frozen custard in St. Louis. It was amazing! They have many other flavors. The one that caught my attention the most was called The Great Pumpkin, which was pumpkin pie mixed with the frozen custard and topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. Yum!

This is a fried scallop sandwich from Malibu Seafood. The scallops and the fish there are really fantastic, but this sandwich was really only so-so. The cheese was too thick and not quite melted, and the scallops really had no inclination or reason to stay in the bun where they belonged.

These are some blonde brownies I made, which if I must say - they were delicious. They were a big hit at my office too. Nutty and chocolatey without being overwhelming. It's a Paula Deen recipe, so of course not good for you in any way whatsoever.

This is a sampling of goods that I got from Wonder Bakery in Downtown LA. The two smaller pastries weren't very good, in fact, I can't even remember what the top one is. The longer thinnish one is a BBQ pork bun. I think it might have been better with regular pork instead of BBQ, I wasn't a big fan. However, the square item is honey cake, and it was sooo good. It had that great spongeiness of angel food cake, but with better flavor. I highly recommend it.

And finally, this is a honey-glazed cornish game hen with rice pilaf. It was really good too and also a Paula Deen recipe. Sadly, I didn't really like the rice as much after getting the glaze and hen-juice all over it. The things I do for the sake of bad food photography. Seriously, I know the photos need a lot of work. Travis says something about white-balance, but I don't even know what that means.

So that's it! I'm all caught up on my food blog! But, I'm still cooking, so hopefully more to come soon. Today I found some raw peanuts at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, so I'm hoping to roast those. Plus, brussel sprouts are in season, and I have some fresh salmon from Santa Monica Seafood to play with. Sounds like a fun weekend!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Last China Blog

So, in an effort to get caught up on this whole blogging thing, I'm throwing out one last China food blog. Yum!

This whole fish was really good. We had fish like this a few times, always with this sort of sweet and sour crust on it. It was quite delicious, if difficult to eat family style. In the back right, there is a plate of baby bok choy - we must have had this at every meal. In fact, there were several times that the vegetarians in the tour group pretty much subsisted on baby bok choy and rice.

China did not seem to be an especially vegetarian-friendly country, or at least not the places we ate on our tour. One man in our tour group seemed especially frustrated that they seemed to think that vegetarians only ate vegetables (I was never quite sure exactly what he wanted. He complained one day that a friend of his took him to a Peking Duck restaurant in Beijing the night before the tour started, and all he had to eat was grass. I never figured out if he was being literal or not.) Once, they threw in some tofu, and that seemed to appease him a bit.

Mmm, this was from our dumpling feast in Xi'an, possibly my favorite food of the whole trip (the closest contender is some homemade noodles we had outside of Xi'an). After a number of cold dishes, some noodles, etc. we started the dumpling feast. There were either 17 or 19 types of dumplings in all - enough for everyone at the table to have one of each. My favorites were some of the seafood and duck, least favorites included something so spicy I couldn't breathe and this walnut thing (too thick, ugh). They were also shaped beautifully - many of them were shaped like the food that was in them. I found this link that has more pictures of the restaurant and dumplings. By the time we left, I was so full I thought I might explode, and we had to walk what felt like miles (but Travis insists was not far at all) in 110 degree heat.

There are more pictures on my flickr site of foods that I saw but didn't eat: stinky tofu, soup dumplings, a steamed bun restaurant, and something very tentacle-y. Just click on the China set on the right hand side.

There was so much amazing food on this trip - the first thing we ate still stands out, which was this amazing fried rice and dumplings at our hotel in Beijing, which we ate while extraordinarily jet-lagged. We couldn't understand how we could be expected to eat so much food, and we eventually gave up, embarrassed. Only later did we learn that it is customary to serve too much food, and it was be considered rude to ask for less or to complain about it being wasteful or anything like that.

That in itself should give you an idea of how hospitable and friendly the Chinese people generally are. China is really an amazing place. The people obviously love their country, and they are so proud of it's sights, sounds, and food - most people we saw seemed to take a great deal of pleasure in seeing tourists enjoy their surroundings. It seems like I have so much to say, but I think wraps it up pretty well. Next, I'm on to catching up on the various things I've cooked and eaten since getting back to California! Yay!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chinese Breakfast

I really loved breakfast when we were China. The thing about Chinese breakfast foods is that, well, they really don't exist. The Chinese eat roughly the same types of things for breakfast that they would at any other time of day.

I think this breakfast was the 2nd day of our tour, in Beijing, and I remember sitting down to eat and just being so pleased with the world in general, it was really quite good. There's nothing like mixing bacon with spring rolls, grilled tomatoes, fried rice, and dumplings.

Our breakfasts were always buffet style, and they were always a mix of Western, Chinese, and Japanese foods (I suppose because of the large number of Japanese tourists in the hotels). I could never quite figure out what that pastry was, but it was delicious. But my favorite, by far, was dumplings. I could (and probably did) eat dumplings at every meal. I mean, you can put anything inside them, so it's really an all-purpose food.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

brought to you by: China!

So, I went to China recently, and I ate a lot of seriously awesome food. It led to me making a decision to expand the food blog beyond food I cook and into food that I eat. This is the first lunch we had upon joining our tour group in China:

I was so excited.

Basically, most of our meals involved sitting at a round table for 8 with a giant lazy susan in the middle. Waitresses would constantly bring out more dishes with enough for everyone to grab some food. This particular lunch had 15 dishes, and I would say that was pretty standard while we were there. It was a really good vacation for food. I really love the cabbage (under the chopsticks) and also the fried corn in the center. The pork on the right side was braised and served in a large pot. I don't remember what was in the empty space, but obviously it was delicious, since I finished it prior to remembering to take a photo. :)

This is a picture of a dinner where you can see the lazy susan in use:

I'm awfully tired this evening, I really just wanted to throw my upcoming blog changes out there. I have more China food to discuss as well as some things I actually cooked! So long for now.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Veal and Creamed Spinach

This one is actually from last weekend, but it was pretty yummy. Recipe can be found here. It was really quite good. Not sure how Travis felt about the veal, but I thought it was pretty tasty. Plus, I love creamed spinach, and this was the first time I had ever attempted it.

However, there seems to be some sort of regional difference between "bunches" of greens. This recipe calls for one bunch of spinach, and the collard green recipe that I love calls for one bunch of greens as well. But, that is never enough. You can sort of tell from the photo that there is too much cream and there are way too many onions. Next time I will just have to remember to buy extra spinach!

There probably won't be much cooking going on this weekend. Yesterday Travis and I went on a 6-mile hike at Malibu Creek State Park (fun but totally exhausting), then to see The Hangover (so so funny). There was some good food to be had though. Had my first falafel at the Malibu Country Mart, which was delicious, and rotisserie chicken with roasted potatoes at this place by the movie theater, which was not so delicious.

Today I'm just marinating some flank steak for dinner to have with baked potatoes, and I'm about to go cut up some strawberries to make strawberry shortcake for dessert. Sort of cheating though, instead of making my own shortcake, I got those little cups from the bakery. Oh well, there's other stuff to do! And with that, I'm off.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


This isn't a recipe that I checked off or anything, I just really liked the photo and wanted to share. I had originally planned to make a shrimp and artichoke bake for dinner, but it just didn't sound good anymore. So, I just followed the directions on the Old Bay seasoning container and ended up with the most delicious peel and eat shrimp I've ever had. I had no idea it was so easy. Leaves me with plenty of time to clean up and get ready to go see the Avett Brothers this evening.

French Coconut Pie

This is a French Coconut Pie that I made this afternoon. Despite my best efforts, I still managed to overcook one side of the crust a smidge. I blame the fact that I was simultaneously trying to beat Guitar Hero World Tour (which I did!).

It tastes sort of similar to a chess pie, but with coconut. Mmm... it's a shame I already had one piece today.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Two Dinner Salads

Today for dinner, I had Tomato and Mozzarella Salad, and some Avocado Chicken Salad. Since Travis is in South Carolina, I am taking full advantage of the situation to eat foods he finds completely disgusting.

I realize it doesn't look all that appetizing (my food photography skills may require a little work), but it was actually quite delicious.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad is easy - just toss some tomatoes with olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. It's best if you let it chill a little, but not absolutely necessary. You can use whole tomatoes and a whole piece of fresh mozzarella and slice them, but I like to cut some grape tomatoes in half and use little baby mozzarella balls. Either way is fine. Definitely use fresh mozzarella though, from the deli section. You can tell, it'll be really soft, not like the weird kind over by the ricotta and refrigerated pasta.

The Avocado Chicken Salad is a really long recipe that you can find here. In the salad, I used half mayonnaise and half sour cream instead of all mayo. I also used a bit less avocado in the salad, but the full amount in the dressing. I tend to prefer avocado pureed or mashed rather than in chunks. I feel like the dressing is really the best part. Things like this make me so happy to own a food processor.

Even though it's salad for dinner, I wouldn't go around thinking this is overly healthy. The nutritional value of Paula Deen's recipes is rarely posted, but I once saw her make this salad on TV and heard her say that she had never much cared for avocados until she found out they were fattening!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Best Ribs Ever

I feel like it's important to take a minute to discuss the best ribs that you can possibly make in an oven. I don't have a grill, and I love ribs, so this is an issue that is dear to my heart. And it's really quite simple.

Just take your ribs, rub both sides with liquid smoke and some seasonings and leave them in the fridge for 4-24 hours. For seasoning, I use Paula Deen's house seasoning (which is a combination of salt, pepper, and garlic powder that I use on pretty much everything and keep a tupperware container of at all times) and seasoned salt.

Before you get really overwhelmed by the planning that will have to go into doing this 4-24 hours ahead of time, I would like to note that I rarely (if ever) remember to do this. I find that even an hour increases the yumminess factor, but if I forget entirely, they still turn out good.

Once you've done this, roast the ribs on about 325 for an hour and a half. If you like sauce, you can add some about half an hour before they're done. Sometimes I do, but usually I prefer my ribs dry.

I just finished eating the leftover ribs for lunch (forgot to take a photo before they were all gone.. oops!), and writing this has already made me hungry again.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cookie Day!

Yesterday was a cookie day, which is a lovely sort of day. I really love these cookies, and I ate three. This probably negated the hour of Pilates I did in the morning.

This post was edited, because the first time I forgot to add this awesome cookie photo!

Chewy Pecan Cookies

This recipe yields approx. 5 dozen - I cut it in half, as I was making cookies for two people, not an army.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter
One 16-oz box of brown sugar (I used light, but I suppose dark would work too)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 300. Melt butter and sugar together in a double boiler, remove from heat. Add eggs and vanilla. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to egg mixture, mix well. Stir in nuts. Drop spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

These cookies are so good! I don't even always like pecans that much. The first batch I made came out pretty crispy. On the second try, the cookie batter ran together a little, and those are chewier.

I know the double boiler thing makes it sound really complicated, but it's really not. You can make your own double boiler by putting a metal or glass bowl inside another pan. Be sure the bowl fits snugly and only goes about halfway into the pan. I like using glass, because it conducts heat nice and evenly. Also because you can see the water boiling underneath, and it feels like a crazy science experiment. You should also be careful, because the bowl does get really hot. I use a small casserole dish, because the little handles on the side reduce the odds that the bowl will slip and fall into the boiling water underneath.

I am hoping to post a blog later this evening about ribs and collard greens, but we'll see. Maybe later on in the week, so that all my blog posts aren't on Sundays. It's just that I do the most cooking then :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

okay food, wonderful weekend

So, I made two more recipes this weekend. Neither was fantastic, but this was not Paula's fault either. I made "Easy Rolls", which did seem as promised to be quite easy - only I over beat and under baked them.

Also made "Oriental Marinade", which consists of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, water, and a little sugar. It smelled amazing, the only real problem was that I may have burned the chicken a little. So, the flavor was a little masked by burned chicken bits. It was, at least, very juicy.

I realize that all of my posts so far have really involved food errors.. generally my food does turn out well, I promise!

I also used the rest of last weekend's barbecue sauce to make some beef short ribs in the crock pot, they were delicious!!

I probably wasn't totally focused on cooking this weekend because of all the activities, which I think I mentioned on Friday. The Festival of Books was this weekend, Travis and I went yesterday. I went to a cooking demonstration by the authors of L.A's Original Farmers Market Cookbook and The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook. It was really interesting, and I bought a copy of the Original Farmers Market Cookbook. I've been looking through it all weekend, and it is amazing.

I also stopped by Dan Goodsell's Mr. Toast booth. This is clearly also sort of food-related, but please please do not eat Mr. Toast. I first saw Dan Goodsell's work at Wizard World Los Angeles shortly after we moved to L.A. in 2005 or so. I had only $5 cash, and he was nice enough to let me buy $6 worth of merchandise with it. This year, there were significantly more people at his booth than I remember from previous years, and I've also seen Mr. Toast plush pop up at Urban Outfitters. Check it out, seriously!

Friday, April 24, 2009

not a big day

This really isn't the biggest item ever, but I did get to check one more thing off in the cookbook today! Took the day off work but ended up spending most of the day running errands.

I made Lemon Butter for fish, which is exactly what it sounds like: lemon juice and butter with some garlic, salt/pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Poured it over some tilapia that I had broiled.

I'm really too scatterbrained to cook. As the fish had about a minute left to broil, I realized I had not made anything to eat with the fish, other than lemon butter. So, I just threw some sourdough bread in the toaster and had fish and toast for dinner. Not too shabby.

Maybe later I'll continue on a lemon theme and finish up last weekend's cheesecake.

This probably won't be a big cooking weekend, it's awfully packed with activities. Tomorrow is the Festival of Books a UCLA, and Sunday we're going to Hollywood to see Earth at the El Capitan. We'll probably have lunch at the Disney Soda Fountain too, yum! That's all for now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

BBQ and Tackling Dessert

It was a pretty big cooking weekend. I really should have spent some of the cooking time cleaning, but whatever.

New recipes included:

Ham and Bean Soup
Pulled Pork
The Lady's Barbecue Sauce

All were pretty delicious, but only the sauce and cheesecake were from Paula Deen.

The Ham and Bean Soup was made in a crock pot with the bone and some meat from last weekend's Easter ham plus some navy beans.

Travis was a huge fan of the pulled pork, which really only involved rubbing seasoning all over a pork shoulder, wrapping it in foil, and baking it for about 5 hours. My favorite part about the meal was the Lady's Barbecue Sauce. It was vinegary, my favorite kind!

I nearly ruined the cheesecake with ingredient replacement. It is still tasty, but it's really not attractive at all. There is actually a hole in the middle from an accident while pouring on topping. Pouring? Yes, pouring.

I decided to replace sour cream with buttermilk and butter, because I was out of sour cream. But, I didn't have buttermilk either, so I used the trick of adding vinegar to milk and letting it stand. Genius, right? Not quite. With sour cream, the mix would have been thicker and spread onto the baked filling.

My mix just poured. And it bored a hole through the center of the cheesecake. Plus, it was still liquid after it baked. So, I just poured it off. Hence, the not lovely but still tasty cheesecake. I think one of the biggest factors in the tastiness may have been that I was also out of vanilla extract, so I replaced it with lemon extract. So, we'll call this weekend 1-1 with impromptu ingredient substitutions. Oh well, can't win them all I guess!

New Blog!

So, this is the beginning of my new blog, Michele's Delicious Life. My plan is to chronicle the cooking adventures I have. I am currently attempting to make all the recipes in Paula Deen's first cookbook. This is almost always delicious, but it has it's share of missteps as well. Hopefully it will be as interesting for you as it is for me.