30 March 2008

It's Not Stupid, It's Advanced!

In the last few days, I've had some cooking successes, and I've also had some (good and bad) learning experiences.

I learned that I don't bake very well (I can manage to burn just about anything, including taco shells and cookies), but the cookies that I didn't burn turned out alright. I made 101 Cookbooks' Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies, but I substituted chocolate chips in for cacao nibs, since honestly I didn't know what those were or where to get them. I didn't understand why they had to be put in the fridge, since it just made the non-circular log that I made cold and hard to shape. The original poster flattened the dough out and used cookie cutters. That would have been a better option, since the cookies would have had a uniform thickness which would have prevented edge-burning.

Since I didn't want to spend a lot of money buying pre-tempura'd shrimp, I made some of my own this weekend using the recipe for Tempura Shrimp from Sushiday. They turned out pretty well, but I didn't originally have the oil hot enough to instantly fry the shrimp, so the batter ran out into the pan. I used the tempura shrimp to make a Spicy Tempura Roll. Tasty!!

I also tried the recipe for the Super Bowl Rock N'Roll via Sushiday. While they were tasty, it was a little weird tasting essentially american ingredients inside maki.

But deviled egg sushi...oh man. Give me those any day! I ended up making it into a roll instead of piled on top of rice, since it was easier for me. Meh, it all eats the same.

Tonight I'll be making dinner for my mom since her birthday is coming up. Stay tuned for pictures of that!

Meanwhile, happy noming!

26 March 2008

Chili in a Biscuit Bowl

I made 30+ of these bowls for a chili cook-off at work for the SuperBowl. They are an easy way to do something different with your chili. You certainly don't have to make as many as I did, but you might have wished you had!

Recipe on Food Network

Forget the chili recipe they list, of course you'll want to use my "Yours Truly Chili". The bowls ingredients and directions boil down to this:


Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 cups biscuit baking mix (recommended: Bisquick)
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Flour, for dusting the work surface


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Invert (means turn it over, silly) a muffin tin and spray the underside with vegetable oil cooking spray.

Stir together the baking mix, milk, and cayenne. Shape into a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times. Divide the ball into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a 6-inch circle. Place a dough circle over the back of each muffin cup. Press around the cup to form a bowl shape. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool slightly. Remove the biscuit bowls and reserve.

Top with cheese, sour cream, corn strips, etc!

NOTES: Flour is necessary for dough not sticking to hands! I had great success with two muffin tins turned over on a large baking pan (for easy removal). Also it helps to stagger the bowls on the tins in a zigzag pattern so they don't cook into each other. I apologize that I don't have any pictures of that process. Here's what I gots:

Full Size

Full Size

23 March 2008

Easter Nomulance

My mom made most of the excellent Easter dinner we scarfed down this evening. The menu consisted of:

1 Spiral-Cut Ham (6 lbs)
With three dipping sauces: Apple Raisin, Raspberry, and some Orange Mustardy Crap.
Potatoes Au Gratin
Hot Pineapple Casserole
Green Beans Almondine

The sauce idea was my mom's, since we couldn't figure out a ham glaze that our whole family could agree on. Fortunately, two of the sauces turned out excellently, but the bastardized mustard/orange marmalade/V8 mixture that was the third sauce was lacking (aka vomity). Honey Mustard would have been a better third choice. The Apple Raisin sauce was my favorite. It tasted just like an apple pie!! I could have eaten it by itself, and as my mom suggested, it would probably go GREAT on vanilla ice cream. 

From left to right: Apple Raisin, Orange Mustardy Crap, Raspberry. I apologize for the poor shot, there was brotherference.

The Potatoes Au Gratin (pictured above) recipe was yoinked from Retro Recipes. 

The Hot Pineapple Casserole was my job for the meal. I obtained the recipe from a co-worker last week. It is as follows: 

Hot Pineapple Casserole

2 cans crushed pineapple
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup sugar
6 Tbs Pineapple Juice (reserved from cans)
1 cup Ritz crackers, crumbled
6 Tbs flour
1 stick melted butter


1. Combine cheese and drained pineapple in medium bowl, and combine sugar, flour and juice in small bowl.
2. Pour contents of small bowl into medium bowl.
3. Empty into casserole dish, top with cracker crumbs, pour melted butter on top.
4. Bake at 350F for 30m.

So tasty! I halved the recipe so we wouldn't have TOO many leftovers. You can also cut back on the butter if you like. The dish was picked clean by the end of the meal. I claim success!

I hope you all had a Happy Easter, Merry Ostara, or *insert adjective here* Purim this week!

Happy Noming!

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18 March 2008

Making Maki: Part 2

For those of you who DO want a good website on how to roll maki, I recommend this one:

Sushi Day- How to Roll Maki Sushi

Happy rolling!

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Dear Katia

Dear Katia,

I don't know why you gave out the wrong e-mail address at the business conference you attended in Valencia. Maybe you forgot what your e-mail was...three different times. Maybe you did it on purpose, in which case that's really mean. Maybe you gave them that e-mail address in the hopes that when you went home and tried to sign up, that this e-mail would be free to take. That someone couldn't possibly have taken it. Well you're wrong. That's MY e-mail address, and now these unfortunate people from this conference are trying to contact me, and I have to regretfully tell them that I am not Katia, I am Kiera. I live in the US, not Europe. I'm sorry, but I'm not your contact.

We share a last name, so that's enough for me not to hate you, but please contact these people and let them know you made a mistake!


Kiera With Your Last Name


17 March 2008

Yours Truly Chili (and Some Cornbread or Something)

Finally, a recipe that I can call MINE!

When I was in college, I asked my mom how to make chili. She didn't really have a "recipe", but she listed off the ingredients to make a pot of chili. Diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, meat. And anything else you want to throw in. That was it? Wow, that was easy!

For awhile I made some mediocre meaty chili. Then it happened that Pathmark dealt me a blow of...BAD MEAT. I mean bad. When I was cooking it, it smelled sour. I cursed the heavens and screamed, "NOW what am I going to do!?". I tried chicken chili, but it wasn't the same. So, I decided to forsake meat and make three-bean chili instead. I'm not a vegetarian, but it saves a lot on calories and fat and tastes delicioso!

But me, being me...I don't like hardset recipes. So for what it's worth:

Yours Truly Chili

1 medium can dark red kidney beans
1 medium can black beans
1 medium can cannelini (or white kidney) beans
1 medium can diced tomatoes
2 small cans tomato sauce
1/2 medium onion (or more, to taste)
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs cocoa
2-4 Tbs flour (depending on how well you drain your beans)
2 tsp cumin (<-- the really important spice!) 1 Tbs dried oregano Dash cayenne pepper, to taste. There's a rough estimate. No need to be fancy. Now, throw it all into a crockpot and cook it on low for 5+ hours. Done! Glorious. I don't like extra stuff in my chili like peppers or chiles. Blech. Simplify. Now for the "official" cornbread recipe, since that stuff can be more finicky. I honestly don't remember where I got this, but it's not mine.

Sweet Cornbread

1 1/2 C Flour
2/3 C sugar
1/2 C cornmeal
1 Tbs baking powser
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 C oil
3 Tbs butter, melted
1 1/4 C milk

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease loaf pans or round pan.

2. Combine dry incredients in medium bowl, wet in small bowl. Pour wet into dry and mix just until combined.

3. Pour into pan(s) bake 35m or until wooden pick comes out clean.


Mmmm chili!

16 March 2008

Making Maki

For those of you unfamiliar with the sushi world... maki is the japanese word for "roll" and these "sushi rolls" are the most common form of sushi you'll see in the US. Even grocery stores sell them nowadays.

I'm a sushi-roll lover, but I hate the kinds from the grocery store. They're not fresh, they use low quality ingredients, and do you really trust your grocery store that much? We used to have a Panda Express near us, but that shut down months ago. I cried. We have a Japanese restaurant across the street, Yokohama, but you have to shell out ~6 bucks a piece for a roll. Making them yourself is so much cheaper.

I'm not going to go through how to make maki. There are a million and one websites that you can google for that, and I don't want to waste your time. Let's just say I made my first two rolls tonight, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. You really only need sushi nori (seaweed) (~$4/10pack), short grain rice and your chosen ingredients..which can be anything in long strip form...cucumbers, avocado, carrots, fish, shrimp, sauce, you name it.

My first roll came out riding the short bus, mostly because I didn't tighten it enough, so I gobbled it down to dispose of the evidence (it all tastes the same!). My second roll, however, came out MUCH better. I just need a MUCH sharper knife. Seaweed is a pain to cut if your knife isn't wicked sharp.


Post cut:

I encourage all you sushi lovers to try this on a rainy day. You'll need a bamboo mat and the ingredients I listed above, but it's rather simple. If you can roll a sleeping bag and you don't have bad arthritis, you too can make maki.

Now excuse me, I have some avocado rolls to eat....*nom nom nom*

11 March 2008

Laurie Nemec's World Famous Chicken Thingies!

Now the post we've all been waiting for!!!

Sunday evening I made my boyfriend's mum's recipe for "Chicken Thingies". It's a family "secret" so I was told I could only divulge the recipe if I 1.) Called them "World Famous" and 2.) Gave credit where credit is due. So there you go.

Ease: B

The recipe:

2 cups cooked, chopped chicken (to your taste of fine-ness)
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp chopped chives (or to taste)
2 Tbsp milk
Salt to taste
1/2 cup crushed, seasoned bread crumbs
2 packages crescent rolls
1/4 cup melted butter

Mix chicken, cream cheese, chives, milk and salt in medium bowl by hand to make filling. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls. Each tube will contain 4 rectangles of dough with diagonal perforations. Press dough along each perforation so the rectangle halves will not separate. Place about 1/4 cup of the mixture into the center of each rectangle. Fold dough over the filling and pinch edges to seal tightly. Dip each packet in melted butter and coat with bread crumbs. Place packets on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Except my version of the recipe says "mile" instead of "milk". Must be a code-word.


The players

On the left is what the crescent rolls look like right out of the tube.
On the right is what it'll look like when merged.

Filling the packets. The top left packet is what it should look like when sealed.


I hear that the only thing I "could do better" is to chop up the chicken finer, but it's not at all bad roughly chopped like I did.

They *are* reheatable.

And as far as a rating, I'll let the "world famous" title speak for itself.

08 March 2008

Cheddar Beer Fondue

The Melting Pot is one of my favorite places to go eat, primarily because of their wonderful cheese fondue, but it is also a ridiculously expensive place to eat. So, when I started craving cheese fondue this week, I decided to look into doing it myself.

My criteria were simple. I didn't want to use "weird" cheese like Gruyere. Considering my favorite cheese of ALL TIME is any kind of extra sharp cheddar cheese (Tillamook makes a wonderful extra sharp cheddar), I googled hard for a good cheddar fondue recipe.

I was ecstatic when I found this recipe for Cheddar Beer Fondue, since that meant I didn't have to go out and buy wine either, since most of the recipes I was finding that used gruyere also used dry white wine.

Taste: A+++!

Ease: A

This recipe is posted several places, but I found it on Gourmet Sleuth.

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
Dash cayenne
1 bottle (12 oz.) beer of choice
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Baguette, cubed; each cube with crust

In saucepan, melt butter; blend in flour, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and cayenne. Gradually stir in beer; stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat; add cheese, stir until melted. Transfer to fondue pot; place over low heat. Serve with bread cubes; use long handled fondue forks.

You might notice that this recipe as it reads on gourmet sleuth does not include cayenne, but their "cheddar beer fondue II" does. So why not combine? I also changed it up from 3 cups to a simple 8oz of cheese. I used a Lager (as the original recipe suggests), but you can use different beers for different tastes.

Also, and I must place this in high emphasis, you DO NOT NEED A FONDUE POT! I cooked my fondue up in a 10 inch skillet and transferred over to a warmed pot of water with a double-boiler insert just to keep it warm. You could just as easily do this in a large pot and forget about the double boiler-- it just might not keep warm as long.

The players. I never used the second block of cheese.

Le pain.

After beer, but before the cheese.

All done!

The presentation. I served with crusty cubed bread, apples, and broccoli. The two of us ate it as dinner, but this would also serve well as a party dish (as long as you had a good way of keeping it warm).

I was impressed at the ease of this recipe. I had never made any kind of fondue before, and to be quite honest I was concerned about attempting this. It had always seemed, to me, that there was some secret or that it was harder than it looked...

Absolutely, I would make this exact recipe again for dinner or a party!

Time to find a recipe that doesn't include beer....!

07 March 2008

Jewelry Board

I did lot of searching and heming and hawing over what I wanted in a functional jewelry holder. I didn't want a box because it takes up valuable desk space, can fall over, and I have nowhere to put it in my bedroom that is easily accessable. I decided I wanted a wall mounted jewelry box of some sort, but when I googled for these I winced at the pricing.

So I decided to DIY it and just use a cork-board. My original idea was to cover it in fabric and ribbon so it would look a little nicer than, well, a cork-board, but we found a half-cork half-dry board at Michael's, so that idea became rather non feasible. So here's what it became instead:

Not too shabby if I do say so myself. I wish I had taken a picture before I hung all of these up. The previous arrangement had been a giant pile of knots and cursing and screaming...and now I can at least see that I own a few pairs of earrings. The only thing I didn't put up there are my rings. Now I need a small ring-holding device..hmmm...

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06 March 2008

Dirty Shrimp In Butter-Beer Sauce

Last night I made Dirty Shrimp in Butter-Beer Sauce. It's only a little beer, don't get excited...but you do get to drink the other 3/4 of the bottle while you're cooking!!

Taste: A+

Ease: A

Recipe on Recipezaar

1 lb shrimp , shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoons garlic , minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt , to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper , to taste
1/4 cup beer

1. Saute garlic and herbs in butter until garlic is slightly browned.

2. Add shrimp, stirring constantly, until shrimp are pink and done.

3. Pour in beer, simmer 1 minute more, and serve!

The original recipe is double this, but I was only cooking for two. The directions remain the same, so no matter.

Here's my favorite part: The pix.

My shrimpies had been in the freezer up until now, it took less than 10 minutes to thaw them with cold running water. Not the most earth-conscious method, but it works in a jiffy.

The other players.

We're cooking! Once we're pink we'll add the beer....

And then...

All done!

I chose to serve over rice. My parents served it with fresh bakery bread. You might need it with the kick this recipe has. Go light on the cayenne and red pepper flakes if you're not a fan of the spice.

No garlic burning this time. Woohoo!



03 March 2008

Linguine alle Noci

This Sunday for supper I made Linguine alle Noci (Linguine with Walnut Sauce).

Taste: A

Ease: B

Recipe on Serious Eats

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted hard bread crumbs
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
1 pound linguine
1/2 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated caciocavallo cheese or pecorino romano

1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons kosher salt

2. In a 14- to l6-inch fry pan, heat the oil over medium heat till smoking. Add the garlic and cook until light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add half of the bread crumbs, the walnuts, and pepper flakes and cook until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions until 1 minute short of al dente. Just before draining the pasta, add 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water to the pan with the walnut mixture.

4. Drain the pasta in a colander and pour the pasta into the pan with the walnut mixture. Place the pan over medium heat and continue cooking the pasta with the walnut mixture until the pasta is lightly dressed with the condiment, about 1 minute. Add the parsley and grated cheese, stir through, pour into a heated bowl, sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs, and serve immediately.

The result:

The only problem I had with this recipe is that it tells you to heat the oil on medium until smoking and then add the garlic. Don't crank it up this high if you're going to use pre-minced garlic.. it WILL BURN.

Also, as a recommendation, toast your own bread and crumble it on, don't use pre-packaged breadcrumbs.

This recipe is incredibly tasty! Who knew that walnuts went with pasta? Definitely spring for the fresh parsley, and feel free to adjust the amount of red pepper flakes according to your taste for spiciness.

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