Sunday, March 28, 2010

Do you know the muffin man? What about the muffin Woman??

I always have a banana or two left at the end of the week and sadly they usually end up going in the garbage. This weekend I decided to turn them into yummy muffins. These taste way better than a plain banana (even though I eat one every morning at work I'm not really a fan...) but I'm sure they have a little different nutritional value. It was funny going from ooey gooey banana mash, just like I probably spit up when I was little, to delicious chocolately muffins.

I followed the recipe exactly on this one and they came out perfectly.  There are definitely some changes I want to try next time though, and like I said I always have bananas left at the end of the week so I'm sure I'll get a chance for a next time.  Nuts in addition to or instead of chocolate chips...a lot of reviewers said they used half or all whole wheat flour....low-fat yogurt probably wouldn't make a difference in taste.  Next time I want to fill the muffin pans more for a little bigger muffins because I'm sad after they're gone in a few bites!  Overall they have a great taste and texture....I almost don't want to share them at work and keep them all for myself!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nutty Irish Ice Cream

A new signature creation at Cold Stone? Nope...but it should be. Although not having to get into my car, drive however many miles (the Cold Stone a couple blocks from my house closed right before I moved in, so sad), and pay whatever crazy amount they're charging these days is definitely a bonus. I wonder how much they pay for new signature creation ideas...

3 scoops homemade Chocolate Guinness Ice Cream + a dollop of whipped cream fresh out of a can + chopped up butter toffee peanuts = Sweet Crunchy Chocolately Perfection

I mean...Nutty Irish Ice Cream!
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Best Thing I Ever Made!

Ever since I saw this dish on The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Totally Fried I really wanted to try it but didn't think I'd ever get the chance unless I made the trip out to Cleveland. Aaron Sanchez said this was the best fried dish he's ever had and I'm guessing he's had the opportunity to try a lot of dishes. It's an appetizer on Michael Symon's menu at Lolita (although I just checked out their menu online and I don't see it...would be such a shame to actually make it there one day and they no longer serve it). I'm just surprised the recipe doesn't call for bacon or any other pork product since Michael's involved, although I think he mentioned his sous chef is the one that came up with the idea of fried brussels sprouts.

Fresh brussels sprouts are a lot of work but they're one of my favorite veggies so it's usually worth it. As usual I had to buy some new ingredients for the dish...anchovies and capers. I was proud of myself for actually locating them in the grocery store on my own, although the bottle of capers that I picked wasn't in the system so somebody had to go look up the price and key it in for me. So much for the self-checkout. I decided to do the frying in my dutch oven instead of the snack fryer in hopes that I could do more at a time and I think that was a good decision. I was able to do over three pounds of sprouts in just three batches, although the temp went below 350 degrees right away. The first batch browned up in under a minute but the other two took a few minutes. The things splattered oil all over the place! Next time (and there's definitely going to be many more times..) I think I'm going to try just roasting them instead because I don't think the deep frying is what made this dish so delish. The flavors of the dressing are amazing with the red wine vinegar, saltiness of the anchovies and capers, and the crunch of the walnuts. Soooo good...

The Quick & Dirty

  • Pretty much nothing...if you can't trust a recipe from an Iron Chef what in this life can you trust??
  • Didn't have quite 2 cups of parsley only because the package I bought was only about 1 1/2 cups
  • Pretty much everything!  Every bite is just an explosion of flavor in your mouth
  • If you're not one who usually likes brussels sprouts, I think you'd still like this dish because of everything else going on in it
  • The first time I've ever cooked with anchovies and it turned out great!  Although I couldn't really taste them with everything else, but hey you have to start somewhere
  • It is a quite a bit of prep work and clean up, but I made a lot so hopefully the leftovers warm up nicely
  • I spent so long taking pictures of my masterpiece that they weren't steaming hot anymore when I finally got to try them
  • With the deep frying and other ingredients all of the nutrition of the veggies is probably lost, but I am definitely going to try and make a "lighter" version and see if it's still as yummy
  • I wasn't sure what would taste good with it so I just made a simple breaded chicken breast but next to the sprouts it basically had no flavor.  Next time I'm thinkin' a juicy steak might actually stand up next to these bold flavors
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I scream, You scream, the Irish scream for...Guinness Ice Cream?

Who would've thought that chocolate and beer would make such a wonderful combination when frozen? I sure didn't until I tried the concoction tonight and fell in love. I made Bittersweet Chocolate and Stout Beer Ice Cream for our St. Patty's Day work Ceili (pronounced kay-lee and is basically just a traditional Gaelic social gathering) and can't wait for everyone to try it. I did a taste test tonight, and then another one, and a few more just to be safe, and definitely give it my stamp of approval.

A couple weeks ago I made my first ice cream, a Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with you got it...a real vanilla bean! I had bought a couple a while ago and at $8 for two beans I was hoping there was something magical about these strange skinny little black beans and I think there is because the ice cream turned out pretty delicious. I followed the recipe straight from the ice cream maker's manual. The consistency didn't seem quite right and I was afraid that's just how homemade ice cream is, but after making the chocolate ice cream which came out very smooth I think it's just because the frozen bowls for the ice cream maker weren't 100% frozen when I made the vanilla. Lesson learned on that one I guess.

Next up I'm excited to try a Mint Chocolate Chip that has gotten rave reviews and again looks simple enough. I also want to try a Cheesecake ice cream at some point because the Pie Who Loved Me is my favorite signature creation at Cold Stone even though I've only had it one time.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Crunchy Mac & Cheese?

Tonight I was in the mood for some nummy comfort food that wasn't a lot of work.  What could be more comforting than a steamy bowl of macaroni and cheese?

I've wanted to try something with Panko (a Japanese breadcrumb made from bread without crusts) for a long time because they're supposed to be even crunchier than regular.  This was the perfect recipe for a taste test.  They are definitely a different consistency than the traditional or Italian breadcrumbs that I usually use, not as finely crushed but a little bigger pieces.  I also added a splash of white wine to the cheese sauce and some cut up already cooked ham to make it a meal.  Overall it was pretty good, but not very cheesy.  Guess I'm still on a quest for a yummy homemade mac and cheese that's not out of a box and isn't 1000 calories per serving!

The Quick & Dirty

  • Added wine to the cheese sauce
  • Added chunks of pre-cooked ham when mixing the pasta and the cheese together
  • Used whole grain shell pasta instead of macaroni noodles
  • Used regular mozzarella cheese
  • Baked it in an 8x8 dish instead of individual ramekins (although this sounds like a cool idea if I were serving to other people)
  • The bread crumbs made it nice and crunchy
  • Not too much prep work
  • No crazy ingredients so it'd be good for those picky eaters
  • Not really very cheesy or creamy
  • Should've left it in the oven a bit longer to get even browner and crunchier on top
  • The recipe calls for way too many breadcrumbs...could've cut back on that
  • Not sure if buying a whole thing of bay leaves was worth it for the one that got cooked in with the cheese

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My First Chutney

I had a leftover pork chop calling me from the freezer so I decided to browse through my recipes and the March 2009 issue of Cooking Light actually featured many mouth watering choices.  I chose this one because I've always wanted to make a chutney ("A pungent relish made of fruits, spices, and herbs") and because I'd get to use my new grill pan.

Spiced Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

I followed this recipe pretty closely, except for the fact that I made a single serving.  So I cut the chutney ingredients to a third of the original but wish I would've done more like half because it wasn't quite enough to have a bite of chutney with every bite of pork chop.  I still mixed together the same amount of spices for the chop and really coated it with the rub instead of just sprinkling.  Wow was it spicy but delicious!  The guy at Cub helped me locate the more obscure spices and almost $10 later I'm the proud owner of ground chipotle chile pepper and ground coriander (I have coriander seeds but no way to grind them).  Definitely worth it...I'm going to start searching for more ways to use the chiptole pepper as soon as I'm done with this.  Next time I'll probably cut back on the spice just a bit and make a different side dish; the green beans didn't really do anything for me.

The Quick & Dirty


  • Made one serving but didn't adjust everything accordingly, result was a very spicy chop and not enough chutney
  • Used bottled minced ginger instead of messing with the stuff myself
  • A bite of spicy, juicy pork chop with a bite of sweet chutney...simply amazing
  • Homemade vanilla bean ice cream to help with the heat...perfect dessert
  • Only prep work is chopping up the apple and combining all the spices.....simply simple
  • May have been a bit too spicy
  • Pork probably could've used a little bit longer on the grill
  • Made the side dish with fresh string beans instead of haricots verts, were still very crispy and didn't really have any special flavor

    Light & Spicy Pasta

    Last night I made a pasta that was so flavorful and delicious I couldn't believe it was good for me!  I subscribe to the Cooking Light magazine and have tried many of their recipes with mixed results.  This one has earned an average of 5 stars by 55 people and I can see why.

    Ziti with Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, and Gorgonzola Sauce

    I made mine with whole wheat penne pasta because I couldn't whole-wheat or multi-grain ziti at Cub and I keep hearing that this is supposed to be healthier for you.  I wish I knew the difference between whole-wheat and multi-grain but my 30 second Google search failed to give me a straight answer so I guess I'll have to continue to wonder.  This is one healthy choice that's easy for me to make because I can't tell the difference in taste between this and regular pasta.  I'll definitely try this one again with variations suggested in the reviews such as adding chicken or prosciutto and blue cheese instead of gorgonzola.

    The Quick & Dirty:


    • Whole Wheat Penne instead of Ziti
    • Little more red pepper
    • A lot more spinach
    • Added flour to the half and half in attempt to thicken the sauce
    • Little prep (just have to halve the tomatoes)
    • Easy to double and make lotsa leftovers
    • Spicy, sweet, cheesy...doesn't get much better than that combo
    • Burnt the garlic bread I attempted to make with it
    • Very sad because the sauce is amazing and needs bread to wipe it all up
    • Sauce didn't get very thick, will try adding more flour next time

      It's been a whole year!

      A whole year since my last post which I stated I was going to actually start blogging on a regular basis...does once a year count...?

      I decided to make a few "Beginning of March" resolutions because I hate that everyone makes random plans and goals on January 1st that they've probably already given up on. First goal, exercise more so I don't feel so guilty about all the food I want to make and eat. I plan on starting that one tomorrow...

      Goal numero dos, start planning meals for the weekend before Saturday at 4 so I can actually go to the grocery store when it's not crazy busy with hungry, crying little kids. Ok yesterday I had the meals planned out but I still went to the store at 4, thankfully it wasn't too busy yet. We'll continue working on this one.

      And for three/drei/C I really do want to take more pictures of the food I've been making and post a short blog about my triumphs, challenges and what I'd do differently if I were to make the dish again. This one starts right here, right now!  At least a blog a week, probably on Sunday nights after whipping up some good meals over the weekend.  Only problem is my camera has decided to only take matter what I try it's stuck in video mode and won't switch to regular camera mode. A new camera is moving up on the "next big purchase" list. So tonight I'll just try to describe the yumminess and put up links if you want to go look at a professional's picture :)