Monthly Archives: October 2009

What a ferocious bark you have: chocolate pumpkin seed bark

It might be a bit of an understatement to say that I like chocolate.  In fact, I would even say that I have a love affair with chocolate.  No, it would probably be more apt to say that chocolate and I are basically the same person.  Which makes the idea of eating it a little strange if you look at it that way…but since when have I ever worried about sounding rational?

Anyway, I love chocolate and all the ways to eat it—in brownies, frozen desserts, cookies, and of course, the old fashioned way—by the handful.  And sometimes that hand is full of bark.  Chocolate bark.  If you’ve never had bark, it is basically akin to a candy-bar that you can make at home super easily and you can put all sorts of ingredients in it, like nuts, fruits and spices.  Chocolate almond bark is my personal favorite.  You create a big sheet of molten chocolate and your add-ins, chill it and break it apart into big or little pieces.  They’re great for just a big of snack…and are excellent for bagging up and giving away as gifts. Continue reading

Long Live Jack, the Pumpkin…Seed

Despite the variety of pumpkin dishes that I have made, some recently, I am actually not that big a fan of pumpkin.  Josh is.  There is, however, one pumpkin thing that I adore: the seeds.  In fact, ever since I was a little kid, one of my favorite things about Halloween was carving my pumpkin and roasting the seeds.  We did it every year, even after I got too told to trick-or-treat, and it’s a tradition I carry on now.  I mean, sure I could do this anytime of year just by buying some raw pumpkin seeds from the store but that’s not nearly as fun.  I mean, if you’re going to carve pumpkins for Halloween anyway, why let all those delicious seedy innards go to waste?  No, no, that’s precious currency right there.  However, it has come to my attention–namely through my husband Josh, who, before meeting me, had never roasted pumpkin seeds before–that there are actually people in the world that have never roasted pumpkin seeds before. And this sort of injustice cannot stand.  How can I just ignore the sad, desperate pleas echoing out of the darkness from those who’ve never experienced the crunchy, salty, buttery goodness of a freshly roasted bowl of pepitos? Continue reading

Night of the Day of the Dawn of the 28 Days of Zombieland Cupcakes

According to a super-scientific quiz on Facebook, I am well prepared for the inevitable (Inewitable!) zombie apocalypse and will survive for at least a month, probably more.  And you know why that is?  Because I watch my zombie movies.  I will even admit to seeing Zombieland twice in the theaters.  What can I say?  I have a thing for watching Woody Harrelson kill zombies.  Between that and my numerous viewings of Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead and many others, I know the rules of surviving a zombie horde: don’t get attached, don’t get eaten, don’t go in the basement or upstairs, to defeat the zombie you have to remove the head or destroy the brain and of course, rule number one: cardio.

Thankfully, all you’ll need to defeat these zombie cupcakes with is a hearty appetite.  And maybe a pitchfork.  Or a regular fork.  These cupcakes were originally done by the Sweetest Kitchen and after I saw them, I figured—hey!  That’s a cute cupcake trick that I can actually do!  My friend Lindsay can decorate awesome cupcakes.  Me?  Not so much.  I’m a pretty good cook and an okay baker but decorating?  Not so much.  I lack the artistic talent to do anything beyond rudimentary.  So I was very excited to find these cupcakes because not only do I have an obvious, alarming and awesome affinity for zombies, but these are a tasty, fun and festive way to celebrate Halloween. Continue reading

Nice Buns: Cha Siu Bao (steamed Chinese Pork Buns)

So I’ve come across a few recipes for cha siu bao in the past few months and thought, this is fascinating.  Sure the closest I’ve ever gotten to actually seeing one in my own life was while watching Hayao Miyazaki films.  That doesn’t matter.  I could make these.

The pound-plus of barbecue pulled pork meat I had leftover from slowcooking on Saturday lent itself pretty well to my plan today to make these buns.  I also maybe cheated just a tiny bit by buying a fresh ball of pizza dough from the store instead of making my own.  I won’t apologize for that, though; it speeded up the process AND you know how much I hate to knead dough. But either way, they were pretty easy to make!  And quite tasty.  The great thing is that you make quite a few with a recipe and you can very easily make and freeze them for later.  They steamed up in 15 minutes and were fabulous dunked into some extra barbecue sauce.  Josh thinks they’ll be ever better baked, and with some cheese added.  So basically what Josh wants is an empanada.   But he enjoyed them anyway.

Continue reading

Meal For One: Black and Green Pasta

This what I had for lunch today.  The squid ink pasta came from my mom.  It’s an egg pasta that’s been dyed a deep black color with squid ink, which also gives it a salty, kind of oily taste as well.  The great thing is that it cooks in 3 minutes.  For Halloween, I will probably make a “spooky” pasta with a nice bright orange pumpkin sauce, but today I just wanted a very simple, very light lunch, so this is what I made.  Note: this makes a light pasta dish for one; to make it more hearty, add in any of the following: 1 c. chopped broccoli, 3/4 c. shelled edamame, 4 ounces of cooked shredded chicken and/or 1 small zucchini chopped.

However, as it is, this is a very simple 5 ingredient recipe, not including the salt and pepper. Continue reading

Apricot and cinnamon are totally going together but don’t want anyone to know

So an apricot walks into a bar.  Which would be funny if it weren’t so terribly sad, seeing that alcoholism runs rampant in the apricot population.  It’s an epidemic.  You can do your part to help quell this senseless march towards destruction by donating your dried apricots to a nobel cause: baked goods.

I love dates.  I don’t get them often but they’re always nice.  Oh, and the fruit too.  The fruit is good.  And I like to make date bars.  Delicious, sweet, chewy.  However, today I had a bag of dried apricots I purchased awhile ago and I figured, why not substitute them in place of dates in the bar recipe?

So I did. These bars are extremely easy to make, and fairly quick too.  They’re also sweet, chewy and utterly delicious, with a nice crunchy crust.  Oh, and alcohol free. Continue reading

Friday Foodie Finds: Oct 23

Sandwich art

Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake Turtle Bread from Closet Cooking

Vanessa Dualib’s Food Art

Zombie Halloween Cupcakes!! OMG!!  Completely awesome.  From the Sweetest Kitchen

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake from the Smitten Kitchen (did I just hear you joygasm?)

Banana bread roll? I’m intrigued.  From Pinch My Salt.

How Stuff Works: 10 Quirky Facts about Mass Produced Food

Oven fried onion rings-Not Without Salt

The Food Timeline

The finger test for checking for doneness, from Simply Recipes

Mushroom Ragout, from the “Keep Going Til It Tastes Good” Cooking School

My dear friend and fellow foodie/home cook and vegetarian extraordinaire Paul came over to hang out with us for a while tonight and in honor, I made a simple, tasty dinner of a mushroom and leek ragout.  Mostly because I had most of the stuff for pasta and needed to fill my quota of 2 or 3 pasta dishes a week.

Like…well, every dish I make, this is a fairly flexible recipe.  And by “recipe,” I mean “guideline.”  And by “guideline,” I mean, “loosely affiliated series of ingredients, directions and methods.”  Continue reading

Meal in a pot: baked mac and cheese

I think there’s one basic truth in this world that we can all agree upon: macaroni and cheese is freaking awesome.  It’s like pizza-even when it’s bad, it’s still macaroni and cheese.

There’s a de facto rule in my family that every holiday meal must contain at least one pan of baked macaroni and cheese.  To not have it is a sin against God.  And taste.  And delicious flavor.

I do have a go-to recipe for mac-and-cheese that I like to pull out for such meals, and it never fails.  But tonight, I was on my own and I wanted to make something that would a) use up some leftover chicken from last night’s sammiches and 2)have all my carbs, veggies and protein in one pot.

I ended up combining influence from my usual recipe and from this baked penne with cheddar and leeks recipe from Bon Appetit, and threw in a few other things I had on hand. Continue reading

eat mor chikn: chicken and avocado panini

Farmer Lauren had a chicken, e-i-e-i-oooo, and with this chicken she made a sammich, e-i-e-i-ooo, with an apple slice here and an avocado there, here a spice and there a slice, eveywhere it’s nice nice, Farmer Lauren had a chicken avocado paniniiiiiiiii.

This is one of those recipeless recipes.  Pretty much you can insert just about anything you think sounds tasty.  Like the rest of my life, I didn’t have a plan…I just went with what I had. Continue reading

Neehee. Heehee.

Last night, Josh and a couple friends of ours ventured out into the streets of Canton to experiment with something new and fantastic to us: Indian street food.  In Canton? Yeah, I know, right?  Now, Indian food is not new to us…I looooove Indian food.  And I’m blessed that there’s a few good Indian places in town to eat at, but those are the usual sit-down restaurants.  This place, Neehee’s, on the corner of Ford and Canton Center roads, specialized in vegetarian street dishes.  I know some of you might be saying, “Vegetarian?  No thanks.”  But seriously, with flavor and sustenance like this, you won’t even miss the meat.  Instead, your stomach will be thanking you with all sorts of contended feelings and sounds.

So anyway, we walked into Neehee’s.  It’s a small, brightly colored place in a strip mall next to a Bombay grocery store.  Pretty busy and not a lot of space to sit, so we opted to order out.  All along the walls are pictures and descriptions of the types of food they sell and their origins.  The smell was fantastic. Continue reading

Nobody gets left behind: leftovers

What I do with leftovers:

From the milk-roasted chicken on Sunday, I had two bone-in chicken breasts left over.  What to do with them?  Hm.  Think.  Think Think Think.

Well, I also had some Spanish chorizo I picked up at Eastern Market on Saturday as well.  Chorizo is a spicy, smoked pork sausage that comes in many varieties.  I also had leftover chopped green and red bell peppers bagged up in the freezer, and some fresh spinach and portabella mushrooms left from Josh making pizza for himself for dinner.  And I had rice.  Well that all sounds pretty good.  Continue reading

brownies. that’s about all i need to say.

I had difficulty committing to Brownies.

Not the delicious, gooey, chocolatey dessert.  But the group–you know, kind of like kindergarten for Girl Scouts.  I joined Brownies three times in elementary school.  And I quit Brownies early three times.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like the group.  A lot of my friends were in it, and they were cool.  But the group did crazy things, like sit out at an Eastern Michigan Football game in freaking November.  Do you know how cold Michigan gets in November?  Do you know how cold metal football stadium seats get in November?  Also, they wanted me to sell cookies.  I don’t sell things.  I also lived in a bad neighborhood and am pretty sure I wouldn’t have been allowed to go door-to-door.  And they made me wear a brown uniform that was pretty much a skirt, a vest and a sash.  I don’t wear skirts.  I didn’t then, I definitely don’t now.  But mostly I quit for one reason in particular: the meetings were almost always on Friday afternoons, right after school and dude, I was missing Duck Tales.  That was not acceptable.  And in fact, to this day, I think I made the right decision.  After all, my obsession with pop culture, television, animation and movies turned me into the girl I am today and provided the platform for my current interests and career.

But while I couldn’t quite commit to Brownies, I can totally without a doubt commit to brownies.  Not quite to the level of love and adoration I have for cookies but still an admirable level of devotion. Continue reading

Got Milk?

It was a pretty fantastic weekend all around on my end.  Headed out to Detroit’s Eastern Market again on Saturday, which you know I love, and spent the afternoon making leek onion rings and bbq beef sandwiches.

And today, Josh and I spent an hour learning how to make pasta carbonara and a pappardelle dish with the lovely Francesca Girarraffa in a cooking class at Hollanders, which was quite a bit of fun and totally worth the very reasonable price of $13 a person.  For attending, we also each got a 10% off coupon for Hollanders that day, which I used to treat myself to two new baking sheets.  Which I totally needed.  Honestly.

Anyway, then I moved to make dinner.  Originally, I had planned on doing a sort of Chinese-inspired dinner.  I’d planned on roasting the pumpkin we got from this past week’s farm share and then using it to make some dim sum, along with some chicken beggar’s purses, some veggie fried rice and egg drop soup.  However, by the time we were on our way home after the cooking demo, shopping, lunch at Sabor Latino and more shopping at By the Pound, I wasn’t feeling quite up to that level of culinary intrepidness.  Instead I decided to make a relatively low key dish that I’d found on Saveur, a recipe of British chef Jamie Oliver’s that’s basically a chicken roasted in milk. Continue reading

Leek Onion Rings

Looking for something to do with the leeks from your farm share?  Already tried the uber-delicious French leek gratin? Looking for something casual to eat alongside that BBQ beef sandwich?  How about onion rings?  Well I guess that’s leek rings.  I tried them tonight (alongside a bbq beef sandwich), adapting a recipe from Alton Brown.  Pretty good!  Crunchy, light onion flavor, quite good.  I forgot my camera at work though, so sorry…no pics just yet.

Leek Rings
3 quarts peanut or canola oil
12 ounces leeks, cleaned and trimmed of outer leaves
1 1/2 cups milk or cream
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
2 tsp black pepper

Preheat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat to 375 degrees F.

Slice the leeks into 1/2-inch wide rings, separating the layers out a bit.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and the egg. In another medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, black pepper and 2 tsps salt. Divide the flour into 2 separate, shallow dishes and place the milk and egg mixture in a third.

Going 1 small handful at a time, dip the rings first into the first flour mixture, then into the milk and egg, and then into the second flour mixture. Working in batches, fry the rings for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the rings to a cooling rack set inside a half sheet pan and allow to drain for 2 to 3 minutes; sprinkle with salt and serve.

Foodie Friday Links, Oct 9

My favorite food finds from the week:

What Chefs Do When They Are Bored: This is fun

Cinnabon post from the Cooking Photographer: Makes me crave cinnamon rolls.  Oh man.

EatMakeRead: Homemade Ginger Ale

Food-made Flags of the World

Everything you wanted to know about bread crumb.

Lunch in a Box: Building a Better Bento

Greek Nachos from the Closet Cooking blog

20 Health Foods for Under $1 (a serving)

Tirami-sumofdat chocolate tiramisu

So awhile ago I got another email from the POM Wonderful people asking if I’d like to try out their new line of POMx iced coffees.  Um, of course I would.  Not because I drink coffee.  Because I don’t.  Which is odd because I’m pretty sure my office is about this (–) close to digging an underground tunnel straight to Starbucks for those every-three-hour coffee urges.  So I mostly took the offer for them, because they love coffee, and they’d love to try this stuff and most importantly, to see what I could make out of it.

In a brief bit of exposition (insert Morgan Freeman voiceover here), POMx iced coffee doesn’t actually taste like pomegranates (which kind of made me a little sad…I mean, how interesting would pomegranate coffee be?  People drink pumpkin coffee.  I suppose if you’re really interested, you can try making some pomegranate syrup and adding it to your morning latte), but does contain the very powerful antioxidants that come from pomegranates.  So you get your caffeine boost and antioxidants to boost.  If modern medicine journalism and my incredible powers of premonition* are correct, if you drink enough of this stuff, you will live forever.  Or at least until that super volcano under Montana blows. Continue reading

Farm Share Goodies, October 6: Our Man Jack is King of the Pumpkin Patch

I have a pumpkin.

I have named him Jack.  Jack the Pumpkin King.  This has everything to do with my obsession with the Nightmare Before Christmas and absolutely nothing to do with anything normal.

Jack and I met this afternoon.  I had just hefted the box containing our second-to-last (how sad!) farm share goodies onto the counter, opened it up and began pulling out the lovely produce contained therein.  A couple more leeks, some celery, some potatoes….and then he caught my eye.  I tried to pretend like I didn’t notice at first but really, how could you not?  He was the greatest looking guy in the room–er, box.  That nice round body, that firm smooth skin, that orange glow…

There was a pumpkin in our farm share. Continue reading

There’s a Wocket in My Pizza Pocket

You know, I tried really hard to think of a witty lead in for this blog post, but I’ve got nothing.  I blame it on Monday.  We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.  [Edit: Thankfully, Sophia saved me with a hilarious new title that you can read above.]

But anyway, tonight we made calzones. Partly out of a want of pizza on my part, partly out of a guiltiness that I pasted a calzone recipe into my Evernote months ago and had yet to get around to making it, and partly because Busch’s has ground sirloin on sale. I figured, heck, at home we already had cheese, peppers, onions, garlic, spinach and mushrooms and tomatoes…all we had to do is pick up the beef and some pizza dough.  AND we–and by “we” I mean “I”–could make enough for tonight and tomorrow’s lunch.  Genius.  Of course, once at the store, a few other items got added to the list, mostly due to Josh’s deep-seated love for pepperoni and pizza sauce.  And then it came down to the crust.

What to use?

I mean, at this point, I’m feeling too lazy to make my own pizza crust.  And by “this point,” I mean “I am always too lazy to make my own pizza crust.”  But Busch’s only had (that I know of) frozen pizza crusts, and we didn’t want to wait for a dough ball to thaw.  Nor did we really trust the canned Pillsbury pizza crust (don’t get me wrong–I am not a food snob (much) and and I have made more than my share of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, biscuits and donuts but pizza dough?  In a can?   For some reason I won’t go that far).  And we didn’t want to venture to another store to get fresh pizza dough.  So I did the only reasonable thing: I picked up a couple of pie crusts.  Pillsbury.  :-)  My reluctance to embrace pizza-in-a-can also does not extend to ready-made-roll-out-pie crusts.  I’m a complex creature.  There’s no point in trying to figure it out. Continue reading