Monday, November 11, 2013

My Asian Kitchen

It is not very often that food makes it on to my "bucket list."  But I have always wanted to recreate the bean sprout-y, water chestnutty goodness of what I always think of as "chow mein."  Now, I have since learned that what that refers to is actually the noodles (fried in this case) but that is not the bit I like the best.  I like the vegetable goop that goes on top!  I love to eat it with chop sticks like I used to as a kid at the Asian Kitchen restaurant on Burnside.

Now, my husband doesn't much care for Chinese food.  Once or twice a year is plenty for him.  He eats some pork fried rice and is content.  So we don't spend our date dollars on eating out at the Chinese joint.  So I often have a craving for chow mein and think, "Wouldn't it be great if I could make it at home?"  But whenever I would decide to try making my own, I would invariably be missing some key ingredient.  But not today!  I sprouted my own mung beans this past week, and was more than ready to embark on a new culinary adventure.


I located a recipe that looked promising and started assembling my ingredients.  Celery, onion, water chestnuts and bean sprouts made it in time for the photo opp:


I didn't do step-by-step pics, because they are included in the recipe above.  I made some substitutions, due to preference and availability.  I used sesame seed oil instead of peanut oil because it was what I had on hand.  I omitted the mushrooms because I just don't care for them.  And I served it over rice and without chicken, because it wasn't dinner time.  But the recipe was lovely, and I will certainly make it again.  And I have conquered another item on my bucket list.  Grow my own bean sprouts and make chow mein at home?  Check!


Enjoy!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weeknight Roast Chicken

This was a revelation to me.  I had never roasted a chicken before.  I started this post back in September when I actually cooked this particular bird, but I have done it since then too.  It is so easy!  I got my recipe off of The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog.  (Sometimes I think I would like to be Ree Drummond when I grow up - she cooks the most amazing things, takes beautiful photographs, and has a witty way with words.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you haven't checked out her blog, you should.)


Let's start with some butter (or in my case, margarine, due to a milk allergy).  But butter just sounds better, doesn't it?  Scoop the butter into a bowl, and zest a lemon over it.


I used half margarine and half coconut oil.


Then we put some fresh rosemary over the top.  Chop it up and throw it in.


Next comes kosher salt and pepper.  Someday I am going to get a pepper grinder and have "fresh ground pepper" like all these recipes call for.  But I haven't gotten around to it yet.


There it is.  A colorful combo of fat and seasonings.


Stir it all up.


See, this is kinda like painting by numbers.  You just look at the photo and do what you see.   This is my kind of cooking!  You've got a bird, I've got a bird, so does Ree.  It is like a group cooking therapy session.  Or something.


Scoop the goop onto the bird.


Smear the butter mixture all over the bird, and squeeze one of the lemons over it.


Then stuff the other lemons and a sprig of rosemary into the chicken's cavity.  


Make sure and use it all up!


Then put it in the oven at 425 degrees for a regular oven (400 for convection) and roast the bird for about an hour and 15 minutes or an hour and a half.  This is what surprised me the most!  I was able to make this meal on a work night, because the cook time isn't crazy-long.


Here is what it looked like when it was done.


Delicious!


Cover it up with foil for about ten minutes to let all those juices set inside there before you carve it.


It doesn't look like much wrapped up tight, but it smells like heaven!


As an aside, I use only the freshest ingredients when making my sides.  I would never reach into my pantry and find, for example, a spud that has been in there so long it has grown another potato.


Then I looked up how to carve the thing.  I turned to Video Jug for this info.  Seemed to work just fine.


And there is dinner!


Enjoy!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pizza with the Super Peel

Making homemade pizza is a lot of fun.  If you haven't ever tried it, you should!


First you make the dough, knead it, let it rise, punch it down and roll it out.  Here is what I put in this crust:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup very warm water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • herbs and black pepper to taste

I got that recipe here and the author, S. John Ross, also provides step-by-step instructions to get it to the step shown in the next picture.  So why don't you pay Gourmand Bleu a visit and then come back when you are ready to roll.


Roll out the dough on something it won't stick to, like parchment paper.  Grab some pizza sauce, or if you are feeling fancy, make some yourself.  I was not feeling fancy.


Spread the sauce on the dough and assemble your toppings.


Add your toppings to your pizza.  Try not to drool.


As you can see, one half of this pizza has no cheese.  That half is for me, because I have a dairy allergy.  My husband, on the other hand, has cheese on his half.


Now here is something I am pretty excited about.  My parents got me a Super Peel to move dough around easily, and this is my first time trying it out.


So, you move the wooden peel under the dough, and the pastry cloth acts as a conveyor belt.  It is pretty slick.


All loaded up and ready for the oven!


Pizza is moved onto the preheated pizza stone, without dropping toppings everywhere or becoming horribly disfigured.  Success!


I do think I need more practice, to make it a smother process.  If you watch the videos on the link it works really easily.  Oh, and maybe I should clean my pizza stone, too.


Here is the finished pizza.  I put it on the pan after it came out of the oven.  Remember, it was baked directly on the pizza stone, and we didn't use cornmeal or anything to make it behave.


Ready to serve?


One final addition.  Tomatoes!


Served up for a tasty lunch.  Yum!



Enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

BBQ Chicken Bento

Have I mentioned how I love this time of year?  Fresh veggies from my friend's and family member's gardens are pouring in to my kitchen.  The little tomatoes below are compliments of my sister-in-law.  Thanks!


This bento contains:
  • white steamed rice
  • grilled chicken
  • mini cookie cup
  • BBQ dipping sauce
  • black & white sesame seeds (garnish) 


The little "cookie cup" was made while I was playing around with my friend Ann's Demarle at Home muffin tray.  It is unlike anything I have ever baked with.  I'm in love with it.  So I had to throw some cookie dough in there to see what happened.  These cute little cookie cups happened.  And they didn't stick!  Yay!  If you want to order something out of the catalog, let me know.  I'm having a party soon.  ;)

Happy bento! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Waffle Bento

You ever have those mornings where nothing sounds good?  Yeah.  Thursday was one of those mornings.

I told myself, "You don't have to pack a bento.  Just grab whatever sounds appetizing."  The only thing I could come up with was waffles.  So I stuck two in a plastic bag.  But then, how was I going to bring my toppings?

This is the resulting mini bento:


It contains:
  • peanut butter
  • maple syrup
  • red grapes
  • dried blueberries (space filler)
  • sesame seeds (garnish)



I was feeling a little sheepish about waffles for lunch, until I found out that my mom and aunt went to a place called Waffle Window for lunch this weekend.  

I put a knife (to spread the peanut butter) and a fork, along with a napkin, in the pocket of my bright pink thermal tote, and off I go!


Happy bento!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Look, Ma: No Rice!

If you haven't jumped on the bento bandwagon yet, I am guessing you don't want to eat rice everyday. Or, you run through fast food for dinner on a regular basis, and don't have any extra McNuggets to make into a cute bento.  Fear not!  There are other options.

I present for your consideration, today's bento:


No leftovers, no rice.  A ham sandwich, some veggies and a little bit of hummus.  What could be simpler?

And who could say "no" to this face?


Add a couple of extras if you have a long day ahead of you.  I chose an apple and some ZFruit.


I put it into my new pink URU thermal tote:


 And it is all ready to go!


Happy bento!

Baked Tacos

So, last week I went to a Damarle at Home party at my friend Triann's house.  We ate the most delicious tacos, and saw how easy the product is to use, and how there is virtually no clean up.  I took the catalog home, and kept seeing this picture.


I am at a very impressionable age.  So this is what we had for dinner.  I even borrowed a Damarle cupcake tray from my friend Ann to give it a try in my own kitchen.  Verdict - it is fantastic.  I will be having a party and buying as much of it as I can afford.  After I get some Christmas money or something - lol.


I made some with cheese for Bryan.  Some without for me.  The chicken that is in there has been marinated and grilled.  The corn tortillas were softened in the microwave.  Then I put a little olive oil on them, and put them into the little cups.


Next I took photos.  The dog waited patiently.  Nothing fell to the floor.  Poor Dioji.  

There is water in the extra cups because you aren't supposed to bake them empty.  But I thought I was only feeding two of us (more on that later) so I didn't make a full tray.


I love this time of year.  It is the time of year when my family and friends realize that they cannot eat all of the delicious tomatoes coming off the plants in their gardens.  And I help.  Because that is what friends (and daughter-in-laws) are for.

Just look at this beauty:


But we were doing something.  Ah, yes.  Baking tacos.

I put the tacos in the oven for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.  Or, I would have left them in the oven for 15 minutes.  More on that later.

Meanwhile, I assembled some toppings:


Lettuce shreds, the previously photographed tomato, fresh cilantro, olives, and lime wedges.

Before the oven had beeped, friends started showing up.  Bryan was on his way to Geek Trivia and fellow geeks had decided to carpool.  So I decided that our dinner would feed four.  Here is what those lucky geeks got to eat: 


I loved the taste of the lime juice and cilantro.  It reminded me of the more authentic mexican restaurants around here.


Oh yes.  We will be having these again.  And next time, I will bake up a whole tray.  Because you never know when the geeks will descend.


Enjoy!