Tuesday, March 31, 2009


So I have a specific idea about what I want for dinner and I don't have ginger...not even dry (which I'll have to pick up.) So I found a great blog, Raw Test Kitchen, that has a list of substitutions for all kinds of stuff. Thanks dude!!!

1 whole vanilla bean = 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 stick cinnamon = 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice = 1/3 teaspoon each (equal parts) ground cinnamon, ground cloves and ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves = 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh celery = 1 tablespoon dehydrated celery flakes

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice = 1-3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, blended with 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or ground allspice and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves = 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 medium clove garlic = 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 medium clove garlic and 1 teaspoon salt = 1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger = 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon fresh herb leaves, chopped = 1 teaspoon dried herb leaves
(leafy green herbs, such as basil, cilantro, dill, oregano, parsley, tarragon, thyme)

1 medium onion, chopped = 1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves = 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves = 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 tablespoon fresh parsley = 1 teaspoon dried parsley leaves

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper = 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

Basil substitute with Oregano or thyme

Chervil substitute with Tarragon or parsley

Chive substitute with Green onion; onion; or leek

Cilantro substitute with Parsley

Italian Seasoning substitute with a blend of any of these: basil, oregano, rosemary, and ground red pepper

Marjoram substitute with Basil; thyme; or savory

Mint substitute with Basil; marjoram; or rosemary

Oregano substitute with Thyme or basil

Parsley substitute with Chervil or cilantro

Poultry Seasoning substitute with Sage plus a blend of any of these: thyme, marjoram, savory, black pepper, and rosemary

Rosemary substitute with Thyme; tarragon; or savory

Sage substitute with Poultry seasoning; savory; marjoram; or rosemary

Savory substitute with Thyme; marjoram; or sage

Tarragon substitute with Chervil; dash fennel seed; or dash aniseed

Thyme substitute with Basil; marjoram; oregano; or savory

Allspice substitute with Cinnamon; cassia; dash of nutmeg or mace; or dash of cloves

Aniseed substitute with Fennel seed or a few drops anise extract

Cardamom substitute with Ginger

Cinnamon substitute with Nutmeg or allspice (use only 1/4 of the amount)

Cloves substitute with Allspice; cinnamon; or nutmeg

Cumin substitute with Chili powder

Ginger substitute with Allspice; cinnamon; mace; or nutmeg

Mace substitute with Allspice; cinnamon; ginger; or nutmeg

Nutmeg substitute with Cinnamon; ginger; or mace

Saffron substitute with Dash turmeric (for color)

More Cooking Gadgets

I just found a fun site with a nice list of cooking gadgets. I haven't read them all, but there's a fiberglass crisper for french fries and pizzas from Solutions that I really want. I knew it existed, but now I must have it. I think itwould be great for sweet potato fries that often get mushy.

Bad Dreams...Do Come True

I had a terrible nightmare last night where zombies were chasing me. And my husband fled with friends and I was all alone except for a famous musician that was half zombie (I don't know what half zombie is, but it was a dream.)

So my husband sent this to me this morning:

It kinda looks like the musician, I guess dreams do come true...
Here's the link for the full story on this cake.

Monday, March 30, 2009


This recipe is from mainstreet.com and it seems easy enough. Only 5 minutes kneading and 10 minutes rising isn't so bad.
DIY Pizza

Cooking Club

I did a bit of a crazy thing last night, and it stems from answering an ad on craigslist. Don't worry, it's not casual encounters or anything. While perusing the site, I happened upon a call for the formation of a cooking club and I responded to the ad which is totally out of character for me. The good news is that the organizers replied back and asked me to attend. The better news is that I actually showed up, I often flake when I have to drive more than 10 minutes to do something.

I'm so glad I went. All the girls that attended were really nice and welcoming; I was the only person that didn't have a tie to the host. And, for the first meeting, I thought it went extremely well. There were some missed ingredients and some substituted ingredients (but hell, that's hard to avoid when you have 6 different people bringing stuff for a foreign dish that no one's ever cooked.)

The theme for the evening was Thai food. We did Tom Yum, Pad Thai, and caramel dumplings.

We paired up to make these dishes which was fun and worked pretty well. My partner and I did the Tom Yum. Here is the link to the recipe we used from recipezaar. Our recipe had a few subtle differences but I believe they originated from the same source. The only thing I would change is the amount of green peppers. We were directed to cook them in the soup and it was really hot, like lips numb hot. The recipe suggests 2-3 chilis and unless you like super spicy things, I would say 1 is more than enough. 1/2 a pepper for mild, 1 for medium, 2 for hot, and 3 for crazy hot. We also didn't use rice noodles, but we had Pad Thai as an entree and that would have been overkill.
I don't know the exact recipe we used for Pad Thai, but I'll post it when I can, because it was great.
For dessert we had caramel dumplings. That one was a bit of a trial because carmelization can be trouble, but the girls were able to execute it perfectly after a lot of hard work.
I also don't have the recipe for the dumplings, but I'll post it later.
Next month we're going to try sushi, stay tuned.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


After days of having tostadas and tacos we still have a bunch of corn tortillas left. Now corn tortillas freeze really well, but if you want to use them up and are bored of eating tacos and tostadas, you can use them for breakfast.

One of our favorite dishes is chilaquiles and it's super easy. You can search and find a hundred different recipes, but this is my favorite.

4 corn tortillas, cut in sixths
1/2 c salsa
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 c shredded cheese
2T olive oil

Heat oil in skillet on medium heat
Fry tortillas in batches until lightly golden brown but not super crispy
Remove tortillas and allow the pan to cool to medium low heat, about 3-5 minutes
Add tortillas back to pan and add eggs, kind of like a tortilla omelet
When eggs are almost cooked add salsa and cook until liquid is mostly absorbed
Remove pan from heat and add shredded cheese to the top and cover for 3 minutes.

This serves two, and can be served with beans if you want. Also, if you don't have salsa, you can use enchilada sauce, or tomatoes and onions. It's good with a tomatillo salsa as well. have fun with this recipe and enjoy.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lucy's El Adobe

I haven't posted many recipes recently because I've been having tostadas every night and I don't really think you guys need to know how to make tostadas. The reason, though, that we've been eating tostadas every night is because of the restaurant, Lucy's El Adobe, which is on Melrose across from Paramount Studios. Lucy's has the best tostadas and what makes them the absolute best is the salad dressing that accompanies the tostadas. You can buy the little bottle of dressing, which I do, for an exorbitant fee of $7, but it's soooo worth it.

So what's in this dressing that makes it soooo great? It's a secret recipe that no one knows. Some people say garlic salt and butter. I swear there's some anchovy paste in there. But there's some congealed looking stuff that floats in it and you can see it on the side of the bottle; I know it sounds unappetizing, but it's amazing.

So if you're in LA and you're hungry, try a tostada at Lucy's. Or...if you know the recipe for the dressing, email me.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Kitchen Lab

Here's a fun article from popsci.com with a gallery of kitchen tools and appliances from some of the world's top chefs. This is way more fun than a food processor.

Season Your Food at Gun point

This Spice Blaster isn't useless, per say, but I think there are more ideal ways to season your food. I think it might be more fun to use it to create some mayhem rather than in the kitchen. But that's just me...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cooking Gadgets

If you've read my blog at all you've probably figured out by now that I'm a bit of a geek. With my love of zombies and horror and my links to geeky sites, I'm now in the realm of nerdom. I think I've definitely become more geeky because of my husband. For instance, we're a 2 person household with 5 computers, 2 Macs, 2 PCs and a PC that runs Mac, Windows and Linux. It's a bit much, but just who we are. You can find us on an average evening, after dinner, sitting on the sofa with our laptops. We always laugh because we think of what we look like from our dogs' point of view: 2 people always staring at some box of light (computer,tv, cell phone).

With geekery comes gadgets. Of course my husband loves gadgets, he's a dude, but more and more I've become interested in gadgets of the culinary sort. I'll try to post if I see anything new and interesting but for now, here's a great site www.slashfood.com. They have a great category for food gadgets. Enjoy!

MMMM...Canned Bacon?

This freaks me out a little. But the Geekologie writer reminded me that this would be good to keep in a zombie/robot shelter. ha

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stop Letting Your Food Go To Waste

First off, people need to eat the food they buy, since, roughly 25% gets thrown away. You can read the article here. Also, half of US food ready for harvest never gets eaten.

Here's another tip form our friends over at lifehacker

Switch to a two weeks grocery cycle to waste less food

Cook two or three meals' worth of each recipe at the beginning of the two-week period, and immediately freeze the extra portions for the second week. Freeze any meat that you won't be eating within the next 48 hours.

Use up fresh fruits and vegetables first, and then supplement them with just-as-healthy frozen (foods) as you get into the second week. Check expiration dates on dairy products before you buy them; in most cases you can find products that will remain fresh for two weeks or longer. The idea is to always USE UP what you buy before you shop again.

Prune Torte Pics

So I said I'd post pics of the prune torte so here it is:

Or half of it, anyway. It looked pretty when it was whole, but the prunes made it impossible to cut a pretty piece. It tasted good, but not amazing. I love the crust of this but I guess fresh fruits work much better. I've tried it with apples, cherries and peaches and all have turned out spectacular. This one was just alright for me, dawg. Skip the prunes, try the torte, it's worth it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Maple Syrup Substitute and Homemade Baking Mix

On any given day that my husband and I get to share a breakfast at home, when he is asked what he wants for breakfast, he almost always replies "waffles."

A few months back I started making my own baking mix and storing it because it's a bit cheaper than store bought and you can add whatever you want. I always use whole wheat flour and oats and add whatever grains I have on hand. Here is my mix recipe, but once you have the general idea you can change things around a bit. I adapted this from a simple pancake recipe.
4 c flour
3 c whole wheat flour
1 c oatmeal
1/2 T salt
2 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
I mix it all in a zipper bag or a jar and for every heaping cup of mix I use 1 c skim milk, 1 egg, 1 T extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 t vanilla. For waffles I use egg whites. It's pretty easy and super tasty.

I also labeled this post as having a maple syrup substitute. I came upon this problem yesterday morning when I realized I had run out of maple syrup. I found a recipe for fake maple syrup here that seems pretty good, but of course, I had no maple flavoring. So I just made a sauce and it was fabulous.
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c water
1 T margarine
1 T whiskey
1/2 t vanilla
Melt margarine over medium heat
Add brown sugar, stirring to dissolve
Add water, vanilla and whiskey
Lower heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes

It was a great topping and we didn't miss having maple syrup. It definitely gave breakfast a fun little kick.

Grilled Beets and Greens

At the farmer's market this weekend I picked up some fresh beets because my husband loves them and I've never cooked them fresh before. We also got a new grill so we've been grilling everything we can. So I figured, why not grill some beets? The other great thing about beets is that the greens are edible too, so it's like having 2 completely different vegetables from the same plant.

Grilled Beets

4 fresh beets (peeled and sliced)
1 clove garlic
2 T olive oil
2 T balsamic
pinch of s & p
(1 t olive oil and 1 t balsamic for dressing)

Marinate beets 1 hour or up to 8 hours
Remove beets from marinade and place in foil and wrap up
Grill over medium for 25 minutes brushing with remaining marinade every 5 minutes or so
Remove from foil and place beets directly on grill for 1-2 minutes on each side
Remove from grill and dress with olive oil and balsamic and season with s & p to taste if needed

Beet Greens

Beet greens removed from root and chopped (cut off all large stems)
1/2 onion chopped
1 T butter or margarine or olive oil
s & p to taste


Saute onions in butter over medium low heat until translucent
Add greens and saute until soft, 7-10 minutes
Add s & p to taste

You can also cook beet greens as you would any other greens, with yummy bacon or even a little bit of vinegar. But do not over cook! The greens get bitter when over cooked, so just let them get soft and then remove them from heat. Enjoy!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Homemade Tortillas

I love Mexican food and try to eat it at least once a week. Last night I shopped and had our Mexican menu completely planned out, was set to go...but, alas, forgot the tortillas! Crap. Now, I could've gone back to the store, but I knew that making them myself was possible.

The process of creating a tortilla is so easy, in fact, once you make them I think it might be hard to go back to the old packaged kind.

Of course, I didn't have all the ingredients normal recipes call for so I improvised. Here is the recipe I used. I substituted half the flour with whole wheat, as usual. And I used light margarine for the shortening. Everything else stayed the same and they were beautiful. I urge you to try to make your own, it's so worth it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Whoopie Pie, Cake, Cookie... Oh My

Thanks to Catherine for this excellent article and recipe. And thanks as well for making me fat!

Adapted from Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Ann Arbor, Mich.

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon sea salt.

1. For the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until light and creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in three parts, alternating with buttermilk, and combining well after each addition.
2. Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, scoop out 12 1/4-cup mounds of batter and place about 6 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before filling.
3. For the buttercream filling: For best results, follow directions carefully, paying attention to required temperatures. Fill bottom half of a double boiler (or a medium saucepan) with an inch or two of water, and bring to a boil over high heat. In top half of double boiler (or a metal bowl), combine egg whites and sugar. Place over simmering water and whisk just until sugar is dissolved and temperature reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
4. Using a whisk attachment on a heavy-duty mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar on high until they double in volume and become thick and shiny. Continue to whisk until cool. Reduce speed to medium and begin to add butter about 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until all the butter is incorporated. Add vanilla and salt. If mixture looks curdled, continue to whisk until it is smooth. Increase speed to high and whisk for 1 more minute. Use immediately or place in an airtight container and chill for up to 3 days, whisking buttercream again before using.
5. For assembly: Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, place 1/4 cup buttercream on flat side of each of 6 cakes, spreading it to edges. Top filled half with another cake to sandwich the buttercream. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or wrap individually and freeze for up to 3 months.
Yield: 6 pies.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A History of Irish Cuisine


Happy St. Paddys

Here are some yummy sounding Guiness recipes for the holiday. I'll just take my Guiness straight up, thanks.

Fiber & Prunes & The Original Plum Torte

Ugh...Prunes and fiber does not sound like something I want to mess with on a regular basis. But according to one of my favorite blogs on http://www.runnersworld.com/ prunes are great for bone health and fiber is even better than previously thought for cardiovascular health (why I eat my oats in the morning.)

I have to say, I've never eaten a prune in my life. So I wanted to find a recipe for a great prune cake that I could incorporate some fiber into. This way my husband won't make fun of me eating cake every day(I hope). Cake is my favorite thing, so I have to find a somewhat healthy way to incorporate it into my diet.
I'm thinking I can use prunes as I would any dried fruit. So I'm going to use one of my favorite recipes with a few substitutions.

1/2 c margarine, softened
1/4 splenda
1/2 c sugar plus 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3c whole wheat flour
1/4 c oatmeal (instant)
1/2 c flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 c egg substitute
Pinch salt
24 dried prune slices, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and drained
1 teaspoon cinnamon or more, to taste

1. Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream the margarine and the 1/4 c splenda and 1/2 c of sugar. Add the flour, oats, baking powder, egg substitute, and salt and beat to mix well. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Cover the top with the runes. Mix the cinnamon with the remaining 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar and sprinkle over the top.
3. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired.
4. To serve, let the torte return to room temperature and reheat at 300 degrees until warm, if desired. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream.

I will post a picture of this in the next day or 2

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mushroom Barley Risotto

I love to use different grains as substitutions for rice and pasta. My favorites are barley and quinoa. I also have this thing about not serving the same type of starch 2 nights in a row (or proteins or veggies for that matter) so I try to get creative with what I have.
Barley keeps a really good texture and it's pretty forgiving. It gets starchy but not too incredibly gummy when overcooked. And you can use it pretty much as you would rice. It has a nice nutty flavor so it adds an extra oomph to a recipe.

I used a Tyler Florence recipe from Food Network (I also included the recipe below) and halved it; and substituted the barley for the rice, of course. I only used crimini mushrooms, but I've used all different types in this sort of thing before, so feel free to play. I also used a little less broth than was called for. You'll notice in the recipe that you add 1 cup of liquid at a time, I start with 1 cup and add another every 15 minutes, simmering a total of 45 minutes. I used a total of about 3 1/3 cups stock. I did use about 1/3 c wine though, what can I say, I'm a lush.


  • 4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, diced, divided
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons butteror margerine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh Italian parsley, for garnish


Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.( I just added mine cold)

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, herbs and butter. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in truffle oil. Saute 1 minute then remove from heat and set aside.

Coat a saucepan with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Saute the remaining 1/2 onion and garlic clove. Add the barley and stir quickly until it is well-coated, 1 minute. This step cooks the starchy coating and prevents the grains from sticking. Stir in wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated.

Now, with a ladle, add 1 cup of the broth and cook, stirring. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the barley to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy. Transfer the mushrooms to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted. Top with a drizzle of truffle oil and chopped parsley before serving.

It turned out pretty darn perfect. I had it again for dinner tonight mixed with some chopped spinach. Holla! That was some good barley.


I wanted to focus on doing recipe make overs this month to try to make amazing dishes a bit more healthy. One of the easiest ways to make over a recipe is to change up the grain. For instance, I made eggplant parmesan last night. But instead of dredging the eggplant slices in flour or breadcrumbs I used amaranth. There are a lot of great grains to use that are much higher in fiber or protein so you should definitely give some a try.

Great Grains

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Splendid Spaghetti Squash

One of my favorite foods is the spaghetti squash. My husband, a squash lover, had never had one until I cooked it for him and he fell head over heels in love with it. Even if you aren't a squash lover the spaghetti squash is a fantastic alternative to spaghetti. It's totally easy to prepare as well.

With a butcher knife, cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out all the seeds and junk. At this point, you can bake, steam, or microwave. I almost always microwave because I prefer less of a mess. I sprinkle with Italian seasoning and a little garlic. Then in the recess where the seeds were I put about a T of water and I cover each half with plastic wrap. Then I microwave it for about 10 minutes.

Let it stand for about five minutes. With a fork, scrape the inside of the squash and you get all these spaghetti like strings. You can use the squash as the bowl and just pour sauce directly into the squash. I think it gets a little watery that way, so I scoop out the squash strings and serve it in a normal pasta dish.

I normally serve it with chicken parmesan or spicy Italian sausage, but it, again, is another one of those versatile dishes I love so much.


Friday, March 13, 2009

I Think It Might Be


This Recipe is From Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary Cookbook


1 1/4c sugar
1/2c butter or margarine, softened
1/2 c
eggs ( I use egg substitute)
1 1/2c mashed very ripe bananas (3 medium)
1/2c buttermilk (I use nf milk and nf yogurt)
1t vanilla
2 1/2c flour (I'm using 1 1/2 c white, 1 c whole wheat)
1t baking soda
1t salt
1c chopped nuts, if desired

Print these coupons...

About Concordance™


Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven.
Heat oven to 350
Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.

Mix sugar and butter in large bowl
Stir in eggs until well blended
Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla
Beat until smooth
Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened
Stir in nuts
Pour into pans

Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
Cool 10 minutes
Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack
Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days

This bread freezes well too; up to 3 months

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What What in the Butternut

I purchased some butternut squash about a week ago for the purpose of making a soup or just as a side. I never did either of those things so I've had these huge squash in my refrigerator taking up precious vegetable space. So last night I decided I would stuff them with some left over rice.

I used this recipe as a guide but mine looks a bit different. I still wanted to have the squash as a main vegetable so I didn't hollow it out all the way. I didn't have cranberries so I used dried apricots and I used far less onions, maybe about 1/2 a cup. I also used brown rice instead of basmati. I cut the squash in half, then microwaved for 10 minutes. Then I sauteed the onions, apricots and garlic and mixed in the rice. I stuffed these babies, and baked for 25 minutes at 375.
This, again, is one of those versatile dishes you can play around with.

If I had bought these for the purpose of stuffing I thing I would have used dried pears, pecans and fresh sage.

I served mine with tangelo glazed chicken (about 1/4 c juice from a tangelo off my tree in the backyard, 1 clove chopped garlic, a few red pepper flakes and s & p. Brown the chicken and garlic then pour the juice over and let it reduce to a glaze, 10 minutes.) and green beans.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

If You Want a Boy, Eat Cereal

My friend texted me early this morning to tell me she was having her second boy! Very exciting stuff. So I had to hop onto Google and find out what she's eating to conceive all these boys, or is it just in the water... Apparently it's not in the water, but in the cereal.
"If you want a boy, eat pleanty of breakfast cereals, says scientists"

Street Vendors for Inspiration

Click here for an article about a new LA restaurant inspired by global street cuisine.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I Like Big Rumps

Until recently I've had problems preparing a tri tip roast, but I came to terms with it, and conquered it. But, dear friends, I failed to mention that I've had problems cooking all sorts of roasts. I believe it stems form a few different things. 1. I grew up in a family of well done meat eaters and meat makers. And 2. Now I have a husband that is a medium-well eater of meat. So when I prepared these dry hunks of stringy beef for them it was always okay, pleasant even, but not for me. I realized in the last year that I am (gasp) a medium to medium-rare sort of carnivore.

I had this epiphany and decided I could change my ways. Now I actually have a few good meat thermometers and I use them religiously. I don't trust myself with timing a roast anymore; time can get away from you in the kitchen.

And I'm purchasing different kinds of roasts so I can find new techniques and really get this roasting thing down. So this week I bought a rump roast. I did it because it was a huge piece of meat and it was on sale, I can't help that I'm frugal. But I figured it would make a tasty dinner as well and lunches for my home bound husband.

I used a recipe called Perfect Rump Roast from recipezaar.com. And it absolutely was a perfect roast. I marinated mine all day prior to cooking it.
Here's the marinade:
2T olive oil
2T cooking wine (red wine vinegar can work too; but any liquid is fine, diet coke, beer, etc.)
1T black pepper
1T coarse salt
1t cayenne
1t garlic powder
1t onion powder
1t paprika
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t rosemary

I cut off the layer of fat and then got out all my aggression for the day by stabbing the roast about 20 times on each side. I let it marinate all day, but I took it out of the refrigerator about 90 minutes before roasting.
I roasted it, pretty much, as recommended by the recipe author, maybe 22 minutes a pound. I posted a photo below of some of the leftovers. I think it continued to cook while we were eating, but I swear it was perfect. Try it, you'll like it.

25 Vintage Cooking Tips

Thanks to tipnut.com for a collection of vintage cooking tips from the 1940's.

“Hara Hachi Bu”

"Hara Hachi Bu" is a Japanese phrase that translates to "eat until you are four/fifths full". Author Michael Pollan is looking for you or your cultures' food rules for his next book/project. You can read the New York Times article here and submit your rules in the comment section.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Beautiful Brussel Sprout

I love Sundays because I love to peruse the bounty of fresh foods and goods at the local farmers' market. I especially love this time of year because the weather is finally nice and the market is packed with vendors and consumers, it's just a good time.

My favorite items this week were the brussel sprouts. I feel so naive, but I never knew they grew on stalks, it just didn't occur to me. And the funny thing is that I absolutely love brussel sprouts.

I find that a lot of people despise brussel sprouts, my husband included. I think it's because he, and a lot of other people, only had them boiled or steamed rendering them brown, limp, slimy and bitter. Ewww and double ewww!

There are a few ways to make this vegetable spectacular. There is the creamy gratin version, which isn't the healthiest, but it's a good way to test out these baby cabbages if you are the faint of heart. Personally, I like to roast them, quick and easy.


15-20 brussel sprouts
1 T olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350
Oil a baking sheet
Slice sprouts in 1/2
Layer flat side down on sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper
Roast about 20 minutes, but don't let the leaves get too brown, a nice golden brown is good
Enjoy! This is a simple and clean dish.

(I have to give props to my boss for this little preparation recipe, she made me fall in love with brussel sprouts again)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

5 Foods For a Better Mood

I found this accidentally, but I love it...

Doggy Salt and Pepper Shakers

I wrote about these Doggy Salt and Pepper Shakers, where the salt and pepper comes out of the butts, a few posts ago.
They are available on Amazon.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Turkey Chili Verde

It was such a cold day today, overcast and windy. It made me want to cuddle up and eat something super hearty, so I made a chili verde with ground turkey. The main flavorful ingredient is salsa verde. It gives it a distinctive green hue that doesn't properly show up in the photo below. I love the brand Herdez, which is available in most grocery stores, but you can use whatever you prefer.


1 lb ground turkey
1 lb navy/ white, or any bean will work, rinsed and soaked over night
2 c salsa verde (I used 2 eight oz cans, but you can make it yourself or use a jar of whatever you have, it's not an exact science recipe, so a 14 oz can or 20 oz can would probably work fine)
4 c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 small brown onion chopped
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t paprika
1 t oregano
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t cayenne
1/2 T olive oil


Cook beans, broth, salsa, onions, garlic and 1/2 , or so, of the spices in large pot over medium heat for 30 minutes (reserve a bit of the spices to brown the turkey)
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3-4 hours or until beans are very tender and base becomes cloudy and reduced
Brown Turkey in olive oil with remaining spices over medium high heat for 5 minutes
Add Turkey to pot and raise heat to medium and cook for another 30 minutes
Voila! Easy as that

I like mine with just a tiny bit of a flavorful cheese, such as parmesan. A little sour cream would be nice too. And definitely a little cilantro. I think the Herdez salsa has a good amount of spice but if you want things more spicy, add some jalapeno.

Places You Should Spend Your Money

Below is a list of some cool "green" stores. I use their products and stand behind them. I'm not doing it because it's trendy (well maybe a little but I've always recycled.) The last 2 stores have cool kitchen products, but all the stores have great items.
Regeneration for handmade, recycled and eco products if you're near eagle Rock or Pasadena.
I like the Magazine Box in the gift section and I got a super cool little planter for my birthday, but it must be a one off because I can't find it on the site
The Road Less Traveled store has similar types of products if you're in the Orange County area. They carry recycled, disposable, biodegradable plates made from leftover sugar cane pulp. Sooooo Cooool! We all know we have to use disposable plates sometimes and this is the kind to use.
The Green Life is in Santa Monica and they, again, have the eco products, but I especially like the pet section.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Healthiest Fast Food

from wbbm780 via fark.com is a list of the 10 healthiest fast food restaurants

Taco Town

You should definitely not eat THIS!

Potato Gratin

Potato gratin can be a pretty unhealthy dish when you factor in butter, cream, and cheese. There's also the fact that people still seem to be scared of eating all that starch, even though potatoes are packed with nutrients. I love it. I think it's a fab side dish and it makes a nice presentation. It looks way more complicated than it actually is and it's guaranteed to taste great.

4 white rose or other starchy potatoes, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves chopped
2 T flour
1/2 c skim milk
1/2 c shredded Parmesan
2 T seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/8 t nutmeg
cooking spray


Preheat oven to 375
Slice potatoes thinly about 1/8"
Spray a non stick pan with cooking spray and warm over medium heat
Add garlic to pan and cook until slightly colored, DO NOT BURN
Add milk and nutmeg to pan and cook for about 5 minutes, turn heat down if it starts to burn
In a zipper bag put flour, about 1/3 c of the cheese, salt and pepper
Turn off stove and let milk cool
Toss potatoes into the pan to coat with milk (there will be milk left over)
Then toss the milk coated potatoes in the bag to coat with flour and cheese
Arrange the potatoes in a glass dish about 8x4x3" or a loaf pan (you can use 8x8 too, but the gratin will be flat) so that the potatoes overlap in layers
If there is any cheesy stuff at the bottom of the bag just toss that in the dish
Cover potatoes with remaining milk
Cover dish with foil and cook for 40 minutes
Remove cover and add remaining ,sprinkle top with breadcrumbs and cook an additional 10 minutes

I served mine with baked pork chops, white wine and onion reduction, and asparagus. It's a versatile side dish so it can be served with pretty much anything.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Starter Garden

So you may ask why I read AARP, same reason you read Playboy, the articles! Sorry if I called you out...But actually, my friend gave me an article from AARP on gardening to save money. I think it's a great article for all ages, so read it and start planting.

Apple Tartish Thing

I have a huge blog crush on Orangette. I think the recipes are well thought, the photos are beautiful and the writing is impeccable, I gush. I just happened upon this site a few weeks ago and the blog's been around since 2004... I need to catch up.
While perusing the recipes and past blog posts I found an apple tart-cake recipe that sounded divine and I knew I needed to try it. I emailed the recipe to my boss and she made it yesterday. It was everything you would expect it to be; rich, buttery, sweet, and all around amazing with a slight crunch to the crust. Because I'm trying to make things a bit healthier this month I tried to change things up just a bit. I wanted to keep the integrity of the dish but make it just a bit less buttery.
I pretty much copied the recipe, I hope I'm not crossing the line here. Copyright infringement? Hope Not... But if you clicked the link you saw her recipe, and this is mine:

3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c Splenda
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
5 T margarine ( i used smart beat- it was fine)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 /4 c egg substitute
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced very thinly

For topping:
2 T brown sugar
1 T Splenda
2 T margarine, melted and cooled slightly
1 t ground cinnamon
1 /4 c egg substitute

I can't believe how well it turned out. I'm not sure of the actual calories, but I know it's about 400 fewer calories in the butter alone. And it tastes great, I put such a negligible amount of the substitute sweetener, you can't taste it.
So if you're like me and care about calories, this may help a little, and you still get the awesome tart. It's worth a try.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Healthier Chicken Marsala

I think Chicken Marsala is a fairly healthy dish, it has a good amount of protein and mushrooms are great for you. I used Emiril Lagasse's Chicken Marsala recipe but made a few changes. I added onions (also high in nutrients) before the mushrooms and sauteed them until they were translucent. I only used 1T of olive oil, 1/4 c flour, low sodium chicken broth, and I used 1/2 c of a white wine I had on hand (I guess this should be called Chicken 2 Buck Chuck) in lieu of the marsala.

I also made a whole wheat french bread that was fabulous. I used a baguette recipe and just substituted half the white flour for whole wheat. I also added 1/2 a T of brown sugar. It turned out perfectly. Also, this recipe just suggests "throwing water on the oven floor." I used a souffle dish that I use for this purpose all the time, which I think is better. Enjoy it warm out of the oven with butter and maybe a little honey. Yummy!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Recipe Make Overs

As I've stated in 2 previous posts, I made a pasta with browned butter and sage for a party I had this weekend. It was a wonderfully tasty concoction, but healthy it was not. One of my guests actually said to me "You know how I know this is good? I just watched you poor a bowl of melted butter into the pasta."
It's true, butter makes everything better. Some recipes just need butter, that's all there is to it. But some recipes can be recreated fabulously with a fraction of the fat and calories. So this is my focus for the coming month, healthy recreations of fabulously fatty foods, and healthy recipes all around. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

Happy to Tell You

My birthday was a success. We had a great little party on Saturday that I catered myself. I estimate about 25 people showed up, which is quite a few people to cook for. I had an easy menu of browned butter sage pasta, beet and goat cheese salad and cold blanched asparagus with coarse salt. There were a few missteps, but no epic failures.

I prepared everything ahead of time, good news in the sense that all I had to do when the guests got here was boil water; bad news because I forgot a few key elements.
#1. I forgot to salt and pepper everything to taste, so it was a little bland. Luckily, I keep these super cute doggy salt and pepper shakers where the s & p comes out of their butts, on the table out in the dining room. Hopefully everyone was able to fend for themselves
#2. I forgot to put the asparagus out all together. This was a total bummer because I bought 4 pounds of it at the store. It was perfect asparagus, slim stalks and super green, and on sale. So now my husband and I will be eating asparagus for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I also made a mistake with the cake, but it turned out totally fine. I made a 2 layer cake with a whipped cream frosting and blackberries. The whipped cream frosting is super easy

1 1/2 c sifted powder sugar
3 cups whipping cream

beat the whipped cream until thick then slowly add the sifted sugar

Easy enough, but I forgot to sift the powdered sugar and just poured everything in together. It worked out fine, but the frosting had a few lumps in it that worried me, but I was like "oh well." After the cake was in the refrigerator for a few hours, the lumps melted and the cake turned out perfectly. Next time I will make the frosting according to directions, but I was very lucky this time that everything turned out ok.