Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wooden Spoon Chocolate Cake



If you enjoy chocolate and cake, this is the cake recipe for you. Seriously, this is the moistest, richest, fluffiest chocolate cake recipe ever and then I top it with a ganache frosting to push it to the chocolate limit. And you don't need a fancy mixer for this recipe, just a wooden spoon.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Balsamic Chicken

To accompany my polenta from yesterday's post, I made balsamic chicken. It's a really easy dish that requires just 1 grocery store ingredient, the chicken, and then everything else comes from the pantry.

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken tenders (or breasts or thighs, whatever you like)
1 medium onion
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt & pepper
I like to just roughly chop up the onion and garlic because this is a quick and rustic dish.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Polenta

I love polenta. It's kind of like a cornmeal porridge and it works great as the carb for almost any meal. There are tons of easy recipes for it, but here's how I like to make mine.

INGREDIENTS [serves 4]:
1/2 cup cornmeal
2-1/2 cups stock (I use chicken but vegetable would be good too; and if you're in a pinch and have no stock, water is okay)
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
splash of cream
pat of butter (roughly 1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Start by grating the cheese and chopping up the garlic.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding

The first time I ever tried bread pudding was at a buffet and it was really disappointing. It had the texture of jello and just tasted like sugar and I decided that bread pudding was gross and that I'd never eat it again. However, since then, I've tried much yummier homemade bread puddings and I'm a convert. This is my recipe for bread pudding, which I sort of made up using whatever ingredients I had on hand at home. I thought it would be really delicious to use vanilla bean, especially since the milky custard mixture that's poured over the bread is pretty much like an ice cream base. This is a great way to use up leftover stale bread.

INGREDIENTS:
4 cups of cubed stale bread - I used one sourdough boule that was sitting out on my counter for 3 days
1 vanilla bean
1 cup of cream (light or heavy, doesn't matter unless you're counting calories)
1-1/2 cups of milk **OR instead of separate cream and milk, you can use half-and-half
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
handful of raisins - can be omitted if you despise raisins
handful of pecans or almonds or peanuts - whatever nuts you prefer - or leave it out if you hate nuts
Start by splitting and scraping the vanilla bean into a bowl. If you don't have vanilla beans at home, don't worry. Just skip this soaking step and increase the amount of vanilla extract to 1 tablespoon.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Four Cheese Pasta

I love cheesy pasta but I don't always want to spend the time making a roux to make a cheese sauce. Sometimes, it's just easier to toss the pasta in cheese and let the heat of the pasta melt the cheese. That's where this recipe comes from. It's a cheese and carb overload but it's really delicious and easy to make.

Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
1 lb angel hair pasta (or any pasta you like)
1/4 lb Fontina cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/4 cup farmer's cheese
1/2 cup cream (or milk)
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

**You can use any combination of cheese that you like but I like the mildness of the Fontina, the saltiness of the Italian cheese, and the creaminess of the farmer's cheese. You could use Gouda or Swiss instead of Fontina and goat cheese instead of the farmer's cheese for a bit more bite; it's really up to your preference.
Start by heating the cream in a saucepan and getting a pot of water boiling for the pasta. Angelhair is really thin and delicate so it only takes 4 minutes to cook. Don't forget to salt the water before adding the pasta.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Toasted Everything Bread

Recently, I discovered that my local grocery store makes everything Italian bread - like an everything bagel, except it's bread. I was really excited to try it but I wasn't sure what to do with it so I just went a simple route. I slathered it in butter and toasted it to eat alongside pasta.

Ingredients:
1/2 loaf of (everything) Italian bread
3 tablespoons of butter

Slice the bread open, spread on some butter, and stick it in the broiler for 2 minutes until it's charred and toasted. That's it. EASY.


Doesn't this look incredible and delicious? It would be great to serve alongside barbecue or pasta or you could even use it to make a sandwich. YUMMMMM.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spicy Shrimp

Shrimp is one of the easiest proteins to throw together for dinner because it cooks up really quickly. My sister likes to make it with paprika, which I really like because it's smoky/spicy/sweet and adds a lot of flavor with practically no effort. I was inspired by that when I decided to do an even spicier shrimp with Sriracha sauce.

Ingredients [serves 2 for dinner, 4 as an appetizer]
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1/2 teaspoon paprika
drizzle of olive oil
Mix everything together and let it marinate for a few minutes. The longer you let it sit, the more the spices will penetrate the shrimp.
I like to cook my shrimp on a grill pan but a skillet is fine or if you're feeling up to it, you can fire up the outdoor grill. I would recommend sticking the shrimp on a skewer though, if you want to cook it on the barbecue. The pan (or grill) should be screaming hot before you put the shrimp on. Let them cook on the first side for two minutes until you start to see the edges turn pink and opaque.
When you flip them, there should be a nice char on the surface. They only need to cook for a minute on the second side.
Serve immediately so they're still piping hot.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Green Smoothies

Green smoothies got big a few years ago but they never appealed to me. However, over the past year, I gained 12 lbs while working in Baltimore. I was hanging out with a bunch of guys from the south who love things deep fried and drowning in butter so it's not surprising that I've gained weight. I'm trying to get into shape for the summer and for an upcoming trip to Provo Island, Turks & Caicos, so I've started drinking green smoothies for breakfast. They are quick and easy and make a great breakfast.

Green smoothies offer lots of health benefits. The ingredients all have tons of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and it's all whole foods; nothing is processed. Blending up the greens also gives your body a head start at breaking down the cell walls of the plant so it's easier to digest. But it's better than juicing because you still get all of the fiber. The fiber also helps your body slowly digest the smoothie so you stay fuller for longer and there's no sugar crash. All the sources say to rotate your greens (since all leaves in nature contain some amount of toxins - it's a defense mechanism) and they say not to add dairy or sugar because that just defeats the benefits. It's supposed to be great for your hair and nails and skin. So far (it's been about 1.5 weeks), I've noticed that my skin "glows" more and my nails are strong.

You can make these about a day in advance and store in the fridge. I like to drink a smoothie for breakfast so I make it the night before. Also, if you let it mellow out overnight, the grassy taste of the greens becomes more subdued.

Formula [1 serving]:
1 large handful of greens**
1/4 cup water (enough to make the smoothie drinkable)
1 cup (frozen) fruit
1/2 banana

**Suggestions for mild-tasting, easy-to-blend greens: baby spinach (which is the best "starter" green because it's really mild), romaine lettuce, swiss chard, parsley, basil, carrot tops, beet greens,
Suggestions for bitter/spicy-tasting, easy-to-blend greens: arugula, mustard greens, dandelion greens, 
Suggestions for hard-to-blend greens (if you have a great blender): kale, bok choy, collard greens, turnip greens,
There are much more extensive lists, which you can just google, and if you're curious about the nutrition values, you can google that too.

I like using frozen fruit because it makes the smoothie thick and keeps it cold for longer. Unlike the greens, it's okay to use the same fruits everyday since fruits are meant to be eaten (they're nature's way of procreating - animals eat the seeds and "deposit" them in a new location later). I should warn you that if you use darker fruits - like berries - the smoothie will come out an ugly color. Since red is the complementary color to green, it turns out a brownish grey that's kind of unappetizing but still delicious. I'm just letting you know!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spicy Basil Noodle

Another dish I loved at Asian Noodle was their spicy basil noodle. If you make both the pineapple fried rice and this noodle dish you can serve 4 people and everyone can share.

Ingredients [serves 2]:
1 handful rice noodles (about 1 cup cooked)
4 or 5 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup bell peppers cut into strips
1/4 onion cut into strips
1/4 cup bamboo shoots
1/4 cup baby corn
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (found in Asian markets, can substitute Sriracha but it won't be the same).
1/4 lb beef - same as with the pineapple fried rice, you can use any protein you like, e.g. chicken, tofu, pork, etc.
1/2 cup basil leaves

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pineapple Fried Rice

In college, my friends and I would frequent a restaurant called "Asian Noodle House" which had some great Thai dishes. One of my favorite dishes was pineapple fried rice, which is really easy to make at home.

Ingredients [serves 2]:
1 cup cooked rice (jasmine rice or any long grain rice, this is also a great way to use up leftover Chinese food rice)
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 onion, cut into strips
1/2 cup bell peppers, cut into strips (I used baby bell peppers because they're sweeter)
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup peas
1/4 cup bamboo shoots
1/4 cup water chestnuts
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
1/4 cup cashews (lightly salted)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oil
1 chicken thigh - or you could use any protein you like, e.g. tofu, beef, pork, etc.
Optional ingredient: raisins - it might seem weird but I like the sweetness that the raisins add.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Salted Caramel Apple Tatin Cake

I think most people have heard of tarte tatin, which is a tarte with fruit on the bottom that's flipped upside-down after it's been baked to expose the fruit. I decided to make a tatin cake because I had some apples and a container of sour cream that were both begging to be used. Sour cream? Yes, sour cream. It's a great ingredient in cakes because it helps add in a lot of moisture. I made a salted caramel because I love that salty sweet combo but you can omit the salt in the caramel if you're not a fan.

Cake Ingredients:
2 granny smith apples (or any apple that's good for baking)
1 stick butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
8 oz. sour cream (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Caramel Ingredients:
1/3 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Start by greasing the pan. I used a springform pan to make flipping the cake easier. If you don't have a springform pan, I'd recommend using any pan that's shallow enough that flipping the cake out won't be a huge ordeal, e.g. a glass pie pan. Oh, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A1 Burgers

Burgers are one of my favorite foods and though I'm not an overly picky eater, I think many restaurants serve mediocre patties. That's why I like to save burger-eating for at home where I can customize everything.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1-1/4 lb ground beef
5 potato buns
1/4 cup diced onions
3 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons A1 steak sauce (or Worcestershire if you don't have A1 on hand)
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

optional toppings: cheese, onions, mushrooms, jalapenos
Combine the ground beef, egg, diced onion, minced garlic, A1 sauce, salt, pepper, and 1 potato roll that's been ripped into small pieces in a large bowl. Use your hands to combine the meat mixture. Don't squeeze the meat, since that will make it tough and chewy. Instead, fold the ingredients using your hand like a paddle or scoop.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Farmer's Cheese Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a great spring/summer dish. It's great for picnics and barbecues because it's so easy and it travels well (as long as there's no mayonnaise in it).

I recently discovered how amazing farmer's cheese is. It's an unripened, soft, creamy cheese that's similar to ricotta but it's a little saltier and not as firm. I decided to use it in my pasta salad but you can definitely substitute ricotta if you want something more mild, feta if you want something with a bit more bite, or omit it all together.

Ingredients [makes a big bowl, serves 6 to 8 as a side dish]:
1/4 lb short cut pasta (1/4 a box, I used tri-color penne)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes or whatever tomato looks really red and ripe)
1 cup baby bell peppers
2 scallions
1/2 lemon (for the juice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup farmer's cheese
salt & pepper to taste

**You can use any other vegetables you like and might have on hand, e.g. celery, cucumbers, baby spinach, red onion, etc.
I like to just combine all of the ingredients in a huge bowl. I like to cut the tomatoes in half to expose the insides so they can soak up some seasoning - plus, it makes it easier to pick up with a fork. I cut the bell peppers into bite sized pieces, chop up the scallions, and then squeeze the lemon over all of the vegetables. Be wary of seeds though! Then I add in some salt and pepper and toss gently before giving it a taste. Then I add in the olive oil and toss again until the vegetables are all shiny and pretty. Then I add in the cooked pasta, toss, and then lastly add in the cheese.
The tri-color pasta makes the whole dish super colorful and I think the cheese adds a nice creamy texture.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Seafood Pancakes

I've done a few different Korean pancake recipes already but this one is probably the fanciest. It's FULL of ingredients and it's hearty enough to make a meal (at least for me).

Ingredients:
3/4 cup flour
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Korean long hot pepper (or jalapeno OR cubanelle if you don't like spice)
3 or 4 scallions, cut into 2" pieces
1/3 cup grated zucchini
1/3 cup grated potato
1/4 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup assorted seafood (I get this in the freezer section, nice mixture of calamari - both tubes and tentacles, baby shrimp, tiny scallops, and mussels)
+enough vegetable oil to fry the pancake

**You can eliminate any of the filling ingredients that you might not like - including the seafood - and add in things you might like more - maybe some cooked and shredded chicken.
To make the pancake, I like to assemble the batter and then add in the filling ingredients - the same way that you'd make regular pancake batter first and then add in things like blueberries and chocolate chips. So I started with the garlic, flour, egg, water, and salt and stir until the ingredients just come together. Then I added in the hot peppers, scallions, grated zucchini, grated potato, onions, and seafood.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Redneck Spaghetti

I got this recipe from my Floridian coworker. He invited a bunch of people over for "redneck spaghetti" one night and I tried asking what it was but he said not to worry. It turned out to be really yummy and I ended up asking for the recipe so I could make it myself.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1/2 lb. pasta
3 slices of bacon, roughly chopped
1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 jalapeno pepper (optional)
2 cans of Ro*tel tomatoes with green chiles
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Start by heating a saucepan with the olive oil and then add in the bacon. Over low heat, render the fat out of the bacon for a few minutes. **Meanwhile, boil a huge pot of water and get the pasta cooking (salt the boiling water before adding the pasta!).

Then add in the sausage.

Break it up with a wooden spoon.

Keep cooking until it gets some nice brown color.

Next, add in the garlic, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers.

Once the vegetables have started to cook through, add in both cans of Ro*tel tomatoes.

After it comes to a boil, add in the jalapenos for some extra spice. (Sorry for the blurryness of the photo - blame it on the steam!). Give the sauce a taste and add in salt and pepper if necessary.

Once the sauce is done, toss it with the pasta and cheese and serve. The sauce should be kind of spicy from the Ro*tel and jalapeno, the bacon adds a lot of smokiness and salt, and the sweetness of the sausage and onions makes for a really interesting dish for the palate. It's just a really different take on regular spaghetti and it's a great dish for everyone, including kids.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Albondigas in Chipotle Sauce

Albondigas are Spanish meatballs and I believe they're most commonly made in soups. The first time I ever had them was in a soup, actually. I think what most Mexican recipes call for is raw rice in the meat mixture which is then cooked in a stock over a long period of time until the rice cooks through, which is pretty interesting. However, I'm not a huge fan of that technique and I don't like how the meatballs can turn tough and dry. My Mexican coworker brought some albondigas in for lunch one day and his were prepared with some sort of tomato-y sauce over rice, which I think is a more common Spanish tapas-style recipe. I'm not quite sure what was in them and he wasn't even that positive because his wife had made them so I had to just do a little experimenting on my own.

Ingredients for the meatball mixture [yields about 24 meatballs]:
1-1/4 lb ground beef (I like a leaner mix, 90-10, but it's up to you)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs or 2 slices stale bread torn up or 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese

Ingredients for the chipotle sauce:
1/2 cup chopped onion
7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon dark bittersweet chocolate chips
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
5 or 6 roma tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
I started by preheating the oven to 350 degrees before combining all of the meatball ingredients. You can see in the photo below that I chopped my onion into rather large pieces. This is my preference. I like having big chunks of "stuff" in my meatballs (and my meatloaf). I feel like it makes it seem more rustic and homemade and delicious. I used my hands to smash everything together and stopped just when everything came together. Over-mixing the meatball mixture will give them an unpleasant texture: tough, chewy, and mealy.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Texas Toast


Texas toast is just a type of pre-sliced packaged bread. The quality that sets it apart from regular   Wonderbread is that it's sliced to be twice the thickness of average bread. I suppose it gets its name from either originating in Texas or being served a lot there. Anyway, when I think of Texas toast, I think of the stuff that's sold in the freezer section. The thick slices of bread that are bright yellow that you bake off in the oven.

Yes, the frozen kind is super easy but I'm positive that it's full of preservatives and that bright yellow is kind of unsettling because of how unnatural it is. Besides, it's so simple to make it yourself, so why not?

Ingredients:
loaf of good fluffy bread (I used a fat loaf of Italian, which I chose after inspecting almost every loaf in my supermarket's bakery section but obviously you can go to the pre-sliced bread section and grab a loaf of Texas toast)
2 or 3 tablespoons of butter
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
fresh parsley (optional)

Start by melting the butter with the smashed garlic. You could do this on the stove but 3 tablespoons of butter is such a small amount. I just used the microwave. Then, slice the bread (into nice thick pieces) and arrange on a sheet pan. And now's a good time to preheat the oven. I just set it to the highest temperature.
Next, brush each slice with the melted garlicky butter; or you could spoon it on. I like using a brush because I don't like to saturate the slices, just to be a bit more figure friendly.
Once they're brushed, sprinkle with parsley. I like to also put a few pieces of the smashed up garlic on the bread as well. Not sure if you can see them but they're there. Anyway, just stick them in the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes until the toast becomes golden and delicious.
And voila! (Voila means "there it is" in French, just FYI). Perfectly golden, preservative and artificial flavor-free Texas toast.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Salmon Packets

Cooking anything inside of a packet is easy, gives all the ingredients tons of flavor, and it's pretty foolproof. I made salmon packets a little while ago and though I don't care too much for salmon (I think it's the most boring fish) it came out wonderfully. For this process you can substitute in any type of protein and vegetables you prefer - it's just more about the method than anything. I'd suggest chicken, tilapia, or even tofu.

Ingredients [per packet]
1 salmon filet
1 slice of red onion
2 slices of lemon
3 or 4 asparagus, cut into 3" pieces
1/2 roma tomato, quartered
2 mushrooms, sliced
salt & pepper, to taste
+ parchment paper or aluminum foil

**other delicious vegetable ideas: bell peppers, sugar snap peas, broccolini, baby corn, baby carrots, etc.
I started by prepping the vegetables - cut everything into bite-sized portions - and I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Israeli Couscous

Israeli couscous or pearl couscous is a toasted pasta shaped like little balls (comparable to the size of rice grains). It's really delicious as a substitute for regular rice or rice pilaf, which is really appropriate because that's why it was invented in the first place - as a substitute during a time when rice was scarce.

My favorite way to prepare it is with plenty of vegetables and a sweet dressing.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 cup Israeli couscous
1-1/4 cup stock (I used chicken stock but vegetable stock would be great as well - especially for vegans/vegetarians; water can be used but water lacks flavor!)
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1 zucchini
2 big handfuls baby bell peppers (about 1 cup chopped)
1/4 red onion (about 1/2 cup chopped)
1/4 cup golden raisins (optional)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
olive oil

**other vegetables that would be great in this: broccoli, asparagus, yellow squash, mushrooms, sugar snap peas, sundried tomatoes, green beans, corn - just look around the market and see what's in season.
I also like to add in a handful of golden raisins because the sweetness is nice and a big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for some spicy contrast.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Coconut Shrimp

Coconut shrimp is great as either an appetizer or as the protein for a meal. It's easy to make but looks impressive and it's rather inexpensive to make if you use frozen shrimp (which isn't a crime).

Ingredients [serves 4 for a meal, serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer]:
1 lb shrimp
1 egg
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons water
salt
flour
panko breadcrumbs
coconut flakes (sweetened)

**Like I said in yesterday's post, it's difficult to quantify the ingredients for breading. Just start with a bit of each element and if you need more along the way, use some more. I don't like to end up having to throw away a bunch of flour and breadcrumbs so I do start with a conservative amount of each ingredient.
Start by rinsing and cleaning the shrimp. I used frozen shrimp, which I defrosted in a bowl of water for about 15 minutes. The shrimp were all deveined but I like to make sure that it's really good and clean. Then, butterfly each shrimp. Just slice the shrimp down its back using a sharp knife but be careful not to just slice the whole thing in half. Like with the pounding of the donkatsu, the butterflying helps the shrimp cook faster without burning the breading. This is really important because the coconut can burn really fast.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Donkatsu

Donkatsu (or Tonkatsu) is a Japanese dish: breaded and fried pork cutlet.

Here are the ingredients:
boneless pork chops
flour
egg
salt & pepper
panko breadcrumbs
oil for frying

**I haven't listed any quantities because it's kind of silly to try and quantify how much you'll need to bread the chops. You'll need 1 pork chop per person and then enough breading ingredients to coat them. Start with a modest amount of each and then use more if necessary.

***You could also use chicken instead of pork or even salmon. I've also seen beef katsu but I'm not a fan of breaded beef and a surefire way to ruin a steak (in my opinion, obviously) would be to pound it out, bread it, and cook it past medium rare. Chicken-fried steak, anyone?

I started by pounding out the chops. I would do the same with the chicken but do NOT pound out the salmon. Pounding the chops serves two purposes: to tenderize the meat and to lessen the cooking time. Since these are being breaded in panko - a pretty delicate, pale, crispy crumb - you don't want to have to leave the chops in the pan for so long that the breadcrumbs burn.
Next, I beat up an egg with some salt and pepper. Then I coated the chops in flour, dipped them in egg, and then lastly coated them with panko breadcrumbs. Then, I fried them in a large frying pan with just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. I don't like deep frying because it's messy and I don't enjoy the clean up so I just pan fry my donkatsu. The chops will take about 4 minutes on the first side and then another 2 minutes on the second side. The panko should be nice and crispy and golden when it's finished.
To go with the donkatsu, I always make a sauce. I believe the typical sauce is a Japanese Worcestershire but I don't have easy access to it so I sort of make my own. I just combine equal parts of a honey barbecue sauce (any version that is sweet but not smoky is best) and A1 steak sauce. The A1 has Worcestershire in it, which gives the sauce a bite but the barbecue sauce definitely mellows it out, gives it some body, and adds lots of sweetness and spices.
I served the pork katsu with rice and a salad.

I like making my own homemade sesame ginger dressing. It's really easy and tastes really delicious and fresh. In a food processor, I combine 3 or 4 baby carrots, a few small bits of ginger (about 1 teaspoon), a few slices of apple (about 2 tablespoons), 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar, and a drizzle of honey. Pulse until the mixture resembles baby food. Serve over baby greens, iceberg lettuce, what have you.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rolo Pretzels

Rolo pretzels are a super easy dessert. If you haven't had them or heard of them, their name describes exactly what they are. They're rolo candies with pretzels. I think they're so delicious and I love the combination of salt and sweet as well as the combination of the chewy and crunchy textures. They look kind of fancy and have that homemade touch but take no time to make and require just a few ingredients. Plus, they can be made in under 10 minutes. They're great as a snack for a sporting event, to take on a car ride, or to bring to a potluck-style meal.

Ingredients:
bag of pretzels - something bite-sized like mini twists; I used "snaps" which are checkerboard squares
2 or 3 bags of rolo candies, depends on how many you want to make - and if you don't know, rolos are chocolate covered caramels made by Nestle
optional: pecans, walnuts, almonds

I started by peeling the foil off of a bunch of the rolo candies and preheating the oven to 250 degrees.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beef Diagram

A lesson in cuts of beef:
drawn using ArtStudio for my iPad
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