Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Little Turkey Burgers that Could...

I have a go-to recipe for turkey burgers that involves feta and spinach.  They were the highlight of many GARTYQUES (garden + party + barbeque = GARTYQUE) in Alaska's midnight sun this past summer.  The feta and spinach turkey burgers were oftentimes classier than the attendees of the gartyque and certainly in a different tax bracket than the drinks that were consumed.  Someday, when I "grow up" and reflect fondly on the days of my youth, the spinach and feta turkey burgers are going to play a prominent role.

Urban Gartyque Site

But they are for summer.  They are to be grilled.  They are for the gartyque.  Only 10 more weeks of winter in normal parts of the world--we are destined for 10 more months with our record-breaking snow.  When (more accurately, if) the snow ever melts, there is a sure guarantee that the spinach and feta turkey burgers will make a grand entrance in the garden and then many more repeated appearances.

However, because the snow is more than three feet taller than me, I needed to find an indoor alternative to the turkey burger.  Insert: The Little Turkey Burgers that Could.  Soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions, cilantro, parsley, egg, pepper, turkey.  That's it.  They are delicious.  They absolutely give the spinach and feta turkey burgers a run for their money.  We have made them as meatballs, sliders, and burgers.  We have served them with each of the following and they are all incredible: ginger glaze, a sweet chili sauce, ketchup, on a bed of avocado, on top of the bbq sauce beer bread, and plain.  You need to make these.  They will make your winter (and your life) better.  Heck, they are even healthy!


The Little Turkey Burgers that Could.....
Inspired by my favorite food blog
  • 1 1/4 pound ground turkey
  • 2-3 large scallions
  • a little more than half bunch cilantro, finely chopped (I generally use less cilantro than most, but the more the better in this case)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2ish tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2ish tablespoons soy sauce (probably more)
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Throw everything in the bowl.
  2. Mix it up with your fingers.  (It is gross, yes.)
  3. Mold into desired size.
  4. Throw into a skillet heated to medium-high with olive oil.
  5. Cook until liquid runs clear and when the turkey isn't pink when you stab it.
  6. Serve with whatever you want.
  7. Try not to eat 11 million of them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Best Dip Ever

I don't like olives, I don't like dill, I don't like raw scallions, and I don't really like sundried tomatoes.  However, when combined together with feta and marinated artichokes in the form of a dip, the flavor combination is to die for.  The perfect combination of olive-y brininess, salty feta, smooth olive oil, and subtle yet forward spices.  So delicious.  It is my go-to dip to take places to impress.

It may even make an appearance at a very special wedding this summer.  That's how good it is.

The Best Dip Ever:
Inspired by my favorite blog

This "recipe" is really a guide.  Do what you want.  It will be good.  Trust me.

  • 8 oz. reduced fat feta cheese
  • 2/3 cup sundried tomatoes in oil  (I get them from the olive bar at Fred's)
  • 2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives  (also from the olive bar at Fast Freddy's)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped into smitherines 
  • 3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley  (I have made this dip with and without parsley and I honestly can't tell the difference)
  • 3 scallions
  • 3/4 - 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • pepper to taste
  1. Throw all ingredients in a bowl and mix.  
  2. Add for taste.
  3. Serve with pita chips or rosemary lavash.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cookie. Dough. Brownies.

My intestines and my metabolism do not always cooperate with my appetite.  This weekend was one of those occasions.  Milk, cheese, sugar, fried food, red wine, beer, gluten--all things that upset my insides (and my waist line) and all were consumed this weekend.  Not in one sitting, but pretty close to it.  Not to make excuses, but there were great reasons to celebrate--birthdays, engagements, good friends, wonderful family. 

The highlight of the gluttony were these little slices of heaven in the form of cookie dough brownies.  Yes, cookie dough brownies.  I used my tried and true favorite brownie recipe and topped them with egg-free dough.  The result?  Perfection.


Cookie Dough Brownies:
Inspired by this cookie dough and these brownies.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar  (you can use a little less if you want)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder  (my favorite combination is 1/3 cup special dark unsweetened cocoa and 1/3 cup regular unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour (Pam for Baking works best) a 9 x 13 pan.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from heat, and put butter, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.  Cool for a short time.  Then beat in the eggs.  
  3. Slowly beat in the cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  4. Try not to eat the batter.
  5. Spread into pan and cook for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Let cool.
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature 
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed 
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons milk 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. In a mixing bowl beat to combine butter, brown sugar and white sugar. 
  2. Mix in milk and vanilla.  Mix in flour just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  
  3. Resist the temptation to sit on the couch with a sappy movie and the whole bowl.
THE GRAND FINALE:
  1. Spread cookie dough over the cooled brownies. 
  2. Refrigerate until the dough is quite firm.
  3. Share with everyone you know.  They will love them.

Friday, February 24, 2012

BBQ Sauce Beer Bread

Easy and delicious.  Hearty but light.  Tart and tangy while sweet and salty.  Thick and chewy but crusty and fluffy.  This describes the BBQ Sauce Beer Bread I created to be the vessel for BBQ Pulled Chicken.  The glory of this bread is its versatility, which as you know is a favorite characteristic of mine.  You can be classy and use fancy beer or be (less than) classy and get rid of the Bud Light that is hiding in the back of your fridge.  You can add different spices to accompany whatever dish you want or add different sauces or marinades.  It is great no matter how you slice it (pun intended).


BBQ Sauce Beer Bread:
  • 3 cups of flour (I have used all-purpose, wheat, and a combination of both)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 12 oz of the beer of your choice
  • 2ish tablespoons of BBQ sauce (or whatever else you want)
  • whatever spices you want for flavor
(Note:  You can use 3 cups of bread flour instead of using the flour, baking powder, and salt combination.  I just never have bread flour around.)
  1. Dump all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix.
  3. Open another beer to accompany the beer you poured into the bread.
  4. Spoon into a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch bread pan.
  5. Bake at 375° for 55 to 60minutes or until a fondue skewer (or toothpick) inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  6. Eat!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Re-Doing Before Re-Imagining

Re-imagining baked goods is my favorite thing to do in the kitchen.  Oftentimes, however, I have to make the original recipe first in order to decide what to re-imagine later.  That is precisely what happened with this bit of moist and delectable deliciousness.

I made this chocolate orange bundt cake for a breakfast at work a few days ago.  I was intrigued by the contrast of bold flavors that is versatile enough for both the early mornings and the late nights.  The orange was incredible on many different levels.  I was excited about the orange flavor, but also about the potential for other flavor combinations--almond, peppermint, pumpkin, black and white.  Yum.




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wedding Cakes for my Favorite People

My very best friend in the entire universe asked me to make her wedding cake last summer, which was an incredible honor for me.  My brother asked me to make his wedding cake today, which is an incredible honor as well.  Two cakes for two of the people I love the most.

I made a delightfully succulent cake for the wedding last fall and have plenty of time to think about what to make for this summer's event.  Sorry, I am not sharing either recipe...except for with the happy couples.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Cinnamon Allspice DoughMuffins--with Glaze?!

I don't like doughnuts.  I really don't like muffins.  Since A + B (generally) = C, it is not a far cry to imagine that I would hate DoughMuffins.  There is (generally) an exception to the rule, and these little bites of goodness are exactly that.  I didn't hate the little bits of perfectly spiced glazed goodness, but rather loved them.  They taste exactly like a chai tea latte--but better.  They have the perfect amount of cinnamon, the perfect amount of spice, and the perfect amount of glaze.  I imagine they would be great for dunking in a frothy cappuccino or a double tall nonfat two equal no foam no onions latte (that's my dad's drink), but I couldn't wait that long.

If you want to impress your coworkers with an early morning treat in the office, or surprise your dinner guests with the perfect pairing to their after dinner coffee, these little DoughMuffins are for you.




Cinnamon Allspice DoughMuffinsInspired by this recipe
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil  (next time I will use apple sauce instead of the oil)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 (generous) teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
 
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • a dash of pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line a smaller-than-standard (but not necessarily mini) muffin tin with papers.
  2. Cream together the butter, vegetable oil (or apple sauce), and both sugars until smooth.
  3. Add eggs and beat to combine.
  4. Mix in baking powder, baking soda, all of the spices including the salt and pepper, and the vanilla.  Mix until smooth.
  5. Add the flour into the mixture alternately with the butter.  I did one cup of flour, mixed, then one cup of milk, etc., beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix until thoroughly combined, but make sure to not over-mix.
  6. Use a tablespoon or some other implement to scoop the batter into the lined wells.  Fill 3/4 of the way full.
  7. Bake DoughMuffins for 10-12 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
     
  1. Whisk together the melted butter, powdered sugar, all of the spices spices, vanilla and milk.
  2. Whisk until smooth.
  3. With the DoughMuffins still warm, dip their tops into the glaze and spread with a knife if needed.
  4. Double or triple dip if you like.
  5. Try to resist eating them all yourself.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Celery Root Puree Perfection

For the "holiday" earlier in the week, we went to a restaurant at the top of Anchorage's timelessly classic hotel.  Most adults are well behaved in general, and particularly so when dressed up at a nice restaurant.  The two of us, however, made feeding fish faces across the table and tried to stick our tongues out in one direction while our eyes looked the other (much harder than you would guess).  Precious, I know.

Despite our fancy clothes and (im)mature behavior, our dinner was incredible.  The highlight for me was the celery root puree that served as the foundation for my proteins.  Perfectly light yet deliciously creamy; crunchy peas and tender leeks incorporated into the obliterated celery root.  We paired our puree with kung pao salmon and spicy stir fried bok choy and brocollini (to be discussed in later posts).  The highlight was the celery root puree.  It was tasty--so tasty that I had to make it myself.

Cooking

Puree-ing

Perfecting

 Celery Root Puree:

  • 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 bulb celery root, peeled and cubed
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 cups fat free milk
  • 2ish tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups peas (we used frozen peas and thawed them)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet.  Add the leeks and garlic and cook on medium until the leeks are translucent and tender.
  2. Add the celery root and cook for 4-5 minutes, making sure the celery root does not burn or brown.
  3. Add 3 cups of milk and simmer until the celery root is tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. In another saucepan, bring the remaining three cups of milk to a simmer.  Reduce the milk by half, stirring frequently to ensure it does not scorch.  Add flour and whisk into the milk.
  5. Transfer both mixtures to a blender and obliterate until the consistency of your liking.  Return the puree to the skillet and keep warm on low.
  6. Add the peas and salt and pepper to taste.  (Next time we are going to add cayenne.)
  7. Smother whatever you want in the puree.  You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cheez-its for Adults (and Kids at Heart!)

When reminiscing about my childhood, Cheez-its (sadly?) have a prominent role.  Playing endless hours of Tripoley on the deck, endless hours of homework, and late night hours of fun all included the cheesy treat.  I whole-heartedly believe that cheese makes everything in life better.  Additionally, I love fine cheese as much as the powdered stuff; every cheese has its place.  Fine wine and a black dress = a delicate but sharp white cheese.  The morning after a night on the town = mac and cheese from a box (to be eaten straight out of the pan).  Don't even think about judging--you know you love the stuff too.

Clearly, thinking about cheese makes me get off topic.  Cheez-its for Adults graced our bellies tonight.  Imagine the delightfully over-processed deliciously over-greasy treat from the red box and get rid of the processed part and the greasy part and you have this cracker.  Cheesy, crunchy, light, peppery.  This little cracker has a bigger bite than its mouth.

Easy to make, very easy to eat, and extra easy to pawn off to others.  Enjoy!

Before
After
 Cheez-its for Adults:
  • 6-7 ounces of the cheddar of your choice (we used sharp)
  • 1-2 ounces of the milder white cheese of your choice (we used romano because that what was in the fridge, but parmesan, asiago, or even gouda would be good)
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cups flour, plus some more for rolling your dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • between 1 1/2 and 2 tablespoons of black pepper
  • a little more than 1 tablespoon of fat free milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grate your cheese (and try not to nibble your piles away).
  3. Put the cheese, flour, butter chunks, salt, and pepper in a food processor.
  4. Pulse until little crumbs form.
  5. Pour in the milk and process until a dough forms.  (You may have to add a touch more milk.)
  6. Refrigerate until a bit chilled.
  7. Dust your surface with flour, then roll out your dough to your desired Cheez-it width--about 1/16 of an inch--with a floured rolling pin (or wine bottle).
  8. Cut the dough into one inch-ish squares.
  9. Place the squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment and poke a hole in the middle.  (We used the end of an electric mixer beater.)
  10. Cook for 15-17 minutes until the edges just start to brown.
  11. Enjoy a few while they are soft, then let the rest cool until they turn into crackers.
  12. Remember your childhood.  :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Raspberry Pie for my Sweet Valentine

I love dirt.  I love sweat.  Often I forgo a shower because of time constraints.  I love sports--the more you suffer, the better.

I am also a hopeless romantic.  I love flowers.  I love cheesy one-liners.  I love a chilled bottle of wine paired with cheese.  More importantly, I love inwardly/outwardly/upsidedownwardly/insideoutwardly showing my deep appreciation for those I care about--not because I want something in reciprocation, but because I truly care.

With that in mind, my Valentine is incredible--every day, not just on February 14th.  Therefore raspberries were in order.  Last night, we had champagne with floating raspberries before an incredible dinner out.  Tonight, because I am in class (currently), we are blessed with leftovers, but there is a surprise for after: raspberry pie with booze-infused raspberry whipped cream paired with chocolate wine.  (I may have to excuse myself from class to go wipe my drool.) 

The best part of the pie recipe is its versatility.  It was originally a strawberry pie (my favorite), but I have made many variations: strawberry/blueberry with a hint of lime, strawberry/blackberry, and multi-berry overload with whatever I can find.  Tonight is the first time with just raspberries and I can't wait.  It is hidden in the refrigerator and I hope there is some left when I make it home.

Happy Valentine's Day, to EVERYONE that I love.




Raspberry Pie:
  • 5 really healthy cups of raspberries (I used closer to 6)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • a very healthy 1/3 cup of corn starch (I definitely used more)
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jello mix
  • a dash of lemon juice
  • 1 prepared pie crust
  1. Prepare your pie crust according to the directions for baking a single crust.  I love Pillsbury and have absolutely no desire to deviate or make another (failed) attempt at homemade pie crust.  Let it cool slightly.
  2. Make sure your raspberries are clean and very, very dry.  Put them in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring regularly (with your right hand) to avoid scorching.
  4.  (With your left hand) mix the cornstarch with enough cool water to make it all liquid.
  5. Mix the cornstarch mixture with the boiling water and sugar and whisk together until it hardens and turns opaque (about 30 seconds).
  6. Mix in the jello mix.
  7. Pour the whole mixture over the raspberries, include the dash of lemon juice, and delicately fold to combine.
  8. Dump the whole show into the prepared pie crust and refrigerate.
  9. Admire its gorgeousness.
  10. Enjoy.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mexican Fiesta

My obsession with cheese runs deep.  Therefore, any time I can find an excuse to eat Mexican food, I take it.  Interesting spices, intriguing flavors, comforting cheese--it's like winning the food lottery every time. 

Tonight we made a creamy (and healthy!!...an oxymoron, I know) dip to precede a shredded chicken, bean, and tortilla pie.  Who would have imagined that plain Greek yogurt mixed with some refried beans and a whole host of spices would be delicious?  If you are questioning this flavor profile, you have to make it.  As for the ingredients for the pie--shredded chicken, beer, corn, beans, onions, spices, and cilantro, not to mention the cheesy blanket on top--its potential for deliciousness was a no brainer.

The perfect comfort food on a cold night after a long day of skiing?  Absolutely.  Insert your beverage of choice, a cute dog (who rivals the cute boyfriend in shagginess), a comfy couch, and no morning alarm clock and you have the perfect recipe for a wonderful night.




















The Dip:
  • 1 cup or so fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup or so refried beans
  • 1/2 cup or so of your favorite salsa (we didn't have any salsa that was actually edible, e.g., expiration date of early last month, so we used about 1/3 cup of green taco sauce and a number of glugs of Tapatio)
  • to taste: cumin, cayenne, chili powder, onion powder
  • cilantro
  1. Throw it all in a bowl, mix together, and tweak to your liking.  
  2. Yes, it is that simple.
Mexican Chicken and Black Bean Pie:
Inspired by Martha Stewart's Tortilla Pie 

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas (10 inches)
  • 2 cans of black beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • a substantial amount of Mexican blend cheese or cheddar cheese
  • a dollop of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 beer (we used a Corona)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • to taste:  cumin, cayenne, and chili powder
  • cilantro to taste
  • a twist of lime
  1. Use the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan to cut the tortillas to fit.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Cook and shred chicken.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno, garlic, and other seasonings.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
  6. Add beans and beer, and bring to a boil. 
  7. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes. 
  8. Stir in shredded chicken, corn, scallions, lime, and cilantro and turn heat to low.
  9. Taste and adjust for seasoning.  (In my world, this means add a whole bunch more spice.)
  10. Fit a trimmed tortilla in bottom of the springform pan.
  11. Layer with the bean and chicken mixture to your liking, then sprinkle on cheese.  
  12. Repeat three times, and cover with as much cheese as your cholesterol and calorie intake can bare. 
  13. Cover and bake for 10-12 minutes or so.  Then uncover and bake until cheese melts, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove side of pan. 
  14. To serve, slice into wedges.  Sprinkle pie with cilantro and sour cream

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Creative with Curry

The best thing about curry is its versatility.  It goes without saying that curry is the perfect dish to re-imagine....over and over and over again.  Because it is different every time, I love it even more.  I love that I can basically empty the vegetable drawer and come up with something incredible.  Also, one day it is so spicy it makes me sweat, other times it just makes my nose run.  Clearly it is not a dish to cook on a first date--"Excuse me while I use the same napkin to wipe my beady forehead and blow my leaking nose."  Aside from these minor technicalities, it is perfect.









Tonight's Curry:
  • chicken breastschopped into cubes
  • carrots chopped matchstick style (I think the technical term is "julienne")
  • celery stalks chopped
  • red and yellow pepper sliced lengthwise
  • jalapeno pepper, matchstick style
  • a healthy handful of snow peas
  • a few cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • bamboo shoots
  • coconut milk
  • red curry paste
  • enough cooked rice to feed your crew
  1. After sauteeing the chopped chicken, throw all of the veggies (except for the peas) in too.  Cook until tender.
  2. Make a well and pour in the coconut milk.
  3. Plop in your red curry paste.
  4. Slowly incorporate.
  5. Add the peas.
  6. Serve on top of rice.
  7. Wipe sweat and blow nose if necessary. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Going Bananas

Banana bread is incredible.  Banana bread is also awful.  The number of times I have loved it and hated it is equal.  For this reason alone, I only eat my own.  That is only because I have re-imagined a number of banana bread recipes into the single one that I truly love.  A little from here + A little from there = Incredible banana bread.

The foundation of my re-imagination lies in the bananas.  How can you do something different to bananas, you ask?  Well, you procrastinate.  I never feel the desire to bake banana bread until 12 hours or less than when I need it.  I have never once thought "I am going to make banana bread on Thursday for Friday's _________ so I should buy some bananas a week ahead."  Instead, at about 8:30 the night before I need said treat, I think "You know, banana bread would be great."  Therefore, I am left with a late night trip to the store hoping for black bananas, which (not) surprisingly they never have.  As a result, I have to ripen my bananas on my own, which is what makes my banana bread unique.  The banana favor is authentic--not to sweet (or so ripe they are strange!), and not like paste (e.g., the effect that peanut butter has when stuck to the roof of your mouth).  Because of fidelity to their own fruit's natural taste, my bananas make for a great banana bread.




Throw all of your bananas on a baking sheet lined with foil and place them in the oven at 300 degrees until they are black, soft, and leaking a bit from the ends. 

I made chocolate banana bread with chocolate chips (tonight it was gluten free) and regular old banana bread.  Both are incredible in their own right.

Banana Bread (mostly inspired by the Banana Banana Bread post on allrecipes.com)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 5, 6, or 7 (or really however many you want!) oven-ripened bananas
  • a dash of vanilla
  1. Ripen your bananas in a 300 degree oven.  When cooled, mash them to the consistency of your liking.  (People are as picky about the consistency of their bananas as they are about mashed potatoes.)
  2. Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients then stir just to moisten.  Pour batter into a lightly Pammed loaf pan (or 2) of your choice.
  3. Bake for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.
  4. Try to resist eating until the next morning when the flavors have completely developed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Imagining about Re-Imagining

Participating in my administrative internship, attending grad school, doing my actual job, and attempting to have a life takes more hours in the day than what are actually available.  With that said, I cherish the short amount of time each day (well, most days) when I get to take time for myself.  My workout time is sacred.  Going for a long run, making North Face laps on my skis, or setting out for an adventure around town on my bike are the best antidotes for my sanity.  As soon as my workout is over (and oftentimes in the middle!), I start to think about re-imagining something delicious. 

No time for a workout today with my internship all day and class all night.  Because the day has been so busy, there hasn't been any time to eat (hungry Sarah = grumpy Sarah).  The very few moments I was able to steal for myself resolved around food.  Additionally, because I started this lovely blog yesterday, I have also been reflecting about all of the amazing food that has graced my plate (and my palate).  Insert:  Sandwich Obsession. 

I love sandwiches.  I dream about them.  I obsess over them.  If I were stranded on a deserted island with only one food option indefinitely, sandwiches would happily be my choice.  My favorite "local" sandwich shop is 40 miles away and I would happily drive to and from every day to eat one.  The first stop when I get off the airplane is to the nearest Whole Foods to build my own.  I adore them.

Turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, artichokes, roasted red peppers, pepper Jack cheese, horseradish, stone ground mustard, and sprouts--all smashed between two pieces of whole wheat bread.  Perfection.



Monday, February 6, 2012

Re-Imagining Chicken Noodle Soup?

When I think of chicken noodle soup, the red and white canned variety is what first comes to mind; it conjures comforting memories of "I ate this when I was home sick and only my mother's love could make this taste so good".  Speaking of my mother, her homemade chicken soup is incredible--thick, perfectly seasoned, guaranteed to provide warmth all the way to the core, and the best medicine for making everything right in the world.

Recreating her soup-de-perfection was my vision for tonight's dinner.  In fact, I started thinking (and salivating) about it early this morning.  Chicken, broth, celery, onions, carrots, noodles, a touch of corn starch with water, and a hint of Italian seasoning are the only ingredients necessary, which I always have on hand.  When I started cooking though, of course I started re-imagining.  What started as traditional chicken noodle soup ended up as this:





Not what you were expecting, I am sure.  Chicken and rice stew with tomatoes, artichokes, carrots, celery, onions, sage, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and some cracked pepper.  Thankfully, it was equally as soul-satisfying as chicken noodle soup--hot, chunky and thick, perfectly seasoned, and the best medicine for a Monday night.

"Recipe" (a term used very loosely in this instance)

  • a few cans of low sodium chicken broth (three I think)
  • about 2 cups of cooked rice (ours was leftover from last night's salmon tagine awesomeness)
  • 2/3 of a large onion diced (I would have used the whole onion, but we must have used it for some other creation recently)
  • 3 celery stalks diced
  • 4 or 5 good sized carrots diced (ours came from the Full Circle Farms box and varied from tiny to extra large)
  • two chicken breasts cut into small pieces
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (because Alaskan tomatoes are absolutely disgusting, I always use diced tomatoes from a can with no salt added)
  • 1 cup-ish of sliced marinated artichoke hearts (I used what was left in our jar from Costco)
  • red pepper flakes to taste (I gave it a couple of good shakes)
  • sage to taste (probably a tablespoon or two)
  • Italian seasoning to taste (probably two tablespoons)
  1. Saute the onions, carrots, and celery until tender.  
  2. Add the tomatoes, artichokes, and broth.
  3. In the meantime, poach, grill, or do whatever you want to do to cook the chicken and then dice it.
  4. Add the chicken and the rice.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Enjoy!

Welcome to the Re-Imagination Station

After years and years of reusing, repurposing, and reinventing others' recipes, ingredient selections, and great foodie ideas, I decided it was time to put my genius re-imaginations into one place.  Alas, I have joined the blogging world.

Many have suggested along the way that I document (and share!) all of the fun things I do in the kitchen, but my reaction has always been the same: I am not a chef, I just re-imagine what others--of much greater culinary prowess than yours truly--create but on a much simpler scale.  However, as a teacher, I always look for ways to marry effectiveness, efficiency, and urgency, which oftentimes means using what others before have created, analyzing to determine what needs targeted tailoring, and adjusting to meet the specific needs of my students.  This is precisely what I do in the kitchen--although the analysis and adjustment process usually depends on what is in the fridge, the status of my food addiction budget, and how late it is. 

With this in mind, I hope you enjoy my collection of re-imagined recipes.  Many are not glamorous, but all are delicious.  Cheers!

My perfect chocolate souffle cupcakes with mint cream crushed by 36 rolls of toilet paper.