Friday, October 25, 2013

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Corin's knock knock joke

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Stairs who?"
"Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cheese party

We've been letting Alistair know this that week that his birthday was almost here, and it appears he was listening when we were scoping out Chuck E. Cheese a few weeks ago for a potential party.

Whenever we ask "Are you going to be two years old?" he answers in quick succession:

"Cheese! Party. Games. Tickets! Token!"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Life according to a 5-year-old:

"Which is more important:
going to bed on time and getting enough sleep,
or singing a tune?"

(He's not wrong.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Barbecue pineapple wrap

Fresh pineapple is the key to this quick and delicious meal. Occasionally a whole pineapple is too much to eat entirely in spears, so I use the rest of it barely-cooked with barbecue sauce.

Ingredients (serves 3):
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup bacon bits
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 tbsp honey
3 Greek pita flats

1) Cook the brown rice (instant or regular) according to the instructions on the package. Add pineapple, bacon bits, barbecue sauce, and honey.

2) Mix the ingredients and cook on medium heat until pineapple is warm but not yet soft.

3) Microwave the pitas for 20-25 seconds until soft and pliable, then spoon the pineapple mixture inside and fold like a soft taco. Enjoy!

Alternate version:

Spoon mixture into a cabbage leaf for a lighter version!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Crushed peas with toasted parmesan

I was scrounging through the freezer recently, looking at food to use up, when I realized it had been a long time since I had eaten peas. Which is weird, because I really like peas. So I decided I needed to create a new recipe that would highlight peas.

The most awkward part about peas is that, properly cooked, peas roll around on the plate and avoid the tines of a fork like nobody's business. So, inspired by my introduction to mashed beans, I thought mashing the peas would be a great way to solve this. So far, so good.

It proved to be a little difficult to figure out what food to match texturally with the mashed peas, and it took a while before I realized I needed crunch with it, and went with a rich flavor in toasted parmesan cheese.

I took it from a side dish to main course by adding a light meat. My first choice was chicken strips sauteed in white wine (and I recommend it if you have those handy), but since what I usually have in the freezer is turkey burgers, I will eat it more often with that — making it an exciting meal I can whip up even when I don't have anything fresh left in the fridge.

Ingredients (serves 2):
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

3 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp jarred Bearnaise sauce (or Garlic-Herb Lemonaise)
sprinkle of salt

2 turkey burger patties (or 8 oz chicken-breast strips)
2 tbsp white wine
sprinkle of salt

1) Knead butter into parmesan cheese until it is thoroughly incorporated, then crumble into pan over medium heat.

2) Keep stirring and breaking apart the pieces until you have crispy crumbs. Set aside and let cool.

3) Boil peas, in enough water to cover, for 5 minutes, then drain.

4) At the same time, start cooking the frozen turkey burgers (or chicken) in white wine and a sprinkling of salt over medium-high heat, cutting them into strips as they soften.

5) Separate peas onto two plates, then crush with a fork. Mix in the Bearnaise sauce and a sprinkle of salt.

6) To be fancy, then form the crushed peas into a square. Add the toasted parmesan, then the turkey strips, and serve warm.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ultimate mac and cheese

If you've ever tried making mac and cheese without those Kraft powder packets, you might have noticed that only adding cheese to your pasta usually results in cheesy clumps and oily pasta. The trick to getting more of a creamy sauce is to add whole milk and sour cream to the mixture.

For this recipe I thought of as many ingredients that I could that were interesting texturally but more recessive flavor-wise to make an "ultimate" version that tastes fully mac-and-cheese-y but isn't uniform bite after bite after bite.

Ingredients (serves 4):

2 cups dried pasta (your choice)
1 cup cauliflower, chopped

1/8 cup whole milk
1/8 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup Irish cheddar

2/3 cup garbanzo beans
1/4 cup white bottoms of green onion (or diced sweet onion)
1 cup whole-grain bread crusts (or croutons)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1) In a Dutch-oven-sized pot, boil the dried pasta according to the directions on the box. With 2 minutes left until "al dente," add the cauliflower to the water and pasta. Finish cooking.

2) Drain the pasta and cauliflower, return to pot, and stir in milk and sour cream. Stir in both types of cheese and continue mixing over low heat until a creamy sauce has resulted.

3) Add the onion, garbanzo beans, bread crusts, and black pepper, and still until fully incorporated. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes over low heat to give the onion and crusts a little chance to soften, but still have some bite.

(We end up with a lot of bread crusts from hard-shell homemade loaves around here, as Corin doesn't like them. Go with croutons as a substitute and not a soft-loaf crust, as that would turn to mush.)

4) Serve right away for best texture, and enjoy this grown-up version of the classic cheesy indulgence.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Currywurst hoagies (with ten-minute sauerkraut)

Amanda's time in Berlin as a teenager brought a love of German food, especially currywurst (which is essentially a chopped bratwurst smothered in curry ketchup, often with a small roll to soak up the extra sauce). I often make it for us at home with whatever sausage I have on hand and some imported German curry ketchup.

But since that's not much of a "recipe," per se, I did a mashup of German currywurst and American hotdog to create these hoagies, adding fresh pink sauerkraut right on top of the currywurst and transforming the roll into a bun. I really like the combo of flavors in this.

for the sauerkraut:
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup sweet onion

1 cup water
1 1/2 cups red cabbage
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp dijon mustard

for the curry ketchup:
1 cup ketchup
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp molasses
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

for the hoagies:
4 hoagie rolls
4 sausages of your choice

1) Chop cabbage and onion into strips no longer than three inches.

2) Add olive oil and onion to a small saucepan, and simmer on medium heat until slightly translucent.

3) Turn the heat to high, add the cabbage and the rest of the sauerkraut ingredients, cover and boil for ten minutes, stirring two or three times to make sure it stays well mixed.

4) Drain the sauerkraut and set aside to cool slightly.

5) While the sauerkraut is cooking, you can mix together all of your curry ketchup ingredients over medium heat, stirring occasionally until completely smooth, then remove from heat to cool.

6) Split your sausages nearly in half lengthwise, and cook on both sides over medium-high heat, adding some of the curry ketchup to both sides as you turn them.

7) Toast the hoagie rolls and add more curry ketchup to top and bottom of bun.

8) Add your currywurst, top with sauerkraut, and enjoy immediately.

Bonus option:
For a mashup of currywurst and franks 'n' beans, use your leftover curry ketchup and sauerkraut to create this plate, adding beans to your currywurst and a dollop of sour cream on the side:

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sambosa-style leftover pockets

You might have noticed my obsession with finding new ways to use crunchy spring roll wrappers, from "nests" to tubes to stacking layers. I have not yet posted how this obsession began, which was trying to figure out how to use up a package of spring roll sheets after I bought them and then realized I have no talent at deep-frying things. (I either get the temperature too low and oil-sog whatever it is, or I get it too high and splatter myself and the kitchen.)

The only way I could figure to make the spring rolls crispy was to give it a lot of flat surface area, then fry on each side with a little oil. It ended up being much more akin to a Mediterranean sambosa, except square instead of triangular. To use up the rest of the package, I ended up just making fillings from whatever scraps I had in the fridge — mushrooms and cheese, mashed meatballs, rice and beans. It worked with a wide varieties of cuisines, which isn't that surprising given that Africa, Western Asia, India, and South America all have variations on the samosa / samoosa / samuza / sambusa. Now I keep some shells around in the freezer for the purpose of energizing leftovers with a little bit of a twist.

2 spring roll sheets per pocket (my favorite is O'Tasty)

1) Peel off one shell from the package. These can dry out rather quickly so I like to peel off just one at a time as I'm using them.

2) Fill the center with leftovers. (I never measure, but probably 3/4 cup would be about right.)

3) Fold two opposite corners on top of each other.

4) Fold the other two corners on top of them.

5) Peel off another shell, and place the first pocket corners-down in the center. (The thin side is probably damp at this point, which is why you need two layers.)

6) Fold two opposite corners on top of each other.

7) Apply a small dab of butter to the two remaining corners, and fold them into the center. (You'll need to butter to get them to stick, since hopefully you've kept the moisture off of the outer layer.)

8) Heat a teaspoon or two of oil in a non-stick skillet until piping hot, then add the pocket.

9) Cook each side until lightly browned, and both sides are crunchy and breakable. You don't need for one side to finish before starting the next; you can keep flipping it so that you don't run the risk of scorching either side.

10) Let cool until you can pick it up easily with your fingers, then serve. (Repeat process for as much leftovers as you need to use up; usually two of these fills up one person.)

Bonus leftover stir-fry pics:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Not-too-sticky Cracker Jack

We stopped up microwaving popcorn several years ago when Amanda discovered this easy recipe for cooking popcorn on the stove (and I had switched to stainless steel pans with glass lids, which are imperative to pulling off the recipe). It's fast, easy, and way more delicious than pre-packaged popcorn once you get the process down.

Because I like to post recipes on this site that are original, or at least incorporate my own twist, I started experimenting with different powdered topping ideas to post, but never could get one that I loved. Then a few weeks ago Corin asked what Cracker Jack was after hearing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and, not wanting to buy him some (if he didn't like it I wouldn't finish it, since it's way too sticky for me, molar-wise), I improvised a version of it on the stove with brown sugar. It turned out better than anything I had slaved over inventing.

2 tbsp peanut oil
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp popcorn kernels
1/3 cup salted peanuts
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar

1) In a three-quart stainless steel saucepan, add oil, salt, and 3 to 4 popcorn kernels. Cover with glass lid.

2) Heat at a high heat (my knobs go up to 10 and I cook it at 8) until those kernels have popped.

3) Remove pan from heat momentarily, remove lid and add the rest of the kernels (replacing lid), and shake pan for 30 seconds. Place back on heat until all kernels have popped.

4) Immediately after popping has ceased, remove lid and sprinkle brown sugar on the popcorn and toss in the peanuts. Replace lid quickly to keep the steam inside and shake well to coat evenly for about 20 seconds.

5) Pour your sugar-sweet popcorn into a large serving bowl and enjoy!