Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Favorites: The Rest

A few of my favorite things from How to Cook Everything:

1. Stock! I am obsessed with making my own stock now. I seem to use a lot more of it than I did before when I wasn't making my own. Maybe its because I know how delicious it is and secretly want to use up my stash so I can make my house smell so good again and again and again.

2. cooking in packets. I love how easy cooking in packets is. Choose your meat, throw in any veggies that suit you (or that you have on hand), add your seasonings and cook. I'd love to host a dinner party at some point with a spread on that Today Show segment where everyone makes their own packet.

2010 Goals:

- Branch out into other, less explored categories like: desserts, soups, and beans.
- Consistency in posting.
- Try things I don't like.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Favorites: Animal (Poultry and Meat)

Continuing with the theme, today I'll list my favorite poultry and meat recipes:

1. Broiled Skirt Steak. This was the first recipe I posted. It's been a while, but I still think about that deicious skirt steak. I plan on trying it again soon to find out if it was the meat, the local vendor, or the marinade that made it so

2. Steak Au Poivre. Another one I want to try again. The first round I could tell it would be delicious if not for the funky meat. Mark Bittman even made some on the Today Show this morning as an idea for an easy entree when entertaining.

3. Simplest Whole Roast Chicken. 2009 is the year of the roast chicken in our house. I love a roasted chicken. Its so easy and produces the most tender and juiciest meat. It also makes the house smell nice. And then I get to make a chicken stock (I'm seriously obsessed with making my own stock now)!

4. Pan Grilled/Oven Roasted Steaks. This is a recipe I've used several times since the initial posting. There is nothing more decadent to me than a nice steak. I never order steaks when eating out because I know I can perfectly cook a delicious steak at home. And I'd rather be at home than in a restaurant.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Favorites: Veggies

Bryan and I both love our vegetables... Okay, so I love all vegetables, and Bryan loves anything that isn't and/or touching: onions, peppers, mushrooms, or tomatoes. But other than that, we really love our veggies.

Here are the favorite dishes we tried this year from How to Cook Everything:

1. Creamed corn with cheese. Bryan's favorite vegetable is corn. And this is our favorite way to eat it. What's not to love: butter, cheese, and corn?! Its so good I may even make it again tonight.

2.Mashed Cauliflower with cheese. Oops, beginning to see a theme here. We need our cheese! Oh dear, this was the most delicious thing I ever made. Bryan was not happy when he discovered I had brought cauliflower into our home. I was even a bit skeptical myself. It only took one bite for both of us to fall in love. I think I actually made proclamations that what wasn't on his plate was all mine. I savored that cauliflower, like cauliflower has never been savored before.

3. Sweet Potato Gratin. This is dish is a double whammy: easy and scrumptious. Great for people who don't even like sweet potatoes, like me.

Overall I've attempted approximately 36 vegetable recipes. Pretty decent, but still have a ways to go.

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Recap: Appetizers

For this last week of 2009, I thought I'd look back at the dishes I've completed and list which were my favorites. While I still have a long way to go before completing this project, I am proud of myself for sticking with this so far and trying a bunch of new things.

So for today we'll start with starters, appetizers:

1. Marinated Celery and Carrots, Chinese style. I had never had anything like this before, but have since made it twice. Bryan and I both really enjoy the flavors. Its a departure from regular crudities and still healthy.

2. Hummus. Hummus is not really something I typically like. I'll take a bite or two out of politeness at parties or gatherings. Homemade hummus is about two steps ahead of the store bought stuff. I've made it for several parties and received many compliments. Not only is it delicious, but its easy!

So far I've completed 8 appetizers. Which is pretty low, will definately being doing more appetizer posts in 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Potato and Leek Soup p. 131

Ingredients: butter, potatoes, leeks, stock.

This is a super easy and super delicious soup to make. Start off by prepping the veggies. Peel the potatoes and cute into small cubes. Then prep the leeks (if you do not know how to do so, like me a few months ago, please visit page 310 which shoes how to trim and wash leeks).

To cook, melt your butter (you can use olive oil if you wish), then add the veggies. After a few minutes, when they start to soften, add stock or water if you don't have stock. Let cook until your potatoes are soft.

One variation suggests pureeing the soup in a blender or immersion blender. One of the things that I've asked for Christmas is an immersion blender. I have a list of things to make once I have it. But this time I decided to use the blender. Did you know that you can't fill a blender up too close to the top and then turn it on? I learned the hard way last night. Oh well... Bryan asked for it lightly pureed... meaning with a few chunks.

The soup was hearty and delicious. Perfect for cuddling up to your significant other or cuddly pet on the couch to watch a movie.

BONUS: I finished off the leftovers and didn't heat them up, which qualifies this as the second variation: Vichyssoise. I'm not even going to try to pronounce that. It was just as delicious cold as it was warm.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fried Rice with Shrimp p. 468-470

Ingredients: endless possibilities

I've been on an oriental theme kick lately. I'm not sure why exactly. Bryan loves anything with rice, maybe thats why we've had rice with what feels like the last twenty meals. Oh well... all have been delicious.

Mark Bittman goes into great length with various tips, additions, and variations to make your own fried rice.

One great tip is to make your rice ahead of time. I only had time to cook mine about an hour before "frying" it. Which worked okay, but leftover rice is really the best.

We used rice, frozen peas, garlic, ginger, eggs, soy, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and seasame oil.

Bryan was impressed that I had made it myself and I thought it was a great, easy, fast comfort meal. Perfect for a weak night. The best part is that you can probably make this without even having to go to the store. You can use whatever you happen to have in your freezer, fridge, or pantry.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Edamame with Stock p. 424

I'm back! Although, if our busy holiday schedule doesn't settle down soon, I'm going to be out of posts... again. Yikes.

Ingredients:ginger, stock, carrot, snow peas, shelled edamame.

I just love edamame. Not only is it yummy, but it also just feels healthy as you eat it. Sometimes I just eat edamame for lunch.

For this recipe however, you sautee your ginger and scallion (I didn't use either because a) my grocery was out of ginger! and b) we don't like scallions). Then add your stock, carrots (I finely chopped it), snow peas, and edamame. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until everything is tender, mine took around 10 minutes.

I served it over rice. It was delicious. However, since we didn't have the ginger we tossed ours with some Hoisin sauce, its my new love. I would like to thank Mark Bittman for introducing us. After opening the bottle last week we're halfway through the bottle... and we only ate at home two nights last week.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


My birthday was last Friday. As a result of all the celebrations, I haven't cooked in the last week. Posts will resume normally when my life gets back to normal. New posts coming soon, I promise!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stir Fried Beef with Onions and Ginger p. 731

Ingredients: steak or tender beef cut, peanut oil, onions, garlic, ginger, stock, soy sauce.

This is a quick dish to put together and on the table, but I felt lacking in flavor. Perhaps it is one of those that tastes better the next day, but I never got the chance to eat it the next day.

Slice your beef thinly. I like to prepare all my ingredients ahead of time with stir fries because they cook so quickly. First cook your onions until they are soft and set aside. (I liked this because I could cook the onions and put them on my dish and not Bryan's!) Then cook your galric and ginger before tossing in the beef. After a minute or two add in your soy and stock. Let it cook for a few minutes before serving.

This dish needs veggies or something to go with it. It is not a stand alone meal. Perhaps a bag of frozen stir fry veggies would be a good side with it. I don't know. I wans't overly impressed.

Bryan and I added a lot of hot pepper paste to our beef and rice, which made it a little better.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Braised Pork with Spicy Soy Sauce p. 758

Oh my, just thinking about this dish makes my mouth water. Being a bit behind in my posts, it has been well over a week since I made this delicious pork entree.

Ingredients: pork shoulder, soy sauce, sugar, stock, garlic, ginger, onion, lime juice, pepper.

I left out chiles, onions, and lime juice, simply because we either didn't have it or didn't like it.

Start off by combining almost everything (except lime and salt and pepper, if using). I just noticed that Mark Bittman notes that you can prepare this mixture up to a day in advance and let it marinade together for up to a day... That wouldn't be a bad idea, but not totally necessary.

Bring it to a boil then turn the heat down. Let it cook for a little while (I let mine cook about 30-45 minutes.) Add lime juice, salt and pepper at the last minute and serve over rice.

If there are any left overs they will taste even more delicious the next day.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Broiled Lamb Chops p. 768

This is my first experience cooking with lamb. Bryan has cooked it once for us while we were married and I might have had it once or twice before in my life.

This is a very easy dish, as it is with most of Mark Bittman's simply cooked meats.

Simply heat your broiler and broil for a couple minutes on each side. It cannot get easier than that.

This dish is so easy and so quick to cook that its ridiculous that people even eat out. What are thinking? Are we really that lazy when there are dishes like this that are so easy to cook? I'm speaking to myself on this rant.

I did think they were a little lacking in flavor. Next time I make them, I might try a marinade for an hour or so. It couldn't hurt.

I served mine broiled lamb chops with steamed broccoli and rice.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shredded Pork p. 759

Ingredients: onion, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, chile, pepper, and of course, a pork shoulder.

I've cooked a pork shoulder before. It was so delicious slowly cooked and then shredded put over various dishes.

This recipe is very similar only with a shorter cooking time, less ingredients, and the pork is cut into smaller bites. Honestly, even though the cooking time was shorter and more convinent, I didn't like working with the smaller bites and didn't like the flavor better.

We didn't use the meat right away. In fact, we used it a night later and put it in quesadillas (look for those tomorrow). We used them another time over nachos and it was a tasty dish. But over all I feel this dish is lacking in flavor.

Maybe its because I'm a Memphian and am used to some very flavorful pork, but I was slightly disappointed in this one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quesadillas p. 109

I had made a shredded pork the day before and thought that maybe quesadillas would be a fun, casual dinner.

We started by putting a little oil in a skillet and putting on one flour tortilla. while it warmed we added some cheese, green peppers if wanted, some pork, and salsa. Then topped it with another tortilla. After a minute or two flipped it.

Viola! Your very own quesadilla!

They were a fun dinner. We had friends/family over for a relaxed evening and made each person make their own.

You could make them just cheese quesadillas as an appetizer, but I think adding a meat and making it your own really added a fun vibe to the evening... and no one could blame me if their meal wasn't good!

Turkey Curry

Last week I flagged this post by Mark Bittman for turkey leftovers. I am so glad that I did because Bryan and I both really loved it.

I don't think that I've tried a curry recipe before in the past, but it will become a new staple in our house. Prep and cook time was under 20 minutes, maybe even under 15 minutes.

Start by cooking minced garlic and ginger for a few seconds in peanut oil. Then add onions if you are using them. I skipped ahead to adding tomatoes, stock, and cream (I didn't have coconut milk on hand, so I substituted some heavy cream). Once the tomatoes have broken down enough for your picky non-tomato eater, add turkey and spinach. Once the spinach has wilted (about 2 minutes) remove and serve over rice.

This is by far my favorite way I've ever had turkey. I may make it again another night this wek.