September 28, 2010

.grilled portobellos of awesomeness.

Hokay. Let's start by asking, have you guys discovered the awesome that is portobello mushrooms? Like, seriously? No, no, seriously?!?!

I thought I had discovered their awesomeness in college. A little place I frequented, Magnolia Cafe, had a sandwich called the portobello melt. Mushrooms, peppers, cheese.... so good. It is strips of mushroom though, not the whole cap, which I didn't realize would be so different. But still, I loved it. 
So I decided to make my own grilled portobello mushrooms for dinner tonight. Wow. WOW I say. It didn't taste anything like the sandwich had. It was dense, it was juicy, it was.... meaty? Yes indeed. I felt like I was eating meat. I completely get why the vegetarians dig on this mushroom. It was delicious.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom "Steaks"  serves 2
2 portobello mushroom caps
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper and garlic powder for taste

Start with two caps that are about the same size. The stem should be cut fairly low. Drizzle the caps with olive oil, on both sides. Liberally sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder or any other spice you enjoy. Place on a hot grill pan that has been lightly coated with olive oil, a saute pan would probably work as well. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, turning two or three times. The mushroom will get much darker as it cooks.

I found the great thing about grilling these was I really couldn't go wrong. You can't really undercook it or overcook it. Very good for me. I do recommend using a little bit more spice than you think you need. I thought I coated mine pretty well and I still would have liked a little bit of extra flavor. Next time I will try a marinade, which is what many recipes for grilling these mushrooms suggest. Many other recipes also suggest stuffing the mushrooms with cheese, breadcrumbs, etc, which would also probably infuse more flavor.

I topped my mushroom with half of a small avocado, cause I'm one of those people, and paired it with mashed potatoes with cheese and brussels sprouts. So delicious, and so not sugar cookies. Ha.

Cook on!

September 27, 2010

.daring bakers challenge: september.

Yes! This will probably be my favorite monthly post. I am part of a group call Daring Kitchen. This includes Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks. Every month each group gives it's members a challenge in the baking world or cooking world. On the 14th of each month Daring Cooks reveal their completed challenge and on the 27th of each month, IE: TODAY!, Daring Bakers reveal their completed challenge.This month's challenge host was Mandy at What The Fruitcake?! She challenged us all to make homemade decorated sugar cookies with the theme of what September means to us. Awesome.

This challenge took me 7 hours. 7 whole hours. Ok, no, not really. Some of it is freezing time, some of it is baking time, some of it is cooling time but once the decorating starts, WHEW! No resting then. It was really fun though, especially once I got the hang of it. Which would also be known as: after I had already messed up all my really good looking cookies. But, c'est la vie.

So the cookie recipe itself it so easy. So easy y'all. Sugar, butter, flour, egg, extract.... that's it. Mandy's recipes sources were:

Basic Sugar Cookie recipe adapted from Peggy Porschen:
Also found in her book: “Romantic Cakes” 

So, check those out if you'd like to try these cookies yourself.

To start I made the cookie dough, per the instructions. Split it into two sections. Rolled those out with parchment and put them in the freezer. And here was my first challenge. I had never rolled anything out with parchment paper before, I always just use a floured surface. The parchment paper went all over the place every time I tried to roll the dough! It was a pain, for sure. I wound up sticking my kitchen aid mixer on one side and just rolling from one angle, which kind of sucked. It worked out in the end though so, that's all that matters. After letting the dough chill I cut out my shapes, simple circles and a little star cookie cutter. Then back into the freezer for another 30 minutes. After that I baked the cookies in three batches. Two batches of circles for 14 minutes each, and one batch of stars for 8 minutes. The first batch of cookies and the batch of stars turned out great but something went amiss with the second batch of circles..... they rose. Which, if you don't know, sugar cookies are not really supposed to do. Upon examining the cookies I found that the bottom was blown out and I'm thinking what happened was that the second batch was made from scraps that I rerolled and chances are I didn't knead the dough enough and got air bubbles in the cookies. Still, it was very weird.

After letting the cookies cool for about 2 hours I started on the icing. This was my first time working with royal icing and I made quite a few mistakes, but I know where I went wrong so, that's good news, ha. My first mistake was mixing the icing, placing some of it in other cups for other colors, then filling an icing bag with the white icing and starting before mixing the other colors. I realize now that I should have mixed all the colors, place them all in their icing bags, then started. I also realize now that my base white icing was way too runny at first. I quickly learned to add more confectioners sugar.... and to put some parchment paper beneath the cookie rack I was icing on, ha. But, it still turned out pretty good.

The theme I had decided on for my cookies was going to be "Georgia," as my husband and I just moved here. While trying to mix my black and red, however, I realized that wasn't going to work. My black looked purple, and the red looked pink. So, I made a few "G" logos then decided to just play around with some techniques, as you can see.

Overall I'm super happy with my first attempt at decorated sugar cookies. They're not perfect, but they're cute. I have a technique down now and feel like my next batch will be much better.

And, I gotta say, even though they're not perfect, they still tasted amazing!

Thanks Daring Bakers!

Cook on!

September 21, 2010

.better late than never.

Good evening! Due to the Man's crazy work schedule, I have the night to myself and decided to take advantage of it. I recently joined the Daring Kitchen. The first challenge I should have done, however, was meant to be posted on the exact day our household goods came in. Great timing, eh? Needless to say, I decided I didn't have time to worry about the challenge. Now a week later things have calmed down, the house is mostly organized, and as stated, I have some time to kill.
The Daring Cooks challenge was food preservation, by way of freezing or canning. And the host, John, from Eat4Fun, provided three recipes to try in either of these methods. I have decided to make oven-roasted tomatoes for the freezing method.

The recipe is really straightforward. These are the measurements I used, you can adjust them to your taste.

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes makes 16 ounces
1 pounds tomatoes
5 leaves of basil
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
salt for taste

Preheat oven to 325. Core the tomatoes, then cut them into halves or thirds, depending on how big they are. Put them into a large bowl. Cut the basil into small pieces, add to bowl. Mince the garlic... or cheat like me and use a garlic press. Combine in bowl. Add olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt. Mix everything together until all the tomatoes are coated with oil. Put on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and cook for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the tomatoes are slightly browned.

If you are going to freeze these, let them cool before placing them in the freezer. It's also always a good idea to put a date on the container you have them.

I was really bummed that I wasn't able to participate in this challenge for the correct date but when I went to the farmer's market last week and saw a huge variety of tomatoes as well as fresh garlic I knew I wanted to try it anyway. It was super easy, filled the kitchen with a delicious, sweet, garlicy smell, and can now be used on toast, pasta, soup or anything else we see fit.

Cook on!

September 20, 2010

.side dish of the week.

So, while hiking with the Man yesterday I decided it would be nice to have a little consistency in my posts. And thus became Side Dish of the Week. Very official sounding, no? Let me know what y'all think over the next few weeks and we'll see what becomes of this idea.

Tonight I made a very easy dish of oven-roasted potatoes and paired them with leftover roast and gravy I made this weekend. Upon perusing a local farmer's market I found these potatoes and they looked far too good to pass up.

I learned how to make this potato recipe quite a few years ago from my then roommate Hope. They are super tender out of the oven and provide a great carb to go with meat, fish, or salad. When Hope makes them she uses a Lipton Recipe Secrets spice mix, which always turns out delicious. I usually just use whatever spices I see fit that I have on hand. Tonight was just a simple sprinkling of salt, pepper and garlic powder. I would say though that you could easily add chili powder to make it spicier, fresh herbs to liven it up, or even cheese after it's out of the oven if that's what you're into. 

 Oven-Roasted Potatoes makes 2 servings
4-6 small potatoes, or 2-3 large potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper and garlic powder for taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Clean the potatoes with some sort of scrubbing brush. Cut them into small sections, bite size or a tad bit larger. Place them on a baking sheet or shallow baking pan. Drizzle the olive oil over them then add the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix lightly and bake until tender. Usually 35-40 minutes depending on how thick the pieces are.

And that's it. One of the easiest, albeit time-consuming, side dishes ever. Enjoy!

Cook on!

September 16, 2010

.the start.

I figure I should begin with basics. I don't really know what I'm doing with this here food blog but, I'll get the hang of it soon. In the meantime, I bring you incredibly simple dishes. And no pictures. Because our camera cord is still lost in the depths of boxes that have recently traveled from the AK to the GA. Basically what I'm trying to say is this first post is going to be, well, not completely up to par.

For this first, simple, basic dish I want to tell you about scrambled eggs. Yes. I said simple. I feel like everyone from 5 star chefs to home cooks should be able to make a mean scrambled egg, or risk the revocation of their title. Of course this does not stand for folks who don't eat eggs.... but even then, tofu scrambles have all the same makings as scrambled eggs.

Not so coincidentally scrambled eggs was what dinner consisted of this fine evening. They were fluffy, they were cheesy, they were chock full of veggies. Pretty much they are a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner option in our household.

Now, I'm going to give you my "recipe" but really in terms of cooking I rarely use measurements. Baking is a different story but, for things like this I kind of just use what I have. This would also depend on what else you want to make with the meal. Tonight we ate a big ol' plate full of scrambled eggs, and that was it, so I used  a total of 7eggs. On nights when I make other things to go with the eggs (pancakes, bacon, sausage, toast, waffles.... you get the idea) I generally only use 2 eggs per person. I will base the recipe off the 2 eggs per person assumption and y'all can make your own substitutions as you see fit.

Rocking Scrambled Eggs makes 2 servings
4 eggs
1/8 cup milk
1/4 of an onion
1 small zucchini
3-4 button mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
Tony Chachere's Seasoning for taste
Salt and pepper for taste
Grated cheese for garnish

Preheat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat while chopping the onion, zucchini and mushrooms. Once the oil is hot add the onion and zucchini to the skillet. Coat liberally with Tony Chachere's Seasoning. While that starts to cook crack eggs into a bowl, whisk. Add milk, salt and pepper, and whisk until combined. After the onion starts to become slightly translucent and the zucchini is slightly browned, 5-7 minutes, add mushrooms to the skillet. Let this cook for an additional 3-5 minutes then add eggs to the skillet. Fold the eggs over until they are completely done, there should be no liquid in the pan, the eggs should be solid.  Plate the eggs and sprinkle the grated cheese on top.

Now, as I said, you can pretty much substitute anything in these. Try different veggies, try different types of cheese, go crazy. I even add vegan sausage to it sometimes, or stick it in a tortilla and make it a breakfast taco, as you may see in the future.

As a side note, I have heard that you should not cook the eggs with the cooked vegetables, as there can sometimes still be raw egg on the vegetables after the rest of the eggs are done cooking. I have never had a problem with this so, it's up to you. If it does bother you, after the vegetables are done cooking move them to a medium sized bowl, cook the eggs, then mix them together. Problem solved!

Cook on!

September 14, 2010


And Bienvenue!

I'd like to welcome you all to my newly christined blog!

I cook. I bake. I drink delicious beverages, not all of them adult in nature. And I'd like to share them with everyone who is interested.

If you enjoy this blog, good. I hope so. And I hope I can motivate you to explore your kitchen the way many of the food blogs I frequent motivate me.

Cook on!