Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Cats

So, about 20 seconds before this picture was taken the coat was hung up. Noodles knocked it down, crawled under it and very quickly pretended to be asleep. Except she forgot to close her eyes. Not too bright, our Noodles.

The real Bob's new thing is wanting to play on the bean bag. We don't really want that though, since he winds up transferring his play to the bag itself. And it's a really nice bean bag.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Charred Pineapple Salsa and a Cookbook Review

-2 tsp canola oil
-1 can (20oz) pineapple rings, drained, 2 tbls of juice reserved
-1/2 small red bell pepper, finely diced
-1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
-2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
-juice from 1/2 a lime
-1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
-1/4 tsp sugar
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/4 tsp salt
-freshly ground black pepper

Pat the pineapple rings dry with some paper towels and lay them in an even layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush the tops with oil and broil each side until lightly charred. Chop them into 1/2" pieces and mix everything together. Chill for at least an hour, preferably overnight.


In my kitchen I have a stack of cookbooks maybe two-three feet high. Now, that's not a lot to most cooks, I know. But bear this in mind: I haven't paid for a single one. That's right, I have never in my life bought a cookbook. Weird, huh? Especially for someone who cooks as much as I do.

Now, some of the cookbooks were presents, like the America's Test Kitchen one that has all the recipes and stuff from ten years worth of the show. My brother gave me it for Christmas, it's frigging awesome. Some were rescued when people were moving and were going to get rid of them, like the Julia Child one I got from my parents. Which is also awesome, but in a different way. And some have been sent to me since I started blogging in exchange for a review. Which is, again, awesome. I mean, c'mon, who doesn't want free cookbooks? This is one that's been sent to me for a review. That's my disclaimer.

The cookbook that we're talking about today is called Dollars to Donuts by Dawn Welch. Apparently she was the inspiration for Sally in the Pixar flick Cars. Now I'm not a fancy big city book reviewer, but I know what I like. And I like clear directions and good pictures. Because really, what's a cookbook without those? This one has all of that. Big, glossy, color pictures, great recipes and lots of tips. She also gives suggestions for combination of sides and main dishes for some of them, which is nice. All in all I really like it, I'm already planning on making many of the recipes. One of them, I already have.Charred pineapple salsa, baby. This was a great recipe, nice and easy and the charred pineapple is a great touch. We had it with some pork tacos that I'll post about when I find the recipe and they went really well together.

The salsa is sweet, a little spicy and tangy with a great balance. I'm definitely going to be making it again. The recipe doesn't say to, but I would make this at least a few hours in advance, maybe even the day before you want to use it. After a day in the fridge the flavors had mingled really well and it was even better than the day it was made. Not really shocking, I know. Heh. I made it just like the recipe said to, except I used crystallized ginger instead of fresh, since that's what I had. This would go great with all kinds of things; fish, chicken, any kind of Mexican food, hell I'd put it on burgers. That would be awesome too. So, looking for a non tomato salsa? Maybe for the Superbowl? Give it a shot, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spaghetti al Amatriciana For One

1/4 lb spaghetti, cooked al dente
2-3 slices of bacon (or more)
3 tbls diced onion
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 8oz can plain tomato sauce
1 tbls grated romano cheese
1 tbl chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
black pepper to taste

Cut the bacon into 1/2" pieces and brown it to your liking over medium heat. Move it to a paper towel lined plate and pour off most of the grease, leaving a tbl or so. Brown the onion in the skillet then add the vinegar, tomato sauce and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, then add the cheese. Let it simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil and black pepper, stir, then add the pasta and stir to combine. Serve with more cheese.


So, I'm afraid I'm not going to be doing step by step pictures anymore, at least not for the foreseeable future. I just don't have the space in my kitchen to get set up to do it right. It sucks because I enjoyed that a lot, but I have a total of three feet of counter space and it's broken up into one foot lengths. One foot by the stove and a foot on either side of the sink. It's simply inadequate for the job. But I'm hardly going to stop blogging altogether, I'm just going to simplify a bit.

In fact, not only am I not stopping blogging but I even have a new blog. Well, sort of new. I've been sitting on it for a while, waiting for the time and motivation to do something with it. But being currently unemployed I now have plenty of time. Heh. It's about houseplants, mostly ficuses. So, if you're into that, feel free to stop by. There's not much there as of now, but there will be more soon, I assure you.

And speaking of unemployment, want to show a dude some love? Make his stuff a little more visible? You could go to my page at Foodie Views and vote for my pictures. You don't have to register to vote there. If you really wanted to you could always favorite any of my pictures you like over at Foodgawker and Tastespotting. If you wanted. Heh. But anyway, that's all the self promotion I'm going to subject you to, here's the deal with the pasta.

This is my standard amatriciana, but pared down for one person. No, my girlfriend hasn't stopped putting up with my crap or dumped me because I'm a jobless bum, she just doesn't like this dish the same way I do. You know, spicy. So I usually wind up making it when I'm just cooking for myself. After a little trial and error I've gotten it just right. At least for my tastes. It's funny, when I started making this for just myself I never thought to do the math and cut the original by three quarters. And it's a good thing too, since this isn't a quarter of the original and it's really good as it is.

I've found you can use that canned pre-grated Parmesan instead of romano and it works ok. It's not as good, clearly, but it's totally fine. Same with dried basil instead of fresh. You could even use diced dehydrated onion, although I'd open the can of tomato sauce, dump in the dried onion and let it soak for a while before you started cooking. This is a great pantry meal, assuming bacon is one of your pantry staples. I know it is for me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Five Minute Cake In A Mug

I bet you've all gotten that email that starts like this:

Or some variation thereof. My sister sent it to me awhile ago, but I hadn't gotten around to making it. Then I got this new mug. Seemed appropriate. Heh. Thanks JennDZ! But how was it? Well, I didn't really do it right. See, the Foodie Blogroll mug that I won isn't quite the right size for the recipe, so I mixed it up in another mug and then filled the FBr one halfway. It worked out fine except I should have taken it out a bit sooner. Flavor-wise it was pretty good, for microwaved cake. A little whipped cream helped. It does make kind of a mess out of the mug, but whatever. Next time I make it I'll leave out the chocolate chips, they all just sank to the bottom and formed a goopy layer. And there will be a next time. Probably fairly soon.

Here's the whole recipe, just in case anyone hasn't seen it.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (microwave safe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Cats and the Winners!

First, the winners of the Deans dips. They are...

Dawn from Vanilla Sugar and Gwen from Tested, Tried and (almost always) True! Woot! If you ladies would be so kind as to email your info to I'll have them get your stuff right out to you.

And since it's Sunday, I'll post some cat pics. Here is one where Noodles looks particularly fat. She really isn't as fat as she looks here. I mean, she's pretty fat, but not that fat.

So, I've lost my comfy chair to Noodles and the beanbag to the real Bob. He just sinks into it until you can barely see him. He also leaves fur all over it. All I have left is my desk chair and who knows how long that will last?

And I'd like to thank everyone for all the well wishes! I'm feeling much better now, probably won't be having ramen again for a while. Heh.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spicy Corn and Beef Ramen, Plus a Giveaway

First, the ramen. You may have noticed a theme here, when I have a cold I eat spicy ramen. It's just how I get down. This one is pretty similar to the last one I made, although more pantry friendly since it doesn't use homemade stock. Well, it could and it would be awesome, but I didn't have any beef stock, so I just used broth. Real broth too, not the packet of "beef" seasoning that comes with the noodles. I just toss those, unless I'm feeling really lazy. Heh.

I didn't take any measurements so I'm not even going to try to list the ingredients. But I know it had a decent chunk of crystallized ginger and red pepper flakes. Lots of red pepper flakes. There's also some garlic in there, frozen corn, black pepper... I think that might be it other than the steak.

That was actually a chunk of leftovers from one of the rare dinners out me and my girlfriend had recently. It was teriyaki so it seemed appropriate. I just sliced it thin and semi-artfully arranged a few of the slices on top. Then I took pictures, dumped the rest in, mixed it up and ate it. Heh. One little tip, if you're doing something like this with cold, leftover meats, slice them thin and dump them into the ramen after you've taken it off the heat but it's still too hot to eat. This heats up the meat without cooking it much more and cools down the broth a bit, too. Good times.

Now, I had mentioned a giveaway. The good folks over at Deans Dips have offered to send one of my readers a couple of vouchers for free dip and another reader a couple vouchers and a dip tray. Maybe even in time for the Super Bowl, how do you like that? They sent me some, but I haven't had a chance to redeem them yet since my crappy local grocery store doesn't seem to carry it. They sound good though and I'll be writing a review when I manage to get some. So, want to try it? Hmm? Maybe get a dip tray? Well, just tell me what your favorite dip is and you're entered. Never had dip or just don't care for it but you just want a dip tray? Leave a comment and you're entered anyway, I'm easy going. I'm only going to run it until Sunday to increase the chances of everything arriving by the Super Bowl.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Steak Tips, Bow Ties with White Sauce and Peas

1 1/2 cups warm 2% milk
2 tbls butter
2 tbls flour
1 lb steak tips
2 tsps chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbls minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 lb mostly cooked bow tie pasta
salt and pepper

Cut steak tips into 1" chunks and season them with salt and pepper. Brown them well in a skillet, then set them aside on a ceramic plate tented with foil. Deglaze the skillet with the chicken stock and once all the brown bits are up and it's reduced by at least 1/2, pour it off and set it aside. Turn the heat in the skillet down to medium-low and melt the butter in it. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a minute or so, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the milk while still stirring, keep stirring until the sauce is thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until it's reduced to around a cup then add the deglazing liquid. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Let simmer for another minute or so, stirring frequently, then add juices from the rested steak tips, the peas and pasta (and tips, if you want it all combined). Toss it all together and let it simmer for another minute or two, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce. Add the basil, stir to combine and serve.


The other day my girlfriend came up to me and said, "I want steak tips. And bowties with peas."

I said, "Ok". And made this. She sat across the blue plastic tv tray we've been using as a table, eating it with a little smile on her face.

"Is it good?" I asked.

"Oh yes" she said, "it's exactly what I wanted."

That, kids, is my personal favorite response. Sure "I love it! ", "it's even better than I thought it would be" or an enthusiastic thumbs up because their mouth is too busy to talk are all great. But really, there's nothing better than craving something and getting just what it was you wanted. Well, when it comes to food anyway. Heh.

The icing on the whole deal here is that this is a surprisingly low fat dish considering how rich it is. I used homemade stock which makes a big impact with texture and richness, but was almost completely fat free. The sauce didn't taste chickeny at all, but you got the smooth, rich mouth-feel from all the collagen in the stock so I could use 2% milk and still have it be really creamy. Other than that it was just the two tablespoons of butter, perfectly reasonable for something that serves 4-6 people, and the tips. The tips weren't too fatty, although I did cook them in bacon grease. Because I could. I didn't get many pictures, but fortunately it's nice and simple. I don't see why you couldn't do this with something other than steak. You would just want something that leaves good fond since that's where most of the flavor for the sauce comes from. Next time I'm going to add a tablespoon or two of sour cream to it to brighten up the flavor a bit.

Speaking of the sauce, does anyone know if it's still a white sauce? Does adding the broth, fond and meat juices change it? I think it might, technically, be gravy. Not that I'd mind, of course. In fact if that were so I'd probably change the title of the post to reflect it. Heh.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Cats

I've managed to catch another cold, so I'm just crawling out of bed to put up this one picture. The real Bob.See that black line across his shoulder? That's the string that defeated him. I was playing with him and put the string on his back. He immediately lay down, exposing his belly in submission. He is the wimpiest cat I have ever been affiliated with.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Turkey Ball Sandwich

-turkey balls (recipe to follow)
-4 cups good tomato sauce
-kaiser rolls
-string cheese, cut in half (or block mozzarella, -cut into 2x1/2x6" planks)
-olive oil

Heat the tomato sauce and turkey ball in a medium sauce pan over medium-low and let simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Slice the rolls, brush the sliced sides with olive oil and either broil or fry them in a hot pan until browned and crispy. Set aside.

Heat up a nonstick pan on medium/medium-high (or use the one you fried the roll on) and put two pieces of cheese side by side on it. Let it sit for a couple minutes to brown. While it's browning put some turkey balls on half a toasted roll. When the cheese is brown flip it, brown side up, onto the turkey balls. Top with the other half roll and have at it.

Turkey Balls:
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tbls soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Thoroughly combine everything in a bowl. Form it into ~2" balls and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. I suggest simmering them in a sauce of some stripe for at least 30 minutes.


A recipe! Finally. Heh. Well, first things first: props. Neither of the main elements of this sandwich are my creations. The turkey ball recipe I got from my brother many years ago and the cheese is from Goldie over at Confessions of a Serial Baker. But lets do this in order, shall we? First, turkey balls.

This is one of those "simple is better" dishes. You'll notice there are few ingredients and practically no herbs or spices. They taste like ... well, turkey balls. Turkey is a big flavor, of course, a little onion and some soy come through. The rest is just kind of umami. Which makes them a great foil for sauces.

Tomato is awesome, clearly. But they would also take well to a Swedish meatball kind of gravy, a white sauce or a spicy barbecue kind of thing. In fact, I'm going to make them in a barbecue sauce kind of thing next time, that would be awesome. But, this time it was tomato.

No step by steps, I was in a rush when I made them. Heh, in fact all these pictures are from the next day. Meatballs in sauce are a rarity in the food photography world in that they look just as good as leftovers as they did when they were fresh. I simmered them in a simple tomato sauce, nothing that I measured out stuff for or anything.

While that was going on I fried my roll. I do suggest frying your rolls, if you aren't overly concerned about calories. Although since it's olive oil that makes it healthy, right? Well, I say it does and I'm on the internet and that makes me an expert. But doesn't that look better than toasted? You know it does.

Now, a burnt cheese puddle. When I saw that post I knew I had to have it on a sandwich. So I did, because I'm like that. It's browned cheese, really. As simple as that, but it makes the sandwich so much better.If you only brown one side the other side adheres to the turkey balls really well. Here's a better look at the joy. Browned cheese is good, I recommend it. What would you put a cheese puddle on?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Berry Biscuit Cups

Man, it seems like forever since I've done a post about biscuit cups. Heh. But seriously, my girlfriend bought several tubes of biscuits and I have to do something with them. And don't let it be said I never do what I say I'm going to. I filled them with fruit this time, just like I said I would in my post last week. And it was wicked good. So, here is the post I have that tells you exactly how to make the cups, just ignore the egg and bacon... well, no, don't ignore them. Make them too, they're wicked good.

You could even make both of them at the same time. Then your meal would have all the major food groups: grain, bacon, butter, sugar... er, eggs... Hm. Anyway, the fruit cups.

First off, I macerated some chopped strawberries and blackberries. I'm not sure how much sugar I put in I'm afraid, probably ~1 tablespoon, plus a drop of vanilla. I let that sit for a couple hours. Then I made the cups, filled them up with fruit, a little of the macerating liquid and dropped a tiny bit of butter on each one. Because I can. Then I baked them. And we ate them. And they were awesome. Especially with a little whipped cream. We wound up just putting it on top, it's really the most efficient way to do it. Ok, I promise now, no more biscuit cups. Until I do the peanut butter and chocolate ones.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pan Seared Steak Sandwich with Horseradish Mustard Pan Sauce

Ok, I think it took longer for me to write the name of this post than it did for me to eat the sandwich. I mean look at that, how good does that look? It was also wicked easy, which is always a plus. All I did was pan sear a petite sirloin (they were on sale! Yeah!) after rubbing it with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, make a pan sauce with the fond, slice it thin and serve it on french bread. Good frikking times.

I did use a little trick to get tons flavor into the sauce though. Since the steak was thick (~1.5") I covered it and reduced the heat for part of the middle period of cooking. This caused it to release a whole bunch of juices, which I then collected. The juices partly deglazed it before the final deglaze, which kept the fond from burning during the long sear. When the steak was done I deglazed the pan with some water and the juices, reduced it to about 1/4 cup, added a tablespoon of horseradish mustard and a pat of butter. This turned it into, essentially, gravy. Oh, I also added the juices from the steak after it rested. You've got to have those. But that's it and it was quite possibly the best steak sandwich I've ever had.

Also, the inimitable Joanne from Eats Well With Others gave me awards! Isn't she sweet? Kreative Blogger and Sugardoll awards, to be precise. If you don't already, you should check out her blog, she's a great storyteller and cook. Now I know I haven't been playing the awards game lately, but I do enjoy the ones with the trivia so I'll at least play along a little. Course, I can't even remember when the last time I gave a list of random tidbits about myself so if I repeat anything, I apologize in advance. I'm just going to do like Joanne did and list 10 things. However, unlike Joanne I'm going to be a spoilsport and not pass it along. Sorry kids, it's just how I roll. Now, let's see...

1) When I was in my early 20's I spent several years driving a forklift in a chemical plant. I enjoyed it at the time, but looking back it reminds me of nothing so much as Axis Chemicals from the first Michael Keaton Batman movie. Not a well maintained place.
2) I also worked for an independent record label in the warehouse when I was younger. Much cleaner and a lot more fun, since it was a big party atmosphere there. My memories of it are pretty... hazy. Heh.
3) I've only left the US once, just over the border to Canada, to get donuts.
4) I love old video games, especially 8-bit and Super Nintendo.
5) I also like ficus's and plan on growing bonsai when I have more room/sunlight.
6) I'm a big Godzilla fan. Not the crappy American one from 2000, but the Japanese ones. They are awesome.
7) Me and my girlfriend have been together for seven years, but this is actually our second time dating. The first was in junior high.
8) In the last ten years I have been to a movie theater twice and have no intention of going to another one ever again. I should be the only one making rude comments during the movie.
9) I used to collect gas masks, I still have maybe 8-9 of them.
10) I haven't had cable in over 10 years and I really don't miss it. All I ever watch is PBS anyway.

Sirloin Steak on Foodista

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Cats

Noodles likes my comfy chair. I mean she really likes it. Really. Seriously.Likes it.She'll sit there for hours, watching... the wall of the building next door.I almost never get to sit in that chair anymore.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Biscuit Cups

Ok, I had plans to cook all kinds of cool stuff this week. I did, I swear. But instead of doing that I... well, I didn't. I'm still not 100% sure what happened, but whatever it was it wasn't cooking. But I wanted to post something, so here are some pictures I've been sitting on. I've made these biscuit cups a couple times before (here are the step by steps), they are a good time. I think the egg and bacon ones are my favorite (shocking, I know) but this version was also really good. It was just some chopped chicken and broccoli, a garlicky white sauce on top and a little mozzarella. If you haven't ever made these, you really should. You can fill them with anything and they're really more fun than simple finger food has any business being. Next time I make them I think I'm going to fill them with fruit. You could also use some kind of peanut butter/chocolate filling, that would be awesome. Or whatever, they're a concept, you should feel free to go nuts. So what would you put in there?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Garlic Pan Fried Noodles, Take Two

Folks playing along at home might remember my previous excursion into garlic pan fried noodles, but for those just tuning in here's the short of it: I like them. The first time I made them was alright, but nothing really exciting. This time I tried doing it with garlic infused olive oil, thinking it would coat everything with a nice, even garlic flavor. It would also mean that I could brown up the noodles as much as I wanted without worrying about burnt garlic flavor, which is right up there with burnt eggs for nasty. I made the oil and it tastes great. I fried up the noodles, getting much better color and texture this time, and what do I get? Nothing. All the garlic flavor was completely gone. I've used garlic infused oils for cooking and I've never had this happen before. Although I'm sure it happens to a lot of guys...

But, now I'm in a bind. I got much better flavor with the minced garlic, but I couldn't brown up the noodles really well or else the garlic flavor turned burnt. But with the oil there was no flavor at all, so it clearly isn't the way to go. I wound up sprinkling some Szechuan peppercorns on it at the end just so it would taste like something more than plain ramen.

So what should I do? Maybe a mix of the two methods? Sprinkle the oil over the noodles after cooking them? Do I need to buy some of that spray bottle garlic juice and just spray the fried noodles with it? I don't even live near the restaurant I used to get them from, so I can't even get their less than satisfactory ones anymore. I need advice!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Cats

Hope everyone had a great New Year. The real Bob did, clearly. Heh. Our new apartment doesn't have anything like enough closet space, so a bunch of my clothes have gone into a bookshelf. Which is, of course, what Noodles has decided is her bedroom. Good thing we have a serious lint brush.


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