Tasty things I have made lately

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but I’ve been finding and perfecting some great recipes lately. From finally getting my pizza dough right, to perfecting my knock-off Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels, (crucial to moi’s enjoyment of Project Runway) I’ve been having a fair amount of success in the kitchen lately.

Last night was strip steaks, marinated in soy sauce, garlic powder and black and red pepper, grilled medium rare, then topped with a 50/50 mix of white queso and horseradish and broiled till brown and bubbly. To accompany that, we the Pioneer Woman’s Crash Hot Potatoes which have become a favorite in our household.

Sometime later, I was Stumbling and came upon a recipe for homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. Let me just say: yum.

Finally, I threw the leftover steak and potatoes in the skillet this morning and had them with an over-easy egg. mmm

So, what are your recent kitchen successes?

Last week, I had moderate success with lemon rosemary halibut. I say “moderate” because I hadn’t cooked halibut before, and decided to cook it outside on the grill. Due to poor time management, I didn’t actually get outside to put it on the grill until 7:30, i.e., after dark. Do you know how hard it is to tell if your fish is done cooking in the dark?

But I thought it was tasty anyway.

My chili recipe continues to do well, though that’s in part due to moi’s help at figuring out how to convert it from a crock-pot to a stove-top recipe.

The last time I made it, it was pretty much completely awesome. Unfortunately, I’ve started to learn how to just wing it, but I haven’t figured out replication in the just winging it department yet. So the most recent batch is pretty good (the new roommate thinks it’s amazing), but it’s not half as good as the batch I sent home with WhyNot in May.

My chicken in blueberry sauce is usually a hit, but I haven’t made it in awhile. It’s too much work for just me.

Oh, and I made a lemon chicken & spinach pasta recently that was pretty good. I’m more pleased with it because I made it up in my head, figured out what it would be missing before I made it, nearly managed to figure out how to get that flavor in it, and it was still good even though I didn’t. Basically, the spinach was the best part of that dish, by far, but the chicken and the pasta were both pretty good too.

Yeah, but my biggest problem remains that cooking for just me is not really happening. My tuna sandwiches are getting better and better, though!

Guacamole. It’s pretty easy if I have good avocados and tomatoes. No amount of spices in the world will save guac made with lousy avocados and tasteless tomatoes.

I made up a nice pasta salad for a picnic today-

orzo pasta

a batch of gremolata (parsley, lemon peel, garlic)
cherry tomatoes, halved
lemon juice
olive oil
salt and pepper

cook pasta

mince together the parsley, lemon peel and garlic, and mint
whisk together lemon juice and olive oil
add the cherry tomatoes, gremolata, mint and dressing.
Season with S&P.

It was pretty good, fresh and bright tasting.

Chicken in Blueberry Sauce? That sounds interesting…care to share the recipe? 'Cuz, ya know, I’m all about the blue…

Corned beef city in our house.

Big ole chunk of corned beef, cooked in the crock pot for about 6-8 hours (12 hours or so on Saturday because I was accompanying himself in the hospital for that time, but that’s neither here nor there. It was STILL GOOD!). Falls apart, the fat & connective tissue makes it all unctuous and lovely. Great for snacking on cold from the fridge the next day.

My other “score” in the kitchen was last week’s chocolate pie…

7 egg yolks
2 tbsp caster sugar
200g best quality dark chocolate (I use lindt 70%)
2 1/3 cups of pouring cream
(Optional) a few drops of orange oil/essence

Blind bake your pastry in a flan tin.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is pale.

Heat the cream over medium heat until just below boiling. Immediately remove from the heat and drop in all of the chocolate (Which you’ve roughly chopped or bashed into oblivion beforehand). Stir the ganache until it’s all smooth and lovely.

Pour gently over the sugary eggs & stir until combined in a thick, chocolate-y custard. Add your orange oil if you’re using, then pour into the cooled flan shell. Bake at 150c for approximately 20 minutes.

It’s like a terry’s chocolate orange in a pie… MMmmmm.

Combining my need to clean out the fridge/freezer/cupboards and money being tight until payday, I made a batch of chicken stock (whenever I roast whole chickens, I save the carcasses in the freezer until I have 2-3 to make stock) and with some of that stock, I made a really tasty batch of beans that we ate with rice. I know that sounds kind of boring, but honestly, they were really good.

I am so going to make those! I just wish there was a way around all that oil. Those will have to be for a day when I’ve done my fair share of cardio.

Spinach quiche–even a hit with my nieces (in theory). In practice, I’d have enjoyed less fulsome praise if accompanied by actual eating of the quiche. Next time I’d use fresh mushrooms, though.

I made two fantastic vegetable pot pies Saturday. One of them went to a friend, and I used a cookie cutter to cut out little hearts on the top of that one. Very cute.

Last week I made TVP sloppy joes in the slow cooker and they were quite tasty.

Pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes in the oven now, and they smell amazing.

I made a pot roast Sunday that just killed.
I think the big improvement was adding a 1/2 cup of demi-glace at the end.

Mine’s very basic midwestern crock-pottery goodness: Loose meat cheeseburgers.

2 pounds of browned and drained ground beef.
1.5 cups of finely diced onions
2 cloves of garlic, minced
18 oz of Velveeta
6T milk
1/2 cup water
pepper and parsley flakes to taste
Let cook in the crock pot on low for 6 hours. Serve on hamburger buns.

You could probably substitute a cooking spray for the oil drizzled on the pan before you put the potatoes on the cookie sheet.

I haven’t made them yet, but I am always on the lookout for new potato recipes and this one sounds easy and tasty!

I also made a bastardized picadillo using a gorgeous pot roast I got on sale (bastardized because the real thing should be made with ground beef, but I prefer the texture of shredded beef instead). It was DAMN good, if I do say so myself.

In my big Le Creuset, I browned the meat in some olive oil, then added six cloves of garlic (peeled), one onion finely minced, six bay leaves, a can of chopped tomatoes, a small can of stuffed green olives, a big handful of raisins and several shakes of cumin, cinnamon and chili powder, plus a dash of cayenne. Then I put it in the oven to braise for 3 hrs at 275F (though I’d imagine you could just as easily use a slow cooker for about 8 hrs on low).

Then I removed the beef and set the pot on the stovetop over medium heat to reduce the sauce. While that bubbled away, I shredded the roast (though it didn’t need much encouragement from me… it was falling apart by then). By the time I was done shredding, the sauce looked to be a good consistency, so I tossed the beef back in and simmered just to warm through.

Very yummy on plain white rice, plus I’ve got enough leftovers to make empanadas later this week.

A few weeks ago I was going to make pineapple upside-down cake, and for no good reason I decided that, instead of pineapple rings, I’d use some canned apple slices that were sitting in the pantry looking lonely.

I melted a stick of butter in a large glass casserole dish, then added 2/3 cup of brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. I drained the canned apples and laid them out in a swirly pattern on the bottom of the casserole dish. I prepared a yellow cake batter (in another container) and dumped the batter on top of the apple/sugar/butter mixture. I baked it at 350º F for 45 minutes, and it wasn’t quite done yet, so I gave it another 10 minutes. I waited until the casserole dish was cool enough to touch, then turned the cake out onto a plate.

It was amazingly tasty. This has become my husband’s favorite cake, and he asks for it often.

Sure thing! I have it written down from when I invented in cooking class for my “final”. This was the first basic idea. I’ve since found it’s better with more lime juice. And I’m not sure the ground ginger adds anything.

Lightly dredge chicken in a mix of flour, salt & pepper.
Sauté in butter.
Deglaze in vodka.
Add sparkling blueberry juice
Add ~2tbsp raspberry jam & dried blueberries
Sprinkle in some ground ginger
Add a small amount (a couple squirts) of lime juice.
Finish with butter.

I got both the blueberry juice and the dried blueberries at Trader Joe’s. These were dried wild blueberries, and pretty small. But always soooo tasty.

Add salt as needed. I have no ideas on proportions on this thing. The last time I made it, my pan was so hot I used far more vodka than expected, but it was good. And the jam need not be raspberry, but just some sort of berry.

Really, it’s quite flexible.

I made this on Sunday ~ spaghetti squash casserole

[ul]bake halved spaghetti squash in oven until tender (350/30 min), turn it out in buttered casserole dish[/ul]
[ul]saute onions, add mushroom, S&P and fresh tomatoes. Cook it down [/ul]
[ul]Add saute to squash, add cup of cottage cheese, mozzarella and some bread crumbs, mix well[/ul]
[ul]Top it off with parmesan and bake uncovered for 25 min at 350.[/ul]

I wouldn’t mind a good VPP recipe, either, if you don’t mind sharing.

An old favourite: paprika lemon chicken

Chicken pieces
1/4 cup plain flour
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons paprika

Lemon Sauce:

2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup oil (I prefer canola)
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1/2 teaspoon grated green ginger
Combine flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a plastic bag. Place the chicken pieces into the plastic bag and coat them with the flour mixture. Put the chicken pieces skin side down in a lightly greased baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 200C. Turn the chicken pieces over and spoon on the lemon sauce. Then cook the pieces for a further 30 minutes.