Sunday, January 30, 2011

Crocheted Wire and Bead Necklace: Take 2!

Using the same methodology I used a couple weeks ago to make that fun, brightly colored crocheted necklace, I made this silvery, glassy, ethereal-yet-funky necklace that I'm super excited to wear to work...I love this technique. It looks amazing, but it is so easy and foolproof. It's very forgiving: it doesn't matter if you keep constant tension when doing your chain stitch, and you can also stretch it out the strands if you don't like how it's sitting.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mocha Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

New favorite cookies.
Mocha cookies with white chocolate chips.
Rich and fudgey, with a hint of coffee, chewy in the middle and crisp on the edges.
Yum. The recipe called for instant coffee powder, but I used instant espresso powder. Not sure if it makes a difference... I also threw in a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips in addition to the white chocolate chips, just for shits and giggles.

Cream Cheese Filled Banana Muffins- Partial FAIL?

The day after Thundersnowtrafficpocolypse, the federal government had a 2-hour delayed start... I decided use my 2 hours to make these cream cheese filled banana muffins.
The muffins tasted great- super light and fluffy-but the cream cheese filling was a bit of a FAIL in the sense that it basically melted into the muffin, rather than being a creamy filling. I should have consulted some other recipes for the cream cheese filling methodology- mine was super runny. Other recipes mixed the cream cheese with an egg yolk, rather than the whole egg like the recipe I used. I'll try that next time...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Snowpacolypse/Thundersnow/Traffic Nightmare of 2011 left us at 1346 relatively unscathed... while others in the DC area were sitting in their cars for 13 hours and having babies on the Beltway, I took advantage of OPM's early dismissal for the federal government, made it home pretty quickly on the bus, and made some sweet potato and black been chili and cast-iron skillet cornbread with corn. Chili and cornbread... ain't nothin' wrong with that!
Colleen came over for some intense crafting (the results of which will be posted soon), we chowed down on this warming meal, and we topped if off with some "special" hot chocolate. No better way to spend this year's Thundersnow/Snowpacolypse/Traffic Nightmare.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stacked Veggie Quesadilla

I saw this stacked veggie quesadilla recipe, labeled as a "last minute Super Bowl supper," in the most recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine... we made it tonight while watching the AFC championship game. It's pretty good, but I don't think I'll be serving it at Super Bowl, mostly because it's really hard to eat!!
The flavors were good and it really wasn't very hard (especially since they advocate microwaving pre-cut butternut squash- I cut up my own from the CSA, but did do the microwave thing). However, the stack of tortillas with all of the fillings is super tall and difficult to maneuver. You can't exactly pick it up without it totally falling apart. Part of this difficulty may be due to the fact that we got a little bit overzealous when crisping up our tortillas at the beginning, but I'm not convinced that floppier tortillas would make it any easier to handle.

Just a warning... don't be scared, but definitely bring a fork and knife if you make this!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Recycled T-shirt Scarf

I love the internets... what did we do before they existed?

Today's example of the bounty of the internets is this tutorial for a ridiculously easy fringey t-shirt scarf. Another way for me to use up more of those busted Chuck Norris Experiment t-shirts I've been holding onto for years now since the team disbanded! No sewing involved, just some scissors and a t-shirt. Sweet.
PS: Do you like my new glasses? I love the glasses from Warby Parker- they have the cutest frames. Plus, it's cheap and they give away a pair of glasses to a non-profit for someone in need every time you buy a pair.

Pork Roast with Prunes, Red Wine and Rosemary

I had the girls over for "TV Club," which is basically book club, but instead of reading a book every couple months and talking about it, we watch DVDs of shows from the premium channels that all of us are too cheap to buy. Last round we watched the first 2 seasons of True Blood, which is bloody and campy (and a little confusing if you've read the books), and now we're watching United States of Tara, which is pretty funny and thought-provoking.
Today's meeting was over lunch. Roast pork loin in a rosemary, red wine and prune sauce was the main course. Yes, I know prunes have a bad rep... they even had to change their name to "dried plums" because everyone has such negative associations with prunes. But this recipe was really good! Earthy, rich, fruity, a little sweet... I pureed the sauce while the pork was resting, which I think was a nice touch. Served with Israeli couscous, kohlrabi/carrot/apple salad, and a green mixed salad, topped off with some totally addictive "puppy chow." Pretty tasty all around!

Crocheted Wire and Bead Necklace

Now that I'm 31, I've decided its high time to start cultivating my old lady crafting skillz. So a couple weeks ago I taught myself the basic crochet stitches, in the hopes of making this cute hat from Threadbanger. I think either I need a few more lessons, or I need to learn how to count better, because it's not going great. Not terrible, but not great. Glad I'm using some cheapy practice yarn for my first try. I'll keep y'all posted on the progress on that hat soon...However, my basic crochet skillz are definitely sufficient for making this super simple crocheted wire and bead necklace. Sweet... This necklace came together in less than an hour, but looks pretty complicated and ornate.I didn't have a letter "I" crochet hook as called for in the video. I had a "K," but it worked just fine.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bulgur-Ricotta Pancakes

Hot off the presses (and griddle!)!!

In today's New York Times Dining & Wine section, Mark Bittman (The Minimalist) described some different options for making whole-grain pancakes not taste like lead bricks... one of those recipes was for ricotta and bulgur wheat pancakes with a hint of orange and cinnamon.
I'm not normally a pancake or sweet breakfast person (give me an egg sandwich any day), but for some reason these ricotta pancakes were calling my name. It helps that I had ricotta on hand (leftover from the "lag" rolls last week). These were pretty good! They are substantial, but still light and fluffy, with great flavor from the orange zest and cinnamon. The ones straight off the griddle tasted a lot better than the ones I kept warm in the oven, but I think that's par for the course for any pancakes. Served with McCarthy maple syrup!

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing, Take Two

Remember this tasty salad that I made a couple years back? Yeah, it's still tasty, still easy, still pretty healthy. Try it.This time I served the salad lettuce-wrap style with some Bibb lettuce alongside some rosemary focaccia made from leftover pizza dough. Yum.

Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes

These mini molten chocolate cakes look pretty fancy (when they come out of the mold correctly and intact, which ours didn't), but actually don't take very long... a good week night dessert!
I wish they were a little richer and chocolatey-er. I wonder if maybe Ina's add-coffee-to-chocolate-to-heighten-the-flavor trick might work here...

Chicken Meatball and Noodle Soup

I've been fighting off/dealing with a cold for the past couple days, so Tim and I decided chicken soup might be a tasty and comforting cure-all... Loosely based on these 2 recipes, we ground up some boneless chicken thighs in the food processor, threw them together with ginger, scallion, cornstarch, Sriracha, sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic, and rolled them into little meatballs. Then we seared the meatballs in the soup pot to crisp them up, took them out and set them to the side. Then we threw in a bunch of chicken broth, sliced ginger, scallions, rice wine, soy sauce and Sriracha and let it cook for a while. Strained out the ginger slices, gently dropped the meatballs back in to cook for a few minutes, then threw in some coarsely chopped bok choy and julienne cut carrots at the end.

Pretty good!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pepperoni Rolls for Tim

Tim has been talking about "pepperoni rolls" for months- apparently they're a childhood delight of his. I think he's secretly trying to find a suitable substitute for the pepperoni Hot Pockets he treasures so when he is three sheets to the wind.Conveniently, I made pizza earlier this week and had a bunch of dough leftover... so we gave pepperoni rolls a try. The internets are rife with pepperoni roll recipes, but they all differ- some leave out the sauce, some the cheese. I decided to base mine on a reliable source- yum! Good choice! I think the only change I would make is to add more pepperoni than called for in the recipe, to make the little guys more befitting of the name "pepperoni rolls." Other than that, I think these rolls are ready for center stage on Superbowl Sunday!!Served with a sassy lemon, Parmesan and arugula salad.

Bunny Quilt!

Chuck has been working on these season-by-season cross-stitched bunnies for Jamie for a couple years now... I've tried to chronicle her work, but I missed a few here and there. Today, though, I've got them all together in one place since Jamie recently turned them into a super-cute baby quilt... adorable!

Maple/Apple Pork Chops

These maple and apple pork chops were super easy and really tasty. A little sweet from the apple and maple, but the sweetness is tempered by the mustard and lemon juice. The sauce bubbles up and makes a delicious glaze for the pork.Served with roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon, cumin and chipotle, plus a green salad.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Indonesian Corn Fitters

The TV in the house is perpetually on The Food Network...and I tend not to watch. However, The Best Thing I Ever Ate was on and since the topic was "crunchy" it caught my attention. This was Brian Boitano's pick: Indonesian Corn Fritters from The E & O Trading Company Restaurant. I googled it...and this is what I came up with.

I made a 1/2 recipe...but could have eaten a full one. I used frozen they probably weren't as crunchy as they could have been...but they were still So. Damn. Good.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spicy Lentil Walnut Burgers

Last year, in an attempt to eat healthier, I bought several different types of dried lentils (brown, red, yellow). A short time later, I inherited even more lentils from Amy when she moved across the world to Australia. Since I came into this wealth of lentils, I think I have cooked lentils ZERO times. This needed to change...

Enter the Other Martha's Spicy Lentil-Walnut Burgers... perfect! Spicy, earthy, easy... plus the burgers help me get over one of my main consistency hang-ups with lentils- they get super crispy on the outside if you cook them slow-and-low. The burgers are pretty big, so be sure to get the larger sized pitas. They also fall apart a little bit, which isn't the end of the world, but not very picturesque (sorry!). The leftovers were great the next day heated up in the toaster oven and served over a green salad with feta, olives, and a vinaigrette.

World's Easiest Turkey Chili

This chili recipe might just be added to my weeknight quick-and-easy dinner rotation... and maybe it should make its way into yours, too. No chopping for those knife-averse, cooks in 20 minutes for those short on time, uses exclusively pantry staple ingredients for those too lazy to hit up the grocery store, makes enough leftovers for those, like me, who have been dropping too much cash at crappy sandwich joints by the office, and, finally, it tastes pretty good!I made a couple small changes that worked pretty well: used 1 lb of ground turkey rather than chicken, black beans instead of pinto, and substituted a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce where the recipe calls for soy sauce. Switch it up to your taste!

Served with some baked tortilla chips, cheddar, avocado, cilantro and sour cream.

Spinach "Lag" Roll-ups!

Inspired by an entry on my new favorite website, Tim and I made "lag" rolls for dinner last week, and they were really good. Inspired by recipes from Giada "Boobs" De Laurentis and Rachael Ray, we tried this somewhat unorthodox way of making spinach "lag" by rolling up the ricotta and spinach mixture in the cooked lasagna noodles... loved 'em! The rolls hold together really well and are easier to serve than traditional lasagna. I made the bechamel sauce from Giada's recipe and followed her spinach/ricotta directions, too, but I also added more veggies to the mix by sauteeing some grated carrots, mushrooms and onions in garlic and olive oil, then adding it to the marinara sauce. Pretty good!

PS: You can't abbreviate lasagna.
PPS: ok.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Nibbles

We had an awesome New Year's Eve: lots of delicious food, champagne and playing board games and Wii (Just Dance 2 = super fun!).
At Tim's request and to Meghan's delight, I made old-school cheese balls, one just cheddar, one blue cheese and cheddar, both rolled in walnuts, both pretty tasty. I used a recipe from my ancient Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Better Homes and Gardens is not responsible for the suggestive knife placement, however.I also made 2 types of cute puff pastry swirly things: one with prosciutto, Dijon and Romano, a riff off of Joy the Baker's recipe, and one with feta and spinach. Both tasted great (although the Romano may have been a tad salty, but it's what I had in the house), can be served hot or at room temperature, and the leftovers also reheated well in the oven the next day. Plus, as I said, they were pretty cute.Liz made these awesome mini-roast beef sandwiches with melty Havarti, peach preserves, and chopped walnuts- so good! Plus, they sounded fairly easy to put together, which is always a bonus.Chuck successfully remade a couple of the deviled egg recipes we tried a few months ago... the Sriracha eggs still kick ass, and the herbed deviled eggs are a step up from the usual eggs (although the recipe makes waaaay too much filling). We also had some cute mini-quiches, corn and bead salad, excellent pumpkin bread and other tasty delights...