Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Last night I got home from work craving good food. Specifically, something made with portabella mushrooms. I decided on a portabella parmesan risotta, made with veggie broth of course. There is nothing like a warm risotto on a cold fall or winter night. I also made sweet potato fries seasoned with cinnamon, curry powder, and paprika. I know the flavors don't exactly mix with portabella risotto, but its what I wanted damnit. Of course I got about 20 minutes into cooking and my fiance tells me the movie we're going to is at 7, not 730 like I though. I switched gears and quickly made myself a veggie burger while everything else finished cooking. So, my lovely risotto is still waiting for me, in its cute little container, in the fridge at work. Unfortunately because I was in such a hurry to get things done I also forgot to write down what I was doing... I really have to get better at that. And pictures, I've got to get better at pictures too... Any advice on food photography?

Tonight I'm thinking of making quinoa with veggie sausage and chopped carrots to go with some roasted acorn squash.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

I also write for the super awesome website We Heart This, which primarily reviews make up, skin care, and hair products. But we also like to get our girl on with crafts, movies, books, and of course food. My pumpkin pie recipe was just posted, and you can check it out here.

Last night I made a veggie burger topped with sauteed portabellas and fresh mozzarella. It was so delicious I ate it way too fast. Then we went to a movie and I discovered that the theater by my house now has Might Leaf teas. It was an all around awesome night.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oh cheese, what am I to do with you?

I love cheese. When I first switched to vegetarian I decided I was going to be lacto ovo. Meaning I eat dairy and eggs. I currently get most of my protein from eggs, usually eating at least 1 a day. But the farther I get into this life the more I think of giving up cheese as well. I don't get much in the way of benefits from it the way I currently eat. Every time I eat something at a restaurant with cheese on it I feel like its overly greasy and heavy. I also switched to coconut milk about 6 months ago... So, is my body just not liking cheese anymore? Do I really need to eat it? I'd still eat things that were made with dairy (hello buttermilk pancakes!). And I don't think I could ever fully give up goats cheese is many of its various forms. So maybe I should say, do I stop buying it? We almost always have cheese in the house for The Man to snack on, so, maybe I will just stop buying it for myself and see what happens.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Going to the veggie side.

I know its been about a million years since I posted. Life got away from me. Things changed. I didn't have a lot of energy for cooking. I've done some reorganizing of my thinking and come to realize how important it is to me to continue to work on creating food that my family and I can enjoy. Especially since I've decided to become a vegetarian, who lives with and cooks for a meat eater. I am still eating eggs and dairy products (though I am trying to cut back on cheese, why I will never know since cheese is amazing). I never did eat much fish but might occasionally have shrimp.

Also, I realized I suck at food photography. Anyone want to give me any lessons?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Curry Lentin Soup version 2 with Chipotle marinated Shrimp

So sorry for the long delay, I haven't been cooking much, and have had unfortunate priorities of my free time that have taken me away from blogging.

Anyone who lives in Minneapolis can tell you that it's still winter. Or at least very early spring. After a week or two of mild weather it's been raining/snowing/freezing since the middle of April. When I left my house this morning, May 2, there was freezing rain pellets falling on my head. So what was originally planned to be ginger lime shrimp with sesame carrot salad was instead chipotle and chili marinated shrimp with yellow curry lentil soup. Unfortunately I didn't actually write down exactly what I did. So I'm going to attempt to get this down, to the best of my skills, before I forget any ingredients. I'll edit this post in the future when I refine the recipe.

This was a perfectly portioned meal for 3 adults.

Shrimp - 18 pieces 26x30 devained (I removed the shell myself, having forgotten what a pain that is, I wont be doing it again)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
1 heaping teaspoon fresh Ginger paste
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Penzeys Chili 3000
1 teaspoon diced garlic
2 medium chioptle peppers, canned in adobe sauce
(note - I think this marinade would be great with pork or chicken as is, for beef I would replace the sesame oil with balsamic vinegar)

Mix everything together, crushing the peppers with the back of a spoon, add the shrimp, coating completely, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. I let mine go for 3 hours. Skewer the shrimp and cook on a grill for about 5 minutes on eat side, or until shrimp are firm and opaque.

Originally I was planning to make curry scented lentils. This was a last minute change of plans after I was told by The Man that sesame carrot salad was simply not going to be enough with 6 shrimp, and really wasn't the best choice on a cold windy day anyways. He was right, and this ended up being a much better option, and the taste was perfect with the shrimp. Once again, I wasn't paying a lot of attention to what I was doing, but this was so quick and so delicious I'm going to get it written down, and try it again soon so I can refine the measurements. I really need to start measuring things while I'm cooking.

1 cup red lentils
3 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons dehydrated roasted garlic pieces
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and stir often for 20 minutes. Serve hot. Yes, it really was that simple. I'm not sure how it would work with other types of lentils, since it's my experience that red are softer.

I served the shrimp on the side of the soup, because I wasn't sure how my family would enjoy them combined, in the future I will simply set the shrimp on top of the soup, as I fully intend to make this meal again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Risotto - a few variations

I've been on a risotto kick recently. It goes so well with everything, chicken, pork, steak, and it's so easy to make. I think a lot of people are intimidated by it, because you have to pay attention to it. But I think it's a great quick side to make if you're going to have to be at the stove watching other things cook anyways, or while something finishes roasting in the oven.

1 cup aborio rice - this used to be hard to find, but these days I can get it at any grocery store, next to the other "fancy" rices
1 box of stock, vegetable, chicken, or beef all work just fine.
1 shallot, chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped dried roasted garlic, or regular garlic - See below
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 Tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup white cheese, I use parmesan or feta
splash of white wine (I usually use this as a good excuse to have a glass while I'm cooking)

Saute the aborio rice and the shallot in the olive oil till rice is lightly browned. If using fresh garlic add it in this first step, if using dried garlic add it with the broth. Add the broth, about a quarter cup at a time to start, making sure you are stirring while you add it, and that none of the rice is sticking to the bottom of the pan. You want to keep the heat set so that the rice is simmering when you add the broth. Keep adding broth and stirring until the rice is cooked through, its generally about 3 cups but can vary depending on the temperature it's boiling at and the rice itself. Stir in the butter, and cheese and wine if using, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

I get dried roasted garlic at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, this is the website for the dealer who sells it, but I can't find it on their website right now.

Tri-Color Chicken Noodle Soup

We've got a couple of major house projects going on right now. We're completely re-decorating our basement and finishing re-finishing our kitchen. We will also be changing my office into a second guest room in preparation for a friend staying with us through the summer. And we have to do it all as cheaply as possible now that I've been laid off. Luckily we have a friend who used to build houses and accepts payment in food. Last Saturday I made this chicken noodle soup, with cheddar bacon corn bread from the King Arthurs Flour cookbook. Unfortunately the recipe isn't online, but I will post it soon because it was very delicious and I've already been asked to make it again.

1 Tblsp olive oil
2 medium shallots, dices
1 Tblsp garlic, diced
1 pound chicken tenders
2 1/2 boxes chicken broth
1 small bag baby carrots
4 bell peppers diced, this is where the tri-color comes in, I used 1 orange, 1 yellow, and 2 red to balance out the corn and carrots.
8 ounces of corn kernels, approximately
1 can Hunts Diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper, or more to taste
1 large pinch rubbed sage
3 small leaves fresh basil, chopped
3/4 tsp diced rosemary
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp cumin, or more to taste
3-4 cups wheat penne, cooked separately

Caramelize the shallots and garlic in olive oil. Continue to cook until the shallots are mostly clear, and add the chicken tenders, leaving them whole. Add just enough chicken broth to cover the chicken and simmer till cooked through. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the good flavors. Remove the chicken tenders and set aside. Add the carrots, corn, and 1 box of the broth, cook for about ten minutes. Add peppers, tomato, and dice the chicken and add it back in as well. Add remainder of broth, seasonings, and cook until vegetables are as soft as you would like. Add the penne and let sit for a few minutes to warm the noodles. Soup is done!

Everyone really enjoyed this soup, I will certainly be making it again. It was great for a winter lunch, and I think will be wonderful in the summer when I can get all of the vegetables fresh from the farmers market as well. I recommend freezing the leftovers, so the noodles don't soak up too much broth and get too soft. Like I mentioned, I served it with a bacon cheddar corn bread, next time I think I'll stick with a regular corn bread as this soup can certainly hold it's own flavor wise.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

When The Man joined a new office right before Christmas I sent a lot of my extra baking in with him. Since then he regularly brings home requests from his workers. The most recent was for peanut butter cookies, which I think was just an excuse to get me to make them since they're his favorites. I don't make them very often because my recipe is a little messy. But the results are worth it.

1/2 cup butter, very soft - this is important, the butter wont mix well with the honey and peanut butter if its not soft enough.
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar + extra for decoration
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and use greased baking sheets for this recipe, or parchment paper.
Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, and set aside.
Cream the butter and honey together till completely incorporated, add the sugar and mix well. Mix in the peanut butter, scrape the bowl often to make sure the ingredients are completely incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, continuing to scrape the sides of the bowl completely. Fold in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated, but don't over mix. Chill the dough for a half hour, scoop out 1-1 1/2 inch balls of dough, flatten using the bottom of a glass coated in sugar. Bake for 13-15 minutes, cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. This is where the parchment paper comes in handy, you can just pick up the entire sheet and move it to a wire rack. I get about 3 dozen cookies from this recipe, but it all depends on the size of your cookies.

This is one of those recipes where you really have to make sure all of the wet ingredients are very well mixed before you add the dry, I've been making these cookies for ten years and the first few times I'd end up with big lumps of plain butter or peanut butter or sugar. I like to use a hand held mixer instead of my kitchen aid, because its easier to get to the sides and bottom of the bowl. I use a drinking glass with a star burst pattern on the bottom to press the cookies. It gives them a unique design. I just spray the bottom of the glass with nonstick spray and press it into a bowl of sugar. I usually have to respray it every 4 cookies or so. These were a huge hit at his office, and there were a couple of requests for the recipe, so here it is.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Black Bean Chicken Chili

A couple of weeks ago I had lots of ingredients and nothing that worked together. I also had chicken that I needed to get cooked. It was one of those nights where the food you have to cook is not the food you planned to cook. Suddenly I was improvising. More then once these have turned out to be some of my best meals, which is why I started keeping a notebook in my kitchen to write things down as I go. I'm hoping to get my new camera figured out soon so I can start putting some pictures of the finished products up with the recipes. Until then you will just have to trust me that this looked great with some shredded cheese on top and a big dollop of sour cream.

This was planned to be something more like an italian soup, and ended up as a nice thick chicken chili. With lentils.

1/2 white onion diced
1 teaspoon garlic diced
1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cubed
1 can dice tomatoes with jalapeno, I used Hunts Petite Diced with Zesty Jalapeno - It's been in my house for months so I'm glad I finally got it used up.
1-2 teaspoons (or more to taste) of Penzy's Chili 3000 - the best chili powder I've ever found
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 large can black beans, well rinsed
1 1/2 32 oz box of Beef broth - see note below
4 shakes of red chili pepper flakes - using a standard shaker like the ones you see at pizza places
2/3 cup red lintels

Saute the onion and garlic until they begin to brown, add the chicken and cook till half done. Add tomatoes with juice, and boil for 1 - 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper and cook for about 1 minute. I add the seasonings before the broth so they have some time to cook, I think it helps develop and blend the flavors. I usually season again towards the end, to get the flavor just right. Add black beans, and 1 box broth and bring to low boil. Simmer until it's beginning to thicken, add the lentils and remaining broth, and cook 30 minutes until lentils are soft.

You could skip the lentils if you have time to let it boil down on it's own, I was getting very hungry and wanted to thicken it up quickly. That being said, I loved the lentils in this, made it a little different from my standard chili, which is a white chicken chili. Also, I used beef broth with chicken because it's what I had and I needed to use it up. Normally I wouldn't mix chicken and beef like that, but I really liked it in this, and I think it went very well with the black beans and the lentils. I might even do it on purpose next time. If someone makes this with chicken broth please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crispin Cider Beef Stew

This year for Christmas I received a very nice blank recipe book from a good friend. That means I need to fill it up. On a recent grocery trip I decided at the last minute to get the ingredients for beef stew, which of course means I forgot a few things. Which lead to a little improvisation, and a new "secret ingredient". This is a great new stew that I will definitely be making again.

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Large Tablespoon garlic
1 purple onion, diced
1 pound beef or lamb stew meat - I used beef the first time, and I can't wait to make it again with lamb
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 pinches rubbed sage
1 heaping spoon tomato paste
5 small yellow potatoes
2 handfulls baby carrots, or 4 regular carrots, diced
1 regular box Swanson beef broth
2 long splashes worcestershire sauce

I caramelized the garlic and onion in a tablespoon of oil. I like to use Smart Balance Vegetable oil, veggie oil because it has a lower smoke point, Smart Balance because The Man's family has a history of heart problems. I added the stew meat and cooked it till browned, letting the pan build up a good amount of coating. Pour the cider down the sides of the pan and stir well, bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is reduced by 2/3. Season the meat and cook for 1 minute, add tomato paste, broth, and vegetables. Bring stew to a boil, add worcestershire sauce, and reduce to simmer till thickened as desired. I found that using the cider made for a very well rounded flavor. The Lansdowne is made with organic molasses and Irish Stout yeast. That makes it a very beer-like cider, or as the official Crispin PR says "Unfiltered Extra Stout Bodied Super-Premium Export Quality". There is a great review of it here on Will Write For Beer. I've had plenty of it in my day, and the large bottle means there is plenty of it left over to enjoy with a big bowl of stew.