Monday, January 26, 2009

Sad Day

I read the news today, oh boy...

grab a box of tissues and click here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Carne Asada Tacos

One of my biggest loves and culinary desire...the carne asada taco. Meat, onion, cilantro, avocado. Edible proof that less is more. Growing up in the Bay Area, these were a dietary staple, but this was my first attempt at doing it at home.

There are plenty recipes out their for the meat, but I think one fun part about this food (as is for many) is making it your own. So go out there, grab some steak and play around. Just don't forget the onion, cilantro, and avocado (and the lime of course).

All of the neccessities ready to go

The finished product. Or should I say 2 of the 5 finished products...

Condiment Gun

If anyone feels like being extra nice, I would be ecstatic if one of these appeared on my doorstep one afternoon...

The Condiment Gun

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chicken Parmesan with Smashed Cauliflower

Last night I kicked Katie out of the kitchen (politely). She didn't seem to be too upset, though she did offer her help more than once. I was pretty excited about some recently found recipes and wanted to give them a go. I thought Katie could use a bit of relaxation at the same time. Both recipes were a lot easier than I was expecting, and the taste was great. In personal previous attempts with Parmesans, there have been some major failures. I used a bottle marinara sauce by Barilla. It was surprisingly tasty and could easily be doctored up with some fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil (I don't stand for cute abbreviations around here).

Chicken Parmesan
from yahoo recipes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 large breasts cut into 4 portions or 4 small breasts)
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 6-ounce bags baby spinach
1 cup marinara sauce, preferably low-sodium (see Tip)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
4 soft whole-wheat sandwich rolls, toasted

1. Position oven rack in top position; preheat broiler.
2. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Place chicken between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap. Pound with the smooth side of a meat mallet or a heavy saucepan until the chicken is an even 1/4-inch thickness. Dip the chicken in the flour mixture and turn to coat.
3. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
4. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the pan. Add half the chicken and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a large baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and chicken; transfer to the baking sheet.
5. Top each piece of chicken with the wilted spinach, marinara sauce and Parmesan. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Broil until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Serve on rolls.

Makes 4 servings.

Smashed Cauliflower

from (I am not taking back my e.v.o.o. diss from above, but so everyone is aware, this recipe did come from Her Royal Highness, Rachel Ray. I guess credits given where credits due at completely consumptual).

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

3 cups chicken stock

4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

1 cup shredded white extra-sharp Vermont Cheddar (recommended: Cabot brand)

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano

Coarse black pepper and salt

A generous grating nutmeg

Place cauliflower in a medium shallow pot or pan. Add stock, cover and place pot over high heat. When liquid boils, reduce heat to simmer and cook covered 10 minutes. Remove cover, raise heat to medium high and allow the broth to reduce by half, 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and the cheeses and smash the cauliflower with a masher to the same consistency as desired for mashed potatoes. Season the cauliflower with black pepper, a pinch of salt and nutmeg.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cupcake Tour 2008: Annihilated

For those who read about the Cupcake Tour 2008, or for those who didn't, it was a great time. Cupcakes were abounding and pretty tasty. But there was one thing that bothered all of us on board: Were the cupcakes really worth their cost? I could have told you right then and there that the answer would be no, but at the same time, you can't really put a price on quality family time and trying new foods together.

Today Katie made Coconut Cupcakes for a small get together with some friends. These little cups of coconut dusted heaven are the answer to the store bought cupcake. Forget the trend, the fancy "green" utensils, and all of the clever marketing. This is a darn good cupcake.

Coconut Cupcakes


3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature (3 sticks butter)
2 cups sugar
5 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut


1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature (3 sticks butter)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the
butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to the baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fenton's Creamery

To top off a great holiday break, Katie's parents took us to Fenton's Creamery in the Piedmont area of Oakland, California. If you are ever in the Bay Area, this is a must have. I went a few years ago and got a Reuben Sandwich. The pastrami was delicious and the sauerkraut was right on. I planned on getting this sandwich again and again until I stopped by the 115 year old establishment with Katie. She suggested getting the Crab Salad Sandwich, which I did. This sandwich of all sandwiches blew me away. The most recent trip was my 3rd time getting the Crab Salad and it has yet to disappoint. Of course, no trip to Fenton's would be complete without some sort of sundae. This time we left our standard "Black and Tan" to try the "Cookie Connection." No regrets. The only thing that could be better is if Ice Cream could last in a doggy bag. Fenton's also has a small shop in the Oakland Airport, so if you ever have a layover, treat yourself.

Crab Salad Sandwhich

Cookie Connection

From Fenton's Menu:
Cookie Connection

Crazy for Cookies? Picture this - A cookie creation that
starts with a warm chocolate chip cookie under scoops
of Cookies n' Cream and Cookie Dough ice cream
topped with hot fudge, marshmallow topping, whipped
cream, crushed Oreos and a cherry.

No photoshop tricks here, just a huge sundae

James and Angela ready to dig in

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Tale of Two Curries

The Holidays are wrapping up and Katie and I have returned back to snowy Provo. We had the greatest time over the break and enjoyed lots of wonderful times with family and friends and also got to eat a lot of fantastic food.

August 2nd, 2007, was the first time Katie and I went out. We went to Los Gatos to dine at Thai Spice. We have been back many many times since then and we always order the same thing: Yellow Curry and Pad Thai. It has become, easily, my favorite meal of all time. Every bite is packed with so many different flavors. I would eat it all the time if I could. It is also a great little restuarant with awesome people working there. The atmosphere is really relaxed. After Katies first bite of the curry, she knew she could marry me. Maybe, I made that part up.

Being home also meant homemade cooking. Katie and I are both fortunate to come from families that enjoy both cooking and eating. Katie's mom is pretty exceptional in the kitchen. Our last night in town, she made a red curry that was equally as delicious as something you would sit down and pay for. Enjoy!

Pad Thai with Chicken
Thai Spice, Los Gatos, CA

Yellow Curry with Chicken
Thai Spice, Los Gatos, CA

Thai Red Curry with Chicken
Servings: 4

2 large chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon red curry paste (or more, up to 2 teaspoons)
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped basil

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in saute pan and add chicken. Saute chicken until brown on both sides. Remove chicken from pan. Add curry paste and saute for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add coconut milk, fish sauce and brown sugar. Boil for 5 minutes. While sauce is boiling, slice chicken into thin strips. Add to sauce in pan along with red pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Stir in basil. Serve over plain rice.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Happy Holidays Everyone!

The posts are now going to be featuring recipes!! This time I am serious!

The five-course meal

On February 14th, 2008, I received a Valentine's Day gift any guy would be happy to receive: an I.O.U from Katie for a 5 course meal. The next day, Katie and I decided to get engaged and by the end of the weekend, we had a wedding date set. The next ten months became a whirlwind of schoolwork, finals, weddings, honeymoon, trips to Boston and Orlando, more schoolwork and more finals. But on December 17th, 2008, I redeemed my coupon for my 5 course meal.

1st course: Homemade Butterflake Rolls

These were so good that we ate them before remembering to take a photo. Actually, our camera was just about out of batteries and we wanted to be sure to capture course #5, but in case you were wondering, the rolls were insanely delicious.

Buttery Dinner Rolls
Servings: 12
from Miriam Richins

4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened or melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups warm milk
2 teaspoons salt
7 cups flour, approximate (1/3 whole wheat flour is good)

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in 1 tsp sugar and let stand.
In mixer, mix well the butter, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups warm milk, 2 teaspoons salt. Mix in 2 cups flour.
After yeast has activated, add it to the mixture and blend in. Add 2 more cups flour. Mix well.
Add 2-3 more cups of flour, one at a time, mixing in after each addition.
If hand kneading, knead about 10 minutes. If kneading in mixer, knead 4-5 minutes. Dough will be slightly sticky.
Place dough in a large buttered bowl. Cover and put in a warm place to rise. Let rise until double -- about one
Punch down dough and shape into 24 balls. Put into two 9x13 pans (lightly sprayed or greased). Melt 1/2 cube of
butter and brush over the rolls.
Cover and let rise until double (about one hour).
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top.

2nd course: Baby Spinach Salad with Cranberries, Walnuts, and Bleu Cheese

Something about Bleu cheese and spinach makes for the perfect salad. Katie used a raspberry vinaigrette and red onions which added a good amount of spice and flavor. The walnuts gave good texture and counter balanced the strong flavor and odor of the cheese.

Baby Spinach with Dried Cranberries, Walnuts
and Bleu Cheese
Servings: 4
from Trader Joe's
6 ounces baby spinach
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Combine spinach, onion, walnuts and cranberries. Toss lightly with 2-3 tablespoons of dressing. Sprinkle with
bleu cheese on top and serve immediately.

3rd course: Broccoli and Cheese Soup

This has to be one of my all-time favorite soups. Cheese and broccoli is such a winning combination of flavors and to have it in a soup form...pure genius. Thank you to whoever first put a head of broccoli and a hand full of cheese into a boiling pot. And thank you to Katie, for doing the same.

Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup
Servings: 4
from Pampered Chef

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups low-fat milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
6 ounces sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons chives or chopped green onion tops

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook and stir for 30 seconds or until bubbly.
Add milk, salt, mustard, and cayenne pepper; bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring frequently.
Add broccoli and red pepper; return to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered 5 minutes, stirring
Add cheese; stir over low heat just until cheese melts. DO NOT BOIL. Ladle into four soup bowls; top with chives.

4th course: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Katie told me the day she gave me the I.O.U. that this is what she was planning on cooking. For 10 months I thought about, dreamed about, and salivated about these stuffed bell peppers. Normally, for me, when something is so hyped up, it loses its luster and I am not so impressed. Not quite the case for this meal. The bell peppers were everything they were stuffed up to be. They were packed to the brim with a delicious beef and onion mixture which cooked into a giant meatball surrounded by tomato sauce and pepper. We had leftovers the next day and added some brown rice which turned out to be a great way to add additional flavors to the meal.

5th course: Apple Dumplings a la mode

If you are attempting a new year's resolution to eat healthier and to shed a few pounds, stop now. Feel free to go on if you are into amazing treats. I wish I had more elaborate writing skills to give this dish a bit of the justice it deserves, but suffice it to say...dang. Warm apples, crisp flaky crust, and a delicious caramel sauce. This one has it all.

Apple Dumplings
Servings: 8
From Grandma Cranmer

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup shortening (lard or butter)
1/2 cup milk
6 apples, pared, cored and cut into eighths
sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup butter

Sift flour, salt, baking powder; cut in shortening. Add milk all at once; stir until moistened. Roll 1/4 inch thick; cut
into 5-inch squares. Arrange four pieces of apple on each square; sprinkle generously with sugar, cinnamon, and
nutmeg; dot with butter. Fold corners to center; pinch edges together. Place 1-inch apart in greased baking pan.
Combine syrup ingredients and bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Pour hot syrup over the dumplings in the baking
pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.
Serve hot with cream, or ice cream or whipped cream.