Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hearty, but not Heavy -- Shepherd's Pie

fun fact: my apartment is so cold, the sauce oil in my instant noodle packet congealed.

fun fact II: my apartment is so cold, that even after two hours on the counter, the butter barely softened.

fun fact III: a space heater works more effectively when you put it in an open area, instead of cramming it into a tiny little space...(i.e., the room is warmer now that the space heater isn't trapped under my desk where my feet are)... :P

Wellll, it's been extra cold these past two days (DUDE, snow in the bay area!  last time this happened was... 3 or 4 years ago?  yeeah), and I was extra hungry today, so I reeeally wanted to try this Shepherd's Pie recipe I saved from Allrecipes~  Since I made a slightly altered and somewhat reduced version, I'll fully explain it here.

Essentially, this shepherd's pie was layers of stuff:
mashed potatoes au gratin (= cheese topping ;D), over
mashed carrots (plain), over
fully-cooked ground beef and onions

Because I am lazy (and because I've had a box sitting around since the beginning of the school year..), I used instant mashed potatoes...the dried flakes that come in a packet, that you add to milk, water, and butter.  IT IS DELICIOUS, no matter how weird it is... and it worked just fine for this recipe.  meh.

 Ingredients (for approx. 1 qt. casserole, a fairly small size, especially convenient for households of...one)
  • 1 packet from the box of seasoned mashed potatoes (enough for 2 people, it says..)
  • 1/2 a shallot, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped into large pieces (you might actually want another half or whole carrot)
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped (I used a "sweet onion"..it looked yellow?)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef (I'm not sure how much I actually used...it was probably more)
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 c. beef broth
  • 2 tsp. Hoisin sauce
  • Several generous handfuls of grated cheddar cheese
  • oil for frying, milk/butter/water for potatoes (follow the instructions, yeeeah), a little bit of salt
Note: I was also going to add some canned corn, but the leftover corn from a can I opened...a while ago (maybe two weeks?)..was ALREADY MOLDY.  :(  ewww.  greenish blue spots and all, yo.  Instead, I added a layer of zucchini slices (1/2 a zucchini) to the individual casserole.


    Depending on how long it takes for your oven to heat, and how long you take to make the layers, remember at some point in the recipe to preheat your oven to 375°F.
    1. Boil some salted water, and when it's rolling right along, add the carrots, and wait for the water to boil again.  Boil until carrots are soft-ish (approx. 5-7 minutes).  Dump out the water and mash the carrots until lumps are whatever you will tolerate. Laver 2, ready!
    2. Make the mashed potatoes; while still warm, add a handful (according to the original recipe halved, "2 tbsp") of cheddar cheese.
    3. Saute the shallots in a liiittle bit of oil  until they are fragrant and starting to go clear.  Remove from heat and add into potato/cheese mixture.  Layer 1, ready!
    4. Heat some oil over medium, medium-high heat (depends on how patient you are, ahahaha...), and cook the onion until pieces are clear.  Add the ground beef and cook till well browned.  At this point you can either pour off the fat, or just leave it in the pan like a certain lazy recipe writer (hey, I bought the 90/10 instead of the 80/20 for a reason..gosh, what we're willing to pay for convenience..).
    5. Sprinkle flour over beef and stir in until you don't see anymore white powder.  Cook for 1 minute, then add the beef broth and Hoisin sauce (the original recipe called for ketchup, which I don't have--not even stolen packets from In-n-out or McDonald's or the dining commons, sad, I know).  Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.  Or slightly longer than that, depending on how long you forget about it. >_>;;;
    6. Remove beef from heat. Layer 3, ready!  Now it's time for casserole-assembly.  HOW EXCITING.
    7. Because homemade frozen food is infinitely cooler than commercial, store-bought, chock-full-of-preservatives frozen food, I followed the process described in this Just Bento article (it's really short, no worries) to make a bunch of muffin-tin sized pies that I can nuke(or toast)-and-eat through finals week (instead of wasting hours upon happy hours cooking).  I made eight muffin-sized (..in a muffin tin), and one individual dinner-sized one (typical Marie Callendar potpie-size?) in a 2-cup round pyrex container.

    8. Pour the beef and onions into the bottom layer, spread some mashed carrots over that, top with a scoop of mashed potato, cover generously with cheese, and pop it in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  It is recommended that you check on it after 15 minutes, and every 3-5 minutes after that it remains in the oven.

    9. Remove it when done.  If you want to freeze anything, let it cool to room temperature first (or if your room is like mine, it's near equivalent to a refrigerator..oh wow, the temperature's below freezing outside..32°F), then pop the mini-pies into the freezer.  If you have room, you can shove the whole tin in, or if there isn't as much space, carefully remove the pies from the tin and freeze them on a plate or something.  After they're thoroughly frozen, put in a freezer bag (I haven't bothered with foil yet...we'll see how that turns out) and leave in the freezer bag until the next time you're hungry.  While you're waiting for the to-freeze-pies to cool, though, enjoy the rest of your pie fresh, warm and toasty. :)
    A tip I learned from Joy of Cooking about cooking stuff in muffin tins (not sure if it only has to apply to muffins, you know?):  if there are any empty cups, fill them with a few tablespoons of water before baking; this prevents stuff in the filled cups from getting too dry.  It also allows for more even heat distribution throughout the pan. :)  That's usually a good thing in baking, yeah?

    Fun Fact Finale: I have an unfortunate tendency to forget about the stuff I put in the oven, especially when I start using the laptop while waiting for it to cook. :P  Thanks to this, many cookies have come close, and some lost, to burnt disaster.

      Friday, November 27, 2009

      Chicken and Dumplings

      A few weeks ago, one of my friends, Danni, got appendicitis. A group of us went down to visit her in the hospital. It was fairly late, our bus wasn't arriving for another 45 minutes and we were starving so we headed down to the hospital food service area. They had some soup and dumplings. Personally I only got a single dumpling and some gravy which fetched an odd look from our cashier. The dumpling was split between 3 people and was so yummy that I just had to go back for more. Who would have known a lump of dough could be so tasty?

      For Chicken Soup
      • cooked chicken carcass 
      • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
      • 5 cups boiling water
      • 2 celery stalks, 1/2 inch pieces
      • 1 large carrot, 1/2 inch pieces
      • 1 t dried thyme
      • salt and pepper to taste
      For Dumplings
      • 2 cups flour
      • 2 T baking powder
      • 1/2 t salt
      • 1/2 t sugar
      • 1/4 cup melted butter
      • 1/2 c milk
      1. In a large saucepan, start heating up the chicken pieces, letting it get aromatic along with the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, the onions don't have to be soft yet.
      2. Add the 5 cups of water to the chicken, and celery, carrots,  thyme and salt and pepper. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. 
      3. While the stock is cooking, start making the dumpling dough. Mix all the dry ingredients together, and then the butter, and slowly mix in the milk until it forms a dough. Knead the dough maybe 8 times. Form the dough into 1.5 inch diameter balls. Set aside.
      4. When the broth has finished simmering, fish out the chicken carcass pieces. Pick off any remaining meat and place in the broth. The broth should still have onion, carrot, and celery pieces.
      5. Place the dough balls into the simmering water and place a lid on the pan. Do not open for at least 15 minutes as the dough is cooking in the steam. When the dumplings are ready they should float to the top, enlarged and fluffy. Check to make sure the insides are cooked by inserting a toothpick. If they are not done, cook for another 5-10 minutes with the lid on.
      6. When the dumplings are ready, serve the soup and dumplings together immediately.

      Wednesday, November 25, 2009

      Salmon Provencal

      This is what fresh fish should taste like. Simple but beautifully soft and succulent.
      I got the recipe from Simply Recipes but again I made a few modifications.

      • 2 Fresh Salmon Fillets
      • Olive oil for baking Salmon
      • 2 T Olive Oil
      • 1 T Balsamic Vinegar
      • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
      • 1/2 t Dried Thyme
      • Salt and Pepper
      • 2 Springs Green Onion, chopped
      • 1 Medium Tomato, diced
      • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
      1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
      2. Place the salmon on a greased baking dish, drizzling olive oil on the fish. Salt and pepper to taste.
      3. In a small bowl, mix together the 2 Tablespoons of oil with the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and thyme. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice onto the salmon.
      4. Place the salmon in the oven for 10-12minutes, until pink and just barely cooked through. There may be some cooked fat collecting around the salmon.
      5. Serve the fish immediately topped with the green onions, tomatoes, and garlic and then the oil, balsamic mixture drizzled on top. Garnish with a lemon slice. 
      6. Goes well over a bed of pasta, rice, or spinach.

      Tuesday, November 24, 2009

      Lemon Butter Prawn Pasta

      I happened to have all the ingredients on hand so this was a delicious midnight snack after playing pool at the pub. It's incredibly easy to put together, I think it took me 15 minutes total. But it's also a recipe that demands top-notch ingredients.

      I got the recipe from bbc , I changed it a little bit which I'll just retype here. 
      • small handful of linguine or spaghetti (enough for 1)
      • 1/4 c butter
      • 1/2 c raw peeled prawns , preferably tiger prawns
      • squeeze lemon juice
      • small handful flatleaf parsley , roughly chopped
      • salt and pepper
      1. Prepare your pasta according to the package directions.
      2. When your pasta is nearly done, melt half your butter on low heat in a saucepan, then saute your prawns in the butter for about 1.5 min. 
      3. Squeeze your lemon over the shrimp, and add the parsley and remaining butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another minute.
      4. Take the shrimp off the heat immediately and try one to see if it's at the right consistency for you. Better to start off undercooking than to end up with rubbery expensive seafood.
      5. If it's to your satisfaction just pour the entire prawn butter concoction over your pasta and enjoy!

      Thursday, November 19, 2009

      Apple Turnovers

      Well first off, college kitchens are not conducive to baking. I ended up making these turnovers without a rolling pin, pastry brush, or more importantly an oven. Instead, I made due with a good deal of palm pressing, a wooden spoon, and a microwave oven with an oven setting. Okay, so they ended up a bit underdone, but I blame the microwave oven.

      • 1 large granny smith apple
      • 2 T sugar
      • 1 t ground cinnamon
      • 1 egg
      • 1 sheet of puff pastry
      1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
      2. Hopefully, you got a sheet of puff pastry and not a block of it. If you did get a block, roll it out into a square like shape of about 14x14 inches (or larger) The dough should be 1/4" thick. Cut the dough into 4 7x7 inch squares
      3. Cut the apple into thin wedges, the apple should make about 16. Coat these wedges in a mixture of the sugar and cinnamon. Make sure they are well covered.
      4. Scramble the egg in a small bowl, and using a fork.
      5. Brush the egg onto the edges of each of the puff pastry squares with a pastry brush.
      6. Place 4 or so wedges onto each square. 
      7. Now fold the squares over diagonally, to make little triangular turnovers. Be sure get all the apple within them, and then pinch the edges close.
      8. Place the turnovers in the baking dish
      9. Brush the tops of the turnovers with the egg wash, and cut 2-3 slits on the tops of the turnovers for steam to come out.
      10. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately

      Tuesday, November 17, 2009

      Simple Lasagna

      Mmm. I think we all crave a good cheesy lasagna every now and again. My flatmates had just brought back two huge lasagnas in a row from home, and I decided to make my own. The one problem with lasagna is that they come in huge boxes of like 20+ noodles, and you can never use them all up, without having to buy another box. This recipe is really quick for a lasagna recipe. Makes a 9x9 pan.

      • 8 Lasagna Noodles
      • 1 lb Ground Beef
      • 2 T ketchup
      • 1 T mixed herbs
      • 2 T fresh parsley
      • Salt and Pepper to taste
      • 1/2 onion, chopped
      • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
      • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
      • 4 cups store-bought pasta sauce
      • 3 large tomatoes, sliced
      1. Start off by soaking the lasagna noodles in hot water for about 15 minutes.
      2. Mix the ground beef with the ketchup, herbs, parsley, and salt and pepper. 
      3. Brown the beef mixture with the onion in a frying pan for about 7 minutes until the meat gets dark, and the pan is full of juices.
      4. Place four of the lasagna noodles in a layer on the bottom of your lasagna pan.
      5. Spread half the ricotta cheese on the noodles, and then half the meat fry. Top with 2 cups of pasta sauce and half of the mozzarella cheese.
      6. Repeat with the remaining ingredients
      7. Top the entire thing with the tomato slices and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

      Monday, November 16, 2009


      I'm finally putting that absolutely lovely gift basket of bento supplies into good use.   THANK YOU AGAIN!! ♥ it was like finding a baby on the porch...only much quieter and less worrying. ;D

      My favorite online bento resources:
      Lunch in a Box -- the emphasis on food safety, healthy cooking, and speed-packing are ♥
      Just Bento and Just Hungry -- same owner, similar excellent material; special emphasis on diet/healthy bento
      Cooking Cute -- one of the first sites I found; sadly inactive for more than a year now, but still full of useful info, some neat recipes, and lovely pictures
      Freakin' Tasty Bento -- this is actually a link to a specific entry: "Bento for Cheap Bastards"; it's a nice little reality check with practical advice :)

      all links in food item names go to recipes~

      Bento 1!
      Top (actually it's the bottom compartment, haha~): white rice (sprinkled w/ green onions post-photo)
      Bottom: mini banana-choco muffin; dried mango slices; mock-Italian hamburger halves; balsamic-stir fried bell peppers

      (sad story: I flipped it off the table while I was eating, so the mini-muffin and some of the mango slices became not-edible ;-;  oh well.)

      Bento 2!
      Left: Curry-fried rice -- heat leftover curry in frying pan, add rice, heat thoroughly and stir until fairly dry; there was a layer of plastic wrap b/t the rice and the container so it wouldn't be as smelly :P
      Right: Trader Joe's gyoza over spinach; one slice of dried mango; chocolate mochi squares; fruit jelly cups

      Bento 3!
      This is the triangular onigiri case~ :)
      Top: Soboro-stuffed onigiri (soboro is easy!  awesomely tasty!  eat it with plain rice for dinner!)
      Bottom: Hard boiled egg (not cut very cleanly..>_>;;), blanched snow peas
      the persimmon is table decoration :P

      Bento 4!
      Left: blanched bok choy stalks and leaf-rosette; tamagoyaki w/ nori filling; leftover pasta and sauce
      Right: gingersnap halves; dried mango slices; fruit jelly cup; frozen-then-reheated curry-flavored beef and potato croquettes

      Bento 5!  BIG (3-person) picnic lunch~
      Top: Soboro-stuffed (rounds w/ seaweed wrap), plain rice onigiri (triangles); chicken; zucchini
      Bottom: dessert tray; balsamic green beans and red bell pepper pieces

      Lemon Chicken Nuggets and Pan-fried Zucchini (used Country Crock margarine--ahahaha yeah i know i said i never use it in baking, but i do use it in sandwiches and stuff--instead of oil)

       Dessert: Coconut jello (from a packet; I added less water than recommended so they'd be a little firmer) and blueberries

      And then, because this meal was just too healthy, we went and ate $1-a-scoop ice cream. :]
      Pumpkin flavor = oooomgsh good.  Next time you come to Berkeley, we're going!!

      Sunday, November 15, 2009

      Recipe Recommendations [I]

      Not everything I make comes from the amazing, fermented brilliance of my mind.

      In fact, quite a lot of it originates in other people's recipes, especially those of the huuuuge community at Allrecipes.com~

      here are some of the things I've made from there that are worth trying for yourself :D
      1. Gingersnaps!  they don't snap, but they're sweet, spicy, and deliciousss
      2. Soft Sugar Cookies IV -- ahh they're kinda cakey.  really yummy~~
      3. Rasberry and Almond Shortbread Thumbprints -- oooh they're rather buttery.  but an excellent, homemade substitution for those knott's jelly-filled cookies i used to often buy from the vending machines at school.
      4. Easy Fruit Cobbler -- made this with apple slices leftover from an apple pie~  a very bread-like base, and i'd like to try it again with peaches or some other fruit..maybe plums?  mmm..
      5. Black Magic Cake -- AHHH it's wonderful.  and wonderfully easy.  definitely making it again, and trying it with frosting~  (last time it was totally finished even w/o, kept fairly moist for 3-4 days, maybe more!)
      6. Quiche Lorraine -- haha, it's not sweet or a cookie.  it's SAVORY and supersuper good.  also very easy, and open to modification, like adding spinach~
      7. Chicken and Apple Curry -- i made a couple modifications, like cooking it on the stovetop and chopping the chicken breasts into cubes, but the heart and taste of the recipe was still there.  my first successful curry ♥
      8. Caramelized Pork Slices -- a little bit sweet, but still quite good.  I'd make it again :)
      9. Spam Musubi --It's so simple that you really only need the recipe the first time; the marinade was tasty, but since i'm usually kinda pressed for time, i don't mind frying the sliced spam straight-from-the-can; also, as long as you're using a non-stick pan, you don't really need oil to fry spam...it's plenty greasy on its own..

      click to see full-size! :D

      • I never use shortening or margarine... if they're in any recipe, i always replace them with butter.  I do so because shortening scares me, and butter somehow scares me less by being uhhh "natural".  it just seems easier to trust. :P
      • The recipes listed here are simple & ones I haven't made much modification to; they can be followed pretty much as-is (or by reading one or two of the reviews); only the butter thing, halving recipe yields (i usually only cook for 1 person...and for one person to finish everything...too much, yeah?), and ummm dropping-out-spices-because-i-don't-have-them
      I went through a whole pound of butter in about one week.
      ((just thought I'd mention it.))

      Saturday, November 14, 2009

      Sangria and Seafood Paella

      Went to Spain for the last couple of days and I took a "cooking" class. Well, I watched someone else make food more-like but here were the recipes, and they were delicious. 


      Tools required:

      · A jug / pitcher.
      · A wooden spatchulla.
      · Thirst.


      · Fruit, washed and chopped (orange, lemon, apple, peach…).
      · White sugar.
      · Brandy and fruit liquour if you like such as peach snaps.
      · Red wine.
      · Orange and lemon soda, or juice.
      · Ice.


      Place the fruit in the jug, add the sugar and the brandy (count until 3 or 23) and mix with the spatchulla.

      Then 2/3 of red wine and top up with the soda / juice.

      Serve chilled or with ice and carefull, it’s so sweet, refreshing and easy-drinking, you may get under ground before you realize.


      In 10 easy steps

      Tools required:

      · Fire (or it’s electric equivalent).
      · A flat pan (a flat frying pan but not a wok).
      · A wooden spatchulla.
      · Hunger and patience.


      · Prawns.
      · White fish, boneless and skinless, in chunks.
      · Calamari rings / squid fish.
      · Mussels / clams, clean.
      · Olive oil.
      · Onion and garlic, chopped.
      · Red pepper/capsicum, courgette/zuccini, green asparragus, carrot, green peas, green beans or any other seasonal vegetable of your choice, chopped small.
      · Tomatoes, blended.
      · White rice (long grain if you don’t want a mashy paella).
      · Fish broth.
      · Olive oil.
      · White sugar.
      · A pinch of safron.


      1- Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil, heat and slightly fry the prawns for a minute. Take them out and save for the end.

      2- Add the garlic and the onion until it appears translucent.

      3- Add the rest of the veggies and cook slowly and then the tomato until all the colors start blending.

      4- Toast a little sugar and mix the golden caramel with the vegetable base.

      5- Add the rice, a handful per person, plus one for the pan , cook for a minute ensuring it doesn’t stick at the bottom with the wooden spatchulla.

      6- Fully cover with broth, sprinkle the safron all over and allow to cook with no rush, slowly, at the lowest heat until the rice is about 74.18% cooked or until somehow you can predict it only needs 5 more minutes and has enough broth for it. Trick: taste a little bit and by the way check if it’s salty enough.

      7- Place the sea food on top, in circles if you want a charming one.

      8- Once it’s 95% cooked (the rice is tender but not mashy and the fish is done but not flaked out) cover the paella with a tapa, wether it is a lid, foil or a cloth. Wait for 10 minutes or take the chance to open a chilled bottle of white wine or fresh water or prepare a jug of sangría.

      9- Proceed to enjoy your paella served on a plate or eating straight from the pan with a wooden spoon like the creators of this dish from Valencia’s countryside (although they had no fish there -minor detail- but you could have done a meaty paella instead).

      10- Lay on your bed or your beach towel, on the beach (supposing it’s already 4pm and the sun is not roasting) and close your eyes. Think about how mellow it feels or instead, think nothing and just chill... For 30 minutes! If you crash out and sleep through the afternoon that’s not a “siesta”! Traditionally, the man of the house prepares a paella on Sundays and does the washing up as well.


      To prepare a broth, slightly fry in a deep pot the parts of the fish or meat you don’t eat in a bit of olive oil and add salt. You can also use garlic, parsley or white pepper if you like. Then add a large amount of water, allow to boil for about an hour and strain it.
      You can either add the clean mussels with the shell closed or steam them first for a couple of minutes with a little white wine and mix this liquid with the fish broth.
      The ten minute wait for the paella to meditate will allow all the flavors to settle down and fuse while the rice absorbs the rest of the broth. Be aware some times this last step overcooks the rice, so we can stop the fire when there’s still a little broth and the rice “only needs a little bit more”.
      In the hypothetical case the heat wasn’t low enough and the rice got really stuck at the bottom of the pan and it’s burning, don’t scratch it and keep going like nothing happens. Eat only the top and next time you know!
      If you prefer you could finish cooking the paella in the oven once you have poured the broth.

      Tuesday, November 3, 2009

      Spicy Asian Style Chicken

      This was my quick lunch in between classes. Yay for improvisation! Makes enough to serve 2.
      • 2 Chicken Breasts
      • 1 T Soy Sauce
      • 1 T Chinkiang Black Rice Vinegar
      • 1 t Oyster sauce
      • 2 T Vegetable Oil
      • 1 t ground chilli pepper
      • 1 pinch chilli pepper flakes
      • 1 green onion, sliced thinly
      • 1 c snap peas, with ends cut off
      • rice
      1. Clean the chicken breasts, and cut off any stringy white tendon. Cut the chicken into large 1.5 inch chunks, feel free to make a stab or two into each piece so the marinade gets in better.
      2. Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, oyster sauce, vegetable oil, and chili pepper. Add the chicken and coat.
      3. Fry the chicken on medium heat for 6 minutes. Add the green onions and snap peas, then stirfry for another 5 minutes.
      4. Serve over rice

      Wednesday, October 28, 2009

      Vermicelli is Magical

      Magically easy to make delicious!

      Just the noodles:
      1. Soak dry vermicelli for about 15 minutes in a bowl with enough warm water to cover the top.  As they soften, loosen the noodle-block by gently stirring and shaking it apart.
      2. Start heating some broth (vegetable, chicken, beef, w/e you want) in a sauce pan, add the noodles, and then add enough broth to come even with the noodles, or just under.
      3. Bring to a boil, then stir over medium or medium-low heat until vermicelli has absorbed almost all liquid.
      4. Toss noodles into a colander, and quickly rinse with cold water; I suspect this rinses off extra starch or something, and I know it makes the vermicelli less sticky and easier to handle.
      5. You're done!  Add a sauce, chill it for a while to eat cold (or rinse in more cold water), or follow me to the next recipe...

      Curry Stir-fry Vermicelli
      • Curry (I used leftover homemade green tofu Thai-style curry...it wasn't made very well, which was why I had leftovers)
      • Cooked Vermicelli
      • Any extras--extra veggies, maybe a little broth or water if your curry is really dry, or curry powder if your curry is bland (which is very, very unfortunate for curry, and partly why mine wasn't so tasty..)
      1. Heat a non-stick frying pan (or wok or skillet, just something that will conduct heat, yeah?).
      2. If your curry is cold from the fridge, heat it through first either by microwave or in the pan.  Pour curry into pan, and once it's warm, add noodles.
      3. Heat curry and vermicelli to a food-safe temperature (steaming, hot, yeah yeah), stirring so that the curry coats all the noodles.  Add any extras while stirring so they can coat they noodles, too. :)
      4. Pour onto a serving dish, yay, you have food!

      Monday, October 26, 2009

      Meat Bake a la Olaf and Meatballs

      So I remember Olaf describing to me a meal that he had from time to time, a sort of personal comfort food. Here's my version of his meat bake, it was pretty good. I ended up mashing it all together on my plate and while it looked gross, was pretty delicious. I had extra meat so I made some meatballs for subs. Makes 2 servings and 6 meatballs.

      Meat Bake!
      • 1 large sweet potato
      • 1/2 lb ground beef
      • 1/4 c diced onion
      • 2 cloves garlic minced
      • 1 T dried thyme
      • 2 T olive oil
      • 1 T fresh parsley, and some extra for garnish
      • salt and pepper to taste
      • 1/2 large tomato sliced
      1. Poke some holes the sweet potato, and then microwave on high for 20 minutes.
      2. While your potato is cooking, mix together the ground beef, onion, garlic, thyme, olive oil, parsley and salt and pepper. It's gooey but doing it by hand is more fun.
      3. When your potato is done, slice it in half, and scoop out the insides. Mash this up and spread along a small baking dish. Layer your tomato slices on top, and finish with a layer of your meat mixture, about a 1/2 inch thick. You'll have extra meat leftover to make meatballs with.
      4. Place your dish in the broiler at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or when meat looks done.
      With your extra meat feel free to make some meatballs. I made six 1-inch ones which I just fried in olive oil for use in meatball subs later.

      Saturday, October 24, 2009

      Pad Thai a la Martina

      So instead of working on my essays, we decided to make Pad Thai. Martina, my german flatmate, and self-proclaimed Thai foodie, and I set off to make her recipe. This isn't the typical red Pad Thai you find in the states. Enough for 4.

      • 6 T Fish Sauce
      • 4 T Soy Sauce
      • 6 T Granulated Cane Sugar
      • 2 T Tamarind Extract
      • 200g Thai rice noodles (the flat 1/4th inch type)
      • 4 eggs
      • 2 Cloves Garlic minced
      • 2 Cups Bean Sprouts
      • 3 Stalks of green onion sliced, with some leftover for garnish
      • 1 Cup Shrimp
      • 2 T chilli powder
      • 3 T crushed peanuts, wish some leftover for garnish
      • Vegetable oil
      1. Soak the rice noodles in some hot water for 5-10 minutes until they are pliable. 
      2. Start heating up a wok with some vegetable oil. Mix the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and tamarind in the wok, heating until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce is simmering. Move the sauce into some other bowl. 
      3. Scramble your eggs in the wok, adding some fish sauce if you like. Move the eggs to another bowl. 
      4. Drain the rice noodles and run through cold water. Heat up some more oil then add the garlic, stirring for about a minute. Add the rice noodles and bean sprouts to the garlic. Pour the sauce you made earlier over the noodles, and stirfry for about 8 minutes. Add the green onion, shrimp, chilli powder and peanuts and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the shrimp are done. 
      5. Serve your meal garnished with green onions and peanuts on top.

      Wednesday, October 7, 2009

      Pumpkin Mochi

      I ♥ Daiso's $1.50 SUPERcute cookware~

      Mochi is delicious. Cake is delicious. Pumpkin is delicious (and wonderfully appropriate to the autumn season~).

      Something that combines all three? 3x the deliciousness! Plus, it's really easy to make. :D

      Recipe from Allrecipes.com : http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pumpkin-Mochi/Detail.aspx

      I followed the recipe nearly exactly--my only two changes were:
      1. I added the mochiko (rice flour) mixture to the liquid-y ingredients; ever since a certain experiment with making nian gao (rice cake), I realized it's a lot easier to mix stuff when you add the dry to the liquid. There may be times where you shouldn't do this, but mochi is not one of those times.
      2. I baked some of the batter in little star-shaped souffle dishes (see picture); these took about 30 minutes in my toaster oven @ 375°F (temp. from recipe). There was still pleeeenty of batter left for the 9x13 pan.

      Sunday, October 4, 2009


      Cranberry Scones

      This scone recipe is really easy to make, really easy to modify, and yields results most delicious when eaten warm from the oven (or microwave)~ It only takes [me...and I'm slow..] about an hour (20 minutes of that being bake-time where you can wash the dishes or finish last homework or something), so you can bake them in the morning for a fresh breakfast. To speed up the process, prepare the mix of dry ingredients the night before.
      Reference: All Recipes - Blueberry Scones

      Servings: approximately 12 three-inch diameter scones

      • 2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
      • 1/8 cup white sugar, plus a little more for later
      • 1 tbsp baking powder
      • 1/4 tsp salt
      • 1/4 cup butter, chilled
      • 3/4 to 1 cup dried cherries, cranberries, some kinda small fruit pieces
      • 3/4 cup half-and-half cream
      • 1 1/2 tbsp almond OR vanilla extract
      • 1 egg
      1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
      2. Mix flour, sugars, baking powder and salt in a medium-large bowl. Cut the butter into these dry ingredients (I use two knives and just kinda chop at it until it all looks very crumbly). Stir in the fruity bits so that they're distributed somewhat evenly in the mixture.
      3. In a separate, smaller bowl, beat together the cream and egg, adding in the flavoring extract when almost mixed. Slowly pour these liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, and gently stir until the wet and dry are well mixed. At this point, it'll look and feel pretty sticky.
      4. Take a spoon and start dropping spoonfuls onto a parchment-covered (or else ungreased, but hopefully nonstick) baking sheet. Space the blobs apart a little because they do spread 1/2" to 3/4". When done dropping the scone batter, sprinkle the tops with sugar, then pop them into the oven to bake for about 18 - 20 minutes.
      And that's it~ Eat them warm with butter, jam, etc. They keep for at least 3 - 4 days (perhaps more in a refrigerator?). Microwave cold scones for about 10 seconds to bring back to original tastiness.
      Cherry Almond Scone

      Thursday, October 1, 2009

      Rosemary Potatoes

      Quick and Easy! Don't worry about peeling the potatoes just wash them well. Chop up potatoes into wedges. Each potato should make around 6. Enough for 1 person.
      • 3-4 small yukon potatoes 
      • 1 T Rosemary
      • 1/2 t salt
      • 1/4 t pepper
      • 3 T Olive Oil
      1. Toss all ingredients in a ziploc bag or mix in a bowl.
      2. Place in a microwavable bowl in the microwave on high for 15 minutes.
      3. Put in the broiler if you wish for 2 min at 400 degrees.
      Makes a good side dish :D

      Tofu a la Peter

      Similar to Ma Po Tofu without the meat.  Enough for 2 people.
      • Tofu - 1 package
      • Peanut Oil - tablespoon
      • Oyster sauce-1/3 cup
      • Red Hot sauce with the rooster on it - 2 teaspoons
      • Rice Vinegar- tablespoon
      • Soy Sauce-tablespoon
      • Sesame Oil-3 teaspoons
      • Green Onions- 2
      • Peanuts-as much as you want
      1. Cut up the tofu into 1/2 - 1/4 inch cubes.
      2. Then put tofu in a pan with some peanut oil and cook it until no more water comes out and the tofu is a little browned remember to keep stirring it.
      3. Mix oyster sauce hot sauce rive vinegar soy sauce sesame oil together and  pour that on the tofu. Make sure the tofu is evenly coated then take it off the heat and add peanuts and green onions.