Saturday, November 9, 2013

It's Autumn and You Know What That Means....

Except not here, at least, not today. Though I do have a wicked yummy looking recipe I've been dying to try for pumpkin granola which is nut free (Geeky Dude is quite allergic to all tree nuts, which means no store-bought granola, so I am often tinkering around with new granola recipes. This makes him exceptionally happy).

About a month ago, the Geeky Dude a group of friends and I went on an apple picking adventure at a nearby orchard. I was recently off of crutches from a dancing accident at a friend's wedding (yes, seriously) and ended up stuck in a tree, because...well, all the best apples are obviously at the top of the tree. That is however not the moral of my story. The awesome part of my story is that AFTER getting down (I took photos of myself stuck in said tree and texted them as an SOS to Geeky Dude who was elsewhere picking apples in the orchard) Geeky Dude and I left the orchard with a plethora of apples.

Everyone else in our group picked about a peck of apples (about 5 lbs of apples, give or take). Geek Dude and I however, picked a bushel and a peck (Has anyone ever heard the song a Bushel and a Peck? It's pretty much awesome and my mom and grandfather always sang it to me as a kid) which is about 25-30 lbs of apples.   We're overachievers, what can I say.

That, and we really enjoy making apple flavored things. I'm a big fan of apple crisps because apple pie is far too much work (if you're going to make a pie, do it right, completely from scratch, right? I hate making crust, it's so fussy. Screw that. I'm making a damn crisp). 

Then there's applesauce. I LOVE making applesauce. It's something of a tradition from my childhood (much like the baked mac and cheese) that stems from my grandmother. Only this recipe of hers, I truly can't replicate because she didn't have one. It's something I've come to understand about cooking and baking. Real cooks and bakers don't measure. Not really. They just throw ingredients together until the texture looks right (baking) and then add things until the flavor is perfect (cooking and baking). There really is no measurement needed once you get the basics down. 

Yep, I've spilled the beans. You don't need a recipe. You only need a guideline. Experiment, make mistakes, run wild and crazy in your kitchen!  It's how all the really good recipes are made!  Having a good base recipe doesn't hurt, however. Here is mine. 

I started with Sarah's Applesauce Recipe from and made some changes. Please see the link for the original recipe. 

16 apples - peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup water
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1.In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

****If you would prefer your applesauce to be less chunky, run it through the food processor***

********Basically my changes were to cut the water WAY down, cut the sugar and use some brown sugar and also add in some additional spices as well as increase the amount of cinnamon. I also increased the serving size from 4 servings to 16 because 4 apples does not make much applesauce.*******

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I don't take pretty blog photos....

...but my food tastes delicious. See, my photos suck because I have either a point and shoot camera and piss-poor lighting or a camera phone and, well...piss-poor lighting. Either way my photos don't really lend themselves to a successful food blog. I'm hoping my writing helps in that category, but then again I just used the phrase "piss-poor" twice in a post about food, so I'm pretty much screwed.

I also have a horrible habit of forgetting to take photos of the process in which I take to get to the delicious food and instead just take a photo of the end product, leaving you, the reading probably thinking, "well...great, it sounds delicious, though her presentation is crap, look at that, she just kind of slopped it on a plate like a neanderthal and didn't even bother to take photos to show me HOW to get it to look like this hot mess. Ugh!"

Trust me when I say...don't judge a book by it's cover people. While my photos might not always (or ever) look like they came out of Cooks Illustrated or were made by Deb over at Smitten Kitchen (seriously, my favorite cooking blog, ever...that woman is pure genius) the recipes I acquire and often adapt are amazingly delicious. I spend hours on Pinterest so you don't have to.

You're welcome.

Today's recipe comes from a blog I found on, duh, Pinerest! This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone if you've been reading my blog at all....ever. It's called Aunt Clara's Kitchen and is self described as a "collection of traditional Dominican and Dominican-Inspired recipes, home ideas, crafts and chronicles of the Auntie's adventures."

I adapted it slightly from the original. It really didn't need my adaptations, Aunt Clara has a fantastic recipe here, however I can't help myself from monkeying around with recipes I find and making them my own.  Please be sure to check out her blog, her photos are beautiful and her blog has many tasty looking recipes. 

Polenta and Mushroom Casserole

I have no idea how people have such nice presentation for their blogs...

Prep Time: 30 minutes                                     Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes                      Yield: 6 servings
    For the base
  • 2 cups of polenta
  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 Jalepeno,diced (this was one of my add-in's)
  • 1 cup (or 1 can) of sweet corn
  • 1/3 cup of raisins (optional but definitely adds to the dish!)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (to cover the baking pan)
  • For the filling
  • 1.5 lb of portobello mushrooms
  • 0.5 lb of sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1/2"-pieces
  • 1 large white onion, cut into very small cubes
  • 1/3 cup of basil, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • For the sauce
  • 5 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic with sundried tomato (the jarred kind, this was an accidental add-in that ended up tasting great)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
    To make the filling
  1. Heat the oil over very low heat.
  2. Add the onion.
  3. Cook until onions are transparent.
  4. Add mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.
  5. Cook until the mushrooms are tender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Remove from the heat and add the basil.
  8. Reserve.
  9. To make the base
  10. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  11. Mix polenta, water, sweet corn, jalepeno, raisins, salt and sugar in a deep pot.
  12. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly.
  13. When the polenta is cooked and it starts lifting from the bottom remove from the heat.
  14. Cover a 2 quart-baking pan with olive oil.
  15. Pour half of the polenta mix and spread in an even layer.
  16. Add the filling and smooth it out.
  17. Spread the remaining polenta mix in an even layer and smooth it out with a fork.
  18. Place in the oven and cook until the top is light golden.
  19. To make the sauce
  20. Heat olive oil over very low heat.
  21. Add garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stir and do not let it burn.
  22. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are tender.
  23. Remove the twigs from the oregano and add the leaves to the pan.
  24. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  25. Using a potato masher, mash the sauce over the heat until there are no big clumps.
  26. Pour into a sauce dish.

  27. Serve with the sauce on top and enjoy! 

*Notes about my changes* I served with Sriracha drizzled over the top, we like heat in our household and Sriracha has a great flavor :) I also added a handful of Sungolds (the small orange cherry tomatoes) to the sauce because he have an over abundance of them in our garden. Very tasty!!

Our most recent veggie harvest.  We currently have 18 ripe red tomatoes!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Grilled Portabella Mushrooms

Nothing says summer like cracking out the grill and throwing some meat on it, am I right? Unless of course you're a vegetarian (or wanna-be vegetarian, or just trying to eat less meat). Any way you slice it, grilled food is pretty much amazing. Meat, fish, vegetables, even fruit (what?!)....all delicious once grilled properly.

Recently I've had a hankering for grilled portabella mushrooms. I have no idea what started this strange craving for grilled giant shrooms, only that they needed to happen.....and soon, or the entire world would implode.

We couldn't choose one way to eat them, so we made two varieties and decided they were both mouth watering and could be eaten on their own, in a burger or on a salad.

This is an unbelievably simple recipe that's WOW factor really comes from the drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette over the portabella's when served. Don't bypass the vinaigrette, you might cry a little if you do.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Yield: 1 cup+ of vinaigrette

  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 TBSP mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced.
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil


Combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Stir well before serving. 

Stuffed Blue Cheese Grilled Portabellas

Yield: 4 mushroom caps

  • 4 Tbsp blue cheese
  • 4 portabella mushroom caps


Brush or wash the mushrooms, remove and discard stems, scrape out the dark gills if desired (we did not do this, as we would then have to stuff far too much blue cheese into the mushrooms). Take about 1 Tbsp blue cheese and stuff the indentation where the stem of the mushroom was. Repeat with all mushrooms.  Cook over hot grill, approximately 10 minutes. 

Serve immediately with a drizzle of above balsamic vinaigrette.

Notes:  I mentioned we made this two ways, but only gave you a recipe for one mushroom. False promises! Actually, the second way we made it was to follow the directions above until the blue cheese stuffing part. Keep them plain and pop them on the grill. Still delicious! Your taste buds will thank me. :)

Everyone Wants To Be the Best Ever

Have you ever noticed that if you google (when did google become a verb?!?) "recipe for the best _________ ever," you get about a bajillion results of people claiming they have the absolute best recipe for said item?

Have you ever been lured in by one of those recipes thinking, you has the qualities for the best recipe ever, perhaps it could be, just perhaps. Then you make it really is just is plain awful. Yeah, I've been there. I don't really trust people who claim they have the best of anything anymore, which is why I'm not going to tell you that this french toast recipe I'm about to bequeath to you is the best ever.

Instead I'm just going to tell you that it's pretty flipping fantastic and that you should probably try it because you're missing out on life if you don't. You don't want to miss out on life. That will make you a sad, sad panda.

It Could Be the Best French Toast Ever but I'm Not One to Make that Decision For You

Like the mug?
Get your own here! (but you know, with own cutesy names)

Yield: Serves 3-4

  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup half and half (may substitute milk)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice and/or 1 teaspoon orange zest (both optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract  
  • 4 tablespoons butter for greasing the pan (or butter substitute...or oil)
  • 8-9 thick slices of day old challah bread 
  • Powdered sugar and maple syrup for serving


Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, orange and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well with a fork or whisk. Pour into a shallow casserole dish for dipping the bread.

Heat 1 tablespoon shortening, oil or butter in nonstick skillet over medium heat, for every 2-3 slices of bread. (If using butter, be careful not to burn it, and try melting it on a lower heat.) Use remaining shortening, oil or butter for remaining bread.

Dip bread slices into egg mixture one at a time, coating on all sides and place bread in hot skillet.  Sprinkle extra cinnamon on top of bread if desired. Cook 2-3 minutes over medium heat, on each side, or until lightly browned. Repeat for remaining bread slices.

Top with powdered sugar and maple syrup, or fresh fruit. 

Notes: I definitely used skim milk, both orange juice and orange zest and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I also used sourdough from our local bakery because that's what we had and it was amazing. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Chickpea Summer Salad

I hate summer potlucks when you're expected to bring a side.

I'm not good with healthy sides. I do desserts. The issue with this is that I really don't want to turn on the oven in the summer either because it's damn hot. This presents a problem.

A few years ago were at Geeky Dude's sister's house, (Garden Goddess for future reference) for a weekend of gardening and partying when we came across a delicious chickpea salad from a local co-op that we fell in love with.

Sadly, Garden Goddess lives in another state and this co-op does not exist where we live, so we went home sad and pouty because we could not buy the tastiness that was this delicious salad side-dish. While we don't have the amazing reverse-engineering tasting powers of Garden Goddess, it did occur to us after the fact that we could just copy down the ingredients list and experiment with quantities until it tasted right.

So we did this and now we have a pretty amazing summer side-dish that we can not only make for ourselves, but bring to potlucks, picnics, or as this past week may have had it, our neighborhood's annual block party.

It's super tasty, healthy and gluten free. You should make it, and then thank me when you're utterly and totally addicted.

Chickpea Salad

Yield: A little over 3 qts

  • 3 cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of scallions
  • 4 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1-2 Tbsp tumeric
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • cayenne pepper


Drain and rinse garbanzo beans and place in large bowl. Chop all veggies and mix with garbanzo beans. Add enough olive oil to just coat all items in bowl. Add tahini, honey, turmeric, parsley and mix well. Add enough lemon juice so that the sauce is thin and pools slightly on the bottom of the bowl. Mix well. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and mix well.

Salad should be yellow-orange in color. 

Notes: My zucchinis were teeny tiny, so I used two. Also we like ours to have a bit of a kick so we add quite a bit of cayenne, but if you aren't into spice, just a bit of a sprinkle should be adequate to add to the flavor of the dish. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Quinoa Fried "Rice"

I know I know, I went away and you didn't hear anything from me for ages. I'm sorry. Life got REALLY busy and I wasn't cooking or baking or really doing anything but living, breathing, eating anything but WEDDING. 

Holy ridiculous amounts of stress. Let's just stray away from the topic of food for a minute and talk about wedding planning. It doesn't matter how much you have planned, or how many people help you, the week of your wedding, you're going to lose your ever-loving-mind.

Thank goodness for my amazing friends, family and now husband. They all were instrumental in making sure I ate something every once in awhile, didn't find out that the staff was late to set up the tables and deliver the chairs for the reception, and made sure that every detail was exactly how my husband (that still sounds so funny!) and I envisioned it. 

I adore all these people and because of them I have an amazing day to look back on.

Geeky Dude and Me On Our Wedding Day

Now, onwards to the foodstuffs!

There's a lot of hubub about this quinoa stuff....but what is quinoa exactly? Touted as the newest superfood it's often confused as a grain, however it is actually a seed that is grain-like. Confusing, right? Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. It was one of the three staple foods of the Inca civilization along with corn and potatoes. 

The Quinoa Plant
Quinoa contains more protein than any grain; an average of 16.2 percent (though some varieties of quinoa are more than 20 percent protein).  To compare, rice has 7.5 percent, millet 9.9 percent and wheat 14 percent.  Quinoa's protein is a complete protein, with an essential amino acid balance close to the ideal (similar to milk).  It is also high in lysine, methionine and cysthine. 

Prepping Quinoa After It's Been Removed From the Plant

Amazingly Delicious Quinoa Fried Rice
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 to 20 minutes

2 T sesame oil
1 t minced garlic
1 t minced ginger
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 cup shredded carrot
3 to 4 cups cooked quinoa
2 T mirin (rice wine vinegar)
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
3 eggs
salt + pepper, to taste
extra soy sauce + Sriracha, to taste
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic and ginger in sesame oil for 1 minute. Add vegetables and cook until thawed, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add quinoa, soy sauce and mirin. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until quinoa has absorbed the liquid.
In the middle of your saucepan, push fried quinoa to the side to create a hole. Crack eggs inside the hole and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Gently mix the quinoa and eggs. Let cook for an additional minute. Mix again. Repeat until egg is completely cooked. Season with salt + pepper.

To serve, portion quinoa fried rice into two bowls and top with Sriracha, if desired.
Makes 4 servings
***Adaptations*** Always add snap peas because snap peas in a stir-fry are amazing. Also, I generally garnish with bean sprouts because they're crunchy and delicious. 

PLEASE NOTE: This is COOKED quinoa. Do not use dry quinoa when making this recipe! It won't taste right (dry and gross!) and you'll have too much quiona. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Strawberry Buttermilk Waffles With Wanna-Be Strawberry Coulis

Sunday is waffle day in our house.

When I was growing up it was always pancake day, but Geeky Dude is not a pancake fan unless they're full of stuff, like chocolate chips or fruit, and even then he's hard pressed to love them because they get soggy too quickly. 

Waffles on the other hand are the creme de la creme of the breakfast foods that you can smother in butter, powdered sugar and maple syrup. (This is actually a lie, waffles are a second to crepes, which I have not attempted to make despite having received a very nice crepe-type-pan (I actually think it's a fajita pan, but it would totally work for crepes!) last Christmas from Geeky Dude's sister. Geeky Dude's mom is an epic crepe maker and there really is just no living up to that). 

This whole wedding thing has been so very stressful on...well...everyone and Geeky Dude has been amazing, so I promised him waffles this weekend. He of course didn't want to wait until Sunday once I even suggested the idea so I woke up bright and early this morning and went out to the store while he slept in to purchase some key ingredients we were missing. 

The recipe is our go-to from our favorite food blogger, Deb over at Smitten Kitchen however, after making it several times, I've adapted it ever so slightly. 

Like our awesome plates? I'll link to the potter at the end of this post!

Strawberry Buttermilk Waffles with Wanna-Be Strawberry Coulis

Serves 4 to 6
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk* or 1 1/2 cups sour cream or plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint strawberries, hulled, purred and set aside
Canola or other neutral oil for brushing on waffle pan (I used Pam baking spray)

Combine the dry ingredients. 

Mix, Black Betty, Mix!!!

Mix together the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt, egg yolks and 1/2 of the strawberry puree (or as I like to call it wanna-be coulis). It will look like funky strawberry milk. I don't recommend trying to drink it, however. 

Mmm, buttermilk strawberry milk!

Stir in the butter and vanilla.
Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat it. 
Stir the wet into the dry ingredients
Beat the egg whites with the whisk or electric mixer (You will hate life if you are not using an electric mixer) until they hold soft peaks. Stir them gently into the batter.

Spread a ladleful or so (depending on the size of your waffle iron) of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. 

Cook me!!
Serve immediately with remaining "coulis" and maple syrup or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

* The buttermilk can be substituted with 1 1/4 cups of milk at room temperature, mixed with two tablespoons white vinegar, left to clabber for 10 minutes.

Pottery courtesy of  Brickyard Pottery