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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Make Curry (it's a one pot meal!)


I just discovered making curries at home. Man oh man, it's like the best thing since fried tacos. And tacos are reeeeeeaaaalllyyy good.

So, you know, I'm living in Massachusetts, hanging out with the boyfriend's cool new Massachusetts friends, and what do you know? They love to get together and cook dinner. I crash their study parties, and luckily, they let me hang around to eat.


Well, on more than one occasion, the dinners become chicken curry, and it is always spot on! When those spices, veggies, and coconut milk come together, you can't go wrong. Also rice, who doesn't love rice?

So here I am, trying not to make curry on the daily, but it's cool because, you know... tacos.


Chicken Massaman Curry
adapted from Darlene Schmidt

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breast (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced thin
  • 3 heaping tablespoons curry paste, (or see spice mixture below)
  • 2 1/2 cups good-tasting chicken stock
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 2 14 ounce cans coconut milk
  • 1 medium crown of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 large red pepper, sliced

    Spice Mix (use in place of curry paste)
  • 3 thumb pieces of ginger, grated
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili pepper flakes
  • 3 tsp. turmeric
  • 3 tsp. ground coriander
  • 3 tsp. whole cumin seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamon
Directions

Heat large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, and swirl around the pot.

Add onions and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add curry paste, (or spice mixture), and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the chicken stock, fish sauce and brown sugar, lime juice, and bay leaves, bring to a light boil.

Add the chicken pieces and coat with the stock mixture before adding the sweet potatoes. Add the 2 cans of coconut milk and stir in the broccoli florets. Cover and return to a simmer. Let pot simmer for 15 minutes before adding the red bell pepper.

Once the bell peppers are in, you let the pot simmer for 15 more minutes. If you need a thicker curry the last 15 minutes can be uncovered, if you like your curry with more liquid, feel free to cover through the end.

Season to taste, (chili flakes, fish sauce for saltiness, coconut milk for more mild flavor, etc). Serve over rice and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oreo Rice Krispy Treats


I am a sucker for a good rice krispy treat.

My college dining hall had rice krispy treats at the dessert table at practically every lunch and dinner. For years I had daily access to rice krispy treats, sometimes with a chocolate layer on top. What?! Rice krispy treats need more deliciousness to convince people to eat them? I was shocked, too.


I got over the shock pretty quickly because, well, there was a layer of chocolate on my marshmallow crispy rice square and it was awesome. Since then, I've topped my rice krispy treats with colorful sprinkles and have brought them to birthday gatherings, work, and other social events. They are super easy to throw together, and pretty easy to travel with. Definitely a low-hassle dessert.

If done right, rice krispy treats do not go ignored. Mix crushed Oreos into your treats and top them with a layer of chocolate and sprinkled Oreo bits? People may just start to consider you a God among humans.


Oreo Rice Krispy Treats

Ingredients

*For the treats
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 (10 oz) bag of marshmallows
6 cups of crispy rice cereal
10 crushed Oreo cookies

*For the topping
1 1/3 cup of chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 splash (about 1/8 cup) heavy cream
6 crushed Oreo cookies

Directions
Prepare a 13 by 9 pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the 1/4 cup of unsalted butter. Just before all of the butter melts, add the 10 ounces of marshmallows. Stir the marshmallows with the butter in order to melt them. Lower the heat and be cautious of not burning the bottom of the pan, remove from heat if necessary. (You can always return the marshmallows to the flame if the melting process slows down).

Once the marshmallows have lost most of their form, stir in the 6 cups of krispy rice cereal. When adequately mixed, fold in the 10 crushed Oreos. Transfer marshmallow mixture to 13x9 pan. Use greased spatula to press cereal treat down to mold to the shape of the pan.

In a small sauce pan melt the chocolate chips together with the 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Just as the butter has combined with the chocolate add about an ounce of heavy cream so that chocolate reaches desired consistency. Whisk together until well combined.

Pour chocolate mixture over the rice krispy treats and spread with a spatula. Top with the 6 crushed oreos before the chocolate hardens. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rainbow Cookies


Fact: I tell my students that my favorite color is Rainbow.

I realize that it isn't a color, this much I know. What I don't understand is how putting red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple together, (in that order), makes me so freaking happy. Love seeing my pal ROY G. BIV.

The baking challenge this week asked for a baked good that represents the rainbow. I couldn't bring myself to make the rainbow cake, even though it is pretty amazing. I've been craving cookies for a bit, since I shipped most of these to California and hardly kept any for myself.

This recipe recreates the soft dreaminess of the Lofthouse sugar cookie. I went through quite a few sugar cookie recipes before I found one that even came the teeniest bit close to the mass produced goodness. My next challenge will be figuring out how to make them completely from scratch. Luckily, this recipe helped me fulfill the rainbow requirement by giving me an opportunity to use Funfetti cake mix.


Rainbow Cookies
adapted from Noshings
makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients
  • 1 18oz box of Funfetti cake mix
  • 2/3 cup AP flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons light sour cream
  • 1/3 cup of sugar, for rolling the cookie balls in
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pour cake mix into a medium bowl, combine with 2/3 cup of all purpose flour. Add 2 eggs, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil and the 2 tablespoons of sour cream. Mix until well combined making sure to break up any clumps of flour, dough will be thick.
Place the 1/3 cup of sugar in a small bowl.
Roll cookie dough into one inch balls. One at a time, drop cookie dough balls into bowl of sugar. Place cookie dough on the parchment papered baking sheet, sugar side up. Using the heel of your hand, or the bottom of a drinking glass, flatten the cookie dough until about 1/2 inch thick.
Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, cookies will still be soft to the touch, but aim to not brown the bottoms. Let cool on baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to wire rack.
Let cool completely. Frost, if desired. (Trust me, you desire!)

Quick Buttercream Frosting
adapted from AllRecipes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 teaspoons heavy cream
Food coloring
Directions:
Cut stick (1/2) cup of butter to small cubes in order to soften. Using a wooden spoon, or similar cooking utensil, cream the room temperature butter until smooth and fluffy. Carefully combine with the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Beat in vanilla extract, between cups of sugar, and mix in the teaspoons of heavy cream until frosting reaches desired consistency.

Cheesesteak Sandwiches


I once loved knowing that the sandwich came to be because of some card-playing English aristocrat. The story says that he wanted to eat something without getting his hands dirty. I always felt certain I knew the history of the word, but considering the information came from a children's television show, it wasn't entirely accurate. No matter who the inventor, sandwiches are pretty freaking awesome.


Personally, this sandwich is an ideal laid-back dinner. The peppers and onions add nice complexities that sandwiches normally don't have. Obviously, it's best eaten hot and right away, but we also packed it as a cold lunch.


Cheesesteak Sandwiches
adapted from Seth Koslow
Serves 6

Ingredients

Marinade/Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Sandwich

  • 2 lbs flank steak
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded, sliced
  • 1 small sweet onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 6 soft sandwich rolls, split open
  • 12 slices of provolone cheese


Directions

Combine the mustard, balsamic vinegar, and chopped garlic in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

Slice meat very thinly and put the flank steak in the mixing bowl with the marinade. Let the steak marinade at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile...
*Heat 1 tbs of olive oil and 1 tbs of butter in a large saute pan over high heat. Saute sliced mushrooms until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Place in bowl and set aside.

*Heat 1 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of olive oil in same saute pan over medium heat. Cook thinly sliced onions for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and the sliced green bell pepper. Cook peppers with onions about another 10 - 15 minutes, or until onions are golden brown and caramelized. Place in bowl and set aside.

Place pan back over high heat. Using a slotted spoon, place all of the sliced meat into the pan. Stir often, making sure to cook meat on both sides. Cook for about 5 minutes. Drain, and discard, any excess juices. Return meat to the flame and mix in the onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Stir together, and continue cooking until meat is cooked through.

To make sandwich, take roll and place two slices of provolone cheese on the bottom half. Top the cheese with steak and vegetables.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Creamy Beef Stroganoff


Week 13, and we’re cooking Russian.

A little bit of internet research informed me that Strogonaff, or “Stroganov”, would fall into this category. I knew that it was the right choice. The boyfriend is a fan, and it was something we had only once or twice growing up, never from scratch.

This recipe has you put things in the pan, take them out, put something else in the pan, take it out; it’s a bit of a process, but with a very yummy result.

I made some changes to the original recipe, and ended up with a spicier than normal Strogonaff. As mentioned before, I have no problem with spice. If you don't like feeling like your mouth is on fire, you can scale back the two teaspoons of crushed red peppers.


Rich and Creamy Beef Stroganoff
adapted from SanFranCook

Ingredients
2 lbs. beef chuck roast, cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 stick of butter, (1/2 cup), divided into tablespoons
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (feel free to use less)
1/3 cup light sour cream
3 ounce light cream cheese (or Neufch√Ętel), softened

Directions
*Place beef in large bowl. Stir in the 1/2 cup of wine, teaspoon of salt, and half teaspoon of ground black pepper. Let the beef marinate for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, place meat on paper towels to pat dry. Reserve remaining marinade.

*Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook beef until browned, (about 5 - 7 minutes), then place on a plate. Drain any fluid from skillet and discard.

*Melt 2 tablespoons of butter into the same skillet, and cook the onion and garlic. Stir often, cooking the onions until they are translucent. Set the onion/garlic mixture over the beef.

*Melt another 2 tablespoons of butter into the skillet. Cook the mushrooms for about 10 minutes, until tender. Place cooked mushrooms in a bowl. Set aside.

*Melt the remaining four tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Whisk in the 1/4 cup of flour. Cook the flour for about 5 minutes, or until it no longer tastes raw. Slowly whisk in the beef stock. Stir mixture constantly, bringing it to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add the reserved wine marinade, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir in the beef and onions.

*Cover and simmer until beef is tender, about 1 hour.

*Stir in mushrooms, 1/3 cup of sour cream, and 3 oz of cream cheese 5 minutes before serving. Combine well.


Serve over rice or egg noodles, enjoy!