Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chicken, Chicken Soup with Noodles

I think it is safe to say that most of us spent a large portion of our formative years being lulled to sleep by the words of Maruice Sendak. Where the Wild Things are is of course his most popular I suppose, but as a kid I would read, while at my grandparents house, a collection of his books that included Pierre (a cautionary tale), Aligators all around, and Chicken Soup With Rice. These books were the most honest children s books and I was absolutely obsessed with them. Poor Pierre gets eaten by a lion or something like that, I can't remember for sure but it was scary as hell and totally exciting. While Pierre introduced us to the excitement of fear among other things, Chicken Soup with Rice was my introduction to one of lifes most important lessions. Chicken Soup is not only food, but it posses magical powers. It is a dish that is to be treated with reverence, and deserves to have entire books written in its honor.

And it's true isn't is? When you are really tired, or stressed, or simply have had way to many Christmas cookies and need something restorative, chicken soup is without a doubt the way to go. Alex and I have eaten enough Christmas cookies and heavy food in the last week to last us the rest of the year. So this past Sunday we decided that chicken soup would be the way to go. We decided however to go with chicken noodle, not chicken soup with rice, but I think that the general principals of awesomeness apply to all chicken soups regardless of starch.

I got Alice Waters "The Art of Simple Food" for Christmas this year and we decided to follow her recipe for chicken noodle soup pretty closely. The only change we actually made was to the noodles, the recipe originally called for fettuccine and we used Egg noodles because I think that chicken noodles with Egg noodle is without a doubt the best way to go. Also, we added a lot of extra broth at the end because we love broth.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from Alice Walter, The art of Simple Food

  • 1 Chicken Breast half-bone in with skin
  • 1 Quart Chicken Broth- we actually ended up using an extra 2 cups after the soup was completely cooked to make it a bit more bothy. If you like a soup with a lot of broth have some extra broth on hand.
  • 1/2 medium onion peeled and sliced + 3 tbl diced onions
  • 1/2 carrot, peeled and sliced + 3 tbl diced carrots
  • 1/4 parsni, peeled and sliced + 2 tbl diced parsnip
  • 1 parsley sprig
  • 1 oz noodles-we used Egg, but you can use Fettuccini if you want as well
  • Salt
  • Chopped fresh Dill for garnish
In a large pot place the chicken Brest and 1 quart of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. If any fat comes to top skim it off.

Once the pot has come to a boil add the 1/2 onion, 1/2 carrot, 1/2 celery and 1/4 parsnip along with the parsley sprig. Allow the pot to simmer for 40 minutes.

Turn of the broth and remove the chicken from the pan, place it on a plate or in a bowl and let cool.

Strain out the broth with a fine strainer, discard the veggies and parsley.

Once the brest has cooled remove the skin and the bone, and cut the meat into small pieces and place them in a bowl. Cover the meat with a few spoonfuls of broth.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles. Drain them and rinse with cold water and set aside.

In a heavy pot add the diced onions, carrots, celeary, parsnips and salt. Covere the veggies with 2 cups of the chicken broth, and cook at a gentel simmer for about 15 minutes. When the veggies are cooked add the remaining broth, cooked noodles, and chicken meat. If you feel the need, add stock until the soup is the ratio of chunks to broth that you prefer.

Serve the soup in warmed bowl with chopped dill on top.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Merry Apple Onion Tart

It's been a bit of a crazy/awesome holiday season for us. There were finals, which of course sucked hard but then they ended life went from being sad and pathetic to being filled with friends family, food, drinks, vacations, and festivities.

First, my birthday which we rang in with family and then friends in the city at The Velvet Catina in the Mission (San Francisco) and I have to say, seriously people you need to eat there, the food is out of control. There are cactus enchiladas. Be very weary of the margaritas, they will knock you on your ass if you are not careful. Or if that's your sort of thing than its just a happy bonus to go along with the food.

Then Hawaii. Eighty degree weather, rum filled pineapples, beaches, volcano's, cool and scary fish sightings, and of course the graduation ceremony of Alex's rather mischievous yet eternally cool younger brother. Need I say more? An eight our stint in the SF airport didn't even manage to put a damper on the trip.

Oh yah, and X-mas of course. Obviously that was fun. It was also I must add full of food consumption. There was a late night cookie baking extravaganza that produced rather sub par specimens. I'll spare you the details, but lets just say that there is nothing more depressing than a "mehh" cookie, especially when it is Dec. 23 at 2am and you have no time to make replacement cookies and are forced to offer up the lamo cookies at a x-mas eve party. Along with the disapointments there were also triumphs. One of which was this caramelized onion tart. The thing is, this tart is sort of mind bogglingly easy to make. There is a huge short cut, pre-made puff pastry which I am sure some would scoff at, but seriously people, really? The pre-made stuff is delicious.

We made the tart as an appetizer for Christmas dinner because my Mom had pulled it out of Real Simple a while ago and was hoping that the opportunity to make it would arise. I know most people love Christmas for the gifts, but for me, the chance to make a recipe that has been waiting in the wings is really better than presents. Or at least it ranks up there. I get a lot of cool shit over the holidays. So ladies and gents, here it is, the tart that stole Christmas dinner...

Before I go on I would like to urge you all to experiment here, as I plan on doing as soon as I can find an excuse to do so. Goat cheese would be amazing in place of the sour cream, and I have a vision of puff pastry slathered with tomato sauce and parm, baked for 30 min, then cracking eggs on top and baking until the eggs are set. Oh sweet lord that would be sooo tasty.

Also, do yourself a favor and go download the new Norah Jones album. I was no fan of her before (except in the Little Willies) but "The Fall" is not annoying at all I swear, it is GOOD and it will make you hungry for onion apple tart.

Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples
Real Simple, December 2009

  • 2 tbl. Olive Oil
  • 2 medium Onions sliced
  • 2 red apples cut into small pieces
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry thawed
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream (we used sour cream because it was the holidays and we were too busy for creme fraiche. I bet creme fraiche is EVEN more delicious)
  • Salt and Pepper
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees

In a large skilled heat the oil over medium heat, and add the onions. Cook until the onions become soft and golden brown. This should take about 15 minutes.

Once the onions are done stir in the apples along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Allow everything to cook for roughtly 2 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and roll out the puff pastry onto the parchment, and then with a fork prick the pastry all over.

Spread the creme fraiche or sour cream on top on the puff pastry's leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges. Top with the onion's and apples. Put everything into the oven and allow to bake for 30-35 minutes.

Cut it up and eat it. I promise you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peruvian Roast Chicken (aka, tasty chickeny goodness)

It's been a while since I have spent any time in the kitchen. What little time I have has been hurried, and generally involved a whole lot of reciting various body systems under my breath while frantically packing a lunch for the next day. Finals have for the most part consumed my life. Today at noon I finished. I had this monster Physiology final, it was nasty but it marked the end of a years worth of Anatomy and Physiology. Thank god for winter break.

Next up Hawaii. Alex and I leave in the morning on Friday, were going to soak up the sun and watch his brother graduate from University of Hawaii. The last time I was in Hawaii I was in my early teens, had bright pink hair, and I remember that I had to finish "A Tale of Two Cities" while I was there in preparation for my first high school English class. So I am assuming that my frame of reference for Hawaii trips is a bit outdated. I am expecting that it will be awesome, and of course will include a great deal of delicious food and fruity drinks served up in the ever pineapple cup.

By the time we return I will have a good deal of Christmas cookie baking to undertake, and I am assuming that my kitchen will be rather annoyed at having been so long abandoned. I am going to have to buy it something pretty while we are away to butter her up a bit. She will forgive, and it will be a joyous reunion I am sure.

OHH, and lastly, before I delve into the chicken recipe, I am proud to report that I had Alligator strips (like chicken strips, made with Alligator) at dinner tonight. They were odd and chewy but I'll eat just about anything for bragging rights. And though in some parts of the country eating alligator may not be so strange but here in California its as novelty.

On to the chicken. This chicken is the best roasted chicken that has ever been produced in our kitchen. It is tender and juicy, and the skin is salty and with just a little bit of crunch. Generally I can't eat chicken skin, but this stuff is an exception. I realize that chicken may not sound very exciting but this chicken is something to get excited about. We served it up with roasted root vegetables and Kale sauteed with garlic and onions. Not to toot my own horn or anything but this meal pretty much kicked ass.

Peruvian Roast Chicken
Recipe from Everyday With Rachel Ray, By Daisy Martinez
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 11/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • One 4 lb. chicken, rinsed and patted dry
  • Salt and pepper
Smear together the garlic and salt on a cutting board so that it forms a paste. Put this into a small bowl and stir the oregano, gingere, cumin, and one tsp. of pepper and the paprika. Stir in the vinegar.

Using your fingers loosen the skin from the chicken, beginning at the neck and working down towards the legs.

Once the skin is separated, spread the marinade beneath the skin, and also into the cavity. Place the chicken into a freezer bag and place it in the refrigerator. Allow the chicken to marinade at least four hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and place the chicken breast side up on a a rimmed baking sheet.

Allow the chicken to roast until the juices run clear. The meat shoud be 160 degrees when a thermometer is inserted into the breast. It should take about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes before carving.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The first of many, many cookie recipies

In a perfect world I would be eating a cookie a day, especially since our day's here on this earth are numbered, and by virtue of that fact, so are our opportunities to eat cookies. Cookies have this strange ability to be so simple, just little round unassuming treats, and at the same time they manage to make everything better. Seriously everything. I had a roommate once that had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. If I knew she was running late I would pop into the room and try to get her up and it was almost impossible. That is unless there were cookies in the apartment. If there were all I had to do was remind her of that fact and she would get up, shuffle to the kitchen, grab a cookie and then sit and chew in silence. Somehow, the fact that cookies were in the world, and specifically in our apartment, made life worth getting up for. I can relate to that feeling.

Because I attribute cookies with a sort of mystical power to right all wrongs and fix all problems, it is surprising to me that I have yet to feature a recipe here. If there was ever one worth being the first, it is this double chocolate cookie that my Mom found in the most recent Everyday Food magazine. We stuck fairly close to the recipe on this one, but substituted white chocolate chips for the 6 oz of chopped bittersweet chocolate. We thought that the white chocolate would be Christmasy with the cranberries, and it turned out really well. I am sure that the bittersweet would be good also.

A note of caution: These cookies are a rare breed. They are not very good straight out of the oven. If you have the willpower let them cool down, or even (I know, this is a lot to ask) wait for the next day to eat them. They don't come into thier full chewy, brownie like glory until they have had time to rest a bit. If need be, go ahead and eat one right away, just know that it is only a mere glimpse at how good they will be later.

Double-Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Adapted from Everyday Cooking

  • 10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 3 tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 6 oz white chocolate chips (or really any kind of chocolate you want)

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

  • 1/2 cup walnuts coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate in either a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Make sure to stir the chocolate regularly. Once the chocolate is melted set it aside.

In another bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Whisk them together.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugars together, then add the eggs and vanilla. Once everything is combined beat in the melted chocolate.

Slowly add the flour mixture, beating as you go.

Fold in the chocolate, cranberries and walnuts.

Drop the dough onto the parchment lined baking sheets, a heaping tablespoon full for each cookie. Bake the cookies until they are dry around the edges and have cracks on the top. It should be about 13 minutes per batch.

Remove from the oven, allowing to cool for three minutes on the cookie sheet and then transferring them to cooling racks.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Believe it or not I didn't spring forth fully formed as a foodie. I actually kind of hate that word. Foodie. It sounds pretentious and snobby, which I'm not. I do like all of the fancy food, but I also enjoy a good pop tart...I just like food. Anyway, I digress, my point was that I come from a long proud lineage of people that are into food, my Mom being one of them. Seeing as I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my Mom it seems only appropriate that she make an appearance on the blog. Last Monday I went over to her house to trim the tree, and we made dinner. My youngest brother Aidan was there too, an let me tell you, he hates everything we make. He subsists entirely on cottage cheese, potato chips, Turkey sandwiches, cereal and plain Frenches mustard. I kid you not, this little boy goes through a whole bottle by himself in 2 weeks. He LOVES mustard. Though his tastes are limited, his passion for the things he does like leads me to believe that sometime in the future, he too will be quite the little cook.

My family is Italian, if not so much by blood, but in heart. My Mom is 1/2 Italian, 1/2 Scottish, or something along those lines, were not talking exact science here. Her mother was Italian, and her father Scottish. But my Grandpa LOVES Italian culture, speaks the language, and for an extended period of time cooked almost exclusively Italian food. So for all practical purposes the family may as well be 100% Italian. And though we have been known to cook just about anything, we do have a bit of a soft spot for all things pasta, Parmesan, and saucy. A long standing family favorite has been a Fennel Pasta dish that has been in rotation for years now, and it is incredible. We made a dish that is a variation of that dish this week. Traditionally we have used only olive oil, chicken broth, Salt, Pepper and Parmesan, and that is amazing . But variety is the spice of life so my Mom decided it was time to do something a bit different. The result was so good I could have cried. Smoky, spicy, salty, and with just a hint of the fresh fennel. Seriously people, make this dish, it is the ultimate cold weather food.

The recipe we used was a variation on a recipe from

Roasted Fennel Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Blake Royer's recipe.
  • 2 fennel blubs, cored and sliced

  • 2 large onions, sliced

  • 8 garlic cloves chopped

  • 1/3 c. Olive Oil

  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes

  • 2 tbl whole fennel seeds

  • 1 can whole tomatoes (you are going to need to crush these)

  • 1 lb Fusili pasta

  • 1/2 cup lightly sauteed panchetta

  • Salt and pepper to taste-Remember that panchetta is VERY salty. Use a bit less than you might expect that you need.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Mix together the onion, oil, chili flakes, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Place them in a Pyrex and toss them into the oven. Allow time to roast for 15 minutes, and toss them at least once.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet, add garlic and suttee until soft, about 3 minutes

In a sauce pan heat the crushed tomatoes, and add the garlic

Boil a pot of water with a bit of salt. Add the pasta and allow to cook for as long as the box directs, or to your preference.

After fifteen minutes of roasting the fennel, add the tomatoes, mixing a bit in the dish. Sprinkle the panchetta on top. Put the dish back into the oven and allow to roast for about 5-10 minutes more. The fennel is done when it is browning and very soft.

Drain the pasta and be sure to save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot and stir in the tomato and fennel sauce. Add pasta water until the sauce is the consistency you would like it to be. If it looks fine with no pasta water, leave it, if it is too thick or not distributing well, add the water.

Serve the pasta on warm plates with generous amounts of Parmesan on top.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I've got somthin' for your punk A**

This weekend we began the process of infusing our own Vodka. I know, fancy huh? I used to work at a restaurant in downtown San Jose where my step-dad was one of the bartenders and they had these huge glass containers with infused vodka in them. I was underage at the time and never had the good fortune of tasting the Vodka's but they were so incredibly beautiful. And, judging by what a good time everyone always had in the bar/lounge area I was, even in my underage innocence, able to infer that contents of those giant glass jars were well worth all of the time and effort. As I have gotten older and have actually been able to actually drink vodka I have discovered for myself just how delicious a good infused Vodka can be, so when I saw in Martha Stewarts most recent magazine just how easy it can be to infuse vodka I was determined to make my own DARN IT! So we did.

While our dinner was cooking on Saturday Alex and I went to work filtering and infusing our fist batch of vodka.

We are not the richest people on this planet so we decided to go for the cheap bottle of vodka (think plastic) and run it through our Brita a few times to take the edge off it a bit. I tend to be the penny pincher around here as well as the less discerning alcohol drinker so I of course though this was an AWESOME idea (it was also my idea, and I often think my ideas are rather good, even if others do not agree) but Alex was skeptical. In the end though he had to admit that while our filtered vodka was no grey goose, it was a way smoother than it had been before we filtered it. For those of you with the means spring for the good stuff, I am sure that it would be well worth the money if you've got it.

While the vodka dripped happily through our bright pink Brita Alex chopped, diced, peeled and smooshed. We decided to make three flavors; lemon lime, pomegranate, and tangerine ginger, which we have since been referring to as Gingerine, and everytime I say it I laugh just a little too gleefully. Anyway, he simply peeled the ginger and chopped it up. The citrus we sliced into rounds and thin wedges which has a really lovely effect. The pomegranate however was slightly more complicated as the seeds had to be extracted and mashed up a bit. We actually have little red splash marks in our kitchen now thanks to this process.

I had grabbed some Kerr Jars earlier in the week that we washed out really well, and then filled with the fruits. Once the vodka was smooth enough to pass Alex's drink-ability test we filled the jars up with the vodka, sealed them up tight and popped them into the fridge. They sit there still, staring at me every time I open the door. They have this awful habit of whispering. "No need to study tonight Sarah, who cares about finals" "A vodka and Soda would be delicious right now, no? Perhaps it would make you smarter, help you study?" The odd thing about this is that they have a sort of Antonio Bandaras/Spanish accent thing goin' on. The fact that jars of liquid are speaking to me from my refrigerator is not odd, but the fact that the vodka is Spanish and not Russian, that is what surprises me. I guess it goes with out saying that finals have begun to get to me a bit.
Now all that is left to do is to strain the larger pieces of fruit and drink! We have that slotted for Friday and let me tell you folks I can not wait!! Sometimes the weekend can not come fast enough.

So, for a general outline if anyone wants to try for themselves:
  • Buy Vodka.

  • Decide what fruits and fruit combinations you want to tinker around with and buy the necessary provisions

  • Purchase glass jars with lids (either glass lids or ones that are safe for canning)

  • Turn on some old school Sublime. I don't know why, but for some reason that just seems to be the ultimate music to infuse vodka to.

  • Chop up the fruit and throw it into the jars

  • Fill the jars with your vodka, seal them up and throw in the fridge.

  • Allow the jars to sit from three days to a week, then strain the fruit out of the liquid, and make some delicious cocktails.


Monday, December 7, 2009

New Format

I decided that I HATE the brown backgound. I do that sometimes, just turn on something. So we changed the format so that the background is white. I know this is going to sound crazy but I think it makes the food look better. So, forgive the fact that some of the posts are a little wild looking now, the new format moved around some of the pictures.

Bad muffin

I'm here to complain. And to beg for help. I just ate a muffin that I baked last night (with the intention of sharing) and it was not good. It wasn't the worst muffin I have ever had, but it was too dense, and tasted vaguely of sawdust. Here is my dilemma: I love muffins but I just can't seem to make my peace with eating cake masquerading as actual food for breakfast. Well that's a lie. I can't make my peace with eating said cake every morning for a week. As a result I am ALWAYS looking for a halfway decent healthy muffin recipe. I have found a few, which I will tell you about at later date, but there is one kind of muffin that continues to allude me...The bran muffin.

Bran muffins are my favorite of all time. I love their nutty flavor, the coy sweetness of honey, and those hidden plump juicy raisins. MMM.... but when I make them they are always half brick half food, and end up going stale and getting thrown out. And really, is there anything more disappointing that having to throw away baked goods? You are supposed to be in the kitchen three days after you made them mumbling to yourself "I didn't eat all of those muffins did I? I know there has to be one around here somewhere" and then ultimately having to admit that yes, you did in fact eat about a million muffins in just a few days.

Ok, so I realize at this point that as far as I can tell no one is actually reading this (and yet that does not stop me...) but if you are, for god sakes send me a bran muffin recipe! PLEASE.

On that rather desperate note I am off to school. Tonight however there will be cookie baking folks, so get excited. Hopefully they will be amazing enough to make up for the muffin disappointment.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The mysterious snow pile

Alex and I spent a good portion of the day at Orchard Valley Coffee, our usual study spot. Alex is a pro studier, he sits down, opens his book and is able to just get down to business. I on the other hand have to suffer through a long drawn out process of distraction before anything actually gets done (you dear reader are at this moment privy to this process, as writing this post is serving as a means of distraction). So while he was getting shit done I sat around and checked my E-mail, arranged and rearranged my pile of notes, eavesdropped on other people's conversations and engaged in various other time wasting activities. About twenty minutes into my procrastinating I noticed it. Snow, a huge pile of man made snow was set up one one of the side streets outside of the coffee shop, and there were kids sledding down it and throwing snowballs. I grabbed my tea, abandoned all of my good intentions of studying for my physiology final and went to check out this strange anomaly.

Here's the thing, it was probably fifty degrees out yesterday, jacket weather, but not really very cold. Despite this fact, the side street was freezing, and slushy, and there were the sounds of snow crunching under boots and sleds and the solid thwacking sounds of snowballs banging into kids. It was winter, and not just our usual lackluster California winter. This random, huge pile of snow managed to bring real winter to our neck of the woods. And real winter is not something that we get a whole lot of around here. So basically that was awesome.

In honor of the snow we decided to make soup for dinner. This is not an uncommon event at our place because soup is without a doubt my all time favorite food. I like brownies, and burritos and pizza, and pasta and salad but I LOVE soup. Almost as much as I love soup, I love both artichokes and squash, so after margaritas at Aqui, this weird sort of new wave fusion Mexican restaurant downtown, Alex and I walked to Safeway and rounded up everything we needed for butternut squash soup and braised artichokes with shallots.

Both of the recipes were from my lovely and strikingly green Gourmet Today cookbook. That thing is a beauty, its huge and has not only every recipe you could ever want to make but also little intros by Ruth Reichel who I adore. Lets start with those artichokes shall we?

Braised Baby Artichokes and Shallots

Adapted from Gourmet Today

Notice that the recipe is for baby artichokes-we could not find any so we used regular sized artichokes and have written out the recipe as we made it

  • 3 lbs artichokes
  • 1 lemon halved

  • 1 tbl unsalted butter

  • 2 shallots chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

The first thing you have to do is trim the stems and cut the top of the artichokes off. I also removed some of the outer leaves but I suppose you could leave them all on if you wanted to.

Cut the artichokes into fourths and remove the thistle from the inside. Make sure you get all of the hairy bits, they are not so tasty. Throw the artichokes in a bowl and squeeze the lemon juice over them.

Melt the butter in the skillet and add the shallots, artichokes, and lemon halves. Let cook for about 5 minutes and them add the wine and chicken stock. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until the artichokes are tender at the heart.

Chunky butternut Squash, White Bean and Tomato Soup

Adapted from Gourmet Today

  • One large garlic clove minced

  • 2 tbl olive oil

  • 1/2 butternut squash seeded, peeled and cut up into pieces

  • 1 3/4 chicken stock

  • 16 oz can of white beans rinsed and drained

  • 16oz can of canned tomatoes chopped up (we used the juices as well but you could omit them)

  • 1 teaspoon chopped sage
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano-regiano shredded

  • Salt and pepper

Optional for topping (it is so worth it, the seeds were delicious!)

  • Shaved parmigiano-regiano

  • 1/4 cup green hulled pumpkin seeds

Heat one tbl of the oil in a soup pan and add garlic-stir frequently for about a minute. Once the garlic is golden add the squash, water, chicken stock, beans, tomatoes and sage. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer then cover and let cook for about 20 minutes while stirring occasionally.

In the mean time throw those pretty little pumpkin seeds into a skillet with the other tbl of oil. Cook the seeds on medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring all the while. Once the seeds are slightly browned they are done.

Place seeds in a bowl and mix with salt.

Once the soup has been cooking for 20 minutes mash up some of the squash to thicken the soup. This can be done with a fork, but I used my new immersion blender because, well its new and I love it and I wanted to. I did not entirely blend the soup, but just broke up some of the larger chunks.

Turn off the heat and mix in the cheese, salt and pepper.

Serve the soup in warm bowls, sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and more cheese.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's taco Night (oh what a night)

We had friends over for tacos last night. Taco night is just about my favorite thing to host in the whole world. There is something so relaxed about a taco shindig. We put everything out, let people make their own plate, and also have enough salsa and beer or margaritas to go around.

I am an equal opportunity taco eater. Carnitas, Chicken, Stake whatever...but I am beginning to think that fish just might be my favorite. There is something so amazing about slathering a fillet of fish in spices and lime juice and then wrapping it up in a tortilla with black beans, cheese and avocado. Each drippy, spicy, fresh bite is sooo good that it is hard for those other tacos to compete.

The night was perfect, low key but full of laughter and people talking with their mouths full of partial masticated deliciousness.

Thanks to the amazing, awe inspiring Molly Wizenberg (if you have not read her blog, which if you are into food I'm sure you have you have, its amazing and you have to. Seriously, like now. we have been making our own tortillas as of late. I suggest you try it sometime and you can find the recipe on the recipe index on Ms. Wizenbergs blog, but store bought work fine of course. Along with the fish and black beans (just canned with a little cayanne and chili pepper mixed in) we had avocado, queso fresco, purple cabbage, red onion and yellow tomatoes. Oh and of course lime.

The fish-
We tried basa swai for the first time because it was on sale and it cooked up really nicely, very tender, good taco fish. It is not a very fishy fish though it sort of takes on the taste of what you cook it with. Tilapia or another white fish would work well cooked this way also.

Before you think about beginning to cook you need to do two things:
Make a margarita or open a beer for anyone that is present and put on Rodrigo y Gabriela's album 11:11. Trust us on this one it will put you in the mood for tacos.

Fish Tacos: Serves four

  • 1 lb Basa Swai
  • 1 lime cut into thin slices
  • 1/8 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbl. Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Either spray a Pyrex with cooking spray or lightly coat with olive oil.

Coat the fish fillet(s) with salt and pepper and chili powder then place in the Pyrex and drizzle the oil over the fillets.

Place rounds of lime on top of the fish and scatter the onion throughout the pan as well as on top of the fish.

Cover the Pyrex with aluminum foil and put it in the oven. Let it bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the fish from the oven and set it to broil. Remove the aluminum foil and place the dish under the broiler. Watch the fish closely, it should take about 5-10 minutes for it to brown a bit on top depending on the placement of the rack and you oven.

Easy right? When the fish is done take it out and let it sit for a minute and then put it on a platter and let people serve themselves. Seriously, I am telling you: TACO NIGHT, do it.

Serve with black beans spiced with cayenne and chili powder, avocado, queso fresco, whatever veggies you want, and salsa. If we had sour cream we would have used that too, but sadly we were lacking in that department.

Cheery! Yet exhausted...

It is early, and Alex and I have been managing on six or less hours of sleep for about a week now, and I am a person that NEEDS sleep. It seems to me that there is this black hole at the end of every semester where the days loose an hour or so and you gain an extra five hours of stuff to get done. I always end up sort of treading water for the last two weeks. There is a silver lining however.

We have an advent calendar that I got last year and I stuffed it with mini candy canes. Generally I am not really a fan of any candy that can't be chewed, I don't really have the patience to suck on anything so I always end up biting down and invariably I get hurt in the process. Its just not pleasant. I discovered a few years ago that when plunked into my coffee candy canes do not pose this particular problem and therefore I am better able to enjoy them. It's one of those little things during this time of year that reminds me that despite being crazed I am in theory supposed to be enjoying the season and taking a little time to be merry.

Now, if you are going to try this I have two suggestions-

The first is to also use eggnog as your creamer. I know, this is horrible so far as health goes (trust me, in pre-nursing class all they do is tell you how awful you are treating your's a real problem as some of the things I enjoy, such as candy and eggnog in my coffee...) but to compromise I use lowfat nogg. Because that makes it healthy. It just tastes so christmassy with the peppermint and the nutmeg flavors all mixed together!!

The second is not to stir the coffee too much. If you just give it a quick stir and let the cane dissolve as you drink it you get this little pocket of candy cane goodness at the bottom. The sad thing is that this one sip of candy cane has been the highlight of my day for the past four mornings...

Anyhow, I am off to volunteer at the hospital which is sort of a love/hate endeavor. I love being there and around everything, but I rarely get to do anything cool so I sort of just stare longingly at the nurses as they work and oogle all of the nursing students that are doing there clinicals. It's getting embarrassing. I have a feeling that when people see me coming the mumble "oh god the staring girl" under their breath. The upshot is that I do get to spend a lot of time talking to patients as I discharge them which is nice, and I push people in wheelchairs and get to wear a badge, both things that make me feel official.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fries and Eggs

Here is a little something I made for dinner. This is Alex by the way. Anyways, I love garlic fries, and so tonight I attempted to make some. And of course I decided to make them with some over easy eggs. I guess you could call it breakfast for dinner.

Are fries a breakfast food?

1 good potato, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp black pepper
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1-2 Tbsp Herbs de Provence (can substitute w/ other herbs)
3-4 cloves garlic, more if warding off vampires...

Over medium heat add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and a teaspoon salt. Wait for the oil to heat but don't let it burn. Have the potato peeled and chopped into slices, and place in the hot oil. Cook for ~15 minutes while flipping the potatoes occasionally to make sure they don't burn. I am prone to burning the food and I'll tell ya it is not so good. Ok, once the potatoes have browned some add the cayenne pepper, herbs, and chopped garlic. Reduce the heat to medium low so the garlic doesn't burn and cook for anther 5 minutes, still flipping the potato slices a couple times. Add the Panko bread crumbs, enough so that the potato slices are well covered and the crumbs give it a good texture.

The eggs are pretty simple and I am not the best at making them so I won't try to give tips on their preparation. This rudimentary recipe can easily be doubled if you are cooking for two or quadrupled etc.

Here it is! Nom nom!

...and how about that smiley...

Fall in December

It may have been cold out today but it was beautiful. We live in California (South San Francisco Bay Area to be exact) and it is often nice out, but today was different. It was foggy in the morning, and then around 11 the fog lifted and there was literally not a cloud in the sky all day. In our area it is currently the time of year when the trees really start to turn. I guess we get fall just as the rest of the country sees the first signs of full blown winter. So a clear blue sky + fiery red orange and yellow trees resulted in one of the nicest days we have had in months, and likely one of the last clear days we will see for some time to come. Luckily for me I work in Almaden Valley as a nanny and there is tons of open space out there, so I was able to document the existance of the sun before the onslaught of coulds obscure it from our memory.
One of the other perks of being a nanny is that it affords me the opportunity to cook at work with the kids. So today I did something brave. I made a cake that is decidedly healthy and trust me, with the kids I watch this is a bit of a risk, they are serious about their treats!

Since it has come out I have been curious/fearful of Jessica Seinfeld's book "Deceptively Delicious." For those of you that don't know Jerry Seinfeld's wife put out a cook book devoted to tricking kids into eating healthy. This is a childcare tactic that I find a bit off putting, but when I was at the Library with the kids last week her book was on display and I grabbed it compulsively on the way out the door. So today I let my four year old charge pick a recipe and we made it together.

She picked chocolate chip cupcakes, but she wanted it to be bread, so we cooked it in a bread pan. The recipe has no eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar, pureed pumpkin and squash (it called for yellow, but I used acorn) and the most fear inspiering fact of all, NO BUTTER. Yikes!! Oddly enough the bread turned out prettygoo, despite it being rather orange, and smelling like popcorn while it cooked. I don't think that any kid would be fooled into thinking it was a "real cupcake" but they would of course accept it as a treat. For those of you who are brave enough to try vegetable laced cupcakes or bread, here you go.

AND, I feel it is only fair for me to offer up what our cooking soundtrack for this afternoon was as I find that what you listen to while you cook may actualy be one of the morst important things of all. Todays pick: Paul Simon's "Graceland"

Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Jessica Seinfeld's Recipe in "Deceptively Delicious"
-One c. pumpkin puree (I used canned pumpkin)

1/2 c. pureed acorn squash (I just microwaved squash and mashed it with a fork)
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. canola oil
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. Flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350*
-Use oil or butter to coat a bread pan or muffin tin (muffin liners are fine too)
-In a large bowl mix the pumpkin, squash, water, oil and vanilla.
-Add the flour, baking soda, salt and the chocolate chips and mix well
-Pour the batter in to the pan that you are using and pop it into the oven. The cupcakes should take about 20-30 minutes, and baking it in a bread pan took about 50 minutes. The bread/cupcakes are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lets hear it for the underdog!!

Though they are not the most popular of all the vegetables I think that Brussels Sprouts are amazing. I have to admit that I have a thing for vegetables and all green food, so I realize that not everyone is going to share my love of the goofy little lettuce wannabes, but look at them people, don't they look gorgeous?

Also, interesting to note, they are Brussels Sprouts, not Brussel Sprouts. I don't know about everyone else on the planet, but that is news to me. Also the name gives me new insight into the likely birth country of these spherical little wonders.

I have to give Alex all the credit for these beauties. I work late on Tuesday nights so he generally makes dinner, and I have to say tonight he did a bang up job on the Brussels. There was also brown rice, spinach, carrots and bell peppers (see, I told you, were crazy for veggies) and some chicken sausage. Oh! and Simpler Times beer from Trader Joe's, the single best beer you can buy for $2.99 a six pack.

I have to admit, I am stuffed now, and my finger is throbbing. I managed to put a plate on a hot burner and of course got a nasty burn when I tried to grab it back up. All of this time in the kitchen is getting really dangerous, especially for someone like me that is so deeply prone to accidents.

Anyway I am assuming you know how to cook veggies and sausage in a skillet so I won't give you the recipe for that. I will however offer up this one piece of advice: as soon as the skin starts to brown and stick to the skillet a bit adding a splash of water keeps those plump juicy sausages from drying out. As for the rice, we have found that using = parts chicken stock and water as opposed to simply water makes all the difference taste wise.

As for the Brussels sprouts, my lovely cooking prodigy boyfriend adapted a recipe from a Rachel Ray magazine.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts-Originally Crispy Sesame-Crusted Brussels Sprouts, but we had no sesames :(

1/2 lb Brussels sprouts

1 tbs Sesame Oil

1 tbs Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Wash Brussels Sprouts and cut in half
  • Heat Sesame and Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  • Add Brussels sprouts and stir to coat with Oils
  • Season with Salt and pepper and cook (stirring frequently) for about 20 minutes. Make sure that all of the sprouts get cooking time on both sides for maximum crunch.
At this point the recipe calls for sesame seeds, which we were out of, but I bet it would be delicious. Just add them towards the end and let them cook long enough to brown a bit. Nom!


So we have done it, jumped on to the food blogging bandwagon. Oh and what a delicious bandwagon it is.
About us: A boyfriend (alex) and girlfriend (sarah-presently speaking) duo, one an aspiring pharmacy student, the other an aspiring nursing student, newly living together and trying to navigate this whole making all of your food for yourself buisness. And not living on ramen. Though I do LOVE ramen.
A few disclaimers:
1. We are not chef's by any means but we love to eat. A lot!
2. We are also not photographers and do not have fancy cameras, but we will try to make this as aesthetically pleasing as we can.
That being said read our blog!! And to start your december off right we have included a picture of our LOVELY x-mas tree Chaz. That tree is one cool dude.