Category Archives: Food

Stuffed!

On tonight’s agenda, stuffing! I’ve never made stuffing before, except the kind in the box where you just add in the chicken stock. So this was a challenge to me to make sure it tasted okay. And to make it harder on myself, I found two different recipes that I liked and combined them together and hoped it would be alright. And ya know what? It turned out really good!

So here is my own personal stuffing recipe that I adapted. :) Once again, this makes a LOT so feel free to halve it for a smaller group.

Savory Mushroom, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing

2 10 oz bag herbed stuffing cubes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan and topping
1 pound fresh pork country or breakfast sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 apples (I used Fuji apples), peeled, cored, and chopped
salt to taste
4 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned (2 cans)
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms – Any type will do, but I used about 1 lb of bella mushrooms sliced, and 2 handfuls *accurate I know* of dried shitake mushrooms because they are very hearty
1 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Put the stuffing cubes in a large bowl and set aside.
Butter a 3-quart casserole dish.
In a small pot, add stock and bring to a boil. Add in dried shitake to rehydrate.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the sausage and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until it loses most of its pink color, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and pan drippings to the stuffing cubes.
Melt the remaining butter in the pan. Add the onion, apple, mushrooms, and salt. Cook until the vegetables get soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
Pour the vegetable mixture over the stuffing cubes and toss until evenly moistened.
Whisk the cream, eggs, and pepper, to taste, in a large bowl and add to stuffing mixture.
Transfer stuffing to prepared pan and cook uncovered until the top forms a crust, about 40 minutes. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the top. Cook until the top is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes more.

Enjoy!

Tomorrow morning before we head out, dessert!

Bacon makes everything better

I woke up this morning and the house still smelled like bacon from last night. Mmmm! The potato salad turned out pretty well, so I thought I would share the recipe I used. It makes 2 quarts though (!!!!!) so be sure to halve the recipe if it is not for a big party/gathering. I got it from The Idaho Potato Commission which has lots of other great potato ideas too.

INGREDIENTS:

4 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled
1 pound bacon, crisply cooked, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (fat reserved, if desired)
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 cups grated or shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream (regular or low-fat)
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

Cook whole potatoes in boiling, unsalted water until tender. Refrigerate until chilled, then chop into one-inch pieces.
Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl along with the remaining ingredients and thoroughly combine. Add some of the reserved bacon fat if desired.
Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Adjust the seasoning prior to serving.

Note: Any condiments or toppings typically added to a loaded baked potato may be used for this recipe.

Even vampires could use some sweets


It’s been awhile since I’ve baked anything, but when I saw the vampire cupcakes over at bakingbites.com, I knew I just had to make them! I had been very blah about Halloween up until then. I changed things up slightly with my version. I’m not too big of a fan of cherry, so I found some strawberry pie filling to use instead for the blood. And as much as I like my co-workers, who will be eating them, I didn’t want to spend the time on making my own frosting. So I got some frosting in a can and mixed it up with some whipped cream cheese. Consider my version like a strawberry cheesecake cupcake if you will. :) I will be definitely making these again!!

Red Lentil Soup with Curry and Coconut Milk

3 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 cup red lentils
3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
14-oz. can of coconut milk (can use Lite coconut milk)
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 Tbs. curry powder, preferably hot
½ cup chopped cilantro

1. In medium saucepan, heat 2 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups water, lentils, carrots, coconut milk, 1 tsp. salt and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until lentils are tender – about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in small skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder and cilantro. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add to soup.

3. Remove bay leaf. In food processor or blender, puree soup in batches until velvety smooth. Taste, add a bit more salt if desired. Serve hot.

Makes 4-6 servings.

If you don’t like pureed soups, quinoa and cut up meatballs added to this soup works very well!

*Hiccup*

Is it in bad form to get drunk at one in the afternoon when you’re not in Vegas or at Mardi Gras? Classy I am, I know. I had intentions to go to Moreno Valley to check out Salo Salo Grill after hearing so much about it from Angela, but didn’t find time to head that direction. Instead today we went to Rancho Cucamonga to Victoria Gardens where they were having a Wine Festival. It was very minimal, with only three wineries there, but oooooooooh tasty. For $5, I got seven ounces of pure bliss. In attendance was Joseph Filippi Winery and I had some of their Fondanté Ciello – “Sweet Heaven” Port. Very chocolatey and at 18% alcohol, 7 ounces, empty stomach and warm weather….I got quite drunk pretty fast. Oops. Jason was entertained by my utter silliness and a pastrami sandwich and chilli cheese fries from The Hat never tasted so good. For dessert, Pinkberry! Original with mochi. Mmmmmm.

In other news, Jason wants to be able to carry me by our one year anniversary. No comment. :-P LOL Is it doable? Sure. Very easily? Hmm…that’s another story. But I vow to put my best foot forward in losing weight and getting in shape. We’ll see how things go.

Che Dau

So simple and oh so good. Every so often I miss my mom’s cooking and the stuff I can find in Monterey Park and find a way to whip it up myself. Che dau is a variety of different Vietnamese desserts that use beans. You can usually find these in plastic cups at a banh mi shop. I made the one below last weekend. The rice kind of stuck at the bottom of the pan, I can’t stand when that happens. I wonder if this would work in a rice cooker…

Other recipes to come in the future! :-)

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1/2 cup dry black-eyed peas
5 cups water
1/2 cup glutinious rice
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Soak black-eyed peas in warm water for three hours or overnight
2. In a small saucepan, combine black-eyed peas and three cups fresh water. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to medium and cook peas until done – about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. In a separate saucepan, combine rice and two cups water. Bring to a boil, turn heat to medium. Stir black-eyed peas into rice and cook about 10 minutes. Pudding should look thick and soupy.
4. Reserve 1/2 cup coconut millk for sauce. Stir remaining coconut milk, sugar, and salt into pudding. Stir vigorously over low heat for about two minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
5. Heat remaining coconut milk, add sugar to taste and 1 tsp tapioca starch to thicken for sauce.

Serve in a small bowl or cup and spoon coconut sauce over the top. Serves 4

Dreamy

Last Saturday I went and did an introductory session over at Dream Dinners. If you’ve never heard of them, it is a meal assembly store to make cooking meals a little easier on those short on time or perhaps a little short on kitchen talent. They rotate items and have different menus every month to choose from. You sign up ahead of time for a session and pick out your meals. Then when it’s time to go there, all you need to do is bring along a cooler or box to pack up all your food. They’ve got several food prep stations laid out for each different meal they offer. When you get there, you get a set of labels with the food your ordered complete with cooking instructions and you go station to station and prepare your meals. Each station has a recipe list of the ingredients you will need. What is great is that outside of the main food item (meat usually), you can add or subtract the other ingredients to your liking. So if you like things spicy, you can add more heat. Don’t like ginger? Cut it out. The introductory offer was 3 meals (six servings each) for $50. About $3 a serving. After that, any future sessions are booked at a 36 serving minimum. You can do 6 serving meals or if you can do half that and do 3 serving meals if you’re feeding a smaller number of people. It is slightly more cost effective to do the 6 serving meals.

I found it to be super easy and so convenient! My three choices were garlic and balsamic marinated roast, Caribbean pork roast with honey mustard sauce, and stuffed flounder with white wine sauce. Everything is laid out for you at the different food stations and you just put the different ingredients into zip lock bags and you are all set. I love that the meats are all lean and lowfat as possible. Most of the recipes are pretty simple. I was able to remember most of the ingredients and jotted them all down when I got home. This way, if we like something I got through them and I can get a good deal on the meat through a sale, I will be able to make it myself for about the same price or cheaper!

I’ve already cooked the sirloin roast and it is sooo delish. Had it for lunch today. We are not big dinner eaters and are also cutting down our portions to lose some weight, so I was able to stretch the 6 servings into 8 and they are our Dream Lunches rather than dinner. The marinade made a wonderful sauce for the roast. They tell you to discard the marinade but why!?! Stick it on the stove and let it cook and reduce, add a bit of starch and it makes an amazing sauce to put over the meat. To go along with it, I made some spaghetti squash with grated mizithra cheese and some mushroom and quinoa risotto.

I’ve already signed up for another session for the end of October. It’s not something I would do every month…it’s a lot of food for two people on diets! But this is definitely something I would do a handful of times a year to try new things. It’s a great way to add new things to my cooking repertoire.

Is this a carb or a protein?

With my begging, Jason and I spent last night at the LA County Fair. It’s the foodie in me. I don’t go for the rides. Or the animals. Or all the weird stuff on sale. Point me to the the crazy deep fried stuff! It took some time to get there as we got lost along the way.

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But we finally made it after making a stop at the mall to get tickets through an AT&T store. Grabbed a map of the fair food and off we went! I wasn’t about to eat my way through the fair. All I wanted was to try some fried Coke. I mean really….who the hell thinks up of frying Coke!?! Took quite a bit of walking (gotta walk off what we eat afterall) and a lot of squirming through crowds but we eventually hit jackpot.

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A month’s worth of calories all in one photo. Fried veggies, fried s’more and of course, the fried Coke.

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The Coke and s’more were tasty!! The Coke looked like itty bitty bits of funnel cake made with Coke and then topped with whipped cream and a cherry. I think the cherry was the healthiest thing in the photo. The Coke flavor was subtle, but just right for me. The s’more was just a oozing pile of pure bliss. However, the veggies were no bueno. I think everyone was going after the sweets and they were sitting out for awhile. Blech. Make matters worse, I thought I would buy an ear of roasted corn to make up for the disastrous veggies. $4 for so so corn dripping in butter. I can make better corn than that. Lesson learned…just say no to veggies at the fair. ;-)

I think all that grease had side effects on my vision…

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In the end, we had spent at most two hours there. We left the house with $100 in hand and came back with about $40. We didn’t even go on any rides. I don’t want to imagine how much other people are spending at the fair. At these costs, I find myself feeling that Disneyland is cheaper!