Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pasta puttanesca! (BEDA #17)

For those of you who don't read my personal blog, I'm doing Blog Every Day in April, aka BEDA! I don't have much to say about today so I thought I'd post a good recipe I've been making a lot recently :)

Soooo "A Series of Unfortunate Events" is probably the reason I ever tried puttanesca sauce. In the first book, the Baudelaire orphans are commanded to make dinner for Count Olaf and his gross theater troupe and they decided to make puttanesca! (By the way, I finally finished the entire series this year, and the ending sucked.)

But my point is, I decided to make puttanesca! It's full of really strong flavors but if you're feeling adventurous you should give it a shot! Nathan hates olives but he can mostly deal with the amount I put in :) I stole this recipe from a New York Times article I found online, and tweaked it a bit.

Pasta Puttanesca

Salt to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 or more cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
3 or more anchovy fillets
2 cans of petite diced tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup pitted Greek/kalamata olives, chopped (I use way less)
2 tablespoons capers
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
~1/2 pound linguine or other long pasta (I use thin spaghetti; angel hair is a bad choice)
Chopped fresh parsley, oregano, marjoram or basil leaves for garnish, optional

1. Bring pot of water to boil and salt it. Warm 2 tablespoons oil with garlic and anchovies in skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly golden.

2. Drain tomatoes and crush with fork or hands. Add to skillet, with some salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and mixture becomes saucy, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives, capers and red pepper flakes, and continue to simmer.

3. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until it is tender but not mushy. Drain quickly and toss with sauce and remaining tablespoon of oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, garnish with herbs if you like, and serve.

I kept the directions the same but changed the ingredients a bit. I use a whole tin of anchovies but you can definitely use less, although do not skip them. If you say you don't like anchovy flavor, realize that it's a main ingredient in Caesar salad dressing and a lot of Asian food. The fish themselves kind of melt when they're heated with the garlic and oil anyway. Speaking of garlic, I just toss it in the pan willy-nilly. I like lots of garlic so I put a lot in there. Go easy on the red pepper flakes if you're not into super spicy. And when the sauce is done, I don't add any extra herbs or spices, it usually tastes BOMB.

Yum :) I hope someone tries this out. It's SUPER good! Be brave, dear readers. Also, sorry I haven't uploaded a recipe in forever.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Food related craft!

Hey there! Sorry for not updating, I've been really busy! I don't have a recipe today, but I have a really cool craft to show you! Nathan and I made this earlier today and it was really simple and relatively inexpensive!

This is a super awesome PICTURE FRAME MENU BOARD :)

I used a 10x20 inch frame, half a yard of fabric, a couple spools of ribbon, a bit of tacky glue, and some chip board stickers!

We could have spray painted the wooden part of the frame a different color but we liked the blue and black! Anyway, I wish I had taken step by step pictures, but it's pretty simple! We covered the back of the frame (behind the glass, where the picture usually goes) with fabric, and glued six pieces of ribbon onto the fabric to make seven nearly equal sections. I layered a thinner black ribbon on the thicker blue ribbon! It's all your personal preference!

So put the frame back together, and then put chip board stickers right on the glass in the different sections! Now all you need is a dry erase marker and you're good to go! Check out this closeup:

This was super, super easy so check out the thrift stores to try to find a frame you like! This will probably be my go-to housewarming/wedding gift from now on :)

I should probably give credit to my friend Brittany Glenn! We were supposed to make something like this together when I was visiting Washington last month, but I didn't get a chance to hang out with her! Thanks Brittany!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deutsches Abendessen! (or, German Dinner!)

Just a little refresher, in case you forgot: I LOVE GERMANY. I love the people, I love the language, and I love the food. I spent most of my time last summer in Baden-Württemberg, the most southwest state in Germany, which includes the region of Swabia. Swabian food was very, very good to me, and I finally found two great recipes (on, go figure... pardon my copypasta) for my favorite meal: Maultaschen and Swabisch Kartoffelsalat! Or, German ravioli and potato salad!


Noodle Dough:
  • 2 2/3 c. all purpose flour (300 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T. oil
  • 3 T. water
Meat Filling:
  • 2-3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 oz. (25 grams) day-old bread or rolls, cut into cubes and sprinkled with 2 T. water
  • 5 oz. frozen spinach (1/2 package), thawed, squeezed dry and chopped
  • 2 T. fresh or 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 T. spicy mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 8 oz. ground beef, pork, or turkey
  • 1 egg.
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
For Cooking:
  • 1-2 quarts broth (beef or other; I used chicken)

    Mix flour with salt, eggs, oil and just enough water to make a smooth dough. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until satin-y. Form dough into a ball, oil surface, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for at least an hour.

    Cook bacon and remove from pan. Sauté onions and garlic in bacon drippings until translucent. Cook the ground meat and drain. Mix all filling ingredients well. If you want a finer texture, put ingredients through a food processor for a few seconds, which I did.

    Make the Maultaschen:
    Roll out 1/2 dough to 1/8 inch thickness or thinner. You should have a sheet about 12 inches by 18 inches. (You may also use a noodle roller to make flat sheets with 1/5 of dough at at time.)
    Score dough with a knife, one time through lengthwise and five perpendicular cuts to make 1 dozen rectangles.
    Place one tablespoon dough on each rectangle.
    Fold rectangle over and pinch sides to close.
    Repeat with the other half of dough.
    Bring broth to a simmer and place 1/3 of the Maultaschen in the broth. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes. Remove and drain. Keep warm if not serving immediately. Repeat with the rest of the Maultaschen.
    Serve in bowl with some broth and sprinkled with chives and/or parsley.

    Potato Salad
    • 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed
    • 1 c. broth (beef, vegetable or chicken; again, I used chicken)
    • 3 T. cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
    • 2 T. cooking oil
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1 T. prepared mustard
    • 1/2 c. chopped onion
    • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
    Place whole potatoes in a pan, add cold water to almost cover, bring to a boil and cook until done, about 20-30 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and peel while they are still warm. Use a mandolin to slice thinly or slice with a knife 1/8 inch thick. Place in a bowl. Pour the broth over the warm potatoes and mix gently. Let sit 5 minutes.
    In a second bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar, mustard, finely chopped onion and pepper to make a vinaigrette. Pour over the potatoes and mix gently. Potatoes will crumble a bit, but that is expected.
    Allow the potatoes to marinate for 20 minutes before serving. Serve lukewarm or room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.
    *I used Russet potatoes. Yukon Golds are the best for this particular salad, but if you happen to live in Idaho and the only potatoes you can afford are Russets (like me) you have to be extra vigilant about watching them while they're boiling. If they get too mushy it won't work. A trick is to poke the potato with a fork; if you can get it all the way in with a little bit of resistance, it's done. Remove and drain them now! Any mushier than that and you might need to start over.

    Okay, seriously, this was awesome. It wasn't AS good as the stuff I had in Germany last year, but it's pretty darn close! I followed this recipe exactly and both dishes were awesome. This was Nathan's first experience with German food (well, almost... I attempted the potato salad last fall with terrible under-cooked results, sorry in-laws!) and he LOVED it. It's a bit labor intensive, so we decided to have German Night once a month. How about you guys? Any interest in trying this food? If you're lucky, I'll cook it for you when we're in Washington in August ;) If you're not in Washington... make it yourself! The hardest part is making the noodle dough and even that isn't too hard, it just takes time!

    Bonus awesome: I got a job! I just got off the phone with the lady who OFFICIALLY offered me the job. Yesterday, I had an interview where I was told that I'd be offered the job tomorrow, and he wasn't lying! I'm going to be working on campus starting this fall as a transcriber for deaf and hard-of-hearing students! My online training starts on July 7, and it won't disrupt our plans to go home for a month!

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Your Favorite Weird Foods

    Okay, fess up. I know all of you have your favorite food combinations that you wouldn't dare admit to, or even eat in front of other people. I am no exception, and I want to open the floor to everyone's bizarre food preferences, so let's get it started.

    My favorite after school snack in high school was chocolatey cereal + chips and salsa. It's SOOOOO good. You take a bite of cereal, and then eat a chip or two. Take another bite of cereal, and then more chips and salsa. The idea was never to mix the two, but to follow one with another until all the cereal was gone. It was ridiculously satisfying and I dearly wish we had some chips, chocolate cereal, and milk. The best salsa was the kind you can get in the refrigerated section, or the homemade salsa I posted the recipe to back in February or March or something. My preferred chocolate cereal was Cocoa Dyno-Bites... the kind in the bag. Chips can go either way. It's a perfect combination.

    This one is retired as it involves peanut butter, but my dad got me hooked on PB&J dipped in Cream of Mushroom soup. It was an ideal for a quick and easy lunch after church. My dad and I would split a can of soup and he'd make me a sandwich and cut it into triangles. It's a shame I can't stomach peanut butter, because I miss how easy and delicious this nasty-sounding lunch was! It's not the same with just a jelly sandwich, too. I've tried.

    Best man and surprise visitor Nathan Coon told me that he loves putting soy sauce on scrambled eggs. A part of me doesn't think that's weird, because I think soy sauce improves pretty much everything, but this is definitely outside a lot of people's comfort zone. As a matter of fact, I think that sounds pretty good so when I'm done posting this, I might whip up some eggs with soy sauce for the Nathans and myself.

    My token Asian friend Krislynn is full of crazy food combinations! She likes to dress up her Top Ramen with sliced spam and a fried egg. I had spaghetti at her house back in high school and was completely caught off guard when the marinara sauce had a bunch of sugar added! One of her favorite breakfast foods was stolen from Neopets: a pizza omelet! She cuts up a slice of leftover pizza and mixes it with her eggs!

    Alright, time to share! Comment with your favorite weird food and stay tuned for a new recipe post in a day or two :)

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Tom Kha Gai, or "How Rebekah is Ashamed for Never Posting"

    Yeah yeah, don't rub it in. I could share a whole HOST of reasons why I haven't updated in forever, but basically I've just been rotating the recipes I've already shared and haven't cooked anything new! However, I am going to start EARNESTLY trying to post something new every week. If not a new recipe, then a features article about food or cooking! Please forgive me, loyal readers. If you have any specific foods that you'd like to see on this blog, leave me a comment and I will try my best to find a great recipe! Now, onto today's recipe...

    A little background, I love Thai food. If you don't, you should, because Thai food is AMAZING. I love the bold flavors, and the fresh vegetables, and how light everything is. I'm not exactly a calorie-counting kinda lady, but even I am prone to feel guilty when I eat ridiculously greasy food, but Thai food never makes me feel bad. The two dishes I love best are Gai Pad King (ginger chicken) and Tom Kha Gai.

    Tom Kha Gai is a chicken soup made with coconut milk. It's creamy and a bit sweet, but not too sweet. Not everyone's a big fan of soup as a filling dinner, but if you stir in some brown rice, it's as satisfying as anything else you could eat. You'll have to forgive my picture quality (taken on my cell phone, since we couldn't find the camera) and the not-exactness of the recipe... I took ideas from several recipes I found online but I pretty much made this up, and it turned out just as good as any restaurant's version! Since this is a bit touch-and-go, if you're not feeling brave enough to try out a brand new recipe without exact amounts, I'd suggest getting some at a Thai restaurant so you know what it's supposed to taste like. If you're in Marysville, Mae Phim has a great version of it (Mai's Thai, which is my favorite for all other things Thai, has a version that is a bit more sour than I care for) and if you're in Rexburg, Original Thai's recipe is spectacular! Give it a try!

    1 lb boneless skinless chicken
    Chicken broth
    One can of coconut milk
    Ginger (I used ginger paste, which worked out awesome)
    Green onions
    Fish sauce
    One small can of mushrooms
    One small can of baby corn
    One lemon (for zest and juice)
    Red pepper flakes
    Dash of garlic powder

    Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and saute it with a little bit of vegetable oil until it's done. Set aside. About the chicken broth... I started off with two cups of it and added half a can of coconut milk, but then I decided I wanted to use ALL of the coconut milk, which you must DEFINITELY shake before adding, so I added two (or so; what did I say about not being exact?) more cups of broth. In this instance I would HIGHLY HIGHLY suggest picking up some Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base so you aren't constrained by cups or cans or boxes. It's really easy, you just boil water and add some of the paste until it tastes good to you, and it's not horribly salty like normal bouillon cubes or powder. Stir in some ginger paste (or fresh slices, or powder, I'm sure the overall effect will be the same but the paste was quite successful in my experience) until you can just taste the ginger without overpowering the other flavors. Of course, if you like ginger, feel free to add more, but there I go again. Wash and slice the white part of the green onions and add them to the mix. Chop up some of the green part of the onion and set it aside for garnish. Now onto the fish sauce. Fish sauce smells nasty, people. Try not to let it bother you, though, because its effect is astounding in this soup. Add a few tablespoons and prepare to be amazed, though I would suggest not inhaling it before you add it as it might deter you from doing so. Drain the mushrooms and the baby corn and add it into the mix. If you have a lemon zester tool, add some zest to the soup. If you don't, no worries. Whether or not you added the zest, cut the lemon in half and squeeze some juice into the soup, but not too much. If you want your soup with a bit of a kick, add some red pepper flakes. Stir in a dash of garlic powder, and season with a bit of salt and pepper if you wish, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Dish up some brown rice in your bowl and then add the soup itself. Put some of those sliced green onions on top to give it a little more color and yet another different flavor.

    Verbose much? I'm going to work on this recipe, to see if I can make it a bit more specific, but even now this soup is awesome and completely worth the guesswork. I'm really proud of myself for how it turned out and I highly recommend it. Nathan loved it and couldn't stop eating it :) He had to eventually, though, because it was all gone. It was that good.

    Like I said earlier in the post, if you have any suggestions of things you want me to cook or write an essay about, please leave them in the comments! If I get requests, I'll be more motivated to post regularly! Cheap move, I know, but cut me some slack.

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Day Six: Crockpot Lasagna!

    All credit for this recipe goes HERE HERE HERE HERE HERE

    My friend Kayla linked me to it on another blog site, and I've made it twice so far! I really like it, but I used half of the ricotta cheese the recipe suggests and I still thought it was a little much. I'm going to post the recipe to the way I did it but make sure you check out the link :)

    Crock Pot Lasagna

    1 pound ground beef
    1 whole onion, finely chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 jar spaghetti sauce (THIS is really good, and cheap!)
    1 small can tomato sauce
    8 oz ricotta cheese
    ¼ cups milk
    1 egg
    16 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (we only had 8 oz but it was good)
    ½ cups shredded parmesan/romano cheese
    1 package (8 oz.) no-boil lasagna noodles (we used homemade noodles!)

    Brown the beef, onion, and garlic in a frying pan. Drain off any grease. Add the spaghetti & tomato sauce into the browned meat mixture. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, milk, and egg. Beat until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Then mix in the mozzarella cheese and the grated cheese, so that all the cheeses are combined. Grease the crock pot with some Pam or shortening.

    Put about 1/4 of the meat and sauce mixture in the bottom of the crock pot. Put a layer of noodles on top of that (break or cut them if needed). Put about 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of that. Then repeat with sauce, noodles, cheese for another 2 layers. Top with meat sauce. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until noodles are tender. (Since our noodles were homemade yesterday, we cooked it for three hours and it was great!)

    We had my fake-son Gary over for a belated birthday dinner (he turned 19 on Wednesday) and I also made him a CAKE! It wasn't homemade, unfortunately, but it was pretty danged delicious. Triple chocolate fudge cake with cream cheese frosting. Soooo delicious.

     (Yes, those are matches instead of candles...)

    Enjoy some classy cake-eating pictures after the cut!

    (Late) Day Five: Things you can make with Cream of Mushroom soup!

    I'm not even kidding right now.

    I looooove Cream of Mushroom soup. It's so good by itself, but the magic of this soup are the things you can do WITH it. This post is dedicated to my mom, who is the QUEEN of things made out of Cream of Mushroom soup. My parents have soooooo much of this soup in their basement, and they hardly ever make it as regular soup. I will preface the recipes by saying that the soup is NOT a pretty soup to look at. It's gray. All of the recipes I'm going to share are going to end up gray. They're not particularly aesthetically pleasing, but if you can get past the color palette, your taste buds will thank you. I have never been disappointed with any of the recipes I'm going to share.

    I'll start with the weirdest recipe first, with the least appetizing name.

    Tuna Sauce on Rice

    1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
    1 can of tuna, drained
    1/2 soup can of water
    Cooked white (or brown, I guess) rice
    Random seasonings... garlic powder, Mrs. Dash, black pepper, whatever

    Dump the soup, tuna, and water in a saucepan. Stir it up until everything is uniform and the tuna chunks are all broken up. If you have a cat, leave the tuna can out for them to finish off. Turn the burner onto medium heat. Add some random seasonings. The ones I listed are the ones I prefer, although you can really go any which way. It's going to turn out good. When the sauce is bubbling, serve it on top of rice. SO good.

    Really Really Really Good Roast Beef

    This is probably the easiest recipe I've got for you today. You can make it in a crockpot or a regular roasting pan, and I'm not going to worry you with cooking times, since it all depends on the size of the roast, which method you use (oven or crockpot), and how well-done you like it. Google :)

    1 envelope (Lipton) onion soup mix
    1-2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup (depending on the size of the roast)
    ROAST BEEF, unroasted
    Vegetables that I like with roast beef: carrots, potatoes, and onions

    If you're making this in the crockpot, put about a half cup of water in the bottom. If you're putting in carrots, put them on the bottom of the pot, since they take the longest to cook. Put the roast on top of the carrots (or on the bottom of the pot if no carrots are present) and assemble the potatoes and onion around it. Mix the onion soup mix with the Cream of Mushroom soup and spoon it on top of the roast as evenly as you can. You can season it with other stuff, but NOT SALT, since the onion soup mix is plenty salty. Figure out via the internet (or just... memory if you've been cooking roasts a lot) how long it needs to be in the crockpot! Here is a good chart of crockpot cooking times!

    If you're making it in a roasting pan, there is no need to add water, but make sure the carrots are at the bottom of the pan, although they don't need to be underneath the roast this time. Same rules apply otherwise though! Cook it at 300 or 325 for however long... It's all really dependent on how big your roast is and how done you like it. Here is a good article about oven roasting.

    If you have leftovers, you can chop them up and use them in the next recipe!

    Beef Stroganoff

    1 pound of ground beef
    1 onion
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1/2 soup can of water or milk
    Extra sliced mushrooms, if you wish
    Mrs. Dash (table blend is the best)
    Sour cream

    Cook the ground beef with the onion until both are fully cooked. Saute the mushrooms separately until they're soft. In a saucepan, combine the soup with the water and stir until fully mixed. Add the meat, onions, and mushrooms. Put it on over medium heat and season it according to your wishes. I would highly HIGHLY recommend Mrs. Dash for the stroganoff, but if you don't have it then salt, pepper, some onion powder, and just a BIT of garlic powder (I am quite liberal with it in the tuna sauce, but the stroganoff only needs a bit) will do you just fine. In the minute or so before you serve the stroganoff, add a healthy dollop of sour cream and mix in well. Serve it over noodles or rice.

    Like I said, not that pretty, but mmmmmmm, delicious.

    A note about noodles: it goes best, texture-wise, with something like penne, but I think that egg noodles like these ones are the BEST with stroganoff, although honestly, anything will do. Just don't do spaghetti, angel hair, linguine, fettucini or anything else along those long, skinny lines.

    Day six will be up later this evening! We just have to make it first ;)