Thursday, October 30, 2008

Early Thanksgiving

So this past Sunday, I decided to have a little thanksgiving Dinner with the boyfriend, since He'll be in Japan for the actual thanksgiving.

Maple Walnut Turkey
  • Turkey Breast
  • 1/2 cup Maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts
  • Package of Rice

1. Use Uncle Ben's Long Grained Rice (I used a package of white I had) combine with the water, and pour into the bottom of the crock pot.
2. Place the turkey in skin side up.
3. Pour maple syrup & walnuts in.
4. Set on low & cook for 5 hours.

OUTCOME: Um, so the store didn't have turkey breast, they had turkey cutlets. AND I put it on high instead of low. So they were dry. Like Saharan Africa dry. I didn't even eat the turkey, although it did taste good. Next time I won't be so absent minded.


The Success of the night:

Green Beans & Carrots

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp Mrs. Dash Seasoning
  • Chopped Basil (about 3 leaves)

1. Cook green beans in carrots until tender. We did this by microwave for about 12 minutes.
2. Melt butter and combine seasoning and basil. Mix. Our over Veggies.
3. Enjoy

OVERALL: So honestly (and my boyfriend will agree) these were so fucking good. I actually went back for seconds BEFORE I went back for more sweet potato pie *gasp* He is the one who actually made them, so all credit goes towards him!

His Plate: In a clockwise direction, The overdone Turkey, Green Beans & Carrots, Sweet potato Pie, Mashes Potatoes

My Plate: Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Pie, Chicken from the night before, Green Beans & Carrots, Cranberry

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Grandpa' Joe's Cheesecake

Sorry I've been gone for a while. My boyfriend is in town and I'm spending as much time with him as I can before he leaves for Japan for 2 years. I've been bragging about a cheesecake my grandpa made when I was little. We just called it Italian Cheesecake.

Grandpa Joe's "Italian" Cheesecake

3lbs of Ricotta Cheese
8 eggs (I did 2 eggs and 6 egg yolks)
1.5 cups sugar
0.5 cup flour
0.5 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
Graham Cracker crumbs.

1. Heat the oven to 425.

2. In a VERY large bowl beat the Ricotta until smooth. gradually add in the eggs, beating after every addition. Once the mixture is smooth, add the sugar and flour. Beat. Add the Lemon zest, vanilla, and heavy cream. The mixture should be smooth, no lumps.

3. Butter the sides of a large spring pan. Sprinkle the graham crackers over, making sure they stick. For a thicker crust, add more crumbs but make sure to press them down.

4. Pour in the batter. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes. Then turn the oven temp down to 350 degrees and cook for an hour. After the hour, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake cool for about 10 minutes.

5. Refrigerate for about 3 hours before serving.

OVERALL: This is honestly my FAVORITE cheesecake ever. It's not nearly as sweet as cream cheese based cheesecakes, but is still smooth and rich. It would go great with any type of topping be it fruit, chocolate, or even a base for a pumpkin pie cheesecake. My boyfriend really like it, never having a ricotta cheesecake. But watch out, it's really not that healthy for you, so make this when you are having company over or giving some away because, trust me, you WILL eat it all if precautions aren't taking.

This recipe is very near and dear to my heart. I hope you guys try it and love it as much as I do :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Acorn Squash

Inspired by Tyler Florence's recipe for roasted Acorn Squash, I went out to try one. Believe it or not the store didn't have any, so instead i got Golden Acorn Squash- not REALLY sure of the difference...

Yesterday, I noticed this months food challenge was acorn squash, orange, and sage. So I decided to play along with that, as well as making the original recipe I saw. Funnily enough, we didn't have oranges.

Roasted (Golden) Acorn Squash

1/2 Acorn Squash
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar

1. I par boiled the squash for about 8 minutes so it softened up.
2. Melt the butter, adding in the sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
3. Heat the oven to 400. Paint the squash with the butter mixture.
4. Cook for 20 minutes, until tender.

Roasted Acorn Squash Version 2
1/2 Acorn squash
1/2 stick melted butter
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 tbsp sage
I'm pretty sure you could add some orange zest/orange concentrate for flavor. About 1/2 orange zested or 2 tbsp orange concentrate. You might wanna 86 the garlic then.

1. Same procedure as above, only combine sage and orange zest/concentrate to the butter.

Overall: SO I've never had squash before and I probably won't have it again. The sage one was really bad. Never make that. The first one wasn't bad, but being that I never had squash, the texture really threw me off. Very stringy and the strings were hard. Maybe I didn't cook it enough? It seriously needs to be like pureed for me to try this again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Catalina Chicken

So this is a recipe my mom made for my sister and I when we were little.

Catalina Chicken

3 Frozen Chicken Breast (You could use split breast or thighs as well, I just don't like the dark meat)
1 cup Catalina Dressing
1 cup Apricot Preservatives
1 package French Onion Soup Mix

1/2 thinly sliced potatoes (i'd suggest Yukon gold potatoes)
1/2 cup sweet onion/pearl onions

1. Now there are 2 options to prepare this meal. I remember my mom would bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. I opted for the slow cooker.

2. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker/crock pot. Set on Low and cook for 12 hours OR you can do what I did and set on low for about 6 hours, then switched to high for about 3 hours.

OVERALL: Well, I stupidly added water to the mixture, completely forgetting that the water from the frozen chicken would add to the sauce. So mine came out kinda soupy. Next time I'll add maybe a little bit of water. (I added about 2/3 cup, D'oh!)

But the flavor is awesome and the chicken shreds apart, and it's so yummy. Brings back childhood memories. I should warn that the chicken comes out a bit dry, but it doesn't bother me too much, it might turn out moister with dark meat. But my picky roommate liked it so that has to mean something.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

My favorite thing about autumn is Pumpkin. I love the smell, taste, texture, and color. Pumpkin Lattes, Pumpkin Muffins, Pumpkin soups, so good. I've been saving this recipe for a while...

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Recipe provided by Skinny Chef

5 cups day-old cubed challah, brioche or whole-wheat baguette (I used Challah)
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground clove (I didn't have clove so I added some cinnamon. I have no idea clove was so expensive either...)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Non-stick cooking spray


In a large bowl, whisk the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, spices and salt. Add the bread cubes and stir. Set aside and allow to soak for 4-5 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed by the bread.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F and coat an 8-inch square baking dish or 5-quart round Dutch oven with cooking spray.
Gently fold in the pumpkin and chocolate chips. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and cover with foil. Bake 35 minutes or until mixture is slightly firm. Remove foil and continue to bake an additional 10-15 minutes until the chips are melted and the top has darkened slightly.

OVERALL: Pretty good. This is my first time making any type of bread pudding. Its not as sweet as you might think, since there is no white sugar. But it is pretty good. I Love the little chocolate chips, I think that adds a much needed texture. Do not confuse this with the taste of pumpkin pie. So many people think pumpkin is normally sweet-- it's not.

Pumpkin itself is pretty healthy for you, Skinny Chef explains "Pumpkin has tons of beta carotene, an important antioxidant..." It's a shame the most people only experience pumpkin in sweet foods. It's actually part of the squash family and can be cooked in the same way as a zucchini most of the time. Only reason I haven't bought a fresh pumpkin is because they are expensive & heavy.. which comes into play up 3 flights of stairs!

I will definitely make this dish for an upcoming Halloween party and for SURE on thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Kitchen Needs

This semester I moved into a apartment for the first time. Last year I lived in a dorm and was limited in my kitchen supplies. Basically all I had was Cuisinart Grill/griddle, a small cutting board, an old chefs knife, and a plate or two from target. Not that I don't love my Griddle (I do! I just made pancakes this morning), but I needed to expand my kitchen goodies. Granted, I have no job and no income, so this was going to be tough.

What every (poverty stricken college student's) kitchen needs:

Pot & Pans
Most mainstream stores like Target and Wal-Mart have some pots and pans
geared to college kids. I bought a set similar to this one. Granted, they aren't anywhere near the best quality. They are very light and made of aluminum. But, that doesn't mean they don't work as well. They still boil my water and cook the chicken.

If You would rather limit your pot collection (really, I think this is the minimum number of pans you need) because of space issues, or maybe you'd rather by nicer quality pans instead, a large sautee pan and a medium sized pot is all you really need. However, if you do start exploring cooking, you'll find that you do need a couple more pans.

So where can you keep your eye out? Head to Bed, Bath & Beyond, or Linens and Things. I picked up at $60 sautee pan for $5.50. It was slightly bent on the rim, but works just fine! Clearance centers are your friend :)


My favorite thing about cooking is cutting. As weird as that sounds, I like the sounds of a knife on a cutting board. Maybe that's a childhood noise I grew up with, my dad being a chef and all, but for me, it's comforting.

All you REALLY need is a good chefs knife and a paring knife in college. When I went to go buy some knives I was shocked at how expensive they were. $16 for a bread knife? $25 for a chefs knife? And I was at T.J. Maxx! I know thats good quality but I am jobless! Anways, I bought some cheap 41 piece set from target, which included a wooden block and a variety of knives. Granted they suck hardcore.

So really, feel free to splurge on a chefs knife, you can use it for just about anything. My roommate has a really nice one, and we all just use hers.


The question is how much do you like to bake? The absolute necessity is a baking sheet. They are used for so many things: Pizza, cresent rolls, cookies, bread sticks, even toast...I bought a really nice Cuisinart pan at T.J.Maxx for $9.

Everything else is depends on how much you want to bake. Many stores off disposable cake tins, or fancy ones to make someone a cake for their birthday.

Again, these can be found mostly anywhere, Instead of going to cheap shops like walmart and target, search instead for nicer items that are discounted. That is if you enjoy the hunt :)

  • Cutting Board- Just get the large one. Theres nothing more annoying that trying to trim chicken on a tiny cutting board. I was always taught only cut meat on plastic cutting boards. A helpful note (which I thought was common knowledge) DO NOT USE WOODEN CUTTING BOARDS FOR CUTTING MEATS OF ANY KIND. As Enghorn put it:
    "I know you can't put everything in it, but at least mention the difference between plastic and wooden cutting boards. GUH.

    That was joking, by the way. Honestly though, don't want readers getting salmonella because they have raw chicken stuff stuck in their cutting board

    I do enjoy the sturdiness of a wooden cutting board so I got one too. But the wood absorbs the juices of the meats, especially chicken. Wood absorbing salmonella is not cool!

  • Just a helpful note, if you are using a cutting board and it's moving around, put a wet paper towel underneath, it will stop moving :)
  • Measuring cups/spoons- If you plan on cooking a lot it's a good idea to invest.

So why am I writing this? Because A) my sister is going to college next year and probably will be wondering what to get, so this might come in handy B) I see a lot of people buying what they don't need, when they don't cook. That's just wasted money to me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Still not right :(

So I loved the cheesecake cupcakes I made a while back, I've tried on multiple occasions to make ricotta based cheesecake cupcakes.

Now I have a super awesome cheesecake recipe my grandpa made when I was little waiting in line to be made. But at the time I started fiddling around with this idea, I didn't have the recipe.

I don't remember the exact recipe, but I know I wasn't happy. I used a combination of Ricotta cheese, some cream cheese for the creaminess & stiffness, vanilla extract, and some sugar. As well as Resee Cup topping :)

I found that they weren't sweet enough for me and were lacking some serious flavor. Next time I'll try to mimic this lemon tart recipe from one of my favorite bloggers.

Trust me, they look better than they taste. Very bland. Any suggestions on how I could spruce this up?

I've got about 4 posts in the making this week. I went out today and got all but 2 of the ingredients. Go figure I forget something. Anyways, since exams are done (for about 2 weeks) I have time to play around.