Foodie Friday #9

Why hello again!

I’ve been making lots of food (cause I need to eat, of course), but only a few new things over the past couple of weeks.

Including some nice pizza crusts, for thin crust pizzas! I made a batch of this dough, divided it into four pizzas, so I’d have crusts that would fit in my trusty cast iron pan, which makes it so easy to come home, preheat the oven and stuff some toppings on the crust and stick the pizza in the oven for a couple of minutes basically until the cheese melts. Easy as pie, and a nice change of pace from having to make something each night, but the downside is having no leftovers for lunch.

I found a nice recipe for granola bars, which I’ve made twice now. The first time, I actually had some nuts, and I used crunchy peanut butter, so it felt like actual granola bar quality stuff, but it ended up being super crumbly. So the second time, I supplemented the oats with Rice Krispies, and added some more peanut butter, actually double the peanut butter, but it ended up being hard enough, but still crumbly, which I think was because the Rice Krispies fill up more air spaces than the nuts did, so I had more material to cover. I’ll be trying again sometime, once I actually get some more nuts.

The Kitchn had a nice recipe for ricotta spaetzle, which is probably going to be my go to meal every time ricotta is available to me. It was delicious and really easy to make! I need to work on some timing, though, so I’ll have nice fresh spaetzle as well as something to eat it with, because I’ve mostly been eating it with butter, since that’s the only thing available right after pulling them from the pot.

I ate the same potato and sweet potato for three days straight! The first day I had them straight from the oven with some cheese and salt, and some salt and sugar. The second day I cut them up to make something resembling a hash. And for dinner that night (and lunch and dinner the next) I included it in the next endeavor.

Have you ever watched a tv show, any tv show, and suddenly had a craving for whatever the characters (or people) were eating? I don’t know about you, but when I watch Supernatural I start to crave pie. This time, though I was watching the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and the restaurant made the most delicious looking pot pie. And I thought to myself, I love pot pie and I have puff pastry in the freezer: I think its time to make pot pie! I kinda just went by feel and the loose directions given in the show… I made a roux, cut up a carrot, added in the potato hash, added a cup of chicken stock, put in some pork (since it was my meat of the week). I covered it with puff pastry, and set it in a 375* oven. I then fried up the remaining puff pastry and topped with cinnamon sugar while I waited. And after a half hour or so, the pot pie came out smelling wonderfully! Since everything had been cooked previously (except the carrot), I didn’t have to worry about eating raw food, I was more worried about the puff pastry baking, and all in all, it was a good experiment!

Are you obsessed with ginger? Because I’m obsessed with ginger, and therefore it was time to make candied ginger! I used this recipe, which worked perfectly and created the most addictive ginger. Next time I might make thin coins instead, though, since the slivers were inconvenient to sift out of the sugar, but I kept the ginger sugar, as well as the crystallized syrup left over from the candying. I’m thinking tea!

I even used some of the ginger sugar in a baked apple I made! I recently bought these ginormous apples, which were nearly twice as big as my small fist. So what better to make than a baked apple? I mixed together some salt, some ginger sugar, some cinammon sugar, some brown sugar, and some toasted oats, and then stuffed it in a basically cored apple at 400* for 25 minutes. So good!

And a long anticipated bread update! I’ve been pretty satisfied with my bread, so much that I’ve begun to forgo the recipe, and I’ve started to just play around a bit. This week, though, I switched it up and made rolls, and they are delicious! I’ll probably end up wasting less bread this way, since they’re the perfect size to keep in my freezer and pull out for a lunch, while my bread has been been a bit too big to stuff in the freezer, even sliced, so I always run into the end of the bread that is basically inedible without lots of chewing or turning it into croutons. But with rolls, this could be different!

What have you been making?

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Foodie Friday #5

Short number of makes this week… Largely due to homework.

I can’t wait for homework to be finished forever… but then I have to worry about deadlines. I’m not sure which is better.

So anyways, I made a batch of my favorite cookies ever. Chocolate with white chocolate chips. Technically I got the recipe from my mom, and she got it off the back of the Nestle white chocolate chip bag. I’ve really been getting from the internet here.

Now, I mentioned that this is my favorite cookie recipe, right? I’ve made it at least five times in the past year, and each time it has come out differently. I’ve found that if you don’t have a mixer, it’s really best to let the butter soften naturally. I’m a big proponent to softening in microwave, but often some parts of the butter get melty and others stay fridge cold and that just won’t work well for this recipe. Three of the past five times I also found that I didn’t have enough wet ingredients to mix in the dry… So follow the instructions even if you don’t want to. Trust me… it’s better.

My other excursion this will was making tortillas. They’re not pretty and they’re a bit stiff, but they’re tasty! I used this recipe, so I could use up some more sourdough starter and coconut oil. I always forget to use the coconut oil when I’m reaching for oils, since it’s in a jar and not a pour bottle. So I used some here! The tortillas are quite good, especially with some nice spices and cheese to accent the contents! I made them at the same time as the bread, so when the bread rose the final time, I started frying the tortillas, to give you a time-frame.

And bread update: This week the bread dough was soft and gloopy and smooth and wonderful… And now I’m wondering what I’ve done wrong in the past. But suffice it to say, I’ve been loving my grilled cheese sandwiches!

Foodie Friday #4

The all important bread update: I obtained bread flour this week. And I used a recipe… For the most part. And yeast. I got yeast.

What really happened was that I determined that I was unwilling to wait on purely sourdough bread to rise… Meaning days. So I finally tried it with yeast, and added some bread flour and all purpose along with the wheat for good measure. All in all, a dough that rose and a bread that is only a little crumbly. Finally, a bread I can cut into slices less than an inch thick!

This week I also tried a bunch of new things.

Like smashed potatoes! Success! I’ve been looking for some lunch related sides that I can freeze in order to reduce time in the morning. My schedule has worked out so I only have early classes two days a week, so on those days I’m less likely to want to prepare lunch. Hence easy pull from freezer options! So smashed potatoes were up, since I had just bought a bag of little reds, and I was in a crush-things mood. Otherwise known as an avoid looking at homework mood. I seasoned mine rather simply, salt and pepper, and this Mrs. Dash everything type spice I found in the cabinet. The apartment I’m living in has collected a variety of food items over the years that have been left by previous tenants. Some, like the spice cabinet, are nice additions, since my spices of choice range in the number of 5, and others are not… Don’t ask me about the freezer. I’m still shuddering. Anyways, the potatoes are delicious, easy to reheat in the microwave, and a nice addition to my lunch arsenal. If I keep this up, though, I’m going to need to source slightly bigger potatoes. These were walnut size, and reminded me a bunch of the “You can’t eat just one” Lay’s campaign.

And gummies! Less of a success. I managed to make something resembling gummies quite well. I tried to use this recipe, but with fruit puree instead of juice, but then I stopped measuring… Which is likely why my gummies are not exactly room temperature friendly. They don’t melt or anything, but they taste like mush. Sweet mush nonetheless. Much better straight from the fridge. Also, I tried rolling some room temperature ones in sugar, like another tutorial suggested… That time they melted. It was almost like the sugar dehydrated them, by releasing the “juice” from the gummy. I ate them anyway, but they were too sickly sweet and liquidy to consider even vaguely gummies at that point. I’ll have to try freezing some, seeing how that one works, but all in all, this was a nice treat, and next time I’m stealing some of my roommates orange juice instead. Trying juice only.

And cookies… I made some cookies. This recipe is pretty good! I’ve tried it before and liked it, and when I next get the hankering for traditional chocolate chip cookies, I’m sure I’ll use it again!

Foodie Friday #3

(This was first published yesterday for about an hour and a half… But I refuse to make the same mistake two weeks in a row… So it’s reappeared for real today!)

So I’ve now completed my first two weeks of grad school, and in an effort to save money I’ve mostly been taking lunch into campus with me.

Over the summer I picked up some lunch supplies, meaning more dishes. I like kitchen supplies very much. So I found a nice thermos, for soups. It’s been too hot for soup.

I also picked up a nice, though largish, container, which has been nice for random pasta dish leftovers. And tapas like stuff. Helped out by silicone cupcake molds for spacing and separating.

But what I really like so far is my bento box. It’s not terribly pretty and I found out the hard way that it wasn’t leakproof. And I don’t even make the super pretty bento. You know the ones that look like pandas and Hello Kitty and are so sweet they hurt? I don’t make those… mostly because I don’t have the supplies or the will to obtain those supplies.

However, I like the structure of bento lunches. They’ve got easy to understand guidelines on how to put together your box and they are good for eaters like me. Aka those who like to eat little bits of everything instead of a lot of one thing. I’ve technically been eating the same stuff all week, but I’ve been puzzling them together in a variety of ways. Here is the site that helped me put together my bento plan for the semester: Just Bento. But simply using the guidelines half carbs, quarter veggies, quarter meat has been fantastic, and I (most of the time) don’t feel like snacking. Before lunch yes, but after lunch no.

It’s full of fun information, and lots of different ideas for filler items. I haven’t used any recipes from them yet, but these cabbage rolls, sweet veggie confetti, stir fried cabbage, and this kale-bacon-potato recipe sound delicious. This week my main filler items were cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market, sauerkraut, and refrigerator pickles.

In fact, the refrigerator pickles were fantastic enough to share more about them! I think I may have well established my love of the site The Kitchn. I had bookmarked it a few months ago, but I never got a cucumber from the store. Fast forward a month and a half and I have an ugly overripe cucumber sitting in my fridge. My roommate was doing a mini fridge clean and pulled it out of the crisper and wrote a note, saying “Bad?” I knew at that point I needed to either use it or trash it. Originally I planned to put it in mini quiches, but as I was searching for a recipe for those, I re-stumbled upon the refrigerator pickles recipe. I eyeballed the measurements, since I was working with a smaller amount of ingredients late at night, and most of the silverware was dirty. I then actually forgot about them for a few days, at which point I found them and added them to my box. So delicious! The “quiches” turned out well too, though they ended up more like mini omelettes. Eggs, milk, and cheese do not a quiche make.

And a bread update! I made another loaf! This time it cooked all the way through, and even looked fairly pretty. Excepting the bottom of the loaf, that wasn’t so pretty. Still dense though. For some reason my dough just isn’t rising. I was hoping not to need to use yeast in my bread recipes, but it looks like if I want something even vaguely fluffy, the starter needs some boost.

 

Foodie Friday

Remember how I told you I’ve been cooking a bunch? I’m thinking that Foodie Friday could become a regular thing, just in time for the weekend. That way you (and I for that matter) can have inspiration to try new things over the weekend!

Last week I went crazy over bread. I went a bit crazy on the bread front.

I started by wanting to make really good pancakes. While surfing the internet I read about “overnight” pancakes, where you make the batter the night before and let it do the fermenting-sourdough kind of thing. Reading through some Google searches, it looked like there were a variety of opinions on how to make these. Some involved baking powder, baking soda, and yeast. Others said recipes with baking powder would work, and those with baking soda would not because the soda is used for a more immediate rise. I didn’t feel like going through the hassle of the powder or soda. I also didn’t have buttermilk. Or much milk at all. So what I did instead was take a standard pancake recipe and remove the egg and leavening agents and add yeast instead. It ended up more like a wet dough as opposed to a batter. I dutifully put it in the fridge, and in the morning I globbed the dough into a pan. It took some flipping to get it to a pancake shape, as I had to keep squishing it flat in order to cook it, but it was certainly delicious! I even have some in my freezer for when I’ve just eaten too much oatmeal. Or wake up late. The latter is more likely.

Sourdough bread has always been a favorite of mine, and it has eluded me for years. I tried twice to make a sourdough starter, three and two years ago, and both failed epically. So I was determined this time. I found this picture post on the Kitchn, as well as this post on Pinch My Salt which is in reality for the bread recipe, but has links to her starter adventure. I successfully made a starter, which I was super excited about, but did not make a successful loaf. There was a whole gob of uncooked dough at the center, which I scooped out. The rest of the bread seems destined for crouton/cracker-esque status. Now that there’s an enormous hole. But I’m trying again this weekend, so never fear!

But while I was waiting for the starter to work, I also made a half batch of the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day dough. It gave me two loaves. One was ugly and dense, since I didn’t know exactly how to shape a loaf. The other was pretty and still awfully dense. It didn’t rise much in the oven, and  I’m not certain that I let it rise enough the first time anyway. Maybe its because I baked it on a normal baking sheet, and without the steam container. It was the first time I used the oven in this apartment, and I was just happy to make the bread itself, without the fancy bits. Maybe next time.

I’ve cooled off a bit on the bread since then, but weekly, I’ll be trying the sourdough until I get it right!