Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Brittle!

So last night I made a bunch of brittle with a friend. Wow! It was actually pretty easy. The thought of a candy thermometer intimidated me, but this $4 purchase was a godsend.

A couple of notes for Brittle in general and then the recipes
1. Aluminum foil is a very important step in the process. Make sure you use it. Also try to avoid overlaps in the paper - they tend to put ridges into the brittle where small pieces of tin foil stick
2. Non-stick cooking spray is SO important. We must have spend 5 minutes removing small pieces of foil from one brittle because I was an idiot
3. Baking sheet, shmaking sheet. I used a tray and a cookie plate, as well. Anything with a slight ridge will work, I think.
4. We used small clear gift bags and wrote out labels to put the brittle in. Each recipe made about 8 bags for us. Be careful to invest in sturdy bags - sharp ends of brittle can slide through plastic bags sometimes.

Okay, so we modified one recipe (out of necessity)

1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 cups roasted walnuts, broken in pieces
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 stick butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

1. prep you pan,tray, etc with foil and non-stick cooking spray
2. Small sauce pan (this is pretty important so that the candy thermometer can sit in it). I never know what small or medium means - for me, the ideal saucepan was about 4 inches deep and maybe 6 inches wide? 8 inches?
Okay, in that saucepan, put water and sugar in and stir lightly. Then add corn syrup and salt. Stick in the candy thermometer and then move it to medium-high heat. Cook until thermometer says 225 degrees.

4. Add walnuts and stir. temperature will go down a bit, but cook until the temperature reads 290 degrees

5. Remove from heat and then add butter, baking soda, and peanut butter - stir.

6. Pour into pan and let cool.

Original recipe

Second brittle we made was Ginger Sesame Brittle This one was my favorite recipe. It didn't make as much as I had thought it would, though, so I'd double this recipe. I also doubled the amount of ginger. It tasted very asian, unsurprisingly. Delicious!

Third brittle we made was Spicy Peanut Brittle. This recipe was kind of a pain because I couldn't find chipolte chile powder, but invested in new chile powder that did come from ground up chiles. This brittle wasn't bad, but it tasty a little cheesy. It was also a cheese-color. I think I'd use a different source of heat if I did this again, perhaps straight up cayenne?

Fourth brittle we made was a disaster. It's beer brittle, but I won't even link to the recipe because it still hasn't set 14 hourus later. When I figure out how to repair it, I'll let y'all know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where's the cornish game hen?

I've made versions of this recipe twice now, and both times it has impressed with presentation and taste.

1 Cornish game hen, defrosted
1/4 cup of butter melted in one bowl; another 1/4 cup of butter melted in another bowl
half a green bell pepper finely chopped
half of a red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup of sweet onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp of finely chopped garlic
handful of parsley finely chopped (probably 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp italian seasoning
salt & pepper

1. preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. In a bowl, mix everything but 1/4 cup of butter.
3. Place the bird in a baking dish. I have a casserole dish with a glass lid that works beautifully (something like this) Stuff the inside of the bird with the vegetable mix. Put the rest on top of the bird.
4. pour remaining 1/4 cup of butter on bird.
5. cook for 85 minutes at 325 with glass cover on.
6. Remove lid and bake for another 5 minutes at 500 degrees or until skin is brown.

I think this recipe could be easily made into a one dish dinner by adding some vegetables around the side of the dish. Chunks of parsnips, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, etc. Just place them around the bird in the same dish. The butter and seasoning of the bird would probably spread, especially given the additional butter.

Indian Sweet Potato Fries

3 sweet potatoes cut in medallions
2 tablespoons of EVOO
4 tsp of curry
1/2 tbsp of garlic chopped
salt and pepper

I cooked them at 325 for 45 minutes, but mostly because I had the oven set for something else. they turned out a little mushy this way.

I liked this shape, I think it did a good job of capturing some of the flavors. If I were to redo this, I'd add more Indian spice - perhaps tumeric? more curry?

The other thing that would have been interesting would have been to have made some indian dip or aioli to go with this. Perhaps a little tamarind or mango chutney?

Okay reader(s) - leave comments with ideas on how to up the flavor on this recipe!

(original recipe found here)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stain Glass Christmas Trees

I take no claim for the original idea and recipe, so I'll just link to it.

I was into the look of the cookies, though, so here it is.

1. 2 bags of life savers
2. Green granulated sugars
3. Food mist - Green
4. White cookie frosting.

1. Crush a bunch of life savers in separate bags. Its important to keep the colors in separate bowls. A word to the wise - don't do this in advance. I crushed my candy the day before and it got stuck back together in a weird way. It was a serious pain to split apart. I ended up using two full bags of life savers for the 100 cookie production, so estimate appropriately.
2. Ln a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3. Make your sugar cookies and roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out the christmas tree and place it on the cookie sheet. Too thick and the stain glass effect won't work as well.
4. Once you have your cookie sheet filled, *then* cut out the circles for stain glass. I used a shot glass to accomplish the task.
5. Fill the wholes the crushed candy. Fill, but do not overfill the whole! If you do, it'll spill over the cookie and look not very nice.
6. Pour some green sugar over the cookie. It may seem like a lot, but it looks much better this way. If at all possible, try to keep the green sugar from falling in the whole or over the hard candy. It'll blur the stain glass part.
7. Bake as decorate. Let cool quite a bit.
8. Use the food mist to spray the trees green. Let dry.
9. Use the Cookie frostng to make the garland. The bottle says let sit 45 minutes, but trust me, it's more like an hour at least.

Wait for the praise :)

Marinated Bell Peppers

I needed an asian side dish and had bell peppers, so here's what I made

1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
2 yellow bell peppers
1 tbspn of minced garlic
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp EVOO
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450
2. Place peppers on rack directly to cook. roast for 15 minutes, turning every five minutes. Use some kitchen tongs to turn the peppers. Be careful at the ten minute mark as the peppers may be juicy and easily split.
3. Put them in a paperbag and allow the heat to steam the peppers while they cool. This process will take about 15 minutes. Trust me, don't short change this time because it is invaluable to the next step
4. Wash the peppers in cold water and remove the thin outer skin. Also remove the steam and clean out the seeds from the inside. Place in a colander to rinse as you are working on the other peppers.
5. Lightly pat dry the peppers afterwards. They'll be much tastier if there isn't a lot of water to detract from the ingredients.
6. While the peppers are drying, take out a medium bowl and mix up the other ingredients.
7. Add dry peppers to oil mixture in bowl.

For original recipes click

Gingery Apple Pie


So this rcipe isn't quite so vegan, but I'll explain a simple substitution that would make it vegan. I've made it twice and varied it a little to make it totally delicious

Pie crust (frozen pre-made for me both times - next time I'll get adventurous)

4 Granny Smith apples thin sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 cup of sugar
sprinkle of salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter - 1 stick
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup of sugar

1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
2. In a food processor, put all crumb toppings and pulse until clumpy. I think it helps if the butt is put in the microwave for about 30 seconds. my goal is to soften it but not to melt it. Put it in the fridge once it is clumped. It is way easier to spread it out if the clumps are very cold.
3. Wash & dry the apples. Now, the first time I made it I peeled the apples. Second time I didn't. I think peeling isn't worth the effort, but the pie didn't cut a little nicer when the apples were peeled. Regardless, take out your mandoline slicer and thin slice the apples. Funny shapes are okay. Place them in a very large bowl that will allow them to be mixed. Lightly salt to get juice to come out.
4. In a bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, fresh ginger. Let me emphasize that the short cut of adding these to the apples is not helpful - they should be premixed together or else disaster occurs.
5. Slowly add sugar mixture over the apples while mixing well.
6. Layer the apples on the pie crust. Those odd shaped pieces help to fill in flat layers around the round slices of the apples.
7. Bake for a total of 55-60 minutes until the top is golden brown. I think this pie tastes better cold (especially the next day), but if you want to serve it hot and need to travel with it, I recommend par cooking it for 45 minutes and, upon reaching your final destination, putting it in the oven there for 10-15 minutes. Basically, par cook but add 5 minutes to allow the pie to reheat.

1. to make it vegan, the butter could be replaced with any vegan butter. I don't think there'd be any issue with that.
2. Apple + Pear - I think mixing the two soft fruits would be delicious.
3. Add some vanilla extract to the apple filling. Given how much cinnamon I use, I would be careful to not use too much extract - it could all end up masking the natural taste of the apples.
4. Up the ginger factor by a lot. I mean A LOT. The amount I use means the taste has not been very strong at all.
5. Brown sugar for the apple mixture. Although I think the white sugar might be important for the crumb topping, I think the filling is really pretty negotiable and so think that substitution would be healthier and just as delicious.

For the original recipe, go here

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lemon Quinoa with Butternut Squash

So for dinner tonight, I made this quinoa dish. Apparently it's quinoa mania around my apartment! So a few things about this recipe

I bought the squash prechopped from Trader Joe's. I think I let them sit for too long, too.
Also, the step where you add lemon juice and lemon peel - I screwed that up badly. First my peel was big chunks of peel - not very appetizing looking when it came all done. Also, I forgot to add the juice and peel while the quinoa still had liquid; thus, I added it after the quinoa was all cooked. It ended up making the dish kind of mushy. I think I should have toasted the quinoa more, as well.

Also, I only had a few pine nuts and my chives were kinda gross. So basically, my products were lacking. Oh well.

In the end, it was sufficient. I'm not sure the depth of flavor as really there, though. I added a lot of shallots and garlic, too, so I'm shocked that was kind of flat.

Here's something else too consider, there wasn't a lot of texture to this dish. It lacked something crispy even if it had been less mushy.

So on the whole, I give this recipe a meh.

Pineapple Quinoa Cashew Stir Fry

Hello readers!

I got busy and well now, I'm not so vegan. BUT on the upside, I still cook lots of vegan things. So, I think I'm going to keep blogging my recipes.

Anyway, on to my next review. One of my favorite recipes is this quinoa stirfry out of Veganomicon. Here is my modified ingredient list for my version of this
1 cup of quinoa (cooked according to the box with in pineapple juice, water, fresh mint, + a soy sauce packet from an asian restaurant)
1 cup of whole raw cashews
3 tbsp of peanut oil
1 cup of scallions, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves minced
2 serrano pepper, sliced in small rounds
generous piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
2 tbsp fresh mint chopped
10 oz pineapple chunks
4 tbspn soy sauce
3 tbspn vegetable broth
lime wedges

1. In a wok on medium, add peanut oil, scallions + garlic. wait for it to sizzle
2. Add serrano pepper and ginger for 2 minutes
3. Add bell peppers, 3 minutes
4. add basil & mint, 1 minute
5. add quinoa + pineapples
6. mix in a cup - soy sauce + veg broth. then add to stir fry. 10 minutes

make sure you serve the lime over the quinoa - the acid is really important

couple of possible variations -
1. replace a tbsp of soy sauce with mirin - that's in the original recipe but I just didn't have any
2. add chicken - marinate it in pineapple juice, lime juice, soy sauce, and something with a kick - maybe a little cayenne.

modify other ingredients as you wish. I look to add lots of colors to make it more playful. The original recipe called for peas or edamame, but I think anything green would be delicious. Sugar snap peas in particular - yum!

leave comments of what vegetables you add in!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Uhoh Spaghettios!

8 oz Eden Vegetable Alphabet Pasta
2 Trader Joe's Sausage-less Sausage
2 Campbell's condensed tomato soup
boatloads of basil
half of a white onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
red pepper flakes

I made the pasta. While the pasta drained, I put the EVOO and the onion in the pot to saute the onions. Then I added garlic and red pepper flakes. I was cautious but probably should have added more red pepper flakes. After that I added the tomato soup and basil. Now I basically did this recipe so I could try out my new immersion blender - but I'm not sure that the immersion blender did much! The original recipe suggests using soymilk at this point; I forgot and didn't add it until later. Instead, I added the sausage to the sauce in order to heat it a little, and then readded the pasta. At this point I realized there wasn't nearly enough sauce for all of the pasta, so I added soymilk. It was only a generous splash, but still I think it reduced the flavor down.
This much pasta means I'll be eating this for the week I fear.

It tastes good, but just not as deep of a flavor as I'd like.

Suggestions for next time:
If I had it to do again, I'd go with 4 oz of pasta and/or bigger more traditional pasta. The alphabet pasta grew a LOT
I'd also add a lot more basil. Now, to be clear, when I said a boatload I mean I chopped up probably 4 tbsp of basil. I think even more would awesome.
There was also some heat missing from this recipe. I would eager up the red pepper flakes or
maybe get spicy sausage.

The alphabet pasta would be great for soup, but it was so small that it made the consistency very mushy (squishy perhaps?).

This recipe is a modified version of this recipe

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vegan Month!

I just discovered that this is Vegan month! I feel recharged in my desire to blog recipes daily so I can commemorate the month!

For now, I'll go with posting a link to the LA Times daily recipe for Vegan food.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Spicy Sweet Potato wedges


3 sweet potatoes (2 pounds), peeled, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick spears

2 tablespoons EVOO

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

½ tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne


1. Heat oven to 425ºF. Place oven racks in the upper third and lower third of oven. Lightly oil 2 rimmed baking sheets.
2. Combine potato spears, oil, rosemary, cumin, salt, and cayenne in a large bowl; toss well to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on baking sheets.
3. Roast potatoes, rotating pans and tossing potatoes every 10 minutes, until lightly golden and tender, about 30 minutes.

As a warning, I made this a second time but was not very careful about measuring the cumin & cayenne - it ended u p becoming a feat of strength to eat an entire potato wedge! Be very careful with measurements!

It's even low carb! (click for original atkins recipe)

Mexican Pasta

This dinner was really an excuse to use up leftovers and yet, somehow, it turned out super delicious! The best part is all of my ingredients were purchased at Trader Joe's which meant this was an incredible cheap meal. Next time, I'll keep track of prices to calculate the cost. But I think it was maybe $15 total and it made 4-6 healthy servings.

Vegetable rotini pasta
half of the soy chorizo
1/4 cup (or so) of plain pasta sauce.
corn tomato-less salsa
fresh cilantro

Basically I made the pasta. While the pasta drained, I put my leftover chorizo in the pasta pot, added the jar of salsa, and some pasta sauce to cover. I added the pasta back and stirred. Then I added chopped cilantro to taste.

The chorizo made this pretty spicy. This recipe might be better if I had used only 1/4th of the chorizo. Definitely a complete meal. If you're not vegan, I bet some queso freco crumbled on top would be great, too.

Vegan Corn Chowder

I love getting spark people recipes daily. Most of them aren't things I'd make, but some of them inspire me to modify recipes to make something very tasty.

I modified this original recipe to make it vegan and more interesting!

1 Tbsp EVOO
diced celery
diced onion
diced green & red peppers
10 oz frozen whole kernel corn
1 box of Trader Joe's harvest medley (chopped squash, yams, etc)
1 cup water
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 himalayan sea salt
black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tbsp flour
2 cups soy milk

more fresh parsley to serve

For all the vegetables, I followed the Rachel Ray rule for soups that nothing should be too big to go on a spoon. I like my vegetables a bit coarser, though, so they were big chunks in my soup. Also, I doubled my entire recipe, although not too exactly, but I found this recipe pretty forgiving.

1. In my big soup pan, I heated the oil. Then added the celery, onion & peppers to saute for a few minutes.
2. Then I added the corn, harvest medley, water, salt, pepper, and paprika. Once the water boiled, i brought the heat down to medium and let it cook (covered) for 10 minutes.
3. In a glass jar, I mixed the soy milk and flour. (add & shake the ingredients).
4. Add the flour mixture to the soup. Then add the rest of the soy milk.
5. Wait for the soup to boil and then remove.

Serving this with fresh parsley was very important. I think a little more layered heat - perhaps more paprika? maybe a little finely diced jalapeno when I'm sauteing the vegetables? - would add more depth to this soup.

Regardless, it was super hearty for a meal & tasted great for days.

Raw Mango Avocado salad

My modified version of this recipe (to make it totally raw) was
2 large mangos, chopped. (I peeled it one time, but I think the peel is delish, so I'd keep it the next time).
2 medium avocados, chopped
1 lime, juiced.
1/4 cup of cilantro finely chopped - or really to taste.

After that, just mix all the ingredients. The combination of flavors here is incredible. All fresh ingredients makes it wonderfully raw, too1

Original recipe

Orange Quinoa salad

"Mix cooked couscous or quinoa with orange zest and juice, olive oil, maybe honey, sliced oranges, raisins or dried cranberries, chopped red onion and chopped almonds. Serve over greens, or not."

This salad was not very exciting. I made it with quinoa, cranberries and no honey with friends; the large quantities of left overs may have turned me off in the end. It definitely got better with age.

I'm curious what it would be like with different oranges.

It's also from the New York Times article.

Chickpea Tabbouleh

"Roughly chop cooked or canned chickpeas (you can pulse them, carefully, in a food processor) and toss with olive oil, lemon juice, lots of chopped fresh parsley and mint, and a few chopped tomatoes. Call this chickpea tabbouleh."

I gotta say, laziness set in and so I did not chop or pulse the chickpeas. This recipe was okay, but I think it lacked some depth. If I made it again, I'd up the amount of parsley to make it almost absurd and eliminate the olive oil.

This recipe is also from that New York Times Article

Mustardy Cucumber Salad

A nice cucumber salad: Slice cucumbers thin (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), toss with red onions and salt, then let sit for 20 to 60 minutes. Rinse, dry, dress with cider vinegar mixed with Dijon mustard; no oil necessary.

The quality of the mustard I think is more important than I give it credit for. It reminds me a lot of this Whole Food's Recipe. My mandoline slicer makes both of these recipes significantly easier.

Both of these salads are great as left overs the next day.

Also, for those raw foodists out there, I used Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar and Himalayan Sea Salt. Of course, the mustard makes it not raw; I'm not really sure how to work around that.

To find the full list of summer salad's, check out the New York Times post here


So I'm starting a blog to consolidate all of the recipes I find online. My goal is to make the ones I place on here and discuss them. First couple of posts will be recipes I've already made.

For the outside viewing public, I'm (mostly) vegan and ate raw foods for a little while. I'd like to go back to the raw diet, though.