I’ve Been Cooking

Friday, November 6, 2015

I've Been Cooking

I’ve been on a cooking kick recently. When I start cooking one thing I then get all antsy and try to cook like twelve other dishes in one night and it’s way too much food and completely wasteful, but I do it anyway. This is what I have been cooking when the urge has struck over the past couple of months:

Cashew Chicken – Cashew Nut was the dish that made me start liking broccoli. I would get it from this restaurant a block away from me in Portland and thought it was the best thing ever. When I started eating meat again I wanted to try and make this dish but had been putting it off for a while due to the need of things like fish sauce and two types of soy sauce. Recently I bit the bullet (and bought fish sauce) and gave one recipe a try. Unfortunately, like with most asian dishes I have attempted, the fish sauce/sesame seed oil was too potent and I didn’t end up liking it.
Guess I’ll have to try again.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts – Another non-success, I am loving some apple cider recently but I think my time with baked donuts may have passed. I think the next time I get in a donut kick they are going to have to be fried. The blog that this recipe is from is gorgeous though.

Chicken Avocado Lime Soup – At first I thought it was delicious and then I found myself avoiding it, this may be the chicken stock I used though as I found myself doing that will all the soups I have made.

Pra Ram – After getting tired of Cashew Nut dishes at thai restaurants I moved onto anything with peanut sauce. I sorted through a few recipes before finding one that didn’t completely intimidate me with ingredients. The result, delicious. The peanut sauce was like a peanut butter milkshake, probably going to have to use a little a lot less sugar next time. I do not have a link to this recipe as I printed it out years ago and have since cleaned it from my pinterest boards.

Blueberry Muffins – I am having a love affair with blueberry muffins after reading The Blueberry C. The ones from Starbucks are subpar, they need more blueberries, Panera does a pretty good job, in fact they are probably the best I have had now that I think about it. So when Elise posted her recipe I decided it was time to try them. These are a less sweet version, they are definitely delicious but next time I will add more blueberries.

Noodle, egg and spinach soup


Peanut Butter Banana Bites – I became lazy after the first freeze and didn’t feel like melting chocolate to dip them in. Next time I’ll brave my fear of melting down chocolate and go all the way.

Excited to try soon:

Rustic Brandy Chocolate Apple Flourless Cake
Mexican Chocolate Brownie Bites


Image Credit

52 Dishes: The Favorites

Friday, January 24, 2014

52 dishes in 52 weeks banner

This was the third year I did a 52 in 52 project and it was by far the most challenging to get into and stick with. The first two years (read 52 books, take 52 photos) were pretty easy considering I love reading and photography is easy with an iphone… but cooking… cooking has always been something I’ve meant to fall in love with but never made the effort. I’ve had a pinterest board dedicated to Delicious Food and Drink that I don’t think I used a recipe off of until this year. It started out rough, I found myself with a stomach that didn’t really feel like eating many things and I thought about scrapping the project many times. But something, maybe my pride, stopped me from quitting, and about half way through the year I found myself in the thick of it, cooking, baking and catching up on the weeks missed.

I chose 52 dishes because cooking has always been something I wanted to do, but never something I wanted to give time to. It’s like exercising, I go through phases of loving it and doing it a lot, but then months and months will go by with not a single dish (or push up). I think my hesitance was born out of inconvenience and lack of confidence. I haven’t had my own kitchen in a while and I’m not good at using other people’s (even when I’m renting and allowed to) and while I know I can make a mean pancake, I’ve been scared of cooking meats, doughs and things not from a box. This project was meant to push through all of that.

Cooking over 52 dishes brought me a new found confidence in the kitchen, it taught me a little more about loving the process and it also added a couple of cook things to my pantry. It brought about a curiosity. The growth that I have made in the cooking department and the confidence that I have acquired is what made this project so worth it.

Below I’ve provided links to my favorite dishes of the year. Enjoy!

Lemon Ricotta Poppyseed Waffles

Orzo, Corn and Avocado Salad

Baked French Toast

Lemony Asparagus and Orzo

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pan de Muerto

Biscuits and mushroom gravy

Pumpkin Donut

Light Green Bean Casserole

Cinnamon Roll Donuts

Nutella Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Muesli Bread

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken with Biscuits

Baked chicken, sweet potatoes and onions

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Next year I will not be holding myself to 52 dishes, but I will continue to cook, and to bake, and to enjoy.


52 Dishes: 21-25

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Who am I kidding, I’m not going by weeks anymore, I’m just going by number of dishes. This past couple of weeks I have either been cooking two to three things in one night or not cooking for days. It’s a constant battle. Feast or famine. But don’t worry, I’m not actually starving, just not cooking anything new.

For 21-25 I decided to post the pictures of how it should look first. I have pictures of how mine looked but they were not as good for a couple of reasons 1) because I took them with a cell phone at night in a poorly lit kitchen 2) because I changed some of the recipes a bit (sometimes a lot) and 3) sometimes I just didn’t even take a picture.

With that being said, here are dishes 21 through 25.

(top to bottom starting left)
1. Penne Bake with Spinach and Tomatoes /// This recipe is the one that I completely changed. It called for diced or something tomatoes, I nixed that and put in Prego meat sauce instead. While sauteing the onions and the spinach I did not add paprika and instead of garlic I used garlic salt. Can you see where I am going with this? I did the lazy version. Best part? It turned out tasting pretty good. 
2. Broccoli Pasta Salad /// I don’t think I changed this recipe too much. It was relatively easy to make, but here’s where the confession comes in… I didn’t eat more than a couple bites. Not due to taste, the couple bites I did have tasted alright, but more because I already had dinner before I made this and then the next day at work I had carne asada fries and then went shopping at Target after work and I just didn’t trust the dish after it had been in my car for the duration of my shopping trip. I might try to make it again someday, or I might buy the Souplantation version they sell at costco. 
3. Melissa’s Overnight Baked French Toast /// This is not my first baked french toast. Some might call this cheating, I call it doing what I want because it’s my project. This is a different version of baked french toast though I didn’t like it as much as the first one. Not because Melissa didn’t have a good thing going, she did, just because I didn’t let it sit long enough and I’m pretty sure my bread should have been a little more stale. I still ate it all though.
4. S’mores treats /// I made these as a thank you for letting me stay at your place. They were delicious. There are several variations of how to make them. Some have you melt the marshmallows and the chocolate together, I melted the marshmallows in a pan, poured them over golden grahams in a different pan, mixed it and while the mixture was still hot mixed in chocolate chips. They melted and it was good.
5. Cool Southwestern Salad /// I have no picture for this which I realized when starting this post. I made the dressing at night, the same night as the broccoli pasta salad to be exact, and then had the rest of the ingredients ready to cut and put in a little tupperware with lettuce. I get to work and try to eat it and find that there was far to much cumin in the dressing. Maybe I didn’t half the recipe in my head quite right. I wouldn’t be surprised, I’ve made many a cooking mistake that way. Either way, I’m sure it would have been tasty had my dressing been good. Oh well. Onto the next. 
(unflattering photograph of Southwestern Salad not shown) 
Thoughts about this project: I think I need to be a little more intentional here and slow down a bit. When I am cooking I am usually doing at least two things and once whether it is making a tuna fish sandwich and trying to make a cookie dough or watching Julie and Julia while making pasta salad. I want to spend more time with the recipes, maybe not read them off my phone that always goes to sleep in between ingredients. Maybe read the recipe in its entirety before starting, prepping as I need to. Maybe writing changed measurements down if I am cutting it in half or even thirds and not just winging it.
The truth is, I’m not good with exacts when it comes to cooking, and I’m quite picky. I don’t want to have to find a specific kind of tomato for a casserole when I can get some meat tasting tomato sauce and have something I know I like. But I think from here on out, even if I don’t make it to 52 dishes, I’m going to give what I do make a little more of my attention. Enjoy the process, not just speed my way through to the finished dish.
Do you have any suggestions for what I cook next? Go easy on me, I’m still learning.

52 Dishes: 16-20/52 Playing Catch Up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I’ve been playing a little bit of catch up lately with this project. I had a whole 11 days with a glorious kitchen and great appliances so I made a few things. I found myself a little burned out after I made about 5 different things in a few days so I took a break but I’m getting closer, closing the gap and what not. 
This last week and a half (ish) I made:
I bought a baguette and cut it into pieces and let them sit out overnight to get them a little stale. I think it might have been even better if I had waited a little longer but I was impatient. I really liked this cold too, but I like pancakes, crepes and french toast cold later anyway. Also, I was suppose to have the buttered side of the bread on the top with the sugar which probably would have caramelized it more. Oh well, still was delicious. Will definitely make this again.
I made this while I was house sitting because my sister has this awesome electric mixer which was just what I needed. I am not good at kneading dough and that thing is a pro. I liked the dough better than ones that I have before. I liked it better than the packages you get at trader joes, and those are pretty good, but I’m still not convinced. I want a thinner crust overall, but one that puffs up a little more at the edges. I think I’ll probably try a couple more before the year is through. 
18: Spinach, onion and Mushroom Pizza, no cheese
There was no new recipe for this one, it’s just my favorite kind of pizza. I was going to make pizza sauce myself but didn’t find a good rustic tomato/artisan pizza sauce. Something else to work on this year. Maybe I’ll do that with arugula. Yum.
19: SalmonAsparagus and a Baked Potato
This is kind of the same as the packets I made with tilapia but I don’t care. I am counting it. Especially because this is the first time I cooked asparagus. It’s my new favorite vegetable. 
Oh my gosh, so much went into make these. The actual recipe is super easy but I bought the ingredients and decided to make them on a girl’s night I had. I put them in the pantry and went off to go dancing one night and I came home and didn’t notice that they were gone. Fast forward to the next afternoon when I am looking for all my ingredients for each dish I wanted to make and I couldn’t find the marshmallows or the chocolate chips anywhere. I then had a flashback to a small piece of plastic wrap I had found by the back door where Zeus sleeps, so I run into the other room where he “hides” things that he tears up and sure enough there was shredded plastic wrap all over. And then there was the full bag of chocolate chips with a small hole in it. Marshmallows gone, chocolate still okay. I was very thankful that he didn’t eat the chocolate and found the whole thing pretty funny. So then on the day of girl’s night I had a friend pick up marshmallows but then I added like 5 other things for her to pick up and by the time she got to my house she had forgotten the marshmallows so I had to ask another friend that was coming for them. Sigh. But eventually the marshmallows arrived and these were made.
They are delicious. But they are sneakily rich. I don’t suggest eating 4 after having a margarita… unless you have a strong stomach that won’t hate you later. I had a s’more hang over the next day, couldn’t even look at the remaining treats. I probably won’t ever eat them again honestly, but they were good. That one time. Well, four times. I recommend them to people with self control. 
So there was my first round of catch up, I’m not sure I’ll do that many in a short time again any time soon, I’ll probably just double up most weeks, but we’ll see. Need to get inspired again. 
What have you been cooking?

52 Dishes: 15/52 Orzo, Corn and Avocado Salad

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dish 15 was a nice light, delicious summer dish. I’m not sure if it’s actually a summer dish but it seems perfect to me because it’s light, has corn and goes well with some chicken or by itself. I’m pretty sure those aren’t the actual qualifications of a summer dish, but it sounded good to me. It’s also pretty simple to make. Simple is what I like when cooking. One of the goals of this project was to get myself out of a meal rut which consisted of burritos, egg sandwiches, and noodles with meat sauce. Any time I thought about eating at home I would feel bored or burned out about my choices so I would opt to go get something at a drive through. 
That’s where recipes like this one come in, they aren’t hard, they don’t take much time, there are plenty of leftovers (for this dish I cut the recipe in half and still had too much, hashtag singlegirlproblems), they are healthy, AND they are delicious too!
I didn’t have any trouble with the recipe, I think I could have cooked the orzo a little less, still working on perfect al dente with pastas. 
The recipe called for a small amount of cilantro which is a bummer because now I have a heap of cilantro and don’t have another recipe I want to use it in… curses!
Was it good? Yes. Will I make this again sometime? Most likely!
What about you, what have you been cooking (or craving) lately?

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