Saturday, April 23, 2016

Garlic Roasted Potatoes!


Sometimes after a long day's work, all you want to do is come home and do NOTHING... unfortunately not an option of adulthood without starving yourself or going out to eat (which I've always try to keep down to a minimum). That being the case, cooking doesn't have to be so daunting either.

Potatoes are so easy. You can boil, broil, bake, mash, roast, grill, or a combination of, the list goes on. I'm sure you get the point. Anyhow, this recipe stemmed from several evolution of other recipes and the results are quite similar in the end (another great thing about potatoes, so forgiving!). 


Originally this recipe came from the back of a bag of potatoes a coworker and I had purchased for our company Brunch Extravaganza that we hold every Friday during grape harvesting season. Both of us love to cook and play around with recipes, so instinctively we took the recipe apart and built a new one, keeping things we like and building on extra ingredients. They were a hit! I could've ate a whole tray of them myself if they'd fit. Downfall, they took sooo long! We decided to bake the potatoes which is fine... but we all know baking takes a bit of time so instead, for my tweak of the recipe, I decided to boil the potatoes first and then finish by baking them. Cuts the time in half and they are just as yummy as the first time around.

Garlic Roasted Potatoes
Ingredients:
  • 1-2lbs of small red or Yukon gold potatoes
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped or slightly smashed whole cloves
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp thyme (fresh is better)
  • salt/pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped green onions
  • bacon bits
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • paprika (optional)
Procedures:
  1. Melt butter/oil together with thyme, garlic, other spices, and a little bit of Parmesan cheese in a microwave until the butter is fully melted (about 30 seconds). Stir to mix
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the potatoes until just tender (about 10 minutes on simmer). Drain potatoes.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, coat potatoes with butter/oil mixture. Transfer onto a baking sheet. Spread out the potatoes and using a fork or potato masher, gently press each potato so that it breaks open. Sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Parmesan on top and top with bacon bits and green onions
  4. Bake at 400 F for about 10-15 minutes or until cheese is golden brown
 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

French Onion Soup!


Cook this up over V-day weekend for the caveman and I because he's been craving French Onion soup for a while. We both agreed that we won't/don't go silly overboard with these Hallmark holidays BUT we will find an excuse to eat good food. Luckily this year, V-day fell under a 3 day weekend, paired with President's Day. Now that's something to celebrate about, one more day of weekend!

Making French Onion soup was somewhat 2 fold. It's true he's been craving it so it'd be something nice but also because I've never made it before (or sadly ever had any before either) so it was going to be a new and fun challenge plus who to better judge the results than someone who enjoys it right? About 5 You Tube videos and websites later, I was set to go!


It's pretty easy to make, the only thing that takes forever is chopping of the onions and cooking that down...took about 30 minutes. If you prep all the stuff beforehand, there's nothing to it! I have to say, pretty darn good for having no idea what I'm after. I'm going to take the lack of complaints and the empty soup bowls as a win.

Oh! You know what else is a win? Goodwill! The day prior we decided to pop our heads into a Goodwill to chance our luck to see if we'd find any hidden treasures. While the store is usually full of randomness, there's some really awesome finds if you know what you're looking at. I wanted some oven safe soup bowls (for this occasion specifically) decided to see if fate will let me find some otherwise I was going to be creative with my soup. Not only did I find the perfect soup bowls (Crate & Barrel!) BUT I got them for dirt cheap! $1.25 for two bowls that normally sell for $5-6 each. A win indeed.
 

French Onion Soup
Ingredients:
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed/chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh sprigs of thyme
  • 1 cup of red (or white) wine
  • 3 generous tbsp of flour
  • 8 cups of beef broth (or 4 cups of chicken, 4 cups of beef)
  • 2 tbsp brandy (optional, add with broth )
  • 1 baguette, sliced (garlic butter toasted)
  • 1/2 lb grated Gruyere
  • salt and pepper to taste
Procedures:
  1. In a large stock pot, melt butter and cook onions with thyme and bay leaves until onions are soft and caramelized (about 25 minutes)
  2. Add in wine, bring to boil until wine is evaporated, then dust onions with flour, and cook for an additional 10 minutes
  3. Add in broth, simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Ladle soup into some oven safe soup bowls, top soup with slice of toasted baguette and top with cheese
  5. Bake at 375F until cheese is melted and golden.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Crab Cakes!


What to do when you have a craving for seafood and nowhere near the sea... and you're the only one craving seafood?? Why make it yourself of course!

I'm on a "let's see if I can make my own" kick or when I eat something in a restaurant that I really like: "Let me see if I can try to replicate this" so I can always eat it whenever I have a craving without breaking the bank...or having to drive there. As it would seem most of this is driven by inner cheap and lazy...but it produces a positive outcome, delicious food (hopefully) and stress relief from the fun things that accompany adulthood: life.


To be honest, I think I've only had crab cakes maybe once or twice and I can't really remember them. Not that I didn't like them, they were probably not too memorable. What drove this experiment was mainly because I was craving crab, oh did I want crab! So what is the most concentrated form of crab you can get? Crab cakes! Even the actual crab probably has less than the crab cake. 

So I poked around the internet, found a few recipes with ingredients that I liked and of course gave it my own little twist and BAM, craving was fed and it was yummy. I was surprised how big these came out. Shortly after I had made these I decided to order some the next time I was in a restaurant that served them and not to toot my own horn or anything but I'd rather much prefer these. While I was looking up recipes and such, I learned that there are different versions of crab cakes depending on where on the east coast so these might not be the most conventional if you're from the east coast but for a CA girl like me, they're not so bad. I do want to try making different versions of crab cakes to test out which ones I prefer but for the time being, here is 1 version:
 
Crab Cakes
Makes 4 cakes

Ingredients:
  • 8oz crab meat
  • 2/3 cup panko (I mixed in some Italian bread crumbs)
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley (dried works fine too)
  • 2 tbsp green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp mayo (I used spicy chipotle mayo)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (I only had creamy dill mustard, I'd imagine any mustard will be fine)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground red pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten 
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan (optional)
Procedures:
  1. Combine 1/3 cup of panko w/all the other ingredients except for crab meat and olive oil
  2. Slowly add meat into the mixture then shape, coat with leftover panko crumbs, and flatten
  3. Cook over medium heat in a flat skillet. Cook for approximately 3 mins on each side of until golden brown

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Wanderings - Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, CA


Dear Oh Dear!
I've been away so long that even Blogger is looking a little different ... so much for being more diligent about posting... I pretty much took that one and threw it right out of the window... 

It's been a YEAR! I can't believe it! Well I can't even believe its March because I swear last time I looked it was Christmas...
So one might wonder what I've been up to these last 365 days of my life... Mostly buried under books and sorts


Let's see:
  • I finally finished moving! - but you know what the scary part is, 1 year later...some of my stuff is still sitting in a corner in boxes. Lets just say I am working on a "Goodwill" spring cleaning box
  • Work has been a whirlwind of emotional ups and downs and lets just leave it at that because if you wanted to read about daytime drama, you can just watch Days Of Our Lives (first one that popped into my head :))
  • I'm almost done with my Winemaking Certification! I have 1 more class to go and then I'm done! It feels like college all over again, can't wait for it to end, June 2016 can't come any sooner!
  • AND the most important life changing piece of new information.... I've recently reach a new magic number, THE BIG THREE ZERO. 30, Hello new decade
 
Let us then begin this "welcome back" entry with pictures from my birthday in back in Feb. I'm not one for huge parties so instead my dear bf AG took me to Pfeiffer Beach. The original plan was to find the spot where a beautiful waterfall falls onto the beach but we didn't realize Pfeiffer State Park and Pfeiffer Beach are 2 different locations... so after much poking and hiking up random hills we realized we were in the wrong place.


Nonetheless just as great of a reward. We managed to find this quiet secluded spot while hiking and while we were resting under a tree we noticed out in the distance a school of dolphins!


They were as happy as can be playing, riding the waves, enjoying every beautiful moment. Couldn't have asked for a better birthday experience! Not only did I get to see dolphins, I got to see them in their element and an entire school of them!

 

Friday, March 6, 2015

BBQ Sauted Beef with Garlic Sweet Peas!

Moving is almost complete! I'll be back online with fresh posts/experiments soon! Everything is a mess or well not a complete mess because my inner OCD would never allow that but more along the lines of I need to get my new kitchen (plus the rest of the place) properly organized so that I can efficiently cook with ease. Also since home where my parents are is only 45 minutes away it'll probably also mean I'll visit quite often so I need to figure out where to leave certain things... in conclusion, I've accumulated a lot of crap over the years. A lot of my things were still in boxes when I moved home with my parents a couple of years ago because either there wasn't enough room for them in the house or something like that already exists. Now that I've moved some stuff over to my new place I've come to discover there are things in some of these boxes that I no longer need or want and don't really know why I have them in the first place... anyways time to sell, donate, and toss. 

I suppose we all go through a spending phase at one point or another. Nowadays my spending tend to circle around the things I really enjoy doing like food. Next time I need to move, it should involve less (hopefully....)

So while we wait some more for me to get back into the the groove of things, here is a meal I cooked up a while ago but haven't posted yet, so enjoy. 

BBQ Sauted Beef with Garlic Sweet Peas

Ingredients:
  • approx 1 lb of thinly sliced beef
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Yoshida marinade sauce
  • 1 tbsp of baking soda
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp of hot and spicy Taiwanese BBQ sauce (refer to picture)
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • approx 1 lb of sweet peas (rinsed and whole)
  • chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
Procedure: 
  1. Take the sliced beef and cut them into 2" strips if possible, then in a medium sized bowl marinate together beef, paprika, onion powder, Yoshida sauce, baking soda, water, and 1 tbsp BBQ sauce. Let meat marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile bring a pot of water to boil and precook the sweet peas by boiling them for about 5 minutes and drain. 
  3. Heat up a frying pan with olive oil and then briefly saute the garlic before adding the sweet peas. Give the sweet peas and garlic a quick saute (approx 5 minutes) and add in chili pepper flakes if desired. Sweet peas should still be sweet and crunchy when done, then set aside
  4. Once the beef is ready to be cooked, heat up a frying pan and saute the beef with the last tbsp of BBQ sauce. Saute until beef is completely cooked.
  5. If desired, you can saute the garlic sweet peas into the beef and then enjoy with some steamed rice.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chili Cheese Pasta

Ever feet like there's no time to cook? Either you're in a hurry or you're extremely tired or perhaps you just plain old don't feel like it... well this recipe is perfect for one of those moments. It's a few ingredients tossed in together and the result is quite tasty (unless of course, if you're not a huge chili cheese kind of person, then perhaps a simple jar of tomato pasta sauce and sprinkles of parmesan cheese can be better to your liking).

Whatever the case may be, we can all appreciate a quick go to meal from time to time. 


Chili Cheese Pasta
Inspired by a a tasty sampler at Trader Joe's

Ingredients:
  • 1 can of chili (I used Dennison's Turkey Chili)
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese
  • approx 7 oz of pasta
  • 2 tbsp of goat cheese (optional, adds more creamy texture and only a hint of goat cheese flavor)
Procedure:
  1. Cook pasta according to instructions via package
  2. Heat can of chili in a sauce pan until hot and bubbly, add in cheese(s) and mix until melted and well incorporated.
  3. Stir in pasta and enjoy.
** another (longer/probably healthier) option is of course make your own chili, however when in a crunch for time, this will get the job done quick and easy. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wandering (eyes) - Hatchery Dec 2014

December's box of goodies. Slightly delayed but what else is new right!? Here's eye candy to make up for it :)

  • Red Velvet Pancake Mix (Buttermilk INC, LA, CA)
  • Horseradish Mustard (Pantry House, Santa Cruz CA)
  • Shallot Oil & Amber Vinegar (Wei Kitchen, Seattle WA)
  • Bourbon Pecan Peanut Butter (Reginald's Homemade, Richmond VA)
  • Jalapeno Pepper Jelly (Sweet Fire Jelly, Palm Desert CA)