March 28, 2012

Linguine Nests

Wow, can we say normal-food  food rut? Sometimes I wonder...
why can't I just eat food normally like everyone else.
Why do I always want to try to make it from scratch or in a different way?

I guess it keeps it interesting and fun?!!! or I'm very weird!

So keeping up with my cultivate and change it up rut theme-
I decided to make Chicken Parmesan the other night and decided to make
linguine nests. I made the pasta noodles (linguine) literally shaped into bird's nests!

This is great because it uses your muffin/cupcake pans as double duty which is
always a bonus when you can use an item or appliance for multiple things.

So simply boil some pasta and strain it.

 I also took one egg and beat the sucker up, I mean the egg.

I filled the muffin tins with linguine and then brushed the beaten egg on top with a brush. You want the
egg to be on and in there to help the pasta form/bake better but at the same time you don't want the egg to cook separately on top of the noodles so make sure the egg is brushed on rather than a little puddle on top.

 Like this picture... you can't even see the egg but the whole egg is mixed in there
with the linguine nests.

After it was in the oven on broil for about 10 minutes, I took the pan out and added
a little bit of shredded mozzarella and the heat of the nests melted the cheese right away
while sitting on the counter.

It definitely helped my pasta norm-rut. They really did look like little nests.
I added a little marinara sauce and it was a good Italian food night!

I think next time I will add some roasted garlic pieces in between the pasta
when it goes into the muffin tin.

March 24, 2012

Crescent rolls are SO last year.

Whether it's Pillsbury or a generic brand, we've all seen, had, made, eaten, loved the crescent rolls.
I got tired and bored of the crescent shaped roll just like the plain ole edamames.

I had a "seven years" moment a few weeks ago while making apple pie with my momma.
I added star shaped pieces to cover the apple pie rather than using a pie top/crust.

With that same idea I have since evolved the crescent roll into that same buttery tasting rolls
but into a larger loaf but bite size at the same time. Kind of ironic, I know, larger loaf but bite size?

Let me show you!
Take the can of crescent dough and open it. (Opening THAT CAN will be the hardest part of these rolls)

You'll notice that they are cut into triangles ready to roll into crescents. Ignore the pre-cut lines and
just roll them into quick little balls. I've found that each triangle gives 3 perfect size little balls.

The next part is the BE CREATIVE and cultivating part. Simply make it your own by adding
whatever you like. I usually make it with a sprinkle of garlic powder and drop a handful of
shredded Parmesan cheese. This time around,  I had a ridiculous amount of chives in
the refrigerator so I decided to add a little chopped up chives into the little balls.
You literally add the rolled balls into an oven safe dish and throw your
seasonings/cheese/herbs/whatever on top.
Bake it in the oven for about 15 or so minutes on about 350.

About 15 or so minutes later.... TA-DA!  Warm, browned little balls into one larger roll/loaf.
These are so people friendly and share-able as you can very easily pull each little ball piece off.
It's almost impossible to have any left-over.

You can get even more creative by cutting them out with little cookie cutters. 
reativity can be endless along with things to put in it... 
shredded Gouda, pepper jack, craisins, herbs, roasted garlic pieces,
slivered nuts, cooked, diced apples.... 

Roasted Green Babies...

I wanted to eat some edamame but was kind of bored with the usual flash steam then snack on it,
so I decided to try roasting it with some craisins. It came out pretty well and was a nice side dish.

I took a heaping handful of already peeled edamame and after rinsing it, I laid all the little
green babies on a paper towel to dry them up a little bit.
(I call these babies because they are literally babies, baby soy beans)

I then added a little olive oil on a oven safe tray and tossed in some craisins
along with some sea salt and black pepper.

I put the oven on broil and roasted the vibrant green babies until they started to get
toasted with a little brown, toasted coating.

They had a slight crunch and they were good with the taste of the salt and slightly
chewy craisins in the mix.

March 14, 2012

Fresh Chocolate Pudding

I adapted this recipe from Michelle for home made chocolate pudding and decided to try it out.
I titled it fresh chocolate pudding because I think this is as fresh as chocolate pudding can get
without literally crushing your own peanuts etc...

1 avocado
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 honey
2 TBSP cocoa powder 
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
sprinkle of salt

Simply take all the ingredients, put them into a large bowl and use a hand held blender
or a regular blender if you don't own a hand held one.

I grated in one apple and lessened the sugar a little which was very natural tasting in general.
This home made chocolate pudding was pretty good and very easy to whip up.

March 12, 2012

Basil Greenhouse = FRESHER & LONGER

Nothing is better than adding fresh herbs when you are cooking food or making a drink.
It adds a more vibrant and flavorful kick to your food along with looking fresher
and prettier.... blah blah blah, we already know this right?

I've often had the problem with some herbs not lasting as long as I'd like.
As I was catching up on my dvr- I came across an episode of Rachael Ray and
the tip was to make a little green house of your herbs especially basil.

I bought this basil and normally after about 2 days if I'm lucky- they would wilt in the refrigerator.
The tip was to trim the bottom stem, like you would to fresh cut flowers and then place them in a mug/cup
or vase and then simply place a zip lock bag over it from the top keeping the bag unzipped.

You can see how it creates a greenhouse like space for the basil. You can just keep this on your kitchen counter or table and it will last waaaay longer.  The picture on the bottom is after a week!
I can now make margherita pizza and make a caprese salad with the SAME bundle of basil in
a 10-14 day period without having to toss the dried and wilted leaves. So far I've only tried this with
Basil, Parsley and Cilantro.

 This is the basil with the bag, is that fresh basil or what?
(and don't be clever and say what.)

March 7, 2012

Deep Fried Pickles

DEEEEP  fried anything is GOOD.
Calamari, dumplings, green beans, french fries & even turkeys.
The newest discovery for me is deep fried pickles.

You first bite into the crispiness of the fried batter, followed by the slight tartness & sourness
of the pickle chip along with the chilled ranch dressing....  you seriously can't eat just 5!

jar of pickle chips (you want slices- rather than the whole pickle)
equal parts of flour, corn starch and Panko bread crumbs.  (start with about 5 TBSP of each)
oil to deep fry the pickles
1-2 egg whites (depending on the quantity)
salt to sprinkle on after it is fried
ranch dressing to dip in

First start with a handful of pickles and lay them on a paper towel
so the excess pickle juice remains on the paper towel.

Then have your egg whites in one bowl and the dry batter of flour, cornstarch & panko in another.

 Submerge the pickles in the egg white and then in the dry batter to look something like this.

Then simply deep fry the pickles making sure you don't over crowd the pan or fryer.
When they are golden brown, take them out and lay them on a paper towel to get the excess oil
off and sprinkle a little salt for even more flavor.    It is best served with chilled ranch dressing.

It really was hard to eat just 5, 6 or 7.  Even if you are not a huge fan of pickles...
I would recommend these deep fried pickles!
Deep fried green beans are done the same way and they are REALLY good also!

March 5, 2012

Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

When the weather is cold... hot chocolate is one of the best things that makes me feel
happy and feeling like a little kid for some reason. Is it the marshmallows? Is it the chocolate flavor?
I'm not exactly sure what it is but the other day- I decided to try it with Nutella and
you know the saying "don't fix it if it ain't broke" well, in this case that saying can go out the window.
It's waaay better with the Nutella. The hazelnut flavor makes the hot chocolate richer.

Did you know that the person who made Nutella is also is the maker of those little chocolates
called Ferrero Rocher? You know... these

Pietro Ferrero, an Italian  pastry maker started using hazelnuts because there was a
plentiful supply of hazelnuts in Piedmont, Italy but a short supply of chocolate to
make cocoa during World War II and the rest is history.

Make your hot chocolate, preferably with milk rather than water and then add a heaping spoonful
of Nutella and then sip away as you catch up on your tv shows. Can it be any easier than that?

March 3, 2012

Cooking Classes for Spring 2012

This Spring, I will be teaching 2 one day cooking classes.
They are through Main Line School Night.

Here is a picture from one of the first classes I ever taught about 3 years ago.

The 2 classes are titled:  Oodles of Noodles and Learn, Cook, Eat: Asian Fusion
for more info: Spring 2012

March 1, 2012

George Foreman

This is a picture of George Foreman, George Jr., George III, George IV, and there is also
George VI who isn't pictured.

Almost all of us have a Foreman Grill, starting with the off campus college students, 
to the bachelors, single ladies and  and even families... so that pretty much covers everyone.
Here is mine from my pineapple salsa chicken satay recipe picture.

The grill is obviously convenient in many aspects.  Did you know that Hulk Hogan, the wrestler
was approached first to represent and be the spokesperson for the grill along with a
protein shake blender and Hogan picked the blender leaving the company to go with Foreman.

George Foreman was born in 1949 in Texas. He was bullied as a child for growing up in
an impoverished town and by age 15 Foreman become a mugger, a brawler and
basically a thug on the streets.
He was helped by Lyndon Johnson's Job Corps program, a program that helped troubled
kids on the streets. That's when his boxing career began.

We know George Foreman mostly for his boxing especially as an Olympic Gold Medalist,
his heavy-weight champion status and the Foreman Grill.

Did you also know that George Foreman is an ordained minister as well?
He has also given back by building The George Foreman Youth and Community Center
primarily to help kids stay out of trouble and give them the love and help that he received
as a troubled teenage gangster.
Foreman is also a great family man. His wife Mary and George have 5 boys and 5 girls.
They thought to name all the girls with names close to George but they realized that would be
overkill so they were named Georgetta, Freeda George, Michi, Natalie and Leola.

Foreman is also a rancher and when he isn't at church or on the road. He raises goats, cows,
llamas, donkeys, deer, ostriches, turkeys and pigeons.

So I added George Foreman under my cultivators tab because I'm a true believer in giving back
and especially when it comes to kids. It's so easy to inspire kids.  The way you grow up as a child
can really make a difference in your life. Think about your childhood memories and
how you might have had a different path and life if you were in a really, really negative state.