Asparations

So, I make dinner for someone on the daily.  I tend to do a big grocery run on the weekend for all the fruits, veggies, baking supplies, etc.  But every day I decide on a protein and go buy it fresh from the butcher.  Today, the lamb shoulder chop was looking quite scrumptious so I picked one up.  Not a ton of meat [as the bones in it give it extra weight and size] but a dang good looking piece.  Lamb shoulder is fatty & a bit tougher then other parts but super tasty & versatile.  So, I picked one up along with some fresh green beans, mushrooms [ick], grape tomatoes and fresh basil leaves [I’m THIS-CLOSE to starting a small herb garden…]  Then I saw this adorable little bunch of Asparations.  A trade-marked name of what it says is an asparagus / broccoli hybrid.  But what we all know as broccolini is really a broccoli / Chinese broccoli [kale] hybrid.  Not sure why they put asparagus, other then how it definitely has an asparagus-like stem and taste.  But it’s… not.  Oh broccolini, how you confuse me so.  😛  But the name Asparation is just too cute to pass up, so I bought a good sized stalk.

Anyways – I get home and set out on tuning my green beans, chopping up some veggies and heating up my steamer.  I steamed up green beans, carrots, a mixture of bell peppers, the Asparations and some egg plant.  Then I decided to attempt a stir-fry like dish and used the remaining green beans, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, capers, garlic, basil and crushed hot peppers with a ridiculously tiny amount of oil.  For the lamb – someone prefers either an Italian marinade or my own spicy sauce mixture marinade.  But, I felt like branching out today [and I was out of some of the main components for the other two].  So I saw my basalmic and immediately got to work.  In the same skillet the stir-fry had been in, I added a bit of lemon juice and balsamic along with a sprig of fresh spearmint, garlic and more crushed red peppers.  I cooked the lamb for about 20min til it hit temp and then pulled it to rest.  The balsamic had reduced down into a sweet but tangy sauce and throw in the mint with the spices and it was the perfect mix of sweet & spicy without being over-bearing.  The mint had a nice undertone too which lingered for a quick second.  Looked pretty dang good once plated too.

Apple Pie Minis

I’ve been obsessing over how cute the individual apple pies [made in muffin tins / cupcake pans? hmm..] were for a good two weeks or so now.  So small and fun-sized.  I always wanted the “I’m not small, I’m fun-sized” shirt, but sadly at 5’6 [okay 5’5] with a penchant for wearing huge heels, it failed to be relevant and stayed on the rack.  Back to the pies.

So, I made the dough and set it in the fridge for an hour.  It definitely needed to be done, it was too sticky and, well, dough-y to be rolled and played with.  It then took me the entire hour, plus ten extra minutes, to peel, core and chop eight apples.  I used a standard veggie peeler… there HAS to be an easier way?  Quite tempted to leave the skins on next time, although I’m sure I’d regret it after.

So anyways – the filling was ready & the dough was set.  I then had to go on the hunt for big enough glasses to use for to cut the dough pieces.  I finally found some, and then discovered it was way too big for the muffin tins and wasted a lot of dough.  So, I ended up just cutting them with a pizza cutter and forming with my fingers into a circle-like shape and then forming to the tin.  Having long nails definitely didn’t help with that, but my knuckles and I made it work.

Filled them and then went to cover them.  I realized, while doing the second six that I was barely going to have enough dough.  I made due but will definitely keep it in mind for next time to add a bit more of all ingredients.  I also had around two cups of extra filling – which I made into apple sauce. So the proportions at this kitchen were definitely off.  And I have zero forks in my house right now [someone did a round up and has not dropped them back off yet] so I couldn’t make the cute little designs around the edges.  I used the handle of a spatula and did a clam-like edging…eh.  the dough kept getting too over-worked.  Must be hot in my house…

They baked up fairly well.  The filling settled a bit, too much for my liking despite having filled them around an inch over the top.  Next time, I’ll pack them in and fill ’em high[er].  Definitely have a better idea of how to approach them for next time, but wow they were time consuming.  Maybe because it was my first time, maybe because of the dough shortage or the lack of proper apple-peeler, but from dough to cooling rack – it was around three hours.  Totally worth it though.

Took them to my boys whose eyes totally lit up at the sight of them.  One said while eating it he thought it’d be perfect with cinnamon sprinkled on top [check for next time] and whip cream.  My other friend said it’d be paired great with a little thing of ice cream.  So to each his/her own.  I ate mine just as they were. 🙂

Apple Surplus

So at around 330 this morning while flipping through food blogs, I stumbled upon a recipe for apple sauce.  Given that I have two-dozen apples consisting of three types in my fridge, I figured it couldn’t hurt to get rid of four of them.  So, there I was at 330 in the morning prepping apples to boil into sauce.  Ridiculously easy.  Chopped apples, cinnamon, sugar, water.  Boil, simmer, mash, enjoy.  Only real problem came when it was time to mash them and I remembered once again that I don’t own a potato masher.  So, I used my hand mixer and bam – apple sauce.  I didn’t skin my apples prior to all of this like the recipe called for, nor did I mix them all the way until smooth.  I’ve always liked my apple sauce a little chunky but I’m definitely going to skin them next time, as after they boiled the skins separated off.

Super good sauce though.  I plan on making a load more this week after I make a few apple pies.

Pesto Schmesto

I love pesto.  The chicken pesto pasta from Nugget Market single handedly began my love affair with pesto.  If you have one near you, I highly suggest checking it out.  It’s a cold rotini pasta with pesto, chicken, peas, pine-nuts and Parmesan.

After buying it from Nugget a few times, I decided to venture off and make my own version.  All it consisted of is the above ingredients all cooked and thrown together, nothing to it but dang it sure was tasty.  I used to make it at a fraternity in a huge pot and they all adored it.  One of the best things about it was that it’s delicious fresh & steaming or straight out of the ‘fridge the next day.  I don’t tend to eat much pasta anymore but had a hankering to make my own fresh pesto sauce.  Before I would buy the little packets of dry mix that you add to oil and heat up – so you can totally claim it’s homemade. 😉

Point being – it was finally time for me to make my own fresh pesto in my totally awesome new food processor that I’d picked up a few days prior.  Didn’t use any real measurements for it.  I threw in some fresh basil leaves, a teensy bit of oil, fresh grated Pecorino cheese, pine nuts and some S&P.  Then just grinded away and boy, that food processor is way too fun.  Just one of the many small joys in life.  It was also the first time I got to use my new cheese grater that was purchased in a grater set at the same time as my food processor.  It was a successful shopping day to say the least.

So I used a bit of it to mix with some potatoes, onion, rosemary and grape tomatoes and then popped them in the oven.  Nom nom.

Cowboy, Take Me Away

Cowboy cookies.  The name itself immediately drew my eye & made me think of my own cowboy so I knew I had to try it.  They turned out extremely hearty and thick – just like I’d imagine a cowboy would love.  The recipe called for kosher salt sprinkled over the tops but I ended up skipping it.  I tried it on my sample and didn’t really care for it, even though typically I love the mix of sweet & salty.  I also used walnuts instead of pecans – simply a personal preference.  Given my slight nut allergy, I really shouldn’t be using any but hey, a little itchy mouth & throat never hurt anyone.  Oy.  The cowboys I served these up to loved the thickness and heartiness of them.  Definitely a man cookie, much like the name suggests.  I think what might push them truly over the edge into the Land of Amazeballs is strawberry.  Strawberry with oats, chocolate AND nuts?  sign me up!  I’ll definitely be playing around with that next time I make them.  I found the base recipe here – Everybody Likes Sandwiches.

For starters

Not sure how to begin this.  I’m 23, currently not single and too domestic for my own good.  You name it and I dabble in it.  I actually enjoy cleaning and spend around two hours of my day on my one bedroom condo. Excessive?  Yes, but it’s dang clean.  I’m good with crafting, drawing / painting, sewing, quilting, knitting, needle-points, embroidery, etc.  I sketch, design and fashion clothes / costumes.  And I really, really enjoy cooking and baking.  Despite being quite the girly-girl, I can talk sports all day so let’s not get it twisted.  I may be a Princess [a Pretty, Pretty Princess at that] but I’m a Princess who can cook your dinner, clean your room, beat you at fantasy leagues and re-hem your jeans.  😛

I have little interest in food photography and less interest in making a light box, all pictures will come from the camera on my Blackberry.  The majority of the recipes I find off other food blogs or in a Jewish cook book my synagogue [where my Grams & Auntie ran the kitchen] produced well over 15years ago.  I tend to adapt [I prefer “personalize”] practically every recipe I use, whether it be less butter or different spices or completely add or alter the main ingredients.  You have to make things work for you, right?  Right.  I don’t keep entirely Kosher but the one thing I’m a stickler for is pork [or rather, the lack of pork].  No pork to be seen here, chiefs.  Although the pure fatty goodness of a bacon-wrapped scallop has passed through my mind more then I’d care to admit.  Yumm.  I also refuse to use boxed mixes, stocks and anything frozen…I’m picky & really love anything and everything I can get fresh.

I think I prefer cooking & baking since I can share it with people and “spread the joy.”  I really enjoy watching someone take a bite of something I’ve made & seeing the look on their face.  Corny?  So very much.

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