Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I made soup the past two nights. I'm going out of town this weekend, so I'll miss the weekly grocery store run this weekend, so how do you keep your vegetables edible over a long weekend? Make soup of course! Plus my apartment has been making me cold.

Last night I made Carrot Cilantro Chili Soup. I didn't exactly measure the chili paste or the cilantro and it had a little too much chili paste and a little too little cilantro (either that or it was just too much chili and covered the taste of the cilantro, the soup was pretty hot, definitely spicier than my chili.

Tonight I made up an Italian vegetable soup. I made it with what I had lying around, so you could certainly make modifications (use frozen basil, for instance). It went something like this:
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 onion diced
2 stalks celery diced
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth (being a grad student means I don't have the space for a chicken to make my own chicken stock, but I will someday soon...)
1 6oz can tomato paste
2-3 c water
5 oz fresh spinach washed and chopped
1/4 c fresh basil
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp homemade Italian seasoning (dried basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano in approximately equal parts, I'm not sure if this is what they sell in stores, but it's my 4 favorites)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
dash cracked pepper
1 c Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend

1. Cook onion and celery in canola oil in large pot. When starting to soften, add chicken broth, water, tomatoes, tomato paste, spinach, basil, garlic, sugar, Italian seasoning, pepper.
2. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer about a half an hour until the veggies are almost soft. This is when I added the garlic powder because I didn't think it had enough flavor. You might also add more salt (I used low sodium broth and no sodium added tomatoes and if I liked salt I might have wanted more) pepper, or Italian seasoning. Taste it and decide what you need.
3. Add Harvest Grains. Simmer on low for 10 minutes until they are cooked, then remove from heat and serve. I put a little shredded mozzerella cheese on top and it was fantastic!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I know it's been a while, but I haven't really made anything worth noting. I went home for break, which meant I planned to make meals without going to the grocery store. The next couple weeks will probably be similar. But on to new business: I found a bread recipe that actually rose right. It's not whole wheat, and it's a little bit bland, but it's still quite good (it is homemade bread after all). I found the recipe here. It's a relatively fool-proof recipe and I wish I had started with it. One of the most useful tidbits was the windowpane test to see if you've kneaded your bread enough:
  1. After about 5 minutes of kneading, especially when dough feels stretchy, pinch off a small piece and stretch it slowly apart
  2. Pulling and rotating it gently to stretch this piece of dough into a thin, translucent membrane
  3. If it tears easily, continue kneading a few more minutes and try the test again
It's not too sweet to go with meat, and it certainly isn't super hearty or dense, making peanut butter seem to stick more, plus like I said, it's the first bread that has actually turned out, so I'm a huge fan.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for these, I got them from "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" in an article at Christmas time featuring less traditional Christmas cookies (the chocolate raspberry raviolis were a huge hit at our family Christmas party, as well). We were going to make them, bought all the ingredients and then lost the recipe. I managed to find it online and saved the recipe to my computer. These might be the best cookies I've ever made. Okay, I love the standard Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe, probably more than anything. One of the best excluding those (I mean, come on, as much as I love them, they are kind of boring). These are very good, a great chocolate flavor with a little more interest than just that. Without further ado:

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

5 ounces bittersweet (60% to 70%) chocolate, coarsely chopped

¾ cup flour

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Dash of black pepper

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 ¼ cups sugar

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, room temperature

1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place chocolate in a small glass bowl; microwave on high (100% power) 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Set aside.

In small bowl, combine flour and seasonings and stir to combine. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat sugar and butter with electric mixer at medium speed until well blended, about 5 minutes. Add egg and beat well. Add cooled chocolate and vanilla; beat just until blended. Add reserved flour mixture; stir until combined.

Drop dough by level teaspoons 2 inches apart on cookie sheets coated with vegetable oil spray. Bake in preheated oven 6 to 8 minutes or until almost set. Remove from oven. Cool on pans 2 minutes or until set. Remove from pans; cool completely on a wire rack.

A use for my masala seasoning

So I bought some masala seasoning from the farmers market at the beginning of this year because I had every intention of making my own Indian food. And because it was only 50 cents for a big container. However, after a bad experience making Indian food from a bottle, I got scared and didn't use it. I also have a tendency to buy lentils every year without a plan, and often end up giving them away. This year I've actually been using them (lentil burgers), but I found a spicy lentil recipe and decided to give it a try. Then I realized that this recipe wasn't exactly what I wanted, so I based my lentils (very) roughly on it, but mostly did my own thing. Unfortunately I didn't measure anything, but I'm pretty sure anyone could adjust this to taste. Therefore, this recipe will be a little backwards, with the description of what I did and an estimate of what I used (notes on what I recommend are in the summary of what I did)

I first cooked a 1/2 cup of lentils according to the package directions. Well, sort of, half way through cooking, I chopped up 5-6 baby carrots and threw them in to make them soft.

Meanwhile, I cooked about half an onion (I mixed leftover vidalia and red) and a clove of garlic (I used a big one and would recommend at least twice that, if not more as I had to add garlic powder later). I should have cooked this spices with them at this point, but unfortunately, I did not have that much forsight. I added a green onion and some cilantro and cooked it on low for a while. THEN I added the spices (some were probably redundant, but it allowed me to get it perfectly to my liking): masala seasoning (probably almost a tablespoon when all was said and done), tumeric, coriander, a very small dash of ginger, cayanne pepper (which was apparently the most redundant of all), and cumin. I continued cooking until the lentils were done. Then I added that to the lentils, tasted it and realized I had significantly underseasoned it. So I added all of those things plus salt and garlic powder to the full mixture and cooked until blended. I added a little more cilantro shortly before serving. It was decently spicy and definitely not bland. All in all my ingredient list probably looked like this:

1/2 c lentils
5 baby carrots
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
1 green onion
1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
oil for cooking
1 Tablespoon masala seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cayanne pepper
1/2+ teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2+ teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ginger

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


We all have our own recipe for chili, but I thought I'd post mine to help make this blog a little broader. I guess I don't measure anything in chili, but this is what I use:
1 can beans (black, kidney, or anything that is on sale)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 pound ground beef
2 stalks celery
1/2 a green pepper
1/2+ onion
chili powder (lots and lots)
cumin (lots of this too, even though there is cumin in chili powder, I really love cumin)
cinnamon (I put a good deal of this in, last time maybe a little too much)
garlic powder
onion powder (just a dash)
red pepper paste (it's this stuff I buy in the produce section, they have many different herbs, they are a little pricey, but they I keep it in the freezer and it lasts a long time, making life cooking for one a little easier)
cocoa powder (not too much, this isn't dessert)
And of course, in the true midwestern way:
Elbow macaroni

Cook beans, tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic, celery together with spices in a saucepan. Cook beef, drain (rinse) and add to mixture, season to taste. Cook this until the peppers and onions are soft and the flavor has blended well. Cook pasta, drain and mix into chili. Serve with shredded cheddar (or colby jack) cheese.

Next challenge: make the hottest chili possible for my friends. This will be for show, not for a legitimate meal. But it will be fun. They sell Scotch Bonnet peppers at Publix.