Friday, August 26, 2016

Asian Peanut Chicken Fried Rice

I have this set of Asian dishes I've been holding on to for 16 years now.

They're totally impractical- the plates are small, and how often does the average person use Asian soup spoons and cute little dipping sauce bowls?

My guess is almost never.
Yet for 16 years every time I have moved I've dutifully bubble wrapped those babies and found an out of the way kitchen cabinet in which to tuck them for those rare occasions on which they're a practical choice.  They have followed me everywhere.

I always get a little excited when the opportunity to use them presents itself- both because they're fun to use and because I love using them in food photography.  Look back at almost any Asian dish I've written about over the past four years and more often than not you'll see those white dishes with the blue design on them somewhere underneath the food.

They're just fun, you know?

I made this Asian Peanut Chicken Fried Rice the other day, and of course I pulled out my favorite dishes!

Ok, so I have a bit of a story to tell you about this dish.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Southwestern Corn and Crab Fritters with Sriracha Lemon Aioli

Remember how I said I hate to fry things?

So true.

Yet after making the Asian Orange Chicken the other day I still had fresh oil hanging out in my skillet that I didn't want to waste and honestly I'm just not the kind of person that likes to keep up with keeping old oil around for frying.  I don't fry nearly enough for something like that.

So I had this oil on my stove.  I also had a recipe that had been screaming for me to try it from the  Cans Get You Cooking collection on Allrecipes, the same place I found that tasty Beet and White Bean Salad recipe I made earlier this month.

So of course you know what I did- heated that oil up to 265° and got cooking!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

BBQ Beef Cups and Football Season

Drumroll please...today I bring to you THE FIRST FUN RECIPE OF FOOTBALL SEASON!

Woohoo!  Game day food!

Good night, what has happened to me over the past few years?  When I did I actually start to care about and look forward to football rather than simply suffering through it next to my husband?

I don't know exactly how all of this transpired...but it has.
And here I sit- actually eagerly anticipating the Seahawks/Cowboys preseason game this week.

What.  Is.  Wrong with me.

Do you know what I do know?

Football food is fun and you and I?  We have several months more of fun game day foods to go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Asian Orange Chicken and Organized Freezers

So back when I was settling into the whole stay-at-home-mom gig and I was keeping myself super busy playing Super Homemaker I was really good about keeping a soup file.

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it a time or two on the blog.  Just about any time I cooked something that lent itself to freezing I would triple or quadruple the batch and freeze the extra.  After cooling I would divide the extra between freezer bags, freeze them flat, and then store them vertically- it's absolutely amazing how much food you can fit into a freezer when you handle your freezer space that way.  It makes both menu planning and last minute good meals amazingly easy when you're a quick defrost away from dinner.  I'd been handling leftovers like this for quite awhile when I read a magazine article with Jamie Lee Curtis coining the phrase "soup file" and I thought it was pretty great so I stole it for myself.  :-)

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Best Hamburger Buns I've Ever Eaten

I've never EVER been as impressed with a roll recipe as I am with this one.  I've made a lot of bread recipes over the years, so it really takes something special to get that kind of a response out of me.
Honestly, I don't make hamburger buns very often, unless I really don't feel like going to the store and I'm running short on time, in which case I have my go-to 40 Minute Hamburger Buns.  It's far more likely that I'll just grab a cheap bag of buns from the grocery store.

I'm not sure what it was about this recipe that caught my eye, maybe I was just in the mood to try out a new bread recipe- it's been awhile since I worked with yeast other than my favorite white bread recipe.  Whatever the reason, I set to work on these yesterday afternoon so I'd have them ready for dinner last night.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Simple and Delicious Barley Corn Salad

I'm honestly not really sure whether this Barley Corn Salad recipe is brought to you by my unceasing love of grain salads or my magical pantry which I swear to you continues to refill itself with odd grains just as quickly as I can use them.  Whichever it might be, I'm quite pleased that I get to share it with you!
So first of all, much like the Barley Lime Fiesta Salad I shared with you last summer, I didn't use any barley whatsoever in this.  Sorry for the misnomer.   While I didn't have any barley on hand I did have sorghum.   Sorghum just happens to be a delicious substitute for barley, so I was in luck.  :-)

Sorghum is a whole grain that tastes mild and a little earthy.  While they taste nothing alike, it looks a lot like Israeli couscous.  It's delicious in soups and salads and it's right up my "I like to cook weird stuff" alley.  Apparently you can even pop it like popcorn (!), though I've yet to give that one a try.  It's one of those things that I don't often think to cook with, but I should cook with often because it's filling yet light and delicious.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Not Quite Peruvian Pickled Veggies

I stumbled across the most amazing restaurant about a year ago.  It's Peruvian- and lets be honest, I know absolutely nothing about Peruvian food, so I have no idea how authentic it is. What I do know is that the food this place serves is seriously up there with the best food I've ever eaten in my life.  
I've tried several of the appetizers there- causa limeña, yuca, plantains, etc.  I've had a delicious soup with quinoa.  I've tried my husband's chicken with passion fruit.  However I have only ordered one entree myself.  I'm sure the entire menu is delicious and I'm missing out on loads of good food but I just can't help myself, I have to order it every time we go- that adobo arequipeño is just too good to miss out on.  I can't imagine how anything could possibly be better than that dish!  Ohmygoodness it's tasty.  Pork stew over white rice and sweet potatoes...it's perfection.  Sitting there on the plate next to all of this goodness is a little pile of pickled red onions called Salsa Criolla.

When I saw a recipe for salsa criolla I knew I had to try it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Basic BBQ Spice Rub

When my husband and I first started dating life was a little hectic.  I was working long hours and to be honest cooking a full meal for myself was not something I had a lot of time or energy to do.

Thankfully, one of the first things I learned about that man is that he can totally hold his own in the kitchen.  I would get home from work after dark and he would bring over food.

Not like, "Hey, I'm running by Taco Bell, want me to grab you something?" food, but real food.  Things like scallops.  He won me over with his scallops and roasted red pepper sauce.

He'd get everything prepped at his place and then show up on my doorstep with coolers and bags and finish everything in my kitchen while I unwound after work.

:-) I married a good one, ladies.

Anyway, to be honest these days I do almost all of the cooking.  It just makes sense now that I'm home with the kids.  The exception to that is that my husband is the King of the Grill.  I may make the side dishes, dry rubs, and sauces but that man works magic with his grill(s).  It's so much fun to create together, after all of these years.  :-) Together we do awesome things.

Blueberry Habañero Salsa and Fun With Cooking

When I was poking around looking for a way to use my blackberries the other day- before stumbling upon that amazing blackberry muffin recipe I ended up going with- I came across a recipe for Blueberry Habañero Salsa.

This recipe caught  my eye for several reasons- first of all it's weird sounding.

Lets be honest, I seem to have a penchant for weird recipes.  Sometimes they're successes, sometimes they're horrible failures, but they're always always interesting.
A huge part of keeping cooking fun is mixing things up and being just a little brave.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Blackberry Muffins and Weird Coincidences

I was lucky enough to be gifted a couple of quarts of homegrown blackberries recently that have been hanging out in my freezer, patiently waiting for me to do something with them.

I was itching to make something with those little gems (blackberries are my absolute favorite berry!) but there were so many choices.  I thought about making blackberry BBQ sauce, pie, cobbler...eventually I settled on muffins.  I'd never actually made blackberry muffins before, but when I saw this recipe I knew I needed to give it a try.  :-) That may have had something to do with the fact that I already had all of the ingredients on hand and I love being the first to photograph a new recipe on Allrecipes, but whatever.  I went with muffins.

Do you know who else went with muffins, I would later find out?  My dad, in a completely different state, also made blackberry muffins- also for the first time- on the same day that I did.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Molasses Grilled Peaches: A Simple Summer Dessert

I'm willing to bet I go through a great deal more molasses than the average home cook.

I just love that deep, dark, rich, sultry flavor.  It adds another dimension to all kinds of dishes- not to mention how many last minute trips to the store have been saved by the knowledge that I can make my own brown sugar when I run out!  Did you know that?  Seriously, just mix molasses into white sugar and voilà- you have brown sugar!

For years I only bought molasses once a year- for holiday cookie baking.  Big Soft Ginger Cookies are some of my absolute favorites!

Once I discovered the brown sugar trick it became a staple in my pantry and I use it all. the. time.

It adds a richness to everything, from cookies, to Gingerbread popcorn, to my go-to BBQ Sauce.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Confessions Of A Beet Lover

Confession time:
I LOVE pickled beets.  Love love love them.  I will go absolutely insane at any salad bar that has them- my plate at the Jason's Deli salad bar looks absolutely ridiculous loaded with those whole beets and whole hard-boiled eggs they have out.  They're just amazing, seriously.  

 Years ago- like almost half my life ago, actually- I had a beet-hating boyfriend.  One of our favorite restaurants back then, AJ Spurs, served salads with beets.  He used to order his with EXTRA beets and then put them all on my salad when they came.  lol He may not have been a keeper in the long run, but I love beets enough that I certainly remember that gesture.  :-)

My beet love runs deep.

I know, most people find this crazy.  I get a lot of shocked expressions from beet haters when they realize that someone actually eats those funky red things at the salad bar- it seems that the overwhelming majority of people seem to think that they're gross.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Easy No Boil Stuffed Shells With Ragú Homestyle

The first time I tried to make lasagna was on Christmas Eve.  I was probably around 12- and I had decided that I was going to tackle the meal my own.  I told you I've always loved to cook.  :-)

 Why lasagna?  I haven't a clue.  I just got it into my head that I was going to do this thing.
I made lasagna, mashed potatoes, and oatmeal cookies.
Why that combination, I have no idea, but it kind of became a tradition for many years of Christmas Eves to follow.  That and eating this crazy meal by candlelight.  Because...why not?

Anyway, what I really remember about putting that meal together?  What a pain it was trying to work with pre-cooked noodles.  They tore and they stuck and they were annoying.  It didn't take long for me to realize that precooking those noodles was a completely pointless act and that I could easily make the same lasagna with a tiny bit more sauce and use noodles straight out of the box.  In fact, I kind of ran with the knowledge that I didn't have to fight with pre-cooked pasta and never used it in any baked pasta dish again.

Manicotti?  Dude.  Why deal with wibbly-wobbly cooked noodles when it's so much easier just to stuff them straight out of the box?