Sunday, February 28, 2010

Who likes to rock the party? I like to rock the party...

It's true. I am amazing. Tonight I produced my best dish yet. I'm quite pleased with myself, as you can see. But honestly. You'd be thrilled too if you ate something in a restaurant and were able to duplicate it at home! And my mom and sister said they were the best ever! Next time, I'll have a less biased audience. OR, make them for yourself! Let me know what you think! Sing my praises to all of the interweb. Doooo it.

So what is this magical dish of love and wonderfulness?

Arancini!! A combination of 3 of my favorite things: risotto, cheese and deep fried goodness.

You will need:

olive oil
1 c arborio rice
1 small onion
3 cloves of garlic
4 c chicken broth (or 1 c white wine + 3 c chicken broth)
1 tbsp butter
1/4c parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
panko bread crumbs (or your favorite bread crumbs)
mozarella cheese, cubed

Start by making the risotto. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a fry pan on medium heat. Dice the onion on the smallish side, chop the garlic however you wish and add both to the pan. Cook until the onions become slightly translucent - do not let onions or garlic brown very much at all. But really, not at all. Add arborio rice and saute for a few minutes. Add your first cup of chicken broth OR the white wine. Stir until all liquid is absorbed. Continue adding liquid 1 cup (or ladel full) at a time, stirring until all liquid is absorbed before adding another. This will take 30-45 minutes. When all liquid is absorbed, rice should be slightly al dente (especially for this dish). Add butter and parmesan cheese. Let it cool completely (I made mine the night before and stored it in the refrigerator and that worked out really well).

Once risotto is completely cooled, heat a few inches of vegetable (or olive. or canola) oil in a large saucepan (or, heat up your fancy deep fryer, moneybags). Stir the beaten egg into the chilled risotto.  Grab 3 shallow dishes and add flour, other egg(beaten) + milk and bread crumbs in each. For each ball, use 2 tablespoons of risotto, roll into ball, press cube of mozarella into center of ball, making sure it is completely covered. Roll in flour, egg mixture and bread crumbs. Test the oil with by dropping in a few of the bread crumbs stuck to your hand, if they bubble to the top, your oil is probably ready. I mean, I've never fried anything before, but this theory worked out pretty well for me. Place coated rice balls into oil and let brown, flip over and cook until the other side is golden brown. Remove from pan and place onto paper towel to drain.

Serve with your favorite red sauce for dipping. Become a hero to your friends and family. Go on to fame and fortune. Live happily ever after.

Lemons = Love

Alright. I admit it. I'm a sucker for anything lemon. (Save for the lemon-foot bars served at the cafe I work at - for only 2 more days!! *Insert squeal of delight here*. A part of me always feels guilty serving them to unknowing customers. Nobody deserves to pay for foot flavored food. Ahh alliteration...)

I digress. The point is, I LOVE LEMON. One of my favorite lemony concoctions? My grandma's lemon bars. The crust is buttery and slightly cookie like, and the lemon topping is out of this world. The perfect amount of sweet and tart. This was only my second time making them, and while I know they'll never measure to Grandma's, they're pretty damn good. I mean, really, really good. And honestly, not so complicated. Adding a food processor to my list of kitchen appliances meant that making the crust was a breeze.

So, you will need:

For the Crust:

2 c flour
1 c powdered sugar
2 stickers of butter, room temperature
pinch of salt

For the filling:

4 eggs
6 tbsp all purpose flour
2 c granulated sugar
6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
(seriously, this makes a huge difference)

Preheat your oven to 350degrees; lightly grease a 9x13 pan.

To make the crust, combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl (or food processor). Cut in the butter to make a crumbly mixture (you can use your hands or just put the food processor on low for a minute or two). The dough should look crumbly, but stick together when you pinch some between your fingers. Press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the eggs, sugar, flour and lemon juice.

Pour over baked crust, bake for 25 minutes. Let cool.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Slice and enjoy!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Comfort. On a plate. In a bowl.

We snarky folk tend to be easily annoyed by most things in this world. It's these annoyances that force our wit to be so scathing. Defense mechanism, survival tactic, call it what you will. It works. And, if you're cute like me, people even find it endearing some of the time. But snarkiness can quickly fall over the edge into scrooge-dom.

Luckily, there are a few things in this world that keep me from taking that plunge: my family, my bf, kitties, good books, Netflix and comfort food. Man oh man. I once dated a guy who didn't believe in comfort food. WHAT. Thank the gods that didn't last.

So today's post features a couple of oh so comforting foods (one made by me, one eaten by me in a restaurant)

First up:

Sweet and Savory Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Pork Roast

You will need:

1 boneless pork roast
3-4 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small onion
5 cloves garlic
apple juice or cider
1 tbsp. cinnamon
salt & pepper

Chop 3 large cloves of garlic very finely (I used my mini food processor to get it done much faster). rinse meat and trim any excess fat off. With a tiny drizzle of oil, rub all sides of meat with chopped garlic, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Place peeled onion, 2 whole cloves of garlic (slightly crushed) and carrots in 6 qt. slow cooker. Heat a skillet with very small amount of oil. When the pan is good and hot, sear the rubbed meat on all sides. Add seared meat to slow cooker. Pour juice or cider into slow cooker so it almost covers everything. Cook on high for 6-7 hours. Remove onion and garlic, throw away (or eat them if you want. I don't care). Place carrots and meat onto plate. Boil the juice or cider, make into gravy by whisking in a flour and water mixture. Serve over mashed potatoes. Die and go to heaven. Cause it's that damn good.

My mom first made this recipe years ago and it became an instant favorite. Andrew was skeptical of this strange combination, but was quickly converted once he tasted it. This roast just completely falls apart. It's so tender and the flavor will blow your mind. Oh and the carrots! Yums. As a side note, I used light apple juice (aka already diluted for you apple juice), so it was less sugary - and it was just as good as using the more expensive cider or regular juice.


My sister's birthday was a few days ago, and to celebrate the family went to dinner at one of her favorite restauraunts; Dolce Vita in Dearborn   Riveriew, MI. Oh.My.Word. It was my first time there and I can't wait to go back. Perfect arancini as an appetizer ( I forgot to take a picture). And for my meal:

Ricotta and Spinach Rigatoni with Grilled Chicken

I don't know why this picture is kind of blurry, but you get the idea. Holy Flavor Parade. Garlic-y, cheesy and oh so delicious. I think the best part about this dish is that despite the fact that it's a cream sauce, it wasn't really heavy. The sauce was surprisingly light. And who doesn't love ricotta cheese? Unbelievably good.

Hooray for good family and good food.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

peanut, peanut butter. no jelly.

So there I was, hunkered down on the couch, grumpy about the snow, watching Veronica Mars bake peanut butter cookies and I thought to myself....mmm, peanut butter cookies. I don't usually even like cookies. But, I needed peanut butter cookies. So, I looked over a few recipes on the internet, added this, subtracted that, and came up with some extremely yummy oatmeal peanut butter cookies. And easy. Did I mention that? SO easy. These cookies are soft and chewy and I might have to go have another one...

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup margarine, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
Preheat oven to 350degrees. Combine margarine, peanut butter, honey, sugar, vanilla and egg. Add soda, salt, flour and oats. Give it a good stir. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Use 2 teaspoons to drop dough onto cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on these, they seem like they're not baking at all, and then suddenly they're done. I suspect they can overcook very quickly if you're not paying attention.
Well, there you have it folks. Nothing completes a snow day like warm, chewy cookies. Gotta pack on the extra pounds to stay warm in the endless winter.

I'm pretty sure my ass is bigger, but my hands are still cold.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mamma Mia!

Don't worry, folks. I'm not about to burst into song.

I promise.

I spent a good part of this lazy Sunday doing something I absolutely love: cooking with my mama. For those of you who think you have the coolest mom around, I invite you to suck it. I definitely have the coolest and most amazing mom ever. For really reals. She's funny, smart as a whip, supportive as all get out...and did I mention the woman can cook? Hot damn.

Today, we went straight to feast mode. Roast chicken(s). Mashed Potatoes. Stuffing (with apples and cranberries). Sweet Potatoes. Peas&Carrots. Rolls fresher than Veronica Mars on a particularly testy day. In short: sheer, sweet & delicious perfection. The only thing missing was my sissy :)

Since I step into the happy little helper position when mama's in the kitchen, I don't feel as though I can share all the recipes for today, but I have to let you in on the secret that is my mama's sweet potatoes. They're way better than the brown sugar marshmallow topped concoction we are all so familiar with. And they won't add jiggle to your booty shakin'.

And so, you will need:

2 sweet potatoes
1/2 of a small container of vanilla yogurt
couple shakes o'cinnamon

Cook sweet potatoes in microwave for 8-10 minutes - until they're tender enough to mash. Mash em' up, add yogurt and cinnamon. Put in oven safe dish. Top with granola. Put in 350degree oven for 20-30 minutes, just until heated through.

This stuff will blow your mind.

Sweet candy from nature.

And now, for your viewing pleasure...

nah, I wouldn't do that to ya.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Turkey Lurkey Comes to Dinner

Please accept my apology for this terrible picture quality. Methinks once I get my tax refund I'll invest in a new digital camera. Until then, bear with me.

Anywho, today I was in the mood for a delicious sandwich. Boy oh boy, do I love a good sammie. Originally I had panko breaded chicken breasts in mind as the base, but when I took the chicken out of the freezer to thaw, it looked...wrong. Quite disappointing. Luckily, turkey was there to save the day. Lovable, reliable turkey. Not as exciting as something with PANKO, but you know. Acceptable.

So, after a very (unnecessarily) long visit with the rude and useless people of Meijer (seriously, every time I go there lately the customer service is a whopping joke. What gives?), this is the end result:
Turkey Avocado Paninis
4 slices good quality bread (aka not Wonder Bread - we used Marble Rye)
Sliced Havarti Cheese
Your favorite deli sliced turkey
1 ripe avocado, sliced thinly.
3 cloves garlic (do not peel!)
1/2 c. of your favorite mayo

Wrap garlic cloves in tin foil and place in 400 degree oven. Roast for 20-30 minutes. Let the cloves cool for a minute or two, then simply squeeze the garlic out of the peels and into a bowl. Once all garlic guts are in the bowl, add the 1/2c of mayo and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste. Voila, you just made roasted garlic mayonnaise! Well done, you. You certainly are fancy. And sophisticated. Totally.
Now to assemble the sandwich. I like the order of cheese, turkey, avocado and mayo. This way the cheese melts better when you grill it. According to my theory of cheese melting, anyway. Heat a grill pan (if you don't have a grill pan, i seriously recommend that you get one. I just got one for xmas this year - thanks mom! - and it is amazing) and spray with cooking spray or drizzle a little olive oil. Place sandwich in pan. Use another pan or anything heavy you can find and think would work well (jar of rocks, a bowling ball or a brick would probably work. Your boyfriend will not. Also he'll get mad if you even try it)...anyway you're using something heavy (I used a skillet) to push down on the sandwich as it cooks. Let it get nice and toasty, then flip and repeat.
Eat it up. Have another. Or some soup. Soup would be delish.

Oh man. This was extra nums! Andrew rated it "restaurant quality. You could serve this at a restaurant and this would be the thing people would specifically come to get", so I think it was quite a success. All of the flavors worked really well together, and I was especially pleased with the roasted garlic mayonnaise (we used olive oil mayo and it was extra yummy. And better for your heart, so yay for added perks).

Today's pumpkin butter oatmeal was a bust, by the way, kiddies. I love oatmeal. I love pumpkin butter. But ugh. Not a good combo. I'm thinking maybe just pumpkin puree, brown sugar and and cinnamon would be a better option. If you're looking for a worthy oatmeal substitute, Quaker's Oatmeal Squares cereal is damn good. And now they have a an even yummier maple flavor. So good!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I currently have an obsession with oatmeal. I eat it for breakfast a lot lately. Pretty much everyday. Okay, today I ate two giant muffins for breakfast....but every other day, it's totally oatmeal. Periodically, I'll be posting what crazy oatmeal concoction I'm currently in love with. Recently it's brown sugar and dried cherries (all time favorite, really. Absolutely divinely delicious. Nums). Tomorrow, I think I'll try pumpkin butter.

Anyone have oatmeal add-in favorites they would like to share/recommend?

Lemon Zest For Life!

In the future, I'll be posting actual photos of the food I've cooked, but as I have yet to locate the usb cord for my digital camera, this adorable cartoon (courtesy of will have to suffice. A total sucker for too cute for words anthropomorphic foods, I cannot stop gushing over this website. Eep!

Ahh, yes. On to the foods. I love to cook. Creating delicious meals in the kitchen fills me with a sense of pride I am hard pressed to find elsewhere. When I'm in the kitchen, only one thing overpowers that pride. Hunger. Tonight was one of those nights. While I wanted something delicious, I wanted it to be near effortless. After examining the contents of my pantry and cupboards and combining what I found with past knowledge, this is what I came up with:

Pasta with EasyPeasy Lemon Cream Sauce

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 c chicken broth

4 oz. cream cheese

1 1/2 lbs pasta (any type. I used radiatore, mostly cause they're just so darn cute)

juice of 1-2 lemons (use your best judgement/taste buds here) + a bit o' zest

1/4 c Parmesan cheese

salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to instructions on the box. I feel I should clarify here that when I say 1 1/2 lbs, what I really mean is almost a full 16oz box. Just pour til you feel guilty.

Heat olive oil in medium saute pan. Saute garlic until it just begins to brown. Add chicken broth and bring to boil. Add cream cheese and whisk until fully melted, add lemon juice and zest. Simmer a few minutes, until it just begins to thicken. Stir in pasta and Parmesan cheese and simmer a few minutes more until you're pleased with the consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste (I went heavy on the pepper and recommend you do as well).

Serve it up to your buttercup. And yourself. Top with more Parmesan cheese and lemon zest, if you're feeling fancy.

I cannot believe how delicious this was, considering I literally made it up on the spot and it took a total of 20 minutes (eat that Rachel Ray). The lemon really lightened up the dish and gave it a fresh and exciting flavor. Next time, if I'm not so hungry, I think grilled chicken and peas will be the perfect accompaniment to this dish.