Why another cooking blog?

I decided to create this blog as a way for family and friends to see what I'm cooking and to share interesting food related tidbits I come across.
I'm frequently asked for recipes so I thought this would be a good place to start collecting the old, new, and funky recipes that I have.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

National Margarita Day!

Hey everyone! It's National Margarita Day! Go out have an icy beverage and enjoy :)

Margarita from The World According to Carrie 



I love Sriracha sauce and I desperately want this book.

Of course no one else in my house eats the stuff so this is a purely selfish desire. One of my favorite recipes to put this stuff on is our chicken fried rice. Jeff is generally the cook when it comes to making this dish.

Our Chicken Fried Rice

4 C cooked white rice
1T oil
2 chicken breasts marinated in soy sauce, diced in bite size pieces
1 C carrots, sliced
1 C onion diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2/3 C frozen peas
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stick butter
3 eggs, beaten

In a large non-stick skillet (and I mean LARGE) or a wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and allow to cook while stirring for a few minutes. Add carrots, onions, and mushrooms stirring frequently until veggies are tender.
In a small skillet scramble the 3 eggs, chop them up and set aside with the garlic.
Stir in the rice, butter, peas, and eggs. Stir until butter is melted and then serve - with plenty of sriracha of course!

My notes:
I personally do not think an entire stick of butter is necessary but since Jeff is cooking he makes the decision. We usually do not use the entire 4C of rice. We just add until it looks like enough. I think you could put just about any vegetable in this but we generally stick with the carrots, onions, peas, and mushrooms.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Evidently cinnamon can kill you?

Can the cinnamon challenge kill you?

An Internet meme with potentially risky consequences is sweeping the Web. The question is, can the brutal 'cinnamon challenge' be potentially fatal as well?

By Melissa Breyer
If someone can explain the appeal of the cinnamon challenge, can they clue in the rest of us? The dastardly dare that has the Internet aflutter involves the task of eating a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, without water, in less than a minute.
What could be so tough about consuming a mouthful of this innocuous-seeming spice? If cinnamon inspires thoughts of comforting apple pie and cozy cinnamon rolls, switch gears and consider Atomic Fireballs, Lava Hot Cinnamon Balls, and Hot Tamales. Cinnamon is potent, as evidenced by the reactions recorded in many a cinnamon-challenge YouTube video — coughing, choking, gagging, vomiting, crying, cursing and general signs of severe discomfort.
But all the panicked retching aside, can swallowing a mouthful of cinnamon be dangerous, or even deadly?
To understand the potency of cinnamon, ponder this: Cinnamaldehyde, the organic compound that gives the spice its distinctive flavor, is used as a pesticide and fungicide. It’s strong enough to kill little things, for heaven’s sake. The EPA warns of acute dermal toxicity; acute oral toxicity; eye irritation; dermal irritation and dermal sensitization. Granted, this is just a component of cinnamon used in concentration, but still, this demure seasoning clearly has a wicked side.
There are two species used in the ground cinnamon found in the spice aisle, Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon. Cassia is interesting in that it contains substantial amounts of coumarin. Coumarin is the parent compound of warfarin (known by its trademarked name, Coumadin), a medication used to keep blood from clotting. Coumarin is mighty powerful and can affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. In people who are sensitive, coumarin might cause or worsen liver disease.
Due to concerns about the possible effects of coumarin, several years ago the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warned against consuming large amounts of Cassia cinnamon. 
And then there’s the burn. Parenting experts recommend keeping spices out of reach from children. One of the threats to children who play in the spice cabinet is cinnamon, which when ingested can cause severe burning of the mouth and throat, requiring immediate medical attention. The burning may be so severe that the child can suffer from swelling of the mouth or throat, blocking access to air and potentially leading to death. 
Obviously infants aren’t participating in the dare, and it's highly doubtful we'll witness an infant cinnamon challenge trend, but it goes to show that cinnamon is a formidable flavoring. All one needs to see is a few “cinnamon challenge fail” videos on the Web to view the effect on teens and young adults when the powder is inhaled — which is pretty much inevitable following the gasps that occur upon the initial burning. Immediate coughing and choking are de rigeuer.
In many cases, the coughing is so severe that the challengee has difficulty catching his breath. For anyone suffering from asthma or COPD, this can be very serious. And in fact, ground cinnamon can lead to a bronchial constriction — according to the University of Michigan Health System — and that can be life threatening. 
Cinnamon also contains as essential oil called cinnamal, which can act as an allergen in a fair amount of people. Those who are allergic to cinnamon can suffer from contact dermatitis — and according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, cinnamon can also cause a severe allergic reaction that can lead to anaphylactic shock. We can only hope that someone who knows they are allergic to cinnamon would politely decline the challenge; but for someone who wasn’t aware of the existence or severity of an allergy, the results could be … challenging.
So, can the cinnamon challenge kill you? Although no accounts of death by cinnamon have been reported, there are indeed risks — and it seems only a matter of time until the challenge delivers a fatal blow to some unsuspecting teen.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken Soup

I went through a cooking frenzy last Sunday. I made BBQ pork in the crock pot, carrot bread, chicken soup with vegetables, and banana pudding.

I knew I wanted to make a chicken soup because I had made chicken stock earlier in the week and had a whole chicken that I needed to use. This soup was not only kid-approved but raved about. Strange since it had onions, tomatoes, and spinach in it.  All of which are considered deadly.

Chicken Soup

4 garlic cloves
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
4C chicken stock
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2C fresh spinach, julienned

1 14oz can of cannelini beans, drained
2 cups cooked chicken
1/2 - 1 tsp thyme
1/2 - 1 tsp oregano

Cook onion, garlic, carrots, and celery over medium-low heat. Sweat the vegetables, add oregano and thyme; cook until they are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the can of tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then drop down to a simmer. Add the beans and chicken; let simmer for a while. Basically until beans and chicken are heated through and you are ready to eat it. Before serving put the spinach in the soup and allow it to wilt a little.

My notes
This is my own recipe and as usual I butt-numbered this but at least I measured how much chicken stock I used. Like I said before, the kid raved about this soup which was really surprising but I'm not going to complain....
Even Jeff liked it and he says he doesn't really like spinach which I know is a mental thing b/c I put spinach in anything I can sneak it into. My Mom said that she and my Dad enjoyed it and that it was really filling.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Orange biscuit thing

Today's recipe brought to you by All Things Delicious.
I thought this was a great idea... plus I also had an orange that i needed to use and several of the Pillsbury Grands that Jeff bought a week or so ago. This is ridiculously easy, and awesomely good right out of the oven.

Here's the recipe

2 tubes refrigerated biscuits (the smaller biscuits or the Grands biscuits)
1 cube (1/2 C.) butter or margarine
1 C. sugar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Combine the butter or margarine, sugar, zest, and orange juice in a small saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted, stirring frequently.
Using a fork or tongs, dip each biscuit into the glaze, scooping some of the zest onto the biscuit.  Place into a well-greased bundt pan.

 Pour remaining glze over the biscuits. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes. When done, immediately turn onto a platter and serve.  I place the platter on top of the rolls, then flip the whole thing over.

Finished product, isn't it pretty?

My notes:
The flipping didn't go well for me, but honestly that really isn't a big surprise. I didn't change a thing in this recipe. I will say that it's probably best if you eat this right away as it really isn't as good after a day or so.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

Today's recipe is courtesy of Lola Cooks. I had 3 heads of broccoli in my fridge that I needed to use and I remembered I had saved this recipe to try.
Yum broccoli pre-roast

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup
The ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 heads broccoli with stems / 450g
  • ½ head of cauliflower / 450g
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, cut in half
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  cup non-fat greek yogurt
The method:
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Cut broccoli and cauliflower into similarly sized pieces.
  3. Place vegetables and spices in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Drizzle oil over the vegetables and toss to coat completely.
  5. Pour vegetables on a shallow baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes until somewhat soft and browned.
  6. Allow vegetables to cool slightly.  Remove some or all of the garlic.
  7. Place half of the warm vegetables in a blender with 1 cup of stock to puree.  Pour the puree into a pot.  Repeat with the other half of the vegetables.
  8. Add the remaining stock and water to the pot.
  9. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. If firm pieces of vegetables remain, process the soup with a immersion blender.
  11. Stir in the greek yogurt.
  12. Serve warm.
My notes:
I decided to roast the onions along with the broccoli and the cauliflower, I wanted a more mellow tone to the soup. I roughly chopped up the (whole) onion tossed it in a little bit of vegetable oil and added to the cauliflower, garlic, and broccoli about 1/2 way thru the roasting. I didn't want to roast the onion for the whole 40 minutes, I was afraid it would get too charred. I used 5 C of broth instead of 4C broth and 1C water as I had a bunch of homemade broth from the other day.
I also pureed all of the vegetables to make a nice thick soup. My immersion blender did a great job but I did find a rogue hunk of cauliflower floating around. Whoops.
I also put my new nutmeg grinder (thanks Erin!) to the test and added a little freshly ground nutmeg to the party. I think next time I will double the garlic, at least for the roasting if not for the soup. To finish the soup I also added 2 T of butter (of course) along with the greek yogurt. We haven't had this for dinner yet, so I have no idea if this will be kid-approved or not. But I will update later this week when we do eat it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Not too surprising

Americans eat too much salt. This is according to an article I read on CNN.
"Nine out of ten Americans eat too much salt each day."

I personally do not find this suprising at all. I believe that we confuse salt with added flavor.

"The CDC found that 10 types of foods accounted for more than 40% of the sodium people consumed. They are:
1) Breads and rolls
2) Deli lunch meats
3) Pizza
4) Poultry
5) Soups
6) Cheeseburgers and other sandwiches
7) Cheese
8) Pasta mixed dishes
9) Meat mixed dishes
10) Snack foods such as pretzels, potato chips and popcorn
Even though some of these foods are not high in sodium, eating multiple servings raises our salt levels.
On average, adults in the United States eat more than 3,300 milligrams of salt daily. And for many this is twice the amount experts suggest."

Seems like this list includes a lot of processed foods. Am I Shocked? No. I firmly believe the more unprocessed foods you eat the better.

Tater tot Casserole

Good morning all,
I made tater tot casserole the other day and as usual it is a big hit. It's so easy it's sinful. I found the recipe in one of my Hannah Swensen books. I'm not sure which one (possibly Apple Turnover) as Joanne Fluke has written several books and they all have really good recipes in them. I believe she actually calls this Too Easy Hot Dish.
Heh, those silly northerners.

Tater tot casserole
1-1 1/2 lb ground meat
2 cans cream of soup
1lb package of frozen tater tots
1 C shredded cheese

Brown the meat, drain fat if desired. Combine with cream of soups. Top with tater tots and then cheese. Bake at 350 until hot, bubbly, and cheese is all nice and melty.

My notes
This freezes very well! The ground meat can really be anything but I usually have ground beef around so that's generally what I use. The cream of soups can be any of them, cream of mushroom, chicken, celery, etc. I buy the low sodium variety as this can be a tad salty otherwise. I add about 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables to the mix just to give it a little more healthy of a spin. In the book Hannah says don't put more than a cup of cheese on top, otherwise it will insultate the tots and they won't crisp up..... and really who wants mushy tots?