Sunday, January 24, 2010

Three Blind Mice

I got Stanley a new package a those little realistic looking mice toys today while I was in the supermarket. I actually planned the purchase while driving to the store. I was feeling bad for him since these little mice toys are his favorite and his most recent one (and only one in the house) had gone missing. The supermarket had a package of a dozen of them for around $6 ($0.50 per mouse does now seem a little steep, but the pleasure they bring him and the laughs it brings MacPro and I are priceless). Earlier this evening MacPro brought the remains of these toy mice to me in the kitchen. Apparently I had forgotten to put them in the toy cabinet and had left the package sitting in the living room. Stanley, in his attempt to get them out of the cat-proof packaging decapitated at least three of these poor mice. The living room is a mess of little pieces of fake fur, eyes, and chalky insides!
"Three Blind Mice" - Original work by Stanley The Manly
Enjoy ~SJ

Cooking Challenge 3

This weeks menu offered nutty potato cakes, asparagus and tomotoes with a basalmic reduction, and chocolate truffle bars.

Nutty Potato Cakes (The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook)

3 medium potatoes
1 Tb. butter
1 cup sunflower seeds finely ground
2 Tbs. green onion, finely chopped
Wholemeal flour for coating
Oil for frying

Peel the potatoes, and cut into pieces and boil until soft. Drain, and mash with butter and milk until creamy. Add seeds, onions, and pepper. If necessary add a little more milt to make a soft texture that will hold together. Form cakes and coat with flour, fry quickly in as little oil as possible. Drain on paper towels.

I could not find wholemeal flour so I used regular white flour, this made the frying part very difficult.

Balsamic Reduction (eHow)
  1. Pour the balsamic vinegar into the pan. Use enough so that you allow for it to reduce by half--I like to reduce a whole liter of vinegar and keep it on hand.

  2. Heat the pan to high.

  3. Whisk briskly, even prior to boiling. Once it starts boiling, keep whisking constantly to prevent burning.

  4. The vinegar naturally sweetens when reduced, but if you like a very sweet reduction, sprinkle in a tablespoon of sugar.

  5. Reduce by half, or until the vinegar takes on a syrupy quality. Allow to cool.

Chocolate Truffle Bars (The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook)

2 cups graham crackers, broken up
1/2 cup butter
1 Tbs brown sugar
3 Tbs cocoa powder
2 Tbs corn syrup
1 cup raisins (optional)
8 oz chocolate

Crush the graham crackers finely with a rolling pin and place in a mixing bowl. Put the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and syrup into a pan and melt over a low heat, stirring all the time. Add to the crumbs with the raisins. Mix very thoroughly. Press the mixture into an 8 inch square pan. Break the chocolate bar into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water until melted. Cover the cake with the melted chocolate. Refrigerate until cook, cut in squares and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy ~SJ

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cooking Challenge 2

First off, sorry that there are no pictures of this weeks food. MacPro and I were both hungry and I remembered about the pictures after we ate, I can only take this as a sign that the food was good.

The menu this week consisted to two recipes from the Moosewood Cookbook, Vegetable Stroganoff and Fruited Yogurt Dessert.

Fruited Yogurt Dessert
3 cups plain yogurt
1 cup fresh strawberries cleaned and cut
1/2 a cup of maple syrup (I used less, around 1/4 cup)
1 mashed, ripe banana
Dash of cinnamon

Combine the above ingredients and serve chilled. I served mine on top of pudding, it was a hit! I am thinking that I am going to keep this fruited mix of yogurt on hand for those times when plain yogurt just needs to be spiced up.

Vegetable Straganoff
I. The Sauce
3 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
3 Tbs. dry red wine
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 pound chopped mushrooms
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp dill weed
dash of tamari sauce
black pepper

Saute onions and mushrooms in butter until onions are soft. Combine all ingredients in the top of a double boiler and heat gently for about 30 minutes.

II. While the sauce simmers, steam 6 cups chopped fresh vegetables of your choice.
Suggestions: Cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, celery, cabbage, peppers, cherry tomatoes.

III. Cook 4 cups raw egg noodles in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and butter.

Assemble the straganoff on a platter and garnish with fresh minced scallions.

Enjoy ~SJ

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cooking Challenge 1

It was a success! The first Cooking Challenge menu offered Spinach Rice Casserole and Fruit Chocolate Sundae for desert.

Spinach Rice Casserole (Moosewood Cookbook)

4 cups of cooked brown rice (2 cups raw, cooked in 3 cups water) - Start this before the rest of the dish

2 lbs raw, chopped spinach
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
3 Tbs. butter
4 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 Tbs. tamari
1/2 tsp. salt
a few dashes of nutmeg and cayenne
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Use a large stock pot to saute in since all ingredients will eventually be mixed together.

Saute onions and garlic with salt in butter. When onions are soft, add spinach. Cook 2 minutes.

Combine with all ingredients except sunflower seeds and paprika. Spread into buttered casserole and sprinkle the top with sunflower seeds and paprika.

Cover and back for 35 minutes in a 350 oven.

Fruit Chocolate Sundae (The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook)

Chocolate Dessert
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsps honey
1/4 tsp instant coffee
1 tbsp coco powder

Blend all of the chocolate dessert ingredients together in a saucepan and cook until thick, stirring continuously. Once think leave to cool.

Vanilla Custard
1 tbsp cornmeal
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp honey

Mix the cornmeal with a little of the milk to make a smooth paste and add the honey and vanilla. Heat the remaining milk until nearly boiling and pour over the cornmeal mixture, stirring until smooth. Return to the pan and re-heat gently until think, stirring constantly. Leave to cool.

Fruit Filling
1 large banana, chopped
2 cups of cut strawberries

Add half of the chocolate dessert to the chopped banana and mix tegether carefully.

Fill sundae gasses with layers of chocolate dessert, banana mixture, strawberries, vanilla custard and finally the plain chocolate dessert.

Garnish and chill before serving.

We concluded that spinach rice casserole if very yummy but would be extra great with diced tomatoes and a little Parmesan cheese on top too. Next time! The chocolate fruit dessert was amazing and makes 4 sundaes, but it is so yummy you will want to make a double batch! Now off to plan and shop for next weeks challenge.

Enjoy ~SJ

Friday, January 8, 2010

Welcome Back/Cooking Challenge 101

According to it has been a mere 78 days or 2 months and 17 days since my last blog post. Just one year ago I was blogging my fingers to the bone trying to reach my 365 blog posts in 365 days. I would like to say that in my 78 day hiatious that I have traveled around the world, or accomplished major goals, or had any exciting news to report. Unfortunately it was SJ just getting lazy and not being creative to come up with new blog topics.

With the New Year comes New Year's resolutions. This years list is simple: 1) Blog more often and 2) Reduce my overall meat consumption be first not eating "anything that had feet" (that means seafood is in - crab and lobster don't really have "feet", right?). So far the no meat resolution has been going great!

The blogging on the other hand not so well, until last night. Last might MacPro and I watched Julie and Julia, the story and Julia Child and one inspired 30-year-old who challenged herself to cook all 524 of Julia's recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julie blogged this entire journey gathering fans as any good blog does along the way. This true story, turned book, turned into a wonderful movie that even MacPro found enjoyable!

I was so inspired by the movie that I decided to put my two New Year's resolutions together into one. No I will not be cooking all 524 of Julia Child's recipes, no I will not be trying a new recipe every day. My challenge is that I will try at least one new recipe a week attempting to broaden my cooking skills and nightly cooking variety.

I am all set to start the challenge this weekend. Recipe books have been consulted, two recipes have been selected, and the shopping list has been made. Tomorrow (I think) I'm off to the store to pick up a few necessary ingredients. Until then, what are your own personal challenges for the New Year?

Enjoy ~SJ