Sunday, April 21, 2013

Supreb Sunday

My mom and sister are here, which is awesome.  We're having a great time!  Full report soon.  But now, time for some superbness. 


Superb Sweet Tooth

If you've never cooked with brown butter, might I recommend dropping everything (well after you finish reading this post, of course), and doing so now.  It just adds this magical other layer of flavor into the food.  These brown butter cookie cups look awesome.  And theoretically they provide some kind of portion control, being small and all.

























Superb Style

I'm not sure if this dress would look good on, sometimes horizontal stripes make people look wide.  But it's SO cute.  I love the top, the drapey-ness of it is universally flattering.  And grey/yellow is my current second favorite color combo (pink and green will always win, obviously).


























Superb Trying New Things

I have actually never tried tempeh, for some reason it seems intimidating to me.  However, this makes it look delicious and easy.  I will be picking some up on my next grocery trip.



















Superb Silly

I love Harry Potter and have since the beginning.  I also oddly love that song Thrift Shop.  If you don't know the song and haven't read/seen Harry Potter, you probably aren't going to get this.  But if you do, it's pretty funny (warning, the language in this song is atrocious).



























Superb Start

Breakfast is actually my favorite meal of the day, especially if it includes eggs.  I have made this sandwich many times, it's super easy, fairly healthy, and perhaps most importantly, reminds me of the ones in the Fens, one of the eating places at my college.  Add some bacon or other things to fancy it up, or just keep it simple with eggs and cheese.



















Superb Quotable

It looks like I'm all over the Harry Potter this week.  But this is really good advice. 



























Superb Sips

I love grapefruit juice, and this cocktail looks so refreshing for summer.  Hurry up Mr. Sun, I'm ready to sit in the yard with a few of these!




























Superb Cutie

Milton doesn't do this.  Instead he just sits and refuses to go inside the door.  Silly pups.











Thursday, April 18, 2013

Polenta with Red Pepper Sauce

While I was at Trader Joe's the other day, preparing for my awesome week of grilling cheese, I picked up a bar of polenta.  I've made polenta here before, for the black bean polenta bowls, but that was soft polenta.  If you spread it out and let it cool, you end up with something that can be cut into shapes, grilled/fried, and eaten in an entirely different way.  Polenta isn't terribly hard to make, but obviously it's more work that grabbing a log of it out of the fridge and slicing. 

Polenta with Red Pepper Sauce



















This is one of those recipes that really has no rhyme or reason, beyond what's in the fridge.  Polenta is like many other grains, it invites all sorts of awesome sauces and toppings because on its own, it's a little blah.

3-5 Pieces of Polenta (The general idea is to cut them into the same thickness so they cook evenly.  I usually fail at this)
Caramelized Onions (I had some already made from Sunday, but you could also chop up whatever veg you like and put it in the pan as well)
Red Pepper, Eggplant, Garlic Spread (I love you Trader Joe's)
Goat Cheese




















Slice off a few pieces of polenta and put them into a pan with a little olive oil and the veg.  Because the onions I used had already been cooked in oil, I actually could have done without, as the onions gave off some oil. 



















Cook uncovered on medium for 8-10 minutes, until the onions and polenta are heated and have begun to crisp.


















Flip and top with sauce.  Cover and continue to cook for 5-8 minutes, until the sauce is warmed. 





















Top with goat cheese crumbles and enjoy!  I also had a salad, but it was really boring (just greens and dressing) and I ate it while the other food was cooking because I was super hungry. 



















There are many variations on how you can make this, but honestly, I think this one is the BEST. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Grilled Cheese-A-Palooza

Grilled cheese sandwiches are the perfect combo of my two favorite food groups, cheese and bread.  You can make them almost anywhere (I've never tried ironing it in a hotel room, but I might.  The iron may as well get some use...), add in new, fun ingredients, or just keep it simple with some tomato soup.  Even picky kids will eat a grilled cheese, because they're the best.  Although I do love adding in some other layers of flavor, the Velveeta slices on white bread is amazing.  So when my cousin posted this link on my Facebook  I was IN.  Winning would be cool, but really, I just like the excuse to make some awesome sammiches.

Obviously, my first stop was Trader Joe's, where I loaded up on supplies.  For this sandwich, I used:

Sourdough Bread
Pesto
Roasted Pepper and Eggplant Spread
Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar
Tofu



































First step, put a thin, even layer of the pepper spread onto two slices of bread.


















Slice up some cheese.  Don't be shy!  My only complaint with this sandwich overall was that I didn't use enough cheese.  The other flavors were awesome, but the highlight of a grilled cheese should be the cheese.



















Top the bread with the cheese; make sure that the cheese adequately covers the bread.  You want all the melty goodness to permeate.



















Next, coat the tofu in some delicious pesto.  I happen to love pesto, and tofu is a great vehicle for it because it naturally doesn't have a lot of flavor.  Put it in the sandwich.



















Put the slices together, then pop it in the panini press.  If you don't have one, no big, just use a pan and something to weigh down the top.  You definitely want to press the sandwich, not just heat it.




















Enjoy!  As I mentioned, this was great, but the other flavors kind of overpowered the cheese.  Next time, I'd cut down on the spread amounts and slice the tofu thinner.  It was a great sandwich, but I don't think it's going to be my competition entry.  Stay tuned for more ideas!!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

DIY Delight

I was going to post this yesterday, but then my beautiful, beloved city was harmed and it seemed unimportant.  I am thankful that myself and my loved ones are safe.  Boston is tough and resilient, we will get through this.  Light always overcomes darkness. 

I know that it's Monday, which should mean a meal plan, but I don't really have one.  Sorry :(  I am entering a grilled cheese contest, so I have all manner of grilled cheese making supplies in my fridge right now.  I'm just going to make meals out of that stuff.  Also, my mom and sister are coming on Friday/Saturday (YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and we will probably be going out to eat a fair amount; because of that I don't want to spend a lot of money on food that I won't eat and may just rot.  Ick.

In other news, I had a very productive weekend.  I organized some drawers, figured out why some of my dresser drawers stick (hint: because it's IKEA furniture and it wasn't put together quite right to begin with), fixed them, grilled cheesed, switched over to my sweet new domain, and recovered the dining room chairs. 

So I'm not what you'd really call handy.  I can do basic things, like plunge the toilet, but other than that, I have to Google it or call the neighbors.  Often, I do both; Google first and then get frustrated that I don't know what I'm doing and then call.  And I definitely don't do any clothing/fabric related fixing; I barley know how to iron (I own one though, I think that's a positive) and if a button falls off I either have to just leave it, wait until my mom comes next, or take it to the cleaners.  It's tragic.  However, recovering chairs is really easy.  Young House Love has a tutorial on it, which I vaguely followed.  The basic steps are as follows:

Take the cushions off
Cut the fabric to size
Staple it to the chair
Put the cushion back

Flip the chairs over and find where the cushions are screwed into the frame.  If your chairs are old like mine, expect to have to put a little bit of arm strength into this, the screws may have gotten stuck over time.  This is actually one of the most difficult parts of the project.




















After removing the cushion, measure the amount of fabric you'll need to recover, keeping in mind that you have to fold over, so make sure to leave a couple of inches around the sides for this.  Since you will be stapling it to the bottom, don't worry about perfect straight lines.  I got four cushions out of a yard of fabric.  Apparently, I also got photo-bombed by Milt.




















Because I wanted this to look fairly nice, I took the extra step of ironing the fabric before stapling.  It had been folded up in a closet for months, so the creases were pretty well set in there and I didn't want to transfer them to the chairs.  This is about the only thing I can iron, because it's flat.



















Transfer to a completely flat surface; since the cushions I have aren't that big, I used the table.  I didn't take off the old fabric for several reasons, one, it had about million staples in it per chair and I'm kind of lazy.  Also, I can't really see the old through the new, and the old wasn't terribly thick.  I think that if the existing coverage is a really heavy or dark fabric you should take a few minutes to remove it so that it's nicer.  Trim down the fabric a little more if necessary, I found it easier to get nice tight corners with less fabric.



















Now, you just have to fold over the sides, tuck, and staple.  Basically, just wrap it up like a present.  I thought it was helpful to staple one side and then flip it to make sure I'd pulled it tight enough.  If you've never used a staple gun, it's AWESOME.  However, please be careful, they don't have the number of safety features (read: no safety features whatsoever) on them that other power tools have.  Stapling your finger hurts a lot. 



















Last, and this is the hardest part, put the cushions back onto the chairs.  I found the easiest way to do this was to lay under the chair to attach the first screw, that way I didn't have to try to hold the cushion onto the chair while putting it back together.  If you have a friend with you though, it would probably be easier to just flip the chair from the start, then someone can hold the cushion.  Put a towel or sheet down before starting this; you have to apply a bit of pressure to re-attach and unless your floors are immaculate the nice new fabric will get dirty.  I totally wish I had thought of this on chair number one.




















And now you're done!!  See, that wasn't that bad, right?  You've got this.  I love my new chairs and it's a pretty cheap, easy way to update the look of a room. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Superb Sunday

Very exciting news.  We're now all fancy and you can find us at www.cookingwithmilton.com.  I'm very excited about this, it makes me feel all grown up and professional.  So that's what I've been doing this weekend.  I also recovered my dining room chairs and am having a grilled cheese fest this afternoon in preparation for a contest I'm entering.

Superb Advice

I really feel that you cannot go wrong with this.  Milton is a great hugger and loves everyone, so if you don't have a dog of your own, you are welcome to borrow him.

























Superb Sweet Tooth

I love citrus based desserts, and these mini lemon meringue pies are just as cute as they can be.  Making lemon meringue anything is kind of a production, because there are a lot of steps, but if you break it up or do it on a lazy weekend, it's definitely manageable.




















Superb WTF

I'm actually a fan of tattoos, I have one, and even after 6 years, I like it.  However, this is a little much.

























Superb Salad

If you've never had mole sauce, try it.  It's a Mexican treat that is an amazing combo of sweet and spicy.  Also, it has chocolate in it.  Anytime you can work chocolate into a salad is a good time.


















Superb Hilarity

So this guy, Mr. Cody, leads inner city kids on hikes.  This a compilation of things they say.  Take a few minutes to read the whole thing, it's absolutely hilarious.  This one is my favorite.

"You should bring girls out here to nature Mr. Cody.  Sing Kumbaya or some shit and just watch the pants drop" (sorry, I couldn't get a picture...)

Superb Carb-a-holic

My love of all things carbs is no big secret.  I love to add vegetables to them because it makes me feel really healthy.  Spicy roasted vegetables are even better.

























More Superb Advice

Great tip.

























Superb Recipe Compilation

Eggs are the best.  I love them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks.  Whatever.  I want to try all of this.


Friday, April 12, 2013

testing testing 1 2 3

We're now at www.cookingwithmilton.com

It's really grown up.  And I hope it works.

Snack Attack

I am a horrible snacker.  I wouldn't say that I eat too many snacks, but the ones that I do are huge.  Honestly, they're more like mini-meals.  I'm pretty sure a sandwich is a meal, not a snack.  Unless you're me, in which case, let's just add some chips and make a day of it.  But I do think that snacks are really important; I know that if I get too hungry I become unpleasant and I eat a ton of crap at the first available moment.  Not cool.  So, without further ado, here are some delicious snacks to keep you going between meals.  As a bonus, they're pretty healthy (aka stuff I used to eat when I did Weight Watchers) and easily packable for work. 

1) Avocado and Cottage Cheese:  I know that this might be controversial, apparently people have extremely strong feelings about cottage cheese.  But I'm firmly on team "this ish is delish".  This snack is a little more substantial, so I'm not crazy hungry again in like 2 seconds, and it's healthy.  I prefer the low fat cottage cheese, the fat free is weird and gross to me.  Sprinkle a little salt onto the avocado, it makes it a lot better.  As an FYI, mine never look like this.  I mostly just alternate bites of the avocado with scoops of cottage cheese out of the container.  Cuts down on dishes.





















(image source: fitsugar)


2)  Apples/Bananas/Celery and Nut/Seed Butter.  I actually don't have this as much as I used to; it's not as easy to transport, so I tend to eat it when I'm at home during the day.  However it's delicious, filling, and super cheap.  All this coming from a kid who wouldn't eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (sorry mom!).  Definitely feel free to add a few other things to it, like chocolate chips (YUM) or raisins (ick). 




















(photo source: the healthy apron)


3)  Cheese and Crackers.  I don't think this really requires a lot of explanation, but just keep it to 6-8 crackers and 3-4 pieces of cheese.  Much more than that you start moving to meal territory calorie wise.

In other news, I am entering a grilled cheese contest, so I need to start taste testing.  Please let me know if you have any winning combinations for this or if you'd like to come over and help me eat/make/test some delicious sandwiches. 

Have a delightful weekend!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas

So I had this whole thing written yesterday, and then when I got home I was going to add the pictures, since I forgot them, and post.  But in the process of adding the pictures, the whole thing deleted.  So I had to start again.  I'm a little sad because I think the first one was funnier.  Oh well.

I know, it seems to be an exaggeration, but I really do think that this is the best dish I've ever made.  If it isn't, it is definitely in the top five.  These enchiladas were AMAZING.  I invited the neighbors over and these babies were gone before they knew what hit them.

If you're not on the roasted veg bandwagon, might I suggest jumping aboard?  It's not very hard, all you have to do is toss them with salt, pepper, seasonings, and olive oil and pop them into the oven.  They get all crispy and browned and are just so so so good.  Try it now.  If you're only cooking for yourself or don't want to heat up the oven, you can totally do these in the toaster oven.  Amazing.

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas - From Perry's Plate



















1 Poblano Pepper (These are in most grocery stores, by the bell peppers.  They're mildly flavored, although sometimes you can get a super spicy one.  It's random.)
2 Bell Peppers
1 Onion
1 Sweet Potato
1/2 Head Cauliflower
1 Cup of Corn Kernels (I used frozen because I am WAAAAAAAAY too impatient to try to cut the kernels from the cob.  Also, I had them already, so there.)
3 Tablespoons Oil (I used olive because that's what I always have, but feel free to use what you like.  You're roasting the veg at a high heat though, so make sure it's one that has a higher smoke point.)
1 1/2 Teaspoons Cumin
2 Cloves of Garlic (I completely forgot this, BTW.)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 Cup Cilantro
2 Cups Salsa (I used a jar of stuff I had in the pantry, but if you make your own I bet it would be better.)
2 Ounces Baby Spinach (A couple of big handfuls.)
8-10 Tortillas (Traditionally, enchiladas are made with corn tortillas, but my grocery store was either out or hiding them, so I used the small flour ones.)
2 Cups Shredded Cheese (I used "sharp cheddar" which was not sharp at all.  Still delicious though.)
Sour Cream/Greek Yogurt/Guac/Etc as toppings


Pre-heat the over to 425.  Chop the vegetables into bit sized pieces.  I did matchsticks for the peppers, chunks for the potato, florets for the cauliflower, and slices for the onion, but if the spirit moves you to make other shapes, please follow it. 




























Put all of them on a cookie sheet.  I didn't have one big enough for everything, so I split it.  Sprinkle the cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic over it.  Toss together with the oil and spread into an even layer on the sheet.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and have little brown spots.  Shake the pans every 10-15 minutes so that they cook evenly.  My corn got extra crispy, and while it was fine, I think that next time I'd add the corn halfway so it doesn't get as burned.





















Lower heat to 350.

Chop up the cilantro and add to the salsa.  If you're one of the people for whom cilantro tastes like soap, feel free to skip this step.  I'm not one of them and I freakin LOVE cilantro, so I also chopped the rest of the bunch to put on top.





















Now, basically make this like you'd make a lasagna.  Put a little sauce on the bottom, cover with tortillas, add roasted veggies, spinach, cheese, and salsa (in that order) and repeat.  The idea is that you're going to top it with the cheese, but I somehow always run out beforehand.  It still turns out fine though, don't worry.
































Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until everything is heated through.

Invite your neighbors over for a Mexican feast, serve this with refried beans and Mexican rice.  Scarf is all down in about 2.4 seconds.



























What's the best thing you've ever made?  
These enchiladas are up there, but I've also done spaghetti and meatballs that were pretty amazing.  Also, in a moment of insanity, I made bacon turtles completely from scratch (well I bought the bacon).  That was pretty sweet.