Monday, December 31, 2012

Thumbprint cookies, Take 2

The thumbprint cookies went over great. Well, only maybe a dozen were consumed at my staff party but the rest were consumed by yours truly and the husband. Though Mr A could eat them too and I did offer him at most, one a day, he didn't really want them. He'd take a bite, then leave the rest. What??!! He actually asked for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies though.

Should I be proud or offended or flattered?

Anyways, I've been thinking about my mom. She always asks for some baked goods this time of year and I'm happy to oblige. When I was a kid, she made these butter cookies with bits of jam in the middle. She had this cookie press which extruded cookies in shapes of stars, flowers, trees, etc. In some ways, these cream cheese thumbprint cookies remind me of my mom's butter cookies. Her cookies had a hint of almond extract in them, so instead of the standard vanilla, I also chose to go with almond flavoring as well.

Now let's talk toppings... I was considering using the grapefruit marmalade that I got in my September FFP box, but was worried about the liquor component... I think my mom is actually allergic, whereas I simply lack the proper enzyme reaction for alcohol breakdown. My mom breaks out into a rash when she's consumed alcohol. This includes stuff like NyQuil. Luckily, we had some orange marmalade in the fridge, so I went with that.

I also bought these caramel Hershey's Kisses. I love the peanut butter blossom cookies but with Mr A's peanut allergies, I dare not make those, but I thought I could still use kisses with this thumbprint dough. And it worked very nicely! I suspected it would not be a good idea to put the kisses on for the entire back time. Fortunately, I just did one, which melted messily like an erupted volcano. I put the rest of the chocolates on after taking the cookies out of the oven but even then, that was too hot. Some of them melted down too much from the carry over heat. They just didn't look right, but all I did was swirled the chocolate a bit and back to pretty and can't wait to eat you status!

Recipe for thumbprint cookies

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Egg Free Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

There's no school today, due to "police activity" at the neighboring high school.  Pretty crazy.  But I'm taking the day as a mental health day for me and I'm going to spend time with my family.  I caught up with some laundry, met the hubby at work for lunch, and am just enjoying my kids.  And did I mention baking cookies?

I've been eying thumbprint cookies for a while now.  I have a holiday party tomorrow and I wanna bring cookies, so this is what I'm bringing!  These cookies just look so cute and well, they're just plain delicious too. I've Googled lots of recipes and I was pretty sure I wanted an egg free recipe for Mr A and you can't go wrong with cream cheese.  Saucy Spirit's version hit the mark.  No egg, no nuts, easy peasy.
Now a few other tips that made this possibly the fastest cookie making experience ever...  Use a scoop.  I love my little scoop.  I have no idea what the measurement is, but it's exactly a mini muffin and makes perfect little cookies.  Second, instead of using your thumb to make the indentation, use a wine cork.  I just read this recently on one of the food blogs I read.  If I ever figure out which one it is, I will reference back, I promise!  There are a bunch of these corks lying around my house because the husband just leaves them random places.  Finally!  I good use for them.  Just roll dough into little balls, then press the cork end in, make a corner turn, and remove.  Perfecto!

Now let's talk jam.  You can use any jam you'd like.  I happened to have a lovely jar of homemade strawberry jam that my mom made.  We're not big jam eaters here...  Well, let me rephrase, I think Mr A would eat a whole lot more jam if we let him.  But we don't have jam all that often.  This homemade jam has been in my fridge since summer, I think, unopened, so still totally good.  What better use than cookies?!

Last few comment about the cookies.  The dough can be a little crumbly, so when you make the indentation, will dough occasionally separates slightly.  Make sure to reconnect the dough so that the well for the jam doesn't flow out.  Baking on a silicon mat or on parchment paper is great for clean up, especially if some of the jam overflows.

Egg Free Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

adapted from Saucy Spirits

1/2 c butter
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c cream cheese
1/4 t almond or vanilla extract (optional)
2 c flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream together butter, sugar and cream cheese. Add in almond or vanilla extract if desired.
  3. Mix in flour, stir until completely blended together.
  4. Use a little scoop, then roll into 1-1.5 inch balls on a silicone mat or parchment paper. Press your thumb (or use a wine cork) down in the middle of each ball to flatten it and leave a little pocket for the jelly.
  5. Fill each cookie with the jelly of your choice and place in oven for 16-18 minutes, or until cookie is lightly browned.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Crockpot Corned Beef

Over the summer, I had lunch with my husband at a little pub / bar near his work.  They specialize in pastrami.  My husband had a reuben sandwich.  I had a cobb salad with pastrami and we shared "goofy fries".  Oh man!  I think about these fries all the time.  Fresh cut french fries, tossed with garlic, covered in a ooey-gooey fresh cheese sauce (not velveeta or the movie theater kind), and topped with chopped pastrami.  Ahhhh...  My mouth is watering as I remember the yummy goodness.

I think about going back all the time, but alas, have not made it.  But fear not!  I have made attempts at recreating the goofy fries masterpiece.

Part 1: Corned Beef (not quite pastrami, but will do)
This morning, I tossed a corned beef brisket into my crockpot on low with about 3 cups of water.  When I got home, I turned it off and scraped some of the fat off.  When I took it out about an hour later, it shredded as I was cutting it.  Yum.

Part 2: Cheese Sauce - inspired by Pinch of Yum
For the cheese sauce, over medium-low heat, heat 3 T milk and 1 oz cream cheese. Whisk until smooth (add another splash of milk if needed) and add 1/8 t garlic powder, and 1/8 t salt until smooth. When smooth, add 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese. Whisk until smooth, adding more milk to thin out the sauce to your desired consistency.

Part 3: Fries - I like to use Trader Joe's Handsome Cut French Fries.  12-14 minutes in the toaster oven at 425 and you're good to go!

  1. Toss cooked fries with some salt and garlic powder if desired.
  2. Top with cheese sauce.
  3. Add chopped corned beef on top.

Sorry!  No pics at the moment because I could not be bothered to take pictures because these wanna be goofy fries were that good, no great, no fantastic.  :)  Will update later (hopefully).

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Foodie Penpal!

The Lean Green Bean

This month's Foodie Penpal comes from Kim of Peanut Butter and Push Ups.  She is a registered dietician and hails from fabulous New York.  I am always in awe of runners, mostly because I lack the stamina to do so.  Kim is no exception - she has a little widget on her blog that logs miles run.  Can you believe she's logged 500 miles in the year of 2012?!  That's amazing!  She recently participated in NY Runners in Support of Staten Island, where she and other runners ran through Staten Island delivering supplies and helping those in need from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Now that we've established how awesome Kim is.  Let's talk about the fantastic package she sent me.

The first thing I went for... Chocolate covered pretzel crisps with peppermint.  Uh-mazing!  We snuck these in with us when we went to see the latest James Bond film, Skyfall.  Talk about better than any of the snacks at the theater!  Second item, the terra chips.  I'm pretty sure I've had these before, but I'm not sure I ate a whole bag before.  Apparently, there is a first for everything.

Next, I read Kim's note.  How hilarious is it that she has a bacon card for me?!  I am just loving Foodie Penpals.  I love that my package came from New York and I sent a package off to Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico, can you believe it?!

Kim says she's been making flatbread pizza with dried figs, goat cheese, and carmelized onions.  That sounds like a fabulous combination.  She had me at flatbread pizza.  And rounding out the package were a pack of dried tropical fruits, an apple crisp mix, and a tasty bar of chocolate (which I believe went in my husband's tummy because I haven't seen it lately).

I love Foodie Penpals!  It's like getting tasty birthday presents every month.  It's fun shopping for stuff to send and it's so much fun getting a box too.  Foodie Penpals unites foodies from all over the US, plus there's a Canada program too.  Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean is genius.

Note: Foodie Penpals is on hold for the month of December.  Lindsay is changing it up for December as a way to help those effected by Hurricane Sandy.  Check out the details at Foodie Penpals for Charity.

The Lean Green Bean

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chile Verde Chicken Enchiladas

My MIL is a busy bee. She always stocks our fridge with meats and bless her heart, she makes beef enchiladas (one of my husband's favorite meals) when she visits. This time, in addition to the beef enchiladas, she rolled up some chicken enchiladas and stuck them in our freezer. She left us a can of green chile enchilada sauce in the cupboard to pour on top when we were ready to bake them. My only contribution was a quick trip to Trader Joe's for some Jack cheese. Hubby shredded the cheese, popped it in the oven and voila! Dinner was ready in a half hour. I just might like these chicken ones better than the beef ones in red sauce.

Mr A, when served, immediately said, "I don't like that."  We insisted that he try a little and he did, and he ended up eating 1.5 enchiladas.  We were proud.  I think reading Green Eggs and Ham helps - gotta try something before you say you don't like it!

Chile Verde Chicken Enchiladas

2 c chicken, cooked & shredded
2 T olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
12 corn tortillas
1/4 t chili powder
1 28 oz can green chile enchilada sauce
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 c Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c sour cream, optional

  1. Heat olive oil and sauté onions until translucent and slightly browned. Remove from heat.
  2. Soften tortillas either by frying lightly in oil or heating in a cast iron skillet.
  3. Preheat oven to 375.
  4. Place a spoonful of chicken, onions, and cheddar cheese in the center of a tortilla.  Sprinkle a little chili powder, then roll the tortilla, placing the seam side down in a baking pan. Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas.*
  5. Pour green chile enchilada sauce on top of enchiladas and top with Jack cheese.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
  7. Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top.
* Rolled enchiladas can be frozen in a baking pan to eat later. Cooking time will be longer if frozen. Note: We moved the pan of enchiladas from the freezer to the fridge the night before so they had time to defrost in the fridge.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Tart Cherry Pie

My mom hosted Thanksgiving part 2 over the weekend. It was suppose to be a "light dinner" and everyone was suppose to bring something. She asked me to bring ham and mashed potatoes.

But I was thinking something sweet too... I've been eying the 2 cans of tart cherries left in my cupboard from my in-laws' visit last week. My MIL made this fantastic cherry pie with those cherries and I was regretting not eating more last week. Lo and behold! The recipe was on the back of the label. Even better, there was a recipe for homemade pie crust and then one for the cherry filling. I wasn't feeling like I wanted to make pie crust so I picked up some ready made pie crusts from Trader Joe's.

This cherry pie is way too easy. Why I don't make pies more often, I don't know. Using ready made pie crusts makes it so incredibly simple. Now I didn't look at the ingredient label of the pie crust, though if I did, I'd probably see additives and other things I don't like, but let's not focus on that.

Interesting, I googled the recipe for this pie off of the Oregon Cherries site, and it calls for twice as much sugar on the website as on the label. On the back of the label, it says 1/2-3/4 cup of sugar, but the website says 1 1/2 cups of sugar. I used 1/2 cup and it was plenty for me.

Tart Cherry Pie

1/2 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cans Oregon Red Tart Pie Cherries, drained, reserve juice from one can
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tablespoon butter
Pastry for two-crust 9-inch pie

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Drain the cherries and reserve the juice from only one can. In a saucepan, stir the cherry juice into the combined mixture of the cornstarch and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Gently stir in cherries and almond extract. Remove from heat.
  3. Pour filling into pastry lined pie pan. Dot with butter.
  4. Place the second pie crust on top. Adjust crust, seal and vent. Alternatively, create lattice for top.
  5. Bake 45 minutes or until crust browns and filling begins to bubble. If necessary, cover edges with aluminum foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning.
  6. Cool pie several hours to allow filling to thicken before slicing.
Makes 8 servings.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Soup

Thanksgiving is over. What do you do with leftovers? Aside from just eating more turkey and stuffing (which I totally did), turkey sandwiches, frittatas, fried rice, and soup are my favorite.

Remember my Cheater's Chicken Soup? Here's a turkey version.  Same basic idea.  Saute your mirepoix.  Add in turkey broth from your turkey.  If you made gravy out of the turkey juices, you could add that too.  A can of chicken or vegetable broth would work too.  Add in some of your leftover turkey and simmer.  I wanted some green in my soup.  I had some of my go to frozen broccoli, so I added that.  I used my leftover rice yesterday for fried rice, so I cooked up some pasta to go with this soup.

A complete and healthy meal in less than 20 minutes!

2 T olive oil
3 ribs celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 c broccoli florets, chopped
1 c turkey (cooked), diced
1/4 t garlic, crushed
2 c turkey broth
2 c water
1/4 t poultry seasoning
1/4 t sugar
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Heat a large soup pot. Add olive oil and coat bottom of the pan. Add celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add turkey, broth, water, poultry seasoning, and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 7-8 min, add broccoli, and simmer additional 5-7 min until veggies are tender.
  4. Adjust seasonings if desired.
  5. Serve with rice or pasta.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Early T-Day Lunch

My in-laws are were in town. It's never worked out that they're here during Thanksgiving. But this year, they were here the weekend before so why not have turkey dinner one week early? Uh, hello... Genius!

Usually, Thanksgiving and other big holidays are spent with my Mom's side of the family, though sometimes we'll have my Dad's side too. It's typically at least 15 people, if not 20+. And we're growing too, now that my generation has significant others and babies too.

It was a little odd that we all fit around the table and it was just 6 adults and Mr A, since the baby was sleeping. But the food was still fantastic and it was still all about family. We had turkey, ham, zucchini, butternut squash, and dressing. Ahhh... So yummy! And did I mention we ate at 1pm? Again, genius. Because it was lunch time, I don't think I over ate. I took a nice post turkey nap afterwards and then it was time for dinner (leftovers of course).

Other genius moments of the day:
  • Turkey cooked in an oven bag, resulting in a super moist turkey.  I'm definitely gonna do this next time.
  • A homemade tart cherry pie - OMG, to die for! Canned cherry pie filling has always had a metallic taste to me, but not this bad boy!
  • Butternut squash - I've never cooked this in my life, but we had them oven roasted with a little salt and butter. Yum.
  • Dressing - What is the difference between dressing and stuffing? My MIL makes fantastic dressing with homemade cornbread, onions, celery, cream of mushroom, and sage.  Usually, she puts an egg in there too, but this time, she left it out because of Mr A's egg allergy.  I believe the egg is a binding agent but it was fine without.  In fact, I think I liked it better without because it was less mushy.  Well, the dressing is all gone now, mostly in my tummy.
Because we had turkey and ham this past weekend, we decided to forgo another turkey dinner today.  It was kind of nice, just being home, just another day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

A few years ago, I picked up Paula Deen's autobiography from the library. It was an easy and interesting read. 3 things particularly stick in my head after reading it. 1) Paula has agoraphobia. 2) There was a time when she lived in a roach infested place. 3) She made this beef stroganoff recipe for one of her first big catering shindigs and hates it now.

Don't get me wrong. This Paula Deen recipe is a fantastic. It's so easy and the ingredients, so simple. I think it's because she made so much that day that now she can't stand it. Too much of a good thing.

But I'm not sick of this baby yet. I could eat it for days. And I have. Like 3 meals a day until it was gone. This is good stuff and it makes a lot. Today, I halved the recipe, but added extra mushrooms, and left out the sour cream because I didn't have any. I also used whole wheat rotini because Mr A is allergic to egg and whole wheat pasta is just a little healthier.

Beef Stroganoff

Adapted from Paula Deen 

2 T olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3/4 lb chuck steak, cut into thin strips
1/4 t salt
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t black pepper
1/8 t garlic, crushed
2 T Worchestire Sauce
1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 (10 3/4 oz) can beef broth
1/2 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 lb whole wheat pasta

1/2 c sour cream
1 c frozen peas

  1. Cook pasta, drain.
  2. Heat a large skillet.  Add olive oil and onion.  Saute until slightly brown and translucent.
  3. Add steak strips.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook until brown.
  4. Add beef broth, crushed garlic, and Worchestire sauce.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add cream of mushroom and stir until well combined.  Add mushrooms.  Cook about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms have softened.
  6. Add sour cream if desired, pasta, and green peas.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup

Kale, never eaten it, until yesterday. I understand it's quite the "it" food right now. I've seen kale chips at Trader Joe's and have read about its health benefits. Then, I saw this awesome recipe at Serena Cooks From Scratch for an Olive Garden knock off Sausage, Potato, & Kale soup. Now, I can't tell you the last time I went to the Olice Garden, so I have no idea what soup she's referring to, but bacon meets potatoes and Parmesan cheese sounded delicious.

Over the weekend, I bought a bag of frozen kale, chicken broth, and some sweet Italian sausage. Apparently, I didn't read the ingredients on Serena's recipe very well because I didn't buy cream or Parmesan cheese. I had dried oregano but no rosemary (though I suppose I could have snipped some of this bush that's right on the corner). I had some Yukon gold potatoes in the fridge so I used those instead of russets. There are some people who follow recipes to the T. (Where exactly does that saying come from?). I pretty much never follow recipes. I think recipes are just a starting point and you put your own personal touch to it.

So I give you my version of Sausage, Potato, and Kale soup. By the way, I tossed in my entire 1 lb bag of frozen kale. As hearty as it made my soup, it seemed to suck up all the broth, so in my recipe below, I'm cutting it down to 1/2 lb frozen kale.

update: While I've been enjoying my soup, I've been thinking some cannellini beans might be nice in there too.

Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

adapted from Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
3/4 pounds sweet Italian sausage
1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 slices bacon, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 t garlic, crushed
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t oregano, dried
3 Yukon gold potatoes, medium sized, sliced 1/4" thick
1/2 t salt
1/8 t ground black pepper
1 qt chicken broth
1/2 lb frozen Kale (large stems removed and chopped)

1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Milk
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated

  1. In a large soup pot, brown sausage. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until cooked down. Remove from pot and set aside.
  2. Add diced bacon to pot, adding a few tablespoons of chicken broth or liquid from the sausage and mushrooms to help render the fat. When bacon is starting to crisp, add diced onion.
  3. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent. Return sausage, mushrooms, and their juices to pot and add sliced potatoes. Add crushed garlic, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.
  5. Add frozen kale and return to a boil. Simmer additional 2 minutes. Adjust seasonings as desired.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Crockpot Applesauce

I was inspired by my Foodie Penpals' box from Amy, of A Couple in the Kitchen. The cinnamon sticks she sent smelled divine and were begging to be paired with apples. I wanted something easy, not too sweet, and in the healthier side. Hello, crockpot applesauce!

I googled several different recipes (like this, this, and this). Since I intended to make this for my first graders, I wanted a recipe low in sugar and no cinnamon. In the end I threw Fuji, Gala, golden delicious, Granny Smith, and Cameo apples in the crockpot and cooked them in apple juice. I had a lonely half of a lime squeezed, to put apple pieces in to prevent browning. But then wouldn't you know it - I knocked it over in the sink and it was gone.

That's when I remembered my mom using salt water to prevent oxidation. Moms are the best, especially when she's right!

Crockpot Applesauce

12-16 apples (use several varieties of apples), peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
3/4 c apple juice

  1. Pour apple juice into the crockpot. Place peeled and cored apple chunks into crockpot.
  2. Cook on high for - at least 3.5 hours, or until apples are soft.
  3. Drain and reserve extra liquid.
  4. Mash with apples with potato masher, or blend for smoother texture.  Add reserved liquid to desired consistency.

Update: The applesauce seemed to get sweeter overnight. I think next time I'll try plain water instead of apple juice.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Foodie Penpals!

The Lean Green Bean

It's time for Foodie Penpals! This month's package comes from Amy, 1/2 of the pair that writes A Couple in the Kitchen.  How yummy are their pictures!  Check out these Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and this EZ Orzo salad.  Yum.  She and her husband hail from New England, where Amy says Fall is in full bloom.

Take a look at this package embracing Autumn! Cupcakes with Halloween sprinkles, delicious cinnamon sticks, a mini pumpkin, a cinnamon decaf tea, and pretty leaves in red, orange, yellow.

This was the exact inspiration I needed to get myself in gear to plan my school Halloween party. I've decided to make cupcakes (maybe in ice cream cones) and let the kids decorate with the sprinkles. Then I'll bring my crockpot in and make applesauce with cinnamon!

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I know kids love it and I shouldn't be the spoil sport that ruins it with my grouchy ways. So I'm thankful that Amy's package showed up and gave me inspiration to get into the Fall spirit.

Oh and the pumpkin? It so happens that we went to the pumpkin patch a couple weeks ago and for whatever reason, we got 3. Why we didn't get 4 - one for each person, I don't know. Anyway, the pumpkin from Amy is the perfect addition to our family of pumpkins.  A baby pumpkin for Baby J.  Check out our cute family of 4 pumpkins.  I <3 it!

Foodie Penpals is so much fun! wanna try? Here's how to sign up to be a Foodie Penpal!
If you’re interested in participating for November, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. You must submit your information by October 4th as pairings will be emailed on November 5th!

The Lean Green Bean

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cheater's Homemade Chicken Soup

It's Fall, but I have a hard time believing it. If it's sunny and in the 80s, it's too hard to think that it's anything but summer. But with less daylight and Halloween just around the corner, I know it is Fall!

Fall and winter are comfort food seasons to me. Possibly the #1 comfort food is chicken soup. Now, there will always be a special place in my heart for the condensed soup in the red labeled can, but since reading their labels and realizing they put MSG in their soups, it makes me think twice about serving them to my family.  It's odd that Swanson is also part of the Campbell's soup family, but contains no MSG.

Enter in my cheater's homemade chicken soup. Think, like a Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meal version of the real thing. Boneless chicken chunks browned, toss in some veggies, and a can of chicken broth. Serve with rice or pasta and you have a full, hearty meal. For days!

I might just go have some more right now.

1 lb boneless chicken
2 T olive oil
3 ribs celery
3 carrots
1 1b mushrooms
1/4 t garlic, chopped
1 14 oz can low sodium chicken broth
2 c water
1/4 t poultry seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Cut chicken, celery, carrots, and mushrooms into bite sized chunks.
  2. Heat a large soup pot.  Add olive oil and coat bottom of the pan.  Add chicken and brown.
  3. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth, water, poultry seasoning, and salt & pepper to taste.  Scrape bottom of pot.  Bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer for 12-15 min, or until veggies are tender.
  6. Adjust seasonings if desired.
  7. Serve with rice or pasta.

Friday, October 26, 2012


It took going to Michi Sushi for me to try raw fish. I still don't go out of my way to eat nigiri or sashimi, but if it's a sushi roll that has spicy tuna, avocado, maybe some cream cheese, and sliced lemon on top, chances are, I'll try it.  Are sushi terms too confusing? Check out Japan-Guide to demystify.

Now I don't dare make spicy tuna at home, but making maki rolls or inari is totally feasible and easy. Authentic? Not a chance! Yummy? Yes!  You just have to have the right ingredients and one of the main ingredients in inari sushi is the dried tofu pouches.

I had some time to kill before picking Mr A up from school, so I stopped at the nearby Chinese market.  The market near my house doesn't carry inari any more, so when I saw them at this one, I picked up 2 cans.  Inari is also sold in the refrigerated section, but these are the ones that my mom always uses, so that's the one I got too.

The other main ingredient in inari sushi is rice, preferably a shorter grain rice.  I think there is actually a "sushi rice", but I just used the rice that I have, which is a Jasmine rice, a longer grain rice.  The longer grains don't stick together as much as the shorter grains, but all in all, still tasty.  Adding rice wine vinegar to the rice, salt, sugar, sesame seeds, and other flavorings are good too, just depends on what you like.


Rice, cooked
Inari pouches

Rice wine vinegar
Garlic powder
Sesame seeds

  1. Stuff inari pouches with about a tablespoon of warm of room temperature rice.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Easy Flatbread Pizza

Here's an easy go-to recipe. Flatbread, marinara, mozzarella, and whatever toppings you'd like.  I was already browning up some ground beef and had some leftover easy zucchini in the fridge so I used that. Last week when I made this, I browned some Italian sausage and mushroom and used that.  I used my toaster oven to crisp up the flatbread and melt the cheese but you could use your conventional oven.

No flatbread? French bread, hamburger buns, bagels, and English muffins are good alternatives.  I've never tried using Naan or pita bread, but I imagine those would work ok too.  Go crazy!  Or just eat lots of pizza.

Flatbread Pizza

Marinara Sauce
Mozarella Cheese, shredded
Toppings: mushrooms, sausage, zucchini (whatever you like!)

  1. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of marinara sauce on the flatbread.  Sprinkle with desired toppings.
  2. Toast for 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted and flatbread is slightly crispy.
  3. Serve warm.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fall is here and pumpkins are all around. I've been seeing all sorts of pumpkin recipes (here, here, here, and here) lately.  Apparently, they are very healthy and nutritious and can be more than an extra paperweight or glowing face on my balcony.  So, when my co-worker posted this pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe from Cookie Madness, I bookmarked it and said to myself that I would bake them (which usually means that I never will but will spend lots of time wishing that I would).

However, this morning, I picked up a very delicious chocolate chip cookie from Specialty's, and after fending off Mr A from eating it, it disappeared into my husband's tummy.  I almost cried - that's how good that Specialty's cookie is!  So then, it was decided that I would need to bake my own cookies today and I would have Mr A's help in doing so.

Before I decided on using Cookie Madness' recipe, I scoped out many other recipes.  I came back to Cookie Madness because it uses just 1 egg and suggested using whole wheat flour.  In the end, these cookies have an odd orange-y color, have a slight pumpkin taste, and just taste a bit funky.  I'm not sure I will make them again, but Mr A likes them - but that's probably because he's had like 3 cookies in his life.  Yeah, these are good, but that's just the chocolate chips that make it good.

** OK, update.  I stuck my cookies in the fridge - I actually meant to freeze a bag, but whatever.  Now I've decided that I like these cookies after all.  In fact, I genuinely like them chilled and straight out of the refrigerator.  They're just like pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins.  Yay!  Not a waste of time or chocolate chips after all.  hehe

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 scant cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour (9 oz)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Beat pumpkin, egg, sugar, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Make sure all the leavenings are dissolved (no lumps). Add the flour and stir just until it is mixed in, then stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Using a very generously rounded tablespoon measure, drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets spacing about 2 inches apart (cookies shouldn’t spread much). Bake at 375º for 13 to 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from tray and let cool.