Sunday, February 28, 2010

Salmon Maki (Sushi Roll)

I LOVE sushi, of almost all kinds. So I saw a good price for salmon at the grocery store and bought a piece, both for last night's dinner and today's experiment with sushi making. Rolled sushi is called Maki. The baby had an interesting time watching me get my hands all ricey, and got a little taste of fresh avocado as well. This works best if you buy a sushi making kit, which gives you the bamboo rice paddle and rolling mat.


chunk of fresh salmon (you don't need much for one or two rolls)
half a cucumber, sliced lengthwise
half an avocado, sliced lengthwise
2 cups Nishiki rice, washed and prepared
a package of Nori, toasted seaweed
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Prepare the rice by rinsing two cups of it under water until the water runs as clear as you can get, then put in pot with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer on very low for another 12-15 minutes until done. Add rice vinegar, salt and sugar, and mix well. Spread rice out on a baking sheet to cool.

Lay out one sheet of Nori on the rolling mat, gritty side up. Cover with as thin a layer of rice as you can make.

Lay slices of cucumber, avocado, and salmon along the inside of the roll.

Don't use too much or the roll won't close. Then roll, using the bamboo mat, from the fishy side over to the rice side, squeezing tightly.

Slice into chunks with a sharp knife and serve. Super tasty! Don't worry if it falls apart on you a little; you're probably not a sushi chef.

Easy Sweet and Salty Salmon

I'm just cooking for myself now, so portion sizes will be much smaller and some meals might be a little pricier, since I can afford to eat some nicer meals. My husband is out to sea for the next couple months, and the baby got her first taste of sitting in the grass in the sun today. I'm going to give the ingredients for four chunks of salmon, since you'll probably be cooking for more than just yourself. And I'm really sorry, but the baby distracted me and I forgot to take a photo of the result. I will next time, I promise!


3-4 pieces of salmon, about 1/2 inch thick and 4 inches wide
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
toasted sesame seeds
salt and pepper

Rinse off the salmon and pat it dry with a clean paper towel. sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper on each piece. Mix the soy sauce and maple syrup in a bowl, then brush/baste it over the salmon fillets. Broil on high 8-12 minutes. After you put the salmon on the plates, drip a little of the remaining sauce on each piece then top with a few sprinkles of sesame seeds.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Veggie Pancakes

I'm squeezing the cupboards now, really. I have enough actual food for one more meal this week, and I'm trying to hold out til Saturday when we get paid. So you know all those "staples" I told you to keep in the cupboard? Yeah....that's all I had left. My fridge is bare. I actually went digging around on the interwebs to find the idea for this recipe. I made it my own (out of necessity as I lacked several of the ingredients), and the baby had fun watching me shred potatoes from her high chair.


2 large red potatoes, washed and shredded
1 sweet potato, peeled and shredded (you may only want to use half the potato and save the rest for later)
1 large shallot, minced
3 large branches of broccoli crowns (just the little individual treetops, not the whole head), chopped fine
7 baby carrots or 2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
2 eggs, slightly scrambled
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp parsley flakes

Combine vegetables and eggs, mixing well.

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to wet vegetable mixture and stir all together well.

Spray a generous amount of olive oil into a large skillet and heat on medium. Drop fat spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, frying until browned on both sides, about 6-8 minutes per side.

Makes 4-6 servings. I ate three and was stuffed. I impressed myself with how tasty this was, and patted myself on the back for finding something to make with nothing but vegetables and eggs.

It took about 30 minutes to make just because of shredding the you have any idea how hard it is to shred baby carrots without cutting your fingertips?
Note: Don't worry about the outside looking a little crispier, as long as the pancakes are cooked all the way through! You don't want to be eating any undercooked parts because of the raw egg. Believe me, it'll give you really bad gas.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Easy Yummy Bruschetta

The recipes that take the least amount of time are the easiest when you're trying to keep an eye on a baby. This one takes all of 20 minutes from start to delicious finish.


2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic pepper
1/8 tsp dried oregano (or 1/4 tsp. fresh)
1 tsp dried basil, or 2 tsp fresh
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp water

Artisan bread
butter (note that I always mean salted butter, unless I specifically say unsalted)

Put tomatoes and red pepper together in a small pot. Add all other ingredients (up to the bread) and stir, cooking on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes.

At the same time, slice and halve a few pieces of artisan bread and butter both sides. Fry on low-medium heat until golden brown.

Serve spoonfuls of bruscetta over pieces of fried bread. Makes a delicious appetizer, and enough bruscetta for about 4 servings.

Sourdough Artisan Bread

I know it's been a few days since I've made an entry, and that is due to the fact that the only things I've been making for dinner are foods that I've already written recipes for, such as the other night's Corned Beef and Cabbage. Yesterday morning, I wanted to finish off the dough I had in the refrigerator. I forgot to mention that once you make the dough it will last up to 14 days in the fridge, but mine was almost a week old and I didn't want it in there any longer. I made two boules and took one to my aunt and uncle (almost getting lost in the Cascade Mountains on the trip), and I wanted to tell you how to use the bread recipe to make sourdough.

After you have made all the dough from your first batch of Artisan Bread, do not wash the bowl. Simply mix another batch up, using half the amount of yeast as the first time, in the same bowl, scraping the leftover dough off the sides and incorporating in into the new mixture. Follow all the same directions after that, letting it rise for two hours then putting it in the fridge, and make the bread the same as usual.

The older yeast that had been out in the air in the old dough will give the new bread loaves that distinct sourdough taste. VERY delicious!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Easy Beefy Noodles for Two

I took a walk in the sunshine with the baby today and stopped at the market down the road to pick up some cabbage for tomorrow night. While there, I perused the meat section, mostly out of curiosity as this was one of those hole-in-the-wall markets rather than a big chain. I found a package of lean ground beef, just under a pound, for a few bucks and picked it up. Then, with the baby enjoying playtime in her playpen, I whipped this up in about 15 minutes.


About a pound, or a little less, lean ground beef
3/4 to 1 cup milk
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
Half a bag of egg noodles

Brown the ground beef in a large frying pan on medium heat, breaking into smaller pieces as it cooks.

Start cooking the egg noodles in a separate pot as you cook this; it helps if you start the water boiling before you begin to prepare the meat. Drain the meat if you want; I didn't, but I like animal fat. Once the beef is mostly cooked, add all other ingredients and simmer on low until egg noodles are done.

Drain the water out of noodles and fill two bowls, topping with the meat mixture. Serves two, and kinda tastes like Hamburger Helper only without all the processed crap. I recommend also serving a side of greens or something for fiber intake. Quite tasty, and easy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scarborough Faire Pork Roast

My schedule for life is all kinds of messed up, thanks to my husband still working the night shift. So today I decided that since there isn't that much left for dinner foods in the refrigerator, I'd cook him dinner for lunch before he goes to work. This means he was home to watch the baby while I prepared the food, though for some reason he always ends up "watching her" as she decides to take a nap. You'll see why I called it "Scarborough Faire Pork" once you see my ingredient list.

Ingredients for the Meat:

2-3 pound Pork shoulder blade Boston Roast (mine was 2.6 pounds, a little over $3)
1 Tbsp sea salt
a few shakes of seasoned salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp thyme

Mix herbs and salt together in a small bowl. Rinse off the meat and rub the mix generously all over, then put into a large storage bag and set in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Ingredients for Veggie sides:

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
5 red potatoes, de-eyed and cubed
1 lb. bag of baby carrots
1/2 large sweet onion
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
olive oil spray

Heat oven to 325F. Spray olive oil into bottom of roasting pan, then set meat in the center of pan. Arrange vegetables around the meat and mix them up, then spray with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on each piece of sweet potato that you can see exposed. Roast uncovered for 1 hour and 5-15 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads at least 160. This was a little fatty because of the cut of meat, but was totally delicious.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Experimenting with Falafels

I saw this recipe in Parents Magazine and thought it sounded tasty, so I decided to try it yesterday while my husband had his one day off and could help with the baby. She was fussing and wanting to be with me instead of him, but I stayed strong and finished making dinner anyway. Aside from the fiasco of the pita pockets that I'd bought just two days ago being totally covered in mold (forcing my husband to run out and buy more), this did turn out to be pretty tasty. Of course, he found it "missing something", which was probably meat. Why can't men eat a meal that doesn't include meat once in awhile?


1 15-oz can garbanzo beans
1/4 cup shredded carrots (just grate half a big carrot from your fridge, don't go buying a bag of pre-shredded carrots)
3 Tbs Sesame Tahini (either buy a can or make it yourself, which I'll tell you how to do)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt (you might try vanilla, since the plain wasn't very tasty)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tomato
a few lettuce leaves
mini or regular sized whole wheat pita pockets
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil (in sprayer)

To make sesame tahini: grind 2 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds in a chopper/food processor for about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 tsp. sesame or olive oil and 1/4 tsp. salt, then grind together another 20 seconds. Add UP TO 1/4 cup of warm water, bit by bit, grinding after each time you add a little, until the mixture becomes pasty. The recipe I found said to add the whole 1/4 cup and mine became watery, so I'm thinking you should add a little less. Tahini is a sesame seed paste.

Preheat oven to 425F. Rinse and drain garbanzos and mash together with carrots, flour, 1 Tbsp water, 2 Tbsp Tahini, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Use a potato masher and then finish mashing/mixing with a fork. It's fine if it's a little chunky. Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil spray and shape mixture into small patties, about the size of a half dollar. Place on cookie sheet and spray over all with a little more olive oil. Bake 5 minutes, then pull them out and turn each patty over. Bake another 6 minutes.

While falafels are baking, mix yogurt, remaining tahini, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add a little water if the mix seems stiff.

Stuff 2 falafel pieces, tomato slices, and a lettuce leaf in each pita pocket half with a spoonful of the yogurt sauce. Dip sandwiches in extra yogurt sauce served on the side. Serve also with slivers of pepper and cucumber and dip in the sauce.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rum Cake

I was lucky when I decided to make this, as my husband and a few friends were home to watch the baby. The hardest part of this recipe is buying the bundt pan. The rest is quite simple, and makes a very strong rum cake that is even tastier after it's been frosted and chilled a few hours. This is an incredibly rich, bad-for-you cake, but it's so damned delicious that it won't matter. I only make it once or twice a year anyway. I use Captain Morgan Private Stock rum.


1 package yellow cake mix
1 (4-serving size) package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 C oil
1/2 C water
1/2 C rum
4 eggs
1/2 C chopped pecans

1 stick butter
1 C sugar
1/4 C rum
1/4 C water

4 oz. cream cheese
1/3 stick butter
2 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
sprinkle of water

Mix cake mix, pudding, oil, water and rum. Add eggs 1 at a time. Grease tube or bundt pan and line with nuts. Pour batter over nuts. Bake at 325°F. for 35-45 minutes.

About 5 minutes before cake is ready to come out of the oven, prepare the glaze in a small pot. After you pull the cake out, use a chopstick (or something similar) to poke holes all over the cake (don't take it out of the pan yet). Pour the glaze over the cake, filling the holes and all around the cake and let it soak in as the cake cools off for about 20 minutes. Then turn the pan upside down over a platter and let rest/cool for another hours or so til it is cool enough to remove the cake from a pan. You may need to use a butter knife to cut the middle part (around the big hole) out to get the cake to fall out of the pan.
My finished cake (half-eaten):

After cake has cooled, make the frosting. It's best if you let the cream cheese and butter set out on the counter for at least an hour to get soft before you try to mix the frosting together. Combine all ingredients and mix well with a spatula, then spread liberally onto the cake. If you aren't serving the cake within 15 minutes, refrigerate the finished product until ready to eat. You can insert toothpicks into the top frosted part to hold up the cellophane wrap if you don't want to mess up the frosting.

Chicken a la King

I was looking up ways to roast a chicken in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and after realizing that (according to them) there weren't any other methods besides the ones I already used, I came across a recipe for chicken a la king. I've never had it before, and I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but you can't argue with the results. The other night I made my Herb-Rubbed Roast Chicken for dinner and shared it with some friends I hadn't seen in a long while. I was left with a breast and a half, the back meat, and some meat on one of the thighs. I just shoved the whole thing in a storage bag for leftovers and figured I'd deal with it later. So the next day, remembering the chicken a la king recipe, I gave it a shot in my cheater, cheapo fashion. This is what I came up with:


one leftover roasted chicken
14-oz (or so) can of chicken broth
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 stick butter (a little over 2 Tbsp worth)
dash of black pepper

Throw everything into a 7-quart Crock Pot (you may want to roll the chicken over a bit to coat it in the mixture before you turn the crock pot on) and turn on High for 1 1/2 hours, then change to Low setting and cook another 1-3 hours. Use a spoon or something to pull the meat off the bones and throw the remaining bones away. Serve meat and gravy over slices of toast.

I made leftovers of this tonight (since I forgot to take photos of when I was actually making it, as we had company over at the time), and used the bread I made myself in the last post, toasted in my toaster oven. Just pile the chicken and the gravy that comes with it softens up the toast wonderfully. This is a great way to get rid of leftover chicken!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bread Baking Day 2

Thankfully I started the bread project pretty early in the morning, because around 10:30am, I bent over to pick something up and threw out my back. I've been living off ibuprofen since then and picking up the baby as little as possible, which is no easy feat when I'm the only one home to care for her. Husband had to work and I have no available friends or family here to help me, so I did the basics of care for the baby while I iced down my lower back and prayed she could entertain herself for the day with toys.
Anyway, before the injury, I did manage to get the bread started. I cut off a grapefruit-sized hunk of dough from the big lump in the bowl and rolled it around in my hands with flour until it looked good, then placed it on a bed of cornmeal on the pizza peel.

Unfortunately I didn't use enough cornmeal, because when I went to slide the dough off onto the heated stone in the oven, it just stuck. It sat there, slowly sinking toward the stone but clinging on to the wood for dear life. I pushed it off with a spatula and managed to bake it.
Here is a helpful video I found online so you can see the process:

It stuck to the stone after I had my husband pull it out (he was home in the morning, as he's on night shift right now), so I think I'll have to put some cornmeal on the stone itself next time. The recipe makes enough dough for at least 4 or 5 small boules, maybe more. At any rate, once we finally scraped the bread off the stone and let it cool a few minutes, I cut right in. It was delicious! And all in all, a pretty easy experimentation in breadmaking. I'm definitely going to do this often and get my money's worth out of the pizza peel and stone (and maybe even use them to bake a pizza someday), especially after my back heals.
I'm feeling a little better today, but there is still quite a lot of pain when I move around or try to sit. This is the one I took after I'd already eaten half the first loaf:

Once you have all your supplies, this really is the cheapest and easiest way of getting fresh baked loaves of artisan bread I've ever encountered.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Easy Breadmaking...or so the recipe says...

If I do not update on any given day, it is usually going to be due to one of two circumstances: my husband is at work/night shift/on duty (standing watch all night, as he's in the Navy), or we are eating leftovers of something I've previously blogged about. My husband is on night shift for right now but I'm still cooking whenever I finish off enough leftovers that I have room in the fridge for more. I had a bit of a meltdown today over the brand new meat thermometer I got for Christmas. It's all digital and fancy, but when I opened it it wasn't displaying and so I bought new batteries for it. I loosened the plastic battery compartment cover and walked over to a table where I had the batteries. Somewhere in that 6 foot walk, I lost the cover. We both searched for it over, under, inside, all around EVERYTHING in that area and can't find it. So I'm really angry that I've lost something for a gift I never even got to use. And of course, you can't use the thermometer without the cover because it holds the battery in.
ANYWAY, today I'm trying to make bread.
This is the dough just after it's been mixed:

I made the dough and it has set for just over two hours, but the recipe I have says you can let it rise up to 5 hours and that it should sit in the fridge overnight to stiffen up a bit and be easier to mold into a boule. I'll share the basic ingredients for you from this recipe a friend gave me, as it's supposed to be SUPER easy to make this bread (once you've gone out and bought a pizza peel and baking stone). So I'll update tomorrow on how it turns out after the dough has spent the night in the refrigerator. You can find the recipe HERE.


3 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour (making sure you flatten out the top of the scoop with the back of a butter knife)
Cornmeal for pizza peel

This is the dough once it has set for 2 hours:

Wish me luck on finishing the bread tomorrow! By the way, this Mozart Cube makes for hours of amusing baby entertainment. After 5 days of ownership, she finally figured out how to work it on her own, using her HANDS!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sausage Hash

I've been dying to try this recipe ever since I first saw it in last year's Christmas issue of Renaissance Magazine. I changed the amounts of certain ingredients, since I only had one pound of sausage to work with and didn't want to over-veggify it. The baby was very good and sucked on a piece of pear held in this Baby Safe Feeder. And I had to pull out my very large soup pot to fit all the ingredients for the hash. I'll tell you one thing, though, this was DELICIOUS! I even had some for breakfast this morning too.


1 pound ground sausage (country style or natural, NOT Italian seasoned)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
4-5 large carrots, peeled and thick julienned
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thick julienned
4 red potatoes, thick julienned

2 small sprigs fresh rosemary
2 -3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
Kosher or sea salt
Black pepper

Using a large pot, saute the sausage in the olive oil until mostly browned.

After that, the recipe said to add things in a certain order (the onions and garlic first), but I forgot to read that part and ended up just dumping ALL of the chopped vegetables in at once, stirring it all together with 1/2 cup of water to help the vegetables cook faster.

Add a pinch or two of sea salt and ground black pepper. After it's all mixed together, cover for about 3-4 minutes (cooking on medium-low heat) and then finish cooking uncovered, stirring occasionally. When vegetables are almost fork-tender, add the rosemary leaves and chopped chives, then stir and continue cooking until you can poke into the potatoes easily with a fork.

Takes about 30-45 minutes to make and serves at least 5 people large portions.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sweet Ham Steak

This recipe is super easy, and can be served with any side of veggies or starch like potatoes or whatever you want. We had a small ham steak this time, but these measurements will work up to a 3 1/2 pound steak.


2-4 pound ham steak
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup water

Heat the oven to 350 F. Spray a large baking dish with canola oil spray and set the ham steak in. Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, then pour mixture over top of ham steak. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on weight of steak. Feeds two. YUM!

Cajun Bean and Sausage Soup

Tried something new last night, and experimented on friends. Soak the beans overnight and through the next day until ready to start cooking (they will swell up).

I started cooking at 3pm to eat dinner at 6. This is a huge recipe and will feed 4 people twice over, plus leaving leftovers for the next day. I only added about 3/4 of the spice packet since I'm not a big fan of really spicy dishes, and my husband suggested it might have tasted even better with another can of tomatoes and a shallot.


15-Bean Cajun soup Mix (with spice packet)
2 quarts water
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 (or 2) 14-oz. cans of stewed tomatoes
1-2 pounds sausage, Mild or Sweet

After the beans have soaked, drain the water then put them in a large pot with 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, then leave simmering for 2 1/2 hours. At the 2 hour mark, prepare the sausage (fry in a pan with 1/2 cup of water, covered for 10 minutes, then uncovered another 10 minutes) and fry along with the onion and garlic. At the 2 1/2 hour mark, add the sausage/onion mixture to the soup (cut up the sausages if you cooked them whole) along with the canned tomatoes, lemon juice, spice packet, and a few shakes of salt and pepper. Simmer another 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally, then serve.

I found this to be kind of hot for my tastes, and I think if I make it again I will try using an extra can of tomatoes and a shallot, as my husband and friends suggested. Our friends that came over brought their son, who is only two weeks older than our daughter, so our girl met another baby for the first time. What did she do? Pretended to cry, smacked him in the face and tried to steal his pacifier, while he looked at her completely bewildered.

Monday, February 1, 2010

BLTG for lunch

I was lucky with the baby again today, given that with this recipe I could set her in her high chair to watch me cook and also give her a little taste of fresh avocado (before adding the salt, of course). Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Guacamole is the name of this recipe, the idea for which I got from a diner at the mall. I made the guacamole myself, but it turned out a little on the salty side so I'm going to reduce the sodium measurements for you here.


At least 4 slices of bacon
2 ripe Hass Avocados
1/8 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 lettuce leaves, rinsed
1/2 Roma tomato, sliced
3 Tbsp Mayonnaise
2 slices of bread, toasted

Fry up the bacon nice and crispy and then set it to cool down on a paper towel atop a plate.

Meanwhile, put the bread in the toaster and slice your tomato. Peel and remove the pits from the avocados (and give your baby a taste if you like), then mash up and mix in a bowl with the two different salts. This is your easy guacamole; you can add a bit of cilantro and lime juice if you have it.

Pull the toast out when done and slather each half with mayonnaise, then layer the bacon first, then lettuce, tomato, and top with a few spoonfuls of guacamole.

Put the top half of bread on and enjoy!

Dinner tonight is going to be my famous hamburger/cheeseburgers, so I probably won't be blogging about it. But you can find the recipe to your right in my eHow articles, or I can link you to it HERE.