Dec 18, 2011

Wintersday Workshop 2011 Entry 2 - ALCOHOL

 So this is the second entry for the Wintersday Workshop 2011 Contest, the Frosty, Mischievous, and Yuletide Tonics!

We prepared these drinks for an awesome guild get-together, and they turned out DELICIOUS.  The Yuletide Tonic was a simple Bloody Mary, with Mr. and Mrs. T's Bloody Mary Mix and some vodka, hehe.

 The Mischievous Tonic was Midori.  We used some Melon liquor and added lemon juice to it in a 1:1 ratio.  Mix it with a little ginger ale and you have a sweet and sour glass of awesomeness.  
 Finally, our Frosty Tonic was a Creamy Limoncello.  We soaked some lemon and lime peels in vodka for 3 days in room temperature and mixed it with a little milk and sugar.  It's about a 4:1 milk to vodka ratio for this one.

We also made eggnog, but decided not to spike it :P.  All in all, the guild party was awesome and the drinks (and cookies from the previous post) were a big hit :).  Thanks!

Wintersday Workshop 2011 Entry 1 - COOKIES

This is my first entry for the Wintersday Workshop 2011 Contest, Edible Gingerbread Shields and Focuses!  It took a lot of time, effort, and sticky hands and fingers to cook everything, but in the end, I'm happy with the result. :D

Thanks everyone!

Jan 17, 2011

Back to school now (Baked Tilapia with Veggies)

So school is back in session, which means I will be very busy once again. But I wanted to put this entry in before things started getting too heavy.  I made my own recipe for cooking fish!  It's really not too complicated.  I read a recipe which involved baking tilapia with a slew of other things involved which I did not have, so I used what was available and made something pretty tasty:

2 tilapia fillets
5 mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 potato, sliced
ginger, 1 slice diced
olive oil

Lay some foil on a baking sheet and cover the foil with some olive oil.  Then take your mushroom quarters and potato slices and lay them out over the foil.  Add some paprika and basil to the vegetables before preparing your fish.  In a separate bowl, massage the tilapia with salt, pepper, and ginger.  Afterwards, layer the fish on top of your veggies and sprinkle some more basil, paprika, and garlic on top.   Garnish with a little cilantro and give the whole thing a little shower of olive oil and bake for ~15 minutes in a 400° oven.  You are now ready to eat!

We made ours with pasta with mushroom/tomato sauce.  Here are the pics: 

I thought the dish turned out wonderfully.  The potatoes went really nicely with the fish and the pasta, and the fish was cooked pretty well.  Here are today's stats:

Time to cook: ~45 minutes (30 minutes to prepare (not counting thawing frozen tilapia) and 15 minutes to cook
Amount of help received: Slightly less than before.  My girlfriend helped me cut everything and helped me decide what to cook with the fish in lieu of other ingredients, but I took a good amount of leadership.
Presentation (according to girlfriend): 3/5 (it looks good, but it's not professional looking)
Tastiness (according to girlfriend): 4.2/5 (It was good.  Putting the potato and mushroom in really helped with the flavor. Maybe cooking it as it's own dish and including some sort of sauce would have been better.)

So another success!  I was really happy making and eating this dish.  I most certainly avoided the Foundry of Failed Creations with this dish :D. Maybe a different hairstyle is in order for celebration :P

Thanks fellow cooks and eaters!

Jan 12, 2011

Microwave Cake (is surprisingly quick and tasty!)

I totally said I would post the recipe for this, and I have yet to follow my promise.  This was an experiment my girlfriend and I did one night, and it turned out pretty well.  We just used what little ingredients we had lying it was ultra improvised.  SO, here we go:  MICROWAVE CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE: ACTIVATE!!!!!!!

So this recipe isn't too challenging really.
6 tbsp Pancake Mix
1 tbsp Hot Cocoa Mix
1 egg
1/2 tbsp butter (we used Smart Balance Lite)
1/2 tbsp plum wine
1/2 tbsp Malibu rum
some pancake syrup (we used two small ketchup-sized bags that we had left over from a campus restaurant)
some cinnamon

Mix well together in a microwave-safe bowl and "bake" in the microwave for 3:30.  Here's the mixed version:

And here's the final product after it's been cooked!

The cake was really tasty!  Maybe it was a little dry, but overall, it's really simple and awesome to make and watch.  It also tasted great with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream!  


Jan 2, 2011

Oh, right, It's 2011 now (also Poignantly Precarious Potatoes)

Happy 2011 everyone! It's a new year, which means I have a better chance of cooking more than two dishes before the next year rolls around :P. Anyways, my girlfriend wanted to make a fish soup for tonight's dinner and I was to make a salad (which I can happily say that I can make on my own now, thank you very much). But this dinner plan left us without any starch for the night. So instead of resorting to eating toast, we decided to cook something with our potatoes. After some snooping around on Tastespotting, we found some Hasselback Potato recipes. We took the main idea and ran with it, using our own ingredients that we had lying around. The distinguishing characteristic of Hasselback Potatoes is that they are sliced thinly down the length of the potato but without separating the slices, keeping the potato whole in a sense. We cut the potatoes in the basin of our cutting board so as not to slice all the way through the spuds.

The slices are important in that they allow our glaze/sauce-looking thing to be better absorbed into the potatoes. The final cut looks like this:

You should be able to see all of the thin slices we made in the potatoes. After this, we sliced some garlic cloves and fit each slice in between the slits. The next step was to prepare the sauce/glaze-looking thing. We used some butter (Smart Balance Light rather), canola oil, paprika, salt, pepper, and basil, melted it in the microwave, and spooned it onto the freshly cut spuds. If we had some sort of brush, that might have worked better, but you've got to work with what you have. Now all you need to do is bake them! 40-45 minutes at 450° (If you wish, you can choose to reglaze the potatoes in ten minute intervals during the baking process, especially if you have extra glaze left over. This should help keep the potatoes moist. We only reglazed once, at the 30 minute mark, mostly because I forgot about this step...). Here's our Hasselbacks after reglazing, but before the final bake:

After you're done, garnish your dish with some cilantro and voilĂ ! We have Hasselback Potatoes!

I enjoyed eating these a lot. The slices create the bite sizes for you, so all you need is a fork and you are ready to go. I, for one, don't like eating baked potatoes all that much, so this was a much appreciated deviation from the normal path of starches to my, not the pharynx then larynx then trachea, I mean.....oh nevermind.

And now the rating for today:

Time to cook: A little over an hour (~15 min to prepare and 45 min to bake)
Amount of help received: Barrels (again, I mostly observed, this time after my failed attempt to slice garlic)
Presentation (according to girlfriend): 4.5/5 (a little burnt, but it was pretty)
Tastiness (according to girlfriend): 3/5 (tastes like baked potato [potentially could have been avoided with more than 1 reglaze])

So I'm still very much a fledgling, not yet ready to take off, and I would surely break some bones if I tried at this point...but I'm learning valuable lessons each time. As long as I stay patient I'll be good. :D

Thanks peeps!

Dec 23, 2010

Not abandoning this blog yet :D (also, Secondary Sensational Salad)

I hope everyone enjoyed their Wintersday vacation. I did not cook anything specifically for the holiday season, but before we left for the break my girlfriend and I whipped up a tasty salad coupled with some soup that was graciously delivered to us :D. We topped that off with a SUPER improvised microwave cake recipe which turned out to be delicious!

Even before we made the salad, my girlfriend whipped up some wonderful crackers with kiwi and Brie cheese. Very tasty to say the least.

After that she taught me how to make a good salad (yes, I do require instructions on how to make salad... everyone has to start somewhere). Preparing the lettuce wasn't too bad. After washing the leaves (about 6 total I think), you shake off the remaining surface water. You then can rip off any bad parts of the lettuce that you don't want to eat with your hands. After that you can just tear the leaves into pieces, not too small or too big, but the size that you would want to fit in your mouth. Then put it in the bowl as your base for the salad.

My girlfriend also taught me how to prepare the other vegetables for the salad. To make a nice cucumber for instance, after peeling, you can streak the sides of the cucumber with a fork for a nice design element.

Following this, she sliced open and scooped out an avocado onto the salad (cutting it like you would a mango seems to work very well). Then she peeled and diced a carrot and placed it on top of the salad.

So at this point it seems like my girlfriend did about everything :\ HOWEVER, i did manage to make the salad dressing :D. I mixed 1/6 a cup of vinegar, 1/8 a cup of soy sauce, 4 tbsp of water, 2 tbsp of sesame oil, and a thin slice of ginger finely minced. I then put these ingredients into a container and shook the dressing vigorously before pouring onto the salad.

And now for the rating system:
Time took to cook: 40 minutes (with the soup cooked as well)
Amount of help received: Buttload, I only basically made the dressing and learned from my gf how to prepare everything else.
Presentation (according to girlfriend): 3/5 (wasn't great...salad is salad)
Tastiness (according to girlfriend): 4/5 (very tasty)

I'll post again on the microwave cake once I get a hold of the recipe. I learned a lot this time and I think the next time I make a salad, I'll be able to safely do it on my own :D.

Thanks everyone!

Dec 22, 2010

Whoa, I have a blog... (also, Primarily Perilous Pasta)

Hey people, I'm a person too! :D And like many people, I like to eat. More importantly, I purchase lots of food, but I never learned how to cook anything on my own. My girlfriend, on the other hand, can cook well and has a wealth of knowledge that far surpasses my own. Being particularly awesome, she has graciously agreed to guide me in my quest to learn how to cook. I one day hope to be able to cook a meal for her that will not require her help AND will actually taste good.

My girlfriend helped me out with this first dish. We thought that it would be fitting to make pasta as my debut dish. I found and borrowed elements from another blog that I saw (specifically, "Tuna and Caper Tomato Pasta" from Closet Cooking) and added some things that we had around the apartment as well (mostly because we had to improvise to due lack of ingredients or last minute problems we encountered). Specifically, we replaced olives with pickles (a very good decision actually), and added some tomato sauce to compensate for the lack of enough canned crushed tomatoes.

First, things first: we had to assemble all of the ingredients and cooking tools. We used half an onion, four cloves of garlic, two pickle spears, seven button mushrooms, one 14.5 oz of crushed tomatoes, a can of tuna, a pound of thin spaghetti noodles, and various spices. First I learned how to properly dice the onions without completely chopping my fingers off. Then we chopped the garlic and cut up some mushrooms without too much trouble.
Then we actually started cooking :D. We sauteed the onions (during which my girlfriend retaught me many times the proper sauteeing technique) until they were brown and soft. Then we added in the chopped garlic and some mushrooms, cooking them for about a minute. Then, in order to "deglaze" the pan (at first I was like wtf is that....but the internet is very helpful at explaining things), we used plum wine...though the recipe called for white wine. It smelled REALLY good at that point.

Here's where we hit the trouble spot. We added the tomatoes and pickles after letting the plum wine evaporate....but we quickly noticed that the small amount of sauce we were making would not be NEARLY sufficient to eat with the large amount of spaghetti noodles we had cooking. Re-reading the recipe, I noticed that we had a 14.5 oz can of tomatoes, where the recipe called for a 28 oz can... >.> ...damn... So, after frantically looking for a replacement for tomatoes, we found some much needed tomato sauce from the refrigerator and added quite a bit. After mixing and stirring for about 10 minutes, we added in the tuna and capers and let this sit for another ten minutes over medium heat.

Another lesson I must learn as a cook is to constantly taste my food to make sure it is progressing well as I cook it. After the last ingredients were added, the spaghetti sauce was quite sour, and not very savory. So, we added salt.....lots and lots of salt. Now, you must understand...this is some weird's the least salty salt you could ever imagine, so gratuitous amounts were required. Eventually it did become salty enough though, lol. Then we followed that up with some pepper and some chopped basil leaves, put this on the spaghetti, and enjoyed our meal.

Needless to say, this was quite frantically created with lots of apologies from me in between, but the dish was edible. The pickles and capers combined made the sauce taste pretty unique...quite a bit more sour than other sauces I've had before, but not overpowering. Then again, my senses are pretty dull as they are, and I'm not the IMPORTANT judge of my cooking.

Here are the stats for today's meal:
Time took to cook: 1 hr
Amount of help received: Tons, advice and criticisms on almost everything I did
Presentation (according to girlfriend): 3/5 (I mean, how else do you present pasta, lol)
Tastiness (according to girlfriend): 3/5 (It was ok, it wasn't bad)

So overall, not so bad, but I still had TONS of help from my girlfriend. It was pretty tasty, and I didn't cause any physical harm to anyone around me or break anything :D Things to remember for next time: don't mix various tomato sauces together....or more importantly read the recipe and remember the amount of ingredients that you need.

Thanks people!