Recent Recipes

Look What I Made: Pumpkin Spice Scones with Ginger Molasses Drizzle

Comments (3) | Saturday, October 9, 2010

Last week, some of my coworkers had a dessert and wine potluck. I had metric tons of pumpkin lying around, so I decided to dig out my old pumpkin spice scone recipe. Trouble was, I had misplaced my old recipe notebook from college.

Luckily, some mad Google skills reunited me with the site I had taken the recipe from in the first place. I hadn't even remembered it was Pinch My Salt, which is a thoroughly delightful blog that everyone should check out.

Anyway. The day was saved, the scones were made, and one of my coworkers described them as "like taking a bite out of fall."

My only recipe issues were with the Ginger Molasses icing. It's obviously from Pinch My Salt's pictures that the icing should have a frosting-like consistency.

It is obvious from my picture that I never got there.

Light icing is obviously one of my cooking weaknesses. I never mastered the cinnamon glaze, either.

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Cuttin' Up Pumpkin

Comments (1) | Monday, September 27, 2010

Last weekend, when Andrew and I went to the orchard, I bought a pumpkin. Not a Jack-o-Lantern sized pumpkin. I bought a small, 4-5 pound little pumpkin.
And I must be crazy, because my intention was to cook it. Which is exactly what I did.

Anne Can Cook Presents: How to make your own pumpkin puree in 8 sort of easy steps.

Step One:
Halve the pumpkin
It doesn't have to be perfect.

Step Two: Scoop out the seeds.
I am suffering here from what Pioneer Woman would call Purple Alien Hand Syndrome. Anyway, I scooped the seeds out (for roasting!) with my hands. It is sort of like when you comb your hair with fingers, only much slimier.

Step Three: Scrape off the slimy stuff.
A good, old-fashioned spoon should do the trick. When you're done, you're left with this:
Step Four: Cut into manageable chunks.

May your knife be sharp and your muscles sturdy. This is where the "sort of" easy comes into play. Cutting up a pumpkin is intense work, particularly if you're a wuss with a knife of questionable durability (like me). I made it through, though, and so can you.

Step Five: Cut your manageable chunks into even smaller chunks.
Like this.
Yes, they have their skins still on in the pot. Trust me here.

Step Six: Boil that biz.

I boiled them for about an hour, and then dumped them in the colander.

Step Seven: Cut off the skin.
The pumpkin's tough skin comes off much easier once the flesh is soft. I used a butter knife to separate the skin from the flesh. How particular you want to be is up to you.

Step Eight: It's pureeing time!
The pumpkin was really soft, so a few pulses with my hand blender more than did the trick. A food processor would be wonderful, or you can do things the old-fashioned way and use a potato masher. Whatever floats your boat.
Once everything is smooth, you can use the pumpkin right away or you can freeze it. I froze about 2/3 of and am reserving the rest in the fridge for a pumpkin curry later this week.

Ultimately, here is the deal with pumpkin: it is a real pain in the butt to prepare a pumpkin for pureeing. However, it does make a person feel immensely accomplished.

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Grilled Cheese and Thoughts on Food Trends

Comments (2) | Sunday, September 19, 2010

I know that grilled cheese is not a big deal to make, and it seems like a weird thing to feature on a food blog. The reason I'm including this at all is to comment on my own cooking style.
I am very much a "toss stuff together and see what happens" sort of cook. I often don't post things that I make because they're either A) tried and true recipes that have already appeared here or B) something I have just thrown together. For example, this past Thursday I made spaghetti with spicy cheese sauce, because I had about an once and a half of New Zealand cheddar and an old serrano chile I needed to use. It was really tasty, but I didn't measure anything past the basic roux formula.
Is something I can't necessarily replicate worth putting on the blog? Those sorts of things don't seem like a big deal to me, since they're just me futzing around in the kitchen.
Then I start to feel guilty because I haven't updated in two or more weeks and I really need to stay on top of this because it is a project I care about. How do more legit and serious food blogs do it?

So here we are.

If you haven't gathered this already, I really like dishes that provide a base for various embellishments. Things like pasta and chicken are great because you can season them in a million different ways.

Grilled cheese is like this, too. You can make it with whatever cheese you want. You can add seasonings or not. You can add veggies or meat, or not. The bread is up to you. It's basically a blank canvas.

Here's what I did last night.
Andrew and I went on a country adventure yesterday in which we visited an apple orchard and Minnesota's Largest Candy store. The latter was the significantly more exciting and interesting, and, in addition to all the candy, I picked up some applewood smoked mozzarella and a locally made jalapeno-garlic hot sauce (which is the green stuff at the bottom of the picture).

Since I had this incredibly tasty cheese, grilled cheese seemed like a good, easy option for our late dinner. The bread is Italian sandwich loaf, and there's bacon and the aforementioned mozz AND a sprinkle of Fox Point seasoning. Grill together on a Foreman grill (tip: these are AWESOME for grilled cheese and melts), dip in new jalapeno sauce, eat, be happy.

I also wanted to comment/ask about personal food trends. Do you ever notice that you get really into certain foods? I'm talking about food phases. Lately, I've really been into:
Green Chiles
, especially jalapenos and serranos. Poblanos sometimes, too.
Beer, because Minnesota actually has a pretty rad craft beer scene. Plus, my friend Kim's beer blog is inspiring me to understand and appreciate beer even more than I previously did.
Jams and Fruit Butters, which is really weird for me because I'm not a fruit person. This all started back in August when some friends of my got married and handed out homemade preserves as wedding favors. In addition to their apple butter and vanilla-berry preserves, I've also picked up lingonberry jam from IKEA and pumpkin butter. Plus, I have some rhubarb jam from this summer I haven't opened yet. What is the deal?

What are your current food trends? How often do you go through food phases? Is this even a thing?

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Hold on to your hotdog, Grandma!

Comments (1) | Saturday, September 4, 2010

Today, Andrew and I went to the Minnesota State Fair. We got up early and took the nearest park and ride, which put us at the fair around 8:45. We returned home around 6.

What I'm saying is: it was a long day.

State fairs are a Big Deal in this part of the country. I've been to the Iowa State Fair a handful of times, but this was my first time at the Minnesota State Fair. I know this means I'm letting Iowa down, but I think I preferred the MN State Fair. The reason for this is the sheer quantity of food here in Minnesota. There is food EVERYWHERE. There is a food building, there are food stands up and down all the streets, and there is food in all of the areas-grandstand, midway, old west themed craft town, and my favorite, the international bazaar. Of course, most of it is fair fare. I wouldn't call it a foodie's dream or anything. However, I did eat some excellent things today. I also ate way too many fried things, much to my stomach's chagrin.

Andrew and I entered the fair armed with a coupon book. Here is our story.

MORNING:We didn't really eat breakfast before we left this morning since we were planning to eat at the fair.
Despite my love of things like pastries and cinnamon buns and eating cookies for breakfast, I actually don't handle sugar too well in the morning. Therefore we settled on crepes (from French Crepes), which had plenty of savory options. I seriously considered the bacon and cheese crepe, as well as the asparagus and cheese crepe. Ultimately I let Andrew choose, since we were going to share. Hence, we ended up with the cranberry and brie crepe. I also got a generous cup of coffee, which was surprisingly good. I had thought to pop across to French Meadow for coffee, but I'm glad that I didn't.
To my pleasure and surprise, the cranberry portion of the crepe was more like a cranberry jam, which had a nice tartness without too much astringency. This contrasted nicely with the crepe itself, which was just mildly sweet in addition to being light and chewy. The brie was clearly brie, and we were happy to discover that there was also a smattering of walnuts.
This was the best thing I ate today. I don't know if I feel that way because this was the first thing and it set the standard or what. What I do know is that this was fantastic and I want one for breakfast everyday for the rest of my life.
Andrew said: It's good! I still taste walnut in my mouth!
Then he tried to spout some hoity toity nonsense to make himself sound deeper and more articulate.

The crepe was not enough breakfast for Andrew, so we popped over to the Food Building and stopped at My Sausage Sister and Me, which is apparently a sausage company run primarily by women.
Andrew got the biscuits and gravy. I'm not a sausage person, but I had a tiny, non-sausaged bite, and I have to say these were pretty good.
Andrew said: Very good. The gravy's very creamy and peppery. The biscuits are fluffy and slightly buttery. The sausage is very good, there's no gristle. Excellent consistency. Slightly spicy. The sausage doesn't overpower the gravy, and it's slightly fennel-y.

After this stop, we walked around for awhile. We visited the goat building, and I had my hands licked and nibbled on by several goats. It was pretty great.

At mid-morning, we stopped for Deep Fried Fruit on a Stick. We had a coupon and Andrew likes fruit. Had I been by myself, this isn't something I would have gone for.
Andrew liked this more than I did. Our stick contained random fruit, though for a few dollars more you can customize it. The strawberry (pictured) was pretty good. It gave me the impression of a crumble or something similar. Really, it's like hot fruit encased in funnel cake. It made my stomach hurt. If I were to eat it again, I would get a custom one with nothing but strawberries and pears. This is not something I'd seek out, however.
Andrew said: Good variety. Sort of like pie on a stick or something.

Dying to eat something other than fruit, we made our way back to the food building. Andrew went off to find some lemonade, and I went towards The Mouth Trap, which I think might be something of an institution at the fair. The line was immense, but it went really quickly since all they sell are deep fried cheese curds.
They were really good cheese curds, too. They had a nice balance of cheesiness and greasiness. The salt content was just right. Something about the coating had a satisfying back-of-the-mouth flavor/feeling that read as really homey and fantastic. I ate these plain, but plenty of Mouth Trap patrons ate theirs with ketchup.
Andrew said: Cheesy, lightly battered...
Me: I just need a base reaction.
Andrew: ...Good.

Andrew wanted a more substantial lunch, so we swung over to Dino's, which serves fast Greek food. Andrew loves gyros. Andrew might even love gyros more than chicken tenders.
I didn't taste the gyro, but Andrew gave it a pretty good review.
Andrew said: Good. Messy. The tzatziki needs more cucumber. Good, fast food gyro.
Because he's a pretty nice guy, and because he knows the quickest way to my heart is through my sweet tooth, Andrew bought me some baklava at Dino's as well. It was pretty decent baklava-flaky and syrupy sweet. On an awesome baklava scale of 1-5, I'd give it a 3.5.
After more walking around, we decided it was Fudge Puppy time. Fudge Puppies, from Granny's Kitchen, are something I'd never heard of until Andrew started talking about the Minnesota State Fair. They are essentially a Belgian waffle on a stick, dipped in chocolate and topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. Or, as I phrased it in my notes, a waffle with sundae toppings.
We shared this. I don't know. I'm very much a sweets person, but this didn't knock my socks off or anything. The waffle was really good. It was sweet and fluffy and basically anything you could want from a waffle. I thought the chocolate was kind of grainy, though. The Puppy was too warm for the whipped cream, which kept melting and sliding off.
Andrew said: The chocolate was very good. I thought the flavor was right. Warm. Waffley. Chocolately.

Eventually I decided it was beer time. Summit Brewery, which is a local brewery that's been around for about as long as I have, has Summit On A Stick. These are three Summit beers in little 7 oz. glasses on a wooden paddle. I wish I had the beer reviewing skills of my friend Kim of Will Write for Beer. Alas, I do not.
Normally I am a dark beer person, but my favorite of these was actually the Extra Pale Ale, which was nice and smooth with a lightly bitter background. Andrew liked the Oktoberfest. The Horizon Red was bitter and piney/citrusy.

Immediately after our beers, Andrew took me over to the Horticulture Building and bought me something I'd been really excited to try: Wine Ice Cream.
The ice cream was made by Saint Paul ice cream company, Izzy's, using regional wines. There were three flavors, and the other two were raspberry based, so I steered clear. This one was Apple Cinnamon, made from a white wine called Johnny Appleseed.
This is my favorite dessert thing I ate all day. The ice cream was good-light, icy, and creamy with a mild spicy apple flavor and a distinct wine tang. It also didn't leave that sickly sweet aftertaste I usually get from ice cream. Plus: wine. You had to be at least 21 to order this. Awesome.
Andrew said: I liked it.

After much walking around, and much sitting down, and much complaining (on my part) of aching shoulders and hips, we set off for our final fair goals. We had a coupon for onion rings from Danielson's and Daughters Onion Rings. I had also just read about this company in Minneapolis/St. Paul magazine, so I was curious to try them out.
I squirted a bit of Frank's Hot Sauce in one corner with the intention of dipping, but I really ought to have drizzled it all over the rings. I thought they were a bit bland, and I also should have taken advantage of the salt sitting out at Danielson's and Daughters' booth. The batter was quite crunchy, and the onion was sweet. The ones that did end up soaked in Frank's were particularly good. If I ever get these again, salt and Frank's is definitely the way to go.
Andrew said: I liked them. They're better than most onion rings. A light distribution of Frank's would have been good.

And so, having eaten a lot of fried food and walked a lot, we made our way back to the bus and headed home.

I had a pretty excellent time today. I'm sure it was tedious for Andrew having me whip out my camera and notepad every time we bought food, but it was much more fun for me that way.

The title of this post is something we overheard at the fair today, and we could not stop giggling about it. The full quote is: "Hold on to your hotdog, Grandma! There's a bump!"

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I like books!

Comments (0) | Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hey hey!

I think I am also going to blog about books (and maybe bath stuff?) at my old tumblr. If you're interested, it's here.

I will still food blog, though!

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Sesame Broccoli with Rice Noodles

Comments (0) | Monday, August 30, 2010

Last weekend, my youngest aunt and her family were in town for a preseason football game. They were gracious enough to bring me up some stuff from home.

I suspect my mom got a bit carried away with cleaning out her cookbook cupboard, because she sent me something like twenty editions of Taste of Home Quick Cooking.

But I love Taste of Home, so this is totally okay.

I was on my own for dinner tonight, and so I turned to my latest acquisition for guidance. Sure enough, I had barely flipped through the pages of my random edition before I found something that sounded perfect. The entry is called "Sesame Broccoli," and it was submitted by someone named Myrna Innes for the July/August 2003 edition.

I did add a bit to Myrna's recipe, but not much. I'll note my changes.
"Sesame Broccoli" (with Rice Noodles)
1 cup water (Note: I almost always ignore the amount of water for boiling things. Fill pan with water. Boil things. Done).
1 pound fresh broccoli spears (or, in my case, 1/4 bag of frozen broccoli spears)
*Approximately 1 oz of dry rice sticks
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
*3 cloves garlic, pressed
4 tsp olive or canola oil, divided
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (I used lime juice. It's just what I grabbed first).
1 Tbsp. soy sauce.

*Stuff I added to the original recipe.

In a saucepan, boil the water and add the noodles and broccoli. Boil until tender. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp. oil in a small skillet. Once hot, add the sesame seeds and saute until brown. This goes surprisingly fast. Don't think you can walk away during this part. It seriously took me about fifteen seconds, tops.
Remove the skillet from the heat. I added some pressed garlic here, since the skillet was still hot enough to cook it a bit.
Add the sugar, lemon (or lime) juice, soy sauce, and the rest of the oil. Mix well, set aside.

Once the broccoli and rice sticks are done, drain them well, then toss with the sesame seed mixture.

I sprinkled some lemon pepper on top, because I've been into it lately.

This had an incredibly homey flavor to it. The progression went something like this for me:
1st few bites: Yeah, this is okay.
Middle of eating: OMG this is soo good. Broccoli! I love broccoli! Pasta! Mmm. Lime in the background! Mmmm! This tastes like something mom would've made!
End of eating: I'm sort of full but I. Can't. Stop.


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Internet and Spices

Comments (0) | Saturday, August 21, 2010

We're back!*

Andrew and I have had the Internet for approximately one full hour now. That means posting can continue with some regularity soon!

Until I cook something worth mentioning, I thought it might be fun to share my spices spreadsheet with you all. I feel like I am always plugging Penzeys, and so I thought you might want to see what I have in my spice cabinet and what I like about each one. I am kind of new to Google Docs, but it seems to have uploaded just fine. Here is the link.

Anyway, that's it for the moment. In the meantime, comment here or on my facebook page and tell me what your favorite spices are. Or maybe, if you're not a Penzeys person, tell me about your favorite spice company.

*A Dinosaur's Story.

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