Thursday, December 17, 2015

New York Style Bagels

Having lived in New York for a few years, I have definitive opinions on bagels.  Bagel texture, chew, toothiness... It all matters.  And while California style bagels aren't all bad, they aren't fresh New York bagels.  So I was thrilled to find the following recipe.  Shaping the bagel was the most complicated part of the recipe, which is to say, homemade bagels are a breeze!  And they were so good!  Chewy, but not dense, so tasty straight out of the oven, fabulous untoasted and great toasted two days later.  

New York Style Bagel

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kabocha Squash Ravioli


Tonight in a wild episode of stress "baking" I decided to roast a kabocha squash and stuff some ravioli with it.  I've never actually made ravioli, but it seemed hard enough that if it turned out, I would be super exited and proud of myself.  

The raviolis turned out gloriously good and I restored all my faith in myself, so productive night over here.  

Kabocha Squash Ravioli 
Serves 6

Fresh pasta sheets (use your favorite recipe) 
1 kabocha squash
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/4 cup butter 
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp smoked maple syrup (get yourself some!!!!)
1 TBSP of butter for every 10 raviolis 

Cut the squash into 4 equal pieces, roast at 400 degrees, for one hour.  

After it's cooked, carefully scoop out the flesh and mash with butter, cream, spices and syrup (no really, go buy some smoked maple syrup). Taste and add more salt if desired.  Add one egg.  

Make an egg wash with one egg and 1/4 water.  Brush sheet of pasta with egg wash and fill with squash mixture.  Seal each ravioli well.

Place 1tbsp butter and a small bit of finely chopped rosemary in a pan.  

Boil a large pot of salted water and once boiling add 10-20 ravioli. Cook for 4 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  

As pasta is cooking begin heating the pan with the butter, browning it, turning the pan several times so the butter runs through the rosemary.  

When pasta is removed from the water, toss into the browned butter and rosemary.  Top with fresh ground black pepper and enjoy!  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hot bruschetta

When your meal is this simple: 

But oh so good...

My husband was watching cooking shows on PBS yesterday and I meandered into the living room just in time to catch Jacques Pepin prepare a dish my husband deemed "hot reverse bruschetta". 

It looked like comfort food and sounded extremely simple. Of course today, shopping for ingredients, Trader Joes wasn't selling shallots, so I substituted a red onion, skipped the thyme and basil and whipped this up, single serving style for lunch.  

Hot Bruschetta
Single serving

One tomato (beefsteak or medium/large vine ripened) 
1/6 of a baguette (seeded, if possible!)
1/3 of a small red onion
1 clove of garlic
Olive oil 
Spray oil

Preheat oven 400 degrees.
Spray oil a individual cassoulet dish. 
Slice the tomato and place at the bottom of the dish.
Cut baguette into small chunks.
Slice the onions and garlic thinly.  
Mix bread, onions and garlic in a bowl with enough olive oil to coat the bread.  
Salt and pepper the tomatoes in the dish and the bread mixture.  
Place the bread mixture on the tomatoes.  
Bake for 30-40 minutes until tomatoes are soft and bread is crispy.  
Enjoy and follow with breath mints.  😁

Grocery Life

Both this week and last week we've gone over on groceries.  We've had to stock up on basics like flour and oil and we've been hosting a teen sized guest for the last few months on the weekends, so our eggs and milk disappear a little faster.   We have an entertainment budget, $100 a month, to be used on food and alcohol when having guests, which helps monetarily but doesn't simplify our budget. Things do tend to get a little mixed.  My nephew may have a peanut butter sandwich from our normal food budget, but we used taco Tuesday's left over sour cream from the entertainment budget for Saturday's normal budget coffee cake.  

I'm also saving up the entertainment budget for Thanksgiving, which I'm hosting, so I should be pinching pennies but regardless, I'm pretty sure the food budget will settle down and even out by the end of the year.  There's always a lot of eating out and parties, so I'm sure we will catch up.  

This weeks groceries: $55 
Budget: $25 weekly per person 

Last weeks groceries: $70. 

So as you can see, we are at least $25 dollars short in our grocery budget endeavor. $33.00 short to be exact.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Daily Latte

Even before the strict $50 a week budget started, I've always wished for but couldn't justify a daily latte.  I do budget $25 a month for Starbucks and I try to save it for days I'm working all night or at 5 am, but that money doesn't equal very many cups of coffee, and even less much more expensive lattes.  

So in came my at home latte making equipment.  By definition, this is technically closer to a misto, or cafe au lait (half coffee, half milk) then a latte (shots of espresso and steamed milk) because I'm not pulling shots of espresso or steaming any milk, but it solves my desires for a latte so completely, I prefer it to Starbucks.  

I love my Bella kettle because it's beautiful and functional.  

I keep a coffee grinder because the fancy coffee shops in San Francisco will not sell you pre-ground coffee.  

I am obsessed, yes, obsessed with my capresso milk frother because it heats my milk up to a perfect temperature without me having to babysit it (stovetop) or cleanup it up when it boils over (microwave). 

Single serve French coffee press.  Because, who doesn't love a bodum coffee press?  

Mug with my initial.  A definite yes for anyone.  

Flip switch on kettle
Pour milk into frother/warmer
Grind coffee
Pour coffee into French press, use what you would use for a full cup of black coffee.  
Pour hot water over grinds, just enough to saturate grinds. 
Let grinds brew for about 3 minutes.  
Pour everything into a mug and drink contentedly.  

Time from start to finish? Less time then it takes to run to Starbucks.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

What does one eat for breakfast when there is no milk, eggs, potatoes, tortillas, bread, or cottage cheese? 

There are days of budgeting when I do open my fridge and wonder what on earth I can create out of a half limp carrot, and onion and a lime.  So far it has always worked out, we haven't starved or even eaten very poorly.  In the worst of times it's dinner of sides, but it's always usually tasty and generally nutritious.  

This morning I opened my fridge four times before remembering I had an apple, which made me think about oatmeal.  I prefer milk in my oatmeal (cream, really) and so I just doused it in brown sugar (more than what is pictured) and it was quite good. No starving, necessary.  

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal 
One small apple diced finely
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 pinch* of cinnamon
1 pinch* of McCormick valencia orange peel
1 pinch* of salt 
1 cup water

Add all ingredients to a small pot and cook over medium for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Top with brown sugar and cream (if you have some, yum!).  

*pinch- can vary in size.  Always less then 1/4 teaspoon which is my smallest measuring instrument.  Usually bigger then a dash.  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Nuwave Portobello Mushroom Schnitzel

The recipe: 

I left for Copenhagen on Tuesday and wanted to use up the portobello mushrooms I had in my fridge, as I knew the Mister wasn't going to be cooking them for himself.  I also knew he wasn't going to enjoy anything I cooked with them, unless they were mostly hidden, but then remembered the best get someone to eat gross stuff trick: fry it.  

As we had just taken a German food cooking class the Saturday before, portobello schnitzel sounded perfect.  I realized that I had no eggs, but this brilliant recipe is VEGAN! 

And then I realized I had no frying oil, but I own a Nuwave, so I cooked them in that, on high, 10 minutes on each side, then drizzled a dab of olive oil on them and cooked for two more minutes.  They turned out crispy and fried tasting with a great earthy vibe from the sesame seeds called for in the batter.  I also used the husbands homemade sour cherry beer for the batter, which meant the leftover beer paired nicely with the dinner.  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Jerk Tofu and Coconut Rice

I'm not a tofu fan.  My husband hates it.  But about once a month I buy it and force myself to hide it in something like chili or as teensy little peices in stir fry.

However Jerk Tofu has changed the game.  I found a recipe online and thought I followed it pretty exact until the next day when I realized I butchered a important step in the directions.  So, the moral of the story... If you hate tofu, try the baked version of this recipe and then make these changes:  

2.  Don't blend your ingredients.  You can.  I've since done it, but I actually slightly prefer unblended.  Slice your jalapeño thinly and run your garlic and ginger through your microplane. Stir.  Toss in tofu.  

3.  Slice your tofu on the thin side.  About a quarter of an inch thin.  They may fall apart but those peices get a bit crispier and it's glorious.  

There's the recipe

Serve with Coconut Milk Garlic Rice. 
1 cup rice (half white/half brown is my favorite combo)
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
1 clove of minced garlic 
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add all ingredients, bring to a boil. 
Stir, place a lid on the rice and set the burner on the lowest setting. 
Cook for 20 minutes if white rice, 25 if brown, 
Fluff with a fork and make certain all the liquid has been dissolved.  
Eat with jerked tofu.  

Friday, October 9, 2015

Egg and Spinach Sandwich

English muffins are a house staple, and they are most frequently turned into breakfast sandwiches.   This morning's breakfast began like the others, English muffin in toaster, handful of spinach in pan, a dab of butter for the egg... And... Hmmm... What if I cooked my egg in spicy butter?  Hmmm... That sounds good... Into the butter went some mystery Turkish seasoning procured in Istanbul, a small small dash of cumin, a large dash of cayenne, CRACK, an egg.  Salt, pepper on everything, garlic salt on spinach, a few slices of a fresh from the garden tomato and "voila!", a spectacular breakfast sandwich.  The tomato and butter (a little more then I would usually use, as I generally cook my spinach with nothing) made the sandwich extra juicy and the juiceness was extra spicy.  It was divine.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Groceries 10/4/2015

I planned to head to the farmers market this week, but I found a plethora of stellar deals in the Trader Joes produce section, so I'm skipping it this week.  I had also planned to buy a little less, because I'm still catching up from a Costco trip, but we've had visitors all week, and no food left in the fridge.  My grocery budget is $50 a week for two people and this week I spent $50.11.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's a Pasta Kind of Week

When I'm traveling for work, it's extremely hard to stay on a budget. Most of the budget just goes to taxis because I'm forever missing the free shuttle.  So when I can, I bring food from home.  I try to bring the things The Mister won't cook or eat himself.  (You would judge me if you heard my, currently, still ineffective lecture on eating the remaining lettuce in our fridge.)

This week I packed tomatoes, cabbage and peanut butter.   Pumpkin peanut butter.  Yes.  Pumpkin.  Then I went to the store in New York and bought basil, Parmesan and pasta with the money a crazy lady threw at me on my Cancun flight, and today I made pasta.  

This pasta tastes like the smell of a garden.   Its fresh and tomatoey.  It's glorious.  I wanted to make pesto but didn't have garlic or lemon, so this was the result.  

Tomato Basil Pasta
1 box thin spaghetti 
5 very ripe tomatoes 
1 bunch of basil
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (less for more juicy tomatoes)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Boil spaghetti according to package directions until al dente. 

Blend all ingredients except salt and pepper until thick soup consistency. Taste and salt. 

Toss sauce onto hot, drained noodles and mix. The Parmesan will help the sauce thicken and cling to the noodles.  

To serve top with black pepper (course is best!) and a bit of cheese if you have left overs.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chilled Oatmeal with Strawberry Compote and Creme Anglaise

The Rules
One of the goals of our budget eating is to make extra and freeze one and refrigerate one of whatever is leftover.  The other day I applied this principle to breakfast.  I was making oatmeal with strawberry compote and creme anglaise sauce and I decided to make the oatmeal thick and serve the rest cold, as a leftover.  I was able to pack up three extra breakfast portions and I now don't have to deal with breakfast for a day or two. 

The Inspiration
I have tried the overnight refrigerator oats recipes cruising around Pinterest with limited success, but I've always like cold oatmeal.  Even as a kid, I would eat my peach instant Quaker Oats with cold milk instead of microwaving it.  Now that I have been working on a certain airlines "Mint class" airplane, one of the perks is eating the food specially designed by Saxon and Parole, a New York restaurant.  They often offer a cold oatmeal with a fruit compote and creamy sauce.  I can't claim any originality to any of this, but I highly recommend you try it. 

The Recipe

Chilled Oatmeal with Strawberry Compote and Creme Anglaise
The Strawberry Compote
1 1/2 cups of strawberries, cleaned and diced
1/2 cup of water
1/4 of white sugar
2 tsp of corn starch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom

Boil all ingredients together mashing strawberries with a fork as they soften, adding more water if compote seems too thick or begins to burn.  Don't worry if the strawberries still seem tart, they should be to counter the sweet and creamy creme anglaise. 

The Creme Anglaise
I used this recipe for the creme anglaise because it used milk, an ingredient I readily had on hand, and it has less calories then cream or half and half.  It was excellent with the oatmeal.  I also halved the recipe making it the perfect amount for the four portions of oatmeal.  (I also didn't ice bath my creme anglaise, because I'm lazy and it cooled perfectly while I made my oatmeal.)

The Oatmeal
Prepare Oatmeal, following package directions, for 4 people, using whole milk, instead of water.
Steel cut oats are my personal favorite, but I've also tried instant.

Put it Together
Top Oatmeal with strawberry compote and creme anglaise.  Add nuts if you have some on hand (Candied Walnuts!).  Eat it warm, then dish up the left overs to eat cold the next day.

Necessary Ingredients
Corn Starch
Egg Yolks
Nuts (Optional!)


Two People, Fifty Dollars

Two people, fifty dollars.  That's our weekly grocery budget.

After taking a finance class that asked the question "On what do you spend your money and time?" My husband and I decided we spend too much money on food.  And with that, I now spend much more time on food.  Cooking it, planning it out, bemoaning a meal of three sides.... 

The Rules
The goal is to purchase the basics, milk, bread, eggs, cheese, butter, potatoes every week.  Purchase on sale fruits and veggies.  Grab a few grains (preferable ancient grains, but pasta and rice once a week is fine with us).  Grab a few beans.  Add a couple treats.  Stock up on a staple.

We also have $100 a month to spend on food for entertaining and social activities.  So far I've spent $25, but Easter is approaching and I will be in charge of desserts.

This Week
This week I spent $20 dollars at Target and $35 at Safeway, going over by $5.  I had planned to put back the blue cheese after I found out the cost, or the salsa because I'm the only one who eats it but as I was choosing potatoes in the produce section, two customers ran out the back door of my ultra classy neighborhood Safeway with a cart of groceries, and as I was checking out, the security guard was explaining to the checker that the customer who stole the groceries, was the same guy from last week, and how he caught him, and I was engrossed in the story and forgot to put back the cheese or salsa and then I felt ashamed to ask the checker to take it off the bill, so the overage will come out of my fun money.  I'm going to need to invite someone over for blue cheese salads to get the money back from my entertainment fund.  :-) 

The Recipe
I buy a lot of my olive oils and vinegars from Marshalls and occasionally go to a shmanchy olive oil store in SF called "Olive this, Olive that".  My favorite thing there is the walnut-cranberry balsamic.  It's sweet and rich and nutty and I love it mixed with walnut oil and fruit (pears and apples especially) for a breakfast salad.  Given the price of oils and balsamics, one would assume it's not a budget food item, but a little goes a long way and the right oils and vinegars make even the most simple food, special. 

Sweet Walnut Salad
Lettuce (Mescalin mixes or butter lettuce works well.)
1 ounce of blue cheese
1 ounce of candied walnuts
1/4 red apple, thinly sliced or diced
Thin drizzle of walnut oil
Thin drizzle of cranberry-walnut balsamic
Salt and pepper to taste