Sunday, March 30, 2008

Brunch Before The Paint Fumes Got To Us

Today was the big DIY day of painting my bathroom, so Lala came to my rescue. Before we started painting though, I made brunch for us. She had gotten me The Joy of Cooking a few weeks ago so I thought I'd try one of the recipes for breakfast muffins. I must say I am impressed with myself for having TWO DIY projects in one day. Though the paint job is a lot less impressive than the muffins. More on that later.

I made scrambled eggs with onions, shitake mushrooms, and pancetta -- too easy of a recipe to post here so I won't go through how to scramble an egg.

Orange Walnut Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 cup walnut pieces (The walnut pieces didn't make it into the muffins today because I was in too much of a rush to remember that I actually bought them. Ah, my wonderful, organized DIY skills strike again!)

2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and walnut) in a bowl. Whisk to combine well.

In a separate mixing bowl, mix all the wet ingredients (eggs, sour cream, brown sugar, butter, orange zest, and vanilla). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Do not over mix.

Spoon batter into lined muffin tins. Fill about 2/3 up. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean.

I made a glaze with 1/2 cup fresh orange juice and 1/2 cup brown sugar for the muffins. The glaze was quite watery so next time I think I might cook it down on the stove a little while the muffins are baking.

So we ate, painted, felt really good about ourselves, then felt really light headed and tired from breathing in the paint fumes. We left the house in a hurry.

Oh, so, the color I picked, incidentally, has a food name: pernod. According to "the internets," pernod is an apertif, a successor of absinthe, with a delicate licorice scent. The internets also said that pernod is often added to vegetable dishes and fish to give it a sophiscated, herbal taste. Sounds good, no?

It looks like this:
Depending on your monitor, this is meant to be a very pale yellow, sort of like the color of hollandaise sauce. A delicate yellow reminiscent of lemonade.

So why does my bathroom now look like an ill egg yolk explosion?!

I am hoping it is just the lighting. During the day the color actually looked mild and light, the way I intended it to be. But tonight, the lighting in my bathroom is doing some voodoo magic that makes the paint look really scary.

I think I'll eat another muffin now.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Retro Confession

(Man, am I pleased with this casserole)

Ok, let me just confess this right now: my dinner tonight contains almost a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. And I liked it.

Usually I have an unreasonable fear of Campbell's Cream of ____ products. I know it's bad for you and the flavor, aside from the cream of mushroom one, just scares me. I also have an unreasonable fear of other foods like hot dogs, donuts, soda (especially the creamed variety), and others. But none of those items would be making an appearance at my dinner table any time soon.

Once upon a time when I was in junior high, casseroles with the Campbell's Cream of _____ were all the rage. I recently discovered a blog called The Pioneer Woman Cooks, a funny food blog with recipes that almost always call for butter and almost always promise to be "man-pleasing." One of these man-pleasing recipes called Chicken Spaghetti has caught my attention, and with frozen cooked chicken and a block of cheddar cheese in my fridge, it was all the excuse I need to try it out.

My corner market didn't have any green bell peppers today so I winged it without. I am not going to write up this recipe in hopes that you may also try it because Pioneer Woman's blog does a good enough job. I basically boiled thin vermicelli, browned some chopped up onions (i like them very well cooked. This is essential in the recipe), mixed it altogether with 1/2 to 3/4 can of Campbell's mushroom soup, cooked chicken, a lot of ground black pepper, some red pepper flakes, shredded cheese (I think sharp cheddar works better but I only had mild Irish cheddar today), and threw it into the oven to brown.

I did get a jar of pimentos to add in the casserole as suggested by the recipe, but it didn't make it because I just couldn't get the damn jar to open! I LOVE living by myself 99 percent of the time, the 1 percent of the time when I hate it is when I can't open a jar or when I have to carry groceries upstairs. I wrapped about four rubber bands around this jar of pimentos and it just would not budge! I think the casserole is fine without it. But since I have no idea what pimentos taste like on their own (out of an olive), I really can't say for sure.

(The jar of hateful pimentos. See the rubber bands?)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sesame Noodles with Poached Chicken

For dinner last night I made the old stand-by of sesame noodles with poached chicken and cucumber. It is a recipe I got from uncle 4 and has served me well on many many lazy nights!

Here is an estimation of my recipe. Alas, too hungry yesterday to take pictures :(

Serve 2

white Chinese noodles, enough to serve 2
1 chicken breast
1 cucumber, shredded

3 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (looks like the bottle on the left here.). Don't use tahini! They sell this at most Asian grocery stores.
about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon hot water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
pinch of sugar
dash of rice wine vinegar
dash of toasted sesame oil
generous sprinkle of white pepper

dash of hot chili oil
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

In a small mixing bowl, combine the sesame paste with the vegetable oil. Press down with a spoon to soften the sesame paste until smooth. This might take a few minutes. Add the water, soy sauce, and sugar and stir until combined and smooth. Add the vinegar, sesame oil, and optionally the hot chili oil, ginger, scallions, and cilantro. Mix well. Taste and adjust with soy sauce, water, or vinegar (not too much of the last two). Set aside.

In a medium sized pot, fill half way with water (or just enough to cover chicken breast). Add some salt, pepper, or optionally ginger and scallion to the water. Bring to boil. When the water comes to boil, turn down the heat until the barest simmer (water should be just simmering and not boiling at all). Add chicken breast. Keep lid tightly covered over the lowest heat and poach for 15 minutes. Remove chicken breast onto a plate, shred it to bite size pieces with two forks. Sprinkle with a bit of sesame oil or olive oil, salt, and grated ginger. Cover and set aside.

Cook two servings of noodles until al dente. Drain and pour sauce over it immediately, stir to combine. Sprinkle with white pepper and give it a good stir again. Put the noodles on a plate and top with the shredded chicken and cucumber. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Curry Vegetable Dip

I had this really unique vegetable dip at a coworker's housewarming party a few weeks ago. With curry powder and mustard, this dip makes an alternative to the usual ranch. She served it with vegetables like jicama, red bell peppers, carrots, and celery -- I love it with jicama because the creamy curry is such a good contrast with the sweet, crunchy vegetable.

Here is the recipe.

Creamy Curry Dip
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayo
3-5 Tablespoons plain yellow mustard
1 tsp curry powder
2-3 shakes of worcestershire suace
dill - optional
Combine all and serve with vegetables.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Low fat, low cholestrol oatmeal drop cookies

Ingredients: to make about 2+1/2 dozen of cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 or 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup firm packed light brown sugar
1+1/2 cup Quaker oats

1/2 cup olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extra
1/2 cup craisins (or raisins)

1. Pre-heat oven 350F.
2. Combine ingredients in (I).
3. Mix well with (II) and make a well at the center.
4. Add (III) and stir until dry ingredients are moistened.
5. drop by tablespoons 2" apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
6. bake 13~15 mins or until done.