I am moving!

As I have mentioned before, I am quite annoyed with the spacing problems on this blog. Knowing that the appearance of my posts is going to wrong hardly encourages creativity. Also, while I love cooking, and I really really do, it’s not my entire life (I am not a professional cook after all). I have other projects, interest, passions and hobbies. As a rather chatty individual, I want to be able to share these experiences with you, not just the ones that occur in the kitchen. I decided to take care of two birds with one stone and I’ve been working for a few months now on my new blog. I hope you will continue to follow my adventures there!

youngscholarslife.blogspot.com.

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Edamame Salad with Crisp Steak Bits

Update: My new blog is coming along wonderfully! I can’t wait to share it with all of you. For a reminder as to why I’m switching blogs, go here. I’m currently in the process of uploading my recipes to the new site and then I’m going to activate it in time to chronicle my big move. Stay tuned!

This salad is deceptively attractive. I saw pictures on the Cooking Light website and thought, “wow, what a great, healthy option”. Unfortunately, it looked way better than it tasted. The texture of the cucumbers and edamame was just weird and bf didn’t really like the dressing. Anyway, I thought it was a good effort. In the name of sharing, I will show the recipe and how I created it.

Edamame Salad with Crisp Steak Bits

from Cooking Light Magazine

  • 3 cups frozen shelled edamame
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped seeded English cucumber (about 1)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces flank steak, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
First, I mixed together the soy sauce, fresh ginger, mayo, mustard, vinegar and sesame oil to create the dressing. A few notes: I would definitely reduce the amount of sesame oil, it’s really not my favorite. Also, ginger can be annoying to peel and chop, not to mention how to save extras? Ginger comes in those giant pieces that look like troll fingers and no recipe actually needs that much ginger. I have a great trick to fix that problem!  Freeze the ginger with the skin still on in a plastic baggy. Then when you need it, just chop of a piece, slice of the skin and chop it up. Not only does the ginger still smell amazingly fresh, but it chops and skins easily. It’s really and awesome solution.
Then, I sliced the tomatoes in half, chopped the cucumber and green onions, and shelled the edamame. I poured the dressing over the veggies and tossed.
Next, I tossed the cut up steak bits with some salt and pepper. I heated up some vegetable oil in a skillet and then added the steak. As you can see, it gets very smokey, so I had to put the fan on. Also, it sprays oil EVERYWHERE. So cleaning the stove before I cooked was definitely a fool’s errand. I cooked the steak until it was crispy and brown through the center.
While I was making the salad, I also boiled some corn. I served the salad with the steak bites on top. It looked really nice right? Have you ever made any dishes that look great and really fail in the taste department? I hope I’m not the only one!

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Toasted Chickpea and Apricot Salad

This salad is perfect for a (unbearably hot, straight-from-Satan’s Lair) summer night. Yup that’s right. D.C. is miserable right now. Luckily, I found this salad in the recent Cooking Light and I loved it! It’s pretty similar to this salad, (which bf liked better since he doesn’t really like fruit in his salad), but I loved this one!

Toasted Chickpea and Apricot Salad

adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

  • 2 16 ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 of a red onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 large apricots, pitted and sliced
  • 1 bag of arugula and mixed greens, rinsed thoroughly
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
First, I rinsed my chickpeas in a strainer and patted them dry with paper towels. (I used two 16 ounce cans of chickpeas, it was a little more than the recipe called for, but I think the amount turned out right). I then put the chickpeas in a baking dish, added two tablespoons of olive oil, the cumin and coriander, and stirred everything together with a spoon until the chickpeas were coated. I then baked the peas for 20 minutes at 450 degrees.
While the chickpeas were roasting, I combined the orange rind, the orange juice, the vinegar, salt, pepper and the rest of the olive oil in a large bowl. I whisked it all together using a fork.
I then sliced up four apricots and half of a red onion and tossed them with the dressing. I let the mix sit for about 5-10 minutes while the peas finished roasting.
When the peas were done, I added them to the bowl, along with the arugula. I then sprinkled the feta on top and mixed again.
All done! Super easy, 20 minutes start to finish. Would go great with some crusty bread. Yum!

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Holy Brown Sugar! (or Soft Brown Sugar Cookies)

I have to start this post by saying, don’t try this dough. If you do, you won’t want to make the cookies, but instead gobble up the entire bowl of deliciousness.

My second note is that my cookies look nothing like the ones in the picture on the blog where I found the recipe. I tried cooking them different times, different tray levels in the oven and different size dough balls and nothing worked. I’m just now wondering if it’s maybe stale baking soda? I’ll have to try. Don’t get me wrong, they are freaking delicious. Like, melt in your mouth, heaven on earth, richly decadent amazing. They just aren’t the prettiest cookies. No beauty awards here. I”m going to try it again though. If I get it right, I’ll let you know.

Soft Brown Sugar Cookies

from Gooseberry Patch Cookbook via Scraps of Life

Cookies:

2/3 c. butter, softened
1-1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sour cream

Frosting:

1/4 c. butter
1-1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. Milk

First, I started by mixing together the softened butter and the brown sugar.

Then, I added the eggs one at a time and beat in between each addition. I also added the vanilla and beat again.

In a separate bowl, I whisked together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Next, I added half the flour and mixed everything together with my hand mixer. I then added the sour cream and mixed again. Finally, I added the rest of the flour and mixed for the last time.

Using a tablespoon measurement, I scooped balls of dough onto parchment paper-covered trays. Clearly, I didn’t leave enough space. I found that you want just barely a tablespoon, any bigger and they expand way too much. Also, the cookies really stuck to the parchment paper once they were done so I’ll spray the paper next time. One final note, the original recipe said bake for 8 minutes. Mine definitely needed 10-11 and even then they were leaning towards the still-squishy side. Once the cookies had cooled for a few minutes, I removed them to wire racks.

For the frosting, I started by melting the butter. You then want to cook it until it just begins to turn brown. I was sort of nervous about this step, but it’s pretty obvious when it begins to brown. You start to see tiny little brown flecks, almost as though someone has sprinkled cinnamon in the butter. At this point, I turned off the heat.

I then added the powdered sugar and mixed until there weren’t any large clumps of butter.

Next, I poured about 4 teaspoons of milk, although I think my frosting could have used another 1/2 teaspoon or so, and stirred. You want it to be spreadable.

Finally, I experimented with the frosting. I tried some cookies with lots and some with little. I think a little dollop is best because the frosting is rich and isn’t shy about the butter. Next time, when the frosting is thinner, I’m going to try doing a super thin layer, rather than blobs. Can I just say, I really hate this picture. It looks like weird eyeballs, eggs, or at worst, breasts…..Ok, I apologize for that rant. Don’t mind my photography skills, try these cookies!

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Chicken Fricassee

Remember when I told you about my awesome new little recipe book from my friend? (See post here). I tried another recipe last night and it was a big hit…again!

Chicken Fricassee

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2-1 onion (depending on the size)
  • 1/2 of a green pepper
  • few shakes of garlic salt
  • chicken tenders (I used about 6, you want about 2 chicken breasts)
  • 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 2 bottles of beer (any kind is fine)
  • potatoes (peeled and cut into large chunks)- I think I used about 8 medium size yellow potatoes, I will probably use a few less next time
  • green olives, as many as you want
I started by chopping up the onion and green pepper. (Actually, I peeled the potatoes first, cause it takes me FOREVER to peel potatoes if they are small). I then cooked the pepper and onion for a few minutes until the onion is translucent.
Then, I cut up the chicken tenders into thirds (because my were really large and I wanted them to cook evenly). I then added the chicken to the pot and cooked for about five minutes, or until the chicken was cooked through.
Next, I added the tomato sauce, the beer and the olives and cooked for another five minutes. I used the large green olives stuffed with pimento. Note: next time I will definitely slice up the olives first. Some bites had a little too much olive and some bites needed a small slice of olive.
After five minutes, I added the potatoes and brought the whole thing to a boil. I then covered the pot, reduced the heat to a good simmer and let the pot cook for 30 minutes.
While the potato and chicken mix was simmering, I cooked some quinoa to serve under the fricassee and boiled some corn to serve on the side. Yay for the first corn of the season!!!! I then served the fricassee over the quinoa with the corn on a separate side plate. It was delicious. Bf added a little pepper and I added a little salt and it was delicious!

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Confetti Cake with Fudge Frosting

First, I want to apologize for my absence this week. I made a rice pudding which I wanted to write about, but frankly, it was so disappointing and looked so unappealing (there were definitely references to bathroom behavior by my bf. Yes it was that bad looking), that I didn’t even take any final pictures. Maybe, one day when I’m bored, I’ll bring out my half-done photos and discuss it. Plus, I had friends over last weekend and cooked up a storm, so I just wasn’t in the mood to cook this week. (I made my goat cheese and asparagus quiche, the lemonade layer cake, and a green bean recipe. I forgot to take pictures of the green beans though, so I’ll have to make it again and document). Alas, I had nothing to really write about until now.

When I get sad about going to California and leaving my bf (which is often), I do my best to console myself by thinking about the things I am looking forward to having around. First on the list, being close to my family again (no offense guys but being able to attend and watch Giants games on the television is a close second).  Part of my thinking-about-family time includes planning all of the nummies that I want to make for them. (If you haven’t heard of the word nummies, you need to hop on the bandwagon pronto).

 

Fabulous Pink Cake

This cake is my recent obsession.  I have two nieces who I’m particularly fond of and I will finally be around to celebrate their birthdays. Look at the cake below and tell me that doesn’t scream “little girl birthday cake”. I have visions of three little round tiers with pink frosting and edible white pearl accents. Way over the top? Most definitely. But if a little girl birthday isn’t the occasion for over-the-top-ness, I don’t know what is. So my mission: Find a way to create this cake and this frosting and then make it in three small tiers. Due date: December 16. I know I have started a really long time in advance, but I figure one I get the tiers right, it can be recreated for any holiday. Fourth of July with red and blue sprinkles and white frosting: awesome. Halloween cake with orange and black sprinkles: check. Christmas with red and green sprinkles, with white frosting and holly accents: most definitely. I am obsessed, I know.

Step one: make the cake with sprinkles. This was my task last night. I decided, since I have so much time between now and my due date, that I can afford to take it one step at a time and make sure I get them right. (Plus, I didn’t have any powdered sugar, so I couldn’t go with my usual frosting methods and had to try something new).

First, I made the vanilla cake (from a box, gasp! I know, how could I?). But seriously, those box mixes are mighty delicious. I sprinkled a bunch of sprinkles into the batter before I poured it into the pan. Not the best idea. They all sort of sunk to the bottom while the oven finished heating up (my oven has been wacky lately and takes forever to get hot). So next time, I’m going to try sprinkling them on top of the cake once it’s in the pan and then letting them sit for just a minute so they can sink into the batter, but not to the bottom.

These were the only multi-colored sprinkles I had in my pantry, so I used them. They taste good and expand nicely in the cake, but they are too big. So you end up with spots of color and then pieces with no color at all. Maybe, I didn’t use enough, but I don’t think so. Next time, I’m definitely going to try the multi-colored sugar sprinkles (you know, the ones that are nice and tiny). Also, this type of sprinkle has brown sprinkles in them, which is weird once you have brown frosting on the cake. It makes it look like there was some sort of frosting debacle. But, I consider this test run a success because I can make the cake better next time.

I baked the cake at 350 for about 30 minutes until I could insert a toothpick and it came out cleanly.

Next up? Frosting. Once the cake was cooled, I put the sugar, light cream and butter in a sauce pan and brought the mix to a boil was stirring constantly. Then, I turned down the heat to medium and cooked the mix for two minutes (while stirring).

Then, I added the chocolate chips, stirred until smooth, and turned off the heat. I poured the vanilla in, stirred again and let the frosting cool for about ten minutes. The frosting is REALLY rich. They aren’t kidding when they say fudge. I probably would use a little less chocolate chips next time, although the chocolate monster that is my bf would disagree, he loved the frosting.

Once the frosting had cooled a bit (it doesn’t have to be totally cool, just not hot or warm. More lukewarm), I poured it on the cake and let it sit. I was really worried because the frosting was rather runny, but once it cools and hardens, it was perfect.

As you can see from this photo, the sprinkles were all clumped at the bottom, but boy was it delicious!

 

 

Frosting Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream (or light cream)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Baguette with Butter Bean Puree, Arugula and Parmesan

There are really only so many times one can have pasta or chicken or meat. I definitely have a certain type of recipe I like, but I really have been making an effort to branch out recently. With that experimentation, there are bound to be major flops. Luckily my balance between success and failure has been pretty good, but it hasn’t stopped bf from occasionally being skeptical. When I told him we were having this “sandwich” for dinner and then showed him the recipe, he said “where’s the sandwich?” Let’s just say he was less than enthusiastic about my idea. But he was kind enough to give me the benefit of the doubt and try it anyway. We both thought that the dish was amazing, definitely something I’d make again. It’s incredibly easy, less than 15 minutes from start to finish, and healthy too!

Baguette with Butter Bean Puree, Arugula and Parmesan

from BrokeAss Gourmet 

  • 1 15-oz. can butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small handful fresh basil leaves or about a tablespoon of basil
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 very fresh baguette, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh arugula
  • 2 oz. fresh Parmesan
First, I put the beans, olive oil, garlic, basil and juice of the lemon in my mini-cuisinart.
I blended the mix until it was smooth and then added some salt and pepper and mixed again.
I sliced the ends of the baguette, then cut the baguette in half and then sliced both pieces length wise. I then spread a generous amount of the bean spread on each piece of the baguette.
Then I placed several pieces of arugula on top of the bean spread, drizzled olive oil on top of the arugula, and finally sprinkled the lemon zest and Parmesan on top. Then we each dug in! The sandwiches seem like they aren’t a full dinner, but the beans are so rich that I was stuffed and couldn’t even finish my second piece!

 

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