Welcome to Sarah's Adventures in Culinary Experimentation

This blog is for posting recipes I've experimented with while teaching myself to cook. Some I have taken from my favorite recipe books, others are purely my own experimentations. My audience is usually just my husband, my toddler daughter, and I and we are living on a tight budget. Sometimes you might find a splurge.

Hopefully you'll find something here that you like!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Damhead Organic Deliveries Week 1

We got our first Organic Fruit and Veg box delivered on Tuesday from Damhead farms. Here is a breakdown of what we got:

Small Fruit Bag (23 fruit items 9.80pounds/0.41p an item)
4 oranges
5 bananas
7 apples
4 plums
3 pears

Small Fruit & Veg Box (43 total items 10pounds/0.23p an item)
2 oranges
5 bananas
5 apples
1 courgette
3 leeks
2 little lettuce heads
3 tomatoes
4 parsnips
1 rutabaga
4 carrots
4 small onions
8 potatoes (various sizes)

By Satuday, November 1st, we have already gone through almost everything. Here is what we have left:

4 oranges, 2 bananas, 6 apples, 4 plums, 1 pear, and 1 courgette.

We only ate out once since the delivery. The fruit we didn’t do anything special with. A recipe came with the bag of Fruit and Veg, but we didn’t find it until we were cleaning out the bag to return it. It was for Winter Vegetable Minestrone Soup. I hope to cook it, as it looks very delicious and hearty. Here are some of the recipes I made with the items we received:

Parsnip, Carrot, and Potato Pancakes
(Makes 10 medium pancakes)
2 parsnip
2 carrots
3 potatoes
2 onions
1 cup all purpose flower
3 eggs
Salt and Pepper
Butter or Olive Oil for cooking

1. Peel and shred parsnips, carrots, and potatoes. Dice the onion.

2. In a bowl, at 1 cup all purpose flour and 3 eggs (pre-whisk the eggs before adding). Add salt and pepper as you prefer.

3. In a hot pan, add the butter/olive oil and start spooning in mixture to make little pancakes. Cook through on one side and then flip to cook the over side.

4. Lightly salt when you take them out of the pan. Serve with apple sauce, sour cream or ketchup, as you prefer!

Parsnip, Carrot, Rutabaga and Leek Cream Soup
(Serves 3-4)
2 parsnip (peeled and diced)
2 carrot (peeled and diced)
1 rutabaga (peeled and diced)
2 leek (cleaned, chopped, don’t use dark green area)
2 Knorr Vegetable Cubes
8 cups water
1 cup heavy cream

1. Heat the water and Vegetable Cubes to boiling.

2. Add the parsnips, carrots, rutabaga, and leeks. Cook until tender.

3. Drain, saving broth, and put into food processors. Blend until smooth, adding liquid. Put through a fine strainer if you want it really smooth, but otherwise it’ll have a few lumps.

4. Put back into pot and add 1 cup heavy cream. Stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Oriental Lettuce Cup
(Serves 2-3)
2 heads lettuce (tiny cups)
2 pound ground beef
2 TBSP Chinese 5 Spice
3 eggs
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp diced garlic
1 jar Housin Sauce

1. Cook the ground beef in a pan with the Chinese 5 Spice. Drain off grease and set aside.

2. Mix three eggs in a bowl with soy sauce and diced garlic. Salt and pepper as preferred. Put 2 TBSP butter or margarine in a pan and scramble the eggs while they cook in the pan until light and fluffy and cooked as you prefer.

3. Lay out the lettuce slices, so that they appear like little cups. Make sure they’re dry.

4. Lay some of the egg on the lettuce. Then cover it with the ground beef. Add a tsp of housing sauce over the top. Wrap and eat.

Potato and Leek Cream Soup
(serves 2)
4 potatoes (skinned and diced)
2 leeks (chopped, don’t use the dark green part)
3/4 cup double cream (heavy cream)
2 Knorr Chicken Cubes
6 cups water

1. Heat up the water and chicken cubes. Put in the diced potatoes and leeks.

2. Cook until extremely tender. Drain and save the broth.

3. Put the potatoes and leeks in a food processor with 1 cup of the broth from the cooking. Puree until smooth. Add more liquid as needed.

4. Then pour back in pan and add 3/4 cup double cream and mix thoroughly on very low heat until fully combined. It should be a very smooth, thin cream soup.

Tuna and Potato Bake
(serves 2)
4 potatoes (skinned and diced)
3 tomatoes (+4 non-organic tomatoes)
2 small onions (diced)
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp yellow, spicy mustard
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 can preferred tuna (drained)
Salt and pepper

1. Roast Tomatoes in halves and then chop into quarters. Dice small onions and cook them in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil until slightly soft. Skin and dice potatoes and cook them in water under soft.

2. Let the tomatoes and onions cool. When cool, add mayonnaise, mustard, and tuna.

3. Drain potatoes and spread on the bottom of a small baking dish. Let cool slightly. Salt and pepper. Pour tuna mixture over the potatoes. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.

4. Put under broiler for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly brown. Serve.

Next week we’re debating over what box we want to get. We like the amount of fruit, but we want more veg, I think. There was a salad bag they had listed which gives us peppers and things. We’re actually discussing testing the Large Fruit and Veg box which seems to have everything and will probably give us the amounts we want, since we do cook at home pretty much every night.

As of week one, I think it was really great. I’m worried about how soup seems to be the primary recipe to work with having so many vegetables. So I have a lot of research to do to try to find out how to expand what I can cook, because Ray does not like having soup every single day, despite it being winter. I can't wait to see what next Tuesday will bring.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Damhead Organic Farm and Shop

About a month ago I received an e-mail from my University Student Association. In it was a note about fulfilling the requests of students to get discount organic produce delivered straight to their doors in Edinburgh, since living in the city makes it hard and expensive to find good organic produce. This notice intrigued me, not simply because I have enjoyed cooking and have fallen in love with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables since expanding my mind to embrace more healthy cooking, but because 90% of my friends are vegetarians!

When I lived back in the United States, I knew one vegetarian. And even that one vegetarian was pretty loose in her interpretation of being a vegetarian (she was 12 when she started consciously accepting the lifestyle and is now 15). I know the lifestyle, as it was all the rage for a while in the media and due to protests. So I was familiar with the different levels of being a vegetarian that sprung up in the United States. Most of my friends, though, were so anti-vegetable that they listed themselves as strictly meat and potatoes people! That too was a bit too extreme for my taste. I liked a decent amount of vegetables, but they were not my favorite thing in the world.

In March 2007 I started making changes to my lifestyle and the types of things I was eating. Immediately I started focusing on adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet so that they consumed the bulk of what I was eating. I started eating bell peppers (raw and cooked), as well as raw tomatoes (which I HATED). Since moving to Edinburgh in August 2007 (where being a vegetarian seems to be a popular way of life, fully rejecting meat and meat products), I have become what I like to call a "part-time vegetarian." The bulk of what we cook is vegetable, but we still enjoy meat and other non-vegetarianism things in their various forms. But our emphasis on fruits and vegetables as accounting for at least 75% of what we eat in a day is strong.

So when I saw that notice, I thought "what a great idea!" Fresh, organic fruit and veg delivered straight to my door?!?! And what a cooking challenge to be assigned different fruits and veg each week! I've never cooked with swede (rutabaga) and parsnip before. The only vegetable we eat tons of that doesn't seem to appear in the more recent boxes is broccoli, but our local grocer provides it really cheaply (1pound a head). Its not strictly organic, but we love broccoli too much to be picky.

Let me share the website with you, so that you can see what I am talking about. They are called Damhead Organic Farm and Shop. They are based right outside of Edinburgh and deliver your food to you weekly, fortnightly or monthly. You can order from their organic store or you can sign up for box deliveries. We signed up for a box delivery. For our first week we ordered the small fruit and veg box and a fruit bag. Ray LOVES his fruit and I am trying to eat more fruit for breakfast (mostly apples and bananas), plus they had a good selection in their fruit bag this week.

I am excited to see how this will work out. The extra fruit bag was a little splurge on our part, but the vegetable box is reasonable (only 12 pounds) and I get a 10% student discount and free delivery! Then the rest of our money would only have to be spent occasionally on some meats, grains, and dairy. But considering 70% of our diet consists of fruits and vegetables, I think 12pounds (or this week for example 22pounds) is a really great deal!

So my goal is to start thinking about the different ways I can use the items supplied in the box and I hope to post recipes for them. I also think it is a great way to help support local farmers and the local economy. So might I recommend that if you are interested in fresh, organic produce, you check out your local area and see what is available. It might be worth it and you might cut down on your grocery bill, as well as gas and other bills depending on your lifestyle and what offers are available.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Garlic Bread Soup

I got this from marthastewart.com and it just looked so delicious! We had it as an accompaniment to the stuffed peppers. It turned out ok and was VERY garlicy. So be prepared.

Garlic Bread Soup
Makes 5 cups; serves 4

Use a high-quality olive oil for the best flavor in this rustic soup. If you don't have stale bread on hand, lightly toast fresh bread, and tear it into small pieces.

Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 40 minutes

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
2 TBSP garlic paste
2 cups bite-size pieces stale crusty bread (4 ounces)
5 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs, beaten

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic paste; cook, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant but not browned, about 10 minutes.

Add bread, and stir to coat. Stir in stock and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.

Discard bay leaf. Stir in eggs. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up eggs, about 10 minutes. Serve soup garnished with parsley leaves.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beef and Potato Burritos

Beef and Potato Burritos

For less spicy burritos, remove the jalapeno ribs and seeds before chopping. I think I got this recipe from marthastewart.com, but I am not sure. It was part of a list of recipes I compiled from online that I wanted to try. This one turned out pretty good.

Prep: 30 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

1 large baking potato
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno chile, finely chopped
1 can (14 ounces) chopped tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
Coarse salt
flour tortillas (10-inch)
cup sour cream
grated Monterey Jack or preferred taco cheese

1. Peel potatoes; cut into 1/2-inch dice. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add potato; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 6 minutes.

2. Add beef, onion, and jalapeno; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until beef is thoroughly browned, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and juice, cumin, paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid has evaporated, about 6 minutes.
3. Heat tortillas, one at a time, in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, turning once, until lightly browned, about 10 seconds.

4. Leaving space on bottom and sides, layer tortillas with sour cream, lettuce, beef mixture, cheese, and cilantro, if using; squeeze lime juice on top. Fold bottom upward, covering filling by 2 inches. Fold each side to overlap, leaving the top end open. Serve garnished with lime wedges.

Savory "French Toast" and Molho

Savory "French Toast" and Molho
3-4 Servings

6 eggs
1 TBSP chilli powder
1 TBSP cumin
salt & pepper
1 foot long loaf of ciabatta bread

Beat 6 eggs with chilli powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Cut your bread into thin slices (1/2 inch or less).

Soak the bread slices in the egg mixture and then put into hot frying pan.

Cook as you would french toast. Make sure you don't burn them. Flip back and forth until you feel they are cooked through. It should make about 20 pieces (including ends).

Arrange the slices on a plate and spoon molho over the bread. Don't be scared to add some of the juices. The bread will soak it up.

I use molho all the time as a get way to add vegetables to many dishes that might otherwise have simply filler veggies (like lettuce). I always keep a container of it in the fridge. I got the recipe from my mother-in-law who got it from her mother, I think. I use it so often and I have dabbled with it so much that I really should make a little log of "101 Ways to Use Molho". We'll see.

Here's the recipe (altered a tad) so you can use it with this recipe. I will post an entry again discussing the recipe.

3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 onions diced (I alternate between onions to create different flavors)
2 diced bell peppers (I alternate colors to create differents flavors)
2-3 tomatoes diced (or 6 small tomatoes if you're in the UK buying those packs)
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sausage, Beans and Broccoli Rabe Soup

Another favorite that I got from the FoodNetwork.com website. This was done by Rachael Ray on her show 30 Minute Meals on the episode Rainy Day Relief. Late I'll post the delicious mozzerella sandwich that she did also which goes beautifully with this soup as a comfort on those rainy days.

Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
1 1/4 pounds Italian bulk sweet sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into small dice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cans white beans, drained
Salt and pepper
4 cups chopped broccoli rabe and greens
2 quarts chicken stock
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, to pass at table

Heat medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and sausage and brown. Add veggies, bay leaf and beans. Season with salt and pepper. Cook mixture 5 minutes to begin to soften the vegetables. Add rabe and wilt. Add stock and cover pot. Raise heat and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve soup with grated cheese, for topping.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fusilli with Sausage, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This recipe is from foodnetwork.com and was done by Giada De Laurentiis on her show Everyday Italian in the episode Stress-Free Italian. So you know its an easy recipe. If you had Christmas lunch with us in 2006, this is the pasta dish we cooked. I've tweaked it over the years as I've cooked it more and more often, so don't be scared to make the recipe your own.

Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 2 tablespoons of oil reserved
1 pound Italian hot sausages, casings removed
2 (8-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts (I use canned, quartered artichokes, drained)
2 large cloves garlic, chopped (2 teaspoons minced garlic)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
16 ounces fusilli pasta
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
8 ounces water-packed fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed, optional (do not use shredded mozz)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil reserved from the tomatoes in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown, breaking up the meat into bite-size pieces with a fork, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl. Add the artichokes and garlic to the same skillet, and saute over medium heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Boil over medium-high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the fusilli in boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta (do not rinse). Add the pasta, sausage, 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, and parsley to the artichoke mixture. Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta. Stir in the mozzarella. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve, passing the additional Parmesan cheese alongside.

Note: We took out the parmesan cheese and it tasted quite good.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Randomly Desperate Vegetable Medley

Randomly Desperate Vegetable Medley

1 TBSP butter or margarine
1 can sweet corn nibblets
1 head broccoli
1 zucchini
1 red onion
1 package of cherry tomatoes
270 g package of 3 bean salad (borolotti, kidney, and cannelloni beans) - I used a Sainsbury 3 Bean Salad
1 sweet pepper
1 tsp minced mint
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

On a cookie sheet or broiling pan put the sliced (or chunked) zucchini, the chunk cut red onion, the cherry tomatoes (whole) and the sweet pepper (chunked). Put them under the broiler until tender. Splash with a little bit of olive oil (specifically the tomatoes, sweet pepper and onion. Also add a little salt and pepper for flavor.

In a small pan on the stove combine the corn and three bean salad with the butter. Heat until tender.

Cook the broccoli however you prefer. Try to use mostly tops and not have long stems on the bottom. Cut the flourettes in half in they’re too big.

As each component finishes cooking, throw into a large mixing bowl. Get some fresh mint and mince and toss with the salad.

Serve with whatever meat you like. It’s just a hearty salad and can also be eaten on its own. Eat bite is its own flavor explosion and its really delicious!

We paired the veggie medley with some lamb and chicken kabobs from a local kabob place. This, combined with a pita, was absolutely delicious. And since the kabobs are grilled, it was relatively healthy as well.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Creamy Tuna and Pasta

Creamy Tuna and Pasta

Ray and I made this a month or two ago and I found it when going through my recipes that I hadn't posted. I got it off of the Sainsbury's website and it turned out really delicious.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Nutrition per serving: 452 calories, 25g fat (of which saturated fat 9g), 0.69g salt, 3g sugar

200g pasta (we used penne)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped (or an onion if you can't find shallots)
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
100g mushrooms, chopped (didn't add because I am allergic)
185g can tuna, drained
3 tablespoons double cream
freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water, according to the pack instructions.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small frying pan and cook the shallots and green pepper until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

3. Stir in the tuna and cream and heat through. Season to taste.

4. Drain the pasta and toss with the tuna sauce.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Delia's Waldorf Chicken Salad

Delia is a British chef who has her own popular website. This salad was made for Ray for the first time by his boss, Andrew. Ray decided to make it for dinner tonight.

1 x 2 lb 4 oz (1 kg) cooked chicken
4 sticks of celery (4 oz/110 g), chopped
8 spring onions,chopped (including the green parts)
2 oz (50 g) walnut halves, roughly chopped
6 oz (175 g) seedless black grapes, halved (however many you want)
a few lettuce leaves
sprigs of watercress, to garnish

For the dressing:
1 teaspoon sea salt (half that if you are using regular salt)
2 cloves garlic (1 tsp minced garlic)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 rounded tablespoons mayonnaise
2 heaped dessertspoons natural yoghurt (greek natural yoghurt)
freshly milled black pepper

Begin by stripping the skin from the chicken and discarding it. Then remove the flesh from the bones and slice it into longish, 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick pieces, and place these in a large bowl. Next, add the chopped celery to the bowl, together with the spring onions and chopped walnuts.

Now for the dressing: place the salt in a mortar and crush it quite coarsely, then add the garlic and, as you begin to crush it and it comes into contact with the salt, it will quickly break down to a puree. Next add the tarragon, mayonnaise and yoghurt with a few twists of freshly milled pepper and blend everything together thoroughly. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss everything together well to get a good coating of the dressing. Arrange some lettuce leaves in a large, shallow serving dish, pile the chicken salad on top, sprinkle the grapes all over, and, if you like, garnish with sprigs of watercress.

Note: We doubled the dressing, but not the salt. It was really delicious. We just used a whole pack of chicken too. I did the assembly, but this was something my husband, Ray, put together. It was so delicious I said we need to eat this like 1-2 times a week. It was fresh, filling, and easy to make.

Sorry no pictures. Maybe next time.

This recipe is from deliaonline.com as recommended by Andrew.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quick and Easy Potato Pancakes

Quick and Easy Potato Pancakes
(Makes Roughly 20)
I couldn't help it, I had to post this recipe, as simple as it is and regardless of how anti-carb many of you are.

I learned how to make a simple potato pancake which was easy, delicious, and the leftovers stored beautifully.

Peel and shred (which a cheese shredder… use the larger shredder style) 4-5 medium potatoes. Then dice 1 medium yellow onion. If you are gutsy enough, shred the onion as well. Then add two eggs and 1.5 - 2 cups of flour. Depending on how wet your mixture is, slowly add the last 1/2 cup of flour. It should have a batter that looks similar to the thickness of a good pancake batter (not runny pancake batter). Make sure you add salt and pepper, else they will be flavorless. Spice them up by adding a small pinch of dried chilies or fresh cut chilies. I think a shredded cheddar might go well in it (but that's for testing later).
Then get your pan nice and hot. Use butter (or marg) and scoop the mixture into the pan. Make whatever size pancake you want. Let it cook on one side until it starts to lightly brown around the edges (like a normal pancake) then flip and then cook through.

Then serve with whatever you desire (sour cream, apple sauce, etc). They were so much better than any prepackaged pancake I have EVER had. Even Ray, who does not like potato pancakes, loved them!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Cheese Sauce with Vegetables, Meatballs, and Tagliatelle

Cheese Sauce with Vegetables, Meatballs, and Tagliatelle

Veggie Medley
2 courgette (zucchini) - cut into chunks
1 Ramiro Peppers (long red pepper, usually has a sweet taste) - cut into chunks
1 large onion - cut into chunks
15 cherry tomatoes (or however many you want) - halved
1 head of broccoli - cut as close to the top in small pieces

On a tray lay down the courgettes and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and salt and paper on them, cover them with foil and put in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Then move to the broiler, uncover. Drain off any water before broiling. Broil until slightly browned.

In a frying pan, on medium-low cook the chunked onions and chunk peppers until tender or preferred crispiness.

Cook the broccoli in water in a pot until at desired tenderness.

When everything is almost done, put the tomatoes under the broiler until slightly tender, but still whole.

Combine in a bowl together.

500g ground beef (a little over 1lb beef)
1 egg
1 TBSP Worchester Sauce
2 TBSP whole grain mustard
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red peppers
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Make the meatballs as small as possible, or to whatever size you would prefer. Just make sure they are not too small, or they may get too dry. Cover with foil and cook for about 15 minutes at 350. If you make them very small, it will take less time. Just check on them often.

When done, put into large mixing bowl with vegetables, unless you have large meatballs and want to designate a certain number per serving.

Jarlsburg Cheese Sauce
2 TBSP water
1 Knorr chicken bullion cube
286g jarlsburg cheese (shredded)
1/3 cup double cream (heavy cream)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 small (very small) onion or half a normal sized onion
2 TBSP butter

Sautee onions, bullion, and garlic on a low heat with butter until lightly colored. Then, still on a low heat, add the shredded cheese, butter, pepper and cream. After a bit creamy, add water to thin it out.

Make sure not to curdle the sauce, so keep it on very very low.

How to serve:
In a bowl, place the noodles. On top of that place your vegetable and meatball mixture. Then top with 2-3 spoonfuls of cheese sauce, depending on how much you want.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cheese Sauce over Tagliatelle Pasta with Broccoli

Cheese Sauce over Tagliatelle Pasta with Broccoli

Cut off the tops of the broccoli so you have a lot of small florets. Steam them until they are tender.

Cook your pasta.

Jarlsburg Cheese Sauce
2 TBSP water
1 Knorr chicken bullion cube
286g jarlsburg cheese (shredded)
1/3 cup double cream (heavy cream)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 small (very small) onion or half a normal sized onion
2 TBSP butter

Sautee onions and garlic on a low heat with a little extra virgin olive oil until lightly colored. Then, still on a low heat, added the shredded cheese, butter, bullion cube, pepper and cream. Save the water for last in case you mixture is too thick. Use it as a thinning agent.

Put pasta in serving bowl. Add broccoli. Pour cheese sauce over. Do this individually or in a large bowl. It is up to you.

You can serve this with a breaded white fish on top or maybe some chicken. We intend to experiment to find the best meat. And tomorrow we're going to make this again, no meat, but with lots of veggies like zucchini, vine ripe cherry tomatoes, broccoli and onions. Will post.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Poor Students Lunch

1 wheat roll
2 triangles laughing cow cheese (or cheaper spreadable cheese)
1 apple

Put cheese on roll and smoosh together like a sandwich.

Peal apple with swiss army knife.

Happy eating!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sarah's Chili Con Carne

(Serves 6-8... good for bulk cooking and freezing)

With White Rice

2 500g packages of ground beef (or preferred mince)
400g tomato paste
3 cans diced tomatoes (with liquid)
2 green bell pepper (diced and deseeded)
2 Ramiro Peppers (long red pepper, usually has a sweet taste) - (diced and deseeded)
2 cans kidney beans (drained and rinsed... if they have them with chili sauce, get those... I know Sainsbury does)
2 onions (yellow or white... diced)
8-10 slices of the jarred jalapenos in vinegar (dice them)
2 beef bullion cubes (Knorr brand is the best)
1/3 cup Worchester Sauce
1-2 cups water (depending on how thick you want it)
5 TBSP Cumin
5 TBSP Coriander
1.5 TBSP Chili Powder (hot)
1 TBSP Salt
1 TBSP ground black pepper

For Serving:
Preferred rice (wholegrain, brown, white, etc)
Sour Cream

Brown the meat with the onions. Drain off as much grease as possible when it's done. You can also, after you drain it, dump it on a plate covered in paper towel to pat off the excess.

Put the meat into a slow cooker. Depending on your slow cooker setting, I had mine turned on high (I only have high, medium, and low) and it cooked well in 4 hours. The key is to let it simmer. So if you don't want to use a slow cooker, turn your stove on medium low or low and cover everything.

To the meat add the rest of the ingredients, saving the water for last. Add one cup and if you still feel its too little, just add a little more until you feel it'll be the right consistency. I only added 2 cups and it didn't look like enough, but once the veggies started cooking it became more liquidy. So just be lean on the water. You can add more as you go if you don't feel you added enough.

Let simmer until the peppers are soft or until at desired taste/style. You should be able to tell when it's the type of done you want. Just cook it slow and it'll turn out great!

Use brown or white rice. Some also prefer noodles. It's up to you what you do with the chili when it is done. Enjoy!

With Brown Rice

Friday, July 25, 2008

Gnocchi with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce

Gnocchi with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce
(Serves 2-3)

I just buy the gnocchi pre-made, which is the easiest. I have yet to really experiment with making it myself, but this entire meal takes like 10 minutes. So follow the directions on your gnocchi package (probably boiling them) and once they’re done and drained, mix with the sauce and serve.

Vodka Cream Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium chopped onion
2 tablespoon vodka
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 cup preferred Tomato Sauce

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften. Add the vodka, cream, and tomato sauce, and simmer until the flavors blend, 2 to 3 minutes.

Finish the dish with a small handful of shredded mozzarella cheese. It'll melt in and tie it all together.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Devil’s Delight

Devil’s Delight
(Makes roughly 82)

Finished Devil's Delight

Mini muffin tray
Piping Bag with tip or Piping injector

Devils Food Cake Mix (and the required ingredients - eggs, oil, water)
Strawberries (UK strawberries are small, so you will probably only need 1 strawberry for ever 6 muffins if you get normal US sized strawberries)
2/3 c. sugar
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg
8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature (1/2 cup butter)
3 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Start with the Sweet Cream Cheese filling.

Sweet Cream Cheese Filling
2/3 c. sugar
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg

Sweet Cream Cheese Filling

In a bowl, beat 2/3 cup sugar, cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla and egg until fluffy. Put aside until ready for piping. Then work on the frosting.

Butter Cream Frosting
8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature (1/2 cup butter)
3 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Butter Cream Forsting

Place butter in large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop mixer and add next ingredients (use only 3 tablespoons of milk to start). Blend on low for about 1 minute and then scrape sides. Blend on medium speed for another 1 minute until light and fluffy. If the frosting seems too stiff, add the other tablespoon of milk. (Before I was done, I beat it on high until smooth, light, and fluffy for 30 seconds.) Do not refrigerate, else it will be difficult to spread.

Mix your cake mix and fill your mini muffin cups halfway up (grease tin before filling). Have your oven preheated to the directions on the box. And put your tray into the oven.

Watch the cupcakes very closely and when they are starting to get a little firm, but are still soft (maybe 5 minutes in the oven) pull them out. They can still have a somewhat liquid appearance, so don't fret. You don't want them fully cooked when injecting the filling, because you want the filling to cook into them.

Fill your piping bag or piping injector with the cream cheese filling and use a small round tip. In the middle of the muffins, going about halfway up the tip but not to the bottom of the muffin, inject filling until right before it feels like the muffin will explode. At a slow pressure, you’re adding filling for about 3/1,000 seconds. You can count with Mississippi if you prefer. You will get the hang of it as you go and don’t worry if the cupcake sticks to the tip of your piping, just wipe it off and keep going. They’ll cook over and then you’ll frost them anyways.

Once you are finished piping, put them back in the oven until they are finished cooking (again consult your box directions… maybe 10 minutes). If the cream cheese is browning, its too long.

Take the muffins out and put them on a cooling rack and continue with your next batch until all the cupcake batter is gone.

Colling Muffins

When you are finished you can frost the cupcakes either using a piping tool again or you can carefully frost the top, but you really only want a thin layer of frosting so that you can still taste the middle.

Light Swirls of Frosting

Close-Up on Swirls

Cut up your strawberries and place 1/6 of the strawberry on top, or whatever you prefer. Arrange how you like. It worked better with just one nice slice, instead of these smaller slices.
Strawberry Example

These cupcakes are best enjoyed within 12 hours of making, but are still delicious later. Store your leftover frosting in the refrigerator, but if you are going to use it again, let it sit a little before spreading after refrigeration. The same with the cream cheese filling (it’s a good dip for leftover strawberries).

I recommend only frosting and presenting enough for the group you are making them for and storing your leftovers disassembled, but either way, make sure your muffins are either in ziplock baggies or Tupperware and the same with the other ingredients.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Potato and Onion Soup

Potato and Onion Soup
(Serves 2-3)

Potato and Onion Soup

1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you have it)
5 skinned, boiled, and mashed potatoes
1 TBSP steak seasoning
1 diced onion
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP butter or margarine

Peal, boil and mash the potatoes. Leave chunks if you like a little potato chunk if your soup. Do not use a mixer or make them creamy. Just mash them with a fork or masher.

Sautee onions in 1 TBSP butter until slightly translucent.

In a pot, add the broth, the mashed potatoes, steak seasoning, pepper, salt, 1 TBSP butter, and onions. Let simmer on medium low for 10 minutes, unless you need to make it less chunky by adding a little more broth as needed. Essentialy your just heating everything together.


Note: You can be fancy and dress up the soup when serving by adding some thinly shredded cheddar or mixed cheese (not white cheese) on top.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Meatballs and Veggie Rice

Meatballs and Veggie Rice
Especially for Those Comfort Days

500g ground beef (a little over 1lb beef)
1 egg
1 TBSP Worchester Sauce
2 TBSP whole grain mustard
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp corriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper


2 Uncle Ben's microwave packets of Long Grain Rice
1 Uncle Ben's microwave packet of wholegrain rice
2 chicken bullions
1 can cream of celery soup
3 cups water
1 head of broccoli (mostly the tops)
1/2 onion cut into 1/2in chunks
4 carrots thinly chopped
3 TBSP hot chili powder
1 TBSP cumin
2 TBSP favorite mixed Italian herb seasoning
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 TBSP minced garlic


Mix all the meatball ingredients together, then roll into 1x1in balls. Place in baking pan. Cover with foil and cook for 7 minutes. Then remove the foil and put them under the broiler until nicely browned.

In a pot start to boil the water and add the chicken bullion. Start the add the skinned and chopped up carrots. Make sure they're sliced thin enough to cook quickly. Then add the celery soup (turn the heat to medium) and start to chop of the broccoli into small pieces (or do this all as prep work and throw in all at once). Cut as close to the head of the broccoli flourrets as possible. Then add the onion and minced garlic. Followed by all the seasonings. Once it is mixed together, add the packets of rice. Do not microwave them first.

Let that cook until the liquid is mostly gone. Then serve in a bowl with 3-4 meatballs as pictured. Grate a little parmegion or gruyere over the top and serve.

Meatballs and Veggie Rice

Note: To reduce heat limit the amount of chili powder that is added. Ours was spicy hot chili powder.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jim’s Magnificent Ravioli of Power

As part of a new project I am working on, I decided to use our friend Jim as my first participant. He filled out a questionnaire about his tastes in food and from it, I tried to come up with a recipe that he might like. It doesn’t have to be his favorite, but it will hopefully be something that he could potentially enjoy cooking and could claim as a special dish to cook when company comes over. I don’t know. So here is the dish I created for our friend Jim.

Jim’s Magnificent Ravioli of Power
(AKA Jim’s Meat and Potatoes Ravioli with Gruyere Cheese Sauce)
(6-7 Servings/ 4-5 ravioli each)

The Filling
2/3 package skirt steak
McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning
4 peeled, cubed potatoes
1 head of broccoli
1/2 diced yellow/white onion
1 TBSP butter or margarine
150g cubed Camembert
1/2 TBSP dried chilies
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 TBSP butter or margarine

First bring a pot of water to boil and put the potatoes in. Cook them until they are ready to be mashed. Once drained, place potatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash them with 3 TBSP margarine or butter.

While the potatoes are cooking, start boiling your broccoli. Should only take 8-10 minutes, or until tender. When the potatoes are mashed, drain the broccoli and add it to the mixture, mashing the broccoli into the potatoes.

If you have a third burner and can multi-task, cook the onion with the 1 TBSP butter or margarine. Sautee until somewhat translucent. Add to the mixing bowl.

Add the salt, pepper, and dried chili.

Rinse and prepare your steak. Season each side of the steak lightly with the Steak Seasoning. Either grill until medium or use a frying pan. Once ready, cut as thin as possible at an angle. Then dice the meat and add it to the mixture. Use your masher to integrate everything. Then remove the masher.

Take your camembert and cut off the white outer layer. Then cut into small pieces to add to the mixture. Mix them into the bowl using a spoon. Put this mixture aside while you make the pasta.

Vegetarians: Simply take out the steak. Everything else should be fine.
Non-Beef Eaters: Do not substitute another meat, just take out the steak and eat it as is.

The Pasta (makes about 28-30 ravioli)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

By Hand: On a clean surface make a well with the flour. This well should go all the way to the bottom of your flour mound so that the mixture doesn’t spill out everywhere. In a measuring cup mix the eggs, water and oil and salt. Pour the wet mixture slowly into the flour and mix until all of the wet is incorporated. Do not force the dough to take all of the flour. If you are going to use a pasta machine to roll out the dough you may at this point form the dough into a disk and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour to rest. If you going to roll this by hand you should knead the dough on a floured work surface for 8 to 10 minutes.

By Food Processor: In the bowl of your food processor combine the flour and salt and pulse 2 to 3 times. In a liquid measuring cup whisk the eggs, water and oil. While pulsing the machine pour this mixture in a continuous stream and continue running the machine until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Follow directions above for hand rolling or machine.

Make sure the dough is incorporated well and roll it out as thin as you can make it. Then cut 3-4in x 3-4in circles (a coffee mug is a good mould if you don’t have one). After you cut out each, roll it out a little more with your pin or use your hand so that you are sure it’s a good, thin circle.

Then place 1 TBSP of the mixture into the ring and fold over. Seal the pasta edges. You can either use an egg wash or make little pie crust folds along the edges to ensure it staying together. Put these aside until the water is ready to boil.

To Cook Pasta: boil a pot of water with 1 TBSP of vegetable oil and 1 TBSP salt. Once the water is rapidly boiling, drop in your pastas. Depending on thickness you will probably want to cook your pasta 10-20 minutes.

NOTE: If you really don’t want to make fresh pasta, you can buy wonton wrappers at the grocery store and follow the directions listed on the package.

The White Cheese Sauce
1 chopped onion
2 oz butter
2 oz flour
2 cup milk
2 handful of grated gruyere cheese

Sautee butter and onion on medium heat in saucepan for 2 minutes, add flour and milk and bring to a bubble on high. Add cheese, stir and cook until liquid consistency.

1 large ladle of cheese sauce should cover 4 pastas.

Storage: store your uncooked pastas in a Tupperware container, separating levels with foil if necessary. Store the sauce in normal Tupperware. Reheat carefully in microwave (cheese does burn easily).

Please check back later to find out what to do with leftover mixture, if you have any.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Breaded Eggplant

Breaded Eggplant
(serves 2)

1 large eggplants, cut into round slices ¼ in thick (roughly)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
1 tsp Worchester Sauce
3 cups fine bread crumbs
½ cup extra virgin olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of your pan)

Spread out the eggplant slices on a flat surface and sprinkle with salt. Leave them untouched for about 20 minutes in order to drain off excess water. Dry the slices and dust them with flour. Beat eggs, Tabasco and Worchester sauce. Dip the slices in the eggs and then in bread crumbs. Heat up oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant in hot oil. Only for about 30 seconds on each side (or until crispy brown). Blot on absorbent paper towels. Adjust the salt and serve hot.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

2-Bite Ham Sandwiches

2-Bite Ham Sandwiches
(Serves 5-6)

1 baguette (about 18in long)
4 eggs
½ TBSP Coriander
1 tsp salt
½ TBSP pepper
1-2 packages of thinly sliced ham (one large package should do the trick)
4-6 small tomatoes (should fit on a baguette slice)
Whole gain mustard
Low-fat shredded cheese of your choice (recommended Monterey Jack)

Mix the eggs with the coriander, salt and pepper in a bowl or container where you can immerse the baguette slices. Beat until the mixture is consistently the same color. Add a little Tabasco sauce for some kick if you’d like to spice up the flavor.

Slice baguette at an angle into 1 inch pieces. Soak the pieces in the egg mixture. Then place in a frying pan to cook briefly on each side.

On a cookie sheet or a baking pan, arrange the cooked slices of baguette. On each slice spread a thin layer of whole grain mustard. Then add a slice of tomato. Then allow for two thinly sliced pieces of ham to fall on the baguette.

Once arranged, put them under the broiler for a 5-10 minutes (depending on your broiler), so that the ham gets a little crispy. Pull them out and sprinkle a little of your favorite shredded cheese (a low-fat Monterey Jack cheese might be good) on top. Put them back under the broiler for a few seconds while the cheese melts a tad.

Let cool and enjoy.

Note: a bowl of tomato soup would be a delicious match for this nummy meal.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tasty Tuna Tomatoes

Tasty Tuna Tomatoes

Tasty Tuna Tomatoes

1 can tuna (use the pinkish tuna, not the high quality white albacore tuna)
2 TBSP mayo (or light mayo)
1 TBSP whole grain mustard
1 tsp brown sauce (or steak sauce)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 small tomatoes or 2 normal sized tomatoes
2 slices medium cheddar (light preferred)

Mix the can of tuna with the mayo, mustard, brown sauce, salt and pepper.

Halve the tomatoes and hollow them out. Fill each tomato with tuna.

Place them in a baking dish and put 1/4 slice of cheese on each (if small tomatoes you’ll have 8 halves). If you use the larger tomatoes, cut the pieces of cheese in half like a triangle and place 1/2 a slice of cheese on each tomato.

Bake them in the oven on 350 degrees (of 250 on UK ovens) until the tomato is slightly tender. Make sure you keep them on the rack away from the top of the oven. You should cook them for maybe 10 minutes. Then turn your broiler on when the tomato is tender and just bake the cheese for a few second until it browns just a tad.

Take them out, let them cool for 1-2 minutes and serve.

Note: the tomatoes we use here are about 2inx2in.

(serves 1-2)

Tasty Tuna TomatoesTasty Tuna Tomatoes

Friday, July 4, 2008

Sauceless Vegetable Spaghetti

Sauceless Vegetable Spaghetti
(Serves 4-6)

With Mushrooms

500g spaghetti noodles
1 large onion
2 orange pepper (yellow as an alternative or red as a last resort. Don’t use green)
4 beef tomatoes
1 medium sized red chili (seedless)
12 button mushrooms (or preferred mushroom)
2 TBSP garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 TBSP Salt
2 TBSP pepper

Start a pot of water for the spaghetti noodles. Add salt to the water and a dash or two of olive oil to season and add texture to the noodles. Boil the water and add the noodles. Break noodles in half in desired.
Get a large pot so that you’ll be able to mix the noodles after you cook the veggies. Do not pour the mixture into the noodle pot, because you’ll lose some of the cooked flavor of the pan. If you have a large (surface space large with at least a 3 inch lip around the edge), you can cook the veggies in that. I recommend a pan with a lot of surface area to really integrate flavors.

Slice the onion and pepper into thin strips. Throw them in the second pot with the garlic, ¼ cup olive oil, salt and pepper. As they start to wilt (Medium High), deseed the red chili and cut into four vertical strips, then slice horizontally (so essentially dice your chili into large pieces). Cut in half and then deseed the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into 1/2 inch strips (about the width of your pinky finger or a little less if you think it’s too big). Also cut up the mushrooms (buy them precut if you prefer).

When the onions and peppers are close to losing their crispness, add the tomatoes and mushrooms, turn down to medium low. When you feel the veggies are at your preferred crispness (some like their peppers more cooked, so like them with a bit of crunch left), add your rinsed and drained pasta to the pot. Turn on low and toss the noodles with the veggies.

When done tossing, turn the heat off. Let it set for a minute or two and serve.

Note: I don't add mushrooms to mine, because I have a negative reaction to mushrooms. So some flavors might be a little different. My husband loves mushrooms and he loved his, but he said the dish with and without had a slightly different flavor. Experiment for what you like. Might even add a white wine when cooking the veggies.

Without Mushrooms

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sarah's Flavorful Burgers

Sarah's Flavorful Burgers
(Serves 6-8 depending on burger size)

2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mayo (or 2 eggs)
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 TBSP cumin
1 TBSP coriander
2 TBSP minced garlic
1 diced green chili (remove seeds to reduce heat and emphasize flavor)
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP pepper

Mix all ingredients VERY WELL in a large bowl. Then make your preferred sized patties. The larger/thinner the patty, the more flimsy it might be. Grill or use your oven. Cook as desired on each side. Don't flip back and forth frequently, because the patties might be tender. The grill might not be the best way to do it, if you feel the mixture isn't staying together. A double layered drainable cooking pan might be best. (we aren't allowed to grill in the backyard, so we have to cook inside)

Prepare other ingredients as desired (buns, ketchup, etc.).

For a more fun flavor, sauté mushrooms and put them on the bottom of the bun. Then mix curry (1 TBSP) with ketchup (1 cup). Add this ratio for however much you need to make. Put the ketchup on top with the rest of your cold desired additives. Onions can go on the bottom with the mushrooms. If you want to add cheese, add your desired cheese on top.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Spur-of-the-Moment Arroz con Pollo

I came up with this delicious and simple recipe this evening while procrastinating from working and waiting for Ray to get home.... I couldn't believe how easy it was and how delicious it turned out. It is partly inspired by a dish my mother-in-law, Nora, makes called Arroz con Pollo (but without the saffron). So here it is......

Spur-of-the-Moment Arroz con Pollo


1 can diced tomatoes (drained) - two cans if you think one doesn't cut it
1 can corn (drained)
1 can pitted black olives (drained) - might need only half a can
2 packets premade microwaveable Uncle Ben's rice (Pilau flavored, Spanish flavored, whatever floats your boat) - microwave both packets before adding
1 lb chicken breast (diced)
2 cups white wine (just sub water if you don't have wine... its simply a flavor additive)
1 tsp olive oil (for pan)
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp cumin
1/2 packet fajita seasoning
salt and pepper

Brown a pound of diced chicken with 1tsp olive oil, 2 cups white wine, 2 tsp chopped garlic, 1tsp cumin, 1/2 packet fajita seasoning, a dash of salt and pepper as preferred.

Throw all the ingredients into a pot with the browned chicken and let simmer on med for 15 minutes (stirring as needed). Salt and pepper to taste.

(Serves roughly 4-6)