Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ravioli, Meatballs & Chocolate Pie - 12/27/2007

One of my family members, Sandy, (I am not sure what the name is for our specific familial relationship), was intent on teaching me to make traditional ravioli, so here is what happened.


Every great pasta dinner needs a sauce and every great Italian dinner needs too much food, so here is the sauce with the meatballs that were the side dish to our pasta. The sauce started with sauteed garlic, some browned sausage and pork loin strips. To make more of a sauce, Sandy added crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. We let the sauce cook for a while before adding meatballs (prepared with beef, breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, garlic, and salt). Then this mixture simmered for many hours until dinner.

Cheese Ravioli

The first set of ravioli was made in half-moon shapes with ricotta-parsley filling. Let me tell you, creamy fillings are very tough to make into ravioli since they interfere with the seal-ability of the dough. I failed on about 6 of these because of this problem. But these ravioli, despite their simplicity, ended up very light and delicious.

Beef Ravioli

The second set of ravioli were meant to be heavier so we made a slightly thicker dough. The filling is mostly beef, but it was surprisingly lighter because of some added spinach and lemon juice. These were made in a simpler fashion that yielded rectangular ravioli of varying sizes.

Chocolate Pudding Pie

While making ravioli, I commented that I have had previous difficulty with doughs, especially pastry dough. So Sandy made it her mission to teach me to make a pie dough. We cut some butter into a flour-salt mixture, then slowly added water to make the dough. After some help rolling the dough out, I baked it until golden brown. The filling is sugar-free chocolate pudding (blech, I know but it was all we had at the time), topped with home-made whipped cream (with vanilla and cinnamon), some crumbled no-bake cookies (my stepmom made a batch that didn't turn into cookie, but makes a pretty good topping), and a sprinkling of hot cocoa mix.

Stuffed Tomatoes & Gluten-Free Biscotti - 12/25/2007

As my contribution to Christmas Day dinner, I wanted to make stuffed tomatoes. Ordinarily, I would probably have stuffed them with a couscous mixture and done something a little Italian with a little lemon. My mom, though, has a gluten allergy, so I could not use couscous since it is a small pasta. Instead I used quinoa, a grain rich in protein and deficient in gluten.

Stuffed Tomatoes

I first cooked the quinoa according to the package directions except I used a mixture of 2 parts chicken stock to 1 part white wine to give it some flavor. While it cooked, I took out the centers of the tomatoes and sauteed some zucchini, onions and garlic. Once everything was cooked, I combined the quinoa, saute mixture and some lemon juice. I wanted the primary taste of this dish to come from smoked paprika, a spice I've never used previously. I slowly added smoked paprika along with a bit of salt until the flavor was strong but not overpowering. It is slightly smokey and slightly spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. Once it was all combined, I loaded up the tomatoes and baked them for about 15 minutes. The flavors blended well and I'm proud to say this dish was a success.

My mom enjoyed some gluten-free ginger biscotti I made for her on her trip to Michigan, so I decided to make a couple other varieties as a Christmas gift. Here is a photo of her and her present on Christmas Day:

GF Biscotti

The top set are Michigan cherry-walnut that have been dipped in chocolate. The bottom set are peanut butter. She was very happy and surprised with this gift (which is amazing because she has gift ESP). These "biscotti" are really just a gluten-free cake mix that has been baked, cut into pieces and re-baked until golden brown. Most biscotti are baked as a loaf that is then sliced and re-baked. That is what gives them their characteristic squat-loaf-slice look. But I guess it does not matter since rumor has it everyone enjoyed the first batch of biscotti, gluten tolerant and intolerant alike.

Hark! the Herald Angel Food Bites - 12/24/2007

I've seen enough of the fake sugared fruit as decorations this holiday season that I wanted to make a dessert featuring some. The end result were my Hark! the Herald Angel Food Bites (punny enough for you?).

Angel Food Bites

The original idea was to make a two-layer angel food cake topped with meringue and studded with three rings of sugar-covered cranberries; however, the angel food cake tipped itself over and broke in two. After some brainstorming, I decided to make these bite-sized versions. The bottom layer is an angel food cake made from a mix and instead of water, I added a mixture of whole-berry cranberry sauce, tangerine juice, tangerine zest, cinnamon, and sugar. On top of this layer are, in order, orange marmalade, home-made meringue (egg whites beat with some sugar), and a cranberry rolled in sugar. Here is a close-up:

Angel Food Bites Close-Up

I received many compliments on the look and taste of these treats and most of them went very quickly. Overall, I learned to not give up on my ideas even if they do not go the way you originally intend.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gingerbread Men & Candied Nuts - 12/18/2007

My roommate bought me a gingerbread dough kit for Christmas, so I thought I would give it a shot. It was rather straight-forward and simple. The cookies came out nice, soft and tasty. I did not decorate them, mostly because their heads kept popping off. It looked like they were having their own French Revolution in their plastic bag, though I could not tell which one was Robespierre.

Gingerbread Men

The majority of my holiday work has been spent working on tweaking my step-mom's recipe for candied pecans. Here are the final results:

Candied Nuts 1

On the left are green tea flavored pecans using some grean tea powder I bought at the local Asian market. Top right are nutmeg-clove-cinnamon pecans. The usual recipe uses only cinnamon so I thought I would "spice it up" a bit. Bottom right are almonds made with rosemary, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce, among other ingredients.

Candied Nuts 2

Going clockwise from top left: cardamom-ginger-cinnamon pecans, cinnamon-clove-nutmeg cashews (my favorite), cocoa pecans, and orange pecans (second favorite). Many of these varieties came out very good and I would recommend them to all. Tip of the season: watch what measuring spoon you are using. I used a 1.5 tsp (who makes a 1.5 teaspoon?) instead of a 1/2 tsp and tripled the amount of salt in the orange pecans. Needless to say, I remade the batch normally and had to throw out the first batch.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Greek-loaf - 12/14/2007

As promised, here is post number two: Greek meatloaf. I made some very quick Greek chicken yesterday for lunch (cooked chicken + Greek spices + vegetables + 5 minutes), and it inspired me to make this concoction.


Here is the general recipe:
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1T fresh mint, chopped
2T fresh oregano, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
12oz tomato sauce, divided
1 egg
2T Worcestershire sauce
1 cup fresh spinach
7 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into strips
6oz feta, divided
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste
2lbs gound beef (probably should be 3lbs)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients except 4oz tomato sauce, 3oz feta and the ground beef. Add in beef and mix with hands. Do not overwork the meat or else it will make a tough meatloaf. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Press meat mixture into pan. Spread remaining 4oz tomato sauce on top of the loaf. Sprinkle with the remaining 3oz of feta. Put in oven and bake 30-40 minutes until meat is firm to the touch and has pulled away from the edges of the pan. Let cool a few minutes and serve.

Greek-loaf Dinner

To accompany the dinner, I made some quick couscous into which I mixed some fresh time after it had set up as well as a Greek-style salad. I cut up the remaining red onion, some cucumber and 4 small tomatoes. For a dressing, I mixed together olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, dried mint, and lemon juice. The dinner came out pretty well considering I made up most of it. My meatloaf probably could have used more meat and less filler since it was a little fragile to cut and serve, but it was still moist and tasted good.

Gingerbread House & Gift Tins - 12/12/2007

I'm sorry I have not posted in a while. I have still been a busy (cooking) bee, I swear. Final exams, graduate school applications and research have dominated my free time. But now exams are over and I have one application left, so here's the latest on my cooking: one post is sweet and the other one is savory.

Gingerbread House

Don't be too impressed because this house is from a kit. I decorated it initially and lost some interest. Then I decorated it again the other day to finish it off. I'm glad with how colorful it is, but the gingerbread is rather hard and not that delicious. Anyways, now for the good stuff:

Christmas Tins

For two of my lab friends who are leaving this semester, I made gift tins filled with some goodies. Above are my cranberry-pistachio coconut macaroons that have been streaked with chocolate. Below is an assortment of spiced, sugared pecans. Here is a close-up:

Christmas Tin Close-up

The pecans are different spins on my stepmom's classic recipe that uses cinnamon. In these tins, I put the sets made with the following: cocoa powder; cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; and, lastly, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon. I have some other versions of these nuts to make, so expect to see more variations plus other holiday treats coming soon.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mini Mince Pies - 11/29/2007

For a Secret Santa gift, I was given the ideas of "something sports, something candy or something meat." I made some Gator-colored candy and peppermint bark (possibly pictured later) for the first two and I had to brainstorm for a while to cover the third. Then I remembered mincemeat pie. Old versions of this filling did contain meat, but modern versions are comprised of dried fruits, nuts, spices, and a little liquor.

Mini Mince Pies

Mini Mince Pies Close-up

I will admit that I Sandra Lee-ed this recipe. I bought the dough (after the fiasco with the apple pie) and the mince filling and "jazzed" up the presentation. I used a biscuit cutter to make rounds of dough that I put into cupcake cups. I filled each dough cup with mince filling. Then I made 12 different mostly holiday shapes (my Secret Santa recipient's name starts with W and we use piglets for our research, but otherwise they are holiday-themed) out of dough to put on top. Amazingly, I cut dough better than I draw, so these turned out quite well.


If we ever had leftover pie dough, my mom would always make a ladyfinger or two. I do not actually know how she made it, so I tried my best. I rolled out the dough (with my hands because I was too lazy to use my rolling pin) in an oval shape. Then I put a heap of sugar, some cinnamon and a few small cubes of butter in the center, followed by a wrapping it all up and baking it until golden. It probably needed some more sugar and cinnamon, but it was flaky and delicious anyways.

Chicken Primavera - 11/28/2007

One of my default recipes for the last few years is my primavera sauce. I wanted to make a vegetable tomato sauce and I ended up making my own version of primavera. This time around I made it with angel hair pasta and chicken cutlets.

Chicken Primavera

You start with chopped garlic and red onion cooking in some olive oil. Then add the mushrooms, zucchini and some salt and pepper, cooking until they are about half done. Next, add drained canned garbanzos (chick peas), drained canned green beans, canned tomatoes plus their juices, and tomato sauce. Mix everything together and cook until heated through. Now is the time to add spices: oregano, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. This same recipe can be used with different vegetables (I've used yellow squash, before and you can add spinach, carrot, or pretty much any other vegetable that would withstand simmering) and spice combinations (including red pepper flakes or bay leaves). This sauce is excellent with pasta, chicken and fish, though I would imagine you could use it for seafood, pork, or veal too. Most of the veggies can come canned, so if you buy all of the basic ingredients and keep them on-hand, you can make it any time you want. For those who follow my blog, this is proof that I can make non-dessert items. ;-P

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgivings - 11/22/2007

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! One result of having divorced parents is that I have to celebrate all of the holidays twice (good for presents, bad for the waistline). In previous years, I have enjoyed two full Thanksgiving dinners separated by about an hour, but this year was a little different. My mom was shooting for a non-traditional Thanksgiving brunch this year. Last night we put together a sweet potato bake, almond-banana bread, sausage bread, waldorf salad, and a Texas sheet cake. This morning, we assembled a mulled cider, sausage-stuffed mushrooms and pina colada pancakes (version 2 for those keeping count).

Pina Colada Pancakes

This time around, I put shredded coconut and coconut milk into the pancake batter. The "syrup" is made from pineapple preserves that were heated to make them more liquidy. For further topping, I put a dollop of whipped cream and some toasted coconut. Next time, I will thin out the pineapple preserves with some water, but these turned out delicious anyways. Worth noting is that I used a gluten-free pancake mix because my mom has a gluten allergy. Usually, these mixes come out rather gritty, but I could not tell the difference with these.

After brunch, I had a 3 hour reprieve until Thanksgiving dinner. At dinner, we had the usual delicious fare: turkey, gravy, potatoes, sweet potato pudding, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, pumpkin pie, apple pie, chocolate bread pudding (made with croissants for extra buttery fatness), and my contribution: carrot cake.

Carrot Cake

My stepmom and I are big fans of carrot cake, so I thought this would be a nice treat. In the cake and between the layers are also chunks of pineapple for an added twist. On top are candied carrot ribbons made by simmering the carrot in a simple syrup. Special thanks to my mom for helping me asseble this monstocity. I hope everyone else had a wonderful and belt-busting holiday as I did.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fakesgiving - 11/17/2007

My roommates and I have our own version of Thanksgiving every year that we call Fakesgiving. In years past, we have large numbers of friends participate in a potluck while we provide the location and some staple foods. This year was less than spectacular, but I am proud of what I made for the occasion. First of all, it took me three years to do it, but I made a great gravy using some of the turkey drippings. Previously, I tried adding flour to the drippings as they heated and a couple of other tricks, all resulting in a gravy that quickly turned to Jell-O. The big change this year is I actually took some time to think, "How do you make gravy?" The answer is you use a roux. I was definitely proud of my accomplishment, no matter if it seems small.

Apple Pie

I attempted to make my first home-made apple pie with a lattice top. I got the pie dough recipe from my mom, though I do not think I did it quite right. The dough set up, but it was not easily workable and fell apart rather quickly. But it still held the apples well, so I cannot complain. I made the pie with granny smith apples instead of the romas the recipe recommended. This resulted in a fine balance between sweetness and tartness that I enjoyed thoroughly. Next time, I want to get the dough right and make the pie a little more goopy, if you know what I mean.

Nutella Cheesecake

This is the dessert I am more proud of: chocolate hazelnut (Nutella) cheesecake bites. I was struck by the idea to make a Nutella cheesecake the other day, so I put this together. It has an oreo crust (my friend always bemoans the fact that I throw away the cream centers) and a cheesecake recipe with a large helping of Nutella mixed in. Surprisingly, the cheesecake tasted more like cream cheese than Nutella, so I went through with my idea to make a Nutella topping as well. I heated some of the chocolatey stuff with a little bit of milk to make it more pliable. After adding this on top, I thought the bites looked a bit plain. To remedy this, I went to Fresh Market (the best grocery store ever as long as you do not need non-food items) and picked up some hazelnuts (filberts). I lightly toasted the nuts, crushed them with a rolling pin and sprinkled them on top. These do taste as good as they look with a nice crunch from the hazelnuts. If I don't stop baking soon, I'm going to weigh 300 pounds by my 25th birthday.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

FOB Cake - 11/10/2007

Today is my roommate, Val's, birthday and one of her favorite bands is Fall Out Boy (FOB). I decided to make a simple cake to pander to her tastes. The bassist has a tattoo that has become one of the icons for the band (I believe, I may be wrong). My roommate has a window cling version of it on her car, so I thought it would be perfect. Here is a picture of a fan's version of the tattoo:


I made a two layer sheet cake to serve as my canvas. The bottom layer is chocolate and the top layer is vanilla. In between and on top is cream cheese frosting (yes, I cheated and used store-bought frosting but I had difficulties with the frosting that I made). I did have to do some emergency trimming since I did not get the top layer centered on the bottom layer, but no one noticed. To make the insignia, I used black frosting with a fine decorating tip.

FOB Cake

While at Michael's, my friend, Kelly, found some Superman cake decorations, so we added them to the cake for extra pandering.

FOB Cake + Superman

Overall, I am quite happy with how the cake turned out. Val was pleasently surprised, though I did not get to see it since she accidentilly stumbled across it while I was at the store. Surprisingly, the cakes turned out very moist and densely packed. I am very happy with my cake baking skills recently because the majority of my cakes are turning out very moist, almost too moist to do anything with without the chance that they will fall apart.

Pumpkin Cakes - 11/10/2007

I wish I could claim that this was my idea, but I made it from a recipe magazine. All of the cooking magazines are all about holiday recipes and confections right now, and I've probably bought about 10 of them so far. Everyone I know should expect to gain some weight and/or become insulin resistant over the holidays.

Pumpkin Cakes

Pumpkin Cakes with Leaves

The first photo is how I initially finished the cakes. I made pumpkin spice cakes in mini bundt molds and trimmed off the excess tops. Then, I put two of the cakes on top of each other to make the overall shape. After spreading on some orange cream cheese frosting, I stuck a honey wheat pretzel twist through the center for the stem. After finishing the initial recipe, I took a tip from Sandra Lee (crazy Aunt Sandy) and made some fondant leaves, as showin the second picture. This recipe could easily be adapted to be apples instead of pumpkins...maybe an idea for next fall.

Cream Cheese Puffs - 11/8/2007

One of my friends said he wanted to give me periodic challenges of making a dish featuring a particular ingredient. This past week he said it should be cream cheese. Initially I thought, wtf can you do with cream cheese other than cheesecake? I pondered over this for a few days and I came up with these:

Cream Cheese Puffs

The puffs are profiteroles filled with a cream cheese that was whipped with strawberry jam. On top is a raspberry coulis with a hint of lime juice. I love the combination of strawberry and lime, so I decided to use it here. I had some functional difficulties with my piping abilities, so not all of the puffs had a large amount of filling, but they came out pretty good.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Flanders Cocoa - 11/8/2007

If anyone saw The Simpson's Movie, then they probably saw Ned Flanders prepare a cup of cocoa for Bart that was quite over the top. Here is a poor quality picture:

Simpsons Movie

I decided to recreate this to the best of my ability. A couple of roommates lent a helping hand, so I must thank them for that.

Flanders Cocoa

Obviously, most of the mug contains cocoa (warm milk plus hot cocoa powder). Then there is a foundation of whipped cream. Into this layer is stuck a vanilla wafer cookie on the end of which resides a marshmallow toasted with my kitchen torch. Cover the entire thing with chocolate shavings et voila! This real-life version is not as pretty looking as the cartoon (especially since physics does not allow the wafer to stand on end in real life), but I think it looks good.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pistachio Sundae Shots - 11/6/2007

A few restaurants in town (Chili's, TGI Fridays, and their analogues) have started serving shot glass desserts, which are pretty much normal desserts layered in a shot glass. After trying some that were less than spectacular, I decided to design my own.

Pistachio Sundae Shots

The bottom layer is Ben & Jerry's Pistachio Pistachio ice cream which I let soften to be able to put it in the glass. I refroze the ice cream and added a layer of chocolate syrup. I again froze the cups, though apparently chocolate syrup does not freeze completely. The next layer is pistachio pudding (Jello). A dollop of whipped cream, drizzled chocolate sauce and chopped pistachios add the finishing touch. The hardest part of this dessert is keeping the glass clean as you add each layer. Otherwise, it will end up a mess. This is one of about eight ideas I have, so expect more to come.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Apothecary Jars - 10/31/2007

On my way into lab today, I saw a large pile sitting next to the elevator bearing the sign "Free Stuff." Among all of the unwanted lab equipment, I found some cool-looking Erlenmeyer flasks that I claimed for my own. Then I saw a awesome set of ground-glass jars. I immediately grabbed the box of eight jars and fled. Here is a picture of the jars:

Apothecary Jars

I call them my apothecary jars, mostly because it sounds cool and "apothecary" is more marketable than "chemistry." I washed them with bleach and ran them through the dishwasher to make sure there were no chemicals or anything else left in the jars when I wanted to fill them.

Apothecary Jars 2

In these jars (from left to right), I put cinnamon candy, whole allspice and curry powder. I also have one on my desk with my paper clips in it. I'm not sure what I will do with the others right now, but they would be great for gifts, candies, spices, oils, and pretty much anything else. I know I'm a nerd because I'm so excited about these jars...but look at them! They are so great! ;-P

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Halloween Birthday Party - 10/26/2007

My roommate's birthday is next week, so we had a get-together for her last night. There were some recipes I wanted to make to both pander to her tastes and show a little Halloween spirit.

Wicked Cupcakes

Wicked Cupcakes Close-Up

First are Wicked Cupcakes, a recipe from Food Network. In the online pictures, the cupcakes were a bit cleaner and more intricately decorated, but I think mine looked just fine. They are chocolate cupcakes with a peanut butter and cream cheese frosting to make the head. The hats are Oreo wafers and their features are made with various candies. The birthday girl ended up helping me with these, so I do have to thank her for that.


Next was a chocolate fondue. I am not posting pictures of the fondue itself, since I think most people can imagine a pot of chocolate. Above are all of the "dippins" that I put out: pineapple, strawberries, pretzels, oreos, and bananas. The fondue was flavored with a hazelnut liqueur, but I could not taste it too much. Also, I think the heat source was too hot because the chocolate started to burn and separate. But it is really hard to ruin the taste of chocolate so people were eating it anyways. Not pictured is a frozen pound cake that I cubed which was quite delicious with the fondue.

S'mores Pie

The last dish I am showing is my own creation: S'mores Pie. I first baked a graham cracker crust. For the filling, I melted together chocolate chips, whipping cream and marshmallows. The filling ended up setting up very densely and it was almost like fudge, but it was pretty good. For decoration, I put dollops of whipped cream for each slice topped with homemade marshmallows. The marshmallows are a bit more slippery than normal marshmallows and they tend to melt more than they brown over an open flame, but they tasted just about right. For a final touch, I sprinkled the top with graham cracker crumbs and shaved chocolate.

I attempted to make a pumpkin panna cotta, but they did not set up fully in the ghost and pumpkin molds I had, so I did not take a picture. That recipe still needs a little tweaking before it is blog-worthy. Once most everyone arrived, I also started cooking midnight breakfast: pina colada pancakes (pancakes with pineapple and coconut), bacon and eggs benedict. It was an extremely stuffing night, but it was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pudding Graveyard - 10/21/2007

Pudding Graveyard

One of my roommates was having a get-together for her organization, so I decided to help out. On top of the usual preparation, I made this Jello pudding graveyard that I found in a booklet at the grocery store. My ghosts did not come out anywhere near as clean as the ones in the picture, but I felt contented. I will admit, though, that one of the ghost's eyes are a little too far apart, making it look like it rode the short bus when it was alive. It took the guests a while to start eating the pudding since they liked the look of it so much. I should have some more Halloween foodings made toward the end of the week, so keep checking back.

Banana Bread Triplets - 10/20/2007

Some people in my research group work with patients on a high fat diet to reduce seizures. And when I say high fat, I mean really high Atkins times ten and without being able to cheat or else you might increse your seizures. To help their patients, they have Meal Days to work on new recipes to increase compliance. I planned on stopping by, so I thought they would enjoy some high carbohydrate food to "cleanse their palettes." All of these are spin-offs of my favorite banana bread recipe since one of my roommates had a ton of ripe bananas that she didn't want.

Banana Walnut Bread

First is a basic twist on the recipe: add walnuts. I think the crease in the top happened when I turned the bread out, possibly before it had cooled enough. >-< But it tasted good. I made sure to sprinkle nuts on top of the dough before it cooked so people were aware of what was inside.

Coconut Banana Bread

Next is banana bread with shredded coconut inside. I was actually one banana short when making this bread, so I figured the extra coconut would give the bread the support it needed. Before baking it, I toasted some reserved coconut and sprinkled it on top of the dough. This one also came out pretty good, but I don't think the flavors were as strong as the others.

Orange Banana Bread

For this last one, I added the zest of three oranges to the dough and baked it. The result was banana bread with a very aromatic orange flavor to it. Banana was the primary flavor, but orange was a more subtle undertone. All of the breads were met with great appreciation and critical acclaim, so I felt I had done a good job.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ham-Burger - 9/30/2007


I had a good deal of extra ham steak, so I decided to make another type of ham sandwich. This one is more traditional American in inspiration. I found mini square bagels from Thomas' in the grocery store. They were too cool and different to pass up. I grilled the ham the same way as yesterday and put it on the bagel. In hindsight, it may have been better to toast the bagel a bit to add some stability, but it was fine without doing that too. I sliced up some tomato and added pre-chopped lettuce (you can see the bag in the background). On the top part of the bagel, I smeared on some honey mustard. Around holiday time, this could also be good with some cranberry sauce added to it. Since these bagels are not so mini, I did not make a side dish. Otherwise I would have exploded.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hawaiian Hammy Sammy - 9/29/2007

Hawaiian Hammy Meal

I had the hankering to make some sort of sandwich using ham steaks and one of my favorite pairings with ham (especially on pizza) is pineapple. I put together the details for this sandwich and side dish based on that.

Hawaiian Hammy Sammy

Originally, I thought about putting the sandwich on a large honey wheat bun, but then I was struck by inspiration: Hawaiian rolls. Each person would receive three mini-sammies. I cut up the ham steak into roll-sized pieces then pan friend them with butter. On top of that is a piece of pineapple. For an extra boost of flavor, I used an orange glaze that I parasitized from Tyler Florence. For decoration, I used another chunk of pineapple because I forgot I had bought a starfruit. I wanted to put a slice of starfruit at an angle on top of each sammy, but I guess I'll have to do it next time.

Cashew Raisin Rice

On the side, I have rice with some cashews and raisins mixed in for that extra tropical island flare. I like my nuts crunchy and as these absorbed liquid, they became a bit more chewy, but it still tasted good and went well with the sammies.

Friday, September 14, 2007

PB&J Bars - 9/14/2007

PB&J Bars

My goal for this was to make a dessert that looked like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I wanted to find a peanut butter brownie recipe to use so that they would be dense enough, but I could not find anything. I ended up using a Paula Deen recipe for Peanut Butter Cake. I doubled the peanut butter and reduced the shortening accordingly, and the result was a large moist cake. I wanted to make all of the bars at once originally, so I sliced the cake in half at this point. The cake was so moist and my cutting skills are so underdeveloped that I ended up with uneven slices in some areas. I cut the cake into large squares and spread a healthy layer of strawberry jelly between each layer. To mimic the look of PB&J sandwiches, I cut each large square into two straight or triangular halves and served them in pairs. Despite the extra peanut butter, the flavor of the cake was very mellow. The next time I make this, I will definitely have to change that since PB is one of my favorite foods on earth. ;-) Below is an extreme closeup.

PB&J Bars Closeup