Monday, October 17, 2011


Holy smokes, I finally have something to write about! Last night, I made brinner!

I fried up the sausages (brown sugar and honey flavored, YUM) first, then used that grease to fry up the potatoes, then the eggs. Meanwhile, the oven made us some crescent rolls. And then we ate dinner at the table, like civilized people. It was spectacular.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Woah hey, new post!

It's not that I haven't been cooking or that I haven't been cooking interesting's that I keep forgetting to take pictures (and let's face it, no one really *reads* blogs, it's all about the pictures) and I keep forgetting to post. So here's hoping this is a turning point. 

For 4th of July this year, the party theme is "put stuff in alcohol that doesn't belong there". What could possibly go wrong, amiright? For our entry, Nick and I are making ginger vodka and mint vodka: 

We cleaned up the counters just for this shot.

These puppies are now aging in the "pantry" (aka, the shelves over the laundry machines on the other side of the kitchen). 

We're also going on an epic trip later this summer that will include backpacking down into (and, fingers crossed, back up out of) the Grand Canyon and parts of Zion. Vegas is involved too. But for the roughing it part, I've been playing with dehydrating stuff. Mangos, papayas, and strawberries were a hit on our Memorial Day adventure so I'll likely be remaking those at some point.

Apparently I have no pictures of those. Hmph. 

Anyway, without further ado, here's the jerky, pre-dehydration: 

Apparently most of the texture comes from the brining action of the soy sauce. Who knew? The cut is short ribs, and this is about 2.8 lbs worth of meat ($9 or so). No wonder jerky is so friggin expensive! 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cheating this week to get myself back on track with cooking, after a few messy weeks. I borrowed this list from Made the BBQ Chicken Pizza with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce and Cabot Extra Sharp cheddar tonight.  Was a major hit and will definitely be a repeat offender.

In other news, I posted on my other blog some of the excuses for why I haven't been blogging lately. Check it out. Also, I'm debating a marathon. Not really convinced yet, but the siren song is getting louder (note: I haven't actually attempted to *run* since I've started thinking about doing it). Anyone out there want to train with me? I think it's going to require morning workouts, which is a major holdup for me...but since it's starting to be tolerably cool in the mornings (as opposed to frigid or unbearably nippy), this might be the perfect time to start this quest. Anyone? Beuller? Beuller?

Sunday, April 10, 2011


With the weather finally warming up a bit, I've started craving veggies like mad.

I whipped this up at work...broiled zucchini and portobello mushrooms on panini bread with marscapone and herb salt.
Last night's veggies, marinading.

All laid out on the grill.

So that's about it.  We grilled 3 nights this week and it was glorious.  God I love spring.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Week #23: Nepal

So I did end up cooking 5 nights this week, I just don't have pictures.  The salad was good but I should have made it in smaller batches so we could've had leftovers. I'm making the pork tenderloin stuff tonight I think.

So Nepal...

The cultural and geographic diversity of Nepal provide ample space for a variety of cuisines based on ethnicity, soil and climate. Nevertheless dal-bhat-tarkari (Nepali: दाल भात तरकारी ) is eaten throughout the country. Dal is a soup made of lentils and spices. It is served over boiled grain, bhat -- usually rice but sometimes another grain -- with vegetable curry, tarkari. Typical condiments are a small amount of extremely spicy chutney (चटनी) or achaar (अचार). These can be made from fresh ingredients, or may be a kind of fermented pickle. The variety of these preparations is staggering, said to number in the thousands. [1]. Other accompaniments may be sliced lemon(kagati) or lime (nibua) and fresh chili peppers, khursani.

I'm doing all crockpot meals this week, to make life easier for myself since I'm generally getting home around 8 or so these days. 
Beer-braised beef
Provencal Beef Stew
Slow Cooker Meatloaf

Sorry this post is so sparse...I started it Sunday and suddenly it's Tuesday so I figured I'd better get it up before it's Friday and irrelevant. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Catching Up

I swear I'm doing better with cooking than my blogging would indicate.  Monday night I made the turkey tamale casserole.  It was meh.  Could have used a lot more seasoning, IMHO, but maybe that's just me.  I think next time I'll use boxed corn bread makings instead of trying to make my own like the recipe suggests.  It was kinda dry as it was. 

Sure looks promising though right?
I think I'd also add more in terms of like cumin and traditional taco seasonings.  That would probably help a lot.
The batter was pretty solid and didn't spread well.
In the end it was edible though.  :-)

Tuesday I made pot roast.  I took pics in the morning but by the time I got home from the gym at 8:30, I was so starving I forgot to take pics of the finished dish.  It was good...I'm not a huge fan of pot roast in general though, so...there ya go.  I always hope it's going to be moist, but it's always too dry to me.  Nick never thinks so, so maybe I just have a desert mouth, who knows. 

Last night I opted for pizza.  Tonight is taco salad night. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Week #whatever (22?): Northern Mexican

Yeah yeah yeah, I'm hopping back in on an easy week.  So sue me.  Even though this week I'll likely end up making more than one meal from NoMex, I'm recalibrating the goal of this blog to be something a little more attainable.  I'm going to aim for cooking 5 times a week, but only ONE of those meals needs to be ethnic.  Sure, I won't get a "true taste" of that region, but I'll be about 100 times more likely to actually achieve this goal. 

In any case, Mexico.

Specifically, northern Mexico. 

Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful decoration, and variety of spices. Most of today's Mexican food is based on pre-Columbian traditions, including the Aztecs and Maya, combined with culinary trends introduced by Spanish colonists.
The conquistadores eventually combined their imported diet of rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic and onions with the native pre-Columbian food, including maize, tomato, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple, chili pepper, beans, squash, sweet potato, peanut and turkey.
Mexican food varies by region, because of local climate and geography and ethnic differences among the indigenous inhabitants and because these different populations were influenced by the Spaniards in varying degrees. The north of Mexico is known for its beef, goat and ostrich production and meat dishes, in particular the well-known Arrachera cut.

Without further ado (so this post will go out at the beginning of the week), the lineup.

The Mexican one
The "We're branching out from the usual tamale casserole recipe" one
The one that I'll love but Nick probably won't like much
The fancy one
The "I'll compare this one to La Caretta tomorrow night" one

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner

Just a quickie to post a picture of last night's dinner.  Rib eye steaks with (boxed) mashed potatoes and sauteed onions and mushrooms.  I think there was a salad in there too.  Yum.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ok I Give.

With the chaos of the last couple of months, this project keeps getting pushed further and further on the backburner.  I would love to keep doing it, but it turns out that after a 14-hour day, I really just don't have the energy to learn to cook in some fancy new way every.single.night.  So while I'm going to leave the list as it is and continue cooking 5 nights a week, I'm going to put the "cross countries" part of this blog on hold for a while.  Unless some company steps forward and offers me beaucoup $ to continue it full time.  Then I'll jump right on in.  :-)  For now though, CCK is going to go on vacation for a bit.  Sorry to disappoint all like 2 of my readers.  :-) 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Week #18: Mongolia

The nomads of Mongolia sustain their lives directly from the products of domesticated animals such as cattle, horses, camels, yaks, sheep, and goats, and sometimes game.[1] Meat is either cooked, used as an ingredient for soups or dumplings (buuz/khuushuur/bansh), or dried for winter (borts).[1] The Mongolian diet includes a large proportion of animal fat which is necessary for the Mongols to withstand the cold winters and their hard work. Winter temperatures as low as -40 °C and outdoor work require sufficient energy reserves. Milk and cream are used to make a variety of beverages, as well as cheese and similar products.[2]
The nomads on the countryside are self-supporting by principle. Travellers will find yurts marked as "guanz" in regular intervals near the roadside, which operate as simple restaurants. In the yurt, which is a portable dwelling structure, Mongolians usually cook in a cast-iron or aluminium pot on a small stove, using wood or dried animal dung (argal) as fuel.
The most common rural dish is cooked mutton, often without any other ingredients. In the city, every other locale displays a sign saying "buuz". Those are dumplings filled with meat, which are cooked in steam. Other types of dumplings are boiled in water ("Bansh"), or deep fried in mutton fat ("Khuushuur"). Other dishes combine the meat with rice or fresh noodles into various stews (tsuivan, budaatai huurga) or noodle soups (guriltai shol).
The most surprising cooking method is only used on special occasions. In this case, the meat (often together with vegetables) gets cooked with the help of stones, which have been preheated in a fire. This either happens with chunks of mutton in a sealed milk can ("Khorkhog"), or within the abdominal cavity of a deboned goat or marmot ("Boodog").
Milk is boiled to separate the cream (öröm, clotted cream).[2] The remaining skimmed milk is processed into cheese ("byaslag"), dried curds (aaruul), yoghurt, kefir, as well as a light milk liquor ("Shimiin Arkhi"). The most prominent national beverage is airag, fermented mare's milk.[2] A popular cereal is barley, which is fried and malted. The resulting flour (arvain guril) is eaten as a porridge in milk fat and sugar or drunk mixed in milk tea. The everyday beverage is salted milk tea ("Süütei Tsai"), which may turn into a robust soup by adding rice, meat, or Bansh. As a consequence of the Russian influence during socialism, vodka also has gained some popularity[2] with a surprising number of local brands (usually grain spirits).
Horse meat is eaten in Mongolia and can be found in grocery stores.

Ok, so the gist of that stuff up there is "they eat a lot of high-fat meat because it's really freaking cold there".  As much as I wish I could claim "it's really freaking cold here" as an excuse to eat more calories, I don't think it's as cold in NH as it needs to be to justify eating fatty meats daily.  Given that the majority of "authentic" Mongolian recipes I've found have been pretty consistently simply meat, maybe rolled in dough and boiled/steamed/fried, I think I'm going to get creative this week and might only do a couple "authentic" variations on "meat".

Here's the only source I've found that seems to be truly authentic Mongolian cooking.   I think I'll pick two recipes and try them and fill the rest of the week with familiar stuff.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My First Interview!

Even though I haven't been cooking this week (I'm dying to though!!), I still have food news!  Check it out!  I'm in our local paper, talking about party food!

With any luck, I'll be back to a normal(ish) schedule next week, just in time for Mongolian week! 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sorry Folks...

...due to the 18 inches of snow we're due to get this week and the training I'm part of, I'll be spending most of the week in Cambridge (don't worry, Nick will be taking care of the critters...or vice versa, whatever).  Tonight is the only night I'll have access to cooking facilities, and it's going to be a long night as is so it'll probably be basic pasta or something.  Polish week will have to be postponed.  I'm lame^max, I know.  Sorry.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Selection of Images from This Week

I won't lie, this has not been my favorite week of 2011.  It's been cold, it's been exhausting, but overall, it's been survivable. 

Monday night, Nick made dinner.  Bless his heart.  It was SO good.  Shockingly good, considering it was ketchup on rice with raisins. 

Tuesday night I battled some fierce Word demons.  The rest of the week has been pretty much a blur.  I finished a quilt then promptly spilled hot wax all over it.  Go me.  Tonight I'm hoping to finish up a Valentine's Day quilt I started almost a year ago.  I'm also going to make...something.  Probably pasta-based, since that's about all I can muster at the moment. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Week #14: Thailand

The sad fact is, it's Sunday and I'm throwing this post together as a way to take a break from throttling Word (which, if you didn't know, is what I do for a living).  That's right, I've worked the whole weekend.  This week is going to be kind of nuts too...tomorrow I need to drive in to Cambridge for work.  Tuesday night I'll need to hit the gym (trust me) and it's my long workout night (not to mention a school night for Nick).  Wednesday is Nick's surgery.  Thursday is up in the air.  Friday, if I make it that far, should be a little less hectic, but it doesn't look promising.  Saturday is training for Spin stuff.  Wow, just writing all that out made me curl up in the fetal position in my chair.  Oops.

In any case, I'm going to do my best to keep cooking this week, since the last couple weeks have been kind of fails.

So Thailand.

Thailand (pronounced /ˈtaɪlænd/ TYE-land or /ˈtaɪlənd/;[6] Thai: ราชอาณาจักรไทย Ratcha Anachak Thai, IPA: [râːtɕʰa ʔaːnaːtɕɑ̀k tʰɑj]( listen)) (formerly Siam Thai: สยาม) is an independent country that lies in the heart of Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Burma. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast and Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea to the southwest.

What about the food?
Thai cuisine blends five fundamental tastes: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and salty. Some common ingredients used in Thai cuisine include garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass, and fish sauce. The staple food in Thailand is rice, particularly jasmine variety rice (also known as Hom Mali rice) which is included in almost every meal. Thailand is the world's largest exporter of rice, and Thais domestically consume over 100 kg of milled rice per person per year.[64] Over 5000 varieties of rice from Thailand are preserved in the rice gene bank of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in the Philippines. The king of Thailand is the official patron of IRRI.[65]

Lots of rice.  I can handle that. 

So, without much ceremony or introduction, here's the recipe list for the week:

Monday (Nick's night to cook):

Tuesday is going to be a very long day (what else is new) so I'm going to stick with something familiar...maybe even red beans, who knows. 

Sorry for the lackluster post folks...gotta get back to exorcising the demons in Word.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lemon Basil Backup Plan

Last night I ended up getting some chicken sausage (easily the worst part of this meal, but it wasn't awful...just a little hotdoggy) and cooking it up with an onion, a whole lot of basil, juice from one lemon, about 3 tbsp of butter, some white wine, and some heavy cream.  Very similar to that thing I made during French week that I'm too lazy to find a link to right now.  It was yummy though.  Super quick, not terribly low-cal, but at least it was fresh.  All I wanted was fresh. 

It's a snow day here again, so lunch today should be creative.  Probably fried udon noodles again.  Yum yum yum.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

MIA But Not Forgotten... of these week's I'll stop pushing regions to the end of the list.  I swear.  It's just been one of those has been crazy (I was up working until 1 am on Tuesday), it hasn't stopped snowing in like, 3 years, and I started training at the gym last night.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I haven't been this excited about anything in a really long time...look out Jillian Michaels, I'm coming for you. 

Seriously though, I've been cooking at home, it just hasn't been exciting (last night for example, I fried up some udon noodles for me, and made a pb&j for Nick). 

Tonight I won't get home until probably 8 PM, so I need something fast and healthy.  Suggestions?  Salad mixes won't cut it. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Combined Efforts

I feel like I'm running into a meeting late, with papers and hair flying everywhere...sorry sorry sorry. It's been a heckuva week.  I'm going to combine the end of Moroccan week into one post, and remind everyone that it's Thai week and I'll do my best to have something exciting for you this evening...since I haven't even managed to eat yet today though, it doesn't look promising.

Saturday we had Moroccan grilled chicken...except that our grill is under 3 ft of snow, so we baked it. 
Nick applied the marinade while Kini watched with acute interest.
Baked at around 375ish for around an hour.  I also threw some carrots in and whipped up some brown rice.
And dinner was served.  Very yummy.

Last night we had Thursday's tagine.  I started it in the morning (see above) and snuck a peek in the evening (see below). 

Served over rice with toasted almonds and cilantro.  YUM! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

To the Women of the World, I Apologize

But the fact is, I married the best man of our generation. Possibly of the world.

Yesterday I woke up knowing for sure what I'd known (but wasn't willing to admit) on Tuesday...I have a cold. Not a huge, nasty, full-blown monster of a cold (thank God), just a really nasty throat cold. This is extremely familiar territory for me, but I actually haven't had one in a while...I got my tonsils out in college, so the odds went down considerably after that.

Enough of the TMI.

Anyway, last night, I was tired, achy, and knew I wouldn't sleep well because I never do with a hacking cough and an aching throat. So what did my man do? Looked up the recipe for hot totties online and whipped us up a batch.
 An ounce of whiskey, boiling water, a stick of cinnamon, 2 cloves, 2 spoons of honey, and a splash of lemon juice. 
 Cloves and cinnamon, steeping in the whiskey.
It was SO good.  We both slept like babies after that.  I love that man.

Oh, and dinner was pb&j because I didn't want to cook anything and we couldn't get out of the driveway.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How Tagine Saved Christmas

Or at least a snow day.

Nick usually works from home on Tuesdays, so I did some prep work on the first crockpot tagine and asked him to start it for us so it'd be ready for dinner last night.  Unfortunately, he really does WORK from home, so it didn't end up in the crock pot until nearly 7 last night, making 10 PM the earliest we could have eaten it.  Suffice it to say, I made us a workaround meal (pasta) while drooling over this teasingly undercooked tagine he'd put together.

Around 11, we called it done and put it in the fridge to save for today, which happens to be the first day we've been completely snowed in together.

Enter lunch:

It's marvelous.  The apricots (which I don't usually like) picked up the spices and flavors in a wonderful way, and the whole thing smells divine.  I had some toast with it, and it was the perfect cold day meal.  Yum.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Moroccan Meatballs

This dish was pretty good.  I thought the meatballs were a little dry, but Nick liked them...we have different tastes in how dry is too dry for meat though (he loves a big ol' chicken breast, which is just the blanded, driest sounding thing in the world to me...he hates thigh meat though, which I think sounds delish). 

Tempting the puppy with meatbally deliciousness.  It had a little kick but not so much that I couldn't eat it (which probably meant it really tasted like cardboard, since my tastebuds are definitively anti-spicy), and worked really well over pasta. Wish I'd had some good crusty bread to go with it though! Oh, and that's provolone on the side.  I tried that with it, and it was meh.  I actually found myself craving a little sour cream with it...go figure.  We didn't have any though, so no verdict. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Udon Noodles and Peanut Sauce: The Most Colorful Dish in A While

In an effort to use up some of the last of the Japanese week leftovers, last night I made Udon Peanut Butter Noodles. Kind of a quick 'n' easy version of Pad Thai almost.  It was super good and SUPER fast.  Using rotisserie chicken made it ridiculously quick to put together.  I used 16 oz of noodles (the recipe calls for 9) and half a red pepper, and there was still a LOT of sauce.  I think I could have lived with half the sauce, to be honest.  I also used water instead of chicken stock, and low-sodium soy sauce, and it still seemed a little salty to me.  But maybe that's just me.  Regardless, udon noodles are yummy and have a fun texture.  I'd make them again. 

Of course, Kini was just miserable about this dish...peanut butter covered chicken??  Poor puppy didn't get so much as a lick!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week #13: Morocco

By the end of this week, we'll be a quarter of the way through the year!  w00t!  I never thought cooking could ever be so exhausting, but it turns out when I get home from work, it's really nice to have a meal that I don't have to put a lot of brainpower into making.  That hasn't happened in weeks!  This week will hopefully be a little less stressful than last week, since Moroccan food feels somehow familiar to me...even though I've never been there personally, there was one Thanksgiving that we spent eating in "Morocco" at the EPCOT center.  I think that counts...right?  The most memorable part of that dinner was when I nearly spit water out my nose from laughing so hard at how many different ways there are to say "throw up".  Including, apparently, "couscous" in Turkish.  I was 15, what do you expect?

Anyway, moving on.  What do we know about Morocco?

I think I didn't realize it was so long.  I knew roughly where it was, but I think I thought it was only half as long as it is.  Nifty.  Actually, after reading more, the bottom half where it's shaded is actually Western Sahara, which is disputed territory and a non-self-governing land according to the UN.  Nifty.

How about the cuisine? 

Moroccan cuisine has long been considered as one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. This is a result of the centuries-long interaction of Morocco with the outside world. The cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Berber, Spanish, Corsican, Portuguese, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and African cuisines. The cuisine of Morocco has been influenced by the native Berber cuisine, the Arabic Andalusian cuisine brought by the Moriscos when they left Spain, the Turkish cuisine from the Turks and the Middle Eastern cuisines brought by the Arabs, as well as Jewish cuisine.
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. While spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients, like saffron from Tiliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and oranges and lemons from Fez, are home-grown. Chicken is the most widely eaten meat in Morocco. The most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco is beef; lamb is preferred but is relatively expensive. Couscous is the most famous Moroccan dish along with pastilla, tajine, and harira. The most popular drink is green tea with mint.

I won't lie.  I LOVE tagines.  I also love couscous, in spite of what the tour guide in Turkey made us believe.  So without further ado, here's this week's menu:

For Monday: Moroccan Meatballs. Quick, easy, yum.
For Tuesday: Slow cooker tagine. Tuesdays are traditionally a very long night for me, and this week is no exception.  This Tuesday I get to go in and fill out paperwork to be a group fitness instructor (emphasis in Spin, but they're training me to do other stuff too!) at this gym I adore.  SO EXCITED!  After that, there are 2 hours' worth of classes I want to take, and then it's Biggest Loser night.  Oh, and Nick starts his classes that night too, so I need to stay out of his hair.  All that to say, I think I'm going to start making Tuesday night crock pot night, if I can manage it. 
For Wednesday: Chickpeas and sweet potatoes - a vegetarian option. 
For Thursday: Another crock pot tagine, this time more fruity.  I'd much rather prep in the morning and come home to a house that smells yummy and a dinner that is ready to eat than cook at night. 
For Friday: Grilled Moroccan Chicken with a side of (what else) couscous.

I had hoped to find a good Moroccan restaurant to try out on Saturday, but it looks like the only ones around are either sketchy or way outside our budget (unless someone wants to sponsor me, wink wink nudge nudge).  Maybe next region.

Anyone joining the challenge this week? Check back tomorrow for a link to other Menu Plan Monday posts.

Miso Soupy

Friday night was miso soup night.  I took a couple of very small liberties with this one...first, I used enoki (straw?) mushrooms instead of normal mushrooms as suggested, because that's what I had on hand.  I didn't grill anything, I just pan-fried it in olive oil.  I also added some soft tofu and probably a little more miso than strictly necessary.  I also accidentally forgot to leave the seaweed in, so it was a fairly dichromatic dish. The eggplant was really good though.

Nick whipped up some garlic bread for us, too!
I even got us some special spoons from the Asian market, just for soup.  Yum!

Garlic-Flavored Flubber

Bet you thought I didn't cook the past 3 nights, huh?  Oh ye of little faith. I just kept forgetting to upload pictures, so I didn't post yet.

Anyway, Thursday night was the konnyaku.  It was...interesting.

 Sort of like dark flubber.  It started wobbly and soft, then when I boiled it, became wobbly and less soft. Weird.
From one package, this was all we got.  The garlic and red pepper helped a lot, as did a healthy sprinkling of sea salt.  But we still ordered pizza.  That's right folks, 12 weeks in and we had our first "Domino's required" night.  Nick made a point of saying that it was for want of quantity, not of quality, but I'm pretty sure this was about all either of us really wanted to eat of this stuff.  Not terrible, just...weird.