Tuesday, 30 December 2014

My 2 year adventure, week 99: Butternut sqaush risotto with sugared walnuts

Week 99:
  So yesterday I made butternut squash risotto with sugared walnuts. For the walnuts, I toasted them and the tossed them with butter, sugar, and pepper. I liked them a lot on their own. Then for the squash I tossed it with some oil, roasted it and then added some garlic. I don't really like squash and in addition, I didn't take enough of the rind off so the edges of some of the pieces were hard and stringy. So after I roasted those off, I sauteed bacon, then onion, added arborio rice, and what I thought was white wine. There were to bottle of white wine looking liquid. I totally overlooked the real wine and picked up a bottle of sherry or something that was labeled "wine". Since I am underage and rarely cook with wine, I am unfamiliar with the smell and the bottles. Either way, the product was fine, even with not wine wine. Then, like in most risottos, I slowly added chicken stock that I had warmed up until the rice was cooked. Overall, The dish was good. The walnuts did not work with the finished product but if you left those off, and took and the squash, it was a pretty enjoyable dish. The rice was cooked really well (if I do say so myself) and overall, not a complete fail. My family gave it a 7.5/10. 

See you in the new year internet! Love, Alexa :)        

baking for fun: coconut cream pie

So I've been watching masterchef junior (a little behind, I know), but I just watched the episode where they make the cream pies. I've been baking for a LONG time and I came to the realization, that I have only made a cream pie once before. I have made a key lime pie, but I've never made a chocolate or fruit cream pie. So I did a little digging in my recipe books and I found a really good coconut cream pie. 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2-3 tbsp heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
pinch of salt
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch 
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup shredded coconut
Whipped cream
Toasted shredded coconut     
     So first of all, the base, the crust. Whisk the flour and 1/2 tsp salt together in a bowl. Then, using the back of a fork or a pastry blender, mix in the butter (cut the butter into pieces first). Add the heavy cream and mix until the dough stays together when you squeeze it (I added a little extra heavy cream, my dough was a little dry). Dump the dough into a 9-inch pie pan and using your hands, press the dough up the side. Pack the dough firmly until it forms a crust. Prick the dough carefully, this type of crust has a tendency to flake and break. Bake the dough at 400 degrees F, for 20 minutes. Then combine the egg yolk and the pinch of salt. Brush the inside of the dough with the egg wash and bake it for 1-2 minutes.
     To make the filling, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. In a different bowl combine the egg yolks, milk and cream. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Cook over a low heat until the filling is thick. It'll take about 15 minutes and it will become almost like a custard. Take the filling off the heat. Add the vanilla and the coconut.
     Top the cooled pie with the whipped cream and toasted coconut. To be honest, I wouldn't put the cream over the pie unless you're planning to eat the whole thing in one sitting. The cream will fall flat and it will make the pie mushy. So if you won't be eating the whole pie, then I would recommend putting the cream on the pieces individually.
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See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

My 2 Year Adventure, week 88: Spicy shrimp nodle bowl with cucumber salad

Week 88:
  OK, so let me get something straight, I'm not a writer, I'm a cook. Blogging is definitely not my forte, but I have been cooking every week since my last post. I really need to be more consistent. Alright week 88 of 104... Today I made a Spicy shrimp noodle bowl with a cucumber salad. The noodle bowl consisted of rice stick noodles, shrimp, sauteed vegetables, all severed in a fish broth that I made. The fish broth wasn't completely "from scratch" but I didn't just buy a fish stock. I started of with chicken broth, added water and clam juice then topped it all off with the shells from the shrimp and some slices of ginger. I boiled it down and it made a really yummy broth. Then I sauteed some garlic, onion, and bell pepper, added the broth, snap peas, some chili flakes, the shrimp and the noodles, cooked it all down to deliciousness and TAH-DAH!!!! A really yummy soup type dish. I served it with some lime wedges as well as some salad consisting of cucumber, radishes, green onion, and a light dressing. My family really enjoyed it (9/10) and it only to me about 30 minutes to make. 
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See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

baking for fun: Pear and cardamom scones

So as some of you may know, I brought back a ton of produce from my friend's house, including pears. This recipe has a great kick to it and the scones were gone with in a day (and I made a double recipe). This recipe makes 8 scones and they're great for breakfast. 
6.75 oz all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
2.4 oz whole wheat flour (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cardamom (if you're feeling ambitious, add a touch more)
3 tbsp cold butter
10 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp lemon rind
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup chopped pear
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 large egg white, lightly beaten 
   Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine 6.75 oz all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and the cardamom in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter in, breaking it into small pieces first. Keep working the butter in until the mix looks like coarse meal. Combine the buttermilk, lemon rind, vanilla extract, and egg in a medium bowl. Stir in the pear. Add the buttermilk mix to the flour mixture stirring until just moist (don't overmix). Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Dust the top with the remaining 2 tsp of flour. Pat the dough into an 8-inch circle onto a greased baking sheet. Cut the dough into 8 wedges, not all the way, but about 2/3 of the way into the dough. Brush the egg white over the dough. Bake it for about 25 minutes and it's ready to eat almost immediately!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)            

Baking For fun: peach pie

We were up at our friend's house and they live in the best climate for apples, grapes, cherries, and many other fruits. We returned 3 days later with bags of apples and peaches as well as a box of plums, some pears, carrots, and 150 tomatoes. This recipe is a great way to use peaches and it is absolutely delicious!
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp ice water 
2 1/2 lbs peaches; peeled, pitted, and sliced
1/2 to 3/4 cup plus 2 tsp sugar, divided
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
1/8 tsp salt
2 to 3 tbsp butter
Milk or cream
   OK! So start off by making the dough. This dough recipe will make just enough dough for one covered pie, so it's perfect! First, you'll wanna stir the flour, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt together in a large bowl. Then, using a pastry blender, and in the shortening, breaking it into chunks as you go.. Cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like cornmeal or bread crumbs. Drizzle the water over the mix and stir it together until it starts to come together. If the dough will not come together and an extra 1 or 2 tbsp of ice water. When your dough is starting to come together, divide the dough in half, press each portion into a circle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before rolling
   After it's chilled (preferably for a couple hours) roll out your dough. One portion should be rolled out to about a 13-inch diameter, the other half should be rolled out to about a 12-inch diameter. Place the 13-inch circle into a 9-inch pie tin. Refrigerate the dough while you make the filling. 
   Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Measure out 5 cups of the peaches and combine with 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, almond extract (is using), and 1/8 tsp salt. Let the filling stand for 15 minutes. Remove the pie crust from the fridge. Pour the filling into the bottom crust and dot the top with the butter. Cover the top of the pie (if you'd like, you can make a lattice). If you're completely covering the pie, cut steam vents in the top. Light brush the top of the pie with the milk or cream and sprinkle the remaining 2 tsp of sugar on the top. Bake the pie for 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degree Fahrenheit and cook it for 25 to 35 minutes more. Let the pie cool then you can slice the pie and enjoy!      

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)       

Sunday, 24 August 2014

My 2 Year Aventure, week 75: Oatmeal panckaes

Week 75:
  I'm not making dinner today because I'm going to a concert so I made breakfast instead. The pancakes weren't my favorite. I used the wrong type of oats so the texture was really wrong. On top of that, they didn't really taste like anything. I don't know, I wasn't a fan. I think I'll just stick to my normal pancakes. They got a 6/10. 

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See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)

Saturday, 23 August 2014

My 2 year adventure, week 74: Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs with Quinoa Salad with Peaches/Black Forest Cherry Cake

Week 74:
  I really need to make this blogging thing more consistent. I've been at cooking camp for this last week. Cooking camp ended yesterday so I am back to cook on my own. I made these chicken thighs and they were amazing. I had to take the skin off and the bone out because the boneless ones came in packs of 6 and the bone in ones came in packs of 4. I needed 8, so I got the thighs with the bone in. The spice mix was really good. Garlic powder, chili powder, salt, cumin, paprika, and pepper.I brushed honey and vinegar during the cooking process.They kind of reminded me of the chicken wings. It was not as spicy as I though it was gonna be but it was delicious. The quinoa salad was nice, but I preferred the chicken.
   The cake was really nice. The filling was whipped cream and a cherry filling. The filling wasn't too sweet, that cake was chocolatey, and the overall cake was amazing. Both dishes got 9.6/10. I think I'll make both dishes again.

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See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)

Monday, 18 August 2014

baking for fun: apple cinnamon cupcakes with a meringue topping

I haven't done one of these in a while! It's kind of a shame since I really like baking and it's something I enjoy doing. Anyway, these cupcakes were really delicious and they have a cool take on a traditional topping!
1 1/2 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp apple cinnamon tea (or any other tea you like, the original recipe called for chai)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk  
3 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar

   Alright! Starting off with the cupcake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners (I used silicone, paper works just the same). So for the tea I simply cut open some tea bags and sifted the tea because there were some large chunks that would have been unpleasant to eat. I used 3 tea bags, it might be different for you. Get creative, try different teas! Combine the flour, baking powder, tea, and salt in a small bowl. Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla together in a medium bowl until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. With your mixer on low and half of your flour mix, then half the milk, then the remaining flour, and the rest of the milk. Put the batter into the liners, pop the pan in the oven and cook it for 20-25 min (if they aren't fully cooked don't worry, we'll put it back in the oven at a higher heat, they should be mostly done though). When the cupcakes come out, boost up the oven temp to 450 degrees F. 
For the meringue, beat your egg whites and cream of tartar together until you get soft peaks. Then add in the sugar and beat like crazy until you get stiff peaks. Using a star tip, pipe your meringue onto your cupcakes and bake them for 5 minutes at 450 degrees F. Then... they're done! Experiment, enjoy!   

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)
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    Note: My meringue didn't get quite as stiff as I had hoped and that's why its all over the place. The burning on the top was almost instant, that was not from overcooking.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

My 2 year adventure, week 66: Summer squash and corn chowder with tomato bruschetta

Week 66:
  I haven't blogged in a while but I've been cooking. I made casserole, quesadillas, and etc... So today I made soup. It was corn chowder with some squash, celery, and green onions. They didn't have the type of squash I wanted to use at the store so I used spaghetti squash. Because of the squash texture the soup was a little chunky and stringy. Other than that, it was a little bland, however, it was tasty. 
Displaying photo 1.JPG  I loved the bruschetta, I just kept eating it. It was ok, but it was really addictive. My family gave the dishes an 8/10. 
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See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

My 2 Year Adventure, week 59: Chicken and guacamole tacos

Week 59:
  Today I made chicken tacos. They were supposed to be tostadas but my local grocery store doesn't sell tostada shells. Instead of using tostada shells (fried, flat, corn tortillas) I just used regular corn tortillas and made them into tacos. 
  Once again, my "talent" returns to wreak havoc. The avocado I picked for my guacamole was super green. Mashing it was supposed to be easy but I could only get the fruit to a decent consistency with a mix of stabbing, mashing, and all sorts of other violent actions. I feel like that could be a new form of anger management, just take your anger out on an avacoado. 
  Despite my awful produce selections, the guacamole was decent. My favorite element was the salsa but although I added a tablespoon of jalapeno pepper, I still didn't quite get a kick.
  The chicken was just oven roasted then shredded and tossed with some lime juice and paprika. I think I over cooked it a little, maybe 2 minutes overdone so it was a little dry. 
Displaying photo.JPG  Overall my family gave it a 7.75/10 and that's a pretty 
decent score. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)

Friday, 25 July 2014

My 2 Year Adventure, week 57: Salmon burgers

Week 57:
  Today I made Salmon burgers. What started off as a nice piece of salmon soon got mangled and dismembered in the food processor. 1/4 pound got mixed with Dijon and grapefruit rind (originally intended to be lemon) and got turned into paste. The other 3/4 pound got coarsely chopped with tarragon, shallots, salt, and pepper. The 2 salmon mixes combines and created 4 beautiful patties. Those hopped on the grill and the burgers were topped off with honey and arugula. There were meant to be onions as well but my dad decided to pickle the remainder of the onion so there was none for me to use. This dish was really simple and easy and my family gave it a 8.5/10. 
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 See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

My 2 Year Adventure, week 56: Asian-style veggie rolls

Week 56:
  So compared to yesterday's meal, today was a much lower strain on the budget. This dish was super fun to make and only cost me $13.31. The rolls are mostly prep work and then they're a breeze. I filled the rolls with lettuce, bean treads (a.k.a. cellophane noodles), bean sprouts, carrot, mint, cilantro, and green onions. The rice paper was pretty easy to handle and I only tore one sheet really badly. The sauce was pretty good. It had a lot of flavors and it was really well balanced. Overall, my parents gave the dish a 7.5/10.
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See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My 2 Year Adventure, week 55: Spicy chipotle shrimp salad with an avacado, mango, and pinapple salad/ lattice-topped blackberry cobbler

Week 55:
  Today I made 2 kinds of salad. Firstly, I made a shrimp salad and then to top it off, I made a fruit salad (well, made with fruit). The shrimp salad was the main component though and it tasted pretty good. The only problem was that my local grocery store doesn't sell canned chiles, so I just used chile powder instead of an actual chipotle chile. The problem was mainly with the complementary salad. I think I've mentioned this before, but I genuinely believe I have a talent for picking the greenest fruit possible and then convincing myself that it's super ripe. The mango was soooooooo sour, I was actually kind of tough to eat. Despite my fruit issues my parents gave the dish a 7.5/10. 
  Secondly, I made a cobbler. Blackberries aren't exactly in season so they were a little on the expensive side. However, when blackberries start coming in by the truckload, this will be a very common dessert at home. This dish gave me the opportunity to test out my new mini food possessor, which was recently given to me as a gift. I ground up some almonds for the dough and it turned out pretty well. The dessert was great. I hadn't done a lattice top in a while so I kind of cheaped out. Instead on doing the traditional, over, under, over, under, I just did the vertical strips first and then placed the horizontal ones on top. It was very good and the only thing lacking was some ice cream. My parents gave it a 9/10 and I have to say, I agree. Displaying photo 2.JPG
See you nest time internet! Love, Alexa :)

Monday, 21 July 2014

My 2 Year Adventure, week 54: Sheep's-milk yogurt cheesecakes with grilled figs and pistachios

Week 54: 
  Today I made cheesecake. It was meant to be a couple mini cheesecakes but I didn't have the molds I needed. So I just doubled the recipe and made a 9-inch cake. Next problem: My local grocery store doesn't sell figs or sheep's milk yogurt. The figs weren't essential so that's ok but I just used regular yogurt instead of the sheep's milk stuff. When I was making the cheesecake I realized I had no lemons. I decided to improvise by using 50% grapefruit juice, 50% water and then I added some sugar and I guess it worked out well.... In the end the result was pretty good, bland, but the consistency was very yogurty. I might attempt it again but I doubt it.
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See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)   

Monday, 16 June 2014

My 2 year adventure, week 46: Greek inspired chicken and barley salad REPEAT

Week 46:
  So according to the recipe calendar, I should've made Golden peach soup with shrimp and crab seviche. There were a couple issues. #1: Peaches aren't really in season #2: Where I live, seafood is kind of expensive so buying a bunch of shrimp and crab would be overboard. So as much as I would've loved to try my hand at a seviche, I didn't get the chance. 
  Instead, I made one of my family favorites, the barley salad from week 5. Yeah, that's really simple and really good so I just repeated that. Yup....

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)  

My 2 year adventure, week 45: Walnut and rosemary oven-fried chicken/ Banana split ice-cream sandwiches

Week 45:
  WOW!I haven't blogged in ages. I can't believe how much I let that slide. But now summer vacation has begun and I will be cooking and blogging a whole lot more. 
  Yesterday was father's day, so I wanted to make something really comforting and tasty. So I made roasted chicken breasts. The recipe asked for cutlets which pretty much mean that the chicken breasts have been tenderized. Now, the butchers at my local grocery store were nice enough to use the machine to do it for me. However, everything was falling apart and the breasts were very variant in size. Because some were so big, I ran out of the crust and so, some had more of a drizzle of walnut and rosemary. Either way it ended up being good and my family gave it a 7.5/10. 
  Now for the ice cream sandwiches. I was really worried because there were only four ingredients in the cookies. Powdered sugar, flour, vanilla, and an egg. I didn't even have vanilla so I used almond extract instead. The cookies ended up being these really thin crunchy wafer-like things which were really good. In the middle I put vanilla ice cream but I added mashed bananas and crushed peanuts and it gave the ice cream more flavor and texture. I rolled the sandwiches in some peanuts and topped them off with a cherry, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup. They were really and my family gave them an 8.5/10. 

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)   

Monday, 24 February 2014

Baking for fun: banana cheesecake

For my birthday I got a springform pan, so I decided to test it out by making cheesecake. But not just any cheesecake, banana cheesecake. I found this recipe in a cookbook I got for my birthday and if all the recipes in this cookbook are this good, this is my new paradise. Here are the ingredients:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
16 oz. (500g) cream cheese
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Sliced banana, for garnish

Combine the rolled oats, pecans, brown sugar, and butter. Press firmly into the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Bake at 350 F for 18 minutes, or until golden brown. In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, bananas, 1/2 cup sugar, and lemon juice. Then, beat in the eggs one at a time. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 35 minutes. Combine sour cream, 3 tbsp sugar, and vanilla. Spread over the hot filling, and put the cake back in the oven for 10 min. Cool. Chill until ready to serve. When serving, decorated with sliced banana. And, Enjoy!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)            

Sunday, 16 February 2014

My 2 year adventure, week 40: Grilled chicken with mint and oine nut gremolata with a sugar snap pea and feta salad/ Carrot ginger refresher

Week 40:
  I haven't been cooking. No, I'm not having a block like what Julie experiences in Julie and Julia where she eats yogurt for dinner and falls behind... I just went through mid-years. This is my first year in high school so this year I had mid-year exams. Right after mid-years it was my birthday (I'm 14), so I haven't cooked in a while. I was so excited to get back to cooking! The first dish had 3 components: the chicken, which I just grilled, then finished it off in the oven, the gremolata, and the salad. To make the gremolata I had to chop mint, pine nuts, and garlic really fine, since I don't have a mini chopper. I ended up getting a really good consistency and I was really happy with the end result. For the salad in blanched red onion and sugar snap peas, in addition to making a dressing and crumbling some feta into the mix. It was a really simple dish with minimal prep, I'll probably make it again. 
  The refresher was soooooooooo good. It was like a smoothie, but not quite. I put carrot juice, yogurt, applesauce, frozen bananas, ginger, and ice into a blender and I began to pulse and the blender was too full... It didn't explode or anything cool like that, but we had to pour some out and re-blend it. In the end, both dishes got 9/10 and I am definitely making the refresher again in the near future.  

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :) 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

My 2 year adventure, week 38: Crab cakes with spicy remoulade/ Chicken and okra stew

Week 38:
Finallyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! A new entry! I haven't blogged on here since September 2 2013. It's been 4 months! But, I have been cooking and that brings us to week 38. So my dad and I decided to cook together today. Normally I cook alone but we thought, hey, it would be fun to bond over a common interest. We started off with the crab cakes. The crab cakes were super easy to make other than actually cooking them. You just mix a bunch of stuff together, make some patties, and fry. Frying is difficult though because the cakes have a tendency to fall apart... We were successful and we made 7 beautiful cakes. They were sooooooo good but no where even near the remoulade sauce. O...M...G! I don't like mayo at all but somehow with lemon, capers, cayenne, and some other ingredients, the mayo sauce was AMAZING!
For the stew, it was really time consuming. There was a lot of prep and the stew took about an hour to cook but it was so worth it! The flavor was so good and the chicken and okra were cooked perfectly. These were actually some of my favorite dishes so far and my family gave both of them 9/10. But as a wrap-up, I'm back and expect many more entries!

See you next time internet! Love, Alexa :)