Q and A

I decided to take a break today from the traditional cooking post and let you know a little bit about me through a Q and A! So, let’s begin!

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What do you do in your day besides cook?

I actually go to law school right now, so most of my day is spent reading and going to class. I actually spend far too much time reading, but its fun! I know crazy, but I enjoy it! Besides that I like to go on walks, sometimes I run, and I like reading and sleeping a lot!

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is pepperoni pizza. I could eat it three times a day everyday. Actually, the boyfriend and I have to limit how much we each pizza. Eventually, when I come to that stage in my cooking, I will be making homemade pizza and pizza crust! mmmm… pizza.

Do you have any animals?

I do! I have a little baby beagle chihuahua who is my love!!! The cutest little thing ever! Ah… can’t even stand it! Sometimes I like to pretend he can talk and I like to make up what he would say in certain situations. Its great.

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Do you like sports?

I love sports! My favorite is soccer. I played for like 13 years. I also did swim, track, basketball, and probably more. I really really want to learn how to play tennis, just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Who is the boyfriend?

The boyfriend is the boyfriend and we have been together for 4.5 years now… wow!!!

 

I would love to get to know you guys. Please answer any or all of these questions and let me know a little about yourself. If you want to know more about me please feel free to ask, I would love to share!

 

Chicken Parm and Bruschetta

The boyfriend really likes loves chicken. If it were up to him he would probably eat chicken every…single…night. Of course for me that gets a little repetitive and I want something else. So, when he suggested chicken again the other night my brain got to ticking thinking about what we could make that had chicken, but was something we hadn’t had in awhile. Thus, chicken parmesan. Instead of the classic chicken parm which comes with a side of spaghetti (I might as well tell you now that I loathe spaghetti… sorry), I made on the side bruschetta

When I first went to college I bought myself a how to cookbook for dorms which had a simple recipe for chicken parmesan, which is where I adapted this recipe from. The recipe is simple, because it only really requires six ingredients, most of which should be around your house already! As for the bruschetta, that is pretty simple too!

Here we go…

Chicken Parmesan

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Ingredients

Chicken (I used thighs deskined/deboned)

1 cup flour, salt and pepper

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 eggs

Pasta sauce

Cheese

1. Set up three bowls. One: 2 eggs scrambled. Two: Flour with salt and pepper. Three: Breadcrumbs. Start the oven at 350.

2. Clean and ready four pieces of chicken. I used chicken thighs so I deboned and deskinned them as well as placed them in a bag and pounded them out to make them skinnier and more tender.

3. One at a time place a piece of chicken into the flour coating both sides, then shaking the excess off. Then place it in the egg wash to coat, shake the excess off. Then, place in the breadcrumbs and coat. Place the chicken on a sheet pan to cook.

4. Repeat 3 until all chicken is breaded.

5. Once all are on the pan place in the oven and cook for 15 min. After 15 min flip the chicken and cook for another 5-10min.

6. At this point check the chicken and make sure that it is mostly cooked inside. Slice the fattest chicken and if it is still very pink, you should let it cook for longer. If the chicken is basically cooked move on.

7. At this point place tomato sauce on each piece of chicken and cover with your cheese.

8. Place back into the oven for 10-15 min or until the cheese becomes brownish on top and is bubbly.

9. Plate and enjoy!

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Bruschetta

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Ingredients

Loaf of bread

Garlic

Oil

1 pat of Butter

Salt and pepper

Topping

Tomato

Scallions

Parsley

2 tblsp lemon juice

Olive Oil

salt and pepper

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1. The bruschetta can be done while the chicken is cooking or after.

2. Begin by slicing the bread on a bias, you want it to have a diagonal slice. I used 6 slices.

2. Heat a pan on medium heat with about 1-2 tablespoons of oil and the pat of butter.

3. One at a time place a piece of bread in the oil and slide it around so that it gets oil on it leave it in the pan and do the same to the next piece. Once all are in, and keeping an eye on the pieces the entire time, cooking until the bottoms are browning and slightly dark brown on the outside.

4. Flip each piece of bread and cook on that side until the same brown.

5. Plate these and while they cook make the topping.

6. Topping: Chop all of the ingredients and place into a bowl. Pour over the lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

7. Before placing the topping on, take a piece of opened garlic (see tips and tricks) and scrub it on both sides of each bread. Now, top with your topping and enjoy!

Enjoy!

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Tips and Tricks:

1. Chicken: I used chicken thighs, which I pounded out to be tender, but you can also use chicken breast. I actually think I prefer chicken breast.

2. Tomato sauce: You can use your own homemade tomato sauce. Actually it would probably be better.

3. Breadcrumbs: you can make your own breadcrumbs and add any kinds of seasonings you want. Make the chicken parm spicy with some cayenne or add some extra basil or parmesan cheese.

4. Bruschetta Toppings: you can really put anything on bruschetta. Try it plain, try mozzarella cheese, tomato salsa, apples and feta, olives, mozzarella cheese-basil-tomato. Again, practice practice, practice. 

5. Opening Garlic: take the garlic out of its casing and lay it against the counter, take a knife and place it on top then smash down with a fist, being very carful not to slice your hand. This will allow the garlic flavor to be exposed.

 

I would love to hear from you if you have any questions. Please leave a comment and tell me what you think, or if you want some clarification on any of these steps! I hope I have inspired you to try some new things tonight for dinner!

Summer Beer Brats

The sun was shining, the Red Sox game was about underway, and the smell of grilled brats was so tempting I had to make my own. Me and the boyfriend have been wanting to try our own brats and today was he perfect chance!

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Brats, like everything else, are so easy to cook and so delicious!

Here we go:

Ingredients

Brats – we had sweet Italian Sausage

1 onion-sliced

1 bell pepper- sliced

1 6-pack of beer – we used Killian

2 tablespoons butter

Buns

1. In a dutch oven put the half the onions, butter and the brats.

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2. Cover the brats with the beer – we used 2 bottles (and drank the rest!)

3. Heat the brats over medium-high heat until the beer begins to boil. Then reduce to a simmer and continue heating for 8 minutes or until cooked through.

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4. In a pan heat a little oil, the bell pepper, and both the left-over onions, and the ones from the beer broth. Heat these until soft and then add the brats to the pan.

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5. Cook the brats until the skins are dark brown.

6. Once they are cooked, place them in a bun and top with the pepper and onion mixture. You could also use ketchup or mustard or both!

Enjoy!

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Tips:

1. If you are waiting to serve, once the brats are brown place them back into the broth until you are ready to serve, although I suggest serving right after they are done.

2. Do NOT poke or cut the brats, you want the skin to be crispy and crack under your teeth! mmm…

3. If the pan is too hot and the peppers and onions begin to brown, you can take them out and continue cooking the brats without them.

Cooking Conundrum Friday

Eventually, when I finally have time, I am going to make stuffed mushrooms. I have never made any type of dish with mushrooms myself, so I got to thinking what kinds of mushrooms can I use and how will I know if they are good when I am experimenting on my own. Here is a Quick Guide Mushroom:

oystermushrooms

<– Oyster: “have a velvety texture and a mild taste that melds well with poultry, veal, and seafood dishes”

2009_01_14-Mushrooms

<– Crimini: Similar to the white mushroom and can be used in most if not all recipes

 

 

shiitake-mushroom

<– Shiitake: “meaty flavor and texture…” good in “pasta dishes, soups, and other entrees.” Don’t eat the stems. funghi-secchi[1]

–>Porcini: “Strong woodsy flavor.” soups and pasta sauce.

white_mushroom_LRG

<—White: “mild woodsy flavor. All purpose”

Portobello-Mushroom

<-Portobello “deep mushroom flavor… bring heartiness to vegetarian dishes”

 

 

japanese-brown-beech-mushroom<—Beech: “crunchy texture and mild, sweet, nutty flavor… works well in stir-fries and in sauces for poultry and fish.” asparagus-morel-saute

–> Morel: “intense rich and nutty flavor and aroma… good for refined sauces and gourmet recipes”

 

 

 

enoki mushroom

<—Enoki: “delicate flavor and slight crunch…in salads and as soup toppers”

–> Chanterelle: “buttery flavor” simple recipesmushrooms-su-1010614-l

I hope that this has been helpful! I know that I just learned a ton of information. All of the sources for these pictures are hyperlinked to the picture, and the information about each mushroom came from Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book, Gift Edition, 12th edition.

Let me know what your favorites are and if you try any new recipes with these!

Pancakes

I’m sure all of you have had breakfast for dinner…and if you haven’t, you should! Sometimes just a big bowl of cereal will do, thinking about it now makes my mouth water. Those crunchy sugar bits and that cold cold milk… maybe its because I really would love some cold cold milk with this delicious pancake dinner. mmmm…

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Through this experience I am constantly thinking one thing, “who told us, and when, that boxed/bagged/microwave food was easier and better tasting then homemade?” Let me be the first to tell you, not only is homemade sooooo easy, it taste so so so much better.

As always, let’s get too it… pancakes!

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Ingredients

2 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1.5-2 cups milk

2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter

1. Combine all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix them.

2. In another bowl combine the eggs and milk and stir, then stir in the cooled butter.

3. Add the wet to the dry. Mix these just until all of the dry ingredients become wet. It is ok if the batter is slightly lumpy. If you want thinner pancakes you can add a little more milk to make the batter thinner.

4. Start a pan at medium-high heat. When it is hot enough ad a pat of butter to coat the bottom of the pan and begin by pour some of the batter into the skillet.

5. When the pancake begins to bubble in the middle and the sides are set you can flip.

6. Plate the pancake after 2-3 minutes once it is set. Repeat.

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I usually eat pancakes one by one, but I suggest eating these in a stack. The pancakes are so fluffy, and the butter and syrup add a nice salty-sweetness to each bite. I already ate the stack and my mouth is still watering! mmm so good.

Now, get yourself a big cold glass of milk and enjoy each fluffy bite!

Enjoy!

Cooking Conundrum Friday

I just ate a delicious peach. The type that the juices go running down the sides of your mouth and you just want to lay in the sun on blanket drinking some iced tea. Ahhh… delicious. While eating my sweet treat I read a post about a fresh looking strawberry spinach salad on figgy & sprout, and I got to thinking about a book I got as a present called “From Asparagus to Zucchini”. The book is all about different vegetable recipes from farmers and cooks. Last year I was determined to only cook based no what was in season, but of course like many things my goal soon disappeared and I forgot all about it.

Peaches-bydemand01-300x209Source

So here is a little Q and A about seasonal cooking. (This comes from my own knowledge and what I have learned)

Why cook seasonally?

You should cook seasonally so that you are using the best and freshest ingredients. The meals you make will taste better and you will get the best flavors. You also are letting stores know that you don’t want the artificial stuff they sell, and that you don’t want to buy African Oranges in Nebraska. Why? Because chances are they were grown artificially so that they could make it from the tree to Nebraska and still be fresh. Also, they will usually be less expensive then things that are not in season.

How do I find out what is in season?

There are tons of charts and calendars online, and some farmer’s markets will have them or you can ask local farmers. Here are some sites I found Fruits and veggies matter; Seasonality Chart; Foodland Availability; Choose My Plate Smart Shopping Tips

Where is the best place to find what is in season?

You should be able to find fruits and veggies in your grocery store, but there are many other places. You can try and find a farmer’s market around you. There are sites you can visit like Local Harvest where you can search for your area or from the USDA.

What if I can’t find a farmer’s market?

If you can’t find a farmer’s market near you, you can try using a CSA(community supported agriculture). If you apply to a CSA, a local farm will deliver to you (or you pick up) a basket of produce. The cool thing is you get whatever they have, so you may get to try tons of new produce that you have never eaten! If you want to find one simply type in CSA and your town into google and tons will pop up. I have also seen milk and meat type CSAs.

You can also start your own garden. I live in an apartment, but I am itching to start my own indoor herb garden. Again, go online search for your type of situation (i.e. home garden, apartment gardening, dorm room gardening), and you will find tons of things. I personally have found a bunch of books on Amazon that I may buy about apartment gardening.

What do I cook with all these vegetables and fruits?

As I have said multiple times before on this blog… practice…practice…practice. Try something new, boil, bake or fry your potatoes or asparagus or broccoli. Try new fruit, try fruit in desserts. The day I made the Cauliflower Gratin and Blue Cheese was the first time I had that dish and I liked it enough that I plan to make it again. Try taking bigger vegetables like tomatoes or green peppers and cooking eggs in them. Simple hollow out the inside and put in eggs, salt and pepper, other veggies, bacon or sausage, top with some cheese and bake at 350 until the eggs are set. Or you can make taco meat and do the same. Again, look for books online check around other blogs to find new techniques.  

I am glad I did this post, I inspired myself to add some more seasonal fruits and veggies to my diet, and I hope you did too! Any other questions you want to ask please email me or leave a comment!!

Enjoy!