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Blaugust 20: Salmon and Asparagus Pouch


I’ve been so productive today! I did this on purpose because I have social plans that will not leave me time to be productive this evening or tomorrow. I actually forced myself to get up before 9 today to have a good chunk of time to get work done.

After that, I made myself a tasty and easy lunch that, of course, is healthy too! And pretty.

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Lunch, meet world.

It was ridiculously easy to make. I put all the food in a little aluminum foil pouch, covered in olive oil, with Herbs de Provence sprinkled on the salmon. Using the cooking instructions from the salmon’s packaging, I cooked it for a while at 425.

I wasn’t paying close attention to the timing. I might have taken it out some than they instruct, or left it a little longer. I really don’t know. In any case, it was all cooked perfectly!

The asparagus was perfectly tender and slightly roast-y.  The salmon was just right, fully cooked but still most and such a nice pink that I almost took ANOTHER picture. I didn’t though…

So, a healthy meal that takes very little preparation, not much time, and is pretty filling? Yes, I’d definitely make this again. Other vegetables can be subbed in too, but you have to make sure it’s not something that takes longer than the fish to cook to the desired level.

If you were going to do something like this, what vegetables would you use? What would you eat for a side? Would you never, ever eat this because your taste buds are broken? Discuss.

Mixed Media Meals


I don’t know how well the word “Media” really fits in as part of the title, but it was so alliterative! …on to the food.

I like sometimes to mix flavors in ways that are a little unconventional, and that other people might not think to do. Who says every part of your meal has to match? It’s just like wearing two different socks or wearing stripes and polka dots together–you can do it if you want to!

The other night I threw together some green and red peppers chopped up with summer squash, tossed in olive oil and herbs, and roasted it all for a while. Then I sprinkled it liberally with some Italian blend shredded cheese and it went back in the oven until that got nice and melty.

I was going to make quinoa to go with it, but then I changed my mind and made some tandoori-ginger jasmine rice instead.

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If the pictures seem a little fuzzy, I think it’s because the hot food steamed up my phone’s camera lens.

I always really like making tandoori rice because it comes out such a nice coral orange color. I tend to throw in some butter and then probably about a tablespoon of tandoori seasoning. Maybe a bit less. My tandoori seasoning came from T.J. Maxx. You could look for it there or at other stores that have interesting alternative unusual food items. I don’t know how easy it is to find, but my container of it is definitely large enough to last me for a long, long time. I’ve already had it for about two years…

As for the veggies, I just chopped them, sort of roughly, and mixed them all together. The seasonings were very nice. If I remember correctly, I used oregano, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper. Yes, I put pepper on my peppers. It did make them a little spicy, but I like that. Omit the pepper if you don’t like spice.

According to the internet, you’re supposed to roast vegetables at a very high temperature. Next time I think I’ll keep it to 450, because some of the peppers started to look a little bit over-browned before the squash really browned much at all. Luckily, nothing really burned. It was a very nice roast-y flavor.

I still have leftover rice, a week later, so I decided to do something with it today.

kale rice salad

That right there is a kale salad with tandoori rice, cajun-sauteed chicken, and a small amount of dried cranberries. It was, in fact, the last of the cranberries, so I’m going to have to buy more.

Do those flavors “go” together? I don’t know. probably not. But they taste good together. So I do it.

I hope you’ve been inspired to combine some foods or flavors you would not have thought to mix before! Food is meant to be enjoyed. Just do whatever you want with it.

Simple Stir Fry, or My New Grating Dish – Success, basically.


*May favorites page is done, finally! I was a little late, and it wasn’t posted until June. Oops.

There are TONS of stir-fry recipes out there, and since I was improvising, and it didn’t look too pretty in the end, I’m not posting a “recipe” or any pictures of the food itself.

Anyway, the real star of the post is this thing:

Isn't it pretty?

Spanish grating dish. Isn’t it pretty?

My wonderful mom bought me this at Sowa Open market during its opening weekend. And then said she wanted one herself. I don’t know if the guy who was selling them is there every weekend/will be continuing to sell there, but apparently you can get them on d-grater.com. Mom.

It came with a stand (which you can kind of see in this picture here), a rubber thing that skins garlic (which didn’t work for me), and a little brush, which is useful for getting the grated stuff out of the dish and into/on your food as well as for cleaning. How the dish works is that no, those are not concentric circles of lines that make it appear textured; it actually is textured. Those are little ridges and in fact you could grate your hand on them, so be careful when using it, even if you’ve been doing it for a while and you’re good at it.

So. Read the rest of this entry

No-Recipe Black Bean Chicken Chili


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Here it is in a bowl with cheese, looking quite delicious

I was trying to get text before the picture, but it’s not letting me move the picture down. I hate not having a real camera…

Anyway, this is a picture of a food experiment I created about two weeks ago. Like the Veggie Mac and Cheese I wrote about recently, I went in without any real knowledge of how chili is supposed to be made, never having attempted to cook it before myself. I don’t remember what gave me the idea. I just thought about the ingredients I had on hand and figured I’d try it out. I’m going to get ahead of myself now and tell you that it turned out AMAZING! I was really surprised by how delicious and chili-like it was. Even though there was a chance it would be more of a soup, I still just felt like trying it, and this was definitely a success.

Ingredients:

apprx. 2 medium chicken breasts (I was using tenders, so I am not sure how it compares)

beefsteak[?] and campari tomatoes

green/red bell peppers

1 can of black beans

1 [amount] of cilantro

1/2-1 lime

Chili powder, smoked paprika, and cajun seasoning

 

Non-Recipe:

To start with, I cooked the chicken. The intention was to put it into the pot shredded, so I had to pre-cook it to the point where shredding would be possible. I pan-fried it in a small amount of oil for a few minutes on a low heat. I wasn’t concerned with making sure they were 100% cooked, as they would cook for a while in the chili itself. As it turned out they were cooked the perfect amount, and once they cooled, shredding them was very easy.

I can’t really remember in just what order I put all the ingredients in the pot, so I’ll just guess… I like my peppers to be a little bit roasted or seared, so I put them in first to cook in a little bit of oil for a few minutes. Then went in the tomatoes, which would need to cook for a while to get stew-y. Soon after went the can of black beans (Goya) and then about two cans full of water, to give it plenty of time to cook while getting to the right consistency. It was about here that the chicken went in as well.

Next came all the seasonings. I used about three tablespoons of chili powder, and it was fairly spicy in the end. I used about one tablespoon each of smoked paprika and McCormick’s cajun seasoning, which I usually use for chicken and sprinkled over fried eggs (so good, really). Plenty of fresh chopped cilantro went into the pot, and some of it stuck to my hands as well. If you want to avoid that, I recommend washing it long enough in advance that it has time to really get dry, because if it’s wet it decides to love your skin.

Stirring often is basically the only thing you do other than adding ingredients to the pot. If it looks like it’s actually boiling, turn the heat down. The order of adding things doesn’t really matter that much, because you cook it all together long enough that all the flavors will combine, and some will be more prominent but what can you do.

Later on in the process I added the lime juice, then had it cook for a few more minutes. Once it looked pretty much like a chili consistency, I decided it was done.

It was really delicious. I’m not just saying this because I want you guys to think I’m having successful cooking ventures. If it had sucked, I would tell you. I was really surprised that it went as well as it did. It tasted awesome both freshly made and as leftovers. It did make me wish I had cornbread, but… oh well. Next time.

I highly recommend making something similar. Go for it! Just wing it! You know how cooking works, you can do it…

 

 

 

Mixed Vegetable Mac and Cheese


(Success, hell yes!)

This one needs a disclaimer; I made this about three weeks ago, so I’ll try to remember as well as I can what the process was, but I’m sure I will have forgotten by now. Also, this is NOT a recipe, so if you want to make this, I’d recommend looking up a basic mac and cheese recipe and adding the veggies to that.

So. There I was, with this whole eggplant that needed to be used up, and all the necessary ingredients to make a cheese sauce. I had a box of medium shells (so technically, it was shells and cheese, not macaroni). Also on hand were tomatoes, broccoli, and breadcrumbs. I figured that at worst I would end up with a pasta bake, and it would be edible as long as I didn’t burn it. So I just went for it, totally blind. No recipe.

I did glance at a mac and cheese recipe for reference to what tempt to set the oven to, but other than that I was just improvising. I have read mac and cheese recipes, I’ll admit, so I may have remembered a few things from them.  However, I’ve made cheese sauce for pasta several times now, so I had a good idea of how that worked. (Practice is the absolute best way to learn to cook! Who knew?)

The first thing I did was saute/steam the eggplant and broccoli while boiling the water for the pasta (and preheating the oven). The last thing to get cooked would have to be the cheese sauce, as its consistency would not keep if it had time to cool. The tomatoes would go in uncooked, just before it was all stuck in the oven.

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There’s my big pot of broccoli and eggplant (and steam). Nice, no? Once they were cooked I took them off the heat, and the pasta was still cooking as I started the sauce.

The cheese and butter all combined eventually, but at first, they were just giant clumps in the milk and cream. Melt the butter in advance if you want to avoid that, but the trick, really, is to make sure the heat is right (low-medium) and just keep stirring, slowly. If you’re persistent it will all smooth out. I mean, I added what was probably several cups of cheese, pretty much all at once, so it’s no wonder it all just kind of clumped together in the milk soup.

As the sauce cooked, I put everything else together in a large baking pan. As soon as the sauce was fully combined and of the right thickness, I poured it over the veggies and pasta and mixed it all to coat everything with cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese.

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Looks really good! At this stage I sprinkled breadcrumbs on top in a generous amount, and finished it with some more shredded cheese. It went into the oven and cooked for something around 1/2 an hour.

 

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I’ve got to figure out panko breadcrumbs, because the nice browned parts you can see on top were due to the cheese. The breadcrumbs did not get crisp or browned, unfortunately. Any tips?

The verdict: OMG. For my very first try at homemade mac and cheese, without using a recipe, I was amazed at how well it turned out. The only thing I would have wanted to be different was that it wasn’t cheeeeeesy enough. More/creamier sauce would have done that, but it was so good that I couldn’t regret how it had turned out. I enjoyed it with some wonderful dinner rolls from When Pigs Fly.

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If you don’t think this looks good, then I feel sorry for you.

I had about 6 more meals from this, because, as you could see, I made a very large amount. As leftovers it’s not quite as good, because, as you might know, reheated pasta gets a little bit chewy, and the cheesy parts were a bit thicker as well. Still very tasty, of course, but I would recommend making this for at least two, if not 4-6 people, or a much, MUCH smaller amount. I used a whole entire box of shells, a whole eggplant, a crown of broccoli, and a handful of tomatoes (I’ve been liking Campari lately).

All in all, this one is filed under “success.”


First food reblog. Why this one? Because it looks like the bread is turning into an alien life form, and because the sandwich looks like it would be extremely tasty.

bish's dishes

When I was younger (about 12) I was a bit obsessed with the cooking programme ‘Two Fat Ladies’. For anyone not familiar with the show it was, well, two 60+ women who were fat and cooked recipes. As if that wasn’t enough they travelled around on a Triumph bike – one of them driving and the other in a sidecar! They cooked a lot of traditional and forgotten recipes, many containing lard, and cooked with hands adorned with rings. They sang and drank wine while they cooked and went out for a cigarette break when they had something in the oven!

Anyway, they made quite an impression on me and one of their recipes has stuck in my mind for over 15 years and I finally decided to have a go at making it my own way.

A Shooter’s Sandwich is an Edwardian invention designed for taking along for eating…

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