blog crush: Once Upon a Chef

Once Upon a Chef has the best organised posts i’ve found on any food site. the pictures and directions are second to none in terms of clarity and helpfulness. this follows for the site as a whole, too. going to jenn’s site is like being back in your kitchen after making cooking in other homes. you can zip around and grab just what you need without thinking, maybe even without looking (as long as it isn’t a blade attachment for a Ninja blender, because i just cut myself typing about it). anyway, it just makes sense, and it looks good doing it.

now all this stuff wouldn’t matter at all without great recipes, and i only found out how much i liked the site because of how much i liked the food i made from it. It may just be in my head, but i feel like the recipes are healthy without sacrificing ingredients. i believe in moderation and balance rather than counting each calorie and cutting ingredients out of meals when the change really alters the dish for the worse, and this is a site that fits perfectly with what i’m after.

a couple of things i’ve enjoyed so far:

i actually wrote about these Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (that’s a link to her recipe. this is the link to my words about it)

see! i did that!

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Chicken Curry is the kind of dish i think a lot of people are afraid to try making. i’d probably have stayed in that group if it weren’t from this site.

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Perfect Basmati Rice – this is the best rice i’ve every made. thx 🙂

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cook’s log: a typical twist on Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars from Once Upon a Chef

the recipe from Once Upon a Chef was modified because peanut butter, not because it was lacking at all. Jenn’s blog is probably my favorite (don’t tell the others). she’s my blog crush today 🙂

i’ve been making a lot with oats lately. amongst all the breakfast oat bakes and granola and granola bars and power balls, this was the biggest crowd-pleaser by far and the closest i’ve come to making somethign that tastes like it could come off the shelf…of a grocery store in heaven (there’s never a line to checkout, btw). Of course it came from Once Upon a Chef!

i only have two pictures because i can only take so many pictures of a bowl of oats. ok, ok, there’s no limit to that, i just got lazy. you’ve already seen one, but i’ll just post that again at the bottom and show this almost identical one now!

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look how together it stayed! after it sat in the fridge and set, i scored it with a terrible and dull knife and it broke right up into bars. i didn’t take pictures of any of that!

there has been a lot of variation in my oat experiences in terms of crunch and clustering and sweetness, but it’s pretty much always tasty (except that one time…). this one was perfect. i took the recipe word for some of the words and added peanut butter because duh. then i did my best to shave some semisweet baker’s chocolate to put on top (after you bake it so they don’t melt and stuff). i really like the shards and flakes, but in addition to dispersing it more evenly, i should have pressed them into the bars a little more. still, perfect enough. i give it 10 out of delicious. here’s that first pic again 🙂

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cook’s log: candied ginger from cdkitchen

the recipe i used from cdkitchen led to much tasty. thanks!

sweet. hot. unmistakable. ginger candy is about as good as it gets. this was my first attempt at it, and i was super pleased with the results. i’m hoping to get to the smooth and chewy consistency of the candy from the Ginger People, but it’s not the kind of thing i can gobble up quickly so round 2 is a ways off.

i reserve the right to be lazy and talk about this very generally whilst pointing to the link up top for the specifics

i’ve wanted to make this for years but always steered clear because of the sugar and the fear of trying to make candy. i finally decided that sugar and candy are just going to be neighbors whether i like it or not. it never stopped me from buying it, why should it stop me from making it. and cdkitchen took care of the fear part. recipes are always clear and approachable.

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doesn’t that look easy!? it’s easier than it looks, too. sugar + water + ginger + heat + time = candy! i should really have just typed out the super easy recipe or learned how to do the plugin thing for recipes…but i didn’t!

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post cooking, pre sugaring. they’re in time out until they think about what they’ve done (and dry out) i should have used a wire rack…but i didn’t!

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this was maybe even cooler than the candy. you can keep reducing the leftover liquid till you have a pretty wildly delicious ginger syrup. if i had prepared for this i could have canned it properly…but i didn’t!

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ok, so the candy is still better than the syrup. i left half of it without the extra sugar as an experiment. i should have tasted it first and found out that i liked it without the coating…but i didn’t! (notice the pattern?) it worked out ok tho because my roommate liked the extra sugar side better.

that’s it! i should have stopped here to preview this post…but, well you know 🙂

blog crush: A Year of Slow Cooking

A Year of Slow Cooking is really where this all started for me. i had just gotten back into cooking after years away from it. a friend recommended this site, and it was my first experience exploring a site for inspiration. previously i had always had keywords floating in my head and nothing in my stomach when i got online to look for a recipe. ‘hmm, i have noodles,’ or ‘i really need to use these tomatoes’ would be my starting points. it was all function and no fun. it was ‘ction.’ i haven’t even said anything about this site yet. is it just here for personal reasons? nope nope, but i think that would have been enough. you could just have clicked away if you didn’t agree [are you really still reading my babbling incoherence? what? you love it 😉 aww, thanks!] reason #1 Stephanie is funny. her personality really comes through despite the fairly professional approach to her posts. i think everyone else is more coherent than me, but she is great at being concise and still very personable. she must just have so much personality that a sprinkle here and there shines through. i’m giving up trying to pick the right spice to make an analogy with 🙂 reason #2 there is a huge variety of things you can try. some are off-the-wall, others are standard fare, and a lot of them are just fun things that you wouldn’t picture being so well-suited for the little appliance. you could dig for a long time and not come up with so varied a list. of course, she did dedicate a year to the endeavor. i think it paid off. reason #3-10000 crock pots / slow cookers i’d like to take a moment to introduce the slow pot! those other names just don’t sound nice. but borrow a little from each and you have something special. it flows, it’s fun, it gets rid of k’s (usually a good thing in my book…oops). so Slow Pots are a great way to get into cooking, and this site is all about that journey. if your bag of cooking tricks consists of spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and meatloaf, slow pots will blow your mind, and they’re really cheap for what they allow you to do. the best thing is that when i was starting to exhaust my interest in the recipes, i found myself looking for other means of making the same dishes. it was such a natural step to go from the ‘throw it all in and turn the knob’ approach to something a little more hands on. some favs from the site: 5-Ingredient Homemade Beef Stew– nothing will replace my mom’s beef stew, but this was my first solo adventure with it, so it’s special for me. i even made it in the same slow pot i grew up eating from! (thanks, mom) P1020708 21-Ingredient Chili Slow Cooker Recipe– i pretty much made a bunch of soups/stews/you get the idea. i love soup. You Can Make Yogurt in Your Crock Pot– (or your Slow Pot) just so you don’t think she only did soups, this was one of those mind-blowing cooking experiences for me. so much can be make from scratch so easily. i’ve since moved on to doing this in a large pot on the stove, but i’m so glad i found this recipe. thanks, Stephanie! I’m really selling this site short in terms of variety. Just check out the Desserts page! and there is a page called ‘Fun Stuff’ and another for her ‘Flops,’ a page for recipes you shouldn’t make! there you have it! you thought this post was long at first, but then you realised that i fit 9998 reasons into a few lines of text. you owe me.

cook’s log: roasted butternut squash

the recipe from food 52. thank you for the inspiration, Amelia! this squash has been on my counter for far too long (butternut squash keeps for a long time, it turns out)
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oi! that looks like oil…i am looking at this picture and wishing i could reach back in time and put something under those puppies and thereby avoid a lot of scrubbing. i know a mess is coming, but somehow i convince myself that ‘maybe this time,’ or ‘well, the recipe didn’t say anything, after all.’ denial; i feel like i know you so well, yet i never recognise you until it is 2 l8.

i grew up with acorn squash cooked with butter and brown sugar in the convenient built-in bowl. tonight’s was going to be more like this. i was in the mood for some pepper/rosemary/olive oil somethings, but i happened upon Food 52‘s recipe and got hooked by the inclusion of orange juice. sweet won out again! the surprise should not be that great.

i was bad. i hardly took any pictures. the roommates were home and the kitchen was crowded. there were fish and rice and bread concerns (although our ezpz breadmaker bore pretty much all the responsibility as far as the bread was concerned). all that was asked for was oil (rubbed over surface) salt/pepper to taste, brown sugar and orange juice. the hardest part was cutting the thing in half. we didn’t respect our knives, and as a result they don’t cooperate too well when facing a task such as this…that’s twice i’ve been reminded of Gilmore Girls in this one little post. i ought to feel bad that it isn’t more. anyway, we have an absurd cleaver-looking device that did the trick all right in the end. hmm, only two pictures, and not much to say. ah, 400 degrees (is there a handy symbol thingy?) for 45-55 min did the trick. it’s done when a fork goes in easily enough that you want to pull a bite back out with it 🙂

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garlic pepper mahi mahi over boring brown rice. topped with my only parsley plant’s best, and no one else even ate it :/

i liked it a lot. the orange juice really mixed it up and left it hardly tasting like squash. i think some more spice would have been great. pumpkin spices or just some ground cloves / nutmeg would give it more to counter the super sweet taste of the orange/brown sugar combo.

if you aren’t familiar with roasted squash, you gotta try it the next time the grass is orange…er on the other side of the fence. maybe it’s nostalgia, but i’d start with butter/brown sugar.

ps don’t eat the ‘skin’ on this one (or did i miss out?)

pps i kept wanting to call them veggies, but i guess they’re a fruit *shrug*

blog crush: the kitchn

the kitchn the kitchn provides me with plenty of recipes. they are always well-written and clear. it is one of my blog crushes because it is my first choice when i run into something i don’t understand about cooking. with that in mind, i should probably make it my home page 😉 it is almost silly to give examples, because they feel endless, but here are a couple i’ve used recently: How to Make Homemade Chicken Stock How to Cook Moist & Tender Chicken Breasts Every Time How to Cook Beans on the Stove

cook’s log: spicy chicken wings adobo

my tasty dinner was made possible by one of many delicous recipes over at My Bare Cupboard. Thanks 🙂

here’s the link to the recipe, in case you don’t want all the talky.

i don’t eat a lot of meat. i like meat, i just don’t have a lot of tricks with it and don’t often have it around because it doesn’t keep too long. this little adventure in cooking is a step toward changing that.

you need this stuff (and some chicken):

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i loved the prep for this meal. garlic: peeled, or not! do i mince? nah, just smush it….i think i like the way ‘smousch’ looks better. one day i will have a recipe that calls for smousched garlic. do you think i would look good with a smouschstache?

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pan + oil + heat + time (5ish min)

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oh, too many details…remember the recipe? she says it better, anyhow. this is more of a…recipe review. or maybe i’ll come back through and write the rest out later.

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and then it was this! i can’t say that what i made is quite what Anne accomplished, but it was super tasty anyway.

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so i learned another thing about making meat things. i wish i had taken a picture of the mess i made along with the meal. the upshot is that i don’t have to worry about a fried food addiction, despite how tasty it turned out.

ps check out Anne’s blog, My Bare Cupboard. i came for the chicken and left much later with about 20 new dishes…ok, 20 new desserts 😉 i think i should accept that dinner just isn’t my thing. here are a couple highlights:

Japanese Soufflé Cheesecake

Hongkong-Style Egg tarts

Japanese Milk Bread with Blueberry Sauce Filling

cook’s log: granola-ola-ola

honey almond granola

look! this recipe i used from Tried and Tasty is  posted right at the top in case you don’t like reading all the stuff 🙂 here’s the gist of what it calls for, in case you are relying on what you have lying around:

oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, salt, cinnamon, ginger, coconut oil, honey and vanilla

here’s an obligatory picture of my results:

honey almond granola

a few notes:

-cook’s logs are the things i make. they are almost always inspired by bloggers and bigger food sites, as my own recipe book is, well, not even a link yet!

-a goal of this site is to keep me from ever repeating a recipe. it’s tough when i run into great ones like this, but a repeat wouldn’t be much of an adventure, and these are meant to be my cooking adventures, passed along to you.

-granola ola ola ola

i found myself at tried and tasty staring at Yvonne’s Honey Almond Granola a couple nights ago. as it’s almost gone now, i thought i’d better write about it before it’s a distant memory. i haven’t figured out the widgets and doodads on here yet, so i happily recommend heading on over to her site for the recipe and her (more coherent) anecdotes.

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Keep saying it: granola-ola-ola-ola-ola! i might be guilty of talking to myself a lot. i can’t help that i like my own humor, and it’s usually just me and the eggs. i always crack them up, at least 😉 just try saying it, see how many ‘ola’s work for you. everyone is different; for me it’s five.

*ahem* so granola…doesn’t last long. i’m not much for math, but i figure 4 cups + 3 people <= 2 day’s worth of granola. and it’s so expensive at the store, and oats are just so cheap. it’s one of the big things that made me want to start cooking more. it’s not that i’m cheap, i’m just insatiable and not made of money (i might be made up largely of granola at this point, though). this is granola #6 or 7 for me and the second i’ve made with coconut oil. it only fits with certain flavors, but i prefer it to other oils or butter so far when the flavor works. still looking for lighter options, because granola no last long, as mentioned a second ago.

honey almond granola tucked away in jars

ahhh, memories. look how full they were! i suppose nothing lasts forever. speaking of which, bye!

ps get one of these:    P1020959

blog crush: Pinch of Yum

Pinch of Yum
i end up at this site a lot naturally because their recipes are everywhere and fantastic. but this is a site i also seek out often, because Lindsay and Bjork realised that they could give people a lot more than ideas for what to make. they’ve taken their well-earned success as food bloggers and given back in a big way. whether you want to know how they make their food look so mouth-watering or are skeptical about or bewildered by the monetization of a blog, they have everything from casual posts to a dedicated teaching platform catering to your every need as a would-be or budding blogger. my thanks to the folks at Pinch of Yum for being a great example of the idea that when you help others, everyone wins.