Tag Archives: cooking

Crowdsourcing a Recipe: Not So Terrible For You Haluski

16 Jan

I love haluski.

I mean love.

It is quite possibly my favorite food.

I remember with clarity my first “haluski moment.” The first week of college. Eddie’s in the Towers. There was a comfort food station– mashed potatoes, chicken, and this noodly dish. I like noodles. It looked good. So I ordered some. Oh it was good. And then I went on to order it again and again. Nearly every single day of that freshman year. I later learned it was called haluski, and I angrily wondered “HOW COULD I HAVE LIVED NEARLY EIGHTEEN YEARS WITHOUT TASTING THIS DIVINE DISH.” I obviously put on my freshman 15 thanks to those buttery cabbagey noodles. And someone else’s freshman 15 too. And probably another person’s freshman 15 on top of that. Haluski is just as much a Pittsburgh food as pierogies and Primanti’s sandwiches. Growing up in Southern California I had plenty of quesadillas and tostadas and pepper bellies, but millworker food just isn’t on the menu.

I still had two cabbages left from my farmshare (farmshare food stays good for a long time).  I could make cabbage soup, but I’m the only one in the house who would eat that.  I could grill the cabbage (which is delicious), but our grill isn’t working right now and that means I’d have to fix it.  I could make stuffed cabbage, but that would take way more effort than I was willing to give.  Haluski was the only reasonable answer.

Since I’m doing Weight Watchers, I needed to find a way to make this less-terrible-for-me, so that I wouldn’t break the points tracker.  I asked my friends on FaceBook for tips on making haluski less bad…..

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Their ideas were great!  And I was able to use almost all the tips I got!  So these are the modifications I used to make haluski less terrible:

  • I used red AND green cabbage.
  • I used way more cabbage than noodles (one bag of noodles to two full heads of cabbage)
  • I shredded the cabbage in my food processor and roasted it with a shredded onion and little olive oil (instead of cooking it in a pan with butter and noodles).  I added the cooked noodles in afterward.
  • I used 2 cups of chicken broth instead of butter (ok I tossed in like 1 tbsp butter, I couldn’t bear the thought of making haluski without any butter)
  • I used “smart” noodles instead of regular egg noodles.  I have no idea what makes the noodles “smart” but it’s at least marketed to make me think they’re healthier.

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Lots and lots of cabbage ready for roasting.  There was actually so much cabbage that I had to roast two full pans of it.  It cooks down very well, though.

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The final result– very cabbagey, but perfect for a belly filling dinner on an icy winters night.

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Baby Beez ate a few noodles, then tried to feed the rest of her dinner to her plastic lizard.  She was in one of those “all play, no eat” moods tonight.  The dish was a hit with me and Mr. Beez, though!

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Hog Butchering Demo and Dinner with .@JustinSeverino Amazing.

17 Dec

Cure’s been getting rave reviews since it opened, but I didn’t know about the amazing events they also host until I read Quelcy’s (of the fantastic With the Grains blog) post about the Farm Dinner prepared by Justin Severino (of Cure) at Blackberry Meadow’s Farm. I was green with envy! I suspected that these kind of events were only open to the foodie inner circle, and although I’m quite a restaurant fiend, I can’t count myself within that group. It turns out, the events are open to the public, you just need to sign up for the Cure mailing list to learn about them.

I called Mr. Beez immediately upon receiving the recent e-mail advertising the Hog Butchering Demo & Dinner. “We must go!” I declared. He happily agreed.

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I have no intentions of pursuing home butchering. I do, however, love food, and I especially love to hear people talk about the things they are passionate about. It doesn’t matter what the person is passionate about, a platform for someone to share what they love is always going to have interesting and exciting results. Justin talked all about farming practices, the philosophies guiding his restaurant, and the challenges and excitement of focusing so strictly on locally sourced goods.

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The hog butchering demo was really interesting, but the dinner was delicious.

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Charcuterie Plate. Cure’s specialty.

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The open kitchen, with the squab waiting to be prepared.

I’m not much of a pasta fan (yes, I’m a terrible Italian), but this pasta is the stuff dreams are made of. And the greens. THE GREENS. I just sat there with the delicious greens sitting in my mouth, because the flavor was so rich and amazing. I looked like an idiot but I did not care. I did not want that taste to disappear.

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Get to Cure. Eat the greens.

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OMG the greens. THE GREENS.

(PS- Cure is currently BYOB, but they’ll shortly installing a bar and getting a liquor license, and in the New Year they’ll be serving up craft cocktails and fancy beers!)
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30 before 30: Baking a Babka

15 Nov

Wow, I’ve only got a couple days til I run out of time on my 30 before 30 list! Sure, I didn’t hit some things, but I’ll get to them eventually.

Last weekend I had a super-fun time crossing off Item 26: Learn to Bake a Babka

My friend, Amy, of Straight from the Oven Bakery was my teacher for this adventure. I have to admit that for years I thought babka looked gross, and then I tried one she made, and thought “WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING FOR ALL THESE YEARS?”

Babka is a beloved Jewish dessert, that is a chocolate and cinnamon stuffed bread. It has a shortbread-like quality because it is stuffed with butter. My initial goal was to bake a babka (as in one), but a single recipe actually makes either 3 big loaves or 9 mini loaves. I ultimately went for 1 big loaf and six mini loaves. They freeze very well, but shamefully I only froze 2 of them. And we’re almost done with all the rest of them. Whoops.

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I’m glad I had such a great instructor for this activity.  The recipe for babka has about 9 steps, which is about 4 steps more than I’ll usually tolerate.  I have a very low threshold for baking effort.  Although baking took a few hours, the steps were not complicated, and the payoff was delectable.  It’s fair to say I’ll try this again.  Even though you have to invest a fair amount of effort, you get a ton of babka out of it, so this is perfect to bake if you are looking to make homemade gifts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to help myself to another buttery slice of babka!

Something we can all vote for: COOKIES

7 Nov

I stayed home with a sick Baby Beez yesterday.  In between soothing her, doing work, and (gasp) catching a catnap, I did not watch much election coverage.  I was, however, keeping up on Twitter, which left me as a stressed out mess.  By late afternoon, I was in full-on stress eating mode.  All the leftover Halloween candy was either gummy candy or hard candy, which would not suffice. 

I found this super-duper easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on the Food Network.  For ONCE, I actually had all the ingredients in my house! In addition to milk chocolate chips, I also had white chocolate chips, so in they went. 

Baking feels like such a luxury.  It really doesn’t take much time, but you do have to make sure you have the ingredients on hand, and also make sure that the 2 year old is occupied enough with something else that you can have full use of your hands for about an hour.  (Play-Doh for the kiddo does the trick nicely).  I doubt I’m going to do any serious holiday baking this year, but it was nice to have a batch of sweets in the house, that don’t have that plasticky preservative taste.

Baby Beez was not very interested in them, because she was generally unwell and not interested in anything.  That means more for me.

Secret Potatoes

8 Oct

Growing up, I wasn’t much of a homemade baked potato fan.  My mom tended to make them in the microwave and they were always chewy and the skin was limp.  Steakhouses somehow managed to get the skin crispy and the inside of the potato fluffy, but much like deep fried food and dishes involving more than 8 ingredients, I assumed that this was some sort of restaurant magic that was entirely beyond my reach.

Until I learned the secret of the potatoes.

Like anything of value, I think I learned the potato secret from the internet. HERE, my friends, is how you make crispy-outside-fluffy-inside delicious eat so many of them that you burst baked potatoes:

Put one oven rack near the middle, and put another rack right beneath it.  Put foil on the lower rack.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub the potatoes.  Prick them with a fork several times all the way around. 

Spray the potatoes with oil (using PAM or a reusable pump sprayer).  Salt the potatoes.  Make sure to oil & salt all the way around.

Place the potatoes directly on the upper rack, allow them to bake for one hour.  The foil on the lower rack will catch any oil that drips.

Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes, and ENJOY.

Although the potatoes are the absolute best when they are fresh from the oven, they also reheat pretty well.  If you’re looking for an easy meal after work, you could throw together a baked potato bar.  Although the cook time is long, the prep time is minimal, so if you can stand to wait a while to eat, you can do other things while dinner is cooking.

Stuffed Poblanos and BeezusKiddo’s Magic Trick to De-seeding Tomatoes So You Don’t Hate Your Life

19 Aug

With a crisper fat with poblano peppers thanks to the weekly farmshare, I picked out Martha Stewart’s Stuffed Poblano’s recipe for dinner. On first view, the recipe seemed like kind of a pain with all the chopping and the blending and the stuffing, but it ended up being super easy.

Stuffed Poblanos ready to go in the oven

Ready to go in the oven!

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And here it is all finished.  I ended up using mostly shredded mozz. cheese because that’s what we had in the darn fridge.  It made very little difference, because the flavor of this dish is in the peppers and other vegetables, and the cornmeal gave it a nice tamale-like texture.

I have used poblano peppers in cooking before, but have never had a good sense of how spicy they are, because they’re always mixed in with lots of other things (like in chili).  In this dish, I learned that they’ve got a little zing, but are mild enough that even spicy food crybabies like me can enjoy them.

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Summer also means eleventythousand tomatoes, and the best thing to do with eleventythousand tomatoes is make pico de gallo. I once made it using a food processor, but Mr. Beez whined because he likes salsa to be extra chunky. I’ve made it by hand ever since.

For the longest time the only way I knew how to seed tomatoes was to slice them open and cut out the seed sections. THAT TOOK SO LONG AND WAS SO MISERABLE. I hated de-seeding the stupid things so much that I tried to skip that step entirely, but then the pico de gallo wound up watery. Then I discovered this MAGIC technique, which I will share with YOU today.

(I admit, this technique is probably universal knowledge, but sometimes I am slow and stupid, so humor me here).

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Hello, fine looking tomato.

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First, you slice the top off the tomato.  See all those little sections with the seeds inside?  Remember how you used to cut up all those sections and then cut the seeds out of each and every one? Well that was stupid.

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Because all you have to do is squeeze the sections from the bottom of the tomato, up toward the top, and SQUISH, out come the seeds!

Squeezing the small tomatoes is extra fun because SQUISH TOMATO MURDER ALL OVER THE SINK! (Our parrot, Alida, is whistling “hello” in the background)

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Add a little onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and garlic (I prefer garlic powder) and ta da! Pico de gallo!

And that is the magic of making de-seeding tomatoes not totally awful!

More Farmshare Catch Up

14 Aug

I was still overloaded with eggplants, tomatillos, and tomatoes, so back to the kitchen I went to whip up something to use the excess veggies, and is easy to freeze (we can only eat so much of this stuff at once!) The tomatoes are easy to handle- they’re going to become pico de gallo. Fresh salsa doesn’t last long in our house. With the tomatillos, the easy answer would be salsa verde. That usually involves broiling the tomatillos and I didn’t want to deal with that. Also, salsa verde is not as popular with my family as other salsa varieties, so I am not confident we’d go through it as quickly.

I LOVE my slow cooker, and found a great recipe for Tomatillo Pork Chili Verde stew (you can easily substitute chicken or seitan for the pork).

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This was a big hit for both Mr. Beez and I. We didn’t give any to Baby Beez because I didn’t feel like cleaning stew up off the ceiling and floor and everything. But Mr. Beez and I loved it. It’s got a little zing but not too spicy, and it is plenty flavorful.

I also had TONS of eggplant to use…

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I used up the eggplant with a lamb and eggplant bake that turned out AMAZING. I don’t have the recipe handy this second, but if anyone is interested, leave a comment and I’ll dig it up. The recipe calls for lamb shoulder, but for some reason the Iggle only had lamb roast. The result was that (even after draining the grease) there was a lot more fat that cooked into the tomato/spices/lamb mix, and that gave the dish a rich, decadent, but not overpowering flavor.

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Despite there being a lot of eggplants in the dish, it really does not taste heavily of eggplant. This is the kind of dish you can sneak onto the plate of a resistant eggplant eater, and not have them hate you for it.

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#BlogHer12 — in the full swing of things

3 Aug

Mr. Beez and I flew in to NYC yesterday, and started our visit with a storytelling performance by his friend (and her storytelling class) at the 3 of Cups. The $4 happy hour sangria, bacala bruschetta, and portabello pesto/asiago pizza were delicious, but I was really blown away by the storytelling. The performance included tales both comedic and somber, and all deeply personal.

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The calm of the story performance has been contrasted by the complete insanity that has been the BlogHer conference. The conference opened with inspiring words from our Commander in Chief.

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Mr. Beez and I also had a few drinks and snacks, and even tossed around a bowling ball, at the BlogHer parties last night.

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Today has been jam-packed with panels. I’ve been blogging since 2004, so I think I have a pretty good handle on how to produce content. It’s the technical and strategic side I need a lot of help with. The iPhoneography panel was the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. I got my iPhone back in January, and I haven’t used my digital camera since (mostly because it’s 5 years old, and technically inferior to the iPhone). The panel didn’t have the time to go through all the details of photo editing apps with a fine toothed comb, but I did get a good footing on where to start for some quick and dirty lessons in photo editing.

I also attended a panel on pitching to publishers, which was very interesting and informative. A lot of the bloggers here blog for money or sponsorships. I’m in a different boat, because, although our professional responsibility rules lag behind in specifically addressing the intersection of blogging and legal practice, blogging for money is an ethical can of worms I don’t care to deal with. Despite this big difference, I have met a lot of very nice people, and received a lot of business cards for blogs I look forward to reading.

Martha Stewart spoke during today’s lunchtime keynote, but I was still so overstimulated from EVERYTHING GOING ON that I don’t remember in the slightest what on earth she talked about.

There are 3 large expo halls which, likewise, are looking to set up review relationships with bloggers, or to even garner favorable publicity on their webpages. I’ve spent a little time wandering through the exhibitor halls, and taking pictures with REE DRUMMOND, the Lorax, and the Jimmy Dean sun guy (yes, the one from the commercial), and a Jamba Juice bananaman.

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My most valuable takeaway today has been that I really need to work harder on engaging with readers. Commenting and retweets are the currency of social media, and if I want others to read my thoughts, I need to work harder at reading and responding to theirs. I’ve felt a bit lost over the last few months, not entirely sure where to go to find interesting blogs in the MASSIVE space of the internet, but now with the heap of blogger cards at my side, I’ve got a good place to start.

Quiche for Lunch

21 Jul

I woke up this morning with a taste for quiche.  I debated where I should go to pick some up, whether La Gourmandine, Dozen Bakeshop, Jean-Marc Chatellier allllll the way out in Millvale, or take the easy way out and just roll down the hill to Costco.  Then I realized, HELLO, I have ALL the ingredients for a quiche right here in my house, and it will take just as long for me to drive out to pick one up, as it would for me to whip one together.

The nice thing about quiche is that it needs no real recipe. You just throw it all together and bake it.  It can also be a great way to reinvent leftovers, by tossing in whatever vegetables or meats you happen to have in the fridge.

In anticipation of an iPhone photography workshop at BlogHer, I also just downloaded LensFlare, so taking some pictures in the kitchen was a perfect opportunity to play with the app (please excuse gratuitous overuse of effects).

Now shhhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I’m going to share with you my top secret not-recipe-just-throw-it-together for quiche!

Scrounge up some veggies and cut them up.  Here we have red peppers and scallions.

Crack all the eggs in your fridge into a bowl (here: 9), and whisk them.  Then you add in some milk (maybe 1/2 cup to a cup) and some salt and pepper. Then mix it together with the veggies.  Also mix in some shredded cheese or meats if you like.  Feel free to add in whatever seasonings you’d like as well, but don’t ask me what quantities.  I keep it simple with just the salt and pepper, in the amount of “enough.”

Put pre-made pie crusts into the pie pans, and do something fancy with the crusts if you are capable of that (I am not).  Pour the filling in the crusts.  Cover the crust edge with foil OR YOU WILL BE SORRY (unless you like terribly burnt crusts, then you will not be sorry).

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, then take off the foil and bake another 50 minutes.

TA DA! There you have it! Delicious quiche for lunch, and it involved driving zero miles and spending zero dollars!