Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sweet & Spicy Popcorn

Welcome to your new favorite snack.

Sweet & Spicy Popcorn

You have two options here. If you like drier, lighter popcorn, (and hate washing burny pots,) try option A. If you like your popcorn a little more coated and crunchy, (my preferred method,) try option B. (keep in mind with option B, it will be very important to take the popcorn off the heat just before it is done, or you will have a major mess and burned sugar.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the following:

3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne or finely ground red pepper flakes (can leave this out if you wish)

In a large pot with lid, on high heat, cook 1/2 cup popcorn in 1/4 cup oil. When you hear a second or two between pops, take popcorn off heat and toss into mixing bowl, mixing all popcorn thoroughly until all ingredients are combined well. Optional: add 2 tbsp melted butter and toss until well mixed.


In large pot with lid, combine:

1/4 cup oil (canola, grapeseed, etc)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne or finely ground red pepper flakes (can leave this out if you wish)
1/2 cup popcorn

On high heat, cook all ingredients, tossing and moving pot constantly to avoid sticking and burning, until popping slows to about 1 second between pops. Remove from heat immediately and pour into large mixing bowl.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Almighty Pumpkins!

This recipe comes from my mom. When i was in elementary school, we had the best Halloween party at my house to end all parties. Nothing has ever compared to that party and i remember it very fondly, well over 20 years later. (ahem!) My mom made these "cookies" for the party and i still remember how good they were. They are sorta like cookies, sorta like muffin tops and sorta like the best thing you ever ate.

"Almighty Pumpkins" (aka the infamous pumpkin cookies)

Equipment: 2 med-large mixing bowls, small saucepan, a couple medium-large spoons, hand mixer or heavy stand mixer if you’ve got it, silicone/rubber spatula or wooden spoon, whisk, flat spatula, cookie sheets, platter or plates or storage container.

For cookie:
1 cup shortening or butter (plus a little extra for greasing cookie sheets)
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cup pumpkin (use an entire 15 oz can)
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup raisins

3 tbsp butter
4 tsp milk
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
¾ tsp Vanilla extract

Frosting! (make this first! since you will Frost cookies while they are hot!)

Combine butter, milk, and brown sugar  in saucepan. Cook on med-med/high until all ingredients/sugar are dissolved and you start to see very small bubbles on the edge. (do not scorch with high heat and you do not need to boil.) Let this cool. Then stir in confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until well combined.

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Cream sugar and butter together until smooth and light in color and texture. (hand mixer or heavy stand mixer would definitely help here. i would beat with paddle attachment 5-10 mins) Add pumpkin and egg until thoroughly mixed. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Use a whisk to mix all of  these well. Slowly add dry ingredients into your wet ingredients until well combined. With spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold in butterscotch chips and raisins. Spoon onto greased cookie sheets in roughly tablespoon (or a wee bit larger) size blobs. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until very lightly browned. Drizzle with frosting or cover them like a glaze, whatever you want. You will be in love forever and want to write your own vows when you marry these cookies. And they lived happily ever after. The End.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Just edited the curry fried rice recipe just a little, a couple tweaks. It will knock your socks off, and please please use fresh ginger for it, it makes a HUGE difference. :) yum! yum!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Let's start with an easy favorite: Curry Fried Rice

Fried rice always seemed like a mystery to me--A dish that could only be made by Thai or Chinese restaurants, one that could never ever be duplicated properly at home and could only be cooked by those who had special secret knowledge. Part of that special knowledge involved how to cook rice. (!)
For my fried rice, i use a rice cooker. i highly recommend them. They are very inexpensive, very easy to use and save you so much time and aggravation. The best part: perfect rice. Your formulas for rice cooker are as follows: 1 cup uncooked rice=2 cups cooked.  1 ½ cups water for every cup of uncooked rice goes in your cooker. If not using a rice cooker, follow instructions on your package of rice. i recommend using plain long grain rice for this or jasmine rice. Also, if you have trouble with your rice and don't have a cooker, go pick up some steamed rice at your local Chinese/Thai place. i won't tell anyone, and it's a great shortcut and you'll have great rice.

Use *leftover* rice for this if possible. Cook the rice the night before, pick up from restaurant the day before or put rice in the cooker while you're getting ready for work and then when it's done, shove the whole pot in the fridge before you leave and it will magically turn into leftover rice before you get home to cook dinner. You don't technically have to use leftover rice, you can make this on a whim, but it's better with leftover rice. Also, i *highly recommend* using fresh ginger for this. i just made this again with fresh, and it was a bazillion times better.

Ok, let's less reading and more cooking, shall we?
Yum! Yum!
Curry Fried Rice
(recipe serves one with generous portion and leftovers, or two for smaller portion. i double this recipe for the two of us and we have lots of leftovers.) p.s. i love leftovers of this. i eat it for breakfast with sriracha and it starts my day magnificently. 

Equipment: Rice Cooker (or Chinese restaurant) (or pot with lid for cooking rice), Wok or non stick large chef's pan, knives, garlic press (if you have one), spatula (do not use metal spatula on non-stick cookware, instead use a silicone flipper) or wooden spoon, bowls and one plate to set aside ingredients as you cook, measuring spoons (or a magic eye), etc.


3 cups cooked rice
1 cup frozen petite peas 
1 cup frozen edamame (can omit if you're allergic to or avoid soy but the nuttiness really works here)
2 small-med sweet onions (* if you dont have sweet onions or can't find them, drizzle a tsp or two of honey or agave over your onions while you cook them to sweeten them up.)
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tbsp ground ginger (or same amt fresh grated ginger)
½ tbsp muchi curry (*this is the hot curry. start here and go up if you want it hot. For regular curry powder, use at least 1 tbsp)
½ tbsp tumeric
1 tbsp dried parsley ( or 2 tbsp fresh)
about 4-6 tbsp sesame oil, or plain vegetable oil
8 oz can (approx) of pineapple chunks (more magic power for you if you use fresh- 1 cup)
½ tbsp sesame seeds
about 2 tsp honey or agave syrup 
½ tbsp soy sauce
2-3 eggs, beaten
1-3 tbsp reserved pineapple juice from can (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook or gather or pick up your 3 cups cooked rice. 
Heat Wok or chef's pan on high until a flick of water goes SSSSS and add 1 tbsp oil,  and chopped onions. (plus honey or agave if not using sweet onion) Salt and pepper your onions, and after about 2 minutes, add your garlic and parsley. Cook about 3 more minutes or until onions are soft and fragrant. Add Edamame and peas to the pan and cook until soft, 5-10 minutes. Transfer everything into large bowl set to the side. Place pan back on heat, add 1/2 tbsp oil and pour in your beaten eggs.  Move around eggs in pan, peeling away from the sides, but forming a sort of egg patty until roughly set (bottom looks like cooked egg and top is creamy eggy glisteny) and flip. Cook another minute or two until egg is cooked through and remove from pan. Set aside on plate and break up egg with wooden spoon or spatula. Return pan again to heat and add 1/2 tbsp oil and pineapple.  Stir and add sesame seeds, soy sauce, and 1 tsp honey or agave.  Cook for about 2-5 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside. Return pan to heat, add 2 tbsp oil , ginger, curry and tumeric.  Leave on heat for around one minute and then add cooked rice.  Stir, flip, turn, and encourage your rice until all spices are evenly distributed and your rice is happily looking up at you, begging for praise on how bright it is, wanting you to be proud of how sunshiney it is. Sing a little Donovan tune to your rice (Sunshine Superman or Mellow Yellow will work nicely) then add all your previously cooked items and optional pineapple juice, mix in with your rice to distribute evenly and create magical fried rice. *Note: if you use leftover rice for this, your rice will seem a little dry when you first put it in and are distributing spices and oil. But don't worry, it will moisten when you add the other ingredients.

Serve with sriracha hot sauce if you like it spicy. Eat it for breakfast and see how much pep and disco you have while traveling to work or school.

Voila! Eat!

Sunshine came softly through my a-window today
Could've tripped out easy a-but I've a-changed my ways
It'll take time, I know it but in a while
You're gonna be mine, I know it, we'll do it in style
'Cause I made my mind up you're going to be mine...

Hello all you happy people

Allright, here we are.
i am sharing with all of you and all the world, i suppose, my yummy foods and my history. i am: French, Sicilian, German, Polish, Belgian, Lithuanian, American. (and adopted Irish.)  i believe in the rich history, tradition, culture and togetherness passed on through food. i believe in the power food and the act of cooking has to unite families and friends. i also believe that food can be made simple and that some of the finest and most delicious food in the world is "peasant food." i grew up eating very simple food; the simple dishes of the working class European immigrant family. The food that many of us in this country grew up eating. The tried and true, the ones that warm our hearts and our bellies.

With the occasionally more exotic or complicated dish thrown in here or there, you will find simple recipes here. Most of this will not be too difficult to prepare, and you won't need too much special equipment. i will tell you when you do. i'll tell you the shortcuts.  Most recipes will be vegetarian, and few will have fish. You should have a rough working knowledge of your kitchen and a few tools and some pots and pans and you're ready to go.

A recommendation: Even if you are a very casual cook, and have no intention to buy yourself a stand mixer or a food processor or even a garlic press, go out and buy yourself an oven thermometer. Almost *all* ovens are fairly off, and some by 50 degrees or more. Ever wonder why your muffins always burn or rise too quickly or why your frozen pizza just never cooks right? It's not you, it's your oven. Go to the store (Target works) and buy an oven thermometer. They're only about $5 and trust me, it's worth it. When you get home, pop that puppy in your oven and set it to 300F. Forget about it for about half an hour or even 45 minutes. Go watch an episode of Law & Order. When it's over, check your oven thermometer. The temperature will then tell you what your oven is doing. Whatever is the difference between the *immediate* reading (dont leave the oven door open and file your nails before you read the temp) and 300F is your adjustment. From now on, always use this figure to adjust your oven for correct temperature. And double and triple check. When you preheat for those magic special brownies, watch another episode of Law & Order while the oven is heating up (with your adjusted number) and make sure you have the temp you need. Trust me, you will be ever so pleased with your newly precise baking results all because of that $5 doohickey.

Allright then, on we go.