Italian Sausage and Potato Bake

I cannot decide if my method of cobbling together and tweaking recipes is a strength or a weakness in my cooking.  On one hand, I can “make and make-do” with that I have.   On the other hand, it is extremely hard to repeat successful meals.  In attempt to fix make my food more repeatable, I have decided to start documenting dinners again!

Italian Sausage and Potato Bake
(serves 4)

Ingredients:

4 Italian Sausages
5 red potatoes (peeled and diced into ½ in cubes)
½ Sweet Onion (diced)
1 T Oregano
1 T Basil
½ t Ancho Chile Powder
1 T soy sauce
1 Mini bottle White Wine (187 ml)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Butter

Vermont Sharp Cheddar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°.  In a sauté pan over medium heat brown sausages, removed from casings so that it crumbles.  Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside in a casserole dish.

Add the onions to the sauté pan with a tablespoon of butter, cook until brown.* Add the spices for about a minute and remove the onions and spices to the casserole dish.

Sauté the potatoes until about 30% of the potatoes are brown and crispy. Move the potatoes to the casserole dish and stir together.  Add the white wine and soy sauce.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes covered and then 25 min uncovered, or until the potatoes are soft.  Grate a sharp cheese, we like Vermont sharp cheddar, over top and serve!

Changes for the Future:

Add garlic.

*Side Note on Onions:  My husband and I hate the texture of onions, so I like to make something like an onion jam.  To do this, dice the onions very small before sautéing over medium/medium-high.  Cook the onions until brown, and add enough water to cover the onions.  Keep cooking until the onions are very soft, and reach a jam like consistency.  Onions prepped like this lose their crunchy texture and provide a rich caramelized onion flavor to any dish!

Based off of this recipe: http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/side/potatoes/italian-sausage-and-potatoes.html

Pie!

This, this is about pumpkin pie. The real deal. This is one of my specialties. I got a hug from a manager who doesn’t like to be touched after receiving this pie. That’s how good my pies are. Part of the deliciousness comes from my crust. I don’t buy crusts (this goes along with my feelings about homemade cakes and icings…), partially because they are so friggin’ easy to make.

Pie Crust

2/3 cup cold butter
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
5-6 tbsp cold water (iced)

Pumpkin Pie Filling

1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup sugar
4 eggs
¼ cup molasses

1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger

1 29 oz can of Pumpkin
2 12 oz cans of Evaporated milk.

 

Pie crust is simultaneously very tricky and shockingly easy. There is a trick to knowing what looks right and what feels right – but the steps themselves are simple and easy to learn. Fill a wide cup or mug with cold water, drop a few ice cubes in. Put this to the side. In a bowl wide enough to get your hands in dump the flour and salt in together. Cut the butter into small pieces, I usually cut the stick in half long ways and then cut 1/3 tbsp slices. It doesn’t need to be precise; the point is to make small pieces. Put these pieces into the flour. Now, I want you to get in there and do this with your bare hands, some people use pastry cutters and I will tell you this is unnecessary. You will never learn what pie dough feels like if you don’t do it by hand. Using a rubbing motion (thumb rubbing against fingers, from ring to index) make thin plates of butter in the flour. This will tire out your hands until you get use to it. What you are looking for in small pieces of butter incorporated into the flour, roughly the size of a pea, but flat. Even though I am a strong advocate of using your hands, once the flour/butter is a consistent texture – STOP. Go no further. Remember that cup of water? Now is when you use it. There is some scientific reason why you want cold butter, and the cold water keeps the butter cold, but I frankly don’t remember it. 1 tablespoon at a time, sprinkle it into your dough and work the dough with your hands. It usually takes about 5-6 tablespoons for the dough to come together. Lightly knead the dough, and turn it out on a counter. Only knead it until it is smooth. This recipe makes two crusts, so cut the ball in half and roll each out.

Once you have rolled out the dough, put it in a pie tin, trim and crimp the edges. Prick the inside and bake for 15-20 minutes at 425. Let cool and sit to the side.

If this is confusing, ask me and I will teach you how to make pie crust. It’s not as if there is anyone who reads this who doesn’t know me personally.

Pie filling is much simpler. Mix it all together. I generally do it in the order the ingredients are listed. Mix well. Be aware that evaporated milk DOES have a shelf life, and check the dates on the cans before you go get other supplies, so when it comes time to make pie you don’t have to through them all out and buy overpriced evaporated milk at 7-11. Clearly you didn’t plan ahead, and baking in my life is frequently done for events. For which I am already late. *shrugs*

Pour the filling into those tasty crusts. I’m going to warn you that this quantity of filling should make 3-4 pies. Again with the planning ahead problem. I threw some pretzel crusts together and stuck it in cupcake pans and poured the pumpkin on top. It’ll probably taste good.

Bake the pies for 15 minutes at 425. Reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes to an hour.

(Pictures to come, when I get around to it.)

I have a blog? Oh, right. I forgot.

Maybe I didn’t forget. I just… neglected it. I just couldn’t live up to the shame of burning rice. Yeah, that’s it.

I’m going to make a promise to you, if anyone still reads. Well, maybe not a promise, but a statement that I intend on keeping. Maybe.

In an effort to get this blog going again I am going to write up a bunch of the projects and foods I have made or that I remember making. I am even going to try and include some of the crafts I have worked on recently. Or just post pictures of old projects.

Part of this pseudo promise includes continuing new posts while posting retroactively. Old projects and foods will be marked accordingly. My goal is to post at least one old and one new SOMETHING per week. The closer I draw to finals, the less I expect to be able to hold to this. In which case I will continue to try and post something old each week.

Good luck to me.

Rice Pudding?

I am about to divulge my greatest shame.  Last week – I burnt rice.  I had never before in my LIFE burned rice.  I didn’t just burn it – I turned the bottom quarter inch of rice into black char – the smoke alarm went off – it was BAD.

Now, in my defense I was sick.  Which is why I so desperately wanted rice pudding in the first place.  The Joel had been sick, and had maybe passed his sick to me?  I’m still not sure if it was the SAME sick.  Either way, I was miserable, my throat hurt and I had been sleeping all day.  The Joel came over to hang out.  But, damnit, I wanted rice pudding.  So I put rice on – turned it up to boiling (like you do) and turned it down to simmer, and put the lid on a started the timer.  Or at least I thought I did – what I really did was turn the OTHER burner on to low, and left the rice burner on high.  The Joel noticed the burning smell seconds before the smoke alarm went off.

After starting to clean out the pot – all the bottom rice was burned.  Then I discovered it was burned ON and there I was with no steel wool.  It was a week until I went to the store and remembered to pick up copper scrubbies – that pot is now clean and silver like its supposed to be.

And as wonderful as this story of my shame is – I did redeem myself.  I made rice pudding.  It was delicious.

I have a favorite recipe that requires different milk, and coconut milk and more spices – but lacking those things I made a simple version

Rice Pudding

1 cup Jasmine rice
4 cups 2% milk
3/4-1 cup sugar
vanilla

I know you are generally supposed to wash rice – to get the starchyness off of it – but I wanted it to be clumpy and delicious so I didnt.  Put 1 cup of rice in a pot, with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil.  Once it is boiling reduce heat to a simmer (low heat), and cover.  Let cook for 20 minutes.

Generally rice pudding uses heavy cream or at least whole milk.  But I had neither.  Turns out you can make a damn tasty rice pudding that isn’t quite as rich, but extremely satisfying.

If you though ahead enough to do this in a big pot – don’t bother to let the rice cool, just stir it and add the milk and sugar.  Bring that to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.  Let cook about 20-30 minutes, or until thick.  This is something you can set a timer, wander back and forth every few minutes stirring the pot and socializing or going on your computer.  Add the vanilla and simmer another 10-15 minutes.  CONSUUUUUUME!

I like this best warm with cinnamon sprinkled on top.  Whipped cream is good too.  I also like it cold.

Ok, I just love rice pudding.

I was good at this for a little while…

I have noticed that the amount of posts I have are  not equal to the amount of interesting foods I have made.  Or to the amount of recipes I’ve tried and putzed around with.   This is going to be my attempt to update various recipes (and procrastinate, stupid project) Some may contain the date which it was tried, if I happen to remember.  Others, well, they won’t.  And you’ll like it.  Or you won’t, doesn’t matter to me.

On Monday, February 8 – I made parsnip fritters.

Parsnip fritters are super easy.  I found an interesting recipe off of Tastespotting…  and then I had to fool around with ratios.

2 large parsnips
3/4 cup flour
1 tbsp buttermilk power + 1/3 cup milk
1 egg
Salt and Pepper!

Peel and grate the parsnips.  The recipe called for buttermilk, and I only had power but I wanted it a little creamier so I added milk instead of water to the buttermilk powder.  Add the buttermilk, milk, flour and eggs and mix it all in a bowl with the grated parsnips.  It should have a batter like consistency around the parsnip shreds.

On medium heat, put 2 tbsp butter and a few tablespoons of vegetable oil (for a lovely buttery crust but lowering the smoke point!!) in a pan.  Pick your size, the larger it is – the more you can make each batch.  Of course, if you only have a little pan, there is nothing stopping you from making these.  You just have to be more patient – I know it’s hard – but it is totally worth it!   Spoon out the fritter batter, pat down into patties in the pan.  Let them fry a few minutes each side – until they are golden brown and are sticking together.

Serve to your friends and enjoy the praise.

Curry Time!

I am either incapable or uninterested in following a recipe exactly.  I inevitably change something, whether it is a key ingredient or something minor.  Usually, it has to do with what I have on hand, foods I strongly like/dislike or what I can find at Meijers.  A little while ago I found a really good looking recipe here it is in French, but there is a handy translate button on the top.  It asked for green peppers – which I can barely stand the smell of, and coriander leaves – which I couldn’t find at the store.  Though, after researching it later I discovered it was the same as cilantro, so I’m glad I left it out.

I had actually been craving some sort of curry dish, and was also looking for interesting ways to use the pork I got other then as Schnitzel (which I made last weekend)

 

Tikka Pork

Mariande

1 Onion, minced
2 in Ginger, minced
3 Cloves Garlic, mince
1 Cup yogurt (plain)
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 ground pepper

1 lb cubed pork

Cube the pork.  Mince the onion, garlic and ginger.  Add spices and yogurt to the cubed and minced materials, preferably in a bag.  Allow to marinate at least overnight.  I didn’t actually have coriander powder, so I ground the seeds in my mortar and pestle.

Ready to cook dinner?!  Now is the time!  Pull that bag of marinated meat out of the fridge!

Tikka Pork – Dinner Time!

1/4 cup oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 (large) clove garlic, minced
1 in ginger, minced
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp garam masala
Salt

Add the oil to a large sauce pan (big enough to just have one layer of meat), set it a little above medium.  When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and ginger.  Cook about 2-3 min, stirring constantly.  Add the bay leaf and fenugreek, I also had to hand grind my fenugreek seeds.  Once those are incorporated in the pan, add the marinated meat, and everything that has been sitting with it.  Cook on high for about 5 mins.  Bring the heat down to medium and cooka bout 30-35 min.  Add the garam masala and salt at the end, cook for a few more minutes.  Serve over rice!

I ended up scooping out some of the sauce before it was done, because it seemed too soupy.

The roommate enjoyed it quite a bit, as did I.  Way tasty.

Russian foods!

Last semester as I was spending more time with my boyfriend, I ended up cooking for him a few times.  He, in turn, wanted to cook for me.  The day we had planned to do it on, a blizzard hit Kzoo and like hell if I was going outside to go shopping for ingredients, so I made something out of my cupboard instead.  Now that I am back in this lovely city, he decided to make something for me.  There is one little problem, he gets cooking in THEORY but has very little practice, so it turned into group cooking.

He quite enjoys Russia, and Russian history, so picked Pelmeni, a Russian dumpling/meat pie thingamajig.  It was quite tasty.  I shall provide the quantities we used, but beware that we had WAY more filling than we had dough for.  I also had never made these, and I fudged some of the recipes we used, so these might not be accurate…

Pelemi

1 onion, minced
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
Salt and Pepper (lots of pepper!!)

Saute the onions until soft, I use a not particularly correct method.  As they brown I add water.  This makes mushier onions, which I prefer because I hate their texture and love their flavor.  Feel free to not do this.  Brown the meat in the pan with the onions, add salt and pepper to taste.  Drain the fat.

2 1/2 Cups flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp canola oil
Salt

So, this dough originally called for 2 cups of flour and a cup of milk.  I’m going to tell you right now, that is a bad idea.  It will create a dough much to sticky to work with.  Combine the ingredients in a bowl or in a shallow volcano on your lovely counter top.  Work into a stretch elastic dough.  Roll into snakes about 1 in in diameter, and cut eat roll into 1 in pieces.  I squished them into circles with my hand.  One place suggested a glass bottom.  Whatevs.

Fill the circles with the meat, wetting the edge of half the circle and fold into a half moon shape.  Take care to not overfill.  Otherwise they might explode.  Into a horrible DOOM MESS OF FILLINGS!!!!!  We managed to avoid this.  We deep fried our meat pockets in about a 1/4 in of oil over medium heat.  Flip to brown/cook both sides.

Serve with whatever condiments you like.  The Joel preferred a combination of mustard and ketchup.  The Roomie like ketchup and miracle whip, I do believe.   I could be high, I can’t quite remember.  He came home after we had eaten and didn’t eat with us.   I liked either BBQ or ketchup and that tangy zip.

So, The Joel cooking may have turned into a cooking lesson for him.   But it is all good, as was the food.