Friday, May 28, 2010

Challenge: Vanilla Marshmallows

Small pillows of fluffy, sugary goodness. Homemade marshmallows are the perfect snack for someone with a sweet tooth. That is, if you can eat just one. And they are nothing like the ones you can get at the grocery store. These are worth eating, spending the calories. If I had chocolate to dip them in, I would do it, because chocolate-covered marshmallows are one of my favorite treats. I might have to squirrel away a few to try later...

I was nervous, though.

Boy, was I nervous.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

About a month ago, my friend Sunny had a birthday. She and I, as well as our friend Julie, are firm believers that no woman should have to cook dinner on her birthday. So Julie and I made her dinner. It didn't actually end up being on her birthday because she went out with family. So she didn't cook anyway. But, this was our way of helping her celebrate. Planning birthday menus is fun, if laborious. I always want the meal to be special, so casseroles don't cut it, and it has to be delicious to the birthday person. We knew Sunny doesn't love Italian food, which ruled out a lot of my "special" meals, and we knew that she doesn't like curry or spicy foods, which ruled out some of Julie's favorites. (I promise, she's not as picky as she sounds right here!) So we brainstormed and then found a recipe for really tender pork chops on Mel's Kitchen Cafe. That was it. Julie put it together and made some potatoes and I baked breadsticks. The one thing I knew was that this dinner had better incorporate homemade bread in some form because Sunny does not bake but LOVES homemade bread. She is a jill of all trades (she replaced Julie's toilet once) and prefers repayment in the form of baked goods. We, of course, are happy to oblige. We also made molten chocolate cakes which ended up being not so molten, but still yummy. But the pork chops.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Some days are soup days. Especially in the fall and spring, when we have so many in-between days--one day will be nice, and the next...well, not so nice. Those days, when it's cold and rainy (or even snowy), call for soup. It warms the soul and makes the days seem less disappointing. Soup just does that. We've had a lot of those days lately...spring has been slow in coming this year. We put our tomato plants in just this week, even though they can usually go in safely after Mother's Day here in Utah. (I know, I know...just two extra weeks. But that is two extra weeks we have to wait for garden tomatoes!)

Needless to say, we've had lots of soup. This minestrone, though, is great all year. It's light enough that you don't feel overwhelmed when it's warm outside, but nice and hot when it's cool outside.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Indian Cauliflower and Potatoes

My first exposure to Indian cuisine was when I was a junior in college. Near the university I attended, there is a very popular Indian restaurant run by some Indian immigrants. At the recommendation of my friend, I tried the Chicken Coconut Korma.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Over the course of my education, I visited that restaurant frequently. I share my passion for Indian food with my husband and we ate there while we dated at least once a month, often two or three times a month. Needless to say, I was disappointed I wouldn't be able to get my Indian fix when we moved to Los Angeles.

Now, I know what you're all thinking: there are dozens of Indian restaurants in LA! How could I worry?

Well, as it turns out, I ended up with something even better than a dozen Indian restaurants.

I ended up with my own Indian chef.


Sorry everyone, for the mini sabbatical last week. I had company and between preparing my house and hosting, I was pretty busy. But everyone has left and my house is quiet. I will get posting again, I promise. And there are some good things coming, too! Indian cauliflower, strawberry ice cream, minestrone...They're worth the wait, I promise. Again, sorry to abandon the blog for a week.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sticky Coconut Chicken

I mentioned earlier that I buy my meat in bulk when it's on sale and freeze it. This works out great. Except that it's often unpredictable when meat will go on sale again, so when  my stores get low, I tend to get very protective. Yes, I'm crazy.

So, yesterday, I went to make dinner. I'd found a recipe for sticky coconut chicken (and I LOVE coconut). But when I looked for chicken, all I found was two small bags of chicken pieces and a half breast. Not suitable for grilling (or pan-frying, as I had planned on). And I wondered if this dish would be worth it, using up the rest of my chicken. What if it wasn't as tasty as I imagined it would be? Would I have used up my chicken for no reason? But, there was enough there for just me and Jeff, I didn't know what else to make, so I opted to cut up the breast and make it a stir-fry type dish. It worked great! I mixed the marinade and poured it right in with the frozen chicken and left it for about an hour, and once the chicken had thawed enough, I cut up the breast and threw it back in the marinade.

I don't know why I was worried. The dish was delicious and definitely something I'll be making again. It had a great punchy flavor and the sweet was perfectly balanced. I actually didn't take pictures of this dish before I began eating because I was apathetic about it; I couldn't imagine that it would be good enough to warrant a post. But as soon as I had taken a bite, I frantically turned to the kitchen to see if Jeff had left any so I could assemble a plate to photograph. It really was that good.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I love PF Changs. Love it. We don't go often, but when we do, it never disappoints. The food is so flavorful. Nothing is bland.

Part of the reason we don't go very often is that we have to order lettuce wraps as an appetizer. We have to. And then, it's just a lot of food after everything is said and done. Sure, you can always take what's left home, but it's never as good. Plus, if you are going somewhere after, you really can't. I always overindulge at PF Changs because it's just that good. And then I feel gross. Overeating is not a good thing.

So, I have seen lots of PF Changs imitation lettuce wraps recipes floating around the internet and I have never tried them. First, because I doubt that I could recreate the goodness at home, and second because the ingredient lists are always super long. No thanks.

Monday, May 3, 2010

No idea what to make for dinner...try marinated pork chops!

Sometimes when I don't know what to make for dinner (even though I've already laid a menu for the week...) I come up with great ad-libbed dinners. Other times, I just don't cook and we eat toast. Hey, just keeping it real.

Last week, I came up with something good. I have no idea where the idea came from, because it's really just a basic marinade with an Asian twist. It's probably a simplified conglomerate of many recipes I have read over the years. But it did the job! The sauce was pretty rich; next time, I'd dilute it before thickening it. Don't get me wrong; it was good, just strong. The best part is, you probably have all the ingredients in your refrigerator!