Sunday, October 5, 2008


As I spent the week being rather good, so far as overspending on food goes, I decided to make up for it in a delicious, extravagant meal out with friends tonight. We decided to take a walk over to Seva, a wonderful vegetarian restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor. Although I usually go for their massive, delicious sandwiches (my favorite is BBQ eggplant, although the portobello mushroom burger is also excellent) tonight I had scrumptious goat cheese ravioli, topped with a rich sauce, oodles of button mushrooms and chopped walnuts. The portions are quite generous, so I certainly didn't need more food...but my friends and I decided to order chips and guacamole, and Seva's amazing yam fries as appetizers. I love yam fries, and Seva's are the best I've tasted thus far. They have this wonderful balance of sweet, savory and salty; and if, like me, you enjoy them with a liberal coating of Seva's aioli, they're perfectly spicy as well.

It's been an excellent food weekend in general, really. Yesterday the Boyfriend was in town, and his family was kind enough to take both of us out to dinner at Knight's, also in downtown Ann Arbor. I had a lovely Classic Reuben, as well as a nice green salad with house-made balsamic vinaigrette. To add to all of this loveliness, there was wonderful fall weather this weekend, highs in the mid-sixties, and the Boyfriend and I decided to buy doughnuts and apple cider for a snack, along with apple slices and caramel dip. So the past two days definitely have made up for a week of merely fair to okay dorm food.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Seeing as I haven't been doing much cooking...

and when I have gotten a chance to make food, I have been without a camera to document it...for now my blog will become a record of both my baking/cooking exploits and my food adventures as a college student. A place for me to whine about icky dorm food, and celebrate the days I decide to treat myself to an evening eating out. Unfortunately, I remain camera-less (Christmas present?), so it'll be a text-only blog for a while too.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

College Food Challenge

I just moved into my dorm room yesterday, and while there were many pleasant surprises (larger room than expected, wood floor instead of tile, drapes instead of icky plastic blinds) the fact remains that I no longer have a stove or oven within my living space. My residence hall doesn't even have a communal-kitchenette-sort-of-deal, so for the next year or so (barring visits home, to my boyfriend's house, and to my friends' residence halls with kitchen access) I'll be cooking and attempting to bake using only the following appliances: a hot-pot express, a microwave and possibly a rice-cooker. So far, I only have the microwave and the hot-pot, but I might need to visit my favorite grocery store of all time, this giant Chinese grocery store, to invest in a rice cooker. If anyone is reading and feels like sharing their favorite microwave or hot-pot recipes, I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tantalizing Tomatoes!

Although there are quite a few food-blog events that I note, and then never take the time to complete, this event, hosted by Joelen's Culinary Adventures, was one that I just couldn't pass up. Of course, as per usual I'm writing my post at the very last minute...

As a friendly "Iron Chef" competition, this blogging adventure simply required participants to make a dish based around that incredible summer fruit (or veggie), the tomato. I decided to make two different types of tomato; a pan-fried green tomato, and a sweet red-tomato relish. Really, it was a tomato jam, but my parents are rather squeamish about savory food items in "jam", and thus it became a relish.

Both versions of the tomato turned out very nicely; the slight tart-ness of the fried green tomato was balanced nicely by the sweetness of the tomato jam. I kept the jam chunky, but I might puree the tomatoes in the future, and serve it as more of a spread.

The recipe I used for the fried tomatoes was from (originally from Cookie, by Victoria Granoff) at this link. Today I felt comfortable enough to tweak the recipe quite a bit, in that I used panko crumbs instead of cornmeal, added considerably more paprika to the panko crumbs, and pan-fried it in olive oil instead of deep-frying them in vegetable oil. The tomato jam recipe is also from, from a recipe that included the tomato jam to be served with turkey medallions, found at this link.

After taking a few pictures, I devoured my plate-ful (I didn't actually finish cooking until around 8:15pm, due to issues with the cupcakes I was baking at the same time) before realizing that this dish could make a great play on eggplant parmesan! So next time, I think I'll serve the dish in a stack; green tomato slices, topped with tomato jam and sprinkled with fresh mozzarella, perhaps stuck under the broiler for some nice color. Of course, it's quite a broad interpretation of eggplant parmesan (green tomato instead of eggplant, tomato jam instead of sauce, mozzarella insted of parmesan...) but still. It might make a nice presentation.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Is anyone out there....?

Because if you are there, and you know how to make gnocchi, I want to hear from you. I made my third attempt at those confounding Italian potato dumplings, and I still can't get the texture quite right. I'm not even going to take a picture of the result, they were that far off. The gnocchi tasted fine, but I just can't get the firm, almost-rubbery-but-not-tough texture so characteristic of gnocchi. Mine just taste like mashed potatoes, with a thin skin holding together each dumpling. The recipe I've used these past two times is from Simple Italian Food, one of Mario Batali's cookbooks. Any advice?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Presto Pasta Night!

As per usual, I'm running rather behind, but I have actually made the deadline this time for Presto Pasta Night #75! This food blogging event is being hosted by Michelle of Greedy Gourmet, which can be found, along with instructions, at this link.

I was throwing together a quick meal tonight, as my mom was at a meeting, and while I was in a pasta salad mood, the Picky One wanted cream sauce. I insisted that summer was no time for heavy cream sauces, but she was in a mood, so we found a nice, lighter cream sauce with hints of lemon. I think the sauce could have used a bit more flavor, perhaps some fresh parsley or basil, but it turned out okay. I served the pasta with grilled chicken ,tossed for about 20 minutes with a garlic-lemon marinade, and some fresh red lettuce, tomatoes (from my garden!) and the last bits of a bagged salad. The marinade is from Cooking Light magazine, grabbed from a recipe that called for chicken thighs and a side of roasted tomatoes. The cream sauce was the Lemon Pasta Sauce from

Just your usual morning indulgence...

Before my sister left for camp, a whopping seven weeks or so ago, she requested an edible homecoming gift. More specifically, she flipped through my Bread Bible (!) to the recipe she's been eying since I bought that lovely book weeks back. She wanted the Chocolate Sticky Buns, a breakfast treat of the brioche variety.

These actually weren't as painful as I'd anticipated; true, the dough required a lot of babysitting, but the ganache filling and almond-caramel coating took no more than an hour or so. I was quite pleased with the result, although mine weren't as pretty as the ones in the book...sadly, I do not in fact own a Flexipan number 1601 mold, so after slicing the buns jelly-roll style, I just placed them in a 9-by-13 baking dish and let them rise until they resembled really poufy cinnamon rolls.

Despite their appearance, the buns were deliciously decadent. I loved the oozing chocolate right out of the oven, and my sister liked them just as much once the chocolate had set.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Summertime Lunches

I think I've already mentioned just how much I love tomatoes and basil. They make summer food absolutely fabulous. Eggplant is a close second for favorite vegetable, but it's not quite eggplant season in Michigan, so I haven't had a chance yet to blog about its virtues.

Like most teenagers, I tend to sleep in for a quite a while during the summers, so late breakfasts and light lunches become the norm. The past two weeks have been good ones for food, but the following two dishes are two of the highlights.

First, is my absolute favorite salad of all time, the Italian caprese salad, simple but delicious. These lovely stacks of tomato, fresh mozzarella and ribbons of basil (my basil! My plants are all grown up!), drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a little touch of olive oil are perfect for a late lunch on the deck.

On days when I'm in the mood for a bit more, I like to transfer my caprese salad to toasted slices of baguette, with a little more olive oil and balsamic. On this particular day, I also topped the baguette slices with tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts, plus more balsamic vinegar. Those ones would have been better, actually, with a bit more balsamic and perhaps some lemon, but were still delicious.

Another Delicious Bread Bible Success

Last weekend I started craving biscuits and was actually well-rested enough that I decided to get up at a normal hour on Sunday to attempt a batch of buttermilk biscuits. This recipe is actually listed as "Butter Biscuits" and has the Bread Bible's usual precise, detailed instructions. As baking projects go, this one was pretty quick; I was able to make the dough, roll and cut the biscuits and pop them in the oven in just under 30 minutes. Fifteen minutes later, I had these beautiful, rich and fluffy biscuits for breakfast.

Of course, as usual I was missing a piece of reccomended equipment (a biscuit cutter with serrated edges...or a biscuit cutter in general) but I have lots of cookie cutters. As in, a huge Ziplock bag full. One of my favorite childhood traditions was that of picking out a new cookie cutter each year and making big batches of rolled sugar cookies with my mom. One particularly memorable year, I chose a star-shaped cookie cutter. My sister chose a foot-shaped cookie cutter. Not a paw-shaped cookie cutter, or a festive hoove-shaped cookie cutter, but one shaped like a very small human's foot.

Anyways...for the biscuits I used my pine-tree cookie cutter, as it too has serrated edges (kind of like a biscuit cutter, right?) and consequently my biscuits are rather large. And, you know, tree-shaped. But they were also absolutely delicious, a perfect start to a lazy Sunday morning.

My Lucky Little Sister

My younger sister is at Interlochen this summer; she plays viola, and is up there for a whole 6 weeks for the High School Orchestra session. Always somewhat of a picky eater, we promised to send her lots of edible goodies and flagrantly disregard the note on the bulletin forbidding perishable care packages. Along with oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, I made these beautiful "Moonpies" for her during her third week away. This recipe is out of "Cooking Light" the other cooking magazine to which my mom subscribes. Although cookie sized, they really are more like little cakes, with a sweet marshmallow filling.
The batter was absolutely beautiful, with possibly the nicest texture of any cake or cookie batter I've ever made. It had these beautiful holes, and the silkiest texture, really more like pudding than batter, but still nice and light. It tasted pretty darn good too...

While the small cakes didn't puff up all that much, they were nice and light, despite the rich batter. I think in the future I'll try making these as cupcakes, as the two small cakes together were a bit much-ish...I had trouble finishing even one of my sandwich cookies.

However, I had some issues making the marshmallow cream filling. To begin with, I didn't have any unflavored gelatin, and decided to try first to make it using powdered fruit pectin. Total failure. It didn't set up sufficiently, and thus despite quite a bit of beating, the cream never thickened. So I set off to Kroger's and bought a nice box of unflavored gelatin, and finally broke down and bought a candy thermometer. Prior to this occasion, I'd always just guessed as to whether or not a liquid was ready to pour/ready for frying, but I will admit that the thermometer made it a whole lot easier the second time around. And it was just fun to watch the temperature of my boiling syrup rise. With the gelatin, the cream thickened quite nicely, though it still took my poor 27-year-old KitchenAid handheld mixer quite a while to beat it to the proper consistency. There, however, I faltered. It certainly looked too liquid to pour, but my recipe specifically reccomended that I pour the cream onto the cakes immediately, else the cream would solidify and become impossible to shape. However...I needed to have waited just a couple minutes, as the liquid cream was rapidly absorbed by the cakes, instead of forming a puffy layer in between. They ended up rather unattractive, but still absolutely delicious.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Michigan strawberries are here!

My parents returned from a road-trip to the west side of the state last week, and brought with them two beautiful cases of fresh strawberries! While we did freeze quite a few of them, planning future pies, cheesecakes and smoothies, we also saved a couple quarts to devour this week.

I love strawberries. Along with tomatoes, they are my absolute favorite summer fruit. I mean, I love peaches and there's nothing like a fresh, juicy tangerine, but strawberries and tomatoes still rule supreme. The first night, I sliced a handful over my chocolate ice cream. The next day, I had a bowl of them plain, sliced thinly, eaten along with a glass of milk. And then I made a sponge cake. Well, kind of. It was really in between a sponge cake and a pound cake, but it made for perfect strawberry shortcake. I know there are those who think of strawberry shortcake as the kind with biscuits, or small cakes of a more scone-y texture as the base. But I prefer the spongy version, so it soaks up a little bit of the strawberry juice, and is easily sliced and spread with Cool-Whip (or real whipped cream, if you prefer).

The recipe I used is from, from an old issue of Bon Appetit, and thus I have no qualms about posting a link to it here. I don't actually have a 9-inch cake pan, so I used one 8-inch cake pan and three small, heart shaped cake pans. Ta da!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I have wanted this book for ages. As in, since I saw it in passing while shelving books and was sorely tempted to flip through the pages, but managed to resist by reminding myself that I am not, in fact, paid to read books. However....I continued to lust over it for months and finally, just a week and a half ago, I bought it! A couple people had given me giftcards, I had an extra ten percent on my employee discount, and I bought it! Despite having all this free time, I 've only tried out four recipes so far; but as soon as I buy a tub of sour cream tomorrow, I'll be baking recipe number five.

The first recipe I tried was the one for bagels. It was Father's Day weekend and my dad has this thing for bagels. Apparently, way back when he found a bagel place with the Perfect Bagels. He loves to reminisce about their chewy yet firm texture, ideal height (tall enough to slice and toast, not so tall that they become the epitome of all that is wrong regarding bagels: "bready") and subtle yet distinct flavor. He has a thing against Panera. Anyways, I decided to try my hand at re-creating the Perfect Bagels, and according to him I was pretty close. I had some issues with toppings (sauteed onions=very, very slippery when applied to an egg wash) and the bagels weren't quite tall enough, but still. I was happy with them.

Next up was the cinnamon rasin bread. My sister left for camp and she had been asking about the cinnamon raisin bread ever since she'd spotted the picture of a luscious slice coated with butter. She hates raisins, so I made simply cinnamon swirl bread, which was absolutely delicious. Tight, soft crumb, soft crust and a lovely swirl that pulled apart just slightly as the bread baked. Me being me, I decided to make the bread around 8pm, so had I followed the meticulously written directions exactly, I would have been baking around 12:30 am, so I decided to just shove the dough in the fridge after mixing. I also ended up giving the dough a rather short rise time after having my sister pull it from the fridge while I was at it was a bit flat. However! It did rise, and was still light and yummy, so I'm not being too hard on myself.

My next (perhaps far too ambitious) project was the Rosemary-Foccacia squares, which were, sadly a total failure. Not due to the recipe at all, just my own poor planning. See, since this dough has such a high water percentage, I needed to borrow my aunt's stand mixer in order to make the dough. However, I didn't want to get in her way in her kitchen, so I decided to make it while cat-sitting for her, and then just bring the dough home. However, I made plans for the evening and didn't actually have time to bake it just I stuck it in the fridge. Bad idea. Terrible idea. Admittedly, it worked for the cinnamon swirl bread, but there was no way I could have expected it to work for this dough. I mean, I had the Kitchen-Aid going at #4 for almost an hour, attempting to get my blobby soup to turn into the "smooth, elastic dough ball" so nicely described by the Bible. And it did turn into a lovely, elastic-y dough...until I stuck it in the fridge. When I pulled it out 24 hours later, I had soup again. Ever the optimist, I poured it on a well-olive-oiled pan, sprinkled with rosemary and shredded cheese, stuck it in the oven and hoped for the best. 20 minutes later, it was clear that no, it would not simply be flat and crispy but still yummy. It would be flat, gummy, mushy and burning around the edges. Clearly, it was at this point that I scraped it into the garbage can.

The fourth recipe was the lovely, simple pizza dough recipe, which actually turned out quite well. Except that either the intended pizza has an insanely thin crust, or my dough simply refused to rise sufficiently...because my boyfriend and I had one really, really, thin crust pizza. Kudos to him for very patiently stretching and patting out dough, and later scraping off slices of paper-thin pizza. However, the pizza crust had a great flavor and a really nice texture; I'll just be doubling the recipe in future for my own thick-crusted pizza enjoyment.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Because my mom finished off the last of the cake...

I made chocolate chip cookies! Whenever we run out of baked goods, I start doing crazy things like eating out of the sugar bowl or buying Sour-Patch Kids at Rite-Aid, so I decided the cookies were absolutely necessary. I was going to find/modify/dream up a recipe with lots of strawberries to celebrate another of my favorite summer foods, but last night I wanted something sweet and easy, and there was a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips waiting for me...

This recipe is also from (I love that website. is nice and all, but when I don't have the energy or the inclination for fancy food, is perfect). While I've never gotten my cookies to turn out as thick and puffy as the recipe claims, they have turned out perfectly chewy and soft (without raw centers) every time. However, as many, many, many of the comments for this recipe stated, you must refrigerate the dough before baking it, otherwise the cookies will spread, flatten and make a gigantic cookie sheet! This time I stuck the cookie dough in the freezer for about 45 minutes, as well as the cookie sheet (separately) before baking them, and they turned out nicely. Next time I think I might divide the dough, place it on the cookie sheet (as if about to bake) and then stick it into the freezer together, just because the dough was harder to scoop once refrigerated.

I can't find my recipe right now, but I'll change the post later and add it, if anyone cares...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Tasty food but no camera

Yes, sadly I'm out of batteries for my camera, and the other household camera was at my sister's party today, so I don't have any pictures of my delicious lunch. I was in a hurry and my house is a bit lacking in groceries right now, but I managed to make quite a yummy bagel pizza for lunch.

The bagel pizza thing began when I was maybe eight years old and obsessed with The Babysitters' Club, this series of books about four girls who had highly unlikely adventures while babysitting. And one of the girls had this thing for English Muffin pizzas. You know, cheese+tomato sauce+English Muffin=tiny miny pizza. Naturally, I had to try out this "recipe" at my next slumber party, at which point I discovered that I didn't really care for English Muffins. Some months later...the bagel pizza was born! And this was before those pre-made frozen Bagel Bites (TM)... All summer long, my sister and I made bagel pizzas on the non-macaroni and cheese days; our version didn't require an oven, as we simply toasted the bagel, added toppings and zapped it in the microwave. Perfection! Our first attempt at cooking!

Today's bagel pizza was similiar to those early pizzas in form (bagel+sauce+cheese=pizza), but the toppings have changed over the years. For one thing, we no longer make a point of keeping pizza sauce in the house, and thus I used a nice mild salsa. Instead of pepperoni, I topped my pizza with chopped basil and San Daniele Calabrese (like spicy salami, only skinnier and a weird shape). We did, however, have shredded Colby Jack cheese, possibly tied for first place as my favorite type of cheese with Muenster and sharp cheddar cheese.

In case you actually want instructions in recipe form (as opposed to addition problems) here's how I made my pizza. Well, pizzas, really, once you slice the bagel.

Awesome Bagel Pizza
1 onion bagel (or garlic, plain, anything savory)
2-3 tablespoons mild salsa (or tomato sauce/pizza sauce)
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1 slice San Daniele Calabrese (or whatever)

1. Slice and toast bagel.
2. Spread each half of your bagel with the salsa/sauce, dividing equally.
3. Sprinkle each half with cheese, reserving about half of the cheese,
4. Add additional topping of choice.
5. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
6. Microwave for 20-30 seconds, or until the cheese melts.

Really, I think the addition problem had it covered.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Calcium! And a rather mediocre noodle salad...

My mom and I saw this recipe in the newspaper a while back and it looked pretty appetizing. I'd never tried to make soba noodles before, but this recipe for a cold soba noodle salad with red peppers, carrots and a sesame dressing sounded promising. Also, it called for basil, my absolute favorite summer ingredient. Sadly, I live in MI and thus just planted my basil and didn't want to start tearing off leaves quite yet, so I had to buy packaged grocery store basil. I also couldn't find soba noodles, but did find some whole-wheat Asian style spaghetti noodles. The noodles themselves were great; nice texture, more flavor than your average spaghetti noodle, etc. Unfortunately, the dressing recipe was rather disappointing. Alone, it tasted nice, but it needed a lot more punch once added to the noodles. Basically, the salad ended up tasting like red peppers and vinegar. Still, it wasn't inedible or even bad; just not memorable.

It does look pretty though, and more importantly it contains some calcium rich ingredients! Although I'm going to be about 15 minutes late with this blog posting, this recipe was intended for the Beautiful Bones event hosted by Food Blogga in honor of May being Osteoporosis Awareness Month. As my family has a history of osteoporosis, this event seemed an appropriate introduction for my blog to the food blogging community. So, here's the recipe for the Soba Noodle Salad including the calcium-rich ingredients: sesame, garlic and whole wheat flour.

Soba Noodle-Vegetable SaladFrom "The Food You Crave" by Ellie Krieger.

4 ounces soba noodles or whole-wheat spaghetti
1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
1 large carrot, shredded
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon walnut or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce or 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
Salt to taste
12 large bibb or butter lettuce leaves

1. To make salad: Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and let cool.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the noodles with the shallot, carrot, bell pepper, basil, mint and cilantro.
3. To make dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, walnut oil, sesame oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, lime zest, lime juice, fish sauce and salt.
4. Add dressing to the noodle salad and toss lightly to coat. To serve, scoop spoonfuls of the noodle salad into the lettuce leaves and eat out of hand. Makes 4 servings

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


As much as I complained about this nutrition project, it did give me an excuse to cook and bake on a weeknight, rather unusual during the school year. I particularly liked making the frittata, since it's basically quiche minus the pesky pie crust. The oatmeal-sourdough rolls were an time I think I'll try a slower rise time and/or proofing my starter the night before, since there wasn't much of a sourdough-y flavor, but they were fluffy and slightly sweet, so I wasn't too disappointed. As far as the chocolate-covered strawberries go, those are always an easy, unqualified success. It's really hard to screw up melted chocolate and strawberries.

The frittata and the oatmeal-sourdough rolls were both recipes from, though as I don't have a breadmaker, I made a bunch of my own additions (instructions-wise) to the roll recipe. I didn't use a recipe for the strawberries; melt chocolate w/a little water, dip strawberries, allow to chill on wax paper. Ta-da!