Saturday, December 05, 2009

Pseudo-Thanksgiving Dinner

AKA: What Thanksgiving looked like at my house.

Dennis went to Chile on Thanksgiving to visit with his daughters, (his oldest graduated from high school *tear*). So we had a thanksgiving-y dinner the night before. I didn't want to tackle a turkey, because that is toomuchfood but I wanted to do something unusual. I found this recipe for a Ginger Sweet Potato Chicken Bake and decided it was fallish enough to work.

I started by making some gingerbread cookies. This is special because I never make gingerbread cookies (or cookies at all), but they make ready-made dough for this now! So even people like me who can't flip a pancake can make a gingerbread cookie! I have ONE cookie cutter in my kitchen, conveniently a snowman. An old Chilean Pisco bottle served as my rolling pin.

I made 12 angry (snow)men! hahahahahaaaaa!!! (and I ate 10 of them!)

Then I followed the recipe. I had to shred the chicken because I didn't have boneless chicken, so I had to boil chicken, shred it, and then bake it. It was understandably dry. But the sweet potato made up for it. If I did this again, I would add more sweet potato and make sure I had some boneless chicken. Also, my sweet potatoes are clearly sweet potatoes and not YAMS. (Because I hate yams).

I rolled out the good dishes for this one. Also served: asparagus with lemon juice, pillsbury crescent rolls, and a white wine that was like $2.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What to do with miso?

When I went to Japan, I admitted that a)it's hard to find Japanese food where I live and b)I'd love to learn to cook Japanese. Yuko, one of my most favorite readers, gave me a BUNCH of miso paste (they use it mostly in soups). So now I have a bunch of miso paste and no idea how to use it. I think Japanese people probably go through a lot of this stuff, because they eat a lot of miso soup and you can use miso with other things. In an effort to use my own miso, I decided to do a marinade. I felt so very domestic. I got the idea from this blog post

I did this before thanksgiving and it was a hit so I've been meaning to post it.

First, I thawed some chicken breasts. Then I mixed some paste with a couple of garlic cloves (using the garlic press), a little oil, a little ginger and a splash of Chilean Pisco. I used a butter knife to spread that onto the chicken, which I chilled for an hour. (note the new pump tubing next to my mixing bowl. I needed to do a set change and was trying to cook at the same time.)

While chilling, I took the time to clean out my diabetes-supply closet.

These are the bunches of old meters that I found that I realized I really needed to throw out. Some of them are so expired that I don't think I could even donate them.

I took the miso chicken out and browned it. Super easy.

And this is what it looked like! It was really good and I will do this again. I had a salad and gave Dennis mashed potatoes.

Things that sound more gourmet than they really are

Friday, November 20, 2009

Trying to Make A Spanish Tortilla

On Wednesday, I decided to make a Spanish Tortilla. I didn't have any meet thawed and we had a lot of eggs to get rid of. It's something that we had at a friend's and I loved the light but filling omelette style.

Alas, it was kind of a disaster. I had 6 eggs and 4 big potatoes and I thought I'd use them all, which ended up being my undoing.

First, I started by peeling these ginormous pototoes.

Then I sliced them thin. I was supposed to add an onion but only had green onion. It ended up not mattering at all.

At this point, you have to cook (but not fry) the potatoes until they are very soft.
This took FOREVER. Over an hour. And it never really softened the way I hoped. I watched Glee instead.

When I got tired of waiting, I turned the heat off. It was time to crack some eggs.

I poured the potatoes into the eggs. You are supposed to drown the potatoes in the eggs because, I guess, there should be more egg than potato (slightly). I used way too much potato.

Anyway, you pour it back into the skillet and it is supposed to fluff out.

After it fluffs out, it's supposed to be something you can flip. I couldn't figure out when that was or if it happened at all. It should look like a fritatta but it didn't really stick. Dennis was the designated flipper.

So it ended up being more like a giant hashbrown. It was good and very filling but I ended up using ketchup because it was definitely NOT a Spanish Tortilla.

Oh well. I will try again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So I decided to make some chili.

My version of Blonde Mom's chili. It took FOREVER to make.

1. Onions, garlic, bell pepper and ground beef browned in my favorite Wolfgang Puck pot.

2. I used less onions than the recipe asked for and I STILL used 1 more onion than I usually do.

3. My eyes. After chopping onion. I learned that my blender doesn't chop onion and cutting an onion underwater is as impossible as it sounds unless you are Ariel. Oh, they burned.

4. Canned tomatoes, kidney beans, and tomato paste. I used less tomatoes and beans than the recipe called because Dennis hates beans but I think 1 can more would have worked ok. I also learned that tomato paste does expire. (We had 3 cans in the back of the cupboard that were about 6 years old. Which shows you how much I cook.)

5. I did follow the suggestion to add 2 cups of beer in place of water. Except that by this time, I didn't want to bother with measuring two cups. So I poured the whole bottle.

6. Dennis came to my rescue when I cried with the onions and he also helped me open cans. This is the can opener that we had to borrow from a neighbor because our can opener died. (Our can opener is older than those cans of tomato paste).

7. This was supposed to be Tex-Mex. So I added cilantro to make it California-y. Not a lot though, because I don't know how to cook with cilantro and my kitchen was smelling very cilantro-y (like soap).

8. The end result was so good. It was a little bit more sweet than spicy but like every other mexican dish I make (tortilla soup, enchiladas, taco lasagna...) I know it will end up being better tomorrow. I will definitely make this again.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I can cook Yakisoba

After spending two weeks this year and two weeks last year in the company of Japanese women who know how to make a feast out of noodles, a couple of hot dogs, a tomato and some soy sauce (this is a slight exaggeration...) I decided to add Japanese cooking to my very limited menu of things I can cook besides frozen pizza. Tonight was an adventure in making Yakisoba (actually not very hard but definitely Japanese...)

It helps that I found soba noodles and yaki sauce mix (it's pretty much a powder), in my grocery store (look near the tofu!). Soba noodles are cooked yellow noodles that are fat in the beginning and then get thin at the end of the recipe.

I cut up some bell pepper, green onion, and this handy mix of cabbage and sprouts that I found in the bagged salad section. I think it's for things like cole slaw. And now, it's for things like yakisoba! Anyway, I added just a little oil and started stirring in a regular pot. I don't have a fancy wok and I didn't see one in the church I stayed at in Japan so I'm wondering if a wok is even necessary.

A photo of the fancy cooking chop sticks I used to stir the meal. I was pretty proud of this.

And then I remembered the beef that I was supposed to cut up and add to the veggie mix! My mentor, Chieko, who taught me how to make this in a different way than the instructions on the soba package, said stir the veggies and meat until the meat is cooked. I think I should add that I did this on medium heat so as not to burn anything.

Next I added the soba noodles. The package said to remove the veggies. Chieko said just put the noodles on top. I watched and took notes and decided to do it her way.

The package of noodles looks like this by the way:

The package said to add the sauce to the noodles with some water. Chieko said to add the mix at the very end. I got excited and added the mix right away.

So, I added 1/2 cup of water, the noodles and the sauce mix. And then I covered and simmered for 5 minutes before stirring to make sure the mix was evenly spread over the noodles and veggies. Note that my pot doesn't have a lid. I used our pizza tray.

And then I plated it! Dennis said it was pretty good, it was what I expected! (Kind of like a chinese noodle/broccoli beef type flavor except not as greasy as the chinese restaurant noodles and no broccoli.

So I count this one as a success!!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

geocities closing? WTH?

I dont even know why I'm randomly clicking on my geocities sites but I'm kind of thankful I did. Apparently geocities is closing. Which is fine, except that I'm in Japan right now and kind of can't transfer all of my files. Which I really want to do because I put a lot of work into that, especially the pages for our immigration story and such.

And this means that the website I created for my sister is forever closed and missing. I tried logging in but yahoo can't find my username. Which makes me really sad. I put a lot of effort into that, especially writing out my thoughts after she died. So I'm really bothered. There's nothing I can do about it, and I'm really surprised that yahoo didn't send out emails. I think this makes me want to print out, at the very least, all that I made about Dennis and I, because I had some really special stuff there.

I hope I can get this fixed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

10 Favorite Place to Eat.

10 Favorite Places to eat... in Southern California (mostly in Malibu/101 North of like Universal City but South of Ventura....) because I am in denial about this move.

1. Roy's Hawaiian Fusion. Dennis took me here for my birthday (Woodland Hills location) because we had a gift card. It was amazing. Amazing. And pricey. And they sent me a card a few days ago saying that they really were happy we went. Me too.

2. La Paz. One of our favorite date night places, they have both pricey and affordable. And the service is usually really great. I took Dennis here for his last birthday. They brought him a flan and sang happy birthday to "Pancho" (who would be his brother...)

3. Gaucho Grill in Woodland Hills. We go here for birthdays too. They are the closest we get to Argentine food, which is often the closest we get to Chilean food because I can't make empanadas. They have good salads and milanesa too.

4. Coco's in Calabasas I have a lot of memories here even after the prices rose and fall. It's a great place to go when you don't want to eat fast food and need a sit down place. We really have had a lot of great meals here and there is this guy- Jose- who is a pretty great waiter. And right now they are having a pretty good promotion.

5. Santa Fe Cafe. Only for the BBQ Chicken Quesadilla. The reason that I love BBQ Sauce. Really. Before I had this Quesadilla, I had convinced myself that I didn't like BBQ sauce. So good. We don't go here enough but I love this Quesadilla.

6. Malibu Seafood. I love that we can go here during the year when the crowds aren't as big. It's fresh and glorious and relaxed and you can get a pretty cheap meal as long as you order the fish and chips, which is all we need. The tartar sauce, another sauce I thought I hated.....

7. Taverna Tony. Oh, this place is so good. It's another place that is kind of pricey and so we only go for ultra special occasions but the last time we went Dennis ended up dancing with old ladies that used to be belly dancers.

8. Spruzzos. I'm suprised to see bad reviews for this place on yelp- this place is another place so close to our heart! I think they have pretty good service! And they are NEVER packed. And I like that it's kind of a hole in the wall.

9. Yamato in Agoura Hills. I love the big portions here and it's a great place to go for anniversaries and (fake) birthdays.

10. Jack in the Box. This is all that Dennis eats when I'm out of town. It's not healthy and you don't really eat here when you visit us- we usually get it to go. But we know everyone there by now and I like visiting with he workers. (Exception of the guy who works the late shift. He's always been a little withdrawn...)

**I could have put La Salsa or McDonalds in this position. We go to those places alot too and know the people at McDonalds in Malibu too. I wish I could list our KFC but sadly the chicken sucks. I wish the one near LAX was better, because I love KFC, but although it might have better chicken, it is always so filthy.