Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011.08.11 - Liptauer, Chicken Salad, Smores Cookies, Honey Herb Soda

A picnic theme this week, all inspired by the appetizer.


YUM.  This gussied up cream cheese spread is very savory.  Perfect on bread, a bit of a salt lick on pretzels.  It's very addictive.  Read the story that comes with the recipe -- it will make you want to go to Austria.

Chicken Salad

I picked this because I knew that a meal of cheese wasn't the most balanced, but it ended up being quite good on its own accord.  The blend of the red peppers, almonds, parsley, and chicken was harmonious.  However, I think I prefer roasting bone-in chicken for chicken salads versus poaching like in this recipe.  I am biased against poaching because I find it a bit imprecise (letting chicken sit without heat and hoping that it cooks through in the specified time!) and find that times given in recipes don't often match up for good results in my kitchen, since it is all a variation of stove heat, pot insulation, and chicken breast thickness.

Modifications: I omitted the garlic and onion, per usual.  I forgot to toast the almonds, but I didn't miss the taste at all.

Honey Herb Soda

I used mint as my herb, since that's what I have the most surplus of in my garden.  Unfortunately this recipe doesn't provide the proportions for a pitcher, so I just guesstimated and dumped the honey syrup into a standard 2 quart pitcher with the juice of two lemons and filled the rest of the pitcher with seltzer water.  This was pretty good, and I served in it jam jars (how adorable)!  I've been saving up jars for various kitchen uses from my favorite preserves.

Smores Cookies

I think I may have hit a milestone with this one -- I found these to be too sweet.  That didn't stop me from eating them, mind you, but I kept thinking "I wish this was dark chocolate".  I found this recipe quite confusing -- you lay down graham crackers and then drop rounds of chocolate chip cookie dough on top.  It seems like the dough is supposed to melt and spread out evenly on its own, but mine did no such thing during baking.  I ended up spreading it out after the five minutes in the oven with a spatula, which of course ruined the shape of the chocolate chips.  Everyone at work loved the leftovers the next day.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

2011.07.14 - Turkey Burger Pitas, Zucchini Carpaccio, Cinnamon Cake

Another July birthday means another cake!  We celebrated C's birthday with a cinnamon cake and a vaguely Mediterranean meal.  This was also M's going away meal.  She moved down to California, like so many people are doing these days.  It seems sometimes that for people in the tech industry, you can only live in Seattle or SF, and SF is winning right now.  Best of luck to M and her husband M!

Turkey Burger Pitas

I love food like this.  It's healthy, gives an excuse to eat tomatoes and fresh herbs, is sandwich-like, and is delicious.  The yogurt tahini sauce is key here -- turkey can sometimes be a little dry, so this offsets that.  This would be even better with real pitas from a gyro place (or homemade pitas!), but I went the healthy route with whole wheat pita pockets.

Modifications: The store had NO ground turkey when I went, so I ended up with pre-formed turkey patties.  Not ideal.  Instead of mixing those up with the seasonings, I just sprinkled some onion powder on before cooking and hoped for the best.  I served the pitas with tomatoes, parsley, and the salad.

Zucchini Carpaccio Salad

Everyone loved this salad.  It had plenty of salt and cheese, which really made it stand out from a typical salad.  I finally found yellow squash in the market, so I used a combination of that and zucchini.  One more successful use of a mandoline without slicing a finger off!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Snacking Cake

This is definitely more of a breakfast/tea cake than a dessert cake, but I loved the sound of it and had to make it.  I served it with whipped cream to fancy it up, but it was unsweetened (my preferred way to make whipped cream these days) - next time I would sweeten the cream up a bit, and maybe add almond extract.  It doesn't help that I forgot to buy the berries I planned to serve on the side!  I would definitely make this cake again as a breakfast cake.

2011.07.07 - Bourbon Orange Coriander Pulled Pork, Kale Salad, Cherry Limeade

My favorite easy pulled pork method comes up again!  This time, with a different BBQ sauce for variation.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Bourbon Orange Coriander BBQ Sauce

I asked the gang to vote between three BBQ sauces: tangy coffee, rhubarb, and this one.  This one won by a landslide, I think because of the bourbon :)  The orange flavor really came through, so it was an interesting take on a sweet BBQ sauce.  

Modifications: I didn't cook the sauce because I knew I'd just be throwing it in to the slow cooker anyway.  Time savings!  I omitted the garlic per usual and used a sweet tea bourbon since that sounded good.  Everyone made fun of me because I bought a tiny bottle of bourbon for cooking instead of having a real bottle for my (nonexistent) alcohol collection.  I swapped out the sauce called for in the pulled pork recipe with this one; luckily they both had about the same yield.

Kale Salad

This sounds like nonsense health food, but it was actually quite good.  The dressing was very tangy and I'd definitely use it again.  Trader Joe's came to the rescue with pre-chopped kale, but it wasn't perfect because they leave a lot of the tough stems on.  Why??  I really enjoyed the sweetness that the raisins added to the salad.

Modifications: I omitted the red onion (don't like it raw in salads), bell pepper (too expensive here!  not paying $2 for a single pepper), avocado (forgot), goji berries (??), and hemp seed (???).  The dressing calls for nutritional yeast (????), which I couldn't find, so I left it out and it was still great. 

Cherry Limeade

This was good, but had the same problem that I have every time I make a lemon or limeade -- too much pulp.  Even with a juicer that strains, I still get a bit of pulp and I don't like any at all in these kinds of drinks.