Thursday, December 30, 2010

Homemade Salsa (in winter)

During the winter I sincerely miss the fresh salsa from the summer, especially with garden fresh, heirloom tomatoes. Excuse me while I drool. But storebought just doesn't come close.

Taking a que from the Pioneer Woman, I looked into my cabinet to make my own salsa. I made a much smaller batch, and mine is probably mostly different from hers, at least enough to call it my own recipe. I often look up recipes for a basic outline of ingredients and measurements, then go for it on my own. Only with cooking though, I tried that with baking and it just doesn't work very well.

Homemade Salsa

1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can rotel diced tomatoes with habaneros (the hubs likes it spicy- feel free to use one of their milder versions)
1/4 of a medium to small sized onion
1 small clove of garlic
4 cubes frozen cilantro (in frozen foods section at trader joes- wonderful!) or 2 T fresh, chopped
2 T lime juice
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 t cumin
Dice up the onions and add to a blender, crushing the garlic into it as well. Drain the tomatoes of most of the juices, then add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients, blend until desired consistency. (I don't like chunky salsa, so this turns out great!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Recipe Organization

I took some time today to organize my recipes and I am working on another page organized by season. Take a look! Any other thoughts? I have some time on my hands as of late since I finished my degree work, and would love to spruce this thing up! Not to mention do more posts...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pear Jam

My first attempt at making any kind of preserves. It went, well, ok. They turned out goopy despite my best efforts to follow the recipe and added cooking time. I am convinced it is the recipe's error (insert humility here).

I began getting Food and Wine Magazine for free a few months back through a survey website I participate in. Their selections for free magazines was less than appealing, but better than their other offers, so I ordered Food and Wine for myself (funny because we don't drink wine at all), and Men's Fitness or something like that for the hubs. I get food (often not figure enhancing food) and he gets fitness (filled with supplement and gross pre-packaged food advertisements). I must say though, that the recipes in Food and Wine are marvelous, and I, the vegetarian, can often find quite pleasing recipes within that I am willing to try out. Next up on the que: yellow split-pea daal. Most likely tonight.

Back to the jam...the recipe is here for those of you interested in trying it out.

This was my first try and tester time so that when I give it as a gift I can be sure of it's goodness. Overall, the flavor was fabulous! and was enough to convince me to try it again.
I did use vanilla bean instead of cardamom, and will likely use 2 when I make my real batch next week. I love that this jam does not need to go through the canning process and says it can be good for up to 2 months if stored in the fridge.

This will *hopefully* be Christmas presents for some family friends this year. I bought some lovely jars from the grocery store to give them, and will likely wrap it in a cute ribbon. I will post photos once that day arrives, and if I can get the jam to be a more jam-like consistency.
So, the verdict: make some biscuits and try this one out!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Brussel Sprouts Throw Down

Last week I got in the mood to try brussel sprouts again. I have had them once, many years ago, and didn't think they were that bad. The hubs on the other hand, thinks they are dreadful. I bought a bag of fresh ones from Trader Joe's since they had none on the stalk, and brought them home with the intention of using Heidi from 101 cookbooks recipe in which she claims even the utmost of brussel sprout hater would like.

While in the kitchen prepping the brussel sprouts, the hubs came in to get a glass of water and noticed me halving the sprouts. This sight was proceeded by various complaints about how gross they were and something reminiscent of Ralphie's little brother's complaints in A Christmas Story, "Meatloaf, shmeatloaf, double beatloaf, I HATE meatloaf." I promised him that he would like them. Now, the hubs doesn't not like much, in fact, sitting here, I can't think of something he really doesn't like. Even on nights when I try a new recipe and it is so bad that I throw it away, he often finishes it off not to be wasteful. But brussel sprouts, watch out!

The golden crusted brussel sprouts were a hit. He loved them. And they were really easy. And the carmelized tofu I made with them was equally delicious, as well as the simple butternut squash and apple soup from Tasty Kitchen.

Last night, I made Bobby Flay's brussel sprouts from the Throwdown he did with Ree from The Pioneer Woman. I am glad she kicked his butt (sorry if you haven't seen it yet). But the hubs, after trying Heidi's sprouts, has since been asking for them, and really wanted to try Bobby's (yes, he watched Throwdown with me!).
So, last night, I trekked around trying to find pomegranate molasses and ended up buying a pomegranate juice blend and boiling it down. It never really boiled down, and after 1 hour and some change, I gave up. I made the vanilla pecan butter using up my last precious vanilla bean. Then I de-seeded my pomegranate in a bowl of water. And I sliced the sprouts off the stalk, sliced them in half, and baked them up with some carrots and tofu to round out the meal.

Throwdown results?

Heidi kicked butt. Bobby's were way more work than they were worth, and too buttery (even with only using half of the vanilla pecan butter). In addition, the overall total price of Bobby's sprouts was ridiculous. Pomegranate juice, vanilla bean, pecans, you get the point. Yet, for a special occasion like Thanksgiving, ok, perhaps. I still think Heidi's tasted better anyway.