Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

This is another reason to own the Joy of Cooking - twice baked sweet potatoes!
Sweet Potatoes
Heavy Cream
Oven at 400
1 baking dish
1 small bowl
1 large spoon
1 fork/potato masher
  1. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork.
  2. Bake potatoes for 1 hour
  3. Slice potatoes in half and scoop out insides with a spoon.
  4. In a small bowl, mash potatoes with heavy cream, butter, and salt to taste, then refill potato skins and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Couscous

This is another recipe from www.vegweb.com
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 carrots chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can garbanzos drained
1 veggie bouillon cube
1 tablespoon diced garlic
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups cooked couscous
1 slow cooker/crockpot/rice cooker
  1. Put all ingredients except for couscous into the crockpot.
  2. Cover and put on the high setting for 3 hours.
  3. After 3 hours, stir the mixture, shut off the crockpot, and then add the cooked couscous.
  4. Let set for 10 minutes.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

There came a point where in my life where I had to admit to myself that cheese should not come in powder. And while I still enjoy the sporatic box of Kraft Mac&Cheese, I have since moved on to a more grown up form of Mac&Cheese which is only a little bit more difficult to make and can be made even if your kitchen is almost completely bare. I'm going to put in both a very specific recipe and a much more general recipe so you can have some general guidelines of things to make sure you have.
This recipe came from my first vegetarian cookbook Ok, So Now You're A Vegetarian, by Lauren Butts. It's a great book for anyone you know who just became a vegetarian, particularly if they're in high school.
4 tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups skim milk
2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni
Salt & Pepper
Breadcrumbs (optional)
Oven at 350
Large pot
Frying pan or saucepan
8x8 glass baking dish
1. Boil some water and cook up the Macaroni. When the Macaroni is about half done, start the sauce. When the macaroni is all done, just drain it and set it aside - since this is baked, it's okay if it gets a little cold.
2. In the small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
3. Whisk the flour and salt into the butter. This will form a paste, but don't be afraid.
4. Gradually whisk in the milk and simmer for 4-6 minutes, stirring. The sauce will become thick - about the consistency of slightly melted ice cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add half of the cheddar cheese and melt it in.
6. Pour the cooked macaroni into the baking dish.
7. Pour the sauce over the macaroni and stir to ensure all macaroni is coated.
8. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. (I actually like to stir the remaining cheese into the macaroni until it melts a little bit, and then top with breadcrumbs.)

This is a really easy recipe to make larger or smaller, and I'll be posting one of my other favorite mac&cheese recipes at a later time. Also, it gives you lots of leftovers for the week!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Stovetop Italian Tofu with Roasted Red Peppers and Snow Peas

The boyfriend and I got busy in the kitchen the other night - in a totally G-rated way. Feeling experimental, we variated a little on the themes we learned when making the below-mentioned Lemon Rosemary Tofu. The results were fantastic. This is a three-food-group meal, totally FDA approved, all unsaturated "healthy" fats and actually totally vegan. Until I covered everything with Pecorino Romano cheese at the end :-D.
1 block firm or extra firm tofu, pressed.
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tbsp. Italian dressing (we used a Wishbone Olive Oil Vinaigrette)
1 can Vegetable Broth
Italian Seasonings (oregano, basil, thyme, or a mixed container)

1 package couscous of desired flavor (we used a Near East parm. flavor) prepared according to package directions

2 red bell peppers
2 tbsp. olive oil
Italian Seasonings

Snow peas
2 cups water

1 large frying pan with deep sides (omlett pan or wok will work best)
1 two-part-pot (these are called either pasta pots or steamers, it is not essential. If you have a metal colander you can also set that over a smaller pot, or you can just use a regular pot.)
1 oven or toaster oven at 350 degrees
1 small pot to prepare couscous in
1 good knife
heat resistant spatula

1. Cut tofu into strips and/or bite sized pieces.
2. Heat olive oil in pan, fry tofu in pan on medium-high until one side is browned. Flip tofu.
3. While the other side browns, add the garlic and onions and cook until translucent.
4. After the onions are ready, pour in the italian dressing. Fry everything in the dressing until coated. Turn heat to medium-low.
5. Pour vegetable broth in the pan. Allow to come to a boil.
6. Let simmer for ~20 minutes on medium-low, or until almost all liquid has evaporated.
7. While the broth is simmering, prepare snow peas and red peppers by chopping off the ends of snow peas and coring and chopping the red peppers.
8. Brush red peppers with olive oil, spread evenly on pan, and put in oven.
9. Fill pasta cooker/steamer with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Put snow peas in the colander part (or just in the pot if you don't have a steamer) and allow to cook until tender (about 10 minutes), making sure the pot doesn't boil dry.
10. Turn red peppers and add seasoning.
11. After 15 minutes, prepare couscous according to package directions.
12. Grate some cheese to put on top, or serve cheese-less.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

A quick note on pancakes

Pancake mix is a waste of money. For very little more time, you can make your own pancake mix, and its cheaper and tastes better and you know what goes in it.
For good pancake mixes, I like to consult the Joy of Cooking.
The Joy of Cooking should be on your shelves at all time. If you had to move to southeast wherever, and could only take one cookbook and wouldn't have internet, you would take The Joy of Cooking. It's authoritative, and the recipes are actually good. It offers variations and different ideas.
A great cooking website is Cooking for Engineers. Because in the past, men have refused to admit that cooking is a science instead of a "domestic art", cooking has been viewed as "weak" and "feminine" which is a load of crap. But Engineers and scientists make great, if not anal-retentive cooks, because they are so good at following procedures.
So check out Cooking for Engineers here and discover the joy that is cooking.
Also buy the Joy of Cooking because its something everybody should own.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Andes Brownies

In honor of my roommate's birthday on March 5th, I'm posting the recipe for Andes Brownies. I made these for her birthday three years ago when they had come out with delicious Andes baking chips. The chips have since disappeared from the grocery store, but regular Andes work just fine.
These are a great St. Patrick's day recipe, because they're green, and they're also good for Christmas. What they are best for though, is making people think you've put more effort into baking than you have.
Andes Brownies
1 box brownie mix
eggs, as required by mix
oil, as required by mix
water, as required by mix
1 box Andes chocolate mints (if you work at Olive Garden, you could also just steal a lot of those mints) - I would say to use about 20 mints or so.
oven, as required by mix
mixing bowl
mixing utensil
1 gallon freezer locking bag (Ziploc, Glad, etc.)
rolling pin, hammer, or other smashing utensil

1.) Bake brownies as instructed on package. Clean mixing utensil. (And probably everything else, but I'll not dictate.)
2.) While brownies are baking, unwrap Andes and place into freezer bag. Work quickly, because your hands will melt the Andes if you take too long to unwrap them.
3.) Gently use rolling pin or hammer to smash Andes into smaller pieces. (You can use your hands but you may melt the chocolate.) You want each Ande to break up into about four pieces of relatively equal size. Don't get too anal.
4.) When the brownies come out of the oven, immediately pour the Andes bits over the pan, spreading the chunks as evenly as possible. Wait about 2 minutes for them to melt, then using your mixing utensil, carefully spread the melted, minty, Andes goodness around on top of the brownies.
5.) ALLOW TO COOL. This is key. Yes, they look delicious, but if you do not allow them to cool, you will not get the full Andes Brownies Effect. You can refrigerate them uncovered to speed up the process, but do not freeze.

The finished brownies will be soft and gooey, with a hard mint chocolate layer on top.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Lemon Rosemary Baked Tofu

This is another great recipe from www.vegweb.com. It's a good pantry staple - something you can make with stuff you should have on hand. (If you're a vegetarian, or live with one.)
1 block of extra firm tofu packed in water (frozen and thawed)
2 tablespoon margarine
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup whole wheat flour + 2 tablespoons
1 lemon juiced and zest (or a few generous squirts of lemon juice...about 1tbsp.)
4 tablespoon rosemary
1/2 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup of veggie broth
1 Pyrex 9x9 dish
1 frying pan
cutting board
small container to roll tofu in (a tupperware dish works well for this)
Oven at 350
  1. Slice the tofu on the short end to create 12 similar size cutlets - press the tofu for at least 30 minutes to drain.
  2. Once drained, dredge the tofu through the flour and brown in olive oil in a skillet till browned on each side
  3. Place all the browned tofu into a 9x9 baking dish.
  4. In the skillet add 1/2 tablespoon of margarine and sauté the onion and garlic until they are translucent. Then add the remaining margarine and 2 tablespoon of flour and combine well. When it all forms a paste, add the juice and zest of the lemon, rosemary and the veggie broth and stir well to combine all ingredients. (If you are going to make rice to go with it, start boiling the water now.)
  5. Pour the sauce over the tofu and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
This is best served over rice, if you'd prefer something a little weird, try noodles.

Good Knives

I don't understand how anybody cooks without good knives. I just don't get it. You should never ever have to saw through a piece of meat or a vegetable. Nor should you have to hack - gravity and the knife's weight should do most of the work for you.
The thing about knives that sucks is that knives are expensive. Good knives are really expensive. I'll readily admit that I'm a knife snob, but there are far worse things to be a snob about. I'm also lucky - my father is an even bigger knife snob and he will habitually clear out his knife drawer. I get the leftovers, and now I'm set for life.
Knives, like anything else made well, will last a long time. You can get them sharpened or buy a sharpener yourself, depending on where you live and how comfortable you feel sharpening your own knives.
Here are a few tips to remember when you are knife shopping:
1. Start small. Don't buy more than you can afford at once. If you can afford a fancy Henckels knife block, power to you, but you might not need all of those knives. Start by investing in what you really need. Think about what you chop the most frequently - for example, if you chop a lot of vegetables maybe you should be looking at a flat bladed santoku, and if all you cook is meat, make the investment in an 8 inch meat knife.
2. Do some research. Look at different brands, different companies, different styles of making the same knife. Read reviews. Ask other people you know who cook.
3. Know how a good knife should feel in your hand. This sounds stupid, but people have different sized hands and one brand might not work for you.
4. Comparison shop. Get knives off of e-bay. Just because knives cost a lot doesn't mean you have to pay full price.
5. Don't be a blockhead! All your knives don't have to be the same brand just so you can have a "clean kitchen" without knife clutter. Don't just buy a set, or think that all the knives you buy have to fit into your knife block. Explore other options - both magnetic strips for hanging knives over your stove (not suitable for clumsy people or homes with small children), or consider the Kapoosh Universal Knife Block .

Using up the Fridge Chocolate Cake

So I sometimes like to experiment with cake mixes, and sometimes our fridge is full of half-empty cans of stuff that just beg to be turned into something delicious. This is today's.

2/3 box of chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of water
3 tbsp. sour cream
chocolate chips
1/2 can cherry pie filling (or you can use, I suppose, regular icing)

8 inch square cake pan
Oven at 350

1. Combine all indgredients.
2. Put in oven.
3. Cook for about 25-30 minutes.
4. Pour on pie filling, or allow to cool before icing.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Tofu-Chickpea Curry

So my boyfriend has an apartment right next to an H-Mart (an Asian grocery store which carries many many types of tofu and other foods not normally found in Safeway.)
This makes for great vegetarian adventures. One of my favorite websites for such recipes is www.vegweb.com, which,being a vegan website provides some of the best tofu recipes I've tried yet and last night's was no exception.
Tofu-Chickpea Curry
1 large onion (chop fine)
2 cloves garlic (feel free to double)
1 block firm tofu
1 can chickpeas
curry powder
A few tablespoons oil for frying
1 wok
1 cutting board
1 really good knife (sadly, boyfriend fails me in this category.)
1. Add finely chopped onion to wok with oil, fry at medium heat until tender.
2. Add garlic cloves and fry until the onion starts to brown, make sure heat is low enough not to burn the garlic.
3. Add tofu cut into strips. Fry the tofu strips and onion/garlic mixture until the tofu starts to brown.
4. Add 1 1/2 cups water and 1 can of drained chickpeas. Bring to a boil. Once at boil, reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Add curry spices/mix. Simmer, stirring constantly for 5 minutes--this is the time when your tofu and chickpeas will absorb the curry flavor, so you don't want to rush this stage.

This went really well with Asian noodles, it would also be good with some rice. We had grilled red peppers alongside it.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Peppermint Meringues

Another healthy and delicious recipe. The long cooking time is annoying, but totally worth it.

Peppermint-Chocolate Chip Meringues
16 red-and-white peppermint candy rounds
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch coarse salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup baby chocolate chips

1.) Preheat oven to 225°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil (shiny side down).
2.) Place candies in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Squeeze out air, seal, and using a heavy-bottom small saucepan, crush well.
3.) In a large bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt with a mixer until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes). Reduce speed to low and put in 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time, beating for several seconds between each addition. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Blend in crushed candies and chocolate chips.
4.) Drop 16 well-rounded tablespoons of meringue onto each baking sheet, spacing them 1 inch apart. Bake 1 hour on the oven's top rack. Move cookie sheets to bottom rack and bake 1 more hour. Turn off oven; let meringues sit until oven is completely cool. Remove from baking sheets and store in airtight containers.

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Pie

This is one of my favorite recipes - it's so easy to make low fat, and in general its very easy to make. It comes off of a Keebler graham cracker crust package.

1 8oz pkg cream cheese (use neufchatel cheese for a low fat version) softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk (use fat free for a low fat version)
1/4 cup lemon juice, divided
1 egg
1 graham cracker crust (chocolate or regular, can use low fat version)
1/2 cup seedless red raspberry preserves

Graham cracker crust in aluminum pie pan
Oven at 300

1.) In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese on medium speed of electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add egg, beating until just combined.
2.) Pour half of cream cheese mixture into crust. In small bowl combine preserves and remaining lemon juice. Spoon half of preserves mixture over cream cheese mixture in crust.
3.) Top with remaining cream cheese mixture and remaining preserves mixture and remaining preserves mixture. Use knife or narrow spatula to swirl preserves into cream cheese mixture.
4.) Bake at 300*F for 50-55 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 3 hours.
5.) Garnish as desired. Store in refrigerator.


For my first recipe, I'd like to bring out a staple recipe that I use. Eighteen months ago I bought a 2lb bag of yeast at Costco (for $3, totally worth it), and thus my career as breadmaker was born. This is my most tried-and-true recipe, one that is both easy to make and easy to alter.
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 c. warm water
olive oil
extra flour
shredded Italian cheese (parm, mozzarella, romano, etc.)

cookie sheet or pan (any size and shape will do, as long as it is more than 12in square/in diameter)
large mixing bowl
rubber spatula
optional: dredge for flour (can be bought at restaurant supply stores)


1. Mix flour, spices, and salt together in a large bowl.
2. Make a well in the center of the bowl (by pushing the flour up to the sides).
3. Add the yeast and sugar to the well.
4. Pour the water into the well.
5. Wait for the yeast to react (about 5 minutes - it will look like small explosions).
6. Mix dough. Turn out on a lightly floured cutting board/surface.
7. Knead for ~10 minutes, until the dough is "smooth and elastic" - about the texture of a small child's skin.
8. Rinse and dry the bowl, then pour in ~2 tbs of olive oil and swirl around so the bowl is coated.
9. Add the dough to the bowl, then turn it once to coat it with oil.
10. Cover with saran-wrap or a wet cloth.
11. Let rise for 30min - 1hr (until doubled in size).
12. Heat oven to 450 and grease a pan.
13. Squish dough into a round or square shape, depending on your preferences. The dough should be about 3/4 of an inch thick all around. Pour cheese on top, also depending on your preferences. (about 1 c. is usually sufficient.)
14. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese browns nicely.
15. Eat.

In which one feminist tries to reconcile her hobbies and her beliefs by creating a blog.

I'm a vegetarian, a feminist, and a prolific baker/maker of food. I love to cook - the weight of a good knife in my hands, the scraping of a spatula around the edge of a bowl, kneading bread dough until it is "smooth and elastic" - and it has nothing to do with my femininity. It is also not an ironic statement about my feminism.
I have never felt as if women belonged in the kitchen, because growing up, my mother stayed as far as possible from the kitchen - usually somewhere in the basement creating a digital imaging system that hospitals around the world use today - while my father taught my sister and I to make spaghetti so she wouldn't starve when he taught late.
This blog is mostly for my own use, so I can access the recipes I use reglarly at any time, any day, anywhere in the world, but if in the process I end up sharing some really great recipes with the world? I'm okay with that too.