Thursday, November 26, 2015

Bean Tomato Feta Salad

This was supposed to be the last of my summer posts and I got sidetracked. Isn't it a gorgeous salad, though?

White Bean and Tomato Salad
I was craving a bean salad of some sort, which sounds kind of funny, but it's not something I would usually make. Russian salads tend to be mayo-heavy, and my husband prefers straight tomatoes and cucumbers. MY favorite is something tangier, with a vinaigrette or Caesar-like dressing. And adding something like beans helps to add some body when produce is scant.

I had a can of beans on hand and starting looking for recipes. This recipe from Simply Home with a lemony dressing appealed to me right away!

A few changes:

THEIR version had cherry tomatoes and parmesan.
MY version had regular tomatoes and feta.

THEIR version had an herb infusion including anchovies and rosemary.
MINE did not, mainly due to the ingredients I had on hand. I definitely went for the garlic and lemon, and some fresh dill as you see in the photo.

It was a great, refreshing salad that hit the spot! If you have the ingredients, go for it. I might even make this with just the beans.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Just Cook It! (tip)

This is just a really quick tip for using up ingredients.

I have a few baking recipes that call for an egg yolk or two. I put the egg whites in the refrigerator, where they get lost...partly because my husband is the breakfast chef and doesn't notice them.

Recently, I was going to put the egg white in the fridge for later, and thought to myself...why don't I just EAT it? So I poured it right into a frying pan, which had a little oil left from breakfast, and had myself a mini dose of protein!

You could also fry it, chop it up, and add it to a stir-fry or pasta dish for dinner that night. Obviously it could wait for breakfast the next day, but the sooner, the better.

Basically, I'm less likely to let it go to waste if I have as close to cooked as possible!

Surely I can't be the only one?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How to Make Snickerdoodles (with a substitution)

I've been doing some fun experimenting in the kitchen lately, but need to get everything written up to share here, so I'm just linking quickly to a cookie recipe that I'm adding to my files.

I wanted to make an easy dessert, and my husband/son are both obsessed with anything cinnamon-flavored! I started searching for Snickerdoodle recipes, and this one from seemed like a no-brainer with all the positive reviews!

This recipe doesn't use a lot of ingredients, but I still had to run to the store for butter. Thankfully my 3 yr old was cooperative!


I was debating making the recipe since I didn't have cream of tartar, but thankfully the very first comment was someone else living abroad who was in the same situation and said to replace BOTH the cream of tartar AND baking soda with the equivalent amount of baking POWDER. I found a few other discussions online that verified this.

Cookies make me nervous sometimes because the doneness can be so hard to judge. I timed these JUST RIGHT and was satisfied with the texture. My husband and son loved them, too.


P.S. I like making a batch of cookie dough and then baking it in smaller batches. But sticking a piece of bread into the cookie tin actually keeps the cookies soft if you are baking in advance!

Friday, September 18, 2015

How to Make Rhubarb Crumb Cake

I'm so bummed I didn't get this post up while it was still summer! This was such a great way to use rhubarb, and I probably made it 3-4 times over a short period. If you have some frozen rhubarb, you could give it a try!


What I needed: A rhubarb recipe that didn't need a pastry crust, that used regular baking ingredients but sour cream instead of milk, and that was generally YUM.

What I found: The recipe is from the blog Smitten Kitchen, and she apparently had altered a New York Times recipe. I'd heard of Smitten Kitchen before, but her blog doesn't have a clear ratings system, and I was wary of trying anything without a lot of feedback first. But this cake definitely passed the test! Here's the link:

I followed the recipe to a T, though I probably halved it as I tend to do for our small family. The only place where I got tripped up was the crumb topping. And Smitten Kitchen had raved over the topping, so I felt bad changing that up, but I actually didn't have any brown sugar, so I looked for an alternate version, and came across the one in this muffin recipe:

It was perfect! Like I said, I made this recipe several times within a matter of weeks!

Monday, June 22, 2015

White Bean Pesto Dip

In trying to add more protein to my diet in small portions, I decided get some white beans at the store. I forget what they're called in English. We buy kidney beans sometimes but I wanted to try this kind, too.

My MIL had purchased a jar of basil pesto for us, and while I find it overwhelming in large quantities, it seems like a perfect way to add some spice to certain dishes.

Like this dip:

Tasty snack, hit the spot!

Here is what I combined to make this fast, zesty dip. Note substitutions. Sorry that I don't have the measurements but it's a "to taste" kind of dish. Make it as spicy/salty/creamy as you want.

-can of white beans
-tsp of pesto* (to start)
-tsp lemon
-cottage cheese
-sour cream (for consistency)

*pesto may be substituted with garlic, a little olive oil, and dried basil or a spice mix of your choice


-mix everything together until smooth (I have a little immersion blender and all the ingredients were soft enough for it to work)
-adjust flavors to suit your taste
-serve with crackers, crisps, or toasted pita

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How to Achieve Chewy Brownies

I have a go-to brownie recipe, but it'd been a really long time since a brownie had wowed me. So I decided to take a quick look to see if any Internet recipes were getting rave reviews...

And found this one.

In case you can't tell, it's chewy and gooey, and has that "from a box" taste if you're into that. Delicious! Definitely going to use this recipe the next time I make brownies.


P.S. Avoiding overcooking really helps! If I weren't trying to cut down on sweets, I would definitely experiment with both recipes above to figure out the ideal add-ins, pan size, etc. I think they are both keepers!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

How to Make Scallion Pancakes

Need a scallion pancake fix? I don't know how "authentic" this recipe is, but it's fairly easy, uses common ingredients, and yields a nice result even if you're an amateur. I made these with my toddler by my side!

Crunchy and flaky!

I'd always wondered why this type of dough has to be kneaded and divided and sliced only to be squashed again. Turns out that's what makes it flaky. I went and read a few articles regarding just how many times you should repeat the process and how all the different factors play a role. But I'm happy with the recipe below as I wasn't trying to achieve the perfect flakiness.

Anyone have a favorite dipping sauce? I'm usually happy with just plain soy sauce or a flavored soy sauce, maybe mixed with a little sesame oil?

After getting the recipe (go here), be sure to check out their comments section too for some interest variations.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

How to Make a German Apple Pancake (Dutch Baby)

I remember always getting so excited when my mom would make this for "brinner" for us to eat when she and my dad were going on a date.

Not quite sweet enough to be dessert, but more special than just a pancake.

A cast-iron pan works best!

It tastes pretty eggy and filling, and is obviously great in the fall, during apple season! I think I made this back in September or October, that's how long it took me to post. :)

-1/2 c butter, divided
-1 lb. apple, peeled and sliced thinly
-1/4 c sugar
-cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

for the pancake:
-3 large eggs
-3/4 c milk
-3/4 c flour
-1/2 t salt

-powdered sugar


(Preheat oven to 450 F)
1) Saute apples in 1/4 c butter. Add sugar and spices; this is your filling.
2) Beat together the remaining ingredients to make a batter.
3) Melt about 1 1/2 T butter into 1 large or 2 small oven-proof skillets. Pour batter in when skillet is hot.
4) Put batter in oven and bake for 15 min., then lower temperature to 350 F.
5) Bake about 10 more minutes.
6) Remove from oven, put filling in, fold over, and spread on 2 T butter and powdered sugar.

Original source: "The Vegetarian Epicure"

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Two Glazes for Chicken Wings

I've been on a wings kick recently and have concluded that we like them enough to have them on a weekly basis.

A few advantages to wings:

1) Versatile
2) Hard to mess up
3) The bones make good chicken stock!

In general I parboil them first, then brush on a glaze and stick them in the oven to finish up while making the side dishes. We have done some more traditional crispy ones as well as a sticky teriyaki-like variation.

Going back in for seconds...

Above are the two most recent flavors I tried making (from Better Homes and Gardens "New Cookbook"):

On the left: Chili-barbecue glaze (indexed as "Oven-Barbecued Chicken")

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Two-Ingredient Chocolate Croissants

Catching up on some posting here. This is hardly a recipe and more of a tip, but definitely a yummy idea I want to keep around!

Quick, tasty treat

For a time I couldn't keep many baking ingredients on hand because of trying to control kitchen pests (sorry). So I took the opportunity to experiment with store-bought pastry dough. It definitely has its advantages!

In the photo above, I had cut a sheet of pastry dough into triangles, put some milk chocolate chunks inside, and then drizzled more chocolate over it when done baking. Once I had a good chocolate-to-pastry ratio, it was delicious, and hard to eat just one!

A website I referenced to make sure I was on the right track:

Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Make Lemon Mushroom Chicken

I was looking for a dish with this exact combination of flavors, and it hit the spot! The ingredient list is not long and the technique is not very complicated. Pounding and flouring the chicken makes it retain the juices, and the little bit of lemon in the sauce makes it very flavorful. We don't always have the best quality meat here, so I'm always impressed when chicken breast turns out well.

Definitely could be a "fancy" dish if you are serving to mushroom/chicken lovers. It's also a stovetop dish if you are looking for something to cook in warmer weather.

Tender and juicy with a pop of flavor!
Unfortunately, I still couldn't convert my husband, as he would rather his mushrooms be more fried/crunchy as opposed to thick and juicy. You can still make the chicken in the lemon sauce, but it won't have that same flavor kick. Adding garlic gives it a boost.

Another tiny note: I used homemade chicken broth, so I had to add a little more salt...but I'd sauteed the mushrooms in salt, too. So adjust flavorings based on your specific ingredients. And I used regular (unsalted) butter, too.

You can find the recipe here.