Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Morning (Homemade Cinnamon Rolls)

I spent Christmas Eve with my family and we shared some great food and some good times.  We ended the evening across the street with our neighbors for their annual Christmas Eve party.  They also had great food and some good times.

Despite a late start Christmas morning (I slept until around 10, when my sister woke me up trying to plug in the Christmas tree in my bedroom), I was committed to making homemade cinnamon rolls.  I had searched high and low trying to find a perfect recipe.

The one I chose wasn't all that great, and I will be seeking out a new recipe in the future.  It did, however, make for some really pretty pictures.  Doesn't it look yummy?  Can you even tell that its not amazing?

I didn't remember to take pictures until I was up to this point

The pecans I used were provided by my father, who had candied them for yams the night before

looks yummy, yes?

All rolled up


This recipe called for an embarrassing amount of butter

ready for the oven!


yum.  I bought milk for this very purpose :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve

I have a rule that you don't sleep alone on Christmas Eve.  So steadfast am I in this rule that I contemplated cuddling with the couple downstairs on Christmas Eve.  Fortunately for them and their personal space, my sister decided to visit for the weekend.  This led to several very fun adventures and a decent amount of tasty cooking as well.  Pictures are intermittent because I forgot to take them several times.  But rest assured, I do have some nice photos to share.

Well, nice being a relative term and all.  This is a picture of me in my Christmas dress.  Also worn at Thanksgiving, for the record.  I'm sporting plaid Betula sandals (i.e. Birkenstocks) with red and green striped socks. lol.  My Christmas costume.  :)

I'll go ahead and apologize now for the poor photo quality on these photos.  I took a lot of these on my cell phone in order to upload them to facebook as I went along.

On Christmas Eve morning I made homemade breakfast sandwiches with sweet potato fries, apple butter, and fresh fruit.  The breakfast sandwiches were fresh-ish onion bagels that I got on clearance at Meijer the night before.  I toasted them in the oven and topped them with leftover ham that I made for a work lunch party, scrambled egg, and cheddar cheese slices.  My sister recommended apple butter as a dip for the sweet potato fries and it really took this breakfast to the next level.
On the left there you can see the "Buddha Hand" that I bought on a whim at Meijer.  Its some sort of lemon like fruit that is all sorts of disfigured.  It looked really awesome.  Unfortunately I used it to garnish a cookie tray at a party the next day and it was left behind.

After our nourishment, my sister and I made a trip over to Country Fresh on Vine St. to pick up some fresh produce.  We may or may not have gotten side tracked and purchased a case of wine.
We took a little more then half the case of wine to various events over the course of the weekend.  I kept the rest here...we do a lot of entertaining and I'm sure it'll be consumed eventually.

Whats that?  Salad, you say?  You can hardly see the lettuce in that cart!  My sister made the salad this time around and I was graced with the leftovers.  mmm.
We forgot to bring salad dressing and my grandmother doesn't believe in that pre-bottled crap that is full of preservatives.  So she helped us out and made some homemade italian dressing while I scrambled to take photographs for the blog.
We'll finish up this blog post with two pictures illustrating the worldly view of this side of my family.  My dad really wanted to try out my ham recipe, so I brought a ham over.  Here is a picture of the ham being carved.
One of my grandmother's good friends is Indian and she enjoys cooking.  My grandmother has learned some fantastic recipes and we love it when she makes them.  For Christmas, she made a crowd pleaser-Chicken Biryani.  
She was kind enough to share a copy of the recipe with me, and I will post it one of these days...hopefully with instructional how-to photos.

This is all for now.  Stay tuned for photos of the Christmas Morning Afternoon breakfast that I made.  Homemade Cinnamon Rolls!  From scratch!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens-Festival of Lights 2010

Earlier this week, we took a trip to the zoo to see the Festival of Lights.  It was super crowded, but we still managed to have a good time.  I think the favorite of the group was the new group of manatees.  It was feeding time and it was really interesting to watch them eat.

The zoo also recently got new Komodo Dragons.  The dragons kill their prey by biting it.  The bite then becomes infected and the dragon will follow the prey around until it dies.  Then they will eat it.  This guy was huge.  Hope he doesn't get out!

 I really wanted to see the elephants and was excited to see that this fellow was hungry and was eating some straw.  The whole crowd gasped when he raised up his trunk to get some straw.  He was pretty cool.

I was absolutely unable to get a good picture of the manatees, so this picture of fish will have to stand in its place. 

The only thing missing from this zoo is a hippopotamus.  I want one for Christmas (right?!).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Broccoli Chowder and Drop Biscuits

Continuing the trend of recipes from my new cookbook, Appetite for Reduction, I made a few other recipes.  The dinner menu consisted of Pad Thai Salad, Broccoli Chowder, and Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Drop Biscuits.  See image below:

The broccoli chowder was easy to make and was a delight to have as leftovers today, when we have 3-5 inches of snow on the ground.

I started off with some vegetable chopping.  Beginning with a parsnip that weighed half a pound!  One parsnip!  Half a pound!  I am rather amused by excessively large produce, and this occasion was no exception.  There was another one that weighed over a pound, but I put it back because I don't really like parsnips all that much and I really only needed 1/2 a pound for this recipe anyway.  Behold, The Great Pumpkin Parsnip!

Then all of a sudden I went vegetable crazy and decided I needed to try the Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits recipe, as that would be very fitting with the evenings current menu.  The dilemma of what to use in place of a sweet potato was quickly remedied when I remembered I had a butternut squash on hand.

I just roasted it up while I got to work on the broccoli chowder, then scooped it out into this handy measuring cup.

I find it hard to keep vegetable broth in the house.  There are a few reasons for this.
1.  I don't like to haul the pre-made versions up three flights of stairs to my abode.  They are simply too heavy (Also the reason I don't buy much milk, pop, or juice).
2.  Once you make some, you have to use it within a reasonable amount of time or it spoils.  Of course, one could always freeze it.
3.  I have a really small freezer and its hard enough to fit normal stuff in there without it being stuffed with excess containers of broth.

One of the things I find challenging with bullion cubes is that they frequently have unnecessary corn by products, sweeteners, and general processed crap.  I'm trying not to eat a lot of that stuff, so I don't like regular bullion.

On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I came across this pretty baby, on sale, at a very reasonable price.  I don't remember what it was, but it was comparable to the price of the Knorr Vegetarian Vegetable Bullion I usually get.  Plus, it's vegan!  And quite tasty if I do say so myself.

Here we have some Yukon Gold potatoes boiling with the parsnip.
The recipe called for fresh broccoli, but I just couldn't pass up the ease of using frozen broccoli, so that's what I did.  I'm sure the soup would have a more appealing color if I'd cooked it less and/or used fresh broccoli, but I don't regret using the frozen stuff.

One of the best things I learned after college was that you should put some soups in the food processor...I never knew what I was missing.  There are a lot of foods that are much better when blended.  Take the Pumpkin Saag for example.  I think the recipe would have been just kind of blah without a little blender time.

This soup is another example of something that is good already, but blending it takes it to the next level of yum.

Plus, it made it look better in my teacup :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Salad Spinner and Pad Thai Salad

Guess who is the proud new owner of a salad spinner?!  This girl!  I knew that one of the first recipes I wanted to try from Appetite for Reduction was the recipe for "Pad Thai Salad."  But I also know that washing and drying lettuce is a PITA.  I picked up this puppy for $10 at Meijer today.  They also had a $25 model, but I failed to see the benefits of spending an extra $15...

After a good rinse of both the romaine lettuce and the new spinner, I dumped it in for a ride.
It went as well as I'd expected.  The lettuce wasn't drippy, which is nice.  Next, I needed to put it in a bowl and add the other ingredients for the salad.  Since the book is copyrighted, I won't be posting the recipe here.

The salad consists mainly of Romaine Lettuce, Bean Sprouts, Shredded Carrot, and Red Onion
The hardest part of the salad was making the dressing, and even that wasn't very hard.  Simply combine a few things in the food processor.

Roasted Peanuts and Raw Shallots

The recipe called for Agave nectar, but I didn't have any on hand.  I replaced it with half maple syrup and half honey.  The Sriracha sauce is a new addition to my kitchen.  It was definitely spicy, but lent a good flavor to the salad dressing.

I didn't take a picture of the finished dressing by itself because, frankly, it looked salad dressing typically does.

Here is a picture of the finished product and my dinner for that evening..  Pad Thai Salad, Broccoli Chowder in a teacup, and Sweet Potato Drop Biscuit (substituted Butternut squash because thats what I had on hand).
More to come later on the Broccoli Chowder and the Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Drop Biscuits...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New recipe book!

I'm not sure how this didn't get posted on here yet, but I am very excited that I got a new cookbook.  As you can likely tell, I've been cooking a lot of food out of Veganomicon.  However, I was looking for more breakfast recipes...Particularly healthy breakfast recipes.  I'm not the kind of girl that can run for a morning on a few sweet hot cakes.  I need fiber, protein, etc.

After a brief look online for more books by the same author as Veganomicon, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, I found another book of hers that really caught my eye.

I was pretty excited to find this book.  I also happen to have an, ahem, appetite for reduction...and would very much like to learn more healthy vegan recipes with less fat/calories than some of the recipes I've been trying from Veganomicon.

One of the great parts about this book is that it gives nutritional information for each recipe so you can easily count calories.  She also talks about some of her reasons for wanting to lose weight and I was surprised by how closely they aligned with mine. 

I've already made 3 successful recipes from this book, so look forward to hearing more about it!


After college, I started a personal tradition of making a ham at least once every year.  The first year, I researched a bunch of recipes and combined them all together.  The ham turned out terrible.  It was nearly black in color and fell apart in a manner similar to a dry pot roast.  I ate it anyway, but vowed to find a better ham recipe.

If you've known me for any length of time, you know that pork products are my favorite.  I don't eat them too much, but I joke with my sister occasionally about my recent ideal of a potential 'vegan except for ham' mentality.

No post about ham would be complete without sharing a song written by a friend.  Here is a link to a video of a friend singing a song about ham.  ;)

Like many of my favorite recipes, this one is from Epicurious and is titled, "Old Fashioned Ham with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze.  For the recipe, click here.

You only need a few standard ingredients to get yourself started.  The usual suspects:  honey, whole grain mustard, apple juice, and brown sugar.  And, of course, a raw ham.

I like to make an aluminum foil 'ham spaceship' so that as much liquid stays inside the ham as possible.  I typically get extra heavy duty aluminum foil and place it in a glass pyrex dish to support the ham.

My directions essentially mirror the directions on the website link, so feel free to just follow the recipe.

Add the apple juice (and the ham if you didn't already) to the spaceship.  Make as tight of a seal as you can.  Then bake for about 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees.

When the ham comes out of the oven, take a sharp knife and cut off the rind.  Then, slice diamond shapes into the ham.  This will allow the glaze to seep in and flavor up some of the meat inside.  

Apply the mustard to the ham, then use your hands to smush the brown sugar into it.  Drizzle honey over the whole thing.  Put it back in the oven for about 30 minutes to help the glaze set and get a little dribbly.

Slice and serve!

Alternate directions:  In the past, I just combined all the ingredients in a bowl and dumped them over the ham and let them sit there for the whole cooking time.  This works well, but I think the directions as written on the recipe are best.  You may wish to mix up a bowl of the glaze just to pass around on the really is a very good sauce.

Very good served with quiche and other normal ham accompaniments.  I prefer this recipe for Madame Quiche's Quiche au Fromage, but with other things added in...just plain with cheese is a little drab.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ginger Molasses Cookies

I found one of these at Whole Foods the other day when I had a craving for a good ginger snap.  And wouldn't you know, they have the recipe published on their website.  These were nearly vegan and could very easily be made with a substitute egg (i.e. ground flaxseed and some warm water).
Dry ingredients in one bowl...
vegan 'butter' 

unsulphered, whatever that means :)

Verdict:  Yum.
For recipe, CLICK HERE