Sunday, April 7, 2013

A mild revival

I haven't written anything in a long time, although I've still been cooking a lot. I've been on a mission to try to cook something out of every cookbook I own. That's a lot of cookbooks. We're up to like 30 or something insane.
This is what I made from Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. I was supposed to make the Peppermint Cream Puff Ring, and as soon as I saw it I was afraid of it. I make a lot of food. I rarely focus on making the food look good.
But this time... this time it worked out.

Look how pretty it turned out! I should have toasted the almonds, I'll admit. A minor mistake. But it turned out well!
And I had so much extra dough (not to mention extra cream) that I made little.... dough-cream-bars.

And one cream puff.

I know scale doesn't really show here, but that cream puff was actually huge. I ate it all, and it was enormous. It was delicious though.
I've been going through these books for a while now. I've made Shrimp de Jonghe, Smothered Greens, Popovers, Duck Confit Tacos, Skate with Tomato and Olive Sauce... it's been interesting. The skate was a REALLY great adventure, it made me go adventure to a fish market and talk to people who had jobs I didn't know existed in order to get five pounds of fish. I still have a pound of it left, if anyone wants to tell me what else to do with it, I'm all ears.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Grilled Leek

Way back when, when the Mama Bird and I were still getting fresh vegetables from the co-opt every week, we had an influx of leeks. My experience with leeks prior to that was limited entirely to knowing that Farfetch'd carried one in Pokemon. I had never actually seen one before, and I had no idea what they tasted like.

But suddenly, I absolutely had to eat those leeks. I wanted to make a super healthy dinner and I wanted it to involve leeks and I wanted to feel like I was one of those people who tracks their every meal and knows exactly how many carbs they've eaten over the last week, and I wanted to FEEL HEALTHY.

(...on that note, I recommend using LiveStrong if you want to track that kind of stuff. I use it all the time.)

But back to the leeks.

I found a recipe through TasteSpotting and told Mama Bird that I was taking care of dinner that night. And to not touch the leeks. She was amused by my dedication and told me to do whatever I wanted.

This is a super easy recipe. You cut the leeks, cook them with some stock and chickpeas, and then make a lemon-honey-dill dressing and serve it with some feta. Doesn't that sound awesome?

I have no idea why I was so driven to eat those leeks that day, but it was a solid direction. Mama Bird really liked the flavors, but it's definitely not a dish to serve to a meat lover. It would also work really well as a side, since it doesn't serve many. It also sounds really fancy to announce you're serving leeks and feta with a lemon-honey-dill sauce.

On a non-healthy note: Happy Birthday, Mama Bird. I hope you enjoyed that cheesecake, cause it definitely wasn't healthy. <3

Saturday, January 28, 2012

After 10 hours of cooking....

Ridiculously buttery and melt-in-your mouth blackberry muffins....

Fresh paneer....

A spiced applesauce cake....

And a whole mess of peppers, onions, and garlic.

My friends are coming to visit today. We're going to play League of Legends, board games, and feast until we're too full to move. In the interests of that last goal, I've made them a feast. The menu includes:
  • Homemade chips and hummus
  • Minced lamb and peas
  • Palak paneer (although my paneer didn't turn out. So I picked up some peynir instead.)
  • Homemade naan
  • Blackberry muffins (if I'm nice enough to share!)
  • Spiced applesauce cake with cinnamon frosting

    Yeah, I know you wish you were my friend. Birds do like cooking.
  • Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Muffin Round-Up

    Looking back at all the drafts I've written to be published, it occurs to me that I have far too many muffins.

    Well, that's a lie. Far too many muffins that I haven't shared. Even after the insane amount of baking I did for Christmas, I don't think there's such a thing as too many muffins.

    Instead of writing full entries for each of them, I'm just gonna share a few quick pictures and my thoughts on them. Maybe that'll motivate me to finally get the rest of my old entries up so I can start sharing new stuff again. Like the buffalo chicken calzones I made recently. Oh god, why did I wait so long to make those?

    First up: Coconut Jam Muffins, from Los Angeles Times. They're definitely dessert muffins, since they're pretty darn sweet. Surprisingly, even my friends who didn't like coconut liked these. I think it's probably because they have oatmeal too, because oatmeal does magic things to muffins.

    Whole Grain Pumpkin muffins from Other Side of Fifty, which I sadly didn't take a picture of. They didn't look too pretty. I also doubled the batch to use all the pumpkin I had left, and ate these for almost a month and a half. As someone who's always disliked pumpkin pie, I thought that was a pretty big feat.

    Morning Glory Muffins from Joy of Baking. I didn't get a picture of these either, but with a much more reasonable excuse. I made these the morning of Run For Your Lives, which is a zombie-themed 5k. We got up super early to drive to the race, and I decided that really nutricious muffins would be great, and someone suggested carrot. So I went all out and made Morning Glory muffins. There are no pictures of these because they were all completely demolished the night I made them, including the extra ones I left at my house. I'd highly recommend trying them.

    Raspberry Lemon muffins from Coco Bean. Despite my making these more than six months ago, I remember them extremely well. I really liked the flavor, but I didn't do a great job with the zest, so there were long strands of lemon throughout the muffins that weren't really enjoyable to chew on. If it hadn't been for that, I think they would have been perfect.

    Honey Cornbread muffins from A Farmgirl's Dabbles. I made these to pair with jambalaya, so I could watch the Princess and the Frog and have fitting food (never mind that they actually eat jumbo in that movie.), and they were great. Not overly sweet, but sweet enough that I think with a little jam they'd be a perfect dessert. Thinking about them makes me sad I gave the rest away...

    Chocolate Cherry muffins from Stolen Moments. I don't think I even need to say much about these. Just look at the name and ingredient list. Chocolate muffins are great, and then add cherries? They were amazing.

    Apple Cinnamon muffins from Southern, eh? I have a thing for apple and cinnamon. I love them. Next time I make these I'm going to put a bit more cinnamon in them, but otherwise they were great. They're also surprisingly low calorie.

    And now for the Christmas muffins.

    White and Purple Amaretto muffins, modified from I Love Muffins. Instead of having any chocolate I just made extra batter and died some of it purple. I wasn't a big fan of these, but I think the texture difference the chocolate would have provided would probably have alleviated most of my complains about them. I also just didn't find them terribly flavorful, since I didn't add anything to compensate.

    Strawberry Cinnamon Sugar muffins from Eggs on Sunday. I added some food coloring to make the batter pink, and also put pink sugar sparkles on top, just in case it wasn't sweet enough before. They were quite good, although I wish strawberry flavoring would come through more in baking. Maybe if a large number of strawberries were pureed....

    I would actually call these cupcakes, honestly.... and we didn't take a picture of any of them, but they're rainbow muffins! I had a lot of help with these, and they did a bunch better job at making them even than I probably would have.... making the rainbow cake was frustrating enough for me.

    Here's a picture of all the muffins (well... half of the muffins. There were five tins in the end):

    There are four muffins in there I didn't take pictures of individually: blueberry from Obsessed with Baking (which I've made before and are always a huge hit), another version of Cinnamon Sugar muffins, banana muffins from Melbourne Food Files, and my personal favorite, apple butterscotch from Annie's Eats. I could have easily eaten all of the butterscotch ones on my own, and probably would have if there hadn't been people in the kitchen with me.

    Okay, there's one more muffin I didn't share with you guys, because they were special. I also liked the pictures I took of them enough that I think they deserve their own post. So while the world may be almost caught up on my muffin adventures, bear in mind that I just ate the last of the banana muffins, so the time for more is rapidly approaching....

    Sunday, December 25, 2011

    Christmas Baking

    Four dozen cookies, two pounds of candied almonds, and about ten dozen muffins, all baked in two days. The complete list:

  • Candied Almonds
  • Green Tea Cookies
  • Modified these into Chocolate Blackberry Cookies
  • Russian Tea Cookies
  • Carrot Cake Cookies
  • Blueberry Muffins
  • Strawberry Cinnamon Sugar Muffins
  • White Amaretto Muffins
  • Rainbow Cupcakes
  • Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Butterscotch Muffins (which are possibly my favorite)
  • Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

    It took hours and would not have been possible without a lot of help, but they all came together, and I think everyone liked everything.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!
  • Monday, December 19, 2011


    I'm doing a lot of baking for Christmas. A lot. As in I'm planning on doing absolutely nothing but going to work, the grocery store, and to my kitchen on Thursday night so I can be ready for the EPH exchange on Friday night.

    I'm trying a lot of recipes I've never made before, so I'm definitely nervous things won't turn out. I can't share the full list of what I'll be making, but here's a tease as to some of the ingredients that will be featuring:
  • bananas
  • almonds
  • butterscotch
  • blackberries
  • powdered sugar
  • green tea

    Hopefully I won't be too tired to share everything about the hours this will take.
  • Monday, November 21, 2011

    "You're making old person muffins?"

    In case you couldn't tell, I'm making a bit of an effort to start updating sort of regularly again. I'm not going to promise any sort of schedule, because this blog is supposed to be for fun, and schedules stress me out. I'll be sharing a lot of older stuff for a while- stuff I made and didn't share because I was too lazy to type.

    These may be the first muffins I've made that I didn't like.

    I made these thinking that I wouldn't really like them. Hoping, but thinking 'wow, these certainly sound... interesting, I hope they're good...' Mama Bird looked at the recipe and assured me that if I didn't like them, she'd eat them. So I decided to be brave and to try it. I like new food, right?

    They don't even really look good.

    I tried to like them, and I did eat two before I gave up and declared that they were all for Mama Bird. She did eat them all, to her credit, but I don't know how she did it. I'll be sticking to sweeter muffins from now on.

    Recipe from Teaspot NYC.
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 2 ounces dates
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1.25 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
    1. Preheat oven to 375.
    2. Heat applesauce and dates over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is reduced to about 1.25 cups, or 15-20 minutes.
    3. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
    4. Transfer applesauce to bowl, and mix in bran, buttermilk, egg, honey, ginger, and vanilla.
    5. In separate bowl, mix flour, flaxseed, baking soda, salt, allspice, and 1/4 cup oats.
    6. After letting stand for 10 minutes, mix ingredients together.
    7. Transfer batter into muffin tins.
    8. Bake 20-23 minutes.

    Makes 12 muffins, with 90 calories and $0.43 per serving.