Sunday, April 26, 2009

...and i'm done!

Thai red curry? Check!

A piece of advice for anyone out there who enjoys thai curries and cooks - find yourself a thai restaurant or store with minimal english. Look for curry pastes with the same minimal or no english. Buy and enjoy.

When I was in Chelsea Market a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Chelsea Thai Wholesale. While it may not have been the least-English speaking Thai takeout and store, the items they had looked pretty authentic. And for 85 cents for a small (tuna fish size) can of curry paste, it was a win-win situation. I picked up red and green curry pastes along with a delicious plate of Pad Thai.

Using a can of coconut milk (light is preferred but I had a brain fart and got the full-fat stuff), the red curry paste, a container of fresh asian stir-fry vegetables from Trader Joe's (so yummy! onions, peas, broccoli, bell peppers, water chestnuts, fresh, chopped up and ready to go), chicken and some fish sauce and brown sugar, I whipped up a delicious curry.

Chicken? Cut up thighs marinated in a puree of ginger, garlic, cilantro, onion, a seeded jalapeno, soy sauce, ketchup and brown sugar. Sauted it pretty fully cooked after it marinated for a few hours, diced it up some more and then threw it in the curry mixture.

If you like curry and don't always have the time, money, or patience for fully authentic curry, get thyself to a good thai market and "invest" in curry pastes!

the good, the okay, the ugly...

i'm sweating. it's totally gross in our apartment. but i'm cooking. it's just one of those weekends - between the packing, moving, unpacking, i haven't had time to play in the kitchen. and while i'm exhausted, i'm cooking.

today i finally put together the 'stuffed shells' meatballs. my mom always used to make stuffed shells - ground beef, spinach, cottage cheese, spices in large shell pasta, baked in tomato sauce. i had a package of 85/15 ground beef that was chilling in the freezer for a little too long, so i decided to experiment.

the results? yummy, but not pretty.

i had no interest in standing over the stove frying the meatballs up, so i attempted alton brown's technique of baking meatballs. but, i didn't have any foil cups leftover, and i guess i did not grease well enough. so we had sticky meatballs.

the picture shows the darkest meatball which was one of six i did saute - the recipe made 30 meatballs, 24 fit into my mini muffin pan. it was the preferred meatball to me, because i love the dark, crusty edge. the front meatball is one that made it out of the muffin pan in one piece, and the one in the back fell apart.

because of the cheeses and spinach in them, they're very delicate, and pretty delicious. one plus to the meatballs (versus mom's stuffed shells) is that the cottage cheese melts a lot more and incorporates well. maybe not your typical really meaty meatball, but flavorful, and i think they're pretty versatile. i could see them crumbled into a salad, on top of a tortilla pizza, served with spaghetti sauce on top of pasta or veggies, etc.

the recipe is below!

"stuffed shells" meatballs
1-1.5 lb 85/15 ground beef
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
about 3/4 cup diced onion
4 cloves garlic
2 eggs
1 cup crushed Kay's Naturals Parmesan Protein Chips (or breadcrumbs)
1 cup 1% cottage cheese, drained
1/2 cup or 2 oz shredded mozzarella
1/2ish cup shredded parmesan
2-3 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
hearty pinch of red pepper flakes

saute onions till soft, add garlic and spinach till warmed through. let the mixture cool. mix all ingredients together well, and form into 1.5 oz meatballs. either saute/fry in olive oil on stove until browned and pop into the oven to finish cooking, or cook in greased mini muffin cups in the oven for 20 minutes at 400.

Hazelnut Mocha Chip Protein Muffins

So...I haven't felt so hot today, but I've had an itch to bake. Having finally picked up spelt flour at Whole Foods last week, I decided on Eggface's protein muffins. But, I was looking for something a bit more decadent than fruit. Nutella is like my favorite thing ever, so what's better than hazelnut mocha chip protein muffins?! Chocolate, coffee, hazelnuts, yum!

3/4 cup Spelt Flour
1/2 cup chocolate protein powder - used 1.5 scoops Lean Dessert Chocolate Fudge Pudding and 1 scoop Click Mocha, which yielded a bit more than 1/2 cup but it worked
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp sugar free syrup (I used 2 parts vanilla, 1 part SF hazelnut, 1 part Kahlua)
2 tbsp 1% cottage cheese
3 tbsp instant coffee - I'd recommend instant espresso instead
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup chopped Guylian no sugar added dark chocolate

Combine dry ingredients, excluding the coffee but including the hazelnuts and chocolate. Mix together, coating the pieces well. I whizzed the eggs, oil, syrups, vanilla, and coffee in the magic bullet (but mixing by hand is fine) and added to the dry ingredients. Stir until well-combined.

It makes 24 mini muffins, and bakes 12 minutes at 350.

They're a tad over-coffee-y for me, but not bad - now that I've had a second one, I think it's also heavy on the cinnamon. Next time, I may cut the cinnamon to 1/4 tsp, throw a little bit of splenda in it, take the kahlua syrup out, just use hazelnut and vanilla. As for nutrition stats, the nuts and chocolate makes the fat content a bit higher, but it's pretty darn good for the final product!

Attempting on the menu tomororw? My "stuffed shells" meatballs - spinach and cottage cheese. And, if the day goes well, red curry. But there's never enough time on Sunday!

Friday, April 24, 2009

crazy month, slow morning

The month of April has been...crazy, to put it lightly.

I'm officially moved in to our Brooklyn apartment - got some awesome movers last weekend and they were done in ~2 hours, for $250 (including tip). Tomorrow, I'm going back to Astoria one last time to do a general clean up, pick up anything I forgot, and give the girls the keys.

Work is oddly slow this morning, but both Tom and Sue aren't in today, and Lori (supervisor) is in a meeting. It's been somewhat nice to relax this first hour.

- Aaaand, just as I said that, I was given stuff to do. Which is fine by me! -

Yeah, so there's not really a lot to blog about - busy but nothing remarkable. I did slice my index finger nicely a week or so ago with an exacto knife. Fortunately, no stitches were needed but it took the corner chunk of my nail with it.

I've been doing some cooking and plan on doing some more this weekend. The only remarkable thing from this week were some delicious ginger poached noodles inspired by Heidi at 101 Cookbooks from last night. Wednesday night, Omar cooked up a flank steak marinated in soy, sriracha, garlic, and ketchup I think, roasted some asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper and topped with lemon zest and Parmesan, and did a simple olive oil based potato salad with scallions and parsley. With the leftover steak and asparagus in mind, last night I cooked up some noodles.

Basically, I boiled up water and vegetable broth cube, tossed in ~2 oz sliced ginger, 4-5 smashed garlic cloves, 1 jalapeño cut into thick rings. I was lazy and didn't want to seed it, but the pepper was a lot hotter than expected, so I recommend seeding. I let it boil and infuse for probably 5-10 minutes, while I chopped up 3 scallions and a handful of cilantro, shaved some carrot (literally whittled at a carrot with a knife - hey, most of my utensils are still packed up), cut up the roasted asparagus (8ish spears?) and sliced up 2-3 oz of the flank steak.

Toss in drained shirataki noodles and let boil. They only really need 2-3 minutes to par boil, but I let them go for at least 5 (maybe 10?) minutes in hopes to infuse them with the flavor. I didn't know if they would absorb any flavor because I had never tried this method.

I added a few handfuls of frozen peas into the mixture a minute or two before draining. Drain, pick out whatever big chunks you can find, particularly the pepper. I saved some of the broth, following the original recipe, but because I didn't seed the pepper and it was QUITE hotter than I ever expected, the broth was too hot to use. Advice: don't expect the jalapeños at the Korean market to be as wimpy as Key Food jalapeños!

Throw the noodles and peas in a bowl, add the other veggies, and toss with 2-3 tbsp soy sauce, a drizzle of sesame oil, and lemon juice. (Lime would be better, but they were still packed too. Oh, and I used about half the life of one half of a juicy lemon.) I added the steak to my final plate, on top of the mixture, because there was more noodle salad than one serving.

Om nom nom!

Ideas for this weekend? "Stuffed shells" meatballs - ground beef, chopped spinach, either ricotta or cottage cheeses? (Just an idea I'm throwing around in my head because of slightly freezer burned 85/15 ground beef waiting for me.) Some of Eggface's protein muffins - but maybe mocha chip? Hazelnuts, coffee, some nsa dark chocolate? If anyone has any other cooking ideas, pass them this way. I have some red and green curry pastes I picked up from a great Thai place in Chelsea Market that I may have to play around with some too, especially since Shira has been raving about the curry she made (which I made in February).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


along with my hard drive pretty much dieing on me on saturday - the apple store spent two hours getting it to a point where it works again tonight but no one knows for how long. i just got home and had planned on either having some "chicken" nuggets or mini taco things - frozen decently-healthy goodies i got from Shira when she left NY. guess what's missing from my freezer? yeah, fuck you people. what's even more annoying? i can pretty much assume that the roommates didn't eat them, but threw them out. jennifer and her kitchen clutter pet peeve probably threw it out during one of her cleaning sprees because they may have shown the slightest sign of time in the freezer. oh my god, frost? in the freezer? no!

seriously, fuck. you. my day started out annoying - douche bag on the train couldn't not take up 4 feet of space so i didn't get a seat the whole way to work. then, the day wouldn't go by fast enough, and then two hours at apple. it's perfect that it's going to end with me not eating dinner.

i apologize for the ranty, bitchy, crude post but i'm over this shit. (and pissed/frustrated at the amount of money i'm probably going to have to drop on this computer, along with every other budget/money concern associated with moving.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

mixed results

So I'm feeling the desire to get moved sooner (meaning next weekend) rather than later. Except that I do not want to pack. I picked up four egg boxes from Key Foods today and I've packed one full, the other over halfway. But, conveniently, I ran out of packing tape after 9 tonight. So I'm waiting to go to Staples tomorrow.

Instead, I cooked - lunch for this week maybe? This was a game of "What's in Emily's Fridge?" + "Let's Try Something New!"

So, I had a block of extra firm tofu in the fridge, and I want to make some macafoni and cheese, but I know that I get tired of the same food over and over. So I split the block in half and decided I wanted to fry some up and maybe make lo mein since I have shirataki in the fridge. I've never really made tofu at home besides the macafoni, so I figured, why not waste a few hours?

I started with this recipe/website - I cut the tofu into strips, dry-fried it, and marinated it in lots of garlic, ginger, scallions, 1/2 cup soy sauce, less than a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a squirt of sriracha, and maybe 1/8-1/4 cup rice vinegar.

I let that marinate for an hour, and then fried it up a la Cooks Illustrated - dusted in a bit of cornstarch. Once it was fried nicely, I added the glaze from CI - a tablespoon of soy sauce, a tablespoon of brown sugar, two tablespoons of chicken broth. Once that was tossed together - at the high heat it glazed up very, very quickly, I threw it in a bowl and added pre-cooked shrimp. (I had half a bag from Trader Joe's left over in the freezer.)

The lo mein has mushrooms, scallions, edamame, and a decent amount of a napa cabbage-carrot-scallion-cilantro-mint mix. I had the cabbage mix left over from another recipe and it was about to hit the trash otherwise. I added the tofu marinade with water and cornstarch at the end, along with the shirataki, and let it come to a boil. I pretty much followed the directions in this recipe. I then topped it with more fresh scallions and cashews.

Why mixed results? The mint permeated the dish a bit more than I expected. Also, the tofu probably only needed 30 minutes in the marinade - since they were smaller strips, they sucked up the soy faster. And, since I made the mistake of adding ALL the marinade to the dish, it's a bit on the salty side. It's not bad, but it's not perfect. I'm thinking of drizzling just a teeny bit of honey on top of it when I eat it for lunch or whatever, to help cut the salt.

It's sort of a clusterfuck of ingredients:
shirataki (tofu) noodles, tofu, shrimp, cremini mushrooms, scallions, edamame, napa cabbage, carrots, cilantro, mint, ginger, garlic, cashews, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar.

If nothing else, it's a learning experience. The tofu is divine - the glaze is yummy and almost burnt, and it fried up nicely without actually being so "fried". I would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009!

Another foodie post for me!

Tortilla pizza a la Eggface
1 tortilla (this is burrito sized because that's all I can find around here, Mission low carb/whole wheat)
tomato sauce - I used Newman's Own tomato basil
lots of cheese - I used TJ's lite three cheese blend, along with fresh grated parm on top
2 leftover turkey meatballs (see previous post)
a few slices of [turkey] pepperoni
caramelized onions
optional - roasted garlic

I rubbed the roasted garlic on the tortilla before anything was added. spoon sauce, add cheese, meatball slices, pepperoni, caramelized onions, top with some more cheese and italian blend herbs and red pepper flakes. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

The basis of this recipe is totally Michelle's (Eggface), but the great thing about the tortilla pizza is that it's a vehicle for leftovers, just like a quesadilla. I really love cooked onions, and I have a feeling it's gonna be yummy. It's for lunch and dinner tomorrow, so I haven't tried it.

If you want to know how to caramelize onions, google it. ;) You can do it on the stove, in the oven or even a large batch in a slow cooker. I just sliced up less than half a large onion, put it in hot olive oil and turned it down to medium-medium low. I let it chill, stirring every 5-10 minutes, on low. You could just saute the onions quicker if impatient.

OH, one other note - we got the apartment!!!!!! Holy crap I don't know how I'm going to afford this month - moving, furniture, etc. But...we shall see...