25 January 2009

Honey Mustard Sauced Pork Sirloin Roast

After purchasing a massive package of pork sirloin roast at the grocery store (3 roasts! 7 dollars! Bring on the pork!), I scoured Epicurious, MyRecipes, AllRecipes, and Recipezaar for a good recipe when I found this recipe that included a honey mustard-based sauce. While the roast turned out great, the sauce was a little tangy for my tastes. I think in hindsight I knew the honey it called for was a bit much.... I ended up using the sauce on turkey sandwiches for the rest of the week.

24 January 2009

Red Velvet Cake

I've tried quite a few recipes for Red Velvet Cake in the past few years, and this is perhaps the best recipe I've tried so far. Having grown up with Italian cream cakes and mascarpone cheese in just about anything that called for cream cheese, I am love with the cream cheese frosting that also asks for mascarpone. The richest yet lightest cream flavored cheese around, mascarpone is a little expensive on this side of these United, making me long for Italian grocers (dear God, I miss Chicago), but it's for sure worth it for the beautiful touch it gives this cake.

I love only two cakes: red velvet with cream cheese frosting and those lame confetti cakes with rainbow chip icing. Yes, I'm lame. But you know what? Those are some tasty cakes. This cake I served for a New Year's Eve crab feed with my in-laws, and with a little less than a pint of frozen raspberries from my garden to either use or waste, I chose to decorate the cake with it. I also chopped a few pieces of chocolate that needed to be used and sprinkled some cocoa powder over the finished product. It turned out pretty damn fantastic, if I may say so myself... For a grad student budget, this was an extravagant yet well worth it splurge!

I am trying a new recipe for Red Velvet tomorrow, and will hopefully find something that compromises my taste for a less sweet cake from the myriad of overly sweet cake recipes out there!

23 January 2009

Laughing Buddha Ginger Pale Ale

Ian and I tried a new beer a couple weeks ago (yes, I'm obviously behind. my bad.) from the Laughing Buddha brewery. The Ginger Pale Ale was definitely not a winner with Ian, who puckered up at first taste and looked like Bill Cosby in those Jell-O Pudding Pop commercials, but I loved it. Usually spicy beer repels me (Red Stripe always makes me reach for the Tums) but I have to say, Laughing Buddha has a winner here. Just the right amount of ginger makes this a light but still very flavorful beer. I would recommend a food with it, but it's really something you could and perhaps should enjoy without accompaniment. Or with cheese....

22 January 2009

Buffalo Flank Steak

I love roaming around the Moscow Co-Op, particularly around the frozen and fresh meats sections, as I almost always run into something I have always wanted to try. With the economy being the way it is, I haven't felt much of a crunch in my food budget since I already carefully plan meals and snacks out, but when I saw buffalo flank steak at $2 less a pound than beef flank steak, I rejoiced that I could cut a couple of dollars from my stringent budget and still be adventurous. This area isn't great for those who like to eat out (shudder--I STILL haven't found a decent restaurant out here), but the diversity of foods in supermarkets and smaller grocery stores is seriously improving.

Without further ado, I give you buffalo flank steak porn. It's a tad bit tougher than a beef flank steak, even with an overnight marinading session, but of course this could be the cut I bought. I served it in a stir fry after taste testing its texture. As far as I can tell, it's a little sweeter, a bit more tough and has a better rate of absorption than beef. The last observation seems odd since the cut is tougher than beef and therefore it seems as if I'm suggesting it is also dry, but oddly, it isn't. It's fantastic!

18 January 2009

The longest and most restful hiatus known to humankind

Now that the "spring" semester is underway (spring semester seems to be quite the misnomer) I realized today that not only have I neglected this blog, but I have become a serious cold weather hermit. Almost directly after I finished teaching and collecting final papers, I lamented to my husband that we hadn't even had so much as a pristine dusting of snow in the Palouse since last winter (er, June actually--yes June) and it just didn't feel like winter. I spent my days in my office with some books and a few very warm fleece blankets, dreaming of sugar plums and finishing my dissertation....

Then the snow came. 30 inches in two weeks! You didn't read that incorrectly, I actually meant 30 inches. Suddenly my uphill gravel drive became a little less charming, and my insistence on owning a tiny rollerskate of a Ford Focus seemed downright insane. The dogs rolled around like fillets in flour and Johnny Cash meowed, probably thinking about his days as a wild feral cat, stalking bunnies and pheasant in the snow.

Hanukkah came and went, Christmas came and went, and still I was almost round the clock stuck in my little house with a bunch of rambunctious animals. Not that I'm complaining.

Sometime after the New Year, husband and I both came down with the kind of cold you fear--not the nose-blistering, throat-clearing kind, but the achy, fatigue-laden cold that leaves you absolutely exhausted after performing the day's most simple tasks.

Erin's "Feel Better and Go Back to Bed" Slow Cooker Chicken Soup
Note: Celery leaves aren't required, but they really are a wonderful addition to a soup that feels like home

4 Chicken thighs, cooked and shredded
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
5 baby carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 can low-sodium organic diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup orzo
Fresh ground black pepper
Celery leaves, optional

1. Combine all ingredients except orzo, chickpeas and black pepper. Cook on low for eight hours. Go back to bed.

2. One half hour before serving, add chickpeas and orzo. At serving time, ladle soup in bowl and season with black pepper. Chop optional celery leaves and add to soup.

Erin's "Still Sick and I Don't Feel Like Moving" Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chicken Stew

1 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs
Cooking spray
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
Sprinkle of allspice
1 cup water
2 chicken bouillon cubes (or 1 cup chicken stock minus the water)
1/2 cup prepared or homemade tomato salsa (I used homemade)
Chopped cilantro to taste
Lime wedges to taste

1. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and brown chicken thighs over medium high heat for three minutes each side.
2. Place chicken in slow cooker. Pile sweet potatoes and black beans on top. Add water and bouillon, and then spices and salsa. Cook over low heat for four hours.
3. Just before serving, add some fresh squeezed lime juice and chopped cilantro. Serve with tortillas.