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Sushi! (first attempt)

18 Apr

We made sushi last week – it was so much easier than I could have ever imagined. For some reason I expected it to be super hard and complicated, but it was so so easy.

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We went to Haymarket and grabbed a pound of tuna (for $3, come on, how could we not!). We decided to be risky and eat it raw – bold move, I know. We went to an asian grocery store and picked up a pack of seaweed sheets (the wrapper stuff). Try to get the perforated type! So much easier to deal with. We made two rolls and gobbled them down within about 2 minutes each. We were under the influence at the time (which explains why the pictures are disastrous) so it’s a little sloppy, but it was still really good (or so I remember….)

What we used:
Dried seaweed sheets
About a cup white rice (maybe a little more) – cooked and cooled
½ pound of tuna, sliced up thin
Whatever other delicious things you want to put in! We used cream cheese, carrots, and celery in our second wrap, sliced
Pickled ginger, wasabi, soy sauce – to eat with the wrap

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How we did it:
Lay the sheets out so the rough side is up. If there are perforations, you’ll want them to run left to right (it’ll matter later).

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Lay a thin layer of rice down – try to be sure the rice is completely covering the sheet, but also try and lay it down as thinly as you can. Leave about ½” at the right edge uncovered.

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Put your fish (or whatever) down the left side (perpendicular to the perforations). If you’re using other ingredients, you can put them in here – we used cream cheese, carrots, and celery.

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Roll it up, and cut it into pieces on the perforations. We dipped the pieces into soy sauce and topped with some wasabi – and then chased with ginger. It was supeerr delicious!

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I think next time we’ll be a little more wild with the other ingredients – maybe something a little spicy? Hmmmmmm

 

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Chilled Asparagus Soup

16 Apr

I picked up a couple bunches of asparagus at Haymarket over the weekend… they were 3 for a dollar, how could I resist?! We used one bunch in a pasta dish – we roasted peppers, asparagus and onions over pasta with an olive oil/garlic sauce.

Anyway, that left me with two extra bunches of asparagus. The stalks didn’t look wonderful… they were pretty floppy. In order to try and salvage some of the whopping financial investment I had already made in asparagus, I pondered the ways to use extra bunches… and somehow decided on making soup (what is this, my third time making soup in two weeks?) It’s a lot simpler than the last couple soups I made, with a lot less ingredients. I wanted a cold soup, but this could be eaten either way.

I definitely think that next time I make this soup I’ll add some rice in – I liked it, but some people weren’t crazy about the texture (excuuuuuuuse me NICK). I think adding rice will make it more palatable.

As usual, this makes a good size serving (about 7 cups). You can easily halve this recipe if you don’t have an army to serve.

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Serving Size: 1 cup Total Servings: 7 Cals per serving: 89
Fat: 5.0 g – Protein: 4.9 g – Carbs: 7.0 g

What I used:
Two bunches of asparagus, washed
1 ½ onions
1 lemon
4 cups veggie broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, basil
a blender is a must!!

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What to do:
Start by chopping the onion up – actual size of pieces doesn’t matter, it’s all going to get blended anyway. Put the olive oil in your favorite soup pot over medium heat, and when it’s hot add the onion. Cook until translucent, stirring occasionally.

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While that cooks, start on the asparagus. Begin by cutting off a couple tips (2 for each serving, they’re for decoration). Chop the rest of the bunches into roughly 2” pieces. Once the onion in done, add the 2” pieces of asparagus, sprinkle some salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook for about five minutes – the asparagus will become a more vibrant green than before.

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After the five minutes is up, add the broth, cover, and turn to high heat. Once it boils, let it simmer for about 15 minutes or until the asparagus is pretty soft. Take it off the heat and let it cool for a bit… and grab your blender.

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Blend it in small batches, being sure to take the middle piece out of the blender top before turning on (see picture). Otherwise it explodes EVERYWHERE. I used an oven mitt over the top of the blender as a precaution – whatever you do, be sure to secure the top down well.

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Pour the blended parts into a bowl and stir to combine. I like to squeeze the lemon juice onto the soup at this point, but I’ve heard of people who just use the lemon rind here.

Refrigerate the soup until chilled. Take those asparagus spears (bet you thought I forgot about them, didn’t you) and remove the little thorns. Pour into bowls and top with the spears, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic.

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We served with stuffed peppers and crusty bread, but Nick mentioned it’d probably be really good with some steak and potatoes, too.

 

Irish Soda Bread Biscuits

11 Mar

I love holidays. Any holiday. I love having the excuse to cook lots of food, eat (and drink) all day, and then coddle my food baby the whole next day. This year, I’ll be in Providence for St. Patrick’s Day, so I won’t be helping cook any major feast. I really have a hard time breaking tradition, so I’ve decided to sporadically make my favorite St. Patrick-esque recipes over the next few weeks.

Last year I was really only in charge of the Irish Soda Bread – I think that’s all Nick trusted me to do. Everyone there just clawed at it when it came out of the oven – major struggle. I wanted to figure out a way to make it in more single-serving pieces… like biscuits. They turned out pretty well, but I personally prefer the regular loaf of bread .. I feel better eating a bunch of small little slices than a couple big biscuits.

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What I used
3 cups flour
¼ cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick (½ cup) butter – room temperature!
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 egg, whisked

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How to
Start by crisco-ing 2 muffin tins (12 wells in total). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the butter into small chunks – dice into ½” cubes. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Combine the mix with the butter doing your best to fully combine the two. Mix the raisins and caraway seeds into the mixture.

For this next part, you should definitely have someone else near you – I ended up needing to scratch my nose in the middle of it and having to hold off until the end. Mix the buttermilk and the egg together, and then pour into the flour mixture.

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Stir until combined, but be sure to not overmix. The fun part – you probably can’t do this with a spoon. Wash your hands, and get in there. The mixture will be wet and sticky. Combine, being sure to get all the little pockets of flour that can hide out in there.

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Put the dough into the muffin tins. Bake for about 15 minutes (potentially up to 20), or until the top is brown and it passes the toothpick test.

Let cool for a few minutes, and then remove from the tins. Enjoy warm with butter!

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Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese

24 Feb

I spent last Valentine’s Day eating Ethiopian take-out and attempting to watch Star Wars (but falling asleep halfway through – oops). But Nick came down to CT for it this year and I decided to try and make him a nice dinner for 2. I figured I would make some nice steak with mashed potatoes (we are both Irish, after all). I had made pulled pork a few days before (with this in mind), so I made pulled pork mac and cheese to round out the meal.

It was crusty on top, hot and gooey on the inside, and so delicious that we almost didn’t bother eating the steak and potatoes.

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What I used:
1 box macaroni (4 cups, dry)
3 tbsp butter
¼ cup flour
2 ½ cups whole milk
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz gruyere cheese, grated
2 cups pulled pork (complete with bbq sauce)
2 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper
Cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika to taste
Sleeve of butter crackers (like ritz)

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What I did:
I started by setting up a medium pot of water for the macaroni to boil in – it’s best to cook it until it’s al dente, drain it, and set it aside.

Grab a 9×13 pan and lightly crisco the inside. Preheat oven to 375.

I put the butter and flour into a large pot and whisked together over medium-low heat. Whisk it for about 5 minutes. Then, slowly add in milk and mustard seed, stirring the whole time. Stir until it thickens, which will be about 10 minutes or so. When it gets thick, turn the heat to low.

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Add in the cheese and stir until it’s smooth. Add salt, pepper, and other spices. Mix in the macaroni to the large pot and stir until combined.

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Add half of the mixture into the 9×13. Add a layer of the pulled pork, and then add the second half of the macaroni mixture.

(I don’t have any pictures of these steps because I was too busy stealing little bites)

Crumble up the buttered crackers and put them on top. I like to spray with a layer of olive oil to make them crisp up while they’re in the oven.

I covered with aluminum foil, and cooked for 15 minutes. Uncover, cook for another 10, and then let sit for a minute before eating!

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Brewday: The Mead

22 Feb

A couple weeks ago Nick and I made mead. It was my first time actually participating in the brewing process beyond just capping the bottles.

For my non-brewer friends, mead is made like this: boil a crapton of water, pour >10 lbs of honey in, put 7 lbs of fruit into a bag and steep it just like tea. Add some yeast, let it cool (and sit for a couple months) and it goes from a hot yummy breakfast drink to alcohol.

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Me adding in 13ish pounds of honey to the pot

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This is what the fruit looked like before it was steeped

At the end of the day, I ended up standing in my kitchen with a giant sack of hot mushy leftover fruit bits, pondering how my life had gotten to this wonderful point. I then started to brainstorm what I could do with the leftovers. Nick and I looked over at the dehydrator on our counter, and decided we wanted to see what happened if we just dried it out.

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I look ridiculous but this is me steeping the fruit bag

After a bunch of hours, the fruit finally turned into a mixed fruit leather. It was a combination of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mangoes, and oranges – it was sweet, citrusy and seedy.

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The fruit, halfway through drying

Nick cut it up into little pieces, and added it into the granola/granola bars. The fruit is so delicious, it makes me so excited to drink the mead (it only has two months left!)

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The granola bars and chopped up fruit bits

Related: Granola bars, made from leftover barley

Honey Mustard Brussel Sprouts

16 Dec

First official post of something I made at home!

I have been on a huge brussel sprout kick for a while now. My parents claimed to not like them, which sounded like a challenge to me. I personally like them roasted with some spices, but I wanted to make something extra delicious to trick them into loving them… and after they ate them, my parents asked me to make them for Christmas dinner!

Sorry about the rough pictures – I only had my cellphone at hand.

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What I used
1 bag frozen(!) brussel sprouts, thawed
~⅓ cup honey
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons craisins
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
olive oil
minced garlic
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

How
I started by cutting the brussel sprouts in half and tossing with a little bit of olive oil. I spread them out on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and topped with about 2 teaspoons of minced garlic and a dash of salt/pepper/red pepper flakes. I put these in the oven on broil for about 10 minutes, stirring every once in a while.

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When they had just started to brown, I mixed in the almonds and craisins and put it back in the oven for a few minutes, until that side was brown and roasted.

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While everything was in the oven, I mixed the honey and mustard together. When I pulled the sprouts out, I put them in a bowl with sauce. I served them hot that night but ate them cold the next morning (don’t judge me).

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Butternut Squash Risotto

6 Dec

So I am sad to say but this is my last post from Graceland (for the next little bit, at least). I’m moving to CT for my next affiliation, so until late spring my posts will be coming from the kitchen I grew up in.

While the thought of leaving the boys, the apartment, and the pond are hard, I still haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that I will be moving out of Boston. I have lived here for just over five years and have experienced some wild stuff here. I tried counting the other day, and I think I have lived in five different apartments/dorms with twenty one different roommates. I have forged the weirdest friendships that I know will last until we’re old and in west facing rocking chairs.

Having Thanksgiving here was a nice send-off, though. It was a great chance to have the whole family together, enjoying each other’s company.

Enough with the sappy junk, I’m going to make myself lose it. I made butternut squash risotto for Thanksgiving, here’s the recipe:

What:
3 cups diced/peeled butternut squash (about 1 small one)
1 large onion, diced
1 apple, diced
4 tbsp butter
1 oz goat cheese
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups arborio rice
3 tbsp chives, chopped finely
1 cup dry white wine
parmesan cheese, to taste
salt to taste
Optional: a couple slices of bacon

How:
I started by heating the broth up in a saucepan. I brought it to a boil and then quickly reduced to simmer.

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In a big pot (this is where the actual cooking will be happening), I melted the butter over medium heat. I then added the onions, squash, and apple and cooked until the onion became translucent.

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I then added the rice into the big pot. After I stirred it, I added the wine. I stirred that until the liquid was absorbed by the rice. After that, I added some broth into the mixture – enough to cover the rice – and cooked until the rice absorbed it. I continued adding the broth bit by bit until it all became absorbed.

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I did this until the rice was done cooking. I didn’t end up using all of the broth, but I probably used about 5 ½ cups of it. I then added about ¼ cup parmesan cheese, the goat cheese, chives, and bacon.

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I thought the texture was great – it was creamy without being too heavy, and the bacon added an awesome crunch.