Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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15 New Food Items That I Made This Year

As previously mentioned, I’ve already completed my goal to Make 15 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before  in 2015 – in fact, I’ve actually surpassed my goal by making *16* new items. I got myself a nice head start by having a birthday party where I made 6 new items that I’d never tried before. Then I racked up a few more items by having made a batch of home-brewed beer that ended up suboptimally carbonated, but since I didn’t want it to go to waste, I looked up recipes that involved beer – those, plus making dog biscuits from the spent grains of another batch of beer totalled another 5 items, which meant I only needed to make 4 other things to hit my goal of 15!

So, for the record, the new things I made so far this year that I’d never made before were:

15 Food Items Made Date Comments
1 Chocolate buttercream frosting (for Daniel’s birthday cake) 1-Jan-2015 I got a lot of compliments on this!
2 sweet and spicy pecans and cashews 12-Jan-2015 Very tasty!
3 caramelized onion, mushroom, apple and Gruyère puff pastry bites 12-Jan-2015 These were a HUGE hit!
4 cucumbers with salmon whip and dill whip 12-Jan-2015 No one seemed all that into these
5 slow cooker gingered chickpea and tomato stew 12-Jan-2015 Pretty good!
6 cheese puffs 12-Jan-2015 Got this recipe from my niece. They were amazing!
7 homemade sour mix 12-Jan-2015 Needed this for a drink I wanted to make, but couldn’t find it in any store
8 Swiss cheese beer bread 4-Feb-2015 Really easy and super tasty!
9 potato, cheddar & beer soup 4-Feb-2015 This was OK (though I’m not a huge soup fan, so YMMV)
10 beer marinated pork chops 4-Feb-2015 Pretty good!
11 brown ale potato galette 12-Mar-2015 Pretty good!
12 black bean & mushroom tortilla casserole 12-Mar-2015 I quite liked this
13 spent grain dog biscuits 28-Mar-2015 made these from spent grains from home brewing. My brewing buddy’s dog loved them!
14 rice pilaf 29-Mar-2015 I didn’t really like this.
15 BBQ short ribs 14-Jun-2015 These were amazing!
16 grilled potato skins 4-Jul-2015 I’d make these again!

I’ll continue to keep track of any other new things I make for the second half of 2015 and see how high a number I can hit!

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Making Dinner With A Little Vitamin Beer

A friend of mine and I have taken up home brewing, because science. It’s a long story that I’ll blog about later, but suffice it to say that we recently finished our first batch and it was, shall we say, suboptimally carbonated. Tasted quite good for a first batch, if I do say so myself, but one can only drink so much undercarbonated beer, so I came up with the idea that I should look up some recipes for things you can make with beer, because beer. And I came up with the following, all of which tasted pretty darned good, if I do say so myself!

Swiss Cheese Beer Bread:

Swiss Cheese Beer Bread

This was really quick to make and really tasty, if you are in the mood for a dense bread. I had read the comments on the recipe before I made this and noted that someone had commented that it didn’t take nearly as long as to bake as the 50-60 minutes stated in the recipe, so I made sure to check on it early and it ended up only taking about 35 minutes to bake!

Savory Beer Pork Chops:

Savory Beer Pork Chops

These pork chops were also pretty delicious. As well, when I put the brown sugar into the beer to make the marinade, the beer foamed up and looked like real beer!

Homebrewed Beer

Potato Beer Cheese Soup:

Potato Beer Cheese Soup

This was a pretty good soup – and I generally don’t even like soup!

And so I was 3 for 3 on delicious tasting recipes. Can’t say that this was the healthiest meal I’ve ever eaten – pro tip: when you meal is all beige, something is drastically wrong in the nutrition department.

In addition to finding a way to not waste beer1 and making a delcious dinner, I also managed to bring the number of new food items I’ve made this year to 10 and so I’ve officially completed 67% of my goal to make 15 new food items in 2015 and it’s only February!

  1. Which I’m relatively certain is at least a misdemeanour, if not a full out crime. []

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New Foods I Made in 2014

Another item from my goals for 2014 list that I figured deserved its own posting was make 14 new food items that I’ve never made before1. And this goal I not only achieved, but I actually surpassed!

This year, I made:

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Salad rolls that I made with my friend Kim

Homemade Spinach Pasta

Homemade pasta that I made with my friend Linda. Topped with pesto and feta!

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BBQ chicken, corn-on-the-cob, roasted potatoes, and grilled zucchini

I also made guacamole devilled eggs a couple of times this year and I think the first time I made them was in 2014, but I’m not 100% sure I didn’t make them the previous year, so I’m not going to count them just in case. As well, I made *5* new drinks that I’d never made before – The Suffering Bastard, The Leveraged Synergy, and the Value Added Leveraged Synergy (all at my “I’m finished my MBA” party!) and the Mortgage Margarita and strawberry lemonade (for my housewarming party) – but I’m not counting those since the goal stated “food items”, but not beverages. But I don’t need to since, as you can see from the list, I actually made *19* food items this year! Hopefully I won’t regret using up extra new ideas this year when it comes time to try to come up with 15 new food and/or drink items to make in 2015!

  1. I see now that I look at the goals that I said that all the items “must be blogged about”. And while I didn’t blog about them all at the time I did them, I did keep track and now I’m blogging about them, so that totally counts! []
  2. This one has a back story. I was having a bunch of friends over for dinner and decided that I would try my hand at Baked Alaska. When I told Kalev, he got upset, saying “What are the vegetarians supposed to eat??” And I was confused and said, “What’s not vegetarian about ice cream and meringue?” It turned out, he was thinking of Beef Wellington, not Baked Alaska! So another time when he was coming over for dinner, I decided to make a vegetarian version of Beef Wellington, which turned out to be quite delicious! []
  3. I’ve made lasagna before, but not with tofu in place of ricotta cheese. It actually was quite tasty! []
  4. I wasn’t too big a fan of these myself. []
  5. I had a bunch of limes leftover from margarita making, so I tried this recipe, but it turned out that I much prefer the honey mustard dressing that I first tried making earlier and which is now my staple. []

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Kale – It’s Not Just For Wearing Anymore

Now, we all know that kale makes an excellent fashion accessory. But did you know that you can EAT kale?  True story!

My favourite way to eat kale is toasted into crispy deliciousness.  The recipe I use is here, but it can be summarized into five easy steps.

Step 1: Wash the kale and rip it up into little pieces (getting rid of the inner ribs):

Day 249

Me and a bowl of kale

 

Step 2: Coat with a bit of olive oil (essentially, you want to massage the kale with the oil to soften it up a bit).

Step 3: Sprinkle with a bit of red wine vinegar1.

Step 4: Spread on a cookie sheet and cook at 300 degrees F for ~35 minutes, until the kale is crispy.

Kale Chips

Step 5: Sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy your kale chips!

Kale Chips

They are tastier than they look in this photo!

  1. you can experiment with other vinegars too. The recipe called with sherry vinegar, which I don’t have, so I usually use red wine vinegar. But it’s good with balsamic vinegar too []

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Spooky Hallowe’en Eyeballs!

Every year, my office does a Hallowe’en potluck. Eager to redeem myself after last year’s deformed ghosts, I decided to make these Spooky Halloween Eyeballs1. So eager, in fact, that I didn’t really connect that the Oct 27th on which the office potluck is being held is the same Oct 27th on which I’ll be at a management conference – and thus not in the office – all day. Since I’d already bought the white chocolate, I decided to make the eyeballs anyway, and brought them in to work today instead of tomorrow.

The recipe takes a bit of time, but it’s relatively easy. You make balls of peanut butter and icing sugar (requires a bunch of chilling to make sure they are solid), then dip them in white chocolate:

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While the white chocolate is setting, you mix a little bit of blue food colouring  ((of course, you could make green eyes or brown eyes if you wanted to)) into the remaining white chocolate, so that you can paint on the irises – while an upside down chocolate chip is used to make the pupil:

Day 126

And finally, to make them “spooky” eyeballs instead of just plain old eyeballs, you draw on some blood vessels using a toothpick and red food colouring to make the eyeballs bloodshot:

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This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  1. Props to Nancy for bringing this recipe to my attention. Warning to Dr. Dan: There is a spider in the picture of the eyeballs on that site. I’d tell you not to click the link, but then I know you’d click the link. So just consider yourself warned []

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Sin-Amen Buns

I have long wanted to try making cinnamon buns, but to be honest, I’ve been kind of scared that they’d be a disaster. I don’t know why – usually I’m confident in my cooking and baking – but cinnamon buns seemed like too big a mountain to climb.  However, after trying – and succeeding at – baking bread, I decided to give cinnamon buns a whirl.

The recipe I used was this one for “Ooey-Gooey Cinnamon Buns” – with a few adjustments: I halved the recipe, skipped the pecans1 and topped them off with the most delicious cream cheese icing2. After trying one of these beauties hot out of the oven, I declared them the best thing I’d ever eaten in all my 33+ years of eating.  Dr. Dan decided that they should be rechristened as “Sin-Amen Buns,” which, really, is the only possible name for a such a delicacy.

The basic procedure3 went like this:

1. Make a sweet dough and let it rise:

Dough for cinnamon buns before risingDough for cinnamon buns after rising

2. Make the ooey-gooey glaze (brown sugar, cinnamon & melted butter) and put it in the baking dish:

Caramel glaze for cinnamon buns

3. Roll out the dough in a rectangle, paint it with melted butter (leaving about 1/2 inch of unbuttered dough around the edges):

Painting melted butter onto cinnamon bun dough

4. Sprinkle a mix of brown sugar and cinnamon on the buttered dough (I used about twice as much cinnamon as the recipe called for):

Brown sugar & cinnamon sprinkled on top of melted butter

5. Roll it up!

Cinammon buns - all rolled up

6. If you follow the recipe and cut the rolls with a knife, you could end up with squished rolls. Instead, use a piece of dental floss – just slide it under the roll, cross it at the top (as shown in the photo), and pull both ends quickly in opposite directions. This cuts the rolls perfectly!

Cutting the perfect cinnamon buns

7. Put the rolls into the ooey-gooey glaze in the baking pan, paint with melted butter and then let rise again:


Cinnamon buns - pre-bakingPainted melted butter onto the cinnamon buns Cinnamon buns after rising

8. Bake:

Baking cinnamon buns

9. Check out how delicious these look:

Baked cinnamon buns

10. Let the buns cool in the pan for a few minutes, then flip them over into another pan or onto a tray for serving, so that the ooey gooey glaze is on top:

Cinnamon buns are flipped to reveal their glazy goodness

11. Frost with the delicious cream cheese icing.  I totally forgot to take a photo of a frosted bun because they smelled so good I just had to dive right in! And then I think I was in a sugar coma after that.

Seriously, I could not believe how amazing these tasted.  They were good the next day heated up, but that was nothing compared to fresh out of the oven4. OMG, so freaking good.

  1. pecans are for suckers []
  2. cinnamon buns without cream cheese icing – also for suckers []
  3. see the aforementioned recipe for specifics []
  4. Sorry, Kalev, that you only got a heated up one. But since we were leaving for Seattle the next morning at 10 a.m., I would have had to get up at around 5 a.m. to make these fresh. And you know how I feel about getting up early in the morning on my vacation! []

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Stuff To Bake

As I mentioned a little while ago, I’m on a quest to bake new things.  There was one suggestion of a good place to get some bread recipes, which is cool because I’ve not done much in the way of baking breads.  Since I need to come up with at least 12 different things to bake over the next year, I figured I’d do a little brain storm of things I’ve never – or rarely – baked before, but would like to try.

  • bread
  • cinnamon buns
  • Baked Alaska1
  • lemon cake
  • angel food cake
  • vegetarian marshmallows2

Any other suggestions?

  1. come on, how fun would that be, eh? []
  2. which will kill two 101-list birds with one delicious stone []