• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
  • Previously spoken….

    September 2020
    S M T W T F S
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    27282930  
  • Visually taken....

  • Ajax CommentLuv Enabled e1971467377035ccb2b36d25665416b9

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi
Aloo Gobi (home version)

Lunch
Aloo Gobi (work version)

At work, they served Aloo Gobi. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, so I decided to make it at home. I don’t think I’ve had it before, otherwise. I liked the home version better.

Now, since I hadn’t had it before in an Indian restaurant, I wasn’t sure what I thought it would be like. I did know I expected something spicier. Not necessarily hotter but spicier. You know? So, I turned to trusty ol’ recipezaar and sorted by rating and found this recipe: Aloo Gobi. It said it was from Bend It Like Beckham. I saw the movie so maybe that’s why the cafeteria version was off to me.

And then there were the tweaks/substitutions….

I didn’t have cumin seed, so I used ground cumin. I wasn’t sure of the ginger or garlic measurements, so I used 1″ of ginger and 5 cloves of garlic. I wasn’t sure of can size, so I used 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes that was on sale. I didn’t have chili powder — thought I did — so used ground red cayenne pepper. I wasn’t sure about the stem/leaf thing on the cilantro and got tired of ripping off the leaves so think I ended up using just 1/2 a bunch. Was tasty still. Also, didn’t use 1/4 cup oil. Used more like 1.5 T canola oil. The potatoes cooked up in 20 minutes because I chopped them bite-sized. I also cut the cauliflower bite sized and it kinda went fall-aparty at the end. Still good though. I didn’t wait as long as possible — ok, maybe I did. The length of time was as soon as the beeper went off that it was done. Very tasty! Spicy but not hot, until I dumped more cayenne in it.

I need a bigger saucepan. I need that in between larger than the saucepan size I have but smaller than the small stockpot. It was pretty full but cooked OK. Stirring was a challenge. I liked that it was one pot meal though! Lots of compost/stock waste generated too.

I was cooking for one so let it cool then put most of it in a large freezer bag. Laid it flat, got the extra air out, cooled more in the fridge — just to be sure — then put it in the freezer flat.

Inspired by Clara: Pasta with peas

Pasta with peas
Inspired by Clara’s Pasta with peas and her “Depression Era Cooking” videos, I reached into my 10 pound bag of potatoes and got to work. As I played with potatoes and onions, I thought back to what I remember growing up. What dish was my Grandma “famous” for? And what do I remember most from my mother’s cooking? After Mom grabbed her bowl, we talked about it.

Me: Know what I remember most about Grandma’s cooking? Delmonico steak with salt, pepper and garlic powder. (Grandma and I both are garlic fiends.)
Mom: That’s all?
Me: Yeah. Weird, huh? I know she could cook anything and remember all the family holiday gatherings where she would cook. But that was just ham and turkey and collards and whatnot.

We then talked about how amazing of a cook my Grandma was. But Mom said she didn’t think Grandma loved to cook. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember much? Near the end, Grandma and I would talk about cooking and it was mostly about sneaking ground turkey breast into Grandpa’s food or how versatile egg white omelets were. I’m going to try and get some clippings that my aunt got when we — well, you know… went through the stuff left behind. Most everyone was in Grandma’s head but maybe I can get an idea from what she clipped out and that will help.

Me: Mom, know what I think of when I think back to your cooking?
Mom: No, what? (I could hear the ‘uh oh’ in her voice.)
Me: Hamburger soup, tuna surprise*, succotash, hamburger helper, tuna helper, chicken helper — yeah, one pot meals.

* Tuna surprise is kind of like a tuna casserole cooked in a saucepan on the stove.

Now, back to Clara. I loved how she said she would ask what’s for dinner and get as an answer: “Pasta with garlic.” “Pasta with peas.” Etc. I had pasta, including a box that had a “use by” date of 2007 — oops, yes, that was tossed, sigh — and some potatoes. Like I said, I bought this 10 pound bag of potatoes cause I was crazy being frugal.

I wanted to get the consistency of a “hamburger helper” type meal because I want something that could hold its own on a plate with some sides. I got something more soupy, but I measured so maybe I can get closer next time.

Pasta with Peas ++
The ++ means I added more stuff… of course.

  • Olive oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cups frozen peas (keep frozen)
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled, diced
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Saute onions and potatoes in olive oil on medium heat till potatoes are softened. I think this took me about 15 minutes and I used a small stock pot. Add salt, pepper, water, peas. Bring to a boil. Add pasta. Boil for 10 minutes. Toss in parsley. Cook for 1 minute. This is where I added the carrots cause the pasta with peas was slightly soupy. Considering I ladled off about 1.5 cups, I’ll reduce the water amount next time. Maybe. The “stock” this all made was very good. I was heavy handed with the salt like Clara but Mom still added salt to her bowl. Ha.

Sauteed Carrots
I ended up dumping this into the Pasta with Peas at the end

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

I cooked the carrots in a skillet while I cooked the pasta with peas. The carrots kept browning too quickly on medium heat so I would ‘cool’ them off with a ladle of water from the pasta. I think it added a lovely flavor. I’m not a fan of carrots but these turned out nicely. I think they cooked for about 20 minutes sometimes covered and sometimes not. I tossed them into the pot of pasta right before serving and after the parsley. It added a nice color but since the carrots didn’t cook with the pasta, it had its own flavor but was somewhat familiarized with the ladles of water from the pasta.

Pasta with Peas (and carrots)
Nutrition Facts (via recipezaar)
Serving Size 1 (506g) Recipe makes 5 servings
Points 7
Calories 328
Calories from Fat 80 (24%)
Amount Per Serving %DV
Total Fat 9.0g 13%
Saturated Fat 1.3g 6%
Monounsaturated Fat 6.0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 42mg 1%
Potassium 640mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 54.6g 18%
Dietary Fiber 5.1g 20%
Sugars 5.0g
Protein 8.1g 16%

Some others that tried her recipe:

Cookbook Challenge: Chickpea Cutlets and Sauteed Collards

2009 Cookbook Challenge: Cook a new recipe at least once a month from one of my currently owned cookbooks. Each new recipe I cook and post from a cookbook in my collection “earns” me $5.

Recipe 1: Chickpea Cutlets and Recipe 2: Sautéed Collards from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook (Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero)

2009 Cookbook Challenge Total: $10

Chickpea Cutlet, Collards and Potatoes

Two recipes means $10 for the reward jar!

It’s amazing how many of my cookbooks I had to flip through to find some simple collard green recipes. I tweaked the collard recipe by adding 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the oil and garlic. I also cooked this in a small stock pot since the large skillet was going to be used for the cutlets. The potatoes are leftover pommes anna from Urban Vegan’s not-yet-published cookbook so doesn’t count for my resolution. Chickpea cutlets were good and I would make this again. The only tweak I did was to leave out the lemon zest.

Recipes can be found online, but I recommend buying the book or at least getting it on loan from your library. Chickpea Cutlets and Sautéed Collards.

I will be making more from this cookbook!

John’s Marinara Sauce

John's Marinara Sauce
John’s Marinara Sauce. Recipe test from Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook The Urban Vegan: 250 Street-Smart, Animal-Free Recipes (publish date: late 2009).

My favorite spaghetti sauce was Jo Mama’s World Famous Spaghetti Sauce. No longer! This vegan sauce was delicious, rich, aromatic, and hearty! I served this over some spaghetti noodles with a side salad with Dynise’s basil-flax dressing. She said we could put some nutritional yeast on top but I felt it needed nothing but an appetite.

We’re not supposed to give details but I think it should be alright to say there’s wine in it. That’s quite common. I’m not a drinker so wasn’t sure about what to get. I was also feeling adventurous so stopped at the new, locally run wine shop on the corner called “Wine for Cheese.” They were a pleasure to deal with! I said what I was doing — spaghetti — and he went through the different reds he had. He definitely had a passion and knowledge of wine! I later learned that my mother stopped by the same place a few days ago to get a wine from Georgia (Russia). The gift receiver was very impressed!

Red wine
Agur Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Mushroom Stroganoff

I bought some cremini for a test recipe but missed my testing window. I still had those cremini so looked for something to make with them. Found a neat stroganoff that used a lot of what I already had on hand.

Mushroom Stroganoff

Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff (allrecipes)

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3/4 pound portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 ounces dried egg noodles

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles, and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

At the same time, melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring until softened. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and add sliced mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are limp and browned. Remove to a bowl, and set aside.

In the same skillet, stir in vegetable broth, being sure to stir in any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, and cook until the mixture has reduced by 1/3. Reduce heat to low, and return the mushrooms and onion to the skillet.

Remove the pan from the heat, stir together the sour cream and flour; then blend into the mushrooms. Return the skillet to the burner, and continue cooking over low heat, just until the sauce thickens. Stir in the parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over cooked egg noodles.

Dinner: Taco Soup

Ah, the well-loved Taco Soup. When I put the abundance of sweet potato burritos in the freezer, I saw a flattened freezer bag of taco soup. I’m new to freezing, as I’ve mentioned, but it looked ok. I had flattened it to get as much of the air out as possible and also to make it easier to defrost. It’s also easier to store flat. I took it out last night and let it thaw out overnight in the fridge.

Got home. Plopped half the bag in a bowl. Nuked for 3 minutes. Sprinkled some cheese that was leftover from the above mentioned burritos and tested it cautiously. Wow. Not bad! Tastes like I just made it! There was no freezer burn taste. The beans weren’t nasty. The sauce was good. Wow. There just might be something to this freezing thing. 😉

Taco Soup

Recipe: Taco Soup

Flatout amazing! My first time making a flatout wrap

Turkey, tomato, spinach, cheese wrap

Two thumbs up!

I wanted to buy a low-cal, low-fat wrap for sandwiches (yes, thinking about my laptop lunch makings) and found among the wraps a weird looking oblong wrap. Brand name is Flatout and after looking at the nutritional values of those available, I got the Honey Whole Wheat one. It’s a lot of good bread for just 1 point. Odd though, I can’t find it on the Flatout website. This is the closest to the nutritional value that I found: Multi-grain Flatout.

The texture is great. It’s not scratchy or heavy wheat. It didn’t fall apart like the one tortilla ‘sandwich’ that I made did.

I looked on the website to try and figure out how I was supposed to use it. I found a few recipes but no play-by-play. So, I went with the generic “put the stuff on round end of the bread and then roll tightly.” I smooshed the cheese on the bottom using a wet tablespoon. It made the spreading of the cheese much easier. I then put on spinach, some thinly sliced turkey breast, and some slices of tomatoes. I rolled up from the filled end as tightly as I could but couldn’t do too tightly because of the tomatoes.

It held together very well considering I take my sandwiches so dry — no mayo, etc. I sliced it in half and it still held up well.

Fantastic product! I can’t wait to try some other ideas with it. Interestingly enough, after I bought it, I saw a fellow blogger post her fajita photo made with Flatout bread. So weird to go from never knowing about a product to buying it and seeing it in use shortly after!

Grilled salmon, smashed taters, and popeye weed

I got a big frozen salmon from the store. It had the skin on even. I have not grilled salmon before so gave it a whirl.

Salmon

And served it with some mashed potatoes and spinach. I didn’t want the spinach juice contaminating the salmon, so made a protective barrier.

Dinner

This was the first grilling of the season so I had to clean up the grill. I think this is maybe the fifth time I’ve used the grill in two years. After the fish was thawed, I put it on a pre-heated medium grill. Stuff I read said to grease the grill but I had no idea how to do that with a hot grill so used a soaked paper towel. I put it skin side down and cooked it with the grill top open for about 10 minutes. I sprayed the meat side with some spray, sprinkled salt and pepper, and flipped it. The skin made it very easy to flip and keep together. Cooked it for another 10 minutes.

It was cooked well. I like mine closer to medium. Not bad though. Next time, I’ll cook it for less time or maybe move it to the top shelf with the lid closed.

Somebody saaaaave me (oh and a couple of dinners)

I think I mentioned my crazy course load this semester. Well, I knew it would be time consuming so planned for it. This means very little time for anything else, unfortunately. That means I missed hitting some local markets, planning meals based on sales and sleep. Ok, I did sleep a little.
Taco soup
Dinner: Taco Soup

  • I love this recipe. I’ve been doing it for a few years now with some experimentation with ingredients here and there. All this is cooked for about as long as I want to wait. I guess it takes about 20 minutes to heat everything over medium.
    • 1ish pound of meat (or not). If ground something, it’s browned with the onion and garlic. If it’s leftover something, then I brown the onion first so that I don’t overcook the leftover something. If I’m vegetarian, then I up the bean count by one can.
    • Garlic and onion. I prefer chopped red onion. I add about 2-4 teaspoons of minced garlic. If I’m cooking without meat, then I brown them together in some heated olive oil.
    • 1-2 cans (rinsed and drained) pinto/black/kidney beans. My favorite combination is two beans. I like the difference in look. I believe this time I had one can of pinto and another of kidney.
    • corn for color. I guess I put in about 1-2 cups. If frozen, then I just have to keep that in mind when cooking. Just cook it a little longer. If canned, drained.
    • Rotel diced tomatoes with chile. Usually run about 2 cans of this. I add it with all its juice. It can get a little spicy but I like spicy. I’ve tried with other diced tomatoes with chile and keep coming back to Rotel.
    • Taco seasoning. I use a packet of low-sodium. I used to have my own taco seasoning mix mixed up but need to get a new jar of it going.
    • Ranch seasoning packet. I only use half of a packet because it’s so salty and stuff. I don’t think it needs a full packet and can save the rest for the next soup.

    With this, I had some homemade tortilla chips. I quartered some corn tortillas and placed them on a baking sheet. I sprayed them with Pam and put them in a 350 oven for about 13 minutes. They got too brown though so maybe 350 for 9 minutes?

Sticky chicken
Dinner: “Sticky” dump chicken, rice and squash

  • Sticky dump chicken: I love the idea of dump chicken but this combination was not good to me. Way too gloppy and the smell as it was cooking was unpleasant. I love peanut butter but this wasn’t what I thought it would be.
  • Brown rice: I used instant brown rice in the bag. I thought I’d have sauce from the dump chicken but didn’t 😦 So I added pepper to it and a pat of butter to moisten it.
  • Squash and onion sauté: Again with the random makeups. I had a half bag of frozen squash in the freezer and wanted it. Over medium, I heated extra-virgin olive oil, added leftover chopped up red onion (probably about half an onion), and stirred it around till the onion started to soften. I then added the frozen squash and covered it for about 10 minutes or more. I took the lid off and added pepper and a little salt. With the lid off, the squash lost a little of the squishy look but not too much.
  • Note: Obviously, the chicken isn’t happening again. But overall, the look was bleh. I was hoping for more punch. Ah well.

DSCN2600 I can really tell when I have natural light in the photos. I held the bowl of soup up against my dining room window to shoot. The plate of squash and chicken was photographed on my dining table without outside light. I’ve included a shot of the squash cooking (at right) where there’s some window light coming in.

Chinese Roasted Chicken, Eggplant with Raw Garlic, Easy Garlic Rice

Local Honey Nom! The muttermutter card reader crapped out again in the middle of import. It then wouldn’t work for the rest of the evening. Muttermutter. I’m buying a new one this weekend, hopefully. Apologies for no photo of the meal but enjoy an older photo of local honey instead!

Overall, the meal looked ok. The chicken was a brownish with some darker bits of caramelization. This was one of the .49/lb whole chickens that I cut up. Also on the plate were two other new recipes. The parsley rice was beautiful in white and green flecks and tasted good. Eggplant was not colored like I thought it would be and ended up darker than I hoped even with the parsley sprinkled on top. The plate needed something more colorful. Basically, the plate was brown-ish, brown with green and white bits, and white with green bits. Ah well 🙂

Another note for future self: don’t try to save the garlic. I wanted to use up the sprouting garlic so opened up all the cloves and took out the sprouts. I don’t think I got all of them though because the garlic was bitter. Each of these dishes were new to me but I’m pretty sure it was the garlic that put one “off.”

Dinner: May 20, 2008

  • Chinese Roasted Chicken
    Nom nom! I have a few honey/soy sauce combo chicken recipes in my notebook. I liked this one too. I doubt I could actually taste the five spice since I think that jar had been in my pantry for a few years and the apartment for a few years before that. I’ll have to try this again with a fresh jar! Fantastic dish. I didn’t marinade for 2 hours because that would have put dinner even later than I ended up eating (8:30p.m.) so I cut the soaking time to about 1 hour. Longer would be better, I think. Maybe do it overnight to be quicker? Hmm. The sauce was great. Chicken took longer to cook than written which was frustrating. Maybe I’ll try it at 350 next time for the same time.
  • Eggplant with Raw Garlic
    Here’s the puppy that really shouted “Bad garlic! Bad!” I love garlic but it was hard. I had a lot of eggplant so poured the sauce on half the dish and left the other half sauce free in case I didn’t like it. Good thing too. I didn’t like parsley on eggplant either. I want to try fixing eggplant again though but won’t do this sauce.
  • Easy Garlic Rice
    Another nom nom! I used the last of some plain white rice and eyed longingly the Jasmine bag. I want to try it with Jasmine next time. Or maybe I’ll go for the Basmati brown. Brown rice: mo’ betta for ya. The color combo was pretty with the white and green contrast. I got tired of finely chopping onion and garlic though. I ended up just walking the knife around and around and around…. No, I don’t do the fancy food processor stuff. Usually not a big deal. Like the parsley? I just put some in a measuring cup and used kitchen shears to snip inside of it.

Not a bad meal considering I gathered up the recipes right before starting it. I have a homemade bag of romaine in the fridge that needs to get in my bellah! Grocery store circular came out today. The .49/lb chicken deal is over but I got two rainchecks. I also want to try making some more fresh fish. Sounds like I should be planning out my meals again, eh? Yes. I know. Planning makes things so much easier!