Roasted Butternut Squash and Udon Noodles

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Alphabakes has reached the end of the alphabet. This makes me sad. This has been a fun activity to participate in. *Hint Hint* People should suggest other round-ups like Alphabakes to me! I participate frequently in We Should Cocoa, Random Recipes, and some others as well. What other ones should I do?

I obviously have not been updating frequently. I’ve been cooking, but nothing exciting. Work has been overwhelming me. And on top of work (which really just means my volunteer attorney position that involves a $0 paycheck,) I’ve been applying for jobs and trying to find an office that will actually pay me. I’ve been feeling bitter and have been having a hard time emotionally with this, which is making my updating pretty abysmal. But I did decide to participate in the last Alphabakes – this month’s letter is U.

This was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. The squash, the garlic, the noodles – this was such a good dish. The longest part of the whole thing is waiting for the squash to roast. Once roasted though, it comes together easily.

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Udon Noodles
(inspiration)

Ingredients
3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
9 oz udon noodles
3 cloves garlic
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
1/4 cup parsley
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame seeds

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss together the squash and olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, until tender.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the udon noodles and cook to the package specifications. Drain and set aside.

3. In a food process, add the garlic and ginger. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the parsley and pulse until the parsley is finely chopped. Add the soy sauce, lime juice, honey, and sesame seeds. Pulse some more.

4. Toss the squash, udon, and sauce together.

* serves 2
* besides Alphabakes, this recipe is being shared with Weekend Cooking

Stir-Fried Beef with Mint

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This month for Cooking with Herbs, I opted to make a stir-fry. For February we were challenged to make something either romantic (for Valentine’s Day) or Chinese for Chinese New Year. I decided to make a stir-fry to celebrate the Lunar New Year. I grew up in San Francisco and went to a predominantly Chinese school. I loved Chinese New Year, for the red envelopes filled with money. I really could use one of those now . . . Filled with lots of money!

Anyway, this stir-fry features beef, mint, garlic, and onion. I love stir-fry for their simplicity and quickness. A meal ready in under 20 minutes is always nice.

Stir-Fried Beef with Mint

Ingredients
1 lb skirt steak, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp crushed red chili peppers
1/4 cup garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped

Directions

1. Put the red chili, garlic, and onion together in a cup. Mush together to make something resembling a paste.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok. Once hot, add the onion mixture. Cook the mixture until it turns golden brown.

3. Add the beef. Cook the beef until it’s no longer pink.

4. Add the fish sauce, sugar, water, and mint. Cook for several minutes, stirring consistently, until the liquid becomes thick.

5. Serve over rice.

* serves 4
* besides Cooking with Herbs, this recipe is being shared with #FoodieFriday Foodie Friday, & Tasty Tuesdays

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

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This month, Random Recipes and We Should Cocoa banded together to create a wonderful challenge. Randomly pick a cookbook and randomly pick a recipe from said cookbook that uses . . . you guessed it! CHOCOLATE!

Somehow, despite being random, I keep picking my favorite cookbook off the shelf. Either I just need more cookbooks to be randomly selected or there’s some sort of magnetism that keeps this book coming back to me. Welcome again my favorite cookbook, Cook Yourself Thin. In the past, for Random Recipes I’ve made the Mediterranean Chicken and Better For You Breakfast Sandwich.

Anyway, once I was holding this cookbook, I counted the number of recipes in it that used chocolate. I then put into the random number generator and was directed to this chocolate cake. I was pretty happy when I saw what recipe the generator had chosen for me, since my boyfriend’s birthday is in February (today actually) and he had asked for a chocolate cake.

This cake was sort of dry, but he raved over and over that he hates moist cakes and was so happy because he likes dry cakes and no one ever makes dry cakes. While I personally like moist cakes a hell of a lot, the lack of butter does take away a lot of the moist in a cake. Additionally, he likes it when I accidentally overcook things, so a dry cake really was the way to go for him. All in all, it was a success. The beets were such a strange addition, but in the end, you don’t even taste them.

This was a great random recipe. The universe was aligned when I randomly chose this recipe!

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And with that, I’d also like to wish my love a very happy 31st birthday!

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Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE
1 1/2 cups flour
3 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 + 1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely ground cashews
5 tbsp cocoa powder
4 oz beets, peeled and finely grated
4 oz buttermilk
2 tbsp brewed black coffee
3 eggs
3/4 cups sugar

FOR THE ICING
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp brewed black coffee
2 tbsp honey

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray an 8″ springform baking pan with cooking spray.

3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, ground cashews, salt, and baking soda together. Set aside.

4. In a mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for 4 minutes using medium speed, until pale and fluffy. On low speed, beat in the beets followed by the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and coffee and beat until the batter is smooth.

5. Pour the batter into the springform pan. Place in the middle of a hot oven and bake for 30 minutes. Your cake is done with a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

6. Cool for 10 minutes then unmold and set on a cooling rack. Cool until the cake is cold.

7. To make the icing, prepare a double broiler. Combine all the icing ingredients and stir gently, until the chocolate is smooth. Stir until the chocolate mixture thickens.

9. Pour the icing over the top of the cake and allow it to drip down the sides.

* I’m also sharing this recipe with Mix It Up Monday

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

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This month’s Random Recipes challenged us to randomly pick a cookbook we received for Christmas. For the past two years I’ve been very lucky and have received cookbooks for Christmas. They are my favorite things ever. This year I received two. One book was filled with cupcakes. The other book is called Recipes Across America. Funny enough, though I made cupcakes this time, were not from the cupcake book but the other one instead. The book is filled with recipes from across this big country from Kentucky Grilled Chicken, Cheese Soup from Wisconsin, and Northwest Salmon Salad.

I opened the book hoping to get a savory recipe, but I was greeted by two different cake recipes: Devil’s Food Cake and Southern Lane Cake. Though the Southern Lane Cake intrigued me greatly (it’s essentially a glorified fruitcake,) I decided to stick with my favorite and do the chocolate.

This recipe appears in the “South sweets” section of the book. The recipe comes from Donna Carman in Tulsa, OK who shared that this recipe won the blue ribbon at several state fairs.

Though the recipe was for a cake, I decided to make cupcakes so I could more easily bring them to work. I’m not sure what I think about that option anymore, because the devil’s food made sort of weird cupcakes. It tasted good still, but they sort of drooped in the middle and shrunk.

Then when it got to the frosting, I realized I had a huge dilemma. The frosting recipe called for almost 4 cups of powdered sugar. I only had 1/4 cup!!!!!!!! (Which by the way, I need to buy more obviously.) So I found this recipe online for a frosting that didn’t used powdered sugar. It’s really more of a glaze and it hardened on top of the cupcakes.

They were super sweet, but pretty good and fluffy.

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Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Ingredients
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 cup sour cream

Directions

1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and chocolate.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture, alternately with the water and sour cream. Transfer to prepared cupcake tins.

3. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool.

For the Frosting

Ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. In a pot mix together the sugar, cocoa powder, butter, and milk. Bring to a boil for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Cool partially and then beat with a mixer for three minutes.

2. When your cupcakes are cool, spread this glaze on top of them.

* makes about 2 dozen cupcakes

Chicken, Bacon, Artichoke Pasta with Creamy Garlic Sauce

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This month’s Pasta Please theme is GARLIC hosted over at The Spicy Pear. I love garlic. When a recipe calls for garlic, I most always double the amount of it I actually use in my dish because I love it. It helps that Matt loves it too, because that would make me sad.

To make a garlic pasta dish? YES PLEASE! I feel like garlic gives any dish (or okay, most dishes) a nice element. Please don’t put it in my chocolate cake though.

Anyway – I’ve been busy lately and haven’t been cooking too much due to interviews and work. This dish was easy to make after a Friday at work and tasted delicious. The sun-dried tomatoes definitely helped with that too.

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Chicken, Bacon, Artichoke Pasta with Creamy Garlic Sauce
(source)

Ingredients
12 oz noodles in any shape you want
6 slices bacon
1 lb chicken breasts, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp garlic powder

Directions

1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta. Once al dente, drain and set aside.

2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet. Once crispy remove to a plate covered in paper towels. Add the chicken to the bacon grease and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink. Saute artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes with the chicken for 4 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add garlic and then saute for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the flour on top and cook for 1 minute, whisking until smooth.  Slowly poor in the milk and chicken broth, whisking to avoid lumps. Season with salt and pepper and stir, cooking for 10 minutes, allowing the sauce to become bubbly and thick. Add the garlic powder and stir.

4. Cut the bacon into small pieces. Combine the pasta, bacon, chicken mixture, and sauce. Toss to combine.

* serves 6
* besides Pasta Please, this recipe is being shared with  Weekend Cooking

Turkey Sandwich with Roasted Tomatoes

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This month’s Food ‘n Flix film is The Breakfast Club, hosted by Debra at Eliot’s Eats. This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen this movie, so I was surprised to see this as the movie for the month. I mean, it’s not what I would consider a foodie movie. So I rewatched The Breakfast Club with an eye for food this time. Rather than just seeing a bunch of high school students in detention, I looked for food. And while not entirely dominating the movie, food I saw.

breakfast-clubThough not quite as . . . creative as this lunch sandwich (eaten by Allison,) my sandwich would have been welcomed by me to have for a high school lunch. Though I did consider making Allison’s cereal filled sandwich, I didn’t know if I could actually bring myself to eat it. When I was in high school my mom made me lunch almost everyday, but she rarely made me sandwiches. This was due to my own demanding nature. For some reason I just . . . I preferred rice a roni I guess. And I was spoiled.

But anyway, this movie did bring me back some. I remember the one occasion I had detention in high school. It was because my shirt was too short when I raised my hand in class. All it taught me was not to volunteer in class, because the hour I had to sit in detention just pissed me off. Saturday detention sounds absolutely horrible though. And incredibly unproductive. You think they’d at least let them do their homework.

So, the recipe I’m sharing with Food ‘n Flix this month is a sandwich. This sandwich hopefully could full any high school student through Saturday detention. It’s simple enough but has a kick that makes it special!

Turkey Sandwich with Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients
2 slices of bread
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp paprika
2 slices tomato
1/2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of dried basil
3 slices deli turkey
1/2 slice Swiss cheese
a tiny handful of arugula

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the tomato slices on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil. Roast for 25 minutes.

2. Toast the bread. While the bread is toasting and the tomatoes roasting, mix together the mayonnaise and paprika.

3. Put your sandwich together! Spread the paprika-mayonnaise on the bread. Place the turkey, roasted tomatoes, Swiss cheese, and arugula on the sandwich.

* makes 1 sandwich
* Besides Food ‘n Flix, I’m sharing this sandwich with Souper Sundays & See Ya In The Gumbo

 

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Yesterday I posted about restraint and how I love to indulge, but how I need to not indulge in unhealthy things. And then today I made bacon chocolate chip cookies and ate six of them. *sigh*

Cookies are my downfall. My weakness. My kryptonite. Chocolate chip cookies make it even worse.

But I ignored my better thinking and made these bacon chocolate chip cookies for this month’s We Should Cocoa. This month’s theme is New Year, New Ingredient and is hosted at Lancashire Food. Basically, this month’s chocolate recipe was to pick an ingredient to pair with chocolate that we’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t yet.

The chocolate-bacon craze has intrigued me. About a year ago (I think) I had chocolate bacon gelato. It was delicious. But I’ve been hesitant for whatever reason of actually including bacon with my chocolate. I shouldn’t have been, but perhaps I should have made only 1/2 a batch of cookies so I wouldn’t have devoured so many.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
(source)

Ingredients
8 strips bacon
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

1. In a skillet fry up the bacon. Once it’s cooked crisp, place it on a plate covered in paper towels to let drain. Once the bacon has cooled cut it into small pieces. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter and sugars. Beat until creamed together. Then add the egg and vanilla and beat together.

3. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and flour to the mixing bowl. Mix together well.

4. Add the chocolate chips and bacon. Using a big spoon, mix the bacon and chocolate into the dough.

5. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place 1 tbsp sized balls of the cookie dough. Leave enough room between the cookies so they can expand a little bit.

6. Bake at 350 for 11 minutes.

* makes about 2 dozen cookies
* besides We Should Cocoa, I’m sharing these cookies with Weekend Cooking

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Rosemary-Lemon No-Knead Bread with Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip

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2014 has started on a busy foot. I’ve been applying to jobs and working for free. If you’re thinking about going to law school, this is something to consider. Do it because you love it. Not because you think you’re going to get rich quick. I mean, maybe you will. But you probably won’t. It’s good that wasn’t ever my plan.

I’ve been counting my calories again, because I let myself go this last year and gained far too much weight. I’ve been indulging too much and not exercising at all. So 2014 that will change. It’s not a new year’s resolution. It’s just a new life resolution.

I like to indulge though, that’s the problem. One of my favorite things to indulge in is spinach dip. I am obsessed with the spinach dip that Safeway sells. In fact, just typing that makes me start salivating. It’s that good. I decided yesterday to make a homemade, way lower calorie spinach dip. It’s definitely different than what I get at the store, much less creamy, but delicious in its own right.

This dip is my entry to this month’s AlphaBakes challenge. The letter for January 2014 is Y. This dip is made with yogurt, cheese, spinach, and artichokes. The yogurt definitely makes it meet this challenge requirement!

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Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip
(source)

Ingredients
6 oz jar artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
5 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
4 oz plain yogurt
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 green onions, minced
1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

1. Combine all the ingredients together in a baking dish. Mix together well. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Voila!

Anyway, you can’t have spinach dip without having some delicious bread to dip in it. So I decided to participate in Cooking with Herbs and create a lemon-rosemary loaf. Karen asked for some citrus to be included with our herb cooking. The combination of lemon and rosemary was divine!

I followed a recipe from Williams-Sonoma. Additionally, a post at Serious Eats also really helped me with this loaf. The science behind this no-knead bread is fascinating. You let the dough sit for 12-18 hours and let the yeast do its business on kneading on its own. While this bread isn’t something you can whip up in a few hours, the amount of work to create a beautiful loaf of bread is minor.

I followed the Williams-Sonoma recipe, but I put the uncooked dough in the fridge for three days as per Serious Eats. I also determined when the loaf as done based on the temperature of the inside of the bread, which I also learned from Serious Eats.

This may have to be my go-to recipe. It’d be so easy to manipulate into many wonderful tasting breads.

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If I can lose weight and eat bread and spinach dip, I think this will be a good year/life.

IMG_9322* Besides AlphaBakes and Cooking with Herbs, this delicious duo is also being shared with #FoodieFriday & Foodie Friday