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

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

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

 

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

Christmas Dinner 2013

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Though my 12 days of cookies may have fallen into oblivion (though I do have some cookies to share in the next few days that I did end up making,) December always for me is a month of cooking. I made cookies for Matt’s family for Christmas, I made my doggy chicken jerky, and I made my dad homemade barbecue sauce in two different flavors.

What always becomes a cooking marathon though, is Christmas Day. Some families go BIG and invite everyone they know for Christmas. My family is the opposite. My parents moved to California from Ohio in the ’80s and because none of our extended family is around, we tend to keep it small. We go for fancy meals instead of meals that serve a lot of people. Christmas is always a time that my mom and I spend the whole day in the kitchen, making sure we make our meal perfect.

This was another year of perfection.

Rather than share the recipes, I’m linking you to the recipes we followed.

2013 Christmas Menu in Pictures

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The star of the show was a beautiful Beef Wellington. My mom’s made Beef Wellington in the past, but we followed a new recipe this year. It was my first time ever making one. This dish took all day, but it was worth every second it took making it. The beef tenderloin was so juicy and tender, having cooked with the pate, mushrooms, and proscuitto wrapped tightly around it. Though my taste buds would have enjoyed eating all 3-lbs of the tenderloin, this is so rich that one slice was all the rest of my body could handle.

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As a side dish we had Mushroom & Leek Bread Pudding from the cookbook that can do no wrong. I gave my mom Barefoot Contessa Foolproof last year for Christmas. She cooks out of the cookbook a lot and has told me everything in it is divine and flavorful and yet, easy to make. We decided to make this bread pudding and it hit the mark.

We also made Roasted Brussels Sprouts, but I did not take a picture of those. We seasoned them with salt and pepper and tossed them in some olive oil and roasted them. Though simple, this decadent meal needed a simple veggie.

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To put an end to our Christmas meal, we had Vanilla Roasted Pears with vanilla ice cream. The fruit dessert was a great end to the meal. My aunt had sent us pears for Christmas. This was a great way to use them. They were so soft and delicious.

What did you have for Christmas this year?

* This recipe is being shared with Full Plate Thursday

Spicy Fish Stew

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Before I start talking about food, I have a huge announcement to make. On Friday I found out I passed the California bar exam. :D :D :D

My life has been pretty excellent this last year. It’s been stressful, no doubt, but I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Anyway, this year I also started the Pantry Party. Pantry Party is a monthly round-up, where dishes are made from the ingredients in our pantries. Every month I give a theme. This month’s theme has been perfect for this crazy month (or really, this crazy year) I’ve been having. The theme? A recipe that can be made in 30 minutes or less!

The month is almost over – I hope more people join.

This was an easy dish. It was flavorful. And for a cold evening, it was great! PS – it was the first dish I made as a lawyer. This dish took me about 20 minutes to prepare.

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Spicy Fish Stew

Ingredients
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb swai, cut into pieces
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp a spice mix from Bubba’s Texas Burger Shack (I got this from a past Foodie Pen Pals)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 can garbanzo beans

Directions

1. In a deep pot, heat the olive oil. Add the spice mix and the oregano and cook for 30 seconds. Add the onions, garbanzo beans, and garlic. Cover and cook over low-medium heat for 10 minutes.

2. Add 1/2 cup of water. Arrange the swai between the vegetables. Cover and cook for 7 minutes.

* serves 2
* this dish is being shared with See Ya In The Gumbo

Not-Really-Nicoise-Salad

IMG_9295This month at Food ‘n Flix we watched A Good Year, a movie about a man who goes to France and something or other. This movie was hosted by Squirrel Head Manor.

Frankly, I wasn’t enamored with the movie. Really, I found it boring. I didn’t find any of the characters likable. I wasn’t inspired. I do still love participating though, even when my inspiration is lacking, so I decided to find some way to participate.

The gist of the movie is Max goes to France when he learns his deceased uncle has left his chateau to him. A plus about the movie is that the scenery and sets are beautiful – I did quite want to go to France (and live on a Vineyard no less.)

Anyway – this inspiration came from a part in the movie where Max was helping as a waiter at a French restaurant. An American tourist orders a salad “nee-swa-zay” with low-cal ranch dressing and some bacon bits sprinkled on top. Max then gets indignant and makes some remarks about fast food.

I decided to make the Salad Nee-Swa-Zay for that American tourist – though she probably still will hate it because I just couldn’t do ranch dressing on this salad.

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I don’t think I can call this a Nicoise salad, because I sort of don’t have any Nicoise olives on it. That’s cheating, right? But if I’m making it for the American tourist, she probably wouldn’t want those olives – because I don’t like olives. And I even gave it some fresh bacon bits. I mean, I’m sure the tourist would have preferred the type out of a jar, but I can only sink to a certain level here.

So I have no idea what a Nicoise salad actually tastes like, but this not-really-Nicoise-salad was quite delicious with my heavy American hand.

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Ingredients
3 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp onion, diced
2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices bacon
10 small yellow potatoes, cubed
1 head lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 can tuna
4 oz green beans, trimmed

Directions

1. In a small bowl stir together the lime juice, olive oil, onion, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

2. In a small skillet, fry the bacon. Once fried, drain on paper towels. Set aside and let cool.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the potatoes. Boil until tender. Drain and set aside.

4. While the potatoes and bacon are cooking, toss the lettuce with 2 tbsp of the dressing made in step 1. Divide onto two plates. Divide the tuna between the two plates and place in a scoop on top of the lettuce.

5. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tbsp dressing. Arrange in a mound around the lettuce.

6. Toss the eggs with 1 tbsp dressing. Arrange in a mound around the lettuce.

7. Toss the potatoes with 2 tbsp dressing. Arrange in a mound around the lettuce.

8. In a pot, bring water to boil. Boil the green beans for 3 minutes. Drain and blanch, by running cold water over them for 30 seconds. Arrange in a mound around the lettuce.

9. Chop the bacon. Sprinkle on top of the salad. If any dressing remains, drizzle it over the salad.

* Besides this month’s Food ‘n Flix I’m sharing this salad with Wednesday Whatsits and Cast Party Wednesday

Smashed Pea and Mint Bruschetta

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I’ve been busy. I’ve been SO busy. But it’s been great. I had my second trial ever last week. I haven’t even passed the bar exam yet, but I’ve had two trials and in this most recent trial I hung the jury, which is awesome.

In food news, I’ve decided I’m not going to buy bread anymore. I feel like it costs so much money and I can easily make it myself. Since making this decision I’ve made several different breads: baguettes, hamburger buns, dinner rolls, and pita. This weekend I’ll be making hamburger buns and baguettes again. It takes over my Sundays, but it takes them over in a wonderfully great way.

I decided to make bruschetta with the baguette I made. The combination of peas and mint was quite springy, which might be out of season for the fall season that is finally cooling down my house, but the fresh combination was still welcome. I served it alongside a simple noodle.

Smashed Pea and Mint Bruschetta
(source)

Ingredients
1/2 baguette
10-oz frozen peas, thawed
1 tbsp mint, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

1.  Slice the baguette into rounds. I got about 9 slices out of my 1/2 baguette. Place the rounds on a baking sheet. Broil until they’re golden brown (about 1 1/2 minutes per side.)

2. Process the peas in a food processor. Process until roughly chopped. Stir in the mint, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3. Spread the mixture on the rounds.

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* makes about 9 pieces
* I’m sharing this recipe with Weekend Cooking

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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My lack of updating isn’t currently do to a lack of cooking. Rather, my lack of updating is entirely the fault of I haven’t cooked anything to die for lately. Everything’s been blah – and I don’t really need to share those blah recipes. Just this week I made pumpkin lasagna reminiscent of baby food and beef in the slow cooker which was too dry.

One thing I did not falter on were these muffins.

I try every month to participate in Chocolate Log Blog’s We Should Cocoa. We Should Cocoa is a monthly blogger challenge – make a chocolate recipe that fits the theme of the month. This month’s We Should Cocoa is being hosted by JibberJabberUK who provided the theme of vegetables.

I initially had planned to make beet chocolate muffins, but some change in my finances has allowed me now to only go grocery shopping every other week. This basically means by week two I have to make sure to use up everything I have in the house. I was wasting too much before and spending more than I had.  Because I had no beets on the day I decided I needed to make chocolate muffins, I dug through the vegetable drawer and decided I’d make chocolate zucchini cupcakes.

I’ve made chocolate zucchini bread before and really loved it, so I knew this would be good. Also, because I didn’t go grocery shopping, these are eggless.

I guess I’m back on the We Should Cocoa muffin kick!

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
(source)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a muffin tin by lining it with wrappers.

2. In a small container combine the milk and vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes.

3. In a large bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Create a well in the middle.

4. In a smaller bowl combine the milk/vinegar mix, vegetable oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Pour into the well of the dry mixture. Mix together to ensure there are no dry spots. Fold the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips into the batter.

5. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

* makes 12
* Besides We Should Cocoa, I’m sharing this recipe with AlphaBakes hosted by Ros and Caroline for the letter C this month! This is also being shared with Cast Party Wednesday.

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