Thursday, June 9, 2011

Good music, good food, and good beer (or cider)!

Oh the joys of being 21, something that I am newly acquainted with.  I turned 21 almost 2 months ago, and the past 2 months have definitely flown by (maybe an effect of alcohol?). Regardless, I have found a new love for something I wasn't expecting to happen: beer.

So when the email was sent out to us Tennessee Foodbuzzers to design a "broo" paired meal for Bonnaroo (a local music festival), I was ecstatic.  There's a local bar here that, on Tuesdays, does $2 pints. Aka: I've tried nearly everything on the Broo'ers Festival website.

Unfortunately, my camera was not on the same level for me, so I don't have any lovely pictures for you. BUT! I can guarantee the food was delicious, and the beer was even better!

I decided to pair my meal with Woodchuck Hard Cider, a fabulously sweet, but delightfully nostalgic hard cider that, with only a little bite of alcohol, reminded me of apple-stuffed roasted chickens growing up.  My mom, every Sunday, would get a big roasted chicken, clean it out, and stuff it with more apples than I could count.  The sweetness would soak into the chicken and add such a supple flavor that my young taste buds could not understand. When I first tried Woodchuck a couple weeks ago, my mind was swimming with ideas of what this would go with (that's normally what I do when I try a wine or beer, for some reason. Gosh! This would taste good with [insert yummy food here]).

But alas, Bonnaroo is not just sweet beer and nostalgia, Bonnaroo is a musical melting pot of amazing melodies, great guitars, and up-and-coming artists.  As I'm on a nostalgia kick, I wanted to listen to some artists from the list that would take me back to a place where the sun was hot, the cool grass was beneath my bare feet, and all I cared about was how I was going to climb up the tree in the backyard.

I stumbled across Aaron "Woody" Wood, which I found completely appropriate to pair with my Woodchuck cider.  But as I listened to his music, the sweet guitar and blues-y melodies definitely landed a hand to my dire need to remember. Thus, I came

I decided to go "surf and sky," as I called it when I was a kid (little did I know, chickens don't really fly. Gosh I was so naive).

Ginger and Apple Marinated Chicken and Shrimp
2 large chicken breasts, cut into about 2 inch tenders (I got about 6)
16 shrimp, deveined, shells removed

1 bottle Woodchuck Hard Cider
2 tbsp white vinegar
3 tsp powdered ginger
Juice of 1/2 large navel orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp salt
2 tsp chili paste
Mix above thoroughly

Marinate chicken and shrimp (separately) in above mixture for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes.

Grill chicken and shrimp until thoroughly cooked. I, unfortunately, can't have a real grill at my apartment, so I settled with an indoor grill. But! If you have some good charcoal, throw it in a grill and call it an evening, because that would have definitely helped the flavor.

Kickin' Green Beans
Green beans (however many you want, I used about 1 lb)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I actually used soy sauce, but that's just a personal preference)
1/2 tsp Habanero sauce

Heat oil in large skillet or wok.  Add green beans and garlic, stir (I use tongs for this), and turn heat to med-high heat. Add salt, pepper, and Habanero sauce.  Cook until beans are done.

I just had chicken, shrimp and green beans (trying to stay away from starch). You could totally make some good rice noodles or something and go that way, too. :)

Drinking a Woodchuck and eating this was fantastic - the sweet flavor with a little bite of vinegar was awesome.  I didn't want to just pair a beer with food, I wanted to incorporate the cider with the food, as well.  So there ya go! Cook and enjoy :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Hiatus is Over

Dearest Foodies and Followers,

I see that it has been a long while since I've posted anything delicious! I unfortunately got so wrapped up in school, research, and various personal matters, I lost track of this poor blog.  But alas, my hiatus is over, and I should soon be producing delicious recipes as I venture through a summer of food and research.
I received a paid internship to conduct research this summer, so I should have plenty of goodies to share!!

Thank you for those who have befriended me in the past few months - sorry for the lack of reciprocation! I am back, I promise.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Banana Pancakes and Shark Week

I originally wanted to have my post title be a quote from Jack Johnson's Banana Pancakes, but I refrained from being too cliché.. But as it is Friday, why don't you make you banana pancakes, pretend like it's the weekend now...
Sorry. I had a moment.
(Yes. I am continuing to listen to this song as I write this post.)

This week has been slightly uneventful, yet stressful and full or work.  But fortunately, I had friends and Shark Week to get me through.  For those of you who are too sheltered and don't know what Shark Week is, it is one of the best weeks of the year (I compared it to being the Hanukkah in August).  Basically, the Discovery Channel decides to grant its viewers with a week of continues sharky love - a gift every day of several hours of shark TV.
I know, I know... Sharks are scary and they eat things... But I mean, come on. Sharks are awesome.  They really don't just eat things, they are natural predators who don't like people to invade their personal space.  Sharks are awesome, and I would totally watch shows about sharks all day every day.
Shark Channel, anyone?!

Dusted with a little powdered sugar, anyone?
Anyways, a few mornings ago my friend and I decided to make pancakes before our workout (kind of contradictory, I know..) and she had an extra-ripe banana.  So we chopped them up and threw them into our pancake mixture.

Here's a secret, too... Put a dollop of sour cream in your pancakes to make them fluffy. Who knew?
Here's another secret... put a little oil in your pancakes and it will prevent them from sticking... What??!

Let's bow down to my fantastic friend Alicia for introducing me to these awesome tips!

So here's what we did...
Banana Pancakes
Jiffy baking mix, using the recipe on the box to make pancakes
1 tbsp sour cream
Look at that caramelized banana!!
1/2 tbsp oil
1 ripe banana, chopped (or mashed) and incorporated into the mixture.

Mix all of the above ingredients into the pancake batter.  Cook the pancakes until they start to bubble, and then flip.  Add a little milk if the batter thickens.

There you go! Yummy banana pancakes to enjoy.
Don't forget to catch up on the last few days of Shark Week!

Ciao e Bella Cucina,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Spicy Roasted Veggies with Spicy Fettucini

My friends have been feeding me. It's fantastic because I've been so poor, I haven't bought groceries in three weeks.  I'm living off of what I call, "Reserve Food," or "Bomb Shelter Food," because I've been eating out of my freezer/cans for the last few weeks.  I made my last box of pasta the other day... this is bad, I know.
And my friends realized that too, so they have helped me out. One brought over food from her garden at home, and we roasted some squash and carrots.  They were divine!  And on top of that, we made green bean fettucini with a little habanero sauce :) I like it spicy!

Roasted Veggies
Whatever vegetables you choose (we used carrots, onions, and squash. I've also done it with tomatoes)
Olive oil
Cajun seasoning (I use Slap Ya Mama)
Garlic powder

Cut the vegetables to your liking - you don't want them too thin, but the thinner they are the faster they cook.  Make sure they are of equal size so nothing cooks unevenly.
Spread them equally on a cookie sheet or roasting pan.  Drizzle liberally with olive oil and toss the veggies.  Sprinkle liberally with the garlic powder and cajun seasoning, and then sprinkle a little paprika and then toss the veggies.
Roast at 400°F for approximately 20 minutes (the thinner they are, the faster they cook... or the opposite).  Cook until opaque and tender.

Spicy Fettucini
Oil from roasted veggies
Olive oil
1/2 box fettucini, cooked
Large handful of green beans
Habanero sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Cook the green beans in the olive oil and garlic.  Once the fettucini is finished, toss in the noodles with the green beans.  Add in the oil from the roasted veggies, salt to taste, and about 6 drops of the habanero sauce. Toss and serve.

Now that was easy!

Ciao e Bella Cucina!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New KitchenAid? Let's Make Banana Bread!

I have a list called, "Mom, when you die you are giving me this..." and it is a list of kitchen items.  It consists of things like her All-Clad, Japanese dishes, China, a wooden bowl, a wooden pasta fork, and her KitchenAid (and various other items, as well).  She laughs every time I say it, and realizes I'm not kidding. My mother is the one who brought the wonders of cooking into my life, and I want that legacy to continue even after she's gone... When I make my first sukiyaki for my family, or a nabe.  Or ever time I make pasta.  But of course, that will be a long way from now. Seeing as my mother is in perfect health (and I'm happy about that) and I don't want to get married until I'm 90.

Anyways! So I get a call last fall from my mother (which was odd because I'm always the one who calls her) and she tells me, "You're grandmother has a present for you."  And I'm slightly shocked, but not all-to surprised.  My grandma is a fantastic woman, but she normally doesn't give presents. Just money (which ash always helped me in many many ways).  I promptly ask my mother what it is and she says, "Her KitchenAid."  I'm shocked.  Out of everything I want in my life, the KitchenAid is the one thing I knew would take me 500 years to purchase (since they're awfully expensive).  I laughed. I cried. I nearly had a myocardial infarction.  I was in cooking heaven, and this was at the same time I was discovering my absolute love for food and had a $5.00 hand blender.

Look at the color on the loaf - so golden!!
When I came home over Christmas there it was - in my grandmother's garage - a nearly brand new, barely used, professional "with-the-arms" KitchenAid with all the fix-ins.  I was nearly jumping out of my snow boots.  And to top it all off? My grandma offered me a go around at her cookbook cabinet.  I got about 100 cookbooks, mostly for baking, and I left with that KitchenAid.  But my tiny apartment could not accomodate, so I didn't bring it down until last week. And the first thing I do? I make banana bread, of course!

Banana bread is one of this things that instantly takes me back to my childhood.  I love the smell of the dough, and as it bakes it makes everything around it aromatic.  My mom always made it for swimming meets, so we could have a sweet, yet starchy, boost of energy at the end of the night.  This recipe was stolen from my neighbor many, many years ago.  And I will admit that it needs a change.  I made it and I was confused, because my bread was flat.  And I researched baking soda and baking powder (because the recipe called for baking soda) and there it was - baking soda requires acid, baking powder already has cream of tartar in it.  So, you may need to add a little cream of tartar to this recipe to make your bread nice and fluffy.

Banana Bread
3 large, ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Crisco (I used 1/4 cup unsalted butter)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Beat bananas until they are mashed in a small bowl.
In a stand mixer, beat eggs until light.  Then add sugar and butter and mix well.
Then add the flour, salt, and baking soda and mix well.
Mix in the mashed bananas.
Spray or grease 2 loaf pans and pour mixture evenly between the two.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and they pass the toothpick test.

Enjoy this delicious banana-y bread!
Look at that air pocket!
Ciao e Bella Cucina!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Purple Chicken Soup

I've never made soup. Ever. I've never watched my mother make it, I've never attempted to make it. Ever. At all. Zilch.
So this was an interesting experience! My mother was disappointed because I didn't make my own stock, but oh well.  I don't have time! But I bought free range chicken stock, which was fantastic!
I bought a lot of these ingredients awhile ago when I actually had money, and let me tell you what.. this will definitely last me forever! But it will be good when, in the middle of the semester, I have no money and it's cold out.  Sounds like a plan, right?? :)

The memories I have of soup growing up are phenomenal.  Mom always made some sort of soup every fall - Cincinnati-style chili, turkey noodle soup, chicken vegetable alphabet soup, white chili, or vegetable soup were her main soups.  She normally made two a year, and froze a bunch of it to keep and reuse on a lazy evening (along with homemade spaghetti sauce).  You'd know when she was making something good because she would always get out her pressure cooker on Sundays, after we had roasted chicken, to pressure cook the bones and make her own stock.  And after Thanksgiving, she'd always make a turkey stock.  Gosh! I can remember the smell of the house the next morning was amazing - you almost floated to the kitchen.  And she'd be in there, working away, to feed her family.  That morning you'd have fresh turkey sandwiches and then for a late afternoon snack, the first turkey noodle soup bowl of the season.

But me? No thought. I kind of just winged this, so if you have any suggestions please don't hesitate to comment!

Purple Chicken Soup
3 large chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
32 oz. + 1 cup free range chicken broth, or homemade equivalent
12 cups of water
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, chopped
1 1/2 cups green cabbage, chopped
6 stalks of celery hearts, chopped
5 large carrots, chopped
Dried basil, rosemary, and thyme
Cajun seasoning
Olive oil
1/2 red onion
1 package of pasta (I used campanelle)

Purple Chicken Soup
In a large pan, put all the vegetables (not onion) in there with about 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Cook for a couple of minutes and then add salt and the 1/2 cup of chicken broth and cover with a lid.  Let them cook until almost tender (you don't want them to be tender). Stir them every few minutes.
Meanwhile, dice the chicken into bite size pieces.  Then cook them in a large sauté pan with olive oil, and the herbs, and the cajun seasoning.  Or season the chicken to your liking :) Cook until ALMOST finished cooking.  You don't want to over cook the chicken.  Once the chicken is finished, put it in a separate container and cook the onions in the same oil.
Cook the pasta al dente with salt.
In a large stock pot, add the rest of the chicken stock and water.  Drain and add all of the above cooked items.  Stir it up and let the liquid simmer for at least an hour.
Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil.

And here ya go!

Ciao e Bella Cucina!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Workouts and Hunger

I've recently (as of last Friday) started a workout regimen and I've been having a problem.  I get so hungry after I work out! I have been doing anywhere between 40 minutes to 80 minutes for workout, mixing cardio and weight lifting, so I'm going to have to find some sort of alternative to stuffing my face after I get home.

The other day I had an almond and apple sauce post-workout snack.  What do you suggest? I heard mixing carbohydrates and proteins is perfect for a mixture of replenishing quick energy and longer-lasting energy.

On other news, I'm in a rut. I want to create something yummy, but I have no money! It's a problem.  But I do promise that after I get my next pay check and after I pay rent, there will be a yummy recipe to follow!! Right now I'm living off of random vegetables, leftovers, and random things I can steal from my friends!