Friday, October 28, 2011

an actually achievable (and suprisingly savory) 30-minute meal.

i had just gotten out of the shower after working out and was looking through foodgawker and pinterest for something to make for dinner last night when my roommate calls out from the other room.

"you almost ready to go get a movie?"

"do you mind if i make some dinner first? i'll do it fast, like half hour?"

"oh yeah that's fine."

well great, now my options are canned soup or a sandwich... bummer.

but i really wanted sweet potato something or other. so i don't know whether it was the pity i felt for that sweet potato that had been forgotten in the bottom of the vegetable drawer far too many times this week or if it was the determination i had in making something half-way decent in the half hour i gave myelf, but either way... this was just what i was looking for.

ever since high school i had watched rachael ray's 30 minute meals and thought "well obviously you can make this in 30 minutes. all the ingredients you need are pushed to the front of your cabinets and all the equipemt you need is not only not sitting in the sink waiting to be washed, but is laid out for you. if someone went through my kitchen and did all that for me, i could do that in 30 minutes too."

but friends, jesus walked on water, the titanic sank, and a 30 minute meal is achievable.

(just to be clear, this dish is no where near jesus walking on water on the unofficial unbelievably-holy-cow scale, but i'm just saying... it's possible.)

and ohmygoodness, it is so creamy and delicious and healthy, it blew my mind.

i started boiling the water for pasta and threw the cute little bow ties in when it was ready. i then threw my sweet potato in the microwave because there was really no other way i could've gotten it all the way cooked in the small window of time i had.

(i make it sound like the world would've collapsed and hell would've broken loose if we had left to get this movie in 45 minutes instead of the 30 minutes i had said. but really i was just challenging myself i guess.)

while that's cooking, i started sauteing some onions and mushrooms with a little bit of olive oil until they were nice and soft. once they looked beautiful, i added in a tablespoon of butter.

is there anything better than butter melting into some soft veggies?
i'll answer that. nope.

when the sweet potato came out of the microwave, i peeled off the skin and mashed the flesh with a potato masher.

once the sweet potato was mashed, my butter was melted and making those mushrooms savory and happy and begging for a roux. i threw in some chicken base and then the flour, and tossed it to combine.

i tossed in the milk and whisked it to get rid of the flour lumps so it would thicken faster. i turned the heat up a little so it would come to a boil faster. but before it started to simmer, i threw in the mashed sweet potato.

if you know a thing or two about rouxs and you already looked at the recipe, perhaps you caught my problem. i had a total of 3 tbsp of fat and only half that amount of flour. however, i figured the starchiness of the sweet potato would help the sauce thicken up more.

knowing me, i would find the exception to the rule.

anyways, after the sweet potato was incorporated and the sauce started to thicken, i added in a decent sized pinch of cayenne and a healthy amount of cinnamon.

but after i stirred those in and tasted it, i thought for sure i ruined it. too much cinnamon! a perfectly good sweet potato... wasted! gahh!

but wait, i told myself. just.... wait. stir it, keep it simmering, just let it seep into the sweet potato-y goodness that is forming on your stove.

because what seemed like an over-seasoning turned into the slightly sweet, mostly savory, creamiest pasta sauce i have ever created. seriously.

i tossed in the bow tie pasta and gave it a stir. and i put it on a plate. and i sprinkled it with a little cheese. and i grabbed my fork and took a bite.

and then i grabbed two more forks because i could not keep this sweet potato sensation to myself. i made one roommate stop playing fifa to try it and i made the other roommate stop doing her homework to try it.

let's just say a couple minutes later, they were both wandering into the kitchen, piercing the their forks into the creamy little bow ties still left in the pan asking what was in it and how did i do it and "how do you just come up stuff like this?"

i don't really have an exact answer for that but let me warn you, this stuff is addicting.

as in two helpings for dinner last night and leftovers for lunch today.

and can i just add that the orange-ness of the sweet potato makes this sauce especially halloween-friendly? i'm really not a big halloween person, but if you're looking for a good "orange" recipe for this weekend, this one is sure to warm you up.

so here it is. i was advised that i should start putting recipes up here and at first i was hesitant. i mean, most of the stuff i make, isn't following a recipe. it's adding stuff in until it works. but when i look at blogs, i definitely look at the recipes for guidance or ideas, or sometimes exact measurements. so here it is. i wrote this up as i was mowing down helping #2 so it was still fresh in my memory :)

Creamy Sweet Potato Farfalle

2 T. olive oil
½ red onion, chopped
4large button mushrooms, sliced
1 T. butter
1 ½ T. flour
1 large sweet potato
2 cups milk
1 T. chicken base (or one cup milk, 1 cup chicken stock)
1/8 tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ lb. bow tie pasta
½ cup shredded swiss cheese
Poke holes in the sweet potato with a fork and microwave on high for 8-9 minutes or until soft. Once it’s soft, put the flesh into a bowl and mash. (Or if you have more time, feel free to bake. It'll take about 45-60 minutes on 350, if that sounds better to you.)
Sauté onion on medium heat until it is transparent and starting to brown. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add salt and pepper, chicken base and the 1 tbsp. of butter. Once the butter is melted, add in the flour. Then, pour in the milk and whisk so the flour gets evenly incorporated in the sauce. Turn the heat to medium high in order to get the sauce to bubble. Once the liquid is warm (but not quite bubbling), add in the mashed sweet potato and whisk to get rid of all the lumps. Season with cayenne and cinnamon and let simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the pasta into the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta and serve. Sprinkle with swiss and enjoy.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

do you believe in magic?

well there goes that idea.

i logged on with the intention of filling this space with drool-worthy pictures, fantabulous recipes, a hint of sarcasm and maybe a funny story or two from the dinner i made yesterday that was mind-blowingly delish.

instead, my computer has decided to play a joke on me and fool me into thinking that my pictures are some sort of "error."

but until i figure out who got the better of who, i'm just going to take some time to rant (mostly rave) about my wines and spirits class i am currently in.


wines and spirits class. as in i go to school. and learn about alcohol. funny, most college students normally opt for the second instead of the first. but in this case, i would most definitely push aside even an ice cold corona to sit in this class for 4 hours.

because not only do i get to learn from a professor who literally does calf raises at every exciting point he is trying to make, but i get to watch some rather comical british-made videos. and if you thought that was the good part, you just underestimated the crap out of this class... and peter d'souza which is not advisable. (those of you who know who he is, clearly understand).

because after the furthest-from-boring lecture, we get to taste wines. this is not just a few sips from 2 or 3 kinds of "meh" wines.

this is a full-out-find-your-seat-at-table-quickly-oh-did-i-mention-we're-tasting-a-$250-bottle-of-wine-today-no-big-deal-we're-pairing-it-with-beef-tenderloin-in-a-mushroom-cabernet-sauce-that-we-whipped-up-while-you-were-taking-notes-on-the-five-grape-varieties-that-come-from-Bordeaux-kind of experience.

oh yeah.

and if you haven't already guessed, it's not just the wines that get me so jacked up about this class. it's the food that our ta's prepare to go along with it. to give you a little perspective, on the first day of class, they paired the wines of the day with basic fruits, berries, cheeses and herbs. to put it mildly, i was already wayyyyy excited.

little fontina... little chardonnay... little "ohmygoshthatissoooogood"
nibble of mushroom... sip of pinot noir... slight freak-out session.

you get the point.

so when the better wines came out, the quality and uniqueness of the food came right along with it. we've had duck, perch, beef tenderloin, stuffed pork, leg of lamb, and salmon just to name a few. but today was, by far, the greatest one for me because 3 out of the 6 pairings, i had never even had before.... in my life.

cornish game hen.
excellently-prepared venison. (venison sausage does not count, i've decided.)

the caviar was a little salty and a little too fishy-tasting for me, but i buckled down and ate the whole goat cheese crostada it was served on because one nibble off the corner does not truly count as "trying something" in my book. the cornish game hen was pretty much chicken, so obviously it was good and the venison was pretty much a knockout. peter strongly suggests that if you ever have fresh venison, that it needs to be marinated in lots of red wine, a little mustard and some herbs for no less than 2 days. 2 days, people. and holy guacamole that was the greatest thing ever. makes me want to don some hazmat orange and venture into a nearby tree stand just so i can enjoy dinner midway through next week. complete exaggeration aside, it was absolutely delicious.

the moment i sit down at my spot at the table and gaze at the beautiful arrangements of 6 crystal clear wine glasses expertly arranged in that characterstic half moon shape around my place setting, all i want to do is take a picture and share it to the world. i wish everyone could have that seat. i wish everyone could enjoy wine the way we do in that class. he makes it so much more than our society makes it. he makes it an experience, not just something we think we should drink at holidays because it's "fancy" or something. he makes it fun and educational. and when we breathe in those beautiful aromas and he calls out almost instantaneously what he smells, it makes me want to travel to france and spain and italy and smell a thousand different wines until i have the keen sense that he so clearly has.

and at the same time i know that my knowledge has already just skyrocketed from where i first was. i can pick out certain smells. i am getting a good feeling for which grape varieties i like more than others. and when we bring the food along for the ride, i know there are some foods just have that certain taste or texture to them that so magically pairs with the wine.

i don't normally believe in magic, so if you're a non-believe like i was, do this: make some andouille stuffed mushrooms, drink a glass of blackstone sonoma merlot and see how much convincing you'll need to start believing that Aladdin really had a flying carpet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

try to hate fall, i dare you.

it is really hard to hate fall in wisconsin.

the only thing i can think of is that it doesn't last long enough and sometimes it's like we just decided to skip it completely.

when someone says fall, most people think of going back to school, leaves changing, and that thanksgiving is right around the corner.

i think of soup.

for me, it doesn't even need to be cold out to enjoy soup (although it does make it taste a little better somehow). a few months back, i had a craving for soup.

and by a few months back, i mean july.
and by july, i mean 85 degrees outside.
and i wanted soup.

so i cranked the AC, threw a hoodie on and made soup. and it was awesome.

but today, i threw a hoodie on because it was cold outside (not inside thankfully), and made some butternut squash soup with sweet potato rye croutons.

and uh! it was great. 
i got the recipe from a picture on foodgawker (surprise surprise) but changed it a little bit.

  it still turned out pretty great especially with my addition of the sweet potato rye croutons, courtesy of the amazing bread guy at the menomonie farmer's market. :)

i have just three little wishes for this recipe for next time i make it.
1. i wish for a blender big enough to hold all of the soup. blending in batches is not fun.
2. i wish to toast my little croutons more. baking for longer instead of broiling quickly would've made them stay crunchy longer in the soup once i mixed them in.
3. i wish i didn't have to clean up my mess. :(

p.s. if anyone would like the recipes for what i make on here, just ask. i normally get an idea with a recipe and then adjust as i go. but i would definitely be able to type up a loose recipe of what i created!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

the beauty and bounty of brennan's.

whenever i go home for a long weekend, or even just a couple days, there is a mental to-do list that is full of things that i can't wait to cross off. one of these things is going to brennan's.

i showed at least 4 people the wonder of brennan's just this past summer and i can't wait to show the light to others. when i went there this past weekend, i brought my camera. i've always wanted to take pictures of their produce because it's always so beautiful, but then as soon as i busted out my little orange digital camera, i could feel the employees' eyes on me with every shot i took. a part of me felt bad, but the other part of me wanted to yell at them, "don't judge me! i love food." so here's the montage of photos i took without their direct 'permission,' but with the shared feeling of appreciation for thier divine produce and cheese:

these are plumcots.. plums + apricots... obviously. ha!

these were a different variety of plumcots and they were HUGE. like just a little smaller than a softball, it was ridiculous!

who has peaches this beautiful and this chin-drippingly good in OCTOBER?
uh. brennan's.

rows and rows and rows of apples.

since being in my introduction to wines and spirits this semester, i look at grapes in such a new light.

habaneros and some sort of long, skinny, wrinkly chiles. i forgot what they were called, but they look intriguing!

anybody know what "fiesta cauliflower" tastes like? all i know is it's orange and named after a party, so, i mean, i feel like it's gotta be good.

rutabegas like you wouldn't believe.

cheese, cheese and more cheese. normally they have at least 6 different kinds to sample, but i was there at like 10:30am so maybe they don't do cheese that early. i normally only go in the summers when i'm home, when 11 is the earliest i leave my bed, so i wouldn't know when they bust out the cheese samples.

on this particular october morning, i definitely could've gone for some cheese. #truewisconsinite :)

if you can't read those, they are marbled cheddars: riesling, irish beer, merlot, and champagne. despite the price tag, i was still tempted. think about it: beer cheese soup using irish beer cheddar? sign. me. up.

probably moldy and smelly and so so sharp, but i would still like to bite into that.
"the best around!!" <-- more like the only ones around who dare to let cheese sit around for more than a decade.

so many kinds!

in addition to the best produce, the largest cheese selection, a better-than-average wine selection, and a local-beer-lover's paradise, they also have a prime butcher in the back of this little gem.

with so many cool things to look at and so many sample to take advantage of, it's pretty clear to see why it's always something i have to squeeze into my time home. i wish i could just go in there and eat a bunch of samples and call it lunch (which i have done on more than a few occasions), but then i feel like i need to buy something. guess that's just my conscience kicking in. wish i could yell at that too.

"don't judge me! i love food."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

rounding third toward home.

for some, it's finally finding out your grade on an exam you stayed up til 3am studying for. for others, it's watching our beloved brew crew getting so close to the world series after waiting 29 years for redemption. for me, it's going home.

well... that and the brewers.


it's tough to say what excited me most about going home this weekend. i hadn't been there since the end of july, so it was definitely nice to sleep in a big comfy bed. but was it (a) going to the brewers nlcs game 5? was it (b) making lots of great grub? was it (c) watching braun and fielder smash some home runs to beat the cardinals? was it (d) witnessing a-rod throw his 100th career td pass and take the packers to 5-0? or was it (e) just being able to sit on the couch surrounded by family with a plate full of food on my lap and a cold brew on the coffee table?

gonna have to take option (f) on this one. all of the above. but i gotta say, snagging tickets with my broski to the friday night showdown versus arizona was definitely the highlight.

i arrived at my parents' house around 3:30 on thursday night. i couldn't have been home for all of 15 minutes before my brother was asking me to make chocolate cupcakes.

me: seriously? i just got home.
nate: yeah i've been wanting some for a couple days now.
me: and you couldn't just make them yourself?
nate: i made a cake last week.
me: oh my gosh, fine. were you just waiting for me to come home because you knew i'd make them?
nate: pretty much.

bags were dropped, laundry was scattered, and cupcake batter was in the works.

he also informed me that there was jarred frosting in the pantry but added "it's probably not good enough for you."

so i'm predictable. sue me.
but he was pretty much right. 'aright i'll make some sort of interesting frosting,' i thought.
 so what goes better with chocolate than peanut butter? nothing.
and what goes better with everything? alcohol.
well, that wasn't my original intention. initally, i saw some marshmallows and thought of making a sort of peanut butter marshmallow fluff topping (considering my obvious distaste for grainy, sugar-y frosting of any kind). so that's how i started this "frosting." i melted some butter on the stove and threw in a large handful of mini marshmallows to get them melted. once they were ooey and gooey and marvelous, i threw them in the kitchenaid mixer with a little powedered sugar and peanut butter of the crunchy variety. i then headed to the fridge for some milk to ease the stickiness forming in my mixing bowl.

"you've got to be kidding me."
"we seriously don't have any milk??"
"i can't make frosting without milk! it's like a rule!"
all i heard from the voice on the couch was a snicker. a snicker that sounded to me like 'good luck with tha... the lions are 4-0? monday night football should be a good game...'
in other words, he couldn't care less.

ok, so no milk. water? flavorless. alcohol? bingo.
i opened the cabinet where all the alcohol is kept on the highest possible shelf. not to keep it away from the kids in the family since we're all tall enough to reach by now, but because the dust on that shelf is only rustled up about once a year on christmas for when relatives come over. some of the crap up there has probably gone with us the last 2 times we've moved houses. the only appetizing one i could see was amaretto so i went with that. 

little bit of that thinned it out enough, but it still wasn't tasting or looking quite like the "frosting" that certain people enjoy. so i threw a couple globs of the jarred frosting in and called it a day. and it worked.

 it was actually kind of awesome. and i would be lying if i said i scraped the frosting off like i normally do with goodies of this nature. weird, i know. it kinda threw me off.

day 2 of my brewers-driven, food-packed, family-love-infested weekend, my brother (yet again) suggested i make us the healthy and nutritous lunch of taco dip as we chatted in anticipation of the brewer game later that day. he has season tickets, so my other brother and i decided to go together. oh the bonding that went on this weekend was almost too much to bear. but not quite :)

later at the game, i had to splurge once again and enjoy a miller park junior dog sloppily covered in the awesomeness that is stadium sauce. if you've never had it, i almost feel bad. i don't completely feel bad because sometimes i like knowing about little local stuff without having to share it's wonder with everyone. but those of you who have had it (if there are any of you), you know how great it is. it's basically the only reason i got the hot dog. it's like sometimes i make oven fries just so i can have ketchup.

the other ballpark favorite i had to have were the 'heavently roasted nuts.' almonds heated to perfection and covered in cinnamon, sugar and some nicotine-like drug because they're like lays potato chips: bet you can't eat just one.
oh, and a tgi friday's ultimate long island...

day 3: nothing of great culinary value occured. cereal, an auntie anne's pretzel and leftovers... not that there's anything wrong with that.

day 4: after an awesome sermon at church, i went shopping after church with my mom's debit card in my wallet, mustang keys in my purse, and grocery list in hand. a great start to a day that was only going to get better. brewers game 1 versus 'alberta' and the cards at 3 and packers game at 7:30 against the falcons. first game's menu consisted of the following: shrimp cocktail, cheese/cracker/summer sausage plate, and broccoli salad.

after the brew crew's fabulous win, i was energized and determined to get back in the kitchen to whip up the other things i had in mind. first on the list: chocolate chip cookies.

it wouldn't be a trip home from college without being sent back with a tupperware full of homemade cookies. they're just one of those things that never turn out quite as well when you make them anywhere else.

next: spinach and artichoke dip.

i made the mixture with chopped spinach, artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, mozzarella, asiago, garlic powder, onion salt, black pepper and a little bit of cayenne. i spread it in a 9x9 square pan, covered it in more asiago and stuck it on the bottom shelf of the oven, set to broil. that way the mixture would be totally warmed through before the cheese melted and went from golden brown and delicious to dark brown and crispy.

i served it with slices of a sourdough baguette on the coffee table in the middle of the room, which apparently was deemed as "too far away" for everyone except me and jeremy. burning our tongues all the while, we attacked it from both sides and wound up doing some pretty serious damage on it.

 the last appetizer i made were the mini "blts's." ...but it's minus the '"l" so i guess we should call them mini bt's but that doesn't sound as good nor does it get the general idea across so, blah. whatever you call them, they're still awesome. and easy! chop and fry up some bacon, mix it with some sour cream, spread that onto crispy round melba crackers and top with a slice of roma tomato (it's the best size for the cracker). sprinkle with salt and pepper and pop them in your mouth in one big bite and it tastes just like a blt! minus the green leafy stuff. which is ok in this case.

and the best part of all was that both teams won that day! it's absolutely unreal to me that the brewers are so close to the world series  and that the packers are undefeated after week 5 (knock on wood). and as long as they keep winning and i keep watching, there will be food of all kinds for game day. but from burgers and salads to wings and dips, this girl doesn't plan to stop just because the seasons may end. in fact, changing seasons means warmer dinners and hopefully some healthier comfort food. oh man, a bowl of homemade soup, some socks fresh out of the dryer and a good book sounds absolutely perfect. but not yet! i will not bid this summer weather adieu until absolutely necessary. after all, baseball is stil playing, so the sun better keep shining!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

no longer a sushi virgin.

my stomach dropped when i opened a text message from my good friend taylor today.

"how do you feel about an adventure to get sushi tonight?"

my thoughts: heck to the no! the only sushi i ever had was in high school in my culinary class and it came in a package from the grocery store. i remember it tasting like the smell of my pool after we didn't clean it for a while. imitation crab meat, slimy cucumber, rubbery carrot, not enough rice. all wrapped in the leaf of a plant that grows at the bottom of the ocean. probably not the best first sushi experience.

my text back: "oh snap."

so the plan was made. she had been to this sushi place in eau claire before and had loved it, so naturally, i decided it couldn't be that bad. after all, taylor and i rarely disagree on things, especially when it comes to quality restaurants. and let me tell you, this place was better than quality. there wasn't a name on the building and was definitely giving off a sketchy vibe, but when i walked in, i knew they had to be good. it was right around 5:15 when we got there and there was a little line to be seated so clearly people knew about this sign-less restaurant. it's called shanghai bistro, if you're curious, menomonites :)

after being handed a lengthy menu, taylor was already telling me what she normally gets and how it's so good and how there's no seaweed and how much i'm going to love it and everything else. all the while i'm just hoping i can put some down to (a) say that i did it and (b) not feel like such a loser for not liking sushi for the first 21 years of my life. we decided to get some appetizers since there was a sign in the front that says they were voted best appetizer in eau claire and because we were hungry and clearly couldn't wait patiently like other restaurant-goers for our actual meals to come. she said that the egg rolls were really good, so we went with those for an appetizer. 

but they were only $3 so we figured we could splurge and get another app. my turn to feel like i knew something about this kind of food. i saw edamame on the appetizer list and convinced her to try it. i told her i've had it before at an italian place in the twin cities and it was so good.

"you had edamame at an italian place?"
"yeah, when you say it like that, it doesn't really make any sense."
"what kind of italian place is that?"
"i don't know, it came as a side to potstickers."
"they had potstickers too?"
"ok, yeah i don't know. it's called a pasta bar, so maybe i just assumed it was italian."

ok so we made up our minds about the appetizers. now we just had to figure out what kind of sushi we were gonna get. she already had her two favorites picked out so we decided we would just share both kinds. perfect. hopefully i'll like one of them at least. our waitress only had to ask us like 4 times if we were ready to order :)

not long after we ordered, out came out appetizers. i got so excited i took a bite and then remembered i brought my camera. whoops.

served with sweet and sour sauce and some kind of "very spicy mustard." i was fore-warned and therefore steered clear. wasabi and i don't get along so i guess i just made all other "spicy" japanese condiments guilty by association. i was peer pressured to try wasabi and regretted it so i wasn't about to do that again. call me a wimp, i don't care. the egg roll was fabulous. cruncy cabbage, deliciously crispy and got even better with the sweet and sour sauce. perfection.

the amount of edamame we got for $4 made my day. a nice big bowl of pea pod look-alikes steamed and then tossed in salt. fresh and bright green and so great.

the first time i got edamame at that "italian" place, they asked if we had ever had it before. neither me nor the person i was with had ever had it so they explained that you do not eat the pod... just the little soybeans found inside. you kinda squeeze it til it pops open and then eat the goodness that is edamame.

like so...

however, during my first edamame experience, being the foodie i am, curiousity took over. i mentioned to the equally as curious person i was dining with that i wanted to eat the whole thing just because they told us not too. like the rebellious 5-year-old who wants to play in the mud in their church dress just because mom warned you not to, i simply wanted to see how bad it could be. let's just say i didn't try it this time around. i think i related it to eating the shell of a peanut or the shell of a sunflower seed. you're not really supposed to, but you know you do every once in a while.

after polishing off both the egg rolls and the healthy portion of edamame, our two kinds of sushi were brought out. my sushi naïvety was pretty much telling me that it was gonna be like 6 little pieces laid down flat looking kind of eerie and plain.

if you're thinking my reaction was something like a jaw-dropping-gasping-for-air-flailing-my-arms-around-bouncing-up-and-down-in-the-booth you would be ridiculous. please people, i can control myself in public. but i was kinda freaking out at how totally beautiful they looked.

the above picture was our godzilla roll. it wasn't on the menu but apparently if you request it they'll do it for ya. fortunately, taylor was all over that. unfortunately, we had no idea what it was besides that we got the option of shrimp or crab. we picked shrimp. it was rolled up with some avocado and then topped with albacore tuna and its white toro (after a google search, it's the fatty underbelly of tuna). then drizzled with some soy sauce and spicy mayo.

basically what i'm telling you is that i have been converted. i'm a sushi lover.

our other kind was called the extreme philly roll. with a name like that i assumed it was going to have mushrooms, peppers, onions, cheese, i don't know something that has anything to do with a philly? but no. it was rolled with salmon, avocado and cream cheese, then tempura battered and fried. crispy crunch on the outside and the creamy center satisfied just about every bone in my body. also drizzled with the spicy mayo and some other kind of asian soy glaze and sprinkled with green onions. wow. so great i don't even know why i waited so long to convince myself to try good quality sushi.

about 15 seconds after these beautiful rolls of rice and japanese wonder appeared on our table, taylor had already figured out that we would each get 4 of the godzilla rolls and 6 of the extreme philly. kinda seems like a lot of food right?

 i have no words for my gluttony. but in my defense, i'm pretty sure it's an insult in that culture to leave food on the plate.... right?

like any good restaurant like this, our meal ended with steaming hot towels and a fortune cookie informing me to express myself and teaching me how to say bowling in chinese. i already forgot how, but i feel if i ever travel to china, that would not be a word that i would think to myself, "dang! i forgot how to say bowling!" i digress...

looking back, i'll admit that i was more than a little hesitant. and i realize this is pretty basic stuff. no raw fish or eels creeping out anywhere. not yet at least...

thanks for an awesomely delicious and satisfying first quality sushi experience, taylor! love you!

Monday, October 3, 2011


maybe it was the fact that i just started a food blog. maybe it was the fact that i only had one class today and i felt the need to feel productive. maybe it was the fact that while i was munching on my raw, ranch-covered broccoli florets for lunch today, a caramelized onion mashed potato recipe was stumbled upon (as in i saw one in one of cookbooks, not the website that brings me to foodgawker everytime i just want to look at a few websites... there goes my afternoon.). or maybe my stomach was just growling a little louder than usual.

whichever the factor really was, ideas started flowing like i was standing in the grocery store, refrigerator doors were opening and closing like the lid of a freshly stocked cookie jar and onion skins were flying to every corner of my kitchen floor. i decided earlier today to pull a peppercorn-marinated pork tenderloin out of the freezer so i knew i had that to start with. mushrooms sounded delightful (when do they not?) and those mashed potatoes from earlier were still buzzing around in my head, so off i went. the end product: oven roasted peppercorn pork tenderloin with "porked-up" mushrooms. caramelized onion and garlic mashed potatoes. and some peas. :)

i started with caramelizing the onions because they have to be ready when the potatoes are done and i didn't want to rush them. onions like butter and heat but too much of either is not ideal.

if i told you i didn't sneak any out of the pan at this point, i'd be lying.

once i got the onions close, i moved to the main act. i cut the pork tenderloin in half so (a) it would cook faster and (b) it would fit in the little pan i decided to use. cookie sheets with no sides are not best friends with things that get juicy in the oven.

 i popped it in the oven at 400 degrees.

next step: potatoes. cut 'em up, throw 'em in a pot, and cover 'em in water. set to high. fork tender? done. easy as pie.

it was about at this point that i realized i needed to add something to the pork so it didn't seem like i just pulled it out of the freezer and stuck it in the oven.

mushrooms. but they need something. a sauce. or glaze. ahh yes.

 most of things i do with mushrooms are adding them to sauces for chicken or sauteing them for topping a steak. thinking back, a boss once told me that if you mixed beef stock and chicken stock you would get something that tasted like pork stock. at the time i thought that was the most ridiculous thing i had ever heard, but after some thought i went with it. the beefy-ness of worcestershire sauce + a little powdered chicken base i got from an Amish spice store = tangy and perfect for my peppery pork tenderloin. hence the "porked-up" name. i love thinking on my feet. YUM.

time to finish those long awaited smashed potatoes! onions, minced garlic, splash of milk, salt n peppa! and we're good to go.

put some elbow grease in and you have some gloriously silky smashed potatoes.
omggggkjdhaudfjksflerh let me tell you something. 
i'm not one of those cooks who knows they're really great cuz i know i screw stuff up, but let me just say something after making these potatoes: dang, i'm good.

finally the pork was done, so i took it out and let it rest a few minutes before i sliced it and topped with with the "porked-up" mushrooms.

i steamed some peas during all this, too, for some more veggies and an extra pop of color on the plate. i got it on the plate, snapped a quick picture and grabbed a fork.

this one's going in the stash of go-to recipes. you know it's good when i get back in the kitchen to clean up my mess and the leftover potatoes are still warm enough to nibble on. i dont think i put my fork down until every last mushroom was dragged through the delicious puddles of glory that always linger after a good home-cooked meal. :)