Saturday, February 1, 2014

3 Ingredient Apple Berry Muffins

Ok, ok, I know. Using a mix as an ingredient is kind of cheating. If you're offended by that, I'm sorry, but this is not the blog for you. But, you know what, I'm not sorry. You can make this for under 25 cents per muffin. That, my friends, isn't cheating. It's just plain street smarts.

You might notice the nifty silicon baking cups I used to make these. My incredible cousin got me these for Christmas and this was my first time baking with them. I must say, they are incredible. They're safe to put in the dishwasher, and they're SUPER cute. I still haven't decided if you're supposed to take your muffins or cupcakes out of the baking cups before serving them. The muffins popped right out, so I suppose that's by design? If anyone knows, please comment to let me know.
I chose to do blue and green colors today because of this little thing called the Super Bowl (you might have heard something about the Seahawks playing?). I'm a wee bit excited, even though I don't even have a TV to watch the game on. I'm lame, I know. So, in celebration of my team making it to the Super Bowl, these muffins include Seahawk colors and Washington state apples. The berries probably come from California, but whatever. As long as they didn't come from Colorado, I suppose I'm ok.

1 Mini Package of Betty Crocker Triple Berry Muffin Mix (makes 6 muffins)
1/4 Apple (I recommend Fuji or Honey Crisp)
1/8 teaspoon of Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (375 if using dark or non-stick pans, including these silicon cups).
Cut and core an apple, then use 1/4 of the apple (about 2 slices). Roughly cut off the skins (no need for precision here). Then dice or cube, depending on how large you want the pieces of apples to be.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together muffin mix, apple, baking soda, and water. Let sit while the oven preheats. The baking soda should neutralize the acid in the apple twice, once when combined and sitting, then once when it is heated in the oven. Baking is a science, yo!
Once the oven has heated, spoon mix evenly into 6 baking cups (paper or silicon). Then place in the oven for 16-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.
Allow them to cool, then serve and enjoy.

These were delicious muffins. And the perfect amount for a college student or single bachelor. No waste here. And now you'll have a few days worth of on-the-go breakfasts, snacks, or healthy treats.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

College Monte Cristo

I always find myself throwing away the heels to my bread, which is ridiculously wasteful. The way I think of it, I probably waste about a loaf or two every year, simply because I don't eat the heels. But, I mean, it's not my fault the heel is so gross. So what is a girl supposed to do? Well, now I've got an answer. This solution stems very, very loosely from a recipe by Closet Cooking. And, all of my ingredients were purchased on sale, which is always a plus. The ham, for example, was on sale for $5 a pound at the deli department, where I was able to request a thicker cut than standard deli meat. I should specify that this recipe doesn't need to be made with the heels of bread, but rather can be. But, I mean, you have 2 heels that you're going to throw away anyway, why not use them?

1 egg
A splash of milk (1/8 of a cup to 1/4 cup)
2 heels of bread (I used sourdough bread)
1 slice of thick cut ham (or a serving of thin sliced ham)
1 1/2 pieces of Colby Jack cheese
1 Tablespoon of butter

Prepare sandwich with 2 heels of bread, a slice and a half of cheese, and ham.
Whisk together the egg and milk in a bowl wide enough for a piece of bread.
Warm a frying pan over medium heat with 1 Tablespoon of butter.
As the frying pan heats, dip the sandwich in the egg-milk mix. Then flip it over and dip the other side, much like with french toast.
Next, grill the sandwich, much like a grilled cheese sandwich. The sandwich is ready when both sides of the bread are slightly crispy, and the cheese has melted. Remove from the heat and cut in half.
With the left over egg-milk mixture, you might combine with salt, pepper, or other seasoning and make milky scrambled eggs as a side dish. 

This sandwich is delicious and uses a lot of ingredients that you already have in your in your kitchen. I think this will be my new way of using up the heels of bread. Try it. It just might be yours too!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Seafood Alfredo

I found a GREAT deal the other day: a mix of fresh seafood for only $1.50! The mix contained squid, cuttlefish tentacle, shrimped, mussels, and, unfortunately, imitation crab. I eventually just took out the imitation crab. I had no idea it was possible to get so much seafood for so cheap. It was enough for about 3 or 4 servings. I would highly recommend purchasing a seafood mix like this, but making sure it has very little imitation crab (so that you can throw it away without guilt).

1 Mix of Seafood (I picked mine up at the Safeway meat and seafood department)
1 jar of Alfredo sauce
About 1/3 of a box of noodles (I prefer shell noodles with this sort of dish)
1-2 Tablespoons of butter

First, cook your seafood in a frying pan with butter, over a medium low heat. Look at how tasty it is.

As you heat your seafood, boil the water for your pasta. If all is timed well, the you should be adding your noodles to the water at the same time as you begin mixing together your sauce.
Once the seafood is cooked, strain the butter and combine with a jar of Alfredo sauce. Then heat over a medium heat, stirring often. You may add garlic salt, Italian seasoning, or any other flavor you might desire.
When the noodles are tender, strain them. Then serve and enjoy.

This was a delicious way to begin the semester. I made this once, then took the leftovers and stretched it out over a couple of very busy days. It could be better improved by adding a second jar of sauce (I prefer to combine 1 jar of light Alfredo sauce with 1 jar of regular Alfredo). There was definitely enough seafood to double the sauce.
I am very much looking forward to another great semester full of terrific food and fantastic courses. Of course, I'm sure in a couple weeks when I'm taking exams and writing papers, I'll have a completely different opinion of this semester. Until then, though, I am thrilled to be back.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

And the Winning Pie is...


It was requested that I just go ahead and make both pies for Thanksgiving. And, although it required carrying about 10 pounds of pie in one arm, and a suitcase in the other, 1 mile to the bus, on the bus, and on the train all the way home, I think it was worth it. Everybody loved these pies.

Here are some pictures of the pies. I made them according to the recipes I previously posted (Blackberry Apple Pie and Caramel Apple Pie). Following the recipe I posted earlier (which includes more flower than I originally used), the slices of pie came out cleanly and the filling wasn't like soup. These two recipes are definitely ones to follow in the future.

 Berry Apple Pie

The berry apple pie featured the same pie crust as I used with my Triple Berry Pie. The design, however, was slightly different. This design featured an autumn tree with autumn leaf designs on the tree and on the edge of the crust. I used these cookie cutters for both of these pies.

Caramel Apple Pie

Using the same pie crust recipe, I created a latticed top on this pie. I used leaf shaped dough on the lattice, and created a pattern using apple shapes and acorn shapes on the edge of the pie.

It was a fabulous Thanksgiving. These pies were a delicious ending to an incredible feast. Everyone won with these pies.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spinach Au Gratin

You probably already know that spinach is good for you. And I'm probably the only person in the world who actually likes it. But even if you don't, or especially if you don't, this spinach au gratin recipe is perfect for you. What's better than covering a vegetable with cheese? Making it low-fat and guilt free, that's what.
This recipe is adapted from Skinny Taste, which was a makeover recipe from Barefoot Contessa. Both recipes say it's the perfect recipe for the holidays. And I believe them. However, it's also good to make as a mini-meal or side dish. In fact, I reheated a large helping of it for dinner last night and was fully satisfied. It also went great with sweet apple chicken sausage. Make it on Sunday and reheat it for the next week and you'll be a well fed college student.

4 Tablespoons of light butter
1 cup of finely chopped onion (about half an onion)
1/4 cup of flour
1/3 teaspoon of nutmeg
3 cups of fat free or low fat milk
3 pounds (3 16-oz packages) of chopped spinach, defrosted.
3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon of salt
Black pepper (to taste, 1/2 teaspoon is recommended, but I didn't use any at all)
3/4 cup of shredded Swiss Gruyere cheese

First, drain the previously frozen but now defrosted spinach. To do this, put one bag at a time into a strainer and mash it with a potato masher, large slotted spoon, or a fork, to drain all the excess liquid. Move to a large bowl and then do the next bag. Alternatively, the comment section on the Skinny Taste post had the suggestion of using a potato ricer. Do whatever you have to do to drain as much liquid as you can from the spinach.
Next, melt the butter in a large saute pan. Saute the onions over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Then, add the flour and the nutmeg. Cook for about 2 more minutes while stirring occasionally.
After 2 minutes, add the milk. Cook for about 5 more minutes, while the mixture thickens.
At this point you should begin to preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Then, slowly stir the spinach into the mixture. Add in 1/2 a cup of Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of Swiss Gruyere cheese..
Next, spoon this into a large casserole dish. Spread it evenly, then cover with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan and 1/2 cup of Swiss Gruyere cheeses.
Then, place on the center rack of your oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and it becomes hot and bubbly. You'll be able to tell when it's ready, don't worry.
Allow to cool slightly before serving. And enjoy. My goodness you should enjoy this recipe because it is delicious.

I'm still trying to decide if it's worth trying to make this on Thanksgiving. It is not the kind of dish that can be prepared ahead of time and I don't want to crowd an already crowded kitchen. However, I do highly suggest this recipe and I recommend trying it if you have the time and the kitchen ability.
This is definitely not a dorm-friendly recipe. But it is good for any student living off-campus or anyone trying to prepare something when they are home for the holidays.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Grown Up Mac and Dogs

Ok, so you already know how much I love sweet apple chicken sausage. But, you should know that my absolute favorite food in the whole wide world is four cheese corkscrew pasta, you know like the kind that comes from a box? I guess I have a pretty simple palate. When I was little, my mom used to make Mac and Dogs, using four cheese corkscrew pasta, sliced up hot dogs, about 1/2 a Tablespoon of Dijon mustard. As a kid, I would have eaten the whole pot if my mom didn't stop me.
Now that I'm all grown up, the only thing that stops me from eating a whole pot is the fact that I would like to fit all of my jeans tomorrow, please. Well, that and the fact that until recently I could no find any Pasta-Roni four cheese corkscrew pasta. Which is horribly depressing because it's my favorite food in the whole wide world. The other day, just by happy coincidence, I was shopping at a different grocery store. And while I was in the mac and cheese aisle, I happened upon a small collection of that beautiful blue box. It wasn't with the Rice-A-Roni, or with pasta, but with the mac and cheese, right under a box of Velveeta mac and cheese.
So, of course, I bought a box, even though it wasn't on sale or anything. And right away I decided to make some for dinner. But, when I got home I realized I didn't have any hot dogs. Woah is me, right? So, I decided to try it with sweet apple chicken sausage instead. And I must say, it tasted better this way.

1 box of four cheese corkscrew noodles (I used Pasta-Roni)
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups of milk
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 sweet apple chicken sausage, sliced
1/2 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard * (Optional)

First, bring the water, milk, and butter to a boil. Yes, it does actually have to be 1 1/2 cups of water. Be precise.
As it comes to a boil, heat and prepare chicken sausage. I used a pre-cooked sausage this time, which meant it just had to be microwaved for a minute.
Once it is boiling, slowly add the noodles and special seasoning. Return this to a boil.
Reduce heat to a medium heat and boil, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently.
After 7 minutes, stir in the slices of chicken sausage. If desired, add in the mustard at this point as well. Let sit for about 5 minutes while the sauce thickens. Be patient with this because it makes all the difference.

If I was on death row and had one last meal before I died, I would probably request this. And steak. And lobster. And cake. And cookies. And cookie dough ice cream. And whipped cream. And an entire container of sprinkles. I would cause a lot of trouble if I was on death row.
Anyway, I highly recommend that you try this recipe. It's simple, but it's delicious. Sometimes simple is good.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Battle of the Pies

So, as you probably have read, I have been making pies in preparation for Thanksgiving. And I can't decide which one to make. I narrowed it down to two: Caramel Apple Pie and Blackberry Apple Pie. But now I need your help. Which of these wonderful pies should I make? Fill out the survey here to give your opinion, and voice any questions or comments in the comment section below (or on the posts for either of the pies).
And now, some information about our contenders.

Contender Number 1 is quite rich. He blends well with the other rich fall flavors to be expected at Thanksgiving, including pumpkin and pecan pies. If you weren't full before dessert, you will be after eating this pie. Completed with caramel drizzle, this pie is sure to be enjoyed until your gut explodes, which is both good and bad. Contender Number 1 is certainly a heavy weight Thanksgiving Pie, both in richness of flavor and caloric weight.

Contender Number 2 is a humble fellow. He isn't rich, which makes him unique on the Thanksgiving desert table. What he lacks in richness, Contender number 2 makes up for with a certain tart sweetness. Unlike Contender Number 1, Contender Number 2 is patient and is therefore willing to wait until a more appropriate season before being devoured.

So, who will win in this ultimate battle of the pies? Only time and a survey will tell.