Monday, September 28, 2009

Teriyaki Beef Bowls

When I went to Ralph's last week, they didn't have the cut of beef I was looking for so I bought something else. Then, I was at Whole Foods and they had exactly what I wanted and it was way on sale.

So, today I was trying to think of a recipe to make with the beef I bought and didn't really want from Ralphs (boneless top round steak). I found an old bottle of teriyaki marinade in my refrigerator and then looked at the expiration date - August 2007 . . . yikes! I tossed it in the trash and went through some of my recipes and found an old recipe for a Teriyaki Marinade, made some adjustments, and marinated the meat.

We grilled it to about medium and sliced it thinly. I prepared brown rice, steamed some broccoli, red bell pepper, and onion, and made these teriyaki bowls. They were very satisfying and the marinade was flavorful. You can adjust the vegetables to your liking or make a vegetarian version by marinating a grilling some veggies instead of the steak.

Teriyaki Marinade (makes 1.5 cups)

1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. sugar
2 T worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 T white wine vinegar
2 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 T dried onion flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 T sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. Marinate meat or vegetables 2 hours before grilling.

For the Bowls (2 servings)

Marinate about 1 pound of steak (flank steak, skirt steak, etc would work well) in the marinade for a few hours (or overnight). Make 2 cups of brown rice. Steam some broccoli, red pepper, onion or other vegetables (mushrooms, bean sprouts, zucchini). Grill the steak to your liking and slice thinly against the grain. Put the rice in a bowl, top with the vegetables, and then the beef. Sprinkle with soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Happy Birthday to Mom

When I was growing up, the six of us sat down to a home-cooked dinner nearly every night. It's only as an adult that I realize what work and commitment this took on the part of my mom to think of a menu each week and do all the cooking. Spaghetti on Monday nights because of Boy Scout meetings, schnitta when there were lots of strawberries at farmer's market, hot cooked egg casseroles and cheese danish on Saturdays or Sundays when we had house guests from Connecticut . . . I don't remember helping her cook much and I'm not proud to say that I do remember complaining about setting or clearing the table.

At the dinner table, we had lively discussions and games and my parents tried to each us manners. I remember a period of time where we had a star chart for each night that none of us 4 kids left the table during dinner. What did we eventually earn? I think it was a bunny.

My mom is a good sport. Paula remembers her spending 8 dollars on imitation rum for her buche de noel and then she and her friends forgot to use it so it sat in the cupboard for years. Kurt remembers the amazing school lunches, in brown bags, waiting for us every day with what we each liked to eat. Mom made me egg salad sandwiches for two or three years straight when that's all I wanted. I think it was Kurt or Paula who liked peanut butter and fluff (marshmallow cream) and there was often a silver disk of a ding-dong or a twinkie at the bottom of those lunches.

On birthdays, we got to pick the meal we wanted for dinner and had a double layer, frosted cake with our names written in icing on the top. On Halloween, we carved pumpkins and mom roasted the seeds. At Christmas, we decorated sugar cookies and mom made homemade carmel corn and at Easter, we dyed eggs (more egg salad sandwiches).

Today, my mom compliments my cooking, pays for my subscription to Cooking Light, and comments on my blog. She's kept our family dinners going and inspires me with new recipes and ideas. I think she enjoys cooking today more than she did in the past and it's something we enjoy doing together. Happy Birthday, mom. I love you!

And, here's what I'm making mom for her birthday dessert: Ice cream sandwiches, of course.

I'm making plain oatmeal cookies for the cookie part and my friend Amber's peanut butter ice cream for the filling. If you're making the ice cream just to eat, stir in a cup of Trader Joe's mini peanut butter cups (or chopped up Reese's peanut butter cups) in the last 5 minutes before the ice cream comes out of the machine.

Peanut Butter Ice cream

1 1/8 cups smooth peanut butter (not natural)
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
1 cup heavy cream (the original calls for 2 cups & no 1/2 & 1/2)
1 1/2 +/- teaspoons vanilla

Use a hand mixer to combine the peanut butter & sugar until smooth. Add the milk and mix 1-2 min. Add the cream, 1/2 & 1/2 and vanilla - mix until combined. Turn on machine, pour in mix, 25 - 35 min until thick. Ice cream will be creamy but soft, freeze if firmer texture is desired.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Peace Offering

Lately I'm afraid I've annoyed someone who never liked me that much to begin with. And, I'm a really likable person. Now, this someone has a lot of control in a situation and I'm trying to get back in his good graces. Although we're paying him and he's good at his job, I still want him to like us and do a really, really good job for us. So, I'm baking cookies.

If you want someone to like you, to make a new friend, or to smooth things over, try this recipe. None of that sugar-free healthy baking this time around (okay, I couldn't help myself and didn't use all white flour). No, this is the good stuff. I'll let you know if it works!

Side note: These would be awesome for making ice cream sandwiches!

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Oatmeal Cookies (makes 3 dozen)

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (can use all regular flour if you want)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips (can use all chocolate if you can't find these but they're sooo good)
1 cup quick or old-fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. In a mixing bowl cream the butter. Add the sugars and cream until fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg. Alternately add the milk and flour mixture at a lower speed. Stir in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and oats.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the center is still soft and the edges are crisp and the cookies are lightly browned. Cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

Update: Our meeting was cancelled but the cookies still taste good.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Buttermilk Waffles

How do you like your waffles? I like them with berries and plain yogurt. Or, cream cheese and lemon curd. I usually put applesauce or pure maple syrup on my daughter's. My husband likes warm fake syrup and melted butter. Our friend from Dallas ate hers with fake syrup and peanut butter. Any way you top them, waffles are so good.

While I've yet to muster the courage to make the liege waffles I had in Eugene, I tried a new recipe this weekend. My favorite at-home waffles have been these ones but once I used up my last batch of Bisquick, I resolved myself to making breakfast goodies without processed mixes and trans fats.

I looked at Martha Stewart's buttermilk waffle recipe but since it calls for one entire stick of melted butter, I went with Alton Brown's. I liked that he used half whole-wheat flour but most of the spices (and the almond extract) are my additions.

Verdict: Not as crisp as I like (my waffle maker or the recipe? I'm not sure) and a little more dense than the ones I make with club soda but good flavor. I'd like to try replacing half the buttermilk with club soda and see how that turns out.

Basic Waffle Recipe (from Alton Brown - serves 4)

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
3 whole eggs, beaten
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
16 ounces buttermilk, room temperature

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl beat together eggs and melted butter, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the iron according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Close iron top and cook until the waffle is golden on both sides and is easily removed from iron. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

PS - For those of you who are gluten-free, I've been looking for a gluten-free waffle recipe and I'll post one when I try it out.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ranch Mashed Potatoes

At a family dinner last February, we had these potatoes and the recipe was a real winner - even my husband who doesn't really like potatoes loved it. The combination of spices was great and I liked the bits of red potato peel. It was pretty light - less than 200 calories per serving and only 3 T of butter. If you need potatoes to go with those steaks you're grilling this weekend, you can make these without turning on the oven. I can't think of any changes I would make to the recipe so here it is (originally from Cooking Light 11/07):

Ranch Mashed Potatoes - (10-12 servings)


13 cups cubed red potato (about 4 pounds)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried dill

Place potato in a big pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Put the lid on and simmer 20-30 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place potato in a large bowl and add all the other ingredients. Mash with a potato masher to desired consistency.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chocolate Snack Cakes

Lisa recently let me borrow "The Sweet Life in Paris" by David Lebovitz and it's been a great read. Just like Lisa said, it makes you want to be an ex-pat in another country and makes you dream about baking, cooking, and ice cream constantly. Today, I made the Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes. I needed to bake something for several different occasions (brother-in-law's birthday, friends coming over, weekend guest) and kept forgetting to buy butter at the grocery story (Julia Child is rolling over in her grave). The Chocolate Snack Cakes - doesn't that sound cute? - were the perfect solution.

I had all the ingredients on hand and although I didn't use great quality chocolate (TJ's semi-sweet chocolate chips) and I should have taken them out of the oven 2 or 3 minutes sooner, they have a distinctly chocolate-almond flavor and are light for a chocolate dessert. Not quite a cupcake, not quite a muffin - truly a snack cake and just what I needed today.

Here's the recipe on Smitten Kitchen. I forgot the salt and lived dangerously by melting the chocolate over low heat (not in a double boiler) but otherwise, followed it exactly. Mine were done in 23 minutes but I should have checked them around 20 minutes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feels like Fall

While I've yet to make a pot of soup and I'm still not back to school (hooray for teaching on the quarter system), the first Monday Night Football, my first pumpkin spice latte, and my first batch of granola since spring made it feel like fall. While we watched the games last night, we enjoyed something we started making this summer: pizza on the grill.

Anything on the grill makes for less clean up in the kitchen and pizza tastes great this way. Our friend Will makes awesome grilled pizzas and our first try at family dinner was this appetizer. You can easily serve both vegetarians and meat-eaters by making two different kinds and we made a plain cheese one for my daughter.

If you want to try it, I don't have a specific recipe but rather some guidelines.

Grilled Pizza

#1: Preheat the grill until it's good and hot and oil the grill rack.

#2: Trader Joe's premade pizza doughs are awesome but be sure and follow the directions and let the dough rest out of the refrigerator before using it.

#3: Put the dough on the grill and wait until it's all bubbly. Flip it and quickly add the toppings. Close the lid until the dough is done, the cheese is melted, and it's all bubbly and delicious looking.

#4: Cook any meat or vegetable toppings ahead of time. Last night, I caramelized onions and sauteed bell peppers and mushrooms ahead of time. It'll taste better than raw vegetables since the pizza gets done quicker than in the oven. Last night's pizza making session was a little intense trying to get the toppings on the dough quickly.

#5: Use a variety of sauces and cheeses . . . think bbq chicken pizza or pesto instead of a red sauce or gorgonzola cheese - the possibilities are endless.

#6: When you take the pizza off the grill, let it cool a couple of minutes before slicing. I like to slide it right onto a cookie sheet or pizza stone so I can cut it with the pizza slicer thing (what do you call that?)

Go Chargers!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The food you eat before your food

"Appetizers are food you eat before your food to make you more hungry." - Eric Cartman

I don't often make appetizers; when I entertain, my go-to is cut up veggies with some sort of dip or a cheese platter with olives or something like that so I can focus on the other courses. But, I like to make appetizers when I'm going somewhere and that's the only thing I have to think about. I've long been a fan of my aunt's 7 Layer Dip with beans, guacamole, sour cream, avocado, tomatoes etc. and this recipe is another version of that. I saw a recipe in July 08 Better Homes and Gardens that was similar which gave me the idea for it.

It's easy to make your own pita chips to go with this - cut pita bread into wedges and put them in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with olive oil spray. Spray the chips with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or until they're slightly brown and chip consistency. I do this with leftover pita all the time so that it doesn't start growing mold.

Layered Greek Dip (makes 2 1/2 cups)

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. dried Greek seasoning (you can use an Italian seasoning blend)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups prepared hummus
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Pita chips for dipping

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, lemon juice, Greek or Italian seasoning, and garlic with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and combined.

Spread the cream cheese mixture into a deep 9-inch pie plate, or shallow serving dish. Evenly spread hummus on cream cheese layer. Top with cucumber, tomato, olives, and feta cheese. Serve with pita chips. You can make it ahead, cover it, and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.

*I haven't tried it yet but I bet you could use goat cheese instead of the cream cheese.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dole Whip

Have you ever experienced the magic of Dole Whip at Disneyland? Right outside of the Tiki Room in Adventureland is a little stand that sells this pineapple soft serve and it's SO GOOD. About six months ago, my sister sent me this link (make sure your volume is up!) and I have thought about it ever since. I ordered the mix from the website and it's been sitting on the pantry shelf in my basement and this past weekend, I pulled out the ice cream maker and whipped up 4 batches. Yes, 6 quarts of this pineapple goodness, all in honor of my daughter's Enchanted Tiki Room birthday party.

FYI - Mom and others . . . the manufacturer says it's "lactose free and low fat" so you can feel good about your indulgence!

It was a huge hit and there's not much to the recipe - add water to the Dole mix and freeze in your ice cream maker - so I'll share a poem instead.

Ode to a Dole Whip by Matthew Walker

oh, luscious frozen treat
how i crave
your pineappley goodness
that makes me rave

swirled high inside the bowl
like a yellow mountain high
I use my spoon to lap you up
before letting out a yummy sigh

the line to savor your tasty goodness
can sometimes block the way to adventureland
and while I may have wait in that 30-minute line
I truly can't wait to get you in my hand

others may prefer the more prevalent snacks
of cinnamon-sugary churros and salty popcorn
but given my druthers of what to eat
I want the one shaped like the matterhorn

(Photo and poem used by permission from Matt Walker)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

BBQ Beef Sandwiches

Tonight I finally asked my husband if he was sick of having this for dinner. Luckily, he doesn't have a great memory and told me that we don't have them very often. I've made this recipe a couple times a month all summer and I still love it. The great part is that it's super easy and by using the slow cooker, you don't need to turn on your stove or oven.

I know that I could make my own barbecue sauce (if you have a good recipe, email me at but I've been using bottled. One big lesson I learned is that a lot of commercially made BBQ sauces have high fructose corn syrup (as the first or second ingredient!) in them. So, I've switched from "Sweet Baby Ray's" which I had to doctor up with hot sauce and dijon mustard anyways to cut the sweetness to the Trader Joe's Hickory Smoke kind. Yeah, I know it seems weird to cook anything smoke-flavored if you live in the San Gabriel Valley and are smelling and seeing smoke all day from the fires.

For those of you who don't love BBQ sauce (Stephanie), or can't stomach it during wild fire season, I'll put my variation on this recipe with no hint of BBQ of any kind at the bottom of the recipe.

BBQ Beef Sandwiches (4-6 servings depending on the exact size of the cut of meat)

3 lbs beef, roasting cut (I usually use rump roast or brisket)
A can of beer
1/2 onion, sliced (optional)
1/2 bell pepper, sliced (optional)
1 - 2 cups bottled BBQ sauce
olive oil
salt and pepper

Put your beef in a crockpot and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn it over and do the same to the other side. Sprinkle the onion and bell pepper over the top (if using) and pour about half a can of beer over the top - just so it's surrounded in the crock pot but not totally immersed. Cook it for 6-8 hours. I usually do 4 hours on high and another 1-2 hours on low.

You're waiting for the beef to shred apart easily with two forks. At this point, scoop out most of the liquid (from the beer and the juice of the meat), shred the beef, and add the BBQ sauce. Stir in the BBQ sauce until it's as saucy as you like it and then leave it in the crock pot on low until it's all warmed through. Serve on bread, hamburger buns, in pita, with tortillas, or by itself. The leftovers are great.

Tip: If there's a lot of fat on the surface of your meat, don't cut it off. Before you shred the beef, take a pair of tongs and scrape it off the surface and throw it out. It'll make the meat more tender but you don't have to eat all the fatty parts.

Variation: Along with the onion, pepper, beer, salt and pepper, add 4 cloves of garlic (minced), 1T oregano, 1/2 tsp parsley, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. thyme, some crushed red pepper, a bay leaf, 1/2 cup of sliced pepperoncinis and 1/4 c. juices from the pepperoncini jar. When you shred the meat, don't discard as much of the liquid. Serve it on toasted italian or French bread with the juice, more pepperoncinis, and slices of provolone cheese. I've been told that this is "Italian pot roast."