May the feasts be ever in your favor

So this is what I do when I’m not worrying about work or writing….

I started my meal prep yesterday… I’m going for a small, alternative Thanksgiving feast.

My menu: Turkey Lasagna with Spinach and Pumpkin Tiramisu

I made a few alterations, adding cream sherry instead of rum to the tiramisu, and some red peppers and olives to the lasagna’s meat sauce, but stuck to the rest of the ingredients.

The tiramisu is extremely easy to make, just takes some time for the whipping cream to turn into… well… cream. Other than that, it’s just a matter of layering it all nice and pretty :)

I used my trifle dish instead of the springform pan listed in the recipe, and sprinkled chopped pecans instead of cookies for the presentation.

Thanksgiving prep time

I just finished the meat sauce for the main dish, but I’m going to prepare the layers later today and then cart myself over to my mom’s house for the actual baking. Should be quite impressive when it’s all put together.

Here’s the sauce… it’s a lot thicker than I expected, which is good. I was concerned that it would be too watery.

Thanksgiving prep time

And because I can’t help myself, there will be a traditional pumpkin pie… just waiting to bake it at my mom’s place. There will also be some extra dishes courtesy of the boy.

Recipe: Dulce de Coco

I really do. Thanks to my grandpa and his friend, we have a lovely bunch of green coconuts to enjoy. So while the coconut water flows, we have an abundance of fresh coconut meat… I already made a batch of macaroons, but I wanted to try something different with some of the grated coconut. I thought there must be some way to make something similar to rice pudding but with coconut, but my searches turned up very few recipes that made use of fresh coconut rather than dried. Then, a stroke of genius… I decided to search in Spanish. After all, the best coconut deserts I’ve had are all Hispanic. Voila! I found the just what I was looking for on a forum for a Dominican recipe site: Dulce de Coco. A tasty treat, similar to rice pudding, but featuring delectable coconut goodness.

I adapted the recipe to suit my needs and it turned out wonderfully sweet and full of coconut flavor. A great treat if you have some fresh coconut.

Dulce de Coco

Adapted by Gricel from La Cocina de la Tía Clara, Cocina Dominicana

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups of 2% milk
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups fresh, grated coconut (I’m sure unsweetened baking coconut also works)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • ¼ cup raisins (optional)

Preparation

Mix the milk, coconut, sugar, cinnamon stick, and raisins (optional) in a medium pan, on low heat.

Stir occasionally to keep the coconut from sticking to the bottom and burning.

Allow to boil until the mixture thickens, the consistency should be similar to rice pudding.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. It will thicken further as it cools.

Note on the cooking time: I set it on medium-low heat for a little over an hour and a half. The original recipe said it would take 25 minutes, but I halved the recipe and it still took more than twice as long before it reached the desired consistency.

Playing with food: Leftovers

In an effort to waste-not want-not, I’ve been trying to get creative with leftovers.

little mac!

little mac!

Tonight’s experiment: The Littlest Macaroni Bake. And it really was little, baked in a very small glass baking dish, but quite hearty.

I had some of my grandma’s picadillo (Spanish-style ground beef… well, Cuban-style in this case) left over from Sunday night’s dinner, so I thought I’d give it a try. I don’t eat much meat anymore, but I’m a bit of a flexitarian, so I will have the occasional beefy meal. After last week’s of tofu-based meals, and several days worth of soup and toast, this was a nice change.

I boiled up half a cup of macaroni, then mixed it with about 1/4 cup tomato & basil pasta sauce, the picadillo, and a few pieces of chopped mozarrella (er… string cheese, it was all I had in the fridge but it served its purpose) and tomato. Then I baked it at 300 for about 30 minutes–the dish was so small, I didn’t want to burn it.

Overall, a nice, quick meal and enough to share with mum and gran.

recipe: meat and vegetable lasagna

Meat and Vegetable Lasagna – Created September 4, 2009

I asked my b-chan if he would like to have something different for Friday dinner, (I’ve been trying to save money by eating in and I like having control over what goes into my meals) and he suggested lasagna. I’ve watched my mom make lasagna countless times and I love the result, but I had never attempted to make on myself, so I took this as a sort of personal cooking challenge. I wanted to not just make my first lasagna, I wanted it to be a recipe of my own devising.

Based on the different lasagnas I have tried in the past, I picked my favorite ingredients and a few of my own choosing—flavors that I felt would go well together and enhance the simplicity of the usual layers. I also wanted it to be “lighter” than the ones I’ve tried in the past. Obviously, a dish that comes in layers will never be light, but I tried to balance it a bit. I also wanted to make it smaller than the giant 9” x 13” casserole that my mom usually makes, so I used an 8” x 8” dish so that it could be divided into 9 modest portions (enough for seconds for four people). I reduced some of the fat content by using lean ground beef and fat free Ricotta cheese (ground turkey or chicken can be substituted for lighter options, but I was serving a meat-loving crowd).

I wrote the steps down as I prepared the meal, but the measurements are approximations as I usually combine ingredients based on visual measurements (meaning I just toss things in according to my own taste). I’m not as brave with baking—I don’t want to end up with gigantic cookies or flat cake—but I feel more experimental with meals.

Continue reading for the recipe and images.

Continue reading

lots of doughy goodness

I’m fairly broke at the moment, so I decided to treat my mom and gran to a home-cooked dinner rather than take them out to eat. I’m in for a long day of cooking, having started with dessert early this morning and some fresh breakfast treats for tomorrow.

Dinner is still a few hours away, so I’m taking a break :) .

I started the day by making Mostaciolli, an Italian chocolate spice cookie that I found on Delish. The picture reminded me of the German spice cookies that my mom’s cousin sends us every Christmas, so I thought it’d be a treat to make these. The cookies wer easy to make, but the steps involved are very specific. It’s one of those recipes that you really have to read beforehand if you’re going to mix things properly. The dough also gets very thick and dense, so it can be a bit difficult if you don’t have a powerful mixer (and I do not have a powerful mixer, which is why I now owe my mom a new one :oops: ). The cookies smell lovely, though I replaced cloves with nutmeg as my mom does not like the taste of cloves, and they look wonderfully chocolatey–like bonbons.

Fresh out of the oven

mostaccioli1

covered with chocolate glaze

mostaccioli2

I also decided to take a risk and try my hand at making english muffins based on a recipe that I found on Annie’s Eats. Annie’s recipes tend to be very easy to follow and always turn out great, so I took a chance and finally got to use that Whole Wheat flour that I bought by mistake during the last baking extravaganza (re: Christmas baked gift giving week).

Again, the steps are the most involved part of this recipe… unless you don’t have that mixer… I ended up hand kneading these, but they still managed to turn out  as they should.

Browning on the skillet

engmuff1

Piping fresh :)

engmuff2

cooking for 1

I’ve been experimenting with food recently, mostly in an effort to find ways to spice up bland chicken meals. Tonight I tried my own take on a Mexican Chicken Salad and it was very tasty… though I completely forgot to top it off with sour cream :( for shame.

I’m not good at writing up recipes, since I don’t measure anything, but here’s my Mexi-Chicki salad “recipe” for one.

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced.

about 1/2 cup of black beans (seasoned).

about 2 tbsp chunky salsa.

Season the chicken with chili powder, black pepper, cumin and lime juice to taste.

Add a few pieces of sliced onions and red bell pepper.

Heat this up with some olive oil.

Make a nice bed of greens, layer on the salsa and the beans (and light sour cream. ack! I can’t believe I forgot this). Add on the chicken and voila!

I also made myself a nice little quesadilla to go along with it by melting some reduced fat, shredded Mexican cheese in a fajita tortilla.

Overall, it was quick and easy and the flavors blended well. I found that the red bell pepper added an extra something to the flavor combination. If I had some tomatoes, I would have added those as well.

it’s not pink, it’s salmon

I made a lovely baked salmon for tonight’s dinner, but I completely overestimated how much I would need to feed everyone (and by everyone, I mean the three of us that live in my home). What can I possibly do with the leftovers? I’m not a big salmon fan, I just had a sudden craving for it. Having never cooked it myself, I did not expect that it would go such a long way.

Salmon leftover ideas anyone?