Sunday, May 31, 2009

Holy Guacamole!

Here is a quick, easy, and delightfully satisfying recipe for Guacamole. If paired with Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory Chips (preferably the lime ones), people will not be able to keep their hands off it. All my leftovers have mysteriously disappeared in less than 24 hours... (sorry there are no pictures... people really wanted that guacamole yesterday, there was no time!)

  • 4 RIPE Avocados
  • 2 Tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 of a white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 limes
  • a whole bunch of fresh cilantro
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • a couple dashes of cayenne pepper
  1. Mash the meat of an avocado in a medium sized bowl with a fork.
  2. Add in the diced tomatoes, diced onion, and minced garlic, further mash with a fork.
  3. Roll a lime on a counter top (to loosen up the juices), cut in half and squeeze onto the avocado mixture.
  4. Cut a good amount of the leaves off a bunch of cilantro, give those a rough chop, then toss into the avocado mixture and mass further with a fork.
  5. Grind in a whole bunch (well, not THAT much...but a lot) of fresh ground pepper. Then comes the almighty (and flavor enhancing) ingredient: Kosher Salt! Add in the kosher salt. Finally, a few dashes of cayenne pepper.
  6. Grab a chip and take a nice big scoop of your freshly made guacamole!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grasshopper Brownies

Layered To Devour.

This recipe technically consists of three recipes, but it is so worth it. Imagine... mint chocolate chip ice cream but in a brownie form. Thought such magical things didn't exist? Well, they do! And let me lead you down a path of enlightenment towards grasshopper brownies!

Ingredients for Brownie Layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Ingredients for Mint Ganache Layer:

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 10 oz fine-quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 2.5 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Green food coloring (optional)

Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache Layer:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 10 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped

Brownie Assembly:

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt the butter in a microwave in 30 second increments on full power until butter is fully melted. Transfer melted butter to a large bowl and beat in sugar with a fork until fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs one at a time until well combined, then beat in vanilla extract.
  4. Beat/Stir in cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan...and give the batter bowl and spatula to a loyal follower and allow them to lick them bowl. They'll be so generous they'll repay you somehow later.
  5. Bake for about 27 minutes. Let the brownies cool on the counter for approx an hour, then put them in the freeze so they can 'firm up'

Mint Ganache Assembly:

Bring cream to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over white chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Stir in peppermint extract (and some green food coloring if you want it to look 'minty') and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 1 hour.

Chocolate Ganache Assembly:

Bring cream to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over bittersweet chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 30 minutes.


Spread mint ganache over top of cooled brownie in a thin even layer using offset spatula, then chill until firm but still slightly sticky, about 30 minutes.

Spread chocolate ganache over mint and chill until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into squares and sucumb to the magic of mint and chocolate.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Happy (belated) Memorial Day! Yesterday was filled with a lot (a lot) of cooking. I went to the grocery store at 9am, started cooking at 10:30am, and finally finished around 3:30 pm. No breaks.

Over the next few days I will be posting these recipes: Eggplant Parmesan, Tomato Sauce (for the eggplant parm), Pesto Sauce, Grasshopper Brownies, and a mint chocolate garnish. Now, you will be pesto! This is a potent pesto that will delightfully coat pasta or be a nice sauce for pizza (recipe for that later).

- 3 cups of (packed) basil leaves
- 6 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1/3 cup of toasted pine nuts
- 1/3 (ish) cup of olive oil
- 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (grated)
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Rough chop the basil, then place in a food processor with the garlic and combine until a smooth paste is formed. Add in pine nuts and combine.

2. While the food processor is still running, drizzle in the olive oil.

3. Transfer basil/garlic paste to a bowl and mix in parmesan cheese with a fork. Once well combined, add salt and pepper until it tastes 'good.' I personally put in a good amount of salt (maybe a 1/2 TBSP...maybe more...who knows, I don't really measure).

4. Enjoy! If kept in an airtight container, the pesto should keep in a fridge for a while (a couple weeks to a couple months)

Maybe if I'm up to it, I'll post another recipe tonight.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Indian Twist

Once upon a time I had a whole bunch of random, but delicious nonetheless, ingredients in my fridge at school. I wanted to make something with all of them because I knew the various ingredients could combine to make something delightful. Because I had made Samosas (recipe for that later) earlier in the week - I had a bunch of fresh Indian and Indonesian spices. Hence - the dish that I made was very reminiciant of Indian food - but all the ingredients you can get at your local grocery store! I never wrote this recipe down and every time I have cooked it again, it changes. Here is my first attempt to write it down!


- 1 lb of extra firm tofu

- Kale (a whole bunch), roughly chopped

- Tomato Paste (1 can)

- Chick Peas (1 can)

- 1/2 an Onion, chopped

- A little bit of fresh ginger, pealed and grated

- 3-ish garlic cloves, minced

- Hot Sauce (I recommend Harry's Habanero Hot Sauce from the PFC in Ann Arbor)

- Mustard Seeds

- Coriander

- Curry Powder

- Kosher Salt

- Fresh Ground Pepper

- Rice (I either use Jasmine rice or wild long grain brown rice)

- Peanut Oil


1. Prepare rice according to directions, then set aside.

2. Cut tofu into 1/2 in cubes. Heat 1/4 inch of peanut oil in a frying pan then slowly add the tofu. Cook until all sides are browned and firm.

3. While the tofu is cooking/frying, heat a LITTLE bit of oil in a sauté pan. Add in the spices (garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, curry powder, coriander) so they have time to infuse into the oil. Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent.

4. Then add in the kale and cook down until their is more room in the pan. Add in chickpeas and incorporate.

5. Add tomato paste to the kale mixture and incorporate until all ingredients are coated with tomato paste. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste. Continue heating.

6. Add some hot sauce to the kale mixture to add a little kick, also add more curry powder.

7. Incorporate cooked tofu into kale mixture, making sure not to 'smoosh' the tofu when mixing in.

8. Serve over a rice and enjoy!

(and for all you people like me who have a hard time cooking for just one or two people, this keeps VERY well in the refrigerator and reheats well too).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Zucchini Cakes

This is such a simple and rewarding recipe. I also made this for the Bivouac Women's Fitness Event - they seemed to go over very well! This recipe is good for about 4 people, but if you plan on making it for any more people, I recommend you double the recipe. It takes about 30 minutes to make 20 or so cakes.

- 3 Zucchini
- 1.5 TBSP of minced garlic (add a little more or less based on your love of garlic)
- 3/4 cup of bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 2 eggs
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive Oil (for the pan)

1. Wash the Zucchini and cut off the ends. Using the large holes of a cheese grater, shred the Zucchini into a clean dish cloth. Squeeze the zucchini in the towel until you've removed as much liquid as possible.

2. Place the zucchini in a medium (or large if you're doubling the recipe) bowl. Add in the garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs, and kosher salt and pepper to taste. (Side note: Don't go too lightly on the salt because you're worried the cakes will taste salty - salt really makes the flavor of food pop.) Stir will a fork until all the ingredients are well incorporated and the mixture is moist enough to hold a shape.

3. Heat the a 1/4th of a inch of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough (about 220 degrees), place 5 balls of the zucchini batter into the skillet and flatten it with a spatula. After about 5 minutes (or until the bottom on the zucchini cake is golden-brown), flip the cake over and cook on the other side until done (about 3-5 minutes).

4. Enjoy! The zucchini cakes are pared well with a ranch dipping sauce.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Homemade, Healthy Granola Bars

Spend money on small granola bars no longer! Super easy to make, this yummy bars are an incredibly filling snack. I made them recently for a Women's Fitness Night at Bivouac - they went over incredibly well! This recipe makes about 1.5 large jelly roll pans of granola bars - but if you want less the recipe can easily be halved.

PS: I did most all of my ingredient hunting at the People's Food Coop (PFC) in Ann Arbor.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Snack Bars
-parchment paper
-1 cup of honey
-1 cup natural cream peanut butter (I recommend the bulk peanut butter at the PFC)
-4 TBSP maple syrup
-2 TBSP Canola Oil
-1/2 cup light brown sugar
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-4 cups rolled oats
-4 cups crisp brown rice cereal
-1/2 cup wheat germ
-1 cups roasted peanuts (corse chopped)
-1 cup dried cranberries
-1 cup dried blueberries
-approx. 1 tsp kosher salt (more or less to taste)

1. Line jelly roll pans with parchment paper (trust me - it will make removing the bars and cutting them much easier)

2. In a medium sized saucepan, put honey, peanut butter, maple syrup, canola oil, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Combine over medium/high heat juuuust until the mixture starts to bubble (it'll take about 5 to 8 min). Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

3. In a fairly large bowl, mix together the oats, rice cereal, wheat germ, peanuts, cranberries, blueberries, and salt.

4. Pour the ooey-gooey peanut butter concoction over the oatmeal/cereal mixture. Mix with a spatula until everything is combined (aka, all the dry goods are coated with the wet goods). Pour the mixture into lined jelly roll pans, cover with more parchment paper, and press the mixture firmly down into the pans.

5. I recommend allowing the bars to cool for about an hour on the counter and then pop them in the fridge overnight to 'solidify' them more. When ready - cut them into squares/bars and enjoy!

Next Up: Zucchini Cakes!

The Beginning!

It's summertime - and on my days off from work I think it's best that I do something other than watch the Discovery Channel or incredibly censored movies on FX.

So I am going to start a food blog. Anyone who even slightly knows me knows that I LOVE cooking and baking. A few months ago I started taking pictures of everything I've cooked/baked. However, I wasn't so consistent with my photography and there is a lot of food that I've cooked that has no corresponding picture (hopefully this will change).

For now, I will start posting my most recent culinary experimentations, tried and true favorites, and favorite food I've found from my travels.


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