Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Can Do More Than Just Cook!

That's right folks, I'm not always in the kitchen.  Maybe I'm even a little multi-talented?  Either way, I started making cards at the beginning of this summer, soon after I started (finally) making prints of my photos.  I had friends living all over the country and I was feeling a little nostalgic.  I missed being at Philmont and spending my free time writing letters.  Other than coloring by kerosene lantern, I didn't have electricity for 4 months, I would write piles of letters.  I don't even write letters for responses, I just really enjoy writing to others.  I always love getting a piece of true mail and I wanted to give that joy to other people.  Even though most people I write to don't reply (which is totally fine!), Christina and Becca always did and I started a pretty amazing pen-pal thing with them.

Using of plain card paper my mom got me for Christmas a few ago and my parents printer, I went to work (Side Note: I love photography).  Gluing on printed out pictures to pieces of card stock, another hobby was born.

This batch of cards, however, is for my Grandma.  I leave for Seattle in 3 days.  THREE DAYS.  I highly recommend not looking in my room and seeing the destruction that has occurred.  I am partly packed, but I have primarily made piles of things to pack.  Sorry, that had nothing to do with my Grandma, only me mildly freaking out.  Today my grandparents are coming over for dinner to say "goodbye" to me.  But us sneaky Martin's are throwing her a surprise birthday party!  I won't be in Michigan to celebrate her actual birthday so we are just doing it today!  My grandma loves writing letters, maybe more than I do, so I thought this would be the perfect gift for her.

Now to any friends out there who would like a letter, please let me know or comment and let me know!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Garlic Bread with Mozzarella and Parmesan

If you had come to at least a few Les Voyageurs potlucks, you would know that I had made this fairly frequently.  When up to it, I would also make my own bread from scratch (I recommend Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread).  More often than not though, I would run over to Zingerman's and pick up a loaf of the Rustic Italian or Farm Bread.  For this recipe it is crucial to get bread that has a thick crust and a tight crumb.  Most importantly, it keeps the cheese was melting through.  Secondly, these types of bread get a nice crunch when baked (more correctly, broiled).

You ask why I have been making this for so long yet am only now posting the recipe?  I have a good answer, I didn't want my 'secret' recipe available to the masses.  Well, that was selfish on me so I am making up for lost time by positing it right away.  That, and I think my parents will want to make this once I'm in Seattle.

  • One loaf of crusty bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Italian seasoning & oregano to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Grated Mozzarella (about 1/2 cup)
  • Grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)
  1. Preheat oven to Low Broil.
  2. Mix together ingredients, except for cheeses, in a bowl.  Slice bread and arrange on a baking sheet.  Using a spoon, drizzle on olive oil mixture over sliced bread, making sure to cover entire surface of a slice of bread with mixture.
  3. Place in oven and broil for 2 minutes, or until bread started to toast.  Remove from oven.
  4. Top bread with cheeses and return to over and broil for 3 to 4 more minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown.  But be careful!  At this stage it can go from beautiful to burnt very quicky!
  5. Serve hot/warm.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Linguine with Zucchini and Chickpeas

I fell off the blogging bandwagon.  As in fell off in the middle of a desert that's on an island in the middle of the Arctic Ocean and the nearest cell phone tower is 30 billion nautical miles away.

And I apologize.  My camera is back loaded with pictures... as is my Aperture library.  I'm pretty sure my "To Do" list for blogging is longer than my "Don't Forget to Pack for Seattle" list.  I swear I didn't mean to do it!  I... I... got addicted to 30Rock (it is impossible to deny the awesomeness that is Liz Lemon).  And I'm moving to Seattle in, oh, T-minus 10 days.  Enough of the excuses!  I will do better!  Pinky promise!

At least this recipe is worth it!  I clipped this recipe out of Real Simple last summer with the dream of making it sometime during the school year.  Jump to almost a year later and I finally made it!  It's a easy dish to make with a feasible ingredient list - perfect for someone who is health conscious and on a tight budget!

One night I decided to make dinner for my mom to give her a night off.  When I told her what I was making she insisted that she does not like zucchini... cut to that evening and she ate a double helping of the topping!  Score!  What I liked most about the dish is how the bite of the crushed red pepper contrasts perfectly with the smoothness of the Parmesan and Chickpeas.  It gave it just the right amount of kick.

Linguine with Zucchini and Chickpeas
Adapted from Real Simple (August 2009)

  • 12 oz. linguine
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 small zucchini, cut into thin half moons
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 15oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoons crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
  • ½ cup (2oz.) of grated Parmesan (separate into two bowls)
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Before draining the pasta, set aside ½ cup of the pasta water (it helps the cheese stick to the pasta later), drain and return the pasta to the pot.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the zucchini and ½ teaspoon of salt.  Frequently toss the zucchini, until tender (about 4 to 5 minutes).  Add the chickpeas, garlic, and red pepper until everything is evenly heated (about 2 to 3 minutes).
  3. Toss the pasta with the reserved pasta water and half of the Parmesan.  Serve the pasta and zucchini in two separate bowls; top the pasta top with zucchini mixture and some Parmesan.
  4. For storage for leftovers, let the pasta cool before tossing it with the vegetables and Parmesan.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Guest Blog Post: Caroline's Apple Pie

Hello all!  Step right up to my second guest blog post, but make sure to keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle and unbutton your pants for your gluttonous pleasure!  The honor of this guest blog post goes to my younger sister, Caroline.  She hasn't had a chance to really cook and bake yet, but I have high hopes for my young culinary padawan learner.

She too encountered the same dilemma as I, you know, with the power outage and all.  But lucky her, she hadn't started cooking yet!  Instead she opted to make the pie the following Saturday and we ate it with Grandparents that same night.  Even though we told our Grandpa the treats he'd be getting in a card, he was still surprised.  He was even more delighted to take home the rest of the pie at the end of the night... with us refusing to keep any for ourselves.  And editors note, I must say, this apple pie was amazing.  It was the perfect balance of sweetness in the filling and savory in the all-butter crust.  And I've had many apple pies in my 22 years, and sometimes I'm disappointed to find that the apples are too watery and the bottom crust ends up mushy - none of this happened in her apple pie!  Now, I'm sorry for deterring you from the recipe for so long.  Now, without much further ado, Caroline's Guest Blog Post:

Guest Blogger Caroline in Rome Last Summer

This pie was supposed to be for my grandpa for Father’s Day, but like my sister I was stalled by the power outage and was not able to make it until the next weekend.  I didn’t set any records for length of time to bake an apple pie; the power went out a few minutes before I planned to start the crust.

I know my sister already posted an apple pie recipe of her own but I have been using this apple pie recipe since I was ten, and I still love it.  At first I used store bought crust, but I have since realized how much better homemade crust is.

Delicious Apple Pie
Adapted from Family Fun’s Cookbook

Pie Crust

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ (or three sticks) cups cold, unsweetened butter
  •  4 tablespoons ice (cold) water
  1. Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl
  2. Cut butter in to chunks
  3. Scatter butter into flour mixture and blend together with a pastry blender (or two forks)
  4. Add water and mix together, you might want to use your hands
  5. Separate into two balls and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a half an hour or over night

  • 5 cups apple slices (make sure you peel the apples)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • juice of half a lemon or 1 tablespoons real lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Roll out half of the crust dough and line the pie tin make sure it covers the entire rim
  3. Mix the apple slices, sugar, flour, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and lemon juice in a large bowl, make sure that the slices are well covered
  4. Spoon apple slices into crust lined pie tin
  5. Cut butter into small pieces and scatter over the apple slices
  6. Roll out the rest of the crust dough and carefully place it over the pie
  7. Use a fork and push to crimp the crust around the edges and remove excess crust that is over hanging the pie tin crust
  8. Bake pie for 40 minutes

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Three days.  It took three days for me to make this batch of cookies.  No, it isn't because this is an overly complicated recipe that calls for tricks to get them just right.  Or just because I said so.  These cookies took three days to make because of one big thunderstorm and three days without power.
These cookies had the destiny of being a Father's Day present for my Grandpa.  He loves the flavor combination of mint and chocolate.  Mint Chocolate ice cream, mint chocolate cake, mint chocolate…. oh, you get the idea.  I knew I wouldn't have time to make them on Saturday, so I decided to make them Friday night with the hope of giving them to him Sunday morning.  Oh, how fate decided to intervene.  Around 8 pm on Friday night, with everything mise en place, I began mixing up all the ingredients.  As with all cookies I make, I stuck them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to work their magic.  If you're one of those people who can always predict the end of romantic comedies, you know what happens next.  The power went out.  Now this is Michigan, and I live in a neighborhood that's in the "country" (the suburban definition of country), so I didn't expect it to last long.  Maybe just a few hours of overnight.  Still, I couldn't open up the fridge, lest I let out some precious chilled air, to put plastic wrap over the bowl.  I went to bed dreaming of being able to bake the cookies in the morning.

I was wrong.  And severely disappointed.  The power was still not on, but my dad ran out to Home Depot at 7 am to buy a generator to save the food in our fridge.  It went on like this until when we came home from a Father's Day lunch on Sunday late afternoon.  While the power was on, I quickly baked the cookies and they turned out wonderfully.  They were so light and soft, but there was still a nice 'shell' around the cookie.  Ironically, the power went out again the next day (but only for a few hours) because DTE needed to fix something that was damaged during the storm.

So, the secret to making the perfect cookie?  Have the power go out, use a generator to power the refrigerator for three days and once the power goes on, frantically make the cookies before the power goes out again.

Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flower
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Cream the butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer for about 2 minutes until fluffy.  Add sugars and beat for 3 to 5 minutes.  This is crucial, the sugar crystals puncture tiny holes in the butter making it fluffy, ultimately resulting in a soft and fluffy cookies.
  2. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined.  Add in the salt, extracts and baking soda, beat in.
  3. Add in the cocoa powder and beat in (if you're not confident is your stills to beat in cocoa powder without covering yourself with cocoa powder shrapnel spewing from the bowl, feel free to use a spatula).
  4. Once combined, beat in the flour ½ cup at a time.  Once combined, stir and fold on chocolate chips.
  5. Cover bowl in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.  During this time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Using a small sized cookie scoop, or a tablespoon, make small balls of dough and place 1 ½ inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.  Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Happy Father's Day, Grandpa!!


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