Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I'm a week late......

....No, I'm not pregnant! Hahahaha. I just haven't been here in a week. We were all busy with the holidays so I am back and ready to cook and bake again!

I just went for one of the biggest pain in the ass shopping trips in my recent memory (where are Jewel Osco's spring roll wrappers!?!?! Yargh.) and I won't be cooking tonight but I'll be back tomorrow with one of these many recipes I have planned:

Sushi Rolls + Spring/Egg Rolls (I have to work on these since I got Egg Roll Wrappers instead of Spring Roll rice sheets) Edit: Found this recipe, looks perfect since I wanted to bake them instead of deep frying.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie (for New Year's Eve of course)

My famous (in my apartment) pizza (dough recipe here) with Rocky Rococo's pizza sauce, artichoke hearts, green peppers, onion and pineapple with mozzarella cheese

My own version of (vegetarian) Midwestern Tater Tot Casserole (just taco seasoning, Morningstar Farms Veggie Crumbles, onion and garlic, Ore-Ida Tater Tots and cheese. GROSS AND AWESOME.)

Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel and Mushrooms (I am using Lightlife Italian Style Smart Sausages and just fennel, my roommate doesn't like mushrooms)

Vegan "Magic" Meat Loaf (I'm really excited to make this) + Mashed Red Potatoes

Baked Mac n' Cheese (it speaks for itself!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vegetable Soup with Dumplings 5/5 Spoons

Ugh, you guys. I am still not in the Christmas spirit. I woke up early this morning and wrapped presents, still didn't work. I'll be making Christmas cookies on Thursday, not sure if that will do the trick either. Luckily I am not talking about Christmas with this meal, Vegetable Soup with Dumplings.

Yup, this is a Rachael Ray recipe. I may not love the woman either but this is a wonderful vegetarian soup and I can't hate on anyone who takes my food choices into consideration.

(picture courtesy of She's in the Kitchen)

Ok, I know I really need a camera. And this picture is probably the closest to what my soup ended up looking like (sans chicken).

Let's see here.... My tweaks to the recipe:

-- I used two dried bay leaves instead of one fresh one. I know you are supposed to halve dried ingredients in replacement for fresh ones, but whatever. I live on the wild side.
-- Instead of Dijon mustard, I used brown deli mustard because that is what I use on my sandwiches. I'm sure any kind of mustard is fine but if you use yellow, I would probably drop it down to 1/2 T. instead.
-- I made my own dumplings from scratch using this recipe. If you like a lot of dumplings, make the whole recipe. I would advise halving it if you are more into the veggies than the dumplings. And put the parsley in as RR suggests, it really gives it a fresh flavor! PS - Making these vegan would be a cinch, I used soymilk in my mine and they turned out wonderful. I'll try making the dumplings with Earth Balance next time to make this dish totally vegan.

This soup is thick and satisfying (that's what she said?) along with being chock full of vegetables. I realize there is quite a bit of butter strewn throughout but whatever, it's winter, right? You need the butter in the dumplings though for them to be tender yet firm, so don't skimp on it people!

I give this recipe:

5/5 spoons!

See you again VERY SOON.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vegan (Almost) Caramel Sauce 5/5 Spoons

So my lovely vegan friend Kris Anne (who has a wonderful food blog) has been awesome about sending me recipes I might want to try. We have been discussing caramels as a gift/Christmas treat this past week and I'm not sure she had very good luck. But I decided to venture into candy making territory except not really. I decided to just make a caramel sauce instead of candies. I was out of Earth Balance sticks so I had to use my Safeway O Organics Unsalted Sweet Cream Butter I had in the fridge. I swear I will make this vegan someday.

I had a craving for caramel popcorn last night and I was certainly not going to go to the store at 10 pm. And since I had meant to make candies, I figured I would just try to make caramel sauce instead and used this recipe. I am not a candy maker and I have never made anything caramel related from scratch. It was pretty darn easy. I used all the same ingredients (except for the margarine part) and just kept an eye on the pot. Just swirl a few times and scrap the bottom with a rubber spatula. Really you can just let this do its thing and just wait for it to turn a dark golden brown color. I halved the recipe just fine and it made about 2 cups of sauce. The flavor is deeply dark and sweet along with being just the right amount of buttery. And if you want a kick ass treat... make some popcorn and pour a bunch of this on, let it cool and munch away. It was ridiculous.

Whatever you do, don't try to eat some of it off the spatula! I am stupid and was desperate for a taste and burnt my finger like crazy. This stuff is like burning hot glue and won't come off your finger unless you peel it off with your teeth and even then, the damage is done.

When I woke up this morning I wanted to see how it held up and it was rock hard after being in the fridge. You definitely have to heat this up before using it or let it sit at room temp for quite awhile. Once I heated it up (and dipped apple slices in it, yum) it tasted just as good as last night. Just make sure to stay by the microwave, mine bubbled over when I walked away and it was a bastard to clean it up.

I give this recipe:

5/5 spoons!

I realize how many 5/5 spoons I give but that's just because I love food, haha. Either I will dislike something or totally love it. There is rarely an in between for me. So coming this Christmas week I have Spicy Fried Sesame Tofu, my favorite Vegetable Soup with Dumplings recipe (yup, a Rachael Ray recipe, but just trust me) and another favorite recipe for X-Mas Cookies and Icing. See you soon!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vegan Cincinnati Chili Mac 5/5 Spoons


I'm back. Two days without me, how do you live? I'm sure you make do.

So I don't have a picture for this and usually I won't cook a recipe unless there is a picture attached. This is such a basic and hearty meal, I assumed it would all turn out okay. It totally did. More than okay really.

Ah, what the heck, here is a random pic of Cincinnati Chili Mac. This is one that probably look the most like the recipe I used except mine was much more vegetable based of course.

(Photo courtesy of Rock & Roll Cafe)

I really don't know much about Cinicinnati Chili Mac or why it is different than regular chili mac from the Midwest... but it was ridiculously delicous. It was hearty and filling served with spaghetti and you can really taste the spice and warmth from the cinnamon and green chilies. I used 1 1/2 t. of chili powder, you could definitely bump it up to 2 t. and make it even smokier. I added cheese to mine making it decidedly not vegan BUT this meal is vegan to begin with so add what you wish! Tofutti Sour Supreme, green onions or Daiya Cheddar would all make this kick ass and cruelty free.

Oh and PS - I added a bag of Morningstar Farms Veggie Crumbles, I think it was a perfect addition.

I give this recipe:

5/5 spoons!

Not sure what is coming up next... I may try to veganize Ina Garten's Fleur De Sel Caramels recipe. I like a challenge and my lovely friend Kris Anne has now motivated me to try it out. See you this weekend my loveys!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I didn't make this yet but I really want to. It reminds me of the excitement of childhood birthday parties and that's a feeling we could all use in our lives.

(photo courtesy of Joyofbaking.com)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Buttermilk Lemon Bars 5/5 Spoons


LOVE LOVE LOVE. I can never get enough. It hasn't gone far enough where I would just eat a straight up lemon (unless it had sugar on it and came with a shot of vodka) but I won't rule it out in my lifetime.

Making these Buttermilk Lemon Bars seemed like an obvious choice and since I had 2 leftover lemons and some buttermilk in the kitchen, the fates were calling me.

Before I get into the recipe, I want to say how much I love the Baking Bites website. I would say I'm much more of a baker than a cook (although I love to do both) and this website is just chock full of recipes I've kept in my bookmarks to try. Like Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Chocolate Mint Cookie Squares and Samoas Bars. She has a cookbook too that I am interested in buying in the future. But enough of that now....

I didn't change a thing with this recipe. I followed it exactly because it didn't seem like it needed any tweaking at all. The only thing I would say is that they took longer than 20 minutes to fully cook through. Once they were done I put them in the fridge to cool overnight. I pulled them out this morning, dusted them with powdered sugar and cut it into 16 squares. They are tremendous. They are tart and sweet and the base is crumbly, buttery but cohesive.

So yeah, go make these. But only make them if you plan on sharing because I've had 3 already today and I plan on having 3 more and I even have two roommates!

I give this recipe:

5/5 spoons!

I don't have anything planned coming up, but trust me, I'll think of something and be back in the next few days. Love ya all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kentucky Biscuits Recipe 5/5 Spoons

So once again, I decided to make these at like midnight last night. I always have a hankering to bake in the middle of the night. I will say that when I wake up in the morning with fresh biscuits it really starts your day off right.

(photo courtesy of TheLitterbox101 at allrecipes.com)

I honestly don't have much to say about these biscuits besides praising them highly. The only thing I changed is putting 1/2 t. of kosher salt instead of a dash. At first I thought they weren't salty enough (I used unsalted butter) but this morning when they were at room temp, I thought they had the best flavor. So if you can stand letting them come to room temp, you won't be sorry. The biscuit is super easy to make (about 30 minutes total mixing and baking) and it is so tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.

You could easily make these vegan by using about 1/2 - 1 t. of vinegar or lemon juice and filling it up to 3/4 c. with soymilk and Earth Balance for a butter substitute. I haven't tried it because it is hard to find Earth Balance sticks here unless it is at Whole Foods. If any one of my vegan friends/readers make these, please let me know. I would be curious to know how they turn out.

I give this recipe:

5/5 Spoons!

You will hear from me soon with the Buttermilk Lemon Bars I mentioned in the previous post. Obviously at this point I'm trying to use up the rest of the buttermilk in my fridge, haha. I hope they are worth the wait!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Black Pepper Tofu 4/5 Stars

Oops, hi, I skipped a day or two. Lately I just haven't had my regular desire to eat my own meals. Isn't that weird? But I still love to cook and I'm glad my roommates still love to eat what I make.

All I want to eat are Smart Deli ham sandwiches on flaxseed bread, Odwalla Mango Tango smoothies and Fage 2% Greek Yogurt with honey and almonds. But I want to review one of the best tofu recipes I've found in 2010. Although I have made a few adjustments to the recipe, it is still overall the same deliciously spicy amazing recipe.

First off, Lottie and Doof is a food blog operated by a couple here in Chicago. Even though I'll take recipes from anywhere, I love knowing that I may be eating the same thing for dinner as someone else in my favorite city! There aren't a ton of vegetarian recipes on the website, but what is there is gold. And there are a few good dessert recipes as well. It is worth checking out. My friend Melissa hipped me (am I 80?) to this recipe for Black Pepper Tofu.

(photo courtesy of Lottie and Doof)

Obviously you can click on the recipe and check it out but let me give my own notes. There are a few but I don't think it would in any way compromise what the dish is really supposed to taste like. I just catered it to my own taste buds.

-- I made the tofu exactly as stated in the recipe, it turns out perfectly and I think I will use the cornmeal coating method for various other tofu recipes from now on. It's a pain the ass and takes awhile (especially if you use two blocks of tofu) but it's worth it, trust me.
-- I did not use a whole stick of butter. I used half of one and then supplemented with some olive oil. I really think you could just use all olive oil and a lot less, I'll try that next time. I know the butter gives the shallots, garlic, etc. a beautiful glossy sheen but I don't know how much flavor it imparts especially since the dish is powerfully spiced.
-- I used two jalapenos instead of 4 small red chilies. It's hard to find them at the store I go to, so I compromise.
-- Instead of fresh ginger, I used 1 1/2 T. dried ginger. Whenever I buy fresh ginger, I forget about it and it goes to waste. So dry works best for me.
-- The peppercorns. Wow. Do not use 4 tablespoons. Your mouth will simply fall off. I LOVE spicy food and even 2 tablespoons was a bit much but still very good. Make sure to use freshly ground peppercorns, if you used 2 T. of a finely ground pepper you would die, haha.
-- I just used all regular low-sodium Kikkoman soy sauce. And I may have used a bit less than it says. And I used 2 T. of brown sugar along with it instead of the caster sugar.
-- Green onions instead of spring onions. It's winter, we don't have spring onions now. They work really well though.

OK, I know this looks insane and like I totally fucked up the recipe but really I think I still capture the essence of this meal. My food looked exactly like L&D's recipe in the picture. Oh! And jasmine rice is essential. So flippin' good with this. There is a nice mixture of the green onion, the sheer spiciness of the thick sauce, the pungent warmth of ginger and the chewiness of the tofu. It is a knock out dish and worth the time to make.

I give this dish:

4/5 spoons!

Enjoy everyone! I'll be back sometime this weekend with Buttermilk Lemon Bars and a non-lard KFC biscuits recipe.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf 5/5 Spoons

(Photo courtesy of Panda Cookies on allrecipes.com)

So is anyone else like a psycho for pumpkin once the cold weather rolls around? God knows I'm not the only one. Obviously sweetly savory type treats like pumpkin pie and ginger molasses cookies are a huge deal around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I mostly made this because I have a bad habit of picking up a bag of Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips ANYTIME I am at the grocery store. And like Lindsay Funke and an open bottle of vodka, I feel like if I open a bag of chocolate chips I must eat them RIGHT NOW ; like they will go bad or something. (We all know that is a lie I love to tell myself.)

Now onto the recipe.... I wanted to make these vegan (because I think it would be really easy) but I had two eggs to use up, so I figured I would make it as described. I put a lot more chocolate chips in that said, used mostly brown sugar instead of white sugar and I made it into a loaf instead of muffins and I thought it came out wonderful. It is tender without a lot of fat (only 1/4 c. oil) and a light pumpkin flavor. I thought the spices were just right and this would be ideal warmed with a dab of Earth Balance spread on top.

I give this recipe:

5/5 spoons!

Black pepper tofu tomorrow kiddos. IT'S SO GOOD. I bet you just can't wait.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pineapple Enchiladas 1/5 Spoons

(Thanks to Chicago Lynn of allrecipes.com for the picture)

OK, I know this sounds totally disgusting but I'm all about "gross" mixtures of food. (Everything bagels with chocolate chip cream cheese comes to mind.) I love pineapple, I love cheese and I love Mexican food in general. These were just not good. I liked the sweetness of the pineapple but with the enchilada sauce it kinda tasted barf-y in my mouth. I ate like 4 bites because I hate to waste food but I just couldn't finish it.

I love to make complicated, detailed meals but I thought I'd give myself "a night off" and make something easy and I was disappointed. I'll just go back to making asparagus risotto (which admittedly is not that hard to make) and black pepper tofu (I'll talk about these recipes in other posts, they are PHENOMENAL.) I don't think I could really change anything in this to make it better, it is just not that thrilling.

I give this recipe:

1/5 spoons!

I know the exclamation point is unwarranted but hey, it's my blog bitches.

PS - If you have suggestions of recipes to try and for me to rate, I'd love to hear from you. You can leave me a comment here or e-mail me at jaclynkaters@gmail.com. Obviously it has to be vegetarian or vegan and I'll make anything within reason (I want to eat it or my roommates will, it doesn't have raisins and doesn't have like gelatin in it, etc.) Keep me cooking guys!

New post tomorrow loveys! Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins 5/5 Spoons

(photo courtesy of Joy the Baker, recipe link below)

First post! Welcome my loveys.

So I decided to make these muffins (actually I made a loaf) at like midnight on Sunday night. It was cold outside and I had the Christmas lights on and I felt like warming up the apartment with the oven.

I baked the loaf almost exactly as is except a. I used sour cream instead of buttermilk b. did not put the glaze on top and c. only used 1 T. of sugar to dust on the top before baking.

This recipe is a total knockout. Like... when I tasted it, I felt like it melted in my mouth but still retained it's crumbly loafness. The only thing I would change after making it is adding more lemon zest. It had a nice light lemon flavor but I'm always looking for more of a punch.

So I'm starting a precedent here and doing a cliched spoon rating system. I give this recipe:

5/5 spoons! (The only thing I would change is the zest thing and that's just because I like my food super zing-y!)

Until I figure out how to do a picture with little adorable spoons, you will have to read the spoon ratings.

Thanks for reading, and more will come soon!