meatless monday — ramen with sun-dried tomato thai pepper sauce



suffering from a head cold is no fun. especially when you can’t taste anything because of it. the solution i figured was flavors that were powerful enough to taste but with that comforting soup sort of feel. the solution some fancy ramen. ramen can be a wonderful basis for a quick easy asian dish. while the noodles cooked. i stir-fried onions, sun-dried tomatoes and peppers in a thai pepper paste. paired with a couple of crab rangoon, this meal was just what i needed, good to the last chopstick full.


meatless monday — rice noodles with a peanut sauce

spicy goodness

spicy goodness

last week my cold made me want some comforting soupy, tasteful food. now feeling better but still stuffed up like crazy i wanted spice and i wanted to be able to smell it and taste it. after a cleaning out of cabinets and fridge to see what i needed to use up, i came up with rice noodles, bbrocoli, and peanut butter. there is no telling how potent this sauce became. all i know is i added ginger till i could smell it and sriracha till i could taste it. it was pretty good probably the best last minute stir-fry i’ve made in awhile. topped with some boca chicken nuggets it couldn’t be beat!

vanilla-blueberry whiskey roasted chicken

after my whiskey infusing frenzy in the fall i still have several jars of it left over. so what to do with a whole lot of fancy whiskey? why not cook with it. eyeing the jars i decided the thing to do with my vanilla blueberry whiskey was to roast a chicken in it. i got myself a pretty fryer. stuffed it with homemade dressing made of brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon bread, layered the chicken with onions, carrots, and potatoes, then poured all that whiskey on it, including blueberries. it smelled wonderful and then i learned my lesson with cooking with whiskey its called flambe! the blueberries self-combusted triggering a flames shutting out from underneath the roaster lid. needless to say that was a tad panicking to see in your oven. out went some of the whiskey and in went a lot more vegetable broth. however the flambe created this really crispy skin on the chicken and the stuffing was to die for. only if i could create this beautiful accident again and i’d say this chicken would be one for the record books!!!





Hot Cocoa Buffet


So a couple of friends and I felt the winter time urge to spend the afternoon drinking hot cocoa. I couldn’t help but think if you’re going to spend the whole afternoon doing that then why not have a hot cocoa buffet!

We had three different kinds…

Nutella Cinnamon

For one serving you heat 1 cup of milk almost to a boil in a saucepan, stir in a 1/3 of a cup of Nutella, and a pinch of salt and cinnamon.

Fluffernutter Hot Cocoa


For one serving you bring one cup of milk almost to a boil thin whisk in 1/4 cup Fluff, 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup peanut butter chips and continue whisking until smooth.

The last cocoa was a Ginger Spice that I had to fudge some of the ingredients (has anyone ever found 5 spice powder at the store??) It wasn’t as cocoa-tastic as the other two, but we did drink it last and by then the bar had been set very high.


Heat 1 cup of milk almost to a boil then whisk in 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon of ginger and a pinch of 5 spice powder.

My favorite was the Fluffernutter even though I have been making the Nutella recipe for years. The peanut butter chips just put it over the top (think melted peanut butter and chocolate ice cream). The group was split pretty evenly between the two.


Everyone brought their favorite treat to have with hot cocoa. I made miniature chocolate Pilsbury crescent rolls by simply cutting the precut dough in half and adding mini-semi sweet chocolate chips.





(There were some non-chocolate ones too. I ended up eating them with pasta the next day. They would be great with soup. We were very chocolate focused that afternoon).

My all-time favorite food to have with hot cocoa is Saltine crackers. The salty and sweet are so good together when you dip the cracker into the frothy cocoa. I thought my mom gave me this combo when I was little, but she says that I remember wrong.


Thankfully the memory goes before the taste buds!


Yes, I saw Silver Linings Playbook too and asked myself “What are homemades?” because for some reason they sound really good.

After doing the tiniest bit of research (1 google search and listening to 1 radio show interview) I found out homemades can be anything from tiny chicken salad sandwiches to homemade egg noodles.

The Super Bowl was rolling around again, so I decided homemades at our house would be tiny homemade pizzas. Think Bagel Bites but even smaller.

I had been thinking for the crust mini-bagels would work, but they turned out to be too big. Cutting English muffins into smaller disks were next on my list until John had the brilliant idea to get Pilsbury canned pizza dough.


All I had to do was crack open the can, spread the dough out on a floured surface, and use a circle cookie cutter.
A glass or a lid would work too.


I lined them up on a greased cookie sheet.


And put a 1/2 a tablespoon of pizza sauce in the center.


I thought it would be fun to use miniature mozzarella balls to keep with my theme.


And sprinkled them with cheddar.


I did bake them a few minutes less than the can instructions advised, but just watch them if your oven runs hot!


I think Bradley would approve.


A polenta newbie recipe

Cooking confessional- I had never cooked with polenta until a few months ago. I know this may seem crazy because I’d eaten it many times in restaurants, but I had never even thought about cooking it myself.

Weird, I know.

I found a recipe for cheesy polenta topped with simple sautéed mushrooms and decided to give it a whirl.

It was a weeknight dinner so I bought the pre-made polenta to make this easy recipe even easier.

Slice the polenta a 1/2 thick. Add a table spoon of butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the polenta disks!


While your waiting for them to mush and turn golden brown, slice a handful (or a whole package) of baby portebella mushrooms and 2 cloves of garlic.


Add two more tablespoons of butter to another pan and melt on medium to low heat. Once butter gets melty add your mushrooms and garlic!


Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Cook until mushrooms soften and the garlic is fragrant. You can even put a lid on them and turn the heat off until your polenta is done.


While the polenta was cooking I kept mushing it and flipping it until it softened into on giant yellow mat.


Once it appears crispy-ish sprinkle cheddar cheese on the top! And it’s done.


The cooking time for the polenta probably took 15 minutes total.

When the polenta is done, add a sprinkle of parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice to the mushrooms.


Then all you do is dish up the polenta and top it with the mushrooms. We had it with fried potatoes and carrots.


And we also tried “dragon” cheese at dinner.

Who knew we could be so brave and fearless in one night!

meatless monday — an indian feast

normally when i go to the grocery store i’m a firm believer of sticking to my list, that way i stay on my budget. well the last time i went to the store that theory might have been put aside as i finally decided to purchase some indian food products i’d been eyeing for the last month. purchased… patak’s curry sauce of sweet peppers and coconut milk. the jar suggested adding it to chicken i voted for a giant jar of chickpeas instead, since it is meatless monday.

curry sauce in a jar, yes please

curry sauce in a jar, yes please

also purchased some mango chutney and frozen naan. dinner would be served shortly. (it may sound cheesy but i felt inspired to cook this meal to the darjeeling limited soundtrack)

why purchase anything but garlic naan

why purchase anything but garlic naan


yum yum yummy

yum yum yummy

the verdict. pretty yummy and oh so easy. the only thing i was a tad disappointed with was the mango chutney but i used it throughout the week on sandwiches and with the leftovers mixing it into the curried chickpeas and it kind of grew on me. now i feel like i need to go on an indian food crawl, sampling more grocery store products and buffets in town. it’ll be a lot of curry but i think i can handle it!


lets do dinner!!! VII

“this was a perfect way to spend a january night!”  so said one of my dinner guests at the last meatless monday “lets do dinner!!!” gathering.  on the menu was a Jamaican sheppard’s pie.  what constitutes a sheppard’s pie to be Jamaican, well.  plantains, curry, coconut milk, and topped with sweet potatoes.

lima beans, curry, coconuts, plantains, and sweet pots

lima beans, curry, coconuts, plantains, and sweet pots

the guest were plenty to the point i almost didn’t have enough chairs, but that’s the way i like it.  for a more cozy atmosphere the crew voted to relocate for dessert by the fireplace in the living room.

the crew

the crew

for dessert i must admit i’ve gotten rather badass at making bundt cakes, this one was a vegan lemon-coconut cake.  lets just say the leftovers made for an excellent breakfast!

finger lickin good

finger lickin good



Celebrating Burns night (sort of) in the Midwest


John and I happened to be in New Castle on on Robert Burns Night a couple of years ago. We had never heard about the night and the meal to celebrate the Scottish poet Robert Burns.


We quickly learned about it though because all the restaurants were booked up to feed people haggis!

Burns night happened to be labeled on our 2013 calendar this year and we decided to give it a vegetarian celebration. I know– how? Well, we tried out a few of the rituals and had some good scotch whiskey courtesy of Josh.


Hold on to your socks- my honey, the teetotaler, had a sip during our toast to the laddies and the ladies.

Can you guess which scotch is John’s?


We had veggie Cornish pasties and made a to-do as you would for the haggis when we took them out of oven.

If only we had some bagpipe music in the background!


The whole house smelled like malt vinegar due to our salty pub-style roasted potatoes.


I’m not a huge scotch drinker so we moved on to ale. This one had hints of maple syrup, rye and bananas.


Before eating we read a very short poem by Robert Burns and felt like we gave the night a good go of it!

For dessert we had dark chocolate Digestives which tasted amazing with the beer (who knew?)


To cap off our trip down Northern England memory lane we watched The Trip which is all about the North and food…Cheers.