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March 26th, 2011 | 1 comment »

Paella is a wonderfully fragrant and colorful dish from the Valencia region of Spain. I never thought of making it until I had a pile of what I thought were the likely ingredients laying around. I took a quick glance at a couple different recipes online and decided I had enough of the spices and other parts to sort of wing it :) I don’t claim this to be an authentic dish by any means… I really went along with what felt right. So let’s call this Paella a la sus! I even used italian seasoned seitan instead of chorizo, because it is what I had around. Feel free to play around!

paella a la sus

paella a la sus!

Paella from the sus chef
makes 4 good servings

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Prepared chicken broth
1tsp spanish saffron (optional)
1tsp Paprika
1tbsp red pepper flakes
1 bag Spanish style / saffron rice (I used Viggo and it worked great)
1-2 cups raw shrimp
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup ground chorizo, prepared
parsley for garnish

Use a large sautee pan with a lid. Heat 2tbsp oil on medium heat, then sautee onions and garlic until soft. Add rice, saffron, paprika and pepper flakes, and chicken broth (measure according to rice directions + 2tbsp). Mix everything thoroughly, bring to a boil, then cover tightly and reduce heat to a simmer to cook rice according to instructions. Add shrimp and stir in, cover, and let cook for 3 minutes. Stir in peas and chorizo, cover, and cook another minute or two. Shrimp should be cooked through, or add another minute. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Opt out of the shrimp and use an alternative protein and veg broth to make this vegetarian!

November 19th, 2010 | leave a comment! »

i found this recipe in a fall issue of cooking light magazine & though i’d try it out. it was my first time making caramel & i learned (the hard way) that like most delicious delights that involve a stove, it takes much patience & attention! on the first try i poured my half & half in too quickly & the whole mixture curdled, so don’t be hasty little orcs, especially with that step. judging from the ‘mmms’ & ‘MMMMMMs!!’ coming from my test audience (boyfriend/coworkers), my second try was the winner, & a delightfully messy one at that.

caramel apples
makes enough caramel to coat 12-15 apples

1 cup water
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
4 cups half & half
4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
12-15 medium sized apples
12-15 popsicle sticks

refrigerate apples for a few hours or overnight. once they are chilled, insert popsicle sticks then return to refrigerator. combine water, corn syrup & sugar in a large saucepan & bring to boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves & liquid is clear. continue to boil without stirring until the mixture starts to turn light-golden brown, about 10 minutes. combine half & half, vanilla & salt, then stir into the pot very slowly (to avoid curdling). boil, stirring quite frequently, until a candy thermometer reads the caramel at 325f, about 40 minutes. prepare a bath to keep the caramel warm/from hardening by filling a large pan with hot water. place a bowl in the hot bath, then pour your caramel into the bowl. remove apples from the refrigerator & immediately coat by spinning them sideways through the caramel, then cool them upright on a piece of wax paper.

candy boiling

go a step further and roll your coated apples through a bit of a topping of your choice. i sprinkled few with coarse sea salt which really brought out extra flavours in the caramel. leave a comment and tell me what other flavors you would try!

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posted in recipes
October 25th, 2010 | leave a comment! »

there’s a question that addled ben & me for months! we are both thai food fans, & no matter what, one of us always orders pad see ew when we go out to thai restaurants. we were talking about making this dish ourselves but had the hardest time finding one of the main ingredients: dark soy sauce. dark soy is similar to table soy sauce, although it is aged longer & often has added molasses for sweetness / thickness, & therefore it is most often used for flavoring during cooking. it also helps give pad see ew noodles their distinctive caramelized appearance. we eventually found a good deal on this stuff, along with some other useful thai ingredients, at a website called import food (some days later we were buying the noodles at our local chinese market & saw it there! duh!).

pad see ew tofu

pad see ew tofu. check out those caramelized noodles!

this is a great dish for carnivores or vegetarians, as you can use whatever kind of protein you prefer. we used chicken for ben’s, & marinaded tofu for mine. traditionally you incorporate broccoli as the main vegetable but i think this dish is so versatile you could probably use pea pods, carrots, etc as well! heat up your wok & get’n the kitch’n!

traditional pad see ew
1 heaping serving

vegetable oil
8oz flat rice noodles
1-2 eggs
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
a mixture of 2 tbsp oyster sauce, 2 tsp light soy sauce, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp rice vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic
a handful of broccoli florets
1 cup sliced beef/chicken/tofu cubes, marinated in dark & light soy sauce, 1 clove garlic, & rice vinegar.

get a pot of simmering water ready & also get your wok warming on the stove on very high heat (you may want to turn on your vent fan/open a window as it will get steamy in your kitchen!). you want your wok to be very hot when you start cooking. in the meantime, if you are using meat for your protein, quickly blanch it in the simmering water, about 15 seconds. set aside, then blanch your rice noodles in the simmering water to soften them up. once your wok is very hot, add a good amount of oil (it should be bubbling), then begin to scramble your egg. add your blanched noodles, dark soy sauce, & sauce mixture, stir-frying on constant high heat. things might start flaming & there will probably be smoke, but fear not! keep stirring through it, because we’re cooking up something really tasty here! after about 30 seconds, add your protein & veg, stir stir stir & scrape up the tasty bits of noodles/sauce as they caramelize to the bottom of the pan. the dish is finished cooking once your meat is cooked through & veg is crisp.

pad see ew in the wok

pad see ew in the wok

this video of the dish being prepared in a thai restaurant’s kitchen was very helpful. thanks to leela at for getting behind the scenes & sharing! ours came out spot on, if not better, to what we’ve ordered at various thai places.

pad see ew

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posted in recipes
October 17th, 2010 | leave a comment! »

i decided to whip this recipe up in honor of national roast pheasant day on the 15th. if you’re like me & don’t happen to hunt & gather for your dinner, you might have a difficult time getting ahold of a pheasant…. thankfully we can get our hands on another winged creature while we shop for our yogurt & bananas! let’s roast a chicken!….

…with 40 cloves of garlic!

you can put away the mouthwash & close the windows. 40 cloves may seem like a lot… it is a lot, but i promise you slow-roasted garlic is such a pleasant treat that will definitely surprise you! this is actually one of james beard‘s favourite recipes, & he describes the garlic becoming “so mild & buttery” after they’re roasted. i tried this dish for the first time & was so pleased to find it had a delicious, robust flavour while being seriously inexpensive! i spent under 10$ & got two meals for two out of it.

roast chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

roasted chicken with 40 cloves of garlic
serves 2-4

1 good sized chicken fryer/boiler, thawed
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 sprigs fresh thyme
40 cloves of garlic peeled or unpeeled
1lb mixed red/purple/baby potatoes
1tbsp butter, softened
salt & pepper

preheat your oven to 350f. carefully separate the chicken skin from the meat without breaking it, & generously but carefully use your fingers to spread half the butter between the skin & bird, rub with salt / pepper, & place a few sprigs of herb inside. rub the rest of the butter on the outside of the skin, then season with salt and pepper. toss herbs, garlic, & potatoes with oil & arrange in a casserole dish. nestle the chicken in the bottom of the pan, then cover the dish tightly with foil, & a lid if you’ve got it. bake in the oven about 1 1/2 hours (or 20 minutes per pound + 15 min). the skin will come out terrifically golden, the garlic soft & flavourful, & the potatoes tenderly tasty! serve this with some french bread (you can spread the soft garlic on it), & some salad or cous-cous. bon appetit!

roast chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

roast chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

October 11th, 2010 | leave a comment! »

with all the awesome cold-weather produce coming our way this month,  our national october food holidays seem a little unimaginative with celebrations around “national pork month” & “national taco day”. surely national pumpkin day (on the 26th) is a given, but how could we omit the delicious bounty only autumn can bring us: beets, apples, sunchokes, several squash varietals…. the list goes on! let’s get creative with some of this month’s more generic holidays & celebrate this fall with  delicious dishes.

pull out your woolies from storage & get geared up to peruse your local farmer’s market for the ingredients of some of october’s month-long fake food holiday-worthy treats: national cookie & dessert month, pickled peppers month, & we can all look forward to bubbly, hearty chili month as the temperature drops. don’t forget to pick up a good variety of apples as we enter national apple month, & stay tuned for an informative post on the uses of different types of apples. lastly,  i have to admit that although the FFH’s this month are a little lazy, i get to celebrate two of my favourite things all month long! hooray for national pretzel & ham month! i will definitely be making pretzels in the coming weeks and sharing my experience with you…

other fake food days to look forward to this month:

  • october 11 - world egg day
  • october 15 – roast pheasant day
  • october 20 – brandied fruit day
  • october 21 - apple day
  • october 29 – national oatmeal day
  • october 21 – halloween / candy apple day
posted in fake food holidays
October 3rd, 2010 | 5 comments »

nate, my department’s (former) intern at work, has been dying for an easy bread recipe that doesn’t involve bread machines or huge messes, so i set out to try out a couple recipes & find the best one for him (and you!). what i found was a huge community of amateur bread makers who all raved about one recipe concept: no-knead bread. this idea really surfaced in 2006 in the new york times, where jim lahey of sullivan street bakery shared his original recipe. since then it has been tried, trued, & perfectly perfected into an incredibly simple no-mess recipe (follow that link for the recipe) that yields a delicious rustic loaf of bread.

nate got hired this week, so naturally i’ve made him a loaf of bread to celebrate. who needs a cake? congratulations, buddy.

no-knead bread

no-knead bread

posted in recipes, simple sunday
September 30th, 2010 | 2 comments »

here’s a great no-recipe recipe* that utilizes some of your stocked pantry items & inexpensive ingredients to yield an awesome dish that brings in the best autumn treats. all sorts of winter squash will be in abundance from now until next spring, & i love them all, so you can bet we’ll be using them often in recipes to come. let’s start off with acorn squash, shall we?

acorn squash probably gets its name from its shape, which is round but tapered at one end just like an acorn. they’re generally deep green in color & often have orange streaks on the skin. the color of the flesh inside is a marigold-orange. the pulp & seeds are much like a pumpkin’s, where you will usually discard the pulp while the seeds are delightful toasted then salted. i find acorn squash to be extremely versatile & i enjoy it’s fabulous nutty-squashy flavor baked with a bit of butter & brown sugar/maple syrup, or filled with various savory stuffings. try today’s simple & inexpensive dish for a warm, hearty treat!

acorn squash filled with wild rice & cranberries

acorn squash filled with wild rice & cranberries

acorn squash filled with wild rice & cranberries
serves 2

2 large acorn squash
1 cup wild rice (or wild mix)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper
2 tbsp cheese, grated (anything works nicely here, but i used sheep’s milk for its sharp nutty flavor. also try mozzarella, asiago, parm, etc).
candied nuts (optional)

preheat your oven to 400f. prepare your rice according to package instructions. feel free to add a dash of extra seasoning or vegetables like carrots, celery, etc to the rice if you’d like. in the meantime, using a large chef’s knife, carefully cut the stem side of each squash about 1″ from the top & reserve. scoop out the seeds/pulp without disturbing the flesh too much, & discard (or save the seeds to bake as you would pumpkin seeds). slice a small sliver of the other end of each squash off to create a flat end to stand the squash up on (be careful not to slice too much off or you could pierce the flesh & your filling could fall through!). spoon 1tsp of olive oil into each cavity & season with a dash of salt & pepper. using your fingers or a pastry brush, gently rub the oil/salt mixture into the sides of the cavity. when your rice is finished cooking, mix in the cranberries & fill each cavity of the squash heaping with the rice mixture. top with the reserved squash ‘hats’ & place side-by-side in a glass baking dish. i like to put about 1″ of water in the bottom of the baking dish to keep the skins of the squash hydrated so they don’t dry out while baking. cover loosely with foil & bake about 1 hour, or until a sharp knife pierces the skin of the squash quite easily (you’ll want it nice & soft inside so you can eat the inside of the squash with a spoon), then remove squash hats & discard foil, top each squash with a tbsp cheese, & continue baking uncovered until the cheese is melted & browned. serve hot with a few nuts if you’d like, then sit back & wait for a round of “mmmmms”. it shouldn’t take long!

*but there’s a recipe!, you say. of course, but cooking squash is a super simple process that can be altered or added to quite easily. once you follow the cooking directions once or twice you’ll really get the hang of it & wont need a recipe anymore. then you can experiment with other stuffing & flavors. you can’t go wrong!

September 24th, 2010 | 5 comments »

cherries jubilee is a yummy & simple dessert made with cherries & a special ingredient called kirsch(wasser). because it’s flambéed, there is all sorts of panache to this dish, & it the cooking process also kind of makes it a one-trick pony (albeit a tasty one!). so for you i’ve prepared a similar cherry jam, which you can of course use a delicious topping to vanilla ice cream just as you would the cherries jubilee, but for so many other applications as well. clean out an old jam jar or any small jar, & put your apron on because this one can get messy!

cherry jam
with the help of david lebovitz
makes 1 good jam-jar

1-1.5 lb cherries (dark bing cherries to bright red sour cherries all work for this one!… i used sour)
2 fresh lemons
lots of sugar

first you need to pit your cherries. while you can buy a cherry pitter, you can avoid this unitasker by using a small, long object to poke out each pit by hand. i used a chop-stick & it worked quite well! (i overheard old wives at the market discussing how they use safety pins to do this…). get out two big bowls, one for pits & one for your pitted cherries, turn on the television & take a seat (this takes a while) to begin popping out the pits one by one. don’t worry if your cherry loses its shape or gets mushy in the process, you’ll be boiling them down later. when you have all the cherries pitted, start cooking them up in a large stainless-steel stockpot (the pot MUST be non-reactive). once things get nice & hot, zest 1 of the lemons & juice both, then add the juice/zest, which will provide the pectin needed for gelling as well as the acidity for the jam. cook this mixture, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are super soft & mushy, about 15-20minutes. at this point you’ll want to add the sugar. to determine how much sugar is appropriate for your batch of jam, measure out the contents of the pot, & stir in 3/4 that amount in sugar (if you have 4 cups jam mixture, add 3 cups sugar, etc). keep stirring on medium-high heat until your mixture thickens. a great trick i learned from mr. lebovitz is to do the cold-plate test. before you stir in your sugar, put a small salad plate in the freezer. as your stir your hot mixture & feel it might be thick enough, take the cold plate out & spoon a small amount of your jam on to it. let it sit for a minute, then nudge it with your finger. if it wrinkles, you’re all set! if not, put the plate back in the freezer, keep simmering your jam, then try again in a few minutes. when you’re done, mix in some kirsch if you’d like a more complex flavour (though its not required for delicious jam!) & enjoy over iced cream, on top of toasts, on a ham sandwich, or any other way you’d use a lovely jam spread. store it up to 2 months in the refrigerator.

September 20th, 2010 | 3 comments »

it’s that time again! ohhh i really fell behind with vacation & work, but there’s still time to party & i just love all the goodies autumn has to offer. let’s revel in the first chilly harvests with a couple good fake holidays celebrating food!

september brings us national: chicken month, biscuit month, mushroom month, & ‘better breakfast’ month! we’ve also got a handful of delicious dailies coming our way.

  • i’ve got a great recipe to make your mouth smile for cherries jubilee day on september 24th
  • pancake day is on the 26th. i might have an interesting pancake recipe to share to help make your breakfast better….
  • national corned beef hash day comes on the 27th. does anyone out there like this stuff? my mom used to make it for us all the time! i can’t say i like or dislike it, but i know my sister loves it!
  • drink beer day on the 28th (& everyday in my house!)
  • warm up on the 30th with some mulled cider
  • next week is wild rice week, & there’s a tasty recipe coming your way to enjoy it!

lots of new recipes coming in the next couple weeks! i promise i’ll make up for lost time.

posted in fake food holidays
September 13th, 2010 | leave a comment! »

finally! just got back from a wonderful 10day vacation with ben. first half was in the outer banks (north carolina) & then we spent a handful of days at our family farm in west salem, oh. i collected fresh eggs from the chickens & caught 5 bluegill fish in the lake! will update soon with photos, but for now i must catch some zeds! back to work tomorrow… goodnight all.