It’s a mystery of human chemistry

Posted: December 21, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

There are some days when only certain things will do. There are some days when the things that will do don’t make too much sense. There are days when you only have a few things in your kitchen, and have to make do.

Sometimes all these feelings hit at once, and you find yourself asking Twitter whether lentils absorb liquid the same way arborio does. Because for some reason, green lentil risotto sounds like the place to be.


I kind of took a wing and a prayer on this one, because I definitely didn’t get a positive response to my lentil question — in fact, the only person to answer said that she was pretty sure it wouldn’t work out. But, having cooked French green lentils a few times and having noted that they were different than traditional brown lentils, more tender and quicker to cook, I decided to risk it.

I had some thick-cut rind on bacon in the fridge, so I cut a few slices into chunks, and cooked them in a saute pan to render their fat. Before they were crisp, but once they were cooked, I added some diced onion, and a little salt. Once the onion sweated out and softened, I added about 1/2 cup of arborio and 1/2 cup of green lentils to the pan. I tossed this around and then started adding the chicken stock like it was risotto. The lentils sucked up the stock along with the arborio, and in the end, I had a dish that was creamy, soft, and rich — exactly what I needed.

In summation, if you’re ever in the market for something comforting, but a little bit healthy, consider adding lentils to your dish of risotto! The excellent fiber and other awesomeness of the lentils will make you feel better about eating soft smushy cheesy risotto.

Ever have one of those days? What does your body cry out for on a rainy chilly icky winter day?

The taste of winter

Posted: November 14, 2009 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

As we get further into the fall and it starts to feel like winter, I slowly begin to remember the hell that is Ohio winter.  With this in mind, I decided to try to turn a negative into a positive.  While winter tends to bring icy walk ways, cars that won’t start, white out snow, and literally NO sunshine for weeks on end, it also brings warm cozy sweaters, and even warmer, cozier food.  Root vegetables, soups, squash, and don’t even get me started on the holiday food :) .   So tonight I decided to make one of my all time favorite winter foods…beef stew.  My mom has a stew recipe that she made while I was growing up that was done completely in the microwave.  It was pretty good, but a) I don’t have any microwaveable cookware, and b) I’m always scared to microwave things like that because I’m a touch slow at times and with my luck I would blow up the microwave, and thus my kitchen.  So I decided to do it in my dutch oven instead.  I had never made it before, and didn’t have a recipe, but I knew the basic components, so I decided to wing it.

Here it goes:

1. pour 3/4 cup of  flour into a plastic bag and season it liberally with salt and pepper.   Throw about 1.5 pounds of stew beef into the bag and shake it to coat all the pieces.

2. Melt a couple TBSP of butter in the pot and put the meat in to brown.   Keep stirring the meat until it is all browned.

3.  While the meat is browning combine 2 cups beef broth (I used bouillon cubes since they are so much cheaper than stock), a cup and a half of red wine and a half a packet of onion soup mix (I wanted to use it up, so I threw it in…good life choice).

4. Once the meat is  browned, pour in the liquid, throw in two whole or halved cloves of garlic and bring it to a boil for about 5 min, uncovered.  Then reduce the heat to simmer, and cover it.  Let it simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half.

5. Cut onion, celery, carrot, and baby bella mushrooms into bite sized pieces.  After the meat has simmered, throw in all the vegetables and keep it covered, simmering for about another half hour (until the veggies are fully cooked).

6. Serve, and be happy.  I suggest using some sort of bread product to soak up the juices, I made biscuits.

Now, I always liked my mom’s stew growing up, and I’m not trying to be a conceited bitch, but holy sh*t dude it was good.  It was all smooth and buttery from the meat and the mushrooms, but with a tang from the vegetables and the wine.  Seriously, I expected to tank this one since I was just sort of throwing crap in a pot, but somehow I stumbled onto something good.  I didn’t put in potatoes because stew is normally heavy enough for me without the added starch, also, I did not in fact have any potato.

This is such a good dish because you can literally throw in anything you have in your fridge.  You could add corn, green beans, peas, anything really.  Once you have the meat done just throw in whatever you want and heat until its cooked.  Its also nice because this would also be something you could easily do in a crock pot.  Just brown the meat in the morning, throw it in the crock pot and set it on low.  When you get home at the end of the day, just put in the veggies and turn it to high for about an hour, and you have dinner.

This is probably going to end up being one of my weekly staples this winter. Anything to get me through another damn Ohio winter :)

Happy Stewing!!


Mmm..loaf of meat…

Posted: October 9, 2009 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Meatloaf is easily one of the most versatile foods on the planet.  Just on this website alone, you will find at least three recipes that are impressively different from one another.  This diversity is one of my favorite things about it, because no matter how you make it, its probably going to be good, and no matter what people say, it is still meat loaf ;) .  Growing up, I had meat loaf maybe a a half dozen times, but it was hardly a staple in our household, probably because none of us liked it.  As I got older and cooking on my own, it was always one of those foods I was curious about, but I had this weird feeling that I had to be a soccer mom of four in a crazy sweater with embroidered reindeer on it to make a successful meat loaf.   Somehow I thought the ingredients would not successfully make a delicious meatloaf if they were brought home in my Jetta and not a minivan.  However, about a year ago, I decided to conquer my fear and tackle the challenge that was meatloaf.  All of the meatloaf recipes I looked at sounded good, but didn’t really seem like they were my style, so I made one up.

Here is my take on the deliciousness that is meat…in loaf form.


1lb ground beef

1lb ground sweet italian sausage

One medium onion diced fine

One large rib of celery diced fine

3-ish cloves of garlic diced fine

a couple of mushrooms (depends on how much you like them) diced fine

1 egg

bread crumbs

italian seasoning


parmesan cheese

red wine – at least 1/3 cup (I usually go more, but I don’t think anyone is surprised by that)

The hardest part of this recipe is cutting all the vegetables up super fine, but the rest of it is cake.  Put the meat in a bowl and mix in all the vegetables  (your hands are your best kitchen tool here).  Mix in the egg and red wine, then the bread crumbs, cheese and herbs until all the liquid is soaked up, if you add too many bread crumbs, the easiest fix is going to be to add more red wine.  I know this would be a tragedy, but hey,  sometimes you have to do things you don’t like in the name of the culinary arts.  Schlep it all onto a cookie sheet and form it into a loaf type shape and top it with more shredded parmesan.  Bake it at 375 for appx. an hour…I usually just shove my meat thermometer in until it gets to 160 degrees.

Of course with this, I have to make mashed potatoes.  I usually try to make a different kind every time, but so far my favorites are the fully loaded mashed potatoes, carmelized onion and bacon mashed potatoes, and bleu cheese mashed potatoes.

Happy Carnivore-ing!


A little fruity

Posted: August 31, 2009 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , | 4 Comments »

Today was the first day of school.  Those of you that know me, know that I love my job, however I do have some frustrations with it.  Today, all of those frustrations seemed to be in the forefront for some reason, particularly during volleyball practice.  So after practice, I did what I normally do when I’m angry, and served up 4 baskets of balls, then decided what I was going to do for dinner.  At that point I was torn…after I work out I am in the mood for super healthy food, but when I’m in a mood like that I really want comfort food.  So I wasn’t quite sure what to do.  Luckily for me there is one kind of food that serves both purposes….FRUIT!  I love all fruit, usually just cut up and thrown in a bowl, but sometimes prepared in other forms.  Tonight was just mango and kiwi cut up.  One thing I like about fruit is that it can be for any meal of the day and prepared in a crazy amount of ways.  Cut up raw, baked, grilled, marinated, mashed, juiced….etc.  When I want to splurge a little, I add some whipped cream, or put it over ice cream.  When I want to be a little more fun I soak it in mint infused white wine.  And when you want to get really fun, you can always soak it in straight liquer (one of my favorites :) ).  The point is, fruit is a food that I can always get comfort from, and never have to feel guilty about( except when I get drunk off it, of course), which makes it even more comforting.  So my question to you, my lovely readers, is this:  What is your not-so-guilty guilty pleasure?

Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.