Tuesday, January 31, 2012

fish sticks and (awesome) potatoes

I want to apologize for not having a lot of recipe posts lately.  I think that that may be the general trend over the next few months as I continue with interviews and write and defend my thesis.  I am gong to attempt to do a food post now and then and I am definitely going to try and keep up fresh fridays.  

This recipe is for fish sticks (not all that exciting) and oven potatoes (which I make regularly - and are awesome).

Devin will absolutely only eat fried fish.  And usually on a sandwich with tartar sauce, ketchup and lemon.  I used to try and be fancy and make fried fish tacos.  Then we would each eat one taco, Devin would whip up some tartar sauce and we would eat the remaining fish without the taco.  I gave up. Quickly.  Now we just have fish sticks.

I like to use mahi-mahi, but they did not have it at Whole Foods, so I think I just used cod.  Any white fish will do just fine.  I cut it into strips and pat it dry with paper towels.  Next you need your breading station.  A little flour, some egg (with s&p) and panko bread crumbs.  Bread the fish in that order.  Next heat up some (vegetable) oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Fry the fish a few pieces at a time.  You do not want to crowd the pan because then it will end up steaming the fish versus frying it.  I put the pieces on a rack as they come out to drain off some excess oil and keep them crunchy.

Of course we need tartar sauce with the fish sticks.  I combine mayonnaise, sweet relish, lemon and s&p until it tastes right.  As you know, I am a big fan of pickles, so I probably use some extra relish.

Now onto the potatoes.  We have these at least once a week and I vary the shape and seasonings depending on how the mood strikes me.  Here is the general idea.

I always use red potatoes.  I am not sure why, but in my head, I feel like they are better for you than non-red potatoes (but of course not as good for you as sweet potatoes).

I slice the potatoes different every time.  Here I did long strips.  Usually I do chunks.  I cheat a little (a lot) and start the potatoes in the microwave.  This is basically why I have a microwave; to pre-cook potatoes and thaw bread from the freezer.  I put the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl with nothing on them and put them in the microwave for 10 minutes (stirring half way through).  After the ten minutes I check them with a fork to make sure they are cooked through.  If not, I put them in for a few more minutes.  Don't worry if they seem dried out.  This is actually good because it aids in getting them crispy later.

Then I always coat the potatoes in evoo and s&p.  It is the additional seasoning that I switch up.  Lately I have been doing a lot of garlic powder and dill.  That is what you see here.  Sometimes I go with italian seasonings, other times I make them spicy with chili and cayenne powders or maybe even a combination of all of them.  At this point I also sometimes add in some chopped onion.

Mix everything up and put it in a single layer on a large (preferably deep) baking sheet.  I put them in a hot oven (usually 450) for anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes.  It all depends on how fast they brown up.  That is the ticket though.  To get the outside of the potatoes brown and crispy (while the inside is nice and soft).  They are always delicious and pretty fool-proof!!  Just make sure you only put on enough evoo for a light coat.  If you put on too much it prevents the browning.

Here was our finished meal.  

So Long!

Friday, January 27, 2012

fresh fridays

This has been a long week.  tgif.

1.  I am very sad to be attending a going away party for some good friends this weekend.  I really do not like that we are all leaving Pittsburgh.

2.  This video is ridiculous and I cannot stop watching it.   Thanks Dave J.

3.  So on Sunday, I tried to take a picture of me in my actual vintage 49ers shirt to show my support (because it did so much).  This happened.  I am a little freaked out.

4.  This is the car that I drove in this week.  I felt like Stephanie Plum getting one of Ranger's vehicles after my car blew up (must read the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum novels to understand).

5.  I drove this car because I was traveling for an interview.  Here are a few pics of the beautiful town that I stayed in.

6.  First thing I did when I got back to Pittsburgh with Dev of course.

7.  Several weeks (perhaps months) ago, Whole Foods had lobster tails on sale for their Friday Deal.  I bought them and they have been sitting in my freezer.  I think I am going to make up some lobster mac n' cheese this week.

8.  I am trying to decide what to make for the Super Bowl.  It is usually a chili or sub sort of activity.  That is at least what we would always have at Grams.  Any good ideas?

9.  I had an amazing dinner Wednesday night when I was away.  I wish I had taken a picture but it probably would have been weird.  Here is the description:

potato gnocchi in a tomato sugo with arugula & gremolata

The best part was the crispy skin on the fish.  And the glass of merlot.  Perfect combination!

10.  Whenever I go away, I think that the girls get some serious anxiety.  Devin always gets stuck cleaning up kitty poop off a kitty tush or kitty throw up off of the carpet.  I was gone for two nights, and he got both.  Poor Devin.  Poor kitties.

11.  Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation is one of my all time favorite characters on tv.  Last night they went bowling and he remarked that the bowling ally had his favorite restaurant.  They had hot dogs for $1 and hamburgers for $1.35.  Anne asked "aren't you scared to eat the food here" and Ron replied "when I eat, it is the food that is scared."  Probably one of the best quotes of all time.

12.  Sweet Girls.

So Long!

Friday, January 20, 2012

fresh fridays

hey friends!

1.  Devin had his Winter Concert at SEA last night.  It was amazing as usual.  He is amazing.  Here are some pictures.

2. I am giving a practice job talk today.  That should be fun.

3.  I also have to clean the whole apartment today.  Our place is being shown on Saturday.  I am not sure if it is for our actual place or if she just likes how we have our place decorated and wants to use it as an example.  Either way, I need to vacuum and dust and mop and scrub toilets, and oh how I do not want to clean.

4.  Poor Deeley gets tons of mats in her fur when she is in winter kitty mode.  She gets them in her front armpits and down around her lady area.  She just lays there and lets us rip them out while she makes strange sucky sounds, but I feel so bad for her.

5.  So I made some blood orange scones for breakfast on Sunday.  They were quite possibly one of the best things that I have ever baked.

6.  I got my hair did yesterday.  I love getting hair cuts.  Especially now that my hair is short and sassy and you can actually tell when it gets cut.

7.  It is Restaurant Week in Pittsburgh.  I am not too impressed with the fixed price menus at some of these places.  I don't think we are even going to participate.  Where was all the advertisement for it anyways???

8.  Abby is Awesome day (1/28) is coming up.  It is a fictitious holiday that was made up roughly 8 years ago.  We haven't actually celebrated it since moving to Pittsburgh.  It falls on a weekend this year though so I feel like we should do something.  Maybe I'll give the story of its creation next fresh friday.

9. I made mocha coconut ice cream (again).  I also toasted some coconut shavings to go on top.  It is divine.

10. I know someone on Biggest Loser!  EMILY!!  We are like two degrees of separation from being BFFs.  She is a good friend of my roommate from college.  She is absolutely beautiful and kicking butt and taking names on the show!  Plus she gets to workout with Bob everyday so while I am totally, unbelievably jealous, I also feel really bad for her.

11.  I need to make these churros.  We had churros with a chocolate sauce and ice cream at Yo Rita once and every time we go there and they ask if we want dessert, I ask if it is a churro and they say no and I am so very very sad.  I am just going to make them.  Boom.

12.  My dinner last night.  Delicious!!

So Long!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weekend Pancakes

These pancakes are … well … special.  They are absolutely delicious.  I really cannot even describe how good they are.  I have been making them for us pretty much every Saturday lately.  You should hopefully have everything you need to make these in the morning.

I modify this recipe from the Banana Sour Cream Pancakes by Ina Garten.  I love them exactly as printed in the recipe.  Devin however is not a fan of lemon and banana in his pancakes.  So, I have started leaving that stuff out and then mixing some additions into the pancakes as they cook.

So here is my recipe/method:

Sour Cream Pancakes
1.5 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoons salt
(whisk all this together in a big bowl)

0.5 cup sour cream
0.75 cup + 1 tablespoon milk (I have used skim and whole, both work fine)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
(whisk all this together in a medium sized bowl)

Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Let the batter sit for about 5 minutes before making the pancakes (heat your skillet up during this time).  This little trick is what makes the pancakes light and fluffy.

I usually cook the pancakes on medium heat.  Add a little butter to the pan, then use about 2-3 tablespoons of batter per cake.  Sprinkle on whatever you would like as soon as the batter goes in.  I like bananas.  Devin likes chocolate chips.  Flip the pancake once it is big and fluffy and there are bubbles popping through the top (notice the difference between bottom left and bottom middle (once you get to bottom middle, flip 'em)

Top with some butter and maple syrup and enjoy!

Make up all the batter and save the leftovers.  When you are ready for them, heat them up in the microwave in 20 second intervals until warmed.

Here are the girls while I was making breakfast.

So Long!

Friday, January 13, 2012

fresh fridays

happy friday friends.

1.  Check out this blog post on kitchen organization.  I absolutely cannot wait to have a big kitchen of my own to organize!!  It is going to be amazing and I am going to get new gadgets and kitchen tools and I will have lots of room to bake and cook and make elaborate meals and desserts.  Get ready Devin.

2.  Tuesday was Janey's first birthday.  I cannot believe that she is already one.  Janey has made the perfect addition to our family.  She makes me laugh every single day and that is priceless.

3.  I got a puzzle for half off at Barnes and Noble.  I love puzzles.  I somehow find them the most frustrating and satisfying thing to work on.  It took me a good while to complete, especially with the girls being all curious.

Puzzles are way better than back when I was a kid doing them.  They have this fancy interlocking technology now.  Who knew that puzzle technology has advanced so much.  This is like the iPhone of puzzles.


4.  Have you ever had a blood orange?? They are awesome.  They are sweet and seedless and colors that oranges should not be.  It is my understanding that this one is actually lighter than most.  Most are...blood red.  I am going to pick some more up while shopping today and make these, possibly with the addition of dark chocolate chunks.

5.  So I mentioned the mocha coconut ice cream in my last post.  I did not take any pictures of it.  We ate it too fast.  It was amazing.  I am definitely making it again soon.  Real soon.

6.  Have you heard of lululemon?  It is a store with trendy yoga/running clothes.  It is like a more pricy athleta (my current favorite store for athletic clothing).  They just opened a lululemon in Shadyside.  It is so expensive.  I wish I never saw it. 

7.  This was a big week for yoga stuff.  I read this article.  It is a little scary, but really it just tells you to listen to your body.  There is no one to impress in yoga, so why push yourself past your limit?  Listen to your body. 

Well, there might be someone to impress.  I don't know.  This craigslist post is absolutely hilarious and it seems this guy tried to impress someone.

8.  Bethenny Ever After is starting again on Bravo.  I really love this show.  Bethenny is so unbelievably funny.  Her one liners kill me.

9.  It is finally supposed to snow today.  There is a little out there. Go figure.  January 13th.  Oh wow it is Friday the 13th.  Be safe out there.

10.  I am in an extreme recipe slump.  I read like 20 food blogs, and I cannot think of anything fun/new to cook.  It is very frustrating.  I am pretty excited to try this though.

11.  The semester starts Monday.  It's my last one.  As a student.  Ever.  Scary.  Exciting.

12.  I bought one of these for Devin for Christmas.  Am I awesome or what?

So Long!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (and New Years photos)

Once again, this post is a little late (10 days) in coming.  Sorry.

I spent forever trying to figure out what kind of ice cream to make first in my ice cream maker.  I saved recipes for mocha coconut, dolce de leche, nutella swirl, almond cherry, etc.  I wanted something crazy fun, and then the voice of reason (Devin) said maybe you shouldn't make something too complicated for the first time, in case it doesn't turn out right.  Boo!  He was right though.  I would have been so upset if I made some fancy ice cream and spent lots of money on ingredients only to have it bomb miserably.  While he was right, I also knew that he just wanted vanilla.  Nothing adventurous for Devin. He wanted the "yellow" ice cream (don't worry, I have since walked on the wild side with the mocha coconut - it was amazing, I wanted to bathe in it - seriously make this one!).

So, I followed the PDubs recipe for Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  I had bought vanilla beans from Trader Joes at Christmas in case I would need them for something.  I never needed one before, but they were too fun to pass up. Turns out I did need them.  Score!

Making ice cream is a lot more time consuming than I expected.  I definitely did something wrong because it took like oh 1.5 hours for my base mixture to thicken.  I was not a happy camper.  Plus, it didn't thicken enough so it never completely turned into ice cream (of the soft serve nature) while in the ice cream maker and so it took way longer to harden up in the freezer.  I don't think I heated the half and half up enough at first, then I don't think I was supposed to use a nonstick pan and I think it was a little too much liquid for my ice cream maker (the mocha coconut ice cream came together much better).  All complications aside, the vanilla ice cream turned out awesome!  It was slightly too rich for me (could be all the heavy cream, sugar and half and half) but Devin loved it.  Here are the pictures I took while making/serving it.

Oh and Janey loved it even more than Devin!

(it's on her nose!)

I ended up making this banana bread.  It ended up being a little bit dry.  Do you know what moistened it up??  A little time in the microwave and some vanilla ice cream on top!

Last but not least, some pictures from our New Years crab leg dinner.  My camera lens got all steamy from the kitchen so I apologize for some of the streaks.

Treat Yo Self!

So Long!