Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: 2020

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Baguettes

 


It’s time for this month Food N Flix!  This month’s movie is Midnight in Paris, hosted by Debra at Eliot’s Eats.

 

This is a new to me movie and I am so glad Debra suggested it!  I’m no good at writing synopses, I always leave them to the experts, (why reinvent the wheel?)  here’s synopsis from IMDB:

 

Gil and Inez travel to Paris as a tag-along vacation on her parents' business trip. Gil is a successful Hollywood writer but is struggling on his first novel. He falls in love with the city and thinks he and Inez should move there after they get married, but Inez does not share his romantic notions of the city or the idea that the 1920s were the golden age. When Inez goes off dancing with her friends, Gil takes a walk at midnight and discovers what could be the ultimate source of inspiration for writing. Gil's daily walks at midnight in Paris could take him closer to the heart of the city but further from the woman he's about to marry.

 

 The movie was quirky and funny.  I loved the sense of whimsy, the 1920’s setting, and everything.  I loved that it made me realize that so many of the great writers and artists of that time would have known each other and interacted on a regular basis.  It’s amazing!

 

I didn’t notice ton of food while I was watching (maybe I was too interested in the story to pay attention to food).

 

However, I did notice some baguettes in several scenes.  So I decided to make my own baguettes.  And I also remade croissants!

 

The baguettes I made were super delicious (I used this recipe from King Arthur Flour), but they didn’t look like the picture!  How to people get their bread to rise and brown like that?!?  I even bought a baguette pan this time around!

 

Long story short, I’m going to keep trying on the baguettes until they look like that picture.   But if you’re not worried about picture perfect - definitely make these baguettes - they are delicious!

 


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Arroz con Coca-Cola (Brown Rice with Coca-Cola)


Oh boy.

It’s Cook the Books Club time and this one was a doozy.


The book follows the history or what is sometimes termed “hippie food” (as the title suggests).  Here’s the thing though, with the internet and the sharing of cultures, are brown rice, lentils, and brown bread (and the like) still even referred to as hippie food anymore?  Regardless of what it’s called now, in the 1970’s when these foods really started to take off in some subcultures in the US, it was called hippie food.

As I started reading, there were certainly some interesting tidbits, but between those tidbits, it was a slog, almost like reading a textbook.  I got about halfway through the brown rice chapter when I started skimming.  I read most of the brown bread chapter (as a bread baker, I thoroughly enjoyed that chapter.  And after that I just lost interest. 

One of the most interesting things I noted as I read was that the trend of hippie food started as a pursuit for optimal health and longevity...while on copious amounts of illicit drugs.  Kinda mind boggling.

As luck would have it, right as I decided to be finished skimming the rest of the book, I came across a brown rice recipe as I was researching for a different blog event. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Wookie Cookies


It’s time to continue on with the last of this year’s Star Wars themed recipes: Wookie Cookies!

I kept this one simple.  I used my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and played with the chocolate chip ratio a bit - plus decorated them to look like wookies!   So fun!  

Wookie Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package vanilla instant pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup mini chocolate chips, divided
2 tablespoons Mallow Bits (or while chocolate chips)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment.

Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add the pudding mix and mix until combined.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix each one thoroughly; stir in the vanilla.

Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the baking soda, salt, and flour. 

Stir in ½ cup of the chocolate chips.

Use a 2 tablespoon scoop to drop the cookies onto the prepared sheets.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on wire racks.

Melt the remaining chocolate chips.  Use a piping bag or zipper bag with one corner cut off to pipe a face and bandolier.  Place Mallow Bits across the bandolier (alternately, melt the while chocolate and pipe white onto the bandolier).

Makes about 36 cookies

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Spinach & Caramelized Onion Bread (Star Wars Portion Bread)

Last week, I started sharing my Star Wars themed recipes from my Star Wars Day meal, with my Roast Porg (Cornish Game Hens).  Then I started binge watching Westworld in my evenings and had no time for blogging (daytime is spent distance learning and child-wrangling).
But now I’m done watching Westworld and back to Star Wars…

My real goal here was to make food that was iconically Star Wars without having to take a huge stretch of the imagination or anything gross.  There are tons of Star Wars Themed snacks and desserts out there, but not many main dishes.

Even portion bread exists out there.  Most of the recipes are more like a mug cake, as a nod to the quickly cooking portion bread seen in The Force Awakens.  Since portion bread is green in hue, most recipes color the “bread” with food dye or matcha powder.

I’ve never cared for the texture of mug cake (or bread) and have never used matcha powder (I probably will someday, but I’m not even sure if it’s available locally!)  So I wanted to try and create a portion bread that my whole family could enjoy with ingredients I had readily on hand.

I realized immediately that I would have to forgo the “quick cooking” aspect of portion bread.  I definitely wanted to dye my bread naturally, which left spinach.  However, I didn’t want it to taste like spinach, so I also added caramelized onions and garlic.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Koledna Pitka (Bulgarian Christmas Bread)


Welcome to this month’s Eat the World Recipe challenge!  In this group, Evelyn from CulturEatz hosts by picking a country of the month, then we take to the internet to find an authentic recipe to make, enjoy, and share.

This month’s country takes us deeper into Eastern Europe to Bulgaria.  I was very excited to be headed to Europe again.  European food tends to be more familiar to me since my ancestry is European anyway.  As I was researching, I found many recipes I wanted to try and couldn’t narrow it down to just one!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Supa Topcheta (Bulgarian Meatball Soup)


Can one ever have enough delicious soup recipes?

I don’t think so.

As I was researching for another event (coming soon), I came across this recipe and knew I had to try it!

Supa Topcheta is popular is Bulgaria and is one of those soups with TONS of variations - it seems that everyone has their own version of this.  However, several aspects show up in all of the recipes: meatballs (usually a mix of pork and beef), simple vegetables (carrot, onion, celery), and a yogurt-egg mix to finish.

Other recipes include potato, vermicelli, or rice, a more complex spice mixture, and/or more vegetables.

After a lot of research, I landed on a recipe that I would call a “middle of the road” version of this soup.  I added a nice flavor profile to the meatballs, but kept the vegetables simple - and, of course, added that yogurt-egg mixture in at the end.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Cornish Game Hens, or Rotisserie Porgs for Star Wars Fans!


Last year, I made Cornish Game Hens with Orange Glaze for the first time and they were super delicious.  

Shortly afterward, we were watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens and noticed that the Porg that Chewbacca Roasts looks remarkably like a roasted Cornish Hen.

Hmmmm…

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Chicken Divan


About a month into social distance/quarantine, I decided that I was going to start cooking my way through my cookbooks as a way of keeping myself challenged and entertained.  Plus it keeps me from falling into a food rut, plus I’m finally pulling out those cookbooks that I’ve never (or rarely) cracked!

I was gifted this cookbook, even though I’ve never seen an episode of Cook Country.  But I have to say, after perusing this cookbook, I might have to check it out.  I had numerous recipes marked as “might try”.  I made 4 of them and they were all amazing!

The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook Season 7The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook Season 7 by America's Test Kitchen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic cookbook! I've never watched Cook's Country, but I love the cookbook. All the recipes I cooked from this cookbook so far have turned out perfectly! Can't wait to try more!

View all my reviews

The first recipe I decided to try was Chicken Divan.  In the very early days of blogging, I made two approximations to Chicken Divan.  I loved both at the time.  They were quite easy and used ingredients I was familiar with at the time.  Some of those ingredients aren’t even available anymore and a couple are ones I just don’t use on a regular basis anymore, since my own cooking skills and confidence have grown in the 9+ years since I started blogging.  

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cucumbers and Cream


Remember the Shoup Noodle recipe I shared last time?  Shoups are a Good Friday tradition at my parents’ house.  But Shoups aren’t complete without a side of Cukes and Cream.

While Shoups are delicious on their own, they’re even better when dipped in the creamy sauce from Cucumber and Cream.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Shoup Noodles


Every year, on Good Friday, my mom makes Shoup Noodles for dinner.  It’s one of those traditions that has passed down through generations.  My mom remembers eating Shoup Noodles on many Fridays (Lent or no as she grew up never eating meat on Fridays (my children’s’ hearts just stopped at the thought of meatless pizza-movie night always - haha)).

Until this year, I’ve never had a reason to make shoups, since I’m always at my parents’ house for Easter.  Until quarantine and COVID and this year.  My state was not shelter in place for Easter, yet we made the extremely difficult decision to stay home for Easter (the kids were devastated).

So I called my mom and asked her for the recipes for the Easter weekend meals (happy to have family recipes, yet wishing I was at her house).

So here we are with shoups. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Lefse


Every fall, lefse appears in local grocery stores and craft fairs.  For those unfamiliar, lefse is a Norwegian flatbread (similar to a tortilla) made with a mix of flour and potatoes. 

It is delicious.

It also typically requires specialized equipment: a potato ricer, a corrugated lefse rolling pin and a lefse griddle…Ugh.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Crockpot BBQ Bourbon Bacon Shredded Chicken


It’s Food n’ Flix time! In this club, those who want to watch the selected movie, whip up something delicious and blog (or Instagram) it!  This month’s movie is hosted by my IRL friend Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm and the chose The Biggest Little Farm.


The Biggest Little Farm follows a couple who leave their successful LA jobs on a promise to their dog.  Yep, you read that right.  They adopted a dog and promised him that they’d be their forever home.  Then the dog barked incessantly when they weren’t home.  Facing eviction, they decided to buy and start a farm, rather than give up Toby (the dog).  To each his own I guess (I am not a pet owner, so I admittedly do not understand).

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Bunny Butt Pancakes



Even though my kids are getting bigger, I still like to make fun pancakes!

Even though it’s past Easter Sunday, I wanted to make bunny butt pancakes for the kids.  After all, it is only now the Easter Season if you’re Catholic (beforehand it was Lent!)

These are fun and easy!  And even boys are kind of getting big, they still enjoy these.  

Actually, I have to amend that.  

9 year olds think they’re awesome. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Herby Chicken with Onion-Garlic Mashed Potatoes



Let’s be real for a minute.

Before Easter, it was Lent.  Quarantine was manageable.  It was a sacrifice and I could tell the kids (and myself) how Jesus sacrificed for other and how we can do the same by staying home.    We weren’t thrilled about it, but having a connection to our faith made it tolerable.

Then Easter came.  We had to rejoice Jesus’ resurrection on TV.  We had to visit family via video chat.  Easter should be joyous.

But it wasn’t the same.  And it was tough.

The kids were sad that they didn’t get to visit their grandparents.  I was sad we couldn’t go to church.  We’re all frustrated that we’re still at home.  Oh, and it snowed again.  Frustrating.

But this is reality for the time being.  Hopefully life resumes to normal sooner rather than later, but everything is still unknown.

So, I decided that I needed to challenge.  Something besides work and the kids’ schedule to focus on and give me purpose.

As I was taping my last read aloud lesson, I pulled a stack up books to prop up my computer.  It was a stack of cookbooks.  Cookbooks that I’ve cooked from, about 1 recipe each.

And there I had my challenge.  I’ve been focusing on comfort food lately.  I need to give myself a culinary challenge, so I am going to try to cook a new recipe from my stack of cookbooks at least once a week (maybe more!)

And (hopefully), I’ll post them in a timely manner!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Café Touba (Senegalese Spiced Coffee) #eattheworld



It’s time to Eat the World in our strange quarantine time and our country is Senegal.

Eat the World should be our chance to virtually travel and learn about a different culture.

But did I?

Nope, I scanned through Senegalese recipes and wondered how I was going to pull a new recipe over my family with so much else going on.

We’re trying to adjust with staying home (other than daily walks, the kids haven’t been anywhere but home since March 13 when school cancelled over the weekend), plus adjust to a 3rd & 6th grader distance learning while a librarian and a college professor teach from home. 

We’re fortunate.  Hubs and I are both still working.  We have high-speed internet and enough devices that all four of us can be working/learning virtually.  But still, it’s a transition.

So, in my house, it’s been comfort food.  Big time.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Spinach, Mushroom, & Caramelized Onion Pizza



You guys, Lent has been super legit this year.  As Catholics, we abstain from meat on Fridays and usually give something up as a sacrifice.  For the past few years, we’ve given up our Friday pizza-movie night, opting for a vegetarian dish (I don’t eat fish) and family game night.

Then COVID and quarantine and no school happened.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

WWII Airplane Cookies


Last month it was Spud’s half birthday.  Since he has a summer birthday, and therefore doesn’t get to celebrate in school with his friends, he gets to bring birthday treats to school for his half birthday instead. 

Spud is slightly obsessed with World War 2.  So naturally, he requested WWII Gas Mask cookies.  Ummmm…no.

I love a challenge, but I need to draw the line somewhere, and WWII gas masks were it.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Knickerbocker Glory


I’m rereading Harry Potter for the umpteenth time.

I just love Harry Potter.  In these trying times, I needed Harry Potter!  The escape from reality, the magic, the triumph over evil.  Yes, this is exactly that I need right now.

Every time I’ve read the first Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I’ve read chapter 2 and wondered what exactly the treat Harry enjoyed at the zoo, Knickerbocker Glory, was?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April Fools "Carrot Cake" Meatloaf



It’s April Fools Day!  This is one of my favorite foodie days of the year!

By now, my kids know to expect something rather zany out of me.  I’ve made Meatloaf Cupcakes and tiny Hamburgers and a few other fun things (that need perfecting, so they aren’t blogged yet).



This year, I decided to take the cupcakes to the next level and turn them into a meatloaf cake!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Strawberry Moscow Mule




I’m flying in at the last second for Food n Flix again.  In Food n Flix, those who want to participate watch the selected movie make something delicious inspired by the movie and share! This month, Kimberly at Coffee &Casseroles gave us a broad selection by letting us choose any Tim Burton movie!

I’d already seen a few, had no interest in a few others and was having trouble choosing.  I enlisted Hubs and he was interested in seeing Alice in Wonderland.

When I was young, I saw the Disney animated Alice in Wonderland, and a few years ago I read the book, and yeah…pretty odd.  I can see why it was right up Tim Burton’s alley. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Homemade Strawberry Sauce



Let’s talk strawberry sauce!  A couple years ago, I shared a chunky fresh Macerated Strawberry Sauce that I served over pancakes.

More recently, I’ve been making silky smooth strawberry sauces.  One was used in a cheesecake (recipe coming soon) and the other is absolute perfection on ice cream and that’s the one I’m sharing today!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Fruit Race Cars



Hey, everyone.  How are you holding up?  I’m in the US where the COVID-19 pandemic is just rearing its ugly face.  School systems are shut down, which means I’m teaching from home (I’m an elementary teacher librarian) and teaching my own children.

Step #1 was to get my kids on a schedule.  It may not work for every family, but my kids thrive on routine!  Things go much better when they know what’s coming next.

We’re doing lots of reading, lots of crafting, lots of walks.  Next week we’ll start school work (this week was to be spring break), so it’ll be a bit different, but this week, we’re focusing on family and fun, in between recording read alouds for my students, that is!

Which bring us to today’s recipe, Fruit Race Cars!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Lolo Buns



On Tuesday, I shared a recipe for Creamy Lentil Soup (Dhal) for the Eat the World Recipe Challenge.  The recipe came form Fiji.  But it wasn’t the only Fijian recipe I made!

As I was researching, I also became fascinated my Lolo buns.  I wasn’t certain, at first, that I would actually make these.  They sounded so interesting (and I love making breads), but I learned that Lolo means coconut (and I really don’t care for coconut…actually no one in my family does).  Even so, I was interested and since I needed a can of coconut milk for the soup anyway, I decided to give them a whirl.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Fijian Creamy Lentil Soup (Dhal)



It’s the 10th, which means it’s time to buckle up, because we’re traveling the world!  This month’s destination is Fiji!

Fiji is an island, kinda between Australia and Hawaii, so I was surprised to find that the cuisine ha a strong Indian influence, featuring many curries and spice palates from India.

Indian food is always a pretty tough sell in my house, so I worked to find a more moderate recipe.  I actually found two, but I’ll share the second one in a couple days.

Since it is Lent and I’m Catholic, I decided to take a look at meatless recipes, since we abstain from meat on Fridays and I don’t eat seafood or fish.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese



I’m not going to lie.  I didn’t think it could get better than my previous version of Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese.  In that recipe, the pasta is cooked directly in milk to create a rich, creamy macaroni, but it does thicken up quite quickly after cooking.

I started to wonder if I could start my mac & cheese off with a cheese sauce (starting with a roux) to make an even creamier version and yes, yes I could.

This mac and cheese comes together just as quickly as others – the cheese sauce comes together while the pasta cooks!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Homemade Chili con Queso



A few years on the Superbowl, I randomly decided that I couldn’t handle processed cheese in my queso anymore and decided to make queso from scratch, but I still used a can of chili in the mix.

At the time, I realized the irony and wanted to make the entire thing from scratch, but just never got around to it!

And now it’s 6 years later and here we are.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Lavash Bread



It’s Cook the Books Club time and we’re back with another food-centric novel!

I like reading memoirs because they stretch me as a reader, but they are almost never my personal book of choice, so I’m always excited when a foodie novel comes my way!

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran is an interesting concept.  It follows 3 Iranian sisters who have fled Iran and are attempting to start a new life (and café) in Ireland.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Everything Bagel Mix



It’s time for this month’s Food ‘n Flix pick…well…sort of.

This month’s movie was Nina’s Heavenly Delights hosted by Heather at All Roads Lead to the Kitchen.

Based on the title and the cover art, I was skeptical (I also had to check the rating, because, yikes (turns out it’s PG-13)).  I read the synopsis and I was still not enthusiastic.  Then I realized that the movie wasn’t available at the library or on any streaming service and I was done.  Then my friend Cam mentioned having the same problem.  She got around it by watching trailers and clips on Youtube.  That I could do.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Rich Chocolate Cake & Circuit Board Cake




Last month was Dude's 12th birthday. TWELVE you guys!

When I asked him what he wanted for a birthday cake this year, the requested chocolate cake with chocolate frosting (my favorite, too!)

But that wasn't the real question.

The real question was how do you want your cake decorated?

Then, the big guy broke his mama's bear's heart a tiny bit saying, "it doesn't need to look like anything, just the chocolate."

Waaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!

My baby is big!!!!

Well, I couldn't leave well enough alone and I still wanted to make him a special cake, even if he wouldn't request it himself.

Dude love electronics in any way, shape or form, so I decided to make a cake that looked like a circuit board (honestly, you should see my basement right now, he takes everything apart, there are motherboards everywhere!) 


Then I decided to take it just one step further.  I knew I wanted to pipe along the edges, but instead of a regular pattern, I used a series of dots and dashes to write "Happy Birthday" in binary!

Monday, February 10, 2020

T’Bit (Iraqi Slow Cooked Chicken & Brown Rice)


It's time for this month's Eat the World recipe challenge and this month, we're heading to Iraq!

Oh boy, I thought, this will be a tough one.

My family, while pretty adventurous eaters, are not big fans of a middle eastern spice profile.  I could have given myself a break and made some sort of bread, but I felt it wasn't really in the spirit of the challenge.

Eventually, I found a recipe for T'bit - a slow cooked chicken and rice and hoped, that even though there were some unfamiliar spices, it would be acceptable.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, & Rice Casserole



How about a nice, comforting casserole for a chilly February day?  Because despite what that groundhog predicted, we’re in one heck of a cold snap in my area!

This is a recipe that I’ve been trying to perfect for years.  There have been so many versions!  And none of them blog-worthy until now!

I vaguely remember something like this recipe from my childhood, but never managed to get the recipe from my mom. So, I set out to make it myself and was just never successful.

Each and every time, the cheese was the problem.  The issue, I finally realized, was that I was trying to stir the cheese in last.  That is, I was leaving the rice just a bit liquidy (but still cooked through), then stirring the shredded cheese in.  The first few bites would be fine, but the dish would quickly congeal.  Still delicious, but unsightly.

Finally, I realized that I needed to make a roux and a cheese sauce first.  Ding, ding, ding!  We have a winner!

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