Sunday, December 16, 2007

Molasses Crinkles

When my husband is home and there's nothing to do, he usually watches football or an episode of 24. When I am home and there's nothing to do, I bake. Basically it is a win-win situation for my husband when there is nothing to do at home. I made these cookies this weekend. I gave my husband a choice between these and chocolate chunk oatmeal coconut cookies, and he wanted these. These were good cookies, but not great. They are like gingersnaps but chewy. I baked them for 12 minutes and that was too long, should have baked them for 10 instead. I have one good cookie sheet (Calphalon, it is my favoritest cookie sheet in the whole world) and two cheap ones - they came out nice and chewy on the Calphalon sheet but too dark and crispy on the cheapie sheets. If we weren't moving overseas soon I would buy another Calphalon cookie sheet... oh heck, maybe I should just buy one anyway! I'll bring them both overseas with me, so that I can make nice, chewy cookies abroad.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Chicken Adobo

You probably cannot tell from my blog that I am Filipino, because I never make Filipino food. My excuse through the years has always been that Filipino food takes too long to cook - which is true. But then I realized, well, there are a lot of things that I make that take a long time to prepare, but I make them anyway - so that excuse doesn't really hold water anymore. I've also been inspired by Marvin at Burnt Lumpia to start reconnecting with my Filipino culinary roots. By the time I have children, I want them to appreciate at least some parts of our Filipino heritage. And what better dish to start with than chicken adobo?

Every Filipino family has their own recipe for adobo, depending on what part of the Philippines they are from. It's one of those Filipino dishes that you can count on being on the table at a Filipino party (along with pancit and lumpia). I copied down a recipe from my dad years ago for adobo (my dad is an awesome cook), but had never attempted to make it. It was kind of unnerving trying to learn how to make adobo from my dad, because he doesn't measure anything. Our conversation over a pot of pork adobo went something like this:

Dad: Ok, now you add some salt.
Me: Ok. How much salt?
Dad: (holds out his hand, cups his palm and pours some salt into it) This much.
Me: What is that, a teaspoon? Two teaspoons?
Dad: (incredulous) I don't know. (holds out his palm again) This much!

This week I finally pulled the recipe out of my recipe box and made it. In honor of my dad, I did not pull out the measuring spoons and just poured the salt into my palm. And oh, was it delicious. I felt like I was home. My house even smelled like my parents house for that hour or two (oh, the sweet smell of vinegar and garlic!).

Here is my dad's recipe for adobo. You can substitute 2 pounds of cubed pork (~1 inch cubes) for the chicken if you prefer.

Dad's Chicken Adobo

4 chicken thighs, skins removed
1 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1 cup water
6 cloves garlic, crushed
12 peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp soy sauce

Add everything except the soy sauce into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil for 15 minutes, covered. Lower the heat and simmer for an additional 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until desired doneness and the sauce is reduced to your liking. Add the soy sauce and stir until mixed in. Remove the bay leaves and serve over white rice.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I went to a Christmas party for my women's Bible study group this week. I found this recipe a few years ago, and always wanted to try it, but never did because it looked like so much work. It just sounded so delicious though, so I felt a little bold and decided that I was finally going to make it. People thought they were great (my husband loved them). But they are just so darn labor intensive. I have never made anything with phyllo dough, and it is very difficult to work with. The buttering of each layer, and then cutting them into strips (I used a pizza cutter) was the most time consuming part. Each individual pastry probably took me two minutes to make. So - would I make these again? My husband wants me to make them for New Year's, and has offered to help assemble them, so maybe. I definitely would not make them again if I had to do it all by myself. I read on the reviews that one person made it into a pie, which sounds easier. I'll have to look into that one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Icing

I was in a baking mood this weekend. I am not much of a baker - I lack the patience for cookies and I have an aversion to rolling pins - but it is one aspect of cooking that I would like to get better at. We still had several pounds of carrots left in the crisper, and I found this recipe for carrot cupcakes on Epicurious (I love Epicurious - the majority of the recipes I use from their site have been excellent). My husband really likes carrot cake, so I thought this would be a winner. It's a little different because instead of cream cheese frosting, you use orange icing; I've never combined oranges and carrots before, but I figure these recipe writers know what they're doing, after all it is their job.

These were tasty, and very moist. They even stayed moist for several days after baking, much like carrot cake. The orange flavor is subtle, but blends well with the carrots. My husband still prefers cream cheese frosting, but this is a nice, slightly lighter alternative. The only downside to these cupcakes was that they are a little bit oily - I would use a little less oil the next time around.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Fettucine with Brussels Sprouts and Pine Nuts

I have only eaten Brussels sprouts a few times, but enough times to know that I did not like them. Naturally, my husband was a little surprised that I picked this one for dinner tonight. Well, I had just happened upon it on Epicurious, and it had gotten so many positive reviews... so I thought I'd give the old sprouts another shot. It had been a while since I had tried them, maybe I would love them now that I'm an adult.

Well, before tonight I hated Brussels sprouts, now I am more neutral. My husband and I thought this was good, but not enough to make us Brussels sprouts lovers. I am just not a fan of bitter greens. I guess they get bitter if you overcook them, so maybe I overcooked them... I sauteed them for 5 or 6 minutes when the recipe said 4 minutes, but the recipe said to saute them until they were lightly browned and they weren't lightly browned yet - so who knows if I overcooked them or not. I don't know if I would make this again, but I would eat Brussels sprouts again if offered.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon

It was 6:45 pm tonight, I had just woken up from a nap and felt too cold to get out from under my blanket, my husband was watching the Bears game, and I needed to cook dinner even though I didn't really feel like it. We had spaghetti with Walmart sauce last night, so we couldn't have that again... and part of me felt bad about letting my husband eat oatmeal for dinner on a weekend, even though he probably would have been fine with that. So I got our from under my blanket and looked in the fridge to see what we had. Not much. We did have chicken in the freezer, but we already had chicken this week and I didn't really feel like meat tonight.

Then I remembered that we had a five pound bag of carrots in the crisper. I went on Epicurious to find a carrot soup recipe, and I had most of the ingredients for this one. This was delicious! I skipped the tomatoes because I didn't have any, used water instead of chicken stock, and skipped the grated carrot at the end. I also just zested one lemon into the pot rather than measuring the zest out, because I was lazy. We both thought this soup was excellent and will have it again. I would try it with tomatoes if I have them, and I would use less ginger next time (maybe 3/4 of a tablespoon instead of a full one). I liked a dollop of sour cream in my bowl but my husband did without it and still thought it was great. It made just enough for two good-sized helpings, which was plenty for the two of us. A nice, relatively healthy dinner on the fly tonight.

Update 01/11/08: I made this again tonight, this time adding a can of whole tomatoes and a couple teaspoons of chicken Better than Bouillon. I liked it better without these additions. I think I added too much lemon zest this time - next time I will measure it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Thai Chicken Curry

I'm getting back to my Asian roots and learning how to make some Asian cuisine now. I will confess that I am not Thai, but I really like the flavors of Thai cuisine. I found this recipe and made this for dinner this week. It was SO GOOD. It reminded me of the chicken curry at my favorite Thai restaurant, Mama Thai in Oak Park, Illinois. I doubled the green curry paste (bought the Thai Kitchen brand) - I started out with what the recipe called for and just added more to taste. The Thai Kitchen brand is not spicy at all, which is good because we are not spicy food people. I used green pepper instead of red, and threw in a few stalks of lemongrass when I added the chicken. I omitted the tomatoes, since that flavor combination just didn't seem right to me. I also just used chicken breasts instead of tenders and cut them into strips. This was excellent and I will definitely make this one again.