Friday, July 31, 2009

Veggie Patties

My love of burgers is no joke. Grill them, fry them, fast food, gourmet, or homemade, I will cherish it and enjoy every bite. I'm still on my quest to use up everything in the fridge before we go to the beach and seriously trying to cut back on the fatty foods during this final week before heading south. Don't let the bacon fool you, I still enjoy my vegetables and I have nothing against veggie burgers except for the name, it's not a burger, it's a patty. Burger implies some form of ground meat, no? Back me up here, people. I digress, my main issue with most veggie patties you buy prepackaged is that they always really odd things mixed in (anyone care for some disodium guanylate or methyl cellulose?). I also really don't like it when they have rice, but that's a separate story. I decided to use up the last of the zucchini as the main component of my patties, the only rule I set for myself was that I wasn't allowed to open any new food items or packages, only use things taking up space, I think this proves that when it comes to foods like this, you can improvise any which way you please and anything goes.  

Veggie Patties
- 2 finely grated zucchinis 
- a handful of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- a handful of frozen peas, thawed but not squeezed
- 5 mushroom sliced into thin sticks
- 3 eggs
- a handful (literally, hand in bag and grab) of shredded mozzarella cheese
- couple spoons of flour

I was really hoping to shred some carrots in there and throw in a handful of corn, but my dad pickled all the carrots and the only corn we had was an unopened frozen bag. I was also too lazy to cut any onions. I mixed all the ingredients together and seasoned with the following: salt, pepper, paprika, and cinnamon. I then fried them in a little bit of olive oil. Originally, I didn't put in any flour, but the first few wouldn't hold together so I mixed in a few spoons to thicken it up and they held together beautifully. I also cooked some bacon in the oven while I was doing this. I had to. Bacon makes me happy. I used a little bit of fat free sour cream instead of mayonnaise, added some sliced tomato and hot sauce, and made myself a fantastic sandwich. 

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zucchini Bread

Writing this post made me realize my cousins, brother, and I REALLY need to work on getting better at taking pictures together. 
This is over a year old! We're terrible!

When we were younger, my cousins (one boy and one girl) used to spend weekends a lot at our house. We don't have a lot of family here in the states so our parents wanted to make sure we had a close relationship with the few we did. I was the baby, the boys in the middle, and my cousin Nanna (in the pic with me), was the oldest. Not huge gap though, just four years between the oldest and the youngest. I honestly don't remember what the boys would usually do, but play Nintendo is a pretty good bet. Nanna would often come with cookbooks from the library and we set about making a mess of the kitchen. For some reason, I remember making Snickerdoodles a lot with her. Anyways, it's safe to say that all those weekends baking with Nanna got me hooked and I've loved baking ever since.

I'm still trying to clean out the refrigerator, especially since the family vacation is coming up and I really don't want to have to throw a million things away before we go or come back home to stinky stuff. There are still a bunch of random vegetables I'm working through and the most abundant of all is zucchini. I was looking for something I could make and then freeze to take with us on the trip and that is also somewhat healthy, because let's face it, my control is nil and I can hear my bikinis cussing me out. So, helllloooooo zucchini bread! 

Zucchini Bread
3 cups flour (I used 50/50 mix of whole wheat and all purpose, from what I've been reading, either/or of each is fine)
2 cups sugar (again, a 50/50 mix of brown sugar and white sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda 
ground cloves (next time I make this, I would definitely also add some nutmeg)
1 cup oil (my indecisiveness took the best of me, again, 50/50 of olive oil and canola oil)
3 cups finely grated zucchini

Mix mix mix. Bake at 350 for half an hour-ish until a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bacon Cheeseburger Egg Rolls

One time someone asked me what my favorite food is and without hesitation I replied "bacon cheeseburgers". Judging by their reaction, that's not a normal reply. But it's true. I really do love bacon cheeseburgers. I tend to order them everywhere when I go out to dinner. Don't get me wrong, I love trying new things, and I'll eat everything and anything at least once, but there's just something so comforting about beef and pork joined together by cheese. I know Tucker Max hopes they serve beer in hell, and since I'm a glutton, I hope it comes with a bacon cheeseburger. 

Do you guys remember these? I had dreams about them, they looked so good. I love food that comes wrapped up or in transportable form. So convenient. I tweaked the idea just a tad and made something so delicious my eyes rolled. I'm trying to build suspense here, so I'm going to post the pictures in steps. 

I've recently become obsessed with cooking bacon in the oven. Yes, I am pouring the bacon grease into a pot, it has flavor I don't want to waste. 

All my components. I just cooked the beef with some onion in the bacon grease (get over it). 

Oh, yes, I did.


I only had 3 slices of bacon left and that was only enough for 4 egg rolls. So the remaining 2 were rolled up with extra cheese. Incredible. Perfect for an appetizer or movie night when you want a snack that doesn't require two hands or even looking at. Just pick up and eat!!! Now if you excuse me, I need to go throw away my bikinis and buy a muumuu. 

White Chocolate Strawberry Egg Rolls

This behavior really needs to stop. I'm going to the beach in two weeks and I don't plan on taking much more than sundresses and bikinis with me.

So the fact I'll fill egg roll wrappers (same basic story as the won ton wrapper) with white chocolate chips and strawberries and eat them with ice cream is creating a personal conflict of interest. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Strawberry Banana Cobbler

On my quest to clean up the fridge I stumbled upon 2 eggs chilling in an 18 egg carton, 2 half sticks of butter, and some strawberries that no one was going to eat on their own anymore. Hmmm... glance over at fruit basket. Bananas. Strawberry Banana....??? Another awesome combination. I've also been wanting to make a cobbler for a while since I've never made one before and this blog is starting to become an excuse to make new things. I read a bunch of different recipes and came up with what I think is a pretty generic cobbler topping. I would say the only thing that stands out from mine is that I used more butter (go figure) than all those that I read and I added vanilla. I also forgot to measure stuff, I need to work on getting better at that. 

Anyways, I now present to you: Strawberry Banana Cobbler

Fruit Layer
I shouldn't even bother writing this part out, but here it goes anyway: a bowls worth of slightly wrinkly strawberries and two bananas, all sliced and mixed together with a few spoons of sugar and a few spoons of flour to keep it from all getting super soggy

Cobbler Topping
1 cup flour (the one thing I remember to measure)
1 stick of butter, cut into little pieces 
couple spoons of sugar 
a teaspoon-ish of baking power
a blob of milk (I used skim, don't think it matters, my guess it was around a 1/4 cup)
one egg (ugh still have one lingering in the fridge!)
a plop of vanilla 

Butter a baking dish really well and pour in the fruit mixture evenly. Mix all the cobbler topping ingredients together to make a dough, it will be very sticky. Place the dough in chunks over the fruit filling and bake at 350 until the golden, about 30 minutes.

Sooooooooooo yummy, just make sure to save some for your big brother so when he comes over he doesn't complain that he never gets to eat the stuff you're making and posting on your blog.  

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Mexican Pizza"

Do you ever get that accumulation of odds and ends in the refrigerator? The half can of something, the crumbly ends of that other thing, the open bag of cheese? Drives me bananas. I try to make what I eat so I can avoid that (except for the treats, I love treats, treats can linger all they want). Living with my parents, creates a smidge of a conflict with this. I drive my mom nuts because I'll throw stuff away to avoid leftovers or give them away when we have people over. Every so often I'll take some pity on those poor leftover tidbits and attempt to throw them together to make something for dinner. A while ago, John posted his recipe for Mexican lasagna on Epic Portions, and it made me drool. I've been wanting to make it for a long time, but I've just been putting it off. I still need to get my act together and make it for real. I had to mention it though, because that's where I got the idea for "Mexican pizza"
My leftover tidbits were some bacon, cheese, beans, jalapenos, beans, half a tomato, and half an onion.
Bottom layer: beans, corn, cheese, jalapenos, and bacon
Top layer: onions, tomatoes, cheese
I don't know what possessed me to cook it in the oven. It took longer than I was hoping for (I scarfed down leftover spaghetti while I waited) but it still came out delicious. I think next time I would put it in the toaster oven. Some sour cream and hot sauce, I was in heaven. 

Nutella Strawberry Won Tons

Oh, Monday. I can't complain though, I had an awesome weekend. Sadly, I had to miss the engagement party of a good and longtime friend because I went to the wedding of another super good friend, but I had the most amazing time. I was about to type out all the details, but the point is I didn't do any cooking this weekend, just a whole lot of eating.
Sssshhhh, I recycled the purple dress I wore to another friends wedding a few months ago. 

Good thing I have pics of things I've made in the past to share! A while ago I decided I wanted to learn how to make won tons, so I bought a pack of won ton wrappers, made normal won tons, and called it a day. Did you know won ton wrappers come in packs of 60? That's a LOT. So there I was, with a bunch of won ton wrappers and no clue what to fill them with. Until the light bulb went off. 
Recognize that little white jar? Nutella, oh baby. 

Strawberries + Nutella = Crack.

Just spread some Nutella on the wrappers.
Add some cut strawberries. 
Fold then fry. I don't own a deep fryer, so I just use a normal frying pan, and it works great. I imagine you could fill a saucepan or whatever with oil and deep fry, but then you have to pour it all out when you're done and blah blah blah. Just do what crinkles your socks. 
Soooooooooooo good!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bacon Bowl

I have two nephews who are the loves of my life. My older nephew, Cyrous, is four (and a half). A while ago I made super huge pancakes with my super huge spatula and stacked it with eggs and bacon. I called it the breakfast monster, Cyrous called called it a really big pancake and said he wanted some. So I cut it in half and got him a fork. 

He proceeded to eat all 5 slices of bacon inside and then said he was done.
My little bacon carnivore.

I wanted to come up with another bacon centered breakfast item. First thing that came to mind was the famous bacon cups, but I had to find a way to take it one step further. But let's work one step at a time. I wanted more of a bowl than a cup so I covered a mini-mixing bowl with foil and wrapped bacon around it. 
Popped it in the oven at 375 degrees, I have no idea how long it was in there. Enough time for it to look like this:
*insert Seinfeld shrinking joke here*

And enough time to whip up this:
onion, potato, steak seasoning, sausage, and egg (this is a pre-egg pic)

Pile it all in, and you have got yourself one awesome breakfast bowl.

Raspberry Peach Bars

The most common question I'm being asked is if I actually eat the things I make. The answer is, I do, and I love it. Then I'm usually asked how am I not huge, and the answer is simple, I work out and I don't eat like this ALL the time. For example, the day I made and ate the Tower of Love burger (also know as the Heart Attack Sandwich), I pretty much ate grapes and strawberries all day. You know, prep the body for what it was about to take in later. As for working out, I'm a monster in spandex at least 4 days a week, one of which is spent in Zumba. Don't know what Zumba is? The most fun you will ever have Latin dancing and booty popping with pelvic thrusts thrown in. Tower of Love was also eaten on Zumba day. 

Ok, so that was taken at my friends birthday party, but you get the general Zumba idea.

As for how I eat regularly, I would say I'm a pretty healthy eater. My hardest habit to break is sugar. I have a massive sweet tooth, so I'm constantly trying to come up with ways to feed my sugar addiction (or curb it? hm...) without feeling too guilty about it. Fruit based treats are always a good place to start when trying to come up with something that won't make a person feel bad about eating it later, throw in some oats for some added fiber and you're good to go. I like the idea of fruit bars because they're such an easy way to use up fruit that may have been sitting in your fridge for too long. I had some raspberries and peaches that had both gotten pretty mushy and I used those as the fruit layer. The crust and topping are very basic, so this recipe is very flexible, use what you want/have and enjoy!

Raspberry Peach Bars
-2 cups flour
-1 cup brown sugar
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-2 sticks of butter (I started with a stick and worked my up to two, I suggest doing the same so that as you mix you get a feel for the consistency you want, just make sure it's cold)
-1 and 1/2 cups oats (I used the kind you can microwave, I don't think it makes a difference at all, I know some people are super anti-instant oatmeal, but dude, get over it)
-2 cups or more fruit, depending on how thin or thick you want the fruit layer to be (I used a mix of raspberries and peaches, feel free to switch it up and be creative!)

Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with wax paper, or butter the bejeepers out of it. In a bowl mix together, the flour, brown sugar, oats, and baking soda. Cut the butter into little chunks and mix into the dry ingredients with your hands to make a crumbly mixture, continue to add butter until the mixture sticks together but still crumbles. This is not a cookie dough by any means. Press about half or more of the mixture into the baking tray. I wanted a thicker crust and a thinner topping, so I would say I pressed about two thirds of the mix into the tray and reserved one third for topping. 

Mix together you fruit filling. Mine was super juicy so I threw in a couple spoons of flour (I'm assuming cornstarch would do the same trick) to keep it from making everything soggy. Layer it evenly on top of the crust and cover with the remaining crust mixture. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about half an hour or until it starts to brown on the edges. 

See, brown edges.

Let it cool before you start cutting it, it's very flimsy when hot but firms and really keeps together as it cools. 

I'd love to hear what fruit combo's everyone comes up with! 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ice Cream S'mores

I have several obsessions: my nephews, my gym, Nintendo, my frying pan, bacon cheeseburgers, Barbies, ice cream on skinny days, frozen yogurt on fat days, and S'mores. I'm sure there are more things but that last one I mentioned is the relevant one for this post. Ice cream and S'mores, awesome on their own, they have to be even more awesome together, right? YUP! 

One of the greatest creations, I must say, are those silicone baking trays. I have a square one that I used to make a giant marshmallow once. I also have a silicone cupcake baking tray and I used it to make the chocolate cups for these ice cream s'mores. They popped right out. I used just plain chocolate chips melted on a double boiler. If you plan on making this, and have a not so steady hand like I do, and fear you can't make thin cups, add some heavy cream and have it be a ganache. That way when you bite into the cup, you'll actually be able to. I used just the plain melted chocolate but made the cups a tad too thick and they were, how do I put this nicely as to not insult myself? Hearty, let's go with that. They were hearty. 

Once the cups were cooled, I layered broken up graham crackers, vanilla ice cream (clearly, a skinny day), more broken up graham crackers, and then a top layer of chocolate. Back to the freezer they went to firm up and not even an hour later, look at what I had! An awesome midnight snack. 


I have a good friend, Chris, who in my opinion, has the most classic French story ever. A few years ago, Chris went to France and walked into a bakery asking for a chocolate croissant. After seeing it in the bakery window he asked, in French, for a chocolate croissant, only to have the Frenchman tell him that there is no such thing as a chocolate croissant. So Chris asked what he called that, pointing to the chocolate croissant, and the Frenchman told him, 

"pain de chocolat"

Bread of chocolate. For real. Bread of chocolate. 


Anyways, that's what I think of every time I hear French or anything French related. So when I decided I was finally going to make a cherry clafoutis, even though I had never even had one before to know what it should come out like, I had to hold back giggles in my head. Bread of chocolate. Oh, France. 

So a clafoutis is basically what happened a long, long, time ago when a French lady wanted to make a cake but didn't have enough flour. Then, she decided to make a custard but realized she didn't have enough eggs for that either, so she made a half cake/half custard. I totally made that up, but it sounds plausible. 

Cherry Clafoutis
2 cups pitted and cut in half cherries (although any fruit would work)
3/4 cup flour
a teeny bit of salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar 
plop of vanilla
1 and 1/4 cup milk
a smidge of baking powder (this wasn't in any of the recipes I read that I used to put mine together, but I read a lot of people that had theirs come out very dense and I feel this helped keep it light) 

Butter a baking dish and place the cherries evenly in the dish (don't worry about which side is up or down, it all will float when you pour the batter). Mix everything else together (it will be thinner than pancake batter, so don't be worried if it seems kind of runny) and pour on top of the cherries. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes (edit: my friend made this as well and hers was done after 20 minutes, so make sure to check on it frequently, when you move and it stops jiggling, it's done), it will poof a little in the oven and deflate ever so slightly as it cools. Served warm, it's amazing with ice cream. My nephews ate it plain and loved it

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Doughnut Bread Pudding.

This was my last post on Epic Portions, and I like to think I went out with a bang. This dessert was dangerously easy to make and delicious. 

Paula Dean and I are soul mates. She fries things, I fry things.   She loves bacon, I buy it in bulk.   She has a southern accent, I can fake a southern accent really well.   However, when she introduced the world to Krispy Kreme bread pudding, she lost me a little. Why? One wrinkly little word: raisins.  I hate them, can’t stand them, pick them out of muffins and carrot cake, truly can’t stand the little buggers. Her recipe also calls for canned fruit. Omg, what the fart monkey. Whatever, back to me.   Safeway had doughnuts on sale, so what better time to make doughnut bread pudding? I followed my original bread pudding recipe, using cream, milk, eggs, coconut, vanilla, and white and dark chocolate. New to the mix were the doughnuts, replacing the usual challah bread, banana/chocolate cream, and sliced bananas. The beauty of bread pudding is that you can be so creative with it and it’s a great way to use up little things left over, for example the two half eaten bananas I had in my fridge. Such an an breezy dessert or snack.   Just make sure to let the mixture soak up the liquid, otherwise you’ll end up with a crunchy, dry, crouton bread pudding.
Ingredients, minus the heavy cream and milk.

11 and a half doughnuts cut up. Yes, I ate some.

Mix all the wet ingredients together and pour on top of the doughnuts and add chocolate chips, but not too much chocolate, it's not the main focus of the dish. You also want to make sure you have enough liquid to soak all the doughnuts, don't be scared to add extra milk.

Bake until golden, it will still be kind of mushy but firm up slightly when it begins to cool.


Tower of Love

I’ve always wanted to make the grilled cheese sandwich burger before and that’s pretty heavy, so I figured that was the perfect place to start. Bacon just feels natural to me, so of course that was going to be worked in. And more cheese, I love cheese. Normally I wouldn’t advocate the use of the plastic cheese, but it flows with the overall scheme. Still, something was missing. Then I remembered when I made the sausage stuffed french toast and someone suggested sausage gravy, I had never made sausage gravy before so I thought it’d be fun to give it a try. Super easy! Concerns me actually, if I can whip up sausage gravy in a few minutes now, what’s going to stop me from putting on everything. I digress. I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here…

7 slices of bacon

First time making sausage gravy, so much easier than I thought! Just cook the sausage, place on a plate, heat milk and a little flour, season with salt and pepper, add sausage and cook until thick.

Frying the grilled cheese and burgers in bacon fat.

And so it begins.

Lay it on thick.
Hm. Pork.
Hm. Beef.

More hmmm.

Loving it.

Love it.