Halloween Lunch

In honor of Halloween, everything on today's Lunch Menu was orange!! It was also 100% vegetarian! Tomato Basil Soup, Sweet Potato Fries, and clementines for dessert!

Sweet Potato Fries

1 small sweet potato
1 tbsp olive oil
salt (2 pinches)
*heat oven to 450 degrees. cut sweet potato into uniform fry pieces. arrange on baking sheet lined w/parchment paper. top with olive oil and salt. bake for 15 min flipping fries halfway, then broil for 5 min.

Tomato Basil Soup

8-10 tomatoes on the vine
15-18 basil leaves
1.5 tbsp butter (unsalted)
3 c ck broth
3 c tomato juice (Campbell's)
.5+ cup heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste
italian cheese blend for topping
*peel and core tomatos. heat oil along with butter. place tomatos and basil in blender and puree to desired consistency. add tomatos to pan and cook 10min. add broth and tomato juice and simmer 20 min. add salt, pepper, and cream. turn off heat. serve with shredded cheese and add'l pepper on top.


Squash Soup (Tsai Gua Tang)

4-5 c squash (peeled & cut into large chunks)
3 cloves garlic (sliced)
1 tbsp satay powder
.5 tsp white pepper
salt to taste
2 c water
*heat oil on medium and saute garlic. add squash, satay powder, white pepper & salt. stir to coat squash and slowly add water. cover and simmer on medium for 7 min.

I got to make this soup with my mom! I didn't think to take a picture of this at the time so that's kinda upsetting but this is a brothy soup and it's really tasty! The squash gives the soup a really distinct taste and the satay powder added a lot of flavor.


Cherry Slab Pie

Pate Brisee (prepare 1 day ahead)
6 c (2 lbs) frozen cherries 1.25 c sugar
.25 c cornstarch
.25 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp heavy cream
.25 c sanding sugar (for sparkle)
*375 degree oven. mix all ingredients except pate brisee. roll larger piece of pate brisee to 18"x13" rectangle (enough to hang over rim) and place on baking sheet. pour cheery mixture on top. roll 2nd piece of pate brisee into 16"x11" rectangle and place on top. fold bottom crust up and pinch with top crust. prick all over with fork. optional: brush top with heavy cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar. bake for 40-55min (top should be golden brown and filling bubbling). cool for 45 min before serving.
**15"x10" slab pie

It turned out so pretty and it smells so good! Several mishaps happened along the way, and I've learned from it so all is well. I didn't roll out the bottom crust large enough to hang over the sides of the rim so I had to do some creative side pinching. Unfortunately, that didn't really work as you can see. The filling found it's way out of the crust -- but it's still tasty :) I almost forgot to prick the top crust but I was nosy enough to check the pie 5 min after sticking it in the oven to see a ginormous bubble dome in the middle of the oven. So I had to attack it to deflate it -- haha!

Texas Chili

.25 c canola oil
4 lbs ground beef
1 onion pepper
7 cloves garlic, 6 jalapenos
2 tbsp cilantro (fresh), 2 tbsp oregano
1 tsp asian white, 1 tbsp tumeric, 2 tsp nutmeg, 1 tbsp paprika
2.5 tbsp cumin, 4.5 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp ketchup, 4 tbsp asian chili sauce
3 tbsp salt, pepper to taste
2 c beef broth, 2 c beer
4 tbsp flour, 1 tsp cornstarch
*heat oil in pan. brown beef and drain fat. add rest of flavorings, beef broth, and beer. let simmer 20 min. once all ingredients have softened, add flour and cornstarch to thicken.

Here it is! My first chili! I love the consistency and the taste of it! It's stewy and it tastes smoky with a lingering spicyness in your mouth. It's not hot enough to need a drink of milk, but you can taste the heat and you'll want to have another bite. Wish me luck! I hope I win tomorrow!!

Chili Favors

Every year on Boss's Day, our group has it's annual Chili Cook-off. This is my 2nd Boss's Day celebration and 1st time entry in the Chili competition. I also volunteered to help with preparations and my first job was to think of a creative way to package the prizes and favors. The favors for contestants are 2 little jars of hot sauces and the 1st and 2nd place winners get gift certificates to Chili's. Here's what I came up with -- I thought they were pretty cute :)

I was given red cellophane bags w/twist ties, tissue paper, and a bunch of balloon ribbons. The cellophane bags were really boring to me and with just the hot sauces sitting in them, looked really cheap. So I took yellow and green ribbons and cut them into 2ft long sections and made them all curly. I dropped a few ribbon sections of both colors into the bag with the favors and pulled out 3 strands for overhang as I twist tied the bags. Then I curled the ends of the overhanging ribbons. For the 1st and 2nd place prizes, I taped a popsicle stick to the gift card envelopes and stuck them on top of the bag -- so it looks like they're growing out of it.


Pate Brisee

3.75 c All-Purpose Flour
2.5 tsp Salt
1.2 tsp Sugar
3 sticks Butter (unsalted, cold, diced)
.5 c+ Iced Water
*mix dry ingredients and cut in butter. stream in .5 c iced water plus add'l in tbsps. dough should be like "good dirt". shape & chill in fridge at least 1 hr or overnight.
**enough dough for 15"x10" pie

So happy! I made the dough by hand with the help of a pastry blender. At first I planned to use an electric hand mixer when it came time to add the water. As I put the whisk attachments on the mixer and plugged it in, I decided to just use my hands. When I first started adding the water, I had my doubts but I just kept folding the dry mixture and about a minute later the dough began to take it's shape :) After that I added the rest of the water and kneaded the dough for another 10 minutes or so on the counter. Now I just have to refridgerate it over night and it'll be ready for use tomorrow. Only got to use 1 of my nifty cooking tools but I love it already -- 23.5"x15.5" silicone baking mat. I've always hated having to roll out dough on the counter directly because in the back of my head I always doubt that I'v cleaned it enough (i know: paranoia). This thing is HUGE!! I love that I can wash it with peace of mind and as often as I like.


Mini Turkey Burgers

1/2 lb ground turkey
1 jalapeno
1 garlic clove
cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper (eye-ball it)
worcestershire sauce (eye-ball it)
*heat cast iron grill on meduim high. mix all ingredients and shape into 4 mini-pattys. cook on grill 3 min on each side.

I love homemade burgers over fast food ones mainly because I can add so much more flavor to the pattys and they're super meaty! So I was kinda sorta craving a burger but I didn't want to buy 8 burger buns that I would never be able to finish and I wanted the bread to be a good hearty multi-grain bun. I was in the bakery section of the grocery store and I found these multi-grain dinner rolls that I could buy individually and were a lot smaller than a regular bun. And the rest of the meal just came together after that. I used asparagus spears in place of fries and for dessert, a few slices of tangerine.


Journey to the Oven

I'm only halfway assembled but I think I've got all the essentials I need for now. I've got 2 baking sheets, a non-stick heavy rolling pin, a pastry blender, hand mixer (kinda), measuring instruments, and mixing bowls. That should be more than enough to begin my journey to becoming a skilled homebaker. Not just any homebaker, but a homebaker fit to rival Martha Stewart and her crafty minions. Muwahahaha!