Why I Love America #2: Large Portion Sizes

Ξ June 16th, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Life, Food |

Cookie

I have lived in many countries, and the United States, by far, has the largest portion sizes that I’ve ever come across. At a trip to Marie Callendar’s last Friday, this cookie caught my eye. It’s almost as big as my head! There’s been a lot of criticism of the size of the meals that most American restaurants/fast food places serve to their patrons due to the U.S. population’s increasing weight. I, however, LOVE the portion sizes here! There’s nothing like going to a restaurant, paying for a meal, and having left overs for the next 1-3 meals. In most cases, the food here is comparatively cheaper than in Europe, and you get way more of it. Why would I complain about getting more food for the same price? BRING IT ON! I think obesity has more to do with people as individuals than the vendors that serve them.

My grandfather always made my brother and I eat everything on our plate. Even when we were full. I can’t wait until he comes to visit me here, and I take him to Claim Jumper.

Original post by melktart

 

Sushi at Home

Ξ March 2nd, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Food, Doodles, Cute, Illustration |

Sushi

Original post by melktart

 

Why I Love America #1: Packaged Cupcakes

Ξ February 18th, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Life, Food |

Cupcakes

As a South African teenager living in Greece and flipping through magazines like Seventeen and Sugar, I’d often daydream about what it’d be like to purchase one of the products shown in the those flashy advertisements. We didn’t have a CVS down the street where you could buy the latest CoverGirl mascara. There was no fat-free ice cream. And there were certainly no Sketchers stores or Starbucks coffee. After graduating high school in Amsterdam, I decided to go to America: the land where you can open a magazine, have your eye peruse an ad, and *gasp* actually go out and purchase that product the very same day!

I love making cupcakes. And now with more America in the mix, they’ve become even easier to make! Stroll down the street to your local grocery store, and you can purchase almost any pre-packaged flavor cupcake mix you can think of!

I made cupcakes tonight for a work colleague’s birthday. Thank you America, for making my life easier and tasty!

Original post by melktart

 

Soon.

Ξ February 5th, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Food, Doodles, Cute |

Soon

Original post by melktart

 

Aunty E’s Crunchies

Ξ February 4th, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Food |

crunchies

On Sunday I visited my Aunty E in San Diego, and we decided to make her deadly crunchies. This is one of the few foods that I will continue eating even when I’m full; there is no possible way that I can only eat one.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded flaked coconut (packaged)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4T syrup
  • heaped tablespoon of baking soda
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 heaped tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa (natural unsweetened)

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, coconut, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, add the butter and syrup and melt in the microwave until hot, but not boiling. Add the baking soda to the butter mixture and mix well. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Place mixture into a large 1″-deep baking tray, even out, and press down lightly. Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Make sure you check it though, because they can burn really easily. Mine were done in 20 minutes, so I just switched the oven off and left them in there for the remaining 10 minutes. You want a nice golden brown color. After they’re done, let them cool, and you can start making the icing.

For the icing, mix the powdered sugar and cocoa. Add 1/4 cup boiling hot water. Mix well. Pour over semi-cooled crunchies, and enjoy!

crunchies_process

Original post by melktart

 

Stuff My Shells!

Ξ January 29th, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Food |

Last night I decided to make jumbo pasta shells stuffed with ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and spinach. This is a Cooking Light recipe, and it called for a homemade marinara sauce. I thought it’d be fun to make my own marinara since I consume almost as much of it as I do ketchup, and this way I could use as much as I want (and not be limited to a small, store-bought jar).

Basic marinara recipe:

Ingredients

  • 3  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 3  cups  chopped yellow onion (about 3 medium)
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 3  tablespoons  minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 2  teaspoons  salt
  • 2  teaspoons  dried basil
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  dried oregano
  • 1  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 1  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2  teaspoon  fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
  • 2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3  (28-ounce) cans no-salt-added crushed tomatoes

Preparation

marinara.jpgHeat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sugar and next 7 ingredients (through fennel seeds); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vinegar; cook 30 seconds. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 55 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

I couldn’t have asked for a better sauce. The balsamic vinegar was a surprising, but very worth-while addition. If I ever make this again, I’ll either have to have logikal chop up all the onions, or I’ll need to get onion goggles. I’ve never teared up so much from chopping them before.

Stuffed Ricotta Shells recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2  cups marinara (I used WAY more…like 4 or 5 cups)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 1/2  cups  part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  onion powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 1  large egg yolk
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 24  cooked jumbo pasta shells

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spread 1/2 cup Basic Marinara over bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine ricotta and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl, stirring well. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling into each pasta shell. Arrange stuffed shells in prepared dish; spread with remaining 1 1/2 cups Basic Marinara. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I like a little more stuffing in my shell, so I increased the ricotta to 3 cups, and used a heavy hand with the Parmesan cheese. I like using Cooking Light recipes as a foundation, and then adding what I want. And I’m sorry, but more cheese is always a good thing.

shells.jpg

I paired the meal with garlic bread and a sauvignon blanc. I was going to steam some green beans to serve with everything, but I’d already had two glasses of wine and honestly, couldn’t be bothered.

All in all, this was a great meal. I might try adding some ground beef to the shells next time. This is definitely a repeat recipe!

Original post by melktart

 

Beignets

Ξ January 26th, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Food |

Saturday morning I decided to make beignets. Logikal and I discovered them at Downtown Disney one day, and fell in love with them. Who could resist sweet dough fried and drenched in a mountain of powdered sugar!? I came across this recipe last week, and decided to take a stab at making them at home. The trickiest part for me was getting the temperature of the oil right. I don’t have a candy thermometer, but I figured I’d just do tests by throwing little bits of dough into the oil. My oil was way too hot in the beginning, and instead of the beignets cooking for 2 minutes each side, it was more like 2 seconds per side. Surprisingly enough, the quick-fried beignets weren’t too bad! My last few batches were more successful, and yielded a cooking time of 2-3 mins per side, and a lovely golden brown color. I found that using my dutch oven and an electric range, it’s best to keep the heat at medium-low. I used canola oil for frying the beignets, and stored the remains in a glass jar in the fridge for use next time.

beignets.jpg

These were pretty easy to make, and I’m sure I’ll make them again in the future. Thanks to Nick for the recipe!

Original post by melktart

 

L’Amuse Bouche

Ξ December 15th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Life, Uncategorized, Food |

Two friends of mine from IRC (can you call them friends if you chat online a lot but have not met in real life?) ojuice and KillJoy are avid watchers of Top Chef. I had never seen it before, but I kept hearing really good things about it. I started watching this season (New York), and so far I’ve been enjoying it. In one episode they did a quickfire challenge creating breakfast amuse bouches. The three of us decided to create our own ones. They didn’t have to be limited to breakfast, and we had a week to create them. I like the idea of coming up with food themes and then creating dishes inspired by that theme. I thought about amuse bouche ideas all week long. I’ve been very busy the last couple of months with my book, so I decided to keep it simple and stick to dishes that I know, but re-creating them in bite-size portions.

AB_Egg_1The first dish I made was a breakfast dish inspired from my mother. On weekends she would often make poached eggs on toast with a thick cheesy sauce. I got the cheese sauce recipe and made some modifications of my own. Start off with a cup of milk in a small saucepan. Add 2 heaped teaspoons of cornflour or cornstarch to about a tablespoon of milk in a little dish, and mix into a paste. Add the cornstarch mixture to the milk in the saucepan, and turn the heat on to medium high. Add about a teaspoon of English mustard powder and about a teaspoon of worchestire sauce. As the mixture heats up, it will thicken. Once it’s of a thick consistency, add as much shredded cheddar cheese as you want. I usually add about a cup. Then mix it all up, and add a little cayenne pepper. Your sauce is now ready. Since I don’t have an egg poacher, I just boil eggs. Make some toast, top with the cheese sauce and boiled egg slices. I’ll then sprinkle the whole thing with salt, a little freshly ground black pepper, and some paprika for color. My my usually garnishes with parsley, but I didn’t have any (and I’m not a huge parsely fan). I’m bummed I didn’t have any, because I think a touch of green would have complimented the presentation of the dish a little more.

AB_Egg_2

AB_CookieI just finished baking a whole bunch of white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies this weekend for the holidays. I made two mini-cookies and created a little amuse bouche ice cream sandwich.

Original post by melktart

 

Smiley Fries

Ξ August 14th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Life, Food, Cute |

On the occasional, good day in high school in Greece, our tiny, dodgy cafeteria would reclaim itself by frying up a batch of these most super-awesome smiley face fries:

There is no better complement to ketchup than these things. They’d make up for all the times that creepy hairy Greek lunch lady would serve us tuna salad with bits of foreign objects and the occasional stray hair.

Apparently McCain makes these, but I’ve never seen them in a store anywhere. I think it’d be great to have ‘em again after 11 years of smiley withdrawal.

Original post by melktart

 

Bento Boxes!

Ξ August 8th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Food, Shopping, Cute |

Sometimes I think I go a little over-kill with the amount of exclamation marks I use, but when I get excited about something I can’t help it! “Bento Boxes” looks so…boring. “Bento Boxes!” is way more exciting. But anyways, I digress…

Almost every day, I visit various food blogs, and today I came across this one:

Soy and Pepper

I love the idea of fusing cultural foods together, and a lot of recipes on this site achieve this result. What got me very excited was this woman’s use of bento boxes:

Soy Pepper Bento

These are just a couple of examples, but I like the idea of presenting food in an organized and appetizing (and cute!) way. Looking at this block set me off on a bento box rampage. I spent about 2 hours researching the bento box, and which one would be best for my needs. I think I’ll be purchasing a few different kinds in the future, but for now I purchased the following:

Monkey Bento Box Set

  2 bento boxes

 

Sauce/condiment containers

Sauce and condiment containers

I purchased these through Bento Crazy. They have a PayPal payment process, which makes things quick and safe. Another site that I loved is Sugar Charms.  Their bento boxes are a little pricier, but there’s a huge variety of them, and they have lots of accessories.

So now I have to sit and wait patiently until my bento boxes arrive! This will give me some time to figure out what I’m going to make first.

Iz it to can bee bentow timz now plz? kthnx bai.

Original post by melktart

 

Typographic Tea Towels

Ξ June 27th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Food, Fontography, Shopping, Cute |

One blog that I visit almost every day is that of Scottish illustrator/designer Linzie Hunter. I really love her illustration style. She recently designed some silk-screened tea towels that I thought were just too freaking awesome:

Sadly, she no longer has these specific towels in stock, but she has some new ones in her online store.

I’m very inspired to try some silk screening of my own. Maybe within the next few months…

Original post by melktart

 

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