Archive for the ‘the Food’ Category

Um… this one is pretty easy to do, but it’s also the only one I have left, so… yea. As something to play with, though, you could try taking this idea and sweetening them. I bought mini-muffin trays and did a cinnamon/sugar bit with them that actually came out well (I didn’t write down how I did it though, but it took some tweaking to get them to puff with the smaller size and not burn, but it worked once I got it). I tried whole-wheat versions before (not because I’m a “whole wheat fan”, but some people around me are), and I have not figured out how to get them light enough to actually puff at all—they just come out more like biscuits.

Over all, these are my go-to thing to make when I’m requested to bring something, but I’m also pressed for time. They’re quick to throw together; the bake time is only half-an-hour.

Needed Tools:

  • Popover pan(s) or aluminum muffin pan(s) (I normally use muffin pans because I had trouble finding a popover pan anywhere and by the time I finally found a place that had them, I was already used to using the muffin pan and didn’t care—seems silly to have a pan with only one use anyway).
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Sifter
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Needed Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons melted butter/margarine
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups 2% milk (2% is the happy-middle of milk in baking, it’s not too heavy, and it’s not too light) at room temperature

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 425 (it’s also commonly suggested that you allow your pans to preheat also for about 2 minutes, but if you’re doing multiple batches and can’t really do that too easily, then it can be skipped, but it does help).
  • Sift the flour and whisk together the salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth.
  • Fill the greased pans less than half full and bake for 30 minutes.

This should make about 12 or so.

First off, you’ll have to bare with me on this one, although it is a good recipe, I haven’t really played with it enough to fully work out all the ingredient portions, so some of it you’ll have to just try playing by ear.

This should serve about 4 to 6 as it is, but increase things as you feel you need to within relatively these standards.


Needed Tools:

  • Vegetable peeler
  • Large pot
  • Saucepan
  • Knife
  • Bowls
  • Masher or electric mixer (masher might be exhausting, but I believe it gets the job done better)
  • Strainer


Needed Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound Parsnips (about 1 for every 4 potatoes, give or take—mostly, we want the slight hinted flavor of the parsnips, with the main texture coming from the potatoes)
  • Salt
  • About 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 head garlic, cut in ½
  • About 4 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper


What to Do:

On Burner 1:

  • Peal potatoes and parsnips, and chop into manageable portions.
  • Place both the potatoes and parsnips into a large pot, season with salt, and cover with water.
  • Place pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook until tender, for about 15 minutes or so (the tip of a knife should easily go through both potatoes and parsnips).

On Burner 2:

  • In the saucepan, place the cream, the thyme sprigs, and the garlic cloves over low heat and bring to a simmer.


  • Drain the large pot and reserve the cooking liquid.
  • Begin mashing with olive oil and a couple tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid.
  • Strain heavy cream mixture into the pot, season with salt and pepper, and continue mashing to desired consistency.

Unfortunately, I do not presently have any pictures to go with this one (taking pictures of my food is a rather new thing for me), but next time I get around to making this, I’ll take pictures and update (and I actually do plating and everything rather well with this one).

This is probably the most complicated recipe I have. It’s not complicated because it’s difficult though, so don’t get intimidated by the idea of trying it. It’s complicated because to do it in its entirety, it involves multiple steps and at least a day in advance to start everything. But, most of that time is actually in making the sauce, if you want to just do the ravioli without the sauce, then you can do that too.

I’ve broken this down as much as I could think to be able to. Hopefully it’s simplified enough for everyone, but if you have any questions about any of it, feel free to ask, and I’ll try to answer.

Needed Supplies/Tools:

  • Plastic wrap
  • Parchment
  • Rolling pin or pasta machine (if you plan on doing pasta often, I strongly suggest looking on Amazon and getting a pasta machine)
  • Pastry brush
  • Fork
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Knife and/or Pizza cutter
  • Ravioli tray or small ice-cube tray
  • Sifter
  • Food processor, or blender, or a lot of muscle and a masher
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Bowls
  • Pots
  • Frying pans
  • Strainer

Ravioli Pasta Dough

Needed Ingredients (all ingredients should be at room temperature):

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (plus about 1 cup for use as needed)
  • 2 eggs, 4 yolks
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • About 1 cup water for use as needed

What to do:

  • Separate you yolks (save the whites, you’ll need them later), and beat the yolks with the eggs thoroughly while mixing in the salt.
  • Lay out the parchment on your work surface. Sift the flour on the parchment area in a mound and make a hollow in the middle, try to keep your walls thick and solid (or you’ll have a mess).
  • Slowly pour the egg mix into the hollow. Don’t over-flow it, if you need to, only pour a little at a time, and then mix some of the flour in from the bottom of the hollow with a fork until the egg mix becomes more manageable. Then re-create your hollow, and continue pouring. Repeat this method until the egg mix is completely pored in.
  • Using both hands, work the flour into the paste, and begin kneading until the dough has a firm but slightly elastic consistency and no longer changes shape when you remove your hands. If the ingredients cannot be easily worked, add a little water (only a little, don’t drown it), then lightly brush flour over the surface of the dough (just enough to keep the dough from sticking to everything, but no more, or you’ll dry it out and have to add more water).
  • Cover with plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

My Ravioli Filling:

Needed Ingredients:

  • About 1 lb of your favorite ground meat. For this, I like to use a mild Italian ground beef that can be found at Kroger (it’s actually good enough, it could go on its own).
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon fresh oregano
  • Teaspoon course ground black pepper
  • Teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and broken
  • 3 whole cloves of garlic
  • Half a red bell pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt

What to do:

  • Brown your meat
  • Mix everything together evenly
  • Throw in food processor until everything is finely ground.
  • Put it in a bowl with plastic around it until needed.

Bringing the Ravioli and the Filling Together:

Needed Ingredients:

  • The 4 egg whites from earlier
  • 4 teaspoons of water

What to do:

I’m going to give two ways to do this, since some may not wish to use a tray or just don’t have one on hand they can use.

Way #1

  • Cut the dough in half.
  • Roll out the dough as thin as you can get it.
  • Lay the dough out on the tray, gently tucking in into the slots.
  • Using a ½ teaspoon (or full teaspoon, depending on your slot size) as a scooper, tightly pack your filling, and place it in the slots.
  • Mix the water and egg whites together, and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the exposed dough.
  • Lay the second sheet of dough over the tray
  • Cut the pieces away with a knife or pizza cutter. With you fingers, press around the seal and remove any air bubbles. And gently pop the pieces out like you would ice-cubes.

Way #2 (can be a bit more pain staking, and it is technically tortellini, not ravioli)

Cut the dough in half or even in fourths to make the dough more manageable (if you’re using a pasta machine, you’re gonna really want to do this, or you’ll end up wishing you had a much longer table)

  • Roll out the dough as thin as you can get it.
  • Lay the dough out on your work space.
  • Mix the water and egg whites together, and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the dough.
  • Using a ½ teaspoon as a scooper, tightly pack your filling, placing the filling evenly on the dough giving it about an inch of space on all sides.
  • Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut away the squares (you may wish to do this one at a time until you get more comfortable with it—yes, it will be even more pain staking, but you’ll have it right).
  • How you fold them is up to you, but the way I prefer to do it is fold it diagonally from one corner to the other and make them into triangles, and cut away any excessive slack.


Needed Ingredients:

  • At least 1 quart of water for every 4 ounces of pasta (more is never bad, only less is)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt for ever 1 quart of water
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil for every 1 quart of water (to keep pasta from sticking)
  • About 2+ tablespoons of butter (it will be best to just keep the butter out for quick grabbing of more)
  • 1 table spoon of sliced sage

What to do (two parts):

Part #1

  • Add the salt, oil, and the water together and bring it to a rolling boil (you may need to turn the heat down to keep from boiling-over, but you must keep the water at state of bubbling).
  • Put in ravioli and let it sit. The water’s boiling will do most of the stirring for you, but you may wish to stir it a bit yourself as well for the sake of rotating the pasta from the bottom.
  • When the pasta reaches the state of al dente (when it feels soft to the touch but is very slightly resistant and firm in the center when bitten into), drain quickly into a strainer.

Part #2

  • In a pan over medium heat put in butter until it just starts to brown.
  • Toss in a few ravioli until coated.
  • Sprinkle the sage and toss again to evenly distribute.
  • Repeat as needed until done.

If you do not wish to make a sauce, you can just as easily eat the ravioli with nothing more than some melted butter and grated parmesan.

Wild Mushroom Demi-glace Cream Sauce:

Demi-glace (I’m going to give you the simple Julia Child “semi-demi-glace” version, but this still takes at least half a day to make, so give yourself time for this part—in the end you will realize why I also recommend using this to replace everything that calls for beef broth):

Needed ingredients:

  • 2 quarts of beef stock
  • (optional, but advised for thicker stocks) 2 tablespoons of red wine.

What to do:

  • In a large saucepan, bring stock to a boil adding in the wine.
  • Turn the heat down to low and allow simmering until the stock has reduced to about 1-2 cups. Remove any scum that rises to the surface as it simmers with a slotted spoon (with some lighter broths, you may not need to do this much at all).
  • Strain into an air-tight storage container.

The Sauce

Needed ingredients (strongly advised that you have everything pre-measured and ready before starting anything, since this will be largely on a high heat and can burn easily if not watched):

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thickly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound assorted wild mushrooms
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup red wine (or another ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, I tend to prefer the sweetness of the balsamic over the wine, but either works)
  • 1 cup demi-glace
  • ½ cup heavy cream

What to do:

  • In a large sauté pan over high heat, add olive oil.
  • Add the red onion and sauté until tender. Season with salt and red peppers.
  • Add the mushrooms and bay leaf and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown (about 4 to 5 minutes).
  • Deglaze the pan with the balsamic (the first ¼ cup—highly recommended that the area is ventilated for this part and/or you have the exhaust fan turned on… vaporized acid kinda burns the eyes a bit).
  • Add the parsley and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the red wine (or the second ¼ cup vinegar) and demi-glace and reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
  • Add the cream and stir to combine.
  • Simmer for another few minutes or until the sauce coats the back of the spoon.

324455_2518830087249_376842630_oMy Rum Balls

This is, obviously for combustion reasoning, a refrigerator-cookie, so there will be no oven needed.

Needed Tools:

  • Bowl
  • Masher or blender or food processor (for finely crushing things)
  • Sifter
  • Baking sheet
  • Plastic wrap

Needed Ingredients:

  • ½ cup powdered sugar (about ½ cup extra for rolling later)
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ finely chopped walnuts (you can also use hazelnuts, pecans, or almonds based on your preference or its availability)
  • 1 ½ cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ cup Bacardi 151 (unless you’re a sissy, of’course, then you can go with some sissy rum… sissy)

What to Do:

  • Sift together first ½ cup powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and allspice.
  • Stir in the rum and corn syrup.
  • Stir in the vanilla wafers and walnuts, and mix well.
  • Place in the refrigerator to firm up for about 30 minutes (or until dough is firm enough to be able to form into a ball).
  • Place remaining ½ cup powdered sugar in a bowl.
  • Shape the dough into balls about 1-inch (the batch amount will depend on the size of the balls).
  • Roll the balls into the powdered sugar until thoroughly covered.
  • Place on baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

My Russian Tea Cakes

These are extremely simple to do. I’m giving you the basic tabula-rasa version of them, but they are very easy to completely change up and experiment with. Commonly I make these every year to serve as the kids’ version of Rum Balls.

Needed Tools:

  • Baking sheet
  • Bowl

Needed Ingredients:

  • ½ cup powdered sugar (plus about another ½ cup or so for rolling)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup softened butter or margarine

What to Do:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350
  • Mix everything together thoroughly.
  • Shape the dough into balls about 1-inch (the batch amount will depend on the size of the balls).
  • Place them on a un-grease baking sheet.
  • Bake 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove and let them slightly cool on a wire rack (but not too much, you want them to be warm enough for the powered sugar to stick, but not so warm that the powdered sugar melts).
  • Roll them in a bowl of powdered sugar, and cover them thoroughly.
  • And now just le them sit and finish cooling.

Now, I have tried many different variations of these, such as coffee, chocolate, chocolate-chip, speculaaskruiden, a random variation of all those together, and stuff I don’t even remember anymore. If you’re someone that likes to experiment with flavors, this is definitely the playground to do it in.

CIMG0011Spekulaas are a Belgian cookie that is among the traditional winter holiday foods in my family. Taste can be compared to similar to a “windmill cookie” (a lot of Dutch, Swedish, German, area of foods come very close to Belgian foods for pretty much the obvious reasons).

Mijn Grootmoeders Spekulaas Koekjes

Tools Needed:

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1.5cups softened butter or margarine
  • 4 cups brown sugar (preferably dark, for texture)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 +/- cups flour (you’ll need extra for lightly brushing the dough to make it easier to work with)

What to Do:

  • CIMG0009Hand mix all your ingredients (if you’re wondering how to do it bowl-free, it’s actually pretty easy—lay down your parchment on a large flat surface, measure out all your dry ingredients and mix them together, then mound them up, and form a bowl shape in the center, making sure to keep its walls dense—sandcastle or snow-fort builders should handle this easily—now put in your wet ingredients, and slowly combine everything together until thoroughly mixed—all this is good to keep in mind if I ever get around to posting one of my pasta recipes)
  • Form long rolls, and place in fridge until chilled (may need to let it sit over night to firm up properly)
  • Pre-heat oven to 350
  • Slice into cookie wafers and place on parchment layered baking sheet
  • Add sliced almonds
  • Bake for about 8 minutes

Makes about 20doz

Additional Note:

“Speculaaskruiden” (“speculaas spice”) is a combination of spices commonly used in many different Belgian baked goods. It can actually be found pre-mixes in the spice section of some stores, much like pumpkin spice, or apple spice, etc,  but in the US, it’s a bit of a search for it. My Grandmother’s version of Speculaas simplified the spices to only a couple things (which makes it a bit bland, but still eatable), but after doing research on the cookies I came across the spice combination, and gave it a try—it is a lot better (and from what my dad says, is a lot closer to the way his mother used to actually make the cookies). This combination only gives the basic ratio to work with, nothing precise, so don’t worry about getting obsessive over it, just work within the generalized region.


  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1/3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/5 tsp ground white pepper (a pinch)
  • 1/5 tsp ground cardamom (a pinch)
  • 1/5 tsp ground coriander seeds (a pinch)
  • 1/5 tsp ground anise seeds (a pinch)
  • 1/5 tsp grated nutmeg (a pinch)

CAM00029After many years of having holidays with a dish of sweet potato casseroles that were more tiny marshmallows than anything else, and most people never eating it because it was an overly sweet, gross mess, I set out to repair this tragedy of culinary arts. In most recipes I have created, they are a combination of at least 3 or so different chefs plus my own details. I actually do a lot of research to the extent of “Good Eats” level of understanding of not just how things taste, but why. The end result of all this research brought me to this recipe, Sweet Potato Mash. It made all the sweet potato haters in my family, including myself, into sweet potato lovers, and I ended up officially replacing the person who originally made the sweet potatoes (she now brings store-bought pies). You’ll notice the key detail would be the topping is not a bunch of tiny marshmallows… that’s important—all ingredients should work with each other; none of them should dominate so much you can’t taste anything else.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

And, I normally do cookies for Christmas, so that’s probably where I’ll be going for the next food post (I’m not sure which cookies I’ll post on though).


Needed Tools:

  • Baking sheet
  • Knife
  • Bowls
  • Skillet or frying pan
  • Pot big enough for about 4 pounds of potatoes
  • Masher or electric mixer
  • Tongs and/or spoon (or whatever works better for you with frying)
  • Baking dish

Needed Ingredients for Potatoes:

  • About 4 pounds sweet potatoes (I normally use about a ¼ ratio of red and white sweet potatoes—the white has a bit more subtlety to it and creates a better contrast)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (home-style of the jug works too)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or margarine
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • about 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • about ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground or coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 cups chicken broth (preferably low sodium, or sodium free)

What to Do:

Part 1:

  • Preheat the oven to 375-degrees
  • Prick the potatoes several times with a knife and bake for about 1 hour or until the tip of the knife can go through easily.
  • Take the potatoes out and allow to cool just long enough to be able to handle, then cut in halves and scoop out the insides

Part 2:

  • Place the pot onto the stove on a medium heat
  • Add butter, and add the orange juice, allow the juice to cook out for about 1 minute.
  • Add the potatoes and the broth, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, pepper.
  • Begin to mash to desire consistency, while gradually mixing in the cream.
  • Pour into a baking dish

Needed Ingredients for the Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
  • 3 to 6 northern apples (Michigan, McIntosh, etc), peeled, cored, and cut into eighths (because that’s what the apple slicer cuts it into)
  • 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar

What to Do:

  • Melt the butter in a pan over medium-high heat
  • Add the apple wedges and brown sugar
  • Cook and thoroughly coat for about 5 to 10 minutes until lightly browned on both sides.
  • Place on top of sweet potatoes
  • Bake the potatoes and apples for about 20 to 30 minutes until heated through.

As a warning, in researching sweet potato recipes that brought me to this one, I came across tips on how to store the potatoes which mentioned that they should never be refrigerated because it will cause them to loose their flavor. I have come to realize that this rule is important to take note of even with left-over concoctions, as I discovered this recipe is fine to be refrigerated for only about a day or two before it goes from a big plate of joy, to a big plate of disappointment.