Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New loves

Having my grad work load greatly reduced this semester has freed up time to pursue other hobbies, in particular, cooking. I've been spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and have been loving every minute! Here are some of my new favorites dishes.

Mound of Mini-muffins
This recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins is excellent. I make up a mound of muffins almost every week for student movie nights. The muffins are perfect for students--a little bit sweet, but not too sweet for their tastes. I stopped making cookies for students after the "add less sugar incident". Butter is too precious to waste on those who don't appreciate the final product! (Sidenote: yes, that is a large Ohio State popcorn bowl in the background. The Wus found that and gave it to me for Christmas. I think secretly they wish they were Ohio State fans instead of Michigan fans.)

Homemade Granola & yogurt

After four years in China, I've finally found a breakfast I love that is quick, easy, and healthy. I've been making up batches of granola ( recipe, I just kind of throw stuff in combining many recipes. One hint though, mashed bananas and honey can be used instead of oil for a healthier granola). In the mornings I mix that with yogurt and fresh strawberries. It's a perfect start to the day!

Pasta with zucchini & grape tomatoes
People, this dish is divine. I found this recipe about two weeks ago and have made it three times since then. For those of you who may shrink back at the mention of zucchini, trust me. I used to turn my nose up at the slimy vegetable (just ask my mother). However, I have grown to love it in certain dishes. In this dish it is simply incredible. There were many adjustments I made to the recipe: there's no cream here (let's be honest, this is probably a good thing) so I substituted milk, I used chicken broth (hot water + chicken bouillon) instead of wine, and I had to settle for dried herbs instead of fresh. With all of those changes, you'd think the final product would take a hit, but the taste is out of this world. Do yourself a favor and make it today!

Focaccia Bread
The title of this recipe is "the easiest homemade bread", and after making a variety of yeast breads, this truly is the easiest and quickest I've ever made. It quite possibly might also be the best as well. Easy and scrumptious? What more can you ask for! I followed the recipe pretty closely, except I left out the olives (can't get them here and don't want to get them here) and I bumped up the amount of garlic. Garlic is ridiculously cheap here (we're talking about ten heads for 25 cents), and I honestly don't think I've ever tasted something and said, "ooooh, too much garlic". But those of you who don't have such a strong love affair with garlic may want to keep it at one clove. You can serve this as a side for the pasta dish (it's great with a little olive oil & parmesan to dip in). With the left-overs (haha...good luck having left-overs), you can make up something like this:This one is straight from my mind and combines some of my favorite things. I marinated pounded, cut chicken breasts in a tomato & basil marinade made by McCormick for a few hours. While I sauteed up the chicken, I made a concetrated pesto sauce. Since there is apparently no fresh basil to be found in the country of China, I made this from a mix, just adding less water and oil to form more of a concentrated baste. I brushed that on both sides of the focaccia (sliced in half). One side got topped with the chicken, sliced tomato, grated mozzarella, and parmesan. I also sprinkled some parmesan on the other half because I live under the assumption that one can never have too much parmesan cheese. Then you just broil the sandwich at a high temperature for a few minutes, until the cheese turns just a little brown. Then prepare yourself for an amazing explosion of flavor in your mouth!

It's a good thing I've also had more time to work-out...


Barbara said...

I'm looking forward to your cooking this summer at our house! My mouth is watering after reading about these recipes & seeing the pics!

Anonymous said...

anymore hints on the granola??? :)

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