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Monday, January 31, 2011

Solidarity Sunday

I tend to live out my "cooking" life much as I live my real life.  I never take the easiest route, and I can be, yes, a tad high maintenance.  Pause.  Let that shock sink in.

Why make dried pasta when you can make it from scratch?  Why use a machine when you can roll it out by hand?

You may be catching on,  in solidarity with the pioneers and Italian mamas all over the world, I made pasta.  From scratch.  By hand.

Sage Pasta with Sweet Potatoes in a Pine Nut Sage Sauce

2 cups flour (plus more for dusting)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup water
1 tsp sage (if you wanna)
1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tsp sage
2 tbsp butter

2 sweet potatoes, cubed and roasted (instructions to follow)

1) Mix the flour, sage, and baking soda in a bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour in the egg, oil, and water.

2) Don't freak out when your well doesn't look like the picture tutorials on the internet.

3) Mix into a dough ball, knead, and let rest for 20 minutes, covered.

4) Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is 1/16th of an inch thick.  Or as thin as you can get it with your puny Norwegian arms.

5) Let rest, yet again, for about 10 minutes.  Or, make it 8 if  patience isn't your strong suit.

6) Roll the dough loosely into a roll.

7) Cut and unroll.

8) Exclaim "look Matthew, noodles!!"

9) Boil noodles for 2 minutes and strain.

10) Make sauce: brown butter, add in sage and pine nuts.  Smell repeatedly.  It smells goooood.

11) Toss pasta with sauce and potatoes.

12) Eat.

The Verdict:  Awesome, I think Matthew may have said "off the chain" again.  We both ate until we were stuffed.

How to roast a sweet potato:  Peel and cube potatoes, toss with olive oil and desired spices, bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Toss every 10 minutes.

Sweet potatoes just might be my new obsession...look out kale.

I'm going to go ice my arms, which are sore from rolling out pasta.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wife didn't do much Wednesday

My newest obsession, don't worry kale--I have not abandoned you,  is butternut squash.  For 97 cents you can get a huge squash and more than a few meals.

Roasted butternut squash and apple came from Kitchen Parade, another blog on my growing list of favorites.

A few tips.

Cutting and peeling squash is hard.  Cut the neck off to make it easier.  Or, better yet, tell your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, dad, roommate, or cat that you won't have time to peel and cube the squash, so that they will do it for you.

I came home yesterday to this.

Actually, I added the spices, but the squash was already cut.  Nice!

If you are going to use a sugar-free syrup substitute, use a little extra.  We couldn't taste it.

A final tip, eat it over rice, and then have enough left over to eat at parent-teacher conferences.


Extra special shout-out goes to my husband Matthew, for lending an extra hand with this meal, and for doing the dishes.  As usual.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Take Tuesday (Two)

*Disclaimer*--NOT the healthiest meal I've ever made.  But, I'm a firm believer in the fact that we all need to eat something that doesn't have kale in it, and is also really bad for us now and then.  This is, after all, the United States of America.

I raved plenty about our awesome date night to the Happy Gnome.  Because, well, it was awesome.

Matthew was away at a conference all weekend, and I decided to make a "hey you're back so I'll make something slightly unhealthy and kale-less"  dinner.

Chorizo Pizza (idea courtesy of the Happy Gnome)

1 recipe famous pizza dough
15 oz black beans
2 links chorizo, cooked and chopped
2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded

1) Chop the chorizo

2) Cook chorizo in hot sauce, or if you're lazy like me and bought it pre-cooked,  just brown it up.

3) Spread and smush (technical term) black beans on dough/Ignore dirty sink.

4) Top with chorizo and cheese.

5) My guest photographer has a style...have you noticed?

6) Bake at 500 degrees for 10.75 minutes.

7) Eat and grab a bottle of Tums for the wretched yet satisfying indigestion you are certain to experience later.

Every once and awhile is worth it.

I'd say to run out and grab the original from The Happy Gnome, but it's now off the menu.  I'm going to go cry now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Single Sunday, or Microwave Monday

And the obsession with kale continues.

I was still home alone Sunday, with nobody to judge me for eating kale 4 days in a row.  Several people have been begging me for some microwave-friendly recipes, so here you go!

Microwave (optional)  Black Bean Kale Quesadillas

1 tortilla, medium sized
1/2 bunch kale, washed NOT dried
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp salsa
1 tbsp taco sauce

This is a three step process folks.  Really. Easy.

1) Take your kale, with a little bit of water still left on the leaves, and steam in the microwave for 40 seconds, until bright green.

2)  Top tortilla with all ingredients (except for kale), and microwave for 1 minute.  Or,  bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-ish minutes.

3) Add kale to quesadilla.

4)  Eat.

Okay, I lied.  It's a 4 step process.

Matthew is home now, so stay tuned for a complicated, surprising, and surprisingly spicy recipe this evening.

How's that for suspense?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Salty Saturday

We all have our snack foods of choice.

My husband, for instance, has a sweet tooth the size of Texas.  This usually entails keeping our ice cream and chocolate choices in stock, and having various amounts of jelly beans stashed at home, the office, and at my parents' house.

I enjoy sweets, yes.  But give me the choice between a piece of candy and potato chips, and I'm going to pick the potato chips.  I eat popcorn on a daily basis, and Matthew often jokes he should just get me a salt lick.

While driving and listening to MPR, a task I do frequently, I heard tell of Kale Chips.  Kale, but in a potato chip form.  My new-found obsession with kale is obviously no longer a secret.  All alone on a Saturday afternoon, I decided to give it a try.

Kale Chips

1 bunch kale, washed, dried, and torn into "chip" pieces
1 tsp olive oil

I prepared my kale, and drizzled it with the oil.  Honestly, you could probably get away with less oil.  I added some salt and paprika (hoping to make them taste like "bbq" kale chips).

I baked these bad boys (can you call kale "bad boys?") at 375 for about 12 minutes.  You want them to be dark, dark green.  Not burnt.  Gross.

I found them to taste pretty good, and it certainly satisfied my salt tooth.

BEWARE:  If you have a "thing" about texture or consistencies, don't run home and make these.  I'd liken the texture to eating a dried leaf.  Mmmm leaves.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wrapper Wednesday

Ok, we have a pasta maker attachment for the Kitchenaid.  On Wednesday, I had every intention of using it.  But, then I didn't.

I blame Martha (Stewart, not Griffin)  who introduced me to the glory of faux raviolis in the form of wonton wrappers in my formative cooking stages.  So, wrappers it was.  But, butternut squash filling upped the ante a bit.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Kale Sauce

1 cup butternut squash, pureed
1 pinch nutmeg
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
12 wonton wrappers

1/2 bunch kale, shredded
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp sage
1/4 cup vegetable stock

It all began on Tuesday night, with the squash.  Which I roasted and pureed by myself while managing to only drop the squash on the floor once.

Here's the squash post-roasting and post-floor drop.

1)  Simply cut and gut (not for the weak-stomach) the squash and roast it for 1 hour at 425 degrees.

2)  Puree the squash in a food processor.  Wait for it to cool or you will burn your hand and drop the squash again

3)  Put the squash in the fridge overnight, since you will be very busy  making your own pasta from scratch...wait...that didn't actually happen.

4) Place squash in a bowl and season.

5) Place a dollop (technical term) of filling on each wrapper, and wet your finger as you go to use as "glue".  Fold wrapper in half.

6)  Boil for 3 minutes.

7)  Because wonton wrappers make rather "wiggly" raviolis, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and spray a little on top of the ravioli too.  Bake for about 8 minutes.  Until they're nice and crispy...

I think my guest photographer may have neglected his "after" shot here.

8)  In the meantime, brown the butter in a pan, add the sage and broth, and toss in the kale until it's bright green.

Oprah says that's how you know it still has all of its nutrients.

9) Top ravioli with kale and sauce and maybe a little cheese.

10) Eat

11) Buy more squash and hope you won't drop this one on the floor.  Repeatedly.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

(My) Take Tuesday

*If you ignore the word in parentheses, it's just like alliteration. *

Everybody has their favorite burger and fries.  I won't lie, In-N-Out burger is somewhere high on my list.  I'm married to a Californian.

Alas, In-N-Out was out of the question tonight, and in The World's Smallest Kitchen we are always searching for healthier, budget-friendly, space-saving options.  Also high on my list is the Planet Burger at Good Earth, which I have discussed recreating.

Tonight was my night.  I don't know if I'm even close, but here's my best shot.

Best Guess Burger

15 oz white beans, I used cannellini, I think Good Earth uses Adzuki
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup cashews and pieces
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, shelled
1 egg, beaten

(We're going to go in steps tonight, just for fun.)

1) If you live near Edina or Roseville, cease reading this blog and run, don't walk to Good Earth and order the Planet Burger, or order whatever you like.  It's all good

2) Dump all ingredients in a bowl (except the oil).

3) Gulp.

4) Dig in and mash into patties with your hands.

5) Place patty in pan with oil, cook 2-3 minutes on each side.  In general I always cook it about a minute longer than I think I should.  A good, scientific, rule.

6) Place on bun.  If burger falls apart in the pan, pick up the pieces (not off the floor), and mash together on bun.  It tastes the same.

7)  Eat, because it's way more appetizing than it looks or sounds, and is full of fiber and protein!

8)  Ignore paper plate, I'm husband-less tonight.

No burger is complete without fries.

SWEET potato "fries"

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into fries
1 tbsp olive oil
Chili powder

1) Preheat oven to 425

2) Toss fries in oil and seasonings

3) Spread evenly on greased baking sheet

4) Bake 10 minutes

5) Toss

6) Bake 10 more minutes

7) Eat. (Again)

8) Don't burn your mouth, though it may seem totally worth it.

So it's no In-N-Out burger, and it's not exactly Good Earth either.  But for being healthy, budget friendly, and space-saving, I will give myself a pat on the back.

Go me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Minimalist Monday

We love our pasta.  In fact, in The World's Smallest Kitchen, we like our pasta two ways.

A) Really Unhealthy

B) Super Cheesy

A) is always something we try to avoid in The World's Smallest Kitchen, and B) is something that I occasionally try to avoid, as I am in denial about being lactose intolerant.

I love cheese, but it doesn't love me back.  This pretty much rules out a lot of pasta dishes.  But, I was craving pasta, and looking for a way to use up some "aging" spinach in our fridge.

Mostly Healthy Pasta

Whole Wheat Pasta (we used spaghetti)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tbsp lemon juice
Italian Seasoning

First, you will need whole wheat pasta.  If your pantry is like mine, you will go to the store to buy whole wheat pasta, and then come home to find two opened boxes in the cupboard.  Whoops.   Don't tell Matthew.

Cook the pasta, and ignore your dirty stovetop.

In the meantime, pour the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic in a saucepan.  Place on low heat.  Drain the pasta, intending to reserve some of the water (like Giada always does), and then forget about it.  Pour the pasta into the sauce pan and toss.  Add the spinach and toss until it's wilted.  Season.

I told you it was minimalist.

Top with just enough parmesan cheese to keep your stomach happy.

Survey Sunday

My husband and I decided that we were long overdue for a date night out on the town.  We wanted to venture out and try a new restaurant, so Matthew decided to survey his friends on facebook.  Facebook is so useful.

Anyway I'll cut to the chase.  We decided on a place we had previously been for drinks, but never eaten at before.

Drumroll, please.

And the winner is....Geneva Lyman!

We went to The Happy Gnome.

The Happy Gnome is half restaurant, half bar in St. Paul.  We were not disappointed.

In case you are curious, we split a mixed green salad.  I had the beets risotto, and Matthew had a chicken chorizo pizza.  We shared, they were both amazing.  We didn't take pictures because even The World's Smallest Kitchen needs a night off, and we were too busy eating.

We ended the evening at Izzy's Ice Cream in St. Paul.  See: best ice cream ever.

Thank you to Matthew's facebook friends for giving us a long list of restaurants to try in the future.  It should be noted that a close second place goes to Andrew Beard, because we almost went to MASA.

Simple, Standby, Saturday

Saturday night found me dog-sitting the cutest puppy in the world for my parents,  and "babysitting" my younger, much wiser sister.

Basically she is more responsible than me, but I was in charge of dinner.

Homemade pizza, again.

This time, The World's Smallest Kitchen is back with some tips on making the best pizza possible.

1) "Age" your pizza dough,  let it rise, and then put in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight.  The dough is much more workable, and you can get a thinner crust.

2) Use sliced provolone or mozzarella instead of shredded, you'll get that chewy, delivery, pizza taste.

3) If you prefer a less "saucy" pizza, just use a can of tomato sauce and spice it up with your choice of spices.  This is the easiest way to make sauce, especially when tomatoes aren't in season.

Want proof of the benefits of my tips?

Look no further.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Whatever Wednesday

Apparently I'm on a blogging roll today.  Get it? Blog roll?  That's a little blog humor for you!

Besides soup, I think one of the easiest things to make to use random vegetables is fried rice.  Mostly because we always have a gigantic bag of rice on hand.

I have previously included a "recipe" for fried rice, so I won't bore you.  Except to say that with my new sophisticated taste buds I would consider adding any of the following items to your rice:

Red Pepper Flakes
Lime Juice
Low Sodium Soy Sauce

Very sophisticated ingredients, I know.

Oh, and kale is also pretty sophisticated in my opinion.

Make sure to take a picture of your fried rice with an artsy partial shot of the soy sauce bottle.  It makes all the difference.

Tater Tuesday

I think the perfect remedy to stressful, white knuckle, commutes is to cook with ones cast iron skillet.  Who's with me?

We had excess potatoes and eggs, so my brain was screaming: BREAKFAST FOR DINNER!

Spicy Cast Iron Hash

2 Potatoes, cubed
Olive Oil
Chili Powder
2 eggs
1 cup salsa, your choice
1/2 cup cheese, shredded

I boiled the potatoes for 5 minutes before cubing them (see: not long enough).  I cubed the potatoes and threw them in my skillet with oil and seasonings.

Fry the potatoes until they are done, and for the sake of not making my mistakes, please wait until they are ACTUALLY done.

Scramble two eggs, and pour the salsa over the top to heat.  Sprinkle cheese over the top.

If you have poor upper arm strength, get someone else to lift this pan into the broiler.  Because it's heavy.  Broil for 2 minutes.

Mmmm.  Crunchy potatoes.  Ooops.  Other than that minor detail, it was actually pretty good.

Hannah's Lesson of the Day:  Cook your Potatoes People!

Mellow Monday

You should know by now that we love soup.  I mean really, is there anything better than soup? Especially on long stretches of Minnesota days with much snow and cold and little sunshine?

The answer to my question is no.  On Monday, when one of my favorite blogs: Gina's Skinny Recipes, popped up with a Chicken Pot Pie Soup, my mind was made up.

I followed the recipe pretty exactly, but used vegetable stock instead of bouillon cubes, used broccoli instead of mushrooms, and used the George Foreman to cook the chicken (duh).

Peeling the potatoes is the most labor intensive part of this soup.

Also, for your information, this soup requires you to make a "slurry", which is basically mixing flour or cornstarch with a little bit of water and setting it aside before you add it into your soup/sauce.

It doesn't look very interesting.

But, the soup does!  It tastes just like pot pie filling!  Thanks to for this one.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seventeen Thousand Ingredient Saturday

Ok, I may have exaggerated a little... but, what's new?

Saturday evening was bringing company to the Itty Bitty Kitchen, I know the mind reels at the thought of more than two people in this small space, and the Flemings needed something to make.

My lovely husband has visited Thailand, and while were in Napa we were served a most delicious Thai meal (thanks again Karen!), so Matthew decided with our excess time on Saturday, we would recreate a Thai feast!

Our Ambitious Thai Menu

Chips with Nam Chim
Som Thom (Green Papaya Salad)
Red Curry
Sticky Rice with coconut and mango

As has become tradition I lined up all my ingredients, and took a deep breath. No, the Orange Crush soda was not one of the ingredients.

I started in on the Nam Chim. Nam Chim is like a sweet/sour/spicy dipping sauce. I improvised a bit.

Nam Chim

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
1/8 t salt
1-2 Thai chilis or serrano peppers if you can't find those
2 cloves garlic, peeled

I pulsed all the ingredients in the magic bullet, because, hey, why not? Don't pulse too long, so you still have chunks of garlic and peppers.

I then transferred these to a saucepan and brought to a boil, and then simmered for awhile. The sauce was a bit thin so one website suggested adding a tablespoon of cornstarch. So I did. It was good.

The Som Thom required a trip to an Asian market, which really should have been documented, but I forgot. Som Thom is a salad with unripe papaya as the base, because unripe papaya has basically no taste.

1 Green Papaya, shredded
1 Thai chili
2 Cloves garlic, pressed
2 tbsp brown sugar
Lemon juice
Salt to taste
Blanched green beans

Here is what a green papaya looks like.

After cutting it, we peeled it, and grated it through the food processor. The Thai then pound the papaya on top of the dressing to get the juice out. Karen gaves a tip to use the kitchenaid. So, we did. Put all the dressing ingredients in the bowl of the mixer, and add the papaya, mix with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes. I then threw in the green beans and tossed.

The Red Curry "the main dish", was actually the simplest.

2 cans lite coconut milk
1 tbsp (or more) Red Curry paste
4 potatoes, cubed
3 zucchini, sliced
Green beans

Throw the potatoes in with some oil, and the curry paste, have your husband open the coconut milk, and then add it in. Wait for the potatoes to cook almost all the way through, and then add in the zucchini and green beans. You can add in some ginger and lime juice if you'd like. Up the curry paste if you want more heat. Serve with white rice.

My photo documentation ends here. Things got a little crazy (and crowded) in the Itty Bitty Kitchen.

Sticky rice was our dessert, and also required a special trip to the Asian market. I was apparently pretty excited about it.

Matthew was in charge of the preparation of the rice, so I'm not sure how he did it. But it did involve the steamer basket on our rice cooker, and a coffee filter. I'm sketchy on the details. The sauce was simple.

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sugar

Heat, mix with rice, top with mango, eat, and then explode from the amount of rice in your stomach.

Thanks Rachel, Steve, Steph, and Andrew for eating our Thai feast, and for experiencing our tiny kitchen and living to tell the tale. It was a blast!

Also if anyone is interested in having some sticky rice, we still have about 70 pounds (an exaggeration) to go through, come on over!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wrap it Up Wednesday

I've often said that I should make a list of foods I had never eaten before I met my husband.

If memory serves me correctly I think #1 on the list would be salmon.

Yes, I know I had a limited palette.

Long story short, now I love salmon.  One of my new Kindle cookbooks (Headline:  Itty Bitty Kitchen goes high-tech) had a recipe for foil wrapped salmon, done in 20 minutes.  So I improvised.

Foil Wrapped Salmon

1 4 oz salmon filet
1/2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
Pineapple chunks
Red Pepper flakes

Easiest way to prepare salmon ever.  But, I haven't prepared it any other way, so I'm not sure.  Pour the sauces on a pieces of tin foil, roll the salmon around in it, top with pineapple and red pepper flakes.  Wrap it up like a present, and bake at 375 for 20 minutes, and not 1 minute longer.

When you're 20 minutes is up, and after you've resisted eating some of you Christmas candy (spoiled, remember?), unwrap the salmon.  Don't get your face too close.  That steam is hot.

Serve with roasted broccoli, which I'm sure you don't need another link to.  Ignore your husband's comments about "you and your nutty broccoli".  Enjoy.

Tomorrow night is my favorite night of the year: Middle School Choir Concert Night.  The World's Smallest Kitchen shall return for the weekend!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Maybe this time Monday

Yes I made risotto.  Again.  Come on folks, I've got to get it right!  Plus, I read an online article about how using a cast iron skillet is the way Italians make risotto.  I have no idea if this is true.  But, I had to show off.

That's right.  My (I guess you could call it ours) very own cast iron skillet (special thanks to my awesome father-in-law).  It matches our tea kettle, which if you know me, you know makes me happy.  I like matching.  And order.

I was inspired by a new cookbook to embrace squash.  So...

Butternut Squash Risotto with Kale

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Sage to taste
1/4 tsp nutmeg

After peeling and cubing the squash (steam it first, it helps), I wasn't going to repeat my mistakes.  So, I threw the squash in a pot with the stock to keep it warm.

I put the oil in my/our skillet, and sautéed the garlic.  Side note:  I was able to slice the garlic without touching it, thanks to this garlic slicer from Santa, who I also think is my mom.  Sorry believers.

I added in the rice to toast, and let the wine cook off.  I added in a ladle full of stock and squash.  Wash. Rinse Repeat.  4 hours and a lot of sweat later, I added the kale and spices.  Success!  Not as mushy as last time, but, decidedly orange.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Stocked Up Sunday (or, another Pork Post)

Yes blog-readers, I have returned to The World's Smallest Kitchen.  And, with a bang I might add.

Matthew and I returned to St. Paul yesterday after a whirlwind holiday break full of (but not limited to):  some scary blizzard drives, a Minnesota Christmas, matching pajamas, a plane ride with wifi, delicious restaurants in the Napa Valley, and lots of great (albeit rainy) visits in California.

One of the benefits of having a hilarious blog is that people know what to get you for Christmas.  Our cupboards and shelves are now FULL of kitchen gadgets and cookbooks all too awesome to mention in one blog.  So, I won't.   I plan on sprinkling them about casually.  So, for today I leave with a recipe for pork tenderloin from an issue of Clean Eating which I received in one of my 4 (!) Christmas Stockings.  See: Spoiled.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Glaze

1 lb Pork Tenderloin, fat removed and patted dry
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (the most expensive thing on our grocery list, but pretty worth it)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
Garlic powder to taste

I preheated my oven to 350 degrees, and lined up my spices so I could give myself a little pep talk, or wait for Matthew to return from Target with the missing paprika.

I rubbed the spices on the pork (eww, raw meat),  and browned it in the oil on all sides.  I plopped it in a baking dish and set the timer for 20 minutes.

After draining the fat from the pork pan, I brought the pomegranate juice to a boil in the same pan.  I let it boil until it had reduced by about half.  I took it off the heat and said "for 7 bucks, this glaze better be good".  I added in the vinegar, salt, and a little garlic powder.

I pulled the pork out of the oven and tented it under some foil.  At least I think I tented it, because I'm not really sure what "tenting it" means.  I let the pork rest and set the table.

Disclaimer:  While the pork may look bloody and rare, it is actually the color of the pomegranate glaze, which was not glaz-y enough in my opinion, which gives the pork the appearance that it may walk off the plate at any moment.

While I fretted about my ceremonial return to the kitchen, Matthew said it was "off the chain", which is a phrase I sincerely hope he never uses again.

Beware blog-readers, our fridge is just as stocked with awesome and random things as our cupboards are.  Many meals are in our future.