In the Kitchen

My 2018 Cooking #GOALS

Okay, real talk. Looking at all of the social media posts of meals couples made on their Valentine’s Day dates was barf-inducing. So finally after logging out when I just couldn’t take anymore, I went browsing my bookmarks, Pinterest, and Tumblr to create a list of #GOALS for the year. Being single can suck when it comes to cooking because when it comes to purchasing ingredients you have to be really strategic. Most ingredients, if not all, aren’t packaged for one so creating a menu of meals has to use whatever I’ve purchased so it doesn’t go to waste. Good news is I learned how to cut the recipe for pancakes for a single serving. That’s really all someone needs, right?

Fortunately, I sometimes can get people to try whatever I want to cook which makes things a lot easier. I get to try to make something I haven’t made before, learn a new skill, and they get something (hopefully) delicious in return. It’s a win/win. I have collected maybe hundreds of recipes in tons of places especially virtual places. It’s still a pretty new year so I’m still pretty positive about trying new things so I thought why not choose 12 recipes I really want to try this year. Consider them my #goals for the year in the kitchen. Since it’s February I should probably get started.

There’s a variety of things including brownies that are claimed to be loved more than the recipe sharer loved Hanson in the 90s. There’s plenty of pasta and some things I’ve never tried to make before (a chocolate tart). There’s also a recipe featuring my arch nemesis, polenta, because the recipe looks way too delicious to pass up. I’m even giving a pass to rosé pasta sauce since everything should be tried at least once. Only time will tell if I end up making any of these during the next 10 months, but I’ll be sure to keep the blog posted on any updates to this list. I’m talking about all the good experiences and the bad.

Below you’ll find my kitchen #goals for the year. If you want more suggestions you can check out my food Pinterest board or the food tag on my Tumblr.

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Loaded Mediterranean Street Fries

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In the Kitchen: ‘Perfect’ Chocolate Chip Cookies

I won’t lie. I think I’ve probably baked every chocolate chip cookie recipe claiming to be the “best.” As a teenager I think I made the classic Nestle Tollhouse recipe so often I had it memorized for many years. Sadly as an adult you begin to realize the chocolate chip/dough ratio is so poor no matter how many chocolate chips you add in. More recently my go-to was the NY Times recipe which uses cake flour and bread flour rather than all-purpose flour. But it has a wait time which is often really hard to abide by when it comes to baking. Eating the dough is rather tempting when it’s just sitting there for an extended period of time. Then I moved on to a sea salt chocolate chip recipe I adapted from somewhere else, and made it so much people grew tired of it.

So that brings me to this past December and my constant quest to create the perfect Christmas cookie tin/tray. I went searching for the ideal chocolate chip cookie that was yummy but would provide a sense of timeless comfort for my friends and family. I was alerted to a random Buzzfeed article where they taste tested a variety of recipes created by famous chefs and Kourtney Kardashian (why?). Their winner was Thomas Keller’s Perfect Chocolate Chip cookies, and upon inspection of the ingredients I thought why not give it a shot.

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In the Kitchen: More Pizza!

I’ve been really slacking when it comes to cooking. I’ve tried to make plenty of new things, but nothing really turned out right. I guess my heart just wasn’t in it. But then I decided I really wanted to make pizza (again).

This time I made a homemade thin crust dough rather than just beating the system with store bought mix. I’ve made plenty of pizza dough in my youth with my family, but never on my own despite hearing how “easy” it is from pretty much everyone. The recipe calls for proofing the dough although typically that’s really only done with thicker dough. Proofing this thin dough makes it much more crispy and crumbly rather than airy and fluffy. Proofing dough is super easy because it can be done by room temperature, leaving the bowl on a hot surface (like the stove while the oven is on), or leaving it outside like my grandmother used to.

I chose to split one recipe of dough in half and make two really small pizzas to try different things, so really it makes one regular sized thin pizza ideally. Splitting the dough made it very, very thin and crispy. The first one I made was roasted red pepper and basil while the second was prosciutto and arugula.

I wish I had better photos of the final result. 

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ThinPizzaCrust-Test

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What I Want To Eat

Sharing what I usually buy at the grocery store and realizing how often I do eat like a bird got me thinking about cooking meals. I do love to cook, but the last recipe I really put a ton of effort into making went terribly so I’ve felt a bit uninspired. Not to mention I’ve accidentally cut my fingers on every knife and vegetable peeler I touch recently. Uninspired, accident prone, and terrible seem to be the adjectives that best define me lately.

So I did what anyone feeling uninspired in the kitchen does: check their email! Okay, maybe not everyone checks their email but as someone who gets quite a few food newsletters, it was definitely feeling like time to clean them out. Now here we are with a special list of everything I currently want to eat.

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Pork Lo Mein

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Kitchen Gadgets

Today is Thanksgiving in the grand land of overconsumption also known as America. I’m preparing to make one of the biggest meals of the year including a turkey which scares the bejesus out of me. So many expectations.

So, during my stressed out planning, I decided to browse for kitchen items that would make my life way easier. Okay, so maybe it was me spending a lot of time on Crate & Barrel’s website looking at everything they have that is made out of copper. This occurs partly because when I went to the store last week to pick up pie crust protectors, I saw a beautiful copper Christmas tree I need in my life, and because they didn’t actually have the pie dish I wanted so I “checked” online.

This probably isn’t so much kitchen items that make my life easier, but rather, what would make my meal prep so much more stylish.

Cupcake KitDigital ThermometerMushroom BrushDrop BowlsKitchenAid MixerMeasuring CupsMeasuring SpoonsCookie CuttersPie Dishes

In the Kitchen: Spinato’s Litaliana Pizza

I haven’t made homemade pizza since I was a kid. It was a twice a year family tradition that took an army to make. I made an attempt a couple of years ago during the summer, but it just turned out to be a time-consuming mess. Wow, I’m really selling this idea aren’t I?

When my best friend mentioned she wanted homemade pizza (by mention I mean asked nearly every day), I decided to give it another go. One of my favorite pizzas is from a local pizzeria, Spinato’s, so I tried to make it at home. I went, got a pizza pan, and gave it my best shot.

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Homemade pizza is relatively easy especially when you embrace “lazy” girl hacks (like I did). Here are my tips and tricks followed by the recipe.

  • Use the easiest dough recipe you can, but don’t use premade pizza crusts from the grocery (the only exception is Trader Joe’s). Use just-add-water packets if you have to, but avoid the premade.
  • Using canned tomatoes in the sauce will make it thinner than a pizzeria style sauce. Use tomato sauce or add more tomatoes to achieve the desired thickness.
  • Add your desired amount of parmesan cheese to the sauce as you like. Cheese is always a good idea.
  • Speaking of cheese, use Galbani mozzarella, and shred it yourself. It melts the best.
  • Preheat the oven at least 15 minutes before cooking the pizza to allow the heat to fill the oven completely.
  • Par-bake the crust before applying toppings if you plan to use “wet” toppings. “Wet” toppings are things that create excess liquid while they cook such as vegetables or meat (which produces grease). Par-baking the crust will make it stronger and able to withstand the extra weight of numerous toppings or “wet” toppings.

Processed with VSCO with a2 presetSpinatos-Pizza

Expanding my Cookbook Collection

When I was growing up there were two staple cookbooks in my mom’s kitchen. The first was a Disneyland cookbook which contained recipes inspired by Disney characters and their worlds and from food served in the various parks. The other was a 80’s Better Homes and Gardens binder featuring recipes for Pineapple Upside Down cake and other food we no longer eat. I’m positive this cookbook was gifted to her when she attempted to make a Thanksgiving turkey with the bag of unmentionable gross parts still inside. It was her first try, to be fair.

I have no idea where these cookbooks are anymore, but that is probably for the best. As I continue to explore cooking I’ve turned to cookbooks for inspiration and help. I’ve already fallen in love with Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, Cravings, and I hope to add more to my collection soon. As for the cookbooks my mom owned…I never saw her use them for anything which is a shame. Mickey Mouse pancakes would have been pretty chill to have for breakfast.

Shop Cookbooks: Food52 Genius Recipes, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Cravings: Recipes For All the Food You Want to Eat, It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook