Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dad's chicken marsala. Yum! Let the weekend of good eating begin.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My first legal drink: A strawberry margarita at On The Border

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homemade Calzones!

As I said before, last week was a nonstop calzone craving for me. I was super busy all week, and Sam and I planned on spending Saturday at his house to relax after a long week and a rough night at work. The mental plotting of the calzone I was going to make on Saturday is just about the only thing that got me through the end of the week.

Most of our recent experience with calzones comes from D.P. Dough, a calzone delivery place in Amherst that Sam and I splurge on from time to time. D.P. Dough has its downsides, though, all of which apply to all of the delivery places in the area: the food is dense, it's heavy, and you can never finish it all unless you've got one hell of an appetite. Every time I get one of their calzones, half of it sits in my fridge for a week before I throw it away. And, although they have a lot of options in addition to the custom-calzone option, they don't offer all of the ingredients that I've been craving.

So we went to Stop & Shop. Friday was pay day, so I was ready to splurge on all the best fillings I wanted. It was all planned out in my brain: I wanted spinach, broccoli, tomato, and goat cheese. Sam got black olives, mushrooms, and shredded mozzarella. Vegetables are generally cheap, and a bag of pizza dough was only $2.30. The most expensive thing was my goat cheese, but what can I say? Sometimes I have expensive taste.

The great thing about calzones is you can literally put whatever you want in them. There are no limits. You don't have to approach it like you would approach a traditional pizza. You could stuff a calzone full of chocolate and peanut butter and -- I'm going to try that. The idea of a dessert calzone is not uncommon. D.P. Dough offers one on their menu, stuffed with apples and cinnamon to be dipped in a glaze sauce. If you can have a dessert calzone, why rule out the idea of a dessert pizza? I suppose the world is still warming up to the idea.

The first thing we did to prepare our calzone was take care of washing and chopping the vegetables. I used cherry tomatoes, which I just sliced in half vertically (slicing them through their width caused them to sqeeze a little and they lost their juices to the cutting board). The broccoli was cut normally. I ripped up the bigger pieces of spinach. We set the dough in a bowl with some flower to knead it a little before separating it into two chunks for us to work with on our own. After forcing my dough to remain flat and maintain the right shape, I spread goat cheese over all of it. I chose to use spreadable cheese instead of crumbles because a) it was cheaper and b) I wanted there to be even layers of cheese when the calzone came out of the oven. After spreading the cheese, I started throwing my vegetable fillings onto one half of the dough. Sam and I both thought that I was overstuffing, but when my calzone came out of the oven some of the vegetables seemed to have shrunk. After placing all of the toppings, I folded the rest of the dough over and pinched the thing shut. Then I helped Sam with his and we put them in the oven at 475 degrees for 15 minutes. (Bake them on the middle shelf of the oven -- I put mine on the bottom and the underside of my calzone got a little burnt.)

When our calzones came out of the oven, we were afraid; they were extremely hard. We thought we'd burned them and that our dinner was ruined. Fortunately, as we sliced them in two, watched the steam escape from their cavernous interiors, drooled and took our first bites, we quickly became unafraid: they were perfect. The outside seemed hard to us at first, but the inside was soft and cooked to perfection. Sam dipped his calzone in Ragu marinara sauce that he added crushed red pepper, oregano, and red wine to.

This calzone was probably the greatest culinary success I have ever had. If I had more time, I would have loved to make the dough myself. This was the first time since I started learning how to cook that I experienced a sense of longing after devouring the calzone. An hour after eating it, I turned to Sam and said, "I miss that calzone." I would make another, bigger one right now if I could.

Problems I ran into
None! Another easy one. As long as the dough has risen enough prior to using it, this is extremely simple and extremely difficult to screw up.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Craving: Homemade Pizza

I usually try to cook something every weekend. Sometimes I miss a weekend because of school or work, so my ideas get backed up. I usually plan my weekend cooking around my weekday cravings. Today I found a recipe from the New York Times and felt completely inspired to make a homemade pizza using all of my favorite salad ingredients. I don't want to give anything away just yet, but think goat cheese and spinach. (I f#$*ing love goat cheese.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Photos now, words later

Since Blogger will be down for two hours starting in fifteen minutes, I decided to post a photo of a Halloween-themed treat I made two weeks ago but never got around to posting. Hopefully I'll have the accompanying recipe up tonight (it's super easy and was found on other blogs, so I'll post the link from where it was found). I'll also be writing about a few other foods I made but for some reason didn't take photos of. The links to those recipes will also be posted. Until then, feast your eyes on my (slightly messed up) White Chocolate Munchkin Eyeballs!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The easiest, tastiest, and cheapest cake you'll ever make

I mean no exaggerations whatsoever when I say that this cake was the most delicious one I have ever had in my entire life. The fact that it only uses two ingredients, both of which were on sale at Stop & Shop on the day I decided to try it, only makes it that much better.

I found the recipe for this cake here on Noble Pig. It looks too easy, right? That's what I thought. It's just as easy as it looks, and I swear on my dog's life, it is incredible, tasty, sweet-but-not-gonna-give-you-a-sugar-headache, perfect cake. At least, that's what my taste buds thought, and they have never lied to me before.

All you need is yellow cake mix and a can of pumpkin. Seriously, that's it.
The recipe is incredibly straightforward. You pour the yellow cake mix (on sale for $1) and the can of pumpkin (on sale for $1.50) into a bowl and stir. I didn't have an electric mixer on-hand to mix those two sole ingredients together, so I used a spatula, and it too was just as easy. When you mix the two together, you will think that you don't have enough pumpkin. You will think that you are going to have to drive to Stop & Shop and buy another can. But just as you start to turn yourself towards the back door, still stirring, you'll notice everything blending together perfectly, and decide there won't be a need for an additional can.

The Noble Pig version of the recipe uses a homemade apple cider glaze. I decided to make a different sweet glaze, using confectioner's sugar and water. I found a recipe for it online, but ultimately decided to wing it. I put a little water into a measuring cup -- the amount of glaze I wanted, that was the amount of water I used -- and mixed in powdered sugar until it got to the consistency I wanted. Yes, it came out way too sweet, and yes, it kind of ruined everything. If you only use a little of it, though, it tastes fine. Just don't douse your cake in glaze.

There's a reason the recipe comes with a separate recipe for a glaze -- specifically a glaze, and not a frosting. When I tried to frost the cake (with Nutella), it basically crumbled under my fork. It falls apart pretty easily. However, when you're just dribbling glaze over it, there won't be any crumbling. Next time I make this cake, I have every intention of melting a little Nutella and pouring it over the cake. Total loophole.

I was afraid this would taste way too pumpkiny to be very good, but the pumpkin flavor was very subtle. The pumpkin-to-cake flavor ratio was spot-on.

Problems I ran into
No problems. Literally the easiest thing I've ever made. After eating it, I told my mom about it and insisted that I make it for dessert at Thanksgiving. Not only is it delicious and easy to make, it's also so much healthier than a normal cake, lower in fat and cholesterol because you don't have to add butter, milk, or eggs. It's been days since making this cake, and I'm still blown away by it.

I've never been this enthusiastic about a cake before. But I could get used to it.