Thursday, August 30, 2012

Weapons in my Kitchen Arsenal

I know this blog is mainly going to be about recipes, but I wanted to use some of my posts to discuss my favorite tools in the kitchen. This first segment is about the one that brought about my addiction to recipes and cooking:

My Shun Santuko Knife
Well, technically it's my boyfriend, Justin's,  knife... 

I'll admit that I was a little skeptical at first of how much of a difference a good knife could make. After all, it just needed to be able to chop things. The apparently dull and lackluster ones I'd used in the past had always made that task seem like a chore. I hated chopping vegetables... especially onions! BLEGH! Chopping veggies SUCKED! Hence, why I always ended up buying those fancy pre-cut ones from Wegman's and why I ate out for pretty much every dinner.

Well... I'd been dating my boyfriend, Justin, for a while,  when he decided we needed to stop eating out so much and should make a few meals at home. We tried out some recipes, but had some difficulty doing so without many of the proper kitchen utensils (aka-a good knife). After doing a ton of research on the various major cooking sites, like Cooks Illustrated and Food and Wine, Justin made up his mind that he should get a 7" Shun Santuko style knife (it's a high quality, Japanese knife that mainly used for prepping vegetables). He seemed to think that it would be the best one to suit his needs and fulfill all his future chopping desires.

Once he received the knife and busted it open, the first thing he wanted to do was run to Wegman's and buy a  whole slew of veggies to chop. I can't remember what it was we bought, but we did just that. Justin seemed soo happy slicing and dicing that first time...  After a few times watching Justin gleefully chop carrots and such, I decided that if this one kitchen gadget could make him happy, that it might be worth giving it a try. 

So one night, asked if I could do some of the prep work. I gingerly picked up the knife, to which Justin cringed and told me to "Be careful!" in that mom voice kind of way, and proceeded to pick up the next vegetable. This next moment is what changed my view of cooking forever. I held the blade and made my first chop to an unsuspecting onion... It wasn't like anything I'd done before... It was so... easy.... like I was slicing through butter. I kept slicing... and slicing... I finished cutting up that onion and could only help thinking, "Give me something else to chop RIGHT NOW!" I started to enjoy doing the prep work for Justin and my dinners. In fact, it got to a point where Justin had to start asking to chop veggies. (He still does...)

This one knife is probably the reason why I've become the recipe hoarding, home cook that I am... and for that I am grateful. Justin, you provided me with the greatest weapon in kitchen arsenal. My oh so sharp baby!

In short... buy yourself, or have someone else buy you, a nice knife. It may be expensive, but it'll can make you cooking experience the best you'll ever have!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday's much needed comfort

Monday's always seem like the hardest day of the workweek to get through. They never fail to drag on and on, despite getting a good nights rest and a large mug of coffee. Due to these facts, I decided that a little comfort food on this particular Monday night is necessary.

I based my dinner choice on the following: I bought some hot italian sausage from my favorite beef vendors at the Public Market (, green beans, leftover cauliflower 'rice' (cauliflower that's essentially been shredded, cooked and seasoned), frozen peas and coconut milk. I perused through my recipe stash and decided that the ingredients I had would be perfect for  biscuits and gravy! I adapted this:, to make this:

Sausage Gravy and Peas over Cauli-Rice!

 (I apologize for the quality of the photo. My iPhone and my not quite so steady hand don't always take the best pics) 

  • 16 oz. hot italian sausage2 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 can coconut milk (shake it up before you open it)
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried, rubbed sage
  • 5/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ~1/2 bag frozen peas, thawed
  • cauli-rice
(I kept the recipe for the gravy portion of the base recipe pretty much all the same, except for adding a slight bit more cayenne to suit my personal tastes)

I started by heating a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. I then threw in the sausage. Being me and in a hurry to cook this thing, I neglected to take the sausage meat out of the casings. Oops! (It didn't really make too much of a difference, as the links ended up splitting open, whereby I was able to use a spoon to break them up into crumbles.) Once the meat was browned, I spooned it off into a plate and set it aside.

I turned down the heat to medium and added a small amount of olive oil to the pan (due to the lack of fat from my sausage meat), then stirred in the arrowroot powder and kept stirring for another minute. I added the coconut milk, 1/3 of can at a time, stirring constantly. Then added the seasonings, peas, browned sausage, gave it all a quick stir. I then hied myself to the microwave to reheat my cauli-rice. I let the gravy mix heat through, stirring occasionally, until the 'rice' was done and then poured it on top.

I served my gravy rice combo with a side of green beans that I'd roasted in the toaster oven for 20 minutes with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Let it be known that I'm all for using every tool at my disposal to cut down on cleanup and cooking time, ie- using the toaster oven and the little pan that came with it, wrapped in foil, instead of waiting an additional 20 minutes for the regular oven preheat and using a large pan... But I digress... I sat down to take my first bite and all I can say is, "A-MAZING!" This tastes so fantastic that I could roll in it! There's no lingering flavor of coconut milk (which kind of surprised me).

After shoveling a few more bits in my mouth, the idea hits me: BREAKFAST BOWL! (Similar to the Highland Skillet at served at the Highland Park Diner) Start with a base of home fries, top them with 2 poached eggs and top everything off with this gravy. Take that Highland Park Diner! I don't need you anymore! Unless I want to go off Paleo and have one of your tasty eggs benedict combos or corned beef hash...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

First blog entry!

Today marks a new beginning for me. I'm am determined to enter the realm of the food blogger and, hopefully, have some margin of success. So here goes nothing...

This morning, after a 40 minute run and post run shower, I was racking my brain trying to think of what to make for breakfast. Recently, I've made the transition to eating Paleo (as in, gluten/grain/dairy free and fairly low carb). I've been eating eggs for my weekend breakfasts lately and felt as though I needed a change.

Enter, the paleo pancake. I used the following recipe as a base: . My adaptation to make my single serving:


  • 1 fairly ripe banana, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1+1 tablespoon homemade almond butter
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • blueberries, as a topping
I ended up using my mini food processor to combine the banana, egg, 1 tbsp almond butter and cinnamon. After heating my pan to medium low and spraying it with cooking spray, I attempted to turn my liquidy batter into an awesome pancake. I poured enough for two in the pan and let them go to town. Things were great... until I went to flip them... FAIL! My pancakes fell apart.

Not to be discouraged, I pushed my "pancake" remnants aside and poured my remaining batter into the pan. This time, the cake was thicker and was able to be flipped with only a slight break.

I served my 1 2/3 pancakes with my remaining tablespoon of almond butter and blueberries. I must admit, despite the messy look, these guys tasted really good! (They were also quite filling!) I would have taken a picture of my not so success and posted, but was too hungry and scarfed them down.

I will make a good Paleo pancake using this recipe... it's only a matter of time.