Monday, April 26, 2010

No Butter Sugar Cookies

To further stick with my baking with oil theme I give you the no butter sugar cookies. These cookies just like the other no butter ones did not come out greasy and were really tasty. What I think I really liked is that they were not overwhelmingly sweet like some sugar cookies. They have a nice subtle underlying sweetness about them, which is perfect and you can always up the subtle sweetness by putting a sprinkling of sugar on them before baking. I tried this on a few cookies just to test it out and the sugar melted leaving a thin covering on the top of the cookie. If you're afraid the sugar will burn or brown from the high heat of baking it doesn't, so no need to worry.Since these are drop cookies there is no need for chilling them before baking and I believe that they would work in bar cookie format too. This recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking powder which I truly believe helps give the cookies lift and not become too dense and flat. Also for all of those inpatient people these cookies bake up fast, in my oven they were done in 6 minutes so barely after getting one batch out and started cooling the next were ready to be taken from the oven.
I really do recommend these cookies, even if you're put off by the fact that there is no butter in them you at least know in a pinch when you need to do baking have no butter and don't feel like going to the store you still have options. And hey maybe after trying them just once you'll be converted, well at least partially converted.

No Butter Sugar Cookies
Adapted from: RecipeZaar

2 eggs
2/3 c canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together with a spatula.
2. Create a well in the center and add eggs, vanilla, and oil beating just these together.
3. Take spatula and mix everything together until it is all incorporated.
4. Drop by teaspoon onto cookie sheet.
5. Flatten out slightly or optional take the bottom of glass moistened with water and dipped in sugar to flatten cookie.
6. Bake at 400 degrees F for 6-10 minutes (mine were done at 6 minutes).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

No Butter Oatmeal Cookies

So we all know that I've been known to add avocado to my chocolate chip cookie in order to reduce half the saturated fat filled butter with a healthier fat. Well one day I got the notion that I really needed to bake some cookies, except I had no butter (probably a good thing if you really think about it), so it hit me why not use oil to bake. I mean you use oil in those boxed brownies and cakes, right so why couldn't it work for cookie dough. So long story short I set out to find a recipe that already existed, as I didn't feel like converting any of mine over. In a quick search I found 2 promising cookie recipes, so here I am to share the first of the 2 that I made.

A quick note, in case you didn't know oil can be a healthier alternative to butter. Yep, that's right if you use the right oil, something like canola, it has a low amount of saturated fat and higher amounts of the healthier fats.

Without further ado I give you one of the best oatmeal cookies I've had. I followed the reader suggestions of f the site I got this from and made a few small tweaks in the recipe and was not at all disappointed by this cookies. I dislike thin and hard oatmeal cookies and that often happens to a lot of the recipes I've tried. OH, but this one did not disappoint at all. Of course it probably helped that I followed one suggestion and added baking powder to the dough to help make the cookie thicker. What I got was a plump soft cookie that you could taste the brown sugar (probably due to reducing the amount of white sugar used in the recipe) and cinnamon, which I added for an extra layer of flavor. Also, I was worried that the cookies might come out really oily, but I have to say there was no greasiness about these at all. Bottom line I thought these cookies were so good that I cannot wait to make it again.

No Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from: All Recipes

1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder (my own addition)
3/4 tsp salt
cinnamon to taste (my own addition)
1 c sugar (I reduced it to 1/2 c and w/o a problem)
1 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c oats
3/4 c canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 2. Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powdeer, salt, cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar, and oats. 3. Make a well in the center and add canola oil, eggs, and vanilla 4. Mix together with a spatula. Form the dough into balls and place on cookie sheet slightly flattening them out 5. Bake 10-12 minutes

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Samosa Experiment

I cannot now say enough how much I love samosas. They're another Indian favorite of mine, which consist of a pastry filled with a potato, pea, and spices mixture. They're then folded up, which is actually quite difficult to do at first, and traditionally fried until golden brown. Again my very good friend introduced me to these. In college they would be in her freezer and we would pull a couple out, reheat them, and enjoy them as a delicious midnight snack.

Right away I should say that my samosas were in no way perfect and they're is definite room for improvement. I feel that the filling was perfect, it tasted just how I remember my friend's samosas tasting. Mine consisted of mashed up potatoes, peas, and a mixture of Indian spices like coriander and turmeric. The one big thing about making these is that you can bake them and then freeze them or assemble them and freeze them without baking. I chose to do the latter and must say it is nice to be able to pop a few into the oven whenever I feel like a snack.

So, the real problem with these were the pastry shell, it was lacking something. It tasted very bland to me and that there was some flavor component missing from it. However, maybe this is partly my fault because I looked for a recipe that had the option of frying or baking them. I of course chose to try and make them slightly healthier by not frying them and taking the baking route instead. Maybe if they had been fried they would have had increased flavor, even though I read numerous things that they were just as delicious when baked. Mine also came out smaller than I would have liked, which made them difficult to form into a neat and tidy triangular shape.

Despite all of these things I will still enjoy eating my semi bland samosas, though I will not be allowing anyone else to eat these until I can fix the recipe.


Filling Ingredients:
4 potatoes
1 onion
1/4 c peas
1 sm ginger root (didn't use)
2 tsp lime juice (didn't use)
2 green chilies
1/4 c cilantro leaves (didn't use)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
2 tsp coriander
cumin seed to taste

1. Roast or boil potatoes and then roughly mash, add onion, peas, ginger, lime juice, chilies, cilantro, and all spices
2. Make sure it is mixed together well

Dough Ingredients:
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp

1. Take flour and salt add water slowly to make a stiff dough
2. Take a piece of dough and roll out to form an elliptical shape
3. Form dough into a cone shape moistening edges so that they adhere to each other
4. Fill the cone with the filling and then fold over the open end to create a triangular shaped pastry
5. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for about 45 minutes. Mine were done sooner due to the extremely small size of my samosas.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Indian Cauliflower & Potatoes

Have I ever mentioned that I love Indian food? It is so flavorful and typically healthy. I owe my very good friend for introducing me to the deliciousness of this cuisine. After moving to St. Louis I haven't been sure where I could find good Indian food, so in the spirit of what has become so typical of me I decided I would just make it myself. I was even in luck all of the spices were on sale at the grocery store, this was a sign saying make Indian food!

This is the second Indian dish I experimented with and all I can say is I'm so happy I made it. I'm assuming the flavor was right, since I had never had this dish before but had always heard good things about it. I roasted the potatoes and cauliflower and then added them into the peppers and spices. I finished off my meal with some brown rice, but Naan (that's a traditional Indian bread) would have been great with this too. I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, as I've mentioned before I really enjoy that food blog and if you haven't checked it out I strongly suggest that you do.

Indian Cauliflower and Potatoes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Note: I scaled this recipe down since I am only 1 person, but I'm posting the original recipe here. I also didn't have jalapenos so I used green bell pepper instead because that is what I had on hand. I left out the fresh ginger too.

1 (1 3/4-lb) head cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets
1 1/4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño, including seeds
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup water


1. Put oven rack in upper third of oven and place a shallow baking pan on rack. Preheat oven to 475°F.

2. Toss cauliflower and potatoes together in a bowl with 3 tablespoons oil, cumin seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread in hot baking pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned in spots and potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.

3. While vegetables are roasting, cook onion, garlic, jalapeño, and ginger in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.

5. Stir in water, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then stir in roasted vegetables.

6. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Deep Dish Disaster

I think pizza is one of the most amazing food creations. Part of me feels like I could never get sick of pizza. There's so many different styles and types that fuel debates across the United States and so many varieties of toppings that you can pile on top. Well I've been having a hankering for deep dish pizza, something I have been dying to try. With no trip to Chicago in the near future for me, I decided that tackling the deep dish pizza in my very own kitchen couldn't be that difficult.
Oh, how wrong was I. It isn't that this was completely horrible in the end; it just wasn't right. I truly believe that the dough recipe I used was not meant to be turned into a deep dish pizza, especially because when I used the same dough recipe for another pizza (post on it coming soon) it turned out just fine. I believe for the deep dish dough to be successful I might have needed to use one that had cornmeal in it, which were some of the suggestions I saw and chose to ignore.
To make this pizza I doubled the original dough recipe (the recipe said I could do this) that I got from Smitten Kitchen, I then fought with it to get it into the pan properly and then to actually stay put. It was a battle that I only halfway won. I then placed sliced mozzarella cheese directly onto the pizza dough. I don't think I used enough cheese because this really wasn't as cheesy as it should have been, you know like the real thing. Then I only ended up putting on one topping, originally I thought I would put much more on it, but wasn't in the mood for it. Finally, I put the sauce on top of the cheese and toppings so that they didn't burn because the pizza has to cook so long for the crust to be done. Below you'll see the less than stellar thing I took out from the oven. I have to say that the leftovers, were much better than the first night. And don't get me wrong it isn't like it actually tasted bad it just didn't meet my expectations, which maybe I set too high these days.
So, I will try again on the Chicago deep dish pizza and I'll try a proper deep dish dough recipe and I'll use more cheese or maybe I'll just consider going to Pi here in St. Louis instead (hey it was good enough for the president) and get real Chicago deep dish pizza that's only 5 hours away from being authentic in the Windy City.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Restaruant Review: Olympia Revisited

Right away I'll just start off by saying yes, I have already posted on this restaurant. And well I do have a whole backlog of recipes to start posting on (once I get the pictures uploaded) and it might seem weird to re-post on this restaurant so soon, but in my defense let me just say I couldn't help it.

I found myself eating at Olympia the other night and although I was tempted by the deliciousness of the Moussaka I had last time, I knew that I needed to branch out and try something new. So I went for the gyro, the vegetarian gyro to be exact since I wasn't ready to become acquainted with lamb last night. I feel like I can't begin to do justice to this gyro, but I was in complete bliss as I was eating it.

The vegetarian gyro consisted of sauteed mushrooms and onions. I should mention that mushrooms aren't one of my favorite foods, especially when they get really limp and chewy. Oh, but these mushrooms were thickly sliced and cooked until they were just tender and were full of so much flavor. Other items in this dish included lettuce, tomato, and feta cheese. Oh, and then there was the tzatziki sauce. In the past I was a little bit put off by the thought of yogurt sauces, but I can assure you that this is no longer a problem. What I forgot is that this yogurt sauce is made with Greek yogurt, which is more like sour cream and less like the yogurt we typically think of. This is what I think makes the sauce so good. It is nice and creamy, very flavorful but not overpoweringly heavy, and irresistible when nice and warm mixed in with all of my veggies on my gyro.

So in addition to the moussaka and saganaki the gyros here are something that cannot be missed out on. This is probably why Olympia was voted the best gyro in St. Louis. I've actually been thinking about the vegetarian gyro all day, so maybe that will give you an idea of how good I thought it was.

*Note: When I was looking over the menu last night I noticed that the saganaki is actually made with kasseri, which is made from sheep milk, and not feta like I said in my previous post on Olympia.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins

These muffins seem like the perfect compliment to National Nutrition Month.

A good friend, who is also a future dietitian and a fellow food blogger, taught me about these muffins long ago when we were sitting in early morning classes during college. What made them so perfect is that they were actually a healthy muffin that left you feeling satisfied because they were packed with fiber and protein, while contributing very little calories and fat. If you ask me that's a perfect deal, plus there were blueberries and I love blueberries.
The uniqueness of these muffins doesn't stop there though. There is absolutely no eggs or butter in this batter. Yep you heard me right. The eggs are swapped out for non-fat plain yogurt and applesauce replaces the butter/oil (except for 2 tablespoons). This goes to show the millions of possibilities there are to swap, make substitutions, and put twists on recipes.
Another great thing about this recipe is all the different variations you could make. Don't like blueberries swap it out for something else or leave the fruit out completely. The recipe calls for walnuts, which I didn't include, but you could use almonds or another nut instead. This would definitely be fun to experiment with. One final thing I accidentally bought wheat bran instead of oat bran, which overall I don't think messed the recipe up. The difference between wheat bran and oat bran is what types of fiber they have. Wheat bran is high in insoluble fiber, while oat bran is high in soluble fiber.

Here is the link to my friend's blog where you will find the recipe for the amazing Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Roasted Chickpeas

A good friend told me I really needed to try roasting chickpeas, that they would be like candy to me. I was all excited to try this out and for one reason or another I became sidetracked by other things and never got around to it. Fast forward a few months and here I am finally getting around to making them. For some reason I didn't think this would be a really common thing to do, but I told the girl I work with that I was going to make these and she instantly began raving about them, so I was very confident that I would love these.

What makes these so perfect is that they can be a perfect healthy snack. They're packed full of protein and plenty of fiber as well as being low in fat so you really can't go with these. Plus there are so many options on how to season these. I personally like to make them a little on the spicy side with either chili powder or cayenne pepper.

Originally when I was checking some directions on how to make these they said to coat the chickpeas in olive oil and then add salt (only if you're not using canned), garlic powder, and seasoning and then bake. This seems like a good idea, but I found out from a few reviews that I read that this starts out well, but by the next day the chickpeas are soggy....So I'm dry roasting my chickpeas. This means I'm roasting them without adding olive oil or any seasoning and then when they come out of the oven I sprinkle them with my seasoning. Doing it this way means I completely omit the olive oil and avoid the possibility that they become soggy.

Now if I can only make sure to stop munching on them so that I can take them as a snack to work, we'll see how that one goes.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy National Nutrition Month

Happy March everyone! If you didn't already know March is National Nutrition Month, which I think is very exciting. Then again maybe I'm biased for some strange reason.

National Nutrition Month was started by the American Dietetic Association to create awareness on the importance of having a well balanced diet and incorporating regular physical activity into your life. These things can be tough with our busy schedules, but with a little effort you can easily be successful.

Even if you're not studying nutrition you should still care just a little about it. With the current obesity rates among adults and children and the escalating rates of Type II diabetes and heart disease being healthy is a huge concern. People don't realize the impact that eating properly has on their health and that even just a few tiny little changes in their habits can have a huge impact.

I know that I feature a lot of baked items on my blog and that they wouldn't be considered the healthiest items, but the thing is I believe in moderation. I'm not eating these items 24/7 and make sure to savor each bite so I'm not wanting to continuously eat more. I mean I love sweets, especially chocolate as much as everyone else, but I do regularly eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as lots of whole grains that are packed with fiber and lean protein. These foods leave me feeling completely satisfied and energetic as well as having an overall sense of well-being. Okay, I think you've probably had enough of my preaching on nutrition, but in honor of National Nutrition Month I dare you to make one small change.

For more information on National Nutrition Month visit and as always Happy Eating!

Sunday, February 28, 2010


The thought of stew makes my mouth water, even more so if it is a nice cold day much like the ones we've been having around here lately. So on days like that there's nothing better than curling up to dinner with a piping hot bowl of stew that has filled your place with its delicious aroma after simmering away on the stove. Although I think it is nice to make this dish on a day when you can let it actually simmer away for a few hours, this isn't a necessity and I actually made this when I got home from classes one evening and it didn't take too long to be ready.
This recipe comes from my mom, though I had to tweak it a little because I was lacking a couple of things on the ingredient list, and I have no idea where she got the recipe from maybe my grandma. I do remember eating this as a kid, but I was picky about which parts I liked best so I would first eat out all the carrots, then the meat, and of course save the best part for last the potatoes. Mmm..

As you can see this stew really cooks down, so don't worry if you think it looks like a lot of liquid at first just bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for a bit (about 20-30 minutes or longer if you have time) and it will be perfect for eating in no time.

Here is my usual warning when it comes to cooking, I feel the herbs and spices are more to your taste preference, I didn't have some of the ingredients so I omitted them and noted this in the ingredient list. Also, I posted the original recipe I cut it down when I made my stew and it still fed me for 2 days.

1 tbs Olive oil
2 tbs Butter (I omitted this)
Stew meat
1/2 Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1/2 Bell pepper, chopped
3-4 Carrots, cut into medium rounds
3 Potatoes, chopped into large pieces
Italian herbs
Cayenne pepper
Paprika (didn't have so left it out)
1 tbs Tomato paste or ketchup (I had neither so omitted this)
4 cups Water
4 Bullion cubes

1. Melt butter & olive oil, add stew meat and brown it
2. Add onion, garlic, celery, and herbs and saute on high heat
3, Add carrots and bell pepper and get them cooking
4, Next add the tomato paste or ketchup, water, bullion cubes, and potatoes
5. Bring up to a boil and then turn heat to between medium and medium low. Allow to simmer until liquid has reduced.

Note: It is nice to sometimes serve this with croutons on top, even better (well okay healthier) if you make your own croutons and trust me it isn't difficult at all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spicy Pasta with Black Beans

I wouldn't normally share this type of recipe for a couple of reasons:
1. It is rather boring
2. It is just one of my typical quick dinners that I throw together on a busy night just using ingredients that I have on hand.
That's the thing though, I decided I should show you something very fast, easy and a typical dinner I'd eat on those nights when I get home from class at 6:30 I'm starving and I'm not the least bit interested in cooking something elaborate.

This dish doesn't include many ingredients and they're all things I always have on hand vegetables, beans, pasta, and plenty of spices. Another thing is that this particular combination of ingredients that I made the other night came out amazing and even better there is always plenty for leftovers the next day.

This dish is packed with plenty of fiber to leave you feeling full and satisfied. Also consider using whole wheat pasta for an added nutritional boost

Spicy Pasta with Black Beans

olive oil

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/3 cup frozen corn

chili powder
red pepper flakes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1. Saute onion in olive oil and then add the carrot and celery until it gets tender, meanwhile cook your pasta according to its directions
2. Add corn and then add pepper, chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes to taste
3. When this is all well incorporated add in the black beans
4. Add the pasta to the vegetable and black bean mixture and add more seasoning if needed
5. Garnish with a little cheese if desired and wait for it to melt and then serve.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day

So I know this post is coming a day late, but hey better late than never. Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that people can be very opinionated on some love it, some hate it, and some believe that it is a holiday developed by greeting card companies to make more money. If you push all of those things aside for a few minutes you can focus on the more important part of all this...wait for it...the food!

Yes that's right the food. I sometimes like to think of it as a "free day", to eat what you want and not feel guilty. Of course there's the fact that often large amounts of chocolate are involved on Valentine's Day, which is an added bonus that makes me want to jump for joy. This brings me to the focus of this post sweet treats to give as a gift or enjoy for yourself.
Since time wasn't exactly on my side this year I kept things pretty simple using some time tested recipes and adding a twist. I made 3 batches of cookies chocolate chip, dark chocolate M&M, and sugar. I used the chocolate chip cookie recipe I posted last year, minus the "healthy twist" because really as much as I like to promote being healthy whenever possible, I couldn't do that today. Now for the dark chocolate M&M cookies I went ahead and used the same chocolate chip cookie dough recipe substituting the M&Ms for the chocolate chips (sorry ahead of time for not having pictures of these). However, I do have an M&M cookie recipe I just didn't feel like digging it out when I already had the chocolate chip one in front of me. As for the sugar cookie recipe, I think this one is wonderful. I got it from my mom and what makes it so special is that this one is for drop or bar cookies and not meant to be rolled out. So whenever you're wanting sugar cookies you can have them without needing all the time to roll and cut them out. I think it sounds like a winning situation.

So as my final twist on these cookies, I baked some in the heart shaped mini cake pan my friend gave me for Christmas to mix in with the regular drop cookies. The cool thing about the heart shaped cookies is that they're thicker, so you essentially get a cookie cake, which is delicious.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Banana Bread

There is nothing more perfect than making warm banana bread on a lazy weekend when the weather is less than perfect. I had some bananas on hand that were ripening too fast and weren't anything I'd want to eat, so I decided to find a new banana bread recipe that did not use shortening, since I am trying to avoid that ingredient whenever possible.

I found a recipe that didn't use too many ingredients and only 1/3 cup of butter and I was able to reduce the sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 cup and possibly even more the next time I make it. Another thing I might try is adding some cinnamon or nutmeg the next time I make it to add some spice to it.

Overall this recipe came out really well and I couldn't wait for it to cool down a bit so I could try a piece. It was perfectly moist and not too dense or sweet and even better because it was still warm. This banana bread is perfect for my early morning breakfast during the week and it will freeze nicely to pull out and eat on another day. I suggest giving this recipe a try, you won't be disappointed.

Banana Bread
From: Simply Recipes

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar (I reduced it to 3/4 cup)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch (~1/8 tsp) salt
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Mix butter into bananas using wooden spoon.
3. Next mix in sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt
4. Stir in flour, making sure not to over mix the batter
5. Pour into greased 4x8 loaf pan and bake for 1 hour (I found mine was done after 55 minutes)
6. Cool on rack and then cut into slices to serve

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Restaurant Review x 3

I have a backlog of restaurants I've eaten at over the past 2 months here in St. Louis. One dates all the way back to December before Christmas even happened and the other 2 take place throughout January. Since they're from so long ago I decided to merge them all into one post and give the highlights from them and then in the future I'll be more on top of blogging about restaurants soon after I eat at them so that they can have their own special post.

Blue Ocean Sushi

This was the first time I ate sushi in St. Louis and I was not at all disappointed by this experience. I thought this restaurant was really cool and it fit this image that I often have of how a sushi restaurant should look with its aqua colored walls and amazingly comfortable chairs, which I'm thinking top the booth seating that the other side of our table had. Right off I
need to comment on my chopstick skills usually they're less than desirable and make for a good laugh, but on this night I was very impressive with them. I was still slow using them, but managed not to drop any food; I chalk it up to all my practice earlier in the day using pencils.

Okay, so now the important part the food...Blue Ocean has a typical menu, but the most interesting part of it is the 3 levels, where they offer 3 different pricing levels with each one including more food than the previous. I stuck with level one there was no way I could eat enough sushi to make level 2 worth my wild. While, they serve traditional rolls like the salmon roll they also have interesting twists on rolls, such as the cheese burger roll, which sounds weird but I heard from a reliable source that it is quite good. I ate a variety of things on this night and left Blue Ocean extremely full. I give this restaurant 2 thumbs up and expect I'll eat there again.


Felix's is locate
d in Dogtown, which is the Irish-American neighborhood of St. Louis. This place is one of those hidden gems, it is a restaurant/bar and features local artists. The restaurant has a very welcoming environment that I really enjoyed. I also enjoyed the menu which features BBQ, wraps, burgers and specialty pizzas. At first I had trouble deciding on just one thing, but finally went with pizza and it did not disappoint at all. My 4 cheese sundried tomato pizza was amazing. I actually couldn't figure out what all 4 cheeses were, but they meshed perfectly together creating wonderful flavor that was complimented by the deliciousness of the sundried tomatoes. I would definitely eat here again, but after having that pizza I don't know if I could convince myself to try something else on the menu, though I hear their other food is quite good as well.

City Diner

I had heard
quite a bit about the City Diner like how it had a really cool atmosphere, so I of course added it to my list of things to do in St. Louis and finally made it here to eat. However, I was here for dessert on this particular night and I'm very happy with what I got. At first glance there wasn't a ton of dessert options, but then I found the cheesecake listing and saw that there were a variety of options regarding it. On this night they had banana, chocolate peanut butter, strawberry swirl, and dulce de leche. I decided to try my luck with the dulce de leche and I immediately need to say that it was amazing. The caramel flavor was not overpoweringly sweet kind that becomes too much halfway through eating it and because of this I was able to still taste the essence of the cheesecake, which is a very good thing. I also know that the chocolate peanut butter cheesecake is very good too. So, if you're at the City Diner and craving dessert I definitely recommend trying out their cheesecake. I do want to head back to the City Diner and test out their regular menu options, I'll of course report back my findings from that endeavor.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Almost Churro

I can still remember my first encounter with the beloved churro, it was one of my family's vacations to Disneyland and I still remember instantly loving every bite of it. I had many other encounters with the churro once in Spain where they were dipped into chocolate and then on several occasions I made them somewhat successfully for fiestas in my Spanish classes back in high school. In case you were wondering a churro is a Spanish doughnut, which is usually in the form of a cylinder type shape that has ridges. The dough is fried and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.Sometimes I find myself wanting something churro like, but I am in no way up for making the dough and then wasting all that oil to fry them. Lets not forget to reiterate here the oil and frying part that is not super healthy and occasionally eating the full on real churro or anything fried is okay, but I really can't do that every time I'm craving the cinnamony goodness of a churro.

For this exact reason I invented the "lighter" much easier to make version of the churro. All it requires is some simple flour tortillas, cinnamon, sugar, a little time in the oven and viola you get the crispiness that you'd find in the fried version without the excess fat calories. And the inside is filled with the warm cinnamon sugar that becomes slightly melted and tastes oh so good in every bite. Mmm.

Lighter Churro

Flour tortillas (I use 6 inch tortillas)
Cinnamon (amount depends on size of tortilla)
Sugar (amount depends)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon onto the tortilla taking the back of a spoon to incorporate them together
3. Roll up the tortilla and place into a baking dish/cookie sheet with the flap side down to prevent it from unrolling
4. Bake until slightly crisp on ends and lightly browned
5. Let stand for 2 minutes and enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

Where to begin about Chicken Pot Pie...well to start with who doesn't love a pot pie with its warm tender flaky crust that gives way to the delicious pie filling composed of tender chicken and a rainbow of vegetables all amongst a cream sauce of the perfect consistency. Just writing that makes my mouth water.I used to eat the frozen variety back in my early college days and quickly learned that although the microwave cooked the pie faster it was often soggy and so the oven, though more time intensive, was the best option. Fast forward a couple years when I haven't had a frozen pot pie in maybe 2 almost 3 years and I find myself constantly wanting the perfect pot pie. Lucky for me I now feel more confident in my cooking skills and have braved the task of making it myself, but not so fast there was one tiny problem with all of this...
I have actually been looking off and on for a chicken pot pie recipe for months, but couldn't find the right one that had everything I was looking for. So what is a girl to do? Why make up her very own chicken pot pie recipe of course. I am now a master of whipping up a cream sauce and even went the unconventional pie route by placing my pot pie into a rectangular baking dish. I did however debate on if I should use a bottom crust because I feared it coming out soggy, which I did not want, hence my aversion to cooking frozen pot pies in the microwave. This time I only used a top crust and maybe next time I'll go out on a limb and make it a true pie, which might mean I should actually cook it in a pie dish.
Since, this was a first time recipe and didn't even follow an actual recipe I only tested it on myself, so if it was an utter failure I'd be the only one who knew about it, plus I am still wary of subjecting people to food if I haven't already tested it in some way. Though, now that this was a complete success I'm ready to cook it for people and excited to get to eat it again myself. I have a friend who loves a good chicken pot pie and I think she would be in complete bliss if I made this for her one day.

Chicken Pot Pie

Pie Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cold water

1. Combine flour and salt
2. Cut in butter until coarse crumbs form
3. Stir in water 1 tbs at a time, until dough forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour
4. Roll out to desired size and use

1 whole chicken breast
1/3 onion
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 cup peas (frozen)
3 tbs unsalted butter
3 tbs flour
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
garlic powder to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste
Italian seasoning to taste

1. Cook chicken as you normally would in the oven.
2. Saute onion and then add celery and carrots cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Add frozen peas and chicken and heat through
3. In another pot melt butter and then add flour to it to make a roux. Add in chicken broth and milk. Stir vigorously to prevent lumps from forming bring just to a boil and allow to thicken.
4. Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning
5. Mix in chicken and vegetable mixture then pour into a baking dish
6. Roll out pie crust and fit over mixture, cut off excess. Make sure to cut a couple of slits into the top of the crust.
7. Optional: Brush pie crust with egg wash to promote browning
8. Cook at 350 for about 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and flakey

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy Belated New Year

I know that I have been MIA for awhile, but things have been hectic. The good news is that I think I am finally getting back to a semi-normal schedule. I hope that everyone had a good holiday season and is ready for the new year. I was lucky enough to get to travel back to California to spend the holidays with my family.

While I was home I did plenty of baking, except one small problem I didn't write down any of these recipes to bring back here and write about and worse yet I took absolutely no pictures of any of the food. However, I can provide a list of a few of the things that I made during my weeks back home. These delicious treats included sugar cookies, gingerbread, pumpkin scones, mini cupcakes, and cranberry orange bread. I also whipped up some chocolate chip cookies (not my healthier version) and cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. This list doesn't include the things all the delicious things my mom made for Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Years.

I also received some very cool gifts to use in the kitchen. I now have an adorable mini spatula with a pointed end to get into all the hard to reach places, as well as some bottle stoppers that actually work. From a friend I got a calendar that features a different comfort food every month and will make you very hungry anytime you look at it. I am also the proud owner of a mini heart shaped cake pan. I have lots of plans for this, which include not only cakes but making heart shaped cookies (like chocolate chip ones) and brownies.

I promise within the next week to have a real post up on here and I actually do have a couple of restaurant reviews that I need to write too.