Thursday, March 29, 2012

Smitten Kitchen's apple tart: Something special

I am not the kind of person who looks at many recipes and thinks, "let's make that exactly as it's written!"I either eyeball amounts, change the spices, change some ratios, taste and edit as I go. When I find a recipe that is an exception to this, I know I've found something special I have to share with you.
Ready for my close-up, darling

I am the only person in my immediate family who loves pumpkin pie. As such, I am always in support of inviting others to our Thanksgiving celebration, because it means I can justify baking this traditional dessert, for the sake of our guests you know. Still, there has to be another dessert, and my mother asked for an apple pie.

Want to know a secret?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Light & creamy mashed potatoes:
Classic comfort food dinner pt 3

Similar to the meatloaf I grew up with, I learned to make mashed potatoes differently than I do now. My mom taught me to "whip" the potatoes, breaking them apart and mixing them with cold milk and margarine with a hand mixer. Then, for several years I was a hand-mash devotee, heating my milk and butter together first then mashing the potatoes into a paradox of chunky smoothness.

Over those years, I've seen and read about using a Potato Ricer for mashed potatoes, and generally never tried it because 1) I liked my hand mashed potatoes so much, and 2) I didn't really feel like buying a ricer. Recently though, I realized I could push the soft cooked potatoes through a metal sieve with the same effect as a ricer, and haven't looked back since. This yields a fluffy, creamy texture that other methods don't produce. (Basically, a "ricer" extrudes the potato through small holes, similar to a garlic press if you are familiar with those, or heck, the Play-Doh Fun Factory. The potatoes come out in small pieces resembling rice).

Now, in my trials and errors, there is more to perfect mashed potatoes than ricing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lemony green beans w/ crispy shallots:
Classic comfort food dinner pt 2

I LOVE vegetables--I realize thus far looking at this blog you'd think I only love baked goods and pasta, but I really truly love vegetables. Except for green beans. I don't hate them, but they just don't make my heart flutter the way butternut squash and spinach and onions and brussels sprouts do, or the plethora of other vegetables I'll eat every which way I can.

That is, until recently.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Loaded Meatloaf: Classic comfort food dinner pt 1

My friend Sam over at RiggedUp! asked me to share my meatloaf recipe with him, so since I was typing it up, I'm sharing it with all of you too. I've decided to make a theme out of it, and this week, I'll be posting my takes on recipes for a classic comfort food dinner.

What's the meatloaf you remember from childhood? For me, it was basically a giant baked meatball, ground beef mixed with little more than some egg and breadcrumbs, overly meaty and greasy from being baked in a loaf pan.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Best thing you aren't* eating: avocado toast

*A “Best thing you aren’t eating” post, in which I share recipes that are so easy you can barely call them recipes, for things so simply delightful that I don’t know why I didn’t eat them before or why I’m not eating them everyday, and on the off chance you haven’t eaten them, it would be very very rude for me not to share.

Snack, breakfast, part of a lunch, there's really no time that's not a great time to eat avocado toast. I was first inspired to try this after an episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown talked about the foods he ate to lose 50 pounds (if you're a fan, it wasn't hard to notice he both gained some weight and then lost it again). One recipe was toast with avocado and sardines, a healthy combination of carbs, protein and good-for-you fats.

While I've admittedly not tried Alton's version (though nothing's ever made me want to try sardines so much), and I can't say anything about it's taste, I can say that the simple combination of toasted bread with ripe avocado is one of my life's simple pleasures.

Here's your non-recipe:
-Toast a piece of bread (I like high quality wheat bread or sourdough).
-Cut and pit a ripe avocado. Scoop out 1/4-1/2 of the flesh (I usually do 1/4 but hey, live it up if you like!), and mash directly onto the bread (if the bread is more fragile, mash the flesh in the shell then spread gently).
-Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher or sea salt OR sugar (both are great compliments, just depends if you want something sweet or salty).
-Eat. Eat eat eat.

I'm so glad I live in California again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Recipe testing for a new cookbook

Earlier this month I was selected to test recipes for a new cookbook from Steamy Kitchen blogger Jaden Hair. The cookbook is all about healthy, simple Asian recipes, which is a bit of a diversion from my usual style of cooking.

It's been an awesome opportunity to be a part of this behind the scenes process (well, that makes it sound a bit more glamourous than it is, but ok!). I've even had some dreams about it... like meeting Jaden, and shopping for mangoes. One of the challenges of food blogging for me is writing recipes that are easy to follow--so following someone else's recipes as closely as possible has been a valuable experience for me as a writer.

Understandably, I can't share the recipes with you (for that, you'll have to get the book!), but here's some food porn (food porn-y because of Jaden's delicious recipes, certainly not my photography "skills") for you (click on photos to enlarge):

Scallion dipping sauce
Edamame noodle salad
Carrots w/ sesame & ponzu

Crispy rice patties

Mom's pow-pow sauce

A combination for lunch!

Healing chicken ginger soup

Roasted squash

Carrot ginger juice (& pulp)
Roasted chestnuts
Eggs w/ pow-pow sauce

Mango brulee

Monday, March 12, 2012

Simple shrimp pasta

I've been asked by a handful of people if I would teach them to cook. It's always an adventure teaching someone something, especially if you aren't used to being a teacher.

This is the recipe I wish I had thought of during those times. There must be thousands of recipes for shrimp pasta littering the internet, but with good reason. It's simple but covers several techniques that are useful for many dishes. As a meal, this can also come together in well under 30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Best thing you aren't* eating: brownie bites

*A “Best thing you aren’t eating” post, in which I share recipes that are so easy you can barely call them recipes, for things so simply delightful that I don’t know why I didn’t eat them before or why I’m not eating the
m everyday, and on the off chance you haven’t eaten them, it would be very very rude for me not to share.

This post is a bit of a two-fer, a simple recipe that led to the discovery of the true "best thing you aren't eating." Looking for something to bring to a family party, I decided on making brownie bites (you can call them brownie truffles if you're feeling fancy).

Brownie bites/truffles

-Bake your favorite brownie recipe or box mix according to directions, let cool completely.

-Trim the crunchy edges (bonus snack!) and cut brownie into small squares (mine were a little smaller than 1x1inches)

-Roll squares into balls (this will get messy)

-Freeze for at least 30 minutes

-To coat, melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave (zap in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted)

-Stick a skewer in each ball to dip in the chocolate, shake off the excess and set on wax paper and let harden (either in a cool room or the freezer). Leave plain like to the left, or add sprinkles like above.

I was worried about transporting them during the hour drive. This led to some research on how brownies would freeze (the answer is GREAT) and reading several comments from people addicted to eating brownies straight out of the freezer.

Here's the bonus part. I was skeptical but I cannot emphasize this enough: eat a frozen brownie. Try just one. And then tell me you don't want to do it again, I dare you. They don't freeze solid, but instead get intensely chewy and fudgy and heavenly.

Pin It

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bettina bakes all the things: yogurt cake

In my last job, I took on the role of office birthday baker. It was a nice opportunity for me, who lived alone, to try new recipes and not worry about eating entire cakes or batches of cookies on my own. Sometimes though, when a birthday was in the middle of the week, or when I had to work late the night before, it was helpful to have a recipe I could rely on to come together quickly, easily, and deliciously.

For those times, that recipe was a yogurt poundcake. One bowl, no electric mixers, and one pan.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super (spinach salad in a) Bowl

When you're done eating wings, nachos, and other delicious things no one invited me to bring to their Super Bowl party today, you might want something a little lighter, but still delicious, to eat this coming week.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Macaroni and Easy Cheesy

I have a friend I've known since I was six years old, who before a few weeks ago, had only eaten one of my home-cooked meals. Nonetheless, that single meal, macaroni and cheese, was enough to get her testimony that she thinks I'm a great cook. Unfortunately, it's not often anymore that we are both in the same area, and when that overlapped earlier this month, we decided to have another macaroni and cheese date.

The first time I had cooked for her, several years ago, I used a mac n cheese recipe from Campbell's Creative Cooking with Soup, which used cheddar cheese soup as the base for the sauce. Since then I've made many variations of macaroni and cheese totally from scratch, but I wanted to do something that met a bit in the middle for my friend, as to not totally stray from the original dish, but to step up the taste and texture a little. Thus, I'll call this my shortcut, weekday, they'll-never-know-if-you-don't-tell-them macaroni and easy cheesy: quick to pull together with a few shortcuts, but satisfying, creamy, and of course cheesy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

About that feelings part

Welcome to Cream Cheese and Feelings, my food blog baby.

As the subtitle above says, yes, this is yet another food blog. I know I've thrown my hat into the massive rodeo of food blogs, and I'd be honored to get even the status equivalent of the rodeo clown.

Still, if you're a friend, you know how important food is to me and my life. If you're not a friend, I hope you'll not only become one, but also learn about my passion for food. I believe food plays an important role in culture and people’s lives--it’s comfort, nourishment, energy, community. I like to cook food, eat food, look at food, share food, read about food and write about food. You can expect original recipes, adaptations of others, my opinions about food and the future of food, book and blog recommendations, and stories about people and life coming together around food.

Thanks for coming by, and I hope you'll come back Saturday for the first new recipe!

*I can't publish this post without crediting the fabulous name of this blog to my fabulous friend. Thank you, Leah!*

Pin It