Monthly Archives: February 2011

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Orzo

Hello and happy Thursday! Dan has had a butternut squash sitting on his kitchen counter for the past couple of weeks and we’ve been discussing what to do with it. We made butternut squash ravioli at the beginning of fall which was pretty good, and a butternut squash soup a few months ago which we weren’t such fans of. We wanted to try something new, so I spent the past week looking up butternut squash recipes, apparently there is not much you can do with it except roast it with some brown sugar, make a soup, or stuff it into some ravioli. Finally, finally! I was able to find a recipe that used butternut squash in a non-soupy, stuffing way! It was a supposed to be a wild rice, risotto and shitake recipe, but after some miscommunication and mishap, it turned into a crimini mushroom and orzo dish.

Fat Kid Confidential

Butternut squash and mushroom orzo

Here is my take on this butternut squash and shitake mushroom wild rice risotto:

  • 3.5 ounces crimini mushrooms
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 whole butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Orzo
  • 1.5 cups dry white wine
  • Parmesan to liking
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Fat Kid Confidential

Butternut squash, so delicious to eat, so difficult to cut....

Slice up the mushrooms and soak them in the water for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut open the butternut squash and cut into 1 inch squares. Toss the butternut squash in the olive oil and spread onto a baking sheet for about 30 minutes, or until tender.

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Drain the mushrooms and put the mushroom water with chicken stock into a saucepan, simmer over medium heat. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and when it begins to foam, stir in chopped onion until it’s soft and golden, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in Orzo and add white wine and mushrooms until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

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Soaking up all the goodness

Pour simmering stock into the skillet and cook until Orzo absorbs the liquid. Add in butternut squash until it’s hot, add in parsley and parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Serve up and enjoy!!

It turned out really well! I was worried about not having risotto, but the Orzo turned out great and the butternut squash was an amazing addition. I’ll probably use more mushrooms next time as well as garlic, but I can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch!

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Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting and Homebrew

Happy Valentine's Day!!

It was quite the busy Sunday night in Dan’s tiny little studio apartment. He was set on making a porter similar to Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter that I love so much, and I was on a mission to make vanilla bean cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting for him. I spent the week looking for a recipe using an actual vanilla bean as opposed to paste or extract and I ended up basing my cupcake recipe off of Annie’s Eats and the the frosting from Smitten Kitchen.

Adorable Valentine cupcake liners!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 16 tbsp. salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk them.  In a large bowl, put in the butter, and cut open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the bowl, disregarding the pod. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.

Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition, then scraping down the sides of the bowl after each 1/4 cup.  Mix in the eggs one at a time and also scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a separate bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.

Vanilla beans courtesy of Whole Foods

Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full. Bake 15-18 (for mini-cupcakes) or 18-22 (for regular size cupcakes) minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tada! Vanilla bean cupcakes

Vanilla Bean Frosting

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 26 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 dash vanilla extract

Simmer a pot of water and set a metal bowl on top to whisk the egg whites and sugar. Whisk until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

I didn't have a metal bowl... So I used a metal pan....

Transfer mixture into a bowl and mix it until it turns white and about doubles in size. (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)

Split open the vanilla bean and scrape in the seeds. Beat the mixture and add in a dash of vanilla.

Add the butter a stick at a time and mix until the frosting is smooth.

Frosty-sugary goodness

*Added from Smitten Kitchen: Deb note: Do not have a panic attack when this takes a while to come together (though I did every time). One super-large batch took 15 minutes, but it did and will come together. Patience, young Jedis.

This recipe made 12 regular size cupcakes, and 48 mini-cupcakes, plus a whole lot of leftover frosting. I missed the “whisk occasionally” memo on the frosting and continually beat the the egg white/sugar mixture while it was in the bowl over the water so the frosting turned out really fluffy and didn’t set fully. They turned out wonderful though, and Dan loved them! Now I have to wait a month to see how the beer is….

They taste much better than they look..

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Filed under Cooking, Cupcake, Uncategorized

Buffalo Chicken Dip

In case you somehow missed it, this past Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday.  For the past seven years my friend Holden hosts a dip party – “Dip-A-Palooza.” Everyone who attends is required to bring a homemade dip, and a lot of these guys go all out. Last year a jalapeno popper dip won DAP, it was also my first year so I found out what standards the dip had to be up to. I asked around and looked at some dips online, got a couple recommendations, and my mom even faxed me some recipes for fancy dips. I decided on a buffalo chicken dip my friend had made for the Seahawks playoff game a couple of weeks ago.

The dip recipe I based mine on came from I definitely spiced it up a bit. Here is my recipe:

  • Two chicken breasts
  • Hot sauce
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 packages cream cheese
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cayenne chili
  • Chili Powder
  • Srirachi sauce

I first preheated the oven to 350, then cut up and cubed the chicken into pieces and put it in a large sauce pan. I poured ¾ cups of hot sauce over the chicken, and cooked the sauce into the chicken. After the chicken cooked, I took two forks and started to pull apart the chicken in the pan to create smaller pieces. I added in the cream cheese and ranch dressing and waited for the mixture to melt down. All throughout this process, I was shaking in the various cayenne and chili sauces, trying to make the dip as spicy as I could. When the dressing and cream cheese started to melt, I began to have issues. The dip was turning really oily, and the ranch looked like it was curdling. It was a kitchen nightmare. I continued to stir it in hopes of mixing in the oil, but more appeared! I finally gave up, threw on half the cheese, mixed it around, put it in a Pyrex bowl, topped it with the rest of the cheddar cheese and put it in the oven. When I took out the dip 10 minutes later, the oil was still there, but it rose to the top so I tried to blot it out. This continued to be a process, dip in the oven, take dip out, blot with paper towel, repeat. My friend Erick had the genius idea to mix in sriracha, not only did it make the dip spicy, it soaked up most of the oil!

I chopped up some celery and took it to the party. It turned out to be a huge hit! Everyone loved it. The spice kicked in at the end, so people were in for a treat. Cooking the chicken in the hot sauce was a great idea, as the chicken was juicy and really spicy. I ended up coming in 6th of 20, a title I was happy to take! The winner was a pecan chocolate cheesecake dip, which was argued to be a spread and ineligible, but the votes called it the winner!

There were a couple things I learned from this experiment:

  • Fred Meyer’s brand ranch dressing is disgusting
  • Chili pepper gives a kick at the, unlike other peppers which are spicy at first taste
  • Sriracha soaks up oils
  • Don’t wait until last minute for Super Bowl supplies, everyone else is at the grocery store for the same reason
  • Frank’s hot sauce will run out the morning of any major sporting event

I apologize for no pictures, but the way the dip turned out looking, I don’t think you’d want to see any if I did take them!

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Filed under Cheese, Chicken, Cooking, Disasters, Recipes

Happy Chinese New Year!

Yesterday was Chinese New Year, and my best friend who grew up in Singapore invited some girls over to partake in dinner with her. We spent the evening talking about traditions (in Singapore she always received a red envelop of money, in Korea, they just give you straight up cash, but we had to do a New Year’s bow for ours, and she got hers bright and early in the morning!) and delve into some homemade Singaporean food. I’m not a big fan of Chinese food, and have never had Singaporean food so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Jessica had spent the whole day cooking, in true Asian fashion, and created a delicious feast fit for a king!

The table was covered with food when I arrived (a bit late thanks to boot camp and an accident) and the other girls had already gone through their first round of food. I quickly caught up with them and filled my plate with everything on the table. This is what Jessica made: *I apologize for the blurry, yellow tinted pictures, the camera phone is still a learning game

Chinese New Year

Gado Gado

This is a salad with fried tofu, cooked potatoes, cauliflower, blanched and shredded cabbage, and I believe green beans, all topped with a peanut sauce. This was probably my favorite dish of the night, and I couldn’t stop putting it on my plate, or picking at it when I was too embarrassed to continue filling my plate up.


Chinese New Year

Beef rendang

Jessica slow cooked beef in a crockpot with coconut milk and spices. It was so soft and tender, there was no need for a knife as it pulled apart with a fork. I took extra servings of this as well.


Chinese New Year

Chicken rice and beef rendang

There was chicken rice, which was brown rice, cooked in chicken stock from the chicken in the picture below.


Chinese New Year

Chicken and sauces

Jess made three sauces for the chicken: garlic, dark soy sauce and chili.


Chinese New Year

Curry puffs

And finally, there were curry puffs. She made two kinds, one wrapped in crescent dough and another in biscuit though. The filling was made of curry, potatoes and chicken. It could be interrupted as an “Asian meat pie.”

We finished off dinner with mandarins (for luck!) and homemade peach bubble tea.

Chinese New Year is quite different from Korean New Year. The Chinese use a lot of different plates and styles of food, where in Korea, I’ve always had rice cake soup and other rice cake goodies. One thing is for sure, I’ll be looking forward to Chinese New Year next year!! Maybe this time I’ll take the day off work and help Jessica out. Happy New Year!

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Filed under Cooking, Eating

Skillet Smashed Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

It’s been a long couple of weeks, and to comfort myself, I went back to my roots: baking. Growing up, I used to bake chocolate chip cookies with my friends on the weekends or watch my mom make amazing cheesecakes or other goodies during the week. I didn’t have a kitchen in college, so whenever I’d go home for breaks or a weekend trip, I’d find a way to bake some cookies or bars for my parents to eat after I left (or just finish half the pan during my two days at home.) Now that I have my own apartment, I’ve gotten more into baking and love baking. I’ll do anything from old school chocolate chip, to trying new things like coconut macaroons (which take an awful long time to cook if you’ve never done it before.) Not all my attempts have been successful (candy cane cookies that fall apart and are pink instead of red), but most have worked out and gotten positive feedback!

Last night I decided to make peanut butter cookies. I searched different websites for a simple recipe, and went with this one from epicurious by Bon Appetite, with some tweaks. This is what I like to call my Skillet Smashed Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Star of the show

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s crunchy, unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (plus a tad bit more because who doesn’t love vanilla?)
  • 1 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Chocolate chips to your heart’s content – I used about one half milk chocolate chips, and one full good quality milk chocolate candy bar – Ikea surprisingly has good chocolate (somehow the chocolate chips went “missing” at my boyfriend’s apartment. I’m sure I could find them in his stomach)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, peanut butter and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Beat in brown sugar, then white sugar. Stir half of dry ingredients into mixture. Add eggs 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. I made two batches of plain peanut butter cookies and then added in the chocolate chip bits to the rest of the mix for three more batches. As the name of the cookies denotes, in order to create chocolate chip bits, I took a cast iron skillet to the chocolate bar to break it up, surprisingly, it didn’t work that well and I ended up using my hands.

Chocolate goodness

For each cookie, roll 1 heaping tablespoonful of dough into a one inch ball. Be sure you give enough space between cookies to spread; I gave about an inch and a half. I dusted my pan with flour, but it turned out it didn’t need any – they came off the pan with no problem. Using back of fork, flatten dough balls and form crosshatch design on tops. Feel free to put sugar on the fork to press into the cookies. I normally use white sugar, but since I ran out, I used brown sugar which doesn’t stick as well to the fork. Bake cookies until dry on top and golden brown on bottom, about 17 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

Ready for the oven

Ready to be eaten

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Filed under Cookies, Recipes