Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas for the Next Generation Foodie

The now 3 year old Princess Goat had been asking Santa every day for a month before Christmas for a cooking room.  He was happy to deliver.  After all, a girl needs the proper setting for making her Daddy the pizza, pasta, and corned beef she has been making. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Pig Shaped Grill

There's really no good reason for spending $300 on a hibachi grill.  Even if it is on sale (down from $470!).  Except that it is shaped like a pig. I'd be slapping some bacon all the time on this thing!

In fact, where are the rest of cute grilling supplies?  Too girly? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dried Fruit, The Busy Mom's Back Up Fruit Plan

I try to do my due diligence and make sure the Princess Goat gets her daily servings of fruit.  Usually it's bananas and apples, though grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and mangoes get regularly served as well. 

But sometimes I just don't have any fresh fruit in the house - either because it was so hot this summer everything went to over-ripe in a nanosecond, because I didn't get a chance to get to the grocery store, or because fresh fruit wasn't quite convenient at the moment.

That's when I pull out my back up fruit plan - dried fruit.

Dried fruit has been incredibly helpful to keep around the house.  It keeps well, it's in conveniently sized pieces that don't require cutting, it's colorful, and it's generally well received.  Dried mango is the big favorite with the Princess Goat, but I also have dried strawberries (very yummy), dried pineapple, dried kiwi, dried blueberries, and raisins on hand. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Honeycrisp Apples, A Delicious Case of Mistaken Paternity

It's fall, which means it's apple season, when many, many more varieties of apples show up in the store.  I've come a long way since the days when the only varieties I knew about were Granny Smiths and Red Delicious.  I've tried many other varieties in the past few years.  And my current favorite by far for eating fresh is the Honeycrisps, which are wonderfully sweet and crunchy and tart.  The "crunchy" is the key, because the absolute worst is biting into an apple and getting a big mouthful of mushy.   First released in 1991, Honeycrisps have become increasingly popular. Growers everywhere are planting Honeycrisps to keep up with demand.  It's now the Minnesota state fruit.

Where did the Honeycrisp come from?  They were developed at the University of Minnesota (which has been breeding apples since the 1920s).  Based on their written records from the 1960s, the presumed parents of "Honeycrisp" were "Honeygold" and "Macoun".

But wait! Some noticed that Honeycrisp was dissimilar from its reported parents (Honeycrisp stays firm!  Honeygold and Macoun get soft!).  Suspicious!

So of course a genetic analysis for paternity was done.  OMG!  Neither Honeygold nor Macoun are the parents!  Instead, Keepsake looks like it is one of Honeycrisp's parents.  And the other ... still unknown!  We may never know - that particular apple strain may have been lost or discarded since then. 

I don't know about you, but having its origins shrouded in mystery kind of makes the Honeycrisp apple even more appealing. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

White Flower Cupcakes

When the Goatling was born, someone brought us a box of cupcakes from White Flower Cake Shoppe, and we've been addicted ever since. 

Cake isn't usually my favorite dessert, and it's because of the frosting.  Frosting is often too much, too sweet.  But the frosting on the White Flower cupcakes is sweet enough without being overwhelming.  The cakes are delicious.  And, they're pretty.  Really, they're gorgeous cakes.

The Princess Goat is partial to the white cake cupcake, and Foodgoat likes the chocolate, but I really, really love the red velvet cupcake, with the cream cheese frosting.  YUMMY. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shish Kebob

We made shish kebobs last week, when the weather was warmer, for the sole reason that when we went to to the grocery store, GoatSpawn would NOT STOP STARING at the premade shish kebobs in the meat department. Even when I tried to move on to the next section she made me turn back so she could keep on looking at them. 

Shish kebob is Turkish for ... “pieces of meat roasted on a spit or skewers.” While they say shish kebab was invented by soldiers of the Turk tribes using their swords to grill meat over their military campfires, surely meat cooked on a stick over fire has to date back a lot farther than that.  Even marinated meat cooked on a stick must be an ancient technique.  

The red onions on the shish kebob came out really, really onion-y, but everything else was delicious.  And grilled corn on the cob is always a winner for everyone. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Uh Oh! Spaghetti-O's, Filipino Style

Despite Foodgoat's great skill at making all kinds of delicious, and authentically Italian, pasta dishes, sometimes the pasta dish I feel like isn't Italian at all.  It's Filipino-style!

Filipino style spaghetti is spaghetti with a sweet meat sauce and hot dogs.  Trust me, it's good.  
The sauce can be sweetened by using banana sauce or banana ketchup or with sugar, or both.   Don't know what banana ketchup is?  Banana ketchup is a Filipino condiment that is just ketchup made with some bananas (banana ketchup was made when there was a shortage of tomato ketchup during World War II, due to lack of tomatoes and a comparatively high production of bananas).  It's sweeter than regular ketchup.  
Can't get any banana ketchup?  You can substitute regular ketchup or regular tomato sauce, with a little more sugar to make it sweeter.  
The hot dogs are the other key part of this dish, and the part people might question.  But I actually think they provide a nice meaty, salty balance to the sweet tomato sauce.  They should, however, be sliced diagonally, in my opinion.  Why?  Because that's how my mom does it, and it just seems better.   

I decided to use pasta shaped like little rings instead of the usual spaghetti shape, because GoatSpawn picked it out at the store (we always let her pick out the pasta at the store) and because it seemed like it might be easier for her to eat.  So my Filipino spaghetti really actually turned out to be Filipino SpaghettiO's!

I don't recall every having SpaghettiO's as a kid, and I don't remember wanting it.  It never looked good, coming out of a can like that.  I didn't know that they were specifically marketed to parents as 'less messy' than regular spaghetti ("The neat round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon!"), and also use a sweetened tomato sauce. 

My homemade Filipino version turned out to be a hit with GoatSpawn, and even Foodgoat. 
This recipe is adapted from Cook Mobile's recipe for Filipino-Style Spaghetti.  Check out the original!  

1 lb anelli (ring-shaped) pasta, or any other pasta shape you like
1 lb ground beef
2 to 3 hot dogs, sliced diagonally
1 cup banana ketchup (can't find banana ketchup/sauce?  use regular ketchup, or tomato sauce)
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce (this can be a mix of sauce and paste, depending on how thick and tomato-y you like it)
1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 to 2 minced garlic cloves
1 spoonful sugar to taste (smaller spoon if you use banana ketchup or regular ketchup, more if you use regular tomato sauce)
salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, saute hotdogs until lightly brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Saute onions and garlic. Add  ground beef, and cook until browned.

Pour in tomato sauce and ketchup. Stir the sugar. Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, until meat is fully cooked and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. Add broth or water if it gets too thick for you.  Stir in the hotdogs to heat through.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta! 

Once the pasta is done and the sauce is done, mix all together.   Top with grated Parmesan cheese if you like and serve!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Beet It: A Review of Biotta Beet Juice

I like beets.  Beets are messy to make but a perfectly nice tasting vegetable when made fresh and roasted.  Beet juice is one of the ingredients in the very tasty Naked Berry Veggie smoothie, so I decided to try the Biotta Beet Juice, which is straight up,100% beet juice.  Beets are sweet, so I figured the juice would be pretty good.

 As you can see, beet juice is pretty intense in color.  But in terms of taste ... it's even more intense.  It's extremely - vegetable-y.  It really does seem like you are taking in a very concentrated beet.

I thought it might help to mix it with something instead of drinking it straight.  But also, I had heard you are not supposed to drink beet juice all by itself - beet juice can, according to some sources (none of which can provide me with acceptable sources or citations) can detox your liver and blood and kidneys so quickly that the release of all the toxins from your system can make you pass out or temporarily paralyze your vocal chords or something.  Is this true?  I myself did not pass out at all.  I did not feel particularly detoxified.  And my vocal chords worked well enough for me to say to Foodgoat, "Oh, jeez, you've got to taste this horrible thing."

But anyway, since I had a whole bottle of the stuff, I thought I'd try mixing it with something very sweet and light.  Like Sprite.  I'm sure this negates any health benefits beet juice might confer.  Alas, I found it didn't help the taste at all.  It just made the vegetable-y taste bubbly. 

So, despite the fact that I enjoy fresh roasted beets, I will not be partaking in the juiced version again any time soon.  Biotta also makes a couple of other vegetable juices, but none of them sound remotely appealing.  Potato juiceSauerkraut juice?  I don't think so. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Sequence of Photos to Explain Why GoatSpawn Got an Early Bath

Honestly, I think the photos really speak for themselves.

That's an ice cream pie from Mitchell's, by the way, made with Belgian dark chocolate ice cream.  Delicious!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

You Call That Thai? I Call It Filipino!

On a comment on our recent post about Mr. Brisket, Cookbook recommended trying their Thai sausage.  So we did. 

And oh my goodness, that was some very good sausage. Succulent, juicy, wonderfully flavored.

But Thai? 

When I think Thai, I generally think spicy.  This sausage is not spicy.  At all.  It's sweet.

What it really tastes like to me is Filipino sausage.  It tastes like languanisa, the sweet Filipino sausage that is usually served with breakfast, and generally so juicy that when you poke it with a fork while cooking it squirts up these little fountains of fat.  and that's just what the Thai sausage did too.  Yummy!  Really, languanisa is a one of my very favorite things in the world.

Is this really what Thai sausage is like?  Did the Thai sausage come first?  Or did the Filipino languanisa come first?  Or do they share a common sweet sausage ancestor?  Or did the sweet sausages emerge independently?

I'll be stopping by for more, but in my mind, I'll be calling it Filipino sausage.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Day of the Scones

I tried to get excited about the royal wedding on Friday, because they seem like a nice and unobjectionable couple.  So what if the monarchy seems terribly, terribly archaic and pointless, not to mention sexist, in these modern times?  I suppose there are worse things than keeping around a royal family for the sole purpose of voyeuristic entertainment and to be, well, just very, very British. 

But I was not AT ALL motivated to get up at 4 am, or 5 am, or even 8 am, whatever God forsaken hour it was televised at.  I wasn't even motivated to try to get Foodgoat to change the channel away from NFL Draft coverage.  Weddings can be very boring to watch.  Of course if the Daleks started attacking in the middle of the ceremony I would have been sorry that I missed it, but alas, they missed a rather golden opportunity. 

But I did make up a batch of scones for the occasion (I just couldn't bring myself to try and make a fruitcake).  I feel like I must have had scones at some point in my life, but I don't remember actually having them or anything about what they are supposed to be like. They always just look dense and dry and sweet.  They never look as good as muffins do in the morning.  So I didn't have a lot of high hopes for my own attempt at scones.

Well, was I ever surprised.  I used the King Arthur Flour basic recipe, and added chocolate chips.  It was not only really easy, it tasted just wonderful.  Scones, as it turns out, are just what I know as biscuits, and they were buttery, moist, crusty on top, and not too sweet.  I loved them.  I'll definitely be making these again.

So if nothing else, at least the British monarchy has introduced me to the deliciousness of the scone. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wendy's Natural Cut Fries With Sea Salt

A report came out last week that Wendy's new "Natural Cut Fries with Sea Salt" are in fact, not all that natural.  But instead of being deterred by the news, Foodgoat just craved them even more.

So what if they are dusted in dextrose (sugar derived from corn)?  And dipped in sodium acid pyrophosphate?  (These keep them from turning brown from when they are fried prior to freezing and fried again at the restaurant.)  And what if they are fried in oil mixed with dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone-based chemical that helps keep the vegetable oil from getting foamy after a whole day of frying? 

We are talking about fast food, after all. 

Because even if they are not exactly fresh from the potato farm, they do taste great.  Foodgoat isn't the only one to think so:  Wendy's claims their fries beat McDonald's fries in a national blind taste test, and fries sales at the 6,600 Wendy's (which is based in Ohio) worldwide have gone up 10%. 

The new fries still have the potato skins on, they are are crispier and the flavor is much better than the old Wendy's fries. Natural or not, they do make us happy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fish Sticks and Custard and Doctor Who

We celebrated the premiere of the new Doctor Who season on Saturday with - what else? - fish sticks and custard.

When we first met the 11th Doctor last year, of course, the young Amelia Pond offers a variety of foods to feed his newly regenerated body, but each one - the yogurt, the apple, even the bacon - is rejected, spit out, or deemed evil.  The ultimate and unlikely winner is fish sticks dipped in custard. 

Naturally, I didn't have high hopes for how well this would taste, so we went with minimal effort - Van De Kamp's Frozen Crunchy Fish Sticks and Jell-O Instant Pudding in Banana Cream. 

But guess what?  It wasn't bad at all. 

The fish sticks were nice and crunchy (I don't know why, but I was greatly reassured by the fact that the fish stick instructions said explicitly that microwave cooking is not recommended), and they didn't so far so badly dipped in the sweet, banana cream pudding.  Perhaps not the ideal dipping sauce, but not nearly as weird as I anticipated.  I finished off all the fish sticks this way! 

Why does Foodgoat look so sad then?  Maybe it's because he had to watch Doctor Who in standard definition instead of high definition.  Come on, DirecTV, carry BBC America in HD!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Spice Packs - Not for the Seasoned Cook (heh, heh)

We have a well stocked spice cabinet - a lot of spices, and an excellent spice source.  Foodgoat can mix and match his own spices very well, so we didn't have particularly high hopes for these individual spice packets made by Aromatica Organics, who claim to be America’s first organic spice company,which we were sent samples of to review a while ago.

Each spice packet is sized for making a dish that might be enough for two people - enough to one pound of chicken, let's say, or two potatoes - so there is no measuring needed.  The packet also helpfully comes with suggested uses and directions.

They have a large selection, but we tried out three in one meal - the Green Bean Seasoning with pan-sauteed green beans, the Potato Topper Seasoning with mashed potatoes, and the Caribbean Jerk with a roasted chicken.
Before ...

After the chicken as been roasted ...

Surprisingly (to us, anyway), the spice packets worked generally very well and were easy to use.  The chicken was great and the mashed potatoes was delicious.  The green beans were overwhelmed by the spices, though.  I don't know if I necessarily blame the spice mix on that, because generally I don't think green beans even really needs much in the way of spices. 

All in all, I was surprisingly happy with the spice packets.  They were easy to use, tasted great, and made cooking very simple.  Still, they aren't something we are likely to use a lot, because we do tend to have our own spices on hand.

But they are still nice to have around, I have to say.   And I can think of a lot of situations in which these individual, pre-mixed spices make a lot of sense: when you don't keep a wide variety of spices on hand, when you don't quite sure how to blend spices, when you're traveling and will be cooking in a different kitchen.

And, because they gave us way too many of the spice packets to try, I will be giving some of the extras away!  Just leave a comment by Thursday, April 28, at 5 PM EST telling me what your favorite spice is, and a random commenter will receive a selection of the spice packets to try for themselves. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cooking with GoatSpawn: Pizza

One of the things that Foodgoat likes best?  Cooking with his little one.

Does it take a lot longer when kids are "helping" you cook?  Oh yeah.  Is it far, far messier?  Absolutely.  Are there danger points when kids come in closer proximity to knives and ovens and elevated work spaces?  Yup.

But it's so much fun for everyone, and such a valuable and important learning experience, that it's worth it. 

Here they are making pizzas together - one for each of them.


Adding pepperoni

And more cheese ...
As you can see, GoatSpawn's pizza came out beautifully.

Foodgoat's pizza?  Not nearly as pretty.  But just as tasty.