24 March 2011

Healthy recipe #1

So, maybe it was a coincidence that three days after my boyfriend, RJ signed on for a life insurance policy, his coworker suddenly passed at the age of 38.  I may be a scientist, but I still believe that there are signs.  They can be as subtle as a breeze caressing your cheek or as slap-you-in-the-face blatant as your coworker dying just as you are planning for your own hopefully distant demise.  So, in addition to our daily workout regimen (which was brought on by the sign of the ‘L’ sticker on my jeans), we’re going to start eating healthy, vegetable-laden meals until we turn 60, after which we’ll indulge to our hearts content and be able to die happily.  Possibly with a twenty-piece chicken mcnuggets in one hand and a guinness in the other.  Until then, here is healthy dish #1, chicken and quinoa.  Thankfully, garlic, chili peppers, and cinnamon have been deemed ‘healthy’.  

Live long thyme chicken and spinach over spicy quinoa
- ½ white onion, diced; another ½ diced for quinoa
this is what i mean by 'heap' of spinach.
- ½ green pepper, diced
-1 pack thinly sliced chicken breast, sliced in chunks
-3 cups+ white wine
-2 sprigs of thyme, stripped
-2T Worcestershire
-6 cloves garlic, chopped
-heap of fresh spinach, washed
-salt and cracked black pepper
-red chili powder
-3 cups quinoa
-4 whole dried chili peppers
-6 cups mushroom stock
-1t cinnamon
-1T cumin
-olive oil
see the spirals!?
Follow directions on package of quinoa for washing/ soaking steps.  In a pot on the stove or a rice cooker, set up mushroom stock, ½ diced s!?onion, whole chilis, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper for 3 cups of quinoa.  For the stove, let stock with seasonings come to a boil and then add quinoa, cover and cook until you can see little spirals in the grains.  For a rice cooker, add everything and push the start button.  While this is cooking, coat olive oil in a high-lipped pan on med heat and chop your onion while it heats up.  Add the onion to the pan and stir, sprinkle with thyme.  Take a moment to smell the thyme.  Mmmm. It smells good.  Chop up the green pepper and stir that in, too.  Slice up the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Move your veg over to one side of the pan and slide the chicken chunks onto the other side.  Sprinkle chicken with salt (lightly!), pepper and chili powder, let brown on one side and flip over each bit with tongs (not your veg spoon).  Add in the Worcestershire and let the chicken cook through.  Add wine and stir together the chicken and veg.  Let the wine cook down while you chop your garlic and ready the spinach.  When the liquid reaches about ½ volume, add spinach and garlic and stir in to wilt.  Remove from heat as soon as the spinach wilts.  Cracked black pepper to taste.  Within a few minutes, your quinoa will be ready.  Serve chicken over quinoa, or mix it all together.  You won’t even know that you’re eating healthy food! Serves 2-3.

PS.  If you have any cooked quinoa leftover, spread it out on a sheet pan, cover with parchment and/or cling film, and refrigerate.  Tomorrow I’ll post the recipe for quinoa cakes! 

03 March 2011

wheat and german rye bread

Okay kiddies! A lot of people that I've talked to since I started this blog have said that they can't get away from recipes and they end up making the same thing over and over because it takes too much to find and execute a new recipe, and moreover, to buy ingredients for one specific meal.  For me, the key is to stock the fridge and pantry with the basics and then play around with the ingredients in different combination.  Take a simple sofrito:  sauteed onions, peppers and tomato sauce.  If you add beef, chicken or pork and a few other friends, you get ropa vieja (see recipe below).  Add some red wine and mushrooms and pour over a grilled chicken breast and top with parmigiana.  Or add cooked cubed potatoes, sour cream, saffron, and a little flour for a dish called giso.  Must haves:  onions, green peppers, tomato sauce, meat, wine, rice, pasta, and a variety of herbs and spices.  Make the most with the least amount of ingredients.  For those of you still chained to recipes, I'll report full recipes of these later, but right now, we're focusing on the versatility of bread.  WHY, you ask? Because the easier it is, the more you'll make it, and the better you'll get at it.  Being comfortable and flexible with ingredients is an important lesson, best taught with foods with few ingredients. 

Like for a change up on white bread (see recipe below), I use the same recipe, replacing 1/2 cup of the white flour for wheat flour, add a little more honey.  THAT'S IT!!  Rye bread isn't so bad, either.  The procedure is the same as for the white mountain bread (below) with a few more ingredients:

German Rye Bread
- 1 pack Rapid Rise Yeast
- 1/4 cup hot water (~120F)
- 3/4 cup warm milk (~70F)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 cup rye flour
- 1 1/2 cup bread flour
- 2 shakes of caraway seeds (optional)

truffle shuffle!

The wicked empire is expanding! We are in the process of starting an online truffle company (the chocolates, not the mushrooms) called wicked sweets! I'm working out the flavors and designs now, and we should be ready to start shipping out soon.  I will keep you posted on our progress! Right now we have two types: gnarly and extra gnarly.  I am having a personal dilemma, though.  There are two schools of thought on truffles: smooth and pretty or ugly and classical.  On the one hand, I am a truffle snob and believe that truffles should look like their mushroom namesake.  On the other hand, I want to make wicked artistic patterns and themes, so the question is: to whom am I catering? I'll end up doing both to satisfy myself, but drop a line and tell me which style YOU prefer. 

02 March 2011

rock my socks!

This is my new favorite website!!!
The CFE site has recipes, tutorials, book recommendations, and a food blog- all written in the language of science! The recipes are a great basis for anyone, from the seasoned chef to the curious newbie.  The CFE recipe for tiramisu is ALMOST like my own family recipe, too! They did some research into the origins of tiramisu and found the supposed original recipe, proving once and for all that RAW EGGS ARE NOT AN INGREDIENT, a point I have promoted for many a year. From tidbits about pasteurization and the breakdown of proteins to an introduction to cooking sous vide, this site is definitely bookmarkable.    

And now, pictures of my kitties... just because.

stanley with his ebola plush. he lurves that thing.

this is carlos. he was not stretching in this picture. just laying this way. for like 30 minutes.

14 February 2011

screamed spinach

Spinach was on sale this week! I pretty much bought out the place, and I’ve been integrating it into random dishes- eggs, pizza, stew, soup- as well as salads and…. Creamed spinach!!  I have no idea how you are supposed to make creamed spinach, but this is what I did and it. was. awesome.  I also did a chromatography experiment today with spinach.  I’ll share both recipes with you…
Screamed spinach
-1/2 pint of heavy cream
-1 ½ handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese
-1 tablespoon basil pesto
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 T olive oil
-4-5 handfuls of fresh spinach, ripped up
-salt and pepper, to taste
Oil sauce pan on medium- high heat.   Sweat onions and stir in pesto.  Pour in heavy cream, turn heat to high and let boil.  Before the cream boils over, lift the pot off of the heat and drop in cheese.  Return to medium heat and add salt and pepper.  Pile on the spinach and let wilt by mixing in.  Adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot!

Spinach chromatography
Rip up one spinach leaf and place in small jar with lid.  Cover leaf with rubbing alcohol.  Put jar in a hot water bath for a half hour, changing out the hot water when necessary.  The pigment in the spinach leaves will transfer to the alcohol.  Cut a strip of coffee filter and put one end in the alcohol and the other sticking up out of the jar.  The pigment will move up the coffee filter and the colors will separate according to size (largest will move the least).  Let separate for 30-90 minutes; the longer the separation, the better.  Measure and record the distances between the bottom of the strip and each band.  Now try with Swiss chard!

I actually didn’t have any rubbing alcohol, so I used Madeira wine.  It didn’t work quite as well, but I added some honey, spicy brown mustard, some olive oil, and some salt and pepper and it made a nice dressing for my spinach salad. Now THAT’S a salad that will warm you on a cold day!

19 January 2011

ropa vieja con pollo! old clothes with chicken!

Sooo... RJ is dying without red meat-laden Hispanic foods.  And then came the epiphany- substitute beef with chicken! Yes, yes, my great epiphany is chicken.  Go ahead and laugh.  When you're done laughing, check out this awesome recipe. Slow cook while you're at work, and have a gourmet meal on the table in 30 minutes for about $10. 
I'm pretty sure that ropa vieja got its name because old clothes are raggedy and torn.  It's not exactly the most appetizing name, but if you try not to translate it literally (haha try doing THAT now!) you'll be fine.  And once you've tasted this unbeef version of the dish, the word will take on a completely delicious meaning.   

old clothes with chicken!
For the slow cooker:
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
32 oz vegetable or chicken stock (I use mushroom stock for EVERYTHING)
2 Bay leaves
2 long squirts of spicy brown mustard
6 chicken breasts, cleaned

Plop it all in the slow cooker.  If you are going to be around, set it to high for 4 hours.  If you are going to work, set it to medium for 8 hours.  Or if you have a super cool slow cooker, set the timer to turn it off after 4 hours (I suggest the 4 hour method for extra juiciness). 
For the stove:
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1/2 green peppers
~2 cups of marinara
splash of white wine
splash of mojo criollo
big splash of apple cider vinegar
chiffonade of culantro (cUlantro, not a typo, not cilantro, it's a totally different herb)
slow-cooked chicken
salt and pepper

This would be the best time to start making some rice.  I use three cups of jasmine rice, three cups of water and a big dollop of margarine. Remember to wash your rice! Oil a deep saute pan or sauce pan at medium heat.  Add onions and sweat. uhhh sweat the onions, don't add any sweat to the mix... add peppers and cook through, about 5-7 minutes.  Pour in marinara and mix, push over to one side of the pan, as in picture.  Strain chicken, onions and peppers from the slow cooker and put in empty side of the pan.  With two forks, shred the chicken thoroughly.  Quickly mix the chicken in with the marinara mix and add mojo, vinegar, and wine.  Mix thoroughly and let cook down about 7 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with culantro.  Serve over rice! or wait until I post the black bean recipe and serve it with rice and black beans!

18 January 2011

I ♥ Pizza

Easy peasy pizza!

Friday night is pizza night! Since we are cutting out red meat, instead of having the usual ropa vieja and rice and beans, it's pizza and beer! The crust is almost the same recipe as the white mountain bread recipe (below) except the use of all purpose flour instead of bread flour and use the pizza crust yeast (little yellow packet).  After mixing, spread out the dough on a pan, spread marinara sauce (I like to make a big pot, portion and freeze it, but jar sauce will do!) add mozzarella, etc.  You can cook it right away, but I left it out for about 30 minutes and it rose just a bit, and the crust was extra crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. For RJ's half, I cut up some pepperoni; for my half, I sauteed some fresh spinach and mushrooms with some salt, pepper and olive oil.  Cook until crust is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes at 400°F. Serve hot with your favorite beer or mine- Magic Hat #9! Delish!

13 January 2011

Tomato chicken soup and grilled cheese!

Omigod. This was just what I needed.  There is nothing better than comfort food. You can't see him in the picture, but RJ was standing over the bowl asking "Is this mine?! Can I eat it now? Hurry up and take the picture!"

12 January 2011

Three meals for two for about $30 (total)

We are saving every penny possible for our house and wedding- clipping coupons, keeping up with on twitter, and getting creative with meals.  We refuse to eat garbage, but decided to cut out red meat for both savings and health.  With the economy the way it is, I thought it might be nice to share my great revelation.  I made THREE meals for about $30.  I bought a whole chicken ($5), a bag of potatoes ($5), a lemon, a can of sweet corn ($0.99), string beans ($2), carrots, celery, two onions, tomato sauce (two for one: $1.39), a bottle of mojo marinade($4), a cheap bottle of white wine, ($4), a bag of flour ($2), a packet of yeast ($0.99), a box of stock ($2) and a ready-made pie crust (coupon: 2 packs for $3.59).  I don’t know how much the other things are because I always keep a few lemons and limes for drinks and mirepoix in the fridge, but it’s not much.  Another way to save money and still make great food: always have the basics on hand and supplement with different meats, styles, and different seasonings.  A good investment is a spice rack.  I have a package deal from Costco- a rack with 18 different spices that cost $40.  If you buy spices individually at the supermarket, you will end up paying a lot more and have nowhere to store them. 
The first night we ate fall-off-the-bone roasted mojo lemon chicken, roasted carrots, and roasted garlic potatoes.  The second night we had chicken pot pie and mashed potatoes, and tonight is tomato-based chicken corn soup with grilled cheese on homemade bread.  NOT TOO SHABBY!  Here are the recipes for the major stuff- I’m sure you can smash cooked potatoes and boil string beans… You’ll have to excuse my poor excuse for recipes; I don’t use recipes and I don’t write anything down and it’s different every time.  If you have any questions, please just comment or message me. 
3-legged kitten!

Jill’s simple mojo lemon chicken

1 whole chicken- innards removed
1 bottle of mojo
1 lemon- rolled and cut in half, seeded
2 carrots, 2 celery sticks, ½ onion- chopped
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil

Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with vegetable oil.  Put carrots, celery, and onion in the pan.  Place chicken on top of the vegetables and squeeze lemon juice into cavity, then put the squeezed lemons into the cavity.  Pour mojo over the top of the chicken, salt and pepper liberally and put three pats of butter on top.  Cover and cook about 2.5-3 hours at 350°F.  Uncover and cook 20 minutes more for crispy skin.  Let rest, serve and enjoy, remember the wishbone!
"moooom, i think it's done!"

Jill’s simple chicken pot pie

Leftover chicken from above- deboned, torn up
Leftover gravy from above (if you ate it all because it was too delicious, substitute a can of gravy)
1 carrot, 1 celery stick, ½ onion- chopped
Splash of white wine (I used the wine with the foot on it- fine to drink if you’ve had a few)
Salt and pepper
1 egg yolk- stirred with some water
1 pie crust
Vegetable oil

Coat a high sided skillet (I use a cast iron pan) with vegetable oil on medium heat.  Brown carrots then sweat onions and finally add celery.  Sprinkle with thyme and cook two more minutes.  Take the time to smell the thyme.  Splash in some wine and cook down.  Tear up the chicken as you put it in the pan (about ¼ of the whole chicken – we ate ½ roasted, so ¼ for pot pies and ¼ for soup).  Pour in leftover gravy, canned gravy, a little stock and flour, or a bit of all three and cook down, stirring often, until desired consistency.  Load the filling into four ramekins or a casserole dish and cover with circles of pie dough large enough to cover the edges of the ramekin.  If you have any dough left, and if you loooove crust like we do, you can make little shapes or ropes with it and add it to the tops of the pies.  Brush with egg yolk mixture and poke some holes in the dough with a fork.  Place ramekins on sheet pan and bake until golden brown at 350°F.  Serve hot, but watch your tongue!

Jill’s simple tomato-based chicken corn soup
It’s snowing outside and I can’t wait to have soup and grilled cheese by the fire! 

Leftover chicken from above- shredded, torn up
1 carrot, 1 celery stick, ½ onion- chopped
Chili powder (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 can of sweet corn
32oz box of mushroom stock
½ cup or so of marinara sauce
Vegetable oil
Splash of cheap wine

Coat the bottom of a stock pot with vegetable oil over medium heat.  Brown carrots, sweat onion and sweat celery.  Sprinkle thyme and cook about two more minutes.  Splash in wine and cook down.  Add torn-up chicken and can of corn.  Stir in marinara sauce and cook one minute.  Add entire box of mushroom stock and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Add chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot!  With grilled cheese!

Jill’s rustic White Mountain bread
2+ cups bread flour
1 packet rapid rise yeast
3 packets of sugar (extras from dunkin donuts) - about 1 T
1T honey
1t salt
1+ cup water (warmed until bubbly in microwave)
Sea salt

Mix 2c flour, yeast, sugar and honey in mixer with dough hook or with a spoon in a bowl.  Add hot water and stir in.  NOW add salt and stir/mix at slow/medium speed.  Add flour along the sides of the bowl so that the ball comes together in a dough-like consistency.  Take out of bowl; knead on a floured surface a few times if using a mixer, about 3-5 min if you are doing it by hand.  Let rise in pan spray- coated bowl covered with a towel, about two hours.  Knead and shape into a loaf, slit top with knife, place in oiled baking pan.  Spray vegetable oil on top of loaf and sprinkle with sea salt and some extra flour.  Let rise in oven at 200°F until about doubled in size, then turn oven up to 400°F and bake until golden brown and crispy on the outside, about 20-30 minutes.  It may be a little hard when you first take it out, but it will soften as it cools.  Let cool before serving.  It’s so great for sandwiches, toast, and grilled cheese.  Yuuuuum.         

10 January 2011

When it rains it snows! My advice for jobseekers

Since we moved up here to Virginia, I had to leave my cushy university job and try- as a recent graduate- to find a job in this atrocious market.  When I wrote my resume, I was very excited about it; there was no way that I wouldn’t get a job!  I have experience, education, and great references!  Maybe a lot of people have the same credentials or maybe there really AREN’T any jobs.  Well, I know there are jobs because and say so.  So, my advice is to just flood the internet with your resume.  When you’ve applied to every job in your area, pick another state at random and start applying there.  I was applying responsibly for six months and nothing happened.  Then I started applying to random stuff, and suddenly I have four job offers this week (five if you include the one in Florida).  Truly, truly, when it rains, it pours.  But it is going to snow tomorrow and I’ve got They Might Be Giants on the brain, so…. When it rains, it snows.

07 January 2011

art ichokes!

My boyfriend and I recently moved to Virginia from Miami, FL for work.  The one thing that always annoyed me about Miami was the lack of history and culture.  Well, lack of American culture anyway.  So here in Virginia, thirty minutes from the nation’s capital, I’M IN HEAVEN!  The architecture alone could take me a lifetime to appreciate.  The families of the original settlers are still here!  I met someone whose family sold their farmland off over the years (100+ acres!!) and have a town named after them.  Best of all, not only do we NOT have to live in a stuffy high-rise condo that smells like old people and moth balls, but we’re going to buy a house with land! Actual land!! Like an acre or more! And a basement! Oh, how I’ve missed basements!  

So while looking for houses, I’ve been gathering furniture and d├ęcor whenever, wherever I find it.  I’m going for a Victorian, primitive, shabby chic, I-don’t-know-what look with scientific gadgets, clocks and crackle-painted wood.  Sounds weird, I guess; I’ll put some pictures up.  So here is a find I’d like to share because I’m just super stoked about it and I love promoting art and artists of all types… 

It is always a shame when a good book is damaged, especially if it is an early edition or an antique.  Etsy artists SteamBathFactory, BlackBaroque, and collageOrama, among others are using salvaged pages from ruined antique books as a unique background for prints ranging from Gray's anatomy engravings (the textbook, not the show), DaVinci sketches, and flying machines to Alice in Wonderland and sea monsters.  There is even a print of an artichoke on an 1877 edition of Julius Caesar.  Prices range from about $3-$10 per print, but paired with a shabby wooden frame, these works of art will become a focal point in any room for less than any other framed art that is worth looking at. 

Aside:  In ancient Greece, artichokes were attributed with the birthing of boys.  For ancient Romans, artichokes are an aphrodisiac and a delicacy.  For Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, who held a globe artichoke rather than an orb or globe in a portrait painted with her second husband, Charles Brandon, the artichoke symbolized a downgrade in her status.  Her first marriage, to French King Louis XII, designated her Queen of France, which she was referred to as until her death in 1533.  Her title as Brandon’s wife was never acknowledged, as she had married beneath her.  In her portrait, she holds the artichoke instead of a globe, as was typical in a coronation portrait, because her world, her reign, was much attenuated with the marriage to Brandon.  It is much the same as the story of Zeus and Cynara, the beautiful girl who became the first artichoke. 

Now, hopefully, artichokes can be displayed in the homes of the daring and random facts can be disseminated. 

06 January 2011

speaks for itself.

hello world!

this is the official wicked apps blog! my name is jill and i will be your hostess today. wicked apps is a freeware development company that deals mainly with signal processing and statistical differentiation for forensic purposes, but since i own the company, i figure that i'm allowed to write about whatever i please. and i plan to.  science, math, victorian gadgets, cooking, home decor... all fair game.  i'm also in the process of looking for a house and getting married, so i'll bore you with some of that, too.  and if something is especially boring, i'll throw in a cute picture of my kittens, stanley and carlos. enjoy! thanks for reading!