Homemade Sushi

Again my sister in law braved the strange foods and helped me get over my fears of sushi making too.
We gathered the supplies: nori (seaweed) wrappers, sushi rice, sushi vinegar and spices, and several sushi fillings.

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I will admit that the firsf three rolls I made I refused to take a pictures of. They were that bad.
Which brings us to common mistakes #1: overfilling nori with rice and other fillings. Results include not enough to wrap and seal roll and/or ingredients busting out the ends.

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After getting a good tight roll, I discoverd common mistake #2: Learning a gentle hand and cutting with a sharp knife. This is what ruins most of my rolls. I squeezed the rolls too hard or the knife would mash instead of cut.

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I tried making a rice on the outside roll. They were extremely difficult for me because it was harder to slice into the nori after the knife got sticky from the rice.

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By the end of the evening I had eaten a lot of mistakes and had some yummy lumpy rolls to eat.
Recently, I tried making sushi for a lunch my house. Kit can be odd about non-steak-&-taters meals so I was worried at first. He loved it!

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These are traditional sushi rolls with raw fish. I had to consider my budget when making this lunch. The fillings for my sushi were canned flakey crab and cream cheese. I took canned tiny shrimp and marinated them in lime juice, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. The result was a spicy shrimp roll. The ginger was perfecto.

Which leads me to my final sushi making tip and the best advice we heard from the dozens of youtube videos we watched. Give yourself a break. The best way to make good sushi is keep trying. It proves itself too, my second attempt at making sushi for Kit and me was a huge sucess. I had to eater fewer dud rolls than the first time.
Can’t wait to try different ingredients and give it another whirl.

Have you ever tried sushi making at home?
Have any tried and true tips you want to share?

It Takes a Village

ymcalogoIn this case it doesn’t take a village of people to raise a child, but a community to help me get fit. My mum was reading my blog and noticed me mention I wanted to get in shape in the new year.

My biggest issues are starting a routine and to be held accountable for working out. It is very, very easy for me to talk myself out of going to the gym or doing some sit ups. It is much easier to put a kettle on for a cup of tea.

So my mom is sponsoring me at the local YMCA.  She added me to her membership plan–Just so long as I use it. Which I fully intend to do!
I don’t so much have a plan yet or a routine. I’m trying to figure out which machines I prefer, the times I can go and when certain classes are being held.

So far, I am really enjoying the general vibe of the gym. There are people like me that are out of shape and just doing their best. There are also folks there that are already in shape and are extremely friendly. That is not something I felt when I went to my university gym. It is nice to think others are happy you are trying rather than trying to show you up or boot you out.

Today makes day three of my membership and day three in a row I will have gone to the gym. So far my plan is working because each time I go I have a buddy to come with me–I am being held accountable for showing up. My mom is an old pro and goes either swimming or lifting about everyday. My arm muscles are sore today from lifting yesterday. Love it and I can’t wait to lift some more on Monday.

Once I settle on a routine I am hoping to incorporate swimming, toning with the weight machines, cardio on the elliptical. I am keen to get into the zumba and yoga classes. Everyone tells me that the spinning classes are done, but I’m still not entirely convinced. I will try.

So can I get some likes to keep it up?
I promise not to share every single detail of my workouts, but if I reach some milestones I’ll share, or if need some encouragement it would be wonderful to find some here from my readers. Besides, over-sharing is for Facebook. I can’t promise I won’t share a gym selfie. hehehe.

Supper: Pot Pie & Eggnog Cookies

stove recipe  boxSeveral years ago, my mother in law gave to me and my husband a cute box of recipes belonging to Kit’s Aunt.
I have browsed through it but never took the time to pull out a recipe and collect up the ingredients. There are some from magazines and some from memories long ago. Getting into the season of epic cooking, I took another look through the recipe box and have decided to try and pull one or two recipes out a month and give them a whirl. I would love to do one each week, but knowing me, I will fail at it if I make promises.

open recipe boxIsn’t that recipe box just darling?

So, what have I chosen for my first tester recipe? Eggnog cookies. I never knew such a thing existed, but I’m excited to try it. The chicken pot pie is a recipe that I found online. Apparently, I never wrote down the recipe that I used for last year’s pies. I have a stellar crust recipe and I know the veggies and chicken are just keep throwing it in until you run out of room. However, broths and gravies always make me a little nervous. Seasoning and consistency mostly. The recipe I chose to follow is one I found through Pinterest and the source is Instructables. I love that website and had no idea they had Instructable recipes. I can’t vouch for the recipe as a whole, but if you use recipes as a guideline then it will be perfect for you too. Here is the link to the chicken pot pie Instructable recipe.
I plan on adding broccoli, carrots, onions, garlic, mushrooms, squash and whatever other veggie I can find to the pot pie. I plan on serving the pot pie with fresh spinach salad. A nice crunch to go with all that chickeny goodness.eggnog cookies recipe card

Apparently Eggnog Cookies are just a Google search away. How have I never heard of them before? I’m kinda pumped because from the recipe it looks as like an amped up, more flavorful version of sugar cookies.
I can tell ya right now, that I will be increasing the amount of cinnamon. Much like garlic, they don’t list enough on recipes.

Hubbster and I had the great debate trying to decide if we wanted to try Eggnog cookies or Oatmeal cake. Oatmeal cake looks dead easy so it will be on the menu sometime soon. This aunt loved her cakes and pies, that is most of the contents of the recipe box. There are some savory recipes, some sides and several pickle recipes that we will have to try next summer too.

Have you ever made eggnog cookies before?
Do you have a go-to recipe for pot pie or do you mix up the veggies each time?

The Process of Making a Recipe

People are constantly begging for my secret, Where on earth do you find these amazing recipes, Kat! Or, Gee, your cooking is the greatest, Mrs. Clark.
Honestly, no one says that, but in my head that is what it translates to when people compliment my cooking.

So here is that process I have to making a recipe. My methods are not unique, but do typically yield good results. It begins with me finding an ingredient, hearing people talk about or getting exposed to a food via media and it the gears start turning.

I have been thinking about pumpkin soup all summer because I have tons of cans of pumpkin in my cabinet and a co-worker mentioned that he really loves making pumpkin soup. Especially as the weather has gotten colder.

I started searching the Internetz for recipes that sounded good to me and almost immediately, had an unhappy realization. Almost all of the soup recipes I found had quite a bit of broth. Kit prefers a chunky soup, so I knew that a watery soups would mean I would have to eat the whole pot.

After pinning a few recipes I liked I started thinking and ultimately chose quinoa. It is filled with good proteins, has a good texture and soaks up liquids quite well. Quinoa and savory pumpkin sounds amazing to me. I also like the idea that I could adapt a recipe to having vegetable broth and make it for my veggie-saurus brother.

The trickiest thing about soups are that if you want a certain result of liquid you have to start with the right amount of liquid. Or suffer the cycle of doom where you keep adding things until it gives or you give….And end up with double the amount of soup you intended.

Under closer inspection of the recipes I found some similarities and pulled all the ingredients I knew we would love. I pulled ingredients from this Coconut Curry Pumpkin soup recipe I found on all recipes and a crock pot Chicken Quinoa-Pumpkin soup that I found on a personal blog.

That’s basically the process. The next step, of course, is making it on a night that I will not burst into tears if I have to order a pizza and dump it out. However, that isn’t so hard because I usually enjoy trying a new recipe.

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Here is the Pumpkin Quinoa soup recipe that I came up with:
Warning: I have not tried this yet, but am looking forward to it mid-week. I will post an update to let you know what changes I made to the recipe below.

Ingredients
1 sweet onion, chopped2 TBSP garlic to taste (I never measure this)
2 TBSP olive oil (never measure)
1 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1 can pure pumpkin (15 oz)
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa

Toppings–Sour cream, or grated cheese (parm) and chopped fresh spinach.

Optional–potatoes, carrots, celery, cooked chicken.

Directions
Saute onions, garlic and spices in olive oil until translucent.
Add broth, coconut milk, pumpkin, diced tomatoes and quinoa. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat the low and cook until quinoa pops open and liquid is absorbed.

Because I haven’t used this recipe before I’m not sure if three or two cups of chicken broth is more appropriate. I think for most people that three cups would be fine, but knowing that we like thicker or stew-like soups we should probably go for less. I already have a feel too, that I will want more pumpkin.

I’m really debating if I want more stuff in my soup. I usually have carrots and celery on hand to fill out a soup, if necessary. Chicken would be good, but it shouldn’t be a main player in the soup. I feel like the chicken would try to steal the show, when really, it is more about the creamy pumpkin soup.

After actually trying the recipe, Kit and I will sit down with our bowls or plates and eat for about five minutes before we start the deconstruction. What spices did you use? Are the flavors mellowed together? If you could change one thing to make this better, what would you do? And so on. We don’t place blame on the cook if the food isn’t perfect, but rather, figure out if we should try it again, tweak it, or keep it exactly the same. I love, love, love this part of our relationship. Not only can we cook and hang out in the kitchen together, but we make a game out of the recipes. Perhaps, like a friendly panel of judges on Iron Chef.

What process do you use when you’re trying to find new recipes to add to your regulars?

Do you ever follow the recipe exactly as you found it?

Day 325: Mooor Beer

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Drank the rest of my special six pack. A beer with dinner is such a lovely thing. I cannot wait for summer. I want to eat a greasy burger or sloppy hot dog and have an ice cold beer. Ah’Murica!

Whew, that chickory stout was stout! Kit picked it out because he was interested in the flavor. You know how coffee is used in chickory? The flavor reminded me a bit of coffee. I enjoyed it a lot more than Full Circle beer. It was more bitter than flavorful.

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The agave wheat beer wasn’t quite what I imagined. It wheat flavor was definitely present but somehow I expected a sweet kick from the agave. It was damn near chewy beer. Hah ha!

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My favorite of the bunch was Kinda Blue. I would get this one again. It wasn’t a strong blueberry flavor, but it was much lighter than the other beers I tried.

Now that I am out of beer….I want mooor! Before 2011 I wouldn’t touch beer. However, if you go out with friends and they want to split a pitcher then you put away dreams of expensive cutie cocktails.

Day 323: Beer Trial

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I tried the mix and match a six pack that my favorite liquor store offered. Turns out it wasn’t so much a deal, rather I purchased each bottle individually.

I’m glad I tried it once. I typically like lagers, but I want to expand my tastes. Even though I haven’t found a new favorite beer, I have enjoyed tasting beers.

I have a bad habit of not going outside of my comfort zone and picking beer based on their label artwork. I also chose books this way and yes, it I flawed.

I think I need another beer. . .

Day 309: Not-So Orange

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A late night post for an unimpressive dinner.

The broccoli covered in butter and yeast was the best part.

The wild rice from a box must have been triple salted in the factory (yuck!).

The not-so Orange Chicken recipe was a new one and what a dud.
I found it on pinterest and should have known there was too Mich spysauce.
Despite being too salty, it was also surprisingly bland….I don’t know how I managed that.

Kit is a trooper. He took it for lunch the next day.