Foodie

I don’t just eat to live, I live to eat.

~See Lemons Eat

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[30 Day Challenge] Turkey Lurkey, I Love You

seelemonsonline : December 1, 2013 6:14 pm : 30 Day challenges, Foodie

Random Observation/Comment #388: I love the feeling of hosting a fun party where people loved the food and ended the night fully satisfied. I just wish there were less dishes to do.

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Recipe: Making Turkey Lurkey, Gravy, and Stuffing

DSC_0900 The recipe I used for the turkey was the one I saw on Gordon Ramsey’s show.  I had a few months this year where I spent every day going through his ultimate cooking course on youtube, where I learned to add lemon zest to everything and speak with a British accent and say “mmm.. beautiful” whenever I think I’m doing something right.  This time, I put the recipe together exactly as listed except I added some stuffing to fill the rest of the turkey to keep the cut onion and garlic from coming out.

The stuffing was made from butter, chopped onions, diced celery, a bag of stuffing mix, and 3 1/3 cups of water.  I decided to use the stuffing mix because I totally forgot to buy bread ahead of time and make it stale.  I added more salt, garlic, and fresh pepper for seasoning and stuffed everything into the turkey. The gravy I made followed what my brother did earlier in the week. He minced all the giblets and random stuff included with the raw turkey and then heated it up on low heat. Once cooked, he added some gravy mix. I added some of the bottom juices from the turkey as it sat the 45 minutes for cooling.

As for timing, it took about 1.5 hours to prepare the turkey, 15 minutes in 410 degrees F heat, 2.5 hours in 355 degrees F heat with basting, and 45 minutes to sit and have the juices sink in. I started making gravy, extra stuffing, and mashed potatoes after the turkey was finished.

Lessons Learned:

  •  The parsley, garlic, lemon butter is the most amazing thing ever. I love the combination of flavors and I actually used the leftovers of this mixture for my mashed potatoes. It was brilliant.
  • When the recipe says cover the turkey with butter, really spend the extra 5 minutes slathering it on thick. I loosened all of the skin and stuck little pieces of butter wherever I could.
  • Season generously. It’s always good to have extra parsley. I think the extra green color makes the whole thing look more healthy
  • Definitely cover the top with bacon. Holy crap, that was the best idea ever and I’m so glad I did it. The bacon that comes from those 3 hours of baking is amazing. I wish I put more around the legs and in every other area possible. I think I just like bacon.
  • Add another half of garlic into the center of the turkey. I think it adds the extra flavor to the juices and gravy
  • Basting is a must! Invest in the baster so you don’t need to do what I did (which involved moving the turkey out of the pot and pouring out the juices, so I could move the turkey back in and pour the juices over it)
  • Definitely let the turkey sit the whole time. It may get slightly cold, but the hotter gravy will heat it up and cold turkey is freaking awesome. The extra time sitting will have it stay moist.
  • Don’t get a turkey that’s too big or else it won’t cook as evenly. I had a 12lbs turkey and I thought that was perfect in size for 9 people.
  • Always have extra stuffing. That stuff is amazing.

Final Thoughts:

DSC_0967I was pleasantly surprised at how moist this turkey recipe came out. I think the one I made last year was dry and terrible in comparison. It must have been those 3 sticks of butter I jammed into the inside of the turkey and constant basting that kept it all moist and buttery the whole time. Moral of the story – fat makes everything taste better.

Secondly, the timing around the preparation of the turkey dinner is as important as the skill of cooking the meal. It’s extremely important to prepare in an order where all the food stays warm. I would definitely do the gravy last and keep it piping hot since it is the main source of heat to warm up the turkey and mashed potatoes.

Lastly, proportioning when cooking for family and friends on Thanksgiving is never an issue. It’s a given that there will be leftovers and that those leftovers will be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next week. Remember to check that you have Tupperware to store all this food and room in the fridge before you start making more than you can handle.  Side note: There’s never more mashed potatoes than I can handle.

What a wonderful series of Turkey day dinners. Happy Thanksgivikah!

~See Lemons Eat all the Turkey

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[30 Day Challenge] Something with Curry

seelemonsonline : November 26, 2013 9:31 pm : 30 Day challenges, Foodie, Just Life

Random Observation/Comment #387: I don’t know what it is about curry, but it’s something next to mashed potatoes that I’ll always want to eat. Oh man, I should make curry mashed potatoes.

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Recipe: Something with curry – Curried cauliflower

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I erred on the side of caution with this recipe because I didn’t want to make anything too over-powering. Because we had a larger portions and I had no milk, we did two cans of cream of chicken, a little bit of mayo, the cocoya paste, a generous helping of curry powder, and some brussel sprouts (because, why not?).  After steaming to the right texture, I threw everything into a pan and baked it for 30 minutes. Really simple and easy recipe.

Lessons Learned:

  •  The cream of chicken soup really adds that extra smoothness to it and works really well with the curry taste
  • I think my mixture was way too thick, so next time I’ll be sure to buy some milk instead of using the coconut substitute.
  • At the last part of the recipe, it recommended adding some crushed wheat thins. I don’t know how, but these got soggy and didn’t really add to the taste. I thought they’d be like the crunchies you add to the mac and cheese to make it more awesome, but I was disappointed. Maybe it’s because I didn’t use a casserole dish.
  • Use a casserole dish. It will probably help cook everything faster.
  • Brussel sprouts were a nice little add. I’ll be sure to incorporate it again next time.

Final Thoughts:

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This is an easy go-to recipe for large groups. I wouldn’t want to eat this by itself or even pairing with one other thing, but when you’re having a buffet, I think a bit of curried persuasion doesn’t hurt the cause.

~See Lemons Eat Curried Cauliflower

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[30 Day Challenge] Something with Venison

seelemonsonline : November 25, 2013 8:00 am : 30 Day challenges, Foodie

Random Observation/Comment #386: People say venison is gamy, but that’s probably because they’re eating frozen, thawed, and refrozen venison. The fresh stuff is just like a steak.

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Recipe: Something with Venison – Venison Stroganov

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When my parents gave me a package of venison to bring to my brother’s, I looked up a couple of recipes that I thought would be pretty good. What I wound up doing, as with all my meals, is make something up. First, I thawed the venison and cut it against the grain into little bite sized chunks. Next, I marinated it with salt, pepper, flour, garlic powder, and some of the leftover curry powder and cream of chicken soup from the curried cauliflower recipe.  Next, I used some butter to cook up some diced onions. Then I threw in the meat to sear on high heat for about 3 minutes.  Lastly, I added in the tomato paste, coconut milk, and a bit of salt to taste.

Lessons Learned:

  • Do not overcook the venison. I was already smart enough to turn off the heat when it was medium so it would cook the rest of the way while waiting to be served.
  • Definitely eat venison cooked in this manner while freshly hot. It probably does not go well when reheated because the meat becomes chewy. The first few taste tests with the venison were excellent because it maintained the moisture and tasted like steak.
  • Always add diced onions and a bit of garlic before adding the venison. I think the extra water from sweating the onions gave the venison some extra flavor and kept it from getting too tough.
  • Coconut milk was such a great idea. The tomato paste by itself would have been too thick and red. I was inspired to add this from the chicken tikka masala lessons learned.

Final Thoughts:

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I didn’t think I’d like the venison cut in chunks. To be honest, this was very experimental from the beginning because I’ve never made venison before. Fortunately, the cooking gods smiled upon me and brought forth a very tasty concoction. The sauce was the right amount of tangy and the meat didn’t have a gamy taste to it at all.  Next time, I’m going to try to make a teriyaki-based sauce to it and cook it a little bit less.

~See Lemons Eat Venison

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[30 Day Challenge] Epic Thanksgiving Events

seelemonsonline : November 22, 2013 8:55 pm : 30 Day challenges, Foodie

Random Observation/Comment #385: Doing this cooking challenge makes me appreciate my mom and her food so much more. She’s been doing a 30 YEAR cooking challenge. Now, that’s amazing.

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I’m about 3 weeks into the challenge, and I’m actually really happy I’ve come this far. Moving forward, there are a few big events that I would like to cook for, so I’ll devote my cooking energy into those events instead of posting daily:

I know what you’re thinking. And, yes, I will probably not survive eating turkey 4 times this year, but I’ll surely die happy and full.  I’ll be posting in the same manner as before, but it’ll take some time to get it all out there.

Next step after that would be updating all the allrecipe recipes with photos, comments, and feedback. Shortly after, the month of December will be devoted to the very exciting 30 day exercise challenge with Bianca.

~See Lemons Cook A Lot More

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[30 Day Challenge] Something Sweet

seelemonsonline : November 21, 2013 7:46 am : 30 Day challenges, Foodie

Random Observation/Comment #384: I’ve never been a big fan of sweets. I’m more of a savory kinda guy anyway. Plus, baking means I need to follow the recipe exactly, which feels much more like chemistry than art.

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Recipe: Something sweet – honey cupcakes

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Honey cupcakes use a lot of honey. We bought the good stuff form a farm near New Paltz and used up all of it for the batter and cream cheese frosting. There’s really not much room to stray from the recipe, so we decided to put teddy grams on top of the frosting to make it “Winnie the Pooh” themed. Naturally, I reconstructed epic battle scenes between teddy bear tribes. Then I ate them. I won.

Lessons Learned:

  •  Follow the recipe. It’s delicious.
  • Do not over-fill the cupcake cups. Only fill them 2/3 the way up because it will rise. The first rack of 6 were experimental and overflowed. This makes it brittle and hard to take out without breaking.
  • Definitely use an electric beater to make the frosting. This will take out all the clumps and give you that fluffy, creamy texture from the cream cheese. Yum.
  • Put the teddy grams last (before you serve them). I stood them up on their feet and during transportation, they fell off or broke.
  • Be generous with the frosting. There’s never enough frosting.

Final Thoughts:

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Make this with your significant other! Baking is a great time to bond over stories and take flattering photos like the one above. It’s also great to start nothing fights, but hopefully that doesn’t come up over measuring cups of honey… Anyway, I had a wonderful time every step of the way. I think this is one of the best reasons to cook.

~See Lemons Eat Honey Cupcakes

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[30 Day Challenge] Something Fun to Make

seelemonsonline : November 20, 2013 11:57 pm : 30 Day challenges, Foodie

Random Observation/Comment #383: “Okonomi” means “whatever you like” and “yaki” means “fried”, so I just fried everything I like. What a great idea.

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Recipe: Something fun to make – Okonomiyaki

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The only part I followed from the recipe was measuring out the mixture of flour, chicken stock, and eggs. I wanted to make sure to get the texture correct, but everything else was up to whatever I could find at the grocery store that looked good. In this case, I added cabbage, green onions, carrots, jalapeno, salami, and zucchini. I sliced all the vegetables thinly and threw them into a bowl. I fried it on a regular pan and made sure to add some toasted sesame oil and covered. 4 minutes on each side worked well.

Lessons Learned:

  • Bring your creativity juices together and add anything you can slice thinly. Experiment with this and make sure the tastes come together. I chose a slightly spicier theme with the salami and jalapeno peppers.
  • Be sure to keep he mixture thick and cover the pan when your’e cooking the okonomiyaki. I also would try to make it thicker.
  • If you’re making this on a frying pan, you will need to at one point flip it over to the other side. Doing this with a spatula is pretty difficult without breaking, so you’ll need to learn how to flip with the flick of your wrist. If you’re doing it on a flat grill, you can control the size of the okonomiyaki better.
  • While cooking, use a squeeze bottle to add more oil if you’re afraid it will stick after flipping. It will definitely steam up the place.

Final Thoughts:

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I am pleasantly surprised at how well this turned out. The pancake experiment was quite savory and really delicious. There are so many other things I want to try to throw into this, but next time, I will probably follow the old school Japanese recipe. This whole cooking experiment just made me miss Japan 10 times more than I already do. Anyone up for a trip?

~See Lemons Eat Okonomiyaki

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[30 Day Challenge] Something New

seelemonsonline : November 19, 2013 8:59 pm : 30 Day challenges, Foodie

Random Observation/Comment #381: Making a salad isn’t exactly cooking, but I’m combining this with making garlic bread, which required some time in the oven. DSC_0121 Recipe: Something new

DSC_0964 This recipe for salad with garlic bread croutons was made up on the spot to go with the baked ziti. I added thinly sliced cucumber and some lettuce with lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, sugar, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. The shrimp was already made as cocktails so I decided to eat it separately. Croutons were basically garlic bread crushed into little pieces. The baguette was cut in half and covered with butter, crushed garlic, oil, red pepper flakes, and some oregano. I cut it diagonally afterwards and it crumbled, so I decided to throw it into the salad. Genius!

Lessons Learned:

  • Throw whatever you want into a salad. My salad had spaghetti in it (inside joke).
  • Slice things thinly or in bite sized portions for easy munching
  • Make the salad dressing separately. Add a little bit of sugar to balance out the sour and tart from the lemon.
  • Make the garlic bread extra crispy to make better croutons.

Final Thoughts:

DSC_0027 I think I just like to eat cucumbers with salad dressing. Maybe it’s just the salad dressing. A little bit of green does go a long way, as I learned when in Brazil. It was probably a good idea to have some of this in my challenge.

 

~See Lemons Eat Salad with Garlic Bread

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[30 Day Challenge] Something Italian

seelemonsonline : November 18, 2013 9:38 pm : 30 Day challenges, Foodie

Random Observation/Comment #380: I feel like everything Italian I eat today reminds me of visiting my aunt in Pennsylvania. Since I had Chinese food made by my mom every night, other cuisines are a pretty good treat.

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Recipe: Something Italian – Baked Ziti

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Once again, I adjusted the recipe, but I think for the better. I used extra ricotta cheese with the tomato sauce and added some cut up sausage. Remember to cook the sausage on a hot skillet first and cut into pieces. I used a disposable aluminum tray because I was way too lazy to wash. Parmesan cheese is a must.

Lessons Learned:

  •  Add extra ricotta cheese because it really does taste amazing together. They’re like mashed potatoes and anything.
  • Cook the sausage thoroughly before putting it in the oven. The oven will not really cook it that much more, so it’s better to be on the safe side. It’s hard to tell if the center is pink if the whole thing is covered with tomato sauce.
  • Add extra cheese. Cheese makes everything taste better.
  • Don’t forget to speak with a fake Italian accent when you’re making this.
  • Lastly, don’t cook this around Italians because they will hound you about the recipe.

Final Thoughts:

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I followed my gf’s advice and the baked ziti came out amazing. I really like this dish because you can prepare it the night before and then throw it into the oven 30 minutes before dinner time. As I’m putting together the end of this challenge, I think I’m going to make this again for Thanksgiving dinner. Surprise: Thanksgiving dinner is going to be part of the challenge.

~See Lemons Eat Baked Ziti

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[30 Day Challenge] Something Amazing

seelemonsonline : November 17, 2013 8:03 am : 30 Day challenges, Foodie

Random Observation/Comment #379: I love mashed potatoes. It’s become a bit of an obsession that I’ve controlled over the years. When it’s Thanksgiving, I eat it like a maniac and mix it with everything possible. That’s my exception day.

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Recipe: Something amazing – Garlic mashed potatoes

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I made a fairly simple mashed potatoes, but as mentioned in the last post with oxtail soup, I used the soup broth as the boiling water for the potatoes. The flavor from the oxtail and carrots definitely had some effect. I used a ricer (bought from Ikea) to make sure the consistency was creamy, and I also left the skin on for some of the potatoes so it would have some hard consistency. Of course, some heavy cream, butter, and love was added to the mix.

 

 

Lessons Learned:

  •  The ricer is absolutely key if you don’t have a beater. I think the creamy texture is best achieved by not over-boiling the potatoes (or else there’s too much water leftover), but rather squeezed from the ricer.
  • Don’t skin the potatoes all the way. The extra skin makes the mashed potatoes look more authentic and I think it adds to the taste.
  • Salt to taste from the pot while boiling the potatoes, and add the butter and milk mixture to consistency. I don’t measure these, but rather add small amounts and keep mixing until I get the right taste and texture
  • I miss my Goo Jerng’s famous gravy. I still don’t know the full recipe, so I guess it will be lost forever. I’m not even going to try to replicate it.

Final Thoughts:

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Notice the difference in bowl size. I will distribute generously to my friends, but I’m totally going to lick the bowl. Other recipes are much appreciated! Please message me if you have your own and I will try it. I tend to have my mashed potatoes like some people have their ketchup. I like mashed potatoes on my mashed potatoes mixed with everything possible.

~See Lemons Eat Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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[30 Day Challenge] Something Soupy

seelemonsonline : November 16, 2013 9:53 pm : 30 Day challenges, Foodie

Random Observation/Comment #378: Oxtail sounds really gross, but there’s quite a lot of meat on it, and when you make soup with it, the bone thickens the broth and brings the taste to a whole new level.

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Recipe: Something soupy – oxtail soup

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I did not follow the recipe from allrecipes because I’ve made this soup at least 20 times. I altered it slightly based on the groceries available and for the first time tried something new with combining the products of multiple dishes.  As you may have noticed, I don’t cook every day – instead, I may make 2 or 3 things for a group meal. In this case, I was back at the apartment and wanted to make the oxtail soup (because it’s rampantly available where I live in Harlem), and I wanted to make mashed potatoes with the rest of the bag.  What I did here that turned out amazing was use some of the soup to boil the potatoes for the mashed potatoes. Once they were soft enough, I strained the water back into the soup to add the extra starch from the potatoes. The potatoes then had a bit of the meat/vegetable broth in it and the soup became much thicker.

Lessons Learned:

  •  If you’re making multiple meals (which you usually would with soup), I would consider using the broth for the cooking process of the other items. This could work for pasta, potatoes, rice, etc. The soup could then be placed back into the main stock.
  • Oxtail and maybe even the vegetables can be placed on a hot wok/skillet to brown the outside before throwing it into the pot. Be sure to marinate it generously.
  • I added some egg noodles to the final product so that we’d have more to eat on top of the potatoes and carrots. This was a great idea, but made the soup a little too thick. Next time, I’d definitely cook them separately and add them in on the side.
  • Don’t be afraid to play around with the flavors. The oxtail will make an excellent broth and if you cook it for around 2.5 hours, it will be tender enough.  For better results, I’d suggest transferring to a crock pot and boil overnight.

Final Thoughts:

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The additions of the egg noodle and outstanding results of the mashed potatoes (that I’ll post about tomorrow) made this an incredibly successful dinner. I never realized that there could be another dimension of commonality when cooking because I often cooked one recipe at a time. This encourages me to revisit cooking combinations of foods as meals.  If you’re uncomfortable with using oxtail, any bone will do – it’ll really add the extra meaty flavor that comes out when you add salt and pepper.

~See Lemons Eat Oxtail Soupy

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