Thursday, December 15, 2011

Crockpot pasta meat sauce with a twist

Ok, so I know what you're thinking: "ANOTHER pasta sauce recipe!?" because of course, we all have enough pasta sauce recipes in our closet!

But hear me out!!!

1-You won't have to keep going to check up on it
2-There is a twist that will give your pasta sauce a whole new depth.
3-No cleanup to do for splatters on the counter!!!

Seriously, if you have a crockpot, DO IT!

DO IT NOW!!!!! Ok, maybe not right now because for all I know, you're reading this in bed on your laptop at 1am while your significant other is snoring away on the left side of the bed. But do it when the sun is up because you won't regret it. You will have enough to freeze and the kids will ask for seconds (And I say this so firmly because I've got proof. Picky-eaters proof!)

So, what's the twist? Ha-ha, very funny, it's not squirrel meat! (Although, those little cute furry punks who dig up our back yard are really asking for it....)

It's fish sauce. Oh, don't make that face, it's really not attractive. That's the same face my better half made when I first talked about cooking with fish sauce. Then he tasted the sauce I made the first time and hasn't stopped eating it since. Didn't even leave me when he found out what I put in it! LOL!

It's really quite quick to prep. The only part that takes more time is cooking the beef. So let's get to it!

Tramie's pasta meat sauce with a twist:
(serves... a lot...)
  • 2 pounds extra lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes n the juice, 796ml / 28oz each
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes, 796ml / 28oz
  • 4-6 tbsp fish sauce (to taste)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 branches of fresh oregano, washed 
  • 2-3 branches of fresh parsley, washed, discard stems and mince
Cook the ground beef with the garlic in a skillet over high heat. Draining the fat is optional. I don't :) Let it cool down.

Pour the 3 cans of tomatoes into your crockpot. Blend thoroughly with a handheld blender (Or in a blender and then put them in the crockpot.

Add the fish sauce. Now, this is important: I don't actually measure the exact amount, this is totally eyeballed. So add and taste slowly. It doesn't have to be salty right away, remember, you can always add more after.

Then add in the meat and the rest of the herbs. Set your crockpot on low for 6 hours.

Now go finish up your holidays shopping, because THAT will not do itself.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hugs & kisses cookies

I'm having one of those times, you know... bloggers' block. I've literally been twiddling my thumbs for days now to come up with something interesting to say, and I've got nothing. Nada. Niente.


Good thing the pictures speak for themselves, *PHEW!*

 XOXO or Tic-tac-toe, they all taste delightful!!!

I've seen these checkerboard cookies for years, and have meant to make them for a while, but well, pretty much procrastinated til now. They're the type of cookies that you make for people you really REALLY love (Yes, keep reminding yourself of the love when you're kneading, rolling and cutting the dough, it will all be worth it in the end, LOL!!! )

Lemon sugar cookies:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon oil (omit if you don't have any)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
Cream butter and add sugar. Blend in egg, lemon juice, lemon oil, salt and flour. Roll dough into a block or ball and chill until firm.

Chocolate sugar cookies:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
Cream butter and add sugar. Blend in egg, vanilla, salt, cocoa powder and flour. Roll dough into a block or ball and chill until firm.

When you're ready, roll the two dough out to your desired thickness (I went with an approximate of 1/2 inch thick) Baking Obsession made a really great diagram of how to stack the dough strips to make the cookies, so I'm not gonna sketch the same one because hers is already too awesome.

I will though, make one to show you another method if you want the quick checkerboard version instead :) (without the wrapping on the outside) The red lines are cut lines. After step two, refrigerate the block again until firm before moving onto step three.

Of course, if you lose patience with all the rolling, measuring, cutting, re-refrigerate, etc, just bring out your favorite cookie cutters and skip all the steps...

Once the cookies are all cut, put them back in the fridge, on a lined baking tray until firm again. Heat oven to 375*F and bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. They shouldn't brown :) (Well, I'm talking about the lemon part obviously!)

Pour yourself a glass of milk, sit back and enjoy the goodies. I really like the contrast of the lemon against the chocolate and I hope you will too. Happy baking and share these hugs and kisses ;) 

Monday, November 21, 2011

THE best cinnamon chocolate chip cookies


There are tons of recipes out there for the best chocolate chip cookies and I don't claim to have tried them all, but the ones that I have, were always missing one thing or another. The one thing that they all had in common, was that they WOULD NOT FLATTEN! The pictures would show so, but not the result!!! *sigh*

Now, don't get me wrong, the taste was never an issue, but for me, the perfect chocolate chip cookie means a flat yummy buttery chocolatey cookie that is crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside.


It's important that the cookies are flat. NOT by me flattening them before baking, no no! Flat, by melting and spreading all on their own.

Well, THESE cookies are. They spread and flattened all on their own like the big cool kids do. And they are GOO-OO-OO-OOD!!!!! *drool*

Make them, I PROMISE you, scout honor, that this is the last recipe that you'll ever need.

Chocolate cinnamon chip cookies (makes 46 three-inches cookies)
(from original recipe of The Silver Palate)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) softened butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips    
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips (I used Hershey's) 

Heat oven to 350 degrees & line your cookie sheet with parchment papers or use a silpat if you have. Cream butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Sift dry ingredients together and stir in, mixing thoroughly. Add chocolate chips & cinnamon chips to batter and form cookies by using a small scoop. I used one of 1 & 1/2 inch diameter.

Make sure to space them out on the sheet. About 2-3 inches between them. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Let cool on sheet before transferring them onto rack to cool completely.  

Share them or not, I won't tell ;) Enjoy!!! 


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Martha's Savory Fall stew

Did you know that the word "fall" might actually have everything to do with the fact that things fall during the season? Really!!!! And oh boy, do they fall, EVER, all puns intented!!!!!*sigh*

Fall is pretty, but like everything else, it has its ups and downs. And lately, it's been just the perfect excuse for indulging in comfort food. So bring on the squash and let's get it going!!! Such beautiful shades of orange, red and yellow everywhere. I love them on and off the trees. And, in my cooking pots. Such colorful goodness in the belly... Fall Harvest here I come! (Thanks to Martha)

Savory Fall stew
Martha Stewart Living, November 1996 - serve 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces hot Italian sausage, cut into small chunks (I used half spicy & half mild)
  • 12 cipollini onions (pearl onions can be substituted), peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock, skimmed of fat
  • 1/2-ounce bundle of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano
  • 2 1/2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch-long sticks
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (I omit this for lack of, at the store)
  • 12 brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sausage, and cook, stirring until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Remove sausage with slotted spoon, and set aside. (It will break into small pieces during cooking)

Discard all but 2 tablespoons rendered fat, then raise heat to medium high, add onions, and cook, stirring, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and herbs; simmer over medium heat until liquid starts to thicken, 20 to 25 minutes. Add sausage, squash, carrots, parsnips, and fennel; cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add brussels sprouts, and cook, covered, about 5 minutes more. Remove cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens, 10 to 15 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

It tastes best shared with good company, so you can cook this a few hours ahead of your dinner party (I doubled the recipe for 8-10 servings) and then put the pot on low heat to keep warm for about 30 minutes before serving. In fact, we had leftover several days later and it was just as delicious.

Chase away your autumn blues and welcome the fall festive :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Heisenberg" salad dressing

Don't let the image of this simpleton fool you... The dressing on it, will make you addicted to salads.
Now, I do realize that is quite a statement to make, but I'm just THAT confident. 

Make this and you will thank me!

(For those of you who are wondering who Heisenberg is and why does he have anything to do with my salad, it's a TV series I've just started watching, and there is top notch crystal meth involved... I'm not promoting drugs, I'm just saying the salad dressing is addictive like meth... not that I would know what that is like LOL!!! But you get the point! *exhale*)

Very simple:
  • 1 part soy sauce
  • 2 parts balsamic vinegar
  • 4 parts olive oil
  • a bunch of mint leaves, washed and chopped thinly (a good 10-15 leaves for every 1/4 cup of dressing)
  • french shallots, minced (one small one for every 1/4 cup of dressing)
Mix everything together until well blended and let sit for 15 minutes or so.

Assemble you salad mix and make sure you add fresh Italian parsley (I made mine simple: lettuce, chopped tomatoes and parsley)

Toss salad with a few spoons of dressing (mix it well before) Let sit for another 15 minutes or so. Now, see??? It's frigging delicious!!!!!

P.S: I ate that whole bowl for dinner. I still want more.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Get a free cooking app!

Smartphones are IT these days. We can play games, video chat, listen to music, MAKE music, etc all on the same little device. I mean, I never would have thought that when I was a kid. Oof, "thinking"? Never mind thinking, there is probably an app for that now anyway ;)

If your app hunger involves delicious mouth watering recipes that make you want to roll up your sleeves and pop into the kitchen to show off your inner chef, check out Trufflehead who came out with an awesome app for cooking. If you are like me, when seeing is believing, watch for yourself :) You won't be disappointed.

Months ago when I came back from my trip to Asia (where I ate and ate my days away in Vietnam) I was completely in withdrawal with food, Trufflehead's red Thai curry with cauliflower and tofu was the first recipe I wanted to make after weeks in cooking hiatus

...Plus, a crockpot recipe is always a plus when your day is filled with running around, just saying.... (Other than going to Chinatown for the Thai basil, everything else is available at any grocery store. If you don’t have access to Thai basil, you can just use the “other” one. All you have to do is wash, chop, pour, stir and wait. All the prepping took about 30 minutes, and cooking time is 3 hours)

So dear beloved readers, Trufflehead is giving away TWO free download for their app. This offer is good for ONE WEEK, so hurry up and email with Tramie's Kitchen in the subject line. The first two to do so, will get a code to download the ap.

Good luck and enjoy the freebie!!!! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ginger syrup

I like ginger, in food, in tea, in candies, but I was never a fan of Ginger Ale. I find the taste is too subtle. Basically not worth my tummy space and so, it remains one of the things I never even look at in grocery stores.
Now, that's all changed. Forever. Thanks to one of my favorite bloggers, Joy the Baker, who led me to discover ginger syrup.

(P.S: Thanks Joy!!! I would really love to hang out with you one day and watch you cook/bake while rambling away about your life. LOL!!!!)

I kid you not, it's frigging delicious!!!! My better half promptly declared that I have ruined store-bought ginger ale for him. And he loves ginger, not just the red-haired sexy ladies, but everything ginger, so he is pretty much the best critic there is beside myself.

No, there is nothing left for me to say but GO MAKE IT, if you are a ginger lover. I refuse to try to convince you any further. See for yourself how easy it is to make it:

Ginger Syrup:
( from Betty Fraser and Denise DeCarlo, owners of Grub)
makes 2 cups of syrup

2 cups unpeeled, washed, fresh ginger, roughly chopped
2 cups sugar
6 cups water

Process ginger chunks in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Place in a large stock pot (I couldn't find the blade for my food processor, so I placed the roughly chopped ginger into the pot with about 2 cups of the water, and used a handheld blender to mince it) Add sugar and water to the pot and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for one hour until a rich syrup is created. Strain the syrup twice through cheese cloth or a sieve into a large jar or bottle. Refrigerate.
Get yourself some tonic or soda water. Pour about 2-3 Tbsp of syrup for each cup of soda, or according to your taste. Add some ice. Squeeze in some lime if you have. Add some mint if you're feeling trendy and enjoy!!!!!

See? What did I tell you??? SO. AWESOME.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Halloween party ideas

TWO WEEKS ago, I was speechless to see Halloween decorations already out in many stores and ready for purchase. It was August! Either they take them out earlier every year or I'm really in denial about how fall is near. I mean, can you really blame me? No amount of BBQ, wine tasting, wedding vow renewal parties, are ever enough. Don;t get me wrong, I love Halloween. But it's just that closer to winter is all...

Well, if you can't beat them, join them I guess.... *sigh*

The lovely Jennifer at Decorating Ideas has a page up and it is full of fun dessert ideas for your coming up Halloween parties, one of which, is yours truly; an idea that totally came from an accident. So head on over there and have some fun preparing your goodies for a scary feast.

While you wait, enjoy some of my newest creations. They are partly responsible for my absent the passed few months on here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Home-made parmesan pizza crust

As I sat there having pancakes topped with sliced bananas and maple syrup this morning, a little voice whispered in my head: "Make pizza!" and that was it, I was weak and I followed the command.

It's a total mystery to me how my mind works sometimes... 

Of course, having lack of the right ingredients is part of this schizophrenic food-driven problem of mine. Fortunately, because of all the cakes and things that I make, flour is definitely always just an arm's length away. The only things I used for these pizza that I'm somewhat ashamed to admit are the hot dogs. Yes, you heard me, hot dogs (Sometimes, wrapping hot dogs in cheese and tortilla bread and baking them for a few minutes in the oven could save your sanity on a Friday night with two hyper hungry little girls. Thus, I had three leftover jumbo hot dogs)

*sigh* you're judging me... I know it! But you know what, that's okay, because these pizza were delicious!!!


Make them.

Even if you only have hot dogs. In fact, make them margherita pizza for that matter! Obviously, I was lucky to have frozen a small tub of tomato sauce just days ago, so that helped the situation.

But really! MAKE THEM! It's so fast if you have these essentials on hand. So, if you have a yummy tomato sauce and some shredded cheese sitting in the fridge, here is the recipe for the pizza crust

Perfect Parmesan Pizza Dough, courtesy of Kraft
(makes four 12" crust)
  • 5 cups flour, divided
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. quick-rise instant yeast (1 1/4 tsp and 1 tsp of sugar if you only have active dry yeast)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
***If you only have active dry yeast, take 1/4 cup of the water and heat it in a small bowl in the microwave for about 15 seconds, or until 100*F, then mix in the yeast and the sugar. Use that in place of the yeast listed in the instruction.
Mix 4 cups flour, parmesan, yeast and salt in large bowl. Add water and oil; stir until soft dough forms. Knead dough about 5 min. or until smooth and elastic then slowly add remaining flour .
Cut dough into 4 pieces. Spray each piece with cooking spray if you have, I just left them as is. Cover the dough pieces loosely with plastic wrap let stand 15 min. or so.

Once everything is ready, heat the oven to 450*F. Stretch each piece of dough out to fit a 12" pizza pan (or just free style it like I did LOL!) Top with your favorite tomato sauce and toppings and bake for about 18 minutes.

Then, devour. Like we did.

I topped all of them, but only baked two and I froze the rest, well wrapped. For rainy days, they will come in handy... That is, if we can resist them until then ;)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Beef & potato curry

I realize that for a couple of times a year, I disappear from this blog for a while. This is usually due to a trip which is always closely followed  by a travel withdrawal. It takes a little bit of time before I can break that bubble and come back to "real" life.

When real life is -20 to -30 degrees celsius, it's very hard to want to get back to.... *sigh*

Anyhow, cold weather calls for comfort food, and I've been cooking curry a lot lately because it's easy, fast and I can make a big batch for the whole week.

Beef curry

(serves 8-10)
  • few dashes of olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 3 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 3 Tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp curry paste
  • about 1 kilo or more of stewing beef cubes.
  • 3 big potatoes, cubed
  • about 2-3 Cups of beef broth
  • a couple pinches of salt
Heat the oil in a 5L pot over medium low and throw in the onions & garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes, then throw in the cumin and coriander until fragrant.

Mix in the ginger, curry powder, turmeric powder, paprika and curry paste, stir all to blend well .

Turn heat to medium high and toss in the meat and potatoes. Stir everything around to coat, followed by the broth. Cook until bubble, then turn heat down to low, put on the lid and let simmer for about an hour or until beef is tender.

Serve with rice or naan bread if available.