A Nerd Girl's Perspective

My Thoughts on News, Politics, Food, Crafting, Geek Culture, Sociology, and Much More —— Courtney C Horne

Tag: recipe

Build Your Own… Greens

I know for a lot of people kitchen improvisation is intimidating. A friend of mine had an experience during which she tried to improvise cooking carrots. She massively over-seasoned and then started adding all sorts of weird stuff in a desperate bid to salvage them. The result was evidently disgusting but she had cooked all her carrots in the process so she ended up eating them anyways.

The lesson she learned (hopefully) is taste often and you can always add more but you can’t unsalt. But even with that valuable lesson, making things up in the kitchen is something she is terrified of attempting.

I, on the other hand, am a bit of a kitchen maverick. I use recipes on occasion but a lot of what I do is altered or just plain made up. But I can understand why that is not something most people are willing to do. It requires a foundation of understanding the principles of cooking as well as what flavor profiles go together.

Step one to learning to improvise in the kitchen? Watch every episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats. My entire foundation in the kitchen came from watching him. Of course, that would take a long time so here is something you can do while you get started.

There are a lot of basic dishes that you can build upon to experiment with different options. One of my favorite basics is greens. And it is a special one for me to give you my basic formula for because I was scared to cook them for years after a disastrous thanksgiving pot of greens.

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Playing Fast and Loose with Ingredients: My Sorta Gazpacho

This week my produce box contained four large cucumbers. I didn’t really feel like (or have much time for) making pickles and so I turned to my other use for bountiful cucumbers- Gazpacho!

Rather than just go with the cucumber, herb, yogurt blender version I made last time, I decided to get a little inventive and use up a squash and bell pepper I had hanging around from last week. Here is what I came up with:

Sorta Gazpacho

Recipe follows:

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Courtneys Teaching Courtneys- Braised Beef (plus cookies)

Tonight was our third class in which this Courtney teaches another Courtney to cook! (Plus game night- see my Carcassonne related short post)

For today, we cooked braised beef in red wine with veggies and rice. We also made chocolate chip cookies. Details (and pictures) follow.

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Fried Biscuit Balls with Sweet Sauce

I love canned biscuit dough. Not the fancy flaky stuff or the pre-buttered type or those giant mega biscuits. Just simple small buttermilk biscuits. 10 to a can. Sold with 4 cans together.

That stuff is one of the best things to have on hand in the fridge. There are a ton of different things you can turn it into. Plus if you keep eggs on hand it means you can have eggs and biscuits at any moment. I use it for spontaneous egg desires too. But even more so I use it to transform it into other things. Cheese biscuits, tiny donuts, mini pizza things, stuff it with jam, stuff bacon into it… there are a lot of options. Today I am sharing my recipe for one of them.

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Mascarpone Shortbread Cookies With Fruit and/or Chocolate

I made a new type of shortbread cookie tonight involving mascarpone. Well actually two variations. They turned out tasty but the texture was different than the orange chamomile shortbread cookies.  Crispier and chewier. Less crumbly. Not bad different but the texture change was notable. Recipe and photo follows.

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Orange Chamomile Shortbread Cookies

Our Whole Foods recently added a cookie bar. They have some delicious shortbread cookies in a wide range of varieties. Problem is that they are $9.99 a pound. Which means the 5 cookies I got cost 2.60ish.

It made me realize I needed to learn to make shortbread cookies. I looked at a bunch of recipes online and came across this one. Lemon rosemary shortbread cookies. Pretty simple recipe, easy to follow. I decided to change it up some though and made it into Orange Chamomile Shortbread Cookies instead.

Here is the recipe after I changed it.

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Capicola Ham Wrapped Tilapia

For dinner tonight I made tilapia with capicola ham. Basically I took tilapia fillets and put some Italian seasoning on them using a Italian herb and spices grinder. I sat them on some capicola ham, layered like fish scales. On the top I put another layer of ham- also fish scale style.

I cooked them for a few minutes. Flipped. Added butter. Cooked a few more minutes.

Then I did each side under the broiler until the ham crisped up some and the fish was cooked through.

We ate it with a boxed pasta side that we happened to get on clearance at target, lemony pasta.

It turned out very tasty. It kept the fish really moist which is a problem I have with tilapia a lot. The ham crisped up nicely in parts to add some texture but it was inconsistent. I think that if I make it again I may sear the ham in a hot pan instead of under a broiler for better crisping and to form a better crust (for lack of a better word) on the fish. Plus I think it would make a neater look than the broiling method.

Tilapia with Capicola Ham