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What are some of your favorite kitchen tricks that you'd be hesitant to admit to foodies?

I use Better than Bouillon very frequently. Once in a while I'll make a big batch of my own chicken stock, but I just don't have enough space in my tiny studio apartment freezer to fit tons of stuff. I use my freezer more to file away the leftover finished products (soups, chili, etc.), frozen veggies, Trader Joe's potstickers, and ice cream. The chicken stock doesn't get that kind of priority.

What's for Dinner - #345 - the Winter Doldrums Already? Edition

I'm on that same neverending quest - every night I'm peeking in the crisper drawer to see what needs using, then combining with as many freezer and pantry ingredients as possible to make quick weeknight dinners. It's a bit like being a contestant on Chopped, only with no chance at a $10,000 reward.

Good luck on the CO!

What's for Dinner - #345 - the Winter Doldrums Already? Edition

A pasta bake with elbow macaroni and the leftover mixture of ground bison, spinach, kale, and tomatoes. Using up some odds and ends from the cheese drawer, so some crumbled feta and shredded cheddar mixed in, then topped with lots of parm. And trying to use up the last of this bag of russet potatoes, so making a baked potato soup with crumbled bacon, cheddar, and chopped parsley to serve alongside for toppings.

Signs that someone is a GOOD cook

I agree that a commitment to using up scraps and leftovers takes far more than reading this book (or any cookbook), but I found An Everlasting Meal to be thoughtfully written and it inspired me to be more conscious of my own food waste and gave me more ideas on how to repurpose ingredients, leftovers, etc. I don't think it's sucker-bait. I have read it several times and revisit sections of it when I'm feeling lackluster in the kitchen.

I also like that Tamar Adler provides some conventionally-written recipes scattered throughout the book, but more often than not, she describes food, ingredients, dishes, and techniques in a way that is not prescriptive but allows a home cook to use what is at hand to create delicious meals without relying on recipes.

What's for Dinner #344 - Happy MLK Day Edition! [through Jan. 21, 2015]

Tonight is a mishmash of items thrown together on the fly - ground bison, onions, and garlic cooked up together on the stovetop. Mixed in leftover sauteed spinach, thinly sliced purple kale, and canned crushed tomatoes. Eaten over a quinoa/brown rice mixture.

What's for Dinner #344 - Happy MLK Day Edition! [through Jan. 21, 2015]

Using leftover mushroom risotto to make some risotto cakes. Form into small patties, coat in breadcrumbs, shallow pan-fry. A light sprinkle of truffle salt and a shaving of parm-regg on top! Will be accompanied by leftover sauteed spinach and roasted cabbage wedges. I also have some green beans to use, so I might steam those and make a miso-sesame dressing to drizzle over.

OUCH! When do you replace your oven mitts?

I replaced mine several weeks ago and only because I accidentally left it on a hot burner (oops!) and it got badly singed. Fortunately I had just stepped over to the sink for a moment and realized it when I turned back around. Went to TJ Maxx the next day to pick up a new one, as well as several new potholders. The new ones have gotten stained rather quickly, but are doing fine at their main job.

Jan 09, 2015
calmossimo in Cookware

Trader Joe's YAY/MEH/NAY - January 2015

Those Biscoff lotus cookies are oh, so good though. I don't think I've actually tried the TJs version of either the cookies or the cookie butter. Biscoff spread is delish!

Jan 08, 2015
calmossimo in Chains

What are your home cooking goals for 2015?

I'm hoping to actually try canning this year. I do refrigerator jam and quick pickle random vegetables, but I have never done 'real' canning because it seems scary to me somehow.

I'm also scared of yeast - using it, that is, in breads, pastries, etc. Making more bread was in my 2014 goals but didn't get accomplished, so maybe 2015 will be my year for that as well.

What's for Dinner #342- The Return of the Polar Vortex Edition! [through Jan. 10, 2015]

Yum, that recipe looks great! I didn't see your suggestion by the time I was prepping the rest of the pork belly (turns out there were three slabs in my pack - one was roasted last night and turned out okay but not spectacular. The other two were cut into chunks and are in a marinade with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic, honey... and maybe some other stuff?).

Jan 08, 2015
calmossimo in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #342- The Return of the Polar Vortex Edition! [through Jan. 10, 2015]

I believe tonight will be some celery/dill soup (recipe from food52) for starters. I have two slabs of pork belly defrosting in my fridge and I've never made them before. I'll use one of them to make Chinese-style roast pork based on Rasa Malaysia's recipe here: http://rasamalaysia.com/chinese-roast.... It seems very simple and mostly hands-off, plus I have extra time to cook tonight since the bf won't be home until late. Will serve with some sauteed leafy greens and white rice.

The other slab of pork belly may become char siu tomorrow or Friday... I'm not sure yet. Any suggestions are welcome!

What's for Dinner #342- The Return of the Polar Vortex Edition! [through Jan. 10, 2015]

Ah, I made a red lentil/butternut squash soup recently and it was very good. I mixed up some additional spices (I think cumin and turmeric, coriander, cardamom, and dry mustard) to make it 'curried'. I had a huge batch so a few ziplocs of this went into the freezer.

Favorite Freezable Soups/Stews

Thanks for this recipe! I've never made gumbo either but would like to try my hand at it. I'll probably have to at least halve (or quarter) this recipe to make in my 6 qt enameled cast iron dutch oven.

Jan 07, 2015
calmossimo in Home Cooking

Trader Joe's YAY/MEH/NAY - January 2015

those truffle marcona almonds sound amazing! thanks for the rec. i'll have to pick some up next time i stop at TJs

Jan 05, 2015
calmossimo in Chains
1

Cookies, Cakes, and Breads with honey

I've also made the majestic and moist honey cake several times and it has always come out very moist indeed. I did have the same issue that Smitten Kitchen had, which was cakes that deflated after taking them out of the oven to cool (the leavener is off somehow) - although that made them less beautiful, they still tasted delicious and kept well on the counter for a while.

Dec 27, 2014
calmossimo in Home Cooking
1

What's for Dinner #340 - the Pre-Christmas Rush Edition [through December 29, 2014]

I hope it tastes good! I've never had it before, much less made it on my own, so I'm trusting a mashup of the recipes I found.

Once this is done, I'm also making another batch of oatmeal, chocolate chip, pecan cookies (from Smitten Kitchen's blog) to bring to Christmas Eve dinner at a friend's place. Might also make some chocolate saltine crack... because, you know, why not? Probably my fourth batch of each recipe so far this season.

What's for Dinner #340 - the Pre-Christmas Rush Edition [through December 29, 2014]

I was watching Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown this weekend and the Colombia episode showed caldo de costilla. After some quick googling, I decided this would be the best simple soup to make for tonight's dinner, with leftovers for tomorrow so I can concentrate on laundry/packing for the holidays instead of cooking tomorrow. I left work early today to go to the DMV (ugh) but now I have a pot of short ribs happily simmering away on the stove.

2014 in the kitchen: What were the best new things you made?

What recipe do you use for Biscoff cookies? I would love to give them a go in 2015!

Dec 20, 2014
calmossimo in Home Cooking

Trader Joe's YAY/MEH/NAY - December 2014 [OLD]

I use chips on mine and they melt perfectly well. I sprinkle them on as soon as I take the tray out of the oven, leave for five minutes, and then use a spatula or spreader to smooth out the chips and let set for a bit before adding flaky salt or slivered almonds or cocoa nibs. I agree with you that it always goes fast and cheap and easy to make tons for parties.

Dec 17, 2014
calmossimo in Chains
1

Liven up my cheese straws please!

Smitten Kitchen has a recipe for cheese straws that I thought looked good and easy enough, although I've never made them (her version or any other): http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/0...

Dec 17, 2014
calmossimo in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #339 -- The Advent Edition [through Dec. 21, 2014]

Probably a quick mapo tofu-type dish with steamed rice and veggies on the side - I'm not sure what type I picked up, but probably gai lan or yu choy or something similar. I think I will lightly steam them then a drizzle of sesame oil and/or oyster sauce.

What's for Dinner #339 -- The Advent Edition [through Dec. 21, 2014]

This weekend was mostly spent prepping items for Christmas packages that will be mailed out today and tomorrow - oatmeal, chocolate chip, pecan cookies, gingersnaps, chocolate caramel saltine crack, candied peanuts, and spiced mixed nuts. Not much in the way of real cooking, so went out for Vietnamese food last night and had com dac biet - easy, cheap, and filling - and I got to do a quick grocery run while waiting for the to-go order.

Tonight will be simple stuffed peppers with leftover spaghetti squash (I feel as though this single spaghetti squash will have leftovers until the end of time).

What's For Dinner #338 - Winter Wonderland Edition [through 12/14/14]

That's so gorgeous. What a lovely and thoughtful gift and way to provide a legacy of all those family recipes!

Super Easy Few Ingredient Holiday Cookies and Candy

I'm making all of these, along with a few other things (gingersnaps, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, TKOs, etc), but these are the ones with the fewest ingredients and the fastest prep.

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/01/...
http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/1...
http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/04/...
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ni...

Dec 13, 2014
calmossimo in Home Cooking
1

What's For Dinner #338 - Winter Wonderland Edition [through 12/14/14]

I made French Onion Soup last night before going to sleep so that will be dinner. I have some sliced baguette stashed in the freezer that I'll rub with garlic and pile on some shredded cheddar and mozz - it'll go under the broiler and get served alongside the soup. No gruyere, unfortunately, and no oven-proof soup bowls to do the real deal.

Leftover roasted spaghetti squash - I added some browned butter and sage and a light sprinkling of truffle salt.

I actually don't have much of an appetite right now because I had some dental work done this morning, but it does smell delicious and I'm pretty sure my partner will love it. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be able to truly enjoy the leftovers.

First Married Christmas

Smitten Kitchen's red wine chocolate cake for dessert!

Dec 09, 2014
calmossimo in Home Cooking

Trader Joe's YAY/MEH/NAY - December 2014 [OLD]

Yes, this is what I was going to say - the original Puffins remind me of the Quaker Corn Bran cereal. I love both! I enjoy the PB puffins both dry and with milk. I am a cereal addict, though.

Dec 06, 2014
calmossimo in Chains

Cumin

Whole or ground?

Madhur Jaffrey's lentils with garlic and onion calls for some whole cumin seeds:
http://www.recipeslib.com/ethnic/indi...

And this chickpea salad with cumin and garlic was tasty: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-spicy...

Ground, I use in a lot of soups and stews - chili, like others have said. In anything that calls for curry powder or needs a smokiness or warmth. In a black bean and corn salad.

Dec 06, 2014
calmossimo in Home Cooking
1

What is your favorite stovetop meal?

I'm planning to do a couple stovetop recipes this week.

Italian sausages with peppers and onions.

Crepes with whatever fillings I have on hand. Caramelized onions, cheese, spinach are usually around (that's what will be in mine this week). Crumbled bacon, diced ham, or shredded leftover chicken, if I have it. Bacon, corn, and cheddar are great together.

Curried red lentil soup.

Chicken adobo with chicken thighs and/or legs, black pepper, onions, bay leaf, soy sauce and vinegar. Maybe some garlic. Served over steamed rice. Use leftover rice to make fried rice the next day or the day after.

Ground pork, seasoned, broken up in a non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet in some oil until browned. Crack some eggs into a bowl, lightly beat with a fork, sprinkle some fish sauce and black pepper. Add eggs to skillet and make a stovetop frittata-type of thing. Eat over rice.

I often make stir fries when I have odds and ends to use up. Simple and fast stovetop meal.

Pasta skillet meals are fairly simple too.

Dec 06, 2014
calmossimo in Home Cooking

What's for dinner #336 -- The Thanksgiving 2014 Edition! [through 2 December 2014]

I ate most of the salumi and cheese then went to the laundry to move clothes into the dryer. When I got back, my pup was licking her chops and my plate was empty except she left the only grape on the plate (which is good since grapes are toxic to dogs). She did NOT look apologetic for eating my dinner.