Saturday, June 30, 2012

2 iPad Cooking Apps You Can't Live Without

Okay, so I am a big fan of my iPad. I would almost feel comfortable getting rid of several of my cook books because of the app. I won't, because I want a back up, but that is how much I love these apps. I'll go over the top 2 apps that I enjoy, and you can decide from there.

iPad Screenshot 1

Believe it or not, I have been using this site (and cook book) for a very long time. But, the iPad app simplifies the whole process. First, it has this AWESOME feature which allows you to gain inspiration, and it is literally called "Inspire Me."  First, you select the course, then the ingredient, method and time. If you've paid for the Pro App, you also get the option of Occasion and Cuisine. Here's where the inspiration comes in. The app starts filtering pictures down, almost tetris like. Ones that you are interested in, you can tap the picture, and it brings up a summary screen. From here, you can decide whether or not you want to read the recipe, find more like it, or review it later. 

The Allrecipes app also has a few nice if you purchase the pro version. First, a recipe box (bye bye hand written note cards). Also, a shopping list. I LOVE the shopping list, because I can quickly go through it, and check off things I already have, so that I don't buy it over and over, and have a concise, easy to access list of what I need from the store. If you're a last minute, short hour cook like me, who likes inspiration on the go, this is perfect. 

The final part of the app, which is cool, is the way the app walks you through the steps. After you've decided what you want to cook, you tap the "Start Cooking" button. This brings the app into horizontal view, so you need to be sure you have a stand. It has a built in timer, for easy access, and you can quicklky tap through the different steps, which in a long recipe is really useful. 

One downside I found for this app, is that it sometimes times out. and when that happens, the timer (for me at least) has quit working. Now, I just did a test, to see what would happen, and I tapped out of the app using the [] button at the bottom of the screen. Then I reopened the app. The timer did go down. And I also used the top button to shut the screen off, and it still worked. So, maybe it was a one time fluke. 

Overall, I give this app a big thumbs up as a necessary, late hour cook's app. 

Next up: Epicurious

iPad Screenshot 1

This app is nice. I don't have nearly as much to say about it as I do Allrecipes. One criticism I have, which I'm sure is up for debate, is the user interface (UI). The UI of epicurious seems to be slightly less friendly than AllRecipes. However, when I can't find something on AllRecipes, this is my back  up app. It has similar functions, such as the shopping list etc, which unlike AllRecipes, is free, but in order to sync your recipe box (from your computer perhaps?) you have to pay $1.99 for it.
This short hour cook's preference is allrecipes, but this is an excellent contender, and one that I still use. 

Ok, at this point, I bet you're slightly disappointed in my over zealous review of Allrecipes, and the lack luster review of epicurious. I guess, I'm biased. But these are two iPad apps that if you haven't checked out, you definitely should. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Food (and persons) in Kitchen Unity

Undoubtedly, if you follow me on FB, then you have probably seen the majority of these pictures. However, I did want to share one final recipe, which I found from one of my favorite sites,

Josh is responsible for a good portion of this dish, but one of my favorite parts about this meal was the unity which was experienced in the kitchen. No, I'm not talking about my relationship (which I could, because that was very obvious also), but rather the unity which was experienced with the food.

The chicken was seasoned (by Josh) and pan seared until cooked. Mean while, I began prepping the sauce--which paled in comparison to the work Josh put in, as well as began prepping the other food. Melting butter, unfortunately, doesn't take a lot of skill. Finally, the chicken was complete. The fragrance was amazing, a combination of dill, garlic, and of course, chicken.

The sauce so simple, it is almost sad to discuss. Or at least, the recipe presented it as such. Josh suggested I deglaze the pan with a splash of wine (a suggestion, for which I would have been resentful of for not thinking of it myself, except I was just reaching the fridge for the wine when he said it). This was a GOOD decision. The deglazing of the pan picked up all of the extra bits of flavor left over from the chicken. Then, it was time to add the cream (whisk, whisk, whisk!), and finally the capers.

At this point, the meal had just come together. The couscous finished within 30 seconds of the plating of the chicken, and the artichokes followed.

You can find the original recipe here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another Mad Hungry Recipe: Busy-Day Chocolate Cake

As mentioned in previous posts, I am slightly obsessed with Lucinda Scala Quinn, who does the cooking show Mad Hungry on the Hallmark Channel. And, even though I no longer have TV, I have still found her blog, and recipes useful.

Here is one of her recipes which is just amazing, the Busy-Day Chocolate Cake.
This is such a great cake, and so simple. Plus, are you a vegan, or out of eggs? No problem. This cake uses a nifty combination of vinegar and baking soda as opposed to eggs! Just add a fantastic frosting, which a quick google can easily find for you, and you're all set. This cake takes about an hour start to finish, but it is so worth it. 

Lucinda even mixes hers in the same pan she bakes the cake in--though, when you are making round cakes, it is a little more difficult. For this one, I actually split the batter (which I mixed in a bowl) into two cake pans (so I didn't have to try and cut it later), then I did a layer of the home made frosting in between the two cakes. 

The Amazing Milk Shake Sucker Upper Machine

While visiting a dear friend in Rifle, CO, we went to one of the nicest 7/11s I've EVER been to. I kid you not, this was the elite of 7/11s, with a decent pizza parlor (at least it smelled good), a wide array of beverages, and the CLEANEST bathrooms I have ever seen.

Yes, it was awesome. But, this is a cooking blog, so why am I describing this 7/11?

This would be the reason:

I call it, the Amazing Milk Shake Sucker Upper Machine, because, it does just that. You take a cup from the freezer (not pictured, but to the right) which has the ingredients. Then, you take the lid off, (very important) and put it at the bottom of the machine (above the control panel, below the touch screen). You use the giant touch screen to select the thickness of your milkshake, and press the button. The machine sucks up your cup, and within 30 seconds, spits it back out. You then have an amazing, creamy (and extremely delicious) milk shake. So, I hope you all take a trip to the 7/11 in Rifle, CO for the Amazing Milk Shake Sucker Upper Machine, and enjoy it as much as I did. 

Copy Catting: A friend inspired return to the blog

It's been a while since my last post. And to be frank, it's for good reason. I have been cooking still, but on a slightly more regular basis (and not at the small hours of the night). So, to counteract my absence, I am going to post several things at once.

First, a brief discussion about my absence. On April 5th, I met Joshua Larson. And since then, I have been in a very happy relationship with this wonderful man. That really doesn't explain my absence (I know you are wondering, what were you doing before April 5th, 2012, seeing as your last post was May 5th of 2011?)  Well, I'll tell you briefly. During the summer of 2011, I was in class. During the fall, I was also in class, and I also began seeing clients. In the spring of 2012, I was ... never mind, lets just leave it as unhappy until April. :) 

Now, onto the food. 

One of the better things about being in a relationship, is your cooking time seems to be regularized. I won't give you every single meal I cooked for the past year, because frankly, that would be boring. I am, however, going to highlight some great ones... as soon as my pictures are uploaded.

We start with a Lemon Roasted Chicken. 

This is a recipe from my eldest sister, Stephanie. And, to be quite honest, it is simply AMAZING, and wonderfully simple to prepare. Essentially, it is a whole chicken, salt and pepper, 2 lemons and an herb blend which you can pick up in your local grocery store. I'm not going to post the recipe, but if you are interested, let me know. 

The highlight of this meal, is the fresh, tender, and yet a slight crisp on the chicken's skin which is lemony, and succulent. I added a side of couscous, and a fresh salad to the meal, along with a gravy made from the drippings, and a couple tablespoons of white wine. I was able to do this meal for under $20.00 (including the wine), and Josh and I both agree it is a keeper.  Plus, the left overs make great sandwiches, or can be used in other recipes which require chicken. 

Next up: a Ghiradelli Chocolate Mousse 

Ok, this is pretty simple to describe. Can you picture the most tasty dessert in the world? This is it. If you like chocolate. The mousse has a wonderful texture, and the extra couple dollars for the Ghiradelli chocolate morsels is totally worth it. I spent about $15.00 for ingredients, but made it last, by cutting the recipe down from 8 to 4. I made it twice over the next two weeks, once for Josh's birthday, and then again for a special couple's treat the next week. You can find this recipe at (I hope you're going there NOW.)

Finally, Avocado Eggs in a Basket ... 

Josh and I were inspired by The Next Iron Chef and decided to try our own version of one of their meals.  This picture is a little difficult to decipher, but the only thing you need to know is, it was worth it. Since I feel I have changed a good 30% of this recipe from Food Network's version, and since I didn't really use a recipe, I will give you one of my own. 

This is for 2 people:

2 avocados, pitted, and sliced horizontally so that the pit hole is visible (the "basket")
4 eggs
Seasonings to taste (I put lots of garlic on Josh's, and I seasoned my own with some cayenne). 
Cheese of choice (optional) 

Heat the oven to 325. Drizzle an oven safe pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Place avocado slices in a large, oven safe pan. Delicately, crack the eggs into the pan, so that the yoke sits in the avocado pit's hole (the "basket"). Season eggs. If desired, add cheese. Place in oven until eggs are to desired setness (ours were in for about 10-15 minutes). 

Well, that just about brings you up-to-date, and has showcased a small amount of my adventures in cooking. 

Until later, 
The Small Hour Cook