• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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    I've been getting a lot of requests and suggestions for the apartment kitchen. I LOVE these suggestions, keep them coming!

    If you have anything you'd like me to consider (recipes to develop, shortcuts for recipes, great ingredients, or even blog formatting), shoot me an email and let me know!


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Spicy Ground Pork over Sauteed Scallions (“Ants on a Log”)

I’ll be heading home to Kansas this weekend to spend my first Thanksgiving in four years with my wonderful family. I’m loving the fact that my neice and nephew finally understand the concept of time so we can tell them “Aunt Erin will be home next weekend” and they get it. So this weekend, I was video-chatting with them (gotta love technology), and my neice asked “What are you eating?” – she could see my plate on the edge of the screen. I told her I’m eating a favorite Asian dish that’s called “Ants on a Log”. Her face crinkled up (she probably assumed I was eating real ants), but I heard my nephew bust in from the next room. “I KNOW WHAT THAT IS!!!!!!!!! ERIN! I KNOW WHAT THAT IS!” He was out of breath from excitement, and my dad was giggling in the background. “Celery and peanut butter! Are you eating celery and peanut butter?!?!?!?”

I said yes to prevent myself from falling out of my chair laughing, but in actuality this is a delicious main course and has nothing to do with peanut butter. I got the idea from one of my favorite cookbooks. The first time I made this dish for Matt, he gobbled it up in no time…and then proceeded to ask for it…constantly. I had no real qualms with this – it’s incredibly easy and very fast, great for a quick lunch or weeknight supper. The flavors are great, and I can mix it up by adding rice, my favorite scallion pancakes, or other veggies into the pork mixture. The problem is, I just don’t like to make the same things over and over again. Why? Because of you, my lovely readers! But Matt came into the kitchen hautily one day and informed me that I’d never put this recipe on my blog. Ha! He thwarted the system, and I made it again.

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Quick Wonton Soup

I don’t (generally speaking) order a lot of take out. Ordering take out is sort of a special occasion for me. When I am too busy to cook, which is almost never, I have to admit it is fun to not only let someone else do the cooking for you, but bring it to your door as well.

Recent cravings for Chinese take out soup led me to this incredibly easy recipe. It may not be quite the same as your local take out joint, and it is certainly not traditional, but it was inspired by having several assorted cans of broth and not being sure what to do. I sort of “fortified” the broths with scallions, garlic, and ginger – and the mixture of the three broths was quite delicious and tasted fabulous with my standard wonton/dumpling filling. So, I’m calling it “Quick Wonton Soup”. Sure, it takes a little while to form the wontons, but the opening the can part couldn’t be easier. 🙂

Crispy Pork Eggrolls

Matt and I love dumplings, primarily because they are one food that are wonderful when cooked using one of our favorite methods: steaming. I also love to make my own dumplings with fresh dough, but we were feeling lazy one Sunday, and stood in the aisle looking down at pre-made thin wonton wrappers. But in one guilty moment, the idea of frying our normally healthy dumplings simultaneously popped into both of our minds. We looked up at eachother, and tossed some eggroll wrappers in our cart. What can I say? Sometimes fried is just better.

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Mongolian Beef

If you are a steak lover, if you are a Chinese (yes, take out!) lover, if you are lover of all things too easy and good to be true – you MUST make this dish.

Perhaps I’m coming off a little strong, but I had no idea this dish would turn out so incredibly good with such a minimal ingredient list and almost no time. This is how fast you can make this dish: I didn’t have air conditioning in my house over the weekend, so Matt and I took refuge in the basement, where it was at least 10 degrees cooler. Every time we emerged onto the main floor, we nearly passed out. He sliced the meat, I prepared the sauce, and we were back downstairs in less than 10 minutes, enjoying this awesomely simple meal.

Ok, I’ve gushed enough…just try it!

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While Matt is a very willing and accepting taste tester, I like to use nights when I’m by myself to try new things or things that don’t quite meet his criteria. He’ll eat almost anything, but he definitely prefers a big slab of meat in the center of the plate. On nights when I’m on my own, I often opt for vegetarian or super-light dishes…like this awesome Okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake made with vegetables. I got a basic recipe from Kevin at Closet Cooking, though I made a few tweaks – added different veggies (you can really use anything you need to use up) and added a tasty dipping sauce. It was quick, comforting, and used up a lot of veggies that were about to go bad! It was so good, I might have to reconsider and make this for Matt!

Vegetarian Ramen

I think I was about 14 when I first saw Tampopo, a Japanese “noodle Western” about a “cowboy” (truck driver) who helps a woman turn around her formerly unsuccessful noodle shop. The truly remarkable thing about this movie is it actually says a lot about the importance of food in Japanese culture. I became fascinated, as well as endlessly amused by it. Still today, I remember the scene where the old man teaches an eager young student the correct way to eat a bowl of ramen. I don’t follow his instruction, but I do love ramen, and today was the kind of rainy day that was just perfect for it.

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Creamy Coconut Stir Fry

div>Matt and I rarely argue about food. We rarely argue at all, but he certainly (and most faithfully) eats whatever I plan to make. But yesterday he was in the mood for steak, and I was craving a Thai-inspired dish. So we did something we don’t normally do, we entered the store and later, the kitchen, divided. He made his steak, and I made a stir fry with crisp veggies and creamy coconut rice. Coconut water is something I love to use – it adds incredible coconut flavor without any fat, unlike coconut milk (another favorite ingredient). In the end, he cut me off a piece of his steak, and helped himself to a heaping spoonful of the rice. Because even when we do argue about food, it doesn’t change the fact that we’re hungry for more.

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