Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not Cook N, but I would like 2 B : Mochi Ice Cream


Tried Mochi ice cream for the first time the other night and my mouth has been watering for it ever since.

I had heard of Mochi ice cream but I didn't know what it was. I assumed it was just Japanese ice cream. The box called to me at Trader Joe's on several occaisions, but I resisted, unaware of the awesomeness that I was so nonchalant in rejecting.

Fast forward to girl's night on Friday....

Really cool bimonthly book exchange at a girlfriend's home. We clear our bookshelves of whatever books we don't want, tote them to the book exchange party and come home with a bunch of other new books that other guests didn't want. We also drink wine and eat good food while discussing books we liked, didn't like...and other girl stuff.

One of the guests showed up with two kinds of mochi ice cream- green tea and mango. Mochi ice cream is a ball of ice cream that is wrapped in a smooth sweet dough made from rice flour and sugar and eggs. When you bite into one you get sweet and soft doughy dumpling and cool, ice cream goodness. I had one of each flavor - and I wanted more, but I didn't want to be rude.

The beauty of Mochi Ice Cream is that there is only about 100 calories per dumpling and about 4 grams of fat. (I don't know if "dumpling" is the correct term but they seem like a sort of dumpling to me.)

Trader Joe's carries these, and I have heard that they are offered in many sushi or Japanese restaurants. Try them...and invite me over when you do!

I would like to find a recipe. I may have to experiment a bit with this. While the dough seems fairly straight-forward from the list of ingredients, the ice cream seems a bit over preserved -lots of chemicals I would prefer to avoid. I will let you know as soon as I come up with a homemade version (or if you can send me one...I would be very appreciative!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cook N Breakfast: Maple Nut Granola

I have been promising Simon that I would make some homemade granola for a while now. This month's Martha Stewart Food magazine has a great recipe for a lower fat, maple syrup sweetened granola that fit the bill.

I am a big fan of Fage Greek yogurt. If you haven't tried this yet, you must! It is available at Trader Joe's and I am seeing it in more and more stores lately. I think this granola will accompany that nicely.

Maple Nut Granola

3.5 cups of rolled oats
1/4 c of chopped pecans
1/4 c of chopped almonds
5 t canola oil
5T real maple syrup*
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Spread onto rimmed ungreased cookie sheet and place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through cooking.

Cool completely before serving.

*real maple syrup tastes 10000x better than the imitation "mrs butterworth" or "log cabin" varieties that contain high fructose corn syrup. If you have never tried the real stuff, I encourage you to do this. It is a healthy alternative sweetener .

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bake N: ANZAC Muffins (American Princess Style)

Once upon a time (around Christmas), an American Princess was visiting her in-laws in a far off land....

Great gifts were bestowed upon this lucky princess on Christmas morning, but no gift was quite so appreciated as the Muffin cookbook that was given to her by the Queen (the mum of her handsome and incredibly charming prince...*heavy sigh)

The American Princess and her beloved "Muffin Cookbook"

The muffin cookbook was special for several reasons. Both the American Princess and Prince Charming had endured a full week of being criticized by the Queen for being overweight and certainly on the brink of diabetes. This book would serve as ammo should the subject of their American diets and overeating chance to rear its ugly head again during the remainder of their visit (nevermind the arsenal of mince pies, brandy cream, two Christmas dinners, sausage rolls, pork pies, Christmas pudding, cheese board and tins of quality street chocolates that had been thrust upon them since their arrival)..they both thought muffins were spectacular little treats...and, well, you only have to give the American Princess a cookbook to make her happy.

On the way home...down the M6, across the pond and up the I405...the American Princess came across this little recipe in her Muffin cookbook and decided that she must try it as soon as her very busy schedule allowed it: ANZAC Muffins

You will recall that back in September, I mean...the American Princess....baked a batch of ANZAC biscuits for her dear sweet little Jake-a-roo. Check here for that recipe.

ANZAC biscuits are a favorite of Prince Charming too. He had surgery on Friday and has been laid up this week. He is improving- we just need to adjust his attitude a little. I can't think of a better way to do that, than to make him some ANZAC muffins.

Prince Charming tries an ANZAC muffin...he seems slightly improved here.

Of course, no sooner had I sat down with the cookbook to give the recipe a whirl, did I realize that this was not really a cookbook befitting an American Princess at all...alas! the measurements were are in metric! (No doubt an evil ploy by the queen to discourage our full execution of these fattening recipes)

Ah, but once again she has underestimated the American Princess -in-law and the power of the internet! With just a few taps on the keyboard, metric conversion was right at her fingertips! (Pray, let us hope she never does come up to speed in that skill or none of us will live happily ever after on the home cook n blog again)

(*insert evil laugh here).

A disclaimer: I really do love the Queen- she can be quite fun and pleasant to be around most times. Once we set our boundaries (and god knows this must occur every freakin' time we encounter each other....) she is really not so bad. I learned recently that she called me the "american princess" and if it weren't for the fact that I quite liked that title, I might have reason to be insulted by it. There are better ways to deal with these things, surely.

Notes on recipe below:

  • 50g of butter is half of a cube or 1/4 cup

  • Lyle's Golden Syrup can be found your better grocery stores. Our local Top Foods carries it. You can substitute light corn syrup if you can't find it.

  • 290 C is 375 F - I used our convection oven at 350 F with good results.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cook N Up Something I Probably Shouldn't Have Bought...

I love spaghetti. (*heavy sigh)

It is the food that brings me great comfort...the food that most reminds me of my childhood and Sunday dinners at my grandparent's home.

My mother tells me that my great grandfather, Alessandro Cesaro, used to make homemade sauce that would simmer for days- it was the best sauce she ever tasted. He would eat his spaghetti with a spoon and a fork. The spoon was used to wrap the long pasta around and around the fork. Alas! I do not remember him or his sauce because I was very young when he died.

My grandmother used to make spaghetti and meatballs every Sunday. We would come together with aunts, uncles and cousins and grab a plate of pasta and a few meatballs, sprinkle it with parmasean cheese. We would grab a slice of garlic bread, a scoop of sweet corn, and tear off a bit of lettuce from a wedge. A little Thousand Island and a Pepsi and we were a happy lot.

Spaghetti was the obvious choice because it is fairly quick- Grandma made hers from scratch, but she didn't do it the same laborious way her father did. She used Heinz tomato paste, as I recall. And her meatballs were always perfect-I really wish I knew her secret. Cost is another obvious reason for the Spaghetti dinners of long ago- whereas my Italian grandmother was all about bringing the family together with food, my Dutch grandfather was all about frugality.

Well, tonight, I think both my grandmother and grandfather would both be shaking thier heads in dismay. Not because I bought and served my husband spaghetti sauce out of a jar....but because I actually paid $9.99 for it.

Article 1: The $9.99 Jar of was 100% natural!

Grandpa would certainly wonder if there was gold laced tomatoes in the mix, and well, grandma would laugh it off with a twinkle in her eye. She would be much more forgiving, and probably pleased to see me taking such good care of my man (she would have really loved Simon and his English accent!)

I loved my grandma...I think everyone who knew her, loved her.

The $9.99 Spaghetti sauce was an impulse buy. I sometimes do extravagant things when I am in the pasta aisle at the grocery store. I am like a cat with catnip. I can't help myself.

My assessment:

Very tomatoey..and good roasted garlic flavor...but I really cannot justify the $9.99 here. I think I can make something as good, if not better.

Husband's response was "it okay", meaning: "It will do. I am hungry and it took you a long time to notice that I was just wasting away over here while waiting for you to stop facebooking and make me some dinner"..I don't think he has tastebuds either-he just likes to eat... but he would have liked my grandmas spaghetti dinners. I guarantee it!

Another important note...Grandma would never have let him wash the dishes...although she would have been very impressed that he does. "And he does dishes too?" I could hear her exclaim, followed by a playful attempt to get him to go sit down.

But grandma would agree with me that it is best that we just don't tell Simon what I paid for that sauce...he is a lot like my grandfather in that regard.

Grandpa and Grandma VanderHouwen, 1946

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cook N up a Light Supper: Dijon Pork Tenderloin with Beet and Carrot Slaw

This recipe satisfies a few of my resolutions. It is definately a light and healthy meal (about 300 calories for one broiled tenderloin the size of a deck of cards and one cup of slaw), we can have leftovers for lunch tomorrow- so it is frugal, and it looks and tastes good!

The color of the slaw is vibrant. Beets and Carrots are high in beta carotene - your liver will love them. The beet greens are high in Vitamin C and all three ingredients supply a good quantity of fiber.

The pork is easy to make. Salt and pepper the tenderloin and place it under the broiler. Cook throughly until no pink remains, turning it over to brown each sides. Slather on a dollup of dijon mustard and add a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Place this under the broiler for a few more minutes until nicely browned.

The recipe for the beet and carrot slaw can be found in this month's Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine (pg 21)

Beet & Carrot Slaw

1/4 c fresh orange juice
2T olive oil
2t red wine vinegar
1-1/2 t Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper

Whisk these ingredients together in a large bowl- this is the dressing.

2 medium carrots, peeled and grated.

Add the carrots to the dressing in the large bowl.

1 medium bunch beets with greens (approx. 1lb)

Separate the greens from the beets. Rinse them, dry them and remove the leaves from the stems. Slice the leaves into 1/4 in strips. Peel and grate the beets into a large strainer. Rinse the grated beets until the water runs clear. Squeeze the wet beets dry with a paper towel.

Add the beets and greens to the carrots and dressing. Mix well. Let set for 15 minutes.

Tomorrow Simon and I will have leftover pork and slaw wraps for lunch, along with orange sections and some avocado. I am betting that the flavor of the slaw will intensify a bit more in the fridge over night.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig...

Got in yesterday evening and promptly went to bed. The flight from England was 9.5 hours, and while we were fortunate to be upgraded to more comfortable seats- that is still a long time to be confined on an airplane.

Today we unpacked, did laundry and paid bills. Tomorrow I will spend some time scheming our new years resolution: lose weight.

The biggest challenge will be finding a happy medium between my passion for cooking and my need to get fit. I am going to make a heartfelt attempt to post healthy recipes here, although I am contemplating a once-a-week splurge. One day a week I should be able to eat whatever I want, right?

If there is one thing I know about making positive changes that stick, it is that we must make small changes and not grand sweeping ones. A little more exercise...a little less junk food. My goal is to lose 5lbs per month. I will let you know how that goes.

On the plane home I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about New Years Resolutions. Even though only 18% of people who make resolutions stick to them after 2 years, simply making a resolution improves your chances of success by ten fold. There are many ways to ensure success:
  • Make sure that your goal is specific and realistic
  • Write it down
  • Enlist friends and family to share in your journey, or to simply ask how it is going!
  • Predict the roadblocks and setbacks and plan ahead for these.
  • Be gentle with yourself - allow yourself to begin again. You don't have to be perfect!

On another note....I made a commitment early this year to donate all money earned by the Home Cook N Blog to charity. We didn't make a killing, but Simon and I matched the $20 earned by my blog last year and donated $40 to the American Lung Association in rememberence of Simon's father who passed away in 2008 from Lung Cancer. Thank you to everyone who used the search engine I had provided on my site and who clicked on the ad boxes!

**the beautiful pen and ink drawing on this post is by UK artist, Mike Budden. Please take a moment to enjoy his site at

I really like his bird prints!