Spicy Asian Party Mix Adventure Team Go!

This next recipe comes from my Light and Healthy cookbook. I made a soup from it last time and it’s the first repeat recipe since I started this blog. I haven’t gone through the complete rotation quite yet though. The rotation of cookbooks got re-ordered after the great flood of my kitchen sink a month ago so I just started a new order.

My original copy of this book was paperback and the new one is a hardcover. It’s slightly different, but has all the same recipes. The recipes are just categorized and organized differently. The big difference is that they have sub-sections for everything. The sub-section I’m in right now is party mixes, under the category appetizers. The current party mix is Spicy Asian Party mix.

What makes this party mix Asian and spicy is that it has wasabi peas in it. I love spicy stuff and wasabi is one of the few spicy things that get to me. A small bite of wasabi can clear out your sinuses quicker than a neti pot.

The other ingredients are rice chex cereal, honey roasted peanuts, melba crackers, and chow mein noodles. It was very easy to make, as most chex mixes tend to be. After you throw in all the ingredients above, you mix soy sauce, butter, cayenne pepper, and other spices. Once the butter has melted and turned into a glaze, you spread it over the mixture and then bake everything for a few minutes.

The end result is very tasty. Although, I forgot that I didn’t have butter, so I substituted with a little bit of oil. I have a feeling the butter would have made it much better, but it was still good. The mixture of the honey roasted peanuts and the wasabi peas gave the mix a very unique flavoring as well.

The only thing I didn’t really care for was the chow mein noodles. They were too crunchy and hard to chew. I don’t really feel they added to the mix either, so I would do without that next time.

I ended up bringing this mix to my acting class where it was very much enjoyed. Although one friend of mine teased me and told me I needed to put a warning sign about the wasabi peas. He got a good chunk and hasn’t quite forgiven me for it.

He does have clear sinuses now though.

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The Mix

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Eat Your Artichoke Heart Out!

My next recipe is a side dish from a cookbook called Classic Pasta at Home. There are only three categories in this book, pasta, appetizers, and desserts . So like I said, I made a side dish called Artichokes, Roman Style.

This sounds simple enough, right? Well let me tell you, the Romans have a reputation for tenacity and perseverance and that shows in their desire to even bother having their own recipe for artichokes. Why, you ask? I’ll tell you, because there are a million prickly layers that are hard to rip off, you prick your fingers, and then you realize the heart of the artichoke is very small. At this point you think to yourself, “Why did I bother?”

This reminds me of an ex actually. I dated him for two and a half years and his cat gave me more love than him. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I doubt he’d read this anyway and admittedly he’s the only ex whose feelings I’m not too concerned with. I know that sounds awful, but if you knew what he put me through you’d probably understand.

If any other exes read this, you are ok in my book, even if we aren’t exactly close anymore. I also hope I made it clear enough to whom I’m referring to as well so there are no misunderstandings.

I probably should just delete that comment. It’s becoming a lot like the artichoke, a lot of effort to make sure I don’t insult people I actually like for one tiny joke. Truthfully, most of the men in my life have had some layers, but they were more like onions. Which is fine. I like onions. It’s ok to be guarded. I understand that.

What is this blog about again? Oh yeah, cooking.

Anyway, artichokes take a lot of effort and this recipe almost killed me. First off, artichokes are surprisingly expensive. I believe I paid $10-15 for four artichokes! Secondly, it takes forever to peel off the layers and towards the bottom things start to get prickly. I even soaked these in lemon water, but they were still hard and brittle!

After peeling off all those layers, you spoon in a mixture of garlic, mint, parsley, and olive oil. Then you simmer each artichoke in olive oil, white wine, and water.

The result I got was disappointing. I’m guessing that’s because I didn’t soak them well enough. Most of the artichoke came out hard, but the parts that weren’t did taste very good.

I have a friend that is a pretty good cook who agreed with my analysis that cooking with artichokes is just not worth the trouble. Not unless you really know what you’re doing anyway. We both recommend just buying canned artichoke hearts. The heart is the best part anyway and it’s already prepared for you when it comes in a can. This is not recommended when it comes to men though. Don’t buy jarred man hearts, some of them are worth the layers.

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Finished product of some very insensitive, hard, and brittle artichokes.

Samosa Mimosa

My next dish comes from a book called I Love Spice. I know I’ve been talking a lot about cheese lately, but my one true soulmate and love is spicy food. My mother knew this, so when she saw this book she had to get it for me.

For a book about loving spice, it’s not been all that hot for me though. Then again, I’m also still in the appetizer section. I’m hoping that like most things that get real hot, the beginning is just a tease act.

Samosas, if you don’t know, are an Indian appetizer. Despite the similarities in namesake, they are not a refreshing cocktail like a mimosa by any means. For a long time I kept thinking I was getting the name mixed up because of this. There is an Indian fruit smoothie drink called a lassi, but it is nonalcoholic and nowhere near to being like a mimosa. I have often wondered what a lassi would be like with alcohol though. These are my best guesses as to why I kept thinking samosas weren’t what they are. What they are, in the best way I can describe is India’s version of an eggroll in a triangle shape.

The filling for this samosa is diced sweet potatoes, onions, peas, and spinach. The recipe called for filo dough and I went to an Indian market to find some, but the clerk told me to just use spring roll wraps. He said it was very similar and that one of his customers makes samosas with them all the time. I still am not sure what a filo dough wrap would be like or what the difference is. So the spring roll wrap worked for me.

The first thing you do to make them is to saute the onions and the sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes need time to soften so it’s best to cook them first. Then you add the peas, spinach, and some Indian spices. The main spice is gram masala followed by some cayenne pepper.

Once the filling is cooked you fold the spring roll wrap once in a triangle of course and then add two scoops of filling. After that you just keep folding until it’s covered. Once everything is folded up, you throw it into a frying pan and let it sizzle for a couple of minutes on each side.

The folding of the filling is the most labor intensive part of this recipe. Everything else is real easy. I recommended having a friend help you out, because after awhile all the folding gets old for one person. An assembly line process for the folding and frying would make things a lot faster and easier. I kept wishing I had one when I made these.

Despite that, they turned out really well and I ended up taking them to a party where everyone seemed to enjoy them. My good friend even asked if she could take some home with her. Being a novice cook, that pleased me very much.

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The sautéed filling and the final product!

My Foolish Musings

I originally started this blog, because I was inspired by an acting classmate who started one. She was writing about things that I had similar views on and I thought if she could do it, I could do it. I made a title and picked a backdrop and then I got scared. This blog was empty for a couple of months until I decided to go with something safe, my cooking hobby.

I want to explain why that is and where my title comes from. My title came from my very first blog. It was called The Hermit Cave. At the time I felt very much that I was a loner and I still do to some extent. When I was younger I put in a real effort to try to make friends, but I constantly felt attacked and picked on emotionally. I’d run and tell my mother about the cruelty of humanity’s youth, but instead of automatically taking my side, she’d ask questions. My mother was teaching me to see all sides of a coin. Most of the time, she ended up on my side anyway. So I didn’t really comprehend what she was doing until my mid-twenties.

So for a long time I felt victimized, picked on, and misunderstood. Meanwhile my mother kept urging me to see all sides. Sometimes it worked and sometimes I would dramatically run into my room and say something angsty like, “No one understands!”

Sometimes my mother even agreed with me, but she would always try to keep me from feeling victimized. She was always trying to get me to rise above the unjust and very often manipulative behaviors I had to wrestle with. I misunderstood her often. I still do sometimes, more so with other issues. I don’t really get picked on anymore, but I still deal with conflict.

As a woman in her late 20s, looking back, I’m not sure if I was unjustly picked on or not. I don’t know if it was something I legitimately did to cause others to pick on me or if some of my friends in the past were just tiny little assholes. Maybe it was a combination even. I’m sure in some cases it was me and in some it was them.

When I was writing The Hermit Cave and going through teenage angst that lasted into college admittedly, I often held grudges. If I felt wronged then that person was totally in the wrong. I didn’t see their points and sometimes I’d write blogs about it.  My mother’s voice would get in my head and I would try to see things from the other side, but I would hardly ever, truly comprehend it. Instead of comprehension, I would just feel guilty about getting so upset.

Thankfully my comprehension has improved, but I still get upset from time to time. I’m only human.

These traits are what makes me feel like a fool. Hence the name Hermitfool. The fool in the tarot deck represents childlike wonderment. For me it represents discovery. I’m trying to discover myself and figure out this world. I want to figure it out like a fool would, because the fool doesn’t know enough to judge. The fool takes everything in life like it’s a new experience, with open, wondrous eyes. It’s not easy to do, especially for me. I’ve always been very judgemental. I judge people based off of photos sometimes. I even think I tend to be right after meeting them in person.

The point I’m trying to make is that I wanted my blog to be about life, but I got scared.  I have a bad habit of being too personal and vulnerable. This works great on stage and camera, but in life it gets me into trouble. For example, when someone asks me how I am, I have to evaluate whether or not I should be polite and tell the person the truth. For example, if i’m not ok and it’s someone I’m kind of friends with, my instinct is to say, “Yeah I’m not doing well right now, but I’ll get over it, it’s cool.”

I’m aware, however, that that makes most people uncomfortable. So I have to think to myself, am I’m going to make this person uncomfortable? Do I really need to be honest about how I’m feeling? The funny thing is that it’s not even an issue of me wanting to talk about my problem. Most of the time I don’t really want to, unless it’s with people who are close friends or I’m really hurting.  I just don’t like acting in real life. I love to do it on camera and on stage, but in real life I like to be honest.

I don’t always reveal everything though. Sometime even with people I’m close to, I’ll want to say what’s truly on my mind and I don’t. I do this out of fear of scaring people away and sometimes it’s because I’m not sure if it’s a fleeting feeling or a true one. My mind is sharp enough to know this about myself, but my heart dominates and confuses me.

It’s a lot like this photo I encountered recently, only my brain can’t keep my heart on it’s leesh.  Truthfully, my brain is not very domineering at all. Well at least not the logical side of my brain that is. The logical part of me is like that smart kid everyone ignores, but is almost always right. I’m trying my best to listen to you logic, I really am.

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Strawberries and Blueberries Who Like To Get Drunk

Here is another easy recipe that also makes a great dessert. It does not contain cheese though. Sad, I know.

It does however contain orange liqueur and cream! Woohoo right?!

I bought my strawberries and blueberries at Trader Joes. The plastic containers they came in were the perfect serving size for the recipe which made things easy. I sliced the strawberries and mixed them in a bowl with the blueberries. Then you add mint, a bit of heavy cream, honey, powdered sugar, and orange liqueur.

I’m not a big cocktail person. I like my alcohol to be simple. My favorite drink is Jameson and coke, followed by a margarita. When I first turned 21 I ordered White Russians a lot because I loved the movie The Big Lebowski, but I can’t say it was necessarily my favorite drink. So instead of buying a large bottle of orange liqueur I opted for one of those mini bottles you can buy at liquor stores. They just happen to be the perfect serving for the recipe and cheap.

The final ingredient is sliced pistachios, but I’m not a big fan of pistachios and they are expensive. So I substituted with walnuts. If they weren’t so expensive I would have liked to have tried them out in this dish. I could see how it would add a bit more to the flavoring.

All in all, the walnuts worked ok. They gave the dish some texture and mixed well with the other ingredients. The orange flavor is probably the most distinct, but not overpowering because of the honey and mint seasoning. This is a recipe I’d be willing to make again with no hesitation.

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Arugula and Mushroom Quesadilla

This recipe is also very simple and it came from a cookbook that I sadly lost about a month ago. I flew to my homestate for a visit and while I was gone my building decided to checkups. This resulted in my kitchen sink overflowing and ruining almost all of my cookbooks. I used to keep them lined up on the shelf next to the sink. I now keep them on top of my fridge. Lesson learned.

Thankfully I was able to replace all of my cookbooks, except two. This one was called Week Night Menus and the other one was called Wal-Mart Family Cookbook. Finding the Wal-Mart one has been really frustrating because I can’t figure out what edition it was. It had a recipe from an ex boyfriend’s mother in it. I thought it was from 2005 but I ordered that and it didn’t have her recipe. I’m sure I could ask my ex, but we haven’t talked in years. We are still friends with our mutual friends but last time I reached out to him he was quite frankly a douche. This was years ago though, so I’ve been wresting with whether or not I should contact him.

I might encounter him in the future though. My best friend from home is getting married and he’s still friends with the ex, so I’m sure he’s invited too. I’m very excited about my friend’s wedding! I love his fiancee and I get to be a groomswoman! I only know one other person who had a grooswoman and it’s something I’ve wanted to see more of truthfully. Also when I was younger I only had one female friend so when I would think about my future wedding, my friend was my best brides man, the other guys my bridesmen, and then my friend Sara. As I got older I made more female friends so now it would be more mixed.

I’m not sure if I want a wedding or if I’ll ever even get married though. Not trying to be a downer. It’s still a dream of mine to be with someone I love, who also loves me, and have that relationship last. I’m just not pushing or looking for it as strongly as I was when I was younger. Also the most fun part about weddings is the reception. So if I were to get married, I’d probably just have a court ceremony with a few close friends and family and then I’d have a giant party.

I know this is a total digression, but honestly I don’t have much to say about this recipe anyway. The hardest and most fun part about it was making the sauce for the quesadilla. I mixed mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, jarred red peppers, and other spices. It came out tasting a little like ranch dressing. Ranch dressing with some kick to it to be more precise. That’s not surprising though because mayonnaise is an ingredient for ranch dressing as well. It’s not as creamy though as you can see below.

photo (7)The filling for the quesadilla is real easy too, you just saute the arugula and the portobello mushrooms before hand. When everything is cooked you spread the sauce, swiss cheese, the mushrooms, and the arugula on one end, fold, and then cook on a skillet. You heat one side for a few minutes and then you turn it over. It’s real easy and boring to talk about, but it was good!

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You’re French Aren’t You?

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“Those French. They hate us, they smoke, they have a whole relationship with dairy products I don’t understand.” – French Kiss

I have nothing against French people. The few I’ve meant have been quite pleasant and we both seem to adore cheese so that’s sweet and wonderful. I just love the movie French Kiss and wanted an excuse to post a quote from it. This next recipe is a French one that involves dairy products though, so it fits.

This particular cookbook is called The French Farmhouse. When I was in high school I went through a French phase because I was taking French for my foreign language. This resulted in a desire to learn how to cook French food. So I asked for French cookbooks for Christmas and I received The French Farmhouse and French Classics. Back then I attempted to make chocolate mousse and some kind of cake. Neither one turned out right. I was disappointed and gave up trying to bake for a very long time.

I’m still not the best baker, so when I get to the desserts in these cookbooks it will be an interesting read I’m sure.

The recipe I turned out this time around is prunes stuffed with blue cheese and parsley. It’s supposed to be an appetizer, but I ate mine for dessert. It’s really, really easy to make. You just cut open a prune, scoop out the core, and add a bit of blue cheese inside. Then you bake it for only a minute in the oven and sprinkle parsley on top.

I almost didn’t even want to write a blog about this, because there really wasn’t much to say about the actual cooking process. So I’ll say this. Cheese is awesome with fruit. Do it. Eat it. Be French I guess.

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