My heart will go on and so will the cooking

As I write this final post for my ECMP 355 course I am becoming quite sad. I truly enjoyed this class for a few reasons: there was a great teacher, the subject area was of great interest and use to me, and finally that I got to take time to learn something I have learned to love.800px-Food_with_love.jpg

Before this class I was a classic student; I ate a lot of ramen and kraft dinner and as a server I also ate a lot of food from work. When I would cook it was extremely simple and I followed a recipe quite strictly. I have enjoyed baking for a long time; when baking you must follow the recipe diligently to receive a perfect product.

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Over the course of this semester, on top of learning more about technology and education, I learned how to cook proper meals. This was quite the undertaking as I tend to be broke most of the time and don’t have a lot of spare time. I believed that cooking well meant you needed the best ingredients and that it would involve slaving away in a kitchen all day. I was so pleased when my first cooking endeavor took less than two hours. My first post was lemon honey chicken and asparagus and hassle back potatoes. This was a delicious meal that was not overly expensive and tasted very good. I then followed it with my barbeque challenge. Later on, I tried pan-frying a marinated steak with a broccoli cheddar twice baked potato. My next endeavor involved collaborating with a fellow classmate, Tanya. She and I made a peach and basil pizza vegan style; her learnnig project was to learn how to cook vegan. Each of these required less than 50 dollars, gave me two servings and was delicious.

I loved using Pinterest to find new exciting things to cook. At this point I began to feel more comfortable in the kitchen, I started stocking up on groceries and cooking more often for myself. I even made my own homemade hamburger helper, it was quite good to be honest, but needed more cheese. My last two posts were focused on creating casserole-like meals which I could portion and use for lunches for more time. Part of my reasoning for choosing cooking was so I would feel more comfortable, but also so I would start eating better food and taking better care of myself. Learning to make the cottage pie and the lasagna were two of my biggest cooking accomplishments thus far. I learned how to make bulk meals that tasted good, were broke student friendly and would last a long time. I am so glad I was able to take this time to learn the art of cooking so I might continue on my own. I will continue to use Pinterest and hopefully keep updating my blog so you can continue to follow my journey as I attempt to further my love and skills in the art of cooking.

 

 

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la-la-lasagna

So last week I started to explain my love for cheese. This adoration began with my mother and grandmothers cooking. Some of the staples of my household included macaroni and cheese with hotdogs, lasagna, pork chops with apple sauce, letcho (but it was my grandfather’s recipe from Hungary which had some specific changes to the regular) there was also a variety of other meals that varied constantly. We were also big fans of going out and eating out. I remember going out every Tuesday because my grandmother loved toonie Tuesday at KFC. Part of me has come to realize that the reason I eat out all the time is that I never really learned to cook a meal. My family was never one to cook a turkey for thanksgiving, and when my family cooked they never asked my sister and I to help or watch. This is the backbone of my lack of knowledge in the food world.

This learning project helped me realize how fun cooking can be, and also how much I love cheese. Look at the recipes I have cooked; the twice baked potato with broccoli and cheese, the cottage pie, hassleback potatoes and peach pizza with homemade vegan mozzarella. Every post I have done involved cheese in some way, except my barbeque challenge. This lasagna was a masterpiece of cheese so let’s start right at the start of the wheel. I began by finding a recipe that was simple but looked delicious, and found this one! I also knew I wanted to do a garlic cheese toast because well yummy! Who doesn’t love some toast to soak up and sauce and juice left from the main course? This recipe required many ingredients so I made a trip to the grocery store and found all I needed.20170619_182443

The recipe started out easily enough the noodles I got heat in the oven so that saved me a step. I started by browning some chopped onion and some fresh minced garlic in a pan. I also started cooking the ground beef and then added the onion mixture to the same pan. After it was all cooked I drained it.

I also had to mix up some tomato paste, sauce and a few other ingredients to make my lasagna meat sauce.

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Next step was to begin layering the lasagna, I didn’t realize the pans I got were too small so I had to adjust and make two lasagnas which made this even more challenging. I started by greasing the pans and adding the first layer of meat sauce, followed by the noodles. I then added the cottage cheese, the mozzarella and a tex mex mixed shredded cheese (my own little touch). The layers continued one more time and then off to the second pan repeating the same sequence.

I put those in the oven and then went to the bread. I started by softening some salted butter with garlic and smothering it on to my French loaf which I cut in half lengthwise horizontally. I then cooked that for a short time and added the cheese. Because I made two lasagnas I used all the mozzarella so I only used the tex mex. I then replaced it into the oven. Finally I was able to remove first the bread, and later on the lasagna. Let it be known that it was delicious! Stay tuned for my next cooking adventure!

Who dosen’t love cheese?

For this weeks post I decided to make one of my favorite meals when I was a child. This time I decided to do it without using a recipe, so all by myself. This was a test to see how much I had learned so far. I knew the basics as I have made it before but never quite like this. I took all the things I liked about shepherds pie and decided to give it my all. Interestingly enough Oh, how I love Shepherd’s pie. Or is it Cottage pie? I found online that shepards pie is also known as cottage pie, the difference being that shepards pie is made with lamb and cottage pie is made with beef. Think of it this way, shepards watch sheep and most cottages in the wilderness will have one or two cows. I also found that there are many versions of this pie, check out this link to learn more. 

I started by deciding what I wanted in the pie, the typical groceries came to mind; cheese, potatoes, milk, salt, ground beef, peas, corn and a gravy-like sauce. I knew the first few steps; peel the potatoes and boil them, defrost and brown the ground beef and of course preheating the oven.  I also had to heat the peas and corn and then mix it with the ground beef after it was drained. The next step was to use this handy little gravy packet to make the beef extra saucy and flavourful. I mixed the ground beef and vegetables in with the sauce and put it on the bottom layer of the dish.20170601_174212

My next step was to complete the mashed potato topping, not to brag but I have been told my mashed potatoes are delicious. I mashed the potatoes while adding some milk and butter. I then added a little garlic powder and paprika to spice it up. This made the second layer of the dish. I then topped it with a nice layer of sharp cheddar cheese. Let it be known that cheese is one of my favorite things on this planet because it is part of all the best dishes. I love; cottage pie, mac and cheese, cheese burgers, pizza, fondue and of course poutine. What Canadian doesn’t love poutine. Anyway, I then put the dish in the oven at 375 degrees.20170601_175301

35 minutes later I removed my dish from the oven and let it cool. Finally, buda bing buda boom I had my pie! Let it be known it was delicious! Next week I will be making lasagna, another one of my cheesy friends.

Tanya and I make a peach pizza!

So up until now I have been trying new things for myself, stuff that I would want to eat at home. Myself and Tanya decided to meet and make a dish together. She and I are both in the same class, have similar learning projects (she is doing vegan cooking) and we happen to live quite close to each other. She also poster a blog post, check it out! She responded to one of my learning project posts suggesting we make a pizza together, so I took her up on that great offer.Screenshot_2017-06-15-20-03-37

One of the things that made it hard for me to say yes at first was the fear of veganism. I used to be a vegetarian, for about 4 years.I became a lacto-vegetarian because I hated the way animals were treated, especially on the larger farms. I gave up on this endeavor for many reasons; it became very expensive as a single independent student, it was time-consuming to make meals, it was incredibly difficult to get the right nutrients and vitamins and I am an extremely picky eater. I used to be allergic to strawberries (recently tested one and it was delicious, I was missing out on a red slice of heaven). I still have other particularities like my dislike for mushrooms, peppers and many other foods (trust me the list is too long, ask anyone who has had to cook for me).  Long story short I had a few drinks at Victoria’s tavern and the birthday boy ordered a meat platter,      I stood no chance.meat plank

When Tanya and I began communicating to plan our meal she told me about her homemade vegan mozzarella. I was personally scared of how it would taste, spoiler alert, it was actually pretty good. I began searching Pinterest to find a recipe that I would eat and that looked good. I came across many pizzas; my go-to was the margarita. I was intrigued however by the fruit pizzas. The first one that got me on that tangent was a blackberry pizza, but I decided to share a peach and basil pizza with her. The first one was a little too extravagant with three cheeses and prosciutto, so I found a simpler one upon which we agreed. We set a date, time and made a grocery plan.

When I arrived she was so kind, and I got to meet her family. We then started preparing for the meal when we realized we forgot the fresh basil. We went to the store, which was conveniently close. Weirdly enough they did not have any fresh basil with the other herbs, it was in an odd container. We took it back with us and began making the pizza.20170607_182903

To make the pizza we preheated the oven, put the olive oil on the pizza dough, added the mozzarella and peaches and then put it in the oven. 10 minutes later we removed it, added the basil and the reduction and voila! We had a pizza pie. 20170607_184714The pizza wasn’t bad, I may not make it again but it was sweet and mild at the same time. The pizza was cool, but it was also neat to put a face to one of my webcam classmates. Side note we also made a video of some of the experience, so check it out! Next week I am going to try and make my own recipe, it will be something simple but all my own!

Perfecting the skills I have learned thus far

So far, I have done two posts about what I have cooked. The first one went over very well, especially the potatoes. However, I wanted to incorporate more vegetables. The BBQ challenge also went over very well but I did receive one comment asking me if i had done a marinade. At that exact moment, I had no idea what that meant so I went on a small hunt. Instead of trying something completely new I wanted to take this opportunity to improve on what I have done up to now. I started with incorporating more vegetables. While I was scrolling through Pinterest looking for potato recipes I came across this great one for a twice baked potato with cheese and broccoli. Right from the title I saw a vegetable so of course I had to click on the delicious looking picture to see what it would require. I was pleasantly surprised when it asked for not only broccoli, but also for cauliflower. I got a little confused as I didn’t see the cauliflower in the picture, until I read the directions for the recipe. I was amazed that it told me to mash the cooked cauliflower in with the potatoes scooped out of the shell. I loved this idea so I ran to superstore and got all the ingredient it required, except for the buttermilk because, well I forgot. I also grabbed I nice big steak so I could make the world best marinade, which I also found on Pinterest. 2A78AE51-1C0F-46AC-B1C9-B058FB2A8E38When I got home the first step was to follow the marinade recipe, which I altered by adding honey garlic sauce and eliminating the soy sauce. I also added some cayenne. I let the steak sit in the sauce for about three hours, and then I began the potatoes. I had to pierce them with a fork and cook them so when I cut them in half I could scoop out the insides. 20170530_194155I then mashed the potato “flesh” as said in the recipe with the cooked cauliflower. After that I was supposed to add the buttermilk, but since that wasn’t possible I used regular 2% milk with some lemon juice which I found online as a replacement for the missing ingredient. I also added some cheese in the mixture before scooping it back into the shells.20170530_194932 After they were all full and tantalizing I added the cooked broccoli (I stood it up so the stem was inside like a tree) and of course more cheese.20170530_195145

I then baked it in the oven for about 8 minutes. While the potatoes cooked I took the time to pan fry my steak to a perfect medium and voila, Bon Appetit!