Sunday, April 30, 2006
Sunday Lunch and some rambling...
my homecooked sunday lunch for four
I've been wanting to cook a complete meal for my family but something always cropped up. Either I would be caught up with school or none of my family would be home. I love the idea of a lazy afternoon spent at home eating home-cooked food. I am sick of eating oil, salty, food outside. It's hard to eat healthy when you're eating out most of the time. That's because they really don't care if your arteries clog up or you end up with diabetes. Bottomline is, as long they are earning your money through your appetite, all's well... or is it really?
Whatever it is, I always believe that home-cooked food is simply the best. I am blessed to have a dad who is a fantastic cook. Sure, my mum may not be blessed with culinary skills but at least one parent of mine can take over the kitchen and save the day! :) I really don't know how I came to love cooking and baking, but I know one of the reasons is because I love food and I really enjoy a good meal. I get cranky when I eat something that's really not up to scratch. Being a self-professed foodie, I always have my tastebuds primed so that I can spot the good from the bad. Good food is a must for me. Some can live on mediocre food as long as it feeds them and keeps them breathing. But not for me. So technically, if I love good food, I should know how to cook good food yes? Then, I won't have to depend on anyone to provide me with a good meal when I need one.
That said, I'm always on the look out for recipes that stand out. Recipes that are not too complicated and would appease my tastebuds. I'm so glad that foodblogs exist. Before, I used to flip through cookbooks and have a really hard time deciding which to use. Why? Well, you should know - the photos always look good but then sometimes, when you make it, it doesn't taste that fantastic or look that great even though you followed every step word-for-word. The truth is this: some recipes aren't that good and that's that. As for using recipes from food blogs; that's a different story all together. These recipes are tried and tested and vouched for. Even if the end product doesn't come out perfect, these bloggers will highlight that fact. Therefore, it makes life so much easier! So readers like me can just tweak the recipe or at least not be so bewildered as to why the end product was more soft than solid and so on...
Anyhow, back to cooking. Yes, my mum is away for the weekend, visiting my relatives in Malaysia and my dad's working on Sunday. So I thought why not I cook sunday lunch instead of buying food from outside. It was a perfect opportunity to try out recipes I've been eyeing! Ahem, especially Lori's (of Dessert First) bulleye's cheesecake which is simply lovely by the way.
Let me let you in on the simple menu:
entree: bean salad with orange dijon and balsamic dressing
main: mustard baked chicken
dessert: bulleye's cheesecake
I wanted to make pumpkin soup but didn't have time to. Maybe next time! Okay, so I cooked an entire meal today on my own and I'm really proud of myself! I cooked four portions actually. That's including myself, my sister, brother and JF. Yep, I did promise him I'd cook an entire meal for him! He always complains that I'm only always baking and passing him cakes and cookies. Just too bad he doesn't have a sweet tooth like me! Or at least, cakes and pastries are not his thing. He loves ice cream though. I really should get an ice-cream maker soon then!
Here are the rest of the photos I took of my successful Sunday Lunch! (I got 3 thumbs up from my siblings and JF! hahaa):
bean salad with orange dijon and balsamic dressing
Isn't this salad so colourful and pleasing to the eye? Best yet; it tastes really good and it's super healthy! I actually got the recipe from the Superfoods Healthstyle Book that JF got for me from Borders. It is actually about the different superfoods that are good for you and yes, beans is one of them. The recipe looked interesting and sounded yummy so I had to try it. I'm glad I did! I feel so healthy now :p
mustard baked chicken
This chicken recipe I got from one of the first cookbooks I bought. Yes, it was a recipe book on baking but thing is, there were recipes for proper food not just cakes and cookies! The recipe sounded good and I love mustard so this was an obvious choice. And guess what? It tasted good! My 'guinea pigs' all loved it ... haha. My bro even said I could sell it outside! Now that's what I call a compliment.
Ahhhh.... when I'm cooking, there will always be dessert and this one rocked!!! It's the famous Bulleye's Cheesecake made known by Lori of Dessert First, the ever so capable baker and cook! For all I know, she can bake cheesecakes with her eyes closed! She was searching for the perfect cheesecake recipe and thought this one was it and she was creative enough to make a bulleye's out if it. Her's look so perfect! I really wonder how she did it. Mine came out like this:
It might not look perfect but it sure tastes heavenly. I'm not kidding! I love cheesecakes and I really appreciate a good slice and my, I never expected myself to be capable of producing such a gem actually. Haha, but that's because I hardly bake cheesecakes. But thank God for Lori then, she's such a genius! Now I know that I don't have to travel all the way to a single cafe or shop just to sample a good cheesecake. :)
So there you have it! The lowdown on my shot at cooking lunch on a bright and sunny afternoon for my loved ones. I'm so glad it went well and I'm sure this will not be the last time!
And oh in case you were wondering how come I'm not busy studying for my exams - haha, i decided to rest this weekend! It's no mean feat completing 4 papers! I just have one more to go, next thursday. It's on social research methods, and it's not really my cup of tea but well I hope I can pull it off!
Bean Salad with Orange Dijon and Balsamic Dressing
From Superfoods Healthstyle
This makes a great filling for lettuce or flatbread wraps. Try Kirby, Persian or Japanese cucumbers which are delicious alternatives to the usual cucumbers.
1 large orange, zest and juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 medium red onion
1 medium cucumber
15 ounces roasted peppers
1 garlic clove
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley
15 ounces chickpeas, cooked
15 ounces black beans, cooked
One 15-ounce tin pinto beans
1 pound frozen green peas, thawed.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Dice the onion, cucumber, and roasted peppers, and add to the bowl. Mince the garlic, roughly chop the parsley and add to the salad. Drain and rinse the beans and add along with the thawed peas. Stir to combine. Serve chilled.
Mustard Baked Chicken
I'm too lazy to type the entire recipe out so I'll just put the marinate here. That's all there is to this yummy chicken!
4 tbsp butter, melted
4 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
salt & pepper to taste
Mix up the above ingredients and marinate your chicken (about 4 large, or 8 small pieces). Pop it into your preheated oven (200 degree celcius) and bake for about 15 minutes. After that side's cook, turn chicken over and sprinkle poppy seeds and return to oven for another 15 minutes. Serve immediately over cooked pasta or rice.
Lori's Simply Simple Cheesecake
2 cups graham crackers, crushed into crumbs (I used digestives)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2-8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs, room temperature
4 oz bittersweet/semisweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 300ºF. Combine crumbs, sugar and margarine; press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.
Add condensed milk and beat until smooth. Add eggs, one by one, beating each until fully incorporated. Divide the batter into two bowls.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl and pour 1/2 of the batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate and stir well. Pour chocolate and plain batters into the prepared pan alternately, creating concentric circles and bake bake cheesecake for 50-55 minutes. It might not look firm when done; it will jiggle. The whole cake should jiggle evenly, though the center might be a bit looser. Cool cheesecake at room temperature for at least 1 hour before refrigerating. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.