Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fluffy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.

This was the Valentine's Day dessert I made for Kurt. He gets random pineapple upside-down cake cravings and then pesters me about it for months until I make him one. This time he started wanting cake several weeks before Valentine's Day so I just put it off until then so I could combine request fulfillment and obligatory Valentine's Day sugar into one neat little package.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put some butter in a 9-inch pan (square and round are both fine) and put it in the oven to melt.

 Meanwhile. Add really really soft butter or shortening to your bowl. Since you're going to basically be whipping the batter instead of stirring it, it's just much easier if it's entirely softened. (BTW, I used my kitchenaid mixer with the wire whip for this but a hand mixer would also work just fine. Just DON'T think it will turn out as well if you just stir the ingredients up. It needs to be fluffy.)

 Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Also milk and egg which are not pictured but I trust you to figure it out. Mix it up on low speed for 30 seconds or so - enough to get it all stirred together so flour isn't flying everywhere.

 Meanwhile, take the now-melted butter out of the oven, make sure it's spread evenly around the dish, and add a layer of brown sugar. The recipe said 2/3 cup, but I don't measure. As long as it's a nice thick layer. (Warning: butter and brown sugar are so delicious together you will want to eat this as is. Resist.)

 Ok everything's pretty much stirred together now. Turn your mixer up to high.

 Let it run for several minutes until the batter is really fluffy.

 Now arrange your pineapple rings in an adorable flower. Or a boring square if you're using a square pan. A can of pineapple rings has exactly nine rings I believe so it's just enough to fill up a square pan. So convenient.

 Maraschino cherries! Some people like to just put one in the middle of each pineapple ring which I will admit is probably cuter and more orderly but you don't get as many cherries that way so my way is better.

 The batter should be looking nice and fluffy by now.

 Spread it over the top of your pineapple and bake. It goes for almost an hour so it's good to get it in the oven and then make the rest of dinner.

 When it comes out, let it sit in the pan for a couple minutes. If you don't, all the sugar and butter in the bottom (top?) will be completely liquid so it will get everywhere instead of staying on the cake where it belongs. I flipped one of these over too soon once and it was a truly sad day for me. But also don't let it sit for too long or it will stick to the pan and be gross. 

Flip it over onto a plate, NOT a cooling rack. That way you don't lose any sugar and butter. Very important.

This is so good, you guys. And I don't even usually like cake.

I used this recipe from Betty Crocker. (I used butter instead of shortening because I don't keep shortening in the house but other than that I didn't make changes.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tropical Green Curry with Pork

I made curry for Valentine's Day this year.

(No person in their right mind would want to go to a romantic restaurant on Valentine's Day. Everyone else will be there, probably crying about how their boyfriend didn't buy them diamonds like all the other boyfriends or something. Ew. Besides it was a weeknight and somebody in this household (it's me) insists on going to bed at ten on weeknights. So no going out for us.)

I know a lot of people are against strong-smelling food on Valentine's Day. To these people I say, fine, go eat your depressing gruel in your own little corner. Strong-smelling food such as curry and garlicky things is absolutely the most delicious. Plus toothbrushes and breath mints exist so just use those.

Anyway the recipe.

 Let's start with a delicious-looking pork chop. Why don't I cook with pork more often?

 The fat is really easy to cut off so I did. I am all for fat, don't get me wrong, but this recipe is going to have tons of healthy fat added later on in the form of coconut milk, so I figured that was enough. (Also it's easier to cut the meat once the fat is off, and I'm lazy.

 Cut it into little strips. These were as thin as I could get but that's because I suck and never sharpen my knives. In real curry the meat is thinner. So if you can get it thinner, do.

 For my veggies, I added a red bell pepper,

 and an eggplant. (ignore the fact that it's kind of gross-looking eggplant, none of the eggplants at kroger that day were especially stellar)

 Chop up some garlic and fresh ginger and throw it in to cook. You could probably cheat with the powdered kind but it wouldn't turn out as well at all.

 OK, this is totally optional, but I was making a pineapple upside down cake at the same time as I was making this curry, so I threw in the juice and leftover pineapple. Pineapple juice adds such a great flavor to pork. Then I just cooked it until most of the liquid was either absorbed by the vegetables or evaporated.

 Ok this is starting to look nice and cooked. Won't give us food poisoning, and all that good stuff.

 Add two cans of coconut milk. (You could do a smaller batch and add just one. I guess. But really, add two. This makes dinner for two *and* lunch for the next day, so it's not like you're eating it all right now.)

 Now. A jar of curry paste. Yes, the whole jar. (Really, one jar per can of coconut milk you're using would probably be good. But it's expensive so I just used one jar. And it turned out delicious but really mild. So don't expect spicy.)

 See how the curry paste didn't turn it that green? It's definitely not as strongly-flavored as restaurant curry.

 It would probably be fine without adding anything, but in an attempt to make it greener I added some cilantro. I bought this tube of cilantro blend stuff because it lasts longer than fresh cilantro, but it turned out to not be nearly as flavorful, so I'm just going to have to deal with buying cilantro all the time and never using it all up before it gets gross.

 I also added a mango at this point. Mango is so so so delicious in curry. I couldn't put it in before because it would have gotten really mushy. But if you do add a mango, let the curry simmer for a little while so it gets soft.

I served this with brown rice and a margarita. (I was going for a tropical dinner theme - we had pineapple upside-down cake for dessert because it's Kurt's favorite and so obviously I had to make a dinner involving all the other tropical fruit. Themes are my favorite thing.)

So here's an ingredients list in case you want to make this:
-a couple pork chops
-a red bell pepper
-an eggplant
-a mango
-fresh garlic
-fresh ginger
-two cans of coconut milk
-jar (or two) of curry paste
-pineapple juice if you want to make it like I did
-brown rice

(This is a really expensive dinner to cook... you basically have to spend just as much as you'd spend ordering it at a restaurant. But it was a special occasion and I wanted to try making curry again because I haven't in a while.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Recipes I failed to take pictures of.

The other day we had some friends over and I didn't take pictures as I was making dinner because I didn't want to seem like a dork. So now I'm doing a food blog post without pictures. Which will make me seem like a dork. You really can't win.


For our side dish, I made roasted root vegetables, which is an Alexander family Christmas dinner recipe. It is totally delicious. Here is an actual recipe.


  • Turnips. 
  • Parsnips. 
  • Carrots. 
  • Beets. 
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Brussels Sprouts. 
  • Olive oil.
  • Balsamic vinegar.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Feta cheese.


  • Wash and cut up the turnips, parsnips, carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes. 
    • We only used half a turnip because ours was really big and we didn't want the turnip flavor to overwhelm everything else. 
    • You don't have to use both parsnips and carrots. They kind of smell the same anyway. The parsnips have a pretty mild flavor in case you aren't familiar with them.
    • I left out the beets because they have a much stronger flavor and I didn't want to buy an entire bunch of beets just to use one. But they can be good. And of course they add lovely color.
    • Make sure to cut the sweet potatoes in bigger chunks than the rest, because they cook faster and you don't want them to be mush.
  • OK. Now cook whichever veggies you've chosen for a while in a skillet with a bit of olive oil. This will give the outside a bit of extra texture kiiiiind of but not really like the outside of a french fry.
  • Meanwhile. Wash the brussels sprouts and peel off the entire outside layer of them. I know it seems wasteful but the outside layer is gross so just get rid of it. Then cut them in half. 
  • Put your semi-cooked vegetables and the brussels sprouts on a cookie sheet, add more olive oil, a bit of balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until they look done. I really have no idea how long this is (25 minutes?) so test with a fork.
  • Serve with feta cheese on top and more oil/vinegar/salt/pepper if it needs any. 

The main dish we ate with the vegetables was based on this recipe. I floured/salted/peppered two pounds of chicken tenderloins and cooked them in a skillet with some butter and olive oil. And in another pan I cooked two packages of mushrooms and several cloves of garlic, also in butter and olive oil. (Healthy was not the theme that day.) Then I chopped up a bunch of green onions and threw them in. And then added a bunch of white wine and let it cook for a while. Then I had to add a bit of flour because it wasn't thickening up. Then it thickened up too much and I had to add more wine. (More wine... oh no!) I didn't serve it with rice but I did have garlic bread available so you know. Starches. We had them.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

In which I decide to be healthy.

I decided I would be momentarily vegetarian in order to lose weight.

It didn't work but it tasted good anyway.

Since I don't know how to cook fancy vegetarian food I just cooked a bunch of veggies at the same time.

(And some olive oil or butter. Veggies fried in butter are so delicious but I used olive oil in some misguided health attempt.)

(After well over a year of marriage I am still reconciling myself to cutting up onions because Kurt likes them.)

 Green bell peppers.
(And a few seeds, apparently.)

 Red bell peppers.
(Why are these so expensive? Does anyone know where to get them for cheap?)

(I used the pre-cut-up kind from Kroger because they were cheaper than the whole ones that day.)

 Salt and black pepper and crushed red pepper.  
(Crushed red pepper makes everything better lately.)

 Then just let it cook for a little while. I had to add a little water and a little more olive oil. (I like to use water to help saute things. Or apple juice. Or lemon juice. Just so I don't have to use as much oil.)

Grape tomatoes.
(I have recently discovered the deliciousness of grape tomatoes cooked. Plus they were a dollar for a package of them at Kroger. That never happens. I ate them like grapes for a week.)

Black beans.
(These are not delicious. But they add protein. And Kurt will not eat a proteinless vegetarian meal.) 

I thought the vegetables were really good by themselves but the next day I put them in an omelette with cheese (and toasted pita bread because somebody had to eat it.) I use "omelette" in the loosest sense of the word here as it really had zero structural integrity and was mostly vegetables with egg on them rather than egg with vegetables in it. But Kurt liked it better than just the veggies.