Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Posts tagged 'recipes'

Recipe Friday: DIY Ramen.

I’m sort of taking a sick day- I got the cold that TheBoy had last weekend, and that the bulk of the Little Kidlet’s kindergarten class seem to have. While I’ve been good about washing my hands at home, and using hand sanitizer when I was in the classroom (I volunteer), there’s only so much you can do when kids actually cough or sneeze on your face.

So for today, I’m going to share my fake ramen recipe. I mean, it’s really ramen- not from the little packages that you can get… but it’s my homemade version of what you might get from a Japanese restaurant. And it’s really easy. If you can boil and chop, you can make it.


Whitney’s Ramen (Perfect for Sick Days)
Serves: 2
Time to make: 20 minutes (10 min prep, 10 minutes cooking)

2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (or Bragg’s Amino)
1/4 tsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped (you can use any kind, I used baby bellas because it’s what I had on hand)
1 cup of kale, chopped
1 tsp sriracha
REAL ramen noodles (You can get them in the Asian food aisle at your grocery store. Not the wavy ramen packs, though those will do for a last case scenario)

Equipment: 2 saucepans, one small, one medium

Fill the medium saucepan with water, boil. This is what you’re going to cook the ramen in.

Put the small saucepan over low heat and mix the beef broth, 1 cup water, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. If you want a spicy broth, add the sriracha now- the longer you cook it, the more heat will be in your broth.

While the flavors are all melding, add in the mushrooms and season with salt & pepper. Taste the broth and adjust. Think it needs an earthier flavor? Add some more soy sauce. More heat? Add more sriracha.

When the water in the medium saucepan comes to a boil, add in your ramen noodles and cook as per the directions on the package. It won’t take long, only a few minutes.

While the ramen boils, add in the diced kale (when chopping, cut off the spine of the kale, and roughly chop the leafy bits) to the beef broth, and turn off the heat – you want it hot, but not scalding hot. The kale will soften in the heat of the broth.

To serve, drain the ramen noodles (I use a pasta fork stirring thing) and put it in a bowl, and ladle the broth over it.

Garnish with whatever you like- green onions, etc.

To make this a vegetarian dish, use a mushroom stock. It’s ridiculously easy to make- just buy some dried mushrooms and cover with water in a pot. Heat the water, and let the mushrooms plump up- remove the mushrooms- you can use them in this recipe, and run the liquid through a coffee filter to remove any grit. Then return to the pot and let it reduce a little. Instant mushroom stock!

Easy enough to make when you’re totally zonked out, and so much tastier than soup from a can!

Crossroads and artichoke sauce.

One week ago exactly, I was talking to the triage nurse and being admitted to the ER. I have no idea what my hemoglobin level is at today, but I feel comfortable saying it must be pretty good.

I have no idea what the future brings, except that it looks unlikely like I’ll have to stay on a gluten-free diet. But since I had a lot of really satisfying meals on my gluten-free diet (which was mostly an unprocessed diet, and I think that had a bigger effect on my health than removing gluten), I think I’m going to keep with the spirit.

I also liked being able to eat the same thing as the Little Kidlet- so I’m going to keep throwing myself into allergen-free baking and make delicious tasty things so that he can enjoy the same foods as me. While he doesn’t “know what he’s missing” (as a lot of people worry he does), he’s eager to try new things, and I want to keep him curious about food- while keeping him safe.

Thursday I meet with my GI doctor again and we’ll set up my next batch of testing. Until then, I just have to stick with my pill regimen (so. much. iron.) and eat as healthy as possible.

Which reminds me, while I was scrounging in the fridge I managed to come up with a great recipe- that’s extremely versatile.

Artichoke sauce over polenta cakes, for one
gluten-free, dairy-free

Some sort of “protein” (I’ve used: 1/4 lb ground turkey, 1 sweet italian precooked sausage removed from the casing and diced, 1/4 container sliced mushrooms)
Jarred artichoke spread
Chicken/vegetable stock (so long as the vegetable stock isn’t tomato based)
Tube of prepared polenta

In a skillet, cook your protein. Saute mushrooms in a little olive oil, brown ground turkey or diced cooked sausage.

Heat a non-stick pan/cast iron pan on medium.

In the skillet with the mushrooms/turkey/whatever… drain off any excess oil/fat. You only don’t need more than a 1/2 Tbsp.

Add in about 3 Tbsp of the artichoke spread and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup stock to the hot pan and let it simmer until it reduces (it won’t take long). Season with salt & pepper at this point.

In the hot pan, add about 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Cut off two 1″ slices from the polenta round and add it to the pan, and cook 2-3 minutes per side.

Plate the polenta rounds and top with the sauce. Enjoy!

Note: Prepared polenta is one of my favorite cooking shortcuts. It’s cheap and FAST to prepare. The leftovers can go back in the fridge in a plastic bag and last about 5 days.

Easy Noodle Bowl.

Like Ramen, but want something a little healthier? Or, if you’re like me and gluten-free, do you miss the comfort of a bowl of noodles?

That’s when you make yourself this easy recipe. Promise you, it’ll only take a few more minutes than making yourself ramen, and it’s so much more flavorful!

Noodle Bowl for one.

1/2 Tbsp flavorless oil, like vegetable oil or canola oil
1/4 tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp minced garlic (or more if you’re like me)
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup mushrooms
1 cup good quality broth (I used beef)
noodles (you can use ramen noodles or a serving of your favorite pasta)
1/4 cup frozen broccoli
soy sauce (gf substitution: Bragg’s Amino) to taste
dash of sesame oil
salt & pepper to taste
some green onions, chopped

Heat your saucepan on medium-low, and add the oil. Add in the garlic, ginger and chili flakes- let the garlic & ginger soften, and then add in the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms saute a little, and then remove them from the saucepan.

Add in the broth, a dash of sesame oil and season with soy sauce (probably about 2 Tbsp), and bring to a boil. Add in the noodles/pasta (and broccoli) and cook until the noodles are finished. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper- garnish with the green onions. And voila! You have a yummy noodle soup with veggies & no MSG.

All in all, it took me about 15 minutes to make- the longest part was waiting for the noodles to cook.

Day 3 of NaBloPoMo

Frying, my culinary true love.

I admit it. If it can be fried, odds are I’ll fry it. I’ve already promised my mom to draw the line at frying butter, so don’t worry people. I won’t be installing a deep fryer here either.

Saturday night, I was the lone adult in the house, and while I had food for the kidlets covered, I’d completely forgotten about dinner for myself. So I looked up a couple recipes and winged fried mozzarella sticks. I learned a valuable lesson- when they mention that you can use a skillet, but need the oil to be able to cover the sticks… there’s a reason why. Mine weren’t perfect, but they were good.

Also over the weekend, I’d been chatting with my friend Bryan about my upcoming trip to Vegas. He sent me a link to the Tropicana’s website, so that I could see their updated decor and that’s when I saw this beauty…

Lamb tacos, using fried eggplant for the shell! I have no real idea how big they are, but I was immediately thinking of making an Italian version, with a meat sauce inside the shell.

At the store today, we picked up an eggplant, but as soon as I started to slice into it I realized that those would be some tiny tiny tacos. So I decided to simply go with fried eggplant…


1 eggplant
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used gluten-free)
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil

vegetable oil

Before you even think of heating the oil, set up your dredging stations. You’ll need three pans, as well as a papertowel covered wire rack for your eggplant to wait before being fried.

In the first plate, pour out your cornstarch. I think it was about 1 cup. Spread it into a nice flat layer. In the second plate, crack your two eggs and whisk until they’re nicely mixed up. Season with a good pinch of salt. In the third plate, mix the breadcrumbs and dried basil, and season with pepper (and any other seasonings you want. Garlic powder? Cayenne pepper?).

Now, pour the oil into a heavy bottomed skillet (about 1″ deep) and heat the oil over medium until it gets up to about 375.

Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices.

While you’re waiting for the oil to come to temperature, start dredging. Coat the eggplant first in the cornstarch, shaking off any excess. Then put it in the egg, and use a fork to flip it over to make sure it’s coated thoroughly in the egg. From there, drop it with one hand into the breadcrumbs and use another fork to make sure it gets covered in breadcrumbs. When a slice is done, put it on the paper towel lined wire rack and move on to the next one. (Tip: try to keep one hand for using the cornstarch plate and another for once it’s wet- it’ll make things a lot less gunky) Finish them all before you start frying.

Put 2 eggplant into the oil, and when the bottom is golden brown, flip it over using tongs (it won’t take very long, probably about a minute). Move to a paper towel lined plate when the second side is done, and repeat until done. Avoid the temptation to crowd the pan – any more than two pieces at a time, and it’ll cause your oil to drop in temperature and you’ll wind up with greasy eggplant. But really, it goes so quickly that it won’t take you long at all to work in batches of two.

You can have it as a meal or as an appetizer, topped/dipped with/in your favorite marinara sauce.

Recipe: Goat Cheese, Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato Torta

I know I haven’t posted much about our Christmas dinner. I’ll just say this. The food rocked. I plan on making all the dishes again, so the recipes will pop up here anyways.

The first recipe that I made is this layered “torta” that my mom put together for Christmas. The other appetizers I was doing were a bit more labor intensive, so she wanted something that was quick, easy- and delicious.

Goat Cheese, Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato Torta

via Bake Space (from “The Bride and Groom’s First Cookbook”)


8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz goat cheese, softened
2/3 cup pesto – store-bought or homemade, but it should be on the thicker side
3/4 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
basil leaves or pine nuts for garnish

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese and goat cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Combine 1/4 cup cheese mixture with sundried tomatoes in another bowl and mix well.
Line a 2-cup ramekin with plastic wrap, letting ends hang over.
Spray plastic wrap with cooking spray.
Carefully spread half of cheese mixture in bottom of ramekin, followed by pesto, sundried tomato mixture, and remaining cheese.
Carefully pull on plastic wrap as you go to create smooth layers.
When finished, wrap ends of plastic wrap over top and chill for at least one hour.
When ready to serve, unwrap the top, and invert onto a plate.
Remove dish and plastic wrap.


You can serve it with crackers, or as my mom (and I) did, with some crostini. Just slice a french baguette, brush a little olive oil on the slices and toast in a preheated 375 degree oven until they’re nice and crisp. The recipe makes plenty of dip, so make sure you have enough crackers or crostini to go around!

TheBoy loved this so much that it was the one appetizer I made for New Year’s Eve. Since I added a food processor to my kitchen arsenal, I even made the pesto! Definitely great, since it looks impressive- it comes together pretty quickly (for Christmas we used Trader Joe’s pesto) and it’s something you make ahead. As a matter of fact, the toughest part will probably be tearing off the cling wrap to line the bowl with.

Kitchen Shortcuts: the Improvised Sauce

WARNING: This post contains pictures taken on a cameraphone. For those of you who require hi-res fancy pictures… sorrry! I should get a new camera for me and a cheap one for the Oldest Kidlet, who is quite the photographer- but rough on cameras.

I know, I’m the Queen of Make-It-From-Scratch. But you know… there are a few places that I take shortcuts. A few products out there that you can get quality goods without filling foods with preservatives.

I don’t use baking mixes anymore- making a cake from scratch really doesn’t take that much longer. Same with pancakes.

So where do I use my shortcuts? I used canned tomatoes almost exclusively, and keep a good jarred tomato sauce on hand. Nothing with HFCS as an ingredient- but something that’s essentially doing all the work I would have done if I was making it myself. I try to get something that’s as basic as it gets. Tomato with a little basil. And I always keep a jar of that on hand. That way, when I feel like having pasta, I can grab that and tweak the sauce the way I want to.

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The Ultimate Sandwich

So, I got a Flip UltraHD for my birthday. I got it, on the promise that I’d take more videos of my children. But really, I had fond memories of my sister and I, making silly home movies with our camcorder. Somewhere there is a tape with our bizarre version of Wizard of Oz, lip-synching songs from Sleeping Beauty, Barf-o-vision, and naturally… a cooking demo by yours truly. My mom wasn’t thrilled that we didn’t clean up the kitchen before we shot it, but it was fun.

Then, when my point and shoot died a horrible death, I got a notion that I could make videos about my culinary exploits.

Which led to this video. I had already posted this recipe, but you get the video and the recipe:

Warning: I sound like I’m 14. Also, I didn’t have a tripod. So, it’s a little bit shaky. I also said “um” a lot.

Additional warning: I now have a tripod.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe: Read More…

The Happy Daughter Cheesecake project

I love cheesecake. As a kid, when my mom brought home the frozen cheesecake from Trader Joe’s, I knew I was ready for something special. When I was first dating TheBoy, I knew we were meant to be when I discovered that he made cheesecakes from scratch. It was a sign.

I’ve made a few cheesecakes over the years, including a pumpkin bourbon cheesecake the Thanksgiving right before my oldest son was born. That was a great cheesecake, which I personally ate a quarter of after it was decided that the teaspoon of bourbon the recipe called for must have burned off. (As an aside: when you cook with alcohol, not all of it burns off. In fact, flambeing a dish doesn’t guarantee it’s burned off. It takes a fair amount time cooking at a steady high heat to burn off a small amount.)

I started to follow Eli’s Cheesecake on Twitter when they started having a giveaway for free cheesecakes based on their number of followers. They’re still doing regular giveaways, so follow them! I was lucky enough to win (on a day when I really needed it) and after I gave them my address, I had cheesecake on my doorstep.

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Monday Waffles!

Yes, waffles on a Monday. There are many times that I lament the fact that TheBoy works nights, but Monday mornings are not one of them. With his schedule reversed, he’s usually up Monday morning, and we can have a nice big breakfast for just the four of us. Otherwise, we’d have to double the amount of bacon and batter being produced, just to make sure there were enough for the rest of the clan in the household.

My family was always big on weekend breakfasts. With how busy our lives were during the weekend, we’d come together to make them. My dad, sister and I would whip together pancake batters or my parents would make papas y huevos con pan ducle (we bought the pan ducle- however, it’s on my wish list of things that I want to learn to make). Then we’d sit down together and enjoy. Ah, food: the glue that binds families together- and even helps patch up the rough bits.

How serious were we about weekend breakfasts? My parents crafted a pancake/waffle batter that worked with my sister’s allergy to wheat. From the time TheBoy and I moved in together, we worked on crafting our own recipes. He’s long been convinced that he could have a waffle recipe that didn’t require separating eggs, but when we were looking for a different recipe to try… I said I’d make the waffles today since this was a bit more complicated than our usual attempts. Boy was it worth it!

(Note: I’m not saying this is a complicated recipe. Just saying it’s a bit harder than throwing all the ingredients into one bowl)

Waffles with Blueberry sauce
Waffle recipe: Emeril Lagasse, via

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick cooking spray, optional

Equipment needed
3 bowls (two for your mixer, if you have ‘em, though one will do)
waffle iron


Preheat your waffle iron. To make for easier cleanup, I recommend placing it on top of a cookie sheet with a rim so that if you overfill your waffle iron, the batter doesn’t go everywhere.

Using two bowls, separate the eggs. Whip up the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Make sure you put your mixer on the highest setting, and be prepared for your table to start shaking if it isn’t super solid. Set aside the egg whites. In another bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar dissolves into the eggs and the mixture turns a pale yellow. If I had two mixer bowls, I’d just do this in another one- but I used TheBoy’s superior biceps and a whisk to get it done. Add the milk, melted butter and vanilla to the egg yolk mixture.

In the last bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Sifting is extremely important for good waffles- it helps get the dry ingredients combined, but also incorporates air. Air is key to good waffles. Add in the flour mixture to the egg/milk mixture and whisk until just combined. Don’t overmix. Honestly, as soon as you stop seeing giant clumps of flour, it’s great.

Fold in the egg whites into the batter. If you’ve never folded in egg whites, don’t be scared. It’s simple. You dump the egg whites on top of the batter, run your spatula around the outside of the bowl, and use it to bring up the batter from the bottom of the bowl over the top of the egg whites. Repeat until it looks like you have a bowlful of beige clouds, instead of egg whites dumped on top your batter. Then stop!

Now, spray the waffle iron with a bit of nonstick cooking spray. Ladle in your batter into the various compartments- just enough to fill the bottom part. If you put too much in, it’ll just spill out. Think of the first batch as your gauge to see how much will fill it! Cook according to the directions for your waffle iron, and enjoy!

You can top them with syrup, melted butter… or a really quick and easy blueberry sauce!

Easy Blueberry Sauce

1 cup blueberry preserves
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Microwave the blueberry preserves to warm them, and stir thoroughly. You’ll see it already starts to make a syrup. Add in the lemon juice, and stir to combine. That’s it! Perfect for spooning over waffles or pancakes.

(If you want to make it the real way, here’s a guesstimate on the proportions you’ll need. I usually wing it)

Blueberry sauce

2 cups fresh/frozen blueberries (if frozen, thaw first)
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine blueberries and sugar. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the blueberries have broken down and formed a loose syrup. Add in the lemon juice and stir.

The final verdict: The waffles were light and crisp and delicious! The syrup was sweet, but not too sweet and thoroughly enjoyable. I also dusted them with some powdered sugar. I’ve been informed that I’ll be making the waffles from now on, so I’m not the only one who liked them!

The worst food blogger?

That’s right. I know of the worst food blogger, and I’m going to name names. It’s me. Maybe it’s because I’ve become so accustomed to food blogs filled with delicious looking food. You see, I have a big problem. When I make something- usually I’m so excited to dig in that I completely forget to take pictures.

Which is what happened yesterday for Easter dinner. Typically Easter dinner’s a big deal, with ham, all the family and a formal dinner. But it seemed time to scale it back a bit, and so I got to make dinner. I had the recipe in mind- a roasted pork loin with mustard crust, veggies and homemade macaroni & cheese. However, supermarkets aren’t known for their butcher’s counters, and there was no pork loin. So there I stood in Albertson’s with my phone out, looking for recipes with pork tenderloin (which they did have). I bought some Brussels sprouts and fresh broccoli, and it was back to home I went.

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