Sunday, October 23, 2011

Playing with my new balls

Bucky Balls that is!

Thanks to my hubby for the awesomely addictive gift!  I have learned how to make this cube as my first trick.  It's actually harder than it looks!  You have to create this sheet:

Then you fold the sheet into a cube.  Pretty slick, eh?  Here's a video on how to build the cube:

Hubs also brought me a new book on how to make all different shapes called The Big Book of Bucky. I'm so looking forward to it!  

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Easy Peasy DIY Photo Studio

I've been trying to improve my photos for this blog, and desperately want to buy a light box and some full spectrum lights for my shoots.  My friend inspired me to find DIY light box recipes online, and voila, here is one that diffuses the light and is made with stuff that is lying around the house and/or really cheap to purchase.  Now, how long will it take me to conjure the energy to make this simple box?  Hmmm...

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Beer Battered Cod

Since our trip to Portland, the hubby has been craving the amazing fish and chips we had from The Frying Scottsman.  I am still perfecting the batter, but here is my recipe in progress from last night's meal.  It came out pretty tasty, and we finished almost 2lbs of cod between the two of us, so that's sayin' something.

Beer-Battered Cod 


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling on onion rings and fish
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • egg
  • 3/4 cup (half a 12-oz. bottle) medium-bodied ale (such as New Belgium's Fat Tire)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 pounds skinless cod fillets, rinsed and cut into 2- by 4-in. pieces
  • lemon, cut into eighths


  • 1. Whisk flour, baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, pepper, egg, and beer in a large bowl.
  • 2.  Heat oil to 375°.  Add fish to batter and turn to coat well. Cook fish in hot oil, turning and holding down as needed, until deep golden brown, about 7 minutes. Drain on rack and sprinkle with salt.
Serve with malt vinegar and tartar sauce, if you like.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Caponatarama- Updated below!

Sicilian Caponata on Crostini

Another of my edible favorites is the italian Caponata dish that my mother-in-law makes as an appetizer or a side dish.  She was kind enough to share the recipe with me, and now I share it with you.

Caponata can be served either hot or cold, and either by itself or on a crostini (see crostini recipe below).  I find the caponata tastes best when marinating and blending flavors in the fridge for a few days, so I end up serving it cool, sometimes on crostini but mostly just shoveled into my mouth with a giant sigh of happiness.

Sicilian Caponata


1   eggplant
1/2 cup olive oil
1   onion, sliced
2   sweet red peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
2   sticks celery, sliced thickly
1 lb canned plum tomatoes
2  tablespoons red wine vinegar
1   tablespoon sugar
1   clove garlic, crushed
12 jumbo stuffed green olives
12 jumbo black olives, pitted
2   tablespoons capers (reserve liquid)
ground black pepper to taste


1. Cut the eggplant in half and score the cut surface.

2. Sprinkle with salt and leave to drain in a colander or on paper towels for 1 hour. ***See note below***

3. Rinse, pat dry and cut into 1 inch cubes.

4. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the onion, peppers and celery.  Lower the heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the eggplant and cook a further 5 minutes.

5. Cut the tomatoes open and remove the seeds.  Dice the tomatoes and add the flesh and the pulp and liquid from the can to the vegetables in the sauté pan.

6. Add the remaining ingredients except the olives and capers and cook for a further 2 minutes.

7. Slice the green olives into four equal slices perpendicular to the pimento and the cut the black olives in quarters and add to the vegetables with the capers.

8. Simmer, uncovered, over moderate heat for about 7 minutes to evaporate most of the liquid.  (Make sure not to overcook, you still want the eggplant to have a shape and not be mush.)  Adjust the seasoning, adding liquid from capers to salt.  Mix in approximately 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper or to taste.  

9. Serve hot or cold.  Again, I will strongly advise you to let this at least sit overnight.  The blending of flavors makes this dish sing, and by eating this right away, you will lose that savory flavor.  Each day it sits and blends, it gets more flavorful, however getting this to last more than a day or two is a challenge.

Serves 6

***Note:  When salting the eggplant, I place two heavy plates on the backs of the halves, and put the eggplant face down onto some paper towels so the liquid is forced out.  I let them sit for about an hour, which you can use as time to prep your other ingredients.  After an hour, I rinse the salt from the top of the eggplant with a little water and pat dry, pressing gently down on the meat of the eggplant as I dry to remove any excess water still inside.  This removes any bitterness from the eggplant.  As eggplants age and grow big, the water inside is what makes the eggplant bitter.  It is not necessary to salt small eggplants such as the Japanese eggplant as they are not bitter and do not require the moisture to be removed.

Crostini Recipe 
Simply bake 12 half-inch slices of ciabatta, rub them with a cut clove of garlic, drizzle it with olive oil, and season it with salt and pepper. 
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta bread, cut into 1/2- inch slices
  • good quality, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • salt and ground black pepper
Toast your slices of ciabatta in a 400-degree oven for 7-12 minutes or until golden brown, or use a grill until golden brown. While they’re still hot, rub them gently with the cut side of the garlic, just two swipes of a garlic clove over the top of each crostini, drizzle with good-quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.  Finish with a scoop of caponata or your favorite topping.

***UPDATE:  I have submitted this recipe as October's YBR submission.  For more information of what YBR is, click on the button below which will take you to Spicie Foodie's site:

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Who you gonna call?


My hubby was driving past the Ghostbusters fire house in Manhattan and got a blurry shot while zipping by in his car.  I decided to add a few items and post it to my blog in honor of the ORIGINAL GHOSTBUSTERS coming back into theaters this month.  Yes, you read that right.  Please bring your children, this is an opportunity not to be missed!

For local listings, check out this app from the Official Ghostbusters Facebook page.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Homemade Boba!

Bubble Tea Boba

Today the ingredients from boba tea direct came so I can make my very own boba at home!

My husband is an addict of the honeydew flavored bubble tea, so I ordered the honeydew powder online at the link above, plus the oversized straws and of course the large sized tapioca pearls.  I was a bit apprehensive about getting the pearls that take 30 minutes to cook, but now they have minute pearls!  All you have to do is boil some water and stir in the tapioca pearls for 5 minutes, rinse in warm water and strain.  To make them have a sweet flavor you can put them in a container with some sugar water or sugar syrup or honey.  They keep for up to 6 hrs, so only make enough to use the same day they are cooked.
Just a side note- if you happen to be lucky enough to have an asian grocery by you, check to see if they sell the minute pearls.  Many people have had luck finding them at their local asian grocer.  I am just lazy and haven't had time to go looking yet.

When I accompanied my DH to Portland, Oregon this month for a work conference he was attending, we got one day to walk around and experience the Portlandness of Portland.  We strolled by a cute little boba/yogurt shop and stepped in for some refereshing boba.  I have never had "Popping Boba" before but what a treat!!

These little bubbles are replacements for tapioca pearls in the bubble tea.  Instead of a chewy consistency, they are like little grapes full of liquid that "pop" open when you suck them up the straw and into your mouth, releasing in this case a strawberry flavor that adds to the flavor of the tea.  You can use them as a topping for ice cream as well, and I'm sure there are tons of other uses for them.  My favorite flavor by far is the strawberry popping boba.  A huge plus to using these instead of tapioca pearls is you don't need to cook them.  They are pre-made fruity boba bliss.  I had mine in a peach flavored bubble tea mix, and it was delish!  My DH had Honeydew flavored tea mix with mango popping boba, and it was good but not nearly as yummy as mine.  Boba tea direct sells these Popping Bobas by the bucket but they are so new and so popular, it is out of stock before they can list them online!  You can sign up for the backordered list if you want to by contacting them through their email form online.

Here is the recipe for making the minute black pearls:

Cooking Minute Pearls for Bubble Tea:

1/2 cup Minute Pearls
4 cups water

(Makes enough for 2 16 oz bubble teas)

1) Boil water in a large pot.
2) Add in the Minute Pearls to boiling water.
3) Stir initially to prevent Minute Pearls from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The tapioca pearls should float in the water.
4) Boil for about 5 minutes with the cover on.
5) Rinse the cooked Minute Pearls in warm water and drain out the water.
6) Cover the cooked pearls with *sugar water to give them a sweet flavor.

*Sugar water:
Boil 2 cups water and add 3/4 cup white sugar.  When sugar is dissolved, set water aside to cool.

To make the bubble tea mix, I purchased the honeydew flavored all-in-one mix and followed the directions that came with the package, which is as follows:

Preparation: (For 16 oz serving)
1) Scoop desired amount of Tapioca Pearls, and/or Coconut Jelly and/or Choobees into your serving cup.
2) Put 2 to 3 ounces (4-6 Tbsp) of All-In-One mix in your cocktail shaker or blender (for ice-blended drinks).
3) Add 6 to 8 ounces of water to dissolve the powder.
4) Add 1 cup ice (or desired amount) to cocktail shaker or blender until the blended mixture comes up to 2 cups (16 oz serving).
5) Pour over your texture components.

Don't forget to serve your boba with an oversized straw so you can slurp up the tapioca pearls!

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Buffalo-Style Hot Wings

Buffalo wings

Tonight's dinner: Buffalo wings with creamy bleu cheese dressing and a salad.  For dessert, a slice of homeade blueberry pie and a cup of iced Strawberry Bliss tea brewed fresh from my loose tea stash.  What more can you ask of an evening?

I am constantly craving finger foods, the kind you would find in bars like potato skins and buffalo wings.  Tonight I decided to finally tackle the short learning curve and make my own buffalo wings.  Being from NY, I wanted to make the authentic wings that originated in Buffalo, NY.  Alton Brown came to the rescue with this authentic recipe sans the deep frying since this is adapted for the home.

First, a little lesson on the anatomy of the chicken wing:

My whole life, I had thought there were these tiny chickens running around that were specifically grown for the purpose of hot wings, having tiny legs for the drum sticks part of hot wings and tiny wings.  Now that I've been educated by my brief google search, I know the standard chicken wing is cut into three parts, the tip, which is discarded or saved to boil into chicken stock, the Wingette, which is the two boned portion of the wing, and the drumette, which is the tiny chicken leg like portion of the wing.  When sharing a portion of hot wings, usually there is someone who loves the drumette and someone who loves the wingette, creating hot wing harmony.  If we ever find ourselves sharing wings, I prefer the drummette as it is so much less messy to eat.

Now that we've got that cleared up, the recipe is as follows:


  • 12 whole chicken wings
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt



Place a 6-quart saucepan with a steamer basket and 1-inch of water in the bottom, over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.  Remove the tips of the wings and discard or save for making stock. Using kitchen shears, or a knife, separate the wings at the joint. Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes.

Remove the wings from the basket and carefully pat dry. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Replace the paper towels with parchment paper. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.
While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter in a small bowl along with the garlic. Pour this along with hot sauce and salt into a bowl large enough to hold all of the chicken and stir to combine.
Remove the wings from the oven and transfer to the bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve warm.

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