Cooking with (and for) Friends

Since I got somewhat good news about my hand, I’ve been wearing my splint less and finally cooking more. I tested out a few recipes I found online this weekend (and experimented with some of my own) and thought I’d share!

My friend Anna has started a new tradition recently — Sunday night dinner. She cooks out of a Russian cookbook her mom gave her (she’s Russian), and everyone else brings dishes to share too. It’s been a fun way to try out new recipes and stuff myself to capacity every Sunday night. Oh, and other people besides T-Man get to benefit from my cooking for once 😛

We’ve also been talking about even doing some kind of “secret ingredient” challenge where we all have to do new and different things with the same ingredient. How cool, right? My inner Iron Chef nerd was totally nerding out at the idea. On the same ticket, another friend of mine recently told me she does a regular Pasta Night with her girl friends. Everyone brings a different kind of pasta dish (or salad, or bread, etc).

When you’re in your 20’s and just starting a career and really living on your own for the first time like my friends and I are, I think we’re all inclined to just whip up a frozen dinner or salad or get take-out every night when we get off work before we go to hang out with our friends — usually at bars over a drink or two. Why not use homemade meals as a way to hang out? It saves you money, is healthier, and you’ll actually be able to have a conversation, rather than yelling over the background music at the bar!

The first 2 of these 4 dishes were brought to Sunday Dinner last week (and joined Anna’s avocado fries and cheesy potatoes, Kristen’s salad, and Jeff’s beer and pasta salads….the meals are always super random FYI). The rest were just for fun!

Jalapeno-Lime Hummus by me

This was totally a throw-whatever-you-have-in-the-food-processor kinda thing. But it turned out great! I’m definitely going to make it again and take notes this time, plus make some tweaks to make sure it’s perfect before I share the recipe. 🙂

Sriracha Caramel Corn from Baker by Nature

Holy crap, right? This one was a bit of a challenge, as not only had I never made caramel before (not very hard, BTW!) but also, our microwave is busted so I had to pop the corn on the stove, which I had never done.

After one unsuccessful try…

I added more oil, decreased the heat, didn’t touch the pot, and wound up with:

A perfect batch!

Next was the caramel.

It actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, but it took a lot of whisking. The tricky thing about caramel is that it burns really easily.

The finished product (um, ignore the mess). I mixed in hazelnuts — SO good! The sriracha isn’t evident when you first taste the caramel corn, but it’s got a pretty strong sriracha-y aftertaste. I added the full 2 tablespoons of sriracha, but it was a bit overwhelming to most people, so if I make it again I will definitely tone it down!

Chana Masala (with lentils) from Let It Brie

Have I told you guys about Indi’s blog and YouTube channel? Letitbrie is a YouTube cooking show. I wish I had known what an amazing chef and baker Indi was when I lived below her in college, because we would have been hanging out MUCH more often. Anyway, I advise you to check out her site, and especially her recipe for Chana Masala. I made it with lentils (which I think technically means it is Daal Masala?), but it was incredible. Luckily, my roommate had all the necessary spices (see above).

I made a huge pan of it, and it was enough for me to eat for dinner, then in two lunches! For lunch I ate it up in a tortilla…I know I know, totally a not-authentic typical white person thing to do, haha. Long story short, it was delicious.

Breakfast Tostada…for dinner by me

Tortilla loaded with potatoes sauteed with onions, red & green bell peppers, as well as salsa, pepper jack, and a fried egg & green onions on top. Holy crap. I made too many potatoes so T-Man got the leftovers, but in his I started with a layer of homemade tortilla chips, then all the same things plus a chopped up jalapeno sausage.  Holy crap times 2.

I am so glad it’s the weekend! It was a crazy week at my office. No bosses in today, so I’m going to set aside my work and crack this monstrous thing open:

Yup that’s right. First I geek out Iron Chef-style, now I show you that I’m reading a Julia Child biography. Food nerd fo lyfe. While we’re at it, I’m gonna admit to you all that I am one of the suckers who bought a new iPhone 5 at midnight last night and now I won’t get it until October 4th because they’re back-ordered. Womp womp. Nerd Katie OUT!