Sunday, March 9, 2014

15 Things You Need To Make Anything You Want

My goal right now is to have my cupboards stocked with "everything I need to make anything I want at any time". This is, in fact, an achievable goal. Obviously, there will be time when you need to run to the store for some chicken or some other big ingredient, but I'm aiming for spices and other little ingredients that are always handy in any recipe. Therefore let me introduce:

Mikyn's List of Everything You Need To Make Anything You Want At Any Time! *List may vary depending on personal preferences

1. Flour
2. Sugar (wWhite and brown)
3. Salt and Pepper (Duh)
4. Normal baking ingredients (Baking powder, baking soda, vanilla)
5. Yeast (I just added this to my collection and now I'm all powerful!)
6. Corn things (corn starch, corn syrup, corn oil etc.)
7. Eggs
8. Butter (Duh, again)
Those are all the obvious basics. Now, we get to the tricky stuff
9. Limes (I can't tell you how many recipes call for limes/lime juice, especially when you make mexican food a lot)
10. Garlic (Again, TONS of recipes call for garlic, plus it's a great way to flavor almost any dish. I'm always stocked on garlic)
11. Onion (Either yellow or white are the best because they can go in almost anything and add a lot of flavor. Green are great too)
12. Cilantro (Probably the best herb EVER. We put it in everything)
13. Chicken broth or Chicken Stock (Always good to have on hand just in case. Bouillon cubes could work too)
14. Spice Rack - lemon pepper, curry powder, cumin, coriander, etc. (I have collected all my spices just by trying new recipes. It's great to experiment with different spices too)
And last but not least...
15. POTATOES!!!! (I love potatoes more than Doc sometimes, especially mashed with gravy, which is why he made them for me on V-day. But seriously, potatoes can be made so many different ways and I've even used them as a meat substitute - a sad substitute, but a substitute nonetheless)
I think it's worth it to stock up on things like this and even other, more random, ingredients because you never know when you'll need them. If I left anything out, please let me know.
Oh crap, I forgot #16 which is Top Ramen or Frozen Pizza because sometimes you just don't feel like cooking.

Tex Filipino

Today was Sunday and Sundays are kind of hit or miss with the cooking thing because you either planned ahead and bought something to make or you have abosolutely nothing in your fridge. Today was sort of a "miss" day. Lucky for the starving Doc, I like to think of new things to make. So, today I'm going to post about two recipes:

Cilantro Lime Rice and Pork Tocino!

So, once again, this isn't exaclty a first attempt. I have made the Cilantro Lime Rice (Cafe Rio Style) before, but I loved it so much and was definitely craving it. Maybe I should call this blog "Second Attempts" since that's all I've posted so far. Anyway, I found a rice recipe I really love online at which promises to be just like Cafe Rio. So, I tried it and I'll give you the recipe now:

Cilantro Lime Rice

2 c. rice (I always use Botan Calrose rice, but IDK why??)
4 c. water
1 chicken bouillon cube (the recipe says 2 tsp. but I think its the same)
2 tbs. butter
1 handful chopped cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced (I actually juice the lime and then throw it in the pot for a few minutes while it boils to soak up all the flavor
1/2 - 1 can diced green chiles (I used half today, but could have used the whole thing)

Basically, you just put everything in a pot, cover it, and wait til the water evaporates, then you mix it all up. You can use a rice cooker obviously, but some of us aren't so fancy. Not only do I not have a rice cooker, but I don't have any sort of kitchenaid or electronic mixer, a baster, and my husband STILL won't buy me a creme brulee torch, but I digress...
The rice ends out turning out really flavorful and a little mushy, but I actually like it like that for this recipe. Not only can you eat it by itself, it's great for Tex Mex dishes, but, like you'll see, you can use it for other things.

Which brings me to the next part of dinner: Pork Tocino. What the F is Pork Tocino you ask? Well, frankly I had no idea either. It was introduced to me by my husband who spent two years in the Phillipines and will randomly come home from the Asian market with a pack of Milkis or an entire box of Filipino ramen. The first time I tried it Doc made it for breakfast and, though I was skeptical, it ended up being really good. Basically, its carmelized pork. Usually, we eat it over white rice with a yolky egg to add some moisture to the rice. However, with the cilantro lime rice, it's already a little mushy and more flavorful. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Pork Tocino isn't a recipe!" It's really not, you just take the meet out of the package and put it in a pan with a little water, once the water evaporates you add a tbs. of oil and fry it till the meat starts to carmelize.

And the best part is, you don't even have to defrost it!

My husband never really tried the rice last time I made it (it was in a burrito) and his first comment was, "It almost tastes like there are diced green chiles in this." HA! There are, duh. Anyway, he loved it and I'm adding another WIN! to the pile.

Italian Sweet Bread

For my first official post I thought I'd start with what I'm making today: Italian Sweet Bread (via Laura and Kris Olson)

Now, this isn't exactly a "first attempt" because I've actually made this bread once before, a couple weeks ago. I'm attempting to make it again for a few reasons:
1. It was really addicting, we finished it in like three days
2. The bread wasn't actually as sweet as I though it would be, so I wanted to try a couple things on it
3. It's Sunday and I'm bored

I am a big experimenter in the kitchen. Meaning, I like to take a bunch of things that I think would taste good together and make something out of them. As my cooking knowledge has increased this has become more fun, as I can broaden my horizons a bit. Also, after watching all 8(?) seasons of Desperate Housewives, I learned that it could take years to perfect a recipe through experimentation. Thank you Bree and Katherine. I also have a HUGE sweet tooth. This is why I've decided to experiment a little on this Italian Sweetbread recipe.
Don't get me wrong, this first attempt was really good. This bread has an awesome texture; it's almost doughy in the middle which makes you keep eating it. It also tastes really good, especially with tons of butter. Not to mention that it's pretty simple to make, the first time I made this was my first time baking bread, ever.

This Original Recipe:

1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
5 t. yeast
1 1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
4 eggs
4-5 c. more flour

You mix the first four ingredients (1 c. flour - yeast). Then you warm the milk and butter in the microwave til the butter melts. Pour the milk and butter over the dry ingredients, mix. Add eggs and mix again. Then you just add 4-5 more cups of flour til it becomes a soft dough. You grease the dough, cover it, and let it rise for around 1 1/2 hours. Then you punch it down and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope, about 15 to 18 inches long and twist two together and join the ends. So, you end up with two twisted circles. Brush tops with egg whites and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Cover and let rise about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

So, as I began baking this time around, I already had some changes in mind:
1. I added about a quarter cup of sugar
2. I added two tsp vanilla before adding the additional flour
3. I added some coconut caramel sauce I had previously made
*Warning: As of yet, I'm not super familiar with how different ingredients affect the outcome of baked goods ie: More sugar???
Well, the second attempt went much like the first, except it took a lot longer for the dough to form. I ended up using probably 7 or 8 cups of flour. I also add a little vanilla to the egg whites I brush on top, but you can't really tell the difference. The new sweet bread actually does taste a little sweeter and the texture is the same, so I'm calling this one a WIN! I will probably keep experimenting with it. Cuz it's fun! (One other thing, bake the bread near the bottom of the oven, it doesn't get as dark.)

Picture of First Attempt


Hello! And welcome to a blog about a complete ameteur teaching herself how to cook (among other things)! I recently came up with the idea of blogging about my attempts and experiments with cooking because...

1. Everyone loves food
2. I come up with really weird stuff to serve to my husband as "dinner"
3. I'm usually pretty proud of what I come up with and want to show people

Thus, my cooking blog "First Attempts" was born!

A little background: I've been married to my husband, Doc, for about 6ish months now. While we were dating he would always tell me how one of the really important attributes he wanted his wife to possess was a love of cooking so she could make the family dinner a lot... When you're seriously dating someone and they tell you that they want their "future wife" to be good at cooking that's as good as saying, "You should probably learn to cook". Not that thats a bad thing... I mean, it was important to him that his future family spends a lot of quality time together. And if that means having to spend it around a pile of delicious food then so be it! I mean I've always been an okay cook, like I make top ramen for myself a lot. Following a recipe isn't really that hard, right? Right. It really helps that we received 3 cookbooks for our wedding, 1 for my birthday two months later, and 1 that Doc's sister, Laura, made for us recently (side note: Many of the recipes I use are from Laura's cookbook.) So, we're pretty stocked on cookbooks and recipes. Not only that but, in recent months, I've actually had the desire to cook. Crazy, I know.
I'm not sure if this will help anyone else on their pursuit of the big white hat or if anyone will simply find it entertaining, but without further ado, I give you: First Attempts.