Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pub Dinner: Toad in the Hole

So, one thing we haven't mentioned on the blog yet is the ongoing Bales dinner competition. Before the broken jaw incident we started a weekly competition of cooking fun dinners. Each week we trade off and generally we eat off the fancy china, cause I mean, when else are you going to? Dinner competitions had a brief hiatus durring the blended food era, but now they are back! Here's my latest entry: 
Pub Dinner
Toad in the Hole
Roasted Onion Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Oven Roasted Salt and Pepper Carrots

For Toad in the Hole I had to search for a while to find the right recipe. I finally settled on Deliah's which turned out to be fantastic. You can find her recipe here. This week we skipped the fancy china since it didn't seem right to have pub food on china, don't worry though I'm sure the nice dishes will be out next week. :)

The finished product!

As I used Deliah's recipe without alteration I'm not reposting it here. However, since probably most Americans haven't made Toad in the Hole before (we sure hadn't) I'm including some pictures so you can see how it all goes together. :)

prepping onions

and carrots! (I used the recipe I posted earlier on the blog but omitted the dill and sliced the carrots in half lengthwise since they were larger carrots)

Everything arranged in the oven.

We got a good tip in England about making Yorkshire pudding (the bready part around the sausages). Basically you want about equal parts egg, milk and flour. In case converting Deliah's recipe makes your head feel bad, just try to get equal parts in the batter and you'll be fine (this is usually about 1/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup milk for an average sized egg). :)

this consistency is about right.

Make sure the pan and sausages are really hot before you put the batter in. There should be some bubbling hot oil on the bottom of the pan (add some if nothing came out of your sausages, and make sure to get it hot before adding the batter).

While everything is baking (takes about 30 min) you can prepare some mashed potatoes and finish making the roasted onion gravy.

I'm making gravy!!! 

you're not supposed to peak in the oven while it's baking (not good for the yorkshire pudding), but it's hard to resist.

The toads are done!

Salt and pepper carrots

Mashed potatoes!

I've never made gravy before, I'm so excited!!! It was just like real gravy! (probably because it was real gravy? Not sure why I feel like being able to make gravy is such a big deal...?)

Usually dinner competition nights call for wine, but somehow that didn't seem like a good match for this one. Instead, Nathan popped over to the local super posh grocery store to pick up some British beer. It turns out they had a pretty good selection. Both of the bottles he picked up were yummy and went pretty well with dinner.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Honey Ice cream with Warm Brandy Berry Syrup

We are starting to think about moving over here and that means getting eating our way through our cabinets and freezer. This recipe uses some frozen berries I bought at Costco durring the jaw fiasco, and also some brandy that we've had up in the cabinet for a while. The only problem is it's so good I think we might need to buy more brandy... hmmm...

mmmmmmmmm.......... :)


1/4 cup - brandy
2 cups - mixed berries (we used blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
3 Tbsp - sugar
1 tsp - vanilla
1 Tbsp - butter

Heat butter in the pan and add sugar. Mix together and then add berries, vanilla, and brandy.

Let simmer for 10 minutes or until berries break down a little and the sauce is thickened.

Let cool for 5 min and then serve over ice cream. :)

We used a Honey flavored greek yogurt ice cream that was super yummy. We weren't planning on buying it but it was on sale and right next to the ice cream we normally get. Super glad we decided to give it a try, it's super tasty!

...and one more picture of ice cream :)



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Veggie Sausage with Peppers

Over the weekend we spent a lot of time cooking and baking together. We had one vegetarian, so naturally we didn't cook any meat. You'd never know it by the pictures though, just look at that yummy dinner on the table!

that's not meat? are you sure?

Instead of using regular italian sausage we used Tofurky brand. It's been a long time since I've had veggie meat, I remember my first time was soy bacon back in the mid 90's... that was, interesting... 

Meatless sausage, tasty? or strange? we shall see!

It looks like meat in the package, and even when you cut it up it still looks like meat. The real test of course is whether it tastes like meat. We'll get there in a second. :)

hmmm, that looks just like regular sausage...

For this recipe we cooked the peppers, onion, garlic, and chili oil in one pan and browned the sausage in the other. Lisa said this is pretty important because with veggie sausage if you cook it too long with the veggies the texture can get a little rubbery.

cook cook cook

Here's a view of the stove with both pans going. We cooked the sausage in batches until the pieces were brown on each side. Meanwhile we had the peppers going in a pan in the back.

sizzle sizzle

Oh look! Here's some cute chefs!

When the onions begin to caramelize add the sausage pieces to the pepper mixture. Stir everything around and serve it up! (and yes, for those of you who are curious, the taste and texture was pretty close to regular sausage, I pretty much forgot that it wasn't real meat once we were eating). 

Yum! Dinner's ready!

3 - bell peppers (we used red, green, and yellow)
4 - cloves of garlic
1 - small onion
1 - package vegetarian italian sausage (or real italian sausage)
dash chili oil
1 - tablespoon olive oil

1. dice garlic and slice onions and peppers to make long thing pieces.
2. cut sausage into 1/3 inch wide pieces.
3. in a saucepan heat olive and chili oils and fry onions and peppers until they begin to caramelize.
4. in a separate saucepan brown sausages over medium heat.
5. combine sausage with the pepper mixture.
6. serve!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lisa's Blackberry Apple Pie

Lisa showed us how to make this fabulous pie last weekend in Mammoth. It was so so so good and is a supper yummy mix of berry pie and apple pie together. Lisa was awesome enough to share her recipe. I hope you'll enjoy it! I'm definitely making this again for me, uh... I mean... uh Nathan this week. :)

Also, in addition to making awesome pie, Lisa also makes awesome Android wallpapers, if that's more your speed check them out here. I recommend the rainbow one because it has a unicorn!!1!1!eleven!! 

Ok, back to pie now... :)

Start by mixing the flour, cinnamon and sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl.

next peel and dice the apples and mix with blackberries, lemon juice and vanilla

combine the flour mixture with the apple mixture and transfer to a crust lined pie pan.

dot with butter

Cover with top crust and sprinkle the top with Sugar, mmmmmmm....

Cut some slits and pop it in the oven for for 45 min at 425. To be safe we baked it on a baking sheet so that if the pie leaked it wouldn't get the oven all messy.




It's done!

let it cool (well... at least a little)

Serve up with vanilla ice cream and feel very happy. :)


- Pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie
- 2 granny smith apples (or other tart apples)
- 2 cups blackberries
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 cup sugar (filling) + 1 tablespoon sugar (topping)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons butter


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

2. Stir together flour, sugar, and cinnamon, and set aside

3. Wash, peel, and slice apples

4. Mix together apples, berries, lemon juice, and vanilla

5. Mix together dry and wet ingredients

6. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan and dot with butter

7. Cover with top crust, seal the edges, and cut slits in crust

8. Sprinkle top with 1 tablespoon sugar

9. Cover the edges with foil to prevent over browning; remove foil for the last 15 minutes of baking

10. Bake 45 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in crust

Thank you Lisa for this fabulous recipe!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mammoth girls weekend 2012

Several years ago the girls in my lab started a tradition of going to Mammoth Lakes every winter. This year we originally scheduled to go in February but had to re-plan at the last minute because it was right after Nathan's surprise surgery. Now that Nathan is recovered we were able to get together for a super wonderful girls weekend in the mountains. :)

one rule of girls weekend is that we always have to watch the most recent twilight movie. We've been doing this since the first movie and sone years have been more painful than others (but we're stubborn and it's tradition so we do it anyway). There is only one Twilight movie left after this one so we might be able to make a more prudent choice next time we sign up for a series of movies. The good news is this year's movie was quite a bit less painful than last year's (and I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I'm kind of excited to see the next one...). The rest of our time we spent coding, hiking, shopping, and cooking. Here's some photos from our trip (if you click on the pictures it should make them bigger).

Driving in that car, lots of Taylor Swift helped the drive go faster (I think it was about 8 hours long?) Sarah is my Taylor Swift sing-along buddy which made singing along way more fun.

You can take the girl out of the computer science department, but not the computer science out of the girl. Yes, we spent some quality time working on phone apps and building webpages.

Cuddly reunion, these animals get to see each other once a year. It was Bunnykins' first visit and she fit in perfectly.

While we were there we went on several hikes. Here's a photo of the gorgeous Convict Lake. We also went shopping which was also very fun but I didn't manage to get any pictures of it.

I found out my new phone has a panorama setting so here's my first try! Works decently well... although it has trouble with getting the exposure consistant (note left part of picture).

Sarah and Lisa with a giant tree!!! (also some weird exposure here, but at least you can see how big it is!)

Mystery trail we found, where does it go?... maybe we'll try it next year?

After all that hiking we headed over to the hot springs. Sarah and I had never been before and we had thought they'd be kinda gross and muddy, but it turned out they were really nice!

it was really warm, just like a hot tub! :D I think I could get used to this! (photo courtesy Sarah)

View from in the hot springs (photo courtesy Sarah). Way better than the view from the hot tub in our apartment complex (which is of the parking lot).

We had a really fun time, but soon it was time to start heading home. Little Babar and Bunnykins know to buckle up, safety first!! Bunnykins also had the presence of mind to remember to bring a carrot as a road trip snack, smart rabbit.

kinda sketch looking, but this place had awesome jerky. And even more importantly, a restroom. :)

Happy Trails!