A Christmas lamb & mushroom orzo

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My family has a traditional “special” meal during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, which usually consists of seafood. This year, we decided to have a go at boneless leg of lamb since the demo station at Costco had excellent samples. They had a very simple recipe – sauteed cubes of lamb with Montreal steak seasoning. We bought the smallest leg we could find – 3.5 lbs for $15.

Montreal steak seasoning was one of those items we didn’t want to buy because we’d never use it again, so I decided to make my own since we had all the spices in the house. Some seasoning, olive oil and soy sauce made a delicious marinade. Most of the effort was in cutting up the leg of lamb and removing all the fat.

The marinaded cubes of lamb were sauteed in a wok over medium heat for ~10 mins until they were medium. Delicious, especially paired with my favorite mushroom orzo! I was pretty proud of my holiday meal, especially since this was the first complete meal I had made for my family.

Buttermilk waffles & variations

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The most used kitchen appliance in my house, next to the stove, is the waffle iron. My roommate loves to mass make waffle batter, store it in a container in the fridge and have fresh waffles every morning. Over Christmas, I made buttermilk waffles twice from Cook’s Illustrated “The Best Buttermilk Waffles” recipe. I prefer to make waffles ahead of time and then pop them in the toaster for an extra crispy exterior the morning I eat them.

Waffle variations are pretty easy to make. To finish off the carton of buttermilk, I made a second batch of waffles with blueberries. Delicious, but hellish to clean off

Chicken tikka masala with potatoes

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My favorite Indian dish is tikka masala because I love rich, creamy foods that have a hint of spice. When I moved to San Francisco, the Costco’s in the area started carrying Maya Kaimal Indian sauces, which included a quart of tikka masala. Most recently, they renamed it to butter masala. Still the same sauce though.

The tikka masala is very easy to prepare – start some rice in the rice cooker, boil some potatoes until they are soft, lightly sautee some chicken until it is half cooked, pour in the tikka masala sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thicker.

I used baby russet potatoes which have a soft, creamy texture that mixes well with the chicken and rice. A quick meal after work!

Frosted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

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Dark chocolate cupcakes from recipe, with no changes. I follow Cooks Illustrated almost religiously; they have never done me wrong with a recipe. It’s worth the $35/year subscription.

The batter came out with the consistency of chocolate mousse and I wanted to eat it right then!

Frosted using Wilton Star Tip #1M. I’ve never used the star tip before, but I was inspired by the cupcakes I see at cupcakeries with the huge mound of frosting swirled in the middle. I’m not a fan of too much frosting to cover up the taste of a cupcake, especially considering the quality ingredients that went into this cupcake. The frosting is a faint pale pink because I accidentally dropped a drop magenta food coloring into the frosting.

Leek Potato Soup & Shitake Mushroom Pizza

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The leek potato soup was surprisingly flavorful despite having only 3 base ingredients: leeks, potatoes and vegetable broth.

Changes I made:

  • Used a can of broth in addition to 1 qt
  • Used only ½ c. of buttermilk
  • Generously salt and peppered the soup when in bowl

Shitake mushroom pizza used fresh shitake mushrooms from the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market ($4 for a box), Trader Joe’s pizza dough that I bought a few months ago and had in the freezer, generous amounts of mozzarella because my friend loves cheese, the perfect amount of tomato sauce.