That Duck Burrito Video…

Writer’s block still has me in it’s grip, which means there’s plenty of time to experiment in the kitchen.

Duck is one of my favorite meats. It’s tender and delicious. I’ll panfry it, rotisserie it, chop it up for stir fry, coat it in almond flour…I’ve yet to find bad way to cook it. Shredded duck meat in butternut squash soup? Check. Confit? Check. (Note: I haven’t made duck confit, but I’ve had it out…totally fabulous.) Peking Duck? I haven’t had it in a few years, but I thought it was delicious.

I also have a severe weakness for tortillas. I’m not a big fan of eggs, but put them in a tortilla and I’m ready for a breakfast burrito.

When I saw this video on Buzzfeed for a Peking Duck inspired burrito yesterday, I knew I had to make it. I made a few substitutions here and there, and I wasn’t sure the duck would be filling enough on it’s own, so I made my quinoa version of “fried rice” to go with it. We ended up with way too much food, but at least there’s left overs for lunch tomorrow.

Here’s my adjusted recipe for the Peking Duck inspired burritos. It was easy and delicious and way too much food for two, but perfect for dinner and a lunch!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds of duck breast meat (breast off-cuts work great and are affordable if you can find them)
  • scallions
  • cucumber (a few slices)
  • soy sauce
  • Mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
  • garlic (6 cloves)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • sesame oil
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Flour tortillas

I marinated the duck breasts with a splash of soy sauce, Mirin, and a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic, and I let the breasts sit while I cooked my quinoa and veggies.

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I poured a splash of sesame oil and olive oil into a frying pan on medium high heat and put the meat in the bottom of the pan for a few minutes before turning it over and cooking the other side.

While the duck cooked, I sliced scallions and cucumber into thin strips. I’m not a huge fan of cucumber and next time, I would probably just trade it for extra scallions, though as I mentioned before, that might be because I’d put scallions in absolutely anything.

I heated up the tortillas in the microwave for about 15 seconds, and my duck burritos were ready (some assembly required).

For my quinoa stir fry, I cooked more or less the same vegetables as I did earlier this week, except I substituted ginger for the bell peppers tonight. When the duck was done, I threw the quinoa and veggies into the pan where the duck had been cooking and scraped the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Delicious.

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Once we got to the table, we assembled our “burritos.”

  1. Slice pieces of duck into manageable bites.
  2. Spread a little Hoisin sauce over the warm tortilla.
  3. Put a little scallion and cucumber on either side of your meat.
  4. Roll up and enjoy!

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The original recipe called for rice in the burrito, but I’m not the world’s biggest fan of rice (and it comes out terribly when I cook it). I ended up with fairly small flour tortillas at the store, so it worked out perfect to put my quinoa and veggies on the side.

This dish is definitely going to be repeated. Happy Friday!

 

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Spring is Coming

As mild as this winter has been around here, I have to admit, I’m ready for spring. Naked trees and dead grass just never quite feels right to me.

I haven’t updated here in a while, but that’s mostly because I’ve been busy making things.

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I will admit, that the original story I’m working on hasn’t quite been receiving the love that it should. I think I’m going to try writing some short stories set in the same world to help me flesh out the world my characters are playing in. I absolutely love the world I’m exploring there, I just haven’t discovered everything there is to know yet.

My kitchen has been missing me the last few weeks. After a disastrously bad butternut squash soup, I’ve been a little afraid to venture forth into experimental cooking again. I’m going to admit it: I improvised and it went badly. I was out of the chicken stock that the recipe called for, so I substituted beef broth. A normal butternut squash soup made with chicken broth has a lovely, appealing orange color. Butternut squash soup made with beef broth tends to look like something I’m not sure I’d even feed to my cat. And in my attempts to doctor it up and make it more appealing, I added cayenne. Not just a little cayenne, or a moderate amount of cayenne, but so much that in the few spoonfuls of soup I attempted to power through and eat required several glasses of water and still left my mouth burning. If anyone wants to recommend another butternut squash soup recipe, I’ll give it another try. I’ve had it out at restaurants and thought it was fantastic, but my own missteps have made me a little wary.

While I haven’t been cooking lately, I did go back and add an epilogue onto my first Dramione story and make a lot of progress on other stories in my queue. The other thing I’ve been doing is getting back into 3D printing. I can take apart and reassemble a 3D printer like it’s nobody’s business, but I haven’t spent a whole lot of time developing my CAD skills.

To easy myself back into the printing process, I scoured YouMagine.com and Thingiverse for some designs that looked fun. I have to tell you, I’m going to have the BEST Christmas ornaments next year. I found a lot of useful tools like an SD card organizer, and some slightly less than useful tools like the tape dispenser I printed. In all fairness, the dispenser printed beautifully, and fits great with a roll of tape. The edge just isn’t quite sharp enough for cutting tape. However, I like it so much, I’m half-tempted to put some sort of blade on the edge and keep it on my desk.

One of the things I find most fascinating to print are the articulated models that print as a single piece but actually have moving parts.  There’s a heart-shaped box that opens up that you can see in the picture up top, and an elephant whose legs and head all move. The elephant was really amazing–it needed absolutely no clean up and moved fine as soon as I’d pried it off the glass bed. If you want to see the little fellow in action, here’s a short video clip of me moving the legs and head. I’ve got a whole bunch more things I want to print this week, so stay tuned.

I also did finally brave the CAD world. My results aren’t exactly going to win me any design prizes, but it’s a start. I started playing around with TinkerCAD, which is so far the most intuitive of the free CAD software I found. I used it to make a flat bottomed butterfly.

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You could use the butterfly by itself–maybe put a magnet or hairpin on the back of it if you wanted to do something useful with it. In an effort to find something to do with my butterfly, I remixed a basic business card holder that was under the Creative Commons license and used MeshMixer to put my butterfly on the front of the business card holder and voila! A new thing was born and available for download.

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I’m going to try braving some of the other CAD programs and see what I come up with. Wish me luck!

Cooking with Baby Bellas

Well, I’ve been pretty busy making things lately. I’m making 3D printers pretty much every day. I’ve tried a handful of new recipes including marinated mushroom and sweet potato tacos this week and baked mushroom baozi earlier in the month. I’ve managed to update my fan fiction and am finally writing the crucial scene I know many of my readers have been waiting for. I’ve also finally gotten myself to write another flash fiction for ThanInVain‘s Flash Fiction Challenge. The prompt was just too good to pass up and I found myself with a little time tonight, so let’s start with that.

Prompt: A woman’s cat goes missing. Two days later she receives a ransom note.

Catnapped

Ellen Helmsby shrugged out of her overcoat and settled into her chair, heedless of the layers of cat fur. She squirted a little hand sanitizer into her palm to her to rid her hands of the metallic smell of dealing with other people’s coins all day.


She clucked her tongue behind her teeth and waited for Tire to materialize for their pre-dinner cuddle. She’d tell him about her day and he’d purr and life would be just a little bit better. Then she’d open a packet of food for him, and put a TV dinner in the oven for herself.


But cluck and call as she might, Tire didn’t come. She got down on her creaking knees calling out to him under the bed. Finally she was reduced to swearing at the damn cat to show up. He didn’t. She sat in the chair all night.


The next day, cars honked as she gave people the wrong change or or her mind drifted. Her supervisor thought the exhaust fumes might be getting to her head and sent her home. A note, in purple crayon, was wedged under the door.

Deer Cat Lady,
My bruther loves your cat. He wants it, but can’t rite. He’s 4. If you give me a bazillion $ I’ll steal it back. But it has to be a bazillion or I can’t, cuz he’ll cry when I take it.

Ellen heard the hedges rustle and saw the grubby six year old from next door watching her.

Being a cat person myself, I couldn’t resist the prompt and I’m glad I gave it a go. It feels good to be writing.

I’m trying to lead a more healthy life-style, and building printers all day is certainly a lot more physically active than my last job. I’m also trying to be mindful of healthier new recipes and fewer sweets. So far, it’s working. However, there’s an amazing frozen custard shop not far from where I work, and I want some…right now. However, I’ve got some very good motivation for wanting to get healthier right now. I’m looking forward to a long life with the man I love, and I want to be healthy.


The marinated mushroom and sweet potato tacos were absolutely delicious. I’m not going to lie, I ate several and they were all gone before I could take a picture of them. One lingered on someone else’s plate (the tortilla got a bit burnt) and I did manage to snap a picture of that before it too disappeared. 

Marinated Mushroom and Sweet Potato Tacos

I cut and cooked the sweet potatoes the night before, so they weren’t as crisp as I could have hoped, but they were delicious and it saved me an hour of prep-time right before dinner, which was good since by the time I get home, I’m pretty hungry. I used baby bella mushrooms and topped it all off wit a little cheese, sour cream, and green onions. I always keep a container of sliced green onions in the freezer to add to meals. They keep for ages and defrost almost instantly when I add them to any dish.


A few weeks ago, I watched the new reboot of Sailor Moon that just launched. I then followed it up by indulging in a few of the classic episodes as well. I remember watching the original episodes on television as a kid in the morning when I got ready for school. I think there’d usually be an episode of Sailor Moon for me in the morning, and an episode of Mighty Max for my brother. Eventually Sailor Moon only aired on cable, and my family didn’t get cable until I was in middle school, so I missed out on most of the later seasons.

Watching it recently I was surprised as how much I remembered and still felt familiar, but I was also delighted by what I didn’t remember. I’d forgotten that Serena/Usagi tends to eat a lot. One of the things she was snacking on was stuffed pork buns, which I remember as a delicious treat from my time in Taiwan. 

Usually stuffed pork buns are steamed, but as I don’t have a steamer at the moment, I specifically wanted to find a recipe for baked buns. I toyed with the idea of barbecue baked pork buns, but the recipe I found was for mushroom baozi, and I am so glad I found it.

I don’t have much experience baking, particularly with making dough from scratch. This recipe called for me to make the dough and give it an hour or two to rise, but I was going to be working and didn’t want to delay dinner by two hours or more once I got home, so I made the dough and let it rise over about 8 hours in the fridge (it turned out great).

It still took longer than I was expecting when I got home to roll the dough out into pieces and put the filling inside, but it was totally worth it. Most of the baozi I made were the mushroom recipe I found on the website, but I also made a handful with shredded pork from the crockpot and barbecue sauce. 

The mushroom ones actually turned out best (I didn’t use enough barbecue sauce, so the pork ones were a bit dry). I wasn’t real sure about being able to seal them up well, so I put them together upside-down. 

Mushroom Baozi

I also should have rolled out the dough a bit thinner, and maybe added a little more salt, but I will definitely repeat this recipe. 


So, there you have it. I haven’t been blogging as much as I should, but I’ve certainly been making things, and more than keeping busy. There’s always more to get done and more to learn. Are there any other recipes you’d suggest using mushrooms? Baby Bellas are my favorite. Any advice for loosening hand muscles after building something all day? 

Casserole Creation: Chicken Cordon Bleu

I’ve finally tried a new recipe again for the first time in ages. I’ve been itching to try this one since a friend of a friend posted a link on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I gathered up most of the ingredients, and then had the last one dropped in my lap this week, so it was time to try it. Are you ready? Chicken Cordon Bleu casserole. I guess it wasn’t a surprise; the title of this post probably gave it away.

Chicken cordon bleu was one of my favorite dishes growing up. My mom and aunt would both make it for me on special occasions, sometimes with fresh cut french fries. Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard. They’re both excellent cooks and I’ve adopted a number of their recipes. For my college graduation party they even made two hundred mini-chicken cordon bleus for me, because it was my favorite. No surprise, they were a big hit and disappeared pretty quickly. I don’t even want to know how many I ate. Mom, Auntie, if you’re reading this, I love you both. Chicken cordon bleu (made from scratch, NOT the nasty frozen kind) is delicious, but it’s a lot of work. Pound the breasts (or tenders if you’re making minis), coat them in egg, and bread crumbs. Roll them up with swiss cheese and ham inside, pin them shut with toothpicks, fry them, and then bake them in the oven. I’m exhausted just writing it, so as delicious as it is, it’s not something I make terribly often. When I saw this casserole recipe, I knew I had to try it.

Let me just say I have very little experience with casseroles. I had a vague notion that casseroles are a one pan meal, so it must be quick and easy to throw together. Quick and easy cordon bleu? Yes, please, and seconds. The only other time I’ve really attempted to make anything in a  casserole dish was the spinach and sweet potato gratin I made last year adapted from a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen.

This wasn’t quick and easy, but it was well worth the effort. I filmed the cooking process tonight and will finally be updating my YouTube channel. I used Terri’s recipe I found on TastyKitchen and made a few modifications. I’ve learned to check out the comments on food blog posts before attempting the recipes I find and I’ve found some great advice, so I tried to incorporate it into my dish tonight.

I’m picky about meat and as anyone who has eaten with me will tell you, I don’t particularly relish the task of separating meat from bone and cartilage, so instead of stripping a rotisserie chicken, I baked several chicken breasts the night before with a little salt, pepper, and garlic, shredded them when they came out of the oven, and stuck the chicken in the fridge. For the ham, I used Easter dinner leftovers I’d been given, rather than a package of deli ham. It was delicious.

Shredded chicken

 

When I got home from work tonight I buttered my casserole dish, and piled in the chicken, then put a layer of ham on top. I used shredded swiss cheese instead of sliced because…well, I had it.


Ham and Chicken

I was actually really pleased with the sauce. Based on the comments on the original posting on the recipe I decided to use half the amount of salt, and significantly less milk. I used skim rather than whole milk, and only used 2 cups of milk instead of the 3.25 that the recipe called for. I also replaced the mustard with garlic. I loath mustard. My feelings towards mustard can only be rivaled by my feelings towards pickles–yuck. But garlic is a beautiful thing. As per the instructions, I melted 4 tablespoons of butter, slowly mixed in 4 tablespoons of flour to make a roux, added 2 cups of milk, and then my seasonings: lemon juice, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic. I let it heat for a while until it thickened and poured it over my dish. I taste-tested it and it was beautiful. This picture came out a little orange, but it was actually slightly pink, from the paprika.

Let there be sauce!

After that, all that was left to do was make the crispy topping. The recipe called for a cup and a half of panko bread crumbs, 6 tablespoons of butter, parsley, and seasoning salt. I used half panko bread crumbs and half Italian bread crumbs, and swapped out the parsley for spring onions. I skipped the seasoning salt altogether. I tried to get away with 4 tablespoons of melted butter to mix with the bread crumbs, but it really needed 6 for that many crumbs. And a little grated parmesan, just because it was left over in the fridge from chicken francese the other night.

Casserole Topping

I popped it into the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and sat down to wait. I’ll admit, by then I was pretty hungry. I was a little impatient and took it out 12 minutes early–it didn’t seem to suffer any harm from it except that maybe the topping wasn’t as crisp as it could be.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

What would you have paired with it? I went with baked potatoes because they were easy, but I’m thinking I might go with something a little lighter tomorrow–I’m open to suggestions. Yes, tomorrow. No I’m not cooking it from scratch again, I’m looking forward to the joy of leftovers. I can’t wait.

Upcoming projects/updates:

  • I have majorly slacked off on the Flash Fiction challenge. We’ll see if I go back to it. I do like it as a writing exercise quite a bit, but I may be a spectator for a while.
  • I’ve posted chapter 27 of my Dramione story, Law and Marriage . Chapter 28 is nearly ready and will be going up soon.
  • I Tweet. I resisted Twitter for a long time, but I’m planning to apply for the AmtrakResidency for writing, because it looks awesome, and they want whoever gets it to Tweet about the experience. Therefore I shall Tweet, because I intend to be on one of those trains. You can find me at @ErinWritesOn . I’m a bit torn between that and HiIMakeStuff for a handle. What do you think?
  • I recorded my casserole project tonight, so hopefully I will sit down and get a YouTube video up in the relatively near future.
  • And–I went back to the gym on Wednesday. I don’t even want to tell you how long it had been since I’d been there, but I lifted weights, and did a few minutes of stationary bicycle (I hate cardio). It felt great to get back under the barbell again and know I could still do it but man am I sore. But I’m going back tomorrow. My coworker and I have pinky promised on it, and you know that’s sacred.

Until next time, keep making stuff!

Checking In

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Hey, everybody!

I’m sorry I’ve been a bit absent the past few weeks. The good news: I’ve been involved in a pretty epic building project. It definitely feels like one of the coolest things I’ve ever made. The downside is that for the past week and a half, there hasn’t been time to do anything else. I wake up, go to work, cook dinner, and then work on my awesome project until bed. So, for the past week and a half, I haven’t managed to get hardly any writing done: no blog posts, no editing on my NaNoWriMo novel, and no update on my fan fiction.

What’s that you say? What’s my excuse for the other two weeks since I last updated?

Well, I was sick. I had the worst sinus infection I ever had. It made me dizzy, and uncomfortable, and hardly willing to sit up, much less think enough to function at work, or write when I came home. However, I’ve come to a crossroads now on what I’ve been working on the past 10 days and a little bit of a break. I wish I could tell you what I’ve been working on, but not yet. You’ll get a full accounting as soon as I can give it to you. Suffice it to say, it’s something I’ve never done before, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.

I’ve written a little bit of fan fiction tonight, so hopefully an update on that won’t be too far away, although a part that I wrote before I got sick will probably have to be rewritten. If only things came out right the first time, right?

I did experiment with a few new dishes in the kitchen, including the Baked Potato Grilled Cheese sandwich this weekend. It was pretty good, but it was a lot of work for first thing in the morning. However, it was enough food to fuel my creative endeavors until dinner time.

I’ve also fallen behind on Thain in Vain‘s flash fiction challenge. Coming up with the time to write 500 words in the span of a week may not seem like a lot, but under the circumstances, I just didn’t have two brain cells or enough time to manage it. I plan to make up the stories, but I’ll get there.

I’m sorry this post is so random and rather uninformative. More is coming, I promise. I can’t wait to tell you about what I’ve been working on. In the meantime, I hope you’re having an awesome week.


That's all folks.

 

How to Make Scallops and Puréed Parsnips (with Bacon Vinaigrette)

This is a favorite dish of mine for special occasions, though really the puréed parsnips and bacon vinaigrette are a delicious treat any time–I recently used the left over parsnip puré on top of a vegetable stew. This dish is based off this recipe http://somelikeitpaleo.com/home/2013/… from the “Some Like It Paleo” blog.

To save time, you can roast your parsnips the night before, or make the entire parsnip dish the night before and put it in the fridge. It reheats well in the microwave.