Cooking and Composition

adventures in discourse and dinner

Miso Soup for One — April 30, 2013

Miso Soup for One

I seemed to have missed the window for prime soup eating time. I went all fall/winter and barely ate any. But today, when it was 80 degrees, I was really craving some miso soup. Partly because I just made this recipe a few days ago (without photography!) and it was so easy. It took maybe 15 minutes to whip together. That is my kind of supper!

miso cover

I found this recipe on Pinterest (of course), from Steamy Kitchen. Professional recipe developer, food columnist, and food photographer Jaden Hair said, “Though truthfully, the only part of this recipe that I follow is a) the miso soup base and b) cooking the ramen noodles. All other toppings in my Miso Ramen varies each time I make it depending on what’s in my refrigerator, as most times when I’m craving this dish it’s usually pretty darn close to midnight. Or 2am” — this made me feel pretty confident about being able to adapt this recipe to my particular (read: picky) tastes without being worried I would ruin it! The first time I made it, I used spinach, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, and edamame. It was good, but I left out the spinach this time–something about the texture of cooked spinach just didn’t work out for me. (AND this was the first time I had bought frozen spinach. . .I think I will be sticking with fresh from now on.)

But that’s another story for another day.

This recipe was so easy that today I made it from memory. This is saying something, because I don’t even remember how long I need to each up my Healthy Choice meals in the microwave. I have to look every time and then make a guestimate of how long I need to shorten it by! So this recipe really is simple if, after cooking it once, I only had to look up the measurements so that I could reduce them. Here is a handy image of my notes, just because I think it’s cute:

Notice how I originally rote "2/4" and then scribbled it out.
Notice how I originally rote “2/4” and then scribbled it out.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 TSP dashi granules
  • 1/4 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS miso paste
  • 1 serving dried ramen noodles
  • Veggies of choice

Making Miso for One

Please note that most of these steps overlap.

Step 1. Boil vegetable broth, dashi, and soy sauce. I started with vegetable stock bouillon-like stuff. Because the package said 1/2 cube to 1 cup water, I ended up making 2 cups of vegetable broth. This wasn’t a big deal. However, next time I will probably just buy pre-made veggie broth again. This batch had a much saltier taste, and the only real difference between the first time I made it and now was using vegetable broth bouillon instead of buying a can of broth itself.

Veggie bouillon waiting to boil.
Veggie bouillon waiting to boil.
Broth, dashi, and soy sauce makes a really nice goldy-brown color.
Broth, dashi, and soy sauce makes a really nice goldy-brown color.

Step 2. While your broth boils, cook up your vegetables. Be sure to squeeze out moisture. I used frozen veggies, and, since I’m lazy, I just heated them up in the mug I was planning to eat out of. After cooking the carrots and green beans in the microwave, I added some edamame and mushrooms.

Green beans and carrots, being frozen.
Green beans and carrots, in frozen state

Step 3. Boil noodles. The original recipe says to cook them in a separate pot and then let them hang out in the serving bowls. I didn’t want to have to clean two pans, so I just boiled them in the broth. I should also note that I didn’t bother measuring out what serving was. I just kind of eye-balled it because I love noodles.

I feel pretty fancy for having actual dried ramen noodles instead of the ramen I used to eat as a kid.
I feel pretty fancy for having actual dried ramen noodles instead of the ramen I used to eat as a kid.

Step 4. Stir in Miso Paste. After the broth has boiled/your noodles are all boiled up if you make ’em in the broth, stir in the miso paste and remove from heat. Apparently, miso can get really grainy if it’s overcooked, so you don’t want it to boil.

It doesn't look that different, does it?
It doesn’t look that different, does it?

Step 5. Prepare bowl. Make sure you have everything in your dish that you want. This mug is certainly not as pretty as the large bowl in the original recipe, but it does the job. Just add in the noodles and broth last.

With mushrooms and edamame added.
With mushrooms and edamame added.

Step 6. Beautiful miso ramen ready to eat! 

Ready to eat!
Ready to eat!
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Delicious Cheesecake Dip —

Delicious Cheesecake Dip

Last week, we celebrated Administrative Professionals Day in the English Department with a potluck–and let me tell you, I’ve always been bad at potlucks. It’s not that I’m a bad cook; I just rarely take the time to do the cooking. I’ve been known to bring such delicacies as Squeez-Its and juice boxes instead of actually cooking something.

So I did not want to be that person who came in with $5 worth of food they picked up last minute at the grocery store (because that’s usually me). I had initially decided to make this delicious baked spinach-mac and cheese thing, until I realized just how many I would need to make for the event and that, even if I did make them, I had no practical way to transport them from my kitchen to the department OR to keep them warm. Oh the conundrums.

Then I remembered this delicious looking dip I found on Pinterest (because let’s be honest, any cooking I do begins there or in the frozen food aisle): Easy Cherry Cheesecake Dip!

McBailey's Cherry Cheesecake Dip

Now I’ll be honest, anything with “easy” in the title is a pretty good start for me. And when you add in “cheesecake” I was pretty much sold. And, thanks to this picture, I realized I was reading The McBailey’s blog, not “Them C Baileys.” (What was I thinking?)

Honestly, this recipe was SUPER easy, and even kind of fun to make.

Ingredients for Cherry Cheesecake Dip

  • 7 oz. marshmallow fluff
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 2 8-oz. tubs of Cool Whip
  • 2 21-oz. cans cherry pie filling
  • 9×13 Serving Dish
ingredients
My ingredients looking delicious on their own. I used the store brand of everything because I’m a broke graduate student.

Directions

I tried to follow The McBailey’s recipe to a T. I’m not very confident in my non-recipe cooking abilities. I considered subbing a different kind of pie filling, and then decided against it at the last minute because I was worried it wouldn’t be as good.

1. Crush up your graham crackers to make a base! I used just under half the box, mixing them in batches in this cool little grinder thing I got for Christmas that I never I have a reason to use.

Cool grinder, about to do its thing.
Cool grinder, about to do its thing.

2. Put the crushed grahams into the bottom of the pan. I liked this step a lot because it didn’t require mixing them with butter and pressing them flatly into the bottom of the pan like the boxed cheesecake mixes I remember making as a kid. That was always my least favorite part. Instead, you just dump ’em in! Of course, you should try to smooth them out to a nice even layer. And may sure you don’t leave any of the pan shining through!

There's a little pan showing on the sides, but overall it worked well.
There’s a little pan showing on the sides, but overall it worked well.

3. Mix together the marshmallow fluff and cream cheese. You don’t need to use a mixer (which is sad, because I love using my KitchenAid!). I started off with a spatula, but it was kind of difficult until it got incorporated. I found a spoon worked the best, especially because it was easier to get the fluff out of the container (someone explain why the mouth of it is smaller than the bottom!).

Just stir it together really well.
Just stir it together really well.

4. Slowly add in the cool whip. Slowly is important. I used my spatula to get a nice scoop and then stirred until incorporated. Then I added more cool whip until I got through both tubs.

After cool whip, the mixture is super fluffy and delicious looking.
After cool whip, the mixture is super fluffy and delicious looking.

At this point, I had to taste the batter. I was skeptical that cool whip, marshmallow fluff, and cream cheese would taste like cheesecake. But it did! So delicious.

5. Pour into your crumbed pan. The McBailey’s passed along a super helpful tip. Ignore your intuition and start pouring into the pan on the sides. This will help you get a good covering and you won’t get all of your deliciously-crumbled graham crackers throughout the cheesecake layer.

Look how pretty! I would eat this whole pan as-is.
Look how pretty! I would eat this whole pan as-is.

Even following that advice, I still struggled a bit. I found it easier to use the spatula to “plop” scoops of the fluffy cheesecake layer into the pan. Then, once the whole pan was mostly covered, I used the remaining cheesecake layer to kind of smooth it out. It worked OK. I don’t think anyone noticed that some of the graham cracker crumbles slid around or got mixed into the cheesecake layer.

6. Top with your two cans of pie filling! I wasn’t sure I actually needed to cans, but it worked out well and created a yummy, enticing layer to the cheesecake. I’ve never been a fan of the cherries in the cherry pie filling, but I love the cherry goo, so I made a little side bowl I could snack on as I was making this.

Delicious Dip complete!
Delicious Dip complete!

Doesn’t that look great?

It tasted delicious, and I really hope it went over well at the pot luck. When I left, it looked like only a little bit had been eaten, but it was still pretty early.

All in all, this recipe was really easy to make. It took maybe 20 minutes, and I did it all standing at the kitchen table in my pajamas at 10 at night. I would definitely make this again, and enjoyed it so much I want to pass it along!

Baked Potato Slices —

Baked Potato Slices

I while ago, I bought some potatoes thinking I would make baked potatoes or mashed potatoes or some other kind of yummy potato deliciousness. But that never happened, and now, my potatoes are ready to be eaten, less they will get thrown away.

Inspired by this recipe picture pinned to my “All Things Potato” board (because, yeah, who doesn’t have an entire board dedicated to potato-related recipes?), I decided to make some baked potato slices:

Sure, they just look like potato slices. But they taste yumtastic!
Sure, they just look like potato slices. But they taste yumtastic!

First, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. I just guessed at this, and it happened to work out OK. I lined a baking sheet with foil (easiest. clean up. ever!) and sprayed it with some cooking spray. Then I sprinkled the sheet with salt, pepper, and some GrillMates Roasted Garlic and Herb seasoning. I sliced up a potato and arranged them on the sheet. Then,I topped them with a little butter and more salt, pepper, and seasoning.

It took about 18 minutes to get these “done” so that they were a little crispy looking but cut easily with a fork.

We scarfed these down probably a little too quickly. But they were a super easy snack to make and tasted so good, too! Maybe next time I will be a little more inventive with my toppings.