Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blueberry Buckle

 Some of the best ideas for meals come from having an overabundance of ingredient on hand.  This happens a lot in our house; today the magical ingredient is blueberries.  When Brian asked me, as he does every Sunday, what I wanted for breakfast I mentioned that we had a whole lot of blueberries in the fridge.  He headed to the internet and started searching.  Blueberry pancakes?  Nah....we had pancakes yesterday.  Coffee cake?  Hmmmm.....maybe.   How about a blueberry buckle?  What is a "buckle" exactly?? 

This cake is another one of Alton Brown's recipes....if Brian is making something there's a good chance the recipe is one of his!    Warm blueberries and a kick-butt crunch topping.  However,  now that I've had a buckle I'm still not sure what the difference is between a buckle and a plain 'ol coffeecake.  I guess the buckle is a bit softer, and it kind of "falls apart" when cut and requires a spoon to remove it from the pan.  Perhaps an email to A.B. will get that all sorted out, maybe he'll even feature buckles on a future episode of Good Eats!  :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Comfort Meals

Dinner the other night was one of my favorite comfort foods....chicken parmesan!  Breaded chicken cutlets fried in a little oil, topped with roasted garlic tomato sauce and mozzarella....MMM!!!  It doesn't get any better than this.

What's your favorite comfort foods?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blast from the Past

I love soda.  Especially Coke.  I used to be terribly addicted to soda, in college I had an insatiable Diet Coke habit.  I don't know...I started drinking it at an office I was temping at and next thing I knew, I was drinking a twelve-pack every day.  (Say it with me:  Wow that's a lot of Nutrasweet!)  The first thing I did every morning was buy a can from the dorm vending machine, and it was the last thing I'd sip at night.  Judging from my sleep habits back then, the caffeine was what was keeping me up and running at all times.  Imagine the headache from no caffeine when I gave it up cold turkey!  (I'd never do that again)

I wasn't always a Coke fan though, I grew up in a Pepsi household.  I had lost my taste for it though, because at some point Pepsi changed their formula to corn syrup and it just had this aftertaste.  So when I started seeing commercials for the "new" Pepsi Throwback (available for a limited time!) I knew I just had to try some.  It's essentially the old Pepsi, made with sugar.  And man, is it delicious!  I could very easily get addicted to soda once again.  No icky aftertaste, just fizzy deliciousness.  Part of me hopes that it sells so well that they'll leave it on the supermarket shelves, but the rest of me is apprehensive.  I've lost eighteen pounds since I gave birth to Sean (having only gained 14, I'm pleased!) and I'm trying to use that as a jumpstart to lose more. Still, an afternoon can for a little caffeine buzz to counteract the sleep deprivation of going to bed at 5AM with Sean every day isn't so bad.....right??  :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cinnamon-y Goodness

Ever since I saw a recipe recently for cinnamon rolls, I've been DYING for some!  Obviously, this wasn't something that I could eat (and feel good about) until recently.  Now that Sean's here, the idea of rolling out dough for cinnamon rolls, letting it rise, etc etc, is daunting to say the least!   So in order to satisfy this craving, Brian brought home a Cinnabon box mix from the local warehouse store the other day.

First of all, the box is HUGE!  There is enough mix to make either 36 muffins, 16 scones or two coffee cakes.  No way could we make 36 muffins disappear before they went stale, and I'm not wild about scones, they're awfully dry.  So Brian turned out a coffee cake the other day.  (What a guy!)  It was delicious and JUST what I was looking for!  Cinnabon box mixes are awesome in my book.

Of course...I have bookmarked the roll recipe for another time when life isn't so chaotic.  :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rice: The New Crunchy

Guess what??  The baby's here!  Sean was born on Sunday, Jan 10th, and we came home from the hospital yesterday.  So far things are going great, he is a very laid-back baby who likes to eat and looooves to sleep.  Not that I expect every night will go so smoothly.

The food in the hospital was actually pretty good.  I am definitely going to miss just calling "room service" and having a tray delivered 45 minutes later.  I especially missed it last night when I cooked my first post-baby dinner.  The weekly menu is on hold, of course.  Last night was just a simple dinner of frozen chicken breasts (Barber makes these stuffed ham and cheese ones that rock.)  I cooked some rice and opened a can of corn.

Ok....I have cooked a lot of rice in my life.  I know how to do it by heart, and it doesn't take a lot of thought.  I know that the water doubles the amount of rice, so for every cup of rice you measure out, you need two cups of water.  So that's what I measured.  I poured the water into the pot, added a pat of butter.  So far so good.  Brought it to a boil, added the rice, turned it to low, gave it a stir.  Then added the lid and set the timer.  Twenty minutes later and it's gruel.  Crunchy-looking, totally wet and absolutely not edible yet.  Brian puts it back on the stove and I'm grumpin' because I'm hungry!  Since the chicken's done, we start on that and the corn.  Geee......delicious.  Ten minutes later we have paste instead of rice, it's turning gooshy and sticking to the pan.  So corn and chicken for dinner, and the garbage disposal again eats well.

Sometimes "the laws of physics cease to exist on my stove!"  (If you can name the movie where that quote comes from....1000 Cool Kid points to you!)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Something Different, with Hamburger

I tend to get tired of the same old things with hamburger.  Meatballs.  Tacos.  Meat Sauce.  Meat Loaf.  Zzzzzzzzz.......  So tonight I tried my hand at an "Italian Casserole."  Very quick and easy.  Since it was just for the two of us, I halved the recipe and baked it in an 8x8 square pan.  Ground beef, onions, spaghetti sauce, then a sour cream and monterey jack cheese layer, and then the piece de resistance, crescent rolls on top!  Oh, how I LOVE crescent rolls!!  It was a little heavy on the sour cream layer but the crusty cover was perfect.  Plus there's two leftover pieces for lunch tomorrow.  We didn't end up using all of the crescent rolls for the crust, but of course they weren't going to go to waste.  We just rolled them into actual crescent rolls and baked them alongside the casserole. :)

This cookbook has an entire chapter dedicated to just lasagnas. Twenty-one total!.  I'd heard of a couple, like Lasagna Bolonogese or Roast Veggie lasagna..  Bolonogese is your typical meat lasagna that most people have, only theirs boasts three different kinds of meat.  (Sausage, hamburger and bacon, if you're interested.)  There was a seafood lasagna that looked interesting, a couple of chicken ones that were intriguing, but it was the vegetarian ones that caught my eye.  Now, Brian would rather poke himself in one eye than eat a vegetarian lasagna, he is very much a "meat and potatoes" kind of guy.  I, however, enjoy the occasional vegetarian meal.  So, the next time we have our friends the "S" family over, I'll make two pans of Lasagna, the Bolonogese one for Brian and Chris, and a Butternut Squash one for me and Jenny.  There will be plenty of leftovers to send home with our guests and for our freezer.  Can't wait for a lasagna date!   :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Casseroles Continue....

Tonight's Casserole is Ham and Potatoes Au Gratin.  You already know what recipe book it's from!  This one features hash brown potatoes, ham, spinach, onion and a made-from-scratch cheese sauce.  I'm not the sauce guru in this house, in fact I usually don't have luck with them at all.  But I made the sauce exactly as the recipe indicated and I didn't get the usual clumping, separating mess that results from me making sauce.    The recipe also called for frozen shredded hash browns, but there was an overabundance of potatoes in the house, so I shredded my own.  It didn't take long with a box grater, though they seemed kind of thin.

I layered the ham, potatoes, sauce and spinach onion mixture as indicated, and baked at 350 degrees.  The result was uhmm.....interesting.  Smelled great, but didn't look quite right.  A quick stir through the serving on the plate revealed that the potatoes were a ghastly shade of gray.  A couple of bites said that the ham, cheese sauce, spinach and onions were delicious, but the potatoes were limp and the consistency of oversteamed cabbage.  Gah!!! Picking through the ham and veggies was enough to tide us over for the night, but none of this one is going to go in the freezer.  My garbage disposal is going to eat well tonight.

I'd definitely try this one again, but with the 20oz package of frozen hash browns it called for instead of trying to be thrifty.  I'm just disappointed that my luscious, velvety cheese sauce met an unfortunate end!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

I'm in looooove with that new cookbook featuring 9x13 pans! 

I belong to a playgroup here in the area, and one of the things that they do is get volunteers to bring a meal to fellow moms who've just had a baby.  I signed on to bring a meal to someone the next town over, and I am going to make my Mexican Chicken and Rice.  I've made it hundreds of times, but people always like it and it feeds a crowd.  Since I know that the mom had gestational diabetes, I decided to pick out a dessert out of the new cookbook that would celebrate her no longer being diabetic. 

Man, these Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars will certainly fit the bill!!  They have a cocoa and graham cracker crust, and then layers of chocolate and peanut butter.  Sinful, decadent....I don't dare try them.  I sneaked a taste of the peanut butter filling and that made me happy enough.  I mean.....two sticks of butter, 2 1/2 cups of peanut butter, a cup and a third of semisweet chocolate AND three cups of confectioner's sugar??? 

However, I may request them the day after the baby is born!  :)