Monday, January 24, 2011

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Cups

I love emails that start like this:  "Darling, I found this recipe and I'd like to try in this weekend.  What do you think?"  Nick Jr sometimes sends out emails with kid-friendly recipes and he'd just signed up for their email updates.  (I get them too, and my copy was in my inbox right before his forward)

Hubby forwarded me an email with six brunch items and told me to pick one.  I chose Bacon, Egg and Cheese Cups and he put them together on Saturday morning for breakfast.  Three favorite breakfast-y things, all put together into a treat you can eat out of your hand!  The end result was a satisfying little muffin-like pastry that tasted like a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit.  What's not to like there???  This recipe is definitely worthy to be put in the Notebook!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Beet Incident

Long day at work.....and I'm hungry as soon as my feet hit the front porch!  Brian usually starts dinner because he is home first, but tonight it's me.  I take a quick look at the menu posted on the side of the fridge and am delighted to see Maple-Pecan Chicken.  It's a new recipe and I'm looking forward to it.  A quick scan of the cabinet and I decide on rice pilaf and fresh brussels sprouts as accompanists.  On a whim, I grab a can of beets, too.  I adore beets... they're delicious hot or cold, in a salad or as is.  I've always wanted to roast some fresh beets but I'm afraid I'm the only one who will eat them.

I put Sean in his highchair and share my snack of pretzels with him.  I then proceed to take out all of the pans that I need, and grab a can opener and start to open the beets.

SPLASH!!!!!  I'm not sure exactly what happened, but the can slipped out of my hand and beets and juice went EVERYWHERE!!!!  I actually shrieked as it was happening!  Then I just stared at the kitchen in total shock and disbelief:

Say it with me...OH.  MY. GOD!!!

My my my my my...where to start.  I'm covered with beets, my kitchen is covered in beets and now I have to figure out the least messiest way to dispose of this ungodly mess.  So the first thing I could think of was to get rid of my clothes.  That's right....stripped down to my underwear and carried the scathed clothing to my hamper so not to permanently stain my tan carpet.  Soon after, Hubby came home with the Big One and I didn't even want them to go into the kitchen.  Unfortunately, the doggie doesn't care for beets, otherwise cleanup probably would've been a snap.

Half a roll of paper towels, two swiffer pads and a load of laundry's mostly clean.  Beets sure make a mess, and the juice travels pretty far.  I am pretty sure that there is a much easier way to dye my kitchen a lovely shade of pink!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Birthday Pizza and Cupcakes

We hosted a small family get-together for Sean's first birthday last weekend.  Since it was about ten people, we had "make-your-own" mini pizzas.  BJ's sells a big pack of personal-size Boboli pizza crusts and individual sauce packets.  They came out great!  Everyone got to have exactly what they wanted for toppings, how much cheese, etc.  Brian put them directly on the oven grates so they would crisp up nicely.  Mmm.....

The birthday cupcakes were out-of-this-world!!!  We went back and forth about whether to make them or buy them, and I'm so glad we made them.  They're from the Cake Doctor's second cake book, and they were the cookie-dough cupcakes.  Yellow cake mix with Tollhouse Cookie Dough in the centers, then frosted with a homemade chocolate buttercream frosting.  The frosting was perfect, perfectly chocolate and not at all sickly-sweet.  We served them as is, I'm glad I didn't add ice cream to the plate because then it would have been just too much and taken away from the goodness of the cupcake.  Everyone loved them!  Sean especially enjoyed his:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stockin' Up

In almost every cookbook, every food-themed magazine, I have read about the importance of fresh chicken stock.

Mark Bittman swears that it makes every dish that he makes taste that much better and keeps it on-hand in the freezer.  In "Kitchen Confidential" Anthony Bourdain insists that people who are serious about their cooking use it.  And though I haven't heard it myself, I'm sure Brian's hero, good ol' Alton Brown, probably has an episode in the can of how easy and how much better homemade chicken stock really tastes.

Let's face it, canned or boxed chicken broth has something that homemade stock doesn't: CONVENIENCE.  In a household where both parents work full-time and quite often dinner is a 20-minute affair, convenience of an ingredient weighs in heavily in preparation. But....making my own applesauce tasted so fresh and unlike its jarred counterpart.  And pumpkin processed by us instead of paying for a can at Thanksgiving time?  Heavenly!!

So, I have my eye out for a sale on whole chickens.  There's going to be a weekend experiment; not just for flavor, but how much more difficult is it than just reaching for your can opener?  Does it freeze well, and how much stock does one pot make?  Is it worth coming off "the box?"    Coming soon to a stockpot near you......