Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sexy Chicken

Brian got me a cookbook as a joke's called "50 Shades of Chicken."  It's a parody of "Fifty Shades of Grey" and is pretty hilarious.  And well....dirty too.  We had chicken in basil cream sauce (I won't tell you its dirty's too embarrassing) and it was so very good!  I can't believe some of the recipes in this book.  Can't wait to try the chicken with apricot jam, sage and lemon zest next sometime next week.

If you read the books, you'll get a kick out of this cookbook's play on words.  If you just like good chicken, well, you'll like this cookbook too!

Will the Chef

Will decided today that he wanted to make lunch for him and Sean.  He's done this before, he's gotten pretty good at making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the two of them.  I love encouraging this kid to do his thing in the kitchen with minimal help, but teaching him the "right" way is important too.  Like cleanup...putting things back where they belong (jelly in the fridge instead of the cabinet, etc.) and wiping the peanut butter off the counter.

Today's lunch, courtesy of Will:  peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with fruit salad.  He did everything except cut up the apple...I did that.  He found out that butter knives don't cut everything!  I had him help me cut up the apple, I taught him that you need a cutting board, and then slowly slowly...with my hand over his, we cut the apple into slices.  Then I cut it into chunks and he tossed them into the salad.  Both kids devoured every bite!

Christmas Eve Dinner

We broke out of our norm and instead of having spaghetti for dinner, we roasted a chicken.  And it was excellent.  :)

Potato side dish:  originally was going to be a crockpot potato recipe so no oven space was needed.  Then I saw that the recipe took 10-12 hours to cook!  No way!  (Yes...that was on low, and I didn't feel like experimenting on Christmas eve with the crockpot on high.)  Instead we roasted red potatoes with garlic, then topped with cheese and bacon.  What's not to love?

The more "Chopped" we watch, the more we try to cook like they do on the show.  And Brian has a lot more success with that most of the time than I do.  Well, the green bean side dish was a HUGE success!  We blanched the green beans, and then I sauteed them in bacon fat, and tossed in onion, brown sugar and pecans.  They were delish.  :)  And yes....bacon fat.  It's Christmas Eve dinner....go big or go home!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday Dessert Time

It was my brother and SIL's turn to host Christmas, so we got to bring dessert.  Brian really outshone himself this year!

 Chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes....incredible!  Looked labor-intensive though.

 This is a Christmas Cake with Tutti-Frutti filling.  Almonds, maraschino cherries, coconut...what's not to love?  Plus that hand-painted Christmas tree rocks, especially with the chocolate chip trunk.

And it's just not the holidays without biscotti.  I love these things....but have no control over how many I want to eat!  

Oh, and MY contribution?

Rocky Road fudge.  Marshmallow and walnut, to be precise.  I hadn't made fudge in many years, and this was so good!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Prep

Some of the things that have come out of my kitchen in the past week:

Cookies, Cookies and Cookies.  Over the years we've cut down on the number of different kinds, usually choosing 4-6 types.  These fall into the "It's Just Not Christmas Without..." category:  coconut macaroons, old-fashioned sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, Rollo cookies and biscotti.  No biscotti yet, but everything else has been baked, one kind a night in the past week.  No power outage is gonna stop us, either.  :)

Fudge.  I haven't made fudge in about five years...and now I remember why.  It's because I love it so damn much!  I am bringing Rocky Road fudge to my family's Christmas party tomorrow, and it's heavenly.

Garlic and Chicken "Stew."  This was dinner tonight, and it's one of my all-time favorite meals.  Two heads  (yes, HEADS not cloves) of garlic, chicken parts (tonight we used thighs and breasts) and various other ingredients left to stew in a Dutch oven is such an incredible smell.

Coming up on the horizon:  Christmas eve dinner, which is getting changed up this year from Spaghetti to Roast Chicken.  Christmas morning breakfast....overnight baked french toast.  (In my humble opinion, the best kind)  And we're doing dessert for the family get-together on Christmas Day, and have some great things!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Smothered in Love

While perusing Pinterest for recipe ideas, I came across one for Smothered Hamburger Steaks.  The thing that caught my eye was that the author said that this recipe is kind of a "blue plate special" so that pretty much sealed the deal:  I had to make it!  And again....anytime there's a ground beef recipe slightly above the norm, color me interested.

This was a quickly put together meal on a crazy Saturday.  I bought groceries, Hubby and I carried them inside and I pretty much started cooking right away.  The meal was nothing fancy but tasted like true comfort food.  Just hamburger patties mixed with onion soup mix, then left to stew and cook in a brown gravy made with cream of mushroom soup and packet gravy mix.  I know...holy sodium!  I rarely cook this way because it benefits nobody in my home.  But once in a while rules are for breaking....and when it's this delicious, it's worth it!

For kid appeal, I served it with egg noodles and left the sauce off the boys' hamburger steaks.  They picked at it, but didn't balk at the peas on their plates (or try them, but the no yelling was nice)  and did eat some hamburger.  Everyone wins last night!

Easy Empanadas

When i first started working in housing, I had a tenant named Mrs. Alvarez.  I remember her fondly, not just because she was a lovely person but also because she was the first tenant I ever got to practice speaking Spanish with on a regular basis.  My Spanish back then was pretty awful, but we seemed to understand each other on some level and I got better with time.  It was with them I graduated from stammering "I'm sorry, I don't understand" to confidently marching out "You have too much soap in the machine, that's why it's leaking."

Mrs. Alvarez and her husband were originally from Colombia, and enjoyed showing me pictures of their life there.  She also made the BEST empanadas.  She would bring them down to the office at 9:30 in the morning, and they would smell so good I would eat one right then and there.  (I've always had the ability to eat pretty much anything at any hour)  Eating these kinds of things has led me to a love of Hispanic foods.

When I saw a recipe for empanadas, I immediately remembered these little beef "pies" that she would bring down.  Plus I am always game for something that is not your typical hamburger use.  (i.e. meatloaf, meatballs or cheeseburgers)  The recipe was spiced beef and cheese, baked in piecrust.  They tasted pretty good, but obviously weren't the same.  Mrs. Alvarez also used diced potatoes, and her empanadas were spicier and also fried.  Still, they were pretty delicious, and now I have ideas on how to improve.  I served them with home-fried potatoes and green beans.  Next time I will use black beans.  All in all, it was a nice visit to a memory.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sausage Soup

What does one do with their newly honed knife skills?  Make a soup that requires lots of chopping, of course!

This is an Italian-style sausage soup, with garlic, onion, spinach, tomatoes, pasta and cannelloni beans.  The grocery store didn't have two pounds of sweet sausage, so we bought one hot, one sweet.  Even the stock was homemade this time!

It was a good soup, and made a ridiculously large pot.  I brought some to a friend who's due with her first child, a boy, any day now.

So that is three of the four soups on my Day Zero list.  The last one will be clam chowder.  Brian and I both adore a good clam chowder and have never made one.  Then there will be one more thing to cross off the list!