Monday, December 21, 2015
Until that night two weeks ago.
We were watching Cutthroat, and the last challenge is almost always a dessert challenge. The contestants were making spice cake. One of them was coming up short on time due to his sabotages, and tossed his cake into the microwave. You'd think that it wouldn't come out well, right? Wrong. It ended up being a great cake and he won. Brian eyed the cake warily and said, "I'll bet that I could do that."
Five minutes looking for a recipe and 30 minutes after that: chocolate cake (with frosting!) from our microwave. The recipe called for making them in a coffee mug. Lots of flavor, not rubbery at all.
After eating, we decided that this recipe is dangerous to know about. So we've agreed to never make it again. :)
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Life has a way of running away with you sometimes, especially around the holidays. So normally I would have written a post about each of these things individually. Instead, here's a group post. These are all things that we've eaten in the last couple of weeks that I thought were noteworthy...
Thursday, November 19, 2015
The past two weeks have been quite good:
The the other night was Wild Mushroom Farfalle, out of the October issue of Cooking Light. I liked this too, with the spoonful of ricotta cheese on top that you stir into your plate. The only thing I missed was something with a little crunch. Like maybe toasted walnuts. Just to give it a little texture. (When I read that I feel like a Food Network judge on a cooking show, by the way.)
Also, I'd like to add that while we (meaning we the parents) are trying to adopt a meatless meal once a week, the kids have no problem doing it more often. Meaning: neither kid would touch this. Still doesn't stop us from trying, though.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Two meals stood out:
The chicken and polenta dish looked good enough to offer at a restaurant! It was delicious to boot....I used to dislike polenta. But now that I know that there's other ways to have it other than a sliced tube at the grocery store, I'm more likely to eat it. "Tube-y" polenta tastes firm and weird. This stuff reminded me of mashed potatoes.
And this right here? Seared scallops over lemony zucchini risotto. I know, really fancied for a Tuesday night! Best scallops I've had in a long time. And this risotto rules, too. I ate the leftover risotto for breakfast the next two days, with a fried egg on top. Awesome.
Monday, October 19, 2015
Though pie-like, I wouldn't quite call these pie. Brian and I have been calling them "Apple Pie Cookies." They are pretty fantastic and in a word, dangerous. I'd make them again for sure. Here's the recipe: Apple Hand Pies. I found it on Pinterest and take no claim for it.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
The applesauce was my standard fare. Recipe courtesy of The Joy of Cooking, aka "The Bible." We've been using this recipe for years, and the only difference this year was using a food processor instead of a food mill. What ease!
the overnight apple oatmeal is a thing to behold! One must put it together kind of late in the evening, in order for it to be ready at breakfast. I peeled and diced 4 apples earlier, and sprinkled them wit vitamin C powder so they didn't turn brown. (you can find this with the canning supplies.) You layer the ingredients and then the recipe warns you, DO NOT STIR. I was skeptical but obeyed its command. And this morning I was rewarded for my patience with the scent of apple-goodness when I staggered into the kitchen to make coffee. (I'm kind of a mess in the morning." This was extremely tasty. And luckily it makes a lot, so leftovers for the week! The only critique tat Brian had is that it's heavy on the cinnamon. I love cinnamon though, but maybe next time I'll adjust it a little.
Next up...apple hand pies. And then I still have more apples, so who knows.
Monday, October 5, 2015
First, let's talk about this pizza for Saturday lunch. I had no idea that ricotta, arugula and caramelized onion would make such fantastic pizza toppings. Unfortunately, you can't reheat pizza with arugula on top, because it wilts. So we had to eat it all, tough break.
I made stuff for our freezer. Three freezer bags of ratatouille, and this time I salted the eggplant slices first a la Alton Brown. It definitely got some of the moisture out, making the finished product less "mushy." It'll go great with a starch and a little grated Parmesan later.
Then it was time for a magic trick....turning a $4.23 whole chicken into two meals and then boiling the carcass for chicken stock. (Thank you, rapidly approaching "sell-by" dates!) And honestly, it didn't take very long. I just sauteed some aromatics (in this case a whole sliced onion, a couple of carrots and some celery ribs) and added the carcass, covered with water and let it boil for an hour. I'll strain the fat off the top tonight and put it in the freezer for some delightful chicken soup at a later date.
Now, I've got some overripe bananas to turn into muffins, and yesterday we went apple picking. Thinking about what to make!
Friday, October 2, 2015
The freezer is empty and Winter Is Coming.
Well, perhaps winter isn't coming today. I mean, it's only October. But perhaps it's time to "realize the dream" of actually filling the freezer with meals.
I've always been one of those types that realizes that keeping ready-made food in the freezer is a good idea. That the concept of bringing up a meal and defrosting it for dinner, therefore not having to really "Cook" that night but still having a great meal, is a huge time-saver. I'm just not quite good at putting it into action. And I really want to be one of those people.
So last weekend, I made meatballs, enough for two meals. And I froze all of them. This weekend we're having a roast chicken that I scored for just $4.23! (hooray for approaching expiration dates.) After we have a lovely meal paired with cornbread and vegetable sides, I am going to boil the carcass and make chicken stock for a future soup date.
As for the rest? I'm already combing Pinterest for ideas. This is my "Year of the Freezer."
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Thursday, September 17, 2015
...they can make for a pretty tasty lunch, too. I come home for lunch most days and reheat leftovers. No leftovers in the fridge....and neither pb+j nor canned soup looked appetizing. This was quick and delicious paired up with some leftover grilled potatoes. Add a small chocolate milk and the latest Webs catalog and it's a very fine lunch indeed!
Monday, August 24, 2015
For one thing, they make it so that the oven takes forever to heat up. I left a skillet and a grill pan on the bottom shelf when I was making banana "snack cake" and later on in the week I made magic bars for the karate picnic. Yes, I made this mistake twice.
The edges were the only cooked pieces on the banana cake, I was able to salvage this much and throw the rest away. The boys loved it, though. Will asked for a taste, and then took the piece from me with a big smile and a "Mine!" :) It's going to be the first recipe I write into The Notebook in a while.
The magic bars edges were destroyed. Not only because of the cast iron roommates hogging space in the oven, but because I thought that the first step of melting butter in the pan would be enough to grease it. Yeah.....not so much for the sides. This is how much I had to throw out, and I despise throwing out food.
So....lessons learned and shared from me, so you don't have to learn them for yourself.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
This time, we went for a summer favorite that we'd never tried: peach ice cream. And whose recipe was the obvious first choice? That's right, Alton Brown....who just hit a million Facebook "likes" last week and celebrated with some live videos!
Alton Brown's Burned Peach Ice Cream
This was fantastic, though we did have to melt it and re-churn so it wouldn't be rock-solid. No pictures, it didn't last long enough. I would definitely do this again.
Friday, August 7, 2015
We're trying all sorts of salads this summer....this week's is a corn and tomato salad. Fresh corn, tomatoes from my garden, fresh basil, a little onion, olive oil and vinegar and salt/pepper to taste. Taste? Delicious! I think I'll be doubling a batch to go to a picnic later this month.
Additionally, I never "got" people that eat tomatoes like an apple. Now I know the joy of it....only a fresh-off-the-vine tomato will do!!
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
It wasn't bad for my second try. I'll tell you....using a food processor makes all the difference. Anyone who tells you that you can make it in a blender is crazy. This is actually the first time I ever used the food processor myself. And man, did it show....I couldn't get it running and Brian had to show me that I had it assembled backwards!
This called for half a cup of pine nuts, three cups of packed basil, a couple cloves of garlic, half a cup of grated fresh parmesan cheese and half a cop of olive oil, along with salt and pepper to taste. Three cups of packed basil is a lot more than I thought, it wiped out more than half of my deck box:
The recipe also said "The more the merrier" when it came to garlic, so I used four cloves. Two of them were huge though, so I'd say that it was closer to six. So I'd politely disagree, that's a lot of garlic. Didn't stop us from eating it though, we're no strangers to garlic and love the taste. It's a good thing that we both had it, though. :) It might be different if you roasted the garlic the night before you assemble the pesto, but I'm not sure what that would do to the oil and other ingredient ratio or if it would work.
Now I'm off to find out if you can freeze pesto....because if you can I know what I'm putting in the freezer for this fall and winter.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
First the cilantro....we have so much of it. I love it, especially in guacamole or tacos. There was a sweet cilantro salad dressing the other day too. Homemade salad dressing tastes SO much better and is apparently better for you, too.
Brian made a quick homemade spaghetti sauce the other night and used fresh parsley and basil. It was delicious.
Next up: cilantro in homemade salsa and perhaps a basil pesto. I'm loving this! Now, if my tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini come up, it will be a perfect growing summer.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
There, I said it. It's just not as tasty as ground beef. Sure, it's better for your health but turkey meatloaf is icky, and don't even get me started on turkey meatballs. Turkey meatballs with tomato sauce are just plain said.
However, with that being said, I was pleasantly surprised last week with I found this recipe on Pinterest for Thai Turkey Burgers with Broccoli Slaw. With the right veggies and herbs, these were fantastic. Garlic, ginger, cilantro....all good stuff. It made 6 or 7 patties and I had the rest of them as the week went on, over a little rice or quinoa with a smear of hoisin sauce on top. I'd certainly make them again. The slaw, well, it was so-so. I appreciated the flavors but after the first serving it got a bit mushy in the fridge so I threw it out.
So there you go, Ground turkey, for turning me into a believer.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Monday, May 11, 2015
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Sunday, April 12, 2015
I guess that not every meal can be a star. This one certainly wasn't!
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Lunch on Saturday was a game of "What can we use up?" A quick scan of ingredients put together a salad of spinach and arugula, sliced avocado and the leftover frozen scallops wrapped in bacon from Valentine's Day last month. (Of course we cooked them first. Frozen sounds barbaric.) A spicy mayonnaise dressing tied it together nicely and it was a lot more filling than I would've surmised. I wasn't really hungry til dinner!
And DINNER! Another trip to the Disney cookbook from our trip last year, to salmon wrapped in phyllo dough. It also had a lovely spinach, cream cheese and sundried tomato filling with the salmon. It was in a oft-used word, awesome. I can't wait to have the last one for lunch today.
And finally, stew. There's a new collection of cookbooks at the library from Good Housekeeping, each volume is "400 calories or less." I brought home the Comfort Foods one and we made the chicken pot pie and "light" beef and broccoli a few weeks ago. This time I brought home "Italian" and "Chicken Dishes." Going through the Italian book on Friday night I decided to try the lentil stew with butternut squash. Lentils aren't something we typically eat, but once I saw the protein and fiber counts I decided to give it a try. (20 grams each, by the way.) Fiber is a tough thing for hubby and I to get, but we're working on it. It was a crockpot recipe, and it took about eight hours. I didn't have the 2 lbs butternut squash that the recipe called for so I subbed in some carrots. The result had good flavor and we'll eat it all this week at lunchtime.
So really, it was a good weekend in the kitchen, and all brought to you by the letter "S." "S" is certainly a good letter for the kitchen. :)
Monday, March 16, 2015
The first one was my idea: baked zucchini parmesan. And by "my" idea, I mean that I found it on Pinterest and decided to make it one night. It was quite easy, and fresh too. Served with some marinated chicken and a little penne.
Friday, March 6, 2015
Sundays are good for a warm, comforting meal, especially in the winter. This week we had chicken and dumplings.
Let me just tell you, the house smelled AMAZING while it cooked. And why wouldn't it, with onions, celery, chicken thighs, carrots, broth and bread-y goodness that is the dumpling? Snow was falling, food was simmering, it was an iconic Winter Sunday.
And best of all--three servings for leftovers, and it's another food that tastes even better the next day. Happiness.
Friday, February 27, 2015
Bagels for a crowd is tough if you're using a toaster oven. Or worse, a toaster. So I got the idea of toasting them in the oven. What do you suppose people did before there were toasters, besides eat the bagels soft?? I spread each one with butter and put it in the community room's oven and checked on it after about four minutes. They all looked golden brown and delicious. Only I ran out of butter. And I didn't know if they would toast well with nothing on them.
A woman who lives on the first floor said that she had some, only it was Promise. In the thick of it, I said sure. I had several more bagels to toast and didn't want to disappoint anyone.
Here is where the science experiment comes in: the bagels that were toasted with butter were crisper, and the butter "sank" into the bagel. The bagels that were toasted with Promise....weren't. They developed these oil slicks on top and the spread never soaked into the bagel. I was unfortunate to get a bagel half dressed in Promise, and I can still taste the plastic-y aftertaste two hours later.
The weird thing for me is that I used to buy "buttery spreads" for years, and only in the last five or so have I switched to real butter. When I was eating stuff like Promise on a regular basis, I didn't notice. At the time I was also putting Splenda in my coffee and was no stranger to diet soda. Actually, I am a former Diet Coke addict. I drank it non-stop for about a year in college. It was the first thing I bought every morning and I set a can down on my nightstand every night. I probably drank a 12-pack of diet coke a day, the more that I had the more I wanted. And I felt like crap. Quitting was tough, too, the withdrawal headaches were insane!!
So, as far as I'm concerned, these fake butters are never coming in the house again. I gave up on the Splenda some time ago. It's best to go with the real things. I'm not going to go crazy with the "this is real and I'm not eating this anymore" and cut all processed foods out of mine and my family's lives or anything. I don't have time to make everything from scratch and neither does my husband. But this is a change that I don't think we'll regret anytime soon.
Monday, February 16, 2015
Brian and I aren't big on going out to dinner on V Day. It was an experience from ten years ago that ruined it....reservations at a well-known Italian restaurant in the city. Only to have to wait over an hour after our reservation at a crowded bar that was packed tight like sardines. From then on most of our Valentine's Day dinners have been at home. I say "most" because one of our best was a hockey game and subs at D'Angelos. I'm being serious, it was fun and I can't remember what year it was.
So scenes from this year's dinner. First, let me tell you that the kids had chicken nuggets and mac n cheese in front of the TV. Anything to keep them happy so we could enjoy our meal and each other's company.
First, bruschetta on pizza crust. Fresh, garlicky and delightful.
Then, the main course. NY strip steak with red wine sauce, snow crab legs, baked potato and asparagus with parmesan.
And an hour or two later while watching TV, homemade molten chocolate cake with a little vanilla ice cream.
With dinner like that, why go out?? Happy Valentine's Day!
Sunday, February 15, 2015
On a rare night out, we got out to a Japanese hibachi place for a sushi dinner. Brian and I hadn't had sushi out in ages!
When the sashimi dinner came out for him, it was incredible. This thing was more than anticipated.....this tub - like thing filled with crushed ice, shells and color changing LIGHTS under the ice! And to top it off, raw tuna arranged into a rosebud. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
We walked out of the restaurant very happy and with no appetite for the swanky dessert place two doors down. Now that is a first. :)
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Then I got the flu and didn't get to making the soup until a week later. Still, it was hot and delicious and went well with a grilled cheese sandwich for an easy Sunday lunch. Made enough for the freezer AND sent some to my parents today. :)
Thursday, January 29, 2015
This particular storm: chicken and waffles, and our first homemade ice cream.
First up, chicken and waffles. I'd never had chicken and waffles before. I knew that it was a Southern thing, and I've said it before: I adore southern cooking. We don't eat a lot of southern food often because done right, it's laden with calories.
Now, I couldn't see what the big deal was about chicken and waffles because I was picturing a fried chicken breast on a plate, side by side with a waffle with maple syrup and butter. And although that sounded intriguing, it wasn't WOW! This is incredible!
Suffice it to say, I get it now:
This. Was. Incredible! Fried chicken, in a batter with tabasco flavoring, served atop a perfectly crisp waffle, and then topped with a pan gravy that has a little bit of maple syrup in it. The most beautiful pairing of sweet and savory that I have ever tasted. That being said, it's certainly not going on our menu again anytime soon. And I don't feel the need, because a once-in-a-long-while treat like this is the greatest. I don't want it to lose it's special-ness.
And now for the ice cream...Brian got an ice cream maker for Christmas, because when watching Cutthroat Kitchen or Chopped he always remarks "We should make our own ice cream!" It's definitely not cheaper than buying ice cream, but certainly fresher. And it doubles as a fun activity for kids. Will helped make the base, and he smashed the cookies for our inaugural ice cream batch: Chocolate Cookies and Cream.
It was deliciously rich, and I'm glad it doesn't make a bigger batch. The only critique that Brian and I agree on: scrape the chocolate cream out of the oreos next time.
Next time we may make strawberry ice cream. I'm not a fan of artificial strawberry flavored anything, but I'll bet fresh strawberry ice cream would be incredible! Or banana, with bits of Nilla Wafers. Good Lord, the possibilities!
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
This isn't a great photo, but it's of one of the greatest cakes we have ever made. Applesauce cake.
When one thinks of "applesauce cake" they usually envision a lighter version of spice cake, using applesauce to replace the fats like butter or shortening. Not this cake.
This cake is from a Disney cookbook that we brought home from our trip this past summer. (Hubby gets cookbooks as souvenirs, I usually hit the local yarn shop for mine) We had one jar of my mother's homemade applesauce left and it was perfect for this cake. It had a sugar cookie crust on the bottom and the best streusel ever. Seriously, this cake is worth raving about. In fact, I wasn't at all upset when Hubby couldn't bring leftovers to work! It is certainly going to come with us to our next party.
Monday, January 19, 2015
In the "something different"dept, chicken with orange and feta. Served with couscous. It was a nice, light meal from an America's Test Kitchen book that I brought home from the library. It's all about healthier fare, which is the opposite of what ATK usually focuses on. I'd definitely make this again.
Monday, January 12, 2015
New to us on the home front: shrimp coconut curry! The sauce was easy enough to put together...only coconut milk, fish sauce, red curry paste, a little brown sugar and cornstarch. Shrimp with fresh veggies (bean sprout, red pepper and snow peas.)
Brian and I agreed it could have even had a little crushed red to make it spicier. It came together quickly for a Monday Night supper and is definitely a keeper.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Brian got a new 30-minute meal cookbook for Christmas put out by America's Test Kitchen. So far we've had three recipes from it and have plans for more. Like most things ATK puts out, everything has been good so far.
First dinner: Salmon with lime and spice, with rice and broccoli. Nothing too fancy...
Saturday night: white chicken chili. This was definitely more than 30 minutes, more like 45. It probably has more to do with the fact that dried hominy was used instead of the canned hominy that the recipe listed...but oh well. Hominy was a new ingredient to us, and took a little getting used to. Leftovers yesterday weren't quite as chewy, and the flavor was really good. It's weird eating chili with no tomatoes or beans, I definitely prefer the other way better.
I roasted a chicken on Sunday, and we had baked potatoes and roast carrots and parsnips. The whole dinner in the oven, yeah! Roast parsnips are so delicious and sweet.
last night: meatless Monday! Tortellini with asparagus and peas, in a tarragon cream sauce. Yeah, I said healthier and less rich. Total lie tonight, but no meat, so it's a trade?
Tonight's dinner is scallop risotto with tomatoes. I'm dying to see if the "thirty minute recipe" is the real deal or full of lies. We shall see.