Tag Archives: food

Not What I Meant To Cook

15 Aug

cooking
I am not a gifted cook.  I am lucky.

I “caramelize” (burn) things sometimes most of the time.  I don’t cook with recipes unless I’m in the mood for a Fun Project.  It is not unusual for me to go to the store and buy a bunch of things that happen to make me hungry, bring them home, line them up, and start musing (or googling) how I might put them all together.  It’s kind of a miracle I don’t end up with more Oreo-Dorito casseroles.

This week, I got an organic bone-in chuck roast from the farmers market (fancy, right?), some onions, a frozen veggie mix that was sort of stir-fry-esque, and some organic tamari (like soy sauce, but not).  I almost got ginger, but I was too lazy to turn around in the store and find it.  And I knew I had garlic at home.

I got home, noticed that I also had red curry paste and coconut milk, and changed gears.
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The tamari is still unopened on my counter, and once I’d had my roast browned and simmering for about THREE DAYS in coconut curry, I discovered that my delicious veggies were teriyaki flavored.  Huh?  Gross.  I guess those will have to wait.  For a day when I am REALLY hungry.  I found some frozen broccoli and threw that in instead.

So my beef stir fry turned into coconut curry pot roast with broccoli.  It’s delicious (as judged by a jury of myself), but totally not what I thought I was cooking.  As usual.
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EAT ME.

So bad… but so good!

13 Sep


I’m a great wife because I cook for my husband.  I’m not so great because dinner hits the table around 10:30pm.  Points for effort?

I know this isn’t when I normally talk about my attempts at frugality, but it coincides so nicely this weekend with my attempts in the kitchen that I really can’t avoid the subject.  I saw a commercial on Sunday morning that Pahl’s Market has a fresh vegetable stand inside their garden center.  We decided to check it out on the way home from church, and scored all of this…

…for $3.87!  I used a poblano and the tomato in a breakfast scramble thing with the leftover chorizo from last week’s bake and one of the limes in a couple of gin & tonics.  The tomato was juicy and red.  The poblano was actually spicy.  That never happens!  The limes were sweet, which was strange but amazing.  The big beige blob you see is a spaghetti squash.  It’s something I’ve been meaning to try for a couple years, but either I never notice them or they aren’t available at all stores.  A good friend of mine grew up on the stuff and has good childhood memories of it.  Plus, we figured this meal cost us five or six bucks, and could have really been 3 or 4 servings, not just 2.

I thought I’d keep it simple for my first rodeo and just make a tomato sauce to go with it.  The husband was SO impressed with the low low prices that he was willing to race back to Pahl’s before closing time last night so that I could get some more tomatoes, a head of garlic, and an onion for said sauce.  I got home with my killing and got to work.

A trick: score the bottom of the tomatoes with an “X” and place them in a collander in the sink.  Heat water in a kettle to boiling and pour it over the tomatoes.  Cool them with cold water from the tap, and then peel them.  The skins come right off!  No bad words necessary!
I chopped half of the onion and smashed a couple cloves of garlic, and set them to saute them in my best olive oil.  Then I got to work on the squash… easier said than done.  Several knives were discarded in the process, but this little guy was the winner.  I could make a nimble fist, jam him into the skin, and work it slowly around the diameter.  I’ve read a few recipes that say you can bake the squash whole, and THEN cut it open.  Next time.  I scooped the seeds out, oiled it up, and baked it cut-side down on some foil.  I think about 375F for 30-40 minutes should do it.

While the squash was baking, I got to work on my sauce.  I hacked the skinned tomatoes into chunks with my awesome kitchen shears, threw in a couple of bay leaves, and let it go for about half an hour.  After it was nice and simmery, I just used my wooden spoon to smush the tomatoes into a nice pomodoro.  A little salt and pepper and some dried basil, and I was done.  The squash came out of the oven and in went some ripped up hunks of sourdough also left over from last week’s breakfast bake, coated with olive oil and Penzey’s life-altering Shallot Salt.

I “fluffed” the squash with a fork, kind of like you do with rice, to separate the strands.  Each half more than filled a pasta bowl, and I topped it with the sauce.  The sauce turned out to taste exactly like the sauce my mom always made when I was a kid.  I always hated it.  I wanted Spaghetti-Os.  I wanted Stouffer’s Lasagna.  I did NOT want FRESH VEGETABLES.  Times have changed.  I want fresh vegetables, and I want to live on this squash and sauce and shallot hunk combo forever.

Breakfast is served! And served… and served…

6 Sep


Okay, my life is back to normal for a few weeks.  Nobody is traveling anywhere this month, there are no major work functions on days that I’m not supposed to work, and I might actually get more than half a load of laundry done per week.  What does that mean for you?  Well, that I had TIME to make my weekly batch of breakfast, and that I also remembered to document it for you so that you can make it, too!  Are you ready?  Let’s go to the store!

You’ll need a dozen eggs and a quart of milk for your base.  I use organic 1% milk – I think a little fat content helps the texture, and conventional milk freaks me out since all my friends read Skinny Bitch.  Something about blood and pus, but I’m too afraid to actually read it myself.  I just shell out for organic dairy.  Yeah.  Now that we’re all hungry… get some cheese, some veggies, and some protein.  You can use whatever combinations you like.  Sauteed onions, green peppers, and ham are great with sharp cheddar.  Turkey sausage and monterey jack are a good combination.  Bacon and spinach.  Leftover chicken from fajitas is really good with black olives and green chiles.  Get the idea?  Good.  Grab a baguette or other rustic bread from the bakery and you’re set.

Pull out a 9×13 baking dish… for some reason, I’ve had better luck with my pan that has straighter sides.  It seems to cook better.  No need to grease, but I bet a little butter wouldn’t hurt if you wanted to use it!  Tear up the bread, using mostly the inside parts, and cover the bottom of the pan with little chunks of it, like this:

Put a couple tablespoons of mustard powder into a mixing bowl and start cracking your eggs.  I try to scramble the first egg or two with the powder so that it blends well.  Scramble all 12 eggs together, and add some pepper or any other seasonings you want in there.  Whisk in two cups of milk and set aside.
I used chorizo this week, and ended up using 3 sausages.  I cut each dog into quarters lengthwise and then chopped them up small.  Those pieces got sprinkled evenly over the bread, then I layered on a can of sliced olives and covered it with Tillamook sharp cheddar.  It’s my all-time favorite.  Pour the egg mixture over that and put it in the fridge overnight.

Set your alarm a little early, put your unbaked bake in the oven at 350 for about an hour.  If you want it a little less crispy on top, you can cover it with foil for the first half hour or so.  It works just like any other bake – when a knife comes out clean, it’s done!  I can usually get 8-10 breakfasts out of it.

Voila!  Viola!  Wallah!
To reheat the slices each morning, microwave them for 3 or 4 minutes at medium-high and then another 30 seconds on high.  This is definitely my most efficient 30 minutes of the week.  Even when I don’t feel like doing it, it’s so worth the time and money it saves me in the mornings.  Let me know what ingredient combos you guys come up with, I need some new ideas!

Trailer Trash Supper

16 Aug


Dinner is served!

The husband named this post.  I finally made beer can chicken (he says “beer butt” is more fun to say), after having bought the stand/can holder, oh, 8 years ago), and then Saltine Cracker Toffee by The Girl Who Ate Everything, after I had to look at it on the blog of my pal at Riot & Frolic.

I used this recipe for Beer Can Chicken as my guideline recipe.  I tend not to “use recipes,” but rather follow principles (the chicken goes on a medium-high grill for 1 hour, 15 minutes) and wing it (heh, get it?  chicken?) on the rest.  My adventure started today at Lund’s where I found two, count them, two chickens in the meat case.  Both organic (good), both about $22 (holy cow).  Did everyone else know that a chicken costs so much?  This store is the home of the Five Buck Cluck, which gets you an entire chicken for five dollars.  So when I save them the trouble of preparing it, I pay 400 percent?  Sure.  So, after much deliberating (bickering) in the aisle – and the nice grocery man asking if he could help… – N decided that “beer butt chicken” was still really fun to say, even if it meant spending half a paycheck on the ingredients.

The only canned beer in our fridge?  Coors Light.  Don’t judge, we had a party last weekend and it was left behind.  Some people like it, and I was raised on Busch Light, so I guess I can’t really comment.  I took as many “gulps” as I could manage, per the recipe’s instructions, and then passed it off to the Man to take care of the rest.  This is not tasty beer, people.

I rinsed and patted dry my chicken, greased him up, and dusted him with salt, pepper, and my own special dry rub: BBQ seasoning, ancho chili powder, smoked Spanish paprika, shallot salt (think: garlic salt, only more amazing), and cayenne pepper.  I did not measure, just mixed until it smelled right.
I layered the stand, the beer can, and then the chicken, and put the whole assembly onto the grill.  Note: remove the upper racks first.

While he hung out in his personal sauna, we went through our VHS (I know) collection with a fine-toothed comb.  We’re down to a one-bookshelf stock.  This is in prep for our multi-family garage sale this weekend, and in keeping with our Trailer Trash theme.  I’m thinking a quarter for each movie, or five for a buck.  Come on down!

When Foghorn Leghorn was ready, I took him off the heat and started dessert.  Two sticks of butter, a cup of brown sugar, and a layer of saltines (they are topped with sea salt, now!).  Boil the butter and brown sugar for 3 minutes, pour over the saltines, and bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes.

The recipe says that when you pull them out, you can just top them with chocolate chips and they will melt.  Notsomuch.  So I put them back in the oven to soften a little more, and finally just smeared them around with a spatula.  The Girl says that when they’re done, they’ll look like this:


They do not.  But if they taste even CLOSE to that picture, I win.

In conclusion… the chicken was the best I’ve ever had.  It was easy, and so tender it was falling off the bone.  Literally.  N picked up a chicken leg, and all the meat fell off, leaving him holding the bone.  The toffee?  Unreal.  It reminds me of something my mom and I used to make, which I will post another day.  Next time I’m pretty sure I’ll add a layer of peanut butter chips, and then the chocolate.  Yes.

Finally, the backdrop to our redneck evening: season one of The Dukes of Hazzard.  What can I say?  We’re into themes.

The Gang’s All Here

8 Aug


Another success!  We had a great mix of folks over to our house yesterday for some amazing food and all around good times.  At times like these, it really pays to be friends with so many foodies/pastry chefs.

Aside from the opportunity to do something nice for people we love, the best reason to have a party is so that the house gets “cleaned.”  By “cleaned,” I mean the area of the house intended to be seen.  So, for those of you who went upstairs or downstairs for any reason, I apologize for whatever you may have seen or stepped in.

Saturday night involved a little stopover at a friend’s BBQ, some tacos, and a final trip to the store.  Then came home to whip up my famous (according to me) caramelized onion dip and a salsa that sounded good in my head: pineapples, cilantro, habanero, etc.  I had been warned about the habanero part, so I decided to save it for last.  I gave the onions a rough chop in the food processor, then went to work on the pineapple.

I tried doing the pineapple in the food processor, also, but it came out… frothy?  Like a pina colada.  Which made me wish I had some rum, not some tortilla chips.  So I decided to chop the rest up with a knife.  Enter some cilantro and red bell pepper and I was ready to approch Mr. H.  Here he is, double-bagged, and then being severed by a masked bandit.
I didn’t have any gloves, and I read something about how the oils on these suckers can burn your skin.  Forget rubbing your eyes!  So I thought I just wouldn’t take any chances and popped some Ziploc baggies on my mits.  And yes, that is my husbands Miller High Life t-shirt.  No, you can’t have it.  Some taste testing was necessary once it was done, and Husband thought it needed jalapeno Tabasco, so we tossed some of that in there, squeezed a little lime, and let it fridge overnight.  It tasted even better the next day, and got pretty good reviews!  Another recipe: invented.  We’re changing lives, people.

The highlights were the cheesecake with blueberry sauce, the blueberry pie still warm from the oven (I know), the guacamole, and the chocolate muffins with peanut butter frosting and sugared bacon.  Frisbees were caught in trees, marshmallows were intended for projectile use only, and a good time was had by me.

The evidence has all been hidden, and since the vacuum is still out of the closet, I may even make today THE DAY that the other floors of the house are introduced to it.  But no promises.  And lastly, may I recommend to you all, if you want to have a Sunday bash, don’t work on Monday.  It’s my new favorite day of the week.

 

Freaks!

8 Jun

Seems that a busy work week can put a damper on my intentions to get to this… ironic, given the title of my last post!  Oh well, back on the wagon!

We are both control freaks, but of different colors.  Me, I’m a freak about the details.  He is a freak about “the plan” and something called “all-or-nothing.”  I will explain.

Because of the high incidence of Spandex (R) and exposed skin in our chosen profession, we sometimes (less frequently than in previous years) shave some carbs out of our diets.  For me this means having two pieces of cake instead of three.  Or having sushi, because “it’s only a little bit of rice!”  For him this means eating scrambled eggs and cottage cheese and grilled chicken.  Once he decides not to eat cake or rice or anything that tastes good, he just doesn’t.  End of discussion.  I can’t seem to understand why, after our grilled chicken and cottage cheese, we can’t just have a little dessert!

By about Tuesday (we have Sunday and Monday off, so Tuesday is the beginning of our work week), he is usually asking me what “the plan” is for the weekend.  My response is usually something like this: “…I don’t know…” accompanied by a look that says, “stupid question, stupid answer.”  I’m a really nice person.  The thing is, I’m a recovering over-planner, so whenever possible, I like to go where the wind blows me.  I learned it from my friends, I think it’s lovely.  He thinks it’s disorganized.

However… if we are GOING to make “a plan,” it needs to be The Perfect Plan.  This is where I become a freak.  (Maybe my resistance to planning is a self-preserving attempt to be less freakish?)  We’re going out to lunch?  I have to research the menu online – nothing is more irritating than an unpublished menu! – so that I can make a decision on my order sometime the same day as being seated.  I need to find the perfect patio on a gorgeous day.  And what kind of cocktail will enhance the sunshine?  It’s paralyzing, folks.

A couple weeks ago, after much “What do you want to do?” and “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” he planned a date.  It was wonderful.  I did not criticize the details.  I didn’t even want to!  We went to see The Hangover 2.  He poured Captain Morgan into our Coke.  The movie, and the drink, were gross.  Then we went to dinner.  This was actually pretty exciting, because we never do the dinner-and-a-movie date.  I had a good martini, some thawed calamari, a pretty decent entree, and a great time.

I think we can all see the lesson here: let him handle the details.  I’m going to start doing a LOT of delegating.  As an act of self-therapy, of course!