Sunday, March 30, 2008

We're Back!

It's too late for me to start blogging our trip last week, so I will just do this:

I found this meme/tag thing over at Friday's Feast. So- I thought I'd answer the questions and see if anyone else had anything to say.

Appetizer
What does the color dark green make you think of?
Spinach or crayons.

Soup

How many cousins do you have?
12

Salad

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how honest are you?
8

Main Course

Name something that is truly free.
Love (or at least it ought to be)

Dessert

Using the letters in the word SPRING, write a sentence.
Salmonella prepares rats in nice gauchos.
Salmonella prevents rinsing interesting new grapes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Mixed Blessing....

It seems I find myself with the rest of the week off.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that right now the municipal water here in Alamosa is undrinkable. But after this morning at 9am, the water becomes absolutely toxic. In order to flush out the salmonella contamination, the water department is sending humungous amounts of chlorine through the pipes for the next few days, making our water useless for anything other than flushing toilets. Because of this, the Alamosa School District has cancelled classes for the rest of the week- as has the local college.

Not ones to sit around and mope (or subject ourselves to accidental chlorine burns), Dev and I have decided to declare an extended Spring Break, go get our fishing licenses and fishing poles, and take off on a fishing trip. Then we'll go back to Montrose and kick back with his parents- where we can idle away the week in a place where there is healthy retail therapy nearby.

So in a way this sucks, but in a way it will be nice to have the rest of the week off! :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Double Gah!!!!!

For the first time ever, in recorded history, I found a recipe of mine credited on another food blog!!! And to make it even better- it's a blog written by a new friend of mine in the food blogging community- Jill of Simple Daily Recipes.

Thanks so much Jill for giving me such a shot in the arm- it's just what I needed to keep me plugging away at this. :)

So go check out Jill's blog!!!!

Guinness Cheesecake- Take 2- v.2



There it is. I can't cut it yet because it has to sit in the icebox for 4 more hours.

Here is the recipe from allrecipes.com-


for the crust
• 1 cup crushed chocolate graham crackers
• 2 Tablespoons white sugar
• 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/4 cup butter, softened
for the filling
• 3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup white sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels
• 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
• 1 cup sour cream
• a pinch of salt
• 3/4 cup Irish stout beer (ie: Guinness®)
• 2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 ounce semi sweet chocolate for clover garnish (optional)
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 inch spring form pan with butter.
for the crust
Place chocolate graham crackers in a food processor with sharp blade and process until the crackers have a sand-like texture. To the process, add the sugar, cocoa powder and butter. Process until the butter is incorporated and the crust comes together into pea size balls.
Press the crust evenly into the bottom of the spring form pan.
for the filling
Place the cream cheese into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and combine. Add the eggs one at a time. Continue beating until smooth
Place the chocolate and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave, 30 seconds at a time, and stir until chocolate melts (time varies depending upon your microwave). Beat the chocolate mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Add the sour cream, salt, beer and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Pour the filling over the crust.
Place cheesecake on a baking sheet and then put into the oven on the middle or upper rack. Underneath the cheesecake, place a pan of water. This will keep the cheesecake moist.
Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off oven and allow cheesecake to continue baking for an additional 45 minutes to an hour, with the oven door closed. Refrigerate cheesecake for at least 4 hours before serving. This will allow the cheesecake to set completely.
To make the clover garnish, melt 1 ounce of chocolate in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Using a spoon, drop 3 circles of chocolate in a clover pattern, onto wax or parchment paper. Starting where the two bottom clover leafs connect, make a stem. Allow to cool completely and place in the middle of cheesecake.

I'll post more pics after I slice it!

Guinness Cheesecake- Take 2

Devin managed to replace the coil and fix my oven today....

So I am now going to attempt to make this Guinness Cheesecake. I'll post again tonight with pics (assuming my oven doesn't explode again).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Braised Chicken with Button Mushrooms

In spite of my oven drama this morning, I decided to soldier on and fix Easter dinner. I just needed to do it without an oven.

Instead of roasted chicken, I looked up a recipe for braised chicken. I was going to use Alice Waters' recipe, but I wanted to try something different. I consulted my usual two favorite recipe sites- foodtv.com and allrecipes.com.

I chose "Braised Chicken Thighs with Button Mushrooms"- an Emeril recipe. Here is the recipe- I noted my changes.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Button Mushrooms
by Emeril Lagasse

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 chicken thighs- I used a whole cut up chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
16 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups dark chicken stock- I used 2 cups stock plus about a cup of white wine
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
4 cups steamed white rice- I made mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Set a 10-inch, straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin side down in the pan and sear until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.



Turn the chicken over and sear on the second side for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the butter and mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook, stirring often to make a light brown roux, about 4 to 5 minutes.



Add the tomato paste, stock and rosemary to the pan, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.



Return the chicken to the pan, skin side down and cook the chicken for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook until the meat is very tender, about 30 minutes.



I served the chicken over mashed potatoes and added some simmered asparagus.



I would have had a Guinness cheesecake for dessert,if my oven hadn't crapped out on me today. Here's the beautiful crust I made before I saw the flames.....



Anyway, dinner was really good, as is evidenced by this last pic (Dev took it of his plate)....

Things Can Always Get Worse....

How can it get worse than having to boil all water you use? Waking up Easter morning, preparing to bake a Guinness Cheesecake for your sweetie and HAVING YOUR OVEN CRAP OUT ON YOU.

I'm not kidding. It started making a weird buzzing noise and when I opened the door, the coil in the bottom appeared to be on fire. After allowing he oven to cool, Dev took the racks out and looked at the coil- which is broken into about 3 pieces. How does that even happen? I baked biscotti Friday night and a pizza last night with no problem.

So now, not only does the cheesecake not get baked (thank God I preheated the oven before I actually mixed the filling. The only casualty was the crust.), but my plans for roasted chicken and asparagus for Easter dinner must be changed.

Oh well, it will give me a chance to do one of my favorite Alice Walker recipes for braising chicken. I'll post more about the situation later!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why It Sucks to Live in Alamosa Right Now....

This article ran in the local newspaper Thursday morning....

"DENVER - Wednesday March 19th, 2008. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Wednesday has ordered the city of Alamosa to issue a bottled water advisory for Alamosa residents due to an outbreak of Salmonella in the community. Area residents and visitors are advised to immediately stop using tap water form the city's water system for drinking and cooking and to begin using bottled water until further notice.

Until such time as sufficient bottled water resources are available in the community, residents are advised that the next best protection is to boil any water from the city's municipal water system. Water to be consumed should be brought to a rolling boil, but there is no need to boil longer than 15 seconds.

When the flushing of the municipal water system begins, boiling water will not be adequate to protect the public from consuming the water. Only bottled water should be consumed from the time the flushing of the system begins until further notice from city and state officials. Officials will publish notices to inform the public when the municipal system water flushing begins.

Officials from the Colorado Division of Emergency Management and the Emergency Preparedness and Response Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are working with commercial water bottlers and suppliers to help provide bottled water to the community.

State officials also will be working with local officials to flush the city's municipal water system and to complete follow-up water sampling to determine when the water is again safe to drink. It is estimated it may take a week or longer to flush and disinfect the system.

The order was issued after local water sampling test results where positive for bacterial contamination. Residents served by the Price East Alamosa drinking water system that is served by the city's municipal water system are also advised to drink bottled water.

To date, 33 cases of salmonella have been confirmed and linked to the outbreak, and another 46 reported cases of salmonella are being investigated by health officials.

Salmonella is a common bacteria that can cause serious illness. It often comes from contaminated food, but can come from contaminated water. As part of the bottled water order, restaurants are urged to serve bottled water and use ice made from either bottled water or purchased from an ice supplier. Use of food and beverage equipment directly connected to the public water source is discouraged.

Water quality officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment advised locals to use bottled water for at least a week or until notified that the city's water system has been flushed and is free of contaminants.

Salmonella Symptoms

Individuals experiencing diarrhea for two days or more, bloody diarrhea, diarrhea with fever or other concerns, should consult their health care provider. Salmonella symptoms usually begin about one to three days after exposure and include diarrhea, fever and stomach pain. Illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people will recover without medical treatment. However, the diarrhea can be severe, and the person may be ill enough to require hospitalization.

The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems may have a more severe illness. In these patients, the infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other body sites, and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Information about salmonella is available at the COHELP line 1-877-462-2911. People can call for recorded information between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., Monday through Friday.

State consumer protection officials provided the following guidance during the bottled water order:

At home, use bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, making ice, wasting dishes and for adding to any food especially for the preparation of baby formula.
Home-style/domestic dish washing machines are adequate for sanitizing if the heat drying cycle is applied.
bathing and showering in the water should present no problems for healthy individuals. Exercise caution not to ingest water during such activities.
No commercial food preparation should be done unless approved by the local public health agency.
Consider using prepared food from an alternative approved source.
Use only prepackaged foods that do not require any additional preparation other than heating in its original container.
Frequently wash hands and apply hand sanitizer after washing.
Do not touch food with bare hands. Use disposable gloves.
Use frozen/canned produce.
Purchase packaged potable ice.
Do not use water to wash plates, cups and utensils. Use only single -service utensils, such as paper plates, napkins, cups, plastic spoons, forks and knives."

That's right. We got Salmonella. Nothing like a little explosive bloody diarrhea to get you into that Easter spirit.

So I've spent the last 2 days boiling and storing water, as well as buying enough bottled water to get us through the "flushing" period. I also went out and purchased what I like to call Disaster Food. This is food that makes me feel better during any crisis. I'm talking about things like Cheetos, pop-tarts, potato chips, blood orange soda- you know- things that don't need to be heated... :)

Double Chocolate Chunk Biscotti

This recipe came out of "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine back in the early 90's. I made these and put them in my Christmas baskets whatever year this issue came out.
I haven't made this recipe since then. Not because it didn't turn out, but because (like all my other recipes) it got buried under an ever deepening pile of other recipes I wanted to try.
Here's the recipe:

Double Chocolate Chunk Biscotti

1/3 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
4 oz. white baking bar, coarsely chopped
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixer bowl, beat butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds or til softened. Add sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder- beat til combined. Beat in the eggs. Beat in as much flour as you can. By hand, stir in any remaining flour, chopped white chocolate and semisweet chocolate. The batter will be VERY stiff.

Shape dough into a 9 inch log, and flatten to be about 2 inches wide. Put the log on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or til a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on the baking sheet for at least an hour. Decrease oven temp to 325 degrees.

After it cools, cut diagonally with a serrated knife into 1/2 inch thick slices. Put cut side down on the parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake slices for 8 minutes, then flip them over and bake again for 7-9 minutes. Cool slices on a wire cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for a week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Friday Breakfast


Friday Breakfast, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

I love breakfast when you don't have to be anywhere at a certain time. Nothing starts the day better than a big, leisurely breakfast. This morning we were both off, so I fixed scrambled eggs, maple link sausage, toasted bagel, orange segments and in the background you see a small plate of the Double Chocolate Chunk Biscotti I made last night.
This should keep us going for a day of cream cheese making, and a visit to the hot spring tonight!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Roasted Tomato Pasta


IMG_1154, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

This is one of our favorite dinners. I swear I make this once every 2 weeks.
I like it because you can truly use anything you have in the fridge. The recipe is simple....
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Put some water on and boil whatever pasta you want to use. Tonight I used bowtie pasta and a few smashed up lasagna noodles I needed to get rid of. When it is done, drain it, put it back in the pot and hit it with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
Defrost whatever protein you want to use. I used about half a pound of frozen shrimp.
Put 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil in an 8x8 pyrex dish, or whatever oven safe container you have.
I sliced 3 big cloves of garlic and put them in the pan, then cut about 16 grape tomatoes in half and threw them in with the garlic.- then salt and pepper to taste.
Let the tomatoes and garlic roast about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are wilty.
Take it out of the oven and add whatever else you want. I added sliced mushrooms, 2 chopped scallions, half a small container of feta cheese and the shrimp (which I had shelled and deveined). Add a little more olive oil and put it back in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and done.
Take it out of the oven and pour it directly in the pan with the pasta. Stir it all up and add a little chile oil for some heat (or you can add chile flakes at the very beginning before you roast the tomatoes. Sometimes I add a tablespoon or so of pesto, but I didn't have any tonight.
I garnished with grated parmesan and fresh basil. I also served a few slices of crusty french bread to mop up the yummie sauce.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Turkey Taco Salad



This was dinner tonight. I sauteed some ground turkey with chopped onion, ground coriander, oregano, cumin and some tomato paste. I deglazed with some white wine.

I put the meat mixture on a bed of fresh spinach with chopped cucumber, mushrooms, tomatoes, jalapenos and shredded cheese. I topped it with some salsa (made from a dry mix that nearly blew my head off it was so hot) and some homemade southwestern ranch dressing.

Not exactly authentic, but pretty tasty.

Dev loves me.


So much that he made me this Easter Bunny in one of his classes. Awwwwwwww.

The last Spring Break Pic



This is the last of the Spring Break pics. I'm getting a little better at taking pictures out the truck windows, huh?

Dev....



I get this look a lot...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring Break!

Spring Break- Day 1 (Saturday)

After eating a rather eclectic breakfast (we were trying to get rid of the last of the leftovers in the ice box before we left for a week), Dev and I packed the truck and headed for Montrose.

Along with our clothes and other trip necessities, I always try to pack some kind of food and water. I know this sounds stupid, but if we were to get stuck in an avalanche or snow slide, at least we would live a little longer if we could eat some almonds or granola and share a bottle of water. At least it would put off cannibalism a bit longer…

We had 3 routes at our disposal, and Dev chose the Silver Thread Byway (Hwy 149) through Lake City. We passed through Monte Vista, Del Norte, South Fork, Creede and Lake City on our way to Blue Mesa Lake and Hwy 50.

One of the cool things about traveling around in the mountains here is the amount of wildlife you get to see. On this trip we saw a mountain sheep, bounding up the side of a little cliff…



By the time we got to Lake City, we decided to stop and eat some lunch.

As with most little mountain towns, Lake City doesn’t have much going on in the winter. Unfortunately this means there are not many restaurants or shops open, even on Saturday. Dev spotted a little diner on the side of the road, and we pulled off to take our chances.



I am a true believer in the idea that some of the best food around comes from little divey holes in the wall. However, having made some monumentally bad restaurant choices during past trips, I was dreading what might await us inside the Tic Toc Diner.

I am happy to say that the Tic Toc Diner ended up being one of the best places we’ve ever eaten on the road. The menu was varied and the portions were huge. There weren’t many people in the restaurant, but they were locals. The people sitting behind us worked for the local paper. We were entertained the whole time by their conversations about local events and people. I don’t remember our waitress’ name, but she was delightful. She had just a touch of Flo from “Alice” going on. She knew everyone in the place.

Dev ordered the “Albuquerque Turkey” sandwich and I ordered a gyro. We both had Tater Tots. These were very good Tater Tots. Fried- the way a Tater Tot should be.






We will definitely be going back this summer on one of our many anticipated camping adventures!

After lunch we loaded back up in the truck and headed on down the road.

Blue Mesa Lake was completely frozen over, with several little “villages” of ice fishermen in shelters dotting the surface of the ice. We saw deer everywhere, feeding along the side of the road.

We got to Dev’s parents’ house around 3:30pm and settled for an evening of catching up and eating. It’s always good to come home for a while….


Spring Break Day 2

We got up Sunday morning and had a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and toast. After we ate, we sat at the kitchen table a long time, solving the world’s problems over coffee.

Outside, the 5 or 6 cats Dev’s parents have been feeding through the winter were lined up waiting for the buffet.



Cute, aren’t they? I would love to take one of the Maine Coons home with me, but I don’t think we’re ready for pet ownership just yet.

After breakfast we ventured out to do a little shopping. First stop was JC Penney, but I didn’t find any trouble there. Target was another story….

I love Target- probably because I hate Walmart. Target just seems cleaner and nicer to me. I had a list of things to look for, so I didn’t waste anytime getting down to business. I always like to buy dried fruit there, because they usually have a good selection and it is reasonably priced. This time around I bought blueberries and cherries. I also like to buy roasted nuts there, because I like the plastic jars they come in…so I bought some whole cashews and some almonds. There was a sale on the condiment aisle, so I got some traditional Tabasco for a buck, and two mustards- raspberry wasabi and brewmasters.

I was looking for a loose tea thermos for school, and found a really cool Bodum coffee press thermos. You just put the loose tea or coarse ground coffee in the bottom, fill with boiling water, wait 4 minutes, then put on the top and press the plunger down. There is a little sippie cup top that opens after the plunger goes down. Pretty neat- needless to say it came home with me as well.

Next stop was the newly remodeled City Market store. I know, it doesn’t sound very exciting, but this store has a better gourmet cheese case than the Fresh Market in my home town. Not to mention the sushi counter…..

I walked out of there with a tray of salmon and tuna nigiri for lunch and small pieces of Cotswald (a cheddar with chives), Red Leicester Cheddar, and a goat cheese with garlic and herbs. Those are my kinda groceries!

After lunch, we all went to the video store and picked out a movie for later. “American Gangster” proved to be a really good movie. It took a while for them to put the pieces together and really get the movie going, but other than that it was very good. Much less violent and graphic than I imagined it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it had it’s moments of violence, but it made sense within the context of the story- it didn’t seem gratuitous.

Everyone hit the sack around 10:30.


Spring Break Day 3

Monday we decided we would ride up the road to Delta, CO and eat at a little place called Miller's Deitch Haus Restaurant...



I can not possibly tell you how good this place was. It was nothing fancy, just really good down home cooking. The prices were very low and the portions were huge! I ordered the meatloaf (which was the best I'd EVAR had!), mashed potatoes with gravy, fried okra and a from scratch roll. Dev and I split a piece of ShooFly Pie for dessert. The place is owned and run by a group of Mennonites. I had no idea they had such a wonderful food culture! Next time we go in, I may just pick up one of their cookbooks, just to see what goes into all those wonderful dishes.





After lunch, we all needed a walk, so we strolled around downtown Delta and did a little shopping. The local theatre is rather different, as you can see....



No one did much of anything after we got home, except lay around and moan about how full we all were.

Spring Break Day 4

Monday was Dev's mom's birthday, but because we had planned to go out for a big lunch, we waited until Tuesday night to go celebrate.

One of the nicer restaurants in Montrose is a place called Camprobbers. We have been there before and the food is wonderful- a little out of our normal price range, but great for a special occasion.

Here is a pic of the birthday girl, Eleanor (Dev's mom) and Bill (Dev's dad).



For dinner, I ordered the pistachio encrusted, beer battered shrimp with steamed veggies and a baked potato...



After some discussion, it was decided that Dev and I would share a slice of Brandy Alexander Pie for dessert. This was a good call because it was out of this world.




The rest of Spring Break just kind of got past me. We went shopping in Grand Junction on Thursday. There was a return trip to the Mennonite restaurant Friday evening, etc.

We hit the road to come home Saturday afternoon. All in all I would say it was a great Spring Break. We ate a lot, relaxed a lot, talked a lot and slept a lot.

I feel refreshed and ready to go back to school tomorrow!

My First Meme!!!!!!

A great big huge thank you to Gay over at A Scientist in the Kitchen for tagging me for my first meme!

I owe an apology for taking so dirn long to get to it, but it came in my inbox while I was on Spring Break, and I didn't get to a computer for a whole week.

Anyhoo, here are my five lame things...

1. I have ridden in a Presidential motorcade.
2. In spite of my self proclaimed status as a foodie, I have an unexplainable love of velveeta cheese.
3. I HATE coconut.
4. I would love to travel, but really haven't done very much of it (unless you count moving 1700 miles from home).
5. I am phobic about recipes calling for yeast or requiring me to make a cake from scratch.

The rules of this Meme are as follows:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at their Blogs.

For this meme, I am tagging:

Diane at 1700 Miles of Cooking,Jill at Great Cooks Community, Michael of Mel's Diner fame, ChichaJo at 80 Breakfasts and Candance at I Shot the Chef. I know all these people are busy, but I'd love to know more about them. I read their blogs regularly and love their recipes and stories.

I am downloading pics from Spring Break (I didn't take that many), so I'll post about the trip later today.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Presto Pasta Night Round-up is in!


Go on over here to view all the yummie pasta recipes for this week. This was the first time I participated, but it won't be the last!

Spring Break!!!

Ahhhhhh...it's finally Spring Break! Although- around here it actually feels more like Winter Break Part II- but I'll take a week off any way I can get it.

Dev and I are leaving in the morning and driving to Pagosa Springs, CO, to look around. We may stay the night, we may not. From there, we are driving to Montrose to spend some time with his parents.

I plan on doing much shopping and relaxing.

So- even though I'm taking my laptop to keep up with the picture downloads, I may not be able to blog regularly (or at all). If it turns out I can't blog, I promise to catch you up on posts and pics the nanosecond I get back.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Stay Tuned....

For the link to the Presto Pasta Roundup from "Once Upon a Feast." The mastermind behind this great weekly event gave me permission to use the graphic from her sight, so here it is:


She will be posting the round up this afternoon, and I'll check back and put the link here. Or- feel free to toddle on over and check it out yourself.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Conversations With Kids

This is a conversation I had with one of my students today. We are waiting at the door for the second bus to arrive, so I can walk them out.

Student (standing with hands stuffed in her sleeves- using an odd unidentifiable accent)- "I am karate grand champion!"
Me (in an equally odd accent)- "Patience young grasshopper"- as I assume my best ninja pose and wave my hand in her face.
(Student looks at me like I'm from Mars)
Me- "Haven't you ever heard that before? That's a line from a really famous karate movie!
Student- "You're weird."
Me- "Yeah, but weird's good, isn't it?"
Student- "No- it's just weird."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Creamy Polenta and Mushroom Ragout


IMG_1117, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

I really need to buy some plates that aren't white. Everything I make looks all washed out when I try to get a good shot for the blog.

In all honesty, I think whoever blogged this recipe originally must have photoshopped the hell out of the pic I saw of this. There is no way a sauce made with red wine and cream can be anything other than purple.

And I wish I knew to whom to credit this recipe. When I first started my recipe database, I neglected to record where I got the recipe. I have since diligently recorded which blogs I pillage. Anyhoo, if anyone knows who's recipe this is, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due. And believe me, this is sooooooo yummie.

I started by defrosting 2 chicken breasts and beating them senseless with my meat mallet until they were cutlet thin. I then dredged them in a beaten egg (mixed with some hot sauce) and breaded them with panko (mixed with my dad's version of Emeril Lagasse's Essence- kinda spicy). I put them on a baking sheet and baked them at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. To finish them, I put them under the broiler to brown them a bit. Under a foil tent they went to stay toasty while I made the polenta and mushroom ragout. The chicken part was not in the original recipe, but I needed a meat to round out the dinner.

To make the polenta I boiled 4 cups of water and added some salt, then whisked in 1 cup of corn meal. I think most people use yellow corn meal to make polenta, but I didn't have any, so I used white. After I whisked in the polenta, I switched to a wooden spoon and added 4 tablespoons of butter (yes, that's half a stick). I put the heat on low and let it hang out about 15 minutes. I cubed up 4 ounces of cream cheese (no one said this was healthy) and mixed it in. Oh- and I chopped up a couple of teaspoons of fresh sage. I peppered it and put the lid on to keep it warm til I needed it.

On to the ragout. I put the other 4 tablespoons of butter (for those counting- we are up to 1 whole stick of butter in this meal) in a large skillet and put it on medium high heat. When the butter was melted I added 4 cups of sliced cremini mushrooms (that was about a package and a half). I added a teaspoon of salt to help draw out the moisture, and about 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. After the mushrooms released their liquid and got all soft, I added 1/4 cup of red wine (I used cheap merlot) and 1/4 cup heavy cream- and a pinch of salt. I stirred and backed the heat off to medium. I let it reduce about 10 minutes. Because I thought it was still a little thin, I put about a teaspoon of corn starch and the same amount of water in a little dish and mixed it well. I added it to the bubbling mushroom sauce and it almost instantly tightened up and became super glossy.

To serve all this, I put a bed of polenta on the plate, topped it with a ladleful of mushroom ragout, then put the chicken cutlet on the top. I garnished with a few leave of fresh sage.

So, not very photogenic, but killler good.

Just Another Lovely Spring Day in the Valley


IMG_1115, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Last Saturday was absolutely gorgeous. It was the first day since before Thanksgiving that I went out without a jacket on. It was sunny, and there wasn't a single cloud in the sky. I allowed myself to think, just for a fraction of a second, that Spring might be right around the corner.
Silly, silly me.
Sunday morning we awoke to howling winds and sideways snow fall. Crap. Why oh why are we teased mercilessly???
Same thing happened this week. Tuesday was beautiful. It was warm and most of the snow had melted. Out on playground duty, I didn't have to yell at kids to stay off the ice. Then Wednesday lowered the boom again. Out on playground duty, it was snowing. Double crap.
Now I'm sitting here, catching up on all my blogging, and I'm watching snow falling at an alarming rate. The only upside of this is that perhaps it will blizzard all night long and get me out of JURY DUTY tomorrow. Yeah, I know.....

A Regular Monday Night at the Love Shack


IMG_1114, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Yep. This is what we looked like Monday night after stuffing ourselves crazy with gouda macaroni and cheese and watching the season opener of "Top Gear" on BBC America. Sometimes I have to pinch myself.......

Monday, March 3, 2008

Gah!!

I can't believe it....

This evenng, as I was reading through the 287 blogs to which I subscribe, I came across one of my pics on another blog- and it was actually credited to me!

Really!

Go here to check it out. Holy crap.

Gouda Mac and Cheese


IMG_1102, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Dev loves gouda cheese.
We had a hunk of it in our fridge.
So...I decided to make mac and cheese out of it.
Unfortunately, I wasn't going by a recipe, so I can't tell you exactly how I did it. I can give you a blow by blow, but that's about it.
I started by sauteeing an onion in olive oil and butter (if I had to guess at amounts, I'd say maybe a couple of tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil). Oh- and I started boiling the elbow pasta. I boiled about half a pound of pasta for 8 minutes, then drained it.
Back at the cheese sauce...
After the onions had softened (about maybe 5 minutes), I added flour. How much? I have no idea- maybe a quarter cup? I let it cook like a roux for about 5 minutes. I added a little salt and a few drops of hot sauce at this point. I had managed to eek 2 cups of dairy liquid out of my fridge- I had about 1/2 cup of 2% milk, about 1 cup of half and half and maybe 1/2 cup of white wine. I whisked the liquid into the bubbling roux and stirred until it began thickening.
When it got nice and thick, I took it off the heat and added about 2 cups of grated cheese. I used about a half a cup of gouda, a cup of cheddar and half a cup of parmesan. I whisked until the sauce was smooth.
I poured the sauce over the pasta and stirred it together. Into a greased casserole dish it went, then I made a topping of breadcrumbs and olive oil and sprinkled that on top.
It hung out in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the top was brown and the cheese was all happy and talkative.
I served this with some fish steaks I had in the freezer. The steaks were seasoned with blackening spices and then baked with the casserole for the last 15 minutes.
The fish was not at all photogenic, but the mac and cheese was appropriately gooey looking!

I was so happy with this, I think I'll submit it to "Presto Paste Nights." This is a weekly round up of yummie pasta recipes, published on "Once Upon a Feast," which is a blog I love to read. I'm not sure if I can use her nifty graphic on my post, but I'll ask...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Nigella Round Up Published!

Foodie Chickie has published the round up for the Nigella contest on her blog. Take a few minutes to look at the yummie entries!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Menu for March 1-6

Saturday (March 1)- Lasagne
Sunday (March 2)- Roast Chicken with Gouda Mac and Cheese
Monday (March 3)- Chicken Quesadillas with Salad
Tuesday (March 4)- Leftovers
Wednesday (March 5)- Pork Chops with Mushroom Ragout Polenta
Thursday (March 6)- Leftovers
Friday- out

Tea

I love tea.

I love hot tea. I love sweetened ice tea.

The problem is I shouldn't really drink tea. I have had kidney stones in the past and my doctor has told me (several times) I shouldn't drink it because of the tannic(sp) acid. I also shouldn't drink caffeinated tea because my body tends to be very sensitive to caffeine and it makes it difficult for me to sleep.

So I switched to decaf tea. But then I started reading about the methods companies use to decaffeinate tea- many chemicals- that can't be good. I don't know a lot about it, but it seems to me I'm doing more harm than good by drinking massive quantities of commercially decaffeinated tea.

So that leads me to green tea. I have no idea if green tea contains caffeine. I hope it doesn't, because my doctor seems happy with me switching to it. I am even considering making ice tea out of it, although that might be slightly costly.

I don't think I could ever completely go without tea. But if the green tea thing doesn't work out, I guess I'll have to seriously cut back. So sad.

Cheese Making


IMG_1100, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

This is a pic of the lasagne I'm making for tonight's dinner.
Dev was hard at work all day, making mozzarella and ricotta to make this dinner possible.
I have noticed a few differences between home made moz. and store bought moz. On the positive side, home made moz. has more flavor, and is much less rubbery. On the negative side, it doesn't melt the same way store bought does. It doesn't really melt and spread. I think this may mean we need to knead it more during the processing, or perhaps there is something else we could do. If anyone out there is familiar with making moz. and would like to offer some suggestions, I'm all ears.

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