Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pizza Night!

We had quite a successful pizza night around here.  I'm trying to perfect my thin crust pizza dough recipe and my sauce.  For this batch of dough I used half all purpose flour and half semolina flour.  I made the dough 3 days ago and put it in the freezer after the first rise.  After thawing, it rolled out beautifully.  I think I may make one more recipe of dough using more semolina than all purpose flour, just to see if that improves the crisp factor.  If not, I'll be satisfied with the half and half.

I really liked the sauce I made tonight.  I put all of these things in a blender: 3 hot house tomatoes, one shallot, 1 clove garlic, a few glugs of balsamic vinegar, juice of half a meyer lemon, a few glugs of olive oil, a handful of dried oregano and about a tablespoon of honey.  The only thing I might change is the honey.  I think the vinegar was sweet enough. Oh- and I added a healthy pinch of kosher salt.  Because of the fresh tomatoes, the sauce was a bit weepy.  I think heating it briefly in a wide saucepan might help evaporate some of the extra juice.  I might even try a batch with some oven roasted tomatoes to see if that helps with sweetness and moisture content.

I am so close to my definitive pizza recipe... As soon as I get there, I'll publish it here.

I almost forgot!  My toppings of choice this evening were Canadian bacon, goat cheese, kalamata olives, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.  It was very, very good pizza.  I feel sorry for all the people stuck eating Dominoes...  :(

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Italian Chicken Soup- or The Pioneer Woman Strikes Again!

This is some seriously good soup.  I mean really seriously good.  Like I'm so glad I had left overs to freeze so we can eat this again next week!

I have been a regular reader of the blog "The Pioneer Woman" for years.  I rarely ever watch her Food Network show, but I love the blog.

Recently, she did a post of her 10 favorite soup recipes.  This was one of them.

The recipe as it is written is fairly involved.  It took the better part of an afternoon.  I'm glad I did it the long way, though.  It was well worth the time.  However, you could use boxed chicken stock and the meat from a rotisserie chicken and probably get almost the same results.

Here's the link to the recipe.  Please follow the link and make this soup.  Here's one more glance at it simmering away in my soup pot....

This might just be my favorite soup.  At least until I try the other 9 recipes on her list!

A Not So Stellar Lunch- Cleaning Out the Pantry

Whilst cleaning out my pantry this morning, I came across a pouch of instant miso soup.  It only had 2 servings of soup left, so I figured I'd make them for lunch and clean at least one thing out.  The only thing I'm sorrier for than eating that soup is buying it in the first place.  Here's a pic of it....

I want you to look at the package so you make sure you NEVER BUY THIS SOUP!  It was awful.

The directions said to dump the packets in the bottom of a bowl or mug, then pour 8oz. of hot water on it.

That's exactly what I did.  

Here's what it looked like after the application of the aforementioned hot water:

It was weak and way under seasoned.  The little white cubes of freeze dried tofu tasted like wet cardboard.

To think I ate this, when I had wonderful real white miso paste and dashi flakes in my pantry is a crime against humanity.

The only bright side in this situation was that now my pantry is free of gross instant miso soup.

Oh- and I also managed to get rid of the one piece of disgusting whole wheat/flax flatbread by making a turkey sandwich.  :)

Pantry Cleaned!

I have successfully cleaned out my pantry!  I had lots of duplicates and bags/boxes with tiny amounts in them.  I can't throw them out, so now I must be creative about how to use them up!  Ideas are slowly surfacing...

I finished just in time to find out Dev's mom is coming this weekend anyway!  She's about an hour out. Now I have to figure out what to have ready for lunch.  I was planning on miso soup and sandwiches for Dev and myself, but I'm not sure she'll go for that. Hmm.....  Sandwiches I have under control.  I may have to put the soup on hold, though.

I may make corn dogs out of the left over bits of pancake mix I found in the pantry.  It seems like I saw a recipe circulating on the interwebz one time about how to use pancake batter to make them.  I guess I'll find out!

What's in Your Refrigerator?

I am embarking on a massively ambitious project today.  I am cleaning out my ice box AND my pantry.  I know.  I've completely lost it.  What drove me to this insanity, you ask?  I'm tired of spending too much money at the store every week, buying things I probably don't need, all because I have NO IDEA what already lurks in my pantry.

When we first moved into our house, Dev built a mac daddy pantry for me under the stairs.  I proceeded to fill it with all manner of strange and wonderful things.  Then I promptly got about my life and forgot completely what I already had in it.  Sad, no?

So in a show of transparency (I hate that word) and to keep me honest, I am going to publish here a list of the contents of my ice box.  Note:  I honestly try to buy organic for all my dairy, eggs, produce and meat.  I know not everyone can do that, but I'm lucky that we have no kids (other than Bear) and we both are willing to pay more for the security and nutrition.  That's not to say that we are health nuts.  We are FAR from that.  I also have my share of crap (as you'll see).   These are the things I have on hand RIGHT NOW...

Door:
eggs
BBQ sauce (bottled and homemade)
Worcestershire sauce
prepared horseradish
capers
fish sauce
teriyaki sauce
balsamic ketchup
sesame oil
Major Grey's mango chutney
Duke's mayo (I have a black market supplier back home :)
French's yellow mustard
strawberry/rhubarb pie filling
jarred roasted red peppers
ginger/soy dipping sauce leftover from a recipe
apple butter
jarred minced ginger
mirin (cheap Japanese cooking wine)
bottled gyozo sauce
bottled caramel sauce
walnut oil
dijon mustard
chicken, seafood and beef stock concentrate
wasabi paste in a tube
tomato paste in a tube
6 bottles New Belgium 1554
Reisling
Merlot
Chardonnay

Top shelf:
glass jar of bacon drippings
container of leftover cheese grits
bottled lemon juice
1 pint heavy cream
leftover cream cheese glaze from a batch of cinnamon rolls
jug of maple syrup
container of cabbage slaw

Next shelf:
dog food
store bought chocolate icing (leftover from cupcakes for Dev's class)
container of home made pesto
whole chicken (thawing for a batch of soup later today)
container of home made yogurt in a strainer
chicken/cheddar quiche defrosting from the freezer

Next shelf:
paper bag of cremini mushrooms
container of balsamic pickled chipolini onions
container of white miso
container of olives
sour cream
jar of pickled baby corn
Yoplait strawberry yogurt
jar of marinated artichoke hearts
soy sauce

Cheese drawer:
cream cheese
goat cheese
Wensleydale with cranberries
lunchmeat chicken breast
yellow cheddar
Canadian bacon
provolone slices
won ton wrappers
gorgonzola
white cheddar
fresh thyme
asiago
one sliced orange (for cider)
fancy merlot aged cheddar
dill havarti

Main shelf:
buttermilk
club soda
whole milk
sour cherry juice
chai concentrate
apple cider
half n half

Crisper drawer:
paper bag full of assorted chiles (poblano, jalapeno, anaheim, etc.)
half an onion in a baggie
cilantro
parsley
pea shoots
bag of meyer lemons
lemons
limes
carrots
cabbage
celery

Bread drawer:
hot dog buns
corn tortillas
wheat/flaxseed flatbread (yuck)- must figure out how to use this

This turned out be quite an eye-opening exercise.  How can I constantly say I have nothing to make for dinner?

Another reason for doing this is to find out how far afield I am of normal.  Is this what other people keep in their ice boxes?




Lazy Saturday Breakfast

Dev's mother was supposed to drive over to stay with us for the weekend, but apparently the pipes in her house froze last night....so she's busy dealing with that.   With no house guest, breakfast became much lower maintenance.

Dev makes yogurt for me whenever I ask him to.  I like it because I strain it and use it like Greek yogurt.  I had a batch in the strainer overnight, so I attempted to make strawberry-rhubarb yogurt this morning.  I don't think it turned out very well.  I used some pie filling I already had on hand, and it just didn't get it sweet enough to over ride the tartness of the rhubarb.

Next time I think I'll do two things differently.  One- I'll use jam to sweeten because it's mostly sugar.  Two- I'll put it in my Kitchenaide to smooth it out more.  I did this batch by hand and it was lumpy.

I have no photos because I forgot to take them. :(

On to my project for the day..... cleaning out the pantry!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter Salsa

I love making salsa, especially ones with fresh, raw ingredients.  Fresh salsa doesn't exactly scream winter, but this one uses things I can get locally pretty much all year around.  Here's the run down...

The main ingredient in this salsa is cabbage.  I like to cut mine with a chef's knife, but if you want to dirty your whole food processor, you can use the slicing blade.  I was not in the mood to spend more time cleaning up than I spent making the salsa to begin with.  You could also add shredded carrot as well, but I didn't have any.  This was all about cleaning out my crisper drawer!  I also had 6 small hot house tomatoes I got from the farm down the road from us.  Even hot house tomatoes pale in comparison to early fall tomatoes, but I like them better than tinned tomatoes (although you could drain diced tomatoes and use those if you wanted).  Besides, tomatoes aren't the star here like they are in summer salsas.  I minced one shallot and one clove of garlic and added that to the bowl.  I seeded and chopped one large fresh jalapeno (from the same farm I got the tomatoes) and chopped a huge handful of fresh cilantro.  I salted it well and added fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice and the juice of one lime.  I sprinkled some red wine vinegar around and finished it with some really good quality Portuguese olive oil.  To me, the real kicker was the tortilla chips I get from the farm.  They get them from a local tortilla maker and they are very lightly salted.  To get them really good, you need to toast them in a 400 degree oven for 7 minutes or so.  Then they are achingly crisp and full of amazing corn flavor.  If you don't live next to a tortilla maker, make the chips yourself using corn tortillas from the store.  You will be so happy you did.  It takes more effort but the pay off is huge.

Make a huge batch of this because not only does it disappear quickly, but it gets better after it sits in the fridge for a day.

Oreo Truffles

Sorry for the blurry picture.  I was way too lazy to walk upstairs and get the $600 camera I bought specifically for taking pictures for my blog.  I'm on vacation. :)

So this is so easy it borders on embarrassing.  Every time I make these and take them somewhere, people go nuts.  If I was more cool and sophisticated, I'd just smile slyly and bask in the compliments.  But not me!  I immediately begin spouting off all the reasons no one should be impressed.  I never was a cool kid.

So here's what it takes to make these....one bag of regular oreos and one block of room temperature cream cheese (8oz).  That's it.  The only other thing you need is whatever you want to roll them in.  Some people dip them in candy coating, but I think they are already sweet and rich enough, and that makes them throat-tickly sweet.  I like rolling them in unsweetened or salty coatings.  It makes them more balanced.

Let's get started, shall we?   You take the oreos and blitz them around in your food processor until they look like dirt- no white filling showing.  Then dump the oreo crumbs in your mixer and add the package of softened cream cheese.  Put the mixer on lowish and let it go until the stuff is mixed together and dark black- no white showing.  Roll the dough into whatever size ball you want.  I think smallish is better because these are really sweet.  Starting at top left, I rolled some in crushed graham cracker crumbs, crushed salted peanuts (this was my favorite!) and lastly, unsweetened cocoa powder and espresso powder.

Whip up a batch and take them to work.  I promise you will make friends!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Song that's Stuck in my Head...

This song has been playing on our video announcements at school since Wednesday of last week.  Every time I hear it, the chorus gets stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

video

I guess you could say this is the modern British version of School House Rock....

There are several more videos.  I'll find my favorites and post them here.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another New Favorite Thing

This stuff is addictive.  If I can't get to Starbucks for a chai, this mix is a good substitute.  If I feel really decadent, I make it with whole milk instead of water.

If you can find it, buy it.  I think Cost Plus Word Market used to carry it in individual packets.

Amazon carries it in tins, but you have to buy a case.

A New Favorite Thing

I have fallen in love with Harvest Squash Ravioli from Pappardelle's Pasta.   Seriously.  I was looking for a relatively quick dinner, so I could get on with my mid-term grading, and I remembered I had bought a box of this from our local farm store.  With very little effort on my part, I managed to put an impressive dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.  Here's what I did....

I trimmed a pound of green beans and tossed them in olive oil and salt- then popped them in a 425 degree oven.  While the beans roasted, I boiled water in my pasta pot, salted it and added the box (12 large ravioli) of pasta to rapidly boiling water.  I turned down the heat a little and cooked the ravioli about 8 minutes.  While the pasta was cooking I added about 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, salt, chopped fresh sage leaves and 1 clove of garlic, finely minced to a non-stick skillet.  I let it heat up and begin to foam.  As the ravioli started floating, I took them out of the water with a spider, then plopped the first 6 in the sizzling butter/herb/garlic mixture.  I plated 6 ravioli with some roasted beans and that was the end of that.  I topped the hot, toasted raviolis with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper.  Amazing.

I can't wait to go back to the farm store and try some different flavors.  I was thinking the harvest squash would also be good pan fried and served with cinnamon and powdered sugar as a dessert.  I might try that next time!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Breakfast!

This was my breakfast this morning. I had a tiny heel left from the wheat bread I baked last weekend, so I toasted it, topped it with a fried egg, then added the last of the roasted tomato/poblano salsa, grated cheddar, crumbled tortilla chips and fresh scallions. All in all, a great way to start a Friday!

Here's the recipe for the salsa:

I roasted the last of the yard tomatoes with a poblano pepper. When they were charred, I put them in a blender with some olive oil, a little red wine vinegar and some fresh lemon juice. After it whirred around a few minutes, I added some salt. That's pretty much it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Somehow I have managed to amass 5 or 6 cans of pumpkin puree in my pantry.  Perhaps I thought a global pumpkin shortage was threatening last year?  I don't know.  Anyway- now that it's fall, I'm well armed to venture into the world of pumpkin baked goods.
I decided to use a can of the pumpkin to make these pumpkin spice muffins. They just came out of the oven and they smell amazing!






Up next- the cream cheese frosting- oh yeah!

So now they're all frosted and happy.

I think this recipe is a keeper; the muffins are really moist but not overly sweet.

The true test will be whether or not my 8th graders will eat them.  I will let you know!

Here are some shots of them after they received their crowns of homemade cream cheese frosting...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Art Project

I am tackling apostrophes this week in 8th grade Literacy.  I'm not sure I have the intestinal fortitude to slog through.  We're starting with the basics and I needed a content poster to get my point across.
This is what I came up with.  I guess it's a good thing I don't teach art!  :)

Tuna Poke

So one of my favorite appetizers at our favorite sushi restaurant (No Coast Sushi in Grand Junction, CO) is the tuna poke.  The last time we went there, I asked the sushi chef what was in it.  He told me, and I decided to try it myself.

I was at Whole Foods earlier today and they had a few odds and ends of sushi grade tuna.  I would never buy a whole pound, both because it's expensive, and because I'm really the only one in the house who'd eat it the way nature intended- raw!  But I was willing to spend $10 on the end piece of a fillet.


I brought it home and cut it in a small dice.  Then I marinated the pieces in a little shoyu (soy sauce), sesame oil (not too much because it is really strong flavored), a tiny amount of garlic powder a small handful of sesame seeds and about 4 Tbsp. of flash fried scallions (chopped scallions thrown into hot oil for about 45 seconds), and a few fresh chopped scallions.  I let that marinate in a bowl while I flash fried some won ton wrappers.  To serve it, I put about a tablespoon of tuna poke on a won ton chip.

It was wonderful! It tasted very close to the restaurant version.  I probably can't afford to do this very often- but it's nice to know I can do it if I want to!

More Halloween Fun!

Heh.  I'm having way too much fun with this.  I'm seriously considering using this as a Halloween card this year.

Halloween Fun

This is what happens when I start playing around in PicMonkey.  You really should go check it out.  You can upload photos to this site and play around with them.  It is virtually the same as Picnik, but I think Picnik was absorbed by Google.  Anyhoo- this is the site I use to watermark all my blog photos.  They have some cool Halloween filters and gadgets up for the month of October.  Right now everything's free, but I think sooner or later they will develop memberships similar to Picnik.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Roasted Tomato Pasta

We are harvesting a bumper crop of grape tomatoes this year.  We are picking them faster than I can figure out what to do with them.

Day before yesterday I made my all time favorite pasta dish with some of them.  I have blogged about this a hundred times, but I swear- I make this dish more often than just about any other dish in my rotation.

I oiled an 8x8 pyrex brownie pan.  In it I threw lots of pretty little grape tomatoes, a chopped zucchini, several cremini mushrooms and about 3 cloves of garlic, minced.  I salted and peppered it all and roasted it at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes.  I added some chopped raw shrimp, about half a block of feta (crumbled) and maybe half a container of gorgonzola crumbles.  After adding a little more olive oil, it went back in the oven for about 10 minutes.  While that was happening, I boiled some bow tie pasta for the 11 minutes it recommended on the package.

When the pasta was done, I drained it, put it back in the pot, and poured all the olive oily, garlicky, shrimpy goodness on top and mixed it well.  It was even more outrageous after sitting in the ice box all night- it made a wonderful lunch!

CrockPot Dinner

So tonight's dinner was easy.  When I'm on bus duty, I'm always tempted to cheat and throw a frozen pizza in the oven.  These longer school days- then afternoon duty on top of that- are really kicking my butt.

Fortunately I thought about that yesterday, and prepped a chicken to cook in my crockpot while we were in school today.

I totally made this up as I went along, but it turned out pretty well.  I cleaned out my ice box veggie drawer and put some trimmed green beans, peeled and chopped sweet potatoes, thick sliced onions, three cloves of coarsely chopped garlic and one sad looking chopped zucchini in the bottom of my crockpot.  I salted and peppered a 4 pound organic chicken and put it on top of the veggies.  I knew I needed a little liquid to get things started, but I didn't want to use water.  The only other thing I had was some spicy tomato juice, so I used it.  Next time I will plan ahead and dump a beer or a cup or two of white wine in.

I put it on low this morning before breakfast.  By the time we got home to eat around 6pm, it was falling off the bone.  I served it on a trencher of homemade white bread- with extra juice.  Very tasty!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Dip- or- Using your Co-Workers as Guinea Pigs!

I love having people over.  I'm not sure from whom in my family I inherited this trait, but I got it big time.  My husband is not so thrilled with company.  I think it's because he's a neat freak, and he feels like the house has to be spotless if people are coming over.  I am the exact opposite- I feel like people are coming over to have fun and hang out- not give my furniture the white glove treatment.

Anyhoo- I am having the grade level team leaders from my school over tomorrow afternoon for our kick off meeting.  I hosted all our meetings last year, and I love it.  We hang out on the patio and I get to try out all kinds of new appetizer recipes on them.  It's a win-win.  They get a comfy place to meet away from school, and I get to cook new stuff AND get immediate feedback.

The menu for tomorrow's meeting is:  veggie chips with herbed yogurt dip, cheese plate (this time around we're having Brie and a smoked cheddar), fruit, mixed nuts, gorgonzola/brie chips (sinful and very easy!) and the dip pictured above- Buffalo Chicken Dip.  Here's the link to the recipe.  I have tried other versions of this, but seriously, this one is drop dead simple.  You can put it together and throw it in a crock pot, or you can do what I did- bake it in a casserole dish.  I put it together this afternoon, and I'll put it in the oven right before the meeting starts.  I think it will be best when served steaming hot!  I will provide carrot sticks and tortilla chips for dipping.  Here's a parting close up of the deliciousness!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Strawberry Jam Cake and Homemade Vanilla Icecream

That is a really lousy picture of a pretty decent dessert.

After my success with the world's largest strawberry rhubarb pie, I decided to try and bake a cake.  Sounds so simple, doesn't it?  Living 5,500 feet above sea level makes it a daunting task.

But let's start with the ice cream recipe.  Normally, I use a sweet cream ice cream recipe from my trusty Ben & Jerry's book.  Today I wanted something a little less fussy, because I was  also fixing dinner and baking a cake.

I googled "easy vanilla ice cream recipe" and this is what I found.  I like it because it only has a few ingredients, and it doesn't require eggs!  That turned out to be a really good thing, because later, I needed all 3 of my eggs to make the cake!

With the ice cream churning around in my ice cream maker, I turned my attention to the cake.  I found this recipe in the July/August 2012 issue of "Tea Time" magazine.  The recipe was for fussy little individual cakes.  I made the batter and baked it in a 13x9 pan.

Strawberry Jam Cake

2 cups cake flour (I used AP because at my altitude, it gives more structure)
1 teaspoon baking powder (I used about a quarter teaspoon less, again because of altitude)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar (I subtracted 2 tablespoons- altitude)
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red food coloring
1/3 cup buttermilk (I used about 4 tablespoons more- altitude)

Preheat oven to 350- I baked mine at 375 to adjust for altitude.  Grease a 13x9 cake pan- I used my pyrex.

Mix everything from the flour to the baking soda in a medium bowl.  I used a whisk to get everything really incorporated.

Cream the butter and sugar in your mixer until light and fluffy- about 4 minutes on high speed.  Add the strawberry jam and mix well.  Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well after each addition.  Add vanilla and a tiddly bit of food coloring.  Now alternate the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Make sure everything is well incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides of the mixture every once in a while during the process.

Pour the batter evenly into your prepared 13x9 dish.  Bake for about 25 minutes- but start checking for doneness at about 15 minutes.

Here's the frosting recipe:

Strawberry-Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
2 tablespoons seedless strawberry jam (I added a little more for additional strawberry flavor)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
Red food coloring (I didn't use any)

Put everything in the bowl of your mixer and start on low speed until everything is incorporated.  Switch to high speed to whip in some air to make it light.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Curried Chicken Salad

This was another clean out the ice box adventure...

I made the dressing first. In a cereal bowl, I put about 3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt, maybe 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons mango chutney (store bought), a little curry powder, salt and white pepper. To that, I added maybe 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken, some minced celery, a couple of handfuls of pecan pieces and some chopped dried cherries. A nice addition would be some chopped scallion, but I didn't have any. I mixed it all up and that was that. I had it for lunch yesterday with crackers. Today I put it on a toasted croissant with sliced cucumber and kale.

This did not suck.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Frustration and Procrastination

I guess those two things go hand in hand.  Procrastination may not be the correct term, though.  Perhaps laziness is a better noun.  I don't know.  All I know is I'm tired of short changing my family and myself when it comes to procrastination about preparing meals.

Of all people, I should be the one constantly turning out new and wonderful dishes- especially in the summer when I'm not teaching.  I have absolutely no excuse.  But still, it happens.

Take today for example.  I have been in and out of the kitchen all day.  I made home made chicken stock, buttermilk Kentucky biscuits and rhubarb jam.  But when 3:00 rolls around, I haven't the slightest idea what to do for dinner- nothing defrosted, no recipe ready and waiting... Why is that?  I think and write about food 85% of the time, and the other 15% is spent reading about it.  So why am I so lazy about preparing meals?

Maybe it's cooking for another person that throws me off.  Devin has different taste in food.  Things I would eat for dinner, I'm not so sure he would.  I always have to stop and wonder if he's going to like what I fix.  Which is completely ridiculous, because he eats whatever I put in front of him.  He has never complained (except that one time he told me dinner smelled like dog food).

Perhaps it's all the dazzling options.  There are very few foods I don't like.  As much as I read about food, I could go for any of a thousand things at any given meal.  I stock a pretty decent pantry and freezer- but to utilize them effectively I have to plan ahead- and that is my big downfall.

So if I know planning ahead is my Achilles Heel, then I need to get better at it.  Make a list of what's in my freezer, then go to the pantry and plan meals around it.  Sounds so simple, doesn't it?

As soon as we finish eating the take out brisket I picked up, I'll get right on that.  :)

Rhubarb Jam

I have the good fortune of a mother in law who grows rhubarb. She came to visit us last weekend and brought me quite a huge bundle. I made a strawberry rhubarb slab pie with some of it (blog post to follow later) and this morning I made jam with what was left.

I found this recipe in my Rachel Ray magazine.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups rhubarb, sliced thin

In a medium skillet over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water, stirring frequently. When the sugar has disappeared, add the rhubarb and cook 10 or 15 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and broken down. Cool and put it in a container.

This isn't a huge batch jam. It made enough to last about a week, and maybe share with a friend.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

More Unsupervised Foodie ridiculousness

Today's lunch consisted of putting the last of the steelhead trout and roasted tomatoes on a small frozen cheese pizza. That makes it gourmet and fancy, right?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Unsupervised Foodie Snack

What is this? It's what happens when I am left alone for a while.
Specifically, this is lightly salted kettle cooked chips (brand makes no difference), Brie and Gorgonzola cheeses- baked at 375 for about 10 minutes.
I can't take credit for the idea- I have to thank the fine folks at Bar.Food in Savannah, GA for the original dish. But I can tell you there have been many happy committee members sitting in my kitchen, munching on this. Try it yourself- I promise you won't be sorry!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Breakfast- Huevos Benedictos

I love making breakfast in the summer.  I can be much more creative when I'm not rushed.  This particular breakfast is a favorite in our house.  It uses one of my new favorite things- tostada shells.  Basically they are pre-fried corn tortillas.  I think they have way more flavor and crispiness than tortilla chips.  Our grocery stores carry a few different brands, but they're all basically the same.  I warm them in the oven for a few minutes to get them really crispy- then top them with whatever I want.

In this version I topped them with eggs (mine were fried, Dev's were scrambled), salsa, cheddar and scallions.  It's quick, filling and when served with fruit and/or yogurt, not an entirely unhealthy breakfast!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Shrimp Tex-Mex Breakfast Bowl

video

A video demonstration!  This is what I decided to do with my left over shrimp chimichanga filling.  Let me now what you think!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shrimp Chimichangas

This was dinner.  I think it came out rather well.

I have become enamored of gorgonzola cheese.  My fascination began with a simple plate of potato chips, covered with brie and gorgonzola.  After that, I snuck some gorgonzola into my next batch of macaroni and cheese.  I realized that when the situation calls for a rich, savory cheese sauce- gorgonzola is your go to cheese.

Tonight I wanted Tex-Mex.  I defrosted half a pound of shrimp and sauteed them with some diced white onion and one chopped jalapeno.  When all that was done, I added a handful of gorgonzola crumbled and about 2 tablespoons of whipped cream cheese.  To finish it off, I squeezed in some fresh lime juice and chopped some of the first fresh herbs from my garden.  I wrapped the filling in a flour tortilla and pan fried it until the tortilla was shatteringly golden brown and crisp.  Garnished with salsa and sour cream, this was a great dinner!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ham and Gouda Croquettes

I have stumbled upon another great use for leftover mashed potatoes- and ham.
I put about 3 good sized slices of really good glazed ham in the food processor and blitzed it into little pieces. Then I dumped it in a bowl with about a cup of leftover mashed potatoes and some smoked Gouda I cut into little cubes. I formed the mixture into patties and put them in the ice box while I put together the breading and heated the oil.
For the breading I mixed panko bread crumbs with some black pepper, dried oregano, garlic and onion powder and some powdered Vermont cheddar. I dipped the patties in a beaten egg, then coated them in the bread crumb mixture. They pan fried in olive oil until they were golden brown and crispy.
They turned out really well. You could do this with any protein and cheese combination.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Dinner

So here's a pic of my Easter dinner. Nothing fancy- glazed ham, mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans with grape tomatoes and mushrooms, and biscuits.

Poached Eggs

There are things in the culinary world that terrify me.  Rice used to be one of them, until I figured out how to do it well on an electric stove.  The gift of a rice steamer made that one a slam dunk.

Poached eggs, on the other hand, still terrify me.  I love them dearly.  Almost every time Dev and I go out for breakfast, I order them, mostly because I'm scared to do them at home.

I found a video on my Food 52 newsletter this morning (I highly recommend their newsletters- I get great recipes and wonderful tips like this one once a week).  It shows a fairly fool-proof method of poaching an egg using 2 spoons.  I probably won't try this during the school week, but you can bet your bottom dollar my breakfast next Saturday morning will include a beautifully poached egg!



Saturday, April 7, 2012

Raspberry Cheesecake French Toast

Necessity is the mother of invention.  Everyone knows this.  I think the best meals I make are the ones that don't follow recipes- I just use up what I have left on hand.

This breakfast was one of those things.  I had about a quarter of a loaf of wheat french bread left after dinner Thursday night, and I needed to use it up.  French toast immediately came to mind as I was lying in my bed this morning.

There really isn't a recipe.  I cut 2 really thick sliced of bread, then used the bread knife to cut a slit in each piece.

In a small bowl I mixed the last quarter cup or so of whipped cream cheese out of the tub and mixed it with a few tablespoons of raspberry jam and about 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar.  I put as much of the cream cheese mixture in the pocket of the toasts as I could, then dunked the bread in a combination of 2 eggs, a splash of heavy cream, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of cinnamon and a dash of kosher salt.  I preheated a cast iron skillet, put a tablespoon of butter in, then when the butter melted, cooked both sides of the pieces of french toast.

While the toast was cooking, I took the little bit of jam left in the bottom of the jar and microwaved it.  When the toast was done, I drizzled the raspberry jam/sauce over the top.

This did not suck.

Rosemary Beer Bread with Gouda

When I first started collecting recipes on the interwebz- you know, back before Pinterest, I had a bad habit of copying and pasting recipes and forgetting to attach the website address to the document.  Because of this lazy habit, I have quite a few recipes that I can't credit to the right people.

This bread recipe is one of those.  It's in the oven right now and is making my house smell beyond wonderful.  If anyone recognizes this recipe and knows whose it is, please leave a comment so I can give credit where it is so rightly due.

I added about 2 cups of hickory smoked gouda cheese to the dry ingredients.  Dev loves smoked gouda, and I had a huge piece in the ice box.  I also reduced the sugar to 1/8 cup, because I wanted this to be more of a savory bread to use for leftover ham later this week.  I also upped the rosemary to 2 teaspoons (I was using dry) because I have a big bag of dried rosemary that I need to use up. I ground the rosemary a little in my spice grinder so it would be easier to incorporate into the dough.  I can hear my husband saying, "Why do you bother to look at recipes when you always haul off and do your own thing anyway?"  I guess it's a good thing I don't listen very often, huh?

Here's the recipe for Rosemary Beer Bread-


3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coarse salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped, or 1 tsp dry
1 12oz. can of beer 
1/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all dry ingredients together in large bowl.  Add beer and stir well to incorporate.  Batter is quite thick. Pour/press into greased LARGE loaf pan, or an 8x8 inch baking dish.  Pour melted butter over batter.  Run a knife around edges so the butter runs down sides. Place in the middle of your oven and bake for about 50 minutes if using loaf pan, and about 30 minutes if using 8 inch square.  If butter runs over, place aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and place this on the rack beneath your bread.  Let bread cool for about 15 minutes, then run knife around edges and remove from pan.  Serve warm. 

Update:  I took this out of the oven, and I swear half the loaf was gone within 20 minutes.  Only Dev and I are here.... oops.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Crab Salad

It seems a bit of a reach to call this a recipe.  It's so simple.  But sometimes the simple things are the best.
My sister Cindy and I used to frequent this sushi place in Savannah.  Cindy's favorite roll was a gunken-type sushi filled with some type of crab salad.
When I was home during December, she and I went back to that sushi place, and the crab gunken roll was nowhere to be seen.  Needless to say, Cindy was heartbroken.  I started thinking about the crab salad (and the shrimp salad, which used the same basic ingredients) and figured it couldn't be that hard to make.
The biggest stumbling block I faced when I decided to replicate this recipe was access to good quality crab meat.  I ended up settling for lump crab meat in a pouch.  Is it the same as fresh crab from home?  No.  Is it better than canned crabmeat?  YES!
Here is a shot of all the ingredients I used: 1 pouch of crabmeat, some lemongrass paste, Duke's mayonnaise, dijon mustard and chopped scallions.  I think Japanese mayo would be a better choice, but I can't find it where I live.  Japanese mayo seems to be a bit sweeter.
So here's a shot of the ingredients in a bowl.  I can't really give you amounts, because it depends on what you decide to put in your salad.  It just needs to come together and look like crab salad.  I mixed mine with a fork because I wanted to break some of the crabmeat up, but not all of it.  Don't over mix this.  You want chunks of crabmeat in there.
This tastes very similar to what I remember from the sushi place.  Cindy will be the final judge, however.  You could do this same thing with shrimp or chicken.
I'm planning to use my batch a couple of different ways.  I have mini croissants to make sandwiches (adding sliced cucumber).  I also have spring roll wrappers, so I'll wrap rice noodles, cucumber, avocado, mango and the salad.  As an appetizer, I could serve this in little phyllo shells with a sliver of mango on the top.  I also think this would be good in a quesadilla with monterrey jack and mango.
Sounds like maybe I should make another batch!

I love Sundays!

This is Bear.  This is how he helps me cook on Sundays.  The only thing that will rouse him from his nap in that sunbeam is his bionic ability to hear food hitting the floor.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

This Is One Happy Dog!

Bear is one seriously happy dog.  We took him up to Rifle Mountain Park so he could run around like a crazy dog.  He did.

As I write this, he is snoring in his crate.  Life is beautiful!

Stuffed Chiles

So this is the first meal I made from the ingredients in my basket this week.

The basket had several Anaheim chiles, so I decided to try stuffing  and baking them.

I started with my regular, go-to meat mixture (one pound of organic ground beef and one pound pork chorizo).  I jazzed it up a little this time, though.  I added a chopped white onion and a chopped Anaheim chile.

I halved and seeded the peppers, stuffed them with the meat mixture and topped them with Monterrey Jack cheese.  I baked them at 350 for about 45 minutes.

These were really good, but I think I could have used more cheese and less meat.  I liked the baked peppers, though.  They became sweet and soft after they were baked.  This was quick and delicious!

My Commute

I was driving out of my neighborhood on Saturday to get a few groceries.  I thought the sky looked so cool, I had to stop and snap a picture.

Simplicity

This was breakfast Saturday morning.  I had a chocolate croissant.  Dev opted for the raspberry cream cheese variety.  I didn't even make them.  They came from a local restaurant, Creekbend Bistro.  We had dinner there Friday night, and I asked if they had any croissants in the case.  Luckily they did, so I knew Saturday morning breakfast would be a breeze!  Dev had his with coffee.  I chose vanilla almond milk (my new favorite beverage).

Stacked Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

This was a quick week night meal.  It doesn't look like much, but it tasted wonderful.

I love enchiladas, but I don't always love the idea of the assembly.  This method yields the same delicious results, but with none of the work.

I can't take credit for this, however.  There was a Tex-Mex restaurant not too far from where we used to live in Alamosa, CO that made their enchiladas this way.  Too bad I can't remember the name of the restaurant....I have their cookbook....somewhere.

So I started with the batch of home made salsa I had in the ice box, but you could certainly use jarred salsa, or even canned enchilada sauce (whatever you have on hand).  I put a few spoonfuls on the bottom of the plate.

One word about oven to table dinnerware.  My dishes are supposed to be oven safe- up to 450.  But really, they aren't.  They can take a low oven (say 200 or 250 for keeping pancakes warm) but right after we ate dinner, both of these plates cracked in half.  Next time, I'll do this on a parchment lined baking sheet, then transfer with a large spatula.  Or better yet- use this as an excuse to buy a set of shallow terra cotta bakers I've had my eye on for a while.... :)

Ok- where were we... Oh yeah, we had a couple of spoonfuls of salsa on the plate.  On top of that, put a flour tortilla.  I didn't even bother to heat them.  If you are being authentic, you could dredge the tortilla in your red sauce first.  Whatever floats your boat!  On top of the flour tortilla, I spread about 4 tablespoons of refried beans with chorizo.  You could use whatever you wanted- even whole beans. On top of the beans I put a layer of grated sharp cheddar and chopped scallions.  White onions would be good here, too, and probably more authentic.  Then stack another tortilla, more beans, more cheese, more onions and one more tortilla.  I put more salsa on top, then covered it with cheese and more onion.   I baked mine on 375 for about 15 or 20 minutes.  You want it to go kinda slow to warm everything and melt all the gooey cheese.

I took them out of the oven and put them on the table.  The garnish was chopped cucumber.  If had cilantro and fresh tomato, I would have used that, too.

This is really rich, but it's a belly filler.  If you wanted to add a nice, clean touch, you could put a salad out there with it.  I didn't.  It was Wednesday.  I was hungry and tired.

Bountiful Baskets!

That amazing pile of fruit and vegetables all came from my share of Bountiful Baskets this week.

I guess I can't complain that I don't have anything to cook for dinner this week, huh?  If anything, I'm going to struggle to use or freeze it all before it begins to decompose.

Already I feel like it's making me a little healthier.  This weekend I've tried to use as much of it as I can, which means that meat has definitely taken a back seat on the menu.

I'll try to blog all the different things I make with all this goodness.  I swear, half the battle is remembering to take pics in the heat of battle!

Cheese, Grommet!

Do you know what that is?  That is a tiny piece of cheese.  The last tiny bit of a chunk of cheese I will miss horribly.  The name of this amazing cheese is Reypenaer.
Let me tell you what the wrapper says about this cheese....
"Reypenaer cheese, one of the great Dutch cheeses, is carefully matured for about one year.  This Dutch gourmet cheese is aged less than the Reypenaer Ysop, although it is already very old as cheeses go.  It does not have the sharper tangy taste of the Reypenaer Ysop, instead it has a soft and creamy flavor that lingers on the palate.  Simply delicious!"
You know what I say about this cheese?  If I can't find it anywhere anymore I will die.  This cheese is the love child of a really good smoked gouda and a really expensive parmigiano reggiano.  I think it is pretty sharp and tangy- even if the wrapper disagrees with me.
I found this in the fancy cheese section of the Montrose City Market.  I hope I can find it somewhere nearer to Rifle.  This was so good, I'd be willing to order it on the internet.  And pay horrible shipping charges.  And suffer the jeering of all my friends.
This isn't the sort of cheese you grate over nachos.  This cheese is to be enjoyed in small amounts, with a glass of wine.  The flavor is strong and assertive.  I doubt it would play well with others.
If you are a lover of cheese- you owe it to yourself to track this down and try a little.  I promise you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Late Night Snack

Sometimes simple and easy is best. I was feeling snacky, but I didn't want anything complicated.
Options? Hmmmm... Girl Scout cookies or... Toast!
Toast wins! I sliced into a loaf of Dev's homemade wheat bread, popped it into the toaster, then slathered it with salted butter. After contemplating toast condiments, I settled on half Nutella and half almond butter. Washed down with a cup of chamomile tea, this was the perfect snack!

Kippermole!

Kippered herring is a truly misunderstood, underutilized ingredient in the modern kitchen (outside of Scotland, I guess).
The more I read about heart healthy foods, and about sustainable sources of omega 3s, the more I realize I need to eat more small fish.  Apparently, small fish like anchovies, herring, etc. are a better source of omega 3s, and they are more sustainable.
I like kippered herring.  I can remember discovering it when I was little and watched my dad eat sardines on saltine crackers with mustard.  My dad loved all kinds of smoked fish.  Of course, it wasn't until I was older and my palate become a bit more sophisticated, that I really got into smoked fish.
Fast forward to earlier this morning.  I was having a phone conversation with one of my best friends, Lizard.  She was telling me about some of the stuff her brother found in her parents' pantry earlier in the week.  Two tins of kippered herring appeared on the shelves.  Her father had been a fan.  The tins ended up coming home with her.  We were discussing what to do with said kippered herring, when I remembered a while back, I watched a "Good Eats" episode where Alton Brown mixed kippered herring (or maybe sardines) with avocado.  The little squirrel-driven wheels in the back of my head began turning...and an idea was born....KIPPERMOLE!
I began by searching for the tin of kippered herring I was sure was in my pantry.  After that was secured, I sought out the on-its-way-to-overripe avocado I kept on my counter.  A quick survey of the contents of the produce drawer of my icebox turned up one lonely, wilted scallion, the end of an English cucumber, and a lime.  Now that was a list of ingredients I could work with!
I took the kippered herring out of the tin, drained it briefly and threw it in my small work bowl.  I halved the avocado, removed the pit and scooped the flesh into the bowl as well.  I snipped the scallion in with my kitchen shears and chopped in the cucumber.  I finished it by juicing the lime, adding a tablespoon or two of Greek yogurt and a good dash of kosher salt.  All I needed now was some tortilla chips.
The results are far from beautiful, but oh my- it is tasty.  Addictive is actually a better word.  And really, it's not a terrible snack.  I'm not sure that I'd call it healthy (after adding the tortilla chips), but if you served it on cucumber rounds or something, it wouldn't be half bad.
Even if you don't think you like smoke fish- I urge you to give kippered herring a try.  Who knows?  You might even develop an addiction to something that's good for you!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Davy Jones RIP



I feel like a piece of my childhood is gone.

Teriyaki Chicken over Quinoa

Do I know how to make home made teriyaki sauce? Yes.  Did I make home made teriyaki sauce? No.

I totally cheated.  Again.  I'm beginning to think perhaps I should call my blog Cheaters Anonymous.

Anyhoo- I had leftover teriyaki chicken from the sushi adventure Sunday night, so I decided to spruce it up and serve it over some quinoa for a quick dinner.

The original chicken mixture was nothing more than roasted chicken, pulled apart with a fork and mixed with bottled teriyaki sauce.  Tonight, I sauteed some chopped onion and mushrooms in olive oil, seasoned it with a little mushroom soy sauce, and added the leftover chicken mixture.  I warmed the quinoa, scooped the chicken on top and garnished with chopped scallions and cucumber.

This was a good, quick dinner.  It may just earn a place in the regular rotation.  Who am I kidding?  I don't have a regular rotation!
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