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...

BBQ sauce (bottled and homemade)
Worcestershire sauce
prepared horseradish
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

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
white cheddar
fresh thyme
one sliced orange (for cider)
fancy merlot aged cheddar
dill havarti

Main shelf:
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
pea shoots
bag of meyer lemons

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 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 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!
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