Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sweet Mustard Pork Chops

I've made these pork chops like three times since I took the picture, but each time I was too busy devouring them to write about how yummy they are.

I love summer. I used to think winter was my favorite season but that was before I experienced a blizzard. Now I long for three straight months of wearing shorts and three straight months of firing up the grill every weekend (and every other week day). Summer isn't even half over and I'm fighting back tears thinking about the end of it.

These pork chops are the simplest thing in the world. And so tasty. I've made them with thick and thin(ner) cut chops and they are delicious either way. If you don't like dijon you're crazy...but also you shouldn't be afraid of an overly mustardy flavor because its very subtle in this recipe.

Sweet Mustard Pork Chops
recipe from Tasty Kitchen

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 (scant) cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
black pepper
4 bone-in center cut pork chops (or cut and thickness of your choice)

In a bowl whisk together the honey, soy sauce, dijon, lemon juice, garlic and several turns of fresh cracked pepper. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of marinade in a small bowl for basting. Place the pork chops in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the remaining marinade over them. Seal the bag and squish the marinade all around the pork chops. Place the chops in the fridge for 4-8 hours. After chops have marinated grill them over medium high heat for 4-6 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Brush them with extra marinade when you turn them and again when you pull them off if you'd like. If they seem to be getting too charred move them to cooler part of the grill.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Zucchini Spice Muffins

I remember hearing someone talk about zucchini bread when i was a kid and i thought it sounded so weird. Dude. It's GOOD. This was my first experience baking with zucchini and I was quite pleased. My friend Bekah has lots of zucchini recipes I'm looking forward to trying.

I know its not really the season for spice cakes and muffins but you'll have to make an exception and try these, because like I said dude...they're GOOD. Also, these are not too sweet. I think they're perfect served warm with a little pat of butter for breakfast.

Zucchini Spice Muffins
recipe adapted from Serious Eats

1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 t salt
2/3 C quick cooking oats
3/4 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C canola oil
2 eggs
2 C packed grated zucchini (this ended up being exactly two mediumish zucchini for me)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.  In a bowl whisk together the flour, soda, spices, salt and oats. In a separate, larger bowl beat together the sugar and oil. Beat in the eggs and combine well. Stir in the zucchini. Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches until everything is just combined. Fill the paper liners 3/4 of the way full with batter. I actually got 15 muffins out of this recipe. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Early Summer Pasta Salad

I was so excited about my first trip to the farmer's market this year. Too excited. I came home with four pounds of squash and 3 pounds of green beans (there wasn't much else to choose from this early in the summer). Then I remembered that I am the only person in my family of three who actually eats veggies. Whatev. I see zucchini bread in my near future. Stay tuned.

In the meantime I threw together this pasta salad to bring to my dad. At least someone will celebrate my farmer's market finds with me.

I was on vacation for a week and a half and came back to a brown herb garden (but some promising looking tomatoes) so I'm sorry for the lack of fresh parsley.

Early Summer Pasta Salad

1/2 lb fresh green beans, cut into smaller pieces
1 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1 1/2 c short pasta (dry), I used macaroni
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbs olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of italian seasoning
black pepper
1/4 c parmesan, grated

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add plenty of salt, throw the green beans in for 4-5 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon (you still want them a little crisp). Run under cold water to stop cooking and throw them in a mixing bowl. Throw the zucchini in the same bowl (uncooked). Toss your pasta into the boiling water and cook until done. Drain and add to the mixing bowl. While the pasta is boiling whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings. Taste the dressing and adjust accordingly. Pour the dressing over the warm pasta and toss everything together. Add the parmesan and toss. Taste it. Taste it again. And again. Cover and stick in the fridge for a few hours.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chipotle Shrimp Skewers

I'm a little late to the chipotle party. I mean I've been eating and enjoying them for years, but I've only cooked with them twice...the first time being less than a week ago. I'm in love. So spicy. So smoky. So perfect on the grill!!

Chipotle Shrimp Skewers
recipe slightly adapted from Tasty Kitchen

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 tsp reserved adobo sauce
1 lime, juiced
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp paprika
1 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 tsp salt
black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined (much prettier if you leave the tails on)
pineapple slices, optional

Place all ingredients except shrimp and pineapple into a food processor or blender. Pulse until a paste has formed. Place the shrimp in a shallow dish or plastic bag. Dump the marinade over the shrimp and coat thoroughly. Use a spatula to make sure you get all the marinade's thick stuff. Let the shrimp sit in marinade for 20 minutes. Skewer the shrimp making sure not to overcrowd the skewers. If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them for an hour before using. Heat your grill (or cool your grill, if using charcoal) to medium-medium/high heat. Grill the shrimp for about 2-3 minutes on each side. If using, place pineapple slices on the grill at the same time cook for just a minute or so on each side to give them a little char.

I also cut some russet potatoes into wedges, boiled them for just a few minutes and let 'em cool. Then I tossed them in some oil and GrillMates Montreal steak seasoning and put them on the grill for some color. The spinach is just tossed with some fresh orange juice, salt and pepper. This shrimp would be great over rice, but I was fresh out.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thai Pork and Noodles

I want to apologize now for the photo you will see at the end of this post. I realize none of my pictures are pretty, but something about the lighting combined with improper plating combined with a crappy camera made this one especially bad.

That being said, this was absolutely effin' delicious and I can't wait to eat it cold for lunch tomorrow. Slowly but surely I've been introducing some Asian ingredients into some of the foods Billy will actually eat. I was a little nervous about the fish sauce as the smell can be a little off putting (I love it..but remember how Billy is all picky and stuff?). Thankfully he was playing video games while I cooked so his brain was too concentrated on killing the enemy to smell the fish sauce. He gobbled it up and so did I. I sprinkled some red pepper flakes on top of mine because I'm spicy like that. I think when I'm done typing this I'm going to have a few more forkfuls from the fridge.

Thai Pork and Noodles
recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine, April 2011

1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
juice and zest of 1 lime
2 slices peeled ginger, rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 jalapeno peppers, diced (and seeded if you dont want the heat)
2 Tbs chopped onion
3 Tbs fish sauce
2 Tbs brown sugar
4 Tbs canola oil
1 lb thin boneless pork chops, sliced into very thin strips
1/4 lb green beans, split lengthwise
8 oz wide Thai rice noodles

In a food processor or blender combine the cilantro, lime zest and juice, ginger, garlic, jalapenos, onion, fish sauce, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of water until pureed. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add the rice noodles and allow to soak until tender yet slightly firm. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet or wok, heat 3 Tbs canola oil, add about half of the cilantro puree and fry for a minute or so. Add the pork and stir fry over high heat until done, maybe 4 to 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove pork and set aside on a plate. Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan and stir fry the green beans for a minute or so then add the noodles, pork, and two tablespoons cilantro puree or more to taste. Turn off heat and toss everything together quickly. After plating, individuals can add more cilantro puree to taste, if it isn't all mixed in the dish already :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lemon-Berry Cake

So I've had my eye on this Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Cake ever since it was featured on the Tasty Kitchen blog sometime last month. But in true Em fashion, I have forgotten to pick up blueberries and buttermilk every single time I've walked into the grocery store. I had sour cream, milk, and strawberries, so I decided to play with the recipe just a little. It's just perfect, not too sweet, very simple, and so fresh tasting. I think I'll make a couple of these and a couple with blueberries for Easter dinner at my parents' house.

Lemon-Berry Cake

1 cup ap flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 salt
4 Tbs butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar, plus 2 Tbs for sprinkling on top
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (or lemon extract if you want an extra lemony kick)
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 whole milk
5 oz fresh berries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a round cake pan with non-stick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, add extract, lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Add egg and combine well. Whisk together sour cream and milk until smooth in a small dish. Add the dry ingredients and sour cream/milk mixture alternately to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Finally, fold in the berries. Pour into cake pan, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 25 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 25 minutes or so, invert it, let it cool completely and slice. Dust it with some powdered sugar or plop some whipped cream on it!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

French Breakfast Puffs

I've decided to start naming my posts after whatever recipe they contain. It'll make it easier for me to organize things if I ever decide to make a recipe index. I'm glad I told you that.

Weekdays are cereal for Billy and the Kid and either cereal or fruit and yogurt for me. On weekends I like to get a little more involved and actually cook something. Spread out. Make a mess. You know.. I've been doing the pancake thing for about a month or so, and have tried some really yummy recipes, but this morning I was over pancakes. I was over pancakes but at the same time I didn't have much to work with in my kitchen. I turned to Pioneer Woman, knowing she would provide me with something simple yet scrumptious. And she did. There's not much to say about these beauties. They're warm, buttery and coated in cinnamon sugar. Do it.

French Breakfast Puffs
from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 1/2 cups ap flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

for the coating:
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease 6 muffin cups. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl cream together sugar and shortening. Add the egg and mix well. Add one third of the dry ingredients and mix until combined, then add half the milk, then another third of the dry get the idea. End with the dry ingredients. Divide the batter evenly between the six muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes (I had to go 30) until golden. Set the puffs aside and melt the butter in a dish. In a separate dish mix together the cinnamon and sugar. Dip the warm puffs in melted butter, coating thoroughly and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar.

I like the brown one up front. I'm about to make it my bitch.

Friday, March 25, 2011

i'm bad with temptation

Every day for the past several days when I've visited I've been taunted by one of her side links. The side link is for her Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies. I've been trying so hard to wait to do my grocery shopping on the same day every week. I was determined to wait. Yeah right. Yesterday I broke down THE DAY BEFORE GROCERY DAY and bought malted milk powder, milk chocolate chips and butter. But you know what, I'm not sorry. Not after tasting these babies. Billy was equally impressed. These cookies turn out super flat and are perfectly crispy around the edges. I've never purchased malted milk powder and I think I've had one chocolate malt like ever. I was thinking the rest of the powder would go to waste but after tasting these cookies I know I'll be making them again and again very soon! And perhaps I see some chocolate malts in our very near future.

Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies
recipe from Pioneer Woman

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp (scant) baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring the butter to room temperature and cream it together with sugars until..creamy. Add egg and mix to combine, then stir in vanilla. Add the malted milk powder and stir until well incorporated. In a seperate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add it to wet mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes..or longer if you want a crispier cookie. I got two dozen cookies and this PW's recipe, halved.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grasping for Recipes, Waiting on Spring

Meatballs. I haven't made them in like a year and I desperately need to jazz up my use of ground beef, so meatballs were the way to go tonight. In the past I've browned then baked my meatballs, but I like finishing them in the sauce way better..fewer dishes, duh. Also in the past, I've always combined ground pork and beef, but we're going for simple here. Speaking of simple, for my sauce I used two cans of  Hunt's Basil Garlic and Oregano Tomato Sauce. Hunt's should totally pay me for promoting their product to the three people who read my blog. Whatever. This was a yummy little supper.
Spaghetti and Simple Meatballs

1 lb ground chuck
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (i used panko)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
2-3 Tbs oil
1/4-1/3 cup stock (i used beef)
3 cups prepared marinara sauce
1 lb spaghetti

In a large bowl place ground chuck, garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, parmesan, seasoning and milk. Mix with hands until combined. Roll the mixture into tablespoon sized balls. I got like two dozen. In a large skillet heat oil on medium high heat. Brown the meatballs well on both sides. You may have to do this is two batches...I did. Remove the meatballs to a paper towel lined plate. Add the stock to the pan and scrape up all the bits stuck at the bottom. Add the prepared marinara, stir it around, then add the meatballs back in. Reduce the heat to medium low and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes, shaking/stirring occasionally. While the meatballs are finishing, bring a big ol' pot of water to a boil and cook that spaghetti and drain. Spoon some meatballs and sauce over the pasta. Top with parmesan. Spaghetti and Meatballs. The end. I even took an awful picture, see:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'm on a Yeast Roll

One day I'll post a real recipe again. Actually, the plan was to post the Creamy Cajun Pasta I made last night, but I ate and packed Billy's lunch before I remembered to pull out the camera. I'm a bad food blogger. Its no secret.

Anyhow, I was scrolling through Rebekah's recipe archive looking for some type of bread to serve with said pasta and came across these No Knead Dinner Rolls. Let me tell you, I had great success. This may have been the most active yeast I have ever purchased. The rolls were fluffy and soft and just wonderful. I read on Baking Bites that these rolls would be a little dense, but she must not have had the overachiever yeast like I did, because mine were anything but dense.

I cut the recipe in half and shaped them into eight rolls. Sadly, I could only fit seven in my baking dish. Also, I don't have a stand mixer so I actually had to knead them for about five minutes. SO, they weren't technically No-Knead. Still, they were super simple and super yum. I'm serious y'all, I think these will be my new go-to dinner roll. Oh, and I may add a little more sugar next time around. We like our dinner rolls sweet around here.

No-Knead Dinner Rolls

1 cup warm water
2.5 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbs sugar
2.5 Tbs butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
3 cup AP flour

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast and sugar into the warm water. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Add the butter, egg and salt and whisk to combine. Stir in the flour one cup at a time with a wooden spoon. When adding the final cup of flour, you'll probably have to get your hands in there and start kneading (unless, of course, you are using a stand mixer with a dough hook). Knead in the bowl, flouring your hands when necessary, for five minutes or so. Form dough into a smooth ball, cover the bowl, and let sit in a warm(ish) place until doubled in bulk, about an hour (I went a little longer than an hour). Lightly grease a pie dish. Gently deflate the dough and shape into seven or eight balls. Place the rolls in the pie dish, almost touching. Cover and allow to rise for another 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the rolls liberally with butter and bake for 40 minutes until nice and puffy and golden brown. Brush more butter over the tops. And then, cut one open, and throw some butter inside.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bun Bliss

My first burger bun making experience turned bad when my boxer Chino ate all but two of them at the very end of their second rise. I was quite angry for quite awhile, but yesterday I decided it was time to give it another go. Oh Em Geezy. I would like to say I'll never buy packaged buns again, but I'm lazy so I probably will. I will say that I will try my darnedest to home make my buns any time we have burgers in the future. These were amazing. I mean that. Truly rewarding. I found this recipe at Annie's Eats and adapted it slightly, as I only had brown sugar on hand. I know it sounds weird, but they were still absolutely perfect. I was too busy making googly eyes at my buns and then eating my buns to take a picture of the final burger. We mixed some ground beef with A-1 sauce and chopped fresh jalapenos. I sauteed some additionally sliced jalapenos and onions to put on mine. Anyway, here's the bun recipe. And a few really bad pictures of some really good buns.

Light Brioche Burger Buns
recipe from Annie's Eats

3 Tbs warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tsp instant yeast ( I used one packet, that's the only way they sell it here)
2.5 Tbs sugar (I used brown)
1.5 tsp salt
1 egg
3 cup bread flour
1/3 cup AP flour
2.5 Tbs butter, softened

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water for egg wash

In a large bowl combine your liquids, yeast, sugar, salt and egg. Add the flours, mixing to incorporate. Mix in the butter and knead for at least 5 minutes. The dough will be a little tacky. That's okay. Form the dough into a ball then place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Place in a warm area and allow to rise for at least an hour, until doubled in size. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and gently roll into balls. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover, and allow to rise for another hour, again until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Meat. Cheese. Carbs.

I know I'm always talking about what a picky eater Billy is, but thats only because...well...he's a very picky eater. Meat, cheese, carbs, very few vegetables...that kinda stuff. So since my ingredient choices are somewhat limited, I like to try and find new ways to combine old flavors. Like boring old spaghetti and meat sauce. Or Lasagna. Instead, I made this:

Cheesy Meaty Baked Penne
recipe adapted from Cook Like a Champion

8 oz Penne Rigate or similar sized pasta
1 Tbs Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb Ground Chuck
1 tsp (heaping) Italian Seasoning
1 large can Tomato Sauce (28oz I think)
1 egg
1 cup Ricotta
3/4 cup Grated Parmesan
1 cup shredded Colby Jack (or any cheese you like)

Preheat the oven to 450. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside. While the pasta is boiling mix the egg, ricotta, 1/2 cup of parmesan and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese in a bowl. Season this mixture with salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat, add the garlic and stir around for a minute. Add the ground chuck and brown. Salt and pepper meat and add Italian Seasoning. When meat is cooked through, add tomato sauce and stir. Bring to a simmer and let it go for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add half of your meat sauce to the bottom on a 9 inch square baking dish. Add the pasta on top of this in a fairly even layer. Spread the cheese mixture on top of the pasta, then layer on the rest of the meat sauce. Sprinkle the remainder of the parmesan and shredded cheese evenly over the top and bake for about 20 minutes, until melty and bubbly.

Serve it with some of these garlic knots and you've got a carb-o-licious supper!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Simple Supper Success

Other than spaghetti or soup, I don't really attempt many one pot dinners.

..And now that I think about it, spaghetti isn't really a one pot dinner. Sorry. That was dumb.

Anyway, I was looking through the recipe index over at elly says opa! and found this little one pot recipe. I thought it looked great and like something Billy would actually eat AND it is a Rick Bayless recipe (I've been wanting to try some of his stuff). I was not disappointed and I do believe I will be purchasing Mexican Everyday within the next week or so.

Now the recipe called for ancho chile powder, but i couldn't find any. I did find some ground chile de arbol, which is quite a bit spicier, but that is okay because mommy likes it spicy!

Red Chile Chicken with Rice and Black Beans
Recipe adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless and elly says opa!

2 Tbs canola oil
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 1/2 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp(heaping) ground chile de arbol
1 onion, diced
1 cup rice
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
sour cream, for garnish

Heat the oil in a medium/large saucepan over medium heat. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Stir together the chili powders and sprinkle over the chicken. Sear the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side in two batches if necessary. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add the onions and rice and saute for 3 minutes or so, add the garlic and remaining chili powder and cook for another minute. Add the chicken broth, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut chicken breasts into 1 inch chunks. When 10 minutes is up, add chicken and beans. Cover and cook another 12 minutes. Fold in chopped cilantro. Test a grain of rice, and if it is still at all chalky, cover and let it sit over low heat for 2 or 3 more minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork. Serve with sour cream and cilantro sprigs.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cookies for Me

Yesterday I made some cookies that Billy wasn't crazy about. At first I was all feelings about it, but then I realized that meant more for me, so I got over it real fast. He decided to tell me AFTER our 20 minute discussion on WHICH peanut butter cookie to make, AFTER the measuring and mixing of the ingredients, and AFTER the final batch was baked and he finally tasted one, that he guesses peanut butter cookies never really have been his favorite. I gave him the big, mad, googly eyes for a second and then said,"Really??!!? Because I f-ing love 'em." And then I ate two more.

I like the chocolate in this cookie. Just a hint. This is a very simple cookie, where peanut butter is still the star. The batter was a little sticky to spoon onto the baking sheets right after mixing, so I stuck it in the fridge for an hour.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go have some cookies with my coffee.

Peanut Butter-Cocoa Cookies

1 cup AP Flour
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1(scant)tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
3/4 cup Peanut Butter

In a bowl, sift or whisk the dry (first four) ingredients together. In a separate (larger) bowl, or in your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until nice and fluffy. Mix in the egg, then the vanilla, then the peanut butter. Make it all smooth. Add the flour mixture half at a time. Chill the dough for an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 350. Make tablespoon sized balls of the dough and place them an inch or two apart on a cookie sheet (use parchment if you like, but my sheets were ungreased and worked fine). Use a fork to smoosh 'em down a little and make 'em look like a peanut butter cookie. Bake for 12-15 minutes. I found 14 minutes to be perfect for my oven. I got about 2 1/2 dozen.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

This Week

The snow really messed me up last week. Bad. The town completely shut down. Even Wal-Mart, dude. I didn't even know that was legal. Anyway, had the town not completely shut down, I still wouldn't have been able to drive my car more than a few feet. I ran out of MEAT, paper towels, baby wipes, tampons, and almost toilet paper. Just keepin' it real here. I am ashamed to say, once Billy even had to eat Ramen noodles. He loved it, I'm sure. We're supposed to get several more inches of snow pooped on us today and tonight and this time i am prepared.

I took a much needed getaway to the big city of Tulsa yesterday with the kid, the dad, and the Billy. Travel trailer living can really get you down. Especially when there's a blizzard outside and no way out. The 65 mile trip took an hour and a half with the icy highways and such, and it seems my dad has lost the ability to drive like a sane person, but we made it and I was able to purchase three more pieces for my Le Creuset collection (at half price. i love you, tjmaxx). Billy also requested 'some of that fish'. My mom and I purchased and prepared some sea bass from the only place with good seafood in the Midwest several weeks ago. I jumped on the opportunity to make something other than fried shrimp and catfish (the only other seafood billy is interested in).

Anyway, here's the plan..

Tonight- Pan-Roasted Sea Bass with Orzo and Spinach (not very Super Bowl-like, I know.)
Monday- PW's Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika
Tuesday- Panko Crusted Chicken Tenders
Wednesday- Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Thursday-  Super Simple Shredded Chicken Tacos
Friday- Garlic and Lemon Pan-Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes

..very chickeny, I know.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy Things and Bad Weather

I kind of strayed away from my scheduled menu last week, and I can't even blame it on my sister or her baby, because she didn't go into labor until Saturday..

Oh yeah, I have a new niece. See.

Please don't mind my lack of makeup and greasy hair. Don't mind it I said!

This week I haven't even thought about a menu and I still can't blame it on the baby because she is way way WAY TOO CUTE for anything to be her fault. Ever. Let's get mushy for a minute..

I was one of like five people permitted to be present for the delivery of my niece, Sophie. (two were midwives, one was my sister, and one was her husband.) I was excited and anxious and all of those things you feel when yourself or someone close to you is about to have a baby. I knew it would be amazing and cry-worthy and all of that. But never (ever) did I expect to feel the way I did when it was all said and done.

I guess you could say I was astonished, or in awe. I was in awe of the skilled and practiced hands of the midwives, yes. In awe of Sophie's beauty the first time I saw her little face, well duh. But mostly, in awe of the strength and perseverance of my sister. I came back home after experiencing the laboring of my sister and the birth of my niece with more respect and adoration for Amanda than I have ever felt in my life. Which is saying a lot. A whole lot. *tear*

Sooooooo, anyway.. Apparently there's a blizzard going on outside. I went to pick up a few groceries last night and the store was WIPED OUT. I left with a gallon of milk(one of four left on the shelf) and a box of cereal. Earlier today I really felt like baking up some fluffy, steamy, delicious dinner rolls only to find that I am fresh out of yeast, so I mixed up a batch of Rebekah's flour tortillas, substituting butter for the shortening. This is something I've never done before, but I was very pleased with the outcome. Very soft tortillas! Mommy likes soft tortillas. I feel like dipping them in something, so I'll probably make a pot of chili tonight (hopefully I can scrounge together the ingredients from my freezer and pantry).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

fussy fussy roux roux

i make chicken and sausage gumbo often. like, probably at least once every two weeks during the cold months and then even sometimes when its sunny. depending on who you talk to and what articles you read, you'll get different answers on what makes a gumbo authentic. my three big ones are:

1. a dark roux- i mean dark. so dark. like chocolate colored dark. like it should take you almost an hour to make it dark.
2. the(cajun)holy trinity...celery, bell pepper, and onion
3. good seasoning/spice

i see a lot of and have tasted many recipes for gumbo that have okra and tomoatoes in them. i don't use either because i cook for the pickiest eater in the world, but even if i didn't i still wouldn't use okra. i don't think it has a place in any type of gumbo.

also, i love love LOVE seafood gumbo. i never get to make it, though, because have i mentioned that i cook for a picky eater.. maybe one day i'll get a chance to make it again and i shall tell you all about it.

alright, let's do this. we need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup ap flour, plus 1 Tbs
1 onion, medium dice
3 large stalks celery, medium dice
1 large bell pepper, medium dice
2 tsp Tony Chachere's or other cajun spice (including but not limited to: salt, cayenne, garlic&onion powder...)
2 quarts chicken stock (sometimes i use one box of broth, plus equal amount of water)
4 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)..i guess breasts are acceptable but they have to be bone in, skin on
1 lb sausage (andouille is ideal but not always easy to find)
1 tsp file powder, plus additional for serving
steamed rice for serving
chopped green onions for serving
hot sauce for serving

Melt your butter on very low heat while you dice your veggies.

Now dump the flour into butter and whisk until smooth. Crank up the heat a bit to medium low and whisk constantly for 30 minutes, not allowing the roux to remain un-whisked for longer than 30 sec-1 min at a time. This is actually more important when it starts getting really dark, so it doesn't burn. During the first 15 minutes or so, you can leave it alone for a minute or so at a time. (I've bookmarked this recipe over at Homesick Texan for a way less time consuming roux, but just can't seem to get around to making it. Old habits, ya know? Regardless, the final product/color looks like hers.) So anyway, after about 30 minutes, you should have a peanut butter colored roux. Guess what? Keep whisking. Do this until its a deep chocolate color (yes, i know this is super fussy).

Then dump in your veggies, this will soften them and also stop the roux from cooking. Stir the veg around for a minute, dump in the cajun spice and cook for another minute or so.

Now dump in all the stock/broth/water, and whisk to dissolve all the roux that's floating around.

Add your chicken and bring to a simmer. Let it roll for about an hour or until chicken is cooked through.

While its simmering away, slice your sausage into rounds, and if it is uncooked (or if you just want to add some more color and flavor to it) brown it off in another pan. Drain it and set aside.

Pull out the chicken, leaving the gumbo simmering, and when its cool enough to handle pick all the meat off the bone. Toss it back into the pot with the sausage.

Turn down the heat, just to keep the gumbo warm. Add the file and stir just before serving.

Serve over rice and garnish with green onions. Additional file and hot sauce can be added as desired.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

we had pizza hut for supper. sue me.

we had pizza hut because i spent all morning cooking in my mother's kitchen. with my mother. we spent all morning cooking because her freezer stopped freezing some time last night and everything thawed out. we grilled sausage and hamburger meat to freeze. then i made baked halibut and a HUGE batch of sauce picante (its a cajun thing). amanda asked me to post my sauce picante(pronounced pee-kaw) recipe but i'm not going to because i'm a bad sister. and because i'm hoping she will go in to labor soon and i can just give it to her when i go to see the bebe. and because i don't really have a recipe. that's how i roll.

after a short rest from the meat-a-thon, i decided i needed some baking therapy. i made this super simple brownie recipe from Hershey's with a few alterations, and as always it did not fail me. i killed about three brownies yesterday.

needless to say after all the grilling, braising, and baking i was so over cooking. billy offered to get pizza hut. whatever, dude. it was good. here are the brownies. mmmm. brownies.

Hershey's Best Brownie
adapted from

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup ap flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 inch square (or round) baking dish. Mix together the butter and sugars until combine really well. Then add the eggs until well incorporated. Mix in the vanilla. In a seperate bowl sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture into the sugar mixture until well combined. It'll be a little thick. Stir in the pecans. Dump it all into the greased baking dish and smooth it out with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan. I under cook mine just a tad so it'll stay kinda gooey in the middle.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

i'm about to go shopping. here's the plan.

This week's menu is very simple (then again, it almost always is with a picky babydaddy to feed), because as Amanda said, she's hoping Sophie arrives sometime soon. I, in turn, am hoping she calls me when it all starts, so I can cut this menu short and rush to Dallas in time to see the little booger come on out.

tonight- pan-fried pork chops with hasselback potatoes..and i'll probably sneak some spinach onto the plate
monday- red beans and rice with sausage
tuesday- garlicky baked shrimp with green beans
wednesday- chicken and sausage gumbo
thursday- chili and cornbread
friday- is the baby here yet? no? fine. chicken strips and fries.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Breakfast for a Week

I love brown bananas. Brown bananas mean I get to bake! As if I needed an excuse. I wanted to make this recipe healthy-ish. It will serve as our breakfast for the next several days, after I slightly altered this recipe from Annie's Eats and threw in some whole wheat flour. I got 12 LARGE muffins out of this. Really, they are on the verge of being jumbo. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Banana Nut Muffins
Adapted from Annie's Eats

3/4 cup ap flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3 large bananas, mashed

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (first six). In another (larger) bowl mash the bananas and add sugar, egg and melted butter. Mix well. Stir the dry ingredients into this mixture just until incorporated. Finally, stir in the chopped pecans. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Oh, and i promise to start posting photos one day. I think the 16 month old hid my camera.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eatin' on the Cheap

Born and raised in south Texas, I grew up eating plenty of pinto beans: refried, charro, in chili... But somehow I've yet to grow tired of them. Babydaddy grew up eating a lot of beans as well, but more of the Louisiana variety: red kidneys, limas, etc... Needless to say we eat a lot of beans around here.
1. they're cheap
2. they're versatile
3. they're just good

Tonight for dinner we had pinto beans (and cornbread, of course), but this is pretty much my basic method for preparing any dried bean or pea, so feel free to substitute.

Now a word about the cornbread. For about three years now I have been hooked on Jiffy Corn Muffins. I know that makes me a bad foodie, using a box and all, but I LOVE the sweet deliciousness that is Jiffy. I stumbled across this recipe at Mommie Cooks! a few weeks ago while playing in food blog land, I made them once and bid Jiffy farewell without a second thought. If you like your cornbread sweet (and even if you don't), please try this. Oh so good.

Pot O' Beans

1 lb dried pinto beans
1 yellow onion, quartered
3-4 garlic cloves, skin off and smashed
1 fresh jalapeno, whole
4 slices bacon
a good palmful of Tony Chachere's (or salt and pepper)
a good pinch of cumin

Soak beans according to package directions. Drain beans and cover by 1/2 to 1 inch fresh water in a large pot. Place pot over medium heat, add onion, garlic, jalapeno, and bacon. Bring to a boil then reduce to a slow simmer. Let it roll. Allow to simmer for at least two hours then add seasoning. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Honey Sweet Corn Bread
Adapted from Mommie Cooks!

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup ap flour
4 tsp baking powder 
2 Tbsp white sugar 
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Mix your dry ingredients (first five) together in a large bowl. In another bowl mix together vanilla, honey, egg, and milk.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is moistened. Finally stir in the melted butter. Now, pour the mixture into a greased 9x9 pan (i use a 9" cast iron skillet) and bake for 25 minutes.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Let's Begin...

My sister says, "You have a very empty wordpress." I say, "I don't use that one. I have a blogspot now.. Which I don't use either." And so I realized that to be a good food blogger, or a food blogger at all, I must actually post entries to my food blog.

How exciting that my first ever blog post is about my first ever homemade cinnamon rolls! Right?? I snagged this recipe from Tartlette, and followed it to a T. These are YUMMY and I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the simplicity of this recipe..being yeasty and all. But as is with many yeasty things, the most difficult part is waiting for the rise. Anyway, I am very much looking forward to making these again and again!

Cinnabon™ Knock-off Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12 rolls

For the dough:
1 pkg. active dry yeast (1/4 oz. size or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 cup warm milk (105º to 110º F.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

For the icing:
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 oz.) cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the dough:
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.
Mix together the sugar, butter, salt & eggs. Add flour and milk and mix well
Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands lightly dusted with flour. Put in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough flat until it is approximately 21 inches long and 16 inches wide. It should be about ¼ inch thick.
Preheat oven to 400º F and position a rack in the middle.

Prepare the filling:
combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the softened butter evenly over the surface of the dough, and then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the surface.

Form the rolls:
Working carefully from the top (a 21 inch side), roll the dough down to the bottom edge.
Cut the rolled dough into 1 ¾ inch slices and place 6 at a time, evenly spaced, in a lightly greased baking pan. Let the rolls rise again until doubled in size (about 30 min.). Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden on top.

Prepare the icing:
While the rolls bake, mix the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, then add the milk and flavorings. Mix on high speed again until the icing is smooth and fluffy.
When the rolls come out of the oven, let them cool for about 10 minutes, then coat generously with the icing.