Archive for the 'food' Category

Hey good looking, whatcha got cooking?

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

I’ve been cooking weird shit. Really. We discovered this vendor at the farmer’s market that has the most amazing smoked sausage which led me down the google path to gumbo. And it was good but definitely not a 30-minute meal. But I was rather proud of myself – I did pretty well for a yankee with inferior ingredients (no tasso and not real Louisiana sausage. I used an Emeril recipe as a guide because I figure Emeril must know gumbo.

 

At some point, I realized how much money I am spending on yogurt a month and almost passed out. The girls eat 1 a day at $.60 each and I eat it probably 4 days a week. It adds up. So I got on a kick to make my own. The first batch was way soupy. But tasted pretty good. The second batch was just right after I strained it through a little cheesecloth. Of course the girls both hate it. So I’m really only saving on my yogurt habit. But it is kind of fun to make my own – feels kind of like I have a super power. (Why yes, I am a dork.) I make it in the crockpot. I used greek yogurt as my starter. And I pay attention to the temp when I add the starter – needs to be around 115-120 degrees.

We’ve been catching up on Hawaii Five-0.  We had 7 episodes backed up on our DVR. On one epidsode, they were eating something called loclo moco that sounded yummy. So I decided to make it. Basically it is a hamburger patty over some rice with a little brown gravy and an egg on top (I added peas because I needed something green on the plate). I found it very boring – was hoping it might be more than the sum of its parts but in this case it didn’t turn out that way.

More Pinterest Reviews

Monday, December 19th, 2011

I’ve made a few more things from Pinterest recently that I thought I would share my thoughts on because it seems we all see the same recipes floating around.

First, a few cookie recipes. I had my annual MOMS Club cookie exchange over the weekend and wanted to make something different. I’m not a baker – I will readily admit that. But I can read and follow directions so I should be able to replicated a recipe that isn’t horribly complicated. I spent 3 days trying recipes with no success. Two were mediocre and 1 was flat out awful. I ended up taking peanut butter blossoms and still had a freak out heavily laced with the f-bomb on some of my girlfriends after making those. I may not make cookies again. Ever.

These Cran-Pistachio cookies were good but not great. I think they could be pretty darn good but the cranberry needs to be doubled and I think they need some orange zest to cover the packaged sugar cookie flavor. Mine didn’t flatten out so I had to flatten them with the bottom of a glass. But they were simple and pretty so you can’t complain about that.

These rolo cookies sounded amazing. They were average at best. They tasted like something was missing. And they were a huge pain in the ass to make – the batter is sticky and thick and impossible to roll. I finally figured out if I got my cookie scoop out and pressed the rolo into it that it was much easier. But I won’t make these again.

These peppermint chocolate sandwich cookies came my way via a facebook post by Whole Foods. They sounded great. They were horrible. The filling was good but the cookies were so bad I threw them away. I didn’t even finish baking them – I threw them all away after the first batch came out of the oven.

Now for a couple of non-cookie related successes.

These pepperoni rolls are AMAZING. I’ve made them twice and they were a hit both times. They are simple to make – you just have to plan ahead for the bread to defrost/rise. I tend to preheat my oven to warm then open the door to let most of the heat out. Then I put the bread in there to rise.  It takes 5 or 6 hours usually.  I also add some sliced provolone and capicola (sp?) ham. It isn’t something to make for dinner because it will kill you – but it is great party food.

These roasted mushrooms are yummy. And the broth/sauce is great to dip a nice crusty bread. I added white wine into the mix because it just seemed to call for it. I actually ate these for dinner one night when Steve was gone. Just a big dish of mushrooms and nothing else. And I liked it.

 

Things I’ve made from Pinterest

Friday, November 18th, 2011

SarahLena has been doing posts about what she has made from Pinterest lately and I love those posts. So, I thought I would do one too. (You know Pinterest, right? It is most fun and useful time suck ever.) This is what I’ve made in the past couple of months from Pinterest.

(Click the photos to go to the pins.)

Jalapeno Poppers

This is pieces of bacon, jalapeno, and cream cheese baked in crescent rolls to simulate the jalapeno popper taste.

Verdict: Meh. It tasted like crescent rolls to me. That was all I could taste. I won’t make these again. I made them for a gathering and no one was wild about them.

Chicken Parmesan Bake


This is a chicken parm with that is baked and the chicken isn’t breaded.

Verdict: Yummy. It was super easy and tasty. The croutons and the cheese satisfy the chicken parm yen without the trouble of doing it the traditional way.  It is in no way gourmet but it is a satisfying, fast meal.  My children even ate it (that is unheard of). And my MIL made it with gluten free croutons – I hear it was a hit in her house too.

Tikka Masala

This is the first time I’ve ever made Indian food that didn’t come from a jar or other package. I like Indian food but I don’t know a lot about the flavor profiles so I’m not comfortable with the recipes (you all know I can’t follow one).

Verdict: Success! This was so easy – I was surprised that it turned out so well. We thought the 1/2 Tbl of cayenne was a little too hot so next time I’ll decrease that a bit. And I felt like it needed a little honey or agave just to sweeten it a tiny bit – I like a little bit of sweet to compliment the heat.  Steve liked it without the little touch of sweet.  I will also let it cool down more before adding the yogurt – it felt like the yogurt “broke” a little bit.  I served it over brown jasmine rice.  It was a great first Indian dish to try at home.

Cheesy Biscuits (in the style of Jim & Nick’s)

Verdict: As written? Meh.  But I know there is potential here. I made them as written the first time. They were rather blah.  I made them again replacing 1/4 cup of buttermilk with 1/4 cup of melted butter and adding 1/2 tsp of onion powder, garlic powder (yes, a unicorn lost its horn), a dash of cayenne, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. But I didn’t bake them quite long enough so they weren’t quite done in the middle.  I feel sure these could be great but I’m not sure I care enough to figure it out. We rarely eat bread with our meals. (The girls were thrilled with the first version.)

3 Ingredient Light Cake

This the one where you take a cake mix, throw in a diet soda, mix, bake, top with light cool whip.

Verdict: Blargh. I baked it until the edges were dry and browning but the middle was still gooey. It was disgusting.  I might have done something horribly wrong but I threw it away.

Cream Cheese Cookies

This is a slight cheat.  I found this elsewhere on the web and then I pinned it – so it wasn’t a Pinterest discovery. But I don’t recall where I found it.

Verdict: Super simple to make. Sabrina helped me. They taste good – not amazing but good.  I added vanilla extract to them.  And the last 1/2 of the dough I threw in the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  The lemon ones were way better. I’m not sure if I will make them again – maybe if I need something fast and simple.  We will eat them but no one in the house was wowed by them.

Are you on Pinterest? If so, what have you tried? Anything we all must try?

Spicy Asian Pork Noodles

Monday, October 10th, 2011

I love Pinterest. Love. I used to have this HUGE list of bookmarks that were so hard to go through even when I used folders to organize. But with the thumbnail and ability to add a comment Pinterest has filled a void for me. So many new sites aren’t something I need – how many sites can provide networking for moms? Please, if you are going to start a web site, make sure it is a value add to someone other than you.

I pin a lot of things to reference later.  Recipes are a favorite. I’ve only cooked a couple because with Steve gone I don’t cook often. And I have to make sure I am either taking it somewhere or that I like it enough to eat it for 3 or 4 days because the girls don’t eat much of anything that I cook. I’ve made these spicy asian pork noodles twice in 6 weeks. They are super yummy – totally comfort food.  I was just going to link to the pin but I couldn’t find the main ingredient (a branded sauce) so I had to put it together myself. (Disclaimer: Nora made these and said “meh”.)   Also, I added veggies so the recipe is changed from my original pinned one.  (Quelle surprise!)If you don’t use Pinterest, click the photo to go to the original recipe.

Please forgive the photos. My battery was dead in my Canon so I had to use my point and shoot. It was late and the lighting was awful. Also? There is just no way to make this dish pretty. The first time I made it, it was a little prettier with the veggies but this time I didn’t have the fresh veggies (except mushrooms and green onions) on hand so there was no color.

Spicy Asian Pork Noodles

1 lb ground pork

1 bunches green onions, sliced; OR 1 small onion, diced

Assorted veggies (first time I used broccoli, carrots, and a red pepper; the second time I used a bunch of mushrooms)

Sauce (recipe below)

1 box linguine, cooked according to directions

3 Tablespoons peanut butter

Red pepper flakes or sriracha to taste

Sauce

1/4 c brown sugar

1/2 c soy sauce, low sodium

2/3 c chicken broth

juice of  lemon

1 Tbl fish sauce (can be omitted but adds a little something)

2 tsp ginger

3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 1/2 Tbl cornstarch (mixed with 1/4 cup cold chicken broth or water so no lumps)

Put it all together in a sauce pan, bring to a boil. Allow to cook for a few minutes to thicken.

Cook the pork  and onion until almost done. Add veggies. After pork is cooked through and veggies are done to your liking, add the sauce.

While the pasta is cooking, take a few tablespoons of the boiling water and mix with the peanut butter. You just want to loosen it up to allow it to be easily tossed with the noodles.  After draining the cooked linguine noodles, stir in the peanut butter to coat noodles. Add coated noodles to the pork mixture.

Toss it all together. Add red pepper flakes or sriracha to taste.

It doesn’t look like much but it is yummy. And the spicy part is totally up to how much of the red pepper flakes or sriracha you put in so it doesn’t have to be spicy.

Corn Chowder

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

The summer has been rather brutal around middle TN. Very hot. No rain. No breaks.  It has consistently been in the mid to high 90s for months. Until it wasn’t. All of a sudden on Monday the temperature plummeted 30 degrees and it started to rain. Hallelujah!  It has been chilly for a couple of days and I started craving soup.

I started playing with this chowder at the beach this summer. Not exactly weather appropriate but we had all of this fresh corn and I really wanted to try making some sort of soup. I saw a corn chowder recipe in Cooking Light earlier in the year and it was lurking in the back of my head (you’ll notice there is bacon and cream in this soup…obviously it didn’t come from Cooking Light).  I’ve made this 3 times now and the results are quite yummy.  Once the fresh corn is gone, I would imagine frozen corn would work (and cut out one of the steps).  This isn’t the fastest recipe (a lot of the effort is prep) but it is worth the effort.  Cook the corn the day before, cut it off the cob, and throw it in the frig to speed up dinner. Recipe adapted from The New Basics Cookbook.

Corn Chowder

4 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

1 jalepeno, seeded and diced

2 Tbl butter

3 Tbl flour (if gluten free, use other thickener…if using cornstarch skip the above butter and mix it with cool water or milk and add after the broth)

1 32-oz carton chicken broth

3 medium baking potatoes, peeled, bite sized dice

6 ears of corn, cooked, kernels cut off

3/4 cup half and half

1 tsp black pepper

salt to taste (if not using reduced sodium broth taste before adding any)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

4 green onions, sliced

2 or 3 Tbls sherry (I like a little more…Steve likes a little less)

In your soup pot, cook your bacon pieces.  Throw in the onion, garlic, and jalepeno – allow them to cook in the rendered bacon fat until onion is softened.  Melt butter then add flour.  This will form a paste-y substance. Allow to cook for 5 min, stirring so it doesn’t burn. Start adding the broth until it is all incorporated.  Add the potatoes.  Cook 20-30 minutes until potatoes are almost done – time will depend on the size of your potato chunks. Add corn, half and half, salt and pepper.  Cook another 10 minutes.  Add red pepper, sherry, and green onions.  Simmer another 5 minutes.

You can garnish with cheese but I like it as is. I’m going to enjoy it before the hot weather returns!

Lighter General Tso’s Chicken (gluten free)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

In the interest of full disclosure:

1) This is NOT my recipe. I found it on Kitchen Simplicity and that blogger adapted it from Martha Stewart. But I thought it looked yummy and I had every thing on hand to give it a try last night (that never happens).

2) This tastes very little like General Tso’s that you find in a Chinese restaurant. BUT I think after playing around with the sauce it could get there if you wanted it to…I personally liked it despite its very distant relationship to what I think of as General Tso’s and think with a little sriracha in the sauce it could be a favorite. (I left the heat out so that the kids would eat it. HA! Like the spice is the reason they would turn it down. They just refuse to eat to torment me.)

3) I’m always encouraging you to use fresh, real ingredients.  (Walk away from the garlic powder! Go buy a bulb!) Don’t tell Martha, but I don’t like fresh ginger. It tastes like I’m eating flowers.  So I used powdered out of my spice cabinet. Use the fresh if you like it – if not, go with the stuff in the jar. I  won’t yell at you.  But if Martha finds out, you are on your own. Biotch has been to prison – I’m not telling her fresh ginger is gross.

Lighter “General Tso’s” Chicken

For the chicken:

1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 cup Egg Beaters (or 2 egg whites)

3 Tbl cornstarch

Salt & Pepper

Couple of tablespoons of oil

Whisk the egg beaters, cornstarch, salt and pepper until smooth.  Add the chicken and stir to coat. Heat a pan (med-medium high) with a tablespoon or 2 of olive or vegetable oil.  Once the pan is hot, add the chicken pieces one at a time. If you put them all in together, they all form 1 large chicken pancake. (Notice in picture – there isn’t much oil – you aren’t deep frying the chicken.)

Cook on both sides until done. Remove from pan. Repeat if necessary – I did 2 pans full of chicken pieces.

I’ve never done chicken this way before but it was an easy/less horrible for you way to get chicken with a little coating on it. I see this being the basis of some other chicken dishes in the future.

For the Veggies & Sauce:

2 Cups fresh broccoli, snow peas, carrots, etc – whatever you have on hand and like in stir fry dishes (I used broccoli…the original recipe used snow peas – next time I will use a mixture)

1 T cornstarch

1/2 cup cold water

4 cloves garlic

3 green onions, sliced

2 tsp ginger

3 Tbl brown sugar

3 Tbl Tamari (check the brand to be sure of it being gluten free)  or regular soy sauce if you don’t have a gluten issue

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or Sraracha or other source of spice to give it some kick) – I left this out for the kids. It was still good but I like the spice!

Mix the corn starch and the water. (Always use cold/cool liquid to mix cornstarch or you get lumps.) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.  Toss you veggies in your hot pan (you’ve taken the chicken pieces out so it is hot but empty).  Pour the sauce over the veggies and stir fry until veggies are nearing done.  Add chicken back in and stir to coat with sauce.  (My sauce got too thick too quickly and I added a little more water to the pan to loosen it up.)

The chicken was moist and yummy.  The sauce was nice without being the gooey overly sweet stuff I get from the take out joint (don’t get me wrong, love me some General Tso’s now and then).  I served it over brown rice – quinoa would also be good.  Verdict: I really liked it. The girls didn’t hate it but didn’t really eat it – par for the course these days.

Quinoa Salad

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

At lunch yesterday, my friend Crystal served this quinoa salad. I loved it and asked for the recipe.  She directed me to the Faithful Provisions recipe.  I made it today and am really enjoying it. I know a lot of people aren’t sure what to do with quinoa but want to try it because it is such a nutritional powerhouse when compared to other grains. This is a great way to try it.

A few notes because you know I never stick to a recipe.  I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil.  I used only 1 Tbl of sesame oil.  I like sesame oil but thought 2 Tbl might be overpowering.  I used 4 green onions because I love the combo of green onions and craisins in salads.  I didn’t have any cilantro (stupid stuff won’t grow for me – it lives for a week and then all goes to seed) so I used fresh basil instead.  And I cooked my quinoa according to the package directions (including rinsing it) which was much shorter than the recipe’s direction so check your quinoa for cooking time.  Finally, mine might look a little different because I had a little bit of a box of red quinoa left over so I used some red and some white.  Make this.  It is a great lunch time thing to have in the frig.

Roasted broccoli

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Ina Garten’s recipe for Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli has way more ingredients than I use.  I’m sure her way is even better but I’m doing it the lazy way my way.  I took her general idea and made it a little simpler and now I am obsessed with roasted broccoli. I want to eat it at least once a day.  Some days, I make a pan and that is lunch.

Broccoli purchasing tip – if you are a member of Sam’s Club, you can purchase a big bag of fresh florets for the price of 2 bunches at the grocery store.  It contains 4 or 5 bunches worth. Obviously, you have to eat a lot of broccoli to make it worth your while.  I’m kind of a picky veggie eater and broccoli is one of my favs so I tend to buy the bags except in the summer when we are going to the farmers market every week.

I don’t think this is a recipe so much as a cooking method.  And I might be the last one to have tried this so  you all might be rolling your eyes but WOW it is yummy this way.

Preheat the oven to 425*.

Put as much broccoli as you like on a baking sheet.  Just the florets.  Make sure the broccoli is dry – if it is wet, it will steam instead of roasting.

Drizzle the broccoli florets with olive oil.  Don’t drench – just drizzle.  (This close up shows that it isn’t saturated. The dark lines are where the oil drizzled over it.)

Sprinkle entire pan with sea salt.

Roast at 425* for 23-25 min.  When you remove it from the oven, drizzle with some lemon juice (I’ve used both fresh and the stuff out of the plastic lemon).  Then grate some fresh parmesan or asiago cheese on top.

The browned parts are a little crunchy and the flavor of it is changed a bit – just pure yum.  My husband and I both have declared this our favorite way to eat it.  I haven’t steamed it since trying roasting.  (The kids are another story.  But they don’t like anything these days.)

Taco soup

Monday, April 11th, 2011

My friend Alleen posted this recipe on Facebook a couple of months ago.  It was a cold, damp day and we all thought it sounded fabulously easy.  I share it because it is fast, easy, has no fancy ingredients, and pretty yummy.  It reminds me of chili but requires a lot less effort. If my children were normal, they might even eat this because they love black beans and chickpeas.

The photo of the soup was taken a few days later – great left overs.  It was soupier the first night but you can add more liquid when you reheat.

Taco Soup

1 lb of ground beef or ground chicken or ground turkey, browned

1 yellow onion, diced and cooked with the ground meat

1 green pepper, diced and cooked with the ground meat (I left it out)

1 can black beans (or other type of bean your family likes)

1 can chickpeas (or kidney beans if you prefer)

1 can corn or bag of frozen corn

2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained

2 envelopes taco seasoning

1 packet dry ranch dressing mix

1 can green chiles

1/2 cup or more of water to make it the desired soup consistency

chopped cilantro (optional)

Throw it all in the crock pot (except cilantro – add that just before serving).  Allow to cook 6-8 hours on low.  Or put it all in a soup pot and allow it to simmer on the stove on low for 1-2 hours.  Good topped with shredded cheese and sour cream.

Peanut Butter Pie

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Church lady cook books.  Did you all have those growing up?  They were a staple in rural Ohio.  The church ladies would all throw their favorite recipes in and publish a spiral bound cook book to raise funds for something.  Those little cook books were gems.  Sometimes the recipes were downright humorous – find one from the 50′s and count the jello molds.  Sometimes the recipes were fabulous.  Sometimes you wouldn’t know until you tried if whether the recipes was a keeper or not.  This is one of those recipes.  It is one of those that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.  It doesn’t sound like much to read it on paper but it tastes amazing.

I used to make this pie all of the time for picnics and potlucks and gatherings.  And then I lost the cookbook somewhere along the way and I kind of forgot about it.  Fast forward 10 years to a gathering of my friends here in TN.  Some friends were asking Jennie for a recipe for her peanut butter pie.  I heard her mention the ingredients and a light bulb went off in my head.  MY PIE! I asked her to send me the recipe as well.  We started discussing it and found that she had spent some time living in a small town in rural Ohio not far from my hometown.  Her mother had gotten the recipe from a church lady in another town.  We found it funny that our source was possibly the same all these years and miles later.

For some reason, it took me a year after she sent me the recipe to get around to making the pie.  I forgot how yummy it is.  The ingredients are simple.  You’ll see my back story is much longer than the recipe itself.  Make this.  Take it to a picnic.  Everyone will love you.

Church Lady Peanut Butter Pie

1 large box vanilla pudding – cook & serve (Don’t use instant.  If you want to be lazy buy 2 tubs of Kozy Shack prepared pudding.  Also, you can use chocolate and make it more of a reese’s pie.)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tub of cool whip (8-10 oz)

1 pie shell (you can buy one of the refrigerated ones and bake it or you can use a graham or chocolate crust already prepared…I used chocolate)

Make the pudding according to the directions on the box. Allow it to cool at least to room temperature – it doesn’t have to be chilled but you don’t want it warm enough to melt the peanut butter.

Mix the peanut butter and powdered sugar together with a fork (use it like a pastry cutter).  It will form crumbs.

Put half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of your pie shell.

Put all of the pudding on top of the crumb mixture.  Then put most of the remaining crumb mixture on top of the pudding making sure to get to the edges.  Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the crumb mixture for garnish.

Top with Cool Whip and then the remaining crumb mixture.  Chill.

I took this to Bunco this weekend and everyone seemed to like it a lot.  My husband refused to try it – he has a weird custard issue and said it looked too much like custard.  Whatever.  That just means I don’t have to share when I make it.

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