Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sometimes things just come together

So I haven't been here in a long time. Every time I check blogs I see this one and try to remember when I posted last. Normally I can't remember.

I can remember when I started this blog I fully planned on blogging every new recipe I ever try. Either I don't try new recipes often or I'm just a failure at blogging them. Well the answer is both. I have pictures of a couple recipes all ready to post but they are just sitting on my hard drive. I you'd all know how I make banana bread and granola by now if I weren't so darn lazy. And here is the other thing... I don't follow recipes when I cook and I don't bake that often!

So in my own opinion I make some good dinners but 90% of the time I cook by the seat of my pants. My method is to rifle through the cabinets and throw in a handful of this or that. And when things turn out well I'd tell you but I'm not sure a recipe of a shake of this and drizzle of that is all that informative. I made a pretty good pork roast the other week... I can't remember what I used as marinade. Last week a made a really good Chile. I loved it, initially it had a mild smokey flavor but then would smolder in your mouth for a long time after. I have an idea of the ingredients but I'd never be able to recreate it exactly much less express it to you. But for once I'm gonna try. These won't be in pretty recipe format and they'll probably never turn out the same way again. But I'm going to share this dinner with you because Brett loved it and that's rare (he always eats the food I cook but it's rare that he really loves it)

So here's what was for dinner monday. I hate to make this post longer but... you have to understand I'm a 5:00 pm dinner eater. If I gets much later than that dinner isn't happeneing. So I ate lunch late (at like three) and thus wasn't hungry at 5 and had no desire for dinner. But 8:00 rolled around and brett was hungry. We had just gotten home from WallyWorld and I was exhausted. But in an attempt to be a good wife here is what resulted. (oh and by the way took less that 30 minutes)

Ham steak, Pasta, Cucumber salad.

Ham steak. I love these things they are easy, quick, and fairly cheap. I like mine with pineapple but brett doesn't so I left it out this time. So I unwrapped the ham steak, threw it into a pan over medium heat and salted and peppered the meat likely. I then sprinkled brown sugar over the top (again very lightly). Then it was just cooking three minutes or so on each side and it was ready. I thought it was a bit salty but brett loved it.

Pasta. This is my all time most favoritest bestest pasta. I'd make big bowls of this in high school and just eat it. And you must use multi colored noodles because that is the kind I love best. So cook up some multi colored noodles. While they are cooking mix some chicken bullion what a tablespoon of butter or so and then mix it with some cream (you can use milk but it's not nearly as good). If you use chicken bullion cubes you'll need to crush it up. I prefer bullion in paste form but it's more expensive. That is the basic. It's also good with some Parmesan mixed in.

Cucumber salad. This one is cake. peel and cut cucumber into bit size pieces. In bowl mix a few shakes of rice vinegar, a touch of soy sauce and some sesame oil. Mix with cucumber and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

And there ya go. That's about as balanced of meal as we get. And it all just happened to come together and be delicious.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lettuce Boats.

Ever been to PF Chang's or Pei Wie's?? Ever gotten the lettuce wraps? They are amazing. YUMMY! My family is not the type to get appetizers but we get these every time we go there. I got this recipe from Cooking Light Magazine. The actual recipe is for Korean Sesame Beef with Lettuce Wrap but we just switched up the meet and excluded a few ingredients. This is what we ended up with:

Oh yeah, the name of the post is lettuce boats because we had the wrong kind of lettuce and so it looks like boats not roasts.

Brett and Margaret's Lettuce Wraps.
See these slimy bacteria prone chicken breasts? Chicken boobs as my sister-in-law ( and thus sometimes my husband) calls them. Well right now they're not so good but just wait they're gonna get delicious. (I think that was about 3/4 lb chicken)

So we cut then into thin strips. That is because it is all we were having for dinner. If we were just serving then for appetizers then we'd cut the chicken up really small. We are of course still perfecting the recipe so we might experiments with a few more ingredients.


It's pretty simple. So here we see sugar, wok oil (you can also use vegtable oile with wok oil has a really good flavor to it.), soy sauce (brett love la choy and won't eat any other brand, I grew up on kikkoman, in case you were wondering), sesame oil, sesame seeds, green onions, garlic, and lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is what they use at the restuaraunt but I only had romain lettuce. It tasted just as good, it just didn't 'wrap'. (these ingredients also turn out better if you shadow them with your body like I am in this picture)

So here is the sauce. It's pretty simple.
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 C green onions
Just give all that a mixer-oo in a bowl. Now stir in the chicken
If it looks like some of the chicken in this picture is already cooked that's because it is. Brett thought we cooked the chicken and then added the sauce. So he put the chicken in the wok and then quickly took it back out when he realized that's now how it's done. Although I think it would have turned out fine had he cooked the chicken then added the sauce. (also from here on I played with the pictures in photo shop just to waste more time, so please excuse any wierdness, like how dark the above picture turned out.)
See that wok? It's one of my more stupid purchases. Actually the wok was a pretty cook purchase but the woking cookbook I bought with it was a complete waste of money. But sometimes when I see something in the store I just can't leave with out it. Anyway so put a few tablespoons of wok (or whatever you're using) in the bottom of your wok (or skillet) over medium-high to high heat. Let your oil get hot then add your chicken. You might have to do your chicken in portions depending on how much you have. The point is to cook the meat on high heat very quickly. Thus you can't have too much in the pan at once, the meat pieces have to be fairly small, and you'll need to stir the meat very often. Once your meat is done transfer it to a bowl. Your meat is done. The first time we made this recipe we just put the chicken over rice in the lettuce leaves. It was delicious. But since we've added a few more layers if flavor.

Here is a sauce to drizzle over the top.


So the sauce has six ingredients. I think we've now matched the ones they have at PF changes.
The top three are the most important and the pot sticker sauce the most most important. Start with a table spoon or two or three of pot sticker sauce. Then maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of the Chinese mustard and the chili sauce. These can be pretty hot so go light at first. Now the bottom three ingredients. These can be added to your taste. Soy sauce is of course just soy sauce, the rice vinegar will cut down some of the hotness (at least that is what they say at the restaurant), and the Mongolian fire oil will add more fire. The Mongolian fire oil is Brett's new favorite thing. He adds it to about everything he cooks. Mostly ramen and scrambled eggs.

So here ya go. You have your sauce. This one turned out pretty spicy but delicious all the same. Experiment with your. But if you want it like PF Chang's the pot sticker sauce is still the staple of the sauce.

Now we have the newest addition. The restaurant serves the chicken on a bed a crunchy Styrofoam like noodles. I could never figure out what they were and had given up. Then last week Brett brought these home. And they were exactly the right thing. So your going to cook them in a could inches of hot oil (don't waste your wok oil on this!) heated to 400 degrees. Just drop the noodles in till they puff up and take them out. This will happen almost instantly, almost like magic. Actually I think it may be magic.
video
Well I hope that video worked for you because it's awesome. The ugly brown ones. That is what happens when the oil is not hot enough. They won't puff up just sit in the bottom and burn.


And there you go. That is it. Just fill each lettuce leaf with some of the Styrofoam noodles, the chicken, sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions and finally drizzle with some of the sauce.

Monday, August 18, 2008

F is for Failure

Well I've made my first inedible meal of our marriage. This last weekend I decided that I would, for the first time, roast a chicken. Actually I was only going to roast 1/3 of a chicken. If you've ever seen one of my mom's homegrown chickens you know that an entire chicken would feed a small army. The entire experience was awful. First we didn't set the chicken out to defrost early enough. So I tried the microwave, that was a failure. The microwave cooked the chicken around the edges and made the meat smell weird. So finally I put the chicken in lukewarm water to warm up. My short patience kicked in and before long I was rinsing the 1/3 chick and plucking out pin feathers. The whole time cursing whoever slaughtered the chicken and left so many darn pin feathers knowing full well it was probably me that did it. Once the chicken looked presentable and didn't have a weird smell to it I set about seasoning it and trying a recipe my mom had told me about. Then it was into the oven. I called my mom about an hour into the baking to ask how long to cook it. I panicked when she said only about 45 minutes. Well I checked it and it was in no way done. So it was back into the oven for another half hour or so. Finally I thought maybe it's done. So I pulled it out and cut into it only to find an almost still pumping vein in the leg. While keeping at bay my upchuck reflex I asked Brett if we can just through it out. He said no and put it back into the over. Another half hour or so later he declared the chicken done and pulled it out. Now I don't like dark meat to begin with, add to the fact that it's poorly prepared dark meat and I don't want to touch it. Brett chivalrously at the entire drumstick (which is quite large on one of my mom's chickens). I ate two bites and then added milk, sugar, cinnamon, and coconut to my milk and enjoyed my dessert.

While initially I declared I'll never roast a chicken again and wondered why I want to raise chickens if the only part I eat is the breast meat, I've decided the root of the grossness was the not completely thawed state of the meat. Thus perhaps maybe I'll try again. Hopefully with less pin feathers.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dinner Rolls.

So I've talked about Spunko's before. Well our best sellers was dinner rolls. The recipe comes from my "business partner's" mom. The recipe became something I would cook if I wanted to impress. Then I met my husband who from the very beginning raved about his sister-in-laws, Katie, rolls. So my days of 'I'll bring the dinner rolls' ended. My niche in potluck dinner had already been filled. But after taking the rolls to a church picnic and seeing them practically vaporize (they were the only non-store-bought rolls I think that's why they went so fast) I decided to post the recipe.
Well here is what you need. Water (not pictured, if your unfamiliar with water let me know, I'll make a post about it and how to make it.), yeast, oil, white sugar (I'm not racist towards white sugar though, you can also use honey, or go ahead try brown sugar tell me if it works), salt, flour, and an optional egg (Meaning you don't have to use the egg. Don't go to the store and ask for optional eggs you won't find them.).

Oh my I almost forgot an ingredient, the best ingredient... butter... mmmm butter. So today I used margarine. I am racist against margarine. The idea of margarine makes me go bleh. If you're gonna add fat use the good stuff. But I'm trying to cut down spending everywhere and margarine is a lot cheaper so I tried it. Oh and when I made rolls dinner night I had an extra table spoon or melted butter and what did I do with it? I ate it... plain... yeah, that is right, I dipped my fingers in it and licked it off my fingers. So, to keep from adding some more junk to my trunk, I used margarine today.

As far as equipment you'll need a rolling pin of sorts. See mine? I made it when I as a kid. A pastry or bread cloth helps a lot. And you'll want a mixer with a dough hook. You can also make the dough in a bread maker. Oh and a cook sheet (preferably with sides) and an oven or some other high intensity heat source, but your on your own if you use any other cooking method than an oven.

Okay we're ready now. Let's go.Here we have the water, sugar, and yeast. Every time I make any bread I think okay I'm going to let the yeast activate before moving on. So supposedly there is something going on under that cloth. I heard someone describe the yeast activation as an orgy going on under the cloth and you just need to wait for the party to finish. However, I disapprove of orgies and don't have the patience to wait. So I just move on. Maybe my sister-in-law let's the orgy happen and that's why her rolls are better (although I'm sure she wouldn't call it an orgy).

Okay I'm back (did you realize I went away?). I had an epiphany. There are two types of yeast. Some yeast need you have to activate first. These are the dirty inappropriate yeasts that require an orgy. Other yeast (the kind I use) are clean and moral, this yeast is often called bread machine yeast. They don't require the activation. So really, my lack of patience is cool for once. Phew. I feel better now.

Moving on, add everything but the flour and give it a little mixerew.


Yummy looking huh. Uh-oh...Looks like I'm out of flour. Looks like your on your own from here. Good luck.

Just kidding, I have more flour. Did you really think I was going to leave you on your own.

Okay add some flour. Go ahead. Do it, add a cup or two or four. NO STOP TOO MUCH! Just kidding.


Oh boy, Not enough flour Getting closer.Now we're getting there. See how the dough is starting to make make a ball on the hook. Good sign. Let's check it.

I look we're close. Go ahead touch it. A little bit should stick to your finger but not this much. Add another half of cup or so. Oh boy it's ready. Turn the dough onto your floured pastry cloth and give it a knead or two. Them cover it and let it rise. This is where I should say, I only made a half recipe. If you make a full recipe you should cut it into two or three even pieces. This is when patience come in again. Last time I made these rolls for Brett I was determined to let the dough rise. So I covered it and walked away for almost a half an hour. Those were big fluffy rolls. And what did Brett say? I like these but I like them denser. So this time it was 5, maybe 10 minutes of rising and moving on.


Okay roll it out. Every time I roll the dough out I think of the song from Clueless, the one that Brittani Murphy and the jerky guy dance to at the party, that says "rollin' with my homies. Now cut it into fourths and them each fourth into thirds.Like this. Now is the fun part. Take each 12th and give it a bath...A butter bath. I think I'd personally enjoy a butter bath. I might get in the bowl myself... oh wait no, this is margarine, bleh.
Okay, slap it down there on your cookie sheet. Shmear it around in the butter so both sides are covered. Them start rollin' in my homies again.And keep rollin'.I'm tempted to but eyes on it.

Can you consume sharpie?? Do I need to throw this one out? Just kidding! I used photo shop. He's cute though huh. If I weren't married and he were dipped in butter I mike give him a kisserew! Okay let's finish up here I'm hungry.

Oh wow, I'm fast.

What? What is that? Is that a pig? Trying to eat my rolls? I THINK NOT! Okay. Go off. Enjoy.

You're still here? Leave.

It's over. What? You want what? The actual recipe. Oh fine here it is.

  • Dinner Rolls
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2Tbs yeast
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • Bake at 400 till golden brown (10-12 minutes)

Okay. Ya good? Got it? Enjoy. There no Katie's rolls but their good.

Okay I admit it. I kind of copied Pioneer Woman on her style of recipe sharing. But it's just so much more fun than the boring old recipe and directions. And it's not that I'm trying to be like her... more like she showed me it's okay to let my freak flag fly.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mississippi Mud Pie

Pie crust
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water.
  1. In a large bowl, using a pastry blender, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and cut in with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
  2. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water, and continue to work dough with pastry blender until crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overwork.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; form into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. (Or wrap in plastic, place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before rolling.)
I didn't have a pastry blender so I used two butter knifes. It took me forever. I was also doubtful that the mixture would really roll into anything besides crumbs but it did. It's important not to over work. I also didn't bother past the first sentence of step three. I immediately used the crust in the following recipe.

Mississippi Mud Pie
All-purpose flour, for work surface
1 pie crust (above)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped plus 1/2 ounce shaved
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough out to a 12-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Using kitchen shears, trim crust leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold edge under then crimp with your fingers. Prick bottom all over with a fork; refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until edges are just beginning to turn golden. Remove parchment and pie weights, and return shell to oven. Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until golden all over. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350.
  3. In a medium heatproof bowl, set over, not in, a pan of simmering water, melt 2 ounces of the chocolate. Brush bottom of cooled shell with chocolate and scatter pecans over.
  4. Using the same bowl, set over simmering water, melt butter with remaining 6 ounces of chocolate.
  5. Using an electric mixer on high, beat eggs, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt until thick and batter falls back in a ribbon when beaters are lifted from bowl, about 3 minutes. Gently fold butter-chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Pour into pie shell. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until top forms a crust and filling is just set.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then refrigerate until well chilled.
    Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream with confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Top cooled pie with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
The only change I made was I didn't have any pecans so I used walnuts. Also be sure to let the melted chocolate cool so that it does not cook the egg mixture (I've made this mistake a few times before with other recipes.) I also had a ton of extra filling so I put it ramekins and baked them along with the pie.

I got this recipe from Everyday Baking, which is a cooking show on PBS. Turns out the show is part of the Martha Stewart empire and the recipe along with the video can be found at marthastewart.com

Friday, July 25, 2008

Crepes

This is my mom's recipe for Crepes. She says to make the batter the night before and let it sit but I'm not one to plan far enough ahead to do that. Now my mom doesn't use recipes or measuring cups so this isn't going to look like a normal recipe.

Eggs (I used six eggs)
milk: equal volume to eggs ( six eggs had a volume of 1 1/3 cup milk so I used 1 1/3 cups milk)
sugar: for six eggs about 1/4 cup (for 3 eggs use 1/8 cup sugar, 4 eggs 1/6 cup sugar ect...)
flour: equal to volume of milk or eggs ( for me 1 1/3 cup)
salt
vanilla (I think i probably used between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon of these last two)
Blend in a blender. Try not to over blend but just enough to remove and flour lumps.

Over medium heat preheat a 10 inch shallow skillet. The pan I used is almost totally flat and works perfect but any shallow pan should work. Also it's best if it's non-stick.

Pour probably about 1/2 to 3/4 cup into pan.


Pick up the pan and tip to spread the batter over the bottom. Immediately pour the excess batter off. If the pan is not hot enough then not enough of a layer will be left in the pan to form a crepe. If the crepe comes out too thick then either pour the batter off quicker or turn the heat down a bit.

Let sit just few seconds, maybe thirty or less. This is a good time to gut off the flap made by pouring off the excess batter. If this comes off the pan easily in one piece the crepe is probably done. If the Crepe is as thin as it should be you won't need to flip it over and cook the other side. But if the crepe is on the thicker side you may want to cook the other side just for a few seconds.

There is lot's of different fillings to put in crepes. Crepes can be sweet or savory. Ask anyone who has spent much time in europe and they'll say they see crepe stands all over with cheese filling, chocolate filling... My personal favorite is a fruit filling with whip cream. Using blue berry, cherry, or raspberry canned pie filling. I made my own raspberry filling.

Raspberry filling. (also works with blueberry)

6-8 oz of frozen berries
~1 Tbs. cornstarch
~2 Tbs. sugar

Place berries (still frozen) in a shallow microwavable bowl. Sprinkle sugar and cornstarch over berries. Cover with a paper plate. Microwave on 80% power, stirring every two minutes, until the juice from the berries if clear and slides slowly off the spoon.

I also didn't have any whipping cream so I creamed cream cheese, a touch of powdered sugar and a splash of milk. Place filling of your choice in the crepes and roll.




Brett also filled his with Nuttella and a touch of the raspberry filling. This was really good and tasted like Christmas.
Before I moved this from my other blog a friend left a comment saying she used this recipe and like it. It made me so happy I was sad I lost the comment...

GERMAN PANCAKES

When I was young my mom had to go to Pocatello (think) for ski patrol and I had to go with her. She took me out to breakfast before hand at Smitty's. (The best place for breakfast. IHOP/Denny's... everything pales in comparison) I got a German pancake with blueberry toppings. My mom told me that when her and my dad were dating they went to Smitty's for breakfast and she got a German pancake. Ever since i have loved German pancakes from Smitty's 1) because they are delicious and 2) because they remind me of my mom. I've always looked for a good recipe. I've never found anything as good but this recipe from Real Simple magazine's website is pretty close

picture from Real Simple's website
3 large eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter



Heat oven to 400 degrees

Whisk eggs to combine. Whisk in flour till smooth. Add milk, salt, and vanilla and mix. Add butter to a large cast iron skillet. Place in hot oven until butter is melted. Add batter to the hot skillet and return to oven. Back until puffy and golden brown, about 15 minutes. The recipe called for a drizzle of lemon juice and dusting of powdered sugar. It also recommended spreading jam over the top.

I didn't like the lemon juice as much but the powder sugar was good. I didn't have any jam so i used a little strawberry cream cheese. I also don't have a cast iron skillet so i used Brett's dutch oven. It turned out good. I think it was just a little thicker because i used the dutch oven. Also the recipe said the recipe yields four servings. Brett and I split one and it wasn't enough so.. maybe four very small not very filling servings.