Why another cooking blog?

I decided to create this blog as a way for family and friends to see what I'm cooking and to share interesting food related tidbits I come across.
I'm frequently asked for recipes so I thought this would be a good place to start collecting the old, new, and funky recipes that I have.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Food P*rn Friday!

I'm embarrassed to say that I did not cook once this week. In my defense I was traveling for work 3 days this week. So.... no posts. Bummer. But I think I have more than made up for it with this week's Food P*orn Friday selections!
I've been on a dessert kick lately so that is why the pics are mostly dessert. I think tomorrow I will have to put my bride's foot down and insist upon going to try the peppermint cake from Kathleen's sky diner. It looks sinfully good and I've never had it.

Peppermint Cream Cake from Kathleen's Sky Diner

Apple Ricotta Strudel from Amuse Bouche

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites from Skinny Taste

Chocolate Cake with Orange Marmalade and Chocolate Glaze from Lululu at Home

Crab Risotto from Daily Unadventures in Cooking

Lamb & Hummus Burger from Simply Delicious
Betty Crocker's Mini Smores Hand Pies from Flickr

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

We have a shortage of food in our house at the moment. I have been putting off going to the grocery store for 2 weeks. In a desperate attempt to figure out dinner one night last week I realized I just happened to have all the ingredients for chicken pot pie.
For those of you who do NOT know me.... I don't like biscuits (or crescent rolls) and I pretty much detest chicken pot pie. Don't ask me why, I really can't tell you. BUT I needed dinner and Jeff happens to love chicken pot pie. This is this kind of sacrifice you make for someone you love. You make chicken pot pie even though you hate it.
Anywho, it worked out quite well... I didn't even have to attempt to make biscuits from scratch because Jeff brought like 8 containers of Pillsbury Grands home from the deer lease. So I opened up a few cans of veggies, got out my precooked chicken from my broth making earlier in the week and away I went.
Here's the recipe:

My Chicken Pot Pie (or at least what I think Chicken Pot Pie should be)
Serves 6 - 8 - plus one 8 year old kid who won't eat it

1-2 T of olive oil or butter
2 C cooked chicken, diced/sliced/whatever
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2-3 C mixed vegetables, canned or frozen (I did corn, green beans, peas)
A few T flour
3-4 C chicken broth
1-2 t oregano
2 bay leaves
1/4 - 1/2 C milk
S&P to taste
1 can Pillsbury Grands biscuits

Preheat oven to 350 (or w/e temp the biscuits cook at). In a large dutch oven heat the oil or butter over med-low heat. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Sweat (means don't brown) the vegetables until the are soft. Add in the  oregano, bay leaves, mixed veggies and let cook for a few minutes until they are hot, stirring occasionally. If using canned, make sure to drain them. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour over the veggies and stir until all veggies are coated with flour. Turn heat up to med or med-high and add the chicken broth stirring until the flour is mixed in. Season with S&P to taste. Let this get good and hot, but not boiling. It should thicken up nicely. If it does not stir in a T of cornstarch whisked with a T of water. Once it thickens remove the bay leaves and pour in the milk. Correct your seasoning. Take off the heat. Then open the biscuits and place them on top of the chicken mixture (not all in one glob... what are you thinking?). Make it look pretty! Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the biscuits are brown on top and cooked through.

My Notes
I generally do not eat biscuits, but will on occasion. Pillsbury Grands are about the only ones I can recall eating in the last 20 years or so. I prefer butter (shock I know) for this application rather than oil. To me pot pie should be rich, tasty and a comfort food so butter it is. I tore up the last biscuit and placed the pieces in between the biscuits to fill the gaps. I ended up baking for about twice as long as the biscuit package indicates. But all in all I think it turned out pretty darn good. Especially when it's something I've never made before and don't like eating.
The kid pretty much picked around the veggies and ate the chicken and biscuit with a decidedly unenthusiastic look on her face. So I would call this NOT kid-approved.
I'm sorry, but again this is a butt-number recipe.....I didn't not measure anything. I promise I will get better at this.

P.S. If Pillsbury would pay me, I would gladly call this an advertisement for their Grands biscuits. But alas, I have no such sponsor-ship. Ha ha get it? I'm waiting for my sponsor-ship to come in.  Bwa ha ha

P.P.S. Don't judge me.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Food P*rn Friday!

Banana Pudding with Nilla Wafers from The Joy of Cooking

Cinnamon Roll Rice Krispie Treats from Cooking Classy
Lemon Cranberry Cheese Cake  from iadorefood

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Black Bean Soup

I had been having a craving for black bean soup for a little while. I made this last week one evening. I didn't have a recipe so I just pulled this recipe out of nowhere. I think it turned out pretty good, we all enjoyed it. Unfortunately when I pull a recipe out of nowhere I ususally do not have the wherewithal to write down what I'm putting in the recipe. This one is no exception. So that being said these ingredient measurements are a guessitmate. Sorry.

This post also gives me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite phrases "mes en plas" or everything in place. I like saying it, it makes me feel all fancy and knowledgeable. Basically do your prep work ahead and you won't be rushing around trying to get something done when the recipe says in 2 minutes add the diced XYZ..... and you haven't even gotten the XYZ out of the fridge, or washed it let alone diced the suckers. Be organized! Dice your onions, measure out your spices, drain your beans, do whatever the recipes says to prep your food and then start cooking.
For instance, in this recipe I drained the beans in a collander and rinsed them and let them sit in the sink. I diced the onion, celery, carrot, sausage, garlic and set aside (separately). I had my cumin, chili powder, can of rotel, and chicken broth ready and waiting. That way cooking is not a rushed, stressed experience. P.S. It also helps to read the recipe through before starting.

Black Bean Soup
serves 8

3 cans of black beans, drained
bacon, 4 strips sliced
chili powder
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 stalks celery, sliced
2-3 carrots, sliced
1 can can of rotel
1/2 sausage link
34 oz. chicken broth

Cook bacon in a heavy cast iron pot. Once the bacon is cooked through and nicely crisp remove the bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel. Sample the bacon. Depending on the quality of bacon, you will either have a few tablespoons of grease or A LOT of grease. If you have A LOT of grease, ladle the grease out until you have a tablespoon or two. Then add your onion, carrots, celery and garlic. On lowish heat sweat the veggies until they are tender.  At this point I added some cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper (I didn't measure) add to taste. I'd say at least a teaspoon of cumin, maybe 1/2 a tsp of chili powder. Sample the bacon. Add your chicken broth, about 2/3 of the beans, and rotel. Bring to a boil then sample the bacon. Then get out your immersion blender and blend the soup until it is smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender then use your regular blender and do it in batches. Sample the bacon. Add the rest of the beans and the sausage. Serve once the sausage is hot. Don't forget to correct your seasoning, in other words taste it and add salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin.... whatever you think it needs.

My notes:
I cooked 4 slices of bacon, only about two were left by the time we were ready to eat dinner. So I always make extra bacon. Serve this soup with sour cream, cilantro, chopped tomatoes, bacon, whatever is your heart's desire. Next time I make this, I think I will brown the sausage a little prior to adding to the soup. If you think the soup is too thin, mix up a T of cornstarch and a T of water in a small bowl, then add to the soup, bring to a boil while stirring and it will thicken up nicely.
The kid heartily approved this soup and even ate leftovers which is unheard of.

What's wrong with butter?

So I was reading an article on CNN about Southern food. Here's the link:

It's an interesting article, but the last quote by Ms. Paula Deen is what shocked me.
“What’s wrong with just butter and salt in grits?”

While I agree, there is nothing wrong with salt and butter in grits the question that was posed prior to her saying that is, “Do you think that Southern food has had a start and a finish or do you think it’s something that continues to evolve?”. I'm a little disappointed. Southern food has a deep, rich tradition and it's not all butter, fat, or frying things.
To me her non-answer, says it all. She is an ambassador for her community, people know her and recognize her. They look to her as a rolemodel. And the best you can come up with is what's wrong with butter and salt? Honestly. If your type 2 diabetes hasn't already answered that let me pose this from one of my favorite books to read (Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer), "Think before you eat, people: Food should be the life of you, not the death of you." Thanks Agnes you said it all. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sloe-gin fizz

Here is an interesting post at sloe-gin fizz. I never knew what a sloe was. I have learned something new today!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Dad is great! Give us the chocolate cake.....

Feeling the need for something chocolate-y and delicious I busted out the good old BHG cookbook.
I've written a previous ode to my BHG cookbook, and the recipe for chocolate cake. So I don't feel too pressed to re-write my previous sentiments.
I made this cake in 2 - 9 in round pans and frosted it with the cream cheese frosting I found in BHG Cookbook. Here are the recipes:

Chocolate Cake
3/4 C butter, softened
3 eggs
2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 C sugar
2 t vanilla
1 1/2 C milk
1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease bottoms of two 8X8X2-inch or 9X1 1/2-inch cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with waxed paper. Or, grease one 13X9X2-inch baking pan. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, abotu 1/4 C at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined (3-4 minutes). Scrape sides of bowl; continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total). Beat in vanilla.
3. Alternately add flour mixiture and milk to the butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan(s).
4. Bake in a 350 oven for 35-40 minutes for 8-inch pans and 13X9X2 pan, 20-35 minutes for 9-inch pans, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Peel off waxed paper. Cool thoroughly on racks or place 13X9X2-inc cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting - or don't if you're like me.

My notes:
I use crisco and cocoa powder to grease my pans.
If you have a scale I generally fill my 9in pans to 1 lb and 7oz. That is including the weight of the aluminum pans. That is about 1/2 the batter, then you have nice even layers.

P.S. Here's a little giggle for you. Click me.

Food Porn Friday!

It's Friday! And I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to post a few pictures of food. Not just any food.... but delectable food that makes your mouth water and your stomach rumble. Pictures of food that you just HAVE to have.

From Portugese Girl Cooks

From Pass the Sushi
From Skinny Taste
From Sundays with Jennie

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stuffed Shells with Sausage and Spinach

This is another pinterest find for me. It smelled awesome while cooking. It made 21 shells. I sent 8 home with my mom and we had the remaining 13. Of those 13 there was only 3 left after dinner. I call that a success. Here's the recipe.

Serves: 4 (not really, this fed 5)

  • 16-18 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 pound fresh pork sausage links, casing removed
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeeze dry
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozarella cheese
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and fill a large bowl with cold water and ice, set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta shells and cook according to package directions. Drain well then add to ice water until ready to stuff.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork sausage then use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage, cook 5-6 minutes until browned.
  4. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds then add tomatoes and spinach; cook 1 minute.
  5. Remove pan from heat and stir in ricotta cheese.
  6. Using a spoon, fill pasta shells with pork filling and arrange in a baking dish (9-inch x 9-inch baking dish works well). Sprinkle tops with shredded cheese then bake in the oven 25-30 minutes until cheese has melted and tips of shells begin to crisp and brown.
Jeff over-cheesed it a little....

My notes:
I HATE frozen spinach. Seriously. I pretty much refuse to use it. I chalk it up to an unpleasant situation at the cafeteria at work.  Sooo that being said I used fresh spinach (about 2 loose cups) instead of frozen spinach. I went to the butcher counter and asked for Italian sausage, why get links instead of bulk sausage? I also added some marinara sauce to the top of the shells. Totally made the dish. Try it, you won't be sorry. The kid even ate the spinach.... there's something to be said for that.

Update: Not only did the kid eat this, she has requested it again. Success!

Always important...

How to carmelize onions...


It's taken me a little while to realize you just can't rush this process. I've burnt my fair share of onions. But not anymore!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Two interesting articles from Cookinglight.com

Six Steps to Successful Menu Planning
From cookinglight.com:
1. Resolve to make the effort
2. Pick a planning style that suits your personality
3. Make a shopping list
4. Shop strategically
5. Cook perishables first
6. Grade your efforts


The Best and Worst on Kids' Menus
They look at Panera, Chili's, Applebee's, Uno Chicago Grill, Friendly's, Cosi, and California Pizza Kitchen


Monday, January 9, 2012

Yelp Elite 2012

I just got my e-mail that I have been invited to be an Elite Yelper for this year. Awesome! I don't know why but I find that strangely satisfying and I'm somewhat proud of myself. They like me, they really like me! A part of me feels like I shouldn't feel that way but then again they call it Elite for a reason right? ;)
So check my badself out!

Nilla wafer car?

Now I like Nilla wafers just as much as the next guy.... but I think this dude might have a nilla wafer problem.....

Whoever heard of a Nilla Wafer car?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Green Smoothie follow up

It's green. Boy is it green.
It's thick.
It's green.
So aside from the green.... it's not bad. First, the damn thing was too big for my blender. So that was exciting for a moment.
The flavor was interesting....stay with me here. The tofu is bland but it still controls the taste of the smoothie. Does that make sense? I think that it could use a little less tofu and maybe a little more OJ or maybe pineapple juice. I can drink this. I've drank 1/2 a glass and it occurs to me that it's pretty filling. This could be a viable breakfast for me. I can definitely taste the apple.

It's green.
It's a green smoothie. And it was good. My co-worker maintains that wheat grass would totally MAKE this smoothie. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Green Smoothie?

I must be serious about losing weight and improving my diet overall (not to mention the stair-stepping I did this afternoon). I am about to embark on a journey.... A journey to eating drinking tofu. I have never to my knowledge eaten or drank tofu in my life. But I saw this recipe on pinterest and was intrigued.
I went to the store right after work and bought the ingredients before I could talk myself out of it. Because I know myself and if I buy the food I am likely to use it. I hate throwing away food/money.
I feel quite proud of myself for even having tofu in my house. Look at me, expanding my horizons.
Jeff on the other hand found where I had hidden the package of silken tofu and immediately said, "why is there tofu in the fridge?" My original plan was to make this smoothie and see if he liked it, then tell him it had tofu in it. I figure if I like this smoothie then I might go in search of an actual meal that has tofu in it.

Anywho, here is the recipe.

1 C fresh baby spinach, rinsed
1/2 of a whole avocado, peeled and sliced
1 package silken tofu
1 honeycrisp apple, rinsed, cored and sliced
8 oz orange juice
honey or agave nector

Blend all ingredients in a blender or smoothie maker until completely smooth (about 5 minutes). Makes about 4 servings at 8 oz each.

My notes:
I haven't made this yet, I think I might for breakfast tomorrow. A co-worker suggested adding wheat-grass to the mix. But I say let's try one new thing at a time. Tofu is pushing it for me. No really. It is. I try new things but tofu is just one of those things. It could have something to do with the word... tofu. It just sounds silly.
If anyone tries this before me, please let me know how it works out.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chili-Mac - Allrecipes.com

I love chili-mac. What's sad is I haven't eaten it in years. Truthfully I forgot all about this tasty, easy dish. I changed this recipe a bit, see my notes at the bottom. The 8 yr old ate this and declared it delicious. This was followed by a second helping....Victory!

Grammas Old Fashioned Chili Mac
Feeds 8 or 6 if Jeff is eating with you

1 C elbow macaroni
1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 C celery, chopped
1/2 large green bell pepper
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
2 (10.75 oz) cans condensed tomato soup
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1/8 C brown sugar
chili powder and cayenne to taste
salt and pepper

Bring pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.
In a small saucepan, simmer celery and green pepper with water until tender, drain. Place ground beef in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook until evenly brown. Add onion, and cook until tender and translucent. Drain excess fat. Add celery and green pepper. Stir in kidney beans, tomato soup, diced tomatoes, and brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper, stir in macaroni.

My notes:
I followed a couple of the commenters suggestions and sauted veggies in my 12 in cast iron skillet and made it a one pan dish. I love one pan dishes. It saves me time and less dish washing which is always a plus in my book. For the life of my I don't know why you would want to cook the celery and bell pepper in water. You're just cooking away the flavor! I sauted onion, bell pepper, and celery all together in the skillet, then added the beef and browned. Then stirred in the kidney beans, soup, diced tomatoes, and sugar. I let that simmer for a few minutes then added the macaroni. I like to have a little cheddar cheese on top with mine.
I think next time I will probably add some finely diced carrots to the mix as well just to get a little more veggies in the mix.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Baked Pasta

I created this out of sheer necessity this evening. I needed dinner and I needed it quick. So I scoured the pantry and fridge to see what I could find. I found ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, diced chicken, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and 2 boxes of pasta 1/2 empty.

1 can italian style diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 can mushrooms stems and caps
1/2 tub of ricotta
3 cloves garlic mooshed, diced or w/e
1 C parmesan
1 C mozarella
3 C pasta

Preheat oven to 350. Boil the pasta according to directions on the box. Put the diced tomatoes in the blender and puree until smooth. I chopped up the mushrooms a little more just for ease of eating for the kid. Put chicken, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, ricotta, cooked pasta, 1/2 the parm and mozzarella in a bowl, salt, pepper, and stir to combine. Spray a 9X13 casserole with cooking spray and pour pasta mixture into the casserole. Top with remaining cheese and bake until bubbly and melted cheese.

My notes:
You can use any tubular pasta you have: penne, macaroni, etc. I think that using Italian sausage in place of chicken would be good. Jeff said this didn't taste as Italian-y as he thought it would but that is was pretty tasty and smelled really good out of the oven. We liked this it was quick, easy, and best of all kid approved.