Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Also, apparently I picked this idea up from a blog I was just skimming and don't follow, because I can't for the life of me find it now, but I would gladly give credit where credit is due if I could.
(I know, I'm such a slacker!)
If you've gotten to know me, even the littlest bit through this blog, you know that my husband drives me crazy - at least as far as cooking for him goes. (ok, maybe sometimes for other reasons, too, but that's a whole other post!) He is a meat and potatoes kind of guy and believe me, I get tired of making the same old side dishes night after night, whether I eat them or not.
I ran across this idea yesterday on another blog and decided to give it a try. I mean hey, its potatoes, and cheese. How could the hubs not like it, right? Right. So here we go. I altered the recipe slightly, as it called for russets, and I had some nice reds. It also added some other seasonings in the oil, but I went for simple. With the hubs, when trying something new, that's the best way to go.
Oven Fried Potato Slices
5-6 red potatoes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Paula Deen's House Seasoning (except I am cheap and I make it myself. If you know Paula, its just a glorified way of saying "salt, black pepper, and garlic powder all mixed up")
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
Slice the potatoes up, about 1/4 inch thick, leaving the peels on. Toss them with the oil in a Ziploc bag to get them all evenly coated. (Yes, you could just drizzle the oil on and rub it around if you are feeling green and want to save the plastic, but the recipe I saw suggested this method, to ensure all surfaces were evenly coated, as well as leaving the excess oil in the bag instead of letting the potatoes sit in a pool of oil on the pan, and it worked quite nicely for me) Layer the slices on a baking sheet, overlapping just slightly so that air can get around them, and sprinkle with House Seasoning.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until they are nicely done, and starting to crisp up. If you like your potatoes crispy, leave them in longer. My husband likes his more on the mushy side.
When the potatoes get to the "done" stage (according to your preference), pull them out and sprinkle lightly with cheese. Then pop the pan back in the oven and turn the heat off. Let the cheese melt and serve!
It was a hit with the hubs last night, and I served it along side some barbecued pork steaks. Speaking of which, don't be surprised if you start seeing a lot of pork chop and pork steak recipes. We just got a half a beef from the locker, and I still have a ton of pork leftover that I need to use up!
Friday, March 20, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
We all know how life can get away from you, and sure enough, his Grandma passed away just a month before we were married. I never did get the chance to ask her about any of her recipes, which I honestly figured she had never written down anyway, as most old farm wives cooked that way.
I tried to make the Fried Green Beans on several occasions based on the hubs’ memory, and he enjoyed them thoroughly, even though there was definitely something missing.
Last summer, I was looking for another recipe, and remembered that Matt’s sister inherited Grandma’s recipe box. A large plastic contraption jam packed with newspaper clippings and scrawling notes on scraps of paper and envelopes. We sat down at the kitchen table and scoured the collection for a certain “Custard Pie” recipe. Hidden among the pages was a newspaper scrap, yellow with age (the reverse says it is from “The Workbasket”, August, 1986), holding this heading, “Chicken Fried Green Beans”. Hallelujah! This scrap of paper now resides in MY recipe box, and when the hubs has been especially decent, I dust it off for a special treat.
Now, this is far from the battered version of Fried Green Beans that you will find at restaurants like TGI Friday’s, but even I have to admit, there is something kinda tasty about them. The recipe just calls for a can of green beans, but Grandma always made them with French Cut Green Beans, so that’s what I do, too. Also, I would bread these immediately before frying. If you let them sit too long after dredging them in the flour mixture, the moisture in the beans is absorbed into the coating and they start to clump together. These are best if they stay separated. Add a little extra flour, if necessary.
Last night I served this on the side of Chicken Fried Steak. I figured I might as well stay with the theme.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Saturday, We had the party at our house for the family that could be there, complete with dinner, and cake and ice cream.
That’s all for now…gotta get back to my regularly scheduled week! Here are a few more pictures to get you smiling!(Blowing out the candles...and yes, that is a piece of garlic bread in his hand)(Licking the "dubloons" from his Pirate cake)
This Saturday was Little Man’s fourth birthday and we had the party at our house. Since the apple never falls far from the tree, he is a little picky eater, himself. SO, what is always a winner with picky eaters? Pasta. Dripping with sauce and cheese, of course, and garlic bread. Naturally, since we had people over, Little Man had to make me look like “mother of the year” by refusing to eat anything but garlic bread and the frosting from his cake, but what the hell. I’m use to it!
Something else that is always difficult for me is determining how much food to make for the occasion. I mean, I need enough for everyone, plus second helpings if they like it, plus a plate to take to Grandpa later, plus leftovers for the hubs to take to work for lunch on Monday. In this case, I made 2 9x13 pans of pasta and two full loaves of garlic bread. Everyone loved the pasta, except for my husband, who complained that the sauce tasted “different”, meaning it wasn’t exactly the same as the one time in his life where he actually liked pasta sauce, and complained that the cream I put in it made it “tangy”. WTF? Can you say “looking for excuses to complain?” Yeah, I knew you could.
So, needless to say, he won’t be eating any of the leftovers. In the end, I still have a full pan leftover, although I haven’t made a plate for Grandpa yet. I’ll do that later today. Suffice it to say, my co-workers won’t need to buy lunch today. For this post, I’m going to give you half the recipe, enough for one pan of pasta.
1 bag of meat filled tortellini
1 bag of cheese filled tortellini
1 LARGE jar of your favorite pasta sauce (in this case, Ragu Parmesan Romano, because its what the family will eat), not sure how many ounces that is, but it’s the big plastic jar with the indents to make it easier to hold onto. Not the giant, Duggar-family size jar, but bigger than the regular one. Runs about $3.67 at Walmart)
½ cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Boil water in a large stock pot and cook the tortellini just until they float to the surface. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, warm the pasta sauce gently, and stir in the cream, making a nice “pink” sauce. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and add it into the sauce. Pour the mixture into a 9x13 pan. Top with the shredded mozzarella. Cover the pan with foil and bake 20 minutes or until nice and bubbly. (Or, in this case, until the family arrives.)
I served this with a huge pile of garlic bread and a nice tossed salad, but try explaining why you’re taking pictures of your food to a family that doesn’t understand blogging….so, I snapped a couple of quick shots of the pasta and that’s about it. Enjoy!
Friday, March 13, 2009
I can't stand it. Where did my baby boy go? Heck, where did my TODDLER go? HE is officially "all boy", and quite the grown up little kid. The only thing saving my sanity is that he still loves to snuggle me, and give me those sweet little-boy kisses that every mommy craves. It won't be long now until he belongs to his daddy. There will be fishing trips, hunting, dogs, and just general "daddy time". I'll be chopped liver. I used to think that would be a good thing, because I'd have more time for my hobbies and housecleaning. Now, I want a re-count. He's growing up too fast...I want my baby back.
And yet, I am so excited by everything he is learning! Every day it is something new, and he is growing smarter and smarter all the time. He is truly finding himself and developing his own personality. I am finally seeing more in him than just the cloned-genes of his daddy. (We're pretty sure the doctor just put me under and implanted a mini-Matt clone.) Every once in a while, I see a glimpse of me. The stubbornness, the determination, the sensitivity, and, oh yes, even the vengeance gene (as seen at preschool when he pulled the chair out from under an unsuspecting classmate in retaliation for a wrong done upon him earlier that day). He is my boy, too, and I'm not giving him up just yet.
This afternoon we're having a birthday party at school for him. As usual, I went a bit overboard with the activities, but after all, it IS his first "School birthday party".
Tomorrow we will have the immediate family (the local ones at least - we'll miss you this year Grandma and Grandpa G, Auntie Anne and Uncle Roger!) over to the house for baked tortellini and cake and ice cream. And, of course...the presents. He is really looking forward to the presents.
So, until next week, send birthday wishes his way - I'll post pictures soon!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
This weekend, I had the pleasure of having my MEF come visit me! Syl and I have been friends since we were about 12, and even though we rarely get to see each other, we are still as close as ever.
We didn’t do much of anything exciting this weekend, in fact, we spent a good chunk of Saturday just hanging out in front of the TV, watching the entire Season One box set of Burn Notice. We did cook a little bit, making some lovely asparagus and red pepper scrambled eggs for breakfast Saturday, Creamy Fire Roasted Tomato Orzo for dinner Saturday night, and a Fluffy Pancake with pineapple sauce for breakfast Saturday. Did I get pictures of any of this? Nope.
What I did get pictures of was our lunch on Saturday. I took Syl down to Alton, Illinois for a quick shopping trip and lunch at Fast Eddie’s BonAir. Fast Eddie's is reputed to sell more beer than any other venue in the country, and, particularly since they added their new outdoor smoking area (which, frankly, felt more like a beach party in the sunny 70 degree weather we were blessed with this weekend), I wouldn’t doubt it.
The other thing Fast Eddie’s is known for is their food. It’s a small menu, only about eight items, but they are all fantastic, and very, very cheap. There is no carry out available, you’ve got to eat it there, which is kind of the point, so you’ll stay and drink more beer. They have 99 cent cheeseburgers, $1.29 pork kebabs, fries, brats, steak on a stick, hot chick on a stick (chicken drummies seasoned, skewered, and grilled), and, my personal favorite – SHRIMP. They have jumbo peel and eat shrimp for 29 cents each. You wait your turn in the eternally long line and when you get in front of the huge vat of ice and shrimp, you just shoot them a number.
There you go. For less than ten dollars, you have a plate full of beautiful shrimp and cocktail sauce. For me and Syl, it started with 30, and then we had to get back in line and get 30 more. We probably would have been fine with 20 more, since we struggled to get the last few down, but it was so worth it. Wash it all down with a cold beer and it makes for one wonderful afternoon.
We did do a little bit of beading as well, finishing off a four strand necklace I’d been working on, and making a beaded lanyard for her work ID badge.
All in all, it was just a nice, refreshing “girl weekend”, getting caught up and playing. I intended to scan some of our old pictures that we spent Friday night laughing at so I could do an “US: Then and Now” post, but that never happened, so I guess you’ll just have to settle for “Now”.
Love ya, Syl!
So, here we go.
- Get a nice Sirloin roast, with as little fat as possible
- Throw it in a crock pot
- Sprinkle with one package of Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix, and 1 TB of Italian seasoning
- Pour one or bottle of beer in the pot (I like a nice dark beer, maybe Schlafly's Octoberfest, or even an Oatmeal Stout, but there is never a shortage of Bud Light with my husband around, so that's what usually gets used.)
**some people I know like to throw a jar of pepperoncinis in the mix, too.
This is a meal I like when I either find beautiful roasts on sale for a good price, or I just need a really easy dinner idea.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Recently, I had occasion to put a project together for a co-worker that was meant for his wife’s Christmas present. He ordered all the materials, and I brought in my framing kit, and I nearly impaled myself trying to force the glazier’s points into the frame to finish it. I HATE glazier’s points. Always have. They are the folly of the devil, they are. For years I have been wanting to buy a handheld point driver, but could never justify the expense, as I do these projects so infrequently. But this time, I had had enough. As it turned out, the company that cut the mat for him, cut it wrong. We put the project together anyway, so he could give it to his wife, but then he talked to the company and they promised to re-cut it and send him a new one. In the interim, I did my homework. I picked a point driver (not my ideal choice, but come on, do I have an excuse to buy a $130 point driver? No.) and compared prices. Lo and behold! Not only did Hobby Lobby carry the model I wanted, but that week it was on sale for 30% off. I drive my happy ass up to Springfield and bought one. Now, this is definitely not the model I was spoiled enough to be able to use at the frame shops where I worked, but it’s a darn good option for the home framer. I finally got to try it out today when he brought in the replacement mat. I gleefully plucked out the glazier’s points (that were barely holding in place anyway) and assumed the position. (You know, the position where you are poised over an object, gun in hand, ready to pounce?) Carefully, I adjusted the position of the gun against the inside of the frame, and squeezed. Ahhhhhhh the soft “pop!” of a rigid point easily penetrating solid wood. Wonderful, just wonderful.
So, ladies and gents, should you ever have the need for a point driver, I can recommend this one. The Logan Dual-Drive Point Driver.
1.5 pounds ground beef
1 large carrot, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste)
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
1 12 ounce can V8 (or Bloody Mary mix if you have that handy, which I did last night)
1 can kidney beans (I usually don't drain the beans, but last night I did and the soup was much thinner. Not a bad thing, just different)
1 can cannellini or great northern beans with liquid
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme (or just use an italian seasoning blend for all 3)
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ pound pasta (tubettini, ditalini, small shells or any other small pasta will do)
10 –12 cups beef stock
Cook beef in a LARGE stock pot until just cooked. Drain well and add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, sauce, V8, both cans of beans, herbs, and 2 cups of the beef stock. Allow to simmer one hour, covered. After 50 minutes, cook the pasta separately (1/2 pound equal ½ box), drain well and add to the stock pot. One cup at a time, add the remaining beef stock until soup reaches desired consistency. Taste for flavor and add any additional herbs needed. Simmer 10 more minutes.
Makes approximately 9 quarts. NOTE: You are going to need a BIG pot for this recipe!
Our lives have always run parallel to each other. even when she was stationed in Japan. Her teenager is my godson, and I take that responsibility more seriously than I can even verbalize. Syl is my confidant, my shoulder to cry on and a brick wall to throw things at when I am at my wit's end. She's the part of me that I wasn't born with. (Awwww I know, she's reading this right now and sticking her lower lip out with her brow all furrowed. Its so cute.) Even though we have spent large chunks of our lives apart, when we get back together, we pick right back up where we left off. We've married, divorced, married again, had children, jobs, tragedies, struggles, and unsurpassed joys, together and apart, and one thing never changes - she is my best friend.
And she's coming to see me Friday! (did I mention that already?) As she told me on the phone yesterday, and I couldn't agree more, "I'm so geeked out about coming to see you!"
Me, too, honey, and I can't wait til you get here!!!
Monday, March 2, 2009
This visit was different.
A few years ago, my mom, sister and I took a cooking class at the Viking Culinary Center while they were visiting over Christmas. It was a blast. I couldn’t wait to do it again! And, as a bonus, my sister asked if she could sign me up for a class as my birthday present that year. Well, that was THREE, count ‘em, THREE years ago. Until now, I’ve never been able to arrange it. So, when my sister asked me last month if there was anything she could get me for my birthday that I didn’t receive, I knew just what to tell her:
STEER ME TO THE BEST STEAK, sister!
She signed me up, I got Ginny enrolled as well, and we were on our way.
If you are a foodie, you hear about Japanese Kobe beef all the time. But, have you ever SEEN it? Let alone, TASTED it? Well, this “class” (which was actually a demo, but I’m not nit-picking) was a steak and wine pairing experience to match no other. Lou Rook, executive chef for Annie Gunn’s in St Louis, and his wine director, Glenn Bargett, put on a nearly four hour demo, educating their audience about high-end cuts of beef and the wonderful wines (and side dishes) that complement them. Ginny and I may be foodies, but it is hard to steer us away from a nice bottle of wine, too, let alone SIX.
Here are the wonders that we beheld:
Piedmontese Beef Tenderloin (Montana)
USDA Prime Dry Aged Strip Loin
USDA Prime Wet Aged Strip Loin
Akaushi Strip Loin, Natural Breed Kobe (Texas)
Japanese Kobe “Tajima A5 Grade” Strip Loin (Kobe, Japan)
Mionetto il Prosecco del Veneto, Italy
Bouvet Brut Rose, Loire Valley, France
Riesling (Dry) Pannotia 2007 Rheinhessen, Germany
Dolcetto d’Alba, Sori Paitin “Estate Bottled” 2007 Piemonte, Italy
Merlot, Trefethen “Estate Grown” 2005 Oak Knoll, Napa Valley, California
Chambourcin, Augusta “Estate Bottled” 2004 Augusta, Missouri
We started with an education on the different kinds of beef, how they are produced, where they come from, and their attributes, including a side-by-side display, so we could actually see the differences in the raw meat.
Now, about the Kobe. I don’t even have words for it. "Amazing" falls pathetically short of describing the taste and texture of the meat. I found a little piece of heaven right there in that kitchen. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a good chance I’ll never have it again, based on the prices that the chef quoted to us (unless someone else wants to pick up the tab thankyouverymuch!), but believe me, I would if I got the chance!
Please pardon the crudeness of some of my photos…..we were a little consumed by the experience and couldn’t wait to try what was placed in front of us, so please, pardon the bite marks….and the drool…..and, yes, the rareness of the steak, if that offends you. Which reminds me, to all you pansies who requested a “more well done cut” or left unfinished wine on the table….what is your problem??? Live in the moment, people! You did not come to this class to stay in your safe little comfort zone! Try something new! Trust the judgment of an expert and give it a chance! And, at the same time…..more for me! I got to have a bite or two of what you left on the serving plate. HA! And I’d do it again. And I WILL do it again! Soon, I hope. This will not be our last visit to the Kitchen Conservatory, and the next one won’t be soon enough. Did I mention the wonderful store they have as well? Ahhhhh heaven for a foodie like me.
Finally, thank you to Chef Lou Rook, Glenn Bargett, and the staff at the Kitchen Conservatory. It was phenomenal. I only wish we could have joined Lou and Glenn on their restaurant-hopping foray after the class. I am now officially “spoiled rotten”. I fear that ordinary steak will just never be enough again. Thank you, Sister, it was the best gift I've had in a very long time.
Creamy Leek Risotto
2 TB Butter
4 small leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups Arborio rice
¾ cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper
½ cup Parmesan cheese
In a saucepan, warm the stock gently. You don’t want the stock to be cold when you add it into the rice. Melt butter in a large sauce pan, add the leeks and cook about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water or stock and simmer about 20 minutes, until the leeks are tender. Stir the uncooked rice into the leeks and cook, stirring in 1 ladle full of stock at a time. After each addition of stock, stir the rice, allowing it to absorb the liquid before adding more. When all of the stock has been absorbed, stir in the cream, parmesan, and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
NOW! When I make this as a side dish for a meal, I plan on having leftovers the next day. Why? Well, for starters, because it is heavenly. But also because it makes for one hellaciously tasty breakfast treat. Here’s what you do:
You’re going to need at least a couple of cups of leftover risotto for this. Brown one pound of your favorite breakfast sausage and drain all the grease off. Mix the sausage into the leftover risotto until it is well combined. Form the mixture into patties. Mix together 1 cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and gently coat the patties in it. Heat butter in a large skillet and gently fry the patties until golden on both sides. Serve hot with (or without) whatever else you want for breakfast!
He looks forward to this dish now when I make it, which isn’t often considering that I am not usually good at prep, and taking the time to poach my chicken ahead of time so I don’t have to do it on a busy weeknight. When I made it this weekend, I halved the recipe and baked it in an 8x8 pan instead, since I knew it was definitely NOT on my diet and I wouldn’t be eating any of it. I also didn't get a picture of the finished product looking all gorgeously melty when it came out of the oven, because, well, we weren't home. As stated in an earlier post, we made a run to the ER last night and left the boy-child and supper at home with Ginny while we were gone.
Chicken Enchilada Bake
Poach 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and shred the meat. Set aside. In a saucepan, saute one onion, diced and 1 tablespoon minced garlic in 2 tablespoons butter.
Once the onions are soft, add:
4 TB flour
16 ounces sour cream
1 teaspoon coriander
2 cups chicken stock
Mix well to form a sauce. Bring to a gentle boil to give the flour a chance to thicken the liquid.
Reserve 2 cups of the sauce for later, and add the remaining sauce to the shredded chicken.
Lay out a flour tortilla, sprinkle with Monterrey Jack cheese, and top with chicken mixture. Roll the tortilla tightly, and put it in a 9x13 pan. Repeat this with 7 more tortillas, or until you run out of ingredients (or space in your pan!). Pour the reserved sauce over the tortillas, and top with 2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese.Sprinkle the top with a little paprika (for color), if you like. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. If you like your cheese to brown up on top, take the foil off and bake 5-10 minutes more.
See, there is a bead store in my area that will take your dried flowers (from a funeral, or a wedding, etc.) and turn them into beads that you can turn into wearable memories (aka, jewelry). They also provide the jewelry making service (for a fee), but yeah, like I’m not going to make my own? I have had this done with funeral flowers for both myself and my SIL, so I knew how it worked. When Ginny was here on her last visit, we took her flowers in and ordered what we needed. In the meantime, we ordered the other supplies we would need to go with them and planned to put everything together on the next visit, which was this weekend.
We managed to get everything finished, with a few changes to the original plan/design, except for her own necklace, as we ran short on flower beads. So we will be ordering a few more so that I can finish her necklace and send it to her.
Here are the finished products, which she will be gifting to several family members and friends.
I also managed to get several of my own “in progress” projects completed, including a few necklaces I had been asked to fix for a friend.
Probably my all time favorite seafood item is Sea Scallops. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t catch me turning down Lobster, Crab Legs, or even Shrimp, but there is just something about a nicely seared Sea Scallop that really works for me. Whenever I have the opportunity, I try and have some. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I found some at my local grocer. Not the largest I’d ever seen, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers, right? With Ginny here this weekend to appreciate them with me, we made one of my favorite scallop dishes, Tabasco Teriyaki Sea Scallops. Unfortunately, they sat in the fridge longer than I would have liked and we ended up cooking and eating them at 9:00pm last night because of an unexpected run to the ER to get some stitches in the hubs’ hand. (He’s fine, just cut his hand pretty bad on a piece of tin and I didn’t think leaving it to close on its own would be a wise idea. As it turned out, the doctor agreed with me even though the hubs is still not convinced.)
SO, without further ado…..SCALLOPS!
Tabasco Teriyaki Seared Sea Scallops
8-10 Large Sea Scallops
Bottled Teriyaki Sauce
Mixed bell peppers, chopped or sliced
Sugar snap peas
Defrost the scallops, if necessary and dry thoroughly with a paper towel. The scallops will not sear well if they are wet. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper.
Gently place each scallop in a HOT pan and let it sear. Resist the urge to turn it. If it hasn’t seared yet, bits of it will just stick to the pan and you can tear them apart. Gently nudge them and when they move easily, you can flip them and repeat on the other side. This won’t take long if you have nice scallops. Mine had been frozen a little too long, so they weren’t very cooperative. Once they are seared, remove them from the pan. Scallops aren’t meant to be “well done”, so if you remove them after they are seared, they should be wonderfully tender inside.
Meanwhile, in the same pan, add the vegetables, several dashes of Tabasco (to taste) and a large splash of your favorite bottled teriyaki sauce. Sauté the vegetables until the y are crisp/tender, then add the scallops back into the pan to coat with the sauce.
Normally, I would serve this over some nice noodles, but since we’re dieting, I opted for no carbs. Beautiful, no?