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Preview: Shazam in the Kitchen

Shazam in (and out of) the Kitchen

A blog about my love of really delicious food, surviving cancer, being a single mom, travel, reading, sewing, obscure references, and interesting tidbits.

Updated: 2018-03-18T16:22:52.985-04:00


Recipes that aren't really recipes: Chocolate Frosting and Crazy Easy Mac n Cheese


Sometimes, the life of me as a single mom gets a little weird about food. Most of the time it means throwing a frozen casserole in the oven, or dropping something in the crockpot. Other times it means I have really random food to eat. Quesadillas are something I frequently eat for dinner when it's just me. Or a scrambled egg. Or a rice cake with peanut butter. Or a bowl of Cheerios. Whatever is quick and super easy. And cheap would be good too. I'm still trying to get a grip on having a strict budget, and paying down debt from the 2 years of Hell is taking FOREVER.Cutest nurse EVER!!This doesn't look goodI think she's sorry.Last weekend I managed to break my fourth toe on my left foot in a particularly exceptional fashion. Let's just say that the toe was a casualty in the fight to save a dishrag (one of the really nice knitted ones that my mom makes for Christmas presents) from my dog. So I'll be wobbling around in a boot for a couple weeks. A boot? Who gets a boot for a broken toe? Me. Because I am an overachiever and that toe is really spectacularly broken. I even have a follow up visit for more X-Rays in 2 weeks. Who does that for a broken toe? Orthopedic specialists who are concerned about said toe healing. I am really clumsy. So my new habit of getting in some cardio at the fitness center has gone way way south. And if I wasn't so pissed off at myself for breaking my toe like this, I could do one of the one footed workout videos on YouTube. Maybe next week...I have had lots of time, then, to play on Pinterest. And socialize with my coworker friends. And that's when I discovered two recipes that aren't really recipes. I tried the first recipe that isn't a recipe on Friday. My 100 year old grandma got the flu and ended up in the hospital. Scary stuff, but so far she's doing ok. My coworker friend had told me about making frosting for brownies with just a bag of chocolate chips and a can of sweetened condensed milk. Both of which can be found at Aldi's as well as a delicious gluten free brownie mix. Just so you know, if you are feeling emotional and you want brownies, the time that it takes to make a batch and to make the frosting and to wait for it to set helps to calm the urge to eat the whole pan. I only ate one piece!Super Fudgey Frosting 1 can sweetened condensed milk1 bag chocolate chipsCombine the ingredients in a a saucepan and heat while stirring until chocolate chips are melted and frosting is smooth. Yep. That's all there is too it. There must be some sort of chemical whatsimibob that goes on because I was expecting a thin glaze like a ganache and it's this really thick, really rich, crazy good frosting. And the upside is that it's so thick and so rich that I have come nowhere close to eating the whole pan. Ok. So far I'm at a little less than half the pan...With the success of the super fudgy frosting, I decided to try a Pinterest recipe not recipe. This time it is for a crazy easy Mac and Cheese. It's just a picture. I spent a good chunk of time looking for a place to link to and I can't find one. This was actually almost a science experiment because it's so easy I didn't actually think it would work and I wasn't sure if it would taste good.  I used regular pasta instead of gluten free. That will be a later experiment. Crazy Easy Mac n Cheese2 cups milk (I used 2% because it's what was in the fridge)2 cups pasta (I used penne because the 1lb box is cheaper than the 2lb box of elbows at Aldi)2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (it was in the fridge)Boil the milk and the pasta together. Until the pasta is cooked. The milk does not scald if you stir frequently, and the starch from the pasta thickens the milk a lot. Once the pasta is cooked, remove from heat and stir in the cheese. And it's done. See how thick the milk gets?It was so easy that I got a little fancy and put it in a greased small pyrex dish and crumbled some bacon on top. I put it in the oven at 325°F for 15 minutes. Super Yummy! I'm so excited to eat the rest!!It turns out that quick easy and cheap [...]

Hygge? Gemütlichkeit? Fondue!


SO. It's March, that means random snow storms. Pretty little snow storms. But still snow when I'm ready for my spring flowers. On Monday, I decided to do something different with my weekend. The darling princess was with her dad and rather than spend the weekend doing something boring like trying to advance in Candy Crush, I decided to have a cocktail party. This was perhaps not the best plan because when you invite people on Monday to come over Saturday, generally people have stuff going on. And I haven't entertained in long enough that people have clearly forgotten how much fun my gatherings are! Well sort of. Most of my friends had really legitimate excuses why they couldn't come. As the week wore on, I started to think about the upcoming gathering and the concept of Hygge (as explained in this fun little book that I picked up). The book explained that I should have candles. Not a problem, I have tons of random candles. The book also explained that it would be more Hygge to have a sort of group potluck where the cooking is all done at the same time at someone's house than to have pitchers of cocktails and teeny tiny little hors d'oeuvres. So I called up my friends who were coming and told them I had changed my mind and we would be having fondue! It seemed more Hygge even though it's Swiss and not Danish. And I should probably call it Gemütlichkeit because my heritage is German and not Danish. They sort of mean the same thing although it's more of a cultural thing in Denmark, I guess.It also should be noted, that I had received an electric fondue pot as a wedding present and I had never taken it out of the box! I also had my mother's fondue pot and a teeny little crockpot called the little dipper. And it made sense to me that if I had 3 possible fondue devices, that I should make three separate fondues. And I did!! I made an unbelievably delicious Toblerone fondue (found here) that my friends and I discovered that pretty much anything dipped into it came out delicious! Grapes, apples, bread, strawberries, Rice Krispy treats, donut holes, pineapples, gluten-free snickerdoodles, giant marshmallows and teeny little skewers of blueberries, just to name some of what got dipped. Unfortunately my first try at making cheese fondue was a total fail. It was definitely stringy and globby. I'm not sure that's a real word, but it's an accurate description of my cheese fondue. Although, it was pretty good reheated on some potatoes for breakfast the next day!breakfast!And finally I made a marscapone and Calvados fondue from The Everything Fondue Party Cookbook. Calvados is kind of hard to find and it's a brandy made from apples. I had bought it for some other recipe and had to go all the way to Columbus to get it. The fondue was good. It sort of tasted like eggnog. The good boozy kind.  It was tremendous when we dipped apples in it. But it just wasn't mind blowing enough to compete with the Toblerone fondue.We enjoyed a delicious chilled Pinot Grigio and a sweet Moscato with our fondues as well as great conversations and hearty laughs.What I learned: I learned that making a cheese fondue takes a lot of patience and I think some practice. I also learned that I will be making the Toblerone fondue again. I learned that 3 different fondues for 6 people is a ridiculous amount of food. I learned that Walmart sells little Sterno 3-packs under where the tinfoil pans are. And I learned that I think I will either need to go to Goodwill or some garage sales and try to find traditional fondue pots. The electric one and the little dipper worked really good when I could have them plugged in, but the cords are really short and that didn't work so well for me. I might have to go buy a multi plug extension cord.[...]

Sweet Potato Chorizo Breakfast Casserole


See? Not at all like a strata!I am a plain old Cheerios and milk in the morning sort of breakfast eater. It is my go to quick fix. Unfortunately, Cheerios and milk is not really a lot of protein and generally if I eat right when I get up at 4:30 then I'm hungry again before I get to my desk at school. And I'm ready to chew my arm off by the time I get to lunch. So I've been trying to get some more protein in my breakfast. I made some yogurt to eat with granola. But it actually got moldy before I had the chance to eat it all.Then I decided to make a crustless quiche recipe as I've had success with eating those in the past. But I only ate half of it in a week. I was eating my Cheerios instead. As I'm trying to eat better food for me in this whole new era of recovery, I was getting frustrated. I mentioned this to my super cool science teacher friend while we were eating lunch with her three daughters after church. She told me that she had this really great breakfast casserole recipe. It had tater tots and eggs and cheese and she uses some ground sausage and vegetables. I thanked her and decided to give it a try. Except that I totally changed it. That whole top is melted cheesy goodness!This is an amazing casserole! I had it for both lunch and dinner yesterday. And I sent pictures and texts to Super G to tell her how amazing it is. And she now wants the recipe. I can't say that I blame her. I was a little worried it would taste like a strata. I hate strata. But it didn't! It tastes sweet and savory and cheesy and delicious!I almost sprang out of bed this morning with excitement that I get to eat the breakfast casserole for breakfast! And then I remembered that it's President's Day and I didn't have to spring out of bed. Sweet Potato Chorizo Breakfast CasseroleChanged so much from the original it might as well be an original Shazamer recipeServes 81 bag sweet potato tater tots1/4 cup salted butter (1/2 stick)1 lb chorizo1 green bell pepper (chopped small)1/2 white onion (chopped small)5 eggs1/2 cup milk2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheeseArrange the sweet potato tater tots so that they all fit in the bottom of an 11 x 7" glass baking dish. Melt the butter in the microwave and pour evenly over the tater tots. Then cook the tots as otherwise directed on the package. Mine needed to be cooked at 425℉ for almost a half hour. While the tots are cooking, brown the chorizo in a skillet with the finely chopped onion and green pepper.until cooked through. Also in a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk.When the tater tots are done cooking turn the oven down to 350℉ and remove from the oven. Pour the chorizo mixture onto the tots and using a spoon, spread the meat and vegetables evenly over the tots. Then pour the egg mixture over the meat and potatoes. Finally sprinkle the cheese on top. Put the casserole in the oven and cook for 30 minutes more. [...]

Time keeps on slipping slipping slipping, into the future...


Hello. My Darling Love and I as Lady and the TrampI know. I've been gone awhile. See, it's kind of been a hell couple of years for me. Or two and a half years anyway. But let's start with the loveliness of the past several years. My darling princess. The true love of my life grows more beautiful and more interesting and more hilarious every day. I am forever the luckiest woman on the planet that she is my daughter. I frequently thank God that I get to be her mommy. She rolls her eyes when she hears me say that prayer. I simply cannot express the joy she brings to me. She's an amazing kid and the older she gets the more I enjoy her. We have started an adventure that we are going to travel to every state in the country together. Since deciding this we had an amazing summer vacation through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. I think that might be a separate post though. Diggerland New Jersey!This summer we will head to Washington and Oregon. She wanted to go to Alaska or Hawaii and I told her we had to do those last...About two and a half years ago, my husband decided he didn't want to be married anymore. I was kind of sideswiped hard by the semi truck of devastation. Although our marriage was hard work, I didn't realize exactly how badly it wasn't working. As my cousin, who is also now divorced, says, growing up we were told that marriage was work and how were we to know that it wasn't supposed to be THAT much work. With that said, I have no intention of speaking poorly about him. It's in the decree that I can't and there's really no point in it anyway. So in the summer of 2015 he was done. And after an eternity of fighting we were officially done in October of 2017. So remember my darling little love? I only get her 50% of the time. And although my mom would roll her eyes and tell me I'm melodramatic, It breaks my heart every. single. time. I have to give her to him. But in the interest of personal growth and being a whole person, we shall not mention him for the rest of this blog because he is no longer important. We are pleasant to each other because it is best for our daughter, but he is not an important piece of my life anymore. And really I am much happier now.So what else have I been doing? Well, there was the whole cancer episode. Getting some chemo!Which we shall refer to as when I was sick. I found the lump myself. And although WebMD said it could be cancer, it wasn't a surprise. WebMD says EVERYTHING could be cancer. and besides that I was dealing with a difficult home situation and it was December. I have a $2600 deductible and I hadn't touched it. There was NO WAY I was going to the doctor before the new year started and I forgot about it. I forgot about it? I FORGOT ABOUT IT! It seems like such a weird thing to do. To forget about a lump in my breast. Although it was really kind of over by my armpit. More on my side boob. And seriously who has breast cancer in their side boob at 44? And did you read the last paragraph? I had kind of big things going on at the time. SO, after he had moved out and I could breathe again because the tension dropped. I maybe was laying on the couch drinking a bottle of wine and watching Downton Abbey (Such a great show!) and feeling sorry for myself because it was the first weekend that my precious darling wasn't in my house. And there was this episode where Mrs. Hughes finds a lump and her and Mrs. Patmore go to get it checked out. In my wine drenched stupor, I remembered. With trepidation I felt around. Yep. It was still there. The next workday I made an appointment with my gynecologist and he assured me that he didn't think it was anything, but suggested we check it out to be sure. So there it was. Stage 2B breast cancer. Ugh. It was awful. Chemo, Baldness. Radiation. Exhaustion. Surgery. Surgically induced menopause. Hormones can kill me. Hot Flashes. The whole shebang. It's not quite like in the movies, but I only realized how terrible it was in retros[...]

Beef Stew with Collard Greens


So we'll just continue on with this really intense winter. As a friend of mine posted on Facebook, she had thought whew! January is done, but "Well played February, well played." We had our 11th snow cancellation today. Tomorrow we are on a 2 hour delay. The county I teach in is on a level 2 snow emergency though. That pretty much means that unless the roads get a lot better it's gonna be day 12 tomorrow. Big tender pieces of beef, tender carrots, and delicious collard greens!Fortunately, I now own a pair of snow boots. I ordered those at Christmas. And then I got some birthday money and ordered a pair of snow pants. And today the Princess and I frolicked in the snow after she woke from her nap and I finished snow blowing our enormous driveway. (Our driveway isn't enormous like long, it's enormous like a parking lot.) We had a BLAST!Here's the interesting thing about parenting. At the same time as I'm experiencing pure joy, I could also be experiencing some pure frustrations. Today, the Princess was as cute as could be. See? Isn't she darling peeking out from behind the tree? Who can resist her? She told me to stay where I was because she was peeking!And yet. She is full of bodily fluids and they all happen to come out on me. On snow days like today when I don't manage to get up before her and her nap time lasts only as long as the snow blowing, I don't get to shower and I get the vague feeling I smell like poo. Or throw up.This morning, after a difficult start, the Princess sat in her high chair in the kitchen coloring pictures for Grandma Peggy while I whipped together this stew for the crock pot. I should probably say I started with a tasty looking stew that I found on Pinterest by Betty Crocker. But it's been very snowy. And I did not have any beef bullion granules. (really who does?) And I wanted to serve it over rice because my mother-in-law says that rice helps to stop up a baby with a digestive system on overdrive. So I left out the potatoes. And my mom always put celery in her chili and putting celery in stew made me think of her so I doubled it. And then I got a little fancy with the deglazing the pan with red wine. (But that might have been because at that particular point in the morning I was wondering how stay at home mother's don't crack open the wine before lunch. The length of time I deglazed was about equal to checking the Princess for a fever, picking up the crayons that were thrown on the floor, wiping applesauce off the floor, the counter, and the Princess, and then giving in and parking the Princess in front of Daniel Tiger. But that doesn't sound all nice and recipe like. So until it is reduced by half.) And then I had some collard greens in the fridge and I thought that they wouldn't turn to gross mush when sitting in a crock pot forever and they might be a tasty addition. And yeah I don't have any quick cooking tapioca. I bought some about 5 years ago for a mushroom pork chop crock pot meal and I haven't cooked it in forever and I haven't used the tapioca since. So I threw it away. Last week. So I smooshed up some butter and flour to thicken the sauce instead. I will tell you that it turned out great. The Princess loved it. The Brain liked it. It might be the leftovers that won't last long. I just wish it photographed better.Beef Stew with Collard Greensan original Shazamer recipe1 Tbsp olive oil2 pounds beef stew meatsalt and pepper to taste1/2 cup red wine (a cheap, but drinkable variety)2 stalks celery cut into chunks1 medium onion, chopped2 tsp Worcestershire sauce2 1/2 cups V8 (or other non-name brand vegetable juice)2 big handfuls of chopped up collard greens1 Tbsp butter2 Tbsp flourPat the beef stew meat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a fry pan over medium high heat.  Working in 2 batches brown the meat on all sides. Put the meat in the slow cooker. Pour the half cup of red wine into the fry pan and scrape up the c[...]

How Many Eggs Yolks?


So after making that delicious birthday cake, I took the leftovers to work and my coworkers happily and speedily took care of it for me. I did have one small problem though. The cake takes 13 egg whites between the Japonais layers and buttercream. Which means that I had 13 egg yolks in the fridge. thirteen? THIRTEEN! What in the hell does a person do with 13 egg yolks? Well, 4 of them went into these cookies. Still working on the rest.Delicious Drop Butter CookiesWait? Who makes cookies after giving away all of the leftover delicious birthday cake? Well... the princess walked up to me and asked for a cookie as we were stuck in the house again (thank you polar vortex). And really, these cookies are a bit addictive. They came together quick and are flying out of the cookie jar. Which might be bad. Dammit. More Snow. Bitter cold to follow.See we've been walloped with alternating weather patterns. We start out with a big clipper system and several inches of snow. Then while we are out with the snow blower and clearing off the driveway we get blasted with the polar vortex. We close school because of the snow. Then the wind starts which causes blowing. (We delay for blowing snow.) Then, with the wind comes the wind chill. brrr. So far in January we've had days with wind chills around -35 (lost 2 days for that polar vertex), and then Friday wind chills went to -23 (and we closed again). We are now at 8 days closed for weather. We are only allowed to have 5 before we have to start making them up.I'm a little stir crazy. And it does not look like there's an end in sight. We're supposed to get another 2 inches tomorrow. Then some winds and blowing snow. Then Tuesday we'll have a nice high of -3. A HIGH of -3. Crap. My students are going to fail the OAAs. Those pesky standardized tests that determine whether I'm a good teacher. And I'll be teaching through June. And this weather is brutal on my arthritis. So very little working out for me. I'm thinking of going into the garage and finding the cane. Depressing.Cookies work well with the coffee!So yeah, these cookies. These cookies are super good. A teensy rich, but super good. I might need to make them again soon. Because the princess is running out of them. Mostly because Mommy and Daddy are eating them all. The princess has been far too busy playing with Playdo, finger painting, coloring, playing with tater head, and learning Spanish from watching Sesame Street and Dora.Painting a picture for Abuela Peggy!Drop Butter Cookiesan original Shazamer recipe2 1/4 cups flour1 tsp baking soda1 tsp salt1 cup unsalted butter3/4 cup sugar3/4 cup brown sugar2 tsp vanilla4 egg yolksPreheat oven to 375 FCombine the flour, soda, and salt in a small bowl and mix together. Set it aside.Cream the butter and the sugars until it is nice and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Then add the egg yolks one at a time, making sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next one. Drop by teaspoonfull (or small scoop) onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on a rack.[...]

Hazelnut Dacquois, Julia Child, and a Happyish Birthday


Yesterday was my birthday. I celebrated by spending the morning at the pediatrician's office for a well baby check. My darling princess has her fifth ear infection in her right ear in five months. I know it's completely irrational, but I feel like a bad mommy that I can't seem to protect her from these ear infections. And I am starting to think that we just aren't getting rid of the ear infection and that this has been one long ear infection. Which makes me feel worse. Fortunately, the princess had an all time happy day other than the pesky irritation of having to take a nap. And while she napped I made a big birthday dinner for myself. Thank God she's a long napper! (Once she finally goes down!)Amusing herself while waiting for the latest prescription!I decided to tackle one of my Julia Child cookbooks for my birthday dinner. I tried the recipe for casserole roasted pork. It was fairly easy and really delicious. I was also impressed that the whole thing, including the gravy was completely gluten free. My sister is gluten intolerant so I try to pay attention to that kind of thing despite the fact that she lives in Baltimore and can't come to dinner. I think of her frequently when I'm cooking though and it's nice to know that if she came to visit (and wasn't a pescaterian) that I made something she could eat. (HAHAHAHAA spell check says that I meant to write Presbyterian instead of pescaterian! She's not a Presbyterian she just a vegetarian that also eats fish!) Anyhow, back to the pork. The recipe just has  the vegetables and pan drippings and bouquet garni deglazed with some white wine and reduced. I don't usually like gravy, but it was super good!Julia's garlic mashed potatoes were a different story. They were extremely labor intensive. I had to boil about 30 cloves of garlic, and then peel them (ouch! hot on my fingers!) Then I had to slowly cook them in butter (without browning them? That was challenging.) Then I had to add flour (so... not gluten free here) and let the flour foam. Then I had to add boiling milk and cook. Then I had to puree. This was like pureeing wallpaper paste. My immersion blender wasn't doing it and I thought about putting it through the Vitamix, but then I questioned whether I'd be able to get the sauce out. I finally settled on pressing it through a sieve as Julia suggests. Then I had to rice the potatoes. And after it was all done, I was not impressed. The princess tried to throw hers on the floor. (This was not a critique of the food. Every meal has about a 70% chance of getting thrown to the dog.) Today the potatoes had a very garlic-y flavor to them and they are much better in very small doses. Perhaps the dinner itself was richer than I'm used to.Oh yumminess!And then we got to the birthday cake. I have this cookbook called Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri. I like this cookbook. I have made several cakes out of it and they have all been delicious. But I've only tried fairly easy cakes. I made the Irish Currant and Raisin Cake, the High Ratio Pound Cake (Lemon variation), the High Ratio Fresh Ginger Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze, and the Coconut Raspberry Layer Cake (easy because I already knew how to make a buttercream. I've made this one twice.) I frequently look at the pictures of the fancier cakes and mentally think about making them, but then I get intimidated and put the book away. Yesterday, though, I decided to be daring. Yeah, I miss the Daring Bakers and Lis. And I decided I would give one of the "scary" ones a try. I decided to try a meringue cake. Actually there's a picture of the Hazelnut Dacquois at the beginning of the meringue cakes chapter so I had a rough idea of what it was supposed to look like. My only troubles with the recipe were "user error" type personal problems. They were that I could not find whole hazelnuts at the local Walmart and with sick baby I'm not traveling to the next co[...]

Butter Turkey


In my previous life, I lived in Chicago. I lived about 2 miles north of Devon Avenue. Now that may not mean anything to you. It didn't mean a whole lot to me except that I lived fairly close to some really delicious Indian food and I saw stunningly beautiful Saris and Salwar Chemises in the store fronts. Then one day I was talking to my beautiful sister in law (who happens to be of Asian Indian ethnicity) and her parents and they got very excited that I lived close to Devon Avenue. Apparently Devon Avenue is known throughout the Indian Community as a shopping mecca. My two Salwar Chemises- given to me by my sister in law's motherI happen to love Indian food. A lot. Last year's New Year's Resolution (which carried into this year) was to cook 2 recipes from each cookbook that I own. This has been a really fun informative journey. So last year I cooked from books I had that I had never cooked from before. And I cooked from the time tested all purpose cookbooks.The cookbooks I have left fall into 4 separate categories: Cookbooks that held some appeal at one time and now I don't know what I wanted to cook out of them, cookbooks that I just didn't get to, but I'm sure I'll find something interesting in them (like the Cooking Light yearbooks), cookbooks that are just exotic enough so that I wonder when it would be appropriate to cook from (a whole cookbook on cheesecake? 3 separate fondue cookbooks?) and finally cookbooks that I have pretty much cooked the entire cookbook and now I have to find 2 more recipes from it. Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking by Raghavan Iyer falls into the last category. Seriously I love this cookbook. I can tell you my copy is well worn and has some nice splatters on it even though I try to keep my cookbooks un-splattered. The Egg Tomato Curry is an old standby for me. As is the Mutter Kheema. They are comfort food. I've also blogged the Sag Paneer. I've also really enjoyed about 10 other recipes in this book! Raghavan Iyer has also written the cookbook 660 Curries which is on my shelf and I have blogged about a recipe out of it here and here and here. I swear I'm not some crazy stalker of Mr Iyer. He just makes Indian food accessible and his recipes always turn out.When I used to dine on Devon Avenue, the Butter Chicken was my favorite. In all it's heady deliciousness. It's a little spicy and it has a hard to describe flavor. It is the flavor of Methi leaves, or as they are also known Fenugreek leaves. I can not find Methi leaves here in rural northern Ohio. I did find them in NYC while visiting Super G. I'm sure that I could find them in any major metropolis that has an Indian grocery store. I know they exist on Devon Avenue! I can't describe the smell except to say that it's a sweet smell. A good sweet smell, not a sickly sweet smell. I can also tell you that when I opened the package I thought to myself that I should have made this a long long long time ago (like when I first visited Super G and picked them up!) On the internet I read that they have a maple syrup aroma and flavor. I think that's hooey. But I don't think I could describe it any better.Cold outside? Second coming of the Polar Vortex? This curry will warm you up!Our little family doesn't eat a whole lot of chicken. We buy turkeys at the fair. So we have turkeys in the freezer. It seems pointless to buy chicken when we have turkeys. So I made Butter Turkey. I cut down on the cayenne a little and I used olive oil instead of ghee. The picture looks a little dry because I had an overtired toddler hanging on my leg while I was making it. And then said toddler had to go down for nappy before I could take the picture (and eat it). This is the second time I've made it and the Brain also seems to be a pretty big fan. I served it with Yogurt with Fresh Mint (Pudhina Raita). I didn't alter that at all, so you'll have to buy the book [...]

Breakfast Granola


I like clean food. I like food that doesn't have a whole lot of extra ingredients that I can't pronounce. That always makes me nervous. And, once upon a time, I read Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food, and I really liked it. There's a part in there about how our grandmothers wouldn't recognize what we call food today as food. He specifically brings up yogurt. And I discovered that even plain yogurt sometimes isn't just milk and bacteria. So I started making my own yogurt. My first attempt (I blogged about it here) was a total bust. I had icky milk with yogurt aftertaste in a jar. I then borrowed the Home Ec teacher's yogurt maker and had amazing success! Knowing I have to return it at some point, I asked for one for Christmas. And I got it! Hooray!! I under cooked my first batch. oops. Oh well. Today I'm making batch #2 and I have high hopes!The question becomes though: "What? Do you just eat plain yogurt?" Um no. Homemade yogurt is delicious and doesn't really need a sweetener, but it's, um, plain. So I searched Pinterest (God I love Pinterest!) and found some granola recipes. And I started making granolas. I made this one. And this one. And this one! And I started fiddling around with the recipes. Finally I came up with a recipe I like a TON. And I'm going to share it with you. Princess is stirring the granola!Another nice thing about granola, besides how tasty it is, is that the princess can help! This is especially good because we've been kinda trapped inside our home since the beginning of the year. We didn't get the giant snowstorm that was in the forecast, but it's been really really cold. And my darling princess has a cold. I think when she gets older, it will be fun to have her help me all the time, but for now we're sticking to stirring the granola and helping to scramble the eggs for breakfast.The Princess eating eggs that she helped scramble!Yummy Breakfast GranolaAn original Shazamer recipe4 C Old Fashioned Oats1 ½ C slivered almonds½ C packed brown sugar½ tsp salt½ tsp cinnamon½ tsp pumpkin pie spice¼ C canola oil ¼ C maple syrup1 tsp vanilla1 cup sweetened coconut flakes1 cup dried cranberries1 cup sunflower seeds½ cup dried apricots, choppedPreheat oven to 300°FMix oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice together in large container. In a small bowl combine oil, syrup, and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into oats. Stir until well mixed.Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread granola evenly on pan.Bake 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.Add coconut, stir, and bake 5 more minutes. When finished, mix in cranberries, sunflower seeds, and apricots and allow to cool completely. Enjoy.[...]

Filled Noodle Soup


Um. Hello. It's been a long time. So how ya' doing? This is a little awkward. So I think I'm just going to pretend that there hasn't been a break and that we're just picking up as if I had all along been blogging. How's that?Filled Noodle SoupSo today is January 1. The bright, clean start to another year. I really love the start of a new year. There's so much optimism. And I don't know about anyone else, but I usually spend January 1st eating all the chocolate so that it's out of the house. Blows the lets eat healthy resolution right out of the water, but I'm full of chocolate and pretty satisfied. I can't say all of the chocolate is out of the house though because somehow between the Brain and I we managed to receive 3, one pound bags of M&M's. We got a one pounder of dark chocolate M&M's (yay me!) We got a one pounder of peanut M&M's (yay Brain!) And we got a one pounder of peanut butter M&M's (I've only recently tasted them and they're all right.) So with all that chocolate (and chocolate from the stockings at my mom's and chocolate from a hostess gift), I know you're wondering what chocolate I actually feasted on. I feasted on the open bag of candy cane Hershey Kisses that I had in the house to make these fantastic cookies. Seriously the cookies were delicious. I only wish they didn't leave so many leftover kisses...We've been getting a little snow, so after lunching on some leftover egg tomato curry, I put the princess down for her nap. Did I mention there's a princess now? Isn't she lovely? She's my joy.The Princess!Oh, where was I? Right. The princess went down for her nap and I fired up the snow blower. I love firing up the snow blower. But by the time I was done, I was cold and I wanted some serious comfort food. Like something my grandma would make. My grandma is 96 and doesn't cook anymore. My mom is much much younger and doesn't cook anymore either. Hooray for my step dad or she would starve! ha ha! I was texting Super G and she gave me the idea of having Filled Noodle Soup like Grandma used to make. Filled Noodle Soup is delicious and comforting and filling and perfect for a cold snowy day. The only problem is that I didn't have a recipe. Super G texted me some fairly loose instructions. Something along the lines of make a pasta dough, spread some hamburger on it and then boil it in beef broth for about 20-25 minutes. I called Mom and she said not to brown the hamburger ahead of time and to add an egg to it. She used to cook a long long long time ago.Cutting the filled noodles.We had it for dinner tonight and the princess loved it. I made an egg noodle pasta dough, added some garlic powder to the hamburger and I added some tomatoes to the broth. And I am writing this recipe down. So that someday when the princess asks for the recipe I will have it. And then I took one for the team and ate all of the available Candy Cane Kisses. Phew! Thank God that's taken care of.Yummy leftovers!Filled Noodle SoupAn original Shazamer family recipe1 1/2 cups all purpose flour1/8 tsp of salt4 tsp cold butter2 egg yolks3 eggs1 pound ground beef1 onion1/2 tsp garlic powdersalt and pepper8 cups beef broth1 (15oz) can diced tomatoesStir together the flour and the salt. Then using a pastry blender, or your fingers, or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture so it looks like crumbs. Then make a well in the flour mixture and pour in 2 eggs and the yolks. Stir with a fork until it comes together and then knead it for about 7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Roll the dough into a great big rectangle. Try to roll the dough as thin as possible. Don't worry if the dough is thick though because it will just taste more dumpling-y. Cover the rolled out dough with plastic wrap while making the ground beef mixture.Mince the onion and stir in[...]

Disturbance in the Force...


 Have you ever heard news that was so completely heartbreakingly shocking that it shook you? Hard? That was Tuesday for me. I was driving home from work through the rural Ohio landscape. Running into my standard delays.I was crawling along slow enough that I don't think I endangered anyone taking this photo.And I know I wasn't even close to danger in this one. The only way to take a non-blurry photo of a train at a crossing is if that train happens not to be moving.So there I was, taking forever to get home, and I decided (as I sometimes do when stuck at substantial delays on my commute) to check Facebook on my phone. I was surprised to discover that I had a message and there had been 17 updates to it. I wasn't panicky because I figured it was one of those messages from my friends or family that someone was participating in a Team in Training event, or someone was looking for a tutor, or something like that. But when I opened the message thread it seemed like for a brief moment the world stopped.To quote Obi-Wan, "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."Lisa had died. It is still so hard to process that someone so vivacious, so full of life, so encouraging, and so friendly was gone. A great big HUGE empty hole is left in the universe. Lisa affected so many people with her wit and her charm and her unbelievable sense of humor. Just like literally thousands of other food bloggers, I would have never started blogging if it hadn't been for her. If you read my very first blog post, I was already following the Daring Bakers, a group that Lisa and a friend co-founded. I felt so happy to be in the first 300 to sign on. It was the idea (she never did post the recipe) of her calamari sauce that I drooled over. I was lucky enough that I got to meet Lisa and her friends. Even though I was nervous, uncomfortable and completely lost, Lisa accepted me with open arms. She became the little voice in my head cheering me on. Just last week, when I asked my Facebook friends if any of them had ever made yogurt (I'm trying to get away from chemicals). Lisa encouraged me. She told me that the Daring Cooks had just done it.I did make that yogurt Lisa. Gah! Well I attempted to make that yogurt. It totally failed. Completely liquid. It made me think of some of those Daring Baker challenges that just didn't work out. And that made me smile to remember how hard those challenges were and just how rewarding. Wednesday, I went into work determined. I borrowed the yogurt maker machine from the Home Ec teacher. I exactly followed the manufacturer's directions. And today I did it. There is yogurt in my fridge. And a hole in the force that can never be filled.(I don't actually think Lisa was a Star Wars geek, but it's part of the culture of people our age. I think it would have made her smile.) [...]

Chocolate Pork Chops


Whoa! CHOCOLATE AND PORK!!! That sure gets your attention doesn't it?The Brain and I have been playing a new "game". (Get your mind out of the gutter.) Every weekend he picks three packages of meat out of the freezer and I find some way of cooking them. We started this little ritual after he realized that I could take an entire evening to make my weekly meal plan. Yes, I like to know what I should be eating for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner every day. (Unfortunately, there sometimes appears something delicious like oatmeal cookies that throw a wrench in any meal planning and I eat them until they're gone.) It's been working out pretty good so far. I've been trying to loosen up and go with the flow at mealtime and we're slowly eating all of the meat in the freezers. This week though, things really came into line. Monday night I was sitting around watching TV, wondering how bad the storm was going to be, wondering if school was going to be cancelled on Tuesday (it was), when I flicked to Paula Deen making these beautiful pork chops. I was stunned. I was hungry after watching. I had already made dinner. D'OH! So at the earliest opportunity (the next day), I pulled the thawed pork chops out of the freezer and had at it. Fortunately I had most of the ingredients in the cupboard because we were snowed in. I kind of tweaked what I had to make do for the stuff I didn't have. I was sad to see my package of pork chops only had two in it. (All our meat is wrapped in butcher paper so it's like opening little presents.) But I'm saving the extra rub for next time the Brain pulls out a pork chop package. The dry rub is super easy to mix together and the pork chops cook really nice and quick. If I liked gravy, I might make a gravy out of what I'm sure are the delicious drippings still in the pan. Even the Brain, who eats whatever I make and doesn't really comment, remarked that these were some delicious pork chops. I sure wish there were leftovers...Chocolate Spiced Pork Chopsadapted from Paula Deen's recipe2 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning1 Tbsp dehydrated onion flakes2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder1 1/2 tsp garlic salt1 tsp smoked paprika1/2 tsp ground red pepper flakes1/2 tsp ground cumin1 tsp ground black pepper4 (1 1/2 inch thick) bone in pork chops1 Tbsp vegetable oilPreheat oven to 350 degrees F.In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, Italian seasoning, onion flakes, cocoa powder, garlic salt, paprika, red pepper, cumin, and black pepper. Rub the mixture evenly over the pork chops. Add the oil to a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork chops and cook for 3 minutes per side. Put the skillet in oven and bake the pork chops until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven, transfer the chops to a serving platter and serve. [...]

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


Last night Super G and I had an interesting phone conversation. She was complaining that I was anticipating not just one snow day, but two if the full 12 inches of snow hits like it's supposed to. It started at 7am this morning. Right on schedule! (As it turns out, Super G can no longer whine about there being no snow days in New York City. School is cancelled for her tomorrow too!)To make her feel better Super G and I were discussing the benefits of living in New York City. Not that I really know, because I've only lived in what seems like every major metropolitan area in the Midwest not the East Coast. So I pointed out things like being able to find rice flour, or marscapone cheese and being able to go to places like fancy chocolate shops and Murray's cheese shop, and if she wants Indian food she doesn't have to cook it herself. Super G then started to feel better because, as she pointed out to me, she was able to have some Scharffenberger cocoa powder delivered to her house with her groceries. I don't think I can find Scharffenberger cocoa out here. Well certainly not in this county anyway. Askinosie isn't available either. I have to admit that I was starting to feel a little blue. The best cocoa I can find is whatever Walmart carries. But then I started to think of the advantages of being out here in the middle of Nowhere, Ohio. For example, all of our meat is raised lovingly by little kids and is pretty near organic. Also, the secretary at the school I'm doing my student teaching at sells farm fresh brown eggs from her very own chickens. Super G may have access to fancy expensive specialty foods, but I know where mine comes from. I know the 15 year old 4H "farmers". And sometimes you just don't need fancy specialty foods. Some good old fashioned oats will do. And some raisins. And there you have an iconic cookie. The Oatmeal Raisin cookie. Sometimes when I'm lying awake at night trying to go to sleep I create impossible stories in my head. Nothing that will ever come about, but fun to think about kinds of things. Like owning a bakery. That would be fun. Well except for the whole employees and taxes and inventory and rent and electricity bills and stuff like that. But if I ever did own a bakery, these would be the oatmeal cookies I would sell. They are sturdy and yummy and yet down-home and delicious. I think the oatmeal cookie recipe from the Quaker Oats box has just been bumped from my recipe collection!The recipe comes from a Christmas present cookbook from my brother and his beautiful wife. The Grand Central Baking Book. The recipes are easy to follow. The photos are drool-worthy. And frankly, if every recipe in the book is as good as the oatmeal cookies, then I may have to make a trip to Portland (or Seattle) and eat at the Grand Central Bakery. As it turns out, they celebrate the same food philosophy I do. They are all about foods that are locally grown, artisan breads, and homemade scratch cooking. Yum! (If you perhaps live out in the Pacific Northwest, you should really check them out. The bread is apparently in grocery stores, and there are bakery locations in both Portland and Seattle.)Oatmeal Raisin Cookiesfrom The Grand Central Baking Book1 3/4 cup (8.75 ounces) all-purpose flour1 tsp baking soda1 tsp salt1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature1 cup granulated sugar1 cup packed light brown sugar2 eggs2 tsp vanilla extract3 1/4 cups (11.5 ounces) rolled oats1 cup raisins Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 5 baking sheets with parchment paper (or if you don't have that many sheets, only line 2, but you will have to wait while cookies cool on the baking sheets.)Whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, crea[...]

Narangi Keema


This month the Brain and I celebrated 6 years of togetherness. Well celebrated is a little strong of a word. We noted the passing of time. See we're not shmoopy traditionally romantic people. I can honestly say I've never gazed into the Brain's eyes for any long period of time, despite the fact that he has the most beautiful blue eyes and really long lashes. We don't hold hands very often and if we do it tends to be something of a silly moment. That's just how we are. (3 weeks after we met)Don't get me wrong. We are very compatible and live a life full of love and laughter, but we're not traditional. Did I ever tell you we met on the Internet? Indeed. I met his requirement of being a Catholic without any children and he met my requirement of being bald. Yes. I like bald men. A lot.This is us about 8 months later (when I already knew there was no going back.) Aren't we cute? That's one fine looking bald man...So yeah, sometimes I like things a little different than the next person. For example, I have always had a certain soft spot for a bald man. I think I get it from my mother who thinks Danny DeVito is a wildly sexy man. I'm not even making that up. Given some ground lamb and a craving for Indian food most people make Ground Lamb with Peas (or Mutter Kheema). It's delicious. But I had just gone to the library and checked out From Curries to Kebabs, recipes from the Indian Spice Train by Madhur Jaffrey. In this very interesting cookbook is a recipe called Narangi Keema, which is short for Hyderabadi Ground Lamb with Orange. It's a really unusual, really delicious dish. I didn't alter it too much from the original recipe. The only difference is that at the end of the recipe she says to add the garam masala, but doesn't include it in the ingredients list. and the unit of measurement is missing from the coriander leaves. It just says 1. 1 what? 1 bushel? 1 tsp? 1 cup? Yes, it's the standard how to annoy a math geek moment. But anyway, this was really different and tasty way to try a new Indian ground lamb recipe.Narangi Keemafrom From Curries to Kebabs with alterations previously noted.1 large orange1 tsp ground turmeric1 tsp salt3 Tbsp peanut oil2 medium onions, sliced into fine half rings2 tsp ground cumin1 Tbsp ground coriander2 Tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger4 cloves garlic, crushed to a pulp4 Tbsp plain yogurt2 pounds ground lamb1/2 tsp ground turmeric1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper1 cup fresh orange juice1 1/2 tsp salt3 serrano peppers, sliced into very fine rounds1 cup lightly packed cilantro, coarsely chopped3/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped1/2 tsp garam masalaTo prepare the orange, peel off the orange rind, making sure to leave the white pith behind. Cut the rind into very fine, 1 inch long julienne strips. Combine the turmeric and salt with 6 cups of water in a pan and bring to a boil. Pour half into a measuring cup and reserve. Add the rind to the boiling liquid in the pan and boil rapidly for 1 minute. Empty the pan through a sieve set over a sink. Pour the reserved turmeric water back into the pan and bring back to a boil. Put the rind back into the pan and boil again for 1 minute, then strain again through a sieve set over the sink. Rinse the rind under cold running water and set aside.To prepare the lamb, pour the oil into a large, nonstick, lidded pan set over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, stir in the onions and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, or until a dark caramel color. Add the cumin and coriander and stir for 30 seconds. Add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the yogurt 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting for the previous tablespoon to be absorbed before adding another. Put in the lamb, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir a[...]

Spaghetti and Meatballs


Hello. How are you? Have you dropped a little weight? You're looking pretty good!I've been dieting some. I've also been working out more. Why? Because there's so much going on in the world today that I can't do anything about. I can't help those people in Haiti besides write a check. I can't do anything about all the poor people (and self employed people) who have very limited access to healthcare. I can't adopt one of the hundreds of thousands of little orphaned Haitian babies. I can't find Osama Bin Laden. (Okay, I haven't looked either.) It seems to me that every time I listen to the news it's just more and more that I can't do anything about. I find it a touch depressing. What I can do, and the reason for the dieting and working out, is ride my bike. I have a teensy little seat and I'm seriously hoping it gets MUCH more comfortable in the next 7 months. Because July 29th - August 1st I will be riding 328 miles in Pan Ohio Hope Ride. I will be riding to raise funds for the American Cancer Society and their Hope Houses. In fact, today, when I learned yet another person I love very much has been diagnosed with cancer, the only thing that made me feel the tiniest bit better was to put on my biking clothes and ride my bike. So if you'd like to support me, here's the link to my page. If you'd like to join the team I'm on (Adam's Army- named after a soldier who was a good friend of my team leader Mike) we'd love to have you! Just click on the button that says "Join My Team."Also, expect to see updates ocassionally on how the training is going. And yes, those noodles are made from scratch, not a box. If it weren't for the Pan Ohio Hope Ride, I would be doing what every other chubby, emotional eater, in rural Ohio does and eating plates and plates of this delicious Spaghetti and Meatballs. Okay. I did eat plates and plates of Spaghetti and Meatballs, but in my defense, yesterday was my birthday, and I seriously think The Complete Meat Cookbook is one of the top 5 cookbooks in my library (one of the spare bedrooms, not the public library.)Meatballs and Sauceadapted from The Complete Meat Cookbookmeatballs:1 pound ground chuck1/2 pound bulk pork sausage2 large eggs, lightly beaten1 cup dried breadcrumbs2 tsp minced garlic2 Tbsp minced onion1/3 cup finely chopped parsley (I used 1/4 cup dried because it's what I had)1/2 cup grated Parmesan2 Tbsp finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil1 tsp salt1/2 tsp dried marjoram1 1/2 tsp ground black peppersauce:1 Tbsp olive oil1 cup chopped onions2 medium stalks celery, chopped1 Tbsp chopped garlic1 cup dry red wine1 cup beef stock3 cups canned tomatoes1 tsp Italian seasoning. (Ok, it supposed to be basil, but somehow I have none in the pantry)In a large deep bowl combine all meatball ingredients. kneading and squeezing until everything is well blended. Shape the meat into 24 meatballs (approximately 1 1/2 inch balls). Place the meatballs on a cooking sheet lined with parchment and place in a preheated 500° oven and bake for 10 minutes, ocassionally shaking the pan.Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a Dutch oven, add the onions, celery, and garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring once in a while. Pour in the red wine and bring to a boil. Cook until the red wine is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Add the Italian Seasoning (or basil) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes and then using an immersion blender puree the sauce to as smooth as you prefer.Put the meatballs into the pan and simmer over low heat for another 30 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and serve over the cooked pasta of your choice.Serves 8.[...]

Egg Tomato Curry


It's snowing outside. It's been snowing for several days. Okay, maybe just two whole days, but it feels like longer. It's the perfect kind of weather to snuggle under an afghan, drink a steamy mug of hot chocolate and eat something robust and hearty like beef stew and homemade bread with thick slabs of butter. Real butter, not margarine. But it's January. Which means one of two things. 1) You have New Year's resolutions and are avoiding things like snuggling all day under an afghan (you need to get moving!) and thick slabs of butter. Or 2) You are sick and tired of rich foods and butter and chocolate (hard to believe THAT happened!) and instead are desperately craving something with a vegetable in it. Or maybe you feel like you can only afford to eat Ramen Noodles (BLECCH!) after looking at the credit card bill. Ah January. What a month.Because there was a -1 billion degree windchill outside, the Focus does not have heated seats, and I needed to eat something quick and warm and delicious and healthy (and fairly cheap), I told my sister Super G, while driving home from work on Sunday that I would be making Egg Curry for dinner that night. Super G regularly follows my blog and informed me that she didn't think I'd ever posted a recipe for that and she Google searched to be sure. I told her that was ridiculous because I must have posted an egg curry recipe before. It's my go to quick, easy, delicious, cheap, and healthy recipe. Super G insisted I hadn't because she is curious about trying it. I'm embarrassed to say Super G is correct. I have somehow neglected to post a recipe for egg curry. This is even more embarrassing because I have two different egg curry recipes that I've used in the past. Ooops. Deepest apologies. This is without a doubt super comforting food for me and although it took a moment of courage to get over the idea of hard boiled eggs in tomato sauce, it has squarely landed in the rotation as a meal I cook often. So without further ado, Here's the recipe...Egg-Tomato Curryadapted from Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking (don't judge, it's a really good cookbook)1 Tbsp canola oil1 medium onion2 medium cloves garlic1 Tbsp sugar1 tsp salt1 tsp ground cumin1/2 tsp cayenne1/4 tsp turmeric2 (15oz) cans of petite diced tomatoes1 cup water4 large hard boiled eggs, cut in half2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantroQuarter the onion and process in the food processor with the garlic until very finely chopped. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for several minutes until all liquid has evaporated and onions start to turn brown (about 5 minutes).Stir in sugar, salt, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and turmeric. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes stirring constantly. Stir in tomatoes and water. Simmer uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes.Gently stir in eggs and simmer for another 1 to 2 minutes to warm eggs. Remove from heat. Gently stir in cilantro.[...]

Two Houses


Well hello there!Remember me? You may think that I've fallen off the planet, but in reality life just got a little too busy and I had to let something go for a while. So what's been going on? Well, I just finished another observation class where I was teaching 11th and 12th graders at a rural school. That was interesting and demanding. So yeah, I had some lesson plans and papers to write and I managed to keep the 4.0 GPA going after a successful final evaluation. (I realize grade point averages in graduate school are pretty unimportant, but I've never been a good student before and I'm pretty stoked about it.) Also, I got a part time job at an Ostermann Jeweler's in the mall. It's got your standard baloney that goes along with a part time retail job in the mall, but for the most part I'm really enjoying it. There's some big honking blingy rings that it's fairly interesting to see who will buy them. SO school and work, that's not too bad right? Well then we moved. This is one of the really cool things about living in a small town. We moved to the other, much nicer side of town and the only thing in our address that changed was the street name! We definitely upgraded too! I've got the library painted a lovely indigo and am still contemplating color choices for the guest room... Yeah, that's what's been happening here. It's been pretty fun. And when I saw this month's Daring Baker challenge I decided that perhaps I'd give it a shot. After last time's disastrous results, I was curious to see if the new house had a humidity problem...It didn't. (Sorry about the photos, my camera is in Michigan.)Here's the fine print:The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.Except I used my own gingerbread recipe. And my house is not free standing. I am a firm believer in gluing the heck out of the house with royal icing. It is definitely all edible though. Even my naughty dog got a taste of the fence. I used the gingerbread house plans from Bob Villa too. I figure he knows how to build houses.[...]

Potage Veloute aux Champignons


SO, I know I didn't post last week. See, because I don't work during the day at the jewelry store I mostly end up working on Sundays. Although last Sunday I was in Michigan for a wedding reception for a wonderful cousin of mine. No problem you could say, why not cook these Julia Child recipes during the week? Well, I'm still in school. So two days a week I'm observing and sometimes teaching. This week, I'll be subbing for two and a half days. And really, if I just make the soup on Sunday night, if I were to make the next recipe on Monday I'd have multitudes of leftovers. Oh who am I kidding. I made the french onion soup on Monday. see? I did it anyway.In the spirit of being in school, let me give you the cliff notes version of me making the soup.Monday:Me: So what's the next recipe?Super G: I've been eyeing the cream of mushroom soup for a long time so I pick that one.Me: Hmmm. okay. That sounds good.Tuesday:Me: Crap. My course advisor wants to come observe me teach again. Okay, let's do it next Tuesday.Naughty Obnoxious Boy! You are getting a detention!Secretary #1: So you know, Naughty Obnoxious Boy came in to speak to the principal about how you pick on him.Me: (poof brain exploded!)Wednesday:observe observe observeSell big piece of jewelry. Sell another big piece of jewelry. Yay!Think maybe I should get started on this soup.Thursday:Bake cake for teacher I'm observing. Think about getting that soup started. Finish the french onion soup leftovers. yum!Friday:Stomach flu and dizziness hits. Whhhheee.Saturday:Still recovering from the Friday fun. Sleep most of the day. No desire for cooking.Sunday:Yay! feel human again! Work a full day selling a little bit of jewelry. Race through Meijer on the way home and pick up some mushrooms and heavy cream. Throw some tequila marinated pork kabobs on the grill. Eat dinner with the Brain. Chop mushrooms and get the Cream of Mushroom soup started. CRAP!!!! I'm out of eggs (and to be discovered later, cash). Race through WalMart. Grab eggs. Count out a ridiculous amount of change and make mental note to stop at the bank tomorrow. Get back home just as the 20 minutes of simmering is done. Finish the soup.And yes. There are two kinds of cream of mushroom soup. There's the kind you make tuna noodle casserole out of. And there's this kind. Silky, decadent, delicious. If only I didn't have a mountain of dishes to do before I get to go to bed....And I welcome any tips on getting soup made lade at night to photograph well! Check out how Tracy and Super G did![...]

Soupe á l’Oeuf, Provençale


(image) So I picked this weeks Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipe, Soupe á l’Oeuf, Provençale or Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs. I guess I felt the potato leek soup was a little too easy in a book I have always pictured in my mind as tres difficile (very difficult). So yesterday, I strapped on my pearls and my very girliest of aprons and tackled this recipe.

Really it is two recipes in the same challenge. In order to complete the Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs, I figured I probably needed to learn how to poach some eggs first. Well really simultaneously as I was making the garlic soup/ broth and making these oh so delicious apple cardamom cupcakes with the carmel frosting.

The cupcakes turned out delicious.

The eggs that I simply poached in water following the directions on page 116 were the best poached eggs I've ever had. Really. I've been a lifelong, hard-core dieter, and I can tell you poached eggs tend to be fairly watery and gross. These poached eggs were different though. They were downright decadent.

As for the soup, it's made from garlic, water, and your standard pantry herbs, thyme sage, bay leaf, etc. In the introduction, Julia says, " Enjoying your first bowl of garlic soup, you might never suspect what it is made of. Because the garlic is boiled, its after-effects are at a minimum, and its flavor becomes exquisite, aromatic, and almost undefinable." She is 100% spot on. I don't know how to describe the flavor of this soup. It's delicious. It's savory.

Trying to describe what it tastes like though is like trying to describe the color orange. Maybe Tracy or Super G will have a better description.

Potage Parmentier


So like many many people I saw the movie Julie and Julia. And I liked it. And I was happily surprised (although it wasn't really a big surprise) to see a girl I went to elementary school with was in several scenes with Meryl Streep.I also have a long standing love affair with the idea of Julia Child. She was a bigger and not terribly dainty woman (like me). She smoked (like I used to). She was madly in love with her husband (like I am). She was close, as an adult, with her sister (as I am with mine). Who happened to be taller than her (I'm the only family member nowhere close to 6 foot tall). And when asked by her husband what it is that she really like to do, she responded "eat" (ok the parallel here is obvious).And she had such joy in her life. I want that.So, when my much taller sister Super G, approached me and asked me if I would cook my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking (volume 1 although I have both), the first thing I said was "not in one year." She explained that she had heard that this was how good cooks got to be great was cooking their way through Julia's cookbook. I think it sounds like fun so I hopped aboard. This week Super G picked the very first recipe in the book: Potage Parmentier or Potato Leek Soup. It was delicious! Boiling it for 50 minutes seemed like an eternity, but I was stunned that potatoes, leeks, water, salt and some butter could taste so absolutely delicious! I'm not going to be posting the recipes because we're going to cook all of them and it wouldn't be right. But Super G, her friend Tracy, and I are going to rotate picking a recipe every week and blogging about our results on Sundays. If this first recipe was an indicator, this will be a very fun and delicious experience.[...]

Daring Bakers' Dobos Torte!


The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

This torte turned out to be pretty tasty. As usual, I cannot be trusted with an entire chocolate cake in the fridge, so I took some to the Brain's office, took some into the jewelry store (did I mention I got a job? I work in a jewelry store! I like it.) and I have a chunk to give to my friend A if she ever gets back from vacation! The general consensus however, is that the caramel layer is too lemony. The ladies at the jewelry store think that a salted caramel would have been much tastier. They really liked the chocolate buttercream though.

There are thousands of Dobos Tortes floating around the internet today. Go check out the rest of the Daring Bakers! Also take a peek at the Daring Store!

Beef Tamales!


So look at me! Two posts in one week! Wheeeeeee! And to top it off these were dinner tonight. Wow am I on top of it! Let me start at the beginning. I love tamales. I mean I LOVE tamales. I had my first tamale in 1993 when I was flunking out of the University of Michigan and fairly lost as to who I wanted to be. My very good friend and I decided to take a massive road trip from Ann Arbor to Texas. One of our mothers told us we had to pick a direction we were going and the other told us we had to narrow it down to a state. So four days later, when after a beautiful trip down the Natchez Trace Parkway, my friend L and I were sitting down having lunch in San Antonio. I had my first tamale and I. was. hooked. From then on, if I could find a tamale on the menu I was likely to order it. My aunt mentioned at one point that she got together with her husband's family every year at Christmas to make tamales. We had a lovely swap for several years where I would trade her an enormous box of Christmas cookies for a homemade tamale lunch.Then I moved to Kansas. Besides having a hard time adjusting from the big city life of Chicago (where I finally got my degree at Loyola and would have stayed if I could have found a job), I suddenly found myself tamale-less. Yikes! While I consoled myself with a far more than healthy dosing of barbecue, occasionally I would find myself wishing I could find a tamale.Courtney, over at Coco Cooks, had an event last March called the Tamale Open and I seriously thought about entering, but I was chicken. Tamales seemed to go together like magic and I am really no good at magic. So don't ask me why last month, when I was wandering around Detroit's Mexican Village with my family, listening to my sister M explain how the I-75 improvements were being built (she works for M-Dot) I decided I would bite the bullet and make my own tamales. Call me inspired by the delicious food, but I was determined to do it. I even picked up some masa harina.I learned a whole bunch of things too. First- there is a reason that tamales are made to celebrate All Saints Day (Nov. 1) or Christmas Eve. My cozy little house is now a toasty 700 degrees inside from running the oven for an hour and a half and then steaming for an hour. Second- tamales are traditionally made with groups of women. I imagine they end up doing this assembly line style because I only made these with my good friend Two Buck Chuck and I ended up with dough and filling all over the place. Third- It is a good idea to read the entire recipe before starting. Dinner at 9:30pm is running a little late for me. And I don't think I would have made them the hottest week of the year so far if I had read about the cooking times. and Finally- It is important to check and make sure you have all the ingredients you need. I simply assumed we had another packet of beef stew meat in the freezer of meat. But we've been working hard to empty it (the fair is next week) and I had to substitute round steak.So with all this learning. I was seriously doubting my wisdom in making these tamales. I even felt that it would be a good idea for me to taste one when they were done before calling the Brain and either offering to bring him some or order him a pizza. I was sure of failure. But hey these were pretty good! So good I'm not sure there's any point in sticking the leftovers in the freezer.Beef Tamalesadapted from Cooking LightFilling:Cooking spray1 1/2 cups chopped onion2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced1 pound round steak cut int[...]

Deep Dark Chocolate Sorbet


(image) Hello. So much for frequent blogging.

I have finally returned from our annual "Family Vacation" with my husband's family. We left the unusually nice and cool summer up here in rural Ohio and headed for Hilton Head Island. There was a lot of golf, swimming in the ocean and the pool, happy kids running around, some wine, and general family enjoyment. Other than a minor jelly fish sting on my foot, and leaving my purse in a dive restaurant in West Virginia it was a really pleasant week. (The foot was just fine by the next day and we recovered the purse about 3 hours later after driving through West Virginia again to get it. Nothing was stolen and my credit cards were untouched. Whew!)

But now that we're back home, we've made the unhappy discovery that the lovely cool summer we were enjoying blossomed into a sweltering hot one. This is not fun. There's no ocean in rural Ohio. And we don't have a pool. I could drink wine, but that would be counterproductive. It's so hot that I've been cooking without turning on the heat in the house. Yeah for the grill! But before I get to any of those recipes (and really the camera needs new batteries so who knows how long that will take me!) let's enjoy a scoop of this rich, chocolaty sorbet. It's easy, delicious, and totally refreshing.

Deep Dark Chocolate Sorbet

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine the water and sugar in a heavy saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the cocoa and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Stir the cool mixture and then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Daring Bakers' Mallows and Milanos


The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I did the challenge with my sister. And I'm glad I did. The Milan cookies were really easy to make and the batter went together in a snap. But apparently, I'm super bad at sticking them together with chocolate. I personally prefer the smaller and crunchier cookies, but I ate the bigger chewier cookies too because they were also delicious.
Then we did the Mallows. The recipe said 10 minutes of prep time, 5 minutes of inactive prep time, and 10 minutes baking time yields 2 dozen. I think that's wrong. We spent the entire day making these cookies. Trying to roll the cookies out was like trying to roll out chocolate chip cookie dough. We solved the problem by splitting the dough in thirds and continuously rotating pieces we weren't using into the freezer. And I think you can see we got a LOT more than 2 dozen. We got 2 gross. Super G and I are math geeks and when we finally counted the cookies we had 200 and we had been sampling cookies all day. So we figured 244 was probably not a bad estimate. I think if the base cookie had been tastier these would have been excellent cookies. But to me, the base cookie just tasted like pie crust. blech.
Photos curtesy of Super G. I forgot my camera.
You can find the recipes here and check out the rest of the Daring Bakers and see what they did!

Cheap Pork and Pea Pods


Um, okay, so if you haven't noticed, we're in a recession. The unemployment in my county just dropped down to 15.0% from a high of 18.3%. I think we can come to one or two conclusions here. 1) the economy is getting a teensy bit better and/or 2) recessions are not good in rural areas that depend on the automotive industry. Either way, it pays to be cheap.I'm very very blessed that my garden is flourishing and that we have a chunk of pig and lamb to eat up before the county fair next month where we will most likely be buying a new pig and lamb to eat. We also have what seems like 30 pounds of green beans in the fridge. Anyone know something good to do with green beans? Last month, while hunting for a job (which I've pretty much been doing all summer), I just happened to be wandering through the Borders ( fyi- you need to apply to them online) and found this book Eat Cheap but Eat Well by Charles Mattocks. Charles Mattocks is apparently "TV's The Poor Chef" but I'm sorry to say I've never heard of him. Anyhow, I've made a couple recipes from the book and they are tasty! He has a recipe for Stuffed Pepper Jack Peppers that's worth the cost of the book, but we ate those so fast I didn't have time to take a photo.On the next page is a recipe for Beef with Pea Pods. Now, we do have a bunch of beef in the freezer also, but we don't buy a cow at the fair. And remember that chunk of pork? Well that's what I used instead. I believe it was a fresh ham steak package. The peas in my garden had become home to a family of rabbits by this point so I bought the peas. I have to tell you that this was delicious, cheap, and really fast to make. And I really like Mr. Mattocks' idea that just because you are eating cheap, it doesn't mean you have to eat crap (like a certain TV "chef" who decorates her kitchen to match her "tablescape" and uses prepackaged processed garbage instead of just chopping a vegetable). Cheap Pork and Pea Podsas adapted from Eat Cheap but Eat Well1 pound pork (I used a fresh ham steak, but I think any cut would work)2 tsp cornstarch1 tsp sugar1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp black pepper2 Tbsp soy sauce3 Tbsp canola oil1 clove of garlic, minced1 tsp grated fresh ginger2 pounds fresh snow peas, stemmed1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained2 cups hot cooked white riceCut the pork into bite size slices about 1/4 inch thick. Set asideIn a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch, sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend in the soy sauce and 1/4 cup water. Mix well with a wire whisk to remove any lumps.Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until a sprinkle of water causes it to "pop". Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until they begin to release fragrance, about 30 seconds. Add the snow peas and water chestnuts and cook, stirring until the pea pods are crisp tender. 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into a bowl and set aside.Add another 1 or 2 Tbsp of oil to the skillet and then add the pork. Cook, stirring, until the pork is done, about 3 minutes. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the pan, stir with a whisk, and then add the cooked vegetables. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.Serve with the rice.[...]