Friday, September 28, 2007

Some more about food

I have been on a serious food kick this week, especially in the blogging world. However, it hasn't been all peaches and cream (see, chicken taco post). Also because I think Jeff has been suffering through his brown bag lunches. He even gave me a SUGGESTION about what he would like in his lunch which translates to me that he isn't enjoying the current states of affairs (his suggestion was a nacho kit, which I can understand wanting, I just don't want to grate cheese at 7 in the morning).

Tonight I am almost guaranteed a win. Why you wonder? Take out? No! PIZZA! Homemade pizza from a tried and true recipe that I make in batches and freeze. And for a bonus prize, tonight is one of the frozen ones so I have been defrosting it on the counter throughout the day and just popped it in the oven. It is a deep dish pizza so it takes awhile to defrost.

I promise to share this recipe with you but you have to PINKY swear that you will make the sauce and not use a bottled sauce. I PROMISE, it is that good, even when you leave the wine out like I do (I like wine, don't get me wrong, but I'm not going to open a bottle just for pizza). If you don't make the sauce, your results will be sub par. Also, you have to make the dough. Don't buy it unless you can buy fresh balls of it at the store or the pizzeria. Don't buy the rolls in the dairy section. Pie crust, sure, buy that it in the dairy section but NEVER pizza crust. If you do, just don't tell me. I promise not to judge.

Here is the recipe: Emeril's Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza

And as always, I make changes because I see recipes as guidelines or suggestions, not RULES, except when baking of course.

Ok, so the dough. I don't own semolino flour. I don't even know if they sell it at my store, I've never even looked. I just use regular flour in its place and it comes out perfect.

While the dough is rising, make the sauce. I don't use fresh basil or oregano, just dried. Maybe next summer I will when I have a garden (lofty ambitions, I know, especially when my tomato plant from this year just now has a tomato or two on it). Also, 1 tbsp of red wine? Not necessary unless you already have a bottle cracked open.

For the toppings, do whatever makes you happy. Jeff doesn't like mushrooms or olives, so we leave those off. So we stick to pepperoni (lots), hot Italian sausage, onions, and green peppers.

Cheese - the more the merrier. I use a combo of mozzarella, parmesan or asiago, and cheddar. Because if you haven't realized yet, the motto in our household is "If it doesn't cause heart attacks, it isn't worth eating". Seriously though, you would think that we all were morbidly obeast (Jeff's term for obese) with the glorious amount
of butter, cheese, milk, and other delicious and fattening foods that we consume, but we aren't. Sure, we could both stand to lose a couple of pounds each but I think we are attractive people and not disgusting.

The oldest monster is requesting some mama time and I have to check my pizza...but hopefully everyone is enjoying a delicious dinner of any nature.

Another recipe

Today I am going to share a pork chop dish that is good served with spanish rice (I use rice-a-roni because I have no recipes for good rice pilafs (hint, anyone have one to share?). Jeff and I normally in the past weren't pork fans, but I'm trying to find recipes for it. I don't know why, but I always think of it as dirty meat. Not so much anymore obviously.

Well, now after hearing about dirty meat, I'm sure the first thing you are going to do is rush out and try this recipe...but whatever. Anyways, here is another Giada recipe: Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola.

Here are my changes.

1. I simply brown the chops and do not bother to cook them entirely in the first step.

2. After I have added the onions and tomatoes, I put the pork chops BACK into the pan and cover the pan with a lid. I then let the whole simmer for however long I want. I will tell you that this dish improves the longer you cook it as the chops get really nice and tender. So, i would recommend cooking for at 30 minutes covered - perfect timing to get your box of rice cooked.

It is a very simple dish that I almost always have good success with.

Note to chef: Don't skimp on the red pepper flakes. Oh yeah, I don't use herbs de provence. Instead I use that garlic seasoning stuff I posted about the other day.

Seriously, it is so versatile I think you could brush your teeth with it.

This is how, uh huh uh huh, we like it

So, Swistle does ear hats. Here at our house, we have one cute ear hat. Note to self, find said ear hat for photos before Elise's head outgrows it. However, we also have mullet hat.

I think I have one of Darsie wearing the hat, too. I just have to find it.

It is actually a hat not entirely composed of fake fur. Jeff wore it one winter weekend when he drove a Jeep CJ from California to Washington. The stories of that trip are hilarious (like brakes going out descending into Oregon) but in his words "At least the heater worked".

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We Win Some, We Lose Some

Manicotti was a hit, Chicken Tacos - not so much of a hit, not even on the dartboard, actually.

Let me start this by saying I am ALWAYS won over by ratings. You could sell me almost anything as long as it has 5 stars, or even 4.5. I need to stop this though because I have been sorely disappointed more than once.

On to the chicken tacos. One, chicken thighs are too fatty. I've used them before and they were too fatty then, so what the heck was I thinking when I thought, oh hey, delicious chicken thighs only .79 cents a pound! Wooo hooo. Also, they are a pain in the butt to debone. I even cooked them on the bone and the meat still wouldn't pull away from the bone. Two, this could have probably cooked all day instead of for half an hour. They were pretty flavorless except for fat and as I mentioned in the manicotti recipe post, salt and garlic are the flavors that persevere here. Third, save your tortillas for what I call "bunuelos" (fry a tortilla in a pan with butter, sugar, and cinnamon). We had them for dessert and they were most excellent.

Don't remind me that the recipe called for chicken breasts. I only read instructions on a need-be basis and I only follow them when I feel like it. I'm a rebel like that.

One of these days soon I will post more than food. I've been in a pretty snarky mood lately and I'm been swallowing sugar by the poundfulls to keep myself from pissing off the world.

I've got some cool Darsie art to share and as soon as I can find it, I'm going to be posting from the journal Jeff and I kept while D was in the hospital for two very long months.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Easy Manicotti

Anybody do the Food Network thing? Well, I should say, I go through the web site occasionally to get recipes as our TV is dominated by a. kid shows or b. man shows.

Last night I made this recipe. It was good but I made/will make a couple of changes when I make it again. I made it easier by buying preshredded cheese. One bag of Italian blend and one bag of parmesan (I know, Giada would be turning in her grave if she were dead right now). I used all of the bag of Italian blend and half of the bag of parmesan. Also, the three cup or whatever amount of tomato sauce the recipe says, just use a jar. 1/4 on the bottom of the pan and the rest on top. Oh, and I don't know why this is, but if you GRATE the garlic instead of chopping it or even using a garlic press you get tons more garlic flavor, which is Jeff's most favorite flavor besides salt in the world.

Next time around I am going to do half ground beef and half hot italian sausage because I think it would have much better flavor.

Serve with garlic bread and salad. Oh, I have a secret method to garlic bread that is super easy and the best BEST ever.

Seriously, just melt some butter in the microwave, mix in a lot of this stuff, put it on your bread (sourdough is the best) and toast it. Sometimes, when I am in a domestic diva mode (read rare to never), I will put some real crushed garlic on there, too.

I'm excited to microwave leftovers today.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What to do with Art?

I love Darsie's artwork that she is bringing home from preschool but what do I do with it? I can't keep all of it as she is a very creative and productive little girl but it KILLS me to throw it away.

Any cute ideas?

Friday, September 21, 2007

I think I forgot to mention....

that Darsie started preschool this week! It is through the school district (yes, we graduated from Hollyridge) and their developmental preschool program. So far, I think, D is having a blast. She is already bringing home art and she even told me "fun day, mom". She is settling in well. Everyday when I come to pick her up, she look sat me and says "Ride bus, mom. Yellow bus. Friends".

Do you think she is trying to tell me something?

So, we are going to let her ride the bus as soon as we can get it set up. She is so thrilled and excited about the bus. I will say, it is one of the short buses (the ones I made fun of as a kid) and she will be in a car seat with highly trained drivers. At least she won't hear me cursing at fellow drivers in the morning.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three years of birthdays!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm going to be really bad here....

If you preface a blog post with this title, maybe you shouldn't be writing the post in the first place. Then again, our blogs are where we each reign king supreme so perhaps I should be putting my foot in my own mouth before I type this post.

I will start out by saying that I took Swistles advice and DIDN'T comment on this blog post even though I wanted to. No, I dutifully deleted the blog from my RSS reader (it wasn't a blog I ever really enjoyed in the first place...just in my collection of food blogs) and merrily went on my way. Except I kept thinking about it because it royally pissed me off. And finally here I am, posting my thoughts on it, which I am having a hard time formulating and putting down in words.

First of all, my husband put an awesome, professional-quality kitchen in our house for me because I L-O-V-E to cook.

Second, I don't always cook EVERYTHING from scratch because sometimes, just sometimes, cooking isn't about the end result, it's about the process....especially when Darsie clamors for a chair so she can help.

Cooking isn't always about an end product that will knock yours and everybody else's socks off or win you an award. Sometimes it is about making memories. Sometimes it is even about saving some time.

I'm mostly 100% appalled by the comment that "this lady should have gone to a bakery". I know that in my family, while we prefer from scratch, at least this lady is putting some effort into something and creating something. I'd rather have a boxed cake and canned icing created by or with someone I love than something from a bakery.

And in my defense, I baked 6 dozen cupcakes for Darsie's birthday. A loving and wonderful creation some by mixes and some from scratch. I made three different frostings, some from scratch and some from a can.

Will people remember them? Probably not. But you know what, I will remember cooking with Darsie, sharing spoonfuls of batter and frosting, making messes, Jeff's face lighting up when he tasted the cream cheese frosting.

We made some great memories and that is what TRULY matters.

Back to our previously scheduled commentary.

A whirldwind of activity

The last few days have been hectic. We've celebrated Darsie's third birthday with a trip to the zoo, a pizza/cupcake bash (6 dozen cupcakes later and I'm still ALIVE!) and yesterday Darsie started developmental preschool. Both events went well and will be presented with pictures but right now I have to run and get D ready for school this morning. All she talks about is how she wants to ride the bus with friends, so I guess on Thursday I will let her ride the *sniff* bus.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jumping on the Internet Potluck Train

Wheeeee! We all know that I love to cook and love to eat. So, when Sarah at No Whey, Mama wants to have an Internet potluck, I'm there!

I made these last night and served with fresh guacamole and sour cream. OH YUM! I know it isn't lactose-free but it is sooooooo good. I bet you could sub out the cheese for some salsa or some other "wet" ingredient and just not serve it with sour cream. I'm not sure if tortillas are dairy free or not. Crap, I suck at dairy-free. I take our allergy-free household for granted sometimes.

Anyways, the recipe:

Southwestern Egg Rolls (from All Recipes)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half
2 tablespoons minced green onion
2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 tablespoons diced jalapeno peppers
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
5 (6 inch) flour tortillas
1 quart oil for deep frying
1. Rub 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over chicken breast. In a medium
saucepan over medium heat, cook chicken approximately 5 minutes per
side, until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove from
heat and set aside.
2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium saucepan
over medium heat. Stir in green onion and red pepper. Cook and stir 5
minutes, until tender.
3. Dice chicken and mix into the pan with onion and red pepper. Mix
in corn, black beans, spinach, jalapeno peppers, parsley, cumin, chili
powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes, until well
blended and tender. Remove from heat and stir in Monterey Jack cheese
so that it melts.
4. Wrap tortillas with a clean, lightly moist cloth. Microwave on
high approximately 1 minute, or until hot and pliable.
5. Spoon even amounts of the mixture into each tortilla. Fold ends of
tortillas, then roll tightly around mixture. Secure with toothpicks.
Arrange in a medium dish, cover with plastic, and place in the
freezer. Freeze at least 4 hours.
6. In a large, deep skillet, heat oil for deep frying to 375 degrees
F (190 degrees C). Deep fry frozen, stuffed tortillas 10 minutes each,
or until dark golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.

We have one leftover...I'm off to eat it now. Typing this made my salivate.

King Size

They have made everything bigger but pudding cups.

Go figure.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Preemie Project

I posted the questionnaire I received via e-mail a few weeks ago, but here is the completed project. You have to sign up to received full access but it is a pretty interesting read.

Back to Reality

I miss vacation. However, I do NOT miss trying to cook on a boat that is not hooked up to shore power. You can only cook so many things for so many meals on a bbq. Let me caution you first and foremost that you should NOT try cooking bacon directly on a bbq. Bad things and upset husbands are the end results of said experiment.

Let me also preface this post by saying that I am multitasking at the moment. I am planning our meals for the week and eating Life cereal and drinking coffee and perusing my mom board and typing this post. It isn't that you all aren't important it is just that I only have so much time to get so much done. D is planted squarely in front of the TV (yay for awesome parenting) and Elise is sleeping (I think).

Anyways, here is our vaction summary:

Day 1: Left for Friday Harbor. Hit some major fog and kelp about 2 hours into trip. We got some kelp blocking our engine intake and our engine temp started rising, thought our boat was doomed while we were in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Thought to self, oh shit, here is where we call a Mayday call into the Coast Guard. Jeff and his dad figured out the issue quite quickly and calmed my frayed nerves. Darsie gets seasick and pukes on self and Elise's blanket. Got her settle and asleep, ditto for Elise. Got to Friday Harbor in approximately three hours. GPS rocks, next year we are adding radar. Friday Harbor was a ZOO. Three gazillion boats there for Labor Day weekend. We were the last boat to get a slip. Next morning in slip (why didn't I just use the aforementioned shore power and cook inside the boat on our electric stove???) is where the bacon vs. bbq event occurred.

Day 2: Leave Friday Harbor for Spencer Spit. Some nasty wind waves but nothing major, just a bumpy ride. Raft up to Jeff's dad's sailboat (basically tie our boats together) for the night. We took the dinghy to shore so D could play in the sand. She loves the sand.

Day 3: Leave Spencer Spit for Stuart Island. Learned how to anchor our boat. The guys made me drive the boat and I am getting much more comfortable with it but not comfortable enough to actully take it somewhere. Some rain but generally nice weather.

Day 4: /Leave Stuart Island for Roche Harbor (this is where Jeff and I were married). Got a slip, played in the park. Finally got to drink some coffee since leaving Friday Harbor (too lazy to heat up water on bbq).

Day 5: Leave Roche Harbor for Sucia Island. Grab a buoy in Echo Bay but change our minds and go to Fox Cove. Beautiful cove. It got very windy during the night. No coffee.

Day 6: Leave Sucia to return to Friday Harbor. Very windy with 3-5 foot wind waves, not so zesty. Once we got to the San Juan channel we were fine though, so that was nice. More ice cream but I am too lazy at this point to make coffee. Vacation has melted any willpower to do much besides take naps, eat ice cream, and take more naps. Plus, the Darsie-monster has been getting up every morning at 7am yelling for cereal in a baby bowl EVERY DAY OF THE DAMN VACATION. What happened to sleeping in? Oh yeah, children, I forgot.

Day 7: Uneventful trip home. Some nasty wind waves in the Strait of Juan de Fuca but not like Sucia.

Anyways, we are home and Jeff is back to work today. So sad the time is gone. I have a LOT of catching up to do here at napping maybe (doubtful)?

Actually, Darsie starts preschool next Monday so I need to do some shopping. Plus, her third birthday is next week as well, so sad.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Return from Vacation

We took the boat up to the San Juans and have just returned. I have oodles of photos and a couple of stories but I want to type up a good post and not just a fly by. So, I'm going to eat Oreos and start composing.

I will leave you with this little nugget: