I've got a chicken in the crockpot, it's been going for a couple of hours, still needs a couple. For the first time I am trying it without adding a lot of liquid to it. My friend Mari is the one who told me that I could do a whole chicken in the crockpot. We just didn't use one when I was a kid. But a few years ago, just after she'd told me about cooking a whole chicken in one I was at Meijer and they had this crockpot on sale for $10 and whole chickens were on sale that week too! Kismet!
Anyhow, whenever I make chicken in the crockpot, I will throw in a few cloves of sliced garlic. We love garlic around here! Today, I was reminded of the first time I made "garlic chicken".
I was either 18 or 19. Mom and Dad hadn't been split up for too long, so I hadn't been the chief cook for very long. I was still feeling my way through things and learning. Heck, I'm STILL learning, I always will be. I like learning new stuff, especially about food.
It was Christmas day and it had snowed something like 12 inches overnight. The roads were a nightmare. So, instead of making the traditional trip to my Gran's house (90 minutes each way over very curvy mountain roads) I decided to stay home. This was an unheard of luxury for me. It might have been the very first time I'd ever missed Christmas with the whole famn-damily.
I looked through the cookbook for something that I could do with a couple of chicken breasts for dinner since I had a bag full in the freezer. I found a recipe for something along the lines of "40 garlic chicken". In those days I had not yet discovered fresh garlic. The only garlic I'd ever used was the dried/powdered kind. You see where this is going, don't you?
I read on the bottle that blah blah teaspoons equals a clove of garlic. I used enough of the dried crap to be 40 cloves worth and covered the chicken with it and put in the oven. I have to say, that was pretty gross. We didn't eat very much of it, that's for sure. *laughs*
I've come pretty far since then. Now I'm almost never without a bulb or three of fresh garlic in the house and I only use powdered garlic when I'm making a seasoned flour for coating something. I don't even keep the pre-chopped stuff in the fridge anymore. (it has a slightly pickled flavor that I don't care for)
My chicken smells great, I am looking forward to it being done.
Often, when I have an awful, no good, terribly bad day I want comfort food. For me that means snooty cheeses. Sometimes with a little fruit on the side, sometimes not. If I'd remembered that I had grapes in the fridge last night I totally would have eaten those, but I forgot.
Our Kroger is in the midst of expanding into a Super-Mega-Kroger that can be seen from space. They've finished the first section of the renovations and have added a Murray's cheese shop. Last night, I finally gave them a proper perusal instead of just glancing as I walked past.
The first thing I found that caught my eye was a Fromager d'Affinois. While I was reading the sign, the fromagiere (ok, I might have made that word up, like a sommelier but for cheese) offered to give me a sample. It was a Prima Donna gouda with a tiny bit of strawberry basil jelly. I was immediately in love!
Prima Donna gouda is drier and sharper than a regular gouda. It's reminiscent of a parmesan, only not quite that sharp. I got a wedge of that and a wedge of the fromager d'Affinois and a jar of that strawberry basil jelly and headed home.
I think that a good cheese plate will always have three cheeses. Any more and you start getting confused, any less and you don't have enough variety. Each cheese should be of a different type, too. One needs to be creamy, one stinky, and one somewhere in the middle. So, I dug in the bottom of the fridge and found a chunk of stilton that had been there for at least a year. No worries, it was still vacuum packed, so it hadn't even molded. Well, it had no more mold than stilton usually does. I added these rosemary crackers from Kroger that I've been grooving on for quite a while.
Lo' back in the stone ages, when I was but a girl, I loved a TV show called Twin Peaks. If you haven't seen it, check it out. In one of the very first episodes, Jerry (who has been overseas) introduces his brother Ben to a butter and brie sandwich on a baguette. It sounded so good at the time, that I just had to try it. I'd never even had brie at that point. It was the most amazing thing I'd ever put in my plebeian mouth. I still love that combination and it's another of my comfort foods.
Fromager d'Affinois is like butter and brie already mixed together. It's creamy and mild and buttery and scrumptious. It is absolutely wonderful. This will definitely become one of my favorite cheeses, and I do lurves me some cheese.
After partaking of my cheese plate and a couple of cans of the "house wine" (otherwise known as Pepsi for me or Mountain Dew for Sparks) I felt a lot less frazzled. I went to bed and read for the next few hours until it was time for sleep. A very relaxing evening indeed!
I find myself craving Mexican food very often. Sometimes though, I really just want margaritas, the food is secondary. Yesterday was one of those cases. I had talked to the boyfriend about going out for tacos and when he asked me why I wanted to go I had to admit that I really just wanted a margarita. So, we decided to cook at home.
I love pinterest, especially since I have it on my phone. I can pin two or three recipes and pull them up on my phone much more quickly than if I'd had to bookmark or remember all the sites. I decided that I wanted to make steak tacos with Mexican street corn and grilled pineapple.
I started with a flat iron steak. I knew I was going to make chimichurri sauce to go with, so I wanted something that would complement that. I marinated the steak in lime juice, garlic, onion, salt, olive oil, cilantro stems (they have as much flavor and save the leaves for the chimichurri) and a little vinegar. I sort of based my marinade on the carne asada recipe on this page. I let that marinate for an hour before the boyfriend threw it on the grill. I made a chimichurri sauce based on this recipe and set that to the side.
If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would ever eat mayonnaise on corn, I would have told them that they were crazy. I credit my best friend for introducing this wonderful thing to me. I found a recipe for street corn on the same page as the carne asada. I was also eyeballing the crema de chipotle recipe on that page but decided that I didn't need two sauces for my beef. Instead, I took that idea and mixed it with the street corn idea. I mixed chipotles in adobo with lime juice and mayo. It was very tasty and had a sneaky afterburn. This we not only smeared on the grilled corn, but also a little on the steak tacos.
Finally, I sliced some fresh pineapple and the boyfriend grilled that, too.
So, we had carne asada tacos with chimichurri, grilled pineapple and Mexican street corn. Also a large pitcher of margaritas. I made the margaritas from scratch, I juiced so many limes that I got a cramp in my elbow! I think I'll stick to the margarita mix in the future - we like it more.
Tonight, we're having an almost repeat of last night. This time will be chicken though. I had leftover tortillas, pineapple, chimichurri, chipotles in adobo, and corn. I'm looking forward to it after last night's raging success.
I've cooked three times since Saturday and everything has turned out great! There's been a lot of happy belly rubbing in our house. On Saturday, I made chicken fajitas with Pioneer Woman's Pico de Gallo and guacamole. On Tuesday, I tried a pasta dish I found linked on Facebook and on Wednesday I made the Mexican Jambalaya my bff texted to me. I thought I'd share those recipes.
Most every work day I browse Pinterest. On the days that I skip lunch, I spend all afternoon obsessively looking at recipes. Yesterday was just such a day. I got it in my head that I was going to go home and make old school spaghetti with red meat sauce (Ragu and hamburger) but then this recipe jumped out at me.
I could very easily eat vegetarian meals half of each week. I'd still need bacon and the occasional bit of meat, but I'm fine not having meat with every meal. However, whenever I make some meatless pasta dish, Sparks is all "this would be great with some chicken in it!"
Yesterday being tuesday, I expected him to be shooting pool. However, they had the night off. So, he got stuck eating my meatless dinner. He didn't complain though, not about the meat. His only complaint was that there weren't enough veggies. This is because I looked at the amount of veggies on the pan and decided that I should cook the whole pound of pasta. Bad idea. It still tasted good, but it would have been a lot better had the ratio of veggies to pasta been a bit higher. So, don't do as I did, follow the recipe. At least sort of.
1 cup olive oil, divided
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
5 large plum tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large zucchini, cut into ½-inch chunks
2 summer squash, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 small onion, cut into ½-inch chunks
8 ounces whole grain angel hair pasta
¼ cup slivered fresh basil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper; mix well. Stir in tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and onion until evenly coated. Place in a single layer on rimmed baking sheets.
Bake 30 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and place in a large serving bowl. Add roasted vegetables and juices from pan; add basil and toss gently until evenly blended. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Notes: I changed up the veggies a little. I used a zucchini, a package of button mushrooms quartered, a vidalia onion, and yellow cherry tomatoes halved. It was a very tasty combo!
Sometimes when we discuss food that we grew up eating, Sparks laughs and asks how I managed to make it through childhood. There's all sorts of stuff that I didn't have growing up. I didn't eat hamburger helper until I was in my 20s. I didn't have manwich until I started dating Sparks. We just didn't eat that stuff, but I swear I can't remember what we did eat. I remember a lot of soup and burgers but I don't remember much else.
My mom hates to cook, maybe she always did. Now she seems to eat a goodly amount of canned soup. Other than the battles of the peas and lima beans, I can't tell you what I ate as a child. However, I was a fat kid as well as a fat adult, so obviously I was eating something.
Another thing I don't recall eating before (maybe I just blacked out all of the things I didn't like) was fried cabbage. I remember having cabbage rolls a few times, and I just ate the filling and left the cabbage. We also ate sauerkraut with hot dogs, so I guess it's kind of close.
A friend posted this recipe on facebook this week. It sounded good so I gave it a try. I liked it so much that I ate until I was stuffed to the gills.
FRIED CABBAGE WITH polish sausage
This is a quick and easy dish and makes a meal served with cornbread.
3 tablespoons bacon grease
1 small head of cabbage, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 of red pepper if you wanna
1 pound polish sausage, sliced into round pieces (I use smoked sausage)
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
few drops of hot sauce (optional)
Put bacon grease in large skillet. Add cabbage, onion, and red pepper if you use the red pepper and cook on medium high for about 5 minutes stirring to keep from sticking to pan. Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes.
Makes about 8 servings.
The cabbage picked up a lovely bacony flavor, how can you go wrong with that? It was also super easy, the only change I would make is to use the mandolin on the cabbage next time, it was it pretty big chunks. I also left out the red pepper - both because Sparks hates it and Wal-Mart didn't have any other than in 3 packs when I stopped to pick up the cabbage and sausage. This is definitely budget friendly, I got the cabbage and sausage for less than $5 and I already had everything else.
I'm even still crafting! Oh! The crafts! Sock monsters and ceramics and knitted things and tunisian crochet and felted items and hand spun yarn and Big Bob is finally in progress! I rarely take time to post anything more than a quick photo to fb before moving on to the next thing.
I got this recipe from my pop, he'd clipped it from the local paper. I made this for a barbecue I attended this weekend and it went over very well. So well that I must now share the recipe.
butter for greasing pan
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
3/4 cups powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
6 large eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
Heat over to 350F. Grease a 9 inch square pan. Combine 2 cups flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and blend with pastry blender or your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Press into greased pan, pushing dough all the way up the sides.
Bake until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes, then remove and reduce oven temperature to 315F.
Meanwhile, in another large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until smooth. Gently stir in lemon juice and zest. (To minimize aesthetically displeasing little bubbles on the top of the bars, avoid whisking further.) Fold in remaining 1/2 cup flour.
Pour egg mixture over hot crust and bake until curd is set and no longer jiggles when you move the pan, 35 to 45 minutes.
Cool thoroughly before cutting into bars. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. Makes 9 servings.
**Now, I did not follow this recipe exactly. I used a 9 x 13 pan, so my bars were a lot thinner and I actually liked them better than the original which were very thick. I kept an eye on the pan both trips through the oven, but didn't note exactly how long I left them in the oven. I also added more zest than it called for, I just zested all of the lemons that I used to get the proscribed amount of lemon juice.
I've gotten this really bad habit of buying new knitting needles every time I do a new project. This means that I have several of certain sizes. Surprisingly though, I have fewer needles than expected. Today, I made myself a caddy for my knitting needles/crochet hooks. I'm quite pleased. I'm also quite pleased with my sewing machine and the fact that I can sew through 8 layers of fabric without it complaining.
Here's the open caddy:
And here it is all rolled up, with a Moe beside it.
It was a quick project, using fabric from my stash. Yay for not having to purchase fabric!
As I have stated elsewhere, I popped into my local yarn shop the other night and saw this really neato demo scarf and declared that I must make it. My yarnmonger gave me a quick tutorial and set me free. I found the yarn rather awkward with my limited knitting skills, but I enjoyed it and am looking forward to making another one.
First, a picture of the finished scarf, wrapped around my neck several times as it is somewhere around 10 feet long.
Next, a picture of a single strand of the scarf. I swear it looks just like this tinsel we had on the Christmas tree when I was growing up.
Now, I have promised Miss Cara a tutorial of sorts and I will do the best I can with the whole 4 inches of yarn I have leftover.
First off, here's the label:
Here's what the yarn looks like:
You are to knit with that little ladder section along the top and keep the rest flat.
I was instructed to use a size five needle. I fear that this may have added to the awkwardness as I am not used to using anything this small. I mostly use an 8 minimum. Also, these are spiffy casein needles and are much slicker than the wooden/bamboo needles I usually prefer.
First up, fold the end over a couple of times and insert your needle, this hides any ugly end on the yarn.
From here on out, I'm going to undo that fold. Ya know, four inches for demo and all....
Pick up the first 5 sections of the ladder:
Next, start knitting into the next section, each ladder section is one stitch:
It's a simple garter stitch from there on out. I've tried to separate a couple of rows to show you what the inner bit looks like, but it's tough to do.
One thing I noticed, my scarf is much more compact than the original demo. Mine is more tinsel, it was more boa. Turns out that when I flipped the label over, there was a pattern. It's quite a bit different than what I did, but I really do like my tinsel scarf. For the next one, I'll most likely try this other pattern.
So, there ya go, my first ka-nitting tutorial. I hope it makes sense. If not, go visit Miss Stephanie at A Tangled Yarn and she will be most happy to show you how to do this. She was kind enough to help me out.