Demented Ramblings life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar

23Feb/190

a tiny light in the darkness

I don't want to jinx anything, but I may be ascending from the depression. At least slightly. At least, I made a craft project and have cooked a couple of good meals. I am putting in some effort!

Let's do this in chronological order, shall we?

Valentine's Day marked mine and Sparks' 13th dating anniversary. I know we have a wedding anniversary, and we celebrate that too, but we still celebrate the first anniversary. I decided that I wanted to make scallops for dinner. Fresh Market complied by having some gorgeous sea scallops. I seared those and made a beurre blanc. I sort of lazied out on the beurre blanc though and didn't strain it. We both like shallots though, so I didn't see it being a big deal. And it wasn't. I also roasted some asparagus and made a quick couscous. At least this time I didn't brown the butter while making the sauce. While I was making dinner, Sparks cleaned off the end of the table so that we could eat at the table "like fucking adults" (my words, not his). The beurre blanc was so good that I just ladled it over the whole plate. It's good with seafood, it's good with asparagus, and couscous always benefits from a sauce. Scrumptious! Followed it up with tiramisu from the bakery counter of Fresh Market. I love Fresh Market!

Then, while the table was still mostly cleaned off, I decided to finally start on the quilt I'd been wanting to work on for a while. My cousin was about to become a grandma! If she wasn't already older than me, this would seal the deal. It's been a while since I was excited about a craft project, but cousin's daughter is a barrel racing cowgirl and was about to have a little cowgirl of her own. I wanted to do a cowgirl themed quilt. I found some fabric on Etsy that fit the bill. So, this past weekend, I threw together a Trip Around The World quilt. Here's the photos over on instagram! I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I dropped it at the post office on Tuesday and it arrived right after baby girl did!

I moved the sewing machine and stuff so that we could eat at the table like adults again. Last night, I was feeling steaks. That always means another trip to Fresh Market, their butcher counter is lovely! I got a couple of chateaubriand cut filet mignons. Filet is my steak of choice, I won't eat fat and get grossed out if any of it touches my tongue, so I just avoid it as much as possible by doing filet. I cook them simply, just sear both sides and slide them in the oven with a meat thermometer. It seems that if I cook them to 135, they carry over just enough to be a good medium. That would gross out my mom (she likes hers well done) but it's perfect for Sparks and me. While the steaks were in the oven, I made balsamic mushrooms. I'll copy the recipe below, I definitely don't want to lose this one like I have some others on the intarwebs. And kismet! TFM had organic baby bellas for $1 a package! While the steaks were resting, I made a cognac cream sauce to go over them. It was good, but made way too much. I think next time I'll just add enough cream to the pan to make sauce, not the whole carton. It also wouldn't take as long to cook down that way. Add to all this a couple of bakers with butter and sour cream. The steaks were so good that Sparks threatened to weep. *laughs* No fancy dessert this time, but we had some Entemann's chocolate doughnuts in the kitchen.

I woke up this morning excited to come update my blog. Maybe I'm not dead, after all.

Balsamic Mushrooms and Onions

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound white button mushrooms halved
1 onion sliced
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Instructions

- In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and onion; sprinkle with salt and stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook until liquid is released from mushrooms, about 5 – 7 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms and onions are softened and browned, about 3 -5 minutes.
- Add balsamic vinegar and stir until mushrooms and onions are coated evenly and the vinegar is heated through.

25Jan/190

dead from lack of interest

I think the depression has a serious hold on me. It seems that no matter how much wellbutrin I take, it keeps it's hold. Today though, I feel a bit perky. Probably because for the first time in months things at work are going my way.

Life on the homefront is quiet. I'm too quiet, mom says. I just don't seem to have an interest in anything. No craft project has called to me since the wedding flowers, which I think I didn't even bother posting. I made gorgeous paper flowers which I turned into a bouquet with some brooches. But since then, not much of anything. I've even given up knit night. But a big part of that is this newfound driving anxiety that plagues me. Plus, I don't see so well after dark these days. My eyes are getting old.

Man, I'm just a bucket of sunshine.

But last night I was struck with dinner inspiration. I love when I get inspired to use up leftovers. Back over the weekend, I made a standing rib roast. It was delicious but pricey and we only ate about half of it. I thought about making a stew with it, but last night got an inspiration to make beef stroganoff. It's one of the husband's favorite things. Let me tell you, prime rib stroganoff is where it's at! I turned that leftover meat which probably would have been left to rot into another meal, that's awesome.

No recipe, I just sort of winged it. That's my favorite way to cook anyway.

13Mar/170

sweet chili burning

Ok, the burning only occurs when one adds Sriracha, aka Hipster Ketchup. Otherwise it's just sweet and garlicky and yum.

I found this recipe via pinterest and have been eyeballing it for a couple of weeks. I finally decided that it was time to make it and Kroger had just the amount of precleaned shrimp that I needed. Kismet! Sparks and I both went back for seconds! Then, a couple of days later, I repeated the recipe with chicken.

I made some changes, adding vegetation. Here's my final recipe:

  • 1 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon butter (stovetop version only)
  • julienned sweet bell pepper
  • sliced green onion (4)
  • snow peas, trimmed
  • Asian Sweet Chili Marinade

  • 1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (like Mae Ploy)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Glaze:

  • Reserved marinade (in directions)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Garnish

  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • sriracha to taste
  • sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the Asian Sweet Chili Marinade Ingredients. Measure out 1/4 cup and add this to a large freezer bag along with shrimp (the remaining Marinade will become your Glaze). Marinate 30-60 minutes.
  2. STOVETOP DIRECTIONS: Stir-fry veggies until tender in a tablespoon of butter. Remove to a plate.
  3. Melt butter in a large wok over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook just until opaque, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp to a plate.
  4. Whisk 1/4 cup water and 2 teaspoons cornstarch to the reserved Marinade/Glaze. Add to wok and simmer until thickened. Add shrimp and veggies and toss to combine.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in sriracha for more heat if desired. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro (optional).
7Dec/143

Stuffed Bread

Back in the mid to late 80s, there was an Italian restaurant in town called Enza's. I never set foot in the place, but every so often my Pop would bring home a loaf of their stuffed bread for dinner. Enza's has existed in Lexington at various times over the years, most recently they were in Eastland Shopping Center, but they're gone from there now too. Internet research tells me the owner was Enza Morris. The stuffed bread is a loaf of white bread containing 3 meats (at least when my Dad picked them up) and some cheese. You eat it with their marinara sauce.

For the last week or two, stuffed bread has been on my mind. I used to make it back in the mid nineties, and I think I did a fairly good job. I don't think I've made it for the last 20ish years though. I probably burned myself out on it at some point, and then it just disappeared from my brain. I got to the point on friday that I was totally obsessing about it, so I knew for sure that I'd have to make it this weekend. Turns out, I had to make it twice.

The biggest problem with stuffed bread is that you have to know several hours ahead that you want it. It's not hard to make, just time intensive.

It's more method than recipe. So, I'm going to give you the step by step. Some of my pics are sideways, and some of them out of focus, but you're getting them anyway. I'm sure you'll get the drift.

13Oct/140

Salt crusted potatoes

Recently, on some cooking show or other, (I watch a lot of them) we saw salt crusted potatoes. On friday, we attempted them. Super easy and very yummy.

Start with some small potatoes. I think that the recipe I found called for fingerlings. I used some sort of small golden potato that Kroger had. Put them in a saucepan with enough water to cover and a handful of kosher salt. Boil until done, then pour off most of the water and return to heat. Continue cooking (but watch so they don't burn) until the water has all evaporated and the salt is sticking to the potatoes. Scrumptious!

The recipe I found called for brushing off most of the salt. We didn't do that. We also didn't make up any sort of weird sauce to go with. We just ate them with a little butter.

I will definitely have to remember this one, it was so easy.

27Oct/131

40 garlic chicken

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.

17Aug/130

constant craving

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.

20Jun/130

A week of good eating!

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.

7Jun/100

another post already? are you ok?

We went to a bbq this weekend with lots of Sparks' old (and my not so old) friends. We took a bean salad as a side dish – it got rave reviews from the darling Robin. This is just something I made up once upon a time and it's always a work in progress or as Sparks calls it “a moving target” but I've got the basics down.

It all started because I needed a side dish for a Cinco de Mayo bbq. Plus I was looking for something with no mayo so it would be safe to sit outdoors all day if need be. I like pasta salads, but the pasta seems to get too mushy after sitting in the dressing for a while. I was all - “hey, I have these canned beans, wonder what I can do with them....”

I'm throwing this recipe together off the top of my head and all amounts are of course to be changed for number of people and your personal taste. This recipe makes a good sized bowl, enough for a group. Or change up the kinds of beans to fit your tastes. Someone said that garbonzo beans have a weird texture – leave them out if you don't like them, or add more if you love them. I like the contrast of texture

3 cans of black beans, rinsed
1 can garbonzo beans, rinsed
2 large jalapenos, minced
1 small red onion, minced
1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped

That's it for the salad. Then you dress it. Sometimes I just throw on some lime juice and salt. This last time I made a honey lime vinagrette to try to counter some of the heat since the jalapenos were setting my lips on fire.

2 tbls honey
juice of 2 limes
olive oil (I dunno, enough. I put enough in to just about double the volume in the jar I was using to mix in)
salt, a couple of healthy pinches – you rinsed all the salt off the beans

shake to combine and pour some over the salad. Stir and taste, keep adding the dressing until it's enough. I used almost all of it.

A big plus to this – other than the olive oil you really don't have any fat. Or not much, there's not much in canned beans. And olive oil is supposed to be a healthy fat. So yay! It's got to be a healthy alternative to the sugar/bacon laden baked beans of my youth. (I'm not knocking those, I like those too, I just like these better.)

29Sep/090

you put WHAT in the soup?

I am probably the only person I know who will make soup with filet mignon.

Several months ago, I bought a whole beef tenderloin. I trimmed the chain off and cut it into small bits and put it into a baggie in the freezer. I also cut several small steaks and put them in the freezer.

Flash forward to last week. Mum and I went to Malone's for lunch and I had their steak and potato soup. I feared that it might be a cream of potato soup with steak bits in it. Nope, it was just what I was hoping for - a beef base with steak pieces and cubes of potato. Yummy, but I can do better.

Today, I called and asked the boyfriend to dig out that baggie of steak bits for me - not thinking that when frozen, gobs of meat all look rather similar. He put down the bits and a couple of small steaks too. That's ok, it'll all go in the pot!

I called pop and asked him if he'd come over and help me install a peephole in my front door, I bribed him with promises of dinner. Luckily, it turned out well. As usual, my cooking is all method and no recipe. I'll make a great grandma someday. ("I dunno, honey, a little of this and a little of that.")

I cut the meat into bite sized pieces and dropped it into a hot soup pot with a little olive oil. While it was browning a bit I chopped 1 onion and 3 cloves of garlic and added them. Then I cubed 2 baking potatoes into small pieces and added that. Dumped in a 32 oz carton of beef broth and then decided that wasn't enough liquid. I dropped in two beef bouillion cubes and two cups of water, whatever worchestershire was left in the fridge (maybe a tablespoon) a little merlot steak sauce (maybe another tablespoon), a couple healthy pinches of salt and a palmful of montreal steak seasoning. Then I cranked the heat and put a lid on it, letting it boil happily while dad and I worked on the door. A half hour or so later it was done - the steak was tender and so were the potatoes. We dished it up and had a little toast with garlic butter on the side.

TASTY!

And plenty left for lunch tomorrow! Super yay!