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

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!

23Jul/090

If I’d known you were coming…

For the last few weeks, Tastespotting has been filled with Rainbow Cakes (google them, you'll find a lot of images with great explanations). The colors call to me. I wanted to make my own, especially when I saw someone else make them into cupcakes. Besides, I needed to test out my oven, y'know.

I mixed up an ordinary cake mix. As someone else said, Betty Crocker's been doing it for many more years than me, she knows what she's doing. In this case it was Pillsbury, because they were cheapest. Just a plain white cake mix, done up per package directions.

I split the batter into six ramekins and played around with the food coloring a bit. I went too dark with my purple, it wound up more brown, but it was rather grey and adding more red just made it more brown. I gave up.

You can see there that I haven't even finished taking all the tools out of the kitchen, there's a level on the counter still!

I spooned a little of each batter into paper lined muffin cups, only making 12. I know, this mix should make 24, but I wanted big cupcakes and I only have one muffin pan. If you have more patience than me, you would carefully add the batter to the center and let it spread outward or whatever. I am more slapdash than that. I just randomly blooped it in.

Baked them (at the top end of the baking time since they're super sized) and they came out like this:

You know I couldn't wait for them to cool off before slicing into one.

*squeee* I'll top them with just some cool whip later, because that's what I wanted on them.

It's a plain white cake, it tastes like a plain white cake. It's just more fun.

21Apr/090

Bread pudding for Daddy

My poppakins, he lurves the bread pudding. I lurves to experiment in the kitchen. I had a half loaf of challah and a desire to be nice to the daddoo, so it was time to embark upon an adventure. Paula Dean would have spit it out with a patoo, not enough butter or sugar. I thought it was PERFECT. Both the pudding and the sauce were combinations of various recipes I found online.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Rip leftover bread into small pieces, it should be enough bread to fill an 8x8 dish.

In a saucepan over medium low heat, warm 2 cups of whole milk (with a little cream mixed in, I ran out of milk) with a half stick of salted butter. Just warm it until the butter melts.

In a bowl, whisk 3 eggs with 1/2 cup of white sugar. Slowly temper in the milk/butter mixture. Then stir in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon. Pour the mixture over the bread and mix it together. Then let it sit for 5 minutes to soak in. Stir it again and smooth it off. Place this pan into a larger one and fill halfway with hotwater. Bake for 45-50 minutes. It shouldn't be too dry, but shouldn't be jiggly either. My oven runs a bit slow, you might want to cut the time a bit.

When the pudding comes out of the oven, start the sauce. Over medium heat, melt 2 T butter and stir in 1/4 cup dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup light corn syrup. Let it boil for 1 minute then stir in 1/4 cup bourbon. Most folks will tell you to remove it from the heat before putting in the bourbon, but I never do and thusfar have not set myself on fire. Let's just say "do as I say, not as I do" like my mama would. Let it bubble for a minute or so, and remove from heat. Dish up the pudding and drizzle the sauce over the top. How much is up to you.

Way tasty - and this probably made 8 big servings. Or 4 for Dad.

18Sep/080

A conquered fear

Last night I finally beat my fear of the flame!

I flambeed bananas foster. Maybe they were a bit better for it, I'm not sure. Now that I don't have a big greasy range hood, I decided to give it a shot. I started a fire in the kitchen ON PURPOSE and the world did not end.

I'm quite happy with myself.

6Sep/080

cook something new day!

More experimentation for dinner. I decided to head to Fresh Market and let it inspire me for dinner.

Braised chicken sausages
Garlic green beans
couscous

and...

roasted brussel sprouts!

Go ahead, get all the icks out. I'd never had a brussel sprout, and honestly they didn't "look to suit me" as Pop would say. So, I'd recently decided that I wasn't to at least try one. I figure I'm fairly likely to get decent ones at fresh market.

I looked around online and found this recipe and gave it a try. I only deviated slightly - I added a spoonful of bacon grease in with the olive oil since I'd seen some tv chef saute them in bacon grease. I think I slightly undercooked them, they were still rather al dente, but they were quite tasty. Not going to become a favorite, but not completely out of the question either if I'm craving something different.

Sparks said they were the best brussel sprouts he'd ever had! Woot!

17Aug/080

Put ze bok-bok in ze pote!

Early this afternoon, I decided that I wanted to make a roast chicken. My friend Mari says that she always does hers in the crock pot and it's scrumptious. Ok, I'll give it a shot. But I had to go buy myself a crock pot. I didn't have one, just used dad's when I lived with him.

This was obviously the correct day to have this urge. I went to Meijer since they could provide me with both a chicken and a pot to cook it in, plus had pepsi products on sale. We likes the pepsi products around here. I found a 5.5 quart crock pot, normally $40, for $10. In addition to that, chickens were only $0.79 a pound! Whoooo!

I looked at several recipes, plus talked to Mari, then decided to just wing it. Hurr Hurr! I rubbed the chicken with olive oil and dumped in some herbs and salt and garlic cloves then decided to pour in a bit of chicken broth to keep it nice and moist. I cooked it on high for an hour, then switched to low like all the recipes told me to do. *rolls eyes* Gawds, it took blasted forever. 6 hours of cook time and still the juices did not run clear! So, I cranked up the oven to 375F and slid the chicken in for just shy of an hour.

While it was cooking, I boiled up some baby red potatoes with a few cloves of garlic thrown in. We love garlic! I mashed those when they were done. I also boiled some baby carrots and glazed them with butter and maple syrup. From the broth/drippings left in the crock pot, I made a gravy.

Oh my gawd! So worth the wait! But I really wish it had been finished before 11:30 pm. Now I'm sleepy and so full that I think I might barf if I tried to be horizontal. Sorry no pictures, but by the time it was finished we were so hungry that we dived on it like a couple of crazed velociraptors!

7Aug/080

Don’t cry for me, intarwebz!

One of my absolute worst habits is the wasting of food. It's obscene, the amount of food that rots in my fridge while I eat microwave popcorn.

I think part of it is that I have good intentions. One of the things that I wind up throwing away the most of is bagged salads. I buy a bag, eat one salad out of it, then don't want salad again for two weeks.

Another bad influence on my waste is the farmer's market. Saturday is the only day to really hit the farmer's market, there's not nearly as many vendors there on tuesdays and thursdays. So, I see all of these great veggies that look amazing and I buy more than I can eat that day. Then I forget about my purchases until the next weekend, when they are way yuck.

Tonight, though, I rescued a whole bunch of things that might have been forgotten if not for the fact that I skipped lunch and spent my last hour of work thinking about what I wanted for dinner. Sparks says, "Spaghetti? You can't do better than that after the great dinner you made last night?"

Don't mourn for poor Ysha, babies and darlings. This was no sauce from a jar with greyish hamburger.

I started with a package of cherry tomatoes (they were on sale at Kroger last week for a dollar!) and half a bulb of garlic. I cleaned the tomatoes and separated the garlic cloves, tossing them all with olive oil and kosher salt and tossed them in the oven for 30 minutes at 400F. The garlic was soft and yummy, but the tomatoes weren't done yet, so I put them back for about another 20 minutes while I got started on the rest of my sauce.

I cleaned a quarter pound of chanterelle mushrooms (farmer's market last saturday) and sauteed them in a tablespoon of butter. Oh yes, Paula Dean fans, we cook with butter around here! I tossed in a little salt and then hit them with a half cup or so of leftover shiraz that I was keeping around to cook with. I mashed the garlic out of the skins and turned it into a paste, which was tossed in with the mushrooms. I also dumped in the tomatoes at the point and squished them with the spatula. I decided the sauce looked a bit dry, so I dumped in a bit of chicken stock (for that simmered all day taste, says Rachel Ray. whatevs, says I.) I boiled up a big handful of angel hair pasta while this was going on and chopped up a big handful of basil leaves (farmer's market last saturday). I mixed probably 2/3 of the basil in with the sauce to simmer.

When the pasta was done I drained it and tossed it with a tablespoon of butter. Then topped it with the sauce, a handful of parmesan cheese and the rest of the basil.

And hey look! A picture! GET OUT!

I took 8 pictures of a bowl of pasta, just to get one that wasn't horrid.

Just for reference, that bowl would feed two adults, probably 3 if you threw in a salad and bit of bread. I ate almost half of it before I was stuffed to the gills.

12Jul/080

3 days of yummy dinners

Let's talk bellyfiller. You know, one of my favorite subjects - food.

On Thursday night, I stopped to pick up some hamburger so that we could grill out. Kroger had some lovely avacados and I thought I'd be sweet to my adorable boyfriend. So, I came home and mixed up some guacamole that he could then slather on his burger (pressing some bacon bits and jalapeno slices into the pile of guacamole. Ysha says yuk, but Sparks loves it.) With the burgers we had fried potatoes (I don't recommend trying to fry new potatoes, they don't brown. But it's what I had on hand.) and sauteed zucchini.

Last night, the boyfriend was working and I was craving Indian food. Big mistake, allowing myself into Tandoor all alone and hungry. I spent $40 on take out and came home for a feast of paneer pakora, papdums, onion chutney, vegetable korma, chicken mahkani, and garlic naan. I barely made a dent in the Vegetable Korma (my favorite) or Chicken Makhani (it looked rather like the "butter chicken" that I'd just watched the recipe for) but they were so yummy. Sparks had some for dinner when he got home around midnight. We've got a ton of leftovers, so I could probably eat it for lunches/dinners for several days. But I'd better not get burned out on it, I'm supposed to go back over there with some friends late in the week.

Tonight, I marinated a couple of tuna steaks in a combination of old bay and lime juice, then Sparks grilled them. I also threw together a corn and bean salad and a small bit of couscous. We topped the tuna steaks with the leftover guacamole. This was the best idea I've had for a while. It adds a bit of moisture to an otherwise dry fish but tastes better with tuna than tartar sauce. Sparks sat around rubbing his tummy and telling me what a wonderful dinner that was for a full hour after we'd finished eating it.