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

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.

17May/080

Experiments with pears

Well, well, now. That was one damned tasty dinner. My camera is still packed away someplace. I shoved all clutter into the spare room and closed the door. Much easier than actually cleaning the house enough to have company.

3Apr/080

Fridge cleaning

Whenever I have a party, there are leftovers out the wazoo. I was raised by a bunch of women who think that they must feed the entire Marine Corps whenever they have company. My friends were obviously raised by folks with the same viewpoint. Therefore, we can put out a serious spread. This is why I've been eating crackers and dips all week for breakfast and lunch.

There was a veggie tray brought to my party and as always the carrots and cauliflower get hit pretty hard, but not much else. Tonight I have decided to make use of the big pile of grape tomatoes left over.

I tossed them into a pan with olive oil and salt and an entire head of garlic broken into its separate cloves. Stuck them in the oven at 400ish degrees (I set the oven to 400, the thermometer said that it was more like 360) and left them in there for a half hour. I came along 2 or 3 times to give them a shake during the cooking.

I mashed the garlic out of it's skin and squished it up. Yes, squished is a culinary term! *snicker* Then put it into a bowl with the roasty tomatoes and squished them up with a fork. Added some salt and a few dried herbs. Yummo as that blasted Rachel Ray would say (she's currently on my tv).

I've got water on the stove to boil up some pasta. I plan to throw this together and hey - free dinner!

Ok, not quite, but it all came from the pantry/leftovers and did not require me to go to the store. Besides, if I weren't using the tomatoes in this fashion, they'd probably be thrown out in another day or two as I do not like raw tomatoes.

I'd considered adding a bit of wine and cream and making a schmancier sauce but I was afraid I'd mess it up. It's damn near perfect right now.

I haven't found my camera yet since moving, so no pictures. But it's not all that pretty anyway.

14Jan/081

1 chicken= 3 meals

On friday, I bought a rotisserie chicken at the grocery. I get those occasionally and usually eat one breast off of it and the rest of the chicken rots in the fridge. Not this time!

So, on friday night, I had a nibbly meal with chicken and cheese and fruit and olives and bread. Yum!

Last night I stripped all of the chicken off of the carcass and threw it into a pan with a can of chicken broth and started simmering it. I tossed in a bit of seasoning, a shallot, 1 garlic clove, and a can of chopped chiles. I cooked it until the chicken broth was mostly evaporated/soaked into the chicken (softening it, as it was a bit overcooked and tough) then added a can of black beans. This I spooned over rice.

Tonight, I sauteed an onion, mixed half of it with the chicken and rice and set the rest aside. Then I made a quick chicken gravy from canned chicken broth. Half of that went into the chicken and rice and the reserved onions went into the other half and set aside for a moment. I spooned the chicken/rice/gravy mixture into tortillas and rolled them up. After all the enchiladas were rolled up, I topped them with the reserved gravy/sauce/whatever and baked them for a half hour.

And still tonight, it was too much food. If we'd made a side dish of some sort, there would have easily been enough for 3. But we didn't think they'd reheat for doodly, so pop stuffed himself to the gills and I ate as much as I could without making myself ill.

To sum up. One chicken turned into a plate full of nibblies, chicken etoufee of sorts, and chicken enchiladas. Aw yeah!

8Jul/070

Too many!

Ack! What to do with a plethora of tomatoes!

Have I ever mentioned here that I really don't like tomatoes? It used to be a full on hatred, but I've been teaching myself tomato tolerance for the last few years. I still don't want to just pick a tomato fresh from the garden and bite into it, but I'm finding things to do to them that make me love them.

Twice this week, I made pizza - roasting the tomatoes first on the grill. Then on friday I threw together a quick tomato salad to go beside the burgers that we had for dinner.

I quartered cherry tomatoes, diced up a couple of slices of red onion, and minced a garlic clove. This was tossed with seasoned salt, lemon juice and olive oil. It was pretty danged tasty, I ate and even enjoyed a bit of it.

All of these tomatoes have my reflux kicking up something severe.

13Jun/070

Not just once, but twice

Twice this week (and it's only Wednesday!) I've cooked and it's turned out well. Even better than that, I even remembered to take pictures. I might turn into a foodblogger yet!

There was nothing terribly groundbreaking about Monday night's dinner. These were rehashed recipes, but thrown together in a new combination.

Here we have grilled tuna steak which was marinated in lime juice, olive oil, and Old Bay. Corn on the cob done in my new favorite way - grilled with lime, salt, and cayenne. And a quick bean salad consisting of canned (rinsed) beans, minced onion, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic, olive oil and cilantro.

Tonight I got a bit more adventurous.

Mustard crusted grilled pork tenderloin with mustard dill sauce, honey glazed sweet potato, and grilled asparagus. I found the recipe for the pork online somewhere and really liked it for its simplicity. Coat a pork tenderloin with a jar of stone ground mustard and 2-3 tsps of kosher salt. I only used half a jar of mustard since I only used one of the tenderloins in the package. Place the tenderloin on the grill (lowest setting) for 20 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until it reaches 165 F.

The asparagus has become a standby around here. We love it! If you've never grilled asparagus, I recommend getting to it. Toss trimmed asparagus spears with olive oil and kosher salt and place on the grill. I leave them there until they get a little blackened in spots.

Finally, the sweet potatoes. I had no recipe for these, just pulled something out of my head. It was mildly based on the fried sweet potatoes that my gran used to make for Pop. I peeled a sweet potato and sliced it into large slabs. These were placed on the grill for 10 or so minutes, until they looked ready to flip. After flipping them, I brushed warmed honey onto the top side. Once I thought the other side was about done, I flipped them again and brushed honey on the other side, giving it a few more minutes on the grill for the honey to sort of carmelize.

While everything else was cooking (believe me when I say I was running back and forth like crazy) I made a mustard dill sauce in the kitchen. I got the recipe from Get Saucy, a cookbook I have on hand. I had feared that the pork would be dry, as I tend to cook the daylights out of either pork or chicked because I seem to have some deep seated fear of undercooked meat (except beef, which I prefer medium). However, by cooking the pork slowly over very low heat, it was quite moist. The sauce was a great complement for it though.