Friday, October 31, 2008

Here's the rub
--Chamberlain's Steak Rub

Chamberlain's Steak Rub
The Healthy Beef Cookbook Copyright 2006

1/4 cup kosher salt or 3 tablespoons table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon coarse grind black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, crushed

1. Combine all ingredients in small bowl; blend well. Store in airtight
container until ready to use.
2. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons rub for each 8 ounce beef steak and 2 to 4 teaspoons
rub per pound of beef roast. Press evenly onto steak or onto all surfaces of beef roast before cooking.

Makes about 1 cup rub.

I'm getting a bit bored with marinades on this blog and you probably are too. I decided to try a rub this time. My spice cupboard runneth over so I'm always on the lookout for recipes that use a lot of dried spices. I especially liked that this one called for dried chipotle since I don't find that many recipes calling for it (most call for canned chipotle).

I'm glad I liked this because it made about a cup and I wasn't smart enough to halve the recipe. I look forward to using it again. I don't think the beef people who put out this cookbook would want to tell you this, but I think it would be great on grilled chicken or pork too. It's got the smokiness and heat from the chipotle but it's not too overpowering. Hmm, I might even try some on roasted potatoes.

This cut was labeled London Broil but I think it's just some type of sirloin. It was buy one get one free.

Let's recap the week, if I can remember.

Monday we had Savory Pork Pot Roast and corn on the cob.

Tuesday we had a rerun - grilled Dutch Meatloaf. I was hoping to get a better picture this time but time got away from me. We had mashed potatoes and corn with that (I know, corn two days in a row but my son loves corn, especially with mashed potatoes since I taught him how to use the potatoes to pick up the corn.)

Wednesday we had smoked sausage in pasta sauce over (Smart Taste) rotini. I love smoked sausage cooked in pasta sauce. I used to free-style that one quite a bit, usually with onions and peppers but I kept it simple this time.

Last night we had this steak, with french fries and green beans.

Salad was available every night too.

Tonight will be pizza. I made the 1 1/2 pound recipe of my current favorite pizza dough. My machine barely handled it but it did. I'm in the mood for a thicker crust.


Question of the Day: Are you dressing up for Halloween? When is the last time you dressed up for Halloween? I seriously don't remember. I remember going to a 70s party about 12 years ago that may have been on Halloween. I didn't get too wild - bell bottoms, t-shirt and I wore my hair as straight as I could. In college I remember dressing up as Zoro, sort of (cape, mask). Oh wait, I remember now, I was a farmer (for work) in '97. Overalls, straw hat. I'm pretty sure that was the last time I dressed up for Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trick or Treat

Tonight is Trick or Treat Night. Try explaining to an almost 5-year old why children don't trick or treat on Halloween proper. Even I don't understand why that is but apparently in this area, it's just not allowed.

I had nothing to post today so I thought I'd find some Halloween pictures since, for all intents and purposes, it is Halloween here tonight.

I made these cookies for my son's first Halloween party at school (now, they have 'Fall Celebrations' instead of Halloween parties). They came out awesome. I've never been able to get that same glaze recipe to set like that again.

This was another attempt at cookies where I resorted to almond bark and I was NOT pleased at all with the results:

These are three of my older son's past costumes. He didn't want one this year and frankly, I was thrilled to not have to spend the money for a costume he would usually only keep on long enough for me to take a picture (and then maybe even not that long - I can't find a picture of his giraffe costume). He may look happy in these pictures but believe me, except for the first one, he wasn't.

First Halloween in '04 (and that is not poop in that picture! I think it's a foot from another child's animal costume.):

Halloween in '06:

Halloween in '07:

I'll be back tomorrow if I get a chance to document what I'm making for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

They're growing on me
--Devil Dogs

Devil Dogs
Home Cooking 2005 Recipe Annual Copyright 2005

½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ (7-ounce) jar marshmallow crème
Red and yellow food coloring
Halloween nonpareils (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add cocoa powder; beat well.

Sift together flour and baking powder, Add to cocoa powder mixture alternately with milk. Mix well. Add vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Flatten a little. (They don't really spread or flatten on their own very much so take that into account.) Bake for 5 to 7 minutes.

For filling, beat together butter, vanilla, confectioners’ sugar and marshmallow crème. Tint filling orange using red and yellow food coloring. Spread on cookie. Top with another cookie. Decorate edges with nonpareils.

When I started making these cookies and realized there was no egg in them, I panicked. Was it a mistake? True Devil Dog snack cakes have a weird texture so perhaps that's what this recipe is aiming for. They really didn't taste that good on their own, to be honest. However, with the delicious cream in the middle, it was harder to notice. I actually started craving these and they started tasting better to me.

With so many other similar recipes for whoopie pie, gobs, etc. that actually have better tasting cookies, I probably wouldn't make this same exact cookie recipe again but the filling was mighty fine.

If you can track down vegan marshmallow creme (which does exist), I think these would be egg-free and these would be great for anyone who can't use eggs (depending on how good the vegan marshmallow creme tastes).

I may not have anything to post tomorrow and I have to get the house ready for trick-or-treaters on Thursday night (yes, Thursday - don't ask, it's a regional thing).

Question of the Day: Are you handing out treats this year? What are you handing out? I bought Halloween packs of Oreos and Teddy Grahams. I figure if we don't get many trick or treaters, I can use them in my son's lunches. I also bought a big bag of small boxes of Mike & Ike's, Hot Tamales, etc. Each T&T'er will get one package of Oreos or Teddy Grahams and a box of candy. I have enough for about 60-70 kids but they're doing a Trunk or Treat in the park so I don't know if we'll get as many kids this year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I love surpises
--Savory Pork Pot Roast

Savory Pork Pot Roast
Cheap. Fast. Good! Copyright 2005

1 boneless pork loin (3 to 3 ½ pounds) My roast was smaller
4 medium-size potatoes
2 medium-size onions
2 medium-size ribs celery
3 medium-size carrots or 1 cup (about 12) baby carrots
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup dry wine or apple juice I used apple cider
¼ cup ketchup
Juice of 1 lime I used a splash of bottled lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced, or 1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt

1. Trim off and discard any excess fat from the roast and place it in a 5-quart or larger slow cooker. Peel (I didn't) and quarter the potatoes and add them, making sure they are at the bottom of the pot. Peel the onions and cut them in half. Cut each half into crescent-shaped slices about ½-inch thick. Put the onions in the pot. Cut the celery and carrots into 1-inch long pieces. (If using baby carrots, there’s no need to cut.) Add them to the pot.
2. In a 1-quart container or glass measure, whisk together the orange juice, wine, ketchup, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and salt. Pour the mixture over the meat and vegetables. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the roast and vegetables are very tender, 8 to 10 hours. I cooked it on high for less time.

When I cook something the night before I'm serving it, I sometimes get really excited about eating it when it looks like it's going to be really good. Other times, I spend the entire next day thinking I don't want to go home and eat that slop for dinner.

I wasn't excited about eating this. For one thing, my mother-in-law made beef pot roast with carrots and potatoes for Sunday dinner so it was going to be somewhat repetitive to have this on Monday night. For another thing, I just didn't think this was going to taste very good. I spent all day trying to think of ways to doctor it up. I was considering removing the orange-flavored liquid and making gravy. I thought the meat might be stringy too - pork loin is touchy in the slow cooker since it's so lean.

However, when I took it out of the fridge and opened up the container, it looked good. The liquid was very gelatinous - usually a good sign of a rich flavorful broth. I tasted it and it tasted really good. So I just sliced the meat (which was tender and not stringy) and heated this up gently on the stovetop and, end of story - there were no leftovers. I was shocked and pleased that this recipe wasn't the disaster I thought it was going to be. It was darn good.

In another surprise I bought some fresh sweet corn to go along with this that was very, very good. So good, my husband who often passes on sweet corn altogether, ate two ears of it. Last week we had roasted sweet corn on a farm and it was the best ear of corn I've ever eaten in my life. Where is this great corn coming from in late October?

This cookbook was from the library. It focuses on cheap eating, obviously. And fast too - although this recipes isn't fast, you're supposed to save half of the roast for other 'quick' recipes but I used a smaller roast so there were no leftovers. This was relatively inexpensive although have you seen the price of potatoes lately? I think I paid close to $5 for a bag of them. I don't often buy bags of potatoes but I could swear that they used to cost less. There were cheaper options if I wanted rotting or green potatoes. I know I could get cheaper at the auction but I'm done with the auction until spring. I only needed a couple but they didn't have any loose potatoes for sale in my grocery store.

I bought the roast on markdown so that wasn't expensive. Pork loin pops up for $1.99/pound quite often and occasionally even less. It's rare to find a cut of beef to pot roast at that price. You do need to be careful though - like I said pork loin is touchy in the crock pot.

Question of the Day: What is your favorite potato recipe?

Monday, October 27, 2008

A rare Cookbook Junkie soup recipe
--Busy Day Luncheon Soup

Busy Day Luncheon Soup
The Complete Everyday Cookbook Copyright 1971

1 pound ground beef
2 ¼ cups tomato juice
1 ½ cups diced potato
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup uncooked rice
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
5 cups water

Crumble ground beef and place with remaining ingredients in a large kettle. Cover and simmer one hour. Serve with toast.

Makes 8 servings.

My son has started to show an interest in soup so expect to see more of it here. I haven't made much soup the past few years. I think that's because I used to make a huge batch of it and then get sick of eating the same soup over and over. I'm going to try to make more manageable batches from now on.

While I enjoyed the flavor of this soup (after adding a bit more salt), the texture was sort of dog-foodish since the meat wasn't browned first. It didn't help that I was having computer troubles and while I was on the phone with tech support, the soup got a bit overcooked. Also, I added too much rice so it came out as more of a stew.

My son liked it though (he didn't eat the potatoes). My husband ate two huge bowls. There wasn't much left over.

I would probably make this again for a quick meal but I would probably brown the beef first and stick to the amount of rice called for in the recipe.

Gotta run. My son is getting his flu shot today which is a huge production since he once tested positive to being allergic to eggs. The allergist is doing a skin prick test so we may be one step closer to being able to make more egg-intensive dishes once again. I've been avoiding quiches, custards and things like that.

Question of the Day: When was the last time you ate soup? What kind of soup was it?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Those thieving Red Hat Ladies
--Whiskey-Glazed Pork Chops

Whiskey-Glazed Pork Chops
The Red Hat Society Cookbook Copyright 2006

1/2 cup sour mash or bourbon whiskey
1/2 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
4 bone-in center-cut pork chops, about 1 inch thick I used boneless chops
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. Whisk the whiskey or bourbon, cider, brown sugar, mustard, cayenne, vanilla, and 2 teaspoons of the vinegar together in a medium bowl. Transfer 1/4 cup of the whiskey mixture to a gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, add the pork chops, press the air out of the bag, and seal. Turn the bag to coat the chops with the marinade and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Reserve the remaining whiskey mixture.

2. Remove the chops from the bag, pat dry with paper towels, and discard the marinade. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until just beginning to smoke. Season the chops with salt and pepper and cook until well browned on both sides and a peek into the thickest part of a chop using a paring knife reveals still-pink meat 1/4 inch from the surface, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a plate and cover tightly with foil.

3. Add the reserved whiskey mixture to the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced to a thick glaze, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and, holding on to the chops, tip the plate to add any accumulated juices back to the skillet. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar, whisk in the butter, and simmer the glaze until thick and sticky, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

4. Return the chops to the skillet and let rest in the pan until the sauce clings to the chops, turning them occasionally to coat both sides, and a peek into the thickest part of the pork chop using a pairing knife shows completely cooked meat (145ºF on an instant-read thermometer), about 5 minutes. Transfer the chops to a platter and spoon the sauce over the meat. Serve.

This picture doesn't do these pork chops justice. The glaze was thicker than it looks here, although it did take a bit more time to get there than the recipe called for. These were delicious. That hint of vanilla was a great touch that I certainly would never have thought of on my own. Like many glazes, I was dubious until the very end. Until the glaze was reduced with the pan juices and butter, I was thinking these might just be edible but I was happily surprised that they were a bona fide hit as far as I'm concerned (and no one else was complaining either!)

As usual, before sitting out to type the recipe, I did a Google search to see if someone else out there had already done the typing for me. Someone had, of course. That little exercise saves me time but it also lets me know how completely unoriginal I am when I find that the recipe is everywhere!

Turns out this recipe, just about word for word as far as I can see, is from one of the ATK cookbooks. I know how rabid they are about bloggers copying their recipes so I wonder if they've gone after the Red Hat Ladies? I don't actually have the ATK cookbook this is from so as far as I know, this is a Red Hat Ladies recipe.

This is a good example of why I feel right about printing recipes out of cookbooks and giving them credit. Changing a few words and/or leaving out the source entirely may remove any copyright questions but I feel that if the recipes are going to get out there anyway (which they are), why not give the cookbook the credit? Truly, in most cases the recipes that I make are not original to one cookbook so how could I feel bad at all about posting those generic recipes, especially when I'm not making any money off of them?

Time for the weekly recap.

Monday we had burgers and fries. I picked up some all-natural 1/3 pound burgers on a buy one get one free. They weren't bad for a frozen burger and at $2.50/pound for all-natural, hormone-free and antibiotic-free beef that I just had to throw on the grill, not a bad deal.

Tuesday we had a rerun, Bourbon Chicken (inspired by Jamie who made another version of Bourbon Chicken recently).

I used some dark and some white meat. I hate working with boneless chicken thighs - too much 'stuff' on them. But, I think the flavor of the dark meat is superior to white meat in this recipe. I doubled the sauce this time.

Wednesday we had that fantastic Ravioli Lasagna.

Last night we had these pork chops with some green beans and a packaged broccoli-cheddar rice. We almost never eat those packaged sides but I was stumped for a side and ran out at lunch and grabbed the rice mix. I only have a drugstore to shop in near work so my options were limited but that sounded better than the choices I had at home (plain noodles, plain rice or plain potatoes).

Tonight is pizza night. Turkey pepperoni is the current topping of favor. I'm still using that same pizza dough recipe.

Also this week, I pulled out one of the Pineapple Banana Breads that I stuck in the freezer a few weeks ago and brought it to work and the guys scarfed it down faster than just about anything else I've brought in.

Funny, I didn't bring it in when I made it because I wasn't sure that it would be their kind of thing. It tasted even better to me than I remembered. It was very moist. I still have one more loaf in the freezer.

Question of the Day: Is whiskey a staple in your house? I forgot to pick some up last Saturday and I was surprised to find that I had some, since my husband will usually quickly use up any we have left over from parties, for 'medicinal purposes' (he goes running for whiskey and honey whenever he gets a scratchy throat).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A definite keeper
--Ravioli Lasagna

Ravioli Lasagna
The Red Hat Society Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 pound ground beef, divided
1 (28-ounce jar) spaghetti sauce, divided I used a 26.5 ounce jar
1 (25-ounce) bag sausage or cheese ravioli, thawed and divided I used 2 13-ounce bags of mini cheese ravioli, frozen
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese I used a little bit more and I used 2% mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown ground beef over medium heat. In a 2 1/2 quart greased dish, layer 1/3 the spaghetti sauce, 1/2 the ravioli, 1/2 the ground beef and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat, topping with the rest of the spaghetti sauce and remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Serves 6-8.

On my birthday post, a commenter, Jennifer, left me a recipe for Beefy Baked Ravioli. It sounded so good but I was leery about putting the ravioli in frozen. Then I remembered seeing a recipe that used ravioli in this Red Hat Ladies Cookbook so I decided to see if that was something I could make with ravioli instead. When I looked, it was basically the same recipe (slightly simpler) but it used thawed ravioli which I was a bit more comfortable with (which makes no sense really) so I decided to make that one. However, I ended up using the ravioli frozen after all and it turned out great.

Did you follow all of that???

This was so much simpler than making a 'real' lasagna yet the same flavors were there. Everything I needed was on sale too. The ravioli were $1/bag, the sauce was $1/jar, the cheese was $2.50 and the meat was $1.99/pound. Not the least expensive meal but not bad for the amount it makes and especially for the simplicity. When you consider that my grocery store sometimes sells prepared unbaked lasagnas for almost $20, this was a steal.

I will definitely make this again, even though it wasn't my son's thing. He doesn't like any other kind of lasagna either but it's his loss. My husband and I scarfed it down.

Thanks, Jennifer! I can see why you felt the urge to pass this recipe along.

Question of the Day: Do you know any Red Hat Ladies or are you a Red Hat Lady? I only know of a few Red Hat Ladies online.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A fancy name for a plain cookie
--Sugar Puffs

Sugar Puffs
The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion Copyright 2004

½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt (extra-fine preferred)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup cornstarch
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the sugar, butter, salt and vanilla. Add the cornstarch and flour, stirring to make a cohesive dough. Drop the dough by the tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool.

Per cookie: 106 cal, 7 g fat, 1 g protein, 7 g complex carbs, 3 g sugar, 19 mg chol, 55 mg sodium

These were described as 'light as cotton candy' but I wouldn't go that far. They were basically like a spritz or a shortbread. Actually why aren't these considered a shortbread? The books says that they're 'like a shortbread' but what's the difference?

They were okay, nothing special if you ask me. My son declared that I make the best cookies in the world, which surprised me. I could see him making that declaration after eating a chocolate chip cookie or a nice oatmeal cookie but not these cookies, although he loved the spritz trees I made for Christmas last year.

So, they'll get eaten but I see no reason to ever make these again. Although I just has a thought that these would be great dipped in chocolate but that can be said of any shortbread recipe (or 'shortbread-like' recipe!)

Speaking of dipped in chocolate, I was so tempted to buy a chocolate fountain this weekend. They had a great deal airing on one of the shopping networks. I didn't but boy was I ever tempted.

Question of the Day: Do you have a chocolate fountain?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Great stuff
--Ham and Sausage Jambalaya

Ham and Sausage Jambalaya
Louisiana Cookin', Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 package (about 20 oz.) kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 large onions, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 can (16 oz) whole peeled tomatoes, undrained I used tomato sauce - an accident!
1/2 pound cooked ham, cut into cubes
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce I used a milder hot sauce so I added more
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice

In large saucepot or Dutch oven, heat oil. Add kielbasa, onions, green pepper, celery and garlic; cook 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, ham, bay leaf, Tabasco sauce, thyme and allspice; simmer uncovered 15 minutes. Add rice. Cover; simmer 15 minutes. If necessary, add more broth or water and simmer until rice is tender. Remove bay leaf. Serve with additional Tabasco sauce, if desired. 6 servings.

This came out very nicely even though I messed up. I thought I had opened up a can of petite diced tomatoes (I prefer those to the whole tomatoes) but what I had opened was a can of tomato sauce! Oh well, I didn't really my mistake until I had dumped the sauce in the pot. No harm done as far as I'm concerned. The sauce added a richer tomato flavor than the tomatoes probably would have added.

This was fast to make too since I used my mini-chopper for all of the veggies. If you chopped everything ahead of time, you could have this on the table in under 45 minutes.

Why don't I make jambalaya more often? It's so good and not difficult or time consuming either. I even love the leftovers.

I was so excited yesterday. I ran out to pick up a few necessities and I saw that Linens 'n Things was having their going out of business sale. They even had one of those poor fellows holding up a sign on the side of the road. 10% off! A lousy 10% off! A few things were 20% and 30% off but the kitchen stuff was only 10%. That's not a sale. Yet people were leaving with loaded bags. Go figure.

I did see something that I found rather amusing - Rachael Ray bath towels. Bath towels??? What the heck does Rachael Ray have to do with bath towels??? Is she the new Martha or does she just think she's the new Martha? I didn't realize that she had branched out so much but I don't watch her talk show.

Question of the Day: Would you buy a Rachael Ray Garbage Bowl? The garbage bowl is a great idea, but would you really spend $15 or more on a bowl specifically for garbage???

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekly recap

I actually had a another recipe to post this week but I was so busy last night I didn't get a chance to upload the picture. It will have to wait until next week. I'll just do a weekly recap, although I do hope to get back to posting 5 recipes each week instead of 4 recipes and a recap. You really got shortchanged this week since I took Monday off from posting and only posted 3 recipes.

Monday I made PF Chang Chang's Spicy Chicken with rice and pot stickers. I wanted egg rolls but how is it possible that the closest (and largest) grocery store in my area does not carry any egg rolls whatsoever anymore??? They used to carry the best frozen ones (out of all the brands available to me) but they stopped.

Tuesday we had cube steak sandwiches with provolone cheese, french fries and corn on the cob (which was surprisingly good for this late in the year).

Wednesday I made a rerun, one of my very favorite recipes, Easy Italian Spiced Pork (Chops):

I only had a smidgen of balsamic vinegar so I just used white vinegar for most of what the recipe called for and they were just as good, maybe even better. They didn't have that rosey hue that using all balsamic vinegar gives them (the one in this picture was made with all balsamic vinegar). We had green beans and mashed potatoes with that.

Last night, Thursday, we had Sausage and Ham Jambalaya which is the recipe you'll have to wait for. It really hit the spot.

Salad was available every night.

Tonight is pizza night, of course. I'm still using that same pizza dough recipe.

Oh, my son had a fall party at school and I made another rerun, Glazed Chocolate Chip Brownies.

I sprinkled them with Sixlets since they're fall colors and safe for my son. I wish I had taken a picture of them with the Sixlets because they were cute. These are what Sixlets look like if you're not familiar with them:

And that was my week. Between having Monday off and getting out of work a little bit earlier the rest of the week, I felt as if I had a bit of breathing room for a change.

Oh, I almost forgot the most exciting news - the recipe archive is caught up to date as of right now! Recipes were backed up from July but you can find them all in the archives now. There are close to 750 recipes, from over 260 cookbooks.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Too subtle
--Apple Bread

Apple Bread
Great Bread Machine Recipes Copyright 1992

For 1 lb loaf:
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ¾ cups bread flour
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon butter
¾ cup apple sauce

For 1 1/2 lb loaf:
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
4 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ cups bread flour
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons apple sauce

This bread reminded me of cinnamon-raisin bread without the raisins (which might appeal to any raisin haters out there). It was slightly sweet and cinnamonny but it didn't scream 'APPLE!' It was good but nothing special.

I'm drawing a big blank when it comes to planning next week's recipes. I'd better think of something fast because tonight is grocery night.

I have to make brownies for my son's fall class party tonight too. What was I thinking? I was thinking, if I don't make them he won't be able to eat them (due to his peanut allergy) so I'd better make them. He loves brownies. Oh well, some day, years from now, I'll be able to rest again.

Question of the Day: Do you like your applesauce smooth or chunky? I'll take either but I always buy smooth out of habit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A good knockoff? I have no idea
--PF Chang Chang's Spicy Chicken

PF Chang Chang's Spicy Chicken
Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 Copyright 1997,2007

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (3 to 4 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped green onions (about 3 onions)
1 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons chili sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 cup vegetable oil
2 chicken breast fillets
1/3 cup cornstarch

1. Make the sauce by heating 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in medium saucepan. Sauté the garlic and onion in the oil for just a few seconds, not allowing the ingredients to burn, then quickly add the pineapple juice, followed by chili sauce, vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce.
2. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water and add it to the other ingredients in the saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and continue to simmer on medium/high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and syrupy.
(Instead of frying the chicken, I baked it as I did for Baked Lemon Chicken.)
3. Heat 1 cup vegetable oil in a wok or a medium saucepan over medium heat.
4. While oil heats up, chop chicken breast fillets into bite-size pieces. In a medium bowl, toss chicken pieces with cornstarch until well-dusted.
5. Sauté coated chicken in the hot oil, stirring occasionally, until light brown. Remove chicken to a rack or paper towels to drain for a moment. Pour chicken into a medium bowl, add sauce and toss well to coat chicken. Serve immediately with rice on the side.

Serves 2.

I'll be honest, I've never eaten at a PF Chang's. We don't go out for Chinese food due to my son's peanut allergy, nor is there even a PF Chang's in our area. This recipe sounded so good though. This was a library book and my first Top Secret Recipe. Unfortunately I can't vouch for how good of a clone it is, not having had the real thing.

I chickened out when it came to frying the chicken. I decided to use the method I used for Baked Lemon Chicken. The recipe certainly wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I was expecting. The sauce was spicy but not as sweet and salty as I thought it would be. It was sweet and sour sauce with a kick. I think I was expecting it to be more like General's chicken - more flavorful.

Once I got over my expectations and had a few bites, it grew on me. I'm not sure I'll make this again but it was still a fine dinner.

Oh, I doubled the recipe since I used more chicken but I really didn't need to. That amount of sauce could have covered the extra chicken.

I made this on my day off but it doesn't take very long and I probably could have squeezed it in on a work night. I've managed to manuever my schedule so that I'm getting home from work about 45 minutes earlier. What a world of difference that makes!

Question of the Day: Are there any restaurant recipes you'd like to be able to clone at home? I'd like to clone TGIF's Jack Daniel's sauce. Actually, I have a recipe in the Ugly Binder that might not be a clone but it's just as good. I'll have to pull it out soon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A recipe from my most special cookbook
--Old-Fashioned Noodle Pudding

Old-Fashioned Noodle Pudding
The Complete Everyday Cookbook Copyright 1971

5 tablespoons butter, divided
2 ½ cups peeled cooking apples, cut into ½-inch slices I used Golden Delicious
7 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 ¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts I omitted these
2 ½ cups drained, cooked broad noodles
½ cup sour cream I used lite
1 ¼ cups creamed cottage cheese, sieved I used 1%
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, well beaten

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy skillet. Add sliced apples; sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir until apples are completely coated with butter. Cover, cook over low heat about 8 minutes.

Mix brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and nuts well. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of well-greased 8x8x2-inch pan. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to noodles and toss until well-coated. Add sour cream, cottage cheese, salt, eggs, cooked apples and their liquid and 2 tablespoons sugar that has been mixed with ½ teaspoon cinnamon; blend well. Put noodle mixture over brown sugar layer in pan. Bake in moderate oven (325 degrees) for 50 minutes, or until done. Immediately sprinkle with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon over top and serve at once.

Makes 7 servings.

First of all, thank you very, very much for all of the wonderful birthday wishes. I was tickled pink to see all of the comments. I know it's not possible or even necessary for readers to comment on every post but I'm only human - I got excited to see so many comments. I appreciated the lurkers coming out of lurkdom and of course I loved hearing from my regulars. That was the best birthday gift. I feel rejuvenated.

If you asked me which one cookbook I would rescue in a fire, it would be this one. Strange, since this is the first time I'm cooking from it, but this is probably the first cookbook I ever read. My mother had a copy of this cookbook, actually she still has it. Unfortunately, it's in pieces and there are no identifying parts left to it. Yet somehow, within one day, I found a copy of this cookbook to buy over the internet. I did that with only a general guess as to what year it was published and the names of a few chapters.

I've had it for at least a year, maybe two. I think I've been afraid to try any of the recipes since I didn't want to be disappointed but it doesn't really matter, it will always be a special cookbook for me. The recipes really aren't the point - even my mother only used it for a few baking recipes yet it still made quite an impression on me.

I've been wanting to make a noodle pudding for years. I remember my mom making it once. She made a lot of things only once that I've never forgotten. Noodle pudding is just one of those things that there are so many variations out there, which one to try first? I don't think my mom's had apples in it but this is still the one that caught my eye.

This was a good starting point. I don't think it needed the brown sugar on the bottom, certainly not that much of it. It wasn't quite as creamy as I had hoped but it could have been my fault for using the lite sour cream and lowfat cottage cheese. Next time I try a noodle pudding recipe, I'm going full-fat. I don't know when that will be though. I ate more of this than I would ever admit and it might be a while before I can look at a noodle pudding again. It's probably a good thing that I used the lower-fat ingredients.

Question of the Day: Is there a special cookbook that your mom or grandmother had that you remember?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekly recap

Phew! I made it through another week and now I have a long weekend. Yay!

Let's see, what did we eat this week? Monday we had Baked Ziti and garlic bread, with salad.

Tuesday we had chicken and filling (also known as dressing or stuffing). I make great filling if I do say so myself. I just had some plain chicken breasts so I decided to cook them - in canned soup! Ha! Take that, nasty commenter. I mixed cream of chicken soup with milk and some parmesan cheese. It kept the chicken moist. Important since it cooked the night before and reheated when we ate it.

Wednesday was a delicious rerun - Sweet-Sour Pork on Rice.

I used the last of my peach preserves from last year in that recipe. I'm sad I didn't get to can anything this year but I just couldn't get any canning done with the new baby.

Last night we had the enchiladas which turned out better than I expected. I knew the enchilada sauce tasted good but there wasn't much else to them - just multi-grain tortillas, queso fresco and shredded chicken. I wanted sour cream but I didn't have any. I used some thick ranch dip instead and it wasn't a bad substitution. They would have been better with corn tortillas but at least the multi-grain ones didn't get too soggy, which I was worried about. Cooking ahead is always a crap shoot.

Tonight will be pizza.

Today is my birthday. I turn 39 for the first time (but possibly not the last time LOL!). All I want for my birthday is a comment, from each of my regular commenters and from every other single person reading this. Is that really too much to ask? Please, pretty please.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Think rustic
--Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada Sauce
Mexican Family Favorites Cookbook Copyright 1983

3 Tbsp. oil
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups water (or use meat stock) I used water
6 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. garlic powder

Heat oil and brown flour. To 2 cups of water (or stock) add chili powder and dissolve. Add chili to browned flour and mix well. Add seasonings and blend. Bring to a bubbly boil, stirring frequently. Simmer covered, 5 minutes.

Makes 1 ¼ cups sauce.

I know these enchiladas didn't photograph very well but try to think of them as 'rustic'. That might help. That's what I did.

I had some chicken, some multi-grain tortillas and some queso fresco. I originally was going to make tostadas since last week when I was standing at the deli in the grocery store, I saw that they had tostadas on the Mission display. So I put tostadas on the menu but when I went back to buy them - no tostadas. Figures. I grabbed the multi-grain tortillas but I wish I had grabbed corn tortillas. I really didn't know I was going to end up making enchiladas like this or corn tortillas would have been better.

Oh well, this post is about the sauce. I'm not a Mexican or Tex-Mex food expert but I can guess this wouldn't compare to a sauce made straight from chilis or even with a good chili powder but it was as good as the canned stuff or better, even using a basic inexpensive chili powder. It was fast and cheap (if you use a cheap chili powder). I was afraid of using all of that chili powder but I should not have been. It had nice flavor, with a bite but not too spicy.

And there were no tomatoes - I know some of my readers will be happy about that!

Question of the Day: Have you ever tried making something from scratch, that you would normally buy prepared? You don't have to name everything because I'm sure many of us have done it more times than we can count. It's fun to make things from scratch sometimes but I'm glad I don't 'have to' do it, KWIM? It's nice having the option to grab things right off the shelf, ready to go. I don't think I'd enjoy food as much if I still had to churn my own butter.

P.S. I added a new background. Is it too 'busy'? It was free and only took a minute to add - check out the link on the upper right of the screen if you're interested in one for your own blog. I never added anything like that before so if it causes any technical problems for anyone reading this blog, let me know (especially if it makes the page load slower for you!)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bread of the Week
--Italian Bread

Italian Bread
Great Bread Machine Recipes Copyright 1992

For 1 lb loaf:
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 ounces warm water
4 teaspoons olive oil

For 1 1/2 lb loaf:
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water
2 T olive oil

Load ingredients per your bread machine's instructions. Use French bread setting if your machine has one.

This was a plain bread this week. I made it to go along with the Baked Ziti. I actually used it for garlic bread which wasn't very good since I was too lazy to dig out fresh garlic (I used garlic powder) and I went too light on the butter. I preferred the bread plain. I thought it would be great to make a loaf of this to use to make panzanella (bread salad).

I used the light setting on my bread machine. The top of the loaf had no color at all. I was just experimenting. I used the French bread setting too, as the recipe suggested.

It was good (and cheap to make), although not like the Italian bread I remember growing up. You could always pick up a loaf of Italian bread (in the paper sleeve) in the small local grocery store on our block. I might be lucky to find something similar in my grocery store bakery but I can't count on it. They don't offer the same breads every day which is a real pain when you go in there for something particular that you need right away.

Question of the Day: How do you make garlic bread?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

NOT from a cookbook
--Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti
The Ugly Binder, from the internet

1 (16 oz.) pkg. ziti I used Smart Taste penne, which is only a 14.5 oz box
1 lb. ground beef
1 (15 oz.) container Ricotta cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 tsp. salt
1 (29 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Mozzarella cheese, shredded

About 1 hour before serving, prepare ziti as label directs; drain. In an 8 quart Dutch oven, cook ground beef until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove Dutch oven from heat; stir in Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, egg, 1/2 of spaghetti sauce, and seasonings (I added about half the mozzarella to the pasta and reserved half for the top). Stir until mixed. Add ziti and toss gently to coat well. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce evenly over mixture. Sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Yield: 8 servings.

I don't usually make recipes for my blog that I pull off the internet, unless it already had a place in my Ugly Binder. However, this recipe illustrates an important point. I decided I wanted to make baked ziti. I used to make it but I couldn't remember exactly how I did it so I went looking through my cookbooks to find a recipe. I found several meatless varieties but none with meat (except in a Sopranos cookbook, but that recipe sounded kind of blah and even looked dry in the picture). Which just proves that I need to keep buying more cookbooks, right? Good, I'm glad you agree with me. Okay, I clearly didn't really need a recipe for something this simple but there should have been one somewhere in my collection.

This would have been better served immediately but since I have such limited time, I made it the night before. It was okay reheated but I would make it fresh if at all possible. It's a relatively fast dish since that you can get on the table in under 45 minutes. Under 30 minutes if you have a commercial break (ever notice how much Rachael Ray gets done during her commercial breaks?)

Question of the Day: Do you have a long weekend coming up (Columbus Day)? I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to a long weekend.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Another good one from Martha
--Thin and Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thin and Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies
Martha Stewart’s Cookies Copyright 2008

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (about 12 ounces) semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, 1/4 cup water, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
2. Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
3. Bake until cookies are golden brown 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Makes about 3 dozen (I got 4, with 2 dozen using a larger scoop and I still had extra dough.)

Martha may have done time for lying about a stock tip but my investigation concludes that she was definitely not lying when she named these cookies 'thin and crispy'. They are definitely the thinnest and crispiest chocolate cookies I've ever had.

Normally I'm a chewy, gooey cookie kind of gal. I'm not sure why I developed a hankering for a crispy chocolate chip cookie but I did. These certainly fit the bill. These disappeared very quickly in our house.

These cookies spread a lot. My first two batches, I used my larger cookie scoop and they almost all grew together (I was able to use a sharp knife to separate them). I switched to my smaller scoop and they were still some merging going on but it was better.

I think I underbaked some of them. The color looked right but they still had a slight chew to them. One batch was just right. One batch I got distracted and almost burned. That turned out to be my favorite batch.

I own a few different Martha Stewart cookbooks but this one is my favorite, so far. This is only the second recipe I've tried but both have been big hits in my house (the other recipe was for Surprise Cookies.)

Question of the Day: Have you tried many (or any) of Martha's recipes?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Weekly recap

Nothing new to post about today. I had one more recipe that's been on my to-do list for two weeks and I still haven't found the time to make it. Maybe this weekend.

I don't think I recapped last week's meals and I can't even remember what we ate now. I know we had cube steak sandwiches and they were awesome. I think we had meatballs and pasta too. Friday I made pizza with that great dough. Oh, there was Kielbasa with Beer & Onions .

The other meal I made was this Chicken-and-Rice Bake that I loved the first time I made it. When I was making it this time, I wasn't so sure it was going to work out. I was making it the night before and it didn't look as creamy as I'd remembered it and I just knew it wasn't going to be as good. I was wrong! I loved it all it over again.

This week started with Liberace's pork chops (not quite how he intended them but wonderful the way they turned out), Tuesday we had grilled chicken, Wednesday we had Cheeseburger Macaroni and last night we chicken fried rice and potstickers. Tonight is homemade pizza again (I can't wait!)

I got kind of a nasty comment on an old post yesterday. The recipe used canned soup and the commenter (who is hiding behind a private profile) suggested that anyone who used canned soup must not know how to cook. What an ass. I think I do pretty darn well for someone who's out of the house 11.5 hours a day (yes, I leave at 6:30am and I don't get home until 6pm*). I've been putting mostly cooked-from-scratch food on the table and if I want to use some canned cream-of-whatever soup in a recipe every now and then, I'm going to, and I'm going to do it without apology.

(*The boys come with me for anyone who's worried that I'm away from them that long. I have onsite daycare.)

I had a lot of luck at the grocery store last night. As a promotional thing, I earned 15% off of my total. With sales and 'club' savings, I saved almost 28% on my groceries this week. I spent less than last week. I found some great deals on meat. I got a value pack of cubed steaks, a 3-lb package of Hillshire kielbasa, 2 small pork loins, and 2 2-lb boxes of all-natural Angus beef burgers. I stocked up on a few other things too.

Question of the Day: What did you have for dinner this week?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bread of the Week
--Onion Rye Bread

Onion Rye Bread
Great Bread Machine Recipes Copyright 1992

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
¾ cup bread flour
2 tablespoons onion soup mix
¾ cup rye flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon butter
4 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons molasses
4 ½ ounces warm water

Add ingredients per your bread machines instructions.

Makes 1 1-lb loaf.

I'm still on a bread kick. A nice piece of toast makes for a quick breakfast in the morning and generally breads don't require any special ingredients which is nice.

I had a little trouble with this. I often have to add a bit more water to a recipe which is normal when making bread but I had to add a LOT more to this recipe and it was still a very stiff dough. It actually came out alright but I'd be curious to see what a little wheat gluten would due. It was a bit denser than the breads I've made with gluten. This cookbook usually includes it as an optional ingredient when it might help the texture but it wasn't listed for this recipe.

I enjoyed the flavor although it wasn't very oniony. Most of what was left in the half-package of soup mix I had left was powdered broth, not onions. I meant to add more dried onion out of my spice cupboard but I forgot. We ate a lot of rye bread growing up so this was very comforting.

If anyone thinks I should start copying the amounts for the larger loaves too, let me know. My machine only makes 1-lb loaves I can give the larger amounts too if anyone is interested.

Question of the Day: Are you shocked by the price of bread lately? Silly question - the price of everything in the grocery store is getting rather shocking.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Another winner sneaks up on me
--Pork Chops with Mustard

Pork Chops with Mustard
Liberace Cooks Copyright 1970

6 large pork chops
2 tablespoons wet mustard I used Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons pepper
1 cup water

Cut fat from chops and spread with mustard on both sides. Sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper. Brown in butter on both sides. When brown, add about 1 cup of water, cover, and simmer for an hour. Add more water as needed.

This recipe looked simple and needed no extra ingredients, which are two great qualities I look for in a recipe these days.

It didn't go exactly as I thought it would but that was mainly due to user error. I didn't brown my chops as well as I would have liked. They were sort of wet when I started but I figured I was adding wet mustard so I didn't dry them off. I might have been too heavy-handed with the flour so it didn't really end up adhering to the meat. I definitely wasn't patient enough.

I added the water, put on the lid and let them cook. The recipe says you may need to add water but didn't they have air-tight lids in 1970? How would you lose all that water in a covered pan? When I opened the lid, they were swimming in liquid (modern pork gives off it's own liquid too). They didn't look too appetizing, to be honest. The mustard was gone and they weren't very brown.

I was cooking them for the next night so I put them in the refrigerator in the liquid (so they wouldn't dry out). When I took them out the following evening, I removed the fat from the top and then I was surprised to see that the liquid had jellified like a good soup stock (surprised because I though it took bones to do that and these chops were boneless). I decided to add a bit of flour and water to make gravy out of it when I reheated the pork chops on the stove top.

I ended up with perfectly tender pork chops (not stringy at all!) with some excellent pork gravy on top. I couldn't believe that I ended up with such a nice gravy when I only used water to cook the chops and there was nothing besides the boneless meat, mustard, salt and pepper to flavor it.

This is one of those times when I have to wonder if it was all just a big fluke? Could I repeat this success? Someday I'll try.

Funny thing - as I was reading this cookbook, the baby was absolutely enthralled with the cover.

I don't know if it was the black, white and red colors but he was giving it such an intent look with furrowed brow. It was comical, especially considering how understated Liberace looks in that picture.

Question of the Day: Have you ever made a recipe that you loved but you could never get it to turn out quite the same way again?