Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mushroom Bourguinon

I love this recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. It's been awhile since I made it, but it will make your house smell divine. Two things I want to share about this time around......

Thing #1: I love these new-to-me frozen herb cubes. They are called Dorot and I got them at Trader Joe's yesterday. I bought garlic (used in this recipe), basil and cilantro. I, of course, forgot I had them, and pulled out my garlic cloves to mince...I was dreading the mincing. I have an irrational hatred of mincing. THEN! I remembered! I had cubes! Pop! Pop! Done. Love it.

Thing #2: While we're on the frozen topic. I really, really hate that recipes usually only call for a tablespoon or so of tomato paste. Hate. What I hate more is that I regularly store the extra tomato paste in my fridge. And forget about it until it's fuzzy. But because I was using frozen herb cubes, I had a brainstorm! I could freeze the rest of the paste in tablespoony portions. And so I did:

Oh, wow. That's not pretty. Form over function, I guess. I put them on wax paper. Froze them (they've been in there for two days now, because I'm thorough. Not lazy, thorough), then put them (well, I will put them) in a freezer bag, and TA-DA! Stop the hate.

 I'm sure I'm not the  first person to do this. Some of your are probably shaking your head thinking, "Um....doesn't everyone do this already?" But I'm going to ignore you and have a celebratory glass of wine for being such a culinary-effing-genius. Yo.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Guinness. Nothin' wrong with that!

Last week I went to the Scholastic Warehouse sale at the Tabala (Tebalah? Tabawhoosie? I think it's a Mason thing?) Temple. I get a little crazy at these things. Not crazy as in buy too much. Crazy as in "By-pass anything I would normally buy and pick up only things that I'm marginally interested in or heard of once, I think. Maybe. But look! 50% off!"

So I picked up Cooking Light: Comfort Food, because who doesn't love comfort food? Even better if it's made lightly, right? Dear lord. This stuff isn't really....light. Unless you want to use a lot of fake cheese, fake eggs, and fake sugar. I made the Beef and Guinness Stew....It was **not** light. The lightest thing about it was that I used buffalo instead of beef. But day-um was it tasty.

I'm sorry. I am both too inept and too lazy to make that horizontal. I love you, but still. Turn your head.

Basically, you take the meat cubes, dredge them in flour and then sear them in a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil. Take it out. Put in the onion for five. Add the paste. Add the liquid, seasoning and raisins. Boil, then simmer for an hour. Uncover, boil for 50 min. Add the veg and simmer for 30 min.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Magic Chalkboard of Postiness.

Here's what we had this week:
Except you have to start at the bottom. With the roasted chicken. I love roasting chicken. Especially fancy-schmancy happy chickens from Kathy at Open Range Products in Pecatonica. Kathy is wonderful and her farm is wonderful and the meat is super yummy. She happily hosts groups and is great with kids (being a retired teacher and all). To roast the chicken I shove a lemon and some garlic up its hooha, slather a little butter on it, salt and pepper, roast at 425 for about an hour, or until your meat thermometer, that hopefully your 18 month old hasn't dropped on its face shattering the glass, points to "poultry." Cause chicken is poultry. When I'm motivated I cut up some root veggies to go under the chicken in the pan - this time I did carrots, turnips, parsnips and onions. Then I had some left-over white wine in the fridge that had been there a few weeks, so I poured that in the bottom of the pan too. YUM.

The next day I threw the carcass in a pot with a bunch of water and let it simmer for - awhile. Several hours maybe? Then I used three cups of the resulting broth for this chicken, butternut squash and quinoa stew that I got from.....Pinterest, of course. I have to admit I was skeptical. Despite being related to a woman who dates a Canadian, the title "Cookin' Canuck" does not inspire trust in me. At least not for fine cuisine. I would trust a Canadian with just about anything else. Call me racist, but "Canada" and "Yum" don't really go together for me. Anyway. I was wrong. The Canuck's stew was de-voon. I used pheasant instead of the chicken thighs because: a) it's the end of the pay period, we're broke, and it's what we had in the freezer and b) it's almost Thanksgiving - also known as "the time when we go to Dad's and he won't let us leave without a cooler of game birds because his wife won't eat them," so I figured I'd better use the game birds I had from the last cooler.

I don't know what to tell you about the quinoa burgers. Except - make them. They tasted like falafel....but more interesting. I served them with edamame and the "fry" sauce of mayo and ketchup. Even the four year old deigned to eat them. And yes, it's from Pinterest.

Tuesday I cooked for my family and for a friend's, as she is out of town with a sick father. I jumped at the chance to make pork. I lurve pork. Hubs doesn't eat it. So I made pork chops and stuffing for most of us, and subbed in a chicken breast for the bleeding heart liberal who doesn't know good meat when it hits him in the face. It was just browned chops, over Stove Top (with a few apples and mushrooms to make it interesting), smothered in mushroom soup and baked for 45 minutes. But I did serve it with this broccoli (Pinterest. Again.)....I heart this broccoli and will eat it like potato chips. I don't even get all fancy with the cheese and nuts. Just keepin' it real, yo.

And Thursday's potato bites. Also - Pinterest. Duh. Served with asparagus.

Good, basic, not healthy. The cooking times are long....I put them back in to "crisp up" planning on 30 minutes, but they were done at 15 when I opened the oven to put the cheese on and put the asparagus (tossed in olive oil) in. I was so sure the kids would love them, but no dice. There were "crunchy parts" according to the Queen. I know I should be anti-Baco-Bits. But I'm not. I love those fake little soy buggers.

So there you go! Five totally worth making dinners! And I'm out of squash, so you don't need to worry about anymore squash recipes. You're welcome.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Last week.....

So I have a new obsession. A big, huge, problem of an obsession. It's Pinterest (it's addictive, I don't encourage starting, as you won't be able to stop. But if you want a new drug, lemme know - I'll send you an invite). I love pinning things. Now there are pins that seem to indicate that people don't actually do the things that they pin. And I can see how that would happen. It would be so easy to pin and pin and pin and pin.....and then it's time to go to bed. But I got inspired and last week I did this:

I am unreasonably excited about my new backsplash. I used three coats of magnetic paint and two coats of chalkboard paint. Now my weekly menu is right there, instead of on several post-its which may or may not be in one or three locations around the kitchen. Or maybe my purse. And so when it's 4:00 on Tuesdayand I can't remember what I was going to's right there!!!! White Chili!! I know it's silly, but it really helps and has cut back on my urge to go to Subway. 

I also found some yummy things on Pinterest. Twice Baked Squash from good ol' Marth. Ah. Mazing. I made it as-is, but I think you could switch out the sour cream with some yogurt if you felt like it. And because it's squash time at the Farmer's Market, or rather it was last week....I was going to try this lasagna I found on Pinterest. And now I can't remember why I didn't. It still looks delish. But instead I made a Butternut Squash Lasagna that my Beautiful Roommate Ness (ok, she hasn't been my roommate, wow. Eleven years. Damn. I'm old.....)sent me awhile ago. It was scrumptious. Not that the kids ate it. But still. And then, more Pinterest: chili mac and cheese. The four year old almost died with loving this. I've never seen her eat so much meat. Hubs and I were less enthused, but the next day he put some chili sauce in it and it was actually much better. 


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tomatoes and Corn

I started writing this post pretending that what we had for dinner was really good. I'm not sure why I did that. It should have been yummy. But it was icky. Don't run away!!! It should have been yummy. So try it anyway.

Here is the fascinating story of how I decided to make Buttermilk and Corn Popovers, and tomatoes and cheese for dinner:

I love, love, LOVE August at the Farmers Market. Tomatoes and corn. Two years ago I made this pie from Smitten Kitchen. It was friggin' amazing, even though I used a frozen crust which was soggy. In my typical fashion, for some ridiculous reason I decided to make this one from Epicurious despite the proven genius of the SK recipe. Belatedly, I realized it had no corn. So I thought I'd do this one. But, um, I didn't leave enough time for the crust and I wanted to use the buttermilk I'd purchased. With that in mind, I went back to Smitten Kitchen and searched "tomato and corn pie." The way those crazy little interwebs spiders work, they brought back this recipe for Corn, Buttermilk and Chive Popovers....which has nothing to do with tomatoes. But it got me salivating.

As luck would have it I got some yummy, yummy smoked brick cheese from a new-to-me dairy in northern IL that would go great on the fresh tomatoes. I tasted it at the market, asked for a small package, toted it home….and it’s not smoked brick. It’s smoked swiss. Which didn’t taste good with the fresh tomatoes.

And I’m coming to the realization that I can’t bake. I suck at baking. My popovers didn’t pop:

They are sad. Very, very sad. They’re kind of muffiny. Eh.

But this is all my fault. So I still think you should make the popovers. And I still would like some fresh tomatoes with brick cheese. Just sayin’. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Time

I didn't want it to be hot again. I really didn't. I wanted it to be fall. The child started school. There are a few leaves on the ground even. So why the hell is it 90 degrees? Answer me, Al Gore, WHY???????

However, since it's hot I found this Ceviche Verde. You're welcome.

You don't have to turn on the oven in the original recipe. But if you Morganize (yeah, you can make a lot of "morga...." combos. Guess which immature one they called me in high school, despite being the anti-slut)  it, then you quickly boil some shrimp instead of using the fish, because then you can use the plain shrimp to pacify the picky 4 year-old.

And if you further Morganize it, you add an extra avocado, because you love avocado. And then you eat it with Garden of Eatin' Multi-Grain Everything Tortilla Chips. And drink it with See No Pinot boxed Pinot Gris. And then your family sings your praises, treats you to a spa day, and cleans the bathrooms for you. Or not....more likely they just say, "Yum," which sometimes is just as good.

No. That's a lie. It's nice, but it's not as good as all that other stuff.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Graduation Party Beans

My baby's graduating!!! Sad face. Well....she's not really my baby. Technically she belongs to the neighbors. And she graduated a while ago. But there's a party! And she chose a theme. This hurts me to say....I am trying to be very culturally aware when I say this. To recognize that I am a child of the 80's and she's a child of the 00's. But I'm not sure I can forgive her sweet little 18 year-old heart. She chose......Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.   Gah. I can barely type it. Sigh. I guess there's no accounting for taste. But anyway, the sacrilegious theme did allow me to make Red Beans and Rice to go with the Cuban pulled pork her actual parents made.

Overall, it was a hit - unless they were all just being nice to me! I thought it was good, not great. But everyone else seems to disagree, and who am I to go against the crowd? I skipped the bacon to make it veggie, the flavor of the bacon really would have made the dish I think. I upped the beans by a quarter and I still think it could have been more beany. The smoked paprika is key, and I might even go as far as to double it next time.

I made this for about 40ish do that I sauteed the veggies in Crisco in my dutch oven, then added the spices and let it meld for a few minutes before adding a can of tomatoes and chopped chilis instead of tomato paste. Then I emptied half the veggie/spice mix into a pan, added all the beans, and popped it in the oven to heat through. Meanwhile I added the rice to the dutch oven, stirred to coat and added twice the water - I'm not sure why they have so little water in the recipe, but I've learned the hard way that it doesn't matter what the recipe says, you must use double the measure of rice. So because I used six cups of rice, I used twelve cups of water and it was perfect.  When the rice was cooked, I mixed it all together, took it to the neighbors, and drank mojitos. Many mojitos.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


We spent a week in Michigan with my extended family. Well, it wasn't really Michigan -- but Indiana is waaaay less glamorous sounding. Seriously. You might not realize this if you're not from the Midwest. But trust me. It's true. And we did go to Michigan. For ice cream. Twice. But on this trip I realized why the cooking gig didn't work out for the Cousin and me (it just kind of harm, no foul). But here is the reason, crystallized in one picture:

Aren't they beautiful?????? They are like little fairy berries. They make me want to go to Fairyland, eat some of these berries, and stay for an hour, but when I come back the world has been going on for 20 years. I should have used something for perspective, but that's a pint. So they're tiny! and sweet-looking! and dainty! and pressssshus!

So Cousin and I were at the Michigan Produce Mart in some town that starts with an "S" (I'm not being coy, I really don't remember where we were), when I saw these translucent, enticing little things. They were white currants. I asked, "Hey, have you ever had white currants? Let's get some and try them!" To which Cousin replied, "But what are they? What are you going to do with them? What's your plan?" I, of course, did not actually have a plan, and the berries are totally tart. And when I Epicurious-ed them (totally a verb, shush) at Cousin's prompting, there wasn't really anything. So they got, tossed - she was right. But still. I think that's what happened to my short-lived cooking for fun and  profit career. I'm a little hit and miss in my cooking, a little too distractable by the romantic stories I tell myself about fairy berries.

Anyway, on a related note: after a week of meals for 20 (everyone took a night; I made grilled glazed salmon , the cucumber-avocado soup, and cold green beans with feta and pecans), we were in the mood for something with a little more .... zing. So the menu this week started last night with Rachel Ray's Curry in a Hurry (chicken and sweet potatoes sauteed in jarred curry paste; add other vegetables - like onion and peppers; add 1 tbsp flour to thicken; add a couple cups of chx broth, a cup of cream, and 1/4 of jarred mango chutney), stuffed peppers tonight, buffalo taco salad tomorrow, and then shrimp fried rice.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dinner for tonight

I made these Charred Corn Tacos from Smitten Kitchen for dinner last night. They were uber-yummy, even though I persist in calling it "scorched corn" for no apparent reason. And despite the fact that I forgot to add the chili powder and feta. But did add some red bell pepper when I added the "scorched" corn.

Do you know how many times you can type "scorched" before it looks weird? Twice. You can type it twice before you start doubting yourself and spell check it. And google it.

Anyway, despite all my omissions, they were delicious. So just imagine how awesome they'll be if you do it right? And even more awesome if you wait for a week or two until there's corn at the Farmers Market. (Hey, remember my Babysitters Club apostrophe angst? Well, I have similar Mother's Day angst. And, it turns out, Farmer's Market angst. So there you go, it's universal...but in the Farmers' Market case, the internets are unhelpful. All I'm sure of is that it is not Farmer's Market - because that would imply it was a market belonging to a single farmer, and that's not true. Hrmph.)

I love that in this recipe Deb (you know, I can call her Deb 'cause we're *totally* best buds. And by best buds I mean that  I read her blog fairly regularly. Well, it's in my reader and I look at the blog post titles when I have two seconds of my own to think about being creative, food-wise) suggests that you remove the toddler from the kitchen. It was helpful in convincing the husband to remove the children (coughandhimselfahem) from the kitchen and leave me in peace with my wine and loud music for their own safety. But she was right! Dang. I jumped a mile when that first kernel popped. The one year old would have screamed. Because he didn't have any wine to calm his nerves. Ahem.

/senseless ramble

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Maybe it's because I'm a "single" mom this week....but these look scrumptious.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Peaches come from a can/ they were put there by a man/ in a factory doooowwwwwntoooowwwwnnnnnn

My beautiful, lovely, talented, amazing, fabulous, etc neighbors went to Georgia. And because they love me (mostly because I'm a shameless flatterererer), they brought me these gorgeous farm-stand peaches:

I have finally learned my lesson about canning stuff. Instead of googling "peach jam," I went straight to Marissa's blog, Food in Jars. But now I have a conundrum. Because I fell in love with the first thing that caught my eye - this Peach Jalapeno Jelly.

BUT! To make that, I have to can peaches. And I dooooonnnn'ttttt waaaaaaannnnnaaaaaa. *pouts*. I don't like canned peaches. They're squishy. *scrunches up nose*.

Just as I was about to spiral into a 4-year-old worthy fit of whining and foot-stomping, I saw this fruit butter post. I used this recipe a couple summers ago to make apple butter. Only problem being that I made so much apple butter that I kind of went off it for awhile. Awhile being a year and a half, apparently (BTW, can I interest you in some apple butter??). But here's my grand plan - I think maybe I can process the peaches as though I am going to can them, but then (here's the tricky part) not can them. I know!!!! I'm like the Sigfried and Roy of cooking. Except not the one who got mauled. I'm the other one. So then I'll take my processed peaches and cook them down to butter and then (here's another twist, are you ready?) can the butter. And take the left over syrup (theoretically this should leave more syrup for jellying) and make the Peach Jalapeno. My only concern is that the peach butter might be super sweet....but there's only one way to find out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


So remember when I demanded that you make white chili? There may have been some threatening involved....Anyway, as an oldest child, I reserve the right to boss you around again. And once more, I shall force you to make soup.

Hmmm.....must be a soup thing. Interesting, considering when I found Husband he said he "didn't like soup." To which I responded, "Bullshit. You can't not like soup. It's like not liking beverages. There are so many textures, tastes, even temperatures. You can dislike minestrone or chili or cold soups. But you can't hate soup as a category." And you know what? I was right. He likes soup. (Side-note: I figured out why he didn't like soup, and a myriad of other things. But I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings posting about it here. Let me know if you'd like the answer.)

Anyway, he liked this Chilled Avocado-Cumber soup. I loved it, despite the fact that I often don't enjoy cold soups. The one-year-old liked a few bites, the four-year-old categorically refused it- but that has nothing to do with taste and everything to do with being four.

You. Must. Make. It. It's for your own good, trust me. If I were queen, I'd mandate it.

I doubled the recipe, so as to take some on my girls' weekend. But I still only used one jalapeno, which left plenty of kick....enough that the baby only wanted a few bites. And I added a third avocado to up the creaminess. So if I were to make a single batch, I would use half a pepper, and one and a half avocados.

Aaaaaaaand, now I'm salivating. The left-overs might not make it to the girls' weekend.....

Friday, June 17, 2011


So I finally went to the farmer's market. Last summer I had an excuse....he was a bayyyyybeeeeee. Everything was haaaaaarrrrrdddddd. This summer - I am just lame.
But I went! And I found these!

I picked the four-year-old up from camp and said, "We got lots of strawberries this morning. Do you want to make pie or jam?" The answer: "STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE!!"

So I went here!

My mom's well-thumbed, yellow-paged, butter-filled (the recipes, not the pages) Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The cookbook of my youth. The cookbook that defines "making cookies" for me.

But there are problems with this recipe...

For instance, if three teaspoons equals a tablespoon, then why doesn't the recipe just say a tablespoon? Also, I don't sift. And finally, I  am butter cutting impaired

Ok. Most of these are actually my problems. Hrumph. But anyway. That might be why my shortcake looks like this:

But, luckily, Auntie B the Canadian was there to walk us through the process via Skype. She watched the four-year-old roll out the dough. Then she was treated to a show in which the four-year-old implied that maybe Auntie B and 'Abriel should just get married already.

Auntie B is posing for her meta-technology moment, because, quote, "That's what Auntie B does."

Anyway, turns out if you put enough ice cream and strawberries on it, it doesn't matter if your shortcake is hard, dry and burned on the bottom.

However, the four-year-old who wanted STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE to start with changed her mind without even taking a bite. Instead she wanted to save it for Christmas, because "Santa might want to eat her." Apparently all Strawberry Shortcake, not just the doll, is female. Who knew?? Whatevs, Kiddo. More for Mommy. Peace out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Granola Bars a la Y. Maybe.

At the Y Cafe in Rockford, Illinois, there is a magical thing.

This magical thing is addictive. 

This magical thing is made by Crazy Michael, who thinks that assaulting a person with Bible verses will make them burn their UU t-shirt and beg to be immediately baptized in the smoothie machine.

This magical thing is a granola bar of such wondrous yumminess that I continue to patronize Crazy Michael's business, even though he assaulted my friend with Bible verses. Do not, however, imply to Crazy Michael that the granola bars - despite their addictive qualities, may have crack in them. He does not find this amusing. At least he didn't assault me with Bible verses when I implied it. I think he's afraid of my husband.

In an effort to break loose from my addiction to Crazy Michael (in part because of his emotionally abusive tendency to not always have my granola bars on hand every time I want them!!!!!!!) I'm going to attempt to recreate them. Hot Jill works at the Cafe, and has procured the broad strokes of what these bars entail. So with my palette (and hopefully with the help of Dawn of the Impeccable Taste) and a basic recipe, I hope to conquer my emotional dependency on Crazy Michael.

The one year old helped measure (not really, but don't tell him that).

And the four year old helped press them between two cookie sheets (this is Crazy Michael's trick. And really. Who can resist standing on food??).

The first attempt has a good flavor...but,'s not really in bar form. At all. Way to crumbly. I was drawing from a second recipe that said the mix would "still be crumbly" when you put it in to cool. I replaced the cup of coconut with a full cup of oats. I think I shouldn't have done that. So I'm going to up the nut butters and cut the oats with the next batch.

Secondly, it's a tad too sweet. I'm not sure if I can just cut back on the honey to fix that...I'm unsure how big a part the honey plays in the binding, of which I am so horribly short.

Also, my carob for the top is not melty. I don't know if I burned it or if there's a trick of which I am unaware. But it's gloppy.

I'm going to eat this batch with a spoon and try again. I'll let you know the measurements when I actually figure them out. But if you want to play with the recipe yourself, here's what I substituted in the original recipe:

3 cups of oats, since I omitted the coconut
1 cup of sunflower seeds
1 cup of almonds

HEY!!!!! I just realized what I did!!!! I subbed in both a cup of oats and a cup of almonds for one cup of coconut. SILLY!

1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup sunflower butter
Substitute dried cherries for chocolate chips (I think it could stand more than a 1/2 cup. I'm going to use a cup next time)

Then I added carob chips, melted and spread on top. The taste is right, even if I may or may not have burned the gloppy carob.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rachel who?

Dude. This is what I get for not paying attention to popular media: Rachel Ray stole my schtick. Um, 'cause you know. I'm way more accomplished than her as a cook. Totally. Ahem. Ok, so maybe she did it first. Whatever, Rachel.

But on the plus side. I trust her. She is hella annoying (forgive the 90's slang, please). I would never watch her show. But I have several cookbooks, and she has never steered me wrong. So I feel good basing a week on her. Though I'm picking and choosing which to use. Have I told you about my total phobia of cooking the same thing twice? It's ridiculous....I always make new recipes. There are a few I go back to over and over. But not many. I don't know why. Even when we're having company. It's an illness.

This week:

From good ol' Rach:
Smokey Spanish Hunter's Chicken (do Spanish hunters hunt chickens? why don't they just raise them? hunh.)
Roasted Tomato Marinara with Spaghetti Squash

P-Dub's Mac and Cheese, which I made once to curb the carbby beast within.

And from the Super Spectacular Only Cook Once in Your life and Save Millions cookbook, Chipotle Corn Chowder and Bow-Tie Pasta with Pork and Raspberry Cream Sauce.

I have chosen not to make the entire week of Rachel's recipes, just because they don't all appeal to me, and I'm high-maintenance like that. But the two recipes that I've chosen both use the Parmigiano and Herb-Fortified Stock and Roasted Tomatoes, so I'll start there. 

DAY-UM. I guess I'd better start there as it has to simmer for an hour. I only need 4 cups of this 16 cup, math. Um. Hard. I think I'll just worry about cutting the liquid to...maybe 2 cups of broth and 4 of water? I know that's not exact. That's why I'm an artist
It is hard to cut the rind off Parmigiano:

While that simmers for an hour and the tomatoes roast, I'm starting the Mac and Cheese. This I'm going to do double and freeze some for us, because who doesn't need some Mac and Cheese in the freezer. No one. That's who. Except crap. I forgot to get extra cheese. I think I can make it work....I have the tail ends of some cheddar, mozzarella, and parm. Eh. 'Sall good. For the record, I'm not in love with the grating function of my food processor. Especially for softer cheeses. It gets stuck.
So I end up with all these sad little ends to grate by hand:

I really hate when you're in the middle of a recipe, like the Hunter's Chicken and it says char the peppers and you say, "What peppers?" While I wait for the troops to arrive with my peppers, I'll do the tomato sauce instead. I'm skipping the pepper, since Cousin's fam isn't a spicy fam.
I think this is marjoram.

Close enough!

I don't know if I missed the part of the recipe that said to core the tomatoes, or if Rachel just likes big chunks of tomato core in her sauce. But I had to fish the cores out and I'm adding some more paste, because the sauce is kind of thin. Those points aside, I'm really sorry I didn't double this, because it smells amazing.

I do love these soups from The Utterly Stupendous Cooking Plan book! So easy: combine and freeze. For the corn chowder it's 1 cup corn, 1 can creamed corn, turkey (so Husband can eat it) bacon, sauteed onion, 1 can of evaporated milk, and "white sauce" - 1 tablespoon of butter melted, 1 tablespoon of flour whisked in.

Hi. I'm Morgan. I burn cookie sheets while charring bell peppers for the Hunter's Chicken.
I also lose many things while cooking, including my's an iPhone picture.

For the record, the camera was under a hot pad. One day when I feel secure enough, I will take and post a picture of what my kitchen looks like at the end of a cooking day. That day is not today!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mini Quichie-ism

I love playgroup. I love the women and I love the kids. I love that we all try to feed our children well, and yet nobody cares when the hostess breaks out 50 Chicken McNuggets to feed the 15 children on a Friday afternoon. In fact, we find it to be genius and adopt the practice as our own.

I also love that they all Oooh and Ahhh over my mini-quiches that were, in reality a little soggy on the underside. And given that Lent is impacting the wine consumption, I think they meant it.

Just to prove to Lovely Jill that I actually made them and am not just passing Trader Joe's off as my own, here's the recipe. Though I didn't take pictures, so I guess I could still be lying:

Mix two eggs, 2/3 cup cream, and 2 tbsp dijon mustard in one container; and 4 oz of corn, 1c. shredded cheddar, and half a chopped red pepper in another. I used a biscuit cutter to make puff-pastry rounds just slightly bigger than the bottom of muffin tin (12 smallish). Spoon the corn mix into the center of each round, pour a little of the egg over top, back at 350 for about 20 minutes. They did taste good, especially if you like your puff pastry a little doughy which I do. And apparently so do my friends. Or at least, they love me enough to say they do.

So, in college my roommate - Fabulous Ness, and I invented a religion one night. The basis of the religion was that she and I could marry as many men as we wanted and we would all live together - commune style. The purpose was to marry men with many different talents so we essentially didn't have to pay for anything or do anything for our selves. We were going to marry Nick - our hair stylist, David Duchovny - this was pre-sex addiction revelation, Trevor - a particularly cute RA to organize our social lives....etc. The point of this story is that we were eating quiche at the time, and so (logically) named the religion Quichie-ism. Um. Anyway. I'm done now.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Geek Love

Awwww. You guys. I'm not writing, and you're still reading. That's really inspiring to me. I'm sorry, and thank you.

We've been breaking this last couple weeks...I did that massive two week cooking day. And then Cousin needed some catch up time. And then she needed more catch up time. I'm not sure what they are eating. I think I'm going to cook next week...And I'll probably be using this Rachel Ray menu, as forwarded by the Lovely Susan. Or maybe a week from the Once-a-Week Cooking Plan: How to save the world and balance the budget in two hours a week. Or whatever that grandiose title was.

Tuesday I cooked for a different crowd. Bookclub! Yay! We read Water for Elephants so as to be better prepared to go see Edwa...I mean, Robert Pattinson in the movie next month. Also, Reese - whom I want to be when I grow up.

Though really, I just love the book. I think this is my third bookclub discussion on it. It's beautifully written, gives such a rich picture of circus life, and I love Rosie the Elephant to death. She is so stinkin' charming. The first time I read it, I also read Geek Love - another circus story. It's much, much, much darker and with a magical realism bent. But I think Geek Love makes a better post title. So there.

Anyway, we had "circus" food. Kettle Corn, Pigs in a Blanket, apples with fancy caramel sauce, and Strip and Go Naked Punch (in honor of Rosie, the lemonade drinking elephant).

Lovely Dawn sent me this caramel sauce recipe. It is insanely good. So good that you forgive it for having the dreaded corn syrup. So good that you will skip lunch the next day so you can use the calories to eat the leftovers with a spoon and cashews sprinkled on top.

Caramel-- oh, high heat, that's why it's taking so long!

Much better.

Um, Kettle Corn. Popcorn still mystifies me. I just kind of pour some oil and some popcorn in my Whirly Popper and pray. But since I was having guests, I thought I should be intentional about it. But not intentional enough to make sure I had the right oil. I know olive oil is the wrong oil, but my other choice was Crisco. Like, solid Crisco. So I blobbed it in there with the sugar, salt and corn as the recipe (which clearly didn't intend the oil to be solid) directed. Oops. It burned. Yeah, saw that coming, didn't you? I did it again and this time I melted the Crisco first. Much better.

Pigs in a Blanket....did you know that Pillsbury now makes just a sheet of crescent roll dough??? AWESOMENESS! No annoying lines that we don't need! So I cut the sheet into teeny-tiny crescent roll shapes to put on my teeny-tiny cocktail sausages.

The four year old wrapped them for me and I baked them at 350 until they were brown and puffy. Then I served them with a really hearty brown mustard. Yum.

And the punch. Um. Yum. It shouldn't taste so good: 12oz frozen lemonade concentrate, 12 oz water, 24 oz beer (the cheaper the better), 12 oz vodka (the nicer the better).  Sounds terrible, yes? It's so not. It's so good that you will drink lots. It goes down smooth....and leads to inappropriate behavior. You're on your own with that.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Week 2 of The Once-a-Week Cooking Plan took me about 3 hours this morning. So I'm hoping Week 16 will go about as quickly. Or even faster! A girl can dream.....

But because I'm a glutton for punishment. Or don't know my limits. Or am smoking crack. Anyway, for one of those reasons, I'm also going to start this tomato jam recipe. It's pretty no muss, no fuss. When I first got my hare-brained idea, after brunch in Madison, I found this recipe. But on closer inspection, it was for refrigerated jam only. I'm not sure I want it enough to eat it all at once, I wanted to can it. So I Googled again and found this recipe from my friend Marisa's blog. I don't know why on earth I didn't check there first. It's called Food in Jars, ferchrissakes. Anyway. I'm using about a pound of Roma tomatoes that I froze from the farmer's market last summer. Though now that it's started, it's really only enough for one small jar. Oh well. If it's good, I'll make a monster batch for canning this summer.

So chicken week!! Starting I don't make good bacon. I mean, it's bacon, so it's always good. But I can't get it to cook uniformly. Luckily this is going in something. I'm not sure what, but something. And apparently I'm to cook the onions in the fat. That idea definitely doesn't suck. And the aroma of the tomato jam and the bacon blending together is absolutely heavenly.

Chopping cheese is hard. Well, chopping a semi-soft cheese, like Gouda, is hard.

I don't know why it has to be chopped. That's weird. Is Gouda semi-soft? I just made that up, 'cause it's sticky when you try to chop it. I hope no one ever takes this information on the blog for anything more than my own ridiculous ramblings and ideas. I have no cooking expertise. At. All.

And then I dripped salmonella on my Diet Coke.

These soups are nice and easy, mostly just assemble - the dijon chicken soup is cubed chicken breast, dijon, evaporated milk, white sauce (flour and butter), bullion, garlic and cayenne. No cooking beyond the chicken, just combine and freeze.

This chicken-asparagus casserole looks delish!

I used yogurt instead of sour cream, because I'm still not great with estimating what I need in actual packaging. I guess it's not so much estimating as paying attention to actual amounts. Ahem.

And chicken fettuccine, again easy, looks good....I'm a little skeptical about the freezing and reheating pasta. But we'll see. It's cubed chicken, alfredo sauce (half and half, the chopped gouda, shredded parm all melted together), and spinach mixed with fettuccine.

Then there were two fish things. I made them. There was papaya.

But I'm done talking about fish.
Instead, I'm going to talk about what I did with the tomato jam:

The chicken asparagus casserole had biscuits on top and there were 4 left over. I baked them with cheese on top and then spread the jam over them. It is yummy. Not as yummy as what I had at the Old Fashioned. It's not as jammy. It's kind of spiced ketchupy. But I think I'll try it again with a full recipe. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Two Weeks, One Day

In the grocery store last night, mid-shop, I realized what heavily canned recipes these are. Like GW though, I didn't want to swap horses mid-stream. Had I been home and able to look at the recipes when I realized it, I'd have made appropriate fresh substitutions.....'cause look!!!!:

Seriously, I think I could start a bomb-shelter with all this non-perishable goodness. I can't even talk about the chicken and fish thawing in the fridge. It gives me palpitations. I'm a little daunted, y'all. I'm essentially cooking 4 weeks of meals in one day. Two weeks x 2 families. Hold me.

This cookbook has a "Putting It All Together" page at the beginning of each week which has advice like "chop all onions," but doesn't add up the measurements for you. And the week is (presumably) arranged in such a way that the recipes flow....we shall see!

First up, Seafood week. Since they didn't give me measurements, I'm just going to chop a shit-ton of onions. I'm going to need them. For those of you who don't understand sophisticated "chef-speak", a "shit-ton" is as much as my food processor will hold. If I don't use them, I can freeze them.

Hmmmm....these recipes might require less cooking than I thought. This could be good. It's a lot of assembling, me thinks. Like this Ruby Red Poached Pear soup: blend sauteed onions, beets, pears, allspice, and broth. Then freeze. Maybe that's the method behind the canned food extravaganza madness? God, I love the smell of canned beets.

Note to self: you are getting cocky. Stop pouring liquids right next to the laptop. You will die without your laptop.

And observe the posted "liquid fill" line when pureeing things with beets!!! Moron. No picture, I leaped directly into clean up mode. Sorry.

Next up is the bean salad side....I bought enough for two recipes. But by the time I got 1 can of all 4 types of beans (kidney, garbanzo, black, wax/green) in there, it's huge!! At least, huge for two families with children who are slightly picky. Add red onion, red pepper, balsamic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Freeze, thaw, serve chilled. Hmmm. Now that it's done, there are two family size servings and it occurs to me they could eat one each week. I guess I should have doubled it after all. C'est la vie. 

In fact, I think I may have made a grave error in doubling these recipes. I didn't read the intro and saw no indication of yield for each recipe. This cioppino (which appears to be a seafood stew, FYI) seems largish as well. I'm going to make a single batch and see what happens. It did seem like I was buying a lot of meat.
There's enough for, I'd say, 1.5 families. Which is just right, because I never like seafood when I cook it (except this shrimp fried rice, I liked this). Husband likes my seafood. Other people like my seafood. I love other people's seafood. But when I cook it myself, I often can't eat it. 

(Um. I use a lot of bold. It reminds me of the scene in one of the Emily books [Emily is LM Montgomery's other heroine. Not Anne.] when her writing mentor is dying and says to her: "Beware of italics!" The maid thinks she says: "Beware of Italians!" Hee.)

The recipes do seem to flow well. As long as I read the next recipe ahead, then if there is a little down time in the previous recipe I can get going on the next. The recipes have definitely gone up since the cioppino. The salmon stir-fry looks nummy, as does the southern shrimp au gratin. And this is going fast. I'm on dinner 5 after only 3 hours. If week 16 goes as quickly, I'll be done in time for Boozy Playgroup!

My shit-ton of onions seems to be holding up nicely. I love my 8 qt. dutch oven. Best $30 I've spent at Marshall's. I use it for everything. I use it to sautee and to make soups and stir-fries,  just rinsing occasionally. Heart. And sometimes I wax poetic about it too much while I'm sautee-ing and things burn:

But here's the thing about me: I'm going to use those onions anyway and call it "extra flavor." Shhhhh.....

Another thing about me: I always turn enchilada recipes into enchilada casserole. There is a knack to rolling enchiladas in such a way that they stay enchiladas. I do not have this knack. And, much as I am sure I will never be able to shake my booty like my Zumba teacher wants me to, I will never develop this knack. I am Scotch-Irish. My genes did not give me the booty to shake, nor the ability to roll enchiladas. I am ok with this. I am also midwestern. I'm more than ok with a seafood enchilada "hot-dish." Layer enchilada sauce (in this case mixed with sour cream, diced chilies, chopped olives, and the burned onions), tortillas, mixed seafood (this actually comes in a bag labeled "Mixed Seafood." Who knew?), colby cheese, repeat.

Also, I have the wonderful suspicion that these new tortillas I found, when fried and filled with eggs, might finally curb the Monica's breakfast burrito craving I've had since leaving Colorado.

And, you know what makes an awesome lunch while cooking? One of these tortillas with the left over cheese and and enchilada sauce nuked for 30 seconds. Just sayin'.

One week down, one to go. I'm going to break this into two posts. 'Cause even I don't find me interesting enough to read more than this at one time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I'm exhausted, despite my 9 hours of awesome sleep last night...But I have plans to shop tomorrow, and one can't do that without a list, now can one?
I'm once again curling up with a glass of wine and a new freezer cookbook. This one from The Lovely Susan. The Don't Panic book disappointed with the easy Chicken Cacciatore. So I'm a bit gun shy. I'll give it another chance, but for now I'm trying The Once-a-Week Cooking Plan: The incredible cooking program that will save you 10 to 20 hours a week (and have your family begging for more!) by Joni Hilton. How's that for a title?

This book is arranged by weekly menus. I'm going to give weeks 2 and 14 a shot- with 5 entrees and 2 desserts each, plus a couple sides. There is a shopping list at the beginning of each week. I don't need the desserts, but I'm lazy so I'll just buy the list as-is and sort it out later.

So we'll be making:
Poached Pear Soup (side)
Chilled Bean Salad (side)
Mama Mia Quick Bread (side)
 Easy Cioppino (I don't know what Cioppino - easy *or* complicated. I guess I'll find out!)
Maple-glazed Salmon
Orange Blossom Salmon Stir-fry
Southern Shrimp au Gratin
Seafood Enchiladas
Dijon Chicken Soup
Chicken Asparagus Casserole
Fettuccine w/ Chicken and Smoked Gouda
Red Snapper with African Salsa
Shanghi Fish

Um. Wow. That's a huge list. Ok....yikes. Help?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Other Cacciatore Update

Oh. This is not good. Don't make this.
It's fine. But....not really. As it was simmering in the crock-pot, I thought it smelled a little....thin? So I added a cup of red wine. I served it over some lovely, thick, Amish egg noodles. But I still need one of these to  cleanse my pallet:

Or three.
Husband "eh." Now I'm a little hesitant to make more from Don't Panic. Hmmm.....

Monday, February 28, 2011

*sheepish grin*

Yeah. So. I haven't been cooking. We've been eating.....but.....[insert excuse here]. *crickets*

I'm cooking tonight, though! With no groceries!! So beat that, Martha.

I have two week old corn tortillas, onions, diced green chilies, black beans, red peppers, three mushrooms (I don't know why, shut up), and a little cheese. Mostly in individual snack sizes. Who knew this blog would turn into adventures in scrounge-cooking?

So I'm going to make fajita-ish quesadilla type thingies.

Google says I can do it with some olive oil, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce and cayenne. So I'm going with it.

The red pepper were already cut up for snacking.

I sliced the onions and mushrooms. Chopped the garlic. Or diced. I don't know the difference, remember?

Added soy sauce and lime juice and cayenne.
Grated some cheese, and chunked other.
Made a filling of black beans, chilies, and cheese.
Cover the bottom of the pan with oil - veggie, olive, a little of both. Fry one side of the tortilla lightly. Flip, fill, fold, flip.

Cover with fajita-ish mix.


Am culinary genius. You may worship me now.