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Corer-er-er

29 Mar

This arrival of this past weekend meant that it was time for me to bust out my baking skills once again.  Oops…skillz.  That’s better.

I made Blue Velvet cupcakes with a Blackberry Curd filling.  (Psst…yes, I know that they’re not blue.   Do you know how hard it is to tint brown batter blue?  Clue: very hard.)

They were topped off with a Blackberry Lemon Cream Cheese Icing.  That’s right, cream cheese.  It’s the food of the gods.  Mm, mm, cream cheesy goodness.  (Though I have baking skillz, I have yet to obtain icing skillz…so for now I’ll call them skills.  You can’t change it to a “Z” until you’re truly a master.)

The best part?  Cutting out holes in the cupcakes.  I searched high and low this weekend for an apple corer as the recipe suggested.  Did anyone have one?  Negative.  Oh the usual mega marts had plenty of the apple corer/slicer combo.  It’s the lazy chef’s dream.  However not a single store had a simple, old-fashioned apple corer.  Go figure.  What they did have was a cupcake corer.  Now explain that one to me.  I feel safe in saying that I’m confident more use would be had from an apple corer than a cupcake corer.  Though I can’t complain too much.  It was exactly what I needed and may now be my favorite kitchen gadget.  (Other than the vegetable peeler from Williams and Sonoma.  My goodness it is fabulous.)  And with such a handy little tool I ended up having a mountain of fresh, hot cupcake centers on which to dine.  It’s almost as good as doughnut holes.  Almost.

If this catches your fancy, you can click here to get the recipe.  (And see what color blue velvet cupcakes should be. )  [wink]

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20/20

8 Mar

Yesterday afternoon I took Fisher to the Optometrist for an eye exam at the instruction of his teacher.  I was convinced that he needed glasses and so was his teacher.  (shudder)  For those of you out there that have boys, I am sure you can sympathize with such an idea.

Fisher could not have been more excited about going to the eye doctor.  (Well, let me change that.  He could have only been more excited if there had been a tooth cleaning involved.  My fishman loves the dentist.)  It turns out that he has 20/20 vision.  His eyes are working just as they should.  The only problem the doctor made note of was an extreme allergic reaction present in his eyes.  Apparently allergies are the root of his eye problems.  Thus today he started on a daily eye drop regimen that should hopefully keep his peepers comfortable. Now I only have to wrangle him in place each morning to dose him with drops.  Because that’s way easier than keeping up with glasses….right?  [wink]

And did I get my wish?  You bet I did!  Now let me just say that I do not wish any type of discomfort on my children.  And having your eyes dilated aren’t too terribly uncomfortable, so I think that I’m in the clear.  You just get to walk around for a while looking like a Bush Baby.  And does Fisher ever look like a Bush Baby!  I am not sure why, but the dilating drops the doctor used on his eyes stay in effect for 24 hours.  Which means this morning Fisher stumbled into the kitchen wide-eyed but not so bushy-tailed.  His pupils look like black holes that will eventually consume every part of his Irises until there is nothing left but darkness.  Creepy, huh?  I was thankful that he didn’t wake up in the middle of the night.  I was already battling my way through some freakish nightmares and awaking to the pure-blackness of his eyes would not have gone over well.  (Picture me screaming and diving under the bed sheets for protection.  Because bed sheets make for an impenetrable fortress under any circumstance.)

The poor kid can hardly see a thing with his pupils having their own area code.  At least it’s an overcast day here.  I don’t know how well his temporary sunglasses would handle full sun.  (They’re green AND yellow!  Hello, 80’s!)  By tonight he should be back to normal and he’ll have to find a different reason to wear his sunglasses at night.  (Hey, oh!)

In other news, I decided to make sandwiches for supper last night.  (Gasp!  Why ever would you make something so plain?!  ((I’m just kidding.  Sandwiches are awesome.)) ) <– Could I have incorporated any more parentheses than I did?  No, I made no ordinary sandwich.  I made Croque Monsieurs.  What, pray tell, are those?  Fancy French hot ham and cheese sandwiches.  With a Bechamel sauce!  (Ooo, ahh!)  I know, right?  I even got to use the rest of the Gruyère that I had left over from Spaetzle the other week.  They were hot, delicious and packing at least a $1.50 worth of Gruyère each.  Now that’s classy!  [wink]  Will I ever make them again?  Hell no!  After laboring away in the kitchen for what seemed like days, I swore to myself that I would never make another sandwich that took over ten minutes to make.  It is surely a crime to invest as much time, ingredients and money into a sandwich like I did last night.  Amazingly tasty but ridiculously involved.  So there.  Next time I want a Croque Monsieur, I’ll hunt down a Frenchman to make it for me.  And only if it’s on sale.  :]

For those of you without children…

3 Mar

For those of you without children, yesterday was Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  He would have been 107.  His birthday is a big deal, especially to elementary-aged children.  Jaden and Fisher both read Dr. Seuss stories yesterday and participated in a few Dr. Seuss-related activities.  The day is always a fun one.  “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish!”

Every year when March 2nd rolls around the kids ask me to make Green Eggs and Ham for them.  I’ve never done it before until this year and I’ve got to say that it was a hoot!  We didn’t take the easy way out by making green scrambled eggs.  Oh no.  They can’t be scrambled.  They have to look like they do in the book.  Sunny side up, my friends!  This called for some careful deconstruction with an even more careful reconstruction in the pan.  It’s an art, folks:

Iguana eggs, anyone?

(Psst….my butter got a little too hot.  Don’t tell anyone!)

I did end up cheating a bit.  I did not dye the ham green.  I know.  I’m a failure as a mother.  I simply forgot to check into that part before making the ham.  However, the kids didn’t seem to mind. They had eggs that were green and couldn’t be happier.  I have a feeling they’ll be wanting to add color to more food in the future.  It should be interesting.  [wink]

On a side note, I met with Fisher’s teacher yesterday for his bi-annual Parent/Teacher conference.  It’s a time to sit down and discuss his progress and to plan for the coming months.  One point of concern was with his eye sight.  He appears to be having a lot of problems when it comes to reading.  He constantly rubs his eyes and even covers his right eye entirely at times.  Thus he’s got a date with the Optometrist next week.  Upon discovering how many problems he’s been having, my stomach is in knots.  Having worn glasses for many years, I can understand the pain and frustration of eye strain.  My poor Fishman.  And what’s worse: can you imagine Fisher with glasses?  Just imagine: a little boy, keeping up with glasses and not breaking them.  Oh, the horror.  The kid can barely keep up with Ratty, his favorite toy rat.  I fear for the glasses that he may need.  My fingers are crossed.

It’s time to meet your baker

1 Mar

Last week I got the bug.  The cooking/baking bug.  I’ve never really been one to be adventurous when it came to cooking, but here lately I’ve reconsidered my position.  Maybe it’s my desire for a hobby.  I so desperately want something to do.  Something to define myself.  Something to say “this is what I do.”  Will it be cooking/baking?  Perhaps.  Who knows.

I began my exploration last week by making Spaetzle.  It’s a German dumpling which was fairly easy to make & absolutely delicious to eat.  Next I made a roasted corn chowder.  Again…amazingly tasty, though I had a hard time enjoying it with the knowledge of how much heavy cream I’d put in it.  My arteries cried out in pain the entire meal.  Lastly I turned my eye to baking.  Specifically something that involved the use of yeast.  I’ve never made fresh bread and I decided that this past weekend was the time to change that.  I opted for Alton Brown’s recipe for an Overnight Ginger Citrus Ring.  It was quite involved by not too technically challenging:

I finally get to use the dough hook on my stand mixer.  The poor thing.  Time after time I’d pass it up for the whisk attachment or the standard paddle.  I’m sure it had almost given up hope.  But nay!  It finally got to stretch its legs and see some action.  Plus I got the added bonus of watching dough rise.  By far more exciting than watching grass grow with the added bonus of not irritating my allergies.  [wink]

Then I got to try my hand at some fine chopping.  Let’s just say the idea of me and a large knife is a scary one.  I’ve had many an encounter with kitchen cutlery and I always end up on the losing end.  Bleeding.  And dancing around in circles while cursing.  It’s great entertainment.

Then came the part I feared the most.  Rolling out dough.  I’ve never had much luck in this area.  I usually over flour my work space or under flour my rolling-pin.  Holes usually appear in my dough.  Great gaping chasms that wreak havoc on almost ever dough-rolling endeavor.  Luckily yeasty dough is much easier to work with.  I rolled that ball of dough with gusto.  It never stood a chance.  It begged for mercy and received only decimation in response.  Take that dough!  Flatten yourself in the face of my boot-quaking fury!

All I had left to do before the “overnight” part was to assemble it into a ring.  That I can do.  Turns out I’m an amazing ring maker.  I know…you’re speechless.  The next morning I let it rise a bit more and then snipped some decorative holes in it before it met its maker….I mean, baker.

While it was chillaxing in the oven I whipped up an apricot-ginger glaze.  Because what’s a ginger-lemon filling without an apricot-ginger glaze?  I sad filling, that’s what.

By Sunday afternoon all that was left to do was slice and devour.  Oh, it is good.  I hate to toot my own horn, but I baked the shite out of that bread!  [wink]

Low heat is no heat at all

15 Feb

Yesterday morning, once the kids  were off to school, I settled into the kitchen to make Polenta.  Having heard its praises sung over and over again on Food Network, I decided what-the-hey…I can do that.  […and this is where the stove top whispers, “No, you can’t.”]  I had an hour before I had to leave for work.  Surely…SURELY I could boil some water+milk and stir my Polenta into creamy submission within an hour.  Oh.  It was not to be so.

The problem was in the recipe.  Oh, it was a fine recipe.  It even had Mascarpone cheese, which is a miracle unto itself because it basically tastes like butter.  No the problem with the recipe was the first line of instruction.  [ahem]  “Bring water, milk, salt, bay & cayenne to a boil over low heat.”  Well, that seems a bit overly cautious, but you’re the boss, Food Network.  The minutes ticked by and steam began to rise out of my pot and I had an “Ah-ha!” moment.  There.  You see?  It’ll be boiling away any minute now.  Then twenty minutes passed.  Then ten more.  And then another twenty.  What the frak, Battlestar?!  What’s the dill, pickle?  I know I’ve had liquids bubbling away on low before.

Well, my hour to cook came and passed without so much as a simmer.  My bay leaf was kicked back and relaxed in the bubble-less jacuzzi and all of my cayenne had gathered around the edges in an attempt to escape the pot all together.  Oh and the little bit of milk that was in the pot was hard at work at creating was appeared to be pudding skin.  [sigh]  How sad is that?  I basically could not get water to boil.  [hanging head in shame]  So I poured out my pathetic concoction and stomped off to work.

The other problem with the meal that I wanted to cook last evening came in the form of wine.  I needed some white wine for the sauce that will grace the top of the Polenta come supper time.  I inadvertently plucked a bottle of Merlot out of what was supposed to be a rack of Chardonnay at the wine store.  Because I’m a genius and apparently didn’t notice the color of the glass bottle.  Freakers.  Paul Giamatti would have been proud.  I quoted “Sideways” perfectly.  Although, I most confess that I did end up drinking the “effing” Merlot later that evening.  And it was delicious.  [wink]

After all this, I once again sidled up to the stove top last night for Round Two of boiling water.  This time I cranked it up to Medium High and did it my way.  And it worked.  And my Polenta ended up creamy and freakin’ delicious.  Because I cooked the shat out of that stove top.  Ha!  Who’s your daddy?  Er…Momma.  Right.  :]

The only thing left to do now is squeeze in another trip to the wine store.  And you know how much I love that.  [Hint: A lot!]

All you need is lov…food!

15 Oct
Tonight was a night for food. Yumness. I’ve always been a fan of hot dogs, but tonight I made some of the most heavenly bratwurst…to toot my own horn. *wink* Actually, I didn’t make up the recipe, but I read the instructions like a pro!

For all of you out there who work full time and have kids, you know just how hard it is to cook meals that not only offer variety, but also are affordable and easy to make. That is why I am a fan of E-Mealz.

It is the best thing since sliced bread. (I say that only to meet my “cliched phrase” quota for the week) Cruise on over to the website and take a look. You’ll cry tears of joy….or man tears, if you’re a dude.

So, tonight’s recipe was as follows:

Grilled Bratwurst with Onion Relish

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sage
  • 1 package of bratwurst (I used Beef Bratwurst)
  • 1 package of hot dog buns

Directions:

  • Combine onion, balsamic vinegar, water, brown sugar and sage in a saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Book for 15 minutes over medium heat until the liquid evaporates.
  • Add sour cream & Cover
  • Meanwhile, brown bratwurst in a skillet or on a grill.
  • Place bratwurst in buns.
  • Garnish each bratwurst with onion relish and mustard.

The relish was practically orgasmic, to be completely inappropriate. Okay, maybe not that good, but it was darn tasty at least. The kids even liked it, which is really the only testimony you need to hear.

In other tasty news, my mom & Charles just returned from a trip to Gatlinburg and brought back a sticky treat for the kids:


Mmm, candied apples. There’s a blast from the past. I haven’t had one of those in at least a decade. After sneaking a taste of one of the kid’s, I’ve decided to make my own very soon. I prefer caramel on my apples and would normally shrink away from the idea of making my own caramel. However, while trying to make a cake icing the other weekend, I accidentally ended up with caramel. Don’t ask how, just know that I have skills. ;)

Oklahoma and Georgia meet Tex-Mex

7 Sep

Inspired by our love of Tex-Mex cuisine, the lack of good, local Tex-Mex cuisine and our love of cooking, Jordan & I have spent all day simmering, chopping, mincing, caramelizing and rolling out fabulous Tex-Mex dishes. We cooked from Noon to 5:45pm with only a short break in the middle. We were determined to make everything from scratch and use the freshest ingredients we could find. We discovered that our knives are dull and we are seriously lacking in the knife skills necessary to cut up vegetables like a pro. No matter, we managed and had some good laughs along the way.

This cooking event was Jordan’s brain child and he picked up all of the supplies on Friday for our day in the kitchen today. After surveying his recipes, he decided we needed 8 cloves of garlic. Unsure of what a clove consisted of, he picked up 8 heads of garlic just to be safe. (Insert bug eyes here) You should have seen the look on his face when I told him that one head of garlic had about 10 to 12 cloves of garlic inside. Lets just say that we are good for the next year where garlic is concerned. *wink*

We made some fresh pico de gallo first…delicious!! There are few things that equal the amount of fun we had chopping veggies and herbs together. Forget going to the movies or eating out…cooking together with your spouse is all you need for the perfect date.

Next came the carnitas which simmered for 3 hours in the most heavenly stock/herb/orange mixture. Our kitchen smells amazing, even hours after coming out of the pot.

With the carnitas simmering, I started on making the re-fried beans. Bask in the glow of my bean mashing skills. (Also, bask in the glow of the sunburn my neck received from my day in the sun yesterday…niiiice)


While Jordan worked on preparing the dough for our homemade flour tortillas, Denny and I took a quick break to rest our feet. Denny was there for emotional support, of course.


Does my husband have skills, or what? The man was born to make tortillas.


I even jumped in to make a batch of my own. I was exhilarating to work with dough…It gave me a great sense of accomplishment to mix and roll out my own tortillas.


Put myself and Jordan together and we transform into a tortilla making machine. We were cranking out hot, fresh tortillas at a blinding pace.


After tasting a homemade tortilla, you’ll never have a store-bought one again. Jordan’s smile is a testament to their greatness.

After the tortillas, beans, canmita’s & pico were prepared things got a little hectic. Five hours suddenly shrank to 2.5 and we geared up from turtle to rabbit mode to finish our feast on time. We rounded out the afternoon with the most amazing rice, salsa verde and guacamole you’ve ever tasted. Chiles and avocados littered the counter-tops and flour coated each of us from head to toe.

Wren, Chloe, Charles and my mom came over to help us enjoy the fruits of our labor. Even though the process was time consuming and labor intensive, we’d do it all again in a second. The meal was delicious and the time spent together was priceless. :)