Friday, April 29, 2011

"Dear Lord" brownies

Just read a review that invoked God re: brownies. I'm going to make the recipe if only because of her comment:
Dear Lord these were excellent. I loved everything about them. If you don't eat them all right away keep them stored in the frig or they get a little smushy.
The recipe is for Fudgy Brownies.

I'm starting to assemble some recipes for a little family gathering we're doing next weekend. If anyone has a good make-ahead dish or variation on typical cook-out fare, please share!


Just finished cleaning out the fridge. It was apparently a long winter.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's in a list?

Forgive my extreme laziness in not rotating the top photo. I found this list in my Target cart while shopping a couple nights ago. I thought it was fascinating. The sheer detail of the note, down to specific brands and flavors, the grammar/spelling, the handwriting style, paper type...all these things that made me think "elderly woman who dictated this list trying to make it foolproof for her husband whom she sent out shopping."Is that what you see in it?

Compare that to my list below in comparative shorthand. It being Target, my cart was considerably more full than my list would indicate by the time I reached the checkout.

I hope to find more of these lists. Could make a fun analysis. So interesting to me to see what people are eating/buying.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pork Kabobs

Inevitably, I put kabobs on the menu thinking it'll be fast, forgetting how time consuming it can be to thread the little suckers.

This recipe is easy if you have a little time to chop and thread.

Pork Kabobs
- 1-2 lbs pork tenderloin
- 1 large red onion
- 1/2 a pineapple (fresh is best)
- cherry tomatoes

Cut all to desired size for your kabobs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush with honey. Grill or broil until done. Baste with additional honey while cooking if you want/remember.

Week 91—Hodgepodge

Mon – Left-over ham w/squash, biscuits
Tues –  Tomato white bean soup
Weds – Fish and cornbread, greens
Thurs – Orange Chicken and Sweet Potatoes (Best Loved Crock Pot Recipes)
Fri – Grill out steaks or burgers
Alts – crepes or pizza
No menu planning, just letting the fridge drive this week. Happy cooking.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Week 90--Let's Eat Out

Mon – Beef stir-fry
Tues –  pizza out (Ital Pie Shoppe)
Weds – Broccoli soup, garlic bread, pasta
Thurs – Orange Chicken and Sweet Potatoes (Best Loved Crock Pot Recipes)
Fri – road food
Alts – leftovers
Had a menu plan and got groceries last Friday, yet somehow just entering this today. Maybe it's because it's the last part of April and it snowed today. The trend is toward things lingering longer than they should. Happy cooking.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Pits

We lost our parenting license temporarily tonight.

This weekend we bought one of those urban fire pits that allow you to easily have a fire in your backyard. We thought a lot about this, because we have very young children who are as excited by fire as we are. Having surveyed some friends with young kids and fire pits of their own, and based on our own experiences camping with young kids, we decided that if it was tucked away out of the play area that it would be manageable.

Here is our fire pit's brief history:
Sat 5PM: fire pit purchased at Menards w/help of 3 kids. They like the one w/trees on the side. Sold.
Sun 9AM: fire pit assembled in backyard with help of kids before leaving for church. Hopes run high for a marshmallow roast later in the day.
Sun 6PM: fire pit has inaugural lighting. Kids go a little bonkers wanting to toss sticks in. Parents eye each other warily.
Sun 6:20PM: 3-year-old places hand squarely on fire pit screen, getting enough of a burn to leave screen-impressions on his palm. No blistering, no tears, but big eyes. Parents horrified. Child comments that the screen marks look kind of interesting.

Future of the fire pit? Undecided. Maybe reserved for late nights when kids are in bed. I just hope the poor kid doesn't have a screen pattern scarred on his hand for the rest of his days! Childhood survival stories w/friends in the future: "Oh yeah, this grid pattern is from my idiotic parents when they let us have a fire pit in the yard and I was THREE!"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chicken Cheese

We made chicken fingers for dinner tonight (chicken strips, dip in melted butter, dip in panko mixed w/Ital seasoning and salt; cook 425 for 12 mins turning halfway through).

My 3-year-old ate one, which was noteworthy since meat rarely crosses his palette in any form. He said, "Could I have another cheese stick, please?" I said sure, telling him it was actually chicken. He ate a couple more each time asking for more "cheese sticks."

Finally, he asked, "What kind of cheese is this?" I said, "Chicken cheese." He laughed, saying he thought it was "Chicken sand cheese."

Call it what you want, my boy. Just nice to have a meal eaten.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Week 89—Meaty-Meatless

Mon – Burgers
Tues –  Spanish chorizo and rice
Weds – Dinner out
Thurs Rigatoni Isabella Pasta (TOH)
Fri Tomato white bean soup
Alts – pizza
Late in the week, but here's what's been going on in our kitchen. Happy cooking.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baking Soda Volcano

This "recipe" resulted in a very successful volcanic eruption in our sandbox today. Give it a try if you're in the mood for a backyard natural disaster.

Baking Soda Volcano
1. Find a cup or soda bottle for your crater (we buried ours in sand to look volcano-ish).
2. Fill your cup or bottle most of the way full with warm water. Add a bit of food color if desired.
3. Add 6 drops of detergent to the bottle contents. The detergent helps trap the bubbles produced by the reaction so you get better lava.
4. Add 2 tablespoons baking soda to the liquid.
5. Slowly pour vinegar into the bottle. Watch out - eruption time!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

online in the kitchen

A colleague of mine just wrote a great review about using the iPad for following recipes (focused on a review of epicurious vs. big oven).

I don't have an iPad. Yet. But I constantly cook with my laptop in the kitchen in horribly dangerous scenarios akin to using a hairdryer in the bathtub. When my husband and I were first married we talked about "dream kitchens," complete with computer screens built into the front of your fridge. We're there, and fortunately, reality is better than the dream.

What types of devices will our kids read recipes from? I love my grandmother's hand-written recipes, but they are almost as quaint as hand-written letters at this point. Maybe cooking for yourself will be widely quaint too in 50 years.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

the Greek yogurt that wasn't

There is a slightly kooky Greek-American who posted a how-to-make-Greek-yogurt video on You Tube that charmed my 3-year-old son and me. We decided to try his recipe. It took us a couple weeks to assemble the ingredients (cheese cloth, yogurt starter, whole milk....then more whole milk as we'd drink our supply). Finally, we got around to trying it. The majority of the time it just sits in your oven, proofing.

Sadly, our yogurt looked the same when we started as when we finished. Like milk.

I'm not sure what went wrong, but the most likely cause of error was heating to the wrong temp. I don't have a candy thermometer, so just guessed on when it reached 185 degrees, then cooled to 110 degrees. Better luck next time.

Here is an exciting photo of what the pan looked like sitting there in the oven for 14 hours:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why I Love Press-n-Seal

For those times when you severely misjudge your food storage container size when stowing left-overs and just don't feel like moving it to a larger one. Press-n-seal to the rescue!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Boiled Meat=Delicious?

I've been working my way through Lourdes Castro's Simply Mexican cookbook. The photos are beautiful, and recipes very approachable, even for (slightly ambitious) weeknight dinners. I feel my Mexican grandma's cooking secrets are being revealed to me. Not that I have a grandma of that variety. Simple recipes that turn out restaurant-quality Mexican dishes. So good.

So what does this have to do with boiled meat?

Mexican grandmother secret #17: The chicken or beef used in enchilada or carne-type dishes should be first boiled with onions until almost cooked through. It looks pretty unappetizing, but must be key to making these dishes flavorful, because they are consistently turning out well for me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Week 88--Mishmash

Mon – Pork kebabs and sweet potato fries
Tues –  Jerk ribs and couscous
Weds – Tacoritos (TOH)
Thurs – Chicken tostadas (Simply Mexican p56)
Fri – Alfredo w/greens
Alts – pizza
My mom just returned from 3 weeks in Texas where they grow real actual strawberries, not the ones they sell in grocery stores in Minnesota. She brought back nearly 20lbs worth! We're going to make freezer jam using some of them today. Yum. Happy cooking.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wave of Destruction

It was just one of those days. Things were going to break, catch on fire, or otherwise fall to pieces.

It started when I tried to use the blender like a food processor, chopping corn. It started to smoke then spew black bits all over as the rotator-thing seized. You can actually see some of the smoke toward the bottom left of the appliance in the photo. Miraculously, after the smoke cleared and the black bits were wiped up, it managed to whip up a smoothie just fine. No more corn.

A bit later, my 10-month-old was playing in the cupboards. Taking advantage of a completely inattentive mother, he pulled a stack of 3 mixing bowls off the shelf. While 2 of the bowls cracked (ah, the last of our fantastic wedding-gift Italian ceramic bowls--boo hoo!) the little boy was completely unharmed. Phew.

New bowls ordered on Amazon that night (don't ask why, but we ordered ceramic again). The last set dwindled over 11 years, so I guess that's not too bad. My husband thinks it was cheap pottery, citing the numerous Roman vessels that are still in fine shape today. I suggested that perhaps the Romans had better sense than to let their 10-month-old babies near them.