this page is dedicated to quick kitchen tips and cooking. i’m not a cook, i’m a kitchen chemist. many of our meals are comprised of happy accidents.
still cooking all the time… just nothing earth shaking to report. fall is coming and i’ll start back on the basics- casseroles, crockpot meals, etc. to be fair, i only cook like 3 times a week now plus weekends because of paul’s travel schedule.
ok, so apparently, i’ve been MIA on the kitchen page for a while. however, never fear, i have actually cooked for the masses at my house. nothing really gourmet or wholesome, like her, but to be fair- nobody has starved or anything. however, we’ve been eating a lot of french toast.
french toast is interesting for a number of reasons. for one, its the only thing you can actually make when you rush to the store in a fit of ‘blizzard is coming, gotta hunker down’ AND you purchase eggs, milk, and bread. secondly, its a food that requires NO SPECIAL ALTERATIONS on my part as everyone in the fam eats it- and they eat a lot of it.
so without further ado:
5 large eggs- crack into a blender sans shells then add to it
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 TLBS sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg (its key- i promise)
a splasheen of milk (i’ve also done a spasheen of bailey’s, but the kids don’t dig it)
blend until nice and frothy and pour into a square tupperware dish that will hold at least one slice of bread floating around in there.
get a skillet all ready and hot. (stay with me people) i set mine on 5. use the bread of your choice and let me caution you here- it doesn’t have to be the freshest bread. as long as it ain’t green, you should be good. in france, they use baguettes, which is CRAZY, cause then its so crusty. anyway, take your bread and float one in your mixture. many purists disagree on the next point: because i think floating it too long makes it hard to cook properly without poisoning anyone. so i use a quick dip and flip method. throw it in the pan and wait about 90 seconds per side (nicely browned). remove and keep warm while you do the remaining.
top with butter & syrup, butter & powdered sugar, or a nice warm fruit compote (apple and cherry pie filling rock). your family will thank you.
breakfast for dinner is so cool.
this little dip is so easy and quick, you’ll wonder where its been all your life. i swear, its like someone took blinders off my eyes:
chocolate chip cookie dough dip (oh Lordy, its sooooooo good)
1 tub philadelphia cheesecake mix (they finally have this at the krogers)
1 pkg betty crocker chocolate chip cookie mix (in the pouch, not box)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips (if you don’t then its not chocolate-y enuff)
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg honeymaid chocolate graham cracker sticks (or other dippable items)
stir the cheesecake mix & cookie mix together with the brown sugar, vanilla. its really hard to stir so be patient. chill. serve.
that’s it. i swear, you’ll eat the entire thing up. and you can drag anything through it- as i proved at the christmas eve party at aunt lisa’s- its like chocolate chip cookie dough without the salmonella threat (no raw eggs). nummy nummy nummy.
by the way, its not bad for you until AFTER the new year, so eat up!
so i can’t believe its been almost a month and i haven’t posted another thing in here. so for all 3 of you reading about the food, gather round. its my super secret treasure. roasted veggies. ok, well, foodies prolly already know this and i admit, i stole this recipe from someone else (shout out to ronnie- who has made my home vegetable life very satisfying).
and since i’m not a true foodie like the aforementioned goddess, i cheat. YES, THERE IT IS. i cheat.
shuck on down to the grocery store and fetch ya some fresh veggies- we like to use fresh green beans, baby red potatoes, sweet corn in the husk, onion, carrots. you can add squash & zucchini but mine disintegrated during the cooking process. we keep it simple so that cole will eat it; david refuses (maybe an allergy- i think not) and that just means more for us.
scoot back to the house, wash and prep your veggies (growing up my aunt mary had a dog named sam that would snap your beans for you- i swear). snap the beans, shuck the corn (or better yet, let the kids do it- they think its fun and are amazed at my house that veggies come this way and not in a bag or can). turn the oven on to 325°.
chop up everything into bite size pieces and throw it all together into a 9 x 13 pan. break your corn into little corns. you can use frozen veggies here but they’re not as good.
then take a stick of butter (GASP- yes, real butter). chop it up on like it says on the little cutting guide and ‘dot your veggies’ with it. are you ready for the magic? liberally, and i mean liberally, sprinkle (or in my case, dump) cavenders all over this mess in the pan. that’s the magic of these veggies (sorry a.m.- they don’t make a cavenders without msg- but i’ve tried it with other spices and can’t replicate the flavor).
now you’re ready to roast. cover the top of the pan in foil and seal it down good. (i use a metal pan which has a lip and i can curl the foil under that). this seals it for the roasting process. my gal-pal ronnie uses a reynolds foil bag but i never can seem to find them at the grocery store.
stick the pan/bag into the oven and bake. for about an hour - 1.5 hours. you will start to smell the aroma of this about 30 minutes in and the peeps at my house start milling about- is it ready yet? you will need to stir the mixture up about 1/2way through to make sure that your veggies aren’t burning- otherwise those green beans will just shrivel up.
ok, i said already that i cheat (and steal- mon dieu) but boy, does it taste gooooood.
fall weather is closing in and that means all things good/hot/easy around here. things that have steam rising from pots and clears the sinus passages. as we’re caught in the middle of micro-soccer right now, ease is of the top priority.
tonights dinner is my featured recipe called dump soup. don’t wrinkle your nose. this is the easiest and most satisfying thing i make. its a hodge-podge of leftovers and all you do is put it in the pot and simmer. leftovers? like what? i’m glad you asked.
leftover meats- when you got snippits and chunks of leftover meat, throw them in a freezer bag and toss it in the freezer. leftover pot roast is really fantastic; pork, chicken, beef are great. we usually have some sausage (think bryan like you slice and put in beans) and we use that too.
veggies- man, if you have leftover beans, corn- same deal. throw them into a freezer bag and store in the freezer.
leftover meats (thawed)
leftover veggies (thawed)
1 can tomato paste
big ol pot and water
bag of soup veggies
small onion chopped
1/2 package of frozen chopped spinach- thawed (secret ingredient- usually left over from a quiche preparation)
start with the meat and chopped onion- put into the bottom of the pot and add like 1 tsp of olive oil and just saute. i realize the meat is already cooked but trust me on this. it helps to meld the flavors. then stir tomato paste into 4 cups of water and add to pot. spices- you make your choices here. we like it not too spicy since cole eats it too. add 3 more cups of water and one can rotel. really, you can throw in what you want. let it simmer for a while then add your veggies and spinach. cook for about 2 hrs- there will be a delightful smell throughout the house.
serve with your usual soup accoutrements- crackers, cheese- whatever floats the boat in your house.
so next time you have a smidge of green beans or pot roast left over, freeze it. you may be surprised at the pot of soup you’re able to create. mine’s never been the same 2 times in a row. and its an easy meal that just ‘tastes hard’.
ahhh, football season is upon us. we’re having a small fiesta this evening since most of our gatherings have a ‘theme’. tonight’s is mexican.
that being said, i did a few new things today in the kitchen to make our meal a little more pleasant.
tortilla bowls for taco salad:
don’t go buy the fancy schmancy kit in the dairy dept. you have everything you need at home provided you have a working oven, water, and tortillas.
ok, first let me start by saying if you want super large bowls for your taco salads (a la taco bell), then you’ll need about a 25″ tortilla. short of having that, here’s what you do:
preheat oven to 400°. you’ll need a large cookie sheet, some coffee cups or metal cans, tortillas, and a shallow dish of water with a dash of oil. salt optional. invert coffee cups on cookie sheet. take the flour tortilla (size really does matter here) and coat it with water on both sides. [i used a plate and just dip/flip]. sprinkle with salt if desired. carefully mold over upside-down coffee cup, forming a bowl. the tortilla will be a little ‘doughy’- that’s the point. if you want one side stylishly high, put it on the cup a little crooked. you can mash and fold the sides as you desire. repeat with all tortillas.
bake in oven for approx 10 min- keep an eye on them as they’ll brown quickly. take out and cool on sheet- do not touch them and keep the heathen children away- because they are fragile and will break. carefully remove little tortilla bowls by pulling straight off the cups. they are ready to fill and eat. i stored mine for this evening in a plastic kroger sack (doubled) and tied so that they’ll get a little crunchy. store them out of site of aforementioned heathens until you’re ready to fill and eat.
i was looking for someway to make my taco meat look ‘uniform’ and ran across this on the web. i added my own touches and viola!
get your taco meat, seasoning, and pan together. you will also need a small food chopper – i use a black n decker mini-chopper and it works like a dream. you could also use a mandolin, but it would be super messy.
cook your plain ol hamburger meat until done- don’t worry about the large chunks. drain and rinse with hot water- this is key- it removes the excess fat and the meat will better hold the flavor of the seasoning. wipe pan clean of oil residue and add appropriate amount of water and seasoning that recipe/packet calls for. simmer on low,low heat.
take your freshly washed cooked hamburger and throw it in the mini-chopper. mince it up- that’s right. it will come out all crumbly and nice. when finished, stir your seasoning/water mixture. this should have formed a kind of ‘gravy’- being all thick and bubbly. i usually add a tiny bit of cumin to the mix. put your crumbly meat into the sauce, and stir until coated. do not cook it anymore- remove from heat and serve immediately or store for later use. we find that making it earlier in the day nets better results than just serving immediately. it reheats and the storage time allows the meat to ‘cure’ a bit in the spices.
now your taco meat is nice and crumbly- minced. its perfect for tacos, taco salads, etc. it looks like you spent all day when you spent an additional 5 minutes. and it just plain tastes better.