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Food & Stuff

6 Feb

Well it’s about that time. Time for me to talk more about food I’ve made lately.

So you all may know how fond I am of my waffle maker. Specifically my new double-sided waffle maker which gets the job done in half the time. Whatever has me eating sooner! So I make waffles like once a week for either breakfast or dinner – whenever I feel like it, which is great. Can we just pause a second and appreciate the ways being a grown-up is cool?

  • eating waffles whenever you want
  • eating dessert whenever you want
  • eating anything whenever you want
  • not having to go to school
  • you get to decorate your whole house however you want
  • no one’s stopping you from buying a llama, or 10 baby chicks
  • you generally have more money
  • you can marry and play house for real with someone awesome

Listing the things that are a drag about being a grown up would probably overload and break my blog, so I’ll skip those.

So I was looking into the different ways I could use my waffle iron, and I stumbled upon this website, which talks about the various ways you can serve waffles for dinner. I just love people. Specifically people who use their spare time to tell me about the different ways I can fit more waffles into my diet. So she talks about add-ins, where she suggests crumbling browned sausage and cheese into your prepared waffle batter before you pour it into the iron. BINGO!

just...yes.

just…yes.

These were so filling – nobody in my family was able to eat more than half of one. So delicious! I put salsa on mine and it was just divine.

Searching for things to make in my waffle iron has forced me back to Pinterest, which I usually avoid. Something about perfect little Pinterest annoys me, but I have an account, so I have no right to say anything. If you ever look at my boards, just know there’s only one, maybe two pins that I’ve ever even looked at a second time. Smoke and mirrors, people. Anyway, I did stumble upon a tip about cooking hash browns in the waffle iron, which made me happy, since I can never seem to cook them evenly in a skillet. I’ve never been able to master the mysterious art of flipping all 800 hash brown strands at once to achieve an even brown. I get frustrated and end up doing a stir fry type of thing. So yeah. Gonna try the hash brown thing.

So what else? I tried to make a version of a Wendy’s Frosty, which turned out just okay. I had a random package of Kroger chocolate pudding mix in my pantry, so I was trying desperately to turn it into some kind of milkshake.  I looked at a bunch of recipes online but ended up having almost none of the other ingredients on hand. I ended up just making them with what I had, which was just the pudding mix, milk, and vanilla extract. I believe adding some vanilla ice cream, or cool whip would have made these better. Also, freezing the mix versus tossing ice cubes into the blender might’ve helped. Meh, still better than a kick in the head!

Copycat Frostys

I also made some Red Lobster cheddar biscuits, using this super easy recipe. I didn’t get a pic because my family and I inhaled them in three seconds, but they were AMAZING!

So, yeah. That’s what I’ve made lately.

Now I’m going to update you on my grocery budget situation. I’m kind of bummed because I went over budget this week. I spent $73 during my Monday Kroger run (target amount is $50). I knew it was going to happen, because I was in a hurry and didn’t add stuff up as I was putting it in my cart. Bad! I’ll be better next week. Also, my monthly Costco run cannot come fast enough because, man, I miss that place already.

I’ll leave you with a recipe for making a taco that my son  wrote last week. Is he a culinary genius or what?!

Wil's TacoWil's Taco 2

Translation: First, get a taco.Next, put meat in the taco. Then put in beans in the taco. After that put in sauce in the taco. Finally put sausage in the taco. Then put in the ketchup in the taco. Last put in mustard in the taco.

LEGENDARY! =0)

xoxo

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Taking the HI out of hiatus!

8 Jul

So…hey. It’s been awhile.

I feel like things could get a little awkward here, so I’m gonna just push through it.

Guess who joined me on my drive home from the store the other day?

Grasshopper in car

“GO BLOG ABOUT THIS”

If you’re a follower of my pointless ramblings, you know that the crickets hate me and often send grasshoppers out to scare and intimidate me. So I wasn’t all that surprised to see this guy staring me down from my dashboard. Thanks for reminding me to blog, nasty thing. “Preshiate ya.

So yeah, we moved. That’s why the no blogs in like three months. It all happened so fast…….I’m still not exactly sure how. I did a lot of smiling, nodding, and signing. Oh, and packing. I would estimate about 76 miles of corrugated cardboard passed through my hands during the months of May and June. We are now 15 minutes away from our old house in a general northwesterly direction. Why did we move? It sounds so lame to say we needed more room. Our old house was about 1800 square feet. Why was this not enough room for our family of 4 (plus cat & dog)? I have no idea. Growing up in South Florida my 4 person family lived happily in 1000 square feet. And we had turtles and cats and dogs and hamsters and whatever else too. I don’t remember ever feeling cramped. Go figure. My excuse is this is Texas. The rate of square feet exchange is like 50%. Or some other math figure that makes sense.

So what else?

Since I like to show you random food I’ve made, I’m going to do it again now.

20130525_085323

Sorry about Ariel’s “seashells” there. Crass.

This was for special breakfast and it was egg, hashbrowns, cheese, and ketchup. Food pyramid complete.

Mac n Cheese burger

Mac ‘n Cheese Burger

I posted this one on Facebook during my blog hiatus, and told myself I would go back and do a whole post on it because it was THAT good. Well that clearly didn’t happen, but these were mindblowing anyway. MO: Stuff cooked Mac & Cheese into hamburger patties and cook. I think I slathered barbecue sauce on these. Sounds like something I would do.

Alrighty, that’s all for now. I’m rusty and all this took me like an hour. Better next time. xoxo

December baking: Successes and failures.

28 Dec

So Christmas is over yet again. Blah.

Putting Christmas stuff away is exactly as fun as packing to go home from vacation. Which is to say it’s a huge bummer. I’m doing it little by little – like I took all the Christmas cards we got from friends and family off the fridge. It was sad. That’s enough for this week.

I did a fair amount of baking this month, and ate about 92 cookies and a bunch of everything else. Here’s a sampling of stuff I made:

CHRISTMAS BUTTER

At least it's a cute jar.

At least it’s a cute jar.

Remember when I said I would work out the kinks before I gifted Christmas Butter to anyone? Well I didn’t. It still hardens and crumbles horribly after being refrigerated for any length of time. So to those who received my Christmas Butter, I’m really sorry. I feel like I might have ruined your Christmas a little bit, cause who wants to fight with hard butter? Reminds me of that old Dr. Katz episode… “When my mother was upset with my father she would never yell at him. She would give him a soft piece of bread and a hard pat of butter and just watch him struggle.”

Anyway, if you can manage to hoist some out and microwave it for a few seconds, it’s really good, I promise.

CREPES

Say you love Crepes!

Say you love Crepes!

I really only made these so we had an excuse to over-quote Talladega Nights incessantly. And we did. They were filled with a cream cheese/nutmeg mixture. They were delicious, if I do say so myself!

RED VELVET COOKIES

red velvet cookies

I found the recipe for these here and thought they were so pretty and Christmasy. It took me a few hundred batches (9 actually) to get the coloring right. At first I ran out of the necessary amount of red food coloring, and being the culinary genius that I am, figured I could supplement with a teeny bit of purple.  This made the mix look like something they would use for zombie makeup in a movie, so I added a few drops of yellow. Flashback to the time I tried to cut my own bangs as a kid. Just a little trim here, a little more there, a tad more off the sides, another inch over here to even it up…oh crap.

play ball!

The pictures above are from that first batch. As you can see, what I ended up with was something close to baseball clay. Eh, close enough.

By the 7th, 8th, and 9th batches, they looked more like this:

20121228_120003

Practice makes red cookies!

SUGAR COOKIES

20121217_142854

Before the ship-fail.

These were SO GOOD. Unfortunately, what made them so delicious also caused their demise. At least where my Florida family is concerned. See I tried this new frosting which claims to be the best frosting the interwebs has ever tasted. I’m telling you right here and now, it is. I will probably make this frosting for cakes and whatnot for the rest of my life. What I will not do however, is try to ship it in a box to someone four states away. This frosting doesn’t harden and hold together like Betty Crocker’s does. It stays soft and is super prone to melting. I had a feeling this was going to happen if I tried to ship these. I don’t know what I thought. Maybe that the post office people would take extra loving care with my boxes and it would all be ok.  I’m figuring things started to turn bad somewhere around Louisiana. All I know is many of them “did not make the trip”. I invite any of my family who received these cookies from me to post an “after” picture, if you have it. Caption: NAILED IT.

***

In other news, I find this to be absolutely hilarious.

oh, classic Grumpy Cat.

oh, classic Grumpy Cat.

Thanksgiving Food

23 Nov

Well, Thanksgiving is over for another year.

I did cook this year, but I almost didn’t.

This year it just so happened that my little family of 4 was on our own for Thanksgiving dinner, which I’m perfectly fine with. No, living 20 driving hours away from your entire extended family is not a barrel of laughs, but it’s our reality and we’ve embraced it.

A few weeks ago I started thinking how I wasn’t really feeling the whole turkey and 8 side items shebang this time and maybe I just wanted to order one of of those catered Thanksgiving dinners from a restaurant where they’ll cook everything for you the day before and you just have to heat it up before you serve it.  Not sure what I was thinking. Thanksgiving is the Super Bowl of cooking – an event I’ve been preparing for all year, and I’m gonna let someone else run the ball for me? note to self: try to make it so there’s less football on the television.

Aside from the fact that I prefer to make my family’s food myself, we would certainly be overpaying for the food through a caterer (pretty sure I can make a green bean casserole for less than $15.99).

So it was a no-brainer. I would be cooking Thanksgiving dinner myself.

Just in case you’re wondering, the catering deal was $60. It’s hard to say exactly what I spent on my ingredients because I picked up a few random non-Thanksgiving food items while I was at the store, but my entire receipt came to $58 and change. Cha-ching! Nailing this already.

I stumbled upon this video, which is the simplest turkey recipe I’ve found. It also happens to produce the most amazing gravy I think I’ve ever tasted. I was nervous about incorporating the neck and heart and stuff because, well, it’s super gross. I like to avoid thinking about the turkey as having been an actual living thing, and acknowledging the presence of a heart really makes that difficult.  But I followed Chef John’s instruction and used the bagged organs to make a stock which later turned into the aforementioned amazing gravy. Pretty sure when whoever first started using “gravy” as a street word to describe something that is better than good, they were inspired by this gravy. The gravy section is in part 2 of the videos, in case you’re actually interested.

What initially caught my attention was his technique of spreading butter under the turkey’s skin before cooking. I’ve never heard of that before. Of course I’ve since found out pretty much everyone else already knows about the under the skin trick and has done it before. This happens to me regularly. Sorta like the time I thought I invented the fact that heavy cream will turn into butter if you whip it long enough.

Anyway, amazing turkey. Here’s a picture of it before it went into the oven. I don’t have an after picture because when it came out of the oven I was thinking more about eating it than taking its picture.

In addition to learning about the under-the-skin thing, I learned that the celery/onion/carrot bed under the turkey is referred to as a mirepoix. Not, as I incorrectly texted to my mom, a meer-plah. Seriously, I had no idea what the guy was saying on the video. Just goes to show you, you’re never too old to ask your mama what a word means.

Anyway, the whole dinner went off without a hitch, amazingly. Except that the turkey ended up cooking faster than I had estimated (my Jedi math skills fail me again), and I had to scramble a little to get the other stuff finished quickly. But yeah. It all worked out pretty well!

Here’s a picture of my plate, before gravy. I didn’t want you to see how much gravy I heaped on. It was embarrassing.

I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving, surrounded by people who love you. I know I did.

ps- It’s officially Christmas now.

Avocado and Failure

26 Sep

First of all, doesn’t this look amazing?

Grilled Cheese and Avocado

Well it was amazing. Avocados and homemade butter are my current best friends.

On a related note, I made stick butter!

Only two problems so far – my butter gets way hard after it’s been in the refrigerator for awhile. I have to zap it in the microwave to get it anywhere near spreadable. Do they put something else in store butter to make it softer? The container of store bought butter that I have says the ingredients are sweet cream, salt, and EVOO. Guess I’ll try throwing in a little of that next time. The other problem is that I am totally eye-balling the size of these sticks, and I have no real idea how many tablespoons are in there. I don’t have those handy markings on the wrapper either, to tell me where to cut if I want a certain number of tablespoons. Don’t worry, I will work out the kinks before you receive your Christmas butter.

Anyway, so about failure. We’ve all been there, right?  I’ve got a fair amount of failures under my belt, so I’m no stranger. My failures include (but are not limited to):

  • Selling Mary Kay cosmetics
  • Almost every math class I’ve ever taken
  • Every history class I’ve ever taken
  • The pants I tried to make for my son where I sewed the legs together
  • That time I tried to wear high heels

Well  I failed again this week.There was this company I was trying to write for, one of those “write about such and such and we’ll pay you x per word, or y per article” deals. Anyway their testing process was extremely detailed and demanding. I remember having the feeling that the intent was to see how well I follow direction, rather than how well I can write. I devoted what I would consider to be “too much” time to completing this test, and thought I had hit all the requirements. I ended up making a styling mistake with some of the links in my article. Ok, all of the links in my article were displayed incorrectly. I got a “thanks, but we’ll be passing on your services” email. Hey, no hard feelings, company. I should have paid better attention to your ten-thousand instructions. My rationalizing thoughts were that if their article requirements are anything like their testing requirements, I probably don’t have time for that level of commitment anyway. Nor do I have the desire to write for a company who values fixable minutiae over my writing style and ability. I may or may not have fired off a sassy email informing them of my thoughts on the matter. Mission complete, looks like that bridge is good and burned.

Whatever, I’ll just go make some more butter.

Let’s Eat…again.

8 Sep

So we know each other well enough now that I can come clean, right? Can this be a safe place? I’m going to tell you my most guarded secret – my biggest weakness – and trust that you won’t judge me or point and laugh. Or go ahead, just don’t tell me you did.

Ok, here goes.

I am a cereal junkie.

Not just any cereal…

yes please.

Ya know how people say they could eat whatever their favorite food is for every meal for the rest of their lives and never get tired of it? Steak, Mac & Cheese, chili dogs (which makes me think of that Growing Pains episode where Mike compares Carol marrying her boyfriend to her eating chili dogs every day for the rest of her life. If only I could have retained Social Statistics as efficiently as dialogue from 90’s TV shows – maybe I wouldn’t have gotten a D and had to retake it). Anyway you see where I’m going with this. I actually could (and have) eaten HBO for more than one meal in the same day. I realize how bad this looks for someone who professes to be “obsessed” with “clean eating”. I’ve not taken any good hard looks at the ingredients on the box, have barely glanced at the nutritional information beyond the calorie count, and have avoided scanning the barcode into my Fooducate app. After finding out my favorite hamburger buns are made with trace amounts of human hair (barf) and having to get rid of them, I’m officially sticking my head in the sand on my cereal.

My husband and I have each eaten a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats every morning since shortly after we got married, with the exception of the occasional weekend breakfast specialty item.

What are my specialty items, you ask? A quick rundown of some of the latest:

Waffles & Fried Chicken – Tasty, but just a tad more filling than a cinder block.

Cream Cheese & Banana Roll-Ups – Delicious, but 500 calories for one. Full disclosure, I ate 2 and a half of these last Sunday. (shout out to my Little Mermaid plate!)

Copycat Egg McMuffins – Pretty good, but the Canadian bacon was kinda tough and my toaster broke that morning, preventing me from toasting the English muffin.

I don’t know why I try to be fancy. As I’m elbow deep in dishwashing liquid and greasy pots and pans at 10AM on a Saturday, I always think how much easier and tastier it would’ve been to just have a bowl of HBO.

HBO never disappoints. I’ve never finished a bowl without sitting back and thinking “Son of a bee sting, that was delicious.” You want your mind totally blown? Have it with almond milk. Coffee is the perfect compliment. I know coffee is the perfect compliment to most things, but it’s more than that with HBO. They’re the perfect pair. I’ve thought many times about what it would be like to just pour my coffee directly into the cereal instead of milk. I’ve never done it because I don’t want to ruin my HBO if it turns out to be gross.

Occasionally on Sundays, if we’ve had a big lunch that day, we’ll have HBO for dinner. On days when I haven’t made a specialty breakfast item that morning, this will result in 2 bowls of HBO in one day. If you ever see me and I seem in a particularly good mood, it’s because I’ve just had my second bowl of HBO that day.

Every few days, as a box starts to run out, it becomes a race between the two of us to see who can score the last bit of cereal in the box. We call these “dreg bowls” and they are a mega super delicious bonus. ( I know it’s an awful name since I think the word “dregs” is supposed to refer to something gross that has collected at the bottom of a liquid, but whatever, the name stuck.) Dreg bowls are so tasty because in any given box of HBO, gravity has inevitably pulled most of the sweet granola bunches down to the bottom. As a result, the last bit of cereal is full of them. A dreg bowl is mind altering and will change your outlook on life for the better. Conversely, the first bowl from a new box will have the least number of bunches. It’s still delicious, but there is a noticeable drop in honey bunches.

Idea: Purchase a large receptacle of some sort and dump the HBO directly in. Gently rotate to evenly mix. Maybe one of those huge glass balls with the crank like they use for bingo balls.

Anyway, it feels good to get all this off my chest. I highly encourage you to pick up a box of HBO next time you’re in the cereal aisle. But not all at once, I’m gonna need 2 boxes on Monday. And please, for the love of Lucy, if you find out there’s something gross in my HBO, don’t tell me!!

The Many Faces of Sweet Cream

4 Sep

This weekend I did a little baking. Partly because I told some friends I would bake for a get together, and partly because of this. If you’ve seen me in the last week, that was playing in my head. I don’t mind it so much, mostly because I have a great deal of love for Julia Child. Also it finally knocked “Call Me Maybe” out of my head, which had been haunting me for a month.

So what I made was Strawberry Shortcake. I forgot to snap a picture of the final product so I don’t have that, but this isn’t so much about what it turned out to be, as what I discovered while making it.

Quick rundown of how I make it:

-a big thing of strawberries cut up and marinated in sugar for however long

-Kroger (or Bisquick or whatever) all-purpose baking mix. The back of the box has a boat load of recipes. Follow the one for shortcake

-Beat some heavy whipping cream, sugar, & vanilla for the whipped cream topping

I won’t insult you by explaining how it all goes together in the bowl.

Anyway, the confusion followed by enlightenment happened while I was whipping the heavy cream. Whip, beat, scrape the side, switch hands, whip, beat, scrape the side. Picture me with my rubber scraper in one hand and my hand held beater in the other, because I am the only sad housewife in the world without one of those $400 Kitchen-Aid stand alone mixers. It’s ok though, I’m working on that bicep definition.

It happened in an instant – 10 or 20 seconds tops. I looked at the cream and thought “that looks about right, I see some nice peaks, time to stop. Let me just switch hands real quick cause my right arm is getting really tired and I don’t want to drop the mixer as I set it d-” By then it was too late. I kept beating for a minute or so, clearly in denial and thinking I could continue to over whip the stuff back to perfection. At this point, this is what I had:

whip fail.

Like I said, I’ve made this once before, but I guess I had a ray of beginner’s luck because it turned out perfectly that first time. Anyway, thankfully I had purchased the larger carton of heavy cream. Actually before this I was frustrated, as Kroger offers a smaller carton of cream that is about a tablespoon too small for this recipe. The larger carton has twice what I need and last time the extra went to waste. Thanks to my ineptitude, none went to waste this time. I whipped another batch (whip, beat, scrape, switch) and it turned out well. Yay!

So I stuck the good whipped cream in the fridge and turned my attention to the slop pictured above. I came very close to tossing it down my sink disposal, where all kitchen abominations go whenever I’m done facing the failure. Something stopped me, though. I’m pretty sure it was when I thought about how it probably still tasted delicious, even though it looked like wallpaper paste. There must be something worthwhile I can turn this mess into. I whipped (pun) out my phone and typed “uses for over-w” and I’m telling you Google auto suggested “I’m looking for uses for that over-whipped heavy cream that I was trying to make for this strawberry shortcake recipe but I accidentally whipped it too long because I was using an old hand mixer and my hand got tired so I wasn’t concentrating” Ok, maybe not all that, but don’t you love how Google just knows what you’re looking for, and assures you that you’re not alone?  You can rest assured you’re not the first idiot who has Googled “I accidentally swallowed 9 pencils and a pack of crayons. Should I go to the doctor?” Anyway, I got a whole slew of hits about how you can correct over-whipped cream if you very carefully add a small amount of heavy cream back into the mix and continue to beat without breathing for a very small amount of time.  Not really an option for me since I used all my reserve cream to make the 2nd batch, plus whatever, I just don’t feel like messing with that.  So there’s one other option. Apparently if you just go right on ahead beating the heck out of over-whipped cream you’ll eventually get BUTTER. Who knew?! Probably most people on the planet, but I had no idea. So I did the whip/beat/scrape dance once more, drained the liquid into a bowl via a paper towel (note to self: get a cheesecloth) and soon I had this:

butter!

I was completely giddy. I ran this bowl into my husband like “Honey! Look what I made!” He was not as impressed as he should have been, just so you know.

Other plus: I saved the liquid that I drained and put it in my coffee this morning. Too dessert-y for every day, but a nice treat. And it saved me a Sweet-n-Low!

sweet liquidy goodness.

I used 2 tablespoons of the butter to make the shortcake, and then put some on my little boy’s toast this morning. He didn’t say anything about it being extra good but he did eat every bite, so there’s that.

So, what if I made tons of this butter, put it in mason jars, and gave it out for Christmas or something. Would that be crass? Can you give the gift of butter to someone without judgement? Does everyone else already know how to make their own butter and officially think I’m on the slow side for just now figuring it out?

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