Friday, January 29, 2010

"All That She Wants"

The little ones and I took a "market madness" tour yesterday and we went to the northern part of the island to Nago and to a farmers market, where the produce was not surprisingly smaller in size and packaged amounts but far cheaper and of far better quality than what is carried in the commissary on base here (most of what is carried there gets shipped in from the states so the selection can be poor at the best of times). But with Japanese supermarkets being even pricier than our own, I usually shop on base, unless that is I happen to stumble onto a corner produce stand. While at the market I went a little crazy with the fresh tomatoes, all the fresh ones at our store are just sad looking, so we've been eating a lot of canned tomatoes. I was in tomato heaven (if there is such a thing). And that inspired tonight's supper!

This is a twist on the "funky spaghetti" from Oprah (that one young British chef was on one day). It looked easy enough, and tasty, I just couldn't be bothered to write down his version (or look it up). I call mine call it Dirty Spaghetti.

Slice/chop 1lb kielbasa sausage
chop 1 med onion
add these to a pan on med height (try not to forget to stir them occasionally)
rough chop and slightly smooch 7-8 ping-pong ball sized orange colored tomatoes (I'm sure these have a name, I just don't know what it is) and 3 normal sized red tomatoes
a soda can sized bunch of fresh mushrooms (we used the tall skinny kind with the tiny tops, again I have no clue what they're called, use what ever mushrooms you can find/you like) add the tomatoes and mushrooms to the pan when the onions and sausage are browned
a package of basil cut into bits (think confetti) add the basil to the pan when the heat has been turned off.
salt and pepper to taste, and add a dash of garlic powder (because regardless of what DH says food is yummier with garlic in and this is the easiest way to sneak it in).

The juice from the tomatoes gets together with the fat from the sausage and makes it's own kind of sauce-ish thing. It didn't even need cheese, and that's saying something coming from me. It came together faster than the water could boil and the pasta could cook, and after a busy day of plant buying and grocery (just the staples, milk, juice, eggs, WIC things) it didn't take too much energy or time.

Sadly there is no picture, cause it was kinda pretty all glossy with in it's own juices and orange and red tomato bits with basil confetti.

toss this with angel hair pasta

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In the "Gravy"

While the bread was doing it's thing....

In my large trusty cast iron skillet, coat the bottom with olive oil and heat. Coat a beef roast with a mixture of herbs (Mc Cormick's Gormet burger, garlic, onion, rubbed sage, black pepper, kosher salt) then sear the roast in the skillet on the stove top. This is not going to seal in any juices, it is however going to make the roast pretty, and going to give the pan some nice "stuffs" that will make the gravy extra tasty later. Once it's nice and seared (about 4ish min on each side) put the pan in the oven (350) and then add water so that it comes halfway up the side of the roast and add about 3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce.

In my other trusty cast iron skillet, 1 lb frozen field peas with snaps and one pakge ham flavor and enough water to fill pan, bring to boil and keep peas covered till tender.

Boil small penne pasta (it has it's own name but looks just like penne only mini) and drain.

By now the roast is done. Pull it out of the oven, and with tongs set the meat on a cutting board, and in a large coffee mug (about 8 oz water) combine with about 2 Tbs corn starch and whisk. Put pan back on stove top and bring to boil, add corn starch and whisk till thickened. Check for salt (mine was fine). At this point you can either have pasta with Gravy or you can do what I did and pour the gravy over the drained pasta in the pot and stir turning the delicious gravy into "sauce" so your DH will eat it. Because he had some sort of Gravy Trauma or something at some point and won't touch it, but if it's stirred in and you call it sauce all is well with the universe. So that's how we roll in our house. Even tho Gravy is one of my favorite food groups.

DD#2 thought the pasta with the "sauce" was fabulous, but I think I'm finding out that she's a pasta fiend, much like DS #1 is a breadaholic. DS#2 had a case of the sillies at supper and picked at his food but declared it delicious none the less, DS#1 cleaned his plate, and DD#1 almost cleaned hers.

Tomorrow is a busy day for us, so it might be a clean out the fridge day again, but with one bowl of soup left, some black beans and rice for 2 adults, or 3 kids, and some from tonight left I think that I deserve a night off.

Sorry for the multiple posts today, but our internet went out for the past couple days and I'm having to play catch up on some entries.

Dough a Deer, a female deer

My neighbor's teenage daughter babysits for me sometimes, and refuses to let me pay her, or her mom won't let her take money from me, either way it's fine. I'm not sure if it's cause we're neighbors and I mend things for her 5 yr DD and I share my "extra goodies" with them sometimes, but I'm not looking this gift horse in the mouth.

She is also taking a Culinary class at school (not just Home Economic, it's a "culinary class") and she needed to learn how to bake bread for a sandwich project coming up. A few days ago I gave her my recipe for bread. I thought it was fool proof. I was wrong. So we scheduled time for her to come over today and watch me bake some and see how it'd done first hand.

In the Pic is the recipe 4x because I make large loaves so I don't have to do it very often.

2 1/2 c flour (I use unbleached flour, and have replaced up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
.25oz yeast
3/4 c hot water
1 egg (room temp)
a little less than 1/4 c sugar (use a 1/4c measure just don't fill it up all the way)
3/4 tsp salt

Combine sugar, yeast and hot water in bowl, wisk, set aside;
combine flour, salt.
Once the water and sugar and yeast have become frothy beat in egg. Slowly add to flour (the dough should pull together and be sticky but not gooey. Add flour in 1/4 increments until this happens. Humidity, how packed the flour is in your flour bin, how level you scoops are; these things can affect how your dough turns out. Don't feel bad if you need to add more, I had to add almost 1 1/2 extra to my batch today) and knead for 8 min (I do this in my mixer with a dough hook).

Once kneaded, turn out into a glass bowl with some vegetable oil in the bottom, roll over to coat the dough. Cover bowl with a towel and let rise (at least double in size) then beat down (squeezin all the air out of the dough), repeat twice, on 3 beat down place in a loaf pan (I spray mine with bakers joy to make sure it comes out of the pan easily) or form into desired shape and let rise a final time. Bake at 350 til dark golden.

Variations: add herbs to the dough and roll the top in more with kosher salt.
add the full 1/4 cup sugar to dough and then roll dough flat and spread cinnamon topping ( 1/4 butter, 1 Tbs cinnimon 1/2c brown sugar) roll, and cut for cinnamon rolls, let rise and bake as above,
divide into rolls,
divide into large marble size balls dip into herbed butter and line bunt pan, bake as above.
This is a really good basic bread recipe feel free to play around with it.

While the bread was getting kneaded and rising I cooked supper. It's in the next blog.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

1 lb grd beef
1 lb chopped steamed broccoli florettes
1 lb boiled ditalini pasta (looks like pearler beads)
2/3 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Tbs basil
1 tsp fresh grd pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
some garlic, onion and oregano powder

Mix in a large pot. You can put this in bowls and give it to your children with forks or spoons to eat but the 11month old will just throw the utensil on the floor and pick the bowl up and stick her head in it to eat, much like the dog, it's cute, but you shouldn't encourage it, really. It was a hit, and DS #2 clamored for it for lunch again today. So this might come out again when I'm not really in the mood to cook, or need something fast, although the pasta might change, noodles are noodles right?

A Spoon Full of Sugar

One of DH's friends on Facebook needed a baking idea, I made this last summer for some friends that came over for supper, they wanted dinner after, and I had some blueberries and a few plums in the fridge, and tossed this together. Turned out well.

Plumberry Buckle:
1/2 pint blue berries
4-5 small plums (diced)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 cup water
simmer till berries are burst and liquid is syrupy, then pour into pie pan or other dish that is lined with dough. See below for dough recipe.
1 1/2c flour
1/2c cornstarch
1/4c sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 c butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cream
combine flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, cornstarch. pinch in butter till crumbly. combine egg, cream, vanilla, then add to flour, butter mixture to form dough.

divide into thirds, line the bottom of a dish with 1/3 dough. press pinches of the remaining 2/3 of the dough into sugar then lay (sugar side up) atop the fruit mix till covered.
Bake 350 for 30 min. Enjoy mmmmmm

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Sun Will Come Out, Tomorrow, or the day after, or sometime soon

The day started out bright and a fair temperature, and all of a sudden without warning, it started to drizzle, and then rain, and it didn't stop. At all. The entire day. Crock Pot to the rescue!!

1 lb dried black beans
1/2 gal water
7 chicken thighs
1 onion rough chopped
3 small cloves garlic rough chopped
1 tsp fresh grd black pepper
2 tsp oregano
1 Tbs paprika

Let the above just hang out in the crock pot all day, just forget it's there. I did. Then around 6 freak out that you haven't started supper yet and rush into the kitchen and burn yourself on said hot crock pot (cause you're trying to move it out of your way, wondering why it's out in the first place). Now that you remember you already have dinner well in hand you will need:

3 cups cooked rice
1/2 (it's all I had, could have sworn there was a full jar) jar of Spanish olives sliced/chopped
and to pull the meat off the bones

Toss all all this back in the pot with the beans and the "juice" . Sorry, no picture tonight, it wasn't pretty, but it sure was tasty!
This ends up being thicker than what I'd call soup but thinner than traditional beans and rice. Now we're just waiting for the sun to come out so we can do some out door things, like yard picnics, and digging in the dirt. And maybe a fresh tomato?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Fresh Shrimp and Steak and Steak"

It's official, the aliens have landed, and they took my husband!

I came downstairs after a long day of going through all the kids toys and board games, removing all the trash, broken things, unused, and generally restoring order to the Play Room, and 3 closets, to find DH getting the Rib Eye and Shrimp out of the fridge.

"I was just about to start supper, it's why I came down"

"I'm going to help" he says.

At this point I fully expect him to leave the kitchen because this is as far as his help usually goes. To my shock and utter delight he asks what he can do NEXT. Quick to cover my amazement I set him to trimming the fat off of the rib eyes and dicing them. Salt and pepper the meat when diced.

In a large pot fill with water add 5 heafty pinches of Kosher salt and 1/4 bottle teriyaki sauce (the runny kind) bring to a boil, add jumbo shrimp till they float and just turn pink. drain and let cool then peel. (DH gets the credit for draining the shrimp and peeling them)

dice a orange bell pepper and med size yellow onion then cook in large pan with salt and olive oil till golden brown, add meat to pan and cook on high just till all edges are brown (should still be rare-md rare in inside of chunks) add 1 can mushrooms.

cook 1 lb angel hair pasta (DH also gets the credit for breaking the noodles before adding them to the pot and then draining them once tender) and add 1 can diced tomatoes and 1/4 cup cream, toss to combine.

layer pasta, meat with peppers, onions, mushrooms and then shrimp.

The shrimp had the perfect saltyness to them (which is all shrimp really need) and the steak with peppers and onions went well with the just barely creamy/tomato pasta. Since there wasn't a lot of anything in tonight's supper it wasn't overly rich, it hit all the right spots without going overboard. I was thankful for DH's help in the kitchen (even though he wouldn't let me put garlic in anything) it's always nicer to have someone there to help chop things, and lift heavy pots full of boiling water. Not to mention how much nicer it is to cook a meal with music in the back ground instead of the TV or video game noise!

to get the full effect of today's title listen to this song but use these words
"fresh shrimp and steak and steak
fresh shrimp and steak and steak
fresh shrimp and steak do the fresh shrimp and steak
fresh shrimp and steak do the fresh shrimp and steak"

Friday, January 22, 2010

"insert chicken dance music here" flap, flap, flap, flap

Why doesn't that song have words? I mean the music is catchy as heck, it's been in my head since my post yesterday when I mentioned the chicken chunks I was contemplating. And I think cooking on a griddle has to be on of the most fun ways to cook, like I'm running my own Diner. I have a pass through on a kitchen counter to add to the feel, a large flat metal turner, and a collection of homemade sassy retro aprons, all I needed was a hair net and I'd have been in business!

I peeled 5 small-med size potatoes and gave them about a 1/2 inch dice (while sitting at the desk watching Hulu). Par steamed them in the microwave (place in bowl with an inch or two of water and a plate as a lid then hit the trusty baked potato button 3 times) drain and let dry a bit.

Dice 1 1/4 lbs chicken breast into bite size pieces season with poultry seasoning and garlic, salt and pepper, lightly coat with olive oil, spread on hot griddle and cook till golden on all sides. Place in large bowl and set aside.

Re-coat the griddle with olive oil and spread the potatoes in one layer, season with marjoram, salt and pepper. The key is slow and med heat to get all the sides a nice crisp golden color. Once all sides are crisp place in bowl with chicken.

Thinly slice an onion, cook on griddle till caramelized, add to bowl.

In a pot on the stove steam 1lb collard greens with 14 oz chopped baby carrots and 1 pkg ham flavor (picked up in the Hispanic section remember?) till tender. Drain WELL. Add to bowl. I had this cooking while I cooked the chicken and the potatoes.

Toss contents of bowl, check for seasoning (salt) the potatoes should still be crisp on the outside but tender on the inside, the chicken moist and flavorful, and the greens should look like confetti through out with the carrots bringing a nice pop of color and sweetness.

This dish was a little more time consuming than I'd have liked but well worth the effort on the flavor front! I think next time I'll do some of the prep work earlier, so that at supper time all I have to do is man the griddle. Most importantly it was a hit all around.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"head, shoulders, knees and toes, mac & cheese, peas and carrots"

Otherwise known as Tuna "helper". It's not from the box with the creepy talking hand, it's my own concoction (and I managed to spell that word without the aid of spell check!!) But same basic principal. Noodles, cheese, tuna, here's where I veer off the path, a bag of peas and carrots.

Start with 2 boxes of your favorite mac & cheese (we eat Kraft spirals in our house) follow the directions
1 Large can Tuna drained
1 lb frozen bag peas and carrots (the square carrot kind)

dump the veggies in when the pasta is about 3/4 the way cooked, then let it finish cooking and dump it over the tuna that should already be in the colander (warming the tuna in the process)
then add the butter and milk that the mac & cheese called for in the hot pot
with 4oz shredded colby jack cheese (about 1/4 of a 1lb block)
a few dashes of teriyaki sauce
a dash each of garlic, onion and pepper
and the cheese sauce powder mix stuff and whisk till combined
add back the pasta, tuna and veggies

It's not gourmet but gets lunch done in a hurry for a 3 yr old and isn't half bad.
This would normally feed my whole family lunch once, if we were all home (all 4 kids and 2 adults) with just me and the little ones dinning today looks like we have some leftovers for Monday? (unless the older kids spy it in the fridge and snag it tomorrow)

You can substitute the tuna for ground beef/chicken/pork and the veggie combo for what ever sounds good, and the teriyaki for BBQ sauce with equally good results. I always have the cheese to some extent, although sometimes I go with a white or milder cheese depending, and mushrooms can be fun in this also. Over all it's a pretty versatile child pleaser that can be thrown together in under a half hour (good for the lunch rush, or a mad dash dinner) also my favorite go to meal for something to fix and leave with the kids on date nights with DH.

Big plans for steak and shrimp tomorrow, and something brewing in my head with chicken chunks, potato chunks , carrots, and greens for tonight, not sure where that's going. We'll see!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"talk soup"

We finally got our soup fix!

Although it was fish free it was still tasty. Overtaken with the mood to cook before lunch had even crossed my mind today, I had a recipe forming, that got better only with the actual cooking of it. Dishes like this make me remember why I love cooking so much!

1 lb 97% lean ground beef (browned and drained)
1 acorn squash (steamed and chunked)
2/3 family size bag corn
1 lb butter beans (cooked in water and 2 Tbs bacon drippings till soft)
4 Tbs Soy sauce
1 Tbs Browning (it's over by stuff like liquid smoke, it adds flavor and color)
3 Tbs Kosher Salt
1 Tbs rubbed Sage
1 tsp oregano
1tsp pepper
3/4 gal water

drizzle with fresh cream at the end just to make it not feel watery on the palette (this is hard to explain it has to do with mouth feel, this shouldn't feel like broth, all watery, it should have a richness but not be creamy like Alfredo , it should coat the back of a spoon is all)

I know it sounds like a lot of salt in this dish but I swear squash is like potato in soup. You know when your mom was making soup and she over salted on accident, she added a potato to "soak" it up, well squash does the same thing apparently, so start with a little and taste. Also there are some flavors to me that just go together super well, and squash and soy are one of them, it's that whole salty and slightly sweet thing I think.

This soup was surprisingly hearty and DH even commented on how much he liked it, SCORE! The only thing I will caution you on is that for some reason when I make soup I think the pot needs to be full and feed 10 people. So be prepared for leftovers or invite the neighbors!

Thai-k On Me, Thai-k Me On

just a quick recipe, and a bad 80's song title pun, for this one because I forgot to post it yesterday.

1.2lbs chicken breast strips
1 pkg rice noodles
1 lb long green beans

follow directions for re hydrating noodles

steam green beans, then drain and add 2 tbs butter and 3 tbs soy saute and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

grill chicken with salt and pepper

4tbs honey
3tbs soy 2 cloves garlic
2 tsp ground ginger powder (you can use fresh ginger if you have it on hand)
2 tsp onion powder
heafty dash cyan pepper (you want this to be spicy but not burning your mouth)

then coat with sauce

layer beans atop noodles and chicken strips on top of beans then drizzle remaining sauce on top.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"I wish I was a fishy in the Sea......"

I longed for fish stew all day, day-dreamed of fish stew, imagined fish stew. Or perhaps chowder would have been a better name for it? Well, it would have gone like this :
dice potatoes
add to chicken broth
add corn to broth
add butter beans to broth
add freshly made bacon bits to broth
add chunks of fish (or shrimp or both)
season, and add a dash of cream to smooth it out, not to make it creamy tho, just so it wouldn't have been thin feeling on the palette.

No dice, DH was not feelin the fish soup.

I already had the Mahi-Mahi thawed!! And by golly there was going to be bacon bits and cream tonight! Plan B
Macadamia encrusted Mahi-Mahi in a coconut milk reduction with bacon bits over rice with bok-choy.

Not all these steps are necessary but I will include them so that you can have an authentic dinner prep experience.

Get ready to go to the store, to pick up last minute items for supper. This includes a 5 min argument on weather the 10 month old should have to go with me. I didn't think she should, she didn't.

Wander the store (cause you're there alone). I had a small list: coconut milk, macadamia nuts, cream (I am not sure why this was still on my list), bacon, and for some reason the bok-choy looked super yummy and so did the raspberries so they came home too.

Once home, ask DH to plunger the sink that is slow to drain while you chop the nuts, mix the nuts with equal parts Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Chop the bacon and get it into the pan.

Ask for more help, get ignored. Skin the fish and cut into smaller pieces then coat in breading and nuts. Remember that bacon in the pan? Well, I didn't so now it's mostly burnt, Dh claims that he thought "stir those bacon bits" was a one time event. Salvage some bacon drippings to brown the fish in. I'm not frying the fish I'm just trying to bring out the flavor of the nuts in this step. Once browned on both sides add the 2 cans of coconut milk and let simmer.

Guilt DH into chopping the Bok-Choy while you finish the sauce. Salt to taste. Cook rice (I'm sure you can handle that, if you have trouble with it just do what I did and buy a rice cooker, best $15 dollar gadget ever).

Layer Rice, Bok-Choy fish and sauce add raspberries on the side of the plate cause they're pretty and yummy.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

bean, beans, the musical fruit, I'll let you take it from here.

With all the kids and myself sick (snot and fevers abounding) cooking is not on the forefront of any one's to-do list. Peanut butter had been done the day before, soup the night before, I was running low on ideas and desire. My friend in Colorado gave me a recipe for black bean salsa last week. I picked up a couple cans of black beans during The Grocery Odyssey of January 2010 to try it out (rather than going through the trouble of cooking the beans in the crock pot all day for some thing I hadn't tried before). I didn't however have everything on the list, like the jalapeno or the cilantro, and I added some corn (a`la the southwestern egg rolls at Chili's) Hurray for Salsa!

Here's my version
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans of diced plain tomatoes, drained
1/3 "family" size bag frozen corn thawed in microwave (not sure how much that it, but it looked to be about the same amount as the beans)
salt to taste
2 Tbs parsley (no cilantro in the house, but it would have been preferred)
1/2 small onion minced into oblivion (you can grate it if you want)
1 cloves garlic smooched
1/2 tsp cumin
dash of cyan pepper (or more if you're not going to feed it to a 10month old)

We ate this with tomato tortillas and smoked oysters in cotton seed oil (the kids like to eat them out of the sardine like can with tooth picks). Not sure if everyone liked this, not sure in my fevered state I care much, it covered the nutritious bases, it was food in the middle of the day, I had it made in about 10 min so I could go back to laying on the couch with my blankie and my box of kleenex. Sorry no pic.

That was yesterday. We are feeling better today, so I am going to the store to pick up a few things for some experiment soup for tonight's supper. If you hear about it again you'll know it was at least edible, if you hear more than that you'll know it was a success.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"On Top of Spaghetti (squash) All Coverd in Cheese"

On the "Great Trek Through the Commissary" the children saw a spaghetti squash and marveled at my description , they demanded it's entry into the buggy. It would not fit in the crisper drawers in the bottom of the fridge and so it was placed reverently next to the milk on the bottom shelf. You would have thought some exotic pet had taken up residence in the fridge the way the kids have been poking it, and petting it and asking after it, "how are we going to cook it Mom?" "what do you eat with it?" "are you sure it's noodles inside, I've never heard of a vegetable with noodles in it." So, tonight while DH was safely at work, I cooked it (he's not a fan of squash of any kind, usually).

I made the announcement "Tonight we're having fried chicken legs and the squash with mozzarella, tomatoes, and mushrooms". They missed out on the boring stuff like the chopping it in half (cause I have a tendency to cut myself when people grab at my legs and stare at me), scraping out the seeds, and steaming, but I made sure to call them into the kitchen for the miracle that is scraping out the innards and it "magically turning into noodles"! There was much oohing and aahing over this changeling vegetable. I was secretly pleased with myself. My children are usually adventurous eaters but I had my doubts, they had yet to taste it. But I had a Plan. A good Plan.

Here's the Plan
steam spaghetti squash, scrape and salt to taste
shred 1lb mozzarella cheese
top with tomatoes and mushrooms (I've mentioned we like mushrooms haven't I?)

The Plan was not as successful as I'd hoped , oh they liked it, mostly, kind of, some of them. DS#1 gobbled his up faster than I'd seen him eat anything in a while, score 1 for The Plan DD#2 (aka the baby) ate 2 servings, score 2 for The Plan, DS#2 was not as impressed, ate his chicken and 3 bites of the main dish, cause he's 3 and that's the RULE (in our house if you don't like something you have to at least eat as many bites for as many years you are old) and DD#1 informed me that as long as she had more of the toppings in her mouth than the squash it was quite tasty. She said this, mind you, with a mouth full of food and a face that let you know she in no way meant what she was saying (like I was bind and couldnt' see that she'd only taken a few bites of the squash but had eaten everything else her plate).


The fried chicken on the other hand....
1tbs kosher salt
1tsp each the following
marjoram (the herb)
onion powder
garlic powder
black pepper
mix with 1 1/2 cup flour
toss with 14 chicken legs
In a large cast iron pan filled almost 1/2 way with vegetable oil that is heated enough to make a sizzle when you lightly flick some of the flour mix from your finger into the pan (or you can get all schmancy and bust out a thermometer with a frying setting, I have one, that I don't use, cause the way Grandma does it is faster) and I suppose you could do this in a non cast iron pan. On a side note, if you want your veggies to taste as good as they'll ever taste, and if you've been anemic ever (I was always anemic growing up, till I met and married DH, and his Papa gave me a cast iron pan, and I learned how to and started using it) you should get a cast iron pan to cook in. They are the easiest things to take care of, the only down side I've found is they weigh a ton, so use two hands when you pick them up. OK back to the chicken. This is known as pan frying not deep frying, feel free to Google it, Alton Brown has an entire episode of "Good Eats" on frying that is AWESOME (all of his shows are awesome). Only cook as many pieces of chicken in the pan so that they are about half submerged. you want the steam in the chicken to have somewhere to escape from. When they are a nice golden brown on the bottom turn and cook the other side.

I thoroughly enjoyed the squash, and the chicken, the combination was kind of like chicken Parmesan, kind of, if you were from the South. I guess I know what I'll be having for lunch next week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (teriyaki)

Fevers, night terrors, hallucinations, and limited sleep. Not the best way to start the day, but when you're a mom there's not much choice. Let's add to that gloomy, windy, generally yuck weather, and why wouldn't you want to end it on a rainbow? And as long as there's a rainbow there should be purple mashed potato clouds. Oh and we had some steamed broccoli too, DS#2 was instant on the broccoli, cause he picked it out of the freezer with aid of his trusty stool (it was the only bag of veggies he could touch). The rainbow teriyaki came about one night because the kids were clamoring for shish-ka-bobs, but we don't own an actual grill and the idea of my kids having long sharp sticks at the table did not hold the same interest for me. So that's it, there's no secret, it's the bob without he shish-ka or is it the shish-ka without the bob?

you will need (this feeds us twice for supper and once for one person to have lunch)
2.5 lb meat of your choice diced (I've done this with pork loin roast, chicken breast, beef roast, rib eyes, deer meat, I imagine it'd be good with shrimp or tuna also.)
3-4 bell peppers rough chopped (we usually use one of each color, but use what ever floats your boat)
1 large onion rough chopped
1 large can pineapple chunks and the juice
5-6 roma tomatoes rough chopped/2 cans stewed tomatoes (the tomatoes in the produce section looked sad)
1 jar teriyaki glaze (not sauce it's too thin, however if this is all your store carries you can use it just dump it in a small sauce pan and add a TBS of corn starch and boil to thicken then add to the above)
I've also added zucchini before, pretty much what ever looks good in the produce section and sounds good with the teriyaki sauce. This is tasty over rice, but with the purple clouds on the menu tonight I skipped that part of this dish.

for the purple clouds you need (this too will feed us twice)
5 small-md Beni Imo (purple Okinawan sweet potatoes)
3 small-md reg potatoes
1 stick of butter
splash of milk (to thin, you'll just have to eye this and add as needed)
Salt (to taste)
1tsb fresh grd black pepper
1 dash each garlic powder, onion powder, and nutmeg
peel and dice the potatoes, then cook the potatoes either on the stove top or microwave (in the microwave place them in a bowl with 2 inches of water and cover the bowl with a dinner plate and use the baked potato setting to cook them) when the potatoes are fork tender drain them and add the butter and milk (a little at a time) and mash (I use a stick/immersion blender), add the seasonings. I think the baby liked the clouds the best, because she screamed at me if I paused in feeding her to take a bite of my own supper. Leftovers tomorrow night due to a full day of field trips and quilt meetings!

Monday, January 11, 2010

C is for Cookie

I got my Sushi and my fancy Japanese Ice Cream, and the next day no one felt well; not food related, at least that's what we're telling ourselves!!

That takes care of the weekend, and yesterday we grocery shopped, for about 2 hours, and thanks to the new way I'm trying to eat I'll have to do it more often, but hey it burns calories so maybe I"ll look at it with new respect at least? Eh, we'll see. After grocery shopping and putting all the food away I was not in the mood for standing and cooking anything spectacular and no one was particularly hungry, the kids wanted: Mac and Cheese (the spiral noodle kind of course) with frozen spinach mixed in and hot dogs on the side. It's a crazy combo but the ate it up, so it must have been tasty, I had a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread sans jelly and blackberry non-fat yogurt. No pic, just picture yellow noodles with green bits floating in and red hot dogs on the side.

I thought I'd share some cookie recipes with you. Cookies are a Christmas tradition in our house and there are usually enough made for a small army, or all your neighbors and husbands co-workers, and still keep your house in cookies for 2 weeks! We do basics as well as some I've tweaked enough to feel good about calling them My Own. I'll just share those with you.

Holiday Bliss
1 1/2 c Butter
2c Sugar
1 egg
1/4 tbs Baking Soda
4c Flour
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2c diced dried apples
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg, in a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Bring the wet and dry together to form a dough, wrap with plastic and let rest for 30 min. roll into ping-pong ball sized balls and flatten. Bake 350 till barely golden (like a sugar cookie)

Monster Cookies
4 eggs
1 1/2c Peanut Butter
1 1/2c Sugar
1 c Butter
1c brown sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2c Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3c Oats
1c chopped cashews (or nut of your choice)
1 bag chocolate chips
1 bag toffee (or what ever that brittle part of peanut brittle is if you can find that)
1 c shredded coconut

Cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugars, add eggs and vanilla, in a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients, then combine the wet and dry to form a dough fold in the nuts and chips. use tablespoon to scoop out onto cookie sheet bake 350 10 min (do not make the cookies too big as they are very filling).

I know the holidays are past, but I'm always sad to see the giving spirit of them leave us. Feel free to make up a batch and share them with your neighbors anytime!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Simple, but always a hit

I'm still feeling the effects of the meds, and doing much of anything has been a struggle. I hope this doesn't last long and I adjust quickly. Add to this DS1 has a fever and it makes it nice to have a "go to" meal that you know everyone will like.

Oh! And I have to start being mostly vegetarian (no red meat and just a little poultry and fish, so now I have to think up meals that I can make where I can just avoid the meat portion); thanks again migraines!

my family prefers angel hair pasta to spaghetti noodles.
1lb pasta
2lbs 97% lean grd beef
1 jar sauce (I use the garden kind with carrots and zucchini and mushrooms, you know, the works)
2 cans stewed tomatoes (1 garlic and onion 1 bell pepper)
2 small cans sliced black olives
1 large can sliced mushrooms
1 large onion sliced thin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh grd black pepper
1 tbs basil
1 tsp oregano
add herbs and onion to meat and brown.
boil pasta (I think you can figure that out)
combine tomatoes and sauce and mushrooms and olives
normally I'd then add the seasoned browned meat to the sauce, but thanks to my new diet, I layered it tonight, pasta, meat, sauce, for everyone but me, I just had pasta and sauce (yay :( )

I think I might try to talk DH into a date tomorrow and get some sushi, and then we have plans for lasagna on Sunday (I made it on Christmas and froze it) but I"ll post a recipe for something (any requests?) and I'll post the lasagna (cause I think it's pretty dang good) and a pic.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blame it on the Meds

Thanks to the new migraine meds I have been fighting sleep since about 230 this afternoon, luckily there was plenty of soup in the fridge from last night.

Since I did not cook I will just share a favorite recipe with you all.

This was given to me by DH's Grandmother (I think she got it from a restaurant at some point). I've changed it a little bit, but I'll give you both versions with mine in parenthesis.

Strawberry Fluff
1 Cup Ritz crackers crushed, apx 1 sleeve (I like to use Pretzels instead)
1 Cup Pecans chopped
1/2 tsp Baking Powder (cream of Tartar)
1 Cup + 2 Tbs Sugar
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp Vanilla

beat egg whites, sugar, BP, and Vanilla to stiff peaks (this is IMPORTANT)
fold in crackers (pretzels) and pecans.

Bake 350f 30 min in a 13x9 pan (or any pan that is big enough for this to only be about 1/2 inch thick)

1 quart heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
splash vanilla
Whip to med peaks (it will feel like it's taking forever and then all of a sudden it'll happen so watch carefully) and yes it's worth it to make your own whip cream that stuff in the tub in the frozen section isnt' worth the time or money.

2 pints strawberries sliced thin (I use my egg slicer thing for this; just cut the tops off first)

Gently fold the strawberries into the whipped cream and then top the cookie/cracker thing.
slice and enjoy (since I can never seem to get a slice out of the pan and it turns into a big pile of not pretty stuff on your plate I've come up with a solution. Scoop some of the cookie/cracker thing into a wine glass, and then fill the rest of the way with topping, garnish with a strawberry).

This is my favorite thing to take to dinners/events in the summer, it's easy enough I don't mind doing it in a double batch but impressive looking (and more importantly) tasting enough to be a crowd pleaser.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"baby, it's cold outside" (and wet)

things you will need:
3-4 raw chicken necks, backs, wing tips, and innards (hearts and livers)
1 extra roasted chicken breast
6 cups vegetable broth (mine was left over from making Lasagna sauce, it had shredded carrots, tomatoes, lots of different colored bell peppers zucchini, red and yellow onions and loaded with herbs but just the broth bit I didn't need for the lasagna)
1 lb lima beans
1 lb mixed peas and carrots (the kind where the carrots are squares)
and the most important thing
1 hour to get the soup ready and in ppls tummies.....a Pressure cooker (because you wern't home like you thought you were going to be to cook the soup normally)

load the chicken parts into the pressure cooker with enough water to be level but not cover the meat
lock on lid and set dials (read your manual) let it get to whistling then time 30 min
turn off heat let pressure reduce and pull the meat out of the pot, then pick the meat off bones and discard bones.
add the chicken, vegetable broth, peas, carrots, beans into the pot with the water you cooked the chicken in (it's full of goodness)
Bring to a simmer, check for seasoning (salt/pepper)

2 ish C flour
heavy pinch Kosher salt
heavier pinch Baking Soda
nearly half a stick of butter
4 Tbs milk
4 Tbs sour cream

mix dry ingredients, pinch in butter till mixture is crumbly, then add milk and cream, but don't over work the dough just bring it together with a fork and then fold a few times and pat.
roll into large marble sized balls and drop into simmering soup. Cover soup till dumplings are all floating and fluffy looking.

So at the end of the day my check list looks like this:
Kids in school (although over an hour late, thank you Immunizations Clinic) : check
WIC apt : check (even tho I have to go back in one month instead of 3)
Neurological apt to solve the mystery of migraines : not so much, went to the Dr, but apparently, we still don't know what's causing them so more meds to try, and a new diet and exercise program too (hurray?)
Pick kids up from first day of school (DD went to school when she was younger but I started home schooling so DS 1 has never been in a class room, but they wanted to start going, so I signed them up) : check (and we're going to pretend no one got lost and was walking around crying a lil)
home work (this wasn't on my list at the start of the day but for some reason you send your kids to school for 6 hrs and they have to bring home extra?...WHAT do the teachers do all day?) : check (this is what made me start supper late)
(rush) cook dinner : check

The soup was warm and yummy, and relaxing, a nice way to end a drizzly, chilly and windy day.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

Some how we all sleep till 730 this morning! Which was nice, so much for my fancy roast chicken lunch.

I did start the day off with my banana pancakes sans chocolate chips, instead we went with a dash of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla. Even the baby ate 2! Sadly DH wouldn't touch them and I had to whip up some blueberry for him (oddly he eats bananas but not banana flavored things, even when real bananas are involved?).

This is how the rest of the day was supposed to go: DH and DS #1 head out and get their hair cut and stop by the store for the potatoes, while I stay home and get the chicken prepped for the oven. Alternately, we all go to the store (the hair cut place is in the first of the shopping complex which is next door to the commissarry) DH and the boys go get hair cuts while the girls pick up the much needed baby gate and make a quick run for the potatoes. Neither of these things happened. Here's what happened. We took DH to work, then I took all 4 kids to the store for the baby gate, DS #2 socks, diapers, wipes, headbands for DD #1, and running shorts for DH. Then I took the boys down to the barber, where DS #2 decided that he needed a hair cut too (he did just not today). Then a quick bite for lunch at the food court and since we're in the car I try to take the kids to their favorite indoor jungle gym. It's closed. On to the Library, and then the food court with the indoor slide/tunnel thing (not as cool as the jungle gym, but I had to take them somewhere or there'd be mutiny).

I prepped the chicken before we left the house (I buy them whole and then split them down the front and back halving it reserving the innards and back bone/ keel bone for soups) and had it in the pan in the fridge for supper.

1 Tbs Kosher salt
1 tsp Marjoram
1 tsp Poultry seasoning
some fresh ground pepper
1 tsp garlic and onion powder

I lift the skin of the chicken and put the herb mix onto the meat, replace skin, and place upside down in a roasting pan with 2 inches of water. Broil for 15 min then flip and cook till crispy and golden brown and juices run clear (or you can use a thermometer, I don't).

Sides for tonight were steamed green beans (the long skinny kind) and egg noodles with mushrooms and Alfredo sauce. Cause oh yeah, I never made it to the commassarry (I told you I loath that place).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cleaning out the Fridge

This has to be done, and I know nobody wants to eat the same thing very often, but the cheapskate in me just won't let me throw out perfectly good food. So tonight the boys had pork loin roast that was diced and browned then tossed with a carrot, broccoli, cauliflower and pea mix then lightly coated with sesame dressing put over rice. The girls had rice with pinto beans, taco meat (left over from the Taco Rice), collard greens (cooked till tender with some bacon fat) and salsa. It was a surprisingly tasty combo. Sorry no pics, I couldn't bring myself to take a pic of brown on rice with green flecks (sometimes food isn't pretty).

I have big plans for tomorrow tho. Since DH is on swing shift (lunchtime ish to midnight ish) I have to cook in the middle of the day. (I secretly enjoy this because we aren't as tired)

I think I'll start the day off with some banana chocolate chip pancakes. I use Alton Brown's recipe but instead of 2 cups buttermilk I use equal parts milk and sour cream (I can never seam to find buttermilk on Okinawa). I also add 1 cup pureed bananas and a few chocolate chips. These are tasty topped with traditional syrup or apple sauce.
2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
combine well

2 eggs (separated)
1 Cup sour cream
1 Cup milk
4 tbs melted butter

mix egg whites with the milk and sour cream till smooth
and the melted butter (at room temp, I learned the hard way to not add the butter to the egg yolks straight out of the microwave) with the egg yolks.
combine them.
add the wet to the dry and mix with a fork but don't over work it (this isn't gravy lumps never hurt anyone).

grease a griddle/pan...I"m sure you can handle it from here.

I also plan on roasting a chicken tomorrow...this might be my favorite dish. I might even make a run to the dreaded grocery for some sweet and white potatoes to mash.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2 Outta 3 Ain't Bad

It's time to start supper, and there's still dishes on the counter from lunch, so I call DD into the kitchen with me (dish loading is her job) and DS2 follows us into the kitchen and grabs the stool to get to his favorite perch, the kitchen counter. Since I'm using the grill pan tonight I have to deny him, which leads to a melt down about how he is big enough to help me cook. Some quick thinking on my part leads to him picking up any odd things/dust bunnies he finds on the floor under the cabinets and around the office (it's connected to the kitchen). YAY for small jobs for small hands. Meanwhile I'm having to explain for the X718362463th time the concept behind washing the dishes to a prepubescent girl. I did mention I was trying to cook right?

Dinner got started about 30min later than I wanted, so it's a good thing dinner was a quick fix tonight, the salad was made a few days ago (I just added the fresh chopped bell pepper), and the ribs cook up quick on the grill pan. Pasta is always fast, well as fast as water boils (quick tip, put the lid on a pot of water and it'll take less time to boil).

Tonight we had Flaken cut beef ribs (also known as Korean style), they're ribs cut cross wise of the ribs so you get 3-4 bone medallions with meat along one side). I seasoned one side of the ribs with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce, and a light coating of teriyaki sauce on the other and then grilled. Cabbage salad (equal parts red and green cabbage a shredded large carrot and a chunked orange bell pepper. Penne Pasta with garlic butter and tossed with tomatoes and black olives. I had considered adding some shredded cheese to the pasta, and as it turns out I should have gone with my gut, because I'm the only one who liked the pasta.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

And I don't even have a FaceBook!!

My first blog post, so lets start with setting the agenda: to keep an accurate record of the food I create. I'm hesitant to call them recipes because I don't actually measure things and cooking is usually more like a running experiment. I should warn you all that I LOATH grocery shopping with every fiber of my being, and reading that it doesn't seem to be a strong enough statement to express it fully, so, as it gets closer to shopping day (I try to do major shopping just once every 4-6 weeks with odds and ends being picked up as needed) the more erratic the ingredients being used. I shall also try to remember to take pictures of the dishes I describe, I have 4 kids (ages 9yr daughter, 7yr son, 3yr son and 10mo daughter) a dog, and a Husband in the Air Force, so I might forget entirely or only remember this part of the goal half way thru.

I cook mostly from scratch (my kids will not for the life of me eat home made mac and cheese) and try to only use frozen or fresh vegetables/produce, we make most of our bread (it's not hard) and I also use things like butter, cream and bacon (and the drippings there of). The only way this would be "diet" food is if you ate child size portions, but I promise it will be varied, wholesome, and tasty (this part is a crap shoot sometimes) . We also eat what's been given to us or go without, not to say that they have to like it and I encourage them to let me know when they don't, we should still be grateful for both the time it took us to prepare the food and the fact that we have food. When possible I try to have the older kids help, they do things like stir, measure, pour, open things, add amounts if I'm doubling things (when I bake I try to measure things out).

All this isn't to say that we don't eat out, we do (prolly too much), and I really do try resisting the urge to "fix" food when we do (this is usually averted by just eating out in "town", since I can't fix Japanese cuisine). And I'm no chef (I didn't take home ec. in school) I learned how to cook the old fashioned way ( I watched my parents do it, and when I was tall enough to reach things I took over) I've also learned a lot from my husbands mother (the most patient person I've known and a pretty dang good baker) and grandmother (when ever I get homesick and miss Grandma I watch Paula Dean, she comes close to Grandma).

Mostly I try to put a twist on things and make them my own. Or if it's something simple that we just enjoy eating out I try my best to duplicate it to save on $$$. So, enough about me, on with the food!

tonight we had Taco Rice (as legend goes this was invented out of necessity at one of the U.S. military bases here on Okinawa )
(the title is pretty self-explanatory, you make taco fixings like normal but instead of tortillas you put it on rice.)

This will feed my family with enough for one adult lunch left over (which is usually DH's lunch at work the next day)

3 scoops of rice in the rice cooker and water to the 3 line

10 small hand scoops of pinto beans in the crock pot with half a gallon of water , cook on high for 4ish hours, mash gently and add salt and "ham flavor" (didn't have any bacon drippings to add, and this stuff makes it taste like I cooked it with ham hocks) (you can find it in the Hispanic section of the store it's by GOYA and is in a little box printed to look like wood grain and a pig outline on it)

2 lbs 97% lean ground beef with 2 packs of Taco Seasoning

6 handfuls shredded (or VERY chopped) cabbage/lettuce

1/3-1/2 of 1lb block shredded cheese (I think today we used Cheddar, but it's usually just whatever knob of cheese that's in the fridge)

1 can Stewed Tomatoes with Bell Peppers add equal parts, onion powder, garlic powder, Grill mates Gourmet Burger seasoning, twice that parsley, and 2 GENTLE shakes cayenne Pepper, and 2 good size pinches of Kosher salt. blend to consistency of your liking.

sour cream to garnish

now layer in a bowl, rice, beans, meat, lettuce, cheese, salsa, sour cream. ENJOY

We like this for several reasons, it's tasty, it's easier to eat than a regular taco, and more filing, and I always have rice on hand and rarely tortillas. Sorry there are no pics tonight I wasn't struck with the urge (tho I've been toying with this idea for some time) to do this until dinner was done, eaten and leftovers put away.

ok..One down, I'll try to remember this exists so I can recall things we enjoyed more easily and maybe just maybe help someone not be afraid of cooking, cause it's not rocket science you will not blow anyone/thing up (unless there's a pressure cooker involved, and I'll walk you thru that too), worst case scenario, PB&J or cereal for supper (which always makes them secretly smile on the inside).