Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Message For You

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Mice

This is my absolute favorite Christmas Treat.  This is another great dish for kids to help you with, though fine motoro skills can be important for certain steps (and you do NOT want to start a holiday tradition of stress and frustration!), so be careful when assigning the different steps to your sous chefs.

Maraschino cherries WITH stems
White chocolate or almond bark for melting
Sliced Almonds
Red piping

Double boiler or similar setup*
Wax paper

*melting white chocolate in a microwave will work, but it is very tricky to get it right and you have to reheat it eventually and it starts to get grainy or lumpy.  If you don't have a double boiler, one large pot with a smaller pot suspended inside it will accomplish almost the same thing, though you do have to be careful cuz you are working with boiling water.  I don't have a double boiler, and worried about burning the white chocolate because my stove top is electric, so I used a glass bowl in the microwave, then set it inside a second glass bowl filled with hot water from the tea kettle.  This worked ok, except I think I might have nuked it a bit too much because it started to get chalky in some spots.  The key is to nuke for 10-15 seconds, then FOLD (not stir) the melty bits into the unmelty bits.

So here are the steps:
1. Drain cherries but do not remove stems
2. Melt white chocolate or almond bark
3. Grasp cherry by stem and dip into white melty stuff, but leave the tail red
4. Lay on wax paper with stem down to the side (like a tail!)
5. Dip second cherry and lay down
6. Return to first cherry you dipped and press in 2 almond slices to make ears and a white chocolate chip to make the 'face'**
7. Repeat steps 3-6 until all cherries have been transformed into an army of Christmas mice
8. Once melty stuff hardens, pipe on 2 little red eyes, and a nose if you're really steady with your hands.

** Depending on the temperature and humidity in your kitchen, you may need to dip several cherries and lay them down before returning to place the ears and noses.  They key is to do the ears/face when the white chocolate starts to get pretty stiff so they don't slide down, but before it hardens, so they still stick.

Be on the lookout for stealthy hands trying to steal your mice!
A Christmas Mouse striking a pose with a Peppermint Brownie

These mice have found their way into a box of brownies! Sneaky mice!

Christmas Mice also go very well with Haystacks

Sunday, November 7, 2010

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED to meet donor Challenge to build Safe House dorm 4 Lakota Youth. on Betty Tuininga's TwitWall

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED to meet donor Challenge to build Safe House dorm 4 Lakota Youth. on Betty Tuininga's TwitWall

A good cause, this season spend a little on some folks you don't even know.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

ˈtʃɪli Weekend!

Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the astonishing rescue of the miners after 68 days underground, I can't really say, but it was on my mind last weekend.  Chili.  I need some.  Want some. Gotta have some.

So I made some.

Now chili doesn't really have a recipe, it's more of a loose affiliation of companionable ingredients. Sure, you can find a recipe online somewhere, but honestly, it's just not that kind of dish!  I cannot begin to even estimate the amounts of the spices I used, because chili is an All-Day Taste-And-Season Meal.  The honest truth is that (unless you're using dried beans) the ingredients in chili really take about an 30 minutes to cook, and you could dish it up and eat it then.  But for it to really have The Soul of Chili, you gotta cook it all day.  If you're making chili for a party, I highly recommend making it the day before and it will be *bangin* on the following day.

So.....if we were to have a "recipe" for chili, it would consist of:
Some meat
Some beans (purists may be shocked, but it's my blog so make yer own if you disagree!)
Some spices (the spicey, peppery kind)
Some veg (specifically tomatoes, peppers, onions)
A Whole Lotta Time

So here's how I make it...

Team Spicey consists of:
Ground Red Cayenne Pepper
Smoked Paprika - the flavor of smoked paprika is really an excellent addition to chili, but if you don't have it, sweet paprika is fine as well.
Garlic Salt - you can use fresh garlic if you prefer
Ground Cumin - an oft overlooked spice, invite it to the party, it has a lot to say (but in an interesting way, not in an "omg who invited him, he never stops talking" kinda way).
Chili Powder
But yanno, you mix and match, make it your own!  If you want fresh hot peppers, use them instead! (Me? I'm afraid of capsaicin in my eyeballs!)

Team Veggie:
Sweet Spanish Onion - or vidalia, or whatever.  I recommend a sweet onion though, because you're already going to have a lot of heat in this dish (well, you will if you add a lot of spices!)
Ripe Tomatoes - you're gonna be cookin' tha bajeebers outta this, your tomatoes don't need to be beautiful and easy to slice, they need to be sweet and full of flavor! Don't get a beefsteak or a sandwich tomato, get plums, romas or some other juicy tomato.
Red Bell Pepper - my mom would say, "Use green peppers, too much red in this dish already".  I'd say, "Use what you like best, and I like the red bells".

Okay "meat" isn't really a team, but it is a critical component in chili.  Many people use ground beef, or ground pork, or a mixture of ground meats.   There are even some fabulous recipes for white chili made with chicken, so use whatever you'd like (though fish chili sounds really disturbing, I'm sure it exists somewhere *shudder*) ((holy smokes, why on earth did I google "fish chili"?!?!?))
At any rate.....I usually use stewing beef, since it's going to cook all the live long day, you can use a less expensive cut.  On this particular occasion, some big-ol honkin' steaks were on sale (like, a really good sale) so I got those instead and cut them up.
By cutting against the grain of the meet, and by cooking it all day at a low temperature, you can almost guarantee that the meat will be falling-apart-tender by the time you serve it.

Now if you're anything like me, about the time you start dicing up the meat (slightly larger than bite sized, against the grain of the meat), a little Helper VonHelpington will show up.  This ones name is Major Tom.  He and his brother Randy adopted us from a shelter, and we thought the name was pretty awesome so we kept it.  He's pretty awesome too, he can leap tall buildings in a single bound (okay, maybe not tall buildings, but he can jump unbelievably high).  Randy was busy napping.  He's got no truck with people-food unless it is cooked roast beef.  Yep, he's a snob.

Now where were we? Oh yeah, the meat.  What I do is put a little olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed stew pan.  I put it on a medium-low heat and I start adding all my spices above.  Again, can't tell you how much to add, just....well, a lot.  If your chili turns out too hot (for some people there is such a thing, don't be a spice-snob) you can always add a little sour cream at the end to cool it down a bit, or add a little granulated sugar.  Add your diced meat to the pan and commence to cookin'.

Now start chopping up your veggies and adding them to the mixture.  For this pot of chili I used 4.66 pounds of meat, 1.3 pounds of tomatoes, 1 medium onion, one medium red pepper and two cans of dark red kidney beans, and I added them in that order, cooking at a low temperature the entire time.  Once the meat has cooked all the way through you can begin to taste and adjust your spices.  I actually wait until the chili has been cooking about 3 or 4 hours before I add the beans, because otherwise they can turn super mushy. (Yes, my stove top is messy.  If you're not making a mess you're not really cooking, you're just heating up!)

Because I live in a really small apartment with someone with asthma and multiple allergies whose condition is aggravated by raw onions, I have a little trick.  I use my small, $15 counter-top chopper doohicky.  I turn on the vent, quickly peel the onions and dispose of the peels, do a rough chop of the onions, toss them in the chopper-whatsis, put on the lid, then rinse the cutting board and knife and wash my hands.  Then I activate the chopper-thingamabob, dump the onions in the pan and put the lid on the pan.  Done and dusted with minimal fuss.

Soooooo, let that chili simmer for a looooooooong time.  Take a nap (but don't forget to stir!)

About a half hour before you just can't stand the deliciousness wafting from your kitchen any more and have to dive in to a big old bowl, make yourself some cornbread muffins!


This meal was cooked under the influence of Grandmaster Flash, Talking Heads, Parliament Funkadelic and David Bowie.  Food tastes better when it's made with joy, and music is joy so crank it up.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tortilla-Fried Egg Breakfast Something

I really have no idea what to call this.  Quite possibly it already has a name somewhere, as I am reasonably sure someone somewhere must have wanted a fried egg sandwich for breakfast before, but not had any bread in the house.

You will need:
A frying pan of some sort
A spatula
A plate
Butter (for frying, so feel free to use whatever you would normally use to fry an egg)
2 Eggs per "sandwich"
1 Tortilla per "sandwich"
Chili Powder
Hot Sauce
Some cheese
Some salsa
Some sour cream

Firstly, you'll want your pan on medium heat or just barely higher than medium.  Add your butter/margarine, perhaps a little more than you would normally use.  While your butter is melting, add several dashes of hot sauce, a sprinkle each of chili powder, cumin and whatever else you take a fancy to.  A little garlic would've been nice, now that I think of it...some cilantro would also compliment the flavors.

Add your eggs and commence to cookin'.  Over easy is the way you'll want these eggs, with the white completely cooked but the yellows still runny.
I added more hot sauce, cumin and chili powder on top of the eggs after I dropped them in the pan.  Flip your eggs just as they start to bubble.

As soon as your eggs are done, slip them onto a plate, then drop your tortilla into your still hot and only a little greasy pan.  I used flour tortillas because that's what I had (and personally I think they fold better).  Let the tortilla cook a few seconds on one side, watch for poofiness, then flip.  As SOON as you flip it, sprinkle one half with cheese, put your cooked eggs back in on top of the cheese, sprinkle more cheese, the "close" it up.  CAREFULLY flip it one more time so the cheese is all melty on both sides.

Slip your Breakfast Something back onto the plate. Top with a few tablespoons of salsa and sour cream. ENJOY!  This is one of my new favorite breakfast foods, I'd love to hear any other suggestions :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Resolution Recipe: Apple Easy Turnover

I really should change the name of my blog to Super Easy Food You Can Make Without Trying Too Hard And Probably Not Screw Up Too Badly.  Maybe some day I'll tell you why it's called "Oh really? How nice..."


I've been wanting to make this for awhile, and this week the local supermarket (oxymoron??) had premade pie crust on sale, so I kinda felt like I had run out of excuses. It's very easy to make, and even easier to eat!

Here's what you'll need:
2 cups thinly sliced apples (2 medium)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pie crust (I used the refrigerated ready-made kind)
1 egg
a sprinkle of ground ginger, and of allspice

I used an apple corer, then sliced the wedges to be a little thiner, so in the end I had pretty thin wedges.  After wedging with the corer, I scooped out any bits of core that was left.  If you choose to peel the apples first, well, I guess that's your right, but you're missing out.  So there.

Use a medium sized saucepan and put the apples, 3 Tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and the quarter cup of packed brown sugar into the pan.  Put it on a medium heat and stir until it's nice a bubbley, then turn it to low.  Add your spices, then let it simmer on low for 5-7 minutes, until the apples are soft.

While the apples simmer, get a small bowl and mix the flour, raw sugar and salt together.  Once the apples are soft, you'll want to slowly (spoon at a time) add this flour mixture to the apple mixture in the pan, mixing and cooking until all the flour is incorporated and the mixture it the pan is thick.

Take the thickened apple mixture off the heat.  I put it in a bowl so it would cool more quickly.  Here's a picture.  You'll want it to be pretty cool before placing it on the dough.

Take the pie crust out of the fridge and set it out to warm up a little.  Set the timer for 15 minutes.  Now si the time to start preheating the ove. to 375 degrees (f).  You'll also want to take this time to rinse out the pan you cooked the apple in, otherwise it will turn to apple glue!

Once the pie crust has been sitting out for 15 minutes (or so), un-roll it onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  I was so eager to get this made, I neglected to take a picture of this step.  I made you a picture of it in Paint.  I'm really sorry. (it's harder than it looks!)

Place the cooled apple mixture filling 1/2 of the crust, leaving about 1/2 inch on the edges. 
Beat the egg, mix in 1 Tablespoon water, then brush the egg wash over the edge that you left oncovered.

Fold over the half of the crust that is bereft of apples.  Using a fork, crimp the edges together.  Brush more of the eggwash over the entire thing.
Using a knife, cut some vent holes on the top.  Be creative, make a design or a picture.  I was going for a half sunburst.

Bake in your 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve with a delicious cup of fresh coffee and enjoy!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

a wish to be flying

cat chatters at birds

a wish to catch them or fly

coffee ready yet?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Spread the Word to End the Word

I took the pledge.

I pledge to stand up and speak out.  The r-word marginalizes and devalues people, and I will no longer be silent.

This image is a link.  You should click it. Be a fan of respect.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Scrambled Pizza

Tired of the same-old, same-old?  Want to try something a little different, even though all you have is the same old ingredients?  Breakfast Pizza to the rescue!  I'm a huge fan of breakfast, no matter what time of day.  So this is a dish you could have for breakfast, as a brunch, or even for supper!  It's also a pretty easy dish, and one that even younger kids could act as your sous chef.

You will need:

1 pre-made pizza crust
about ½ cup of Alfredo sauce or a white gravy of some kind (red eye, sausage, whatever)
about 1 cup of shredded cheese (or more, to taste, whatever flavor you’ve got)
about 4-5 eggs, scrambled
some bacon or sausage, cooked & chopped or crumbled
some veg (I picked mushroom, but some baby spinach or red bell peppers would go nicely, as well)
herbs and spices of your choosing
a cutting board
a cookie sheet or pizza pan
a frying pan & spatula
oh, and an oven

Firstly, check the directions for the pre-made pizza crust, as those are what you’re going to need to follow for the oven portion of this dish. Could you make your own crust? Sure! But I’m not brave enough, so you’re on your own (though we do expect pictures!).

Pre-heat your oven per the directions on your pre-made crust (mine says to preheat to 400 then turn down to 350 after you put the pizza in, so that’s what I do).

While your oven is heating up you’ll want to prep your bacon, or whatever you’re using. You’ll want it cooked close to crispy, then either chopped or crumbled (depending on how crispy you went with it). If you’re using ham (and who wouldn’t?!?) you’ll probably want to chop it before cooking it, so that you get a nice little brown crispiness to the edges.

When scrambling for more than one, the general rule of thumb that I follow is “two per person and one for the pan”, so I would typically make 5 eggs for 2 people. I’ll add a little crushed garlic, some tarragon, maybe a small pinch of sweet Hungarian paprika. You want your eggs on the stiff side, otherwise the pizza will seem mushy.

Now I left the mushrooms raw, but if you wanted to you could sauté them beforehand . If I were using sweet red bell peppers, I would leave them raw but chop them rather small. For the mushrooms I just sliced them like you would for any other pizza ;)

Okay, so are we all ready? Let’s build us a Scrambled Pizza, then!

Slather on your sauce, then spread your scrambled eggs, bacon and your mushrooms (or whatever veg you opted to use). Add the cheese on top.

Then bake according to the directions for the crust.

and Enjoy!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Easy Peasy: Little Cheesy

Yeah so, somewhere (probably on the internet) I read that "quesadilla" means "little cheesy thing".  Of course, now all I can find is that it means "cheese tortilla", which I guess makes sense, but isn't nearly as cute.  So here's your wiki-link for quesadilla.

Now this isn't really a recipe, so much as a sandwich idea.  Again, no rocket-science involved, unless you plan on making the tortillas and cheese from scratch, then yer on yer own (but I do hope you'll do a little guest-blog-spot and show us all the pictures!)

You Will Need:
Some Tortillas (make 2 tortillas per person, you'll probably have leftovers, but yummers)
Cheese (of the shredded variety, I used Cheddar and Monterey Jack, cuz they're deLISHus)
Some cooked chicken** (or ham, or yanno, what ever sounds good)
Some fresh, raw spinach (I use the baby spinach)
Some mushrooms
Any other kinda stuff you want to add :)

**I tend to cook large quantities of meat once a week, then use it throughout the week in various cooking endeavors.  This week it was chicken, I got the boneless, skinless tenders on sale.
On this particular occasion I cooked:
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 can consomme (found in the soup isle)
1 can water
Some garlic
Some turmeric
Some tarragon

Put it all in a large covered pan, on a low-medium-low heat for about an hour, maybe 45 minutes, check it with a meat thermometer to make sure you're reached an internal temp of at least 165 (f).  You can use it for all sorts of things :)

You will want to have all of your stuff prepped before you start cooking, because you will
  1. construct one
  2. begin cooking
  3. construct another
  4. flip the first, then remove
  5. start cooking the second
  6. construction the 3rd
  7. etc and so forth, until you're done

So I shred the chicken with 2 forks then I chop the spinach (not TOO small) and slice the mushrooms (not TOO thick). 

So, at the begining, I probably should have asked if you have a George Foreman Lean Mean Grillin' Machine.    Yeah? Cool.  We love ours and use it for all kinds of deliciousness.  So then, carry on with the "recipe".  (If you answered no, skip to the end for a different technique).

So, if you're using a sandwich press or grilling type of device as noted above, plug that bad-boy in and then construct your quesadilla by covering only 1/2 of the tortilla, thusly:

1.  Cheese first, then chicken

2.  Then a layer of chopped spinach and sliced mushroom

3.  Then a bit more cheese to seal the deal

Fold'er in half and (using a largish spatula) transfer from construction site (plate) to cooking surface (grill).

While that one cooks, start constructing your next quesadilla.  Rinse and repeat until you have:

Then NOMZ.

If you don't have a grill, then you'll construct your quesadilla covering the entire surface, just be careful not to over fill.  

  1. Place your tortilla in the pan (hot, with just a SMIDGE of oil)

  2. Add layer of cheese other stuff, then a smidge more cheese

  3. Once nice and melty, flip HALF over onto the other half

  4. NOMZ