5.30.2008

Finally. No More Broken Computer.


The old computer was horrible. Junky. Temperamental. Horrible. Old. Heavy. Whatever, it totally had a mind of its own. This is the new machine:

And so the new saga of the new machine has started... I shall now become a better blogger.

Maybe. We'll see. I don't think that a computer in general can improve your writing skills if you don't have any to begin with.

Confession:

I write restaurant reviews in my spare time about this small town that I live in for visitors to understand that the Jungle Room is not actually a place to eat at and Billy's isn't too bad especially the burgers and sitting on the porch (have you seen the commercial for Billy's Chicago Place... hilarious... "I've got the beer if you bring the girls!"). At least I'm honest. Oh, and almost every time I've been to the "really, really good" breakfast place on Kirkwood that's next to Pizzeria Uno, my eggs have been cold and the sausage has been like a squishy mattress. Gross. The wait is way too long to be worth cold eggs and squishy sausage.

Coming this weekend:

Cinnamon Squares (Yes, Dorie Greenspan's that disappeared at work like no tomorrow)

Pasta (Cheapo style, yeah, I'm still poor)

Cheesy Quesadillas with Black Beans

Maybe something with Roasted Red Peppers too. We'll see what's at the Farmer's Market after I get my car aligned at 8 am tomorrow morning. Where's my Bimmer Man when I need him?

PSH

5.27.2008

Back From Vaca Taco Meat...

So I get back from vacation - my car is still at the shop getting aligned and I need food. Taco meat. And yet I still don't check the fridge to see if I have everything (you'll see in the images below). I love taco meat - mostly because it's pretty versatile and you can incorporate it into a lot of recipes, like enchiladas, regular tacos, add it to tomato sauce for a mexican pasta dish, etc... We're poor so I come up with a lot of crazy meals.



Chop half an onion and some garlic. I had a really juicy onion. I wanted to eat it raw it was so juicy, but I didn't. I just chopped it.

And chopped it more.

Throw it into a medium sized pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil or butter over medium heat - but maybe use a larger pan if you're going to use more than half a pound of ground beef or turkey. Otherwise your meat will just steam and it won't taste very good.
These are the spices that I put into taco meat. I also use hot sauce too - today I didn't because I didn't want it too spicy. I wanted to make enchiladas tomorrown with the rest of the meat and also black beans. Use 1 tbsp of each except for the coriander - 2 tsps, and only 1 tsp black pepper. Don't forget to also season with salt - I forgot to add that to the picture too, just 1/2 tsp is fine!
After the onions sweat for about 5 minutes, that's when I throw all the spices, garlic and my half pound of ground turkey into the pan. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon or one of those cool spatula thingys - you know, the ones that are $3.99 and different colors at Target. Personally, I'm now getting more into the wooden spoons. Kroger had them on sale, buy one pack of utensils, get one free and I just couldn't resist.
I'm a messy cooker - no wonder why I am ALWAYS cleaning our ugly stove. Blech. Brown the meat for however long it takes you - normally 7 - 10 minutes.
Prep everything else you need while browning the meat. We don't have lettuce or tomatoes. It looks like my tacos will be pretty bare... oh, well. I like cheese anyway.
SECRET INGREDIENT: Worchestershire sauce. 3 squirts of it to be exact. If you don't like it, don't add it. Also - add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup chicken stock and dump that into the pan with the meat - don't be shy. I'm a messy cooker, so if it splashes, that's what paper towels are for!

Grate your cheese, however much you want to use. I use a lot. Probably 2 -3 tbsp per taco. I mean, I really mound it on!
And then eat the butt end of the cheese. And enjoy it while the taco meat still simmers away.

Then build the taco. Mine is pretty bare. No lettuce, no tomatoes. It's not that I don't like them, it's just that I don't have them in stock in my kitchen right now. I'll go to the store later today.

Fold it like a burrito. The cheese will melt, the meat will warm the salsa and you'll be in heaven, except for the lettuce and tomatoes. Dang. Oh, well it was a pretty good lunch for not having much in the kitchen!
Taco Meat -
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp of the following:
paprika
chili powder
cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp salt
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 squirts worchestershire sauce
Sweat the onions for 5 minutes in a medium sized pan over high heat with 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil or butter. Add the meat and all the spices, garlic. Brown meat for 7 - 10 minutes. Add chicken stock and worchestershire sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Then use for tacos, enchiladas (add black beans to the mixture), quesadillas, any sort of hot taco dip, mexican pasta dishes, etc...
PSH

5.11.2008

Fake Snicker's Squares



I finally made these - after staring at my book for 3 days straight, I got the courage to go to the grocery store (during move-out time in a small college town, us townies don't leave home for at least 4 days straight to avoid the crowds) and purchase everything that I needed.

Except for dulce de leche. I don't think anyone has heard of it here!

Snickery Squares
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours)

For the Crust:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

For the filling:
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
1 1/2 cups peanuts

(I completely skipped this, as I don't like caramelizing ANYTHING, so I just dumped the peanuts in the kind of ice cream topping that immediately hardens when touching a cooled surface. Easy enough.)

For the topping:
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Godiva chips)
1/2 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss all the crust ingredients into food processor except for egg & butter. Pulse a few times, then add the butter, pulse 12 times. Add the egg and pulse until dough forms, take out just before it turns into a ball. Press into an 8x8 pan and back for 15 - 20 minutes.

Filling:

Caramelize the sugar & water. Put the peanuts in, caramelize then let cool. I just dumped them into a bottle of the hard caramely stuff and then topped with a little caramel sauce. Whatever - it tastes great!

Take the pan out of the oven with the crust. Break the peanuts into pieces, dump about 3/4 of them over the crust. Pour the dulce de leche (or in my case, caramel sauce) over the peanuts. I refrigerated for an hour - just to cool so I could spread the chocolate topping.

Topping:

Melt the butter & chocolate in microwave or a double boiler, whatever's easier for you. Pour over peanuts and then smooth - top with the rest of the caramelized peanuts.

Let refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. If you serve it hot, it'll just melt all over the place.


PSH

5.10.2008

Saturday Pancakes

Making pancakes is pretty fun on a Saturday morning. I'm used to Finnish pancakes, but I've just begun to like flipping them. I'm not so GREAT, but that's ok! They taste amazing!

Saturday Morning Pancakes
(Adjusted from the Bisquick Box)

2 cups Bisquick
1 1/2 cups Milk (I use buttermilk if I have it on hand)
2 Large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove OR ground nutmeg (SECRET INGREDIENT)

Combine everything in a large bowl. Stir until combined well - you want lumps, but not big lumps, otherwise your pancakes will be a little gritty. A little smoother than cupcake batter.

Drop by the 1/4 cupfuls into a large greased HOT (heat up on medium-high, then drop the temp down to medium once you start dropping the batter into the pan) skillet or cast iron skillet. You can use pretty much any pan - just make sure it's been "Pammed" or thoroughly greased. Use bacon fat if you want to.


Now for the hard part - knowing when to flip. That's why my batter is a little more runny. When the edges begin to look dry (almost like they're done, but not really, they're still really white, see above), slip your spatula underneath and look how brown it is. I obviously like really dark pancakes. You can make them however dark you want to.

Slip the spatula all the way under, lift gently and flip, but not too fast otherwise the uncooked batter will spatter all over the pan.

And most people say making pancakes is easy.

Whatever. These are so good that you'll start eating them out of the pan and you won't even need syrup.

If you want to reheat - Freeze, then put on a cookie sheet into a preheated 375 degree oven for 5 - 10 minutes until warm & you can smell them.

PSH

5.01.2008

No Husband For The Summer

My Bimmer man leaves pretty soon for his internship. Sadly, I'm not only excited for him to get a taste of what his future career will be like, but I'm excited for me to be alone - to cook and bake exactly what I like! I'm a person that needs a fabulous sense of self to be with another person. I need my alone time - 12 weeks is pushing it, but whatever, it's a paid internship!




I've invested in used baking books. I'm not going to be doing Tuesdays with Dorie, I'm too poor to buy ingredients every week. I will however, make a few recipes throughout the summer to bring to work and to enjoy a slice or cookies or whatever at home.

Now, I just need to find a few great springform pans.

PSH