Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
If you've never tried knoephla soup, you: a.) Probably aren't German, and b.) Haven't lived.
Knoephla soup is a very simple soup that typically contains potatoes and knoephla, which are dumplings. This soup is a staple at a local diner, which sells it either by the generous bowl or the generous bucket. Yes, you can get your knoephla soup in a big ol' plastic pail.
However, the diner doesn't deliver, and I don't always feel like leaving home when I'm sick. So this is my attempt to replicate -- and perhaps even improve on -- the hubby's favorite.
This attempt was completely off-the-cuff; all I know is that the diner uses potatoes, dumplings, celery, and cream of chicken soup (because those little bits of chicken are unmistakable). I did swap out the celery for some carrot, because the hubby does not like celery and the little man loves him some carrot. And, because I'm the world's slowest potato-peeler, I used thin-skinned yellow potatoes (Klondike Goldust, to be exact) and left the skins on.
The results? Very, very similar to the hubby's favorite. In fact, I thought it was better. But I might be biased.
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 shallot, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
Salt and pepper
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 soup can of water
2 cans chicken broth
2 c. frozen or homemade dumplings
1/4 c. cream (either heavy cream or whipping cream)
1. Heat butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Saute shallot for about 1 minute, and then add carrot and potato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add bay leaf. Cook about 2 minutes.
2. Add soup, water, and broth, and stir well.
3. Bring soup to a boil, and then add dumplings.
I cheated-ed-ed and used frozen dumplings. But I used the time that I saved to reorganize my closet, so now the little man can store toys in his closet instead of my shoes.
Welcome to Angel in the Kitchen, where the little details make a difference.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until dumplings, potatoes, and carrots are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
5. Remove pot from heat and stir in cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
(Just a quick note that if you're reheating leftover soup, do so slowly and carefully, so the cream doesn't curdle.)
Monday, December 27, 2010
The hubby, little man, and I did not have the chance to celebrate Thanksgiving, unless you count the mozzarella sticks from the hospital cafeteria. (Which, at the time, were about the best thing I've ever eaten.) We had to cancel our family holiday portraits, so those of you on my Christmas card list might be receiving Arbor Day cards. And on the one day that I'd set aside for holiday baking, I woke up with the virus that the little man had earlier in the week.
Jack takes this "season for giving" thing very literally.
We left town for a week, and just returned ... to get sick again. I'm beginning to see a pattern here.
I do have some blog posts planned, because I have actually made a few edible dishes these past few weeks. But in the meantime, I wanted to belatedly post a product review for Pillsbury pie crusts. Pillsbury generously provided a coupon, information, and the following prize pack through MyBlogSpark.
I have to admit that I didn't try anything new and crazy with my pie crust, but as we do every fall, we visited my parents to help with their fall cleanup and their apple-picking. This also entails making a big pot of beef stew and an apple pie with the fresh apples and Pillsbury pie crust.
It feels odd posting a review of Pillsbury pie crust, because I've been a huge fan for years. I use them all the time for pies and other desserts, pot pies, empanadas, you name it. This isn't just an issue of laziness, although it is so much easier just to unroll that package; I honestly haven't had a pie crust that rivals the taste of texture of Pillsbury's.
And, as with the first apple pie of every fall, I'm convinced that this was the best apple pie that I've ever had. But I'm pretty sure I was right this time.
*Note: We do not actually advocate the swinging of cats, dead or otherwise. We like cats.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Perhaps I should blog these as what NOT to cook. You know, to save you some time, in case you've got the same cookbooks.
The other night, the hubby and I had an evening out with a few of our siblings, thanks to Jay at Pocket Jacks, his lovely fiancee Donna, and his adorably patient daughter, Macy. They hung out with the little man while we had a quick dinner out, followed by a movie. We ate at an Italian restaurant, and I ordered tortellini al forno, which is one of my favorite dishes. And the little man loved, loved, loved my leftovers the next day, so I decided to whip up a version at home.
Although it looks and tastes impressive, this dish is actually quite easy to make, especially if you use a jarred sauce. And because I broiled it instead of baking it, it just needs a quick zap in the oven.
Tortellini al Forno
Makes 6 servings
1 lb. ground beef
Salt, pepper, onion salt, and garlic salt, to taste
2 24- to 26-oz. jars cheese-flavored red pasta sauce (such as Ragu six-cheese or Classico four-cheese)
1/3 c. cream
1 22-oz. pkg. of refrigerated cheese tortellini (frozen will also work)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella or thinly sliced fresh mozzarella
1. Preheat broiler on low. Meanwhile, spray a large shallow pan or individual baking dishes with cooking spray.
I used these guys, whom I love.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Working on deadlines until all hours? Garbage disposal on the fritz? Baby cutting his first molars? Hubby has strep throat? You have a cold? Everybody's got the flu?
(Welcome to my past few weeks.)
Have a brownie.
If anyone is looking for me, I'm buried underneath a mountain of laundry.
Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Betty Crocker
Makes 18 brownies
1/2 c. peanut butter chips
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1 pkg. supreme chocolate chunk brownie mix (for 9x13 pan)
3 Tbsp water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of 9x13 pan with shortening. (I'm lazy. I use cooking spray.)
2. Melt peanut butter chips on the stovetop or in the microwave until melted. Stir in cream cheese, sugar, and 1 egg, until smooth. Set aside.
Note that this stiffens up very quickly when set aside. Be quick with that brownie batter, you.
3. Combine brownie mix, water, oil, and 2 eggs and stir until well blended.
4. Spread two-thirds of the batter in the pan. Spread peanut butter mixture over the batter.
5. Drop remaining batter by tablespoonfuls onto peanut butter mixture, and swirl lightly with a knife to create that lovely marbled look.
6. Bake 30-34 minutes. Cool completely before serving, and store tightly covered.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I love Korean food. Of course, I've only eaten Korean food either at home or at Japanese restaurants, so I have no idea if I love real Korean food. But I do love my version of Korean food.
So I jumped all over this recipe, which I saw in Rachael Ray's Everyday magazine. What's not to like? Stir-fry? Good. Noodles? Good. Kimchi-like sauce? Good.
And it WAS good. However, I did make modifications that I think made it better. Namely, I added extra veggies and reduced the amount of noodles that were called for. But the recipe still made too much of a good thing (after three meals of this, even the little man grew weary), and was too heavy on the pasta for my tastes. I think the recipe would improve with even less pasta, which I adjusted in this recipe.Even though it takes away from the kimchi nature of the recipe, I think you can swap in any veggies that you've got on hand. And while I like the texture of whole-wheat pasta here, you could use regular old pasta or Asian noodles in its place.
Korean Chicken Noodle Bowls
Salt and pepper
8-10 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
1" piece of ginger, grated
2 large cloves garlic, grated
1/4 c. tamari
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sriracha
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut in thin strips
1 c. coleslaw mix
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 zucchini, cut in thin strips
1 c. mushrooms, sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine a splash of the boiling water with the ginger, garlic, tamari, honey, tomato paste, vinegar, sesame oil, and sriracha. Blend until smooth.
And then taste it, and adjust your seasonings accordingly. Rachael Ray is fond of eyeballing measurements, which I did. Mine was a bit on the salty side, so I decided to add some more honey and sriracha to make it sweeter and spicier.
3. Salt water and add pasta, cooking according to package directions. Drain the pasta well.
4. When pasta is almost finished cooking, heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add chicken and stir-fry, about 3-5 minutes.
5. Add cabbage, pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms, Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
6. Add the ginger sauce and toss for 1 minute.
7. Pour stir-fry over the drained noodles and top with scallions.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Thanks, Merut! Stop by her refreshingly witty blog for a visit -- she's got lovely photos, and even lovelier recipes.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I must go buy my Halloween M&Ms.M&M Caramel Brownies
Makes about 2 dozen
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Did I mention he's growing?
Jack also recently celebrated his first birthday. He had Mickey Mouse decorations and balloons. Bunches of presents. And a whole lot of attention.
And lots of Jack's favorite foods, and some of our own. Caprese salad. Marinated mozzarella. Chopped veggies. Fruit with a dip so wonderful that I wish I remembered what I put in it. Beef stew. Biscuits. And cake. I made the chocolate fudge layer cake recipe, with the frosting from Famous Dave's chocolate cake. It was good. It was very, very good.
It's been quite a year. Happy birthday, Jack!
P.S. Why yes, I did just discover the "collage" function in my photo editing software. Quiet, you.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
I recently saw a recipe for some Greek-style shredded pork, and while the recipe itself didn't speak to me, the idea did. So I threw together a few ingredients in the slow cooker one morning, and voila! Instant gyros. Well, after you toast the pita bread and chop a few veggies and slather on some hummus and yogurt. But really, those steps are optional.
On a side note, I don't typically put hummus on my gyros, but I had some in the fridge and decided to give it a try. I really, really liked it. The hummus and yogurt kind of combine to make a thicker, tangy, slightly more flavorful sauce. And to think, I might never have discovered this otherwise.
Texture-wise, this sort of reminded me of a soft taco. The hummus is kind of like the refried beans, the meat is tender and shredded, and it's topped with fresh veggies and yogurt (instead of sour cream.) In fact, if I handed expended all that energy with my 5 minutes of prep work in the morning, I'd have toasted up some homemade pita chips and served these up nacho style.
Shredded Pork Gyros
1 pork shoulder roast (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/s Tbsp. Greek seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
8-10 good-quality pita breads
Plain yogurt, preferably Greek-style
Hummus (I prefer roasted red pepper)
1. Place pork shoulder in slow cooker and top with lemon juice, Greek seasoning, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes.
3. Remove pork from slow cooker and shred with two forks. Return meat to slow cooker and combine with juices.
4. Toast pita breads in a hot pan quickly on both sides. Add a layer of hummus, and top with pork, cucumber, tomato, and yogurt.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The good news is that Jack is quite possibly the least picky eater in the house. so far, he's not a huge fan of chicken stroganoff and quiche. Everything else is A-OK by him. (Especially veggies. The kid LOVES his tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini.) The bad news is that his crabbiest, neediest time of day is the 90 minutes between when I pick him up from daycare and when the hubby gets home. A snack won't suffice; the little man wants his supper about a half-hour before the hubby gets home, which is some tricky timing. We're still trying to work out the kinks on this one.
In the meantime, we do a lot of cooking ahead, except for those rare days when the little man comes home and is content to play on his own for about 20 minutes while I throw together some supper that will be ready for him in time, and that will hold for the hubby.
This is one such recipe that the little man loved, because in incorporates some of his favorite foods -- chicken, veggies, and pasta. It comes together quickly, and is great for using up extra produce this time of year.
Chicken Marinara Soup
2 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut in bite-sized pieces
2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced on the bias
1 26-oz. jar marinara sauce
3 c. chicken broth
2 c. dried rotini pasta
1 medium zucchini, chopped
Additional salt and pepper, to taste
Shredded mozzarella cheese, for topping
1. Preheat 1 tsp. oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add chicken. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and oregano. Cook until brown, and remove from pan.
2. Add remaining 1 tsp. oil to pan and add carrots and green peppers. Cook 2 minutes.
3. Add marinara sauce and broth to pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, and cook 8 minutes.
4. Return chicken to pan. Add zucchini and rotini, and cook 10 minutes.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup with mozzarella on top.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I agonize over pan sizes. I have no eye for measurements, so I have to get out the tape measure every time a recipe doesn't use my own standard pan terminology. For example, "the bar pan" means a 9x13 pan. The "brownie pan" means an 8" square pan. "The pan you use for homemade pizza" means the 11x15 sheet pan.
And in my world, a loaf pan is a loaf pan. But apparently this isn't the case, which is why my chocolate chip pound cake sort of resembled unsliced chocolate chip biscotti. But it sure tasted good. This recipe is based on a Hershey's recipe, and it tastes a bit like cake and a bit like shortbread.
I did end up trying the glaze on the cake later, but I'm not sure if it was an improvement. The glaze had a bit too much shortening for my taste, so it had a bit of a waxy texture, and I think the cake was just fine without it.
Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
1/2 c. butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. chocolate chips
2/3 c. chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. shortening
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan.
2. Combine butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat well.
3. Blend in flour and baking powder, and then stir in 1 c. chocolate chips.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until cake pulls away from sides of pan.
5. Cool 10 minutes, and then remove cake from pan and cool complete on a wire rack.
6. If making glaze, combine 2/3 c. chocolate chips and shortening in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until chocolate chips are melted, stirring frequently. Poor glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Cool before serving.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The hubby and I spent the weekend celebrating the wedding of one of my college roommates, Sarah, who traveled all the way to Fargo from Alaska for her nuptials (bringing some of her wedding party with her). It was a multiday celebration, and the weather cooperated beautifully. The weekend ended with the most unique and entertaining wedding I've ever been to. (I'm a fan of anyone serving me food during a wedding ceremony.) Congrats to supercouple Sarah and Doyle!
Labor Day dawned cool and rainy, and although I wanted nothing more than to stay inside and bake cookies all day, we were playing catch-up and running errands. So instead, I whipped up a small pan of cookie bars to tide us over. This is an adaptation of a good ol' Nestle Tollhouse recipe, and these bars are less like chocolate chip bars and more just like a pan cookie. They're perfect and yummy and they disappear quickly. (I have no idea why Nestle claims this makes two dozen bars. In our house it makes 9.)
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/3 c. chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" square baking pan.
I'm lazy and unprepared. I sprayed an 8" square pan with cooking spray, and everything turned out OK. I'm having pan issues these days. But more about that in a future post.
2. Combine butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add vanilla and egg, and mix well.
There should be additional pictures here. But the hubby was uploading wedding pictures to Facebook and he wouldn't let me have the memory card. He's mean. I still let him eat bars.
3. Stir in baking powder and salt, and add flour and combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread mixture evenly.
This might require the use of your hands. Which you might have to lick off afterward. It's torture, I say.
5. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until bars are golden and center is set. Let cool before cutting into squares.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
This tried-and-true Betty Crocker recipe is perfect for picnics because it travels well, doesn't need to be refrigerated, and sure is purty. It's a cinch to make -- just to be sure to grease that ol' Bundt pan very well, and get in all the nooks and crannies.
Chocolate Lover's Bundt Cake
1 pkg. butter-recipe chocolate cake mix
1/2 c. chocolate milk
1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted
16 oz. sour cream
1 pkg. chocolate instant pudding mix
2 c. chocolate chips
3/4 c. chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
I read a tip once about how if you're making a chocolate cake, you can grease and flour the pan using cocoa instead of flour, to avoid any unsightly flour streaks on the lovely, brown surface of your cake. I tried this. Cocoa just doesn't seem to sweep around the pan like flour does, so I gave up and switched to flour. Just thought I'd mention that. Carry on.
2. Combine cake mix, chocolate milk, butter, eggs, sour cream, and pudding mix.
Although you can use a mixer for this task, it's just as easy to grab a whisk and stir everything together. That allows you to multitask and talk on the phone while baking your cake. Note that this sequence of events does not, however, allow you to photograph the cake-mixing process. My apologies.
3. Stir in chocolate chips, and spoon batter evenly into Bundt pan.
4. Bake cake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the trusty toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then invert the pan onto a cooling rack or serving plate, and remove cake from pan. Cool for 2 hours.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Marx Foods Palm Leaf Plates
First, and by far my favorite, was the Marx Foods Palm Leaf Plates.
But these plates are fabulous. They're incredibly sturdy, so much so that I actually felt guilty disposing of them. And they have higher, rounded edges that really help keep food in its place. Even nachos.
Eggo Real Fruit Pizza
I received an incredibly elaborate package one evening, complete with huge box, dry ice, and the works. Inside was ... two boxes of Eggo Real Fruit Pizza. (It probably would have been more cost-effective and environmentally friendly to issue a few coupons.) The pizzas come in two flavors: strawberry granola and mixed berry granola. And they can be either nuked in the microwave or baked in the oven. They look pretty healthy, with a whole-grain crust, and a yogurt, granola, and fruit topping. I'm sorry, dear Eggo people, but it didn't work for me. The prevailing flavor was the yogurt, and otherwise it was just kind of dry and chewy. (P.S. I still love your toaster waffles.)
Buitoni Premium Frozen Meals
We received a coupon to try one of the new varieties of Buitoni Premium Frozen Meals, from the folks who've been making refrigerated pastas and sauces for years. We tried the Braised Beef & Sausage Ravioli. The meal was incredibly simple to make, with both the pasta and sauce cooking in just minutes (perfect for a weeknight). The pasta was nice and thick and flavorful, although I wasn't terribly wild about the filling. The hubby thought his was quite good, though. We'll definitely try this again in another variety.
CSN Stores giveaway!
I was recently contacted by Jess from CSN Stores about sponsoring a giveaway for a $40 gift certificate toward anything from dining room furniture to children's toys and games on csnstores.com or any of its more than 200 sites.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
This is an adaptation of a Tabasco marinade recipe, and it combines the smoky, spicy goodness of chipotle Tabasco with the sweeteness of citrus juice. Like a mojo marinade with some extra kick.
I love this with pork, but I think it would be equally good with chicken, or even shrimp, if I ate shrimp. The Tabasco folks recommend setting aside some of this marinade to serve as a dipping sauce at the table. Which would be good, although I still like the heat of the sauce straight from the bottle.
Chipotle Tabasco-Marinated Pork
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. minced garlic
1/2 c. orange juice (preferably fresh-squeezed)
1/4 c. lime juice (preferably fresh-squeezed)
1/4 c. Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork
1. Combine olive oil, garlic, juices, pepper sauce, salt, and cumin. Poor over pork and place in a covered dish resealable bag. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
2. Grill pork over medium heat until cooked to desired doneness (which, in my case, was slightly overdone, because I'm not used to our new grill). Let rest before serving.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Faster than a speeding Fisher Price animal train, Jack manages to scamper his way all over the house, investigating every inch and climbing everything possible. How does this little man of steel keep up his constant supply of energy? He eats. He eats a lot.
A few months ago, I told Jack's teachers at daycare that, because Jack had been through food allergy tests, I felt confident that they could let him try pretty much any food. I was expecting to hear that Jack had branched from his level-1 squash to maybe something wild and crazy, like level-2 pears and blueberries. But instead, he moved to real food, cut in tiny pieces.
And he loved it. Overnight, he started eating chicken and tomatoes with pasta. Meatloaf. Chicken quesadillas with black beans. Chili. The hubby and I decided that instead of making special meals for the little man, we'd feed him bites of whatever we were eating, so he could be introduced to those flavors early on. So he's already comfortable now eating things like Cajun chicken kabobs with potatoes and tomatoes, brisket, bratwurst (with mustard!), grilled zucchini and red pepper, and chicken lo mein (which Jack thinks is the best food EVER).
Obviously, ensuring that the little man eats his veggies is a top priority for us. We've been making a lot of soups and stews with plenty of veggies, but we also need some quicker meal ideas. These pinwheels hit the spot, and they have plenty of veggies mixed in with low-fat cream cheese.
Jack's Super Ham and Cheese Pinwheels
Makes 2 Jack-sized servings
1 Tbsp. low-fat cream cheese
1/2 carrot, grated
2 Tbsp. minced cucumber
2 Tbsp. minced tomato
1 small tortilla (about 6-7")
2 Tbsp. shredded cheese
1-2 slices ham
Jack's suggested accompaniments
Cool water in a sippy cup