Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lovin' from the oven

So the other day I was working from home, sitting in my jammies and eating lunch while watching a presentation. And I thought maybe something was happening with the baby, but I wasn't sure (I've never had one before). I called the hubby to come home, just in case I needed to visit the doctor.

At 2:30 p.m., we paid a visit to the hospital.

At 4:09 p.m., we had this.

(Photo by Sub-Zero Productions: HD video solutions for the Red River Valley. More specifically, my brother Cory. We sort of didn't have time to bring in the camera and other things from the car.)

His name is Jack Lee, after the hubby's dad Jack and my dad Lee. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces, and was 19.5 inches long -- not bad, considering he popped out of the oven almost three weeks early. He's pretty sweet. And has a piercing wail.

We're still trying to figure each other out. It might take a while. So again, my posting will likely be sporadic. Unless you're interested in how many times I make omelets in the coming months.

Don't forget to enter the gift card giveaway in the meantime!

With love,
Angel in the Kitchen (sans makeup, with I-just-had-a-baby hair), Hubby, and Baby Jack

(Photo by Dave of Milestones Photography. He and his wife Sarah were some of Jack's first visitors. Aren't we lucky to have awesome friends?)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Giveaway, giveaway, giveaway!

The hubby and I are in hunker-down-and-wait mode, finishing up last-minute projects around the house, cooking some of our favorite comfort foods, and doing anything else that we might not be able to do with an impressionable child in the house (watching rated R movies with the volume up high, not wearing pants, etc.).

To thank everyone for putting up with my sporadic posts for the past nine months, and my recent tendency for baking cookies for supper instead of real meals, I'm sponsoring my first-ever giveaway!

This is also shameless bribery to keep you coming back when my posts become even more random and sporadic after the baby is born. Which, God willing, is sometime in the next three weeks. (Although I'd take sooner, I really would.) Everyone tells me I won't have time to shower, let alone cook, but I'd like to prove them wrong. On both counts.

Anyway, back to the giveaway. In honor of your patience, we here at Angel in the Kitchen are giving away a $100 gift card to! Yes, one hundred smackeroos. (If you're not familiar with the site, you can purchase discounted gift certificates to some of your favorite local restaurants, print them, and off you go. You might want to cruise around on the site a bit to see which restaurants in your area participate, and any restrictions they might have.)

This gift card can be all yours if you do the following:
  • Send me your favorite yummy recipes with easy preparation. What are your go-to standbys when time is short? Note that crockpot recipes are especially appreciated, because they cater to my laziness. (1 entry per recipe)
  • Link to this post from your blog. (1 entry)
  • I feel compelled to mention Twitter, because everyone else does. But I don't yet tweet. However, if you happen to tweet something, let me know. I can't possibly check up on you. (1 entry)
  • Become a follower of this blog. (2 entries)
  • Add this blog to your blogroll. (2 entries)

Please send any entry info to The deadline for submissions is September 30. I'll randomly select and announce a winner on October 1, with the right to postpone a few days if I'm off having a baby or something. (Excuses, excuses.)

And now, I'm off to make grilled pizza and oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. As always, I suggest you do the same.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mahogany-Glazed Pork

I got a comment last week from Debbie at Dining With Debbie about joining in on Crock Pot Wednesdays. What a great idea!


I love my crockpots, a.k.a. slow cookers. (I'm Midwestern. I call tissues Kleenex. Lip balm is Chapstick. Bandages are Band-aids. I'm a sucker for branding.) Anyway, I believe I've discussed my love for my three slow cookers in the past, and although I didn't use them as much over the summer, that love remains strong.

And I suspect that I will use them even more this fall when the little bundle of joy arrives and usurps all my free time. (Note: We are now accepting recipe suggestions.) I will definitely be checking out Debbie's blog each for new ideas, and contributing when possible.

This recipe is an adaptation of a Beth Hensperger recipe from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. I used the spicy adaptation of her sauce, but threw in zucchini instead of snap peas (the hubby DOES NOT EAT PEAS), and I used boneless country-style pork ribs instead of spareribs or pork shoulder. Because while I was digging in the freezer for a pork shoulder, I accidentally poked open the package of ribs. Oops. I also thickened up the sauce a bit (I wanted it more like a stir-fry).

Speaking of Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, I was actually reading the cookbook at my mother-in-law's one weekend. And I'm hard on my cookbooks -- I flag pages, I fold them, I scribble in changes and notes, etc. So I was sitting on the couch beating up this lovely cookbook when the hubby walked in, looked at what I was doing, and said, "Is that my mom's cookbook?" Oh, the irony. I held up the cover for him and had a good chuckle.

Yes, I'm easily amused.

Mahogany-Glazed Pork
Serves 6

1/3 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. orange marmalade
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. ketchup
3 lbs. pork shoulder, pork spareribs, or boneless country-style pork ribs
1/2 red pepper, chopped
8 oz. sugar snap peas or 1/2 zucchini, chopped
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 Tbsp. water
Rice, for serving

1. Combine soy sauce, marmalade, garlic, red pepper flakes, and ketchup in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. (It should have a consistency like a thinner barbecue sauce.)

2. If using pork shoulder, cut in large chunks. Brush meat on both sides with sauce, and place in slow cooker.

3. Pour remaining sauce over meat in slow cooker.

4. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours, or until pork is cooked and tender.

5. In the last half-hour of cooking time, combine cornstarch and water and add to sauce. Add vegetables, cover, and continue cooking for about 30 minutes or until sauce is thickened and vegetables are crisp-tender.

6. Serve with rice.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

The hubby and I were on our weekly Sunday morning bagel-buying excursion yesterday when I told him I thought we should have some fresh cookies. He said, "Ooh, you should make the brown ones."

The brown ones? What do they have in them? "I dunno." Were they the ones I made when you guys went fishing? "I forget." Are they something I've made in the past year? "I don't remember." Honey, I make lots of brown cookies. Which ones are you talking about? "Don't you make some with peanut butter in them?" Uh, no.

But now I will. Just in case the hubby has a second, secret, better wife who makes him brown peanut butter cookies and doesn't wake him up at the buttcrack of dawn each morning so he can put her socks on her feet for her because she can't even see her feet, let alone put socks on them.

Hey, that sort of thing happens all the time. You ever watch Lifetime?

So anyway, I experimented. I made my favorite chocolate cookie dough, bought a 6-pack* of Reese's, ate one, chopped up the rest, and and threw them in the batter. I had a feeling the chocolate from the peanut butter cups would kind of disintegrate, so I threw in some milk chocolate chips, too. I was correct in my assumption; the chocolate around the peanut butter cups melted away, leaving chunks of the peanut buttery filling behind (yum!). The hubby gave the cookies two thumbs up. I think he's going to keep me around.

*Okay, okay. So I bought two packs of candy bars. You know, just in case. I am addicted to chocolate these days. But for you healthy eaters, know that Operation: I Miss Pants with Zippers will commence as soon as the baby arrives.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Makes about 30

5 whole Reeses peanut butter candy bars (10 cups total)
8 oz. semisweet chips
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. flour
2/3 c. milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop peanut butter cups into small pieces.

They're easiest to chop if they're cold. I also put them back in the fridge while I'm mixing the batter, just to toughen them up a bit for the ensuing stirring.

2. Melt semisweet chips on the stovetop, or microwave in a glass bowl for about 2 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.

3. Combine sugar and butter, and then add melted chocolate.

4. When combined and slightly cooled, add eggs and vanilla. Mix in baking powder, salt, and flour, and then gently stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter cup pieces.

5. Form cookies into balls, and then flatten on cookie sheets.

6. Bake 10-12 minutes. Let cookies sit on pan a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Grilled Asian Short Ribs

I was wandering aimlessly through the supermarket the other day (as I am wont to do) when I saw some boneless beef short ribs. I thought, "Hmm, never tried grilling those before." I've been searching in vain for bone-in short ribs, but thought the boneless might be tasty on the grill.

I made a garlicky, slightly spicy marinade for the beef, and the hubby grilled them to perfection while I made some chicken-fried rice and potstickers.

And boy, did we make potstickers tonight. A quadruple recipe, in fact -- a few for this evening, and a bunch for the freezer. It's the only pre-baby meal prep that we've done so far. We're so proud.

On a side note, my little brother made a favicon for my blog! It's so cute. It was his idea. I think he was procrastinating. In exchange, I shall feed him potstickers the next time he visits. It might be the only food we have.

Grilled Asian Short Ribs
Serves 4-6

2 lb. boneless beef short ribs

1/2 c. soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp. ginger, minced or grated
2 tsp. sambal oelek
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. dark sesame oil

1. Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl and stir well.

2. Place short ribs in a resealable bag. Add marinade. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Grill over medium heat until cooked to desired doneness, about 10-15 minutes.

Mmm ... grilled beef. Think I'll enter this as a submission in the best foodie foto contest on Hey What's For Dinner Mom? You never know.

4. Serve with yummy sides.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chicken Shawarma with Tomato Relish and Tahini Sauce

The hubby and I had a lovely Labor Day weekend, although we did have to wait two whole days to eat the birthday cake. It was worth it. My lands, that is some good chocolate cake. We also celebrated the hubby's birthday with his family and with mine, and I attended a family reunion barbecue with my dad's family. (Just for the record, those Erickson women can seriously cook.)

Unfortunately, the hubby got pretty sick on Sunday, and he's still recuperating. He couldn't eat much, which meant I didn't cook much. When I'm sick, I eat a lot of scrambled eggs with jelly toast. When the hubby's sick, I eat a lot of scrambled eggs with jelly toast.

In other random news, we're at T minus 30 days until baby is scheduled to arrive. I'm still feeling pretty well, especially for a narcoleptic who's not getting any sleep. I even manage to take the pups on decently long walks each morning. But I'm not really a fan of meat. Or supper. Or meat for supper.

The hubby is, however, and it's more fun to cook for him, anyway. So tonight I made an adapted recipe from bon appetit for chicken shawarma, versions of which I've made before. But instead of serving this with the usual tzatziki sauce, the good folks at bon appetit recommended a salsa-like tomato relish and a lemony tahini sauce. We have plenty of fresh tomatoes, courtesy of my mother-in-law, and the relish was bright and fresh with a little kick from the serranos. And the spice mixture for the chicken and onions was fabulous -- easily one of the best that I've tried.

Chicken Shawarma with Tomato Relish and Tahini Sauce
Serves 4

1-1 1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 onion, cut in 1/4" thick rounds
1/2 Tbsp. turmeric
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided (I think I used about 2 instead of 4)
4 whole pita breads

Tomato Relish
1 lb. ripe tomatoes, finely chopped, including seeds and juices
1/3 c. finely chopped red onion
1/8 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/8 c. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. minced serrano, seeded

Tahini Sauce
1/2 c. tashini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4-1/2 c. hot water

1. Arrange chicken and onions each in a separate dish. Combine turmeric, salt, coriander, cumin, and peppers in a small bowl.

2. Sprinkle onion slices with 1 Tbsp. spice mixture and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, turning to coat both sides.

3. Sprinkle chicken breasts with remaining spice mixture and 2 Tbsp. olive oil, turning to coat both sides.

4. Cover and chill onions and turkey at least 4 hours, or up to a day beforehand.

5. Grill chicken and onions over medium heat until chicken is cooked through and onions are tender, about 10 minutes.

(I used a grill pan on the upper rack for the onions.)

6. Meanwhile, combine tomato relish ingredients in a medium bowl.

7. Combine tahini sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Start with 1/4 c. water and add more until sauce is of desired consistency.

8. Toast pita breads quickly on grill. Don't get distracted by playing fetch with your puppies and forget about the bread, because it will burn.

9. Cut chicken and onions into bite-sized pieces, and serve on pita bread with tomato relish and tahini sauce.

I was sort of distracted by playing fetch with my puppies and I burned my bread. But I think this was worth a little burnt bread.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Famous Dave's Chocolate Cake

The hubby and I didn't cook much this week, for a few reasons. First off, we both got sick, and there was no eating for a few days. Secondly, I made a pasta bake, the leftovers of which seemed to never end.

Mmm ... pasta bake ... can it be considered fancy if you gussy it up with all kinds of fresh mozzarella? Just checking. But this post isn't about pasta bake. (Unless you want it to be.)

We're getting ready to head out for Labor Day weekend. But first: It's the hubby's birthday! Hooray! I love birthdays.

The hubby doesn't. He would prefer that his birthday be celebrated within the vacuum that is our household, perhaps with a few other family members. But no bru-ha-ha. (And he means it. This isn't one of those reverse psychology "No, REALLY, no need to celebrate" kinds of things.)

He does, however, like presents and chocolate cake. I wrapped up plenty of the former, and decided to make him a really decadent cake. This recipe is from the Famous Dave's Backroads and Sidestreets cookbook. It's actually an espresso chocolate cake, but the hubby's not a big coffee fan. So I use the brewed espresso, but substitute mocha powder for the espresso powder.

We first attempted this cake in approximately the year 1 B.S.M. (Before Stand Mixer). I'd definitely recommend a good mixer. The cake has a lot ingredients, and makes a gazillion dirty dishes. (I lost count at six mixing bowls.) But if you've taken the day off work just to make your hubby a birthday cake, this is the cake to make.

Famous Dave's Chocolate Cake
Serves 8-10

2 c. flour, sifted
1 3/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder, instant coffee, or instant mocha powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. cocoa
1 c. hot brewed espresso
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. mayonnaise
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 c. canola oil
3/4 c. butter, softened

Frosting (quite possibly World's Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting)
8 oz. semisweet chocolate
1/3 c. butter
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 oz. heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. instant espresso powder, instant coffe, or instant mocha powder
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 c. powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8" cake pans.

2. For cake, in a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, espresso powder, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.

3. In a small bowl, dissolve cocoa in brewed espresso. Stir well. Add vanilla and almond extracts.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, egg yolks, and canola oil. Stir in cocoa mixture.

Oh, and prepare yourself for a lot of pictures of bowls and mixers.

5. Combine butter and 1/2 c. of the buttermilk mixture in a mixer bowl. Mix well.

6. Add flour mixture* and beat on low speed just until moistened. Beat at medium to high speed for 1 1/2 minutes.

*This is where my instinct wants to override the recipe. I've been told that the best way to mix a cake is to alternate adding the liquid and dry ingredients, mixing after each addition. I followed the recipe, and my cake had a few issues, which you'll hear about later. Next time, I'll try alternating and see what happens.

7. Add the remaining buttermilk mixture, 1/3 at a time, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.

8. Spoon batter into pans. Bake about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

9. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks to cool. Cool completely before frosting.

10. For frosting, heat chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add espresso powder, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt.

11. In a mixer bowl, combine cream cheese and cream. Beat on medium speed until smooth.

12. Stir the chocolate mixture into the cream cheese mixture, and beat until blended.

13. Add powdered sugar gradually, beating until thoroughly combined and of spreading consistency.

14. Move one cake to a serving plate. Top with about 1/2 c. frosting. Add second layer, and frost entire cake. (You might have extra frosting.)

Ain't she purty?

Although he's going to laugh when he sees this. My cake had some structural integrity issues. I was almost done frosting it, when a large piece of the top layer just inexplicably fell off. Despite my best attempts with frosting "glue," it couldn't be repaired. I ate the debris and attempted to cover up the problem spot with extra frosting.

It's really good frosting.