Friday, October 30, 2009

Calling all Australian cooks

Yes, you heard.

I'm soliciting ideas for recipes using the following ingredients:
  • Macadamia oil
  • Mountain pepper berries
  • Lemon myrtle
  • Wattle seed

No, I'm not making this up. I'm trying to use more of the ingredients in my pantry, and ... I really have no idea what to do with these. But they sure sound interesting.

And yes, there's a story behind them. The hubby is a bit of an online gamer. You know, me and mine band together and invade you and yours, and all that. Anyway, a while back, the hubby and I were grocery shopping (our usual Friday night activity), and the following conversation ensued:

Me: Hey, stop the cart, I want to get some oranges.
Hubby: You know, I think I'd make a really good lead in a romantic comedy.
Me: You as an actor, or you as a character?
Hubby: Me as a character.
Me: Nah, I don't see it. You're more of the male lead's wisecracking best buddy.
Hubby: No, no. I rather see myself as a 1980s Steve Guttenberg.
Me: You see yourself as Steve Guttenberg?
Hubby: But only 1980s Steve Guttenberg.* Hey, remind me to pick up some Famous Dave's Rib Rub. I need to send some to the guy in Australia whose village I'm invading tomorrow.
Me: You're sending Rib Rub to an Australian guy and then invading his village?
Hubby: Sauce, too, ya think? Yeah, sauce, too.

*Is there anything BUT a 1980s Steve Guttenberg, you might ask? Clearly, you have not been privy to that masterpiece of modern cinema known as Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus, starring Steve Guttenberg as Santa's son, and Crystal Bernard as his potential love interest. It airs every holiday season on ABC Family. If you're really lucky, you can catch the sequel, Meet the Santas, immediately following. Yes, I'll watch anything while wrapping Christmas gifts.

So the hubby mailed this big ol' package of grillin' love to Australia, and a few short weeks later, we received a bounty of Australian culinary delights in exchange. I ate the macadamia nuts (heavenly), shelved the vegemite (I'm sure it ages like a fine wine), and am clueless as to what to do with the rest. So if you're familiar, give me a holler at, and give me some tips.

And, an award! I received this lovely award from Spryte at Spryte's Place, who makes super-yummy food, and whose blog design makes mine look a crappy form letter.

Thank you, Spryte! I'm supposed to answer the following questions using only one-word answers. Which is difficult for a babbler like me.

1. Where is your cell phone? Purse
2. Your hair? Damp
3. Your mother? Adorable
4. Your father? Clever
5. Your favorite food? Lasagna
6. Your dream last night? Creepy
7. Your favorite drink? Milk
8. Your dream/goal? Happiness
9. What room are you in? Dining
10. Your hobby? Eating
11. Your fear? Spiders
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Calmer
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren't? Alert
15. Muffins? Chocolate
16. Wish list items? Yes
17. Where did you grow up? Hillsboro
18. Last thing you did? Bottles
19. What are you wearing? Jeans
20. Your TV? On
21. Your pets? Adorable
22. Friends? Hilarious
23. Your life? Content
24. Your mood? Sleepy
25. Missing someone? Always
26. Vehicle? Shiny
27. Something you're not wearing? Shoes
28. Your favorite store? Target

And now I challenge the following over-the-top bloggers to do the same:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Slow Cooker Short Ribs

I'm so excited. I finally discovered that I CAN get bone-in beef short ribs from my local supermarket. Apparently they're available if you use online shopping/grocery delivery. (Yes, I suppose I could've asked for them at the store. We North Dakotans don't like to make waves.)

The hubby and I had our groceries delivered for four weeks after the little man was born, because we weren't yet confident enough to take him out and about. Also, with flu season, we were trying to let the Jack-baby's immune system build up a bit, and hopefully not expose him to the H1n1 flu.

Plus, we're lazy. (Last weekend, the pizza man and grocery man bumped into each other at our front door. Along with my little brother, Cory. How embarrassing.) The pizza man brought pizza. The grocery man brought (you guessed it) groceries. And Cory? He brought .... H1N1.

Yes, he got sick with it while staying with us. That was a week ago, and so far, so good as far as the hubby, Jack, and I are concerned. (Cory didn't fare as well. He had complications. Although he WAS released from the hospital yesterday.)

It's a scary, scary flu season out there, especially for the little ones. Especially when H1N1 vaccines are in such low supply. Especially when the first batch that reached your state froze and no longer worked. But I digress.

I was going to make some sort of Moroccan short ribs in the slow cooker today, but when it came down to it, I just wasn't hungry for Moroccan short ribs. I decided to introduce us to the wonderful world of bone-in short ribs using just a basic meat 'n' potatoes recipe. I was in a hurry and just randomly threw a bunch of things in. Overall, the ribs were incredibly tasty, and the meat was very buttery and tender. Almost too rich. Dare I say that I might avoid bone-in short ribs in the future, just because I'm more used to leaner cuts of meat?

In other news, awards! I'd like to thank Palidor at Crazy Asian Gal for the following award.

Palidor is so kind and sweet. She lives in The Land Without Symphony Bars (also called "Canada"*), and her blog is among my favorites to read. How she comes up with such yummy recipes while eating gluten-free, I'll never know.

I'd like to pass this award on (see, I'm getting the hang of this!) to the following bloggers:
  • girlichef: Her derring-do in the kitchen tops all others. (She makes her own fresh mozzarella and cream cheese!) Plus, she lets me private e-mail her with all kinds of annoying questions. She should be sainted. If I could bottle her energy, I'd ... keep it all for myself.
  • Accountants can cook?: Accountants apparently can write, as well. Aside from the yummy recipes, I just love the narrative style. And she puts her meal plans on her Blackberry. I think that makes her my hero.
  • My Tasty Treasures: I salivate, giggle, and blush every time I read her blog.
  • My Year on the Grill: He grills anything. He says anything. Today, while catching up on his posts, I laughed so hard that I sprayed juice out of my nose. Now THAT's an endorsement.

*Let it be known that I harbor no grudge against Canada. I love Canada. I visit frequently. I honeymooned there. They have great concerts. Although I do notice a huge difference in Old Dutch potato chips across our northern border. Is this because of some difference in Dutch heritage in Canada versus the U.S.? Just wondering.

Slow Cooker Short Ribs
Serves 4

2 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs
Salt, pepper, and steak seasoning (recommend Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. dry red wine
3 c. beef broth, divided
2 c. halved baby carrots
3 c. chopped potatoes
1/2 onion, peeled, root intact
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 c. cornstarch

1. Sprinkle short ribs on all sides with salt, pepper, and steak seasoning.

2. Preheat oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat.

Tip: Don't forget about the oil while you're facing the other way, chopping carrots, or you'll smoke up the entire room. And if you have an open floor plan, this means the entire main floor of the house. And then you'll have to wake up the hubby to go take the baby downstairs so they can both breathe, and you can open the windows to the 44-degree air and attempt to clear out the smoke over the course of the next hour.

3. Brown the ribs on all sides in the oil, about 8-10 minutes total.

4. Place ribs in slow cooker. Pour off any remaining oil in the pan.

5. Pour wine and 2 1/2 c. broth in pan, scraping up the bits from the bottom. Pour wine and broth into slow cooker.

6. Add carrots, potatoes, onion, and seasonings.

7. Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours, or on low for 7 1/2 hours.

8. Combine 1/2 c. beef broth and cornstarch, and stir into beef mixture. Cook an additional 30 minutes, or until gravy is thickened. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. (I used a lot of salt, something like 2-3 teaspoons.)

9. Remove onion and bay leaf before serving.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

You don't know Jack

And to be honest, I'm still trying to figure him out, myself.

I had big plans to try a bunch of new recipes last week. But I lost all my ambition around, oh, Tuesday-ish. Instead, I made a big pot of shredded beef tacos and dined on leftovers all week.

The little man has developed a bit of a sensitive stomach, and lying down isn't the most comfortable for him after he's eaten. And he eats almost every hour. The remedy? Lots and lots of snuggling.

It's been therapeutic for both of us. We cuddle. We read books (I do about 95% of the reading). We drink milk. We burp. We talk. To think, just a few short weeks ago, the little man was a total stranger to me. And now I know enough to have developed a dossier.

Name: Jack
Known aliases: Little man, Jack-baby, Creepy
Likes: Milk (a.k.a. Creepy juice), fuzzy jammies, fleece blankets, mirrors, pacifiers, his hands
Dislikes: Short sleeves, socks, spitting up, sleeping in the dark, baths, getting into his carseat
Hobbies: Snuggling, lifting his head, belching like a man, scratching his own face, turning all Mom's t-shirts into v-necks
Other notes: Smells like milk

And here are a few photos of him in his various guises.

Awake and alert:

He's the one on the left.


He's totally on to you. Or maybe you're supposed to steal third.


He finds Food Network tedious. They're pretty focused on solid food.


This is what listening to Sarah McLachlan does to a little man.


We only hope that someday, he's this happy when he's awake.

See? Mystery solved. It was time well spent.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Symphony Brownies

The hubby and I have very similar food tastes and philosophies. We like food that tastes good, regardless of its preparation complexity or snob level. We share many of the same favorite dishes. Where our tastes do differ -- such as the hubby's love for seafood -- we agree that it's still OK for one person to indulge those tastes while the other person finds something else to eat.

One area where we differ is that I like to experiment more with recipes, whereas the hubby sees no reason to try new recipes for dishes that he thinks we've already perfected. Why try a new stew recipe when we already make the perfect stew? Why try a different cheesecake when fudge truffle can't be beat?

You can imagine the look on his face tonight when I offered to bake brownies, but told him I was throwing Symphony bars in the middle of it.

This is a recipe that I first saw on one of Paula Deen's cooking shows, and I've seen it posted elsewhere, as well. Most recipes call for breaking up two Symphony bars, but I could swear I saw Paula just plop three whole ones into her brownies, so that's what I did.

These are scrumptious. Even the hubby liked them. I warned him that there were toffee bits in the brownies. (I didn't mention the almonds. He would've freaked.) When I asked how they were, he said, "Good, but there's some sort of crunchy $@&# in them." So here you go. Easy, good brownies with crunchy $@&# in them.

Symphony Brownies
Makes 16

1 family-sized pkg. of brownie mix
Oil, eggs, and water, as per package instructions
3 4.25-oz. Symphony bars with almonds and toffee

1. Preheat oven as directed on package, and spray cooking spray in the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan.

2. Prepare brownie batter according to package instructions.

3. Pour half the batter in the pan. Lay unwrapped candy bars in a single layer on the batter. Cover with the remaining batter.

4. Bake according to package instructions. Let cool slightly before cutting.

That was my attempt at a picture. Here's another.

This was taken by my brother, Cory, who was visiting his new nephew. Cory brought a lens that's longer than my arm, and stopped taking cute Jack pics long enough to take some cute brownie pics.

I'm thinking about making Cory my official blog photographer. Of course, he'd have to move in. He can share baby Jack's room. Jack thinks sleep is for babies, so he's certainly not using it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lasagna Soup

Because I'm lucky enough to be home all day with the little man for the next few months, we've been trying to cook meals that make a lot of leftovers so I have quick food for lunch. And food that reheats well.

The little man lives life by the seat of his diaper right now, so some days I might have a leisurely hour for lunch, and other days I reheat the same bowl of soup four times over the course of two hours before I finally get a chance to sit down and eat. (The hubby keeps repeating that quote from A Christmas Story -- "My mother had not had a hot meal for herself in 15 years ...")

Soup. Soup is good.

This recipe is an adaptation of what I think is a Paula Deen recipe. I vaguely recall seeing it on one of her shows, in any case. It really does have a flavor resembling lasagna; I was afraid that it would be too tomato-y and acidic, but the chicken broth and brown sugar do their thing. The original recipe also recommended serving this soup with a big helping of broiled cheese and garlic toast on top (like French Onion soup is served), but I went with just a sprinkling of mozzarella on the steaming soup. I'm trying to regain my girlish figure 'n' all.

Oh, wait. I've never had a girlish figure.

Lasagna Soup
Serves 6

1 lb. hamburger
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
32 oz. chicken broth
2 14.5-oz. cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. mafalda (mini lasagna) noodles, or broken lasagna noodles
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
Shredded mozzarella

1. In a Dutch oven or soup pot, cook hamburger, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat until hamburger is browned.

2. Stir in thyme, brown sugar, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

3. Add noodles. Simmer until noodles are tender, about 10 minutes.

4. Stir in parmesan cheese.

5. Serve with shredded mozzarella.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars

I'm very behind on my blog posting. And even more behind on my blog reading. At last count, Google Reader informed me that I have 638 postings to catch up on. I'll get there. I will.

Anyway, I saw a commercial on TV this weekend about how the scariest part of Halloween is giving away your Reese's. And you know what? They're totally right. The hubby and I have been on a Reese's kick lately. We can't seem to get enough peanut butter and chocolate. So today I made some chocolate-peanut butter bars, in the hopes that it will make me feel better when I eat the last of the hubby's candy.

This recipe is based on a Kraft recipe that I saw recently, except I modified the ingredients slightly and made up my own instructions. The recipe as listed was completely implausible. I think they needed to save on space, so they just threw it together. So I just threw THIS version together. So there.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars
Makes 16-20

1 chocolate cake mix (2-layer size)
1 3.9-oz. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 c. milk
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, butter, and milk.

3. Using a spatula or your hands, spread half the mixture in the pan. (It will be thick, sort of like cookie dough.)

4. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool on rack 10 minutes.

5. Spread peanut butter over crust layer. Top with half the chocolate chips.

6. Drop remaining batter over top. I sort of flattened mine and pieced it together over the peanut butter. Top with remaining chocolate chips.

7. Bake 15 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Beef Daube Provençal

It feels like fall is here to stay in North Dakota -- all two weeks of it, anyway -- and I couldn't be happier. I'm a cool and gloomy weather kind of gal. Sunshine makes me frown. Plus, fall and winter are my favorite seasons for cooking.

Today is Sunday. I feel compelled to mention that because I'm not sure when I'll finish this post. The hubby and the little man are watching football together today, both dressed in Bears shirts, giving me time to run errands, take a nap, and cook some supper. I'm trying to make use of some of my fresh herbs before they're gone for the season (I give them maybe another week), and I couldn't resist trying this recipe, which is a modified version of a Cooking Light recipe.

You can either bake this recipe in the oven or use a slow cooker, so I'll include both methods in the instructions. The recipe does call for a bit of prep work -- it's not my favorite kind of dump-and-go slow cooker recipe -- but it's perfect for a weekend when you might have some extra time.

Beef Daube Provençal
Serves 4-6

2 tsp. olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 lbs. boneless beef roast or steak, cut in 2" cubes
1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
1 c. red wine
2 c. chopped carrot
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. beef broth
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 bay leaf
Cooked egg noodles

1. Heat oil over low heat in a Dutch oven. Add cloves and garlic and cook about 5 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant. Remove garlic and set aside.

2. Turn heat to medium-high. Add beef, and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.

Brown on all sides, and remove from pan.

3. Pour wine into pan and deglaze pan, scraping up bits from bottom of pan. Bring wine to a boil and return beef to pan.

4. Add remaining ingredients except egg noodles, and bring mixture to a boil.

5. If baking in the oven, cover and bake for 2 1/2 hours at 300 degrees. If using a slow cooker, pour mixture into slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours.

6. Discard bay leaf, and serve over noodles.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Giveaway winner

It has been an interesting week here at Angel in the Kitchen. We might need to temporarily rename the blog Angel in the Kitchen Sterilizing Bottles. (My man Jack requires that his milk go through a bottling process.)

We're still trying to figure each other out. The little man and I spend a lot of time eyeing each other warily, trying to predict the other's next move. His is usually shaking his head maniacally, rooting for food. He has the hubby's nose and chin, but he has my appetite. Lucky kid.

The hubby has been doing all of the cooking this past week, which has been nice -- I spend that time napping. I'm hoping we get in more of a routine and I recover more physically, so I can start helping out again. Surely I should be able to find a few minutes for my slow cooker!

But in the meantime, we have a contest winner to announce. Thanks to all who entered, and for the great recipe ideas. The contest was luck of the draw -- literally. I was feeling low-tech, so I wrote all the entires on slips of paper and the hubby drew a name out of a large bowl. The winner of the $100 gift card is ... Esme from Chocolate & Croissants.

Hooray! Esme, please send your address to, and I'll get the gift card sent out in the next batch of mail.