Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Number 13 aka "The best thing you have ever cooked for me"

This past week, I have spent a lot of time playing with the new rice maker. Iwaswrongandhewasright. Seriously, I thought that getting a rice maker was a questionable (stupid) idea. Who knew it could make so many delectable rice concoctions? I counted the curry rice as a new recipe but I ended up changing it and other flavor combinations. Boy-o loved: rice, peppers, onions, cajun spices, hot pepper sauce, black beans and corn whereas hubby and I took a fondness to: rice, onions, cumin seeds, chili powder, beans and (drained) diced tomatoes. Since these are not really recipes, I am not counting them towards my 53 new recipe goal.

I did buy a new allergy free cookbook and had Boy-o pick out the recipes he would be interested in trying. One of his choices was a breakfast pizza with a hash brown crust. Saturday for brunch, I made him a dairy free version and and one with real cheese for my husband and me. It was good but I wasn't totally happy with the results. Sunday, after my stick fighting class, I decided to stop at the local supermarket and buy a small premade pizza shell. I wanted to try the breakfast pizza again and see if I could get closer to what a local store makes. I put the shell in a fry pan and loaded on toppings (I used left over TVP, corn, peppers, onions, hot peppers). I then carefully pours Egg Beaters over the top. I covered and cooked the pizza until the egg was done and then added on cheese and cooked another minute until melted. I did not use pizza sauce because the local store doesn't on their breakfast pizza. Boy-o loved it! He did say "it is the best thing you have ever cooked for me". It was also very filling and he had leftovers which I popped in the microwave for breakfast the next day. That is a definite make again. I may try to make my own pizza shells next time.

We have been hit with storm after storm since Christmas. One week, I had two snow days from work. The weather report today used two words that I hate hearing in the same sentence - monster and storm. Yup. The forecast is for between 20 and 30 inches of snow. Where are we going to put it? Luckily, I made a quick trip to the grocery store yesterday to pick up rice. I can't wait to come up with a new flavor combination!

Enjoy and stay out of the bad weather!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Even Dozen

Growing up, my mother made the very best chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. They were called Cowboy Cookies and they were amazingly yummy. Our cookie jar was an old metal container that someone had painted that was originally for potato chips. It had a funny contraption on top that was supposed to keep things fresh and not soggy. I am not sure if it worked or not. With 4 kids in the house, her Cowboy Cookies barely had time to make it into the cookie jar.

Boy-o has been on a real cookie kick lately but (gasp) he doesn't like cowboy cookies. Sometimes I wonder if we brought the wrong baby home from the hospital. Seriously. Anyway, since it is mid-term week at school, I decided to try a new Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe out of the KitchenAid recipe book to reward him for all of his hard work.

It was a pretty typical cookie recipe. I replaced the butter with shortening and water and used milk free chocolate chips. My buttercup yellow stand mixer did duty to mix everything together and before I could say Jack Rabbit, chocolate chip cookies were baking away in my trusty oven. They came out great. I still prefer Cowboy cookies but I will admit to eating one or two of these cookies (for breakfast).

Another successful new recipe tried and another recipe in the "make again" column.

This has been a great week for meeting my resolutions - a new recipe tried check, crockpot used (check) and stand mixer used (check). I am on a roll!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Success with the Rice Cooker - recipe #11

My son - the vegetarian - loves rice. He asked for a rice cooker for Christmas this year. As he pointed out, it is something that he can take with him to college when he leaves in less than 2 years. My big worry about him going away to college is that he won't eat enough. Needless to say, there was a rice cooker under our Christmas tree!

Lately, I have been trying to have something hot in a crockpot for when Boy-o gets home from school. These include red beans with TVP, pasta or a tortilla casserole. This morning, I decided to try a vegetable curry rice dish that I found on the same site where I got the directions for roasting the peppers. I modified the recipe by making it in the rice cooker so it would stay on warm until he got home from school and also by leaving off the almonds. I didn't have any almonds on hand and I thought they would get limp in the cooker. It smelled heavenly as I was getting ready for work. Absolutely heavenly. Boy-o and hubby tried it and both really enjoyed it. They both commented that it could use more curry so I will definitely increase that the next time I make it.

Gosh, kitchen gadgets make cooking a lot more fun!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A twofer - 10 down and 43 to go!

As I have mentioned, we have been watching Food Network a fair amount. We have been watching "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" where he goes in and challenges a restaurant in their specialty dish. My husband loves spicy food so he was interested in Bobby Flay's Sloppy Joes. I have never liked Sloppy Joes but I was willing to give it a try.

When we went shopping for the ingredients, we were unable to find the roasted peppers called for in the recipe. We bought peppers and I roasted them at home. Yup. One meal and two new recipes! I had no idea that you had to peel the roasted peppers. It was very very easy.

The sloppy joe recipe was very time consuming. Thank goodness that we weren't all that hungry when we started. My hubby flunked knife skills as he sliced his finger pretty good. Ouch. We haven't ruled out a trip to the ER later tonight.

I made a few modifications to Bobby's recipe. We felt that there was a strong enough taste of vinegar so we didn't add any at the end as instructed. Also, we decided to serve them on traditional rolls instead of on the garlic toast.

The final results, however, were outstanding. They were very tasty with a nice spice. It made a good amount and we have leftovers for lunches or another meal. I would make them again - but only if I had plenty of time. Definitely not school lunch sloppy joes!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2 out of 3 ain't bad -8 down 45 left to go

Yesterday, I was in a cooking mood so I asked Boy-o if he would be interested in homemade bagels. I had attempted these once before and the results were promising. However, there were a couple of things that I didn't like about that recipe so I went online to find a new one. I offered to make cinnamon raisin bagels. Boy-o informed me that he liked the idea of cinnamon but didn't want the raisins. That was one of my modifications to the recipe. I ended up sprinkling cinnamon on the dough before shaping them. I also used my trusty buttercup yellow stand mixer to mix and knead the dough. They came out great.

The new recipe is going onto my use again list.

I guess yesterday was my day for cooking round items with a hole in the middle because late yesterday afternoon, my husband and I made homemade donuts. My mother-in-law has been attempting donuts for the past couple of years with limited success and my husband decided to see what we could come up with. He found a recipe and we made the dough up. After letting it rest, we ended down the hill to grandma's house and rolled out the donuts. They were OK. You see, we have a donut dilemma in our house. I like the light fluffy dunkin' donuts type donuts. Hubby prefers the heavier cake style donuts. This recipe was for the heavier donuts. The donut holes we cooked were good but the actual donuts weren't really to my taste.

This morning after returning from stick class, I started on my favorite corn chowder. I realized that I didn't have enough evaporated milk so I made a quick call to Hubby who had done a longer workout and asked him to stop and pick some up. I had been scanning recipes for egg rolls so I also asked him to pick up shredded coleslaw mix and egg roll wrappers. I was feeling confident after the success with the bagels so I decided to give it a try. I can't give you a link to a recipe because I combined a bunch of recipes. This is what I did:

3 garlic gloves minced
1 onion diced

Saute in a wok in oil until translucent.

Add in one package shredded cabbage and 2 carrots shredded and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in one tsp ground ginger and enough sweet soy sauce to lightly coat the veggies. You want the mixture to remain dry. Add in a couple of small Thai chili peppers minced and saute. The veggies should be limp but not soggy.

Roll into egg rolls per the directions on the wrappers. Fry and enjoy.

This was a HUGE success. When I asked Boy-o if we should make it again, his answer was "frequently". I love it when I find food that he is excited about. :)

Thanks for reading about my journey.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

5 down..... 48 to go

I have 't cooked a great deal in the last week or so. We ended up with a ton of leftovers from my last cooking binge so we finished those off instead. I did end the week with a yummy crockpot lasagna.

Yesterday, I had to make a quick trip home at lunchtime because I had forgotten to take my cell phone off the charger and I was making a trip to Portland last night. I drove for years without a cell phone (yes, I am that old) but nowadays the thought of driving 45 minutes each way without one is scary. Strange but true. Anyway, while I was home, I decided to throw something in the mini-crockpot for Boy-o to have when he got out of work last night. I put together frozen homemade ravioli with sauce, spices and (fake) cheese and set it up to be ready when he got out of home. Imagine my surprise when I made a call home at 4:45 and he informed me that he was eating his meal. I guess the raviolis were no longer frozen but I wonder how cooked they were. Yikes. The stomach of a teenage boy. He said it was good. I can't imagine and wonder if he was only trying to be nice. I told him to leave the leftovers in the crockpot until he got home from work. He packed the leftovers in a lunch for school. I can't wait to hear if that is better!

When I returned from my dinner out with my college friends, I was full of energy so I made Boy-o a black bean and corn enchilada pie to cook in the crockpot today. I have never tried it in the crockpot but I figured it was worth a try. I also modified a recipe to make one of my favorite cookies dairy free. I am counting the modification as a new recipe. It is so easy that I feel like I am cheating but hey, sometimes easy is the way to go. (PS I had a great visit with Mary Ellen last night and she is doing wonderfully!)

When I was in college with Mary Ellen and Judy, one of Mary Ellen and my favorite recipes was something called Peanut Scotch Crisps. We weren't the only ones enamored with this. Anoter student actually wrote in and asked for the recipe and they published it in the alumni magazine. It is the easiest thing to make!

Peanut Scotch Crisps
1 cup peanut butter
1 package butterscotch chips
6 cups rice krispie cereal

Combine peanut butter and chips in a large bowl. Melt in microwave in 30 second increments (it takes about 2 minutes in mine). When melted, stir together and add rice krispies a few cups at a time. Stir to coat and put in large pan (I use my lasagna pan). Put into refrigerator until solid. Cut into bars and enjoy. So easy but people love them.

Since I haven't been able to find non-dairy butterscotch chips, I modified the recipe and made:
Boy-o's Dairyfree Peanut Choco Crisps. I used semi sweet dairy free chocolate chips instead. It was a complete taste change but very good and he loved them. A smile on his face puts a smile on mine.

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

4 down - 49 to go! Thai Red Curry Mac 'n Cheese

Happy New Year, Bloggers! I hope that 2011 is happy, healthy and prosperous for you and yours.

Our family has started watching the Food Network on a regular basis. This past summer, we watched "The Next Food Network Start" for several episodes and I was quite happy when Aarti won. We make sure we DVR her show and have tried a couple of her recipes. The Bombay Sloppy Joes were good and we all enjoyed her chocolate ginger pie on Thanksgiving.

Yesterday, we decided to try her Thai Red Curry Mac N Cheese. I must confess. I have never made Mac 'n Cheese from scratch before. I am actually not a huge fan of mac 'n cheese but her recipe seemed interesting. When we announced what we were making for ourselves, Boy-o expressed an interest in having his own non-dairy version so we got to work boiling the macaroni. I didn't have enough macaroni to make some for Boy-o's so we took an old box of pasta salad mix, took out the pasta and threw out the rest of the ingredients. I also didn't have any extra red curry paste for Boy-o's so I substituted minced hot peppers and mixed those into the cooked pasta. We boiled, we whisked, we stirred, made a big mess and this is what we ended up with.

The top one in the cast iron skillet is the pasta with the red curry paste. It was a lovely orange color. The bottom picture was the non-dairy version. Since I hadn't planned on making him one, I used a mixture of the soy cheeses that I had in the refrigerator.

Results: Our mac n cheese had a lovely flavor. The red curry paste was a nice change of pace and I would definitely make it again. I enjoyed the crumb topping on top. The next time I make it, I will probably cut the recipe in half to better fit the needs of our family. As it is, I am going to be eating mac n cheese all week! My son said his version was ok but couldn't taste the chopped up hot peppers. He also doesn't really like the choice of cheeses that I used. We saved the leftovers and he is going to try it again today. I would try making it again and used different cheese for him. I would also make his with the red curry paste as I think he would enjoy that flavor. It was an easy recipe to make but a bit messy. Making a smaller amount should help with that. All in all, a successful experience!