We Haven’t Been Shopping Pasta

With the mild renovations we went through last month, and the packing and unpacking, grocery shopping took a bit of a hit. And while the two year old had a ready supply of applesauce, carrots, and Chef Boyardee…the adults were a little bit out of luck on that front.

So we got creative…

A couple weeks ago we had this recipe I’m dubbing “Bottom of the Barrel Pasta”. Noah and I were hungry so I threw open the pantry and got inventing.

I started a pot full of salted water and pulled out our jar of bow tie pasta (yeah, I keep my pasta in apothecary jars big woop wanna fight about it?) and got that going.

Then, I got a tablespoon of butter melting in my trusty kinda rusty cast iron skillet, then threw in about a quarter cup of flour to make up my roux. I prefer to season my roux instead of the sauce because I like my spices to cook into the source of the sauce. So in went a glob of minced garlic from a jar, a splurt of ginger from the squeeze tube, black pepper, dehydrated onions, red pepper flakes, and a touch of salt.

My family is not a “stock” or “bullion” family. We like bases. The only real difference between a bullion and a base is that base is scoopable and doesn’t remind me of sawdust.

So in went a tablespoon or so of mushroom base in too. Before that started to burn (because it will( I poured about two cups of milk in, dumped in a drained can of carrots, and the fresh mushrooms leftover from homemade pizza night.

I turned the heat down and left it to simmer while I brought a pot of salted water to boil.

By  the time the bow-ties are just shy of being done the sauce will just about be ready.

What I’m trying to communicate is that you’re almost done here.

Take a little of the pasta water and loosen up the sauce with it. Then drain the pasta and throw it in with the sauce.

This part is optional, but it didn’t disappoint, I fried up a few pieces of bacon and crumbled it on top with some garden basil. Garden basil is the best.

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15-Minute Dinner “Momma’s Ramen Stir-fry”

My mom spent the better part of her life, and most of mine, a cook, or a baker, and occasionally a waitress. Your first impression would be to assume she made amazing food. And she did…but not always at home. Mom would go all out on holidays and special occasions, but a strange thing happens when you work with food all damn day…when you get home you don’t want to cook.

Since my dad isn’t the best in the kitchen (he’s king of hamburger helper and leftovers) and my sister never had much interest in the “arts of home economics” (I love you, but I’m right and you know it.) and I still haven’t mastered the art of making a meal without also making a tornado style mess, mom was still left to doing the cooking.

Mom became the master of “30 minute meals” that slowly got edged down from 30, to 20, to 15 minute meals. One of my favorites to this day is my mom’s ramen-stir fry. And by stir fry, I mean we cook it in a wok.

Serves 4-5

3 diced raw chicken breasts

1 head of broccoli

3 green onions

4 large carrots

1 can of water chestnuts

1 large onion

4 cloves garlic (or, my shortcut just buy the minced stuff in the jar OR THE SQUEEZE BOTTLE)

squeeze ginger (see they make this stuff too!)

Italian salad dressing

soy sauce

and a pack of chicken ramen

 

Slice the vegetables into bite sized bits and set aside

Heat the wok over a medium high heat and use the Italian dressing as your “food lube”. Once the pan is hot, throw in the chicken bits. Coat with more Italian dressing.

In another pan put 2 c water on to boil.

Brown the chicken, cooking it pretty much all the way through. Remove from the wok.

Put the sliced onions, carrots, and garlic into the wok and stir until the onions begin to sweat. Throw in the broccoli, and the water chestnuts. Add some soy sauce and ginger.

When the water boils throw in the noodles, put the MSG pack aside for seasoning in the stir fry if you want, or for something else later. Let them get to just this side of chewey.

Once the vegetables start to cook down throw the chicken back in. Pile the noodles on top, and splash in a few tablespoons of the water. Add more soy sauce and ginger as needed, and salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat, serve, and mow!

 

 

 

Hey guys, I know it’s not special, but it’s a perfect easy-fix week night meal. You can even short cut it by buying pre-packaged veggies. They have snap peas in them a lot and those are a great substitution too.

Angel Food Cake

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a new recipe with you guys. I was preparing to share my adventures in gnocchi, buttttt long story short
no go on the homemade gnocchi bro. I’ve got quite a bit of altering to do on that recipe before I’ll be able to share it with you.

Anyways.

It was my friend Josh’s birthday yesterday and as Josh is one of our best friend’s in the world we threw together a day of shenanigans.  All of which were custom tailored to what we knew were his favorite things, and the one thing he requested for dinner.

To make it extra special, instead of buying an Angel Food Cake (his favorite cake ever) which would’ve I’ll admit have been the SMART thing to do…I decided to make one.

I’m now a pro egg separator, and it will probably be a long time before I buy one of these guys again. Once you taste a homemade one of these guys…there’s no going back.

  • 1cup cake flour
  • 34cup sugar
  • 2tablespoons sugar
  • 12large egg whites, MUST be room temperature
  • 1 12teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 14teaspoon salt
  • 34cup sugar
  • 1 12teaspoons vanilla
  • 12teaspoon almond extract

Ok, straight up, I didn’t have cake flour or almond extract.

To substitute All Purpose Flour for cake flour it’s 2tablespoons of cornstarch in the bottom of a one cup measuring cup, and then level off the flour on top of that. If you’d doing more than one cup of flour it’s a  14   cup for every two cups of flour.

I replaced the almond extract with imitation raspberry, if you have nothing else it’s okay to leave it out, it just won’t have that amazing depth of flavor the second flavor will give it.

 

 

  1. DO NOT GREASE PAN.
  2. Heat oven to 375°.
  3. Sift the cake flour and 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar; set aside.
  4. Combine the extracts in a small bowl; set aside.
  5. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until it forms peaks. Once it starts to stand up on the whisk is fine. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t try to do this by hand unless you’re a certified beast…and if you do show me your certification.
  6. Add the other 3/4 cup of sugar slowly, then beat on high until stiff peaks form. This takes longer than you’d think, it’s probably safe to go pee during this part.
  7. Beating on LOW, add flour mixture and extracts slowly. I did this by hand and it took forever, but I think it was worth it because Angel Food Cake is really delicate. There’s no leavening agent so if you damage and accidentally deflate the egg whites…oooh boy you’re doomed.
  8. Move a knife through batter to remove air pockets.
  9. Bake 30-35 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly with finger.
  10. Invert pan onto a tin funnel to cool completely. I propped mine up on a bottle of hot sauce. The lid fit perfectly in the little hole and kept it balanced while I let it cool overnight. You want to
  11. To remove the cake from your pan run a knife around the rim of the cake pan just to get the ‘crust’ away from the pan. Then pull the detachable middle part out and run a knife along the bottom so as to disconnect it from that. BE INCREDIBLY CAREFUL MINE BROKE APART. (Into three neat pieces that nobody noticed but it was still insulting to me.)

We topped it with a peach and pear compote my fiance made, and a homemade whipped cream I made. It was glorious.

Give this re

My Family’s Favorite Meatloaf

One of my favorite things to cook, one of my least favorite things to eat. I’m not a fan of ground beef in just about any form. Don’t get me wrong, I love beef. Steaks, stews, roasts, it’s all great. But for some reason, when it gets ground up, it leaves me feeling icky.

Normally I’d opt for ground Turkey, but I was making this for the boys so I pulled a thing of beef out of the freezer.

The first thing you need is a mirepoix.

To save you the trouble of looking up what a mirepoix is if you don’t already know–Thank you cooking channel for never actually explaining what it is to me–it’s sauteed carrots, celery, and onion. 

You need to do this first because they need to cool before you add it to the meatloaf mixture. Unless you’re me, who tends to keep just a handful of this in the fridge at all times, not even on purpose.

After it’s cooled, you put that, a box of corn-muffin mix (instead of crackers or breadcrumbs), two eggs, a generous helping of ketchup, an equal amount of barbeque sauce, a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce, some fresh ground ginger, some chopped garlic, a generous helping of salt, pepper, and a touch of Cayanne. Then for one meatloaf, put in one pound of ground beef and combine until everything is thoroughly mixed together.

Now take your loaf pan and line it with tinfoil. You’ll still have to wash the pan, but at least you won’t have to let it soak, or scrub it, or worry about damaging the finish if it’s non-stick. And, when it’s time to serve, you just lift the tinfoil up and put it on the serving plate.

Serve it with mashed potatoes, green beans, and some gravy. I can’t promise that it’s “healthy”, how can you make “healthy” meatloaf? But I can promise that it is definitely flavorful, and definitely going to be a crowd pleaser or great leftovers.

Cook responsibly and enjoy!

Valentine’s Dinner for two!

Noah had to work on Valentine’s Day, second shift. Which was a bit of a bummer. But, to surprise him, I stayed up late and made a delectable sirloin and potato dinner for two. (Sirloin is his favorite). And for dessert, mini-cheesecakes, and chocolate covered strawberries.

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Always try to start with dessert. It gets it out of the way and everything is ready to eat when you’re done cooking dinner. I was multi-tasking, so I thought putting the chocolate on a slow melt right next to my prep space would keep it from burning or seizing up.

Who peels potatoes?

It frees you up to do more important things…like chopping up potatoes because potatoes take a long time before they are smashable.

Don’t bother peeling them, texture is your friend. Just give them a rough chop so they’re all fairly small. The smaller they are, the quicker they’ll mush.

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My cat is a little begger. Say “Hi” to Salem. You can’t tell because his bowl is currently empty, but I had just fed him!

Salem is also a dick. But I love him. Happy Valentine’s Salem!

So now that I had the potatoes going and the chocolate really slowly melting, it was time to move on to the dessert!

We should just buy butter by the pound.

Cruuuuuuuuuuuuussssssssttttttttt I used an instant mix! Don't judge me!

I don’t really do cheesecakes from scratch. I leave that to Noah. He’s practically pro at it.

It worked! The strawberries were successfully covered in the Yum yum yum yum yummmmm yum.chocolate, even though I used the wrong kind. “Almond bark” is a really finicky product. Moisture can cause it to seize up and to separate and turn really icky. So I usually don’t try with fruit or anything with moisture. But since I couldn’t find the chocolate chips for anything, I prayed, and was rewarded.

I put them on the parchment paper and let them set until I was comfortable moving them to the fridge on a plate so they could more thoroughly set.

Mooooooo Oh shit...they don't fit... Home-made spice mixNoah’s favorite cut in the whole world is Sirloin. It’s not my favorite, but I can see why. I decided to up the flavor profile by doing my own spice mix.

I think since I used a pre-made creole blend for my base, and added other kinds of seasons it’s technically a “fusion” blend. But that’s more just me getting ahead of myself. We’re not big herbs people, so we didn’t bother adding any of that.

I rubbed both sides of the meat down, and put them into separate pans (they genuinely wouldn’t both fit in one, and it was my biggest and second biggest oven-safe pans.) that had melted butter and just a teeny touch of vegetable oil in it. Not a lot, we’re not frying anything here, the pans just need a little fat and lube so they A. don’t stick and B. brown right.

Butter is best for browning and flavor, and vegetable oil keeps the butter from burning.

DSC_0456  Then I started the gravy. Brown gravy roux needs to cook for a while, so it turns brown. So while the steaks were browning on each side, I put some butter on to gently melt, and added flour and let that cook gently until it was a great brown base.

The steaks needed to rest in the oven, so after the flour was brown, I poured the drippings from the steaks into the pan, and then a little water, Worcester sauce, a dribble of soy sauce, some black pepper, and onion powder.  Bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer until it’s the consistency you want.

By then, your steaks should be done, cheesecakes should be set, and strawberries nice and chocolatey.

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Bon Appétit!

 

Home fried Mozz

It is, by far, my favorite bar food.

And I have a ball of fresh Mozz (I’m going to make homemade mozz this summer you just watch me it’s going to be epic!)

And I was hungry.

So I made my own.

I got the cheap kind of fresh mozz, so it was really chewy before. But oh, my, goodness, I think a softer cheese would have just evaporated.

I took 2 bowls, one with milk, the other with a 2 parts flour to 1 part seasoning mixture. I didn’t use the typical one, because I didn’t have breadcrumbs, or jalapenos. We just had this great Creole spice mix.

Then I pan fried it. It was oozy and gooey and it didn’t get as solid as it was before even after it cooled.

I definitely found my new party food!

365 Things to do with Potatoes: Episode twelve

Episode twelve, potato cakes.

Sometimes called Latkes. But, those are traditionally a kosher dish eaten at Hanukkah. My version involves kosher salt, but it also usually involves bacon, which is not kosher.

A traditional latke is described as “Latkes are potato pancakes that are perhaps best known as traditional Hanukkah food. Made with potatoes, onion and matzah or breadcrumbs, these crispy treats symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah because they are fried in oil.” By Judism.about.com

I didn’t really fry mine in oil either…I did have some in there, because olive and vegetable oil have much higher smoking temperatures than butter and bacon fat. All of which found their way into my frying pan.

 

I love potato cakes, at least the way I do them because I don’t even try with raw potatoes. Last time I attempted to shred a raw potato I broke my cheese-grater. Right. in. half.
Screw that noise.
So, as part of my “shortcuts to being supermom” thing I’m trying. I keep pre-baked potatoes in the fridge at all times. They never last longer than a week, and it cuts down on SO MUCH PREP TIME.

Please see our first episode on how to bake potatoes.

Don’t wrap them in foil though. Bad stuff happens when you do that. Stuff that happens to the miracle of can foods happens when you leave potatoes in foil. (And unless you’re grilling, why are you doing that anyways???)

So you can use pretty much any kind of potato you have. Thaw some frozen hashbrowns, left-over mashed potatoes, prebaked. I [had my roommate] shred some of the pre-baked potatoes, while I made sure the bacon got cooked, chopped the onion (I used a sweet onion, which is generally the only kind I use when I need one of the big ones. I prefer green onions, they have the same onion taste and some of the moisture, but the texture is better and they’re smaller).

Once the potatoes are shredded and the bacon is cooked, the onions chopped, combine them all in a bowl and fold them together pretty gently.

Now, add an egg, or two, and some matzah, breadcrumbs, or if you’re me, straight up flour.

Then seasoning. Because potatoes really. really. like to drink it up.

I used low-sodium bacon, and definitely didn’t compensate accordingly with the other seasonings. So make sure you use enough. Salt. Black pepper. I’m not a big herbs fan, but herbs are great, cilantro especially, and then some crushed red pepper for some heat.

Let your “batter” sit for a couple minutes while you’re heating up your oil/butter/stew of grease for frying. I don’t recommend deep frying it.

Make sure there’s enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan, probably about a quarter of an inch deep. If you happen to have an electric skillet that is temperature controlled, use that. At about 350. If you have a thermometer, use that, at about 350. If you have yet to unlock either of these achievements, get your hand wet, and splash JUST A FEW DROPS I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. If it sounds like a lovely summer rain, it’s right, if it sounds like a cliche boiling sound, turn that shit down and possibly cover it with a lid.

Grease fires aren’t cool.

You’re looking for a rain sound, a lovely, soothing, rain sound.

Put spoonfuls of the batter in and kinda spread it out so they’re flat-ish. They can be anywhere from tater-tot size to the size of the pan. But I like to do them just smaller than the size of my spatula, for, you know, convenience.

Let them sit for about 45 seconds, doing their thing. Remember, in this scenario we used already cooked potatoes, the only thing we need to cook right now is the egg.

Once they’re brown on one side, go ahead and flip and wait til they’re brown on the other.

Pull them out, let them drain off some of that oil on a rack or paper towels, and add just a little bit more salt on top while they’re still hot.

Serve. With, gravy, or cheese, or…ranch…I don’t know.