Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day 1 of the CFL

So, I decided to give up chocolate for Lent. Oh yeah, and "eating after 8pm" (the hubs' idea, I may enforce it on him as well...). Day one, 10am, doing good so far. Had a baldguybar (Dr. Andrew Weil makes has a company make a banana manna bar which is spectacular) for breakfast because I'm still so full from last night (Pancake Supper at church) and because I still think I smell bacon everywhere, and if you're still hungry after being inundated by bacon for almost 24 hours then you might have a problem.

I'm going to have to hide things, I have figured out, because I will eat them without realizing what I'm eating. Thank goodness there are mashed potatoes because I'd go nuts without some type of comfort food. Oh and the crack dressing (Annie's Naturals Asian Sesame). I'm going to try to eat more salads too and put interesting veggies on them. If you have any suggestions for interesting veggies let me know!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why am I at all surprised anymore.

Most recent text convo with the Hubs:

Hubs: Wats the name of that good choc from switzerland

Kitty: Lindt?

Hubs: I thought it started with a n

Kitty: There are hundreds of chocolates from Switzerland, did you get it somewhere special? (thinking maybe he's trying to remember something he had)

Hubs: Ok maybe its france. The question was who is Hershey biggest competitor in the world!

Kitty: (so he's asking me a trivia question? about chocolate?) Cadbury's I'd say

Hubs: Hershey makes candy for them though i was thinking of that candy you like in the long triangular tube (he can't write out "what" but he can type "long triangular tube?")

Kitty: That's Toblerone and hershey has nothing to do with Cadbury's of England. Hershey just acquired the US side of the business, Cadbury's of England is the biggest confectioner in the world. (Yes, I am a Cadbury's snob, TYVM.)

Hubs: Ok who is their biggest comp in us mars?

Kitty: Could you be thinking of Nestle?

Hubs: I was thinking mars they make mm snickers (you said you were thinking it began with an "N"...)

Kitty: Well then it's Mars. Why are you asking? You thought it started with an n. It's Mars then Nestle acc. to google.

Hubs: work quiz. who is bachman biggest comp in us? Frito lay



...I'm so done.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sausage with peppers, roasted broccoli, maybe something else?

Hey there Kitty, in case you forget what you wanted for dinner:


Roasted Broccoli via TFN:
Cut one large bunch of broccoli into 3-inch spears, toss with 3 smashed cloves garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes and 3 tablespoons sesame oil. Spread the spears on a baking sheet and roast at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Top the spears with a handful of sliced scallions and 2 teaspoons soy sauce.

Ok, so dinner done! I made sausage (just sauteed it with bell peppers) and roasted broccoli from the food network recipe above.




Hubs called the broccoli "Chinese broccoli" so I will probably only make it for me from now on!

Faux Hamburger Helper

This recipe is from Eating Well by way of the Food Network, I'm not sure how I got my hands on it but I decided to make some for my friend who is...busy. Since I had off on Monday, I told her I'd bring lunch.

Hamburger Buddy
EatingWell.com by way of Food Network

Very finely chopping onion, mushrooms and carrots in the food processor is not only fast—it makes the vegetables hard to detect for picky eaters. They also form the base for the sauce of this ground beef skillet supper. Make it a meal: Serve with a green salad.

Makes 6 servings, about 1 1/3 cups each

ACTIVE TIME: 40 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy

3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces (I used 3 carrots)
10 ounces white mushrooms, large ones cut in half (I used 3 lg)
1 large onion, cut into 2-inch pieces (I used half, can you tell I am a fan of some veggies and not others?)
1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups water
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium beef broth, divided
8 ounces whole-wheat elbow noodles (2 cups) (I used Chiocciole in keeping with my pasta quest)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or chives for garnish

1. Fit a food processor with the steel blade attachment. With the motor running, drop garlic through the feed tube and process until minced, then add carrots and mushrooms and process until finely chopped. Turn it off, add onion, and pulse until roughly chopped.
2. Cook beef in a large straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped vegetables, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften and the mushrooms release their juices, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Stir in water, 1 1/2 cups broth, noodles and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Whisk flour with the remaining 1/4 cup broth in a small bowl until smooth; stir into the hamburger mixture. Stir in the sour cream. Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley (or chives), if desired.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 326 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 3 g mono); 54 mg cholesterol; 38 g carbohydrate; 23 g protein; 4 g fiber; 431 mg sodium; 644 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (70% daily value), Zinc (33% dv), Iron (20% dv), Potassium (18% dv).
2 1/2 Carbohydrate Servings
Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 medium-fat meats


Verdict:

3 Teapots because it was good, but I didn't have enough time to make it good! (I added too much thyme, didn't let it cook as long as I should have for the type of pasta I used)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cupcakes...it's what's for dinner.

I stayed home with a migraine tonight, so decided I needed to make some more cupcakes to use up the rest of the buttercream from Monday's day-off-cupcakes, and to get my mind off of...well, my mind.

I ended up making a half recipe of banana cupcakes from my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook to go with the leftover icing. So, in order to catch up, here are my recipes for the chocolate cupcakes, buttercream icing, and banana cupcakes. Yum!

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes, MSL ---> recipe here

Basic Buttercream, MSL
this one is from the Living magazine, but I couldn't find it on the website.
(makes about 4 cups)
12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted (I totally do not do this, oops)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. (or if you have That 70's Mixer like me, pick a speed based on how much c sugar you will keep in the bowl)
Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes (after every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high).
Add vanilla, and beat until buttercream is smooth. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days (bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using). I also have some of this in my freezer, I haven't thawed it yet but I'm sure it will be fine with the above directions also.

Banana Cupcakes
(formerly Applesauce Cake turned into Banana Cake turned into Banana Cupcakes)
This is the original recipe from The Betty Crocker Cookbook which I adapted - I halved it and used half whole-wheat flour.

2 1/2 c AP Flour (I used half ww flour)
1 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce ~put the bananas here
1 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c butter or stick margarine, softened
1/2 c water ~put the buttermilk here
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice ~omit
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder (I forgot to increase this and they turned out great!)
2 lg eggs
1 c raisins ~omit
2/3 c chopped nuts ~omit if you like
rec. icing is Browned Butter Buttercream Frosting from the BC cookbook.
Banana Cake adaptation: Sub 1 1/2 c mashed ripe bananas (3 med) for applesauce and buttermilk for the water. Omit pumpkin pie spice and raisins. Increase baking powder to 1 tsp.

1. Heat oven to 350. Grease cupcake pan or put liners in the pan (the recipe lists 12 to 16 servings, I halved and made 9 cupcakes).
2. Beat all ingredients in large bowl with mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally (stir in raisins and nuts at this point if used). Pour into pan/liners.
3. Bake rectangular pan 45 to 50 minutes, rounds 40 to 45 minutes, cupcakes about 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool rectangle in pan on wire rack. Cool rounds 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
4. Frost.

Eat.


Verdict: Banana Cupcakes,

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bday/Vday Dinner: Ruth's Chris Steak House

So for my birthday/Valentine's Day (early cause the hubs has school on VDay) we went to Ruth's Chris Steak House. It's a weird name, but made sense once I looked it up.

Of course, it was a surprise, so I hadn't any idea where we were headed. Which is just how I like it.

Ohhhh goodness was it good. When we first got there, hubs said it looked like a Denny's, which was kind of true - it is deceiving from the outside. But once you get inside, it's all upscale steak house (upscale meaning $$$$).

We started out with wine, him picking the Chianti as usual, which prompted a Hannibal impersonation from me (not in front of the server, don't worry) and a Riejo for me. Next, the Veal Osso Buco (don't yell at me! I only ate it because I've never had it before! I'm sorry baby cows!):


Next we had the Caesar salad, which was great, since I don't usually have that. It's nice to have an old standby once in a while. I should note, all of the sides are served family-style with one serving two people. So it worked out nicely.

For entrees, we picked petite fillet, hubs deciding on the lobster tail with his:


We also got the broccoli and mashed garlic potatoes, which were fantastic. Hubs said they were the best potatoes he'd ever had. I said that's because the Buttertons made them.

The steaks are served on 500ยบ plates, which keep the steaks nice and sizzling. I ordered mine medium-rare, because I was hovering in between donenesses (I know it's not a word), and the server said that if it was too rare, we could just slice it and lay it on the plate, and it would continue to cook. This was too much for us, it was like putting kids at a sand table. Science day at a fancy restaurant! But it really did work.
Oh, the Buttertons got a hold of the steaks too - all steaks are served in butter unless you ask for them without it. So I dipped my broccoli in the butter. Not going to let that go to waste.

On to the most memorable part - dessert (natch). I ordered the Caramelized Banana Cream Pie (swoon), and had it delivered with a little candle. No singing, no made-up Birthday jingle, just a fantastic dessert. Perfect.


Ooooh it was fantastic. Two thumbs up. But it's a once-a-year thing, as it broke the bank.

Oh and also way too tempting, as this was next door:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Birthday Cupcakes!

they're LEGENDARY. in the words of neilpatrickharris.

Ok, so I wanted to make cupcakes for my bday. I was aiming for the ones on the MSL cover, which were iced using gel colors and all I have are the regular colors. So they didn't turn out incredible but for my first cupcakes I think they were satisfactory.

Recipes to come, I used the MSL one for One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes and the Buttercream frosting (in the last catalog) and I used my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook's recipe for the vanilla ones - Starlight Yellow Cake, I believe it was called? I wanted to do the Silver White Cake but didn't have something that the recipe called for...can't remember what though!

Cupcakes:



For the frosting, I doubled the recipe, and used That 70's Mixer (as posted yesterday on WC, I don't usually use a mixer, and only used it for the frosting in this case) which is ancient and small and gave off this funny almost-burning smell when I turned it to 9 (it has numbered speeds, not medium, high, etc.). But I powered through, getting butter and powdered sugar all over my kitchen - but it was worth it.

Meet the frosting:


I didn't have any bags so I used a ziploc freezer bag with the tip cut off - that's why the frosting is so weird-shaped. Next time: bag with tips. I'll branch out to decorative frosting.

My coworkers are somewhat scared this morning by the multi-colored cupcakes, but oh well - they taste damn good.




PS - that frosting, it is superb. SUPERB. Thus filed in Proof of Domestic Awesomeness.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Grandma's Lasagna

After the hubs raved about her lasagna, I had to get the recipe. She told me (over the phone) that it is Mrs. Anderson's recipe, whatever that means - no offense Mrs. A but I'm not sure if you're a person or a magazine or what!

It's so good, but a single recipe of this won't fit in your usual 9x13 pan, so you may want to do something smaller. I didn't cook the noodles, so I added a cup of water. If doubling, add two cups if you don't cook the noodles.

Grandma's Lasagna

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef (or whatever meat you have on hand - she said something about bison because Grandpa is a hunter)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 6oz can mushrooms
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 3/4 cups tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
6oz pack lasagna noodles (I had to weigh mine and ended up using about 9, but if you like just cook them and see how many fit!)
1 cup each mild cheddar, swiss, and mozzarella

Directions
cook lasagna noodles per directions on box. brown the beef and onions in saute pan on stove. add ingredients through parsley and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. add a layer of sauce to your cooking dish first, then noodles, sauce again, then cheese. continue layers until all ingredients are used. bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. if you like, broil at the end so the cheese bubbles, browns, and crisps.

For however much speculation is involved in this recipe, it's really wonderful. You can make it your own by how much you make, layer, or adjust. It's a favorite with my husband now.

Pasta e Fagioli, Smoky Cheese Fries

Did I post the pasta e fagioli before? OH well, here it is again! This is my go-to soup recipe and almost the whole family loves it. I made it for the "big b-day bash" we had on Saturday for myself, my brother, my other brother (Darryl), and my grandmother. We don't all share a birthday but it's easiest to get us all together on one weekend. Except for when my brother's boss calls him in because his replacement called off. *not cool, employer*
So I made a double batch, which is not a 30-minute meal, and my mom got impatient, but it all worked out anyway. I can take a pic of the leftovers, because I didn't get any of the food that day, or I could just appease you with pictures of the cakes (yes cakes)...later, my friends. My camera card does not accompany me to work, alas.

Pasta E Fagioli
courtesy Rachel Ray

Ingredients

* 2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/8 pound (about 3 slices) pancetta, chopped
* 2 (4 to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
* 1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact
* 1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
* 1 medium onion, finely chopped
* 1 small carrot, finely chopped
* 1 rib celery, finely chopped
* 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
* Coarse salt and pepper
* 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans
* 1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
* 2 cups water
* 1 quart chicken stock
* 1 1/2 cups ditalini
* Grated Parmigiano or Romano, for the table
* Crusty bread, for mopping

NOTES: I find that the rosemary leaves fall off the more you stir. Just an FYI. I used tomato sauce, and I omit the celery because most of the fam are not fans.

Directions

Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta. Brown the pancetta bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high. Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta. Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks. Remove herb stems and bay leaf from soup and place pot on table on a trivet. Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese. Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.


For my next trick... we had a small football-related get-together on Sunday to watch a little game, you may have heard of it, superbowl. There were hot dogs, sauerkraut, quesedillas, Belly Busters (giant subs from a local place), the hubs' buff chicken dip, and of course because we didn't have enough of it, cheese fries. I found this because I was looking for recipes using tomato paste as someone on WC had some left over. It involved chiles in adobo, and while I've always read about them, I have never used them... well now I have some left over so I have an excuse to make more smoky chile recipes!
These were ok, mostly because I don't think I used enough cheese. I doubled the recipe which may be the culprit - so folks, just use the recipe. But everyone liked it, and next time I will actually put the sauce on the fries and be able to serve that way instead of taking it with me to another house! mmm...cheese...


Smoky Cheese Fries
also from Rachel Ray

Ingredients

* 1 large package frozen waffle cut fries
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* 2 cups milk
* 2 cups grated Cheddar
* 2 chipotles in adobo, chopped, plus 2 spoonfuls sauce
* Salt

Directions

Bake waffle fries to package directions. Heat butter in a small pot over medium heat and whisk in flour. Cook the flour a minute then add the tomato paste. Cook paste a minute then whisk in milk. When sauce bubbles, stir the cheese and chipotles into it. Season the sauce with salt, to taste.

Remove fries from oven when crisp and golden brown. Spoon the thick cheese sauce over waffle fries and serve.