Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fast and easy Empanadas

ghetto empanads ready to eat

Everything is still frozen! I looked in my refrigerator and found only ground beef ready for usage. Sheesh, what to make that isn't meatloaf, meat sauce, or something that hasn't been created a few times already this year. So looking at everything in the fridge, I decided to try empanadas. I haven't made them in years, literally. The problem is that I don't have the dough made, and I don't want to fry. So I went the lazy route and used ready made pie crust. (recipe after the break)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Some of my earliest memories involve watching my Mom make dinner.  Growing up, no matter the occasion, the whole family always ended up hanging out in the kitchen chatting, laughing, playing, picking on each other and snitching bits from the cook pot.  The scents of Mom's recipes are inextricably linked to the feelings of being surrounded by those I love.  After a wonderful week of seeing two of my three siblings and both parents, I was really missing the only sibling I hadn't seen (and won't for awhile since she lives abroad)--my sister.  That rather missing, whimsical, family-oriented mood inspired me to make an old family favorite and Mom specialty--stuffed peppers.
(Recipe after the break)

Autumn Stuffed Pork Loin

This is one of my very own recipes.  Oh, I'm guessing there are plenty of recipes out there that are similar, but this one was born out of an especially nostalgic afternoon's shopping.  You see, I was raised in Upstate NY in the Hudson Valley where Autumn was my favorite season.  By mid-October everything turns a thousand shades of red and gold with amazingly crisp mornings that smell like a combination of apple cider and that utterly undefinable but unmistakable aroma of fallen leaves that is more like touch than scent. Being in the foothills of the mountains during that season is one of the most glorious experiences you could imagine.

West Bank of the Hudson River (Image courtesy The Poughkeepsie Journal)

However, when I moved south I discovered that there really isn't a such thing as Autumn.  We go pretty much from summer to winter with a brief two or three weeks where everything turns brown and drops.  And it rains. A lot. Blech.

So here I was one rainy afternoon in October being incredibly homesick for a season while grocery shopping and had the inspiration to make something decidedly "fall-like" so I grabbed cranberries, apples, and cider and went from there.  If I couldn't have golden trees and smoky leaf-scented air then I would taste it.  (Recipe after the break)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Things You Don't Do: Explosion Avoided

With my work day, sometimes I can step away from my desk and get dinner started in the early afternoon and others...well, let's say I'm scrambling at 5 or 5:30 trying to get something on the table before BabyBella is hollering that she's starving: now.  Problem is, I rarely have any sorts of heads-up and know when work is going to be crazy so between that and BabyBella's weird food habits (this week she suddenly hates PB&J after asking for it daily for lunch for the past six months...really child?) any sort of pre-planning of meals is out the window. This entire week has been like that--running like the idiomatic chicken at dinnertime.
Side note and warning: cooking is an art form. And like any art, there are proper tools, techniques, and rulesets that should be followed as you exercise your creativity.  Have I mentioned I'm not so good at following rules?
So BabyBella has been asking for roast chicken all week and here I am last night, standing in the middle of my kitchen at 5:45 pm staring dejectedly at my still-mostly-frozen cornish hen.  I had taken it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge overnight, then it sat on the counter all afternoon, but the stupid thing was barely thawed.  I dropped it in a cold water bath to hasten the process and turned to the internet to find a solution (yeah...at this point I should've just ordered a pizza or made something else, but I was on a mission dangit).  Bingo!  I find three recipes (here, here, and here) for deep-friend cornish hen which only takes twelve minutes!   More after the break...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pizza!

pepperoni, sausage, shallots, olives, mushrooms
My son had a friend over for a sleepover. This friend is a vegetarian, and well my kid is definitely a meat eater. I told him I was getting him a shirt that said, "Powered by Bacon" He's all for it. Most kids have a love of pizza. Well unless you are a teenager working at a pizza parlor, and see it daily. I was that teen. I worked at a Round Table Pizza when I was 16. What skill did I take away from that after school job? I can still weigh a pound of cheese in my hand. Of course I'm going to make pizzas from scratch!  More after the break.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monkey Balls!

As usual I check my favorite food blogs and one of my favorite bloggers never fails to deliver. Deb from smittenkitchen.com has a recipe called Monkeybread.  One of the reasons I'm following her also is that she has an adorable little baby boy, and she posts photos of the darling. Another reason why I follow Deb, my wonderful sister in law loves her recipes too and has a darling baby girl, who's just a few months younger. Plus they live in the same city! lol

Now, I don't have a sweet little boy. When the finished product was placed in front of him, and told what the dessert was called, he decided that the name didn't fit, but "Monkey Balls" did. So we will now refer to them as such.  (More after the break)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Busy snow day! Two recipes accomplished in one day

Last week the Eastern Seaboard was inundated with snow. What was it called? Snowmageddon. WTH? Yea, well some nut decided to call the snow system that hit the deep south, Snowplosion. Another WTH? Atlanta doesn't get high volumes of snow. More like 4 inches the whole winter, not in one day. We get wintry mix, which is really just icy rain. So in preparation of the snow fall, I planned on two recipes. Chicken soup and snow cream. Yea, I had to make snow cream when I found out I would actually have a decent amount of snow.
(More after the break)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Cookies

Recently, I got this wild notion that I will learn how to bake and to decorate.  I don't mean just throw some icing or sprinkles on something, I mean fancy-schmancy, wow-gee-whiz that's so cool kind of decorating.  I guess this is what happens when you watch too many episodes of Ace of Cakes.  Problem is, I've never really tackled anything more difficult than drop cookies and the annual birthday cake for BabyBella.  Thus, when I was asked by my daughter's teacher to bring in something sweet for their Valentine's Day party I decided that this was the perfect time to learn how to use fondant. Seriously, even if I royally mess up, a bunch of kindergardeners won't mind.  Talk about low-pressure.

So, off I go to the local craft store where I grabbed a bunch of stuff I thought I'd need and merrily went home, excited to tackle this.  Yeah...maybe I should do some research first.  Seems I forgot the right extracts, rollers, cutters, etc.  Ah well, so I made due.  Here's the result after the break:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Cream

Jo is much better than I on keeping up on various food blogs.  So, when she heard about the vicious snow storms we have been getting Jo, being an awesome friend, sent me a recipe for Snow Cream.
Out of curiosity, I Googled for other versions and found a ton!  I found that a lot of the recipes use either evaporated milk, such as Paula Deen's version or beaten egg.  Although according to the American Egg Board (really, there is one) the chances of getting salmonella from raw eggs is very low, as this was a project for my 6 year-old daughter BabyBella and 5 year-old niece, I went with the simplest milk version. Recipe after the break.






Chicken Casserole

For the last week we've been getting totally pounded by snowstorms.  Two blizzards!  Growing up in upstate NY we were much more prepared for getting buried.  We had snowsuits and thermal underwear (not exactly fashionable, but when it's -20 degrees F, you need it), firewood stocked, snowblowers and BIG plows.  Here in the mid-Atlantic, they close schools for an inch of white stuff and since I've lived here, usually they see about 4 inches of snow in total over the course of the entire winter.  This is what my town looks like today:
So, to say the least, getting over three feet of snow in the last few days has completely shut down the area.  BabyBella hasn't been to school since last week and a State of Emergency has been declared twice.  Thankfully, we still have power and the kitchen is well-stocked.  Yet, after a week of this we're both getting a little stir crazy and had to get out to stretch our legs during a lull in the storms.
Since its ridiculously cold outside, to help keep the house warm (have I mentioned that my house is over 100 years old and doesn't have insulation?) I've been doing a lot of comfort-food cooking that involves either long simmer times or baking.  One of my favorite comfort foods is an adaptation of a chicken casserole recipe that a friend brought me as a welcome home gift after having BabyBella. Recipe after the break...

Friday, February 05, 2010

Ruhlman's Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

I'm at a loss for dinner ideas. Instead, I spent my afternoon making Buttermilk dinner rolls.

Rulhman's recipe is here.

So the family will have chicken soup for dinner at least the rolls will go in hand.

His recipe and my results after the break.