Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Slacker? Yes, But Not in the Way You Think...

It isn't that I have been lazy about posting... It is that I have been lazy about COOKING. Partly, this is due to the fact that we purchased a Honeybaked Ham on President's Day, and ate it in some form or another for about 3 dinners.

Monday night (President's Day), we had Honeybaked ham, roasted vegetables and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. My mom started roasting the vegetables this way a year or two ago, and MAN are they good! On that particular day, I made carrots and broccoli.

Roasted Vegetables
Fresh Vegetables
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place vegetables on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle sparingly with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (I always use freshly milled/grated/ground... whatever it is you do when you start out with chunks and turn the thingy so flakes of salt and pepper come out on your food...) Bake vegetables about 20 minutes, or until cooked to desired texture. It takes about 20 minutes for broccoli. Carrots and other dense veggies take a bit longer. I put the carrots in for 8 minutes, then pulled them out and added the broccoli, and cooked for an additional 20 minutes.

In addition to roasted vegetables, we also had roasted garlic mashed potatoes. The link to the recipe is to the left. Here is a photo of the entire meal.
For Brad's lesson this week, I made Cheesecake filled Red Velvet Cupcakes. They were AMAZING! For whatever reason, the pictures do not do them justice, but they were
Cheesecake Filled Cupcakes
1 cake mix, prepared per the
package directions
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins (24 muffins)
with cupcake liners.
Prepare cake mix per the package directions. (I used red velvet cake this time, which was amazingly good. I would definitely recommend red velvet or some form of chocolate as the best options, because they will not get overpowered by the cream cheese filling. )
In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour about 1/3 cup batter into each cupcake liner. Add or subtract a bit if you run out or end up with too much. Drop 2 tablespoons cream cheese mixture into the center of the cake batter. Again, add or subtract a bit if you run out or end up with too much.
Bake cupcakes per the cake mix package directions for cupcakes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before icing.
Cream Cheese Icing (Yet another recipe that won't make any sense to you if you don't already have a clue about what I am describing... You can always depend on me for that!)
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
4-6 cups powdered sugar
In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine cream cheese and butter. Add 4 cups powdered sugar, and stir until well combined. Add more powdered sugar if necessary, until icing is the desired consistency and sweetness.
Spread a generous amount of icing on each cup cake.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Boys!

Okay, so my dog looks a little possessed in this photo, but really, he is a very sweet, loving puppy.

Grilled Cheese... It's What's For Dinner...

This post could also aptly be titled... Motivation... It's What I Lack...

Brad and I went out of town this past weekend, and as a result, I didn't cook much the previous week. Other than sheer laziness and a lack of motivation, I have no excuse for this week.
Monday, we arrived in sunny St. Louis around 3 pm from our adventures in Pennsylvania.
Because we could, we drove further into the city (away from our home beyond where the sidewalk ends) to eat at my favorite restaurant, Pho Grand. I had my usual, #2303, tofu with coconut curry. Yum!

Tuesday was a busy, busy day for us. I taught all day, then Brad had his flight lesson, then we worked the Speech Meet for one of my colleagues. We didn't get finished until 8-ish, so we went to Ruby Tuesday for supper. I am so used to using our coupons that I feel like if we are spending $40 for dinner, it should be way better than Ruby Tuesday. I had some butterflied, fried shrimp and the salad bar, and Brad had some sort of seafood experience and the salad bar. It was okay (though I'll admit better than what I made for supper tonight).
Wednesday, I made... um... grilled cheese? I had to work the concession stand for NHS, and then I went to the grocery store afterwards. When I got home, I prepared myself a delicious grilled cheese.

Thursday, I made... um... grilled cheese? I planned on leaving work early on Thursday, (meaning before 5) but in the end, I stayed a lot later. I am pretty sure I had grilled cheese. Did I make anything for Brad? Signs point to no.

Friday night, I made Summer Squash Enchiladas (picture above... recipe link to the left...). Normally, I use mushrooms and zucchini and yellow squash, but I only had zucchini, so that is all that was in them. They were pretty good, but the flavor lacked the complexity they sometimes have. On the other hand, the lack of mushrooms made the vegetable mixture firmer, so that was good.

On Thursday, I pirated a recipe from a friend...

Cookie Dough Cupcakes
1 box cake mix (I used yellow)
1/2 recipe cookie dough (I made chocolate chip)
1 tub icing (I used chocolate fudge)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls and freeze until firm.

Prepare cake mix using package directions.

Line 24 muffin tins with liners. Fill half full with cake mix. Push a cookie ball into the center of each cupcake.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes. Frost cupcakes.

The true joy of this recipe, other than its ease, is that it is very versatile. You can use pretty much any flavor cake mix, many different types of cookie, and any flavor of icing. They were really good.

I got the deep frier out on Monday to make crab rangoon (recipe to the left!) Because it is such a pain, I usually go fry crazy for about a week every time I get the frier out, then scrub it and put it away, where it gets ignored for about 6 months until I get it out again. Last night we had the last of the crab rangoon, some frozen breaded shrimp I bought, and some premade hush puppies I bought. (I worked hard on our Valentine's Day meal!)

This evening, I made buffalo chicken fingers. They were mediocre. I think they needed to be battered, and the frozen, and then fried. The first batch, I laid the chicken pieces onto the little basket and the batter dripped through and then cooked, so the chicken pieces had to be surgically removed from the fry basket. The remaining rounds, I just lightly dropped them into the oil, with the basket already lowered. That helped, but not much. They tasted okay, but there are quite a few leftovers, and sadly I think we are going to feed them to the Lincoln County garbage dump. Fried food isn't good the next day. For supper, we also had some frozen sweet potato fries (from the freezer... from Trader Joes... baked!), and mixed vegetables.

Buffalo Chicken Fingers
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut longways into 4 strips each
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups light beer
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup flour

1 bottle wing sauce (I used Sybergs... a local favorite)

Heat oil in frier to 375 F. Mix flour, salt and paprika together. Whisk beer into the mixture until well incorporated. Dredge chicken pieces through flour, and then coat with batter. Gently lay battered chicken in the hot oil. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip over. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Toss in buffalo sauce before serving.