Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brown Butter Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know if it has "bacon" in the title, I'm gonna make it.
The other thing this recipe has going for it is that the gal who
developed it started out with a Cook's Illustrated recipe
and went from there. 
America's Test Kitchen/ Cook's Illustrated
can do no wrong in my book.

These are really good. 
The edges are crispy and the middles are soft and gooey.
Kristina says in her blog that browned butter is the new trend.
I love it when I participate in a trend without knowing it.
She also says putting bacon in everything is a new trend.
Whatever, it's just been my world for, hmm, however long it would
take to make it lose it's "trend" designation. 

That being said, I think I have finally found something that bacon
does NOT enhance the flavor of!
Did you feel the earth fall off it's axis a bit?

These cookies are really good, way more work than Toll House
but also a totally different animal.
I say, try them, but really, you can leave 
out the bacon.
Save your bacon for cupcakes.

Friday, February 25, 2011

At The Risk Of Going All Pornographic..

 Did you have any idea?
Kristina told me about this today.
I love that there are all these inventive ways to get your kids to eat....


Pretty sure they're down with them.
Now impress me with a way to get a grown man to eat

Not A Fan

This one's for you, Steve.
He likes it when I do restaurant reviews.
We hit Tom and Eddie's tonight.
Won't be hitting it again :o(
The food was fine, really good burgers, mediocre sweet potato fries.
Ambiance, ZERO!
For an eight dollar burger I would not like to feel as if
I was in a circus. The chaos was over the top
and the table placement was such that the couple sitting 
across from us was so in our business
Mike wondered if they were "swingers"
 looking for some action.
No Thanks!
There are plenty of local establishments in our downtowns
with great burgers that I won't feel the need to 
deprive them of my dining out dollars. 

Cause I'm that sure that Mike and I could make or break you. 

And, This For Your Consideration

I don't get it.
If any of you can figure out what it is besides
a time suck, let me know. 
I'm not ready to totally discount it.
We all had our doubts about Facebook and we know where that went!

I will allow as how perusing the site turned me on to this:
Check out some of the parties.
I have a baby shower to plan, 
Miss Glory may be a great resource.

But still, Pinterest, 'splain it to me....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Aimlessly Cruising The Internet Will Get You

For the love of everything good in this world,

The possibilities have got to be endless!
I just don't know what they are!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mediterranean Beef and Pasta

I'm always on the look out for something different to
make in the Crock-Pot and today I hit upon this on 
the official Crock-Pot Facebook page.
Yep, they have one.
It's pretty straight forward and turned out good. 
I think next time I would:
add some italian sausage,
sprinkle some toasted pine nuts on top,
and use twice as many olives, maybe even throw in some green ones.
Oh, and the sauce is pretty thick so I felt the farfalle was a better
pairing than the fettuccine they called for.
Gotta love those canned green beans. 
But I had issues.

Wednesday nights are pretty rushed around here. 
Mike has to leave for church at 5:45 and I work till 5 so
something that cooks while I'm gone is the best bet.
And this would have been great had I been able to work today :o(
I went shopping this morning.
I spent $160.00.
(don't even ask why I have a picture of my haul)
Once I got done photo-documenting said purchase I opened
the fridge to load it up and noticed the yogurt I picked up to move
didn't feel cold.
At all. 

A call to my regular repair guy got me an appointment on Monday. 
I don't think so! They did give me a referral who upon calling told
me they could be here between 3 and 5.
Can I tell you, I don't work much but when I do, it's from 3 to 5. 
Best laid plans.

But, whatever, there are blessings all around.
I didn't have to wait till Monday.
I live in Illinois.
It's February.
My entire garage is one big refrigerator.
It went out before I loaded it with $160 worth of groceries.
The repair was less than the cost of a new fridge.
All the shelves are clean.
There is no "old" food lurking about.
I was able to write a check.
Worst part, we had to eat canned beans.
Hey! I had issues. 

How was your day?

Just Call Me Chip

Does this happen to anyone else?
I know it's kind of hard to see but each one of these
beautiful, colorful pieces has a practically
identical chip taken out of it.
The red bowl I actually touched up with some paint.
There are more casualties around here, 
these are just  the ones that were handy. 
It happens in the sink. 
I think it's a rinsing issue.
Passing it from one side to the other.
I have one of those old enamel(?) sinks.
It's evil.
It's wrecking pieces of art.
A serving piece knows it has become part 
of the family once it looses part of itself. 
I think I can hang some dead wine glasses on it. 
Some day I will have a new sink.
There is nothing to be done about it till then. 
I just wanted to share. 
Oh, and give this baby it's beauty shot.
You know it's days are numbered.....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Leftover Lalapolooza!

I made dinner last weekend that involved
a "stew" of chuck roast that I slow
cooked in a Cincinnati sort of sauce, shredded, and the served
in hollowed out baked potatoes.
I roasted off a bunch of vegetables,
butternut squash,
sweet potatoes,
and cauliflower.
And served them on a platter on the side. My thinking that you then 
"construct" your own stew at the table.
It was pretty good and kind of fun.
Sorry, no pics. 
I blame Shanna.
Thing is, I was left with the insides of the aforementioned
potato boats and quite a few roasted veges. 
Note to self, 
when given the choice all people revert back to
12 year olds and won't pile on the veges quite like they should.
So, here you have my solutions:
Ken and Lory turned me on to this little nugget,
mashed potatoes with Boursin cheese.
The fish and broccoli are just excuses to eat the potatoes.
And all those roasted vegetables?
Um, helllooooo?, I've been so into making soup these
days I'm not sure why it didn't come to me sooner.
I just heated some vegetable broth with the leftover vegetables
added some garlic, red pepper flakes (I know, Big)
and some fresh nutmeg.
 Gave it a good turn in the Vitamixer and

PS, it's fun to mess with Shanna in these.
Lets me know when she's paying attention :o)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Are These So Old That They Are Cool Again?

I've had these babies for over 30 years.
I have never used (on a regular basis) any other kind of cookware.
It's what my mom had and so when I got my first
apartment it's what I got.
Revere Ware.
I have never had to replace a piece.
Those ads that talk about "even heating"?
I have no idea what they are talking about.
A pan can heat "uneven"?
These are very much taken for granted here and
I didn't even know it.
Now then, this is what has caught my eye.
I kind of covet an All-Clad sauce pan.
It just looks sexy to me.
I love the lines of it.
It even looks like there is a halo around it.

But it would appear that I am in love with a fantasy.
Michelle has a set of these and demonstrated to me that
once you have one of these babies filled with
water and pasta, you need a guy to lift it from the
sink to the stove and visa versa.
And you know that with that kind of weight it's
just a matter of time before a handle breaks off.
All my Revere Ware have their original handles.

I must rededicate myself to my Revere Ware.
It has been faithful and true.
Don't be taken in by shiny.
All that glitters is not gold.

All-Clad does make a butter warmer....
How heavy can butter be?....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good Things DO Come In Small Packages

Oh dear.
You don't even have to take the time to get the wrappers off.

They are my new obsession.

That is all. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sticky Rice

Some things you are just better off not knowing.
I don't know if I am the only person on the face of the earth 
with this particular habit,
but my favorite part of take-out Chinese food is the white rice. 
About an hour or so after the dinner.

You know, that stuff that when you dump the container upside down,
 you get a perfect little pyramid-esque clump of white.

I rifle around in the fridge 
(once dinner has worn off, and you know it does)
 and rescue that lone little container of rice.
I dump it out and drizzle it with the 
contents of one of those little packets of sweet and sour sauce,
that, by the way, I am sure will survive a nuclear blast,
like the cockroaches.
But I digress.

Well, here's the part I'm pretty sure I would be better off 
NOT knowing:
You can totally make it at home!
I don't think the brand is vital.
I think this it the important part of this package:
Think about it, Sushi Rice has GOT to be sticky!

I made this last night with our stir fry and I was in 
sticky rice heaven. 

I even had some of these:
for later......

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Brioche 101

Alternatively, Brioche For Dummies.
Lynne and I have a tradition of getting together to
"create" something in the kitchen at Christmas 
as opposed to exchanging gifts.
We were a little late this year. 
We made pepper jelly last year, canning, a first for both of us.
The year before we made apple cider donuts.
This year it was 
Maple-Glazed-Bacon-Encrusted Brioche Donuts.
It was a brian child born of some 
Food Network show.
 We tossed the holes in cinnamon sugar.
Yum, right?
They were and we had a regular party here.

The thing is, the dough is pretty labor and time intensive.
Lynne and I actually had to start the process Friday night,
throw out our first attempt,
 and then drink an entire bottle of wine while we waited 
for all the kneading and all the rising that had to happen
just to get the dough to the point where it could rest overnight!

Here is what we learned;
when the recipe says
 "sprinkle the flour on top and let it sit for 1/2 hour",
that really means, 
let the flour sit on top of the 
spongy mess you have made for half an hour, 
NOT mix it into the spongy mess.
And the flour does indeed "crack".
The dough looks very scary throughout the process.
Just go with it.
Kind of, close your eyes and have faith.
This is the sad mess that goes into the fridge for the night;
But this is what it looks like in the morning:
Pretty, huh?
Even the bowl transformed!

This was my first experience with fresh yeast. 
Just ask someone where it is, you'll never find it on your own.
And one of these is amazing:
It made a huge difference.
Thanks, Debbie!

The other huge difference was having friends here to 
help eat all the donuts.
Thanks, Lory and Ken!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Life Lesson Number 264

In cases of divorce:
make friends with the Ex's new spouse.

I didn't set out to make a new friend 
but my ex married someone who may be one of the
sweetest women on the planet.
God smiled on all of us the day Peter 
 asked Sheri to marry him.
The way I see it, obviously you have issues with your ex,
they are your "ex" after all, so why not establish
a relationship with the person who doesn't have 
all that messy history with you?
Sheri made it easy and she loves my baby girl.
What more could a mother ask for?
My favorite story is about the time Shanna's sorority 
had a parent's weekend and Sheri and I went down together. 
The looks we got were priceless!

Shanna has four parents who love her no end, 
we each bring something different to the table. 
That has got to be a good thing.

But like I said, I didn't set out to make a new friend.
Hmm, maybe life lesson #265 should be, 
Make friends with the mother of your husband's children. 
Can you say Kumbaya? 

Thank you, Sheri.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Goodwill Industries

I am a fan.
I see it as a garage sale whenever I feel like it.
There have been two times when I have woken up and 
had a very specific idea of an item I needed, 
gone into Goodwill and found the perfect thing!

This was number one:
Really, a round mirror.
I wanted it for over the piano.
It needed a little something.
It was the 80's.
At some point I will let go.
Just not yet.

Number two:
I wanted a piece of furniture for the dining room that I could
store table cloths, napkins, place-mats
and large serving pieces in.
It was perfect except for the finish.
It was all dark wood including the top.
A little paint (oil base on furniture) and a little faux marble 
paint treatment and wa-la!
Oh, and new pulls and knobs that actually cost more that the piece itself.

Now I am on the hunt for a random piece of furniture,
I think it is living it's life as a small dresser at the moment,
that I want to turn into a television stand.
I want to pay $20 for it. 
It's out there. 
It's just playing hard to get.
I've been to Goodwill a few times waiting for it to show up.

In the mean time I have seen a way cool coffee table
and a way cool mirror (on different trips in).
Neither of which did I buy.
Both of which I went back for.
Both of which were sold.

Lesson learned; if you find yourself in Goodwill
and you are intrigued by an item, 
You can always donate it back.
It's a good cause.
They sign Shanna's paycheck. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Can you make Stew Without Stew Meat?

You can if you use ground beef and call it soup!
I had a Crock Pot.
I had 2 pounds of ground beef.
I had an uncontrollable need to combine the two.
So I did and I got this:
Here's the original recipe:
I have made as written and we really liked it.
I just thought , why couldn't I brown off some ground beef
and do basically the same thing?
The answer is, I can!

Here are the changes I made:
I used a sweet potato and half and acorn squash.
Just because I had them, kinda like I "had" the ground beef.
I browned the beef with the onions and then 
added the spices, garlic and ginger to "bloom" them.
I threw everything in the Crock Pot.
Just because that was part of my basic premise.
Low for 5-6 hours.
I made an Israeli couscous/pasta blend from Trader Joe's
and put a bed of that in a bowl and spooned the stew/soup
on top and then topped that with some sliced almonds. 
(I'm not gonna go all "Rachel Ray" and call it a 
"stoop", but that is kind of descriptive of what you get)

Oh, and a little PSA for you,
Whereas that big ol' 6 quart Crock Pot will 
serve you well when making a huge batch
of America's Test Kitchen's Sunday Gravy,
it will over cook the dickens out of a nice little
stew for the two of you. 
Make room in your cupboards. 
It's worth it.
You gotta have two.
Hmm, nice to see I have product loyalty :o)

Sometimes You Gotta Get On The Floor

This is one of my favorite pieces at The Art Institute.
It's pretty cool just like this.
It was created by female, American Artist, Lee Bontecou.
It's made from welded steel, wire and salvaged fabric.
Gotta love a gal who wields a welder.
Some of the pieces of canvas came from a conveyor belt. 
Like I said, it is pretty cool, standing in front of it
like all the rest of the people around you.
 But get on the floor and look up you get this!

You also get some weird looks but I didn't photo document those.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Just Relishing Relish

I have more fun "stumbling upon" 
places on the internet.
There is actually something
called Stumble that I believe is a search engine
that will take you to blog sites it feels you may enjoy(?).
I haven't tried it out yet cause I'm having too much fun on my own.

So here's one for you, 
I actually connected with it over Facebook.
It's Relish Magazine.
They have an actual magazine supplement that is included in 
local newspapers like the first weekend of the month.
My mom sent me one of their articles called
"The Pantry Project".
In the article they suggested all sorts of meals you can 
construct with pantry items you may have on hand.

They noted at the end of the article that
they had a Facebook page, so I went there.
I have been having fun with them ever since.
They post a question most days and
 people respond through out the day.
And what's even better is the people at Relish respond!

A couple of weeks ago they challenged people to send in a
 picture of their refrigerator contents and they would 
suggest meals from them.
My fridge was kind of boring so instead I sent them this:
This was the result of my Meijer run for the day.
I challenged them to come up with a days worth of 
meals from it. I pointed out that I did include the 
"gas defense" as a public service. 
Stacy did it!
She came up with an entire day of meals along with snacks.
It was really fun.
 One of the suggestions was a Beet Tartar.
Carol is totally grossed out but I thought it sounded kind of good.
I haven't gotten around to trying it yet but I did write the recipe down.

One morning they asked what people were making for 
breakfast. I sent a picture of this:
We call it a Giant Pancake.
Other people call it a Dutch Baby.
I took a closer look at the piece of paper I had torn the
recipe from, like a year or more ago,
and guess what! It was from
Relish Magazine!
How funny is that!

It just amuses me.
That is all.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Huge Organizations vs: Blizzard

Last night we had the pleasure of having one of 
Mike's clients over for dinner.
Enrique is from Uruguay.
This was Enrique's first experience with snow.
Hey, go big or go home!

He decided To walk to the grocery store Tuesday afternoon
just as things were getting into full swing.
First he had the experience of an American grocery store.
If you ever want to freak someone from another country out, 
take them to a grocery store.
It was so much fun to hear him describe asking 
where something was and then walking 
"five miles" to that end of the store only to ask 
where the next item he wanted was and having to walk
"three miles" in the opposite direction. 
(this is all within the confines of Jewel, mind you)
But then when he finally made it out and headed back to the hotel
he told us of being "stabbed" with snow in his face and only
seeing white, everywhere. 
He was just amazed!
Equally amazing to him was the number of cars 
that pulled over to ask if he needed a ride.
He was also impressed (as were we) that when he
told the front desk he would have to stay another night, he was
informed that the room would be at a reduced rate
due to the storm. Thank you Marriott :o)

So whereas People to People and AFS are marvelous organizations 
developed to foster good will and understanding between countries.
I say just give me a good blizzard!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Blizzard" Dinner

I'm not entirely sure I'm on board with this whole
"blizzard" thing. 
There is *some* snow and I will allow as how
it is blowing around quite a bit.
I have been photo documenting it.
If it gets impressive at some point, I'll post.
Until then, 
This is Martha Stewart's tomato soup.
It's so simple, 
saute onions and garlic in butter,
add 28 oz. can of tomatoes,
3 cups chicken broth,
simmer it all together for a while and then puree.

I usually add some red pepper for fun.
The, hmm, shall we call them,
Are chibatta that I toasted, rubbed with garlic and then topped
three ways:
Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Tomatoes, bacon and cheddar,
Tomatoes, bacon and Parmesan.

All in all not a half bad way to cozy up and enjoy a
not half bad "blizzard".

Food Network: A Blessing Or A Curse?

You decide.

I have found sitting in front of the television
all day Saturday
transfixed by the Food Network to be a very good thing.
I have learned many techniques and discovered 
new foods and recipes.
This, however, is the sort of thing that happens from watching at night.
Unwrapped was the culprit.

The Hot Dog Show has sent us to Portillo's at 
10 pm in our pajamas (they have a drive thru).

We can't watch The Best Thing I Ever Ate any more.
Diners Drive Ins And Dives is on the cusp.
We almost wound up at one of Rick Bayless' 
restaurants last week for churros.

And I do mean "we". 
Not every show does it to us but when they do, I look over at Mike
and he's already looking at me and there is a certain
glint in his eye and I know we're done for.

But in a good way.
Those late night runs are some of our best memories.

Oh, and by the way, 
Dark Chocolate Chex Mix, very good.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bugles, not so much.