Sunday, September 25, 2011

day 38 = "sponge" drops


i was so excited to make these. i pulled out one of the cookbooks my mom let me have of hers. it's from the 70's and picked two recipes: little sponge drops and cookies. charley chose these so i got to cooking. the best part, was i was going to be able to use my grandma's (mom's) blueberry jam.

unfortunately, they were horrible. so bad even we threw them out and i am not going to include the recipe because i don't want someone to accidentally stumble upon it and think they look good. here are a few pictures of the progress though.... these don't look bad, go figure!

not sure on how best to say this, but i didn't like these at all.  in fact the only thing that was enjoyable about them was the jam she used which is family made.  i had to just throw these away!  I would not recommend them.

enjoy (or not in this case)!

Monday, September 19, 2011

day 37 = maple brown sugar scones

let's just face it, we were itching for dessert. the problem was, i had nothing in the house and couldn't convince charley to make me cookies. so i googled "desserts with brown sugar" and found this recipe from the only problem was, i didn't have some of the ingredients (mainly bacon!) so i adjusted the recipe to what i had on-hand. i think i'll try again sometime when i do have the bacon because it sounds really interesting. here's what i did:

step 1: if you don't have buttermilk, make it yourself!

put 1 tbsp white vinegar (or lemon juice) in a 1 cup measuring cup and fill to the top with milk.
let sit for 5 mins and you have your very own buttermilk.

step 2: gather your base ingredients and preheat oven to 425 degrees

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (use more!!)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
step 3: put all the base ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together

step 4: cut 3/4 cups cold butter into small squares. cut the butter into the base mixture until it resembles course crumbs (like how you make pie crust -- i used 2 knives to cut the butter).

step 5: stir in buttermilk and 1/4 tsp vanilla. fold in a handful of raisins.

step 6: roll out on floured surface and kneed gently. divide in half and pat into 7in circles.
brush with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar.

step 7: put in 425 degree oven for 12 mins.
step 8: while it's cooking, make the maple glaze.

  • 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • drop of water (i used over 1 tsp)
mix all the maple syrup, vanilla and powdered sugar together. add water 1/4 tsp at a time until gets to desired consistency (should be able to drizzle overtop).

step 9: when the scones are out of the oven, drizzle overtop and let cool.

i tried them straight from the oven and did not think they were all that great. the scones didn't have a lot of flavor and the maple glaze was really sweet. i really didn't think much of them until i called charley today and he said he'd eaten a bunch and really like them. so when i got home today i tried one and he was right! they must need to cool and settle in before you eat them. in fact, i think i am going to go grab another while charley writes his comments...

i am writing this after eating about 5 of these!  the only critique i could recommend from personal preference would be add more raisins and more cinnamon otherwise they are perfect the way they are.  they don't leave your mouth feeling dry and you keep wanting to go back!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

day 36 = banana bread (#2)

i still had two bananas left from day 30 (banana cream pie) and this time charley let them rot on my counter (unlike day 10 when he tossed them in the trash). i was so excited to make a new banana bread recipe, but i realized i only had one egg and did not feel like leaving the house to go to the store. so i searched my cookbook collection and every recipe had 3 eggs in it. ok, now what. i went online and entered in the words "banana bread with one egg" and came up with this recipe. the problem is, i didn't have 1 full cup of sugar or 3 bananas. oy, i am going to need to improvise. here's what i did:

step 1: gather your ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 extremely ripe bananas, mashed*
  • 8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • cinnamon

  • *if you don't have ripe bananas, don't fret, read the comment in day 8 from nancy (my inspiration)

    step 2: grease and flour a loaf pan

    step 3: sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt

    step 4: lightly beat egg

    step 5: cream the butter and sugar

    step 6: add the flour mixture, then egg, then vanilla

    step 7: mix in bananas, pineapple, and milk by hand

    step 8: pour into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with cinnamon

    i made this for us, but we didn't get a chance to eat it the first night. so i left for work and told charley to have some of it. when i called him in the evening to let him know we were going over to friends for dinner. here's our conversation:

    me: "we need to be there in about an hour"

    charley: "what are we going to bring?"

    me: "we'll take the banana bread"

    charley: "what's left of it..."

    what's left of it?! it's only been a few hours how much could he have eaten! when i go home, there was only 1/2 the loaf left!! luckily, it's pretty dense so after a terrific meal we had with friends you only needed a little bit. i hope they enjoyed!

    the bread is extremely moist and doughy. if you like a less doughy (more cake like) banana bread, see day 8. i highly recommend either this one or the recipe in my cookbook.

    second time around on the banana bread and i didn't throw out the aged ingredient which did in fact make this dish that much better! i didn't realize that banana's become more flavorful as they brown and these must have been perfect because i couldn't help but eat half of it in two sittings.  Great stuff!


    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    day 35 = gizzards and hearts

    ok, don't get too disgusted yet. i went to the grocery store this weekend and all the chicken was 1/2 off. needless to say, i bought a bunch of chicken. included was 1lb of gizzards and hearts for $1.01.

    i love them with just a little salt and pepper heated under the broiler. that's not all that exciting for a meal -- works well for the few pieces you get in a whole chicken though. so what should i do? i went to google and entered "chicken gizzard recipe" and i found this... looks interesting, but i didn't have all the ingredients. so i changed it up quite a bit. here's what i did:

    1) put chicken gizzard and hearts in a dutch oven on low heat
    2) chopped 6 cloves of garlic and tossed it in
    3) added:
          - 12oz italian dressing
          - 1 bottle beer
          - 2 tbsp white vinegar
          - 1 tbsp soy sauce
          - 1 tbsp A1 sauce
          - 1 tbsp worcestershire
          - 1 tbsp tabasco
          - red pepper flakes
          - celery seed
          - thyme
          - smoked paprika
          - lawry's seasoned salt
          - pepper
    4) bring heat just before it starts to boil, reduce to simmer with lid on for 3 hours
    5) take gizzards and hearts out of the liquid and place on foil lined baking sheet
    6) sprinkle salt and pepper over top and broil for 2 mins

    it was fairly simple, but i didn't eat until pretty late. it was extremely tender, not like typical gizzards and hearts. the sauce had a good amount of heat so i boiled down the leftovers a little to concentrate the flavor and put the chicken breast tenders i picked up from the sale in it to marinade overnight. should be interesting to see what charley thinks of the flavor! he's back eating with me tomorrow...


    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    day 34 (part II) = biscuit like cookies

    i got hungry and needed something sweet. i have Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Food Revolution" cookbook and so i grabbed that and attempted his cookies. i think i did something slightly incorrect because mine didn't brown around the edges even though i put it in the oven for more time then required. oh well, i tweaked the recipe a bit so maybe that was it. i still liked them. they are not buttery sweet cookies (even though there is a TON of butter in them), they are more like biscuit cookies.

    here's what i did:

    step 1: gather your ingredients
    • 9 tbsp butter, softened (let sit out about 15 mins)
    • 1/2 cup superfine sugar (bakers sugar)
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1/4 quick cook oatmeal (not instant)
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2oz semi-sweet chocolate

    step 2: whisk together flour, oatmeal, baking powder, and salt

    step 3: beat egg with a fork

    step 4: mix butter and sugar together. add egg. stir in oatmeal by hand

    step 5: chop chocolate and hand stir into batter

    step 6: preheat oven to 375 degrees and freeze batter for 15 mins to harden

    step 7: roll into balls and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. cook for 10 mins. transfer to wire rack to cool completely and crisp up!


    day 34 (part I) = jazz up your leftover papa john's pizza

    on sunday, charley and i woke-up and both hit our computers to watch intensely as our fantasy football players racked-up "points." if you are unfamiliar with fantasy football, you probably have 3 more years left on your life. check it out here if you are interested, but it's probably best if you don't get too attached...

    anyway, we were lazy, and ordered Papa John's pizza. we got "the works", but it wasn't as good as i remembered. i made sure charley ordered the side of garlic sauce (yummy) and hot peppers. so tonight i wanted to finish up the leftovers, but really wasn't looking forward to it. then it came to me, jazz it up! here's what i did:

    - put the pizza slices on a plate
    - drizzle remaining garlic sauce overtop
    - add cauliflower from day 33
    - put it in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds on 50% power
    - add the remaining hot peppers
    - chow down!

    (you'll notice the picture has a bite out of it and that's because i really wasn't intending to blog on this, but it tasted so good i couldn't resist).

    jazz up your leftover pizza with any fridge leftovers and let me know how it goes. can't hurt!


    Monday, September 12, 2011

    day 33 = dinner for sarah

    i had to make dinner for myself tonight. so i went to the store totally unsure of what to buy, and decided i'd make something out of what i could find on sale. ribs and cauliflower it is! the beef ribs were $1.99/lb and the cauliflower was $1.00/lb. done. then i felt i needed some heat so i bought serrano peppers. here's what i did:

    make the ribs:
    1) turn the oven to 350
    2) trim the beef ribs to get rid of the excess fat
    3) sprinkle any combo of spices all over the ribs. i did 3 kinds:
            i. montreal steak seasoning, alaea salt & pepper
            ii. spanish paprika, alaea salt & pepper
            iii. curry powder, red pepper flakes, alaea salt & pepper
    4) put in oven and cook for 1 hr
    5) pull ribs out and baste with bbq sauce (i use jack daniels original)
    6) return to oven and cook for another 1/2 hr

    make the cauliflower:
    1) heat a good amount of extra-virgin olive oil in a 4qt dutch oven on med heat
    2) add chopped garlic and let infuse -- make sure it does not burn
    3) add a chopped serrano pepper, stir
    4) when the garlic is starting to turn color, add 1/4 large onion
    5) add turmeric, oriental mustard, ground ginger, cumin, alaea salt & pepper
    6) stir real good and let cook for about 7 mins
    7) add cauliflower florets and 1/2 cup water, bring to boil
    8) once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and let sit until ribs are ready!

    make the peppers:
    1) heat a good amount of extra-virgin olive oil in a pan on med heat
    2) add chopped garlic and let infuse -- make sure it does not burn
    3) add whole serrano peppers
    4) add garlic powder and sea salt
    5) let sit (do not stir) on low heat until on side begins to char
    6) flip over and repeat on other side until ribs are ready!

    well, i love peppers cooked in this way, but these were really hot! so hot in fact i am leaving them aside to chop up into smaller pieces for a later meal. the cauliflower also took on some of the intense heat, but it was fantastic! i couldn't believe how much i liked it. ribs are always a favorite of mine* -- and so easy!!

    *my favorite way of making ribs is using chinese-five-spice, but these were descent also. i think i liked the curry powder ones the best.

    in case you are wondering, i picked up the alaea (clay) salt at a local farmers market. it is supposed to keep the juices in your food. it's red so it also adds a little unique touch. have a look:


    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    day 32 = light and fluffy pancakes

    i have tried and tried, but never been able to make a good pancake. they always come out as little bricks and i could never understand why. i even let the batter sit for 10 mins (to make them light and fluffy), but without fail they became hockey pucks. so this morning, i decided to try making it two ways:

    1) with the kitchenaid
    2) by hand

    then, i experimented with the temp of my griddle. in the end, they came out great! here's what i did:

    step 1: gather all the ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • cooking spray

  • step 2: in a bowl, first put vinegar and then milk and let the mixture sit for 5 mins to "sour"
    (if you have a recipe that calls for buttermilk, use 1 tbsp vinegar per 1 cup milk and do the same)

    step 3: combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. whisk egg and butter into "soured" milk in a separate bowl. (see first picture). pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk only until lumps are gone (see second picture). let sit for 10 minutes for the batter to settle.

    there is a large difference between mixing by hand and by machine
    (see third picture - bowl on left is by hand).

    step 4: heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

    the first few pancakes never come out right. they still taste good, but aren't very attractive.
    this is also where you see the two different batters make very different pancakes (see the first picture). 
    the ones on the left where hand mixed, the ones on the right were machine mixed.

    if you find your pancakes are browning too fast, turn the heat down a little so they come out looking like pancakes we can all recognize (see second picture). 

     step 5: eat!

    in the end, i highly recommend mixing by hand. those pancakes were light and fluffy and very good. you also really need to pay attention to the heat of your pan and keep lowering as necessary. i had some leftover bananas from day 30 so, along with some maple syrup, they made a nice addition to the meal.

    all i can say is hand-mixing makes things better.  these were light and fluffy and after eating 5 of them i can say it didn't make me feel like i had a brick in my stomach.  very tasty!


    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    day 31 = "killer" chicken

    so last night we decided to use up some of the leftovers. we bought chicken, had corn and asparagus leftover from costco, and had a lot of leftover "killer shrimp" sauce (i forgot to bring it to our friends house). here's what we did:

    1) we marinated chunks of white meat chicken in the killer shrimp sauce for a few hours

    2) i pulled out the chicken and put them on skewers

    3) i put the killer shrimp sauce on the stove and boiled it for 30 mins to concentrate the flavors
          (you'll notice it's much more dense than day 29) so we could dunk the chicken, bread, and
          vegetables into it

    4) i sprinkled the last of the "sixteen-spice rub" that i used on day 2, day 3, day 9, day 12...
         all over the chicken

    5) i put some olive oil, balsamic vinegar (shhh... don't tell charley), oregano, basil, red pepper   
           flakes, salt and pepper on the asparagus

    6) handed it all to charley to grill

    7) ate dinner!

    it was really good. the best part was i accidentally left a piece of chicken in the sauce while i boiled it. it came out fantastic! so very tender and extremely full of flavor. i am going to make that again for sure!

    at first i thought we should have cooked this on the stove because we could pour the sauce all over the chicken while it cooked, but again sarah had it right by grilling.  i was able to enjoy half last night and the remainder today for lunch.  it will go to the top of my dinner list (still have the dessert on top overall) along with the meatballs!