Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mad Tongue, Happy Tongue

Yeah, I know that sounds dirty, but I am going to disappoint you with this post if you are expecting something naughty.  :)

This has been a sort of busy week for me and, for some reason, I am just "over it" with my daytime job.  There is no particular reason, but little things that normally just roll off my back are getting to me.  I even got so frustrated earlier this week that I took about 75% of the things off my wall and packed them up.  It made me feel better. 

There were a number of points where I literally had to bite my tongue to not say something uncharacteristic for me.  So I doodled it... which also made me feel better. :)

Most of my friends will tell you that I don't swear or curse often unless it's to make a humorous point or if I am really upset.  I rarely get really upset.  I did this day, though. :P  Inside my head, it sounded like something sailors would have been embarassed to hear.

Other than trying duck for the first time over at a friend's house on Tuesday, not much going on on the cooking front. The duck, btw, was AMAZING!  It was like a cross between chicken and beef and I could have eaten half of it if they would have let me.  :)  I should have asked to take a picture of it before I put it all in my face with happy slurps.

I'm still eating and loving my overnight oats.  It's hard to pass up dessert for breakfast!

I love how purple it turns out when I add lots of frozen blueberries!
 I made hamburgers (organic beef mixed with carmelized onions, my homemade BBQ sauce, and shredded Cheddar topped with more of said ingredients) last night and served them on my homemade buns with leftover mac & cheese from Saturday and leftover carrots from Sunday. 

They were so freaking good and I am so glad I made an extra one for lunch today. :)

I still had a lot of leftover mac & cheese so I had that as a side today.  Actually, I've had mac & cheese and carrots for lunch all week other than today.

For the macaroni and cheese, I basically follow Alton Brown's recipe.  Not completely, of course.  That would be wrong. :)

Sashi's Macaroni & Cheese
  • 13oz pkg whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp powdered mustard
  • 3 c skim milk
  • 1/2 lb uncured bacon, fried, drained and diced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 16 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cook pasta until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate pot over medium heat, melt 3 Tbsp of the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep stirring for about five minutes. It should be lump free and golden brown. Stir in the milk, garlic powder, and paprika. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Temper in the egg*. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese until wet and mixed. Do not try to keep stirring to make it into a smooth cheese sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni and bacon into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
  5. Melt the remaining 3 Tbsp butter in a small pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes before serving.
  6. Tempering an egg: break the egg into a small bowl. Quickly whisk about 1 Tbsp of the hot sauce from the pan in with the eggs. Do this with 1 or 2 more tablespoons until the egg is well mixed and warm. Add the mixture to the pan. If you do not temper the egg and add it directly into the pot, you will just result in bits of cooked egg in your mac & cheese since the sauce will cook it. Tempering it first helps make a creamier sauce in the oven. I learned this the hard way. :)
You probably haven't really noticed my understated little glass bowls I use for the oats and now for the mac & cheese, huh?  I have to tell you, these are some of the best things I have purchased.

They hold 16 oz/2 cups and have a nice plastic lid that stays in place really well.  The lid is not microwaveable but I okay with that.  I just use a paper towel in the microwave and put the lid on it to carry it to my desk.  They were only $19.95 for a set of 12 bowls with lids from Crate & Barrel.  I have 2 sets. :)  I use these for just about everything leftover related because they are just the perfect size.  Even with BPA-free plastic now, I still prefer to heat things up in glass.

While I do have a metal spoon at my desk, I also have this set of silverware that I got in the clearance section of World Market a while back:
In the top half are the 2 handles plus the spoon attachment.  The bottom half has the knife, fork, and even chopsticks. :)  They are really sturdy and hold together well yet snap apart easily when you are ready.  I have a set in my bag and by where I sit in the living room because, yes, I am that lazy when late night snacking and cannot be bothered to get that forgotten utensil in the kitchen 20 feet away.

They have these on Amazon but you may be able to fiund them cheaper in stores.  For my Aussie friends, you especially may be able to find them locally since they are a product of New Zealand which, if my geometry lessons were correct, is a touch closer to you than to me. ;)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I like big buns, I cannot lie

Yeah, I'm a dork.  :)  But I'm cute. ;)

This was a pretty quiet weekend since Hubbyman was gone last weekend and just wanted to relax around the house.  I was all for that!  I didn't do too much but spent some time in the kitchen.  I made a new batch of BBQ sauce, tried a blueberry muffin recipe which did not taste good at all, tried a granola bar recipe for Hubbyman that ended up being granola cereal (but he still likes it), and rearranged a few things to try to organize the kitchen a bit better.

Between tasks, I watched Season 3 of RuPaul's Drag Race on Netflix. :)  I so want to be a drag queen and yes, I know that does not make any sense considering I am, in fact, a biological female. LOL  I am just drawn to the artistry and creativity and flair these women have.  It just amazes me.

We are having friends over an afternoon of gaming next Saturday and I am providing the main dish for dinner.  Since my food processor will be here Tuesday (YAY), I am making Tango Joes which, to quote the woman whose recipe this is, are yum-o!  Now, I could have just bought buns from the grocery store and eaten mine on something else, but I had some time today so made a couple batches of buns myself using the dough setting on my bread maker.  Once they cooled, I just popped them in the freezer for Saturday.

Here's the 2nd batch fresh out of the oven:

Now, these buns are HUGE....bigger than the palm of my hand.  I may try splitting the dough recipe by 10 or 12 instead of 8 if I ever want to use them for burgers. :)

For dinner tonight, I adapted this recipe and it was so good!  It's definitely going to make an appearance again some time soon, after all the leftovers are gone. :P

The pork was so tender that it melted under my fork. :)
Cumin BBQ Pork Chops and Carrots
  • 3-4 lb pork tenderloin cut into 1" thick chops
  • 1.5 lb baby carrots
  • 1.5 c water
  • 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp agave
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper
  1. Pan sear each side of the chops for 2-3 minutes per side over med-high heat and layer in bottom of 5-6 qt crock pot.
  2. Top with the carrots.
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl and pour over the carrots and chops.
  4. Cover and cook on high 5-6 hours or low 8 hours or until the carrots are tender.
I also made a simple salad with green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, tomatoes and pickled baby corn and then tossed with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Leftovers from tonight's meal and last night's mac &cheese and oven fried okra means I will be eating quite well for lunch for the rest of the week.

How was YOUR weekend? :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baby balls

Okay, that post title makes me giggle.  Titling posts is even harder for me than writing them but you'll see how I came to that one in just a bit. :)

First, the baby part.  I was asked to design the invitations for a Halloween baby shower!  (Okay, I offered when I heard about it but they took me up on the offer so that's almost the same! *grin*)  The theme of the shower is Boo Crew so I took inspiration from the invite that they found where they loved the wording of but not the design...

Image source
...and designed something that fits with the Boo Crew theme without outright copying it. :)

They also found this idea (which I am totally stealing if a miracle baby ever happens):

Image source
So, of course, I made theirs to match the invite: :)

Now for the balls.  LOL

With my tummy issue, any time I eat anything with chocolate in it, my tummy hurts.  A lot.  Thankfully, I am not one of those girls that HAS to have chocolate every day.  In fact, most of the time I will pass up chocolate for something else.  I know.  I'm not normal.  I have no idea what part of chocolate is the issue but knowing it makes my stomach hurt makes me WANT it.  Gotta love human nature. :)

Well, I had a chocolate Larabar last week and I didn't have an issue.  It was really good, too!  The main ingredients were dates, cocoa powder, walnuts, and coconut... that's it.  But since they are too expensive, imho, I found a recipe online to make. :)  This is the recipe I found and tried to tonight.

O. M. F. G.  So good!

I really need to get a good food processor, though, to replace the wimpy little 3-cup one I have and hate.  But even with the big nuts in my balls (*stifles giggle*), these are amazing!  I made them into balls instead of bars, though, because a whole bar was actually too rich for me and this shape was easier to make and store.

For dinner tonight, I made a grilled ham (nitrite-free, of course) and Colby sandwich on bread I made yesterday with just some raw vegetables sprinkled with a touch of salt and pepper.  My bread ended up being so tall that I had to cut the sandwich into 6ths!  This was such a simple yet satisfying meal which was perfect for my last meal before Hubbyman comes home tomorrow.

I was kind of naughty last night for dinner but I make no apologies for it! I present to you.... cheddar-filled bacon-wrapped dates!

I don't like my bacon overly crispy :P
These were a sort of last minute concoction based on craving sweet & savory for dinner.  That and having 3 lbs of dates to use. (Thanks, Costco!)

Cheddar-filled Bacon-wrapped Dates
  • 6 slices of bacon (I used uncured bacon), cut into thirds
  • 18 dates, pitted
  • 18 pieces of Cheddar, cut into pieces that are 1/4" x 1"
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line cookie sheet with a sheet of aluminum foil.
  2. Put a piece of cheese in the pit slit of the date.  Wrap with a 1/3 slice of bacon, overlapping at the bottom.  Put the date, seam side down, on the cookie sheet.  Repeat for all the dates.
  3. Bake 20-25 minutes for less crispy bacon, longer if you like your bacon cooked more.

I am going to make these again but with the bleu cheese I picked up tonight. :D

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Real food, recipes + a birthday gift

Yep... still cooking and still eating.  :) My tummy issue is frustrating sometimes because even just a few bites of anything processed makes it *hurt* like a mofo and it's hard to eat foods that anyone else makes.  As an example, we had a small potluck at work in our department last week with a BBQ theme so I brought 2 things: pulled chicken with my homemade BBQ sauce and loaded baked potato salad (recipe to follow).  I've made those both more than once before so knew those would okay for me to eat.  One of my coworkers brought homemade macaroni & cheese so I also had a few bites of that, thinking it'd be "safe".  Within a half hour of eating, my stomach was killing me.  I asked her how she made it and it turned out that at least two of the ingredients were processed/refined.


But, on the other side of the coin, I am still loving the heck out of cooking delicious real food for Hubbyman and I, even if it is a bit more work.  I'm still not counting fat or calories and eating until my stomach tells me I am full.  It's just amazing to me that it's actually WHAT I am eating that is making the difference.  All those diet foods and fretting over fat, calories, carbs, etc. were having the opposite effect of what I was striving for.  Yet I am eating real butter and bread and bacon.... and am a little smaller as a result.  (I am down 31 lbs since June 5 as of last Tuesday.)

So my tummy issue has a redeeming quality, even if it is frustrating. :P

Here are just a few things from this past week. :)
Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches on homemade hoagie rolls - I ate half of it before I remembered to take a picture of it.  (*giggles*)  It was AMAZING!
Philly Cheese Steak (adapted from Martha Stewart)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 - 1.5 top round beef steak
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz sliced provolone (about 8 slices)
  • 4 hoagie rolls, split
  1. Liberally pepper the top of the steak.  Tightly roll the steak and wrap in plastic.  Put it in the freezer for 45-60 minutes so it's firm but not frozen through.  Remove from the freezer and with an electric knife (preferably) shave at an angle.  Work quickly and don't worry about the slices being perfect.  Put in a covered bowl in the fridge until ready to cook.
  2. Heat the olive in a large skillet and add garlic and onion.  Cooking, stirring often until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the the steak to the pan and cook until no longer pink, stirring often.
  4. Turn the heat off.  Add the provolone and stir constantly until the cheese is melted.
  5. Divide among the four rolls and serve.
I also had these for lunch the next two days.  For the hoagie rolls, I followed this recipe using my bread machine and made 4 big rolls instead of 8 smaller one.  I also used King Arthur's Bread Flour instead of all-purpose.

This was one of those "I'm hungry but too lazy to cook" snacks.  It's just wedged tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and topped with garlic powder, freshly grated Parmesan, and plain bread breadcrumbs then popped in the microwave for about a minute.  It was surprisingly good and satisfying!
Hubbyman is in Minnesota visiting his friends until Tuesday.  While I miss him like crazy, this annual trip gives me a chance to make food he doesn't like.  So I had a Hawaiian turkey burger for lunch. :)  I also made a mixed green salad with mini seedless cucumbers and tomatoes with a dressing experiment that was okay at best (1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt mixed with 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and fresh ground pepper).  :)  My eyes were also bigger than my stomach so I didn't even half the salad on my plate.   I had made this recipe last week as well which had an amazing balsamic mayo that did not translate into a dressing with yogurt as well.  LOL.

 Sashi's Hawaiian Turkey Burgers
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. can pineapple in juice, either chunks or tidbits
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tbsp honey, plus more for drizzling
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the turkey, onion, pineapple with juice, bread crumbs, garlic powder, pepper to taste, and 3 Tbsp honey until well mixed.  The mixture will be soft but should stick together well.
  3. Form into 4 patties and place onto the prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle the top of each one with a little honey.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
  5. Drizzle with a touch more honey before serving.

I know this might sound like a lot of honey but you can only just taste it.  I've browned the onions before mixing them in before but I actually like the light crunch the burgers still have by leaving them raw.

Oh, I almost forgot the recipe I mentioned in the first paragraph!

Sashi's Loaded Baked Potato Salad
  • 6 medium Russet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/2 lb bacon (6-8 slices)
  • 1/2 c. real mayo
  • 1/2 c. nonfat Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried chive
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz or 2 cups shredded Cheddar (grate your own, if you can)
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Place potatoes on baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until easily pierced with a knife.  Take out of the oven and let cool.  When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into at least 8 cubes, more if the potato is large.  Let the potatoes cool completely to room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the bacon.  In a skillet, fry until cooked through.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towel and let cool to room temperature. 
  4. In a jar or other lidded container that holds at least 2 cups, add the yogurt, mayo, milk, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, dill, chive, and pepper.  Put the lid on tightly and shake until the dressing is well mixed. (You just made ranch dressing! :) )  Put in the fridge until everything else is cooled and ready to mix.
  5. Once the potatoes and bacon are cooled, put both in a large bowl with the cheese.  Pour in about 3/4 of the dressing and mix.  Add more dressing until it is the consistency you prefer.  Let chill about an hour or 2 before serving.  
  6. If you are going to refrigerate this overnight before eating, add the last 1/4 just before serving as it will dry out slightly.

I also made something a couple weeks ago for my best friend's birthday but I had to wait to post it until after I gave it to him. :)

It's a Foodie's Survival Kit based on this idea I saw over at Uncommon Goods.

I started with a gift card tin (which is a bit larger than an Altoids tin) and, using a gel medium, decoupaged ripped bits of some decorative tape I found at Michaels that did not stick well, at all.  I even tested it on paper, thinking it was the metal, but no. It was the "tape."

After 3 more coats of the gel medium to protect the "tape," I glued on these findings I also found at Michaels.  The triangular bits are actually photo corners.  I didn't mean for this to have a steam punk feel to it but I'm pleased with how it turned out and he liked it, too, which is even more important. :)
Inside the tin, I put several small bags of various spices and seasonings.

I just went through my own collection of spices and picked things I thought he'd like, including ancho chile powder, ground mustard, ground clove, cinnamon, dried parsley, dried oregano, dried dill and a few others I can't remember off the top of my head.
While Hubbyman is gone this weekend, I do have a few projects I want to work on but am having a really hard time getting motivated.  I did assemble a standalone pantry yesterday, though, to replace the bakers rack in the kitchen.  Now I just need to rearrange everything in there.  I am not looking forward to it. :P  I also have about 37 loads of laundry to do.  So not fun. 

How do you motivate yourself to do the tasks/chores you don't want to do?

Monday, August 6, 2012

I don't feel bad

I have been feeling incredibly guilty for the past few months because, in my mind, I haven't made any sewing products or painting or drawing or crafts or anything.  But then I popped by the beloved Stacey's blog and saw this image which she found on Etsy:
Etsy shop

Then I realized I *AM* making stuff and being creative.  It's just in the kitchen. :)  I rarely follow a recipe exactly as is because I've been cooking long enough and know my taste buds well enough to know what I might need to change.  Or, in those few times I do follow something exactly as is, I make notes as to how I will change it the next time I make it.

And, let me tell you, I am obsessed with (or is it addicted to?) making new recipes right now.  I'm still horrible about taking pics but I did manage to get a couple over the weekend. :)

On Friday, after we went grocery shopping, I made a warm spinach salad with bacon dressing and homemade "Shake-n-Bake" chicken.  The coating is just something I threw together a month ago but I can't remember what I put in it and didn't write it down.  LOL  I doubled the dressing on the salad and am glad I did!  I omitted the egg and added the tomatoes for a burst of freshness to contrast the other flavors.

On Sunday, I did a crock pot whole chicken again and made with it gingered carrots, steamed pea pods and oven fries.  I followed this recipe to a T and it's perfect just the way it is!  In fact, I will be reheating the leftovers in the oven tonight for with dinner. :)  The sauce on the chicken is the homemade BBQ sauce I posted not that long ago.

For breakfast, I had the yummy overnight oatmeal I posted at the same time as I posted the BBQ sauce but it has changed slightly since then.  I now add chia seeds and use a different cereal.  Chia seeds are unbelievably amazing!  Have you tried them yet?  They swell in liquid and take on the flavor of whatever they are in so you get these wonderful little bursts of flavor as you are eating.  And a little goes a long way, too.  I started adding just 1/2 tablespoon to my oatmeal and had to reduce the amount of oatmeal I was making because I couldn't finish it.

I also decided to get away from the granola as my crunch and found Simply Maize by Kashi instead.  If Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies had a baby, I think this cereal would be their love child.

So this is the lastest version of the overnight oatmeal I have been doing:
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup Chobani non fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp (or 1.5 tsp) chia seeds
  • 3-4 frozen strawberries
  • 1/8-1/4 c. frozen blueberries
The next morning, right before I eat it, I top it with a small handful of the cereal.

I did try another fruit combination last week but I didn't care for it.  I used frozen peaches and raspberries.  I'll stick with my strawberries and blueberries for now. :)

This is Rustle's favorite spot to sleep when we are in the living room but he's just a tad too big for his ottoman now.  Like all the wires in the background?  Those belong to my resident geek (aka Hubbyman) and I couldn't tell you what exactly he has wired or where. :P