Monday, January 31, 2011

Chicken curry tonight

I initially planned a very bland meal of rice with canned chicken and some sort of sauce made from a can of Campbells chicken noodle soup. But brilliance struck, and I opted for some sort of Indian-style curry. I wanted to make a vegetarian dish, but we're low on basic vegetables (like California blend-- cauliflower, broccoli and carrots).

I started the white rice in the steamer. I added the water, some garlic salt (just a pinch), about a teaspoon of parsley and a tablespoon of butter.

Then in my Le Creuset skillet, I mixed a pinch (about 1/3 teaspoon) garlic, two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, about 1/2 teaspoon red Indian chili powder, 3/4 teaspoon four color peppercorn, about 3/4 teaspoon cumin, and maybe 2 teaspoons curry powder. Oh, and a half teaspoon ginger.

I heated this thoroughly and then added about one cup hot water and boiled it. Next I added the canned chicken and chopped it into fairly small pieces. I mixed and boiled it down.

I swirled in about 1 teaspoon half and half and about three tablespoons soy milk. To finish it off I added a can of petit pois.

I served this over the rice.

Very nice.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ginger pear muffins

Tonight is girl scout night, which means my daughter will come home chock full of snacks. I have to feed her something for dinner, but the way the evening goes... We barely have time for homework and she never has an appetite. So, I wondered if muffins might work. Having only canned fruit in the house, I wondered if pear muffins might work.

I found a recipe from the Canadian Living test kitchen online for Ginger Pear muffins and I thought yum...

Thus far, the foray has been difficult.

Ingredients for batter:
- 2.5 cups all purpose flour (I used 1.5 unbleached white and 1 whole wheat)
- 1 tsp baking soda
-  1 tsp ground ginger (for a moment I thought I had run out of Ginger)
- 1/2 tsp salt (I used fresh ground sea salt)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I almost doubled it)
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar ( I got out my light brown and my dark brown, planning to mix things up a bit)
-1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used mostly canola and then a few drops of walnut oil)
- 1 egg (now I went back and forth between using an egg versus applesauce. I went with the egg. For a vegan version, use 4 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce)
- 1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 cup soy milk whisked with maybe 1.5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar)
- 2 cups chopped pears

- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp butter melted (unless you're an idiot like me and use 2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground Ginger (like I measured, I just sprinkled it on)

My additions:
Whole oats
Crystallized Ginger, chopped

What was supposed to happen:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease muffin pans (12-- I always prep 18 because what do you do if there is excess? I used all 18)

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, Ginger and cinnamon. I also added about 1 tablespoon tiny chopped crystallized Ginger.

In a separate bowl, whisk brown sugar with oil. Now, my brown sugar was hard as a rock. And I salvaged what I can using ever trick I ever knew. I got some. Not sure how much. Whisk in egg and then buttermilk.

Sprinkle with pears and combine everything. Stir until just mixed. Spoon into tins.

Okay, good. Now let me tell you, my batter was elastic. It so rang back into the tin when I tried to maneuver it. Weird.

Okay, topping.

In a bowl, combine topping ingredients. Now stir and sprinkle on muffins. Except I misread teaspoons for tablespoons and now have brown sugar soup. Besides, who every heard of making crumb topping with melted butter. Doesn't everyone use soft?

I add a teaspoon of flour. Still soup. I add a couple tablespoons of oats. That's as good as they'll get I think.

Baking for 25 minutes. Smell awesome.

Breakfast sandwich

I took:
- one Morningstar breakfast patty
- one homemade biscuit
- one squirt ketchup
- hearty thick smear of roasted red pepper dip (mouhammara)


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pecan and fruit French toast

Today I am obviously in a cooking frame of mind. Recycled the last of the spaghetti sauce into a dish of pasta with black olives, whipped out three loaves of cinnamon raisin bread this afternoon and now-- despite my original plan of a hearty baked oatmeal with Morningstar vegetarian sausages-- I am trying my hand at pecan-crusted French toast. It is a total experiment, so it will be fabulous...

Or gross.

Or maybe merely edible.

I started by slicing a loaf of my homemade cinnamon raisin bread into pieces. I made a French roast 'batter' of soy milk, two eggs, a drop of vanilla, a too-large gulp of heavy cream. Fried these up in my skillet with too much butter.

Then I lined them in Pyrex dishes, greased with butter.

I made a water-sugar syrup, which you can replicate using the one I use for tart tartine. What that was boiling heartily and started to condense, I added a handful of frozen berries. After they bubbled a while, I added six chopped prunes. (yes, I'm running out of fruit.)

Now after that bubbles a while I added chopped pecans, I think it was 2 cups worth. I stirred and stirred and then started layering it on top of the French toast. When the piles of pecans finished, I sprinkled them with brown sugar and put them in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes.

They look good. Smell good. Taste of the sauce is good. So, we'll see.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Creamsicle icing

For the icing on our lemon filled Starlight cake, we made creamsicle icing!

We started with Betty Crocker's creamy vanilla frosting:
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- about 2 tablespoons milk

Except we used 4 tablespoons of juice from clementines instead of milk and added about 2 teaspoons of their grated peel.

Starlight yellow cake with lemon filling

I think it should be official that I can't have fun without food. We had dinner with people over the weekend whom we hope will become good friends, and one of them said something along the lines of "food should be an experience, one as good as something I can't say in front of the child. One where the wine blends with the appetizer and complements the salad and the main dish and it all goes together."

He's Italian, but it's the same theory the French have, without the copious doses of pasta.

Today, my daughter has off from school and we had plans to visit a friend. Those plans fell through. Such is life. Eventually, I was left with no choice but to fill the void with food. And not merely food-- but cake!

I consulted my Betty Crocker 25th anniversary cookbook and selected a Starlight Yellow Cake. In a fit of optimistic insanity, I decided to make a layer cake with the Betty Crocker lemon filling.

I used a jelly roll pan and a matching cake pan to make the layers, as I don't have multiple jelly roll pans or round layer pans or even a brownie pan.

This is my first layer cake. The layers are safely out of the pan and cooling in the kitchen and the filling is setting in the fridge, which doesn't even seem necessary because it tasted perfect and had a fabulous consistency while still in the saucepan.

Now the recipes:
The Starlight Yellow Cake
- 2 1/4 cups white flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (I usually reduce)
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups milk (I used 3/4 cup whole milk and 3/4 cup soy milk)
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 eggs

Preheat to 350. Grease and flour pans. Beat all ingredients on low 30 seconds, scraping sides constantly. Beat on high three minutes. Poor into pan. Bake 40 minutes for a rectangle cake, 25 for two rectangle layers, 30 for two round layers. Until toothpick comes out clean or cake springs back when touched.

Lemon filling
- 3/4 cup sugar (I only used 1/2)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (I used two small lemons)
- yellow food coloring if desired

This tastes just like the inside of one of those Hostess fruit pies.

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan. Gradually add water, mix and then heat over medium, stirring constantly until boiling and thickened. (mine thickened quickly and into lumps, lumps of a nice consistency that absorbed water without trouble, but lumps)

Boil and stir one minute. Mine thickened totally before one minute.

Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon peel, mixing until butter melts. Gradually stir in lemon juice, and then food coloring. Refrigerate 2 hours or until set.

The recipe book suggests icing with White Mounting Frosting. I'll investigate.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A couple groceries

When I left work last night, my husband had spaghetti cooking for dinner and he did not sound happy about it. We had the typical sprinkle cheese, and the grated asiago from Aldi, but he definitely sounded disappointed that we were having pasta. So, I bought a big bag of frozen meatballs. Of course, to find the meatballs, I had to go through various aisles of the grocery department. I saw some pork chops on sale for $3.74, when they're normally $4.99. I bought two packs and the meatballs were $5.49. The total was $12.97, minus $1.29 for my team member discount, then $5.90 used up the remaining funds on the gift card from my mom, and the remaining $5.49 went on my red debit card (which saved me another 29 cents).

We returned today, for two reasons, for a cat toy and to see if I could pick up some more shifts this week. The cat climbing hill was $18.39.

But then I went back to grocery. I ended up spending, with the cat toy, $50.45, minus the 10%, which was $5.10, and an additional $2.29 for my red card. That, with tax, brought my total to $44.41.

- Nonni's pecan caramel biscotti, $2.99 (part of a hostess gift for the dinner we're having with friends tonight)
- Pim's raspberry cookies, $2.99 (also part of the gift)
-Archer Farm fruit twists, $2.29
- nature valley crunchy granola bars, dark chocolate, $2.50
- San gorgio elbow noodles, 2 boxes at 80 cents each
- archer farm hot chocolate, French vanilla, $3.99
- canned chicken, 10 ounces, $2.49
- tuna, two of the big cans, (also 10 ounces?), $1.97 each
- old orchard 100% juice concentrate, apple raspberry, $1.17
- market pantry pink lemonade concentrate, 43 cents
- Morningstar vegetarian sausage patties, $3
- Boca burgers, $2.78

Spinach Boca burgers

In our trip to Target today (I went hoping to pick up some extra hours), we found some Boca Burgers on clearance for $2.78 a box. So, for lunch, we had boca burgers. My husband used one slice of Archer Farm honey oat bread, toasted in and sliced it in half. Then he also cut the burger in half and piled it on the bread. He topped all our burgers with fresh spinach and mine with buffalo blue cheese dip. Child loved hers so much she asked for a second one!

Archer Farm Crème Brûlée

A long time ago, or perhaps more accurately, some time after I started at Target in October, we purchased a box of Archer Farm créme brûlée. It was on sale for four-something I believe. Today, they were $5.69.

They came withe their own little terra cotta ramekins. I'm not sure if they're reusable, but one of mine (they came two in a pack) cracked. I have to come up with something to do with the ramekins so I don't have to live with that kind of waste.

They were incredible. Easy to make and tasted perfect. Of course, if I bought my own ramekins, I could make my own. But these went from freezer to oven to table in less than a half hour. Good cheater dessert for my next dinner party.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dangerous concoction

The other night I mixed up a dangerous concoction: equal parts blue curaçao and sambuca, with a handful of sour patch kids. It was strangely interesting and I enjoyed it. Of course, I drank it too fast.

Dinosaur breakfast

Someone gave my daughter one of those strange sandwich cutters that makes your sandwich into two dinosaurs. She asked me to use it today, so I tried, but our Archer Farm bread from Target didn't quite fit. So we had one dinosaur and some smaller pieces.

We had an unusual breakfast today, because I didn't have the strength to think about it. We made a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, with cheese balls, and raisins.

She loved it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Biscuits and munchees

Tonight's dinner is a strange one. I made a double batch of my yeast multigrain biscuits and ended up with about 40 rather than 24. My plan is to share some with my dad and his wife, so it's not a big deal. Since I had so many, I lightly brushed a dozen of them with olive oil and sprinkled with asiago and Parmesan cheese.

Dinner tonight is:
- two multigrain biscuits, one with maple syrup and Morningstar breakfast patty and the other is a cheese biscuit with butter
- our vegetable is health is wealth spinach munchees
- our beverage is apple juice

(the meal is intentionally light because child has girl scouts and they always feed her a snack. At 4:30)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Smoked pork pockets

My daughter and I made "pockets" today. Like a cross between a pasty and a hot pocket. I had some pie crust in the freezer and I needed to use up the last of that pork.

So, we cut the pie crusts into four pieces each. Daughter brushed each one with melted butter. Then we stuffed each one with a few chunks of smoked pork, mozzarella, asiago, and cheddar cheese, and several peas.

Then we closed them, pinched them and brushed the top with butter and made nice little indentation with a fork. I cooked them at 350 for 20 minutes. I intend to freeze them for quick meals later.

Target again

We used up most of our Target gift card yesterday. Spent $56.48, $8 of which was tights for the little girl's dance class so that can't be counted as groceries now, can it?

My husband did the shopping and he got:
- 2 bags of tortilla chips, $2.39 each ($1 at Aldi)
- pita chips, $2.69 minus $1 off coupon
- 2 Dole salads (tortoise food) $2.50 each
- 2 packages of 32 oz of vegetable stock, $2.49 each
- Archer Farms dill pickle dip (which I thought my daughter would like, she does not) $2.39
- white kidney beans, one can, 97 cents
- one can of creamed corn, 77 cents
- Archer Farm bread, 2 loaves, $2.50 each
- frozen corn, 89 cents
- whole milk, half gallon, $1.94
- huge container of heavy cream, $4.94
- eggs, $1.69
- Archer Farm soy milk, $2.44
- Silk chocolate soy milk, $1.88 (now that's a good sale price)
- Morningstar vegetarian sausages, 2 at $3 each (Target always has good prices on this stuff)
- cat litter (the big bucket) $8.89

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pork Soup (part two)

So, my husband was left to tend the soup. I suggested he buy some sort of canned white beans (since I thought of this to make dried beans) and a can of creamed corn. I also suggested he get some heavy cream and some vegetable broth in case I decided to go "cream of" or if the soup went dry.

I went to work and instructed hubby to drain the beans, rinse them and add them to the pot. I told him to add the creamed corn as is, and if the soup got dry to add some water. And not to add anything else until I got home.

He listened well.

The soup tastes fabulous and needed no water, nor did I have to add anything else-- no more vegetable stock, no cream.

Pork soup (part one)

My mother-in-law brought us some smoked pork chops, which my husband cooked and cubed while I was at work last night. Instead of serving them as a heat and eat kind of meal, I opted to make a crock pot soup. 

I started with some jarred minced garlic (which I normally avoid because it just tastes funky to me). It came out too fast and I ended up with too much. Then I added a swirl of extra virgin olive oil and maybe 2 cups of diced smoked pork chops. 

While they simmered, I added some sliced potatoes from a can of whole potatoes that I took the time to cut myself. Then I added "fresh dill" from my freezer-- about 2 teaspoons. Next came some organic vegetable broth (which by the end of my base will be 32 ounces worth). I put about a half teaspoon cumin and a half teaspoon fresh ground four color pepper.

To empty the fridge, I dumped about 2 cups leftover cooked vegetables into the pot with the rest of the broth. This was primary some sort of soybean (mukiname?) and green beans with a few slivered carrots.

So, the ingredients in the pot now: 
- diced smoked pork chops
- extra virgin olive oil
- minced garlic
- cumin
- dill
- four color pepper
- potatoes
- green beans
- mukiname? (not endamame, other soybeans)

Hoping to get some white beans and creamed corn and maybe other broth... We'll see...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Salad experiment

Looking for a quick soothing lunch, I grabbed some bagged salad from the fridge, the last four Morningstar Chikn nuggets and some dried pineapple.

For the dressing, I opted for experimentation: equal parts of Archer Farm Buffalo Blue Cheese Dip, light mayonnaise and creamy Ceasar dressing.

We liked it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Blogging from my iPhone is not easy, but the iPad is almost out of data so...

My mom, in addition to a $100 Wegmans gift card, also gave me $100 in a Target gift card. Very convenient.

The other night after work, I picked up generic Up and Up Zyrtec for my daughter and found a couple of bargains while I was at it:
- dole bagged salads were $2.24 each
- lemons, normally 33 cents each, were a dime!!!!
I bought ten. Granted, these are small lemons and one lemon provides about 2 tablespoons juice (but that could be because I freeze them.)Frozen lemons are awesome for baked goods and sauces.

I tease that as long as I have lemons, butter and flour, we can eat like kings.
But then Came my boneheaded move. I bought two containers of fat free half and half. Dumb. Very dumb. Isn't fat free half and half MILK?

Today we went to Wegmans. We bought a variety of things we normally would consider a splurge and thus didn't get as much as we could have if pinching pennies.

I bought:
- wegmans fresh 1/2 and 1/2, 1.29
- silk pumpkin spice soymilk, 2.79 (a new favorite here)
- wegmans special frozen vegetable blends, one Ginger and garlic stir fry and one squash/spinach, $3.99 each minus $1 for a coupon
- wegmans spinach and feta peorogies, 1.69
- broccoli spears, 2 at $1.29
- health is wealth spinach munchees and pizza munchees, 2.99 each
- wegmans spirals and cheese dinner, 6 at 33 cents each
- Goya black beans, dried, 16 ounces, 2 bags at 1.29 each
- Campbell's soup at hand (six year old can prepare by herself),  one vegetable and one chicken and stars, 1.39 each
- Annie's cowgirl ranch dressing, 2.99 (most ranch has MSG so I buy natural since my daughter adores it)
- lump crabmeat in a can, 4.29
- beef stock, 2.49
- fasig's whole bean rainforest caramel crunch coffee, 5.49
- 24 pack of Cottonelle double rolls, 13.99
- stew beef, 4.43
- 1/2 pound of wegmans medium Brie, 6.11 minus $1 coupon
- dental tape, 1.99
- curl cream, 3.99
- bacon-wrapped ready-to-cook scallops, $7.64 minus $1 coupon
- 3 pain Au chocolat, 1.25 each
- baguette, $2
- eggroll wraps, $2.50
- broccoli slaw, $2

Total: $90.56

More pizza

Tonight we made pizza. Used the recipe for crust I devised in April for skillet pizza (tried to link above). Clicking pizza or le creuset below could lead there...

Only one cheese tonight: mozzarella

The sauce was Wegmans chunky pizza sauce (selected for its high vitamin A count).

Toppings: whole black olives from Aldi that we sliced ourselves, Morningstar vegetarian bacon and spinach (canned, a 'gift.')

New Year Wegmans Indulgence

My mother gave us a $100 Wegmans gift card for Christmas, so today we went and bought some groceries, some of which were indulgences. We had an early lunch before leaving so at 2:30 we were ready for a snack.

For the adults: rainforest crunch whole bean coffee from fasig's with half and half
For the wee one: silk pumpkin spice milk (oh my! Delicious)

A baguette
Medium Brie
& scallops wrapped in bacon