Thursday, May 28, 2009

House Special Udon

Allen's brother Will is getting married tomorrow! He's staying with us till the wedding. He'd been talking about getting Chinese for lunch, but Allen and I were both tired of eating out (had Olive Garden yesterday after picking up the tuxes in Jackson). I still wanted some kind of Asian, so I started looking for a marinade.

Ginger-Soy-Lime Marinated Shrimp (and Scallops, and Chicken)

The inspiration for this came from Bobby Flay, modified to suit our needs and what we had on hand.

4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c lime juice
2 tbls sugar
1/2 c peanut oil
1 tsp red chili paste

I had some frozen shrimp and scallops to use up, but Allen doesn't like seafood. For him, I marinated a chicken breast. Marinated for 30 minutes and grilled. Served with udon noodles and veggies cooked in more of the marinade. 100% yum! I couldn't decide whether I liked the shrimp or the scallops better. Both were outstanding!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Barbecue Stuffed Baked Poatatoes

It's Memorial Day Weekend, and that means sales on meat! I got a 6 pound Boston Butt from Big Star for $1.28 per pound! Not bad! Loaded it into the crock this morning and added the remains of the nearly flat Dr. Pepper bottle (about 12 oz) and let it cook on low all day.

For the sauce, I whipped up a vinegar based sauce (our fave).

1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon reshampati chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
pinch garlic powder

The results--amazing! The pork was so nice and tender from cooking all day. And, of course, I loved having tons of leftovers! Allen separated them into quart bags for later. I can see all kinds of tasty things coming from this pork. If my freezer wasn't so full of wedding stuff, I'd go buy another roast to keep on hand! It sure was tasty!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Experimenting with Sausage Bread

When we were out in Texas in April for Grandmother and Grannyma's funerals, some sweet lady made us the most delicious bread! It was sausage, egg, and cheese, rolled up in a sourdough crust. Since Allen was having a wisdom tooth pulled today, he requested a hearty breakfast. I thought the sausage bread would be just the trick!

I didn't have any sourdough starter on hand, so I went with one of my favorite breads, potato bread, for the crust. Made 2 lbs of dough in the bread machine. While the dough was working, I browned one pound of sausage and mixed the sausage with 4 beaten eggs. Then I rolled out the dough and spread it with the sausage/egg mixture and topped with about a cup and a half of shredded Colby Jack. Then it went in the fridge to rise overnight.

This morning I got out the dough and let it rest while the oven heated to 350. Baked for 25 minutes or so, although I ended up putting it back into the oven (the middle was doughy in some places).

Notes for next time: 3 eggs would be plenty. Use 2 to mix with the sausage and one to baste the crust. Less cheese, and maybe cheddar would be better. Make the loaves smaller so that they'll cook more quickly.

All in all, it wasn't perfect. But it was a great starting point! I can't wait to make it again and work out the kinks!

Update: This bread was great reheated for breakfast the next day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls on a Rainy Morning

We woke today to a drizzly gray sky, but that didn't dampen our spirits! We had cinnamon rolls! I made the dough last night and let them rise in the fridge (only substitution was 2 cups of the flour with oats and adding 3 tbsp of milk to the frosting). Made for a super-simple morning. All I had to do was preheat the oven and let the cinnamony smell waft through the house!

Took some of nice warm rolls to Val for breakfast. Since she's moving back to Huntsville soon, I have to bake for her while I've still got her around. I'll miss you, dear!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stuffing Ourselves with Stuffed Crust Pizza

Homemade pizza is a definite fave in our house. I don't know why it's never occurred to me to make my favorite--stuffed crust--till now. My pizza is the victim of endless variation and has never been the same twice. For tonight, I went with a focaccia dough. My handy-dandy bread machine helped tremendously with the dough...ok, fine. The bread machine did all the work. And to think, when we got married, all the ladies told me I'd never use the bread machine! Little did they know...

Ok, back to the dough.

1 c water
1/3 c olive oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 c bread flour
1 tsp Italian seaoning
1 1/2 tsp yeast

And since I can't seem to stop myself from adding things, I added a sprinkle of crushed red peppers.

For the sauce, I used Exquisite Pizza Sauce from allrecipes. Yum! The only changes I made were to leave out the anchovy paste and onion powder (none on hand). I think I also decreased the honey, since I don't like super-sweet stuff usually.

Rolled the crust out and used string cheese for the stuffed part. Topped with a blend of mozzarella and Parmesan. It was the perfect celebration for Allen being all through with class! We've been celebrating a lot lately...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pigging out on Pork Egg rolls

All I can say is--mmm! Tonight's egg rolls were a great success (not to mention a great use of leftovers)! Earlier this week, I made pork with veggies in the crock pot. Needless to say, the two of us were unable to eat the entire pork loin in one sitting. So I bought some shredded cabbage and some egg roll wrappers and made my first attempt at homemade eggrolls. Outstanding!

First I sauteed some garlic in oil, added the cabbage and cooked for a few minutes. Added a bit of soy sauce, cooked a few minutes more. The kitchen was starting to smell really good at this point! Then I stirred in some of the pork mixture and heated just until everything was nice and hot. After that, I set the filling aside to cool so I wouldn't burn my poor little fingers trying to wrap the silly things.

In the meantime, I made some fried rice (and also baked some frozen mini quiches for the Graduation Fellowship at church). Mono-tasking has its advantages, but multi-tasking is necessary in the kitchen!

I used my deep fryer, which gets precious little use in this house, and heated the oil to 325 degrees. The egg rolls only took about 2 minutes to fry to the lovely golden brown you see above. We also made a tasty little dipping sauce using 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp white vinegar, and 1/2 tsp chili paste. Just hot enough!

Even though we each had 4 egg rolls (hey, I told you we pigged out!), there was still tons of the pork leftover. I stuck it in the freezer since we're going out of town Friday. There will be more pork egg rolls in our future!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Tonight was my last final! It took about 15 minutes--we were out the door by 5:30. After prodding and poking the pantry, I fixed on pasta for tonight's meal. I was really craving something creamy, and we had a block of feta just crying out to be used. So I made alfredo with feta instead of Parmesan!

Half a stick (or so) of butter, melted
1 cup half and half

Couldn't be simpler! I added some chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the mix and blended with my stick blender. For the record, a stick blender is an essential kitchen tool! My brother-in-law, Will, got it for me a few years ago for Christmas.

Anyhoo, Allen really loved this pasta! I felt like it needed a little something. Garlic? A mix of cheese? Dunno. But something. Served with fresh brussels sprouts, our very favorite veggie.

Pork with Veggies

T-minus 12 days till graduation! I believe this is what is officially referred to as "the home stretch." Once again I find myself so thankful for my crock-pot! It makes so many tasty dishes. Today's specialty was Pork with Chinese Vegetables.

This morning I sliced up the pork tenderloin that had been marinading all night and browned it in a skillet. Then everything went into the crock! Now that's what I call simple.

pork tenderloin, sliced thin and browned
1 chopped onion
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp ginger paste
4 cloves garlic, whole
1 tsp msg (optional)

Cooked on low 8-10 hours. Added 1 lb of Chinese veggies an hour before serving.

Yeah, that's what was supposed to happen. In reality, I ended up taking Wilson, the pooch, to town to be groomed (still don't like the idea of trimming doggie nails!) and overcooked the vegetables. They disintegrated! I didn't realize veggies would do that, but there you are. I cooked some more broccoli when I was boiling the noodles, so it turned out more or less fine. Good flavor! Think I'm going to use some of the filling to make egg rolls tomorrow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies, Oh My!

Since my hubby's been working so hard (and since he's got a long week of grading ahead of him), I figured he needed some brain food for snacking. Otherwise, he'll just chow down on tortilla chips. My friend Brittany made these fabulous oatmeal fruit cookies the last time we were at her house, so I tried to find a similar recipe. Bingo! I used 1 cup of triple berry blend (dried cranberries, cherries, and blueberries) instead of the dates, and left out the coconut (both hubby and I despise the stuff) and the walnuts (because crunchy things do not belong anywhere near my cookies). Did use the called-for 1 cup of raisins. I'm realizing that I really don't follow recipes very often, even though I sure thought I did. It seems I substitute whatever I have on hand for the necessaries and leave out the undesirables.

I made two sheets of cookies, and there was still a hefty amount of dough to be dealt with. This would be a great recipe for a bake sale, I'm thinking. So I pressed the remaining dough into a 9x13 pan to see how this recipe did in bar form. We haven't tasted them yet, being too preoccupied with eating the cookies, but I'll let you know which we preferred.

Update: We definitely preferred the cookies to the bars! I also made the cookies once more with a 7-fruit blend with great success!

While the cookies were in the oven, I looked for a marinade for the pork tenderloin that's been defrosting. I wanted to find something Asian-inspired, and this is what I came up with. Asian Ginger Grill Marinade. I was too lazy to pull out the chopping board to mince garlic, so I used garlic salt as a quick fill-in. Added some crushed red peppers, used 1/2 rice vinegar and 1/2 white wine for the acid, decreased honey to 1 tablespoon (cause, c'mon, 2 tablespoons is a lot of honey!), and viola! Pork is happily hanging out in the fridge till morning, when he'll be browned and dumped into the crock pot.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What's a Saturday Morning without Pancakes?

I woke up today with the incredible feeling of not having my thesis hanging over my head. True, it's not finished yet. But it is safely in the hands of my readers, and I can't do anything else with it without their comments. And so, I'm looking forward to a well-earned day of leisure! We slept in and decided to have a late breakfast so that I wouldn't be too full for the Victorian Tea Party at 2:30.

Allen's favorite breakfast is pancakes. We've tried several recipes but haven't yet found one that we consider our "go to" recipe. The Joy of Cooking has given us several good ones. We liked the 4-grain pancakes, buttermilk pancakes, and "regular" pancakes. Today I'm trying a twist on the buttermilk recipe. I can't remember where I learned that you can substitute plain yogurt for buttermilk, but it's one of my favorite cooking tips. We almost always have plain yogurt on hand--sometimes homemade!--but rarely is there buttermilk in my fridge.

Today I used a mix of white and brown sugars, substituted 1/2 of the flour for oats, and replaced 1 cup of the milk with yogurt. Although it's best if you let the batter sit overnight, I hadn't thought ahead of time. We did let the batter rest for about an hour while we enjoyed our lattes on the front porch.

Folks, I think we have a winner! The pancakes were great! Moist, fluffy, delish! And a little healthier than regular pancakes, thanks to the whole oats...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pasta with Ravioli and Bacon

Found this recipe in the latest issue of Real Simple and couldn't wait to try it! Pasta meals are great for Wednesday nights (or any weeknight, really!) because they're quick, tasty, and filling.

I decided to add some sun-dried tomatoes, even though I usually try to follow the recipe the first time I make something. I was REALLY glad I added the tomatoes--would've been kinda bland without them. Next time, I think I might make some sort of quick cream sauce to mix in.

The verdict: this recipe has potential, but it definitely needs tweaking to be considered anything more than average.

The dinner rolls, however, turned out great! At the last minute, I found out that Allen's brother and his fiancé were in town, so we invited them over for dinner. While Allen's used to my lack of side dishes (we have one-dish meals more often than I care to say), I felt like our guests deserved at least a piece of bread to go with their ravioli! So I headed over to my trusty, which is my second favorite cooking resource (The Joy of Cooking being my all-time fave), and looked for a recipe for quick dinner rolls. As usual, allrecipes did not disappoint!

I liked the look of these double quick dinner rolls. I modified the recipe ever so slightly by substituting garlic powder for the onion powder and replacing 1/2 cup of flour with oats to give them a bit more substance. Yum! Will definitely remember these rolls the next time I need a quick yeast bread!

First up--enchiladas!

I decided it would be kind of cool to keep a journal of what I cook, and these days the easiest way to get me to write anything is to put it online. Sometimes there will be a recipe, sometimes not. So here we go!

Last night I made some pretty tasty enchiladas, using the enchilada sauce that I had left over from taking tamales to potluck on Sunday. I usually make enchiladas with flour tortillas (since I always have them around), but last night I used corn. Very nice! They still fell apart, just like flour. I didn't have any beef or pork handy, so I filled them with rice (cooked with cumin seed and garlic powder, then flavored with lime juice and cilantro) and pintos. One thing I didn't like, those poor little corn tortillas are so much smaller than I'm used to! I could barely fit anything in them and still get them rolled up! Next time, I'll make sure to mix the filling with enchilada sauce, because the corn tortillas have much more of a flavor than the flour, so the filling ended up tasting kind of bland. However, topped off with some of Allen's Tapatio hot sauce, it was pretty good!