Monday, January 2, 2017

A New Year and a new start ro rhe blog!

Happy New Year! I've been thinking about restarting this blog for a while now.... It started with a good idea last year, but it was too much work to keep up, which is not in line with the purpose of this blog. So, after thinking for a while, and moving this fall into place with a MUCH nicer kitchen, I decided to start this back up in 2017! Then 2017 came in with a virus....sigh. But, with some new thoughts on making this simpler, a new budget (a new, big kitchen doesn't come cheap!) it's time to start again.

As I mentioned, 2017 came in with a virus. Came come from Christmas with the family on Wednesday. Went to work for a bit on Thursday, made a stop for a few essentials on Thursday evening. Friday, got up started a roast in the crockpot...by Friday evening I didn't feel like eating. But, I had a nice toast to work with! Saturday, had some leftover roast. Sunday, decided it was time to kill this virus off. How's the best way to do that? Avgolemono soup! It's pretty easy to make, even when your sick, but I still can't make it as well as my former boss - who introduced me to it many years ago. I don't have an old family recipe, and my eggs were kind of old - but I woke up feeling much better this morning. Coincidence? I don't think so. I used the recipe here. In the past I have made it with rice, but I had a open box of orzo.

It was good and seemed to do the trick. I managed to do all my laundry, clean up my kitchen from my massive Christmas baking and even make breakfast/brunch and lunch dinner.

Hmm, looks like the picture upload has changed and I'm now on all Apple devices...I'll add pictures later!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A sort of productive day....

Well, today was somewhat productive. I started out the day working on my New Years Resolution to master making biscuits. They turned out well. This is the recipe I used: http://scratchthiswithsandy.com/2014/02/11/20-minute-homemade-biscuits/

Then I decided to start on the honey oat bread. This is the recipe I used: http://bakingdom.com/2011/09/homemade-honey-oat-bread.html. I didn't put the topping on this time. For me, I wanted to use the bread for sandwiches and things and the honey/oat topping just made it more of a sweet bread than an all purpose bread. But, I made it today and it turned out really well as a sandwich bread.

I also made chicken rice soup with the remaining  chicken from Thursday, rice from last night, some chicken broth, some diced carrots and a bit of lemon juice.

And since I was still in a baking mood, I decided to make some granola bars. I wanted "almond joy" ones. I used this recipe: http://brownthumbmama.com/2010/09/best-homemade-granola-bars.html
But, I halved it and then added 1/3 c each of sliced almonds, coconut, and mini chocolate chips. So, I got a lot done today.

I have also decided that I have so much stuff in the freezer I should not buy any more groceries until I clear out the freezer a bit. This means there might not be a lot of cooking this week if I try to clear that out, but we'll see what happens.



Saturday, February 13, 2016

Weekend Cooking

I haven't gotten much done yet, but it's supposed to be cold and snowy tomorrow so I should have lots of time to cook and bake - while cleaning and doing laundry. 

I made the chicken in the crockpot on Thursday for dinner. That was lunch on Friday. What did I have for dinner last night? Oh, boxed mac and cheese. I had a lazy morning before heading off to work for a half day. But I made an open faced egg sandwich - eggs with ham and cheese on english muffins. Tonight I made a quick red beans and rice. I don't really have a recipe. I combined about three. But, basically, sauté celery and onions in a bit of oil with red pepper, black pepper, and salt (I didn't have green pepper). I had half a turkey sausage in the freezer - sliced that in to half rounds and added it to the pan once the veggies were soft. It was getting a little dry so I added a bit of water. Then a bit of garlic and two cans of drained, rinsed red beans and two bay leaves and more water and let it simmer for a bit. I added water a few times. But, it didn't taste quite right so I started looking at other recipes. I ended up adding some oregano, paprika, worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Then it tasted much better. Mush up some of the beans to thicken it up. Good, easy, and warm on a cold day. 

The plans for tomorrow. I think pizza dough. I really wanted pizza tonight, but didn't want to wait for the dough by the time I got home. I want to try the oatmeal bread from a few weeks ago without the honey topping. Last weekend I went to Aldi and they had whole wheat flour on sale for $1.49 a bag (it's closer to $4 everywhere else!) so I bought two bags. I might make either whole wheat pizza dough or another bread. Not sure what to do for actual food. I have more chicken in the freezer so maybe another crockpot recipe. And I still want to make tamales.

Tune in tomorrow to see what happens....




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I'm back!

Apologies for the long absence. Life got in the way. I haven't done much cooking the last week or so. I had good intentions and then I was asked to make cupcakes for a work birthday, which I thought I needed to do by Friday. So, Tuesday (last week) I went to the store to get the ingredients, then planned on baking them on Wednesday and filling and frosting on Thursday. I bought deli ham on sale because it's an all purpose deli item - delicious for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There were two nights of brinner grilled cheese (breakfast for dinner) - basically an egg in a grilled cheese sandwich. But, then cupcakes got delayed until Monday, which means I had Sunday to make them. But, Friday evening and Saturday had work required events. And the grocery store was crazy on Saturday afternoon when I finally did get escape from work. I did make chili over the weekend, and last night was happy hour. I guess that's how I managed to go about a week without really cooking.

But, let's talk about the cupcakes. They are my traditional St. Patrick's Day cupcakes, but one of my colleagues favorite and it was her birthday. They're a chocolate cupcake (Devil's Food Cake mix, sometimes made with Guinness instead of water), a chocolate mousse Irish Whiskey filling, and Irish Cream buttercream frosting. Since I'm being frugal, I decided to make the Irish Cream instead of buying it (I was already buying whiskey). I found a really good bourbon cream recipe I made as a gift for Christmas and all I had to buy was condensed milk (I was already buying heavy cream for the cupcake filling). I use this recipe. It's really good, but I think it does need to sit a day or two to be really good. This is a picture I took from when I made them in September - halfway to St Pat's Day. Now, I need to think of another St Pat's kind, although I was assured no one would mind having them again in just over a month.

Not sure what the plan is for the rest of the week. I bought chicken breasts (since they weren't much more than whole chickens) to cook in the crockpot, but forgot to buy potatoes. But, I think that will be dinner tomorrow night. I'll set it up tonight with the timer and then stop at the store for potatoes on the way home tomorrow night. There will probably be another quiche because I have heavy cream left over.

I'm going to try to keep this updated in the future, but we're entering my busiest time at work for the next three and a half months. We'll see how it goes....

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Baking happened!

I should have gone into work today, but I decided if I had already spent 50+ hours in the office for the week and I hadn't gotten everything done...it could just wait. I did much baking and cooking though. Pizza dough. Pizza sauce. Enchilada sauce. Cilantro lime rice. Alfajores. And all the accompanying things. Let's see, I started with pizza dough, since it takes a while. But then I was hungry and needed lunch. I made egg drop soup and rice, heated up an egg roll from the freezer and added some mandarin orange green tea. I stirred the egg a little too quickly, but it was good anyway. Then I finally tackled something I have wanted to try for a while - I turned sweetened condensed milk into dulce de leche. I've wanted to do this but I didn't want to explode a can of sugary dairy product all over my kitchen. But, I did some reading and decided to try it. I followed the directions, leaving the can on it's side with at least an inch of water over the top. I let it simmer for about 3.5 hours. But, I don't think I had it at a high enough simmer. It was good, but a medium gold color. Not as dark as I wanted for my alfajore cookies, but it worked. That took a long time, so while that cooked, I made cilantro lime rice, enchilada sauce, and pizza sauce. Then I made pizza for dinner. And then I made my cookies (okay, I made the dough before dinner so it could sit in the fridge). This is the recipe I used:  http://delishhh.com/2013/01/07/alfajores-with-dulce-de-leche/. They're good. The cookies remind me of the white cookies I make at Christmas and then a super sweet filling. It seems like I did more today, but maybe not. Time to put lunch together and go to bed.






Saturday, January 30, 2016

Semi-Productive Day

I woke up feeling more like 75% sick, so there was no going into work today. Of course this means I have to go in tomorrow. But, it seemed like a lot of it was sinus related and after being lazy until about 11, I was feeling much better. Time to make soup! I decided to make it in the crockpot. Most of the recipes I found were for the crockpot and I like cleaning glass better than pans. I made this soup- http://www.pipandebby.com/pip-ebby/2015/10/23/beef-barley-soup. I didn't make too many changes. I didn't have mushrooms, so I skipped them. I didn't use as much onion. I used frozen roast leftovers instead of stew meat. I also don't like tomatoes (tomato products are fine), so I just added a little bit more water to make up for the undrained tomatoes. It was more tomato-y then I expected. It was good, just heavy tomato taste. Since the recipe made a lot, I added a can of beef broth before I put it in the fridge.

My other kitchen project was making bread. As I mentioned the other day, I miss baking. I used this
recipe - http://bakingdom.com/2011/09/homemade-honey-oat-bread.html. I don't usually change too much in baking recipes, especially bread and especially the first time. I didn't knead it for as long as the recipe said. I do all my kneading with my mixer and most  recipes say to knead for 2 minutes, so 10 minutes seemed like a lot. After about 7 it seemed ready. It was a really easy bread to make. I didn't quite get the rectangle flattened out evenly so one end of the bread was fatter than the other, but it seems to have baked just fine. I think the only change I would make for the next time I make it, and yes I will make it again, is to skip the topping of honey and oats. The honey just gets kind of syrupy on the bottom and the oats got a little over brown (even though I only baked for 40 minutes). The bread is delicious. It really doesn't need that extra honey. I put the series of prep pictures below (you can see the unevenness). Now I'm planning the next kind of bread to make. I think something with sunflower seeds.

This is what the cat in the house was doing all day. That's a heated pad she's sleeping on too. I guess all the light in the house was making it hard for her to sleep though. But, she is getting older - almost 14 - so she can be lazy.

I think I'm going to sort of cheat on my budget tomorrow. I need to go to Aldi to restock on essentials and it will be much easier to go tomorrow after I go into work (since I'm hoping I won't be there all day). It's almost the last day of the month and it won't process on Mint until after Feb 1st so it's all good :) I won't eat any of it until after the 1st!





Friday, January 29, 2016

$1 over budget

There hasn't been any cooking, or much eating, the last few days. I'm definitely fighting some virus. I didn't even bake what I planned last night, so it will go in the over tonight. 

I came home from work early today, and even though my plan had been to not go to the store so I wouldn't go over budget - but they had eggs for .88 a dozen! How could I pass that up (yesterday and today only). While I was there I decided to buy barley (more on that in a bit) for beef barley soup. Then, I couldn't remember if I had any beef broth at home, so I bought a box of that just to be safe since I plan to make it this weekend. I picked up a few other things I didn't need but might want this weekend. If I make tamales, I need margarine. And more cheese. And cheese was on sale too. I'm almost out of flour so if I want to make bread or bake, I needed flour. I also want to try making the Chevy's corn tomalito, and I didn't know if I had a bag of frozen corn (and it was only $1 - that was my budget breaker!). And a house isn't a home without ripening bananas in the fruit bowl to eventually turn into banana bread. I got quite a few groceries for $14 though, so it's not too bad. 

Since there isn't much cooking to tell you about - how about a few things I have noticed that are weird in grocery stores? While I was looking through the ad the other week they had cod loins on sale. Those that don't know me outside of this blog don't know that my degree is in marine science. I took vertebrate zoology from an ichthyologist. I'm pretty sure cod do not have loins. I had to Google this and here's what I found (http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/how-to-cook/how-to-cook-cod-loin): 
As cod can be a large fish, the fillet is often too big for a single portion. It is therefore possible to buy the cod loin, which is cut from the middle section or fattest part of the fillet. Succulent loins are short and fat compared to longer cod fillets and they are considered the prime cut.   
There's interesting fact number one. Number two - where do you think barley is located in the grocery store? Grain (rice, quinoa, couscous)? Cereals (oatmeal, grits, cream of wheat)? No...it's with boullion.  

Hopefully there will be more cooking updates soon...and baking. All this cooking has made it hard to bake but maybe I will make something this weekend.