Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Naturally, when I came across this recipe I couldn't pass it up. Sweetened caramelized onions? Oh yes Please! I made a half batch, and this was enough for 4 burgers. You might get more servings if you aren't onion freaks like we are! Below is a full recipe.
Caramelized onions from Cherry on a Cake
6 large yellow/brown onions, sliced finely
4-5 T oil
4 T balsamic vinegar
2-3 T brown sugar
2 knobs of butter
salt to taste
Heat up the oil in a large skillet. Add onions and toss to cover with oil. Reduce heat to low and let onions cook slowly. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. This will take around an hour. When the onions are pale gold add the balsamic vinegar, butter,sugar and a good pinch of salt. Mix well and let the onions brown further. The sugar, butter and vinegar will help darken and caramelize the onions. As it begins to get darker make sure you stir more often to prevent burning and even browning. The onions are done when they are a dark golden brown color.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The blog world is teaming with recipes for this strange concoction. (see here, here, here, here, here and here for starters.)
The basic gist of the recipe is:
1. Find a spice rub blend that you like.
2. Take a 5 pound-ish roaster chicken. Take out all the junk they pack inside. Toss it or keep it for whatever you normally do with those icky guts.
3. Give your chicken a nice rinse in the sink. (Don't forget to clean your sink after you do this. Salmonella is not your friend.)
4. Pat the chicken dry as best as you can inside and out. It's the least awkward to do this with two people. One can hold the bird and the other can pat it dry.
5. Sprinkle and rub in your spices.
6. Take a beverage can (beer, pop, tomato juice, water, etc) and pour half of it into a glass so you can drink it later.
7. Carefully pour in 2 Tablespoons of your spice rub into the can. It will fizz up and make a mess if you don't do this slowly. (This is best to do over the sink or you will make a huge mess over your counter and floor. Trust me.)
8. Poke a hole or two in the top of the can with a church key type can opener.
9. Stick the can up the chicken's wazoo. The legs and can will work as a tripod to keep the whole thing balanced.
10. preheat your grill to medium high.
11. Once your grill is sufficiently heated stick the bird in there and close the lid.
12. Don't peek. This is the hard part. The more you open the grill lid, the longer it will take for the meat to fully cook. Estimate lengthening your cooking time around 15 min per each time you open the lid. It's helpful to have an instant read thermometer that you can leave in while you cook.
13. Once the internal temp of the meat is 180F (This will take around 45-90 min depending on your grill, weather, peeking, etc.) carefully remove the bird from the grill.
14. Let the chicken rest around 10-15 minutes before attempting to remove the can.
15. Carefully poke a few holes in the sides of the can with a church key can opener to drain off the remaining liquid inside. The liquid will still be VERY hot.
16. Now it's time to remove the can. It will be stubborn. It's easiest if you can do this with two people. One to man the bird and the other to remove the can from the chicken's can.
17. Now you're ready to carve and eat.
For some reason the chicken looks like it's dancing in this picture. This begs to ask the question, if a grilled chicken could dance, would it do the funky chicken?
Monday, June 28, 2010
Apparently, now, at four and three quarters, she is too cool to be photographed in front of the flowers. This is as close as she would get. "Ew Mom, there are bugs over there."
"Do I have to?"
"I don't wanna stand in the sun."
"Can I be done now?"
"Hurry up and take the picture."
"Can I go now?"
I guess I was fooling myself. I thought I had at least 5 more years before the "tude" set in. I mean look at her, she's even got that teen angst filled I'm-standing-but-slouching thing down already. Ugh. I'm really in for it. Do you think they accept reservations seven years in advance at the loony bin? I'd like to beat the rush.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
2. Blockette admitting after the parade that it was more fun to walk in the parade than sit on the truck.
3. Surprise visit with our niece.
4. Checking out a chick flick from the Library and catching Mrblocko watching and laughing along with it while he was suposedly playing a computer game.
5. Blockette's excitement when she found out she was going to her first movie in the theater.
6. The power only went out for a few seconds durring the huge storm.
7. Free ice cream.
8. Blockette doesn't get spooked by storms the way I did as a kid.
9. Less earwigs.
10. Blockette being able to bike around the block without having her wheels spin because they finally fixed all the potholes on our street and the street behind us.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
So how did it taste? Pretty good. It was an interesting combination of savory and sweet spices unlike anything I've ever had before. The pork chops were very thin and so they got cooked quicker than expected. Subsequently, the meat was on the dry side. Mrblocko suggested they would be perfect with a piece or two of grilled apple slices. What goes better with pork chops than apples! We'll be giving that a try next time.
Ras El Hanout from Food.com
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Mix all the spices together. Store in an airtight container.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Well I'm just a sucker cause clearly I've gone and made him another bookmark. He's been moaning and lamenting about not having a bookmark. He's even gone so far as to not use any bookmark to make his point about wanting another bookmark. He promised to try to try not to lose it if I was so kind enough to make him another one. Then he said he was going to keep asking for a new bookmark at every gift giving occasion until I made him one. So yeah, I guess you could say I made him this bookmark just to get him to shut up about it.This bookmark isn't nearly as fancy or labor intensive as the one Mrblocko lost. I figure he has to prove he's not going to lose this one before I spend weeks stitching something fancy. This bookmark is done in a stitch that is called blackwork. It's basically a straight stitch outline sort of embroidery. Blackwork is a lot quicker to sew per inch than cross stitch. At least it is for me.
I stitched this up mostly at my best friend, MrsThunder's house, in attempts to be sneaky and surprise Mrblocko for Father's Day. MrsThunder gasped when she saw that I was using 14 count Aida fabric to stitch on. (The count means how many stitches there are per inch. So 14 count means 14 stitches in an inch.) I believe her actual words were, "You can actually see the holes in the fabric!!"
Normally I use a much finer fabric like linen in 28 or 32 count. Linen in a fine count is much more expensive than aida. I didn't want to waste good fabric if it was going wind up mysteriously misplaced. Blackwork looks decent on a lower count fabric compared to cross stitch. If you sew cross stitch on the lower count fabrics the designs start to look more and more pixelated. I am not a fan of the pixelated look.
I used two different shades of green DMC thread. The design would have looked cool in an ombre or variegated thread of some sort but those threads are $$. I might have used them if I already had a color I liked left over from another project. Going to buy fancy thread involves going to a specialty store, and the closest one of those is over an hour away. It's also not the type of place I'd bring Blockette too. Too easy for her to get into too many different kinds of mischief. Yeah, I could have bought some on line, but I hate doing that for thread. You never know if the color on your computer is calibrated correctly. So plain Jane thread it was.
I found this design online as a freebie from a company called Stitchin'spiration. The pattern is called "Pocket garden of 4 leaf clover." You can click here for the chart if you like the design.
So Mrblocko, now you know the horrible truth about your Father's Day Bookmark. You'd still better not loose it!!! (Plbbbt.)
Monday, June 21, 2010
I've encountered a similar problem at the grocery store. Most of the chili powder in the spice aisle contains salt as well. I did find one brand at Meijer called Simply Organic that didn't contain salt. Their chili powder tasted every bit as tasty as the saltier versions. The price was comparable per oz to a brand name like McCormick. That was a shock to me as organic usually equals less money left in your wallet. Now, the salt free version was twice as expensive as the store brand generic chili powder. The generic store brand's second ingredient was salt. When it comes to spices I guess you get what you pay for. Salt is a cheap filler ingredient.
In my scouring the interweb I found this recipe on Budget101.com. Blockette loved helping me combine all the spices together. She wanted to smell every jar before I added it to the mix. Blockette would tell you I was a mean mom because I wouldn't let her stir our chili powder concoction. She gets a bit overly enthusiastic when she helps out in the kitchen. Silly me, I wanted to make sure the spice went into the jar and not on the counter, the floor, on the cats and in my hair.
So how does the new chili powder taste? I haven't had the chance to cook with it yet, but it smells delicious. I don't make a lot of chili in the summer as it seems to heat up the whole house. Since I just made the chili burgers I won't be making those for a while either. I'll be sure to post when I do use the new spice blend and let you know how it turned out.
Chili Powder from Budget 101
3 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine dry spices and seal in ziploc or vacuum seal bag (or jar). Measure all into a ziploc bag, seal & shake to combine.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
2. Blockette behaved at the birthday party and actually had manners, good ones.
3. The bird that likes to perch on the window screen right next to where I sit at the computer. (Insert Twitter joke here.)
4. Mrblocko and Blockette doing science experiments on a rainy Saturday morning.
5. Finding at least one decent dvd from the library.
6. Uninterupted showers.
7. Singing with my cat.
8. Mrblocko is a fearless bug killer.
9. Blockette loves to read.
10. Quiet time.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
These burgers are nice and easy to make. There is also the added benefit of using this recipe three different ways. 1. Burger with mushroom bun. 2. Burger with regular bun. 3. Mushroom with regular bun.
This time we decided to go with option two, plain chili burger. The recipe calls for topping the burger with red peppers and cilantro/parsley. We always skip that step and add grilled onions instead. The smoked cheese isn't necessary either. Just use whatever kind of cheese you like on chili, if you like cheese on your chili. We usually use colby jack or sharp cheddar.
As I was gathering my mise en place, I discovered I only had a half of a tablespoon of Chili Powder. How does that happen? Usually I'm pretty on top of my spices. For some reason I thought that I had just bought chili powder last week. Nope, turns out I just bought cumin. They both start with "C". Easy to get the wires crossed right? (I'm sure my mom just said, "Right." in her head just now. At least she understands!)
Of course I was too lazy to go to the store just for chili powder, so I looked in the spice rack to see what might be a suitable substitute. I came across a container of cajun style seasoning and another of bangkok blend. Both of these were free samples from the Penzey Spice catalog. I thought either one might be a reasonable substitute for chili powder as they each contained similar ingredients. I let Blockette smell them and let her nose decide. She settled on the cajun style seasoning. It must have been a good choice as none of us could tell a difference from the original chili powder version of the burger.
Rachael Ray's Open Faced Chili Burgers
4 portobello mushroom caps
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, eyeball the amount
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, a splash
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it, plus extra for drizzling
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons dark chili powder, a palm full
1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend
8 ounces smoked white cheddar or smoked gouda, sliced
2 roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves or flat-leaf parsley
Preheat grill pan or large nonstick griddle pan over medium high to high heat. Brush mushroom caps with damp towel to clean them. Scrape away gills with a spoon. Combine Worcestershire sauce with balsamic vinegar, then whisk in 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Brush mushrooms with dressing. Grill mushrooms on hot grill pan or griddle for 3 or 4 minutes on each side, until tender. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
Combine meat in a bowl with onion, garlic, jalapeno, tomato paste, chili powder and steak seasoning blend. Form meat into 4 large (1 1/2 inch-thick) patties. Grill meat 4 to 7 minutes on each side for medium-rare to well done burgers. Melt cheese over burgers during the last minute or 2 the meat is on the grill. A loose foil tent will help the cheese melt quicker.
While the meat cooks, grind the roasted red peppers in a food processor with cilantro or parsley.To assemble, place a portobello cap-side-down on a plate and spread a spoonful or 2 of the ground roasted red peppers into the cavity. Top with a chili-smoked cheese burger and serve
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I had not made these bars before so I was taking a bit of a risk. I didn't have a back up plan if the bars got burnt or went horribly awry. There was a bit of a panic moment when I was spreading batter into the edges of the pan. They seemed like it they were going to be overly thin. Luckily they poofed up nicely in the oven.
Now I realize that I should have smashed the mini cups into the bars a bit further. Since it was so hot and humid out, it would have prevented the chocolate from getting overly melty and sticking to its wrappings. I'll do that next time.
The melting didn't affect it's deliciousness though. I trimmed up the edges so the bars wouldn't have such an irregular shape. Those scraps certainly couldn't go to waste. I had two very eager helpers. I had to fight to get a taste myself!
Oh, in case you were wondering, a regular bag of mini Reese peanut butter cups contains 38 pieces. This is exactly enough for the recipe. 36 for the bars and two for the baker to chomp on while the bars are cooking!
Peanut Butter Blondies from Buns in my Oven
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
36 mini peanut butter cups (Reese’s are the best!)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease bottom of 9×13 inch baking dish. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and eggs until well blended. Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut 12 peanut butter cups into quarters and gently stir into brownie batter along with the chocolate chips. Spread into baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out fairly clean. Remove from oven and immediately press remaining peanut butter cups into the top of the brownies in even rows. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.
Monday, June 14, 2010
I chose this particular recipe because they contained York Peppermint Patties. York/Hershey's is a supporter of the Young Survivor Coalition, an organization that is dedicated to the issues faced by young women with breast cancer. I figured making these particular brownies were doing double duty since Hershey donates to YSC and the money raised at the bake sale was going to the American Cancer Society.
This recipe couldn't have been easier. I used a box mix and prepared it per the package directions. Then you pour half the batter into a greased 9x13 pan. (I lined my pan with foil before greasing so I could cut and divide them easier. If I was making this for home consumption I wouldn't have bothered.) Next, you unwrap enough miniature York Peppermint patties,(generic patties melt into the batter and don't give you the nice layers like the York,) to create a single layer in the pan. This took me almost two bags. Finally you pour the remaining batter over the patty layer and carefully spread with a spatula to cover the candies.
Bake per the box instructions. It will take slightly longer than what the box says because of the candies. To test for doneness stick a toothpick just through the top layer being careful not to poke a patty. When the stick comes out relatively clean the bars are done.
I cut these on the large size because I thought they would be more appealing for the bake sale. They were really rich so next time I'll cut them so they are half the size shown above.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
2. Getting the Veggie Tales theme song stuck in my head instead of the Gummy Bear song.
3. The bake sale raising a lot of money for our Relay for Life team.
4. Free library activities.
5. A busy week.
6. Crazy hair clippies.
7. Normally long meetings running abnormally short.
8. Shopping by myself.
9. Having a relatively uninterrupted phone conversation.
10. The Hawks finally winning the Cup.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
This pie seemed to fit the bill exactly. I already had graham crackers, butter, cool whip and lemonade concentrate. The only thing I had to buy was the condensed milk. Lucky me, I just happened to have a coupon for condensed milk! Awesome!
Every other time I had wanted to make this pie I decided against it because I didn't think it would survive the long journey to our friends or family's houses. I was right. This is a pie that needs to stay frozen. It melts quickly on a hot day, and this is a refreshing dessert for a hot summer day.
I made a few slight changes to this recipe. First, since I had graham crackers in the pantry, I made my own crust instead of using a premade one. I used 10 whole cinnamon crackers and 6 T of butter. All you have to do is crush the crackers, melt the butter, and mix them all together. Then you pat the mixture into the pie pan of your choice and bake at 375F for 8-10 minutes.
Second, I only had a 8 oz tub of cool whip instead of the 12 oz required in the recipe. To make up for this I used my 8 1/2 inch pie pan. (Why is this pie pan 8 1/2 inches? Not a clue.) This made the crust extra thick and decreased the volume needed for the filling. I also used slightly less than a full can of sweetened condensed milk, and slightly less than 6 oz of concentrated juice.
Third, I decided to use raspberry lemonade instead of plain lemonade. Since I can only find concentrated raspberry lemonade in 12 oz containers, I used slightly less than half a can. Instead of tossing, or refreezing the rest of the concentrate, I just make half a pitcher of juice.
So, was this a tasty dessert? Don't let the lack of a photo fool you. The pie didn't last long enough for a picture. I can't wait to try a limeade or pink lemonade version.
Frozen Lemonade Pie from Sticky, gooey, creamy, chewy
1 large-size store bought graham cracker pie crust
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1 (12 ounce) container Cool Whip, thawed
1 (6 fluid ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, keep frozen
1 teaspoon candied lemon peel for garnish (optional)
In a medium bowl, add chilled sweetened condensed milk and Cool Whip and fold gently. Add frozen lemonade and continue to gently fold. Do not let the mixture become soupy.Pour mixture into the pie crust and freeze for several hours or overnight. Garnish with candied lemon peel, if desired.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Shortly after Mrblocko got his swanky new grill, I did the typical nerdy thing and went to the library to check out books on grilling. Not that I would do any actual grilling on Mrblocko's grill. That is his toy. I don't want to go near it, just like I wouldn't want him to go near my sewing machine. That's MY toy.
Anyhow, in one of the books I checked out, they suggested putting a pat of compound butter in the middle of the uncooked hamburger patty. The butter was supposed to melt and help insure the meat retained its moisture during the cooking process.
So, I softened a stick of butter, and added some chopped parsley, oregano, basil and chives fresh from my rinky dink garden. Then I minced 2 cloves of garlic and mashed all that stuff up with the butter. With the aid of some plastic wrap, I formed that gooey mess into a tube about the same size and shape as the original stick of butter. Then I waited while my fancy butter chilled out in the freezer until it solidified.
I was less that thrilled with the burgers. I guess my expectations were overly high. The assumption I made was that the herbs from the compound butter would flavor the meat. Nope. The burger tasted like an ordinary run of the mill hamburger. It was very moist though.
The thing is, we haven't had a problem with our grill turning out dry hamburgers. I think I'd rather save that compound butter for something where I can appreciate all it's flavors, like on toast. It's scrumptious on toast!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
2. Getting a whole mess of chores done on Sat so they don't have to be done on Sunday or Monday.
3. Mrblocko being fully healed from his surgery.
4. Mrblocko finding $20 while doing errands!!
5. Mrblocko taking Blockette with him to do said errands.
6. Finishing a grown up book...and it was worth the time taken to read it.
7. Stoping to pick up all those papers fell down while I was in the middle of empting the dishwasher, so mrblocko was the one to find the huge spider with the yellow stripe instead of me.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Well, I must have done something wrong because the batter really thin. Since I'm a waffle girl, I'm used to waffle batter. It's nice and thick and easy to work with. I understand that pancake batter is much runnier. This batter was so runny that I had to switch from the griddle pan to a medium size skillet to keep the batter contained. Let me tell you, making pancakes one at a time ain't fun. I felt like I was at the stove for twelve days.
The pancakes did turn out tasting OK. They weren't anything special though. Even though I increased the cinnamon from 1/2 tsp to a heaping tsp and the cloves from 2 pinches to 1/8 tsp, there didn't seem to be any added flavor from the spices.
I won't make these pancakes again. They were just too much work for something so average. If I'm wanting pancakes I guess I'll just stick with the box, or the cinnamon roll pancakes I made back in March.
Apple Fritter Pancakes from Tasty Kitchen
2 cups Your Favorite Pancake Mix
1-⅓ cup Buttermilk
2 whole Eggs
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
½ teaspoons Cinnamon
2 pinches Cloves
1 whole Tart Apple, Peeled, Cored, And Diced
Combine everything except the apples and mix well. Fold in apples and let batter sit for 5 minutes or so while the skillet is heating up. Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle to medium heat. Coat with a little butter, then pour batter in 1/3-cupfuls into pan. When the edges start to look a little dry and bubbles break the surface, flip them over. If you find they’re cooking too fast on the outside, reduce heat to medium low. Because these are denser and have chopped fruit, they might take a little longer to cook all the way through. Serve with warm maple syrup.
Makes about 14 pancake
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Heh. Yeah. Right.
Garlic, Olive & Cheese Bread from What's Cookin Chicago
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
12 oz. beer
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Combine all ingredients. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 50-55 minutes.