Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

OMG-AreYouKiddingMe-SeriouslyGood Grilled Cheese

For Christmas, I got Serious Eats: A Comprehensive Guide to Making & Eating Delicious Food Wherever You Are by Ed Levine & the Editors of seriouseats.com. I’ve been reading a little bit every morning over coffee, and I seriously love this book. I dare you to read it and not have your mouth start watering!

I’m working from home today, and on this rainy, dreary day, nothing sounded better than a homemade grilled cheese sandwich. I remembered seeing a recipe for The Best Grilled Cheese in Serious Eats, so I decided to try it out (or a variation of it, anyway). Oh. My. God. This was hands-down the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever made, and maybe the best I’ve ever eaten. (A couple of years ago Houston Dairymaids had a booth at the City Hall Farmers Market where they sold grilled cheese sandwiches made from their cheese, which were knock-your-socks off good, and this rivaled those.) It was so good I had to write about it immediately, before I forgot (as if!). I’m not finding a version on seriouseats.com to link to, so here is my version.

What you need: butter, bread, salt, and 2 types of cheese. One would work, but 2 is so much better. I used Muenster and Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar.

  • Heat 1/2 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat in a skillet. (I followed the butter measurements in the recipe even though I was only making one sandwich and the recipe made two – I never said this was a diet-friendly sandwich!)
  • Place one slice of bread in the pan and swirl it around until it soaks up the butter. Let it toast for about a minute, until it’s lightly toasted.
  • Place it on a plate, toasted side up, and top with a slice of one of the cheeses.
  • Repeat bullets 1-3 with the 2nd slice of bread.
  • Place the slices of bread together, cheeses facing each other.
  • Melt 1 Tbsp butter in the skillet.
  • Place the sandwich in the skillet and swirl it around until the butter soaks up and let it toast until it’s dark brown. You might want to turn down the heat at this point – I browned mine a little too long, and it almost burned.
  • Remove from skillet.
  • Melt another 1 Tbsp butter and toast the second half of the sandwich, as you did for the first side.
  • Remove from skillet and slice in half. Enjoy and then come comment on this post and thank me. And thank Serious Eats, too. I couldn’t have done it without them. 🙂
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Chicken Bog & Sweet Potato Biscuits

I recently bought Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible, after checking it out at the library. I can’t say I’m working my way through it, as there are quite a few recipes I don’t have any interest in cooking – for example, anything deep fried – but I did make a list (oh how I love lists) and am randomly picking recipes to try.

As you can tell by the title of this post, today I made sweet potato biscuits and chicken bog.

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What is chicken bog, you ask? Basically, it’s rice, sausage, and chicken cooked in a spicy broth. It may not be much to look at, but it was really good! Very subtly spicy and a nice consistency. It sort of reminded me of the filling in the sticky rice you get at dim sum restaurants, but not quite as sticky. Jimmy is a huge fan of all three ingredients and this was a big hit with him.

Apparently sweet potato biscuits are a well-known Southern phenomena, but I had never heard of them. Maybe a Georgia thing? These turned out so light and fluffy, and just a bit sweet. They were delicious, and I will definitely make them again!

Speaking of Paula Deen…

Today I tried two separate recipes out of Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible. The first was Streusel Pumpkin bread.
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For the most part, I followed the recipe exactly. The streusel didn’t work out exactly as it should have – when mixed together, the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour are supposed to have a crumb-like consistency, but mine turned into a thick paste. I think I must have used a tad more butter than I should have. I was able to mostly fix it by adding more brown sugar and flour, as you can see in the picture above. The recipe also calls for raisins, but my husband nixed that idea. I happened to have dried cherries in the pantry, so I used those instead. They worked out perfectly!

I traditionally make pumpkin bread at the first sign of fall, and I have used the recipe out of Silver Ravenwolf’s Halloween for years. Paula Deen’s recipe tasted quite different, but I think overall I prefer it over Silver Ravenwolf’s.

 

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Next up was Cheese Grits. This recipe was a hit, but it was a bit time-consuming. Twenty minutes to cook the grits, then another 45 minutes of baking. I’m pretty sure I’ve made a cheese grits recipe that didn’t take quite as long. Still, this is a good, Southern dish to have in my repertoire.

Food, people, it’s all about the food

In my last post, I talked a bit about some childhood memories. There are plenty more where that came from! But today, I want to talk about food. Southern food. I am not a skinny girl. I try to lose weight, but ultimately I know I will always have some curves because try as I might, I can’t resist the Southern food.

In the South, eating isn’t just for nourishment. It is absolutely a social thing. Go to any event and people congregate around the food. It’s not all buttery and bad for you…but a lot of it is.

Fried chicken.
Deviled eggs.
Chocolate chess pie.
Cheese straws.
Sausage balls.
Fried catfish.
Ribs.
Corn bread.
Biscuits. And gravy.

These are just a few of my favorites.

Paula Deen? She’s my hero. I even dressed up as her for Halloween a few years ago. Yeah. Really. I have yet to try one of her recipes that didn’t turn out fabulous. Well, that’s not true. I made a cake using her recipe before I had made many cakes, and it was dry. I bet it would be better now that I know what I’m doing.

This post was inspired by my check-out of Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible from the library yesterday. I am going to have to buy this one. And I guess I’ll just keep shelling out my monthly payment to Weight Watchers in hopes that some day I’ll come around. Not likely.

Last day of summer

It’s weird being married to a teacher, with kids of our own. The first day of school is a big change for everyone else in my family, but not really for me. Sure, summers are more relaxed as a whole and the beginning of school is a readjustment for everyone, but for the most part, it’s business as usual for me.

I’m starting out this new year hoping to make some changes that will make everything easier for us all. As a family, we eat out way, way, way more often than we should. Starting last week, we are making a concerted effort to eat at home more often. We planned to eat at least 5 of 7 meals at home last week and were mostly successful, eating 4 of 7 at home. This morning we bought ingredients for 4 meals and I think we’ll not have a problem making that goal.

My other goal, and for me this is a big one, is to keep the kitchen in ready-to-cook order. I am terrible about cooking and then not cleaning up after myself. I will admit that my thinking is “I cooked, someone else should clean.” However, I will also admit that in my situation, married to a teacher, with 2 teenagers in the house, my evenings are much less busy than anyone else’s, so it’s only fair that I do a little more in the housekeeping arena. One of the biggest factors in our eating out so often is that often the dishes haven’t been done and when I get home I don’t want to do the dishes then cook. That’s just a domino effect – since Jimmy & I run later in the evenings, if we go out, or I have to clean before cooking, it’s so late when we’re done that it’s easy to use that as an excuse to not run.

So. Night 1. I made an improvised enchilada casserole, pulling from long ago memories of making this, pre-kids. It was yummy, especially with the copycat Chipotle cilantro-lime rice we had alongside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enchilada Casserole

Corn tortillas (about 12 or so)
1 1/2 cans enchilada sauce
About 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese
About a pound of ground beef
Taco seasoning
1 can refried beans

Brown the beef and season for tacos (you can use a packet or homemade seasoning – I always use homemade). Mix in the refried beans.

Cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with enchilada sauce – probably about a 1/2 can’s worth (I used a full can and it was a bit too saucy). Place a layer of corn tortillas over the sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Spread the beef/bean mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle a little more cheese over the beef, if you want. Place another layer of tortillas on top. Pour a can of enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle generously with cheese. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.

I used this recipe for cilantro-lime rice and it was delicious. Due to time constraints, I didn’t soak the rice first and next time I think I will take the extra time to do that.

 

Misadventures in Baking (& a success story, too)

Failed Peanut Butter Bars

My friend, Michael Ann, posted a recipe for peanut butter bars on her blog, The Big Green Bowl, yesterday. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make them. THAT DAY. So, I took inventory, then went to the store and bought the ingredients I was lacking.

Now, Michael Ann mentioned in her post that she used a smaller jelly roll pan than the recipe called for, and, with adding a few minutes to the baking time, they turned out just fine. My pan was smaller, too, so I thought I’d be fine. Well, I thought wrong! I baked for the prescribed time and checked them. Nowhere near done. So I added a few minutes more, and then just a few minutes more. That sounds like a lot. It was really only about 5 extra minutes. I took them out when the top looked browned. In retrospect, I probably should have tested them like I would a cake.

The next step in the recipe was to spread peanut butter on top while the bars are still hot. I thunked down about a cup of peanut butter…and watched it sink into the bars. Thunked down the other 1/2 cup. (Not sure why I thought this would be any different!) Gamely tried to spread it a little, which resulted in basically churning up the partially cooked dough and mixing it with peanut butter.

It was immediately clear that this was a failed effort. However, that partially cooked dough tasted GOOD (disclaimer: yes, it had eggs. I say they were fine after cooking for 20 minutes…) and I was loathe to toss it. So…I grabbed a handful of chocolate chips and tossed them on top, where they melted a bit, and we grabbed spoons and dug in. <insert evil laugh here>

The problem now is that we have this huge jelly roll full of half-baked peanut butter bars that can’t be shared with anyone. And I have a husband who won’t let me throw the delicious concoction out! What to do, what to do?

Success with Korean food

On a more successful note, I tried out a recipe from the Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook last night for bibimbap. Now, this was a healthified recipe, so I’m not sure how much like the real thing it was, but what this was was basically stir-fried beef, carrots, spinach, and egg tossed in a bowl with rice. It was supposed to have bean sprouts, too, but HEB was crazy and I didn’t find the sprouts on my first pass through the produce and was unwilling to go for a second pass. It was quite delicious! Unfortunately, I did have to stray from the Weight Watchers recipe a bit, out of necessity, so it was probably a few more points than they gave it. I had every intention of using brown rice, but time got away from me and the 45+ minutes required to cook the brown rice was just too much, so I had to settle for white rice. I suspect my family was secretly grateful. I also used real eggs instead of egg substitute. I doubt that added much, as I only used 2 eggs between 4 bowls. I just don’t do egg substitute. I’ve heard that traditionally bibimbap is served in a hot bowl that sort of burns the rice a little, giving it a crispy texture that the WW version lacked. I really want to go to our local Korean supermarket and get the real deal now!

What food adventures did you have this weekend?

Sunday catch-up

My best intentions went up in smoke as far as blogging goes this past week. It wasn’t until either Wednesday night or Thursday morning that I realized I’d skipped two blogging days. I had every intention of blogging Friday but just never squeezed it in (am I the only one who always wants to say “squoze” instead of “squeezed”?). It was an insane week, and I wasn’t sad to see it end. New adventures start tomorrow, but a blog post about that will have to wait just a bit longer.

So here it is Sunday night, and once again I’m trying to fit everything into one post.

Knitting

I made quite a bit of progress on my Thin Ice shawl. The deadline for this knitalong isn’t until February 15, but I’m not sure I’ll get it finished by then. I’m on around row 100 out of 250+ rows, and, of course, being a shawl, it will only keep growing. It is lovely, though!

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I also made quite a bit of progress on the Tamarind Cowl. I’m actually now only 10 rounds plus bind-off away from being done. I’m still worried it maybe too tight, but we’ll see. The first picture below shows my progress, while the 2nd shows more detail.

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While working on this cowl, I’ve come up with an idea for a hat, inspired by this pattern. I’m eager to finish this, so I can work it up. It could end up a disaster, but I want to try it anyway.

Baking

I’ve been debating whether to continue my cake quest (it’s not meshing with my weight-loss goals real well…), but have decided to carry on, as long as I get at least half the cake out the door the next day. I feel the need to bring cake to work right now anyway.

Today’s cake was Honey Spice Cake with Rum Glaze. I didn’t actually use rum, since I’m bringing it to work and there are some tee-totalers there (plus, you know, I work for the city and don’t want to bring even a tablespoon of rum). Instead of rum for the glaze, I used milk and rum extract. It tasted great! I was a little concerned, because the cake deflated a bit when I took it out of the oven. I was a little wary when I cut into it and then before I tasted it. It clearly was not quite done on the bottom, but it tasted delicious!

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In other baking news, I made chocolate chip cupcakes for breakfast this morning. The recipe is from a Betty Crocker kids’ cookbook that I’ve had for over 10 years. There are 3 recipes in there that make me keep the book, even though my kids are older than the target age now: a brownie recipe, mac and cheese, and these chocolate chip cupcakes. So easy and so delicious!

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Cooking

Last, but not least, let me share tonight’s dinner.

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Broiled scallops, roast fingerling potatoes, and Himalayan red rice. (yeah, 2 starches, what of it?) Delicious and easy!