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Posts tagged ‘Recipe’

What’s cookin’?

Confession time: I am a hoarder.

Let me be more specific. I am a recipe hoarder.

I rip them out of newspapers. I cut them off of food packaging. I print them from websites and I gather them from friends and family (especially my mom). I buy cookbooks. I have multiple files of recipes on my computers. I usually have a couple sitting in my printer waiting for me. I have a stack sitting on top of my microwave. I have a Longaberger basket (I know, right?) filled with recipe cards. And a few years ago I organized a big binder full of all those clippings and whatnot. Periodically I gather up all the strays littered around the house and add them to the binder.

This might lead you to believe that I cook a lot. Sadly, that is not the case. I’m kind of lazy, and cooking for one doesn’t often seem worth it.  Plus, when it’s just me the yield is such that it better be something that either freezes well or that I like well enough to eat for several days in a row.

However, a few weeks ago I was browsing for cookie recipes for Sunshine’s and my annual Christmas cookie fest, and I decided enough is enough. I need to make some of these things I’ve been clipping. In fact, given the timing of this, perhaps that should be a resolution for the new year. If I were feeling super inspired, I would aim for one new recipe a week, but who am I kidding. Based on how much I actually cook, that wouldn’t leave any room for recipes I already enjoy making (and eating). Howsabout once a month, a new recipe? Dig it, I can get on board with that.

Anyway, this epiphany of  “I should cook more” came when I was reading a page of brunch recipes I had torn out of the newspaper several years ago. And I thought ok, but who makes brunch for one? And then I said to myself, “Self, I’m gonna DO that!” There was a yummy sounding blueberry cream cheese French toast recipe that I determined I was going to make just for me on Christmas morning. Momentarily forgetting, of course, that Klondike was coming up on Christmas. But his arrival time was undetermined and I decided fuck it, I was making it for myself and if he was here, great, and if not, he could have leftovers. (Sorry, babe.)

As it turned out, he was here, and it was great, and it was decent the next day as leftovers, and I sent another big hunk of leftovers home with him. Perhaps next time I will halve the recipe. But hooray for new endeavors in the kitchen!

And since some of my friends asked for the recipe, here it is. (I snipped it from Eileen Goltz’s column in the Journal Gazette, eons ago.)

Blueberry Cream Cheese French Toast
Ingredients:

  •  1 loaf egg bread, cut into cubes (I don’t know what “egg bread” is – feel free to enlighten me. I used one of those bake-and-serve loaves of Italian bread, except I didn’t bake it – it was fully baked, it just wasn’t browned and crispy, it was still a bready bread, and it worked great.)
  •  1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, slightly softened
  •  1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, tossed lightly with 2 tablespoons flour (The fresh blueberries were ridiculously expensive, so I bought some nice frozen ones and they worked just fine. I didn’t defrost them, since I knew they would have plenty of time for that, just coated them with the flour.)
  •  Cinnamon
  •  8 large eggs
  •  1-1/2 cups milk
  •  ¾ cup maple syrup (Please, for the love of god, use real maple syrup. Not just for this, but for every maple syrup opportunity you run across. You can thank me later if you haven’t already been using it.)
  •  6 tablespoons butter, melted
Midway through the layering - pretty!

Midway through the layering – pretty!

Coat a 13x9x2 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Layer one half of the bread cubes in the baking dish. Cut the cream cheese into cubes and scatter over bread. Layer the coated blueberries over the cream cheese. Cover the blueberries with the remaining bread. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon. In a bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup, eggs and butter. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the bread and press the mixture into the bread with a spatula. This will help the bread soak up the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight (I went the overnight route). Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Serves 8.

Next time I make it, I will use more blueberries – at least 2 cups (total), maybe more. Probably more. I really love blueberries. I also might use a little less bread on top. Like a handful less, maybe.

Hold me to the resolution, k? And if you have something delicious I should be making, please send the recipe – I’ll add it to the pile!

Ciao, babies! Happy New Year!!!

I cooked a chicken, bitch!

Last weekend I did something I’ve never done before: I cooked an entire chicken.

This may not sound like much to some of you, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never before cooked anything with a bone in it. (I’ll pause now for my friends whose heads are exploding due to euphemism overload.)

I really don’t like to know my food in ways that remind me it was once alive, and bones have a tendency to do that. Plus, bones in food are just kind of gross and annoying. Most of my cooking of animals revolves around boneless and skinless. But I kind of had chicken & noodles on the brain. The weather got cold and something warm & smushy (which is how I tend to define comfort food) was sounding good, and I’ve never made it before, so I thought why not? A Google search for “easy chicken & noodle recipe” yielded several easy-sounding chicken & noodle recipes. (The internet is amazing, no?) And they all called for cooking a whole chicken. Okey dokey, I can do this. Plus, someday soon I would like to cook a turkey, and cooking a chicken is probably a good gateway poultry opportunity.

I am not scared of you.

I addressed the chicken situation immediately so I could get the traumatic part out of the way.

Okay, I am a little scared of you.

Fortunately all I had to do was cut it up a little bit and throw it into the pot. Am I the only one who always starts with too small a pot? Anytime I make soup or chili or anything in a big pot, I always underestimate the size of the pot necessary. Which meant I had to touch the chicken again. Ew. But once the chicken and vegetables and broth are in the pot, all you do is wait – it really was ridiculously easy.

Ooh. Except for the noodles. All the recipes I found also called for making your own noodles, which wasn’t on my radar at all. But all these yahoos on the internet were doing it, so how hard could it be, right? I figured I’d give it a try. That was my only real mistake. I need to remember that things involving rolling pins are not in my skill set. (Seriously. I cannot make cutout cookies. It’s the weirdest thing.) Although someday I will make a delicious pie crust. I truly believe this. Will report back on that one. Anyway, the noodles….eh. I wasn’t very precise in my sizing of the noodles, so some of them got….unwieldy, shall we say. And doughy. I did eat a meal of the chicken & homemade noodles and they were fine, but not delicious. I think I could tweak what I did and figure out how to make them better, but the better solution was to fish out my ridiculous noodles and throw in the bag of egg noodles already in my pantry. When I had that the next day in leftover form, the whole thing was yumtastic success.

And being just one person, I had enough for multiple meals, plus froze two large batches for future enjoyment.

I took a little bit from a couple of different recipes on allrecipes.com, and made a couple modifications of my own, so here’s a rough estimate of what transpired – not to suggest this is a breakthrough into some innovative culinary world of chicken & noodles.  🙂 I just figured I’d share, as long as we’re both here and maybe you now have a similar craving – save you some browsing time.

Easy chicken & noodles
Cut a whole (2-3 pound) chicken into pieces. Which I barely did – I think mine was two large pieces. That whole not wanting to handle it thing. Put the chicken pieces into a large (um, yeah) pot with four or five stalks of celery (diced), 1 onion (halved), and a handful or two of baby carrots, or chunks of carrots, or whatever shape you like your carrots to be. I really like cooked carrots, so I think next time I would use more. A lot more. Like a pound of baby carrots, if I were cooking a whole chicken again.

Pour three 32-ounce containers of chicken broth into the pot, and add salt and ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is tender and falls from bone, approximately 45 minutes to an hour.

While chicken is cooking, realize that making your own noodles is completely unnecessary and go sit down.

When the chicken is done, turn off the heat and remove the meat so it can cool for a few minutes. While it’s cooling, strain the chicken stock. Reserve the carrots and celery to go back into the pot.

Remove the skin from the chicken and pull the meat from the bones. Add the meat, carrots and celery back to the broth, and bring it to a boil. Add the noodles of your choice and cook till they’re tender and ready for eatin’. Fewer noodles = brothier and more like soup. More noodles = thicker and more like something to eat with a fork.

And as some of these dishes tend to be, this was even better the second day. Although that could have been due to Operation Noodle Replacement. And if you DO make your own noodles, I tip my hat to you. 🙂

For Lettie, my love

I have a handful of people who I claim to have stalked and forced into friendship. This might generally be a slight distortion of the facts, but I really don’t think it is when it comes to my friend Lettie, who does not get a fake blog name, because how awesome is her name and what could I possibly come up with that is half as delightful? (YAY, run-on sentences!)

Lettie and I have been working closely together on a project for a number of years (story for a different day), but in the beginning we were simply Facebook acquaintances. Until I emailed her and said, “I think we should have lunch.” She probably thought I was cuckoo, seeing as we didn’t actually know each other, but even from afar I could tell she was witty, AND she’s a librarian – swoon!

Lunch was a wee bit clumsy, seeing as we’re both kind of shy. But eventually we made it through the awkward phase into true sisterhood. We were both divorced, and although she was a single mom and I have no kids, there was lots of common ground, including the agony of dating, the loneliness of not dating, a love for community, dogs, volunteerism, charming older homes, wordplay, and general mischief.  Even though we run in different circles and have very disparate lives, she occupies a special corner in my heart.

So I was delighted when lo and behold…she met someone. And holy cats, she was on cloud nine. You could tell from the word “go” that this wasn’t just some guy; it was serious. Tony. You could almost hear the little hearts floating in the air around his name when she talked about him. I was so freakin’ happy for her.

Since my divorce I’ve maybe been a tad bit cynical about love and romance and relationships. But these two crazy kids seem like they were made for each other. Ok, so I barely know him, but I know ABOUT him, and I love him because he loves her, and because he totally acted like it was normal that when I saw them in the produce section at Fresh Market, I flung my arms around him even before introducing myself. And check this out….this weekend….they got MARRIED. Woot!

Lettie, Tony, and her (their) daughters, during the wedding. Love.

The wedding was lovely and unique and very Lettie (and, I assume, very Tony). It was a picnic at Fox Island, and they asked us to bring food and share recipes and good god, their friends can cook. Um, person who made that rice (was it rice?) & black bean & feta salad, if you’re reading this, can I have the recipe please? I brought my mom’s famous oatmeal cake. It’s fucking awesome. And while I already shared the recipe with Lettie & Tony, I’m going to share it with you also, in honor of them. I have no idea where my mom got this recipe. As far as I’m concerned, it originated with her. I know some people keep their kick ass recipes secret, but the world needs oatmeal cake, and I can’t possibly make it for all y’all.  Eat it in good health.

Oatmeal Cake
This is a delicious, moist, dense cake, maybe somewhat similar in nature to a carrot cake. (I don’t actually like carrot cake, so I don’t really know. But I feel like I’ve heard that comparison before.) Also, good news, it’s made with OATMEAL (hence, the name) so you can totally justify eating it for breakfast. It’s DELICIOUS and a crowd pleaser, so don’t be put off if you’re one of those people who thinks oatmeal cake sounds weird. I promise you’ll like it, and if you don’t, may I please have your piece? And it’s totally easy. I promise that, too.

Boil 1.5 cups of water, pour it over 1 cup of quick oats, and let it stand for 20 minutes. While it’s standing quietly off to the side, you can get everything else ready. Ooh, and maybe you should preheat the oven, too: 350 degrees.

Combine and add to the oats mixture ½ cup margarine or butter (softened), 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, and 2 eggs. Add 1-1/3 cups flour, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. That’s it! Ta da! I told you it was easy!

Pour the batter into a greased & floured 9” x 13” pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Note: if you use a glass pan, bake at 325.)
Let the cake cool in the pan for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to finish cooling on wire rack. Side note, mine broke when it came out of the pan – grr. So maybe let it cool a little longer in the pan than I said above. Fortunately, the frosting functions like glue.  

When cake has cooled thoroughly, frost the crap out of it with the following. People will fight for the corner pieces.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Let one stick of margarine or butter and one 8-ounce package of cream cheese soften. (Do NOT use reduced fat or fat free cream cheese wannabes, as they won’t work – the frosting will slide off the cake. I have tried.)

Cream together the softened butter & cream cheese. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and approximately 1 box of powdered sugar, until the frosting is the right consistency. How do you know what is the right consistency? I mean, you’ve never made it. Right. Ok, thick, but still spreadable. Jesus, that sounds dirty. I’ll work on this section. How about….when the frosting tastes delicious and doesn’t slide off the spatula, it’s ready.

Gently cover the cooled cake with a liberal layer of the good stuff. If you’re so inclined, make pretty swirls on the top.

You will likely have a fair amount of extra frosting. I recommend saving it to eat later on graham crackers. Or a spoon.

I store it in the fridge because of the cream cheese. That is a partial-truth. I store it in the fridge because my mom stores it in the fridge. Presumably because of the cream cheese. It also freezes well. If you somehow have some leftover.

And now, please raise your forks to my friends.  Lettie & Tony, I wish you much love and happiness, with heaps and heaps of laughter. I love you guys!

Ready to eat!

p.s. They ate the entire cake at the reception. Success!