Saturday, November 05, 2005

I love all things pumpkin-flavored. Pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin beer, pumpkin pie and apparently there is pumpkin ice cream. I have had pumpkin pie ice cream, and it is delightful. I love the midwest's pumpkin-ness. I can't think of anything pumpkin-flavored that I don't like, actually. I'm sure something exists, but I have not yet found it.

I made pumpkin muffins this week, and they're just awesome. It's a Weight Watchers light recipe, but I modified it a bit. All you do is take a box of spice cake mix, add a can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) and bake. Only those are too sticky, so I added an egg and a cup of water, and the muffins came out beautifully. I have been hoarding them to myself all week, but I did allow my fiance to eat some when he came to visit. Aren't I generous?

Happy fall, everyone.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

There was no cooking this week, but there was an adventure in eating, which is about as good.

My friend Tina is Chinese, and she'd promised ages ago to cook some proper Chinese food for us. So last week, she did.

She made ribs and a celery salad with peanut oil and red peppers, a soup with cabbage and what I think was bok choy, pickled radishes, onions stirfried with pepper sauce and beef tips, and a spicy cabbage dish.

It was all delicious. I wish I knew how to make it for myself!

Another friend brought homemade corn tortillas with cheese and really yummy beans. Didn't match the theme, but it was excellent.

After dinner we had Chinese tea and conversation. A lovely evening all around.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Last week, some friends decided to host a potluck. They had to borrow someone else's house to do it, but it still counts as hosting, right?

Since they're both Latino, they decided to go with a theme. There was all kinds of good food: enchilada casserole, arroz con pollo, excellent guacamole, salad (of course), and pie for dessert. Apple. Not terribly Latino, but yummy all the same.

I made cornbread, a new thing for me.

It was so easy. So good, and so easy. I made a really easy recipe from How to Cook Everything, but this Food Network recipe is really pretty close to what I made.

Of course, it's me, so it can never really be all that easy.

There was no buttermilk at the Wal-Mart near my house. None to be had. Now, I know you can use milk, or sour milk with vinegar, but I thought, hey, let's try something a little different: yogurt. Biscuits made with yogurt are excellent, so how bad can cornbread be?

Not bad at all. A little less sweet than I'm used to, but good. I threw some cumin in, to give it some punch, and it all turned out nicely. I made two pans, muffins and just bread, and the muffins cooked better. I have the worst oven in the world, so it took about an hour instead of the 20 minutes the recipe promised, and the pan bread was still undercooked, but the muffins were perfect.

So now I have another side to add to my repertoire. It's good stuff.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Belated post, due to company in town.

Two weeks ago, I went apple picking at Huffstutter Orchards, near New Franklin, with a friend. We had quite the adventure, tasting every tree to find the best apples possible. I also had to keep my friend safe from two enthusiastic orchard dogs - she's not a fan.

We picked Jonathans, mostly. I'm just not a fan of Golden Delicious apples and the Red Delicious at the farm were just not that great. The Jonathans were spectacular, though.

That night, we made two things: A main course, and dessert. My comments are in red.
Main Course
Chicken Sauteed with Apples
Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 firm apple, cored, halved cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 cup apple juice
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp dijon mustard

Place each chicken breat half between two sheets of wax paper, pound with meat mallet until 3/4 inch thick. I didn't do this, and I never have. I cut the chicken into chunks as it cooks.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sautee chicken until golden (13 minutes on either side). Add apple slices, apple juice, onion, garlic, thyme, salt. Cover and simmer 6-8 minutes or until chicken is fork tender. Remove chicken, apple slices and onion to a serving platter; keep warm.

Bring sauce to boil for about 5 minutes or until slightly reduced. Whisk in mustard, pour over chicken and serve. The first time I made this, the day of the apple picking, I didn't bring mustard, so we skipped this part. The second time, I just mixed the mustard in with all the other stuff and it was fine.

Dessert
Apple Crisp

It was all awesome.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The red beans and rice turned out really well. I didn't find smoked ham, and I went all kinds of absent minded and put my green pepper in the cupboard rather than the fridge, and found it yesterday when I was looking for cereal.

Yes, I did. I really, really did. The pepper was shriveled and pathetic. I felt horribly guilty.

I substituted carrots, which I had on hand, for the pepper, and mixed wild rice into the first batch of white rice I ate. It was cooked and needed to be eaten.

The andouille sausage from the Root Cellar was awesome. I had to buy it in ten minutes, since the store closed at 5 on Friday and I showed up at 4:50. I'm definitely going to have to go poke around some more this week.

I fed it to a friend this weekend. He's from the Gulf Coast, so when he told me it was good, I was terribly pleased with myself.

Of course, he was also incredibly intoxicated, and at that point of the evening, would have eaten anything and not noticed if it sucked, but I'm trying to look on the bright side. Even if he did have to add a lot of Tabasco to make it spicy enough. I'm a lightweight when it comes to spice, I know.

Still, it came out well and made lovely drunk-food. I'll definitely be making it again.

If you'll excuse me, I've got to go retrieve some grapes from the dishwasher.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Slate.com article called A confederacy of lunches has inspired me to cook red beans and rice. The recipe the article links to helps, as the writer has passion for this dish.

Passion is always a good thing when it comes to food. It adds something indefinable and crucial to the finished product.

Anyway. My mission for today: Find yummy bread and yummy sausage, but also get to the proper grocery store and buy the real every day food that I am entirely out of. Fun, fun.

Tomorrow, though, I'll get to cook, and that's always good.