Saturday, February 5, 2011

you can't make this stuff up

So, somewhere along the way, I was surfing the internet and ran across a mention of a Nutella Bacon Sandwich.

My instinctive reaction was, "That's it, internet. This time, you have gone too far."

I was a little squeebed out at the idea - pork products and chocolate don't automatically seem like two great tastes that would taste great together. But, you know... it's World Nutella Day, and as such, anything goes. Not to mention the fact that The Internet Is Never Wrong. Right?

I made the sandwich. (You don't really need me to post a recipe for this, do you?)

It was sweet. And salty. Smoky. And chocolaty. And it made me realize that if bacon and Nutella is wrong, then I don't wanna be right.

As always, thanks to Ms. Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso for organizing the 5th Annual (!) World Nutella Day, and working to bring a little more peace, love, and chocolaty hazelnut goodness on earth.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Sunday

Today's menu:

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Shrimp with Creole Sauce
Pecan Pie

Any guesses as to who we're rooting for? ;-)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

let them eat science.

In our family, we have a long and proud tradition of Educational Interpretation Through the Visual Medium of Cake. Cake has scored in, among other things, the subjects of Geography (our state map, complete with major rivers and cities) and Science (Volcano model, complete with stratographic layers and bright red frosting lava). Our cake projects ROCK.

There is an equally proud tradition of Educational Interpretation Through Lego Scenes. I have lost track of the number of lego scenes Son #2 has created, usually in response to reading that we've done together. Hadrian's Wall, The Fall of Troy and Little House on the Prairie are three that come to mind, but there have been many, many more.

So - when you can combine these two visual mediums into one brilliant Educational Interpretation? People, it goes beyond mind-boggling.

Behold, I present to you: The Apollo 11 Moon Landing, in Lego and Cake.

The LEM (Lunar Exploration Module, for those of you following along at home who may not have been as completely steeped in NASA nuttiness as we have around here) was an original creation by Son #2.

Neil and Buzz were created by Son #1. Son #2 found an American flag and arranged the scene on the cake. Notice that Buzz is saluting the flag. Also, it appears that there is more moisture on the lunar surface than was first assumed.

(Cake and frosting, courtesy of mom.)

The Eagle has officially landed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

now with pictures!

No I am not avoiding going back to work. You just keep those kinds of mean-spirited thoughts to yourself.

This is what twenty oven-roasted chicken breasts look like.

Note to self: Next time, triple the amount of breading mix in the Baked Chicken Nuggets.

The kitchen has reached Yellow Alert Level.

OAMC, day 394

Okay, it's only day 4. But it feels longer than that.

Yesterday: got the mac and cheese done; I managed to get 3 dinners worth out of a double recipe instead of two, so we ate one and still had two to freeze.

Finally (!) shopped for all the other ingredients. Found a great deal on a boneless half pork loin, so I bought it and am trying to figure out how to work it into The Plan.

Today so far:

Cooked and shredded chicken for the enchiladas.

Made balsamic marinade in two ziploc freezer bags, added 4 boneless skinless breasts to each bag, put in freezer.

Got to work on the Crock Pot Italian Chicken. This is a new recipe for me. I chunked up about 10 chicken breasts, browned them in my biggest skillet, took them out of the skillet and began to add the remaining ingredients back in, and only then realized that I did not have the two italian dressing mix packets that the recipe calls for. Sigh.

Went to Recipezaar to find a homemade italian dressing mix substitute; I had more than 3/4 of the ingredients called for, so, it's a go! All those other ingredients are just overrated, anyhow.

Made homemade italian dressing mix. Wow. That's a LOT of seasoned salt.

Got back to dumping everything in the skillet. Thankfully the recipe calls for 2/3 of a cup of white wine, so I was able to test out the bottle to confirm that it would taste good in the sauce.

What? It's lunchtime. Shut up.

The freezing/cooking directions for this recipe call for the chicken in sauce to be frozen, thawed on serving day and put in the crock pot for 6 hours. Looking at the ready-for-freezing stuff in my skillet, there is no way this recipe needs to be cooked that long; the chicken would be Wooden Nuggets of Hell by then. I think I will vary the serving day instructions and just pop it in a casserole and bake it for 30 minutes instead. It does taste good; I was concerned it would be too salty, but nope! Poifect!

Boy, that doesn't seem like I've accomplished much. Hopefully by the end of the day I will have a more impressive list of things to report.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

liveblogging (sort of) a OAMC session

In the past, I have relied on Once A Month Cooking to stretch both our budget and my sanity. I had gotten away from it this past year, but lately have been feeling a pressing need to get a bunch of food put into the freezer. Call it a control freak thing.

I don't usually have marathon, get-it-done-in-one-day cooking sessions, because as stated, this is a process meant to enhance my sanity, not release it unharmed into the wild. I generally do prep work and cooking over the course of several days, and suddenly, voila! At the end of a short week, I've got a months' worth of food in the freezer.

My strategy is to pick out 15-18 meals and make a double batch of each. This gets us plenty of food for dinners, as well as some hot lunches, since the Hungry Boys and I are at home every day, and feeding them a bowl of chili gets them back to work much sooner than having them make a sandwich, eat it, sit down with a book, decide 15 minutes later they're still hungry, watch them get up and grab a yogurt, eat it, sit back down with the book, decide 15 minutes later they're still hungry, etc etc. It's either make extra chili, or have them home with me until they are 30, still working on that high school graduation in between sandwiches and yogurt cups. I love them, but not that much.

Most of what I've got on this month's menu is comfort food. It's what freezes well and what my family eats. My guess is that if you're a militant vegan who wants to argue this point with me, you'll actually be a lot happier at someone else's blog.

Some months, I do a rigorous cost analysis before I start cooking; this month is not one of those months. Mostly I want to get back in the groove and save myself time. Which is not to say that we're eating a lot of beer-battered filet mignon, but I'm not worrying about tracking every penny. I will sit down with receipts at the end of the cooking spree and figure out what I've spent.

So! Here's what is on the menu:

ABC Chili
Individual Cheeseburger Meatloaves
Not Chili*
Sloppy Joes
Bacon Cheeseburgers
Phyllo Wrapped Chicken Breasts
Chicken Divan
White Chicken Enchiladas
Crock Pot Italian Chicken
Balsamic Marinated Chicken Breasts
Chicken Pot Pie
Parsley Parmesan Chicken
Marinara Sauce
Macaroni and Cheese
Cheddar Broccoli Soup
Individual Pizza Crusts (for lunches)
Taco Roll Ups

* somewhere back in the 1990's, I was given a chili recipe to make to contribute to our church's annual soup supper. It is a happy, bland little Midwestern chili, with a tomato soup base. My husband took the recipe as a personal affront, and declared, "That's not chili!" No, but it's a happy, bland little Midwestern tomato soup-based hamburger soup, and as it goes it's not bad. It's earned a name and a permanent place in our happy, bland little Midwestern repertoire.

Here's what I've done so far:

-shopped for my Costco items, which this month was 48 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (so far - I need to go back and get more), 20 pounds of hamburger, a 5 pound bag of shredded cheddar cheese and 64 oz of half and half, most of which is actually for my coffee.

-browned, drained and cooled 12 pounds of hamburger.

-roasted 12 chicken breasts for pot pie.

-made up 12 individual cheeseburger meatloaves, which is four more than I was expecting to get from the recipe, probably because in my unbridled enthusiasm I dumped all 4 cups of cheese into the bowl instead of reading carefully and realizing that 2 cups of that are to be held out to sprinkle over the loaves at the end of baking. Sigh. So, I've got three meals instead of two but the loaves will probably laugh at me as they ooze and fall apart on the baking sheet. C'est la vie.

Yet today I need to: dice chicken for pot pie, cook, cool and dice another 8 breasts for Chicken Divan, make and freeze (uncooked) bacon cheeseburgers, and make a single batch of Chicken Enchiladas which is for tonight's dinner.

Tomorrow I'm going to take stock of what I already have in the house and what needs to be purchased at the store, make a list and head out to get the rest of the groceries; then I will finish up and get everything in the freezer. I know it should have been done already since I've got chicken breasts sitting in the fridge, but a) I'm busy, ergo the need to have pre-prepared meals in the first place, and b) they're vacuum packed so I'm not as worried about them. If we all needlessly die a gruesome, botulism-induced death, you can feel free to think, "See, I knew that would happen."

I do want to post the recipes for all of these dishes; I just have to figure out how to do that efficiently. That's a task for another day, I think...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fear and Popcorn

The other evening I was home alone with the boys, because the Hubster had to pull an overnight shift doing whatever it is he does in his highly technical job. (Some IT infrastructure mumbledy-jumble thingamabob.) Honestly, he tries to explain the specifics to me, but it's so hyper-jargoned, not to mention warp speed light years beyond my ability to comprehend, that the only defense mechanism I have is to smile and nod until he leaves the room.

But I digress. He was gone for the evening, and so The Adolescents and I popped some popcorn and sat down to watch an enriching evening of television: The MacNeill-Lehrer News Hour, Washington Week - it was all so informative and enlightening. It's important stay abreast of current affairs and remain politically astute.

What? WHAT??

Okay, FINE. We spent the evening watching truTV. Cops, Most Shocking, Forensic Files. Hey. It's kinda like current affairs.

Shut. Up.

Here's a hint for those members of the audience who are perhaps more paranoiacally inclined, and suffer from Chronic Worrywart Syndrome. (Not that I understand these things personally.)

If, in the course of events, your husband is going to be gone for the night and you will be alone in a dark and creaky house, it is not generally wise to watch, right before bed, several episodes of Forensic Files which all involve women being brutally beaten to death in their homes. It tends to make the imagination, shall we say, wander.

He finally returned home at around 2:30 am. At which point, I slept like a baby. It's so wrong of me to think, "oh good, now all the axe murderers are HIS problem." But, I kinda can't help myself.

Perhaps this is a signal from the universe that it's time to take martial arts classes.