Friday, January 26, 2007

Photos and Ramblings
(no food here)

I'm sitting at my kitchen table, listening to Pink Floyd's "Wish you were here," while watching a cardinal perch itself at my birdfeeder in the backyard. I got pretty badly sunburned last night while tanning, because I took the advice of the incredibly stupid clerk who said, "Yeah, 15 will be FINE!" Needless to say, I can feel my cheeks burning (as well as my legs and back!)

It's funny, I went from being incredibly lonely, to having a full social calendar with friends that are more genuine than I could begin to describe. It's amazing to finally meet people who are so much like me; quirky, fun, even a bit depressed at moments that are acceptable, maybe even a little wierd. We all kind of bond on a level that I've never experienced before, and I have never enjoyed being a mommy more. Thank you ladies!!

I have no big foodie entries to post, because my entire family just got over the most AGONIZING stomach flu. I'm keeping it really simple this week, and cooking mostly with already-made-by-someone-else-and-frozen-meals. Eh, I'd bet ya even RR takes a break from the gourmet 30-minute meal cooking itinerary.

Anyway, I will leave you with a few more pictures I've taken of the munchkin over the last few weeks. Enjoy!

Friday, January 12, 2007

And we call it..."Chicken and Rice Love."

This is a standard dish that I make often, and love very much. Sometimes the ingredients change, depending on my mood, but it always contains some sort of spanish-sounding rice (yellow or garlic herb) and Goya's "Mojo Criollo" marinade. When I cook the rice, I substitute this very thin liquid spice for some of the water, and the dish comes out slightly spicy, slightly citrusy, and always yummy. The rest is just a mixture of veggies I have on hand, and usually chicken. I love beans in my rice, and I use the Goya brand "small red beans." These are smaller than your average kidney bean, and the shell is much thinner. If you want the full recipe, let me know and I'll provide it. To be honest, everything is eyeballed, so I don't really have a "recipe" to begin with. Ha! The joy of cooking without a safety net... :)

These are some random shots I took while making homemade organic caffeine-free iced tea. (say THAT ten times fast!) I have an aunt that buys me big variety packs of tea every year for Christmas, which is lovely. However, I am the only tea drinker in my house, and even if I were to drink a cup of tea everyday I would STILL have leftovers by next Christmas.

So I decided to make iced tea yesterday. I mixed a few different flavors, which was ballsy I know. *grin* It turned out pretty decent, although I have secured the idea that I really dislike chamomile tea. It tastes like...dried mushed up flowers. And that's just gross...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Orange Cranberry-Fooeey
(or slightly below average muffins)

My family, God love them, are a strange bunch. For Christmas this year, my grandma decided to split a case of oranges among all the children. Now here's the thing, my hubby hates fruit. So I tried my damnest to eat the 20+ oranges that were handed to me a day before Christmas, but alas, there were 6 or so leftover that were slowly rotting on my counter, and I felt REALLY guilty about that. I could not stuff another orange in my mouth, and one can only drink so many screwdrivers. So I set to work looking for a recipe for some sort of delicious dessert that would use the remainder of the citrus hogging up my cooking space.

Every recipe I found called for orange peel, which I really despise in food, so I searched, and searched, and SEARCHED. Finally, I found a recipe for cranberry orange muffins (which are one of my favorites), and I set to work. I juiced all the oranges, and I dug out a bag of dried cranberries, and I giggled as I clicked the beater into place on my new Kitchenaid mixer. (the crimson one , of course)

The recipe called for whole wheat flour, which I think is where things started to go South. I'm new to whole wheat flour, and the kind I have is very grainy in texture. To be honest, I'm not really thrilled about baking at all, because the measurements have to be so precise. I'm the kind of girl that half measures everything, and stops when the color and/or taste look good. With baking, everything tastes like semi-sweet floury ass before it's baked, so I'm screwed where taste is concerned.

I decided to add more cranberries, because the mixture looked bland, so as you'll notice in the photos, there are a ton of little cranberry jewels falling out of the muffins. The muffins didn't rise the way I thought they would, but I'm not sure if it was the muffin, or the new silicone bakeware I used for the first time. Whatever the reason, I was not impressed. I also made a few little loaves of muffin bread, while more appealing to the eye, they are a little bland and grainy in taste-just like the muffins.

I decided not to post the recipe, as I'm afraid someone will look at the pictures and try to duplicate my attempt. I assure you it would be a waste of good citrus. You may be wondering, if the muffins were this bad of an experience, why write about them? The truth is, I hate baking. And I'm also not so great about using up leftovers before they spoil. I am really proud of myself for stepping out of my stove-top comfort zone, and trying something different. Because of that, I believe it deserves a post and some grainy-ass photos to go with it. If you've suffered this entire post, I'm sorry. I will attempt to make it up to you in the coming months with cooking tips and yummy recipes, adapted from the slew of cookbooks I have acquired over the last two years. I hope everyone had a lovely New Year's, and thanks for tuning in. :)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

"While the merry bells keep ringing, happy holidays to you..."

Wow, what a year! I know people typically talk about being thankful around Thanksgiving, but I was never one for tradition where being grateful is concerned. The picture to your left is my nine month old bundle of joy...affectionately referred to as, "little man," his proper name being Thomas. This little guy has very quickly become the center of my world, and life has never been so sweet. I've never been overly fond of the holidays, but having a child really does change the outlook. I went completely overboard gift-wise this year, singing my way through stores (when others were grumbling) and baking my ass off. (100 dozen cookies and counting...) My sister-in-law and her beau stayed with us for a few days, and we each made our own gingerbread houses. The pictures of mine are located below.

My in-laws came from South Carolina to spend the holiday with us, and I ended up cooking for 10 people on Christmas. I have never been so content as I was running around the kitchen hollering things like, "Does this stuff look too wet to you?" I cooked the turkey with marinated root veggies underneath, which seasoned the bird to PERFECTION. Have you ever had a turkey that you didn't have to either drown in gravy or salt to death? Yeah well, this one was rockin'! We also had a boneless ham that was cooked with a pineapple core and brown sugar nestled in the middle, and homemade sweet potatoes. Not to mention the regulars...mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, corn, etc. I even had homemade pear and mango jam for the warm rolls. The entire meal turned out fabulous, and I spent the evening beaming from all the compliments. Eat your heart out Rachael Ray...

Friday, November 03, 2006

My love for all things "Yum-O!"

So for my anniversary, my hubby bought me the "Rachael Ray 365 meals-no repeats!" cookbook, which I have been wanting for MONTHS. I am all of a sudden addicted to Rachael Ray, and her whimsical outlook on cooking. I have stopped using measuring equipment, and instead tell people, "twice around the pan" for the ingredient amounts. Her cookbook is so user-friendly, with a little tab on the end of the pages that says, "It's a keeper!" and "Maybe Later..." I write on the bottom of the pages the changes I made to the recipe, and whether they worked or not. I am in-love with a cookbook, and cannot seem to put it down.

Last night I made a sloppy chicken joe that was baked on top of fresh cornbread. The hubby was so impressed, he said, "Man, that Rachael Ray really knows what she's doing..." which made me beam. Making dinner has never been so fun for me!

Above: Multi-grain pancakes that were oh so yummy.

Below: The spiced pear jam that I SLAVED over last weekend.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I have been busy. I mean, really busy. Since the baby, my life has been rather slow and uneventful, (other than watching the little one hit milestones) but as of late the munchkin is rather entertaining, and we have been doing the "friends with children" party scene. So much so, that I am rather burned out. I am declining invitations left and right for previous engagements, and all I really want to do is sit on my butt and watch a movie. Hence why I haven't been updating. I made a really yummy spiced pear jam yesterday, but didn't take any photos of the process. I am planning to make concord grape freezer jam today, and am rather excited for the outcome. I will certainly let you know how I fair. :)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Summer Beauties-Frozen Style

You know, I never realized just how heavily I lean on canned tomatoes until recently. I was making a random pasta dish, went to the pantry and (GASP!) I was out of tomatoes. I try to keep fresh on hand, but I'm sure you will understand that logic is not always feasible-especially in the winter time. The recipe below will allow you to have fresh tomatoes all year long. I had recently stumbled upon an article explaining the art of freezing fresh tomatoes to be just as friendly as the canned variety, only BETTER. So I rushed out and bought a few tomatoes, and set to work. The idea behind freezing them in ice cube trays (as you'll see below) is that you can add as many individual cubes to your dish as needed, which is much better than wasting part of a can. The following photos are my first attempt at creating frozen "canned" tomatoes with garlic.

Step 1: Blanch the tomato in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds.

Step 2: Peel off skin and chop roughly. Add tomato chunk and fresh garlic to food processor.

Step 3: Puree to desired thickness. (I chopped a little more finely than the canned variety.)

Step 4: Pour into ice cube trays.