Saturday, September 12, 2009

Boeuf Bourguignon

Foul-mouthed Julie Powell has nothing on me.... well, at least on Boeuf Bourguignon anway. I tried this recipe today. Yep.... it pretty much took the whole day. I'm sure someone more efficient in the kitchen could have smoothed their way through it in less time, but I had fun.

I should probably mention that I have no intention of cooking my way through "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" as Julie Powell did. Nor do I need to find myself. I already know who I am. I feel a bit defensive about Julia Child. Like, "I knew who Julia Child was before that darn book or movie came out. And I am not cooking because of either!" In my defense, I did already know who Julia Child was before "Julie and Julia" came out. In fact, I had already read her autobiography. I remember watching a bit of a show here and there when I was at my aunt's house. I found her funny even then. I have also made Soupe A L'Onion (forgive the absence of accent marks as I do not yet know how to add them on here). This was simply the best onion soup I had ever had. Period. David and I had both been a bit dubious as neither of us likes raw onions or the overabundance of cooked onions. But this onion soup was to die for!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fresh Fruit Pizza

I thought I would try to make a semi-healthy dessert though I'm not sure it counts if you add sweetened-condensed milk and chocolate. But I did use fresh fruit (and canned mandarin oranges) and the chocolate was organic and above 70% cocoa. Does that count? I used way too much fruit. One thing I really hate about recipes is that they tell you for example on this one.... I was supposed to have 3 cups of crushed pretzels and 7-8 cups of fruit. Okay.... exactly HOW am I supposed to have a clue how many bags of pretzels I need to make 3 cups of crushed pretzels? AND how am I supposed to know how many cut grapes makes a cup or how many plums I need to make a cup....? Seriously? Just a clue please........

Oh... and just a tip....drain the fruit after you've cut it up and put it in a bowl together. Otherwise, you might end up with fruit juice leaking over the edge of the pan like mine did!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The fish stick critic.....

Our 8 year-old food critic thought the fish sticks I made were "okay." Since he only ate three of them, I have used my deductive skills to conclude that he didn't really like them but had the good sense to be polite. He's learning the man answer early. You know the one. It's what you get when you ask a man how those shoes go with this dress or if he likes your new 'do. He says whatever he thinks you want to hear. I'm so glad David at least makes an attempt to give me his honest opinion (bless his heart, I'm sure it's not easy). I'm not sure what other women want, but I really DO want to know if that hat looks totally hideous on me. I won't wear it and embarrass myself if it does!

Anway..... back to the food. We did manage to find the grape ice cream at the grape festival. I admit I was naively expecting this creamy homemade version made from local grapes. While I can't say for sure that it wasn't homemade and from local grapes (because I didn't watch them make it), I will say that it looked like the typical soft-serve fare that you can get at a chain restaurant. Only this was faintly purple and did have a grape-y flavor. Oh I finished it and liked it, but the lilac soft-serve wasn't quite what I'd had in mind. Oh well. I never did find those local grapes that they were selling. I saw someone walking around with them, but never saw the vendor myself. Again.... oh well. There's always next year, right?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Will homemade fish sticks hold up to 8-year-old critic?

So, I'm picking up my nephew, Noah, tommorrow after work. I've planned hot dogs for dinner that night (how many kids don't like hot dogs right?). The Tontitown Grape Festival is going on, so of course ,we will be riding all the rides the pocketbook will allow and will splurge on grape ice cream (wonder if it's very purple?). But for one meal Saturday, I'd like to make a healthy fish sticks version. I made these for David and myself one night and we LOVED them. But will an 8 year old boy? We shall see! I'm looking forward to it!

No pictures today... just links to follow...

- The fish sticks recipe I use

- Tontitown Grape Festival

Friday, July 31, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

David was craving chocolate and decided that chocolate chip cookies would be just the thing. I couldn't find the recipe my mom uses, so I adapted this recipe from the back of the Nestle's Toll House semi-sweet morsels package. And believe me, if you follow their recipe exactly, your cookies will be a lot flatter than these! The secret is to add more flour, which has been done already in the following recipe.

-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

- Combine the following in a small bowl:

3 1/4 cups of flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

- In the mixer, beat until creamy:

1 cup (2 sticks) of softened butter

3/4 cup of granulated sugar (the only granulated sugar that I had was vanilla sugar)

3/4 cup of brown sugar, packed into measuring cup

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

- Add 2 large eggs into the mixer one at a time, making sure the first is well-mixed before adding the next.

- Gradually, add the flour mixture into the mix. If you add too quickly, you get a big "pooof!" of flour flying up.

- Stir in 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Spoon the dough onto greased baking sheets, being sure to leave space between cookies for expansion. I know some people like to use a small ice cream scoop to put the dough onto the cookie sheet so that they're more uniform, but I really like using a spoon and scraping the dough off with my finger. For whatever reason, it makes me feel like they're more homemade.

- Once they're on the sheet, slide them in the preheated oven and let them bake for 9-11 minutes or until they're golden brown. Let them cool completely on wire racks ...... or eat them warm .... whatever!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip

I don't remember eating much spinach growing up, mostly collard or turnip greens. I'm not sure how that happened since I grew up right next to the self-proclaimed "Spinach Capital of the World."

I recently attended a barbeque and I'd been asked to bring chips and dip along. I thought it might be nice to make the dip instead of simply mix together something like sour cream and onion soup mix. I found a spinach dip recipe in The Best of Southern Living Cookbook. It was so easy to make (even so, I admit my boyfriend David helped due to time constraints). The recipe that follows is an adaptation:

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

-2 (1o oz) packages of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained very well. Try squeezing in cheesecloth or a clean lint-free towel..... I found that papertowels stick to the spinach in a very unhelpful way.

-2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, cubed

-2 cups (8 oz) of shredded Monterey Jack cheese

- 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

- 1 small onion, chopped

- 1 (14 oz) can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

- 2 (10 oz) cans of diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained

- 2 teapsoons of ground cumin

- 2 teaspoons of chili powder

- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder

I tossed all the ingedients into a large bowl and mixed thoroughly with my hands (don't worry; you can use a spoon if you want). The recipe wanted me to use a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.... but I only had a 2 quart baking dish and a small Corningware dish. Both of those were greased of course. I popped both dishes into the preheated oven and left it to bake for 30 minutes. By this time, the dip was bubbly around the edges. The smell which filled my apartment was so enticing that David and I tried the dip before leaving for the party. Oh Yum!

It was a great get-together. Everyone dug into the dip with tortilla chips while we waited for the smoked ribs to finish. When everything was done, we had fabulous food all around and I got to pass my recipe on to two other people.