Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Know Nice People

I was at work this morning, and the wife of one of the guys I work with calls and says "Hey Julie, I've got a table and chairs I can't use anymore, do you want it?" I say "sounds interesting, how much do you want for it?" "Nothing", she says. Hmm...that's exactly how much I have!
(you're not looking at my dirty carpet are you?)
Of course I want it...for a couple of reasons:
#1. I have some weird inability to turn down almost any free item offered to me.
#2. While my dining table is A-OK, my second hand chairs that we've been using almost eight years have had just about enough of my posterior region sitting on them.
So I was only working a half day today anyway, so after work, I fly over to her house to take a peek at them, and thought they were great! I think the chairs weigh about 300 pounds each!

I love this design in the backs of the chairs.

While I'd love to pay them in a ton of money, I hope they'll settle for scones and many happy thanks!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Black Bottom Cupcakes

I'm not black bottom one word? Should I have ran that together? When I'm tired, questions like these haunt me.

One thing's for sure...hula girl thought they were hula-licious! (I know, I'm's the fatigue.)

Found the recipe at Joy of Baking. It's pretty simple really. Although in her picture she gets the cream cheese filling deeper into the center than I did. I imagine it still tastes the same.

Here's how to make 'em:

Cream Cheese Filling: 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 1/3 cup sugar 1 large egg 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin pan or spray with non stick spray for 12 cupcakes.

Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy and smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl mix the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until nice and smooth. Evenly divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups. Then spoon a few tablespoons of the cream cheese filling into the center of each cupcake. Bake about 25 minutes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Barley Salad

Hope everyone has had a nice relaxing Memorial Day. We had a little family get together and grilled various and assorted meats, and I put together this unusual salad to go along with it.
I saw Alton Brown praising all things barley on one of his episodes, and this was one of the dishes he made. He is using "hulled" barley which I couldn't find. I think it is somewhat less processed than the pearl barley that I used.
You have to start with 3 1/2 to 4 cups baked barley. Alton says to combine one cup barley with one tbsp unsalted butter, tsp kosher salt and 2 cups boiling water. Cover very tightly and bake at 375 for 1 hour. Remove cover and fluff with a fork. (apparently this step is very important...don't skip it or he will hunt you down like a dawg!) Picky girl child actually liked is!
The dressing is easy enough. It's 3 tbsp of fresh orange juice with a little kosher salt and 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil. (I think for kicks a splash of some sort of vinegar would be great in there too).
Next combine the barley with: 1 small head of chopped fennel, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 4 slices crumbled (cooked) bacon, 2 tbsp fresh parsley, and fresh ground black pepper.
Combine it all with the dressing, and refrigerate about 1 hour.

I really enjoyed this dish, and thought it was a nice change from the usual pasta salad. Would definitely try it again!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Skillet Pizza

I saw this recipe at Mommy's Kitchen and really wanted to give it a try. It actually makes enough for 3 crusts (I made one big and one little). I put the leftover crust in the freezer to try another time. Not sure how that will work out.

I thought they browned up nicely in the iron skillets and the texture and thickness of the dough was quite lovely. It's a filling meal that comes together pretty quickly. I'm wishing I had some more right now!

Here's the recipe: 1 - 14 oz Jar Pizza Sauce 8 - 12 0z Bag Shredded Mozzarella Cheese Pizza Toppings of your choice Dough Recipe: 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water 1 - pkg Dry Yeast 1 - tsp Salt (I would put a touch more next time) 3 - Cups Flour 3 Tablespoons Melted Shortening 1 - tsp Sugar Dissolve yeast in warm water with salt and sugar. Add 2 cups of flour.. beat well. Add melted Crisco. Mix well add another cup of flour and knead on a well floured surface. Place the dough in a oiled bowl and let rest for 30 minutes. Divide dough and place in two well greased iron skillets. Add sauce and any pizza toppings of your choice and top with cheese. Put in hot oven (450 degrees) and bake until brown, about 15 minutes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cheesy Beer Bread

This is just a little something I threw together on a whim. if! Actually I saw this at Brown Eyed Baker a few weeks ago and have had it in the back of my mind ever since. So today I brought it to the front of my mind and eventually out of my oven. (Hope that wasn't too graphic)
This is a quick bread so there's no yeast, or waiting for the dough to rise. Even thought that sounds pretty simple I managed to make a mess throughout the entire kitchen....fortunately my kitchen is pretty small.
I followed her recipe pretty closely, except I used regular cheddar instead of white cheddar. Didn't want to pay more for cheese with less color. Makes total sense if you ask me.
It was so yummy right out of the oven while the cheese was still all gooey and warm, and big pat of real butter melting right on top. It was perfect paired with that sauerkraut and kielbasa I made in the crock pot. (Yeah, I couldn't help thinking of Donna when I made that.)

It makes two giant loaves, so the people at work are in for a treat tomorrow!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Root Beer Float Cake

As promised....
I suppose it could be "orange soda float cake" or "raspberry soda float cake" or whatever. I got this one from my "Just Like Mom Made" cookbook. Here's the recipe.

1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix 1 1/4 cups root beer 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 eggs 1 (1.3 ounce) envelope whipped topping mix 1/2 cup root beer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, 1 1/4 cup root beer, oil, and eggs. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool. To make the frosting: In a large mixing bowl, combine the whipped topping mix and 1/2 cup root beer. Beat until soft peaks form. Spread on top of cake.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quorn Chik'n Cutlets

A few days ago I got a nice surprise on my doorstep....a free sample of Quorn's chik'n cutlets mailed to me in this way cool little cooler with a radio stuck right on the front of it!
I had seen Quorn products in the frozen section with the other meatless products but never really thought much about trying any of it. In fact, from it's name I would have assumed it was made out of corn. But no, it's made out of something called mycoprotein which is fungi-related. So maybe in a way it's mushroomy? I'm not sure.
I've had a veggie burger or two (but not much more) in my time, and I don't hate them. So I was interested to try this.
According to the box, they can be prepared right from their frozen state, so that's what I did. I just pan seared them in a little oil for about 10 minutes, flipping them over a couple of times. I had a little grill seasoning I sprinkled on them as well. They are "naked" so you can dress them up anyway you want.
I then sliced them into strips to eat with my salad.
So my review? They've got a nice texture, definitely easy to prepare. The flavor is not chicken-ish, but not bad. It kept reminding me of something but I'm not sure what. Maybe some sort of roasted veggie...just a hint of sweet.
So if you're looking to cut down on meat intake and want to try a meatless product, I'd say give this one a try.
Next up: root beer float cake. P.S.  If you'd like to see something that is NOT a quorn burger, go here.  Even though she snickered at me.

Monday, May 11, 2009

White Chicken Chili

It's already over 100 degrees here in the valley of the sun. My husband got a nasty sunburn and I scorched my hands on the steering wheel. What better time to make soup?
That's our camel, Buford. He loves soup. Some members of our household who shall remain nameless (girl child) have a serious need of more fiber in their diet. She, um, I mean the nameless family member recently decided that beans are edible so I was looking for a way to fix some up.

This is Cha Cha's White Chicken Chili. I found the recipe at AllRecipes. I'm not sure who this Cha Cha person is, but I like their recipe.

Here's the recipe for ya. I toned the jalapenos down a bit, and used canellini's for the beans. Otherwise, pretty much did exactly as it says.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, crushed 1 (4 ounce) can diced jalapeno peppers 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth 3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast 3 (15 ounce) cans white beans 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

DIRECTIONS Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Slowly cook and stir the onion until tender. Mix in the garlic, jalapeno, green chile peppers, cumin, oregano and cayenne. Continue to cook and stir the mixture until tender, about 3 minutes. Mix in the chicken broth, chicken and white beans. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the mixture from heat. Slowly stir in the cheese until melted. Serve warm.

We enjoyed it with the tortilla chips but some cheesy cornbread would have hit the spot too.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Potato-Crusted Quiche with Smoked Cheddar and Canadian Bacon

This is my first ever quiche. At least the first one I've made, I'm sure I've eaten a few. I found this recipe at Epicurious and am entering it in this month's Potato Ho Down (also a first) being hosted by Cathy of the Noble Pig.
The recipe is pretty simple, as most quiches are I suppose. You start by steaming some potatoes for about 6 minutes, then lining the bottom of the pie dish with them. I was going to put some up the sides too, but I didn't prepare enough. It seemed to turn out fine anyway. I also salted and peppered the potatoes at this point, because I just wanted to.

Then I sauteed 1 cup of chopped red bell peppers and 1 cup of onions with some dried thyme in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the one cup of chopped Canadian bacon to the pan and just heat through. Spoon this over the potatoes.

At this point you have a mixture of 8 large eggs whisked with some salt and pepper ready to go. One cup of smoked cheddar cheese is added to this. (I had a little bit of a hard time smoking the cheddar. I rolled it up in the little papers, but when you try to light it, that stuff just melts!) Pour the egg mixture over the veggies, and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

It comes out looking like this....

And this....

I liked the potato as crust idea, it tasted very breakfast-y.

And you know I was kidding about smoking the cheese, right?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Onion Dip

I found this recipe at Closet Cooking, and had been looking for an opportunity to try it out. His recipe calls for vidalias but I couldn't find any, so I just used the regular yellow onions I already had. Seemed to turn out just fine. I thought it was really yummy, but I might leave the mayo out next time. Just make it all cream cheese and parmesan.
I spent this morning making another diaper cake for a friend at work. I wasn't feeling especially inspired, but had to get it done anyway, so this is what I came up with.