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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 13: Cold day #4 -a Tuesday breakfast

Today's a cold, cold day. School is closed for the 4th day this month. What will I do? Make delicious breakfast for myself: whole wheat pancakes.

Pancakes are simple. Whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, brown sugar, egg, and oil.

 Mix it up, put it on the griddle.

 Licking the bowl optional.

Perfectly brown on both sides.

Just a little butter and syrup for the breakfast.

Tonight we're eating out with Colin's family. 

Day 12: Monday, the great cold day.

Two big recipes today: stew, and cheesecake.

Colin loves cheesecake. He loves fruit cheesecake. I have an extra day, I'm going to make Colin a cheesecake.

The recipe from Martha Stewart.

The crust is crushed gram cracker.

 The crust is the first step. Gram cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar applied with pressure in a  9" spring-form cake pan whose bottom is wrapped with foil and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Next: Whip the room-temperature cream cheese, room-temperature eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla.

Pour into cake pan. Swirl with fruit compote.

The swirl is pureed fruit and sugar: strained.

 After swirling, place pan inside a large roasting pan, carefully pour boiling-hot water in the roasting pan to half-way up the cake pan.

Bake at 325 for ~65 minutes.

All baked. Next: The Fridge
After baking, let it cool completely to room temperature, refrigerate for 6 hours to up to overnight.

I'll update you after it gets de-panned. I'm hopeful but nervous.

The other part of the day: Stew.

It's so cold. It's good to have soup when it's cold. So we present: stew. Lots of vegetables to cut and get ready. Lots of garlic. Some salt. Lots of pepper. Lots of meat. Lots of tomatoes. Beef broth.

The slow-cooker, ready to go.
After several hours (~4 on high) the stew gets corn starch water mixed in to thicken it. Then dinner:

Tasty, but could've been more tasty.
Colin and I both prefer thicker stews with more taste, like with wine in it. I don't recommend the recipe.

Day 11: Sunday Funday

Today's Sunday:
Snow, brunch, grocery shopping, and rest. It's a cold week ahead. What are we going to do? We'll make some of the things we didn't get to last week. We'll treat ourselves to brunch out today, shop for groceries today, eat leftovers today.

The menu was planned in the breezeway of Blue's Egg on my phone while we waited for our table. This is the plan:

We didn't cook, we barely cleaned, we watched TV, played video games, and watched the Pro Bowl.

Day 10.5: Dessert

Saturdays are days of decadence and luxury sometimes. Today I wanted to make dessert. So I did. But not before we cleaned and played some Wii U Fit -Colin's new gift to the household.

Big brother, little sister.

Not going to let a sprained ankle keep me down.

The Wii U Fit is fun, this one's golf.

Vanilla mousse
The cats were no help cleaning. Arya likes to add dirt and play around while we're cleaning. The vacuum scared her and Jay onto the bed.

Afterward we played Wii U Fit. I like the golf, the serving, and the ski jump.

All the activity got me ready for dessert. A quick vanilla mousse with fresh fruit, choclate shavings and a rolled wafer cookie. Chocolate shavings are best made from good quality chocolate microwaved a little to soften it just slightly before using a vegetable peeler to create shavings. Delicious.

Day 10: Saturday morning brunch

Friday was leftovers and pizza. A nice, lazy Friday night with company.

Saturday morning, brisk and chilly. Saturday morning with a pantry low on goods. Saturday morning with a brand new pan. Today's menu, unplanned and wonderful:
  • ebelskivers (dutch spherical pancakes), 
  • scrambled eggs, and
  • ham steak.
Fun can to go with a fun pan.

 This is a time-consuming breakfast, but it's pretty fun and delicious.

Even though the mix was a great gift to get me started from my moms I'm not sure if I'll get it again. There are so many unincluded ingredients that it may be just as easy to mix it from scratch.

Arya is a perkier little baby. She loves to help.

The mix gets combined with melted butter, whipped egg whites, and milk.
A pretty mixture.
Fill each hole to almost half.

Make sure you pre-heat the pan and brush each hole with melted butter -this gives the nice exterior.

The other side.

Flip each pancake over, dumping out the un-cooked batter into the pan.

My mom used toothpicks, I used skewers, I heard that #2 knitting needles are "perfect," according to a review on

The can, the reviews, and tradition encouraged me to try fillings. I went with something I had ready in the fridge: maple butter.

The maple butter's sugars created a very crusty outside.

 I'm not sure I'd use a such a sugar-based filling next time. It didn't stay in a nice little pocket in the pancakes and the filling oozed out and was VERY hot.

I burned myself turning a pancake over, it was immediately painful but the pain subsided to be replaced with a pink and white dry blister. I think it's a pretty solid second-degree burn. No more sugar-based fillings for me unless I want a caramelized thumb.
Plain. Dusted with powdered sugar.

Oh yeah, there was other food:

I love this cutting board. It's beautiful

Happy Winter Weekend.

Day 7+8: Colin's big show: Parmesean-crusted chicken cutlets

Day 7: The meal that tastes and looks amazing:
Day 8: The meal that was just as good the next day:
Long day. Drama club makes me hungry. I come in STARVING. So time for an after-school snack because tonight's dinner is going to take a while.

Parmesan-crusted chicken cutlets don't have a lot of ingredients.

The first step is to slice each chicken breast in half lengthwise and then to bread coat them in the crust before pan frying them.

We ran out of Parmesan and hand to improvise with "farm cheese" from Colin's secret Santa

Timing everything just so. It's a drippy, messy process but the result is decadent.

While Colin got started on the chicken, I went to work on the potatoes. This recipe asked for the potatoes to be baked instead of boiled. The result was very similar to the boiled mashed potatoes I've made.

Bake, half, de-flesh and mash. That's the process here.

In some ways this baking method was easier. Prior to baking I microwaved the potatoes for a few minutes to get it started.

Halving the potatoes, while hot, was a lot faster than peeling them one on one.

While the potatoes baked, Colin cooked.

Fammie wished for tuna.

After they were complete, it was incredible.
Crispy, but not burned. Melty but not chewy.

The chicken cutlets were just perfect. This recipe was perfect and our cheese modification didn't hurt it at all.

So good.

It's great that there was enough for two dinners for two. Wednesday was delicious. Thursday was delicious.

Thursday was another late day. Colin worked late and I had fillings put in.

Days 6: Menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal cooking and meal eating

Day 6: Tuesday, January 21
Today I planned the rest of the week's meals, went grocery shopping after work and cooked a one-pot couscous meal. Wednesday-Friday of this week was a long one. Every Wednesday I stay late for Drama Club, Thursday I had fillings and Friday I'm always spent -even on a short week.

Day 7-9, Wednesday through Friday, meals were planned from Cook's Illustrated as:
 It didn't turn out quite as planned. Some things were cooked, some things weren't.We'll get to that later.

Tuesday's Dinner:
This dinner turned out really well. It was pretty quick (hangar or skirt steak both cook so quickly because they're thin) and couscous is so fine it plumps up quickly.

This recipe has lots of veggies. Fennel, carrot, lots of delicious, crisp veggies.

Finely-chopped lemons go with the veggies.

 It's refreshing, literally, to have lemon with vegetables. They have a juicy, tart flavor that adds a different dimension because of the tough rind.

Fennel, carrot, lemon, cilantro, garlic and ground red pepper

The ground red pepper, though delicious and not as spicy as red pepper flakes, dulled the color significantly and made it look monotone. 

If you might recall, the nice butcher counter guy at Cermak mistook my order for 1 pound of flank steak for 4 pounds. I was disappointed to begin with, but then I froze the extra and it was just fine. Especially when they cleaned the fat off for me.

Season the steak with salt and pepper prior to pan frying.

When it's all said and done:
Cilantro for garnish and toast as a side.

 Less blurry:
It would be more beautiful with red pepper flakes instead of ground red pepper.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Day 5: Looks Like Meat's Back on The Menu Boys (and Girls)

Let's get goin':
Today was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A time-honored day of peace and remembrance. Not to mention a day off from school for many students and teachers. The plan was: cleaning and cooking. Instead I took Arya to the vet (low appetite) and did cooking. The vet isn't as worried as Colin and I are, but she got an antibiotic shot and guidance to go back to the humane society for blood-work if she doesn't perk up soon.

Following the regularly-scheduled menu tonight is:
Playing with fire:
Roasts aren't difficult, they're easy and delicious one-pot meals. They're time-consuming however. First comes the vegetables.

Arya doesn't want the veggies.

Fammie isn't sure why vegetables are on the ground.

After the vegetables are skinned, cut, and prepped the meat gets seared and buried in a nest of veggies.

Finally, after the meat is done, it's time to mix up the cider vinegar, apple cider, mustard, butter, and drippings sauce.

Sunday dinner on Monday night:

The roasted veggies and pork loin roast with apple cider sauce.

If you look carefully you can see my ankle boot and Star Wars pajamas.
Tomorrow we plan the next few days of menu.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day ?: What's that? Brunch?

The First Quarter: Good Morning
Today's message is brought to you by Brunch, it's what's not for dinner. Tonight, like Saturday, we're not cooking dinner -just eating it. We're back to our regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow.

The Second Quarter: Get Ready
Our brunches aren't as planned as everything else. A typical weekend meal is bacon, eggs, and toast. I prefer pancakes, Colin likes bacon.We don't have any bacon right now, so we decided on:

The Third Quarter: Cookin'
I usually keep pancake mix in the pantry because it's just so much easier that way. Kodiak Cakes is my favorite standby brand mostly because all I have to add is water and they're fluffy and delicious. I didn't have any so I made a simple recipe from my standby "how do I make that again?" cookbook: Better Homes and Gardens, 2009. Just flour, egg, baking powder, sugar, oil and milk -hand mixed.

Simple, quick and delicious.
Some good friends of mine gave Colin and I a nice cast-iron griddle and grill for a housewarming gift this summer. It's my favorite thing for pancakes, and grilled carrots.

Cast iron is great for pancakes. I dislike it for eggs.
My trick for the perfect over-easy eggs is a non-stick skillet topped with a splatter screen.

The Fourth Quater: Eatin'

Breakfast is delicious, easy and quick and accompanied best by home-made coffee with a French press.
Spread the love.

Breakfast for two.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Day 4: A New Dinner

The setting:
Friday night. A night for relaxing, socializing, and hanging out with friends. That's not exactly how it went down in this household. I was expecting a late night, thanks to a doctor's appointment but it didn't turn out so bad. I was fitted with a boot, perscribed an anti-inflammatory and sent on my way. Getting home early made our wheels turn.

So, we invited his brother over for dinner and decided to go look at kittens. We brought one home from the Humane Society.

Arya, the Artist Formerly Known as Sheba. 4 mo. Domestic Short hair.
The other cats definitely did not pick Arya. Neither are very pleased. But lucky for them Arya is adjusting and they're invited to dinner and little Arry isn't.

Building action:
Tonight's menu is comforting, wholesome American food cooked by Colin:
The garlic bread was accomplished by slicing a loaf of fresh-baked (grocery-bought) bread, applying butter and minced garlic with a bit of grated farm cheese Colin got as a part of the Reddit gifts Secret Santa.

Meat sauce using lean ground beef.

Garlic bread, toasty.

The climax:
It's simple, it's delicious, it's not very healthy. Colin did a great job and it was wonderful.

Only vine-fresh summer tomatoes could have been better.

The resolution:
Playing with the new kitten is better than blogging and cleaning up. Sorry for the late post. Have a cute picture:
Fitting in just fine.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day 3: Thursday. Dinner's Revenge

It's great to be a meat-eater:

Tonight is chicken. Tonight is roasted apples. Tonight turned out pretty ugly. Smelled great, tasted better.
  • Roasted Chicken Thighs with lemon and oregano (Bon Apetit December 2012) -Add some sliced Braeburn apples to the above for a yummy fruit
It's been a tough week for us. I sprained my ankle on Saturday. Colin and I are battling a cold (and winning). eBay's Bucks are ambiguous to redeem on the mobile eBay and PayPal apps which caused Colin to worry that he was double-charged for purchase. Pretty stressful. Let's have some comfort food. Let's love ourselves, our home, our kitchen, and our meal. The perfect answer is always chicken.

One problem: Fammie doesn't agree that it is comfort food. She wants the tuna back. The cat's don't approve.
Apples for roasting.

It's great to cook for yourself:

This recipe calls for boneless chicken thighs. Do you know how tough it is to find boneless chicken thighs? I'm not sure the cooks at Bon Apetit shop at real grocery stores. So I de-boned them myself, nearly cutting my thumbs off in the process. Meat's ugly. My fruit is a little prettier.

Lemons for caramelizing.

The chicken recipe called for thin slices of lemons to brown prettily. Turns out, Thursday night I'm not a pretty cutter. Thank goodness for apple-corers.

Roasted apples with lemon and oregano.

Apple corers even make roasted apples look good.

It's great to eat what you cook:

There's a good reason I haven't photographed the meat. It's pretty, but only in the belly.

The prize for Ugliest Dinner: Roasted Chicken and Roasted Apples

We've been watching House of Cards while eating recently. It is great to enjoy meals on their own, but House of Cards is just so good.

The aftermath.
Tomorrow is Friday. Tomorrow is pasta. I always love pasta. I hope to share it with company.