Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chicken Pancakes! or How Not to make Battered Chicken!

My favorite economical discovery of late is the "boneless skinless chicken THIGH". I can get 2 dozen of them for 8-10 bucks, as opposed to boneless skinless chicken breasts, which are 8-12 bucks for like 4. They are just as versatile as the chikin boob, and have more flavor and don't dry out! So last night I took some out for making... here's the part of the recipe that went well...

Honey garlic chicken

1 BIG blob (about 3 tbsp) honey

1 BIG blob minced garlic

2 tsp soy sauce

and because I had it and thought it would taste good...

1 BIG blob of plum sauce

salt & pepper

this is enough sauce for 4-6 chicken thighs.

turn thighs to coat in sauce and marinate for AT LEAST 1/2 hour. If you have your shit together, you can do this the day before, they would be EXTRA yummy!

heat frying pan with a generous amount of olive oil (not like an inch deep, but enough to cover the bottom of the pan), and cook chicken on medium heat, turning frequently to brown. They take about 10-15 minutes. When you think they might be done, take the fattest one out of the pan and cut into it. there should be no raw spot in the middle and no pink.

Serve over rice and mixed veggies.

Now for the part of the recipe that went all to hell.

I had this bright idea as I was heating up the pan "well what if I made a batter for the chicken? that would taste good!"... So instead of looking for a recipe, I decided that batter was easy, like what could it possibly have in it other than flour, egg and milk........

I whipped up my magical chicken batter, dunked the first three chicken thighs in and tossed them in the pan.

And watched my batter turn into pancakes with chicken on top.

Of course, these things never happen without an audience! My friend Katie was here and hanging out with me in the kitchen while I was doing this. She was very supportive- while she mad fun of my chicken pancakes. Sigh.

Fortunately, the batter was so eager to NOT stick to the chicken that after it cooked, I just scraped it out of the pan and carried on cooking the chicken.

So there's how not to make chicken! Next time I will look up a recipe, and I'll post you all with the results :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

I know you're not here for the scenery

My new, working gas cooktop... beeeeeutiful!

I made a pretty good dinner last night... My gas cooktop is finally up and running, which means I can give my microwave a break, and make stuff like scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, and rice! YAY for rice!

Sunday dinner was roast beef with baby potatos, acorn squash and gravy.

I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures.

Prepare your roast by sticking it in a pan with some garlic and chopped onions. If you're with it enough to have actual beef broth (which I am not) pour about 2 cups of that in with some worcestershire sauce and soy sauce- or mix 2 tbsp of beef oxo in a cup and add that. Stick it in the oven with a lid on at 350 for 25 minutes per lb... you'll need to take the lid off for the last 20 minutes... steamed meat is gross... but if you leave the lid off for the whole cooking time, you will have jerky.

Prepare potatos by cutting into a big pot, cover with salted water
Prepare squash by cutting in half and placing cut side down in a pan with about 2-3 inches of salted water... don't ask me what's with all the salt, I'm just doing it because I've always done it that way!

About 20 minutes before the meat is done, turn on the potatos and squash and cook at medium heat until they're soft.

Remove roast from oven and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Mash or don't mash the potatos
Use a spoon to remove the seeds from the squash, then dig the flesh out and put it in a bowl with a big glob of butter and a big spoonful of brown sugar and mash it all together in a bowl.

Prepare gravy according to package instructions- use the water from the potatos and the squash- it's got hidden goood-for-you in it!
OR take the drippings and broth from the bottom of the roast pan, add the veggie water and get it simmering on the stove. Add 4 heaping tsp of corn starch to a cup and make a gloop with COLD water. When the gravy base is simmering slowly pour the cornstarch gloop in while stirring constantly until a gravy like consistency is reached. Don't use too much cornstarch or you will have meat flavored jelly... Don't use warm water to mix the corn starch, or you will make a mug full of crap... DO pour slowly into the pan and stir well or you will get lumpy gravy!

Serve to your picky family and act like you busted your ass to make this!

I'm looking forward to having a "special guest" cook in the house soon. My buddy Fraser LOVES to cook and has been lusting after my kitchen since he helped me move in... Keep your eyes peeled for his appearance!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Food on the brain

There are some particular foods and dishes I've been thinking about since we've moved in here... mostly things I can't cook for lack of appliances, staple ingredients, or tools...

First on that list is probably eggs. Not only am I not supposed to eat eggs (the bloody cholesterol thing), but there is nothing NASTIER than microwaved eggs. No cooktop = no eggs.

Next is grilled cheese. The boys love grilled cheese. I've been making do by toasting the bread first then adding the cheese and sticking it in the nuker, but it's just not the same.

Then there's bread. I would love to whip up a batch of bread, but I can't find my bread pans, and I don't have any flour or yeast anyway.

Ah, and yogurt! Mom got me a yogurt maker! I need the cooktop to scald the milk to make the yogurt! I want homemade yogurt!

Lastly, one of my favorite make-for-me dishes is fried polenta with eggplant, zuccini and cheese... it's sooo good. That is probably going to be one of the first things I make when we get the cooktop put together!

Nothing can do more for one's appreciation for food than being stuck without a way to make it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just because it came out of a square box, doesn't mean it's a square meal!


I was thinking about this last night as I was lining up the stuff for a photo. I have come to terms with the necessity for "convenience foods" since moving into my house. I still don't have a working cooktop, so the microwave and the oven are my only tools. The microwave is quite a versatile machine after all, so long as you're not worried about radiation leaks, and adding extra molecules to your food.

Dinner last night actually turned out well. I made pork chops, broccoli and carrots in sauce, and penne pasta with bacon and alfredo sauce. The vegetables and pasta were done in the microwave according to package directions. The pork chops were baked in the oven with broccoli soup.

Pork chops with broccoli(or mushroom)soup
- line your dish with foil (because we hate cleaning)
- layer half the can of cream soup on the bottom
- lay out chops in pan
- mix remaining soup with half can of milk and pour over chops
- bake in oven at 350 for 35-45 minutes (thicker chops will take longer)

This recipe goes well with rice or egg noodles, you can use the soup as a sauce.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Meal Planner's Creed

Occasionally, when I lack inspiration- okay, let me clarify that; I'm always lacking in inspiration, but usually I wallow in it... Occasionally, instead of wallowing in my lack of inspiration, I turn to my cookbooks for guidance.

One of my favorite cookbooks is "The Modern Family Cookbook" by Meta Given. First printed in 1958, and first copyright in 1942, you gotta know it's full of some real old fashioned gems. The most valuable of all the tidbits (aside from the best biscuit and dumpling recipes), is the Retro Homemaker wisdom. I love to read that stuff. Sometimes it makes me laugh and shake my head, and sometimes it makes me feel downright inadequate!

Right at the beginning, before all the recipes is the "Meal Planners Creed"; which precedes the chapter on ""the Diet Pattern". So let me share my inspiration...

The Meal Planner's Creed

The health of my family is in my care; therefore-

I will spare no effort in planning the right kinds of food in the right amounts.

Spending the food dollar for maximum value is my job; therefore-

I will choose from the variously priced foods to save money without sacrificing health.

My family's enjoyment of food is my responsibility; therefore-

I will increase their pleasure by planning for variety, for flavorful dishes, for attractive color, for appetizing combinations.

My family's health, security, and pleasure depend on my skill in planning meals; therefore-

I will treat my job with the respect that is due it.

The Modern Family Cookbook by Meta Given

Now you see what I mean, with the funny and the inadequacy... I'm not too sure about the "security and pleasure" depending on my meal planning skills, but the whole creed makes one think a bit about our roles in the home.

What I wouldn't give to go back to the 50's just for the Home Ec. class!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Best Recipe Ever!

It's shitting from the sky today, and I have no energy or interest in cooking, cleaning, or leaving the house. It is after all a day of rest! I managed to stuff the washing machine to max capacity and walk away, and I gave the kid some (washable) paint and some little carboard pieces to make a mess with. After that, I made up my 9th cup of tea, and tried to decide what to eat for lunch...

Here it is... the BEST recipe EVER!
  • Open Jar
  • Insert Spoon
  • Repeat.

Yeah, I'm serious, that was my lunch today. You should try it sometime!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easy as Pita!


I really didn't have it in me to post this morning, then I had a streak of ambition and went to the Y for circuit class. I am all out of oomph.

The sun is shining today, glaring angrily against the snow, which gives me a break from glaring angrily at it for awhile! Soon we will be back to the mud and muck, and eventually it will turn into spring for real.

My recipe for today is a lazy one. It makes a good lunch for the kids

Pita Monsters
Mini pitas
Sliced deli meat
salad dressing
Open the pitas halfway around, add cheese, add slice of ham, mix shredded lettuce with dressing, stuff pitas with lettuce. Call them Pita Monsters.
If you have more time, or smaller kids, you can shred the ham, cheese, and lettuce into small pieces, and toss in dressing, then stuff the pitas with that.
My kid likes lettuce, and that's a good thing. You can also add diced tomatos, shredded carrot, cucumbers... whatever they like to eat.
Well, that's about all the inspiration I have for today. Maybe I'll concoct something interesting for dinner this weekend.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Alberian Wasteland

Looks like March is out like a lion this year. We've had another inch or two of snow since I took this (my beautiful back yard lol) and the temperature is bloody nasty with the wind. We drove over to the Y yesterday evening and the doors froze shut on the car :S

This is the girl who holds down the rear defrost button in her car rather than stop and scrape the inch of ice off so she can see. The last time it got really bad, it took 3 days for it to melt all the way! Unfortunately, I can't park in the garage right now. The melt we just had turned the area outside of the garage door into a nasty bog and I can't even get the car all the way to the door without getting stuck. And now that all the old snow is melted, the bog is still 4 inches lower than the slab. I could just take a run at it, and make some big ruts in the slab with the undercarriage, or maybe tear off the oilpan... Or I could just suck it up, park in front, and scrape. Waah.

There is a possibility that I might post a food related something later today, but I'm too braindead right now to think of anything.

Eskimo Kisses Y'all

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Seriously...That was an awesome dinner! (London Fog and Appliance pics)

I made REAL dinner last night! Not chicken strips in the toaster oven, not hot dogs and Easy Mac in the microwave, not sandwiches and soup... not pizza, not Donairs, not Quiznos, Subway or KFC. REAL DINNER! There was roasted pork tenderloin (if you look back there's a recipe and how to from ages ago), broccoli and cheese sauce, 'faked' potatos, and cucumbers and cherry tomatos. I can't remember the last time I was that satisfied! Well, probably the last time Mom made me dinner! :) I is a happy girl.

There's no picture of the gas cooktop yet... it, umm, kinda got brooookennn when some big goof was trying to install it (big dumb goof being my wonderful tries-so-hard hubby) so we're waiting for the parts.

But here's the rest of the new shinies!

My new wall oven is sooo cool. It has an attachable meat probe in the top oven, so you can set the oven to cook to the correct internal temperature, it has convection and conventional bake options, there's a bake timer and a kitchen timer and is all in all awesome.
My dishwasher is also cool... with an automatic detergent dispenser, delayed start options and big deep racks... there is one issue, the water here is really hard, so you have to (oh gawd) wash the dishes before you wash the dishes :(
My microwave is lovely. It has 2 racks for multi food cooking, a really elaborate menu where you can cook by food, cook by weight, cook by time, sensor reheat... all packed into a very trekkie touch screen which glows a soothing green.

My fridge is a bloody beast. I love it. Adjustable shelves, big bins for veggies, a slide out tray at the bottom for cheese and meat, a water dispenser that you can adjust for how much you want to pour, and a lock out feature on the water so the kids can't screw around with it!
The dual freezer drawers are cool too. My one beef about it is it isn't bloody magnetic!

Easy London Fog
This is a quick version of the nummy nummy treat that some of us dorks will fork out 6 bucks for at the coffee shop. Use skim milk for a less guilty treat, use decaf for a before bed wind down :)
The "real" thing uses 2% or whole steamed milk, Vanilla flavored syrup, and 1 or 2 earl grey tea bags.

You need
1 BIG mug
1 bag of earl grey tea (I use decaf for an evening treat)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp honey
Heat your milk either in the nuker or on the stove or, if you're awesomer than me, steam it with your countertop barista... make it REALLY hot but don't let it boil. Toss in a tea bag, add vanilla and honey.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to Smoothie or Your Blender is not just for booze

Okie dokie... My new favorite thing to make is the Smooooooothieeee!

There's a gazillion different recipes out there and here's mine.

1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt

1/4-1/2 cup skim milk

1 cup frozen fruit

1/4 cup berry puree (I make this up in my "spare time" so there's no seeds in it)

2 tbsp ground flax

1 scoop protein powder.

2-3 tbsp agave or honey

add to blender, you might need more or less milk to get it going. Blend until smooooooth. Enjoy!

Now I can hear some of you thinking "Um WTF is with Lish and the Fat Free dairy!?"... well this year, I was told I had high cholesterol (saaad face). Which means low fat dairy, even less meat than I already eat, and enough bloody oatmeal to knock over a Scotsman. You will see some of this madness reflected in my recipes from now on. Besides that, I'm bloody FAT, so it's not going to kill me to eat the "light" crap for awhile. ALSO, this smoothie has between 400 and 500 calories AS IS! So if you're bent on using the full fat dairy, BEWARE! You could be blasting down a 700 calorie beverage just for breakfast. Some smoothie recipes can hide up to 1000 calories in their yummy yummy goodness... they are gooood though, aren't they ;)

Monday, March 15, 2010

The "To Do" List

Things to do today....

  • Post to blog - CHECK

  • Unload dishwahser

  • Load dishwasher

  • Unload dishwasher

  • Pause for dramatic sigh and stretch back

  • Laundry Laundry Laundry

  • Sweep

  • Vacuum

  • Mop? What is "mop"?

  • bang head on wall

  • use Magic Eraser to clean forehead print from wall

Well, the most important thing is done.

Tomorrow I will post "How to Smoothie" and the day after, I will post a photo tour of my new appliances and the rest of the house.

Ciao Ciao Mickey Mouse!