Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Attack of the Long Weekend!

Well, we made it!

It was long, and tasty, and relaxing, and very very busy. And yet we made it through the four day Thanksgiving weekend and are still alive. Even with all of the food we ate and (inexpensive) wine we drank, and awesome music we imbibed, we are still here to tell about it.

Our Thanksgiving All-Day Feast Extravaganza Intro Post will be coming soon, with many much pictures to make you hungrier than you already get reading this blog. I think we're going to break the recipes down one by one after that and make the whole a little easier to digest (pun intended.)

So, we apologize for the wait, but we've been just a little busy...

-- Nick

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Drum Roll Please... The Day of Reckoning has Arrived.

Dear all,

We are now only a couple hours away from our Thanksgiving Event 2010 and are very excited about its outcome. There will be much wine, music, delicious food, picture/video taking, and overall general awesomeness, and we can't wait. We shall catch up with all of ya'll on the other side, once the dust settles and we can process the massive quantity of recipes and pictures that will result from all of this activity.

So, until then, Ciao!

-- Nick & Zizi

Quick and Dirty: The First Chili

Being transplanted to the South from the frozen wasteland of Minnesota, my wonderful husband has decided that now that I'm here I need to be turned into a proper Southern Belle. And that includes cooking like one. It's not that hard; add sugar to the tea, cheese to the grits and flavor to everything else. I've mastered the sweetend iced tea and have learned a few tricks for grits. I'm still looking for a good cornbread recipe, and I've now started on chili.

The problem with chili is that I loathe red kidney beans. If I'm a guest or at a resturant I'll eat them, but if I'm at home I'll pick them out. And I can't handle anything too spicy; it makes my mouth hurt. That and even though I know that I've made chili when I was growing up, I can't remember seeing a recipe for it and don't think I consciously know how to make it. So I threw a bunch of things that looked like it'd make a chili-like soup-stuff into a pan and cooked it. The carrots didn't work out too well (so I omitted them from the recipe) and I wish I'd had garlic and more mushrooms (so I put more below). Otherwise I think it turned out delicious.

Quick and Dirty Chili

1 lb ground beef
1 onion
3-4 mushrooms
1 can pork-n-beans
1 can spaghetti sauce
3 spoons full sour cream*
worchestershire sauce*
red wine*
chili powder to your taste

Fry the beef in a large pan; when it's half done add the vegetable and let them fry in the beef grease. Drain off excess grease when it's cooked. Add spices and stir; add worchestershire and wine. Let the achohol cook off and add the pork-n-beans, spaghetti sauce and sour cream. Let simmer over low heat for about half and hour. If you have time, throw it in the crock pot and let sit on low heat all day.

*optional (if your budget allows for extravagance once in a while, otherwise just skip it.)
Happy Cooking!


P.S. Heartburn... -- Nick

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nothing to Wear!

Ladies, have you ever stood in your closet, staring at all of your clothes, and screamed, "I have nothing to wear!" Probably. And yet you manage to find something decent to put on and are reasonably happy with your choice for the rest of the day.

The same thing happened to me the other day when I walked into the kitchen to make dinner. It wasn't that we had no food, but there was nothing that looked like it would make a meal. Well, it was one of those times where we couldn't go shopping until the next day and we just had to make do. I found a can of creamed corn. We also had an onion and some milk. At the least that's enough to make a very basic corn chowder.

I fried the onion and some mushrooms in butter, then I added the creamed corn. I added just enough milk to thin it out some and melted in some cream cheese (that we randomly had) at the end. It turned out pretty good. Sour cream would have been the perfect thing to add the thick creamy-ness that is a staple in chowders, but for once we didn't have any. And the mushrooms were not quite the best. The ideal corn chowder has the onions fried with chopped bacon, and garnished with tomatoes and a touch of balsamic vinegar at the end.

My measurements are as follows:

1 can creamed corn
1/2 med onion--chopped
1 mushroom--chopped
1/2 stick butter
3/4 milk
1oz cream cheese
garnish with sage and paprika

If you have the means, I highly recommend you add the bacon and sour cream: it should be about 2-4 slices of bacon(chopped) and 1/3 c sour cream to one can of creamed corn.

Bon Appetite! -- Zizi

P.S. We only add the images here to make you hungry. Heh heh. -- Nick

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cookie Dough

I've never understood what it is about eating cookie dough, but we all like it. So much so that we even eat it in our ice cream. Even our little boy, who's only a year old, will eat it. There's just something good about the sweet, soft, gooeyness of unbaked cookies. (Of course, the same can be said for cookies straight out of the oven too.)

The other day was a particularly bad day. I was upset, the car was broken, the internet wasn't working, and the boys were fussy and missed Daddy. I decided that the thing to make us all feel better was to make cookies. I knew that the very special time my son and I spent working together and making cookies would cure all the ills of that day.

So at nine p.m. I put the little one down and started to get out ingredients. I had the bigger one help me pour milk and cocoa into the pan, and he even got to help stir it before it boiled.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A New Thanksgiving

Through an odd twist of circumstance and Providence, Zizi and I are unable to travel and visit friends and family for Thanksgiving this year. It will just be me, my loverly wife, and two rambunctious sons at home this year.

This situation could not be left to stagnate in self-pity, however. We have come up with an Event for the Thursday known as Thanksgiving Day. This Event will be far different than anything we've ever done for Thanksgiving, and different from the way that anybody else does Thanksgiving too, as far as I know.

Muffin Morning

Today's recipe was found, surprisingly, on the side of a cereal box. And it's good. I've always loved banana bread, and I have a special place for bran muffins; so when I saw this I had to try it. And this one has the bonus of being good for you, or at least, not as bad as some other things. For example, using honey instead of sugar.

Now, I'm not a health food nut, and I don't go to extremes, but I do believe in the good of honey, and olive oil; and I will try to make foods that are, if not actively good and healthy, at least not as bad as chips and donuts.

Anyway. . . . I don't always follow the recipe; I've added chocolate chips (which add an almost dessert feel to them) and the last time I made these muffins I used raisin bran instead of regular bran flakes. I've toyed with the idea of adding candied fruits and making it a sort of holiday fruit cake, but I'm working on that on another angle.

Enjoy! --Zizi

Honey & Spice Banana Muffins
1 c bran flakes
1/4 c milk
1 c flour
1/2 c honey
1/4 c melted butter
2/3 c mashed banana
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Soak cereal in milk for 5 minutes. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes about 12.
Optional: 1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c raisins

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cross Section of Humanity (or not...)

Well, the second Cross Section of Humanity Poll has closed, and by all accounts ham and cheese sandwiches hold their own against PB&J. Sorry, PB&J. You two might be made for each other, but it wasn't a royal wedding.

Stay tuned for the next CSOH poll!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hopes and Dreams

Crustless Quiche
1/2 lbs fresh mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
4 eggs
1 c sour cream
1 c small curd cottage cheese
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c flour
2 tsp grated onion
1/4 tsp salt
4 drops tabasco sauce
1 (8oz) pkg or 2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8oz slivered ham

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute mushrooms in butter, drain on towel.
Combine eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, flour, onion, salt, and Tabasco in blender. Mix thoroughly.

Pour cream mixture into a large bowl. Add mushrooms, Monterey Jack, and ham.
Pour mixture into a greased 10-inch quiche dish or 10-inch pie plate.
Bake 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

Like I said, hopes and dreams. I have my doubts that I will ever make this according to the recipe. I mean, freshly grated parmesan cheese! Parmesan cheese doesn't fit into our budget, freshly grated or the stale powder.

I love quiche. And the idea of a crustless quiche is pure genius. The best one that I've come across is the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box. You just add about a cup of Bisquick to 4 eggs and decorate with cheeses, hams, brocoli, etc. of your choice. Unfortunately, Bisquick is another one of those things that I dream about.

So I did what I always do. I improvised. We had the sour cream and the cottage cheese, but I used five eggs and chedder cheese instead of Monterey Jack. The results were still pretty good. I have a lovely pie plate (I'm not sure of the diameter) that I like to do lemon squares in (yes, lemon squares in a round dish, more on that later) and it works perfectly for the quiche. The only problem is that both Nick and I can eat all of it in one sitting!
Happy Cooking! --Zizi

P.S. Why my wife thinks that eating an entire quiche in one sitting is a problem, I will never know. Hee hee! --Nick

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bread, Part I (the first and definitely not the last post about bread)

Prize Winning French Bread

1 1/2 tbsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c warm water
2 c hot water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
7 c flour

Dissolve yeast and 1 tsp sugar in 1/2 c warm water; set aside till doubled.
Mix 2 c hot water, butter, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm; add yeast and beat in 2 c flour. Cover and let stand a few minutes. Add more flour till stiff dough forms. Knead, with flour, about 10 minutes--till smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise till doubled.

Cut dough in half and knead out air bubbles. Shape into 2 long loaves, tapering at the ends. Score the tops. Place on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise till doubled.

Bake 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

For crisp, golden brown crust brush with salt water before baking and twice while baking.
French bakers lift the dough and slam it on the board while kneading. Vigorous kneading makes the dough fine and regular.

One of my favorite things is to add garlic, herbs and cheese, and when the dough has been divided, cut one into 12 rolls and shape them into knots. 12 rolls bake for about 12-18 minutes ( or till golden brown).


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Yogurt Parfait: The Essences of "Health Food"

Now when I say "health food" I mean food that is healthy for you or boosts you immunities, or even fights bacteria for you. Yogurt does that. Why? Because yougurt is fermented milk. At least, that's how I understand it.
You see, yougurt is made by heating up milk, adding a bacterial culture and letting it stay warm for most of a day. Keeping it warm allows the bacteria to grow; and it then chemically alters the milk. The end result is a very tasty, thick and creamy milky goo that you can add endless things to. Yogurt.

But, you say, bacteria is bad and makes one sick. I know, and for some odd reason when you use bacteria to fight bacteria you win. My family has successfully been using yogurt to combat various yeast infections for years--after two or three days of eating large bowls of yogurt the infection goes away. I don't know why it works, and I don't really want to go through five years of nursing school to find out, but it does.

And everyone knows the benefits of fresh fruits. That's kind of a no-brainer. So, a fruit/yogurt parfait is the best food known to man.

I feel like I'm telling you stuff you already know. So I'll switch tracks.

My mom has been making yogurt for a long time; she has a yogurt maker that keeps it at the right temperature for a specific time. All she has to do is heat up some milk, add a little yogurt, sugar and vanilla, and put it in the yogurt maker and she's done. Then, of course, there are the varients that she puts in to make it especially her own: Mom uses cornstarch and raw sugar. My mother-in-law adds sweetened-condensed milk and puts hers in a crock-pot wrapped in a warm blanket. And my friend Nicole doesn't add anything except a little sugar and puts hers in a warm oven overnight.

Nicole figured out that the thermostat on most ovens will actually turn on at a much lower temperature than they are marked for, somewhere around 80 degrees. That is the prime temperature that you want to keep your yogurt at for at least five hours. So guess what I did?

I scalded some milk (about four-five cups), added some brown sugar (maybe two tablespoons?) and yogurt ( one-quarter cup, vanilla flavored), and put it into two ceramic bowls ( I was thinking that if I kept it shallow it would set up better) and put it in the oven at the lowest setting for a few hours. I achieved the perfection of yogurt! For the first time! I've tried making yogurt for over a year and haven't gotten it.

I figured that you'd want to add about one tablespoon of culture and one teaspoon of sugar for every cup of milk you use. I used brown sugar because I don't have any white sugar. Brown sugar also takes the bitter sting out of the yogurt without adding too much of a sweet taste. I'd like to add some vanilla flavoring, but that's something that you might never see on this blog. You can add various other flavorings or colors before you put it in the oven, or any kind of toppings out of the fridge. I prefer strawberry jelly and frosted flakes myself.

On a closing note I'd like to say that Nicole is awesome. And I'd especially like to reccommend the parfait for pregnant women. Full of antioxidents and the yogurt has been proven to calm the upset pregnant stomach.

Happy cooking! --Zizi

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Seafood Soup

Oddly enough, I'm not going to start out with a white sauce recipe of any kind; rather, I am going to go the soup route.  More specifically, Seafood Soup.
Seafood Soup
2 medium onions, chopped
Many much mushrooms, usually about half a pack
Half a stick of butter
Pack of imitation crab meat
A somewhat indeterminate amount of 2% or whole milk (preferably whole, but 2% works okay too)
Ground red cayenne pepper (if it happens to be lying around)
Large can of cream of mushroom soup
Sour cream (again, if it's lying around, if not, leave it out)

Put the onions and butter together to fry in a deep saucepan on low-medium heat; remember, it may seem like a lot of butter, but it's to help the whole soup later on, so trust me. Add about a teaspoon of salt, and the mushrooms after the onions have cooked somewhat, and add the crabmeat last. Fry until it reaches the level of golden brown you want.
Now add the entire can of cream of mushroom soup and make sure to stir it into the fry mixture well. Add about a cup of milk at this point to help even out the mixture and keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir well using a whisk. Add a heaping spoonful of sour cream for flavor, stir well again. Add milk again until you reach the desired thickness (or thinness, or whatever). The amount really is dictated by the consistency you want. Make sure that every time you add milk you allow the soup to heat back up completely, since the milk added is cold.
Let the whole mixture simmer for about ten minutes while stirring every minute or so. I am obsessive about this stage and about making the consistency right, but don't mind my obsessions. Taste and add more salt (if needed) and pepper and red pepper if desired. Let it simmer for a couple more minutes, then serve.
If you do it right, this soup is really amazing as a leftover item to reheat. It can be a soup, and then after it has been refrigerated it can be resurrected as a white sauce over noodles or something. I even used a variant of it over hot toast (which I loved but my wife hated). Oh well. To each his (or her) own.
Enjoy!     --Nick
 P.S. The dark stuff in the center of the soup in the picture is sage. Somehow it just tastes amazing when added right before you eat it!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hamburgers Win!

Wow. After 5 days the Internet works again. Stupid router...

It would seem that hamburgers have taken the polls by storm and won with 75% of the vote! Not that it was much of a surprise; McDonald's doesn't exactly sell hot dogs as their staple meal item, now do they? Nor does Burger King, Five Guys, etc.

Anyways, the promised cream of mushroom posts will be coming, just a little later than planned. Later! --Nick