Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oh yeah!!!

Maria and I spent a day canning Bruschetta in a jar from the Ball Cookbook (post those photos later) and while we where waiting for everything to PING! she whipped this up fresh for use to nosh on! Have I told you that Maria is the most wonderfullest person ever?! She is and a damn good cook. Here is her recipe for the above yumminess (sorry for no actual amounts this is just the way she wrote it down for me).
Diced tomatoes- Romas are better because they are more hearty
Olive Oil
Basil- dry is fine but of course fresh is always tastier
Garlic- minced about 3 to 4 cloves
add all the ingredients together in a bowl and add olive oil to taste, throw in a dash of salt, and a touch of lemon juice to taste.
The toasty bits are french bread sliced thin. You take butter and melt it in the microwave (or anyplace else really hot). Mince up even more garlic and then throw it into the melted butter. Let it sit for a few minutes or as long as you can wait which for us wasn't long. Spread the butter onto the french bread and bake at about 300 until it is toasty but don't burn it.
There you have a good old fashioned recipe with no real measurements except to eyeball it and taste it to make sure it's all workin' out for ya'!
Happy Cooking

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Old School Giveaway

The wonderful blog Old School is giving away a tee shirt on her blog. You can check that out here. I love checking in to see what the Damsel is up to and showing us how to do. So head over to her blog and give her a shout out!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Japanese food and the last slice of Birthdaycake

One of my goals for this blog is to share my love of the Japanese cuisine. I pick things that are simple and have ingrediants that I can easily find in my middle of the nowhere uncultured grocery store, and recipes that will taste great and simple to my many uncultured taste budded family members. A week ago I picked a simple dish that is very tasty, however I decided to change the way it was cooked. I was feeling lazy and had no intention of standing at the stove cooking for an hour. So I decided to crock pot it with only an hour to work with, this is what happened:
One whole onion sliced and the slices cut in half. (a yellow onion or sweet vadalia works best. otherwise the onion will be too strong)
half a pound to a pound of stew meat. I am lazy, and poor. The recipe calls for any cut of beef fillet thinly sliced. You can do it however you want. Stew meat worked just fine. Put it into a pan to brown. (remember I have about an hour to cook this in the crockpot I needed to give it a headstart, you could easily do this entire meal in a pan or crockpot but these first couple pan steps really should be done to get everything brown and yummy)

Set out your carrots and potatoes. I used this entire bunch but as you can see they were a tad on the small side and they were starting to go bad so a bit wimpy too, I am using red potatoes I used I think about 4 of them add or subtract by how much you are making. I peeled mine (they were going soft) but this dish would be just as tasty with the skin on, you could also substitute in a russet, depending on the size however many you would use for the red potatoes halve it for the russet unless they are small.

Don't forget your garbage bowl. It's great when you have to peel things. There is nothing I hate more than peeling veggies over the nasty stinky garbage can and then getting my back stiff from being stuck in a bent position for too long. Use a nice big bowl...mine was a little small so I had a lot of flying potato and carrot skins.

BTW I should mention your meat should be cooking on low while you do all the prep work so it doesn't burn. Unless you are lazy like me (you might want medium to medium low) and pull your meat straight from the freezer and throw it in the pan instead of waiting for it to slow defrost...or learn how to use the defrost setting on the microwave.....what can I say? It confuses me!
by now the under side of your meat should be good and brown so go ahead and flip it and throw in your onions while you start slicing carrots and potatoes. Also add in a little oil: the amount of oil is subject to your discretion XD as you can see....a little oil for me is clearly a puddle. But hey! If I can't use massive amounts of butter, I will use massive amounts of's supposed to be good for you right? So then, the more the better! Continuing on....
Give everything a good stir and let your puddle meld with the onions and get them all brown and yummy, and once the meat is browned (it doesn't have to be done since you are putting it in the crockpot, if will get done me) drain it into a bowl or cup.

mmm bowl of grease ( >.< ) sorry couldn't get a photo of actually draining the grease....I only have two hands and...ya know...nature...what can I say? hehe...CONTINUING ON...AGAIN..... dump everything into the crockpot...unless you are doing the entire thing in the pan at which point leave a little grease in the pan and throw in your sliced veggies potatoes first then carrots. If you want to make this part go even quicker blanch them in boiling water for no more than 5 minutes. Just enough to get them cooking. MM see all steamy and delicious! Now we carry on to the veggie part, for us crockpotters. ( XD haha I made a joke.....sorta) ANYWAY: get your nekkid carrots and potatoes and slice them up. Slice your carrots at an angle and into small rounds. Basically take your carrot stick and place it on a spot that would make a small round and angle your knife at a slight 90degree angle and cut down. You should have something that looks like something sliced through it sideways. potatoes cut normally. XD(sorry I don't have a photo of this sort of slicing since I kind of needed my other hand to hold the carrot to make that cut...and look my camera strap decided it wanted its photo taken)

Now you will take your carrots and throw them into the same pan you cooked the meat and onions in since it's nice and oily get them brown and starting to get soft (this is more flavourful then blanching but at this point you could just throw them into hot water for a few minutes)
Followed by dumping them into the crockpot with the meat and filling the pan back up with sliced potatoes.

(if you full view you can sort of see the angle cut carrots keep an eye on your carrots...I was watching tv while cooking and sort of burnt some.......but in a good way!! I swear!!)
you may need to add more oil to the carrot and potatoes...and that is just fine! Same with butter...mmm butter. Okay so now we are getting to the good part. Throw all this into the crockpot (or if cooking in a pan move the meat and onions to the top and the potatoes and carrots to the bottom of the pan) Add in some frozen peas (if you are cooking in a pot wait until the potatoes and carrots are done. Skip the pea step till last and move ahead on to the sauce part. Crockpotters throw in your peas and move on to the sauce step)

Now for the sauce you are going to need:
2tbs white sugar
5tbs soy sauce (use kikkoman everything else tends to have alot of msg and is basically soy flavoured msg)
1 tbs Mirin (Mirin is a rice seasoning its alcoholic and along the same lines as sake but sweetened. You can substitute cherry for the Mirin if you can't find this)
And finally 1 tbs Sake
add all of this to your crockpot or pan and cook. If cooking in a pan let simmer till the potatoes are tender. If using a crockpot make sure your pan has been heated on high during this entire process and add the lid, pan ppl once the potatoes are cooked throw in your peas and heat through. While the potatoes are cooking and the crockpot is cooking you can either make white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, Japanese sticky rice, or like I did and make noodles. I was craving noodles so I made a Chinese egg noodle. The have a funny taste but are still good and just cook according to package instructions, if you can;t find them spaghetti noodles are a great substitute.

well if this spam of pictures wasn't enough for you, I have a couple last ones. Sep 8 was my 22nd birthday and I wanted a specific kind of cake. A cake you could easily get in Japan but not here in Michigan at our local grocery store chain bakery. So I got a box of strawberry cake mix, a can of strawberry frosting, a can of white frosting with sprinkles, a jar of flower sprinkles, whip cream, a tub of strawberries, two tubs of raspberries (because they go bad the day after you buy them and you hafta weed through them) and one kiwi. I followed the instructions on the cake mix box and added in the sprinkles from the can of white frosting. and baked in two round pans. Once cool I put strawberry frosting on the bottom layer and covered in strawberry slices and raspberry halves. Topped it with whip cream and then the second cake. This is where the hard work came in...whip cream doesn't mix well when it comes into contact with frosting. It simply smears, so the whip cream hanging out the edge of the cake made frosting it a nightmare, but I made it through, frosting it with the white frosting. I put some strawberry frosting into a ziploc bag squeezed it down to the end and cut the tip off and put dollops all around it leaving space because I did the same with the whip cream (I did squiggly lines around the side of the cake with the whip cream and the frosting) And a couple big dollops in the middle. Then filled the space with strawberries and raspberries and kiwi slices and topped it off with more whip cream and frosting (mostly just filling in wholes and being decorative) and added in the flower sprinkles to the top and the side. This was an amazing cake however you can expect alot of liquid puddling around the outside of you cake (the frosting should protect it) from the fruit. So here is the very very last slice of cake.

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Three Meals in One Pot

I love when my dinners are multipurpose don't you? I had purchased round steak on sale for an amazing price but forgot to split it up and needed to use it or loose it. So I threw all three pounds into the crock pot with two large cans of diced tomatoes, some onion, and two green peppers sliced oh! and season all always season all. Then I let it cook away all day long for part of the day on high then the last few hours on low. The dinner here is what my mom calls Swiss Steak
Swiss Steak
1 lb. Round Steak
1 large can diced tomatoes
as many diced onions as you prefer (I do about a 1/4 cup)
1 green pepper cored and sliced
Season All (reduced sodium thank you) to taste
Throw the whole darn thing in the crock pot and voila several hours later you have a super yummy supper all you need is cooked egg noodles (unless you are like me and forgot and have to substitute rice, good but not the same as mom's).On to dinner number two other wise known as tacos! Before I froze one of the round steaks I had Photodude shred it for me. Now when you are getting ready to reheat this you can thaw it and fry it up with some taco season skipping the cooking step but if you need a really quick dinner like we did this night just throw it in the microwave until it's hot and dinner is ready. You can even pull out your good china like we did!
Dinner number three almost my dad's chili. I learned how to make chili from my dad, his was the best until he started adding weird things to it like mushrooms (did I mention that I don't like them?). This dinner what a huge hit with everyone. When I froze this last portion of the steak I put the left over peppers and tomatoes in the container, everything thawed just fine. If I was going to make this from scratch I would have used burger but the stewed meat is really a great treat and you don't need a pound to make this dinner. I'll post this recipe another time.
Happy cooking!

Monday, September 7, 2009

First Bento of the year

Oh my god when did I get old enough to have a first grader and a preschooler?! I think I'm having a panic attack! Okay I think I'm better now (no not really). To kick the school year off I packed each of the kids a homemade lunch. I'm calling it Bento but it in no way looks like some of the gorgeous creations I've seen other moms come up with and ya' know what? I'm so okay with that. Little dude doesn't really need a lunch but if I'm packing one I might as well do two right? The sandwiches are roast beef, American cheese and whole wheat bread, they both have grapes and the Pixie's lunch has some tomatoes in it. Little dude wouldn't eat tomatoes like that if they were the last thing on earth so he'll probably get some extra carrot sticks or something later in the day for snacks. I probably won't post all the kid's lunches but I'll share a few along the way. Hope those of you with kids going back to school today enjoy the peace and quiet that you get for a few hours.
Happy cooking!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A wonderful day in the kitchen

And I said: let there be cake.

Hurray for first post outside of the all about me post! I plan to add my picture to any posts I make. That way everyone knows whose post is who's...O.o odd english grammar...I don't even know if I did that right....XD Anyway!

So today was a fun day of being...domestic. I went shopping and proved my worth at the scanner. I got everything on the lost plus a few extras and kept the bill under 100. I was so proud of myself! But the real magic happened in my kitchen today. I was charged with the task of creating dinner while my grandmother spent the afternoon at the doctor's and running errands. Lasagna.....I have never in my life made lasagna before. This task seemed daunting to me. So while I spent the afternoon dreading my task, suddenly in the middle of doing my online things of fun...out of nowhere in particular...I was bitten by the bug of needing to bake something chocolatey. Okay so...the majority of my baking involves following a recipe on the back of a pillsbury box. I love to bake, don't get me the load of dishes I have to wash afterwards that keeps me from diving in head first and baking from scratch. But I went ahead and did it. I found a guideline for making chocolate cake from scratch. It seemed simple. So I did it. I changed the recipe up a bit, and even now after I made it, I feel the need to make some changes. I have never in life baked a cake from scratch, let alone a chocolate one. So without further adue(spelling abilities not required):

2cups of sugar (I will reduce this amount to 1 cup the next time I make this cake)
1 3/4 cups of all purpose white flour
3/4 cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (i suggest evaporated or sweetened condensed but I used regular milk it works just as well)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
2/4 cup sour cream (i used 1/4 but I think it could have used another)
1 packet chocolate or vanilla pudding mix
2-4 squares of melted baking chocolate or equivalant of choco. chips
1 cup boiling water

preheat oven to 350. Mix all the dry ingrediants together then add in the wet except for the boiling water. Mix for 2 minutes on whatever speed that doesn't throw the batter onto the kitchen walls. When the water is ready pour it in. (I didn't do this step. The batter was rather thick and I think it would have helped alot) get two round pans or one big long pan, make sure it is rather coated well with grease and flower or the flour in the spray can....I love my flour in the spray can....just...not when it goes up my nose. Throw the puppies in the oven and bake for about 33 minutes. I cooked mine for a full 35 and I think those two extra minutes where a bit much. My cake came out good it tasted well, just a bit dry. I frosted it with buttercream (though I could have used another can...I had more cake than frosting....I don't like alot of frosting...but this cake needed more) So here is my finished results!
here they are right out of the sillyness tried to take them out of the pan too early and the left one broke in officially became the bottom cake.

Please please excuse my shotting frosting abilities. XD I will win no prizes with this one...I like to call those crumbs in the frosting chocolate bits. Buttercream chocolate bits frosting. It's certainly home made, no one could possibly frost worse than I....watching me frost a cake is like watching a train wreck in slow motion...I had more frosting on me, the cuppard, the sink, and the cake tray than on the cake....^^

Then finally...dinner came..I had to face my fear. I could do it. I did afterall bake a chocolate cake all by myself for the very time from scratch. What was one little dish of lasagna? So I plunged in..hands first. I decided to make a little more fun. If I was going to do this...I needed to make it my own. First into the pan went the onions, then the 4 different colours of bell peppers: green, red, yellow, and orange. Followed by a knife tip of garlic and a handful of fresh parsley and last but not least the meat. I was excited, I could do this! I layed the small square dish with some uncooked noodles poured the sauce into the pan stirred it and then added a small layer onto the noodles. Topped it with mozerella and provologne and parmasan. Then I repeated this layer 2 more times. Popped it into the oven and an hour later Dinner arose from the oven bubbling and crunchy.

My my was it tasty and it even somewhat held its form when dished out! Today I have never been so proud of myself. Today was a day I spent fending for myself. I guess this is all part of the preparation for when I move. I am getting more and more seems...I may make it on my own least when it comes to feeding myself :)

one sliver of each chopped finely:green bell pepper, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, orange bell pepper.
one cup chopped onion
1tsp minced garlic
1lb ground beef
1 bunch torn or chopped fresh parsley
1 jar of your fave sauce
1 box of no need to precook lasagna noodles.
cheeses of your desire

Dice the peppers and add to a skillet with the onions and garlic. splash in some olive oil and salt and pepper. Cooke until onions translucent and peppers soft. Add meat. Cook until most of the meat is cooked through. Drain well then add parsley cook a minute more then add in the sauce. Spray your baking pan with spray oil and layer in your noodles to cover the bottom of the pan then add in your sauce. Add in your cheeses. I used a moz and prov shredded cheese mix and topped with grated parm (the good kind not the kind in the green shaker can) repeat the process until you either run out of sauce or you fill the pan. Bake at 350 for about an hour or until the noodles are done.

dinner anddessert