Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Etsy is my Perfect Dream! (giveaway post)

*UPDATE* I GOT MY HOOP!!!!! I GOT IT I GOT IT I GOT IT!!! Will be coming soon, with pictures! Purple blue and green colors of course! And ordered from Robyn's Nest, but shhh! Don't tell Logan! Got a sampler pack from her with scents she suggested, can't wait to surprise him with a new smell when he gets here! As for the necklace and spice jars, we are talking about them, but not yet in budget.

I love etsy so so much! You can find so many cool things, and what more fun do people have than trawling around and wanting things they cant afford? Well with the help of Craftgossip. com and this specific post YOU CAN! this is my shamless plug hoping beyond hope that I can win! These are things that I want, my top wish list!

Anyone around me right now knows how much I want this style hoop! $35 it is perfect, my hoop specifications would be a 45" 160 psi with lots of gaffer! Favorite are the UV colors and bright Green, Purple and Blue. I WANT IT! If I don't win, I am still getting this hoop, I am going to kill someone if I don't get a hoop like this. Logan has promised me he will get it for me soon.

If you have been around me since about March you know what my favorite movie is: REPO! The Genetic Opera. I am OBSESSED with it, sing it all the time and I go gaga and watch it 15 times in a row. I own it on American DVD and UK Blu-Ray. Logan and I were talking that at our wedding we are serving "Zydrate" that I am making (blue ice raspberry lemonade Kool-aide) So what better necklace for me than This. At $7, a steal and next on my ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE- list.

The next thing on my list that I love is something that would benefit every one around me (well besides the fact that I will kill someone if I don't get them, though this could perhaps Kill Logan and Todd if Todd gets a hold of them, lol) This would be beneficial to every one, especially the people reading my blog because it would mean I have more things to cook with! I think it would look great on my fridge, and you bet I would find 24 spices to fill it with! At 50 bucks though, I am not getting this unless I win the giveaway *sigh*...

Finally, with 8 bucks left in the $100 limit, I am choosing something in memory. I have been looking for a perfume or Body Mist in memory of my Grandma and Rose, my step-mom. When my Gramma died, it was around my birthday and she had wrapped for me, a bottle of Jasmine body spray. So I have searched and searched, and decided that when I do have the money I will be getting a perfume from this place. Robyn's Nest Boutique is a very nice, friendly shop, Robyn even helped me to pick out a scent she think I will like. I would like to try the roll on, but 8.95 is over the budget so I will go with the classic body mister for 6 dollars, and have 2 left over.

That's it! My Wishlist! Hope I win, keep your fingers crossed for me! I could have probably put up a thousand more things but don't want to run out of time and there was the 100 dollar limit.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a Twist)

Close Up Time!

"Oh no! She's at it again!" I wasn't satisfied with normal plain chocolate chip cookies. I wanted some that were really soft and gooey goodness. Well, after the pudding cake thing learned from a friend, why not try it again? I have had some great "Cake Box Cookies" courtesy of Jordon, and have learned that cookies and cakes are quite similar, actually cookies were invented because of cakes. I don't remember exactly where I read it, so if someone wants to claim this information I will give credit. (I think it was from one of my plethora of cook books)

If I recall correctly, a smaller cake was baked besides fancy wedding cakes so that they could be tested for being done without cutting into the actual cake to be used for a ceremony. This stemmed from a time of ovens without temperature gauges or clocks/timers. Eventually, people decided that they liked the little cakes as much as the large ones, and now we bake the small cookies on their own instead of with the cake.

Anyways, I have tried this recipe and it is "fantastic!" as one of my favorite doctors would say. Again these measurements are somewhat estimated, I spilt a bit extra of a lot of things in this one, good thing cooking isn't an exact science! (makes about 6 dozen)

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (unsalted is sooo much  better, but I guess you could use normal, though they cost the same) Please soften before hand, works much much better. One of my sticks was frozen = not so easy.

Cut in 1 1/2 packed cup brown sugar and about 1/2  cup white sugar. (brown gives the cookies color, white the texture I think)

Then mix in 4 eggs and 2 teaspoons of Vanilla (though I must admit my vanilla was 2 teaspoons plus a dollop lol). That plus flour gives you a "normal" dough recipe, but I threw in a large box of instant vanilla pudding mix.

Mix together thoroughly, and slowly add 4 1/2 cups of flour, sifted with  2 teaspoons baking soda. It takes a lot of work getting all the flour incorporated, but they turn out ohhhh so good!

That can all be done with a mixer if you have one strong enough (I don't) but add your bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips by hand, so they don't chip or break up. I also threw in the last fourth of a bag of white chocolate morsels left over from the Delux Carrot Cake Recipe.

When it comes to cookies, there are two things I love: scoops and baking stones. If you don't have them that is okay but they make life so much easier. Scoops make the cookies even, so you don't have a huge under cooked and tiny crisp cookie in the same batch. Baking stones help the heat spread evenly, making more uniform and perfectly done cookies and pizzas. I love it and if my mom doesn't let me take hers I will probably cry and convince Logan to buy me one off ebay.

Anyways, put small equal amounts of dough on your cooking tray and place in 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. NO MORE. They will burn and be hard and crispy if it is anything more than 12 minutes. I don't care if they don't look golden, they will be done perfectly I promise you, please don't burn them you want to keep them soft.

Let sit for atleast 5-10 minutes cooling on the stone before transferring to cool on borwn paper bag, paper towels, or paper plates, anything to help wick away excess oil while they cool completely. (or at-least cool enough to handle and eat while warn with milk! I was worried there wouldn't be any left the way my mom was going at 'em!)

Enjoy! If any survive, store in an airtight container with a piece of bread to keep soft.

Cookies and Milk!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Apple Bars

I learned that my cheap camera is just that, CHEAP. The best pictures I included, sorry for their horribleness.

This recipe has been passed down, was my great gramma's, whom I called my "Choo-Choo Gramma" because she lived next to the rail road and I had a toy train at her house. She was always cooking, you couldn't surprise her and tell her not to make a big meal, she made them anyways.
Anyways, without further ado, the recipe: (these are estimations because they are vocal by sight recipes)

2 1/2 cup flour, about 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, Cut in with a pastry knife 1 cup lard (crisco), Seperate 1 egg and reserve the white aside, put yolk in a cup, then add milk till its at 2/3 mark. Mix thoroughly.

Separate in to two equal sized balls. Take one on a floured surface and roll it out till its fairly thin and will completely cover the bottom of the jelly roll pan. Fold carefully and lift and place in pan, unfold and press so it is evenly spread out. if there is overhang pinch it off and press it into thin spots.
Sorry about quality, I will work on buying better Camera
Cover with crushed corn flakes evenly, about 2 handfuls or half a box.

Filling: Peel and slice 8-10 apples (5 pound bag), slice carefully trying to use as much apple as possible. Place in a bowl and cover with Sugar and Cinnamon.
Left is what is left after slicing from core, right is cinnamon sugar covered goodness

Put the apples on top of the Corn Flakes and top with the other ball of dough that has been rolled out on the floured surface. That egg white you reserved? Beat it well and use a pastry brush to coat the top crust.

 Place in a 400 * oven for 50 minutes. Let cool.

Mix together powdered sugar and water till a slightly runny consistency, add water very very slowly as it is easy to have it be too thin.  pour over top and let harden in the fridge. Serve and enjoy! Easily reheated in the microwave if you want, good cold too!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Classic Tator-Tot HOTDISH

I don't care what anyone says, this is an old old old family recipe, my favorite dinner as a child. I am from Minnesota and it is a HOT DISH. Do not call it a casserole, or at least, not to me. Now that that is done, let me get to the recipe:

Brown up hamburger with onions and various wanted seasonings as desired. Drain.

 Put in baking dish and mix with frozen corn, half a bag of tator-tots, and 1 can cream of mushroom soup. (works with cream of celery too, tried in Missouri because Ryan is allergic to mushrooms)
Be careful not to crush the tator tots, but mix together well. Cover with rest of the tator tots to create the crunchy topping.

Bake at 350 in oven for about 25 minutes, or whenever the tator tots are nice and golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes, that soup is boiling! Will burn your mouth!

Using a spatuala, dish out. My mom's favorite is the corners because those are always the crunchiest.

I love this meal, nice and cheap and easy. Was not popular in Mo because they don't like hot dishes, and especially not corn in their hotdish. Kathy thinks it would be good with cheese, it probably would be but I eat enough cheese as it is!

Another Fish Batter (BEST ONE EVER)

 (Okay, a quick update since life is being so crazy. I am still basically away but will update when get the chance.

While at Jeremiah's,  I had the BEST halibut I have ever had. Want to know what the batter was? PANCAKE MIX!!! Literally, he took the krust-ease or whatever pancake batter that is that comes in the blue bag, added a bit of water, fried in vegetable oil, put it on the plate and sprinkled with a bit of salt and it was soo good that Todd was burning his fingers trying to get more and more! It coated it just enough and was the best I have ever had, even better than Thorn's Showcase which is famous for their "bucket of but"

We were given some staples and I am excited to learn what I can make with powdered milk, so far it makes really really good hot chocolate, we finished of the container of powdered chocolate. Any one have some recipes for me?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Will be away a few days

Okay, we are staying at a friend's house that does not have internet (have been there the last two nights actually) and so I can't give you any amazing new recipes. Once I have access again I will update religiously. Lets hope Todd and I can move into our apartment by Tuesday! Praying for a call asap! *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fish Fish and More Fish! (also tartar sauce)

So Todd and I got an invitation from Jo and Kenzie to fry up the fresh fish they caught and have a good, old-fashioned sit down dinner with friends, something that hasn't happened in a while.
We went over to their house and had a blast! We made three different types of fish. I got slime-y, fishy smelling fingers again along with Kenzie for it was us who skinned it.

Liquid batter, and frying in background

 The first batter was a thick liquid-y flour base with seasonings.1 c. flour, 1/4 baking powder, spices you like -, 1/2 c. milk, 1/2 c. water, 1 t. salt. Coat fish, fry.We found it needed some more salt, and I think it could have used something to give it oomph, like a bit of paprika or onion powder or something.

Before the Fry!

The second was a basic "crumb coat" for frying. Todd crushed the Ritz crackers and the procedure is simple. dip chunks of fish in beaten egg, dip in crushed crumbs, let sit for two minutes or so and then fry.
Fish Fry Fish Fry Everybody loves a Fish Fry!

The third was a healthier alternative to frying, of my design. I went through their "Indian Seasonings" canister and I knew basically what it all was. I put a mix of Chili, Paprika, Cumin, Pepper, Dehydrated onion, and such (sorry, forgot to write it all down!) on the fish in a pie pan with the skin still on. I dropped some lime juice on it and dotted with butter. Bake at 350 until white and flaky, should fall apart when pressed.  Yumm Yumm! Sorry no pictures of this one.

Finally, I made the tartar sauce at Jo's direction. I have never made homemade tartar sauce and don't normally use so it was interesting. It was Miracle whip with Sweet relish, and I added a bit of black pepper and too much Lime, they said it would have been a hit in Mexico! Citrus just goes with seafood in my opinion.

Results: What is better than a good time with friends? They liked the liquid batter better, but I think the crumb coat was good because of the added crunch, just needed a bit of seasonings or something to go with. We had a good meal rounded out by Green Beans, Corn, and Rice Pilaf (was hilarious to see Kenzie keep asking if it was browned enough)  With free fish (after paying for license for year or whatever) and what is in your cupboard, I think sooo much is gained by good memories!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Delux Carrot Cake W/ Cream cheese frosting

Ohh boy... What to do with box carrot cake mix that is expired? Well I made a cake. I don't see much harm because its non-dairy and was sealed. What can go bad with powder except loosing flavor? I don't normally like carrot cake, so I went on a search to find one that could be really really good! The recipe seems really good, but I wanted some home made frosting so I found this.

For those that don't want to follow the links, the ingredients I used were

Cake mix, White Chocolate, Walnuts, 3 Eggs, Pineapple, Carrots, Coconut, Caramel Fudge topping, Veggie oil, Sour Cream, Butter Scotch pudding, Powder Sugar, Cream Cheese, Butter and Vanilla

I must say that I switched it to what I had available. Used vegetable oil and walnuts tossed in flour, and that if you can't find 8 ounce cans of carrots or pineapple 8 ounces is equal to one cup. I used 2 full packages of cream cheese and estimated it all on the icing. Kenzie was kind enough to help me get some ingredients, and that you can use white chocolate chips if you grind them up. Was quite amusing, and after doing it for a few minutes passed it off to Todd. I also did another little trick with the cake that I am not currently allowed to say. It involves a few things like butterscotch pudding and sour cream, but under threat of death I will wait till I have permission to include, I would hate to put one of my best friend/co-worker off.

Jo and Kenzie were going to come over to help make it, but then we remembered it needed to cool before it can be iced, and they wanted some for right away. I sprinkled the top with walnuts, chocolate pieces and coconut flakes.

Messy but delicious!

Results:A delicious filling cake! Sooo moist and turned out really good! . It could put some people off as being too sweet, but its actually not that bad. I think I need to work on the icing... Yay Jo brought her camera, that is why there are now pictures.
Jo wanted a picture of the chef with the cake

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Halibut Alyeska

I got a new cook book! Its tried and true recipes from Alaskan women. Title of "Eagle River 1st Ward 2002 coobook". The reason I choose this book was for this recipe. I really really wanted to try it, though I had no idea what Alyeska was. I have not cooked fish much, maybe once or twice and it is usually okay. The recipe is as follows:

1 lb halibut (large chunks)
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8th teaspoon cayenne pepper

bake 1/2 hour at 325, then sprinkle with 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese. Bake 5 more minutes. Serves 2.

But I doubled the sauce because I had two pouches of frozen halibut I was using, I knew they had to be atleast 1 pound each. I also added a bit more cayenne pepper and some parsley, paprika, and black pepper because I thought it was just a bit too tart. and I love cheese. I mean I really love cheese. So I used well more than that, I grated up the rest of the half block of cheese and used all but a baggie full on this dish. Because the fish was frozen and not thawed completely, I added 10 minutes before the cheese and melted the cheese for 7.

Oh, and I beg beg beg and plead that anytime I make fish again, I hope to heaven above it has been scaled already. I chunked up the halibut that was just skin but it is really hard to fillet half frozen fish when there are scales all over the cutting board. I had to carefully take off the skin layer on those ones, I guess it was because I used fish from two different batches.

Results: I discovered I dont like Halibut Alyeska. I don't like gravies and sauces too much ussually, but white ones even less I guess. I did use the right amount of sour cream and lemon juice for the recipe, but I just don't fancy it.  Todd LOVED it scarffed a ton down, and others like it, but I tried a small bit after taking out of oven and decided it wasn't my thing. I am not making this again, unless Todd specifically asks for it or something. Logan never would because of the onions hahaha!

Oh and a little tidbit of whats in store... soon I will get a camera! I bought a cheap new one on ebay, so then will be able to show you the dishes I am cooking! Just waiting for it to come in! Maybe when we make the planned layer carrot cake with caramel and cream cheese frosting I can have Jo bring hers over for that recipe since I doubt my camera will be here fast enough...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings

Okay, nother day and guess what? Todd is hungry again. I had made him a bunch of crepes this morning, and we had subway but its dinner time!
Lets see... I've been wanting to make fried chicken, but we are out of eggs still.(we were loaned 3 for the crepes as long as I made her one. I spiced them up with cinnamon and vanilla extract, tasted like funnel cakes! maybe it was because of the evoo since we had no butter either...)

There is some Bisquick in a jar, and I do have the chicken... How about Chicken and dumpling soup?

In Her awesome dutch oven, I put the frozen chicken breast with a tidge of olive oil, water to cover chicken and the various seasonings. While I let that cook, I cut up the fresh carrots. Pulled the chicken out of the broth and tore it up into bite sized pieces. Put the chicken back in along with the carrots and onions.

And as I am writing this while cooking, I taste tested it and had to get a bit of chicken bouillon because there was too much water compared to chicken in her big ol' pot.

Then it had a bit too much tang... hmm what to do what to do... Todd has been making a lot of tea, and he uses honey! Honey barbecue chicken is pretty popular.... I wonder what that would be like in the soup? So I dipped out a bit of the broth (like an 8th of a cup) and added a tidge of honey. It is good! Into the pot I drizzle!

Mix in 4 cups Bisquick with 1 and 1/3 cup milk, and you all should realize i can't leave well enough alone, a bit of melted butter, garlic, and chili powder. I ended up adding a little tidge bit more milk to, it looked a little dry and like cement! Worse than those Dairy-Queen or Culver's concrete mixers!  And for that reason, Do not use a whisk, it thickens too much. Also though you can use a spoon to start with, you are probably going to be mixing it with your fingers!

Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto the top of the soup, cover and brought to a boil. It started boiling over so I am going to hopefully finish the dumplings with the lid off...  A note if you make this, do not dunk or move the dumplings around, just let them sit until they are not sticky-gooey anymore.

After what Seems like HOURS (though truly only too half the time of the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) It is done!

Spoon out a dumpling and some of your delicious soup! I think the onions kinda disintegrated or something, there were not nearly as many as I put in at the beginning. Carrots were Wonderful and I just wish I had had a little bit of celery.

Verdict: Yummy Yummy Yummy!!!! The honey made it PERFECT. It had been a long time since we've had dumplings, and they just hit the spot. Would definitely make this way again.

So final ingredients were (if you had a hard time keeping track): Chicken breast, Extra virgin olive oil, Pearl Onions, Carrots, Bisquick Mix, Milk, Honey, Butter, Various seasonings (Bouillon, Seasoned salt, granulated garlic, black pepper, parsley, oregano, bay leaf,  chili powder)

Bento Craze

Some of you may know, some may not, but I LOVE the Japanese Culture! (well, all cultures actually, but I'm on a bento kick, along with my cooking kick). Inspired by my favorite anime movie as a kid, Logan and I adopted our wonderful chinchilla. If you have not seen My Neighbor Totoro, I suggest you look into it, and if you don't, I will probably be doing a review of it at sometime telling you about it, hahaha.

Anyways, before I started this blog I had not been able to sleep, so I was researching random things. My search for the Magic Bullet I would like stemmed from a friend "liking" on facebook, to looking up recipes, to remembering how much I want a Silicone kitchen set, to finding a bento set made with removable silicone inserts. And back to how Logan wanted to buy me a Totoro Bento set. (link to set I want now) I did not jump at it at the time because Truly, I did not know what bento was. So with a new topic in mind, I googled and wiki-ed and followed random links and learned a lot! I LOVE Bentos!

Bento means "convenience" and is the east's version of a brown bagged lunch, only with a really fancy bag and cute sandwiches and things that are so complicated (yet simple) that they are a competition and piece of pride to have your child go to school with the best Mom prepared bento.

In an experimental recipe I have not posted,  I made Salmon for the first time by myself in the oven at a friend's house.I tried making it a "bento bowl" with the hickory smoked baked salmon on a bed of rice with some crisp veggies on the side of the bowl, I tried to display artfully. I wish I had a picture, I actually quite liked it! The friend is a native Alaskan, grew up in a small village, and actually said the salmon was better than the way she prepares! I was proud!

So, when you look at what I am following, that is the story behind the Bento craze! I do hope that some of my future posts of recipes will be Bento in nature, for us to take to work and such forth. To do this though, I need some bento sets, and besides paying expensive money I don't have I found a site that is having a giveaway!

I want to make a shout out to BentoBloggy! who is holding a giveaway for a cute > Back-to-school Bento Basket!< How adorable are those things? Hope I win!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Quick and Easy Crepes

I have been craving Crepes for a few days, finally made them. Oh soo deliciousoso!  

Mix: 1 Egg
1/3 cup milk
3 Tbsp Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar (or a dash more, who is gonna know?)

Melt a little butter in a small frying pan over medium heat, pour in half the batter. Keep an eye on it and watch for when the edge curls up a bit, flip it when its got golden spots. Cook on that side till golden, then gently flip onto a plate. Let it cool a moment, then sprinkle with powder sugar and you can fill it with a variety of things such as fresh fruit or jelly. In my french class we used strawberries, whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate! Traditionally served rolled with a bit of butter and/or Sugar. 

This recipe only makes two, and they are quite filling. Its so easy to multiply though, I love it!

Leftovers -> Sheppard's Pie (American)

Read the previous post, Pot Roast to find out what the leftovers were.
We are only three people and so there was a good chunk of meat, tons of carrots (again next time don't use the whole bag!) and a few potato scraps left. My boyfriend's family had a favorite recipe, Sheppard's pie. True, its an American version, basically mashed potato covered meat loaf. Now, I had watched it being made but never seen a paper copy of the recipe.

Here is what I did:

Meat: I shredded it by hand nice and fine, taking out any chunks of fat or gristle. Mixed it with a pouch of meatloaf seasoning, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, and the rest of a loaf of dried out rye bread (about 5 slices) crumbled. Mixed all together and spread in bottom of casserole dish, stuck in oven at 350 for 30 minutes.

Mashed veggie topping: I had to boil up a few more potatoes (with skins), and then mashed them in with the carrots and leftover potatoes. Crushed and pressed 2 cloves of garlic, 1 package of cream cheese, and a splash of milk to the right consistency. salt and pepper to taste. Turned out a nice peachy color.

Spread potatoes on top of the meat loaf, garnish with a bit of paprika and chives, stick in over for another 30 or so.

Served with brown gravy made from a packet with the strained liquid from roasting pan.

Verdict: Yummy Yummy Yummy Potatoes, I want to make that more often! The meat texture was weird, I think next time I would make BBQ sandwiches instead of meat loaf, it was too stringy. That and/or I would make the meatloaf with rice like my mom does for when she makes stuffed green peppers.

Pot Roast (pre sheppard's pie)

This first one isn't that innovative or interesting, but leads to something really good!

So, its my first time making a pot roast, my mom had bought one on sale and said it needed using up. By the way, she is out all day due to her work and is not teaching or telling me what to do.

I got my Tall Tall friend Todd who is getting an apartment with me to get down the roasting pan, unwrapped the meat and placed it in the pan. Filled it with a few inches of water and started going through the spice cupboard again! A bit of the garlic salt, some Lawry's all purpose, Black Pepper, Dried Onion. I think that is it... though I am not certain. I will get better now that I know I need to write it down! Flipped the meat over and did it again.

Stuck it in the oven at 350 for a hour or so, I don't quite remember. Checked it fairly often. Then chopped up some carrots (the whole bag! too many!)  and potatoes and tossed them in. Decided that I wanted a bit more, so upon finding a pouch of dried vegetable soup threw that in for good measure. When the carrots were soft enough, a smorgasbord! I think the vegetable soup packet had some good spices in it.

The meat was good and juicy tender, vegetables just the right done-ness! Read the next post to find out how I turned the left-overs into Sheppard's Pie (American Version)

Chicken Dirty Rice

First off the list, I had a friend coming over and my Mother and I were hungry, so try to come up with something quick and easy. The results were pretty good. Quickly looked through the freezer, found frozen boneless chicken and rice in the pantry with a plethora of spices.

 Frozen chicken, Olive Oil, Instant Rice, Various Seasonings (I think these were garlic salt, pepper, Taco, and Chili, because I was in mood for spice!)

Fry up the chicken in the pan with seasonings, make sure it is white all the way through, don't want to get salmonella poisoning! I was trying to be quick and make the rice in the microwave, but made a mistake (I said I was crazy!) I had put a quart of water for the 3 cups of rice because I was looking for a quart bowl. My mind got ahead of me! But so I poured off the excess water and put the rice in the same pan with the chicken and seasonings, browning it slightly and making a good quick meal in less than 10 minutes! Threw a "steam in the bag" vegetables and you have everything but milk and fruit, which can be made up for in dessert.

Thanks for reading my first post and seeing right off the bat that I am crazy! More to come!