rhienelleth: (Default)
In non-dog related news, I have a recipe to share! Who loved rice-a-roni growing up? I did, and especially my husband did. But the boxes today don't seem to taste as good. Plus, they can be kind of expensive. Thus, I made homemade rice-a-roni the other night, and it was SO GOOD. My picky husband loved it. So I'm sharing:

1 C Rice (I use jasmine rice)
1/2 C thin spaghetti, cut into 1 inch pieces (I just used kitchen shears, and cut handfuls of the stuff into pieces into a measuring cup, until it was about the right amount)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T butter
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 quarter onion, diced small - I used my small food processor and diced the garlic and onion together
2 C water
2 tsp. better-than bullion chicken (or, you can replace this and the water with chicken broth. But Better Than Bullion is awesome stuff!)
salt and pepper

Cut up the thin spaghetti. Heat olive oil in a skillet and then brown the spaghetti pieces for a minute or two. Add the rice, and brown it with the spaghetti for another couple of minutes. Add butter, garlic and onion, brown together until onion is nice and translucent. Stir frequently to prevent garlic from burning. Heat water in microwave, add it and the bullion to the pan. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes. I stirred mine every once in awhile to make sure it wasn't sticking to the pan. I also ended up having to add just a little bit of water at the end, but I wasn't super scientific about my measurement of the spaghetti, so YMMV. 

Anyway, this stuff was the best rice-a-roni ever. My husband inhaled it, and he eats like a ten-year-old kid, so I'm guessing kids would love it, too. I diced the onion and garlic small enough, you don't even see it among the rice and spaghetti bits. 

It is so much cheaper to prepare this way than buying those boxes, and the procedure is pretty much exactly the same. Plus, you have the added benefit of knowing exactly what you are putting into it. No mysterious ingredients. Substitute some kind of gluten-free noodles if you want, use less salt, organic broth, whatever you want!
rhienelleth: (Default)
I have always been a fan of crock pot, or slow cooker, cooking. There is nothing quite as awesome as coming home after work to find a home cooked dinner already made, and smelling delicious to boot. But my crock pot has always been something of an issue. Brand new, it seemed to have exactly two temperatures, no matter how many choices it supposedly came equipped with - boiling hot, or luke warm. Last year, a friend used it when we were all of a trip together. Halfway through her tried-and-true recipe cooking, she came to me and asked "Why is it boiling?" My response - it always boils. Is this not the norm? No, no it is not. 

My crock pot had a little accident on the way home from that trip, and rather than mourning its loss, this provided me with the perfect opportunity to buy a new one. One that would, theoretically, cook the way a slow cooker is meant to. I did research, and decided on this model by Hamilton Beach. I have always had Rival crock pots before (just an FYI, I use "crock pot" and "slow cooker" interchangeably, regardless of brand. Sorry if that bothers you.) However, given that my last one had issues, I decided to branch out. Consumer reports gave that model the highest overall rating, and honestly, my history with picking good ones has been spotty. I went with it, and the numerous good reviews for it on Amazon helped seal the deal. I also like that it has a temperature probe you can use to automatically have the cooker shut off when meat had reached a particular internal temp. 

It is by far the fanciest crock I have ever owned. It is digital, it has a timer, the afore mentioned temperature probe...and a lid with a gasket you can seal for travel, so no more "accidents" in your car with that chili you made for your workplace potluck - not that I'm speaking from personal experience, or anything. Just know that anything tomato-based is hell to get out of car upholstery. 

Anyway, so last night I searched through the many pages of recipes folks have posted at [livejournal.com profile] what_a_crock, which I have quietly been lurking on for over a year. I made this one, pork sirloin roast w/apples. It turned out very well, indeed. My husband, Mr. I-eat-ketchup-on-my-ketchup, aka, plain meat-and-potatoes (and ketchup) man, thought it was "just okay", but what does he know? It is a constant source of pain to my pastry chef mother (for real, for those of you who haven't been reading me long enough to know. My mother and sister both graduated from a prestigious culinary school, and my mother really is a fancy pastry chef). She tries and tries to broaden his horizons, as she calls it, and to be polite, he tries what she makes, but always he is happier with the basics. I blame his mother. One of the nicest, sweetest women you will ever meet. But most definitely not the most culinary-inlcined. In any case, he often complains at my attempts to make something new and different, beyond our usual steak-spaghetti-stew-roast-hamburger meals. But I get tired of eating the same thing over and over. I also get tired of cooking the same thing over and over. I thoroughly enjoyed the above recipe, and will likely make it again when we have company, since he will not eat any of the leftovers. 

This year, new crock pot in hand, I have vowed to make more crock pot dinners. One, they are easier and quicker, overall, while usually producing excellent results. Two, nothing is quite as homey and comforting as slow cooking in the fall and winter. Given my husband's response to last night's meal, I decided to go with something much more basic for dinner tonight: meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I usually avoid mashed potatoes, because they can be a lot of work, and trying to time them exactly with the rest of the meal so they're still warm can be problematic. That's why I used my slow cooker. 

On the surface, it seems like something of a waste, but I've heard of putting mashed potatoes in the crock pot for awhile now, and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Up front, I will say it is NOT less work. You still have to boil the potatoes, and put them together with butter, sour cream or cream cheese, or whatever you like to use. Then you put that in the slow cooker, and let it cook on low for 3 or 4 hours, after which it can sit at warm pretty much indefinitely, keeping them ready for your meal. This is often used for holiday get-togethers, because it allows you to prepare them ahead of time, and then free up your stove/oven for other things. Having done it now, I can see why this would be appealing. I made my mashed potatoes today around noon. Put them in the crock, and turned it on. Tonight, they are wonderfully creamy and yummy. Any lumps left from the potatoes not quite cooking perfectly are smooth and melt in with the rest. And, even though it is taking my meatloaf slightly longer than projected to finish cooking in the oven, I don't have to worry about the potatoes going cold. They are "just right", to quote a children's story. I see myself using this at the family Thanksgiving get together. 

For those curious, this is the recipe I used:

8 yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cubed, and boiled in salted water
added to them after draining:
1/4 cup chicken stock
half a stick of salted butter
one small container of cream cheese with chives
salt & pepper to taste

They are very yummy. :) I can't wait to eat them with my meatloaf, which should be coming out of the oven about...now, actually. 
rhienelleth: (Default)
 Okay, so this tart frozen yogurt has some pretty yummy qualities to it.  Creamy, frozen, sweet/tart, with a nice vanilla smoothness.  I'm surprised by how much I like it, even if it wasn't what I was originally going for.  

Here's the recipe, which is apparently adapted from a frozen dessert cookbook called The Perfect Scoop:

3 C whole milk yogurt, strained or not
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla

I poured off the accumulated moisture from the yogurt, but that was it for straining.  I like my frozen yogurt a bit on the soft and creamy side.  I also used organic sugar and real vanilla.  Mix ingredients with hand mixer for about 1 min, to dissolve sugar into yogurt.  Refrigerate for about one hour, then pour into ice cream maker and follow directions from manual - in my cuisinart, it says to mix for about 30 minutes.  

Cooking!

Mar. 4th, 2010 02:36 pm
rhienelleth: (Default)
 Meatloaf and potatoes in the oven.  My way of making meatloaf is pretty much to toss in whatever filler/seasonings I have on hand, beyond the usual two eggs/two pounds of meat.  This time it was as follows:


2 lbs. 90% lean ground beef
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (90% lean is a little too lean for rich flavor)
2 eggs
1 C freshly made bread crumbs, w/ 1 T Herbs de Provence (I LOVE this particular blend of herbs, much more than regular ol' Italian seasoning, for example)
1 C quick oats
2 T worcestershire sauce
1 package lipton beefy onion soup mix
1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C ketchup or tomato sauce (I opted for tomato sauce)

Shaped and placed on top of four sliced potatoes in a stoneware baker, and placed in the oven for an hour and a half at 350 degress.  We'll see how it comes out. :)
rhienelleth: (Default)
Update on the carrot cake recipe I posted the other day:

I made it and brought it in this morning (don't ask; there was an ingredient snafu last night) for everyone at work today. Two people who don't normally like cake are eating it. Two other people who love cake have told me, separately and in all seriousness, "This is the best carrot cake I have ever had!"

So it's not just me, y'all. Great recipe, great cake, easy to make, now that I've made it myself.

Pictoral evidence )
rhienelleth: (cooking)
A friend brought over a few slices of carrot cake for us last night, complete with homemade cream cheese frosting.

It was easily the best carrot cake I've ever personally had, so I badgered her into giving me the recipe.

Which I will now share with all of you: )
rhienelleth: (cooking)
 My mother-in-law is a wonderful woman.  I'm very fortunate, in that we not only get along well, she's pretty much a second mother to me.  She and my father-in-law treat me like a daughter, not an in-law. ("There are no in-laws in our family.")  

But bless her heart, the woman is not the world's greatest cook.  When Mark and I started dating, there were exactly three spices in her cupboards - salt, a can of pepper probably twenty years old that they never used, and garlic salt.  That was it.  She cooks very simple meals - meatloaf, roast, chicken, pork chops.  You get the idea.  There are a handful of things she does really, really well, and everything else is, hmmm.  Well.  She has no love for cooking, and it comes across in what she makes.  

However, one of the things she does well, is pancakes.  I don't know where she got the recipe, but it's very basic, and in my opinion, right up there among the best "classic" pancakes.

I made them this morning, using her recipe, and my new pans.  And I'm here to tell you two things:

1. Cookware really does make a difference!

2. Non-stick cookware is a BIG FAT SCAM! 

If everyone had cookware like this, no one would waste their time or money on non-stick ever again!  

I had some trepidation about using my new fry pan for pancakes.  After all, batter is one thing that can and will stick to things, and then when you try to flip the pancake, you have a big fat mess on your hands.  This couldn't have been further from the case.

Pictoral evidence. )
Have you ever seen such perfect, fluffy pancakes?  (Yes, that is peanut butter and syrup - I don't believe there is another way to eat pancakes, personally.)

I spritzed the pan with Pam, heated it to medium, and then with each pancake turned the heat down a notch, as once these pans heat up, they require less heat to cook at higher temperatures than most pans.  When I went to flip them, the pancakes moved as though on the most slick non-stick surface ever, and yet it was stainless steel.  Awesome!

They also tasted as good as they look.  And I have leftovers for tomorrow's breakfast.  (If they last that long.)

In case anyone wants it, the recipe:

Mom's Pancakes

2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 T sugar
2 eggs
Add milk to appropriate thickness

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly, then add eggs and milk.  Stir until smooth, make pancakes as usual.



rhienelleth: (coffee)
You'd really think I'd have one by now. 

Oh, well.

So, I stopped by the local Farmer's Market yesterday, and came away with about two dozen Veteran peaches (a yellow variety common here in Oregon.)

Why two dozen?  Well, you see.  They tasted so amazing - they felt firm on the outside, but when you bit into one they were so sweet and juicy, you'd have to eat them standing over the sink.  I overbought because I fell in love, and had this nebulous idea about eating some, and maybe making jam from the rest.  And I wasn't entirely sure how many I'd need for jam.



Four, as it turns out.

Yes, that's right, four, out of the two dozen peaches I bought.  Of course, that's for a small batch of jam - three 8 oz. jars.  So far, I've made two batches of jam and one 13x9 inch pan of cobbler, and I still have seven peaches left.  Oh, yes, and I've eaten one.  As good as they taste, I'm about peached out.  I do believe I'll make one more batch of jam, and then eat the other three, and be done.  But that's a task for tomorrow.  I've spent most of my day in the kitchen, and frankly I'm exhausted. 

But, I have found a ridiculously simple and fantastic tasting recipe for peach jam.  It's from a cookbook called 'The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving".  Well, it's a slight variation on the recipe.
 

Recipe with pics )

 



rhienelleth: (Default)
Help me, oh F-list!

I want to cook something in the crockpot for dinner tomorrow. We have dinner guests coming over for game night, and crockpot cooking is the easiest way of handling that.

However, I'm tired of doing the same ol' things. Pot roast, beef stew, chili.

What are your favorite crock pot recipes?

Keep in mind, the husband is a meat eater, and not a big fan of chicken. He'll eat it sometimes, but it's not his first choice. Something beef related might be best, but feel free to suggest whatever! Who knows what will make me go "yes, that!"

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