Thursday, April 29, 2010

Produce, anyone?

(I feel that the above picture is EXACTLY how I have been feeling about cleaning up after dinner lately. Not lately, always. I hate clean up. Plus, her hair is way cute.)

While planting some seeds the other day, (lettuce and strawberry, if you are interested!!!) and thinking about what other produce and herbs I would like to plant soonish as this weather finally gives itself over to spring, I remembered that farmer's markets will soon be open for business.

I love farmer's markets. I started frequenting the one in DeKalb while Evan was in law school and I stumbled upon not only fantastic prices for fresh produce, but some new produce that either I'd never seen or hadn't thought to purchase before. I've also found produce in colors I didn't know they came in, and that is always a fun find! (For example, did you know that cauliflower can be yellow and purple?) I also really like the idea of supporting local farmers. They are so friendly and love answering questions about their crops.

So, as I start reaping the benefits of my own garden soon and that of other people's, I want to know...

What is your favorite fresh produce? And how do you cook it/eat it? I'm on the hunt for new ways of cooking veggies and I'd love some that come from your houses!!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Scrambled Egg Burritos

I love a good breakfast. I also love a good breakfast for dinner. That's why this recipe called to me. Plus, I had all the ingredients handy, which is always a plus when meal planning.

This recipe is from Rachel Ray's magazine. My friend has a bunch of RR's cookbooks and magazine menus and has lent them to me. I heart friends that share recipes. It really is a requirement in order to be my friend.

The ingredients:
eggs; sour cream; jalapenos; corn; 1/2 of a red pepper; bacon fat; cilantro; bacon; tortilla shells; salt; pepper; cheddar cheese.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it is very loosey goosey. You want can make as much of this as you want or as little. You can add your own special twist to it. You could go insane!!!! I love those kind of recipes that invoke the loss of your sanity.

I would like to show you these eggs. I think I have mentioned before that my friend Rachel has 8 chickens. These chickens are fabulous because they lay these delicious eggs. Love.

Oh, and I must show you this:
It's my bacon fat. Yep, I have a whole jar of it. I don't remember who/what/where, but I became obsessed with having my own jar of bacon fat for cooking. So, I started collecting it and now I have a full jar. And this is the first recipe that called for bacon fat and I was so excited!!!! Evan was concerned over my excitement of using bacon fat. I think sometimes he worries about me.

Okay, enough of my ramblings. Let's cook!

Preheat your oven to around 375 degrees. We're cooking our bacon in the oven, you see. I find this way of cooking not only way easier, but also better for my clothes which are thankful to not have grease splattered all over them anymore. Take a cookie sheet and cover it with foil. Then place the bacon on it. Throw it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your bacon.
Next, take 3/4 C. of sour cream and put it in a small bowl.
Add one tsp. of jalapenos (unless you like the spice and then add more).
Stir. You will be using this when we put our burritos together later.
Now, let's slice this red pepper.
Good job!
And now it's time for the bacon grease!!!!!!!! Take one tablespoon...
and throw it in a warm skillet.
This corn is for our side dish, so use as much as you'd like. I think I used 12 oz. Once the bacon fat has melted, toss in the corn.
And the red pepper slices.
And the cilantro. Of course you can use fresh cilantro, but Evan bought me freeze dried cilantro and I love it. This is about 1/4 of a cup.
And another tsp. of jalapenos. I actually ended up using more because I do like the spice.
Stir until the red peppers and corn are cooked through. Then put in a dish and set aside.
Now, take more of that glorious bacon fat (FYI: you can always use the bacon grease from the bacon you're cooking if you are not a dork and do not have a jar of bacon grease in your refrigerator) and add two more Tbsp. to the just cleaned off skillet.
Scramble as many eggs as you'd like to have in your burritos (I used 6) and toss them onto the bacon grease.
Hooray! The bacon is done! And look, more grease to refill my jar with!!!!!
Now, let's build our burritos. Take a tortilla shell.
Add some cheese.
Some scrambled egg.
A dollop of your spicy sour cream.
And some bacon slices. Then wrap it up and cut in half.
And, VIOLA!, you have scrambled egg burritos.
Here's the inside. Yum...

We all loved these. No one was a big fan of the corn side dish. It was kind of bleh. Next time I plan on serving it with hash browns or fruit or something else more "breakfasty". But, the burritos? They were wonderful!!! Next time I might add pepper or mushrooms. Or different cheeses!! Both girls loved them too. And, the leftovers warmed up very nicely the next morning. It's an easy dish I will definitely be making again!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chocolate Fudge Pie Failure.

I have a story to tell you. It is the story of a pie that could have been.

It all starts in my kitchen. On Thursdays, a couple of my friends and our families meet at our friend Rachel's house for dinner. We take turns making the meals. It was not my week, but I really wanted to make a pie and share it with all of you here. So, I found a recipe for a Chocolate Fudge Pie and was excited I had all of the ingredients:
I made the filling and was getting ready to pour it into my pie shell, when I took a lick to see what it tasted like.

It was gross. Disgusting. Something was terribly wrong. I look at the ingredients and realize my horrible mistake: I'd used molasses instead of dark corn syrup.

I can not even tell you how completely yucky that pie filling was or how relieved I was that I hadn't poured it into the shell, because I was determined to mend my mistake at Rachel's house. I called her to see if she had corn syrup, and thankfully, she was at Super Target and picked some up for me.

So, I started a new at her house, with the correct ingredients:
I stirred them together.
See these eggs? Rachel's chickens laid them that very morning. Because she has 8 chickens and it is a wonderful thing...because she shares her eggs with me and I lurve fresh eggs for breakfast.
Every thing went well. I triple tasted the filling and it was very very sweet, but good.
I poured it into the pie filling.

And I baked it. A loooong time. It was bubbling and seemed to have set, so I took it out to let it cool. But....
This is what it looked like. It looked like I'd filled a pie crust with fudge topping for ice cream and was pretending it was a pie.
I have no idea what went wrong. I don't know if it should have cooked even longer. I don't know if the ingredients need modified. I do know that it was soooooo sweet that I actually cringed when I ate it. I do know that I accidentally used sweetened chocolate when I should have used unsweetened. I do not know if perchance it should have been chilled.

But, the children loved it, gooey failure and all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

This Week's Menu

Monday: PW's Chicken Spaghetti
Squash and Zucchini

Tuesday: Baked Tilapia

Wednesday: Baked Chicken Lasagna Rolls
A vegetable of some sort

Thursday: Dinner at Rachel's House!!!

Friday: Fried Rice
Egg Rolls

Saturday: BBQ Chicken
Baked Potatoes
Mac & Cheese

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Banana Bread

Banana bread is a favorite in our home. We usually go through banana "phases" where I can't keep up because everyone is eating a banana almost every day (and for some people, more than one...*cough*Julia*cough*). Then, after having to buy bunches of bananas multiple times throughout the week, the banana "phase" will end and I'm stuck with a bunch of bananas that no one wants that are starting to ripen just a little too much.

When this happens, I throw the bananas into the freezer for future banana bread. My mom is always startled by my frozen, now black, bananas I have just sitting in a drawer in my freezer. I think it grosses her out. I tell her that I don't have to use frozen bananas, but it works better for me. Then I don't feel pressured to make banana bread when the bananas are super ripe--because what if I only have one super ripe banana? That's not enough to make banana bread. And what if I have like 5 too ripe bananas? That's too many and we can't eat that much banana bread before it goes stale.

These are my problems, people. Overly ripe banana usage.

So, I freeze my bananas and then I make delicious banana bread when I so choose. And now I shall share my recipe with you!

I went through quite a few recipes before I found this one that turns out perfectly for me each and every time.

The ingredients:
3 overripe bananas; 1 1/2 C. flour; 1 C. sugar; 1/2 tsp. baking soda; dash of salt; 1 egg; 1/2 stick of butter, melted. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Now, if you have 3 overripe bananas that were not frozen, then just peel them and toss them into a small bowl for mushing. If your bananas are frozen, then either let them thaw on the counter (caution: they will leak) or defrost them in the microwave. Then, peel the top off and squeeze the bananas out of the peel. Yes, this does look gross. I'm sorry.
Mash the bananas.
In the mixer bowl, add the flour...
the sugar...
the baking soda...
the salt (a dash of salt, to me, means 1/8th of a tsp, just so you know)...the egg...
the melted butter...
and the mashed bananas.
Mix until well blended.
Make sure that you really grease the loaf pan, because nothing is worse than freshly baked bread that won't come out of the pan!
Pour the bread mixture into the pan and toss it in the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
And, TA DA!, you have a lovely loaf of banana bread.
I usually scrape the edges of the bread while it's still hot to double ensure that it will not stick to the pan. (Can you tell I have issues with sticky bread?)
Let the bread cool.
Here it is. Look how brown and yummy...