Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Birthday to The Good Baby!

The Good Baby turned one over the weekend. Just now have I cleaned the house, ate all the leftovers and assembled and put away all the new toys.

It was hot as ever-loving hell Saturday. It was 92 with a heat index in the 100s. But even with the oppressive heat, I think everyone had a good time. TGB certainly did.

We had the party in the late afternoon to accommodate nap schedules so we decided to just serve chips and dip and sandwiches. We made a sandwich bar of white or wheat bread, honey baked sliced ham, mesquite sliced turkey, sliced colby and provolone cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato and pickles with a choice of mayo, mustard, Dijon and horseradish.

I forgot to take pictures since I was busy with TGB but I did capture the most important part - the cake:

100% organic vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting made by me

Safari cake for everyone else made by a wonderful local bakery

In the end, it was a great day. TGB was full of sugar and butter and wore out by the end of the day. She could barely stay awake in the bath.

Here's to many many more wonderful birthdays.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I am irrational

I am irrational when it comes to a failed dish. I feel like someone punched me in the face and I want to yell, "Why?! Why you do this to me, Martha?" I feel like I just learned there is no Santa.

This was one of those dishes. Everything seemed like it would be great. I love every single individual ingredient in the dish. I just don't know where the hell it went wrong. Maybe because you are supposed to serve this dish cold. Maybe I didn't cut the noodles up. I don't know. But in any case, this dish was a fail.

I'll give you the recipe and hopefully if you are brave enough to try it, it will work for you. I hope it does since I do irrationally hate a failed dish.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 jalapeno chile, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat if desired)
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
3/4 cup rice vinegar
4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded (from 1 whole chicken), room temperature
1 package (8.8 ounces) cellophane (bean-thread) noodles, prepared according to package instructions
1 English cucumber, cut into 3-inch sticks
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves


~ In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add jalapeno, ginger, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Refrigerate until cool, at least 15 minutes (or up to 1 week).

~ Combine chicken, noodles, cucumber, and cilantro. Drizzle with dressing just before serving.

recipe by: Martha Stewart

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to stock a spice rack

I told you here how I organized my spice rack. I still love it. The only change I think I will make is moving the spices up a drawer, since you know it kills me to bend down the extra 8 inches. Other than my lazy ass, I love my spice drawer.

Now that you know how to organize your spices, you should have a list of what spices you need. I find this is a good general list. There are spices that I have that are more exotic - garam marsala, thai chillies - but those are cook specific, meaning if you don't like those flavors you shouldn't keep them stocked.

~ All-purpose seasoning

~ Allspice, ground

~ Basil

~ Bay leaf

~ Candied citrus peel – orange, lemon

~ Cayenne pepper

~ Celery flakes

~ Celery seed

~ Chili flakes

~ Chili powder

~ Chili seasoning

~ Cinnamon – ground, whole sticks

~ Clove – ground, whole

~ Coriander seed

~ Cream of tartar

~ Crystallized ginger

~ Cumin, ground

~ Dill weed

~ Fennel seed

~ Garlic powder

~ Garlic salt

~ Ginger

~ Grill seasoning

~ Herbs de Provence

~ Italian seasoning

~ Mustard, dried

~ Nutmeg – whole, ground

~ Onion flakes

~ Onion powder

~ Onion salt

~ Oregano

~ Paprika

~ Parsley

~ Pepper

~ Peppercorns, whole – black, white, green, red

~ Poultry seasoning

~ Red pepper flakes

~ Rosemary

~ Rubbed sage leaves

~ Saffron threads

~ Season salt

~ Seeds – poppy, sesame

~ Taco seasoning

~ Tarragon

~ Thyme

~ Vanilla beans

~ Vanilla extract

~ Yeast

~ Yellow mustard seed

Monday, June 21, 2010

100 Mile Dinner

There is a movement to eat local that seems to be popular these days. There are also a ton of variations of the "eat local" motto. Some practice eating things produced within 100 miles of you. Some have wider regions they consider "local". It's all about what you consider local.

I try to eat local a majority of the time. When The Good Husband and I do go out to eat we try to eat a non-chain, locally owned places. I'm not fooling myself into thinking that everything they cook there is 100% locally produced but at least my money stays close to home and the business pays taxes to the fire, police, library and schools I use.

To me that is local enough.

This was the local meal that didn't know it was. Really, I didn't think anything about it until it was on the table and I realized everything - excluding one ingredient was local. I smirked to myself and thought how easy this eating local thing is.

The 100 mile dinner - give or take a few miles - included:
Pork patties bought from a local farm
Butter crisped herb potatoes from the farmer's market
Broccoli and cheese sauce from the farmer's market and local cheese farm
Side salad of blue cheese and walnuts from the farmer's market and local cheese farm
Glass of local wine

Butter Crisped Herb Potatoes

Baby Yukon Gold potatoes, washed
Herb seasoning, I use Riley's All Purpose

~In a large pot, bring water to a full boil and add salt and potatoes. Boil until potatoes are almost fork tender. Remove from water, quarter.

~Meanwhile in a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter and add oil. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Season with herbs and toss again. Allow the potatoes to sit in skillet to get a golden crust on one side, about seven minutes. Turn once and allow the other side to crisp. Serve hot.

recipe by: The Good Wife

Trip to the Farmer's Market 5

TttFM 3 and 4 were a bust. I mainly bought baked goods and no veggies.

But this time I was ready to get some produce and I finally remembered my camera.

This was the line for strawberries. It was at least this long the entire hour I was at the market.

Heirloom tomatoes

Carrots, onions

Beets, kohlrabi

My haul

I came home with salad greens, green beans, blueberries, Yukon gold potatoes, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, broccoli, green onions and rainbow carrots. While we were at the market, The Good Baby and I shared an organic blueberry scone and an organic iced coffee.

County Fair

The Good Baby and I took a little field trip to the county fair last week. It was hot as hell. It was in the 90s but with 75% humidity so very very oppressive. Humidity is the one thing I could do without here in the Midwest.

TGB and I only stayed a few hours since it was so hot and there weren't a ton of rides she could ride on. Also, she couldn't really eat anything there that wouldn't make me feel guilty. She had fun, though and I got sunburned. Badly.

So what did we eat? TGB had a lemonade shakeup while I had a frozen mocha, mini donuts, pretzel with cheese and a corn dog.

I am excited for the state fair later this summer so this was a good trial run.

I also have to say that I love the WTF look on her face while we were waiting for the merry-go-round to start. She did like it once it took off. I think the breeze helped.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homemade French Dressing

It's been salad week at The Good Household. I've been a tad overwhelmed with planning for The Good Baby's first birthday, work and all the other tasks that seem to pile up, so I was more than happy to have an excuse to be lazy in the kitchen.

The Good Husband likes "manly" salads. That means salad with meat, basically. More specifically, a salad of romaine, carrots, tomato, cucumber, sometimes cheese but always sliced steak. His favorite dressing is French, which is good since I don't like it. We don't fight over the last drop out of the bottle.

Amazingly The Good Grandma had two recipes for French Dressing. This is from her Great Aunt and I now share it with you.

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup oil (I used canola)
1/2 sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

~ Combine all the ingredients in a clean mason jar and shake the shit out of it until combined.

recipe by: A distant relative to The Good Husband

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Roast Beef Panini

This is dinner for one of those nights where all you really have is the energy to make is a pb&j. Since a panini is the grown up version of a sandwich, you don't have to feel guilty for making such an easy dinner.

I like to serve seasoned oven fries with this and a side salad and call it a day.

Also, don't let some fancy cooking magazine tell you you need a sandwich press. You don't. You can save kitchen space and money and use a grill pan and a grill press and you will be fine. Or you can use a grill pan and a smaller pan to smoosh down the sandwich. Add a can of something - corn, green beans, tomatoes - to weight the pan.

But if you are just dying to spend $60, you can always just send the money my way.

2 slices of french bread
Canola oil
Roast beef
Cheddar cheese
Horseradish Mayo (mayo with horseradish to taste)
Sliced red onion

~Heat a grill pan over medium high heat.

~Brush one side of the slice of bread with canola oil. Spread the mayo on the opposite side of the bread. Place the oiled side down in the grill pan. Layer cheese, onion and meat on the bread.

~ Brush one side of the slice of bread with canola oil. Spread the mayo on the opposite side of the bread. Place the bread, mayo side down on the sandwich in the pan and using either a grill press or a small pan, toast the sandwich until golden brown, about 5 minutes each side, turning once.

~Serve immediately.

recipe by: The Good Wife

Monday, June 14, 2010

How to stock a pantry

Having a well stocked pantry is an important factor in meal planning. Most of the time all you need to complete a meal is a protein and veggies. Below is a list of common ingredients that should fill your pantry so you can make a meal with ease. When there is an ingredient listed, such as rice, what follows are suggestions on different types and the kinds I use the most.

~ Anchovy paste

~ Baking chocolate squares – all-purpose, unsweetened, bittersweet, german, white

~ Baking mixes – pancake, bread, cornbread

~ Baking powder

~ Baking soda

~ BBQ sauce

~ Bread – white, whole wheat, pita, tortilla; corn and flour

~ Breadcrumbs – plain, seasoned, panko

~ Canned tomatoes - whole, diced, crushed, stewed, paste

~ Canned meat – tuna, chicken, salmon

~ Canned milk – sweetened condensed, evaporated

~ Chocolate and other baking chips – milk, semisweet, dark, white, butterscotch, peanut butter

~ Cocoa powder

~ Corn meal

~ Corn starch

~ Corn syrup

~ Cream of Wheat

~ Dried and canned beans – pinto, black, navy, great northern, garbanzo, kidney; light and dark

~ Dried mushrooms – porcini, oyster, button, crimini, shiitake

~ Flour – all purpose, whole wheat, bread, pastry, cake

~ Gelatin – instant, unflavored

~ Honey

~ Instant coffee powder – coffee, espresso

~ Jam/jelly – grape, strawberry, boysenberry

~ Ketchup

~ Maple syrup

~ Molasses

~ Mustard – yellow, whole grain, Dijon

~ Nuts – pine, walnut, peanut, pecan, almond

~ Oats – quick cooking, old fashion rolled

~ Oil – extra virgin olive, canola, vegetable, sesame

~ Pasta; noodles – spaghetti, angel hair, fettuccini, linguini, lasagna, cellophane

~ Pasta; shaped – orzo, penne, shells; small and large, rotini

~ Peanut butter – crunchy, smooth, natural

~ Polenta – quick cooking, traditional

~ Rice – long gain white, brown, jasmine, Arborio, basmati

~ Salt – table, kosher

~ Shortening

~ Soy sauce

~ Stock – beef, chicken, vegetable, seafood

~ Sugar – white, super fine, brown; light and dark, powdered

~ Sun-dried tomatoes

~ Vinegar – white distilled, apple cider, white wine, rice wine, champagne, balsamic

Up next - how to stock a spice rack

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ice cream and cake! Ice cream and cake!

Ok, not really but it is birthday cake flavored ice cream.

True story - On our honeymoon in Hawaii, The Good Husband and I had a fabulous dinner at our hotel. I had the seared salmon, TGH had the seafood lasagna, quite a stretch for him at the time. I was proud, in love, happy and full. We then went on a stroll on the beach and window shopping.

Then TGH spotted a famous, but not available near us, ice cream place. He ordered a large ice cream and I was so sad that I was so full from dinner I couldn't have ice cream.

Years pass. I hear about how awesome the ice cream place is and I curse my stomach from being full on my honeymoon and not allowing me the seemingly only chance I would have to eat such a wonderful dessert. But a miracle occurred.

The popular ice cream place came to our area. I was able to finally try it. I had the birthday cake batter ice cream since that was the flavor I had heard the most raves about. All the praise was well earned. So it was no wonder that this was one of the first flavors I made with my ice cream maker.

This was also the first ice cream I made that called for eggs. I don't know if it was because the fat content was higher in this but the ice cream mix froze in no time in my machine. I think it froze hard enough to stop the machine (if you have the ice cream attachment for the KA Stand Mixer, you know what I am talking about) within ten minutes. It also froze to rock solid in the freezer.

1/2 cup yellow cake mix
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk

Over medium heat, bring 1 cup of heavy cream, sugar, salt, and cake mix to a simmer. Separately, beat the egg yolks lightly in a medium sized bowl. Add a 1/4 cup of the simmered cream mixture to the egg yolks and mix. This is to temper the eggs and prevent them from curdling when added to the whole mixture. Add a bit more and mix, then add the entire egg mixture to the simmered cream. Stir with a whisk until the mixture forms a thin custard, about 5 to 10 minutes (or it reaches about 175 on a thermometer). Take off heat and add the remaining milk and heavy cream. Stir, then chill in the fridge.

Once the mixture is completely chilled, add the milk and stir in. Add the mixture to your ice cream machine and chill accordingly.

recipe by: The Tasty Kitchen

Friday, June 4, 2010

Trip to the Farmer's Market #2

I haven't yet made it to the weekend market so this is what I was able to get at the night time market. It is still too dark to take photos at the actual location but I did capture what I purchased.

A few pounds of red 'taters
1 bag of black walnuts
1 bunch carrots
1 package homemade English muffins
1 pint of strawberries
A few tomatoes
1 mini vanilla bean bunt cake
Organic mozzarella

I also picked up a pack of homemade basil champagne fettuccine but forgot to put it in the picture. Oops.

For dinner, The Good Baby and I had a tomato and mozzarella salad and bunt cake and strawberries for dessert.

I made some herbed 'taters for The Good Husband to eat with his lamb chops.

I plan on making some black walnut ice cream soon, since it is one of TGH's favorite flavors.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

We have a winner!Congratulations to edmontonjb. You will win a $40 gift certificate to CSN stores.

Thanks to everyone that entered, tweeted, followed and liked. Thanks!