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This is a post about complete AMAZEMENT!!!…….. and Cauliflower.

Off the web, didn't think to take one of my own.

Off the web, didn't think to take one of my own.

As some of you know and other’s may have guessed, mine is not a house of the most svelte people on earth.  It also doesn’t take heavy detective work to realize this is not a low fat household (did you catch the pun?).  If the truth be told I am much more open to veggies, sea food and lighter fair, Ray on the other hand is not only picky but wants nothing more than stick to your ribs, meat and potatoe kinds of meals.  The truth is, though, we are “maturing” (hell, we are aging and fast) and need to become slightly big time more conscious of our diet.  No easy task considering picky boy!!!!

A couple weeks ago, as I was getting ready to leave for work I was half paying attention to the Dr. Oz Show, when they mentioned something about “healthy” Fettucine Alfredo……. cream, egg yolks, butter and cheese…..yea right!!!!  What they, Dr. Oz and Dave Lieberman who adapted the recipe,  put forth intrigued the Hell out of me!!!  Today,  while shopping, I put my plan into action….as we were in the produce section I walked over to and looked longingly at a beautiful head of cauliflower;

Ray walks over and says, “are you gonna get that?”,

I respond, “no, you wouldn’t eat it.”,

He says, “get it, I will try it.”,

I think, “SUCKER!!!”.

We get home and get the groceries put away and I start on some pasta dough.  Ray asks, “what’s for dinner” “Alfredo” I say.  He isn’t a huge fan but he knows it is a favorite of mine so he was outnumbered!!  Luckily, he had made a commitment to a neighbor to lend a hand and this gave me complete freedom in the kitchen ( I didn’t have to hide a damned thing I was doing).  While he was away I basically followed Dave’s recipe with a couple minor changes.

CHANGES:

2TBS Butter instead of 2TBS Olive Oil (let’s not push this health kick thing too far!)

Copious amounts of crushed garlic (can’t live without it)

Fresh Basil and Oregano (just planted the stuff and I am already stripping it bare)

That’s it kids, no other changes.  So time for an assessment, I guess.

TOTALLY FREAKIN’ AWESOME!! (My Response)

“This is the best Alfredo you have made.”  (Ray’s response)

Bite me Ray, I just made you eat cauliflower!!!!!  This is a definite must try, truthfully I would never have known it was made with cauliflower and not cream and egg yolks had  I not made it myself…..The best I have ever made?  That’s debatable Ray!!!!!

Tossin' it!

Plated Up!

Best ever? WTF-ever!!!

Chalk one up for the Bear!!!  As you may well know, I spend a bit of time in the kitchen and very few things scare me in there.  I am always game to give new things a try and I usually succeed.  There is one ingredient in the kitchen which has caused me much grief….I have attempted its use numerous times and my success rate is minimal.  In fact my failure rate is so high that I have dubbed myself…..SleepingBear-Killer of Yeast.   Not tonight kiddies!!!

Ray and I were off today and we used it to do a few things around the house, as the day progressed thoughts of dinner came to mind.  Truthfully, I had no plan so it was one of those look in the fridge and see what needs to be used soon kind of days.  The freezer revealed a couple of chicken breasts and the deli drawer contained 3 thick cut slices of applewood smoked bacon and a smallish chunk of cheddar….”yea, what am I going to do with that?”.  Finish up the last of the household chores and think.

The wheels began to turn and bechamel came to mind.  Pasta came to mind.  We are getting there!!  After just a little more thought, I came up with a “white lasagne”.  Dice the bacon, fry it up, slice the breast into thin crosscuts, fry them in the bacon drippings.  Use a couple Tbs. of the bacon drippings as a starter for the roux for the bechamel.  A quick batch of fresh pasta sheets, layer it all with a bit of cheddar and dinner will be served.

As of late Ray has been on a bread baking kick, which he is actually getting pretty good at (unlike moi!) and we have a little less than half a loaf of his bread leftover from the other day.  Homemade bread, unfortunately can get dry rather quickly and this half loaf is currently in the “only good for toast” stage.  I wasn’t getting cleaned up and dressed to run to the store for something to sop up the excess bechamel but I also wanted that exact thing.  What the hell, give the yeast thing another try!   hahahaha

A quick search for a simple and quick breadstick recipe and I was on my way.  The milk and onions were sweating on the stove awaiting to become the sauce.  The chicken was browning wonderfully in the bacon drippings.   The pasta sheets were drying just slightly awaiting to be layered.  And the kitchenaid was kneading the dough for the breadsticks.  Everything was happening at once, not a moment to breathe….one task to the next and then again on to the next.  The breadstick dough is a single rise for approximately 50 mins, so I got the lasagne together, set it aside and then formed the sticks.  Into the oven the lasagne went and onto the counter went the sticks… but will they raise or have I once again killed millons of yeast spores in one fell swoop???

50 minutes later this is what I saw…

Living Yeast at it's best!!!

The lasagne came out of the oven and in went the sticks.  15 minutes of rest for the lasagne and bake time for the sticks and dinner was served!!!

Fresh out of the oven "John didn't kill the yeast" breadsticks.

Dinner is served.

Taken in the dark and with not an ounce of styling...so sue me!!!!

Feb.6, 2010 was an anniversary (you don’t need to know which!) of my 29th birthday (I will never turn 30…EVER!!) and also the day most of the east coast got blanketed in a very thick layer of snow.  As the clock struck midnight and the day rolled in, I had just set the sleep timer on the TV and was settling in for the night.  About 35 mins later I awoke with a start to no television, hmmmm, I know I set it for 90 minutes….what’s up now???  I made my way into the hallway and tried the light switch….nothing.  I then made my way to the spare bedroom and looked out the window, not a light on on the street!!  I looked further down and saw a few neighbors out shoveling their walk, defeated, I figured I might as well join them, best to get a jump on the snow!!! I was back in bed by 2am.

Fast forward 16 hours…the snow had stopped but not before dumping 22″ (official count but my backyard says 28″), we had shoveled for hours, the sun was again setting and dinner was calling.  The only thing was the electric had still not come back on..the house temp was reading about 54 (it bottomed out at 43 before the power returned) so I had 2 stockpots of water boiling to get some steam heat going.  What to do about dinner though?  I had some sweet italian sausage thawing in the fridge, which wasn’t going to make it to its intended use, so I figured sausage, home fries and eggs.  I threw a couple potatoes in one of the stockpots to par cook and got out the sausage, well the truth be told, I had no desire to pull out different pans to bring this meal together so it was improvise….Frittata!!!!  As some of you may know, Ray is a VERY picky eater and when I say “frittata” he says “eww”, however I was cold, tired, sore and truthfully not in the mood to please his pickiness…my anthem became “frittata or starve”.  I sliced the sausage and by the time it was done the potatoes were perfectly done to fry as homefries.  Now I can’t imagine I am saying this but it was such a welcome task to peel those right out of the pot potatoes barehanded……HEAT and lots of it!!!  I pulled the sausage from the pan and gave the potatoes a rough dice and threw them in till they were nicely browned and crispy, back in went the sausage.   I whipped up 6 eggs with a bit of water and salt and threw that in as well.  Damn!!!!!  I have an electronic igniter which can not be bypassed to light the broiler…ok then, a flipped frittata.   Oh Hell no!!!  I was too tired, sore and shaky from the cold to attempt a manual flip by candle light…now what?  I grabbed a lid and partially covered the pan, turned the flame down low and prayed for a done and non burnt frittata.  After some time dinner was served and quite edible.  We finished the night off with a few rounds of Yahtzee by candle light, then shivered the night away under many, many blankets.

8am this morn we awake, again, no power!!!!  Grand!  Immediately I dressed to go check on the elderly couple next door, I knock and Rose opens the door, in she beckons me…”you are gonna let out the heat” she says.  I walk in and the house is quite toasty….yea they were doing the big no no that so many old school folk do….they had the gas burners lit the night through!!!  After scolding them a bit and knowing that I wasn’t going to change their ways, I exited, Rose followed me out onto the porch and we continued to chat, 5 minutes later Nino pops his head out the door and told us the power had returned!  Hot damn!!!  Anyone that had been outside immediately went back in to enjoy the chance to join the 21st century again!!  After a bit of time, it became apparent that no plow was in sight, so one by one the neighborhood came together and we dug our way out.  By 3 in the afternoon we were again cold, tired and hungry.  In we went for a late lunch…we had power and we had leftover frittata so in the microwave it went.  We sat down to share the last bit of this cooked in the dark meal and finally Ray looks at me and says, ” ya know, this is pretty good”.  It was in that moment  I learned that after living life like the folks in “Little House on the Prairie” for over 36 hours….Ray ain’t so picky afterall!!!!!

For those of you that have visited before and are wondering….yes I do cook things other than cake!!!  Seems I have been on a cake binge as of late, but really I haven’t made anything worthy of a post till this one!

This particular recipe came my way through my browser’s reader and immediately I knew I was gonna give it a shot.  Not because it was terribly different, terribly hard or any such madness but because it sounded terribly up my alley as far as taste goes!!!

Now I love lobster, filet and all the culinary stars but my favorite meal of all time, ALL TIME I say is…

The Hamburger!

No turkey burgers or veggie burger for me, I absolutely adore the good old fashioned 100% beef hamburger!!  So are you aware yet that I love hamburgers??  Well if not….hamburger, hamburger, hamburger, beef, beef, beef, YUM, YUM, YUM!!!

Now I am not gonna bore ya with the recipe details, as I said it is terribly simple, so check it out here!

What I did do differently this time was bake my own hamburger buns.  I am learning my way around yeast and I wanted to give it a go.  I sent out a request to my baking buddies and was rewarded with not one but 5 easy yet tasty recipes for breads that could easily show off a good burger.  I decided upon Bread Chick Mary’s ” No Fail Farmer’s Bread“.  I did an eeney, meeney, miney, moe kinda thing to choose which recipe to use but I was pleased I landed on this one.  The reason being it said no fail, well, I am not yet steady on my feet with yeast, so I figured this would be a test.  If I screwed this one up, then maybe I should stay away from the yeast.  Well, it is truly no fail and now I am working my way through the other for recipes I received.

That being said, I am just gonna go for the quick menu, a picture or two and a skedaddle out the door here….

  • Cheddar burgers with balsamic onions and chipotle ketchup
  • Watermelon Salad with Balsamic, basil and red onions
  • Busch’s Baked beans (concession to Ray)
  • No Fail Farmer’s bread
Buns awaiting a rise!!!

Buns awaiting a rise!!!

Done Buns!!!!!!!

Done Buns!!!!!!!

Now that's a burger!!

Now that's a burger!!

Ciao for now…..or would that be CHOW!!!!

As for the Post Title…Well if you weren’t there then no explanation would even make sense!! Sorry , but that’s the best I can give ya!!

It is said the journey is often better than the destination.

The destination here being a wonderful sunday evening meal of…

Garden Salad w/Olive Oil and Lemon
Chicken Piccata Ravioli
ButterHorn Garlic Knots

Dinner Done Done

The salad of course was a simple endeavor, garden greens tossed with a light lemon and olive oil vineagrette. The ravioli were a take on classic chicken piccatta, instead of scallopine of chicken, I made a filling of two ground breasts (chicken of course), sauted ’em up in a little O.O., added a touch of lemon zest and grated Parmigiano. Then onto total psychosis, I have made homemade pasta quite a few times but this time I decided, “let’s do it Nona’s way” hand rolled, no pasta roller. FEH!!!! How those ladies did it, I’ll never know! I rolled, I sweated and then I rolled some more, I was rather pleased as I could actually make out the grain in the counter under the sheets of pasta. That being said, it was quite tasty in the end, however it was a far cry from Nona’s micron thick angel hair!!!

“What?” you ask would inspire such madness…

The Bakeanistas

and their quest for the Ultimate Garlic Knot recipe. A garlic knot is pretty easy to explain, a yeast dough, formed into a rope, tied into a knot, baked and then SLATHERED in garlic butter.

A Bakeanista however is a little more difficult to pin down. I believe the text book definition is a small collective of friends and online buddies that get together to bake and chat…

Kinda like a 1950’s “Coffee Klutch” updated for the 21st century via Cyber Space.

You may ask, “how much can y’all chat about baking?’… well I have only been around for 2 scheduled bakefests and one or two impromptu chats and I would have to say… not alot!!! Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of good info discussed but this group gets onto topics that would make Sophie Tucker blush!!!

Boy Toys and Penises and Breasts, Oh My!!!!

Hint Hint: Check out the title of the post again!!

OK, so onto the meat (or in this case dough) of the matter, it all started when Lis and Mary were discussing garlic rolls. Now this is a bit of a “which came first, the chicken or the egg situation here…

Lis has a restaurant close to her with SUCKY food but great garlic rolls

and

Mary found a great recipe for garlic rolls from King Arthur Flour.

And thus our bakefest for June was born!!

10:30 am, a bit late, I joined the baking and bawdy chat.

We had a choice between two rolls, the King Arthur or ButterHorn versions…

Both recipes, as well as my pasta and piccatta recipes can be found here.

I went with the ButterHorn version, as I am but a novice in the ways of yeast and the KA version had some ingredients I don’t have readily at hand. Altho, with two yeast victories under my belt, this one and one you will hear of soon enough, I fully intend to give the KA version a go!!! The day had quite alot of things going on, so I was back and forth with chat, kitchen duty and life in general but what it ultimately produced was pretty damned good!!

And now my “tassleless” garlic knots!

No Yeastie Beastie gonna scare me no mo\'!!!!

After Ray and I sat down to dinner and cleaned up, I went back to see who if anyone was still hanging on. Damn near 8.5 hours later from original sign on, the free for all was still in full swing.

Last I recall there was some talk of penis turds or turd penises (or would that be penii?)

And that is but a glimpse into the great journey that ended in a Fantabulous Sunday dinner!!!

And with a Herald of trumpets here they be…

The Bakeanistas

Ben

Christina

Helen

Ivonne

Kelly

Laura

Lis

Marcela

Mary

Sara

Stephanie

Tanna

and Myself

Today being my day off and the flower beds dug and ready for planting, it was my intent to run and buy flats of flowers and get the outside in order…however it seems April Showers are running behind schedule and May flowers need to wait. Now, it really isn’t a gloom and doom kinda day but it is mighty grey , I really was hopin’ for SUN!!!!!

The house being in order, the trash out already for tomorrow’s pick-up and not much else to do, I set my sights to dinner. Still wanting sun, and currently not winning the battle, the grill came to mind. Rummaging through the kitchen, I find some chicken breasts, rice, pineapple…there it is my sun at last!!!

Now I am really not one for recipes when cooking so I will try my best with what I did for…

Pineapple Chicken Kabobs with Coconut Rice

Pineapple Chicken Kabobs with Coconut Rice

Marinade:

  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs gr. ginger
  • 2-3 threads saffron
  • gr. pepper to taste (around here it is ALOT!)

Reserve a 1/4 cup marinade for brushing the kabobs as they grill. Marinade 1 chicken breast (cut in 1 inch cubes) per person in remaining juice for an hour (ish). Assemble the Kabobs using whatever suits your taste… today I used simply

  • chicken cubes
  • pineapple chunks
  • yellow onion quarters (trim but don’t remove root end, keeps them together)
  • sweet baby bell peppers

In the past I have used

  • shrimp in place of chicken
  • blanched sweet potatoe cubes
  • mangoe
  • orange segments (not really the easiest but tasty as all get out)
  • and other things that struck my fancy

Place kabobs on heated (med/high) grill turning and brushing frequently with reserved marinade, till nicely caremelized and cooked though (20-25mins approx).

Coconut Rice:

  • 1 cup rice (long grain, brown, wild, just nothing too terribly starchy)
  • 1 med yellow onion fine dice
  • 1 cup chicken stock (vegetable stock or H2O work as well)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup toasted coconut
  • 2-3 Tbs olive oil
  • S&P to taste

Heat oil to smoking, add onion, saute till fragrant, add rice and continue sauteing till translucent (I actually let the rice brown a bit). Add chicken stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil, cover and then reduce heat to minimum. Let cook 15 mins, turn off heat and let rest another 15 mins. Toss in toasted coconut (reserve some for garnish) and “fluff” rice with a fork.

Assemble plate, I mold my rice in ramekins and then place kabobs around (but then my skewers are circular), so basically make it a “pretty” plate, sprinkle with reserved coconut and chow down!!!!

We are eating late, as Ray worked till 9 pm but I finally got my SUN!!!!

Just a couple asides on this post…

For dessert we had a white chocolate mousse with tropical fruit folded in, save some toasted coconut to top it off!

I accompanied the kabobs with a Sauvignon Blanc from a local vintner. Christian W. Klay winery is located in Chalk Hill Pa, “who’da thunk” wine from Pennsylvania!! Sharon does a great job with her wines and if you are ever in this neck off the woods check out the winery, she does great events!

The dinnerware is also from a local company, Riverside Design Group, in Pittsburgh Pa. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Luckily someone out there likes me and got me a service for 8.