Monday, December 31, 2007

Pantry Dinners: Sunday & Monday

Well, I was really hungry and was down to my last pack of ramen noodles. You know it had to be sad around here. So Sunday: bad stir fry. Noodles, peas, sprouts, crab, and sauce = Suck.

Later that night, I discovered quesadilla components and scraped up a pretty good second dinner.

Tonight, easy tomato sauce and spaghetti. Infinitely better than the stir fry.

I haven't bought food or fast food. I have however spent a good deal of money on the vending machine sodas, so I'll pick up a case. Otherwise, so far so good. Of course, I got to cheat by eating pizza and hamburgers over at the boyfriend's house for two nights. All's fair.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pantry Dinner: Thursday

My current kitchen resolution: no grocery shopping until January 7. That's the first day of school. This excludes fresh vegetables or "pantry staples" to aid clearing out the pantry. It's packed with crap I didn't know I had. I know a lot of you are in the same position. Since my kitchen reorganization is nearly complete and everyone's budget is slim from the holidays, now is a good time to challenge yourself not to spend anymore. Along with this, I am not allowed to buy fast food. Most of the time, I really don't want to eat it anways, but I've got nothing at home and don't feel like cooking it. Sad huh?

Tonights dinner: Asian Shrimp Rice

1 box Rice-a-Roni Asian Flavors rice mix
1 can shrimp

Cook and serve time: 20 minutes

I'm actually surprised at how good the rice is. Most "asian-flavored" rice mixes taste like ass. Does it taste asian? No, except for the hint of soy sauce. Still, Rice-a-Roni usually pulls through. A little plate with a glass of homemade iced tea and a plate of cookies bigger than my head, and that's a meal!

Isn't it pretty?


Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I officially have more desserts than I can eat in a year. It's only slightly more bearable because I know pretty much everyone else in the Western hemisphere is facing the same problem. So there are going to be a few recipes added here in the near future. You know, after I snap out of my diabetic coma.

For everyone celebrating, Cheers!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Snow and Ice Cupcakes

Remember those cookies for teachers? If you've learned anything about me it's that you get treats if you're nice. Well, the apartment staff has been very nice and I decided to thank them. Since I saw these Snow and Ice Cupcakes on the Shazam blog, I knew I had to make them. I was going to follow the recipe! Really! But obviously didn't. It's totally my fault and I've been kicking myself all day, but not too hard since they turned out great.

I made the cupcake exactly like the recipe said, though I combined steps because I was short on bowls. I did one pan of mini-cup cakes for the staff, one loaf tin for the Best Friend's parents, and big cupcakes for me and mine. Use liners! I don't know what was wrong, but these did not want to come out of the tins. I think I didn't spray enough, but beware. The cupcakes aren't white-chocolate flavored, it just gives them that creaminess and a hint of something more. Originally, I thought there was too little mint extract, but it's enough. It's just there to hint and be pleasant, not gargle for you.

So far so good. Naturally at this point I hit a snag. I didn't buy enough eggs. Okay, fine, I said I'd buy them today. Only I woke up late, the staff office closes at 4 pm, and I'm trying to get everything ready for leaving tomorrow. So I flaked. Utterly jumped ship. I was so excited too! I've never made a buttercream frosting and you should see her pictures of it: so soft and fluffy and I just want to roll in it good. But lo! There was a tub of whipped chocolate frosting in my pantry. (Seriously, where the hell did this come from?) About 1/4 tsp of mint extract and a spin with the mixer and done.

The apartment staff even left little cards with a candy cane for all the residents last night. Perfect timing because I didn't plan on making the peppermint bark with it. Candy Cane + Meat Mallet = Peppermint flakes. Sprinkled them over top, slapped them in a lined gift box reused from a gift, and they were off.

Now this may be one ugly cupcake, but believe me they are ridiculously good. With the buttercream frosting you get an after dinner mint, with the chocolate you get candy. Either way, they'll be delicious. If you want to see the recipe or photos of cupcakes that turned out beautiful, go to the Shazam in the Kitchen blog right now! I'll be stuffing my face.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pan-Grilled Sirloin with Horseradish-Chive Butter

Oh, yeah. I was hoping to get this weeks recipe made before today, but this week hasn't been good for grocery shopping. However, I did manage to go today and to whip up a full meal for myself.

I started cooking the last of my potato stock while I prepared all the ingredients for both the steak and the lemon potato dressing. Once it was done, I was ready to cook the steak and everything was done at the same time. This is amazing for me. You can find the potato recipe here (it's all I think about when I hear potato now). The steak recipe was my paper recipe for the week and clipped from an unknown magazine.

Verdict: Well, I halved the recipe. The sirloin steak that I bought was less than $5 but was going to give me two generous servings. I'm surprised at how well it cooked up in my pan. It was really good. I've never cooked steak before. The meat was nice and tender, juicy, not too-cooked. It tasted good on its own, but paired well with the butter. I've very proud of myself. Also, the potatoes were a bit salty because I made a full dressing recipe and only half the potatoes. Oh well. Still tasted good.

I'm still not in love with steak. It tastes good and sometimes you just crave a slab of meat, but it's too chewy. No matter how thick or thin, how well or rare done, it's still chewy as hell. Anyone know why? Or is that just steak? My jaws hurt.

Pan-Grilled Sirloin with Horseradish-chive Butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 T prepared horseradish
1 T chopped fresh or dried chives
1/8 tsp salt
4 6oz sirloin or ribeye steaks
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Stir together butter, horseradish, chives, and salt in a small bowl. Spoon onto a sheet of waxed paper and roll into a cylinder. Place in freezer to chill while steaks cook.

2. Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet on med-high until hot. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes on each side for med-rare, or to desired degree of doneness.

3. Serve steaks with sliced horseradish-chive butter.

Makes 4 servings

For Ms. Manners: I only cut two bites of steak at a time. You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hot Chocolate Mix

I've tried a homemade recipe for it, but can I just show you something first?

Real containers for Chinese take-out. I was ridiculously pleased with this, especially since I'm running low on tupperware.

Okay, I found a recipe here that I decided to try. True to the author's word, it's not as sweet as a box mix. It's not too bad and I don't mind that's it not so sweet, but I probably won't use this again. Still good, so it's not going to waste, but not quite where I want it to be. Also, if you make this, make sure you have a big enough container. I had to resort to using a 2 quart drink container. It makes nearly a quart of dry powder.

Monday, December 10, 2007

No Bake Lemon-Lime Pie

Since I gave most of the cookies away and the apple pie is gone, it was time for something sweet in the house. Originally I thought I wanted a chocolate pie. That was until I saw a picture of a key lime pie. There's something about lime that increases the pull on me every second that I don't have it. It even outweighs my chocolate cravings. I had to make a trip to Walmart already and refused to leave the house again, so it had to be crafty. I've only got one egg, no whipped topping, and no whipping cream.

The rise of vegan recipes has saved me more than once from making extra trips to the store. I based this pie on a vegan recipe found here. I used real milk, so it's no longer vegan and had to increase the pucker factor as much as possible without affecting how the filling would set.

Verdict: It was tasty enough, but I like my lime pies to kick me in the teeth. I added double the lime juice and had to add the lemon to get it even close. Still, it's not going to go to waste.

No Bake Lemon-Lime Pie

1/2 lime juice
2 1/2 cup milk or milk substitute
1 c sugar
5 T cornstarch
1 tsp lemon extract
1 9" pie crust
Lemon/lime zest optional
food coloring optional

Whisk all ingredients in a saucepan until the cornstarch is mixed in. Heat on medium until it comes to a slow boil. Cook until thick and creamy. Pour into pie shell. Chill until set, about hour

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Crock Pot Curried Rice and Lentils

I've kept myself pretty busy here this weekend. Nothing big, but I'm not bored yet. I've done a bit on the kitchen, thanks for asking. Plus, a little cooking. After a slightly hellacious shopping experience, I vowed not to leave the house again yesterday. I figured if I was going to spend all day in front of the TV crafting, I should have some slow cooking going on.

There was a box of Krusteaz Bread Mix sitting on my shelf* mocking me. So I finally whipped out the bread machine again. This is the second time I've used it. I'm still not sure what size it is or really how to use it, so it's mostly guesswork and lots of calls to my mom. The Italian Herb bread turned out... okay. It tasted kinda funny, but freshly made bread can never be bad. Meh. I wouldn't recommend it.

However, this curried rice and lentil recipe was pretty good. Now I can't say for sure this tasted authentic, but it seems that way to me. Plus, I had all the ingredients in the pantry and it was done almost at the same time as the bread. You can find the recipe here. Note that I substituted a LOT of onion powder instead of an onion and it turned out good. Not sure if it was supposed to be so mushy, but truth be told, I like mushy rice.

*It hurts us, Rebekah.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Does This Culture Make Me Look Fat?

I say yes. This is nothing new to America. We thrive on compiling lists of beautiful people that become more specific and impossible every year. We think that being thin and tan without regard to how you got either way is good. Skin cancer and eating disorders happen to other people. With men, this has never been such a huge deal, but American women love to pit themselves against each other. This in turn has given us all body issues. Now, I'll admit that I'm pretty svelte with all the right curves. However, it's pretty disturbing the way that some people think I've "gotten" this way or who I am as a result of it. Skinny people have to deal with this too. But that's not what I brought you here to talk about.

Nigella Lawson, the famous cooking show chef that the world has been raving about, is now coming under fire for being fat. The infamous fat. The ubiquitous fat. The damning, hyper-critical insult that I thought would die out once you moved on from elementary school. Has anyone seen Nigella lately? Does this look fat to you?

The woman is gorgeous. Like this article says, it's not enough to be pretty and talented and smart. Without the Skinny, you might as well be nothing. Of course, I laughed when I read this because I was simultaneously surfing the web and dunking chunks of bread into an open vat of butter. Still, this is disturbing when you think about it, and trust me, I've thought about it a lot over the years. Most women have.

In light of this, I would like to stand up and speak for my faction of Skinny's: Nigella, you're beautiful, baby. Don't change a thing.

Friday, December 7, 2007

More For Me

I handed out all but two packages of cookies- the two that I figured would be left over if any. Just couldn't find those teachers. This worked out well since I only had about 6 Spritz cookies left for me. Those were gone the next day. I forgot how much I loved them.

Do you ever picture your dream kitchen? I know you must. We'll kids, this ain't it. I don't really have a "big picture" idea about the dream kitchen. Sure it'd be cool to have two ovens and a greenhouse window and miles of counter space, but that's not what matters to me. My dream kitchen is clean with lots of plants and rustic touches. The good thing is I can achieve this in an apartment. The bad thing is I can't achieve this because it's me. I don't know why I have to fight with and torture myself. My entire apartment is like that. Can I do it? Can I actually figure out what the hell my problem is and fix it? Let's hope so. It's my December project. The rest of the apartment can wait.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I've been fighting going out for fast food or ordering a pizza. I finally got off my ass and made saffron rice. A girl cannot live on rice alone. So how about this?

Bacon, rice reheated in the grease, almonds, spinach, garlic, and a little chili powder. Maybe a little smoked cheddar sprinkled over it later. That'll do.

Brown Paper Packages...

Do you end up singing the Sound of Music when you wrap presents too? It's uncanny how that always happens. I've got 6 little packages of cookies to deliver this morning. Hopefully they'll all find their intended recipient before they leave for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Almond Butter Cookies

This is my paper (cardboard) recipe for the week! So far, I've done this, knitted every night, and am almost done with Wicked. I'm totally on schedule.

I found this recipe on the back of a Publix butter container and kept because it looked simple and delicious. But before we get into that, I'd like to introduce you to my cookie press.

I'm pretty sure this one came from a thrift shop. It's pretty old-fashioned. I don't know of any way to tell if it's actually old, but it's not really a cookie press- more like a cookie drill. Kinda?

See the threading? You twist the handle down and it presses them out. This is the one I had in mind when I wanted to make Spritz cookies, but apparently I have another cookie press, also bought at a thrift store, that I had forgotten about. Now that one is old. Look at the package! It's so cool.

Moving on. I've never used a press before, though I'd seen my mom do it lots of times. So of course I thought I was an expert. Sigh. I planned to use this pretty tree shape. It wasn't until I pressed out the first cookie that I realized I was an idiot and put the nozzle on too, so yeah, no tree shapes. Still, it wasn't so bad.

Note to self: Buy Silpat.

They were smaller than recommended in the recipe, so they baked in only 8 minutes. Despite the dodgy appearance on my blackened baking pans, they slide off like it was nothing. Seriously, not one bit of sticking. I couldn't believe it. However, not all of them were as pretty. Some of the dough got left behind in the press.

I simply rolled them out and added a sliver of almond. The recipe called for frosting, which looked good, but wasn't needed on pressed cookies. They taste just fine without it. I grew up with mom making these every Christmas, and the dry crumb of these cookies remind me of that every time I bite into one. I would definitely recommend this as an easy recipe with what you've got on hand. I'm very happy with the way these baked up and how they turned out. Two thumbs up.

Almond Butter Cookies

3/4 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
2 c all-purpose flour

Frosting (optional)

2 T melted butter
1 1/4 c confectioner's sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1-2 T milk
sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg and almond extract, mix well. Gradually add sifted flour and mix well.

2. Time to form the cookies. Either use your press or roll dough into 2 inch balls. Dip a flat-bottomed glass into sugar and use it to flatten the dough balls.

3. Bake 8-9 minutes for small pressed cookies, up to 10-12 minutes for drop cookies. Let cool completely.

4. If you're going to frost the cookies, combine butter, sugar, and almond extract until smooth in a small bowl. Stir in milk, as needed, until frosting is spreading consistency. Spread on each cookie and top with an almond slice. Toasting almonds will bring out the flavor more, but it's an easy extra step. Also, you can add extra milk and drizzle frosting instead of spreading.

Makes about 4 dozen rolled cookies.

I have a test at 8 am tomorrow, so I'll probably start the bagging after that. I'm afraid I'll miss my teachers if I try to give them the cookies by just catching them during finals, but I feel like giving them cookies during a final is almost a bribe. It's weird. So hopefully, all my teachers will still be on campus when I try to get them.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hot Chocolate and Soup

That's what's been going on around here. That and studying and crafting for the holidays. Mostly the first and last.

I just wanted to talk about Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate real quick like. I bought a package of the mocha cappuccino the other day. Not so good. It's okay, I guess. Not really hot chocolately and not really mocha cappuccinoy. Go for something else. And while you're in that isle, check out the Swiss Miss with Caffeine! Yes. I can't find a picture of it, but it says every cup of hot chocolate has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. For when you want to sit in front of the fire ALL NIGHT LONG.

After this box, I think I'm done with hot chocolate mixes for a long time. It's not that they're all disappointing; I hate the packaging. The more green I get, the more I realize how un-green everything is. Hot chocolate has 6-12 individual pouches of mix housed in a cardboard box, sometimes even wrapped in cellophane. I can whip up a good batch of hot chocolate mix at home and put it in an airtight canister for whenever I want. I'll let you know when I find a winning recipe.

Otherwise, I made soup! Yep. Okay, I only made it because I didn't want to brave Walmart for a pizza. It was late and cold and I had a headache. So, pantry soup it was. Still good. And it made a very nice change from Cup-O-Soup. I've had way too much of that lately.

I'm planning at least one batch of cookies tomorrow. Hopefully. I'd like to get these bagged up and handed out before finals are over!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Chocolate Drizzled Lemon Cookies

Well, here we are. The end of Saturday and only one batch of cookies. Still, I did manage to bake them- so laborious- and even blog about it. Blogging now is just what I do at the end of the day. Stress about getting content all day, then blog when it's dark; meaning stress over having done nothing blog worthy all day then remember that's it's only 4 pm. I hate that.

Chocolate Drizzled Lemon Cookies

The cookies: eh. My first batch came out beautiful on top, burnt on the bottom after the minimum amount of time. I raised them to the highest rack and all was well. After a judicious scraping with a butter knife, the burnt ones aren't bad. The cookies themselves have a lovely crisp texture reminiscent of shortbread. They lack lemon though. If I make these again, I'd add at least 2 tsp of lemon extract instead of one. I used up all my lemon zest too, so I added some other zest. Could be orange, but I think it was kumquat. I was afraid of adding lemon extract to the melted chocolate since I wasn't sure if it would mess with it. When I say afraid, I mean I added it immediately and damn the consequences.

Okay, guys, do not use a whole bag of chocolate chips. It calls for a 12 ounce bag- use half a bag. Also, adding butter to the melted chocolate was probably a mistake for me- I would have been able to drizzle it otherwise. This resulted in me "piping" it on top of the cookies instead. I didn't want to overwhelm them, but I did not scimp on chocolate blobs.

I had to come up with an alternate use for all that chocolate because you know it was NOT going to get thrown away.

So do you eat the head or the limbs of animal crackers first?

[Insert mental image of penis-shaped chocolate here]*

If you're unamused by this, I can assure you that you're old or too conservative. Surely. As you can see however, I am four and get to spend the rest of the night staring at them and giggling. My mom gave me chocolate molds that she didn't use, which saved the chocolate, but you couldn't expect me not to whip out my favorite ice cube tray too now could you? Besides, Christmas shapes are boring.

What the hell were we talking about? Cookies! Right. The recipe was a good idea. If you make it, use more lemon extract and less chocolate. I've... gotta go now. You know where I'll be.

* The photo Nazi's have decided a chocolate penis the size of chapstick was evil and subversive. Well, maybe, but it sure was delicious.