Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Tag

Ratatouille with Couscous and Brussels Sprouts

I made this for dinner last night.  While I was cooking it, the kids kept asking, “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner? Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?  Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?”  This is very normal.  I get asked that question multiple times every night, and sometimes I answer.  Other times I just ignore them.  But anyway, they ask over and over again because they are genetically wired to not listen to me.  Like most children, they have a recessive don’t-listen-to-mom gene embedded in their DNA.  And like most mothers, I have a I-will-ignore-you-if-you-ask-me-26-times gene in my own DNA.  Besides, if I would’ve said, “Lovemuffins, we’re having ratatouille, couscous, and Brussels sprouts,” they would’ve just given me a blank stare before finally exclaiming, “You’re cooking our movie?!”

Anyway.

Here’s what-all you need:

For the ratatouille:
Olive oil
Garlic, minced
Eggplant, chopped
Parsley
Zucchini, chopped
Onion, thinly sliced
Tomatoes, chopped
Celery, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated
(Note: The original recipe that I was using did not use celery, and it did call for bell peppers and mushrooms.  I didn’t have these, but I did have the celery so it got added to the mix.  This seems very versatile, so you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand.)

For the Brussels sprouts:
Brussels sprouts, fresh or frozen
Garlic, minced
Olive oil
Butter
Vegetable broth
Salt and pepper

For the couscous:
Couscous
Water
Butter

Once you’ve gathered up all your shiz, preheat the oven to 350 and spray a casserole dish with Pam.  And why is this called Pam anyway?  Who decided to call sprayable oil by a woman’s name?  It’s just weird.  But whatever.  In a large skillet, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic and eggplant for about 10 minutes.

While that is cooking, chop the remaining vegetables.  I realize the following picture is unnecessary and anyone reading this knows what chopped vegetables look like, but I delight in the unnecessary.  I also think that freshly chopped vegetables in neat and tidy rows looks really pretty, and it appeals to my aesthetic sensibilities.

After the eggplant mixture is done cooking, spread it in a single layer in the casserole dish, then top with a layer of the Parmesan, then the zucchini, then the cheese, then onion and celery, then cheese, then the tomato, then the cheese.  I really love cheese, fyi.  Oh, and add salt and pepper as you see fit.  Here’s what it’ll look like when you’re done:

Now, what’s wrong with this picture?  Can you see it?  Yes!  There is a crucial ingredient missing on one half of this dish, and that’s because Trent has gone mental and is now a vegan.  Thanksgiving is going to SUCK for him.

Okay, so stick this baby in the oven for about 40 minutes.  While it’s going, turn your attention to the Brussels sprouts.  If you’re using fresh ones, re-slice the core ends, then cut an X into each one.  I have no idea why this needs to be done, but do it.  After all the sprouts have been x’ed, put them aside.  Heat about a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in a saucepan, then add the garlic and cook until browned.  Toss in the Brussels sprouts, stirring to coat them.  Add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, salt, and pepper, and put a lid on and cook them for about 12 minutes or until tender.

Okay, so couscous only takes a few minutes to cook, so save this for the end.  I have no picture of the couscous, but all you do is bring water and butter to a boil, then add the couscous, put a lid on it, and remove it from heat.  It’ll be ready in five.  So. Freaking. Easy.

This actually tasted really good, even though it doesn’t look great in the picture.  I don’t think it does, anyway, but I swear it was good.  Two out of three children approved, my dad (who’s with us for Thanksgiving) really liked it, and Trent gave it an affirmative grunt.

Success.

Veggiladas

Hi y’all.  I did some cooking last night, but you’ll notice that my usual series of pictures documenting the whole process isn’t here.  Why? you ask.  Well, the simple answer is because I didn’t take them.  See how that works?  I don’t take a bunch of pictures, and then you get a post (which is shocking in and of itself) without a bunch of pictures.  Amazing, huh?  I did take one final picture, but the quality is probably a little iffy since I used my aging Blackberry to snap the photo.  Lame, I know, but oh well.  Let’s talk about food.

So a couple weeks ago I was browsing recipes online, and I came across this one.  Hmmm, I thought to myself, that sounds interesting.  So I printed it off, stuck it in my massive, unorganized pile of recipes, and promptly forgot about it.  Then I had a dream the other night where me and this other mom I know went to a Mexican restaurant and I ate an entire vat of salsa and like 4 bags of chips and she was horrified and said her kid can’t play with my kid anymore (isn’t that mean?).  Anyway, when I woke up, I remembered the enchilada recipe.   So here’s what I did.

First, there is no way in hell that I’m going to use instant mashed potato flakes.  Not that there’s anything wrong with them (there is, actually), but I would rather just make my own mashed potatoes from real potatoes that I peel and cut myself.  Just a personal preference.  I also prefer now to make my own tortillas.  If you think this sounds time-consuming and difficult, you’re wrong.  It’s actually very, very easy, though you do have to give the tortilla dough an hour to “rest.”  Or whatever.  Anyway, it’s worth it.  Homemade tortillas taste 9 bajillion times better than store bought.

Anyway.

Ingredients for veggiladas (note: I have altered the recipe above, which I almost always do because I think I have better ideas than everyone else):

For tortillas: masa harina, water, salt
For enchilada filling: potatoes, butter, milk, salt, pepper, chopped onion, carrots, bell pepper, green chilis, olive oil
For topping: red enchilada sauce, grated cheese, green onion and cilantro to garnish if you wish.  I wished.

Okay, step 1:  Turn your oven to 425 and get all your ingredients out. We’re gonna tackle the tortillas first (if you’re making them yourself) and then go to the mashed potatoes (if you’re making them yourself, and if you’re not, then I’m pretty sure you’re committing some sort of mortal sin).

Step 2: Mix the masa harina, water, and salt in a medium sized bowl.  The dough should be moist but not sticky, and it should feel kind of springy.  I use Bob’s Red Mill masa, and it has the instructions on the back.  Pretty sure it’s 2 cups of masa, 1.5 to 2 cups water, and a 1/2 tsp. of salt.  After it’s mixed, cover it with a damp towel and set it aside for an hour.

Step 3: Put potatoes on to boil for the mashed potatoes.

Step 4: While potatoes are cooking, mix the chopped carrots, onions, bell peppers, green chilis with some olive oil (about 1/4 c.) and salt and pepper.  Spread this out in a thin layer on a baking sheet (spray it with Pam first) and then stick it in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring it once halfway through.

Step 5: Enjoy the small amount of downtime that you have while everything is resting/boiling/roasting by watching Vampire Diaries and thinking to yourself that Elena should really see if Stefan and Damon would be interested in a threesome.

Step 6: Check your potatoes; if they’re done, mash ’em.  Check your veggies in the oven; if they’re done, take ’em out. Turn your oven down to 350.  Grate some cheese and pour your enchilada sauce into a shallow bowl.  Mix your veggies into your mashed potatoes and set them aside.

Step 7:  Tortilla time.  Heat a skillet; while it’s getting hot, take your tortilla dough and roll it into 3-inch balls.  If you have a tortilla press, do whatever its instructions tell you to.  I have no idea what that would involve since I don’t have one, and I rely on a trusty ziploc bag (that I’ve cut apart so I basically have 2 squares of plastic) and a rolling pin.  The trick with tortillas is in the thickness of them.  If they’re too thin, they rip and fall apart.  If they’re too thick, they’re just weird.  Okay, so take your dough ball, stick it in between the ziploc squares, and roll it out to about 1/8 inch.  Slap the tortilla in the hot skillet, and cook on each side for 30 to 60 seconds.  Do this until all the dough is gone.

Step 8: Pour a little of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish.  Take a tortilla, dip it in the enchilada sauce that’s in the shallow bowl, then lay it in the casserole dish.  Fill it with the mashed potato mixture, top with a bit of cheese, then roll that mofo up and make sure it’s seam side down.  Do this with the remaining tortillas, and then pour the rest of the sauce over all them and top with cheese.

Step 9: Put the casserole pan in the oven and bake for 20ish minutes, or until the cheese is melted.  Top with green onions, cilantro, sour cream, whatever you like.

Step 10: Commence stuffing your face.

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

So…it feels like it’s been awhile.  Possibly because it has, but I’m just hypothesizing here. 

Basically, there are two main reasons why I’ve been absent for awhile.  1) I’ve been really busy since school started, and it’s all come as a complete shock to my system to get out of lazy summer mode and into busy-as-f**k fall mode.  Pardon my language, but that’s the best way to describe it.  2) I watched a life-changing documentary that has essentially ensured that my love affair with butter is over.  I thought I would be way sadder about this, but I’m really not.  I’m not going to get into all the details about it because you can check it out for yourself (here’s a trailer for film), or not.  All I know is that I am in the process of doing a complete overhaul on not only my kitchen and the foods I put in it, but my recipes, and my entire perspective on food as well.

So this is probably my last wholly unhealthy recipe that I’m going to blog about.

Sigh.

I guess I’m a little sad, maybe….but I’ll be okay.  There is a fair to middling (read: definite) chance that you’ll be seeing some vegetarian recipes soon.

Also, vampires aren’t real, but horses are.  My 4-year old nephew told me that the other day, and I feel duty-bound to share this knowledge.

Anyway.

Let’s talk about cookies.  Now, the person I got this recipe from might be a tad pissed that I’m blasting it all over the internets, but I don’t care.  I think it’s uncool to recipe hoard.  If you want to make the absolute best chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide freaking world, then there should be nothing stopping you, butyou HAVE to know about this top secret ingredient before you can do that.

DRUMROLL, PLEASE…….

Voilà.  Wal-Mart brand, smashed, old (?) instant vanilla pudding mix.

That’s it.  That’s the big secret.  Pretty crazy stuff, huh?  Throw a package of this in with the dough, and you’re golden.  Your husband will bow at your feet (not really, but almost), your kids will declare that you (or Phineas and Ferb, it’s still undecided) are their new hero, and anyone else who eats them will make sounds that should really be limited to the bedroom only.  It could get awkward.

I use the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe, and here’s how it goes:

Take two sticks of butter (wah!!!!), some brown sugar, and some white sugar, and mix it all up.

Then add two eggs and some vanilla, and mix that up too.

Now just add the dry stuff: flour, salt, baking soda, and the pudding mix.

Mix again.  All this mixing is getting really repetitive, isn’t it?  Fear not, though, relief is coming in the form of chocolate chips, which you get to STIR in.  Exciting, huh?

After you stir in the chocolate chips, if you need to take a break and eat some dough, I understand.

While you’re doing that, please take a moment to observe what was on my ceiling:

Ew.  Yes, there was panic and heart palpitations and sweaty palms when I realized that the stuff of my nightmares was directly over my head (and my cookie dough!), but I did have the presence of mind to take a photo so I could share the moment with you.

Then I fled the kitchen and made Trent deal with it, because that’s why I married him.

Anyway.

Drop the dough into rounded tablespoons, or use a fancy-schmancy cookie dough ball scooper thingamajig if you want them all uniform. 

The recipe says to bake these for 9 to 11 minutes, but I like soft cookies and my oven cooks slightly unevenly, so I put them in for 8, then turn the cookie sheet, and let them go for another 30 seconds or so.  It’s what works for me.

Well hello there.  And hello to you too, and you, and you, and you…….

Oh my.  I just love these cookies.  It’s not unheard of for the entire batch to be half gone within an hour.  Trent is SUCH a pig. I have nothing to do with it.

So there you have it.  Those are my not-so-secret-anymore ingredient chocolate chip cookies, and in my vast experience with cookies, these are definitely in the top three.  Prepare to stuff your face.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix (3.4 oz.)
2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large bowl, mix butter and both sugars; add eggs and vanilla and combine completely.  Add flour, salt, baking soda, and pudding mix; mix.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop dough in rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

These have been sitting in my house for the last week or so.

They’ve been speaking to me, telling me how wonderful they are, how happy they can make me, how just a few of them at a time aren’t bad for me. 

They want me.

And I want them.

Do chocolate chips talk to you all too?

Okay, so instead of just stuffing handfuls of them into my face (which, believe me, I am not above), I decided to bake with them.  Originally, I was going to keep it real simple and just do chocolate chip cookies, because I haven’t made those in awhile and I have a CLASSIFIED recipe that is super TOP SECRET and so CONFIDENTIAL that I can never, ever, ever post it on here.  Just kidding.  I’ll probably do that in the very near future.

I just didn’t have the secret ingredient handy for chocolate chip cookies.

But I did have a can of pumpkin available, and if I could name two of my favorite foods, it would probably be a superclose tie between chocolate chips and pumpkin, or mozzarella and crème brûlée.  (Do you know how long it just took me to 1) find out how to spell crème brûlée and 2) look up those f’ing symbols?  Please take a moment to appreciate my efforts in correctly spelling this divine French dessert.  Thank you for your cooperation.)

Anyway.

I had a can of pumpkin, and I am obsessed with pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bagels with pumpkin cream cheese, hell, I’ve eaten just straight up pumpkin out of the can before.  (I do not recommend that, by the way, because it is nasty.  I was pregnant, however, and having an in-freaking-tense pumpkin craving, so shoveling a spoonful of raw pumpkin into my yapper is excusable.)

So if chocolate chips and pumpkin were to bang and the pumpkin got knocked up, pumpkin bread with chocolate chips would be the love child of this blessed (and messy?) joining.

Also, just so you know, it’s been a long day and I’ve had one two three glasses of wine.

Soooooo……I got onto my most favoritest recipe website ever, and I found this recipe for the bread.  Take a stick of softened butter and some sugar and throw them in a bowl.

Then you mix it all around like you just don’t care.

Now add two eggs, cause that’s what it says to do.

Beat those in and then prepare yourself, because the pumpkin is coming next. 

Is anyone wondering why I’m holding a cup of pumpkin puree in my hand?  Well, do you remember how I said a moment ago that I  have an obsession with pumpkin?  I may not like the taste of raw pumpkin, but I LOVE THE SMELL.  I’m holding it because after I took that picture, I had to stick my schnoz in there and take like 12 big whiffs.

It was heaven.

So toss in the pumpkin, mix it, and set it aside.

Goodbye for now, my pumpkiny friend.

Now we need to get together the dry ingredients.  Grab another bowl and toss in some flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

Gradually add this dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture, folding it in and mixing until it’s all combined.

Add the chocolate chips and some walnuts if you want to, and then scrape the whole shebang into a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan.

Pop it in a 350 oven for about an hour, savoring the aroma that will fill your house for the last twenty minutes of cooking.  Seriously, people, SAVOR IT.  It’s so much better than any of the autumn scented Febreze products. 

Oh baby.  You had me at hello.

Make this next time your chocolate chips speak to you and you find a forgotten can of pumpkin in your pantry.  You’ll be so glad you did, PROMISE.

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan.  In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, eggs, and pumpkin.  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients except chocolate chips.  Gradually add dry mixture to pumpkin mixture, mixing until completely combined.  Add chocolate chips, and pour into loaf pan.  Bake for approximately 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Thanks to Michele McFie for sharing this tasty recipe.

Dreamy French Toast

Last night I dreamt of homemade bread, coated in eggs and buttermilk and spices, pan fried to golden perfection, smeared with cream cheese, and smothered in blueberry syrup.

There was a significant amount of drool on my pillow when I woke up.

Is that weird?

Anyway, I knew what I was going to do this morning….nay, I knew what I HAD to do.  Now, I’m no chef, and I’m sure there are a thousand recipes for French toast out there that are far more creative than this, but this is what I’ve done for years.  In fact, this was one of the first things I learned how to cook from my Grandma Doris Wanda Mae.  It’s a pretty basic recipe, which suits me just fine.  Sometimes I think people are so concerned with making things different and unique and exotic and whatever, and just the old-fashioned simple version is often the best.  When it comes to French toast, I’m stickin’ to my roots, man.

The first thing I did was get the syrup started.  I threw some frozen blueberries, sugar, and a little bit of honey in a saucepan and turned it on low.

Put a lid on that and walk away.  But come back every now and again to give it a stir, okay?

Now we need to mix up the batter (is that what you call it?  Batter?) for the French toast.  Crack a few eggs in a large bowl, add some buttermilk, vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  You can even make your kids do it for you if you don’t feel like touching slimy eggs so early in the morning.

Whisk it all together, then dip both sides of a piece of bread in it.

In case anyone is wondering (and I know you’re not, but I’m going to explain this anyway), the reason my bread has such an odd shape with that chunk missing from the bottom is because it came out of a bread machine.  Every loaf of bread I make has that indention from the paddle at the bottom of the pan.  It sort of offends my aesthethic sensibilities.

Anyway.

Your skillet should already be hot at this point, so if it is, slap a coated piece of bread in there.  If it’s not, don’t put the bread in it.  I repeat, DO NOT PUT COATED BREAD IN A NOT-HOT SKILLET. 

There was absolutely no reason for me to put that in all caps.  It’s really not that urgent.  But seriously, fire up your stove before hand, kay?

These will cook for a few minutes on each side, and you just want to get them nice and golden brown.  Watch out for soggy spots, cause those are icky.  If you have one, keep cooking it.

Now here’s where things got exciting for me.  I’m not exaggerating.  There’s a very real possibility this will be the high point of my Saturday.  I got out some cream cheese, and I spread it on one piece of French toast.

Then, I took my other piece of French toast and I put it on top of that.

Whoa.  It’s like a culinary mathematical equation.

1 French toast + 1 layer cream cheese + 1 French toast x 13 bites of bliss ÷ 1 weird dream to the 14th power square root denominator fractational numeral EQUALS…….a seriously happy tummy.

Almost.

We still need the blueberry syrup.  Put some of that on and you’ll have the real answer to the equation, friends.

Hello, you.

I think I’m in love.

French Toast with Cream Cheese and Blueberry Syrup
(For the French toast)
5-6 pieces sliced bread, stale is fine
4 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

(For the blueberry syrup)
1 c. frozen blueberries
1/3 c. sugar
1 tbsp. honey

For the French toast, beat eggs, buttermilk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Dip bread in, one slice at a time, coating both sides in the egg mixture.  Transfer the bread to a hot skillet, and cook until golden brown and not soggy.  Flip, and cook the other side.

For the syrup, mix blueberries, sugar, and honey in a saucepan.  Cook on low heat until berries are thawed and syrup forms, about 5-10 minutes.

To make this all truly dreamy, add cream cheese between two pieces of French toast and top with blueberry syrup.  Heaven awaits you.