Happy Easter!

Easter for the past few years has had more meaning for me than it used to. My grandma died 3 years ago on April 1. Last year I started cooking my grandma’s Easter dinner for my mom, a little taste of the past for both of us. Every year I saw my grandma for Easter and for Thanksgiving, and that’s it. I have very vivid memories of those holiday dinners, shared with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and I really regret that I didn’t have the same interest in cooking back then that I do now. I could have learned so much more if I’d stuck around the kitchen and watched my grandma. Continue reading

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Make ahead meals

I have started cooking large amounts of meat in my crockpot and then freezing them and it’s been wonderful. Everything is stored in ziplocks, portioned out by serving. It’s not a new idea and there are plenty of recipes that I haven’t tried in the freezer, but here’s what I’ve been up to, and some links to resources.

Here’s a look at what all I have in my freezer right now. Except the cat. She just likes being in all of my pictures. Continue reading

St. Patrick’s Day

As per usual, here’s another late holiday post. I had some friends over for St. Pattie’s day and it was a blast. I made cottage pie, as per usual, but Em also asked me to make colcannon. Since it was her birthday that week and I didn’t get her anything, she got it. ^^’ I have never even had colcannon before, let alone made it. Turns out, I love it.

Here’s the menu, as you can see, it needed some revision. Continue reading

Beef Stew and Tortillas

I made beef stew a few days ago. I’m SUPPOSED to be taking pictures of my food to make these posts more interesting, but so far no good. My phone is fine for quick pics of the cat, but the pictures it took of my kitchen make me cringe. I need to get my Canon Rebel out. It’s old, over 5 years old, but it does a good job. So, I’ll just have to take pictures next time I make stew. If the weather keeps up like this, that’ll be sooner rather than later.

I have a weird hangup with beef stew. I can’t just chop everything up and throw it in the crock pot. I layer it. O.o I don’t know where I got the idea that it matters (and it probably doesn’t), but I can’t stop myself. Anyways, here is the recipe, in order that I layer them, from the bottom of the pot up.

Stew beef, generously salted and peppered, and doused with Worcestershire sauce

75% of my diced onions, some chopped garlic, and some thinly sliced shallots

Chopped carrots and celery, with some more salt and pepper

The rest of my onions

My potatoes

My herbs and spices

Then I pour in my broth and let it all cook for about 3 hours before I break down and stir it.

I understand layering the ingredients for a crock pot roast or one of those crock pot dinners, but for stew? I’m just crazy, I guess.

Tortillas, however, are crazy good. I made some from scratch for the first time. Oooooh. Ahhhhh. The dough was easy to make. They cooked quickly, but I didn’t burn any. They were tasty, if a little dry. The problem I had? Making a circle. I don’t have a tortilla press and now I really wish I did. It’s a uni-tasker, but one I’d like to use a lot. Fresh tortillas are so good that I want to make a habit of making my own. So I might break down and get one. No idea where I’m going to keep it, though. ><

Leftovers Ramen

Ryula and Drauger were nice enough to bring over pizza fixing on Saturday and make pizza for us as the movers got our furniture into the apartment. They made one with sweet chili sauce, cream cheese, jalapenos, pineapple, and Canadian bacon. Totally didn’t see that one coming, but it was amazing.
I’ll talk more about the move later. Point is, they left all the pizza making goodies over here, and so I’ve started using them. I’m super happy to start cooking again. ^^

Today I took:

Bell peppers
Red onion
Mushrooms
Jalapenos
Shredded chicken

and sauted them with some:

chili powder
salt and pepper
sesame oil

Then I cooked the Ramen noodles in some chicken stock. (Not the packet mix, real chicken stock)

Topped the soup with the veggies and chicken and added some tonkatsu sauce. Little salty, so I think I’ll add some extra water to the broth, but it was tasty!

Thinking that tonight I’ll give Canadian bacon stir fry a try. Or curry? With pineapple? *muses*

Chicken Enchiladas

Leftovers are not boy’s thing. He’s pretty resistant to eating any besides pizza. -_- It does make me flex my creative cooking skills a lot, which I find very fun. One of our favorite meals is this amazing braised chicken. It always makes more than we can eat, so leftovers are a given. This time I froze them instead of trying to get him to eat them, figuring that if there was a large enough gap, it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, instead I had an inspired moment and decided to use the left over chicken for enchiladas. It was great. I didn’t measure a thing, so here’s a list of what I mixed with the chicken to make the filling. Then I wrapped it up in tortillas, smothered them in enchilada sauce, and baked them until they were done. (No, I have no idea how long that was.)

Leftover paprika braised chicken, shredded

Low fat cottage cheese

Diced onions that I sauteed until soft

Canned diced green chilies (I used hot, but pick whatever heat level you want)

Canned diced tomatoes

Cumin

Chili powder

Savory

Salt and Pepper

Thanksgiving post (way late!)

So, I had a house this year for Thanksgiving, which was convenient timing, since my aunt decided to go to Seattle this year. So, I got to host the family. O.o It was massive amounts of stress, but it was also very good for me. A few important things happened.

A) I cooked a turkey for the first time ever. I messed it up a bit by putting the thermometer in the breast, not the thigh, but we just carved off the breasts to eat and put the rest back in the oven. ^^’ Lesson learned. I also brined the turkey, which got me some interesting comments. Not from my family that night, they loved it. It WAS crazy moist. No, when I told some of my friends that I was going to brine, they got all worried, “No! Don’t do that, it’ll be crazy satly!” Well, it wasn’t. I chose a brine with a good balance of salty and sweet. I rinsed it off well. I didn’t salt it much before it went in the oven. I also didn’t put stuffing in it. I put aromatics and apples. Don’t know what all helped and what didn’t, but point is that it was good. ^^

B) I understand roux now. I know, I know, it’s a little late. I’ve been cooking for years. I understood the concept behind roux, but I’d never once managed to make one without the end result being grainy. Making the gravy fixed that. Gravy is so damn simple! I’m totally embarrassed that I never made it from scratch before now. Made some nacho sauce recently with a roux and it was perfect. (Twister’s words, not mine. ^^)

C) I’m a lot more confident now. Between my Halloween party (not gonna make a post, just know it went very well) and Thanksgiving, I feel a lot more confident about cooking for a crowd, and about hosting them. I plan better, I’m less frantic and panicky, and I don’t over complicate my menu.

Not counting dessert. I managed to start with one dessert for Thanksgiving and ended up with 3. I made a pumpkin crepe cake which I couldn’t leave so simple as 18 large crepes, I had to make 40 small crepes. -_- Everyone got their own mini cake, which looked wonderful, but took me way too long to make. (I’d made 9 pumpkin pies for various events by that point, so I just couldn’t bring myself to do another pie) I made caramel mousse, which was amazing. Twister devoured the leftovers. Fine by me, because I would have eaten it if she hadn’t. I wasn’t happy with those two, though. I wanted to add some texture to the dessert. Enter the most amazing cinnamon roasted nuts ever. I stuck with pecans, a tribute to pecan pie. I got some cinnamon roasted almonds at the stockshow the other day…I don’t like them anymore. This recipe has ruined me! It’s so much lighter and buttery-er. ^^’ No butter involved, though. Magical things, I tell you.

Okay, rant over. Here’s the cranberry sauce I made, while I’m sharing recipes. It was really good, and really simple. Perfect!

The Basics

Cooking, designing, decorating, organizing, gardening, learning. Always learning.

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