Friday, September 4, 2009

Pizza III

I'm really getting the hang of this pizza-making business.

If this wasn't leftover, it would probably look tastier. The toppings here were turkey pepperoni and plain old spaghetti sauce. I figured if they make turkey dogs and turkey burgers, they must make turkey pepperoni. And indeed they do! Although it's what I like to call "food product." Meaning something that tastes like food, looks like a fair impostor of food, and yet has been so processed it barely qualifies as anything more than a mix of chemicals and flavors. But it's astoundingly low calorie.

Yes, I'm aware that pizza sauce ≠ spaghetti sauce. But I'd used up my canned tomatoes and tomato paste, and mixing up a pizza sauce suddenly seemed overwhelming on a hot night when I really wanted takeout pizza in the first place. Yet, I didn't want to make the emergency frozen pizza we always seem to have on hand. Perhaps we won't even need these any more!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chicken Scaloppine II

This looks radically different from the last time I made chicken scaloppine. It's the addition of spinach and artichoke hearts.

Unfortunately, I didn't stop and think before I started cooking, so the sauce was a little watery. Always drain your spinach if you're using frozen!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Vegetarian Chili

Because a mild "vegetarian chili" sounds a lot fancier than a bean soup so I can lighten the load of cans in my kitchen cabinet.

Last year, I discovered Von's Stompin' Steakhouse chili. It was, by far, the best chili I've ever had. So of course, I set out to make it myself during a rousing football season. Many batches later, I sort of gave up. Not that we didn't have good chili during that time. It just wasn't the same.

Anyway, the news is out: we're moving in just a couple of weeks. I've been cooking at home a lot more in the past week or two so our move is a little lighter, at least in that respect. And between the chili experimentation phase and the Mexican-food-fiesta, I've kept a lot of beans around for just such an occasion (these will make a debut sometime, no doubt).

It sure would be nice if I shared the recipe for such a fantastic soup, wouldn't it? I didn't even think to look one up. So I'll just credit all of the random chili recipes I attempted last fall.

Vegetarian Chili/Bean Soup/Get it out of your kitchen stew:

  • 1.5-2 cups Chicken broth (Oh shoot! That's not vegetarian! No worries, veggie broth would work.)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • onion
  • garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt
Cook the garlic, onion, and spices in about a tablespoon or so of olive oil in the bottom of your biggest pot. All the fancy recipes I've seen say to do this because it releases the flavors. Ergo, my recipe is now fancy.

At this point, you can start dumping. I drain and rinse my beans because the water they're canned in seems sort of gnarly. After 30 minutes of low boiling, you'll get this tasty soup:

Of course, it's summertime and it's hot, so a soup isn't as appetizing as, say, chopped melon. But once the temperatures cool down, you'll want to be making this. It makes a large quantity in a very short amount of time. And if you play your cards right, it shouldn't be too expensive all-told.

And it's suspiciously like Von's chili....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A California Weekend

There's quite a bit going on in my little household lately.

Last Friday we started packing. Actually, the weekend officially kicked off with a stop at the gym, which becomes important later. Since I was already sweaty and dirty, I started to bring up the boxes we've been storing in the carport. These boxes have made many moves with us, and hopefully this will be the last for many of them. We spent the rest of the evening trying to wrap our brains around packing while keeping some things accessible. About three boxes in, I was done. It was a long work week!

Saturday we got up extra early for an adventurous day. It was set to be a very hot and dry weekend. Which means fires. I'd seen a smallish fire in San Gabriel on my way home Friday, and as we made the trip up toward Oxnard Saturday morning there was a new plume just north of the city that neither of us had heard about yet.

As promised, the first 0.7 miles of the Point Mugu trail were brutal. Not to mention the fatigue from my Friday night date with the stairstepper. Oof. The rest of the trail was pretty mild, although you can imagine the way down was a little rough as well. We had a whole troop from all over to check out Southern California living.

What better way to finish off a hike than to jump in the ocean? We camped out at a Malibu beach for the hotter part of the afternoon. It's astounding how much cleaner the beaches are there compared to those closer to where we live. The water was terribly cold but it made the oppressive heat a little more bearable.

Meanwhile, on the trip home, the little plume of smoke just north of LA had become something of a nuclear explosion. Especially heartbreaking for us, since we'd done some hikes around the Mount Wilson area earlier this year. Angeles National Forest is an amazing place.

Sunday we had brunch with a friend at La Creperie, then were invited to join some of our new neighbors to hear a country band perform at our new local park. It was a fantastic night out of the heat, with introductions to lots of new people. We never really met our neighbors at any of our past addresses. It became a potluck picnic with wine, pitas, hummus, and ribs.

On the way home, we could see the fires glowing in the hills. If I can see them from my stomping grounds, that means they are too close! We even fired up the TV to hear a little about it, then called it a night.

The next few weeks are going to be pretty hectic, and hopefully the weekends will be fun despite all the work involved!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Blueberry Quick Oat Bread

Much like bananas in my home, it came to be that I had a substantial amount of blueberries that were not looking as appealing for my morning cereal.

So, like bananas, it only made sense to bake them. Right?

And lo and behold, here's a recipe that asks for blueberries and oats. Doesn't it just sound like breakfast in a loaf?

Normally this recipe wouldn't see the light of day in my kitchen because it requires buttermilk. As much as I like buttermilk, it's something that I don't use enough to justify buying. It'll just go bad. And then I caught wind of a magical, mystical invention: powdered buttermilk.

And sure as sunrise, there it was in a nice little can at the local Ralph's. It has to be refrigerated, but a little internet research shows it lasts forever. Plus, there's the extra possibility of freezing, as regular milk fat gets damaged when frozen.

The only thing this recipe was missing was that crunchy, sugary topping that appears on all worthwhile-calorie muffins. I just used a quick streusel recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook. It's essentially 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, a few tablespoons of butter, and cinnamon. It shouldn't be this melty; for some reason I was convinced it wouldn't stick to the bread if the bread was almost finished cooking. But of course, the butter in the streusel melts and gets sticky! I'm glad I finally cracked the book open for this. It's the perfect substitute for frosting or glaze. This is too much for this size of a loaf, but like sweet, sugary, buttery topping was ever a problem.

I also kept in mind a lesson from earlier to go ahead and destroy those blueberries. This is a chunkier bread, though, so it's not as important.

And oh, what a wonderful bread. Highly recommended for work potlucks, especially if it will make you look like a domestic goddess to your coworkers.

An interesting story about my loaf pan: it's a little smaller than you'd expect. It's over 50 years old. Back then, banks offered extra little incentives to open an account, much like how they give out ipods or $25 now (I'd totally go for the bakeware). It sat in my grandma's attic for years in its original, unopened packaging. Sure, I'm probably adding a healthy dose of lead or asbestos to our food, but if it isn't the little trooper of a pan!