Friday, October 2, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Did you know there is a shortage of canned pumpkin this year? It's true. You should start seeing it again in grocery stores this week, but for the month of September I was panicking that there would be no tasty pumpkin treats this year.

Especially because one of my very dear friend's birthday is in the month of October. And we tend to bond this time of year over pumpkin chocolate chip cookies/bread/muffins.

I ended up scoring two 29-ounce (!!) cans of pumpkin from a local Ralph's. Squee-ing the whole way, much to the chagrin of my dear husband. Who knows what he got in to when he married me.

If you look up a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, you'll mostly get the same one over and over again. So I'll link you to this one, since I'm pretty sure it's the one I used. I didn't have any nuts.

What you see underneath them is parchment paper. I always thought that parchment paper wasn't anything special - just another roll to keep in the drawer. And I'd been getting by with wax paper or aluminum foil this whole time. But parchment paper is the way to go, my friends. No greasing, and the cookies slide off like little skiers. Magical.

Oh yes, and the cookies made a nice little birthday package. Happy birthday!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

Remember that chicken I put in the slow cooker? It wasn't a particularly large chicken, but between the three of us, we sure couldn't finish it. The Kitchn serendipitously featured an easy chicken pot pie around the same time, so the leftovers were destined for a pie in the weebl and bob sense.

I don't really have any interest in buying frozen puff pastry sheets. In fact, every time I see a croissant, I wish I knew how to make one from scratch. But at the moment, all I had was my trusty Betty Crocker for pie crust. You can get the idea here. A pie such as this requires something that can stand up to a heavy, wet filling without leaking. But this particular recipe was not meant to be rolled and laid on top. Oh well.

I mixed the chicken meat with defrosted vegetables and a can of cream of chicken soup. This ended up requiring more pastry to cover the sides and top. In to the oven it went, and out it came.

That's my sad attempt to plug up all of the holes in the top of the pastry.

It was a pretty deep pie, meaning cutting and serving it was rather unappetizing.

Even in all of that goo, the pastry part held up really well. It was a little like chicken & dumplings. Despite being fairly unappetizing-looking, it was very tasty and easy to make to get rid of leftover chicken!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banana Ice Cream

Sometimes, you have a banana that's just begging to be baked. And sometimes, you just don't have anything in the idea-queue. Did you know you can freeze them, and they'll defrost perfectly fine? I didn't know people were doing this. It's brilliant.

But I was ready to skip a step. Slowly but surely, I collected bananas in a ziplock baggie in the freezer. Why? Because I read this article and knew it was absolutely necessary to try it.

I was especially motivated, because we were moving and I needed to clean out the freezer. So in to the food processor they went ...

It took a while to get this way. But totally worth it.

Three bananas made two huge bowls of ice cream. So much, that we couldn't even finish it in one sitting (must be all that air in there). Since there's not much to it, it's actually pretty healthy. I could see adding yogurt, or chocolate chips, or whatever you might be possessed to put with bananas.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

4 Furniture Stores & a Wedding

Even if you haven't moved many, many times, you can imagine how much work it is. And moving in to your own home somehow quadruples the work. Which leads us to the first real weekend in our home ... where we hardly spent any time at all.

Friday night we drove to north for dinner. My husband and his brother went on an expedition to Argentina a few years ago, and said brother had discovered an Argentinian restaurant not far from where he is staying in LA. So away we went to Empanada's Place.

As we were crossing the street to get to the restaurant, the clock turned eight and they closed. Closed! We were about to shuffle back across the street to Fatburger before they unlocked the door and offered to stay open, if we would get our order to go. I'll bet they're glad they did, because we walked away with an order of 15! I wish I'd taken a picture of a pizza box full of empanadas, but you can imagine how late it was. They're all a little different, which I suspect is means to identify the different types, like a box of chocolate. I personally tried the corn and the spicy chicken. This place is small, but utterly amazing and worth the trouble to get there.

Saturday we planned a trip out to Mathis Brothers for furniture, based on a family recommendation. Keep in mind I like going to Ikea, but really don't like furniture shopping. At all. We looked for a while, but found out that anything we would save by driving over an hour to the middle of nowhere was outweighed by the delivery charge. There were quite a few other furniture stores, but many were out of business. We tried a few more stores before going through the whole Ontario Mills Mall. I love these. But, again, nothing worth spending the money.

We ended up coming back home and having ice cream for dinner at Rite Aid. When we first started looking at houses, we looked at one that wasn't far from this particular Rite Aid. And I imagined walking there on random evenings for ice cream, like we did when we lived in Huntington Beach. And now, here we were. Quite a moment for me.

Sunday we got up to run. Being 2.5 miles away, I was bound and determined to run to the beach. Unfortunately, it's a brutal 2.5 miles; huge hills up and down the whole way. And I'm used to running on an utterly flat trail with the occasional slope that I'd previously refused to run up. The hills make my minute per mile average pretty pitiful, but running along the beach is entirely worth it.

We then went out in search of some of the things we'd liked at Mathis Brothers, but hopefully closer to home. A few stores later, without any luck, we came home and got ready for a wedding! I've been in the mood for a good wedding for quite some time, and it was certainly a nice evening out away from house work.

Congratulations to the bride & groom, and here we go on another week!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pizza & Macaroons

We had our first houseguest the weekend before last! Yes, it's a hectic time to be entertaining. But it was one of my roommates from college, and you have to understand - I love these ladies. We were "randoms," and I was very, very fortunate to live with them! We don't get to see each other too often, so this was too good a chance to pass up!

I made pizza for dinner on Saturday night, which turned out to be perfect timing. My husband is quite particular about his pizza. Meaning it's not burned. It's supposed to look like that. Underneath all that cheesy goodness are artichoke hearts, spinach, and tomatoes. Have you tried making pizza crusts with the recipe I use? Did you know it's supposed to make two? And if you did, why didn't you tell me??

With a full day to play around, we attempted to make macaroons. Emphasis on the attempted. I fail as a cooking teacher. I could blame it on the change in humidity, as our old inland apartment is very dry, but let's face it - these were just a fail. My friend had brought us real macaroons and they were so soft and light and fluffy - definitely not the way mine turn out. So I thought putting less dry ingredients would make them soft and light and fluffy. It made them runny.

So we had lunch, visited the Huntington Library, attempted lobsterfest (never run out of lobsters my foot), had tapas for dinner in Hermosa Beach, and tried for round two. And failed again. Foil is not a good approximation for parchment paper. Wax paper is, but the last time I used it, the wax was hard to get off the baking sheets.

I made almond flavored buttercream for filling, but I think I put too much extract in, because they seemed to reek of alcohol. At least the second round survivors were tasty!