Thursday, November 30, 2006

Too Lazy

I am ashamed. I have not cooked all week. It has been take out! Between all the cooking last weekend and starting my new job this week, I am not in the mood for making dinner. The closest I have come to cooking was tonight. I reheated the pasta sauce that Geoff's stepdad made and froze for us when he visited in September, cooked some whole wheat penne, and made some garlic herb butter for some rolls. It was so exciting to have real food again. Compared to the boneless barbequed wings I ordered last night from Pizza Hut, reheated pasta sauce was like a gourmet meal. I can't believe I ordered Pizza Hut. Vomit.

We are seriously short on cash right now. I found out on my last day at my old job that they weren't paying me for Thanksgiving or the day after. So, that was a huge chunk of money. And now, I am not getting paid until the 22nd from my new job. I get teeny final check tomorrow from my last job, and then don't get paid again for 3 weeks. I need to do some budget cooking. I think I will try to buy whatever meat is on sale, and buy some stuff for pasta.

BTW, my new job is in the William Green Building downtown, which is connected to the Nationwide building. Pretty much amazing. They are connected by a huge atrium, and there are serveral cafeterias and places to eat. There is a McDonald's (EVIL), a homemade cookie and muffin shop (DELISH), and coffee shop, and two big cafeterias with awesome food. Of course, I have only really eaten out there once. I don't have my actual badge yet, which allows me to travel by myself easily. So, it is kind of a pain to have to knock on the door of my office every time I come back to my floor. I will wait for the badge, then sneak out and buy some cookies every now and then...

I need to go back to Wasserstrom. I want to get a quarter sheet pan. I don't know why, but I feel like it might be useful. Plus, I want to get lost in the clearance in the back of the store. I am happy jus thinking about it.

Okay, time to go upstairs and continue to catch up on Heroes. It is a suprisingly good show!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The day after

My Thanksgiving meal was cooked yesterday. I ate at my parents on Thursday, and it was pretty good, but I had really been looking to my meal, prepared entirely by me. I put the turkey in the brine on Friday night and forgot to flip it over on Saturday. I didn't have a bucket, so I bought these huge Ziplock XL bags, and you are supposed to flip the turkey halfway through brining. I forgot, but the turkey still turned out amazingly moist. I didn't take any pictures, because I was too tired to care by the time the food was ready.

As far as desserts, the apple crisp was good, except I didn't like how mushy the apples were. I thought when I read the recipe that 45 minutes seemed like a long time to bake it, and I was right. I like my apples to still retain their shape, but these were all mush. The flavor was good, just not the texture of the apples. Next time I will only bake it for 30 minutes, tops.

I think I might go back to making just a turkey breast next year. I usually only eat the white meat, and a turkey breast takes less time to cook. But, you can't really stuff it with aromatics like you can a full turkey. I put a quartered apple, onion, a whole head a garlic cut of half, rosemary and thyme inside the turkey. It was absolutely delicious.

Okay, I have a million things to do today, so I better get going.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Just a side note

I have been recording all kinds of Thanksgiving cooking shows the past few weeks (obviously), and I saw one the other night that bothered me. It was on the Food Network, and was called Challenge. It challenged 4 professional chefs to make an entire Thanksgiving meal that included Turkey, Potatoes, Stuffing, a Vegetable, Chef's Choice, and a Dessert. But, they had 5 hours. Does anyone else think that doesn't seem like an extreme challenge? They had previous time to plan and test their recipes, and then they had 5 entire hours to cook. It just didn't seem like much of a challenge to me.

On the Food Network note, I don't understand why people watch Sara Moulton. She completely bores me. I know she is a great chef, but whenever she is on my tv, she instantly makes me feel extremely annoyed, and i immediately change the channel. The same with Emeril. That is a big difference to Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, who I can watch every day and never get sick of. Alton Brown is another person I love to watch. He makes me completely enthralled with whatever he is talking about, even if it is something as simple as beans.

Okay, enough Food Network ranting. Time for bed.

P.S. I just turned on Top Chef and saw they are making Thanksgiving dinner. Looks like I am not going to bed for another 40 minutes...
My face hurts

Today was my last day at my current job, and I got so sick of giving a fake smile to everyone. I guess I am grateful, though, for the $50 Wal-Mart gift card they gave me. I can use that to buy some Christmas gifts for my nieces. I start my new job for the State of Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation on Monday. WOOHOO!

Now, on to the important stuff. I nixed the Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart, and decided to go with an apple crisp instead. I have a recipe from a friend of mine who is amazing baker. The apple crisp is really for me, since I love apples and am not a big fan of pastry crust. I also ended up spending another $30 at Giant Eagle after work today, even though I thought I already had everything.

I am making Caramelized Shallots and Green Beans to take to my parents house tomorrow. My mom wasn't sure exactly what shallots were, so I will be happy to share. I am also making the cranberry sauce.

The Jeffersonville Prime Outlets are going to open tomorrow at midnight for a special sale, and I am going there, alone. I was already planning on going down there to do some Christmas shopping (and wander around the Williams-Sonoma/Pottery Barn Outlet), so I figured I would take advantage of the sale.

Okay, I need some local help. I have been trying to find the reusable tube of tomato paste for about a year now, and not one store I have looked in has it. Does anyone in the Columbus area know where to find this? If so, please let me know! I am sick of buying those stupid little cans and only using a tablespoon. I know I can freeze the rest in tablespoons, but it just seems like a pain. I want the tube!

Eat lots tomorrow, everyone! =)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I can't wait to cook!

So, I am having Thanksgiving dinner at my parents house on the actual day, and I am sure it will be fine. My dad always makes the turkey and stuffing, and I always make the mashed potatoes. My mom has been doing Weight Watchers for the past 6 months or so, and is only 6 pounds away from her goal weight, so we are going to be having "healthy-ish" food.

Thankfully, I am making my own Thanksgiving meal on Saturday for Geoff, my friend Charla, and her date, Alex (her dog). I am soooooooooooooo excited to cook! I have been looking forward to this for the past month. I am making the turkey, obviously, but I am brining it for the first time this year. I am very excited about this. We still bought a frozen turkey from Giant Eagle this year, but I am planning on buying a fresh one next year from a local farm. I also have a fantastic recipe for some dinner rolls from the current issue of Cooks Illustrated, my new bible. On Friday, I will be making two desserts. One is a classic pumpkin pie, even though I am not a big fan of it. Geoff has basically threatened my life if he doesn't get pumpkin pie. The other is a Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart that I saw on Barefoot Contessa the other day. I will also be making the dough for the dinner rolls, since the recipe says you can make it a day early and leave it in the fridge.

On the day of, I am making homemade cranberry sauce, since it seems ridiculous not to. I am also making mashed potatoes, simple baked sweet potatoes, the delish Cooks Illustrated gravy, a requested Green Bean Casserole (and really, no matter how your tastes change as you grow up, don't you still love it?), and Apple Herb Dressing. The dressing is a combination of a recipe I read, and a few other things I am throwing in.

Okay, now that I have gotten that out of my system, I can share some very exciting news. At least, the news is exciting to me. I got this new book, an early Christmas present, from Geoff. It is Alton Brown's Gear for your Kitchen. It has a lot of good info. I have been wanting some half sheet pans from Williams Sonoma for a couple months now, but haven't bought them myself. They weren't too expensive, at $17 each. But, in Alton Brown's book, he gives me information I should have figured out myself. Go to a restauarant supply store and buy them for $5 each. So, I found one located over on Wilson Rd, called Restaurant Depot. They have a sign that says "Not open to the public", but they sold me stuff anyway. I found my beloved pans for $4.93 each, and I was ecstatic. I got them home and tested them with my Silpat, and discovered another thing that should seem obvious. The Silpat was made to fit in these pans. Sigh. If I had only known this information when I first got the Silpat 3 years ago. I spent weeks trying to find a pan to fit it.

I then went to another restaurant supply store, Wasserstrom, off of Weber Rd. They had a lot more dinnerware, which I liked, but their prices were also higher. Their half sheet pans were $8.99. They also had quarter sheet pans that were $7.99, which confused me. Why were they not half the price of the half sheet pans, since they were half the size?

They had fantastic clearance, though. I got my mesh strainer for my gravy, which is the only thing I went there for. I also got a funnel for transferring sauces and stuff into jars. Overall, their prices were higher on just about everything, but I would stil recommend going there for the clearance. Does anyone else know of a good restaurant supply store in town? If so, please let me know.

On a non-food note, our dryer broke on Friday night. Yeah, it is 5 months old. Thankfully, we have a warranty, and Lowe's is coming out on Tuesday morning to look at it. But, I had been putting off laundry for about a week and a half before it broke, so I have pretty much nothing to wear for the next couple of days. Isn't that the way it always happens?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Is it okay to love to cook and still not eat seafood?

Yes folks, I am a non-seafood eater. I'm not sure what in my childhood ruined any kind of water-dweller feasting for me, but something sure did. I do remember eating fish my dad had caught and filleted himself when I was younger. I recall pulling out the bones and lining them up on the side of the plate. My dad obviously needed work on his knife skills. I don't remember doing this past the age of maybe 5. Perhaps what turned me off fish was the fact that we went fishing all the time, and I saw my dad cleaning the fish, and remembered the gross smell. It is true that even now, when I walk into a seafood restaurant (not often, obviously) or by the seafood department in a grocery store, I feel a little sick just from the smell.

I wish I liked any kind of seafood. It is generally healthier than most other meat, and there are so many ways to cook it, and usually it is ready very quickly. I can't bring myself to do it, though.

Other foods that gross me out:

- Tomatoes in their fresh state, such as sliced on a sandwhich or burger. I will eat them in salsa, soup, pasta sauce, a million other ways. I think it's mostly the texture. And, all that yucky juice.
- Cauliflower in any form.
- Liver, from any animal
- Nacho cheese
- Canned green beans (or any other canned vegetable in general)
- Frozen pizza. I have never found one that I like.
- Most kinds of fruit pies. Especially the ones with crust on top.
- Ice cream with any kinds of chunks in it. Except for a Reese Cup Blizzard from DQ.
- Red Apples (too grainy)
- Chicken fried steak.

I am sure I will add to this list from time to time. I sound like a freak now. Who hates tomatoes and frozen pizza? Me, I guess. The cheese stands alone.

Speaking of cheese, here is a list of food items I always have on hand:

- Extra sharp white cheddar cheese.
- Almost any kind of potato and potato dish.
- Bread, all kinds.
- Garlic
- Shallots
- Broccoli
- Sour Cream
- Kosher salt
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Couldn't live without it.
- Tortilla Chips
- Organic Free Range Low Sodium Chicken Broth from Trader Joe's for only $1.99 a carton! How can you beat that?!
- Ground Turkey Breast
- Boneless pork loin chops
- Granny Smith Apples
- Dijon mustard

So, today I am making a big batch of the Barefoot Contessa Barebecue Sauce. The last batch lasted I think 2 months. Then Sara is coming over for dinner, and I am making the Pork Loin with Balsamic Caramelized Onions again. It was so good, I couldn't wait to try it on someone else. Okay, I better start making the barbecue sauce, or I won't have time to do anything before Sara gets here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pork Loin with Balsamic Caramelized Onions

I saw this recipe on Becke's page, and since I had some pork loin chops in the fridge, I had to make it. Let me say, at the end I was eating the onions by themselves out of the pot, it was so good. I will definitely make this again (like tomorrow..).

Anyway, here are the steps. (I was really into the pictures today)

First, you've got to have the chops. I had these extra thick ones, emphasized by the "Thick" sticker, from Giant Eagle.

I sliced only 2 pretty small onions, since I was only making 2 chops. I wish I would have sliced more now! Oh, and make note of my semi-new knife. It is his first appearance on the blog, even though I couldn't cook without him!

I browned the chops in my stainless stock pot in about 2ish tablespoons of olive oil. They look overbrowned, but they weren't. They had a nice crust, and were tender and juicy inside. Yumm...

After chops were done, I took them out of the pan and added a tablespoon of butter and the onions. I covered them (as I have heard THE Julia describe) to cook for about 15-20 minutes, then took the lid off until they were soft and sticky, like in the picture. Then I added a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

I put the chops back in the pan and covered them while I finished the red smashed potatoes and of course, broccoli.

I know this picture is a little blurry, but I took 3 in total, and the other two were actually worse! I guess I was just excited to eat, lol.

In conclusion, I followed Becke's recipe, and this was the best meal I have had in awhile. Probably since the Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. I can't wait to make this again! Thanks for a great meal idea, Becke!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I have been cooking, but have been so hungry each time the food is done that I forget to take a picture. I have made my version of Barefoot Contessa's Chicken Chili on Sunday, and it was amazing. I will make it again soon, I am sure. Then I will share some pictures and the recipe, my version and hers. I think I will be making the pork chops I read about on Columbus Foodie, since my mouth watered just looking at them. I will definitely let all 3 of you know how they turn out!

It is really sad then when I make these chops I will be forced to brown them in the only stainless pan I have, my 6 quart saucepan. I just think that everything browns better in this pan, and also for caramelizing the onions, and any kind of deglazing, a non stick just wouldn't work as well. I can't wait until I get my stainless skillet and saute pans!

Okay, time for bed. I will be posting more in a couple days.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

My friend Heather made this bread over the weekend, and sent me a picture. It looked so good, I thought I would post it. I will have to make this soon. Heather, I need the recipe....

I was just reading over some of my posts so far on this blog, and when I was looking at pictures of the food, I noticed I eat a lot of broccoli! Almost every meal has a huge pile of broccoli next to some form of red potato. I need to branch out.

Since I have never been to the North Market, and have heard so many good things about it, I have informed Charla that she will be coming with me this Saturday to check it out. I am very excited!

I haven't really made any impressive food recently. At least, none worth posting. I plan on making some Barefoot Contessa Chicken Chili next week, and I will share the pics and recipe then.

BTW, I made the chocolate cookies for my nieces birthday party with the Reese's Pieces in them, and they were AMAZING. I highly recommend making them yourself!