Thursday, June 30, 2011

What not to do (a/k/a I never learn)

hmmm...vacation has been bad for my blog-posting.  Perhaps because I haven't actually been able to cook?  I am hoping to change that in...tomorrow. 

So today's post is not about a meal.  Although it involves something that could have been a tasty part of a meal...if I wasn't a complete idiot. 

1) When it smells like something has died in your kitchen, you should immediately search for the cause of the smell and not give up until you find it.  (Don't be like me and shrug it off saying "I probably don't want to know what is causing that smell")

2) When a myserious yellow/brown puddle appears on your kitchen floor, look for the source, remove the source, and clean the mess. (Don't be like me and say, "Oh, I must have spilled something while I was cooking and not noticed.  I clean it later.")

3) When that puddle grows and turns black, look for the source, remove the source, and clean the mess. (Don't be like me and continue to ignore it)

One day, I was getting something from the hanging shelf on the back wall of my kitchen and noticed a rotten sweet potato.  It had been dripping all over everything on the shelves below it, and on the floor.  It smelled disgusting.  It was right at eye level.  How did I not notice it sooner?  Into the trash it went, floor was cleaned, smell disappeared, problem solved. 

Now, there was a second sweet potato on that shelf.  That was fine.  But surely, if the first one rotted, the second would too?  (Why, oh why, did I never get around to cooking those damn things before they rotted?  I had every intention of making sweet potato soup...I guess life got in the way...)

2nd sweet potato was still looking ok, but I left town for a week.  I told myself I was going to throw it out before I left, just in case it was on the verge of rotting.  Did I remember to throw it out?  Of course not.  I came home a week later...and...rotten dripping smelly sweet potato creating a mess on some of the food boxes that had been untouched by the 1st sweet potato.  (These shelves mostly hold things like pasta...barley...cous cous... olive oil...tomato soup...)

Moral of the story: If you buy sweet potatos, cook them within a week.  Don't leave them for a month or two so that they can wreak havoc. 

PS:  Shouldn't I have learned my lesson after the bag of potatos I left in a dark cupboard for too long, which rotted, causing a stink I didn't locate for a long time...and which was NOT fun to clean? Maybe someday I'll learn...there's always hope...right?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Light Lunch

After 5 hours spent cleaning the apartment...I wanted something tasty and quick for lunch.  It was already 1:00, and I didn't want to spend a lot of time preparing, I just wanted to eat!  This is what I came up with.

The Salad
50/50 blend of spring mix and baby spinach
1 small carrot, chopped
1 large radish, chopped
some sprouts
1/2 avocado, diced
1 slice tomato, chopped
homemade salad dressing

The Dressing (olive oil/mustard base)
find a clean jar (I used a pumpkin-butter jar, any jam or pasta sauce jar would probably work)
squeeze some mustard into the jar
add some honey (I had some straws of honey someone gave me, I used 3 of them)
add a spoonful of chopped garlic
add salt and herbs to taste (I used oregano, tarragon, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, italian seasoning, chili powder)
fill jar about half way with olive oil.  stir really well with a fork
shake the jar really well before using after it has been sitting for awhile

The Sandwich (Salmon roll)
1 whole wheat tortilla
chive & onion cream cheese
 spread a thin layer of cream cheese over about half of the tortilla.  layer slices of salmon on top.  roll it up.

Tortilla Chips
a staple on every lunch plate...

Monday, June 13, 2011

2 meals

Yesterday's lunch
Gouda/Chicken Quesadilla on a bed of sprouts, drizzled with honey-mustard

Yesterday's dinner
Potato-Vegetable Soup with a Tuna Melt
(carrot, radish, onion, green onion)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Last-Minute Pasta Salad (a/k/a what's in my fridge)

I'm in a ranting kind of mood...tonight you get a play by play.  If you prefer pictures to words, skip ahead to the bottom.  Only 3 more days of school, 10 more days til my 2 week vacation...I can make it.  By the end of the 2 weeks, I expect to be counting down the hours til I get to go back to work.  Such is life.
 Sooooooo tomorrow is field day at GES.  And we're having a picnic lunch.  One of those things where the school supplies the hot dogs and things like desserts, salads, snacks, etc are assigned to each of the classes.  Faculty got salads.  And I have...nothing in my fridge that immediately jumped out saying "make me into a salad, make me into a salad!"  Also, I'm trying really hard not to go to the grocery store for the...fourth?...time in 7 days.  More than once per week is a lil excessive, don't you think?
   So right from the start, I assumed I'd either be making a fruit salad or a pasta salad.  Kind of hard to make a green salad when you have no lettuce what-so-ever.  Thought about the different kinds of fruit in my fridge...a mango that I need to eat ASAP before it gets too mealy, some cherries that need to be eaten but are probably already too moldy, strawberries that I AM going to eat and to not want to share, various other fruits that I will hopefully eat and that I really don't feel like peeling and chopping for a salad get the idea. 
   I have pasta though.  And carrots.  But that would make a really boring pasta salad.  But, it seems like my best option.  Pot of water goes on the stove to boil, then the pasta goes in.  Penne?  nah.  Large elbows? probably not enough of them.  Shells?  looks like the best choice.  Besides, the box is labeled "Salad Shells."  Must be meant for salad...  Boil up the pasta, drain it, run some cold water over it, stick the strainer in the pot, fill with cold water to sit.
  2 carrots come out of the fridge, and get grated into a bowl.  What else do I about some radishes.  Maybe if I grate them up their spiciness won't be so overpowering.  3 grated radishes go into the bowl.  I need something green...chives?  Sure, why not.  Chop up some chives as finely as I can without cutting myself, into the bowl they go. 
  Now...I need some kind of sauce for this pasta salad.  I really want to use pesto, but I can't find any.  Thought I had a new jar of mayonnaise, but apparently I'm delusional because I can't find it.  Have an old jar, but it's getting low and probably questionably edible at this point anyway.  Stare at the contents of the fridge for awhile...if I stare long enough, will something appear?  Wait, what is that behind the V8?  Could it is!  A jar of pesto!  I've been wanting to use that all week!  Perhaps it's a good thing I didn't find it earlier...there wouldn't be any left for this pasta salad.  Big spoonful of pesto goes into the bowl.  Pour some olive oil on top. 
  Time to add the pasta.  By now, it's cold.  Lift the strainer out of the cold-water pot, shake water out, pour back and forth from empty pot to strainer to get rid of any water caught in the shells.  Pour about 1/2 the pasta into the bowl of stuff, mix it up good.  Add the rest of the pasta a bit at a time (waaayyyy easier to stir if you don't just fill the bowl right away.  Of course, if you want to get an extra dish dirty, you could just mix the stuff in a bigger bowl, instead of in the container you plan to store it in... I'm sick of washing dishes this week.
  Taste test.  Wouldn't want the embarassment of bringing an inedible dish of food to a pot-luck. 
  Yay pasta salad is done.  I wonder if anyone will eat it?  If not...more for me.  I'll probably be dogs are so not appetizing to my adult-self.  Can't remember exactly when I last ate a hot dog, and I would like to keep it that way.  I ate my fair share when I was a kid...

finished product: up close and personal

grated radishes and carrots

chopped chives

carrots, radishes, chives

bowl of pasta salad

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beer-Batter Chicken and Minty-Smash Peas

Sound appetizing?  Because it was definitely a delectable dinner.

I threw together some leftovers for lunch this afternoon, and was looking for something to watch on Netflix instant while I was eating, since I had finished a book earlier, and didn't feel like starting a new one right away.  I found something called Oliver's Twist in my list of recommended TV shows.  I read the summary, and it was about FOOD.  No need to look further.  I clicked on it, and watched the first episode, in which Jamie Oliver made beer-batter fish & chips, and this smashed-pea thing.

After spending much of the morning thinking about what I wanted to cook for dinner (I was pretty sure I was going to make sweet-potato soup...), I threw it all out the window and decided to make some beer-batter chicken.  (Chicken, becuase I'm not a huge fish fan, but I loooove chicken.)  Also, the smashed-pea thing sounded incredibly interesting, so I decided to make that too. 

I already had chicken in the fridge, but did not have the necessary ingredients for the peas, so I stopped at Kroger on my way home from visiting Pony.  (The fact that I was driving by Kroger anyway justifies the fact that I made an unnecessary grocery stop...right?)

1) in a bowl, mix approx. 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2-1 cup flour, some beer (I used about 2/3 bottle of Samuel Adams Summer Ale...should have used less, I had to add more flour than I had planned, and I have a lot of leftover batter to play with at dinner time tomorrow...), and an egg yolk.  Beat the egg white seperately with some salt until stiff. (This is how Jamie did it on the TV show...I could not get the egg white to stiffen.  I gave up eventually and just poured it into the flour mixture. Whisk it all together, should be kinda thick.
1) heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a saucepan on the stove (you probably want to turn on the fan now...there will be some smoke when you drop in the chicken...)
2) clean a B/S chicken breast (chop off all the fat if you're obsessive about stuff like me...)
3) cut the chicken into pieces (I cut mine into strips that were probably about an inch wide)
4) put the chicken pieces in the beer batter, swirl them around some, drop them in the oil (watch out for the oil kinda hurts.  I've been splashed by burning oil so many times I hardly notice it any more)
5) let the chicken fry for a few minutes (3-5?) then fish it out and put it on some paper towels to soak up the extra grease  (ewwwwww grease)

I think Jamie Oliver just called them "smashed peas."  BORING.   Minty-smash peas sounds way cooler. 
1) Put about 2 tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan on medium heat. 
2) Chop up some green onion and fresh mint.  (How much?  ummmmm I'm gonna guess here, cause I have no idea how much I threw in that pot.  Maybe 1/4 cup chopped green onion and...1/8 cup chopped mint leaves?  You decide.  Measuring is boring anyway.)
3) Let the onion and mint cook for a bit til they're kinda soft/wilty.  Add some frozen peas.  I added 1/2 a bag.  How big was the bag? Um, I don't remember.  Let's say I put in about a cup and a half of frozen peas.
4) Add some more olive oil if you think it's necessary ( I did), put a lid on the pot, and let the peas cook.
5) When the peas are done cooking, transfer the contents of the pot into a food processor, and blend it up. 


As a side-note, I would like to say that I am somewhat appalled that I not only made deep-fried food in my kitchen, but also ate it.  Me?  Eat deep-fried food?'s soooo not healthy!  Oh well.  Guess I should live a little once in awhile.  At least I put some vegetables on the plate with the deep-fried chicken...

Beer-batter chicken on a bed of alfalfa/radish sprouts, dollops of minty-smash peas, and tortilla chips

And I would be lying about my meal if I didn't admit to the side dishes...

Mashed avocado for the chips, and honey mustard for the chicken.  Mmmmm I love honey mustard.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

so much deliciousness in one place...

Well, there hasn't been a whole lot of cooking going on in my kitchen lately, aside from the daily pancake.  And sometimes I get to cook dinner, but haven't done anything new and exciting recently.  So, due to my sad lack of posts lately, today I dug down into my archives of food pictures, and found this delectable-looking plate.
There is so much yummy-ness going on here I'm not even sure where to begin.
Top-down perhaps?
Scallops baked in the oven with my own special breadcrumb/herb mix, butter, and possibly some white wine (I put some in if there is any lying idea if I had any that day)
Angel hair pasta
Shaved carrots and parsnips cooked in olive oil
Zucchini cooked in olive oil (and probably oregano)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pink and Green

I never was a huge fan of Sweet Briar's school colors...but I see them everywhere. After throwing together this bowl of food, I couldn't help thinking "Well doesn't that just look like a big bowl of Sweet Briar!"

Radishes, Leeks, and Sprouts

With my vegetables, I had a very delicious quesadilla with beef, provolone, and spinach. 
And avocado on top, of course