Monday, June 30, 2008

SHRIMP & LOBSTER STOCK

Shrimp/Lobster stock might sound unappealing to some people, but it's very good. One of my favorite ways to use it is to mix it with tomato soup, add a splash of half & half and in minutes you've got bisque! 


Just like regular stock, it's easy to make. Whenever we have lobster, or those delicious sweet shrimp, I save the shells in a ziplock and throw them into the freezer until I have enough to fill a large sauce pan. I fill with water, add a sliced lemon, some thyme and parsley (you can use dried) and a bay leaf. Pinch of salt. After it comes to a boil, I reduce the heat and let it simmer for about an hour, then I turn up the heat, add 1.5 cups of white wine and boil it until reduced to about half. Then I strain it, let it cool and refreeze in ziplock bags and it's ready to go for whenever I need fresh stock. If you wanted it more concentrated (more flavor, less water) just let it slowly boil down and reduce to your desired preference.  

Friday, June 20, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOGGIE!

8 years old today. Wow, how time flies. 

So, what do you get a DOG for her birthday? Lamb chops of course! It's her favorite thing in the world, second only to liver. But, since it's her birthday I chose to  go with the lamb chops because liver is rich and she could only have a small amount, and when you're a dog, the more meat you get, the better! 


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

COCKTAIL HOUR - RASPBERRY THYME SMASH


Yep, raspberries and thyme. Weird, huh?

Typically, I'm not one for complicated mixed drinks. They're messy, and usually not even that great. But, mess or not, this one I had to try.

So, I see this article for a Raspberry Thyme Smash in the most recent issue of Bon App├ętit. I like raspberries. I like thyme. I don't like Gin. BUT... it's made with Hendrick's Gin, which I've never had, which is infused with rose and cucumber. Interesting, I thought.  And look at the drink, doesn't it just look delicious! 

Here's the 411:






Here was mine. Totally worth driving to BevMo to get the Hendrick's Gin, it's good! And the drink is scrumptious!



Monday, June 16, 2008

COOK YOUR CHICKEN UPSIDE DOWN

It's not as pretty - but it makes for much tastier white meat.


Does the chicken in this pot look odd at all? It's because it's upside down. Breast side down instead of the way we're used to seeing it - breast side up. My mom always did this with the holiday turkeys, so why not do it with chicken. 


1 Whole chicken - drop it into an oven safe dish that you have a lid for. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper. You could stop there and add only a bit of olive oil, but I also like to add a good sprinkling of onion powder & garlic powder, a little paprika, and a little dried oregano. Drizzle a good amount of olive oil over it, then rub it all in real good.  

I cook it uncovered at 375 for about 30 minutes, then turn it down to 325, cover it and slow cook it for another 2 hours.  It really renders the juices, and creates a very rich, dark carmel-like sauce. Add desired vegetables, a little water (1 cup)  and white wine (1 cup) in the last 45 min.  When done, the liquid will be reduced down to a thick goo and you'll have a yummy sauce for drizzling over the chicken.

OK, so here is what happens. The breast meat is sitting at the bottom of the pot, drenched in all the juices and fat and it just drinks it up. Like I said, not as pretty - but so much tastier. 

Taken right out of the pot - juicy and moist. If you cut this piece of breast meat in half, you'll see the gorgeous caramel colored juice in-between each and every fiber. Go ahead, click on the picture to supersize it... you know you want to.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

FOOD SNOB? NOT EVEN CLOSE.

Is it weird that I like Goldfish crackers on my salad? 

Not that I need anyone's approval. I do what I want. I don't care what food snobs think. This post is more for "normal" people. 

I don't buy chips or crackers or cookies or anything processed really.  I do buy Goldfish crackers though. They taste good, and it was really the only cracker in the house - I used it for bread crumbs, and soup, and salads.  They seem safe enough. Not too many "scary ingredients." Not recommended that you polish off a whole bag, but a few here and there aren't going to hurt, and I've recently discovered that they're great for bribing kids! Especially when the kids never get junk food.  Recently we bought the pizza flavored ones. They're goooooooood.   :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

"MAC & CHEESE" TORTA di PASTA

Today I was wondering what to make for lunch and Mac & Cheese sounded good, but it's so messy (for the baby), so I decided to do a Torta di Pasta, Mac & Cheese style.

The baby loves both pasta and cheese - shoot, who doesn't - so she was totally on board. 

She scarfed it. 


Torta di Pasta is an Italian dish. It's brilliant. Basically, you take noodles (spaghetti is typical but today all I had was angel hair and it worked good also) and you mix it with egg. The other ingredients are entirely up to you. It's great for leftovers! You can throw anything from roast beef to chicken to veggies... anything goes pretty much. 


I started with the cheese sauce. I didn't need much, as I was making this for just the 2 of us.  1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon flour. Mix over med heat for a minute, then add milk - I did probably 3/4 cup, I just added it slowly until I reached my desired consistency and had a thick white sauce. Then I added a teaspoon of onion powder, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, and a few tablespoons of grated parmesan.  Salt & pepper to taste.

Then add the cooked noodles (it was around 2 cups?) and mix. 


Then, add the scrambled egg. I used 3 eggs because you want enough egg to really cover the noodles well otherwise it won't hold together when finished. 

This is what it would should look like when it has enough egg - well covered. I added a bit more parm on the top so it could brown up in the oven.  You can cook it on the stove sometimes (to crisp up the bottom... boy is that good!) depending on the ingredients of course, but it'll always need to be finished in the oven to cook the top. Today I didn't want to burn that milk cheese sauce, so I just put it into the oven. I recommend 400 degrees until the egg is firm... around 10-15 minutes.   

This is what it looked like when done. 

Scoot it out of the pan and onto a cutting board to cool for a minute before cutting. 

Anytime you have leftovers you can do the noodle-egg thing. It's so great. Chop up and add your leftover chicken parmesan (tomato sauce and all!) or sausage and peppers, or brown some hamburger and add mushrooms & swiss cheese.  Today I used a cheese sauce because we had a Mac & Cheese theme, but usually there is no sauce. Just noodles, eggs and then your leftovers. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

THE MONTAGE USED TO BE GOOD

Not anymore. The food sucks. The atmosphere is the same, kind-of, but what the hell did they do to the Jambalaya and the Mac & Cheese? It's not the same. Not like it used to be. It's been years since we've been there, and definitely it's not the same recipes.

For those who've never been - it's under a bridge, just outside downtown Portland, Or. 


Mussel shooter! 


The Rainier (aka Green Death) has been replaced with Session.  Pity. 



Maybe we're not the only ones thinking this way - Remember when this place used to be packed!?  It was not very crowded. 
 

Just not much to say. We ordered food, but it wasn't very good. I didn't even bother with pictures. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

BACON & RANCH (OR, I MEAN GARLIC SAUCE) PIZZA

I don't take the time to make pizza dough. It's just not my thing. Like baking. It's not my thing either. I cook, I don't bake. To me, making pizza dough and letting it rise, then kneading it then letting it rise again is all just WAY too much like making bread, which I don't do either. So, needles to say, if craving pizza, we just ordered it from down the street.  

That was until I saw this at Trader Joe's. Pizza dough.  Already to "go." Coooool.  


So, I was reading something recently from someone who used to work at a Pizzeria. They had a famous garlic sauce that everyone loved. He confessed that it was simply - Ranch dressing. 

Really? Wow. I've eaten it and I would not have picked up on that. 

So, I was craving pizza with garlic sauce after reading that and decided to get one of my frozen globs of Trader Joe's pizza dough out of the freezer. After the thaw, I put it on the counter with some flour, rolled it out, then put it on a lightly greased cooking sheet and into a 450 oven for around 5 min or so, just to give the crust a head start because I prefer it crispy. Then I took it out, slathered it with RANCH DRESSING (I like homemade ranch, not the stuff from a jar, but I guess any will work OK) then I put on some mozzarella cheese, some crumbled crispy bacon, some diced green bell pepper and some black olive. Then finished it with a  sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and back into the oven until brown.  


It was SO GOOD! 
Big pieces are for mommy, the little pieces are for baby. Doggie got what fell on the floor, which wasn't much.