Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup (with a salad on the side)

Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup with a salad on the side!

That's my version of WebStar/Young B's song.

I didn't plan meals for this week.  Shame on me.  For Monday, John made some super yummy turkey burgers.  Last night?  I threw together some CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP.  But I'm sure you figured that out by now.

First, I melted some frozen chicken broth I had made.  The last 3 times I roasted a chicken I made broth.  I used 1 bag of broth from each of the last 2 times because one time the broth was much darker than the other.  Also, one was in cubes, the other in a bag.  The broth had a very onioney lemoney taste to it that was awesome.  The bag one was actually left from this meal, as were the chicken pieces added later!

I cooked about 1/4 box of whole wheat spaghetti until it was ALMOST al dente.  I plunked it into the now boiling chicken broth.  When it was cooked, I added the extra pieces of chicken I had saved from the roasted chicken.

Served with.....A SALAD ON THE SIDE!

I crack myself up. 


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Birthday Presents

Today was my dad's birthday (Happy Birthday Dad!).  To fuly understand why I gave him the present I did, you first need to know the back-story.  When he was growing up (with 5 siblings!) the kids, on their birthday, could choose ANYTHING they wanted for dinner.  Every year, my dad picked ravioli.  He loved ravioli on his birthday.  My whole life, at least as much as I remember, he continued to have ravioli on his birthday (do I get my insistence on tradition from him?  Hmmmmmm...).  This year, we were going out the night before his birthday because my mom and I had to go to a bridal shower on his actual day.  So we would not be around for any kind of OFFICIAL birthday cooking.

Last week when I made the home made macaroni this delicious idea hatched in my crazy head.  I knew my dad
1) loved ravioli on his birthday
2) hated to cook on his birthday, although he loves to cook any other time

HOME MADE RAVIOLI birthday present!  I borrowed some cookie cutters and made them in different shapes.  John even helped!  I didn't take any pictures because they would have looked pretty much the same as the ones on the home made macaroni post.  My photography skills have not yet improved.

Now I was very content with what I did, but it seemed incomplete.  I vegged out on the couch catching up on some blog reading and brainstormed (I multitask).  Anne over at Fab Frugal Food had recently posted about Home Made Peanut Butter Cups. My dad loves both chocolate and peanut butter.  I was sold.

Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy.  Apparently I am chocolate-melting impaired. 

I lined the muffin pans with cupcake thingies and I was so excited.  I don't have a double boiler and I don't have any bowls I can put in a pot to make one, so I opted to microwave melt.

I put about 1 1/2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips in a bowl and microwaved in 30 second increments, stirring in between each set.  It wouldn't get smooth, but I didn't bother about it.  I should have, because it was scorched.  I filled the cups with it and then tasted it.  Eww!  I scooped it all out and rinsed the cupcake liners.  John searched for other melting methods and came up with putting it in a baggie and then in boiling water.  That time the chocolate seized and wouldn't melt.  Chocolate-2, Us-0

Just as I was about to give up and cry, John said he would try and microwave melt it.  So... 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips go into the bowl, and he microwaves it at 30-second increments, stirring in between each set. SAME THING I DID!  And it was perfect.  Towards the end we did add a little vegetable oil to make it smoother.  He is awesome, although he wouldn't let me take a clear, non-stirring picture.  Consider this an action shot.

After the chocolate stress, the rest was easy.  I spooned the chocolate into the cupcake liners and then smooshed it halfway up the sides. Stick it in the fridge for about 15 minutes to harden. 

Next step?  Mix together about a cup of creamy peanut butter and 1/4 cup powdered sugar.  The recipe called for 1/2 cup sugar, but my dad isn't a fan of super sweet things.  Heat up that a little so it is pourable, and then put it on top of the chocolate.  Make sure not to fill it up past where the chocolate was smooshed up the sides because that's how the peanut butter leaks out the sides in the finished cup.  Then stick it in the fridge again to harden.

When the peanut butter layer is done, add another chocolate layer and harden again.  John had to do our chocolate again.  We used about 1/2 a cup of chocolate for this layer. 

This recipe made a dozen for us.  My dad loved them.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday: Pizza a la Eggplant Smush

A few months ago John and I went to a Lebanese Restaurant in town and I had this really good eggplant dish.  Since I had a few eggplants left I decided to try and re-create it on the top of my pizza.
First, I sauteed LOTS of onion and garlic in grape seed oil.  Lots. You know how I feel about onions and garlic.  I am one smelly-breathed girl!

  When the onions were almost clear, I added chunks of eggplant. 

I let them cook alllll the way down, and then added what was left of a bag of frozen tomato sauce I had made a few weeks ago (the rest was in this).  See how nice and smushy the eggplant got?!

While the eggplant mix continued to simmer together, I rolled out the whole wheat dough and covered it in Ricotta cheese. Usually I cut the dough after the pizza cooks, but when it is a loaded pizza it tends to be a mess, so I precut this one.  GREAT idea, must remember that for next time. 
 After the dough baked, I spooned the eggplant smush on top and ate it.  It didn't taste the same as the restaurant one (I tend to be light on the salt), but it was really warm and filling and perfect for me!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spaghetti (SQUASH)

I have been having green smoothies every morning for the last few weeks, but this morning I was in the mood for cereal.  I had YOGI cereal, which is very good and delicious, with rice milk and a pear.  It was a nice change of breakfast pace. 

  Dinner was to be a spaghetti squash, but I had no idea how.  A quick web search resulted in this recipe, onion garlic spaghetti squash!  

First, I cut the spaghetti squash.  Then, I stuffed it with chopped onion and garlic and drizzled olive oil over it.  After it cooked 375 for about 45 minutes and cooled for about 15 minutes, I scooped it out...

  With a light sprinkle of parmesean cheese and a nice salad, this baby was perfect!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Macaroni Monday

Today's dinner was just a quick Italian Meal.  John coated sliced eggplant with whole wheat flour, dipped it in egg, and then covered it with breadcrumbs, flax seeds, and parmesean cheese. 

We fried them a little while I defrosted the pasta sauce I made the other day. 

We then put them in the oven to cook. 

I ate mine with a side of macaroni (partially homemade) and with a little plop of ricotta and sauce on top!

Yay Macaroni Monday!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Glorious Grains

I had a hard time titling this post.  The problem?  I love alliteration (as I'm sure you have guessed by now) and there are too many cool, clever combinations (sorry, had to!)

Great Grains?
Goodness Grains-cious?
Or the always popular "They're Grrrrrrr-ains!"

Life is full of tough choices, in't it.  (Bonus points for you if you know what movie that is from!  Although if you know my top 3 movies you can probably guess it.  No, not Clueless.)

Grains are the topic of  the day because I love my grains.  Tonight I had a night to myself and used it to bake a loaf of bread and experiment with home-made macaroni.


Ingredients: Whole Wheat Flour, Flax Seeds, Dry Milk, Salt, Oats, Honey, Cinnamon, Yeast, Water

Add to Breadmaker

Watch it mix

Remove finished bread

Cut it up

Enjoy with cranberry apple tea and apple butter ('tis the season!)

That was the easy part! Onto the macaroni!

I researched a whole bunch of recipes before I did this (I spent like 20 whole minutes!).  They all had different egg/flour/water ratios, so I decided to trust my instincts and play it by ear.  The recipes I found also basically said that if you don't have a pasta machine that you are basically out of luck trying to get it flat enough.  I dared to prove them wrong!

Before I could start, I had to clear off part of my counter.  I have LOTS of gadgets and utensils on the counter and I knew I wouldn't want to clean flour and egg off of it all.

First, I made a mound of a cup of whole wheat flour, made a well, and plopped an egg in there.

After it was mixed together (adding lots of extra water to get a good dough-y consistancy) it rested for about a half hour.

Once rested, I broke off a little piece of the dough ball and rolled it out as flat as I could.

It was pretty flat.  For real.

Repeat for the whole dough ball.

I cut a few into spaghetti by rolling it extra thin...

... and then slicing it into thin strips.

I used another few for ziti.  I rolled it onto a thin spoon handle...

... sealed it with a little water and sliced it into ziti-sized pieces.

The rest I cut into circles for ravioli.  Some were with a wine goblet and some with a champagne glass.

For the filling, I mixed together ricotta cheese, parmesean cheese, and parsley in a bowl and let that rest.

After plopping a little in the middle...

...put another circle on top and seal it!  We have ravis!

Many Ravis!

Many Macaronis!

I cooked 'em up,

cooled 'em,

stored 'em,

and ate 'em! (with special sauce you will learn about whenever John joins us!

WOW!  While macaroni tends to be cheap-ish at the store, ravioli are pricey.  Now that I know I can make it, and it is yummy, I am excited to try different kinds.  Spinach?  Sweet Potato?  Dessert?!  Yeahhhhh.  End of story.  Good Story.