Monday, December 31, 2007

French Laundry, take one.

I did some online research when I got my FL cookbook, and it seems two of the dishes that are most common for those starting with it are the "Parmigiano-Reggiano Custards with Romaine Lettuce, Anchovy Dressing, and Parmesan Crisps" and " Butter-Poached Maine Lobster with Leeks, Pommes Maxim, and a Red Beet Essence". I can see why... two things that are pretty approachable as long as you understand it takes several steps to make them. It's a cooking idea I'm becoming really fond of lately.... cooking steps that don't take a lot of work but may take a bit of time (like stocks) that really impact the final dish. As long as you don't mind spreading it out in stages, it doesn't seem like a lot of work.


Cooking started yesterday, with the parm custards. Easy, although my cheese didn't get melty enough and I had a bit of goop left after straining them. I did them in a mini-muffin tin.

Also did the dressing for the custards, also not difficult.

Today it was getting and early start with the Brunoise and the clarified butter for the pommes Maxim. I really should have had one more cup of coffee before I started my chopping. The pieces started out teeny-tiny, but kept getting bigger as I kept chopping. I also discovered today is NOT a good day for my hands as I kept dropping the knife. Damn you, carpal tunnel!

But still, not too bad.....

All that for the stinkin' 2 tablespoons the recipe calls for. I based it all off the smallest turnip I could find.

Then it was blanching the veggies and the leeks, no big whoop. Blanched and draining....

Also started the beet essence. I do not have a juicer, so I was trying to find beet juice. Some sources indicated it'd be easy to find, since there is a large eastern European population in the area. Ha. I found something that claimed to be 100% beet juice, but a look at the label showed it was beet juice concentrate and apple juice. I decided to just go with the flow. The juice itself is a little apple-y, but not too bad.

After I did the clarified butter, it was time for the actual pommes Maxim. I love what the cookbook says... "They may not hold together completely." Who knew that Keller and Ruhlman were such comedians???

I drained the potatoes as best I could after coated with butter, but they started a full-on slide in the oven. I tried, a few times, to smoosh them back in to the pretty overlapping pattern I originally had them in, with no luck. Oh well.

The pommes - drianing....

Next was getting the lobster meat out of the shells. The recipe states, pretty clearly, to use live lobster, not frozen. The full plan to do this for NYE came together too late to order some live lobsters from the fish dude a couple towns over. And, frankly, frozen tails are much cheaper. Yes, I know, it's all about starting with the high-quality ingredients, but I am still a home cook and I'll commit these horrible crimes against the cookbook every once in awhile. Which is worse.... using frozen lobster or having Hamburger Helper for dinner???

When starting the boiling water, I realized I was out of white wine vinegar after the last plumbing incident where my kitchen sink got plugged up and I tried some vinegar and baking soda to get it unclogged. I did have a LOT of rice wine vinegar, so that got used. I'm not running to the store today. Sorry. I also threw a lemon in the water to just add a little more acid.

The tails steeped for three minutes, then I pulled them out and got the meat out. The cooking made it all pretty easy, I have to say. Cleaned up the tails, halved them, and stuck them in the fridge.

By then, it was time for lunch... frozen veggie enchilads from the freezer for me, and Ravioli-os for the hubby. Seriously. He was so excited to find them in the cabinet.

Another one of the beautiful parts of "stages" cooking... for the final "plating", you're not left with too much to do. I was able to make a complete mess of my kitchen several times over, but know that the final mess would be managable. I like that.

While the dishwasher was running, did the parm crisps.... mmmm...

Yeah. Six went in to the oven. One busted while I was putting it on the paper towels, so I was forced to eat it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Final prep.... and on to the good stuff....

One of the custards went plop and landed on its side when I was trying to get them out. No matter, since you really couldn't tell in the final plating.

This was overall kinda "meh". The taste of the parm just got kinda lost for me. All the cream just made it more mellow, and that's not one thing I want when I think parm. Still tasty, and the dressing made for a damned find ceasar salad on it's own, which we both did.

And the butter poached lobster........

Extra room left on the plate for some more potatoes (steamed in the microwave) and asparagus.

We both decided to pass on the beet sauce. I think it was mostly because it wasn't pure beet.... the sweetness to it was just odd and overpowering.

The lobster was amazing. Not much was said as we ate. I can say for sure I'm never making lobster any other way. I have to imagine that some high-quality cold water lobster would utterly rock. And it is a pretty fool-proof method, so I wouldn't be scared to try this with some damned pricey lobster.

All said and done... a good first impression of the French Laundry cookbook. Not every dish is a winner, which is the way life goes. But I'm excited to keep looking thru the cookbook and figuring out what other recipes and techniques I can use.

And damnit damnit damnit damnit damnit..... I just realized I threw out the lobster shells, hours ago. Damnit. Meant to throw those in the freezer, since I know I have other lobster shells hiding in there somewhere. Sigh.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast....

Pickled cherries.


They're like marichino cherries for adults. A little sweet, a little tart, somehow more "cherry-like".

Must put them away before I eat them all....


The vehicle pictured above is now sitting in my driveway.


I've been in the need of a new car for awhile now. In December of 1998, I bought my first new car, a 1999 Mercury Cougar, in Melina Blue. I loved it. It was sporty, it was cute, it was the car I wanted since I couldn't really afford a Mustang right then.

And my husband hated that car from the start. And I have not heard the end of it. For nine goddamn years.

For awhile, we've wanted to get a car that can actually hold more than two adults (he drives a Camaro). But, when I was done with my car payments we decided to focus on saving up to buy a place, so no new car for me. And we had figured it'd be at least a year after we moved before I could get a car.

We started looking over summer, but with the impending layoff, we figured it wasn't a good time to buy. Smart decision.

Hubby had some time off the past week, so he went and test drove a couple. He's got some work deal thingy with Ford (his company does business with them) where we basically got the car at "employee price". Sweet. I test drove it on Saturday, claimed it to be good, and left him to hammer out the details with the sales dude. He drove it home.

So far, I love it. After years of being in a sporty car and being constantly blinded by people's headlights, I'm finally up on the same level. I do feel a little guilty about not getting the hybrid or going for something more friendly to the planet, but not that guilty. At least I'm not one of the many area ladies who feels the need to drive themselves, and only themselves, around in a Hummer.

Did some joy riding yesterday, and today it went on errends. Hit the grocery stores, also went to Crate & Barrel and Williams Sanoma.

Came home, cleaned. Then I started some garlic confit, and started a shellfish stock with the many little bags of frozen shrimp shells I had in the freezer, and some of the leftover veg I had in my freezer. Then I made a simple dinner of steaks, potatoes, creamed spinach and some steamed veggies (veggies leftover from last week's veggie tray).

After dinner cleanup, it was the start of the real prep for the Parmigiano-Reggiano Custards with Romaine Lettuce, Anchovy Dressing, and Parmesan Crisps from the French Laundry cookbook. Did the dressing so far, and have the cheese/milk/cream waiting on the stove top for the next step. Last time I checked on it, it looked kinda curdly, so I am still suspicious at this point. Hopefully tonight I'll get the custard done, and I also wanted to at least do the Pickled Cherries from the one foie recipe to serve with duck on New Year's Day. That just leaves the final stuff for the custrards, and then sometime tomorrow I'll start the prep of the lobster tails for the butter-poached lobster. I searched high and low for bottled beet juice, and the best I came up with is something that is not 100% beet juice, it looks like it's also got some apple juice but I don't know how much. I'll give it a shot anyway, if it stinks, it just doesn't make it on to the final plate.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Think I'm gonna do the butter-poached lobster from the French Laundry Cookbook for New Year's Eve.

Probably going to wuss out and just go for lobster tails... since I'm cheap and busy, I know I can get frozen lobster tails at the plain old grocery store and don't need to make the extra trip over to the fishmonger a couple towns over. Yeah, I suck that way. And I have not planned ahead enough to order two live lobsters. Go me!!

I do plan to do the leeks and the beet reduction, provided I can find beet juice at the grocery store. I live in a heavily eastern- European populated area (and hell... my married last name ends with "ski"), and I have it on good authority I might be able to find it right at the ethnic market. I'm still fairly new to beets (and need to find out how to do the good, broth-y polish borscht that I can no longer find near my new job) but I think they are something that I like very, very much.

Might also try the "Caesar salad". I was originally looking over the recipe and went "1 to 2 ounce molds? Who the hell has those?" until I saw it mentioned foil molds. I can do foil molds. Heck, I've got at least three mini muffin tins floating around in my cabinets.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Whoopie!!! A Zeppelin!!!!!

Christmas has come and gone here in the Casa de Hausfrau.

Yesterday was out busy. Work up and threw the Creme Brulee French Toast in the oven while I was still half-asleep, and continued to wake up. As always, the french toast was a hit, as was the smoked salmon & bagel fixins I brought over to my mom. I'd seen a recipe for a Peachy Fruit Dip that I passed along to my sis-in-law (she's got two kids so I understand her need for things that are easy!) that was nice with some fresh fruit, and my mom made some baked scrambled eggs. Much eating was done, presents were opened. Highlights for me was a beautiful bamboo cutting board from my mom (I'm going to try to be nicer to my knives in 2008), a neat weather station from my bro & sis in law. We got my older nephew (he's 4) this big, huge Nerf gun, and he had a blast with it.

Quick stop at home, and it was over to my in-laws. The bagel dogs and green beans I brought there were also a hit. Again, great food, great company, and fun watching the kids. The other older nephew got the same Nerf gun, and this time the hubby brought his own identical Nerf gun and all the kids had a Nerf gun fight for about a half hour, which ended with the hubby trying to pull a double-gunned John Woo rolling maneuver that ended up with him smacking in to the sweets table and me in hysterical laughter. Although his aunt was taping the kids, I fear she missed that screen(or YouTube)-worthy gem. My mother in law got me a nice bread knife and they gave me some cash, so I am a happy woman.

Finally got home about 11pm, and we opened our presents here. Did pretty good for the hubby, he loved his little Hertz Shelby Mustang car (Matchbox size) that I got him, and spent the rest of the night burried in the two "Wrestlecrap" books I bought him. I got Gordon Ramsay's "A Chef for All Seasons" and "The French Laundry Cookbook" which makes me oh so happy, since I can now play along at home! Also already eyeing some recipes that might get made in a highly modified manner. First might be some butter-poached lobster for New Year's Eve.

Also got one present that the hubby also gave me last year.... a trip to Vegas in March! Very excited. Partly because our last trip was such a crap trip and we're at least in a more stable place right now, and also because the hubby treated himself and has already rented the Hertz Shelby convertable for the day we arrive. And I fully plan on him taking me to Rosemary's for lunch this time around.

Today the parents came over. Threw together a quick "meatballs in a crock pot" similar to this, using my own turkey meatballs and mandarin oranges instead of pineapple (yep, I am the only household in America that doesn't have a stinkin' can of pineapple in the pantry). They were still good. Also just laid out a variety of cheeses - cheddar, a huntsman cheese from Trader Joes, gouda, brie, Dubliner cheese, Boursin, a cheddar/horseradish spread, some apple-cranberry chutney from Trader Joes, two types of salami, some liver sausage, and a spread of raw veggies and ranch dip. Mostly opening packages and putting things on my new cutting board to spread them out. That's a wonderful cooking 101 lesson... it takes little effort and no cooking skill to throw together a fantastic cheese tray (darn, I wish I'd taken a picture). I did follow the Ina advice and had some chunks pre-sliced to get people going, and just put everything out awhile before people showed up so there was time for the cheeses to "bloom". My mother in law made a remark about "what a good cook" I am, and I had to admit this was a case of having a daughter-in-law who was just able to take the wrapping off hunks of cheese and thwap them on a platter.

Everyone had some nibbles, the moms and I had had some champagne mixed with pommeganite juice, we watch A Christmas Story.

Now everyone is gone, the house is quiet, and I plan to spend some time this evening flipping thru the new cookbooks. Might crack open one of the specialty brews that a friend sent me in a gift exchange (although I do also have some more champagne to polish off still). A good night, indeed.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Is it Christmas yet?

Been in the kitchen all day.

The day started with mini bagel dogs. Awhile back I made some kick asss bagel dogs, and for the holidays I decided to do a version with mini sausages. I was also inpired by a recent article in the Chicago Tribune that as an "update" of the mini sausages in the grape jelly/chili sauce that is often a staple. Their recipe was just sausages with some fancy dipping sauces. Stole two of the dipping sauces, a citrus mustard and a horseradish cream sauce.

Just did a basic egg bagel dough. Action shot!!!

After the dough was made, I just cut it down to size, and I was going for about 32 "strips" of dough. Just rolled each out in to a snake....

Each snake got cut in two, and I wrapped each piece around a mini sausage.

Boiled/baked per the bagel recipe instructions, and these little gems were my prize....

Very happy with those.

Also attempted to make some cinnamon palmiers from a recent Gourmet recipe.

Those pans were put in at the same time, and came out at the same time. I was not happy. I did them on the convection setting on the oven, on pan was fine and the other got burned. I decided I'd try again, since I still had cinnamon sugar left, and I was half-assing the recipe anyway and using store bought puff pastry rather than the "Easy" puff pastry-like dought the recipe had you make. I had the puff pastry anyway, it just needed to defrost.

Easy enough recipe to make, and doing them one pan at a time, they all came out the way they were supposed to.

Also prepped the Creme Brulee French toast for tomorrow's brunch. No biggie. I made it for the first time last year, and since then I've made it a half dozen more times, and it's always good. And easy.

For dinner tomorrow, I'm bringing a kind of "modified" green beans almondine ala the trout recipe in the Bouchon cookbook. Browned butter and almonds, and tomorrow I'll just nuke the beans at the in-laws, and toss them with the butter and almonds.

Also made some tomato confit, to use in a quiche. I was finally going to give the quiche from the Bouchon cookbook a try, using an 8 1/2 inch springform pan.


Dough was easy enough to make, and I chilled it, and then put it in the pan, and chillled it some more, and put it in to the oven. Right now, it's sitting on top of the stove, and it will probably soon be in the trash. It shrunk terribly on me, and right now it's just not worth continuing. I'd be surprised if I could get an inch of egg filling in there. I had spinach prepped for a florentine filling, I might give it a try again on Tuesday. Or I might just use the spinach for some creamed spinach this week (which is sounding more likely at this point in time). The recipe was one I wasn't counting on coming out, so it's no biggie if I drop it.

Still have to prep some veggies, make meatballs and pita chips, but that might just wait until Tuesday. I'm about out of energy, and I still have to clean up the kitchen. I also wanted to slice up some red onion and tomato for tomorrow's brunch (for serving with bagels, cream cheese and salmon) but that might just wait until tomorrow, since I don't want to cut up the tomato until tomorrow anyway.

But, the failure of the quiche at least gives me a start on meals for later in the week... I'll use up the cream and the tomato confit to make some pasta sauce, and the spinach can become creamed spinach. I'm almost ahead of the game??

Friday, December 21, 2007

How much is that doggie in the window?

When the hubby came home today, I heard him talking very loudly in the garage.

Then the garage door opened, and in came a very large golden retriever.

The Hell???

The hubby found her wandering the streets, made an effort to find the owner, then piled her in to the car and brought her home. I gave her some water, he took her for a short walk to go to the bathroom, and we just tried to pet her and keep her calm until the cop/animal control showed up to take her.

Very well behaved dog. Responded to every "No" and "come here" and "sit" very well.

And the cop came to take her to the shelter until the owners call, and our house is empty again.

Man, the place seems empty. We've talked about getting a dog, but just haven't done it since we both work full time. I should talk to my friend Kim, who works at a shelter, about any older dogs that might be a good fit. Sigh. We're both big dog people, and have been without a dog for too long.

Holiday plans are in full swing. Hit Trader Joe's tonight to find they were out of half of the things I wanted. Hope to wake up early tomorrow to make it to the grocery store and then spend the afternoon scrubbing.

Sunday will be cooking and prep. The list...

Xmas Eve Day Brunch
Creme Brulee French Toast (assemble ahead of time, bake it on Xmas Eve morning)
Bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese (was thinking of a salmon cheesecake thing.... screw it... I don't have the engery to make something that may not be any better than the basic sum of its parts)
Prosecco and sparkling blueberry juice

Xmas Eve Dinner
Mini bagel dogs & dipping sauces
Green beans almondine (kinda ripped off from the Bouchon cookbook)
Raspberry Chocolate cheesecake (purchased for some fundraiser thing, just gotta defrost)
Cinnamon Palmiers
Brownies with Cherries & White Chocolate chips (this is still a maybe, I have all the stuff on hand, we'll see if I get around to making them)

Christmas Day:
Crackers & cheese & salami (just have to pull out of the fridge)
Brie & chutney (just have to pull out of the fridge and open jars)
Veggies & spinach dip (dip is store bought)
Quiche from the Bouchon cookbook (this is the big cooking undertaking of the weekend)
Some little desert bite thingies I got at Sam's Club

Not too bad.... relying on enough quality store-bought things to keep it easy. The quiche is the big stress.... have not made it before, but if I blow it, I'm not going to worry. Might also throw together a "mini meatballs in the crock pot" thing for Xmas day as a backup. Or just pull out the quiche for an easy dinner on Wednesday. Don't know yet at this point.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I don't need this... my man has two jobs.....

I don't know if it's regular job + contracting a couple hours a night, or just the overwhelming-ness of a new job, or the holiday season, but something is just kickin' my ass lately. I just have no energy to do anything.


I won't even go in to cooking efforts this week. Sub-par at best.

Got Christmas cooking looming. More ugh. Xmas Eve brunch is french toast casserole, a salmon cheesecake if I can find a recipe I like. Xmas eve cooking is just going to be some mini bagel dogs as an app and maybe some green beans almondine. Also have one more batch of cookies to make, but that should be easy.

Still have to do the shopping list. Ugh. And the shopping. Triple Ugh.

Maybe it's the lack of decent holiday programming on TV this year (how did I miss the Charlie Brown Xmas special?? Did they run it the week after Turkey Day????). Hopefully my bah-humbug will go away. Soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Changes are a coming........

Come the new year, I'm going full force on the diet front again.

I've done Weight Watchers in the past, and I lost 30 pounds doing it. Unfortunately I've put those pounds back on and my own "self" efforts have at least kept me at the same weight, but not helped take any off.

So, come the new year, after I have a replacement for my now-dead Palm that I use for tracking (I'm not a joiner-type-person, I did my original WW stint doing online only and there are some great tools to use on a Palm that do the same thing while feeding no money to a huge corporate machine) I'm starting over. And it'll be interesting this time, since I'm also commited to go "eat out" every day for lunch since my current employer has a rule about no eating at your desk.

As an additional tool, I'm going to be posting about some of the diet efforts. For now, I imagine it's going to be general rules about HOW you can eat out and still loose weight. Take that, Morgan Spurlock!!

In other Hausfrau news......

We got more snow this weekend. Great. Fantastic. It was coming down so hard on Saturday that I didn't make it to my work's holiday party.

Today was brunch for my mother in law's birthday. It's a place we've been to eat many, many times, and we do brunch there pretty frequently. Pappadeauxs. Yeah, it's a chain, but it's always good. At least when they're not out of oysters.

We went over to the in-laws for awhile after, just to hang out. Then it was home again to our sadly plowed driveway (the plow service for the townhouse association always does a HORRIBLE job on our little section) and I headed out to hit the grocery stores. Wooo.

The reorganized my regular store and everything is in a different place. That makes for worlds of not fun.

Got home, chilled a little, didn't make dinner since I'm still full from brunch. I did also make up some of Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies for the hubby to take to work this week for some work party. Man, those things are awesome. I usually make them without nuts, but otherwise follow the recipe. Provided you have the half-sheet pan, a HUGE bowl to mix it all up in, totally foil line your pan to make them easier to deal with and don't mind getting chocolate and butter all over yourself in the process, it's super easy. And lord, people gush over them.

Which brings me to another rambling point that hit my brain as I was looking over the Food Network reviews of the recipe to recall what changes I make (use less coffee) -- what the hell is with people who "won't tell" someone else's recipe?? I understand if it's some award-winning, passed-down family recipe... but why wouldn't you pass on some massively available recipe in hopes it will inspire someone else? Someone mentioned that they passed off the recipe as "their own".... well, it's not! Why not tell people? When I make a recipe like that, I'm always more than happy to gush about how great a recipe was or how easy it was to make, since that love will be passed on to others. Why wouldn't you want to spread that love???

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wooo... Tree..... Pretty.......

So, the Xmas tree is finally done. Yay!!

Well, except for the star on top. I can't reach that high.

I usually "group" my ornaments, so there is time taken in the planning and placement of ornaments. But the results are worth it.

The Barbie section...

The Simpsons section..

.... Sesame Street....

But as much as it is a big toybox, it's not all kids stuff.

Like Marilyn......

And my Bettie Page ornament....

The Vegas section....

And I picked up one of the Christmas Story ornaments at Hallmark. Ahh.. the soft glow of electric sex....

Been slacking on the Hausfrau duties. Still adjusting to the new job, and ending up doing more work for the old job than I anticipated. Good, since they're paying me. Well, if they got all the invoice crap worked out today, they'll be paying me.

Tonight was chili cheese omelette. I know, it sounds gross. But it's tasty. I usual make one "family" omelette ala America's Test Kitchen, and just cut that up. Today's omelette featured some melted cheese and leftover chili that I pulled outta the freezer. We first had it in Vegas, and we're now addicts for a chili cheese omelette. Yummers.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Oh Xmas Tree, oh Xmas Tree..... damn you, Spock!

So, I figured I let sloth rule over Xmas for long enough.

This weekend was the holiday party over at my brother in laws, and after seeing how decked out their house was (and apparently has been since the day after Thanksgiving) my guilt got to me, and it's time to get the tree up.

The party was fun, the appetizers I brought were good, much champagne and beer was drunk, and it was fun. The drunken "exposure" incidents have dropped greatly in number over the past few years, but still, the hubby's side of the family (all the "kids" who are now married and in their 30s) still give waaaaaay TMI when they get some booze in to them. These people are technically family, and I just don't need that level of detail, thankyouverymuch.

I started by getting up some of my window decor. And then knocked down the old retro globe floorlamp that was my grandmothers (didn't break it, thank god) and had to clear up all the decorative stone that fell outta the bottom. Sigh.

Pulled up all the Christmas tree stuff from downstairs. Started to assemble to three at about 1:30pm. It is now 7:30pm, and it is still not working correctly. I thought pre-lit trees were supposed to be easier?? We bought this one last year, and it was not this complicated.

Part of it was my own fault, I apparently forgot I pulled out a couple lights to plug in my old Star Trek ornaments. Those fixed some problems.

But there is still what is one string of lights that is unhappy. When you plug it directly in to power and no thru the "string" of lights on the tree, it works. When you plug another string of lights in to the same plug, THAT works. It's a Christmas mystery. I suspect there is a single light that is out, and color me pissed about that. I've already gone thru and tested some of the "out" lights with no success, looks like I need a more organized plan.

Sigh. Stupid tree.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More adventures in crap-tacular food...

Kraft Mac & Cheese. Etouffee from a box (hey, I added my own sausage and shrimp at least). It's not been a week of large cooking efforts around here.

Tonight dinner was McDonalds. I had a salad, and a Big Mac for the hubby since whatever animal it is that they use to make the RibWich has gone extinct again (that's an inside "Simpsons" joke, for those who may not get it).

I had some individual pizzas I had planned to pull out in a pinch this week, but the hubby's work "surprised" them all with a pizza party for lunch today. I got home late - I was trying to solve some software issues and also go stuck trying to make Word 2007 somewhat reasonable to work with. Microsoft is just being downright stupid and stubborn right now. Yes, you can offer me a whole new interface and everything, but it's damned stupid to make it so I can't make it work like the old one. Let people ease in to it. Because you've already assured me that my old Word 2000 is still damn fine, easier to use and a friendlier than anything else you've put out since, Microsoft. And at the current job, I actually have to use Word for some stuff (no more FrameMaker, sniff sniff), so in every way it lacks from the high-powered and feature rich tools I am used to, I gonna be bitching. And feeling stabby. Especially since we were also seeing some weirdness in how it plays with docs that were originally done in an earlier version of Word. Not pretty.

I did make it to the grocery store on the way home, got the fixings for the Creamy Mushroom Phyllo Triangles and Chile Crab Wonton Cups I'm making for an Xmas party on Saturday. If I don't get the fillings done tomorrow night, it shouldn't be a big deal to do them on Saturday.

Hell, I might even do them tonight.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hamburger Helper

Now, I consider myself a foodie... but there are some things you don't argue with.

Mac & Cheese from a box.

Pulling a slice of cold cheese out of its plastic wrapper.

A frozen-dinner salisbury steak.

And Hamburger Helper.

Yes folks, the thing that is largely responsible for the whole "convenience foods" movement. A box, with a sauce packet and noodles, add your own ground beef.

(But those ones now that contain a can of the meat of choice? Evil.)

Tonight's dinner was Hamburger Helper. And I do not feel guilty about it. There is something comforting about it... being able to whip dinner together in 20 minutes without any thought.

And I was dead tired tonight. A whole days worth of new information in my head (New Job went well, and had to do some Old Job contract work tonight). Not time to tackle a new recipe. Or anything complicated.

The totally-not-a-foodie husband was excited. And he wanted to see the empty box to prove I indeed made Hamburger Helper and didn't do one of my "skillet" dinners that is the same concept - meat plus stuff for a sauce and pasta and cook it all together. He's odd like that.

Was it tasty? Of course it was. It's one of those things... it's like the McDonalds of home cooking... tastes the same now, in your house as it does in someone elses, the same it tasted 20 years ago when Mom pulled it out one night.

I'm not saying it should be an every day thing. But is it bad, every once in awhile??

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Running water. Whooot!!!

We did finally get the kitchen sink pipes fixed on Saturday. And with only one trip to Menards. I didn't think that was possible!

The husband ended up pulling apart pretty much all the pipes under the sink, and finally pulling out about six inches of some nasty-ass clog. I seriously think the previous homeowners must have been disposing of small animals thru the garbage disposal, since the clog was actually fuzzy. Ew.

Happy to have my kitchen back, it was Eggplant Parmesan for dinner. Yum. No recipe... slice eggplant THIN, salt it lightly and let it drain for about an hour. Blot it dry, then dump it in flour, then egg, then a mix of dry breadcrumbs and shredded parm, then fry those puppies up. I do mine in "stacks" of three, with a little sauce and a lot of cheese in between them. Then throw it in the oven until the cheese is melted, or even throw it in the microwave to melt the cheese.

The hard part is the eggplant. That's one reason why when I do it, I do A LOT. The cooked eggplant slices freeze wonderfully, which means an easy meal of pulling out the eggplant and using jarred sauce to make eggplant parm for dinner in about fifteen minutes.

It was a nice dinner, especially since we've been skipping on the veg for the past week with me being under the weather and just generally busy.

Tonight was a new recipe for me... Jacques Pepin's Instant Beef Tenderloin Stew. I've been meaning to make it for ages, since I bought the cookbook, and couldn't remember why I hadn't made it yet. It was easy enough, along with making a batch of drop biscuits, it took no more than 45 minutes to get dinner done. The hubby came downstairs, looked in the pan and asked what it was. I replied, a beef stew kinda thing. He replied "I hate beef stew".

Oh. Heh. That might be why I haven't made it yet.

And how does a man who likes pot roast hate beef stew? I don't get it.

In any case, he tried it, ate a few bites, and then went for the leftover eggplant parm in the fridge.

I liked it a lot.... if he wasn't so stew-phobic, I'd definately make it again. It's also a decent way to stretch some beef tenderloin, I only used two steaks I'd gotten at the grocery store, and it was probably enough for three to four people.