Sunday, September 21, 2014

Creamy crazy cock a leekie soup

Cock a leekie is a traditional Scottish soup of leeks and chicken. Winter is coming. That's soup time over here. I'm dusting off some fridge cleaning soup recipes. This is one of my favourites to do after I've made Chicken Soup because I usually have a few leeks left over. This is not a THE traditional way to do the soup. I do most of this in the crock pot, but you can do it stovetop.

Let's get into trouble!

2 lg Boxes Reduced Sodium Chicken Stock
3 Reduced Sodium Telma Chicken Consumme Cubes
1 med Red Onion - Minced
1 Tbsp Worchestershire Sauce
2 large Leeks - Diced
1 stalk Celery - Minced
2 sm Yellow Squash - Diced
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning Blend

Toss into the crock, put it on low and come back in 5- 8 hours.

1.5# Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
2 Tbsp Ceasar Dressing
1 Tbsp Honey
1 tsp Lemon Pepper Seasoning

Trim Chicken breast. Place foil on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Place chicken on foil and cover with Dressing, honey and lemon pepper. Close foil to keep the juices inside. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, use a stick blender to puree the soup in the crock pot.

When the chicken is finished, let it rest for 5 minutes before dicing. Pour the juice from the cooked
chicken that is reserved nicely in your foil packet into the soup and give it a bit of the stick.

Toss the diced chicken in a bowl with 2 Tbsp of cornstarch before putting them into the soup. Stir. The cornstarch will thicken the soup slightly. Turn off the crock pot. Serve.

If you want to get super crazy with the creamy aspect, before you add the chicken - throw in half a bar of reduced fat cream cheese and blend that sucker good with your immersion blender stick.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nothing on tv? Time to whip out some YouTube channels!

When we cut the cable and started streaming, it took a little while to get into a good swing. Currently, I find that television programs worth watching are becoming more and more rare. Worse, the really good ones are getting cancelled or have fewer episodes than the cake-for-the-masses horrific pablum clogging our airwaves. 

Between seasons, I go on a hunt of YouTube for stuff to watch usually while I'm folding laundry, mopping or cooking. Must keep the brain active, so I won't go full tilt Stepford Betty Crocker.

Before I start with the list of my favorite super nifty You Tube Channels to check out, ask yourself 3 questions.
1. Do I know the difference between Star Wars & Star Trek?
2. Do I know the proper name of 6 different named weapons from books or film?
3. Can I name 10 different fictional alien species?
bonus question : Hodor?

If you could answer all three questions, come take a look at the list. If not... um, how did you find this page, anyhow? The answer to the bonus question is Hodor. (But, I'm sure you knew that already...)

Click on the name of the channel to go to the channel. (See, I made it easy!)

I like movie reviews and news about upcoming releases. That lead me to these sites:

Gamer news, movie news, geekity fun good times. Their daily Nerdist News is worth a gander.

The same kind of stuff as with Nerdist, but with more manliness. Or 12 year old boy humor. Whatever you wanna call it...

Black Nerd Comedy
Hands down my favorite movie reviewer. Love this dude, so so much. Unapologetically goofy.

Screen Junkies
These are the guys that do "Honest Movie Trailers". Fun stuff!

Geek & Sundry
Their low budget program The Guild is what brought me over. It's a fun show for anyone who has played or knows people who do play online RPG games like WoW. I'm a Wil Wheaton fan, too. He does a show called Tabletop where he and his buddies play tabletop games like Munchkin or Settlers of Catan. It's nice to see different games being played - lets me know which ones to put on the list to buy or the list to avoid. 

Emergency Awesome
This dude is a supernerd. He seems happily obsessed with all the minutiae of certain tv shows and movies. And guy is serious about it. Seriously. He does breakdowns of Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Marvel & DC anything and Walking Dead. Plus other shows as well. He digs out the literature and 'splains to all us lazy bastards who don't read the pulp. It's kind of like Vlog form Nerdy Cliff Notes. Respect and thanks!

He's top dog on YouTube atm and I do enjoy some of his videos. Watching his playthrough of Deadpool is what sold me on the game. TBH, I only eyeball about 1 out of 8 episodes that he posts.  Are you a bro, yet? Tee hee.

And then there's Music....

Epic Rap Battles. Some rock, some suck but they're all pretty darned creative. If you haven't heard of these folks yet, climb out from under your rock, man.

Oh the musicality. Oh the nerdy joy. While not every one is a hit, the orchestration and lyric work is fricking a-ma-zing. Luna found them because of their Doctor Who musical numbers.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tempura Batter for Meat or Veg

I try to keep from deep frying anything. Yeah, I live in the South. I'm sure this fried food avoidance puts me on some kind of old school cookery hit list. :) Maybe I'll fry something once a week, usually it's more like once a month.

A single recipe of this is supposed to coat 4 cups of Veg or 1 pound of meat. I'll probably have to double it for what I'm testing tonight. I used an amber lager rather than water for my test batch and was singularly unimpressed.

This batter comes out like Chinese Takeaway Sweet & Sour Chicken/Pork. Kind of bready, kind of crunchy and ready to sop up whatever delicious sauce you've got ready on the side.

Tempura Batter

3/4c Cornstarch
1/4 c Flour (I'll prolly use Whole Wheat)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Adobo (Spanish Garlic Salt with herbs)
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 slightly beaten egg
1 c Very Cold Water

Mix the dry ingredients together. Take 1/4c out and put in a separate dredge bowl.
Add the wet to the larger amount of dry and beat it well. The batter should be a little thick like waffle batter. A bit thicker than pancake batter but nowhere near as thick as brownie mix. If you need to add a bit more water, don't be scared - just mix it on in there.

Get your oil ready to fry. I prefer to use peanut oil, but I'm broooOooke right now so we're using canola. I'll edit this later with a temperature, but for now - the oil should spit if you throw a couple of drops of water into it. 

Dredge your whatever into the dry mix, shake it off and dip it into the liquid batter. To avoid club hand - use one hand for dredging and the other for dipping. The liquid batter will run off your item. That's ok, just try to keep it in the bowl, Beavis.  You will have some batter that drips into your oil. Yay, crunchies!

Fry your goody until it's a nice golden brown, flip it when you think it's ready. When it's finished, place it on paper towels or a handy brown bag to drain off the excess oil.

Keep the meat chunks to the small side, you want them to cook all the way through without burning the crap out of your batter. Chicken chunks are 1/2" cubes or fingers, Zucchini is 1/4" or 1/2" strips, Fish is 1/4th of a filet. Use your common sense. If you don't have any on hand, maybe you shouldn't be frying stuff anyway...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pita Summer

The summers here in Florida are beastly hot. I'm not the one to be sweating my na-na's off cooking hot food from after June till about October. This summer, I'm leaning towards flatbread sammies and pitas. Stuff as much veg as you can into a flat breadish food holder, add meat + cheese and top with some handy variant of Ken's Salad Dressing. (The Buttermilk Ranch and Sweet Vidalia Onion are our favourites!)

Whole Wheat Pita Recipe
1 packet Yeast
2/3cup Warm Water
1 Tbsp Molasses or Honey

Mix the molasses, water and yeast in a bowl and let it proof for 10 minutes or so.

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup White Flour
1 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix dry ingredients together and add to the foamy yeast. Drizzle olive oil on top and let the mixer do it's job. Once the dough is holding together nicely, turn it onto a floured board and knead until you have a smooth, elastic, happy dough ball. Put it in a greased bowl, covered with a damp towel in a warm room. Let the dough rise for about an hour, till it's doubled. Cut into 6 chunks and hand roll them into balls. Put those on a cookie sheet, covered with wet paper towels until you're ready to roll them into discs.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Roll out the dough balls one at a time to a thickness of between 1/4 and 1/8 inch on a lightly floured board. You don't want the dough to stick to your pin or board, but you don't want them all sandy and floury either. Just a touch of moderation, Grasshopper.

My discs end up about the length of my hand, maybe a little shy of it.

See how many you can fit on one cookie sheet. I'm working with a toaster oven, so I can only do em one at a time. Bake disks for 2-3 minutes. The high heat will steam the dough as it cooks and create the big bubble that becomes your pita pocket when you slice em in half. If you have rolled the dough too thin, they won't inflate properly. See? Nice and puffy!

When you have finished baking your pitas, cover with a damp towel for about 5 minutes, letting them rest.

Slice, stuff and Nom!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Johnnybread, Johnnycakes & Johnnywaffles, oh my!

Coming from the south, my parents taught me all sorts of odd recipes that aren't common yankee fare. Dad loved his johnnycakes. Just simple Jiffy cornbread mix pancakes cooked on the griddle. Johnnybread is the same as Johnnycakes, regional differences cause the name change, I suppose.

A Johnnywaffle is what you get when your stove AND oven are broken or gone, but you do have a waffle iron. :)  Truth enough, I prefer the waffle variant to the cake one. Those little squares hold gravy and/or butter mighty nice!

Just make your standard cornbread recipe or use good ol' Jiffy mix and add a little extra milk to it. You don't want it quite as thin as pancake batter but thinner than the cornbread batter.

Cook em like you cook your standard pancakes or waffles and enjoy!

Make em Gluten free if that's what works for you.
Add chopped onions, jalapenos or kernel corn to make em funky.
Cheese tends to overcook and may be hard to get off your waffle iron or griddle... go ahead if you want to, you were warned. :)

Another Banana Bread Recipe

Banana bread. We've all got a recipe somewhere for it. Everybody swears theirs is moist and wonderful...blah, banana, blah blah. Here's mine to throw into the ring. Special points : no oil plus whole wheat flour, flax and honey peanut butter.

It go like this here it go:

Banana Bread with Peanut Butter

3-4 Elderly Bananas
3/4 c Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Molasses
1/2 c Honey Peanut Butter
1/4 tsp Salt
1.5 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 c Ground Flax Seed
2/3 c White Flour
1 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp Almond or Walnut Extract

Mash bananas, add sugar & mix. Beat 2 eggs & mix them in as well. Add salt, baking soda, molasses and flax beating after each addition. Add flour and stir until it's well combined. Not too much, but do get the floury lumps out.

Spray grease loaf pan then pour batter in. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or so. Check with a toothpick - nothing is worse than half baked gloppy banana bread. Let it rest 10-15 mins then turn it out onto a plate.

A loaf rarely makes it past three days over here. Hehehe.

Note: Why no vanilla? Cheap vanilla might contain the juice of a beaver butt gland. I'll be making my own vanilla here in the not so distant future - without the butt goo.
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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Flatbread craziness

I had a moment and decided to make some flatbread, using my standard bread recipe. I did switch it up a little and used 1 cup of semolina rather than whole wheat flour. What I ended up with was 16 dinner plate sized flatbreads. They were on the thin side, but that's so they will handle better as a folded sandwich.

What the hell do you do with 16 big flatbreads and a family of 3?

The first one gets eaten straight off the griddle... shared with the pups, of course. Taste tester seems to be a hobby around here.

I made pizza for two days as lunch for my daughter and m'self. One round was just the right size for us to share with a side of fresh fruit. A light slather of tomato paste, a bit of thin sliced ham, some shredded spinach, italian spices, garlic, a dust of parmesan and some shredded jack = YUM!

Warm flatbread to dip into gravy with dinner the first night.

A turkey & veg sandwich for Mr. Man's lunch for two days.

One to give to a chum to test out.

Turkey & Bacon Flatbread Dagwoods for dinner on night two.

Ham & Cheese & Veg Foldover Sandwiches on night three.

....and that's all of them. 3 dinners and 2 lunches.

Cheap? Pshaw yeahhh

Milk = 20 cents
Egg =  8 cents
Oil = 15 cents
Flax = 40 cents
Sugar = 20 cents
Flour =  50 cents
Salt = 2 cents
Yeast = 67 cents

Total is $2.22 - however call it a simple $3. I prefer to round up as you can't always catch a good sale.

No preservatives. Better for you ingredients than store bought. More expensive than cheap white bread but less than packaged flatbread. Oh yeah, it tasted mighty fine as well. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Yam and Pineapple Breakfast Bread

I recently found myself in possession of a half dozen giant sized sweet potatoes. These suckers are about two fists big. Yeah. I've tried my hand at baked sweet potato fries a good dozen times and have never gotten them to cook properly. Around Thanksgiving, I buy one of these and make both candied sweet potatoes and a pie with it - more than enough for three adults and a child.  My brain got locked in a war between "WTF do I do with all these fonging yams??" and "Yams are a great source of vitamins - Hooray for fresh veg!"

Necessity breeds invention and all that, I guess. I ran to the Google and found a recipe for Yam Brownies.  *rant* Brownies have cocoa powder in them. Blondies do not. If you're gonna call something a brownie and that treat is lacking any form of chocolate, I'm gonna bust your balls over it. As a devoted Chocolate Whore, I say - tease the beast at your own peril.  *end rant*

The recipe I found was very sugar heavy. What good is it to use a vegetable to make a special something and then put SO much sugar in that you lose all the benefits? It's that Diet Coke and a Snickers lunch idea. They don't balance each other and you'll never convince me they do. (SO there! Pbbbth) 

This is what I came up with:

Yam and Pineapple Breakfast Bread

1 Huge Sweet Potato
1 can crushed Pineapple
1 tbsp Orange Juice Concentrate
1.5 tsp Almond Extract
 4 Large Eggs
1/2c ground Flax Seed
1 c All Purpose Flour
1 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 + 1/3 c Brown Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Allspice or Nutmeg
1 c Butter
1 tsp Salt
1.5 tsp Baking Powder

Peel and grate the yam. Use the small grater holes instead of the large ones if you can. It took me about 40 minutes to do one by hand. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the raw grated yam with the can of crushed pineapple and it's juice. Add the OJ concentrate, Almond extract, allspice and cinnamon. Fold it all together then stick it in the fridge.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the salt and baking powder, keep mixing. Add the flax, white flour and wheat flour. Mix until combined. Add the yam mixture and mix it some more. 

Spray grease a 13 x 9 baking pan and scrape the batter into it. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until it springs back lightly at the touch. 

Dust it with powdered sugar and cinnamon or hit it with some cream cheese frosting or eat it as is. 

Nom on, my friend. Nom on.