Cooking Notes – February 2012

To be updated throughout the month, as usual. I usually don’t mention sides, but some sort of vegetable or fruit goes with most meals.

Baking/Desserts

Almond Cookies – This recipe from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters was a huge hit and will definitely go on our favorites list. As an added bonus, it’s the simplest cookie recipe I’ve ever whipped up, with just a handful of ingredients. We liked them best warm.

Cheddar Cornbread –  I used The Joy of Cooking’s Northern Cornbread recipe with about 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar thrown in. The cheddar did a great job keeping it moist and non-crumby. Served with Mexican burracho beans.

Chocolate Chip Cookies These are from the basic Nestle’s recipe. I was a little short on vanilla extract, and had to substitute bitterwseet chips for half of the semi-sweet chips, but warm cookies with milk are warm cookies with milk.

Easy BarsAlso known as “Magic Cookie Bars”, these easy treats can be whipped up in five minutes, and never fail to please. At any rate, they certainly pleased the teenagers who scarfed an entire pan of them.

Artisan Bread – The usual recipe fromArtisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day- 3 loaves.

Main Meals/Sides

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches As mentioned in an earlier post, this recipe had mixed results. The au jus/dip was perfect, but the meat turned out extremely dry. That’s probably my fault for cooking it on high for 3 hours instead of on low for 8 hours. I’m willing to give this one another shot at some point given the high ratings it received from people who cooked it the proper way.

Buffalo Wings with Carrots and Dip – Carl decided he would take care of all meals on Saturday. Much as I like to cook, a day off was a great gift. This is a simple recipe: cook wings at 500 for 20 minutes, then toss in Buffalo sauce. He cut up carrots and mixed a sour-cream onion dip to go with it and we enjoyed a lazy Saturday evening watching Jeeves and Wooster together.

Burracho Beans with Cheddar Cornbread – A second attempt at slow cooker cooking. I soaked dried pinto beans overnight in beer and water, then started them in the crockpot Sunday morning for an easy dinner. This recipe (from a coworker) was a good base but needs a little work. It was a lifesaver on this weekend, though, since a car crashed into a telephone pole mid-afternoon, knocking out power to our neighborhood. The beans were already cooked at that point, so a cozy home dinner by the fire was assured, power or no power.

Spinach Pastry – A big hit that’s going in the keeper files. I made this one up based on a few spinach recipes found on epicurious, and wrote up the recipe for future reference.  It wasn’t properly spanikopita or any other dish, but it was good.

Omellette – Always a safe bet for a fast hospital call night dinner. Bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, and cheddar this time.

Tomato & Avocado Salad I don’t normally list lunches, but I’ve eaten this one three or four times in the last week. The avocado makes it very filling. Peel and cube an avocado. Quarter a handful of grape tomatoes (sweeter than regular tomatoes). Toss everything in a bowl, sprinkle with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then stir together with about a rounded teaspoon of mayonnaise. We’re hooked on olive oil mayonaise lately. With a piece of fruit or a few carrots it’s a filling and tasty meal.

Balsamic Chicken – High hopes for this recipe were dashed, so I’m not linking to it. I like strong flavors, I like balsamic vinegar, and the ingredients looked very promising, but this was just overwhelming – like gulping vinegar. I converted a crockpot recipe to a stovetop-to-oven  recipe, which may have prevented some of the vinegar taste from cooking off. Carl got home from the hospital at 10:00 that night, so on the bright side any food at all seemed amazing to him after his long wait for supper.

Indian Potatoes with Black Bean, Tomato, and Avocado Salad By “Indian Potatoes” I really mean “Carl was stuck at the hospital until 10:00 and nothing’s ready for dinner, oh look! potatoes…sliced thin, fried with curry, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of garlic powder.” I love potatoes. Simple. Easy. Filling. Delicious. Inexpensive. For the side I just made the Tomato & Avocado Salad listed above, with a can of drained and rinsed black beans from the cupboard mixed in.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo with White Rice Another oddly timed late-night dinner after hospital call, and I wasn’t feeling well. When I make big pots of soup I always freeze a couple meals worth in the freezer for just such emergencies. This gumbo I made in the fall reheats nicely, though it’s slightly less spicy after being frozen. That makes Carl very happy, and me a little dissapointed.

Spinach Pastry A second time in two weeks, this time around as we hit the Lenten vegetarian cycle.

Ravioli with Spicy Tomato Sauce – Frozen ravioli from Aldi, tomato sauce following a modified version of the tomato sauce in the Pioneer Woman’s lasagna. Repeated a week later with Ravioli with Pesto .

Cabbage, Carrot and Bacon Cheddar Soup – An old favorite  my mother used to make in winter. Some time I might get around to posting the recipe. Served with fresh homemade bread. A perfect “meat as a seasoning vs. a centerpiece” dish.

Pork Lo Mein – From an online recipe, but I saved the link on the other computer – oops. It was good, though too salty even with low-sodium soy sauce and chicken broth. We both thought the recipe was a great base though. Another “meat as a seasoning” dish.

Leek and Potato Soup An incredibly easy and tasty vegetarian meal from Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Who knew five ingredients could taste so good? Served with fresh bread and salad.

London Broil with Sauce Chasseur – A favorite French dish from The Sixty Minute Gourmet. I love making London Broil because a) it goes on sale frequently at our grocery store for $1.99 or so a pound, and b) it’s highly versatile and goes a long way. Served with fresh bread and a salad.

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