Tuesday, March 27, 2012

So Kool or Not Kool? Braised Short Ribs

So Kool or Not Kool?  Maybe Kool
Picky Eater's Opinion?  Kool
Will this Make the Future Chef's Menu?  To be determined

We do not eat a ton of red meat in our house... for two reasons... the healthy factor and the cost factor.  We got our ribs at the Dekalb County Farmer's Market and the ribs alone were $24.  Throw in some prosciutto for $3, some fresh herbs for $3, some carrots, shallots, and onions and this was a very expensive meal.  Cooking a meal that is expensive stresses me out from the get go.  I am not a great chef and I hate to be wasteful with money, so that puts the pressure on.  I cooked up the prosciutto and tasted it because this is the first time I have ever done anything with it... that was very tasty.  At this point, I was the only one in the house, so I enjoyed this little treat without little hands grabbing for it.
 I did somehow, skip a step in the directions in that I forgot to double dip the ribs in flour before I cooked them.  That may have improved the outcome had I actually followed directions (now you see why I get stressed when cooking with expensive ingredients).
 Cooking the celery, onions and shallots (again... a first for me).
 Adding some red wine and broth... yummy...
 And adding the fresh rosemary (not sure why mine looks white here).  I added thyme, but I did have to go back and remove the dill that I accidentally added that you see in this photo... 
 I let them cook for the appropriate amount of time and they were very tender and they were good, but I wouldn't describe them as great.  The other issue I had with this recipe is that it took FOREVER for the whole thing to come together between the prep work and the cooking time and I just don't have that kind of time during the dinner hour in my house... 
The sweet face that I got to see when they got home from the gym (after he had gotten into the blueberries).  He would DEFINITELY not eat any of the ribs because he is a vegetarian...the only one in our family :)

So Kool or Not Kool? Breakfast Burritos

So Kool or Not Kool?  Not Kool
Picky Eater's Opinion?  Not Kool
Will this make the Future Chef's Menu?  Probably Not

As I have mentioned before, I LOVE Breakfast food.  I was super excited about this recipe for that reason and also, because it is the recipe that I picked.  I say I picked it, but I really let my husband choose the recipe.  We stuck to the recipe on this one, to include making the potatoes that she suggested.  I left my sweet husband in charge of the potatoes and he may have cooked them a little to much, but it may have been better to use frozen hashbrowns instead.  Oh well, we won't know because I doubt we will make them again.  It's not that they were terrible, in fact, we ate all of the leftovers because I HATE to waste food.  It is just that they didn't have the flavor that I thought/hoped they would have. 

We used both sweet and mildly spicy sausage.  It may have been better if we only used the mild sausage.
All of the eggs in the recipe.  I thought they looked neat in the bowl like that. 
Adding some chives and cheese to the eggs.
Finally, adding the egg mixture to the potatoes and sausage
We have LOVED almost every single one of her recipes, so as I said... I was just disappointed.  :( 

#69 Find 10 Geocache Hides

We had a great weekend in South Carolina attending a friend's wedding. We also were able to camp at Myrtle Beach and find 10 geocaches :-). The weather was perfect and all of the boys really enjoyed it… Even Hunter was able to find a few :-)  For those of you that are not familiar with Geocaching, it is essentially a treasure hunt where you are given the latitude and longitude coordinates of the hidden treasure and you use a GPS device to be able to locate the treasure.  There is a log book inside each of them that you sign.  Some of them have trinkets in them that you switch out for something you brought.  If you are interested in trying it, the website is http://www.geocaching.com/.
Here are the links that we found...
1.  The Root of the Matter
2.  Palmetto Pride
3.  I85- Exit 177- Old Log
4.  The Road Ends
5.  Up, Up, and Away
6.  Myrtle Beach State Park
7.  Welcome to MBSP
8.  Lake Hartwell State Recreation Area
9.  Lake Hartwell State Park
10.  Southern Pine Beetles

Monday, March 12, 2012

#19 Finish 2011 Block of the Month Quilt

As I stated in a previous post, I am EXCELLENT at starting quilting projects, but not great at finishing them.  When I started this list of 101 Things in 1001 Days, I had 3 Block of the Month Quilts to finish (plus, I'm doing one in 2012) and I have another major quilting project on the table, so to speak.  Anyhow, today I finished the 2011 Block of the Month quilt.  I am more pleased with it than I was when I added the pink in between the blocks, but I really wished I had picked the dark green to put in between the individual blocks.  Oh well, what can you do at this point?  Nothing :(  Here are the pictures of the whole quilt and then the top and bottom in a little bit more detail. 

#49 Visit 3 Restaurants Featured in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

We all enjoy the show "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" on the Food Network that is hosted by Guy Fieri.  JMS got one of the cookbooks for Christmas and we have the App on our phones, so we have been dying to try a few of these.  We had a crazy day that started off taking JMS to his cooking class, running to the Farmer's Market, then taking the boys to a picnic and the zoo, and finishing off with dinner at our first DDD restaurant. 

#1  This was The Colonnade Restaurant, located off Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta.  This restaurant has been around for 80 years and is famous for their Fried Chicken.  David, JMS, and myself all got different entrees with two different side items for the two little ones to share.  It was MORE than enough food.  Although, David and I are still trying to figure out what it is classified as... our best guess is a diner (although... not what I think of when I think of a diner)
All my boys!!!
JMS outside the other entrance
The sign inside the entry
David and HAS waiting on all of our Southern Fried Food!

#48 Sign Jimmy up for a Cooking Class

As I have mentioned before, JMS loves to cook.  LOVES. IT!!! (which is even more awesome, considering I am not a huge fan :) )  As much as JMS loves to cook, I LOVE a good bargain.  Two weeks ago, there was a deal on the website SweetJack (similar to Groupon) for a Kid's Cooking Class for 50% off.... ahhhhh... all is right in the world.  I snagged one right away (and now wished I had purchased more).  We printed off their menu and let JMS pick which week he wanted to go based on the recipe they were making.  He chose this past Saturday where they were making J Lo's Enchiladas to Go and Gordan Ramsey's Hot Chocolate Fondant.  I was not sure if it would be too basic for him or not considering he spends a lot of time in the kitchen and there are already several things that he knows how to do.  He LOVED it and I am so thrilled we gave him a chance to do it.  I just wish there was one closer to our house, because I may have signed him up for summer camp there... but 30 miles to too far to drive one way in Atlanta traffic :( 
Getting Ready to Get our Cook on!!!
The Kitchen at Young Chef's Academy
Our Handsome chef with his Apron On!!!
Enjoying the Toils of his hard work

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kool or Not Kool? Simple, Perfect Chili

Kool or Not Kool?  Very Kool (but spicy)
Picky Eater's Opinion?  Good, not his favorite
Will this be on the Future Chef's Menu?  Definitely... a 10 out of 10 (I told you... he will eat ANYTHING)

The title of this recipe sums it up perfectly.  I only took one picture of this and it was because we were running VERY late for dinner.
I did not use the entire 2 pounds of ground beef.  We used 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of soy meat.  We eat meat, but we are trying to reduce the amount of meat in our diet (Picky Eater doesn't know that is what we are trying to do, but it is... :) )  I couldn't taste the difference and with all of the spices, this was very good.  I like my chili and soups with a little bit of liquid.  So, after the tomato sauce, I added about a cup of V8 juice (which I always use instead of tomato juice) and a half a cup of water.  We let it simmer for about 45 minutes (see time crunch mentioned above).  We eat almost religiously at 5:30 because my two youngest are asleep by 6:30.  I remember eating chili as a young girl with buttered bread.  I have not been able to replicate that recipe the way my head remembers the recipe, but this recipe is EXCELLENT and ridiculously easy.  We added kidney beans and the rotel, but left out the Cayenne Pepper (because we didn't have any).  We will definitely make this again and in bigger batches so that I can freeze some of it to pull out and use later.  I love making soup in the winter and freezing 3 - 4 batches from the recipe to have at a later date when I don't feel like cooking.  Simple.Perfect.Chili.

There is a First time for Everything

Every night, HAS wakes up sometime between 1 AM and 5 AM and drags his pillow, both blankets, hippo and his dog and then curls up on the floor beside David's side of the bed.  But, he has never been in our bed...  until... LAST NIGHT... 

I had been downstairs working on the computer before David got home.  I went upstairs... and he hadn't brought his blankets, pillow, and animals... just himself... and he climbed into our bed... and fell asleep. 

Soap Box Derby

JMS joined Cub Scouts this year and has loved every minute of it.  We have enjoyed watching him grow and mature as he has been a part of this.  This past weekend he participated in his first Soap Box Derby.  He didn't place well, but it was our first time to do it and we enjoyed going to watch the races.  The little 2 enjoyed watching the cars race as well. 

In this last picture, JMS's car was the boat on the left hand side.  Our design was clearly not aerodynamically wonderful, but it was the design he wanted, so we went with it. 

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Growing up (and even still today), I LOVE competition.  I Love to play games and I hate to lose, but more than that, I love the thrill that comes with knowing you are about to win or lose.  I just love it.  I am a graceful loser, but I hate to be the one on the losing end.  I remember playing Hi Ho Cheerio with my grandmother (who passed away when I was 19 years old).  She never told us no when we wanted to play games and she would play with us for hours on end.  Recently, at the consignment sale, I found a copy of this game that was in great shape, so I brought it to play with HAS.  (LPS is still a little young, although he gives it a good try).  It makes my math heart smile when he says things like "Mommy, you had two cherries in your basket.  You have to take off two more, so now you have four."  I can't put that smile into words.  So, it is with great nostalgia that I post these photos and a with a happy heart that I remember and miss my grandmother every single day.  (That feeling has magnified since I became a mother myself... I would love for her to have met my kids... but even more, for them to have known her).
My mom retired last year and my boys have had a lot of opportunity to have her stay at our house for a week at a time, every couple of months.  There are no words to describe how much it warms my heart to watch my mom play game after game with all of the boys.  HAS especially, loves his games and always asks mom, "GiGi... when are we going to play Candyland and Memory"

So Kool or Not Kool? Penne a La Betsy

So Kool or Not Kool?  So Kool
Picky Eater's Opinion?  Kool
Will this be on the Future Chef's Menu?   Most likely (Don't get me wrong, JMS will make and eat just about anything... I LOVE to cook for him or with him).

I Love anything pasta.  I love a tomato cream sauce.  I love shrimp.  That made this recipe a winner for me before we even started.  In addition, this one made it to our top 10 of recipes to choose for the month.  (This was a good month for me recipe wise because I got to choose one recipe and 2 of my other top 10 were also chosen by fellow Cooking Club Members). 

I followed this recipe almost exactly...  Melt butter and add shrimp.  Cook through and then put on a plate until later. 
Normally, in our house, the "bewitching" hours are between 4 - 6 PM so cooking dinner is my side show to referring the fight between the two youngest!  Today, however, I was blessed because they were playing nicely together while they put a train puzzle together.  This made my day!!!
Now... More butter to brown garlic and onions.  I have a ton of minced garlic that I bought on clearance coupled with the fact that I do not have a garlic press (as of yet) to mince my own garlic, so we did use minced garlic instead of mincing our own.  Now, when my dad is cooking, he would tell you, "You can never have too much garlic or onion," so this probably wouldn't have been enough for him, but it was definitely the perfect amount for my family. 
Once browned, we added the wine, tomato sauce and the heavy cream.  Before I joined Sweet as Pie, I rarely cooked with cream, but since Pioneer Woman uses it a lot, I have found that we are using it more and more.  I love how food tastes with cream cooked into it.  None of us are coffee drinkers, so we NEVER have it on hand, so that is something I am still getting used to. 
 Throw the shrimp back in...
 And then the pasta... Stir until your heart is content and then Yum it up!!!
Overall, this recipe was a hit and I will definitely make it again.  We did add fresh parsley, but left out the basil.  I thought I forgot to buy it, but I didn't... I found it in the fridge later... I HATE it when that happens.

So Kool or Not Kool? Chicken Pot Pie

So Kool or Not Kool?  Sooooooooooooo Kool
Picky Eater's Opinion?  Very Kool, but could have used a little more spice
Will this make the Future Chef's Menu?  DEFINITELY... a 9 out of 10

I was so excited to try this recipe.  In addition, this is a recipe that made it down to our final 3 when choosing our recipe.  So, even though we didn't select it... I was SUPER thrilled that it was on the menu, because I was going to try it anyway.  I love pot pies.  I lived in New Zealand when I was younger and when we walked to school, we would stop and order a minced meat pie for lunch.  During lunch, we would walk up to the local store and pick it up and walk back to school and it would be piping hot.  This began my love fest with pot pies.  I have made chicken pot pies a few times before, but I have never made my own crust and I have often used refrigerated pie crust, biscuit dough, or Bisquick.  This is the first time I made my own pie crust for pot pie and not for actual pie.  I will start by saying I loved her pie recipe.  She said it was beautiful and flaky and she was 100% dead on.  Oh. My. Gosh! So. Good!!!!!  (Totally unhealthy, but oh so delicious!)

I clearly still have some work to do on my crust...  I didn't roll it thin enough, but my edges don't look terrible.  Still some improvement to go, but an improvement over my quiche.
I was fortunate enough to have 2 sous chefs.  David helped with the carrots and celery, JMS did the onions.  I'm not a fan of dicing vegetables, so I was glad to have the help :)
 Melting Butter (We have definitely had practice with this :) )
 Our cutting board with vegetables...
 Adding the flour to thicken it up...
 Then adding the chicken broth and cream (one of my new favorite ingredients).
 I have made chicken pot pies both with a "lid" and without a "lid", so I read this incorrectly when I first read it and thought I didn't need a lid.  I had separated the crusts like she said and the other one was already starting to freeze in the freezer.  Anyhow, long story short... my top looks awful because it had to be pieced together...  but the crust was EXCELLENT and tasted FABULOUS.  We will definitely be making this again... probably sooner rather than later.