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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lazy Man's Red Beans and Rice

I once heard somewhere (Alton Brown's "Good Eats" show) that Red Beans of Rice was the perfect dish because it has all the vitamins and nutrients you need.  I just find it a warm and tasty comfort food.  Craving such I looked up a few recipes on how to make it.
Red Beans and Rice
This is my pinterest inspiration.  I really need to work on my food photography skills, my background lighting is atrocious.  Anyway, this is what I wanted to make, but after looking at a few recipes I decided that they were all long and complicated and cooking beans takes forever.  This is what I ended up making, the lazy man's version of red beans and rice.

Lazy Man's Red Beans and Rice

  • 1 can of Bush's Baked Beans or similar
  • 1 Sausage - sliced
  • 2 cups of Minute Rice
  • A handful of Green Onions - chopped
  • Heat a can of baked beans on the stove top.  In a separate pan heat up some sausage slices.  In a separate rice cooker make about 1 - 2 cups of rice.  At our house we love rice so I always make extra to snack on for later.  You can make this with pasta instead of rice Camilla.
Add the sausage to the baked beans and pour over a bowl of rice.  Garnish with some green onions for color and flavor.  I love all things onion.  For those Anime/Manga/Naruto fans out there that recognized the symbols on the bowls I was using, here they are without the food.  
J got them for me for Valentine's Day one year.  I always use Naruto (right) and J always gets Itachi (left).  I was crazy into Naruto a few years back.  Here I am in my cosplay Sakura costume with J on Halloween.  We went trick-or-treating.  I am currently reading "Bleach".  J has always been very supportive of my inner geek trends.  I was a closet nerd until I met him.
Lazy Man's Red Beans and Rice will now go on the list of favorite comfort foods that are easy to make.
Believe it!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Baklava Elephant Ears

Every once in a while my awesome job has a company pot luck BBQ.  They provide the meat (Spare Ribs this time) and there is a sign up sheet for side dishes in the lunch room.  I signed up for dessert.  It is sort of my thing right now.  Not always.  I brought drinks once.  I was craving Elephant Ears and Baklava so I combined them.  They went over very well as there were none left at the end of the day to take home with me.  But not to worry, J and I snacked on them fresh out of the oven before I brought them to work so they passed J's stringent Quality Control Parameters.  He is my expert Quality Assurance Manager.  They are not super sticky sweet as I am accustomed to making, but still really tasty and pretty easy to make.  The only hard part I think is waiting forever for the puff pastry to thaw before rolling it out and not burning them in the oven.

Baklava Elephant Ears

  • 1/2 Butter, melted
  • 2 Sheets of Puff Pastry, thawed
  • 1/4 cup or so of Cinnamon and Sugar.  I did not measure this.
  • Honey, again, not measuring it
  • 1/2 cup Almonds
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Pistachios
  • Roll out and butter the puff pastry.  I used both sheets and made two batches.  Sprinkle Cinnamon-Sugar.  Sprinkle food processed nuts.  Drizzle honey on top.  Roll it up.  Cut it in 1 inch slices.  Bake each side at 450 degrees for 5 - 6 min each.  Watch it.  They are easy to burn.  

Roll out the Puff Pastry and butter it up.
Food processor the Baklava nut trio:  Walnuts, Almonds, and Pistachios.
Sprinkle Cinnamon-Sugar on the buttered pastry.
Sprinkle half the nuts.  Save the other half for the next puff pastry sheet.
Drizzle honey over the nuts and roll it up starting at the two edges and roll towards the middle until the two ends touch.
Cut off one inch thick slices.
Set the slices on a parchment paper covered baking sheet.  Dab some more melted butter on top of the rolls.
Bake at 450 degrees for 6 minutes on one side, take them out of the oven and flip them over to bake for another 5 - 6 minutes on the other side.  I used tongs to flip them.
They taste good hot out of the oven and cooled down the next day.
T-Rex:  "I am best Dinosaur there is!"
Allosaurus:  "Oh ya, want to arm wrestle?"
Get it, cause Allosaurus has bigger front limbs than T-Rex and they were actually useful for tackling prey.  J made that one up.  Thought I would try it out on the blog.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tangled Birthday Cake

My sister asked me to make a Birthday cake for her baby girl, Illianna, who turned three this month.  She is currently into the movie "Tangled" and watches it all the time.
Here is my Tangled Birthday Cake.  A chocolate chocolate cake with fondant.

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Shortening
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 4 oz Unsweetened Chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups of Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 3/4 cup Buttermilk
  • Cream together sugar and shortening.  Add eggs, vanilla, and chocolate.  If the chocolate is still warm it seizes up and turns into chocolate chunks and is difficult to mix in.  Mix the dry ingredients together.  Mix water and buttermilk together.  Alternate adding dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with wet until it is all incorporated.  Bake 350 degrees for about 30 min.
  • Note:  Omit salt, baking soda, and baking powder if using 2 cups of Self Rising Flour instead.
She was so excited for her birthday cake.
She just wanted to pick at it so much.

Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 2 - 4 Tbs Whipping Cream
  • Whip together shortening, butter, and vanilla.  Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until incorporated.  Add Cocoa Powder and whipping cream until you get the right consistency.  In the center I sprinkled a few chocolate chips to give it a crunch.
Now to open presents.
I love taking pictures of people taking pictures.  I find it amusing.  She got a wooden block train.  Good luck ever putting that back together.
She has mastered the art of unwrapping at Christmas.  It was her favorite part.

Here is her daddy, Steve, putting together her new baby doll stroller.  Apparently she loved the last one to death.
Since they are expecting a new baby brother in April they decided to get Illianna a double baby doll stroller to get used to the idea of having two babies.
Two mini mouse dolls going for their first stroller ride.
So cute.  I am sure she will make an amazing big sister.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas

I heard somewhere, "Next Food Network Star", that every dish should have a story.  This personalizes the dish and makes the viewer more interested and connected to what you are preparing.  Typically these include some fond childhood memory or exciting travel experience.  This is my personal story connected to Chicken Enchiladas.  I had left over corn tortillas from taco night and needed to use them.   

Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast or strips
  • 1/2 Red Onion, diced
  • 1 Bell Pepper, diced
  • 2 gloves Garlic, diced
  • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shreded
  • 1 cup Pepperjack Cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbs Flour
  • Corn tortillas
  • Note:  For soft pliable tortillas coat each side lightly with cooking spray and bake on a sheet tray for about 5 minutes each at 300 degrees.  The tortillas can overlap.  Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  • Sour Cream
  • 1 can of Enchilada Sauce
  • Seasonings:  Salt, Pepper, Cumin
  • Season raw chicken with salt, pepper, and cumin then fry in some olive oil, a few minutes on each side, until cooked through.  Cut the chicken into small chunks after it is cooked and set aside.  In a separate pan saute onions, pepper, and garlic.  Add the chicken chunks to sauteed vegetables and add 1 cup of your mixed shredded cheeses.  Add 2 Tbs of flour and some more seasoning to taste.  The flour holds it together.  Add  about 1/4 cup enchilada sauce to a glass baking dish to coat the bottom of the dish.  Spoon chicken filling into tortillas and fold.  Set in a row in the dish.  Pour the rest of the Enchilada sauce on top and sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Top with a dollop of sour cream for garnish. Serve with rice.

One of the most significant Allosaurus finds was the 1991 discovery of "Big Al", a 95% complete, partially articulated specimen that measured about 26 ft in length excavated near Shell, Wyoming.  It is currently on display at the University of Wyoming.

Valentine's Day Cake Pops

Valentine's Day Cake Pops

Cake Pop Cake

  • 1 box Cake Mix
  • 1 box 3.9 oz Instant Pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable oil
  • Combine Cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, and vegetable oil.  Mix.  Bake 325 degrees 30+ min until done.  Cool pan 10 min.  Remove cake from pan and cool completely. It will be really moist.  
Cut off the sides of the cake if too crunchy, crumble cake with ½+ cup frosting until a dough ball forms.  Form into cake balls.  Refrigerate 2+ hours. I also smoothed out cake dough into a square tin to cut out hearts.  

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ cup butter – softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla or other flavorings
  • 2 Tbs heavy cream, milk, or water – Mix with beater
  • 1 Tbs Meringue Powder (optional)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar – Mix with a beater 1 cup at a time.
  • Add more heavy cream or powdered sugar for the right consistency you want

Chocolate Melts

Melt candy melts in microwave 30 sec at a time and stir until smooth.  Dip lollipop stick in chocolate and stick in cake ball then back to the freezer until they are set.  

Dipping the Sticks

Dip cake balls in candy melts, roll around until evenly coated, tap on side of bowl extra chocolate.  Set on wax paper or upright in holder. I use Styrofoam covered in tin foil.  Decorate and store in refrigerator until ready to be eaten.

Cutting out hearts with a cookie cutter.
Dipping hearts.
Heart shaped Cake Pops along with regular cake pops.
A Valentine's Day bouquet of Cake Pops.
The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry National Natural Landmark, located in The San Rafael Swell, near Cleveland, Utah, contains the largest collection of Allosaurus fossils ever found.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes you just need a cookie.  I have been feeling depressed for the past two weeks, probably because of all the snow we have been getting and my anxiety over driving in it.
Sometimes you just need fresh baked Chocolate Chip Cookies.  This is from my permanently barrowed Betty Crocker cookbook.  The one where if you drop the book it opens up to this page.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • Then add
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Mix that all together then add the dry ingredients
  • 1 and ½ cup flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 package (6 oz) chocolate chips.
  • Cream together butter, shortening, and sugars. Mix together dry ingredients and add chocolate chips. Bake at 375 for 8-10 min.

I am happy.
My husband is happy.
My Dalek Cookie Jar is happy. 
In case anyone was wondering his name is K-27 because J got him for my 27th birthday in a vicious to the death match snipe on e-bay.  He exterminates hunger.  He is wearing the Bowers Family Reunion team medal we won after a series of grueling sporting events.  Yeah, the pie eating contest was brutal.
My Takashi kitty is happy.