Sunday, May 24, 2009

Another totally unfood related post...

My husband and I are in the process of looking for our first house. It sounds pretty straight forward but that's where you'd be mistaken. We are planning on living in this house for at least five years, more like seven or eight. We are also planning on starting a family in the next four or five years. So whatever house we buy is the house that our baby is going to learn to walk, the street we live on is where they will learn to ride a bike and the area we are located in will determine where they go to kindergarten. Talk about a lot of pressure for a first home! I keep finding these wonderful looking houses and then I will go to and learn that six or seven convicted child predators live around the corner. When I manage to find a great house not near any perverts it's something insane like half a million dollars for a bungalow. We found a house that appears to be perfect as far as location, price and quality go and we are scheduled to do a walk through with the real estate agent on Tuesday. I really really hope this goes well and that it looks the same in person as it does on the internet! We are so ready to be home owners!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Home Alone

I am such a chicken. I think growing up in the country you always hear about shootings, muggings, robbery and rape happening in cities and you sort of internalize it. Now that I am living in a city I am majorly paranoid. Not that bad things don't happen in the country but it does seem that way. My husband is out of town and I am home alone. I have my two dogs and three handguns and live in a gated community and I still am a little nervous. Actually I was doing really well until I leashed up the dogs to go on their last walk of the day. I always check the peep hole just to make sure no one is standing in front of my door (I told you I was paranoid). Tonight when I checked it I couldn't see anything. It was totally black. I looked again and again and still just blackness. I finally realized that the light in my hallway is dead (presumably it is just burnt out but who knows? Someone could have tampered with it). So I would have to walk out into pitch blackness and then turn and go out to the backyard where there would be a light. Never in the eight months that I have lived here has that light EVER been out and I find it creepy that the night I am alone the hallway is nothing but darkness. I called my mom and told her the scenario. A former New Yorker she immediately said to unleash the dogs, take up their water bowl and set my alarm for really early tomorrow. Under no circumstances was I to go outside. I know it is probably just a burnt out light but I am a pretty slender girl and I don't fool myself to think I could physically fight off someone if they grabbed me. I know it is such a gender stereotype to rely on your man to protect you but I do feel safer when he is here. Sorry that this is completely and utterly unfood related but I just had to vent!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Today for some reason I could not stop thinking about cake. I looked online and it seemed like every recipe I found called for some ingredient that I didn't have and I really didn't feel like going shopping just to make cake so I kept looking and finally found a great recipe over at Pioneer Woman's blog. I absolutely adore her blog. It isn't just the food she makes (which by the way is awesome) it's the fact that she chronicles her daily life on a working cattle ranch in Oklahoma. I grew up on a dairy farm and so much of what she writes about makes me remember my childhood. When I watch her video clips and hear the cows mooing it makes me so homesick! I told my husband that I wanted our kids to grow up on a big farm like I did. The problem is well...he isn't a farmer bless his heart. While I was bottle feeding calves and playing in manure covered fields and splashing in a muddy creek, my dear hubbie was hitting the slopes in Colorado and snorkeling in the Bahamas. Maybe someday he'll have an overpowering urge to move to the middle of nowhere and raise some cows but for now I guess I will have to live vicareously through the Pioneer Woman. Her kids by the way make me want to have a baby SO much. I swear her little boy's blue eyes are enough to make you swoon.

But back to cake! Her recipe appeared to be just what the doctor ordered. It was easy, quick and the best part - it doesn't require a stand mixer. I have a fabulous KitchenAid mixer that I got as a wedding present but since our kitchen it so tiny I don't have room to leave it out on the counter like I would like to do. Instead it is sitting on a shelf in our pantry. This sucker weighs like fifty pounds and every time I want to use it I groan at the thought of lifting it and carrying it to the counter. So here is her recipe I hope you all will try it soon!

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever.
by Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond)

1. 2 cups flour
2. 2 cups sugar
3. 1/4 tsp. salt
4. 2 sticks butter
5. 4 heaping tbsps. cocoa
6. 1 cup boiling water
7. 1/2 cup buttermilk
8. 2 eggs
9. 1 tsp. vanilla

1. Combine in a mixing bowl: 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt
2. In a saucepan, melt: 2 sticks butter
I realized after the fact that she said to use regular butter (not unsalted) but I used unsalted and it turned out fine.
3. Add 4 heaping tablespoons cocoa. Stir together. Add 1 cup boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat.
4. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.
5. In measuring cup, pour 1/2 cup buttermilk
(I didn't have buttermilk but thankfully she had a nifty trick for taking care of that! You measure out slightly less than 1/2 cup of milk and then pour vinegar until it rises up the 1/2 way mark.)
6. Add: 2 beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla.
7. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture.
8. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes

Monday, March 16, 2009


There is nothing quiet like waking up and smelling sausage cooking. It will make even the most confirmed non-morning person (i.e. me) bolt out of bed at sunrise and run to the kitchen. Of course if you are anything like me, once you are fully stuffed with all of that deliciousness you will probably go back to bed to sleep in a food induced coma. Sausage with biscuits and gravy is so unbelievably easy. I always am surprised by people who say they can't cook. Cooking is not hard! Or at least not the cooking I do, haha. Some of the best advise I have ever read in regard to cooking was from Ina Garten. She said something to the effect of, "if something goes wrong in the kitchen and you can fix it then by all means do. If you can't fix it then don't worry about it. You can always order Chinese."

Sausage with Biscuits and Gravy

1. 1 pd. of sausage
2. 1 tube of biscuits
3. AP flour
4. salt and pepper

1. Take your pound of sausage (I like to use hot sausage but whatever floats your boat is fine) shape the sauge into circles slightly smaller than the size of your palm.
2. Place the sausage in a skillet on medium high heat and let it start cooking.
3. In the meantime get out your tube of biscuits. If you are feeling particularly adventurous then by all means make them from scratch.
4. You can cook the biscuits on either a sheet pan or in a cast iron skillet - again it doesn't really matter it just depends on what you have on hand and what you want to use.
5. Cook the biscuits based on the package instructions.
6. Keep an eye on the sausage and flip it when needed. I like mine to get almost charred. When the sausage is completely cooked through remove it to a paper towel and cover with tinfoil to keep warm.
7. Some sausage releases a lot of grease during the cooking process and some doesn't. If the pan you cooked the sausage in is swimming with grease then remove a couple of spoonfuls. Usually with the sausage I make though there is hardly any grease in the pan - I actually end up having to add a little bit of canola oil.
8. Take a couple of tbsps of AP flour and on medium low heat add the flour to the empty pan. Use a whisk to combine the flour with the grease.
9. Pour some milk into the pan. I never measure I just eyeball it but I would say start with about a cup and see if you need more from there. Whisk the milk with the flour/grease mixture and see if the texture is right. You have probably had biscuits and gravy before so you know what you are aiming for. The mixture should be pourable but not runny. Like cornbread it's almost impossible to ruin because if it gets too watery add more flour and if it gets too thick add more milk. Let it cook for about ten to fifteen minutes. You just want to make sure the raw flavor of the flour is cooked out.
10. Salt and pepper to taste. It will need quiet a bit of both. Despite the sausage drippings, white gravy doesn't have a ton of flavor by itself. It'll need some doctoring.
11. Take one (or two or three) of your biscuits that should be done by now and split them open. Pour the gravy on top and place a piece of sausage on the side (if you want to eat it like I do!) and stuff yourself like crazy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

P.F. Chang's

Eating out can by very hard if you are trying to stick to a diet. Before my wedding I underwent a brutal six month period of dieting and excercise...I hated it. One of my saving graces was P.F. Chang's Hot and Sour Soup. It is out of this world good and get this - it only has 89 calories. You heard me right -89 calories. That's less than a can of coke. And what you get for those calories is a hot scrumptous stick to your ribs soup. I have never been wild about tofu but I gobble it up in this soup. Another great thing about this soup is that it's cheap. I think 3 dollars and change. Just try it you won't be dissapointed!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Confessions of a Southern Belle

I have a confession to make. I have never made fried chicken before. Considering fried chicken is all but it's own food group in the south I am sure this comes as shocking news. My dad was coming to town for an appointment and I really wanted to impress him with a delicious old fashioned lunch (or dinner as it is called here in the south). One of his favorite meals is stewed potatoes with cornbread and fried chicken. I have a ton of buttermilk left over from the Cheesy Sausage and Egg Quiche I made a week ago and figured the fried chicken would be a great way to use it up. My mom who I consider the best cook in the world has never made her fried chicken with buttermilk so I was venturing into unknown territory. Ina Garten came to my rescue. She is one of my very favorite Food Network chef's AND she makes her fried chicken with buttermilk! Now this meal is definitely not for someone who is watching their figure. The stewed potatoes have lots of butter and milk and the fried chicken is well....fried (and lathered in buttermilk to boot). But my advice is to just go for it! Everyone needs to indulge from time to time. So channel your own inner southern belle and make this meal soon!

Fried Chicken
from Ina Garten

1. 2 chickens (3 pounds each), cut in 8 serving pieces
2. 1 quart buttermilk
3. 2 cups all-purpose flour
4. 1 tablespoon kosher salt
5. 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
6. Vegetable oil or vegetable shortening

1. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and coat each piece thoroughly with the flour mixture.

4. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1-inch and heat to 360 degrees F on a thermometer.
5. Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until the coating is a light golden brown (it will continue to brown in the oven). Don't crowd the pieces.

6. Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow the oil to return to 360 degrees F before frying the next batch.
7. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Perfect Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a delicious, healthy and inexpensive dish that is very easy to prepare and always goes quicky at parties. I make this all the time in the summer to carry to potlucks and get togethers. I hope you all love it as much as we do!

Pasta Salad

1. 1 pd. tri colored rotini pasta
2. 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
3. black olives (pitted and drained)
4. Italian dressing
5. 1 red, green or yellow bell pepper

1. Boil the pasta
2. In a large bowl add: the can of black olives, the tomatoes which have been rinsed and sliced in half, 1 bell pepper finely diced
3. Once the pasta is done cooking drain and run cold water over it to stop the cooking process and to cool the pasta down.
4. Add the pasta to the bowl with the olives, tomatoes, and bell pepper.
5. I always make my own Italian dressing (simply follow the directions on the back of an Italian Dressing Seasoning packet) but feel free to purchase a bottle if you don't want to do that.
6. Drizzle a fair amount of the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
7. Serve with the Italian dressing by the side of the bowl so that people can add more if they want to. For some reason no matter how much you add to the bowl it always seems to need more on your plate.

This salad is very easily adaptable to your own taste. My mom likes to dice half a red onion and put it in hers. Every now and then I will add some fresh broccoli to mine.