Friday, July 10, 2015

Food on Friday

Very cool, like, "Hey, is it fall?" weather rolled into Colorado this week.  Rain, fog, rain, temps barely into the 70's.  It was awesome.  I menu planned up a storm and cooked in my kitchen like it was winter.  

I had this Double Chocolate M and M Cookies planned a couple weeks ago and things got rearranged and then it just got too hot.  Finally, I just decided to do it and whipped these up.  They are good - but I mean come on, they're chocolate cookies.  They are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  I like the crunch of the M and M's and the soft sweet of the white chocolate chips.  These would be good with peanut butter candies subbed in.

Dinner on Monday was pretty much a disaster.  I don't burn food often (rarely actually), but when I do, I do it well.  My first tip-off should have been that I thought these Kansas City-Style Ribs were done in the slow and weren't.  I should have backed away then.  But I plunged ahead anyway.  The rub smelled amazing.  And the sauce got raves.  The break-down seems to have come at the grilling stage.  The initial indirect cooking went fabulously, then things went black.  Literally.  They were pretty much on fire; the fire was even blackening the house. . .I'm pretty sure this is never good.  A sorrier platter of food I've never seen.  What I managed to salvage had decent flavor - I never got the sauce on the ribs while they were on the grill, given that they were on fire, so the sauce was served on the side.  I imagine it would have been great baked on the ribs.  I'll give them another shot, but I'll have to be grill-side with a beer, and a hose.

Several years ago, St. Nick brought the family a mini donut baker.  When I pinned the Best Ever Baked Glazed Chocolate Donuts, I didn't even think about my baker.  It wasn't until I was reading through the recipe that I realized they were oven baked (apparently the word "baked" in the title wasn't the tip-off it should have been.)  So I mixed up the batch and pipped them into the baker, and I adjusted the temp down, given that they were mini's and were in a baker; six minutes is also the time given for the recipes that came with the baker, so I'm not the scientist/advanced baker it would seem.  They were good!  Really, really good.  Soft donut, crunchy glaze, and chocolaty - though, they could have used just a touch more chocolate taste.  A pinch of salt might rectify that, next time.

I've been looking for ways to use our fruits, besides jam, freezing and the occasional canning.  So this Homemade Strawberry Fruit Leather recipe seemed like something fun, especially since the blackberries are currently going nuts.  The recipe is simple enough, throw some strawberries in the Cuisinart and bake.  Really, really slowly.  For a long, long time.  I thought it might have cooked too long, and I had chips instead, but sitting overnight is was softer than when I took it out of the oven.  They are tart - nothing but strawberries folks - but good.  I didn't keep the recipe, because it's more technique than anything.  I would try it with different fruit.  The issue is the length of time the oven is on - over eight hours - even if it's on its lowest setting.  I'll try a couple other pins I have, and a recipe in a Pantry Cookbook just to see if there are differences.

I actually had to check out the blog post for this Crock-Pot Corn Casserole, I wasn't sure what it was supposed to be like.  I watched it constantly, was I overcooking it, was it under cooked.  I jiggled the pot looking for the middle to set.  It is supposed to be like a spoon bread, which is sort of soft and custard-y, so it turned out right.  The middle could have set up just a smidge more, but this went with the no-supposed-to-be blackened ribs on Monday, and we'd waited long enough.  It was good.  Creamy, lots of corn flavor and a touch of sweetness.  I may level back on the sugar just a bit next time.  I have a Seven Quart oval cooker, and they cooked for 3 hours (on high), and probably could have gone another 30 minutes.

I've made dump cakes.  They're super easy and fast and good!.  But I'm not sure I'd call this Caramel Apple Dump Cake a Dump Cake.  Don't get me wrong, it was awesome, but it wasn't so much dumping everything in and baking it - which is why it's called a "Dump" cake.  For this one, there's a bottom layer, then the fruit layer (which you have to carefully spoon on the first layer), then drizzle the caramel and then top with more batter.  It was more like a Crumble.  I couldn't for the life of me find Caramel Bits, so I just used 11 oz of those Brachs Caramels and melted them with the Evaporated Milk - worked like a charm.  In the future though I'll make a caramel sauce, like Pioneer Woman's - which is fast.  Bottle caramel sauce would work too, though I don't think you'd need the evaporated milk.

I don't cook with ground turkey much, especially for burgers, they can get too dry or they don't hold together.  I've found a mix of white and dark meats works much better than just white meat.  I was looking for something not chicken and not red meat when I scrolled passed this Turkey Burgers with Green Apple Slaw.  I baked up some hamburger buns (which I've totally got down now.)  These were really good.  I didn't have panko crumbs, so I just used regular bread crumbs (unseasoned.)  The burger were moist and flavorful.  The slaw was crunchy.  I didn't put on swiss cheese (I did the next day when I reheated a leftover), but my family's not all that jazzed about swiss - provolone or monterrey jack would work though.

It's summer, regardless of what our crazy cool weather makes you think, so I have lemons on hand.  Making Crispy Lemon Chicken Pasta didn't need much more that wasn't already in my pantry.  And it was fast.  I added two extra pieces of chicken, but kept the recipe as is.  The chicken was crispy, the sauce was creamy with just the right touch of tart lemon.  It got compliments, so it'll make a repeat appearance.

I was trying to remember if I've made a basic shredded beef before, and I don't think so.  If I'm shredding beef it's usually for French Dip.  I opted to make Saucy Southwest Shredded Beef because I had flour tortillas on hand and I figured I'd get at least two meals out of it.  Cutting up the roast is a good mental note, it cooked up faster and it made shredding easier - I just smashed the chunks of beef against the slow cooker and they fell apart.  It had decent flavor, sort of in a blank slate way.  I felt like it needed to have something added at the end to freshen it up.  Salt for sure.  I'm thinking maybe some chopped cilantro and then serve it with pico de gallo and avocado.  I put feta cheese out, and liked that.  I also put out chopped tomatoes, sour cream and lettuce.  I set a small portion of the leftovers in the fridge and the remainder (which was probably half of what the recipe made) in the freezer.  It'll be interesting to see if flavor changes/melds with sitting.

I've got shipping stuff to deal with this weekend and we have a new TV that needs a stand, since it won't fit where the current TV is - IKEA here I come!  Otherwise, I think the weekend should be much warmer and fairly quiet.

Happy Friday,

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