Monthly Archives: March 2011

Change Can Be Good, Scary but Good

I got my hair cut and colored, I’ve never been anything but a blonde, but it was time for a change. I’m still getting used to it but for now I like it.

March has been a month of fervent cooking and change. Slowly I am starting to dig out of the sad-girl hole I’ve been hanging out in. I still have my days which I am sure is normal but I think I am moving in the right direction. I have not sewn a quilt or built anything. Today this 31st day of March I finally purchased the unManual, in hopes of improving my photography skills.

In a little more than a month I will be walking across the Tijuana border with 11 strangers (strangers is probably the wrong word because I’ve met them. I just don’t know them well yet) with 11 people who have a passion, who have taken vacation days and saved money with the mission to help other people (there that sounds better).

My cooking adventures have included: chicken creole take 2, herb foccacia bread, fudge, pita bread, beef stroganoff, potato latkes, stir fry vegetables, twice baked potatoes, tilapia with mustard chive sauce and granola.  Not all of them have been blog worthy recipes, or I don’t think the recipe has been tested enough to post. Looking at this list it’s no wonder I have not sewn or built anything I’ve been hanging out in the kitchen all month.

Onwards to April.

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nuff said.

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What’s Cookin’: Potato Latkes

Food memories are funny. I can remember the first time I had water chestnuts, red velvet cake and potato latkes.

When I was in grade-school a classmate’s mother came in and made potato latkes for our class as part of our lesson on Hanukkah.

(I wonder if they still teach about religious holiday in school these days?)

I digress. I remember sitting on the floor as she fried up these delicious potato confections. I think that was the first and last time I ever ate one but I remember it being wonderful. So when I came across a recipe on A Couple Cooks I knew I had to try it even if it is March and not at all close to Hanukkah. Looking at the recipe it is clear why I remember this food experience as an elementary student, it has three of my favorite ingredients ever potatoes, onions, and garlic. I did have to go buy a grater for this recipe but I consider it an investment in my new hobby.

A word of warning, do not try and watch TV while you grate potatoes or onions. In fact don’t try to do anything else while using a grater…skinned knuckles and chipped nails can quickly become cooking casualties.

I served these as a side dish to some spinach stuffed chicken, made by my baby sister (she may be better at cooking than me…yes she is 17, however her cooking gene was enacted long ago)

Potato Latkes
Source : A Couple Cooks

Makes about 12

What You Need
4 large potatoes
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 egg
1/4 – 1/2 cups flour
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Neutral frying oil

 

 

What To Do

1 Heat about 1/2 inch of your favorite frying oil in a skillet (or two for efficiency) over medium-high heat.

2 Wash and dry 4 large potatoes. Using a food processor or box grater, grate the potatoes (skins on) and place in a large bowl.

3 Grate 1 onion and add it to the bowl of potatoes. Mince 1 clove garlic and add it to to bowl. Add about 2 teaspoons kosher salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper.

4 Using your hands, gently combine the ingredients in the bowl using a folding motion. Don’t over work them. Add 1 egg and flour (about 1/4 cup, maybe more if you used the food processor). You want the materials to hold together but not be doughy.

5 The oil is ready when it sizzles at the addition of a piece of potato. When it is ready, drop medium size clumps of the potato mixture into the oil. Don’t crowd them — we did 4 at a time in a large skillet.

6 Fry for several minutes on each side until browned, flipping only once. You are looking for a nice crispy brown. Place the finished latkes on a plate covered with a paper towel to remove excess oil, and transfer to a low oven to keep warm until serving.

7 Serve warm with sour cream and homemade applesauce. Enjoy! ( I didn’t do this part since we used them as a side dish)

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Five is the Magic Number

Tijuana will be my 5th mission trip. I expect something wholly different out of this experience. This journey will be part healing, part passion, and part relationship building … at least that is what I’m thinking.

I began taking mission trips when I was in 6th grade. Young right? My first trip was to Tennessee with my youth group, trips to Minnesota and New York followed. These trips mostly consisted of helping with Vacation Bible School and doing odds and ends around the community. All my friends went and that was all the reason I needed to sign up.

In between my freshman and sophomore year of college I went to Alaska for a mission trip with my Dad.

I was the youngest woman in attendance.

It felt different than my other trips, real and connected.

The men in the group helped build a new dormitory at Alaska Christian College and the women organized and took inventory of the library. For a week I swam in the beauty that is Alaska and was really able to appreciate a true adult mission trip experience.

Plans for Tijuana are slowly unfolding and it’s exciting.

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What’s Cookin’ : Chicken Creole Edition

I’m adding a new series to this blog in addition to Happy Sunday (which has not always been timely) I’m adding a what’s cookin’ tag. Since my goals for 2011 have pushed me to cook more and I’m lovin’ it I will share my successful recipes. So we’ll begin with Chicken Creole.

I’ve made Chicken Creole twice now and after my second shot I think I have the recipe where I want it. The first time I made it it was a little dry. My Mom told me that my Grandmother had a chicken creole recipe that included a can of spicy v8 so I took that and added it. This got the recipe to more of a stew, just how I wanted it and it’s yummy over white rice.

The first time I shopped for these ingredients I thought creole seasoning may be hard to find in Indiana, but I found this at my local grocery store and it’s fantastic.

Be advised it’s spicy! Oh and I only used two chicken breasts because the frozen chicken breasts from Trader Joes are HUGE but it was plenty to feed me, my brother, my dad(2 servings) and I had leftovers!

Use your own judgment for garlic and the red pepper flakes (I just did a quick sprinkle) .

I am becoming notorious for adding tablespoons of garlic to most recipes, much more than called for but I love it.

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I cooked my weekend away.

cooking never really appealed to me prior to this year. I much preferred to snack on microwave popcorn and a cheese stick for dinner or sometimes make the occasional panini.

After this weekend I think I can say the tides are turning.

I made chicken creole on Friday. (perfected recipe to be posted soon)

Made Blueberry crisp on Saturday morning.
Made a loaf of herb foccacia bread Saturday afternoon.

Cooked waffles on Sunday to freeze and bring to work for a quick breakfast.

I rounded out my weekend making home-made pita bread last night ( I don’t really like pita bread all that much but I had a wild idea of making pita chips and thought why buy pitas when I can make them) .

I’m exhausted, not to mention now I have all this food in my apartment. Sometimes I forget that I live alone.

I have made friends with my bread machine for the time being. I think the trick is it just use the dough cycle, allowing the bread to cook in the machine has not ended well for me.

the cooking re-commences tonight with pita chips and that may be all I eat for dinner because sometimes we revert back to old habits.

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what can you get for $7?!

I’ve been bitter about this tax business. I’ve seen my pay-stubs and seen how much has been taken out and it makes me sad or makes me think of all the fabulous fun I could have if I didn’t have to give uncle sam his due. As part of the adult working world I thought ok, it’s fine I’ll get some back come tax season.

And then uncle sam slapped my hands because apparently I don’t know how to fill out my paper-work correctly and selected the wrong single status. So the nice return I thought I would get turned out to only be about $7. I should be thankful that I didn’t owe more and that my return from the good ol’ state of Indiana covered most of what I owed to the Federal govt.

But seriously $7. What can you do with $7? That will not cover a movie, lunch at panera or even a car wash.

As the fates would have it I found the perfect way to spend my $7. Saturday was 50% off at Goodwill and I found this glorious set of mixing bowls and guess how much the set of 11 glass bowls cost me…$7.49. I guess Karma decided to throw me a bone.

 

 

the smallest mixing bowl of all.

Let the cooking and baking continue, I’m getting the necessary tools on the cheap!

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