Tag Archive | cooking

Let’s make a beer cake!

One day last summer, I was shopping at a flea market and found this awesome cake mold of a beer mug. Seriously….how cool is that!? Until now, I haven’t had an opportunity to use it. Yeah yeah, I realize many of you would make a beer cake every week, but I felt it deserved to be unveiled at a special occasion. Like 4th of July!

beer mold

 

You can see from my previous Jello post that I was not having a lot of luck in the creative foods department, but I decided to plow through and make my beer cake anyway.

Making the yellow cake mix was easy….open the box and follow directions. Done! The cake came out of the oven a bit pyramid-y but when I flipped it over, it smoothed out just fine and wasn’t wobbly.

beer before

 

Next was the icing problem. Have you ever realized they don’t sell beer colored frosting? Well, it turns out I can’t make beer colored frosting either. I couldn’t find food coloring in the store, so I thought chocolate and buttercream would do the trick for a dark lager look. Well, you decide for yourself, but I don’t think I succeeded. The top foam is just straight buttercream icing from a can applied with a spoon; the bottom markings are chocolate icing applied with a knife – yeah, you should use a piping tool instead!

beer done

Overall, I think the cake is okay enough and for the crowd I’m serving it to, it’s fine. You might want to take a bit of extra time to find that food coloring and use the piping tool.

Happy Independence Day!

 

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Stained glass Jello for 4th of July – Great idea! ……… or is it?

Any holiday that includes BBQ and drinking is a great day for me. Throw in fireworks and you’ve got yourself a party! So when my friend decided to host a potluck Independence Day Party, I was beyond excited. What would I make? Should I try to be creative? Sure! Why not!

Well……I should have realized that I am not that creative, but alas I have the Internet so I hunted. I was very happy to find this post  that shows not only how to make stained glass jello but points out that you can do it in patriotic colors!

I should have known that it wouldn’t be as easy as it looked. I went and bought the ingredients; I made the jellos (in four 8 inch square pans because that’s all I had); I waited for them to chill.  Tick tock!

jello before

 

After 4 hours had passed, I realized I should start on the second half of the process. I made the gelatin mix (had to look up what jello blooming meant) and waited for it to chill. It didn’t say how long to wait to chill so I put it in the fridge……and promptly forgot about it. An hour later I remembered and had to smash up the now super chilled gelatin.

I attempted to cut my colored jello into shapes but it just became mushy slops. I put the kind of sort of cut jello in the larger pan and made sure the red and blue were spread around.

jello blocks

 

I added the gelatin mixture to the top and tossed it back in the fridge overnight. (Imagine the picture above with white goo on top.)

In the morning, I pulled out the pan and finger tested it – it bounced back! Yay jello! However, I decided to turn it over onto a sheet pan to more easily cut out the shapes and heard that liquid sound – glub glub. Uh oh! I released the pan and out came my jello goop! My red, white and blue jello goop.

I attempted to cut a shape out of it, but it just oozed out of the cutter. It still tasted okay, so I improvised and dumped the concoction into a clear bowl and stuck some flag toothpicks in.

Voila! That’s what I meant to do all along!

jello done

 

Freezer Burned Steaks? Save them with a Crockpot!

Being a single gal means I don’t usually have much use for my Crockpot. It’s one of those medium sized ones, so I don’t like cooking a small meal in it just for one person. However, today while hunting for something in my freezer, I realized my meat shelf was full and had 4 freezer burned steaks on it – 4 really good quality freezer burned steaks!

I usually only cook steaks in the summer on the bbq, so these have been in that freezer for quite some time. I was afraid that they were destined for the garbage, but thanks to Google, I decided to give them a chance at second life (weird phrasing considering they are dead meat!) Anyway, I looked up a bunch of recipes but ended up just using a mix of them. This is what I did:

Ingredients

4 frozen freezer burned steaks – 2 with bones, 2 without

4 oz crushed tomatoes

8 oz sliced and whole white mushrooms (I misread the recipe and threw in half of them unsliced)

1 huge white onion (mixture of sliced and diced)

10 oz BBQ sauce – original flavor

a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

I’m pretty lazy, so I just took the steaks and dumped them into the Crockpot without defrosting them first. Then I added the onions and mushrooms. Lastly, I poured on the crushed tomatoes, BBQ sauce, balsamic vinegar and oil. I threw the cover on and set it on HIGH for 5.5 hours.

After about 4 hours, I started to smell the yumminess, so I had hope that this would work……and it did! The meat came out very juicy and tender and completely fell off the bones. If you try this at home, I think you don’t need to add quite as much liquid as I did. There was a lot of juices left in the crockpot.

My only issue with this project is: WHAT THE HECK IS ONE PERSON GOING TO DO WITH 4 STEAKS?! I guess I’ll be transporting a portion to my parents’ house and also perhaps freezing some for later.

Try this method on some Italian bread for a great steak sandwich. Add more veggies for a stew.

SAVE YOUR MEAT!!!!

freezer-burn

BlueApron …….. is it worth it?

Today I made my first meal created with fresh ingredients from BlueApron.com. BlueApron is a company that sends you all the ingredients for 3 meals (for 2 people) per week. Their shtick is that each meal is only 500-700 per serving and only takes about 35 minutes to prepare. The really nice thing about the program is that food is delivered to your home every week in a cooler box so you don’t even have to be home to receive the package. Mine sat outside my apartment door all day because even though I was home, the postman didn’t bother to ring the bell; yet, the ice wasn’t even melted.

Ingredients are labeled and divided up into the exact measurements you will need for each recipe. When I first received the box, I took everything out and separated each item into a pile for its recipe. One of my shallots was damaged and unusable, but I don’t foresee that being a huge problem as there is another shallot for a second recipe so I’ll just use half for each.

I took each group of ingredients and placed them each in a different part of the fridge (one group in each of the crispers and one on the door). This way I don’t have to sort out each recipe again when I want to cook; I can just grab and go!

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For dinner tonight, I had my choice between pasta with scallops, escarole salad with bacon and chicken and roast beef. I chose the pasta because I thought it would be the best for leftovers. I am not a terrible cook, but it seems I have trouble following directions. I was scrambling around the kitchen trying to multi-task and I forgot to do things like chop the onions and boil water (even though no where in the directions does it actually say to boil water). They also had me preheat the oven at the beginning of the cooking session, but I would have been better off reading through the directions to realize I should have just used my toaster oven. Using the oven for a tiny piece of bread is just silly!

For me, I found it hard to multi-task, but I think that’s because I didn’t plan ahead. I didn’t have the proper pans ready. I didn’t have bowls to hold the chopped ingredients in. Ultimately, it all came together, but it stressed me out! 🙂

In the end, the meal took me about an hour to create and tasted good. However, it was way too much work for me to do when I come home from work. Perhaps I can chop ingredients ahead of time and store in tupperware to save time. I also need to read the recipe from start to finish to make sure I am ready for all steps.

For a single person, I think BlueApron is too much food. I could have four meals out of the one recipe I made so far. Great for leftovers, but there are only so many days in the week. I think I will end up using BlueApron for an every other week supplement to my normal meals. Seems like it would be great for the 2 person household they intend it to be for – I think there might even be leftovers for them!BlueApron

Happy cooking!

Kale is my new favorite food

Lately I have been obsessed with kale. I saw it prepared once on The Chew and decided to try to duplicate the recipe at home. Unfortunately, my plan was ruined when I couldn’t figure out which was the kale at the supermarket. All the greens look really similar and they are all bunched up together. Pathmark’s labeling system left a lot to be desired, so I just chose one and went to check out. Fortunately, the cashier asked what I was buying and when I said “kale” she said, and I quote “This ain’t no kale”.  So there went that idea.

Fast forward a few months and my sister starts making kale chips – turns out they are a big thing these days. I finally decided to try it on my own and here’s how it went.

First of all, I went to A&P this time and it turns out they have their greens labeled on their rubber bands which meant I was definitely buying kale! I felt so accomplished! I took that huge batch of kale home, took off the stems, washed the leaves, dried them by squishing them in between a few papers towels (twice and will be reused to clean up pet messes later), and ripped them into pieces (not too small since they will shrink during baking).

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Next I drizzled some extra virgin olive oil, regular salt and pepper on them. I sprinkled Adobo on a few pieces to see how they would taste as well. I have a heavy hand, so I’m sure I used way more of everything than a normal person would or should! I threw them in the oven for about 18 minutes at 325 degrees. This is how they ended up turning out. The whole tray was full at the beginning so you can see how much they shrink during cooking. Keep an eye on them after the 15 minute mark because they can go from crispy to torched in a very short amount of time.

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I definitely learned to lighten up on the salt. My chips were very tasty but also very salty. Adobo gave them a little extra kick which was nice.

Another tip: after I wrote this post I wanted more chips another day, but not as many, so I cooked them in the toaster oven. I put aluminum foil on the tray for easy clean up. The chips came out really well. For the summer especially this would be a great way to cook up some chips without heating your whole kitchen!

PS….even the dogs love kale!

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