Sunday, January 30, 2011

oh my gosh, it's paprikash

The first time I can recall eating chicken paprikash was in Detroit. A family in our church there talked about having us over for paprikash all the time. I had never even heard of paprikash, so I was rather excited by the prospect. I really enjoy trying new foods, especially if I do not have a concept of what they should be. Finally, paprikash was prepared for us and I must say, it did not dissappoint. It was chicken stewed in a tomato sauce with onions and paprika with homemade dumplings poached in the sauce and finished with a little sour cream. Delicious!

I have prepared a couple of different paprikash pots in the 8+ years since then and was excited to see another paprikash recipe in the November issue of Everyday Food. The original recipe can be found here. I made a couple of small changes - I used smoked paprika instead of sweet and once I browned the chicken, I put it in the oven on a baking sheet at 400 degrees while I was preparing the sauce. I only added the chicken to the sauce at the end and did that really just to coat it a bit. I wanted the skin to be crispy. I dislike rubbery chicken skin, or meat for that matter, and many times cooking chicken on the bone in a liquid results in just that.

I thought it might be fun to prop my pictures to be similiar to the ones in the magazine. I am a total amatuer with a camera and I find that mimicking photos I see teaches me a bit about composition and blah, blah, blah.

Now I think it was just really unoriginal.

My husband liked this very, ver much which always makes me happy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

cooking with celebrity chefs part 1

This is Ina's chicken stew with biscuits.

Well, almost Ina's... I made a couple of changes. I used half as many onions and I added about half a cup of diced celery. My husband and I both love this dish. It is great comfort food and tastes better the next day.

Of all the celebrity chefs, I think I enjoy Ina Garten the most. I believe she is that person she protrays herself as on her show - a rich lady with a somewhat nervous laugh who likes to cook for her husband Jeffrey and her friends. That's cool. I also adore her house - so lovely.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

sour cream coffee cake

A few days after I made this I went to a function where coffee cake was served, only the coffee cake served there was covered in a lot of sweet, gloppy icing piped all over the top. I prefer my coffee cake a bit more subtle.

This is wonderful served with coffee! I know. I know.

For the crumb topping:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

For the batter:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for cake pan
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for cake pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make topping: In a medium bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, pecans, oats, cinnamon, and salt. With a pastry cutter or your hands, blend until butter is incorporated and mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Make batter: Butter and flour an angel-food cake pan or 14-cup Bundt cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on high, scraping down bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl after each addition. Add sour cream and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat just until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in pecans; transfer batter to pan. Top with crumb topping and, with a butter knife, gently fold some of topping into batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack and let cool.

Monday, January 10, 2011

it is splendid

Maccaroni and cheese made from the Splendid Table's recipe for 21st Century mac and cheese sans saltines. I don't like saltines in my mac and cheese. I do however love Lynn Rosetto Kasper - I could listen to her talk about food all day.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I made the dogs a new bed

I think it is safe to say that Pebbles likes it. I couldn't get a good picture of both dogs on the bed - Huck Finn is the most camera shy dog I have ever met.

I know that dog beds can be bought all sorts of places and that they are pretty cheap. I made my own since I was sick of throwing away the cheap ones. After three years of dog beds that just didn't live up to my expectations, I knew I wanted a soft but solid core - if it is just fluffy stuff it all goes to the corners leaving beagles basically sleeping on a piece of fabric on the floor surrounded by soft stuff. They don't like that. I also wanted a water and smell resistant cover under the outer cover. I think my reasoning here is pretty clear but I will tell you - beagles are nasty little creatures. Cute but nasty. I also wanted it to be durable. I wash this thing (at least) once a week so it needs to stand up to that kind of wear and tear.

I bought a length of 3 inch thick foam from Joann's. I bought it when it was on sale 50% off since it is wicked expensive. I wrapped this in quilt batting to make it softer. I used a shower curtain liner to make the interior water and smell resistant cover. This is sewn shut and is not intended to be removed. Before sewing this shut, I stuffed poly-fil in on both sides of the batting wrapped foam to make it even softer. Beagles like soft. I bought a washable decorator grade cotton fabric in a neutral print since I am a neutral kind of fabric buyer. I made the piping which was probably the longest part of this project - cutting that much fabric on the bais and piecing it together and then wrapping it and sewing with the zipper foot. I decided to make both covers gussetted to lessen the strain on the seams. All in all I am very pleased with this dog bed. I think I spent close to $75on it but if it lasts more than a year, I will come out ahead. My thinking is that I can always cut open the water and stink proof cover and restuff it and make a new cover since the foam core seems to be holding up really well. I also am considering making another bed for the living room where they currently have a basket with a blanket and trying egg crate foam bed topper for people for the core of the bed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

let's talk soup

It's hard to believe that I actually kept cooked beef tenderloin in my freezer for 4 months. It's even harder to believe that I actually used it to make something after 4 months. Normally, I just trow it out after 2 months in the freezer. In these tough economic times in which we live, I am living by the motto of "waste not, want not." I also live by "live and let live" but that's another story for another blog post.

I thought it would be fun to make vegetable beef soup from the leftover meat and by fun to make I actually mean fun to eat. I love soup. Especially in the winter months. It's good, easy, filling, inexpensive and comforting.

Vegetable beef soup - 8 servings

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
3 stalks of celery, cleaned and sliced
1 large sweet onion, large dice
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 28 ounce can of diced peeled tomatoes
6 cups of beef stock - homemade or boxed - I try to buy the low sodium stuff when I buy the boxed
1 14 ounce can of green beans, drained - I try to buy the no salt added
1 cup of uncooked, medium pasta shells
1 pound of cooked lean beef - I had tenderloin leftover from something else, but top round would work as well
1 teaspoon of herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and add the carrots, onions, celery and herbs de Provence. Cook stiring often until tender - about 6 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and beef stock. Let this all simmer for about 15 minutes before adding the pasta shells. Add the salt and pepper. Once the shells are cooked - about 9 minutes - add the canned green beans and cooked meat and allow to warm through in the soup about 5 minutes. It's so good with crusty bread or corn bread or grilled cheese (sharp cheddar!!) sandwhiches.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

the one where I endeavor to start over...

It's a new year, so I firgure it's a chance to breath some life and love into ye olde blogge. I hope everyone had a fabulous 2010 and that 2011 is even better. 2010was a good year for my little family. We moved to a lovely new town in a lovely new state for Lenny to start work at a lovely new church. The Beagles are both healty and happy and playful and cute. While my health in 2010 was less than what I had hoped for, I managed to avoid hospital stays and that makes me happy.

Concerning food for New Year's Day, I grew up eating blackeyed peas and rice and pork chops. Lenny always had sauerkraut with potatoes and sausage. I think each is supposed to bring good luck and money which is cool. We are having the sausage with kraut and potatoes since it just seems like a good idea. I am not a huge fan of sauerkraut honestly. I can't say that I dislike it but I can only eat small amounts at a time and always with sausage and mustard. I do love mustard of all kinds. Right now we are still in our pj's watching the Rose Bowl Parade which is just carzy for us since it is noon!

I am not big on resolutions but I am going to make an attepmt to blog with more regularity this year. I am told that besides cooing I am really good at organizing and homemaking/cleaning. I take these things for granted actually. I assume that everyone knows HOW to do these things, they just choose not to do these things. I say this to say that I might start blogging more about organizing and cleaning projects along with cooking and the occassional crafty items.