Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Can You Cook Rachael Ray Recipes in 30 Minutes? Recipe 6 - Beans and Rice

Here's our last recipe for this wee project - Smoky Red Rice and Chorizo with Black Beans.

Basically 4 steps to this - cook the rice. Puree some roasted peppers and such and stir into the rice. Cook the chorizo. Cook together the tomatos, beans, onions and garlic. Oh, step 5 - assemble.


I had some thinly sliced chorizo in the freezer, cut like pepperoni for pizza, so I cut it into fourths and used that.  I used probably a third of what the recipe calls for, but because it was cut thin, there was a lot of it.  I drained the tomatos for the beans as per the instructions, but I wished I hadn't.  I would have liked that sauce to be a little juicer.

How long did it take?


A respectable 26 minutes. 

Well, I am pretty happy with the results of this. Out of 6 recipes, only 2 took longer than 30 minutes, and all 6 were very good meals that I would make again.

Now if I could get some less fun projects cleared off my plate.....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Can You Cook Rachael Ray Recipes in 30 Minutes? Recipe 5 - Soup

I chose this recipe specifically because I had some Italian sausage in the freezer.  Don't you love it when you can make a meal that doesn't require a trip to the store?  I do.

This is Pasta e Fagioli, our 5th recipe.

This was easy. Cook sausage, cook veggies, add broth, cook pasta. A terrific soup for a cool Fall night. Again, my only beef (hee!) with this recipe would be the amount of sausage. It just seems like an excessive amount of meat.


Unbelievably, this took the longest of any of the recipes so far, just over 38 minutes.

But you know what? This was excellent. Excellent, excellent. The best soup that I've made in a long time. Even though it took longer than 30, this would be at the top of my list.

Tomorrow, our last recipe.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Can You Cook Rachael Ray Recipes in 30 Minutes? Recipe 4 - Lettuce Wraps

The fourth recipe for CYCRRRI30M is........ Thai Glazed Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Again, not an overly difficult recipe. Chicken and veggies with a somewhat Asian-y sauce. The coleslaw mix I bought was quite a rough chop, so I added a bit of water and cooked it for a few extra minutes. And voila:


And again, this was good. I love lettuce wraps and eating with my fingers so I was more than happy. We shared this with my parents (gave them the leftovers) and they enjoyed it too.

How long did it take?


Even with the extra cooking time, a shockingly brief 21 minutes!

I used soy sauce instead of the fish sauce, and forgot about the cucumber. Neither had a negative impact on the dish.

So far out of the 4 30 Minute Recipes we've tried, 3 of them were easily done within the allotted time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Can you cook Rachael Ray recipes in 30 minutes? Recipe 3 - Tostadas

Recipe number 3 in this project is Roasted Corn Tostadas.

Pretty straightforward. Corn roasted on the bbq, then cut off the cob. Tortillas toasted with beans and cheese, then topped with the corn and various other toppings. Delicious and fast, yes? Delicious, yes. Fast, surprisingly no!

I think it was our really really hot weather, but I was really rushing with this one. I chose to use the grill to cook the corn and warm the tortillas but I was warm and beginning to feel queasy. Even though the grill was super hot it took longer that the recipe stated to grill the corn. Then I grilled the tortillas, which I couldn't walk away from, so then they had to sit there and get congealed while I cut the corn, assembled, etc.


How long did it take?


A surprising 33 minutes. If I hadn't been rushing, I think it would have been in the 40's.

However, this was my favorite of the 3 recipes so far. If you replaced the grilled corn with some additional veggies or some sort of leftover, this would be a really quick dinner. I love tortillas and try to keep them on hand at all times. This would be something I would definitely make when I'm back at work.

HOWEVER, the chipolte cream was a disaster. The cream curdled and was so unappetizing looking I couldn't bear to put it on the tostadas. We went with salsa instead and I flushed the cream down the toilet.

2 out of 3 recipes have been made in 30 minutes or less. Tomorrow - chicken.

Can you cook Rachael Ray recipes in 30 minutes - Recipe 2 - Pasta

The second recipe for the CYCRRRI30M is a pasta dish, Napa Noodles.

I have a beef I must share with you. On her 30 minute show, when she makes pasta, she'll take a pot over to the sink to fill with water to boil the pasta, then she'll leave the water running and walk away to do something else. THEN she goes back to the sink, where the water is STILL running into the overflowing pot, turns off the water, and dumps out a bunch. Is this necessary? There is already so much food waste from cooking shows, does this have to happen? Can't the pot already have water in it and be sitting on the stove, waiting for her to turn it on? You may not, and probably don't, care about this. But it bothers me every single time I see it.

Anyhoo, this dish goes a little more smoothly than the burger. I work at a normal pace. I get all the ingredients prepped while the water is coming to a boil, and the veggies cooked while the noodles are cooking. I cooked the veg a little longer than the recipe states, so the cabbage seemed to dissolve. I used peas instead of edamame, and egg noodles instead of soba. There are green onions in there, but they are hiding in the photo below:

How long did it take?

27 minutes.

This is a really nice pasta dish, a nice way to use napa cabbage other than a straight stir fry. Scott loved it and ate nearly the whole dish by himself. I managed to get a couple of spoonfuls.

So far 2 of 2 recipes have cooked in less than 30 minutes!

Tomorrow - another vegetarian dish.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Can you cook Rachael Ray recipes in 30 minutes? Recipe 1 - Ham Burger

The first recipe I made for this project is Ham Burger.

Stopwatch started and go.

Right off the bat I break my first rule - no panicking. I feel like I'm in a race - I'm running around, grabbing what I need, hurrying. I make a mistake early on, I misread the recipe in my haste and add too much seasoning. Not the end of the world, but that makes me stop, take a breath and start moving at a more regular pace.

These burgers are very straightforward - mix the patty ingredients, form them, grill them and the pineapple and assemble.

We end up with this -


First off, this burger needs a new name, like the Super Awesome Burger, because it is. The pork and ham and maple syrup make a terrific patty. And I love anything with pineapple in it.
The patties are too big. There is 1 3/4 pounds of meat for 4 burgers. That is WAY too much meat for 4 people. I did make just 4 patties, but if I made these again I would either scale back the amounts, or make at least 6 patties.

I left off the chutney because the cheapest jar of mango chutney I could find was $5. The burgers didn't need it anyway.

How long did it take?

29 minutes.

Most of the time was spent waiting for the burgers to cook; they were super thick. But as I said, easy and delicious. I would make these again for sure.

Tomorrow, we make pasta!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Can you cook Rachael Ray recipes in 30 minutes? The beginning.....

I was perusing through my archives a couple of weeks ago looking for a certain recipe that I couldn't remember enough about to do a search on, and I came across a couple of posts from a few years back about Rachael Ray recipes I'd made, and how I was not able to get them made in 30 minutes. I must admit that RR has grown on me over the past while and when Paxton was a wee baby who would only sleep if he was in my arms, we watched a LOT of Rachael, both her cooking show and her talk show.

Eventually (ie within a couple of months) I'll be working somewhere (hopefully somewhere much much MUCH better than the place I left in November)  and I wonder a lot how everything will get done. I know it will, it's not like I'm the first person to have a kid and work, but it seems so overwhelming right now. My to do list is long and painful, but I've added to it to find some good solid fast recipes that I can whip up after
work, recipes that won't keep me in the kitchen for hours with cooking or cleaning.

So I thought hey, I should give her 30 minute recipes another try. And this time, use a stopwatch to see how long it really takes me.

Starting tomorrow, I'll be posting 6 Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals, how long each one took, and what we thought.

The rules are:
- no panicking. By which I mean, just because I am timing myself I won't rush. I will cook at a normal pace.
- make the recipe as close to as written as possible. I rarely follow recipes to the letter, but in this case I will. however, I may
- make substitutions as necessary. If a recipe calls for boneless chicken but I have some bone-in in the freezer, I will use that. If a recipe calls for linguine and I have spaghetti, that's ok too.

I think this will be fun, y'all. See you tomorrow.

Corn!

I bought some more corn, about a week after that post. I decided this time I would grill the corn before I cut it off the cob and froze it.

I saved a few cobs from the freezer so we could try Summer Corn with Pappardelle, Brown Butter and Herbs from make grow gather.

Amazing. Nothing else to say.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bread Baking Babes - Brunkans Langa

I will give you a direct quote from Gorel, our Babe of the Kitchen this month, on the bread she chose:
"Brunkan is a nickname for Brunkebergs bageri (the bakery of Brunkeberg, situated in Stockholm), and ”långa” means ”the long one”. When they bake this bread at the Brunkeberg bakery, it is more than two feet long – hence the name. The owner of this bakery is Heléne Johansson, an IT consultant who decided she needed a career change and thus started her own bakery in 2002. This proved to be very successful, and she has now started a second bakery and also taken on catering as a business. A true babe, isn’t she? This bread is from the book ”Bröd” (Bread) that Heléne published last year and which contains the most popular breads in her line."

Is that not a great and intriguing introduction to this months bread? Well then let me tell you more. Not only does the bread require a starter because it's a sourdough (yipee!), the starter is made with graham flour, which I've never used before. And shockingly, could actually get my hands on!

My story does not have a good beginning, however. I went to the 2 "largest" health/natural food stores here, which happen to be about a block away from each other. The first was closed, so we walked to the other. I scoured the flour aisle but could not see graham flour. A clerk asked me if I needed help and I told him what I was looking for. I followed him to a different aisle, where he waved his arm towards.....a bunch of cookies. No no, I said, I need graham flour. Just take the graham cookies and grind them up! he replied.

Even I knew that probably wasn't right.

The other store managed to open on a weekday and I found the flour there within seconds. Graham flour is actually a type of whole wheat flour, with both finely and coarsely ground components. And you thought I didn't know anything!

So, you make your starter, which takes at least 3 days. After which you can either store your starter and occasionally feed, or make the bread. But then when you mix the dough, it needs an overnight rise in the fridge. We had some last minute company who would be leaving the day the dough would be ready to bake, so I figured the day before I'd make the dough and then it could sit in the fridge until they left, at which time I'd bake it.

They decided that last morning that they'd stay another day if that was ok with us. It was, and I told myself that I was sure the dough would be ok in the fridge for another day. But then I opened the fridge.


The dough was massive! I was truly afraid that if I left it any longer it would end up stuck to the sides of the fridge. So I baked it that morning.


What a bread! The sourness was very light but lovely. If you wanted it stronger you could certainly leave the started longer before you bake, but I loved it just as it was. I gave one loaf to my parents and we motored thru that second loaf in less than 2 days. It was easy and lovely and very impressive.


A word of warning - this is a big dough. So unless you have a really big mixer (not a regular kitchenaid as that is what i have), mix this by hand!

Please visit Gorel for the recipe, and the rest of the Babes (listed over on the left) to see how their breads turned out. If you'd like to be a buddy, bake the bread and send a link to your post to Gorel by the 29th.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Friday, September 03, 2010

Maple Leaf Prime Pork Recipe Contest - update!

Last month I posted my recipe that I contributed to the Maple Leaf Prime Pork recipe contest. Did you know the contest is still on, and you have lots of time left to vote (repeatedly) for me?

You do!

So head over to facebook, and visit the Maple Leaf page. You have to "like" the page, and then click on the red box that says Vote Now, and then you can click on (MY) any recipe you like, and then click on the "like" button.

It's not as complicated as I make it sound.

I got a little thrill when I found out that the Maple Leaf chefs tried my recipe out and liked it. I thought that was pretty cool.

You can see the video BELOW, thanks Elizabeth! here if you like. I can't get the video to embed. It's 5:30 in the morning and I haven't slept yet and surprisingly it's not the baby's fault.



I am off to hide from the internet for a few more days. Life is shooting lemons at me pretty hard these days, and I seem to have lost the recipe for lemonade.

Bah.

Happy long weekend.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

So corny

It was sort of weird. I started that "Here's what I ate today" week as a way to pull myself out of a cooking rut. I figured that maybe if I put a little bit of fun into it I'd feel more interested. Maybe find some new recipes to try. Instead it did the opposite, big time. I didn't want to cook, didn't want to post. Thought about hitting the delete button on my blog. So instead I turned off the computer and walked away. No blog, no email, no facebook or twitter. It was nice. And relaxing. Except for the part where my camera ate a whole bunch of pictures, personal and food related. Dammit.

I went to my very first corn maze a couple of days ago.

Our weather did a 180 turn last Thursday. The morning was sunny and hot and by the afternoon it was much cooler, with a big wind storm that turned to rain and thunder. The wind was so fierce I had to take the baby out of the stroller and try to protect him from the wind and blowing debris as we ran for cover. The rain only lasted a day but the temperatures have stayed low.

The maze was pretty fun. At most parts the corn was heading towards 7 feet tall. We were lost for about 30 minutes. My arms and back got a workout pushing the stroller over and under and around mud and rocks and dips and fallen corn. Not that Paxton noticed.

The signs outside the maze say not to pick any corn while you're in the maze. So when we were done I bought some corn to take home and freeze.

I decided to try 2 methods for freezing the corn. The basic blanch and freeze,

and also a recipe I found on Cooks.com where you don't boil the corn first, just cut it off the cobs and freeze it with a "brine".


I'm going to give them a couple of weeks in the freezer, then try them and see what we think. We're heading back that way this weekend; I think I'll be bringing more home if I'm lucky.