armadillas


Technical conspiracies

I’m so upset! As you all know, my lowly yet trusted camera phone stopped working the other day. It’s a bad thing, a very bad thing for my style of blogging. My poor photos may not be high quality, but at least they are instructional. So how, pray tell, am I supposed to make regular updates without photos? I suppose we’re just going to have to use our imaginations for a while. Or, I can attempt at doodling…which has never been my strong point.

Yeah, the doodling is not working out so well. Anyway, the reason I really wanted to post some pics today is because I finally finally finally attempted to make a dough that turned out perfectly. What a feat! I mean, remember my last few attempts with dough? They weren’t very pretty. But today I stumbled upon a fairly simple recipe for homemade pretzels and it was an absolute success. I was ecstatic!

Recipe courtesy Joanne Ozug at Fifteen Spatulas

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons quick rise yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Sea salt
  • Baking soda mixture (see below)

When I said this recipe was simple, I really meant it. Take all your ingredients and dump them into a bowl. Your warm water should be around 110 degrees.

Mix it all together with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to form.

Knead the dough. This surely is not my strong point so after a few minutes of trying to figure out if the dough was doing what it was supposed to be doing I decided to stop.

Dust the dough with flour and seal into a Ziploc bag. Allow to rest for half an hour.

After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the bag and divide into however many pretzels you want. The original recipe makes eight. I decided to make six small ones for snacking and two big ones for sandwiches. Who doesn’t love a pretzel sandwich?!

Once the dough is divided, roll and  form into little pretzel knots  on a lightly oiled surface. Dunk each knot into a Baking Soda Mixture, which consists of a cup of water mixed with a tablespoon of baking soda microwaved in a bowl together.

Place the dunked knots onto a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Indulge!

These were pretty good, especially for my first try. I sincerely apologize for not having any photos. Next time I want to experiment and make garlic pretzels. Maybe I’ll even throw some herbs into the dough, too.


Arya and the queenmaker


Clearly, I’m going through a phase. I might even be prone to admit it’s a slightly obsessive phase. It’s the blogs I tell you, the blogs! I can’t help it. Whenever I’m feeling a little on the bored side and decide to open up Pinterest in my browser, I always end up stumbling upon some recipe or another and then being transferred to a blog. Lovely blogs, mind you. Inevitably, I  fall in love.

Today I fell in love with Stella. I don’t even know how I ended up on a page with Stella’s adorable face, but there she was looking at me with her dark, shining eyes. Oh yeah, Stella is a dog and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have dog envy. Sigh. Stella’s mamma is pretty cool, too.  I enjoy her posts and she has some pretty good looking recipes I intend to try out when my pockets aren’t feeling so empty. Check her out here at Witty in the City!

Anyway, one of her recipes that caught my attention was her mama’s roasted chicken. I’m a big fan of chicken. I’m a big fan of roasted chicken. I’m also quite the fan of those roasted veggies found under the roasted chicken. Witty in the City mentions that her family vies for the crispy ones. Girl after my own heart! I also like her philosophy in regards to cooking as you go. I’m not a mis-en-place type of gal either. It takes a certain amount of fun out of things.

Back to the chicken. With empty pockets, my cooking habits are a little limited at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I can’t improvise. I may not have whole chicken pieces, but I have a few skinless, boneless breasts on hand. And the only vegetables here may be a bag of onions and I think a few cans of green beans. Well, I don’t do the canned green beans thing, but I do have a bag of apples. With September right on our heels, why not do an autumn inspired pseudo-roast? Onions, apples, chicken, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon, and thyme. A lovely meal is forming in my head as we speak. Plus some garlic! Can’t forget the garlic. Some of these combinations might sound a little weird, but I have a good feeling about it coming together into something beautiful. Mmm mmm mmm

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 granny smith apples (or apples of your choosing)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown sugar
  • Lemon juice

Maybe you noticed that I didn’t include any real measurements with the spices. That’s because this was my first attempt at this recipe and thus felt it best to eyeball everything. You’ll be fine! We’ll get to that in a moment. But first thing is first. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Now line a baking sheet with aluminum foil- or in my case, a pizza pan. Let’s make clean up a breeze!

Take your apples and give them a rough chop. Toss them onto the foil

Do the same with your onion. I separated the layers as best I could

Doesn’t it all look so pretty?

Okay, rinse your chickies! Place the rinsed off breasts right on top of the apples and onions. Gorgeous I say!

Onto the spices. Seriously, don’t be afraid to just eyeball everything. First, I sprinkled everything with some salt and pepper. Then I dashed on some cinnamon and brown sugar. I tried not to be too liberal with the cayenne (got to remember the boyfriend). Finally, a few shakes of thyme plus a spoonful of garlic here and there and we were in business. You know your own tastes better than I do. Follow your instincts.

 

At this point, drizzle lemon juice over the whole deal. An added option is to drizzle everything with some olive oil, but I omitted it. Oh, the choices! Pop the pan into the oven for about 45 minutes. In about 5 minutes your little house is going to be very aromatic

 

I had my doubts about this creation, but it turned out better than I expected. The boyfriend didn’t think it was too bad either, though he didn’t help himself to the crispy onions and apple bits. More for me! I think next time I might use the garlic and brown sugar to make a glaze. I’m just not the biggest fan of dry rubs. But it wasn’t bad, not bad at all. Nice and juicy!


It’s not raining in Seattle

It’s raining. It’s been raining what seems like all week. But by my count that has technically only been two days, so I can’t really complain. I don’t mind a little wet weather anyway. Plus, gloomy days are perfect for pulling out the crock pot. Mmm hmmm.

Not too long ago Timeline activated on my FB (I held out as long as possible) and now I’m free to spend my days pinning away until the school year starts (finally got my TB screening squared away and am submitting the final bits of my application on Thursday- because that’s when they’ll do my fingerprinting). Needless to say, I’ve probably compiled enough recipes to last me the rest of 2012. One of those recipes is crock pot chicken and dumplings. Yummm! What a day for a good bowl of chicken and dumplings. Oh yeah, and I don’t have to do any work. Throw it in the pot, place a lid on it, and go finish your Supernatural marathon. Summers are great for marathons, aren’t they? Any excuse to drool over Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padaleki). To this day, I’m not sure which brother I would choose. Sweet, sensitive Sam who seems to have certain demonic connections with outbursts of rage and violence. Or gruff, wisecracking Dean who keeps his vulnerable side on lock down, always the tough guy, always the protector. Oh, the choices! Guess I’ll just have to take both, please. I’ve seen most of the later episodes by chance, but now am working my way season by season.

Yup, sci-fi/fantasy geek here! I don’t deny it. And I can’t wait to finish off the second season with a steamy bowl of goodness. Yeah man! This is my first time making chicken and dumplings on my own. The last time I tried to make a soup with dumplings…it turned into a pot of goop. There are a few reasons for that and I won’t go into detail, but I have complete confidence this time things will fly smooth. Being armed with a recipe from this lovely blog helps, I’m sure. Thanks Polish the Stars! Oh Pinterest, I can already see a good thing turning evil…

Recipe adapted from Megan

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 can peas
  • 1 can refrigerator biscuits
  • Pepper

Lightly pepper your chicken breasts and place them in your nifty handy dandy crock pot/slow cooker/whatever you wanna call it! I decided salt was not necessary. The cream of chicken smells salty enough in my opinion anyway

Go ahead and toss your two tablespoons of butter on top of the chicken. I didn’t bother cutting it up. No biggie

Now the wet ingredients! Pour the two cans of cream of chicken soup and the one can of chicken broth into the crock pot.  At first, I had my doubts about how much soup I’d get out of all this. Silly me. I’m pretty sure three cans is sufficient for a home of only two

 

Mmm looks appetizing

That’s it! Place a lid on the whole shebang and cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 8). Since I started so late we are taking the high route. I do tend to take my time, don’t I? Guess I should start pinning earlier in my day. By the way, no need to stir everything together. This is one of those things in life that can let itself go (hehe). After the prescribed time, it’s time for some added magic. Shred the chicken then put it back in the crock

Add the peas. We add them late so they don’t get too mushy. That’s my excuse anyway

Now for the dumplings! Take four of your flaky biscuits and cut them into little pieces. Drop them into the soup (or is it considered a stew?)  and cook for another half hour or until the biscuits are cooked

Voila! Dinner is served

Not too bad for a first attempt, though I do feel as those the dumplings were a little too doughy. Next time I might try a different approach.

I’m beginning to turn sweet on my crock pot. Last night I made a lovely Dijon pork in the crock pot that I’ll have to share later. Very flavorful. Another Pinterest discovery. I’m telling you, I see and addiction in the near future. I also found a bunch of freezer slow cooker meals. I’m thinking about whipping a few of those up this week. Quick and easy! Just remove from freezer, empty into pot, and a few hours later a full meal is served with no mess. Ingenious!

I still need to update everyone on Saturdays cook-off!


Crafting after a long weekend

Today I decided I wanted to get crafty. My project of choice? Corona Glasses– or rather, Bud Light Lime and Platinum glasses. After all, living in a house where friends are sure to swing by over the weekend and knock a few back gave me plenty of bottles to experiment with. Good thing these guys like to keep it classy (otherwise I’d be stuck with a bunch of cans)

Anyway, I gathered up my supplies from around the house (yarn and fingernail polish remover) then went outside to dig up some bottles out of the recycling. I was REALLY excited to be trying this out. The boyfriend caught my enthusiasm, too. I mean, how awesome would it be to have beer bottle glasses? Especially since I would be making them myself. So cool!

So, I braided my yarn

Soaked it in fingernail polish remover

Then I slid it over my beer bottle

And lit that baby on FIRE!

I rotated the bottle for 30 seconds before submerging it into an ice bath. But I just could not get a clean cut

That’s okay. I have plenty of bottles to experiment with. I think part of the problem is my ice water wasn’t cold enough. I also read it’s better to use remover without acetone. One review said to rotate the bottle over a candle flame. Looks like  I’ll have plenty of ways to keep my hands tied for a bit. I’ll produce a nice glass by the end of the week! What a nifty idea. Great for parties, I’m sure


Pinterest and timeline finally got me!

Back in June I wrote a post in regards to my favorite food. If memory serves, I went on about how impossible it is to choose a favorite food, especially if you are a devout foodie, love to eat, and love to cook. But here recently, I’ve start to change my mind about this favorite food embroilment. It all started with a craving, as most things in life do. We had already eaten dinner that night. I shouldn’t have been hungry, not at all, and yet it would seem that my tummy was having quite the rumble. I tried to resist. I checked my email. I browsed through blogs. I chatted on Facebook. All this with the hope of forgetting my hunger.

But she had other plans. Finally, with a touch of reluctance and a bit of excitement, I pulled the bread down and grabbed the provolone and cheddar from the crisper in the fridge. I really, really wanted a grilled cheese, though for the life of me I don’t know why. Cravings. But I didn’t want just any grilled cheese. I wanted something satisfying, something that would allow me to sit down and enjoy the rest of my night. So I went to the garden, gathered a couple golden tomatoes, and returned to the house. Inside, I sliced those tomatoes as thin as my knife would allow, snacking on too-big slices (which tasted as glorious as sunshine), and arranged the thinner slices along with my two types of cheese across my bread. On a whim, I dusted everything with pepper and oregano before popping the whole shebang into the toaster oven.

Then I waited. And I waited some more. Before the crust turned black, I took my prize out of that toaster oven and ate it. If those tomatoes, freshly picked, tasted like sunshine, they transformed my sandwich into the best kind of ambrosia and I’m going to go off and live an immortal life in Olympus. Between the tomatoes and the oregano along with the cheese, I could have died a very happy person thanks to a very simple thing: a grilled cheese sandwich.

And you know what? I’ve always been partial to a good sandwich anyway. So perhaps that is my favorite food. If I absolutely without a doubt had to choose because my life depended on it.

The pictures are $%*&, but that’s okay. One day I will have a fancy camera!

 

 

So simple yet so awe inspiring. I’m pretty sure I could eat something like this everyday for lunch