Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mmm. Chicken.

Contrary to popular rumor, I am not dead, I was merely on vacation. Well, not quite "vacation" because that would imply that I have a job. No, I took a trip to the redneck ancestral homeland for a few days of hanging out at granddad's old place. (My mum bought it after granddad died, and my parents have remodeled it. It's in the middle of nowhere, and rather nice to get away to.)

And what sustained me while I was away? Why, my Super Duper All Purpose Sorta Mexican Goo!

To make The Goo you'll need:

1 package chicken tenders or "stir fry" chicken pieces
1 can black beans (Goya if you've got 'em)
1 can diced tomatoes with chilis (I bought the store brand because it's bigger than Ro-Tel, but do what you will)
1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 lime
1 bunch cilantro (it can be a small bunch)

Make sure the chicken is in bite-sized pieces, and whip it into your favorite non-stick frying pan. Toss in your clean, tasty mushrooms, the can of tomatoes (undrained) and the juice of half the lime. Pop the lid on it, and cook on medium/medium high till it looks super soupy. (Stir occasionally) Toss in your drained (but not rinsed) beans, and cook with the lid off, stirring semi-frequently until the chicken is cooked through, and the remaining liquid is thick and tasty but not totally gone. Remove from the heat, stir in a healthy dose of freshly minced cilantro and serve-

(And yes, this IS my quickie quesadilla filling, in a way)

This is excellent on little corn tortillas that have been warmed in a dry frying pan, to make little mini burritos. Or, you could serve it on fried corn tortillas as tostadas. Or as the filling for tasty nachos (cut up your tortillas and bake till crispy) or it'd be great with eggs (with or without the chicken).

I also whipped up some tasty Tuna Action too. (And whoever came up with the idea of tuna in a foil bag? I want to marry you.)

Take one of the single type serving bags of tuna and pour into a bowl.
Squeeze on the juice of 1/2 lime and add some minced tomato and cilantro. Mix it all up and serve in one of those ubiquitous corn tortillas. (because when they're on sale for 69 cents at the grocery store? You stock up.) Wicked tasty.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Spied some yummy fresh blueberries at the store the other day, so I thought it was high time I made some muffins! My maa used to make these as treats when we were wee kids, and my brother loves them.

For the muffins you'll need

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup soft butter
2 1/3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

For the streusel you'll need
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter/margarine (DO NOT MELT!)

Note, if you double the muffin recipe, you don't need to double the streusel, because it makes a ton.

Pop all of the streusel ingredients into a medium bowl first, and cut together with a pastry cutter (or mash with forks, or two knives, or use your food processor if you're a techno-savvy baker) until you have a nice, fine crumb. If it's hinty-bazillion degrees in your kitchen, stow this in the fridge till the muffins are mixed.

Please note: This is NOT standard Muffin Mixing Procedure.

Cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy, then beat in the egg. Next add the flour (which has been mixed together with the baking powder and salt) and milk/vanilla combo alternately, and beat well. It's going to resemble a wet dough. THIS IS OK! Gently fold in the blueberries (which you have, naturally, washed well, and picked over).

Pop the batter into muffin tins (this single recipe will make 12 small or 6 jumbo muffins) which have been lined or prepared with cooking spray. Fill the cups about 2/3 full, then top with a heapin' pinch of streusel. Then bake for 20-25 minutes at 375. (if you use the jumbo pans, anticipate baking longer- closer to 25-30 minutes, but test frequently to make sure you don't overbake.)

These are super when warm, with a bit of butter, or room temperature, and they do freeze fairly well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Let them eat cake!

Especially if it's THIS cake, yo!
(The beautiful, talented, and awesome G. Monkey slices her birthday cake)

This is the cake before it's slaughter. Oh, poor dixie cup, we hardly knew ye. I have to say, the chocolate raspberry layer was the better of the two.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Mission Accomplished!

The cake, she is finished!


And it looks NOTHING like I had thought it would. But I like it better than my idea, so... woot.

Maa was the Wiltonator, and refused to let me touch anything, lest I "Screw it all up", so she wielded the decorating bags. But the cake? She is beautiful.

The chocolate and raspberry layer is iced in lavender, the butter and apricot layer is iced in lightish pink, and the dixie cup to hold the ribbon curls is iced in a pale turquoise. We did a plain scalloped border at the base of each cake, and put little dots of darker pink and white on them. (to look a bit like confetti.) I picked up 2 package toppers (curled ribbon) to use for the top of the cake. one is coral/lavender/peach, the other is pale yellow, green and aqua. I mixed the two sets of ribbon together, popped in some curled silver wire, and looped a few strands of the ribbon through that to give it some height, and that will sit on top of the dixie cup (a tall one, with the top cut off, so the ribbon just sits into the top of it) and cascade down. No candles (fire hazzard, and the ones I got looked like... ASS with the frosting.)

I hope she digs it- it looks effin' AWESOME.

And now, I have a cat to abuse, and a Monk card to make. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The icing on the what, now?

I will admit it. I am a freak.


Because I dislike icing on my cake.

Well, most types of icing anyway. I love a good ganache, or a whipped cream style, or a nice peanut butter frosting if it's not too sweet, and of course, german chocolate topping. But your average, ordinary, run of the mill bakery frosting, or the stuff that comes in cans? GUH. Hate.

Why the prattling about icing?

Because I baked the cake layers today for G. Monkey's Thirtieth Birthday Cake (of Doom!) (because anything momentous should have (of doom!) after it.)

2 9 inch chocolate layers, 2 6 or 7 inch yellow cake layers. Of course, I had cake left over, so I made one 8x8 square for family consumption. I topped that with some semisweet chocolate chunks that I melted together with a splash of milk. YUM. (Boston cream pie, without the pesky cream to get all squishtastic.) I'm going to freeze the layers today, and frost them on Saturday night, I think. Maa has graciously offered her mad cake decorating skillz as well, so if her hands will tolerate it, I may call her in for the detail stuff.

I'm going to fill the chocolate layer with raspberry preserves, and probably frost it a bright turquoise (or whatever I have close in paste) and white, and the yellow layer will be filled with peach preserves, frosted in perhaps a bright pink and white, still similar to the cake from yesterday's post. I'm making the icing, so it won't be TOO revolting, I hope. I also found the candles, quite by accident, and the local (cheaper, too!) grocery store, so I am quite thrilled.

I also managed to get her "Monk Box" done- made "Mr. Monk's Bottled Water- Guaranteed untouched by human hands!" labels, as well as "Germs driving you crazy? Try Mr. Monk's Hand Sanitizer!" and "Want a snack that doubles as entertainment? You need Mr. Monk's Butter Popcorn!" packaging too. She should get a kick out of that, with the box set of season 3. Now all I need is the ribbon, and to check back in with Mr. Monkey about the final plans. :) HEE! I love parties.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


And I can post this here, without G. Monkey reading the post. Muha. muha. Muhahaha.

(for those not in the know, G. Monkey's the other half of my brain (the smarter half, at that) and all around best friend EVAR.)

See, G. Monkey's turning 30 on the 19th. And she's gruxed for many moons that she's never once had a surprise party. So Mr. G. Monkey, being quite possibly the world's coolest husband ever, has decided to throw her one. This is where the evil laughter comes in. Because I? Get to make the cake. (and set up while they're gone, but mostly, I'm excited about the cake, because I can do party setup in my sleep.)

I know what I'd LIKE to do (namely, This little cake, only all grown up and full sized, with 2 different flavors- one per tier, with regular, not fondant icing.)

Though, I'd settle for a straight (not crazy) 2 tiered cake, chocolate base with raspberry or strawberry filling and vanilla & apricot/peach second tier with bright icing and these cute little candles I found at the grocery/craft store yesterday- (just the candles, not the other crap from the picture.)

I'm going to tap into my mother's mad Wilton skillz and see what she can recommend. I'm thinking I'll bake the layers on Friday, chill, seal them on Saturday before work, and frost saturday night after work. If it comes good, I'll take pictures to post. If it doesn't, you can write to me care of the "danger to self and others" ward at the local hospital. (I know, I know, how nerve-wracking can it be to do a cake for 20 people? But you see... there's a precedent here. I'm the "Creative" "good cooking" one. I can't show up with crap OR a store bought cake. I mean I could, and Mr. Monkey was going to just order a cake, but... Nah.And besides, how many times am I going to get to bake for G. Monkey's 30th?)

Also, if you're pressed for time, Jennie-O turkey breasts aren't half bad. Watch what you serve with them, because they're a touch salty, but not bad.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Little to report

Except for the fact that Kirkland signature stir fry blend veggies rock my little world.

And I'm trying to come up with some sort of fried peanut butter and tunafish* sandwich for Fat Elvis, the newest arrival at the Saucehold. He's a 4 (or so) year old long haired black bundle of nerves, and he thinks that I am the best thing since, well... ever. I just have to look at him and he purrs. Granted, I'm looking at him upside down, as he hides under the chair, but still... I'm impressed. He was feral when the shelter got him, and hates men, loud (and some not-so-loud) noises, and Pounce treats. He thinks the other cats are alright, but they pretty much loathe him, so he's spending a lot of time down in the basement. Where he is currently scooping alllllllll of the litter out of his box.

I need to get the boy a bigger box.

I also need to get the matted fur off his sides.

Depending on the weather, (if it's too hot, she'll never go for it), and if the crops are good, I may con my mom into teaching me how to can tomato soup. And when she does? Oh, the recipe shall be here. And you will worship me. Because nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is as good as my mother's homemade tomato soup, with some freshly cooked up noodles, in the middle of winter. NOTHING. What she does with ripe tomatoes, a bay leaf, some flour, and the old crank mill is nothing short of genius. Cross your fingers that this rain keeps up, but not so much that the plants get funk, because I'd really like to spend my birthday weekend in the kitchen with Maa.

*Not really. I know cats aren't supposed to eat people tuna. But if you ever need to pill a cat on a long-term basis, and they won't fall for traditional methods, check with your vet about baby food. Crush the pill, mix it with the baby food, and serve, or load into a wide syringe (the kind you give baby medicines in) and administer that way (if you use the syringe, thin the baby food slightly with water or broth). Evil & I did that dance twice a day for quite some time, and while she didn't LOVE it, it was a lot less traumatic all around than the usual methods. (If the vet nixes baby food, you can use smooth style wet food the same way.)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Turkey & Stuffing Burgers

Or, as I like to call 'em, Thanksgiving in July!

When I first made this recipe, I had a distinct vision of how I wanted this to turn out. It didn't quite work out right, but was delicious. I am, however, going to tell you how to do it, so it will work out beautifully, and act as my original creation. Ain't I swell? Heh. (fear not, I'll give you the flawed one too, at the end.)

What You'll Need:

1 pound ground skinless turkey
1 egg
1 small onion, minced
1 or 2 stalks celery, minced (include the yummy leafy bits)
4 slices bread- cubed
salt, pepper, 1-2 chicken bullion cubes
Poultry Seasoning blend, or your own mix of spices (thyme, rosemary, dill, parsley etc)
finely crushed cracker crumbs or instant mashed potato flakes (amount will vary)
a few tablespoons of milk
a dab of butter or margarine
vegetable oil, cooking spray, and/or a really good nonstick skillet.

Take your celery & onion, and a dab of butter/margarine, and cook over med/low heat until the onion is translucent, and the celery isn't so crunchy. In the meantime, cube up your bread, (white, wheat, or whatever, just make sure it's sandwich bread, and not a big crusty baguette). Pop the bread in one bowl, and your turkey into another. Divide the celery/onion mix between the bowls, probably about 60/40 in favor of the stuffing. Now, season your stuffing, crumble 1 chicken bullion cube over it, and add a dash or two of poultry seasoning (or use a fairly liberal sprinkling of the other herbs), add a bit of pepper, and mix the stuffing with a few tablespoons of the milk- just till it will hold together if squeezed.

Now, turn your attention to the turkey. Add the lightly beaten egg, (or egg beaters, if you like) another healthy dash of poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and another crumbled up bullion cube, if you like. You'll note this whole mixture is really loose and in no way will make a decent burger. This is where your crackers or potato flakes come in handy. Add by about 1/4 cup at a time, and mix well, then let sit in the fridge for a few minutes, to see if it's stiff enough to handle well. Test the seasonings by pinching off a little bit and frying it in the pan you did the celery in. If you need to, adjust the rest of the seasonings, if not, you're on to shaping.

Make twice as many thin patties as you plan on serving. For example, serving 4 burgers? Make 8 very thin patties. On top of half the patties, place a ball (or a disc, more accurately) of stuffing, then top with the plain turkey patties. Seal the edges together well, and cook in a little dab of oil or cooking spray in a nonstick pan until the turkey is done, and the stuffing is hot.

You could serve with gravy, or pop it on a bun with a little cranberry relish, a side of baked/grilled sweet potatoes, and fresh green beans. Woo!

That's how it's SUPPOSED to be, but if you're pressed for time, you can just mix the stuffing, and some of the cracker crumbs straight into the turkey mixture, form the whole thing into regular patties, and cook like a normal burger. Still tastes just as good, too.