Shamleless Plug

I'm embarking on a new part of my life that is happier and going in a direction! It's really refreshing.

I was married May 19th, 2012 to a great guy I met at the C.I.A and we're go excited to embark on a life together. He has as culinary degree to match my baking and pastry degree. It's going to be a Good life.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts on food and cooking. I am but a humble baker, who happens to love cooking and embraces the joy of food.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Food and Grammar Jokes

Matt, reading a cookbook: "Oooh, Morels with Madeira!"
Me: "I only understood a third of that sentence."
Matt: "Well, 'Morels' is a mushroom, 'with' means 'to accompany' and Madeira is a sweet wine."
Me: *laughs uncontrollably* "That's good! That's really funny!"

For the record, I know what "Morels" are and what "With" is.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mac And Cheese

It was 12:30 on a Friday afternoon. I had been thinking about what to make for dinner all day. The chicken I had taken out the night before was almost fully thawed in the fridge. I wondered if either Matt or I had it in us to fabricate, make bread crumbs, dredge and cook chicken cutlets. Then I got the text from Matt: "I have dinner." Yes! Whatever it was, I was happy.

He came up the stairs carrying fried chicken that he made at work. "Ooh, can we have it with mac and cheese!?" I asked.

Macaroni and cheese. A staple in a kid diet. We used to have that Velveeta mac and cheese dinner, with that squishy neon orange cheese pouch. It paired well with Minute Maid Berry Punch. But as I grew and my tastes evolved, I somehow came across Annie's Shells and white cheddar. That lovely purple box with the rabbit of approval.

I don't know when it was that I first had this uncommonly delicious food. But it was probably when I was babysitting kids with a mom who had good taste in dinner. Whenever it was, I became hooked. No more of that squishy pouch for me.

White shells and cheddar was mild but cheesily delicious. The shells absorb and hang onto the sauce. A little bit of butter, a little bit of milk and you have lunch, dinner, breakfast, snack. Didn't matter. 

It was a staple for quick but wholesomey dinners. Burgers with a side of Shells and white cheddar? Dinner in your dorm room? Yes, if you can stand to cook the pasta on high for fifteen minutes, almost scald yourself trying to pour water down the drain, and not manage to drop it with the heat of the bowl. Don't ask me how I know that......It was the first thing I made for Matt in that early stage of dating.

Then something wonderful happened. Trader Joe's started selling Annie's microwavable Shells and Cheddar!  In single servings! And it was good. A few seconds under the directed cooking time and you have a slightly al dente alternative to peanut butter crackers. The trick was to under cook it slightly and add slightly less water to boil. That made the sauce thick and cheesy and bold and delicious.

I tried a box of Velveeta Shells and cheese last November. Just to see how it was after all these years of purple box bunny goodness. It was kind of "Meh." After boxes of the Shells and Cheddar, Peace Pasta and Parmesan, and other delicious varieties, Velveeta just didn't compare. My favorite Shells and White Cheddar with half a cup of sweet corn. Holy goodness. Crisp, sweet yellow corn nestled inside the wee shells that are coated in white cheddar? You can't say no to that.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Holidays are coming!

Well, here it comes. The holiday season. Two months of non-stop commercials, sales, and general holiday cheer lunacy. For us in the food industry baking world, it means various degrees of kindness and patience from customers, ranging from "Oh, I totally understand that the pie wont be ready til 12! I can surely come later in the day." to "WHY CAN'T I HAVE A CHERRY PIE IN DECEMBER!!?!?? *click*"  Ho! ho! ho! We've all been there.

.....Anyway.... It's great that it's going to be chilly and blustery, because all those warm and filling dishes can be made and frozen! With the crazy holidays coming up, hours are early and late. So I can do one of three things: Make things for the freezer, pick up whatever looks good at Whole Foods, or let Matt cook. Or! The secret fourth option: Going through Mcdonald's and wolfing down whatever it is I buy before I reach the first stop light out an letting Matt fend for himself.

Clearly, the first three are better. I love Matt's cooking, but I hate for him to cook a meal after he works all day doing just that. Whole Foods has amazing soups, pizzas, sides, sandwiches and all kinds of wonderful things to eat in a pinch, but if I'm getting out of work at 5pm after being there since 2 am, driving to a store would make me nutty and agitated.

But I enjoy the idea of making things ahead of time, I'm generally excited to make things for the freezer. Today, I'm going to make chicken and biscuits and a pot pie. The usual delicious half butter/ half shortening crust, lots of corn, (unpeeled) potatoes (or even better, sweet potatoes!), parsnips, peas, onions and celery.Possibly mushrooms. Some people may be content with a plain mirepoix and potatoes chicken pot pie, but I love my pot pie bursting with crisp vegetables. I'd put butternut squash in, if Matt would let me.

I admit it's a lot of work. Pulling the chicken meat (preferably a roasted chicken for that little extra something), chopping the vegetables, parcooking them, making whatever your crust preference is, and the nice delicious creamy filling (whatever you prefer. I'm a fan of half cream of whatever soup, and adding stock, cornstarch, and so many lovely spices).One tin of chicken and biscuits or a pot pie for two people means one main meal and lunch, plus a snack for each of us.
It's worth the 45 minutes of work on your day off to have zero effort on the day when you really can't bear to think about washing your hair, let alone chopping carrots.

I'm so excited for the cold weather. I love filling hearty meals. Best for the freezer, best for pulling from the freezer into the fridge and then into the oven after work. No mess, little clean-up, and 100% delicious and hearty. Cheaper than take out. Better than McDonald's. 

I think next time I'll do a Shepard's pie, with sweet potatoes. My mother started making that a year or two ago with left over beef, and it's one of my most favorite winter meals. Peas, corn, beef, sweet potatoes! Yum. Or maybe some kind of pastry wrapped meat? Biscuits filled with ground beef and cheese? Or perhaps a veggie pot pie? So many delicious things and so little space in my freezer!