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Archive for January, 2010

Hello one and all! I’ve decided it’s time to begin Kitchen Cravings’ first series.

This thing I like to call the interweb has all sorts of amazing projects, products, and people out there and each week I will post a quick blog featuring one or two amazing sites.

This week for our 5 minutes of Awesome, I present to you: *drum roll*

Drew!
Drew is a good friend and entreprenuer. He provides for all your identity needs through his site OneMassivePoint and just started his tech tip-off site ablnkslate. Do you have a small business? If yes, then you need Drew. Check him out!

Awesome number two is:

dVider. More specifically, Stickers by dVider. For those of us living in rental spaces, this site has reasonably priced wall decals that are unique, and removable for whenever you move, or just change your mind!

Eat well and love much,

Sarah

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Whenever I create something my husband doesn’t quite like, he likes to lower the blow by saying “it’s not my favorite.” He and I have a happy understanding that this means that quietly, I will not make said creation again unless simply for myself. Which I do. Make it for myself that is. In retrospect this week, I think it is I who must say, it just wasn’t my favorite.

I made Pioneer Woman‘s Patsy’s Blackberry Cobbler and it was moist, sweet, fluffy deliciousness. Perfect with that single scoop of schmelty ice cream on top.

And yet, despite it’s delightful texture and contrast of tart fruit to clean, sweet cake…I remain in a state of cobbler-unsatisfaction. I think I just  made that word up. Anywho…the fact of the matter is my grandma, Miss Maudie, made the most spectacular peach cobblers I have ever experienced. I have not the slightest clue where to even begin searching for her recipe. Her cobblers were full of fresh off the tree peaches, and the bread of the cobbler wasn’t pie crust, but it wasn’t cake either; the texture was almost like a dumpling or a fruit betty. *sigh* What I wouldn’t do to have that recipe right now.

Who knew blackberry cobbler could leave you hungry for so much more. It reminded me just enough of childhood to remind me of the best. Thank heavens spring is on the way and you can bet your bottom dollar I will be getting some fresh peaches ASAP.

In other news here’s the proof from last weeks craving that you absolutely should make beef with broccoli. Holy cow, do it now!

Hope you enjoy your week and find yourselves well rested.

Eat well and love much.

PS- if you need an easy fruit dessert, this cobbler is definitely it. Do it for yourself 😀

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Tomorrow classes begin and my glorious break ends. It is, in a sense, a mournful day. It seems like no one told the weather though! Sunshine and 65 degrees for this Texas January day. God knows how to bring peace and enjoyment even before a storm of insanity.

This weekend was rather pensive for me. I enjoyed some time with my in-laws… including J’s little sister and brother.
J and I began, along with some family, Recovery at the Village on Saturday. It promises to be an intense time of wrestling and discipleship. On Sunday we unfortunately watched the Cowboys lose, and went to the evening service at our church. Matt Chandler, our lead teaching pastor, is now three weeks into his intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment for a malignant brain tumor found over the Thanksgiving holiday. It has been an incredible and sobering opportunity to watch from the outside as he and his family earnestly celebrate exactly what God is doing through this tumor. Never before have I had the opportunity to see sickness as the chance to live publicly the Gospel. It challenges my soul daily to rest my heart in the hope I have. I pray God would help me seize each day for His glory.

Images and news from Haiti has also weighed heavy on my heart this week. We received our first letter from our Compassion International child the day of the earthquake. J and I decided to sponsor a compassion child several months ago and chose a 9 year old girl from Haiti in hopes that in the future, my degree in French would allow us to visit her and communicate well. We still have no word on her safety but pray for her daily. Everywhere I look I see reminders of how temporary our lives are and how much we have been given here in the US.

In lighter thoughts I will attempt (again) to conquer Asian food. To date, two of my worst cooking experiences in the last year have been Asian food, much to my chagrin. You see, I adore asian food. Give me sushi, rice, and as many steamed veggies as you’ve got and you will have a happy Sarah. And yet, I have not managed to successfully and cheaply recreate any dish that I love from my favorite restaurants. Tonight, I attempt a fellow blogger’s recipe for Chinese Beef with Broccoli. Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen has a simple recipe for this dish in her Steamy Kitchen cookbook. Tonight I try to make it myself :-).

(see this post for Pioneer Woman’s step by step photography of this recipe)

Jaden Hair’s Chinese Beef Brocooli (from The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook)

SERVES 4 AS PART OF MULTICOURSE MEAL
1 lb (500 g) top sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced into 1/8-in (3-mm)-thick strips
11/2 lbs (750 g) broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic

BEEF MARINADE
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cooking oil
Freshly ground black pepper to season the beef

STIR-FRY SAUCE
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)

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In Anticipation

School is upon me and I am so entirely un-enthused. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some throughly enjoyable times in college with many fun friends made. But, I could not be more ready to be done. I will finish my course work in the summer thankfully and all that will be behind me, I hope ;-). In this final week of freedom before my last spring semester of college I am trying to enjoy every moment of un-burdensome, no homework time. This includes taking naps, drinking tea, catching up on house work when needed, and accomplishing as little as possible within those parameters. Cooking is also part of my relaxation plan and tomorrow I plan on trying my own recipe for Carne Guisada, which literally translates to meat in gravy. I don’t know of any mexican restaurant that offers it here in Denton, but back in San Angelo, Carne Guisada was part of figuring out the personality of a mexican restaurant. Everyone has their own idea of what it should be like and everyone’s grandma makes it better than yours type situation. But more on that situation later :D.

Today is the day for posting J’s favorite part of last weeks date night meal. I’m not much for following recipes unless it’s for baking, but here are my recipes for Oven Fried Chicken and Amaretto Pear Crisps. I hope you enjoy them as much as J and I did!

Oven Fried Chicken

2-3 lbs Chicken Breast or Tenderloin* (see note), cut into 3″ long strips

2 C Panko, or Japanese Bread Crumbs

2 Eggs

2 Tbs Honey

1/2 C Flour

1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Set up a three stations for breading the chicken. In one place the flour, in another the honey and eggs, and in the third the panko, pepper, and salt. Beat the eggs and honey until combined well. Begin by dredging the chicken pieces in flour until lightly coated, and shake off any excess. Then coat the chicken pieces in the egg/honey mixture. Lastly, place the chicken in the Panko and cover well so each piece has an even coating of Panko. Place breaded chicken pieces into a baking dish big enough to not have any pieces overlapping. Bake chicken for 15 min or until centers are no longer pink.

*I didn’t have any boneless, skinless breasts or thighs that night so I cut the breast and tenderloin off two chicken breasts with ribs I had on hand. Whatever you’ve got with ya, make it work!

J’s reaction to this dessert was to call all apples useless and pears to be the only dessert he ever wanted to see again. This will seriously knock you out with amazingness.

Amazing Amaretto Crisp (makes 6, 4 oz ramekins, so double this for a pie sized amount)

For the fruit:

2 Firm, Red Bosc or other Pear variety, peeled and cored

1/4 C Disarronno or other Amaretto Liqueur

1/2 C Sugar

2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 pinch kosher salt (trust me, it’s good)

Crumb topping, or the Crumblies as we call them:

(adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s Pear Crisp 2009)

3/4 C Flour

1/6 C Firmly Packed Brown Sugar* (see note)

1/6 C Sugar* (see note)

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

5 1/3 Tbs Butter, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut pears into a small dice and add to a bowl with amaretto, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Mix together and set aside. In another bowl mix all dry ingredients* together. Slowly mix in melted butter with a fork and incorporate well until mixture crumbs resemble small peas. Divide pear mixture among buttered ramekins including juices that have accumulated at the bottom. Divide crumb mixture among ramekins. We like the crumblies a lot so we use all of them which means I pack them in a little bit, but if you prefer less crumb crust, feel free to adjust to your liking. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 15-17 min or until crisp on top and bubbly around edges. Serve with vanilla ice cream and try not to have a heart attack from deliciousness overload!

*I, like any other sane person, do not possess a measuring cup that says 1/6 cup. To accomplish this amount I pack my 1/3 cup half way with brown sugar and top it off with the white sugar.

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Tonight I had a moment of hostess insanity. You know the situation: you’re rushing around in such a flurry to not let the bread burn, pasta get mushy, and sauce bubble over that you forget to breathe. Some days it seems like even when I plan ahead for lots of things I still end up running around like a crazy. Considering I love sharing our home with family and friends, I sure have a lot to learn about how to serve and love well in these situations. Maybe if I just maintain a mantra of “woosa” and other soothing nonsense I’ll relax a bit more. 🙂

As promised, I will post one of the recipes from the meal my husband actually loved. You see he’s the sort of guy who just would rather be fed intravenously than actually eat food. As a former swimmer, food stands for too much work in his mind and my attempts at pleasing his simple-yet-boring palette have remained largely fruitless. That is, until this week. While I was at work, he emailed me a simple recipe that sounded appealing to him early in the morning, which is completely out of character, but hey, if he’s hungry, I’ll use it! That recipe was for a “healthified” version of oven fried chicken with honey and chipotle. I decided to change it up a little though and create my own version.

For a side I made my absolute favorite veggie dish ever. My mom made it years ago as a trial and it’s ridiculously amazing. Cauliflower can be an easily over or under-done veggie with little flavor. However, this particular recipe is perfection. Hope you enjoy it too!

Tangy Cauliflower

Ingredients:

1 Head Cauliflower, florets removed

1/2 C Mayonnaise

1/4 C Sweet Onion, finely diced

1 Tbs Prepared Mustard

1 Tsp Dijon or other Hot Mustard

1 Healthy Pinch Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

3/4 C Freshly Grated Cheddar Cheese (optional)

Steam cauliflower in steamer in microwave or on stove* just until fork tender and set aside. Mix mayonnaise, mustards, onion, salt and pepper to taste in a large enough mixing bowl to accommodate the cauliflower.  Toss cauliflower in sauce and serve.

Alternate Method

The original recipe calls for an additional topping. Place the tossed cauliflower and sauce in an oven safe dish (I use a 9″ pyrex pie dish) and spread out 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese over cauliflower. Bake in 350 degree oven just until cheese is melted and bubbly, or about 7 minutes.

*I don’t have a steamer so I place my large metal colander in my soup pot over about 3/4 inch of simmering water and place the lid over the colander to create a makeshift steamer.

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Simple Beginnings

Welcome to my budding project. Starting a new writing project is a little like dating someone new after a long relationship; it’s hard to remember how to start back at the beginning. So maybe, I won’t start at the beginning, but I’ll invite you on the journey, and we’ll get to know each other a little more along the way.

I’ve been contemplating what it means to make wise food purchases these days. I scoffed at the idea of the high and mighty “organic” as much as the next Texan, but thoughts of the small garden I grew up with and the farms I see on the way to my in-laws’ ranch remind me of how much better it all is than my guilty pleasure of Velveeta Shells and Cheese. Maybe home grown and home cooked is still possible in life as I know it. Only time and well made decisions will tell.

Next up for this week: recipes and stories of the first home-cooked meal that made my husband say wow. I promise this is a seriously big deal; he doesn’t really enjoy eating for goodness sake!

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