Thursday, December 11, 2008

CEIMB - Cornmeal-Crusted Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille Tart

The Wiivers chose Cornmeal-Crusted Roasted Veggie Ratatouille this week. I was ever so close to not making this recipe-mostly because it sounded complicated and time consuming (after all it took up two whole pages in the cookbook), and because there seemed to be a number of ingredients which I didn't have. But...after hearing that this recipe was great, I added a few more items to the grocery cornmeal, whole wheat baking flour (???), eggplant, zucchini, know, pretty much everything in the recipe.
Well, the recipe wasn't as complicated as I first thought. It did however require a number of different steps -- and we all know how much I hate following recipes! I ended up substituting regular all-purpose flour for the whole wheat baking flour because (1) a 5lb bag of whole wheat flour was $5; (2) the recipe only called for 1/3 a cup of said whole wheat flour, and (3) what would I do with the other 4.99lbs of whole wheat flour. I'm pretty sure you couldn't tell a difference given the strong presence of cornmeal in the crust! I also substituted olive oil for canola oil.
The crust mixed together nicely. And I survived the flashback to the four pie crusts I made in my teeny-tiny food chopper at Thanksgiving.
The crust perhaps turned out a bit thin since my tart pan is 11". Also, the sides aren't removable so I was a little bit concerned about getting the tart out of the pan once it cooked.
Overall, I thought the ratatouille was great. It had a great flavor and the tart didn't fall apart too much while trying to get it out of the pan. Although I am not such a fan of eggplant, I did like it in the tart.

Oskar, who loves to be in the kitchen while I cook patiently watched the whole process unfold. There is a reason I call him Ratatouille!

In other exciting news Santa brought me a new dishwasher last week. Apparently Santa decided to come early (and also that I had not been good enough to get said convection range that I had put on my list to Santa). Thank you Santa!

Its so nice to have a dishwasher model that isn't as old as I am! Now if only the rest of my kitchen wasn't from 1975!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

CEIMB - Jewel Roasted Vegetables

Marie from A Year from Oak Cottage choose Jewel Roasted Vegetables this week. I must admit this is the first time I have ever even contemplated fixing brussel sprouts and beets. I had had brussel sprouts once before and I must say, they left a lot to be desired. My friend Melinda had fixed them for dinner so I kindly ate two, yes just two. Beets on the other hand are something I am at least familiar with. When I was growing up my dad would always eat pickled beats out of a jar. ...And once I had fresh beets on a salad at Highlands Bar and Grill. If you are ever in the Birmingham area - you should definitely try to get a reservation at Highlands -- or just go sit at the Bar and talk to the assorted variety of characters that frequent the place. Warning -dinner may cost you a small fortune, but its totally worth it.

But back to beets. I at least will eat beets. I'm not sure I would call us old pals, but I can tolerate them. Needless to say, on a typical trip to the produce section of the grocery store, I would steer more towards broccoli, salad, green beans, mushrooms, asparagus or maybe even squash - never to beets or brussel sprouts. Eww. So, much like adding squash to macaroni and cheese I was really going out on a limb fixing a baking dish full of brussels and beets. Thank goodness my good friend the carrot got to come to the party. And to really get wild I added a red onion to the mix of veggies. Excellent decision on my part!
Overall, this recipe was very easy to fix. Granted, the peeling of the beets would not have made anyone with the slightest culinary talents proud. While I am pretty certain I do not like brussel sprouts, the rest of the veggies were good. I will definitely make this again (provided I have a two+ hour of time open for the roasting!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Four Five Cheese Macaroni

This week's recipe of Four Cheese Macaroni was chosen by Mrs. Bethorama at Supplicious. I must admit, I was pretty darn excited about macaroni and cheese - especially a mac and cheese with so much cheese. Although the addition of the squash was somewhat bizarre, I figured that the extra liquid would help keep the mac and cheese all ooey and goey.

My verson of the CEIMB weekly selection is sponsored by Publix.
And thank goodness for Publix because that was the ONLY frozen pureed squash that I could find in the grocery store. While I was pacing up and down the frozen food isle in search for the lovely frozen pureed squash - for the briefest moment I contemplated making my own fresh pureed squash. Then I snapped back to reality and realized that a gal who works 60 hours a week doesn't have time to puree squash. So the hunt continued. And finally I located the treasured Publix cooked squash! I have no idea whether it was pureed winter squash, but it was pureed. Success. Granted, in the time it took me to locate said box of winter squash, I probably could have pureed my own - but really that's neither here nor there.

So, I started cooking but was briefly interrupted by the floor guy coming to measure my kitchen for new flooring. YAY! Stay tuned on that saga. Good thing boiling water and defrosting squash are much more patient than I am!
Now, on to the cheese. I must admit while I was excited by the four cheeses already in the recipe, I just couldn't resist adding more cheese. I had some gruyere cheese in the fridge, so I added about one ounce of it to the mix. After some elbow grease, I finally had all the cheese grated! However, I think something is wrong with my rationale on this one....

After the squash was defrosted, I added the milk, simmered as per the recipe, and then added the spices and the cheese. I didn't have any dry mustard on hand, so I used some of the Dijon I purchased for last week's oven-fried chicken. I probably added about 2-3 teaspoons of the Dijon. Oh, and I am so excited about my new jar of Cayenne Pepper. This jar is much much smaller than the old one. I wonder how long it will take me to finish off this puppy???

Well I finally got everything mixed together and added the sauce to the cooked macaroni that was patiently waiting in the baking dish.

Note-this is only HALF of the recipe!!! I decided against making a full recipe and freezing half of it for next week. However, I should have frozen half of the half that I made because this is still A LOT of mac and cheese. I added the topping and baked the mac and cheese for about 35 minutes in a 375ish degree oven. It still wasn't bubbling around the edges, but the rest of dinner was ready, so in the broiler it went. My oven is somewhat temperamental (ok, very temperamental), and its gas (which isn't properly calabrated), so using the broiler (or the oven for that matter) is always a bit tricky. Santa, if you are reading this...I would love a new convection oven for Christmas - Kenmore Elite, stainless steel, 30", gas, 5 burners. I put the mac and cheese under the broiler for less than a minute - probably more like 40 seconds - but the breadcrumbs came out of the oven looking more like burnt toast than breadcrumbs and cheese. Note to self, breadcrumbs and direct flames are not a good mix. (The result wasn't very pretty , hence no finished picture of the entire dish!)
Well after all this effort , I must say I was a little disappointed by the mac and cheese. I thought the squash overpowered the entire dish. And despite all the cheese I added, I could barely taste it. I also was not a very big fan of the texture. Perhaps I added to much ricotta cheese. I put about 3 heaping tablespoons of it in the cheese mixture. Maybe the addition of this much ricotta dried the mac and cheese out. Even the cats were not a fan of the mac and cheese. The decided to hide/ sleep as opposed to partaking in the fruits of my labor.

To accompany the mac and cheese I made a variation of the pork recipe on page 194 of the Food You Crave. The fresh sage and garlic on a thin cut pork chop was fabulous. I deglazed the pan with some chicken stock and made a sauce to go over the pork. Served with a salad, this was a well balanced dinner.

Thanks Supplicious for choosing mac and cheese. It definitely was not my favorite mac and cheese, but I am glad I stepped out and tried something different. Is it sad that my favorite mac and cheese is made by Kraft? Don't judge.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My first CEiMB Post!!!

Thanks to Lonely Sidecar for picking Oven-Fried Chicken this week! I must say, I was very skeptical about "fried chicken" in the oven. Afterall, I am a true southern gal and the only fried chicken I know is soaked in buttermilk, floured and spiced and then DEEP FRIED! Healthy, no - tasty - you betcha! But, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the finished product. Even the peanut gallery (the cats) were licking their chops after a bite of the moist and delicious chicken (hopefully the cayenne didn't give them too much heartburn!)

Well I am all about easy when it comes to cooking so I skipped getting out the food chopper to chop the crackers and cereal. Instead, I just loaded up a ziplock bag and went to town getting out some frustration. The chucky mix of crackers and cereal made for a nice cruchy coating on the chicken. I included the garlic, seasame seeds and cayenne in the breading. However, I emptied the jar of cayenne pepper, but there still wasn't as much as the recipe called for (as if I was measuring anyways!!!) On that note - I must say it took me about 10 years to get through an entire jar of cayenne pepper!!!

On to the wet ingredients - I only used one egg white since I was only making two pieces of chicken and I used coarse ground dijon mustard. I butterflied the chicken breast and then they went for a swim in the wet ingridients.

Well against my better judgment, I thought a salad plate would be appropriate for breading the chicken. Boy was I wrong! A broiler pan would have been much more appropriate given the mess I made trying to get the chicken coated. I'm sure the cats will be eating corn flakes/ crackers off the floor for days!

I baked the chicken on a cookie sheet and thought it came out great! I probably overcooked the chicken a bit - I got a little sidetracked watching the Biggest Loser on dvr!!! Is it just me or is anyone else shocked that Amy voted Colleen off instead of Vicki????? Big mistake on Amy's part!

But thats neither here nor there!

Thanks Lonely Sidecar for picking a great recipe. I guess fried chicken can come out of the oven! I will definitely be making this recipe again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some things just are not meant to be... making Oven Fried Chicken on a Tuesday night! After three failed attempts at locating The Food You Crave (for those who are curious or who are looking for this book, BAM at Brookwood, Jonathan Benton in MB Village and the Bookworm in Homewood are all sans cookbook). And I really haven't given up on making this chicken since I found the recipe online. Said chicken just won't be made tonight. As I say at the office, there's always tomorrow!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jumping on the Bandwagon...

Well after much proding and persuasion, I have finally decided to join a little cooking club. My friend Peggy of Pantry Revisited finally convinced me today to join Craving Ellie In My Belly (CEIMB). Two of my other co-workers, Cathy and Amanda have been trying to convince me for months that food blogging is better than sliced bread. So, we shall see.

So I un-officially named my blog today... Yes, I'll try to carveout some time for cooking each week. At least until I come up with a more exciting name for this blog. Any suggestions?

Now, for the real challenge of trying to actually follow a recipe --something that I rarely do. Why do I not follow recipes you ask? Well its not that I don't think that the recipe will be good, or that I get bored with such simple tasks as following a recipe (well maybe I do). For one, I am more of a dash of this, some of that type of person. I never measure anything unless I am actually baking, and even then its rare. Mostly though, I just get to cooking and my mind starts racing, and I start thinking of all the other things I could add to a recipe. Where is this kind of motivation when I am sitting at my desk trying to solve some bankruptcy crisis...drafting objections to confirmation...rejecting executory contracts...working towards world peace. Maybe I missed my true calling in life??? Bueller, Bueller.

So, here's to a fun food journey! Now, ya'll will just have to bear with me while I try to remember to photo my food before eating it!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Well my friend Peggy of Pantry Revisted asked about the kittens and I realized I had not posted any recent pictures. Of course there is Oskar's one minute of fame video below, but that doesn't really count. Here are some pictures of my little creatures.

Oskar cat napping
Oskar sampling my Sam Adams
The whole gang "helping" me work.
Tom being curious.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Crazy Kitten

I have a very silly kitten who likes to stand on his hind legs and beg. Perhaps he suffers from an indentity crisis and believes that he is a dog as opposed to a cat. You be the judge! Tom and Beasley do not even seemed phased by Oskar's little trick.

Enjoy. Sorry, the video is a bit dark.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Amelia Island

I spent last week on Amelia Island, off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. 3 days of bankruptcy CLE (boring). Four days of the beach and spa at the Ritz...Fabulous! Needless to say, I was sad to leave on Sunday.

Pictures from M &M's wedding

Sorry, I am a little bit late posting these pictures. Melinda and Michael tied the knot on Saturday, June 28, 2008 at Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama. Such a fabulous weekend!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My new family....

I'm currently the proud mama of 4, yes 4, solid black kittens. Given the not so dear feelings I hold for felines this has certainly been an interesting adventure. But, I must say, these are very cute kittens. Meet Tom, the Beast, # 2 (whose name may be Sylvester...or Felix, thoughts welcome) and Light Socket (also known as Wild Bill since he refuses to be caught and continues to run wild outside!)

Anyone want a kitten????

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Party Like its 1998...

So this past weekend was my 10 year high school reunion. For starters can I just say wow! Time goes by so quickly. Really, its ridiculous.

It seems like it was mere moments ago that Kristy, Angelia and I (was Sarah there too, or maybe Mandi?) were getting pulled over by the Lamar County Sherriff for being out "so late" on a school night. It was like midnight - 1am ish. Yeah buddy, not so late. However,now I would tend to have to agree with the Lamar County Sheriff - that was way late! :) Nevertheless, back to the story. The four (or five) of us were all crammed into Angelia's red Neon praying that the 50 didn't realize that we had a trunk full of toilet paper and were in the process of rolling houses. Ah, the joys of being seniors! Wow- was that really over 10 years ago. Yes, indeed it was my friends.

So, with the help of some liquid courage, Kristy, Sarah and I dutifully attended the reunion. Yes, it was awkard. Yes, I am glad I went.

Here are some thoughts that entirely summarize the evening (in my humble opinion):

1. I'm still not one of the cool kids. Fortunately, at this point in life, frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

2. Instead of a high school reunion, the whole evening could have been Andrew Ellard's or Emily Kent's senior party the weekend after gradution. Except the men were balding and most everyone was a bit heftier than they were back in the glory years of high school. No, really, it was just like a 1998, complete with a DJ and keg beer (what!).

3. I should have had a sign taped to my back saying - I'm living in Birmingham. No, I'm not married. No, I don't have any kids. I'm an attorney -because seriously, the conversation didn't get much farther than this with almost all of the people I talked to.
4. A certain someone's ever-so-large underoos/ crack still hang out of the back of their pants far more than is socially acceptible, even in Hattiesburg.

5. Thank god I don't live in Hattiesburg. The "cool" kids all still live there.

6. The weekend would not have been the same if Kristy and Sarah hadn't been there!

Oh, and for the curious among us, we changed cars and managed to get our fill of rollin' in before the night was over!

Dull as a Doornail

That's me. That's all.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My new desk chair...

is none other than a ballance ball. And I must say this thing is FABULOUS! It forces you to sit up strait (yay for good posture) and it works out your core all day. Talk about a good use of the 10 hours a day I sit at a desk.
And the comments, oh the comments, the punns, the ridiculousness. Because yes, everyone wants to try out my ball.
These are just a few of the humdingers -
"Uh, I think I just deflated your ball with my oversized me."
"I always knew you were on the ball, but I didn't realize you were actually on a ball!"
"I think I need more ball than you"
"Why are you sitting on tupperware?"
"I don't think that its appropriate office furniture"
"This thing (is it a chair?) is pretty awesome. It makes my butt feel good."

...see what I have to put up with every day at the office. And really, I love you people, but I don't want to know what makes your butt feel good! Needless to say, the entertainment value of what other people have said totally made the purchase worthwhile.