Friday, July 01, 2011

Confessions of a foodie…

I am 100% okay with the fact that I will never be skinny.
Ugh, so… maybe not 100%.

Regardless, I am positive that my passionate love affair with my kitchen and the deliciousness that emerges from it will keep my thighs thick and my bottom wide, and there is not much I can do about it.  Like any true blue Southern gal, I love sugah and buttah and eat it wayyyyy more than I should. If you know me well, you know I love go cook, bake, and eat like a mad woman, especially homemade things, (ironically, we just watched the episode of Doogie Houser—it’s on Hulu and we’ve gotten addicted to it—when Doogie sets Vinnie up with Wanda’s “fat” -she was overweight, but still gorgeous, and by no means as big as they made her out to be!- cousin, so Doogie learns about women’s distorted body image and perception of food…) and if you read my blog with any regularity (hahaha…) then you also might have noticed the lack of many recipes or food posts. Well, time management between “me” things and “job” things is still a work in progress. Anyways, to make up for my immense lack of recipe sharing and food posts, I’m going to attempt to make a list of confessions… confessions of deliciousness I have made recently (and in some cases, not so recently, yet still documented on my butt and on my SD card), so hopefully, I’ll read this again in a few years and make them again, or perhaps someone else will get inspired. Enjoy (y’all)! …tee hee hee, Oh, man, I love me some Paula.
So, in no particular order, here are some recipes I’ve been hoping to pass along.

-Company Chicken
Okay, this is not so much a recipe as it is evidence of a well made product. I had a Pampered Chef shower before we got married and I got one of these:
1. I don’t sell Pampered Chef. No endorsement here.  
2. I’m not one of these “gotta have it” people. I rarely find something I just “can’t live without.”
BUT, you reeeeeeeally need one of these. It makes The. Best. Chicken. Ever. The flavors the stone retains just work wonders!
Basically, you just plop a whole chicken, and spices (and veggies if you like… sometimes, I add onion, other times, I go all out with potatoes and carrots, too) and a 1/2 cup or so of broth to keep it moist then bake. I bake at 375 for about an hour and then reduce the temperature way down to about 180 and cook for at least 3 more hours. What you get looks exactly like this picture I found online of a Pampered Chef cookbook:

It is 100% fool-proof and always a crowd pleaser. It’s soooo moist and flavorful. I call it Company Chicken because it is one of my go-to recipes for having guests over.

-Spinach & Mozzarella and Sausage & Cheddar Popovers
Earlier in the spring, Hubs and I went to Merlefest and stayed at a cute little bed and breakfast. Ms. Brenda, one of the inn keepers, did the cooking and kept us wanting more with all her yummy treats- including popovers she made us one morning. After I ate 3 (okay, maybe, like, 6), I asked for the recipe and she kindly obliged, making me a copy. She actually found it on the back of the packaging for the popover pan itself when she purchased it at Williams Sonoma. She made them plain and served them with (awesome) honey butter, but said they were easily adaptable.
So ,I got to experimenting and tried them in muffin cups to see if they’d work for breakfast for our day in Sunday School class. Worked. Like. A. Charm.

At the suggestion on the recipe copy, which mentioned serving with jam, I topped them with a little sweet blackberry sauce I whipped up to serve over a lemon pound cake earlier in the week. It was good, but I couldn’t help but want them more golden and puffy and savory.
Fast forward to Sunday, and I’ll tell you how they went from yummy to scrumptious. I decided to forgo sweetness and added in cheddar cheese and sausage in one batch, and mozzarella and spinach in the other, keeping Sheldon, our Sunday School class’s resident vegetarian in mind. I also filled the cups up almost to the top rather than three quarters of the way to get more of a pop-over effect, and I cooked them a little longer, getting that golden color on top I wanted. Divine! :)
Here’s how you make them:
1/2 stick of butter, melted
6 eggs, beaten
2 cups of milk
2 tsp salt
2 cups of flour
1-2 cups of cooked sausage or spinach
1 cup of cheese
Mix melted butter, eggs, and milk until smooth. Slowly add in flour and salt and mix until smooth. Add in the spinach & cheese or the sausage and cheese. Ladle into greased popover pan or muffin pan or use cupcake liners. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then 325 for 15, or until the tops are puffy and golden. Serve warm.
Sorry that I don’t have a picture of the improved recipe, but trust me, they are quite beautiful, and a very impressive brunch menu item.

-Chicken Tortas
In my obsession of Hulu, I started watching a lot of cooking shows, indulging since we don’t have even basic cable… I found a bunch of epiodes of Mexican Made Easy, one of those to minute recipe shows on Food Network. I watched the one where she made all kinds of Mexican street food, which totally spoke to me! I had visions of this…
… the streets of Mexico! I took those pictures on our Honeymoon, so I was full of nostalgia and and excitement to try the recipes. The one that caught my eye was the Chicken Torta, which was essentially a Mexican fried chicken sandwich with a twist. First, you make some chipotle mayo, (I don’t eat mayonnaise, but I loved this sauce!) using lite mayo and Herdez Chipotle sauce, chili powder, and a splash of lime juice. Then, get three bowls for breading the chicken, filling one with flour and a little salt & pepper, one with a beaten egg or two, and one with plain bread crumbs. Use a meat pounder to beat your thawed, trimmed boneless chicken breasts into thin cutlets. Dip each in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs until fully coated, then pan fry in some canola oil. Don’t turn to quickly, or the breading will come off. Once firm and cooked all way through, the tortas should have a nice golden color. Slice open your bread (I used French bread, but next time I’ll get something more authentic from our local Hispanic supermarcado). Pile on some dark lettuce, sliced tomatoes and onion, then add the torta and a heavy spoonful of the chipotle mayo. Add some crumbled queso fresco if you’re feeling extra special and top with the other half of your bread. Be prepared to bite into the most delicious chicken sandwich of your life. :)
If you want to see the Food Network version, click here.

-Mexican Casserole
With us getting ready to go to Mexico in a few weeks and my discovery of Mexican Made Easy, I felt like something Mexicany for dinner one night and played off of my MIL’s recipe, Enchilada Casserole for inspiration. I basically just cooked some white rice and mixed a little paprika and salsa to make it more flavorful once it was cooked. In a casserole dish, I layered round tortilla chips, my Mexican rice, rinsed canned black beans (No one likes the goo that they come in canned! Be sure to rinse!) and then corn, drained, of course. Then I added a layer of browned ground beef seasoned with southwestern seasonings like paprika and chili powder and garlic. Then I added a thin layer of salsa and cheese, topped off with another layer of tortilla chips, more cheese, and sprinkle of cilantro. I baked it until it was all melty and golden… maybe 20 minutes. It was great!

-Strawberry Lemonade Bundt Cake
Last week, I wanted to go over to my parents’ house and cook with my Mama. Just because. So, she and I whipped up some meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and such for dinner, and me, being me, HAD to bake something for our dessert. It’s like a compulsory itch. No avoiding it. So I just started throwing things in a mixing bowl. True story. And it was scrumptious. To the best of my recollection, here’s what I did.
-I mixed 2 cups of cake flour with a cup and a half of sugar, and blended in two heaping tablespoons of butter. And then I threw in another spoonful because I like butter. I resisted the urge to add even more. I added a tiny-tiny pinch of salt and three eggs, and then milk. I have no idea how much milk I added, just enough though to turn it from cookie batter consistency to cake batter consistency. Then I added a box of instant vanilla pudding to make it moist, and added more milk to keep the batter at a creamy, pourable consistency. Then, I added a handful of frozen strawberries I ran through the food processor until they were just tiny bits. I didn’t, but if I had had some strawberry extract and red food coloring, I would have added a little of that, too.  I poured my batter into a greased and floured bundt pan and baked until it was firm and golden, maybe about 30 minutes. I topped it with a powdered sugar/lemon juice glaze. Perfect summer cake. It was a hit!

I have more to share, but this post is getting loooooong, so I’ll save them for another day. Can’t wait to post these-
-Asian Pork Loin
-Coconut Candy
-Lemon Curd Birthday Cake
-Cream-cheese Filled Red Velvet Cupcakes
-Heirloom Tomato Pie
-Classic Cupcakes (I know, you ask, why? But, simplicity is sometimes a very beautiful thing…)

It goes without saying, I’ll add more as I find pictures on my camera or dog ears in my cookbooks. Smile

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