Cooking when you have a police officer in the family can be difficult! Even if you are fortunate enough to have your officer on a day time schedule the chances that he will actually get to eat dinner with you and the family are rare. My officer, Officer Hottie, works day shift but still doesn't get home until about two hours after we've eaten dinner so the meals I make need to taste good cold (as he is usually starving the second he walks in the door) and reheated (since I try to make enough to send with him to work the next day).


I hope you can find some meals here that your family will enjoy as much as ours.
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pizza

Who doesn't love pizza? This is a staple in our house, an easy fix for a busy day and waaaay cheaper than ordering out. This is a great meal that our son is even willing take to school the next day.

My fabulous sister in law gave me the sauce recipe; she found it on Recipe Zaar. This is slightly modified from the version she uses but not by too much. It is, in my opinion, a near perfect sauce. It is hearty and savory and thick and delicious. There is enough sauce for about two 12-inch pizzas.

For the sauce you will need ...

1/2 c chopped onion
1/4 c chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 small bay leaf
butter
olive oil


Melt about 1 T of butter and 1 T of olive in a pan over medium heat


Add your chopped veggies. Sauté them for about 3-5 minutes until they are soft and transparent. They will smell good and you will start to drool. That's about when it's time to add some other stuff.


Add the tomato sauce and paste and stir until it is all combined and smooth.


Add the spices and bay leaf. Then mix it all up, turn your heat down to low ...


Simmer over low  heat for about an hour. You don't have to simmer for an hour, but it gives the flavors time to get to know each other. Notice it is 3:37? I want my flavors to be BFF's by the time the dough is ready. So I started my sauce early.


While your sauce is getting comfortable, wash the dishes. Update your Facebook status. Make a cup of tea. About 40 minutes before you want to eat, get back to the kitchen to work on the dough. The dough takes minutes to make, and it rises while your oven preheats. You don't have to worry about making this stuff ahead  of time. It will take you 7 minutes to throw together, another 15 minutes to rise, then toss your stuff on top and bake it. Easy schmeasy.


For the dough you will need ...

1 1/4 oz pkg yeast (or 1 T if you buy it in bulk)
1 c. warm water
1 T olive oil
1 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp garlic powder


Mix the yeast with the warm water and let it sit for a few minutes until it is foamy.



Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil to the flour and garlic powder and mix with a spoon until the dough forms a ball.



This is as close as I can get it to a ball before I have to get my hands in there and finish the job.


This is how it should look when you finally get it to look like a ball. If you figure out how to do this with a spoon, you shall be elevated to the status of "Why are you even looking at this blog? You know way more than I do and are way better at it than I am."


Cover it with a dish towel and place it on your stove top while your oven preheats. Turn your oven on to 425°. My oven tends to cook low, so if your oven cooks hot you can probably get away with 400° or even 375°.



When the oven is done preheating, plop the dough onto your pizza pan and spread it out. I usually just smoosh it with my hands but if you want to be fancy you can use a rolling pin. Fancy pants.



(OK,  I admit to trying to use the rolling pin. It wasn't my night.)

Please remove the bay leaf from your sauce. Or the person who bites into it will most absolutely cry and dislike you and never eat your food again. So, if you hate someone, give them a bay leaf. Otherwise, remember to pull it out. 



(Aren't you glad I took a picture of the bay leaf, ready to come out of my sauce? I'll bet I just made your day.)

Spread your sauce and add your toppings. My kids love turkey pepperoni and pineapple. So that's what I get. No use in making anything special for Hottie and me when, let's face it, we like turkey pepperoni and pineapple too. But I like to pretend I made something with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. You can pretend that too.


Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the edges of the dough are brown and the cheese has started to brown on top. Delish. Yum.



And now ... eat. Enjoy. And yes ... the leftovers are good too. It's what Hottie is taking for lunch tomorrow. 

Click HERE for printable versions of these recipes

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mountain Bars

I think some people call these No Bake cookies, but my mom always called them Mountain Bars so that's what I'm sticking with. The recipe is simple and awesome and most likely you already have everything you need in your cupboard to make them. Officer Hottie called and said he was bringing home a treat for me so I decided to make these for the kids so that I didn't feel guilty for not sharing. Yes. I'm that selfish.

You will need ...

2 c sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder (I used dutch processed)
1 stick butter (8 T)
pinch of salt
1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c peanut butter (we like chunky)
3 c oatmeal (quick cooking)


On a totally random side note did you know that if you buy peanut butter that needs to be stirred you can store it on it's lid for a bit and that lessens the amount of stirring required? It's a neat little trick that took me way to many years to figure out.

Put the sugar, cocoa, butter, salt and milk in a large pan over medium heat. Stir constantly and bring it to a boil.



Thank you my dear for your help. Please please don't burn yourself. I would forever feel guilty.

Bring the mixture to a rapid boil.
Boil for one minute.



Remove from heat and add the vanilla, peanut butter and oatmeal.



Remember that you just removed this boiling concoction from the heat. Remember that even though it isn't boiling, if it touches your skin, it will feel like it is. It happened once to someone I know. It may or may not have been me. 

Spoon the mixture, ever so quickly, onto waiting foil, or wax paper, or a cookie sheet or wherever else you like to spoon hot chocolate mountains of goodness.



Um...how's that for a great shallow depth of field shot? Thank you. Yes, I did it all by myself.

Here is a lame shot of the pan after I was done spooning. I took it to show you that I used two spoons, one large one and one small one, to get the size 'mountains' I wanted. Using the scoop with the large, scrape with the little method I got 26 cookies.



Let the cookies cool for about 30 minutes or so, until they have hardened and stay in one piece when you try to move them. 

You can keep the cookies in an airtight container on the shelf, but I like to keep them in the fridge. I guess I like cold cookies.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this was my treat from Officer Hottie. So glad I didn't have to share. He got them from a local chocolatier who makes new chocolates everyday. The large one had a carmely filling. The shell had peanut butter in it, the truffl-y looking one had vanilla bean filling and the one with the pecan on the top was dark chocolate with pecans inside. I sat in bed with a glass of wine and savored every single one. I must admit, they took me to my happy place.


Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chicken Chili Soup

I feel terrible. I made this soup the other day with the full intention to take pictures of the process and then, in the middle of it all, I realized I hadn't snapped one shot. So, I hope you are able to make a soup, based on a recipe, without pictures to walk you through it. I apologize. In my defense, I was starving, trying to get my children lunch, trying to get this soup going and I had three young friends show up. I love having young mom's over because I always feel like they come over, see my children and the utter insanity and chaos and think "My life could be worse!", and go home happy with their one child. Anyway, these three gals were were awesome and so I was very busy visiting and cooking and pictures went out the window. Have I apologized yet?

You will need ...

6 cups chicken stock or broth
12 oz chicken breast, diced (it can be cooked, uncooked, or from the can. Whichever you prefer.)
1 15 oz can black beans, undrained
16 oz chunky salsa
2 T taco seasoning
1/2 c corn
1/2 c brown rice

Get a large soup pot and place it over med-high heat. Put everything into the pot. Here is why you can use raw chicken ... everything is going to boil for about 45 minutes so the chicken will cook and will absorb all the awesome Mexican flavors. Since I rarely have fresh chicken on hand, and I don't feel like trying to defrost the frozen breasts stocked up in my freezer, I usually end up using a can of chicken. Make sure to drain it if you choose this route. Get the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring every so often, and let it boil away for about 45 minutes, until the rice is tender and the chicken (if you used raw) is cooked. This recipe makes about 10 one-cup servings. If you are calorie conscious, it's about 2 Weight Watchers points per serving. I like to have mine with some cheese on top or to put a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese in and stir it around. Either way, it's good.

Oh, and this soup keeps really well and our kids love it. I started making it years ago when my good friend Melissa gave me her recipe. This is modified quite a bit from her original version but I never would have come up with it without her inspiration. Thanks Melis!


I guess I managed to get one picture taken. How's that for presentation? 

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe

Monday, February 22, 2010

Eating on the Weekend

I did very little cooking this weekend. And by very little I mean I gave the kids cold cereal and made a coffee cake for Cop's Wives Club. Oh, and on Sunday I made a baked potato salad, which was actually quite good and now that I'm thinking about it I probably should have taken pictures and put my recipe here. Oh well. There's always next time!
The reason I wasn't cooking or baking was because we had family stuff going on ... My brother, M2, met a great gal on Eharmony and she came, from England, to meet us and our family. Her parents tagged along as well. We spent a lot of time visiting, laughing, and most importantly ... eating. On Friday, Jeanette (girlfriend's mom) made us a most excellent Indian feast. I think we still smell like curry. On Sunday many of our good friends and family gathered to celebrate my M2's engagement to fabulous English Sarah. I wanted to share pictures of the food and friends and the visiting and the joy and the wonderfulness that was my weekend ...


The beginnings of chicken masala and chicken curry. Authentic Indian cooking my friends.


Getting the chicken masala ready to bake


The finished curry, ready to get in my belly



Everything's set.


Officer Hottie is one happy camper. Look at that smile. He hasn't even tasted it yet but he knows. I think with good food you do just know.


Uncle Leo looks a little freaky ... but don't we all when we are devouring deliciousness?


Fabulous English Sarah demonstrates how to git 'r done.


THIS is what it's all about.


And this too.


And a little bit of this.


And a lot of this.



Ok, he's just sweet.


Officer Hottie doing the happy belch. I still can't believe I captured this on camera.


My and my sister, R1. Love her.


See all the fun? See why I was busy not cooking this weekend? This is what life is all about. Food and loved ones. The best.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tacos and Shells

Tacos and shells? Seriously? TACOS AND SHELLS? That's as creative as you get?

Come on! Give me a chance! I gotta tell you, you ain't had tacos until you've had my tacos! Ok that's not even close to true. My tacos are sub-par BUT the shells...oh baby. This shell recipe was passed down from my mother-in-law and I'm pretty sure she got it from Hottie's paternal grandpa but I could be lying.

I'm not going to tell you how to make taco meat. That's pretty basic. I'm sure even college students can brown some meat and throw in some taco seasoning. The one thing uniqu-ish about my taco meat is that I usually add a can of drained black bean, 1/2 c of peas, 1/2 c of corn and a shredded carrot when I add the taco seasoning. It adds veggies for the kiddos so when they don't want lettuce or tomatoes on top I feel ok that they are still getting something fairly healthy.

Hottie's family calls these taco shells "Corn Tortillas" but they are larger and floppier than what a "real" corn tortilla would be. They are delicious and honestly, you will loathe the store bought stuff once you've tried them.

You will need ...

1 c whole wheat flour (all-purpose works fine too)
1/2 c corn meal
1 T chili powder
pinch salt
1 egg
1 1/2 c water


Using a wire whisk mix everything together.
The batter should be runny but not watery. You don't want it to be too thick or your shells will be more like pancakes. You can add more water if you need to.


Spray a little non-stick spray onto a non-stick pan and put the pan over medium heat.


Using a 1/3 c measuring cup pour batter into the middle of the pan. Then turn the pan a few times to get the batter to spread, trying to maintain a circular shape. Good luck with that.


(Wow...it's time to get serious about scrubbing my stove top.)


You will know the shell is ready to flip when it stops looking "wet" on top and the sides start to come up off the pan slightly.


Flip.
Now, here's the thing. The first shell usually gets messed up. I've been making these for nine years, and Hottie even longer than that, and almost every time the first one sucks. There's either too much spray on the pan, or not enough, or the batter is still too thick, or the heat is too high. Don't get discouraged if the first one doesn't quite turn out the way you want it too ... they'll get better!


Let it cook for another 45 seconds before you remove it from the heat.


Put it inside a kitchen towel to keep it warm while it waits for something fabulous to fill it up.


Now come on. Isn't that a good looking taco? These shells are awesome. They are a little bit flimsier than their cardboard counterparts you'll find at the store so they can frustrate young children, but as long as you don't overfill them you should be ok. How do I know? Here's my proof ...


Click HERE for a printable version of the recipe.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Poached Eggs

Good morning to you all! (all two of you!)

I feel the need to apologize to Officer Hottie. Since I have decided to do a food blog in addition to my other one I've been snapping pictures of him sitting at the table, eating, going for seconds, loading the dishwasher ... I'm starting to get a look.

At the beginning of the year Hottie and I decided it was time to begin losing weight and we followed Weight Watchers for a bit. I have since deviated a little and am following something closer to a hypoglycemic diet (low sugar, high fiber) but Hottie is still going the WW route and breakfast remains a challenge for both of us. Breakfast has always been a difficulty for me since I don't like a lot of typical breakfast-y type foods. There's something about the texture of oatmeal that gives me the shivers and I probably should see a therapist for my issues with eggs. Cereal doesn't keep me full very long, pancakes aren't much good without syrup, which is too sugary ... suffice to say, I'm a fairly high maintenance breakfast eater.

For some reason, though, I love poached eggs. They are close to food perfection. They are good on their own, they good smothered in hollandaise sauce, they are good with toast. I have yet to see a poached egg that I wasn't willing to devour. For another unknown reason, it took me until 30 years of age to learn how to make them. But it has almost resolved our breakfast dilemma as we've come up with a WW, and hypoglycemic, friendly breakfast that we both enjoy and can eat on a regular basis. Here it is!

You will need ...


(Please excuse the paper towels and camera case in the background. Remember...I'm still new to this!)
One half of an Orowheat sandwich thin (or whichever kind of bread/toast you prefer)
One Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese wedge
One egg
Sriracha hot sauce

To start you need to fill a small pan about half full of water and place it over Med-High heat.



Get it to a rolling boil



Place the egg into a measuring cup. Be careful not to break the yolk.



Once the water is at a rapid boil, gently lower the measuring cup until it is just touching the water and gently put the egg into the water. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes depending on how yolk-y you like it.


Once it's in, it looks kind of funny. A little like snot. But that's ok.



While the egg is poaching, toast your bread then spread the Laughing Cow cheese on and then ... add Sriracha. Have you ever had this stuff? I've seen it at Teriyaki places and was never brave enough to try it. Hottie found it at Wal-Mart while we were Christmas shopping. He convinced me to taste it and I'm hooked. Utterly and totally hooked. It's spicy and garlic-y and kind of sweet, all at the same time. Don't be afraid to try it. Unless your spouse doesn't eat any ... and then they won't want to kiss you and your nasty spicy garlic breath. Oh, and this is important ... don't forget to make it pretty. Aesthetics are everything.



There is always foam. Egg foam. It's gross ... at least it smells gross. It's smells like eggs. I know, weird. The foam is harmless. I hope.


When the 2-3 minutes is up, and the water is sufficiently foamy, use a slotted spoon to scoop the egg out of the water.


Put that puppy on top of your bread, cheese and Sriracha.


I'm drooling. And I just finished eating this. I think I should make another.


Look at that. Poached egg perfection.

If you are wanting to know, this is a 4 point Weight Watchers breakfast. It keeps Hottie full until lunchtime (he usually gets two eggs). Try it ... I think you'll like it!