MIA for a little longer

I know, I know, I’ve been MIA.  I am currently packing up my apartment after living there for 8 years and I am not doing a lot of interesting cooking.

I can’t wait to move to my new place with SO much more kitchen storage including a separate pantry *GASP!*.  I can’t wait to start cooking there and for all of you again.  It’s going to be an experience, too.  Why?  I joined a weight loss group on a community site called Fitocracy.  My trainer has put me on a fairly low carbohydrate diet, but the protein goal is more than I have ever attempted before!  I don’t want to resort to using protein powder, but I am not sure I can do it without the addition.  I just am not a fan of eating all this meat.  And what’s gonna happen if I go vegetarian again?  I asked and he said that I wouldn’t be able to do that.  I might still try, though 😉

I will see you all in about a month with a post about actual food (or maybe just bragging about my new kitchen – lol)

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Chocolate Chip Pumpkin “Bread”

I have a confession.  I was going to post this today after taking in one loaf into work and letting you know how everyone liked it.  Sadly, I forgot to bring it into the office (facepalm).  Rather than wait another day, I figured I would just go ahead and post it.

I got it out of the King Arthur baking cookbook after eating some my old boss brought into the office a while ago.  I found it online here, too.  I don’t really count this as a bread.  It is more like cake to me, hence the quotes in the title

Ingredients
CPB_Ingredients

“Creaming” the butter and oil.  I am not sure how they get away from telling you to cream oil and sugar.  I guess it would work with shortening, but it does NOT work with oil.  If you decide to use oil, don’t spend too much time trying to cream it.  This is as close as I got and it started to separate soon after the picture was taken.
CPB_CreamFat

Add in all the liquid ingredients.  Well, it didn’t add the vanilla here, but with the dry ingredients.  That REALLY didn’t make sense to me, so I added it here.  I didn’t measure, I never do.  I love vanilla and think if there is extra, it’s a bonus.
This was also the point that I realized I should have used a bigger bowl…..you’lll see.  And, I switched to old school using a whisk.  It really spatters up at you.
CPB_LiquidsIn

Everything all mixed….see?  Juuuuust fit.  Also, don’t add more than one cup at a time.  It will take forever to mix it all in.
CPB_AllMixedUp

I forgot to take a picture before baking, but here are the glorious baked loaves.  Oh – see that little salt shaker?  Yea, I forgot to add it.  Don’t do that.  If you do – add some butter after you slice it.  Perfect excuse.
CPB_Baked

I love this recipe, but I always have to make sure that I have a friend to pawn one off on.  I am also taking the other one to work to share.  Can you guess which one went to the friend and the one that went to the office?  😉

Edit to add:  I think this is a record.  The loaf was gone in just about a half hour!!  I think I am going to have to take both loaves with me next time!

Um….how many boxes of pasta???

I was doing a little cleaning up and I noticed an unusual amount of pasta boxes.  I counted and ended up with 14 – FOURTEEN boxes of pasta!  And that doesn’t count the stuff I have in other containers!  I think I have a sickness.  Is there a meeting for pasta buyers anonymous?

So, I decided that I need to start cooking some pasta.  It’s getting chilly and it’s the perfect meal to be able to heat up the house.  Bear Creek makes a Creamy Chicken pasta mix that I just could eat the WHOLE thing easy.  I was going to go and buy it, but I thought “Huh.  I wonder if I could make it”.  I have never tried to recreate a recipe like this.  The only way I have ever tried was with another recipe – lol.  I didn’t take many pictures because I wasn’t sure it would turn out.  I do have some pictures for you and even something close to a recipe.

I had to think through how I wanted to make this and how I would get it the way closest to what the package is.

I started with a roux.  I added garlic to the butter to get some flavor.  The yellow glob is my version of bouillon.  I added that to kinf of ramp up the chicken flavor.
CCN_Butter

I added flour, but I couldn’t get a picture.  Next, I added the chicken broth VERY slowly.  I would add a little bit, wait for it to thicken up, add a little more, then wait, etc.
CCN_BrothAdded

I wanted to add some milk, but mine went bad.  I used powdered milk instead.  It is gross to drink, but I didn’t notice anything off when cooking with it.  I added the seasonings at this point too.  Parsley, salt and pepper went into the sauce.  I let it boil a bit on and off, but I was constantly stirring to make sure it didn’t burn.  I wanted a really thick sauce and this helped.
CCN_Milk

The original had carrots in it, so I took some of the pre-shredded ones I always have, cut them a little smaller and threw them in to cook.  I  turned down the heat and let it simmer slowly while I finished up the pasta.

See, because I made about 4 ounces of the mini pasta by Barilla, looked at my sauce and went, “Yea……that’s so not enough”.  I had to mix two different shapes which I hate doing.  BUT, I knocked out two boxes of pasta!  WOOHOO!
CNN_Done

Plated (with frozen fish)
CNN

Okay – verdict (drumroll please!!).  It was pretty good.  I couldn’t get the salt correct, but that was a small piece of it.  I actually liked the two different pastas in this.  I liked the carrots, but I should have put them in sooner so they had time to soften up a bit more.  I didn’t add nearly enough garlic.  I think there is something missing, but I can’t put my finger on it.  I think the base recipe is fine, but the seasonings still need tweaking.

Recipe: Creamy Chicken Noodles
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp Chicken Soup Base (I use Penzey’s)
Garlic cloves – I used about 1-2 tsp of garlic from Penzey’s2 tbsp flour
1 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth
1 cup skim milk
7 ounces dry mini pasta.  If a bigger pasta is used, you may not need as much
Seasonings:
salt, pepper, parsley

Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package and set aside

Melt the butter, garlic, and soup base in a medium potAdd the flour and saute.  Cook for a couple minutes
SLOWLY add the chicken broth
Stir after every addition and wait until thick to add more
After the last of it is added, let it thicken a bit more and add the milk the same way
Taste and season accordingly.  I didn’t actually measure the salt, pepper or parsley.  I just dumped some in and tested, dumped some in and tasted
Let the sauce come to a boil to thicken up even more
Add the noodles and mix

Optional
I added in some shredded carrots.  Other vegetables may be good, too.  I would think broccoli would work well.

Love in a skillet

Or Skillet Lasagna.  Same thing.  This was perfect on a grey day.  All I was missing was some crusty bread and butter.  And maybe a dog…..or a fireplace….even a boyfriend…..I need someone to do the dishes, silly

Ingredients.  I made a couple changes.  I used Turkey sausage instead of regular.  I have tried this before and it failed miserably, but in here, it worked.  I also just used regular tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes.  I am not a huge fan of chunky tomatoes and I forgot to get them the three times I went to the store.  I figured that was a sign and just used what I had on hand.  The original recipe used cottage cheese, but I didn’t want my grandmother to come haunt me, so I stuck with the ricotta.  One last thing – that onion?  Yea, I didn’t use it.  I cut it and the middle was ooky.  I used a slightly bigger one
SSL_Ingredients

after cooking the onion and the sausage, you are supposed to put in the other seasonings, then the noodles, then the sauce and water.  Yea, I got it backwards.  Damn noodles were on top.
SSL_SimmeringNoodles

Still worked though 🙂
SSL_Mixing

Three kinds of cheesey goodness!
SSL_Complete

This was graat.  Even with the mix up with the noodles, it worked perfectly.  I also used a vidalia onion instead of yellow because that’s what I had.  It didn’t seem to make much difference.  Honestly, I couldn’t tell it was in there.  I cut the parmesan cheese to only about 1/4 cup because I knew it would be WAY to much if I used a cup.  I love parm, but it is just so strong.  I didn’t want to overpower the whole dish.  I get little tastes of it through out the bowl which is perfect for me.  I can’t wait to try this with another type of noodle.  I did like the lasagna sheets, but they were a but unruly to try and stir when they were still hard.  Plus, it’s just not a noodle I have on hand very often (why do I keep spelling it noddle and firefox thinks this is an actual word??).  I think it will work as long as you don’t use the tiny pasta shapes.  Ziti would be good, but orzo would not work in my opinion.

Twice Baked Potatoes

I have never made these before, but I love them.  I stupidly decided to make these on a weeknight.  I was so hungry when I finally got to eat, I am not quite sure I remembered to chew – lol.

Ingredients.  I didn’t have any shallots, but I did have the freeze dried ones, so I went with that.
TBP_Ingredients

Hallowed out potato skins.  I used a combination of a spoon and a melon baller to get as much potatoey goodness out as I could
TBP_HollowedOut

Filling all mixed up
TBP_FillingDone

Used that to fill the potatoes while giggling since one potato had a crack in it and continuously made fart noises.  Yes, I am an adult, why do you ask?
TBP_FillingPotatoes

I went back over them and filled them even more with the filling that was left, then topped with the little pile of cheese and bacon there.  Why was there a little pile of cheese and bacon?  Because I didn’t follow the recipe exactly and thought the bacon went into the filling with the cheese.  Nope
TBP_ReadyForBaking

Baked!
TBP_Done

These were so good.  Here’s a little cross cut action for you.  Can you see where the potato ends and the filling begins?  I have dreams about that now
TBP_Split

I loved these.  Definitely not effortless, probably better made on a weekend when you have time, but definitely worth being made.  They were so filling, that one of them was good enough for a meal.  I even had some for breakfast.  If you think about it, all that’s missing is eggs – it has potatoes, cheese and bacon.  Sounds like a perfect fit to me!

A different type of comfort noodles

When I was growing up, my mother would make us some kind of noodle boiled in chicken broth when we were sick.  I saw this and it was a very similar recipe.  I thought it would make a simple side for a busy weeknight.

Ingredients.  Yep, that’s it.  The yellow container is soup base.  The original called for bouillon, but this was all I had.  It worked just fine.
AN_Ingredients

Done.  I don’t have many pictures because it was SO simple.  One pot, boil twice and cover for 30 minutes, stirring 2-3 times.
AN_Done

Plated
AN_Plated

I LOVED these noodles.  They are effortless except some stirring.  I think this may just replace my mother’s orzo and broth for when I am sick.  I ate on them for a while, but it does make a lot.  I would think it would go with anything.  Maybe some beef and gravy poured over top of it.  Oooh – that sounds like a good idea.  Coming up at some point.

 

Biscuit Pizza

I bought some buttermilk for a recipe that I never got around to making.  I never made it, but still had a bunch of buttermilk that I needed to use.  I came across this recipe a long time ago and decided to make it.  It was very simple to make and didn’t really take much time, but I was not a fan.  That will come later.  First – the pictures

Ingredients
BP_Ingredients

Dough all mixed up
BP_MixedUp

This is how I rolled it out without throwing it across the room.  Parchment on the bottom to make it easier to transfer to the baking sheet.  I used wax paper on top so I could roll it out without it sticking to the rolling pin.  The towel is to keep it from moving all over the place.  It worked pretty well.
BP_RollingOut

I still used my fingers to make it bigger, though
BP_ReadyForToppings

Now, start layering
BP_Sauce

Cheese
BP_Cheese

Sausage
BP_Sausage

Baked.  It looks over done, but for some reason my cheese always does that when it is on pizza
BP_Baked

So, back to the reasons I wouldn’t make it again.  It seemed a bit salty and it didn’t have the structure that I look for in a pizza dough.  I kept thinking it was going to break when I tried to eat it.  I didn’t really like the seasonings in the crust.  I probably would have preferred it to only have garlic.  I just don’t think biscuit dough is good for pizza.