Sunday, February 26, 2012

Baked Cheese and Monster Trucks

This is a story told from two points of view, the first is mine that way you can get an idea of what I was thinking. The second is told from the point of view of... well I guess we can call it reality...

It was a pretty typical weekday evening, we were watching television, playing and talking, you know the regular hub-bub of a normal house. Somewhere in the course of the evening I started to doze off on the couch (I mean it was almost 9:00 what do you expect from me I'm old). Kris gave me a little poke and told me to go to bed, so I started to shuffle off through the kitchen on my way to the bedroom. As I was going Kris said, "oh, sweetie we spilled some Nesquick on the floor don't sweep it up, and if it is there in the morning just leave it."

So, I go to bed thinking about how sweet my wife is with her, "don't worry about the mess honey, I know you have a lot going on," sort of comment. When I get up in the morning my normal routine is to do the dishes then get ready for work but there is a big mess of powdered chocolate on the floor so I sweep it up and Swiffer the kitchen floor before I load up the dishwasher, then I go about the rest of my morning routine.

About 6:10 Kris sends me a text "you weren't supposed to sweep the kitchen!"

I put my phone away and think, "yeah but you have the husband of the year, I sweep and do the dishes."

Nothing seems odd until I pick Mr. Man up from day care. His classroom reminds me of any episode of Cheers, when I walk in there is a chorus of 5 and 6 year old voices calling, "Mr. Man, your dad is here" (yes, I really call him that). After the obligatory round of high fives, I help my little guy with his coat and we start to head out. As soon as we step outside he stops me and says, "DO NOT sweep the kitchen floor." I didn't think anything about the comment at the time, peculiar but Mr. Man has said some strange things before. When we get home our usual routine is to set him up at the computer to play a game and get him a juice while I run next door to get Miss Lu from the neighbor that watches her after school. So I start our normal routine with the question, "hey bud, do you want to play on the computer."

"No, I want to play with this!" I follow him into the kitchen and he points to a big pile of Nesquick powder on the floor. Now is a good time to start the theme music to the "twilight zone" I admit I am lost here, I shake my head to rattle out any hallucinations and walk next door to get Miss Lu. When we get home I find this...

It turns out that I didn't pick up on all of the details... here is what I missed in my fog.

Mr. Man tried to get everything together to make chocolate milk and dropped the can of Nesquick on the floor, then came into the living room crying because he was so upset. Kris told him that it was fine, we all drop stuff (heck once in college I broke 800 juice glasses in one day) we don't make a big deal out of it. He was still upset until Miss Lu got down on the floor and showed him how to play monster trucks in the spill.

Apparently Kris told me all of this as I was shuffling off to bed; I just didn't process any of it. Mr. Man was so upset when he saw the clean kitchen floor in the morning that he cried again and Kris dumped the rest of the Nesquick on the floor for him. She ran out to Target at lunch to get one of those under the bed boxes so Mr. Man's chocolate monster truck rally can be contained.

This is going to be one of those clumsy segues to a recipe we will call this my "apology for ruining your monster truck pit lunch"

Melty baked cheese sticks...

Take an assortment of individually wrapped cheese stick snacks and freeze them for several hours or overnight.

After they are frozen preheat your oven to 400 degrees, then put together your breading set up, there isn't really a recipe here but you need three dishes:

The first bowl with flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
The second bowl with two eggs and a splash of milk.
The third with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.

I don't measure these things, you really shouldn't either. When it is time to go take your cheese sticks out of the freezer and unwrap them, cut them in half them put them through the breading process. One at a time fully coat them in your flour mixture, then the eggs shake them off pretty well and roll in your bread crumbs and put on a baking sheet. When they are all ready pop them into the oven for about 8 minutes. Take out and serve warm with marinara sauce. I have to note that it is important to work with frozen cheese; you want the crust to bake before the cheese starts to melt then it is all contained in the breading!

These are great! Mr. Man and I gobbled them up while we watched the Transfomers. I liked the Mozzarella/Cheddar swirl best, it had a nice flavor and the textures were great together Mr. Man preferred the plain Mozzarella.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Eggdrop Soup

And then I got sick...

I didn't feel that great when I got up in the morning, eventually I realized that I was completely useless so I came home from work early and laid on the couch for the rest of the day, got up a little bit later and went to bed. The next morning I did the unthinkable... I called in to sick. I know it doesn't sound like much but in the past 6 years I have called in sick... well when my appendix burst and one other time but it was kind of a graphic situation and doesn't belong on a food blog.

So I spent most of a day lying on the couch again... I just realized... I am just a butt load of fun lately. I hadn't eaten since the morning before so I knew that I had to eat something. I made a batch of "feelin like crap soup", now there are some rules to any "feelin like crap food"

  • It has to be easy to make
  • It has to taste good (not too spicy but I can't do bland)
  • It has to be relatively healthy (not a good day for bacon wrapped anything)
  • Most important it has to be made from stuff that is already in the house... I am not going out.

Today's choice for "feel like crap lunch" was my take on egg drop soup, face it chicken based soup feels good when you don't. Plus I had a good bunch of the things I need in order to make it, here is how it went today.

Some (about 1/4 cup) cut up or shredded chicken
2 1/2 cups chicken broth divided
3/4 cup sliced mushroom (I used baby Bella's)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp grated ginger*
1 egg
2 tsp corn starch
A little bit of chopped parsley to garnish

Sauté the chicken in a 2 quart saucepan until it is done (or reheated) to your liking, add your mushrooms and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add 2 cups of chicken broth then soy sauce and *ginger. Bring all of this to a boil then turn heat to a simmer. Beat your egg in a separate dish, then stir your soup and add the egg a teaspoon full at a time to your moving broth. It should cook in ribbons as you go. Mix your cornstarch with the last of the chicken broth to make a slurry and slowly add to your soup to thicken just a little. Garnish with chopped parsley.

*I keep a frozen hunk of frozen ginger in the freezer so I can grate off a little.bit at a time and still have the "fresh" ginger flavor.

Ok folks this one rocked it out! The chicken soup had that comforting flavor with the addition of the soy sauce and ginger that just warmed me up in time for my nap.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beer and Coffee Steak

OK after this one I promise to stop the complaining about my work week but I have to get it behind my in order to move on...

My God! I had no idea what a fight my body would give me as the week went on. On Thursday morning when I rolled out of bed I had pains in places that I didn't know could hurt, sure all of the usual suspects were complaining (you know them: feet, knees, head, neck) I also had calves, fingers and I swear to God my hair hurt when I put my hat on. The next week was a little easier and I had a couple of days off on Thursday and Friday.

That is where this recipe comes in, I am going to admit that I took a moment to partake in as many indulgences as I could in this one meal. So on Friday I got Miss Lu off to school and Mr. Man off to daycare then came home and made this..

Beer and Coffee Steak and Eggs

Ok let’s talk about indulgence, you got:
Spicy stuff

Yes, if you look closely at the picture at the bottom of this post, that is "Monty Pyhton's Holy GrAle, it is tempered over real witches, says so on the bottle. This recipe is for two, I only made the one though nobody else was going to try this one, Kris HATES coffee and she was the only adult human that I could stand to be around by this time. Please other adult humans I know don't be offended, I was getting a little crabby and the voices in my head were getting a little loud.  My wife, though annoyed with me, can put up with this and even enjoys teasing me about it a little when my senses return.

12 ounces beer, one that makes you laugh helps
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Tabasco
2 boneless skirt steaks
1 1/2 TBS finely ground coffee
1 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Anyway this one you have to start the day before by marinating the meat (I like the flavor of skirt but it is a pain in the butt to trim so you decide) in a zipper bag put half your bottle of beer (drink the other half, and then maybe another) the Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco add your steaks and put in the fridge overnight. The next morning mix the rest of your ingredients together for a rub. Rub the steaks on both sides and set aside until it gets to about room temperature. While the steaks are tempering get the rest of your breakfast together. Throw some polenta on (I was out of grits) when that was done put the steak on the grill for a couple of minutes on each side when it is all done fry up an egg the way you like in and there you have it. Grab a cup of coffee, open a beer and turn on a Star Wars movie... and there you have the most self indulgent breakfast ever.

The rest of the day was the kind of day that helps me put things in perspective I took Miss Lu to Dance, she is so tickled with the penguin tap song (We get to dance with CANES!) here is her song. No that isn’t her dancing, it was the only recording I could find without paying, but it is such a happy song I had to share.

That night Mr. Man and I went to the Monster Truck Show! Ok I never thought I would say it but a monster truck show is a lot of fun... and look at that face!  We had a great time, and maybe I can remember to keep things in balance, sometimes it is nice to have a litter reminder.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cinnamon Apple Vodka

This entry is going to be two fold, to start with I have found a way to lose that weight that my Doctor has been bugging me about I will call it the new Subway diet.  This week we opened the Subway restaurant at work.  It has been an adventure to say the least, my days went like this:  Get up at 3:00 am throw dishes in the dishwasher, shower, shave etc... then head to work about 4:00 at 5:00 arrive at work and start the bread baking process, most days I had help but it takes about four hours in total. Around 10:00 throw some cookies into the oven then double check to make sure that everything is ready for lunch to begin at 11:00, work the line for lunch and train new staff as I can.  After lunch scurry around and get everything ready for evening, do some prep work for the next day and train staff, pull bread for the morning and leave work at about 7:30 pm for my hour commute home.


 I did this basic routine Sunday through Thursday then on Friday I had a day off, and didn't really do too much.  I got out of bed, took Mr. Man to daycare then started to watch a TV show and promptly fell asleep.  I woke up a little later, ate some chips and salsa and fell asleep again.  The good news, when I stepped on the scale this morning I was 9 pounds lighter than the previous Sunday, I suppose whatever gets me there.

 All that being said I'll start part two of this post, my friend that I have never met traveled from the other side of the earth to land almost literally in my back yard recently.  I had been making plans to meet Camilla and her family since the middle of last summer.  I went through about 200 menus in my head as the date approached plus I mixed up a batch of special vodka to go with the dinner that I hadn't quite planned.  While Camilla was in the area I sent her an email that said something along the lines of...

"I work this weekend and am really busy on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday but after Mr. Man's Doctor's appointment and before Miss Lu's vision therapy I think that we should get together on Thursday."  Somehow that didn't work out!?!  I am sorry that I was so busy while you were here...  Oh well maybe the next visit... 

The original plan was a nice family dinner then, getting to know my friend and her family and maybe a little booze.

I made an apple cinnamon infused vodka a week or so before, it was as simple as can be.  Into a wide mouthed one liter jar I cut up three gala apples that were nearing the end of their usable life and put  in three cinnamon sticks and and two teaspoons of brown sugar.  Dump a bottle of vodka in and close, set that on the counter for about five days, shake it up a couple of times a day.  After that time pour it through a sieve and into a bottle.

I like this ice cold, it has a warm quality to it and a nice texture and goes down really well, and as a warning it does have the kick of strait vodka so be careful or if you have had a week like mine just cut loose.