A Chance to Redeem Myself in the Kitchen

After my recent baking failure, I needed to prove myself worthy of the kitchen once again. My precious ego had been hurt, so I’ve been crafting culinary masterpieces and stuffing my husband full of them to stroke that ego back into its place: way too high.

In honor of labor day, I thought I’d share a recent hit amongst the fam that is totally grillable, even if you’re lame and don’t have a grill…like me.

I give you:

Finished product with words

apron

First things first, you must start with a cute apron, because why not? This is especially if you are pregnant and your belly gets into everything on the counter. Ahem.

You will need:

ingredients

All of this! Plus seasonings, plus more stuff if you want. These are pretty diverse burgers.

step 1 turkey

Start with your ground meat of choice. I used ground turkey because it’s what I had, but ground beef would be delicious!

step 2 onions

 Next, chop up some green onions.

If I had cilantro, you know that crap would have been overflowing the bowl. We’ve talked about my cilantro-love, yes? Well, sadly I was out.

step 3 cheese

Grate up some Cheddar. I used the medium variety. Be sure and save some for building the buns!

step 4 dump

Dump it all in.

step 5 cream

 

Dieters, shield your eyes. I like to add a little drizzle of cream to my burgers. Just a little I PROMISE!

step 6 combine

 

Mix it all up.

Alright, Seasonings! I added:

season season salt

Season Salt

season pepper

Black Pepper

cumin

Cumin

onion powder

Onion Powder

taco seasoning

Taco Seasoning

parsley

And Parsley!

I promise I have a really nice spice rack, but you see, I hate refilling the little canisters, so I find myself reaching for the larger supply bottles instead. But it exists!

spice rack

See??

patty forming

Use some elbow grease to mix it all together and form those patties! I could have made 4 small ones, but there are only two of us right now, so I opted to make bigger patties and just have 1 for leftovers.

grill 1

Now here’s the fun part. If you have a grill, this is the part where you throw ’em on there. I am lame and don’t have a grill, so I use my handy-dandy grill pan.

grill 3

Get them all on there and grill on each side for about 5 minutes.

grill flip

Keep flipping them at that interval until they’re done to your liking.

Alright, let’s build those buns! you can do whatever you want, I’m not the boss of you, but since these are nacho burgers I added:

sour cream

 

Sour Cream

beans1

beans

 

Refried beans. Crucify me if you wish, but these are canned (GASP!)

cheese

More shredded cheese

chips

A few tortilla chips

lettuce

 

Top it all off with lettuce and you’re done!

Alternatives include: Black beans, pico de gallo, jalapenos, black olives, CILANTRO, and whatever else your little heart desires!

Finished Product

And there ya have it! YUM!! These were delish.

Love, Alex

 

 

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This Is Why I Don’t Bake.

 

pie disaster 1

 

I think  I’ve made my feelings clear on baking vs. cooking. I love cooking, like a lot. And I’m pretty decent at it. It doesn’t require that you follow directions, and it’s much easier to be creative. Baking, however locks you into a specific formula. It’s science, man, and I was always an English/history girl.

You may remember that pregnancy made my cooking frequency dwindle.  Because of the smells. And the effort. Recently though, I excitedly picked up the cooking again, and I dove headfirst. In addition to my cooking I have tried my little heart out to up my baking game. I made brownies and frosting and TRES LECHES CAKE from scratch, y’all. 

It was all fun and games until I got too cocky and went for the fried pies.

I made dough. (Successfully!)

I sprinkled flour and rolled out said dough.

It all went downhill from there until the remains of my project ended up here. Where dreams go to die. There are probably a few of my tears in there too.

Is it sad that one of my major concerns here is that I had to throw food away?  I mean, look at all of this wasted shortening. Those are the charred remains of pie dough and my dignity floating around in there.

pie disaster 2

I’m coming for you fried pies. I will conquer you.

Until then, want to come over and I’ll make you a wonderful savory dish?

Ugh.

Peep Crispy Treats…It’s What It Sounds Like.

BIG NEWS! I’m cooking again! Apparently the baby decided that I can be trusted to handle multiple food smells at once again, so I’m back in the kitchen in all my glory (Bryan’s words, not mine. Kind of.)

So I am not a big sweet tooth, which helps along the fact that I am not much of a baker. It also makes for a difficult time for my mother as she tries to find candy stocking stuffers and Easter basket goodies. Yes, Bryan and I both still get Easter baskets from both sets of parents and will until the day we die and JUST WHATEVER ABOUT IT.

Anyway. My husband, on the contrary, is a giant lover of all things sugary and dessert, but for some reason is not a huge Peep fan. This leads to lots of leftover boxes of Peeps after every Easter. I set them out for guests to take, but apparently month-old candy (candy?) isn’t very appealing. This considered, Bryan’s favorite dessert of all time is Rice Crispy Treats. He doesn’t like Peeps but he likes MARSHMALLOW treats. I don’t get it either.

Because Peeps don’t expire ever apparently, we decided to make the most of them by turning them into his favorite sweet treat.

NOTE: I was not paid for this at all by Peeps or Rice Krispies. I just didn’t feel like taping over labels and using vague synonyms for all of my ingredients.

I give you:


You will need:

The usual suspects: Rice Krispies (You could also use generic if you’re so inclined.), butter, a stirrin’ spoon, and salt, which is not pictured. Sorry.

AND: Peeps! I used purple also, but they didn’t make it into the photo.

The rest of these are ACTION SHOTS. That’s why they’re so blurry, duh. Not because I’m impatient or anything.

Throw some butter (like 1/3 stick) into each saucepan. Then dump each package of peeps into separate pots. It’s important to do each color separately because ew.

Next, throw some salt in there. You do this with regular crispy treats, but with Peeps variety it’s extra important because OMG so much sugar.

Goodbye sweet Peeps.

Next, stir them all until they are melted down. You can do this for each one individually, but make sure the others are on low or no heat while you babysit one of them. If you haven’t smelt the burnt butter/marshmallow combo, just trust me. You can also do what I did, which is make Bryan help me. They are for him, after all.

It will eventually look this like. NOTE: If you are a food color-sensitive person like I am, don’t use green Peeps. It will remind you of the Nickelodeon slime days.

PCT pouring

Coat bowls with nonstick spray or butter, then pour in some rice cereal (like 1.5 cups or so). Once your Peeps are melted, QUICKLY pour them over the cereal before they cool. Coat your spoon in spray or butter and stir stir stir!

Once it’s all combined, coat a pan in nonstick spray/butter and dump your concoction in there.

Press each color into strips. You can really press them in there however you want, but I chose to do mine like some sort of Easter flag. Again, I would advise against mixing them all together, because ew.

And there you have it! My husband has already taken out like half the pan. With a little help from my sister-a fellow sweet tooth.

I’m super excited to be back to my regular cooking schedule. I got giddy while meal-planning. I kid you not. I even made mocha brownies FROM SCRATCH Y’ALL. I would share the recipe, but I didn’t take pictures, sooo.

Love, Alex

Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe!

So we are now through the first snow week of the 2013-2014 winter season. “Snowtorious BIG” if you will. Like I said earlier, I am one of the few who seemed to enjoy it, and enjoy it I did! I love to cook, and this winter wonderland gave me the opportunity to cook my little heart out. I decided to share one of our snow day recipes from one of my favorite food groups: Asian! (Although I’m sure this is a pretty Americanized version. OH WELL.)

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Lo Mein Noodles!

Pretty Plate!

Pretty Plate!

Technically this is three recipes in one, so I’ll do chicken-sauce-noodles. I originally found the chicken breading recipe on Allrecipes.com. Now, I’m sure this brings my street cred down a bit, but don’t worry, I do lots of improvising in true Alex fashion. In case you didn’t know, my style of cooking is to measure very little. I mostly use recipes as guidelines or inspiration and then do whatever I want. LIKE A BOSS. (This is also why I suck at baking for obvious reasons.) It drives my family and friends crazy, especially when they ask for a recipe from me.
“This just says ‘add garlic.’ How much?”
“Uh, just some.”

You can easily tailor this recipe to serve however many people you need to. Just aim for a chicken breast per person and if you need more breading mix, make more breading mix. Don’t stress over the amount of mix you come up with, you’re going to throw out the leftovers anyway.

Cut your chicken breasts into bite sized chunks.

In a bowl, mix together 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp corn starch, some salt and pepper, and an egg.

Pat your first batch of chicken chunks semi-dry (you want few enough that they can go in a single layer in the pan). You’ll want to leave some moisture, but make sure most of the chicken juice is off.

Coat them in the batter. I’m impatient, so I usually throw the whole batch in the bowl and stir them around till they’re nice and battery. Grab ’em and throw ’em in the pan of oil you’ve been heating, like this:

Sizzle Sizzle

Sizzle Sizzle

Let them sit like this for a couple of minutes before moving them around so that the batter doesn’t fall off. After it looks a little more secure, stir them around to get the other side cooking. When you’ve used a knife to check if they are fully cooked (usually they are after like 5 minutes, but poultry makes me nervous so I still check), use a slotted spatula to remove them from the pan and dump them on a plate you don’t care about with a paper towl over it. Do this in batches until all your chicken is cooked.

Diet Sweet and Sour Chicken, of course

Diet Sweet and Sour Chicken, of course

Sauce!

In a sauce pan or small skillet, mix like 1 1/2 cups water, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup white vinegar, and pineapple juice. If you’ve planned ahead, you can get a can of pineapple chunks, use the juice for the sauce, and the chunks to garnish the chicken. I did not plan ahead and just used bottled stuff.

Boil it, then turn it down. Completely mix 1/4 cup corn starch with 1/4 cup COLD water. Throw it in with the sauce and stir together. Bring the heat back up and simmer until thickened how you like it. If it gets too thick, just add more water or pineapple juice.

Now, if you’re naive like I was when I first started cooking, you think that sweet and sour sauce just is the right color. No. It’s clear and nasty-looking. You have to use food coloring. I like my sauce to be on the orange side. Not flaming red. Not pepto pink. Orange. I use red and yellow to achieve the perfect color. I take pride in this process.

Look at that color balance. So orange. So not red or yellow. So not clear and gross looking.

Look at that color balance. So orange. So not red or yellow. So not clear and gross looking.

Every plate needs carbs. My motto. These lo mein noodles are sooo delicious!

First, boil up some noodles. I know you can get the correct noodles at Asian supermarkets, but I usually use spaghetti. They get the job done. I actually used angel hair this time because I had a ton of it.

You’ll want to get them just short of al dente.

Be mine, carbs.

Be mine, carbs.

Drain them, stick them back in the metal pot you used to cook them and stick the whole thing in the fridge if you have enough time, or, like me, the freezer if you’re doing this on the fly. Of course, you’ll want to make these either before hand, or during one of the other stages so they can be chilling while you cook.

NOTE THE ICE CREAM BESIDE THE NOODLES. Theeese are a feeew of my faaaavorite things.

NOTE THE ICE CREAM BESIDE THE NOODLES. Theeese are a feeew of my faaaavorite things.

Now, we’re gonna make a quick stir-fry sauce for these noodles. Again, sorry for the lack of measurements, but you’ll want to play with the amounts to fit your taste.

Most of the sauce of going to be soy sauce. Put a healthy amount of it on a bowl.
Add some (1/4 cupish) teriyaki sauce, garlic, minced ginger, Worcestershire (a few dashes), sherry (1/4 cupish), sriracha (to taste), black pepper, lemon pepper, and onion powder. Give it a stir!

Liquid Awesome

Liquid Awesome

Now, heat (like on medium high) some oil and butter in a skillet or wok. Throw some onion strips in there with some garlic. You can add cabbage or bamboo shoots or whatever floats your boat, but I am a picky eater, so onion and garlic it is. Stir it around until the onion is cooked.

Sorry for the blurriness, This was an action shot.

Sorry for the blurriness, This was an action shot.

Toss the chilled noodles in and stir them around to coat them completely and fry them a little bit before we pour the sauce in. If you need to add more butter, do whacha gotta do. ALSO, I usually break the noodles in half when I cook them, but this night I forgot. When I remembered in this portion of the cooking process, I used my wooden spatula to “chop” them at random.

Just, OMG. Give me a minute.

Just, OMG. Give me a minute.

Next we’ll pour the sauce in as we stir the noodles around so they don’t stick.

Drizzle drizzle

Drizzle drizzle

Pour all over to coat as many noodles as possible. This will result in fewer tired arm muscles later.

ANOTHER ACTION SHOT. I'm so action-y.

ANOTHER ACTION SHOT. I’m so action-y.

Keep stirring and make sure all the noodles are coated. Cook until the liquid is pretty much fully absorbed. Taste and season if you like. You can garnish with green onions, sesame seeds (yum!) or whatever gets you going. 🙂

TA DAAAAA!

Soooooooo good!!! Getcha some.

Soooooooo good!!! Getcha some.

Thanks for reading guys!