Monday, July 28, 2014

My favorite things...lately

Vegetti spiral slicer. I know this seems gimmicky but in the post pasta, low carb era of our house, I love this little Veggetti gadget. It makes zucchini into perfect little spaghetti. I mix it with one serving of real pasta by adding  the cut zucchini to the boiling water when the pasta is almost ready. Tossed with your favorite sauce and well,  that's just good eats. It takes 2 medium zucchini to make 2 servings.$family$
All Clad Skillet. I found this 10 inch All Clad skillet  at TJ Maxx in the clearance aisle. I believe they normally run in the $100 or more range. They had several and I watched them keep marking it down until it became an irresistible buy at $28 or so. Now,  I cook with natural gas and I have grown weary of temporary, Teflon coated pans with questionable quality and short lives. I was hesitant about clean up here but so far, it has never been an issue and I use this for nearly everything. It is just a balanced wonder and cooks like a dream.

Fiber Gourmet Pasta. I know I posted this stuff before and I can only find it in one store here in Omaha, but it's the greatest, low calorie, very high fiber pasta product that does not seem to affect my fragile blood sugar that much and allows me the occasional indulgence. They are stocking it in several varieties now including lasagna noodles and fettuccine. I am in heaven. 

Allison House Dressing. We have been in a bit of a dressing rut lately and rediscovered this tasty treat. I am not sure if it is sold anywhere but here since it is made in Omaha, but its just so good.  We usually lightly dress our salad with this then follow it up with a smattering of our favorite Blue Cheese dressing.  Just to mix it up a bit. Great stuff.
OPA! Greek yogurt Dressing. We are and always have been Blue Cheese junkies and love this brand (Litehouse) and even more since they make a tasty,  lower calorie version of our favorite flavor and cheaper too! Bonus!

Cast Iron. Since I moved to a gas range, I started using cast iron and now I can't get enough of it. I have grill pans, pizza pans and griddles and I am always eyeballing a deep skillet for frying but I am not a huge fried food eater lest I be huge so it remains on the shelf every time I see it at the store. Long lasting, easy care, pretty much non stick, cheap and versatile. Whats not to love?

What is your favorite thing? What makes you happy to cook?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Change isn't always a good thing.....

After attempting to alter my URL to make things easier, I found that I cannot edit all the page references and make it all work so I changed it all back to the original obscure URL that starts with icxcpainter.

ICXCpainter was originally chosen because I paint icons and the Greek abbreviation for Christ is IXCX. I thought it was clever at the time but now it is difficult to share the blog. Changes however are difficult to manage and after this attempt it is better left alone so I don't orphan all my posts. I use this as my own personal recipe book besides and I have my whole cooking experience to date here. Some of these recipes I just don't want to lose.

Sorry for the confusion. Back to normal.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

4th of July Feast

We had a few pounds of ground Lamb in the freezer and I was looking for something unique for the 4th of July weekend. Nick and Mackenzie were in the house as well as Jill. Despite my immobility, I wanted to try my hand at hamburger buns again. The first time were Ok but I could do better. It took about 4 hours to make the rolls most of rising time and it was well worth the effort and there was not much. I let the mixer do all the work and heavy lifting. I set the time for the knead at 7 minutes and walked away. What a difference! Bread is all about hydration and developing gluten and that long, mechanical knead produced a beautiful crumb and soft delicious bread.

Mackenzie also wanted a salad to use her figs and candied pecans. We used spinach and baby kale with a Balsamic Honey Dressing to die for.

1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
2 T Dijon Mustard
1 T Honey
S & P to taste

Now the Lamb Burgers are on the blog already so search for them. The rolls are as follows:

Hamburger Buns (8)

1 Tbl yeast
3.5 cups AP flour
1 c warm water
1 egg
3 T sugar
3 T melted butter
1 1/4 t salt
1 teas olive oil
1 teas Sesame seeds

Put yeast, 1/2 c of the flour, sugar and the cup of warm water in the mixer and whisk well. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes till foamy.

Add the egg, salt and butter, whisk well then add the remaining flour. I used the Kitchen Aid and mixed till it came away from the sides of the bowl. Scraped it down and then mixed with the dough hook for 7 minutes. Dough will be sticky bu not stick to your fingers.

Turn it out, clean the bowl, coat it with the olive oil and add the dough back. Cover and let rise till double. I let mine go a solid 2 hours.

Deflate the dough and divide evenly into 8 pieces.

I lined a baking sheet with parchment and placed the 8 disks of dough (turn under the balls till smooth on top) and flatten them slightly. I used the 2, 1, 2 arrangement of the pan. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until large and puffy. Mix and egg with a tablesppon of milk and lightly brush the tops of the rolls, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 375 for 15-17 minutes till golden.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Laid up and not cooking much

As many know I had a total knee replacement paying for the sins of my youth I guess. Since I hardly ate at all the first week and a half post op we hardly cooked last all. I have been in 'stir' for a few weeks now and itch to get out for as change of scenery. So far Brenda has let me go to the grocery with her. I have had a few cravings now that my appetite has come back of sorts. Still not a lot sounds that great to me but we whipped up some NAC and cheese today and are having it with the carry out wings we picked up last night. So far so good. Brenda has been making a most excellent Banana Blueberry Bread. Fantastic!

Banana Blueberry Bread
1 3/4 c flour
1tsp baking powder
1/8 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 c buttermilk
1/2 t vanilla
3 ripe banana mashed
1 c blueberries
1/2 cup walnuts (op)

Combine dry ingredients.
Cream butter and sugar.
Mix wet ingredients incl banana mash.
Combine  dry and wet till just mixed. Add blueberries and nuts. Mix well and pour into greased loaf pan. Bake 350 for 30-35 mins until pick comes out clean.

Brenda's seriously cannot eat enough of this.


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