Tag Archives: Food

Comfort Food

I should probably change the name of this thing to “a brit indifferent”, that’s how I’ve been feeling lately about blogging, especially after my long(-winded) post disappeared.

I’ve been keeping busy otherwise, specifically with trying out new recipes.  It seems all I do these days is try something new.  I think with the never-ending nasty weather, I just have to have something comforting.  Last night, it was Chicken Tortilla Soup.  It’s true, I’d never made it, but I found a great recipe.  If I have to offer one piece of advice it’s this: make sure your tortilla chips are still in the cupboard before you start; it’s not just a cleverly-named soup.

I can’t lay claim to this recipe, I found it at recipezaar, but here it is in its glory.
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1 (46 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie from the deli is fine)
2 anaheim chilies, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
3-4 large tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp minced cilantro
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp chipotle pepper (optional)

Garnish
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, pulled from stem
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 cups crushed tortilla chips

Directions
-Throw everything except the garnishes in your crock pot and let it cook on high for 5-6 hours.
-Dress with garnishes and give it a squeeze of lime (a must:-) and you’re good to go!
-Enjoy!
-If you are not using a crock pot, sauté the garlic and onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil before adding the remaining ingredients.
-Simmer for at least an hour so that the flavors mix together.

**  I only used 1 tsp pepper, and not quite a tsp of salt.  I used Monterey-Jack cheese on mine.  You can also see from the photo that I took the time to delicately shred the chicken like it said in the directions pahahaha!  I also accidentally picked up serrano peppers instead of anaheim, but it was still really good.

Jif Lemon Day!

If  you are American, today is Mardi Gras.  If you are Catholic, today is the day before Lent.  If you are British, today is Shrove Tuesday, better known as Pancake Day!  OK, technically the same as Shrove Tuesday, but let’s skirt over technicalities here.

I have often wondered why I have never heard the term ‘Shrove Tuesday’ here.  Wikipedia set me straight:

Shrove Tuesday is a term used in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia for the day preceding the first day of the Christian season of fasting and prayer called Lent.

The word shrove is the past tense of the English verb shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of confession and doing penance. Thus Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the shriving that English Christians were expected to do prior to receiving absolution immediately before Lent begins. Shrove Tuesday is the last day of “shrovetide”, somewhat analogous to the carnival tradition that developed separately in countries of Latin Europe. The term “Shrove Tuesday” is no longer widely known in the United States outside of Liturgical Traditions, such as the Lutheran, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic Churches.  Because of the increase in many immigrant populations and traditions since the 19th century “Mardi Gras” is much more widely-used.

The festival is widely associated with the eating of foods such as pancakes, and often known simply as Pancake Day, originally because these used up ingredients such as fat and eggs, the consumption of which was traditionally restricted during Lent.

Like most other traditions (like how Americans eat corned beef on St. Paddy’s Day, even though the Irish never have.  When the great famine occurred and they fled Ireland and landed in America, bacon was too expensive to eat with their cabbage  — known as Bubble and Squeak, btw — so they adopted the Jewish tradition of eating the beef instead.  Never let it be said you don’t learn something when you come here), protocol is dropped, and regardless of your religious affiliation or not, everyone makes pancakes for dinner tonight.

Pancakes aren’t just looked upon as a breakfast staple in the UK, in fact, you can eat pancakes anytime you want, and you don’t even have to give the excuse of having ‘breakfast for dinner’ to do it either.  I used to love stopping by the local bakery on my way to work, and ask for a buttered pancake.  It was such a good treat.

Growing up, my mum made two types of pancakes, the thinner, more crepe-like version (served with sugar and (jif) lemon juice), and the other hockey-puck thick version.  My mum’s are much sweeter than my husband is used to.

n.b.  my mum uses a coffee/tea mug to measure out the ingredients.  Aye, I know.  So, when I say cup, I mean MUG.

Pancakes

1 cup sugar
4 – 4.5 cups of flour
pinch of salt
pinch of baking powder
3 eggs
20 fl. oz milk (a British pint)

Combine everything in a large bowl, adding the flour last, gradually.

Makes: emm . . . a lot.

Here’s a great recipe for crepes:

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine flour, milk, eggs, and oil.  Add salt.  Heat a lightly greased 6 inch skillet; remove from heat.  Spoon in 2 Tbsp batter; lift and tilt skillet to spread evenly.  Return to heat; brown on one side only.  To remove, invert pan over paper towel.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Fill with your favourite filling.

Makes 7.

Dishing it Out

**UPDATE**

BurghBaby is having a one day only contest with loads, oodles, an outrageous amount of prizes.  Back on the anniversary of the attacks, she very generously decided to donate all of the revenue from September to the Sept 11th Fund.  The revenue is accumulated through page clicks, so go do your bit for society and use your mouse!  And, all you have to do is comment and win a chance to get some great prizes, whilst helping out a very worthwhile charity.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Yesterday I awoke to a lovely brick-in-my-stomach feeling and had to cancel any and all plans I had.  I wandered around aimlessly throughout the day, just wishing I could throw up so I would finally feel better.  It never happened.  That.  End.  And don’t you just love it that even though you’re sick to the gills (and your husband is on shift), you still get to chase after toddlers brandishing plungers and huge wads of sopping wet toilet paper; all the while, your pre-schooler is experimenting with ways in which to permanently maim your puppy?  It’s fabulous.

Anyway, since I am still not feeling 100%  — I’m not even fair to middlin’ —  and can barely conjugate sentences, what better time to talk about food than now?  At least I can eat again, so that’s a relief.  I love eating.  Most of you will remember I posted a Thursday Thirteen on some of my favourite dishes to make.  You may also recall I said:

If you are interested in any of the recipes, let me know and I’ll definitely oblige. Maybe you could even return the favour…?

Yeah, I’m a deadbeat blogger.  I didn’t deliver.  So, I am hereby going to redeem myself by posting all of the recipes people made comments about.  I have transferred them in Google Docs and published it online, so if you want it, all you have to do is click and hit print.  Fancy!

1.  Macaroni and Cheese
2.  Beef or Chicken Enchiladas
3.  Barbecue Cups
4.  Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
5.  Hot Crab Meat and Artichoke Dip
6.  Thai Chicken Curry

and two not on the list:
7.  Shepherd’s Pie
8.  Margarita Bars

I never grew up with a crock pot or slow cooker, in fact, my Mum didn’t get one until long after I’d moved out.  I’ve used my 6-quart model quite a bit recently, but, my quest this autumn/winter is to find some glorious recipes that I can just throw together and be done with.  If you know of any great ones, nod me in the right direction, would ya?

Now if you’ll excuse me, the comfy chair and a tartan wool blanket are calling my name.

TT: Thirteen Favourite Dishes

There’s nothing like sitting in a dentist’s chair for three solid hours to turn your mind to food (or anything other than the procedure for that matter). I think it’s no secret that I love to cook, specifically from scratch. I don’t indulge every night, I’m not that crazy, but over the years I’ve garnered some favourite things to make, all from different sources. If you are interested in any of the recipes, let me know and I’ll definitely oblige. Maybe you could even return the favour…?

1. Macaroni Cheese – Mum’s recipe (from somewhere)
Made with sautéed onion, sharp cheddar, bacon and Coleman’s English mustard.

2. Meatloaf – an adaptation of my Mum’s recipe
Made with green pepper, beef bouillon (stock cube) and tomato paste (in the mixture).

3. Mexican Style Rice – Rachael Ray
Love this, it’s filling and oh, so addictive. Plus, you can use this recipe to stuff peppers. Very versatile.

4. Barbecue Cups – from a friend
Minced beef in a rich barbecue sauce, nestled in a biscuit base, and topped with grated cheese and baked to yummy goodness. Quick, easy and delicious.

5. Beef-a-roni – Friend’s Mom’s recipe
One of the few casseroles I actually make. My Mum has her own version too.

6. Spaghetti Bolognese – Mum’s recipe from an Italian cookbook
Another old favourite, it never gets old.

7. French Bread Pizzas – Got the idea from a friend
Buy the French loaves from the wheeled metal rack at Wal-Mart that they display near the entrance. Start with a pizza sauce and top how you like. Finish it off in the toaster oven.

8. Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole – Mother-in-law’s recipe
Creamy, tangy and very filling. I love this.

9. Cranberry, Apple and Sage Stuffing – Robert Irvine
Okay, so technically not a main dish, but I’d make it one if you’d let me. It feeds twelve comfortably, but I’m not afraid of leftovers.

10a.  Hot Crab Meat & Artichoke Dip – Got this from a SIL who got it from her boss
Rich, spicy and very addicting. (And since this is a dip, here’s another great one:)
10b.  Baked Artichoke-Spinach Dip – Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
Total crowd pleaser. Served with crusty bread or crackers.

11.  Beef/Chicken Enchiladas – Old Internet Friend
Although the prep time is a little longer than usual, it’s worth it. So good. I also make my own chili verde enchiladas with a different recipe.

12.  One-Pan Sage and Onion Chicken and Sausage – Nigella Lawson
This dish makes you look like a domestic goddess with very little time spent in the kitchen. It’s very tasty and so easy and hassle-free to make. All the prep is done 24-48 hours before, and all you have to do is bang it in the oven. No one will ever know you didn’t spend hours in there.

13.  Thai Chicken Curry – Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
Oh my, the first time I made this, I almost creamed it all off in the pan. I love, love this–and, you can control how hot you want it too. Excellent dish.

* * * * * * * *

Speaking of eating–get this: I got an e-mail from Bryan at work two days ago. He occasionally sends me work e-mails that I might find of interest: a colleague is pregnant, the Summer or Hallowe’en party plans, movie day…

This one mentioned that their new cafeteria was almost completed (they completed HUGE facility construction and remodelling changes about 6 months ago) and it needed a name. I read through it, mostly with half-eyed indifference. I am sure you could have heard me heave “blah, blah, blah” from your place. That was, until I got to this part:

“…As part of the preparation for opening, we are going to be holding a fun competition: Name Your Cafe! Please place your ideas in the suggestion box on the first floor of building 14 by 12 o’clock noon on April 18th! Grand prize will be the iPod Touch pictured below and 10 free meals at our new Cafe! In addition…”

Wah-wah-wah-WHAT?!  iPod Touch-whosey-who??  I read it again.  Holy cow, I love this company!  It’s a huge, multi-national company, but due to the 200+ employees at the site, it has a small company, intimate feeling.

I have made it my mission to get my creative juices flowing and I think I have some really good ideas. That iTouch is mine ours.  There.  Is.  No.  Competition!

P.S.  I promise I’ll get to that WOTW.

Pint-Sized Goals

Ian still doesn’t know yet, but he has a New Year’s resolution aspiration. I haven’t told him, and quite frankly, I don’t think I’ll bother. For a year-and-a-half I have pandered to and abetted in a lifestyle I don’t approve of. Somehow the proverbial arm got twisted up my back and I have adapted a little too easily to life with the use of the remaining appendage. At three-and-a-half, I don’t think it’s too early to set goals and keep them. It’s a life skill, and who am I to get in the way of that(?)

I’ve decided to put my size-8-thanks-to-my-last-pregnancy foot down and grow a back bone; well, one that doesn’t bend as much anyway. I’m tired of him preferring a chef’s concoctions over mine, it’s despicable and down right rude. So, Chef Boyardee, your days are gone. I have been quietly phasing you out over the past three months and I am happy to say, you’re gone! We used the last tin of you last week and–he didn’t even finish it.  We didn’t use your services all that much, but enough to get my knickers in a twist.

So far, we have dabbled with (and consumed) pork, chicken-flavoured rice, corn (that’s HUGE!), braised beef, real mashed potato, egg (salad) sandwiches, black beans, pistachio and cashew nuts. And I’m not done yet.

There are occasions, like last night where I pandered to my own taste buds, because I can. I could feel myself hitting this rut and I didn’t want to go near it. So, I looked up chicken breast recipes on a popular recipe sharing website and found the top hit: Bourbon chicken. It is also bourbon-free! Yes, it is just a clever name. It is reminiscent of Teriyaki chicken with a Chinese red chili chicken back-hander. It is amazingly tasty. Ian didn’t have any…

Prep. Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins

2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 tsp ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
5 ½ tbsp soy sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.  Remove chicken.  Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium Heat until well mixed and dissolved.  Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Serve over hot rice and ENJOY.

You can thank me later.

Time Keeps on Ticking

If I said I was worried, I’d be lying. I’m petrified.

Christmas around my Mum’s house is a feeding extravaganza.

1. Prawn Cocktail: shrimp, served on a bed of lettuce, chopped tomatoes and cucumber served with a helping of Thousand Island Dressing.
2. Homemade Lentil Soup: made with a ham hough, cooked in a pressure cooker and served with fresh crusty French bread.
3. Turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, two veg, roast potatoes, mash potatoes, chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon and a big helping of stuffing.
4. Trifle.
5. Black Forest Gateau or a Pavlova of some sort.
6. After Eight Mints.
7. Crackers and Cheese.
8. Death by Consumption.

You could say it’s a lot like Thanksgiving here. Thanksgiving at my MIL’s is very similar: a huge Turkey dinner with all the trimmings, sides galore and more food than people. Consequently, a combined contribution between both of them could feed a small African country.

Here is my dilemma: I have never cooked Thanksgiving dinner. Ever. Thanksgiving is not a holiday that we have in the UK. We go from Hallowe’en straight to Christmas. Stores put their Christmas decorations up mid-October and Christmas jobs begin around the same time. This is my eleventh Thankgiving and the very first one we are spending as a family, but with no other family around. You may recall we returned to Utah last year to celebrate with Bryan’s family, and on the return journey, spun off the road and lived through a small nightmare. We decided against that this year (especially with the baby) and have opted to stay put this holiday season. So, with that brings the pressure of cooking a Thanksgiving dinner.

Now, I am no stranger to cooking, in fact, I am a total foodie. My cookbook collection expanded by seven books just this year alone. What scares me is the food sychronisation, timing, if you will. I’m totally intimidated by a clock.

I have one week to get my act together.

6 Weird Things About Me

Because, quite frankly, I have nothing better to do. And nothing left to clean.
People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you are tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog. No re-tagging.
1. If a room has two or more light switches, and one of them is in the OFF position but it’s actually on, I’ll walk over and change the other one to fix it. There are four light switches for our kitchen, all for the same spotlights. Imagine the stress for me there.
2. I hated Barbie as a kid and never, ever owned one. She was unappealing to me because I thought her face was too skinny and long. The smug grin probably didn’t help much either.
3. Food:- Even though I am definitely from Scotland, I can’t stand the smell, texture or look of porridge. In fact, the smell of warm/hot milk physically makes my stomach heave. Even thinking about it makes me want to throw up a little bit.- I hate liver, but love pâté.- I love any kind of potato any way, except sweet potatoes. Get them away from me.
[These are cultural preferences and have nothing to do with just specifically me, but since I live in the States it’s looked on as weird, and therefore I feel I should give it some sort of homage, even though to me it is perfectly normal. Or not normal. Respectively.]

– French Toast to Brits is a savoury dish, and therefore does not involve vanilla flavouring in the egg mixture or icing sugar on top with jams/syrups. We eat it with ketchup. That includes me. And yes, I’ve tried it the other way. I’ll stick with the ketchup, thanks.

– The thought of putting maple syrup on my sausages, eggs and bacon is so vile and nasty. No. No. And no.

4. I have 4 crease lines on my left pinky and three on my right. There’s absolutely no reason for it.

5. I don’t like carrying a handbag unless I really have to. I’ve favoured my jeans/trouser pockets so many times, and still do.

This preference was escalated when after arriving at the Spokane airport in August and leaving the car we’d hired behind, we headed to the check-in desk at the other end of the terminal. When we were about 20 feet from the desk I thought to myself, ‘ok, I need my ID. Where’s my bag?!’ I felt the blood drain from my legs. It was under the front seat of the car where I’d stashed it for safety reasons so I wouldn’t have to walk around with it if I didn’t want it. (Note: my bag held my British passport AND my Greencard. Major stress.) The old man at the desk didn’t ‘get it’ and wouldn’t phone the Enterprise desk for us to make sure the car went nowhere while Bryan ran all the way back to retreive it. As he got up to the desk they practically stopped everything because they knew something was wrong. The guy at the desk radioed out to the car attendants who stopped the guy in the Chevy HH from driving away. A close call, but I still don’t like my handbags.

6. I’m not a huge milk drinker unless I am pregnant. Then we have to buy 2 gallons at a time to feed my habit.

I’m not tagging anyone, mainly because everyone has already done it.