Thursday, March 29, 2012

No new recipes, just chocolate cake

I went to the grocery store yesterday to buy chocolate, and only chocolate, for this cake recipe. I have Molly's book -- A Homemade Life -- and the recipe is in there, too. So, I'm not sure what took me five years to make it, but man, I am an idiot.

If I was smart, I would have just tried it first thing. I encourage you to do that right now. Go get your chocolate, and don't waste any time!

I baked this in what must be a 10-in. round cake pan, and it baked in 20 minutes flat. Which was great, because I had a craving that would not be tamed. I had to bring the rest into work to avoid temptation.

I'd post a picture of the finished product, but I think it's all gone now. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Barley

Why is it that when I plan a meal for a night I'm not going to be home, it always turns out well?? I had a crockpot meal planned for Monday when I was going to be at book club. I put it together in the morning, and came home to a glorious scent wafting from the counter. I spooned some into a dish -- whoa! This was good stuff -- great for the slightly chilly weather we were supposed to have all month.

Crockpot Chicken Barley

3 large chicken breasts, still slightly frozen
2 cans cream soup - I used celery and mushroom
3 cups water
2 chicken boullion cubes
1 cup pearled barley
1 t. Greek seasoning
Salt and pepper

Spray the crockpot with cooking spray. Place chicken in the bottom, and top with remaining ingredients. Cook on low 8-10 hours. Enjoy with a salad or steamed broccoli.

My husband put this on toast and had to take a nap after dinner. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Corned beef and an arbor

It was an interesting weekend here at Tiny Counter. We started birthday celebrations early, with dinner out on Thursday night. Friday was spent getting ready for the weekend. At 6 a.m. Saturday morning, I put corned beef in the crockpot, and made the broccoli slaw. I went back to bed, and got up two hours later to finish cleaning and cooking. After discovering that the sugar cookies had all been broken in the freezer (sigh...) I made brownies. Those did not turn out, so you will not see them here. The corned beef, though, went over very well...

Crockpot Corned Beef

2-3 lb. corned beef
spice packet
1 bottle Guinness
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic
kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Put all ingredients into the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours.

Then I put 1 lb. of halved brussel sprouts and 6 peeled carrots into the juices, and kept it on low for a few hours. The sprouts, similar to cabbage, soaked up the juices and were delicious.

The next day, I took 2 cups of frozen hash brown potatoes and a few slices of corned beef, and fried them in my iron skillet for corned beef hash. Yum!

All that corned beef fortified us for Sunday's project: Building an arbor.

Hubby drew up the plan, and we measured the outside area where it was to go. Then we were off to the home store, where we ordered the wood and lattice. It turns out my car is exactly 8 ft. from the edge of the trunk to the edge of the sun roof. These are only things you find out when fitting lumber in a four-door vehicle.

We made it home safely, and then cut the remaining pieces with our new circular saw. We put together the framework and stained all the pieces and ourselves. We let them dry overnight, when it was clear they weren't going to be ready by dinner time....

On Monday, we realized we had a total of 19 finishing nails in the entire house. So, it was back to the home store for nails. Then we put the arbor frames together, and attached the lattice. We set the arbor up, and miraculously, it stayed upright. Then we took pictures and stared at it awhile. And then, without warning, this thought aired itself...., "Hey, you know what? NEXT time we build one of these, we can...."

And that, ladies and gents, is how home and garden addiction starts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jambalaya, Part 2

Okay, here it is, attempt at a non-packet seasoned jambalaya recipe! It was super spicy, so I'm taking the cayenne down a notch for you. I wish I had done the same for us, but you cook, you learn, right? Also, I pre-cooked the rice, and that made a huge difference. So, if you're not using minute or instant rice, you might do that... I ended up doubling the rice recipe, and reserved half for a recipe the next day.

1 c. brown or white rice
2 c. water
1 boullion cube, optional

Mix together and bring to a boil. Keep covered and turn to simmer. Simmer 30-40 minutes or until rice can be fluffed with a fork.

Spice mix
1/4 teaspoon of the following:
-Kosher salt
-Celery salt
-onion salt
-Green chile seasoning
-dried parsley
-black pepper
-cayenne pepper

1/2 onion, chopped
2 celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 chicken sausage, in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 can tomato paste
1 14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
2-3 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup green chiles, chopped
1 cup water

Make rice as directed and set aside. Mix spice mix and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to a Dutch oven, set on medium-low. Add sausage and brown well. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan and saute onion, celery and carrot about five minutes. Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, spice mix, cooked rice, chiles and water. Stir well, and cover. Turn heat to low. Heat about 15-20 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chef's knife: A tutorial

Did you know it takes two to six weeks to heal from a bad knife cut?

Do me a favor - use your knife like this.

Don't be like me. On a side note, typing has become decidedly difficult.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cupboard Pasta

Remember that post when I said to try and use what's in your cupboard? It often results in very interesting meals here at Casa Tiny Counter.

I had some pasta, and some grilled brats on hand, but no tomato sauce or tomatoes, and no wine, etc. It was the day before Grocery Day, and much like the day before Laundry Day, pickings were slim. If my recipe was me, it would have been wearing a suit jacket, non-matching corduroys, a t-shirt and heels with no socks. But I digress.

So, first, I boiled water for the pasta, and then I heated up a second pan with some olive oil. I sauteed an onion and five cloves of garlic. I put about half a box of bowtie pasta in the boiling water.

Once the onion and garlic were done, I threw in about a cup of chopped tomatoes, 2 small kale leaves, chopped fine, and 2 sliced cooked brats. I drained the pasta, reserving a cup, and added it to the pan. Then I had a dilemma.

Clearly this called for a sauce of some kind, but I was fresh out. I had some tomato juice, so I put in about 2 tablespoons of that. Then I threw in about 3-4 tablespoons of Dijon mustard. I added about 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta water, and then, a bit more olive oil. It was missing something. Normally I would have added white wine, but that was out. So, I grabbed the bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Before you judge, check this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. (See? Everyone's doing it... )

So I poured in about 2 T. of whiskey and gave it a final stir. Ah! One last thing -- about 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano. Perfect.

Well, maybe not perfect. Dinner, at the very least. But not too shabby. :)

8 oz. farfalle or bowtie pasta
1 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped tomatoes in juice
2 small kale leaves, chopped fine
2 cooked brats, sliced
2 T. tomato juice
31/2 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup pasta water
1 T. olive oil
2 T. whiskey
1/2 Pecorino Romano, grated

Boil pasta about 6 minutes. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer to thicken sauce. Top with Romano cheese.

Blueberry muffins

There is a coffeeshop around here with the best blueberry muffins. I went there and they actually warmed up the muffin for me! It was awesome. So I blame you, Cool Beanz, for the craving that I couldn't kick. As a result, I made this recipe, and substituted low-fat buttermilk. I served them up on plates with cloth napkins on our outdoor patio with a book and sunshine.