Monday, November 30, 2009

christmas ideas

So! That time is upon us once again. I think I know what I'm going to do this year. Hot chocolate on a stick & homemade marshmallows. Woo! The first part has three ingredients and sounds delicious. The second is something I've wanted to make for a while. Anyway, this is going to be what most people get. Set it all up in a mug, and we're set. Probably wrap them in cello and put them in a bag. Anyway. I know I can get cute mugs at CVS for $1.50. Even packed in a self-styled white paper bag, they'll be adorable.

So that's my plan. I've decided with plenty of time to do it. It should be fairly inexpensive, and everything still sounds yummy. As a bonus, the hcoas(hotchocolateonastick) keeps at room temp for a year. So as soon as I get sticks and chocolate, I can make those up.

Also: this is a gift I would enjoy getting. So that makes it even better in my book. Yay.

Side note: this will be a million times easier than the big candy assortment I was thinking of before. Yay!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

So my tendency whilst cooking is to reference actual recipes for time&temp, but to kind of do my own thing the rest of the way.
I volunteered at the Mercato today, and got $20 to spend there for my troubles. I came home with eggs, mint, beets, a pearapple, squash and white cheddar. The squash is being made into soup! It tastes pretty good so far. Here's what I did:

2 x small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (~3/4")
1 x handful baby carrots, cut in half
1/4 onion, slivered
3 x cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbsp oil, drizzled
salt, pepper, & cinnamon to taste
chicken stock (like 3 cups? 4ish?)

1. Preheat the oven while you chop the veggies. Put the veggies in a pan (used 9x13 pyrex) drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper & cinnamon, and add ~1 cup chicken stock. Put pan in oven.
2. Stir every 20 minutes or so, add additional liquid if needed. I didn't need to. When everything's soft & mushy, move into a heavy bottomed pan. Add additional chicken stock and simmer for a while.
3. Blend. Thin with more chicken stock or water if need be.

Lately I've been buying whole chickens and either roasting them whole, or chopping them. And then making chicken stock! Yay! I love it.

NOTE: Had to add a whole lot of water while pureeing. Also, more salt and less pepper. The less pepper part is difficult, so don't put too much on to begin with. Also added a hint of ginger, and a splash of honey.

End: not the best I've had, but for once in my life, I've mastered the luscious texture that butternut squash soup needs.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ground beef

So I've been looking into some component cooking. Its basically prep done well before you cook, in large doses. Yesterday, Albertsons had 85/15 ground beef for 1.47/lb, so I bought 5.5lbs. Thats more ground beef than I've bought in the last year, because chicken's usually so much cheaper. Anyway, I figured I should attempt one of the component cooking ideas, so I did. I did two things -- straight cooked ground beef (slightly seasoned) and meatballs. I did 1.5lbs in meatballs, baked them, and separated them into 3 bags. They're freezing. The rest of it, I boiled. Weird shit, no? I used the last of the broth from the roast I made, some seasoned salt, and some fresh ground pepper in whatever amount of water covered the meat. I started that right before I started on the meatballs. It doesn't take too long at all, and now I have cooked ground beef in 1/2-1lb portions in my freezer. If I want to make tacos or shepard's pie, it'll take one less step. The only thing I'd change is to get a bigger chamois. I have a tiny tiny one, so it took forever to drain the meat. The liquid/fat (which pretty much all drains off) is cooling, waiting til I toss it in a jar and toss it. Anyway, this seems like it'd work well for the fattier ground beef. OH! The other plus is it crumbles pretty fine, which I can never seem to do. Great for tacos.

Anyway, now I have 4lbs of cooked ground beef in the freezer, and like 50 meatballs. Amazing.

Side note: i need to learn to make better meatballs. these tasted kinda like meatloaf. awesome.