Stags and Scotch

What do you get when you mix a lazy Saturday morning, venison sausage, a hungry me, and my over ambitious ideas?!?!?!!  

Scotch Eggs!!

I had never attempted a scotch egg before, but I have pounds and pounds of breakfast sausage from The Engineer’s deer and eggs are a constant staple in the fridge.  It seemed like a perfectly reasonable breakfast idea!  So, Friday night I googled a quick explanation from Gordon Ramsey and decided that fancy British breakfast was just the thing we needed Saturday morning.  This is exactly the sort of thing that happens when I watch cooking shows.  If Gordon can do it….I obviously can do it!  If I can’t do it as well as Gordon, I can certainly do it better than his stupid contestants on Hell’s Kitchen….but that is a different matter entirely.

If you wanna take a stab at making your own scotch eggs, here’s what I used to make my jazzed up, cheesy version.  They turned out crispy and delicious, although they are a bit of work, so they aren’t going to become an every weekend activity anytime soon even though The Engineer really liked them…

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Ingredients

  • 5 eggs plus one for an egg wash
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage of your choice
  • Flour for dredging
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese
  • Any spices you like….get creative!!!
  • Olive oil for frying

First things first, you must boil the eggs.  Gordon recommend a 4 minute and 30 second dip into already boiling water.  I don’t love super runny eggs, so I opted for an almost 6 minute boil.  Apparently British eggs cook faster?!  My 6 minute eggs were still runnier than I would have liked, and it made them a bit hard to peel and wrap in sausage without breaking open and oozing yoke.  The Engineer likes runny eggs, and I don’t horribly mind them as long as I have plenty of stuff to wipe them up with so we made do.  Next time though….I’ll let them go a couple minutes more.  I was worried that cooking the sausage would cook the egg inside more, but I don’t think that is the case.  Be sure you just cook your eggs to as hard or soft of a boil as you’d like.

While your eggs are boiling it’s time to get creative with your meat!  Our sausage blend is a bit under-spiced so it takes some jazzing up.  If you have a better blend or are just feeling lazy feel free to leave your sausage as it comes.  There aren’t a lot of rules, so add what you’re feeling!  Gordon apparently adds blood sausage and shredded apple to his pork sausage base.  I added cheese!!  The Engineer loves cheese with his eggs and I figured this would be an easy place to add it……plus the following pyramid of spices

1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 Tablespoon each of Garlic and Onion Powder

2 Tablespoons each of fresh, frozen Thyme and Oregano from my garden

Get everything in your sausage all mixed up, and be sure to get your breading stations set up.  I added some salt and pepper to the flour mixture and a splash of water to the egg so it whipped up nicely.

Once your eggs are cooked, cool them down with some cold water and commence the peeling.  I find that peeling the eggs under a little running water really helps the shells come off easier.  I had one egg not survive the peeling intact, so I did end up just frying some of the sausage as patties…..but that’s our little secret so don’t tell anyone!  The recipe would have made 5 scotch eggs otherwise!

To prep your eggs, squash a “large golfball sized handful” of meat into a very thin patty.  I get that that isn’t a super exact amount….but I guess you’re looking for 5 even sized balls.  Try and keep it as round and thin as you can.  Carefully place your peeled egg in the middle and warp the sausage around it.  A couple times I had to grab a bit more meat mixture to bridge any holes, just make sure to get everything covered in the sausage layer.  I found the rolling and forming them in my hands the way you’d make a snowball was the most effective, although don’t squeeze too hard because if you break your eggs, and you like them a little runny, you’ll end up with exploding yoke everywhere.  Not only will this mean that someone will get a mystery scotch egg with no yolk, but it’s also hard to get everything stuck together with all the yolk oozing around!

Gently roll your delicious meat ball in the seasoned flour….transfer to the egg wash….and then finally roll in breadcrumbs.  If you’re ball has gotten a bit amorphous or wonky by this point don’t worry…..just pick it up carefully and reform it in your hands.  According to Gordon it is helpful to press in the breadcrumbs anyway so don’t worry too much about it.  It’ll be a bit messy….but the good things in life are usually messy anyway.

Scotch eggs are traditionally deep fried, but I don’t have a fryer and I didn’t feel like using that much oil just to fry up 4 egg balls in a large skillet.  So….I broke with tradition slightly and just added a generous drizzle of olive oil to my largest, deepest skillet and let it get hot.  Once hot, carefully place in the scotch eggs and cook until brown and crispy!!!  They get oh so deliciously crispy…..must be the cheese at work!  Once they are cooked on one side, grab carefully with tongs and flip over.  Once the top and bottom were golden and delicious, I set them on their sides and slowly worked them around until they were perfectly cooked little brown orbs of goodness.  You might think that a hefty drizzle in the bottom of the pan won’t be enough oil, but remember that sausage will loose grease as it cooks….use that to your advantage!  The cheese and the fact that you aren’t actually deep frying them does cause them to stick to the pan a tiny bit, so just be gentle when you’re working with them.

Serve piping hot with your choice of breakfast sides and of course some coffee…..mimosas if you have them!  If you like your eggs runny you’ll probably want some toast to help soak up all the deliciousness.  They are a bit heavy….in a good “old school, stick to your ribs, keep you full for a long time” sorta way…so I’d steer clear of anything like pancakes or hash browns.  I eat a ton, but even I think that’s too much to take on.  Some fruit, maybe some tea, and pleasant thoughts of the English countryside should be more than enough to start your day off on the proper foot!

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Glorious lil scotch eggs and some apple butter toast!

 

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Paint and Pie

IT’S FINALLY FALL!

It seemed like cooler, sweater weather would never arrive, but I guess good things come to those who are patient!  With the changing of the seasons comes my deep burning desire to spend time cleaning, organizing, and crafting in my garage.  Things that have been laying around all summer I suddenly have a burning need to organize.

The first craft of the fall was trying out chalk paint on some metal decor.  A few months ago I purchased a metal candle holder from Hobby Lobby.  While I do like the original color of the candle holder, it wasn’t really the right shade of blue for my house.  What better to do than throw some chalk paint on it and see what happens?!

Overall, I would say the mini project went well.  The only thing I would change was maybe the amount of distressing I did before I waxed the piece.  The paint chips off rather easy, so in buffing in the dark wax, several extra chunks of paint went flying off.  I’m not sure that in this case the candle holder could be “over” distressed, and since I didn’t have a specific outcome in mind….all is good in the chalk painting hood!  If you were going for a lighter distressed look, I might actually skip the initial distressing step.  Apply your wax, and then if you feel like you need a little extra maybe distress with sandpaper as a final step.

Another glorious part of the shift in the weather is a change in nightly meal choices!  I’m not one of those people who can eat soup and casseroles with its 100 degrees outside, so as the temperatures have been cooling I’ve been ramping up the oven!  Last night I tried out a new recipe…..shepherd’s pie!  I had never had a shepherd’s pie before, but The Engineer has had them and was having a craving.  Coupled with the fact that we watched Gordon Ramsey make some on Kitchen Nightmare meant that I needed to try my hand.  All in all, I think it turned out pretty well!  Used up a bunch of leftover veggies, and anything with cheesy mashed potatoes is a good life decision!!

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 2 pounds ground meat
  • Onion, chopped
  • 3 large handfuls of baby carrots, chopped
  • 5-6 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1ish glass of red wine
  • 6 Tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-12oz can of tomato paste
  • 3 cubes of chicken bouillon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6-12 oz of water
  • 3 Tbs thyme
  • 1/2 12oz bag of frozen corn
  • 1/2 12oz bag of frozen green beans
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled
  • 5 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk

While I do understand that this isn’t a traditional shepherd’s pie as it doesn’t contain lamb, I’m pretty confident that this recipe would work with any red meat.  The most important quality of the meat, according to Gordon, is that it’s well drained and free of grease.  Elk, for all intensive purposes, is basically grease free and I have a freezer full of it now, so that’s what I used.  If using any wild game meat, remember that you will probably need to add some olive oil to your pan before adding in the meat.  Brown the meat and toss in all the fresh veggies, onion, and the garlic.  Continue cooking until you’re sure the meat is completely cooked, and the onions have gone slightly translucent.

Dump in the worcestershire, tomato paste, wine, bouillon and water.  You could also use any stock you have laying around the house, I just had the cubes to use.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and the thyme.  I used several fresh sprigs from my garden, but dried would also work just fine.

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When you use fresh herbs and your fancy starts showing!

Simmer your meat mixture until the carrots and celery become tender and the mixture thickens….about 45 mins.  Stir often so that the bottom of the mixture doesn’t scorch to the pan.  While that’s simmering, rough cube the potatoes and add them to a pan and boil until fork tender.  Drain and add to a mixing bowl with the butter, cheese, and milk. Basically, just make mashed potatoes the way you always would….only with the addition of cheese.  Maybe you make them with cheese all the time…..I don’t, so that was a little upgrade!

Add your frozen veggies and just let them warm up a couple minutes.  Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking pan.  The entire mixture didn’t all fit in my pan, in hindsight it would have, but I made a small, additional baking dish and threw it into the freezer for later.  Top the mixture with the mashed potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  If the top isn’t as brown as you’d like, turn the broiler on and babysit your pie carefully until the desired level of golden brown is achieved.  Dish up and enjoy your meat, potatoes, and veggies!!

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I raked my potatoes with a fork before baking and topped them with extra black pepper because it’s The Engineer’s favorite!

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PIE!

Slicing and Dicing the Blues

I like cooking.  I might even love cooking, but it’s sometimes a hard thing to wrangle when you’re single.  Yes, I could come home from work every night and whip myself up something yummy, and yes I would probably be happier for it in the long run.  But, a single person doesn’t need to have a fridge that’s over flowing with food all the time.  This is why I’ve rather come to enjoy hosting parties and holidays at my house.  It gives me the ability to go to town in the kitchen without having to deal with all the fruits of my labor.

In an attempt to combat the huge quantities of food I sometimes manage to create, but mostly because Lil Sis had a 50% off coupon….I decided to give Blue Apron a whirl.  If you aren’t familiar, they are a food delivery company where you select the meals you’d like every week and they ship all the ingredients to you in a single box.

 

I HATED IT!

Okay, hate is maybe a strong way to put it….but I didn’t really enjoy the process or understand the point.  Yes, it was nice that they shipped only two portions of each meal, yes it was nice to try some new recipes with spices you wouldn’t normally purchase, yes all the meals are sent with very specific instructions to assist even the worst at home chefs, but overall the meals weren’t all that great and the whole process left quite a bit to be desired.

The way I see it, part of the cooking process is going to the store and picking ingredients.  I know that Blue Apron is shipping out thousands and thousands of boxes each week so they don’t have time or the ability to pick through all the veggies and check everything, but that’s the perk of being able to go pick your own.  I received wilted green beans, zucchini with a big, mushy portion, and herbs that were looking slightly past their peak.

Speaking of herbs, I love using fresh herbs, garlic, and ginger….but all are much more convenient to purchase in pre-minced varieties.  I might love to cook, but I don’t enjoy mincing garlic and peeling ginger.  Although, there is something satisfying about whacking cloves with your knife for easier peeling…….I’m not sure that people who aren’t familiar with cooking often would have an easy or quick time of making up any of these recipes.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we…..Week 1 meals

 

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I’m not sure that my salmon really ended up crispy….although I mean a filet of salmon is always delicious.  The major issue I had with this dish was the orzo salad.  Now….I generally like everything that went into the salad:

  • Orzo
  • Green Beans….which arrived wilted and sad 😦
  • Garlic
  • Cucumber
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Lemon
  • Sour Cream

However, as you’ll notice, my salad ended up much…creamier….than the salad they have pictured.  The first few bites of the salad seemed okay, but the longer it sat the worse and worse it got.  I actually didn’t even eat the second portion of the salad.  I’m not sure if something happened to the sour cream during shipping….or if the addition of the lemon juice caused it it curdle….I just know it became essentially inedible.  Needless to say, I wasn’t off to a great start.

 

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These tacos….specifically the spices used on the meat…where quite tasty.  Sour cream was included to top the tacos, and I skipped it to avoid the same disaster as the first meal.  I might make a variation of these in the crock pot sometime using like a pork roast instead of the sausage.  The sausage was a bit greasy…as sausage is, but I think a pulled pork style taco would be delicious!  Also, the quick slaw was easy and had good flavor.  Overall, this wasn’t a bad recipe which could be improved on and added to my standard rotation of cooking.

 

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A perfectly fine dish.  Wasn’t amazing….wasn’t bad….could have probably used more spice and zip, but I used all the ancho chile powder that had been shipped.  Again, I’m not sure that getting corn off of the cob is something that everyone knows how to accomplish….so I’m not sure that “Cut the corn kernels off the cob; discard the cob” is really going to be enough of an instruction for anyone trying to use Blue Apron to learn how to cook at home.  Even for those of us who know how to accomplish the task….it’s messy!  Again, I made the lime crema…..but didn’t use it on the dish.  I might whip this up again, I might not……but it’s good to have recipe options laying around for when you need to spice up the routine.

I didn’t mean to receive an additional week of meals…especially at full price….which is quite a price honestly, $60!!  

But, I didn’t get it cancelled in time, so….on to Week 2 meals!

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I don’t love mushrooms…..I don’t mind the flavor, it’s the texture that really gets to me.  A bit like eating rubber bands if I’m honest.  Luckily, the large slices were easy to pick out and around.  Again, this was a nice little dish that I might try again, maybe using a different style of noodle.  The main perk I got from Blue Apron was the ability to try spices like togarashi without having to commit to buying a huge quantity of it.  We’ve all done that…..found a recipe that sounds good and bought a dozen random ingredients only to discover that we hate it.  Then the spices just sit around, and we know we will probably never use again.  The quick pickles were crunchy and well spiced.  I’m also a huge fan of cooked celery and radishes, so that didn’t hurt this recipe at all either!

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Sorry for the less than fancy picture…I made this late one night and just split it into portions for lunches.  It’s just a fancy version of breaded, fried chicken and a warm potato salad.  This potato salad I might make again.  Actually, these were the first brussels sprouts I think I’d ever had!!  Again, it had celery which I do really enjoy.

Much like the blackened chicken with corn salsa…..it was good, not great.  I will probably keep it around just to add some variety to my life.  I was briefly debating adding this potato salad to my Thanksgiving spread, but I’m not hosting this year due to some family shuffling around.

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My cousin and I made these sandwiches as part of our booze and crafting weekend.  The idea of a turnip sandwich was good, but I’m not sure they worked out all that well.  Again, we skipped the crema, because by now I’ve just realized there’s something always a bit off with the creams they send.  Therefore, there was no goo keeping the sandwiches together, so when we flipped them in the pan everything just sorta exploded out.  The slaw was basically just dressed in oil and lime juice.  It was light and fresh, but there wasn’t much to it.  We both ended up adding some shredded cheese onto the sandwiches which added the creamy, gooey-ness we both thought they were missing.  I’m not sure I’d make these again, but if I saw it on a menu I might order it.  It was sorta a bland ending to what was a disappointing food weekend of crafting, bitching, and booze with my cousin!

The other thing I find particularly annoying about Blue Apron is the inability to select any 3 of the 6 meals that they offer each week.  There are usually 3 meat options and 3 vegetarian options.  However, you can’t mix and match any of the recipes, which as someone who eats both vegetarian and non vegetarian food, I find annoying.

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The two combinations you can’t see are Beef and Potato Latkes and Harissa Chicken Skewers.  I just find it annoying the I couldn’t have latkes and burgers.  I’m not sure why that is.  There is actually an option to select that you eat strictly vegetarian and then I’m sure they adjust the given recipes accordingly.  Frankly, any omnivore, the meal plan I selected, who wants to try a veggie burger isn’t going to care if the veggies get shipped along with the meat to make the latkes.

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Heaven forbid you would want to have spicy shrimp linguine and squash curry in the same week!!!  

It’s just stupid little things like this that annoy me, but when the options are either paying $60 a week to have limited options, or going to the store, probably spending less money, and being able to eat anything in any combination that I want…..the answer seems pretty clear to me.  It’s especially easy because the major grocery store here now offers online shopping.  You can either schedule a time to go collect your preselected food from the store, or they also offer delivery options which can be free if your total bill is large enough.  I don’t use these services as I don’t at all mind grocery shopping and I have plenty of time to be doing it, but they are offered and basically serve as a DIY Blue Apron for those who use them.

The Power of Positive Drinking

Some weeks, you do nothing exciting.  Other weeks, you struggle to work after two late nights of country music and beers.  This week has been a sleep deprived struggle bus, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sunday night started off with one of my favorite bands with one of my favorite people.  Bitch Faced Bestie and I hit up the John Evans Band and Turnpike Troubadours.  We discovered our new personal style icons, and a new catch phrase, “Swagger is what swagger does!”

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This man is my spirit animal!  It was made ever more perfect by the fact that he was rocking high top Converse All-Stars with his skinny jeans.  You, John Evans, are everything I would want to be if I were a man!

 

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Because I’m way too cool to not rock fringe, and the BFB is almost always casually rocking bandana in the most perfect way.

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ON TO THE MAIN EVENT!

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Sometimes taking selfies is harder than it looks…..

 

This was the second time I’ve seen them in concert, and I would go again tomorrow if they came to town.  Nothing is better than boots, beers, and sweating the the pit of a concert jamming to songs that speak to you.  I know that it sounds gross, but sometimes a good drunk concert is all I need to get me feeling like myself again.

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You’re getting a double dose of Turnpike:

A—I couldn’t pick just one

B–They are my jam

Would you just look at them?!?!  Perfect!

Most of my week continued on fairly uneventfully.  Thursday night Pimp Money, his wife, and I headed out to the fair for some cheap country music, drinks, and fried food!  Usually I would get my yearly corndog fix at the rally, but the 76th Stugis Rally is wrapping up without me today while I sit on the patio and brunch with Scout.

The night as full of man crushes, cardigans in unexpected places, and younger 20 somethings getting their butts chewed for not behaving.

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We even got to meet Gunnar!  This might have maybe been more exciting to Pimp Money than his wedding day, we still haven’t really decided.  

The night had three different bands playing, Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys was the opener, Chris Janson was the headliner, and LoCash played the middle set.  Everything was going along just fine, until LoCash hit the stage in what we could only assume was a women’s cardigan!  First off, it was hot…..so why he thought he wanted a cardigan anyway was somewhat confusing for us.  This confusion was quickly followed up by the fact that it had a belt on it.  Now I’m not much of a fashion expert, and maybe I’m just not up to date on my trends, but around here most dudes aren’t running around in beatable, handkerchief  hemline cardigans!

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I had a better picture of the cardigan, but my phone died and it didn’t save……but there he is, in all his cardigan glory!

 

Chris Janson had never really been on my radar as an artist.  He has a couple popular songs on the radio, but beyond that I had never paid much attention.  I have to say I’m a pretty big fan after he stopped his show because some random drunk girl thought it would be fun to throw full Mike’s lemonades into a crowd that had a bunch of kids in it.  In fact, there was a family with two little guys in boots and pearl snaps who were clearly having their best night ever rocking out to country and it would have sucked a bunch if they had been hit with some sorry excuse of an adult drink!

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My phone died after this pic, so I don’t have any of my own pictures of Chris Janson playing…..

Have you ever seen a 135lb white redneck play the harmonica?!  It’s pretty epic stuff, I wouldn’t lie to you about these things.

 

I had originally thought my Saturday was going to be spent finishing up sprinkler checks for the HOA.  However, one of the guys was sick and wanted to postpone the check, he just didn’t bother to tell me that information.  So, instead of working on getting the bedroom finished, I went to the farmer’s market and restocked my winter supply of dilly beans!

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I also maybe bought myself some flowers….but when they look like that for $20 how can you not?!

I now have 12 more jars of spicy beans to get me through the winter.  Last summer I wrote a more in-depth post about my canning adventures, you can read it here.  This year went a bit easier and smoother since I knew what I was doing.  I did forget to add dill to the fist batch of 4 jars because I got way too excited.  However, I just opened them, added dill, and reprocessed.  They look fine and sealed but up so I think my pickling Hail Mary pass turned out just fine.

After the jars were all stuffed and the kitchen cleaned up, I got to relax with a traditional snack, a nap, and movie.  The snack was kohlrabi with Hidden Valley ranch dip, and the movie was Lonesome Dove parts 1 and 2.  Nothing like connecting with my Peterson farm roots while listening to the satisfying sound of canning lids pop and seal as they cool.  Second year in a row, and all my jars sealed up perfectly for winter storage!

Waking Up Hangry!

I’m a big breakfast eater.  Some times I can get away with just coffee, but especially at work or days I’m going to have a late lunch after a workout…..I need a good breakfast to get me through.  But, I’m also SUPER LAZY in the morning and pretty much refuse to wake up any earlier than I absolutely have to!!

Enter……THE FROZEN BREAKFAST BURRITO!!! 

Fast, easy, customizable, and filling enough to get you through even your hangriest mornings.  Make them ahead and pull them out as you need them.  They are perfect!

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THINGS YOU NEED:

  • Tortillas
  • 2 Eggs per Tortilla
  • Splash of Milk or Cream
  • Cooking Spray or Butter
  • Meat–I’ve been loving Hot Italian Sausage….like you’d use on pizza.  Bacon….ham…..quinoa…..tofu…..DO WHAT YOU LIKE
  • Cheese
  • Onion
  • Bell Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Saran Wrap

 

Precook your meat of choice.  The Italian sausage crumbles as it cooks, but I would dice ham or bacon so that it’s easier to wrap up the finished burritos.  Some spicy, taco seasoned quinoa would also be good if you’re looking for a meat free option.  I just looked back and realized I’ve never posted my Mexican quinoa bowl recipe, so probably I’ll have to do that soon!!!  But, just follow the cooking directions on the quinoa, and dump in some taco seasonings….Cumin, Cayenne, Garlic, Chili Powder, Onion Powder…ya know, the usual…..or buy a pack of seasoning if that’s more your thing.

Dice the onion and bell pepper and throw into a large pan over medium heat with some butter to soften.  Whip the eggs with a splash of milk and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the eggs into the pan and cook to a soft scramble.  This may take longer than you’d think depending on the amount of eggs you make…..just be warned.  Keep an eye on them though, as once they start to set it will go faster.

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Lay out each tortilla on a square of saran wrap.  Starting with the eggs, try and split an even amount into each tortilla.  Add in your meat of choice, and sprinkle with a bit of cheese.  By this time, it’s possible that your tortillas may have gotten a bit dry.  No worries, slide them onto a plate and simply microwave for 10-15 seconds.  Roll carefully, and then seal the roll with the saran wrap.

Once they are all stuffed, rolled, and wrapped….simply throw them in the freezer!  I was slightly worried that since they were warm the tortillas would get soggy and mushy, but they all came out perfectly!  Sometimes, if I planned even slightly ahead, I would pull one out and leave it in the fridge overnight to thaw.  I found that thawed burritos took 45-60 seconds to microwave.  I simply unwrapped them out of the saran wrap and set them on a plate or paper towel to microwave.

For the ultra lazy among us, a fully frozen burrito takes about 2-2.5 minutes to microwave, but flip it over half way through so that the bottom of the tortilla doesn’t get too soggy in the microwave!

I usually ate these at work, with my hands, just as they are.  But, if you have the option for a more plate and fork eating situation these would be great with the addition of some guacamole, salsa, and/or sour cream!!

Bon Appetit!

 

Quick and Creative Ramen Bowls

Cup o’ noodles and 10 cent ramen packs….cheap, not delicious, and not great for you.  If college me had known how easy it was to make homemade bowls, I would have skipped the store bought packages all the time!

I’ve never had actual ramen noodles, like at a restaurant, but I’ve seen pictures and it looks amazeballs!!  Huge, steaming bowls of broth with noodles, spices, meat, and an egg.  These are a easy, packable, quick and easy version that is perfect for a quick dinner or a packable lunch.  You can take this base and run with it.  Make them as simple or complex as you’d like.  These could easily be made gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, meat lovers……basically your wish is this bowls command!

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What You Need

  • Ramen Noodles – The brown rice noodles come in 4 prepackaged servings per box and are gluten free!

What I Add

  • Veggies – I use corn, kale, carrots, and sometimes bell pepper.  Whatever you have on hand would be good.  I chop my baby carrots in a food processor, or the pre shredded carrots would also work.
  • Chicken Stock Base
  • Eggs – Most traditional ramen bowls contain an egg even if other protein is added.
  • Spices – I like wasabi, salt and pepper in mine.  Red pepper flakes would add some nice spice, I just never have any in the house! 😦

Other Things You Could Add

  • Meat – Chicken, beef, or pork would all be delicious.  Just make sure they are cooked through before adding to the bowls
  • Fun Flavors – Thai chilies, ginger root, Chinese five spice, a nice splash of soy sauce, fish sauce…..really any of your favorite Asian flavors could really only enhance the dish.  The beauty of making these at home is that you can really experiment and find your perfect flavor combination!

The best part about these bowls is they only use one pot to prep!  One small pot of water is all you need!

Boil the water and then removed from heat.  Add your package of noodles, stir, and then let sit about 5 minutes or until the noodles are softened.

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Stare into the pot and see your future, and the future is delicious!

I just use chop sticks to pull the noodles out and place them in the bottom of a microwave safe container.  If you keep the water in the pot it means you only need to heat it once, and that just saves time.  Plus…..Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Return your pot to the burner and turn the heat down slightly.  Once it’s simmering again, swirl vigorously and slide in an egg to start poaching.  My experience with the Spicy Sweet Potato Hash taught me that I like a sort of medium poach on my eggs so that the yolks are just set, but they are still bright yellow and slightly custardy.  Takes about 5-7 minutes depending on the size of egg.  Just gently pluck them out and poke them till you feel like they feel set to your liking.  Also, they will cook a bit more when you heat your bowl, so they can be slightly undercooked for this to start with.

While the egg is cooking away, I add my veggies, a generous teaspoon of stock base, and a nice amount of wasabi to my bowl.  This would be a great time to slash in some soy, toss in some spicy peppers, or grate in some ginger.  Once the egg is done add it the bowl, and I top mine with lots of black pepper and a small dash of salt.  That’s it!  Trow in the fridge for later if you want, or give in and eat right away!

When you’re ready to eat, this is how I prep them.  Add water to just cover the noodles and then toss in the microwave for about a minute or two covered to heat and soften the veggies.  Remove, stir, and enjoy!  If you have access to boiling water, you could probably get away without the microwave, but that’s all I have at work and it works out just fine.

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Chicken…..It’s What’s for Dinner

It’s been a few weekends since I saw my Main Squeeze, but he came to visit this weekend…..so, naturally I had to feed him!!  Our running joke is that he only eats chicken, because that’s all he wanted to eat the first weekend he came to see me.  Before I fed him, he decided he needed to take me out on an actual date, so Friday night that’s what we did.  We headed downtown for pizza and drinks……nothing like a night on the town with my Squeeze!!

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Saturday night was chicken dinner at home before some quality time with my Squeeze, my Bitch Faced Bestie, the Hubby in Law, and Cards Against Humanity.  A easy and favorite recipe is Chicken Parmesan, so I decided that I’d make that and some fancy Pinterest inspired garlic pull apart bread.  It’s one of those recipes that comes out of the oven looking fancy, but it’s really quite simple to put together.  Best yet, it’s fast.  It takes about half an hour for me to get it all prepped and in the oven baking away.

We waited a bit late in the day to start making dinner, so we were hungry by the time it came out of the oven.  I didn’t stop to take pictures of the finished products…..sorry about that!

Things you will need:

  • 1/2 Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Package Chicken Breasts or Tenderloins
  • 1 Jar of Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 Pound Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Italian Spices : Basil, Thyme, Garlic Powder, Cayenne
  • Small Loaf of Bread
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil Plus More for Frying the Chicken
  • 3 Tbs Butter 

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I bought one of the “Bake at Home” loaves of bread, so I threw that in the oven for 15 minutes while I got the chicken prep ready.  Honestly, I’m not sure it did much of anything for the bread, and considering that you’re stuffing the bread with yumminess and putting it in the oven, I’d probably skip that step when I do this again.

Get your chicken started by setting up your breading station.  I like to add salt and pepper to the flour and jazz up the bread crumbs by adding a good dash of all the Italian spices.  Even if I buy the “Italian” breadcrumbs, I still add extra spice!  Crack the egg into a dish, add a splash of water, and beat to mix.  Then just process your chicken through the three stations.  Flour, egg, crumbs!  Place the chicken in a large pan with a generous amount of olive oil over medium to medium high heat.  Cook just to brown up the breading and create a nice crust.  Don’t worry about cooking the chicken through, the oven will take care of that.

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Open the sauce and add a thin layer to your favorite baking pan.  I find a normal 9×13 to be a bit large for a single package of chicken, but it would certainly work.  I have a smaller Pyrex baker I use.  I have to squish the chicken in a bit, but it works just fine!  Once the chicken has been browned on both sides, place it into the baking pan on top of the sauce.  Continue the breading, cooking, placing process until all of you chicken is in the baking dish.  Use the remaining sauce to cover the chicken, and top with about 3/4 of the bag of shredded cheese.  You could get fancy and top the chicken with a mix of Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, but I didn’t have any Parm in the house.  Bake at 375 for about 30-35 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned, and the chicken is cooked through.

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Using a bread knife…….which I don’t actually own…..slice the bread in 1 inch diagonal sections twice, you’ll end up with small diamonds that you can pull out and eat.  Just don’t cut all the way through the loaf, just go down to the bottom crust.  I’ve decided that I think it’s impossible to keep the bread looking nice and poofy and cute once this is all done.  Just accept the slight visual fail because it tastes the same, even if it’s a bit smooshed.

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Place the minced garlic, butter, and 2 Tbs of olive oil in a small sauté pan.  Melt everything together and cook the garlic slightly, stirring often to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn.  While that’s going, stuff the remaining 1/4 pound of shredded cheese, or cheese blend, into the slices.  Place the loaf on a piece of foil, and drizzle the garlic oil over the whole thing.  Tent with a piece of foil, and toss the whole thing into the oven.  Cook 10 minutes covered and an additional 5-10 uncovered to brown up the cheese.

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It was an easy and cute at home date night.

Yes, you’ll end up with garlic breathe, but at least you’ll have garlic breathe together!