Monday, May 27, 2013

Cook Club: Week 22

Dad didn't go back to Colorado this weekend so we met up for dinner.  Dad happened to choose a place called Brio Tuscan Grill - a place which I have not had the pleasure of eating at yet (although I've wanted to since my mom and I ate at the Blue Baker next door).  I had the Pasta Verona and positively loved it.  My dad had a salad which looked delicious and Shawn had the lasagna, which he said was lacking in tomato sauce, but otherwise was good.  As I was still hungry after my meal, I ordered the desert trio which included bread pudding, creme brulee and cheesecake.  All were delicious.  The only downside of Brio is that it is a bit on the pricey side - about $3 more than what Olive Garden charges, or about the same price as Magiano's, but with a smaller serving size.  Still, the pasta I had was good enough that I will most definitely be eating there again.

Cook Club: Week 21

Matt's El Rancho

Man - I like this place.  Ever since Casa Garcia's was razed to build some condos or something, we've had a lack of Mexican food lunches at work.  Thankfully someone (I think it was Jameson since he was on his "TexMex vision quest" in which he ate TexMex every day for a week in order to figure out his spirit animal a la Homer in the Simpsons.  Long story short, his spirit animal is a lightbulb) recommended Matt's El Rancho.  I don't even remember what I had, but it was good.  And that's good enough for me to actually want to go back, which means it's good enough for me to recommend to others. 

Cook Club: Week 20

New recipes this week:
Buttermilk Bleu Cheese salad dressing
Katniss Approved Buttermilk Biscuits
Woman's Day Oven-fried Chicken

It's a buttermilk based meal! 

First up, the dressing:  As with most homemade bleu cheese dressings, it takes a while for it to taste of bleu cheese.  I actually liked the dressing by the second day - Shawn didn't like it until day 3 or 4 (and even then, he would prefer the storebought variety).

Next, the buttermilk biscuits:  The recipe recommends serving these with chilli, and I agree, they would be great with chilli. They are quick and easy to make, so that's always a plus.  The biggest problem is that the recipe makes a crapload of biscuits - I halved the recipe and still had more than enough for the two of us.

Finally, the chicken:  The chicken recipe is quicker than the one from America's Test Kitchen, but only because this one doesn't require any marinating in the buttermilk (the chicken is just brushed with it).  The only downfall of this recipe is that the cornflaked chicken sits directly on the pan so the bottom of the chicken gets soggy/mushy - something that is easily solved by putting the chicken on a rack on the cookie sheet.  I think I liked the ATK version a little better - if only because I prefer the flavor of the hot sauce over the flavor of cayenne pepper.

Cook Club: Week 19

Shawn went out of town for a few days (for a Linux conference at the NYSE) so I had dinner with my dad.  We ate at Lucy's Fried Chicken.  For being a friend chicken place, you'd expect to have more than "Bucket of Fried Chicken", "4-piece basket served hot" and "4-piece basket served cold."  We both ordered the 4-piece basket served hot.  It was good, but I wouldn't consider it $10 good.  Especially when side dishes aren't included.  As it's not a meal without a side dish (never mind that when I cook, I rarely make side dishes), I ordered the potato salad.  The salad had a very smokey flavor to it - it was one of those weird flavors where you take a bite and say "oh, this is interesting...I think I like it" and then by the fourth bite you're like "nope, I'm pretty sure I don't like this."

Would I eat there again?  Sure.  Will I be racing back there to eat?  Probably not.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Cook Club: Week 18

Sweet Chili Chicken Tacos!

Another pre-marinated product that the HEB carries is a "sweet chili chicken breast." Having never had it before, I assumed it would be spicy.  It is not. It is, however, sweet.  We had the same HEB Flour Tortillas (mentioned in the last post), sour cream, and cheese.  We also made some spanish rice to make ourselves essentially little sweet Freebirds tacos.  These weren't quite as good as the Yucatan Chicken Tacos, but they were pretty decent - especially when a few dabs of hot sauce are added.  While I didn't necessarily love the tacos, I'm not sure that I would have preferred to eat the chicken by itself either since I think I'd get tired of that sweet flavor pretty quick...Maybe a stirfry is a better option...

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Cook Club: Week 17

Yucatan Tacos!

So HEB makes a prepackaged marinated chicken breast called "Yucatan chicken."  It is essentially chicken which has been marinated in El Pato tomato sauce.  We also purchased the HEB brand premade flour tortillas where all you have to do is cook them in a cast iron skillet.  We also had mashed avocado, sour cream, and cilantro.  Yum yum.  They were very good.  It is easier than doing the whole 'marinate in El Pato yourself' thing, but not so much easier that it's worth paying more to get the pre-marinated stuff.  So yes, we may have them again, or I may just marinate the meat myself.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cook Club: Week 16

Not really a new recipe this week, just an old recipe with a twist.

I've been making a fettuccine with feta and chicken (modified) recipe for a while now.  It includes, as the name would imply, fettuccine, feta and chicken.  It also includes a can of diced tomatoes, white wine and a crapload of spinach.  Since we have a Swiss Chard plant, but with no idea of what to make with it, I opted to switch out the spinach (which I would have had to purchase) with the chard.  It worked well, but I think I like the spinach a little better - less of the "generic bitter green" flavor.  Of course, that being said, the left overs tasted exactly like those made with spinach; but this is likely because the spinach in the left overs takes on a very "generic bitter greens" flavor.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cook Club: Week 15

No new recipes this week, but we did eat at a new restaurant. 

I've been wanting to go to Paisano's next to the Chipotle for a while, but any time we're over there, we're always on our way to Chipotle. 

I was extremely happy with my meal (spaghetti with Italian sausage) and I ate it all.  Shawn had the chicken parm and also ate it all.  The portions aren't huge (we did, after all eat all of our food in one sitting), but they're also not small portions (our excuse is that we went swimming for an hour that day as well as spent half the day doing yard work).  Would I go there again - hell yeah.  The prices are cheaper than Olive Garden, the food is good, and they have an AWESOME Chianti.  Or rather, I just really like it (your mileage may vary).

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cook Club: Week 14

This week we made two new recipes - "Katniss craved Cheesy Rolls" from the Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook and Balsamic Chicken from the How to Boil Water cookbook.

First the Chicken.  It's very similar to our normal Balsamic Chicken, but with more work (cooking the chicken in the oven).  But it also uses less sugar.  It was good, and both of us wouldn't mind having it again, but considering I know I'll be the one making it, it means that we'll probably revert back to our normal Balsamic Chicken with maybe more garlic and less sugar.

The Cheesy Rolls.  They use Bisquick as a base - which is always fun because it makes them easy.  It also has cheese.  And garlic.  And therefore are delicious.  We made 12 rolls, which are basically my cookie scoop size.  They were delicious warm, and almost as good the next day and the day after that.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Cook Club: Week 13

FAIL!  massive FAIL!  I should insert a picture of the Fail Whale here, but that may be trademarked by Twitter...

This weekend we did not make any new food, nor did we eat at any new restaurant.  But it was Easter Weekend, and we did go to my inlaws', but I just not feeling up to making a new dessert item, and so I didn't. 

Oh well, we can't ALL be perfect.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cook Club: Week 12

With my parents being in town this weekend, we didn't have time to make a new recipe (full disclosure:  Last weekend we didn't actually make anything, so we made the pecan praline biscuits this last Friday, and attempting 2 new recipes in one weekend didn't seem practical).  Instead we opted to try a new eatery (two really...).

On Saturday, for lunch, we ate at The Noble Pig.  TNP is a sandwich shop that specializes in all things charcuterie.  It is also is about half a mile from our house.  I had the PBLT (Pork Belly instead of Bacon) and Shawn had The Noble Pig (ham, pulled pork, cheese and bacon).  Both sandwiches were really good and we'd gladly eat at the shop again.  Shawn even ate some of their pickles that they give with each meal (not that he liked them, but he tried them).  The place, however, is popular.  Line out the door popular...So on the same level as Hopdoddy, Amy's Ice Cream, and Homeslice pizza.

On Sunday morning, we took my parents out to Jack Allen's Kitchen for Brunch to celebrate their birthdays.  It doesn't hurt that the food is delicious and it's all you can eat for $15.99.  This is another insanely popular restaurant, and there was a LONG line when we arrived at 10:05 am.  We managed to make it into the first seating though, so it was all good. 

Not that it really counts, but we also ate at Cipollina earlier in the week with my parents as well.  Cipollina changes their menu frequently (it's dependent on what's in season), so if you don't see anything on the menu you like, just check back the following week.  Cipollina has some absolutely delicious food though - I had the pre fixe meal.  It included caprese salad (which I gave to my mom), fried chicken with brussel sprouts, and a mini creme brule.  And I cleaned my plate. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cook Club: Week 11

We got a little busy over the weekend so we didn't do our Week 11 recipe until the following Friday (which meant that we had to do our Week 12 meal a few short days later).

We had a steak (simple - just grilled), acorn squash (oven roasted with butter and brown sugar), and Praline Pan Biscuits from Betty Crocker's Cookbook.

Oh.  My.  God.  Not only were these quick and easy to make, they also were delicious.  Not necessarily great as a side dish, but they weren't overly sweet.  AND, even better, they were delicious for breakfast the next morning.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cook Club: Week 10

Week 10.  Since we only used half of the pork tenderloin, we still had a half of a tenderloin.  Enter Weber's Big Book of Grilling.

Cedar Smoked Pork Loin with Pineapple Salsa.

So we didn't have a cedar plank...nor fresh pineapple, but otherwise we followed the recipe (using canned pineapple).  It included a rub of fresh sage, paprika, fresh thyme, salt and pepper.  I'm not sure I'd go through the hassle of using the fresh herbs (even though I now have both in my garden) if we make this again.  The salsa was delicious - could stand to be spicier (that's what we'll do next time, add more pepper).

We'll be making this one again since both Shawn and I liked it.

Shawn decided earlier in the week that he wanted to make Butternut Squash Soup from scratch.  He went through the trouble of making it, and I'm sure he got the recipe from the interwebs.  It was delicious, especially with some cream added to it. We will be having that in the future as well.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cook Club: Week 9

The postponed pork tenderloin was made the following weekend.  I got the recipe from the Betty Crocker cook book that I've had since college.

I believe the title of the recipe is Dijon Peach Glazed Pork Loin (or something to that effect).  It's like stupid simple to make - Dijon mustard, peach preserves, salt, oil and thyme marinade.  It did smell like burning sugar whilst in the oven though - so I'd recommend wiping down the meat before baking it - or do it on a grill maybe.

In the end, I really liked it, but Shawn was not a fan.  Not surprising since he doesn't like mustard.  I made it hoping that the mustard would not blatantly obvious (the potluck mac and cheese recipe uses dijon mustard, but you'd never even know).  If I make this in the future, it will either be for guests -or- I won't use as much mustard (if any).  Shawn did at least say that it tasted good enough that he'd be willing to try it again with less (or no) mustard.

We ate the tenderloin with a salad and some grapes - I would have made "pecan biscuits" from the same book but we didn't have any Bisquick mix on hand (so I'll have to make those some other time).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cook Club: Week 8

For the first time, Shawn opted to cook the new item instead of me.  All this because he decided that the pork tenderloin I was going to make was going to take too long and instead opted to make grilled chicken wings with the new wing sauce from HEB.

Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking - grilled chicken with pre-made wing sauce isn't exactly a 'recipe'.  But sometimes you just gotta eat something that's new and easy and doesn't require any thought.  Well, except for the part where you transfer the wings from the grill to the plate.  Shawn dropped one.  We left it for the wildlife.  We're not sure what animal got the wing, but I'm sure it was a happy animal.

I had the Spicy Barbeque wing sauce and I really liked it, even if it was a little weak.  Shawn had the Mango Habanero sauce and said that he didn't really care for it - it needed to be spicier.  But what does he know - he's always saying things aren't spicy enough.  That's why we make hot sauce from the Naga Jolokia peppers.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cook Club: Week 7

The weekend after the party, my grandparents were in town, so naturally there was no cooking going on.  We actually had gone up to Sun City (in Georgetown) to go see the lot that my parents bought.  Yes, that's right - my parents will be moving down here in August.

After looking at the Sun City model homes, checking out the lot where the house will be built and visiting with Shawn's parents (who also live in Sun City), we headed to a restaurant in downtown Georgetown - the Wildfire.

I had the Chicken and Dumplings - and it was pretty darn good (not as good as mine, mind you, but good).  I don't remember what Shawn had, but he really liked it, too.

If you plan to go to the Wildfire, be aware that the lunch prices are about half of what the dinner prices are.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Cook Club: Week 6

As Bond rightfully pointed out - I've been slacking.  Of course, I have been writing more on my other blog, and I've been working on the COA PE Trail Dogs Facebook page.

While my blogging may be lacking, we have been making new recipes (or eating at new restaurants) every week.

So - Week 6 was French Onion Soup weekend and instead of making beignets, I made pralines.

They were simple to make, not all that time consuming, and tasted pretty good.  I used the Emeril Lagasse recipe.  The pralines melt in your mouth, but I would prefer something a bit more caramelly.  Of course, I also think I'll be making these again soon since I have all the ingredients.  I also will try to roast the pecans first to see if that adds more depth to the flavor of the pralines.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cook Club: Week 5

This week I went back to making more than one new recipe.  If you're going to go through the hassle of making a new recipe on the weekend, you might as well make more than one, says I.

First, I made dessert.  Mostly because dessert needs to set.  I made two this week; both from the Hershey's Best Loved Recipes cookbook.  First recipe:  Chocolate Mousse for Two.  The recipe took maybe about 20 minutes to make, and it was easy.  The only problem I had with the outcome is that the texture was more pudding, less mousse.  The flavor was wonderful, though, so I'll try it again.  4/5 with one star being removed because of the consistency.  Second Recipe:  Peanut Butter Chocolate "Fudge".  How could you go wrong? Peanut Butter chips, Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips and a can of Sweetened Condensed Milk.  Super easy to make and decent fudge-like consistency.  The only main problem was that it didn't really have a good peanut butter or chocolate flavor - it was much more of a plain 'sweet' flavor.  While Shawn didn't like it, I thought it was alright, and the coworkers seemed to love it. (no pictures - I'm apparently really bad at taking photos of dessert...though in my defense, the mousse was served in pint glasses even though they were less than half full.  I didn't have any photos of the fudge because it only looked nice when I had cut it all up into pieces and put them on a plate for my coworkers).  3/5 - I'd make it again, but it's most definitely not Shawn's favorite.

Second we started in on the Roasted Carrots from the Cook's Country Cookbook.  I went off-recipe and used baby carrots instead of the normal carrots like the recipe required.  While the carrots weren't necessarily roasted (the problem with using baby carrots per the recipe), they did taste good - sweet, but not too sweet.  Also not cooked to mush - my biggest complaint with cooked carrots.  4/5 - I'll do this recipe again, but maybe use real carrots instead to see if I like it better.

Finally, we made the Lemon Chicken which came from a recipe my Aunt gave me when I graduated from college (she had given me a nice Caphalon pan, a cookbook, a set of her favorite recipes and a bunch of Penzey's spices).  Shawn called the chicken, "chicken nuggets with lemon sauce."  Shawn wasn't much of a fan because he's not a fan of lemon flavor, but I liked them.  I'd have these again, but I'd add some veg and maybe some rice.  3.5/5

Served with Pillsbury Crescent Rolls since i wasn't positive that they'd go well with rice.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Cook Club: Week 4

After last week's Mac and Cheese, we decided to make the other Mac and Cheese recipe in the same cookbook (skillet mac and cheese).

It was a disappointment.  It was perfectly cheesy, but the mouth-feel was gritty.  I'm not really sure why (other than I figure it was the cheddar cheese).  So even though the other recipe, Potluck Baked Mac and Cheese, does take an extra 20 minutes and dirties an extra container, it's a much, MUCH better recipe.  Plus, if you plan it right, the container you put in the oven can be used to keep the left overs.  And that recipe made good left overs.  Honestly, this recipe was worse than just making Kraft or Velveeta Mac and Cheese.   Will I ever make this again? No.  1/5 (it was edible, and we did eat all the left overs, but that was out of laziness, not because they were good).

(also, no picture because, while I did take a picture, it just looks like cheese soup).

More importantly, on Saturday we ate at Spin: Modern Thai Cuisine.  Holy Amazeballs, Batman. I think we just found ourselves a new go-to sit down restaurant. 5/5

We didn't get any appetizers, Shawn had the Belly on Fire (Panko breaded pork belly) and I had the Panang Curry Fettuccine.  We also didn't get any drinks or dessert.  But we sat at the bar and got to watch all the food be made, the guys doing expediting and veg were very nice, kept asking us if there was anything else they could get us, etc.  Next time I think I'm going to try the Chrysanthemum tea.  mmmm....tea....

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Cook Club: Week 3

So there I go - all promising an entry a week and then I immediately blow it. 

We did do cook club on the 20th.  I chose everything from the Cook's Country Cookbook I got for Christmas.  I don't know why I like the Cook's Country stuff, but it probably has something to do with the combination of watching America's Test Kitchen and then getting like ONE magazine of theirs that had a delicious Blueberry Grunt in it.   They also have a really good 1 skillet meals cookbook.

After cleaning the kitchen, I made Peach Squares - essentially they're like lemon bars only made with peaches.  I made them because Shawn's not a fan of lemon bars.  In the end, they were so much work (and they would have been less work if I just chopped the peaches with a knife instead of putting them in the food processor as instructed (of course, if I had a 12 cup processor, it would have been easy peasy).  I didn't take a picture (I meant to, but totally forgot).  Will I make them again?  maybe.  Did I like them?  not really - I would have preferred lemon bars.  2/5

So then I cleaned the kitchen again.  And then I started in on the rest of the meal - Oven Fried Chicken, Green Bean Almandine, and Pot Luck Baked Mac and Cheese.

First the Chicken:  It's not quite as good as real fried chicken, but it was easy to make and had good flavor - the marinade (buttermilk, dijon mustard and hot sauce) was wonderful and I'd be willing to use that same marinade but pan fry the chicken.  The biggest problem we had was that the chicken breasts I used were massive so I cut them up into pieces and we had 9 servings when it was all said and done.  4/5

Green Bean Almandine:  Or, as my coworker calls them, "Green Beans with dem little Almandines."  Easy-peasy and yes, there is an actual recipe for it. 5/5

Pot Luck Baked Mac and Cheese:  Oh. Em. Gee.  It comes out of the pot looking essentially like cheese soup with some macaroni thrown in, but then it goes into the oven and becomes a delicious, wonderful little casserole.  It has a slight kick to it (hot sauce), but it is WONDERFUL.  5/5 and even more importantly, this will become something that we'll make with some regularity.

Then I cleaned the kitchen again.  And that is the point when Shawn said that we should only do one recipe instead of a whole meal because we're essentially throwing a dinner party for ourselves.  So next week, we're only going to do one recipe instead of 4 or 5.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cook Club: Week 2

Last weekend (the 13th), Shawn's mom called and asked if, for his dad's birthday, they could come over to the house and we'd make something for them (instead of going to a restaurant).  Shawn agreed and thus began "Cook Club with Bob and Elsie."

Since Bob is diabetic, we try to have protein and vegetable laden meals while keeping it light on the carbs.  So we opted to forgo the dinner rolls in the main meal and save the carbs for desert.

Leg of Lamb on the grill (recipes? we don't need no stinking recipes)
Provencal Gratin (from How to Boil Water)
Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (from Sprouts Newsletter)
Orange Flavored Chocolate Mousse (from Fresh)

Notes for Provencal Gratin:
Very bland - It really needs more garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and more cheese.  For the amount of prep time, I'd rather just make long slices of squash and cook on the grill.  Of course, if we weren't making something on the grill, then this would be the next best thing, but again, I'd change up the spices and add more cheese. I will admit that I did add an extra squash and two extra tomatoes to the mix (I forgot to tell Elsie not to chop up everything).  2/5

Notes for Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes:
I thought this recipe sounded kinda ick - Kale? Cranberries? all on top of a sweet potato?!  But it was delicious.  Other than the problem of only needing one, maybe two kale leaves and having to have pine nuts on hand, it's relatively easy to make and it tastes good. 5/5

Again with the fuzzy. You can see how bland the gratin is from here...

Orange Flavored Chocolate Mousse:
I have a thing against 'fake food' (okay, not really because I'll eat lemonade pie like no one's business*) - I'll use the full fat versions of food unless the low fat version is an actual food item as well (so using neufchatel cheese in place of cream cheese is fine, but using no fat salad dressing is just wrong). I feel the same way about Frozen Whipped Topping (aka CoolWhip).  If you're going to use frozen spun oil, you might as well use the full fat version.  But this chocolate mousse recipe uses the no fat version, so we'll use that.  THIS time.  I made the first mistake of actually buying Reduced Fat Oreo knock-offs (called WhoNu cookies) instead of buying the pre-crumbed version that's in the cooking isle.  Then I didn't have the right sized spring-form pan, so the mousse is squatter than it ought to be.  The recipe calls for a shot glass of Grand Marnier, zest of one orange and the juice from that orange.  The mousse was, shall we say, very orangey.  I'd probably cut back on the liquor, and maybe the zest as well.  I'd also prefer to use real whipped cream the next time around though I don't know if it would be able to hold up in the fridge.  And now that I'm thinking about it, why not make the mousses individual sized...may be easier to put them in a cup instead of in a spring form pan. 2/5

I forgot to take a picture last night, so here is a picture from today.  A problem with eating left overs of this mousse - it gets a skin on the cut edges...which is kinda ick-tastic.  Maybe I should cover it with clingwrap or something...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Molecular Gastronomy

For Christmas, my sister got Shawn a molecular gastronomy kit.  Shawn decided it was time to make something.  I present to you spherized drinkable yogurt (you can call them smoothie balls if you want):
Step 1:  Make your Sodium Alginate bath using your stick blender.  Find out that your stick blender is busted.  WONDERFUL!
Step 2:  Prepare your yogurt smoothie - add some Calcium Lactate and mix with spoon until dissolved.
Step 3: Drop teaspoons of the smoothie into the alginate bath.
Step 4: Wait.
Step 5: Fish balls out of alginate bath with slotted spoon and transfer to a water bath (to rinse).
Step 6: Yay! Yogurt smoothie balls!
Now then, you do have to be careful when adding the spoonfuls of smoothie to the alginate bath because if you don't get it all in in one fell swoop you end up with weird shapes...I can't quite decide if they look more like pink cat turds or little organs from a small animal.

Pink cat turds or pink organs?  either way, it's spherification gone wrong.

Enjoy your pink cat turds!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cook Club: Week 1

As I was flipping through cookbooks, I found three recipes that I wanted to try in my Hunger Games Unofficial Cookbook that my sister got me for Christmas last year.  I have, as to date, only made one recipe out of the book (hash browns).  As with most of my cookbooks, there isn't anything I have against the book, I just tend not to think of it when I'm making food...besides, it's much easier to go to and enter in the ingredients you have on hand and it returns recipes using those ingredients.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of recipes I won't be using from the HGU cookbook because they require things like muskrat or consist entirely of a handful of pine needles and hot water.

The three recipes I chose to make from the Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook are as follows:

Orange Muffins with Sweet Preserves
Mrs. Everdeen's Rabbit Stew
District 12 Drop Biscuits

Notes for Orange Muffins:
Not difficult to prepare - the toughest part is getting the butter melted.  It's not assertively orange flavored, but the muffins are very good - good crumb, easy to make.  Since I'm not prone to making preserves; in the future, I'll probably add some orange zest to bump up the flavor (or maybe a shot of Grand Marnier).  While the recipe says it only makes 12 muffins, it probably makes closer to 18 - I figured they probably didn't rise much since the recipe says that it makes 12 so I filled the tins to the top and now have a mess to clean in the oven.  Shawn says they taste like cornbread (they don't have any corn meal), but it probably has something to do with the 'struessal topping.'  Rating:  4/5
Orange Muffin with Clementine and Mimosa...because mimosas make everything better.
And then later in the day, I made the other two recipes...

Notes for Mrs. Everdeen's Rabbit Stew:
First thought - Rabbit tastes like chicken.  Good to know, next time I'll probably use chicken instead of paying for the rabbit.  Also, now I know that rabbit tastes like chicken so I'll eat it again in the future.  Second thought:  It made me cook this bacon, now what the hell am I supposed to do with it?  (the bacon is never mentioned again in the recipe directions after you cook it) (I ripped it into pieces and added it to the slow cooker).  Since we have a massive slow cooker, and I only had purchased two rabbit quarters, I added extra wine and water to get the cooker at least a quarter full.  The recipe only calls for a total of 1/4 cup wine and there are no other liquids.  Also, the rabbit was done in 4 hours instead of the recipe listed 6 (again, I think it's the fact that the cooker was only a quarter full).  We served the 'stew' with rice - it really is more like something you serve over rice or noodles as opposed to an actual stew. Rating 4/5

Notes for District 12 Drop Biscuits:
The biscuits were really good the night of, not so great as 'left overs'.  They probably would have been better as left overs if they had cheese in them.  I used my usual cookie scoop for portioning and the recipe made 18 biscuits instead of 12 (per recipe).  Made the biscuits (start to pulling out of the oven) in 20 minutes. Rating 3/5
Mrs. Everdeen's Rabbit Stew over white rice and District 12 Drop Biscuit.  I really need to work on not taking fuzzy photos...

Cook Club

At some point during the last few weeks, I had the brilliant idea that every weekend I should make a meal from recipes I've never made in my cookbooks.  I mentioned something about it on facebook - mostly because the original idea was "I should do this on the weekends that my dad is in town so he can come up here and have a good meal...well, if I'm going to have him over, I might as well have others over, too." The recommendation from Jon Grinder was that this thing be called "Cook Club."  Also, yes, I realize that this is like the entire premise of Julie and Julia only she was going through 1 cookbook - I'm using all of them with no goal of getting all the way through one, just a goal of actually using them.

I've brought it up at work, and the going theory is, once a month is good, every week may be a bit much.  So it looks like it will mostly be a Shawn and me thing and others may be invited over every once in a while (or if you want to come over some specific weekend, just let me know)

In any case, Cook Club 1) gives me something to do, 2) gets me to try new foods (kinda), 3) gets me taking pictures again...though I'm not a foodie and I don't 'get' pictures of food unless they're supposed to be educational and 4) gives me something to blog about.

Anyway...Allez Cuisine!

Monday, January 07, 2013

2012: A Year in Review

What did you do in 2012 that you had never done before?
Did a wine country tour in Santa Barbara, California

Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions and will you make more next year?
I don't make New Year's Resolutions, so yes, yes I did keep them

Did anyone close to you give birth?
No...a few coworkers had babies, but no family members.

Did anyone close to you die?
Close to me, no.  But we did lose two of our wonderful Austin Garden Bloggers this year - one to heart failure and one to breast cancer.

What countries did you visit?
I'll have to use the definition of "if it's outside of Texas, it's a foreign country" to do this - New Mexico and California

What would you like to have in 2013 that you didn't have in 2012?
More vacations.

What dates in 2012 will be etched in your memory and why?
January 6 - the date of my surgery.  December 28 - the date Bond and David moved away.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Achievement?  I don't have achievements...

What was your biggest failure?
Not having a garden was my goal.  I failed miserably.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
I fell while running...does that count?

What was the best thing you bought?

Whose behavior merited celebration?
My family.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
A bunch of those running for the republican nomination...

Where did most of your money go?
In order:  Home, Shopping, Food

What did you get really excited about?
Going to the San Diego Zoo

What song will always remind you of 2012?

Compared to this time last year, are you a) happier/sadder b)thinner/fatter and c)richer/poorer?
Happier, thinner and richer

What do you wish you'd done more of?

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Watch TV...worked late...eaten so many carbs...

How did you spend Christmas?
We went to Shawn's Parents' place for the day and then came home in time to meet my dad at our house to open gifts from my side of the family.

Did you fall in love in 2012?
Yes - I fell for a nice little girl named Biscuit.  Also with Spots and Stripes.

What was your favorite TV program?
Suits...or maybe Warehouse 13.

What was the best book you read?
Andrea Wolf - Founding Gardeners

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I'm counting Shawn's discovery - Fun!

What did you want and get?
My stand alone mirror for the bedroom

What did you want and not get?
A garden log...oh well, that's why I have a blog.

What was your favorite movie of 2012?
Probably a tie between Skyfall or Django Unchained.

What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?
We probably ate out...or maybe not, I seem to remember working on out either my birthday or on our anniversary...  Anyhow, I turned 31.  I'm getting old.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Getting more done on my yard plan.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2012?
As per usual, plain colored T-shirts and jeans

What kept you sane?
Books, the interwebs, my friends and family.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Don't even get me started...  Take Santorum or Ryan and pretty much yeah, that sums it up...

Who did you miss?
My extended family.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Wag more, bark less.