Friday, May 30, 2008

Eewy gooey monte cristo sandwich

Recipe name: Monte Cristo Sandwich
source: Food Network
servings 1 sandwich
Cookbook date: May 21
Date prepared:

3 slices white bread
Mayonnaise, as needed
2 slices Gouda
2 slices turkey
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Strawberry slices, for garnish
Orange wedges, for garnish

Serving suggestion: Blackberry jam

On a work surface, lay out 2 slices of bread and spread with mayonnaise. Top each slice with the 1 slice of Gouda and 1 slice of turkey each. Put the third slice of bread on top of one stack, and flip the remaining stack on top, cheese-side down, to make a triple-decker sandwich.

Using a knife, cut the crusts off the sandwich (this helps to pinch and seal the ends). Wrap the sandwich tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours. (Wrapping the sandwich in plastic wrap, compacts it, and prevents the egg batter from seeping in.)

Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Unwrap the sandwich and dip it in the egg batter, to coat evenly. Gently place it in the skillet, and fry, turning once, until golden brown and hot, about 5 minutes total.

Cut the Monte Cristo in 1/2, transfer it to a place, and garnish with the strawberry and orange. Spoon some jam over each 1/2 and serve immediately.

Tim here. Well both Tiffany and I didn't much care for this one. Overall we thought it was too greasy of a dish, even with me cutting the amount of oil and butter by half. I didn't have any slices of cheese, just shredded, so it was hard to gauge how much equaled a slice. Being a cheese lover I erred on the side of too much cheese and it was, well, too much. Besides being greasy and heavy there wasn't a lot to the taste of the meal. I don't think we will be trying this one again. If you have a monte cristo recipe you think rocks we would love to hear about it.

value: ****
time: **
taste: *

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pint-sized pound cake

Recipe name: Lemon cream cheese pound cake
source: no idea
servings: 8-12
Cookbook date: May 20
Date prepared: May 21

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (2 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
3 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
1 cup flour

lemon syrup
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
remaining lemon juice from lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bundt pan and dust with flour.
Blend cream cheese and butter with a mixer until fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating for 4 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the lemon peel and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Stir in flour and salt using a spatula. Bake for 1 hour.
Remove cake from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Poke several holes in the cake with a toothpick. Drizzle the lemon syrup over the holes and let it absorb. Serve.

To make the lemon syrup, combine 2/3 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water and remaining lemon juice in a saucepan. Heat until mixture is thickened.

First, know my substitutions: I substituted 4 tablespoons of applesauce for 4 tablespoons of butter. I might recommend doing 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp applesauce so you get more of a butter flavor, but I was feeling especially lazy tonight. We also use whole wheat flour, so your overall look (and taste) would turn out differently using white flour.

I followed the directions more or less, even though I found all the time I had to spend mixing in between ingredient additions to be stupid. But I suspect that there is a reason for these steps, so I would say that I used the mixer for about 75% of the recommended time.

Let me show you what this cake looked like when it was done:

I'm going to assume that you feel very disappointed, just like I did when I pulled this mofo out of the oven. It is true that when I put it in the oven I thought, "Hmm...there doesn't seem to be a lot of substance in this here bundt pan. But wait, this is a POUND cake; it will not let me down. What a fool I am to question its might!"

Nope, it is obvious from the picture that this caked failed to rise to the occasion (heh heh). Perhaps that is because it didn't call for any baking powder (or soda....I never know which ones makes stuff rise). Does anyone know if that is standard for a pound cake?

Ok, so as a person of slight stature myself, I realized that I needed to let the size thing go. After all, good things come in small packages, right? So I poured the lemon syrup (and by syrup I mean sugary water) over the bundt cake, and watched a lake of syrup gather in the middle. This was strike two against this cake. And for the taste? Well, it tastes like wet, dense, slightly burnt cake. While I have fairly low standards for what is and is not acceptable to eat, this one just won't be making the cut. In my opinion, if you are going to eat something loaded with calories, don't settle for mediocre, wet cake!


Monday, May 26, 2008

A twist on the sausage biscuit

Recipe name: Sausage biscuits
source: no idea
servings: 6-8
Cookbook date: April 8
Date prepared: May 13
1/2 lb pork breakfast sausage
1 1/2 cups baking mix
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, break up sausage and cook over medium heat until thoroughly cooked. Drain on paper towels. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix baking mix, cheese and sausage until well distributed. In a separate small bowl, beat together egg, milk and salt and pepper. Add to baking mixture and blend until mix forms a ball. Shape into 24 balls, using about 1 tbsp of dough for each. place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until browned and cooked through. Serve immediately.
Well, as you can tell by the picture, these biscuits won't be winning any beauty contests. This is partially my fault, in hind-sight. I was much too hasty in scooping out and shaping the dough (ok, full confession...I didn't shape the dough at all!). This was a mistake and one that I will change for the future. Also, this recipe only yielded 12 biscuits, not 24 as promised.
Tim (the husband) didn't like the taste, and I only liked them ok. As it is, I feel that the sausage completely overwhelms the biscuit; more subtlety of flavor would be appreciated by yours truly. In an attempt to take the sausage taste down a notch, I dug around for something sweet to put on the biscuit. I tried honey first, with disappointing results. Then I found some pear preserves and was quite pleased with the taste!
I'm going to keep the recipe, but not without some significant recipe adjustments. Here's what I'll do next time: double all the ingredients except for the sausage and the cheese. Increase the cheese by 1/4 cup. Leave the sausage as is. These will go great with fried eggs and some fresh fruit.

expense: ****

Saturday, May 24, 2008


It may give you some insight into my work ethic to see that I'm going on vacation a week after launching my blog. In defense of myself, the vacation has been planned since late February and the blog was conceived in my head a few weeks ago.

We are headed to Destin for 4 days of playing in the sand, followed by my much younger sister's high school graduation. The finale will be a trip to Huntsville for hangout time with my BFF and her new baby, the littlest rootie-toot.

Before you begin to wallow in despair at my time away from the computer, please know that I have planned for my absence! There will be three more recipes posted next week for your inspiration (possibly) and your entertainment (most likely).

By the way, if you have recipes that you think Tim and I should try, send them my way and we'll add them to our pile.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Chicken Satay Salad Sammies

Recipe name: Chicken Satay Salad Sammies
source: Rachel Ray (Food Network)
servings: 4
Cookbook date: May 19
Date prepared:

1 1/2 pounds thin cut chicken breast meat (cutlets)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Grill seasoning (recommended: Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick) or coarse salt and pepper
3 rounded tablespoons chunky peanut butter
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce, eyeball it
1/4 cup apple juice, eyeball it
2 teaspoons hot sauce, eyeball it
1 lime, juiced
1/4 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise then cut into sticks
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups shredded lettuce, iceberg or hearts of romaine
4 crusty rolls, keisers or subs, split

Heat a grill pan or large nonstick skillet to medium high to high heat. Coat chicken in oil and grill seasoning and cook 3 minutes on each side in 2 batches. Pile up meat and shred it with a sharp knife.

Place peanut butter in a medium, microwave safe bowl and soften in the microwave on high for 20 seconds. Whisk soy, apple juice, hot sauce and lime juice into peanut butter. Toss chicken with satay sauce. Combine shredded veggies. Place 1/4 of veggies on sandwich bottoms and top with 1/4 satay chicken mixture. Set the bun tops in place and serve or wrap for travel.

Just a heads up, this is Tim, Tiffany's husband. We will be jointly posting on this blog with the "lead" cook taking the responsibility for posting about the dish. I made a few changes to the dish to make it work for us.
Once again I used the George Foreman as it was faster and tastier than pan grilled chicken. In fact we had some left over grilled chicken left over so I didn't even have to grill the recipe.

I noticed that the recipe suggested to "eyeball" the measurements so I did. Anybody who knows anything about how I cook knows how out of character this is for me. I like to do everything by the book, at least for the first time I do the recipe. I may have been tired or lazy, probably both, so I just put in approximations of the amounts. The only thing I cut out was the cucumber, yuck.

My overall impressions of this dish is that it was very fast and easy and didn't create a lot of dishes to be cleaned. The sauce wasn't that flavorful, although that may have been my fault not the recipe's That being said I liked the fact I could still taste the grilled chicken, bun and veggies instead of just the sauce. Tiffany on the other hand didn't really care for the sauce or the dish in general. I'm not sure if we will cook it again since only one of us liked the dish but take my advice and try it out.

expense: ***
time: ****
taste: **

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fusion meatloaf?!

Recipe name: Hawaiian meatloaf with peanut glaze
source: no idea
servings: 4-6
Cookbook date: May 11
Date prepared: May 17 (dinner)

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp finely minced fresh ginger (1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

peanut glaze
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp minced garlic

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix until well blended. Put into a greased loaf pan and bake about 50 minutes, or until done.

While the meatloaf is baking, make the peanut glaze. To make the glaze combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and continue to cook until thickened. Pour about 1/4 cup of the peanut glaze over the top of the meatloaf 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Serve the remaining warm peanut glaze on the side.

What can I say? I'm a complete sucker for food that sounds strange. If a recipe combines meat and fruit, the odds are good that I will give it a try. This recipe did not disappoint, and it accomplished a dual feat: it was both strange and strangely good! Putting the meatloaf together was very simple and fast. The sauce was also very simple, though I would suggest having all the ingredients out before you start. Tim thought that the pineapple chunks should be bigger (he said he could hardly taste them), but I thought they were just right. The glaze, however, was where it was at, friends! It puts the traditional pseudo-ketchup topping to shame. Because the taste was so unusual for a meatloaf, I can't see myself making this frequently, but it will definitely keep its spot in our year long cookbook. I wish the picture was more appetizing, but let's be real, it's meatloaf.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a side to go with this?


Monday, May 19, 2008

Trying my hand at homemade chicken bbq

Recipe name: Smoky Orange Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
source: Rachel Ray (Food Network)
servings: 4
Cookbook date: May 14
Date prepared: May 17 (lunch)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
1 orange, zested and cut into wedges, for garnish
1 cup chicken broth
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
vegetable oil, for drizzling
grill seasoning
romaine lettuce
sliced red onions
4 crusty rolls, split, toasted and buttered
(note: RR's recipe includes instructions on making cole slaw, which I did not attempt)

Preheat a grill pan or griddle pan over medium-high heat. Heat a small saucepan over moderate heat. Add oil and onion. Saute onion in oil for 3-5 minutes or until onions are soft. Combine chipotle peppers in adobo, ketchup, orange juice, orange zest and chicken broth in a blender. blend on high until sauce is smoother. Pour sauce into saucepan with onion and heat to a bubble. Reduce heat to simmer. Coat chicken lightly with a drizzle of oil and season breasts with grill seasoning blend. Grill 5-6 minutes on the first side, turn. remove 1/2 of the barbecue sauce to a small bowl and baste chicken liberally with it. turn chicken after 4 minutes, coat with sauce again and cook another 2-3 minutes. To serve sandwiches, slice grilled chicken on an angle and fan out 1 breast on each bun bottom. Spoon remaining sauce from saucepan over the sliced chicken. serve open faced with the lettuce and red onions setting on bun tops to the side.

Well, this was certainly an adventure. First, I should tell you about my substitutions in light of what was hanging out in my fridge today. First, I had 5 chipotle peppers in adobo, not 3, and I didn't want to save 2 for later. So I used them all. This resulted in my mouth dying a thousand deaths, but we'll get to that in a minutes. Second, I used yellow onions instead of red, and I didn't have any romaine lettuce, but I did have spinach. Greens are greens, right? Furthermore, the recipe called for ketchup, but I actually had some half-used barbecue sauce in the fridge, so I added that instead.

While I was making this, everything was going along rather smoothly untilI reached the point where I had to blend all of the ingredients together. I realized then that I had not followed the instructions correctly. I added the peppers, bbq sauce, oj, zest and broth to the onions and they were already rather hot. "No big deal," I thought. I transferred everything to the blender, turned it on, and witnessed the mass destruction of everything within a 4 foot radius of the blender.

So evidently the steam from the sauce created pressure in the blender that could not be contained. Oops. After throwing out several choice words to the universe and quickly wiping up the mess, I proceeded with the recipe. I used the George Foreman to grill the chicken, which saved a bit of time.

The first picture is what my dish looked like when all was said and done. I observed that the sauce was of a most unfortunate consistency....very runny, and not reminiscent at all of a condiment that you would top any sort of burger with. But I have had many more winners than losers with Rachel Ray's recipes, so I thought I might as well dig in.

And that, my friends, is when I proceeded to take a handful of years off of my life. How can I describe the heat in this sauce? Words fail me here, so just try to imagine me chugging down my whole glass of water, then chomping as fast as I could on extra spinach leaves like a cow with indigestion. Finding no relief with these methods, I then went for the milk (oh yes, right out of the jug). And in a last ditch effort, I literally ran around the house hoping to sweat it out with exercise. I've been working on this post for about 10 minutes, and I'm just now starting to get the feeling back in my mouth. Perhaps I have a more British palette than your average Joe, and you may find this recipe to be quite satisfying. I will be taking a pass on this one. And now I have to go flush my eyes out because I just touched my eye, and now it is on fire. Smoky Orange Chicken BBQ sandwich, I officially hate you.

expense: ***
time: ***
taste: *

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Crockpot Meatball Taco Soup

Recipe Name: Crockpot Meatball Taco Soup
source: no idea
servings: 4
Cookbook date: May 5
Date prepared: May 14

16 oz package frozen Italian meatballs
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14 oz) cans beef broth
1 (16 oz) jar salsa
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 cup short spiral pasta
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Combine meatballs, onion, green pepper, garlic, beef broth, salsa, chili powder and cumin in a 3-4 quart Crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours. Add pasta, stir well, cover and cook on low and additional hour or until pasta is tender. sprinkle with cheese and serve. 4-6 servings.

I made this without the green bell pepper and I cut the onion amount in half. I also used 1 can of beef broth and 1 can of vegetable broth. The next time I make it I will do 2 cans of vegetable broth because the dish was just too beefy for our taste. I would also recommend only topping individual bowls with cheese rather than the whole thing . That way, everyone can choose how much cheese they want. I should also note that I forgot to add the chili powder and the cumin until the last hour, but that didn't really seem to matter. The pasta only needed about 20 minutes, and not an hour as directed.

Rarely have I had success with CrockPot recipes, even though I so desperately want them to work. Who doesn't like the concept of throwing a bunch of stuff into a pot and having it transform into a delicious meal when you get home from work? Unfortunately, 90% of the CrockPot meals I have tried have either burned by the time I got home, or turned into a gross pile of mush.
With some tweaking, this dish will actually turn out to be a winner, saving my CrockPot from the donation pile!

expense: ***
time: * (but remember, all the work is done while you are away)
taste: **

Star rating explanation

1 star: more than $3.00 per serving
2 stars: $2.00-$3.00 per serving
3 stars: $1.00-$2.00 per serving
4 stars: $1.oo or less per serving

1 star: over an hour from start to finish
2 stars: 41-60 minutes
3 start: 21-40 minutes
4 stars: 20 minutes or less

1 star: we both didn't like it
2stars: one of us didn't like it
3 stars: we both liked it enough to eat it once per year
4 stars: we both loved it

Friday, May 16, 2008

About the blog

In my house we have a term for the feeling that can come over you after work when you are too tired to think about anything at all, including dinner. You would rather sit on your bum and stare at the tv, and it is always nice if someone will listen to you while you whine about how hard it is to be you. We call this being "moosy." I don't know what the moose did to deserve being associated with this bad attitude, but such is life.

This blog is about my determined efforts to feed the moose who live in our home. My ultimate goal is to have 365 days of (mostly) unique recipes that are a culinary trifecta (cheap, easy to make and tasty). I am a planner by nature, but I have no desire to sit down daily or weekly for the rest of my life and think about what we are eating. I want to come up with what works, have a great variety of options, and be done with it!

My posts will reveal the fact that I am not a very good cook. I pay too little attention to the directions, and I substitute freely. The result can be good or bad, as you can imagine. Perhaps I will improve my cooking skills a bit over time since now (theoretically) the whole world will be watching me cook. Or perhaps you will just get a few laughs from my mishaps. Either way, I'm happy.

You will notice that I will give things a rating between 1-4 for each of the following categories: cost, time and taste. Please click here for a detailed understanding of the ratings.

You may notice that there are some ingredients that rarely or never show up on this blog. We rarely cook with ground beef. Instead, we tend to eat ground turkey. We also eat turkey bacon.

We never cook with sour cream, fresh spices (simply too expensive for us), green bell peppers, cucumber and mushrooms.
We rarely cook with ground beef, but instead prefer ground turkey. We also substitute turkey bacon for regular bacon.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Comment policies

The vibe on this blog should be positive and helpful. Therefore, I reserve the right to delete comments that I find to be negative or otherwise harmful.
Examples of behavior that violates the intentions of this blog include but are not limited to the following:
personal attacks
hateful speech
obscene language

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