Small Dice Challenge: Brinner, Brupper, or Breakfast for Supper

Some girlfriends and I decided to get together Friday before Mother’s Day.  At first, we were going to bring appetizers, but then decided that, since we usually enjoy our brunches, we were going to have it for dinner.  Initially, I was going to take the easy route and bring turkey bacon because I wasn’t planning to go shopping for anything else, and I really didn’t have time to cook.  My memory failed me though and the turkey bacon I thought I had in my freezer was there no more.  My husband must have opened the last package and it was half used in the fridge. I knew that wouldn’t be enough. Therefore, I searched for more ingredients that I could get away with as breakfast-y.  I had half a container of Brussel sprouts, two potatoes and some tofu. I decided to make bacon and Brussel sprouts, and also breakfast potatoes substituted partly with tofu.

Now I will get a lot of backlash for this from haters out there, but I actually prefer turkey bacon to pig bacon. It’s perhaps partly because I raised two pigs on the farm, or because I don’t like the taste and texture of grease and fatty tissue on my tongue. Or maybe, I can eat more of turkey bacon and not feel like a pork chop. Anyways, if you bake it in the oven at 350°, it gets a pretty crunchy texture and can be chopped up to look like real bacon.  While the bacon cooked, I sautéed the Brussel sprouts to make it an even more beautiful green. I added salt, pepper, dried onions and a creole seasoning that claims it is “great on everything” (We’ll just see about that.)

For the breakfast potatoes, I first baked the potatoes for a couple of hours the day before. The next day, I chopped them up into cubes and sautéed it with salt, pepper, and red bell peppers.  Then, I set them aside.  I pretty much did the same with the tofu, but added paprika to them.  Afterwards, I put it all in a baking dish, threw some avocado oil on top, and put it in the oven on low.

When it was time to go, I took it out, threw some foil over it and put it in the car.  My daughter was a little overwhelmed by the smell of it in the car on the way to my friend’s house.  A few times I heard the crinkling of foil, so I peered in my rearview mirror and found my daughter sniffing the dish.  I told her she could have a little bit, and she was elated.  She approved by her classic sound of “mmmmmm.”

Small Dice Challenge: Spring Rolls and Chicken Wings

IMG_20160420_205017

I was grocery shopping when I came across the above.  I always love ordering Vietnamese spring rolls when I go out to Vietnamese restaurants, so I wanted to see if I could make them at home.  I remembered that I had bought shrimp meat a couple of days ago and figured I could use that instead of the big pieces one may usually find in them.  After all, I am on a budget.  Also, I had a slaw mix that I used to make egg rolls a few days before that needed to be used.  What can I say, I like my rolls.  So, I got to work fryin’ up some shrimp meat.

IMG_20160420_205102

After my meat was cooked, I used warm water to soften the wrappers, because they were like paper.  This was the most annoying process ever.  I tore each and every one.

IMG_20160420_205204

Some of my rolls ended up having more than one wrapper, because I would tear it as I rolled then I would just throw another wrapper on top to cover the hole.  They came out okay though.

IMG_20160420_205320

A little awkward to eat though.  My daughter thought they were too sticky…

IMG_20160420_205347

…so she tore them apart and just ate the shrimp.

Next, I made some chicken wings.  I put salt and pepper on them and baked at 350° for about 30 minutes.  While it was baking, I made a sauce.  I used soy sauce, honey, and the very last squirt of my spicy brown mustard.  When the chicken was done, I just mixed it all up in a bowl.

And it came out delicious.  My picky husband even approved, and I may just open my own Wings and more franchise.  IMG_20160420_205548

Small Dice Challenge: Chocolate Cookie Pie

Easter is not Easter without the story of a fall and rise of a being.  This is such a tale.  We were getting ready to visit our good friend, Rina.  I had promised her a hollow Easter bunny because she likes to break their heads off and put ice cream into them.  It is quite savage.  The day before visiting I put the bunnies (there was another one for her son as well) in the trunk and completely forgot about them until we were ready to leave the next day.  I opened my trunk and discovered a sight that was fit for an episode of CSI.  It was particularly warm that day, and the bunnies were hollow no more. Not wanting to waste perfectly good chocolate, I thought of what I could do. I happened to have pie crust in my fridge, so I thought about making a chocolate pie, but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about doing it.

So, I just started putting in the usual suspects.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • About 1/4 stick of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of flour
  • Not sure if baking powder was necessary but put it in anyways

And, yes, I still have pecans in my freezer. So, I chopped up the bunny and the pecans and threw them in, too.

I put the pie in at 350º for about 20 minutes or until the crust started to brown. I really didn’t follow the time. When I took it out, I broke some more chocolate pieces off and put them on top to melt. And there you go. Done.

My daughter loved it. She ate everything but the crust. So I pretty much could’ve made regular cookies.

IMG_20160331_145922

Small Dice Challenge: Sushi Rolls

The challenge this week is to see if I can make sushi rolls without all the necessary components that most sushi chefs have.  For one, I don’t have one of those fancy bamboo mat rollers and, two, I’m not exactly sure how their rice is made or what kind of rice they use.  I could google everything…but what is the fun in that?  I’ll pretend it’s 1997 and act like google doesn’t exist. (Full disclosure: I googled the date of when google started, it was September 4th, 1998) When I began this little experiment, I tried to think about how the rice got so sticky.  I thought sugar was added, so I did just that and cooked my rice like I normally did.  Without checking it afterwards, I put it in a Tupperware and then into the refrigerator to let it get cold.  The next day, I started to prepare my roll.  My husband was home, so as always, he asked what I was doing over my shoulder.  I explained my plan.  With some (eye)rolls of his own, he explained to me that was not how sticky rice was made.  Furthermore, he understood now why the rice tasted sweet when he went to prepare his lunch earlier in the day. I told him not to worry about it, it’ll still work in my roll.  The rice was a little loose, and I added some soy sauce to give it some flavor.  Then, I chopped cucumbers julienne style and placed them in the middle and rolled it all up.  My daughter thought it looked like a sushi burrito.  My husband continued to guffaw at the mess I was making as all the rice started falling out of the sides.  I guess I needed to try a different method for my rice.

As I was about to throw it out, he said he could make arroz con leche, but realized I had added salt and pepper to the dish.  In the trash it went.  He suggested I make it sticky by stirring it more to release more starch.  I hate it when he’s right.

 

IMG_20160303_193549
See…it’s sticky…

I remade my rolls and this time it worked.  I made cucumber and decided to use up some of the sauerkraut that sits in my fridge.  I thought it was similar enough to pickled radish rolls.

IMG_20160303_193458Now it was time for cutting my little sushi burrito….IMG_20160303_193524

And apparently, I need sharper knives.  I went through three different ones–they’re all dull.  Well, at least my daughter liked the rolls.  And even though my husband was hesitant to try them, he too approved.

 

IMG_20160303_193417

Small Dice Challenge: Last minute Valentine

This is late for Valentine’s Day, but my husband has been home lately in the evening and has been cooking.  Therefore, I haven’t, so I have been sitting back and enjoying the simple life (though not really because I have kids!)  My Valentine’s story, though, goes a little something like this.  Before leaving for work the evening before, my husband tells me that he is working Valentine’s Day morning and will be off in the evening.  What?!! I didn’t plan anything.  Ugh, holidays are so much work.  I didn’t feel like searching for things to make, and I figured my experimental meals wouldn’t be romantic, so I cheated this week.  My sister-in-law made a roast beef in the crock pot when we visited for Christmas.  I knew my husband enjoyed it, and it seemed so simple when she told me how she made it.  I texted her really quick and asked where she got the recipe.  Come to find out, she didn’t have a recipe, she just threw everything in the crock pot.  It did help that she told me to put the vegetables at the bottom, because I wouldn’t have known to do that.  Also, she explained that she whisked beef stock and seasoning together to pour over everything.  This was also helpful, because I wouldn’t have known to do that either.  After throwing everything in, I set the crockpot to 7 hours on low.  Actually, I set it to high, but then had to go back to double check my sister-in-law’s text and then changed it to low.

I then had to come up with a dessert.  Mostly, though, it was for me and my daughter, since my husband doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth.  I remembered seeing something on Facebook that involved cherries and chocolate, and it looked like something easy to make.  I first made some brownies, then crushed them and made a coat over the cherries.  Of course, I learned that I needed to dry the cherries, since the wetness made the brownies not stick.

After creating the base, I melted some white chocolate in a bowl over a boiling pot (a trick I learned watching pastry cooks in the kitchen).  My daughter helped by dipping the cherries into it.  It is not a clean process.  When the dipping was done, we put everything to harden in the fridge.

About an hour before eating, I realized I had some brussel sprouts in my fridge, so I decided to roast those with garlic and butter in our handy little toaster oven.

IMG_20160214_180708222

When the brussel sprouts were done, we were finally ready to eat.  The food was enjoyed by all. The kingdom rejoiced. Cupid played his trumpet.  And we lived happily ever after.

 

Small Dice Challenge: Asian Fusion

I think it’s been awhile since I have done a mystery challenge.  I guess it’s time to get back to my roots.  Plus, I had some lamb that was going to expire, so I had my daughter pick out other ingredients to go with it.  She chose the following:

 

IMG_20160131_194544
Natural lamb flank steak, Organic green onions, Grapefruit, and Organic Brown Eggs

I was having a craving for some Japanese after hearing that Mimi was celebrating Chinese New Year with an amazing feast featured here, so I decided to make my own Asian fusion meal. I had a little bit of wontons leftover from the time I stuffed them with chicken and cabbage.  This time I was going to do it with cream cheese.  I sauteed the green onions a bit to bring out their flavor, then I mixed in soy sauce, garlic, and cream cheese. My daughter volunteered (by volunteered, I mean I told her she needed something to do) to wrap them, so I showed her a couple of times and put her to work. My daughter tasted a little and said, “I think I like the smell, not the taste…but can I lick my fingers?” She did a pretty good job, no worse than me, that is.  It even inspired her to say she wanted to be a chef, but I’m not holding my breath.  Just this year, she’s gone from Dr. to midwife to Vet to Chef and by the time she was finished making the wontons, she wanted to be a teacher. As she was telling me how “easy” it was to be a chef and a teacher, I put the wontons in the oven at 350°.

While the wontons were getting crispy, I made rice and started on my lamb.  Now let me tell you about how I like my lamb.  If you put anything more that salt and pepper on them, they are ruined.  I like them gamey straight from the fields of Scotland.  I have to taste the flavor of the lamb along with the grass that it ate.  That is all.

IMG_20160131_135859553

What I did with the grapefruit was something special.  I remembered that Mimi, my muse, had told me a couple of weeks ago that she made kimchi aioli which sounded interesting to me, especially since I had some that was homemade (not by me) rotting away in my fridge.  I blended it with the grapefruit and vegenaise (vegan mayonnaise) as well as salt and pepper.

IMG_20160131_194800

At this point, I started to get a stomachache from something I might have eaten earlier in the day and was indisposed for a little while, which allowed me to burn some of my rice (because I forgot to turn it down to simmer) and overcook my wontons.  In the end, though, my meal wasn’t half bad (I didn’t eat any of it, though, again stomach issues).  My daughter, however, enjoyed it, yelling from the table to me in the bathroom, “Your food is REAL good, Mama!” She ate everything on her plate and even asked for more aioli for dipping. Alas, I’ll never know how good it was, but if the kid likes it, it’s a success!

IMG_20160131_195330

 

Small(est) Dice Challenge: Baby’s First Birthday Cake

This past week, my son celebrated his first birthday.  My husband’s uncle wanted to make one of his signature, grand cakes, but I don’t give my babies sugar.  I allowed him to make his cake for the family, but my son was going to get a healthy cake.  I searched online for cakes with no sugar and stuff he has yet been introduced.  I found pieces of information that were helpful, but didn’t please me 100%.  Yes, I’m one of THOSE mothers. So, in my usual fashion, I just decided to wing it.  Most recipes had bananas in it, I guess that takes care of the sugar and butter part maybe.  I started by mashing them into a “dough.”  My son was not pleased at first for me ruining a perfectly good banana, but I let him look at what I was doing, and he even grabbed a taste.

IMG_20160119_134011614

Some recipes said add oatmeal, but I think oatmeal may still be hard for him to chew, so I used his baby oatmeal cereal.  I mean, might as well, he never cared for it by itself.  I, then, added applesauce, which had no added sugar.  It was all apples.  I also put in wheat flour.  Some people use vanilla for taste, but what does he know about vanilla.  He won’t miss it. I mixed it all up, until it looked like a basic muffin mix.

Finally, I put it in my muffin pan.  I did a test batch first, in case, 375° ended up being too hot.  I thought my usual 350° was not going to cook the mush well enough, so I went a little higher.

IMG_20160119_135046501

After baking, the “cupcakes,” I made the frosting, which was Greek yogurt and applesauce.  It wasn’t bad.

IMG_20160124_130214033
Finally, he gets to lick the batter off.

Now my little cake didn’t look very good next to the big cake, so I hid it among the fruit on the top and put a giant candle on it.  It blended right in with it.

 

My son was happy with his little cake and, best of all, he didn’t end up with a tummyache.  Furthermore, other people approved of it as just a healthy bread alternative to their coffee.  I think I won this round.

IMG_20160128_131609