"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived."
-Jean Luc Picard

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's a Sandy thing, you wouldn't understand...

I was thinking that some of my readers may be puzzled by the alternate spellings, expressions, etc.. that show up on my blog. I'll try to explain what is going on for those who are unfamiliar with the television show Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee. I learned these terms from spending way too much time over at the TWoP board for her show!!

I'm sure I missed some terms or made mistakes along the way. Hopefully, some of my fellow shrikes will point out any glaring errors or omissions! If you know the origin of a word or phrase, please let me know.

Thanks to Rosie Hawthorne of Kitchens are Monkey Business for her kind assistance!

Words sometimes used in place of her given name of Sandra:

  • Aunt Drunky
  • Aunt Sandy
  • Ol' Puddin' Cups
  • Sandy
  • SLoP/SLOP/SLop
  • Snadra
  • Snads
  • SHAMdra/Shamdra
  • Wal-Martha
A guide to the alternate pronunciations Sandy uses:
  • Aig-egg
  • Aigstract/eggstract-a liquid extract such as vanilla
  • Arussipees/russipees- recipes
  • Bee-yooo-tee-ful-beautiful
  • Day-kor-decor
  • Delishus-delicious
  • Engines from the sky -angels from the sky
  • Expresso -espresso
  • Fiend herbs-fine herbs
  • Flay ming yon-filet mignon
  • F'ntastic-fantastic
  • fohndont-fondant
  • Gaw-jus-gorgeous
  • Gerbil-chervil
  • Gorganzola-Gorgonzola
  • Groshury -grocery
  • Hard-bowled aigs-hard boiled eggs
  • Imonna- I am going to ...
  • Inajar- in a jar
  • INto-into ( she emphasizes the first syllable)
  • Joos/joose-juice
  • lil'-little
  • Manaise/maynase-mayonnaise
  • MARScapone-Mascarpone
  • Melk-milk
  • Mirinira-Marinara as in Marinara sauce
  • ONto -onto ( she emphasizes the first syllable)
  • Oranj-orange
  • Prisontation-presentation
  • Razzburry-raspberry
  • Rose peppers- roasted peppers
  • Regulur- regular
  • Sodalicious- so delicious
  • Strawburry-strawberry
  • Treasurly-tres jolie
  • Vanella-vanilla
  • Vinegar-ette -vinaigrette
  • Woostishyer- Worcestershire Sauce
  • Wunnerful-wonderful
Words and phrases Sandy uses and their meanings:
  • Acorns-corn nuts. See Kwanzaa Cake
  • Any word with extra 'l's-Same word with the correct number of 'l's.
  • Attention to detail- What Sandy says regarding something she has done that she perceives as special or going the extra mile.
  • Balsamic- Balsamic vinegar
  • Bacon joos/joose- Bacon grease
  • Can I just tell you? -What Sandy says before she explains or confides something.
  • Cocktail time- This is the segment when Sandy makes up very potent alcoholic drinks on her show.
  • Cooking from scratch- See 'Monkey business'.
  • Dolled-up-To use one convenience product to change the appearance or taste of another convenience product . Rarely, she will use a fresh product in the same manner. Can also apply to non-food items in a decorating sense.
  • Embellish-See Dolled-up.
  • Fancy-dancy-Something Sandy perceives as elite, expensive, or fussy.
  • France the 'City of Lights'-Sandy said this on her French Foods episode. It is assumed that she meant to refer to the city of Paris which is located in the country of France.
  • Gravy-This is either the liquid that accumulates in a slowkukker after cooking meat, or the jarred, canned, or dry packet versions from your regulur groshury store.
  • Great flavor- Means it contains booze or a seasoning packet. Sometimes it will contain both.
  • I cannot wait for that watermelon fizz!!-Sandy said this in the Sunset Clambake episode. It was at the very end of a rambling run-on sentence where she extolled the virtues of being outside in a swimsuit near a body of water.
  • Joos/Joose - The liquid from any fruit, vegetable, or canned product. It sometimes also refers to the grease that can result from cooking a meat product. Example: INto this bowl, Imonna pour this bacon joos ONto my green beans.
  • Kitchenscape- Same as tablescape but in the kitchen.
  • Kurtain Kraft- Pre-shaped wire product that you thread fabric through for decorating. Invented by Sandra Lee. Shrikes sometimes add extra 'k's or replace the letter 'c' with a 'k' as a joke in reference to this product.
  • Kwanzaa Cake- An store bought angel food cake in which the hole in the middle of the cake has been 'embellished' with apple pie filling and the outside of the cake is frosted with some 'dolled-up' canned frosting. It is then further 'embellished' by sprinkling corn nuts, (which Sandra calls 'acorns') and pumpkin seeds over the cake. Popcorn was also added in the original written version of the 'arussipe'. The final 'attention to detail', is to shove several large taper candles down INto the cake. This 'arussipe' has since been removed from the Food Network's website. The cake is considered highly offensive to anyone who celebrates Kwanzaa, or possesses taste buds. (Here's another video in case the first one is removed.)
  • Milli Vanilli/MV - The person (or team) whose job it is to try and make Sandy's 'arussipes' presentable for the camera. Also responsible for prep work and the stunt dishes used on the show.
  • Milli Vanilli hands/MV hands- This is where camera shots showing close ups of hands performing activities such as chopping vegetables, do not match up with known images of Sandy's hands.
  • Minute- A measurement of time consisting of 100 seconds.
  • Monkey Business -This encompasses anything that Sandy fears, doesn't understand, disagrees with, or thinks is beneath her.
  • My Buddha... She's faux.-Sandy said this during an episode while referring to a statue of Kwan Yin that she had on her tablescape. The female pronoun is not normally used when referring to the Buddha. Shrikes are not in agreement as to what exactly she meant by this statement other than the fact that Buddha was not corporally present during the taping of this episode.
  • Pantry- The place where Sandy keeps all of the items for her tablescapes and kitchenscapes. All current available colors of Kitchen-Aid stand mixers are said to be housed there. It is rumored that this facility encompasses one whole city block and has multiple floors. She has another smaller one on the set of her show that contains liquor and a large selection of convenience food products.
  • Pop ____ - To place or put. Example: INto your lil' bowl, I want you to pop this Vanella aigstract.
  • Pre -means already. Example: INto the oven, Imonna pop these pre-chopped nuts to toast up. On the Log Cabin Camping episode, she gave one guest some food to eat before the other guests arrived. She cautioned him not tell the other guests that he had pre-ate.
  • Seasoning blend- A bag of frozen, pre-chopped sweet onions, celery, green peppers, red peppers and fresh parsley flakes made by Pict sweet.
  • Set up- to abandon a food item out of camera range, so that it can easily be swapped out for the stunt dish. It is sometimes done when the appearance of the item in question, is more unappealing than usual.
  • Simple simple- This is something Sandy may say while assembling or after completion of one of her 'arussipies' or 'tablescapes'. It is usually said in reference to one of the more insane 'tablescapes' or 'arussipies'.
  • Smartest thing on the block-This means that she has used a convenience product in a way that tastes awful, doesn't make sense, or costs at least twice as much as if she made it from scratch.
  • Sweetness- A term of endearment that Sandy occasionally uses when referring to some of her family members/significant others and certain ingredients in her 'arussipes'.
  • Tablescapes/tablerapes/stupidscapes- This is when Sandy 'embellishes' her table and dining room or dining area, to coordinate with her food and clothing. The indoor designs may include elements such as chairs on the table, records hung from the ceiling and large gatherings of nutcrackers. The design normally inhibits the view of diners and may even prevent food from being placed on the table. Foods are frequently placed on unstable items to obtain the varying heights that Sandy desires. For outside events, a formal dining table may be moved outside and placed in a park or even in a parking lot. Chandeliers can be hung from trees, and motorcycles may be parked near outside tables. When this is done in her kitchen, it is called a kitchenscape.
  • The best time of the day!- See cocktail time
  • Thick, rich, and delishus or TRD- See Great flavor.
  • This gives great racetrack flavor!- Sandy said this during the Racetrack Tailgate episode where she prepared the entire meal on her portable outdoor kitchen next to a racetrack. The statement is puzzling because if one were to lick the actual surface of the racetrack, it would not be a pleasant experience. See Great flavor for more details.
  • Thoughtful/Thoughtfully-Sandy uses these words the way most most people would use careful or carefully.
  • Trick- Any simple tip related to cooking that Sandy has just now learned. If you can boil water without burning down your house, then you probably learned this 'trick' years ago. She also occasionally has a 'trick' that is not culinary related. For those tips, if you know how to operate a light switch, then you probably already know this 'trick' as well.
  • Verb followed by the word 'up'-This usually means the exact same thing as if the word 'up' was omitted. Example: INto the microwave, Imonna pop this butter to melt up.
  • You can see the flavor/Can you see the flavor?- See Great flavor
  • Yum-See Great flavor
  • Whoot!-denotes excitement, happiness, or to call attention to the fact that an accident has been narrowly avoided. Sandy frequently uses it in the vicinity of alcoholic beverages.
Shrike Words and Expressions

  • Choking hazards:Describes the items Sandy places in her drink 'arussipies', that guests must navigate around to consume the beverage.
  • Fauxography-The special the Food Network did that details her life. It is called 'faux', because some facts of her official life story have changed over the years. When all 'facts' are gathered together and compared, disturbing inconsistencies are found.
  • Me washie handsies- To draw attention to the act of washing one's hands. Sandra makes a big production out of the times that she actual washes her hands. She normally doesn't wash them long enough or frequently enough. She also doesn't always use soap.
  • Pudding cups- These are Sandra's "girls".
  • Semi-ho'ed- To cook something using convenience products.
  • Slow-kukker-slowkukker-See Kurtain Kraft under the Words and phrases Sandy uses section.
  • Whack-a-dough- Packaged raw biscuit, pizza, etc...dough that comes in a can.
  • Yoda speak- Sandra frequently reverses the word order in her sentences which reminds shrikes of the character Yoda from the Star Wars movies. Example: INto this bowl, Imonna thoughtfully drop these razzburries.
People in the Sandyverse
  • Aunt Peggy-This is Sandy's aunt who cries when she gets roses and is married to Uncle Bill.
  • Austin- One of Sandy's nephews.
  • Bryce/Brycer - One of Sandy's nephews.
  • Carrie- This is Sandy's friend who created the Espresso Martini.
  • Cindy - One of Sandy's siblings.
  • C'leen- Colleen is one of Sandy's friends. Her favorite drink is a White Russian so Sandy likes to make her White Knight Saketinis. She and her friends were taken aback when Sandy first suggested putting a slice of avocado on a cheeseburger.
  • Fandras - The name shrikes have given to Sandra's most rabid fans.
  • Grandma Dicey-This is Sandra's other grandmother.
  • Grandma Lorraine -The deceased grandmother who took in Sandy after her parents divorced, and supposedly taught her how to shop, cook, and bake on a budget. In different episodes, Grandma Lorraine hails from different states in the US.
  • Hillary-She introduced Sandy to the concept of using a 'slowkukker'.
  • Kimber/Miss Kimmie/Kimmie - One of Sandy's siblings.
  • Lee or Lee Lee - This is Kimber's husband. He has a thing for large, black stone fountains.
  • Rich - One of Sandy's siblings.
  • Scotty-One of Sandy's nephews.
  • Shrikes- Those who dislike her and her philosophy towards food and its preparation.
  • Stephanie/Miss Stephanie- This is Sandy's niece.
  • The Ladder - Andrew Cuomo, Sandy's current significant other.
  • The Stepladders- These are Andrew Cuomo's children from a previous marriage.
  • The Wallet - This is Sandy's first husband Bruce Karatz.
  • Uncle Bill-This is Sandy's uncle who likes Six Cheese Tortellini. He's married to Aunt Peggy.
  • Yue-Sai.-This is Sandy's friend who has a cosmetics line.

Fabulous dinner for tonight

I am just so psyched about the wonderful meal I'm making tonight. It's such a fun retro dish from 1974! Here are the ingredients you will need for this dish!

8 oz frankfurters (pre-cooked)
1 tart medium apple
1/4 medium pineapple
4 oz. canned onions
1/2 cup sliced canned carrots
1/4 cup bouillon
1 Tbs tomato juice
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tbs cider vinegar
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp coriander seeds

Are you ready for the picture? It is just gorgeous!!


"Peppermint Bark" Chocolate Cookies

I found this recipe online a few weeks ago. I was searching for recipes that called for candy canes as I had bought several boxes during the after Christmas sales. I must confess that I made up some of the dough the same day I found the recipe. I just never got around to actually baking the cookies. I kept the dough in the fridge and kept snacking on it until it was gone. *sheepish grin*

Well today I decided to make another batch of dough and do a post about them. I got the recipe here. Now you are probably saying to yourself that the recipe calls for 'peppermint bark' not crushed up candy canes and you would be absolutely correct. If you look right above the recipe it says:

You can buy peppermint bark at any candy store or specialty food store, or you can simply make the peppermint bark yourself. If you want to make life even easier just add some white chocolate chips and crushed peppermint candies in lieu of peppermint bark.

and then down in the comment section I found this:

If you are taking the short cut and using white chocolate chips and candy pieces, how much of each would you recommend using? Thanks!

Maybe around a half cup of each, though I would lean more towards more white chocolate. Candy bits sometimes have a habit of getting melty as well, so it may hurt the appearance, but not the taste (I ate one where a large chunk of candy melted and browned a bit and it tasted just fine). You can follow Elise's idea and use peppermint extract with or in lieu of candy pieces as well. ~Garrett

I saw that and I said Whoot! yep, I really did say Whoot! as I was one happy gal. So I opened up all those boxes of candy canes and put them INto my food processor and gave them a whirl. Can I just tell you that it was LOUD! Anyway here's my big ol' peanut butter jar full of crushed candy canes:

Peppermint bark chocolate cookies

I decided that I would use 1/3 cup of my crushed candy canes and 2/3 cup of those "white" chocolate chips I got on clearance because they were red and green swirls. I'm just not getting enough artificial coloring everyday so I knew these would help me out in that department. Hmm, I need a mixer for this but unfortunately I broke one of my beaters so...I'll use my food processor and see what happens.

peppermint bark chocolate cookies 002

Here's the butter and sugar all creamed together.

peppermint bark chocolate cookies 003

I don't want to over beat the flour so here's the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda about to be worked in.

peppermint bark chocolate cookies 004

Here's the dough with cocoa worked in. Then I added the candy canes and "white" chocolate chips to break them up some more, and then the flour was slowly added in. I forgot to get any shots of that or after the flour was all worked in. The cookies turned out flatter than the ones pictured with the recipe and are soft and fudgy inside. They are tasty!!

peppermint bark chocolate cookies 006
I saved you some! Want some milk?

Edited to add: Since I wrote this, I tried making another batch of these using 1.5 cups of brown sugar instead of half white granulated and half brown sugar. This resulted in a very soft cookie which I just loved.

Grocery List

I know you've been making out a grocery list since 1786 and are wondering what great insights could I possibly add to this task?? Here's the story, I was watching one of those morning news shows and they were interviewing Kate Goslin of Jon & Kate plus 8 fame about her tips for how the new mom of octuplets can cope with her new babies and her other six children. I was hurt for a minute that nobody asked me for tips. Then, I remembered that I don't have any children, and suggesting that the mother of fourteen run away or lock herself in the pantry and drink copious amounts of alcohol would not be considered all that helpful. ;)

Anyhoo, Kate said something about making out a grocery list in the order of whatever store you happen to shop at is laid out. My mind creaked a bit as there used to be a time when I did this. Nowadays, I use a slightly different method. If you only shop at one store, it can be a big help to have your list organized like Kate suggested. That is until the whackjob store manager decides to move everything around and comes to the conclusion that flour, dog food, and motor oil all belong on the same aisle. As an old employer of mine used to say about our most trying customers, this guy really needed a beating. ;)

Most of you are aware that the grocery store wants you in there as long as possible as the longer you are in the store, the more money you are likely to spend. We are on a mission to get the most bang for our buck so we need a plan. Oh and a theme song!!! Whoot!!

Don't you miss theme songs with bongos? Oh, just me huh? That's okay, I have a special affinity for 70's television from when I was just a little fuzzball.

Okay, now you can either do this on your computer or use a pen and a piece of paper. I do it old school and write on a sheet of computer sized paper folded in half lengthwise. If this is a scratch sheet leftover from a botched printing job or some other purpose, all the better. I usually only write on one side of the paper so that I can save it for next week and use it again.

grocery list 001

Okay, let's put some categories on our list. The ones I use are:
Boxed, bagged, bottled, and canned
Cold foods
Non-food items
Dr. Bacon/meat lab

grocery list 002

I should have made my categories darker or used a different color of ink but, you get the concept. If you want to go further, you can break it down so that you group things together that are usually found near each other. Once again, watch out for that whackjob store manager! Here's a sample list I made up:

grocery list 003

Use whatever works for you, okay? (Hush, Shrikes, hush!!)
Heh, I'm having one of those days where I can't spell 'broccoli' without the spellchecker helping me! *blushes* You will notice that the stores in my town have the milk in a different area than the yogurt and sour cream, YMMV. Please excuse my handwriting as its getting worse as time goes by.

Okay, now some of you are asking why should I do it this way instead of the way I've always done it? Okay, have you ever gone to the store with a long list and at the top of your list you had milk, somewhere in the middle was cheese, and near the end was orange juice? Did you get them all on that one trip to the area where the cold foods hang out, or did you have to go back and forth a few times? I would always have to make a few trips around the store because one of my 'cold items' would be lost in the list with the non-cold items and I would overlook it. Organizing my list helps me spend less time and money at the store. That way I have plenty of time to go home and soak Popsicle sticks for my tablescapes. ;)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Homemade cleaning wipes

I try to use cleaning rags as much as I can but, there are times when using a paper towel or a cleaning wipe is the best choice for me. Since I have cats I deal with hairballs, vomit, litter boxes, etc...

I looked online at several recipes for cleaning wipes, until I found one that I thought would work the best for me and my purposes. The only problem is that I wanted some scented wipes to help make these kind of chores more pleasant. So I ordered some essential oils and I add some to each batch for a pleasant scent. My favorites are citrus oils so I normally add a little orange, lemon, or lime. I also put a small amount of tea tree oil in the batch I make for the litter box area.

Now I'm going to sound like your mother for a bit:
Be sure and check to see that any oils you select will be safe in the amounts you will be using for this purpose. Tea tree oil can irritating in larger amounts or for those with sensitivities. Please use caution if you choose to include it in your mix. There are also fragrance oils out there in a multitude of fragrances. Please research the safe uses for fragrance oils if you wish to use them instead.I sure wouldn't want anyone to have irritated hands or damaged surfaces in their home from using these!

You will need better quality paper towels for this since they will be sitting in the cleaning liquid until you use them. I got a big package of the 'house brand' at the local warehouse store and they work great! My paper towels have 90 on each roll. The surface of my paper towels look very similar to the roll pictured in the link above. If you normally use a name brand paper towel and their commercials or packaging have statements about how tough the towels are or how you can scrub with them, then they will probably work just fine for this purpose.

I use a rectangular container with a snap on lid and the bottom of my container says that its capacity is 64 ounces (or 1.89 liters for my non-USA visitors). My containers have absorbed the scent of the essential oils so I suggest selecting or buying a container or containers just for this purpose. Folding the paper towels to fit your container is not the most exciting thing so you might try doing your folding while watching TV, talking on a hands free phone, watching stuff on YouTube, etc...

The number of paper towels you can fit in your container will vary depending on how you choose to fold them. If you have a large enough container, you can even leave them flat. I prefer to fold mine and I can usually get an entire roll in my container after they have the cleaning solution added to them. When you first fold up your towels you will think I'm nuts as you will have a very tall pile of paper towels and your brain will tell you there's just way this will work. You may prefer to split up that roll into two or more containers and I do that sometimes myself.

Here's the recipe I use for my wipes:
(here's a volume converter for any non-USA readers)
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
1/2 tsp household ammonia
1/2 TB (1 1/2 tsps) Dish washing liquid( not the kind you use in a dishwasher)
1 US Quart( 4 cups )of water
20-30 drops essential oil [edited to add My personal experience making these is that they are *not* going to smell as strongly as the commercial ones. I've noticed that the ones on the bottom of the container do have more of a fragrance than the ones closer to the top. If you are expecting the very strong scents of the commercial wipes, you may be unhappy with these. I've never tried making these with the fragrance oils I mentioned before but, if you want a stronger scent, you might do some research into using those. You could also look into the effects of using more of the essential oil you have selected.]

Here's some pictures to help you understand what I'm talking about.

cleaning wipes 003

I'm going to be using the lid of my container as a template for folding my paper towels.

cleaning wipes 005

Here's one with a ruler so you can see the size better. Click on the picture to see a larger size. Don't you love my ruler from 1975? I found it in my late grandmother's sewing cabinet. She was a huge pack rat. I also found an "I like Ike" button!!

cleaning wipes 004

Once again, please click to see a larger size.

cleaning wipes 007

Ever wondered what 90 paper towels would look like if you folded them up? Well, there's your answer! I know some of you are saying there's just no way all those paper towels will fit in that one container. Well, lets see.

cleaning wipes 008

Here's all the ingredients except for water and essential oil for those who desire it.

cleaning wipes 009

These are essential oils I have on hand right now. I order mine from Vitacost.com. For those of you who are signed up with Mr. Rebates, the rebate from Vitacost.com is currently 6%.

cleaning wipes 010

Here's the cleaning solution all mixed up with some tangerine essential oil and some tea tree oil mixed in. Kinda muddy looking, huh?

cleaning wipes 011

Added the first few paper towels to the container.

cleaning wipes 012

I've continued to add paper towels and press them down into the cleaning solution. Notice the indentations on top from my fingers pressing down. You have to push kinda hard without slopping out any of the cleaning solution as you continue to add your paper towels.

cleaning wipes 013

If you look closely at this picture, ( click to enlarge it if you need to) you will notice that the middle looks dry and only the edges appear wet. That's okay because we are going to...

cleaning wipes 014

squish them down and get the lid on. Be sure that lid is on good and tight because....

cleaning wipes 015

we are going to turn the container over and let gravity take over. If you look closely, you may notice some orange looking areas on the tub. That's just where the essential oils started to settle back out after mixing. It's okay, don't worry about it. Now, leave your container like this for an hour or so and then flip it back over, take the lid off and see if the paper towels on the top are damp. If so, then you are done. If not, turn them back over and let them sit a bit longer or overnight. If they are still not damp or you prefer your paper towels to be more wet, then you can mix up a little more of the cleaning solution and add it to your tub.

I'd love to hear from anybody who tries this. If you use essential oils in your wipes, please tell exactly what you used as someone else may want your 'recipe'!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My sad looking chocolate dipped orange butter cookies

Today I made some Chocolate Dipped Orange Butter Cookies. I found the recipe over at Joanna's Kitchen sometime in December and I just now got around to making these.

I made up the dough yesterday after I made up some Country Butter and before I started working on yesterday's dinner of chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes.

My cookies do not look as nice as Joanna's cookies because I was feeling lazy. I mean horrifically lazy. I changed the recipe to suit my laziness and because I didn't have any coarse sugar on hand. Maybe I should just turn in my shrike card, get smashed, and start making up recipes like balls of cheese whiz rolled in various seasoning packets and be done with it. It's that bad folks!

By now you've followed that link up top to see Joanna's pretty cookies. Well, you see I didn't shape my dough into a nice roll to cut out rounds nor did I roll out the dough like Joanna did to make cutout cookies. I refrigerated my dough in a big lump and then dug out some balls with a spoon and baked them. I did do the chocolate dipping as instructed. I took a picture of the best looking ones so here are my sad looking cookies:

Chocolate dipped orange butter cookies 007

They do taste good! Maybe I'll put them over by the tumor bread I made yesterday so they keep each other company. LOL

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chicken fried steak with gravy and mashed potatoes

A few days ago, Mr. Hairball and I were discussing what to have for dinner tonight and what we have on the freezer to work with. I told him that we have some chicken tenders, some hamburger, a ginormous beef brisket, some smoked sausage, and some tenderized round steak aka cube steak. (Can you tell that Mr. Hairball is a huge carnivore?)

Mr. Hairball remarks that he feels that his blood has just been screaming through his arteries lately and asked what could we do to slow it down? I said that I could make some chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy like Mama Hairball makes. His eyes lit up as he said that sounded great. So the decision was made that we would have chicken fried steak for Monday night's dinner.

Foods can be called by different names in different places, so here's a link to exactly what I mean by chicken fried steak.

What I'm making is about 85% Hairball family recipe and 15% Hairball likes to try new things.

First, we need some potatoes.

chicken fried steak 01

This is approximately two pounds of potatoes. [Probably more like three!] Some of them are obviously red and some of them are supposed to be Yukon golds. You will soon see that the "Yukon golds" look pretty pale inside instead of that nice gold color. Very different from all the Yukon golds I've cooked with in the past. I did wonder if they were really white potatoes while cutting them up.

chicken fried steak 011

Here they are all scrubbed and cut up with about 6 cloves of peeled garlic in with them. (I don't normally peel potatoes when I make mashed potatoes.) Notice how white they look. Here's a picture of a Yukon gold for comparision.
I recently watched an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef where Anne Burrell made some yummy looking mashed potatoes and decided to incorporate some of her ideas.

I also washed and tore up some lettuce so Mr. Hairball could have a salad. I'm kinda burned out on salads right now so I had broccoli instead.

chicken fried steak 010

The one on the left is skim milk and an egg and the one on the right is flour, salt, black pepper, and some garlic powder. You dip the tenderized round steak or cube steak into the flour then the egg and then back in the flour again.

chicken fried steak 012

Here's the steaks ready to be fried. It's in black and white because I opened the package ONto the sheet pan and there is some blood visible. I know some people like Mr. Hairball have a very low squick threshold regarding blood so I thought it best to be "artistic" and make it a black and white picture.

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Here are the steaks in the pan frying away. Now this gonna be squicky for some of you! When you see blood coming to the surface of the meat, it's time to turn them over and let them cook on the other side.

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Sorry about the size. Hope no one has nightmares about a giant piece of chicken fried steak chasing them! Don't flip out about the black spots. Small portions of the crust will fall off from one batch and remain in the pan and adhere to later batches. Since they've been around so long they will be quite dark. This piece is a good color to shoot for while frying your steaks.

chicken fried steak 018

I boiled the potatoes until they were tender, drained off the water, and added a stick of butter to the pan. Then, I warmed up about 6-8 ounces of fat-free half and half ( I didn't realize that I bought the fat free version) for about 45 seconds in the microwave and added it to the pot with the potatoes, garlic, and butter. Anne did her potatoes with a food mill but I don't have one so just mashed them up with a potato masher and stuck a lid on them while I was making the gravy and nuking some frozen broccoli.

chicken fried steak 002

I am not the world's best gravy maker so I'm always a little nervous when it's time to make the gravy. I poured out all but about 2-3 tablespoons of oil and added the seasoned flour left over from the meat. I didn't have that much seasoned flour leftover so I added a little more flour to the pan. Then I stirred and let it cook until the color got to this stage.

chicken fried steak 003

I added in some fat-free half and half and stirred until smooth and let it cook until it reached the thickness that I prefer. It will get thicker as it cools so keep that in mind.

chicken fried steak 005

Here's Mr. Hairball's plate minus his salad. He made up a vinaigrette (not vinegar-ette Sandy!) and mashed up some of the purple basil from our Aerogarden with some coarse sea salt and mixed that INto his vinaigrette. I didn't see everything he put in but I know it had red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, black pepper and the aforementioned purple basil.

the hairballs 003

Mr. Hairball

chicken fried steak 006

Here's my plate. I was starving and did eat every bit of this!
The fat-free half and half did add a little sweetness to the gravy and potatoes but, can I just tell you? It was very good. [If you have any chicken fried steak left, pop those babies on a sheet pan and place in a 350F oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or so. When you open your oven, you should hear sizzling. Cut into one and make sure it's good and hot. If you still have taters and gravy left, you can heat those up in the microwave or on the stove. The gravy will need some milk/cream/whatever stirred INto it to thin it back out. If you don't have any taters left then how about a nice hot chicken fried steak sandwich?]

Almost forgot, here's a picture of some 100% whole wheat bread I made today.

chicken fried steak 008

I'm bummed that it has those bumpy things on the top. I cut into the bread and sampled some, and the bread is quite good even with the bumps. Mr. Hairball kept pointing at the bread and saying [Arnold Schwarzenegger] it is not a tumor [/Arnold Schwarzenegger] until I kicked him out of the kitchen. *rolls eyes*

[edited to add: The bread is very tasty! Here is the recipe I used.}

Happy Birthday Rosie Hawthorne!!!

Rosie Hawthorne of Kitchen's are Monkey Business is having a birthday today! Whoot!

Hoping your day is f'ntastic and that no one gives you a birthday cake from Grandma Lorraine, a plate of cat poo truffles, or a champagne cake with disco balls on top.

Rachael Ray helps out with the corn

I must still be twelve on the inside as this had me cracking up!
Thanks to Food Network Humor for the video.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

SHCWSL- Homecoming Tailgate

Here's a link to the The Food Network's website

"zesty Buffalo Chicken Pizza, Chipotle Java Rubbed Tenderloin, Chocolate Coconut Almond Cake and a Homecoming Punch."

How come 'zesty' isn't capitalized? Did 'zesty' misbehave or something? Why isn't her salad mentioned? Why do I care so much? *confused*

Now let's take a moment and breathe deeply because there's a beef tenderloin on Sandy's menu today and I don't know about you but, watching her abuse expensive cuts of meat just really gets to me.

Ready? Okay, into the fray we go...

First up, most people who tailgate do not bring along pom poms, sweatshirts, and flowers so that they can spend time decorating the parking lot.

Chipotle Java Rubbed Tenderloin

Please note that Sandy has already done a coffee crusted beef tenderloin before so this newest incarnation should ideally be an improvement over the old one. ( Yeah, I know but, we are talking ideals here *not* reality!)

Let's look at Saveur's recipe for a Coffee Crusted Beef Tenderloin and compare this recipe to the recipe that Sandy is making today. The Saveur recipe calls for variety of ingredients including three different varieties of chilies. Both the Saveur recipe and Sandy's most current one, call for ground cinnamon while only Sandy's most current recipe calls for *eyes bug out* instant coffee and a seasoning packet?? *laughs hysterically then realizes the recipe is for real and begins weeping for the poor defenseless tenderloin that met it's demise through Sandy's machinations* Okay, neither Sandy nor her recipe reminds us to remove the string before serving which is troublesome. So perhaps receiving a piece with string attached is like getting the baby in the King Cake? Floss for later? Should unattached guests in search of a significant other place it under their pillow in hopes that it will bring them dreams of said person?
Hell, if I know!

I will say that following that seasoning packet link did answer a burning question I've had about why Sandy says we can "see flavor" besides the oh so obvious shriketastic answer to any and all mysteries of the Sandyverse.

Great Grilled Romaine Sandy, I'm surprised at you! This title needs some more words that start with the letter 'G' so that I can use my Tony the Tiger voice. Your dressing has garlic in it so why not call it Great Grilled Romaine with Garlic and Gallon of Gin on the side?

Okay, I'm just having a little fun with alliteration there. Unless I blacked out while watching this and missed some horrible thing, this is not a bad recipe if you enjoy grilled Romaine and blue cheese dressing. You put some olive oil on your Romaine, grill, put on the dressing and eat. Be careful to not overcook the Romaine! I'm pleased to see her making her own blue cheese salad dressing so I must give her credit for that. Whoot! Go Sandy!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza
All righty then, for this recipe we need:
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into small strips, 1 cup buffalo wing sauce plus 2 tablespoons, 1 can refrigerated pizza dough, 1 cup blue cheese dressing.

For some unknown reason, Sandy brought out a bottle of salad dressing instead of just making up some extra dressing when she made the salad. Huh? Why would she go to the trouble of making homemade blue cheese dressing for one recipe on and not for another recipe on the same show?? *throws hands up in air and walks away muttering*

On that note, why are we instructed to slice up chicken tenders before we grill them? They are already on the small side so won't they fall through the grill if you are not extremely careful? Sorry, but I call foul on her fowl. *ducks to avoid being hit by various flying objects being hurled for having the nerve to attempt such a horrific pun*

Sandy chose a red onion and sliced it up herself. This was odd to me because I was certain that chopping or slicing onion fell under the "monkey business" heading in her world. *confused* She then confided that she selected a red onion for this recipe because it matched her school colors. *rolls eyes* She tells us Buffalo sauce is smart which is very disturbing because I'm almost certain that none of *my* condiments are sentient.

If I'm not mistaken, she reused the same pair of unwashed tongs for both raw and cooked foods throughout this episode, eww. She let the whack-a-dough cook on the grill for a bit and then she dumped on some of the store bought *sighs* blue cheese salad dressing, the rest of the toppings and returned it to the grill to finish baking. I really think the bottom was overdone when she finally retrieved it which is not good. Really folks, there are other recipes out there for Buffalo chicken pizza so don't waste your time and money on this one.

Chocolate Coconut Almond Layer Cake

Earlier in the week, I read what Sandy was making before the recipes were added, and I jotted down how I thought this recipe would be executed. My prediction was:
She's going to use a white cake mix, and add almond extract, coconut extract, and cocoa powder. Then when the cake is cool, she'll probably take a tub or three of white frosting and add the same things to the frosting. The outside of the cake will be covered with bagged coconut and she'll dump some almonds on top while screeching about "attention to detail" and how putting almonds ONto the cake makes her the smartest thing on her obviously radioactive waste filled block.

I was so very wrong and was obviously thinking of her modus operandi from years past! Making a cake from scratch or even a cake mix is sooo early 21st century. *rolls eyes* I never thought I would say this but, I miss her frosting the store bought angel food cakes as at least those are readily available in most grocery stores for those who want to make her AFC recipes. Should I be on the lookout for a new chain of stores called "No Monkey Business Here!" featuring a entire line of unfrosted layer cakes, seasoning packets, booze, and items for creating tablescapes? *bangs head on desk muttering and crying about the future of food in the USA*

We are instructed to come up with: two unfrosted store bought *eye roll* chocolate cake layers, 2 (16 oz) cans of chocolate frosting, 1 teaspoon almond extract, 1 cup coconut, and 1/4 cup toasted and chopped peanuts. *looks very confused* Why does this recipe call for peanuts when the title is Chocolate Coconut Almond Layer Cake?!? *sighs in exasperation* I've spent time with almonds, I know almonds, I love almonds. Peanuts, you are not almonds!!

Maybe it was just my TV but, those cakes looked really dark on top. I know chocolate cake is supposed to be dark but they looked burnt to me. She used the cap on her bottle of almond extract to "measure" 1 teaspoon while chirping about how the extract will make the TWO tubs of chocolate frosting taste homemade which is a big fat lie to anyone who still possesses taste buds. Plus TWO 16 ounce tubs of frosting for that amount of cake is just plain overkill. I really don't know why anybody would invest their time and money in assembling this cake.

Homecoming Punch-

Sandy proceeds to tell us that she learned some great cocktail recipes during her college years. You drank back in college Sandy? Wow, I never would have guessed that! *busts out laughing* I went to parties back in college where they served Jello shooters and "trashcan punch" made with Everclear. I still think either one of those choices is better than mixing thawed orange juice concentrate, thawed pink lemonade concentrate, cranberry juice cocktail, brandy, and champagne. Ugh!


*laughs hysterically and stops to wipe tears from face*

Oh boy! I hope if I'm ever seriously ill that someone sends me a DVD of nothing but her tablescapes to cheer me up. This one would definitely be on the aforementioned DVD!

She actually set up a big dining room table out there in the parking lot and had a maroon cloth on the table with.... wait for it... some very thin artificial turf on top with grey and yellow tape marking off the yard lines! She had dishes and everything! There were team pennants decorating the table and encircling the glass fishbowl/punchbowl. It was comedy gold!!

This episode reminded me of the one where she had a picnic in the park and brought her dining room table and chairs with her and hung a chandelier up in a nearby tree. Bwah!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Adventures in grocery shopping

Friday, I went out to do some grocery shopping. First, I went out to the Ultra-Super-Duper-Gigantico-MegaMart (USDGMM) as I had some things on my list that the other smaller stores in my area don't always carry. While there, I decided to go ahead and get some bay leaves for a recipe I planned to make. I was dismayed to find that the only container of bay leaves I could find was $5.64 (USA) for .18 ounces! I stood there muttering to myself when I remembered that USDGMM is one of those stores that plays dirty. By that I mean that there is another cheaper spice area on another aisle and this area is not mentioned on the overhead signs. I looked up and down the aisles until I finally found this area of spices on the international aisle. There I found a bag of bay leaves priced $1.12 (USA) for .25 ounces. I muttered an obscenity about USDGMM hiding the cheaper spices like that and then let out a small [Sandra Lee] Whoot![/Sandra Lee] as USDGMM hadn't fooled me.

Then, I went over to another smaller grocery store to pick up a few of this week's sale items. While there, I noticed that the store had some bakery items that were marked down and placed on a rolling cart near the dairy case. I saw that there were a few bags of rolls, a couple of loaves of bread, and two decorated cakes on the cart. I looked a bit closer at the decorated cakes and discovered that one of them was some unknown Muppet-like character and the other one was actually a pair of cupcake cakes. These cupcake cakes were the kind where after the cupcakes are arranged in the desired shape, the whole thing is frosted and decorated like a sheet cake.

The top one was made up of five cupcakes, heavily coated in purple frosting, and had "I love U" written on it in pink frosting. The one below it was also made up of five cupcakes but heavily coated with pink frosting and had "Sexy" written on it in purple frosting. The frosting was inexpertly applied, and the lettering was poorly done. In other words it was well... ugly. I stared at the cakes and wondered to myself if the person who ordered "Sexy" had seen it and refused to pay for it, or did "Sexy" and his or her beloved break up after the cakes were ordered?

I pondered for half a second if I should buy "Sexy" because for some bizarre reason, I felt sorry for the unfortunate pair who had been banished to the bargain cart. I soon nixed that idea as I really didn't think I would enjoy the cakes at all. Still, I felt a little sad and hoped that someone would buy "Sexy" before time was up for the pair. It was Friday so maybe some college students craving sugar bought the two cakes and devoured them. I know it's strange but, I really hope "Sexy" went home with somebody.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My pantry is slowly getting better...

I'm slowly getting my pantry arranged in our new apartment. I'm very lucky that we have a nice closet in the study/craft/kitty room that I can use for this purpose. I still want to get some more of the sturdier metal racks that can easily support canned goods, sugar, flour, etc... I always have trouble getting started on tasks like this as my perfectionism gets in the way of getting started. I have to do silly things like make deals with myself that "I'll just put XYZ here for now and move it later" so that I can get started. I guess if you aren't dealing with those kinds of issues it sounds weird but, trust me, it can really make it difficult to get things done! Here's what it looks like right now:

pantry in progress

Here's how the Aerogarden is coming along. The plant that still has the plastic cap over it is supposed to be cilantro. ( Click to see the big picture.) I think it's dead though as it should have sprouted by now.

Areogarden 1/22/09

That's all for now!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I haven't gone nutty, I'm just sticking these up here for now to see how I like them. These are from clocklink.com if anybody else is interested in them.

Monday, January 19, 2009


spots on recipe

Can you tell this has been in the kitchen with me?


Look at the first picture to see what is in the filling.


I should have started this earlier. Since I was in a time crunch, I just added some red wine, black pepper, salt, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder to a can of tomato puree and let it simmer about 10 minutes before putting it in the baking dish.

ready to sear

Should have seen me trying to tie this up. It was humorous!
The glass cup on the left has my pepper mill in it. We dropped it on the floor years ago and a piece of the bottom broke off. It still works but, it can't stand up by itself so we just keep it in that cup. Obviously that's my salt mill on the right with some sea salt in it. I was supposed to put salt and pepper on the inside of the roll but, I forgot so I put some on the outside.


Sizzle! Pop! Ow!


Here's a shot where you see the filling coming out of the gap.
I don't have any tongs so I just used a wooden spoon to hold it up.

sauce on stove

Heh, I was doing laundry at the same time as I was making this. When I came back from checking the laundry, there was splotches of tomato sauce on the wall and stove.

almost ready for the oven

Just needs some sauce on top. The color is weird here. It didn't look that black on top in real life.

ready for oven

Ready for the lid and into the oven.

dirty dishes

*Sigh* I need some minions to clean up my messes.

just out of oven

Whoot! Looks pretty good.

spilled sauce on stove

Did this while clipping off the twine. Glad it didn't land on me!

Mr. Hairball's caesar salad

Caesar salad for Mr. Hairball.

frozen veggie/pasta mix

Pulled some veggie/pasta mix out of the freezer for me. I boiled some penne as well so I had two kinds of pasta for dinner. I only had enough Caesar dressing already made up for one salad. I gave it to Mr. Hairball since I knew there was no way he would eat any of the veggie/pasta mix I made.

Mr. Hairball's plate

Mr. Hairball's plate minus his salad. I forgot to take a picture of mine. Just imagine everything moved over and some veggie/pasta mix on the plate for mine.

close-up showing error

Here you can see that I didn't pound it flat enough and as the meat cooked, it wasn't long enough to reach all the way around. Oh well, My arm was getting tired and I was afraid I was disturbing my neighbors. Next time I'll take my time and do the pounding in the afternoon so I don't disturb anyone.

It was very good even if it wasn't picture perfect.