Thursday, August 28, 2008

Beef! It's What's for Dinner!

My three favorite things in the food world are sugar, bacon, and beef. When I am not trying to calm my sweet tooth or satisfying a porky craving, nothing beats a really good cut of beef prepared just so. Well, MJ and I were in our local Harris Teeter when I saw two things out of the corner of my eye. One was a small beef rib roast (a real winner in my book). It had been marked down from nearly $40 to $18. Yes, it was from the clearance bin. My plan was to take it home to Tiny, my 1951 freezer, so don't screw your face up thinking I got bad meat. The second item was an Angus beef boneless round roast all tied up nice and pretty. It had been marked down from $25 to $9. How could I say no? MJ didn't say no either. So, off I went.

I knew was I'd do with the rib roast. Stuff it with garlic, rub it with peppe, kosher salt and other spices and roast it gently. But the Angus beef was a tougher call. I never cook beef round. So, I did what any intred 21st century cook would do. I hit the internet. I googled the meat and what I had on hand. Things started to take shape when I found recipes for Italian beef. The easiest one was three ingredients. Unfortunately, MJ discovered the main ingredient was expired in our cupboard. Back the drawing board!

Now, I was like a dog with a bone. I'd decided what I wanted and knew I must have it. So, this intrepid cook tapped into her inner chef. What flavors did I need? I wanted it to be a little spicy (green chiles-don't knock 'em-it's what I had), tangy (red wine & balsamic vinegar), well seasoned (Italian spice blend & beef broth) and to round it out a touch of sweetness (brown sugar). TY, my sous chef, combined all of these items in our crockpot along with some dried onions and set the timer for 7.5 hours.

MJ and I walked into the house to an amazing aroma. The beef smelled fabulous. I needed to taste it. So, I snuck in the kitchen, lifted the lid and stole one. It was good. It wasn't like the Italian Beef I knew from La Prima, but it would do to kill the craving. We served ourselves on crusty sub rolls w/cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. TY added BBQ sauce in lieu of mayo.

What do you do when you find your culinary spoils have spoiled esp. when inspiration has struck? Do you give in to defeat? Or do you channel your inner chef? What challenges does your pantry provide? I've got a box of couscous calling my name. Maybe that will be the inspiration for my next adventure.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies-Sorta

I told you that I'd have a recipe for Greg's Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies. Follow that link. Greg's got all of the ingredients and instructions. Why should I duplicate it? :) To make my variation (we've named Viennese Coffee Cookies), substitute 1/4 cup of espresso powder for one of the 1/4 cups of cocoa powder and add 1 and a 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon to the dry ingredients. What you get is an intensely flavored but not too sweet cookie that will wow your friends. Also, just sprinkle on the turbinado sugar and don't roll it like I did. The results will be better.

Every Life Should Be Valued and Honored

I'm taking a break from the cooking adventures for this post. One of the online communities that I belong to is MSN's Women in Red. We are women (and some men) who have come together to help each other eradicate our debt. Over the past few months a couple of ladies have shared stories of personal grief that has affected their financial stability. In response, the WIR community has set up a blog and a fund to help these two women. Please follow visit the link to read their stories. And if you are so moved, please make a donation to the fund.

Thank you!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back in the Saddle!

I'm having an open house this weekend. That means I need to prepare snacks for my guests. The problem is what to serve. I like to bake my own sweets as opposed to purchasing. I don't like cookie dough that comes in rolls or O R E Os. They are just not my thing. So, what is a girl to do when she doesn't feel like doing anything. She seeks the counsel of friends.

To the left of this post, you'll see a line up of all stars. Each offers something unique and different. My favorite (yes, I'm biased) is the Oatmeal Cookie Guy. Here's someone who is passionate about what he does. His blog is insightful, imaginative and funny. And the pics look absolutely delicious. Well, Greg has been encouraging me to try a recipe. Deciding to try a recipe was easy. Choosing which recipe to try was hard. They all sound so good. I went for the Chocolate Sea Salt. The only problem was I didn't have any sea salt. It's okay. Improvisation is the number one spice in my kitchen.

I baked a test batch last night and froze the rest to bake off on Saturday. To borrow a phrase from Greg, these were totally bring-inable. My co-workers loved them.

Tonight, I will post Greg's recipe and my recipe and a picture if I can find my camera.

What else would you like to see on my table at the open house? I'm thinking of offering up my own baked or fried tortillas w/salsa (maybe homemade) and some sort of crab dip. Anyone got any good recipes. Let me know please!

Monday, August 11, 2008

No, It Wasn't a Vacation!

It's been two weeks since I last posted. I know, I know. Shame on me. Well, I have a very good reason. I had a wisdom tooth extracted. And it didn't want to come out. I will spare everyone the gory details. It still pains me or should I say the phantom tooth still hurts. Enjoying meals has been a trial. That has affected my desire to cook. If I can't eat it or enjoy it, why bother. I've been getting in a lot of soup. A new personal favorite happens to be the mushroom bisque at Au Bon Pain.

What do you eat when you're having dental problems? Do you prefer the savory or the sweet? I managed to get in a trip or two to Rita's Italian Ice for some cool treats.