Busy Nights Real Food
Monday, November 28, 2005
  Thanksgiving wrap up
Well finally I will update you on all these pics. I am a horrible food blogger. I am just adjusting to this new schedule and haven't figured out when to fit it in. So Turkey day was a good one. My mom came in town which was fun (until about Saturday, and then I was ready to have my house back to myself ;D). Anyways, it was just Funkbobito, my mom and I so we had a really relaxing day. Funkbobito made the mashed potatoes and mom made the turkey. Here is a little run down of my dishes.

Roasted Sweet (and Spicy) Potatoes

Well, these were simple enough. I chunked up a couple of sweet potatoes, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a little brown sugar, cayenne, salt and pepper. Roasted at about 400 till they were fork tender. The sweet and spicy mix was perfect.

Fresh Corn

Ok, so I know this is sad, but this is the 1st time I have shaved the corn off the ear and made fresh corn before. I make corn on the cob all the time, but this was a first. After scraping 4 ears, I put in a small sauce pan with some milk, butter, salt and pepper. I cooked for about 5-10 minutes until tender and warmed through and then drained. The corn had a wonderful flavor and was so sweet. This is another dish I would make for a week night meal.

Spinach Salad with Clementines and Dried Cranberries with Walnut Gorgonzola Dressing

This salad was a little different. I found the recipe for the dressing on Epicurious.com. It was supposed to be served over roasted beets, but I already had the spinach to use up. I will be honest, this dressing was a bit more work than salad dressing should be. And it looked completely disgusting until it was tossed with the salad. However, the flavors melded together beautifully and it was really complimented by the sweeter items in the salad. If I was wanting to impress a dinner guest, I may make it again because it was really nice (I guess looks don't always tell the whole story).

Flaky Dinner Rolls and "Thanksgiving Pretzels"

What do you get when you forget the salt and butter, don't let the dough rest, and have disastrous Thanksgiving day Flaky dinner rolls? Thanksgiving pretzels. I was not paying nearly enough attention the 1st time I made this recipe and didn't realize till the end that I had total screwed it up. So I threw the lump of dough to the side and started over. We decide we should at least do something with it. So Funkbobito twisted them into little knots and we baked them up. We pulled them out and took a taste...bland and boring. I was ready to pitch this batch all together when Funkbobito came through again and recognized the taste of the dough as pretzel dough. So we sprayed on some butter (I am so ghetto, I know) and sprinkled on some salt and by God we had soft pretzels. Who would have thunk it. If anyone is interested in more detailed directions for these new holiday treats, just let me know ;D.

The rolls were really good, but a lot of work. If I made them again I would have to use more butter so it would have more flavor in the roll itself, but they weren't too bad as is.

Houston's Style Spin Dip

Well, the appetizers on the holidays are always my favorites so this was a definite hit with me. This is a copycat recipe from one of my favorite restaurants, Houston's. Every time I go I order their Chicago Style Spinach dip and I have tried every copycat recipe I can find for it. This one is getting closer to that true knock off recipe. It is super creamy and just tasty. I halved the recipe for us since we definitely didn't need all that dip.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
  A day (or so) in the kitchen
Well this weekend has been a good one. I had a chance to relax, and just enjoy a weekend off. So I decided it was about time to do some cooking, since last week was so embarrassing. So I turned to my Martha Stewart Holiday Cookie magazine. I have done more baking this year than ever before and am actually enjoying it a bit (*gasp*). I still have some things to fine tune, such as the stickiness of chocolate cookies doughs. But here are what I made.

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

These were really good and despite the stickiness of the dough were pretty easy. And by God they actually look like the picture. They are pretty rich, but stay fairly small so not so rich you can't finish one.

Lemon Squares

These were wonderful and also extremely easy. Though it seems to contain a few steps, they really came together really quick. The fresh squeezed lemon juice gave it a great pucker factor. And the crust was just the perfect texture and sweetness. It all balances really well. I was really excited that it was not to crumbly or dry. Really a great flavor. And holy cow I actually made my first custard. Yay me.

Simple Meat Lasagna

Funkbobito took control of the kitchen and made Simple Meat Lasagna which is from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It was just a bit too salty, but we think it was from a seasoning blend we added. It was a very basic recipe, but I often find them to be my favorites. So thank you Funkbobito for feeding my belly tonight while I was being lazy on the couch.

Not really sure I will have many new recipes in until Thursday. And this week is the 1st week of me being a manager so I hope that it all goes well.

Saturday, November 19, 2005
  Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.
Well, I decided yesterday that I should let all of you readers know all about me. And I had a purpose to doing it, but by this morning the whole idea was gone, just that I wanted to let you know a little more about me. So I guess I will wing it and see if I can figure out what my purpose was.

-My real name is not Punky. I know you are shocked and thought you had finally found some love child with a weirdo name, but alas that is not me. Its not that you couldn't find my name any number of places, but for those of you who don't want to look, you can just keep calling me Punky.

-I have a master's degree in Counseling Psychology and my dream job is to work for an HIV/AIDS organization providing counseling. To get to that point I am going to work as a retail manager...No really, I am working in retail while I start doing some volunteer with these organizations and get an "in".

-I am getting married in April. Funkbobito and I have been together for almost 5 years so don't worry, I am not rushing into this. I am super excited to actually be married, but I feel that I was seriously misled about the fun of wedding planning, its not fun at all.

-I sometimes think that I am not cut out for this whole cooking thing. I know you were wondering what all this self-disclosure had to do with my little food blog here. Well, now you know. This week I reverted back to an earlier time. A time when I didn't cook, and when I tried I was reminded how far I still have to go.

Monday-Tuna Salad and Chicken noodle soup: I did actually make the soup, but it was a bit thicker than I was planning for. I am always amazed how much liquid gets sucked up.

Tuesday-Chicken soft tacos, black beans and rice. Ok this was a no brainer. I actually had steak tacos planned but after cooking the meat we decided that it didn't taste as fresh as we would have liked. So we pitched the steak and cooked up some chicken real quick. I added a little salsa to the black beans and nuked them while I cooked everything else.

Wednesday-Pizza Hut. Enough said.

Thursday- Ok this may be the most shameful meal of the week. Poor Funkbobito may change his mind about this whole marriage thing if I fed him this everyday (actually he was super excited when I said what we were having). In my defense I had worked at 6am for the last 4 days, hadn't been to the store and had seen the sunrise 5 days in a row. Don't get me wrong, sunrises are real nice, but I have no need to see one everyday, and if I am going to I don't want to do it while dressing a mannequin. Anyways we had PB&J sandwiches and Parmesan noodles. It really did taste pretty good, but not exactly a gourmet meal.

Friday- I'm finally cookin'. Now I have lived all my life in Kansas City. I am surrounded by good barbecue restaurants. And it is kind of questionable if someone around here doesn't own a grill or a smoker, or something else that makes a fire you can cook on. Everyone you ask will tell you their favorite BBQ sauce, restaurant, and brand of charcoal. In fact I joke that Funkbobito finally proposed because I bought him a gas grill. He hasn't corrected me yet. So on to dinner, being that I was cooking for BBQ lovin' Kansas Citians, when I decided to make ribs for dinner I knew I had to do a great job or I would be called out quickly. So I found this recipe for Fall off the Bone Baby Back Ribs. So here is where my lack of kitchen knowledge really did me in. So the recipe tells you to remove the membrane. So I call my best friend who is an amazing cook and ask her how I am supposed to do that. She gives me some tips and I get going. After about 20 minutes of picking at these ribs I realize I am getting nowhere fast. So I turn to the Cooking Light Bulletin Board and get tons of responses on how to remove this membrane. But I am still not making any progress. This is when I realize I need a visual so I turn to the internet. Well I find a picture of ribs with the membrane and they look nothing like mine. I start to get the sneaking suspicion that I am missing something here. So I call the grocery store where I bought them and sure enough, they had already removed the membrane for me. So I then realize that I spent 30 minutes picking the extra fat off the slabs of ribs. I couldn't really do anything but laugh about it, because really it was pretty funny. So for any of you who have never used ribs before, if they look like this picture, they have already had the membrane removed.

Well, I used bottled BBQ sauce instead of the one called for in the recipe because I am trying to thin down my BBQ sauce collection a bit (I tend to buy it all the time, even when I don't need it. I also do this with tuna and diced tomatoes. It is a sickness really). Any ways these turned out great. I would recommend these to anyone. They were super easy and really did fall off the bone. I finished them off under the broiler because it was too cold for me to stand outside with the grill. They were tender and had great flavor and were worth the 30 minutes I spent "removing the membrane". We served them with corn and baked beans. Nothing better on a chilly Kansas City night than ribs, bear and college hoops. Great evening.
Well next week will be a bit crazy since I am closing at work 2 nights and then its Thanksgiving (I would like to file a complaint with Father Time, as I believe I have lost a month or 2 this year). But have a wonderful holiday everyone and I will stop in and give some updates when I can.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
  What day is it?
Well, I am very sorry that I have not posted lately. This has been such a crazy week. I worked from 10pm to 7am on Saturday night (into Sunday). Then I have worked 6am-3pm all week long. And at my job I stand all day long. The last 2 days I have been up and down the ladder, throwing around manequins. To say the least my evenings have been filled with rest and not cooking. Tonight we had chicken soft tacos, rice and black beans. I was so hungry I didn't get any pics. This past weekend I did make some more cookies from the Martha Stewart Holiday Cookie magazine. I made the Peanut Butter and was tempted to throw them away because I hated them so much. But Funkbobito liked them so he got ALL of them. I also made the Thin and Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies. These were really good, though they took forever since I had to cook them 6 at a time to avoid them all running together. Luckily my roommate loves the square ones. So I guess my day of baking was not in haste. Well, not sure I will get any new dinner recipes in this week, but I am hoping to try some more cookies late this week.
Friday, November 11, 2005
  A supper club review
Well, we had our first meeting of the 2 Drinks Minimum Supper Club last night at my house and it was a success. We realized we had way too much food, but it was all wonderful. Our theme was all things dipable. As the host I was in charge of the main course. I decided we'd take a step back in time and have fondue. I grew up with my mom doing fondue and I always loved it. I guess the cook was there all along, huh? Well she always did the oil one, I love it. But tonight I wanted to get a little fancy tonight so I made Bacchus Fondue (its basically wine and chicken bouillon). It was good with the chicken, steak, shrimp and mushrooms. But the real creme de la creme was the Green Cheese with Fresh Herbs. Holy cow was it good. It is wine, Gouda, and some herbs. I served it with bread, summer sausage, broccoli, and cauliflower. It was great (the clean up of the fondue pot was not).

Also there...Crab cakes, hummus, veggie dips, feta artichoke dip, fruit salsa with cinnamon chips, crab dip, chili dip, Kahlua Dip and chocolate fondue. I am really sorry if I missed anything.

Funkbobito and I will be having fajitas for a while with all of our left over meat. But that's okay, I love fajitas, really.

Well, I do have some non-food related news. I graduated from grad school in May and have been job searching since then (and some before). Well, the job search has been going pretty slow and I have been living on a fairly tight budget for the last few months. Well, I was offered a management position at my current job. Its not in the field I eventually want to work in, but I will be able to afford to really look for the job I want rather than having to take the first thing offered. So my schedule will become a bit more full, but at least now I can say I have a full time job. And I actually may have to close less often than I do now. So wish me luck and I am sure I will have some good tales to tell as this new adventure begins.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
  A new cookbook and a great dinner
For those who don't know, I work retail. So when I have a bad day I don't really enjoy going shopping in a store. I spend enough time there. So I tend to buy cookbooks online. I am getting better at utilizing my cookbooks now, so when I heard about this book from America's Test Kitchen I knew it was my kind of book. It has just about everything in there. Tons of the basics, like chicken broth and lasagna. It also has a few shockers like Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (yes, they tested the best way to make these). I had a great time flipping through it and found tonight's dinner in its pages.
We had Creamy Shells with Peas and prosciutto. It has a sauce of ricotta, butter and Parmesan. I am sure it would be even better if I had used the whole milk ricotta, but I thought I could spare a bit of fat and go with the part skim. It was super easy to throw together and was one that I would make again.

Creamy Shells with Peas and Prosciutto

I am hosting our very first dinner club on Thursday so that will be the next time that I am cooking. I am really looking forward to it. It will be a group of my friends as well as some Cooking Light Bulletin Board members in our area. I am really excited. Our theme...All things dipable. So check back in to see what all we came up with.

Monday, November 07, 2005
  Catching up after the weekend
Well, I got some good cooking in this weekend so I wanted to give you all a quick update. Well, lets start with I think I could have gained 30 pounds this weekend since everything was super full of fat.

First off, we made homemade pizza of Friday. The dough and sauce recipe were from a coworker and we really liked it. We got a little pepperoni happy and had to do a little grease sopping before we could eat it. Don't get me wrong, it tasted damn good, we just need to keep our pepperoni cravings in check when making pizza.

Homemade Pizza

Then last night, Sunday, I finally overcame my Joy of Cooking Curse. I made 2 recipes from it and they both turned out great. I did make some simple roasted carrots for Bob as well.

Beef Stroganoff and Sauteed Mushrooms

Well, I also shelled out the $7 for Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookie magazine. And God help me I am going to make stuff out of it for that kind of money. These turned out really good, but I think Funkbobito was going to freak out when the butter and sugar kept getting all jammed up in the mixer beaters. But all came together well and here's how they looked.

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, November 03, 2005
  An easy favorite
Home Alone Beans
I was introduced to this simple recipe over on the Cooking Light Bulletin Board. It doesn't get much easier and it is so good. I had it on a tortilla today, but usually I just serve it with some brown rice. I figured after the failure of yesterday I needed a no fail recipe. I am working tonight so I wish you all a lovely evening.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
  The Flop of the Flap(jack)
Well, its bound to happen. I mean I am a new cook, I am learning how to make some of those age old recipes. So I should not be ashamed or shocked when I have a complete failure. I mean I am clever enough to know that sometimes the close up pictures on the really good blogs are to disguise the fact that their dish didn't look all that great from a distance. And I know that every cook (even the most experienced) has had something that ended up in the trash.

However, the fact that I failed at pancakes is about as sad as it can get, really. I mean who can't make pancakes from scratch? (Well the obvious answer to that is now me, if you are ever asked). I think I have made them from scratch with my mom as a kid, but I haven't really done them on my own (at least not that I remember). So I figured tonight was the night. I had already axed my "fancy" fish dinner for breakfast food because I was being lazy. The least I could do was make the pancakes, right? So I pulled out what has now become my most frustrating cookbook...The Joy of Cooking. I swear, I can't get stuff to come out right from that book. I think the potato and JOC are now my dual archenemies.

Well anyways, the batter was a little thin, but I figured it would thicken up...it didn't. But I pressed on, maybe I just don't know how scratch pancakes are supposed to look. Well, they never puffed, the smoke alarm went off, and well, just look... (I will not be ashamed, I will not be ashamed)

Pretty sad isn't it? Well, thankfully I had some mix in the cabinet (I had to use it since I had already used the rest of my eggs for scrambling). So the search will begin from this day and by George, I will learn to make pancakes (if for no other reason but to laugh in the face of these little burnt "flop"jacks). Oh just you wait JOC, I will be back and I will succeed.



Just a mom, sharing our life on this little blog.

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