The State Capitol – July 5, 2014
Sometimes, the name of a dish alone is enough to pique your interest to want to try it.
This, however, is not one of those times.
I actually had a version of Chicken Spaghetti about 4 months ago, and was absolutely mortified when I found out what goes into making it.
Talk about unhealthy … processed cheese, canned soup, canned broth…….. no how and no way.
So I did a leeeetle bit of experimenting, combining several different recipes, and voila:
Yes I know – worst picture ever.
But don’t pay attention to that. Pay attention instead to the fact that this was made with homemade béchamel sauce, real cheese, pasta, and assorted vegetables.
One thing I’ve learned with baked pasta dishes, though, is that you should always always ALWAYS make more sauce than you think you need. And thin that sauce out with additional milk. Otherwise, it gets too dry and gummy and then no one wants to eat it.
However, as proof that this was really good, here is the same dish after dinner:
Granted, Alexander and his 15 year old boy metabolism did 80% of the damage.
Chicken Spaghetti – adapted from several sources on the internet
Combine all ingredients (reserving one cup of cheese for the top) and pour into a greased baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese, and bake at 375 degrees until bubbling around the edges and lightly browned on top – about 30 minutes.
5 tbs. butter
4 tbs. all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 tsp black pepper
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook whisking constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add the milk slowly to the butter/flour mixture, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring to a full boil, then remove from heat. Season with pepper, and set aside until ready to use. Thin with additional milk if the sauce gets too thick.
One thing I’ve noticed since our move to Austin is the lack of “stuff” in the freezer. At this very moment, there are a few containers of ice cream (Alexander’s favorite), a few quick breads (that’s a given), and ice.
So imagine my complete and total surprise when I discovered a container of sliced strawberries in there the other day. I mean, where did they come from? I have no recollection whatsoever of procuring said container. Strange. Yet…. there they were.
I did the only thing I could think of (aside from turning them into a smoothie), which was to make this bread.
And may I say, that was an excellent move on my part.
Fresh Strawberry Bread – adapted from saveur
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1¼ cups canola oil
4 cups roughly chopped strawberries
Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 12 cup bundt pan with baking spray and set aside. Whisk flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl; set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk sugar, oil, and eggs. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Stir in strawberries and pour batter into prepared pans. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 40 hour. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Sabrina and I have been on our own this past week, since Alexander is in Florida and J is working in NY (lucky devil), so she and I have had free rein to kick up our heels, paint the town red, and stay out till dawn.
Truthfully, we took the time to visit the Texas State History Museum, had lunch downtown at a food truck she saw on TV, have completed lots of art projects, and caught up on our movie-watching.
And gone to bed early every night.
Clearly we are out of control….
So with all of our dinner options, we have been tossing around multiple ideas (strangely, going out to eat wasn’t one of them), and made these pork chops one night last week…
Although I was concerned that the sauce would be too spicy, it was perfect – and truthfully, I really liked how fast everything came together. We will definitely be making this again.
Indoor Jerk Chicken – adapted from Martha Stewart
It’s the Fourth of July… which means today we celebrate the fact that we are legally allowed to blow things up.
Oh, and American Independence Day, too.
However, much to my chagrin, fireworks (or explosives of any kind) are banned in the development we are currently residing in.
Armed with that knowledge, Sabrina and I are off on a mission this morning to find
explosive materials fireworks, and set them off on the ranch. Right now, it’s still a very large piece of dirt, so there is no danger of setting fire to anyone or anything.
Anyway, Sabrina is especially excited about today, it’s one of her favorite holidays and she really goes all out – in fact, her ensemble consists of flag Converse hi-tops, a sequined flag tank top and flag aviator sunglasses.
It’s intense…. just like her sometimes……
Happy July 4th!
Ok …. we need to sit down and talk. Do you have a moment?
Apparently, I am the only person on this entire planet that doesn’t think that “red” is a flavor.
However, in the interest (or Pinterest, in this case) of keeping Sabrina happy, I acquiesced to buying a cake mix (!!) and preparing this for her.
She’s come to accept (notice I didn’t say love, I said accept) banana bread, and therefore specifically sent this pin to me last week, with the not-so-subtle caption “I would really like to try this”.
Subtlety has never been her strong point……….like her grandmother…. I’m still convinced they are the same person……
Anyway, the verdict, in her exact words…….. drum roll please…… “It’s good – not overly banana-y, but kind of sweet.“
But my question remains……. do you taste the red? And if so, what does red taste like?
Much like the owl from the Tootie Pop commercial……the world may never know….
Red Velvet Banana Bread – adapted from pinterest / something swanky
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9″ loaf with a non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Mix together cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and bananas until well blended, then pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from loaf pan.
Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
It’s the last day of June!
Which means……holy smokes…………. 82 days until MY birthday.
*** big grin ***
Yes, I’m going to start counting down, because this birthday is going to be really special. I mean, last year, I was in Italy on my birthday – which, by far, was the best birthday EVER!
Thank you Mom and Dad :)
But this year, I’m in a new state, with my posse and my beloved J……. all that’s missing are my parents, but hopefully I can persuade them to come out, because I
think know we will all have an epic time.
I’m already planning my cake….. and you can bet your last dollar that it will contain mass quantities of chocolate :)
Skillet S’More’s – adapted from cookies and cups
Preheat oven to 350°
In bowl of stand mixer beat butter and sugar together for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla and mix until evenly combined, scraping sides as needed. Add in baking soda, continue mixing until incorporated. Whisk together the baking soda, graham cricket crumbs and flour, then stir into the butter mixture.
Spread half of the dough into skillet, then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough. Top with mini marshmallows. Cover marshmallows completely with remaining dough. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
While cookie is baking cut your giant marshmallows into thirds. Remove cookie from oven and top with marshmallows. Return to oven for 10 more minutes. If the marshmallows aren’t browned enough, turn oven onto broil and toast for 15-20 seconds until golden brown.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
I suspect that, if my father was still here, he would really enjoy a slice of this bread.
And by “still here”, I mean still here in Austin.
But he’s not………because……….well, he doesn’t like me anymore and said I’m a terrible baker.
Ok,ok – call off the lynch mob, neither of the preceding statements are true. He and The Queen Mother are not in Austin anymore because they have bigger and better things on their agenda right now.
Exactly what, I couldn’t tell you. Something about privacy laws and confidentiality agreements.
However, on a separate note, can you believe that this is the last weekend of June?! July is literally around the corner – and we haven’t planned a single thing to do yet this summer.
Actually, I like the way that sounds……
Zucchini Apple Bread – adapted from Aaron McCargo
1 cup finely grated zucchini
1 cup grated apple, peeled and cored
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat 2 (4 1/2 by 8 1/2-inch) loaf pans with nonstick spray. Line the pans with parchment paper and spray the paper.
Combine the zucchini, apple, brown sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add 3 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg to the bowl and mix well.
Divide the batter between the 2 loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the bread from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
For the Cheese Enchiladas:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
1 pound cheddar cheese, grated, divided
Working 1 tortilla at a time, dip fried tortilla into sauce, then transfer to a plate. Arrange 1/4 cup of cheese in a line along center of tortilla, then roll up. Set rolled tortilla, seam-side down, in a 9-by-11-inch baking pan and repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese.