Monthly Archives: November 2011

Killer Kielbasa and Potatoes

The four-ingredient meal:

I stole this one from my mom. I don’t think she cooks anything else that contains fewer than, like, twenty ingredients. Check out our pho recipe if you don’t believe me.

Once a month, I treat our family to a “meat” item at PCC from the hot dog/cocktail wienie/kielbasa section. You know, meats I wouldn’t normally buy but that my people sneak around and eat behind my back. Like at Costco. So I figure that if the people want it, they can have it, as long as I can feed it to them without getting the willies when I think about what goes into it.

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a quick saute. Here’s how it goes:

1. Cut 2 medium Russet potatoes that you’ve washed and peeled into matchsticks and pat dry. Cut a kielbasa into matchsticks to match. Cut a quarter of a sweet onion into long, thin slivers.

2. In a large skillet with a bit of olive oil going over medium-high heat, cook up the potatoes. Stir often.

3. After several minutes, add the sweet onion. Stir everything around a lot. After several more minutes, the onions should be opaque.

4. Add the kielbasa. Cook until the meat is heated through.

5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle a handful of sesame seeds you’ve toasted over medium heat in a small pan into the kielbasa/potato mixture.

We love this for dinner but it makes a great breakfast if you happen to have leftovers. We never have that problem with this meal.

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That’s Gratitude for You

Things I’m grateful for:

Fall. And apples. Apple picking in the fall. Especially when the apples are free…

…which is what I remind myself when I’ve cored, peeled, and cut up pots full of apples and made gallons of applesauce. By that point, I’m also grateful for beer.

Parsley. How many of us are thanking parsley this Thanksgiving? Parsley turns this:

(Why yes, that is ground beef in cream of mushroom soup. Before you judge, please note that it is served over wholesome brown rice.)

…into this:

I am very grateful for the classying power of garnishes.

All-Clad. Sleek and powerful. Makes cooking as much fun as eating.

I’m also mighty grateful for friends and family. Which goes without saying. But don’t you find that the things that should go without saying are the exact things that deserve to be said? Thanks to my family and friends, this has been a year of bear hugs, shoulders to cry on, good drinks, great food (not by me–did you see that hamburger meat?), a gift card that made the All-Clad possible, a free sewing machine that is opening the door to a new career path if I want it, support for my creative endeavors, readers for this blog, and lots of great new experiences.

Check out one of my favorite new experiences from this year below. I need to add that I’m awfully grateful for my imagination, because in my imagination I’m sleek and powerful and just plain awesome. You say delusional, I say imaginative.

Well, roll tape.

What are you grateful for?

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Chocolate-Dipped Potato Chips

You’re either going to love these…

…or hate them.

This recipe takes something that’s pretty much perfect–the Ruffles potato chip–and coats it in chocolate. It’s a match made in naughty food heaven or a sacrilege.

I kind of dig ’em.

Take one bag of Ruffles potato chips and separate the whole chips from the crumbs.

If you’re wondering what I did with those potato chips crumbs, then you don’t know me very well. In my defense, winter is fast approaching and I was responding to some primal biological urge to prepare.

Next, set a small glass bowl containing 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips with 1/2 ounce of bittersweet chocolate over a small pot with some water in it, and heat the water over medium heat. Stir frequently. After a few minutes, you’ll have this:

It’s smooth and shiny and ready to receive potato chips.

Food scientist that I am, I tried several methods for coating the chocolate chips. Here are my findings:

a. dipping the entire chip into the chocolate sauce: too much goopy chocolate and messy fingers

b. using tongs to dip: too many broken chips

c. gently painting chocolate sauce onto half of each chip with a pastry brush: the right balance between salt and chocolate

You might have to experiment to find what works best for you. Make sure to exercise the morning of. And maybe have a light breakfast and lunch.

Set the chips on a cooling rack until the chocolate sets. If you’re weak-willed, you might want to stay out of the kitchen for about an hour.

Look at how that chocolate clings to those potato chips. Kind of like my pants after all that taste-testing. Go figure.

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Halloween, or, Hangin’ with my Gnomies…and a Flamingo

It’s almost sick how much fun a family of four can have for about ten dollars.

I don’t remember exactly when we decided to do a family theme for Halloween, but I do remember that we bounced around a lot of ideas, including Teletubbies (which Lupe decided that no self-respecting sixth grader would be caught dead as). When we knew that Yard Art was the 2011 theme, it was a no-brainer that Rue would be a flamingo. A#1: it’s pink. B#2: It’s her favorite animal. We spend a lot of time staring at sleeping flamingos at the zoo.

You haven’t known love until you’ve driven all the way to to zoo, spent 30 minutes staring at sleeping flamingos, then had a five-year-old tell you that she wants to go home.

Lupe was originally going to be a toadstool with a frog attached at the top, but the minute she caught sight of my gnome costume, she changed her mind.

These costumes were so easy to make because they incorporated a lot of what we already had lying around the house. Yes, that is probably a telling statement about the quality of our everyday wardrobe. We used our own sweatpants, leggings, long-sleeve shirts, belts, and shoes. I used about 1 1/4 yards of blue felt to make the gnome vests and about 1/2 yard of red felt to make four hats (because Rue wanted one, too). The felt was on sale at JoAnn Fabrics for $2.99 a yard, 50% off original price. Nacho Man made his beard out of a leftover bag of spider webbing that we had bought last year.

The hats are just two triangles, cut a couple of inches larger than the person’s head circumference. Sew them together with a quarter inch seam allowance, and turn the right sides out.

I used V-neck t-shirts as guides for each vest, but cut the felt longer and a little wider. To cut the back, lay the t-shirt on the felt, trace (I use regular old chalk), and cut. Then, fold the felt and the t-shirt in half, line up the folds, trace the front torso, and cut. You then cut this second piece in half where the middle of the vest is, and stitch the shoulders and the sides together. Leave the arm holes open, which I forgot to do the first time. Nothing like ripping out stitches to help you remember.

I didn’t know how to sew sleeves when I made these costumes. And I still don’t. I’m okay with that.

We bought 3 bags of feathers for $1.50 apiece, and hot-glued them to a shirt that Rue had outgrown, a black elastic headband, and a scrap piece of pink tulle, which wrapped around her like a tutu but gave her a tail on her back end.

Materials cost for 4 costumes: $9.73

As giddy as the cost made me, I have to say that there’s something about slipping on my gnome hat that instantly made me happier. It’s impossible to be a grump. I may have to pull that outfit back out when it’s January and my Vitamin D levels are at all-time lows.

Nacho Man also had way too much fun in his costume. His favorite pastime: standing in the corner of our friends’ porch and surprising the you-know-what out of friends who were arriving for a Halloween party. If he shows up on your porch, please let me know. He means no harm. He’s just way too into it.

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