Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?

I will let you in on a secret.  I am not all sunshine and roses and unicorns and cupcakes all the time.  I have my faults.  Sometimes I am annoying.  Sometimes I am unnecessarily petulant when my annoying behavior is rebuffed.  After I am done feeling sorry for myself and being petulant I do apologize.  For what it is worth I can usually recognize unsavory behavior in myself.  And 99.5% of the time I will apologize.  (I'm not 100% perfect, so I probably don't always apologize).  But I do have my positives.  Like waffles.  Yeasty, crusty, fluffy, waffles with just a hint of sweetness.

Every week I ask boyfriend if there is anything special he wants for the week (aside from cookies, either store bought or scratch made those are a given to the point that they are not considered "special" any more), or if there is anything I haven't made in a while that he wants.  Some weeks it is chicken soup.  Others it is something involving bacon.  Pizza is always welcome, though not necessarily requested.  Because he gets up for work super early he doesn't usually have breakfast, but he loves breakfast foods.  Needless to say brinner (breakfast for dinner) is a given almost once a week around here.  Brinner offers me the variation I crave in my diet and offers boyfriend all the breakfast foods he is missing out on.  Usually it is pancakes.  He can eat pancakes like he's getting paid.  Last time it was some killer french toast (my secrets - use ridiculous bread, most people usually recommend challah or brioche.  I used a loaf of Portuguese sweet bread.  Other secret: I use french vanilla coffee creamer instead of milk in my custard mixture).  This time boyfriend asked for waffles.  It just so happens that I own a waffle iron, so I was game.  I was poking around for a waffle recipe that was different  enough to keep me interested and familiar enough to convince boyfriend to eat them.  I definitely succeeded.  If you're looking for a dessert waffle recipe, this is definitely not for you.  The only thing to lend any sweetness to it is maple syrup.  It is a yeasted waffle so it requires a little patience and pre-planning, though nothing crazy.

2 cups AP flour
2 eggs
1 1/12 cups warm milk
1 1/2 ts active yeast
1 ts vanilla
3/4 ts salt
6 tb melted butter
2 tb maple syrup

Mix all ingredients together and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Leave at room temp at least one hour so the yeast can do its thing.  NB: the longer you leave the batter hanging out, the more of a nutty, yeasty almost umami flavor will develop.  And after sitting out for an hour, if not using straight away, stick it in the fridge.  After the hour the batter will be kind of bubbly and slightly thicker.  It reminded me of looser, runnier pizza dough.  My particular waffle iron took slightly less than 3/4 of a cup per waffle and produced 7 waffles from this recipe.  I enjoyed mine with butter and raspberry jam and boyfriend drown his in maple syrup.  And when you're topping your waffles like that do you really need more sweetness in the waffle itself?

Monday, February 27, 2012

a muffin is just a bald cupcake. that's okay, I like bald things.

I am having reasonably good karma at the moment.  This is concerning.  Also I'm pretty sure boyfriend has made sure there is a spirit of sorts haunting me while he is at work.

So first - the karma thing.  I worked on Saturday and in a flurry to get out the door and on the road I didn't grab anything to eat except an apple.  I knew that would not be enough for a 9 hour shift while I am in full on musteatmorefoodnowbottomlesspit mode (aka, taking care of lady business).  So I made my way to work, and after I got off the highway stopped at a little convenience store that I frequent and hooked myself up with an AP (Arnold Palmer) and Nutrigrain bar.  I completed my transaction, went back outside into the howling wind and into my car.  I was preparing to pull out of the parking lot when I was sneak-attack-accosted by a gentleman knocking on my window.  He claimed he needed to get back to NH from MA and was out of gas and needed money.  I had only put my window down a hair, but the whole situation felt warning.warning.wrong.wrong.WRONG.  So I apologized and said I had no cash and continued on my way to work.  I immediately felt guilty.  Now don't get me wrong, I've been hit up for money before - it happens pretty much whenever I go to Boston or NYC or Philly.  And I employ my tried and true method of "Do Not Engage.  Do Not Make Eye Contact."  And it has served me and countless millions well.  This however, was decidedly NOT Boston.  More like the middle of nowhere, plus apple trees, and a few people.  
Maybe you think my methods are cruel, and maybe they are.  But maybe I'm lucky to work 12 hours a week and still have to be responsible for phone bill, electric bill, gas bill, and grocery bill for two people as well as putting gas in my car to get to the 12hr/wk job that is 35 minutes away.  Let's just say yes, I did have $10 in my wallet, but I am not necessarily in a position to just give it up considering there is a looming unpaid credit card bill, that has and will continue to loom until I get a real job (which is looking optimistic these days).  So despite my refusal, I did pretty much immediately feel guilty and certain that bad things would befall me.  They haven't.  (knock on wood)  

Second - and this is just kind of a funny aside - boyfriend loves to harass me and interrupt my internet surfing. I normally enjoy this activity on the sofa next to him with my laptop perched on my lap.  He takes this as an invitation to reach over and press as many buttons on my keyboard as possible.  Especially the calculator button.  Yes, there is a button on my keyboard whose sole function is to open up the calculator.  I know, it seems superfluous.  But I didn't choose this computer because of its keyboard attributes.  I chose it because it was cheap.  And I had spilled a glass of iced tea on my last one.  So this morning I am checking email, perusing recipes and meal planning for the week, and I get up to procure some breakfast (more about that in a minute) and return with breakfast to the sofa and laptop only to find about five calculator windows open, something boyfriend is immensely fond of doing, but clearly incapable of because he has a real job and is working hard at the moment.  Curious.

Anyway, breakfast.  Breakfast!  Chocolate!  You too can have it all in one neat package.  Yay!  Three cheers for me!

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Born from boyfriend's infinite capacity to consume chocolate chip cookies, and my indifference to making chocolate chip cookies.  Again.  (I tend to to lose interest after the first sheet of them go in the oven, so the cookies get progressively larger because of my laziness.)

3 cups AP flour (I'm interested to use cake flour next time, we shall see)
1/2 white sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter softened
1/4 ts baking soda
2 3/4 ts baking powder
2 1/2 ts vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups choc. chips (I had chunks on hand and they worked fine)

Oven @ 375

For future reference I would add more sugar next time.  Or change the sugar ratio to 3/4 cup white and 1/4 brown.  I understand the brown is there to give it that cookie like taste, but had the muffin base had anything other than chocolate (like fruit) it would not have been sweet enough.
Get the dry together - flour, baking soda, baking powder.  The original recipe also called for salt, but I never add salt, because I never use unsalted butter.  I figure the salted butter compensates for the salt in the recipe.  Unsalted butter is for buttercream only.
Cream together sugars and butter.  Then add eggs and vanilla.  Cream.  Alternate adding dry ingredient mix and milk.  Stir in chips.  Et Voila!
Bake 20 minutes.  No way does this need 30 minutes.  Also, the muffins will rise.  Alot.  That's what you get with almost 3 teaspoons of baking soda.

Things to look forward to this week, yeasted waffles, brined pork chops, chicken soup, homemade naan, probably some sort of mexican food, and hopefully a margarita the size of my face.  YES!

Monday, February 20, 2012

i'm back in the saddle again

Gosh, I haven't written in months and months and months and months.  Ooops.  Badbad.  And SO much has happened.  SO.  MUCH.

Here is a last season recap - main things only: I moved in with the man, work was crazy busy and good, and then crazy and bad, things were rocky with the man, things are better, might be getting a new job, and there is so much food happening.

So basically, I am relocated and master of my own kitchen, because the boy can rarely be bothered to be in there unless eating, and my current job has decided to treat me like crap and I have basically decided to smile and take it.  Because that is how I roll.  Doormat style.  Not really.  I just don't really have millions of employment opportunities and can't afford to leave.

So I should probably start talking about the food.  There were definitely hits and misses and you will get to know about ALLLL of them.

Let's start on an easy and positive note.  I like those kinds of notes.

Crock-pot Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 oz blocks cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup buffalo wing/hot sauce
1 cup ranch dressing
2 10oz cans of chicken***

***NB: I totally think this might be kind of grody.  I obtained a whole cold rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and stripped about half of it for the dip.  Basically one breast, thigh, drum stick.  Meat from a can just seems so wrong to me.

Dump everything in crock pot.  Turn crock pot on to your desired heat level depending on how quickly you need the dip to be ready.  It will get sufficiently melty asap if you crank that baby up.  I kept mine on warm for about two hours and then upped it to low about a half hour before I had to leave the house with it for a party.  It was a HUGE hit.  Along with the strawberry cupcakes with champagne buttercream I brought.