Sunday, December 4, 2011

So tonight, on  a cold and dreary December evening, we decided we wanted some cozy warm and serious comfort food.  What else fits the bill but Mac and Cheese?
Insert this:

What I ended up with? 

Overall Comments:  Now, like usual, I didn't follow the recipe to the letter.  Why?  Because I  used what I had in the house vs going to the store in the rain.  So instead of 2%, I used vit D.  I added a smidgen of water to thin it out, but I think it could have been over anyways, had I not switched it.   It is very creamy.  VERY creamy.  To the point of being pasty.  Paste-like.  Wallpaper paste like?   We added some butter and some milk trying to make it palatable, but it was very meh. 
Cost (approximately):  $1 for the pasta, $1.50 worth of milk? 
Would I make it again?  Probably not. 
What does the Mr think?  "Um...nice try honey."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homemade Doughnuts from Canned Biscuit Dough

I work with a woman who makes these with her preschool class at least twice a year.  I am, in no way shape or form, a virgin to eating these.  However, I'd never actually made my own. Last night, I decided to make some for my husband.  

Overall Comments:  Make sure to avoid the flaky layer biscuits, apparently this makes a huge difference.  Other than that, the only other issue I had was my aforementioned fear of frying things.  This of course, resulted in slightly under-cooked doughnuts as I found myself rushing them so that I could be done with this part of the process.  

When you disregard the slightly raw center, these are delicious.  However, for just my husband and I (while I gave Little Man a bite, he didn't have more than that) one can of biscuits = too many doughnuts for us.  This is def. something that would figure up to (in my opinion) a can of dough per family of four.  That being said, we tried them this morning and they were still very delicious aside from the slightly greasy aftertaste. 
Cost (approximately):  $1.25 for the biscuits.  Butter, sugar, cinnamon and oil are pretty standard kitchen supplies. 
Would I make it again?  Oh heck yeah.  I think we've decided that these are going to be our new traditional holiday morning fare (Christmas, birthdays, etc). 
What does the Mr think?  "Seriously? These are made from biscuits? Yum!

Homemade mozzarella sticks

It should be obvious by now that I'm not very good at remembering to follow directions.  Maybe this is why I never really found myself to be a good cook.  Sometimes my improvising is amazing, othertimes--well, let's just discuss how my homemade mozzarella sticks turned out, eh? 

Overall Comments:  So, I'm pretty cheap and decided it'd be a lot better to just buy a block of cheese vs the package of sticks.  I cut the block into stick-like pieces and then proceeded as per the directions.  My first critical error, I believe, was not considering the fact that the block is longer than the average cheese stick length.  This prevented me, I'm thinking, from achieving the appropriate won ton wrapper seal necessary to keep the cheese inside the stick.  

My second critical error?  I tried to bake vs fry.  I really dislike frying things.  Oh, I love fried things, but the actual act of me frying things?  I have these horrible visions of skin grafts and melted plastic and I spend most of the time holding the tongs like a girly girl holds a kleenex with a smooshed spider. 

The end result was slightly undercooked won ton wrappers and cheese all over my cookie tray.  
Cost (approximately):  $3.00 for the cheese, $2 for the wrappers
Would I make it again?  Honestly?  Probably not.  When you consider the stress of rolling them and sealing them, the extra money you spend to buy Farm Rich cheese sticks (or whatever brand you choose) is well worth it.  

That being said, if I found myself with a plethora of string cheese and a stack of won ton wrappers that would go to waste otherwise, yeah, I might try the whole thing again.  I'd just be sure to seal the shit out of those wrappers.  
What does the Mr think?  "Meh." 

Homemade artisan bread for $0.40 a loaf

I love bread.  

It's more than a normal love, it's a deeply rooted love.  Love that sometimes I embrace a little more, ok a lot more, than me or my scale or my blood sugar would appreciate.  

However, the main things keeping me from throwing myself fully in the love that dare not speak it's name was the hassle and stress of making my own and the cost of buying it at the store.  

This recipe changed all that.  

I've already added new pants to my Christmas list for santa. 

Overall Comments:  Well, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  When something is so cheap and easy and delicious that you find yourself making tons and tons of it, you will OD on it very quickly and then you find yourself with a loaf sitting on your counter top for a couple of days without being touched.  

It's super easy and super cheap.  The recipe calls for a pizza stone and a pizza peel and all of this stuff, but I just used a regular cookie sheet pan.   I just sprayed it with a little pam, sprinkled some cornmeal on the pan and placed the loaf.  I do have a couple pieces of advice. 
  1. When you think it's done, let it go another minute.  I am so worried about burning it, I've ended up with some raw dough in the middle.  
  2. Even though they say to let it cool, you really need to crack into it warm once just to really enjoy the fruits of your labor. 
  3. If the crust is too hard for your liking, rub some butter on the outside when you pull it out of the oven.  This will seep in and keep it from being too hard of a crust. 
  4. TRES important!! The pan you keep in the bottom of your oven to pour your water in, creating the steam?  Yeah, don't use your pyrex dish.  Cold water + 450 degree glass = explosion.  I didn't do it, but there are those out there that have.  NO GOOD.  
  5. Don't forget your dough on the counter for like 4 hours or it will continue to rise and grow, overflowing your container, spreading over your counter and creating a (hilarious) and sticky mess. 
Cost (approximately): $2.00 for the bag of flour and I honestly don't know how much for the yeast.  I had some bread machine yeast in my cupboard.  It actually had "expired" but still raises just fine.  
Would I make it again?  Would I?  Hell yes.  It's delicious! 
What does the Mr think?  "Who doesn't like fresh bread?" 

Balsamic Onion Pork Chops

Pork Chops? Check
Onions? Check
Balsamic Vinegar? Check

Overall Comments:  Very tasty, assuming of course, you like balsamic vinegar.  Super easy and it adds that extra level of flavor to turn boring pork chops into a nice meal.  We've made this twice now, once with mashed potatoes and once with roasted red potatoes.  Yum! 
Cost (approximately):  $5 for the pork chops, $1 onion, $4 bottle of vinegar
Would I make it again?  I've already made it twice, but I'm gonna make it again.  
What does the Mr think?  "If it was up to her, she'd make it every time we have pork chops.  But it's pretty good!" 

Dr Pepper Glazed Boneless Wings

OMG.  O---M---G. 

There's nothing super earth shatteringly new about the concept here, it's just making the worlds tastiest bbq sauce.  

Did I mention, yum?  

Overall Comments:  When I made this, I had a feeling it'd be tasty, so I doubled the recipe and I have a container in the fridge to be used later.  The recipe as written creates a very sweet sauce, but with a little extra hot sauce, some chopped garlic and a few drops of liquid smoke, it's delicious.  It does, however, take a while to reduce the Dr. Pepper to 1/8th the volume. 
Cost (approximately):  $0.50 for the Dr. Pepper, $1.00 for the chicken.  Everything else (butter, garlic, hot sauce, brown sugar, ketchup) is pretty standard kitchen fare. 
Would I make it again?  Oh heck yeah.  
What does the Mr think?  "This is pretty good.  Maybe next time we can add a little more spice to it, but then again, I'm not a sissy when it comes to heat, like my wife is" 

Garlic Chicken Pasta Stuff

So this is what it looks like when they make it.

This is what it looks like when I make it.  

Ok, so not too bad once you take away the nice camera, the pretty plate and the good lighting.  I think I did pretty good on this one.  It's fairly easy, fairly tasty, but I'd make some substitutions if I make it again.  

I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter only really fudging the amount of pepper I used.  We love pepper, but the blogger pinned stated it can get VERY peppery.  

Overall Comments:  This recipe is what happens when a traditional recipe and a crock pot recipe hook up in a car on a summer night.  Cooking the chicken takes all day (6 hours) in the crockpot, but figure another 45 minutes to cook the bacon, the pasta and make the sauce. 
Cost (approximately):  $3 for bacon, $1 marinade, $1 chicken, $2 cream, $2 cheese, $0.75 pasta. 
Would I make it again?  Yeah, it's pretty tasty.  I'd likely add in some sauteed onions and a sweeter veggie such as corn or peas to balance out the greasy feel from the bacon, butter, cream and cheese.  
What does the Mr think?  "It reminds me of a carbonara.  I'd add onions, some white wine and maybe some peas."