Saturday, March 23, 2013

It's Easy As 1-2-3 Cake!

I have been lurking on Youtube learning to pressure can by watching the videos of 5 different women.  In addition to teaching me the fine lost art of canning and preserving food they also post just regular everyday recipes and I get to watch the success or failure of each.  I will admit to being somewhat addicted to them and look forward to each new video.

There is a woman who posts under the name imstillworkin who tries new recipes at least 2 times a week.  I have learned from her recorded efforts graham crackers are better bought, but homemade vanilla wafers taste the same.  She has a recipe for homemade ice cream sandwiches that she says are delicious ( will try them soon) and this little cake she calls a 1-2-3 cake.

It is a simple cake using 2 different cake mixes, water and literally 1 minute of microwave time.

2 tablespoons any flavor cake mix
1 tablespoon Angel Food cake mix  ( the combined cake mix, 3 tablespoons,  is the 3 in the name)
2 tablespoons water
1 minute in the microwave

She mixed hers together in a microwave safe coffee cup, baked it in the same cup and had no real trouble getting hers out of the cup to look like a neat little cake.  I was not quite as successful as she was at the removal stage, so from now on I will mix it together in a small bowl, spray the inside of a ramekin with a little non stick spray and then add the completely mixed batter to it.

I used 2 tablespoons of Devil's Food cake mix to 1 tablespoon of Angel Food.  The end result is a perfectly good little one serving cake.  It is just enough to be satisfying but not enough to feel stuffed.
The Hub had his with  a scoop of vanilla ice cream and was very happy.  It is not often I start making him dessert and have it on the table in a minute and a half.  I did take his out of the ramekin and though it came out mostly intact it was not very pretty.  I just ate mine straight from the dish.

Since we only had one scoop of vanilla left and I was kind and let him have it, I planned to eat mine as plain cake.  Then I remembered I had frozen about 1/2 cup of icing from a birthday cake I made Mom a few weeks ago. ( I am deadly serious about cutting our food waste to as near zero as possible)  I managed to scrape about 2 teaspoons of the rock hard frozen icing onto the top of the fresh out of the microwave cake.  It melted just in time to take the picture.  Be sure to eat this while it is warm.  The cake hardens a tad as it cools.

I could only shoot the picture from this side because a little bit ran over the back of the dish.  I would suggest putting the ramekin on a plate while cooking.  Then any overflow would be on the plate rather than the bottom of the oven ( Learn from my mistakes)

Imstillworkin also offered directions for making a pineapple upside down cake.  Use yellow cake mix obviously and mix the batter in a separate bowl.  In the bottom of the mug or ramekin put about 2 teaspoons crushed pineapple, a cherry half, 2 teaspoons chopped nuts, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 2 thin pats of butter and then pour the batter on to of all.  Bake for 1 minute and 20 seconds.

You could also put in some brown sugar, butter, butterscotch chips and nuts for a butter pecan cake.

I started thinking  chocolate cake mix, some nuts, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows with the batter on top might be a decent Mississippi  Mud Cake.

If you think you would like to do just one flavor, mix 2 boxes of cake mix with the box of Angel Food mix, stir well and store in a big jar.  Since I am going to experiment I am going to put my mixes in different jars and will combine only when I decide to bake them.  After today I will use Jiffy Cake Mixes so I won't have so much of any one flavor left over.

Use your imagination and try whatever sounds good.  If it doesn't work you are only out 3 tablespoons of cake mix and a minute or so of time.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Haluska for youska?

I have been trying to learn to do things that I seem to have never wanted to learn before.  (Take, for instance, pressure canning)  I have no clue why I feel the need to know how to do some of the things my grandmothers took for granted as necessary chores.  With the advent of commercial canning and freezing not to mention convenience foods we are more reliant on packagers than ever before.  I figure I just don't like having to rely on large food cartels to feed us.  

I purchased a canner then realized I have absolutely no idea how to use it. Instead of reading the directions right off the bat, I googled pressure canning. BINGO!!!  I found a bunch of women who have videos on Youtube canning everything from butter to goat meat and all things imaginable in between.  After I watched about 20 canning videos, I realized these ladies also have multitudes of video recipes.  I am hooked now and visit them daily to see what new food they are making.  Most of the dishes are not complicated  but many seem worth a try just for a different way to sample some down home goodness.
So thanks to Imstillworkin, The Mrs. Volfie, Perbain,  Noreen's Kitchen, and Katzcradul for teaching me to can and sharing your recipes.

This particular dish comes from  Katzcradul.  As usual I changed things a bit to suit us, but I certainly did use her video as the bones for the meal.  Many Thanks to you!

Haluska ( I am trusting this is the correct name.  I haven't really jumped in the polish food pond before)

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion sliced thinly
1 medium cabbage coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces uncooked egg noodles ( 1/2 of a 12 ounce pack...just eyeball)
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 pound polish sausage sliced on the bias and sauteed in a skillet

Slice the sausage in bias slices, heat in a skillet and keep warm.
In a dutch oven or large pot add the butter and oil till it sizzles.  Toss in the onion and wilt well, then add the cabbage.  Cook until the cabbage is wilted and starts to lightly brown.  Add the water and the uncooked noodles.  Put the lid on and cook stirring every few minutes.  If the water cooks out and the noodles are not finished cooking add 2 additional tablespoons,  and salt and pepper to taste.  When the water is gone and the noodles are cooked stir in the sour cream and mix well.  ( I put the sausage in the cabbage and mixed it.  I will not do that again.  Just spoon slices over the top of the cabbage noodle mixture)  Plate and sprinkle with Hungarian Paprika.  Smoked  Paprika would probably have worked well also.

Believe it or not this was delicious.  With the sour cream mixed in, the cabbage and noodles have a very smooth consistency . They almost melt while you are eating them.  I think other than the sausage I mentioned earlier the only thing I would do differently is use a LARGE red onion just for the color variance.  Without the paprika the dish would have been visually just a blonde mush.

If you like cabbage you will love it and if you are so-so about cabbage you will at least like it.  There were no cabbage haters here tonight so I can't speak for those.

Great way to incorporate large amounts of veggies in a single serving!

As you can see we had it with toast.  I successfully managed to burn one slice and undercook the other on the same cookie sheet at the same time.  Talent!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Another Restaurant Redoux Caramel Chicken

 Since Son3 went off to school we are going out  more than we have since we were dating.  For anyone counting, that is about 40 years ago.  For the first time in years we had even seen most of the movies which were nominated for Oscar's and actually had favorites. ( Personally we were glad Argo won for best film, but were really happy with all the awards  for The Life of Pi.  It was a feast for the eyes) In between movies and concerts we go out to eat.  We eat out too often, but it is what it is.

A few weeks ago we saw a 4:30 showing of Argo.  When  it ended we decided to eat at the Summit since we were already there.  Neither of us had a taste preference that night and P.F. Chang had a small crowd ( It pays to go out to eat at 7:30 on a Tuesday night) so in we went.  One of the first things I noticed was a menu change.  I am not a big fan of Changs but am always willing to try a new menu items. To be honest, I check to see what is listed as hot and usually try it.  The Caramel Chicken had my preferred heat level so that sealed the decision.  This is my attempt to recreate the flavor as I remember it.

Caramel Chicken

2 tablespoons neutral oil ( like grapeseed)
1 bell pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
1 large onion cut into strips
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
3 boneless, skinned chicken breasts, cut in bite size pieces
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2-1 teaspoon fish sauce ( I started with 1/2 but had to add more)
red pepper flakes to taste
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

Saute' the onion, pepper and mushrooms in a skillet until the veggies are soft but not brown.  Remove from pan and put in the chicken.  Cook until almost done then add the minced garlic and the ginger paste and finish cooking making sure the garlic does NOT brown.  Working quickly add the rest of the ingredients and stir to coat the chicken well.  Add the wilted vegetables to the pan just long enough to heat them.  Serve piping hot over brown rice ( or white rice, though we never eat it).

This was ok but not as good as I remembered.  I thought it was a little too sweet, plus the sauce was much thinner than the one I was served.  There must have been a little cornstarch added as a thickening agent.  I also don't think the one at P.F.Change had peppers or mushrooms but I am adding vegetables to everything we eat.  It is good enough to try again but I think it probably needs a little tweaking. I added maybe 1/8 teaspoon of pepper flakes and it was not hot enough for me .  Next time I will increase it to at least 1/4 teaspoon and might also add a jalapeno to the sauteed vegetables. I also added no salt since both soy sauce and fish sauce are salty, but we eat  very little salt so it was fine for us.  Might not be enough for others so I would adjust the seasoning after a taste test.  I also think adding an additional teaspoon of vinegar might balance the sweetness with a bit of tart.  I have some plum wine vinegar that I will use next time.  You be guided by your own taste and imagination!

As an aside, I overbought red grapes and had way more than we could eat.  I have been trying to have minimal food waste and recently purchased a food dehydrator to have some way of limiting what I toss in the garbage.  Last night I washed them and split the skin on one side of each grape.  I spread them on the dehydrator tray and plugged it in.  Tonight I have some of the most delicious raisins I have ever eaten, which is really saying something since raisins are not my favorite way to eat fruit.  I do not buy anything to intentionally dry, but am finding plenty of uses to salvage my over buying habit. For some reason my brain does not let me buy just 2 oranges when I can buy a 5 pound bag, so I guess my new toy is going to get quite a work out.