Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beautiful Blogger


Alex at Ma, what's for dinner? has given me an award. Thank you Alex for deeming Betty Crapper beautiful. I truly appreciate the recognition.

The guidelines for accepting this award are:
(Betty Crapper doesn't mind if you break the rules, she thinks you are beautiful and worthy of recognition.)
  • list 10 facts about yourself.
  • pick 10 beautiful bloggers to pass this award on to.
Ten random facts about M
  1. I am really short, as in 4'11'' short.
  2. I slipped and fell once when I stood on wheeled dog food bins to reach something up high in the pantry. Luckily, I did not get hurt.
  3. Chairs and counters are more stable. Now, I stand on chairs and climb onto my kitchen counter to reach things.
  4. I'm not a fan of most fruits, except tomatoes. I really, really love those things.
  5. I like vegetables.
  6. I used to be scared of flying. My husband constantly reminds me of the free trip to Switzerland I turned down. What was I thinking? Now I can't wait to head off somewhere, anywhere.
  7. My favorite drink is water, always has been. 
  8. I do not drink soft drinks because I've never, ever liked the taste.
  9. I procrastinate, a lot.
  10. A black bear crossed the trail right in front of me in Sequoia National Park, and I didn't even notice. I was too busy looking for wild flowers. Oops!
Ten beautiful bloggers I admire and love visiting. If you love food, you might love them too.
  1. Bumbles and Light 
  2. Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice 
  3. Finding Joy in My Kitchen Check out her great new look and current giveaway ($70 for use in CSN Stores).
  4. The Kitchen Witch I love, love, love her new sight design. Her new header is beautiful and evokes such happiness in me.
  5. Ms. enPlace
  6. One Perfect Bite
  7. Pam's Midwest Kitchen Korner
  8. The Peppered Pantry 
  9. Phoo-D 
  10. Stirring the Pot 
Have a wonderful Wednesday. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Meal Plan 6/28-7/4

Previous Week (Meal Plan 6/21-6/27)


Meal plans are wonderful, but life happens. Here is a review of last week's eats and how it all turned out.



Monday we had grilled ribeyes, vegetable skewers, and roasted garlic potato wedges. Hubby put a coffee spice rub on the steaks and grilled them medium. The grilled vegetables turned out great. Monday's meal would have been perfection without the super salty potato wedges. I halved my recipe and forgot to halve the salt and garlic. Oops, Betty Crapper struck again!


On Tuesday I used my thawed frozen pizza dough and made a pizza topped with marinara sauce, salami, red onions, green peppers, mushrooms, kalamata olives, and fresh mozarella cheese. I loved the combination of toppings. 

Tuesday I also made mamey ice cream for the first time. My father in law picked up his ice cream before I had a chance to take a picture. He tells me it was excellent and there's none left. I'll be making it again this coming weekend for my mother.


Wednesday I deviated from the meal plan and made picadillo. There was enough to have leftovers for lunch on Friday.

On Thursday, I met my husband for lunch and over ate: definitely not conducive to cooking dinner. That evening I had a small bagel with cream cheese and let my husband fend for himself. I believe he had cereal.


Friday's planned meal was also a bust. We ate spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce. Later that evening I made a cucumber salad to take to the beach. I found the recipe over at Use Real Butter

On Saturday I ate the Thai cucumber salad at the beach. The salad was delicious and perfect for the hot day. I will definitely make it again. 

Have I told you how much my ten month old loves the water? Lots and lots and lots! We followed up the beach with a dip in the pool at my sister's condo. The baby kicked and splashed and laughed. I believe she loved the pool more than the beach.

There was definitely no time to cook dinner on Saturday, so I picked up food from Outback on the way home.


Sunday, was a busy day in the kitchen. I made pizza dough for my freezer, chocolate cake to satisfy my chocolate cravings, and balsamic chicken over brown rice for dinner. 

Meal Plan 6/28-7/4

Monday: shredded chicken tacos with salsa, guacamole, and homemade flour tortillas
Tuesday: pepperoni pizza
Thursday: chicken with warm tomato corn salad and homemade bread
Friday: three cheese ziti inspired by SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen
Saturday:TBD, beach bound! dinner will likely be take out or leftovers.
Sunday:TBD, Fourth of July! 

I reserve the right to make substitutions and deletions due to laziness.

Baking/Sweets Wish List
(all homemade of course)
  • mamey ice cream
  • apple cake
If you are in need of further inspiration, check out the weekly Menu Plan Monday post over at I'm an Organizing Junkie

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Picadillo


I first learned how to make picadillo in college. There's only so much pizza delivery a poor undergrad can tolerate. One starving weekend, I called my mother up and asked for something Cuban that was within my minimal culinary capabilities. Mami suggested picadillo and I've been making it ever since. 

There are many ways to make Cuban picadillo. Growing up, we ate picadillo without potatoes. My husband's family made their picadillo with potatoes. I now love picadillo with potatoes and wouldn't dream of omitting them.


You will need ground beef, potato, onion, green pepper (or red if you are out of green), garlic (or garlic powder if you are out of fresh), tomato sauce, green olives, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and rice. The entire meal can be prepared in about 30 minutes. Betty Crapper loves that!

Start your white rice. By the time the rice is done, your picadillo should be as well.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and cook for about 6 minutes, until they begin to get some light color. Add chopped onions and green peppers and saute until vegetables begin to soften. If using garlic, add it in the last minute.


Once the potatoes, onions, and green peppers have softened, add your ground beef. Cook until browned. Use your wooden spoon to break up the ground beef into tiny pieces.



When your ground beef is browned, add tomato sauce, olives, and spices. 



Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.



Recipe

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small red potato, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 green pepper, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
8 ounces tomato sauce
1/4 cup green olives, halved
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and cook about six minutes until they begin to get some color. Stir occasionally. Add green peppers and onions and saute until vegetables begin to soften, about four minutes. Add minced garlic and saute about one minute. Add ground beef and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Use wooden spoon to break up clumps into small pieces. Add tomato sauce, olives, and spices. Stir and lower heat. Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes until liquid has reduced and ground beef is cooked through. Serve over white rice.



Betty Crapper loves picadillo, for many reasons. Picadillo is
  • easy.
  • cheap.
  • fast.
  • tasty.
  • satisfying.
Have I sold you on picadillo? 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Marinara Sauce


Betty Crapper has had a love affair with spaghetti since about age 12. I had a swim coach who touted the benefit of eating pasta before swim meets. Imagine that. Carbs being good for you! 

I used to eat spaghetti topped with jarred spaghetti sauce. Betty Crapper didn't care if the sauce was cold. This was something Betty Crapper could cook. Who can't boil water and open a jar?

Although I no longer swim, or expend great amounts of energy, I still eat spaghetti quite often. Because I am picky about where my food comes from, I now make my spaghetti sauce at home. The sauce is easy to make and uses onions, garlic, carrots, celery, crushed tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. I almost always have those ingredients on hand. 


First, you saute onions and garlic in olive oil for 10 minutes. Then you add carrots, celery, salt, and pepper and saute for another 10 minutes.


Once your vegetables are soft, you add the crushed tomatoes and bay leaf. An hour later you have homemade marinara sauce.


Marinara Sauce
(Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis's Everyday Italian)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 dried bay leaf

In a large pot heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic after five minutes. Once onions are translucent, add the celery, carrots, salt, and pepper. Saute until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat about 1 hour, until thickened.  Makes about one quart.

Tips
  • If using as pizza sauce, puree cooked sauce until smooth. You don't want someone (cough, cough) asking if you meant to put carrots on your pizza.
  • If you want it thicker, simmer longer.
  • Puree sauce if you are picky and don't like little pieces of carrot, celery, or onions. You know who you are.
Betty Crapper has used this sauce for spaghetti, beef manicotti, and pizza. What else do you suggest she use this marinara sauce for?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Meal Plan 6/21-6/27

Previous Week (Meal Plan 6/14-6/20)

Meal Plans are wonderful, but life happens. Here is a review of last week's eats and how it all turned out.


Monday, I made spaghetti with marinara sauce and homemade whole wheat bread. I made enough sauce to eat spaghetti for lunch the next day, have a spaghetti dinner later in the week, and use as pizza sauce. 


Tuesday's chicken fajitas were great. I used a spice mixture languishing in my pantry from Williams-Sonoma. This was the first time I ate fajitas without any tomato salsa. I made corn guacamole, instead.


On Wednesday, I made chicken piccata with white rice. Quick and easy as usual. This time I used half the capers called for in the recipe and it was perfect. I need to update my chicken piccata recipe to reflect the positive change.


Thursday I had a salad for dinner. 

On Friday we had homemade pizza topped with prosciutto, red onions, and fresh mozzarella. Delicious combination.

Saturday I had spaghetti for dinner. I really, really love spaghetti and could eat it every day.

We went out to eat for father's day.

Last week, I never made Wednesday's ribeyes or Saturday's picadillo. Those will be carried over to the current week. 

Meal Plan 6/21-6/27 

Monday: grilled ribeyes, grilled vegetable skewers, and roasted garlic potato wedges
Tuesday: homemade pizza with salami
Wednesday: balsamic chicken over brown rice  
Thursday: picadillo over white rice
Friday: shredded chicken tacos

Saturday: TBD
Sunday: TBD

I reserve the right to make substitutions and deletions due to laziness.

Baking/Sweets Wish List
(all homemade of course)
If you are in need of further inspiration, check out the weekly Menu Plan Monday post over at I'm an Organizing Junkie

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pizza Dough


Homemade pizza dough is easy and delicious. The ingredients couldn't be simpler: all-purpose flour, water, olive oil, and active dry yeast. That's it. Can you say the same about store bought crust or chain delivery places? Don't be afraid to try. It takes about 3 1/2 hours start to finish. Three of those hours are just waiting for magic to happen.


The first thing you do is add tepid water to yeast in your mixer's bowl. Stir and leave it alone for 5 minutes.


Stir in olive oil and then some flour. You are going to make a sponge.


Cover your bowl and let the mixture rest in a warm place for about an hour and a half. Look at all the bubbles! Magic. Pure magic.


Use your spatula to deflate that sponge. Hear it squeak and protest the intrusion.


Fit the dough hook on your mixer. Add the rest of the flour and the salt. Mix on low speed.


Betty Crapper learned the hard way to cover the mixer with a towel for the first few minutes.


After about about 8 minutes, your dough looks like this


Shape it into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Turn to coat. Cover and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled in volume.


Turn out onto a floured surface and divide into 2 or 3 balls. I like my crust thin and crispy, so I make 3 dough balls. Wasn't that easy?


Pizza Dough
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking with Julia)

Sponge:

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water (about 80F)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Place yeast in your mixer's bowl. Add water and stir to dissolve yeast. Let yeast rest for 5 minutes, until it turns creamy. Stir the oil into the mixture. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula. Scrape down sides of bowl. Cover and let sponge rest in warm place for about 1 1/2 hours until the sponge is very bubbly and has doubled in volume.

Dough:

The sponge
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp salt

Deflate the sponge with a rubber spatula. Fit your mixer with the dough hook. Add 2 cups flour and salt to the sponge. Mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium. If the dough is not coming together, slowly add flour by the spoonful. Knead dough on medium for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl. Turn ball of dough over to moisten with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, until double in volume.

Shaping:

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape the piece into a ball and then flatten into a disk. Pull and stretch to shape pizza or use a rolling pin. Have patience. If dough springs back, allow it to rest a few minutes. Work the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick, or thinner. Transfer dough to a pizza peel. Top with your favorite toppings.

Baking:

Bake pizza on a stone in a preheated 475F oven. Stone should be in lower third of oven. Bake 13 to 15 minutes if you made two dough balls. If you made three dough balls, and your pizza is really thin, bake 11 to 13 minutes. 

Tips
  • Preheat your oven as long as possible. You want that stone hot, hot, hot.
  • Sprinkle a light dusting of cornmeal on your peel to make the dough slide easier.
  • The crust tastes better if you make the dough the day before. After the second rise, wrap your dough tightly in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.
  • Brush your crust with olive oil before you add toppings.
  • Pizza dough freezes really well. Wrap dough ball tightly in plastic wrap after second rise. Place in freezer safe bag and freeze. The night before you want to use it, place dough ball in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.
  • Invest in a pizza stone and peel. Both can be obtained inexpensively. Betty Crapper's pizza stone was less than $20 and her peel was less than $10 at Bed Bath & Beyond.



I'm currently loving my pizza with pepperoni, red onions, ricotta, fresh mozarella, and homemade marinara sauce. What do you love on yours?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Meal Plan 6/14-6/20

Previous Week (Meal Plan 6/7-6/13)

Meal Plans are wonderful, but life happens. Here is a review of last week's eats and how it all turned out.


Monday's meatloaf and buttermilk mashed potatoes were quite delicious and filling. Meatloaf is the perfect comfort food. I used Ina Garten's recipe for individual meat loaves and was not disappointed.


Tuesday, I made one of my favorites. Peach chicken is easy to assemble and absolutely worth adding to your repertoire. It's a sweet and savory dish with a hint of garlic and ginger. Don't skip the toasted almonds. 


Wednesday, I baked my childhood friend a carrot cake. I got home late from delivering the cake and was glad picadillo was on the menu. Picadillo is a Cuban classic that is quick and easy to prepare. It is so easy Betty Crapper has been making it since before she learned how to cook.


Thursday I made two loaves of banana-nut bread, one for me and one to share. 

Betty Crapper showed her true colors and burnt her arm in the process. Betty Crapper needs to be more careful when taking things out of a hot oven. She needs to be even more careful not to scratch the blister hours later. I made it worse, much much worse.

For lunch on Thursday, I ordered a red curry chicken dish from the local Thai restaurant. Because Betty Crapper refuses to cook Thai food at home, I overindulged and consumed a vast quantity of food. I only had room for a small salad for dinner. The hubby had leftovers.

I still have nightmares about my first experience using fish sauce.


Friday we were supposed to have beef manicotti, homemade bread, and a salad. Life happened and I was out running errands all day. The beef manicotti got pushed to Sunday and homemade frozen pizza dough came to the rescue. 

Saturday, my aunt made camarones enchilados. I should have brought home leftovers.


Sunday we enjoyed the previously postponed beef manicotti. I love pasta. Pasta plus cheese is Betty Crapper's weakness. Add ground beef and I'm in heaven. 

Meal Plan 6/14-6/20 


Monday: spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce and homemade whole wheat bread
Tuesday: chicken fajitas served with sauted red peppers and onions, roasted corn guacamole, sour cream, and homemade flour tortillas
Wednesday: grilled ribeyes, grilled vegetable skewers, and roasted garlic potato wedges
Thursday:
chicken piccata with white rice
Friday: homemade prosciutto pizza and 
salad
Saturday: picadillo with white rice
Sunday: Father's Day plans TBD

I reserve the right to make substitutions and deletions due to laziness.

Baking/Sweets Wish List
(all homemade of course)

My father in-law requested mamey ice cream. He gave me frozen pulp from the mamey sapote trees in his yard. I can't find a recipe anywhere. Do you have any suggestions? 
  • banana-nut bread (I have more over-ripe bananas)
  • mamey ice cream
  • Tiramisu (Anyone have an entirely homemade recipe and wish to share?)
If you are in need of further inspiration, check out the weekly Menu Plan Monday post over at I'm an Organizing Junkie

The Versatile Blogger


Michelle at All Home Cooking. All Year Long has given me an award. Thank you for deeming Betty Crapper worthy! 

The guidelines for accepting this award are...
  • Thank the person/people who gave it to you.
  • Tell 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass the award on to 15 bloggers, whom you have recently discovered, and think are fantastic.
7 random things about M
  1. I eat chocolate every day.
  2. Yellowstone is my favorite place.
  3. I have two labrador retrievers.
  4. I don't like black beans.
  5. My favorite color is red.
  6. I refuse to run.
  7. I like blowing bubbles.
I've recently discovered, and read, many great blogs. If you find you are not among my list, please note I've focused my teeny, tiny flashlight on the little guy.  ... and the award goes to ...