Home In Disarray

September 10, 2010

We just spent $3,000 on our kitchen

We just spent $3,000 on our kitchen
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And it was worth EVERY PENNY. I can’t begin to describe quite how pleased I am right now, so I’ll simply leave you with this quick cell-phone snapshot (worst camera phone in existence). There’ll be better photos and before and afters when I get a chance to put the stove back where it goes and remove the Wendy’s wrappers from my (new!!!!) counter after all of the adhesive and sealant dries.

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That is all.

Posted in: Kitchen, Renovations
September 6, 2010

Chocolate tart and a sausage fest

Chocolate tart and a sausage fest
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The weekend after the wedding (this weekend) we planned to throw a party to get our friends to help us consume leftover booze from the wedding. We ended up with a lot more leftover beer than we expected, thanks to my exceptional planning in assuming that other people would be interested in drinking an award winning IPA instead of an acceptable Scotch ale. Oh well!

I thought I’d be clever and call it a “Sausage Fest.” And instead of just having a bunch of guys and no women, we’d serve sausage (ha ha, you’re so funny Laurel!). So we did 2 different types of Sausage – brats, and chicken tomato/basil. We fed 13 people I think? The menu was:
Brats (from the store)
Rolls (from the store)
Beer braised onions
Sauerkraut (from the store)
Mustard (from the store)
Hot & vinegary german potato salad
Soft Pretzels

Chicken with sun dried tomatoes and basil sausage
Bruschetta
Greek pasta salad
fried polenta

Pitas & pita chips (from the store)
Leftover dips from the wedding
Hummus (from the store)
Jalape├▒o artichoke dip (from the store)
Kalamata olive tapenade

Spinach salad with bacon mustard vinaigrette

Lemon Tart
Chocolate Tart

Of course I forgot to take pictures of ANYTHING. Partially because I was cooking literally ALL DAY, and partially because by the time the food was totally complete, I had consumed several beers. And then I decided that one of our friends needed to take the leftover chocolate tart home. Shit!

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And then Craig told me that he hadn’t gotten any of it, and I had to come up with some sort of dessert to feed our friend who came over for dinner tonight, so I whipped up another one.

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It’s basically just a normal tart shell (by the way, this is the FIRST time I’ve ever made any kind of pastry without it going horribly wrong and shrinking or developing tumors. I feel like I’ve found God.) with some cocoa powder added in, and a chocolate ganache filling – which is dark chocolate and cream. YUM.

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Posted in: Cooking
September 6, 2010

Parmesan polenta with fresh chicken sausage patties and chunky primavera sauce

Parmesan polenta with fresh chicken sausage patties and chunky primavera sauce
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I made this for dinner tonight. It was fantastic. With the exception of the sausage, this is a garden-pantry meal – meaning that it’s made of stuff you probably already have lying around. But I had the sausage in my fridge, so whatever. ­čśë

3 small zucchinis from the garden, the languishing remains of a tomato that was sliced earlier for sandwiches, 3 cans diced tomatoes, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 small can tomato paste
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1/3 of a huge walla-walla onion, diced, softened in a little olive oil
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Once the onion’s softened, add in the zucchini plus some red pepper flakes, and start to brown it.
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Then add the tomato, canned tomato products, some dried oregano, granulated garlic, minced fresh rosemary, minced fresh basil(from the garden, of course!), whatever else you see in the spice cabinet that looks like a good idea.
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Simmer things down for a while, or…you know… use a bigger pot. You’d think that I would know better by now. I’ve made several incarnations of this same basic sauce and every time I do a facepalm halfway through because I used my stupid saut├ę pan instead of a dutch oven. Then add several tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. The acidity in the vinegar makes this sauce.
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Watch it bubble and gurgle
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Then taste, adjust seasonings, and remove from heat. I added a lot more salt, and some black pepper, and more balsamic vinegar. Weep about the mess you’ll need to clean up soon.
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On! – To the polenta! Polenta is pretty much just yellow corn grits. Really. Get something good though, don’t buy crappy cornmeal. Bob’s Red Mill is a pretty good brand, but I’m not sure if they’re available nationally.
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Grate up a bunch of parmesan. Polenta on it’s own is kind of bland in my eyes, so I jazz it up with a strongly flavored cheese.
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The mixture is 3 cups of water to 1 cup of polenta. I doubled it. Also, toss a pat of butter in there, and a bunch of salt. Corn is bland.
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Bring it to a boil
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Then whisk the hell out of the water as you sprinkle the polenta in. Continue to whisk for a few minutes as things start to become more viscous. (See my wedding ring!!!)
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Turn the heat down to low once the mixture comes back up to a boil.
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Then cover the pot and let it cook slowly for 5ish minutes, stirring occasionally. When you start to get impatient, or think it’s done, grab a spoon, and taste a bit of the polenta. This is to see if it needs more salt (it probably does), pepper, etc. Also, remember to check your lcd to make sure you have the flash pointed in the right direction.
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Then add your cheese, and additional seasonings in, stir thoroughly, pop the lid on, and let it sit til you’re ready to use it, but not too long! The polenta will solidify.
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I made this sun dried tomato and basil chicken sausage yesterday. I can’t handle natural casings anymore, so I make patties instead. I just spooned some of it into the pan, and fried it up in some olive oil.
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The finished product –
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Posted in: Cooking
September 6, 2010

How to cook polenta

How to cook polenta
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First of all, I’d like to briefly apologize for not posting all summer. I just married the man of my dreams, and things have been totally crazy. I’m hoping after the kitchen-upgrade that our wedding gifts afforded us is installed, things will cool off and get back to normal! I’ll put together a post with photos when I get them!

This is a quick how-to that I wrote up for some man-friends my mine who were concerned that they didn’t know how to cook polenta.

Polenta is pretty much just yellow corn grits. Really. Get something good though, don’t buy crappy cornmeal.
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Grate up a bunch of parmesan. Polenta on it’s own is kind of bland in my eyes, so I jazz it up with a strongly flavored cheese.
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The mixture is 3 cups of water to 1 cup of polenta. I doubled it. Also, toss a pat of butter in there, and a bunch of salt. Corn is bland.
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Bring it to a boil
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Then whisk the hell out of the water as you sprinkle the polenta in. Continue to whisk for a few minutes as things start to become more viscous.
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Turn the heat down to low once the mixture comes back up to a boil.
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Then cover the pot and let it cook slowly for 5ish minutes, stirring occasionally. When you start to get impatient, or think it’s done, grab a spoon, and taste a bit of the polenta. This is to see if it needs more salt (it probably does), pepper, etc.
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Then add your cheese, and additional seasonings in, stir thoroughly, pop the lid on, and let it sit til you’re ready to use it, but not too long! The polenta will solidify.
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If you want to have this “fresh” then serve and eat. If you want to turn it into fried polenta, then grease up a dish of some sort, and dump the polenta in.
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Then let the polenta cool, thoroughly. I didn’t because I was antsy and wanted to finish cooking for the night. Don’t tell.
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Turn the block of polenta out onto a cutting board and slice it up into manageable pieces. It shouldn’t have come apart like this. It hadn’t cooled properly.
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Get a plate and mix some flour with salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you like. I used a bit of cayenne. I bet mustard powder woulda been good.
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Roll the polenta around in the flour mixture to coat. This whole flour hoopla is unnecessary, but gives you a nicer crust than not using it.
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Then cook in some oil in a hot pan that you know will easily release things. For me, that’s my cast iron, for you, it may be a nonstick skillet. Please excuse the bits and pieces of chicken sausage.
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Turn when they start crisping up on one side, until all sides are cooked.
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Remove to a paper towel lined plate just to absorb some excess oil. To keep these crisp, pop them in a warm (200┬║ish) oven. They get soggy rather quickly.
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These can be eaten by themselves (yum) or with a really good sauce, like a primavera or something to that effect (double yum).
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There you have it, fried polenta, crisp and crunchy on the outside, creamy and fluffy on the inside!
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Posted in: Cooking