Friday, February 26, 2010

Wordless Friday


So saving my voice the past few days did not work as well as I had hoped due to some issues going on at work. At least I can be quiet online :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Well There's No Excuse to Bake Now

In order to get my voice back and to stop sounding like Alvin after he's been hitting the helium, I need to take a day off tomorrow to rest my voice. There is NO way it's ever going to happen at work. I either have people talking to me or phones to be answered all of which finally caught up with me. It was so bad  today that one of my coworkers who had been teasing me all week about how funny I sounded was actually showing concerned worry after talking to me.

Now I am not a extrovert by nature so I'm never going to be a chatty gal by nature. But I know it's got to be done as I've lost my voice almost completely tonight just by talking to Queen Katie, Protector of the Hallways. So I figure that since I'm feeling fine other than that, I might as well catch up with some baking tomorrow and at least get something productive done.

But it is so bizarre that having been told that I shouldn't talk, I have the overwhelming urge to do nothing but talk.

This is why blogging is totally awesome.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mondays with Katie: Interloper


I suspect there is another cat on my floor. I have to investigate this further, but mom agrees with my tentative assessment based on my tail puffing up to 2000 times it's normal size when I sniffed at the door during my morning run down the hallway. 

I must speak with the rental office about this. I'm fairly sure that they should get my approval before letting this happens. I mean, we could be overrun by dogs next.

My apologies for mom's backsliding on cooking. I am working on getting her back onto a baking/cooking schedule so she can keep up with her blog challenges. It does her a lot of good and keeps her from waking me up because I just look so cute. She's promised herself to be back in the Kitchen this weekend as she  found a very fun and yummy recipe (to her at least...I cannot find any fish in it whatsoever) over at Cathy's website, Accountants Can Cook, involving bacon and chocolate chips. She seems happy at the combo and has promised to bring some in next week to share with her coworkers. Although she calls it dumping. Something about weight and a waistline. Am still trying to figure this out. 

Purrs to All,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Could Life Get Any Better?

I've been fighting the office cold for about 4 days now. The usual annoyances...coughing up hairballs, not being able to breathe, sneezing so hard it's likely I'm going to spray half of Chicago. So after hearing me produce a few hairballs Wednesday, my boss told me in no uncertain terms that I was going home. Now.

On the way home, I stopped by the grocery store because I knew I was not going to be up to cooking and figured I'd make a tuna sandwich. Which, after seeing this, became a tuna BLT with the tuna, tomatoes, chopped lettuce and this...

My sister had told me about this some time back and I was greatly intrigued. In fact I got the other bacon lover in the office to try it based on her recommendations. But I had never gotten around to finding it in the grocery store. The story behind it is absolutely great. In a nutshell, two guys won some award money on America's Home Videos and used it to create this company because they loved bacon so much.

Like, who could argue with them right?

Surprisingly it's actually pretty good although as I am a bacon junkie I'm going to have a hard time finding much wrong with it. And I find it hilarious on the back of the jar it does say it is kosher. Yep, alas, no real bacon in there, but still pretty spot on regardless.And if that's not wonderful enough, they sell bacon flavored salt and get this...bacon flavored envelopes.

I am not making that up either. They're call "mmmmvelopes".

Here's to hoping I can bake some tomorrow. Even if it is to just making another BLT Tuna Sandwich.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cooking Italy: Pot Roast of Been Braised in Red Wine

I love a good pot roast.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make one anytime soon. I just seem to have a gift for ruining some meats. And I tried to hard to follow all the steps and actually use the ingredients as called for.

This goal was slightly complicated by the fact that somehow, I got distracted and flipped over a page and began cooking on page 385 instead of 383 which was causing massive confusion as I could not understand why I had carrots in my refrigerator and spices in my cupboard that I normally wouldn't have unless I'd bought them for a purpose.

So there I was, happily sauteeing bacon away (with the wrong burner turned on) while wondering why it wasn't cooking. Finally, after turning on the right burner and starting to brown the meat, I realized why I did have the carrots. Right ingredients. Wrong recipe. Cranky cook.

Apart from that, everything went well. I wasn't altogether thrilled with the way the pot roast turned out. I had thought it would be a lot more succulent or at least flavorful. To me, it just tasted like boiled meat. . Then again, I may have contributed to that as after 3 hours of basting and cooking, I was hungry and took it out anyway to eat so it might have benefitted from a little longer in the oven. I also used a red wine I already had and not the one the recipe suggested so maybe that might have made a difference.

Vegetable oil
4 pounds boneless beef roast, preferably chuck
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp onion chopped very fine
3 tbsp carrot chopped very fine
2 tbsp celery chopped very fine
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup of beef broth + 1/2 cup water combined
1 1/2 tbsp chopped plum tomatoes
Pinch dried thyme
1/8 tsp dried marjoran
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Coat skillet with vegetable oil and heat until hot. Place meat in skillet, brown on all sides, and remove meat to platter.

Place butter, vegetable oil, and onion in cooking pot (large enough to hold roast later with a tight fitting lid) and cook until onion is gold. Add carrot and celery and cook for 4-5 minutes. Place browned roast in pot.

Pour wine into original skillet and heat at medium high until wine bubbles briskly. Stir well to incorporated bits from the original browning. Pour over mixture in pot.

Add broth to pot. Liquid should come up 2/3 of the way to the side of the meat. If not, add extra broth or water. Add the remaining ingredients (tomato, marjoram, thyme, salt, pepper). Turn heat to high, cook until boiling and then cover pot and place in preheated oven.

Cook for approximately 3 hours, basting the meat or turning it every 20 minutes. Meat should be very tender. Remove roast to platter and let rest 10 minutes. Boil liquid down to approximately 2/3 cup. Slice roast and pout sauce over it. Serve immediately.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mondays with Katie: And She Wonders Why

So for the last two days I've taken to sleeping underneath the table by the front door. Mom of course is worrying that something is wrong.Pity she doesn't speak cat better as I'd be able to tell her that I'm just waiting for the vet to show up tomorrow.  Now  the poor human doesn't know that I know that the vet is coming to my house tomorrow. But not to worry, dear readers, I have it all planned out. As soon as the vet comes in, I'll make my escape down the hallway. All I have to figure out now is how to jump up high enough to press the elevator button.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

BB: Coconut Cupcakes

For our first February recipe over at the Barefoot Bloggers, we got to make Coconut Cupcakes! So thank you to Jaime over at Jaime's Green Kitchen for picking the recipe. And yes, I know I sound like a gleeful five year old, but coconut is one of those sublime moments in life for me. So I was pretty psyched about this recipe from the get go and it did not disappoint at all. Then again...folks..we're talking coconut. Difficult to not satisfy as long as you like the flavor. Enough said.

I did cut the recipe in half as I was faced with a condundrum. Two days off and a house full of cupcakes was not going to work out well. For my tastebuds, yes. For my weight, not so much. And since 5 eggs is difficult to split in half, I went ahead with 3 without any problems. I also added a splash of coconut milk which considering it was sweetened, made the cupcake just a little on the sweet side so I would probably cut back slightly on the regular sugar next time. I also did not bother with folding the coconut flakes into the batter and settled for just mixing it in with the flower and adding it gradually without any visible problems.

For the frosting, I skipped the extract and butter altogether and went with a lighter frosting made of cream cheese, powdered sugar and lime juice which made the perfect compliment to the cupcakes.

My only mixed feelings about the recipe was really the amount of butter called for in the ingredients. Even though I think butter is a delightful thing, there was a tremendous amount of it with 3 sticks in the cupcake portion of the recipe and another 3 sticks in the frosting.

Definitely recommend the recipe for those who are fans of cononut!

Coconut Cupcakes

1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All rights reserved

Prep Time:1 hr 0 min 
Inactive Prep Time:30 min
Cook Time:35 min
Serves:18 to 20 cupcakes


  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pretzel Chicken with Sweet & Sour Sauce


I've led a very sheltered and deprived life when it comes to working with frying chicken. Baked yes, Grilled, yes, anything that requires browning and light frying over the stove top was a big no no for me. Why I'm not sure. One of those cooking quirks I'm sure I picked up out of culinary fear. But when I saw this recipe by the very talented Joelen at What's Cooking, Chicago? I had a feeling I would have to get over it. And I am so glad I did. This had to have been the most tender chicken I've had in awhile and that's saying an awful lot as I have a tendency to overcook meat most of the time. 

I made a few minor changes to to the recipe but this genius for the simplicity and tastiness belongs to Joelen. If you haven't come across her website yet, you're missing out.  Here is her adapted recipe below. I was all set to make what was a yummy sounding very easy honey mustard sauce only to realize I didn't have honey in the house so I ended up going for convenience with a bottled sweet and sour sauce I had on hand. I also did not sprinkle the chicken with garlic but used a garlic infused olive oil instead. 

Perfection all around. Easy enough to make even for the frying impaired. 

Pretzel Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce
recipe inspired by That's My Home (Revision by Joelen at What's Cooking Chicago)
yields 4 servings

1 egg
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup crushed or processed pretzels*
oil for sauteing
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
salt and ground pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste

* The pretzels can actually be any hard pretzel - thin sticks, standard pretzel shapes, pretzel rods, etc. Place them in a food processor and process until you get the consistency of graham cracker crumbs. If you want more texture for your chicken coating, pulse the pretzels down to coarse crumbs instead.

In a shallow dish, whisk the egg with the 1 tablespoon of water.

In another shallow dish, place the flour.
In a shallow dish, place the crushed/processed pretzels.

Heat a skillet over medium low heat with the 1/4 olive oil.

While oil is heating, season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Dredge the seasoned chicken breast in flour and shake off excess. Dip the chicken breast in the egg wash and then press it into the crushed pretzels to cover all sides. When oil is hot, carefully place the crusted chicken breasts in the hot oil and fry until browned on both sides, about 5 -7 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken. Serve hot.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mondays With Katie: Please Leave a Message

I'll get back to you as soon as I get around to it. I have to try out this new scratching post thingy that mom bought me on Saturday.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cooking Italy: Sausages and Cream Sauce

This is a dangerous recipe.

Dangerously good I mean.

This weeks recipe is from my blogging friends over at Cooking Italy where we are cooking our way through Marcella Hazan's book "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking." And speaking as a former (and occasionally relapsing Chef Boyardee girl) this book will change the way you look at Italian food. Marcella's book covers all the regions of Italy which makes it a completely awesome all around comprehensive book for Italian Cooking.

Which of course does not stop me from buying more Italian cookbooks. But so far I haven't found one that I've actually cooked from lately.

The thing I like most about this recipe is how simple it is to put together. Boil up some Fusili pasta, assemble the sauce below and within about 20 minutes you have a totally yummy dinner. I would definitely make this one again. The only thing I might change would be to double the sauce as I like a generous serving of sauce with my pasta. Okay, so maybe I was a little too generous with tasting while I was cooking it too.

1/2 lb Sweet Sausage (containing no fennel, chili pepper or other strong seasonings)
1 1/2 tbsp chopped oinion
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Black Pepper
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pound pasta
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Skin the sausage and crumble (I found this to be much easier once it had started to cook).

Place onion, vegetable oil and butter in pan on medium heat and cook until the onion becomes a pale gold. Add sausage and cook for 10 minutes. Add pepper and cream, turn heat to medium high and cook until cream thickens. Toss sauce with cooked drained pasta and serve immediately with parmesan cheese on the side.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Mondays with Katie: Howdy Neighbor

I ask you, what is a cat to do with her human? I mean, she was late home. Almost 2 hours. Never mind the fact that she left the light on, left plenty of food and water. So as soon as she opened the door, I just knew that what she wanted and needed to do was to run down the hallway with me, meowing and yodeling all the way.

So there was the teensy problem of the neighbor down the hall who was slow to react when she said "Katie, NO" after she'd opened the door and I went running out. Now, I know what she meant. Which I know most of you are thinking that "Go back inside." Actually, as all cats know, it really means, "Go, Katie, Go."

Which I did. And he was slow to close the door so I made it almost to his door before he seemed to realize that he was inviting me inside and then closed the door. Very rude. I'm not happy about that. I may not say hello to him the next time I see him.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to share the computer chair with Mom for now.