Feeding The Beast: What Do You Cook When Stuff Goes Downhill?

So, yeah. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But the tough still have to eat, right? I think I may have mentioned this in a food-related post a while back, but learning to cook is not only a necessary life skill and quite the money-saving “hobby”, it’s also pretty therapeutic. Anyway, some stupidly lousy news hit earlier today and as I hadn’t yet thought of what to make for dinner, my brain went into emergency mode. Or, I decided to raid the fridge and one cabinet here and make something relatively fast because I tend to have a few gloomy to grumpy visitors when the Titanic goes into re-sink mode.

Anyway, my foraging (can you forage in your own apartment? I can!) found the following:

One 16 ounce package of #22 pasta shells
1 28 can of crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, or a jar of good quality pasta sauce (I flipped a coin and it was the sauce this time)
Half a container (about 4 ounces) of whipped cream cheese
About 1-1/2 cups of sliced white mushrooms
1 small block of part-skim mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
1 8 ounce package of shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese.

You’ll also need an 8 x 12 or 9 x 12 baking dish or some other appropriately sized oven safe pan and about an hour of time, give or take.

Under normal circumstances most of those ingredients above would end up in a freshly made pizza like the one to the right. Yeah, I made that too a while back. (sings) I like thick crusts and I cannot lie!

But I was out of yeast and making a crust from scratch would have taken too long, anyway.

Speaking of anyway… Continue reading

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What’s Cookin’: Greens, Eggs, and Ham? Make Them Yourself, Man!

2016-05-20-183833Hmm. Memo to the loud guy I passed on the way home yelling about the (and I quote) “bitch who won’t make me eggs after noon”: Ugh. Learn to cook, you ignorant jerk and make your own damn eggs ANY TIME YOU WANT. Keep it up with that overly cranky attitude and those aren’t the only eggs you’ll never have anything to do with ever again.

That, and it’s no joke to get hit upside the head with a cast iron fry pan while one is snoozing. Anyway, let me be nice and give you a recipe you can learn and perfect, provided you’re not un-jamming a pan from your gaping maw: Continue reading

What’s Cookin’? Pizza for Practice Purposes Pleases People

a pizza

Just mushrooms and cheese on top of my non-patented “special” sauce. This got five more minutes in the oven, but eaten before I got to taking the updated photo. Darn guests, and their impatience to be poisoned!

 

Yep. I’ve been a bit too busy these days with a few things, but a guy’s gotta eat, right? In an attempt to save money, I’ve taken up part-time pizza making just for fun and to feed the occasional friend who drops by when I’m conducting my horrific experiments. In previous attempts, I’d used a few dough recipes “borrowed” off the internet, but my one major issue with all of them is my kitchen isn’t made for pizza (or any) dough manufacturing.

Between the moving around of stuff to make a work space, my big old ceramic bowl breaking (I’m on the hunt for a proper replacement), pre and post-crust cleanup, and not enough freezer space for a month’s worth of dough, it was a pain in the neck to spend more time making dough than making edible results with said dough. While poking around for pre-made options, it’s been a circus of lousy ingredient reads and stuff that’s too complex for its own good on the “easy” prep front. Continue reading

What’s Cookin’? Did Someone Order The Psycho Peppers?

Psycho Peppers 1Thanks to the fine folks at Lingham’s Hot Sauce (or Lingham’s Chilli Sauce if you’re reading this from anywhere where it has that original name, I’ve got a few bottles of their extremely tasty goods to try out in a few recipes. This one’s too easy to whip up and in fact is a variation on a pizza pepper recipe I do ever so often.

As fir the name “Psycho Peppers”…  yeah, well.  I had to name them something catchy and that moniker popped into my head after I mixed a bit of Lingham’s SriRacha (smoky and spicy!) and Extra Hot (yes, it is!) together to see how they’d taste and proceeded to dip one of the hot chili peppers on the right of the pic to test the results out with. PROTIP: Keep some cold milk, yogurt or ice cream handy if you do this taste test thing.

Hokay, there’s really not much to this, so calling it a “recipe” is a bit of a stretch. Still, there are photos below the jump and some basic (overwritten) “how to” scribbling if you can’t figure out what to do with those ingredients above.

Continue reading

What’s Cookin’? “Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch…”

it's what's for dinner (1) (Custom)Fun Fact: I am not at all a fan of ranch dressing, but for some reason people keep giving me bottles of the stuff. I somehow ended up with six unopened bottles over the space of two months this year thanks to friends buying it for parties and almost no one touching it. At least it was organic ranch dressing of a certain brand that seemed to not have a ton of terrible stuff inside those bottles.

That said, what does one DO with all those bottles of something one doesn’t consume? I thought of putting them in a box and placing said box downstairs by the mailbox with the word FREE! written on it. That’s always good for some amusement. Not too long ago another neighbor in the building left out a box of assorted books and DVD’s and there were a few people circling that box like wary stray dogs surprised by someone putting out free food before they jumped in and took most of the good stuff. The only things left were a Jean Claude Van Damme flick I’d never heard about, some sticker books (Ed Hopper and Talouse-Latrec), and a couple of comedy books I nabbed after the dust settled.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right:

(thanks, prestoff2000!) 

Well, that FREE box of dressing was the plan until my brain sifted in “free range” with “free ranch” and I thought of doing something with chicken and some or all of that ranch dressing. “Like what?” you ask? Well, I may have taken a whole roasting chicken that I’d had in in a simple salt water brine for about 12 hours (because I’m crazy like that), drained that chicken, placed it in a gallon-size zip-top bag, added a bit of salt-free rub and poured about a cup of that dressing into that bag before sealing the bag and letting it sit for a few more hours in the fridge. Once that part was done, I may have peeled and sliced a few potatoes and placed them in the bottom of a glass baking dish on top of some foil, placed that ranchy chicken upside down atop those potatoes and popped that dish into a preheated 375 degree oven until I needed to flip the bird over and let it get nice and done.

Yeah, they call me the wrecking ball (er, in the kitchen, at least)…

it's what's for dinner (2) (Custom) it's what's for dinner (4) (Custom)

 

I could have also sauteed some broccoli with sliced garlic and onions with a bit of red pepper flake in some olive oil and other stuff and served all that with plain ol’ white rice on the side because it takes the least time to make and my rice cooker is old but still works perfectly. Or maybe I didn’t because while that chicken turned out really tasty, I still don’t like ranch dressing. Well, on my salads at least. Oh, and I think some of those potatoes got diced into smaller bits and used in something eggy the next day. But that’s another tale for another time.

Tuesday’s Off: Something Hot And Cheesy Today

not so hot tuesday (1)
 

More not so hot pepper action today while I recuperatecooked. Those sunny windows here come in handy for growing stuff and I like the size variations from the two plants producing these peppers. As with the last few I kept the simple recipe used: chop off the tops, remove the seeds and save them (More peppers? Sure!), add a filling of choice (crushed garlic and some spinach topped with mozzarella cheese) and bake for about 10 minutes or so in a preheated 350 degree oven.

light lunch of sorts cooked you just got seved

 

Or something like that. I’ll try something different with the next few peppers as I’ve a few ideas floating in my head, a fresh bottle of vinegar and a ton of garlic and other stuff lying around of late.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Stuff Stuff.

stuffed cabbage round two 002 (Large)
 

“My hobby is stuffing things. You know, taxidermy. And I guess I’d just rather stuff birds because I hate the look of beasts when they’re stuffed…”

(You Know Who as You Know Who from You Know What, You Know When)

stuffing thingsOkay, so it’s not perfectly rolled golabki at all (and YES, I added a bit to a lot more pureed tomato before popping both dishes in the oven). But that what I do when my brain is boiling over at stupid stuff others do. I cook something to relax or pretend I’m cooking my problem to relax or something. Nope, I’m not going to eat all that stuffed cabbage. Some will go to mother dear and I’ll probably freeze the rest. Given that it’s only the second time I’m making this dish (using bits of a few online recipes just to mix things up) I think it’ll turn out as well as the first time or even better. Results will appear in about an hour and a half or so. Maybe I’ll put up a second post… but don’t bet on it. I have a few fish to fry before the evening is over (and I’m not talking about actual fish).

Um, anyone else want to come over for dinner? Sixteen pieces of stuffed cabbage can serve about four more hungry folks and I put some potato slices in both dishes just because I had two spuds left and they do go well with cabbage…

stuffed cabbage round two 003 (Large)

File This Faux Foodie Kickstarter Under “Now I’ve Seen Everything…”

Potato Salad FundHey, I just LOVE a great potato salad, folks, but this made me laugh a lot and cringe a little. Yes, you can actually throw some money at this Kickstarter if you like, but I’d be curious as to why you did and not send it to me instead because I don’t tell people I’m making potato salad when I do make it and I don’t ask for any cash to make it. Of course, I could just be annoyed that I didn’t think of this first AND because i haven’t made potato salad for a while. Hmmm… well, I do make a decent mushroom noodle soup with baby bok choy and other fun stuff in it. So maybe I’ll steal this idea at some point and see what happens. I need some creative ways to make money legally anyway, as times are bumpy around these parts. Still, I did make some money from a few freelance gigs, so I can get back to the process of getting a bunch of paperwork processed and some somewhat important stuff I need to take care of taken care of.

Hmmm… now I want some potato salad. But I’ll save that for after I get this other stuff taken care of…

Cool Stuff For The Masses: Grow Your Own Mushrooms!

Hey, everyone needs a hobby, right? I have a bit of a green thumb (sometimes), but one thing I’ve never tried was growing my own mushrooms. Of course, living in a NYC apartment, I’m not exactly sure how to get started, but my experiments with a few pepper plants are doing well so far. Granted, I’ve been too busy and yes, lazy to look up the hows and whys and mushroom varieties, but thanks to the fine folks at Back to the Roots, it looks as if I can knock one more thing off my bucket list.

The Oakland-based company has whipped up a really cool Urban Mushroom kit that will let you grow up to 1.5 pounds of tasty oyster mushrooms in a short amount of time. All you need is a sunny window, a spritz of water a day (and a mushroom kit, of course) and soon, you’ll be harvesting and saving money on store bought mushroom of indeterminate age. The cool and weird thing here… the growing medium in recycled coffee grounds! For a mere $19.95 (plus shipping, but buy TWO kits and shipping is FREE), you can either grow these yourself or give someone quite a unique gift. Guess I’ll go order a kit and keep you posted on what happens. Hmmmm… I wonder if these guys have Enoki or a few other varieties?