Happy Monday, Dear Readers!
Our weather warmed up and has cooled a bit, with another cold front coming. We don’t think it’s going to be a hard freeze, just cold. Whatever. My joints are snapping, crackling and popping all over the place. Knees, toes, ankles and occasionally, my elbows or wrists. Just a light snap. Might be because I have been seated a lot, I don’t know. My Dad taught us to do the knuckle cracking when we were kids. . .I just took the ball and ran with it.
Oh, that cat is looking at me funny again.
The other day I was in Kroger and found some cross-cut beef shanks on sale. They were cheap, so I bought them and froze them. I defrosted them, added them to a crock pot with a jar of fire-roasted bell peppers and some sliced onions today. That was it, and it cooked on low until about 6:00 pm. It fell apart when it was done–delicious. Maybe I need to do a blog post on crock pot cooking or “cheap meat.” Let me think about it.
Well, the official garden of HeatCageKitchen is doing great! I’ve got one small tomato still hanging on, mint, rosemary, green onions and garlic growing like weeds, a Meyer lemon plant that’s about to bloom with a million flowers, several sprouts of lettuce that were doing great until a hungry snail found its way in (ate ALL the shoots, you hear me?) and one. . .radish. No kidding, I think there might be two growing, but so far, only one radish for sure. Oh, well. Maybe next winter. I need to start thinking about basil, tomatoes, and other summer crops in a paint bucket.
Remember a couple of weeks ago, my neighbor made a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, and we ate half of it ourselves? Well, yesterday I made the Babycakes version of Pineapple Upside-Down cake, and shared it with K and the other two neighbors. (The recipe is in their second book, Babycakes Covers the Classics, on page 116.)
This was in no way a competition to see who could bake better. This was strictly to use up a pineapple that I’d bought and I thought was ripe enough to cut. It wasn’t, not just yet. But it was good. And I tossed out the top, I don’t want any more monster plants.
I was just thinking yesterday morning about K’s cake and how good it was, and wondered if there was a version in that book. Sure enough–so I checked the pantry and fridge for ingredients. Check. I had already decided to give K, R and T a slice, and then. . .there would some cake left for me, but not the WHOLE cake. And so it went.
I also decided to use Somersweet for the little amount of sugar required, and it worked like a charm. The cake itself is sweetened with agave syrup, but the caramelized top/bottom needs the sugar.
Now, let’s backtrack a bit–this is what the Babycakes version looks like in the book:
Nevermind the tea bags. I expected my cake to look a bit like this.
Much as I enjoy these recipes, I’d never thought to try this one before, so I had no idea how it would turn out. I didn’t think to take pictures while mixing it, but really, the principle was the same as K’s. First, you line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease it with a bit of coconut oil. then mix a quarter cup of sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, then sprinkle that on the bottom of the pan, in the lining, of course. Of those pineapple slices, you sort of fit them on top of that, however you like. I made sure to take the tough, fibrous centers out before I put them into the pan.
I’m sorry, I’m trying to scan the recipe for you, but my scanner isn’t cooperating.
Now, it does have quite a few ingredients, but lucky me, I had everything I needed, except for one thing, for which I used coconut flour. I think it was rice flour. Well, anyway, after you take care of the first layer, you mix all the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix until smooth, and pour that batter over the first layer:
I trimmed all that parchment paper down to the perimeter, and stashed it in the toaster oven at 325F. It baked exactly as the directions instructed, 20 minutes, turn, 20 more minutes, and that was it. Looks good:
Here’s where it gets fussy–let it cool for 30 minutes IN THE PAN, then turn it out onto a plate.
Now, besides the ingredient listing, here’s where it differs from K’s original cake (which we ate half of right out of the oven.) This cake is not only thicker, as you’ll see, but it’s also. . .drier. No kidding, it’s not the moist cake K made. That’s not to say it’s not as good, but it is definitely different than K’s. I think this may be more like what you might imagine when someone says “pineapple upside-down cake.” It’s not as moist, and not as sweet as K’s–hers had more butter than this one has coconut oil.
But when you absolutely can’t have wheat, and you get sick from it, this is definitely lookin’ good to you, right?
Take a look at what happened when I cut the first slice:
I did want to make sure it was suitable to pass along to friends, and it was. I did warn them that it was not like K’s cake (yes, including K), and that it was drier and not as sweet.
At press time, K had not yet tried the cake, and I haven’t asked the other two yet.
So I have three more slices to enjoy, since I had one today after lunch and one when it came out of the oven.
This also goes to prove the old adage that there’s more than one way to. . .do something. I’m not saying that other adage, OK?
I’m busy for the next couple of days, but will try to pop back in later this week.
Evening, Dear Readers:
Yesterday was my first trip back downtown since my last job ended on January 31. Because of one of our recent “freeze days,” (for which I had to drive to work and spend $13 to park) I had $9 left on my Metro Q-Card, so bus fare was covered. I have $2.50 left on it, so if I find myself going back, I’ve got to load more money on it. But not much.
I came home and eventually took a 4-hour nap, a task I repeated today after a fruitless trip into town to meet with an “agency.” I was that tired after going downtown and walking that much through the Tunnel again.
When I walked out of that office for the last time, the only thought crossing my mind was “Never Again.” OK, so another huge company called me and wanted me to go see them (and I’ve since had another call from a very large oil company, too.) I found my way through the Tunnel–a lot farther than my former office–and I made it early. I did plenty of walking, and found some new stuff, too, including another (smaller) Seattle’s Best and, finally, the Houston Shoe Hospital that I could have gone to instead of procrastinating and going to the one on NASA Road 1.
When I was working, I put plenty of money on the Starbucks card, primarily so that I could, when the time came, stop for a coffee or a bite to eat and not mess with the “house money.” Just $10 on occasion, and I think the last amount was $15. Yesterday was such an occasion. (Today I stopped nowhere, and came straight home.) Remember that you also get points, discounts and freebies when you have that registered card. If you have the Starbucks app on your phone, it’s even easier to keep track of everything and get the messages about free things and discounts.
There was no Starbucks around this building that I could find, but there was a nice little deli in the last part of the tunnel. In fact, the HR chick I was talking with said she’d seen people with the Starbucks cups but had no idea where they were getting them.
About 30 minutes before the interview, I was down there with a bottle of water and this neat little snack:
This was pretty good, although I had to wash it down with a good amount of water and nibble quite a few mints before I went in my interview so I didn’t have bad breath. (I love mints.) When it was full, it was raisins, almonds, cashews, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. No salt, unfortunately, so I guess that’s part of the “diet” thing, but overall pretty tasty. (I didn’t think to take a picture of it full; it did have only peanut oil, thank heavens.) There were many different varieties of these snack cups, but this was the healthiest I found in my quick scan of the shelf.
When the interview was over, I had some time before the next bus showed up (about an hour) so I headed back through the Tunnel to the JP Morgan Chase Building. I knew that Starbucks was a bit out of the way and likely less crowded. I ordered a decaf, but didn’t realize they had some good lunch! I was thinking that I’d get some of that yogurt/fruit stuff, but not with the granola on top.
Look what I found:
Here’s a better look at what’s in there:
You know what? It was a pretty good salad. No croutons or other “bready” things in it like many salads have. At that point I didn’t want coffee anymore, but they’d already poured it so I paid for and drank it on the walk out of the tunnel and up to the bus stop.
While it wasn’t advertised as such, it is. . .gluten free. Woo hoo! Companies are getting the messages about what consumers want, and they are responding in kind. For all the insults levied at Starbucks, I have to say they do get what their customers are asking for. No gluten-free baked goods yet, but last I heard, they were working on it.
That’s capitalism, folks. That’s America.
You can see full information on this item on Starbucks’ website. A teeny bit of soy here and there, but not enough to bother me, thank heavens.
I may be going back downtown in the next couple of weeks to meet with that oil company, and I’ll let you know what I find there. Might make another trip to Phoenicia downtown on the free Greenlink bus line if the weather’s good–complete with a full report.
Wherever I go, if there is a Starbucks with that salad in their case, I know I can have something healthy and gluten free.
Good evening, Dear Readers:
Just dropping in to say Hi, and to tell you about a recipe I tried this evening, FINALLY.
The weather here is warm, but will chill down later in the week. The AC is still on, but because it cools off a bit at night, I have to keep turning it UP. Oh, well.
I spent ALL of today taking online technical exams for two upcoming job interviews. Long and tedious, but that’s OK, I had a couple of other things going on at the same time. The first was OK, but the second involved proofreading. Now for a writer, this is usually no big deal. But the whole proofreading section was foodie based: restaurant menus and tabs, vegetable purchase receipts, that sort of thing. The worst part was reading and proofing the various descriptions of a fictitious vegetarian restaurant called “Garden Greens.” It read like a badly written romance novel–irritating to read, and then I had to proofread and find the errors. You talk about a headache; no wonder I’m so tired!
Tomorrow I head downtown for an interview for this company, and then I head to the Galleria area on Thursday to meet with one of so many job shops I hear from. They’re also known as temp agencies and headhunters. Mostly they just waste my time, but one of the jobs they have is for a copywriter, for which I am quite qualified. So, we’ll see, and maybe a stop for a coffee at Central Market on the way home.
One in a million is what sent me to my last job, and to the job at Boeing where I hung out with the finest IT people in the world for 8 years. Oh, well. . . .
I have a habit of printing off recipes and getting around to trying them “one day.” Of particular interest are healthier versions of popular things, and chocolate, as you might imagine, is tops. One of the most popular recipes floating around online is the infamous “microwave cake in a cup.” There are many variations, and for us gluten-free/yeast-free folk, this is a bonus opportunity.
Dr. Steven Hotze, who I frequently refer to as “The God of the Hormones,” is big on healthy and yeast free eating, for obvious reasons. Physician’s Preference, his on-site vitamin store, publishes recipes on their blog all the time. This one, being chocolate, I printed and have moved around for over a year.
Tonight, I finally made this Microwaveable Chocolate Cake, and I have to say I am quite impressed. It worked!! Makes two, and I did, but only ate one. Honest!
Instead of Sweet N’ Natural, I did use SomerSweet, my favorite natural sweetener. Glad I bought a case a few months ago. Wish I’d bought more, but I only have so much room in the pantry.
I wrapped the first one in the wax paper, and I should not have done that. But that’s OK, it came out just fine, even if it doesn’t look like the one on P/P’s website. The second one just had wax paper on top. YUM. I don’t know how big those ramekins are, but that’s OK. Use what you have, right?
Mind you, it would have been perfect for Valentine’s Day, too. DUH.
Oh, and that potholder I made from a book called Pretty Little Potholders. Made two of them. Used up some fabric scraps, that’s for sure. Haven’t made any more; they don’t really insulate your hands that well, so I’ll figure out another method for the next batch I make that actually keep your hands from burning, probably doubling the batting recommended.
Happy Sunday, Dear Readers!
If you’re in Houston, or in the New Orleans area, you’ve probably got your air conditioner back on. I had jeans on earlier and put shorts on when I got home from Kroger. DUH. It’s our OCD weather. Here in Houston, we’ll have chances of rain and another cooling front next week. Will it freeze? Not according to what I saw, but who knows? Sometimes, not even the National Weather Service does, so we just wait and see. They do their best, but you know the old saying, “Man plans, God laughs.” Mother Nature’s like that, too.
If you’re in an area where it’s still freezin’ cold, I’ve got a recipe for you today. Takes a little while, but worth it. Keep reading. VERY delicious, and perfect for cold days.
So, did you OD on chocolate for Valentine’s Day? Did you get your honey a little something nice, or make a great meal? (You didn’t get a “payday loan” to get it, did you?) I had some hot chocolate, and yesterday, I finally made some yeast-free brownies . I just wanted some, that’s all. I went to Kroger today and didn’t even bother with my usual Sunday treat, a dark chocolate Mounds candy bar–the coconut pieces drenched in chocolate.
Oh, and SOOOOO much red stuff on sale today–candy, stuffed animals, cutesy things, you name it. I saw floral arrangements of every kind with markdown stickers on them. However, I’m not sure why they were trying to sell arrangements with dead flowers in them. Maybe they were just too busy to get rid of them. Unless there’s a market for dead flowers I’m not aware of.
There’s a whole lot of this modern world I’m not aware of. I started to realize this point many years ago when I went out with a guy to a downtown club one night and he asked me point blank after a glass of wine and his second beer if I had any tattoos anywhere. EEEWWWWW!!! I thought he was thoroughly nuts to ask me that, but later I realized young women started getting tattoos, usually hidden at that time. Not me!! (And yes, he is thoroughly nuts.) I was told a couple of years later that I should “get over” my aversion to tattoos. Yeah. No, I still don’t have any. Just a number of scars from different injuries (oops!)
Anyway. . . .
Hey, get a load of this weird lime I cut today:
Wonder if I can capitalize on it. Nevermind, I already squeezed into a glass of water.
So a couple of weeks ago, neighbor K gave me a pack of chicken tenders, that, quite frankly, don’t fit in the freezer. This was my main motivation for wanting to make Chicken Chili from Barefoot Contessa Parties, but also since I hadn’t had it in a long time. And through a series of events, I finally got the stuff made.
Last time I made this dish I ended up fobbing some off to both neighbor K and neighbor R, because it made SUCH a huge amount. This time, by default, I halved it. I wrote down TWO of each color of the bell peppers, not four, but bought four cans of the tomatoes. Oh, and the tomatoes had basil already in it, but of course I didn’t realize this point and bought basil anyway. More on that later.
K’s packet of chicken tenders yielded 11 pieces, and the recipe calls for 4 chicken breasts. I guess it’s about the same. Rubbed them with some olive oil and sprinkled on some salt/pepper/garlic powder seasoning and roasted them in about 20 minutes or so. While that cooled, I was workin’ the stove.
The recipe starts out with a LOT of chopped onion. If anyone I had called while I was doing this, they would have thought I was crying. I used up some golf-ball sized onions from the fridge that another neighbor gave me from his brother’s garden. Then I went to the soft-ball sized onions. That big food processor got USED today.
So you cook the onions for about 15 minutes, then add the minced garlic. Then the huge pile of chopped bell peppers.
You know how when you are in your own kitchen alone, you can lick the beaters? Well, this is the same principle–when I work with big peppers like this one, I slice the tops off first to get the center and seeds out (like the one on the far left) and that sliced off top is MINE. Do NOT touch my tops. I have to make sure that the pepper tastes right, and darnit, it’s the cook;s privilege. So don’t mess with it. . .or else.
Incidentally, that green cutting board with the hole in it is a new thing, and I got one right after Christmas when I was in The Woodlands. I think the pictures from that day have been lost (don’t ask) but I sure did enjoy using this cutting board and have tossed out a couple that were long overdue to be discarded.
The Zeal Non-Slip Board To Pan Cutting Board is big, a little heavy, has some rubber along the bottom, and a hole in one corner. An unusual design from Britain, it allows you to cut to your heart’s content and then dump everything into a bowl, pot, or whatever. I thought it was a bit odd when I saw it, but it was on sale (of course) and I got one. I love this cutting board! Just don’t tip stuff the wrong way, and you’ll be fine, right?
Anyway. . .
Then the two cans of tomatoes, buzzed through a food processor once or twice, and added to the pan to cook.
Can you see the crime scene starting in my kitchen?
Don’t worry, I wiped it up right after I took the picture.
So you cook this tomato-laden pot for about 30 minutes, and the peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and basil melt together and get sweet. The chicken should be cool enough to handle by now (even if you used bone-in breast pieces), so it’s chopped into 3/4 inch pieces.
The chopped chicken is then dumped into the pot, and cooked for 20 more minutes.
The original recipe makes 12 servings, but the one I linked to halves that recipe to 6 servings. But, go figure, it made seven servings, and now I can enjoy this delicious recipe until next Saturday.
Now, I didn’t realize I didn’t need the basil, and it’s a too much trouble to bring it back to Kroger, so I did the next best thing.
Think I’ve got enough for pesto?
Well, I made some. Had everything on hand, whizzed it up in the blender, and it’s packed and stashed in the freezer.
If the cops ever investigate my freezer, they’ll be asking about all that pesto. But–what could be wrong with pesto? I’m not losing any sleep over it. Long as I have peas in the freezer, I’ll be having Pea & Pesto Soup. A lot.
The dishwasher is finished, the trash has been taken out, and I need to wrap it up soon.
If you’re cold, stay warm. If you’re warm, stay cool. And have something good to eat.
Here’s a re-blog from GF And Me, a blog dedicated to gluten-free foods with some gorgeous chocolate treats for Valentine’s Day, and probably better than mine.
Happy Valentine’s Day!