Melissa's Table

Experiments with Pinterest recipes!

Melissa’s Table Original: Ice Cream Cake September 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — MelGag @ 6:59 pm
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I’m going to do something a little different today, and post a semi-original recipe.

Tuesday 09/11 was my husband’s 28th birthday. He asked that I not get him a gift because he was holding out for the new iPhone 5. We have a system of upgrade in our household. He got the iPhone 3, I got the 3gs. He got the iPhone 4, I got the 4s. He’ll get the iPhone 5, I’ll get the iPhone 5xkg or whatever letter combination Apple uses. So in lieu of a present, I baked him a cake. But not just any cake, an ice cream cake!

I call this a “semi” original because I modified three different recipes to make it.

  1. The Ice Cream Cake Recipe – I used this recipe to build the cake, but I made a few changes because my husband hates chocolate, and I wanted to make the cake and icing from scratch.
  2. David’s Yellow Cake Recipe – I chose this recipe for the cake part of the cake and halved all of the ingredients.
  3. Quick Almost Professional Buttercream Icing – And I went with this recipe for the icing and doubled the ingredients.
I made yellow cake and buttercream icing because my husband doesn’t like chocolate. If you want chocolate, you can always modify my modified recipe. The only thing I didn’t make myself was the ice cream. Yeah, I just wasn’t going there. Here is my recipe (melded from those above) for Melissa’s Semi-Original Semi-Homemade Ice Cream Cake.
To read the full post, please visit Melissa’s Table at our new home.
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Baked Hard “Boiled” Eggs September 3, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Cooking,Eating,Food,Recipe,Review,Uncategorized — MelGag @ 7:33 pm
Tags: , , , ,

(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

It’s difficult to know what to title this post. The pin didn’t have a title. When you say “hard boiled eggs” people know exactly what you’re talking about. You drop a shelled egg into boiling water until it’s cooked. Then you peel and eat. Yumm! In this case, “boiled” is entirely inaccurate seeing as I didn’t boil anything. I baked, but if I say baked eggs it loses the descriptiveness. So, for today’s post, my title will have to be slightly wrong to be sort of right. Or something like that.

The Pin: Baked Hard “Boiled” Eggs by imgfave

Difficulty: 2 (1 = Easy, 10 = Hard!)

I’m just going to go ahead and post the picture directly from this dude’s website.

They look so pretty.

And that’s all (s)he wrote. Literally. That’s all there is on the site about this “recipe.” We like eggs in our house and hard boiled eggs are great to have in the fridge. I’m all for eggs that are “tastier” and “easier to peel” so let’s bake some eggs!

Just about to go into the oven.

I baked them for the full 30 minutes because I’ve been told my oven is not super hot. 30 minutes later…

Well that doesn’t look like the picture!

This is the second time I’ve tried this recipe and both times my eggs have come out covered in brown spots. Since there is no information on the recipe’s site about this phenomena, I was uncertain what was wrong. Is it rust from the pan? Is there gunk dripping from the roof of my oven? Neither! After a few minutes of Googling I found out those brown spots are normal. Thanks Alton Brown (courtesy of Greetings From the Asylum) for clearing that up. Their page has a slightly modified approach to this recipe where you place the eggs into ice water immediately after they come out of the oven. Since this wasn’t part of the pin (and I didn’t read it until my eggs had been cooling for at least 10 minutes), I didn’t do this. Possibly because of this my eggs were slightly overdone. The yolks were a little dry. Next time I would either bake the eggs for the minimum suggested time (25 minutes) or cook them for full 30 minutes then put them straight into ice water.

This second website says, “Baked eggs are better because they are less sulfurous (smelly) and the texture of the finished eggs is creamier.” The pin says they are “easier to peel.” Are they right? Were the baked eggs better?

Mostly, yes. Let’s break it down.

  • Smell: The baked eggs didn’t smell as … well, eggy as their boiled counterparts. Sometimes I find boiled eggs stinky. The baked version wasn’t stinky at all.
  • Peelability: So far, I’ve found that all of the baked eggs are easier to peel. My husband said he found a difficult one, but I’ve yet to encounter a tough shell.
  • Texture/Taste: When I tasted the first batch I made a couple of weeks ago, I thought they had a slightly better texture and flavor baked than boiled, but with this latest batch I didn’t notice a difference. It’s possible they only tasted better because I was expecting them to. I’m not sure. Still, they were good, and I’ll probably continue to cook them this way.

Final Rating: 5.5123479827394712347982734 (1 = Egg, 10 = Egg)

It’s hard to rate an egg. I mean, it’s a hard “boiled” egg. You either like them or you don’t. Now go bake an egg!

 

Keep-It-Tight (Ugh!) Tilapia August 24, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Eating,Fish,Food,Pinterest,Uncategorized — MelGag @ 1:58 pm

(Read this post at its new home here.)

On a whim, I bought a couple of tilapia fillets at the commissary a couple of weeks ago, and they’ve been sitting in my freezer ever since. I love fish, but I don’t buy it terribly often. This is partly because it’s more expensive than other meats (yeah, I mean chicken), but mostly because I’m not very good at cooking it. I never seem to get it quite right. I fail at seasoning, and I’m never sure how to tell when it’s done cooking. But since I bought the damn fish, I decided to find a recipe and cook it. I didn’t have any tilapia recipes pinned, so I did a search for “tilapia.” This was the first recipe that came up. It looked pretty and seemed simple, so we cook!

The Pin: Keep-It-Tight Tilapia by Eat Clean Diet

Difficulty: 3 (1 = Super Easy, 10 = Too Hard)

Let me start off by saying I seriously hate the name of this recipe. “Keep-it-tight”? Really? Had I bothered to look at the name at the time of pinning, I might have skipped this one all together, but the text under the picture on Pinterest just says “tilapia.” I was so enamored of the picture on Eat Clean Diet’s site that I didn’t catch the name until after I’d cooked and eaten it.

FISH!

There are many spices in this recipe but (AMG!) no salt. I ought to have known something was amiss by the website’s name, Eat Clean Diet, but I didn’t. (I need to learn to pay attention to stuff, don’t I? Shame on me!) In fact, I didn’t notice until was was gathering the ingredients for this picture. I probably would have chosen a different pin if I’d known, but this recipe seemed simple and best of all, I had all the ingredients in my house! It was too late to turn back, and though I enjoy salt, I decided to be true to the recipe and make it salt-free.

The Seasoning

I minced my garlic and put it and my seasoning into the oil. It’s a very strange looking concoction. The instructions advise you to “dip each filet into the seasoning” and place it in the pan. I used the recommended amount of everything (oil, spices, etc), but I wasn’t able to dip very well. There wasn’t enough liquid to cover the fish. I wound up pouring the mixture onto the fish which you’re instructed to do before cooking anyway.

About to go into the oven.

I was supposed to line my pan with parchment paper. Well, I didn’t have parchment paper, I and really didn’t want make a trip to the store for one thing. So I skipped the parchment paper (Sorry guys. I have failed you all. I know.) and baked my tilapia for 10 minutes on 400.

Left: Mine – Right: Eat Clean Diet

Mine didn’t look as pretty as the recipe’s photo, but then, my pictures rarely do. For having no salt, it was good. Not wonderful, but still good. It had decent flavor with just a little kick of heat. I liked it enough to eat about half of my fillet before adding salt. So much for eating clean! My husband agreed it was good. He ate all of his salt-free. The recipe’s picture looks fresh and inviting, but mine came out heavy and a bit too oily. Perhaps if I’d used parchment paper it would have soaked up the oil. Honestly, I’ve never used parchment paper (mostly because whenever I look for it, I can’t find it), so really have no idea if it would make a difference. Still, a decent dish if you’re trying to “eat clean” or just cut back on salt.

Final Rating: 5.5 (1 = Bad, 10 = Awesome)

 

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup August 21, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

If you frequent my home page, you’ll know that I had an ear issue this past week. Let’s just say I haven’t had my ears professionally cleaned in 32 years. Happily, this is mostly resolved because earaches are not good times! But, just as my ears were clearing, my husband came down with a tummy bug. He’s better now, and so far my son and I haven’t caught it. (Fingers crossed!) While he was sick, the only thing he wanted to eat was soup, so, being the kind and loving wife I am, I went out twice the first day and bought him Chicken Noodle Soup. On my second outting, I realized we were wasting money. I could make soup just as tasty and healthier to boot. And so I did.

The Pin: Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup by The Quilt Ladies (via Creatively Domestic)

Difficulty: 3 (1 = Easy, 10 = Really Hard)

There are actually two versions of the recipe on this page. I went with the crockpot version because it seemed easier, and I’m all for simplicity when I cook.

Yup, looks like soup to me!

This recipe calls for “one 15 oz can of whole kernel corn, drained.” While I tend to stay true to the recipes I use for this blog, I deviated a bit when it came to the corn. My husband and I love fresh corn on the cob, but neither he nor I particularly enjoy corn when it’s cooked into things. So I left it out. Feel free to put corn in your soup. I’ll allow it.

I gathered the ingredients together and prepped my veggies the night before.

I don’t normally take many pictures during prep, but this looked kind of pretty.

I eyeballed the measurements when chopping, so this is probably slightly more than half a cup of each. The plan was to throw everything into the crockpot when my son got me up at the butt-crack of dawn the following morning. And he did. He woke me up around 6 a.m., so I started crocking around 6:30. The instructions are short and sweet, “Add everything but the noodles and cooked chicken to the crock pot on Low for 5-6 hours, the last hour turn on High, and add noodles and chicken.” Simple right? Perhaps too simple for me. The only seasonings are salt and pepper. I really had to restrain myself from putting in garlic or onion powder or basil or… I think you get the point.

For the chicken, the recipe calls for “2 cups cooked chicken chopped or 2 cans canned cooked chicken.” I try to avoid canned food in general, plus canned chicken is kind of gross. I could have bought a rotisserie chicken, but I opted to cook my own. Since there are no chicken cooking instructions, I made up my own. I baked six boneless skinless thighs for about 45ish minutes on 300. I wanted them almost done, so they wouldn’t overcook in the crockpot.

Seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and basil.

Around 11:00 I added the cooked, diced chicken and the egg noodles into the crock pot and turned it up to high. At this point I also added an extra cup of chicken broth (I used six cups total instead of the recommended five) because I was worried the noodles would soak up all the the liquid. This happened to me on my last crock pot soup adventure. That batch of lentil soup came out more like soggy mush than soup. Anyhoo, an hour later, I had soup!

Left: Mine – Right: The Quilted Ladies

It was really good though I suppose it would be difficult to make bad chicken noodle soup. It was exactly what my husband’s crampy upset stomach needed. I’m glad now that I restrained myself and didn’t add any extra seasoning because the flavor of the broth was perfect. The green onions and the white onions along with a bit of salt and pepper gave it the perfect flavor. The vegetables were soft, but not mushy. Next time I cook this I would add more carrots and celery. We like a lot of veggies in our soup. My husband felt the chicken was a little bland. Either I didn’t season it well enough when I baked it, or the seasoning came off in the broth. Either way, this is probably my fault, not the recipes. Still, this wasn’t overly noticeable since the broth was so flavorful. The only real issue was that the egg noodles were slightly mushy. I don’t think they needed the full hour on high in the crock pot. I would say put the chicken in for the last hour and the noodles in for maybe the last 30 minutes.

Overall this was a really good chicken noodle soup recipe. I’d make this one again.

Mmmmmmm.

Final Rating: 7 (1 = Bad, 10 = Delicious!)

 

Coconut Curry Noodles August 15, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here!)

 

One of the things I miss about living in a large, dynamic city like Atlanta is the food. Atlanta has sooooo many restaurants. And I don’t mean places like Applebees or Ruby Tuesdays. I mean quality authentic non-chain hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Whenever we had friends or family visit, we had a wealth of eating establishments in which to partake. From the Richard Blais’ famous Flip Burger to the lesser known, yet always busy, Thumbs Up Diner, we never wanted for a place to eat in Atlanta. A favorite of mine, was a Thai restaurant called Amaryn’s*. My sister-in-law brought us here on our first trip to the city. I thought it was good but nothing special. We ventured back a few weeks later, and that’s when I discovered their Chicken Panang Rice Bowl. This dish is possibly one of my favorites of all time. The sauce (or perhaps you’d call it a broth?) was thick and creamy. It was the perfect amount of sweet and spicy. I’ve never found another panang or any sweet curry dish quite like it. Thus, when I came across this dish, I was hoping that maybe… just maybe… I’d find a similar flavor.

The Pin: Coconut Curry Noodles by Considering the Campbells

Difficulty: 4ish (1 = Canned Soup, 10 = Turducken)

Even though I’ve been eyeing this pin for a while, it was ultimately my husband who chose it. Let’s see how he did! The ingredients.

Olive oil not pictured here.

The olive oil is not pictured above because the list of ingredients on the website didn’t include olive oil, so I wasn’t aware I needed it until I’d already snapped my picture. I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination.

There were a few vague points in this recipe. I had to use a bit of common sense. For example, when using the skillet, the site does’t specify how hot the pan should be. I went with medium. It’s hard to go wrong with medium heat, right? Also, the ingredient list calls for “a handful of baby carrots.” Well, is that a figurative handful or a litteral handful? And if so, who’s handful? Mine, my husbands, my sons? Maybe I’m being persnickety (yeah, I just went there), but to be fair it was unclear. I decided to match the amount of carrots to the amount of peppers.

Did I do good?

Just a side note on the carrots. The only reason I gave this recipe a  difficulty level of 4 instead of a 3, was those damn carrots. Let’s just say my knife skills are… lacking. I have a tendency to cut the corners of my fingernails when doing “fancy” knife work. (I suppose that’s better than cutting through my finger though.) Not to mention, my knives are awful. They were the $29.99 special over five years ago! Hells yeah! I know, I really need to upgrade. So, thin slicing carrots is a difficult task for me.

The recipe called for 1/4th cup of soy sauce. Now, when I’m testing these pins, I try to be as true the recipe as possible. Having said that, I only used 1/8th cup of soy sauce. I like soy sauce, but 1/4th a cup sounded like way too much. I figured I could always add more later if it needed it.

Despite my substandard knife skills (I didn’t cut my finger nail!) and the recipe’s imprecise directions, I somehow managed to complete the dish. And here is the final product.

Left: Mine – Right: Considering the Campbell’s

I’m no plating master, but I think it came out pretty. But how did it taste? Have you ever eaten a dish that seems okay at first but tastes progressively worse after the first bite? It’s one of those, at least for me. I started out thinking it was okay, but about 1/4th of the way in, I just couldn’t finish it. I hate wasting food, but I had to dump it. My husband just plain didn’t like it. I think he ate maybe two bites.

How best to describe it? It tasted like slightly spicy chicken broth with soy sauce in it. In a way, it was almost bland. The coconut milk was almost non-existant. I could barely taste it. The carrots and peppers were nice. They added a nice crunchy texture to the rice noodles. My husband and I both agree that the cilantro looked pretty but didn’t go with the dish.

Needless to say, Coconut Curry Noodles didn’t match up to the Chicken Panang Rice Bowl. This is definitely something I would not make again.

Final Rating: 2 (1 = Terrible, 10 = Awesome)

*In Googling the link to Amaryn’s I’ve discovered they’ve closed. QQ.

 

Easiest Peanut Butter Fudge August 11, 2012

(Visit this post at its new home here.)

 

For this post, I was planning on telling a lovely story about how much I love chocolate, and how much my clearly deranged husband hates it. Hence, the peanut butter fudge instead of chocolate fudge. But instead I’m going to complain.

Before I pin a recipe, I always click on the link. I like to check out the ingredients and, when it’s a blog, I enjoy reading what the blogger has to say. So it annoys me greatly when I pin a promising recipe only to come back a week later to find this:

AMG REPORTED!

Really? Because I visited the site and found no spam or inappropriate content. In fact, I clicked on this particular recipe at least twice. Once when I discovered it, and once when I made it; however when I went to click on it just a moment ago, I received the grey Pinterest screen of death. This is the second time this has happened to me. I went in search of the original link and found it. I still couldn’t find any spam or inappropriate content. It’s just a forum with a recipe that I want. Because I hate having broken pins laying around on my Pinterest boards, I did a search and found the recipe at Allrecipe.com. It’s exactly the same as my inappropriate pin. It even uses the same image. I’m guessing the original link that I’d pinned was copied directly from Allrecipe.com. Is that a reportable offense or are  people just dicks who get their jollies reporting things for no real reason?

Okay, I feel better. Now that that’s out of the way. Let’s get to the foods!

The Pin: Easiest Peanut Butter Fudge by AllRecipe.com

Difficulty: 2 (1 = Opening Potato Chips, 10 = Baked Alaska)

Let’s get makin’!

Sooooooooo much sugar!

It’s simple to make. The instructions are super short. “Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over confectioners sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth; pour into an 8×8 inch dish. Chill until firm and cut into squares.”

Here is the the warm mixture freshly poured. It looks a lot like I dumped peanut butter into a pan.

The waiting is the hardest part.

I covered the pan and popped it in the fridge. It took forever to cool. Okay, it didn’t really take that long, but I was ready to eat it warm with a spoon. Eventually, it cooled and was ready to nom!

Left: Mine – Right: AllRecipe.com

There’s nothing like peanut butter flavored sugar. Just one piece and I think I almost went into a diabetic coma. Yeah, it’s just that good. I’m not certain, but it might be addictive. You have been warned, it’s super sweet, but it’s one of those sweets that’s difficult to stop eating. All day I’ve been popping into the fridge for a piece. Bottom line, if you’re on a diet, you may want to give this one a miss, but if you’re not and you like sweet things, make this! Make it now!

Final Rating: 9 (1 – Terribad, 10 – Mouthwatering)

 

Crockpot French Dip August 8, 2012

(Visit this post at its new home here.)

 

I’ve always been a huge fan of roast beef sandwiches, particularly the French dip. There’s something warm and inviting about taking a hot roast beef sandwich and dipping it into a savory au jus. I think the first French dip I ever had was from Arbys when I was roughly eight or nine years old. I was in love. Since then I’ve had far better versions of the sandwich. I’ve made French dip burgers (very good FYI), but I’ve never attempted the sandwich itself. Until now…

The Pin: Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwich by Baking Bites

Difficulty: 4 (1 = Toast!, 10 = Souffle)

As always, the ingredients:

Yeah, that’s a $5 bottle of wine. You wanna fight about it?

Why two pictures, you ask? Thanks to my husband, I slept in that morning, and, in my haste to get the ingredients in the crock pot so they cook for the full 8ish hours, I nearly forgot to take pictures. (You can see the beef broth has already been used.) And when I did take the picture, I left out a few key ingredients. It would be awfully messy trying to eat this without the rolls.

It’s pretty simple to make. Salt and pepper the meat and dump everything (excluding the bread and cheese of course) into the crock pot. It looks like this:

Into the crock pot!

Have I mentioned how much I love my crock pot? Well, I do. It’s a recent addition to my kitchen. I received it as an anniversary present from my mother just a few months ago. I love that I can throw everything in it and forget it until dinner time. Even better than that, it doesn’t turn my house into a sauna in the summer like my oven does.

But I digress. So, everything was in the crock pot and crocking away. During my 8ish hours of waiting, I read a few of the comments on the recipe’s site, and I began to fret. Most of the reviews were favorable, but then I read the following. ” It tastes nothing like a french dip. Instead, it’s almost like eating a shredded pot roast on a french roll,” says Heike. Hmmm. Well that doesn’t sound terrible, but I wanted a French dip sandwich. Fingers crossed that Heike was wrong, I continued to wait.

When it came time to take the meat out, it smelled wonderful. I let it rest covered for fifteen minutes.

Crock potted for 7 1/2 hours.

After letting it rest, I “sliced” it. Here’s where the plan fell apart… literally. The recipe tells you to “slice” the beef. I did my best, but it basically fell apart as soon as my knife touched it. It was less me slicing and more it collapsing.

“Sliced”

I was worried this would affect the quality of the sandwich, but I persevered! I put the sliced beef back into the crock pot where the au jus (which is just a fancy way of saying beef juice) was still percolating. Twenty minutes later it was ready. Voila! The finished product!

I didn’t realize I got my son’s toy in the picture.

First, that is not a French roll as the recipe calls for. My local commissary didn’t have any fresh baked French rolls, so I went with Kaiser rolls instead. Second, I don’t know what kind of French dips Heike has been eating, because this tasted a lot like a French dip. In fact, it tasted exactly like a French dip, a very good French dip. The meat was tender and flavorful. It had soaked up the flavor of the liquid. I’m not a big fan of red wine, so I was was afraid it would be too strong. I needn’t have worried. It was the perfect addition to the meat and the au jus.

Even my husband who is not a big roast beef eater, enjoyed his sandwich. If you’re a French dip or roast beef fan, I highly recommend this recipe.

Final Rating: 9 (1 = Yuck!, 10 = Awesome!)