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.
 

Chicken And Asparagus Penne September 8, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

I let my husband, Matt, choose this one. He’s been hassling me to cook something “with noodles” ever since I let him choose last time. Plus, I think he wanted to redeem himself after that disaster. His second choice surprised me. I was expecting him to choose one of the Asian dishes I’d pinned. Honestly, I’ve had this recipe pinned for a while. I think I pinned it because the picture looked so wonderful. I was less impressed with the actual recipe and would probably have never tried this one. Of course, I found out later that my husband chose because of the picture too. Let’s cook!

The Pin: Chicken And Asparagus Penne by GoodnessGracious.com

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

The ingredients.

FOOD!

A few things here:

  1. I used chicken thighs instead of the recommended chicken breasts. When I went to the store to pick up the chicken, the breasts were close to double the price of the thighs. Ridiculous! In general, I prefer thighs anyway, so there you go.
  2. I halved everything in this recipe except the chicken. When I cook, it’s typically for my husband and me. We’re terrible about eating leftovers for more than a day, so I try not to cook too much at a time unless I’m going to freeze some. That and I only had 8 oz. of asparagus instead of one pound the full recipe requires.
  3. The recipe itself does not tell you how to season the chicken. The blogger chose to use Lawry’s. I’ve never tried Lawry’s, didn’t have it in the house, so I sort of made up my own seasoning. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and parsley. Like the blogger I sauteed the chicken on the stovetop.

So basically, you cook the chicken, boil the pasta and nuke the asparagus, throw it all into a baking dish with some oil, top with cheese and broil for 5ish minutes. The recipe didn’t tell me to do this, but when I put oil in the baking dish, I used the oil from the pan that I sauteed the chicken in. I thought it might give the pasta more flavor. I also added a few pinches of salt to the mix before broiling. It looks a bit like this.

Cheesy!

You know when you let your husband choose a dish and he only looks at the picture and doesn’t bother reading the recipe and then is disappointed when you serve him dinner? Yeah, that sort of happened.

For me it was better than I was expecting. For Matt is was a complete disappointment. Based on the picture, he was expecting there to be a white or cream sauce. Still, it was good. Not great but good, though we both agree it felt like three separate components mixed together. The dish didn’t mesh. There was nothing binding the three main ingredients together. It would have been just as good separated: a piece of chicken with a side of asparagus and cheesy pasta. The sauce that Matt was anticipating probably would have done this. Then there’s the cheese. The recipe urges you to broil until the cheese is “nice and crunchy.” Mine may have been more on the crunchy side than necessary, but we both would have preferred it just melty, no crunch.

So like I said. A solid good. Something to try if you’re looking for something easy and different.

Final Rating: 6 (1 = Bad, 10 = Great)

 

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers September 1, 2012

Filed under: Beef,Cooking,Eating,Food,Recipe,Review — MelGag @ 5:54 pm
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(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

I’m cheating a bit with this review because I’ve made this recipe once before. When I say I “made this recipe once before” I should clarify. I made a dish very closely based on this recipe. Basically, I took this recipe and modified it slightly to suit my and my husband’s palette. It was essentially the same recipe minus a few ingredients and the main change being the cooking method. This time, I followed the pinned recipe as closely as I could. As we go, I’ll take you through the process comparing both cooking ventures. For ease of reading, my initial endevour will be in italics. First, let’s look at the pin.

The Pin: Southwestern Stuffed Peppers by Simply Love Food

Difficulty: 4 (1 = Ramen, 10 = Beef Wellington)

I chose this pin because I really wanted to cook stuffed peppers. When I did a search for “stuffed peppers” on Pinterest, this is one of the first recipes listed. I think the first (and last) time I had stuffed peppers was 20 years ago. My Grandmother made them. I remember being extremely excited while she was cooking them. I’d never heard of such a dish! Unfortunately the final dish was a bit of a let down. I vaguely remember thinking they were tasteless (sorry Gramma!), so when searching for this recipe, I decided to veer away from the traditional “Italian” version of the dish. Being that my family (re: my husband) is an avid Chipotle eater, Southwestern Stuffed Peppers seemed the right way to go. Let’s start with the ingredients.

That’s a lot of stuff!

Okay, I substituted one thing here. I used ground beef instead of ground turkey. Sorry folks, but I really hate ground turkey. When I was little, my mom used to try to sneak it in things without my knowing: chili, hamburger helper, etc. She claimed I wouldn’t notice the difference. Apparently my 10ish year old taste buds were pretty good because I could spot the turkey every time, and I didn’t like it. I still don’t, and not for lack of trying. If you like ground turkey, I’m sure this recipe would be just as good, but I’ll stick with beef.

Protein variation aside, the ingredients above entail everything listed in the recipe.  The taco seasoning I used is a different pin that I’ve had on my “Love Cooking” board for some time. It doesn’t warrant its own post, but it’s good. Go ahead and use it.

When I first made this recipe, I omitted a few items:

  • Corn: As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I aren’t huge fans of corn cooked into things.
  • Cilantro: I didn’t have any in the house and didn’t feel like running out.
  • Avacado: See Cilantro. Yeah, I’m lazy sometimes.

Now as you cook, don’t forget to get distracted by your son raiding your tupperware cabinet. Cooking while chasing a child who is hell-bent on opening every cabinet in the room (the dangerous ones are child proofed, don’t worry!) is a tough.

Thankfully, my husband came along and collected this little punk shortly after I took this picture, so I could cook in relative peace.

Now where was I? Ingredients collected? Check! Tupperware picked up off the floor so I don’t slip on it and fall on my face? Check! On with the cooking!

The peppers went into the 400 degree oven for 20 minutes while I cooked the rice, sauteed the onions and browned the hamburger. Once everything was sauteed, chopped and mixed with the other ingredients, into the semi-cooked peppers it went and back into the oven for another 20 minutes.

I did this slightly different the first time. Per other recipes I found online, I did not pre-bake the peppers or brown the meat beforehand. I cooked the rice and onions, but I left the meat raw. I spooned the mixture (with rawmeat) into the raw peppers and baked them for an hour. Also, the recipe calls for a full 16 oz jar of salsa to be thrown into the mix. I used a little more than half of a jar of salsa, probably 9 or 10 oz.

Twenty minutes later, I sprinkled some shredded cheese over top of the peppers and put them back into the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt. (Note: I went a little light on the cheddar because my husband is not a cheddar fan.) On my first venture I used a mixture of cheddar and pepper jack cheese.

But one is missing! (Left: Mine – Right: Simply Love Food)

Once the cheese was nice and melty, I pulled them out of the oven and topped them with sour cream, cilantro and avacado. The first time, I left off the cilantro and avacado (I didn’t have any, remember?) and opted instead to top with sour cream and the left over salsa.

Found the missing pepper! It was on my plate!

The first time I made this recipe, I really liked it. If I was giving it a rating based on that I’d probably give it an 8. I ate the leftovers for several days and it was yummy. But seeing as my first foray into stuffed peppers doesn’t count, let’s see how my second attempt matched up.

I learned something about myself with this and a previous recipe, I don’t like cilantro as a garnish. Cooked in to a dish, I love it. Mixed in guacamole, mmmmm. But used as a garnish, it’s just bad. Cilantro aside (and I took most of it off my pepper), this recipe was good, but not as good as my first. I don’t think the cooking method made much of a difference. I’m guessing it was the topping. The salsa on top really gave it the flavor punch it needed. Without it, I felt the dish was slightly bland. The kind of bland that extra salt wouldn’t fix. It’s sort of like eating a hamburger without ketchup or mustard. Not terrible, it just needed a little something else, and while the sour cream and avacado gave it creamy texture, they didn’t give it much flavor. Next time, I’d top it with sour cream, salsa and avacado. (Pretty wild, I know.)

Final Rating: 6 (1 = Bad, 10 = Great)

 

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)

 

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread August 5, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Cooking,Eating,Food,Pinterest,Uncategorized — MelGag @ 2:51 am
Tags: , , ,

(View this post at its new home here.)

 

If you follow my blog (yeah, all three of you) then you may remember this picture from last time.

See that biscuit? That’s my next blog, so stay tuned!

Good news. It’s next time!

The Pin: Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread by Une Deux Senses

Difficulty: 4 (1 = Easy, 10 = Way too effing hard to even try.)

Let me start off by saying, I miss Whole Foods. (This is going somewhere I promise!) My husband is in the military, and we were stationed at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, GA for a little over a year. There was a Whole Foods about 15 minutes from our house, and we did our grocery shopping there most weeks. I love Whole Foods for it’s selection of organic food. I also, love their pre-made foods. We’d usually pick out something for dinner that night. We loved the chicken skewers and the ribs. Aside from those, one of the best things we bought there was jalapeno cornbread. So good! It was just the right amount of spicy and sweet all rapped up in a tasty cornbread package. Pure awesome. When I found this recipe, I was really hoping for something similar to that awesome.

The ingredients:

Let’s cook!

The recipe says that it makes 18 biscuits. Since I was only cooking for two people, I decided to half everything. Strangely enough it made 10 biscuits instead of nine. The whole halfing everything business worked out just fine until I got to the eggs. The full recipe calls for three eggs. Halfing an egg is not easy, but I made it work. Here they are, pre-oven.

Left: Mine – Right: Une Deux Sense

Needless to say, I went with the muffin version. I put the appropriate amount of cheese in the muffins, but I forgot to put the extra on top. To be fair, I was running on about four hours of sleep that day thanks to a fussy teething baby. Plus, my son was not cooperating with my cooking plans. But we persevere! Even without the cheese on top, I’d say they came out looking pretty good.

Left: Mine – Right: Une Deux Sense

Just a warning, the recipe says if you’re making muffins it should take about 15 – 20 minutes. This is either wrong, or my oven is crap because mine took 25ish minutes. As for the outcome, I’m torn. This is another one of those Pins I really wanted to like. And I did… sort of. The taste was good. Just good. Maybe it was the ratio of flour to cornmeal, but they weren’t cornbread-ish enough for me. They tasted more like muffins with a hint of corn. The flavor was decent, but it wasn’t awesome. They were also too salty for my taste. Let me be clear. I enjoy salt. I nearly always cook with it, so when I say something is salty, it’s pretty salty. At first I thought that I had neglected to half the salt, but the original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of salt. I know I didn’t put more than one teaspoon into the mix.

If I make these again, I’d half my halfed salt. But chances are I won’t make this recipe again, mostly because my husband didn’t like them. (He says he didn’t like the jalapeno flavor.) So there you have. A solid Good.

Final Rating: 4 (1 = Bad, 10 = Explosion of Yumm!)