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Bulk Chicken and Stock

I am not sure where I learned this technique, but it saved me quite a bit of money.

In Texas, I could get chicken leg and thigh quarters for less than 49 cents a pound, in a two pound bag. Cheap! Its about twice as much here in Brooklyn, but this technique still saves time and money.

Take a bulk pack of chicken quarters, legs, or thighs. (This time around, I used chicken thighs, because they are easier to work with.) Remove the skin, and either discard or use to make schmaltz (next attempt!).

Place the chicken parts into a crock pot. You can add some salt and pepper if you want, but the chicken is good how it is. Cook for a few hours on high or low, until the chicken is done. I typically dont worry about it until it starts making the apartment smell yummy :) I check to make sure that all the chicken is done before pulling it out.

During this time, the chicken will have given off a lot of liquid. Keep this in the crock pot. As the chicken cools, remove the meat from the bones, and then put the bones back into the crockpot. When all of the meat is of the bone, and all of the bones are back in the crockpot, you can add water and salt. I then let this cook, usually until I am about to go to bed. :) Cheap stock, and yummy.

I tend to freeze the meat in small pieces, and in about one to two cup portions (depending on what storage containers I have available.)

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yum. Tasty Kitchen is a new site from The Pioneer Woman. It is full of yummy recipes. But, the best thing is that the number of servings is adjustable, so you can change it to suit how much you are making! You can also switch between US and Metric measurements.

I tried Chocolate Chip Muffins. There is something about an entire stick of butter makes me wary (even if it is only 1/2 a cup). But, half a stick isnt quite as bad, so I made 6 muffins. I also took the suggestion and used 1/3rd whole wheat flour. I think I want to get white whole wheat flour to use, as the Whole Foods 365 brand of whole wheat is both extra wheaty tasting, and ultra high protein (which I think is also why my whole wheat bread experiments failed).

I think I need an oven thermometer. My oven takes a lot longer to cook things than the recipes say. Perhaps I am not preheating it long enough, or it does run cold. It is a smaller oven than I am used to, so that may be it as well. (I have half sheet pans, and I use them in place of the grates, as they fit into the side of the oven.) I had to cook the muffins for about 25 minutes.

I use Silicone Baking Cups. I would like to get a real metal muffin tin eventually, but for small kitchens, this is actually really nice to have. I can store my muffin tins in a 2 inch by 2 inch square in the pantry. :)

Very nice!

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Monkey Bread

I am fascinated by the idea of Monkey Bread. In case you dont know, this is bread made of smaller chunks, so that you can pull the bread apart to eat it.

I am also fascinated by the concept of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Zoe put the recipe for Brioche dough on her website. Now, I had never heard of brioche before, so I had no concept of how hard it was. I am thankful that there is an easy way to do it!

I wondered how the dough would work for monkey bread. So this is my attempt.

I made the dough, but halved the recipe. I dont think I melted the butter all the way, as there were some small solid chunks when I mixed everything else. I did let the butter cool quite a bit, so it would not kill the yeast. Mixed everything together, and it looked good, if a little dry. I let it rise on the counter for two hours, then put it in the fridge.

The next day, it did not look like it had risen very much. After my first attempt at the whole wheat bread from the book, I was worried that it would not turn out. But, I figured that the dough was rich enough, that even if it did not rise, it would work fine.

I melted four tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan. I mixed four tablespoons of brown sugar into it, and let it cook for just a few minutes. I put this in the bottom of my new Bundt Pan. I took the cold dough, rolled it into small balls (about golf ball size), rolled those in a cinnamon sugar mixture, then put them into the pan. All of the dough fit into about half of the bundt pan. I then put the pan back into the fridge, covered with foil.

The next morning, it had risen, and now filled the pan. Yay for yeast! I let it sit on the counter for about 40 minutes, then put it in a 400 degree oven. (Which was too high, the top was starting to burn when the middle wasnt done.)

I took it out of the oven, let it sit for a few minutes, then turned it out onto a sheet pan.

And it was burnt. See what I get for not following the instructions? However, the insides, without the burnt parts, tasted pretty yummy. I will definitely make the brioche dough again, but I will try other things with it. Maybe monkey bread without the topping syrup? Or a lower temperature? Or donut holes! :)

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Cold Brewed Coffee

I love Coffee.

My typical Starbucks order is 5 bucks. (Mmm, Iced Venti Soy Caramel Macchiato). But, it is expensive.

Since I enjoy iced coffee, when I make it at home, I make Cold Brewed Iced Coffee. It is very simple, with just a small preplanning element.

A french press (such as Bodum Brazil Glass 3-Cup Coffee Press, Black )

You can play around with the amount of coffee and water mixture. You need to brew super strength coffee. I tend to do 1/4th coffee in the french press, then fill the rest with water. Let sit overnight (up to about 12 hours or so is fine), then press the coffee to the bottom. Pour off the coffee concentrate.

I make iced coffee, so I pour about 1/4 of a glass with concentrate, add a few ice cubes, then fill the rest with soy milk. I like my coffee super sweet, so I typically add Torani Syrup, Sugar-Free Vanilla. I like the sugar free vanilla in iced coffee, but I have also used the Caramel syrup (and caramel sauce).

You can also heat the coffee, but I have not tried that yet.

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Meat and Carrot Tomato Sauce

This is an example of an idea that I had, and how it actually came out.

I have been reading about bolognese sauce. And, for some reason, the main idea I got out of it was carrots. I had also cleaned out the fridge a few days ago, and found two bags of carrots that I had bought a while ago, and were still fresh.

So, I thought about making this sauce. It is in no way authentic, but it was very tasty.

Extra virgin Olive Oil
4 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1.5 pounds ground beef (approximate, use however much you want).
Tomato Paste

Chop carrots, saute in olive oil for a few minutes, while I fill the pot for pasta and chop the onions. I wanted the carrots to cook a while to soften before adding the onions. I added the onions along with some sea salt, and let it cook until everything was soft. I then added the garlic, and the meat.

I browned the meat. I added spices to it (more sea salt, ground pepper, Italian seasoning, and some Ms. Dash. (I would have added dried red pepper flakes, could I have found them.) I then took the pot to the sink, and used the spatula to get some of the grease out of the pan. Not really draining, but got most of the stuff out. I added tomato paste, and cooked it. This makes a very thick sauce, so watch out for it burning on the bottom.

I put the noodles in with the sauce, and tossed it. I served it with grated Parmesan Cheese. Yum!

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Spicy Curry Garbanzo Beans


I like spicy foods. So much so that either pepper, red pepper flakes, and/or Ms. Dash Extra Spicy are in almost every savory dish of mine, and often all three.

No pictures yet, still working on the photography and camera :)

1 can garbanzo beans
1/2 box of frozen corn (leftover from Mashed Potatoes)
A few shakes of Mrs. Dash Spicy
1 tsp hot curry powder (This was from the Central Market in Austin)
1 tsp Garam masala (Basically, this is one of the things you think of when you think “Indian food.”)
Garlic salt, pepper, and regular salt to taste.

Throw into a pot, and cook until warm. If you like rice this would go very well over rice.

Took me about five minutes of warming things up, and throwing spices in to be ready. I also put a lot of salt into it, but I like things salty :)

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Anatomy of My Cooking Mind

In this post, I shall discuss how I made: Instant Mashed Potatoes.

Not that this is some magical story, or the potatoes were amazing, or that I don’t have anything else to write about. But, as I was in the process of making these, I realized how it really summed up my typical cooking experience. So, enjoy :)

On the train home, I was hungry. I did the typically “Do I want to order out? No, I’m trying to save money. I have chicken at home that I can defrost and throw with pasta.”

I get home. Decide that defrosting chicken in water (because I have no microwave) is too much. I look in the freezer and I have corn. Mmm, corn and mashed potatoes, a starchy favorite.

I briefly read the back of the corn, and then just throw about half the box in with some water. I also found peas in the freezer, and threw them in as well. There was enough water to cover them, so I let them boil.

I realized that I threw away the packaging for the instant mashed potatoes, so I started an internet search for it. I found the PDF file from the government about Dehydrated Potatoes, which called for 2 cups of water, 3/4 cup of milk, and 2 cups of potatoes. I didn’t want 3 cups of potatoes, so I cut the recipe in half. Which involved interesting fractions in my head.

I also did not have milk, so I had to figure out how to get 8 oz of milk from my quart of dry milk powder packet. The outside box had no instructions, but the inside package said 5 heaping tablespoons would make 8oz of milk. Which works out to slightly less than 1/3rd of a cup.

Corn and peas are boiling and hot, so I drain them (using a pasta spork thing), and I place them in a boil with butter. I add garlic salt and pepper to the vegetables. Realize that I over salted the vegetables, and vow not to salt the potatoes until after mixing.

I put slightly less than two cups of water back into the same pot, and bring to a boil with a little bit of salt. I also grate about about 1/4 of cheese for the dish.

Water is boiling. I turn off the water, add the dry milk powder and stir, then add about a cup of instant mashed potatoes. And stir until it is not lumpy, and let it sit. Decide after two minutes that it is not thick enough, and add more potatoes, and stir.

Realize I have a huge pile of stuff, I decide to mix everything together and divide into two portions. Everything gets mixed, and the salt ratio events out nicely. Half the mixture goes into the fridge for tomorrow, the other half gets topped with cheese.

And, yum :)

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