Saturday, August 7, 2010

Italian Chicken Breasts

Tonight I needed something fairly fast and easy - today was soccer opening day and I was tired and grouchy. So I made one of my standby fallback meals: Italian chicken breasts.

I usually use Italian seasoned diced tomatoes for this, but I had part of a can of petite diced tomatoes in juice in the fridge, so I went with that. I drizzled a little olive oil in the big cast iron skillet and got it hot. Then I threw in the chicken breasts to get a little caramelized on each side. Usually I slice up an onion and cook that too, but I was out. So I just sprinkled on some garlic salt. It worked.

Then I dumped in the tomatoes, and sprinkled on some oregano and basil. Covered and let simmer until done, turning once or twice.

It's good over pasta, over rice, or in this case, alongside some pasta salad and steamed broccoli.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cream Caramel Ice Cream - my childhood revived

Growing up, when we went to the doctor's office in Berkeley we'd often get a treat of a cone at Bott's Ice Cream. It was the best ice cream ever. The shop had the same wall paper from when my mom was a little girl. The most important thing was the product. My favorite flavors were orange ice cream - yes! Orange ice cream, not sherbet! It was wonderful. And cream caramel ice cream. A double scoop of the two flavors was luscious.

I set out to replicate that cream caramel ice cream. I found a recipe in Amanda Hesser's book Cooking for Mr. Latte. Sunday night I prepared the ice cream base. I caramelized a cup of sugar in a heavy pan. But went to far and had to discard it. I used lower heat the second time and was successful. When I dumped in the half and half the caramel seized up and adhered to the bottom of the pan! After much stirring and prodding, it dissolved. I added the rest of the ingredients - more sugar, egg yolks, vanilla and salt, strained and chilled.

Last night I put the very thick ice cream base in my ice cream freezer and about 25 minutes later I had it. Cream caramel ice cream - smooth and silky and just a little salty to punch up the caramel flavor.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Last Sunday I got a call from a friend from church. She said you do cakes, right? I said yes. She asked me to make a cake for her husband's birthday party on friday. She'd already ordered a couple of edible photos of his guitar to decorate it. I said I'd be glad to. So Wednesday I baked the 3 jelly roll pan size cakes, and Thursday and filled, stacked and frosted.

I wanted to do something interesting, so to go with the guitar theme I made musical notes and a treble clef out of chocolate to stick on. It turned out pretty well. The birthday guy liked it anyway!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I spent most of last week working on a baby shower cake. Sarah's friend from work, Steph, aka Steph-O, is having a baby girl. She needed a cake for her shower. Sarah said my mom makes cakes! And so I started planning a cake resembling an In N Out fry boat (the thing they serve you the fries in) with a teddy bear cake sitting in it surrounded by fries.

I planned long and hard. I had a schedule, which I kept to. Despite the fact that I later volunteered to help the Young Women make truffles and chocolates for the tuesday night activity. Once that was done, I mixed up four batches of sugar cookie dough (for the cookies shaped like french fries) and put them in the fridge.

Wednesday night I baked up the cookie french fries, as well as about 20 very large sunflower shaped cookies for Matthew's last day at the Y-Childcare. Those were frosted and sprinkled with orange sugar, for a luau theme. They were so cute! No pictures of them though.

Thursday night I baked three 9x13" cakes and a teddy bear cake. Filled and chilled the 9x13s.

I also cut a stencil for the palm trees that go around the fry boat. I had taken the fry boat to work and blown it up on the copier. Pretty smart! :)

Friday I carved the fry boat cake (Katie helped), frosted it (which was nightmarish since it warmed up and started crumbling and had to be put back in the fridge). Then covered it with fondant (Sarah helped) and stenciled on the palm trees (Sarah and Matthew helped). I also started frosting the bear.

Saturday morning I finished the bear and in the afternoon took it to the shower. It was met with a wonderful enthusiastic reception! People asked Steph where she'd gotten it - as if it were a professional cake! I know it wasn't that perfect, I could see the defects. But it looked like an In N Out fry boat with a bear in it, surrounded by french fries. Very cool!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Applesauce memories

One year my in-laws brought me a big box of Gravenstein apples from Sebastapol, CA. I wanted to make applesauce, so I cored and quartered the apples and filled up my pressure cooker. Well, apparently I filled it up just a bit too much. Because when it came time to reduce the pressure, and I took the rocker thing off, along with the steam out came a plume of cooked apples! It rained down applesauce on me in my kitchen. The kids thought it was hilarious. And I had a brown stain on my kitchen ceiling for years after.

Friday, July 11, 2008

We have a paint color!

Marissa suggested her paint color for the living room, which she refers to as "Wendy's Frosty brown". It's actually Behr's Classic Taupe, and I sent away for a sample. Sample arrived yesterday and was applied to the wall today, and I love it! Woohoo!

I also found a pretty ice blue for the kids' bathroom, which is also wonderful!

Need to find a contractor or something to repair the dumb walls. And replace the dumb baseboards.

Need to find out from the insurance company how much they'll reimburse for the carpet.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Carpet woes

Rob talked to the insurance company, and they started talking "line of sight" for the hallway and living room and dining area. And I just have this bad sad woeful feeling that they won't be paying for the carpet in the living and dining rooms. Which is frustrating, because I can't see where the cutoff would make sense. It's all one continuous piece.

It's going to look so stupid. I'd simply pay for it myself, all of it, but with Rob's job going away as of August 15, well, it just doesn't seem prudent to spend that kind of money right now. I guess I'll have stupid looking carpet for a while.