Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Candy bacon baby

This was all Mr. Idiots idea. I take no credit, only the responsibility of writing this up.
Mr Idiot is a big fan of Epic Meal Time, as am I, though one too many videos and I get a bit of a funny tummy.
Like Harley says in the video, you've seen it in your fucking dreams, here is how to do candy bacon.
It's beautiful, isn't it...
Take two parts brown sugar and one part cinnamon and mix then together in a bowl.
Get your bacon (Mr. Idiot and I used a whole pack, so follow your heart. Ignore what your arteries say) and lay it in a tin-foil-covered baking tray. 

Heat your oven up to 385 fahrenheit and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix over the bacon. Make sure there's about an inch between each strip, or your cinnamon sugar will bubble into a giant slab. I mean, if that's what your after, please share the results. Otherwise, for ease of snacking purposes, leave a little room. 

Put the bacon in the oven for about ten minutes. 

Once your ten minutes is up, take the bacon out, drain the grease, flip over the bacon and re-sprinkle
Here you see Mr. Idiot demonstrating the correct technique. 
Mr. Idiot's beloved EMT guys say to put the bacon back in for another ten, but our first batch burned when we did that, so put it in for five and see how it's looking. Add time as you need it. 

Once the other side is cooked, put the bacon on a plate (cover the plate in tin foil so the bacony goodness doesn't stick) and put it in the fridge for a few minutes.

Mr Idiot and I used this cooling time to spike a bottle of eggnog. Use your time wisely. 

Take out of the fridge, and enjoy. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chicken nugget spaghetti

I loved this recipe. Which really surprised me, I'm normally not a fan of cooking-out-of-a-can so to speak, but this was delicious. Not exactly very healthy, but a winner on the tasty and filling and easy fronts.
This is all the cooking you have to do. And turn the oven on. If you can't do that, you might be beyond my help.
I had a one pound bag of nuggets in the freezer and I used about half of them, but that depends on how big a pan you use.

So, step one is to cook the spaghetti and preheat the oven to 475. The recipe I posted last week said to heat to 400, but the nuggets I used needed to be cooked at 475. Nothing went catastrophically wrong by adding 75 degrees, so, just follow the cooking instructions on whatever nuggets you're using.
As in previous recipes, wine is an essential ingredient.

Once the pasta is cooked, add spaghetti sauce and pour into a baking tray.

Make a layer of nuggets on top and pop in the oven for about eight minutes.

Once the eight minutes are up, flip the nuggets over and put them in for another eight minutes.

That's it. You're done. This recipe was great because I only used two dishes and all I had to do was cook the spaghetti. So if you're starting out cooking, and you're looking for something to make for dinner that's nice and easy, pretty tasty and requires only the ability to boil water, you've got yourself a winner here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Taco Tuesday update

Sorry about the lag in posts everyone. Yesterday was a bit mad. Mr. Idiot had a late night on Tuesday, and then had to get up and back to work at 2am so it was a little nuts.
Anyway, here's the scoop on the tacos.
They came out pretty good. I was starving when I started cooking and the smell nearly drove me crazy. Mr Idiot had no complaints, and neither did I, but they were just kind of bland. I'm not really sure how to spice them up (Sorry). I used some taco seasoning Mr. Idiot picked up on the way home, as well as a couple of sliced up jalapenos, but it just kind of tasted boring. Nothing exciting, nothing terrible.

Anyway, here's what I did for the tacos. Admittedly, these took like five minutes and they were good for something quick. So if that's what you're after these are a good idea. Though honestly, if I had the beef already defrosted, I'd go for the meatballs. They were just as easy, though they admittedly take longer to cook.
However, if you've got a hankering for tacos, here you go.

1lb of ground beef
2 jalapenos, sliced and diced
1/2 an onion sliced
1/2 a packet of taco seasoning (optional)
garlic powder
2 cups of rice

Brown the beef in a pan over medium heat. Use a pan that's bigger than you think you'll need, because to keep the beef from clumping into bits too big for tacos, you need to move it around pretty vigorously. I ended up getting beef and onions all over the stove, so take that advice unless you want a pain in the rear cleanup.

Slice the jalapenos and the onions and put them in with the beef. Continue mixing and moving everything around.

Add the salt, taco seasoning, garlic powder and whatever else you're inclined to put in.

I put a lid on the pan at this point and lowered the heat and left it to simmer for a while, while I cooked the rice.

Most of the time when I have tacos, there's shredded lettuce and tomatoes and beans and stuff, but I didn't really have the traditional trimmings. Maybe that's why these kind of fell flat, I don't know. I had some leftover tinned diced tomatoes I'd used earlier in the week to stretch out spaghetti sauce, so I warmed them up and served those with the rice and the meat.

All told this took me about ten minutes, fifteen if you include chopping the jalapenos and the onions.

This is a recipe I'd really like to improve on because it is super easy and super quick, so if you have suggestions, leave them in the comments!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Taco Tuesday

I'm starving and the smell in the kitchen is making me crazy!

Mrs Idiot makes meatballs!

So, due to an early christmas present, aka a cheque, (thanks grandpa!) Mr. Idiot and I had a lovely weekend which involved buffets, ice skating (I'm terrible) and brunch (I'm pretty good at that). Unfortunately for the blog, but fortunately for me, it did not actually involve any cooking. Unless you count Mr. Idiot microwaving corndogs (don't, that would be an unnecessary boost to his ego).
But, I'm back now with the meal plan, though not at all in the order I had intended to implement it. Oh well.
But, let's get to the meat of this post. See what I did there??
I was really excited to try these. I adore meatballs, not only because they are god damn delicious, but because they've always been one of those things I never bothered trying to make myself. I don't know why, because these meatballs are one of the easiest things I've made for dinner.
I looked up quite a few recipes for meatballs before I made these, including the one on the meal plan post, but I ended up making it up as I went along. I'm normally pretty skeptical of the 'wing it' approach to meals I've never made before, but these came out really well, they were shockingly easy and delicious.

1 lb of ground beef
1/3 of an onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
A splash of milk (the recipe links calls for 1/8 a cup, but who has the time to measure that?)
A generous dose of Worcestershire sauce (Again, the linked recipe calls for one teaspoon, but that seemed way to stingy)

I also added salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and mix everything together in a bowl. You can use a spoon or a masher or whatever you like to combine the ingredients, but I had a really good time mushing it by hand; it's a gratifying substance ground beef.

Once the ground beef is good and mixed, roll out the meatballs. I used a tablespoon to help keep the size consistent. 
Wine is an important ingredient that I forgot to mention above.

Line them up in a baking pan. You don't have to leave much room between the balls, so feel free to squeeze as many of them in as you can. (Bonus for those of us who hate dishes) Bake them for about 25 minutes, and hey presto. Meatballs. 

This amount of ground beef yielded 24 meatballs, so both Mr Idiot and I had leftovers for lunch today. All that's left is make spaghetti and plate and you've got dinner. 

This whole recipe, including prep and cook time took me about 40 minutes, and half of that was drinking wine and watching River Monsters with Mr. Idiot, so the ease of cooking is high with this one. 
I'm pretty proud of these meatballs, and I've excited to make them again with different ingredients. They're easy to make, easy to freeze (just let them cool and stick in the freezer) and tasty. They also strike me as lending themselves to experimentation, so I'll definitely be trying new spices, different meat (Asian pork meatballs maybe?) and different combos of flavor. 

Have you got a better meatball recipe? Did you make these and love them? Let me know in the comments. 

Happy cooking. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Toffee apples

Today we're going to talk about toffee apples. For those of you looking for an update on how the meal plan is coming along, that's coming up, with a few modifications. But for now, toffee apples.

I've never made toffee apples before (or caramel or candy apples), but I love them. They're one of my favorite season-specific foods, though I don't know why they aren't widely available all year round. They should be. 

Anyway, Mr. Idiot and I attempted our very own toffee apples over the weekend, and they came out visually subpar, but very, very tasty.

I wanted to make our own toffee, but the Mister said that would be too much work, so we used toffee bits instead, which did end up being pretty easy. 
Thankfully we were gifted a little double boiler so we didn't have to rig one up out of our stuff, but if you aren't lucky enough to have generous in-laws, this is a handy article about how to make one of your very own at home, courtesy of the Unsophisticook
We realized after we'd started the process we didn't really know what we were doing, and after some rapid Googling brought up no one specific way to do toffee apples, we just followed our hearts. 

Melt the toffee bits in the double boiler. This takes longer than you think—unless you actually know what you're doing—if you're like me and have never actually used a double boiler before (and maybe thought those metal bowls were for salad or something when you unpacked). My recommendation is get the water boiling, add the toffee bits and then go make yourself some tea. You'll have around fifteen minutes to kill. 

Somewhere in that fifteen minutes, pull the stems off your apples and stick skewers through the core. Make sure they don't come out the other end. We used bamboo kebab skewers, but we had to use four per apple because they were pretty flimsy. 

I don't know if it was the toffee bits we used, or if it's just our impatience, but we couldn't get the toffee to completely melt. There were bits of toffee bit floating around after twenty minutes of melting, so we just went ahead and started dunking. 

It melted a bit more than this, but you get the idea. Lumpy. 

Our double boiler is pretty shallow so we had to get a spoon and pour the melted toffee over the apples to get them completely covered, but to get a nice smooth coating on the apple rotate it in the toffee. While the toffee is still hot, you can dunk the apple in any toppings you want. We did two plain, two with chocolate sprinkles, two with walnuts and two with pecans.

The plain ones came out just fine, a tad lumpy because of the stubbornly unmelted toffee, but looking okay. 
Through a bit of trial and error we discovered that if you'd like your extra toppings to stay on the apple and not slide off into a puddle of melted goo, you have to put the apples directly into the fridge so the toffee hardens. 

Case in point.
We'll definitely be doing these again. They were really easy to make, really inexpensive, and really fun. It was nice to be in the kitchen together, since I do most of the cooking. Unless it's Sunday brunchtime, and then Mr. Idiot has the floor. The nice thing about these is that they'll last up for a long time in the fridge. We made these about a week ago, and the apples are still nice and crisp. And if these two idiots can do it, it's guaranteed that you and your idiot, or your kids can do these together and eat them all week (if they last that long!)

Happy cooking.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Don't make this chicken salad

I didn't think salad would be a hard thing to make for dinner, but I think I was wrong.
I followed (kind of...not really) a recipe I found online, but the one I linked to yesterday was wrong. I took some parts of that recipe and other parts of a recipe that I either dreamt or lost into the abyss of my browser history and it came out...okay.

Looks pretty anyway.

Here's what I did.

2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp chili sauce
splash of peanut oil

1 chicken breast, sliced up
1 bag of  frozen "grilling veggies" from Wal-Mart (zucchini, squash, onions and red peppers)
5 mushrooms, sliced
mixed salad greens (spinach and spring mix)

I cut up the chicken into bits. I had originally intended to slice the breast in half longways, but the breasts we have left are a bit skinny for that, so I cubed-ish. I poured about 1/3 of the sauce into a pan and cooked the chicken in it, adding the frozen veggies as the chicken cooked.
In a separate pan I cooked the mushrooms with 1/2 tsp of butter until they were warm and then took them off the heat.
I put something like two handfuls of mixed salad into bowls and poured the rest of the dressing over it. There wasn't quite enough left so I made some more dressing to pour over the chicken and veggies.
Put the mushrooms on top, and then scooped the chicken/veggie mix on top of that and poured the rest of the dressing over the top.

It smelled pretty good as I was cooking, but it was VERY limey. Way too limey. I was trying to stretch out the chicken a little bit, but this wasn't a great success. Mr. Idiot seemed to like it well enough, he ate what was left in my bowl, but it was too limey and there wasn't enough difference of texture.
I don't want to give up on salad because it does help stretch the meat out, but this was no bueno. I'm thinking maybe if I get some peanut sauce and add some peanuts to the salad it'll have more crunch, and maybe less acidic lime taste. And I think the grilling veggies were a mistake. The flavor just...didn't go together. Maybe teriyaki chicken with peanuts and chili sauce.
Thankfully Mr. Idiot brought home chocolate cake (YAY!) with the lime juice I asked him to pick up, so neither of us went too hungry.
Hopefully tomorrow's dish goes down better.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Meal planning like a champ

I've been doing lots of Googling lately about first time cooking, being married, how to utilize your kitchen and bla bla bla. Almost everyone says that meal planning makes your life easier, and it makes sense. You know in advance what you'll be making every night so there's no "what are we having tonight" moment while you stare helplessly into the fridge.
I feel you Ein
I've been meaning to get around to planning dinner out in advance, but we moved in two weeks ago, and the priority in the last 14 days has been to get everything out of the boxes, start making our house look like ours and get settled. Well, now we are settled, though making the house look like us is still pending. We were a bit generous with how much money we'd have left after bills, so some of the things we were hoping to buy (like a dresser, side tables, TV stand, picture frames, lamps...) have to get pushed back. That smaller budget is part of the reason today is make a meal plan day. We're on the last stretch of the groceries we bought when we moved in, and with limited money to restock until next Friday, a plan didn't seem like such a bad idea.
So, for your reading pleasure, here is our dinner menu for the next seven days. I'm not quite at the 'whip-up-your-own-recipe' cooking level, so these are all links to recipes I found online; credit where credit's due. I'll inevitably be tweaking these as the week goes on, but that info is for later posts.

Tonight: Chicken salad. Mine won't be shredded chicken, mostly because I have no idea how to do that...
FridayDijon pork chops. I made these last week and Mr. Idiot loved them, so I'll make sure to take pictures this time and give you hungry lot the deets.
Saturday: Tacos. It's Saturday, which means it's time to get crazy, so I'm making this one up as I go.
Sunday: Amish fried chicken with rice (or maybe potatoes)
MondaySpaghetti and meatballs. I might go out on a limb on this and make my own sauce. We'll see.
Tuesday: Chicken nugget spaghetti Don't judge me on my use of frozen nugs, okay? You gotta use what you got, and I've got chicken nuggets.
Wednesday: Cottage pie. I'm really excited about trying this. My mother makes a mean cottage pie, so we'll see how mine measures up.
Thursday: Mustardy pork and apples. I know this is a lot like the dijon pork chops, but I'm adding apples this time, and I'm going to try these with it instead of mashed potatoes.

So there you have it. I've eked out the supply pretty much as far as it will go, and according to these calculations, we'll have exactly 1/2 a bag of nuggets before Friday. But then it's shopping day! My favorite day!
Stay tuned to find out if the chicken salad is enough for Mr. Idiot's capacious stomach, or if he ends up making himself a sandwich.
Happy cooking!

Pumpkin muffins

So, here we are, first post! I love the smell of a new blog in the morning. 
I have to be honest with you guys, this is not the first thing I made in the house...I know, I'm sorry. But I didn't take any pictures of the broccoli cheese baked spectacular so you'll have to wait until I make it again to hear about it. I might post the recipe later, we'll see. For now, here is my (actual) first baking project in the new casa. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Muffins

Tis the season for all things pumpkin (my favorite season) and it is only appropriate to fill up the kitchen with the most seasonal smells possible. I found this pumpkin muffin recipe online ( ) and followed it almost to the letter. Mine have a bit more cinnamon, and I didn't buy pumpkin pie seasoning, because that seemed like a waste of money. Don't you go out and buy it either, because to make these muffins, you will have all the spices you need already to make your own pumpkin pie spice. I also crumbled some of the dark brown sugar on top to give them a nice crispy top.

I've added to the original recipe the extra spices you'll need to make pumpkin pie seasoning. Click the  recipe link to get the original amounts.
1 ½ cups of flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon (I just eyeballed it here. I probably added an extra ½ tsp)
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice + an extra pinch for the PP seasoning
¼ teaspoon ground cloves + an extra pinch for the PP seasoning
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¾ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
15 oz (one can) cooked pumpkin
cream cheese

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

  • Stir the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, ginger, salt, and baking soda together in a bowl.

  • Beat the brown sugar and the eggs together with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add all the vegetable oil and the pumpkin; continue beating until integrated. Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture and beat until just incorporated.

  • Fill the prepared muffin cups about half-full with the batter. Spoon about 1 teaspoon cream cheese into the center of each muffin cup and poke it down into the middle of the batter with a finger.

  1. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes and remove to a rack to cool completely. Be extra careful; the cream cheese stays hot for a while

So, post muffins. I followed this recipe exactly, but before you run off and try it, let me make a few adjustments. Definitely sweeten the cream cheese. I don't think it has to be full blown cream cheese frosting, but just plain cream cheese by itself is too bland. I think I'm going to put vanilla in the next batch (though, I've got a habit of putting vanilla in everything) and maybe use butter instead of vegetable oil.  The muffins themselves were pretty good but they were...lacking something. The weren't as good as my mothers and that's pretty much my standard for everything. So, we'll try these babies again another time. I'll let you know how it goes. 

Though I can't seem to get them to stop sticking to the bottom of the paper muffin cup....

P.S. If you have any tips or suggestions please feel free to post them in the comments. I'm a lowly beginner here, so any secrets are appreciated. 
Happy cooking!