Friday, October 29, 2010

True Confessions

It's a fact, you know.

We gotta eat.


I've even heard The Chief

say it.

And if The Chief says it,

well,

it's an Official

Certified Fact-

properly registered somewhere

in the Hall of Records


or something.


So I figure

if I have to do it

it might as well be really good.


Now,

this is not to say

that I never eat just any old thing because

it's available

and

I'm hungry.



Why just this morning,

instead of making myself a nutritious and tasty breakfast,

I stood in the pantry and ate

some Big Cheez-Its.

Out of the box.

While barefooted.


I mean they're 120% bigger than regular Cheez-Its.

What's not to love?


Albeit they were somewhat stale.




The absolute last thing I want to do is become one of those

food snobs.




So I take it upon myself to

eat Big-Cheez-Its for breakfast,

Nutella and tortillas for lunch,

and

OK,

maybe

once I had

an entire bag

of these

as a snack.



Maybe.

Maybe Not.


I'll take your word for it.



I say all these things because

I've had some comments,

some messages,

that indicate some of you are

irritated,

insulted,

downright upset

by some of the recipes I post here.


Not that they're too fancy

or complex,

or high-falutin'

or anything.


Just that you think

if you come to my house

any time of the night

(and please don't

show up in the Middle of the Night

because The Weege takes

all of 

his sleep very seriously)


or Day

you would find

Me or The Chief eating something

scrumptious and delightful

hot off the stove,

or fresh out of the oven.



And there are times that you would.

Really.


I go on binges.

Bad binges.



But if you had showed up at my house today

at breakfast time

(and by Breakfast Time

I mean after 7:30 am,

not like The Chief's

Breakfast Time which is before

the Chickens are up,

and starts with a 5,


which to me

is just not right)



ANYHOO

if you had appeared

on my doorstep

at a Decent Breakfast Hour,


I would have greeted you warmly,

after first, of course,

freaking out that someone was here

that stinkin' early

and I hadn't washed my hair,

and was wearing

one of The Chief's

old T-shirts

and my black shorts with the bleach spots

on the buttocks

and no shoes,

and after

having recovered from that awful shock,


I would cheerfully have

offered you Big Cheez-Its

and a TAB.

Just

'Cause I love ya!



But if you showed up and brought me donuts,

(which by the way, you are welcome to do at absolutely any time of the night or day - The Weege would just have to get over it...)


I'd probably love ya

more!


But,

until you get the chance to run and pick-up those donuts,

I'd love to know what you eat

when

you don't have

something hot and scrumptious from the oven

at your house.



Give me a shout out and let me know!!!

Let the World Know.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Wisdoms from The Weege

It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.



It's frustrating when you know all the answers, but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.  



A compromise is an agreement whereby both parties get what neither of them wanted.



Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.


Nothing is as frustrating as arguing with someone who knows what he's talking about. 




A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.



Eagles may soar in the clouds, but weasels never get sucked into jet engines.

It's annoying to be disapproved of by people who know only half the story - especially when you're not sure which half they know.


Never do anything that you wouldn't want to explain to the paramedics. 


If The Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me. 



Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away 

and you have their shoes.  




Peace Out

The Weege

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hi Ho Cherry-O

Up until fairly recently,

I didn't like cherries.

Or cherry-flavored anything.

As a kid, I never wanted

Cherry Lifesavers,

Cherry Sno-cones,

Or the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae

or banana split.


 I was ALL ABOUT eating the other parts mind you,

just not the cherry.


So it's a little strange (at least to me)

to be baking with Cherries.


But I'm here to testify

that we can all change.


It is possible my brothers and sister,

to open your eyes

and taste buds

to new experiences.

To allow new things into

what has become your reality.


Amen?


I'm not sure when it happened, or what is was

that turned me around.

But

one day I realized

I was OK with cherries.


Me and them,

them and I,

uh... the cherries and myself,

me and the fruits,

we were buds.


You should be buds with us too.



And if you'll please excuse me for interrupting


the literary flow here,

I feel led to interject what I can already predict


would be The Chief's reaction to all the above information:


(Would be, that is, if he ever actually read my blog)


The Chief:  "Lu, why on earth do you feel the need to go on and on about why you do or don't like cherries?

All you need to say is: ''I used to dislike cherries.  Now I like them. Here's the recipe."

Isn't that easier?

More precise?

To the point?

Less wordy?

Less time consuming for the reader?"




Me:  "Well,  Thank You ,

Chief,

for your appreciation and support of my ability (irritating propensity?)

to

"Flower-Up" the mundane.

Excuse me for making EVERYONE'S life more exciting.


And so we go...

 
Back to the saga.


On occasion,

in a fit of niceness,

I buy The Chief a bag of dried cherries

at Sam's.

I do this obviously

because I know he likes them.


That, or  I shamelessly use them as a bribe.

Although I think he's kind of figured out
that he could just buy his own bag
and really not have to deal with me at all.


Depends on the circumstances, I suppose.



Anyway I had this bag of dried cherries...


And now I have Dried Cherry Crumb Buns.

Please try to say that fast 3 times...



Now let's do this.

OH!

And because of several requests, I will put the condensed version of the recipe at the end of the Step-By-Step.  That way, you should be able to cut and paste it to something you can print out.

And yes, it will hurt my feelings if you go straight to the end and skip the pictures and all the fun.

But whatever curls your toes!




Here's what you need.


Brown sugar, eggs, flour, sugar, butter, dried cherries, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and buttermilk.


And let's just get past the butter issue.

I've decided I will no longer apologize for my excessive use.

I have enough to deal with.

All the running, and exercising and heart monitoring that I have to do myself...


I hope you're all OK with that.



First preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Next, lets take a good look at my brand new muffin pans before they get all gross and gunky like the rest of my bakeware.


I'll remember them fondly...



Grease AND flour the muffin pans.

I know this sounds excessive,

but I'm looking out for your psychological health, OK?




Now, in a medium mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups flour, 1 T. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. cinnamon.  Set aside.


 

 Next, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 1 stick softened butter and 1 cup white sugar until fluffy.  About 3 minutes.





Add two eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.


And no, there is not a little dot on the egg yolk.

Please go have your eyes checked.




Remember to beat well after each egg.  You're whipping air into the batter- fluffy!


Now beat in 1 tsp. vanilla



I am particularly enamored of this brand.  But use any brand of pure vanilla extract you like.


But if you care even one whit about me,

you will never, ever use imitation vanilla.


Did you know almost all vanilla is either from Tahiti, Mexico, or Madagascar?

That might come in handy if you're ever on Jeopardy.

"Alex, I'll take Obscure Facts about Vanilla for $500."


Purty!


Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, in three additions, beating well after each.



Don't worry if the batter looks a little curdled with the first addition of buttermilk - it will soon be smooth...

as Butta...


Stir 1 1/2 cups dried cherries into the batter.


I roughly chopped up the cherries, but you can leave yours whole if you want.
 Spoon the batter (I used a cookie scoop) into the muffin cups.  You don't want to fill them more than about 1/2 full.  Please trust me on this.

It is best for you.
For the world.


 You've got to leave lots of room for the crumb topping.  The crumbs are the star of these buns.



Now let's make that topping!

In a medium-size bowl, mix 2 1/4 cups flour and 1 1/2 cups unpacked light brown sugar.


 Using a pastry blender, cut in 2 sticks (I say proudly) of butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

 Pretty soon, you're gonna love your pastry blender.

I bet you start sleeping with it under your pillow.


 Sprinkle the topping over the buns, being sure to keep the crumbs within the muffin cups.

You should have plenty of crumbs to put a nice thick topping on each.
If you don't eat too much of it.


 Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.  Don't let them get too brown please!



 Crumb Buns!




 The buttermilk gives the bun a very tender crumb...

I think you'll be happy you became buds with me and the cherries.

The cherries and me.





Here's the condensed recipe:

DRIED CHERRY CRUMB BUNS

Buns
2 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups dried cherries

Topping

2 1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. unpacked light brown sugar
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour 24 muffin cups.

To make the buns:  In a medium-size bowl, stir together the flour, the baking powder, the salt, and the cinnamon.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Beat in the vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, in 3 parts, beating well after each addition.
Stir the cherries into the batter.
Spoon the batter into muffin cups.

To make the topping:

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and brown sugar.
Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle topping over buns, being sure to keep crumbs within muffin cups.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.

Enjoy!




Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Don't Panic

Once or twice in my life a day,

I don't plan well.


There have been those instances, albeit few and far between

(I lie)

when I looked up at 4:57 PM and realized I had no plan of action for dinner.


And having a plan of action for dinner is important if one is going to have

er... well, dinner.



You have to be smart.

You have to be wily.

You have to breathe deeply

and pull off the impossible.


You have to make a "Panic Meal".


Now, to be completely honest,

I do not recommend the "panic meal" approach.

It's not for the novice or the fainthearted.


Who am I kidding???

ANYBODY can make a panic meal,
and chances are no one will ever know.

Except The Chief.

He's on to me.



First, go to your pantry.


Marvel at how incredibly disorganized it has gotten.

Remind yourself not to buy anymore non-stick cooking spray.

But don't marvel long - we don't have the time.


Locate something, anything to start with.


I found  'ready to cook' (no boiling required) lasagna noodles

and a jar of pasta sauce.

It looks like we're making Last Minute Lasagna.



I dug through the fridge and found a half of a red bell pepper, and half an onion.



Heat up a little olive oil and throw in the sliced onion, bell pepper, and two cloves of garlic, chopped.

I really like Bertolli's - I buy it by the gallon.

And I can pronounce it.

I like to stick with brands I can pronounce.



Don't put the heat up too high - nice and gentle.  You're just trying to coax some of the sweetness of the veggies to the surface.


Throw in some salt, and while you're at it throw in some dried herbs.

 In case you hadn't heard, putting salt on veggies when they are sauteing pulls moisture out and softens them up!

** And I think the above picture is really the one when I added the sugar - looks like way too much salt!

I used thyme and basil (because I'm trying to get rid of some of my half empty jars).

Does that make me sound pessimistic?  Should I say half full?

In case you were wondering, very little measuring goes on when I'm in panic mode.  But I'm guessing that's about a quarter teaspoon of each.


Go ahead and throw in a little sugar and then some butter.


Or vice versa.

Or is it Willy Nilly?


Please don't question me when I'm in panic mode!

The order of things doesn't matter!



Things move along much more quickly when you just blindly follow my
incomprehensible instructions.

Thank You.



Now, while that concoction is cooking,

mix together some ricotta cheese

(or you could use cottage cheese),

1 egg, and some grated parmesan.


Stir it up really good.

I threw in some parsley flakes - because I had 'em.

It's really amazing- the things I find in my pantry.

There's also a garden shovel and a trowel in there.

But I didn't need them for this recipe.


Set the ricotta mixture aside.



Now take the vegetable mixture out of the skillet and put it in a bowl.

Marvel at how much it cooks down.

You should probably use a whole onion and a whole pepper - just sayin'.


Find SOME KIND of meat.

I had 2 half packages of bulk breakfast sausage.



You could use ground beef, ground turkey, or even chopped up cooked chicken.

Or if you want to go meat-free,

throw in a bunch of mushrooms!



I browned the sausage with a little fennel seed

(to make it taste more Italian and less Jimmy Dean)

Then I dumped my jar of pasta sauce in with the browned meat.



Will someone please send me a new wooden spoon?


Honestly,
This one is just embarrassing.


Now,

Time to assemble the whole hodge-podge.

Start with a layer of sauce on the bottom.


Then a layer of lasagna noodles.


A layer of the ricotta mixture...


This is where I threw in the sauteed veggies.



Repeat all your layers, ending with sauce.

Then cover it all with a layer of Mozzarella cheese.


I had some fresh Mozzarella, but any kind will do.

Throw it in the oven at 375 degrees.

Cook it til it's done!

About 45 minutes.

Browned food tastes good!


I filled my baking dish a little too full and it ran over in the oven.

There was smoke.

Just added to the whole panic aura.


It was yummy.

The Chief never suspected a thing.

I served it with homemade cheesy basil  bread!

You'll like it,

I think!

And no, I'm thinking we probably shouldn't count the carbs.

I don't need the grief.



Look for The Weege tomorrow.

Lu