Monday, February 07, 2011

Ants Climbing A Tree

It's a good thing MCL was out of their crack veggie soup, because otherwise I might have simply enjoyed that with a big, puffy roll for dinner and Jell-o for dessert. However, I came home and made my adaptation of the Gourmet Cookbook version of the classic Szechwan dish, Ants Climbing a Tree. If the name wigs you out too much, you can always just call it spicy pork with noodles. I had broccoli and mandarin oranges with it. It is one of the yummiest dinners I've had in a long time, perfect for a chilly, snowy night.

Ants Climbing a Tree
3/4 lb. ground pork
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
6.5 oz. bean thread noodles
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
1 bunch scallions, thinly-sliced
2 tsp. Asian chili sauce (I was tempted to halve this, but I decided to be brave...and it was great)
1.5 c. chicken stock
3 tbsp. sake
1 tsp. sugar
Mix pork with 2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. rice vinegar, 2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. sesame oil. Let stand 20 minutes. Cover noodles with warm water & let stand 15 minutes. Drain and snip to 3-4" lengths. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is just starting to smoke, add garlic, ginger and scallion whites. Stir fry 30 seconds. Add pork and chili sauce and cook through. Add everything but 1 tsp. sesame oil and scallion greens. Bring to a simmer. Cook 3-5 minutes. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with scallions. Serves 4-6.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Puppy Bowl Chili

I actually don't even know if I'll watch the Puppy Bowl (I've been trying to get around to "Bolt" for ages now & will probably go for that), but this is a quick and easy chili for those who are not interested in the Super Bowl, but still want to get into the spirit of things with footballish food. Especially handy if you've done two worship services, a Confirmation class and a God and Family Boy Scout Badge session, then gone to the movies ("The King's Speech" if you're curious) and just want something quick, hot and yummy. You can drink a mug of Earl Grey to pre-warm you while you cook.

Take a pound or so of ground beef and brown it in a skillet. Drain it, if it needs it. If it's so lean that you don't think it'll need it, you might want a hint of Pam in the skillet before the meat. While the meat is browning, open a can of kidney beans (I like the dark ones and I am partial to the Joan of Arc for the same reason I root---in theory---for the New Orleans Saints) and a can or two of diced, chili-ready tomatoes. When the meat is sufficiently browned & drained, add the beans & tomatoes, along with an envelope of your favorite chili seasonings. Doctor with extra cumin, chile powder and cayenne, as you see fit. Pour in some beer, anywhere from a splash to 12 oz., depending on how beery and liquid you like your chili. I used 12 oz. of Leinenkugel Creamy Dark. Fling in some instant espresso powder and some unsweetened cocoa powder. I know some folks who swear by peanut butter, too, and I think that's just fine, too. Stir well, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer while you blog about what you're doing and finish your tea. You could make corn muffins to go with it, but really, when you're ready to settle in on the couch with a bowl of red & a Disney film, saltine crackers or tortilla chips are great, too. Feel free to adorn with chopped onions (for the ambitious), shredded sharp Cheddar or Monterey Jack and sour cream. Speaking of Disney, did you know Walt Disney was UCC? Yep, came as a surprise to me, too. Gotta love special guest speakers for Confirmation! Thanks, Jim Eller, for a fun stroll through basic UCC History!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Gooey Goodness for a February Night

I definitely do better at actually making dinner every night when I do a week's worth of shopping at a time and thus can just come right home and cook. Tonight, I was feeling heroic, so I cooked after stopping on the way home and doing a week's worth of shopping. Hee hee! It paid off in cheesy deliciousness. This is my version of an Ina Garten recipe, the original of which can be found at http:// . Jeannene got me a 3-book set of her cookbooks for Christmas & this is the first I've made from any of them. Ina's recipe is probably better than what I ended up with, especially since I completely forgot the basil, even though I was thinking while making it that it needed basil. Oh, my poor brain. But, here's how I did it. My version didn't turn pink, either, which was a complaint in some of the recipe reviews. It's ridiculously easy. Definitely not for dieters, unless it happens to be your splurge day. In that case, by all means, have at it!

Penne with Five Cheeses
2 c. heavy cream
1 c. canned whole tomatoes you have crushed by hand
3/4 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 c. shredded Swiss cheese (&#*! grocery didn't have Fontina...come on, it's not that exotic)
1/2 c. Gorgonzola, crumbled
2 heaping tbsp. ricotta
6 oz. mozzarella, thinly sliced and torn into pieces (I'd just shred it next time...not sure why she called for sliced)
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped (obviously, I omitted this)
1 lb. penne
1/2 stick butter
Salt to taste & for pasta water
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Mix everything but penne and butter together. Cook penne 4-5 minutes. Drain well and add to rest of ingredients. Toss to mix well. Place in 13 x 9 baking dish. Dot with butter and bake until bubbly and brown on top, about 10 minutes. Serves 6. Nice with Caesar salad and sourdough bread.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

February 2011 Planned Dinners

1-Cheesy scramble, toast, clementines
2-Soup & grilled cheese
3-Chinese New Year dinner out
4-Penne with 5 cheeses, salad, bread
5-Chicken schnitzel, mashed potatoes, lima beans, maple pecan sticky bars
6-Chili, cornbread, fruit
7-Spicy pork with bean thread noodles, broccoli, mandarin oranges
8-Scrambled eggs, sausage muffins, fruit
9-Wednesday Dinner Out
10-Sack Supper on the way to Rock & Worship Road Show w/Youth
11-Greek lentil & spinach soup, rolls, fruit
12-David's UCC Spaghetti Dinner
13-David's UCC Family at Five Valentine-Making Party & Potluck
14-Boeuf Bourguignonne, mashed potatoes, salad with blue cheese and walnuts
15-Dinner at my desk (leftovers/carry-out)
16-Wednesday Dinner Out
17-Parmesan chicken with mixed baby greens, baked potatoes/buttered noodles, baked apples
18-Penne with garlicky avocado cream sauce, salad, bread
19-Jeannene's birthday dinner at The Winds
20-Scampi, angelhair pasta, green bean salad with walnuts, fennel and goat cheese
21-Thai garlic beef, rice, broccoli
22-Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn
23-Wednesday Dinner Out
24-Breakfast casserole, fruit salad, English muffins
25-Sack supper on the way to Route 678 middler event
26-Dinners for Eight
27-Fish & chips Iberia, lima beans, salad
28-BBQ bistro chicken, rice, broccoli