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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Out With The Old

It’s appropriate that my 10th post coincides with the new year: both mean the start of something fresh. This blog was given to me as an early Christmas present, and while I’ve always wanted a soapbox (opinionated bitch, here), I admit I was unsure about my resolve; my ability to be consistent rather than lazy (as evidenced by my last post). Russell suggested that I update every Monday, Wednesday and Friday so readers know when to expect something and so I can stay on top of my game. But, truth-be-told, I’ve quit a lot of life’s games. My company pays for a gym membership when sleep is my favorite sport. As a smoker, I’m a chronic quitter; my routine goes from on the wagon, to in the closet, to social, to chain, to tracheotomy candidate. I seem to love the idea of projects more than the followthrough.

But this blog has felt special from the starting line. I think the difference is passion. I might never be an enthusiastic nonsmoker, but my little slice of web space has been irresistible in its magic. I get to shove my opinion down your throat AND you thank me for the meal? Twofer! My hope is that the dedication it takes to fill your gullets with foodie goodness will be beneficial for my real life, as I want 2012 to be the year of getting crap done. For example, I want to lose ten pounds. The trick won’t be shedding the weight, but keeping it off while running a site that encourages not only happy fatness, but innovative happy fatness. Any other year, the challenge of working around two contradicting elements like that would’ve led to an early dismissal (again the means are more seductive than the ends). But I’ve been feeling a second wind lately, a need to do better. I think that might be the blog’s fault. I dunno, we’ll see how well I keep up with the triweekly structure, and how fat my ass doesn’t get.

Here’s to newness. Cheers.

Maple Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bars

Crust:

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup granola, ground (I used Nature’s Path Organic Hemp Plus Granola)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup ground walnuts

Filling:

1 package cream cheese (8 oz)

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp maple extract

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp salt

Maple syrup (optional)

Preheat oven to 350˚. Butter 9×13 glass baking dish. Melt butter and cook until browned. Butter goes from browned to burned very quickly, so watch it. Remove from heat. Combine the remaining crust ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix well. Press evenly into bottom of prepared baking dish. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Meanwhile, add cream cheese and sugar to mixer and mix on low until creamed. Mix in eggs one at a time until blended. Add pumpkin, maple extract, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix until all ingredients are well blended. Pour batter over top of crust and bake for 25-30 minutes until center is set. Cool for 3-4 hours or overnight in fridge. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup if desired. Trust me, it’s desired.

I cannot stress how important buttering the dish is. I looked at the buttery crust and thought, “eh no big deal.” I was wrong and had a helluva time getting the bars out. But, oh man, they were still cheesecakey goodness. It has come to my attention that I like to Frankenstein the letter Y onto the end of existing words to make new ones. In speaking, like cooking, that’s just how I roll, baby.

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I Don’t Wanna

Nom nom - beefy goodness!

This post will be short and… well, its level of sweetness will be determined at a later time. Christmas is over. Hooray! As the eldest of four kids, a mother of three and a member of a Baptist family that throws shindigs with attendance that can approach triple digits, the holidays ’round these parts are anything but easy. So in an effort to reclaim simplicity (and sanity), everything I normally do here will be met with three simple words: I don’t wanna. While I could regale you with cutesy anecdotes, I don’t wanna. While I could delight you with elaborate Christmas dishes, I don’t wanna. And while I could give you the secret to life, love, the universe and all happiness… I don’t wanna. Instead, all I wanna do is reach deep into my white trash lineage and take the lazy way out:

Easy Peasy French Dips

With au jus.

Serves 6-8

One 3-4 lb beef roast

One can Campbell’s Condensed French Onion Soup

6-8 French rolls

Butter

Mayonnaise

Horseradish

Sliced Swiss cheese

Place roast in crock pot, pour can of soup over top. Cook on low 7-8 hours, high 3-4 hours. Remove roast, slice thinly or shred. Cut rolls open lengthwise and butter each side. Broil until toasted. Mix mayonnaise and horseradish to taste and spread on toasted rolls. Top with meat and swiss cheese and return to broiler until cheese is melted. Serve with liquid from crock pot as au jus. So simple even an overworked burnout like myself can do it.

For kicks I took the left over sandwich makings tonight and turned it into Philly Cheesesteaks. I just sauteed up some onions and peppers, added the beef and swiss cheese and stirred it until it was a mess of melty goodness. I put it on toasted, buttered French rolls and called it dinner.

I hope to catch up on my sleep this week and give you a glorious post on Friday, but right now, I don’t wanna.

Desert Island Diva

During my peanut butter tirade last week, there were a few ideas I edited out. Not because I was worried about offending those that might disagree with me (pshaw!), but because they were better suited for today’s recipe. Specifically, I omitted the idea of the Desert Island Five. Being the list makers that we are, we all have these. If I were stuck on a desert island, who or what are the five fill-in-the-blanks I would bring? For example, if I were stuck on a desert island, who are the five celebrities I would bring for… entertainment? *ahem* Johnny Depp, Alexander Skarsgard, Vince Vaughn, John Cusack and Chris Pine. Russell can come. He could start a fire or something.

I digress. The fill-in-the-blank I was originally referring to was food, and for me, peanut butter of course tops that list. (Does anyone not understand how I feel about this yet? I really cannot stress what a monster you otherwise are.) After that are bacon, vodka, cheese(s) and fancy, crackly bread. What do they all have in common? Universalness. Vodka is the drink you stuff into other drinks and bacon is how you teach vegans right from wrong. Cheeses and bread… we’ll get to them in a future post. For now, feast your eyes on what the aforementioned two become when they have puppies:

Please rise for the national anthem.

Bacon Vodka (you heard me)

One pound bacon, fried (you really don’t need a pound, but you can eat the 3 or 4 remaining slices, so it all works out).

One 750 ml bottle vodka – get something that you like, I used Svedka.

Add the fried bacon, bacon grease and vodka to a glass pitcher. Place in freezer for at least three hours. Once the fat at the top has set, remove it. Pour the bacon-infused vodka through a strainer into another container. Now the time consuming part. Filter the vodka at least two times through a paper coffee filter. I replaced the filter every time it got soaked. I only had to do it twice and got a pretty good result with very little sediment and grease left in the vodka. However, filtering a third time would be just fine. Voila! Bacon Vodka.

Now what did I do with this gift of goodness?

Lunch in a glass.

The BLT Martini (of course)

1.5 parts bacon vodka

3 parts bloody mary mix (I like the bold & spicy kind)

Avocado puree – 1 avocado, juice of 1 lemon, splash of Worcestershire sauce, pinch of salt, dash of pepper. Add all to blender, blend on high, adding heavy cream until puree becomes smooth.

Rim martini glass with Bacon Salt (find it here). Shake vodka and bloody mary mix over ice. Pour into glass and garnish with avocado puree. (I put it into one of those squeeze dispensers, like they have ketchup in at diners, so I could make a pretty little design on top of the martini.) Ya hey look, Cleveland Brown, garnish! Yes, I ended this on an in-joke for exactly one person.

ReKimmendations

Looks delicious? Read below.

Warning! The following post contains delusions of grandeur.

Because I am as kind and generous as I am white and trashy, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Actually, I’ll do you one better by cracking open my mental safe and sharing with you my recipe for world domination. The secret sauce of this blog, the distant hope of why it exists, is to establish a brand. I don’t want The White Trash Gourmet to just be a clever musing, but an attitude… a profitable attitude. In my fantasy world, the work I do here will be someday be iconic enough to justify stuff; the kind you buy with money. Cookbooks, T-shirts, calendars, cookware, kitchen appliances, etc..

That’s the pipe dream, anyway. If I’m to establish anything, however, I’ll first need to make myself synonymous with my work. I don’t just want to give you culinary goodness, but a personality that is opinionated and honest. And while I’m perfectly happy with throwing family and boyfriends under the bus for blogging gold, if I don’t also put myself out there for all to see, this entire site might as well be a grocery list. Hence, I’m launching a new feature called ReKimmendations. (For those that don’t know, my name is Kim and I’ve heard that puns are the highest form of humor.)

Too much fun with iPhone 4S!

I love to dine out and try to discover a new place each week (having 3 kids doesn’t always work with this, unfortunately), so why not share my thoughts and feelings about what I find? If a place does something unique, or does the traditional better than others, or maybe should be avoided at all costs, I almost feel like it’s my duty (as a foodie and opinionated blogger) to inform my faithful followers. Yes, I just spent the last 300+ words as a long, self-serving way of announcing that I will be reviewing restaurants.

The reason for this is twofold. First, it’s shameless cross-promotion. Until they give me a TV show, social networking is the most I’ve got. Second, since I insist on giving you my opinion, I have to make sure it’s totally honest. You may have noticed in my last post (Sweet Stuff) that I have no problem teasing what I don’t approve of until it curls up into a ball. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to most everything, but if I’m not always being me, I’m not doing my job. So, restaurants, be awesome and get a nice little plug here. Otherwise… you can find solidarity with the peanut butter haters.

Here. Go here.

Whew, that was a long intro. Now for the meat:

Today, the kids and I had to go to the dentist for check-ups. The verdict? We all need to come back for more work. Hooray! The last thing we deserved was to reward ourselves with a Christmas luncheon, but we were hungry and I felt bad for not having much in the way of groceries this week (due to my half-assed Christmas preparation I was playing catch-up). Katie wanted lunch, Sean wanted breakfast and Chris was just pissed that the sealant the dentist used tasted so bad. Suddenly, the lightbulb that lingers over my head (in the middle of my halo, wink) began to flicker and it came to me! Mama Kat’s. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall that I’ve been driving by for years and have always wanted to try. I’ve never seen a weekend without their parking lot packed, so it had to mean something. I used my new, super-smart iPhone 4S to confirm they had a full breakfast and lunch menu, then headed out.

That's a chubby-ass burger!

Walking in, I immediately got a good sign. As an elderly couple was leaving, the waiter called the gentleman by name and said, “I’ll see you Tuesday, so-and-so, we’re closed Monday for the holiday.” It was surprisingly busy two days before Christmas, filled with people picking up holiday pies and a very happy staff milling about. We were seated right away and our drink orders taken quickly. The wait staff was engaging and treated us like family (which, for someone with a large and loving family, is great). The menu is full of all kinds of goodies and breakfast is served all day. Katie chose the Chubby Chick’n Burger (complete with chicken fingers and chili), Chris got the Biscuits and Gravy with eggs, hash browns and bacon (a monster of a meal, but at 12, he’s already taller than I am), Sean got the Breakfast Burger (a cheeseburger topped with an egg and a side of home fries), Russell had the California Omelette and I had the Chorizo Burrito. When our waiter took our orders he gave us suggestions, taking Katie’s burger from a 1/2 pound patty to a 1/4 pound and having my chorizo cooked well-done so it wouldn’t be too greasy. I had the feeling he was part of the family business, as he mentioned he’d been baking pies all morning.

The counter. Duh.

The food came out quickly, but with an apology. Sean’s burger had been sitting too long, and whereas most places would’ve served it anyway, they owned up to their mistake and had a new one out to him ASAP. I appreciate the honesty of a screw-up over trying to pass off second-rate food. Trust me, I’ve made my share of hockey puck pork chops. I tasted everyone’s food (“hush child, it’s for my blog”). Everything was delicious and tasted like home. The chili on Katie’s burger had black beans in it and I swear I got a hint of beer, which is how I make it at home. Chris’ gravy was like my grandpa’s. The omelette not at all runny and my burrito had just the right amount of grease. Our drinks were refilled often and the staff engaged us in conversation. I pointed out that they all seemed really happy to work there, to which they joked and laughed about their fake smiles and antics.

I’m going back, no question. I must try their Eggs Benedict (the variety is huge!) and Chicken and Waffles (OMG!). Thanks, Mama, for a wonderful and filling meal. That you could silence 3 very different, very finicky tastes, while accommodating the large lunch crowd, is nothing short of a holiday miracle. And thank you, dear reader, for enduring such a verbose posting. I had a lot of ground to cover today, but it felt nice to take a break from recipes. I will try to introduce more new features soon, hopefully in way fewer words. The merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years to all!

Sweet Stuff

Christopher's Birthday Cake!

When it comes to sweets, my boyfriend says I have a child’s palette. Never mind my knowledge of fine wines, my appreciation of stinky cheeses or my understanding of how to marry both, when it comes to dessert, he tells me I might as well have ordered the kid’s meal, complete with chicken fingers, apple slices (even though I asked for fries, wah!) and a cup of milk. I have two thoughts on the subject. One, shut-up Russell. Two, maybe he has a point. In my world, no sugar is too sweet, no chocolate too rich. The heavier the cream? The heavier the awesome! And absolutely everything is made better with peanut butter. Elvis agrees with me on that last point and who are you to argue The King?

In fact, I’m about to launch into something of a peanut butter rant, but first a little disclaimer: I am an empathetic person and don’t wish to sound insensitive toward anyone with a preexisting condition, so if you have a peanut allergy (or some approximation) this post is not for you. Seriously. I don’t want to make you cry for how you are missing Heaven on Earth, nor would I want to be responsible for you getting all anaphylactic and dying. For everyone else, however, if you don’t like peanut butter, I don’t wanna know you. I’m a happy-go-lucky gal and very tolerant, but of my few deal-breakers, peanut butter is numero uno. You might argue it’s a difference of opinion and you’d be right. The difference is your opinion is wrong for hating on peanut butter.

My family is known for the peanut butter popsicle; a giant spoon of peanut butter that you eat leisurely while watching your favorite TV program. This has literally been passed down through three generations. And I’ve rarely had a bowl of plain vanilla ice cream, because why eat that when you can add a big glob of peanut butter? I’m not just passionate about this, but also a snob. I don’t buy anything but all natural, preferably chunky. There’s no reason that extra oils and sugar need to be added to make peanut buttery goodness. Peanuts have plenty of oil all by themselves and they only need to be ground up with some magic (salt) and they are good to go. Companies that sell you peanut butter with additives are just cutting their costs at the cost of good taste.

Okay, I think I’ve made my point (for now). To celebrate Christopher’s Birthday (which happens to be today) he requested Devil’s Food cake. I cheated and used the recipe in my handy-dandy Pillsbury Cookbook (click here to see it). When it came to the frosting, however, what are the odds it was centered around peanut butter? If you guessed 100%, gold star.

Doesn’t This Taste Like Butterfingers? Frosting

Frosts 1 cake

1 brick cream cheese (8 oz), softened

2/3 cup peanut butter

3 cups powdered sugar

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp cream (more or less)

Mini peanut butter cups – available at Trader Joe’s and Sprouts

Add all ingredients, except cream, to mixer. Start on very low speed or you will be covered in powdered sugar. Once ingredients come together, mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes until smooth. Continue mixing, adding cream one tablespoon at a time until frosting is of spreading consistency. Frost cake and sprinkle top with peanut butter cups. If you can’t get your hands on the mini ones you could use chopped Reese’s Cups, Butterfingers, salted peanuts, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, etc.. Don’t be afraid to be creative.

Did this post sound surly? It wasn’t. And so the fine people at Pillsbury don’t sue us:

“Delicious Devil’s Food Cake” The Pillsbury Cookbook Ed. Diane B. Anderson. New York: Doubleday, 1989. 91.

Broiling Etiquette

Smokey Tortilla Soup, all gussied up.

My house almost burned down yesterday. Discuss. Okay, maybe burned down is a stretch, but part of it was definitely on fire. My middle son, Christopher’s birthday is 4 days before Christmas. We usually try to celebrate it earlier in the month so it doesn’t feel blurred with the holidays, but last weekend was the best we could do this year. Of course this meant a family get-together was in order, and it started out great. Awesome food, delicious wine, a gorgeous cake (wait for Wednesday’s post), laughter and other clichés.

Then it happened.

One of my siblings, whom I love very much and shall remain nameless (although his initials are My Brother Matt), decided to warm up some nachos in the oven. (You know how little kids just want to snack at parties and sometimes won’t touch the “grown-up” food.) Instead of baking them, however, he decided to broil them at my mom’s encouragement. This might’ve worked, but for the fact he forgot to check on them and the entire baking sheet caught fire. I was the one who discovered the mistake – more accurately, I’m the one who smelled the mistake… from the garage, between walls and closed doors.

My mom suggested we throw salt on the fire, to which the fire said, “mmm, salt.” My brother-in-law suggested covering the baking sheet with another, less fiery one, only it didn’t fit. Then Russell had an epiphany: I own a fire extinguisher! After finding it beneath the kitchen sink, he removed the red safety pin and handed it to me. I looked at him a bit puzzled for a few tense seconds as I’ve never extinguished anything in my life. But my inner heroine prevailed and several poofs! later I had saved the day.

Now, I wanted to give you a recipe from the party, and while I could serve you this and be perfectly compliant with my self-touted white trashiness, I voted for the dish that was the big hit (and not just to my renter’s insurance). The appropriately named:

Smokey Tortilla Soup

Serves a crowd (8-12 depending on appetite)

Whole roast chicken (I got mine at Costco)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

3 carrots, chopped

2 Mexican grey squash, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 yellow squash, chopped

2 cans roasted tomatoes, undrained

2 cups frozen corn (I prefer the roasted corn from Trader Joe’s)

1/2 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp pepper

1 box chicken stock

2 cups water

2 chipotles

Shred chicken, removing skin. Heat olive oil in soup pot. Saute garlic and onions until onions are cooked. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked.

Serve with optional garnishes:

Crumbled cotija cheese or shredded cheese

Chopped avacado

Chopped onion

Cilantro

Sour cream or Crema Mexicana

Broken tortilla chips

This is a simple, versatile dish, so thick it could be called Smokey Tortilla Stew. It’s just the kind of comfort food yesterday needed – too bad it came before the fireworks. I love my family, I truly do.

Half-Assed Xmas

It dawned on me today that we’re more than halfway through the month of December and I’ve yet to mention the C word here. (I’m talking about Christmas, you dirty birds.) That’s about par for course, as I’m equally on top of my other holiday obligations. I titled this entry Half-Assed Xmas and for good reason. My tree is half decorated and half falling over. My house is half clean, for my son’s birthday party that is half planned. My shopping is half done, for about half the people I need to buy gifts for (and I only half care that this sentence ended with a preposition). I think I need some half and half for my White Russian, to keep me half-cocked.

Sigh. Not one present is wrapped and I’ve yet to share any baked goods with anyone. So who likes cookies? I can at least be a complete ass by getting my bake on and making everyone a wee bit fatter. And lacier. Hence:

Fat & Lacy Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 lb butter (2 sticks)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup molasses

The stuffs.

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups oats

1 cup coconut

1/2 raisins

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350˚. Cream butter and sugars, including molasses. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl. Add to mixer and blend just until incorporated. Do not over mix. Fold in oatmeal, coconut, raisins and dried cranberries.

Oh, you know it's hot!

Drop cookies by spoonful onto parchment paper or Silpat-lined cookie sheet. I only bake 6 at a time because they spread out A LOT! Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until center looks almost done. Cookies will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven. Allow them to cool on cookie sheet for 3 to 4 minutes and then remove to cooling rack.

These are very chewy and candy-like cookies, mostly due to the butter/flour ratio. Great for sharing or eating in bed as you cry into your Irish coffee over the stress of making everyone else happy. A little traditional holiday goodness from a very untraditional gal. Half yourself a merry little Christmas (see what I did there?).