Tag Archives: love

Stir it Up

Just some soy sauce, chili oil, green onions and garlic. That’s all you need to add flavor to your stir fry, no matter what it is you’re stirring up! I’ve used this with veggies, chicken, beef, shrimp… Over the years since I started using this simple sauce, I have tried prepared sauces from the store and always been left with disappointment at the flavor. So, I stick with what works.

Stir Fry Sauce

  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3-4 green onions, green and white parts
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Oil*

What to do: Press garlic into a small bowl (I use a Small Prep Bowl that holds 1 cup), slice green onions and place into same bowl. Pour soy sauce over garlic and onion until covered. Pour a couple drops of chili oil into this. (Use more to taste. I don’t like things too spicy, so I just use a couple drops.)

Yup. That’s it. Now you just need to stir-fry your meat and veggies (small batches so you get a little browning. If you overcrowd the pan, you’ll end up steaming the food instead of getting the carmelized yuminess that you want.), and when they’re all cooked up, return all to the pan, make a well in the center and pour in the sauce. (If you want to thicken it and make it a little glossy looking at the same time, you can add a bit of corn starch and water, too) Stir this all up, and share with Friends.

* To make your own chili oil, use about a cup of oil (peanut oil is a good choice, but you can use whatever cooking oil you have/use) and about a tablespoon of chili flakes. Heat in a pan on the stove. Once cooled, transfer to a glass bottle and store in the fridge. The longer it sits, the hotter the oil becomes.

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Let Them Eat…

A sleepover birthday party for the boy child. This means a house-ful of pre-teen boys. And THAT means food…and lots of it. It also means I had the pleasure of being part of great memories for a group of young boys. They will hopefully forever remember the night their friend’s mom bought too many pizzas (who knew there was such a thing for so many boys, huh?), made brownies for dessert (while they were here, so they were yummy and warm and they got to smell them while they were baking), let them run through the house with nerf guns, play video games, watch movies, eat, drink, eat some more, be loud…oh AND their friend’s mom even attacked them with silly string. Not once, but twice. Now THAT was the best laughter I’ve ever heard, and I was even able to snap a group picture of them all while I was shooting the string at them. They will each get a copy of the picture to help them remember the fun night.

We have leftover pizza and leftover veggies (now made into tonight’s stir fry), and possibly some Otter Pops in the freezer (hard to tell… I did find an awful lot of wrappers around the house today 😉 ), and as I said earlier, memories of the laughter and happiness echoing through the house.

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I’m a Flake

Yes, you read that right. I’m a flake! Finally, after years of practice and being taught many times by self-proclaimed “flake experts”, I have finally, yes, FINALLY made a perfectly flaky pie crust!

Yup, 45% of you voters got it right! My surprising kitchen success was a flaky pie crust. Many people are often surprised to learn that I use “cheater” pie crust most of the time, simply because the frustration of pie crust was too much for me and since I didn’t enjoy making it, it just was never worth the frustration.

So, why the change of heart? Why make my own pie crust after deciding to give up on it years ago (with a few failed attempts after making that decision, helping me stick by that choice!)? Funny story.

I have a friend, I’ll call him Dean, who in a matter of just a few weeks heard me talk excitedly about cooking. Everything from homemade bagels (for which I’ve just realized I still owe you a recipe and pictures! Must see what I can do about that soon, huh?) to roasts, cookies and basic dinners (yes, even my corn dog dinner and kitchen “mishaps”!). Well, one night in December, he invited me and my kids over for a game night and dinner with his daughter. Upon our arrival, he proudly announced that I was going to make pie crust. This was, obviously, laughable to me. But he insisted that it is easy and that I could do it. He patiently talked me through every step (though he really did much more of the work than I did!) and there it was… perfect pie crust. (Which I secretly decided I would probably never make, but was glad at his attempt to teach me.)

Fast forward a few months. It’s Mother’s Day weekend and I have decided that for my Mother’s Day dinner (that I would be cooking for myself) I wanted to have a Quiche, made with goose eggs from Triton’s Farm. So I contacted them and arranged for delivery of 3 goose eggs, along with a dozen duck eggs (for my breakfast that my awesome kiddos would serve me in bed. 😉 ). And then my kids asked me if I remembered how to make the pie crust like D taught me. Um, maybe? Kinda? I think? I’ll give it a shot! With the boy reminding me to add salt (I rarely add it to anything, so I know I would have forgotten!) and the girl asking me if I remembered the measurements, and both by my side, anxious to see if it would flake or flop, I got to work and was pleased to end up with an amazingly flaky, buttery pie crust for my Quiche. Below is the measurements, kinda… but I can’t explain the technique… so I hope you know what you’re doing! 🙂

PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • salt (1 tsp?)
  • 1 cup butter (put in freezer to make sure it’s super cold)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ice water (this is a technique thing… I don’t know how much, several tablespoons, I guess?)

The egg yolk I think was the trick! Oh, and NOT working the dough too much! And keeping it cold. Sorry I’m not more helpful on how to actually make it, but, as you know, I’m a FLAKE! (Who can now make flaky pie crust! THANKS D!!!)

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…To be Continued

It’s time for some upgrades to That Cook Girl! My server goddess will be transferring my blog data to a new platform this week. What does this mean to you?

  • If you are a current subscriber, you will need to resubscribe once the new platform is up and running.
  • My posts-in-progress about the Farmers Market, Quiche, and my newest kitchen success (stay tuned! I’m excited about this one, and it is one that may surprise many of you!) are on hold until I come back up under the new platform.
  • And, I think that’s it. The web address will remain the same (www.thatcookgirl.com) and you can still find me on Facebook

I leave you now, with a picture of my Mothers Day dinner that I made yesterday, which I will tell you more about in my next blog post, once I return, which I think will be later this week? I don’t know anything about server stuff, etc… My Sis takes care of all that, for which I am always thankful!

Mothers Day Dinner… To Be Continued

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Fortunate

“Kung Hee Fat Choy” (or Happy New Year… Chinese New Year, that is!)

I am fortunate enough to have been able to share a blessed Chinese New Year dinner with my 2 favorite kids. I hope you will all benefit from this fortune cookie message in this Year of the Rabbit: “You will enjoy peace and harmony in your home”

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The Year of the Rabbit

Today is the Chinese New Year. And I forgot all about it! I arrived at work this morning to find baskets filled with goodies and New Year wishes “Kung Hee Fat Choy”. It is now the Year of the Rabbit. A lucky year that will be followed by my personal favorite, the Year of the Dragon, next year (I was born in the Year of the Dragon and find the creature to be fascinating, but I think that’s a blog post for another day. 😉 ). This year, though… THIS year is my son’s year. The Year of the Rabbit. A lucky animal, indeed.

Several years ago, I began celebrating this holiday with my children, simply because we like to celebrate things and it’s a good excuse to eat Chinese food. Tonight’s dinner plans are now changed. The Tamale Pie will be frozen and can make it’s way onto next week’s menu instead. (It’s a lucky year already! I’ve got a dinner ready for next week, and it’s not even the end of this week, yet. 🙂 ) I will pick up some potstickers and some other of the kids’ faves on my way home. We would usually cook up a big Stir Fry, and had I remembered, I would have made some Chinese BBQ Pork as well. But tonight will be about sitting around and celebrating the New Year together with some fun Coloring Pages and crayons instead of making a mess of the kitchen.

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Garlicky Goodness

I never get sick. Well, rarely, anyway… I just don’t. I have had the flu only twice that I can recall (and no, I don’t get the flu shot, never have). In recent years, I’ve suffered the symptoms of the common cold only a few times. Generally, I can recognize the onset, up my healthy food doses, get some extra rest and symptoms subside before I ever break open a box of Kleenex.

Not this time. No, this past weekend found me wiped out from exhaustion and the most awful cold symptoms I’ve had in a very long time. I tried to stop it. I did! I took extra vitamin-c, ate oranges, fresh veggies and tried to rest. It didn’t help. Not even a little bit. And I have spent 2 days trying to figure out why this cold hit me so fast and so hard that there was no way to stop it. It was at lunch today that it occurred to me.

Today was our company Christmas lunch. One of the menu choices was a crispy garlic chicken. I contemplated the steak or the sea scallops, but the garlic was just crying out to me. Garlic makes everything better. Including your health. Garlic has amazing healing properties. It has been shown to prevent things from the common cold to cancer. If you don’t have fresh garlic in your kitchen, go buy some TODAY and learn to cook with fresh garlic. Your health will thank you.

So, over the last couple crazy months, I have left a lot of the cooking to my kiddos. They are pretty good little cooks, but have a limited menu for items they can cook on their own with no supervision from me. This means my usual garlicky goodness dinners have not been abundant. There’s been far more convenience foods than I care to admit, as well.

When I realized today how little actual cooking I’ve done recently, and then realized that not only did this cold hit ME hard and fast, it had also hit my girl child earlier in the week, just as hard and fast, I decided it’s time to get some garlicky goodness back into our diets!

This week is crazy, but there’s no time like the present time to get our health back on track. Are ya with me?! What will YOU add garlic to this week?

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Comfort on a Plate

Comfort on a Plate

I think everyone has 1 specific meal that brings them comfort. No matter what is going on in their life at that very moment, they can enjoy that meal and feel immediately better, all their worries melting away.

For my kiddos, when they have a bad day, or when they’ve been away from home for awhile, or are about to leave for awhile, the request is almost always Salisbury Steak with Mashed Potatoes. Tonight they got their “Comfort on a Plate”. It’s been a pretty crazy week for us, and giving them this treat was the least I could do for them. Yesterday we picked the last of the potatoes from the garden, and we had some burger patties left from cheeseburgers on Sunday, so it was a logical choice, really. I also pulled a can of beans from the pantry and cooked up the rest of the carrots from the farmer’s market to round out the meal.

I admit, I do not always cook from scratch and I do buy canned veggies to have on-hand. Hey! I never said I was perfect!!! 😉

 

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I Like to Share

Dinner with Loved Ones

As you know, I love to cook for people! This weekend was a bit of a treat for me, getting to cook for my sis, who I rarely cook for and her foster daughter (the kid) who was getting to experience a dinner in my home for the first time. On Saturday morning, my sis took the kids fishing while I went shopping and to spend some “me” time. By the time I got home, everyone was waiting for dinner (which ended up being very late… but it’s a Holiday weekend, so that’s ok, right? 😉 ) I made Mom’s Stuffed Green Peppers (recipe to follow in a few days), baked potatoes with mushroom brandy sauce (this recipe will also follow sometime this week), and a big ol’ salad topped with tomatoes I picked up from the Farmer’s Market. When the kid saw the platter of salad she excitedly asked “Are you going to take a picture of that?” (This is something she thought was odd about our family at first, but by the end of pickle makin’ weekend she thought it was pretty neat.) But her real excitement came when I told her that the ranch dressing sitting atop her colorful salad was homemade! I wish I could have captured the look on her face. It was pure excitment and joy and it filled me up with excitement and joy, too. I hope the kid enjoyed her weekend here, and will always have good memories to look back on of her time with our family.

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Gettin’ Pickled

Two weeks ago was “pickle-makin’ weekend” at my sis’s house. I joined my parents, my sis and her foster daughter, and my own kids (who had arrived on Friday afternoon with my parents, as I was at a training and not arriving until nearly midnight) for the weekend on our quest to get pickled!

Mom & Dad picked up the cukes and other supplies needed for the pickling extravaganza, including snipping all the dill from the plants in my garden (I was hoping that big ol’ thing that was out-of-control was going to be useful!)

We had a great time all day, the kids were helpful… the girls were helpful by staying out of our way (at least I think that’s what they have made themselves believe. 😉 ) and the boy was helpful and learned how to make pickles, like my Great Grandma used to make!!! I’ll share the recipe with you, and you can see my sis’s video in her post about the weekend (linked in the first paragraph). As a reward for the all the boy’s hard work, the girls did all the dishes while he got to sit and relax. And he got to be the one to try the very first pickle out of the jars!!!

So, why did I wait 2 weeks to tell you about gettin’ pickled? Because it is 2 weeks from pickling day that the hard work pays off and you get to open the first jar and give them a try. Which means that TODAY, while my sis and her foster daughter were here, we opened the jar and watched as the boy child chose his pickle and took the first bite. And it was good. (And he is still alive, so we must have done it right, huh?)

 

 

Want to make your own pickles? Here’s the recipe:

Mom’s Dill Pickles
(Well, my Mom’s Mom’s… so that would be my Great Grandma)

Put 1 quart cider vinegar, 1 quart water, and ½ cup pickling salt together in a non-reactive**** saucepan and boil for a few minutes. Then pour the mixture over small cucumbers which are packed tightly into jars along with garlic, peppers, and fresh dill. (Ratios to your taste.) Process in water bath for 15 minutes.

I got to take home 28 of the 54 jars of pickles, because of my larger family. For those of you who think this sounds like a lot of pickles… well, today for lunch, we ate half a jar. My kiddos love to take pickles for their lunches and I like to put them out as a snack when we have people over, and then of course there is potato salad, sliced pickles on sandwiches, chopped pickles in tuna sandwiches… the list could go on and on… So… I think we might have enough to last us the year…

::Notes taken from my sis’s post:

** We are not bound by these guidelines, but if we want to enter things in the county fair, they must be made to USDA standards. Oh, and it’s meant to be safer.
*** Ratios of water/vinegar have been changed from the original to be in line with what we made. Dad also points out that some of the reasoning for this is that ‘in the olden days’ vinegar was more acidic that it is today.
**** Non-reactive saucepans are a stainless steel, chip-free enamelware pan, or glass pans.

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