The other night I tried on my favorite winter pants and they were skin tight, so this is the last of the baking I’ll be doing for a good long while.
Do you know about the Kitchenaid stand mixer shredding chicken trick? Put cooked chicken breasts into the Kitchenaid with the paddle attachment, lock the head, turn it on the first speed, and after 1-3 minutes you have shredded chicken. After telling a coworker I was met with a dubious stare, so on Sunday while prepping dinner I took pictures of the process and sent the photos to her—it is like magic!
One of my favorite parts of the week is meal planning. I meal plan, shop on the weekend, and tend to cook all of our food on Sunday. My favorite sites for meal planning and tasty recipes are Budget Bytes and Skinny Taste–I have yet to find a dud! Here is some of what I’ve been cooking recently:
J’s birthday cake!
The Mr. requested a “chocolate cake with vanilla filling and caramel frosting.” …he really likes sugar, if you cannot tell. The first vanilla filling recipe I tried TANKED, and TANKED in a bad way. I now really, really hate gelatin. But that is neither here nor there, and take two of just butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar did the trick!
J’s lunches tend to be tuna noodle salad or a sammie of some sort (other than the week he requested to have my kale salad). My lunches tend to be the aforementioned kale salad (kale run through the food processor mixed with a homemade dressing, beans, a grain like couscous and whatever veggies are on hand) or lentils and spinach.
I made this when N and her husband came to town. It was so tasty! I used broccoli (frozen), onion, garlic, carrots, zucchini, and homemade tomato sauce with the noodles and cheese.
Strawberry shortcake is one of N’s favorite desserts and I made a recipe that was easy to make small portions of. She could not stay long because she had some errands, so I made her some to go!
Beef tips and rice
J requested beef tips and rice, and almost EVERY recipe calls for corn starch. I was not a fan of putting that into my food, so for this I cooked down onion, garlic, mushrooms, and beef, and then to thicken it I cooked green beans and ground them up with my immersion blender. It worked so well! Well…it was more like dirty rice, but there were no complaints on the taste.
I will firstly acknowledge that some of the tips below will make me sound like a kitchen jerk. I have accepted that about myself. Now let’s carry on.
I always have an eye for the “kitchen tips” when I read social media forums. I have come across true gems and awful duds, and then there are those that make me roll my eyes. Take for instance, “FLUFFIEST PANCAKE EVER! tips.” Those usually involve adding some random ingredient that will truly result in the most life-changing fluffy pancakes of your life. Umm…no. In my life experience, with any recipe (I cannot vouch for pre-made mixes because I do not use them) but getting sky-high fluffy pancakes is all in your technique. I am a pancake snob and like mine so much that I will not bother ordering them in a restaurant because I always have smooth fluffy pancakes when I make them. My technique/tip is LEAVE THEM ALONE. For such a happy food, in getting them to be awesome they do not play nicely. I thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients in their own bowl. I beat the eggs for a good long while, and then mix the eggs with the wet ingredients in their own bowl. Then with as little jostling as possible I stir the wet into the dry, pouring in the wet as I incorporate the two to make sure they are not jostling a lot. When I put them on the (sizzling) hot griddle, I don’t mess with them till time to flip. Flip once, cook on the other side, and done. Fluffy, sky high pancakes.
Another is scrambled eggs. Another item I’ve heard “add this” or “add that” for “truly fluffy pancakes.” Again, I’ve had fluffy scrambled eggs with just eggs and a dash of milk (though if I have plain half-n-half on hand milk will be trumped). It boils down to your heat. The egg liquid measure when placed into a screaming hot pan screams in return, cooks too fast, and gets tough. Instead, put them the egg mixture into a cold (Pamed or buttered) skillet, turn the heat on low, then busy yourself with other items while keeping an eye on them. When the eggs are looking a bit firm, it is time for a solid stir with a spatula, then carry on again (but stay closer). When cooked over a long time over low heat they are tender (awful word) and fluffy and in the T family opinion, perfect.
Finally, hard boiling eggs. I have read so many tricks about how to make peeling hard boiled eggs easier and what I have found to consistently work well is peel them after you drain and rinse them. Finger tips may get hot, but the shell comes off immediately!