Monday, May 21, 2012

Quick Bites

First, your musical interlude:

I am not the kind of music aficionado who has opiniony opinions on bands or is ever ahead of the curve in what's hip and cool music wise. I rarely go to concerts because "Ah! People!" But I've linked to The Lumineers Ho Hey before and now I'm really digging this song. It's on a topic I relate to: "Classy girls don't kiss in bars." Word. So: musical endorsement: The Lumineers. 

Since I am the unemployed loser of the family, it falls on me to make dinner on the days the 'rents are at work. I have a natural aptitude in the kitchen and actually kind of laugh at any of you that can't feed yourself. Okay, not really, but you should work on that. It's a useful trick, to be able to make food for yourself.

In fact, I so enjoy the kitchen that I kind of get annoyed when anyone else is in there when I'm cooking. "No! This is ME time!" I just jam. Music on, doing my chopping, dicing, sauteing, straining thing. It's not usually fancy, though it can be. I think I like cooking because I know what the hell I'm doing when with pretty much everything else I don't. It's a control thing.

As I'm trying to do a low-ish carb "diet" (I'm so far from perfect, it's annoying but I'm trying. I haven't had fast food in over a month, which is the same time that I haven't touched potato chips. Dr Pepper and french fries remain a problem but trying to limit to once a week. Since you asked.), I'm trying out a bunch of new recipes that don't involve just meat and potatoes, which is the go to norm for our family.

The best replacement for regular meat and potatoes is beans. High in fiber, filling, good for you. Or so I tell myself.

I found the following recipe in one of the many Sunset magazines that are littered throughout our house and it was quite the hit. It's a recipe for campfire Dutch oven cooking but I cook outdoors exactly never. (Do I look like I camp? Actually, I'd kinda like to start. I do enjoy a good moderate hike. Beers in the woods sounds good. Beer sounds good. Stupid low carb life.) It works just fine on the stovetop. I had minor modifications and my amended recipe is below. The original one is at the link. (Mostly I skipped their herb recommendations as rosemary can be overpowering and I'm not buying anything else just to throw a tiny bit in a pot.) This actually takes like no time at all and is stupid easy so I don't get to hang in the kitchen much when I make it, but for simple, one pot dishes, this one was pretty fabulous.

2 cans (15.5 oz. size) each cannellini beans and chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed (That's four cans total for those of you who are bad at math/weird directions.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 poblano chile, sliced (or whatever chile you have. I used Anaheim the first time; it was fine.)
4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 pounds cooked Italian sausages, such as Saag's or Aidells, cut into 1-in. chunks (I used Hillshire Farms smoked sausage, as we had one in the house. Any smoked sausage would work. You could use a raw sausage and cook it before making this but I think the smoked sausages had the right flavors. And that's an extra step. You don't want to take an extra step.)
Because I was indoctrinated into Tony's life in college: a healthy shake of that stuff all over.

1. Throw everything into your pot with 3/4 cup of water. Cover. Put on medium heat.
2. Check every ten to fifteen minutes and stir. Add more water if it gets dry (I did not have this problem, but just in case). When the peppers are soft and the sausage swells (stop it!), it's done. Enjoy!

I find this hearty, filling, and delicious, and a nice riff on traditional chili which can feel really heavy.

In addition to being the family dinner maker, I'm the family baker. If you've read any of my Christmas posts, I go a bit crazy at that time of year. I'm finally sick of it though as I've decided most of my family is made up of ungrateful jerks and my culinary prowess goes completely unappreciated. So I'm sort of giving up on it. Because I'm stubborn. But! Because I am broke and couldn't afford a fabulous mother's day present for my mom, I told her I'd bake her something each month for all of time. Or until I move out. Whichever comes first. She always bugs me to bake and I always resist. I'm actually not much of a sweets person. Every so often I'll be like, "Chocolate. Now." But mostly my weakness is potatoes. All the potatoes.

There are, however, exceptions. One of which is caramel crumb bars. These things are addictive. I'm gonna just start calling them crack bars. They were my mom's first request for her mother's day present. There is a plate of them sitting on the kitchen table and I do not have the will power to resist them. Stupid baking skills. If you have any baking skills yourself, I highly recommend these. If you don't, you can pay me $20 and I'll make them for you. You're welcome.

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