Thursday, August 20, 2015

The wagon wheel salad experiment.

Back in June I put together a celebratory camping trip for my parents' 25th wedding anniversary. While it wasn't wildly attended, those who were able to make it made for a very good trip and a lot of quality catching up. The Sleeping Dragon Clan has drifted a bit (as much as people can drift with the wonders of Facebook in the world) and needed a chance to reconnect.

My sister, AM, and her partner put together an incredibly tasty pasta salad for the picnic that kind of stuck in my head. I was getting cravings for it and nothing ready made in the grocery store even came close. So I asked for the recipe and this is what I got;
"There isnt really a recipe. 
Its mayo a little mustard garlic powder onion 
powder I use garlic pepper. Salami red 
peppers and frozen peas."

Plus pasta of course. So I went to work and it is still a work in progress. I'm not terribly used to using garlic powder and it has a stronger flavor than granulated garlic or fresh garlic. Let's just say that those I've served it to so far are rather safe from vampires. But it's always tasty and I am getting better at my ratios. 

Of course I rarely actually measure things so the measurements are guesstimates, go with your own instincts and taste buds. 
**It should be mentioned that this recipe is best made the night before you intend to serve it. Plan ahead lovelies, it's well worth it. I promise.**
Assembled ingredients for my second attempt.

Wagon Wheel Salad
  •  2 cups cooked and cooled pasta. (I like to use wagon wheels, because I like the visuals and the texture)
Dressing (Again, these measurements are an estimate and you should trust your own instrincts and tastes to guide you.)
  • 3/4 - 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 heaping Tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons stone ground mustard 
Goodies (Can be really anything that appeals to you and your guests)
  • 1/4 lb deli salami, cubed
  • 1 can medium olives, quartered
  • 1 Roma tomato diced
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, sliced into bite size pieces.
Put salted pasta water on to boil and begin your prep work. 
When the water comes to a boil add in your pasta and good to just al dente, once the pasta is cooked drain immediately and rinse in cold water until the pasta is cool to the touch.
While your water is boiling and pasta is cooking, mix your dressing and prep your goodies.

Mix the garlic powder, onion powder, and mustard into the mayonnaise in a medium to large mixing bowl and set aside. 
Dice your tomato, salami, artichokes, and quarter your olives. Add everything into the mixing bowl with the dressing.
Once the pasta is cooled and drained, add it to the sauce and goodies mix and gently fold everything together. 
Transfer your salad to food safe storage container and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight) so the flavors can come together. 
Before serving, let the salad come back to room temperature for optimum flavor. About an hour on the counter should do it. 
Salad all blended together and ready for its sleep in the fridge.
As you can see I took a slight left turn from the original recipe, and now that I've looked at it again I do believe that the next rendition will involve those peas from the original. And maybe not the artichokes, perhaps some home canned dilly beans or pickled veggies. I love that vinegary spike of brightness. 

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Leave them below darlings. 
~Sleepy Ginger

Not cooking, burning. Woodburning that is.

My apologies for my silence this past bit, I've had non-cooking things taking up my focus. Mainly this majestic beasty.

With my father's help I made an inkle loom. The photos above track its progress from cardboard pattern sketch to the finished product. 3 yards and 10 inches of inkle woven trim. Not terribly bad. Not to say no cooking took place in all that time, just that I did a dreadful job of tracking it. So its time to play some catch up.
Everybody ready?
Good, let's go. 
~Sleepy Ginger

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Meatballs, apparently worth the hassle...

Happy Sunday Darlings, its the end of the weekend and I was strangely inspired.
I am not a big fan of periodicals (unless my YouTube subscriptions count?) but there is one such publication that I will read cover to cover multiple times. Cook's Illustrated by America's Test Kitchen.
The latest edition.
I adore the way they break down the whys and hows of a recipe, including documentation of their less than successful outcomes. (Remember folks, the difference between science and goofing around is writing stuff down!) Each issue teaches me new techniques and inspires thought. The latest issue included two page spread titled Sausage Meatballs and Spaghetti. It details all about how to use the flavorful sausage in your meatballs without having them become overly dense and/or dry.

It should be available in your local periodical retailer so for the full article go there. I really do recommend it. I personally own several years of their compilations and truly enjoy them.

I read that article a few days ago, then today while browsing Serious Eats (I am a food blogger for a reason ya'll) I stumbled across this gem. How to Make Quick and Easy Italian-American Red Sauce That Tastes Slow Cooked. Hello sexy! Serious Eats is one of my favorite time wasters, especially the Food Lab archives, because I'm not truly wasting time. I'm learning. So there.

These two recipes so close together felt like kismet to me so I braved the Winco weekend crowds and grabbed the ingredients I didn't have on hand.

I won't transcribe the Cook's Illustrated recipe as that smacks of plagiarism to me, but I will post a recipe for what I made as I had to make several adjustments based on volume and the palates of my diners.

Sleepy Ginger's Meatball variation
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 teaspoons water
16 oz ground pork
32 oz ground beef 
4 slices of hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving
3 large egg yolks
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon italian seasoning (rosemary, oregano, thyme)
Bread, cream, yolks, cheese, and seasonings before pulsing...

  • Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. Set wire rack in lined baking sheet and spray with vegetable oil.
  • Dissolve salt and baking soda in water in large bowl. Add pork and beef, fold gently to combine and let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Pulse bread, cream, cheese, yolks, garlic, and seasoning in foot processor until smooth paste forms, about 10 pulses, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add meat mixture (do not wash out bowl) and pulse until mixture is well combined, about 5 pulses. Transfer meat mixture back to empty bowl.
  • With your wet hands (or gloved hands if you loathe having dirty hands like me), lightly shape mixture into 1 3/4inch round meatballs (about 1 oz each); this is made easier with a #30 scoop. I got 42 meatballs from this recipe. Arrange meatballs, evenly spaced, on prepared wire rack and bake until browned. About 15 minutes, rotating the pan half way through baking.
  • Gloved up for protection, I loathe getting my hands dirty.
  • Remove tray from oven and bask in the glory of MEATBALLS!  Let rest for 5-10 minutes before either simmering into your sauce or packing away for later. I packed half of these meatballs away in the freezer for later meals, they should be good for 3 months but I highly doubt they will be in there that long. 

42 meatballs awaiting their trip to the sauna.

And after their 15 minutes in the oven, golden brown and delicious. And over exposed because I didn't turn on the rammit frackin' light before taking a picture. Patience pays.

Sauce, simmering away. The green is a sprig of fresh basil giving its brightness in the name of my dinner.

Tossed with pasta, plated, and Parmesan-ed. Not as thick as I wanted it, but still fairly good.

I must admit that I made a mistake tonight. I should have started the sauce before I started the meatballs to ensure it would have enough time to cook down. But I was relying too much on the word "Quick" in the recipe title. Quick for me means that I can have dinner completely done and ready to serve in 30-45 minutes. And perhaps I could have with this recipe but I didn't plan things out well. With a new recipe I should have left myself time for adjusting and I didn't. Sad, sad SleepyGinger.

But it was still good and the sauce that I didn't splash thinly over my pasta cooked down beautifully in another 20 minutes. So live and learn. 

Tasty trails my Darlings!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Burrito Bowls for the cilantro haters

I hate cilantro. Hate it, hate it, hate it! It tastes like soap to me and completely throws off my dining groove. While I do my best to pick it out there is inevitably one sneaky leaf that lingers behind to spoil my bite and leave me making faces like an infant having their first lemon.

But I'm not alone in this situation, it all comes down to genetics. For more of the science behind the issue I shall direct you to the wonder that is SciShow. Always a treat.

Back to the issue at hand. Burrito Bowls, lots of fun but that super tasty rice base is typically cilantro lime...  So clearly for the best outcome I was looking at a make at home dinner. Always cheaper than take out. I consulted the Facebook hive mind and concluded that the most likely substitute for the loathesome cilantro would be green onion, and why not add some garlic for kicks.

What follows isn't an exact recipe, since I prefer to cook by feel (aka didn't bother measuring). Combine to taste and based on what feels right to you. I BELIEVE IN YOU!

Garlic, Green Onion, and Lime Rice
2 cups white rice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock/ broth (Could be done with water but... Why intentionally skip out on a flavor possibility?)
*Zest of one lime (approximately 1 Tablespoon)
*Juice of one lime (approximately 1/2 cup)
1 heaping tablespoon of minced garlic
*- lime juice and zest could be replaced with 1-2 Tablespoons of TrueLime powder which is purely crystalized lime and a staple in the Sleeping Dragon pantry.

Combine all ingredients in the basin of your rice cooker and let 'er rip! Delicious aromas will soon flood your kitchen and power you through the rest of your dinner prep. Burrito bowls are fun, but a good deal of prep work involved.
DICED ALL THE THINGS! Spurred on by the scent of cooking rice. Talk about inspiration.
Burrito Bowl in all its beautiful completeness. You can't really see the rice in this pic under all of the other tasty layers of goodness, but it's there and it's vital. Believe me.

Tasty trails my darlings! ~SleepyGinger

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve 2013

It's New Year's Eve 2013, anybody have big plans?

I have a FABULOUS evening planned. Shredded curry chicken over rice with steamed broccolini and Angry Orchard Cinnful Hard Cider for dinner. Dexter on Netflix, working on crocheting, bed when I'm tired, and sleep like the dead. Introvert's favorite holiday.

We are alive, I swear. Just kicking off the kinks and working our way back.

Hope everyone had happy holidays.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Original Steer Meat Market (a return by GingerNinjer)

Dinner tonight is brought to you by slacker-dom yesterday. Crockpot roast chicken, seasoned with garlic and onion, cavity stuffed with sliced bacon ends. Served with rice and a little garlic Maggi seasoning, steamed broccoli on the side. Tasty. Hint of bacon reminds me of Mama. She loves bacon.

Rest of the meat is deboned and cooling. Carcass and guts are back in Crockpot... Stocking it up.

From one chicken (3.5 pounds for the curious) I am getting dinner tonight, a small casserole which will be at least 3 meals, AND two small pots of soup (one with tomato, one without) that will likely be another 6 meals. Stretching the chicken is key.(Does it sound like I'm bragging? That's not the intention... I'm just over sharing to make up for the lack of photos.)

I've been really quiet for a very long time and I have to apologize for that. But I'm facing a giant upswing in free time and will be using blogging, cooking, and crafting to keep the depression at bay during the job-hunt. Must have hobbies right?

But what does all of this have to do with the Original Steer Meat Market? I can explain. The Original Steer Meat Market is a block and a half from my front door. And I love it. I love to walk in and talk to the butchers behind the counter, some more knowledgeable than others. One younger man and I got into a debate about whether lamb and pork come from the same animal. Lamb. And pork. Yeah.

But I like the selection, I like the quality and I like that they don't give me a hard time about my wrapping requests. I'm a single female cooking for myself. In the fight against overfilling my refrigerator with leftovers I ask for the meat to be packed in half pound packages. And they don't even blink. In fact one girl (who's name I can't remember) and I chatted for a while about cooking for one and the wonder that is a Crockpot. Such a savior for the working stiff.

Also the place smells incredible (the do their own in house smoked meats), all of their pork products come from Carlton Family Farms a local homegrown source. Gotta feel good about that.

So, other than the lack of photos... Not bad for a return right?

What's on your menus?

~Ginger Ninjer

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday dinner courtesy of Dancing Roots Farm

Greens from our new farm share.

                        Red potatoes from this weeks farm share with leftover steak and Normandy vegetables.