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Wednesday, September 14

Supper Thyme Review Part 3

Meal #5: Sesame Ginger Chicken
We ate this one without the kids, but it could have fed us all. The flavor was a little odd, not bad, but just like 'what ingredients did we put in this?' strange. We got rice to go with it, and some frozen veggies. The rice, we had one of our pseudo-fights in the store, and I insisted on the one bag of rice, because it had chinese writing on it, so it must be good for chinese food. What a dork I am. It was sushi rice. It's STILL sitting in the fridge waiting to be thrown out!

Meal #6: Stromboli
This one was awesome, and we knew when making it, we'd all love it, and we'd have to make it again. Bread dough flattened, hamburger and pepperoni and cheese put in. Roll around the dough, connecting the edges, it's hard to get the edges to stick together. The guy (owner) at Supper Thyme showed us a 'trick', of putting a squirt of oil over the stuffed loaf, and sprinkling some Italian seasoning over the top. That makes a nice shiny top of the bread. It was very yummy. This is also very easy to make at home, though you'd have to thaw out the frozen bread dough sufficiently before you roll it out.

Meal #7: Grilled Ham
Making this one was super easy. There was just a few ingredients to mix together, and pour into a giant zippy bag where the ham was. It was tasty eating, but I found it rather salty.

Meal #8: Layered Burrito Bake
This one is one of the bigger meals to make. We mixed burrito-ish ingredients in a bowl (refried beans, meat, onions, sauce) and layered this meat mixture with tortillas and cheese. At home, we like the black beans better, so we would have used black refried beans, but this was still very good. Another rather simple one that would be easy to make ahead of time.

Saturday, August 27

Sadies

With the BFF's birthday coming up, and being kid-less this weekend, I figured we'd try something new on the PoGo card. I thought maybe we'd try the cajun place, but he wanted to try the chicken place. (His birthday, his choice--we'll try the cajun place in December)
Sadie's is a bar and restaurant connected to the Villager motel out on "O" street about 52nd, by the Barnes and Noble.
Walking in, it looks like a bar with the restaurant added as an afterthought, but that is definitely NOT the case. The food was awesome and the wait-staff was attentive, even though they were training new staff that night.
They specialize in chicken dinners. And by dinner, I MEAN dinner. You get sides that come to the table family style, so everyone gets to sample everything. They have several chicken dinners, all breast, all leg, (hmm, that sounded like a guy menu), one of each, however you like your meal. I saw something a little different on the menu, and just had to try it: Pistachio Chicken. It was a chicken breast with pistachios in the coating mixture. It was wonderful.
The meal was a bit slow getting to us, according to our wait staff, we really didn't notice, but they were very apologetic, and offered us free dessert. Even though we were using the PoGo card, so only paying for one meal. We did ask if we brought the whole gang some other time, could we use the PoGo card more than once, and they didn't have a problem with that. So we'll definitely do that.
This was one time that we actually brought home leftovers, and they pretty much fed us a whole second meal. That's pretty rare for our large appetites!

Saturday, August 20

Supper Thyme Review Part 2

In our last episode, the BFF and I had gone to Supper Thyme and made 12 meals...
We've eaten a few meals so far, and at work I got a visitor from the cinnamon roll fairy!

Meal #1: Sweet BBQ Meatball Sandwich
This was the sample meal they made the night we were cooking, so BFF and I had already tasted it. We both really liked it, but I thought it was too sweet. Same thing when we actually ate it. The kids picked that one as the first meal we'd try together. They loved it, too, but I still think it's too sweet! When we made the recipe, it was like a cup of ketchup and a cup of brown sugar, with other spices. That might not be exact, but it was a lot of sugar. Next time we make this, I will only put about half the sugar, and maybe compensate with some extra spices.
What this is, by the way, is meatballs in sauce, with cheese, wrapped in a bread dough crust. It was hard to get the edges to connect, so it was a bit sloppy. I'm glad they had us put it in a pan rather than the other similar sandwich meal that we just wrapped in foil. I think we just had salad with this when we ate it.

Meal #2: Guadalajara Grilled Shrimp
When we made this one at the Supper Thyme kitchen, BFF and I knew this would never feed all of us. So we cooked this while we were kid-less last weekend. Five skewers of six shrimp each, and we all love shrimp. The sauce was very good, lemon juice, and some pepper. This was meant to be grilled, but we don't have a good grill, so we did it in the skillet. We made some oriental noodles to go with it, and it made a great meal for the two of us.

Meal #3: Cowpokes
This was my favorite from just the description
"Cowpokes - Tender chicken breasts stuffed with a blend of pepper jack and cream cheese and wrapped with bacon. The added kick from the pepper jack will really spice up your dinner table! - 9 x 13 Baking Pan"
It did not disappoint! All meals were advertised as feeding 4-6, and this meal and the other meal that has individual servings, each had 5. Also, when we were making the meals, there were stickers to put on each meal, with baking instructions. This one said to mix ranch dressing and salsa for a sauce for the cowpokes, which BFF did. To go with it, he made cornbread stuffing with corn added. It was a good side dish. Probably my favorite overall. Also, good recipe to try at home or modify. Maybe at home, I'd just put the chicken breasts in the pan, put the cheese mixture over top, and then sprinkle with bacon bits.

Meal #4: Baked Spaghetti
We just ate this one last night. It was very tasty. In the cooking process, we mixed the plain, cooked noodles with garlic, parmesan cheese, and an egg, and put that into the pan first. We mixed the sauce and meat, and put that over the noodles, and topped with cheese. The layering made it a bit like a lasagna, and everyone loved it.

Extra Special Treat:
When we went to Supper Thyme, they had us write down our names and where we worked, so they could bring cinnamon rolls to our work. It's pure advertisement for them, pure cinnamony goodness for me and my workmates!
They brought 2 dozen great (although, unfortunately, a tiny bit doughy) rolls, and everyone at work got to hear how much fun it was from me. It's not for everyone, of course, after hearing how it works, one guy said "that's the absolute dumbest thing I've ever heard of." But one couple was excited to try it, and another woman signed up that very day.

Friday, August 12

Food Day

Most folks have pot lucks or food days as a semi-regular part of their lives. I've always enjoyed regular food days at the places I've worked, it has always given me an opportunity to try new recipes, and show off some of my favorites.
Since I've only been at the new job for a couple months, I've only experienced two food days so far, and I just bought stuff so far. So this time, I'm actually going to bring something homemade.
I was thinking about the crowd-pleasing corn salad that my mom makes. Corn, cheese, BBQ Fritos, mayo. But at this job, food day is a rather grazing kind of thing, people eating on stuff all day. Well, I am NOT making something with mayo and have it sit around all day! Also, with this recipe, you mix in the Fritos at the last minute, which is good and crunchy, but we always try to make the batch of salad small enough to not have leftovers, because the Fritos are soggy by the next day, also not good to leave out all day. So I've modified the recipe. Here it is:

Food Day Friendly
Corn Salad
2 cans white corn
2 cans yellow corn
1 can rotel-type tomatoes (with chilies)
1 small can chilies
1 can black olives
2 cups shredded 'mexican' or 'taco' cheese

drain all cans (cut olives into fourths, if you can't get pre-cut) mix with cheese. refrigerate overnight.
*my tip on draining the cans:
dump the corns into a strainer, then you can dump the tomatoes and chilies on top of the corns, that way, the little pieces of chili won't go through the holes in the strainer.

P.S. the modified recipe is sans crunch, because I didn't want soggy Fritos. I had considered putting in a bag of Corn Nuts, but I talked myself out of it. Do you think that might have worked?

Thursday, August 11

Supper Thyme Review Part 1

Very fun, good looking food, nice AND helpful staff, clean environment, lots of free soda. Overall, a great experience.
Even though we were early, they were completely ready for us, they gave us the instructions, and two lists, one to take home to put on the fridge, and a checklist to carry around with us while we were making our dinners.

Here's what we made:

Baked Spaghetti
Beer Can Chicken
Chicken Pot Pie
Cowpokes
Grilled Ham
Grilled Pork Chops with Spicy Corn Salsa
Guadalajara Grilled Shrimp
Layered Burrito Bake
Sausage Bread
Sesame Ginger Chicken
Stromboli
Sweet BBQ Meatball Sandwich

More specific reviews as we eat them!

Monday, August 8

Supper Thyme

AND!!!
We're signed up for Supper Thyme this week! We're going to make 12 meals in two hours, while actually being on a kinda date! We're very excited! And I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, August 6

Good supper

One fun supper we've discovered in our local market is a combo of a big frozen dinner plus a couple free things thrown in. Of course, it's just a sales gimmic, and you only save four and a half bucks, and as always, if you weren't going to buy it anyway, it doesn't matter if you get it free, BUT, the free things are things we would always buy, and the frozen dinners have been pretty tasty.

Monday, August 1

Cookin'

In our new and improved household, the boyfriend and I both do the cooking.
Since we have opposite days off, we each basically do the planning/shopping/cooking of supper on our days off. (and just FYI, it was totally his idea!)
We have different ideas about how to do it, of course. I'm more in the plan-ahead-and-buy-all-the-groceries-you-need-for-several-days camp, while he's from the go-to-the-store-every-day-and-figure-out-the-menu-while-you're-shopping school of thought. Both ways work, of course. And a bonus with his plan is getting a little walk out of the deal also, if we go to the store that's only a block away. (although they are probably higher priced on some things than the bag it yourself store, and you can't buy in bulk if you're walking)
The other difference is cooking style, he used to be the bachelor chef, where I was the single-mom cook, cooking kid stuff, and eating cheese and crackers myself.
It's fun this way, we challenge each other. Of course, we both still have the basic burger-helper type meals, but we're both trying to out do each other with new food ideas.

Tuesday, July 26

The best hamburgers ever

I usually don't 'cook' much on Monday nights. It's just me and the kids, so we usually just do frozen pizza or burritos, or we do the value menu at some fast food (usually Wendy's). But for some reason, I got a wild hair to make some burgers last night. Maybe it was the pending storm.
So my junior chef mentioned a cheeseburger with the cheese on the inside, and that idea grew. First, I doctored up the meat, with some garlic, mustard, bread-crumbs out of a stuffing mix, and an egg. I separated the meat into balls for the burgers, and got the cheese ready, by putting bacon bits between two pieces of cheese. I flattened the meatwads, one at a time, into little meat pancakes. Then I put the cheese/bacon on top of the pancake, and wrapped the meat over the top. The goal was to have the cheese/bacon completely inside the meat, but there were a few cracks, and it still worked fine. I did have to fold over the corners of the cheese to get them to fit.
Then I just fried them up like normal, and they were gooooooood!
P.S. the kids just like the plastic-wrapped american cheese on a burger, but mine was totally better, I used swiss! Hmm, maybe next time, I'll put mushrooms inside, too!

Sunday, July 24

Update

Been a long time, admittedly, since posting.
Rest assured, it has not been as long since I made bread for my family! I haven't tried any new mixes or recipes lately, though.
I've decided to add all cooking/eating experiences to this blog, and it will be easier to keep updated that way, also. Stay tuned for good recipes, restaurant critiques, food related stuff found on the web, and more!

Sunday, February 27

Same song, second verst

The Honey Wheat loaf was soooo good, and using a recipe was fairly painless, and we gobbled up the first loaf yesterday, so I made another just the same today. But we went to a buffet to eat, so I sent the loaf home with the boyfriend.
The one thing that's not easy about making the bread from a recipe, is the yeast. I bought the little packets of yeast, figuring that one packet equals one loaf. So I was surprised that I had to measure the yeast, one packet equals about 1 3/4 loaves. That's not great, because how do you keep the little packet closed up and keep the yeast fresh? Making two loaves in two days, it's not an issue really today, but what about the other loaves?
I guess next time I'm lookin gto buy yeast, I'll look into the little jar. If I 'm going to have to measure it, I might as well get that. And it proably ends up being less expensive.

Saturday, February 26

First Recipe

OK. I'm finally ready to try an actual recipe. First try, from the book that came with the BreadMaker:

Honey Wheat Bread
1 egg, room temperature plus enough water 80 degrees to equal 1 cup
2 TBLS oil
3 TBLS honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups Bread Flour
1 1/2 tsp quick rise yeast or bread machine yeast

Program: Basic

I turned the crust to "light"
The loaf was very delicious!!

Monday, February 7

White Hodgson

I won't post another picture of the box. But I really like the Hodgson Mill's bread mixes better than the Krusteaz. I probably won't buy the Krusteaz brand anymore, they never turned out as well.
Tried the Hodgson White, it was good, too.
I switched the crust to 'light' and we liked that, the 'medium' or 'regular' was too crunchy. Light is just right.

Sunday, January 23

And a new one for the kids??

Well, that loaf didn't turn out that great. It didn't raise as much as the other loaves have, I even measured it. Only 3 1/2" at it's fullest. Now, of course, I'll have to measure a fully risen loaf to compare. But I think they have been around 5".
And the crust is, well, very crusty, not just from the crust, but it seems like not all the mix got mixed again. Hmmmm. Now I'm thinking it wasn't just the fact that I put extra water in on that first loaf.
Taste is fine. But kinda yeasty. Does that make sence? But not bad enough not to eat it! Bread is bread after all.
Now I'm thinking I might have to make another loaf to have hot and fresh when the kids get home. Maybe I'll try a recipe this time.....

And the loaf for me

This one is still in the machine at this moment, but smells good. For those of you keeping track at home, this is the same mix I tried for the first loaf, and I want to check if it was just first time mistakes that made the loaf not so good. I measured the water more accurately this time, and I didn't level out the mix on top of the water. We'll see how it turns out. (We'll also see if there's any left when the kids get home tonight) ;p

Saturday, January 8

Saturday Loaf

Saturday's loaf turned out just great. I don't know if it's the brand, or just my experience. I'll have to try the first brand again. Letting the loaf rest for the recommended 2-30 minutes, really makes it easier to cut.
This time, there was crusty places on two of the corners, but not a big deal, I just picked off the crusty parts.

Wednesday, January 5

Snow Day Loaf

Snow day today was a perfect time to try another loaf. I needed to first clear off the space on the counter for the bread maker to 'live' so it wasn't just sitting in a cupboard where it could get forgotten. So now the bread maker lives next to the coffee maker, hope they don't get too chummy, breaded coffee doesn't sound too great. ;p
So today's loaf was:


I just had gotten my 1 cup almost perfectly room temperature, when I double checked the directions. They wanted 1 cup PLUS 1 TBSP of 'warm' water. What the heck is warm??? Be scientific, please. I put in the 1 cup of room temperature water, and heated the tap water up to hot, to add, thinking that would make a total of 'warm' it seems to have worked just fine.
The other change with this mix, was to add 2 TBSP Butter chopped up or oil. I chose butter, rather the can't believe version of butter that I use.
It was cool to have the bread machine on the counter where I could actually peek in the top window and see how well it was going.
And I remembered to cool the loaf before cutting. It was wonderful!

Tuesday, January 4

Baby Bottle

Still reading through instructions, wanting to learn as much as I can. A couple interesting things, there are two specific things that don't work well with yeast, and therefore can't be used in the yeast bread. They are garlic and cinnamon. Good thing they told me, because I'm a garlic fiend.
The other thing I was interested in learning was 'room temperature'. What temp is that exactly, and how long do I need to let the water sit to become that temperature. The instructions says 80 degrees, or 'baby bottle temperature'. That's a good way to find the right temp, of course, not scientific.
I'll pull out my handy dandy thermometer/timer (you know what
Alton Brown says, all kitchen tools need to do more than one thing--except the fire extinguisher) and checked the temp of the water. I was right about water from the tap before it gets hot or cold being close to room temp, and I let it set a little bit and it stayed around 75-80. I think I will experiment with hot and cold water to see how long it takes to get to room temp.

Monday, January 3

Mixes and Recipes

So a lot of why I started this blog was to track the different mixes and recipes I try.
The first two were Krusteaz brand, the only kind of bread maker mix available at the small store in the small town. I think the price for each was about $1.79, pretty sure they were each under two dollars. The two I bought were two out of three flavors that they had, so not much variety.
I've always like the Krusteaz brand, my mother swore by it for years for pancake mix. And that was when it was hard to find for some reason. We'd have to look for it when we were on vacation, and buy enough to last until the next vacation.
I want to keep track a bit of the prices, as our friend Xan says it's cheaper and easier to make them from scratch. Cheaper, I'm sure, most of the fast mixes, box dinners and junk would be cheaper if we made them from scratch. Easier, we'll see. Single working mom, sometimes I go for quicker even if it's a bit pricer. But a lot of the recipes in the book seem super simple. I bought bread flour specifically, and yeast made to work in a bread maker. And I bought a couple more mixes. I was surprised to see that the Krusteaz boxes were over $2 here at big store in big town, maybe even $2.49, hmm, maybe I remembered the price wrong from small store. They did have more choices, both within the Krusteaz brand, and a couple other brands. This time I decided to try Hodgson Mills. And realizing I wanted to keep track of which brands I liked, and which flavors, I decided to start this blog.

Sunday, January 2

Second Try

On to the second loaf.
I made sure to only use 1 cup of water.
Oh, and on the water. The box mix says room temperature water. So I got water basically straight from the tap, before it gets hot or cold, and then I let it sit about 15 more minutes just to make sure. I think that's long enough, don't you?


The instructions say to just use the 'basic' setting when using the box mix, but the box says to use the 'regular' or 'whole wheat' setting. So I tried 'whole wheat' on the advice of the boyfriend. Good plan.
And I just poured/dumped the dry mix over the water, I didn't spread it around. It made a little mound in the center, I did make a little well in the mound for the yeast, so the yeast wouldn't touch the water just yet.
The bread rose up to full potential. Smelled great, tasted great. It was a little crusty. So next time, I'll try light crust.
Also, it was hard to cut. I was thinking it was just we didn't have the 'right' kind of knife at 'his' house, or maybe I needed to buy a special bread cutting knife (which I still may do), but I later found in the instructions to cool the bread 15-20 minutes before cutting. Whoops. We had cut it in under 5 minutes. We'll try actually letting it cool next time. ;p