Friday, October 25, 2013

Recipe - Microwave Peanut Butter Cake

I surely am enjoying the time off that I have but I also admit to being slightly stir crazy due to all of it. But when one gets this way, one cooks and starts to make plans to cook! I think my mother and I spent more then an hour yesterday on the phone deciding what and how to make dinners for both my up coming birthday as well as 2 days of cooking come Christmas time. We;re gonna do Christmas dinner 100% from scratch so this will be an interesting adventure. We're booting the 'boys' out (our husbands) for Christmas eve (my DH has to work anyhow) and going to go about making everything from our own condensed mushroom soup to fried onions (can you see where that is going??) to making home-made cornbread sage sausage stuffing to put into a big ol' turkey that we're gonna bake all Christmas day. Man oh man I can't wait! It's been so long since I had any family time much less doing something I loved to do when I was younger, cook with my mother.

I have realized with the time not working now, just exactly how much of my life I put on hold while I was working. I have a new pasta machine that is now 2yrs old, I have a French Macaroon kit that is over a year old and a number of molds/kits that have sat here since I had been working, opened but unused! On top of that, I haven't had a decent time at holiday time, or any other time to be honest, with my own family. The 2yrs that I did work over the holidays, I put everything aside to make sure my bosses had time with their family (they also have kids) instead. I just didn't do anything but work. I realize that so much now that it's almost enough to make me cry.

Sooooo today, it's again getting windy and cold and a perfect time to go about putting in a nice huge pot of American style beef stew! It's not a dish you can just throw together in an hour though! It needs a long slow stew in the oven (or a crock pot I would think) for at least 6hrs or longer if you have time for it. That is for another post though.

Sweet... must have something sweet and one of my biggest weaknesses, it always has been, is peanut butter + chocolate in any form. A while ago I started experimenting with the 'microwave cake' recipes that were running a muck on the web. I came up with my own peanut butter butter microwave cake with chocolate chips and it even includes an equally easy icing to go with. I've added this recipe to the 'first attempts' section because although it was good, the way I did it with my photos is the way the note mentions and not step by step. Next time, I will get photos while doing it properly step by step and show the difference.

 ♥ 2 Tbs GF flour
 ♥ 2 Tbs peanut butter (creamy or chunky, your choice)
 ♥ 1/2 tsp baking powder
 ♥ 1 Tbs brown sugar
 ♥ 1 Tbs dark/semi sweet chocolate chips
 ♥ 1 egg, lightly beaten
 ♥ 1 tsp milk
 ♥ 1 Tbs powdered sugar

In a small mixing bowl lightly mix the flour, baking powder, brown sugar together with a fork. Add chocolate chips and give a toss too coat them (it will help keep them mixed throughout instead of sinking to the bottom or floating to the top of the batter before it bakes enough to hold them).

Add peanut butter and egg and mix well. Pour mixture into greased ramekins or other suitable glass/ceramic container suitable for this amount of mixture plus a bit of rising room.

Microwave in 30 second bursts on high power. The same applies here as if you bake it, insert tooth pick in the middle and if it comes out clean it's baked.

While cake is microwaving, in a small bowl mix together the powdered sugar and milk. Add more powdered sugar if you want a thicker icing.

Remove cake from ramekin if you wish to and pour over the icing and eat! Enjoy!

Note ~ You can choose to mix everything together at once, except the milk and powdered sugar but if you want it to come out evenly with the chocolate chips throughout, follow the directions. My photos this time show what happens if you don't take the steps above, all the chocolate falls to the bottom.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Time To Cook!

Aaaaaa.... it's been delightful having time to DO stuff again! I actually feel at home again, gotten most of the house cleaning caught up and my kitchen mostly back into order (is that even possible?!). I even made another big bowl of Hot Chocolate Mix which sadly between me using it, giving some of it to friends and a larger portion to my mother, is gone as of last night! But, I have every thing sitting on the counter as I write to prepare another dose!

I was planning to do this yesterday but by the time I went off on a cleaning spree, went grocery shopping and finding it late enough to pick up DH from work, it just was too much work and way too short of time to have it cook properly. So tonight, I have a wonderful purely American style dinner planned.

BBQ Chicken Pieces
 ~ I bought leg/thigh pieces originally but also bought a big package of legs to do up too just because I am really in the mood for BBQ chicken when I went shopping last night
Boiled New Potatoes
 ~ no recipe for this, unless I decide to make some sort of crushed potatoes
 ~ yes I will be posting about this later
Corn Bread
 ~ I've made this many times before with a prefect result but seems I have yet to post about it, will do soon
Stuffed Mushrooms with an Italian twist
 ~ You're just gonna have to wait but it'll be worth the wait as they are so simple and take just a few moments to make
Tapioca Pudding
 ~ Already have this posted so enjoy!

I've been just itching to get into my kitchen to cook something, not just bake something. This is a perfect afternoon/evening. It's gotten down right crappy outside this last week (almost 2 now) weather wise, it's dropped quite a great deal in temp, it's been raining most of the time and if it's not raining it's extremely over cast so even the apartment has gotten to be quite on the cool side without putting the heaters on yet because there is simply no sun coming in to help warm it naturally. My god, I might have to turn on the heat soon *blah*.

Yes yes, the oven shall be put on very shortly here to start making chicken for tonight, I shall start to prepare mushrooms (something that can be done ahead of time and placed in the fridge until ready to be broiled), make the coco mix, prepare the chicken to go in the oven, prep the corn and get it into a pan of water... mmm yes and I'll have the camera within hands reach for it. I know the light isn't the best and I have no windows either in my kitchen but I have to work with what I have.

Remember my blog is dedicated to TRIED & TRUE recipes! I have made these, eaten these, served them. The photos are all made by me as well as proof of this. I also include foods I have tried that are gluten free but those are far and few between because I prefer to make my own from scratch recipes.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Recipe - Inside-Out Cheese Burgers

A quick over view of my life lately... the place I was working for has gone under. It was so far in debt that they had not choice to file for bankruptcy and well anyone working there is pretty much out of luck.

Now with that said, I also have SOOOOO much time and I'm LOVING it! No more wondering when I will go in next, if my day off will be a day off, not having 100 things to do on the days I did get off and no worries of time. Although I will miss my job dearly, I also feel almost liberated!

Now back to my KITCHEN! Toward the end of the warmer days this summer, I did have a few moments that I caught something on TV that mmmmm just looked yummy! I was watching the Food Network (yea again, it's my go to when there is nothing else on or I can't give total attention to it) and they were having this kind of cook off against 2 different restaurants that were making burgers that were named 'Juicy Lucys', not sure if that name is spelled right or not). Basically it was 2 slightly thinner hamburger patties with cheese stuffed between, the patties put back together so the cheese created a pocket inside! OMG I was in heaven. My DH on the other hand was thinking 'heart attack waiting to happen' until I pointed out to him what exactly was the difference on having a piece or 2 of cheese ON the burger or melted between the patties! He was still kind of off the idea, until I got into my kitchen a couple days later that is.

So here we go... my version of them. I decided to name them Inside-Out Cheese Burgers. This is such an easy recipe it's not funny and I can think of at least a dozen different cheeses that would work well but so far the best I have found to work is the every day American style Cheddar slices. You know the kind, wrapped piece by piece in clear plastic and sold in something like 10slice packs, although I'm sure now a days there are bigger packages too.

Ingredients (recipe is for 2 patties)
 ♥ 2 1/3 to 1/2 pound ground beef (I use lean sirloin)
 ♥ 2 - 4 slices american style cheddar slices, folded into 4's
 ♥ olive oil or liquid/spray butter/margarine for frying

This can even be a kid friendly/involved recipe as long as there is an adult to supervise when it comes to using the stove.

Step 1 - make even amounts of patties... make them rather thin and about the size of your hand (including your fingers), you will need excess on the sides like you would a pie crust in order to compress the patties back together and seal the seams. Make sure the patty is 1 piece with no holes or really thin spots. You want them as even as you can get them with exception of the sides.

Step 2 - lay out your patties side by side and place 1 or 2 folded slices of cheese right in the middle a patty while leaving a 2nd to cover over that cheese to reform into 1 patty.

Step 3 - put the other patty carefully over the top of the patty with cheese and start to work the sides back into each other to seal them and create one larger patty. This is the reason you want them rather thin or you won't be able to cook them through properly.

Step 4 - Fry... make them any way you would normally make your hamburgers. No doubt there will be a tiny place here and there that didn't seal right and cheese will bubble out, don't worry about it, just scoop it back up when you pick up the burger! Or perhaps you'll have spent enough time fold in the sides and won't have it happen at all, if you do SHARE with us how! I have made these at least 15 times now and almost every time there is at least 1 burger that oozes before it's finished.

The photos I made show me making one patty with the american cheese slices and the other with slices of mozzarella. They were both good but if you really want the ooze factor from the mozzarella then you must eat it first thing and piping hot or it just gets cold and goes back into a more solid form. It will of course never be almost liquid as the american slices end up being but it was still good! I'm sure a number of other kinds of cheese, American or other countries alike, just look for ooze or stretch (like the mozzarella cheese) factor!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

General Talk - Finally Some Time!

Life just flies by, especially when you have made the choice to no longer be just a house wife but a working house wife! Work is amazingly busy... the gent fest, 2weeks roughly for the boss's vacation time, took only a week off (only 4 of my normal working days to be honest) in which I saw my son and had a whole lot of house work to catch up on, then got slammed back into work because during my time away the main oven blew another circuit and the boss lady ended up sick. Of the 1 week I took off, they closed the store for 2 days of it *shrug*. It's their store so it is not for me to question but it really does bother me sometimes that I do end up covering everything for them for quite a number of days, mostly on my own but when it comes to me taking a few days off, they can't deal with or handle it.

Anyhow... with that said. I finally have a day where I don't have an over load of house work (thanks a lot to my cleaning lady once a week!! Hey it's why I work :P) and there are no other real plans. Before today even arrived I was already thinking of all sorts of things I can do in my kitchen. I bought beef stew ingredients, I made sure I had butter in the house and off I went. It's only noon here in Belgium and I already have baked an entire batch of Peanut Butter M&M cookies (ran out of chocolate chips it seems and since one of my recipe plans today was to make M&M cookies anyhow, I said why not, there was gonna be left overs anyhow). I even made something called Juicy Lucy Burgers and I am preparing to make that batch of M&M cookies. After those are baked off, the stew will go in the oven for a nice slow 5hr stew and from there I'm going to go and work some more on cleaning my bedroom (damn clothes really need to be gone through in order to see what I want and don't want or don't wear!).

I have been very carefully photographing all of my recipes today and keeping notes on them. The cookies turned out well so far *halo* and yes most of them made it into the bowl for later although man that was a tough one! The stew is for the long weekend I will have when I have to do a closing shift tomorrow and an alone shift all of Saturday and god only knows what after. Fish for dinner tonight!

I will post a recipe on Sunday! Sweet, savory or both? Dunno yet, we'll see what day inspires me to do!

Break Down
 ~ Peanut Butter M&M Cookies
 ~ M&M Cookies
 ~ Juicy Lucy Burgers
 ~ Slow Cook Beef Stew w/ Rice (not traditional potatoes)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gent Fest (Gentse Feesten) - My Personal Thoughts

Now I have started this about 3x's over. Each time it just ends up being too much so I'm just going to break it down. Gent Fest is a music related fest with the customary food, drink and misc vendors at your whim so to speak.

From a gluten-free stand point, this is *NOT* something to go to simply because 90% of the 'drinks' are beer related (Belgium after all) and all the food located/sold within this event can not be considered safe for people who need to live gluten free. If you do attend, make sure you pack drinks and food because you will not find much otherwise. You will be able to find places that sell soda in bottles/cans but nothing 'special' that can be trusted.

Now, I had to work in the the middle of this. In the beginning I was really looking forward to it because it was a sure way to have lots of hours, over time pay, night pay and all of that but in the end the weather ended up being SO hot (90+ almost all week) that it made the whole experience just pure hell.

My reasons to *NOT* attend this again, working or not. Mind you this is the first time in the 12yrs that I've been living here that I've even seen it much less attended in any shape or form.

1. Gluten Free options - NONE with exception that you can find bottled/canned soda or water
2. The music, although stage by stage was not bad, was nothing special and if anything sometimes was awful because you can hear about 3 stages at once at any given time. So if you are standing any where except right smack in front of the 1 stage you want to be hearing, you get a jumble of different musics and sounds going on... most annoying. Not to mention it's REALLY friggin' loud! Lots of noise level, lots and lots of bass sounds ect.
3. The sad part of it - 16 is the legal drinking age here. This sadden me EACH and EVERY day I worked this fest. Every night I would walk home and find myself watching 'kid' after 'kid' walking (if they could) down the street so drunk by all the booze open to them to buy at this event and just feeling sad that they are even allowed to get that way much less that they are still KIDS! They are just harming themselves. They aren't old enough to know the difference between enjoying a drink and drinking because they think it's cool or great to get drunk... THAT drunk! *shs* I mean never mind the idiot adults that know better, I feel no sorrow for them at all, they know better... but who the hell is teaching the kids right from wrong?! Well that is the only place I feel sorry for the adults, they are suppose to show them that part.
4. GARBAGE! OMG, I have not seen so much trash in all of my life. It's almost as though the whole day this thing goes on and on, although there are TONS of places to throw trash actually out, no one seems to take note and there certainly are no attendants going around helping to keep the place clean. This all happens in the few hours in the early to late morning before the whole thing is to start again.
5. Transportation.... holy man! Buses and any kind of public transportation is totally re-routed. For me, getting to work was a very very bad problem. Firstly, hello... 2nd/rd shift the entire time so that alone made it a problem because I started well after the whole day of the fest has started (earliest was 5pm) and then on top of it we had REALLY hot weather here (90+f) most of the week. Now the bad thing is with the re-route with where I live I have to take the same amount of time to either wait/take and transfer buses/trams to get about a block from right where the fest starts and then walk for 15minis to get to my work or I can just screw it and take the same amount of time including the bus/tram ride to walk from my house. I couldn't even rent a bike for this thing because that too has been cut off from being allowed to be used! Yes that is right, it's SO packed and so hard to get through all the people that they made it so you can't even ride a bike. It was just a really bad problem to get to work. Not to mention at the time that *I* had to come home, there was again 2 choices... walk (not gonna happen after a full night shift, in hot weather and at 2-4 in the morning!) or walk back to where the buses/trams drop me off and pick up a taxi... which of course costs 11euro a ride (for me at least considering I don't live far from it). You do the math, a bus pass (30euro) plus 10nights of taxis (lets round it to 110euro).... that is a LOT of money to have to put out just to get to and from work for 10days.

Ok before I get too much off of the topic... music ok if you are RIGHT at the stage you want to be at, rest of it, don't bother.

I'm off my rant now... I'll return next week with some yummy recipes I hope but if not this coming week, I will be back after mid August when I've done the holiday weeks for my bosses.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Let's Talk Fruit - Grapes

Taking a few minutes to myself now tonight. My kitchen is *almost* clean from all the dirty dishes and what is left, I can do in the morning just as well so now for a small post.

I still can't believe how many gluten free people can't get over the 'look at all the stuff I can't eat' factor instead of looking inside themselves to go past that and change their outlook to 'look at all the great stuff I CAN have!' attitude!

Again, FRUIT! There is so much of it, so many different kinds from what we consider every day fruits to really exotic ones. Today, lets talk a bit about grapes. There are so many different kinds with all sorts of varied flavors from really sweet to really bitter to everything in between. They all have massive health benefits too! The darker the grape, the better too but they all are great for you. Have you ever ended up eating a 'bunch' of grapes and felt FULL from it?? I know I have!

Did you know there is only *1* continent that does not cultivate grapes in some form? That means 99% of the world produces grapes of some sort! Damn that is a LOT of grapes! From eating versions to ones produced just for wine to ones made just for making raisins... think of the endless possibilities when it comes to this great fruit not only when it comes to eating it straight up but when drinking the wonderful juice or it's wine version or even when dried into raisins for cooking or baking!

These little pieces of fruit heaven have so many benefits to health that they are considered another 'super food'. Red wine is even considered to be part of a good diet! Within reason of course!

Benefits include...
 ~ help prevent certain oxygen-related enzymes from becoming overactive.
 ~ increase our blood levels of glutathione.
 ~ help protect cell membranes from free radical damage.
 ~ lowers levels of oxygen reactive molecules in our blood.
 ~ reduce oxidation of fat.
 ~ lower biomarkers of oxidative stress.

These are just a few scientific benefits, look up 'health benefits grapes' and read up for yourself! They are even considered to be in the berry family and we all know that ANY type of berry comes with amazing health benefits. Now on that note, remember, they are NATURALLY gluten free! Go on, wash up a bunch and nibble away, they are GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH!

General Talk - Time Just Flies :(

I have not forgotten about my long lost love of cooking, spending time in my kitchen or coming here to write in my blog but *heavy sigh* the passion and pure want might be there, the time is not.

Winter was short, too short. I made a few soups and stews but having only bit of time 'down' from work was not enough to get me back into the kitchen for any extended period of time. Then April came and I started back into work again full on, starting with some part time hours and then ending up with 3/4th week hrs without expecting it really. Some really long days such as open to close shifts and now, it's even worse for the next month as I start with an 11day stretch through a festival that happens every year that our store happens to be located smack in the middle of and then just after that covering open to close shifts for a bit under 2weeks to allow the bosses to take a much needed holiday for themselves too. Yes, I am back working for the place I was 6months ago. I need them and they need me... it's a mix-matched relationship but some how in the end it works out. They understand me more, I understand them more and I am no longer feeling like a yo-yo... this is a good outcome. I hope for the best and that it stays this way.

On top of this all, there has a been a very unexpected but so very VERY welcomed surprise that came into my life this year... my son who I placed for adoption 19years ago (almost 20 now!) had come searching for me and found me. We have written emails, we even had a video chat with him and the family. And the best news is that I will get to meet him for the first time since he was born THIS August! I am counting the days! He has grown into such a wonderful man and I can't wait to meet him in person to see this with my own eyes and not through the visions of a computer screen! Dear sister, if you read this, THANK YOU! If you had not still been in the USA, I don't know if he would have ever found me.... thank you!

I still dab in the kitchen from time to time when there is time to spare... I made a Tuna Pasta Salad (this happens every summer at some point or another) the other day but that isn't much of a recipe, it's just throwing some pasta, mayo, canned tuna, frozen peas and shredded cheddar cheese together in a big bowl and letting it mellow out in the fridge. Yes it's food, yes I had to prepare it but meh... perhaps another day I will have the energy and time to get a photo or two before the cold pasta salad days are gone.

I feel as though there is just no time for anything lately. I get to cook perhaps 2 or 3 times a month now a days. I even had to hire a cleaning lady to help me in the apartment because I just couldn't keep up with it all. I get roughly 2 days a week off if that, 1 spent cleaning and 1 spent doing the other 100 things that need to happen. With all this happening and the news of my son, I have also taken on making this apartment go from the 'temp' look to the 'we live here & it's home' look. This is taking a LOT of time, energy and a lot of my patience. Soon though it will fall into place. Perhaps I will even get to order a dish washer after working all of these extra hours. This might help me a lot to get into my kitchen more if I don't always have to worry about a stack of dishes a mile high at the end of making something wonderful to eat.

I miss you my dear blog. I still have LOTS of photos and recipes to share but without making them and getting them up here, I don't remember a lot of them like I use to. I shall have to make new memories. I still surf through Stumble's 'food/cooking' channel a lot, bookmarking recipes I like or would like to try, getting annoyed when I come across things that are not even close to being related to food/cooking but marked that way anyhow and then becoming sad when I realize 'man that sounds good and I sure do want to make it and damn I bet that would be good made gluten free style but when do I get a chance to?'.

I will get back to you my dear friend and to those who are following my blog or have followed it, thank you for your patience. Life goes by so quickly when you have too much to do. Today was my first 'real' day off in quite some time and it's again been spent running to the stores, doing dishesand tidying the house from things that I let go over a long working weekend. It is now past 4pm and I still have half my kitchen worth of dishes to finish, I have prepared to make a chicken pesto pasta salad... perhaps tomorrow I will bring my camera out as I make it, at least then I have some photos of it.

Have a good rest of the summer all my wonderful gluten-free bloggers and to the rest that follow my recipes and life entries. Remember, all my recipes and entries might be gluten free but if you are not living a gluten free diet but still like to make some, you can always substitute what you use normally. Such as the pasta salad I'm about to make, you don't need to use rice pasta as I do, you can simply replace it with your normal every day mac.