Sunday, January 31, 2010

Today's Special: Where I Finally Use Those Ramekins I Bought

A few weeks ago I accompanied Annie on a shopping trip to Tai Pan Trading. She was there looking for some decorations for her living room and I agreed to come a long as consultant to make sure she didn't buy anything ugly. When I left, Seth asked me if I planned on buying anything. "Nah," I said, "I can't think of anything we really need. Unless you want a giant basket full of potpourri." "Yeah that sounds good," he said,"and get me a candle statue." "Done."

Long story short I was in the store 5 minutes and had already picked out some miniature bowls (you know, the ones they use for pre-measured spices on cooking shows?) and ramekins I wanted. I only spent like $15 but I could see the scared look on Seth's face when I walked in the door with a giant bag. I convinced him that I'd bought all the items for him. The small bowls were for dipping sauces (think pizza crust & ranch dressing), and I needed the ramekins to make him the chocolate souffles we saw on America's Test Kitchen.

So, this week I decided I should actually use the ramekins. What better use for a ramekin than French Onion Soup? I was going to do the chocolate souffles too, just so I didn't look like a big fat liar, but they didn't have the bittersweet Ghiradelli chocolate bars I wanted at the store I went to, so these will have to wait for another week or so. By the way, I've used the miniature bowls I bought for pre-measuring my spices when I cook and it really does make me feel like I'm on tv! Totally worth it.

Sunday: Crock Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy- I've used this recipe before and really like it. It makes its own gravy, but it's super salty if you use it straight out of the pot. I thinned it out with water until the salt level was to my liking and then thickened it with cornstarch on the stove.

Monday: French Onion Soup- I saw this recipe on America's Test Kitchen (I know, I know, big surprise). I thought this turned out really well, although I did alter their instructions a little. I think they get carried away with all the nit-picky steps, so I just sliced up all the onions and cooked them in a pot the whole time until they were done (I did do the deglazing thing 3 times though). I figured why put the onions in the microwave for 20 minutes to soften them when you can do it faster on the stove and they probably taste better? But, you can do it however you want to. ANYWAY, I'd make this again. Although, I would probably use a greater ratio of beef broth to chicken broth.

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday:  Sichuan-Style Chicken with Peanuts- New Recipe. This was so-so. EatingWell's recipes are sometimes a little extreme on their serving sizes. I'm glad I doubled this one. I think this would be better if the chicken marinaded longer and the sauce was made ahead of time. There just wasn't as much flavor as I thought there'd be. Also, I think it would have been better on brown rice instead of on its own, which I would have done, but I didn't feel like it...

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Tuna Casserole- This is one of my "good 'ol standby" recipes. It's something my mom used to make. I always have the ingredients on hand for this and it's so simple I don't even need to look at the recipe anymore.

Bonus: Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake- New Recipe. I made this cake so I could use up some oranges that were about to go bad. I didn't make any frosting or glaze to go on it... just used hot fudge! Also, I always use Pan Release on recipes like this. It works really well... much better than just greasing and flouring the pans and it doesn't leave any white residue.


It's Me said...

What did you think of the cake? It sounds really good. I think hot fudge sauce sounds much better than frosting. Could you taste the orange in the cake? Would you make this again or try another recipe?

Love all the pics. Even the tuna casserole looks professional!

Karen said...

I thought the cake was really good... for a boxed cake mix. If you're looking for something super easy and different, I'd definitely give it a try. I thought it tasted a lot like those chocolate oranges. If you like those, you'll like this. The orange flavor was just right... not too overwhelming but not too subtle either. Seth even ate it and he doesn't really like cake much. It does have the super light texture that the boxed caked mixes normally have... not the denser fugdier texture like some homemade cakes, but still really good.

I don't know if I personally will ever make this again. It's hard to say. It was just something I made to use up oranges (and a box of cake mix that expired in 2007! HA!). I prefer to make cakes from scratch and there's just so many different recipes out there to try that it's hard for me to make the same thing twice. BUT, I do think it's worth making.

heidi said...

I'm disappointed to hear the Sichuan-style dish wasn't better. It's something I think I'd like to try! If it were worth it, I mean. :)