Sunday, March 16, 2008

Not Child Related

I've been doing a lot of cooking and baking lately. To mixed results of course because I have the world's pickiest eater for a husband and a three-year-old who so often tries to be just like him. At any rate my creative well has run dry this past week for a variety of reasons and so I thought I'd share what I've been doing.

I made Cincinnati-style chili and it was a huge hit with Dan. We ate it over spaghetti one night and had chili dogs the next. I used this recipe but I did not have all-spice and I did not use the unsweetened chocolate. It came out really well and was a nice change of pace from the more traditional chili with beans.

My kitchen is always hiding some little goody about to go bad and a few weeks ago it was a small bag of gala apples that had been hidden behind a stack of dish towels. I found a recipe for an apple banana cake that I altered a little bit and it was the most moist delicious cake I've ever made. Here's what I did:

Mix dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons baking soda, 2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1 tablespoon salt; set aside.

Peel, core and chop about 5 ripe apples into very small pieces. Mix with other wet ingredients: 2 mashed bananas (the riper the better), 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Bake in 9 x 13 inch pan at 350 degrees for about 45-55 minutes. I like to sprinkle a cinnamon-sugar mix on top when it comes out of the oven.

Note: I have had to stop making this cake because I tend to eat it all day and all night until it's gone and my sweatpants start to feel tight.

I don't know if other mothers can relate but I have a sort of internal struggle regarding sweets. On the one hand I want my children to be healthy and develop good eating habits for life. On the other hand, I want to be that cool mom that always has cookies in the cookie jar. I occasionally indulge the cookie jar fantasy by making chocolate chip cookies from a dry mix by Great Harvest Bread Company. These cookies are insanely insanely good. I have tried to recreate them to no avail. I don't know what the magic is exactly but the mix includes oatmeal and a lot of brown sugar and they don't last very long in our house.

My favorite leftover recipe is chicken salad inspired by someone I cannot name who got it from a source (s)he cannot name. Real top secret stuff we are dealing with here and when you see the incredibly complex and exotic process below you will understand why. This is also one of those dishes I make without ever measuring anything so it's not very easy to share with others but I love to use leftover chicken for this. I don't know why, it just tastes better. I add the typical celery but I also use a chopped up apple (granny smiths seem to be best), toasted sliced almonds, currants that I have soaked in hot water so they aren't overly dried or chewy, red onion and mayo that has already had kosher salt and pepper mixed into it. Really nice texture and flavor to this version of chicken salad. And as you have now seen, incredibly complex and exotic.

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