No Dip Mix? No Problem!

I ran out of Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning. I usually buy it in the big containers because it will last a while. I forgot to pick up a new container. I don’t like making dip in big batches unless it is for special occasions or certain functions. I just don’t sit and eat a whole thing anymore. Yes, anymore, as in I was a ravenous teenager who could sit and eat a whole bag of chips with dip and burn it off in no time. I wish my metabolism was still that good!

I began experimenting with my spices and the sour cream. I don’t mind the taste of plain sour cream as much as I use to. It has become a staple in my home… Dear, Peanut Butter, I miss you. While I have made dips in the past from scratch they have come out less than pleasant or even edible. It could be my changing pallet as well. Here is what it looks like: IMG_1846

It doesn’t look too scary, right? This is what transpired:
– Sour Cream
– Parsley
– Minced Onion
– Onion Powder
– Chives
– Garlic Powder
– Creole Seasoning
– Paprika
– Pinch of Sea Salt

Everything was added to taste. You need to let the minced onion sit a bit as it can be crunchy. I would say this is some place between onion and veggie-tasting. Not so much like ranch. The flavor is mild and could probably use a bit more of something but I have yet to figure out what. In the mean time, I am going to enjoy it with a bowl of chips, hot chocolate, and Netflix!

Temporary Insanity

After a recent trip to the hospital and diagnosis of multiple severe infections, I thought I would post this up in the event that I am not around… Or start all sorts of crazy cooking projects suddenly. I had to drop my college class. If I get to stay home and avoid surgery, I will probably end up with a bit of boredom. Hoping to be better within a few weeks time or a little longer–it’s really pain that I am having a hard time with currently. Honestly, I am pretty freaked out about what is going on. Why does this involve a food blog? Well, I tend to do crazy things when I do not feel well. The surprising factor is my lack of appetite. I am fine with drinking water and juice, but food is more of a nauseating annoyance at this time. Just wanted to let you know in case I need to disappear for a bit.

– The Ill Chef

Bacon and Eggs – Not just for breakfast

ImageFor years I have refused to use egg as a binding agent in meat dishes; I never understood the point to be honest. You’re adding extra fat and cholesterol for the sake of holding meat together while it cooks. Personally, I’ve never had trouble with meat staying together in a patty or in a pan in the oven. I’ve also tried the same thing in cupcake tins, which makes cute little circular meat loafs for individual servings. The point is that it’s not necessary.

So why follow the rules? Being stuck at home with a contagious disease may have played a part of it all (don’t worry, all better now), and the other reason was that I had hamburger, bacon, and eggs that all need to be used before they went bad.

For my meat loaf, I probably used close to 3-4lbs of 85% lean certified angus beef. I like the flavor of it, and I can usually buy it on sale, but if it’s available, I usually get the 93% lean. I threw in a bit of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, McCormack hamburger seasoning, clover honey, onions, and peppers. I did’nt have fresh garlic and I had very little of the dried kind, so I added garlic butter crackers, about 14-20 crackers in all. I also added two eggs.

ImageThe bacon I weaved beforehand in the dish I intended to bake with, to make sure it would cover the top. I used a whole 16oz package. I then slid it out and onto a plate. How I did this without the weave coming apart I have no idea. It slid fairly well, so just do that and don’t try to lift it. I used the same process to put it on top and pulled the ends a bit to stretch it out.

I baked it covered with tinfoil on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 35 minutes, then for another 30 minutes without the tinfoil on it to crisp up the bacon. The pieces on the bottom of the weave come out softer, but still cooked.

After eating some, I realized that the egg did not make a drastic difference, but the bacon is pretty awesome! As far as texture goes, it compares to my other meatloaf recipes. You really don’t need a binder; just need the right meat and some patience. It was pretty good, but I think I’ll refrain from using egg in the future. The bacon on the other hand…

Mystery Pecan Pie

Since I could not find my own recipe, I decided to use Paula Deen’s: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/mystery-pecan-pie-recipe/index.html

Mystery Pecan Pie

The Competent Chef’s Mystery Pecan Pie Baking

I like this particular recipe because it should be fool proof. You can use one of those Pillsbury pre-made pie crusts or make your own.

Once again there is a difference! Instead of vanilla, I used ginger brandy to flavor this delicious pie. I’m sure you can see a theme here…

Here is how it came out!

Mystery Pecan Pie(Complete)

Mystery Pecan Pie(Complete)

Banana Bread (Complete)

Banana Bread (In Process)

I used the following recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/banana-banana-bread/

Please note that I added two caps full of ginger brandy to this mixture and some chopped walnuts. I let the butter soften just enough so I could mix it with an electric mixer. That is what leaves the little clumps you see in the photo. The reason for this? My mom always did it like that!

Edit—-

And here is the finished product. It needed less time to cook than the recipe stated. I put it in for 60 minutes and while I checked when it had 20 minutes left, it still needed another 5 to go. I always end up with a darker-looking banana bread in this oven. Next time I may use foil.

Banana Bread (Complete)

Banana Bread (Complete)

In the Kitchen

I am in the kitchen as I type this, currently preparing myself for some baking. I have two bananas that need to be used up, so banana bread it is. I also want to make some cardamom bread, and experiment with the dough a bit. We shall see when/if I prevail. But, dishes must be washed first, and this is a must. It’s fun to cook, but if things aren’t tidy and you don’t clean as you go, you’re going to be left with a horrid mess. Which means less time for eating. Which is bad.

Posts to come.

(CompetentChef)