Friday, September 30, 2011

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 093011

  • Monday: Indian buffet: $13.99
  • Tuesday: I know I ate something, but don't have a record, $5 SWAG
  • Wednesday: Carl's Jr. Original Six-Dollar Cheeseburger: $5
  • Thursday: Corner Bakery Chicken Pomodori Panini: $8.29
  • Friday: Sango Sushi Combo A: $8.08

Total: $40.36
Total for the year: $1431.77

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken and Mushrooms Sandwich

Whoa, hello! Image horror story above! What the crap are those white voids between sandwich halves!? I think that just proves that I made the correct decision by buying 20 MB with Picasa for $5/year. It'll take me approximately 60 years to fill it, but what the hell. I'm still learning photography, no need to add another variable! But notice that the cheese is holding the mushrooms and chicken to the bread -- life's good.

Chopped Skillet Chicken breast and Mushrooms on bread halves, warmed gently under the broiler.

Pepperjack was placed over the chicken and mushrooms and broiled until melted.

Romaine, red onion and tomato were added.

Oh yeah, and bacon too.

The melted cheese held all of the meat and mushrooms in place, ensuring even mouthfuls of each. Mmm, good.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rice and Kimchi and Blogger Photos

Sometimes all I want is a simple bowl of steamed white rice piled with Mom's kimchi.

I really like when she comes to visit as:
  • she and I eat out a lot, chowing on Korean as much as possible, even in local places I could easily, but don't normally, try because of being "too busy,"
  • Mom gets to eat stuff she can't order in her neck of the woods and doesn't make at home,
  • Mom gets to exercise her Korean, which makes me realize how much it sucks that I don't know much,
  • Mom makes kimchi from scratch, yo!

And I see now, inserting thumb into mouth, that my Blogger/Blogspot photo capacity is nearly at it's free capacity. I was dumbfounded when a few photos from recent posts wouldn't blow up to monitor-sized ginormousness, instead popping up the size of a postage stamp. That's no good!

I use my blog as a reference when preparing my weekly food plan and when cooking, thus the many Takes and the labels (which I realize need a serious overhaul). I want to be able to see what's going on!

That leads me to a point where I am forced to reflect. I don't normally do that in the grand scheme of things. My tendency is to look at details with scrutiny, agonizing over them, and adjusting things so that I am happy with them before finally saying, "that'll do, Cook, that'll do." I like that every single revision of any recipe I've tried is available to me with a quick search. Now that my photos aren't being supported as I'd like, something has got to give.

I've looked at and fooled with other free photo sites, but didn't find them to be as easily utilized as the Picasa/Blogger relationship I'd been using since day one. I've also considered simply starting a brand new blog as so much has changed since I first started blogging: my agenda, output of new recipe execution, and really, even my photography, is different from what it was when I first started the blog nearly 4 years ago. Really! Look at what I was doing at the beginning of Smells Like Food in Here. I didn't even have semblance of a format, I thought I knew what I wanted to capture, but it took some time before I really got it to where it'd be something I'd utilize. I do like that all of that is documented, while it is a little embarrassing.

A new blog though would be like starting anew, which would be just as I've grown quite a lot since the beginning. And if I started a new Google blog, it'd be a fresh start, a new chapter, and would be a defined point to continue growing from. I'd eliminate the many photos of oil heating in a skillet, freeing up time in two areas (at the time of execution and editing), streamlining and making more accurate how long it takes to complete a recipe.

But then it seems that Smells would soon become a blog like many others, with the perfect photos and the seemingly perfect execution of any recipe. That's not real! That's a food blogger spending many hours of time repeating recipes until they get it to where it is finalized and then posted, making any reader believe it was performed to perfect execution day one.

You know what? I wasn't sure what to do when I began writing this post, but I realize now that my true agenda was to try recipes and find which worked, which did not, and why those that did not failed for me. I'm my own America's Smells Like Food in Here Test Kitchen.

Update, 110911:
I figured out what was going on with the postage stamp sized photos. First, to clarify, the photos weren't popping up in a huge size when clicking on them. They looked normal in the posts.

The problem? The postage sized photos were due to broken links to the photos uploaded via Blogger into Picasa. How did that suddenly happen? I started using Google Chrome instead of Internet Explorer (IE). Silly me, I thought using Chrome, Blogger, and Picasa, all of which are Google family would streamline things! El wrongo!

I went back to IE, deleted the photos with broken links in few posts, uploading and situating them. When re-posting them, I see that the links are not broken. Clicking on any photo uploaded on Blogger through IE yields big images, just like I like! I hope to finish this little project tonight.

Those of you following, if you get a bunch of alerts to "new" posts that are old ones, it's just that I'm taking care of this image-link problem. Thanks for the patience.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Sandwich with Oven-Baked Fries

Unlike Angela at The Spinning Plate, I had leftover Skillet Chicken. And so I made a chicken-club-ish sort of sandwich.

If you're gonna make a sandwich and have it with fries, start the fries now with this Oven-Baked Fries recipe. If you're making fries for one, use a single russet potato and a 7x11 baking dish or 1/4 baking sheet and ease up on the oil; keep the steps the same. While that's going, you can prep your sandwich.

I thinly sliced one of the breast halves, layered it over two slices of sourdough, topped it with thin-sliced pepperjack cheese and slid the bread slices under the broiler just a few minutes so the bread was JUST toasted, the chicken warmed, and the cheese melted.

Meanwhile, I fried some bacon (yep, in the cast iron skillet) and squished those bacon slices into the hot cheese. The bacon was topped with romaine lettuce leaves and tomato slices.

Oh man, I didn't put any mushrooms on it! Next time...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken with Mushrooms

And now I execute the recipe from the blog, The Spinning Plate, the one with the post called On Food that has images driving me crazy with lustful hunger. Or hungry lust. How 'bout we just get going?

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken with Mushrooms
adapted from The Spinning Plate
click to print

one 3-4 lb whole chicken
kosher salt
2-3 tbsp olive oil, divided
14-oz white mushrooms, cleaned and halved, or quartered if large
garlic bulb, extra papery skin removed and cloves separated with skin on
2-3 shallots, halved
lemon, halved; on half thinly sliced into rounds, the other half reserved
1/4 c white wine
small bunch Italian parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 475°F.

Butterfly the chicken, remove the keel bone, and pat dry with paper towel. Generously salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron skillet medium-high.

Is it just me or is the shimmer of hot oil mesmerizing?

Sear the chicken skin-side down 2-3 minutes or until the skin has browned. You can tell when it's ready by gently shaking the skillet: if the chicken moves freely, it's likely browned; if it sticks, it's not ready. Set chicken aside.

Transfer mushrooms, garlic, shallots and lemon into the skillet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Place the chicken, skin-side up, over the mushrooms. Roast the chicken in the oven 20-30 minutes, until juices run clear at the thigh or 165°F.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside without tenting.

Place the skillet on the stove over medium-high heat, add wine and juice of half a lemon to the mushrooms. Once it reaches a healthy simmer, remove from heat.

Carve the chicken and plate with mushrooms, shallots and garlic (I don't like hot citrus), sprinkle with some parsley and serve along with some toasted sourdough. Squeeze the garlic from their cloves onto everything else like creamy butter.

I'd like to note that the author, Angela, says to return the chicken to the skillet, sprinkle it with parsley, carve and serve straight out of the pan, and expect no leftovers. Be sure to do this if you have even one guest as presentation would knock their socks off.

The recipe is straightforward: prep, get the oven going, sear the bird, throw it in the oven, finish the mushrooms, and dinner is done. The chicken is tip-top, juicy-fleshed and crisp-skinned. My vegetables were cooked perfectly, but were too "winey" for me, likely due to my selection. Next time, and there will be one, I'll select a different white. Maybe something from the Barefoot family*.

  • whole chicken: $2.48
  • mushrooms: $2.99
  • garlic: $0.45
  • shallots: $0.48
  • lemon: $0.27
  • wine: $0.08
  • Italian parsley: $0.10
Total: $6.85 or $1.71 for each of four servings.

*Doh! Look! It tells you what's most dry to most sweet! If you click around, you'll see they rank their reds from light- to full-bodied. I might be talkin' about wine like a regular swiller shortly.

Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc

The chicken recipe I was working on called for a white wine. I was hoping like hell that the store I shopped at would have a four-pack of Barefoot white wines, but that was wishful thinking. I selected Sutter Home as it was a dollar cheaper than my favorite -- I only needed a quarter cup.

At home, I removed the foil wrapper and proceeded with working the cork out of the bottle.

I don't know if I just don't have enough practice removing corks or if Sutter Home uses a really long one but I had a problem.

I managed to work it out and decided that yes, Sutter Home uses a really long cork. It could not have been me.

Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc in a 750 mL bottle available in the wine aisle of Stater Bros. for $3.99.

Food Plan and Grocery List, 092511

Since I bought the 12" cast iron skillet, I've been ogling a chicken-in-a-skillet dish I saw once on Tastespotting. Today, I'm going to execute that recipe from the blog with the mouth-watering photos. Leftover chicken is going into sandwiches and salads.

Note that I had to buy a chicken. Those two chickens in my freezer didn't smell or look quite right after thawing. Unfortunately, they were tossed -- better safe than sorry. I will try to be better about rotating the items in my freezer.

Grower's Direct
  • lemon: $0.27/0.34 lb
  • broccoli crown: $0.43/0.54 lb
  • iceburg lettuce: $0.79/head
  • green bell pepper: $0.50/0.50 lb
  • green onions: $0.49/bunch
  • russet potatoes: $1.12/1.63 lb
  • sweet white corn: $0.25/ear
  • garlic bulb: $0.45/0.18 lb
  • romaine lettuce: $0.89/head
  • shallots: $0.48/0.21 lb
  • red tomato cluster: $0.64/0.65 lb (2 tomatoes)
  • Italian parsley: $0.39/bunch
  • gourmet mushrooms: $2.99/14 oz
  • TOTAL: $9.69
Stater Bros.
  • Sutter Home cabernet sauvignon: $3.99/750 mL
  • Chobani greek yogurt: $6.25/5 each
  • cage-free eggs: $3.79/dozen
  • whole body chicken: $2.40/3.48 lbs
  • TOTAL: $19.92

Grand Total: $29.61
Total for the year: $1073.65

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lodge Cast Iron Breakfast

It might look sorta hideous -- the lighting is bizarre, but it sure tasted good.

I've read on a few sites that the authors'll cook just about everything in their cast iron but eggs. That's not what I wanted to hear. I look forward to having a cast iron skillet so seasoned that even eggs slip around in it because that'll mean I can get rid of my non-stick skillets. The place where the magic happens is tight on space with the recent cast iron acquisitions: enameled Dutch oven and skillet.

To get an idea of how well seasoned a seasoned-by-the-manufacturer seasoning is, I fired up the Lodge skillet and cooked some breakfast.

First, bacon to give me some and the skillet some natural lube.

Once cooked to my desire, I scooped out most of the fat and broke a couple of eggs into the skillet.

Once they looked about ready to flip, I flipped them (they sorta stuck a little) and added a mashed potato patty -- yep, just a patty formed from Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes.

When I thought it looked ready to flip, I flipped it and wished I had used a metal spatula to keep the brown stuck to the patty.

After it had crisped a little, the patty was plated and I scootched a spatula around the skillet. The crusties immediately came loose.

I am so close to telling this skillet I love it.

Sprouts San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread

This is the most sour sourdough I've ever had. To my recollection I've never had a real San Franciscan (or is it San Francisco-an?) sourdough. Is it crazy sour?

Ingredients: unbleached enriched wheat flour (niacin, reduced iron, thiamine monotritrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, sourdough sponge (a natural yeast), sea salt, vital wheat gluten.
**allergen notice: this was baked in a facility that processes tree nuts, soy, dairy and wheat.

A 1.5 lb loaf available at Sprouts for $3.99.

Fried Chicken Salad

Romaine and iceberg lettuce mix topped with corn cut from an oven-roasted ear of corn-on-the-cob, shredded pepperjack cheese, black beans, and the last of the Fried Chicken breast makes dinner.

I was going for a Jack in the Box Southwestern Chicken Salad sort of thing, but it didn't quite make it. Italian dressing instead of a southwestern ranch killed it. Still a tasty salad.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 092311

Total: $41.11
Total for the year: $1391.41

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Fried Chicken on Mashed Potato Soup

    I warmed up part of a Fried Chicken breast in the microwave. While a bowl of leftover Mashed Potato Soup with Roasted Garlic took it's turn in the microwave, I sliced up the chicken into thin strips.

    While ok, I should've diced the chicken instead of wrestling with the bigger slices. The rest of the chicken is going into salads with soup on the side.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Mashed Potato Soup with Roasted Garlic

    When I made the mashed potatoes yesterday, I knew there was going to be a lot left over. Normally I'd go ahead and reheat the potatoes and eat them on the side of the fried chicken. This time though, I had a plan to reinvent my leftover potatoes into a new dish. I'm quite proud of this as it is so outside-the-box for me. If you have a small household and tend to cook a boatload of mashed potatoes because cooking a small quantity will take about the same amount of time like I do, you might dig this.

    Mashed Potato Soup with Roasted Garlic
    adapted from Epicurious

    2 tbsp unsalted butter
    1/2 c minced onion
    1 small rib of celery including the leaves, chopped fine
    1 carrot, grated coarse
    2 c chicken stock (from Better Than Bouillon)
    1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed in a mortar and pestle
    2 c mashed potatoes
    1 tsp white-wine vinegar
    green onion, for garnish if desired

    Melt butter in a large saucepan. Cook the onion, celery, and carrot in the butter
    over moderately low heat, stirring, until the vegetables are tender.

    Meanwhile squeeze roasted garlic into a bowl and mash.

    Stir the garlic into the tender vegetables.
    This was a lot pastier than I had anticipated it would be; stirring the garlic into the onions, celery and carrots didn't happen so much as sticking them to the garlic ball.

    Stir in the stock and the rosemary; bring the mixture to a boil.

    Whisk in the potatoes, a little at a time.

    Bring the soup to a boil while whisking, and stir in the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

    Dish into serving bowls and garnish with green onions if desired.

    If you had the foresight, a salad would've gone well with this soup. But the soup? Oh yeah, really good. So good, I was sort of kicking myself for not using all of the remaining mashed potatoes by doubling this recipe. Had I doubled it, I would've been able to report later on how well the soup freezes. That'll happen another time.

    The soup was thick and just a little chunky with vegetables, which I liked very much. The garlic was more than an essence and fairly prominent, so keep that in mind if you aren't a garlic fanatic. If you prefer a thinner soup, simply use more stock. The chunkiness, if you aren't into that, could be overcome by transferring the soup into a blender or simply blending in the pot with one of those hand-held blenders I don't have (but seriously considered when I was at Costco not too long ago).

    Overall, I was surprised by how satisfying the results were. Definitely going to do this again.


    • butter: $0.07
    • onion: $0.25
    • celery: $0.17
    • carrot: $0.15
    • roasted garlic: $1.50
    • chicken stock: $0.26
    • mashed potatoes: $0.96
    • green onion, for garnish if desired: $0.30

    Total: $3.66 or $0.92 for each of four generous servings.