Friday, August 31, 2012

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 083112

Monday: Quizno's Regular Italian on wheat and Mrs. Vickie's Jalapeno chips: $7.09
Tuesday: Cornery Bakery Chicken Pomodori Panini: $8.50
Wednesday: Thai on the company
Thursday: Jack in the Box Southwest Chicken Salad: $6.02
Friday: Corner Bakery on the company

Total: $21.61
Total for the year: $1124.91

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oatmeal Trials, 4

Monday:

That's 1/3 cup Coach's Oats topped to 1 cup with water, microwaved on 70% power for 2.5 minutes with dry cranberries to be stirred in.

Wednesday:

There was another oatmeal overflow mishap in the microwave. Again, I just scooped it all into a bowl before adding dry cranberries and enough cinnamon for three cakes. It wasn't quite like a Cinnamon Challenge*, but still excessive.

Thursday:

I'm convinced 70% power for 2 minutes and 30 seconds is the way to go for me. After stirring in the flavoring ingredients and letting the oatmeal stand a few minutes the texture is perfect.

*Why would anyone consider doing this?! What a waste of tree bark!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Plum Kuchen



Kuchen? What's a kuchen? There isn't anything about that specifically in the Larousse, but according to Wiki, kuchen is German for cake and is known as a gateaux in French. And gateaux is certainly listed in the Larousse Gastronomique.

Looking specifically in the "foreign" section of the gateaux listing, I laughed when I found the German cake description:
German cakes are bulky and soft like shaving cream; they are made so that obese easily tempted men can eat them indulgently.
What is up with that? Mine didn't turn out like shaving cream but did fit the bill for one you'd want to eat indulgently.

Plum Kuchen
from Cooking Club of America
click to print

1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 lb. plums (about 4 plums), unpeeled, sliced (1 inch) (about 3 cups)
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar and brown sugar in large bowl at medium speed 3 minutes or until fluffy.


Beat in egg just until blended.


Beat in sour cream and vanilla.


Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl.


Beat into batter at low speed 1 minute or until just moistened.


Spray bottom of 9-inch round pan with cooking spray; sprinkle lightly with flour.


Spread batter in pan.


Arrange plums over batter; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.


Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until cake is puffed and golden brown. Cool on wire rack 30 minutes or until warm.


Warm honey in microwave-safe bowl in microwave 20 to 30 seconds. Stir in cinnamon.


Brush over plums.


Serve warm.


What a fantastic little cake! The cake was delightful with it's crusty sugar top and tender crumb, the fruit soft and warm. I am quite impressed with this one and will do as the recipe description suggested and try it again, each time with peaches, nectarines or pears.

The only problem with this one is that the servings are dainty little ones. I could easily sit down and eat the entire cake in one sitting. Shamelessly.

Cost:
  • butter: $0.39
  • sugar: $0.12
  • brown sugar: $0.13
  • egg: $0.45
  • sour cream: $0.50
  • vanilla extract: $0.04
  • flour: $0.24
  • plums: $1.43
  • honey: $0.15
Total: $3.45 or $0.43 for each of eight servings.

Molasses-Mustard Barbecued Chicken



You know the sliver of barbecued food that was showing in the spoonbread photo? It was this chicken. If you have a tomato allergy, this one is for you since there's no tomato to be found in this one unlike most barbecued chicken recipes. If you don't want to do the spoonbread yourself, the recipe description recommends serving with a potato salad and corn on the cob. If you do a potato salad, try this one.

Oh, and like any recipe that calls for grilling, I adapted and overcame by using the broiler.

Molasses-Mustard Barbecued Chicken
adapted from Cooking Club of America
click to print

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/3 c molasses
3 tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp thyme
1 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; with flat side of meat mallet, pound to flatten chicken to 1/2 inch.

I don't have a meat mallet; instead of using a rolling pin like I used to, I used the bottom of a flat-bottomed 1-cup bowl. It fits in my hand pretty well and the flat bottom does the job.

In shallow* glass or ceramic baking dish, stir together molasses, mustard, honey, thyme, vinegar, oil, salt and crushed red pepper.

*Why, oh why, do recipes insist on using a shallow container to marinate stuff in? It doesn't make any sense! If the dish is shallow, the liquid spreads more thinly, the meat will be sticking out of the marinade like a whale in a kiddie pool. What you need is a tall, narrow container so that the meat will displace the liquid volume, forcing it upward, covering all of the meat. Am I missing something here?

Add chicken, turning to coat both sides. Refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.

I wish I had a taller, narrower dish.

Heat broiler; line broiler rack with foil if you like. Remove chicken from barbecue sauce; reserve sauce. Broil chicken 4 to 6 inches from flame 8 to 10 16-18 minutes or until no longer pink in center, turning once and brushing with sauce halfway through.

Marinated chicken breasts broiled 10 minutes.

Chicken breasts flipped and brushed with reserved marinade.

Chicken broiled 7 minutes.

Discard remaining sauce.


The molasses carmelizing as the chicken broiled was almost overwhelming, yet delicious-smelling. Checking it mid-way through the broiling time, I was quite happy with how the chicken was turning out: dark in spots nearest the flame, though not burned. Brushing with more marinade really laid the sugars on thick resulting in the chicken looking quite charred. Sugar is amazing that way.

As for the chicken, I probaby could've reduced the cooking time by a couple of minutes. Having neglected the fact that it was pounded thin, my chicken was just slightly dry. Flavor-wise though it was sweet with a hint of spicy. While good, it doesn't beat out this no-tomato barbecued chicken.

Cost:
  • chicken breast halves: $0.86
  • 1/3 c molasses: $1, SWAG 
  • 3 tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard: $0.50, SWAG
  • honey: $0.15
Total: $2.51 or about $0.63 for each of four servings.

FYI, I calculated the chicken breast cost based on an estimated mass of 17.4 oz from whole birds purchased at $0.79/lb. I came up with the mass estimate based on the total mass of the birds and the final mass of the breasts of these birds. The Scientific Wild-Ass Guesses on the molasses and mustard most assuredly more than cover those and the other items.

Zucchini-Cornmeal Spoonbread



Described as something to pair with grilled meats or fish, it was an automatic must-try, especially since I've never had spoonbread. And considering how much fat there is between the cream, cheese and butter, there's no way it could be bad! I looked it up in the Food Tome, aka Larousse Gastronomique, but my 1984 copy makes no mention of it. Wiki says spoonbread likely originates with Native Americans and it is like a cornbread pudding or souffle.

Zucchini-Cornmeal Spoonbread
from Cooking Club of America
click to print

3 c shredded zucchini (about 3 medium zucchini)
3 eggs
1 c sour cream
1 c (4 oz.) grated cheddar cheese
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c melted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c cornmeal

Heat oven to 400°F. Place zucchini in large strainer set over bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Press or squeeze zucchini to remove excess liquid.


In large bowl, whisk eggs until blended.


Add sour cream, cheese, onion, butter and salt; stir until combined.


Stir in zucchini and cornmeal until blended.


Spray 1 1/2-quart gratin or baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour into gratin dish.


Bake 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean.



It smelled great as it baked, but it didn't get as brown as I'd hoped even after extending the baking time by 8 minutes. I didn't want to go too long in case the eggs would become rubbery. It did go well with barbecued chicken, just as the recipe's author intended. The spoonbread was very tender and moist. The cheesy/creamy factor wasn't over the top and neither was the zucchini.

Maybe if I'd diced my onions a little finer I'd have enjoyed the dish more. Each onion stood out instead of being a part of the bigger cheesy picture. As I think about it, sauteeing the onions real quick before adding them to the batter could be the best way to go. I'll definitely try other spoonbread recipes and see how they compare.

Cost:
  • zucchini: $1.02
  • eggs: $1.35
  • sour cream: $1
  • cheddar cheese: $1.25
  • onion: $0.27
  • butter: $0.39
  • cornmeal: $0.39
TOTAL: $5.67 or about $0.71 for each of eight servings.

Food Plan and Grocery List, 082612

This morning, I pored through the August/September issues of Cooking Club (how do I only have four?) and, as usual, nothing looked or sounded good. Finally, I settled on Penne with Chicken, Bacon and Tomatoes; Molasses-Mustard BBQ Chicken, and what I'm really looking forward to trying, Zucchini-Cornmeal Spoonbread. I'll round it out with a Plum Kuchen.

Grower's Direct:
  • black plums: $2.15/1.55 (6)
  • zucchini: $1.02/1.15 lb (3)
  • Fuji apples: $2.76/1.85 lb (3)
  • TOTAL: $5.93
Stater Bros.:
  • Daisy sour cream: $1.99/16 oz
  • sharp cheddar cheese: $2.50/8 oz
  • Organic Circle organic, cage-free eggs: $5.39/dozen
  • Breyers vanilla ice cream: $8.99/gal
  • Poore Brothers S&P kettle chips: $1.50
  • Barilla penne: $2.29/13.75 oz
  • brown sugar: $2.29
  • whole chicken: $4.27 @ $0.79/lb
  • whole chicken: $4.46 @ $0.79/lb
  • TOTAL: $32.89

Grand Total: $38.82
Total for the year: $1466.04

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 082412

Monday: Jack in the Box: $12.05 
Tuesday: Jack in the Box on a coworker
Wednesday: Rockin' B's Burrito Bandito nachos: $9.16
Thursday: Quiznos small Italian and chips: $7.09
Friday: Chipotle on a coworker

Total: $28.30
Total for the year: $1103.30


Oatmeal Trials, 3

Monday:


That's 1/3 cup of Coach's Oats topped with water to the 1 cup line. Maybe I used 100% power instead of the recommended 70%. Good thing that turn table thingy was clean. I hesitated for about 0.2 seconds before scooping all of it into a bowl and added dry cranberries and a little brown sugar. This stuff does thicken after standing.

Tuesday:


Same process as above, except I used the 2-cup measuring glass and 70% power. Still a slight bit of overflow. Diced apples were stirred in and the texture was fantastic, becoming perfect as I ate it on the way to work.

Wednesday:

This time I made it in a bowl since both measuring glasses were dirty. The cinnamon I forgot above was added. This is perfect.

Thursday:
Apparently I was in too much of a hurry to spend 3 minutes making breakfast.

Friday:

So I thought that I had the Coach's Oats oatmeal figured out. A 50:50 milk:water was used and it didn't turn out anything like water alone did. The oatmeal, with dates, as quite soupy. Overall, I'm happy with Coach's Oats. When I don't goof up the directions they come out nicely. No matter what, they aren't mushy!