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littlemissmuffin's Profile

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please critique my menu

What a delicious menu! I am going to use some of these in an upcoming party I am having. For something fresh in the fall, my sister makes Sweet Potato Salsa and I believe the recipe is from Martha Stewart. It is really good - the sweet potatoes are baked (I think)but still crunchy, and it tastes very fresh from the avocado and cilantro. Also, I have made apple salsa a few times to put on pork chops or grilled chicken and it might be a nice addition with crackers. Here is the recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/fresh-ap....

Oct 30, 2014
littlemissmuffin in Home Cooking

4 cheeses, 4 courses

I loved "Pushing Daisies" and remember that pie! I generally do not care for fruit pie but pear with gruyere sounded so delicious. Thank you for posting the link - I am going to give it a try.

Oct 18, 2014
littlemissmuffin in Home Cooking

"I Don't Cook"

I know many many people who don't cook. Several of my single friends never cook, and the only food they have at home is cereal and Diet Coke. And when I was single I didn't cook - I ate out or microwaved Lean Cuisines. So to me that does not seem strange. It's a lifestyle choice, and only affects the person who made the choice.

What always surprises me is families where no no one cooks. So many of my daughter's friends are amazed that I cook everyday, and say, 'My mom doesn't cook" or "My parents can't cook." I want to know - what do they eat???? How are these children surviving - on school lunches and Pop Tarts? I have tried to subtly pry to find out the answer: "So, what do you usually have for dinner at your house?" And the answer is usually pizza, whether takeout, frozen, or just pizza rolls that the kids microwave themselves.

And then there is my daughter's boyfriends family - they eat out every night. Mom, dad, son, daughter, and often grandma, aunts, and assorted cousins will join them. The boyfriend told me that since his mom and dad work they don't have time to cook dinner. But they have time to drive 45 minutes one way to get to a restaurant! By the time they order and eat, that's about 2.5 hours - much longer than it would take to make spaghetti or grill chops and toss a salad.

"I Don't Cook"

My father loved his Ensure! This was a man who had been fed delicious, hearty home cooking for 80+ years, first by his mother, then for 50 years by his wife, then after he was widowed by his 4 daughters. But in the last 5 years of his life he was ill and on many medications and lost his appetite, and many foods made him sick. So he began drinking Ensure, and he thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread! A triumph of science, all the nutrition and calories you can hold in one little can.

I know many older people who drink Ensure due to digestion/health reasons. I don't think drinking it has anything to do with not liking to cook - after all, a package of baloney and loaf of bread is just as easy and much cheaper.

Leftover smoked bbq pork loin

I love that idea! We have the bags of Asian Salad frequently, and I usually serve with grilled glazed salmon or thin pork chops, but we do get bored with it sometimes. Next time I am going to follow your lead and add the pork into the salad!

Aug 26, 2014
littlemissmuffin in Home Cooking

Picky eaters are the bane of my existence...and now I live with them

I think that is the perfect way to deal with it. It lets her be in control(very important to a 15 year old!), and makes meal time about togetherness rather than the food. We had a similar issue a few years ago with a foster child who was super-picky and had control and food issues. At her group home there were constant quarrels about food and she would steal food, hide food, gorge on snacks, refuse to eat at meals, etc. They responded by locking up all the food and requiring her to eat what everyone else ate, and it just increased her problems. When she stayed with us they wanted us to be very strict and lock our pantry and make her eat the family meal, but I took the exact opposite approach: Here's the food, eat what you want, this is what is for dinner, if you don't like it make a sandwich and join us at the table, if you're not hungry at least sit and talk with us. The first few days she was touchy and suspicious at meal time, then when she realized it was a non-issue she was fine and often just ate what we were all having.

Cheap Beef Meals

When I make tacos I frequently add mashed black beans to the meat. It blends in nicely and adds a smoky flavor. As an added plus, it makes the meat thicker and it sticks together better on the taco - less messy!

Aug 19, 2014
littlemissmuffin in Home Cooking

When you were starting out in the kitchen what did you make?

My mother was a good cook, but she cooked plain farm food - meat and potatoes, beans and cornbread, vegetables she canned, lots of baking from scratch. I learned to cook all those things at a young age, but when I left home for college I did not cook again until I got married.

Then when I started cooking on my own, at age 25, I made the exact opposite kind of food, and because it wasn't something I had ever learned to make, it wasn't very good. For example, I made a lot of pasta (which we never had at my parents - my dad considered it "foreign food") but I always either over or under cooked it, and never seasoned my pasta water, and frequently burned my sauce. I couldn't cook rice either, somehow it was mushy but undercooked at the same time. I made London broil in Italian dressing, and I cooked it to death. I bought a fancy spice box at a pretentious gourmet grocery and proceeded to put cumin and tarragon in things that cumin and tarragon were never intended to be in. And I remember I made "impossible pie" all the time, because my husband liked it and the Bisquick box had a bunch of different ones on it. I quit making that when I tried the recipe for taco impossible pie and microwaved the hamburger, forgot to drain it, then mixed with taco sauce and baked and when I served it we couldn't decide if the disgusting pink juice in the pan was blood or taco sauce!

Soon after that I became a Martha Stewart fan (it was the 90's!) and bought one of her cookbooks and it was a revelation for me. My mother had never used a cookbook and while I owned some, I had primarily just read the ingredient lists then winged it. I realized there were rules to cooking, and once I learned them my cooking improved greatly. Then I started watching Food Network (on maternity leave) and at that time, they actually taught cooking, so I am now a MUCH better cook. I still cook very different food than my mom, much lighter and lots of ethnic food, but I do occasionally make some of her dishes and enjoy them.

what can i use to "raise" food off the ground on a picnic. Like a cake plate but not breakabe

A metal washtub. You can pack everything in it, it has handles on either side so two people can pack it between them, then you flip it, cover with a tablecloth and have a table! I do this often because the tub fits right in my trunk.

So annoyed with dinner guest

I am so sorry this is happening to you! I can understand how you feel - in fact I know people just like him, unfortunately. I think people who always complain about the food others fix or the restaurants others chose fall into two camps:
1, People who use food as a way to be in control. They usually have special diets or allergies of are just ridiculously picky, and they preface every meal with "I hope it's not..." or "I don't eat that," etc.
2. People who are immature. They act like a spoiled 5 year old, and cannot reason that this is not their last meal so it doesn't have to be their favorite food, and have not been taught it's rude to criticize a meal someone has specially prepared.
One of my best friends falls into both categories, and eating with her is hell on earth. She makes faces when food is served, says things like, "That looks like an autopsy" when someone orders rare meat, picks things apart on her plate looking for offending ingredients, will say, "This is disgusting" when tasting something a friend has cooked, etc. One of our other friends gets furious when this friend pulls her shenanigans, but I just shrug and ignore it. It's her issue, not mine, and I am not going to let it ruin my good time and good meal!

What's your summer guilty pleasure?

That. Sounds. Amazing. Lemon Meringue is my favorite dessert ever. Is Turkey Hill Farms a commercial brand, or an ice cream shop?

Do you cook when you're down?

I don't cook, but I sure eat! Last week I was tired, had a sinus headache, worried about various things, and I ate a bag of cheesy puffs and half a roll of cookie dough for dinner. And the other half for breakfast.

Bloomington Indiana Trip Report – Vegetarian

I always find it funny that a restaurant named "Farm" serves so few vegetables - their menu, especially the entrees, are very meat-heavy. You are lucky the service was good - it can be downright awful at times. Regulars just accepted that Farm had great food, terrible waitstaff, but I think they are trying to get a better reputation for service now. Breakfast is where they really shine.

I agree with all your other observations: Laughing Planet has great burritos and ditzy staff, Scholar's is over-rated, ALL the Indian food in town is bland, and everyone is friendly. I will not comment on Mother Bear's, it is a Bloomington tradition!

Next time you're here try Finch's, they usually have or will make vegetarian options and Jeff Finch is an amazing chef.

Mar 21, 2014
littlemissmuffin in Great Lakes

What's in your slow cooker today

I made the Moroccan Chicken using the Campbell's slow cooker packet and it was okay, but I will probably not make it again. I used frozen boneless skinless thighs and the meat had a good texture, but the sauce was bland and very thin. I don't know if the frozen meat released so much liquid it watered it down? Even if it had been thicker I don't think I would have liked it - to me "Morrocan" means lots of spices, a little sweetness, some heat, and this had none of that.

Feb 05, 2014
littlemissmuffin in Home Cooking

Apparently it is World Nutella Day

The easiest Nutella recipe ever: 1 cup Nutella, 1 cup flour, 1 egg. Mix (it is dry so I squish it with my hands.) Make into small balls and bake at 350 til set but still gooey in the middle. Mmmmmm!

(My sister flattens her cookie balls and bakes til crispy, and they are good too, but I like melty better)

Feb 05, 2014
littlemissmuffin in Home Cooking

What's in your slow cooker today

I have used a few of the Campbell's slow cooker packets - my sister is a big couponer and got some cheap but her husband is super-picky so she gave them to me.So far I've tried the Korean beef and the luau.

I like that you don't have to brown the meat, yet when it is done there is a nice crispy-ish crust. I think this is because there is a lot of sugar that creates the browning - and I mean a LOT of sugar. The luau was sickeningly sweet to me, but the Korean beef was not bad.

My daughter loved the Korean beef so I have made it three more times. After the first time I added extra spices (ginger, chile, garlic) and some soy sauce to cut down the sweetness. I use chuck roast and the first night we have it with rice and crispy broccoli, then the leftovers become Korean tacos.

I have the Moroccan chicken one I plan to use this week and I will report on how it is.

Jan 18, 2014
littlemissmuffin in Home Cooking

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #13 - 01/08/14 (Spoilers)

But Carlos is faring better than Nick, or at least just as well. Carlos and Nick have both had 2 Elimination wins, but Carlos has been in the top group 5 times and the bottom group twice, while Nick has been in the top group only 2 times and the bottom group 4 times. And Carlos may have not known what etouffee was, and thus been in the bottom 4, but Nicholas knew what it was and was in the bottom too.

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #13 - 01/08/14 (Spoilers)

But it might not have been the concept of the dish but the execution that was flawed. I mean, it sounded wack to me, but what do I know?

I believe if Chef Crenn recommended using the corn silk, then it can be done and done successfully. (I bet Richard Blaid could do it!) Nick did not do it well, and Stephanie expressed her concern - and he rudely brushed her opinions aside. He chose to put it on the plate.

Also, the chicken was dry and the chocolate sauce bad, and the flan grainy. I am not a chef or even very skilled home cook, but I can make moist chicken, a good chocolate adobe sauce and a smooth flan. Those are execution errors, plain and simple.

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #13 - 01/08/14 (Spoilers)

I also am irritated by the comments about Carlos' Mexican cooking. A real chef has a style, and as a Mexican chef with a Mexican restaurant, yes, Carlos puts a Mexican spin on his dishes. They are certainly not all classic Mexican (which they easily could be - Mexican cuisine has a huge range) but even if they were, so what? No one would be bothered by a chef using classic French technique and flavors in every challenge.

NYTimes: 103-year-old dines out every night on fish says, "It’s my therapy, it lifts my spirits.”

How funny - I have done the opposite. I used to salivate over couture, now I just ogle charcuterie.

Do you have trouble eating when you are home alone?

Since I am NEVER home alone I can't answer for certain, but in my imagination, if I could get the house to myself I would do nothing but eat! Cheese, chocolate, repeat - all day long.

But sometimes I am hungry and nothing sounds good, and lately at times like that I have been having pita/garlicky hummus/olives. I like the tanginess and acidity.

Fawlty Towers ..

"Waking Ned Divine" is my favorite movie!

Fawlty Towers ..

Haven't seen the episode recently, but as I remember it:

"This orange juice isn't fresh!"
"Of course it is, I just opened the bottle."

Your flaws as a cook. Here are mine.

My husband had this same problem to the extreme! He could not think "This takes one hour to cook, I'll start it first, then this takes 10 minutes, I'll do it last." His solution was to just serve each item as it was done. We never ate in the dining room when he cooked, my daughter and I just sat in the family room and he would bring in a bowl of mashed potatoes, then 20 minutes later some salad, then in half an hour some baked chicken.

Sep 10, 2013
littlemissmuffin in Home Cooking

Whole chicken in a slow cooker............"No Harm/No Fowl"

I make whole chicken in the crockpot often and we like it! It isn't roast chicken like my mother made with a crackling skin, but it is tasty in it's own right. I think the key is keeping the chicken elevated. I cut lemons in half and cover the bottom (also strew about some garlic cloves and herbs) then place the chicken on top, and it steams to a beautiful clean white. It has a faint lemony flavor and is very juicy, and leftovers make great chicken salad. I think I'll make one today!

Now as for that 6 hour ravioli...no. Just no.

Sep 10, 2013
littlemissmuffin in Home Cooking

Restaurant Birthday Party- You're Invited But You Have to Pay

Everyone needs to watch the "Nina's Birthday" episode of Portlandia, which epitomizes the current ridiculousness adult birthday parties have achieved.

I hate to sound like an old fogey (I'm 41) but to me, birthday celebrations are for children. I have a few good friends I take to lunch or dinner for their birthday, and they do the same for me, but I would never consider inviting a bunch of people to a restaurant to celebrate my birthday - and then expect them to pay!

Your best salmon recipes

I would love to have the marinade recipe. We eat salmon at least once a week so I am always looking for new ways to make it.

Aug 06, 2013
littlemissmuffin in Home Cooking

Why are certain cuisines more prone to all-you-can-eat style restaurants?

I wonder if one reason these restaurants originated might be that, for the customer who had never tried a cuisine such as Chinese or Indian, an AYCE buffet is less threatening. You don't have to know anything to order, you can try small amounts of new things and if you don't like something you can get something else. Over time, it just became traditional and expected that certain cuisines would be buffet. In my town there are three Chinese buffets, but no full-service Chinese restaurants - who would go to one when the AYCE are so inexpensive?

It's a good business model too - takes less waitstaff, they can be less trained, it saves on menus, is easier for the cook, allows faster turning of tables, the bookkeeping should be pretty easy...

Cringeworthy dishes by people who think they are terrific cooks...

That reminds me of a magazine article I read once, of someone reminiscing about English school food in the 1970's. He said the fish fingers weren't fully defrosted, so they were nice and brown on the outside, but the insides were icy. The students called them "fish popsicles."

Cringeworthy dishes by people who think they are terrific cooks...

They were sweet! My husband is afraid of goats (he was bit by one at a petting zoo when he was a child, and thirty years later he still gets all skittish when we get near the goat barn at the fair) but even he loved them.