Easy Recipe Roundup


1. Roasted Balsamic Chicken from Lattes and Leggings

I was attracted to this recipe because I had all of the ingredients on hand. And it’s quite simple. The end result was a bit too tangy for Riel and I. The combination of lemon zest and balsamic vinegar gives it a lot of bite. If you like tangy, you should definitely give this recipe a try.

Balsamic Chicken Result

2. Mexican Paleo Shrimp Scampi from Cooking Caveman

I hadn’t really heard of Mexican shrimp (except for Baja tacos, which are amazing). The ingredients list promised spicy goodness (fresh jalapeno). The odd thing about this recipe is that I couldn’t find the instructions. I just ended up chopping up and adding how ever much of the ingredients I thought would taste good. It ended up being quite delicious! I will be making this one again.

Mexican Shrimp Result

3. 5 Ingredient Broccoli Cheese Soup from Gimme Some Oven

This recipe has become one of my all-time favorites. We didn’t even really like broccoli, but I have made it three times now. It’s a warm, comforting recipe for winter and I suspect I will keep making it into the spring as well. I added potatoes to this recipe to make it a bit heartier for Riel (since it is vegetarian). I can’t believe how easy this one is. Try it. It will change your mind about broccoli.

For more things I’ve tried check out my board on Pinterest: Things I’ve Tried.

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Weird Dreams and an Intense Reluctance to Cook Dinner

Have you ever had a really weird dream? I’m always wondering why that happens. Is it stress? Did I have too much sugar before bed? I used to write my dreams down. I came across this one the other day (people have been renamed to save myself embarrassment):

We were at Jason’s house. There was an enormous, rabid mythical monster (horns, and scales, and all that) chasing after us. I was utterly panicked, but Jason was calm.

“My mother always unleashes the beast when she doesn’t want to cook,” Jason said.

Suddenly, I was in the back of my Spanish class, pretending to take notes as usual.

Really? Jason’s mom let loose a maniacal monster instead of cooking?  Actually, sometimes I can sympathize. When I am already

Scary monster! [From Pinterest]

hungry and I’m out of too many ingredients, cooking is torturous. The temptation to get take-out is brutally strong.

I wonder if the monster is really just Jason’s mom, who is hungry and would like someone else to cook for a change. C’mon Jason. Make some grilled cheese.

Have you ever felt like that when it came time to make dinner?

And of course, in normal dream fashion, I end up safely in my Spanish class for no reason whatsoever.

I’m contemplating whether to share another dream record I discovered about being rescued by “Bat Hugh,” (that is, Hugh Jackman as Batman).

My goodness.

Do you have weird dreams like this?

Pinterest Inspiration for Kitchen Organization

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Kitchen organization is incredibly important in a tiny apartment kitchen. Here are a few ideas I’ve collected on Pinterest for kitchen organization. All links on the Haphazardly Ever After Pinterest are the originals. Find more great ideas and pins from all … Continue reading

How to Make a Delicious Latte at Home

After being trained as a barista, I became even more frustrated with my home espresso machine. There are definitely a lot of advantages to those big, industrial espresso machines you see in coffee shops. But making my lattes at home is one of the main ways I save money – so I was determined to make my espresso machine work for me. Here are the tricks I’ve compiled to make delicious lattes on a home espresso machine.

coffeemakeadjusted

1. Make sure your espresso machine has plenty of water.

The easiest way to break your machine is to run it on empty!

2. Check to see that the machine is fully heated.

Turn on the steam wand (aim it into a hand towel, so it doesn’t burn you).  If your steam wand issues a flood of water, it isn’t ready. If it spews billows of steam (dangerous, burn-causing steam), it’s ready.

3. Steam your milk.

You need to steam milk for your latte before you begin to pull shots. If you don’t have any milk to put your shots in, your shots will expire (more on that later). By milk I mean anything you are using as the base of your latte: non-fat, 1%, 2%, whole milk, half-and-half, almond milk, soy milk, eggnog. They all steam up pretty much the same way.

Pour yourself about ¾ C of milk into a steam pitcher for a 16 oz. latte. Exact amounts will vary by your machine, but expect the milk to nearly double in volume through the steaming process.

Your goal is to get the milk to swirl silently around the steam pitcher. Silently is important. If your machine sounds like a cat getting hit by a train, you will have either no foam or dry foam. Dry foam is made up of large bubbles that look like soap suds. Some people like dry foam for their cappuccinos, but it has no place in your latte. When you’re done, you should have smooth, creamy foam made out of tiny bubbles. 

4. Grind your espresso beans.

There are plenty of great espresso blends out there – try some different roasts to find out what you like. Whatever beans you choose, the most important thing is freshness.

Avoid buying beans in bulk from the grocery store. There is no way to tell how long the beans have been sitting there, exposed to air and light. You want beans that have never (well, not since they were packaged) seen the light of day or experienced the fresh air. Store your beans in an air-tight container away from moisture and light. Sheltered beans will make the best possible shots. If you don’t believe me, leave your coffee beans in a bowl on the counter for a week and see how bitter they make your coffee.

You will have to experiment to figure out how much to grind your beans to suit your machine. More powerful machines can handle a finer grind – which is ideal.

5. Pack your shots.

For two shots, pack about 2 heaping tablespoons (again, you will have to experiment with the perfect amount for your machine and preferences) of ground espresso into your portafilter. Ideally, you should be able to pack the espresso quite firmly (as in 30 lbs of weight) but I’ve found that most home espresso machines aren’t powerful enough to push water through espresso that is packed too tightly – so again, experiment.

6. Select your flavor.

Put about 1 ½ tablespoons into your mug. I prefer DaVinci coffee syrups. You could also use Torani, Ghirardelli, or Hershey’s. Whatever tastes good! Note: sugar-free flavors are much sweeter than regular flavors – you will need to use less.

7. Pull your shots.

If you used a large portafilter you will pull two shots at once (as I did in the picture). Each shot should be one ounce (or two ounces total if you put them in the same glass, like I did). Don’t try to get more than two ounces out of your espresso – it will taste bitter and burnt.

Shots should be a rich, dark color with caramel colored foam on top. This foam is called crema. Good crema is the best signifier of a delicious shot of espresso.

8. Put it all together.

After you pull your shots, place them immediately into your mug along with the syrup you chose. If you let your shots sit, they will “expire,” which is a fancy way to say they will get bitter. Last, add the milk you steamed, using a spoon to ensure that you get all the creamy foam.

Be proud of yourself and enjoy your delicious homemade latte!

What is your favorite coffee beverage? Have you ever tried to make it at home?

Easy Pizza Lasagna for Picky Eaters

Picky eaters are a challenge in any household. Riel is a recovering picky eater, but this recipe predates our relationship. I adapted it from the Better Homes and Gardens’ Junior Cookbook that my mom gave me for my 8th birthday. My brother, the king of picky eaters, wouldn’t touch regular lasagna (with all that cottage cheese and heaven forbid – onions).

Ingredients

The finished product

The finished product

12 Ounces ground beef

½ Cup chopped pepperoni

2 ½ Cups spaghetti sauce

6 Lasagna noodles

3 Cups mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook ground beef and chopped peperoni in skillet on medium high heat. Drain excess fat.

Spoon 1 cup of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the 2 quart baking dish. Stir the rest of the sauce into the meat mixture.

Place 2 uncooked noodles on sauce in bottom of dish. Spread 1/3 of the meat mixture on top of noodles. Then layer 1 cup of mozzarella, 2 more uncooked noodles, 1/3 of the meat mixture, 1 cup of cheese. Then the remaining 2 noodles, rest of the meat mixture, and last of the cheese.

Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 1 hour.

Let cool for 15 minutes before removing tin foil and serving.

1 lb ground beef, add pepperoni (and onions and garlic, in this case), add sauce, and layer everything together

1 lb ground beef, add pepperoni (and onions and garlic, in this case), add sauce, and layer everything together

You Can Roast an Entire Chicken!

You might be thinking: Why bother with roasting a chicken? Well…

photo 2 (2)

My roast chicken, fresh out of the oven

  • It’s budget-friendly. It’s hard to beat 6 pounds of meat for 5-8 dollars.
  • It’s absolutely delectable. But don’t take my word for it – try it!
  • You will feel like the best chef in the universe (for goodness sakes, you roasted an entire bird!)
  • You will have leftovers! You can use your left-over chicken in fried rice, chicken noodle soup, BBQ chicken sandwiches, and anything else you can think of.

Roast chicken is easier than it seems!

This recipe is almost exactly Ina Garten’s Perfect Roast Chicken. I chose to try this recipe because there was a video to show me how to do it.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (5 or 6 lbs)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise (you need a sharp knife for this!)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 bulb of fennel (I am vastly unfamiliar with fennel, so I left this out)
  • Around 6 red potatoes, quartered (I added these, so that we could have chicken and potatoes)
  • Olive oil

Directions (from Ina’s recipe)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets [save the neck for chicken stock]. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string [I used wooden shish-kabob skewers, which I soaked in water for an hour, because I couldn’t find kitchen string – it worked perfectly] and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel [I did red potatoes instead of fennel] in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

All stuffed, tucked, and ready to cook

All stuffed, tucked, and ready to cook

Simple, Scrumptious Fried Rice

When we first got married, I had a handful of meals that I knew how to cook. But Riel didn’t like any of them! Not homemade chicken noodle soup, scalloped potatoes, or even spaghetti. I’ve since realized that my execution may not have been as impeccable as I once thought. And Riel was more than willing to cook dinner – if we wanted to order pizza or have a freezer dinner. This fried rice was one of the recipes that eased the tension when dinnertime came around.

It’s based on Rachael Ray’s Special Fried Rice, though we have made several changes (like adding meat!)

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • 1 ½ Cups white rice
  • 3 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 1/3 Cup chopped onion (or green onion)
  • Shredded carrots, bell pepper, and any other veggies you like
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce (Be careful! It is easy to ruin the whole dish with too much soy sauce)

Rachael Ray’s Special Fried Rice

 Directions:

  1. Cook rice in rice cooker (or on stove-top, if you must) and let cool.
  2. Heat up a couple tablespoons of oil on the stove-top.
  3. Scramble an egg or two in the oil.
  4. Stir in your veggies – whichever you prefer. We do carrots, onions, garlic, sometimes bell peppers or green onions.
  5. Cook your meat. We like chicken or shrimp best. Pork would probably be good as well.
  6. Add the rice and fry everything together for a few minutes.
  7. Add any frozen veggies (we skip these because Riel can’t stand peas or corn!) and soy sauce.