kruizing with kikukat

Monday, November 30, 2015

Cookie Jar: Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

Thanksgiving has come and gone!  I think I'm done with leftovers.  I know I am so over turkey for a while.  Of course I'll still buy D2 paper-thin sliced turkey for sandwiches, but I am not having turkey for a while.  The Safeway turkey meal turned out to be delicious, and I think it was worth the $10 premium over the Foodland meal, even if the Foodland meal includes rolls and pumpkin pie.

I ended up supplementing our meal with a pumpkin cream cheese dessert.  It was delicious.  I hadn't made it for a while, and I forgot how well pumpkin and cheesecake go together.  I still have a few slices left, and that is probably the only Thanksgiving straggler I'm willing to have.

There are fourteen more work days left before vacation.  I decided not to wait til the very end of the quarter to assign the quarter assessment.  I'm hoping my students will appreciate one less final for which to prep.  I'm also hoping they will not slack off on classwork from now until the 17th.  I can't stand the laziness.  That bugs me almost as much as the attention-seeking behaviors.

For the past few years, my senior English classes have read Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  I no longer teach seniors, and that novella isn't part of the Springboard curriculum for the grade level I teach.  Come to think of it, I don't think it's part of the Springboard curricula for any grade level.  I'm sad because students always seemed to find a message in the story, and it was a good way to end the semester.  Oh, Springboard. . .you confound me!

On a more positive note, in less than two weeks, D1 will be home.  I can only hope she will be hitting the books to prep for finals.  Sigh.  I don't know what to think.  When she was in high school I could monitor her grades; the rules changed when she went to college.  Unfortunately, I'm not savvy enough to figure out how to keep tabs on her grades.  And then I ask myself if that's something I'd even want to do.  Would I have wanted my mom to know I was slacking, or was she much happier hearing what I TOLD her?  I don't think she would've slept well if I told her what I was doing when I should have been hitting the books.

I can only hope that D1 is better than me.  I can only hope she is more responsible.  I can only hope she makes better choices.  And I can only hope she isn't drinking her dinner.  Btw, whatever happened to all those wine cooler varieties?  Bartles and James?  Sun Country?  Back then, I didn't think they were malt beverages; I swear they were wine coolers.  Cheap-ass wine, for sure.

I suppose if my need to be nosey needed satiation, I could always monitor D2's grades.  I still have access to that.  But am I brave enough?  (As I am typing this post, D2 happens to come by and spies what I'm writing.  Her response is to assume command of the keyboard and type, "No, I am not :P")  Yup, even with a few bottle of Bartles and James, I wouldn't be brave enough.  Or I might be brave enough to check, but I would need to drink something stronger before confronting.

In light of the upcoming exam week, I'm posting a cookie recipe.  If I somehow find the energy tonight, I will make these and ship them off to D1 tomorrow.  She'll be able to munch on these while she burns the midnight oil.  Perhaps it's just wishful thinking on my part . . . burning the midnight oil . . . ha ha ha!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/3 c butter
     6 tbsp Crisco
     3/4 c brown sugar, packed
     1/2 c sugar
     1 egg
     3 tbsp water
     1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
     1/4 tsp almond extract
     1 tsp cinnamon
     1 tsp salt
     1 tsp baking soda, sieved
     3 c quick oats
     1 1/4 c flour
     1 bag (11 oz) butterscotch chips
     1/4 c pecans, finely chopped

Place butter, crisco, brown sugar, sugar, egg, water, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat until combined.  Stir in oats.  Add flour.  When almost all incorporated, stir in butterscotch chips and pecans.  Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Using a #40 disher (packed, leveled), scoop cookie dough onto prepared sheets.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  While oven is preheating, chill cookie sheets.  Flatten with fingers according to preference:  1/4"-3/8" discs for flatter, crunchier cookies or 1/2" discs for thicker, softer cookies.  Bake 17 minutes.  Remove to a rack to finish cooling completely.  Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies. 

And if you're stuck on my question about the myriad of wine coolers from the 80s, you can read this to get your answer.  And wouldn't you know it. . .I cannot drink any malt-based beverage without hurling the contents of my previous meal.  Sorry if that was TMI.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Almost Homeroom : Macaroni and Cheese

Sorry for the late post...I had my setting wrong.  Senior moment. . .and foreshadowing of what to expect soon.

This year I'm trying something different.  The Help bought the turkey dinner package from Safeway.  I've never had the Safeway dinner.  A few years ago, The Help bought the Sack N Save turkey dinner.  It will be nice to compare them.  Zippy's also offers a pre-made meal, but the cost is nearly double the Safeway meal.
Since he has taken much of the work off my hands, I can expend my effort into making side dishes and dessert.  The meal comes with mashed potatoes, but since I don't think potato salad (a traditional local side dish) goes well with roast turkey and gravy, I think I will make macaroni and cheese instead.

Over the years, I have had some really good macaroni and cheese both at restaurants and at home.  Kincaid's makes a kick ass lobster macaroni and cheese.  12th Avenue Grill is known for their macaroni and cheese with alii oyster mushrooms.  I've made different versions of Barefoot Contessa's macaroni and cheese, and there is probably an infamous blue box, or two, in my pantry as I'm writing this post.  While I like to consider myself a macaroni and cheese connoisseur, I'm not the picky eater in my home.  D2 is the picky eater, and out of all the macaroni and cheese, save EasyMac, this is the only version she doesn't complain about.

This recipe was adapted from a macaroni and cheese recipe served at the Homeroom Restaurant in Oakland, CA.  You can find that recipe here.  I have never been to the Homeroom Restaurant, but I would like to purchase their cookbook and try more macaroni and cheese variations.  I would have made the Homeroom version exactly as posted, but I didn't have the same cheeses.  I am not fond of sharp cheddar either so I wasn't about to send The Help to the supermarket to buy the exact cheese.

My friend OllieMama grew up in Northern Cal, but she said she has not been to the restaurant either.  Maybe she can pay them a visit on her next trip home.  I don't have any plans to be in the Oakland area anytime soon, so until then, I will just enjoy my copycat version.  I suppose she will read this and ask me to save a portion for her to enjoy after Thanksgiving.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c milk
     3 tbsp butter
     1/4 c flour
     1 1/4 tsp salt
     8-9 oz uncooked pasta
     4 oz shredded colby & jack cheese
     1 1/2 oz grated parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
     1/4 c panko or breadcrumbs, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Allow pasta to drain while preparing sauce.  Heat milk in microwave for 2 minutes.  Melt butter in a heavy dutch oven over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk until golden brown.  Add hot milk, whisking constantly until milk is fully incorporated.  Cook 3 minutes until sauce thickens.  Add salt.  If not salty enough, add another 1/4 tsp of salt.  Stir in cheeses.  When mixture is smooth, gently stir in cooked pasta.  Heat until pasta is hot, about 3 minutes.  Serve immediately.

You may also place in 2 1/2-3 quart baking dish, sprinkle with panko or breadcrumbs, and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, but I prefer to eat this without baking.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Almost Barefoot Contessa: Orange Pound Cake

Last weekend was my birthday.  Another year closer to being really over the hill.  I can't believe how old I FEEL.

I spent my birthday on the west side.  The Help drove me and TheRents out for a Costco run.  We had lunch at The Blue Room.  I even made it in time to go to my favorite yarn store.  All in all, it was a great day.  But there was one thing missing:  birthday cake.

OllieMama keeps raving about the carrot cake at Costco, but I did not see any when I was there.  I saw some large red velvet cupcakes, but no carrot cake.  It didn't matter because I didn't feel like having carrot cake anyway. 

I came home from Kona, exhausted, but decided to make my own birthday cake.  I felt like something citrus-y so  I made orange pound cake.  I made a half recipe of the mini loaf pan version. . .only because I figured I'd be expected to share some.

This cake has been adapted from the Barefoot Contessa's recipe.  I leave out the orange zest, and I use large eggs, instead of extra-large eggs.  Because I usually use local navel oranges, the zest is not the perfect orange color found on supermarket oranges; it is a green-gold color, which, in spite of the added flavor, does NOT look appetizing in a cake.  I guess my inability to bring myself to pay the premium for extra-large eggs is why I just use large eggs. . .it's what I buy. The icing is also thicker with my recipe than with the original recipe.  I like the icing to slowly ooze down the sides, not run down in a thin shell.

 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c butter, softened
     5 c sugar, divided per recipe instructions
     8 large eggs
     6 c flour
     1 tsp baking powder
     1 tsp baking soda
     2 tsp salt
     2 c orange juice, divided per recipe instructions
     1 1/2 c buttermilk
     2 tsp vanilla
     4 1/4 c powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 8 mini loaf pans or 4 4 x 8" loaf pans (or 4 mini loaf pans and 2 4 x 8" loaf pans).  Cut parchment paper to fit bottoms of pans.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine 1 c sugar and 1 c orange juice.  Set aside.  In a medium measuring cup, combine buttermilk, 1/2 c orange juice, and vanilla.  Set aside.  Cream butter and 4 cups sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Divide mixture among pans.  If using mini loaf pans, use 4 level #10 dishers per pan.  Bake 42 minutes for mini loaf pans or 55 minutes for 4 x 8" loaf pans.  While cakes are baking, heat orange juice & sugar mixture until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.  Let cakes cool 10 minutes in pan.  Remove loaves to wire rack set over a shallow pan.  Pour warm syrup evenly over each loaf.  When completely cool, make icing by combining powdered sugar and 6 tbsp orange juice.  Pour over cakes and allow icing to dry and harden before wrapping or serving.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Shoyu Chicken

Going to work after Halloween is hard.  Kids are all strung out on sugar, and if that wasn't bad enough, the candy wrappers don't seem to find their way to the trash can.  I'm hoping the candy will be gone by now. . .until the major onslaught of  Christmas treat advertising begins in a few weeks.

I can hardly wait.

It is now very noticeable that the days are shorter.  The Help and I went out just after 6 pm last night and it was already dark.  As we passed the golf course, The Help lamented that his days of Sunday outlaw golf are gone for the next few months.  True dat.

I am looking forward to a holiday this week.  It's nice how the week is split in half.  Fall intersession was just over a month ago, but it seems like a long time ago, and Winter break seems like it's a long way off as well.  I know it will come quickly, but at this point, even Thanksgiving seems far away.

Before I left work on Friday, I made sure to have my mid-quarter grades figured out.  The same students who earned Fs for the 1st quarter are earning Fs for mid-quarter.  Both Fs are due to non-attendance.  I absolutely hate it that attendance gets held against schools.  It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to see that the child gets to school.  The person who decided to hold student non-attendance against individual probably never taught a day in his/her life.  But like it or not, the local public education system has deteriorated to the point where now schools are crucified when the non-attendance rate is high.  These chronic non-attenders would not attend no matter the school, but to the state office, non-attendance of a student means the school is not doing something right.  What a crock!

On the bright side, my school doesn't fault teachers for failing chronic non-attenders.  One of my friends taught at a school where the dumb administrator told her failing students was forbidden.  The administrator told her that failing students is the job of high schools.  No wonder we get so many students who cannot do the work!  Only high school administrators must know the value of a high percentage of students passing end-of-course exams.

Okay, enough bitching about work.  Time to start thinking about what to make for dinner.  When D1 was home, I'd always be stumped as to what kind of chicken dish to prepare.  D1's affinity for poultry was limited to ginger chicken soup, gai jow, and, occasionally, cold ginger chicken.  KikukatMom could not get over how D1 could stand the strong ginger flavor of the soup.  With D1 away, shoyu chicken is D2's oft-requested chicken dish.  And for D2, the star anise is the best part...she loves to suck on the points of the stars at the end of the meal.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     3 lbs chicken
     3/4 c shoyu
     1 tbsp honey
     1/2 c brown sugar, packed
     1 1/4 c water, divided
     3 cloves garlic, crushed
     1" piece ginger, sliced fine
     1 star anise
     2 tbsp shao hsing wine
     2 tbsp cornstarch
     1 tbsp chopped green onions

Parboil chicken for 10 minutes.  Rinse chicken and drain well.  Set aside.  In a medium pot, combine shoyu, honey, brown sugar, 1 c water, garlic, ginger, star anise, and shao hsing wine.  Bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes.  Add chicken to pot.  Simmer 45 minutes.  If time permits, refrigerate overnight and skim off hardened fat or use a fat separator to remove oil if not able to chill overnight.  If chilled overnight, heat chicken until simmering.  Remove chicken to a large serving bowl.  Remove and discard garlic and ginger.  Combine cornstarch and 1/4 c water.  Stir into simmering liquid and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Pour over chicken.  Garnish with green onions.

Many, many thanks for all the birthday wishes this weekend.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Amaretto Custard Bread Pudding

OMG!  This past week was brutal.  The kids in school were awful.  I'm certain they were high on Halloween candy all week.  They were hyper and difficult to settle.  I called several parents, and I came very close to submitting a disciplinary referral.  It would have been my first for the school year.  But I decided I could deal with the infraction in a different way.  I made a call home and the kid caught heat when he got home. . .or so he told me.

I also spoke with several students about respecting personal space.  Some students think nothing about going right up to others (both minors and adults) and sitting so close they are practically on the lap of the other person.  Other students persist in trying to grab items from others, perhaps not realizing that at some point, their hands or ON the other person's body.  They needed to be sent the message that "no means no".  I don't think they take "no" seriously when they hear it, erroneously always assuming that an acquaintance won't see their invasion of space as assault/attempted assault.

A few years ago, there was a similar incident with another student.  Several teachers made excuses for the student, saying "___ is just like that.  ___ means no harm."  I considered not saying anything then, but what jarred me was the thought that if my own child had been the victim, would I want a teacher to turn away, rationalizing their inaction at attempting to curtail the inappropriate behavior?  The answer was clear, and that is why I decided to make sure the perpetrator received consequences for his/her actions.  I hope any teacher who has my child in class will apply the same principle.

What I find most bothersome is that some students see nothing wrong with their own behavior and say, "oh, dats my friend.  They don't mind."  That kind of delusion will bite them in the ass one day.

Speaking of biting, my jaw seems much better, but now a different pain has replaced the achy jaw.  I think I have another cracked tooth.  I don't know how it happened.  Oh, never mind.  I know how.  I will need to wait until late November to see my dentist.  Anyway, until I can get a dental appointment to repair my tooth, I'm trying to eat soft things (no Cape Cod potato chips for me)

With the weather getting cooler, I find the luscious custard texture of bread pudding very comforting.  It's also soft enough that I'm not wincing when I chew.  The rich sauce makes this an extra decadent dessert.  Who would've thought stale bread could taste so good.

Now to prepare myself for another week of kids high on OLD Halloween candy. . .

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb bread, cubed (about 10-12 cups of cubes)
     1 qt milk
     6 eggs, reserve 1 yolk for sauce
     1/2 c sugar
     1 c cranberries
     1 tbsp vanilla
     7 tbsp amaretto, divided
     1/2 c butter
     1 c powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13" baking dish.  In a large bowl, pour milk over bread cubes.  Beat eggs (except for 1 yolk) and add to bread cubes.  Add sugar, cranberries, vanilla, and 3 tbsp amaretto.  Stir gently.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Begin preparing sauce 5 minutes before bread pudding is done.  Heat butter and powdered sugar in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir constantly until butter is completely melted.  Add 4 tbsp amaretto and reserved egg yolk.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  When bread pudding is done, poke holes all over bread pudding.  Pour sauce over and let soak in.