thehousekitchen 2.0

I’ve been neglectful of this blog the past week and for that I apologize. thehousekitchen is officially in full effect at its new locale and I’ve already become acquainted with the new digs, preparing phenomenal dishes, but I haven’t been writing. So let’s see what thehousekitchen did last week: Spinach & Romaine Salad w/ Prosciutto and Homemade Croutons: The tale of this salad begins with an urge to make Ellen think I’m into eating vegetables, so what better way to throw in a combination of vegetables than to make what scientists fondly call a “salad.” I grabbed some celery, carrots, romaine, and spinach at OP and felt very pleased with myself, especially since, thanks to Dave Calvin’s easy salad dressing recipe, I was equipped with a great go-to salad dressing I could make. The first round of saladry was as a side for a pan pizza, which I won’t  go on about because I think at this point 25% of thehousekitchen posts are about pan pizza. The dressing was great, 1 tablespoon each of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey mustard with salt & pep.  The salad was lacking though. What else to add? Onion maybe? A little tired don’t you think? Hmm maybe apple or dried cranberry? What do I look like I’m eating dessert? Okay, okay. Well you know what they say, everything’s better with bacon. That’s great, but I’ll do you one better. How about prosciutto. The next day I prepared salad again but as it was more of the main course that night I fried up some prosciutto in minced garlic, chopped it up and through it on the salad. The previous night had also given me practice in the science of croutonics. I cubed a couple pieces of whole grain bread and toasted them in the oven with olive oil and seasoning. They’re super easy and are softer than store-bought ‘tons so they don’t explode when you try to pick them up with a fork.  All together the salad was amazing. The prosciutto was strong enough to disperse flavs throughout the whole salad without making it taste like I poured an entire package of bacon-bits on it.

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  Pumpkin Cake (w/ Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting): Starbucks officially announced the beginning of autumn by beginning the seasonal sale of their pumpkin spice line of coffee beverages. I took this signal to heart and decided it was time to use the canned pumpkin I’ve had for a minute. As loyal readers may remember, last year I made a pumpkin cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and it was quite the local favorite. What started as an experiment with my mom’s pumpkin recipe developed into this cult classic that has forever changed lives.  This time around I utilized a 3-layer cake pan set instead of a 2-layer set. I’m now partial to the 3-layer set because it allows more frosting to lie within the depths of the cake and also it makes for a more elegant slice. Obviously the cake is freakin’ delicious but I’d like to take the time to discuss an important topic. Cake Tops are something near and dear to my heart. They are born from needing the bottom two layers of cake to be flat. With a serrated knife the cake tops can be acquired and put aside. Surely they shan’t be wasted. Cake Tops are seldom in the spot light and I don’t understand why. Sure they’re not the prettiest one in the office but hey they make up for it in the taste department. I’ve received multiple letters from HR saying they “work well with others.” Slap some extra frosting in betwixt two cake tops and you’ve got yourself a funky lookin’ cake sandwich thing. Don’t be mad at it. Put it in some vanilla froyo or enjoy it a la carte, you won’t regret it.

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Chicken Noodle Soup: The slightest whiff of celery gets me thinking of chicken noodle soup. I may be some sort of chicken noodle soup heathen for preferring celery in my soup and not carrots but I was born this way. My classic chicken noodle (turkey is a great substitute for the chicken) contains white onions, celery, green onion, and garlic with spices and sriracha. It has a full, rich heat to it and a hearty base. I decided store bought noodles are OUT and using my pasta press is IN. I dusted the ol’ warlock off and spent most of Sunday rolling out some tagliatelle. When the noodles were laid out and dried I started simmering some chicken in water for 45 mins, added the veggies for another 30 mins or so and turned the heat up to cook the noodles. A couple minutes later the soup was ready and I was sated like nobody’s bizz.   peace ‘n luv willie

Danger Mom Gets an Upgrade

Aight so I’ve been in good ol’ Muncie, IN aka Hometown, USA aka Luxuryville aka Tinselopolis aka Land of the Stars. I planned on making delicious food everyday but I ended up getting lazy (big surprise right? hahahahaha I’m so bad!!). I did make some carnitas for an all ladies potluck I was invited to and some pan pizza is slated for tonight, but my proudest moment was last night. I made a blueberry buttermilk cake based on my new idol Deb’s raspberry buttermilk cake recipe. This cake changed lives. My mother, who has recently undergone wrist surgery after a hardcore biking accident involving multiple mountain lions, all of which owned franklinators  After tasting the cake, which was topped with a blueberry lemon glaze of my own creation, her wrist miraculously healed. It did more than heal. She now has a bionic wrist with lasers and missiles and everything. Although it doesn’t have GPS which is kinda dumb but whatever. The cake is supes easy and I def recommend it if you want a simple cake that is sure to impress and/or heal joint injuries. One caveat is that it doesn’t heal abdominal wounds, so if you’ve gotten stabbed or shot you might want to try something called a hospital (duh, idiots).

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Next time I write I’ll be in my new location. That’s right! thehousekitchen has moved across the street and new members are joining the crew! This is an exciting time in thehousekitchen’s life so I hope you all will continue to enjoy what thehousekitchen brings to the table.

peace ‘n luv

willie

Oh hot damn, this is my jam

Well more like this is my butter. Peach butter to be precise. Yesterday I ran across a wonderful recipe by Deb and decided I had to make it. It was my first time jarring anything and I was very excited. I picked the wrong day to be using multiple burners at once, cooking the butter and sterilizing Ball jars, because yesterday was hot as butts. I halved Deb’s recipe because I wasn’t so confident in my virgin jarring abilities, so I got some peaches and went to work. The process itself wasn’t too bad, nothing too complicated, but a lot of standing in front of a hot stove. I did feel connected to my Hoosier roots though. Specifically Muncie. As a descendant of the Ball family (as all citizens of Muncie are), I poured the smooth, peachy goodness into a Ball mason jar with pride, honor, and of course swag.

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So basically the process for this is tossing the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds and blanching them so the skin comes right off. Then pitting them and chopping them into 8ths. I boiled the peach chunks in a half cup of water (the recipe called for 1 cup, but I halved it and used 2 lbs of peaches instead of 4 lbs). After cooking them, I pureed them and then returned them to their pot and added 1 cup of sugar and the juice of a lemon. 40 more mins of cooking and that gloop was looking nice and thick. As you can imagine the kitchen smelling wonderful and mythical creatures began showing up, enticed by the aroma. I had to turn away like 4 unicorns because there wasn’t enough space (plus unicorns are notorious moochers).

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The peach butter didn’t yield as much as I thought it would, but upon second inspection it yielded exactly how much it was supposed to so I can only be mad at myself (or maybe the unicorns were able to siphon some off). I sterilized the Ball jar and then boiled the whole shabang after putting the butter in it and let it cool over night. This morning the butter was nice and sealed up. I’m going to be eating it later today so there wasn’t a real reason to properly jar it other than because I FUCKING FELT LIKE IT OKAY? Some of the butter that was long the edges of the pot I scraped out and put in a little jar and ate it on toast this morning. It’s phenomenal and I’ll definitely be making it again. Special shout out to Dre for hanging out with me during most of the process.

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peace ‘n luv

willie

Enlightenment

While reading an article about zen on Wired, I had a life-changing idea. The article itself narrated the meditation and pseudo-Buddhist practices of much of Silicon Valley’s top floor thinkers and doers, like Google and Facebook. It explained some forms of meditation and I began to think of my own forms.  cooking is probably up there, I thought. And then: inspiration. I’m not sure if the mere notion of thinking about being enlightened beamed this unforgettable idea to my brain or if by some near-magical occurrence I became enlightened for a brief moment, but the idea flourished in my head like a scene from Fantasia, spiraling and dancing playfully. Say hello to the Grillzone™.

The Grillzone™ is essentially a grilled calzone. But it’s also so much more than that. It’s a means of expression. It’s a way of life. Since I had made pizza dough the night prior, the timing was impeccable to have this enlightened idea. I drew a schematic of the Grillzone™, a cross-section image of the stuffed dish. Originally, the plans called for a beef patty, however in a last minute decision, I substituted the patties for the ease and simplicity of keeping the ground beef in pieces. This decision was no problem because I am a maverick and make decisions like that all the time. I sauteed onions in a cast iron skillet and then added the ground beef, lightly seasoned. The kitchen already smelling great, I rolled out three little balls of dough (the wonderful Lauren and Daniel were over to enjoy my genius). I grated some whole milk mozz and waited for the grill to be ready. At the appropriate time (no timer necessary, it’s something that you feeeeeel), I began building each Grillzone™ with love and care. Daniel whipped up some mushrooms in red wine for me as I assembled Lauren’s savory delight. The fully loaded Grillzones™ began with the ground beef and onion mixture, and then were piled high with spinach, mozz and mushrooms. I scored the top of each  one, drizzled some olive oild and put them on the grill for approximately 20 minutes. The grill was a little bit cooler by then so I just covered the them with the grill top and let them do their thang. When they emerged I felt like the proud father of triplets. Really delicious, cheese sizzling triplets. It seems like it may be some sort of psychological issue, my affinity for feeling the pride of fatherhood when making dishes, like I did Delilah at Thanksgiving. I won’t worry about that now though. Each equipped with a Grillzone™, the three of us topped our meals with some vodka sauce and went out to the porch to enjoy our dinner with some 2 Buck Chuck. A wonderful evening with great food and even greater people.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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A Weekend of Kiko

Oh man where to begin. Yet another illustrious food weekend has come and gone and left it’s memories simmering in my mind. It all began Friday afternoon. While finishing up some work at the office, I thought that carnitas would be delicious. Now that I have a dutch oven, courtesy of Susy & Dave C Give Willie A Dutch Oven For Xmas, I decided to take on the 3-hour long process. I picked up a pork shoulder at T.I. and headed home with my 4 lb chunk of meat. Carnitas are surprisingly simple and thanks to the insights of the aforementioned Dave C. and the wonderful guidance of Deb, it was a cinch. I cubed the pork and put those gnarly fellas into the DO with water and a tablespoon of salt. While it simmered for 2 hours, did some kitchen dancing and some reading on Wired. I made friends. I made enemies. I became a Sherpa. I became licensed in giraffe conservation. Then I turned the heat up and boiled that water off. People, thehousekitchen smelled ameeeeeezing. After the water had boiled off and it was just rendered fat and delicious crisps the carnitas were ready to be swaddled in their warm corn tortilla blankets with some onion and guacamole and a little bit of shredded cheese. I forgot to get cilantro, which would’ve been a great addition, but I got lazy.  Kiko enjoyed them with me. We pigged out (pun intended) because it was pretty late by the time everything was ready, but it was so good I forgot all the training from my giraffe conservation classes.

The next morning I went to Kim and Kiko’s to make some french toast, not expecting Kiko to be there, but she was! Kim and I started cookin’ and simultaneously yelling at Kiko to get out of bed and eat with us. All she said was “ohhhh I’m not hungry oooohh I slept for 12 hours” and all we heard was “keep barging into my room until I eat french toast with you guys!” I bought cinnamon raisin bread from the Med and it fared excellently as french toast fodder. Twas a pleasant morning and as it gave way to a pleasant afternoon I headed home to fall asleep at 8:30 like a bawss.

Twelve hours later I awoke from my bear-like slumber and just like a bear, I made and drank an entire french press of coffee by myself. Kiko came over for brunch (we made these plans earlier in the week) and I made french toast again with leftover cinnamon raisin bread. But this time, I saw a chicken breast in my fridge and decided to hop it up a scotch and lay down some sweet and salty bizniz. Salt, pepper, and some brown sugar went onto the chicken and then I baked it for about 20 minutes at 350. I sliced the chicken up and laid it onto a couple slices of french toast then drizzled it with grade A maple syrup. Once again ameeeeezing. Kiko was sated, as was I.

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Before chicken and french toast

We retired to the living room to watch some Adventure Time and Kiko fell asleep for a while. She looked so peaceful I didn’t want to wake her.  What a great way to end a weekend.

 

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After chicken and french toast

peace ‘n luv,

willie

A/C Picnic

If I were to describe how often I get to see Kiko this summer, I would say ‘NEEEVVEERRRRR’. If I were to accurately describe how often I get to see Kiko this summer, I would say ‘not as much as I’d like.’ Luckily I was able to schedule dinner with the wonderful young lady and she came over Tuesday for some mac ‘n cheese. I was feeling pretty tired since I’m a full-time job having young professional (YP), so I decided that Annie’s mac ‘n cheese would suffice. Keeks arrived bearing chicken and spinach for us to give the mac ‘n cheese a little more of a WOW Factor™. Nothing too fancy though, we had to keep it real, on the real, and for the real. We cooked the chicken in some olive oil (duh) and tossed a little Kray Jane’s on their too. When the chicken was half way done I turned the heat down and popped the spinach in the pan and covered it. Where once sat voluminous spinach looking like some chick in a Garnier Fructise commercial, sat rich, dark green shrunken spinach. We added the chicken and the spin to the mac ‘n cheese. I looked at Kiko. Kiko looked at me. I looked back. She looked back. I said, “let’s say what we’re thinking at the same time,” and she said, “Okay, 1,2,3…tomato sauce!” Luckily she said her idea louder and didn’t hear what I said (“…let’s put our hands in it!”).  We added some pasta sauce and that definitely increased the WOW Factor™ to at least 112, and that’s a conservative estimate. I forgot to mention that day was HOT AY EF so we took the bowls of it to my room and sat on a blanket on the floor and had ourselves a picnic in the only air conditioned part of the apartment. I usually enjoy picnics more when there’s a view of nature and a lovely breeze, but the hum of my a/c unit and the view of my Larry David “pretty…pretty…pretty good” poster fared well also. A/C picnics will continue as long as this heat continues, so if you don’t like eating on a blanket on my floor, then don’t come over.

peace ‘n luv

willie

KB Vacations Underground

Finally. The return of KB happened. After she dropped me off at IU a couple weeks ago, I didn’t see her or hear from her. I wondered what happened to her. I figured most likely she was fine, but what if underground goblins took her to the Beneath-iverse? I’ve never been there, it sounds dangerous. I mourned her, those horrible goblins that live a mile underground had taken my best friend. Then I found out she was on a cruise and lacked wireless communication capabilities. I knew it all along. She came over for dinner on the shiny, summer Sunday evening that was last night. I prepped a couple pork steaks having bought them at the farmer’s market the day before. I didn’t know what to do with them so I just kinda let them sit outside in the sun for 45 minutes and I figured they were cooked. JK y’all I grilled them with salt and pepper. I decided to make a salad so I washed some spinach and lettuce and combined that with some raspberries I also got at the FM. I made another strawberry vinaigrette with my mom’s strawberry jam and red wine vinegar. I sliced the pork and topped the salad with it and then dressed it. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but then I cut a couple slices of FM garlic-cheddar bread and drizzled some olive oil on them. Voila, it was a meal? Yeah I didn’t really know what I was doing but it was definitely turnt up in the end. Possibly even turnt. But that’s for the Hyphy Police to figure out.

 

 

peace ‘n luv

willie