As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I like to cook and bake when I get the chance. I like to test myself, trying out different recipes I ﬁnd, as well as make my old standbys that I know are liked. This week, I’m going to share some of these food items I’ve made.
Let’s start with a simple one. Who doesn’t love a slice of cake? Okay, there are some out there who don’t like cake (weirdos!🤣), but seriously, to each their own. Most of the time, I’ll go with the standard boxed cake mix. I found online how to make a cake mix more rich, instead of using water or oil, going with milk and melted butter. It makes the cake much more moist. Now, I’ve never tried the “healthier” ways of incorporating egg whites or applesauce. I don’t see how they make it better, but like I say, to each their own. I’ve found chocolate, from-scratch cakes and made those. Usually, they turn out nice.
Now you can’t have a cake without the frosting. Some like whipped cream frosting, I think they’re out of their minds🤪. For me, buttercream is an absolute must. A vanilla buttercream can be colored in any shade with the right colorings, and chocolate is very yummy. Store-bought cakes may look nice, but homemade is far superior.
Something else that is tasty and not real hard to make is meatloaf. It’s simple and versatile. I like to put in chopped onions, and I’ll go through the kitchen and add numerous other ingredients. I’ve been known to add rosemary, garlic, ketchup, mustard, plain oatmeal or bread crumbs, among other ingredients. I don’t even measure what I put in. Bake the mixed concoction at 350° until it’s cooked, then (unlike Cracker Barrel that tops its meatloaf with ketchup), I top mine with honey barbeque sauce. Another variation I found online was a bacon cheeseburger meatloaf. It’s a basic meatloaf stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon. My kids don’t seem to like that one as much (I don’t know why, it has bacon🥓), but they’ll still eat it. I like that one, because bacon.
In the realm of poultry, I’ve made a couple of variations of chicken parmesan before. One time, I tried butterﬂying chicken breast, stufﬁng with cheese and topping with sauce before baking, but I didn’t have toothpicks to hold them together, and it was messy. It also took much longer than the recipe stated (unlike steak, I refuse to eat or serve undercooked chicken🤢). Another time, I put chicken breasts into a foil-lined cake pan, topped with the ingredients and baked them. That one turned out better, but sadly, the leftovers were forgotten about and ended up in the garbage😥. Dammit, I hate wasting food!
Sometimes when I’m grocery shopping, I’ll get a frozen lasagna. My kids like lasagna, and it’s convenient. However, since I did it a couple of times years ago, I actually decided to make one from scratch a few months ago. Of course, I used oven-ready noodles and cottage cheese—I don’t have the time or patience to boil noodles to the right doneness or do the ricotta cheese thing—but it actually turned out quite tasty. Sometimes I even impress myself.
I have ventured over into the realm of Mexican food before. I found a recipe online for what I dub “gringo enchiladas”. These are not quite the authentic enchiladas. It calls for using ﬂour tortillas, and a ﬁlling consisting of shredded chicken, cream cheese, green chiles and taco seasoning mix, then rolled and topped with enchilada sauce. I prefer mild green sauce over red, but both are delightful. Other times, I get bell peppers, onions and carne asada from the store and make some fajitas. Top them with some sour cream and/or guacamole and yum.
Unfortunately, though, I’m not a culinary genius. I’ve never been to a culinary class; I don’t have the experience or imagination to actually take rudimentary ingredients and whip up a delicious dish, à la what you see on food competition shows like Chopped or MasterChef. I’m a simple man with simple tastes. When I have the night off from work, whether it be the whole day off or having worked in the morning, I try to cook something for my family at home. It may not be fancy; it might be something from the freezer, but it’s something home-cooked. Like many people, I have my days where my ambition is gone from working, and I’ll get a burger or fried chicken on my way home. There’s something satisfying for me about preparing a meal for my family and seeing their enjoyment when they eat it.
One year I got really ambitious. I took on the task of preparing food for Christmas at home. In the morning, I cooked pancakes (or was it wafﬂes? I don’t remember), bacon, eggs and hashbrowns for breakfast. After a while, I prepared dinner. Dinner was glazed ham (again, the glaze recipe I found online), mashed potatoes (not instant potatoes), corn, green beans, cranberry sauce and biscuits. In the days prior, I made several kinds of cookies and a cheesecake. That year’s Christmas dinner was a veritable feast. Yes, I was exhausted afterwards, but I enjoyed the process. By the way, the leftover ham lasted a few days, and went well with some scrambled eggs, and in sandwiches🤤.
Getting hungry yet? Honestly, I’m not at the time I’m writing this, as it’s late in the evening (I usually am writing my post drafts sometime between 22:00 and 01:00, since I’m normally up that late and it’s when I can concentrate the best), and getting close to me going to bed😴—I can’t believe there’s no yawning emoji yet. I guess it’s coming out with Unicode 12.0 later this year.
Have a great day (or evening, whenever you may be reading this). Eat some yummy food today, and please, be safe and be well.