Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I hate it when I do stupid things.

I bought the spicy chicken patties again.

I frequently buy the ingredients for a quick, microwave version of chicken parmesan. The main ingredient is, of course, chicken. I have, for many years, used Tyson frozen, breaded chicken patties for this recipe. Recently Tyson introduced a spicy version of their chicken patties and decided to market them in a package that looks nearly the same as the non-spicy patties. I found out about this about a month ago when I took a bite of my chicken parmesan and noticed a quite unexpected flavor. Only then did I check the package and find out that my chicken patties were "spicy."

Spicy chicken patties just don't taste right when used for chicken parmesan.

I improvised. I used the spicy patties for chicken sandwiches, and used the marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese for baked spaghetti. Problem solved.

About a week ago I again went shopping for the ingredients for my chicken parmesan, noting to myself that I needed to check carefully to ensure that I didn't buy the spicy chicken patties. And I did. I checked. So what went wrong? I have no idea, but last night when I went to make my chicken parmesan, I noticed that I'd indeed bought the spicy patties yet again.

More chicken sandwiches and baked spaghetti. You can bet that I won't make that mistake a third time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why I'm Happy Summer is Over...

...or Why I like the cold weather.

 Cold weather in central Texas never really gets very cold. On the rare occasion that it might, it doesn't last very long. But hot weather in central Texas is quite hot and humid. When I left the military I thought I wanted to retire someplace warm, but once I started going through menopause I realized that might not have been the smartest choice. In the many years that I have spent in Texas, I have developed a new appreciation for cold weather.

I recently sat down and made a list of the things I like about cold ("central Texas cold") weather. I'm sure there are some I've forgotten, but here is my short list:

  • Winter clothes cover my fat.
  • I can put the blankets/covers back on the bed and pull them up around my neck while I sleep.
  • Hot coffee tastes even better on a cold morning.
  • Bugs go away.
  • When it's really, really cold, bugs die.
  • The heater costs less to run than the air conditioner.
  • No humidity.
  • No lawn mowing.
  • The dogs are happier - not panting all the time.
  • I can open the windows.
  • I don't have to put my hair up to cool down.
  • When I get in the car I can actually touch the steering wheel.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Baked A Cake

Sometime back I was sitting here thinking, and for some reason the idea popped into my head to bake a cake that was the same "flavor" as my favorite ice creams. (I have several favorite ice creams.) After giving it just a little thought, I decided that I would try to bake a "mint chocolate chip" cake. It would be a cinch, I was sure. The thing that took the most thought was the frosting. Should I make mint frosting? Should I add something resembling chocolate chips? I finally decided to make a mint chocolate (chip) cake, but that flavoring the frosting would make it too minty. I also decided to skip the chips in the frosting, although it's not because I thought it was a bad idea. I just couldn't find chips as tiny as I'd have liked, and I didn't really feel like grating a chocolate bar. (Is that what it's called? That's what you call it when it's cheese.) I also didn't want frosting as sickeningly sweet as most frostings are, so I searched for an alternative.

So I bought a box of chocolate cake mix, and a bag of Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips. I also found a "reduced sugar" vanilla frosting made by Pillsbury and decided to give that a try.

I made the cake mix according to the instructions on the box, and stirred in the baking chips - about 2/3 of the bag - before pouring the batter into the pan. While baking, the cake actually rose above the edges of the cake pans (two nine-inch round pans), which caused the cake to have a crispy crust around the edges. This didn't affect the taste, but it definitely affected the texture.

Once the cake was done, I let it cool, even putting it in the refrigerator for a little while. Then I got the frosting ready.

Thinking how most mint chocolate chip ice creams are mint green, I decided to add some green food coloring to my frosting. I emptied the "ready to spread" frosting into a bowl and mixed in the food coloring. I don't know if this changed the consistency of the frosting, but when I put it on the cake it had the consistency of marshmallow cream. You know, that stuff you buy in the jar? I don't think the food coloring did anything, but maybe the mixing did.

So I baked the cake and sort of poured the frosting on and spread it around. It didn't suck. The mint ratio was just about right. Maybe I could have added more of the baking chips, but all would have been too much. And I think it was a good call not adding mint to the frosting. It didn't look like a food magazine cake, but that's okay. It tasted good. And since I'm not sharing it with anyone, who cares?! (Yes, I'm eating the whole thing myself, either until it's gone or until I'm sick of it.)

Cutting the cake didn't go smoothly because the frosting was sticky and wanted to follow the knife down through the cake. Again, that didn't affect the taste.

So, I label the experiment a success, although I doubt that I will ever make mint chocolate chip cake again. Maybe someone out there will try their own version and have a better result. If so, please let me know what you did differently.

The frosting is actually a little more green than it looks.

I would have used a paper plate if I wasn't taking a picture.