Friday, March 7, 2014

A Rant About the Food Police

Let me start by saying that I follow several food and baking sites, blogs and Facebook pages that feature food. I enjoy seeing what you're making and how you're making it. I am inspired by what you all do, and I try doing a lot of it myself. I am fully aware that there are vegetarians, vegans, meat lovers, no gluten, no sugar, only organic, non-GMO, low salt, no salt, deep fried, only eat it raw people out there who all prepare amazing foods and meals.
I know that peanut allergies, lactose intolerance, diabetes and celiac disease are serious health issues, especially if you have them. I know that some of you will have moral issues with some of things I prepare. Well, here's the deal, you're not sitting at my table or in my kitchen, and even if you were, I wouldn't force you to eat it!
I prefer to cook with fresh ingredients, from scratch. I am not however, opposed to using pre-packaged prepared foods. Take this cake, it was made from a boxed cake mix, mainly because I don't have a good recipe for a small, moist white cake.

For this cake I used half of a boxed cake mix (they were on sale for something like 99 cents so I bought several). I mixed it up using the instructions on the box, halved of course, because I only used half the dry mix. I baked it a spring form pan. When it was cooled I sliced it in half so that I had two inch layers. I whipped up one cup of heavy cream, sweetened it with Splenda, I spread a healthy bunch of it on the bottom layer and dotted it with mandarin oranges out of a can. The top layer is frosted with a cream cheese frosting (like butter cream, but use cream cheese instead of butter, flavored it with orange flavor right out of a little bottle. Garnished it with more orange slices and whipped cream, and some little dots of raspberry sauce with is nothing more than some jelly that I warmed up in the microwave.
When I posted it, out came the food police, all over my case about not including nutritional information, One even demanded that before I post any more food pictures, I must post my food handler's certification so that people would know if I actually was trained to work with food.
They wanted to know if my eggs were from free range chickens, told me about all the health issues I was going to have from eating cake. Lighten up people, if you don't want to eat it, don't. But I like cake, and I will eat it!
So to address their concerns, I've designed my own warning labels. Please note that they contain offensive language, sarcasm, and inappropriate stereo types. It's my take on sarcastic humor.

We have to let people know we used animal products

and fruit

and we all know how dangerous eating can be

and allergy alerts

basic nutrition facts

and general health warnings

It was good stuff, enjoy!

Creamy Rice and Pasta with Chicken and Vegetables

This one dish dinner is cooked in a single pan and is reminiscent of the traditional standard Rice-a-Roni available on market shelves. This home made version takes it from a side dish to meal on it's own.

1 7.02 ounce package vermicelli pasta
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
4 tablespoons butter
6 cups hot water
6 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder (or 6 cups chicken broth)
1 8 ounce block of cream cheese
1 cup cooked chicken cut into bite size pieces (mine came out of a can)
1 cup finely diced vegetables of your choice
1 tablespoon dried parsley leaves (optional)

Melt the butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat

We're going to brown the entire package in the butter

If you buy in bulk, it's just a little over a cup

Sprinkle the pasta over the butter and while it's browning

Open the cream cheese and let it sit out to softern

Remember to stir the pasta, as it should be browning nicely.

Now measure one cup of rice

And pour it in, mix it up,  and continue to brown

Now open the chicken and pour the broth into the measuring cup

Like this, we will use it.

And when it looks like this, you are ready to add the liquid

Pour in four cups of very hot water

It's really going to bubble and steam, reduce the heat to low

And add two more cups of water, for a total of six cups altogether.
If you are using a prepared broth, you will still need six cups.
Add however much bouillon you need to for whatever kind you are using
to make six cups, because that's how much water we added. I also like to
add one teaspoon for the pot.

Now add the chicken, I smash mine all up with my hands  as I add it

See, the can is about a cup, and when I use leftovers, I use a cup

Now add your veggies, I'm using some frozen veggies that I make up and
freeze myself. This batch has celery, onion, carrots, mushrooms, black olives
orange and yellow bell peppers, and some green onions. Use fresh, use what
you like and what you have on hand. I have made this with spinach only, with
broccoli only, I make it with whatever I have in my veggie crisper. Frozen mixed
veggies or a drained can of veg-all would work. You just need a cup of chopped
up veggies!

Pour them in

And just because I like it, I'm adding a tablespoon of parsley flakes, but
this is optional.

Now still it all up, put a lid on the pan, and simmer it until the rice
is done. But don't let all the liquid be absorbed, we need just a little
moisture left to make the creamy sauce.

Mine looked like this after 10 minutes.

While this is simmering, chunk up the cream cheese.

Let it simmer on down. If your rice is still crunchy, add another cup of broth,
but remember we need about this much moisture left.

Now dot those cream cheese chunks all over and spoon the hot rice over
the cheese.

Stir it lightly to make sure the cheese is all melted and stirred in.

Now turn off the burner, put the lid back on, and let it sit for 10 more minutes.
The heat will be enough to absorb the liquid and develop a creamy sauce.

After 10 minutes, remove the lid, stir some more and it's ready to serve.

I served mine on this occasion with some cheesy garlic bread. This has become
a staple in my household, happy to share.