Saturday, May 21, 2016

Big Lake

Up early again for the Market, and that means one thing:

After the Market, I had some of that chicken that I grilled up last night.

10 ounces, to be exact.

But throughout this past semester of school, I had developed a longing to get back up to Big Lake. Every time I smelled a fire, I thought of Big Lake. Every time I saw a boat, I thought of Big Lake. I just wanted to go up to the lake, smell a bonfire, go for a boat ride, and just simply relax. I wanted to relax knowing I didn't have an exam next week or any homework due. I just wanted to relax, and now that school is temporarily over, that is exactly what I did.

For dinner, we grilled some brats.

I also had another leftover taco burger patty with some Velveeta cheese.

It just felt nice to be back at the lake again.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mi Piace il Formaggio!

Yes, it's true. I like cheese. Today, I ate cheese. It was good.

But let's start at square one on the day. I had the best breakfast in the world.

This brotein burst got me through my 2-hour volunteer shift.
When I got back home, Sidney was just starting to bake her cookies for the market. I was just in time to help her. My job is usually to mix up all the cookie dough, and today was no different. I'm becoming an expert in cookie dough mixing, but if I ever have to bake them, I'm in trouble. Actually, I think I could do it. Unless, of course, I just ate all the cookie dough before it had a chance to bake. Anyway, I was plugging along, happily mixing dough in a kitchen kemistry extravaganza. There was sodium bicarbonate here, monocalcium phosphate there. Everything was going swimmingly, and then Sidney tapped me on my shoulder. I whipped around to see what this interruption should warrant, and there she was, looking adorable in her poofy hairnet, holding out a piece of surplus cookie dough. After a very brief inner battle, I accepted the cookie dough ball and consumed it rather quickly, all the while enjoying and savoring the absolute wonderfulness that is a Sidney cookie (even though I had just mixed the dough up not 5 minutes prior). 

Anyway, I told myself that that would be the only carby, tasty, wonderful dough I would accept. I am, after all, trying to limit my carbs and calories while maximizing brotein. Cookies don't have much brotein, so cookies don't have much of a place in my diet. 

To make a short story shorter, I failed miserably in my attempt to resist. It was just too hard to turn down Sidney in all her adorableness, especially when she was holding unbelievably great-tasting cookie dough. All in all, I think I had 4 moderately-sized balls of cookie dough. But hey, at least they had eggs in them!

After we were all done baking, Sidney used up the last little bit of dough cake dough.

Quite literally, I ate dough. Not a pancake, not a crepe, no. Dough. Just dough. Dough with strawberries. But mostly dough. Plain and honest dough. Carby dough. Dough.

Having eating my year's quota of carbs in just a few short minutes, I decided that I wanted to try a new recipe. I originally found this recipe on YouTube via Laura in the Kitchen, with the actual recipe written out here. I've had several past successes following her recipes, so I was pretty excited about this one.

It was Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken, because why not more carbs? I followed the recipe to the letter, doubling everything so to have more (hopeful) deliciousness. We seasoned the chicken with garlic and onion powders, cooked them in a colossal amount of butter, then added the cream, then cheese, then chicken back in, then noodles.

It was starting to look really good, and it was smelling quite fantastic. It was almost time to taste!

In the past year I've found myself to be quite the Fettuccine Alfredo connoisseur, with my initial favorite being the Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Chicken at La Strada Italian Grill in Lake Lure, North Carolina. The sauce in that particular interpretation was absolutely incredible. Since then, I've tried many different Fettuccine Alfredos, always comparing them to La Strada. It wasn't until about a month ago that I found another Fettuccine Alfredo that I deemed to even compete with La Strada, and that was Anthony's in downtown Kansas City.

So I had high hopes for this recipe. Just imagine if this recipe produced Fettuccine Alfredo to rival those greats. I wouldn't have to leave home to indulge. I could make it anytime I wanted it, and I could eat so much more and for so much cheaper, too! I was beginning to get really excited. But the proof is in the puddi...rather, Alfredo.

After the initial taste test, the consensus was... we have a winner!! While not duplicating perfectly the taste of either La Strada's nor Anthony's Fettuccine Alfredo, this recipe produced such a cheesy, buttery, creamy, garlicky, oniony, wonderfully, tasty-y, yummy-y, goody, excellenty, fhafkldyy, ajkladayy, ejfjcbsyy, EIOEOOE, EOIEOIOIE, EIOOOIEIEIOOOIOEE...

This was simply great. It was one of the best edible things I've ever had a part in making. It was just so rich and creamy, and the Parmigiano-Reggiano brilliantly shone through. I would make this stuff every day if I was on a high-carb diet. But I'm not. I'm on a high brotein diet. So I only ate a little bit. 

Admittedly, I did have a couple extra pieces of chicken and some more noodles, but I left about 90% in the pan. It's now in the fridge, cold and alone. But I must persevere. After eating all these carbs and fat (read: mucho calorias), I thought I was done eating for the day.

Oh how the day was plotting against me. 

I then had to attend a graduation party for a friend of Sidney's sister. This party was in a hotel convention center, and was shared by 5 other graduates. This meant a lot of people. And a lot of people meant a lot of food. I was done in for when I spotted the chicken strips.

I then determined that, for the second time today, my will power would falter. A few seconds later, I was sitting at a table with a plate that looked like this:

It had pita and hummus from Aladdin Cafe, there were a couple bacon-wrapped lil' smokies, there was a roll, there was some pulled pork, there was some cheesy pasta, and there were the chicken strips with ranch. I was feeling rather adventurous, so I dipped a chicken strip in some hummus. 

It was actually really good. But when you combine two foods that are really good, the result is probably going to be really good, too.

Sidney grabbed me a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting for good measure. 

On the way out, I saw that the candy table had a thing full of Sour Patch Kids. Of course I had to grab some. 

I threw in a Swedish Fish just because.

When I got back home, I resolved to eat only chicken for the next few days.

I seasoned some more chicken with ample amounts of garlic and onion powder, then grilled it. I did sample a couple pieces, but only to assure they tasted good. I put the rest straight into the fridge. 

And that was it.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Crème de la crème

Crème brûlée and éclair cake. There were a lot of symbols in today's desserts.

But you can't eat dessert first! (Just kidding, you totally can. Should, in fact.) 

But today I did not. I started the day with a brotein bar.

Then Sidney and I started on our famous crème brûlées. We used six egg yolks, so that left us with some egg whites left over. You can do the math, but there were around six egg whites left. What do we do with leftover egg whites? We make egg white omelettes, of course!

I sauteed some onions, added in the egg whites, and then threw some cheese on top. It was actually pretty good.

Later, Sidney and I decided to go play some mini golf. I took her to the beautiful downtown Parkville, MO. The course was a bit hilly, but her reward for beating me was an ice cream cone. They were out of chocolate flavors, so I was forced to be fruity for once. I got cherry...

...and she got strawberry.

We enjoyed the rooftop view while eating our ice cream. Both flavors were actually very good, though the waffle cones paled in comparison to those from Sylas and Maddy's. But this experience with fruity flavored ice cream has me seriously considering making my next visit to Sylas and Maddy's a fruity one as well.

We then decided to walk around the small downtown area to see what there was. We went into a sweet shop, you know, just to look around. Unfortunately, while we there, I was informed that none of the chicken eggs Sidney's mom was incubating developed into chicks, and that they had officially lost their battles with biology. Sidney was heartbroken upon learning of this, so she decided to drown her sadness in fudge.

This variety of fudge was cookies-and-cream flavored, and it was pretty good.

We then strolled through English Landing Park next to the Missouri River. We swung on the swings that my dad and I would frequent when I was younger.

These swings are simply some of the best swings ever. They are tall, each one has its own individual frame section, and they are just awesome! I always wondered how my dad could go so high, and now here I am swinging higher than Sidney with her wondering how I could swing so high. It was a cool moment.

We then walked along some of the paths through the park, watched the trains go by on the nearby track, and enjoyed the nice weather.

After a little while of this, we headed back home. Once there, I had a leftover taco burger patty with Velveeta "sharp cheddar" "cheese." This tasted really, really good. It was admittedly better than the burger I had yesterday that had the shredded Colby and Monterey Jack on it.

We all then went down to Ye Olde Pizza Ranch for some good eats. My dad has been wanting to return and swears by the fried chicken. I had never been to Pizza Ranch, so I was excited to try it.

It was a buffet style kind of place, but I employed a slightly different strategy. Building on the technique I used at Aladdin Cafe (where I started with two plates from the beginning), here I started with three.

I got one plate that featured a salad of spinach, hard boiled eggs, red onions, cheese, and the thickest ranch I had ever seen.

The next plate consisted of their pizza-related offerings. There was a slice each of barbecue pizza and Buffalo chicken pizza, there was a small piece of cheese bread stick, a couple fried potato wedges, and some homemade potato chips.

My final plate consisted, of course, of a selection of their fried chicken.

I'll say that the salad was very good, though how could it not be with all the cheese and ranch that I put on it? The pizza was pretty good, though pretty run of the mill. It was nice to see some of the specialty ones like barbecue and Buffalo chicken. The fried potato wedges were decent. The chips were good, though each one probably had about 10 grams of salt on it. And the chicken was really good. It probably was the best thing they had. It showed it, too, as it would run out soon after they would bring out a fresh batch. That being said, nothing tasted bad, and it was nice to have such a wide variety of food. 

I went back and got a biscuit, which seemed to have some kind of butter solution injected directly into it. 

I then tried a slice of the Alfredo pizza, and it was good too. I think my favorite rendition of pizza was the Buffalo chicken pizza, though.

I then had another piece of fried chicken; a leg this time.

After this, I was pretty well full, and decided to call it good. Plus, I knew that we had desserts waiting for us when we got home!

Up first were the Sidney and Zach specials.

We didn't have a suitable torch, so I caramelized them under the broiler. This method takes longer, makes the ramekins too hot to handle, and heats up the custard, so I would highly recommend using the torch method whenever possible.

Contrary to what the above photo may have you believe, we did indeed make 4. One of them was taking its sweet time caramelizing, and it eventually past the point of no return on prettiness. It poofed way up in the middle for some reason.

One of the hallmarks to look for when eating this dessert is the crunchiness of the top. Well, I think this one passed that test! The whole top was essentially solid!

But it was still delicious, with the custard underneath perfectly cooked and set, although it was a bit warm due to the broiling.

Next, we had my mom's eclair cake.

It was super delicious, and actually caused a small controversy in Sidney's household when we brought it back because there were only three pieces up for grabs. You snooze, you lose!

After eating this piece of eclair cake, I wanted just a little bit more, so I got a couple spoonfuls of the leftover pudding filling.

MmmMmmMmmMmmMmmm! Today was a very enjoyable day, from the fun to the food!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Taco Burger Wednesday

There was some leftover chicken from last night, so I thought that that would be good for breakfast. But it simply wouldn't be enough by itself. Luckily, I had a brand new box of brotein bars in a flavor brand new to me. So I thought I'd give 'em a try. 

(The one on the right)

The moment of truth was upon me.

The results are in...and...they're promising. I really like the chocolate peanut butter flavor. I can't say whether it's better than the chocolate peanut caramel or not, but what I can say is that the chocolate deluxe definitely comes in third. In fact, it's not even close. These two flavors, while very close, are way above the chocolate flavor.

And then came my chicken leftovers.

Grilled chicken really is delicious, especially when coated in marinade and some onion and garlic powder. And especially when it's chicken thighs.

It was getting close to dinner time when an idea came across my mind (shocking, I know). But anyway, there was 3.5 pounds of 93% lean ground beef sitting in the fridge begging to be eaten. I didn't sound palatable to eat it raw, and burgers have been done a million times. So I thought maybe we could make burgers.

But there was a twist.

I remembered how good that taco seasoning I had a couple weeks back was in that ground turkey, so I decided I'd make taco burgers. The only problem was that I didn't have any of that sodium-free taco seasoning. So I decided to make my own. I looked up a basic taco seasoning recipe, then threw it together with reckless abandon. It consisted of ancho chile powder, paprika, garlic and onion powders, and cumin. I put the beef in a bowl, dumped the bro mix in, and proceeded to lovingly knead the meat with my bare hands until I felt a satisfactory level of homogenization had been achieved.

I then enlisted my dad to help cook the patties on the massive griddle out back. In all fairness, he cooked 99% of the patties.

With the burgers all cooked and the buns all toasted, it was time to assemble the taco, er, burger, oh whatever it is.

My final assembly consisted of the following components:

  • toasted high fiber bun
  • taco seasoned beef patty
  • shredded colby jack cheese
  • sour cream
  • white onions
  • lettuce

It was, in all my humbleness, surprisingly tasty. Of course, those of you who eat food regularly would probably notice the lack of salt. But a lack of salt doesn't mean a lack of flavor. These were still really good.

As a post-dinner snack, I decided to have another brotein bar. This was partly because I wanted more brotein and partly because these are just so good.

Sidney and I then went on a roller skating date, because we're 14 years old.

No really, I think everybody else at the roller skating place were 14 years old.

But it was all well and good. I felt like I was at a disco, and it brought back memories of elementary and middle school field trips where we frequented skating rinks. Nostalgia was strong.