I <3 Balsamic Vinegar

December 28th, 2009 by leigha

I never used to like balsamic vinegar.  Well, I should actually say I never tried balsamic vinegar because I didn’t think I’d like it.  I mean, it’s vinegar.  How good could it be, right?  It’s probably sour and gross… Oh how I was wrong.  I LOVE balsamic vinegar and I am so happy that I decided to give it a go tonight.

Jason’s been super understanding about the me not cooking thing, but I promised him that I’d make an attempt to cook more meals instead of us getting take-out.  Last night while we were at a local Italian restaurant (okay so I started for real today) he made a mention that I hadn’t made stuffed shells in a very LOOONG time.  I actually remember the last time I made them, and honestly it’s probably been 6 years or so.

So for dinner tonight I made manicotti for my man.  And this is where I fell in love with balsamic vinegar.  No, I didn’t put balsamic vinegar in the manicotti, but I figured I could make my own vinaigrette for our salad.  Jason’s a fan of vinaigrette’s too.  I actually didn’t use a recipe for the vinaigrette, I just kind of threw different amounts of balsamic vinegar, roasted garlic olive oil, salt, honey and spicy brown mustard together in a bowl and whisked it around til it combined and then threw it on the salad.  It was FANTASTIC!  Not bitter, but wonderfully sweet.

Now, this is really supposed to be about my new found love of balsamic vinegar, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of my yummy dressing.  I did, however, get a picture of my yummy manicotti.  This too I just threw together by the seat of my pants.  I cheated a bit and used jarred sauce since I didn’t get home from cake class ’til almost 8:30, but oh well–we can’t have everything in life.

Overall I’m super proud of myself for this one.  Now if only I could get my kitchen cleaned…

Jason’s Home Cinammon Rolls

December 27th, 2009 by leigha

I’ve been a very bad blogger lately, so I’m going to try very hard to get back on that horse and keep on blogging.  I can’t even lie and say that I’ve been cooking and just haven’t been blogging, because that would just not be true.  I just haven’t cooked.  I’ve been super busy, so I haven’t been cooking.  But I’m going to try much harder to be a better blogger and a better soon-to-be wife and cook.

Last month or so Jason’s sister called with a Christmas offer–She’d buy a plane ticket home for him if he’d come home for Christmas as a surprise for their dad.  He was gone from the Tuesday before Christmas until the day after Christmas.  I didn’t think it would be that bad since Christmas isn’t a huge deal for us right now.  We’re both a little too old to get giddy about presents and we don’t have kids to get excited for either.  The four legged kids we have don’t know any better, so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad of a time being by myself for the holidays.  It wasn’t HORRIBLE, but it wasn’t overly easy either.  I’ve gotten use to him being around and to be quite honest, he’s pretty handy to have around.  I missed him a lot.

To keep myself busy I bought Baking Illustrated while he was gone.  I really really really like this cookbook.  It has great recipes that you can be almost certain (barring user error) that are going to turn out great.  The cooks for this cookbook tested the recipes over and over and over again until they got them just right.

Since Jason came home yesterday I made him a special welcome home breakfast.  He loves cinnamon rolls, so that was my task this morning.  Overall, they were doable.  They weren’t horribly hard to make.  I will say that making the dough was a little intimidating, but I think I did it okay.  While hand patting the dough into the prescribed 12×9 rectangle for the rolls I kept getting holes in the middle of the rectangle from not spreading it easily enough I guess.  Oh, and the dough was super duper sticky.  I don’t know if that was normal or not, but the “lightly floured” surface ended up being spread with 1/4 cup of flour that would keep it from sticking to me and the counters and everything else it would touch.

Cutting the cinnamon log into the rolls was a fun endeavor, and I learned to not question Jason… The man’s brilliant.  I was having difficulty keeping the dough from sticking to the knife as I was attempting to cut them into individual rolls.  He suggested that I brush a touch of the melted butter on the knife blade.  I laughed at his silliness–if the test cooks wanted it that way they’d have said so, but I was open to the idea and tried it.  Holy cow, it worked.  I’ll never doubt that man’s advice again.

Anyhow, Jason enjoyed them (had 2) and his only suggestion is that next time I make them bigger like the “Grands” biscuits.  So they must not have been too terrible.  I kind of think they were in the oven a little bit too long and browned a bit too much and were rolled a little too loose so the filling kind of melted out of the rolls instead of staying in the rolls making them gooey.

Overall this was pretty easy, there were moments of intense irritation, but not too bad so I guess this was a flip out factor of 2.

The first picture is before they went into the oven, the last two are after they came out and were frosted.