Thursday, August 29, 2013

Unexpectedly Delicious: Red Pepper & Mushroom Steak Sauce

I haven't been shopping in a week or two.  This means, we have a bunch of random odds & ins in the fridge & there's a pretty good chance the fruits & veggies that we do have are not in good shape.

So last night, I grabbed the steak that had been marinating all day with balsamic vinegar & rosemary out of the fridge to grill outside, along with a couple of strips of bacon to start rendering....because I knew I had kale in the fridge.  Perfect for a quick sauté with onions.

I got all the way to bacon rendered & onions sautéed before I realized the kale had seen better days.  It was limp & wilted; definitely not appetizing.  After a moment that can only be described as 'damn!' I rummaged around & found a couple of veggies that were still edible...a package of white mushrooms & a red pepper.

Hmm.  I didn't know how they'd be with the balsamic/rosemary steak, but I didn't have alot of options at this point.

The pepper got chopped into small strips & the mushrooms got de-stemmed & sliced thin.  I added a drizzle of olive oil to the bacon/onion mix, & threw the peppers in.  After they cooked down a little I added the mushrooms & let them cook down quite a bit.  Then I added a healthy pour of red wine to get up all the good bits that had developed on the bottom of the pan.  I let it simmer & bubble at medium high heat for maybe 10 minutes.  While I drank the rest of the glass of wine.  Because I don't like to let things go to waste.

I could not have been more surprised when it turned out great!  We topped our sliced mid-rare grilled steak with the red pepper mushroom mix & it was so good.  I mean tasty enough to have again & again.  And maybe again.  The red wine 'sauce' pair really well with the balsamic & rosemary flavor of the steak.  And the veggies were cooked down just enough to kind of melt in your mouth without being too mushy.  

Lesson learned: just because it's not planned, doesn't mean it can't be wonderful.  Have you ever had any 'damn!' cooking moments that ended up delicious?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Betty Crocker Shake-N-Pour

A few weeks ago, while strolling up & down the grocery stores aisles, I came across a display for Betty Crocker's Shake-N-Pour cupcake mix.  The bottle, which boasts that you only need to add water, intrigued me.  Now, cake mixes, as a whole are not really a huge time commitment, but I like the idea of not having to dirty any mixing bowls, or the messiness of measuring oil & cracking eggs.  Yes, I know this makes me sound lazy.  But normally, with baking anyway, I'm not.  I love this idea though for a quick desserts, easy baked goods to bring for weekday parties or for when you want to bake cupcakes quickly to get on a more time-consuming decoration job.  I also think the idea seems great for kiddos.  It's fun to help shake the mix up & easier to pour them into baking cups.

So I grabbed a bottle of Confetti flavored Shake-N-Pour & forgot about it for a few weeks.  Then, one evening, I saw it in my pantry when I was roaming around for an after-dinner sweet treat.  Perfect time to try this quick baking mix right? Right!

After opening the container up & pouring in 1 cup of water, I replaced the lid & shook the sucker up.  Now, I thought I had shaken it well, my arms certainly felt like it, but when I was pouring the mix into baking cups, I did have one that came out powdery.

The cupcakes baked 13-18 minutes at 375.  I let them cool for a bit on a rack, then moved on to the moment of truth.  Taste.  I didn't add any frosting, as I didn't want alot of sugar, but the taste of the cake was still sweet enough to satisfy.  The texture was nice & light, with a little fluff.  My only complaint is that it lacked richness.

I also ended up only getting 9 cupcakes, though the instructions say you can get 12.  Not a big deal for me, as we were just eating them as an evening dessert, and there are only 2 of us, but good to know if you're making them for something specific. Note: I ended up tossing the powdery cupcake before baking.  I could have maybe stirred it up & 'mixed' it, but I didn't want to mess with it.

Overall, I think these are a good, solid option for cupcakes in 20 minutes.  And if you were added a homemade or even 'dolled up' canned frosting, I think you'd be pleased.

*Note: This review was not paid for or sponsored by Betty Crocker, nor is it endorsed by them.