Happy Thanksgiving

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! It also just happens to be the one year anniversary of Solitary Refinement! That’s right, one year ago today I flipped the switch and started this blog up. Thank you so much to everyone out there that has supported me and given me great ideas. I really look forward to another year coming up. This next year is going to see some big changes with the blog, so stay tuned. Now go have some left over turkey!


Sausage and Pepper Pizza

November 22, 2008

I received an email the other day asking if I was still making pizza. I sure am! I find pizza very easy and a great long lasting meal. I am still using my old recipe for pizza sauce. You can find it here in one of my posts. I tend to add a little more garlic to it depending on the mood I am in. Sometimes I use the frozen dough you find in the freezer section of Kroger. It makes the prep time much faster. I don’t think it is as good, but saves time.

The other day I tried a sausage and pepper pizza. It turned out great! I used regular bulk sausage, red, green peppers, onion, and garlic. After baking I topped the pizza with fresh parmesan cheese. It was great! That is one thing I really love about pizza, add anything you feel like and it will probably turn out wonderful.

Here it is about to go in the oven…

Here it is fresh out of the oven…

And then cut and topped with parmesan cheese…

What is your favorite pizza?

Honey Chicken

November 16, 2008

The other morning before work I watched an episode of Mr. Food. He was doing a dish called Honey Chicken. It looked very similar to sesame chicken that I get from my local Chinese restaurant. I gave it a try and at first was not to happy. But the next day when I heated the left overs back up it was much better. Maybe the honey mixture just needed time to soak in. Here is the recipe off the Mr. Food site.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup sesame seeds
Vegetable oil for frying
1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

  1. In a large bowl, make a batter by combining the flour, baking powder, salt, and water; mix well.
  2. In a large deep skillet, toast the sesame seeds over medium-high heat, until golden. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, add 1/4 inch oil to the skillet, and heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Dip the chicken pieces in the batter, coating completely, then cook in batches for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until golden. Drain on a paper towel-lined platter.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, warm the honey, garlic, and soy sauce over low heat for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place the chicken in a large bowl and pour the warm honey sauce over it. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and toss until the chicken is well coated. Serve immediately.

Coating the chicken pieces in the batter was a little more difficult than I thought. In my mind I was thinking I could just roll the chicken pieces around in it and that would be good enough. But the batter is so sticky it was hard to get it to stay on the chicken and not my hands! I finally got the pieces coated and started frying them.

As you can also see by the above picture, I have the honey mixture on the back burner. I also added a few drops of sesame seed oil to the mixture. If you do this be very careful to only add a few drops. Sesame seed oil is very strong! I cooked the chicken in batches and let drain on a paper towel.

When all the chicken was done and the honey mixture was warm, I transferred it over to a large bowl and and poured the honey mixture over the chicken. I then tossed the chicken to get it covered nicely. I then added the sesame seeds and tossed again.

Like I said, when I first tried it was was not too happy. But the left overs were much better. Does anyone have any ideas how to make this better? Here is the price breakdown.

Chicken Breast $3.36

Sesame Seeds $3.79

Honey $3.59

Total $10.74

I had the other ingredients already, so add a little more if you don’t. Next time I will get some local honey and not Kroger brand.

Euro-Pro Vacuum System

November 2, 2008

I had never heard of a garbage can and central vacuum system in one unit, but Euro-Pro made one. It is a perfect system for small apartments like mine. It is a vacuum cleaner underneath a nice steel trash can. The hose easily reaches all parts of my apartment. It can even be used as a dust pan. Since it sits in my kitchen if I spill some flower or sugar I can just sweep it close to the vacuum/trash can and it sucks it up.

It comes with tons of attachments, even a beater bar!

To change out the vacuum bag all you have to do is take the garbage can off and open the lid to the vacuum. It also has all kinds of filters to reduce the dust put back into the air.

Mrs. P. found this on a website called ikitchen for only $29.99 plus shipping! She was kind enough to give it to me as a gift. It really saves a lot of room in my apartment. Until now I was just using a small hand held dust buster. I had a very hard time getting my small area rug clean. Now this vacuum takes care of my whole apartment without having to worry about running down a battery. I highly recommend this vacuum cleaner.