January 14th, 2017 – The “Not Really A Panini” Panini with Fancy Bread

Welcome back! It’s a new year, so I usually make a big list of resolutions that I intend to stick to but usually forget about come March. This year, I did this exact thing. But, I’m making the vow to stick to them all year. One of them is to no longer neglect Jenna Can’t Cook! I missed it. So I’m here to stay. I’m starving, let’s cook and probably fuck it up.


Today, I went to Goodwill. Goodwill is pretty much the only place you can buy a weird half dog half lady statue along with chili seasoning and somebody’s old pants. All for under 12 bucks. And that is the reason I love Goodwill.

Goodwill blessed me with a panini cookbook today. It had a yellow tag, so it was half off TODAY ONLY. It was only $1.49 to begin with! It ending up being like 75 cents or something! FUCKING GOODWILL PEOPLE.

Anyway, I was inspired. This panini cookbook was a sign (it probably wasn’t a sign I was just looking for an excuse to make something other than eggs and toast for dinner) that I should obviously make some gourmet grilled cheesy delicious sandwich creations.

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The problem? I don’t have a panini maker. Or a grill. What makes a panini a “panini” is those unmistakable grill marks on that miraculous crunchy bread. So, my “panini” is really going to be more like a fancy grilled cheese. But, I’m calling it a panini because fancy grilled cheese is way too much to type. Okay?

I actually created the recipe I’m using today in the grocery store. I tend to day dream about food…..

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So! That’s what I’m putting in this “panini.”

Now that you have a visual of my thought process, you will be able to understand my quest for “fancy bread.”

SIDE STORY!

Jenna and the Quest for Fancy Bread!

You’re probably asking “What is Fancy Bread?” Well, I asked three different employees and nobody in the grocery store seemed to know what fancy bread was except for me. I found myself wandering around the bread in the bakery section for a solid 20 minutes. Picking up different loaves, poking the crust, even smelling some of them, mumbling “fancy bread” to myself… I was possessed. What I mean by “Fancy Bread” is the kind of bread that has a really good crust and when you toast it, it gets nice and crunchy??? You know the kind of bread I’m talking about. Wipe that look off your face.

I was getting really stressed out because the grocery store had lots of fancy breads, but they didn’t have THE Fancy Bread. I was about to have a conniption in front of the pumpernickel.

Lo and behold, all I was really looking for was Italian bread, but I was so hypnotized by the idea of MY Fancy Bread that I walked past the Italian bread at least 5 times. I ended up buying some Italian bread.

The End


Now that I have my Fancy Bread and the rest of the stuff that didn’t matter nearly as much, WE CAN PANINI!

To clarify, the “panini” ingredients are spinach, ham, mozzarella cheese, store bought basil pesto (which I am lovingly nicknaming basil snot) tomatoes and the almighty Fancy Bread.

Step One: Butter one side of two slices of Fancy Bread!

Step Two: Put the basil snot on the other side of one (or two depending on how snotty you want this “panini”) slice of Fancy Bread.

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See? Basil snot.

Step Three: Easy part, layer cheese, spinach, ham and tomato in any way you want. Keep in mind the sandwich has to stick together so make sure you use plenty of cheese. Maybe you don’t have to use plenty of cheese if you don’t want to. But if you know me at all you know I love cheese. So be sure to use plenty of cheese.

Step Four: Get ready to cook!

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You could technically eat these without cooking them if you really wanted to, but melted cheese is pretty much my only reason for living. So I’m cooking them. 

Step Five: Spray a pan with non stick spray and heat the pan over medium heat. Put the BUTTERED SIDE OF THE FANCY BREAD on the pan! DO NOT PUT THE BASIL SNOT ON THE PAN! Snot will burn. Lesson learned.

Step Six: Dance break while monitoring “panini.” Do not forget about panini. Again, lesson learned.

Step Seven: oh my GOD

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This is pretty much the most beautiful sandwich I’ve ever created. I might cry.

The reason the panini is so magnificent is you can put whatever you want in it! BBQ chicken! PB and J! Eggplant, parmesan and zucchini! The souls of children!

Get creative! Panini forth, my friends.

(Is panini a verb now? I guess so.)

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May 19th, 2016 – Hakuna Frittata

HELLO AGAIN! Long time no post and I apologize.

Here’s what’s happening in my life currently: I’m out of school for the summer and I’m bored out of my MIND at home. I have a two week limbo before I move from Rosendale back to Whitewater, which means I have to keep myself busy in one of the most boring towns in the state of Wisconsin.

When I was in high school, summer break was my savior. If you were like me and hated high school with every fiber of your being, you can relate. But summer break in college? Completely different story. Yes, for the first week it’s AMAZING. You’re not stressed out about anything, no more assignments for three months, you can hang out with friends whenever you want, and no 8 am classes. After that wears off, you find yourself laying on the kitchen floor, questioning your entire existence, BEGGING for something to do.

At least, that’s how it is for me.

 


 

I don’t know what got into me today, but I think it’s possibly the isolation of living at home and keeping myself busy all day while my family is at work/school. I randomly started singing Hakuna Matata, from the Lion King, but I switched “Matata” with “Frittata” and sang the second line as “It means no worries, for the rest of your eggs.”

I have no idea where this came from, but I laughed my ass off for a good 10 minutes. I think it was fate telling me to make a frittata and blog about it.

I knew that a frittata is made with eggs, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I did some research and the word frittata comes from the Italian word fritto meaning “to fry.”

After doing more research, I have concluded that a frittata is basically a big omelet, that you don’t flip over in half. It’s a less pocket-y version of an omelet. Let me explain:

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At least, I think that’s how it’s done.

The best part about this is I had all the ingredients and I didn’t have to go to the dreaded grocery store, which is a 15 minute drive from my house. I used the recipe from incredibleegg.org, and here’s my adaptation:

Step 1: Combine 3 eggs, 1/3 cup milk, 1/4 thyme, or the mystery leaves I found in the spice cabinet, and fillings (peppers, onions, tomato, CHEEEEESE)

Step 2: Heat 2 tbs butter/oil in pan over medium heat, add egg mixture, cook over low/ medium heat until eggs are almost set

Step 3: Remove from heat, cover, let stand until eggs are cooked completely (5 to 10 minutes)

 

So, I started out feeling really really good, like “This is so easy, this thing is going to look awesome and taste even better.” I was dicing and sprinkling shit like I actually knew what I was doing. I poured the eggs in the pan and by then I thought I had it in the bag.

It turns out cockiness in the kitchen doesn’t get you anywhere because the pan I used ended up being too damn small and the thing turned into a big plate of scrambled eggs.

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It’s SUPPOSED to be a thing that you can slice! And eat like pizza! But you shouldn’t eat it like pizza because if you’re making frittata you should be a civilized human being, not a bored ass college student. If this was a frittata, I would be eating it like pizza. Fuck the fork.

But the point is, this is NOT a frittata, and I learned how to scramble eggs 6 years ago. I’m fairly disappointed.

Since it’s NOT a frittata and it’s just a plate of the most DELICIOUS SCRAMBLED EGGS ON THE PLANET, I’m taking my huge serving and enjoying it on the couch while I watch professionals on Food Network.

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Until We Meet Again

Hello again!

You may have noticed, I haven’t cooked anything and posted about it in a long time. No, I have not starved to death. I just feel it is best for me to turn over a new leaf. Maybe Jenna Can’t Cook will return one day, but as of now, it will remain dormant. Thank you for your loyalty to Jenna Can’t Cook from the start. This is not a goodbye, no one can tell what the future holds!

-jenna

 

 

July 30th, 2015 – Ratatouille, Hold the Rats

As I was scrolling through Pinterest and Yummly simultaneously while occasionally flipping through Facebook in another tab this afternoon, I had a strange case of deja vu.

I came across this recipe for ratatouille. Upon seeing the recipe, my mind played back a scene from the adorable Disney-Pixar movie, Ratatouille. It was the very ending scene SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET in which Remy, the main rat character, is wearing a little chef’s hat and he owns his own restaurant.

I thought about how cute it was that he had his own little chef’s hat and how un-cute it would be to have a rat in my apartment cooking my dinner.

After shuttering at the thought of a rat infestation, an idea dawned on me:

“Why not try making ratatouille for dinner?” I thought.

“AHAHAHA! Dear, dear Jenna. Far too ambitious, my child. You just made ‘twisty pizza sticks’ a few days ago. You shall fail, and fail miserably,” said my small, French, irritating, mental food critic.

I decided to say “Je m’en fous” to the mental food critic (which essentially means “I do not give a shit” in French) and make the damn ratatouille because of two reasons:

1. If I do actually fail, it should be pretty funny and whoever reads this will get a kick out of it, and I can just hit up Taco Bell for dinner.

2. If I succeed, THAT’S PRETTY COOL, GO ME, AND RATATOUILLE FOR DINNER.

After all, the main idea of the movie Ratatouille is “Anyone Can Cook!” right?


Have I mentioned how much I genuinely LOATHE the grocery store? Well. I do. I loathe it. My beautifully naive mind stupidly thought that ratatouille would be an easy dish to shop for.

Extremely. Fucking. Wrong.

I entered the grocery store and reluctantly wandered my way over to………..the produce department.  The produce department always fills me with an overwhelming sensation of doom. I don’t know why, but fresh produce and buying vegetables in general always makes me feel like I’m an actual adult, and that is terrifying to me.

“Happy thoughts, Jenna. Calm, soothing thoughts. Pick out what you need, pay and leave. Easy!” I said to myself. The recipe I found called for a zucchini, a squash, a SMALL eggplant, one red and one yellow bell pepper, and half an onion. I scanned and scanned and scanned for the zucchini and could only find a “zucchini squash.” Being that I have never purchased a fucking zucchini before, I had no idea if a zucchini and a zucchini squash were anywhere near the same thing.

“Fuck it,” I mumbled under my breath as I angrily grabbed a zucchini squash and shoved it into a plastic produce bag. Next item on the list: a squash. I found that without a problem at all. The next item, however, the SMALL eggplant, I had a bit of trouble with. You see, the grocery store only carried HUGE FUCKING EGGPLANTS.

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THIS MONSTER WAS TALLER THAN MY HEAD. I could’t even fit my whole hand around it! Okay I’m exaggerating but the last thing I would describe this eggplant as is “small.”

“This damn store has GOT to have smaller eggplants,” I mumbled, again, under my breath, angrily.

Well. They didn’t.

I aggressively rolled my eyes, let out a rather audible “Ugghhhhhhhh,” and stuffed the irritatingly large eggplant into another produce bag. I grabbed the first onion, red and yellow bell peppers I saw, then ran through the store looking for the rest of the shit on my list, and got the fuck out of there before I had a major emotional breakdown.

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All this for a whopping $23.19. Quite honestly, price was the last thing on my mind at this point.

You’ll notice I purchased Italian sausage, also. I learned ratatouille is usually served as a side dish and occasionally served as a main course. So, I decided to pair the ratatouille with the Italian sausage mainly because I couldn’t bare the thought of having just vegetables for dinner.

I started this kitchen adventure with sautéing my first thing ever. Yay, baby Jenna’s first steps. It was onions and I was completely confused the whole time. I was mumbling shit from the kitchen like “Why aren’t I crying yet? I’m cutting an onion. Am I doing it wrong? How do you sauté things? You use oil right?” I figured it out eventually, and got the onions sautéed with minced garlic, and mixed it with tomato paste, like the five star chef that I am.

Next, I had to slice all those vegetables I bought, and let me tell you, I have never been so intimidated by vegetables before in my entire life. I had never cut an eggplant before, so I had no idea how to go about it. I just took my anger out on the damn thing.

After murdering the eggplant, I then lined everything up for a small photo shoot.

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The coolest part about ratatouille is carefully lining up all the little vegetable slices in the casserole dish. And by “coolest part” I mean “the biggest pain in my ass.”

It turned out pretty cool though, if I do say so myself.

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The eggplant slices were so out of proportion compared to the slices of everything else, but “JE M’EN FOUS.”

And now we wait!

Forty-five whole minutes, we wait.

Great.


LADIES AND GENTLEMEN IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT.

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LOOK AT THIS GORGEOUS THING. It tasted even better than it looked. I conquered the ratatouille and I did it with class.

Well. Kind of.

Not really.

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July 27th, 2015 – Twisty Pizza Stick Things

What better way to celebrate a lovely, 86 degree, July afternoon in Wisconsin than firing up the oven and making pizza sticks in an apartment with no air conditioning? I can’t think of anything better! Anything! It’s hot as SATAN’S SAUNA in my apartment today, if you haven’t gathered that already.


Besides suffering the unbearably sticky heat, I was also suffering from the worst case of pizza cravings I have ever encountered. I reached for my phone and almost dialed the number for Pizza Hut when a little voice in my head, that sounded somewhat like a miniature Italian chef, spoke to me and said: “No, Jenna, make the pizza. You can do it.” I wasn’t sure if the heat had gotten to my head and I was hallucinating or if I was just crazy, but the Italian chef in my head was very encouraging. And when the pizza cravings torment your mind, soul, and stomach, and you’re forcing yourself to learn how to cook, you have no other choice than to suffice them – especially when you have a small, Italian chef cheering you on. So, I powered through, I used my favorite new app, Yummly, and found this recipe from Spend With Pennies.com. I read through the recipe and thought it looked pretty cheap and easy. Then, it was time for me to venture out into the adult world. Specifically, the grocery store. (I’m kidding, of course I’ve been to the grocery store before.)

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I grabbed all the necessary ingredients (shown above) for just $8.54. And let me tell you, I love the sound of $8.54.

By then, I was feeling pretty accomplished. “Wow, look at you, buying your own ingredients. You’re using the word ingredients. You’re cooking! You’re a damn chef!” I said to myself.

(I was extremely delusional from the heat today, and I don’t normally speak to myself. Also, I was making something that I self-titled as “Twisty Pizza Stick Things.” Not a five-star Italian dinner. A 7-year-old could do what I was doing. I needed a reality check for sure.)

When I got back to my apartment, I set forth on my task to create the greatest twisty pizza stick things the state of Wisconsin has ever seen.

I would like to make one thing apparent: These are a lot harder than the recipe makes them look.

The procedure looks simple and is basically this:

Step One: Roll out and cut dough.

Step Two: Put sauce on dough.

Step Three: Put toppings on dough.

Step Four: Twist into pizza stick twisty things.

Step Five: Brush tops with butter, bake and enjoy.

Well, I was perfectly fine with steps one through three. (See below)

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Twisting these mother fuckers into perfect little pizza filled breadsticks however? Not easy. Not easy at ALL. I suppose it would’ve been easier to twist them if the dough hadn’t been MELTING IN MY SWEAT SHOP OF AN APARTMENT. The dough felt like weird squishy alien flesh and they REFUSED to hold any kind of shape.

Here’s what they looked like before baking:

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The one on the far right of the second photo looked normal. Don’t ask me what happened to the other four because honestly, I haven’t the slightest clue.

After laughing my ass off at this attempt to broaden my cooking horizons, I sat down, wrote all of this, and waited until my alien twisty pizza sticks were finished baking. Because I’m impatient, I took a peek in the oven to see how my alien babies were doing and…….

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HELLO CHEESY GOLDEN BEAUTIES

Ladies and gentlemen, we have victory.

Moral of the story: it doesn’t matter what your alien pizza looks like before baking. In the end, you still have pizza.

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