Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stuff This!

I just made up a new stuffing recipe.  And I did it just in time to be too late for anyone else to try it for their Thanksgiving bird.  But, Christmas is coming up so there is a second chance.  This stuffing is one that will be loved by those pepper heads out there.  It is full of black pepper!  Not just a sprinkling or a pinch or a teaspoon, but a whole tablespoon of the peppery goodness.  Then, to make it even more of a peppery delight, add a bit of Penzey's Bicentennial rub to the mix.  This will send your tastebuds into orbit!  All this pepper is finally calmed with the addition of a touch of sweet in the form of dried currants.  Give it a try.

Currant Cornbread Stuffing

1/4 lb sausage of choice

1/2 onion, chopped

1/4 stick butter

1/4 cp coconut oil

1 1/4 cp water

1/2 14 oz bag cornbread stuffing

1/2 cp dried currents

1/2 cp pine nuts

1 tbs black pepper, or less to taste

1 tsp Pensey’s Bicentennial Rub

1 tsp poultry seasoning

1 tsp marjoram

Saute sausage and onions with butter and coconut oil until saugsage is cooked through. Add water and bring to boil. Remove from heat and add cornbread. Toss until evenly moist. Add remaining ingredients and toss until well blended. Stuff your bird or bake as is!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sour Cream & Chive Potatoes

Sometimes the diet wagon needs to move on down the road. Sometimes we just need to say "NO!" to that little voice that tells us that what we desire is "bad, bad, bad." Sometimes we must coddle our inner child and partake of what we love.

When those time strike around here, at least for me, I prepare my favorite dish...Potatoes. Russet, red, purple or gold, this humble tuber just sets my heart a quiver and my mouth watering.

Last nigh was one of those nights. A great steak seared to perfection, a pound or so of green beans cooked in garlic and broth and the object of my culinary dersire - Yukon Gold potatoes with sour cream and chives. This dish isn't for the faint of heart when it comes to calories and fats. Of course you could use low fat substitutes, but it just wouldn't be the same. If you are going to do it - dive right in to the deep end and do it! So here we go...

Sour Cream and Chive Potatoes

4 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes (or any type you have on hand)
1 chicken bouillion cube
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tbs butter
1 tbs dried chives
1/4 tsp white pepper
Kosher salt to taste
1 tbs bacon cooked and crumbled (optional)

Scrub potatoes and cut into bite sized pieces (do not peel!). Place in pot and cover with water. Add bouillion cube and bring to boil. Cook until potatoes are tender. Drain. In same pot, melt butter. Return potatoes to pot and stir to coat with the melted butter. Add sour cream, chives, pepper and bacon if desired. Stir until potatoes are creamy and resemble chunky mashed potatoes.

Now, sit back and enjoy one of lifes little pleasures.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spinach & Mushrooms

Last night was a left over night. But even leftovers deserve a fresh vegie to accompany their second appearance. The night before, our pasta was accompanied by a spinach and mushroom salad. The second appearance of the pasta was in the form of a baked casserole. The remainder of the spinach became something with an interesting flavor that is worth repeating.

Spinach & Mushroom Saute
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
6 t0 8 mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
1 bag fresh spinach washed and de-stemmed
2 tbls brandy
1 tbls balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste.
Heat olive oil in large heavy pan until hot, add onions and saute until golden. Lower heat and add mushrooms, sauteing until all liquid is evaporated. Add spinach and cover. Cook, stirring occassionally until spinach is tender.
Remove lid, add brandy and cook, stirring constantly until all liquid is once again evaporated.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Comfort Food, Mexican Style

Chicken Mole Enchilada

Mexican food has always been my comfort food. It is warming, it is filling, it is "curl up in front of the television with a good movie and veg" food. And, alas, I am making this big dish of comfort for the staff of my Boyfriend's office. (see my sad face).

The menu consists of the inevitable pairing of rice and beans. Can't do Mexican without the rice and beans. Then, the main course, my own pride and joy recipe:

Dried Currant Mole' Enchildas

2 to 3 quarts Mole'
1/4 cp dried currants
4 cps stewed chicken, shredded
1/2 cp diced onion, sweated until transparent
2 packages, soft corn tortillas (try to find La Tortilla Factory brand)
Grated Jack, Colby or blend of both cheeses for topping
Pour mole into large skillet and add currants. Heat to just below boiling. Turn off heat. Meanwhile, mix onions into shredded chicken.
Coat 2 - 13x9 baking dishes with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Soften tortillas in warm mole until pliable. Remove to plate and put approximately 2 tbls of chicken mixture down center of tortilla. Roll tightly and place in baking dish.
Continue in this manner until both baking dishes are full. Top both with enough mole to cover each enchilada. Top all with a sprinkling of cheese to desired depth (some like more, some like less cheese, it is up to you). At this point you can freeze one pan, covered well, if you like.
Place enchiladas in preheated oven and bake until cheese melts and has a nice golden layer - about 30 to 35 minutes.
Find a good movie, a tall glass of milk, and be comforted!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Green Salad with Lemon/Agave Dressing

I had a wonderful visit to my awesome Dr. the other day. Isn't it amazing that some people can deliver relatively bad news and still make it sound great while others deliver the same news and make you feel as though you had committed some crime or another? My wonderful Dr. is the prior. She could tell you that all of your hair is going to fall out and make you excited about the end result. She could tell you that you are clinically obese and cause you to be excited about the diet that you must be on until you get rid of 35 pounds or so. She could tell you that you are pre-diabetic or have Syndrome X and it sounds as though life has opened a new and exciting door to your future!

Not that my hair is going to fall out or anything. No, it is going to stay. Thank some higher being for that. However, the last of my list was exactly what she told me. That, and the fact that my Vitamin D levels are dangerously low.

Now this is a problem. If you don't know what Syndrome X is, Google it, or go here. And Vitamin D? I never realized the myriad diseases and illnesses this simple hormone helps alleviate or prevent! Again, check it out. The D thing is a bit more complicated than the X thing. But that is alright.

Anyway, what are we doing about the X thing? To start with, my kitchen has turned into Mediterranean food central. I have to stay away from breads and pastas unless I grind the flour myself and make it from scratch. Little did my lovely Dr. know that until moving to the shoddy kitchen house, I did just that. There are to be no processed foods, not a problem, I don't keep them in the house as a rule. Everything, yes, everything, must be made in my little kitchen. No pre-made anything.

Now just where am I going with this? How many people eat out of a box? How many children don't know where milk really comes from? Luckily, we as a family were mostly there anyway. Just a small bit of rethinking the whole butter versus olive oil thing and we were good to go. I tossed the ever present potatoes, looked the other way when the bread came out, and generally didn't bat an eye. Greens, whole grains (not ground but truly whole) roma tomatoes, fish, chicken, lean pork and beef; all have remained in my gastronomical life. It is what I top them with and how they are prepared that has been modified.

Take a simple green salad for instance. Rather that top it with a dollop of bottled salad dressing I get to make my own! The following recipe is the salad we had last night. Fun, colorful, and fresh. Who could ask for more?

My Favorite Madrid Street Salad
serves 4

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, fresh, not pre-packaged
2 cps fresh romaine hearts
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup feta
1/2 cup wheat berries, cooked
red onion rings
artichoke hearts

Coarsely chop lettuce and toss in a large bowl with tomatoes. Garnish with remaining ingredients and dress with Lemon/Agave Nectar Dressing.

Lemon/Agave Nectar Dressing

3 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbs agave nectar
2 tsp basil, dried or fresh
2 tsp water

In a small jar, combine all ingredients. Shake until combined and pour over salad.

This is a very light dressing and will give flavor without weighing down the salad. It has the consistency of water actually! I am working on ways of keeping the dressing emulsified without causing the dressing to get heavy. Will update once I have figure this out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Triple Berry Rhubarb Sauce

I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books as a child. I remember well the "Little House In The Big Woods". I remember well the part where Laura was given a "Pie Plant". It must have been rhubarb from the description of the stalks. I also remember her dismay when Ma and Pa gave a visitor her "Pie Plant" stalks.
As I grew older and more experienced in "Pie Plant" recipes, pies were the last on my list to make with this wonderful, high in vitamin C gift from the earth. Why limit yourself to just a pie when you can have the wonderful, tart flavor over ice cream or a waffle or a pancake?
Whenever I get my hands on this gem, it goes into my sauce pot to become a savored treat that lasts not just one or two nights, but several seasons!

If you are lucky enough to have a "Pie Plant" or two in your yard, or a generous friend or neighbor, make a bit of this to last you through the cold months of winter.

Triple Berry Rhubarb Sauce

1 lb rhubarb, trimmed, washed, and sliced
1 pint blueberries, washed
1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered.
1 pint raspberries, marion, or black berries, washed
4 cps water
2 cps sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Place all ingredients into a large, nonreactive stock pot (enamel or stainless steel), over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until liquid is reduced in volume by at least half and thickened.
You can put up in jars at this point or, if you are like me and don't like big chunks of strawberry in your sauce, run it through a blender til smooth.

Make sure you hide a bit to enjoy over the winter holiday season when rhubarb is nothing but a distant memory of spring.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nettle Soup

Nettle Soup, originally uploaded by emmasdaughter.

Stinging Nettles, yes, stinging nettles. An herb that goes into my top 100 super foods list. Why? Because they are good, good, good for you! Not only are they high in iron and vitamin K, they are also a great supplier of vitamin D. You men out there, they are great for non malignant prostate enlargement. Allergies? High blood pressure? Arthritis? Gingivitis? Partake of stinging nettles.

Here is just one site that discussed the amazing properties of this herb.

This herb is so amazing that I would cultivate it if I could find enough rhizomes not currently sporting their prickly companions. So I will just settle for the leaves in my soup.

First, you must clean them of their grit and any darkened or wilted leaves. food 083Make sure you have a pair of thick rubber gloves on your hands and remove the tender leaves from the stalk. Place leaves in a colander and rinse well. Leave in colander in sink full of cold water while preparing soup base. Add to the pot and simmer. No more sting! Too many health benefits to mention.

Nettle Soup

1 large bunch Nettles, cleaned
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Italian sausage (optional)
1 large onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
6 to 8 leaves, any other green of choice, optional (spinach, escarole, chard, etc.)
1 hot pepper, diced, also optional

In large pot, over medium heat, saute sausage, onions and garlic until onions are soft. Add broth, salt, hot pepper and black pepper and bring to boil. Carefully add nettles (don't forget to wear your gloves) and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Another "to your health" recipe! Enjoy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Comfort Food - Could This Be Any Worse For You?

Last night my daughter sent me a text message asking for a recipe for Tuna Casserole. Apparently, her brother requested she make it for dinner. I hadn't made this is so long that the dish is a distant and frightening memory. But, he likes it. He ate it. He wants it again. So - here's to you Hijo Primero! Maybe there is another person out there that like things made from Campbell's soup.

The Worst Possible Tuna Casserole On The Face Of The Planet

1 to 2 - 6 oz cans Tuna, packed in water, drained
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional, will not make it healthier in the least)
1 can (10.75 oz) Mushroom Soup (the kind with the garlic in it is best)
1/2 soup can half and half
1/2 tsp pepper
Salt to taste (do you really want or need more?)
1 - 8 oz pkg egg noodles cooked according to package directions
1 cup shredded cheese
Bread Crumbs

In a large mixing bowl, stir Tuna together with peas, soup, half and half, salt and pepper.
Add cooked noodles and stir to coat thoroughly.
Pour into 13x9 baking dish coated with non stick spray.
Top with cheese then sprinkle bread crumbs over all.
Bake in 350 degree oven until browned.

This is true comfort food for the oldest son. If you care to make it, please do not sue me for any high blood pressure or hardening of the arteries that may occur. Partake of this at your own risk! (the aforementioned is a caution to protect me from any lawsuit that may result from consumption of this "comfort food")

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cleaning Fiddleheads

This is posted for my friend at BoondockBabble. Thought if she wanted to know, maybe a few other passing readers would be curious as well.
First, from my research, if you are gathering wild ferns for your table, you must make sure they are edible! Not all ferns are and will give a a wonderful case of something...not sure what. Here is a link to an explanation on cleaning and identifying the edible Ostrich fern.

The cleaning method I use entails placing the fresh ferns in a colander and soaking in cold water. Rinse, shaking the colander briskly in the process. Perform this 3 or 4 times and the majority of the scales will fall off. Then, place the ferns in a brown paper bag and shake a bit more. Remove from bag, and rinse again, rubbing between thumb and forefinger to remove any remaining bits of scale.

This should take care of the cleaning. Now, prepare and enjoy!

Can It Be True?

My Stat Counter says that 129 people visited yesterday.
Can it be True?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Blending of Flavors

Blending of Flavors, originally uploaded by emmasdaughter.

Blending of Indian Flavors

This recipe came to me tonight after spending the day in Syracuse at the regional market and my two favorite ethnic grocers. It is a combination of a couple of Indian recipes. The dish contains okra, shrimp, onions, peppers, coconut and Indian spices.

Shrimp & Okra Saute
1 Tbs Sesame Oil
1 Tbs Nut Oil (peanut, walnut, almond)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 cp thinly sliced onion
1 thinly sliced sweet red pepper
2 thinly sliced hot peppers (optional)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
15 okra pods, washed, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbs coconut powder

Heat oil over medium high heat. Add cumin seeds. Saute for a few seconds and add vegetables and all of the spices. Saute until onion is soft but not brown. Add okra, and a bit of water if needed. Saute for approximately 20 minutes until the okra is cooked but not overly soft. Add shrimp and cook until pink.
Garnish with coconut powder sprinkled over top.

serve with basmati cumin rice and naan for a wonderful, flavorful meal.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cake Pan Tip

What kind of cake pans do you have? The ones that are a simple pan, no frills, no little gadgets to help you get your cake out of the pan? If so, good for you! If not, then read on...

If you have the cake pans that have the little slider thing that you turn around the pan to loosen the cake, get rid of it! You can remove it by bending it upward and have a perfectly functional cake pan. Or, you can toss it in the recycling bin and purchase a plain one. Wilton's makes a very nice pan for the money.

All you need to do to get the cake out is use parchment paper. Cut the parchment to fit the bottom of the pan, spray a bit of non-stick spray on the bottom of the pan, place the parchement in the pan, spray a bit of non-stick spray on the parchment and...Voila! You have a pan that even the stickiest cake with fall right out of!

Why do you want to go to the trouble of demolishing a perfectly good (well maybe not) cake pan? Maybe you don't want to know. Just do it. If you do want to know, again, read on...

After a couple of uses of the little slider thing pans, batter builds up beneath the slider. This can't be a good thing. We won't go into the health issues here. Just suffice it to say that you don't want to keep baking and baking and baking and letting little bits of last year's cake end up in the one you are baking today. K? Nuff said?

My favortie pan.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fiddleheads & Fish

Fiddleheads & Fish, originally uploaded by emmasdaughter.

Today I played in my kitchen. While perusing the fresh produce at my local grocers I came across some fun looking little items called Fiddlehead Ferns.

Now, from what I understand, if you live in the northeastern United States or Canada, these little delicacies are well known. But me, being born and raised in northern California, had only read about them in fairy gourmet cookbooks.

Wanting to live the cooking fairy tale, I bagged up the prettiest ones I could find. Being a cautious sort of fairy tale person, I only got about 1/2 lb.

Excited with my find, I ran to the seafood counter and perused the fish. I mean, what good cooking fairy tale doesn't consist of fresh fish? Little Mermaid? Big Fish? A Fish Called Wanda? I searched for the perfect fish. Cod? No, to blase'. Halibut? No, same-o same-o. Salmon? Way too pricey this week. But then, stop! Wait! Steelhead Trout!!! That was it! I snagged the largest filet in the case and ran with delight to the checkout counter.

Fast forward to evening...

Trout is in the oven...producing an enticing aroma of sesame oil and seasonings. The ferns are nestled cozily in with mushrooms, garlic and sundried tomatoes. Can't wait to see and taste!

Fast forwad to dinner...

Oh! The flavors and textures! Amazing! Glorious in their simplicity. The trout a wonder of tender flavor, enhanced marvelously with the spices. The ferns? All I can say is "why is the fiddle head season so short?" Should have gotten another 10 lbs or so.

You must try this entire meal if you have the ferns available. If you have a Whole Foods Market near you, I think you can get them. Here is the preparation directions for both dishes;

Northwoods Trout
(preheat oven to 350 degrees)

One large 1 1/2 to 2 lb Steelhead or Salmon filet
1 tbs Northwoods Fire Seasoning (go to
1 tbs Dill
2 tbs Brown Sugar
1 tbs Sesame Oil
1 tbs Soy Sauce
1/2 tbs Balsamic Vinegar

Line a 13x9 inch baking dish with foil and place trout, skin side down.
In a small bowl, combine all of the seasonings, sugar, soy sauce, oil and vinegar. Cover trout with mixture. Cover baking dish with foil.
Place in preheated oven and bake until fish flakes and is tender - about 15 minutes.

Serve drizzled with pan juices.

Fiddleheads with Garlic and Mushrooms

1/2 lb Fiddleheads, washed and cleaned
2 cloves elephant garlic, peeled and sliced
6 mushrooms, sliced
4 sundried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
2 tbs oil from sundried tomato jar
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a lidded saute pan. Saute, stirring occasionally for approximately 15 minutes or until fiddleheads are tender.

This was the most wonderful fairy tale that has ever come from my kitchen!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Weight Loss?

My Boyfriend/DH wanted to get rid of about 20 lbs. He whined and complained and blamed my "unhealthy" cooking habits for a time. I listened (sure I did) and tried to cook in a more healthy manner...didn't change much. Found the whole thing rather insulting. I don't buy chips, soda, or boxed foods except for pasta and the occasional couscous blend. The purchasing of fresh veggies is done every other day or so. And, I don't use animal fats or many fats for that matter until the invention of this snack.

Anyway, one day, I decided to invent a sweet "sushi" type snack and purchased a container of coconut oil, a package of shredded coconut, sliced almonds, a package of flax lavash, and a bit of agave nectar. Went home and put together a sweet snack.

Boyfriend sat down and ate them in one sitting.

The lavash, being full of flax went to work almost immediately. Won't tell you where he spent the night.

The next day, I made another plate of these little goodies.

Boyfriend came home, sat down, and ate a more reasonable portion. (1 or 2)

The next day, Boyfriend came home and made himself a sweet snack using just the coconut oil, agave and a portion of lavash.

Within a month he had lost 10 lbs! Now I am giving it a go. We will see if it is just him eating less or it has anything to do with the little sweets.

If you are curious, here is how they are made.

Lavash "Sushi"
1/3 slice of Lavash (an Armenian flat bread)
1 tbs coconut oil
shredded coconut
sliced almonds
agave nectar
Evenly spread coconut oil on lavash. Lightly sprinkle with shredded coconut and sliced almonds. Drizzle lightly with agave nectar.
Roll lavash to form a "roll-up" and slice into 1/2 inch rounds.
Place on serving dish and drizzle with more agave nectar if desired.
These are a fun way to get some good fats and omega 3. Tastes similar to an almond joy without the chocolate. I imagine you could add a bit or use carob to get the full almond joy effect.
Maybe I will try that next!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Possibly the Easiest Taco Salad Ever!

And possibily the best too! It is so quck to put together and will dissappear before you have a chance to say "Dinner's on!" I got the original recipe from Recipezaar and changed a few of the details to please my family. Give it a try...and, check out the website - it is great too!

TACO Salad
1 lb ground beef
1 tbs of your favorite chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs brown sugar
1 large tomato, diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 large fresh poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cps Iceberg lettuce, shredded
3/4 cp peach salsa (Newman's Own is really great here)
2 tbs mayonnaise
tortilla chips
Co-Jack cheese, finely shredded
1/2 avacado, sliced
Brown beef in skillet until no longer pink.
Drain fat and add next 5 ingredients. Saute until spices are well blended and aromatic.
Turn heat to low while other preparations are accomplished.
Crush tortilla chips in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking dish.
Make a layer with the lettuce.
Make a layer with the pepper, onions and tomatoes.
Make a layer with the meat mixture
Add cheese in desire quantity
Mix mayo and salsa together and pour over top
Add sliced avacado and serve with sour cream and extra salsa on the side.
Give this a try. It is quick, easy on time and easy on the budget. What more can you ask? Oh, right...great flavor...It has that as well!.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Today, hija segunda asked if she could come play in my kitchen! Why did she feel that she had to ask. She only lives in Denver and I live in NY state. Why doesn't she just drop by for a visit?

Because she live so far away, I asked her what recipe she want posted on the cooking blog. It was Mole'. Yummy stuff.

Well, dear Hija Segunda, there are several methods of making this savory sauce.

The first is, make it from scratch. Stew a chicken with onions and chili peppers, melt the chocolate, add the peanut butter...yes, it takes a while.

The second is, go to a local market that carries a good selection of Mexican or Latin foods and purchase a glass of Dona favorite. It ranges in price depending on your location...Wyoming it was $1.00 for the glass. Here I have found it closer to $3.00! Still worth the cost.

The last, and most sacreligious of ways to prepare Mole' is to follow the Gringa recipe. Not as rich as either of the above methods, it is still passable. Anyone not knowing how rich and smooth Mole' can be, will swear you made it, slaving over a hot stove in the middle of summer.

Mole' Gringa Style

1 large (28 oz) can Red Enchilada Sauce
2 tbs dark brown sugar
1 heaping tbs baking chocolate
1 tbs creamy peanut butter
2 chicken bouillion cubes

Heat all ingredients in a saucepan until boiling, stirring constantly.
Serve over chicken, turkey, pork or as the sauce for Mole' Enchiladas.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kitchen Appliance/Gadgets

The other day I was lamenting a purchase of a couple years ago - a rather large and cumbersome "slow cooker" that didn't cook very slowly. It is not that I do not like this particular appliance, it is that my cooking needs have changed with the family working its way back to a couple. Two people do not need a 6 quart slow cooker for a meal. Maybe for a week or two of meals, but not one.

My search began because I was preparing 2 pork chops in a huge slow cooker. They looked so lonely sitting at the bottom of the large vessel. I felt sorry for them.

The heartfelt pork chop pity led me to my computer, which took me to, the place where all things are possible...and usually available.

After a bit of research, I discovered a nice little unit that would serve (pun intended) my needs,both large and small!

What a little cutie!

It has a 2 quart, 4 and 6 quart vessels! It had semi-decent reviews. Nothing special. But, it had removable vessels of various sizes! Rather than order from my store of dreams, I ran to the local Kohl's. Yes, they had it! And, it was on sale at a price much lower than my store of dreams and because I had carried my Kohl's plastic with me, I got an additional 20% off!

Now, having used this appliance almost every day since then I have this to say about it:

1. It is not a slow, slow cooker. It gets fairly hot, even at its lowest setting. Don't leave it to cook while you spend the day with friends or go to work! Bad, very bad. If you want a slow cooker, stick with the original Crock Pot.

2. It heats up quickly.

3. Because the heating unit does not wrap the pot, it does not heat evenly. But I love it anyway!

If you don't need a slow, slow cooker, this is great. The various sized vessels make it so adaptable. I have found that to cook for the Boyfriend and I, the 2 quart is more than ample. The prepare enough soup for the remaining family, the middle size gives enough for a meal and leftovers for lunch the next day.

I have yet to use the largest pot...may at Thanksgiving if the kids come home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cold Remedy or Yummy Adult Beverage?

When the Boyfriend isn't feeling well, he doesn't reach for the NyQuil, he doesn't reach for the Ibuprofen, he doesn't reach for the common cold remedy of any sort. He asks for a hot butter rum. And when he does, you know he isn't feeling well at at. AT ALL!
This beverage isn't just for colds though. It can be a great warmer-upper after a day of skiing or playing outdoors in the winter. It just isn't winter right now. He isn't feeling well. Just because it isn't winter doesn't mean I can't post this though. Maybe you have an ill one out there that would rather drown the cold in alcohol rather than drink the booze disguised as NyQuil. So here it is!

Hot Buttered Rum
aka known as the remedy
(serves one sickee or two normal adults)
Put a kettle on to boil. Meanwhile, in a large (16 oz.) mug, mix together 1/2 cup of rum, 2 tsp butter (or 1/2 tsp butter and 1/2 tsp coconut oil for a more island flavor), dash of cinnamon, dash of nutmeg, 1 whole clove, 2 tbs brown sugar, lemon juice to taste.
When the water is at a boil, fill mug to top and serve.

If you aren't feeling under the weather a dollop of whipped cream makes the drink more fun!

To your health!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What To Do With A Fresh Tomato

Last night my family was presented with a meal that was greeted with awe. The table was set and the food laid out, all beautiful to the eye.
It was nothing special. Just pasta, sour dough bread, sauteed greens and this simple tomato salad.
And, it was given rave reviews by my two food critics!!!
Try it, your food critics may like it as well.

Click to play this Smilebox recipe: Fresh Tomatoes!
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Not For Everyone

Not everyone likes liver and onions.
I must admit, I didn't for the longest time.
Maybe it was because, as a child, my parents made me eat it and my mother cooked it until it was the texture of well worn shoe leather.
Just sayin'.
I don't really know what the texture of well worn shoe leather is.
But, her liver recipe and time tested cooking technique of said meat product would be right up there with it, in my opinion.

To make a long story short let's jump forward about 15 years.
I am pregnant with my first child.
I was having strange cravings.
Sweet Potatoes...baked mind you, with salt, pepper and sour cream.
of all things...
I thought my body had been taken over by aliens.
This couldn't be me.
Not me!
Liver was nastiness!
It was only good for feeding alley cats!
But, the cravings were not to be denied.
I asked everyone I knew if they knew how to prepare this...this stuff so that it was at least edible, if not flavorful.
My boss at the time said his wife could and I was summarily invited over for dinner.
That very night!
She showed me how to prepare it.
Assured me it was good.
Tell me that later...
after I have worn this stupid clothes pin on my nose and gagged down this stuff that this controlling alien in my body was demanding.
The meal was set upon the table.
My mother had taught me to be polite and at least try everything that was put before me.
As a good daughter, I picked up my fork.
I tentatively speared a piece of the offensive dish.
I swallowed - gulped actually - and put a small bit into my mouth.
I chewed.
My eyes got as large as saucers.
I could not believe what I was eating.
It was wonderful!
It was amazing.
It was not at all like the well worn shoe leather of my youth.
Melt in your mouth.

With tears of joy in my eyes (I exaggerate here) I begged for the recipe. It was given without hesitation.

Over the years, I have prepared this dish again and again. It has evolved into something that is distinctly mine. I have tweaked it and added a bit of this and a dash of that. New spices as I discovered them in my travels. Different cooking methods as I gained knowledge in the kitchen. Small things that made it easier to serve and more texturally pleasing. Now, years later, this is my recipe. One that has been used over and over and made converts of many "Liver haters" world wide. (And oh, thanks Boondock Ma for reminding me of this recipe)

Mediterranean Liver & Onions
(serves 2 to 3)

8 to 10 ounces sliced liver, with membrane removed
6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
Reserved bacon grease
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup sweet sherry
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Place liver in large flat dish. Pour enough milk over to cover meat entirely. Soak for at least 30 minutes - longer is better.
Meanwhile, in large skillet, saute onion in reserved bacon grease until transparent.
Remove to a small bowl and mix together with crumbled bacon.
Drain and rinse liver.
Place in hot skillet with remaining bacon grease and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute on medium high heat until liver is just pink inside. (Any longer and you will get that shoe leather I mentioned above.)
Turn heat to low and cook about 1 minute longer.
Remove to serving platter.
Return onions and bacon to skillet.
Add sherry, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Stir over low heat until mixture is just hot.
Spoon over liver.
Serve and enjoy!

If you love liver, you should try this. Tweak it, as I did, and make it your own recipe. And, if you know of a brave soul who isn't a liver convert, prepare this for them. You may just gift them with something they will enjoy for the rest of their lives!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Eat Your Colors!

My husband moved out to central New York before I did. He had about 4 months of exploration under his belt and had discovered some local dishes that he was excited to share upon my arrival.

His favorite is one that, to my dismay, I had tried to introduce to him early in our marriage. And now, low and behold, he discovered it all by himself! Happy me.

This dish is a colorful array of vegetables, sauteed in olive oil that makes your taste buds go ZING!
A bit spicy, a bit salty, a bit wonderful. It is a great way to eat your colors!

Greens, Italian Style

1 lb fresh greens washed well (escarole, broccoli rab, mustard, collard, you get the idea)
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
1 red hot cherry pepper, diced
6 clove garlic, minced (must be fresh, not dried from a jar)
1 onion, diced
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 link Italian sausage, removed from casing, browned and crumbled (optional)
several slices of pepperoni, sliced again into strips (optional)
1/4 cp sherry
1/4 cp water
1 cube chicken bouillon
or 1 tsp chicken soup base
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet with tight fitting lid, saute peppers, garlic and onion in olive oil until tender.
Add meat, if used and continue saute.
Add greens, sherry, water and bouillon or soup base.
Cover and cook on low, stirring and adding more water as needed, until greens are tender.
Don't add too much water as this dish is dry when done with just a hint of liquid remaining.

If you can't handle the heat of the hot pepper, leave it out.
This is a great side dish with pasta of any sort. Actually, this is a great side dish with just about anything!


Simple Chicken

Sometimes I am not in the mood to stand over the stove or do tons of prep work. Those are the times when this meal is worth a million bucks. It is easy, flavorful and the leftovers can provide at least one additional meal. Break out your slow cooker and get ready for the most tender chicken in the world!

Simple Roast Chicken

Slice one large sweet onion and place some inside a 3 to 4 lb roasting chicken and some to cover the bottom of slow cooker.
Place bird in slow cooker
Sprinkle seasoning salt, garlic powder, and bouquet garni over top of bird.
Pour 1/2 cup sherry around sides of bird.
Place any remaining onion around sides and on top of bird.

Roast on low in slow cooker until bird is done - about 4 to 5 hours.

I usually serve this with a green vegetable and a wild rice blend. Skip the salad if you are feeling exceptionally lazy.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Playing With Pizza

I tend to forget most of the things I come up with when playing in the kitchen. I am aware of this. It is a short-coming of mine that has plagued me for years.

I go into the kitchen. Open the fridge or freezer, look in the cupboards and just start throwing things together. Sometimes they turn out great. Sometime not. When they do turn out great, I cannot often remember what went into the making of the dish.

Tonight was one of those nights when it turned out great. Because of that, I decided that, before my mind wanders to the next meal, I would write it down. I even got pictures!

This meal was one of those that is so simple and made with things that most cooks have on hand; especially those cooks with teens in the house.

Without going too much into the needed foodstuffs, let's start playing with pizza!

Upsidedown Pizza Pie
preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix together your favorite pizza toppings (hold the cheese) with enough pizza or pasta sauce to generously cover the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate, about 3 cps of filling.
For mine, I used 1 cup of cooked greens, 1/8 cp of pepperoni, 1/4 cp chopped mushrooms, 1 tbs sliced olives, 1 tbs chopped onion.
For the pizza crust:
1 cp Bisquick
3/4 cp milk
1 egg
Mix together until all ingredients are blended. Pour over the top of the "pizza" toppings.
Cover the crust with approximately 1/2 to 1 cup of Mozzarella.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until crust is set and cheese is browned.

So easy! And so tasty!!

will post pic tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St Patrick's Day Feast

Every St. Paddy's day is a celebration. No, we are not Irish, we are Scots, but who is checking. We go to any local parade - the one in Utica was awesome! We drink green beer, and I don't even like beer. We dress in green - don't want to get pinched - hate that. And, I always prepare my favorite foods to commemorate the day.

Whether you are Irish, Scots, British, Ukrainian, or just plain old American, you will love these dishes! I had plans of getting pics, but the boys hit the meal before I could get my camera, and that is fast, let me tell you!

First, I spent the day preparing a Corned Beef. Not just any old corned beef, mind you, but a GLAZED corned beef. It takes a while to prepare, but with a crock pot, have no fear. Just put it in the pot and by the time you are ready to begin the Colcannon, the beef will be ready for the glaze.

Glazed Corned Beef

1 corned beef - weight doesn't matter - rinsed
1/2 cup Jamiesons' Irish Whiskey, Bourbon, or Scotch
1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Place frozen corned beef in crock pot and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours until tender.
Take corned beef out of crock pot and remove all visible fat.
Place beef in shallow baking dish.
Mix Jamieson's or liquor of your choice together with brown sugar.
Pour over beef, making sure that every square inch of beef gets to meet the glaze!
Put into preheated 300 degree oven and bake until colcannon is done (about 1 hour)

While you are baking the corned beef, prepare the colcannon. This dish is so homey and basic. It is comfort food at its finest. I sometimes prepare this with sausage in the mix just because it is raining outside. Plain old good, substantial food. Try it!

While baking corned beef, prepare the colcannon.


1/4 to 1/2 cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
3 to 6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 to 1 stick of butter (not margerine)
1/2 cup juice from corned beef
1/2 water or chicken boullion
1/4 to 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
salt and pepper to taste.

In large pan with tight fitting lid, melt butter and add vegetables , corned beef liquid, and water or boullion.
Cover pan and cook over low heat until potatoes are soft.
Using hand masher, mash potatoes together with cabbage, adding Heavy Cream to desired consistensy (should be that of mashed potatoes) Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove Corned Beef from oven and slice. Serve with a drizzle of glaze from pan.

As a side dish, I always prepare carrots because I like the contrast in colors - the reddish brown of the corned beef, the green and white of the colcannon and the bright orange of the carrots. Not only a visual treat, but a taste treat as well!

Add a bit of seedless rye bread and you have a St Patrick's Day Feast.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lassi, Sweet Lassi

Lassi is a drink from India that is made with thinned yogurt. You can prepare them salty or sweet, thick or thin, but always, in my opinion, cold.

For a treat, and because I am tired of making bricks, I prepared a cold, refreshing, pomegranate lassi for my afternoon refreshment. It was so good, and is so easy, I thought I would include the recipe for any that want to enjoy a Lassi.

Sweet Fruit Lassi
1 serving

3/4 cup freshly made or organic yogurt
1/2 tbs agave nectar
1/2 tbs organic 100% fruit syrup (organic for your health)
1/4 cp berries or other juice laden fruit (organic please)
1/4 cp milk of your choice (again, organic for your health)
3 to 4 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a serving glass - I like mine in a nice goblet - and serve.

To your health!

Bricks or Bread?

For the past 20 years I lived on the high plains of Wyoming at an elevation of over 6000 feet. Living at that altitude did present kitchen challenges.

I remember the first cake I attempted to bake. It was for my oldest daughter's birthday. She was in the 3rd grade at the time and birthday's were very important holidays. I took off early from work and ran home to bake her cake. I did everything right, for sea level. The result was a mess of batter over the edges of the pan, on the over rack, across the bottom of the oven.

I was frantic! Throwing on my coat, I ran to the local grocers and purchased a cake.

At 3:30, when the daughters walked in the door, I was standing proudly by oven, door open, fork in hand and exclaimed "Happy Birthday!" The look on Hija Primera's face when she saw the mess in the oven was priceless. She saw no humor in the lava of batter across the bottom of the oven. She saw no humor in the fork that I brandished. She saw no humor in any of it! I was barely saved from the doom of childhood anger by the cake decorated to look like a hamburger and the friends I had invited over to share it with her. Man, that kid could pout for days, even in the face of delight!

But, I digress.
I am once again at sea level.
My cakes are fine. I just omit the extra flour and add a bit more liquid.
It is my breads that are suffering.
What once were light, airy, crisp crusted loafs are now like...bricks!
Bricks for feeding the myriad birds in my yard.
Bricks for stopping up holes in the foundations of the house.
Bricks for beaning an annoying houseguest upside the head with.
Bricks! Bricks! BRICKS!

I have been baking a loaf a day, to figure out the right proportions. The flour/liquid ratio is not a problem. I don't believe that should change due to altitude. And, physics would lead me to believe that the leavening needs adjustment. At higher altitude, less is more. At sea level, atmospheric pressure would dictate a stronger rising agent.
But I can't seem to get it right!

I started with 1 tsp of yeast - that was before thinking about the altitude difference.
Brick of the heaviest nature.
The next day I increased the rising time and allowed the loaf to rise a bit more than I normally would. But with the addition of freshly ground whole wheat flour, the resultant loaf was...
A really dense brick.
The next day, I didn't change the flour or the rising time.
I increased the yeast by half.
The dough was left in the dough hooks for an additional 5 minutes.
It was silky and smooth and felt like a baby's bottom.
My instincts told me this was right.
I placed it in the oven.
It didn't want to give that last effort to rise beyond the initial rising.
It just kind of sat there and got brown.
It was still a BRICK!

Now, this would be alright. Bricks to have their uses. But, without the displeasure of Hija Segunda, all the fun has gone out of kitchen disasters.
I have nobody to throw these baked, whole grain bricks at.
I have nobody to torment with the thought of taking a ham and cheese on brick sandwich to school.

Today I will be in the kitchen again baking.
But, will the result be a Brick or Bread?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Playing With Friends

I have been playing in the kitchen since I was 11 or 12. Always, it was play. My brother and I were like mad scientists as we explored our mother's amply supplied pantry. We would use our allowance to purchase new and unusual spices. We would run up to the corner Safeway for goodies to add to our concoctions. We were really strange children.

This memory came rushing back last night as I talked with a friend of mine, via phone. Her daughter, my son's best friend, has taken to urging her mother to "cook more like J's mom." Little nudges like "Oh, try this Mom!" or "J's mom makes this, can you?"

When I heard this little tidbit, I was touched. I was also wondering how my friend must feel about the criticism of her cooking by her teenage daughter. But, my wonder was soon replaced by giggles when said friend asked if she could come and play in my kitchen. She wanted to learn how to combine spices, how to stock her spice cupboard, how to make waffles, pancakes, simple comfort foods. Now I was really touched!

Tomorrow is going to be our first "play date". We are going to go through my spice cupboards, make a list of those she doesn't have, and prepare a simple dish using a few of those herbs and spices. Simple things. Things to "give permission" to use unusual things. "Permission" to allow for mistakes, learning and success. She is excited. I am too, but more.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Say Cheeeeeez

As a child I always hated those cheese balls. You know the ones. The ones your Aunt Betty brought to the family Thanksgiving gathering. The one made with the bright orange cheese that was covered in nuts. The one that everyone just kind of looked at and nobody ate.

Once grown and out on my own I discovered that not all cheese balls are created equal. I still shy away from them because of the dubious character of the cheese ball itself. One never knows what is used in the preparation of one of these. It is kind of like a fruit cake. Just where did that fruit (cheese) come from.

But, in defense of cheesy spreads everywhere, I came up with this dry mix that can be added to cottage cheese or cream cheese. It has a wonderful flavor when mixed into ordinary cottage cheese, makes a wonderful spread with cream cheese, and can even be formed into a ball if you wish to frighten small children.

Give it a try!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Onion Soup Mix

This morning I got up and decided to prepare a humble meatloaf for tonight's dinner. The only thing I didn't have for the preparation was a package of Lipton's, or any other brand for that matter, Onion Soup mix. That being the case, I opened my spice cupboard and set about playing. What follows is one of the easiest kitchen substitutions known to mankind - or me.

Spice Cupboard Onion Soup Mix

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Let's Have Lunch!

Today I was in the mood for a simple yet healthy lunch. Not fast food, not a heavy soup or stew, but more than a salad. I settled on a turkey and sweet pepper wrap.
And, because I have always been told it is nice to share, I will share it with you! But we have to prepare it first.

First we have to gather our ingredients. Today I am going to use about 4 oz of thinly sliced, honey roasted turkey along with some red and orange mini sweet peppers (1 each). A quarter cup of bean sprouts will be good too, as well as a tiny bit of 5 different types of lettuce, whatever is on hand. Just for a bit of a kick, I am going to add some hot pepper rings as well. If you don't like them, you can pick them off of your side. I don't mind. For a dressing I am going to use Ken's Sweet Vidalia Onion. All of this will be placed on a whole wheat flatbread.

Next, we spread a bit of dressing on the flatbread. Then, place the vegies on the bread, leaving one end of bread bare. After that, the turkey goes over it all to within 1/4 inch of the bare edge. That is right, all the way across. After all is piled on the flatbread I begin rolling it from the vegie side until it is like a wrap from your favorite trendy and much more expensive cafe. Place toothpicks in each side so it won't come unrolled. If you have some fancy little picks with the cellophane on them, go ahead and treat yourself to some visual fun.

Add a bit of dressing to the plate for dipping and enjoy!

Pork Loin Chops in Orange/Garlic Glaze

Orange juice has been one of my favorite glazing ingredients forever. Being born and raised in California, it was a common ingredient. We used it on pork, fish, chicken, anything that could be enhanced with the tart, tangy sweetness of oranges.
This recipe is so wonderful that it will surprise you with its simplicity.

Pork Loin Chops in Orange/Garlic Glaze

4 boneless pork loin chops, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick
2 to 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cp orange juice
10 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 chicken bouillon cube
generous pinch of rosemary

In large skillet, saute chops in olive oil, adding salt and pepper to your liking, until just brown. (I add copious amounts of pepper to this dish) Remove and set aside. To skillet add orange juice, garlic cloves, chicken bouillon cube and rosemary. Simmer on low heat until juice is reduced to a syrupy consistency. Return chops to skillet and braise in sauce until chops are cooked through, around 3 to 4 minutes.

These chops are great served with wild rice for a rich, relatively healthful meal!

This sauce is also great on chicken and seafood!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Yes, I Am OCD

My DH laughs at me because I organize my kitchen cupboards, spices, and pantry. Is that funny? I think not. But, I must admit, I can take this organization thing to extremes. For good reason though! Can you say "Easy"? Can you say "Time Saver"? Can you say "Lazy"? I don't know how people live without the shopping list, the inventory list, the alphabetization.

This is how I set up my OCD kitchen.

First, I do have an inventory of all the foodstuffs and products used in this household! There is nothing worse, in my opinion, than running out of something. One day, on a whim, I ran around the house with a pen and paper and wrote down all the things I had on hand that I couldn't live without. With list in hand, I went to my trusty computer, opened an Excel document and plugged in all the items, by category, along with the number to keep on hand. Now, before I go grocery shopping, all I have to do is print out an inventory sheet and do an inventory! Voila! Easy peesey! No more wondering if I need this or that or the other thing.

To make the inventory easier, I have my shelves organized by food type.

Yes, as I type this out I realize that this is beyond OCD and well into anal retentive. But it works for me.

It does make inventory easier. All I have to do is look and I know how many cans of crushed tomatoes I need or if there is an ample supply of chicken in the freezer. Don't laugh until you have tried it. And, nothing drives me bonkier than if the DH or DS puts the groceries away in the wrong place! Yes, this is true.

My spices, sent from Penzey's in ziplock, stay fresh bags, are placed into jars which are then alphabetized within the spice cupboard. You laugh! But, if you look at the number of different spices that I keep on hand, it would take hours to find the particular seasoning needed at a moment's notice. This method is a time saver in and of itself!!!

Yes, I am an overly organized person, but only in my kitchen and pantry. To me, there is nothing quite like looking at a well stocked, well organized cooking area. It makes the creative flow easier to maintain. It allows for quick and effortless gathering of ingredients. It just make sense to me because Yes! I am OCD.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sicilian Pasta Sauce, With or Without Meat, Your Choice!

This recipe was concocted using an old Sicilian recipe as the base. Then I used my superhuman kitchen cupboard powers and morphed it into something that used what I had on hand. Also a great way to use those nefarious, too soft, canned carrots that I wish I would have frozen instead! It was a hit with the teens and quite flavorful. From my kitchen to yours. Buon appetito!

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Ragout of Limas with Chicken/Basil Sausage

One of the reasons I love winter is that it gives me the opportunity to prepare thick and hearty soups and stews.
One of my favorite ingredients to base a hearty meal in a bowl on is beans; favas, limas, navy, black, kidney, you name it, it finds a way into one of my creations.
This recipe is one I made up on the fly. It is so simple and made the house smell like a French Restaurant in the springtime! It turned out so good that I have to make it again. That, and my daughter says I owe her the recipe, so here it is!
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I've Been Slimed!

Okra is one of those vegetables that most people steer clear of. First it is green. Second, it is shaped inappropriately. Third, it is slimy. Not just slick and slippery, but it actually produces slime. Who in their right mind would want to eat that stuff?
Well, to be honest, it is good!
Introduced to its culinary promise by my maternal grandparents, it has been a source of epicurean delight and torture ever since.
My grandfather would tell us to cross our legs when we ate it because it could
slide right through. We believed him for years. All of us, my brother, sister and I, would sit, legs crossed tightly, munching away. My grandfather would sit with a knowing smile on his face as he joined us, legs crossed at my grandmother's table. I am sure now that my grandfather must have taken great and sadistic pleasure in the fact that we hung on every word he said when it came to the wisdom of food.
Later in life, legs still gloriously crossed, I told my children the same thing. For some reason, they didn't buy it. But, they too have a love for this simple vegetable.
But, how do you use it? What can you do to make it palatable?
It is great in gumbos where that slime, er, texture, provides a source of thickening for the stew. It is great cooked with tomato and corn for a side dish.
My favorite method is to fry it. Yes, I said the dreaded word. F. R. Y. Don't be afraid, it isn't all that bad for you if you use minimal oil and make it Olive Oil, thank you very much!
Here is my recipe. Hope you enjoy it.

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I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to feed people!
Welcome to my kitchen.
I know, I know, it doesn't look like much. But, although it is a nightmare from the 60s, many delicious foods and fun filled afternoons are spent here.

This, my second blog will be focusing on the goings on in this room. Holiday foods, food for family, friends, and yes, even the food mistakes! All will have a place here. Feel free to copy any recipes you like. Please leave comments. And don't be afraid to have fun in my kitchen!