Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oh my. Key Lime Fudge.

Courtesy of Slashfood, this....

By the way, I made the Chili Lime Tequile Popcorn from 101 Cookbooks this weekend and it was FABULOUS. I mean FAAAAAAAAAAAAABULOUS. Seriously.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

*KYSO* Skirt Steak AND Curry Chicken Salad

I've been a little behind these last few weeks, and I don't have a weekly menu to post today. BUT I thought I'd share a few Knock Your Socks Off recipes with you....

Orange Ginger Skirt Steak
My brother always requests this when he comes to visit. I think he mentioned that he can't really find skirt steak where he lives. Too bad! If you can't find it, come to California to visit. It'll be worth the trip, I promise!

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup orange juice
2 T minced fresh ginger
1/4 t hot pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, pressed

Marinate 3 pounds beef skirt steak in marinade 4 hours, or overnight.
Grill skirt steak to desired doneness.
Serve with orange wedges to squeeze over meat.

Curried Chicken Salad
I didn't really occur to me to post this as a Knock Your Socks Off recipe until just yesterday when my friend, who is also a caterer to the stars (really! she is-but I can't remember which stars just now!) called and asked for the recipe. If it's good enough for Jaci when she is making lunch for 1,000 it's good enough for me! This recipe originally came from the Lazarus "Recipes from our Kitchens" cookbook. Anyone remember Lazarus?

3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 cup raisins
5 green onions, sliced
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Toss above with dressing made with 2 cups mayonnaise, 1/4 cup honey and 1 T curry.

(recipe originally called for pineapple tidbit and shredded coconut too, but I omit that)


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner Salad

"ŒUFS" (Eggs), illustration by Adolp...Image via Wikipedia

We love breakfast here. What's not to love? Bagels, pancakes, fruit, Timbits, coffee, coffee, coffee, fresh orange juice, coffee, sausage, bacon....Almost better is breakfast for dinner. It's fast, and loaded with ah, well, let's call it "protein" and the whole family loves it.

So today is Thursday, and I've been sick all week with a fever, sore throat, and snot:

I don't have any cowbell. I've as stressed as can be for any number of good reasons and a lot of really neurotic ones. I got home and stared with my febrile gaze at the fridge praying that it would suddenly fly up and crush me. Cooking another meal (we're trying to do six at home, plus all breakfasts, and lunches on weekends) was rather intimidating after a SUPER crazy week all with a tedious febrile illness.

But then I got inspired. How about a breakfast for dinner salad? My favorites--bacon, egg, cheese, fruit--all served over lettuce. Here's how it went down in about 20 minutes:

Breakfast Dinner Salad
Serves 4

1 large container baby salad greens (mesclun or baby romaine, already washed)
8 slices bacon
2-3 ounces blue cheese
1 mango
2 pears
4 eggs
Olive oil

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

  1. Turn on large frying pan to heat up and throw bacon in (I use a non-stick electric skillet).
  2. While the bacon is cooking arrange lettuce on 4 plates.
  3. While the bacon is still cooking, peel mango.
  4. Check the bacon and flip it over if it's ready. Chop up mango and pear into bite-sized pieces and arrange fruit on lettuce.
  5. Crumble cheese on lettuce.
  6. Turn over the bacon if you haven't already.
  7. When the bacon is done put it on paper towels and press out the fat. Drain the rendered fat in the frying pan and wipe it out. Add about 1 teaspoon of olive oil if the pan looks too dry for eggs.
  8. When the pan is ready break the four eggs carefully into the pan individually and start to fry.
  9. Mix the ingredients for the dressing and drizzle over the four salad plates.
  10. Flip the eggs sunnyside over (unless you want sunnyside up)
  11. Flip the eggs on to the salads and serve. The yolk will break and spread deliciousness all over your salad.
  12. You could also serve toast triangles on the side if you wanted to, and croutons wouldn't be out of place, but this salad was quite fine on its own.

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Food Information You Can Use

WOW! This effort knocks my socks off. Cheap Healthy Good has done it again. Yesterday they posted a compendium of food charts, checklists, and wallet-sized guides that knock my socks off! It's FABULOUS. I am anxious to start working my way through the list, and can't wait to get to the "$45 Emergency Menu for 4-5" from Hillbilly Housewife. But first there's

  • Wallet-Sized Medical History
  • Food Safety Guidelines
  • Foot and Fitness Journal
  • Wallet-Sized Portion Size Guide

and many, many more. Check it out:

Information Central: 32 Free Food Charts, Checklists, and Wallet-Sized Guides

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Snack Meal

The Fresh MarketImage via Wikipedia

I made the mistake of going to TJMaxx on an empty stomach near dinner. I shopped and shopped and found all this cool stuff, but then went to get in line and nearly died. There must have been 30 people in line! No way. I put my stuff down and left. Take that corporate weenies who think that having a cashier standing around waiting to help people GIVE YOU MONEY is a bad thing. I left about $100 in my wallet.

Okay, it was more like $30.

I went to Fresh Market and got sushi, guacamole, cheese, Diet Ginger Ale (Blenheim's. Oh, so good.), chicken (for the kids), pita chips, hummus, and crackers. I had sushi and guacamole and Diet Ginger Ale. The kids had chicken, pita chips, and giant heaping towers of strawberries.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bitchin' Cuban Sandwich


Cuban sandwich was DEEEEEEEELICIOUS (Monsieur is on #3). Whole grain bread, melted butter on each side. Mustard on one inside; Swiss cheese; thinly sliced pork from crockpot (which is fabulous); Swiss cheese. Wrapped in foil and mashed by yours truly, then placed on a hot grill outside for a few minutes a side, till cheese melty.

Beet & barley salad on the side, with peas tossed in a little butter and sea salt.

We ate outside for the first night this year!

Almost *KYSO* Beef Brisket in Beer

Ok, so this goes against my policy here, but I will pass along last night's Beef Brisket in Beer recipe even though it didn't exactly Knock My Socks Off, and here's why....In all my years of cooking I have found only one Crock Pot recipe that Knocked My Socks Off (it was for Mac-n-Cheese, I'll post it someday)

This dinner was good, actually quite good. And sometimes you really need the Crock Pot to do it's magic all day.

Beef Brisket in Beer

1 fresh beef brisket (2 1/2-3 pounds), fat trimmed
2 t Liquid Smoke (optional, I used it, and my hands smelled like BBQ all day)
1 t celery salt (I am thinking garlic salt would have been fine)
1/2 t pepper
1/4 t salt
1 large onion, sliced
1 can (12-oz) beer (I used Sierra Nevada)
2 t Worcestershire sauce
2 T cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Cut brisket in half; rub with Liquid Smoke, celery salt, pepper and salt. Place in a 3-qt slow cooker. Top with onion. Combine beer and Worcestershire sauce; pour over meat. Cover and cook on low 8-9 hours or until tender.

Remove brisket and keep warm. Strain cooking juices; transfer to a small saucepan. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Thinly slice beef across the grain; serve with gravy.

(I also served mashed potatoes and a green veggie.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Use for Extra Gravy?

Dear Dr. IcedLatte,

I have about 2 cups of delicious beef gravy leftover from tonight's Crock Pot dinner. I hate to toss it. What would you do with it?


Drum Roll Please...This Week's Menu

Here is the plan for this week. I'll be honest, I forgot to turn the Crock Pot on this morning before I left the house and had to come home on my way to work to do so. Otherwise, the week's plan would have been all askew! But the house smells glorious!

Monday - Beef Brisket in Beer (Crock Pot), mashed potatoes, broccoli
Tuesday - Farfalle with Prosciutto and Green Peas in a Creamy Sauce, salad, bread
Wednesday - Potato Beef Bake, asparagus
Thursday - Corn Chowder and Big Family Salad (see earlier post)
Friday - FFY (Fend for Yourself)
Saturday - Lemon Butter Salmon, Curried Apricot Couscous, green veggie
Sunday - Cheddar Burgers with Balsamic Onions and Chipotle Ketchup, Cowboy Bean Bake and salad.

I'll let you know what knocks my socks off!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Salad Dressing Sunday

Today is my favorite day of the week: The day I get to methodically map out the week and get organized to be sure the house runs smoothly while the rest of us just run. I've identified the week's recipes mapped carefully to who is home, who is not, and most importantly, how much time I have, and when, to get dinner on the table.

There are a few things I do each weekend to prep for the week:
  • Hard boil 4-5 eggs (snacks, salads)
  • Roast chicken, then cut it all down for recipes and store what I won't be using Sunday or Monday in the freezer
  • Wash, rinse and cut veggies for the week. Especially lettuces.
  • Cook a pound of pasta and butter it. This is the "go to" lunch for my kids' thermos' in case there are no leftovers from the night before.
  • Make salad dressing(s)

This week I made Cracked Peppercorn Parmesan, Thousand Island and Oriental Salad Dressing based on what I think we may have a taste for.

I'm using the Oriental Salad Dressing tonight in this super duper yummy salad:

Oriental Cabbage Salad

  • 3 T butter
  • 4 oz slivered almonds
  • Oriental or Chicken Sesame Ramen-gently crush noodles and set aside flavor packet
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds

Melt butter and brown almonds and noodles from Ramen. Add sesame seeds in last couple of minutes. Set on a paper towel to cool.

Medium-large cabbage, chopped

Dressing-combine the following in a jar and shake well

  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/4 t sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup veg. oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • Ramen flavor packet

Toss Ramen mixture, cabbage and dressing right before serving.


Literary Dinner Companions

Cover of "Entertaining"Cover of Entertaining

Hello, PassYouBy:

I chanced upon this in the NYTimes this past week (or thereabouts):

Dinner Companions

Leann Shapton, the reporter, asked a few of her favorite authors what books they like to take to dinner when they're alone. Interesting stuff! I'm not sure that a book about a slow, inexorable death from syphilis would make my dinner great, but hey, whatever floats your mashed potatoes in gravy.

I love to stand at the kitchen counter alone, while the kids are playing or have gone to bed, and peruse cookbooks. These are some of my all-time favorites:

Barefoot Contessa CookbookImage via Wikipedia

Feast by Nigella Lawson
The most erudite and witty of cookbook authors who happen to address feeding children in a most sensible fashion. How to Eat is also on my short list, but it doesn't have pictures thus my ADD isn't quite as stimulated.

Barefoot Contessa
Any cookbook by Ina Garten is on my short list. Gorgeous pictures, ravishing food, and pleasant headnotes.

Cover of "Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Rec...Cover via Amazon

Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Margaret Foose
As you know, we vacation in the South every year. This cookbook makes me happily remember vacations past and long for vacations future. Plus every single thing I've made in this book is knock your socks off good.

The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee
Another great, informative, offbeat, comprehensive review of Southern food. Many, many fabulous recipes. The banana pudding ice cream recipe alone is worth the price of the book.

Entertaining by Martha Stewart
This oldie but goodie has been a go-to book for decades. I find the recipes uniformly excellent, but it's the way they're grouped which gets me. She sets the book up in party format. It's a great place to go get ideas from which to plan your own fete.

The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Russo and Sheila Lukins
I don't have the fancy 25th anniversary edition, but I might have to get it someday when my old, thumbed, stained original paperback falls apart. This book launched my cooking career. The friendly chatter and easy instructions convinced me I could make anything. The whimsical pictures drew me in as well. I love, love, love this book. It's a dear old friend and I will be lost someday when it disintigrates.

Cover of "The Cooking of the Eastern Medi...Cover via Amazon

The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean by Paula Wolfert and The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Oh, how I love these cookbooks. One of my best vacation memories is with Monsieur Latte in Turkey. I could eat Middle Eastern food morning, noon, and night, pretty much, and that trip we did. I almost didn't get tired of it, although I did want a lot more Diet Coke than was available at the time. These two books are so carefully detailed, lovingly written, and exhaustive in breadth. I feel as though I'm on vacation whenever I read them, on a magic Turkish carpet ride to a world of grilled meat, garlic, and lemon. Ah.
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IcedLatte's Week of Pork

vector version of this imageImage via Wikipedia

I'm doing a modified Cookie magazine pork, apple, and barley week. I left out the squash. We've had so much over the winter that we're a little orange. Here's the scoop:

Roast pork (which I browned with onions and have in the slow cooker with lemon and orange juice, garlic, one can of tomatillas, a little brown sugar, and adobo), stuffed green peppers (with the barley I just cooked, a chopped leek, diced dried apricots, celery, parmesan cheese, and peas), and salad (salads greens, makings, dressing done for the week).

Breakfast and Lunch Monday-Friday: I have my barley with a little stewed apple and maple syrup and vanilla all ready packaged. I chopped a mess of veges and oranges which I'll have with a banana or whatever looks good out of the fridge.

Salmon with a salad of lettuce, barley and roasted beets (packaged in aluminum foil to cook tonight with the peppers). I'll also chop up cucumbers and mix with a little thinned Greek yogurt and fresh dill which the kids will eat like maniacs.

Cuban sandwiches and salad.

Chicken under a brick, only not really. I'll marinate it for a few hours in dill, lemon juice, salt, and garlic. We'll have that with a little rice pilaf which will have roasted red pepper in it (which I'll roast tonight with the beets and stuffed green peppers) and grilled pineapple, all tossed in olive oil and sherry vinegar. Plus we'll have corn or peas or something. Leftover chicken will go into the freezer for something next week, and the carcas will also go into the freezer for stock when I have more chicken bones to use.

Posole with the defatted stock from the pork roast, some tomatoes, lettuce, corn, and a little hominy.

Tacos with the pork and whatever is left, like the rice and some cheese plus Greek yogurt. Out for ice cream, most certainly, to celebrate another week.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

*KYSO* Pasta with Sausage Tomatoes and Cream

I finally cooked yesterday after about a week of FFY dinners at my house ("Fend For Yourself", which roughly translated means, "Mom got too busy today and you will probably have cereal for dinner").

As I stood at the stove, my older son (age 13) said "Mom's at her post and all is right with the world". I guess they missed the cooking. I guess I have a "post"!

They all loved this one, as they have everytime I've made it, dating back to March 2007:

(Just so you know, I actually doubled the recipe below, but instead of doubling the sausage, I added a can of white beans, rinsed and drained. I felt very Dr. IcedLatte-like, improvising like that!)

Pasta with Sausage Tomatoes and Cream

2 T olive oil
1 pound bulk italian sausage
1/2 t dried crushed red pepper
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes with added puree
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 pound pasta (I used penne, but the original recipe called for farfalle)
1/2 cup packed chopped fresh basil
Grated parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and crushed red pepper. Saute until sausage is no longer pink, breaking into chunks. Add onion and garlic (and beans if you are adding them); saute 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cream. Reduce heat to low; simmer until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to same pot.

Add sausage mixture to pasta; toss over medium heat, adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Transfer pasta to serving dish. Sprinkle with basil. Serve, passing cheese separately.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Lemonade Layer Cake

Here's a terrfic cake recipe I made this weekend for my mother-in-law's birthday. I think is originally from Cooking Light, but I got it from my friend Marianne. If you happen to have any meyer lemons left from your dear friend in California, you should make it. It's really yummy.

Not sure why you need lemonade concentrate, couldn't you just mix fresh lemon juice with sugar? Oh Food Dr....can you do that? In what proportions?

Lemonade Layer Cake

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
6 T butter, softened
1 T grated lemon rind (or more!)
3 T thawed lemonade concentrate
2 t vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
Cooking Spray

2 T butter, softened
2 t grated lemon rind (or more more more)
2 t thawed lemonade concentrate
1/2 t vanilla extract
8 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To prepare cake, place first 5 ingredients ina large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.

Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) cake pans coated with cooking spray (yea, right. I used butter); sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350 derees for 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely.

To prepare frosting, place 2 T butter and the next 4 ingredients (2 T butter through cream cheese) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat). Chill 1 hour.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. To with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.


Menu Plan-Week of March 9th

I am totally in the weeds this week. I am feverishly writing lists and crossing things off so I don't forget something. I went over the edge today. I ended up getting to school to pick up the boys an hour early, confusing next Monday's early dismissal for today. Ok--for me, that's overload. That kind of thing doesn't happen often. Furthermore, it's been 3 or 4 days since I've fed my clan any kind of real food. Now that kind of thing just never happens. Feeding my family is all about love and nurturing. When that goes by the wayside, things are out of whack. Time to reel it all back in.

So, dinner this week? I will wing it and there won't be anything fancy. Here's what I think:

Monday-Big Family Salad (see post from last week)
Tuesday-Pasta and italian sausage in a tomato cream sauce
Wednesday-Chicken Pot Pies
Thursday-Leftovers (or breakfast for dinner, if there are no leftovers)
Friday-no cookin' for me, we're going to a party!

Keep your eyes open for a KYSO post (Knock your socks off). Tomorrow's pasta dish is a repeat again and again and again.

To counteract the French Toast Casserole....Grilled Salmon on Mango Salad

We had a fairly crazy food weekend. I actually had a fried baloney sandwich! It wasn't very good. I didn't eat much of it. I did, however, eat all five onion rings which came with it.

I did penance last night by eating a ton of salad. Today I started my new vegan-by-day diet plus iced latte and pretzels. It's based on Mark Bittman's intriguing diet idea: vegan by day, anything goes after 6pm.

It's modified for me, of course, because I'm special and need iced lattes in the morning. I also need to eat a lot of pretzels at work when I get stressed out, which is every minute. Today, along with the big salty hard pretzels I had a banana and a ton of celery, red peppers, and cucumbers. Plus iced tea with Meyer lemon, thanks much PassYouBy. I also had to have a chocolate covered caramel and about 10 wintergreen Lifesavers. But other than the milk, pretzels, caramel, chocolate, and Lifesavers . . .  I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow. I have no vegetables chopped and four loads of laundry to do. I suspect the laundry will win the battle for my heart, er, I mean time.

For dinner we had a not bad salad that included not a drop of dairy. Here's how it went:

Grilled Salmon on Mango Pea Salad

2 salmon filets, oiled and dusted with some rub or other I found in the spice collection
1 1/2 heads Boston lettuce, cleaned and torn into bite-sized peices
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 mango, sliced up quite thinly
Salted, roasted pepitas, about 1/2 cup

While I grilled the salmon (about 2 minutes a side) I tossed the lettuce, peas, corn, pepitas, and mango in the following dressing (which made extra for a salad later this week);

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon mustard (a Dijon but not a strong one)
1 tablespoon Major Grey's Chutney
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon cumin

Served with lettuce on the bottom, salmon laid lovingly on top. Even the kids ate it (although I divided the individual parts up on their plates).

I need something now with butter and cream. Hmmm....

Saturday, March 7, 2009

French Toast Casserole: This is so bad for you

Shout out to my friend Hilary for the recipe. Somehow her version is always better than mine--did she leave the secret ingredient--crack--out when she typed the recipe to share with me? Shout out to her for making it for me and my family on a recent occasion which left me glum and morose. Just the thought of those delicious carbs was enough to lift my mood. Actually eating them sealed the deal. Hilary is a carbohydrate hero.

This is serious comfort food, not for the faint of heart, and I'm serious about that. If you have a bad heart then you should just have fruit salad.

Hilary's Baked French Toast

1 loaf firm bread, cut into cubes
8 oz. cream cheese (I use lowfat, but I'm not sure why given the other ingredients)
1/3 cup real maple syrup
11 (yes eleven) eggs
1 2/3 cup half & half (I've cheated and used 2% with good results, but not as good as Hilary's)
9 T melted butter

Spread one half the bread cubes in a 9x13 inch pan.
Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and scatter across the bread.
Cover with the remaining half of the bread crumbs.
Mix the eggs, half & half, syrup, and melted butter together in a large bowl.
Pour the mixture over the bread cubes.
Cut a piece of aluminum foil big enough to cover the pan and butter one side.
Place foil over the cubes and press them down into the liquid so it absorbs.
Put in fridge overnight.
About two hours before serving, remove from fridge.
About one hour before serving turn oven on to 350.
Remove foil and bake 40-50 minutes until a light, lovely golden brown.
Serve with more syrup, jelly, or powdered sugar.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Best Brussel Spouts

I have a confession. I like brussel sprouts. Imagine my surprise when one of my favorite bloggers (The Blog that Ate Manhattan) ran a brussel sprouts recipe recently. Well. Here is one of my favorites (although roasted in olive oil and salt is also quite yummy), adapted from Sheila Lukins' USA Cookbook.

1 1/4 pounds fresh Brussel sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound lean slab bacon or pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
1-2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives, optional

Trim the stem ends off the Brussel srpouts and remove tough outer leaves. Halve the sprouts lengthwise and cut into julienne strips.
Heat the oil and butter (this recipe would survive without the butter) together in a heavy pot. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat until it renders fat and becomes crisp and golden, 5-6 minutes.
Add carrots and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften, about five more minutes.
Add the sprouts to the pot, toss well, and cook while stirring until they are crisp tender, about five minutes.
Season with salt (if necessary) and pepper. Serve immediately with chives.

Note: leftovers are quite tasty.

Bring on the Cookies

I think I mentioned I "gave up sweets for Lent." I'm relatively new to this Lenten sacrificing. In fact, this is the first time I have ever done it. When I told my dad I gave up sweets, he told me he gave up riding elephants. He might be having an easier time of it than I right about now.

Sweets are on my mind a lot. Most of the time in fact. I have deciphered the exact sweet I find most appealing: Cookies. They are pretty much the perfect food. Easy to eat, easy to make with all the ingredients almost always on hand, cheap to buy if you don't feel like making them, and small enough that if eaten in moderation (like only one) not too bad on the calorie front. But if left to my own devices, and with cookies on the counter, I could easily polish off a few dozen without even blinking an eye. No joke. And they don't even really have to be tasty ones. The giant pack of vanilla and chocolate wafers stuffed with sugar and partially hydrogenated oil (they call it icing) are just fine. And you can get a package of those at your local giant retailer for about $1.49!

This brings me to cookie recipes. I love cookie recipes. There are so many out there to choose from and I don't think I've ever seen one that doesn't show promise. But there are some I won't bother to even try: the ones that say "Yield: 2 dozen cookies." COME ON! Why even dirty the cookie sheet for that? 24 measly cookies are gone before the oven cools around here. What with each kid having to sample them to "be sure they aren't poison" and the natural need to sample one from each row of each sheet, I mean we need 5 dozen minimum to make it worth the effort!

Here is one of my favorites. It's my mom's recipe and it is YUMMY!! I better head to the store to get some more butter. I allow myself one day of dispensation each week when I can eat sweets. Saturday is my day. And it's coming up.

Swedish Butter Cookies
(Makes about 5 1/2 dozen)

4 cups flour
2 t baking powder
2 cups butter (no wonder they're so good)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 t vanilla
About 65 almonds (like a 2.5 oz pkg)

Preheat oven to 325.

Sift flour and baking powder. Cream in butter, sugar, and vanilla. Form into 60-70 small balls and flatten on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Press 1 nut into the center of each flattened cookie.

Bake 18-20 minutes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dinner courtesy of Trader Joe, Penzy's, and Fresh Market

Yo PassYouBy:

Dinner on the fly tonight. Took me 20 minutes from beginning to end:

1. Turn on grill.
2. Olive oil and Greek seasoning (courtesy of Penzy's) on fresh ham steak.
3. Pot of salted water on to boil.
4. Quite slice and dice half a head of escarole, small onion.
5. Pot on stove with a squidge of olive oil.
6. Ham steak on grill.
7. Trader Joe's lemon pepper papardalle into pot. Timer for 8 minutes.
8. Onions, escarole to pot with olive oil.
9. Turn steak quarter turn.
10. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock to escarole, onions. Bring to boil.
11. 2 pounds peas from Fresh Market to stock.
12. Flip steak over.
13. Drain pasta. Add 1 tablespoon butter, 1/4 cup stock to pasta pan over high heat and reduce.
14. Steak get turned a quarter turn.
15. Throw pasta into reduced stock.
16. Stir peas.
17. Add 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt to pasta. Remove from heat.
18. Take steak off heat. Rest five minutes.
19. Stir peas. Take cover off and let liquid cook down.
20. Get out plates.
21. Bed of pasta topped with a huge amount of peas; sliced fresh ham steaks on top.
22. Drizzle with juice from the steak.

Beets with Garlic and Walnuts Beats Goat Cheese

At least according to Mark Bittman:

Roasted beets with garlic and toasted walnuts

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The BFS (Big "Family" Salad)

Not far from where I live there is a house with a giant rock in the yard. I don't mean big. I don't mean huge. Frankly, I don't really even mean giant. I mean, it is one Big Effing Rock. In fact, it is known as the BFR around here.

A few years ago, when it seemed likely that, as the mother of boys, camping would figure prominently into our vacation plans, we traded in our 4-man tent (which is really a 2-man tent, come on!) for a bigger one. The side of the box read "10-man Vacation Home." We have nicknamed our tent the BFT, or Big "Friendly" Tent. (And btw, "10-man" really translates int0 "4-man with room for your stuff".)

Recently, I conconcted a wonderful salad for my family. To my surprise and delight my boys loved it! Wanted it every other day or so! Gobbled up veggies like it was a bowl of pop rocks and gummy worms! This salad is now a regular on our dinner menu and has been dubbed the BFS, or Big "Family" Salad.

I now use a dictionary regularly to find appropriate "F words" to slip between the B and the S for everyday things. My boys howl everytime we come up with a new one. Here is the recipe for one Big Effing Salad:

The BFS (Big "Family" Salad)

Lots of lettuces, always romaine and red leaf, never iceberg, and usually something along the lines of a "spring mix"
Hand full or so of shredded cabbage
Carrots, shaved into thick pieces with a potato peeler
Cherry tomatoes
Red or green onions
Dried cranberries
Toasted sugared walnuts
Crumbled goat cheese
Sprinkle of dried dill
Deep fried chicken tenders from the hot foods section of the grocery store deli, cut into 1-inch pieces (this is the real draw, so I use this liberally!)
Ken's Honey Mustard dressing

Toss it all together and enjoy!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Clean out the Pantry: Rice Wine Vinegar

An old friend from high school was inspired by recent "clean out the pantry" posts. She has vowed to clean out her own before summer, in fact, mentioning an abundance of Rice Wine Vinegar...one of my FAVORITES!

Here you go, Linda. This is one of the best recipes I have EVER made. I got it from my friend Julie, Thanks Jule!

Sticky Coconut Chicken

6 to 8 boned, skinned chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs total)
3/4 cup canned coconut milk (shake it up before opening)
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 t fresh-ground pepper
1 t hot chili flakes
Chili glaze (recipe follows)
4 or 5 green onions. sliced

Rinse chicken and pat dry. In a large bowl, mix coconut milk, ginger, pepper and hot chili flakes. Add chicken and mix; cover airtight and chill at least 1 hour or up to 1 day (I do this in a ziplock bag instead of a bowl).

Remove chicken from bowl (bag) and reserve marinade; spread chicken flat and grill until no longer pink inside, basting frequently with remaining marinade until about 2 minutes before chicken is done.

Transfer chicken to a warm platter and pour the chili glaze evenly over meat. Garnish with green onions.

Chili Glaze

In a 2 to 3 quart pan, combine 3/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 3 T soy sauce, and 1 t hot chili flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring often, until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8-10 minutes. Use hot. (Can be made up to 1 week ahead, cover and chill; reheat before serving.)


PS, Dr. Latte--Why do all of our great recipes use coconut milk?

Taking It Easy This Week-Cooking From My Freezer

Well, after the exhausting exercise of doing a pantry and freezer inventoy in hopes of finding dinner inspiration tucked in there some where, this is what I've come up with for this week's dinners:

Monday: Hamburgers and Ceasar Salad
Tuesday: Pork Tenderloin with a Twist of Orange (Crock Pot!), roasted potatoes, broccoli
Wednesday: Taco Salad (I love this with Nacho Cheese Doritos)
Thursday: Pasta with Meat Sauce, salad and garlic bread
Friday: My son is turning 13 today! We are going out to celebrate.

The only new recipe here is Tuesday. If it's a Knock Your Socks Off recipe, I'll post it tomorrow. Don't count on it, though, Crock Pot recipes rarely knock my socks off.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Timely, Lemony Post

In case you have recently come into a lemon bounty, here's my favorite recipe for lemon curd. I mostly like to serve this with vanilla ice cream and white chocolate chips.

Lemon Curd

Juice and grated rind of 4-5 lemons (Meyer lemons are best, of course!)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, cut in pieces
5 eggs, beaten

In a double boiler combine lemon juice, rind, sugar, and butter; stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted.

Add eggs and beat with a whisk to combine, then continue stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture coats back of spoon. Do not let mixture boil or it will curdle.

Strain through a fine sieve to remove rind and refine to a creamy consistency. Cool, then refrigerate.

Makes 3 cups.

Here's My Inventory List...

Here is what is in my pantry and freezer, what should I cook this week? ...Stay tuned, I'll post the final menu tomorrow.

Pasta-5 lbs penne, 2 lbs elbow, 1 lb spaghetti, orzo and assorted small pastas like you would use in soups
Lentils-red and green
Dried yellow peas
Rice-(brown, white, arborio, instant white, instant brown)
Mango chutney
Hoisin sauce
Seafood rub (Not sure how I got this, I don't like seafood!)
1 box StoveTop Stuffing
Canned Garbanzo beans
Canned White beans
Canned diced tomatoes
Canned cranberry sauce (don't even ask)

Many dinners' worth of homemade pasta sauce
Boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Boneless skinless chicken thighs
Homemade chicken broth
Frozen ravioli
Frozen little tiny homemade pasta (like you would use in soup)
GOBS OF MEYER LEMON JUICE!! (don't hate me!)
Pork tenderloin
Ground beef
Bulk italian sausage
4 chicken tamales
Taco meat (cooked)
Assorted frozen vegetables
2 pkgs lil' Smokies
Ham Bone

I also have some super expensive organic beef stock I bought for a recipe and now there is lots left....I want to use it for sure!

Cooking the pantry plan

Here's the plan:

Sunday: Make sweet potato stew in slow cooker for later this week and for lunches. Make rice. That will use coconut milks, tomato paste, some celery, some peas and rice. For dinner tonight we'll have the lasagna which has been languishing in the freezer since before I had surgery. If I remember to take it out to thaw, that is. We'll have a little salad on the side. There will be leftover lasagna for lunch, which I'll take in to feed the office tomorrow. If I remember.

Monday: Pantry posole. I'll use more tomato paste, hominy, some chicken broth, and I think I'll use some of my frozen spinach in it. I'll also use two onions and some celery.

Tuesday: Roasted shrimp and baked potatoes. I'll use mainly my cocktail sauce with this. It's a splurge to buy shrimp, but leftover can be thrown in my sweet potato stew for lunch, etc.

Wednesday: Breakfast of oatmeal with dried fruit compote. Will make potato bread with the dried potato buds. Lunch with kids will be fresh bread, cheese, sliced carrots, and fruit. For dinner, Greek style pork chops (from the freezer) and lemon pepper noodles. Fruit on the side.

Thursday: Sweet potato stew with rice. Fresh pineapple on the side.

Friday: Salmon cakes. Will use up some eggs in the fridge, plus the chopped spinach. I'll also make breadcrumbs from the half a loaf I have leftover from last week and use them as filler. We'll have the salmon cakes over a bed of dilled peas, with a sauce made from Greek yogurt, dill, and mustard. I think any leftover pineapple will be quite tasty, too.

Snacks are going to be homemade bagel chips (with the leftover bagels) and popcorn. So, here's my pantry list with strikeouts for what I'm going to be using up:

1 can hominy

1 can salmon
1 bottle cocktail sauce
Popcorn galore
Coconut milk, light and regular
1 small can tomato paste
1 large can green tomatoes
1/2 box dried potato buds
1 can grits
1 package lemon pepper noodles
Lots of orzo
Big bag of rice
Pig in the freezer
Frozen homemade chicken stock, supply getting low
1 pan frozen lasagna
1/2 celery heart
4 onions
1 cantaloupe
Assortment of dried fruit
My usual array of 5,474 misc. condiments
Bag frozen peas
Bag frozen chopped spinach
1/2 loaf leftover bread
4 leftover bagels

That's not bad! Next week I think I'll do a pork roast with some of my pig and the can of green tomatoes. I can use that as a hash over rice, and for tacos, and to throw in some enchiladas for the freezer.

At the grocery I don't need much, mostly fresh fruit, fresh veges, frozen corn, half a chicken breast, some cheese, shrimp, and some flour (have been baking a lot of bread lately).

Of course, if the pantry is empty that means next week is going to be a BITCH at the grocery! Hello, Trader Joe?

Cook the Pantry

Yo PassYouBy:

I'm cooking the pantry this week. Not exactly because I can't afford to go out and buy. Thank heavens, we still can do that. But I'm tired of looking at the same cans of this and that, dried boxes of a little bit of pasta. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do yet, but here's what I'm working with:

1 can hominy
1 can salmon
1 bottle cocktail sauce
Popcorn galore
Coconut milk, light and regular
1 small can tomato paste
1 large can green tomatoes
1/2 box dried potato buds
1 can grits
1 package lemon pepper noodles
Lots of orzo
Big bag of rice
Pig in the freezer
Frozen homemade chicken stock, supply getting low
1 pan frozen lasagna
1/2 celery heart
4 onions
1 canteloupe
Assortment of dried fruit
My usual array of 5,474 misc. condiments
Bag frozen peas
Bag frozen chopped spinach
1/2 loaf leftover bread
4 leftover bagels

Hmmmmm......I'm pondering what to do. Stay tuned.