Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thank Goodness For.....

...Grocery home delivery!

I haven't been cooking much in the past week. I threw out my back, and standing for long periods of time at the stove is currently a no-no. I hurt my back last month in NC, but it had been getting better. Then something happened the other day, but I can't be sure if it was lifting Will out of the tub, or picking up stuff of the floor. But it hurts to do EVERYTHING! So I am taking it easy.

The very idea of bringing Will to the Grocery Store with me and having to load and unload the car was making me woozy. So I logged onto Peapod and ordered a week's worth of groceries to be delivered. Oh, what a lifesaver! The driver even brought the groceries into the house so all I had to do was unload them. And the fee for delivery was under ten bucks! It's not something I'd do all the time, but it sure is a good service to have.

Hopefully in the next few days or so I'll be back to crafting in the kitchen. :) By then I will be ready to eat something besides leftovers!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Breakfast for a Crowd

I went grocery shopping after work on Friday, I really miss going during the week when no one is there! But anyway....I didn't take a real good look at what we already had in the house, so I ended up buying some duplicates. So what's a girl to do, when she has 3 dozen eggs in the house? Turn to the internet to find a breakfast dish, something different than what we usually have. I turned up with this Breakfast Casserole. It didn't take too long to make on a busy Saturday morning, and it was scrumptious! The recipe is from, and though it says it serves 4-6 people, it was just me and Hubby yesterday. So we decided to see if it would make OK leftovers in the toaster oven, and it did! This recipe is pretty basic, you could always dress it up with a different kind of cheese, or use some spices, or even roast some veggies in place of all or some of the meat.

Breakfast Casserole

4 slices of bread, torn
12-16 oz cooked bacon or sausage, drained and crumbled
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Grease the bottom of a 13x9 pan. Tear up the four slices of bread and place in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle cooked, crumbled bacon or sausage over the bread pieces. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the meat. Mix eggs, milk and dry mustard together, pour over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

C'mon Autumn!

Autumn is my absolute FAVORITE season! I love the crisp air, the smell of leaves and anything pumpkin. I just got Rachael Ray's magazine in the mail the other day and I am salivating over this month's recipes!! There's a recipe for pasta with Pumpkin Cream Sauce in there that I want soooooo bad. And Apple Sticky buns, a whole bunch of burgers and three different kinds of fondue!

I enjoy summer and all of it's light, cool treats and seasonal produce. But now it's time for the chili, the beef stew, pumpkin bread, apple cider. But it's been so hot and humid in the past week, my brain is all confused! I'm craving chili, but my body's telling me grilled steak and corn on the cob. Hopefully it'll be here soon, only thing we can do is wait!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Ever see "Unwrapped" on the Food Network? It's a great show, hosted by Marc Summers. (Remember Double Dare as a kid? I wanted to be on that show sooooo bad!) They choose a food and see the history of it, where it originated and usually tour wherever it's made. The other night though, there was an "Unwrapped" that was a behind-the-scenes of the Food Network. The cooks featured were Mario Batali, Emeril, Giada DeLaurentiis and Rachael Ray.

First of all, it was mind-boggling to see how many people are involved in "backstage" for each of these shows. Mario Batali and Rachael Ray share a right-hand woman that does all of their prep work for them, I hope she's really well-paid!

I've said before that I'm not an RR fan. I used to despise her TV show "30 Minute Meals" because, as friends have pointed out, there's nothing on there that mere mortals can cook in less than an hour! I've also disliked the sound of her voice too. But I realized that it's not really her I hate, but her TV persona. That bounciness and grating voice of hers is really just her TV persona, when she's talking like a normal person she actually comes off as likeable. Yeah.....I can't believe I said it either. I'm not sure when this episode of "Unwrapped" was filmed, but I found it entertaining to see Rach sipping a cup of Starbucks Coffee when we all know she has a contract with Dunkin'!

So anyway, that makes me feel a little less bad about liking her magazine and cookbook. Though I still think she's spread pretty thin in the media! She has a line of dogfood out. DOGFOOD!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Praise for Polenta

Last night I had thawed some chicken breasts in the fridge for dinner. I'm a little tired of chicken, rice, vegetable. So instead, I browned the chicken, and then baked it in the toaster oven with a little ground cumin and chunks of green pepper. I had a tube of basil and garlic polenta in the fridge, so I figured "Why not?"

Polenta is cornmeal, basically, so it's a good vegetarian side dish as well. You can get it pre-made in a tube in the refrigerator section, or you can make your own with cornmeal. If you make your own, it looks more like a "mashed potato" type dish, or corn mush. (Which is also delicious, with a little butter and maple syrup!)

It turned out to be a nice move! A tube of polenta is a quick-go to, and comes together rather quickly with a sharp knife and a frying pan. You just slice it into rounds and then brown them in a hot skillet. I threw some medium salsa and melted some shredded Monterey Jack cheese on top and voila! Instant delicious dinner. Plus I had the leftovers for lunch at work, and the ladies in the laundry room were saying "What smells so good????" while it was in the microwave! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Something we can All Agree On....

I got home from work today, and I didn't want to cook. I wanted to go to a restaurant. I wanted someone to bring me a nice tall iced tea while I perused a menu, trying to decide between burgers and chicken, appetizer or dessert. I was green with envy when my co-worker made plans to hit Ruby Tuesday's with her husband tonight before heading home. I whined that it had been a long day and I was "so tired." And so tired of cooking.

But I pulled it together, and made Will and I quesadillas. It's one of the few meals that I can make for all three of us. I'm trying to be better at not starting a habit of giving Will something different for dinner than what I've cooked for us all the time. It's a trap that I've fallen into that I really want to get out of! Will loved eating his cheese quesadilla though, and I made chicken and steak ones for me. (Steak was leftover from the other night) I broke out the gadgets (electric griddle, George Forman Grill) and though I dragged through it, it came together quite nicely. And now I have leftovers tomorrow instead of getting a sandwich or something. Yay me. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Evoking Memories

I was thinking of foods that I associate with memories. I thought I'd like to list a few....

Roast Beef: My grandfather was a master at a roast beef dinner. A roast in the oven always brings me back to Christmas at my grandparents. He even knew how to carve it right. Mmmm...

Strawberry Cooler: I still hate this flavor of Hi-C to this day, after getting sick one day. Artificial strawberry drink...ugh.

Tuna Casserole: my childhood. My mom used to make a tuna casserole with tuna, instant white rice, frozen peas, mushrooms and cream of mushroom soup. I got stuck on it for a while and wouldn't eat anything else. (Boy, having my own kid makes me understand that better now!) Mom called it "chinese food" to get me to eat it. I called it Sing Casserole. I don't think I'd like it today, but I sure loved it then!

Hot Sauces: Really really, REALLY hot sauce makes me remember the time that my dad, brother and I decided to sample some hot sauces that Dad had gotten for Christmas. It was a boxed set called "12 Angry Men." We made a plate of nachos and passed the bottles around. I don't remember which sauce did it, but sometimes a quart of milk is simply just not enough to fan out the flames!

Though there are more, those are it for today!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Books and The Power of Suggestion

In the movie"City of Angels" starring Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage, Nicolas Cage plays an angel on earth that falls in love with Meg Ryan and becomes human. (It would've been a great movie had it not been for the ending....but I digress!) She first notices him in a library, and when he sees her he's reading a book about food. Being an angel, he has no need for food, or sleep or anything else. But he reads a paragraph alound, and with a pleased look upon his face, he closes the book and estatically says, "I love it when they write how things taste!"

That hit a chord with me, because I'm always getting romanticized by a description about a food item! In "Where the Heart Is," by Billie Letts, I totally got sucked in by the description of the birthday dinner that Forney prepared for a pregnant, Walmart-dwelling Novalee. I craved beef, gravy and puffy pastry like mad! In Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (My favorite childhood author) I got hooked on the idea of frying apples and onions together, and making ice cream! Also by The Long Winter.....the feast that the Ingalls Family had after the impossible blizzard-filled winter when trains couldn't come through with supplies: After reading that I always have a hankering for a Thanksgiving feast!

My latest is one I don't think I'd ever would have considered on my own. But in "I Feel Bad about my Neck" by Nora Ephron, she writes an essay about vanishing food. You know, things that you love to go out and eat, and then one day you go and they're not there anymore. (like the Banana Rumba dessert at Chili's...forever a memory!) Well, in this particular case, Ms. Ephron laments the loss of.....cabbage strudel. Yes, you read that correctly. In this particular case, it's not the cabbage strudel that disappears, but the Hungarian bakery that made the coveted treat. She searched high and low, collected recipes....all to no avail. Then one day, a friend calls her to tell her that there's a place nearby that serves it and it's culinary bliss. Strudel to me should be a sweet breakfast treat, like cherry or apple, sugary and served with coffee. Not with a vegetable! But by the time I finished reading her awesome description of the buttery, flaky savoriness of it, I found myself wondering if the city nearby has a Hungarian bakery!! :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Birthday Sushi, Birthday Cake

Yesterday was Brian's birthday. I won't tell you how old he turned....cause that's just not nice. :) When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday dinner, he said sushi. So I picked up a Party Boat and an order of Philly rolls (very good-smoked salmon and cream cheese rolled with rice and cucumber) at our favorite sushi place for a quiet dinner at home. We had more than our fair share of spicy tuna, sashimi and california rolls, the aforementioned philly rolls and there were even a couple of weird ones for Brian to sample. that stuff! We used to eat it a lot more but surprise--another change to chalk up to having kids.

I also was going to bring home cake from Wholly Cannoli, a local bakery who's famous for obviously, their cannolis. Now, a cannoli is something that I can't turn down! If someone offers me one, I am genetically wired not to refuse, even if I'm stuffed! Wholly Cannoli has the best ones, mini and full size, in flavors like Apple Pie, Cappuccino, Pistachio and Caramel, as well as the traditional ricotta ones. But Brian had other plans---he wanted to make his own creation.

I felt kind of guilty, like I had been working so much lately that my husband had the sad task of making his own birthday cake! But he reminded me that he had a free afternoon and that he really loves to bake, so I relented. When I came home, he'd make a "Fiddler on the Roof" cake from the Cake Doctor Book. I've mentioned this book before....each recipe features a box cake mix that's been "doctored" to make it richer and super-tasty. We swear by it, I don't think there's a bad cake in the bunch! This one was no exception. As you can see from the picture, it looks like a big chocolate glazed donut. It was a yellow cake mix, with cocoa powder swirled to make it marble. It also had almond extract and marshmallows in the glaze. SO GOOD!! Though I am still doing Sparkpeople, it's hubby's birthday anad hey, that cake was calling! I am currently trying to avoid having it for breakfast!! :)

Happy Birthday to my sweet!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quick Dinners??

The dynamic of our household is changing again. Because of my new job responsibilities, I am back to work full-time. Despite my best efforts and writing a menu every week, I am in a bit of a rut for quick family dinners that make some leftovers for lunches. So I would like to put it out there to anyone that reads this blog: What are your go-to recipes when like is crazy?

Just leave me a comment and tell me what your family eats in a pinch when everyone's busy and there's not a lot of time to experiment in the kitchen! Thanks for your help. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Little Bit of Magic...

I am going to an event tomorrow night that I needed to bring a treat to share. I didn't even hesitate when deciding what to make--Magic Cookie Bars!

These are a family favorite and very easy to make. I've heard them called other names, like Layer Bars or Angel Bars. But in our house, they magically disappear!

Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 pkg (16 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
3 1/2 oz flaked coconut
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Melt butter in 13x9 pan. (Put butter in the pan, put pan in oven!)
Sprinkle crumbs evenly over melted butter.
Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs.
Rop evenly with remaining ingredients, press down firmly.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cool before cutting.

For the little effort that goes into's a big, chocolatey reward!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I scream for ice cream!

For me, ice cream is the ultimate in treats. It has everything I want...sweet, smooth, creamy and full of fat. 'Cause as we all know, fat and sugar tastes good. mmmm....

Want something to make you feel instantly like a kid again? A total ice cream dinner. My friend Lexi, whom I visited in Maine this weekend, and I had ice cream for dinner, but in an unconventional way. Instead of stepping up to the freezer and scooping a couple of bowls, we went out. Her parents retired from their jobs several years ago and bought an ice cream shop called "Here's the Scoop." Today was their last day of the season, and they only had soft serve left for customers today and tomorrow. Lexi and I had plenty of ice cream! Now, I haven't made a cone since I worked at McDonald's in high school, but I seem to still have the touch for the perfect swirl. Now, for an oddly delicious flavor, swirl coffee and black raspberry together and serve with chocolate jimmies. Lexi's mom said that it was a pretty popular flavor this season, and I can see why!

So, after a couple of cones and a dish of vanilla with hot fudge, I'm a happy girl. Not something I'd do all the time....but once in a while to bring back the days of going to the beach and stopping at Friendly's on the way home! Everyone should have ice cream for dinner at least ONCE in their lives. If you have a friend with an ice cream shop in the family, then it's that much sweeter. :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dinner Club and Crisp Cookies

Last night, I joined a bunch of Moms for a Dinner Club. The object is for a bunch of moms to get together to try a restaurant that they've never tried before. This was the first time, and we went out for Thai food. At the end of the meal, we draw names and that person gets to choose the next culinary adventure! It was with four moms that I don't know very well, and it was a lot of fun. The Thai place was small, and for a little while we were the only ones there. We were instructed to remove our shoes because we were going to sit on the floor. That was a little strange, but not uncomfortable because there was a big pit under the table so you could dangle your feet instead of sitting Indian-style. (which I probably haven't done since grade school!) The food was delicious, chicken curry and pineapple rice. My name was drawn at the end, and I chose a Tapas place in the city. I have never had tapas, and I'm really excited to finally get to try them! Tapas are a Spanish-style of cooking, from Spain. Basically Tapas translates to "Little Dishes." All in all, it was a nice night out.

When I got home, I found my husband scented with butter and sugar. He was baking cookies. (What a guy!) Brian's a great baker, he really loves to do it. Last night's cookies were these small walnut and butter cookies, sprinkled with sugar. They came out of a cookbook that our friends Chris and Jenny gave us a long time ago, they gave us the cookbook marked with mini-post-its with comments on their favorite recipes. The recipes in the book are delicious, and the comments are hilarious. These cookies are very small, so you don't have to feel guilty about having one. Especially with your morning coffee. :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

On the Bandwagon!

Ha! My husband loves burgers, but he is a turkey-burger hater. Why? Well, he believes that ground turkey is dry and doesn't have much flavor. Well, that's true, if you overcook it or don't give it any flavor. We had apple cheddar turkey burgers for dinner tonight....and he liked them! Enough for us to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Here's the link, they were delish! (We omitted the cranberry sauce, by the way. If you're a fan---go for it!)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back...and Full!

We came home today from a great vacation on the Outer Banks in North Carolina! We also spent a couple of days visiting family in Pennsylvania. So for the last week.....there has been a lot of food!!!

I didn't log onto Sparkpeople once for the entire trip. On vacation=no dieting. But I did get plenty of exercise! That tends to happen on the beach, and walking, and chasing after an almost two-year old!

The Outer Banks is a resort area, with a lot of great restaurants. Seafood is really, really big there. We had dinner at a place across from our resort called the Sunset Grill and Raw Bar. The food was great! The atmosphere....very loud and a bit messy. Their big claim to fame is the fabulous view of the sunsets from their outdoor patio facing the Currituck Sound. Unfortunately, it was very windy and we thought it would be tough to eat with Will in the sun and wind. We also got to have a dinner alone (Sheer Heaven!) at The Grill Room in Corolla. Ohhhh......a filet mignon of my dreams! Know what goes really well with steak? Blue Cheese Butter. Brian had Chilean Sea Bass, which he said was fantastic. And of course, no dinner is complete without dessert....creme brulee!

As with any vacation......we had ice cream at all the great spots. To show we were REALLY on vacation, we once had two ice creams in a day! (I on the edge!) We did buy some groceries and eat in a couple of dinners to save some money, and I have to say, the best corn on the cob in the world is in Currituck County, North Carolina. Especially when it's in a salsa on top of a fresh crabcake!

I did see something that I don't think I'd like to try.....a soft shell crab sandwich. Now, I adore crab, especially california sushi rolls, or king crab legs. But a whole crab, still with legs attached, breaded and fried, tossed onto a soft roll? Not for me. Brian liked it though.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. We're home, and have no groceries. So tomorrow I restock, and start cooking again. And login to start tracking food and exercise (grumble grumble)

In case you were wondering, Will ate like a CHAMP on this vacation! The only thing he turned down all week was a scrambled egg. He tried a quesadilla over the weekend and loved it. We had tacos at one of our favorite Mexican places, Moe's. Moe's is a chain that I thought was only around here, but there was one in Pennsylvania waiting for us on Saturday night! So, for my friend in the Lowell area (and you know who you are!!) If they can build a Moe's in Warrington, PA, there's hope for you yet! :)