Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cook All Weekend

We found ourselves with a free weekend with no plans, due to an early-season snowstorm.  It's not even Halloween yet, and there was a decent-sized Nor'easter knocking on our door.

Snowy weekends always make me feel like cooking.  This one was no exception!

First up:  applesauce.  Done right this time, I remembered to COVER THE PAN of apples while it was cooking.  Made all the difference in the world. 

Brian made Chicken Divan for dinner, which is one of my favorites.  It's a tricky recipe though,if you prepare it the way that it's written (on the can of cream of chicken soup, that I saved the label many moons ago) the chicken turns out raw in the middle.  We've tweaked it over the years, but it still sometimes comes out wrong.   A little microwaving saved dinner!  And the meal is cooked perfectly for leftovers at work certainly won't be overcooked from microwaving.  

Then last night we lost power.  It was heavy snow falling, and a lot of Central MA was without power.  We're one of the lucky ones, losing it for only three hours.  So this morning, Brian made waffles.  (And those were so special, they need their own blog post, with a little co-authoring.)  After breakfast, I baked some banana walnut muffins.  Don't get too excited...they're a box mix.  I did stir in half a bag of chocolate chips to dress them up a little, though.  

At the grocery yesterday, I bought the last two sugar pumpkins that were in Stop and Shop.  And today, we've roasted them in the oven, to process the pulp for Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie later on.  (And muffins, or bread, or whatever we feel like making.  Gosh, I love pumpkin!)  

On the stove right now:  baked potato soup.  I had this soup at our local coffee shop a few months ago and honestly I've wanted to have some more since!  Hubby is not usually a fan of soups, unless, according to him, they clog his arteries upon digestion.  :)  This ought to do the trick.  

My back is aching, and I should call it quits soon.  But I'm still dreaming about baking some cookies for the kids, and I just found the recipe for the Squash and Apple Turnovers that we made last year from the October 2010 Cooking Light.  AND I just found a recipe for beef and butternut chili.  Yes, I'm the only one who will eat it.  But who cares??  A girl needs lunch at work.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sammies and Shakes

I saw a recipe in a magazine for stuffed peppers that caught my eye.  Instead of the usual hamburger and rice, this one featured bulk sausage and potatoes.  In other words, something different than the same ol', same ol.'
It would have been helpful to read the recipe through though, because was a slow cooker recipe.  D'oh!  Certainly not a Thursday night dinner.  Instead, we ended up using Will's birthday burger coupon and heading out to Red Robin.  (YUMMMMM)

So tonight, we still had the sausage patties in the house.  (BJ's doesn't carry bulk sausage.)  So they became Sausage Sandwiches with Colby Jack and sauteed pepper n' onion.  Perfect Friday night dinner.  :)
The boys?  Waffles and strawberry smoothies were the intention.  I still have some strawberries from the summer in our freezer and since we're getting our first snowstorm this weekend (Before Halloween....what!?) it's time to use 'em up.

Only somehow they ended up being milkshakes instead.  And they were thick that the straws stood up by themselves in the middle of the glass.  Everyone enjoyed them, even Hubby and I.  Which was strange...I don't normally like strawberry drinks.  But these were very fresh strawberry, not that artificial strawberry taste that I detest.

Good Friday night, perfect start to the weekend.  :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Last year, we had lunch at a friend's house in Pennsylvania while visiting family for Thanksgiving.  We had grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches, on french bread with sauteed peppers and onions, and butternut squash and apple soup.  Well, *I* had the soup.  Brian dislikes butternut squash with the passion of a thousand suns.  (Good.  More for me.)  Since then, I've craved the soup but haven't found it anywhere.

So while shopping yesterday, I decided to do something about that.  I know that no one else in my house likes butternut squash.  And you know what?  I don't care.  I can freeze some, and give some away.  Sometimes when you want something you just want it.  And I really enjoy making soup, there's something quite satisfying about chopping up ingredients and simmering for hours.  Simmering for hours????  This time, I let the crockpot do it for me.

So at BJ's Wholesale, I grabbed two boxes of already-cubed butternut squash.  (butternuts are difficult to peel, so if "Green Giant" did the work for me, I was all about it!)

The ingredients.  (Not pictured, six cups of  chicken broth)

The recipe didn't call for sweating the onions in butter on the stove.  However, onions sauteed in butter is one of my absolute favorite smells in the world, and doing so doesn't take away from the recipe.  Saute away!

Everything into the crockpot, and set for 5 1/2 hours on low.  At that time, the spices go in.  I added allspice and cinnamon as the recipe called for, but didn't have cloves.  And I couldn't resist a little tinkering:  a bit of sage and a little ground ginger.

Then it was time for it to be blended together.  A stick blender is a really handy thing, especially one that can be dismantled for the dishwasher.  :)

The end result:  perfectly delicious butternut squash and apple soup!

I really need to do this again soon....perhaps pork and black bean soup next time.  (Cooks.....we're always looking ahead to the next challenge!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Yes.  Dismal is the word that I would use for the cooking that's gone on recently in our home.  That's because when you plan on going away for a weekend, plus the two adult household members are out of the house three nights per week (not together mind you.  Though that does sound nice!) you tend to slide into Rutville.  That's us all right....we have a new address in Rutville. 

This weekend food-wise was unfortuately all about junkfood.  I blame it on the traveling.  Plus we went to PA to visit family and the boys of course got spoiled, with the trick-or-treating at the campground, plus donuts, cookies and other sweet treats that they don't know how to say no to.  And since they don't get a lot of this at home, a little spoiling is good. 

Then an all-time low:  cereal for the writer for dinner on Sunday night, and then GASP!  I forgot to eat dinner last night. Well, I didn't forget to eat per se....I ended up having a few of the boys tater tots.  I was going to make myself a sandwich after the aforementioned tots, but got busy and simply forgot.  My stomach reminded me two hours later as I was unpacking and sorting clothes and doing all those things that fall by the wayside when you're traveling and doing too goddamn much.  Did I find something substantial to eat?  No.  I waited until Brian got home and we had a little ice cream.  He was adventurous and brought me home pumpkin ice cream.  Normally I like it, but this was a brand I'd never had before.  It was disappointing.  Not much pumpkin flavor, heavy on the spices.  And the aftertaste....ugh.  So to bed hungry it was.

But the light at the end of this dismal period is shining. There will be a "real" dinner of Chicken Quesadillas tonight. I started writing a menu today for next week and found myself looking at recipes for Beef and Pineapple Tacos, and stuffed peppers with sausage, onion and potato.  I really want to make some Butternut Squash and Apple soup, even if it's only me that eats it.

Good things....they'll be back soon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Weekend of Food

The Good

Brian's pork roast came out absolutely beautiful.  It had roasted for several hours, in a citrus-herb marinade.  Fork tender and delicious, everyone had extra servings.  Dinner was made complete with rolls, baked potatoes, carrots and green beans.  And dessert, oh dessert!  We served two desserts, because we were honoring TWO birthday guests.  Mom's birthday was last Monday, and Dad's was on Friday.  There was coconut cake with chocolate frosting and toasted coconut on top, and there was a fresh apple pie.  A little of each was left over, as well as some pork.  The pork made for a great sandwich yesterday, too.

The Bad

Dinner last night was from one of my favorite cookbooks:  "9x13...The Pan that Can."    Meatball and Polenta Casserole.  The recipe was a total disaster.  Sometimes simplicity ISN'T a good thing.  Meatballs, polenta and cream of mushroom soup....not necessarily a delicious dinner.  Oh wait, I forgot the mozzarella cheese.  The cheese could not save this dinner.  We each ate a bit off our plates, then I said "I'm sorry, I just can't eat this," and Brian agreed.  The polenta was like a corn sponge.  So instead of making something else, we just had a slice of leftover apple pie for dessert. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Stuff from This Week

There was a lot of good things this week, but I don't want to dedicate a blog post to each one. we go!

On Thursday night, Hubby made steak tips on the cast-iron grill pan on our stove.  Just seasoned with little salt and pepper, we dipped them in steak sauce and they were awesome.  Add some pan-roasted red bliss potatoes and broccoli with a light cheese sauce, and you've got dinner.  The only thing to be sad about was that there were no leftovers for the next day.

Turns out though, that I had nothing to be sad about. On Friday, I went out to lunch with a co-worker and some people from the City.  We went to this little hole-in-the-wall place called Sweet T's.  The place was Southern cuisine and soul food.  Fantastic!  I can't really say that I've ever had soul food, but I know that I will be coming back for more.  The first thing I noticed was the big signs everywhere, proclaiming that they use peanut oil for frying, so basically don't eat there if you're allergic to peanuts.  The menu featured chicken-fried chicken, pulled pork, black-eyed peas, okra, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, mashed potato and your choice of brown or white gravy.  Everything is cooked fresh to order in the back, and was worth the wait.  I liked everything except the fried green tomatoes, which I've always wanted to try.  They reminded me of a hot jello....I wouldn't say I disliked them but I didn't like them either.  The drink choices were either sweet tea or Coca Cola.  I say "Coca-Cola" because it was no ordinary Coke.  No, this was real Coca Cola, made with sugar and served in glass bottles.  I could have easily drank two of them!

Then we get to dinner last night.  On the menu was potato-chip encrusted chicken tenders.  Here's the surprise:  it was a Cooking Light recipe!  I loved them, Hubby loved them, and the kids, well, they thought they were "allright."  Ah well.  Brian also made a "grilled" caesar salad, where one wilts the romaine leaves in a cast-iron grill pan.  This was modeled on a "grilled caesar salad" that we had at a restaurant in April.  The end result is a slightly charred romaine lettuce, with traditional Caesar dressing/cheese/crouton.  Awesome.

And now, a preview of what's to come:  We're celebrating my parent's birthdays tonight with dinner at our house.  It will feature a pork roast, potato and vegetable, cake and pie.  Stay tuned!