Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Naturally, There's Cake

Happy New Year!!!  Hubby made this gorgeous, sinful chocolate cake, since we always celebrate NYE with cake.'s so good!

Hope 2015 brings lots of good things.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Sweets

It's not Christmas without cookies we shall have.

So far we have coconut macaroons, oatmeal scotchies and chocolate shortbread.  I made the macaroons last week, I'm surprised that they've lasted this long.  (there's also been brownies and birthday cake in the house so that's probably why)  I spied a bag of butterscotch chips at Walmart last week and they made me nostalgic for the oatmeal scotchies that my mother used to make.  They came out pretty well, too.  Well, two thirds of them came out perfect and the other third were a bit crisp.  The chocolate shortbread was a new recipe from a cookbook that we received from Brian's brother, John and his wife, Patricia.  (They also sent a cookie did they know that I've always wanted one!!!)  I also made dough for snickerdoodles but was overcome by fatigue and back pain to actually bake them.  Rule #1 in baking:  know your damn limitations!  Rule #2 in baking (in my world, anyway) wear something more supportive than slippers, you crazy lady!  Tonight's baking will be playing with the cookie press, in sneakers.  :)

Brought to you by The Letter "F"

No, not that "F"'s words are Freezer, Frittata and Fail.

First the frittata....last night's dinner was from the Epicurious  cookbook that we like so was called "Kitchen Sink Frittata."  In other words....tons of stuff in it.  In anticipation of (hopefully) knocking some things off the Holiday To-Do list, Brian had dinner on the table early.  The kids weren't interested in the slightest so they had leftover pizza.  Sean's got an aversion to pizza lately, but even he had a little and then some yogurt. was delicious.  Not the most filling meal in the world but just have two pieces and you're good to go!  It had tomatoes, basil and potatoes, and plenty of cheese.  Brian said that the recipe had called for bacon but he didn't put it in, given his bacon-cooking woes as of late.  (Smoke, smoke smoke!)  And I now know the difference between a frittata and a quiche....quiche has crust.  And either of them would be delicious at breakfast.

Now for Freezer and Fail.  I've got a lot of friends that have super good luck in freezing things.  There's a lot of pins on Pinterest about freezer meals.  Yet.....I don't have much luck in the freezing department.  Either I forget something is IN the freezer and it gets destroyed over time, or it wasn't meant to be in the first place.  We also seem to have a shortage in plastic containers, but obviously that's an easy fix:  get more containers.  The most recent fail was the other day:  Brian had made bone-in chicken breasts with a corn relish, with mashed potatoes sometime in November.  It was more food than we could eat at one meal and we were heading to Philly in a few days.  I hate to throw food out, so I froze the chicken, relish and potatoes separately.  This week being a busy week (HA!  That's an understatement) I defrosted them.  Only to my dismay....the potatoes were soup and the relish had turned brown.  The chicken was probably fine but I'm throwing it out anyway because I have nothing to go with it.  I want to get better at this, if other people can do it so can I!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Taking the Reins

As I've mentioned before, my husband is the cook.  I CAN cook, but he's more of the family chef than I am.  I can certainly feed my family, and I can make good food, but fancy food is not in my reparte.

Except for last night, where I have to say I made a pretty damn good Chicken Marsala.

Chicken Marsala is my favorite meal.  It's what I judge a new (to me) restaurant on, and a favorite at some of my favorites.  So when I saw that Brian had put it on the menu with rice and steamed zucchini, I was excited for a Monday night dinner.  Being excited for anything on a Monday is a stretch, so this was a big deal.

In comes Murphy's Law.  Good Ol' Mr. Murphy likes Mondays.  And a big monkey wrench was thrown into the Chicken Marsala plans.  Huge accident on the MassPike involving a coffee truck overturning and leaking fuel, which naturally brought gridlock and a rotten commute for all.  Even for me, the lady who has nothing to complain about now that she has a itty bitty commute compared to the big honking 35-miles-each-way-through-Hell that I had years ago.  I called Brian on the way home and reported the mess, and told him that it was going to take a while.  He said that we could order sandwiches when he got home, whenever that was going to be.

Upon getting home though, I remembered that driving in that kind of mess just sucks the energy right out of you.  Sometimes Brian would have a hot meal waiting for me and the travel stress would just slide away like water off a duck's back.  So my mind was made up...dammit, I'm going the kitchen.

Instead of rice, I chose mashed potatoes since potatoes go bad a lot faster than rice.  I pounded chicken breasts, sauteed mushrooms and onions, made sauce from scratch.  All while feeding the kids sliced apples and leftover homemade mac n cheese with ham and fielding math questions from Sean and Minecraft video recaps from Will.  At one point my house grew very smoky, and I had to run around opening doors and windows.  (No fire alarms!)  I was plating the chicken as the garage door opened, and everything was perfect.  Well, truth be told the house was a little chilly because I forgot to close the dining room window.  Usually I'm the chilly one but I was in a camisole and busting my butt in the kitchen!  The chicken was perfectly cooked, soft without a hint of "rubber."  The mushroom and onions didn't burn at all and the sauce was blended nicely.  Awesome, I pulled it off!!!
And Brian?   He loved it.    Not that our local sandwich place doesn't have mighty fine wares, but a homecooked meal from someone that loves you at the end of a stressful day....nothing better than that.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Art of French Cooking

Brian's birthday was in September and I got him a cookbook that he's wanted for some time:  Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."  As neither of us have any experience in EATING french cuisine, much less cooking it, it's a new culinary adventure.

He's made two dishes so far....Daube de Boeuf and Pork Sylvie.  Both meals took the better part of a Sunday but were out of the park. The Daube de Boeuf was kind of like a beef stew, only baked in the oven.  We had it with a Parmesan Risotto that was to DIE FOR.  Brian told the kids that it was "steak and cheesy rice."  Will remarked that he'd never had steak like it and Brian just told him that it was a "wet method" of cooking.   He didn't eat it all but certainly didn't complain.

The Pork Sylvie came at a time where I was needing comfort food in a big way, after my kidney surgery.  It was this perfect pork roast, stuffed with swiss cheese.  Normally I'm not a big Swiss cheese fan but this was divine.  Lots of leftovers, which of course made me quite happy.

I think I could get used to eating French food.  Not every day of course, but as often as Brian can cook it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

All things Pumpkin

Last night we attended our very first "Trunk or Treat."  Don't know what that is?  It's this really cool way of doing "Trick or Treating" in a parking lot with candy in people's trunks.  Also, it's safer so yu don't worry about your kids walking by themselves.

The party also featured "Glow Chucks" (it was at Will's karate school) and the kids had a great time!  Also a costume contest and the purpose of this blog, a pumpkin cooking contest.

Brian was originally going to make individual pumpkin creme brulees, but we didn't have enough time since we were also preparing for Will's birthday party this weekend.  So I found a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes with caramel cream cheese frosting.  They were an awesome Pinterest find and really easy.  Any recipe that lets you use a box mix and a jar of caramel ice cream topping is aces in my book.  After the cupcakes are baked you take a straw and poke holes in them, then put caramel topping in the holes.  It makes for a really moist, sweet cake.  And the frosting was incredible too!  We had said that we were going to bring cookies, which I had planned on just buying.  I never got to the store though, so Brian baked pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for the potluck table.  They were really good too, chewy and just enough pumpkin flavor.

We didn't win the contest...a pumpkin-maple bar with bacon took the prize.  And who can argue with's BACON!  We did get a lot of compliments, though.  There's always next year.  And stupidly....I didn't get a picture.  Use your imaginations this time.  :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Chicken in Every Pot

When I wrote the menu last week, I decided to give something a try...

I go home for lunch most days, it's a nifty benefit of living and working in the same town.  So...why not put together a crockpot meal while I'm there?  I chose something easy, Crockpot Chicken Teriyaki.    This way, there wasn't chopping of a million ingredients or having to pre-cook anything.  And hey, if it didn't come out well, there's always pizza.  (my standard answer to bad dinners everywhere)

It came out better than well.  It was great!  Imagine coming home from work after picking up the kids at school/preschool, to the smell of dinner already cooking.  All that was left to do was make rice, steam broccoli and thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch.  (We were out so Brian used a tiny amount of flour while I was folding laundry.)  Bang!  Dinner on the table at 6pm, leaving time for Will and I to finish watching "Goonies."

Hmmm...."Crockpot Monday" may just become a thing!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mixed Reviews

Two meals from last week:  cheesy ravioli bake and meatloaf "cakes."  I thought that they were pretty kid-friendly.  I was apparently wrong.

The first one, cheesy ravioli bake, seemed like a slam-dunk.  Both kids adore cheese ravioli, especially Will.  I figured this was cheese ravioli with a little bit of veggies and some cheese on top, for the win.  Brian and I loved it!  The kids?  Notsomuch.  Will picked at the ravioli and Sean cried that it looked "terrible."  Later on Sean told me that he likes ravioli, but next time don't make it with the "leaves" and tomatoes if I want him to eat it.  Leaves are baby spinach, by the way.

Then on Tuesday or Thursday (all my nights run together after a while) Brian made a "meatloaf cake" recipe that I had found on Pinterest.  Now, I am not a big meatloaf person.  I have never had a meatloaf at home that I've really liked.  A bread pan with a "loaf of meat" with a big fat slick on top just isn't delicious.  Not so with these.  They were perfectly cooked and didn't resemble martian food, very flavorful.  And the slick of fat?  Nowhere to be seen.  We served it with egg noodles and canned green beans.  (aka STILL the only vegetable these two will eat without a fight)  The meatloaf was a big old No Go.  I threw in the towel and acquiesced to their request for peanut butter and jelly.

All this meant that there was more leftovers for us.  Later on in the week Brian made loaded mashed potatoes to go with the meatloaf cakes when we ran out of noodles.  We had a lot of potatoes in the house, and these were awesome.  Obviously, we will continue to soldier on, to get these boys to eat new things.

If you're interested in the meatloaf "cakes" recipe:  here it is.  We omitted the sriracha to make it more "kid friendly."  Hahahahahahaha!  :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Summer Wrap-Up

Look at that!  A whole month went by with no posts.

That's not to say that we haven't been eating.  Obviously, we ate, or I wouldn't be here to write this!  We had a lot of good stuff, not that I can remember all of it for this post.  I found a bangin' recipe for chicken caprese that was out of this world good.  I'd post a pic, but every since I replaced my phone a couple of months ago when my youngest dropped it at Disney World, I can't auto-update photos from my phone.  So here's the recipe:  Chicken Caprese.  Normally I'm not a fan of grape tomatoes, but they really worked in this dish.

Another Pinterest recipe that I tried this summer:  Nectarine and Basil Pizza.    I substituted peaches which was a mistake, because the peach crop this year was abysmal.  Well, at least in the grocery stores it was, I have YET to go peach picking!  Another tip....don't try to make it a quicker dinner by using a Boboli crust.  It just didn't work.  Eating weird-textured peaches on a boboli feels like you are eating a very sad cracker.

Now we're starting to get towards fall, and tonight I made chili.  It wasn't quite "chili weather" but it still tasted good.  oh, and meatballs for the freezer.  Now THOSE came out well!

Tomorrow night we're having a chicken ginger stir-fry, and trying a new recipe on Tuesday.  It's chicken with artichokes and red potatoes.  Looking forward to it.  And though I don't update often, I'm glad to be back!

Monday, July 21, 2014

July Eats


I haven't been doing so well in keeping up this blog this month, but vacation and stuff will do that to you!  That of course doesn't mean that we haven't been eating good stuff.

Fourth of July was super-rainy.  So instead of having a cookout or something, we stayed home.  And Brian made these homemade fish sticks.  They were SO much better than the frozen kind.  And I made a tartar sauce to go with them, which the kids of course wouldn't touch.  Tartar sauce surprisingly has few ingredients.  Mayonnaise, chopped pickles and capers.  That's it.

And for something fun, we decided later on to make lumpia.  Brian was looking for something different with ground pork and he came across this recipe--it's like spring rolls.  They came out awesome!!  There was pineapple fried rice to go with it, which needs improvement as it's a one-note wonder.  Still was delicious, though.

Now we've just gotten back from vacation--Orlando!  We stopped at Perkins once we got off the plane, which Brian and I both love.  Sadly, the closest one I've ever seen to us is Pennsylvania.  Their pies alone are worth the trip.  I just ordered a chicken tender plate, I had been craving fried chicken for some time but was trying to behave.  (Vacation is not for behaving.)  This is how I knew that we were in the South--when saying "Yes, I'd like gravy" I had to specify what kind.  Turkey, beef, brown, cream or plain.  This is what I love about the southern part of the country!

 Orlando brought us Disney World, with our first dole whip.  Pineapple juice and ice cream...I must have one again!  (I actually did see a recipe on Pinterest, will have to try.)  Food at Disney World, though expensive, is mostly delicious.  I say "mostly" because of course we did eat a lot of "kid friendly" stuff.  Will and I took a "Mom and Will Day" at Universal Studios to see all of the Harry Potter attractions, and one of the things that we experienced was butterbeer.  I always wondered what butterbeer was, exactly.  I can now tell you, butterscotch!  They had two versions, frozen and non.  Will and I shared a frozen one and it was incredible.  We stopped at the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley (that is really fun to say, by the way!) and had a very British lunch of fish and chips for me, and macaroni and cheese for him.  (the other two items on the kids menu, Meat Pie and Fish and Chips, did not appeal.  Not surprised.)  The fish and chips was surprisingly one of the best I've ever had, and I had a non-frozen butterbeer.  It's still butterscotch but carbonated.  Incredible.

Another restaurant worth mentioning is Carrabbas.  It's Italian food, which is a crowd-pleaser in my family.  I always judge a place by their chicken marsala and this place didn't disappoint.  What was disappointing, is that there aren't any in the area.  In Massachusetts, yes.  In Central MA?  No.

Now we're back home and getting into the swing of things.  Got some new recipes to try in the next week or so, but tonight's an easy night:  Will's favorite, cheese ravioli.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Best Ever Chicken Thighs

Allow me to introduce you to some of the BEST chicken thighs I've ever had!!

Brown Sugar and Mustard Chicken Thighs and Sweet Potatoes.  

Hooray for awesome Pinterest finds!

Only one issue:  I really need to learn to read the recipe before putting it on the weekday menu.  This was an oven recipe, with almost an hour of baking time.  That being said, it was worth it!  Not too bad in calories and delicious to boot.  

Homemade Meatballs 'n Sauce

In an effort to be more health conscious, we've been eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water and reading labels at our house.

One of the biggest eye openers?  How much sugar is in everything!  Places you wouldn't expect it, either.  Ketchup, salad dressing.  And the biggest surprise:  jarred spaghetti sauce!

So Brian decided to give making some a whirl.  Not even from canned tomatoes, but fresh.  I always thought that tomato sauce, though worth the effort, took a ridiculous amount of time.  Not so.

We made it on a Thursday night, from "The Joy of Cooking."  And it was wonderful!  Served with homemade meatballs that had been in our freezer, and substituting a bit of the spaghetti with spaghetti sauce.  The sauce was a bit thin, which is another big surprise.  Why is jarred sauce so thick!  The thinner sauce was much more flavorful, and savory over sweet.  Delicious!

I'm not saying that we'll make homemade all the time.  Because I know that with two working parents, some prepared foods are necessary at times.  But this was well worth the effort, and the expense.  So much in fact, that we're doing it again on Tuesday.  :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer Salads

In our house, we eat well.  In fact, I think a lot of the time that the food that Brian makes is better than most restaurant food that we get to have.  I'm not being braggy...ok maybe a little.  But in terms of cooking, I've always said that he is exceptional whereas my cooking is good for everyday.

Speaking of restaurant food...there is one food that I've always found better at a restaurant than at home.  Salads.  

Salads just taste better at a restaurant.  The produce is fresher, the presentation, the variety of ingredients.  Until recently, salads at our house were just green salads with a little tomato and cucumber on top.  Maybe some celery or carrots, and almost always featured "bag-o-salad."  You know, the big bag of mixed lettuce that you buy at the grocery store and pray that it will still be good in two days.  (It usually isn't.)

I'm starting to change my mind about salads....a couple of weeks ago Brian and I made a Chinese chicken salad using romaine, rotisserie chicken, oriental noodles, toasted almonds, mandarin orange slices, etc.  It was delicious!  It was also huge--and would've made great leftovers if we hadn't dressed the whole thing.  It was a soggy mess the next day.  So I've learned a few things:  the secret to a great salad is in the dressing.  Homemade is best, and honestly, it's not difficult or really time-consuming.  Plus, you know what's going into it and can adjust it to your taste.

So Brian and I have resolved to a salad dinner once a week, and here was last night's:

Rib-eye steak over watercress, radish and a little blue cheese, with a wine vinegar dressing.  

It was quite good and surprisingly, filled us up.  Can't wait to see what the next salad turns up like!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Quinoa Cakes

That's right....quinoa cakes.  Not like a sweet birthday cake, but a savory one for breakfast.  

I had pinned a recipe on my "Operation Healthy" pinterest board some time ago for cheesy quinoa cakes.  Since I had this in mind for breakfast, I omitted the lemon-garlic aioli.  Though I would like to try that next time!  I was at a conference last week and it might've been just the jump-start I needed to eat and be healthier.  One of the other RSC's gave me some tips on getting  more protein, especially at breakfast.  So I gave these a whirl!

Couple of things:  first of all, quinoa is messy.  And unlike making a patty with ground beef, it's sticky and falls apart easily.  I had to rinse my hands several times and there was cooked quinoa all over the counter when I was done.  Secondly, when the recipe says "Cook five minutes on each side," DO IT!  Don't just say "oh, these are vegetarian so they should be ok.  I have a whole bowl of screwed-up quinoa cake in the fridge.

This was delicious this morning with a fried egg on top.  And I wasn't hungry til lunch!  (Though I had a "Be Kind" bar for snack, which was equally delightful.)  

Monday, April 14, 2014


The more things that we make from scratch instead of a box, the more things we want to try to make ourselves.

This weekend was homemade cornbread and homemade mayonnaise.  The cornbread was because we had our friends Tracy and Michael over for chili and not enough jiffy mix.  Brian chose a recipe online and ta-da!  Cornbread for a crowd.  It was quite unlike store - bought,  it had plenty of moisture!  That came from giving the cornmeal a 5-minute milk soak.

The mayo was also born out of necessity.... Brian went to make a roast beef sandwich and we didn't have any!  He said that it was quite an arm workout but that it was delicious.

So, in no way will we attempt to cut out pre packaged foods permanently, as they are a huge time saver for two working parents. But whenever there's time on our side, we are sure to do this kind of thing again.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Brian's Creations

Brian wrote the menu last week, and it was all based on ideas instead of recipes.  I don't usually cook like that, I prefer a recipe.  But he's good at it.  

First one was his new take on Chicken Parmesan.  He had seen something on a food network gameshow that gave him the idea, and this is the result:

Fresh Chicken Parm with Couscous

Pan-fried chicken cutlet, topped with canned tomato, a slice of mozzarella and a spinach-arugula blend.  Oh, and shredded parmesan.  Couscous was a nice departure from the normal spaghetti, too.  It tasted light and fresh, which while I love traditional chicken parm, one does not describe it as "light."

Seared sea scallops over linguine.

This recipe puts Olive Garden to shame!  I say that because we went to Olive Garden last month and it was truly disappointing.  I ordered a chicken pasta dish that was like sixteen bucks and what was it?  A pound of angel hair with a little butter and wine, couple of pieces of chicken and a whole pepper cut into huge hunks.  Not their best efforts.  This was scallops, a wine and butter sauce, pepper and onion stirfy and some more of that shredded parmesan.  Not to mention, the rest of that spinach and arugula blend, with Brian's own made-up balsamic and lemon dressing!  (Totally made up on the spot, and it was great!)

I wrote the menu this week, and it's back to recipes.  It'll still be good, though.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dulce de Leche

I can't believe that I forgot to write about this....In January, Brian was reading a blog about making your own dulce de leche and I didn't think it would be easy.  He proved me wrong, and it was a snap!

Then he made homemade crepes on Sunday morning for breakfast, with the dulce de leche, strawberries, marscapone cheese, nutella and bananas, make your own!  It was incredible.  Dulce is dangerous though, because it filled a mason jar and can keep in the fridge for some time.  Not something I'd want to make often, but hey, once in a while is ok, right?  :)


I'm finally getting back to my long-neglected Day Zero List, and it was time to make a fourth soup that I've never made.  Clam Chowder!  That's New England Style....not Manhattan.  I'm a lifelong New Englandah and we make it with cream, not tomatoes.  I've had the Manhattan style and it was ok but not great like cream-based.

For my first shot at it, it came out pretty well.  I did NOT want to shuck clams, so we got the frozen ones and drained the juice from 'em.  The recipe came out of Cook's County Cookbook from America's Test Kitchen and I was very surprised with how quickly it comes together.  I've always thought of making clam chowder as a day-long process, but am happily to report that I was wrong.  And the simplicity of ingredients was nice too:  bacon, onion, potatoes, clams, cream, salt, pepper and herbs.  Done!  I will admit that it was thinner than I thought it would be, but that's something that I can work on over time.  It was delicious for lunch on a Sunday, and I'm thrilled that it all worked out.

Next thing on the DZ-List....fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls, next weekend!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"Under the Dome"

No, I'm not talking about Stephen King's novel or the lame TV show "loosely based" on the book last summer.  I'm talking about food in my kitchen.

For the last couple of weeks, we've been using a domed cake plate for goodies on the island.  One Saturday, I noticed that we had some bananas approaching the mushy stage and whipped up chocolate banana muffins.  They were a hit, especially as part of breakfast after Will's first sleepover.  The next week, I had asked Brian to get Rice Krispies at the grocery store and they only had the industrial-size box.  Rice Krispy treats, after cooling and getting cut into squares, went on the plate.  And on Wednesday night, when I got home from knitting I was greeted by the smell of fresh blueberry muffins because Brian discovered that we had a plethora of blueberries in the fridge.  You guessed it...under the dome!

Wonder what will put under the dome next....or will the streak end?

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Visit to Childhood

What does one do when the primary grocery shopper brings home the biggest box of Rice Krispies?  You start eating it with fruit as planned for breakfast, and then decide on rice krispie treats!

These whisk me right back to childhood.  We had these for school snacks often enough, or would bring a pan to a class party or bake sale.  They always went fast. I don't care what anyone says, the homemade ones are infinitely better than the prepackaged ones.  Plus, they require minimum effort and most of that is melting and stirring.  The kids won't even touch them, though.  They don't know what they're missing.  :)

Butternut Squash Pasta

This was a meal that we had in February that I've been meaning to post about.  It was on the cover of "Good Housekeeping" and sounded intriguing.

Butternut Squash and Cavatappi with Bacon.

It just sounded good!  Typically I'm the only one in the house that likes butternut squash, and by "like" I mean love.  But Brian agreed to try it and it was incredible.  The squash gets made into kind of a sauce, and the bacon really goes well with it.  It looked slightly dry, so we decided to add a heaping spoonful of ricotta in it and that made it a little richer.  But not overbearingly Goldilocks and the Three Bears and "Just right!"

It made for great leftovers, and in looking at it, I kept forgetting it wasn't mac n cheese!  My brain was tricked continuously.  This one is a keeper.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Supper Bowls

Something in this month's Cooking Light caught my eye this month:  brown rice bowls.  Basically, a bowl of brown rice bowls with add-in ideas.  The pork one sounded intriguing, with pork  tenderloin, asparagus, dried cranberries, feta cheese, balsamic vinegar and toasted almonds.  All flavors that Brian wasn't sure could go together, but as the flavor decider in this family, I said it was worth a try.  Delicious!  Almost, in fact, good enough to lick the bowl.
  Looking forward to leftovers tomorrow.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Valentine's Day

Hubby and I aren't big on celebrating Valentine's Day.  It's a simple affair, really.  We exchange cards between ourselves and the kids, and we always get them a little box of chocolates.  Haven't gone out to dinner in years, between the crowds and reservations and (often subpar food) we just gave it up.

Besides, when your significant other can cook like THIS, why would you want to go out?  Especially if this masterpiece is followed up by Marscapone and Fudge brownies??

 Steak with a mushroom wine sauce, baked potato, crab legs and asparagus.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Something Different

Three "Different" dinners had in this house in the past week.  Because the "same old, same old" gets well....old!

 Fried Chicken isn't new.....but this was a cornmeal fried chicken instead of breaded.  Still was good, but I like breading better.  The batter got Hubby thinking about corn dogs.

 Flank steak with a chipotle aioli.  Delicious!  Flank steak is my new favorite cut of beef.  On the side is saffron rice and peas.

Tonight:  what I refer to as "Chinese Spaghetti."  It's kind of like a pork lo mein, but unfortunately we put too much rice noodle in it.  Still had great flavor though.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Caramel Corn

Snow day yesterday!  I don't know how many the kids have had so far this year but it feels like we're going to be doing school til the end of June for sure.

Snow days always make me feel like baking.  So there I was, going thru Pinterest for something new and exciting.  And that's when I saw it.  On my "Sweet" board, there was a recipe for homemade caramel sauce.  And the author shows it being poured over a bowl of popcorn.

Now, caramel popcorn is one of my favorite things on the planet! I never have it for a few reasons:  it's messy, it's labor-intensive and it's one of those trigger foods where I "may" just try to eat all of it.  I've loved it for years, ever since some popcorn company came out with a microwave popcorn recipe with caramel.    I'm more of a purist these days though, and don't do microwave popcorn.  (The stench of it being permeated into more than one microwave between a boyfriend whose father was addicted to the stuff, and every dorm I ever lived in reeking of burnt popcorn)

We do have an air popper machine but I leave it at work for when we host movies for the residents.  Sometimes, one less thing to drag to work and back is really a good thing!  Naturally, that's where it was yesterday.  Then I remembered that a friend of mine had posted her popcorn process on her blog recently.   And I was game!

First of all, I had no coconut oil, only vegetable oil.  Turned out just fine though.  I had never made popcorn on the stove before, and now I don't know why because it is ridiculously easy.  And smells incredible to boot!  The boys enjoyed it plain for a bit while I made the caramel sauce.  The caramel sauce was also easy, and allowed me to finally use up a bottle of corn syrup.  I did follow the suggestions of the comments and add a teaspoon of baking soda to the caramel, to have it harden a bit.

The end result was so insanely delicious, I brought a bowl and spoon out to Hubby, who was snowblowing the driveway.  Just couldn't wait, it was THAT good!  Will really liked it but Sean didn't care for it.  Will and I did like the recipe said and ate it with a spoon while watching yesterday's movie choice of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving."  I'm proud that I didn't eat all of it, but it was quite challenging.  This is something we're going to have to make again for sure.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pork Chop Disappointment

Last night's dinner was a shining example of how they just can't all be winners.

It was a casserole called "Pork Chop and Rice Bake" from one of my go-to cookbooks "9 x 13:  The Pan that Can."  The recipe touted itself as the perfect Sunday meal straight from the oven.  Sounds pretty good, right?

It was not.  The pork browning on the stove next to the onions sauteeing smelled delightful and promising.  My mom, who had stopped by for a visit, remarked at how good it smelled. I was looking forward to this based just on my nose.

However, the end result?  Not delightful.  In fact, it was dreadful.  Not sure how this happened, but it tasted like feet.  I've never tasted feet before, but this is my interpretation of what feet would taste like should I choose to dine on them.  And the rice....oh the horror.  After 45 minutes of baking in the oven it was still as crunchy as it would be if you took a spoonful straight out of the box and put it in your mouth.  Not sure where this went wrong, but it was horribly, horribly wrong.    Needless to say, our trashcan ate well last night, and the recipe got a big-lettered "NO!!" right on the page.  And leftovers for work today.  I'll eat Peanut butter and jelly if I have to, just glad I'm not eating that again!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Those Cookies

I'm talking about Rollo Cookies.  Sweet, chocolate-y cookies with a rollo candy encased in each one, then rolled in sugar and chopped pecans.  I make them no more than once a year, usually at Christmas time.  Why?  Because they are B-A-D for you.  They're the kind of cookie that you can eat four in a sitting and die happy.  Dangerous, I tell ya.

I ran out of time at Christmas and didn't make them.  Friends of ours from Maine were originally supposed to visit the weekend after Christmas but postponed.  I had shelled the rollos out of their wrappers to make the cookies that weekend, so I just popped them in the freezer for their weekend visit in January.  

Maureen and Sky arrived in a surprise New England snowstorm last Saturday. These cookies were a perfect treat to end what is usually a two-hour drive to my house.  Maureen, a big fan of the Rollo cookie, was thrilled to hear that I was getting them in the oven.   As soon as they had cooled SLIGHTLY, we all attacked them like they were the last food on Earth.  And why not....they're best when they first come out of the oven, the still-warm cookie turns the rollo inside all smushy and delicious.  :)    Sky, new to the fold, soon became a quick convert. 

I guess we didn't go crazy on ALL of them....I just ate the last two in the plastic bowl at lunchtime a week after I made them.  And now there's no more til Christmastime.  I'm sad, but my waistline is elated!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Guac Talk

Hi, I'm Ginny and I'm a guacamole fan.  Make that a guacamole addict, and I'm roping my husband in on it, too.

Good LORD I love guacamole.  And if it's homemade, even better!  Actually, now that I've been making it myself for some time, I don't think I'll ever buy store-made again.  I don't even use a recipe.  Just a few avocados, a chopped tomato, finely-chopped onion (red is better but white will do in a pinch), fresh lime juice and salt, and fresh cilantro.  I mix 'em together and bring on the chips!

I didn't think my husband would ever eat avocado, but now we edge each other out at the bowl.  Funny how things change over the years!

I'm thinking now that the avocado could shine in other dishes.  Perhaps a salad with avocado and either grapefruit, orange or mango, and definitely the red onion.  My wheels are turning for this summer.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I've found something that appears to be a universal truth.  When someone is cooking tomato sauce from scratch but they call it "gravy," it is likely going to be incredible!

One of my residents (the same from the meatball post)  had a pot of "gravy" on her stove when I saw her today.  The pot was very heavy and looked like it had been with her for years.  Probably because it was, she likely made gravy in it every Sunday for her and her three kids for the years that they were growing up and beyond.  Now she makes it for herself, and sometimes shares with other residents on her floor.

Now, I'm not Italian.  "Gravy" to me is the brown flavorful sauce that one puts on their turkey and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.  And only in the last few years have I condemned "canned gravy" in my house, now that I know how easy it is for Brian to make it.  (Yes, I could probably make it too.)  I live in a jarred spaghetti sauce household.  My mom made her own spaghetti sauce for years, which I miss.  Later on we switched to Prego jarred sauce due to time constraint and convenience.  Brian grew up in a Ragu household, with two parents working and four kids to feed.  Neither of us like the other's familial sauce choice so we compromise and buy Newman's Own.  I've said it before....I haven't ever had something bad from the Newman's Own line.  Paul Newman must've been one incredible cook!  I agree, jarred spaghetti sauce gets dinner on the table FAST and isn't terrible.   And honestly in my house, neither kid particularly cares for spaghetti sauce, opting for butter and parmesan cheese instead.  (So, please explain why they'll happily eat pizza??)

But from what I smelled upstairs today, I know that someday I  must make a "gravy" of my own.  One that would make this woman proud.  :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

First Dinner Post of 2014

First Dinner post of the year!  

 Apple Cider chicken with rice and broccoli.  We've had variations of this before, but this version from America's Test Kitchen was by far the best.  I loved sopping up the gravy with that rice.

Parmesan-Breaded Pork Chops with couscous and green beans.  We've made this recipe many times as well but usually serve over thin spaghetti.  This one dinner has made me decide that I like it over couscous better.  And the leftovers the next day are even better.     I can't believe I used to hate couscous!