Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pioneer Woman

After watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay last night, I had to look up Ree Drummond.

And I'm so glad I did... Her blog is one to envy, and she writes so well that even a post I'm not interested in is a great read. Needless to say, I'm trying two of her recipes this week. First, tonight is beef enchiladas which will serve as great leftovers for tomorrow's dinner as well. Then Tuesday will be her meatloaf recipe.

I'm sad to report that I still have not located the other part to my camera charger, so there will be none of my own photos to post of these two recipes, so I'll try to borrow some to make this look a little nicer than a plain old photo-less post.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Birthday Lasagna

Every year for Matt's birthday, in addition to whatever present I buy him, I also make him anything he wants for dinner. He always requests lasagna for what I assume are these 2 reasons: 1) it's his favorite, and 2) there's no other time of the year I would actually choose to make it.

I don't know where I got this recipe, but I imagine it's one of those that I kind of created based off of several recipes. Currently the meat sauce is simmering on my stove-top and the water is boiling for the lasagna noodles. I'm posting exactly what I used and the method I used. And thanks to a key component to my camera charger missing, this post will unfortunately be sans pictures. Use your imagination. :)

Birthday Lasagna


1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
1 16-oz. can tomato sauce
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. dried parsley
1 t. dried basil
16 oz. 1% cottage cheese
9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/4 grated parmesan + more for topping
3-4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste


Brown turkey in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. I believe I added a little S&P and some Italian seasoning during this part. Remove turkey from pan and set aside. Add a little oil to the skillet and saute the garlic and onion together with the basil. I think I also added in some red pepper flake during this process because we like our lasagna with a little kick. ;o)

When onion and garlic are becoming transluscent, add the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and some S&P to taste. Bring sauce up to bubbling then add in the cooked ground turkey. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low-ish. Simmer for about an hour (or however long you have to let the flavors develop).

Meanwhile, boil a pot of water and cook noodles according to package directions.

In a smallish bowl, combine cottage cheese, dried parsely, 1/4 c. grated parmesan, and some S&P to taste.

To assemble:
Set aside 1/2 c. of sauce mixture. Layer 1/3 sauce, a couple handfuls of mozzarella, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, and 3 noodles. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used up. Top with reserved sauce and sprinkle with extra mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Allow lasagna to stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Will be accompanied by salad and garlic bread tonight. Happy birthday, husband!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


to school, to posting, to feeling so busy I don't know what to do!

Since our move, my days have been filled with new staff meetings and workshops. Tonight was the first meal I've made at the new house that I felt was post-worthy, even though there were good ones before we left our old house in Topeka. One of which was a great set of recipes I got from Cara that she got from Bonnie, but I believe those are stashed in my recipe box, and I'm too lazy to go get them out. One was an interesting mole, one was a southwestern take on a gratin, and the other was a salad. All very good, but I did a little doctoring. When I feel motivated and have more time, I'll post those and my alterations. I would definitely make them all again!

Tonight was short, sweet and to the point.

Entree was Shrimp with Cilantro Pesto from Melissa D'Arabian, then my own batch of rice w/ chili & lemon juice (because I ran out of lime juice!), and a broccoli slaw with a chili lime dressing from Cara. All three went perfectly together! And it came together so photos because I was hungry and lazy.

Here are the recipes, my edits and alterations are in parentheses.

Shrimp with Cilantro Pesto


1 lime
1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons toasted chopped pecans
1 clove garlic, chopped  (I used more because I love garlic!)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(I added a little water to thin it out a bit)


3/4 pound raw medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used frozen cooked & it worked great!)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt


Pesto: Grate 1 teaspoon zest from the lime and juice the entire lime for about 2 tablespoons of juice. Combine the zest and juice with the cilantro, green onions, chopped pecans, chopped garlic, sugar, vegetable oil, and extra-virgin olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture until well-combined, but still slightly chunky. Season the pesto with salt, and pepper, to taste.

Shrimp: In a bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the pesto. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the shrimp until just opaque and pink, about 3 minutes. Put a generous spoonful of pesto into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Serve the remaining pesto on the side or freeze for another use.
(My method differs quite a bit here: I thawed the shrimp under cold running water, meanwhile heating the pesto & 1 T. of olive oil in a skillet. Once the shrimp were thawed and drained, I added them to the pesto to warm through.)

My Rice:

2 c. instant brown rice
1 3/4 c. water or chicken broth
2 T. olive oil
Seasonings you like (in this case I used chili powder, salt, pepper and a splash of lemon juice)

Heat oil in skillet, add rice and brown gently, stirring frequently. Add seasonings and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and return lid to pan for 5 more minutes or until water evaporates. Serve under a healthy serving of shrimp & cilantro pesto!

Chili-Lime Broccoli Slaw

1 bag broccoli slaw
about 15 baby carrots
1/4 c. chopped cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, chopped (ribs & seeds removed for less heat)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 c. sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1 lime, juiced
1 t. apple cider vinegar
1 t. chili powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all veggies in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Combine dressing with veggies and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Greek Feast

Every time Zach and I cook, we try to cook something we've never attempted before. When we were planning this culinary adventure, Zach had just been to a Greek-Fest in St. Louis, which inspired him to suggest pork souvlaki, to which I added hummus, pita and a Greek-style squash (by no means traditional or authentic, but inspired by traditional Greek flavors).

First, the souvlaki. We used this recipe from


1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces


In a large glass bowl, mix together lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, oregano, and garlic; add pork, onions, and green peppers, and stir to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Thread pork, peppers, and onions onto skewers.

Lightly oil grate. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or to desired doneness, turning skewers frequently for even cooking.

These turned out GREAT!!!

Next, the pita. We used this recipe from Kitchen 22:

Pita Bread (recipe from Kalofagas)
makes approximately 6 big ones

3 cups plain flour
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
oil for greasing the pan
flour for dusting
Mix the water, olive oil, yeast, salt and sugar and leave for a few minutes. Add the flour slowly and mix with a wooden spoon until it becomes a dough. When it is too difficult to do it with the spoon, start mixing with your hands. When the flour has been incorporated, knead until the dough looks smooth. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave for half an hour.

Pull pieces off the dough, the size of an orange (although it depends on how big you like your pita!) and roll them out into 1/4 inch thick round sheets. Use a fork to poke holes into the dough, without going all the way through it.

Very much like making tortillas!

Very delicious!

Carianne was cooking the pitas, and she decided not only should you put oil in the pan before you throw the pita in, but it's also better if you brush the other side of the pita with oil as well to prevent it from getting too dry.

The hummus was something I just kind of threw together based upon my preferences on taste and no particular measurements. I used 2 cans of chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, garlic and salt and just blended everything up until it was smooth, creamy and tasted good!

Served with fresh cut veggies, too!

And finally, the veggie dish. I used a variation on this recipe from Taste of Home (my edits are in parentheses): 

2 small yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced (I used 4 big zucchini because I couldn't find any yellow squash that day)
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup pitted ripe olives (I used kalamata)
2 tablespoons chopped green onion (I used yellow onion)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (I added feta as well)

Place the yellow squash, zucchini, tomato, olives and onion on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 17 in. x 18 in.). Combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic salt, oregano and pepper; pour over vegetables (I put cheese in at this point instead of waiting until the end). Fold foil around mixture and seal tightly.

Grill, covered, over medium heat for 30-35 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. (My foil pack was SO BIG we had to put it in the oven instead of on the grill because there wasn't enough space with all those skewers, too!)

Transfer vegetables to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 4 servings (Mine made WAY more than 4 servings...6 of us ate and still had leftovers!)


And of course there was snacking...

White truffle oil, olive oil and feta

I had no idea exactly how pungent and strong truffle oil was, but mellowed with a bit of EVOO and mixed with some feta, it was a great dip for the pitas!

And there was wine involved, too...followed by Zach being, well, Zach.

Charlotte's Red (L) and Ludmila (R) from Davenport winery.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling (center)

Zach + old man sunglasses - one lens = pseudo-pirate


Monday, June 14, 2010

This bread is bananas...B-A-N-A-N-A-S

There really is a Facebook group entitled "Gwen Stefani taught me how to spell B-A-N-A-N-A-S"...

I'm not a member, and that song drives me crazy. And I probably just got it stuck in my head after typing that as the title of this post, HOWEVER, something HAD to be done with the over-ripened bananas hanging out on my counter top. Banana bread was the only reasonable solution.

Simply Recipes is one of my favorite food blogs to frequent...I've cooked many recipes that Elise has posted including chile verde (which I absolutely adore), carnitas, and albondigas soup. This was the first time I tried a baking recipe from Elise, and I made a few minor alterations of my own in the interest of my own personal health goals. What follows is Elise's recipe (that she got from a friend) with my deviations in italics.

Banana Bread

3-4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 c. melted butter - I used Smart Balance
1 c. sugar (can easily be reduced to 3/4 cup) - I did that
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered (I sprayed the pan with canola oil) 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

The result:

Hopefully this glorious aroma will linger in my home long enough for the potential buyers coming to see it from 4-5 this afternoon can still smell it!!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Taste of Home

So my thought that changing my blog from 101 in 1001 to being about food would make me write more was clearly wrong. Whatever. I'm back.

Thanks to my mother-in-law, I have a subscription to Taste of Home magazine. And thanks to Audrey Kinne from Elkhart, Indiana I had a fabulous recipe to try out for dinner on Sunday night.

(Photo courtesy Taste of Home magazine)

Grilled tomatillo chicken is something Audrey says she invented because her husband's favorite restaurant that served a similar dish was closing. (By the way, don't know if the link will work, b/c according to ToH website, this recipe is marked "subscriber only". But google it and try it out!)

I don't know what that restaurant was or what their version of this dish was like, but hers was AMAZING. Definitely going into the regular rotation.

I have no photos of my journey in making this dish, but they would have been boring anyway because it was so simple and turned out so delicious.

If by any chance you, Audrey Kinne, happen to read my simple little blog, THANKS! My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it! :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ponderings on a Snowy Sunday

But not as snowy as it's been in D.C. lately, thank goodness! I am about SICK of snow, so to take my mind off of it I decided to make a delicious batch of one of my favorite soups to take for lunches this week: Tomato Bisque.

I use this recipe from Food Network, and I alter it a bit to improve on the healthiness. I use organic chicken broth, Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend, turkey bacon, and fat free half & half. It's so good. Matt even likes it. When I mentioned to him today that I was making this soup for lunches (for like the 5th time this winter), he said, "Good. We were winning more games when I was eating tomato bisque for lunch." I laughed.

I don't have a pretty picture for this soup, and if I did have a picture, it wouldn't be pretty because this isn't really a pretty soup.

On the menu for this evening: chicken cordon bleu, cheesy corn & mac casserole, and broccoli. This is our Valentine's dinner. This meal has me wondering why it's called cordon bleu but doesn't use bleu cheese. Hmmm...something to ask Google.

I'm doing a baked version for the chicken from All Recipes, linked here. The casserole recipe is one of my grandmother's, which I will post below. It's a family favorite, and we eat it at almost every holiday meal. Again, I'm altering it to make it a tad healthier. Smart Balance butter blend, no salt added canned corn, 2% milk Velveeta, and whole-wheat macaroni.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Cheese-Corn-Mac Bake (from Joan Shufelberger, a.k.a. "Gram")

1 can creamed corn
1 can whole corn & juice
1 cup uncooked macaroni
1 cup cheese cubes (American or Velveeta)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons minced onion

Mix together all ingredients and bake in a greased casserole dish for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Can be mixed ahead of time. Refrigerate then bake as needed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Super Bowl Menu for 2

While I can't say I'm excited about watching the actual game, I am excited about the food! Every year the Super Bowl makes me want to make certain things only because we always did when I was a kid. Mom ALWAYS made guacamole for the big game, even though I can't remember ever really WATCHING the game. It was all about the food.

So, in keeping with tradition, I am going to make guacamole. I've yet to settle on a recipe to go with and at this point I'm thinking I'll just wing it. You know, throw things together on my own based on what I've read in several recipes. I feel quite comfortable doing that especially with guacamole for several reasons: A. I'm Mexican. 2. I've made lots of guacamole before. and D. I've read lots of guacamole recipes. So there.

With that said, I hope it ends up looking like this and tasting fantastic. Here's the recipe for this guac.

In addition to guacamole, since dip does not a dinner make, I'm also making Chile Verde, something my cooking buddy Zach and I made for the first time together using this recipe. Only made perfect by eating it with homemade tortillas, something I learned to do from my Uelita. I will post the recipe, however, it's rather vague because she has it memorized and I just wrote as we went. BTW, I'm only making a half-recipe of the Chile Verde because it makes a TON!


Homemade Tortillas

2 heaping cups flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
2 T. oil (I usually use olive or canola)
1 1/2 c. lukewarm water (maybe a little more or less)

Combine dry ingredients. Add oil and combine (with your fingers if you're brave enough; that's what Uelita does, so that's what I do). Add in 1/2 c. of the water and combine. Add in another 1/2 c. of water and combine. Continue adding water until dough begins to come together and form a large ball. Let dough rest for 10 minutes, covered. Then shape dough into a log and tear dough into small pieces, turning, shaping and flattening each in your hand into a hockey-puck-like shape. One recipe should make about 8-10 dough ball things. Cover dough balls and allow to rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Roll out one dough ball very thin and flat. Place it in the heated skillet and flip immediately. Allow it to cook in the skillet until it starts to bubble slightly. Then remove it to a warm place (preferably a tortilla holder with a towel in it). Continue to roll out dough balls and cook until you've cooked 'em all. If tortillas start to blacken as they cook, lower heat on skillet.

Carianne helped me and Zach cook tortillas when we made fish taco. Pictured: Carianne, tortilla cooking in skillet, tortilla holder with towel. Mandatory for maintaining proper tortilla temp until serving! ;)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mine Strone and Onion Rings

First, this post is dedicated to Cryptozoologist Zachary Bass Caby who recently revealed to me that he thought minestrone was prounounced phonetically. I laughed loudly, called him an idiot, then corrected him.

This soup is currently in my crock pot, an appliance I use seldomly apart from a massive batch of cheese dip or some barbecued pulled pork. It's been on high for about 45 minutes and already smells fabulous. Here is the recipe from Robin Miller of Food Network, and my alterations are in italics.

Minestrone Soup
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth - I used 32 oz. organic chicken broth
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes - I added another 15 oz. since I added extra broth & like soupy soup :)
1 (15-oz) can white (cannellini or navy) beans, drained - and rinsed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 c. onion, chopped
1 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried sage - I didn't have these two alone, so I used some poultry seasoning that had both
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper
2 c. cooked ditalini pasta - I used whole wheat elbows
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2. c. coarsely chopped fresh or frozen spinach, defrosted
4 T. grated parmesan or Romano cheese
Basil sprigs, garnish, optional -  I opted out

In a slow cooker, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, sage, bay leaves and 1/2 t. each salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. 30 minutes before soup is done, add pasta, spinach and zucchini. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves, season to tase with salt and black pepper. Serve soup in bowls garnished with parmesan cheese and basil leaves.

And that's not the end of my cooking for today! I'm making homemade onion rings to have with burgers for dinner. That's right...HOMEMADE. Nothing frozen or from a fast-food joint. I'm using this recipe from Rachael Ray, and after reading some user comments, I'm going to set up a battering station that has 4 dishes instead of 2 to prevent ickiness. Hopefully, they turn out looking like this and tasting delicious.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I Proved Something to Myself

I may actually possess some cooking talent. Sans recipe, I threw together a surprisingly tasty concoction tonight for a dinner for one. The only way I could think to describe it was an accidental chimichurri risotto. But South American and Italian cuisines are NOT two that I would ever thing would go together, which is where the accident comes in.

Here's what I did, but there's no way anyone will be able to replicate it because I don't even know if I could replicate it. Anyway...

I had some long grain brown rice in the cabinet, an onion, some frozen tomato paste, fresh garlic, cilantro and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. So I sauteed the rice and onion in a pan until just toasted, then added in the amount of water called for on the bag of rice, plus some garlic powder, salt, and a blob of tomato paste. Yes, a blob.

I cooked it according to the directions, meanwhile chopping the cilantro and fresh garlic cloves together. When the timer went off, the rice was far from cooked. So I just threw in the mock-chimichurri ingredients (cilantro & garlic), stirred, and re-covered. Once it had soaked up most of the liquid (but not all; it was definitely not dry), I sprinkled some cheese over it and stirred, which created the risotto-like texture.

And it was a shockingly tasty meal! I squeezed some lemon juice on top of the rice in my bowl just to add a little extra something, then adjusted seasonings with S&P. Truly tasty...I just wish I knew what to call it. For now, Chimichurri Risotto (as unappetizing as that sounds) will have to do.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Food Think

I am willing to admit vulnerability to the Oprah Effect. Who isn't? However, I must say that I watched (or at least tried to watch) this movie before she blew it up this afternoon on her show.

I'm talking about Food, Inc. If you haven't seen it, I'm willing to wager a guess that you're not alone. The only reason we rented it was because Matt thought (not knowing exactly what it was about) that it might have been a good movie to show his health classes. So we rented the DVD, popped it in, and sat down to relax and watch.

Far from it.

I made him stop about the time they were showing the chicken houses. The scene with the chicken laying upside down on the ground, barely able to crow (or whatever you call what they do). Put me over the edge. I was crying over chickens.

So after that, I just tried to put it out of my mind. Frankly, it was far too disturbing to me to think of how inhumanely the food I eat and LOVE is treated before it lands on my plate. But now I'm thinking about it again. Thanks alot, Oprah. I'm not saying I'm going to go all organic or (God forbid) vegan. No offense to anyone who does either one of those things, of course. All I'm saying is this...Michael Pollan, the author behind Food, Inc. and Oprah (and anyone else who is a proponent of the clean, whole, organic food and eating thing) have a valid point. We should be more conscious of the things we put into our bodies. And the consequences we are paying as a result of diets that are far too high in sugar and unpronounceable chemicals and preservatives.

So that's it...I'm thinking. Thinking about food in a different way and contemplating small things I can do for myself and my husband on my own that move towards more conscious and kind (to our bodies and other animals) eating.

I'm thinking...right after I finish eating this rotisserie chicken I picked up at Wal-Mart.

But seriously, I'm thinking.

View the Food, Inc. trailer here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Interesting tidbit of the week and what's on tap for this weekend/next week

I came across this seemingly amazing recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup. I'm making it Sunday to have for lunches next week. AND... on the same blog I found a link to this other blog all about food in a different way. This is about turmeric, a spice I have in my cabinet but use very seldomly. After reading this post, I've put it in my morning egg whites AND my evening salad. I figure, what can it hurt? As far as the "cureall" powers it supposedly possesses...I'll keep ya posted.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Broccoli Chowder

Ok, so I made this tonight to take for lunches for both me and Matt. It is supposed to be healthy, hence the small amount of oil and low-fat cheese. But as far as cheesy soups go, I made up my own recipe that turns out way better than this. I'm sure it's because of the full-fat cheese and regular butter, but dang it I can't handle seeing the cheese shreds in my soup!

Nevertheless, it tastes pretty good and will do for lunchs this week. In the future, I would make more of a roux before adding in the broth. And I would probably use regular cheese. Oh well. Live. Learn. Make my own recipe next time.

Broccoli Chowder
(Recipe and picture courtesy Food Network website)


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 large carrot, diced (1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (1/2 cup)
1 large potato, peeled and diced (1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth (two 14-ounce cans)
8 ounces broccoli crowns (see Ingredient note), cut into 1-inch pieces, stems and florets separated (3 cups)
1 cup grated reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste


Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery; cook, stirring often, until the onion and celery soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add potato and garlic; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in flour, dry mustard and cayenne; cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

Add broth and broccoli stems; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in florets; simmer, covered, until the broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes more. Transfer 2 cups of the chowder to a bowl and mash; return to the pan.

Stir in Cheddar and sour cream; cook over medium heat, stirring, until the cheese is melted and the chowder is heated through. Season with salt.

Ingredient note: Most supermarkets sell broccoli crowns, which are the tops of the bunches, with the stalks cut off. Although crowns are more expensive than entire bunches, they are convenient and there is considerably less waste.

Spaghetti and Meatball Report

Y.U.M.  I literally could only write that and it would explain it all. This made me like spaghetti and meatballs. Now, will I make it once a week or even once a month? No, probably not. First of all, because it didn't make me like spaghetti and meatballs that much AND it did take quite awhile. But it was a perfect project for a day when I really had nothing else to do.

I'll start by explaining how I altered this recipe to fit either my personal tastes or the limitations of my kitchen.

In her recipe, Anne says to pass the tomatoes through a food mill to remove any seeds or stems. I have no food mill, so here's my solution. Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and mash them with a potato masher. I didn't worry about seeds, but if I saw stems, I pulled them out.

For the meatballs, Anne says to use 1/2 pound each of ground beef, pork and veal. I'm not so much into veal, so I just used 1 pound of beef and 1/2 pound of pork. And since I'm cheap, I bought shredded parmesean in the jar instead of buying a piece of parmigiano from the specialty cheese section at Dillons.

Onions and pancetta sauteeing in olive oil for the sauce- I had never cooked with pancetta before, so this was fun. It smelled fantastic.

This was the largest pot I had, and as you can see the sauce (pre-reduction) came almost to the top. It reduced down nicely, though. And I followed Anne's instructions about tasting and seasoning very carefully. In addition to salt, I added a couple of tablespoons of vinegar, a pinch of sugar, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Meanwhile, during the 3 hour simmering time for the sauce, look what happened?!?! Yep, sugar cookies.

Something I had never done before: sautee the onion and garlic BEFORE putting them into the meatballs. As an afterthought, I didn't finely dice the onion enough. There were some pretty big chunks.

So here are the meatballs, waiting patiently to be browned before being finished in the oven. Anne's instructions say to "brown on all sides." Now, I don't know about you, but do spheres have sides? This was tricky. My meatballs were NOT browned on all sides, but were browned to some extent. See further below.

And the final product. Ta da!! Matt did the happy food dance after he ate. I asked, but he wouldn't let me photograph it. I think it would have been a perfect evaluation to share with everyone on how successful this dish was.

And here's what happened to the cookies!!! Once a season I make sugar cookies for Matt's basketball team. This year, I made basketballs! So cute! Recipe for cookies will be below. I just used the HyVee brand white icing and added red & yellow food coloring. The black is just Betty Crocker decorating frosting. And, technically, these sugar cookies are not meant to be frosted, but I do it anyway. Yummy.

Sugar Cookies (recipe from a friend's mother-in-law)
Bear with me...this is not the most detailed recipe, so I will try to add in the extra steps I take that are not specifically in the recipe.

2 c. sugar
5 c. flour
1 c. sour cream
2 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
1 c. butter, melted
2 eggs, well beaten
2 T vanilla or lemon flavoring (I always use vanilla)
1/2 t. baking soda

Mix sugar, melted butter, eggs, sour cream, salt, flavoring, and baking soda until creamy. (I do this in steps: sugar & butter, then sour cream, then eggs and everything else). Add 5 c. flour and baking powder. (Again, I do this gradually since I'm gadget-challenged and mix by hand.) Roll out on floured surface until 1/4 in. thick. Cut out and sugar the tops. Bake at 375 F for 8 minutes.
(I skip the sugaring since I frost mine after they cool)

Seriously the BEST sugar cookie I have ever eaten.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Just starting out...

I deleted my old blog. Why? Mainly because I didn't ever post!!! It had been dedicated to my 101 in 1001 goal project. Needless to say, that has been shoved aside because I just didn't care anymore. So I'm now going to write about what I DO care about - COOKING. And food. And family. And friends.

The title - so it's NOT the most creative thing ever, but it's the darn truth. I'm a foodie wanna-be. What would make me a true foodie? Not sure. If there were a program or class or list of steps to take to reach foodie status,  I would do it. For now, I'm content with being a wanna be.

In short, I love cooking. Trying to make things that are challenging or just different from anything else I've ever made. Not to say that I ALWAYS make things I've never tried before. That would be ridiculous, and I'm far too busy for that. But I love a good challenge, hence my project for today.

Today's goal: spaghetti & meatballs from scratch. (not the pasta, though)

I'm not even a huge spagetti & meatballs fan, but my husband is, so he's ecstatic. I watched Anne Burell make this recipe on her show yesterday and was inspired. Here's the recipe, and I'll be back to report on the results.