Monday, October 4, 2010

End of Season Stuffed Peppers

There was a bonanza of peppers at the Farmer's Market this weekend!!

I used the turkey meatloaf/meatball recipe that my family has been requesting to stuff and bake these beautiful Italian and Banana Peppers.  Gutted them, stuffed them and pan fried them to soften. Then baked with sauce and cheese. What's not to like, right?

They totally tasted as good as they look.
Use Giada's Meatloaf recipe!
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

One Beautiful Pie

This pie is a compilation of all the frozen berries I had left over from the summer... I did buy a bag of rhubarb and 2 fresh apples to add to them.

There may not be anything lovelier than a pie.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cap'n Crunch Halloween Crispies

The package says they turn green in milk... We just wanted to see what would happen to it in hot marshmallow...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

NOT My Mother's Blondies

My husband loves hazelnuts. I have a historic love for Blondies.

These are the Blondies With Dark Roots from the Food Network Magazine and my Mother would have never made this recipe. Too many ingredients.

My mother made Butterscotch Squares on a regular basis when I was a kid. This new recipe was a hit, but...

Since I have Executive Power in my kitchen, I will be going back to Mom's recipe.
Forget the coconut, chocolate chips, cream cheese and hazelnuts.
Use more butter, brown sugar and pecans instead.

There were, however, no complaints.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Heartbreaking Failure

It had such great potential... 2 Cherokee Purples (they are the ones looking a little green in the picture - they are actually dead ripe they just grow that way!) and 2 German Johnson tomatoes fresh from the Farmers Market. I had been dreaming about the return of my favorite tomatoes for weeks.

The looked so big and beautiful when they were sliced. Juicy and warm tomato-ee smelling...

You could have used them as stunt doubles for real tomatoes! Just don't put them in your mouth.

It has been a long time since food disappointed me this badly. They sucked.

Total mealy mush in the mouth feel department. My close friends will immediately cry "texture issues!" but really these were bad. So bad.  So so bad.

I am currently debating if they are even worth cooking into a spaghetti sauce. sucks.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010


My favorite thing about summer.

Fresh ripe heirloom tomatoes. Still warm from the sun.
Sweet onion slices
Fresh mozzerella (the soft creamy kind)
Freshly torn basil leaves
A crushed and minced garlic clove
Maybe a little cracked black pepper if you are feeling spicy
Dress with olive oil and red wine or balsamic vinegar

I could eat these all day every day. I use them as a side dish, as a salad, as the basis for a spectacular mozzarella BBT sandwich (bacon, basil, tomato), and I have been known to toss them with leftover spaghetti for a snack.

Summer is the only time of year that I eat uncooked tomatoes and I intend to make the most of it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Marge's Brownies

I never remember how to make these and they are my husbands favorite. This is his mothers ultimate recipe for team dinners, cast parties, family reunions or just a plain old pot luck. We called her to make sure we got them right.

Marges Brownies

Make one box of chocolate brownies, spread batter in a rectangular baking pan 
and bake to the box directions.

THEN - not before, after.... that's the tricky part... while the brownies are still piping hot...

cover hot brownies with a layer of walnuts
cover the walnuts with marshmallows
cover the marshmallows with chocolate fudge frosting

Do all of this as quickly as you can because it has to go together while everything is hot 
...the marshmallows and the frosting get all melty together...

And then you have to hide them so they don't disappear before they get where they need to go.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vaca Frita

Cuban  Crispy Beef...

I have been obsessed with cooking Cuban food since we came back from Miami where my niece went out and got us the BEST Cuban takeout. So this is my version of Vaca Frita which I made using a London Broil steak.

Step 1: halve an onion and a bell pepper, cut steak into 4 pieces, cover with water, add a bay leaf and first boil then simmer for at least 45 minutes.

You want to cook it enough that it will shred.

Discard the veggies and save broth for some other use.

Let the meat cool and then use a fork to shred.

Marinate the cooked shredded beef for 2 hours in:
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 C. lime juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Cracked black pepper

Traditionally you fry the beef in batches, but I spread it out on a cookie sheet and put it under the broiler until sizzling and crispy.

I served it with my favorite yellow rice and black bean salad. Just layer rice, black beans, red onion and dress it with olive oil and red wine vinegar.  Guaranteed yummy.
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Importance of Being Functional

This picture is probably not as exciting to you as it is to me...

Now - after 13 months of a stove top that has burners that work only part of the time at best - I have a fully functioning stove top.

At the point where I only had one semi-reliable heating element we had to call in the repair guy who replaced the "guts".

Now I can boil water in about 35 seconds!

You cannot imagine how frustrating it was to put pasta on to boil and come back five minutes later to lukewarm water. There is enough swearing going on in my kitchen as it is.

Now if I can just find a replacement for the oven temperature knob so that it's not approximately 150 degrees off give or take. I will be set.
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Sunday, May 9, 2010


Wow. I knocked this one out of the park.
You totally cannot tell by this picture just how great this pasta sauce turned out. Spectacular.

I started by needing to make something rather quick for just the two of us and didn't want to go to the grocery store again... so I made a quick check of the pantry and freezer and decided on a jar of Arrabiata sauce (spicy red pepper and tomato sauce) and a pound of bacon.

I had a pound of Oscar Mayer Natural Smoked Uncured bacon in the freezer so I cubed it and fried it. I realize that it should have been hog jowls or pancetta or something equally gourmet but this is what I had ok?! Plus no nitrates or nitrites or sulfites or other ites and for someone with an allergy to all of the above this is a bonus. Believe me.

Chopped a half of a sweet onion I had in the fridge.

Sauted the onion in bacon grease (don't ya love it??) and then added the jar of Arrabiata AND

A half cup of the Chateau Ste. Michelle Reisling (the number one selling American Riesling btw that I bought a bottle of at Costco for the same price you pay for an entire glass in restaurants).

And effectively put back in the -ites that I dodged with the bacon... sigh.

I let it simmer while I cooked the rigatoni which requires another post entirely dedicated to how much my stove SUCKS... then mixed the cooked pasta into the sauce and voila!

It was smoky and bacon-y and the wine was perfect in it. That's it. We ate it all.
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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pork Souvlaki Craving

I crave Pork Souvlaki on a regular basis. You could offer it to me at any time day or night and I would jump at the chance to eat it. There is something about lemon and garlic... I would eat anything with lemon, garlic and olive oil poured over it.  Probably not peas. Everything else.

Our community has a surprisingly large Greek population. There's even a Greek Festival at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church next weekend! I will be there eating Loukoumades and Souvlaki until I need a nap. Any other day there are dozens of Greek restaurants to choose from. Except Sunday. On Sunday you are on your own. Here is my standard "It's Sunday and I need to have Souvlaki" recipe.

2 pound pork tenderloin marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and crushed garlic.
Grill pork for 35-45 minutes and let rest. Cut into Cubes.
(traditionally you cube it first, then marinate, then grill on kabob skewers)

Assemble into sandwiches with
pita bread
red onion slices
bell pepper slices
my version of tzatziki sauce:
plain Greek yogurt or sour cream mixed with shredded cucumber and a little garlic
(I am tempted to add more lemon and olive oil to the mix next time...)

We had it tonight with a chilled Riesling and it was delicious!!

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Confession: The Picadillo is from scratch. The pastry... not so much.
Superfast Picadillo
Brown 1 Lb. ground chuck
drain and add:
1/2 sweet onion chopped
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 Cup of sliced green olives
3 Tbl pickled jalapenos chopped
1 Tbl Sandra Lee Dry Rub*
1 kid sized box of raisins
Saute until tomato juice has reduced.
(this is enough filling for about 10 well filled Empanadas)

I am afraid of pastry.
So I used the large sized buttery biscuits that come in a tube.
Use 2 biscuits for each Empanada. Press them out flat. Top one with about 1/4 Cup of Picadillo and lay the second biscuit on top. Crimp the edges with a fork and bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
I would suggest making more than you think you need - these are delicious.

* Sandra's Sassy All-Purpose Rub (from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Grilling)
2 packets (1.25 oz. each) original chili seasoning, McCormick
3 tbsp granulated garlic, Spice Hunter
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp salt-free, all-purpose seasoning, McCormick
2 tbsp sugar

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container in cool, dry place or freezer.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010


You realize that the "syrup" that comes in the bottle shaped like the very nice lady is not syrup right?

It is high fructose corn syrup flavored with molasses.

Real syrup is more expensive but it tastes better and is a natural suger. That processed corn syrup stuff will kill you (or go straight to your butt).

We are a weekend breakfast extravaganza type family (he cooks I sleep in) and we always have syrup around in the supporting role.

Here are my 2 favorite ways to use syrup:

1. Heat it up and pour over pancakes, waffles, Monte Cristo Sandwiches... The key is to heat it up. Cold syrup is ok but hot syrup is scrumptious.

2. Make an oatmeal pie. It's like a soft creamy oatmeal cookie in a pie crust. I love this pie. I buy a big container of oats and then feel justified in making 2 or more pies in a weekend just to use them up...

Maple Syrup Oatmeal Pie
1/2 c. maple syrup
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c. oatmeal
3/4 c. coconut
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. very soft butter
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 9" unbaked pie shell
Ice cream, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine maple syrup, eggs, oatmeal, coconut, brown sugar, butter, raisins and walnuts; mix well. Pour into the pie shell and bake 40-45 minutes, or until the filling browns and a knife blade inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool before serving (with optional ice cream).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lobster Tails

Our Good Friday meal in Florida before we went home was steak and lobster. 
These lobster tails were HUGE and so good!!! 

Butter and smashed fresh garlic smeared across them and then grilled along with the steaks. 

I can't imagine how big these lobsters were when they were walking around...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ginormous Grouper Sandwich

The Cracked Egg Cafe - Big Pine Key - Spring Break in the Florida Keys

And a scrumptious BLT for good measure.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ode To A Potato Masher

This potato masher is probably the most used piece of kitchen equipment that I own. No joke. I use it most often for the function you see in the picture above; crumbling meat while it cooks. Specifically Italian sausage, the most used ingredient in my kitchen. I also use it to mix, kneed and stir a wide variety of things that I cook.  It is almost always out of the drawer and if I can see it I am using it.

My potato masher is without a doubt the most versatile utensil that resides in my kitchen.

Come to think of it... there are a number of things that I absolutely love in this picture.

My Calphalon pans given to me by my Grandma Trant when I stupidly got married the first time.
Sweet onions. Yum.
Paper plates; the invention that saves my sanity not the rainforest.
A cotton kitchen towel that says "I am not a paper towel" (it cancels out the paper plates).
My Kettle of Fish that was given to me by my Grandma Schantz when I was in college. It is the thing that makes every kitchen in every house I have ever lived in feel like her kitchen did; home.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Husbands Favorite Burger

Cheeseburgers in Paradise is a song, a restaurant, and an actual burger. The Elder Food Taster loves the dockside burger that can be found as the Special at one of Jimmy Buffett's restaurants; Cheeseburgers in Paradise.

Jimmy gave the recipe for his epic burger to Emeril and it is posted on the Foodnetwork website. In the spirit of my sister's sandwich post I decided to follow the recipe and recreate my husband's favorite Buffett burger; The Dockside Burger.

The basic Cheeseburger in Paradise hamburger recipe uses these ingredients: ground beef salt, black pepper, garlic salt, onion salt and celery salt.

I modified (of course) to eliminate the plain salt and the salt in the onion salt; I just used onion powder.

The resulting burger was delicious! Drink it with a Landshark Lager for the full Buffett experience. You definitely could cut down on the salt and next time I may eliminate it entirely. That would mean garlic, onion, black pepper, and celery seed. (We are hard core lovers of a good Chicago Dog and therefor keep the spice cabinet stacked with celery seed.)

The Dockside Burger is one of the daily specials at Cheeseburger in Paradise; Thursday I think.  Unfortunately we could not remember specifically what it was topped with. Fortunately the Myrtle Beach restaurant is open on Sunday nights and we called to ask what was on it. I bet we made their night. "Ummmm Hi. We are grilling burgers and we wanted to make one just like yours..."

Jimmy Buffet's Cheeseburger in Paradise Dockside Burger:
Velveeta Cheese, onions, hamburger dills and sweet relish. 

Mine was the burger of my childhood:
Velveeta (cut from the block), onion, ketchup and mustard
(with maybe one pickle if I felt adventurous)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Don't Know How I Screwed This One Up...

I promised failures! Well here's a good one; unfortunately rather typical for me.

You recognize this right?
Rice Krispies...
I decided to make Rice Krispie Treats because there was a sale on strawberry flavored marshmallows...

I have been waiting for the inspiration to make them but had not found quite the right time and the giant family sized box sat up on the shelf for 2 months at least.

Why I decided that Friday night was the perfect time to make these I do not know. One food taster in the hospital and the other in bed with a stomach bug and a very LARGE number of things on my mind...

 GIANT box plus TWO bags of marshmallows should equal a double batch.

EXCEPT... something distracted me. 6 Tablespoons of butter, 2 bags of strawberry marshmallows, and 6 cups of cereal. Wrong. For whatever reason I forgot the second 6 cups of cereal. It should have been 12 Cups.

The really dumb part was that after I had mixed it all up I actually added more cereal because it looked too marshmallowee. SO what I ended up with is:

Very Very Gooey, Very Strawberryee, Not So Crispy Rice Krispies.  

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kerry's Sandwiches

Kerry Guest Blogs – Sandwich Recipes

Sandwich recipes seem silly. Anyone can make a sandwich, right? It’s essentially bread filled with some form of protein, veggies, and something squishy like mayo or mustard. You certainly don’t need a recipe to make one, but it’s something you might seriously want to try. I get much better results when I use a recipe for a sandwich, which is funny as I often forgo recipes on more complicated fare.

This week, I made this recipe!

Chicken and Roquefort Sandwiches from Cooking Light. After his first bite, my husband exclaimed, “I would pay $7 for this sandwich!” I can’t say that he has ever put a monetary value on my cooking before. Maybe it’s the PhD in economics he’s working on, or maybe it was just that good. I have chosen to believe the latter, and I wholeheartedly agree. It was a sandwich worth ordering at a restaurant. Preferably, with a side of the sweet potato fries posted on this very blog. Sandwiches are cheap and quick to make, and a recipe will reaffirm just how delicious they can be. Don’t fool yourself with a thrown together sandwich of your own design. Go for the real deal - use a recipe.

(Thanks Kerry! You have inspired me; I am going to make Jimmy Buffett's Cheeseburger in paradise this weekend... )