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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