December 29, 2010


Lately, I have been giving thought to going "flexitarian." To find out more about flexitarianism, I recommend this Newsweek article from September 28, 2008.

I don't want to be a vegetarian--I love eating meat. I eat from the full spectrum of what's available, from filet mignon to liverwurst. What I don't love is the way I feel when I consume too much and the ecological footprint I leave by, as an average American, eating an estimated 200 pounds of meat a year.

I'm going to try living 2011 as a flexitarian. For me, this means either a regular portion once a week or else tiny (1/4 sized) portions a few times a week. If there's a special occasion and I eat a few regular portions, then I'll eat totally vegetarian the following week. It's my flexitarianism, so I get to make the rules. By my rules, fish doesn't count, and I can eat salmon M/W/F and 4 oz. of chicken on Saturday and still be a flexitarian. It's not so much about the label, but about the reduced consumption.

Tell me: What are your food goals for 2011?

In lieu of a "no pigs" picture, I give you a pig with wings to symbolize freedom in choice:


December 27, 2010

What's been going on?

Christmas has come and gone, and lots of good food was eaten.  In the course of the usual holiday excitement we didn't take photos of all that was prepared.  Once Marie arrives safely back to NYC, the camera cord will be located and the pictures we do have will be uploaded.  Needless to say, her arrival time is somewhat tenuous,  and she'll need a few days to decompress from the trip.  Stay tuned!

Julie and Marie
Driven Cellars, Amador County
Sierra Nevada Foothills, CA

December 16, 2010

Comfort Food...

Whenever Jessica is gone I try to make something with ground beef (not her favorite food at all).  Sometimes It's sloppy joes, or in the summer it's hamburgers on the grill.  Yesterday I had mushrooms that had to be used, and what says mushrooms better than gravy?  Not much.

Yum...Salisbury steak with mushroom gravy.

 Combine 1 Lb of ground beef with 1/2 stack of crushed up Ritz crackers, 1 egg, ground black pepper, and 1 capful Worcestershire.  Add to the beef mixture 1/2 of a chopped onion sauteed with garlic (personal preference).  Shape into 4 oblong patties, and put them in the freezer if you'll be cooking them within a half hour, otherwise place them in the fridge.  Cook at 375 for 25 minutes.

For the gravy, saute sliced mushrooms.  Add one can of Cream of Mushroom soup, one package of French Onion soup mix, and 1/2 cup milk.  Bring to boil, then simmer for approx. 10 min.

We also had mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. 

I apologize if the photos are that great.  I couldn't find my camera so I used my iPhone.


December 12, 2010

Now that she's 18...

....does she still count as a 'kid' in the kitchen? 

Kids in the kitchen....again....

So, I let my kids experiment in the kitchen.  Jessica takes me up on this more than Andrew does, but they both enjoy cooking.  We call Jessica the 'Queen of Soup', it's her go-to food, especially in the winter.  Today's soup featured Udon noodles, chicken, and really the best broth she's ever done.

udon noodle soup

Melt 1Tbsp butter (or margarine) in saute pan, add chopped ginger and garlic (to personal taste).  Add cut raw chicken pieces, cook until browned, stirring often.  Meanwhile, heat two cans chicken broth and 1 1/3 cup water in saucepan, mixing in chicken flavor packet from udon package.  Add green onions, 1/2 tsp ginger, and 1/2 tsp hot chili sauce.  Once bubbling, add udon noodles and turn to low for approximately five minutes.  Add chicken when cooked and let flavors blend for a few minutes.  Enjoy!


I found the picture of her birthday cake.  It looks so good I wish we had some left!
Baskin Robbins Chocolate Decadence Cake

December 8, 2010

Birthday Dinner

Osaka Sushi is our very favorite sushi restaurant. Made even more so because it is literally right around the corner from our house.   A little on the "spendy" side, it's perfect for the occasional special dinner, and nothing is more special than Jessica's 18th birthday. Our family tradition lets the birthday person choose the restaurant (within reason; no Mickey D's or Mortons (at least not 'til the kids are gone), and many times we have ended up at Osaka. The tables are always packed and the food is always excellent!

This is my dinner. Sesame Chicken and Chicken Karage.  The dinner comes with miso soup, rice, pickled bean sprouts, and salad.

Jessica had the Danny roll. Panko fried scallops, crab, and avocado. 

Andrew had the Tony roll and Joe had the A-Town roll, which I do not have pictures of. Our meal was topped of with a Chocolate Decadence cake from Baskin Robbins.  Chocolate cake, with chocolate icing, all covered with a chocolate ganache and drizzled with caramel.  Yum.


December 4, 2010

Bacon Ravioli Bake

Everything is better with bacon!!

Bacon Ravioli Bake
One package frozen ravioli (can be any kind)
1/4 lb bacon
2 green onions
1/2 block low fat cream cheese
1 can chicken broth
1/2 cheddar cheese

Cut bacon into small pieces and cook on medium until crisp.  Take bacon pieces out of pan, leaving drippings.  Saute green onions approximately 1 minute.  Add cream cheese, and cook on medium heat until the cream cheese starts to melt, stirring frequently.  Slowly add chicken broth, whisking as it's poured in.  Cook mixture on medium-low until the cream cheese is thoroughly melted, stirring often. Meanwhile, arrange frozen ravioli in largest size corning ware (or other baking dish of approximate size).  When the cream cheese is all the way melted add bacon pieces, stir briefly, then pour over the ravioli. The sauce will be very thin.  Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top and bake in a 400 oven for 25 minutes.  Let set for at least 15 minutes when done, allowing time for the sauce to thicken.

Helpful Hints
The setting time after the ravioli is cooked is very important.  If after 15 minutes it still seems thin then let set additional time.  Although, the sauce in the pan is great for dipping garlic bread into.
Ravioli with chicken or italian sausage will probably work best.  I used cheese and the over-all dish was too cheesy (can't believe something ever has too much cheese, but it did).


November 30, 2010

Recipes to Try

In lieu of recipes I've tried, I give you recipes I have yet to try. Thank you to the people who've contributed them (you know who you are). I promise to try them as soon as I can!


November 27, 2010

Rainy day lunch

There is nothing better than soup on a rainy day, especially chicken tortilla soup.  Add jalapeno cheddar corn muffins and a refreshing cucumber salad, and it becomes a meal worthy of compliment.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled then shredded (save water for soup base if desired)
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 (14.5oz) cans chicken broth (or 1 can plus water from boiling the chicken breasts)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 Tb lemon jc
1 cup chunky salsa (any brand will work)

for garnish: corn tortilla chips, sour cream, grated monterey jack cheese

Once the chicken breasts are boiled and shredded, add to pot with chicken broth (and/or water used for boiling), corn, salsa, chili powder, lemon juice and salsa.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in saute pan.  Saute the onions until soft, then add garlic and cumin.  Mix and saute for another minute. Add to soup pot and simmer 10 minutes. 

Helpful Hints
Make your own tortilla strips by cutting corn tortillas into strips and baking in a 400 degree oven until crisp.  Store in a tupperware container for several weeks.
A dollop of sour cream goes a loooooong way.  It's okay to skip the cheese.
This recipe can be easily adapted for the crockpot.  Thaw chicken breasts over-night in the fridge.  Cut into large chunks and throw in the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients (except the sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips).  Cook on low all day. 

Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Muffins
One box of Jiffy corn muffin mix.
1/8 cup chopped jalapeno
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Make mix as directed on back of box (with the egg and milk).  Stir in jalapeno and cheese.  Bake as directed

Helpful Hints
Some people are purists and insist on using real corn meal and making the muffins from scratch (which I often do), however, it's much easier to use the box mix, especially in a time crunch.
Many recipes call for jalapenos, but it's way too hard to roast them and chop them.  Keep a jar of sliced jalapeno rings in the fridge for every day use.  So much easier.
Be sure to spray the muffin tin before adding the mix, otherwise they won't come out easily (I use the small muffin tins).

Cucumber Salad
Peel and slice cucumbers (however many desired)
1/4 sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp dill
1/4 tsp season salt
1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
1/8 cup white sugar

Put the cucumbers in a colander and salt.  Leave in sink for 30 minutes, allowing the natural water inside the cucumber to drain out.  Rinse.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl add the rest of the ingredients.  Gently stir the cucumber slices into the dressing mix.  Refrigerate.

Helpful Hints
The cucumber slices can be as thick or thin as you like them.  Although, if they are very thick they should be cut in half, otherwise they are too difficult to eat.  Also, they don't have to be peeled, or they can be peeled in stripes.  Whatever you like.
The seasonings can be adjusted for personal taste.
If you don't have time to salt and drain the cucumbers that's okay.  It really only helps the dressing adhere better, but this step can be skipped.


November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for my family, who loves me. I'm thankful for my friends, who inspire me. I'm thankful for S., who is so wonderful in so many ways. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I want to wish you all a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

November 23, 2010

Simple family suppers....

Family meals don't have to be elaborate. I've blogged before about how the actual act of sitting at the table is more important than the food itself.  But, of course we like what we eat to be tasty and visually appealing.  One of my favorite food network stars is Giada De Laurentiis.  She makes everything she cooks look easy (although we really know it's not).  I love Italian food, absolutely love it! So when I run across one of her recipes set on *easy* my brain starts whirring and the pots come out.  I think I went looking for one of her creations today because the December issue of Food Network Magazine (FNM) came in the mail, and of course she's featured. This simple family supper was paired with an old vine zin from Bogle (one of my favorites).  I meant to steam some broccoli, but I got caught up in last Sunday's episode of the Amazing Race and forgot.  Oh well, there are tomatoes in the recipe so that counts as the veggie :-)

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

  • 1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Helpful Hints
Buttering the bottom of the pan is not necessary.  Just use Pam or other spray oil.
I used small elbow macaroni instead of pastina (very similar).  Any small pasta works.
It's much easier to cook the chicken breast whole before cutting.


November 17, 2010

Checking out other blogs

I'm always interested in what other people are cooking and eating.  Analyzing dinners, trying to decipher what the food says about the person/family.  Raley's and Bel Air put out this nifty little magazine called "Something Extra".  Love it!  The new issue highlights recipes from FB friends and other food blogs.  Really a great way to see what's going on in the world of everyday eating.

If you follow a great blog, or know of an interesting website, let us know.  We love investigating and learning new stuff!!


btw-The countdown begins.  The two sisters will share one kitchen for 5 days in December.  Should be fun and exciting.  Stay tuned!

November 13, 2010

Relaxing just a bit!

I have these good intentions to add to this blog more regularly, in fact, I take pictures constantly, just don't know why the follow through isn't there.  My theory is that because I've been so busy the last two years I have just reached the stopping point.  From point A to Z in less then 60 seconds.  No yellow here, just red.

Not complaining though. I'm really enjoying being around Joe and the kids.  There is even more time to connect with friends.  The last two weeks we've had "happy hour" on Thursday before our family dinner times.  What a great group of ladies!  This was taken at Cathy's house.


November 9, 2010

16-Bean Soup

We're quickly coming upon the end of the year, so I'm in the process of cleaning out my cupboard, trying to use those things which have been sitting for months or even a year. Who doesn't like to start fresh January 1st?

I had in my cupboard a bag of 16 assorted beans. To it, I added 2 stalks of celery, the rest of a bag of baby carrots (equaling about 1 large carrot), 1 small onion, 1 pre-cooked ham steak diced into cubes, 3 cups of Swanson's chicken broth (a must-have!), and 3 cups of water. I put it in my crock pot on high for 4 hours on Sunday, and the resulting 16-bean soup was DELICOUS! The best part? There was enough that I will have lunches for the week.

Beans really are a super food. They're nutritious, delicious, and super filling.

Funny story: S. offered to clean up the dishes Sunday night. He asked, "What do I do with the soup?" to which I responded, "Oh, just put it in the fridge." I awakened the next morning to find the entire crock pot in the fridge--cord and all (not just the crockery part with the lid). It made me giggle. Hey, I'm not complaining. Find a man who offers to clean up the dishes, and you've found gold.


November 7, 2010

What is it about rainy days?

Cold, wet days make me want to bake.  The smell of cinnamon, and the yeasty scent of bread dough, co-mingle, giving my  home a pre-Christmas happy feel.  There is nothing like the ambiance created by baked goods.  I'm reminded of the driveway we had growing up.  One long road, banded by birch trees, their limbs bare of leaves and weighed down by snow accumulation.  It's a magical scene in my mind, although I don't recall my mom baking a lot.  I just like to think of that setting, mainly because it's the classic winter scene. In any case, I do like to bake on a winter's day.  It's cozy.

Monkey Bread

One loaf frozen bread dough, thawed. Allow to rise.
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 white sugar
2T cinnamon

Coat the inside of a bunt pan with shortening.  As the bread dough thaws let it rise.  Using scissors, cut the dough into 1 inch pieces.  Between each cut dip the scissors into hot water, making it easier to cut through the dough.  Roll the pieces in melted butter.  Combine the sugars and cinnamon.  Roll the buttery dough pieces in the sugar mixture and layer in bunt pan. Let rise an hour or two.  Bake in a 350 oven, checking after 30 minutes.  The inside doesn't bake as fast as the outside so an additional 10 minutes may be needed, unless you like doughy bread.

Helpful Hints
If using a two part bunt pan make sure you put a cookie sheet underneath, otherwise the butter/sugar mixture will run all over your oven, burning and sticking.

I've heard some recipes call for putting the sugar mixture in a plastic bag and coating the pieces that way.  I don't like to use resources like that.  It's far easier to clean a bowl than to create the plastic used for gallon bags.  Also, it's better for our environment when we don't use disposable plastic.


November 2, 2010


I think I could eat bruschetta every day for a year and not tire of it. Here's how I make it:

1 quart heirloom tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbs garlic, minced
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
Salt, to taste

Give it about 6 pulses it in the food processor, until the mixture has a lumpy consistency. Spread it on toasts prepared beforehand. I slice a baguette, coat the slices with olive oil, and then bake them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. 


November 1, 2010

Family dinner?

I love reading Julie's posts about creating family meals, and I thought yesterday's post was particularly relevant: It's not about the meal, it's about the family.

That said, what kind of a meal do you prepare if you're only cooking for one? What do you do when you leave work at 7:30 in order to make it home for How I Met Your Mother at 8:00?

A Hot Pocket and a glass of Dibon Cava:

And, yes, it was delicious.


October 31, 2010

No, we have not been starving!

A loyal follower sent me an email last week, asking if we were starving ourselves at the Stolzman household.  No, we have been eating, just nothing too interesting.  While I have taken pictures of our meals, nothing seemed to jump out at me as blog-worthy.  It has occurred to me, however, that most meals at in our house are ordinary.  The event of sitting at the table, set with place-mats and water goblets, is so run of the mill that I forget that's the main course, every night.  What we eat is secondary (although, with a food blog, the food should be more appealing) to the time we spend as a family.  That's how families stay connected.  My current boss, who is a school psychologist, often says research points to the most successful families eating together, and the one thing parents can do to ensure cohesiveness is to actually eat together.  Turn off the tv, the radio, and the cell phones.  The food doesn't have to be fancy; in fact, most winter evenings we have soup and sandwiches. At last week's National Honor Society Induction Ceremony, the faculty adviser asked us what we did to raise two great kids (such a gratifying question).  Our immediate answer: "family dinner, every night".  Of course the reality is that family dinner cannot happen every night, especially during the high school years.  But it did happen every night during the formative years. My advice is to make it count.  If sitting at the table with the family can only happen once a week then make that one night a priority.  Involve each member of the household in the food planning and preparation, and most especially in the clean up :-)  You'll be happy you did!!!

This yummy soup was prepared by Joe, while I sat reading a book (my very favorite way to cook).

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 chicken thighs and 1 chicken breast, cooked thoroughly in 4 cups chicken broth.
1 medium onion, chopped and sauteed
1 cup chunky salsa, any brand
1/2 tsp garlic (or to taste)
1/4 tsp cumin (or to taste)
1 cup corn (frozen or canned)
1 15 oz can black beans
1/2 tsp chili powder (to taste)
2 diced jalapenos (seeds removed) optional
corn tortilla chips

Bring the chicken, in the chicken broth, to a boil.  Then simmer until you can shred it with a fork.  Add the sauteed onion, spices, beans, corn, and jalapenos.  Simmer at least 1 hour, or longer.  For the tortilla strips, simply cut up corn tortillas and bake in a 400 oven until brown.  Use as garnish on the top of the soup.  Add a dollop of sour cream if desired. 

October 17, 2010

A Rainy Sunday Dinner

What's better than a rainy Sunday?  Not much.  A good book, cup of tea, a nap on the couch.  *sigh* 

Last night before bed, Joe put a chicken in the large crock pot, covered it with water, added salt, pepper, and chunks of "aromatic" vegetables, set it on high, and we awoke to chicken falling off the bone and homemade chicken stock.  A great way to plan ahead; now there is cooked chicken in the fridge, ready for several days worth of meals. The vegetables used to flavor the stock were carrots, celery, onion, and garlic.  Simply place large pieces in the crock pot with the chicken and discard in the morning.

I used the chicken for a Sunday pot pie dinner. Yum!  Store bought pie crust (top and bottom).  Sauteed carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. 3 or 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces.  Layer the ingredients into the bottom pie crust. For the gravy, make a roux with 3 Tbsp butter, melted in a sauce pot.  Add enough flour to make small pea sized pieces. Cook on medium until brown.  Add chicken stock (enough to make the amount of gravy desired).  Whisk until smooth.  Add salt, pepper, tarragon, marjoram, and one bay leaf.  If the gravy is too thin add potato flakes to thicken.  Pour over the pie crust.  Add the top crust, crimping edges thoroughly.  Cut two small slits into the top crust for steam to vent, and then brush the top with an egg and milk wash.  Cover the edges with tin foil to prevent browning, and cook at 350 for at least an hour.  If the top isn't too brown after one hour then leave in for another fifteen minutes.  Cook for 15 minutes on the stove top. 


Cherry Italian Ice

We've said goodbye to summer. No more hot, humid days. No more sundresses. No more dining al fresco. I spent this weekend cold. Waking up in the morning with a chill, pulling my jacket and scarf a little tighter in the afternoon, and putting on a sweater to putter around my apartment in the evening. Fall means squash soup, kielbasa and cabbage, and hearty Sunday meals. While I love these things, I give you one last remnant of summer (which I found on my phone today, having had good intentions to post it a couple of months ago when the photo was taken):
This was my first Italian ice--cherry! I always thought Italian ices were like the sno-cones you get at the state fair, but they're not even close. They're creamy and flavorful to the last bite.


October 11, 2010

Why am I making so many desserts??

Maybe desserts are comfort food for me?  Whatever the case, they sure are yummy. This particular recipe came out of the Sacramento Bee last week.  On Wednesdays, they have a food & wine section that highlights recipes and regional fare.  Once in a while they have a decent looking recipe. Everyone liked the cake, but Andrew is not a fan of walnuts so he only had a couple of bites.  I'll probably try it again without nuts, just for him :-).  

Butternut pineapple spice cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 cup canola oil
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups finely grated peeled butternut squash (not cooked)
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts

cream cheese frosting
one 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter and flour a 9x13 baking dish.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and allspice.
In a large mixing bowl, comine the oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.  Beat until well combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add the vanilla. Continue to beat until fluffy.  Gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing just until the batter is smooth and blended.  Fold in the squash, pineapple and walnuts.  Spread into prepared pan.  Bake for 35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of hte cake comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: in a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla.  Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  If the frosting is too thin, mix in the additional 1/2 cup powdered sugar. 

Helpful hints
To peel the squash, just cut a small portion off the bottom so it stands, and peel vertically down with a vegetable peeler. For ease of grating, cut into hand held chunks and use the small side of a cheese grater.  The whole squash won't be used.  Leftover squash can be cut into bit-sized chunks and used in a soup or stew.

It's easy to roast walnuts.  Place them on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for approx. 10 min.  Be careful, once they darken they are burned.

When baking it's best to leave eggs sit on the counter until room temperature before using.

My cake baked for approx. 45 minutes instead of 35.

The Sacramento Bee does this nifty thing where they print all the nutritional information after each recipe.  But after reading it, I decided it wasn't so nifty after all.  Just go run an extra mile and you'll be fine!!


October 7, 2010

Spanish Rice

Fajitas are a quick dinner, easy to make, and fairly healthy (depending, of course, on how much sour cream and cheese one slathers on).  Side dishes, however, can be problematic.  The sam-o gets boring after a while, so I went with something new tonight and made Spanish Rice.  I don't actually eat rice  but everyone else in my family does. Although I did taste this dish and it was pretty good.

Saute chopped green peppers, onions, and garlic until soft  (can add chopped jalapeno to taste).  Add 1 cup of rice and cook until browned.  Add 1 can of low sodium chicken broth (15 oz) and 1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies, including the juice, a pinch of chili powder and cumin.  Bring to low boil, turn down to simmer. Stirring every ten minutes for 30 minutes. 


October 5, 2010

Jumpin' the gun....

Autumn is my favorite time of year (although I recall saying that about spring).  It seems I'm the only one I know anxiously awaiting the time change, relishing the earlier nights.  A crisp coolness in the air, leaves on the ground, closure for the year.  *sigh*

Soups and stews reign supreme at the Stolzman household from November through March.  Any and all combination of ingredients.  Yum!  Even though it was a bit warm today, some leftover mashed potatoes were calling out to be the base of broccoli, cheese, and bacon soup.

Super easy to make.
However much leftover steamed broccoli you have combined with some leftover mashed potatoes and a few cans of chicken broth.  Cook some bacon crisp and add cheese.  Tonight it was Velveeta, but it can be cheddar or any other.  Heat until the cheese is melted.  It helps to have an immersion blender for the potatoes, otherwise they can take a while to blend with the broth.


And a very happy birthday to my lovely sister Marie!!!

September 28, 2010

Does everybody know what time it is? It's tea time!

I was reminiscing with S. over the weekend about T.V. shows we watched growing up, and Home Improvement (you know, with Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor) was high on my list of favorites. Tim Allen played a family man who had his own home improvement T.V. show called "Tool Time," and at the start of every program, Pamela Andersen (his assistant) would shout to the audience, "Does everybody know what time it is?" to which the audience would shout back, "It's Tool Time!" The French call this literary device mise en abyme, which means story within a story, but I'm just telling you this to sound cultured and smart, and hopefully to make you forget that I'm rambling on about Home Improvement. Anyway . . .

Something else I did this weekend was go to Housing Works in Brooklyn Heights. For those of you who don't know, Housing Works operates thrift stores around NYC and is, in their own words, "committed to ending the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness." Even if you didn't know that, you could feel good about shopping at Housing Works because they have great stuff!

My find of the day was a fine bone china tea service (for 4) from England. The Internet tells me that the maker, Royal Grafton, went out of business in 1972. The pattern, "Majestic," is in the style of the 1960's, but a person I exchanged emails with at informs me that the "Majestic" pattern in green was made until the early 1990's under the Royal Grafton name but by a different manufacturer. My set is blue, so I just don't know what to think. At any rate, I love it! S. has graciously offered to give it a home in his china hutch since space is at a premium in my studio apartment.

Now, does anyone have a good recipe for cucumer or watercress sandwiches?


September 25, 2010

It's pumpkin time!

Our family loves pumpkin.  This dessert, from the October issue of FNM, pg. 75, is called Pumpkin-Pie Parfait.  The recipe is below, but look for helpful hints at the end.

13 gingersnaps, chocolate wafers or graham crackers
1 Tb unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup plus 1 Tb confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
2 1/2 tsp bourbon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 cups cold heavy cream

1. Put 7 cookies in a resealable plastic bag and crush into crumbs.  Brush the bottoms and about 1 inch up teh sides of 6 parfait glasses with butter.  Add a spoonfull of crumbs to each and roll them around the insides of hte glasses; pour out the excess crumbs and reserve for topping.  Refrigerate the prepared glasses.

2. Put 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, the pumpkin, 1 1/2 tsp bourbon and the nutmeg in a food processor. Pulse until smooth, about 1 minute.

3. Put the white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 50% power until melted, about 1 minute, stirring halfway.  Add to the pumpkin mixture and process until combines.  Transfer to a large bowl.

4. Beat 1 1/2 cups cream in a bowl with a mixer until soft peaks form; fold into the pumpkin mixture until smooth.  Divide among the prepared glasses and refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Beat the remaining 1/2 cup cream with a mixer until foamy.  Add the remaining 1 Tb confectioners' sugar and 1 tsp bourbon and beat until the soft peaks form.  Top the parfaits with the whipped cream, reserved cookie crumbs and the remaining 6 cookies.

Helpful Hints

Steps 2 and 3 can probably be done without a food processor. Just stir well in a large bowl.
Cream should always be whipped in a cold bowl with cold beaters.  Freezing for 20 minutes before hand will result in a thicker whipped cream
I do not have bourbon, so it was left out altogether.  Although I did add a pinch of cinnamon to the cream for the top.


September 22, 2010

A Basic Family Dinner

I'm so glad Marie posted pictures of her camp dinner.  I love hot dogs cooked over a fire!  Basic camping meals are really the way to go, although basic can be good for an ordinary weeknight.

Coho Salmon, NOT farm raised, is $8 a pound at Costco.  It kills me to pay this, but Costco is the only local store that sells non-farm raised salmon.  Once the prices comes down a bit I'll stock up, but for now it's a once a week meal.  Sometimes I wish we had a deep freezer in the garage, but I know people who have one and stuff sits in there for years.  ugh!

The salmon was marinated for 20 minutes in Yoda sauce (what we affectionately call Yoshida sauce), the Au Gratin potatoes are from a box, and the broccoli is fresh.  Your basic 30 minute dinner.  btw-Andrew inhaled his first and second helpings.  Ah, true joy!  Watching a 15 year old boy scarf down food, the bottomless pits they are!!


Beans 'n Franks - Camp Food Edition

Need I say more?


September 16, 2010

Salmon Rosettes

I, like my sister, am from Alaska. It is my RIGHT -nay- my RESPONSIBILITY to love salmon. I eat it baked, grilled, smoked, and raw. Salmon in any form is pretty much my favorite food ever. My uncle P. smokes it until it's flavorful and delicious, my sister-in-law D. makes the best salmon patties I've ever tasted, and my friend B. slaps on a teriyaki glaze and grills it to perfection.

One fun thing you can do with lightly smoked salmon is make rosettes with caper leaves on toast!

Remember: It's very important to buy wild, non-farmed fish. It's good for your health, good for the environment, and good for the fishing industry.


September 14, 2010


I am not the world's greatest speller, so I usually look for tricks to help me remember.  Some people call it word association.  How I remember the two s's in dessert, rather than one s (which is desert, a hot and dry place), is I always want two desserts, so therefore two s's.  Simple, I know, and rather genius :-)

Black Forest Cake.  Okay, I cheated and used a box cake mix, but in my defense the whipped cream is from scratch (and not terribly hard to make with a Kitchen Aid stand mixer).  The cherries were from a can (I can't win them all!).  But it all came together nicely.  Paired with an Old Vine Zin, it was a wonderful dessert.  Although the best part was sharing it with friends!!


September 12, 2010


I went to the farmers' market at Cadman Plaza with S. yesterday afternoon and picked up fresh spinach, sweet corn, peaches, and apples. I love a farmers' market in September: the fresh produce and the crisp air.

I brought a bottle of prosecco, red potatoes, and some fresh rosemary from my apartment. We wanted roasted chicken, but having never actually roasted a chicken ourselves, played it safe by picking up a drumstick and breast already roasted by Gristedes.

Keeping it good in Brooklyn. Peace, people.


September 8, 2010

Epic fail....

You know a recipe is not a keeper when 3 out of the 4 people eating it actually get up from the table for something else to eat.  As the lone standout, I must say it wasn't terrible, but I won't be making it again.

This is supposed to be Swiss Steak.  Browned chuck steak, layered on top of chopped veggies (onions, carrots, celery), with a sauce of 2 T brown sugar, 1 T Worcestershire, 1/4 c. red wine, and 1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes with the juice.  Cooked on low in the crock pot all day.  No telling what happened, but the flavors didn't blend well at all. 


A mighty tasty snack

There's a snack I like to eat that may surprise you: Crackers, cheese, jam, and horseradish. Yes, you heard that right. It's something my dad concocted, and it's something I grew up eating. It works very well with saltines, cheddar, raspberry jam, and shredded horseradish, but I made it this weekend with fitz (fake Ritz), pepper jack, charentais melon jelly, and horseradish sauce.

It's the perfect combination of salty, sweet, tangy, and crunchy. I dare you to give it a try. You may just agree that it's a mighty tasty snack.

- Marie

September 4, 2010

Sandwiches Smamwiches

I LOVE sandwiches.  They can be considered the perfect food. Gourmet mustard, peperoncinis, butter lettuce, Tillamook cheese, fresh spinach, red onion, chipotle mayonnaise, and a variety of meats combine to make sumptuous flavors not to be forgotten. We are always on the look out for a new sandwich shop.  One of our favorite sandwiches, the Shasta Smokey, is made in the deli at Bel Air (local grocery).  And even though it is technically not on the menu any longer, the kind ladies behind the counter always fix us the yummy concoction with a smile.

The problem is, after a while the monotony of a sandwich becomes, well, monotonous.  Do I have to have a sandwich for lunch every day?  Sure, they're easy to pack, but day after day???  Without the option of eating elsewhere for lunch the best idea is sometimes the easiest idea.

So, searching for that something special to spice up my lunch, I have discovered flat outs.  A long, thin, oval shaped bread that can be used as a wrap.  With only 90 calories and 9 grams of fiber per bread, this is a good substitute for the tortilla which historically has been used for wraps. This soft, pliable bread is easy to roll and is made in several flavors.  I bought stone ground wheat, simply because I like wheat bread.  And because I'm watching my overall calorie consumption, a half wrap with fruit makes the perfect light lunch.


August 29, 2010

Sometimes it's not about what I cook....

Because I grew up in Alaska I can say I've tasted almost every kind of game, although it's been a long time since I've had freshly killed meat, so it was a real treat last night when we were invited over to a friend's house for duck.  Scott cut 1/2 inch slices of the breast and seasoned them with McCormicks Steak Seasoning.  On top of each breast he placed a chunk of white onion and green pepper, then rolled them into rounds and wrapped bacon around them.  He grilled them (coals, not gas) briefly and they were delicious.  Tricia made red potatoes, quartered, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper.  She bakes them long and slow in a stoneware casserole dish.  She also made steamed cauliflower with Bearnaise sauce.  I brought a salad made with head lettuce, romaine lettuce, and fresh spinach.  For toppings there were feta cheese, dried cranberries, and raspberry vinaigrette.  Garlic bread and a wonderful cabernet sauvignon rounded out the meal.  Lynda made a dessert with pound cake, pudding, and raspberries.  The best part, though, was spending the evening with fabulous friends: Tricia and Scott, Lynda and Pedro, and Henry (his lovely wife couldn't make it).
I just wish I had remembered my camera, but the craziness of the day's events made it slip my mind.  Hopefully these pictures taken with my iPhone show just how fantastic the meal really was.

 Ok, I guess there was more than one bottle of wine.  Probably closer to 5, which is why my head aches just a bit today!

August 28, 2010

"Maybe it's a Babybel"

Have you ever had Babybel cheese? It's a mini wheel of cheese with a red wax wrapper.

On Wednesday, a few few girlfriends came over for hors d'oeuvres and wine. Upon taking the baked brie out of the oven and discovering that it had bubbled, I exclaimed, "Oh no! The brie had a baby!"

My friend, V., without missing a beat, replied, "Maybe it's a Babybel."

Baked Brie a la L.S.M.:


Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Sheets
Sliced almonds
Hot pepper jelly


1. Defrost a puff pastry sheet to the the point that it's still chilled but pliable
2. Coat one side of the puff pastry sheet with hot pepper jelly and sliced almonds
3. Place the round of brie in the center of the puff pastry sheet and fold all sides around the brie, securing tightly
4. Place on cookie sheet, folded side down
5. Bake at 400 degres for 20 minutes

August 27, 2010

And She's On Her Way....

We had another wonderful, child created dinner last night.  I wish I could say it was complicated, but it was Costco Orange Chicken, rice from the rice-cooker, and canned peas.  Still, I didn't have to make it, and Jessica continues her culinary education, learning how to gauge finishing times during food preparation.  She also takes the food pictures (which I think are pretty darn good)!