Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Terri Pasta

Do you ever have it happen that your family christens a meal with a name different that what you gave it?

So it is with "Terri pasta."
Terri was coworker about a decade ago and she gave us this fabulous, simple recipe. Perfect for hot summer days.

Garlic pasta with broccoli and ricotta salata
ricotta salata, into tiny chunks and grated
fresh garlic, sliced
olive oil and butter

1. Get a nice hunk of ricotta salata (in the Lehigh Valley, we have Calandras, where they make their own fabulous Italian cheeses. Ricotta salata is their homemade ricotto, aged and salted. It does not melt in the skillet and keeps for a long time.
2. Sauté the chunks of cheese and garlic in enough olive oil and garlic to lightly but completely lubricate the pasta.
3. Add the broccoli once the cheese and garlic starts to brown.
4. Cook until the broccoli is the way you like it. I like mine crisp. And bite sized pieces.
5. Add to your favorite pasta. Tri-color rotini is best because it captures the cheese and sauce in the grooves.
6. Sprinkle with grated ricotta salata.

Midday recount

For breakfast this morning... Oh, wait, I didn't have breakfast. Well, maybe I did if you count the graham crackers at 8:30. My daughter had watermelon at 7:30 and graham crackers and chocolate soy milk with me.

I'm concerned with her getting enough liquids in this hot weather, so I "made" her drink one of my bubbly cherry lemonades at 10. That's when I made myself the rest of the Dole salad from last night, though we ate all the good toppings so I just poured a bunch of grated asiago over it and then added the remaining ginger dressing. It was fabulous.

At 11, my husband and daughter had a real picnic on the college quad, with crackers and leftover lebanon bologna and port salute cheese, a banana and a 100% juice box. Then they played some quad golf.

When I got home from class at noon, I brewed some green tea to ice later. I then packed a glass bottle (20 ounces?) with ice cubes and water for the little one. AND I gave her the rest of the watermelon.

Now, I'm finally sitting down to eat some homemade bread and port salute cheese, with a glass of diluted lemonade.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our Six (plus?) Course Meal

I don't buy much meat, but I probably spend the meat portion of my budget on fancy cheese. It was very hot today (again) so, inspired by last night, I opted for a "fancy dinner" presented in my own special way (with a tad of French influence.) Each course was served on its own, with the next not even being prepared until after everyone finished. We got through everything in about ninety minutes (compared to our typical 15-20) and our daughter did well, both in what she ate and how she stayed at the table. And I skipped the entrée. The whole point was to avoid turning on the oven.

1. apéritif: for the adults: Vouvray with raspberry lime seltzer (my attempt to stretch one glass of wine into enough for two and make it a tad more refreshing on a nasty hot day). For the daughter, I substituted white grape juice for wine.

2. fruit: watermelon, cubed and served in bowls

3. meat: (my American nature will show through on this one) turkey breast and lebanon bologna rolled and held together with a piece of uncooked spaghetti (I didn't have toothpicks.) I purchased $3 worth of meat at the deli counter and still have enough lebanon bologna leftover for lunch tomorrow.

4. salad: Dole Asian Island Crunch. Yeah, a bagged salad. On sale for $3.50, normally $4. Iceburg lettuce, carrots, snow peas, dried (and sugared) pineapple, crunchy Asian noodles, sliced almonds and ginger dressing. Served the three of us and still enough for a small salad or a wrap tomorrow.

5. cheese: the last homemade baguette from the freezer with nearly a half-pound block of Port Salute cheese (imported French, $8). Luckily, we loved it and we hardly put a dent in it so I will be enjoying it for several more meals. My daughter had at least three if not four slices of bread and cheese.

6. dessert: black raspberry ice cream with yesterday's fruit salad on top.

7. coffee: decaf with flavored non-dairy creamer

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mme.'s French Dinner

I had a special opportunity for dinner tonight. I ate at the home of one of my former French professors. She has an annual tradition of cooking for some of her students. A French meal, or at least a simple one with as many French touches as Americans can put together.
She invited me this year, because I came back to Moravian last semester and we've kept in touch. I made her a CD of some of my favorite French songs, brought her some black cherry French jam, and she asked me to bring a first course... noting that she would have meat, vegetables, bread, cheese, salad and dessert.
That, of course, leaves fruit or pâté. The earlier entries detail my adventure making my $40 fruit salad. Which was a hit. Mme. even asked me for the recipe.
I came to dinner early so I could help, and Mme. also had the help of her stepdaughter and her friend. Of course, as a mom and a frequent host myself, I tried to anticipate Mme.'s needs. When she prepared the next course, I cleared the table. I did dishes as needed (it's amazing how quickly you can run out of forks).
But Mme. did a fabulous job. I love big multi-course dinners. With the modest portion sizes, you eat slower and since you usually have to sit and talk while the next course is prepared... it keeps you from overeating. And it's such an experience, especially when you have a great group around the table. We had nine tonight.

The courses:
1. Fruit- My honeyed Vouvray fruit salad
2. Main Course- Pan Seared Steaks and potato/green beans au gratin
3. Salad- Green salad with vinaigrette dressing
4. Cheese and Bread- Brie, goat cheese, and some other yummy cheese with baguette
5. Dessert- Chocolate mousse cone and fruit tart from wegmans
6. Coffee- expresso

Chicken Nuggets with Broccoli

I made a special lunch today since I plan on running away to a special French dinner tonight, so hubby and daughter will have nachos for dinner (a great option when it's 90 degrees).

So, we had some leftover chicken tenders (four) so I cut them into thirds and cooked them in some canola oil, butter and sprinkled on some of my organic rainbow peppercorns. I added two thin slices of garlic. While they cooked, I took some of my homemade breadcrumbs, added the rainbow pepper, garlic powder and my pizza and pasta seasoning. Then I rolled the hot chicken in it. I fried the chicken again. (Yeah, this isn't low-fat.)

Then I sauteed some broccoli in a little oil with about a teaspoon of butter and sprinkled garlic powder on it (I was too tired and hungry to slice fresh). Then, I served with a side of ranch dressing (my ranch was spiked with Frank's Red Hot Sauce) and a dollop of lavender honey in another side. That was fabulous on the chicken.

But I also served some leftover peanut butter and graham crackers leftover from my lunch Friday (which also tasted incredible with the honey.)

And for dessert... a watermelon.

Fruit salad with honey-wine dressing

Today I get to make my fruit salad with honey-Vouvray sauce. I probably spent $35 on this fruit salad, so it is not cheap. $5 worth of strawberrys, $5 worth of raspberries, $2 worth of pears, $2 worth of lemons, $1.69 can of peaches packed in juice, $12 bottle of Vouvray, and $8 bottle of honey.

Okay, so the Vouvray is leftover from an earlier day, and technically the recipe calls for dry white wine. But I like Vouvray.

And the honey was a total splurge, but I had to try it, just once... and this French dinner tonight is a special occasion (which I will be fed a multi-course meal for free).

And hopefully, there will be some fruit leftover for the family...

The recipe comes from the internet. I've never tried it. I think it's from one of the "about" sites. I discovered it last year when I went looking for something for one character to make in one of my novels... And this sounded perfect. And the lavender honey is my addition, since the character at hand is a chef, and he's working in a well-stocked kitchen of someone who loves food.

Fruit with honey-wine sauce
The web site recommends this for all your "Bastille Day picnics." Yeah. Alright, well, the exact quote is: "Accompany this luscious fruit salad with a baguette, assorted cheese, and a spicy-sweet sparkling dessert wine for a lovely Bastille Day picnic." Ironically, I tracked the original recipe to double-check the fractions and it added a kiwi. A kiwi isn't very French now, n'est-ce pas?

1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons plus two teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 pint strawberries, hulled
2 pears, cored
2 peaches, pitted
3/4 cup sweet cherries, pitted
1 kiwi (optional)

1. Process the first five ingredients in a blender until smooth. Chill for twenty minutes.
2.Cut fruit and toss with desired amount of dressing.

Now, I bought canned peaches because it is not the right time of year for peaches. For the same reason, I substituted raspberries for cherries. And I am not putting kiwi in a French fruit salad. I already mentioned that I have Vouvray and lavender honey... One review of this recipe suggested that the combination of honey and sugar made it way too sweet, and in light of the fact that I'm also using a sweet wine I will cut back on the honey. Maybe start with two tablespoons plus a teaspoon. But if I add sugar, I'm going to use organic sugar because it seems to have a better flavor. Okay, and my last comment is, am I the only person terrified to attempt "lemon zest?" I always skip it. I don't have a zester, though I do have a mini-grater... Maybe today I'll attempt it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bad, bad girl

I spent $60 at Wegmans today. We ran in with a budget of $47 to get fruit, greens, coffee, creamer, deodorant and soap. We did fine, until I started shopping for the French dinner I was invited to tomorrow. One of my former professors is hosting a dinner for all of her current French majors and she asked me to attend and to bring the first course, or premier plat.

But this will not be an American meal, so it's not as simple as it sounds. The professor already has salad, cheese and dessert. And I think she's buying bread, which is sad, since I have homemade bread...

So, I opted for fruit salad with honey-white wine sauce. This required about $20 worth of fresh fruit. And it was hysterical the way I stood among the pears debating which variety to pick. I decided on d'anjou. Sounded the most French. And strawberries. And raspberries (since it's not the time of year for cherries).
But then I bought a $4 jar of French cherry preserves to go with bread at dinner and to serve as a hostess gift... and then... and this is what was really naughty: I bought an $8 jar of American lavendar honey. When I got home and tasted it, it was worth every penny, especially since the honey and the white wine (in my case the Vouvray) are the main ingredients for the fruit salad dressing.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Chicken Wraps

My husband made a quick dinner tonight, frying some boneless, skinless chicken and making chicken wraps. He added a little shredded cheddar and some salad with grated carrots and a little organic ranch dressing. For me, we also added lots of Frank's red hot sauce.

Garlic Bread Pizzas (aka Veggie Melts?)

For dinner last night we had another round of my famous "French bread pizzas" which are more like veggy melts. My husband and I sliced one of my homemade baguettes in half. We melted a couple tablespoons of butter and mixed in a generous amount of garlic powder and grated parmesan. Next we sprinkled on leftover cooked carrots and raw broccoli. We seasoned those with my pizza and pasta seasoning and garlic pepper. Then we sprinkled with asiago and shredded cheddar. We cooked under the broiler until the cheese melted and the edges of the bread turned brown.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Super Cherry Lemonade with bubbles

Any mom will probably agree that keeping your child well-hydrated can be impossible. I drink a lot of water. On my good days, I used to drink 90 ounces a day. So I always poured my daughter a drink when I got one. Nowadays, it seems like they get left all over the house more than they get drunk.

And if you give them too much milk or juice, then you worry about filling up little bellies with the "wrong" calories.

Plus, now my daughter's at the age where relatives have given her a root beer here or a cream soda there and she's starting to think bubbles are cool.

Here's my solution:
Super Cherry Lemonade with Bubbles
1/3 glass your favorite lemonade
2/3 glass seltzer
1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice
1 maraschino cherry

And you tell child he/she can't eat the cherry until she finishes the drink. This also works with diluting any juice with "bubbles." Experimenting with different seltzer flavors can create some crazy combos. My daughter loves picking the "bubbles" because the seltzer bottles usually have big cherries or limes on them to show the flavor.

Thwarted Again

I went to great lengths to make that lasagne the other day, and when I got home last night, my mother-in-law had decided to make dinner. No one asked if we had plans. She just did it.

These are the days my mother-in-law makes me crazy. And I used the F-word a lot when I got home at seven. (To my husband, not my mother-in-law.) I recognized that she was trying to be nice, but she made frozen processed stuff that could have waited. I had lasagne with about $10 worth of fresh homemade cheese that does not keep.

She made Barber Foods frozen broccoli stuffed with broccoli and cheese, carrots drowned in butter and pre-seasoned rice. Well, my family has now had their salt for the week.

What I don't understand is why she did it. When I need her help, she's never available. She worked yesterday... so I can just imagine it. She rushed home from work around three. My father-in-law drove to my house (the longest way possible to avoid the 'traffic,' making a 15 or 20-minute drive into 35). Then she dashed around my kitchen like a lunatic preparing processed foods. Now, I told her last week I had to work late. Doesn't she realize we do plan for these nights?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spinach Lasagne

I did not put forth my best effort on this one. My daughter requested lasagne, and it's not one of my favorites to make, but since her father is preparing dinner tomorrow I thought it would be a nice treat for them. A hot meal when Mommy's not here.

This is a small lasagne in I believe a 14 by 9 Pyrex dish, only about two inches deep.

For the cheese filling:
about a pound and a half fresh ricotta
one can spinach
garlic powder
pizza and pasta seasoning

I mixed everything together (including the liquid from the spinach) with about a tablespoon garlic powder, two tablespoons basil, two tablespoons pizza and pasta seasoning.

For sauce, I use one can (the little 8 ounce cans) of generic no salt added tomato sauce. That's why I put so many seasonings in the cheese mix. Commercial tomato sauces have a ton of salt and sugar. And they're expensive. I've tried making my own. So far, it's not worth the effort.

Some mozzarella would me nice. And of course the no boil lasagne noodles.

I poured at least half a can of sauce on the bottom of the dish, layered in a single layer of noodles and put in the other half a can of sauce. Then I plopped in half the ricotta spinach mixture, which filled about half the dish. Oops. More sauce. More noodles. A layer of mozzarella. The rest of the cheese. More sauce. More noodles. A second layer of noodles. More mozzarella, more sauce. Done.

Update: It's not my best work, somewhat bland, but edible. Easy to doctor on the table if needed. I had a small serving for dinner. My husband packed some for lunch and I had cold lasagne for breakfast. With the remaining portion, I sliced two pieces for future lunches and packed those in aluminum foil to freeze.

I like my lasagne crispy, so I took a piece the size of a loaf pan, wrapped it in foil with the seam on top, and placed it inside a pyrex loaf pan. This particular pan has a lid that I had planned to put on before I froze, but now I can't find it. My thought was to freeze in the dish, thaw in fridge, remove the lid, crack the foil and toss back in oven for another meal.

Cheese platter

Normally, I would never advocate two cheese-oriented meals in one day, but today I went to Calandra's Italian cheeses in Nazareth... And everyone knows Calandra's mozzarella must be eaten while still wet to enjoy the full flavor.

I spent $13.57 at Calandra's on some ricotta salata, some fresh ricotta (lasagne to prep today so my husband can cook it when I work late tomorrow) and the last hunk of fresh mozzarella of the day.

Then I went to Giant and got strawberries, bananas, and watermelon. I also grabbed some no-boil lasagne noodles and some no-salt added tomato sauce. Half a gallon of Turkey Hill lemonade because I've needed a lemonade fix and a 32 ounce container of vanilla yogurt. $13 and some change.

Then I went to the liquor store. Two bottles of Vouvray and one bottle of Bordeaux. $36. Ouch.

So for dinner, my husband arranged a platter of apples, strawberries, watermelon and banana with cheddar and the mozzarella. Plus Aldi brand triscuits. JIF Natural Peanut Butter (so smooth and yummy). And Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Mustard for me. The mustard was for the cheddar. The peanut butter was for any of the fruits but the watermelon.

My husband asked what a French person would think of this dinner. I replied that a French person would consider it a cheese course and be wondering what I did with the rest of the dinner. Now, to get him to uncork the Vouvray.

Odds and Ends, including French bread broccoli melts

Breakfast #1: 7 a.m.
Daughters eats most of a can of Dole Tropical Fruit (3.5 servings in the entire can) and one whole sheet of graham crackers.

Mommy's breakfast, 8:45 a.m.
One sheet graham crackers with peanut butter

Breakfast #2: 9 a.m.
Daughter eats one significant bowl of the homemade ham-spinach-white bean soup

Lunch with Daddy: 11:30 a.m.
Homemade bread with broccoli, ranch dressing and melted New York sharp cheddar and chocolate milk

Mommy's Lunch: 12:30 p.m.
Homemade French bread with cheddar

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday enigma

It's 3:30 p.m. I just got home. I worked five hours, then went to class. As soon as I got home, I started a batch of French bread. It's pivotal for my plans tomorrow. Okay, so I'm dying for a sandwich.

I'm thinking for dinner tomorrow I'll make some sort of chicken-broccoli-cheese stuffed bread, maybe with smoked gouda if I can find some money for the cheese. But then, I'm also going to be in Nazareth tomorrow, which means close proximity to Collondras. The best cheese ever.

But right now, I want to mention something about my psyche. Some people buy clothes. Some people go to the movies. Some people play expensive video games. I buy food. If I have a spare dollar in my wallet, I'm using it for some exotic grocery or taking the family for ice cream. Or getting salads from Wegmans. Or take-out.

But today, I started homemade bread. And probably for dinner we'll have some sort of salad wrap. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be ambitious enough to start sweet rolls for breakfast.

I didn't start the rolls. We had the frozen spinach-ham-white bean soup for dinner. Photo of raw bread above. Recipe under "bread" or "French."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Asian tonight

I opened my freezer in shock to find it was mostly empty. No homemade bread, no baked goods, no frozen meals left for me to heat in an instant.

So tonight, I took the last of the frozen chicken egg rolls from the warehouse store and I mixed up some oriental style sauce: about a teaspoon garlic powder, a teaspoon honey, three tablespoons sesame oil, one teaspoon sugar, about three tablespoons water, a 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and a half teaspoon oriental five spice.

I poured the sauce into a skillet with lots of frozen mixed vegetables (the kind normally for soup) and added a couple tablespoons of sesame seeds. I cooked the mix on high for about five minutes to thaw the veggies, then I turned the heat down and let it simmer.

Meanwhile, I started some instant brown rice with some butter. I also thawed the egg rolls in the microwave. When they finished, I tossed the egg rolls in the skillet with the veggies.

Finally, I started the tea pot and made some green tea with honey.

I made iced tea with the green tea. I piled rice into bowls, topped it with vegetables, and added the egg rolls to each bowl. Normally, when I make random stirfries without a formal recipe, they come out bland and I have a boatload leftover which nobody wants to eat. Today, it was incredible. And everybody wanted more. But there wasn't any.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spaghetti and broccoli cheese omelets (not together)

It's the weekend. Last night I had the worst craving for pasta with red sauce, even though we had mac and cheese the night before. My husband humored me and made pasta with red sauce with some bits of hamburger and lots of asiago and parmesan.

For breakfast my daughter had a little Kellogg's Smart Start (an Aldi purchase a couple months ago) with lots of raisins, and at her request, lots of golden raisins too.

For lunch, my husband made broccoli cheese omelettes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tuna Noodle Update

I think I'm having some sort of tuna noodle casserole for dinner. The family had quesadilla with mango salsa and blueberry muffins for lunch. (I had peanut butter and graham crackers.) My blood sugar is not stable so dinner will be a challenge to get on the table, but I feel the family needs a good hot meal.

I'm starting with 16 ounces of wagon wheel noodles and my Betty Crocker Mac N Cheese recipe. With that as a guide, I add about 2 tablespoons butter to the bottom of my pan. With heat on medium high, I added some hand-cut chunks of about 1/2 a clove of garlic. Next I'm going to add some pizza/pasta seasoning from my grinder... which has coarse sea salt, onion, garlic, red bell pepper, basil, parsley and orgeno. While I typed that my butter and garlic got too hot so I removed it from heat and added some half and half to settle it down. Now to add the spices.

This cheese sauce normally calls for two tablespoons flour, but my flour is above my head so I'm using a couple teaspoons of cornstarch instead.

Next 1 and 2/3 cups milk and 1/3 cup half and half mixed into the pot, stirring carefully and heating slowly. Then add 8 ounces of your favorite cheese. I used about five ounces of monterey jack and about three of new york sharp cheddar.

I threw my wagon wheels in a big baking dish. Added a pile of peas, the cheese sauce, and liberal grated parmesan. Stir very well...

Then I added a can of tun, stirred more. Added some garlic pepper, some shredded asiago and one single serving bag of Lay's potato chips smooshed into crumbs.

I plan on baking it for about twenty minutes at 420.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teeny Tiny Shopping Trip

We stopped at the Giant to get baguettes since I didn't have time to bake. I thought I did a good job shopping since for $15 I came home with the following: 3 8-0unce blocks of cheese, 2 16-ounce jars of Parisian Almond Cream non-dairy creamer, two baguettes (one multi-grain), a dozen eggs and two ready-to-go Pillsbury pie crusts...

Plotting the day

It has started out as a good food day. We had French toast from the freezer for breakfast. My husband packed peanut butter and jelly on Ritz-style crackers for lunch, with a side of chopped broccoli and carrots and probably some chips. I haven't given much thought to dinner, so we'll have to see what I whip up after my oral presentation in history and my meeting with my politics professor.

I started hot spinach dip for dinner, which is the last pack of frozen spinach I bought several months ago when Giant had spinach on sale 5/$4. If I'm ambitious, I'll add some carrots to it, but chances are it will be fairly basic.

I also got attacked by the last container of frozen five alarm chili. The container tumbled from the freezer and cracked, so now I'm eating the chili. I swore we eaten all of that batch of chili already.

Now the four-year-old and I are enjoying Wasabi bar mix from Forks mediterranean deli, which despite the fact that it's spicy, my daughter is eating heartily (and drinking lots of water).
Finally, this allows the perfect avenue to mention that despite my attention to what my family eats, I horribly abuse myself. Thus far today I have had two cups of coffee with non-dairy creamer, one Nature Valley almond granola bar and two glasses of water. And it's 2 p.m. Off to eat that chili.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Dinner Leftovers

Holidays at the in-laws are usually hit or miss. Usually it's a hit, but sometimes it's a big old miss. This year was a hit. For the traditional favorites we had ham and dandelion and hot bacon dressing. We also had my mother-in-law's corn bake, which is a recipe she got in high school I believe and it's a cross between corn bread and corn pudding. But I filled up on the "fried" chicken and the broccoli slaw. The broccoli slaw is very similar to the bok choy salad recipe with ramen noodles that Terri gave us when we all worked in the public information office at Lafayette College. My mother-in-law uses boneless, skinless chicken and cooks it before she breads and fries it. It's very yummy.And Lee's beans in a big, old crockpot. I don't eat those. It's a very meaty variation of baked beans.

But of course, Easter wouldn't be easter with Esther's homemade chocolate. She makes strawberry creams, coconut creams, peanut butter eggs, white chocolate/krispie "deviled eggs," chocolate covered marshmellows, and this year, funky bird's nests and a lamb cake. And there was Memmy's fabulous pumpkin custard and a lemon pie.

I'll have to post some recipes. I have the one for corn bake.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Contributed Recipe: Cauliflower

One of the members of my writers group sent me this today. Thanks, Janet!

VEGGIES – Balsamic and Parmesan Grilled Cauliflower

1 lg head cauliflower, florets cut into 1” thick slices

1 T olive oil

1 t dried marjoram (optional)

¼ t salt

Black pepper to taste

2 T balsamic vinegar

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

450 degrees. In large plastic bag, toss cauliflower with oil, marjoram, salt and pepper. Pour into a large rimmed baking sheet lined with non stick foil. Bake 15-20 minutes or until cauliflower starts to soften and brown.

Remove from oven and toss cauliflower with vinegar and cheese. Return to oven 5 – 10 minutes or until cheese melts and moisture evaporates. 6 servings. Per serving: 88 calories.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pizza Night

We ordered the Xtra Large Xtreme Cheese pizza from Papa John's tonight. $11.99 plus tax and delivery. We're heating up some frozen jalapeno poppers. I prepared a "pizza bar" to go with the take out: parmesan cheese, Frank's red hot buffalo sauce, garlic powder, garlic pepper, crushed red pepper, blue cheese dressing and Papa John's garlic sauce. A hit!

Chicken and Rice

Today for lunch, I am recycling last night's chicken. I am taking the French-style chicken and the remaining cream sauce (the recipe made way too much sauce for the chicken) and adding it to brown rice and peas. The sauce should give the rice and peas perfect flavor. My preschooler ate two big bowls.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pepper Ranch Chicken with French Butter Cream sauce (kind of)

I started this meal with some frozen corn, prepared with no butter or sauce. I also used canned whole potatoes which I cooked in olive oil, low sodium soy sauce (about 50/50 each) and seasonings... in this case I used It's a Dilly. Normally I would use straight dill. You can also use parsley.

The chicken is a variation of Rosemary Pepper Chicken, a French recipe. This is the rosemary chicken recipe as I found it on the Internet about a year ago:

3 tablespoons cracked pink peppercorns
3 tablespoons cracked green peppercorns
2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter, divided
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1. Mix together peppercorns and spread over both sides of the chicken breasts. Pound with a tenderizing mallet until they are half as thick as before.
2. Melt half the butter over medium high heat. Fry chicken breasts about five minutes per side. Remove chicken to serving dish and keep warm.
3. Stir in the remaining butter, cream, rosemary and garlic into the skillet mixing it into the juices from the chicken. Simmer for five minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over chicken and serve.

My variations:
I always used four color peppercorns in a grinder. I also never seem to have the rosemary so I substitute whatever seasoning I have on hand. Tonight I used organic ranch dip mix. And I don't use chicken breasts, I use tenders. Oh, and I used half and half not cream. But I did use real butter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spaghetti and spinach nuggets

I expected to work late tonight so yesterday at the store I got spinach nuggets for dinner. I also have had a craving for spaghetti for weeks. Spaghetti with grated asiago from Aldi. So we had both for dinner. I LOVE spinach nuggets. The preschooler likes them too. Better than chicken nuggets by far, IMHO. I buy the Veggie Patch Spinach nuggets in the produce or natural food aisle (depending on the store). They're not cheap, but they're wholesome and I often use them as an entree. (About $4 per package)

Now, for the nutritional info...

In four nuggets:
80 percent of your RDA vitamin A
20 percent of vitamin C
20 percent of calcium
8 percent iron
plus 6 grams protein

A favorite unorthodox breakfast

This morning we had one of our favorite unorthodox breakfasts... Half a deli bagel, toasted, with melted cheddar cheese. Served with a side of chunk pineapple.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Went to Giant

Spent $100. Thought I did a terrible job... no list, lost count about half way through the store. But when I got home, I realized I bought about $12 in feminine supplies, another $10 on ready made Amy's organic pot pies for dinner tonight, and as I unpacked everything I noted several "splurges" that I think will serve us well. I like to mix things like Imagine Organic Lemongrass Corn soup with chicken, potatoes and corn for a pot pie. But I forgot the ready made pie crusts. And for the effort it takes to make crust, I don't usually do that from scratch. I got two batches of chicken. I have an overstock of juice... And I got my daughter Almond milk for something different. Plus, I fully recommend JIF natural peanut butter. It's delicious and fairly cheap.


I wanted something different so I tried my darneddest to make something as yummy as Oregon Chai. I think I did it. I put two Celestial Seasoning Honey Vanilla White Tea Chai tea bags in a big old mug and poured in 32 ounces of boiling water. Then, I left it sit, covered for about ten minutes. Then I took a teaspoon of honey and put it in the bottom of a glass. I added half a mug (about 4-6 ounces) of the tea. Then I added a couple tablespoons of half and half and topped the mug with about 4 ounces of one percent milk. I loved it, and I even served some to my daughter. She loved it too and said I should save some for Daddy.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

My daughter and I are planning a birthday party today. We decided to celebrate my husband's birthday, which is technically Sept. 11. I had planned to go to the store and get the makings for a chicken-corn pot pie concoction, but that has been delayed. Instead, we are making a pumpkin cake, a variant of my carrot cake recipe.

My original carrot cake recipe is listed if you click on the cake link and read the "pumpkin spice muffin" entry.

Today's "Pumpkin Spice Cake"

3 cups flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
about 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
about 1/2 teaspoon ginger
about 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
about 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Blend into batter:
15 ounces pumpkin
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1/2 teaspoon iodized sea salt

Beat two minutes.
I could have added four eggs one at a time, but instead I used ONE egg, two ripe bananas and five tablespoons apple butter.

Add walnuts and/or walnuts if desired. I didn't.

Pour into greased and floured 13x9 pan and bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.

VERDICT: I used storebought cream cheese icing on it, and this turned out to be the best cake ever. It is soooo good. My husband said: "Did you just find a new recipe somewhere or did you make something up?" We know the answer-- I made it up.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

French Toast

I have taken the last of the homemade bread from the freezer and using it to make French toast. French toast, for the record, is not French but American. An eighteenth-century innkeeper made the recipe for his guests. His family name was French. French toast is a great item to keep in the freezer for busy mornings, if your family leaves any to freeze.


  1. heap of homemade bread, sliced.
  2. 1/3 cup apple juice
  3. 1/3 cup soy milk
  4. 1/3 cup milk
  5. 3 eggs
  6. cinnamon
  7. nutmeg
  8. 1 individual serving natural applesauce
  9. about 1 tsp. vanilla
  10. oil and/or butter for the pan

Mix ingredients 2-9. Whisk well. Dip bread in mix, fry.
I discovered a tin of beef burgundy in the freezer that I have put in the fridge for dinner tomorrow.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Popcorn Cauliflower

This is a recipe we clipped from a Parade magazine several years ago... It's a slow-cooker that requires regular attention, but well-worth the effort. I have never met someone who didn't like it. It's a recipe from Bob Blumer, the surrealist gourmet.

This is my simplified version:

1. Cut a head of cauliflower into golf ball sized pieces.
2. Brush each lightly with olive oil.
3. Arrange on cookie sheet. They can't touch.
4. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
5. Roast in oven at 450 for about an hour, turning every fifteen minutes.

Friday, April 3, 2009

"Laziest lunch ever"

At some point soon, I hope to update this blog with our attempts to eat while in harried times. On the line up are my husband's open-faced tuna melts on bagels that we had for lunch yesterday; our trip to TGI Fridays last night; and well, I was going to mention my husband's self-proclaimed "laziest lunch ever" where he threw some hummus and a bag of fritos into his lunch box. But hey, there's not much more to that story so there's one item I can cross off the list.