Thursday, July 29, 2010


I don't know what got into me, but I decided to make tacos.
I made the homemade tortillas this afternoon and found this site:

Ground beef
(I prefer ground chuck)
Chili powder
Garlic powder or 2 cloves
Bell pepper

Instructions for taco recipe:

Let's take 2 pounds of ground beef in 2 quart sauce pan add 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of chili power, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder or 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 2 tablespoons of paprika. Enough water to cover meat.

Bring to a boil. Simmer over medium low heat about an hour. I will check in about 15 minutes take a potato masher break up the meat a little don't want it to cook up in lumps.

Repeat this process 2 or 3 more times. Also make sure we don't run dry of water. Add water if needed. Hour over already!

OK, add 1/2 medium chopped onion, 1/2 medium chopped bell pepper, continue cooking 20 or 30 more minutes.

I used 1/2 ground beef from a local farm and 1/2 black beans (the ones I made in the crock pot over the weekend.)
I omitted onion, and used one green pepper from my garden.
I turned up the heat a little on the stove, not the taco meat, because I didn't start early enough.

And I'm using my Le Creuset skillet instead of a saucepan.


My daughter and I made tortillas this afternoon, using a recipe we found online. I used to have a different one, but I didn't feel like looking for it.

- 2 cups flour
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tsp salt (I used iodized sea salt)
- 2 tsp canola oil (many tortilla recipes use more traditional fats like shortening)
-3/4 cup warm water

Mix dry ingredients.

In separate container, mix wet ingredients.

Spoon wet ingredients into dry ingredients one tablespoon at a time, using a fork to stir into dry ingredients. Will form a pebbly dough.

Knead five minutes. Let rest 20, with a damp towel.

Break into pieces and roll into balls each the size of a golf ball. I got seven.

Let rest ten minutes. Roll into circles. Fry in dry cast iron skillet for 30 seconds on each side.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On chocolate

I regularly (every couple months) splurge on some good dark bittersweet chocolate from Wegmans or Target. I'd love to splurge on Godiva or Chaudun, but we deal.

Last week, I opened the Lindt Black Currant bar (pictured). Delectably sweet from the fruit and crunchy from the almonds, but still maintaining the dark, bittersweet flavor.

Tonight, I opened the Ghirardelli Expresso Escape. They got the coffee blended so smooth into the chocolate...

But yeah, I pay $3 a pop for some of these, but they last for about four servings (2 for me and 2 for my hubby) and they satiate me much quicker than a Snickers. And I love exploring flavors... Another favorite is the vegan dark chocolate with candied dried ginger... but I can't remember the name.

For me, buying the splurge items is cost effective because when I don't get the flavor I am after, I eat other things trying to find it. So, one square of quality bittersweet chocolate versus...

Well, I'll be honest. I resisted opening the chocolate, and first I ate two slices of lunchmeat ham that my mother-in-law brought for lunch. When salt didn't do it, I ate the last croissant (also from my mother-in-law). Then I finally relented and opened the chocolate.

Which is better for my budget and my waistline?

Had I opened the chocolate in the first place...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sweet Potato Crunch/Casserole hybrid

So, yesterday I thought I would serve some sort of sweet potato with the chicken. The cordless can opener battery died a few turns into the can and the manual can opener just would not latch. (Husband even tried.)

Now that the Gizmo is recharged I got the can open. And I made a use-up-leftovers kind of baked sweet potato dish.

For the potato base:
- 1 can sweet potatoes, drained
- 2 handfuls brown sugar
- About one-half cup farm fresh milk
- 1 egg
- 1 handful raisins

Over top, mix and spread:
- 1/4 cup walnuts (all I had)
- about 1/4 cup leftover pie crumbs
- about 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

Coat with three tablespoons melted butter.

Arrange in Pyrex bread loaf pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Angel vs. the drumsticks

I have 14 drumsticks. Not my favorite thing to deal with. But my family eats anything... So... A gift is a gift.

I divided the drumsticks into two pyrex dishes. Seven in each.

Oven preheating to 300 degrees.

Marinade 1 "fruity":
A total of about 3/4 cups liquid...
- about half of that dijon apple vinaigrette left from the Dole Harvest salad kit
- about 1/4 of that chianti vinaigrette left from the Dole Italian salad kit
- about 3 tablespoons canola oil
- the remainder is apple juice

Add about 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary.

Marinade 2 "savory":
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- seven leaves fresh rosemary chopped and dropped into the hot butter

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken in the savory dish with four color organic pepper and garlic powder.

Pour on the sage butter. It didn't look wet enough so I went ahead and brush more butter directly onto each drumstick, probably bringing the butter total to 1/2 cup. Then, I added a lemon slice to each. I used a whole lemon in this endeavor, making sure I got all the lemon juice into the pan.

I covered them with foil and slipped them into the oven, intending to marinate every 30 minutes and uncover toward the end... whenever I determine that will be.

I believe I cooked them for about 90 minutes on 300 and then 40 minutes on 375 with the aluminum foil off.

My family ate them skin and all and the "fruity" ones were more moist.

Making the beans today...

finally making black beans in the crock pot.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pork and rice leftovers

Today I took the leftovers of that 2 lb pork loin basted in apple "jus" and chopped it into bite sized pieces. I added it, all the leftover "jus," about two cups peas and two cups cauliflower to the Le Creuset skillet and simmered it over very low heat while some rice cooked in the steamer.

Served over rice and was super yummy.

Tonight we're having spaghetti and sausage. I'm cooking the sausage now and will divvy it into smaller portions to freeze for other meals in addition to tonight.

Also, last night we went to the warehouse club where we primarily stocked up on paper products and soap. And my husband's $36 pack of refill razor blades that last him about a year. We also got pet supplies. And some groceries: tuna, cheddar, 12 pack of hunt's sauce, six pounds of rotini. A 3-pack of silk Vanilla soy milk. Apple juice.

Friday, July 23, 2010

July's granola

Ah, granola...

Thanks to some discussion with friends, I am in the mood to make granola (which is great because random odds and ends are all I have in the house so I can mix them up!).

Adapted from the Imus Ranch cookbook:

Dry ingredients:
-3 cups oats
- 1.5 cups Aldi brand peanut butter crunch cereal
- about one cup dry roasted peanuts
- about one cup mixed nuts
- about 1/4 cup dried cranberries leftover from a salad mix
- about two tablespoons dried candied ginger chopped as small as possible
- four fresh dates chopped into about six pieces each
- dried strawberries, chopped, 1/4 cup
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup brown sugar

Wet ingredients:
- about 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
- about three tablespoons honey (omit for vegan version)
- about 1/2 cup canola oil
Mix wet ingredients thoroughly and then mix into dry

Bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes, turning frequently, every 10-15 minutes

Add M&M's or butterscotch chips after baking for something decadent

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Appetizer Sandwiches

I made multigrain bread this morning, and for lunch we had hot bread and leftover beef stew/beouf Borgogne with the garden greenbeans from the freezer. We still have some for lunch tomorrow.

Now, husband (wonderful husband) is concocting little tuna melts on the bread, and I believe little pork sandwiches with the leftover loin from last night, and the Italian salad kit from Dole. Oh, and small servings of Kraft Mac and Cheese with peas leftover from some other day.

We are nearing desperate lack of groceries, but he gets paid tomorrow so I'm trying to get by on what's in the house. Most of what is in the house is meat from a friend who gave us a care package, and I'm not that into meat.

I had considered spaghetti and sausage for tonight, but we don't have sauce and we ate all the fresh tomatoes from the garden.

I was about to charge a pizza when husband decided to make fancy little sandwiches with salad. It will be interesting to see his concoctions.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pork Loin with apples?

This is a variation of my pork with apples recipe:

I have a two pound pork loin that I'm going to make using the glaze from pork with apples as a sauce and slow cooking it in the oven. And basting often.

Which involves sticking my head in the oven on a 100 degree day.

But I am determined to cook.

So, my first step is to prepare everything from the sauce in the Le Creuset skillet. While that's simmering, I'll start baking the loin a bit... and then combine it all...

More as the experiment gets underway...

Okay... So... This turned out to be one of my simplest, best meat-based meals ever. Served with a harvest salad from Dole.

- 2 lb pork loin, still frozen
- 2 cups good quality apple juice
- about 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped (I could have easily used three times as much)
- 1 red delicious apple chopped.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
On the stove top, in the skillet, pour 1 cup apple juice, the brown sugar and the rosemary. Simmer and stir gently until the sugar melts. Add the apple. Then add the loin. Leave the heat of the skillet on medium. Cook the loin for five minutes on each side.

Lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the skillet. I did not cover completely. Put the skillet in the oven and baste ever half hour, turning every hour.

After two hours, add another cup of apple juice. Continue basting.

I served after three hours. Around the 2.5 hour mark, the color changed from porky gray to a rich orange brown. The apples more or less melted.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bruschetta pizza

While anemia and a heat wave do not make prime conditions for cooking, herbs and tomatoes ripening in the garden demand attention. And good food.

My garden has yielded five more tomatoes since I made bruschetta last week and my mother decided I needed the first two tomatoes from her garden.

So today my daughter and I made homemade pizza dough. We started with a cup of warm water, two tablespoons of yeast, a dollop of honey and a dollop of blackstrap molasses. We added 1.5 cups unbleached white flour, 3/4 cup wheat flour, and 1/4 cup rye flour. I stirred and kneaded as she went to the garden for a heap of basil. I shredded about six leaves of basil, probably about three tablespoons and we kneaded that into the dough.

While that rose (about an hour), I made about three cups of bruschetta. This required close to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, six small tomatoes chopped, about 1/3 cup chopped basil leaves, 2/3 teaspoon four color peppercorns, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt and about 1/4 cup grated romano cheese.

When the dough was done, I sprinkled a long jelly roll pan with cornmeal. I rolled out the dough on my dishwasher and coated the bottom lightly with cornmeal. Then I dampened my hands with olive oil and patted the bottom of the dough before I put it in the pan and finished spreading it out.

I dumped the bruschetta on, added bites of broccoli, covered with 8 ounces of mozzerella and added some more basil on top for pretty.

It's baking and I'm STARVED.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Chicken, shrimp and broccoli

Today, forgetting I still have half a broccoli cheese pot pie in the fridge, I embarked on chicken and broccoli for lunch.

So, I preheated the oven to 350 and set the Le Creuset skillet on the front burner on low with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon butter, and 1 teaspoon four color peppercorn.

I took two slightly thawed chicken breasts and about two cups shrimp and dropped them in the skillet. I sprinkled garlic powder and paprika (lightly) on everything. Ten minutes each side, but about halfway I did turn the heat up to almost medium.

I added as much broccoli as I could get in the skillet (fresh) and then added one cup chicken broth. and one more teaspoon butter distributed in chunks. I also got out two cups of wegmans thai vegetable stock. I thawed both of these broths in the microwave must still had an icy chunk for each so I set one on top of each chicken breast thinking it could baste as it melts.

Into the oven it goes. Husband home for lunch in 45 minutes.

*This is the last of our shrimp.*

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pot pie

Made a broccoli pot pie tonight.

Nothing fancy.

- 2 ready made pie crusts
- fresh broccoli florets from my mother in law
- about 1/2 cup shredded mexican blend cheese
- one can Aldi chicken-broccoli-cheese soup
- about 1/2 can almond milk
- 1 teaspoon curry

(I took the last three ingredients and mixed them on the stove to get them melted together)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Big Bad Watermelon

There is no easy way to write this entry. I gave my husband $70 (our grocery money for the next two weeks) and asked him to pick up a few things at the store. He spent $48, leaving me $22 to fill in the gaps. (Luckily, we have the garden and his parents have brought some stuff-- fruit, veggies and juice.)

I don't agree with many of his choices, but he did his best. Honey, if you read this, don't take the commentary personally. I love you.

- Northern Double Rolls Toilet Paper, $2.89
- Salsa, 1.69 (this is his salsa, except for that price I could have gotten a jar twice as big at Aldi)
- can of black beans 69 cents
- watermelon, with seeds, $5.99 (I never pay more than $3 for a watermelon, so the title comes from this. On top of the price, it wasn't even seedless. "But someone begged and begged," he said.)
- Dole Premium Salad kits, 2 for $7
- 2 quarts of strawberries, $5
- Morningstar Vegetarian Sausages, $3.49
- 16 ounces frozen broccoli, $1.49 (he thought they were on sale for $1, let's not tell him)
- now the next item says, "Giant Vegetable," and it was on sale for $1 but the regular price is $1.09 and I'm not sure what it was.
- 16 ounces of frozen peas, 2 bags at $1 each
- 2 unsweetened silk soy milk half gallons, $5.98 (Giant has their own brand of soy milk and it's cheaper. Plus, if we're poor, how about 1 half gallon soy milk and 1 of milk-- the kind that comes from a cow)
- Almond Breeze almond milk, $2.91 minus $1 in store coupon (Almond milk is daughter's new kick, but he got plain, not vanilla and she doesn't like it. Plus, he forgot juice. So now she has nothing but water to drink. Sorry, kid!)
- 3 small containers of coffeemate, $1.67 each
- 16 ounce block of wisconsin cheddar cheese, $3.89 (about 20 cents more expensive than the warehouse club)

Experimental Stew

So, I do it every time. I start cooking the beef cubes in butter in my Le Creuset skillet for French-style beef stew and I don't check the cupboard to make sure we have stock.

I had chicken stock and Thai stock. So I piled some chives and parsley from the garden into the skillet with the cooking meat, about a teaspoon of garlic salt and a teaspoon of four color black peppercorn. When that got done cooking, I added enough thai broth to fill the skillet. And basil. And more pepper.

Then I poured the broth, after about 30 minutes, into the stew pot. Then I added half a bottle of red wine to the skillet and cooked the wine in that. I combined everything and put the stew pot over the heat. I added the rest of the wine, and a wine bottle of water. I boiled and tasted. Too much red wine.

So I added a can of vegetarian vegetable soup (with alphabet noodles, classy, eh?) and some more basil and chives.

And set it to boil for about ten minutes. Added green beans from the garden.


It's been a while since I made bruschetta.

But I had two small tomatoes redden in my garden. My basil is doing wonderfully and I have a loaf of homemade bread in the freezer.

About 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
About 1 teaspoon garlic powder
About 1/4 teaspoon four color organic pepper
2 small tomatoes, diced.
Enough extra virgin olive oil for the herbs and tomatoes to soak in (less than 1/4 cup)
About eight leaves of fresh basil, chopped
About 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
About 1.5 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
About 1/2 teaspoon fresh chives chopped

Stir. Cover. Let sit.

Toast some bread. Spoon on top. Let oil soak into bread. Serve.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lunch and dinner

Breakfast today was cream of wheat with strawberries.

Lunch today was Dole's Asian Crunch Salad with added raisins, peanuts and cashews. Little Miss was with her grandparents and I really wanted a salad.

Dinner will be leftover mac and cheese with leftover meat in it, leftover asparagus, and farm fresh corn the daughter brought home from the roadside stand.

And tomorrow will be the green beans I picked from the garden today.

My in-laws brought fruit too! Bananas, apples, dates. Veggies: Broccoli.

Chicken salad picnic

As part of our picnic, Gayle made the following chicken salad:

20 ounces of shredded cooked chicken
1 small apple, diced small
15-20 grapes cut in half or quarters if large
1 handful sliced almonds

Mix together

Add dressing of 1 part Mayo and 1 part plain Greek Yogurt or regular
yogurt drained.

There was a lot of grapes (which I liked, they were *perfect* red grapes) and we could have used some more almonds, but then, I love almonds. I love fruity chicken salad. And Gayle and I had the discussion that we're not fans of mayo, so hence the yogurt substitution. Gayle said she read you could used mashed avocado instead of mayo for the fat, and so we added sliced avocado. That was yummy. So there may be something to this avocado idea.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blueberry pancakes

The other day I thawed out the last of the bluberries I had in the freezer. I intended for them to be a snack, or topping for yogurt, but it didn't work that way.

Since daughter and I went for a bike ride with friends in Jim Thorpe. My husband made bluberry pancakes with real maple syrup and scrambled eggs! They were yummy!

We use the pancake recipe from Betty Crocker.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pasta Basilique

The title of this post and this meal is inspired by my favorite movie, a French film called, The Closet.

The main character makes spaghetti with fresh basil every time his teenaged son comes to visit.

Tonight I prepared some spaghetti (mixing whole wheat with regular white).

I heated two small cans of plain tomato sauce, one half teaspoon four color pepper, two teaspoons garlic powder and about 1 cup fresh basil leaves from my garden, torn into large strips.

Serve with grated Romano and shredded asagio.

Creamsicle Frozen Yogurt

Based on my recipe for creamsicle smoothie today I combined in the ice cream machine:

About two cups vanilla yogurt
About one cup strong orange juice
About three tablespoons half and half
About one-half shot Bols Blue Curacao (to keep it from freezing solid like an Italian ice)

Tasted pretty good in liquid form. We'll see when the ice cream maker finishes with it.

And it's green...

Meat Bagel with sesame sautéed asparagus

For lunch today I fried some beef hot dogs in the skillet, with lots of asparagus spears from the freezer.

I cut the dogs in half length-wise so they would lay flat on a open-faced bagel sandwich, each sandwich requiring 3/4 of a hot dog sliced in this manner.

The meat itself was a gift from a friend.

I toasted a half bagel for each of us, put ketchup on it for the child and husband (horseradish mustard for me) and put the slices of meat on top. Then I sprinkled on some shredded "Mexican blend" cheese and warmed it slightly in the microwave.

I removed the meat from the skillet (it had been cooking with the asparagus) and added about a teaspoon sesame oil to it. I also sprinkled four color pepper and garlic salt on the asparagus and cooked it until thoroughly hot and brown on one side.

Despite the perceived kid-friendliness of these open-faced sandwiches, my daughter thought they looked awful and smelled worse. She picked at them for a half hour and then announced she didn't like the beef knotwurst or whatever it was.

I have the only kid in America who loves meat, loves sausages, loves bacon, but hates anything remotely hot dog-ish.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Salad again...

Since it's amazingly hot today, I opted for quick salads for dinner, especially since my daughter didn't finish her lunch and had snacks at the neighbors and said she didn't want dinner. But she needed some fruit and/or vegetables.

So salad. With crumbled tomato and basil feta, raisins and organic ranch dressing. And a side of dried fruit (raisins, dates, papaya, strawberries, pineapple), cashews and peanuts.

But tell me... How do they manage to suck all the nutritional value out of dried fruit? That urks me. Especially since it's yummy.

Leftover Skillet

Every family has its way of treating/recycling leftovers.

Today we took some leftover meats, some leftover greenbeans from the garden, leftover fresh vegetables, and leftover Kraft macaroni and cheese and cooked it in the skillet in a sauce of leftover white wine, butter, extra virgin olive oil, four color peppercorn and a touch of garlic salt.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Houseguests and harvests

I had a houseguest for the holiday weekend, and this wasn't the kind of houseguest you sit around and cook for. This was the kind of houseguest with whom you go out gallivanting.

Because it was my best friend Shannon who now lives in Virginia, where quality Italian is scarce and Northern treats like bagels not made with any sort of authenticity, the first item on the agenda was one dozen bagels from New York Bagel and Deli.

Ah, bagels. Feast of carbohydrates. Flexible superfood.

When I had gestational diabetes, I couldn't even look at a bagel without my blood sugar spiking.

But half a bagel with melted cheddar cheese is a fabulous snack reminiscent of a soft pretzel. Tuna melts on a bagel could stop my heart. My crock pot spinach dip or hummus on half a toasted bagel... Egg sandwich on a jalapeno bagel... Cinnamon raisin bagel with some sort of nut butter for breakfast.

My husband made me an egg sandwich on a jalapeno bagel with tomato and basil feta. That was amazing.

But now the holiday picnics are over. The houseguest gone.

The entire family contributed to a dinner fit for this 95+ degree Pennsylvania day...
My husband made Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. We heated some leftover sausages from his mother's 4th of July Picnic. And my daughter and I went into the garden and harvested the first vegetables from the garden: green beans! We washed them and cooked them, leaving them still al dente and I thought they were fantastic.

My daughter, who never likes fresh green beans, didn't like these "very much" either, so I let her dip them in Wegmans Ginger Sesame vinaigrette dressing.

They disappeared.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Crock pot mystery chicken

Last night we had a cheese platter for dinner, using the biscuits I made. We had some havarti dill, extra sharp new York cheddar, Meunster and tomato-basil Feta, plus ring bologna, fresh blueberries and some dates.

For dinner tonight I have placed 2 chicken breasts and about 2 cups fresh snap peas in the crock pot with about 2.5 cups veggie stock and 1 cup mango coconut pepper sauce.