Tuesday, December 31, 2013


It's New Year's Eve and I thought it might be fun to get some fun food tonight. So I told my family to write down what they wanted to eat, we folded them and drew at random.

Pizza won.

And yes, my husband suggested cat.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner was a success and raised my confidence in the kitchen to think I could cook dinner for twenty. I planned dinner for ten, but there was enough for twenty. 

The best part was, I only spent $100. Though I did not make the ham. My step mom made a lovely ham and her sister made her family's recipe for baked mac and cheese.

My dad said next time I had to make either appetizers or the meal because he just didn't have enough room for everything.

My stepmom mentioned my pork with apples again, suggesting we replace the ham with that.

The final meal went something like this:

My stepmom had some cookies out. She made cucumber sandwiches. We started with some basic cold food. Garden vegetable wheat thin select crackers, roasted red pepper hummus from Aldi, harissa imported from Tunisia, kalamata olives (also from Aldi), and home canned pickle spears with dill from my garden.

Then I made my popcorn roasted cauliflower, cooked my already assembled stuffed dates, and heated some Archer Farms frozen appetizers (crab rangoon and puff pastry with Brie and cranberry). Everything was a hit.

While everyone chatted and nibbled, my husband and I gutted the baked potatoes and mixed the filling for twice baking.

The filling ended up being:
- broccoli florets chopped
- ranch dressing
- four color peppercorns
- potato
- Asiago cheese

My step mom started the ham.

About an hour before the meal, we added some of the potatoes to the oven with the mac and cheese.

About a half hour before the meal, I tossed the salad (arugula, spinach and spring mix) with my homemade berry vinaigrette and Jonagold apple slices.

I started the green beans almandine. French cut green beans. I toasted the almond slices in butter. I put the green beans in a casserole dish and tossed them with extra virgin olive oil. Put the almonds on top.

Served everything with my cornbread and two quarts of home-canned applesauce.

Gingerbread-less house

We decorated a wooden gingerbread house form with this version of royal icing and every scrap of candy we could find. From my friend Gayle:

"Royal icing is made. Basically it is egg whites and 10x sugar. Easy to make with a stand mixer.

I used 1/4 cup meringue powder, 1/2 cup of water and 4 cups of 10x"

Pictures to come. I'm a tad behind.

Christmas sandwich

While driving home from work last night, I dreamed up this sandwich. I love salad but I love it a lot more when I don't have to eat it with a fork. 

- one pita
- greens, stuffing that pita full (I used arugula, spinach and spring mix leftover from Christmas dinner)
- my homemade berry vinaigrette dressing 
- my home canned cranberry orange relish
- turkey 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Bacon wrapped dates

This morning I mixed cream cheese, cinnamon and raisins in my big Kitchen Aid mixer. 

I cut a bunch of fresh medjool dates in half, pitted them and smeared the cream cheese inside and put the lids back on.

Then we had the rest of the cream cheese with toasted baguette.

I wrapped the dates in raw bacon...

Baked at 450 for 15-20 minutes until the bacon cooks. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Berry vinaigrette

I can't find my recipe for berry vinaigrette dressing.

So I winged it.

- About one cup frozen berries cooked in some water.
- about 3/4 cup extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
- a few generous splashes apple cider vinegar
- a few generous splashes strawberry basil balsamic vinegar 
- a few generous splashes balsamic vinegar
- some sugar to taste if too tart

Smash berries. Combine everything. Shake in bottle. Chill. Shake again.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Two Tales to Tell

This week has been nuttier than I ever anticipated.

Funny things first. 

My only days off this week (and until Christmas if you want to get technical) were Tuesday and today. My daughter had a snow day Tuesday and she decided to play restaurant and make me lunch.

She presented me with a menu and very quickly informed me that I should not worry about what we *actually* had in the house because she had a plan.

I ordered the nachos supreme and the olives, with the chocolate surprise for dessert.

My daughter is nine and a half. This becomes important to understand what happens next.

She realized we had no tortilla chips for nachos so she used some fancy water crackers, sprinkled them with finely shredded mozzarella cheese and put them in the microwave on high for six minutes.

Meanwhile, she took my fancy chocolate bar and placed a piece of it into a small plastic bowl. She placed the bowl in a saucepan and turned on the burner to create her own version of a double boiler. Except she forgot the water. Once the plastic began to melt, the smell made her panic and she called me into the kitchen.

I turned the nachos off (four minutes in) and explained to her how her theory was off on the double boiler. The saucepan and the plastic bowl went into the trash.

I added salsa to the "nachos" and are them like a good mom. She did manage to melt the chocolate in the microwave, and added a touch of coconut milk to it, to make a delicious hot fudge sauce for ice cream.

She was heartbroken seeing only her failure.

"I just wanted to take what we have and make a great meal like you always do."

I told her she did. Because she did. And she made just as many good choices as bad. I enjoyed giving her freedom and independence in the kitchen. And I think she learned a lot.

And I did enjoy the meal. 

Now, the next challenge. I volunteered to make Christmas dinner for ten. I have no plan. I have no groceries. Must shop.

- dates stuffed with cream cheese
- vegetable mini pot pies
- spinach/dark greens salad with homemade berry vinegrette 
- roasted "popcorn" cauliflower
- cornbread
- Brussel sprouts
- some sort if sweet potato dish with apples? Pecans?
- homemade cranberry relish 
- homemade applesauce 

My stepmom is making a ham.
Her sister is making baked mac and cheese.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Tonight we recycled more leftovers (my mother in law sent us carrots and ham). I am rather pleased with this one. 

We made a big pile of couscous.

I boiled 3 cups water with about two tablespoons of raj el hanout. When the water boiled, I added 2 cups couscous and put the lid on for five minutes.

My husband diced the leftover carrots and ham. I also had him add the leftover sugar snap peas. I heated that up on the stove and added about two tablespoons parsley.

When we took the lid off the couscous, my husband fluffed it and we put some on each plate. (We have some leftover).

I drizzled some extra virgin olive oil on each pile, added the carrot/ham mix (and I know this is not halal), sprinkled with more raj el hanout, and served.

I keep harissa in the freezer, a few spoonfuls in fold-over sandwich bags all rolled up inside a freezer bag. I took one out and thawed it out in warm water like when you get sauces in processed frozen dishes.

This hit the spot.

Recycling with hot dogs

Husband had a hot dog & leftover mac and cheese.

Daughter had leftover mac and cheese, olives, homemade pickles, leftover fruit (pears, pineapple & papaya) and a hot dog served open-faced on the leftover spinach pizza dunker with pizza sauce instead of ketchup.

And me?

I had a hot dog on a jalapeño bagel with wasabi mustard, mozzarella, extra hot habanero salsa, jalapeño slices, and homemade dill pickles.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Icy morning egg sandwich

My daughter has a two hour delay this morning so I made us a fried egg and roasted red pepper sandwich on a toasted jalapeño bagel. I sliced that puppy in half and we shared... I had fried up two eggs so we got plenty of good stuff to start our cold day.

She also got a side of tropical fruit (various papaya and pineapple) and pears.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pizza Dunkers

At school, they serve a dish called pizza dunkers. It's breadsticks with a side of dipping cheese and marinara sauce. How that constitutes a valid meal, I don't know.

Today we made a pizza dough of:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
- Italian seasoning
- about 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Combined with
- about 1 cup warm water
- about 1 teaspoon local raw honey
- 2 tablespoons yeast

Let rise for an hour, mix with more flour if dough is sticky after kneading.

My daughter lined a large baking sheet with olive oil and we sprinkled it with corn meal.

We spread out the dough into a rectangle on the sheet. We lined it with spinach and mozzarella and folded it in half. We carefully topped it with Parmesan and some more mozzarella.

We cut it into breadsticks.

Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. Serve with a side of warm marinara or pizzasauce.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Easy dinners

This weekend groceries are low and I threw my back out hand-washing pizza pans at work. 

Last night my husband fried some hot dogs and tossed out some chips, made more palatable by special condiments like wasabi mustard and my own homemade pickles from dill that I grew in my own garden.

Tonight I made a sauce of garlic, sesame oil, honey and low sodium soy sauce for some frozen sugar snap peas. We served these with boxed mac and cheese made with coconut milk and adding bits of bacon leftover from a bacon-and-egg dinner Thursday night.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Simple dinner tonight

I went for a simple dinner tonight. I broke up some chicken breasts and mixed them with the leftover turkey. Served with some potatoes, home canned apples and cranberry clementine relish and a taste of store bought cranberry sauce for comparison.