Friday, December 30, 2011

Family Dinner--post 2

So I kind of backed into an appetizer.  I needed something no bake as my one, single oven will be in use for the bird.

I could do cheese and crackers, but those choices were so overwhelming.  Maybe because I am always trying to up my veggie intake, I opted for crudites.  And what a beautiful, rainbow-esque crudites it will be.  I have red bell peppers, carrots, yellow grape tomatoes, broccoli, and these beautiful and fun carrot-shaped radishes.  I bought premade dips...ranch because while I hate it, it does seem to be popular; and french onion, because, really who doesn't like onion dip.

Tomorrow will be a crazy busy cooking day.  I have to salt the bird--inside and out, wrap in plastic wrap and continue to chill.  I will also be making my cheesecake.

Have I told you about my pumpkin cheesecake?  I am using parts of three different 4 fork recipes (on epicurious).  The piece de resistance is the pecan caramel sauce that gets served with it.  Oh, and there is bourbon throughout.  Yum!

Other cooking/prep work includes blanching the broccoli, and prepping the remaining cruidites.

I will also have Josh add the leaves to the table so I can set it.

Today I am supposed to be cleaning my house.  You can see how enthusiastic I am about that.

Dinner tonight is a pasta casserole from the freezer.

What are you having?

happy cooking

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family Dinner--post 1

So I'm having the family (Josh's--mine lives in SC) for dinner on January 1, 2012.

We will be having turkey with all the fixin's.   Okay, maybe not ALL the fixin's.  Just the ones I really like!

What are they, you ask?  First and foremost is cranberry sauce.  In fact this cranberry sauce.  I know, it has more cherries than cranberries...but it is oh-so-yummy.

And I can make it advance.  Like today.  I think I will.

The rest of the meal is stuffing (maybe boxed, maybe not--haven't decided), green beans, and the star is the turkey.  I saw Michael Symon (on the Chew) prepare it in a very unique way.  You soak cheese cloth in this wonderful butter/herb/stock/lemon potion and cover the breast with a double layer of the cloth.  No need to open the oven for basting.  When your bird is cooked you will be rewarded with a perfectly golden skin.  Woohoo!

Now I have to see how much Madeira I have (subbing for Marsala) for cranberry sauce.

Dinner tonight is sausage/pepper/onion baked rigatoni.  How 'bout you?

happy cooking

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crazy Cooking

So I am about to continue my cooking for  Sunday's Pioneer Luncheon.

Okay, so far I've only toasted the pecans for the ham glaze.  That's something!  It still counts. 

I need to finish the glaze this afternoon.  Apple cider, bourbon...yum.  Crushed toasted pecans, molasses, dry mustard.  YUM!  I've done this's really good.

Tomorrow, after FS, I have to make Moroccan Spiced apples.  Small dice; tossed in EVOO and baked for 10 minutes and then tossed with this yummy spice mixture, and baked again.

I will also make my Flourless Chocolate Cake tomorrow.  Good thing I got my WT done today. Yay Josh for that one!

Sunday, I will rush home after the meeting to bring my oven up to 425 in order to bake the ham. (It's really just a matter of warming it.  It's fully cooked and spiral cut...and I got it for $.99 a lb!  WOOOHOOO!)  While the degrees are warming, I will press the glaze all over the ham and line the platter with the kale that I purchased on Wed.

Maybe I will warm the apples. Probably I'll let MC do that at her place.

Now, my only dilemma is whether to bake the ham cut side down or not.  Any thoughts?

happy cooking

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pot Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Onions

...and parsnips... 'cause I love 'em!

So I belong to the "Cooking Club."  Most of the time I throw the magazine with out making any of the recipes.  This issue (Winter 2012) has a recipe that I am  going to make.  Tonight, in fact.

I'm not going to retype the recipe, but I can give you the highlights.

1.  mix S&P, poultry seasoning, and thyme with softened unsalted butter
2.  coat chicken (in my case bone-in, skin-on breasts and thighs) with half butter mixture
3.  brown poultry in olive oil and remove
4.  add onions, garlic (parsnips) and sweet potato rounds in stages
5.  stir in remaining butter mixture
6.  add chicken back to the pot, nestling in one layer over veggies
7.  press a parchment round over everything, put the lid on the pot and bake for one hour at 350

This is dinner tonight.  How 'bout you?

happy cooking

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sausage gravy or meat sauce?

What was intended as one thing snowballed into another.  Why?  Mostly, I think, because I was shopping while hungry.

I went into a local market to get Fat Free Half and Half.  (My super-fabulous market doesn't carry the half-gallon size.)  $20 later I came out with more Italian sausage and ground beef.

I had to go to a second local market (honestly, other end of the same strip center) to get ice cream.  Again, $20 later I came out with a focaccia (which was already stale, as it turns out) and a host of junk food things for my lunch.  Okay, not entirely junk food...there were peppers and onion with the cheese and Doritos.

So when it came time to make the gravy, I dug some bacon out of the freezer, used all of the sausage, the ground beef, and just for good measure, I threw in a flank steak.  After 2 hours in the pot with tomatoes and wine, the flank steak shredded beautifully.

All in all Josh was thrilled.  It's not really my cup of tea (or gravy), but I cook for the man that loves me.  He has 4 lunches out of it (one today, 2 tomorrow...he's working a late shift, and one for the weekend).  There's also a container of sauce in the freezer.

Dinner here tonight is pizza.  What are you cooking?

happy cooking

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What to do with leftovers

Besides eating them.

Nobody really likes to serve (or eat) the same thing day after day.

So what can you do?  Well, on Monday night I roasted fingerling potatoes as a side dish.  On Tuesday night, I mashed them and added one chopped green onion.

On Tuesday night I made meatloaf.  Aunt Kate would insist that we should have meatloaf sandwiches today.

Tonight I'm making rigatoni and gravy.  This time the gravy will be laced with Italian sausage.

I will mix the leftovers with some mozzarella and assorted other cheeses and freeze for a future meal.

Sometimes I actually plan the leftovers into the original meal.  Nifty, eh?

That's what I'm cooking; how about you?

happy cooking

Monday, November 28, 2011

Date Night--11/28/11

We are back from a week visiting my family in SC.  I am slowly getting back into my routine.  I did do some cooking while away and I'm sure I will share those recipes with you.  For now, though, you'll have to be content with tonight's meal.

I bought whole boneless skinless chicken breasts on Saturday morning.  I took them out this morning for this evening's meal.  Then I searched for "chicken cutlets" on

This is what I found:


  • 4 (1/3-inch-thick) chicken cutlets (1 1/2 lb)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 or 5 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 extra-large chicken-bouillon cube, crumbled

  • Garnish: finely chopped fresh chives

  • Accompaniment: rice or mashed potatoes
print a shopping list for this recipe view wine pairings


Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil and butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Brown chicken on both sides in 2 batches, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm. 

Add shallot to skillet and cook, stirring, until tender, about 1 minute. Add wine and deglaze by boiling over high heat, scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half. Stir in cream, tomatoes, tarragon, and bouillon cube, then simmer, stirring, until tomatoes are softened and sauce begins to thicken, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Return chicken, with any juices accumulated on plate, to skillet and simmer until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.
Serve immediately.

 I don't have any fresh tarragon left.  I'll see if I have any dried.  I may sub. dried oregano/basil instead.  I also don't have plum tomatoes.  I do, however, have a few of my own home-grown tomatoes left and a pint of grape tomatoes.  Hello dinner.

I will serve this with roasted fingerling potatoes and broccoli.

What are you having for dinner tonight?

happy cooking

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Date Night 11/16/11

Work has been a real bear for Joshua of late.  Thus I want tonight's Date Night to be exceptional.

But I don't really want to go out for anything.  A well stocked larder always pays off.

Since Josh loves, I mean LOVES chicken cutlets, especially with cheese and spaghetti, I found what I hope will be a perfect Date Night dinner.

It's from Racheal Ray's Big Orange Book.  It's called "Chicken Cutlets and Spaghetti with Peppers and Onions.

I couldn't find it online and I'm not about to type the whole thing for you.  Sorry.  I will give you some highlights, though.

The chicken (after being opened like a book and pounded within a 1/4 inch of it's life) is rubbed with a garlic herb paste.  These probably aren't the Italian herbs you are expecting.  They are rosemary and thyme.

Here is where I have to do some major improvising. The recipe calls for 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, and one cubanelle.  What I have on hand is 1/4 of a red bell pepper.  I may have a jar of roasted red pepper, too.  And I know I have red pepper flakes.

I'm going to have make that work.

I am also going to make chocolate mousse. (Snap! I don't have any cream!  Thus I have to go out which means I can get the necessary peppers.  Friggle snitch!)

Must leave now.  Mousse must have to time to chill.

This is all such a departure from what I had originally planned. Chicken, brussel sprouts, and leftover mashed.

I guess I'll eat the sprouts for lunch. Mmmm.

happy cooking

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

I don't know what else to write.  That sums up dinner tonight.

I'll have broccoli and a green salad.

Tonight has to be a cook-while-we-study kind of a meal.  Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes fits that bill.

I have strawberries and strawberry ice cream for dessert.  Ooooh...and Oreos.

happy cooking

Monday, November 14, 2011

This is a busy week

Josh and I leave on Saturday for SC to visit with my family.

That makes this a busy week.  Lots of household chores.  I just can't bear the idea of coming home to a dirty house.

So, cooking is not high on my list this week. 

For example, Josh is taking me out to dinner tonight.

I am making meatloaf tomorrow. 

Wednesday is Date Night.  I imagine I will do some cooking then.  And yes, I'll share those recipes or ideas with you.

That's my Monday update.  Next week I'll be doing a lot of cooking for a lot of people.  I'll do my best to check in.

happy cooking

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's a new day

And this is a day when I don't usually cook.  Frozen pizza is the order of the day on Thursday.

Call it tradition.

Josh works from noon to 8:00 tomorrow, so there is no real dinner planned for tomorrow.  It's entirely possible you won't hear from me till Monday.  Just wanted to let you know.

Updates from last night's Date Night meal.  Cocktail (it was more a mixed drink than a cocktail) was good.  A little odd, but good.  I forgot the anchovies on Josh's salad, but I did remember to hard boil some eggs.  Steaks were great; horseradish sauce was excellent; broccoli steamed to perfection.  Appetizer was good...mostly it was easy.  Pineapple dessert was sweet and juicy.

I didn't mention the potatoes.  They were undercooked, and subsequently hard.  We really don't love baked potatoes.  If you have any fool proof tips, I'd love to have them.

That's all I have to say.

happy cooking

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Date Night 11/9/11

So here we are in the middle of another week and that means it's date night.

Dinner tonight?  Steak and potatoes!

I was able to get a Porterhouse steak at Marriano's.  We plan to share it...I'll eat the filet portion and Josh will get the strip steak.  YUM!

The rest of the meal has just been one big brain fart. 

I bought and roasted baby beets on Monday.  I got goat cheese.  I have red leaf lettuce.  So my salad was planned and ingredients obtained. 

I decided Josh would really like a Caesar salad.  Alas, I had no anchovies.  It was okay though, I had to stop at another closer market yesterday.  I got the anchovies.

I realized with a start that  I didn't have any Romaine lettuce.  A must for a true Caesar salad.  Okay.  I remedied that after a "beauty appointment" I had earlier today.

After getting the anchovies and other groceries into my car yesterday, I realized I had no potatoes.  I turned around and marched right back into the store.  I left with 2 baking potatoes.  89 cents of potato that had to go my credit card because I had no cash...not even enough change.  Yikes!  Thus we are having good old fashioned baked potatoes with dinner.

While getting ice cream, I passed these frozen, cheese filled, phyllo triangles.  Score on tonight's appetizer!  I think I want to make an apricot-mustard dipping sauce.  I could find no such recipe, so this one is coming out of my own little head.

I am also going to make a horseradish cream sauce to go with the beef.  Josh also likes it on his broccoli (Tonight's vegetable).

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 2 green onions, chopped

That leaves cocktails and dessert.  They are actually kind of related.  I bought a pineapple on Monday.  I had no plan for said pineapple.  I like pineapple and the price was reasonable, so I bought a pineapple.  Josh thinks fresh pineapple would make a lovely dessert.  He is sure he can pour some kind of spirit over it as well.  (I think he's thinking Cointreau.)  Check...we'll have pineapple for dessert.

Now to the cocktail.  I get regular emails from  Sometimes they are foody, other times they feature adult beverages--with recipes.  This one is called No Contest.  It's a very unusual recipe but it's garnished with, you got it, a pineapple wedge.

So that's what I'm cooking tonight.  How about you?

happy cooking

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cheese crusted chicken with raw sauce

This is a Rachael Ray concoction.  I'm using it mostly as my inspiration for tonight's dinner as I don't exactly have all the ingredients on hand.

This essentially a breaded chicken cutlet.  That each chicken breast half will be butterflied and pounded out to about .25 inch.  Then it gets breaded in the usual fashion...flour so the egg will stick, egg so the bread crumb will stick, and finally bread crumb...which in this case is half cheese.  Yum!

The raw sauce is basically halved grape tomatoes and slivered red onion.  It should have fresh herbs, as well, but I don't have any.  And Josh doesn't like his food too herb-y anyway.  This sauce tops the chicken cutlet.

I think what I will do is add the tomato/onion to some "shredded" red leave lettuce and toss it with my balsamic vinaigrette.   I think that will be delish.

We will have sauteed green beans on the side.

This is dinner at the Saxes.  What are you having?

happy cooking

Monday, November 7, 2011

French Onion Soup II

Granted, Josh isn't home yet so I haven't had the full French Onion Soup experience yet.

But based on the little taste I just had, the work to taste ration is perfect. Maybe even better than perfect because I get a warm bowl of soup in a little bit.

I'll add a picture, but you still have to imagine the taste.

this began as a nearly full pot of sliced onions.  Wanting to add a little complexity to the onions, I used 1 sweet onion, 3 yellow onions, 2 shallots, and 6 green onions.  I decided that 1 clove of garlic really meant one full reservoir in my garlic press.

The cook times in the recipe were all off for my stove.  I do, however, know when onions are caramelized.  (Caramelization is beyond sweating.  The onions start to darken and you get this beautiful and flavorful fond on the pan.  Usually it's on the bottom, but you can see some up the sides of my Dutch oven.  You want to scrape this up  and stir it in when you add the liquids.) And I can keep an eye and an ear on my pot to know when the red wine had evaporated.  I recommend this recipe, but you need to adjust for your stove. 

This dinner will be accompanied by beautiful salads.  Josh is your basic garden peppers, cucumbers etc.  My salad is garnished with red and gold baby beets and fried goat cheese. 

I wish Josh would get home.

happy cooking

French Onion Soup

So as it starts to get cold, my mind turns to soup.  I've made my mushroom soup twice already, although I really only got to eat it once.  And, well, we really like our French Onion Soup.

Thus I have spent parts of the last four days looking for what I hope will be a fabulous recipe.

I think I found it.  It's Tyler Florence's recipe.

I know from all the other recipes that I've found, that it will take longer (significantly longer) to caramelize the onions.  I also think that I'll add more thyme.

I think that I usually prefer a French Onion Soup made with white wine and chicken stock.  Yet our favorite (I'm pretty sure) is made with red wine and beef stock...just like this recipe.  We'll see how it compares.

I do realize that this recipe serves many more than just hubby and me.  That's the purpose of a freezer.

I shall report back on the work:taste ratio tomorrow.

So I told you what we're having for dinner tonight.  How about you?

happy cooking

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mushroom soup

So this is the soup I made with Kate last week.  It is also the soup I made earlier today for my friend having ear surgery on Tuesday.  

It easy-peasy to do.

I used a leek in addition to a medium yellow onion--finely chopped.  Because I think the aesthetic of a soup is important and because I think it looks best when everything is about the same size, I chopped the mushrooms very small.

I made stock with the stems.

I still need to make my guacamole.  I did score some surgical gloves so I don't burn myself with jalapeno juice.

And, of course, clean up my kitchen.

This recipe is reprinted (w/o permission) from Epicurious.

Dinner tonight is  sammies.  How about for you?

happy cooking 

Fresh Wild Mushroom Soup

yield: Makes 4 servings

active time: 35 minutes
total time: 35 Minutes
Lynn Brown of Houston, Texas, writes: "For me, it's fun to see how much I can simplify or revise a recipe to make it my own. That's what I've done... more

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 6 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 ounces fresh oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4 cups beef broth
print a shopping list for this recipe


Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add all mushrooms and thyme; sauté until mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add brandy; stir 30 seconds, then mix in flour. Slowly stir in broth; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls.

Read More

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crispy Potato Fans

I promised a picture.  Here it is:

It's not the greatest picture, but I think you can tell that the potato is sliced. It was cheesy and crispy and altogether "good eats."  I will make it again.  It was not as difficult as it you might think.

Josh said, and I quote, "You really hit this one out of the park."  That means he liked it.

Tonight's dinner is left overs.  Parmesan Chicken Sticks to be exact.  I think I'll reheat them in the oven on parchment in an attempt to preserve whatever crispiness they have.

Tomorrow I will be preparing food for a funeral repast (guacamole), service group treat morning (pumpkin muffins or brownies...we'll see how I'm moved in the morning), and a friend who is having ear surgery next week (the mushroom soup I made last week with Kate).

Tomorrow will be a busy cooking day.  I'm not making anything more than sandwiches for our dinner.

happy cooking

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Date night--11/2/11

Hmm...Kinda a palondromic date.  I like those.

So on to food.

Appetizer:  Figs, halved and wrapped in prosciutto, accompanied by taleggio (I don't know how to spell it)...a kind of ripe Italian soft cheese and these small pizzelle-looking crackers.

Cocktail:  I need to consult Josh's drink books.  I feel it needs to be Italian-esque to fit with the rest of our cocktail hour.

Main Course:  Filet Mignon.  Maybe I'll crust in peppercorns; maybe not. Josh requested peas for his veggie.  We will also have a small salad.  And the potato--well that's where I have to stretch my culinary skills.  I have a new recipe. Crispy Baked Potato Fans from Cook's Country.  I recommend looking at it on the website.  They offer some good tips with photos.

Serves 4
To ensure that the potatoes fan out evenly, look for uniformly shaped potatoes.
Ingredients Bread Crumb Topping Potato Fans Instructions
  • 1. For the bread crumb topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground. Bake bread crumbs on rimmed baking sheet until dry, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then combine crumbs, butter, cheeses, paprika, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. (Bread crumb topping can be refrigerated in zipper-lock bag for 2 days.)
  • 2. For the potato fans: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Following photos 1 to 3 at left, cut 1/4 inch from bottom and ends of potatoes, then slice potatoes crosswise at 1/4-inch intervals, leaving 1/4 inch of potato intact. Gently rinse potatoes under running water, let drain, and transfer, sliced-side down, to plate. Microwave until slightly soft to the touch, 6 to 12 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through cooking.
  • 3. Arrange potatoes, sliced-side up, on foil-lined baking sheet. Brush potatoes all over with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until skin is crisp and potatoes are beginning to brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove potatoes from oven and heat broiler.
  • 4. Carefully top potatoes with stuffing mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Broil until bread crumbs are deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Serve.

    I'll take a picture.  Maybe I'll even post it.

    So this is my dinner plan.  What's yours?

    happy cooking.

Parmesan Chicken Sticks update

I thought they were pretty good.  Josh loved them, but then, by his admission, he loves any kind of breaded chicken.

I used a combination of Parmesan cheese and Romano.

I'm not sure about the medium-low cooking directions.  I found it necessary to cook at med to med-high. 

I also had to add a little more oil with each batch.  In the future, I think I'll skip the butter entirely.

Josh asked about a dipping sauce, so I whipped up a quick gravy.  I used one can of diced tomato with sweet onion, added a splash of red wine, some garlic powder and a little bit of dried Italian seasoning mix.  A quick mash with my potato masher, yielded a chunky but well mixed sauce.  Josh seemed pleased with the results.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My husband rocks!

I know, not a cooking themed title, but trust me, it relates.

Josh got home from work and had just passed literally hordes of costumed ghouls and goblins and princesses and Justin Beiber wannabes. 

He whisked me away for dinner and a mall crawl (where the only thing I bought were 2 new potholders). 

I had good food; good conversation; and I didn't have to cook or clean up.  Yay Josh!

Thus last night's dinner plan became today's.

happy cooking

Monday, October 31, 2011

Parmesan Chicken Sticks

Let's get this out of the way first.  I know I've been absent.  I warned you that historically I've not been good at this.  I went to the doctor on Thursday (after the Pizza post) and found out I have a sinus infection.  So I slept on Friday.  Plus Josh was home sick and playing his game on the computer.  And I didn't cook.  Nothing to share.

And I make it a point not to do much cooking on weekends.  Preparing for a marathon cooking day is always an exception.

So that gets you up to speed.

Dinner tonight is Parmesan Chicken Ina Garten creation. (Sidebar:  I once told my mom that I want to be Ina Garten when I grow up.  She told me I already am.  BEST compliment ever!)


  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts (3 to 4)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Unsalted butter
  • Good olive oil
  • Bamboo skewers (6 to 10 inches long) or ice-cream sticks


Lay the chicken breasts on a cutting board and slice each diagonally into 4 or 5 large strips.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. Beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water on a second plate. Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan on a third plate. Dredge the chicken breasts on both sides in the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and roll in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly to coat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook the chicken strips on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until just cooked through. Don't crowd the pan. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Serve each strip on a skewer or stick.
You can keep the chicken breasts warm for about 15 minutes on a sheet pan in a preheated 200 degree F oven.

 So changes I will make.  I actually have chicken tenders.  I also have Locatelli Romano cheese in addition to parm.  I will likely use a combo.  Save with Panko and my regular Italian seasoned bread crumbs.  And since we're  both adults, I'll skip the skewers.  In this episode of Barefoot Contessa, Ina was cooking for a family with 2 young daughters.  I will also make my gravy and a side of spaghetti.  Josh can't have chicken parm in any form without a side of spaghetti.  

So that's what I'm making tonight.  How about you?

happy cooking.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


First...the souffle didn't puff.  My husband is a chocaholic and ate it up.  I was very disappointed though.  Thus, no picture.  I think I've identified the problem.   I'll rectify it when I try again.  And I will try again.

So dinner tonight is homemade pizza.  I can buy the dough at Mariano's and it's not difficult to stretch and roll.  I'm not trying any fancy dough tossing, but I can make a pretty consistent oval/rectangle shape.  Pizza sauce is readily available in your market; as is mozzarella cheese.  Husband likes pepperoni. Check. I like onion. Check.

That's the plan here.  How 'bout by you?

happy cooking, kristen

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Date Night--10/26/11

So tonight is Date Night.

Appetizer:  I have just roasted most of a head of garlic. Yum.  I will serve that with melted Lingonberry preserves and crostini.  We had something similar to this at a restaurant downtown.

Cocktail:  Likely Manhattans.  Possibly Martinis.

Entree:  Josh's favorite flank steak.  This was a part of the cooking extravaganza from earlier this week.  Because neither of us really likes our meat cooked passed medium rare, we will be eating this at room temperature.  Additionally I will be making the wild mushroom and shallot "ragu" that accompanies this dish on

This will be accompanied by smashed red bliss potatoes.  I cook these in chicken stock (sometimes beef).  I think it infuses the potatoes with some extra flavor.  I also salt and pepper the potatoes while they are in the stock.  I add sour cream (a hefty spoonful for 3 lbs of potatoes) and 4-6 T butter, melted.  If the potatoes seem to need it, I whip them with my immersion blender.  I will make these ahead and keep them warm over a pot of simmering water.

I will also steam some broccoli.

Dessert:  I'm very excited about this.  I made chocolate souffles.  Individual ones.  8 of them.  And yes, this is actually a do ahead recipe.  The bake from frozen and can stay in the freezer for up to a month.  If I am pleased with the result, I will post both the recipe and a photo tomorrow.  I like knowing that I have future Date Night desserts ready.  And I know that our best friends would be happy to share as well.

That's my dinner plan.  What's yours?

happy cooking, kristen

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Day After

So here we are on Tuesday. The day after, if you will.

We finished everything that I had planned.  By  3:00!  Last knife was washed; last cutting board put away.  It was great.

So what have I done today?  Slept.  A lot.

But as I am slowly waking up again, my Date Night plan for tomorrow is coming together in my head.

What's Date Night you ask?  And why capitalized?

I prepare one at home date each week.  That means, I prepare an appetizer, cocktail, dinner, and dessert.  All the things you might have in a restaurant.  And yes, some of it was prepared yesterday.

Dinner tonight is the meatloaf I made yesterday and some kind of veggie.  Maybe peas, maybe corn.  Don't really know.

Kristen out.

happy cooking.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


So Aunt Kate (the one who is cooking with me on Monday) gave me a pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer.  I was very excited to try it.

But the recipe in the book didn't strike my fancy.  I had just seen Emeril Lagasse make fresh pasta.  (I told you I watch a lot of cooking shows.)  I wanted to make it as close to authentic as I could get.  I had already purchased some semolina flour, so last Monday I rolled up my sleeves and got started.

My technique definitely needs some honing.  My "well" of flour didn't have steep enough sides.  I was chasing eggs all over my counter.  I felt that I needed to add a little water before the dough came together.  And an additional egg.  I fear this may have made for a "gummy" dough.  It sure looked pretty though when it came time to wrap and refrigerate.

So I wait my 30 minutes, attached my attachment, and start to feed small  balls of dough into the feed.  I was so proud of myself as I fell into this rhythm where I could cut the pasta and feed more dough into the apparatus all without turning the machine off.  Problem was, as you can see from the photo, I wasn't separating the strands.  And consequently, the buccatini fused together.

All in all, the pasta tasted fantastic.  I just renamed it "blob-sta" as no amount of flour on the board or olive oil in the water could un-fuse the noodles.  We couldn't even save the leftovers.  I mean really, who wants to need a knife to eat their pasta.

So, I will try again.  I will use a different technique.  I'll try mixing the dough in my food processor.

Do you have any experience with this that you could share?  I'd appreciate any tips I can get.

happy cooking

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cooking with Kate

Kate is my Mother-in-Law's sister. She is in love with my dog. And she likes to play with my knives (I do have a pretty awesome and near complete set of Wusthof knives.)

Sonny--my dog

And she has made an appointment to cook with me. I think maybe the dog is the main draw for this, but she says she wants to be my sous chef (that would involve "playing" with my knives), so we've made a date for Monday 10/24.

Everybody (my mom, Josh's mom, my sister) says I've over-scheduled our day. I think we'll be able to handle this with few problems.

This is what we are making:
1.  Meatloaf
2.  quesadillas 
3.  sausage, pepper and onion pasta thing to be baked at a later date
4.  the "best flank steak" Josh has ever eaten
5.  mushroom soup

I'll admit that does seem a little over ambitious.  Allow me, please to explain why I think this is doable.

1.  I can marinate the steak on Saturday.  We will likely eat this without the sauteed mushrooms but sliced over a salad with the mushroom soup.
2.  I will cook the chicken on Sunday for the quesadillas.
3.  I will make my pasta sauce on Sunday (For future reference, I'm Italian...we call tomato sauce "gravy."  This is what I mean when I refer to gravy.)  I can also cook the pasta.
4.  I will saute my onions, carrots, and celery for the meatloaf on Monday morning before Kate joins and we go to the market.  I can also make the glaze (ketchup/chili sauce, cider vinegar and brown sugar) and mix some of the other ingredients.

My plan is that on returning from the market (this market deserves a post of it's own), we will mix the meatloaf and fix the quesadillas for lunch.  After lunch, we'll saute the sausage, peppers and onion for the pasta dish.  Then we'll make the soup.  When Josh get's home and is fixing us Daiquiris, I'll grill the flank steak.

With a "sous chef," the cooking, and especially the clean-up should go more smoothly.

At least, that's my plan.  I'll let you know how it goes.

happy cooking

Friday, October 21, 2011

On the Menu

Well, it's Friday. Husband (Josh) may have to work late, but I hope not.

Today I am making quesadillas for dinner. This is the easiest thing in the world to make and can be almost no-cook if that's how you roll.

cooked chicken--this could be any leftover chicken, a rotisserie bird, or you can cook it however
you like
flour tortillas
grated cheese--cheddar, jack cheese, "Mexican" blend
oil--olive, veggie, whatever you have on hand

Heat your nonstick pan to medium-high. Brush (using a pastry brush) a small amount of oil on one side of one tortilla. Put the oiled side into the pan and top with cheese and chicken. Oil a second tortilla and place on top. When the cheese has melted, flip the quesadilla. Allow the this tortilla time to brown.

You can cook these in a panini press if you have one.
You can use whatever filling you would like--veggies, steak. I tend to make "fajita" quesadillas
and use my fajita marinade on the meat.
You can top it with whatever toppings you would like: salsa, guacamole, and sour cream come to

Speaking of guacamole. I do make my own, but I cheat a little. I mash my avocados and add fresh made but store bought salsa and sour cream. If I'm feeling a fiesta coming on, I'll add garlic, cumin, lime zest and juice. Actually, the lime juice retards the browning so that's a good thing to add.

That's my dinner plan. What's yours?

happy cooking, Kristen

Thursday, October 20, 2011

So about me

I'm not going to go into the knitty-gritty of my personal life, but here are a few things I will share.

1. I am suddenly aware that I am middle-aged. I don't know when that happened. I guess it was a gradual thing, but now I have to apply an anti-wrinkle serum to my forehead daily.

2. I have MS. I don't really like to talk about it, but it does have a fairly significant effect on my life, so it's worth mentioning.

3. I watch a lot of tv. I'm not proud of this. Nor am I proud of my show selections...a lot of Disney, Nick, and food shows. I am currently addicted to Ace of Cakes.

4. I love to cook. I'm not always successful, but I like trying to learn from my mistakes. (More on that later.)

5. I'm not always good at keeping up with my blog. Please forgive me. I will try to improve.

Lastly, I'm Kristen. I dance through life with a whisk in my hand.

happy cooking.