Friday, January 29, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf and Cauliflower Gratin

I actually write my blogs in the afternoon before dinner. I find it easier. The house is quiet and I can actually hear myself think. Later, all I have to do is take pictures while I cook and reread the instructions after dinner and post it. I meant to post this last night but as the photo below shows, The Tortured Teenager took over the computer. Being that it wasn’t for Facebook or Myspace I went along. Her latest job is applying for every cent of scholarship money she possibly can. So forgive me for being late with dinner or the blog at least…

(notice how happy she is that I am taking this picture!)

Sometimes I let The Fireman decide what I should cook for dinner. I can’t make all the decisions all the time! No, really that isn’t it! I just want to know what he is craving. I do cook for him to enjoy it. This morning he teetered between a couple dishes until finally settling on Meatloaf. Mmm Meatloaf! That always takes me back to my youth. My Grandma made the most amazing Meatloaf. I didn’t even care about the dinner, just lemme have it for sandwiches tomorrow. That is my take on Turkey too. I enjoy it for dinner but for lunch. Oh! I am getting in a better mood just thinking about it.

Now I am not really sure what made my Grandmother’s Meatloaf so special. She didn’t cook with recipes and passed away before I passed the stage of knowing everything. (You know that dreaded stage! The Tortured Teenager is still in that stage if anyone has any questions you don’t know the answers to) So now all of my cooking is trying to recreate those meals I had as a nine year old. And the palate of a nine year old is different than mine. I do remember that it had Ketchup on it. Something about the sugar in Ketchup makes the perfect sauce. She did put some veggies in it but not enough to deter a nine year old. Sometimes there was Bacon in it. Sometimes there was bacon on top of it but when she did that there wasn’t any Ketchup sauce baked on top and that was always my favorite. My Mom used to put chunks of Cheddar cheese and to be honest, not too sure how I feel about that. My Mom doesn’t do the internet so my secret is safe with you!

I keep mine pretty basic. I do after all have to get the Little Baseball Player to eat it and that is a feat in itself. He hasn’t discovered that covering food you don’t like in Ketchup makes it edible. A couple of years ago I traded out all the Hamburger and Pork for Ground Turkey. The first couple of times The Fireman complained how much he wanted the old recipe back. So I then told him I went back to the old recipe but kept it ground Turkey. He didn’t even notice the difference. Now he knows the truth and it doesn’t bother him. It was getting past the mind block that it was Turkey. You have to add a little more “liquid” so that it stays moist but really it takes on the flavor and plays along. I don’t know if my Grandmother would approve of Turkey. She was an old fashioned woman with old fashioned recipes. Turkey was for Thanksgiving Day and maybe the day after.

Since I really do not want my Meatloaf for dinner tonight (remember I am saving it for the leftover sandwich) I am going to make a Cauliflower Gratin. I have viewed a million blog entries lately on the subject. All seem pretty much the same premises; blanch the cauliflower and cover with a white sauce that is laden with cheese. Most call for Gruyere buy I’m not the biggest Swiss fan. Maybe it’s the holes. I have come to terms with Blue cheese having “Blue” in it but Swiss having holes. No! My kids are just starting to appreciate good cheese. I am thinking about Cheddar and Parmesan even knowing that there is some great Muenster in the bin. Something about Meatloaf with a vegetable that is covered with cheese just screams 1970’s! I think my Grandmother would be proud!

Turkey Meatloaf
Prep time-maybe 15 minutes at the most. Bakes for an hour

½ medium onion finely diced (the finer the better so kids don’t know it’s in there)
1 glove garlic
¼ bell pepper finely diced (I have some ends leftover from fajita night)
(the finer the better so kids don’t know it’s in there)
1 TB olive oil
Cook the above ingredients in a skillet over medium heat until translucent adding the garlic to the pan last (as to not brown it.) Let cool

(see that big pepper in the middle of the pan? That's gonna be a snack!)
In a mixing bowl combine
Cooled Onion Mixture
1 pound (or whatever your grocery store packs as a pound) to 1 ½ pound of ground turkey
1 egg beaten
½ cup bread crumbs (seasoned or unseasoned is fine and I don’t measure-for me it‘s one palmful)
2 TB (really I just pour so I think it could be more) Worstershire Sauce
¼ Ketchup
1 tsp Kosher Salt
½ tsp fresh cracked pepper

Mix up with out over mixing. Put into a well sprayed/oiled/Pam-ed Loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until internal temperature reads 160. The last 30 minutes I like to add good ole Ketchup to the top of the loaf, and spread it evenly. Then resume cooking in the oven. Let sit for five minutes before cutting

Cauliflower Gratin

Prep time-maybe 15 minutes at the most & bakes for 25

1 head of Cauliflower cut up into small florets.
3 TB butter
3 TB Flour
2 TB scallions
1 very small glove of garlic crushed (I was lazy tonight and used the jarred stuff)
2 cups warm milk
2 cups your favorite cheese (I chose Cheddar and Parmesan)
1 tsp mustard
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 TB butter for Bread crumb mixture

Precook the cauliflower in salted water (it took my old stove about seven minutes) but do not over cook. You are looking for them to be firm. They will resume cooking in the oven. Drain and pour the drained cauliflower into a greased 9”x13” baking dish.
In a sauté pan (why I always use a sauté pan? Who knows? Maybe a sauce pan would work better) Met 3 TB of butter over low heat. Add the scallions and the garlic. You are not looking to add any color to them, just make them translucent so you aren’t biting into raw onions.
Add the Flour. It will become a paste of sorts. You want to let keep stirring with a wooden spoon. Don’t rush this part. You want to cook out of some of the “flour” taste.

Now, slowly add some milk, while stirring the whole time, keep adding more milk and keep stirring.

Squeeze one tsp of table mustard into this mixture and a little pepper. The cheese is salty enough so I don’t think it needs salt. You could even add some red pepper flakes if you really like it spicy or some Tabasco. Maybe next time! It will come together almost like gravy does.
My Grandmother used to say it was done when you could coat the spoon and run your finger through it. I never like doing this. I burn my finger! You know when it’s not soup but just in case you’re a blond like the Tortured Teenager…

Now it should be the perfect consistency, thick but not too thick. Take it off the heat and add all the but ½ cup of the cheese.
Pour the cheesy sauce over the cauliflower making sure to get every ounce of it. I mean don’t waste it unless you have some bread lying around to clean the pan up with.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. In a small bowl (I used a cereal bowl) take the bread crumbs and the last TB of melted butter and mix together and top on the cheese. This sandy mixture was actually my favorite and if I wasn’t considering giving up carbs for Lent, (I'm working towards it…maybe) I would have grabbed twice the amount of bread crumbs. It adds a salty top that just makes it irresistible.

Now Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Beware this dish will have you picking at the pan all night.

I could see The Fireman and I sharing the entire pan and bottle of wine. The meatloaf was good but really not necessary with the cheesy cauliflower. It played second fiddle at best! In fact, at one point we noticed the sunset, ran outside, took a picture (just so I could share) and mentioned that we would have been happy out on the patio with a candle eating this with a bottle of wine. Maybe next time! Enjoy!

Move outta the way dog! I ate too much!!!

Fine! I will go lay on the WHITE carpet that nobody is allowed on!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuna Melts and Oven Fries

It’s not that I am in a bad mood, I am just annoyed. Annoyed with the kids, annoyed with the drivers on the road, annoyed with the mess that the kids left me to clean up while they went to school. Oh but wait, they had to go to school. So ha! But the joke is really on me because the Little Ballplayer has a half day. Back to being annoyed. I was only a little annoyed until I went to Wal-Mart and then I was thrown into a full throttle pissed off, annoyed to the max. Why is it that a store can do that to a person? Does saving fifty cents on shampoo really equate to my family having to put up with my bad mood for the rest of the day. Correction, I said I was not in a bad mood, just annoyed. I’m a woman, I can change my mind like that.

The Fireman is back on duty. It is days like this that I try to make dishes that I wouldn’t serve to him. Not that he would complain. Remember he ate cold soup out of a can while we were dating. But I do try to give him wholesome meals when he is home considering he does put his life on the line while working. Plus it is a chance to torture him with my cooking. (Remember I am annoyed today so my humor is off.)

Tonight’s dinner is Tuna Melts with oven fries. The Fireman doesn’t like Tuna Melts. He has a problem with his Tuna being warmed up. The Little Ballplayer has a problem with cheese and Tuna touching each other so he will pick one or the other. Sometimes he picks half of each. I’m a short order cook after all so I aim to please! I have a love of good cheese. I love cheep cheese too. So don’t think I am snubbing my nose to Velveta (which is overpriced) or American cheese. But with Fontina and Muenster cheese, why even pull American out of the bin. Fontina and Muenster melts so nicely that it makes me feel like I am in some fancy restaurant that serves a sandwich with fancy fabric napkins and San Pellegrino water in water flutes. Maybe that make my mood better. Nah!

I am not the only one in the family that appreciates my making tuna. Our Boxer, Emma (remember I said she is a Boxer...a dog) loves Tuna and will wake from the deepest sleep when the tuna can is opened. It always amazes me that she knows the sound of a tuna can over the sound of a can of soup. She will sit, loyally in the kitchen, licking her chops, hoping to get a spoonful or the bowl to lick. If we have been away from her all day or on vacation, I will make her up her own serving (she doesn’t get it all at once, I don’t want a sick dog.) I haven’t praised her in my blog yet. They kids are used to me telling her that she is my favorite child. It is true. She doesn’t talk back and doesn’t ask to take the car or my favorite pair of shoes. She also is always happy to see me and doesn’t care what I have to say as long as I am talking to her. So tonight she will most definitely get the bowl to clean. Loyalty is big in my book. I wont preach to you the perfect tuna salad recipe because let's be honest, everyone likes their own. You may like pickle relish or chopped eggs in it. Do it to your preference. Just make sure you like it.

Making Tuna Melts really is an art. You can screw it up. Especially in my 1970 circa kitchen. (Yes I am dissing my kitchen. But that is another post.) I like to use a griddle pan. I have used a sauté pan when it is just one sandwich but when there is more than one the griddle pan works best. I like to butter the outside of the bread. Some melt butter in the pan but that doesn’t work for me. I also start with just one of the sides of the bread (cheese first) in the pan. Like an open sandwich.

And I don’t rush it by cooking it on a high heat. It isn’t a race to the end of the line. I want the cheese to melt and bread to toast just perfectly. Then I add the next layer, the other open face layer which is the tuna side. I don’t start it as early as the cheese side.

Now I’m a good Irish girl. I love my potatoes. I rate them up there pretty high. I pick them over rice, over any other vegetable. Potatoes are supreme in my book. I am also not getting any younger (yes I am) so I do need to watch the excess fat. Frying them in the oven in a tad of Olive Oil definitely helps. Taking them off the carb list would help more. I start with scrubbing the potato because dirt is really the only flaw the potato has. And then I proceed to cut them into perfect strips (skins on because I need the vitamins.) Now I like to spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray but only because Costco lied when I bought my cookie sheets and the food sticks. Then I like to drizzle a little, ok a lot of Olive oil over them, turning each one over, making sure that each potato is covered with oil. Next, seasoning. This depends on my mood. Tonight, I’m a little spicy so I sprinkled a little Lemon Pepper (ok a lot) and some garlic salt. But Season Salt and Pepper would have been nice too. And into a 450 degree oven for 25 minutes or less if your oven was built before the depression (mine wasn’t!)

Dinner! Well at least for for the Tortured Teenager and myself!

Grilled Cheese for The Little Ballplayer

Monday, January 25, 2010

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato sauce with butter and onion & Pizza Dough

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato sauce with butter and onion

I am not impressed easily. And if you know me, you know it’s true. I have seen this recipe in a number of blogs. Racheleats is one. Rachel is in Rome. Rome for God sake! I want to eat in Rome. I don't even want to cook in Rome, just eat. She is cooking in Rome and she uses this recipe. But it was reading smittenkitten that made me laugh. Ok I’ll try it. But I will make pizza dough so if it sucks it won’t be a loss.

So I threw it all in the pot, left it on a low enough heat that I could jump in the shower and then came back to this velvet amazement! You really don’t need all that basil and garlic. Not this one time. Save it for another recipe. And I must beg you to get San Marzano tomatoes. You can tell the difference when you open the can. They smell different. Sweeter. They do take salt different.

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato sauce with butter and onion
1 28 oz can San Marzano Tomatoes (whole if you can find but I only had crushed)
1 med onion peeled and halved
5 TB butter

Simmer 45 minutes

Now another blog I am obsessed with is In Praise of Leftovers and maybe it’s because her husband is a firefighter too (in another state altogether) or it’s just because I like her recipes. She makes pizza a I mean a lot! I make pizza a lot but not from scratch. I can look up to some one that makes it from scratch! I’m gonna make it from scratch tonight. Good Lord help me! I have a bread maker, some where. I used to use it all the time. The Fireman teases me about neglecting my bread maker.

But I am making In Praise of Leftover’s pizza dough which I think is from November 2009 Gourmet magazine (must obey all copyright laws)

Best Pizza Dough
3 3/4 c. bread flour (or all-purpose)
2 1/2 Tb. fast-acting yeast (2 packets)
3/4 ts. salt
1 ts. sugar
1 1/3 c. room temperature (about 72 degrees) water
olive oil for the pans and stretched dough
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon, mix until blended, about a minute. The dough might be a bit stiffer than other pizza dough’s you’ve made. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for about 2 minutes, until it’s smooth. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 500. Oil one 13×18 baking sheet and one half that size. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape 2/3 the dough onto an oiled pan in one piece. Starting at one end, gently pull and stretch dough across the surface of the pan, and use your hands to press it evenly out to the edges. If the dough sticks to your fingers, lightly dust it with flour or coat your hands with oil. Pinch any holes together. Repeat with the second smaller piece.

Where I deviated from the recipe;
I did not turn the dough onto a floured surface. I kneaded the dough first in the bowl until it came together and then on the counter top remembering a famous French Chef that stated that the extra flour makes the dough tough. No extra flour was necessary. Even The Tortured Teenager was amazed and questioned me when I started on an un-floured surface.
Next, I placed the dough into a greased bowl and covered it with a towel to double.

Tonight’s Pizza has caramelized onion, mozzarella cheese, roasted garlic, Artichoke hearts and Parmesan cheese on it…oh and of course…that amazing sauce we made earlier.

The kids had sauce with cheese. I skimped on cheese and I should have used more. The crust was amazing. Almost like a puff pastry. Light and airy. I’m impressed and again that doesn’t happen very easily.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Orange Cake

It has been raining for the last week and yesterday was the first day of sunshine. It is due to rain any minute again. You won't hear me complain because I want our lakes to fill up so we can play all summer long. We live ten minutes away from the beach and somehow I ended up being a lake person. It may have something to do with our beaches being so dang cold. And I am not exaggerating when I say cold. 60 degrees in the summer is just a tad cold when the air is maybe in the 80's. So for me, the beach may be pretty to look at but I prefer the lake.

But today's obsession is Oranges. The Orange trees in our back yard is bursting with some sort of Orange. They are about the same size as the Clementines that I just bought at the store. But they are so juicy that you must and I mean, I require you to eat them over the sink. For you will have them dripping all over the place. They also have so much more flavor than the store variety.

I was giddy while filling the largest kitchen bowl I had. I even scrubbed them with the intent on zesting what didn't get stuffed into my face. In fact, I am not sure how the store bought variety has them so polished. We just had seven days of rain and you would have thought it rained mud on my Orange tree. And how does Florida grow their Oranges the exact same size? Mine are from the size of a lime (but still yummy) to the size of a grapefruit.

We also have a lemon tree but I was only able to maybe get ten lemons off it. I am already planning what to do with those. Lemons are easier for me to decide what to do with. Oranges on the other hand, I draw a blank with. Other than a cake, fresh squeezed Orange Juice or maybe some Orange Custard, I draw a loss.

I like to make cakes but to be quite honest I think there are two type of cooks; bakers or cooks. I like bake but I prefer to cook. I am such a controlled person that cooking is the one place that I let it loose. Baking is just too rigid. It is a science. You can't really eye ball baking. So I cheat at baking a lot. I buy cake mixes. Betty Crocker has it down so why screw up a good thing? Don't get me wrong, I still mess around with the recipe and make it mine as with the recipe below but I start with the good ole standby. And I am not the fussy baker. I throw all the ingredients into mixing bowl and put the mixer on. I am sure my Grandmother is shaking her head up in heaven but I haven't the time to add one egg at a time. I think a man came up with that nonsense at any rate to keep the house wife busy. I'm just saying!

Orange Cake
1 yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup fresh squeezed Orange juice (or the store variety will work)
1 vanilla instant pudding mix (small size)
1/2 cup oil
zest of two oranges

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Pour evenly into the pan and bake for 60 minutes. Let cool completely before you tap onto serving plate. Top with Orange Rum Glaze.

Orange Rum Glaze
Heat over medium heat
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup fresh squeezed Orange juice (again the store variety will work)
1/2 cup sugar
zest of one Orange
Bring to a boil and boil for five minutes. Carefully pour 1 TB Orange Liquor or Orange Rum into Sugar mixture. Let cool for a couple of minutes before you spoon over cake (I like to let it cool to almost thickened to the point of needing to be reheated. And I have had to reheat due to letting it cool too long so don't freak out.)


Thursday, January 21, 2010


So my cooking started on a high note. And a very high note at that. I am completely and utterly obsessed with The Pioneer Woman's Blog . I have to read it every day. It is a piece to my past. No, I didn't grow up on a cattle ranch, and no I am not married to a rancher but it reminds me of living in the middle of nowhere. It puts me back into the good memories that I thought I didn't even have of living in po dunk no where. There is something about her that reminds me of my Grandmother. And she is my age so may she not take offense to that statement. Maybe it is her strength. Maybe it is that she cooks an awful lot of food that my Gram used to make. Anyhow, I like her, and it takes a lot for me to like anyone. Remember, I gravitate to bitchy.

I am a Virgo. The Fireman is a Virgo too. If you know anything about Virgos, we are perfectionist, very organized, and almost anal about our schedules. I am not a 'fly by the seat of my pants" type of girl. I plan everything. I sit down and make a menu for two weeks of what I plan to cook, make a grocery list and then proceed to shop. The Fireman is very supportive as he too likes this structure. Or maybe he just likes that there is food in the house...After all, I did marry his stomach!

For lunch today, I tried to new recipe. It was one of The Pioneer Woman's. It's her husband's favorite sandwich. Today I made it almost to the letter of the recipe. I was a little bit apprehensive about the amount of butter in it. In the end, I must bow to the Pioneer Woman queen, more butter would have made it better. I will though, end up making it my own. The Fireman and I were quickly stuffing it in our mouths and saying that it needs a little "Fireman" touch. That will be posted next time I make it. After all, I did plan this out and bought enough to make it twice. But for now, this recipe is good enough to pass along... so here is the link;

Now on to the ugly. The Tortured Teenager and I crave Tangerine Beef from this amazing restaurant, Ming Dynasty. It is to die for. But I have this "thing" about trying to cook at home. So I scoured recipes until I got one I thought was a winner off the Food Network. I love Guy Fieri. I am addicted to his shows. He is a Northern California boy (I'm originally from there too.)The reviews were great. I don't know what happened. Somewhere I screwed it up. It smelled like sorta like it should but it looked more like I should have had broccoli in it and called it Beef and Broccoli. It lacked that sticky sweet syrup that it should have had.

But there's always dessert...and I don't even like dessert. But we ate lunch really late so dessert and a glass of wine will suit me just fine. It is after all Thursday and I don't know how I will fit in all this TV that is on tonight. But that is another story...

In PraiseofLeftovers the other day was talking about some Blondies she made. Now I haven't made Blondies in years. I have a great, easy, fool proof recipe (and I haven't even looked to see if it's the same.) This recipe came from Denise G. who made them for us one Christmas as part of a goodie plate she brought down to us when we were neighbors. I was hooked. It became a staple in my Christmas baking (sadly a couple years ago I stopped doing mass baking and I forget why) but they are to die for. They have pecans in them but I chop them up so fine that even the Tortured Teenager doesn't complain too much.

Denise G's. Blondies
6 TB Butter
1 3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups pecans coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13"x9" pan and line with foil and then grease foil. Trust me, I have neglected to do this and paid the fine in the end.
In a sauce pan melt butter over low heat. Be patient. You do not want to do this over a warmer heat as when you add the eggs, you will have scrambled eggs. Remove from stove and stir in brown sugar and vanilla and then eggs until blended. In another mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. stir sugar mixture into the flour mixture and combine until blended. Add the pecans and spread evenly into the pan. Bake 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean that is inserted into the center of the pan. Blondies will become firmer as they cool. Cool completely before cutting.

Note, these would be wonderful with toffee piece or even chocolate chips.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mad Woman!

I am going MAD...or maybe I am already mad...leftover mad? Oh hell with it! I'm just plain bitchy. Ok. That sounds better. The unsociable me is alive and well today. And my car survived the Tortured Teenager last night so I guess I have plenty to be thankful for. I am supposed to at an awards dinner tonight. It's a big deal in the Fireman's world but I am trying desperately to convince him to play hooky and take me to dinner instead. The brats have caught wind of it and are trying desperately to come along, so I guess I am off to the award dinner after all. Or am I? I am mystery woman.

Dinner is out of a box tonight. I know, I know. I should be ashamed of myself. But there is leftover homemade fried chicken in the fridge and mashed potatoes. I know, I neglected to post a recipe or picture. I told you, I bitchy. But I promise you, it is nothing a good glass of wine cant fix.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Raining Holiday

Mother Nature is friggin mad! It is raining, it has been raining and it will be raining for the remainder of the week. A tree fell right across the street from us. Rains good. I love what rain signifies in our family...summer, lake, fun and lots of good memories. But that's another story for another time. Rainy days make me feel nostalgic and almost calm. I could just sit looking out the window thinking all day.

The Tortured Teenager and I are sucking down Alfredo noodles for breakfast. Mind you, it isn't breakfast time either but both of us are in need some of some comfort. Noodles with cheesy Alfredo doesn't get any closer. She must really need comfort because she has a coffee cake in the oven too. Doubt she will eat it after the noodles. I cant even finish my noodles... I'm getting better at pushing away from the food when a little full instead of eating until I'm stuffed. Sugar treats aren't my weakness anyways. That's the Teenager's vice.

I could live in the kitchen. Chopping onions is not a chore and smashing garlic is almost an aphrodisiac. I get giddy when looking through all the blogs and the recipes. I have links saved for enough dinners for years to come. I'm so lucky that the Fireman loves everything I make and is always asking what's for dinner with this look in his eyes like a kid in a candy shop. Early in the marriage he would choke down what ever I made and smile. Hell, what ever I made had to be better than what he lived on, cold soup and cheese sandwiches.

In a time of so many failed marriages and lonely people, I can't help but feel grateful for finding my soul mate. And I know, now I've lost you readers...blah blah blah. But really the Fireman is the only thing I need. The kids can grow up, move away and I still have my best friend. I hope my kids find that some day.

I have friends. I great friends. Friends that have been in my life for decades. That have seen me at my worst and my best. I have new friends too. But, it's hard for me to make friends. I find I'm not as friendly as I used to be. I'm not as outgoing as the Tortured Teenager. I don't like sharing like I did in my twenties. I just don't like opening my heart to people like I used to. I've been hurt too many times. I notice my Little Ball Player is the same way. He wears his emotions on his sleeve but carries his world close to his heart. Hmmm wonder if he got that from me? The Tortured Teenager is tough. She wears no emotions on her sleeves. She is like a good poker player. She is going to make an amazing lawyer someday. I on the other hand, come off as a raging bitch when I try to put my poker face on. LOL

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chicken Alfredo

I guess I was a little bored yesterday. It's not like I didn't have floors to clean, laundry to do, and a ton of running around. I just felt like cooking. My sixteen year old daughter loves Alfredo. And to think back to it, so do I. There are some great memories of my best friend and I sitting in a chain Italian restaurant, dipping bread into a bowl of Alfredo sauce. Talking the gossip for hours. I wanted that comfort. So off to my kitchen I went. There is something to be said about fresh grated Parmesan. The smell of it is just...amazing. Sometimes I think I should have been Italian. I love it. Don't get me wrong, I'm a good little Irish girl, who loves her potatoes as much as the Virgin Mary but Italian food is a close second in my heart.

Alfredo is very simple to make. In fact, in the time you can open up a jar of the store bought stuff, doctor it up (which is what I used to do) you can make it home made. Just refrain from eating it from the pan before the noodles are even done (guilty) because you will want all that extra sauce for the noodles. I fry up some chicken tenders (dredge them in seasoned flour first) and then add them to the finished dish. But the kids always tell me I could forget the meat all together. Silly kids. I have tweaked this down to the most favorable with out using cream. I have tried it with less fattening milk and it just isn't as good so just will yourself that you may need to do a little extra at the gym the next morning. I do not have a picture as we were not as organized this time and ate it before I could remember that I have a blog.

Penne Alfredo
1 lb Penne Rigato Pasta (whole wheat is good too)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 small onion minced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cup flour
3 cup (approx) whole milk
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Start boiling your water for pasta. The Pasta will cook while you make the sauce.
Sweat the onions in a little olive oil. Do not brown the onions. You want to cook them but not add any color so do this over medium heat and be patient. Add the garlic when the onions are just done. You do not want to brown the garlic as it makes it bitter. Add butter to the pan and let it melt. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and using a whisk incorporate it. It will make a paste. Add the milk, slowly. Keep stirring the entire time. You may need to add more or less milk. I eye ball it. When it is a gravy consistency, turn off the heat and add all the cheese. Your pasta should be ready to drain, add it to the sauce and serve.
I add chicken and sometimes vegetables.
I like to pour it into a casserole dish and add some bread crumbs to the top, cook in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Do not over cook it in the oven.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Taco Tuesdays are legendary in my house. In fact my kids will stage a coup if I neglect to live up to it. Living in California, especially so close to southern California, Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen. You can find one on every corner and if that's not enough, there are taco trucks too. Normally I will pick up a container of salsa from Burrito Loco. There's is good. Not too spicy and not too bland. But yesterday I was inspired to make my own. It cant that hard. The hole town is doing it after all!

It was AMAZING! Never again will I ever buy it. So easy to make. Took minutes. I did it in the morning. I hear it is better after it sits for a while.

So here is my recipe. You will notice that the amounts are not precise. You may need another jalapeño or more salt. So make sure you have a spoon ready for lots of tasting (I mean you have to taste the product....mmmm where are those chips?)


I large can of peel tomatoes
1-2 jalapeños seeded and roughly chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic (I used 2 because they were small)
1/2 onion roughly chopped
handful cilantro
1 tsp kosher salt
juice of one lime

throw it all in the food processor until mixed well

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Not your kids Beefy Mac n Cheese

I'm feeling almost domestic lately. As I need to plant a garden, paint a mural, or cook. And that is what I have been doing all after noon. Not that what I made took hours. But I've been....mulling... almost, in the kitchen. Going from Laptop to kitchen back and forth. And part of it is the sheer inspiration from reading my fellow bloggers. And part of it is my family rooting me on everyday with what I cook. Having my son write on my Facebook wall how much he enjoyed my dinner was pretty special. My recipes are not special. In fact, after reading so many blogs lately, I have come to see how just average my food it.

In fact, I made a huge blunder in my cooking today. I can hear my grandmother in my ear whispering how baking is a science. I ran out of flour in the middle of making a basic chocolate cookie. In my impatience I substituted oatmeal. Baked and while pulling them out of the oven, The Fireman looked at me puzzled "what happened to them?" And knowing the answer, hearing my grandmother...I knew! Not every substitution is equal. They tasted just fine, but looked a little thin. Not that my kids wont eat them.

I have other amazing news to report. My anti-cheese eating son decided he liked it again. Mind you, he did pick a more expensive cheese to try. Fontina is not the cheapest. He surprised me with asking for a little off the freshly grated pile. I was so surprised when he liked it that I dived into the cheese stash and had him try some Irish cheese. Again, he liked it. Not as much as the fontina. There is hope for him after all!

Tonight's dinner is inspired by theperfectchef. She had a rotini pasta dish yesterday on her blog. This is not her recipe as this is not as sophisticated as hers (and I can't wait to cooks hers) but this is what my grandmother would have made in the winter. Or this is what I remember her making as she had a habit of not cooking with recipes. And I am sure that the cheese I used was more cultured than what was available back in the seventies. I'm pretty sure she would have used Velveta. I used
rotini pasta and I am pretty sure that grandma would have used macaroni.

The amazing thing about pasta is that the recipes are as easy to change (unlike my cookie recipe) I used ground turkey but Italian sausage would have been wonderful. I used a jar of my favorite sauce (vodka) but a can of tomatoes would have sufficed. I used Fontina cheese but Gouda or even white cheddar would have been yummy. I was trying to keep the cheese flavor down for the non cheese eater but now that he has joined us you can be sure I will be ladling food with cheese again

Not your kids Beefy Mac n Cheese

1 lb ground turkey seasoned (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning) and cooked with one onion chopped and one glove of garlic chopped. While cooking I boiled and cooked one pound of pasta. In another pan I melted 4 TB butter and cooked 1/2 cup of flour into it. It makes this pasty mess but let it cook for a minute to get the flour taste out of it. Add slowly four cups of milk and keep stirring. It will thicken up into almost a gravy consistency. Take off the heat and add 8 oz of your favorite cheese and one jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce. Add the pasta and the meat and pour into a greased baking dish. I covered my with 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 till melted and warm. About 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Missing trees

On my morning walk through Waller Park, I found myself aching for the mountains that I spent my childhood in. It amazes me that I couldn't wait to trade it all in for track homes. As a child I wanted to live in a neighborhood where there were tons of kids to play with. I felt cheated. I felt it was unfair to walk two miles to get to the bus stop just to ride another thirty minutes to school. I hated all the weather changes. Hated that first sign of winter. Despised the feel of that crisp air. It was wrong to force a child to experience fresh air, after all!! Now I just want to go back to having acres apon acres of space between me and my neighbors. All those things I complained about as a child now are the things I ache to get back. And as I walked through all those trees, looking up at the sun and it's beams coming through the trees, I feel cheated now. City life just doesn't compare to the landscape of mountains and trees...Trees! Uh its just something we dont have alot of naturally here on the Central Coast. There are trees but they are planted, on purpose. And having neighbors really is over rated. Yes, you can borrow sugar but also get to hear all of their laundry. When did I become so...unsociable? When did aging make me so sarcastic and jaded? And it's not just me, The Fireman has become down right obnoxious at times with his sarcasm. Does aging give me a carte blanche to say what I want regardless of the consequences? I've become somewhat of a bitch. Maybe...just maybe I can blame it on my lack of being socialized as a child. Ahh this is great! Forcing me to live as a child in the middle of no-where has made me into the woman I am today! I guess it's really not my fault after all!

New House

I think my nose might be broken. And no not the broken that requires a doctor. We moved recently. I gained 1500 sq feet which is amazing. But I lost my brand new, newly designed by me, by scratch, kitchen. It was traded in for 70's retro nightmare. Electric stove in gold, original double electric ovens in gold and an original dishwasher. I have gotten used to but, haven't stopped complaining about the stove and ovens. And I really dont mind the dishwasher. It cleans the dishes but is a little smaller than the newer one I left behind in the old house.
So back to why my nose must be broken. The last two mornings The Fireman has had the habit of smelling the coffee cups. Each and every one. Then he proceeds to pick one out and rinse it over and over. Dry and re smell. He claims they smell like detergent. I smell them and proceed to fill with coffee. So the only thing I can think of, is that my daughter is using too much dishwasher detergent in the very old machine. Or, my nose is broken...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pork Loin, Chili Rice and Sauted Broccoli with almonds

Not another Manic Monday

One of my kids went back to school today. Have I mentioned the happy dance I did this morning? Christmas break is always hard for me. I dont mind summer breaks since it is warm and we are always on the go. But Winter break, NO THANK YOU! Two weeks is just too long. And I swear that the closer to Christmas, the more rotten the kids get too. Then after Christmas it is just chaos. Thankfully the chaos has come to an end. Hello Monday! You are my new best friend!

Tonight I made Pork Loin roast, broccoli and my favorite, Chili Rice. Chili rice always reminds me of risotto. I have tried and I have successfully killed risotto so this is as close to it as I get. Now I believe in giving credit for those recipes that I make and tonight's Chili Rice is from my old (old being that we have moved and not her age)neighbor Donna. The Pork Lion is my own concoction. Although this time I bought a loin roast instead of the cheaper shoulder. I will stick with the shoulder in the future. I prefer the juicy roast to the dryer version. My husband likes his food dead and burnt so he loved the roast. Tonight's broccoli is a Food Network recipe that I doctored up. I cant help it. I have to make them my own.

Donna's Chili Rice

2 cups cooked rice
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 small can Ortega chili's

combine all ingredients and pour into a pyrex bowl that has been sprayed with non fat cooking spray. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes.

Sauted Broccoli with Almonds

1 bag of pre-cut pre-washed broccoli
1/2 cup of slivered almonds
1 clove of garlic chopped
4 TB butter
juice of one lemon
Parmesan cheese to top

toast almonds in a pan until golden brown. Remove from pan. Melt butter, brown garlic (not too much color) and then add broccoli. Brown broccoli. Once browned, add lemon juice and 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook until fork tender (I like mine browned but the the broccoli a little crisp) add almonds and top with Parmesan cheese.

Reviews tonight were raving on the broccoli. The Fireman hoped that I would do it with other veggies, maybe some green beans or sugar snap peas.

As usual The Little Ball Player didn't eat much of dinner. I know...some day he will eat me out of the house.

Have I mentioned how obsessed I have become with Blogger? Who knew all the amazing Blogs out there that are based on the entirely same premise as mine. I have read so many amazing recipes in the last couple days and I can wait to try them all, and of course blog about it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Soyrizo & eggs

With the The Fireman being on duty, I am off the hook for cooking so to speak! The kids still eat, but it seems kinda stupid to cook a five course meal for two and half people. Being that The Little Ball Player really doesn't eat. Or he does but only if the main ingredient is Crap!

And it is a good thing that I didn't make a New Year's resolution to eat healthier, because The Tortured Teenager and I had chips and dip for lunch. And yes, I do plan on working out tomorrow morning. So you will most likely hear how much out of shape I am, in tomorrows blog.

Don't get me wrong, I do eat healthy. But it seems to be either all of nothing with me. I am trying to do things in moderation this year instead of do or die.

So, on that note, I will be making Soyrizo and eggs for dinner tonight. You will not hear me brag about soy very often. In fact, I think most of it tastes like cardboard. But Soyrizo is amazing. If you have ever had Chorizo, then you know all about the unmentionables that are in it. In fact, I cant bring myself to eat it anymore. I mean, if you can make a hotdog without all the by-parts then why cant you make Chorizo the same. I was very surprised when my health food nut friend suggested it to me. Give it a try. Even the junk food addict in the house likes it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Turkey Pot Pie

I kinda got my holidays confused. I made a turkey for New Year's eve. The one night I should have been making lobster or steak, and I made a turkey. And really I only did it for the turkey sandwich. It was only a little bird so really there wasn't much for leftovers. Being that I am trying to cook more and eat out less, I guess I better cook something.

Turkey Pot Pie

1 can Cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
2 cups turkey-cubed
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
pepper to taste

put all in a Pyrex backing dish

cover with
1 1/2 cup Bisquick mix
1 cup milk
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic salt
melt 2 Tb butter and pour evenly over batter
bake 350 for 40 minutes

The Fireman said it was "damn good" and The Little Ball Player didn't particularly like but he hasn't discovered food yet.
Now to be quite honest, it was good but I only made it because there wasn't enough turkey left for all of us to have sandwiches again.
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