Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Need ideas

I know this is a foodie blog, which one would think, I suppose, means I have all the answers. I know I own The Joy of Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, one would think I'd have all the recipes and ideas I could ever possibly need.

But I'm chicken. Or rather I have chicken. I have two whole chickens in the freezer. I have no idea how to cut up a chicken. Not a clue. Even though detailed directions, complete with pictures, are in The Joy of Cooking.

So I need ideas on cooking chicken other than roasting the whole bird. And preferably without having to cut it before hand.

Maybe I should just shore up my courage and give it a go.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Feeling a little stupid.

I was at our health food store this afternoon. The book I'm reading "Eat This and Live for kids" by Dr. Don Colbert, has convinced me to eat healthy.  I have spent more on fresh fruits and vegetables in the past month than I have for a very long time.

Dr. Colbert talks about supplements and how important they are because our food is not as healthy as it once was. He also talks about the importance of eating organic as much as possible.

My personal Dave Ramsey won't allow me to buy only organic as much as I might like to.  In light of this, I prayed that God would give me wisdom in how to feed my family. That He would guide my food purchases.

That brings me to being at our health food store this afternoon. I wasn't there to buy organic but I knew they carried some organic fruit and vegetables. I also know they charge you an arm and a leg and pay through the nose.

And that is just darn painful!

This afternoon, I purchased 3 organic oranges, 5 apples and 5 bananas. I bought the girls a good multi-vitamin.  I kept finding things that I wasn't intending to purchase but when I saw them, I knew it was something we needed.

That is NOT a bad thing. What makes it a bad thing is when you have cash. And you ONLY work with cash. It's a bad thing when you have other purchases to make and spend almost all your cash on organics and supplements.

Hence my feelings of abject stupidity.  I realized at supper that I had prayed about the food issues. While I'm not saying "God told me to buy those items even when I might be a bit short for other needs", I think I could almost say that. I bought things we needed, things that will help improve our health.  When I realized that I had prayed I decided and announced to my family that I was finished wallowing in my stupidity.

Which is a good thing.

Except I can't seem to stop thinking about it and dwelling on my feelings of stupidity. I just had 2 Corinthians 10:5 flit through my mind, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ." While I can't say God told me to buy them, I can take my feelings of stupidity and make them obedient to Christ.

Culvers, Dr. Colbert and Chicken

Last night we had one last hurrah dinner out. I had not dined out for the previous two weeks, choosing instead to eat more healthy food at home.

I was somewhat surprised when I bit into my Culvers cheeseburger, that it really had little flavor. The fries? Oh my. Don't even go there. They tasted like cardboard...or at the very least chemically induced food product. I am sure at some time or other those fries started off as a good healthy potato, but last night I wasn't even sure they could truthfully be called "food".

I'm reading "Eat This and Live for Kids" by Dr. Don Colbert with Dr. Joseph Cannizzaro.  I started it about a month ago and that is what has really kicked me into gear for eating healthy. I don't think we necessarily ate horribly unhealthy before, but there was definite room for improvement.  This book is simply chock full of good tips.  I won't spoil it all now, I'll wait for the review but I have learned so much!

We are now consciously eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. I'm not sure I'm always getting in the vegetables, but considering I didn't eat them before, any amount is better. I have eaten so much fruit in the past few weeks I am positive I will turn into a piece of fruit if I eat another one.

I have often heard that the nutrients of our fruit and fresh vegetables are in the skin. I have stopped peeling my potatoes and carrots. I don't peel apples, grapes, peaches, plums or pears. But I read last night in the book, if I don't buy organic (and really who can afford to all the time exclusively buy organic?), I should peel them. Because the skin is where most of the contaminants are located.

This book that in the beginning filled me with such a longing to eat healthy, cook healthy and ditch not only fast-food but all restaurant fare for one month, is leaving me wondering if there is any way to really eat healthy at home. Yes I can do what I can to cook healthy food. But if our "healthy" food is so contaminated, why bother? If I'm going to get contaminated food whether or not I eat healthy, what is the difference? Other than processed food isn't even real food at all.

I have started shopping at Sams to save some money. And thus far I've not noticed a huge savings, but I just started too. Dr. Colbert says one should shop every couple of days, if not every day. Our food should be consumed the day we buy it. For me, that isn't really feasible, which I know lets me off the proverbial hook, but still I wonder.

Our local grocery stores are hideously expensive. I shop in  nearby town at Sams and spend less than half  of what I spend shopping locally for a month. I shop and purchase enough food for one month, (not counting milk and extra fruit/fresh vegetables I buy mid-month) and I spend less than I spend when I shop locally for 2 weeks. To me it makes sense to shop there. But I can't drive 3 hours round trip every day.

I seem to have fallen into a Dave Ramsey/Dr. Colbert conundrum.

Last night, feeling discouraged I prayed that God would show me how to cook healthy foods for my family. He alone knows my true financial state, He knows whether or not I can really afford all the supplements Dr. Colbert (who has no vested interest in the supplements) recommends.

Tonight, we're having chicken. I am not sure how I'm going to fix it yet. I could roast it, but there has to be a different way to cook it. I have no idea how to cut up a whole chicken. Julia Child in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, gives a tutorial complete with pictures, but I'm not sure. And if I did manage to cut it up, the only other way I know to cook chicken is to fry it. And I already know that isn't healthy.

So if you have any whole chicken recipes, I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Julia Child failed me.

Horribly. Miserably. In my time of need, she failed me.  She let me down.

I needed a good recipe for homemade noodles and she failed me. I searched Mastering The Art of French Cooking, I searched under every heading I could think of to search, I searched "noodles", "egg" "egg noodles", and "spaghetti" to no avail.

But Irma Rombauer saved the day and my supper plans. She had the recipe for egg noodles. Which I made into spaghetti noodles. And I learned one thing...

I make a mess when I make noodles.

I used wheat flour, since it is healthier than white. I did add an extra egg because the flour was more dense and I was having trouble getting the dough to ..well....dough. 

I also made my own spaghetti sauce. I simmered it all afternoon and it was quite tasty and the aroma was out of this world. 

To increase our vegetables, I added some cut up carrots, celery and tomatoes to the sauce. To round out our meal, I made steamed mixed vegetables. 

Sugar anyone?

"Many children are supersizing their sodas and getting about 24 teaspoons PER SERVING." (emphasis mine) ~Dr. Don Colbert M.D. in Eat This and Live for Kids

Just how much is 24 teaspoons?

"Many children are supersizing their sodas...." and... on Twitpic

A test!

I am reading Eat This and Live for Kids.  I got the book to read and review on my blog. I've already been in contact with the author about a recommendation in the book and he is changing it!  

The author, Dr. Colbert, states we are "over fed and undernourished".  He also says at birth, there are over 200 toxic chemicals in umbilical cord blood.   And it gets worse from there.  He also states that in his practice his first "prescription" is "water". He says:
I often tell patients that when they have a headache, the don't have a Tylenol deficiency. When they have joint pain, they don't have an Advil deficiency. When they have heartburn, they don't have a Pepcid deficiency , and if they are depressed, they don't have a Prozac deficiency. In each of these cases, the body is often crying out for water. I treat every patient I see in my practice first with water.
I know I drink adequate amounts of water (and I still suffer almost daily from headaches from the pit) but my girls don't. I'm not sure about Russ. 

So we have started on a health quest. For the month of October, we will not be dining out for ANY reason. I have been stocking up on fruits and veggies. For the most part we eat healthy already. We eat out only about once a week, and I don't cook from a box.   We will also be consuming more water on a daily basis. 

I want to see how we feel after cutting all the junk out, I think we're all so used to feeling bad, we don't know what "good" feels like anymore.  

I will, of course be blogging about this too.  You can either join our journey vicariously, or you can join us in your home. If you do, I'd love to hear how it is working for you! 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Irma Rombauer's Pancakes.

Once again I completely forgot to set anything out for supper.  So this afternoon it was scramble time, time to decide if I am going to quick thaw something out, or scrounge something.

I am not a huge pancake fan. Nope. Generally Russ makes them for breakfast on Saturday mornings and I eat an egg.  Lately I've been thinking about pancakes though. Not like all the time, but I don't know, it's almost like I'm kind of missing them.

Tonight we had pancakes. There was nothing I needed to set out. I had all the ingredients. And was quick and easy.

Usually we make Betty Crocker's Pancake recipe but tonight I was in search of something a little different, and yes I do know, it's hard to be different with pancakes.

I used Irma Rombauer's Joy of Cooking pancakes. I think the recipe is about the same and the taste was very similar.

But it fed my pancake craving for today. So I'm good.

I think the first few cooked funny. Almost look like Charlie Brown's shirt. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Banana Bread

was a flop. A complete flop.

It seems I can't remember to add ONLY the amount of bananas. I usually just mash what I have and add it all. Today it was two cups, when the recipe only called for one cup.

It just doesn't get done. The outside looks wonderful and the inside is done...if you like your banana bread soft and by that I mean REALLY soft.

So needless to say, no pictures of that. Now of the hat I made......check out http://see-it-take-it-make-it.blogspot.com/2010/09/finished-it.html


I made one of our favorite one dish meals. We combine sausage, hashbrown potatoes, eggs and cheese. One pan of ultimate deliciousness.

I made it Thursday night.  And spent Friday in bed, longing for death. Honestly. My dear man asked before he took the girls with him, "Is there anything you need?"

And my response was "Death."

So needless to say my weekend was rather food- and cooking free. But now that I am again fully entrenched in the land of the living, I am chomping at the bit to cook something.

I have some very bad bananas that I will be turning into a bit of banana bread. I can't wait.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The best laid plans often go awry.

Ain't that the truth?!!! I made a roast, with carrots, celery, onion and potatoes. New yukon gold potatoes. I'm talking NEW potatoes. Just picked on Sunday afternoon.

It wasn't done. And I don't mean it was a little pink. I mean it wasn't done, it WASN'T done!  We had sandwiches.

(Which makes me laugh because recently a fast food restaurant had on their sign "sandwitchs")

No picture

But man oh man was it good. If I thought I could pull it off, I might be tempted to make my own recipe book.

The other night I loosely, very loosely followed the recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking when I made roast chicken. You can see it here.  By "loosely" I mean, I look at her recipe and followed it..only as far as setting the oven temperature. After there it was all me. I just didn't have time to baste the chicken every 5 minutes.  But it still turned out lovely.

But we had a lot of leftovers. I think Russ was a little tired of eating leftover roast chicken for lunch because he asked me yesterday, "Can't you do anything with that chicken?" I told him I thought I probably could, and inside I only mildly panicked.

I had Ariana, my oldest, make rice. To say she was thrilled would be an understatement along the lines of, "It's cold in Nebraska in December". Instead of using salt, I had her add one tablespoon chicken bouillon. I steamed some mixed frozen vegetables and the leftover chicken.

I combined the vegetables and chicken, added some butter, pepper, some mozzarella, pepper jack and cheddar.

It was stupendous!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Picture Post!!!

If a picture's worth a thousand words.....My supper makes me a millionaire!!!

First course:


The Chicken. 

Roast Chicken, baked potato, carrots, vegetable salad and fruit salad.

Last night...

It was "Clean out the fridge night" at our house.

The girls and I had traveled to a nearby town to do some serious grocery shopping. I pondered what to fix on the way home, realized we had plenty of leftovers so I didn't have to cook.

I forgot dear man did not go with us and therefore would be eating leftovers for lunch.

Which means not as many leftovers as I thought.

Some had leftovers and some had turkey/pepperjack sandwiches. We all had veggies and fruit!

Because I rock at making fruit salad. Last night it was strawberries, grapes, bananas and kiwi. I heard it was excellent. I detest strawberries so of course I stayed far away from it.

I'm reading "Eat This and Live For Kids". I am so convicted about our eating habits. None of us have a weight problem (despite what I might say about myself....) but we don't eat healthy. I don't buy processed "food". I don't make meals from a box. But eating vegetables is not something I'm fond of. Fruit is very hard to keep in the house. I did some math the other day and for all of us to get 5 servings of fruit a day means I would need to purchase 1120 pieces of fruit in a month. That is staggering.

But fruit is easy because I like it. Vegetables, on the other hand, are incredibly hard because I don't like them.  I have eaten them, to be a good example, but my girls know I'm only doing it to be a good example. On the days I just can't, not even to be a good example, they know they still have to. So more often than not, I opt not to eat my veggies.

But that has to change. And I know drowning them in ranch (or anything like that) defeats the purpose.  So I'm looking for vegetable ideas. Preferably, of course, ideas in which the vegetable retains it's nutritional value.  Raw carrots I can do. Celery? Forget it. I can put celery in something, so that will help.

So hit with me with your favorite vegetables/recipes!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Biftek Ala Pepperjack

I made the best burgers tonight. 

I am reading, for review, Eat This and Live for kids. I really want to get the book Eat This and Live now. I am learning so much. Some I already knew and practiced but other things I had no clue. I'll blog more about it as the review date gets closer and I've read more of it. 

One thing I already knew is just how healthy it is to eat food in as close to a natural environment it really is. I knew it was best to eat your carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, bananas, pears, peaches, grapes, mangoes, etc raw. I know that when you cook veggies and fruit a lot of their nutritional value is cooked out.  I know you're supposed to get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. That is NOT 5 servings of fruit OR vegetables, but 5 servings of fruit AND vegetables. I fall so short of that. 

So today I was reading this book and was reminded again that I need to set the example for my children in healthy eating.  I had already planned on making hamburgers for supper because we had a late afternoon appointment about 1/2 an hour away.  On our way home from the meeting we stopped at the store, initially to get hamburger buns because the bread is almost gone. I quickly changed my mind though. I bought no bread. None. 

I bought lettuce, tomato, cucumber (and what is with putting wax on my cucumbers? Silly grocer man, wax is for candles not cucumbers) and other fresh vegetables and a lot of fruit.  At home, I put my 2 pounds of hamburger, 1 tablespoon Pampered Chef Parmesean Garlic seasoning, 2 egg whites, 1/2 a orange pepper, chopped, and 1/2 an onion also chopped. I mixed those and put them into the skillet.

Because my meat was so lean, I did have to add 2.5-3 tablespoons of butter to the pan when I turned them. After turning them and letting them cook for 4-5 minutes (really 4-5 minutes a side should be all you need to get them done) I added one slice of pepper jack cheese. (the cheese of choice at our house) I put a lid on the pan and let the cheese melt. I did then check a burger (the last one put in) and when it registered 150 degrees on my meat thermometer I knew they were done nicely. I hate nothing more than an over-done, dry burger. 

Now, I wrapped my cheeseburger in 2 romaine lettuce leaves, and I added 1 tomato slice and one slice of cucumber. It was scrumptious!! I promise you. Oh my. 

To our meal I added sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, spinach leaves and romaine. Some of us put our burger on homemade bread (I think it has to be healthier than store bought). 

As you can see, it isn't me. And it's quite thick. He deemed it excellent though, so who am I to judge?

No pictures...

But last night's supper was simply scrumptious!

I made bread yesterday. Because I'm tired of spending an exorbitant amount of money on one loaf of bread. And we were out. My recipe makes two loaves, I made one loaf as normal, because we needed bread.

In case you missed that earlier.

During the first rising, I browned one pound of hamburger with onion. I added Pampered Chef's Italian Seasoning.  If I had measured I might have added a tablespoon.

When the bread was finished rising, I rolled it out and added the ground beef/onion mixture. I sliced cheddar cheese and added it to the top. Then I rolled it up, pinched the edges closed, put it in a bread pan and let it rise.

While it was rising this time, I made a simple marinara sauce. I used two small cans tomato sauce, one large can tomato paste and about a tablespoon (or two) of Pampered Chef's Sun-Dried Tomato Herb seasoning blend. I let that simmer for the afternoon.  You will need to stir it occasionally.

I baked the bread/meat mixture and served it with the marinara sauce and we had corn. Scrumptious!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I made spaghetti a few weeks ago and the sauce, Oh my WORD was to die for. To. Die. For. It was the best.

I made spaghetti on Saturday night and the sauce, OH MY WORD was barfish. And I thought I made it the same way.

So sound off, please, with your favorite spaghetti sauce recipe. And please, no comments telling me to go to the store and get a jar with a label that says "Hunts" or "Ragu" or some other name, open it and heat.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bad day...

Very very bad day.

So my dear man cooked ham and peas for himself and the girlies while I dined alone...well with Anne Perry, at Chili's.

I stuffed myself to the gills.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Tomorrow I cook like a freaking maniac.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Frugality pays!!

I've long been interested in being frugal. I've not always succeeded at being very frugal, but I've been interested. I've read books about how to make good frugal, simple meals for my family and I've tried to implement them. Some with, of course, more success than others.

For a time I really played with Once-A-Month cooking. I dreamed of being a lady of leisure all day, needing only to pull an-already-prepared meal from the freezer in the morning and voila! At supper time, I'm not slaving away over the hot stove. Making an oh-so-healthy meal for my family.

Of Macaroni and Cheese.

From a blue box.

Don't judge me.

But spending a whole day cooking did not appeal to me exactly. I often rethink that. I still like the idea, but I'm not sure I could pull it off...alone! If a couple of friends joined me, I'm sure I could do it and have fun.

Tonight I went searching for frugal food making tips and found this site. You should check it out.

I took the night off....

On Sunday we passed Perkins (like Denny's) and I saw they had again their slices of pie buy one, get one free. And since there are four of us, we could get a slice for everyone, on the cheap!

I dreamed about pie all afternoon. I could taste it. I longed for it.

I put off my pie eating until supper time. When we all trooped to Perkins and ate pie for supper. Yup. We had pie. It was simply glorious.

We did eat healthy pie, we all ordered some type of fruit pie so it's all good!

I seem to have fallen into some sort of fearful stupor about Julia Child's, Mastering The Art of French Cooking. Or maybe I think I can only cook from it in the winter ? I don't know but I do know it has been weeks, maybe months since I even opened the book.

I can feel the cooler weather coming and I'm excited to bring it out and cook from it. I wish I was dedicated enough and had the time to make one recipe from it every day and blog about it. Maybe I will sometime.

I still use The Joy of Cooking, at least weekly. That is such a treasure trove of recipes and so easy to follow.

I find myself incredibly anxious for soup. It's almost the right kind of weather for it too. I was tempted a couple of times this summer to make Vichysoisse, or cold potato soup but I'll admit it freely, I am afraid of cold potato soup. The very thought does not sound appealing to me. A friend had it on a cruise this year and said it was divine. I'm still chicken.

I'm dreaming of a good vegetable beef with barley soup. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I have long been a deep, down hater-of-steak. I've never really known the allure steak has on most people. When I was a child, we almost never had steak. It was an unattainable luxury for us. In fact, even today when I hear someone is having steak I automatically think they must be filthy rich.

When we would have steak (because someone gave it to us, or invited us over), though I always found it dry and tasteless. I know that had to do with how it was cooked and I shouldn't judge it by that. But when everyone is saying how good steak is and you finally try it, only to find it incredibly dry, there is a certain amount of let down.

About ten years ago I was involved in a Bible study that always celebrated it's finishing of a book with a steak dinner. Imagine my immense anticipation of the night. I got to eat steak, a food which up to this point in my life had not been a favorite.

My pastor grilled the steaks. And they were to. Die. For. Oh so good. Delectable. Wonderful.

I've since tried to repeat that experience at home, and I have dismally failed. My steaks are dry and tasteless. A couple of weeks ago I found some steaks in the freezer. My mouth immediately started watering for Jake's steak. I was literally drooling, since I was afraid of being frozen to the freezer with a line of saliva, I left the freezer for the computer and emailed him.

"I found more steak in my freezer...how do I cook it? I've told you before I'm not a steak person, but I like the way you make it. So I need to know all your secrets!!!"

I was asking with wrong motives, I will admit that right here and now. I wasn't asking so he would tell me how he makes them, I was asking, without using the exact words, for him to rush right over and make me steak.  Because yes, I am that shameless.  

He obviously didn't read between the lines because he was not forthcoming...except to answer my question.  In his answer he said, "We're a bit barbaric here...we like to stand over the grill and eat as we go (resembles pigs at a trough)...every bite cooked to perfection (go ahead and drool)"

I did drool. A lot. And put off making steak for another million years. I'm just a big chicken. Hahahaha. Talking about steak and call myself a chicken. 

The other night I was in the mood to grill and hoped my grill wouldn't hate me, which it has a great propensity to do.  I wanted to grill my steaks. I really did. But because I wasn't sure I was ready for it yet, I set out a package of pork chops. (Nine of those bad boys at Sam's on the cheap!) 

Now, you must realize, growing up I also never met a pork chop I liked. They too, were dry and tasteless.  But I have come a long way in knowing how to cook those and as long as I don't cook them inside, I do pretty good. 

That night was my night to shine. Not only did the grill not hate me! I cooked my pork chops to perfection! I know they look a little raw or a little over done. But let me tell you, when they were completely done, MELT IN YOUR MOUTH GOODNESS.  Juicy as the day is long and the summer is hot. One could, and in fact, did cut them with a butter knife. The only seasoning I used was good ol' salt and pepper. 

I asked Dear Man as we were just sitting down if he thought I should call Jake and invite him to come feast. He assured me it was too late, although I really think he just wanted them all for himself. 

The foil wrapped package in the picture is potatoes and is our favorite way of cooking potatoes in the summer. I just cut/cube potatoes, put them in foil with a little salt and pepper and a lot of butter and put them on the grill. 

Maybe now I will try cooking steaks on the grill.....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Sometimes my brain amazes me with great capacity and huge propensity to forget the simplest of simple tasks. Like say for example, setting something out for supper.

Hello! We all have to eat and we all generally eat supper in the evening. And generally we don't go foraging through the freezer unless we're having ice cream.

And while I think that wouldn't be a bad thing, especially on the hot summer nights, dear man is decidedly against it. How could I have married a meat and potatoes man while I am such a foodie free spirit? Cereal for supper? Unheard of..for him. For me? A delicacy. Ice cream? You're out of your ever-livin' mind! For me, Hot dog!!! (only much better than hot dogs)

Yesterday found me at 4pm contemplating what would be for supper. And then it hit me. Supper was frozen solid in the freezer and the grill wasn't started.

Not be deterred, because I was merely pondering this because my tummy was gnawing away on my backbone, I contemplated the finer points of fine dining...namely, peanut butter and jelly.

We had that for lunch. And who wants left over peanut butter and jelly? Not me. I contemplated using speed dial and begging someone to make supper for me because I was sick, desperately sick and couldn't feed my family.

I was merely sick in the head and I didn't think that would qualify. I contemplated my options a bit longer and my desire for a fine dining experience kept growing.

EUREKA!!! I had the answer. I knew the best place for fine dining at its finest!!!  And no, it's not McDonald's. Although you'd be close!

Culvers! Simply the finest of fine dining establishments. And last night they were giving away free samples of the "Flavor of the Day"!!  Which was "just drummy" and was not my cup of joe, but everyone else seemed to like it.

Oh and hey, maybe I should take the pork chops out of the freezer now, ya think??  Tonight we shall be dining on grilled pork chops (provided the grill doesn't hate me), potatoes and some sort of vegetable.  What will you be feasting on?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lotsa Stromboli

I enjoy watching Man V. Food on The Travel Channel.  Maybe it's some sort of sickness, but I love watching this man stuff himself into oblivion. I always find myself getting hungry for whatever it is he is eating however, and rarely do I have the necessary ingredients to make any of them.

The other day they aired a rerun of when he was at Rutgers University and had to eat 5 Fat Sandwiches in 45 minutes. One would think if he paced himself by eating 1 every 9 minutes he'd win. But no. He ate the first one in 4 minutes, the first 2 in 13 minutes. And he lost the challenge.  Finishing only about four and a half of the sandwiches.

Earlier in the show he feasted on Stromboli. I watched him make his own. It looked simply wonderful. All the cheese and sauce oozing out of the cut end. I have to admit, I coveted.  I was ready to go to New Brunswick, New Jersey and get one.  But, Darn that Dave Ramsey for teaching me to be responsible. 

Last night I made my own version of Stromboli. I started with my normal bread recipe.  While it was rising I cooked one pound ground beef with half an onion and a couple tablespoons of Italian seasonings.

After the first rising of the bread dough, I rolled out half (the other half I made into a regular loaf) and layered the seasoned beef and 1/2 pound grated Swiss cheese on half the rolled out dough. Then I folded the top over and pinched the edges closed. I let it rise about another 45 minutes.

Then I baked it at 400* for 10 minutes, reduced the heat to 350* and cooked it an additional 25 minutes. When it was done, I buttered the top and added dried parsley.
Now that's big!

I think next time I'll add a marinara sauce and ignore my seven-year old who thinks I should open a restaurant.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Not about cooking per se....

but it does involve the kitchen.

I have taken to watching "How Clean Is Your House" on BBCA. Oh my goodness gracious sakes alive! It's the best show. Especially if you tend to think your house is "clean enough" as the kitchen sink is piled high with dishes from last night, last week, last month or even last year. If you think you only have a few dust bunnies that can wait for a few days.

This show will steer you straight. Trust me on this one. Kim and Aggie, the clean freaks on the show get into all sorts of "messes" in their attempt to make this world a cleaner place. Some of the houses they walk into, some of the things they touch and smell would have me running for the hills, or using their pocket to vomit in.

I watched one episode in which the homeowner was a health enthusiast. She ate only health food, ran and worked out like a maniac. Yet her house was a denizen of germs and bacteria. I'm not talking the normal bacteria we all have, I'm talking fatal bacteria.

What got me the most was when Kim informed the homeowner that her toilet was cleaner than her refrigerator.  I wondered how my refrigerator would stand up to any test Aggie might possibly give it. I knew my bathroom was probably okay because I make sure it is cleaned every day and scoured once a week. But my refrigerator?

I took it upon myself to clean it. I knew it was a mess. I just had no idea. I think at some point something dripped down from the freezer and produced...mold. BLECK!!!! I cleaned that right up. I am sure though, Kim and Aggie would have my head though because while I used bleach water, I did not wear cleaning gloves.

At first I was only going to take the shelves out and clean them and put them back. I even knew that under the crisper drawers it would be bad so I was going to leave those in. What was I thinking?  I did take out all the shelves including the crispers.

Okay that looks almost bad...how 'bout this view?
Yes, and my food was on that. My food that I consumed. True, most of it was cooked first at rather high temperatures but still. *shudder*

Under the crisper drawers was ....oh never mind. Let's just say it's best if I don't repeat it and you don't have to read it. 

Anyway, I used hot water, a little bleach and dish soap with a healthy dose of elbow grease.  After an hour, this is what it looked like:
Notice, you can see what is in my crisper drawers!! Before I cleaned it that wasn't possible.  So now I challenge you, CLEAN THE FRIDGE!!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Silver Dollars, Flapjacks, Hubcaps, Platters, Saturday Morning Specials.

Or as they are also known as Hot Cakes. Or pancakes.

Yes, that is peanut butter and jelly on my pancake. I happen to like it best that way. Otherwise, pancakes are really rather...hmmm...not something I want to eat.

I am and have been for many years a pancake maker-flunky. I can not get them done without burning them. Generally speaking my pancakes are either burned or liquid in the middle. Now my dear man says it is most decidedly because I have the heat too high. I think he's a bit daft. And besides, when I cook them I generally don't have a lot of time to stand around waiting for them to cook.

Because of my great inadequacy in the pancake making department, my dear man is known as Chief Pancake Maker around these here parts. But tonight I thought I'd give it a go. We usually use the famous Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, but tonight I wanted something a little more...shall we say...exotic? Yes. Yes, we shall say that.

I know Julia Child made crepes, but technically crepes aren't pancakes. I decided not to waste any more time going through her cookbook in search of pancakes so instead I reached for Irma Rombauer's cookbook, "The Joy of Cooking". I was not disappointed.

I found pancakes. As I was mixing I realized one thing, There is almost no difference between the two recipes. Almost none.

My thinking is there is really only one recipe for pancakes in the world and no matter where you are that is the recipe you must use.

Quite delightful pancakes though. And almost none of them burned...after I reduced the heat to practically off. 

My family does not realize it is the same recipe in a different cookbook and let's just ...keep this tidbit of knowledge between us, shall we?


I think it only fair and right and good and ...and...and....okay I can't think of anything else it is, to post a "failure" or two or ...twenty.

I confess also I have not been cooking my way through Mastering The Art of French cooking. Lately I've been lucky to Master the Art of Fast Food at Home. It is Spring and that means Mother's Day, anniversaries and graduations galore. So I claim busyness as my only excuse and for now it's workin' for me.

My friend makes the most wonderful tacos in the world. I begged and pleaded with her to give me the recipe and then when her back was turned I just ....stole it.

Or not. She's really too nice to me to make me beg and plead and then resort to thievery. She merely handed me the recipe and a blank recipe card and told me to "go nuts." I did.  The recipe is really incredibly easy.

For HER! For me...I don't know, it seems to be more of a challenge. I can't seem to get the flavor right.

Hmmm...I just had a thought...could it be because I don't even bother to look at the recipe?

Nah!! It couldn't be that.  How hard could it be? You have hamburger, cummin, onions, salt and pepper, more cummin, tomatoes and green peppers? Surely it can't be hard.

Hahahahahaahaha. This is only proving my deep inadequacy in the kitchen.  It's not that the tacos taste bad. They just aren't as flavorful as my friends.

Maybe this is why Julia Child tells you in the book, not to "experiment" too early in following a recipe. She says you should make it a number of times before you leave the cookbook in the cupboard and start experimenting with the recipe. 

So my lesson has been learned. I'll actually start following the recipe...again.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I know, I know...

I just blogged a few hours ago but this is sooooooooooooooooo good!!! Tonight I made my own macaroni and cheese. From scratch. All by myself. I had no help from the little blue box. None at all.

It was really rather simple and I've taken to doing this lately anyway. I just think food tastes better when you make it at home and it doesn't come out of a box. Well the pasta does but that's it. I know, I know it would be 100 times better if I made my own pasta and I have in the past but when you're running short on time...a box of pasta will have to do.

Because I simply love cheese, I like to use a lot of cheese in my mac-n-cheese. Tonight it was pepper jack, medium cheddar, mt jack/colby and parmesan.  Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. Sakes. Alive.

Okay here is how I did it. Since I just made up the recipe in my head tonight on the fly, I can post the recipe and not worry about the copyright police showing up on my porch at 3:33am.   Since I am sure everyone can make a pot of pasta, I'll leave that part out. (Man! I wish I had taken pictures)

First, I melted a few tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium saucepan. Then I added grated cheese. Because I did it on the fly, I failed to measure but I used half a small brick (maybe 8-12ounces) of the cheddar, 1/3 of colby/jack and a full brick of pepper jack. I added that to the melted butter over medium heat. Stir constantly. You'll probably have to turn it down to low. Add a little milk and continue stirring. Add 2 more tablespoons of butter if you need it. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and stir, stir, stir.

Pour over cooked and drained pasta. Serve and enjoy! Lemme tell ya, this is Good Eats!!!

We have eaten in the last month....

I promise. I've just been so swamped with...life basically. Hopefully life has slowed down enough I can get back to the important things...like blogging about food.

It is not generally best, I've found to blog about food when one is a) very tired. The words just don't come at all and b) very hungry. And conversely if one is stuffed from a marvelous meal it just won't work because the very last thing one wants to talk about is more...food.

So here I sit on a Saturday afternoon, the house is quiet, the only sounds I hear is a distant train and howling wind. What a better time to write. Yeah, I thought you'd agree.

Okay the last meal I made from Mastering the Art of French Cooking was Chicken Fricassee. It seems I've made it before but never from Julia Child's cookbook.

I will admit I was rather disappointed to discover it tasted no different. None. Not at all. I thought for a bit about the benefit to making Julia Child's Chicken Fricassee versus Betty Crocker's Chicken Fricassee.

Then I realized, when you tell someone, "I made Julia Child's Chicken Fricassee last night" your reputation as a cook skyrockets to the moon. Whereas if you say, "I made Betty Crocker's Chicken Fricassee last night" people automatically assumed you opened a box and added your own chicken.

And there you have it. One should always make Julia Child's recipes, even if an easier, quicker cheaper version is readily available.  Because not only will your peers think you are a wonder in the kitchen, people around the world will stand and applaud and your family will rise up singing your very praises.  So will it be worth it to spend an entire afternoon slaving in the kitchen cooking supper?


But what is not worth it is the picture I'd normally post about now. It is just uhm...nasty. But take it from me, the food was excellent!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It is really hard

to blog about food when you're stuffed to the gills. It might be kind of like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach, you just don't do it or you'll spend more money. Of course if go on a stuffed tummy, you'll be too full to even think about food until you're hungry. It's a vicious cycle.

The other day was a soup kind of day. Just dreary and cloudy all day. I really didn't want to venture out and since I had everything to make Potage Parmentier and we love Potage Parmentier. I'll bet you do too. Of course I hadn't yet tried this recipe. But really how can you possibly go wrong with Potage Parmentier? Especially when there are only 6 ingredients and one of them is water?

We made Potato Soup. Easy peasy potato soup. I've never made Potage Parmentier when I've had to mash the potatoes and add parsley.

Oh my word!! This soups is literally to die for. The girls are begging me to make it again. And we just had it. 

To me the soup tastes like a summer soup, I can't really say why I think that. It just strikes me as a soup you'd make in the spring or summer. And winter. And fall.

Delicious dish!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Boeuf A La Mode

Or for those of us who are sadly lacking any French language skills, "Beef Braised in Red Wine". This was quite the interesting recipe to make. I've always been somewhat of a teetotaler..okay so I've always been a complete teetotaler.  I have only been in a liquor store once and it was, I think, to request a donation for a school function. But that seems really odd to me. So I have no idea why I was in there but rest assured I was sure I was headed straight to hell. I promised myself over and over I'd never, ever, EVER go into another one of those stores again...EVER.

I've managed to keep my promise for lo, these many years. I can truthfully say that because to buy two ingredients in the roast marinade, I went to my grocery store. I felt like a complete nincompoop. I meander the aisles of their liquor adult beverage section, thinking the entire time "I hope no one I know sees me" while at the same time desperately thinking of anyone and everyone I could call to get information on wine. After casing the joint...err meandering the aisles I saw an employee heading my way and I made a beeline for her. "Hi. I have never bought alcohol in my life but I need some for a recipe. Could you help me?" We both wander a bit until another employee comes up and we ask her for help. She tells me I only need a small bottle and they of course do not have any small bottles. I bought a large bottle, because if we like the recipe, I'll want to make it again and I definitely do NOT want to go through the whole thing again.

I'm not normally too keen on recipes that have to be made in stages. Marinades tend to be beyond the scope of my preparedness. To marinade something means I have to think far enough ahead to get it out of the freezer early enough it defrosts, make the marinade and marinate it for how ever long the recipe says. This one says a minimum of 6 hours and preferably 24 hours. After the trouble I went to just to obtain the ingredients for the marinade, I made sure I remembered.

I get my vegetables chopped, my herbs measured, I carefully open and measure the brandy. The brandy opened so easy and you know they stick a cork in a wine bottle? Thus making it impossible to get the wine out to add to your marinade? They do. I had a small cork screw on my handy-dandy-pocket knife. It wasn't big enough. I tried using a screw and pliers to get the cork out. That didn't work. I called a friend to see if she had any brilliant ideas, she suggested the neighbor, I thought of breaking the bottle but who wants glass in their marinade?  Back to the store I went. I was going to forget the bottle of wine I had and just get cooking wine. I found a corkscrew. But I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get it to work so I bought it and the cooking wine. Of course the corkscrew worked like a charm....once I figured out how to use it. All is well my roast is marinading and my life is good.

Not only do you have to marinade it, you have to boil it down rapidly. In a roaster. On one small-ish (compared to the roaster) burner. I am sure that was to be sure all the alcohol was cooked out, but it still took forever.

And that, my friend, is a poor picture of a delicious roast. I had planned on making Puree De Pommes De Terre A L'Ail as a side dish. But since I forgot the garlic and that is a main ingredient. I mean it would be hard to make Garlic Mashed potatoes without the garlic, I went on a mad hunt through the cookbook to find a quick easy potato recipe. And I found one.  Pommes De Terre Sautees or as I like to say, Potatoes sauteed in butter.
The potatoes are a lot like french fries (who knew? The French make french fries!) only much much better!!
The finished meal. Boeuf A La Mode, Pommes De Terre Sautees and peas. Regular ol' frozen peas.

Who knew I could cook like that? Score one for the Irish girl cooking french from a cook book no one in America can cook from!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Just a fast....

Just  quick update because time gets away from me soo quickly anymore. I am still cooking through Mastering The Art of French cooking. I just haven't had time to talk about them.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to tell you about my jaunt through a certain department in the grocery store for something I've never bought in my life.

Yeah...that'll be interesting.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tranches De Jambon En Piperade

How's that for a meal? Bet you're thinking I can't spell trenches, and we ate in one. But no, that wouldn't be right not even close as a matter of fact. That is Ham Slices baked with Tomatoes, Onions and Peppers. And it's darn stinkin' good!

Oh and get this, you know how the French cook with butter. And if a little butter is good, a lot of butter is better? This dish has NO butter in it. No butter. None. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. It does have copious amounts of olive oil though. But that's a "healthy" fat so I hardly think it counts. 

I made this dish because I had a lot of ham leftover from the gratineed and I did not want to do the plain ol' American ham, mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans thing. So I dug out...okay it was out....and dug through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, you know THE cookbook. I burrowed my way through until I found a recipe that called for ham and one I had most of the ingredients for. This one, I was only missing two small ingredients. I was missing the tomatoes and the peppers.

Okay so they were main ingredients. But at least I had the ham.  I know, that was pathetic even for me, but ....

My biggest trouble with this book seems to be timing. Getting everything ready and in the pan when it needs to be in there. I try and follow the heat directions (moderately high, low etc) but it seems things are always cooking faster then I think they will or should. This dish was no exception.

I made a double batch, the recipe said it serves 6. My dear man can eat for 6 and since there are 4 of us, I knew I needed to make extra. The ham of the first batch got a little more done, before I was able to add the vegetables. The second batch was better. I think I need to just prep each step before I start cooking at all.

Can I just say how easy this recipe was? If you can read, you can cook this. Very easy, very simple step-by-step directions...just what this kitchen klutz needs.

I made a side dish of green beans and it was all good. The best part? I've learned to do the clean up while it's finishing up so when I sat down at the table this is what my kitchen looked like:

Score one for the Irish Girl cooking French.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rapee Morv Andelle

I had to buy a knuckle grater. I did. When I threw out my last one years ago, I swore I would not buy another, in fact I wouldn't allow it in the house. No more knuckle graters for this girl.

I bought one and you know what? I'm happy about it. I like it. It works well for grating potatoes. I have a Pampered Chef grater that I love to use for cheese, but it never grates potatoes well. Because of liquid content of the potato. But the knuckle grater is a snap.

I'm sure you're just dying to know what I recipe I made that would bring about talk of knuckle graters. Well it was a recipe to destroy your kitchen. No joke! Mine looked like this
And I wasn't even half done yet.

As I was browsing the cookbook, I saw "Gratineed Dishes". I had no idea what it was or how to pronounce it. But now I know the answer to both! Dictionary. com told me how to pronounce it, and I mean it TOLD me how. Click on the little speaker and you can hear the word.  Basically a gratineed dish is a dish of grated potatoes, eggs and other good eats. Mix it all together and you have very Good eats.

The dish I made was a gratin of Shredded Potatoes with Ham and Eggs and Onions. And tasty! Oh my!!
Eggs, parsley garlic, salt and pepper, ready for cheese and milk to be added.
Ham and onions sauteing happily in the pan. See now, at one time I would have said, "cooking" but now I know better. They are sauteing. 
I should add here, the house smelled heavenly. I should also add this recipe was easy peasy! Very simple to follow and the ingredients were items most people keep on hand in the kitchen. Even a kitchen klutz like me had most of them. I would definitely say this recipe is one most anyone in America would be willing to cook. 
 As you can see, we about cleaned it up.
Score one more for the Irish girl, living in an average American house cooking French.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I will cook...

I read an interesting article last night. You can find the whole thing here, as I'll only be quoting snippets. I was searching for, okay I was looking to see on what page my blog would show up if one searched for Julia Child. I'm weird like that. On page 2 of my google search, I was struck by this link, "Why you'll never cook from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of..." I was intrigued to say the least. Intrigued because as we all know I've cooked and blogged about 3 recipes from Mastering the Art of French cooking.

I was shocked to find this article written by a chef...with 26 years experience. Ms. Schrambling writes "The inconvenient truth is that although the country's best-loved "French chef" produced an unparalleled recipe collection in Mastering the Art, it has always been daunting." Daunting?  The word daunting means: "to overcome with fear, to intimidate" or "to lessen the courage of one; dishearten". I felt none of those. I was not daunted by the cookbook. If anything I was invigorated. In the 10 days I've owned the book, there has not been a day in which I have not touched it. Every day I've touched it, I've opened it, I've poured over it. All in helpless anticipation of the next meal I will make from it's pages. Daunting? I think not.

She goes on to say, "Thanks to my consort, I have owned the two-volume set of Mastering the Art since 1984, the year after I graduated from restaurant school, but even I have never cooked from it." Because she has own a two-volume set and has not cooked from it, means no one in America will cook from this book? That seems to be an awfully small worldview. I don't like peas, and so I guess no one in America likes peas either. I'll have to tell Dear man that, I'm sure he'll find it shocking.

"Julia's recipes were written for a rigorous cook with endless patience for serious detail." That is so untrue it's almost laughable. I do not have an endless supply of patience and details...who needs them? But cook from this book? I can do that.  Since I can tend to be rather mindless in the kitchen, I love the details. I love how the recipes are written out in a simple step-by-step format. I don't fear leaving anything out because it is simple.

Ms. Schrambling has this to say about Beouf Bourguignon, "[it] has had restaurant chefs and amateurs alike breaking out their "9- or 10-inch fireproof casseroles" in the hottest month of the year. The ingredients and instructions for its recipe span three pages, and that is before you hit the fine print: The beef stock, braised pearl onions, and sautéed mushrooms all require separate procedures. Step 1 involves making lardons and simmering them for 10 minutes in a precise amount of water; seven steps later, the fat is finally skimmed off the sauce, which is either boiled down to thicken or adjusted with liquid if it's too thick. And this is considered an entry-level recipe. Everything in the tome looks complicated, which of course guarantees the results will work but also makes cooking feel like brain surgery." (emphasis mine)

Por favor? I don't get it. "Everything looks complicated"? What book is she looking at? Now, granted I've not read every single recipe but the ones I have read do not look complicated at all. And I consider myself the greatest dimwit in the kitchen! I have been known to almost burn the house down cooking bacon. I've literally burned water in the microwave. If anyone should be thinking Mastering the Art of French Cooking looks complicated, it should be me, not some trained chef.

Ms. Schrambling has indeed, in my mind, thrown down the gauntlet of challenge. I gladly pick it up. I will blog my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking if for no other reason than to prove Ms. Schrambling wrong.

There is something you should know, I am a no one. I have no ties to Julia Child, Hollywood, the movie industry, any form of media. Other than my husband being a radio announcer/program director for a podunk radio station stuck in the middle of nowhere America. I am just a middle-aged stay-at-home Momma who home schools her children. There is nothing in this for me, except the knowledge I will gain through this book.

My promise to you, my readers, is to blog my thoughts on the recipes I've used. I promise to tell you the good ones as well as the bad ones. I do not promise to make every single recipe in the book, for obvious reasons, but I promise to broaden my palate and try new things. I just might like them.