Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Cool Tool

Ginger Grater

I'm not really a gadget person. I do admit to having a few multi-taskers in my house. One of my newest is this grater. I found it on Etsy. Have I told you how addicted I am to Etsy? Handmade stuff, reasonably priced, created by people just like you and me sold in one big marketplace. How great it that?

I'm always searching the pottery on Etsy. I literally could buy thousands and thousands of dollars worth. I have a pottery addiction almost as bad as my chocolate addiction. I came across this great grater made by H Stoneware a few weeks ago and I was intrigued. I use a lot of ginger in my cooking. It's one of my most favorite flavors next to maple...and mocha....and coconut....and caramel....ok I have lots of favorite flavors, but ginger really is one of them. So I see this grater and it says:

It grates Ginger, garlic, hard cheese, lemon and orange zest, even nutmeg.
I hand throw each one so one of a kind.
Comes is a variety of colors.
email me for colors!

So I did. I chose the blue/black combo as you can see. The price - $10. Reasonable I thought. Now the question was, would it actually work? I had teriyaki salmon on the menu and it calls for lots of grated ginger, so this was a perfect opportunity to test it out.

See all those little "teeth"??

Gnger Grater side view

They really do work. I peeled some ginger, rubbed it across the surface of the grater, and withing a few seconds my ginger was down to a little bitty nub! I was thrilled. No more scraping my knuckles across the microplane grater. Hallelujah! This thing really works! So I tried it with some aged Pecorino - worked perfectly! How cool that my new little gadget not only looks good, but it actually does what it's supposed to.

Ginger grater with ginger

Sunday, March 29, 2009


As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.
- Bronson Alcott

Nana CU 2

Nana (my Grandmother, Gram to me but Nana to the boys, her great-grandchildren) turned 85 Saturday. Our birthdays are exactly a week and 40 years apart. Looking back now, it seems strange that she was a grandmother at 40. I’m 45 and my kids are barely teenagers, but back then things were different, she was different. Nana has Alzheimer’s. It started about a year before my Grandfather died. At first it was little things, not remembering what entrance she used when she went to the mall, leaving food in the oven or microwave, adding or leaving out ingredients in recipes, just little ordinary things that happen to us regular folks all the time, but Nana’s forgetfulness worsened. By the time my grandfather passed away she was in the beginning stages of the disease and has gotten progressively worse since. That first year after he died was hell for all of us. She was combative, she was mean, she swore!! This woman who I had never heard utter a nasty word in her life started speaking like a sailor. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I would scold her for her swearing, all the while trying not to laugh while I did it.

Nana hands mug

That first year was hell for all of us. Watching this woman that we all loved just fall to pieces was unbearable at times. She moved into assisted living into a lock down unit. She hated it. She cursed when we would visit. She wanted to go home. She would ask about her washer and dryer of all things. Every time we’d visit she’s say “how is my washer and dryer?” and my mother would tell her they were fine. Sounds crazy right but that’s the way her brain worked. You begin to wonder if there is anything left of the person that this disease took from you.

Nana smile

I had only one moment with her in the past 5 years that she was my Gram again. We were sitting in her room about a month after she moved into the facility and we were talking about nothing in particular and she was chatting away and then suddenly her face just changed. I can’t explain it, but I could see in her eyes she was back and she looked at me and said, “Don’t you think for a minute that I don’t know I’m going crazy”. That was it. As fast as she came back, she was gone again and she’s never returned. So that was our moment. The last of my Gram that I will keep locked away inside me forever. Sometimes I see this quiet desperation in her eyes and I wonder if she is having a moment of clarity and is horrified at what she’s become. Cruel as it sounds, I hope the moments of clarity are few and far between, because she would be just as shocked at who she is now as we are.

Nana cookie

I tell my boys about her before the disease, how she was an expert seamstress and sewed almost all of my clothes when I was younger. She even made all the girls in the neighborhood that I grew up in matching bikinis one year. Oh were we thrilled. It was 1974 and we all had bathing suits made out of material that looked like bandanas. We were totally cool. She crocheted and knitted too. Every woman we knew had one of her beautiful knitted purses. She was a great cook, soup being one of her specialties and every Easter she would make ham & cheese pies and rice pies. She was married to a man who loved her so deeply that even without knowing them; you could just look at them and see it. If you show her a picture of my Grandfather now, she will tell you she has no idea who “that man” is. Thank goodness he isn’t here to see that. It would have crushed him.

Nana CU3

So on her birthday a little part of me mourned for a person who is not dead. Who is here among the living but is not really living at all and what saddens me more than anything is that my kids will never really know her, the beautiful, kind, and sweet lady that she was. The talented, patient, loving person I grew up with. The real Nana that would have loved to have been all that and more to them.

Nana boys

Back to Basics - Meatloaf

Meatloaf TS

What food evokes more comforting memories than meatloaf? Definitely a dish that the men always seems to love, and one the ladies like a whole bunch too. In an effort to continue to get back to basic, may I present meatloaf. Plain and simple. A great dish to make if you are a seasoned pro or just starting out in the kitchen. This recipe was adapted from a Barefoot Contessa turkey meatloaf recipe. Over the years I kinda took out a little of this and added in a little of that. It's a staple recipe in this house. Meatloaf for dinner and meatloaf sandwiches for lunch the next day. As Ina always say, what's better than that?

You can use turkey or ground beef in this recipe. Since I got a sweet deal on ground beef this past week and totally stocked up on it, I'm going with the beef. This is equally as delicious with ground turkey.

Lisa's Meatloaf

adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten
Printable recipe
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth (or stock)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
ketchup for top

Preheat the oven to 325. In a medium pan over medium low heat cook the onions with the olive oil until they are translucent (about 8 - 10 minutes). Don't let them get brown. Add salt and pepper and the thyme.

Add the Worcestershire, chicken broth and tomato paste. Mix well. Allow mixture to cool until it's at room temp.

In a large bowl combine the ground beef or turkey, eggs, breadcrumbs, and onion mixture. Mix well, yes with your hands. I personally think mixing a big bowl of meat only pales in comparison to playing in the mud, or sand. I like it. Once it is mixed well shape it into a rectangular loaf and place it on an ungreased sheet pan lined with parchment. Spread enough ketchup over the top to cover it. Spread evenly.

Bake for 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 160 and loaf is cooked through. You can also put a pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf to keep the top from cracking but a cracked top never bothered me any.

Serve hot, room temp or in a sandwich!

Meatloaf slice

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The giveaway winner is......

The random number generator has spoken (my son Evan hit the button to choose the number) and the winner is..........Bunny from Bunny's Warm Oven!!! How appropriate that bunny won the bunny! Thanks to all who stopped by to enter.

Congratulations Bunny!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Carnitas CU

I had seen a slow cooker recipe on Dinners for a Year and Beyond for pork shoulder (or pork butt, same difference) made in the crock pot that sounded oh so good. "I have to remember this" I said to myself. A few days later I got my reminder from the grocery store's sales flyer. Pork Shoulder was on sale for $1 a pound. I ran and bought a nice 6 and half pounder. I trimmed it of any excessive fat then salted it well. Don't be skimpy on the salt. Pack it on good. Then put on my spice rub and let it sit in the fridge for 2 days.

Fast forward a few days later.....pork is ready for cooking. I had every intention of putting it in the crock pot like Amy did, but somehow it never managed to end up there. I got out my dutch oven, threw in a couple of onions, one orange sliced into about 4 big pieces, 4 cloves of garlic and 1 bottle of beer. I set the oven to 325 and let it cook for 5 hours. When I took the cover off the pork was literally falling off the bone. Once it was cool enough, I shredded it and laid it out a big sheet pan. Don't throw out that delicious juice at the bottom of that pot. Use a mesh strainer and get every last drop of those beautiful pork drippings. Pour about a cup over the pork and then put it in a 400 degree oven for about a half hour. Let the pork get nice and crunchy and crispy and beautiful. I love you pork.

Pork pot

I don't know what is was, but this was the best pulled pork I have ever made. I think it might have been the two days sitting in the fridge heavily seasoned, or the addition of the orange, which I have never done before, but will definitely be doing again and again.

We ate ours wrapped in warm tortillas with all our favorite fillings. Top this with whatever you love.

Carnitas right

Here are some serving suggestions:

Shredded lettuce
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Black beans
Fresh salsa
Green chilies
Salas verde
sour cream
refried beans
Squeeze of fresh lime juice

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring/Birthday Giveaway

Giveaway - bunny cu

Spring, spring, spring! Although, not my favorite of the seasons (that would be autumn), you are a welcome sign after a long New England winter. This past weekend I dug in the dirt and got my hands dirty, used muscles that have laid dormant since last spring (those raking muscles sure do ache the next day), basked in the sunshine, planted seedlings, looked through seed catalogs and dreamt, made lists of all the veggies I want to plant, and mapped out my garden plans for 2009. Hopefully it will be a very fruitful and vegiful year!

Today is my birthday and I can't think of a better way to celebrate it than to have a giveaway. I'm one of those people who really, truly loves to give more than receive, so give I shall. Over the past few weeks I've been shopping for all things springy. I came up with few gifts, some for the kitchen and some just for fun. Here's what's up for grabs:

This cute rustic wooden bunny:

Giveaway - bunny
He's got ridiculously cute ears that even wiggle. You could hang him on your door, or a garden fence, or even your mailbox.

I’m also giving away these adorable salt & pepper shakers. One bunny and one chick. How cute would they look on your Easter table?

Giveaway collage SP

Haven’t had enough cuteness?? How about this set of 6 muffin pots. That’s what I call them anyway. I use them for so many things…..I make desserts in them, put salt or pepper in them or use them as dippin' bowls. I've made mini breads in them, pudding, cupcakes, the possibilities are endless. I just love them.

Giveaway - muffin cups side

Giveaway muffin cups SD

Last but not least I have this cookbook complied by a local company in Rhode Island. I bought 2 copies last year knowing I would give one away as a gift. It’s like one of those church cookbooks where you find all the best tried and true recipes. Those kinds of cookbooks are my favorites! It’s packed full of great recipes.

Giveaway cookbook

How do I win all these spectacular prizes you ask? All you have to do is leave a comment. Well what on earth would I say to get myself entered?

Here let me give you a question.

What’s your favorite vegetable to eat straight outta the garden?

A big fat juicy tomato? Some rhubarb with a little sugar sprinkled on it? (that was always my favorite) or is it fresh berries straight off the vine? Whatever it is, let me know in your comment and your entered….that’s it.

Enter once only please, don’t be a comment hog or I’ll kick your keister out, and I so don’t want to do that, but I will if I have too!

Deadline for entries is Friday, March 27th at midnight, EST.
Please leave an email address for contact if you don't have a blog.

Giveaway is open to everyone whether you're in the USA or Zimbabwe...I'll ship anywhere.

Winner will be picked using the random number generator.

Oh yeah and one more thing that I can't stress enough....grow something! Make 2009 the year that you start that garden you always talked about. It's easier than you think. No matter where you live, or how small your space, you can plant, grow and eat something good!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Trader Joe's Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut cu

We finally got a Trader Joe’s last year! Hooray! Those of you with a Trader Joe’s near by know what I’m talkin’ about. For years and years I would hear about TJ’s on message boards and blogs and see some of the wonderful products they carried and wished and hoped that one would open someday in Rhode Island and low and behold, my wish came true. Last fall TJ’s opened it’s newest store, 10 minutes from my house. 10 minutes! How glorious! I already have products that have become favorites for me…the Haricots Verts (french-style green beans), frozen artichoke hearts, goddess dressing, the sopressata’s ($3.99 each!), chocolate covered espresso beans, all the frozen fruits, the cheeses, the nuts, I could go on and on.

One of my most favorite things is the Quick Cook Steel Cuts Oats. If you like regular rolled oats in the little brown packages, I strongly urge you to try steel cut oats. Nuttier than instant oatmeal and packed with way more flavor, they are far superior to instant oatmeal in my opinion. I’ve eaten other brands and really enjoyed them, but most of those have much longer cooking times and just weren’t feasible for me on hectic mornings. TJ’s oats are ready in less than 8 minutes and one serving is the perfect amount for breakfast. I like mine with a little maple syrup and some walnuts, some fresh berries and almonds, or some home made granola and diced bananas. The topping possibilities are endless so I always feel like I’m having something new for breakfast, even though there are mornings that I wish I was eating a big ole cinnamon bun smothered in frosting, but we just can’t do that now can we?? Dammit.

Steel cut bowl

Thank you for listening to my pleas and opening a store in Rhode Island Trader Joe people, now I have to get to work on those Ikea people.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Make your own seedling paper pots

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~Margaret Atwood

I can't begin to tell you how great it feels to get my hands back into the soil. Some people might think I'm crazy, but I love the smell and feel of dirt. I never wear gardening gloves, preferring to let my hands have direct contact with the soil. This year we will be making 2 new raised beds and adding 3 more whiskey barrels to our collection. I love having herbs and veggies growing all over the place. There is nothing more satisfying then picking something from your garden and eating it hours later. I think everyone should grow something they can eat. Even if you live in an apartment, you can buy a few pots and plant some herbs and veggies. I encourage everyone to plant something this year. It just wouldn't be summer without a garden for us.

We enjoyed highs near 60 this weekend, quite unusual for March in New England, so we took full advantage and spent most of the day working in the sunshine. We raked the entire yard which was full of sticks and branches, John and Mitch mended a fence post that blew down in a bad storms a few months back, and then it was time to plant seedlings for the garden.

Paper Pot

You can go and buy peat pots to start your seeds, or you can even use paper egg cartons but I thought it would be cool, and good for the environment to make some paper pots. I researched making them on online and finally settled on the method shown in this YouTube video.

It really was quite simple once you get the hang of it. Cute little paper pots that you can plant directly into the ground! Recycle! Plant something! Get your hands dirty! It'll be fun...trust me.

Paper Pot dirt

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Steak & Guinness Pie

Guinness with bottle1
This is as close to an Irish inspired meal as you will get from me. I know the food blog world will be filled with recipes for corned beef and cabbage over the next few days, but as a Sicilian girl, I can honestly tell you that I have never in my life eaten corned beef, much less thought about cooking it. It's one of those meats that never looked appealing to me. I must admit that I did see some some corned beef over at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy that made me want to try it.

I do look forward to the week of St. Patricks Day, not because of the food or green beer but because I have several friends whose birthdays fall during the week, as well as my own, and because March 19th is St. Josephs Day, and if you're Italian or Sicilian you know that mean zeppoles. For the past 26 years I have brought my Dad (Joseph) one of the only pastries he loves. Sweet fried dough, filled with a rich custard and dusted with powdered sugar. Although it's one of the rare sweets I don't care for, knowing that my Dad looks forward to his zeppoles every year makes me happy.

Guinness stew long

I had been promising my friend Mitchell that I would make a Guinness pie or stew for quite some time. I first found this recipe on Culinary Disasters. Obviously it didn't look like a disaster to me so I decided to make it for a late lunch today. Mitch helped John dig a hole in the yard, and also helped me with some garden projects, so his payment for today was Steak & Guinness Pie.

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe. I used chuck roast since I didn't have a brisket (which the original recipe called for), and because it was on sale. John and Mitchell thought it was "freakin' fantabulous" (that is a direct Mitch quote). It really had a wonderful flavor and the crunchy top was my favorite part.

Steak & Guinness Pie
Printable recipe
¼ pound bacon (try to use applewood smoked if you can) cut into 1 inch pieces
2 lbs chuck roast, chopped into 1 inch cubes (original recipe calls for brisket, but almost every blogger I saw make this used chuck)
1 red onion, medium dice
2 carrots, medium dice
2 stalk of celery, medium dice
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 bottle of Guinness (12oz)
1 cup beef stock
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 box puff pastry, thawed

1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, beaten
unsalted butter
kosher salt & pepper
all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350. Dredge the piece of chuck roast in flour and shake off the excess.

Over medium heat in your favorite oven safe large pan (cast iron works great) cook the bacon then remove leaving the grease in the pot. Salt & pepper the chuck roast pieces. Raise the heat to medium high and add it in batches. Brown it all over (about 4 minutes). If the pan starts to dry up, add a little bit of butter. Remove and set aside.

Dump all but 1 tablespoon of fat out of the pan. Add in the onions, carrots and celery. Salt & pepper to taste. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook one more minute.

Now add the Guinness and bring to a boil making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to free up any of those tasty bits. Add the stock, rosemary, thyme, bacon, and chuck roast back into the pan. Put the pan in the oven, uncovered and cook until the chuck is tender (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours). Check the meat every 30 minutes and add more beer or stock if necessary so the pan doesn’t dry up before the meat is done. Once the meat is finished remove the pan and add in the cheddar cheese. Raise the oven heat to 400.

Guinness Stew pot

Butter a pie pan or another dish that is 8x10 and at least 2 inches deep. Roll out a sheet of puff pastry big enough to cover the bottom of pan with a little overhang. At this point I put the bottom crust into the oven for about 6 to 8 minutes, just to cook it a bit so it wouldn't become soggy. Cut a little slit in it so it won't puff up on you. Remove from the oven and pour the beef mixture in the pan.

Roll out the second piece of puff pastry making it large enough to cover the pan. At this point you can score this piece, making it pretty and decorative, being careful not to cut all the way through. I used a criss-cross pattern. Place on top of the pan to cover, pushing down edge to seal. Brush the top with the egg wash. Place in oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Guinness stew pie tin

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I could be nice and say that I’m a wee bit upset, or that I am going to speak with vinegar instead of sugar (something my Gram always said) but I’m just going to be blunt. I am pissed off. Truly bewildered by someone’s actions. Why? Because there seems to be certain people out on the World Wide Web who take delight in being assholes, pure and simple. Sorry if some of my language offends anyone, but it needs to be said. I received a comment today that said and I quote:

“It's bad enough that 90% of the recipes here are ripped off from other blog authors or copied from well-known publications, but now you're entering them into contests? How lame.”

Well now. First of all please let me clarify one fact. I did not enter my recipe in a 'contest'. The potato ho down is a monthly event where we share our love of all things made with spuds. There are no prizes there is no cash reward, we do it for fun.

Second of all I wanted to point out that I could have just deleted that comment. Ignored that person, which I have done before in the past. Some people just aren’t worth the time or effort. The last time this person made a snide remark, I ignored it. I took the higher road and let it go. This time I didn’t. If you want to read my response, you can go to the comments under the Baked Mashed Potatoes recipe. It had to be said and I think that most of you with blogs out there would have probably done the same thing.

Lastly…I’d love to know the answer to this question Mr. Anonymous ….why do you keep coming back to my blog? Really why? I’d love to know. You don’t like the fact that I “copy” other people’s recipes. Apparently, 90% of the ones that I post are ripped off, which by the way is total bullshit, and you think I’m lame?? I’d love you to point me in the direction of the blog that is filled with only original recipes. As Evil Chef Mom said in her response to you: “All recipes are shared. That's why cookbooks were invented and magazines are published, to share food and ideas. It's not ripped off when you credit the article, publisher, and or author, which she clearly did."

Why do you come here? Why don’t you just move along or is your life so pathetic that you feel the need to leave hurtful comments, anonymously (coward), just to piss someone off? Can’t even be a real man and show your identity? How pathetic. Takes a special kind of person to do that. What a deplorable and pitiful person you must be to take delight in trying to upset others. Just so you know, I will be deleting all further hateful remarks, cause frankly; you are not worth a second of my time or anyone else’s.

I’m pretty sure I won’t get a response to my questions.

I do have questions for the other bloggers out there… How do you deal with people like this? Do you just delete the comments? Fire back? Ignore them?

Oh yeah and stayed tuned tomorrow….I’ll be posting some more ripped off recipes and if you’re lucky, they might even be stolen from a well know publication! What fun!

Mashed Potato Casserole with Smoked Gouda and Bacon

Baked Mashed Pots TS

I spent a lot of time laying in bed reading the March issue of Bon Appetite magazine over the past few days. Cookbooks and cooking related magazines are like a good novel to me. I can get lost in a good cookbook or magazine just as easily as I can in a good novel. This particular issue had so many recipes that I wanted to make, but since I don’t have unlimited time to cook and bake, I have to be choosy, so I chose this recipe by Rick Rodger. Baked Mashed Potato Casserole with Smoked Gouda and Bacon. Smokey cheese and bacon stirred into rich and creamy mashed potatoes, what more do you have to know…potatoes, cheese, and bacon. Nuff’ said.

Baked Mashed Pots plate

This is my entry for this month’s Potato Ho Down hosted by the fabulous Evil Chef Mom, aka Krysta.

I was so surprised that the recipe called for you to return the potatoes back to the pot to cook an additional few minutes. I always do that when I’m making mashed potatoes since I had seen Tyler Florence do it on a very old episode of How to Boil Water. I’ve never seen it referenced in a recipe until now. Letting the water cook out of the potatoes results in really fluffy and light potatoes that are ready to absorb all that yummy butter and milk.

Mashed Potato Casserole with Smoked Gouda and Bacon
Printable recipe
6 slices of thick cut bacon (preferably applewood smoked)
3 large green onions (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
¾ cup sour cream
1/3 cup whole milk
¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups (about 8 ounces) coarsely grated smoked Gouda, divided

Butter a 9x13 inch-baking dish. Cook bacon in a large heavy skillet until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Chop the bacon and place into a medium bowl. Add the green onions and toss to combine.

Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover. Sprinkle with salt. Cover and boil with lid slightly ajar until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20minutes. Drain well.

Return the potatoes to the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until the potatoes are dry and a light film forms on the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, milk and butter. Using the potato masher, mash until almost smooth. Stir in 1 ½ cups of the smoked Gouda and bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Spread potato mixture in a prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Gouda.

Preheat the oven to 375 and bake until cheese melts and edges of potatoes are bubbling, about 30 minutes (40 if chilled).

This recipe can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill potato mixture and remaining bacon mixture separately.

Baked Mashed Pots

These were creamy and delicious, and Gouda was the perfect cheese to give them a smoky touch.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mom according to Evan

I saw this list of "interview" questions on Wisdom of the Moon . I found myself laughing and "awwwing" as I read the responses so I decided to sit down with Evan and ask them to him.

I also asked my almost 14 year old if he'd like to answer them. "Ummm, no thanks Mom". That totally would take away 15 minutes of his precious telephone time. How dare I even ask!

If you have a few minutes I encourage you to sit down with your kids and record the answers to these questions. I typed everything he said, just as he said it, with no editing. My comments are in blue. I think years from now we will re-read them and smile.

Evan interview

1. What is something your mom always says to you?
Hello. Hi. Where’s Moose? I love you. Go get me a comfy cozy blankie.

2. What makes your mom happy?
Go look on your blog you have like 19 of them, oh and Coca Cola gummies and pie.

3. What makes your mom sad?
Oprah. Dying kids. When she thinks about Fatty.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
When she drops something or uses weird words.

5. What did your mom like to do when she was a child?
Go in the pool. Go to Rocky Point. Did this strange yelling thing in her neighborhood.

6. How old is your mom?
42 or 43. (I love him, I'm 44)

7. How tall is your mom?
5 feet. She is SM – all. (My husband always calls me small but he says it like "S –M all", Evan picked up on it)

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Cook and bake and work in the garden, oh and go to the Christmas Tree Shop, and sing strange songs.

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
I’m not around so I don’t know.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Her pies and cupcakes.

11. What is your mom really good at?
Cooking and baking.

12. What is your mom not very good at?

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Apply people. (I work in HR, lol)

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
Chocolate, eggplant, apple pie, Nutella.

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
That she cooks good food for us. That she works hard to take care of us.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Pepe Le Pew ????

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Lay on the couch and watch movies. Play games. Make pancakes.

18. How are you and your mom the same?
We both love sweet things and we look alike.

19. How are you and your mom different?
I don’t call the dog weird names like Baby Doo Doo and she does.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
She doesn’t starve me to death and she makes me pudding.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
In bed with the dog and Things Made Wonderful.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and Shallots

I now have three freezers in my house. Three! Me thinks it’s one freezer too many. We have a chest freezer in our breezeway and another full size fridge in the garage. Chest freezers are a bugger to find things in and measuring in at only 5 feet tall doesn’t help when it comes time to dig in and find something that has made it’s way to the bottom. Half the time John finds me with my legs dangling off the floor. I’m going to try and empty out my chest freezer once and for all and bid it adieu. I need to get everything else in the garage freezer, so there’s going to be lots of “make it up as you go along” recipes. This is one of them.

I use a lot of chicken thighs when I cook. I can get them on sale for as little as 79 cents a pound sometimes so I stock up on them and vacuum seal them into handy little bags of 5 or 10. After crawling down to the dark belly of the chest freezers this past weekend, I found 10 thighs just waiting to be cooked. I then looked through the fridge and saw I had some baby bella mushrooms and some shallots. Hmmmmm…..I can make something with this….and I did.

The flavor of this dish was amazing. I had some of the sauce left over so I’m going to stretch it with some regular sauce and serve it with some breaded chicken cutlets for dinner another night. Fast, easy and economical.....oh and tastes great!

Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and Shallots
Printable recipe
10 bone in chicken thighs
6 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 shallots, sliced thin
1 package of baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
Italian seasoning
Fresh thyme
Salt & pepper

In a large heavy bottomed pot heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil the shallots, and the mushrooms. Cook until the mushroom are slightly softened then add in the chopped garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Dry your chicken thighs thoroughly with paper towel on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add in 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and place half the chicken thighs in the pan and let them sear for about 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Try not to lift the chicken up and peek so it gets a good crunchy sear on both sides. Sear the other half of the thighs, remove from the pan and set aside.

Finally add in the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil and your chopped onion. Let the onions cook until they are translucent. Add in the can of crushed tomatoes and season to your liking. I add in some basil, oregano and Italian seasonings. Let his simmer for about 20 minutes.

Place the thighs in a casserole dish. Add the mushroom and shallot mixture. Pour the sauce over the top and add a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the top. Bake uncovered at 350 for about a half hour.

You could serve this over pasta or rice and it would be fantasic.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Butterscotch Krimpets - a blast from the past

When I saw this recipe on Bunny's Warm Oven I was immediately transported back to my Nana and Papa’s kitchen. Nana and Papa were my great-grandparents. Yes I was lucky enough not only to grow up with my grandparents, but my great-grandparents as well. They were English, both born in England immigrating to the United States back in the early 1900’s. Papa was a mechanic and Nana worked in the hospital. By the time I starting hanging around with them they were both retired and had lots of time for me. They only lived around the corner from us so I visited just about every day, making a point to visit during teatime.

They were very serious about teatime. 4:00pm every afternoon. They drank out of proper teacups with saucers. They were also very serious about their snacking too. They had a snack drawer, which was opened as soon as the kettle went off. Nestled among the Lorna Doones and biscuits was my favorite snack…Tastykake’s Butterscotch Krimpets. Oh how I loved the spongy goodness and that delicious wavy butterscotch frosting.

When I saw a recipe for these on Bunny’s site it was a no brainer for me, I had to make them. It has been at least 25 years since I’ve had one. That’s a long time to go without a krimpet. This recipe is from King Arthur Flour. They call them Butterscotch Finger Cakes. I will always call them Krimpets.

Butterscotch Krimpets
Printable recipes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk (if necessary)

Preheat the oven to 350°F, grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan.For the cake: Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl at least once. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Add the extracts and mix to combine.

Whisk the cake flour, baking powder and salt together, and add to the butter mixture alternating with the milk.Pour the batter into the pan, spread it out, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is springy to the touch and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. Place a piece of parchment ant a cooling rack on top of the pan, and turn everything upside to finish cooling completely.

For the frosting:

Put the butterscotch chips and half of the butter in a heatproof bowl, and melt together over low heat or at low power in the microwave. Stir until smooth; if it looks a little broken, that's ok.

Put the other half of the butter in a mixing bowl with half of the confectioner's sugar. Mix until smooth, then add the melted chip mixture. Add the rest of the sugar and beat again until you have a smooth frosting. Add the milk if necessary to make the frosting a spreadable consistency. Spread the frosting evenly over the inverted cake. To invoke the traditional Krimpet waviness, use a cake comb (cake comb, not the one ya dragged through your head sillies) to put waves in the frosting. Cut the cake in thirds lengthwise, then in nine rows of one and half-inch strips to make 27 pieces.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Aurora what?


My just changed my screen saver and it looks very much like this photo.

Evan plunked down beside me on the couch, looked at the screen and said:

"Hey I know what that is"

"Oh yeah, what is that called? I asked.

He answered very confidently "The Auroa Bora Olive".

Close enough.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chocolate Pie

Never ask this question to a child who is as much of a chocoholic as you are unless you are sure you have a sufficient amount of chocolate in the house, which I usually do, and you are prepared to make chocolate pie at a moments notice, which I am.

Me: What would you like me to make for dinner tomorrow?

Evan: Chocolate Cream Pie??

Me: For dinner?

Evan: Ummm, yeah.

That is a child after my own heart.

No I didn't make chocolate cream pie for dinner, although I have to admit it has crossed my mind on several occasions. I am one of those people who would skip the real meal and just go straight to dessert if I could. I'm afraid #2 son has the same affliction.

I have made Peabody's Pie in the past and it was fabulous. Really fabulous. I almost made it again, but I thought I'd do a little food blog searching and see if there were other pies worthy of making. I found such pie at Homesick Texans site. It's her Grandma's Pie recipe. The original recipe has a meringue topping. Since the meringue topping would just get scraped off in my house, I made plain ole pie. No toppings, no fancy chocolate swirls, no dollops of cream, plain ole pie. I told you I was keepin' it simple people.

This is a very quick and easy pie to make. I might even add this recipe to my Easter menu and if I do I will have to make two cause this pie was gone in 24 hours. Evan's idea of the perfect breakfast is a piece of pie. Can I say it again...kid after my heart....ahhhh. He's a keeper.

Grandma’s Chocolate Pie
Printable Recipe
4 tablespoons of cocoa or 1 1/2 squares of baking chocolate
3/4 cups of sugar
5 tablespoons of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
2 egg yolks, beaten slightly
1 tablespoon of butter

Poke holes in your pie crust with a fork and bake it at 350 until it’s brown, about 20 minutes.
Mix your sugar, flour, salt, cocoa, eggs and milk (all except vanilla and butter) with a whisk. Cook while stirring on medium until it bubbles and thickens, about five to 10 minutes. If it becomes lumpy, just beat out the lumps. Remove from heat and stir in your vanilla and butter.

Pour the chocolate custard into the baked pie shell and let cool completely.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Creamy Seafood Pasta & Pull Apart Biscuits

This is a recipe from my mother-in-law Carol. She raved about it and said I just had to make it, so I did. It was delicious and easy. The secret ingredient - a can of Progresso New England Clam Chowder, or as we say here in RI...Chowda. The sauce is made in the blender. How easy! Saturday we had a late lunch or early supper, Lupper as John calls it.

Creamy Seafood Pasta
Printable recipe
16 ounce package uncooked linguine (we used thin spaghetti cause my husband is pasta challenged and can't tell the difference so the spaghetti went into the pot before I noticed he had the wrong pasta. I love to hassle him. It really doesn't matter what pasta you use).
1 (18.5oz) can of Progresso Traditional New England Clam Chowder
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ pounds uncooked, de-veined, shelled large shrimp or the same amount of pre-cooked shrimp
1 8oz package of fresh sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
4 scallions (1/4 cup), chopped (I was out of scallions so I used 2 leeks, finely chopped, so good)
¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup fresh chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook the linguine till al dente in a large pot of salted water.

In a large skillet heat the oil and add mushrooms and onions. Cook until they are just softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. While the mushrooms and onions cook, make the sauce. In a bender place the clam chowder, milk and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese, and the garlic. Blend until smooth.
Add the shrimp to the pan and cook just until the shrimp turns pink. If using pre-cooked shrimp cook until just heated through.

Stir in the pepper flakes if you are using them. Add the soup mixture to the skillet and cook until heated through. Add in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Pour over the cooked linguine. Toss the coat. Top with additional ½ cup Parmesan cheese before serving.

Note from Mom when she sent this recipe: This is very, very good.

Note from Lisa as she blogged this recipe: You were right, thanks Mom!

We paired the pasta with Pull Apart Biscuits.

This is like a deconstructed, savory version of monkey bread. One of my co-workers sent me this recipe from a Pampered Chef party she had attended. She really liked it, so of course I had to make it and of course I had to put my own little spin on it like I always do.
I ended up changing almost everything about it, even the name, so it really isn't a Pampered Chef recipe anymore. I claim it as my own. So there PC people.

Pull Apart Biscuits
Printable recipe
1 – 10.5 ounce package Grands Biscuits
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons of butter, melted
2 teaspoons of Italian Seasonings

Preheat the oven to 350. Place the melted butter in a bowl. Add in the crushed garlic and Italian Seasonings. Mix to combine. Cut the biscuits into quarters. Add biscuits to the bowl and toss to coat pieces evenly. Fill an 8 or 9 inch ungreased cake pan with the biscuits. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

I used a stoneware pan that wasjust a bit too big for this recipe so my biscuits didn't puff up together as much as I wanted them too. Next time I will use a smaller cake pan.
These were flavorful and really tasty. The whole pan was gone in about 15 minutes.