Thursday, August 31, 2006

Moving beyond PB&J

Hi everyone! I have to make lunches for Evan this year; hot lunch is not an option at his school. I'm doing pbj and he's happy with it for now, but what else can you suggest that is easily portable? Thanks!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Past-a Dessert

(Daniel pronounces "pasta" like "past a".)

My husband will not eat past-a. He thinks it's "weird." I guess he had some overcooked spaghetti somewhere, or something, and now thinks all past-a stinks. Saturday night Michael and I discussed eating at The Old Spaghetti Factory downtown, and Daniel seemed mildly interested, so we might be making some leeway. Maybe all this is because Daniel is used to eating past-a as a dessert! I made some today, and it jumped up my list of favorite past-a recipes (if you could call it a past-a recipe.)

Vermicelli Dessert
the thinnest vermicelli you can find
evaporated milk (optional)
cardamom (optional)

Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed pan with tall sides, on medium low heat. I used a three quart sauce pan (I think). Add some broken-up vermicelli (a few handfulls). Quickly stir. It'll burn in jless than three seconds if the heat is too high or you turn your back. (I did that twice today.) Fry it until it just begins to turn light brown, constantly stirring so that most of it is the same color. Pour in enough milk to cover it. Hike the heat up to medium. Add lots of sugar (I added 8 tsps today). Put in some evaporated milk, if you want. Stir once in a while so your milk doesn't scorch and your sugar doesn't caramalize on the bottom of your pan. Bring it to a boil; then it's done.

Really, this should be more like a milky soup with vermicelli floating in it than like a pasta with sugary milk sauce.

Sorry, I'm sure there are lots of good recipes for this on the web, but I just eyeballed everything today. It was good, though. It's a pretty fast after-work snack.

Note to you guys

I have been working on putting a Chicken Byriani recipe on here, but read a little further down to see what came of that. (The post is called "Chicken Byriani.")

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I kept talking about all the "extras" I wanted to put on Suze's pizza. So, here's one (before I baked it) that uses Alfredo sauce for the pizza sauce, spinach, grilled red and yellow peppers, mushrooms, onions, artichoke hearts, black olives, feta cheese and mozzarella cheese. I can assure you it was totally delish!

I'm thinking of adding grilled eggplant slices to the next pizza. Dad asked me if I had enough pepperoni on it. I said "I have the perfect amount for this type of pizza." When I gave it to him, he took a bite and said it was great. Then he frowned and asked "Didn't you have enough pepperoni?" I said, "I told you I had the perfect amount for this type of pizza. The perfect amount was none."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Cheez-it Burgers

I love cheeseburgers. So much so that one time when I was making burgers using a meatloaf recipe and discovered I was out of croutons and breadcrumbs, I reached for something else in my pantry--Cheez-its. A little odd, I know, but trust me--this is a frequent request from Tom and even my friend Jay. My friend Candi loves them too, but since she moved to Ohio, I doubt I'll be making them for her anymore. Tom went to the grocery store last night before I got home, and I came home to a box of Cheez-its and a bag of burger buns sitting on the counter--luckily, I can occasionally take a hint.

One note--As much as Rachael Ray annoys me greatly (does she have to be so spastic? Can't she control her hands at all?!?), I am like her in the respect that I only measure when baking. Most measures are approximate--feel free to add, subtract, or substitute to your taste.

1 egg
1 to 1.5 lbs. Ground Beef
1/2 c cheese crackers, crushed (use your food processor or throw it a Ziploc bag and grab a hammer)
1t dehydrated minced onion
1t garlic powder
1/2 t dry mustard
1/2 t cumin
dash of cinnamon (I know, sounds crazy, but try it. Really. Just a little bit)
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper, ground

In a large bowl, combine onions, garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, dry mustard, salt, pepper, and crushed crackers. Add meat and beaten egg, and combine with hands, being careful not to squeeze the dickens out of the meat. When all is combined, prepare 4oz burgers by rolling and gently patting. Place burgers on a broiling pan and broil, 2-3 inches from the heat, for 3 minutes on each side for medium well burgers. If you like cheese on your burgers, put the cheese on and place under the broiler again for about 30 seconds, checking to avoid burning. Makes 4-6 burgers.

For meatloaf, combine all the ingredients as noted above and transfer to loaf pan, gently shaping to size. Cover top of meatloaf with barbecue sauce and top with a layer of mushrooms. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

For the meatloaf, you can add chopped onions, diced green peppers, whatever you like to add. Very adaptable.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A great summer treat

Okay, time for a new recipe! This is my mom's recipe for Hot Fudge Sauce. Delicious! Use a stick blender if you have one to blend the things together to get a smoother sauce.

Hot Fudge Sauce

1/2 c Hershey's cocoa
3/4 c sugar
2/3 c evaporated milk
1/3 c light corn syrup
1/3 c butter
1 t vanilla

Mix cocoa, sugar, milk, and corn syrup with a wire whisk (or hand held blender). Cook and stir for at least 1 minute. Cooking a little longer will make a thicker sauce. Stir in 1/3 cup butter and 1 t vanilla. Refrigerate leftover sauce. Makes 2 cups.

Read the minnesotamamma.blogspot to see an absolutely adorable picture of Toby!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mexican chicken and pasta

I've come up with some of my best stuff when faced with the nearly empty cupboard (not to worry-I've just not been to the grocery yet). None of us are big fans of rice, but we all like pasta, so tonight, I created this.

3 cups cooked chicken (I boiled 3 leg quarters and then de-boned them, but you could use canned chicken chunks, too)

Half of a regular-sized bag of egg noodles

One whole onion, coursely chopped

One medium green (a ripe red would work, too) tomato, diced

One can of corn, drained well

One package of taco seasoning mix

1/2 cup water

Heat the water for noodles, and put the onion and tomato in the water. When the onion looks opaque, add the noodles and cook as directed. Drain. Add the water, chicken, corn, and taco seasoning mix, stir, and simmer for a few minutes and serve.

Grilled green tomatoes

My bf planted 8 tomato plants along a fence row in my back yard, and they are prolific. I adore tomatoes, especially fried green ones. I've been dieting (9 lbs. so far-prolly all sweat from the heat of the last few days), and was looking for a way to cook green tomatoes without the fat of frying. I came up with this recipe. Alex even likes it and he's not a green mater fan.

One medium green tomato per person, sliced 1/4" thick

One onion sliced and seperated into rings

Grated parmesan cheese

Garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste (I used Tony Chacheres cajun seasoning blend and LOVED it)

Generously spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Place sliced tomatoes in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle cheese on top, enough to almost cover tomato slices, followed with the seasonings. Place onion slices on top of tomato. Spray everything on top again with the cooking spray. Place under a broiler (I used the 2nd rack level from the top) until cheese begins to bubble. Serve hot.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Margarine, or butter?

I just read an article that answers the question, Which is better for my heart: margarine or butter? That topic has come up here before, so I thought you all might be interested. My dad says butter is better; we have an indian friend who swears margarine is better. Mom and daddy did a comparison once between an olive oil spread, and two other spreads (maybe butter and margarine? do you remember mom?) and the olive oil spread was better in every category, I think (cholesterol, salt, flavor, fat,....I think those were the categories). One thing this article says is that generally, margarine is better, but that some margarines are worse than butter. It says that the stiffer the margarine (like, the stick kind), the worse it is for you. So maybe the stuff in the tubs is best.

Two Pasta "Recipes"

I believe the first of these is the one Ann was urging me to post.

Cheesey Elbow Pasta :)

Ingredients: maccaroni, water, cheese powder, butter, milk

Bring about a quart and a half of water to a boil and add about 7.25 oz of maccaroni.
Boil for about 7 minutes or until it's as tender as you like it, stirring occasionally.
Once it's soft enough for you, drain it.
Put 4 Tbsp of butter in the pot while you drain the pasta.
Put pasta back in the pot.
Add 1/4 cup milk and as much cheese powder as you want (this is often packaged in a handy amount and sold with the maccaroni).
Stir it up until the butter is melted and the cheese evenly distributed.
Serves 2 if they eat like me and there is no accompanying dish.

Naked Spaghetti ala Ed

This is how my friend Ed made his spaghetti. I found I like it this way too.

Bring about a quart and a half of water to a boil.
Add 1/2 lb. spaghetti broken in half
Boil the spaghetti until it's as tender as you like it.
Add olive oil, parmesan cheese, oregano, seasoned salt, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder in whatever amount you like.
Again, serves 1 with my appetite and no accompaniment other than a random can of veggies.

Including Ann's tuna cassarole recipe this covers 60% of my regular recipes.