Monday, October 27, 2008

Leek and Potato Soup

We've been having a run of lovely, warm, blue sky weather. Nice, since we spent yesterday afternoon falling out of our kayaks (on purpose) so we could practice the various ways of getting back in. That said, the water is starting to get a little chillier, and a stiff breeze will send you running for the heat of the interior of a black car that's been sitting in the afternoon sun.
In that same weather mindset, we woke up to a pleasant 60 degrees, with the windows open all day. It got up to 73, and then about 4:00, it got dark and grey, and the wind piped up. We went outside around 5:00, and within thirty minutes, I was in the back door with hair full of fallen pine needles, closing the windows. The temperature has dropped precipitously. It was in the low 50s when I started dinner, and I thought something warming was in order. So of course, my thoughts immediately turned to bourbon. I had Pootie make me an Old Fashioned.
Oh, and then I thought about soup for dinner. It's supposed to get in the 30s tonight! Unheard of for us this time of year - them's February temperatures! (And frankly, I'll believe it when I see it.)
But 30s or not, half of a stiff bourbon drink under my belt, potato soup sounded good and wholesome. So I chopped up a leek, a stalk of celery, a carrot, a couple of slices of bacon, and a russet potato (peeled), and sauteed them in a couple of tablespoons of butter with a generous pinch of kosher salt, then added about a cup of chicken stock, and simmered it for half an hour or so, until the potatoes were tender. Then I added about a cup of cream, warmed it through, and garnished it with a little parmesan cheese, some more bacon, and some chopped scallions.
I loved it. It didn't elicit the telling "Mmmmmm" response from Pootie, but he's been craving salads lately, so it may have been too heavy for what he was in the mood for. But we're out of salad greens, so oh well. At least he's fed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion and Sausage Casserole

I had an idea but no recipe. I was in the mood for butternut squash and my taste buds were telling me that sausage would be good. But where to go from there? I did a quick search online with those two items and came up with a few ideas.

I roasted the squash, whole, for an hour at 350. It was then peeled and cubed and tossed into a 2 quart casserole dish. After that I browned a half pound of turkey sausage and then simmered it in white wine until reduced by half.
The sausage then went into the casserole dish with the squash while I went back to the burner with a pat of butter, a splash of olive oil and an onion sliced really, really, really thin. I caramelized the onion, adding garlic towards the end, then tossed it in to party party in the casserole dish, leaving the oil in the pan. To the oil I added a tablespoon of flour and made a roux. Stir in 2 cups half and half, bring to a boil, then toss in a cup of fontina cheese and 1/2 cup of parmesan (the good stuff). Into the casserole goes the cheese sauce, a sprig of sage (chopped) and a pound of rigatoni, cooked per package directions. This was all tossed together and another handful of each cheese thrown on top.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375, let set 15 minutes and serve with a salad on the side.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chicken Paprika

Today was hard on me. And when you have a day that's hard on you, you tend to reach for comfort food. Since I wasn't able to eat much during the day,(I'm not a an eater when I'm upset), once I managed to wind down, I needed something that said "It'll all be OK". This is not the kind of night for inspired, experimental food. This is the kind of night for something my mom made on a regular basis, that's not terribly complicated. (This is the kind of scene that will really soothe your soul. A hot dinner, a sweet Pootie, and some candles. Except that I need to straighten that lampshade, don't I? ...)

Probably my favorite "mom dish" was chicken paprika. No, to my knowledge, no one in the family was Hungarian, and this meal probably wouldn't even qualify. I'm sure true Hungarians would be righteously indignant at this ripped off meal. But it's still one of my favorites, and frankly, I don't care.

The sauce for the chicken is simple. Sauteed onions, a cup of chicken broth, a tablespoon of paprika, some salt and pepper, and sour cream. Add chicken and put it over rice, and you've got dinner. I also added roasted broccoli. P. hates broccoli. But he ate a bite of it and said "mmmmm..." then followed that with "don't tell anyone, and I'm not eating all of this." But he LOVES the chicken paprika.
I feel better. I feel well-fed and cared for and hopefully tomorrow will be better. It's Friday, at least, so if it isn't better, I have a two-day break. And after tonight's dinner, I don't even mind going in to clean up the kitchen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pot Roast and Carbs

Since I don't drink coffee, mornings can get off to a slow, kind of fuzzy start. If I can focus long enough, I try to get a jump start on dinner. This morning, at O'dark hundred, I put a blade roast in a hot pan and browned one side. Turned around and fixed hubby's lunch and then decided to turn the roast and brown the other side. This is where a running video would have been good. WHOOOOSH and flames exploded from the pan. As many times as I've made pot roast in mumble-mumble years of marriage, I have NEVER whooshed with flames. I quickly slammed a lid on it and the flames were extinguished. But I must say, I was now wide awake and ready to greet the day. No caffeine required. Sorry, tho, no pictures.

Anyway, back to the roast. I put it in the slow cooker, then put a chunked up onion into the pan for a bit of color as well. In went that, whole garlic cloves, carrots, bay leaves (from my Bay Laurel twig that calls itself a tree), carrots and the red wine used to deglaze the pan. Secure the lid, make sure it's plugged in and turned on and then off to dream about mashed potatoes the rest of the day.

When I got home, the roast was done and along with it would go roasted broccoli, mashed potatoes and biscuits. Then the phone rang and hubby wasn't coming home until late. In walked my son who said "thanks mom, but I had Subway with my girlfriend" and off he went to bed to rest before his graveyard shift. So it was me, the dogs and pot roast.

I decided to forgo the veggies (don't tell my mother) and enjoyed the pot roast and carbs. I'll save the broccoli for another day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Shhhhh, this is a deja vu meal. I had poached chicken breasts the other day for later use. Today after work I shredded three chicken boobs and tossed them on the stove with cream cheese, salsa, chilies, black beans and corn. Roll that into tortillas and stuff 8 or so into a pan. Cover with green enchilada sauce (for Monday after work that means canned sauce), top with more grated cheese and bake.

Served with avocado and sour cream.

I have to admit, I'm suffering severe camera envy. As Andie's photos get better and better mine are going to pot. Life just isn't fair...

Southwestern Spiced Chicken with Jack and Beth

It sure is nice to have a whole day to just piddle in the kitchen and cook at a leisurely pace. I didn't have much to do yesterday, and P. was grading papers, so I took my sweet time cooking dinner for Jack and Beth.

Spinach Salad with Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette
Southwestern Spiced Roasted Chicken
Cornbread Stuffing with Chorizo

Cinnamon Squares

Around noon, I made the cinnamon squares. These are great - they're from Dorie Greenspan's Baking cookbook. Cinnamon batter, with a layer of chocolate and cinnamon-espresso sugar in the middle, then frosted with chocolate. One of Ps favorites.

(That's them hiding behind my wine.)

I spatchcocked the chicken (backward, apparently) and rubbed it with a spice rub of chili powder, cumin, a little brown sugar, salt and pepper.

That went on a pan then onto a hot grill for about half an hour. I served that along with a stuffing (dressing, actually) that I made with cornbread, white bread, and chorizo sausage. It went well with the chicken.

After dinner, Jack lured us into a game of Hearts. We now all suspect that this was revenge for his abysmal loss at Spades the last time we played cards. He smeared us all. And then gloated.

Look at him with the score pad, all happy and stuff. I don't know what Beth is smiling about. She lost almost as badly as I did.
We did have a great time, though, and Jack is goin' down next game.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pork Chops with Dijon-Rye Crust

Today was one of those most perfect lazy Saturdays. It rained all day, and was pretty cool (for here) - never broke 60F. We've had a very relaxing day, and despite not doing much of anything at all, P. has still managed to put off grading his papers most of the day. (He got started about 4:30, graded one and decided he needed to go for a walk. Got back just in time to grade half of another and eat dinner. )

So given the "brisk" evening, I opted for a heavier fall menu tonight.

Pork Chops with Dijon-Rye Crust

Potato Rosti (that's Slavic for hash browns)

Green Beans

The pork chops couldn't really be much easier. Just sear them in a pan, top with a little dijon mustard, then press in some rye bread crumbs with a little butter, and bake them until they're done and the bread crumbs are crisp.

The rosti (is there an insert symbol thing on this blog? I can't find one, and need the umlaut for that o.) was easy and wonderful as a side. Of course, P. walked in the kitchen, took one look at the skillet and said "Mmmmm! Hash browns!" Which, indeed, they are. It is. It/they/were/was, - AAAanyway! Because they/it got eaten pretty quickly. Nothing like crispy potatoes to go along with pork!

The green beans were just parboiled and tossed with a little salt and butter. Still crisp. I don't like them as much when they get mushy.
Now I have to go and charge the battery on my new camera so it will be ready to go for tomorrow night's dinner with Jack and Beth.

Beef Stroganoff with Virginia and Curry and Melissa and Richard

Well, it's been a fairly uneventful food week here at 305. I was out of town, then when I returned, it's been burgers, pizza and one night, a delicious chicken stew provided by my mother-in-law (thank you!). I think Ronda and I must be splitting a muse. She was definitely getting all the inspiration this week.

But last night, we had a lovely dinner party with Richard, our Ocean Kayak instructor, his lovely wifelike girlfriend Melissa, Virginia, our friend and classmate, and her charming husband Curry.

Here is a very blurry picture of P (at the end of the table), Robert (behind the candle) and Curry.

And here is another very blurry picture of
Virginia and Melissa.

This was taken using the "candlelight" setting on our new fancy-schmancy camera.

There is no need to tell me that my technique with this setting needs some work. (Although my brother cheerfully volunteered that information.)

I had every intention of taking pictures of the food, but I was having too much fun talking to everyone, so I didn't. In looking for a picture of Beef Stroganoff, I realize that it's not a terribly attractive dish anyway, so let's just skip that part. Here's the menu:

Smoked Trout Dip

Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese, Almonds, Dried Cherries and Apple-Cider Vinaigrette

Beef Stroganoff over Buttered Noodles


Apple Squares with Vanilla Ice Cream

It rained during dinner, but just enough to feel kind of cozy in the pavillion. The company was excellent. We had a great time yakking about everything from politics to kayaking. I totally lost track of the time. I think everyone left around midnight and I was shocked that it had gotten so late. That goes to show how much fun I was having, because I usually start fading around 9:00 PM.

To show you that I actually CAN take decent pictures with the camera, here is a nice one of Virginia out on the water - we went paddling with her Wednesday evening.

See? Not so bad. (She is wearing a helmet because we were going surf kayaking. Which we did with relative success until I almost ran over a surf fisherman and was asked to leave. Yes, John, you're right. I should have rammed him with my boat and whacked him in the head with my paddle.)

More bad pictures coming soon, so stay tuned kids!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Soba Noodle Salad

This is Hoisin Pork, Part 2. When I make Hoisin Pork my son gets excited, he knows the salad is coming the next day. He likes the pork but loves the salad so I try to make this as often as I can. He will actually stay in the kitchen and talk (a four letter word to teens) to me while I make it, plucking pieces of the pork out of the bowl. Evil, I know, but when you have a teenage son and he gets excited over something that isn't female or loud, you use it to your advantage.

This is perfect for our Tuesday nights when I don't get home until after 4:00 and both my guys have to be back out the door by 5:30. The Hoisin Pork makes twice the amount of pork required to serve 4. The leftover pork is chilled and then sliced thin for this salad.

Soba Noodle Salad
Serves 6

Juice from 1/2 lime
3 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 pound cooked Hoisin Pork, sliced thin
6 ounces Soba noodles, cooked per package directions
1 Red Bell Pepper, julienned
2 Scallions, chopped
1 Carrot, shredded
Lime Wedges (for garnish)
Red Pepper Flakes (for garnish)

In a small bowl whisk Hoisin sauce, lime juice and oil. (Adjust ingredients to taste.) In a large bowl toss noodles, pork, scallions and carrot with dressing. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Serve with lime wedges and a light sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hoisin Pork

While Andie is off enjoying her vacation, the rest of us stiffs continue with day to day drudgery, including dinner. I almost changed the menu due to winter making an early appearance (it was freaking cold) in the desert, but decided this is too good to miss. My pan was a little low in the oven, so the pork is medium rare on top and medium on the bottom. Please don't hold that against me, it was still delicious.

Dinner was Hoisin Pork with Acorn Squash, Rice Medley (with Hoisin), and Rosemary Garlic Bread.

Hoisin Pork

2 pounds acorn squash -- seeded and sectioned
8 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
leaves from 1 sprig of rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds pork tenderloin
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

Preheat oven to 375. Place squash and garlic in a large roasting pan. Rub pork with salt and pepper; place in pan with veggies. Drizzle pork and squash with oil and then sprinkle on rosemary.

Roast 25 minutes, then brush pork with Hoisin sauce. Continue roasting another 15 minutes, until medium rare, or 140 internally. Let meat stand 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with squash, garlic and pan juices. This is actually a two part recipe, so be sure to save the left over pork for later.

To be continued...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Salad, Steak and Potato Gratin

Mixed Greens with Red-Wine Vinaigrette and Fried Goat Cheese

(OK I'm rather pleased with this one)

Grilled Rosemary and Garlic rubbed Tenderloin

Potato/Gruyere Gratin

...aaaaand not so pleased with this one. I should have cut the meat. This didn't make a lovely plate.

Anyway, I discover that the new camera has an entire setting for food! Rock! Look at this cookie! Just look at it!


So far, I'm happy with my new toy. The Canon software that goes with it? Let me say, it SUCKS!!! Canon, I hope you're reading this. You could have made it a hell of a lot more inuitive. For example, when you pull up the photos that are on the camera, wouldn't you think that double-clicking on the image would let you view an enlarged version? I did! But nnnnooooo... it does nothing. NOTHING! So you guys seriously need some work on the user-friendliness and functionality of your software, but the camera itself is very nice indeed.

Dinner tonight was simple, but good. I'm headed to Atlanta tomorrow morning for a couple of days, and will not be cooking, so I'm hoping Ronda will fill in the gaps for me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chinese Chicken Soup

You aren't getting me anywhere near lima beans or peas. Snow peas, however, are a different ball game. I doubled the amount called for in this recipe, they are one of my favorite veggies. One drawback to it, it has mushrooms, but I plucked them out of my bowl and dropped them in hubby's. We have a mixed marriage, he loves them and I can't stand them.

So here's the recipe, a fast one that uses up leftover chicken.

6 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup lite soy sauce
2 tbsp brown chili sauce
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
finger piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cups cooked chicken breast, large dice
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 cup or snow peas
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and julienned
1 tsp lime zest
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Combine broth, soy sauce, chili sauce, ground red pepper, lime juice, and ginger in a large sauce pan, boil 5 minutes. Add chicken and shiitakes to broth and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in remaining veggies, bring back to a simmer and then remove from heat. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

We had pot stickers on the side, sadly not homemade, so I won't say much more about them.

Congrats Andie, those were lovely pics from your camera.

Pecan Crusted Chicken

Dinner Tonight

Oh, boys and girls! Guess what came in the mail today? Yes, true, our utility bill and several catalogues, but guess what else?? Yes!! My new camera!!

Now before you get too excited, please understand that I am actually reading the manual on this one (usually I grab whatever it is out of the box with one hand, take the manual in the other hand, toss those over my shoulder and say "Do I LOOK like a sissy?"). But this time, I am determined to improve my pitiful picture-taking skills. I am not up to Ronda's fancy slideshow standard yet, but I did manage to get a couple of close-up photos of the dogs.

(Steamboat was easier, since he does actually lie still. Love Boat (Dinky), on the other hand was all "What's that? Can I eat it?" so subsequent photos of him were not quite as successful.

Anyway, here is a shot of dinner. It's a start. Obviously I have a LONG way to go, and you lucky people can make the journey with me! The colors look "redder" than they really were. It's really more brown. This kind of makes it look tomato-ey, and it wasn't. I'm working on it!

Yes, Natalie, those are lima beans over on the side of the plate. So far, I'm impressed with this camera, and the software that comes with it. I'm not a complete gadget geek, but I am in the computer industry, so I'm always pleased with an interface that's reasonably intuitive, and I can say that this one is, especially since I know squat about shutter speed and F-stops and lighting and all that stuff. It is NOT necessary to point out to me that is obvious. We got this one because it's waterproof up to 33 feet (for our kayaking) and shock-proof up to a 6 foot drop. (Not that we're clumsy or anything.)

Oh yes. Dinner. Well, this is:

Pecan-Crusted Chicken

Mashed White and Sweet Potatoes
(I think this is the only recipe my brother ever asked me for - he does like it.)

Lima Beans
(yes, that's right. lima beans. For all you "peas eaters", these are a much better alternative.)

For the chicken:
  • Pound a couple of boneless,skinless chicken breasts flat between two sheets of waxed paper. This is an especially enjoyable task if you have had a Rather Bad Day, which I have. I have to say, that bit went faster than I would have liked.

  • Salt and pepper the pounded chicken.

  • Dip in flour and shake off all excess.

  • Dip in a beaten egg.

  • Dip in a mixture of ground pecans and flour - I used about 1/4 cup ground pecans and 3/4 cup flour.

  • Fry in a pan with about 2 Tbs. of olive oil.
  • Cook on each side until browned - about 4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a paper-towel lined oven-proof pan and keep in the oven at 200F while you make the sauce.

  • Deglaze the pan with about 1/3 cup of white wine or apple cider. Add about a teaspoon of maple syrup, a generous pinch of salt, and 1 Tbs. chopped sage. Simmer until reduced by about half, then add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream to thicken. Stir until blended and serve over the chicken.

For the potatoes:

  • Boil russet potatoes in salted water for about 20 minutes, then add sweet potatoes. I usually do a 2 white to 1 sweet ratio, and I add the sweet potatoes later, because they cook faster. Total boiling time will be about 45 minutes. For the two of us, I used one large russet and one sweet about half that size, and we had leftovers. It would have fed four easily.

  • Peel and mash the potatoes together. I use a ricer, because it keeps the potatoes a little on the fluffy side.

  • Add about 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 stick butter, and 1/2 cup cream. Simmer and stir together. Before serving, add 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and garnish the top with nutmeg.

I'm not bothering with telling you how to prepare the lima beans. I can hear you all bitching from here. I like lima beans. And they're green, and they count as green on the plate. So there.

Now I think I hear the end of the kitchen cleaning, so maybe it's safe to go back in there. Watch here for more photos of irrelevant subject matter, as I learn the skills necessary to operate the Olympus (wait. what is it -) 1030 something or other.

Cheers, humans!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Steak Salad

I spent all day watching this motorgrader go back and forth, back and forth in front of my office. It was placing a new course of smelly, nasty asphalt. By the end of the day I had quite a headache and knew that a heavy dinner wasn't going to help. A little revamp and it was an Italian style grilled steak and salad with rustic pulled croutons.

The skirt steaks were marinated in red wine, salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic. While they marinated I grabbed a loaf of garlic/asiago bread and pulled it apart into 1" pieces. These were tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Brown at 400 until golden, about 10 minutes. A lower temp for longer time will net a solid crunch, but I like mine a bit soft in the middle. Kind of like me.

When hubby finally arrived home an hour late (I was just about ready to break out a Reese's Whipp candybar and skip dinner) he tossed the steaks on the grill for a couple of minutes on each side. (We like them almost still-mooing rare.) I assembled the veggies and tossed the salad while the steaks rested, then dinner was ready.

On a side note, the LA TIMES had a great article today on what kitchen essentials that you need and luxuries to pass up.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Roasted Pork Loin and Spades

Tonight was our dinner and spades night with Ps parents. We have a dinner and cards thing going. We go to their house for dinner and Rook, (at which I suck) and they come to our house for dinner and Spades (at which I am not bad). Tonight was our turn. So we had dinner:

Roasted Pork Loin with Mustard Maple Crust

Roasted Butternut Squash With Balsamic Reduction

Cheddar Biscuits

Pecan-Chocolate Squares with Vanilla Ice Cream
The warm goat cheese part of the salad is goat cheese rounds dipped in egg, then rolled in sliced almonds and heated at 400 for a few minutes, until it warms and softens and crisps up the almonds. That was pretty good. The Roasted pork loin was just a brined pork loin roast that I salted and peppered and coated with a mixture of mustard and a little maple syrup. The butternut squash was roasted, cubed, and then pan-fried with some chopped sage and shallot and a little bit of white balsamic vinegar.
Those Pecan-Chocolate Squares were a new recipe I tried out of Fine Cooking. Holy cow, those things are good. And easy! They're really rich, so the vanilla ice cream was a good call. It cut that a little. It's basically a thick cinnamon shortbread crust, then a layer of chocolate, and a topping of pecans boiled with honey and brown sugar. Wow.
After dessert, we cleared the table for spades.


We were losing up until the end, then we managed to set them. They probably could have won, but we have the 9:00 rule, and it was 8:59. Alas, not enough time for a comeback.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Panini Grilled Chicken

Have I mentioned that I love my panini grill? It is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. It reminds me of those old sandwich makers from TV. Remember those? The lady with big hair and long fingernails showing the guy in the fuzzy sweater with the fake British accent how to make omelets, grilled cheese and chocolate pudding pies in her miracle sandwich maker. We received one as a wedding present and still have it tucked away somewhere. It made darned good grilled cheese but the so-called pies, WonderBread filled with instant pudding, weren't quite as s good as a Hostess. But I digress. Back to dinner.

When I am in the mood for chicken breasts, the thin boneless ones, I always pull out the panini maker. Tonight we went simple, lightly seasoned chicken breasts, baby broccoli and mashed potatoes. I have also grilled pork chops, tuna, summer squash, peppers and, of course, paninis on my panini grill. Those are future blogs, tho. Here is tonight's dinner.

For dessert it was blood orange soda and vodka. Hubby is of polish heritage and, since they invented vodka, he is pretty darn picky. In our freezer are two brands: Blue Ice, an American vodka we enjoy in mixed drinks and, for the occasional straight shot, Chopin, a Polish vodka. Both are made from potatoes and offer, to our taste buds, a smoother taste than standard rye versions. And speaking of vodka, I'm off to refill my drink. Good night, folks.

Chicken Curry

Monday night. The start of another week. It's been a busy day, work, gym, more work, and a couple of after-work errands, plus some things to take care of at home after the errands. A good night for something that simmered. It's warmed back up here again (big surprise) and we were around 80F, so I didn't really crave something autumn-y. Looking at the fridge and pantry contents, a curry sounded good.

So I put some Jasmine rice on to steam, and pulled out some chicken thighs, a small sweet potato, a red bell pepper, and a small yukon gold potato, some chicken stock, red curry paste, and a can of coconut milk. Here you go:

4 chicken thighs, quartered
1 Tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper
1 small sweet potato, diced
1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small yukon gold potato, diced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbs. red curry paste
1 can coconut milk

Salt and pepper the chicken thighs. Heat a 9 or 10" pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the red curry paste. Heat about 1 minute, until the paste is fragrant, or starts choking you out of the kitchen, whichever comes first. Add the chicken and brown on each side, if you can stand it. If you can't, then pour in the blasted chicken stock to dilute that red curry paste so you can tolerate the fumes. Add the sweet potato, red pepper and potato and simmer until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 12 minutes. Add the can of coconut milk and simmer until the flavors are blended and the coconut milk has thickened, about 10 more minutes. Don't use the "lite" coconut milk. Seriously. It's just watered down coconut milk, and it will take twice as long to thicken.

And now!! The 305 news! I know you guys (all two of you) are going "Why is there no bad video? Why no pathetic "Flip Snaps"? Well! I didn't bother tonight, because our CAMERA GOT ORDERED TODAY!! Whoo hooo! (No, this does not preclude my filming any company we have before the camera arrives. Too bad. You don't have to watch it, John.) But the new camera should arrive hopefully toward the end of the week, and you can watch my skills just grow and grow as I master a camera that actually WORKS! Oh, exciting times here at 305!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday night Steak and Baked Potato

It's been a pretty busy weekend at 305, and we were kind of tired by this evening. Even Dinky, (who really didn't do much of anything).


In review: Friday night, Pot Roast and Jenn and David. Saturday morning (early) an ocean kayaking class with Salt Marsh Kayak. (Robert, our instructor, is just the heat. We love him.) But I'm pretty low level, skill-wise, and got beat all to hell in the surf (again). We were pretty wiped. Saturday night, we went to dinner at P's sister's (Diane, her husband Craig, and our nephew Benjamin). We were WONDERFUL company - close to comatose. We were home and in bed by 9:30. Then this morning brunch with Steph, Chris and their kids, and yard work in the afternoon. And we're feeling every one of our 40 years. (OK, I'm 41. Shut up.)

So tonight, I wasn't up for much. Steak and baked potato is a good old standby. I put a cast iron skillet on the grill and heated it up to 500, then took a couple of filets and seared them and made a little brandy pan-sauce to go with. Served with baked potato (I always split one in half and bake it for the two of us) and some sauteed spinach.

Seared Steak with Brandy Pan-Sauce
Baked Potatoes
Spinach Sauteed with Onion

Easy, quick enough, and relaxed. We've had another wonderful weekend, and are rested and fueled for another Monday. I can't believe we're there again already. Tempus fugit, non autem memoria. It's all good.

Brunch with Steph, Chris and the boys

Sunday brunch is a great thing. It's not as much work as dinner, and you get to spend a lot of time just sitting and relaxing and enjoying the best part of the day with friends, then still have time to get some things done afterward.

This morning, Steph and Chris brought Aiden and Alex over for brunch.

We started with coffee, a plate of bacon (for everyone, not apiece) and some homemade blueberry muffins.

Once we'd gotten warmed up, we moved to some mimosas (for the grownups) and a visit. Then we had a breakfast casserole (french bread, eggs, sausage, mushrooms) and some curried fruit. And more talking.


Then the kids were getting ansty to go do something more fun than listen to a bunch of adults yak, and they left us to continue with the rest of our Sunday. Which unfortunately now means that we have to go outside and do yard work. Today is Wage Holy War on the Wisteria day. Blech. I'd rather still be lingering over the remnants of brunch.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pot Roast with Jenn and David

Oh, you guys are going to be so excited. This is probably my best Flip work to date! Check it!


Aaahhhhhhh, yeahhh...Who's your daddy?!

(Jenn's not really 5' 8".)

It was a beautiful cool evening. I'm so glad fall is here! We had drinks outside(we made them a Northwoods #2 and they gave thumbs-up to that) . But it was already pretty dark. David saw an owl fly over. Has anyone noticed it's getting dark pretty early these days?

Mixed greens with apple, pecans and apple cider-maple vinaigrette
Pot Roast
Crusty bread

Strong Arm Shiraz (thanks Sara and Eric!)

Chocolate espresso pudding

I'm late getting this up because I was too tired to do it after dinner, and then we left to kayak early this morning. Jenn just couldn't wait to relive her evening, and apparently checked as soon as they got home last night. She's bent that I didn't have it up yet. Here you go, chicklet! Thanks for coming!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


This is, by choice, the closest I get to anything ocean related. Pasta shells. I came home from work and browned the hamburger, saute'd the onions and garlic, then put the sauce to simmering. (Thought about getting the cook sauced, but I still had to run a dog to the vet.)

After the trip to the vet I boiled the shells. Hey, there you are, Andie. I do enjoy a water sport! Sliced the left over ciabatta bread in half and made garlic bread with it and there, dinner was ready.

One small problem. I forgot that hubby was working late. With brat boy sleeping (he works nights) it was just me and the dogs enjoying a nice pasta supper. While it was good, I could have been gorging on PB&J and Reese's Whipps and no one would have been the wiser.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ciabatta and Kale Soup

Andie has been so good at posting and I again have been sitting back, reading and enjoying. Every once in awhile I get off my butt and post, just to show her up with my fabulous (cough cough) photography skills. You'll note I like close ups. Extreme close ups. This is so that you can't see my mess in the background. Looks cool, tho, doesn't it?

Anyway, our kitchen is slowly coming back together (it will be a future post) and my menfolk were both gone for the evening so I decided to get a head start on tonight's dinner last night. And I managed to do it in between gorging myself on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an orgy of Reese's Whipps, my new favorite candy bars.

According to the calendar it is fall. Mother Nature apparently doesn't know this, but my taste buds do, so it was another soup. Sausage-Potato-Kale to be precise. I browned the sausage and brought the soup just to where it was ready for the kale.

But what is soup without fresh bread? Ciabatta Bread would be perfect. It's tender, mild and perfect for a soup with strong flavors, like sausage and kale. I put the sponge together and let it sit overnight. In the morning I shoveled it all into the food processor, but don't look too close at the pictures or you'll see where the superglue holds the bowl together and the permanent green line around it from trying to chop kelp. For the record, kelp and Cuisinarts don't mix. Take my word for it. The dough spent the rest of the day in the fridge, just chilling.

After work I pulled the dough out to warm up, chopped the kale and put it and the soup back on to simmer. Then shaped the dough, let it rise and bake. In the background hubby sat on the couch hollering "Honey, quit taking pictures and let the food cook! I'm wasting away out here!" I told him to blame Andie, it's all her fault that I was taking pictures.

Dinner finally came together and hubby was satisfied.

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops

But first!

Here's what I'm listening to :
Eef Barzelay's Bitter Honey

Not interested, you say? Or maybe "what the hell?" Well, you have to know by now that this kind of weird picture is going to be better than anything I'm about to post regarding dinner.

First, we started out with a most wonderful cocktail found in this month's Bon Appetit. I have to say that I almost never pick out cocktail recipes except out of Imbibe (where I learned to make homemade ginger ale - OMG!!). I just realized I need to add them to my links list, AND I need to do a blog on them.

But tonight, I had Pootie make me the Northwood #2. (I don't know, either. Maybe #1 wasn't very good so he tossed it?). It was in this month's Bon Appetit, and looked great and was invented by David Moo, co-owner and head bartender of the Brooklyn bar Quarter.
3 Tbs. gold rum
2 Tbs. brandy
1 1/2 Tbs. apple cider
1 tsp. pure maple syrup (preferably grade B)
3/4 tsp. lemon juice (fresh)
Ice Cubes
2 thin apple slices
Combine first 5 ingredients in cocktail shaker; fill with ice. Cover and shake vigorously until cold. Strain into two coupe glasses (we used martini glasses, because I am not sophisticated enough to even know what the hell a coupe glass is, much less own one - or two). Cut slit in each apple slice and attach to rim of each glass. (Also known as "garnish" - don't know what was up with that). Note that we left the apple slice out.

Mmmm! It's not cloyingly sweet, and doesn't have that nasty after-taste you get with some cocktails when they lose their cool temperature - you know what I mean. It just stays smooth and lovely and like a real taste of fall. OK, yeah, it was 80 and sunny here today, but I'm entitled to pretend. It's supposed to get cooler tonight. I'm preparing.
Onward with dinner!
Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops
2 pork loin chops
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix together the bread crumbs, rosemary and parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper the pork chops. Put an oven-proof skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the butter and the olive oil to the skillet. When the butter stops foaming, dip the pork chops in the beaten egg, then the bread crumb mixture, and place in the skillet. Brown on one side, about 4 - 5 minutes, then flip the chop and brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. Place skillet in the oven and bake the pork chops about 20 minutes, until done in the middle. The time here is going to depend on how thick the chops are.
I served these with mashed potatoes and some spinach sauteed with onion.
Um... OK That's all I got.
Cheers out there!