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Preview: What's In My Kitchen?

What's In My Kitchen?

I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

Updated: 2015-09-17T01:24:20.910-05:00


Creamy Cauliflower and Ham


Cauliflower and I have a tricky relationship. It's in the cabbage family, and I pretty much hate anything that even remotely resembles cabbage. In fact, raw cauliflower smells almost exactly like cabbage to me . (And don't get me started on cole slaw. Cabbage and mayonnaise together? Just try and tell me that's not some kind of torture from a 3rd world country. Force me to eat that and I'll tell you anything you want to know.*  Seriously: is mayonnaise even made from ingredients found naturally in this world?).*To the people who give me the security clearance that allows me to keep my job: JUST KIDDING! I would totally eat cole slaw!  But a few years ago, my mother-in-law made some cauliflower roasted with Parmesan and garlic. I ate a little to be polite and discovered that roasted cauliflower does not taste like rotten cabbage soup, which is what I had always kind of assumed cauliflower tasted like. In fact, I went back for seconds.I promptly flew home and bought myself a head of cauliflower, determined to make the deliciousness for myself. But when I unwrapped the cauliflower and THAT SMELL hit me, I chickened out. She must have had some special West-Coast-Non-Smelling-of-Grossness Cauliflower variety that is not available in the Deep South, because EWWW, that smell was not going away. I gave the cauliflower to my sister.But then! Then a roasted cauliflower puree came as a "layer" in some overly fancy dish I ordered in some over priced restaurant somewhere. And I was hooked again. I decided I was going to learn how to roast me some cauliflower, even if it meant I had to wear a bacon scented handkerchief to get through it.And get through it I did. I still don't roast cauliflower often, but that's mostly because a head of cauliflower is more than enough for two people, and let's just say The Professor does not pull his weight when I cook vast amounts of vegetables. Especially when I've had to pull out a bacon scented handkerchief to do it, because then all he wants is bacon.All of that is to say that I roasted a head of cauliflower last weekend, and since there was only me eating it...I had some leftovers.  I had bookmarked this recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen awhile ago, and thought it would just fit the bill. And it did. Oh my goodness, this is even better. It's not one of those "Please pretend this is mashed potatoes" recipes; It's just a creamy, slightly salty, delightfully addictive bowl of goodness. I made a few adjustments to the original recipe to use what I had on hand*; either way this dish is amazing. And since The Professor is out of town, it is all mine. And that's what I call planning ahead.Holy cow this is a crappy picture. Go look at Kalyn's instead.Ingredients: 1 head of cauliflower, chopped up1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil1 tsp dried oregano6 oz. Laughing Cow Cream Cheese spread (That's one container - This is what I had in the fridge) 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt  2 Tbsp grated Asiago cheesefresh ground black pepper to taste1 cup Canadian Bacon, diced3/4 cup grated low fat Colby JackPreheat the oven to 350F. Toss Cauliflower with olive oil and oregano; bake for 30 minutes or until soft.Mix cream cheese, yogurt, asiago and black pepper together in an oven-proof bowl.  Add Cauliflower and mash to combine all the ingredients.Stir in the Canadian bacon and top with Colby Jack.Bake for 30 minutes, until it is completely hot and bubbly.*My changes: roasted cauliflower instead of boiled; Laughing Cow instead of cream cheese; Asiago instead of Parmesan; Canadian Bacon instead of ham. [...]

Potato cakes


My brother mentioned on Thanksgiving that I have a food blog, and oh maybe I'd like to do something with it sometime soon? He wouldn't take my lack of camera batteries as an excuse, so this is for him. Fried food for you, little brother!

For some reason, I thought that 3 pounds of potatoes for 5 people on Thanksgiving sounded like a reasonable amount. And it might have been, if I only served mashed potatoes. But I went and loaded the menu up with 64 different carbs, rendering the mashed potatoes an overkill. A delicious overkill, but overkill nonetheless.

And because my mashed potatoes are not unhealthy enough - hello butter and half-and-half, loves of my life - I decided to fry the leftovers. Hello clogged arteries!

These were really good, though. Possibly even worth the inevitable heart attack. I got 10 little cakes out of this recipe

2 cups cold mashed potatoes
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup shredded cheese
2 Tbsp flour, + dredging
butter/oil for frying

Heat your butter and/or oil in a skillet over medium high heat.

Put the potatoes, egg, cheese and 2 Tbsp flour in a bowl and mix until combined.

Form into small cakes - about the size of a sausage patty.

Dredge the cakes lightly in flour and put them into the hot oil. Cook until browned, then flip - about 4-5 minutes per side.

Drain on a towel, and sprinkle with salt while hot.

And just for my little brother, here's a Crappy Cell Phone snap of the little wonders:


Notes: The potatoes need to be cold or the cakes won't hold together very well.
Use butter or oil or mix it up. I used half butter and half canola oil.
If you make these too big, they'll fall apart when you flip them.
I think adding a little hot sauce would be awesome, but then The Professor would accuse me of trying to kill him. So I skipped the hot sauce.

Peach Butter Banana Bread


A few weeks ago, I scored a bunch of cheap peaches - and by "bunch", I mean 8 pounds, which is roughly 4 times the amount of peaches ever seen in my kitchen before. When The Professor saw me come in from the farmer's market, he groaned. All he could see in his future was a mound of dirty pots, pans and utensils that would spill out of the sink and onto every available work surface. He also saw in his future a prolonged period of time in which he would not be welcome in the kitchen - he has a miraculous ability to always be in the spot to which I am moving - and this made him sad, with all of the food being in the kitchen and him banished.

And then I turned Operation: Peach Butter into a two day project, which only gave me the opportunity to dirty the dishes all over again. Luckily, I remembered to pull out food for dinner.
So at the end of the weekend I had over 7 pints of Spiced Peach Butter (where "spiced" = ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon), divied up into 28 little containers. Because I had done 7 rounds with my boiling water canner and couldn't face another one, I left the last 1/2 pint unprocessed and put it in the fridge.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a recipe for banana bread that used apple butter as an ingredient, and from then on, that peach butter was destined to go into some banana bread.


  • 3 cups self rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 slightly beaten eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 medium bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup spiced peach butter
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
Heat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and pumpkin pie spice.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, bananas, peach butter and oil together. Add to the flour mixture and stir until combined (it's gonna be lumpy).

Divide into two greased 8 inch loaf pans and cook for 45 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, and then on racks until completely cool.

Would it be too meta to spread slices of this with more peach butter?
If I ever make this again, I think I'd add another banana. It didn't have quite enough banana flavor for me.

Pasta and Seafood and Wine. Oh. My.


NOTE: My camera is being pissy, so there are no pics for this post. But PLEASE believe me: any pics I took would not do it Justice, because: It. Is. Awesome.

I’ve been working hard on a mushroom recipe that’s giving me absolute fits, and sometime around a month ago I decided that it was going to be the next recipe I posted.

And then it started giving me even more fits, and being the stubborn person I am, I posted nothing.

So, no mushrooms today, because I finally said “forget the ‘shrooms” when a pile of shrimp and mussels crossed my path singing a song of “Eat me NOW”.

Isn’t that how everyone gets their seafood?

This dinner was AMAZING. The Professor wants to eat it every day for the next month, but perhaps the best description of just how good it was is this: I took MULTIPLE bites of food between sips of wine. And to get that kind of attention from me, you pretty much have to be George Clooney.

A big hunk of a crusty bread is an absolute must to catch all the garlicy-lemony-additcive-y juices. And best of all, it’s really fast – it almost came together in the time it took my angel hair to cook. And...did I mention there’s wine?

[insert picture of linguini with a steaming pile of shrimp & mussels covered in an incredibly fragrant tomato sauce. Thank you.]
  • ~ 6 ½ ounces of whole wheat linguini
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼-ish cup red wine
  • 1 lb mussels
  • 1 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled (I used 31-35, which is somewhere between medium and large)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Start the pasta cooking in lightly salted water.

Heat olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it’s softened. Add the garlic and cook until the smell of onions and garlic makes you want to weep with happiness (a couple of minutes).

Add the can of tomatoes, thyme, oregano, a dash or so of salt & a few twists of fresh cracked black pepper to the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add mussels , shrimp and lemon juice; stir, cover and cook on medium high until the shrimp are pink and the mussels have opened (do NOT eat the mussels that remain closed).

Serve over drained pasta, with a hunk of bread.

Note: I completely forgot that I had saffron in my spice cabinet, but a pinch of that would make an amazing addition.(image)

Yellow Rice "Something", Accompanied By the Worst Pictures of Food Ever


Last night I got home from the gym, thinking I had about 2 hours before I had to leave for choir practice. I started some onions cooking before I even really decided what I wanted to do with them, and then happened to glance at my email and see that Plans Had Changed - I had exactly 65 minutes. So I started grabbing things out of the fridge and pantry, chopping them with wild abandon before flinging them in the pot. The results were surprisingly tasty, but I have to say that's more a result of Mahatma's Yellow Saffron Rice (free, thank you Publix!) than anything else.So first thing's first: I had about 3 onions left from last week's CSA box, so those were the first to go in the pot with a good glug of olive oil, ready to soften to my heart's content.I grabbed a half of bell pepper out of the fridge and a handful of shredded carrots and threw them in.After those sweated away for a few minutes, I dumped in the Yellow Rice mix and 3 cups of chicken stock (that were in my fridge, waiting to be frozen, until my laziness took too long and thus had to use it for something edible).Then I forgot to take a picture and jumped in the shower.When I got out, I grabbed a leftover hamburger patty out of the fridge and chopped it up because The Professor was not happy about the lack of meat in my Pot of Dinner.Then I found an ounce or 2 of mozzarella - the real stuff, not the part-skim I usually buy, in my fridge and decided to chop it up and throw it in to add some creaminess.After I let that melt for a minute or two, I plated it up and had the fancy thought of cutting some fresh chives for a garnish.Why I thought this deserved a garnish, I'll never know. I do know that it actually tasked quite yummy and made excellent leftovers for lunch today. And that counts as a Total Win. [...]

Happy National Cheeseball Day!


So. It's National Cheeseball Day. How did you celebrate?

The Bestest Friend and I celebrated with a cheeseball, of course.


Then we had a cookout - burgers, to be precise.


That's my burger: Hamburger with spinach, tomato, mozzarella cheese, roasted bell pepper and grilled portabello mushroom on a toasted bun.

(image) That's the BFF's burger: Veggie burger with A1, ketchup, mustard, mozzarella cheese, spinach, grilled portabello mushrooms, roasted bell pepper and tomato on a grilled bun.

Do we know how to celebrate or what?(image)

Spanish Rice, Easy or EASIEST - Your Choice


Two for one special this time, Kittens! I've got this Spanish Rice recipe that I love, love, love (cumin + chili powder = lovex3). I make it for the now-annual Superbowl Taco Party. The first time I made it for the party I was time crunched and I wondered if there was a way to make the easy recipe even easier, and guess what - there is! And better yet, it only has one step. Even better yet, it still tastes awesome. My only problem tonight is that I'm out of cheese. And cheese makes everything Better than Best.

This is pretty forgiving - I've used no stock and all water without much flavor difference. Regular paprika works well too, although I'm partial to the smoked variety. And some hot sauce tossed in can kick it up a notch or five.


Easy Spanish Rice 1 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup rice
3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika

Saute the onion, pepper and cloves in the canola oil until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rice, stock, water, cumin & paprika. Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until rice is done.

Easiest Spanish Rice:

Omit oil, onion, bell pepper & Garlic. Add the remaining ingredients to a pot along with a teaspoon of garlic powder and a half teaspoon of onion powder. Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until rice
is done.

(image) (image)

Stuffed Focaccia


Last weekend, thanks to some snow and a federal holiday, I got an unexpected 4 day weekend.Not being one to waste such an opportunity, I spent Friday doing absolutely nothing. Well, I went to the gym while it snowed. Then went out to eat. And then I came home and sat on my couch through about 6 hours of mostly-crappy movies. The couch had sucked me in, though, and I couldn't escape.Sunday, The Best Friend came over for lunch and about 9 hours of almost do-nothing-ness. Except for one thing: we were idly paging through cookbooks and found a recipe for focaccia bread. Which we agreed that we had to make immediately. And by "we had to make" I mean "she drank wine and watched me knead dough".From start to finish it took a couple of hours. But dinner that night was some wonderful focaccia bread, stuffed with feta and oregano, topped with kosher salt and rosemary. It was ok the next night heated up with dinner, but this is one bread that must be eaten straight from the oven. Which will burn off half of your taste buds, but the remaining ones are so happy, that they gladly survive the sacrifice.Stuffed FocacciaOriginal recipe - which I didn't follow much past the actual dough - from "Bread" by Eric Treuille.Ingredients:For the dough:2 tsp dry yeast1 1/4 cups water3 1/2 cups bread flour1 1/2 tsp saltolive oilFor the filling:8? oz feta, crumbledsmall handful of fresh oreganoFor the topping:4 Tbsp? olive oil1 tsp? kosher salt2 Tbsp? fresh rosemaryFirst, the dough:Dissolve the yeast in warm water and let stand for five minutes. The original recipe called for 2 tsp of yeast, but mine was kind of on the old side so I used 3 - which was unnecessary, as this made it rise higher than real focaccia bread should rise. So you can go ahead and kick me out of the "Real Focaccia Bread Makers" club.Put the flour in a large bowl and combine with the salt. Make a well in the middle, pour the yeast/water in the center and stir with a wooden spoon - I ended up using my hands - until combined.Flour your kneading surface, and knead for about 5 minutes, until it's elastic-y.Place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover it with a warm cloth and let rise until doubled. I turned my oven on while I was mixing the dough; when the dough was done, I turned it off and set it on top of the stove, so mine rose in about 30 minutes. Is this cheating? I don't care.Punch the dough down and divide into 2 equal pieces. Chafe* for 5 minutes, then let it alone for a bout 10.Roll one piece of dough out - I'm supposed to give measurements, but I didn't take any. I just went on the fly. The recipe says "9 1/2 inch rounds", but mine was more oblong and I just eyeballed it.Sprinkle the cheese crumbles over the dough - I probably used between 8 & 10 ounces of a block of feta, crumbled up.Sprinkle fresh oregano leaves over the whole she-bang. Again, no measurements, I just kept pulling oregano leaves off the stems until I thought it looked good.Roll out the 2nd round to a shape as close as possible to the first, and lay over the top.Preheat your oven to 400.Use your finger to make many, many indentations across the surface of the dough, about 1/2 inch deep - this was the step the Best Friend handled, while I stripped rosemary stems.Poke pieces of rosemary into the top of the dough. When I was eating it, I thought the rosemary was the one of the best parts and wished we had put more on it.Sprinkle the olive oil across the top of the dough. I probably used more than 4 tablespoons - we wanted to make sure a little got in every indentation.Sprinkle the kosher salt across the top.Bake at 400 for about 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown across the top. Eat while still warm and gooey in the middle.Notes: Chafing dough: *"to gently turn the risen ball of dough tucking in the lower edge as you go. Turn the dough around fully three or four times. What this does is pull the top of the dou[...]

Greek-Inspired Lamb


This weekend, I had a hankering for lamb. Not sure if "hankering" is appropriate when speaking of dead baby animals, because I most assuredly did not want a live one. And I was planning on inviting a friend over that might - just might - out-hanker me in the lamb department, and let me tell you, that is not easy. The highlight of the upcoming trip to Ireland will be the availability of my meat of choice.So, I've been cooking a lot of Indian-flavored dishes lately and decided to branch out. All the way to Greece. The problem was that I couldn't settle on one recipe. So I took bits and pieces of several and went my own way.As I told my sister on IM "if I use olive oil, lemon juice & oregano with my lamb, I can just call it Greek".And that, friends, is the rest of the story.Greek Inspired Lamb1 lb lamb, cut into 1"(ish) cubes1/4 cup balsamic vinegar1/4 cup red wine2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil2 Tbsp fresh oregano5 cloves garlic, minced1 14 oz can diced tomatoes1 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half lengthwisefeta cheeseMix together in a bowl: vinegar, wine, oil, oregano & garlic. Pour over lamb and stir. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, or in the fridge for ...let's say 2? 3?Pour the whole she-bang into a large skillet and cook for about 10 minutes, moving the lamb around to ensure it's cooking evenly.Add the tomatoes and bring back to a simmer for about 5 minutes.Add the artichoke hearts and bring back to a simmer for another 5 minutes.Serve over brown rice, couscous, etc. and garnish with feta cheese.MAJOR Note:I was cooking this ahead of time, so when we all returned to the house from a meeting I could just pop it on the stove and heat it up while I cooked some couscous. I tasted it after the tomatoes were added and it was acidic. I freaked out a little bit, and thought "what the hell, I've got a frozen pizza" (discovered later that I didn't, actually) and just added the artichoke hearts and pulled it all off the heat to shove in the fridge.When I got home, I reheated it as planned - and it was wonderful. Amazingly good. If I try this again - and I probably will, at some point - I might have to play around to figure out how to get the effect without 2 hours of refrigeration. [...]

Zanzibar Mahi, An Adventure


Remember That Cookbook Thing? It was a couple of years ago, but some bloggers around these here 'nets got together and we reviewed an awesome cookbook called "Where Flavor was Born" by Andreas Viestad.* Well, I hadn't pulled it out in a while, and today I was in the mood for fish so I dug it out of a box and flipped through to see what wonders the people around the Indian Ocean can do with a fish fillet.I had gone to the store for swordfish, but my choices were Mahi Mahi or Tilapia. Which is the same thing as having no choice, because The Professor hates Tilapia to the very marrow of his bones. Since this recipe is basically just some cooked fish with a delectible relish** on top, I figured Mahi would work. The original recipe called for Kingfish, so the author needs to be glad I even stayed with the correct protein at this point.Hmm. I wonder how this sauce would be in a baked chicken recipe...*Hey, I think I'm supposed to make sure you know that I was given this cookbook (back in 2008) by the publisher to review it. I finished my part of that deal almost 2 years ago, but the last thing I need is some anti-blogger fed blowing up my blog. So yeah. It was free. I kinda liked that part.**I don't know what this substance actually was. I was expecting a sauce, but I must have cooked it down too much. Doesn't matter, it was awesomely awesome.***Oh, also, the name of this in the cookbook is "Kingfish with Oranges, Cloves & Ginger", but that just gives too much away, and you wouldn't even need to read the recipe if I named it that. And the book names from where the recipe hails. Thus, Zanzibar Mahi.Ingredients:2 8oz Mahi fillets1/2 tsp ground ginger1/8 tsp ground cloves1 whole clove1 1/2+ tsp grated orange zest2 Tbsp canola oil, divided1 small yellow onion, diced1/2 cup orange juice (I juiced the orange I zested, and it was perfect)1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped very fine1 tbsp brown sugar, dividedsalt & pepper to tasteDirections:In a small bowl, mix together the ground ginger, ground cloves and half of the orange zest.They really need to find a way to add scent to blog postsHeat 1 Tbsp oil in a small pot and saute onion until it has softened, about 2 minutes.Add the orange juice, fresh ginger, whole clove, half of the brown sugar and the remaining zest. Bring to a boil, and boil until it has reduced to 1/3 of original liquid, about maybe 10 minutes. Remove the clove, reduce heat to low and let it simmer until the fish is ready.It was almost sauce like when I startedSeason the mahi with the salt, pepper and the remaining brown sugar.Aside: how do you season something with brown sugar? It doesn't sprinkle lightly over the fish like salt or pepper. I tried to sprinkle it, got crumbs of sugar on it and then mashed it in.Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in a skillet using medium high heat. Cook the fish until golden brown - about 5 minutes - and then flip and cook until it is done, about another 5 minutes.When you flip the fish, turn the heat back up on the simmering sauce/relish/substance and return it to a boil. The author adds that if you like a thicker sauce, you can whisk in a half teaspoon of cornstarch and boil for 1 minute. If mine had gotten any thicker, it would have been an orange/onion cupcake, so I ignored the cornstarch. Another note says that you can add a Tbsp of butter to make it richer.Here's the official Sauce/Relish/SubstanceI served this with wilted spinach and Rice Pilau (recipe to come, I hope), then spooned the sauce/relish/substance over the top.I loved everything about my plate. The Professor liked it fine, but finally decided the sauce/relish/substance was too "something" for him. I'm guessing the ginger was too concentrated for him, but I absolutely loved it. [...]

Experiment: Cheese Crisps


I have a thing for cheese. It's genetic, really, but the end result is that I usually have about 5 kinds of cheese in my fridge. Since cheese = happiness, my fridge is almost heaven. If I kept all of the alcohol in one place, and put it all in the same fridge as my cheese, it WOULD be heaven and I would have to move in.Right now, 3 of those cheeses are shredded. Not sure how that happened, but I don't ask for detailed history before I eat cheese, I just eat it. Except that a few nights ago, I had memories of these awesome Parmesan cheese crisps I made to go with a butternut squash soup once upon a time. And suddenly that was nothing more important than ANYthing in the world. I must have cheese crisps!Since I couldn't decide which cheese to use, I went with a variety pack: a couple of Parmesan, a few Mozzarella, and a few "taco blend". The Parmesan ended being my least favorite, so I made some bigger ones of the other flavors and munched happily on cheese for awhile. And then the happiness was inside me and I didn't have to move in the fridge, and we (the cheese & me) lived happily ever after. Amen.Cheese Crisps.Ingredient:Shredded CheeseGet your oven up to 400.Make small mounds of shredded cheese.Bake until it's completely melted and has been bubbling along and starting to get dark.These are not done:These are:Blot up the grease and then forget that you had to do that, because you just made your cheese better for you by cooking out the grease!Let cool on a rack, or drape over a rolling pin to get perfect cups for dipping.Next time these babies will be filled with some guacamole [...]

Chicken Capri


Ricotta cheese...I could eat it by the spoonful. Throw a few herbs and some pepper in it, and it's a great celery dip. Slather it on anything, and "anything" just got 642% better tasting. Just get a spoon, and it's better than eating peanut butter out of the jar (mostly because peanut butter is DISGUSTING, moving on). So chicken + tomatoes + cheese makes my stomach very happy. Plus, the leftovers are good for lunch the next day. It's a lazy blogger's dream come true!Did I mention it's relatively healthy? Ok, you can forget I said that if you want, if that will make it taste better. Deception often makes my stomach happy. Like when I bite into a lentil dish at the Indian lunch buffet, only to discover that it's actually peas, and I have to curse myself because I was too impatient to take the time to read the labels above the food. Which is why I also burned my tongue when this came out of the oven (because of the impatience, not the peas, you can keep up if you try).Chicken Capri2 chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oilgarlic powder, to taste1/4 cup ricotta cheese2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)1/2 tsp oreganofresh ground pepper, to taste4 tablespoons diced tomatoes4 slices Mozzarella cheese (except that I was out and used Muenster)Heat olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold your chicken breasts. Add the chicken to the pan and season with garlic powder. Cook for a bout 5-6 minutes on each side, until they're just browning.Aside: I picked up the trick of cutting the chicken breasts like this from my sister; I used to just hack them in half, but slicing them like this makes dinner-cooking go much faster.Back to recipe-izing.Preheat your oven to 350.Mash (yes, mash, don't just mix) the ricotta, Parmesan, oregano and pepper together.When the chicken breasts are ready, put them in a shallow casserole - I used my 11x7 pan and it was the perfect size.Top each breast half with 1/4 of the ricotta mixture and spread out a little.Top each piece with 1 Tbsp diced tomatoes - I used fire-roasted, because, really, have you tasted fire roasted tomatoes? Bake for 10 minutes.Top each piece with 1 slice of cheese.Bake for about 5-6 minutes or until the cheese is melty and delicious and will burn the ever loving heck out of your tongue because you're too impatient to wait. [...]

The Most Perfectest Cheesecake Ever in the History of Evermore


I’ve done it y’all. I’ve made a perfect cheesecake and been warned against changing the slightest thing.At the first suggestion that I might play around with my new cheesecake recipe, one sister said “No” in a tone of voice that brooked no arguments. From anyone.At the second suggestion (who am I to listen to my big sister all the time?), my dad said “it’s perfect as it is”. Now, since my dad has never told me I made any food perfectly in my life, I just might go to my grave without ever changing one milligram of an ingredient. I’m wishing I had temped the ingredients and written down the relative humidity the day that I baked the damn thing, because now I’m worried I’ll never recreate The Most Perfectest Cheesecake Ever. What happens if I can only make it in the winter, when the temperature and humidity are both below 70? That’s only, like, 2 months of the year around here! I could die if I don’t have cheesecake before then, and then where would my family be? They’d be left with just a memory, that’s what. Well, and the recipe so they can make it themselves. Maybe this cooking blog was a better idea than I realized.Anyway, perfection comes with a price. In this case, that price is your general health. Since, I’ll be the first to sacrifice my health and longevity for a piece of cheesecake, don’t feel tempted to eat any yourself – I can take care of the whole thing. You and your arteries are welcome.The morning after Christmas, the grocery section at Wal-Mart was out of anything but the full-fat cream cheese. Ditto on sour cream. I haven’t calculated the fat grams, and if you do, keep it to yourself, because those numbers are not welcome here.As for the first ingredient: that is most assuredly NOT a typo. There are FORTY ounces – yes, FORTY (sorry, I can’t say that without yelling) ounces of cream cheese in this sucker.The Most Perfectest Cheesecake Ever, (stolen shamelessly from Recipezaar’s Bird- I added a crust, but that’s it, see the notes below for my nervousness while cooking).IngredientsCrust:2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs and/or vanilla wafer crumbs (I used a combo this time)2 Tbsp sugar1 stick butter, meltedFilling:40 ( FORTY) oz cream cheese (5 8oz blocks), softened1 ½ cups sugar (no Splenda this time, I went for broke)16 oz sour cream2 eggs1 Tbsp lemon juice1 tsp vanilla1/2 tsp saltDirections:Preheat your oven to 375. The directions say to line the bottom of your spring form pan, but I made a crust and didn’t do that.Lightly spray the bottom & sides of a 10” spring form pan with non stick butter-flavored spray.Mix crumbs and sugar together in the pan. Make a well in the center and pour in melted butter.Use a fork to toss and combine. Use a piece of wax paper to press the mixture onto the bottom and about one half inch up the sides of the pan.Bake for 5 minutes – it will not be completely done. Put it in the freezer while you mix up the batter.Now it gets serious.I whipped up one block of cream cheese in my stand mixer, then added some sugar and whipped for a minute. Then I alternated the cream cheese and sugar until all of both were added, ending with sugar. I don’t know if it made a difference (the alternate choice being to dump in all the cream cheese and sugar at once), but dude – I’m not taking any chances of doing this differently. Scrape down the sides of the pan constantly while you’re mixing.Add the sour cream and mix until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides while you’re mixing.Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Scrape down the sides while you’re mixing.Add lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Scrape down the…you got it now, right?Pour the batter into the spring form pan and lightly drop [...]

Dark Chocolate-Espresso-Hazelnut (or Not) Chewies: A New Reason for Living


It's cookie baking season. That one special month when eating cookies is a requirement of happy living. Well, cookies or pies, but I baked cookies this weekend, so that's what we'll worry about. And I had my eye on these lovely bits of decadence, which of course means that I couldn't make such perfection without fracking up the ingredients.So, first up: the chocolate. Measuring the chocolate in cups threw me - I usually go by ounces. I had a 3.5 ounce bar of 70% cocoa dark chocolate and a 4.4 oz bar of milk chocolate. I used all of the dark and half of the milk and called it a day. Also, you know what is a most helpful ingredient when you want to bake cookies? Sugar. Yes, dear ones, I didn't check my baking cabinet before I started melting the chocolate, confident that the 5 pound bag of sugar I imagined in my head would be there. Imagine my surprise when it wasn't. So I substituted Splenda and called it another day.Also? Had to use decaf because The Professor has a definite reaction to caffeinated coffee - it's called "The Heart Bursting Problem" around here.Then there's the fact that I'm not a huge fan of nuts in cookies. If they're good enough, I'll deal with it. So I made a few cookies before I mixed in the nuts - which was convenient because I only had 1/2 cup of chopped nuts - and I used macadamia instead of hazel because apparently the Big Brains at the grocery store (read: Wal-Mart) don't think anyone around here would be interested in hazelnuts.And Holy Chocolate, Batman, these cookies were good! One of the top 5 of all time, for sure The batter was good, the cookies - even the ones with nuts! - are good, the rum-spiked eggnog was good...The majority of these were destined to go home with The Bestest Friend. Next time: no nuts at all. They just interrupt all the chocolate goodness.I only got 12 good-sized cookies out of this (I probably could have gotten 2 more out of the remaining batter, but I didn't want to dirty another pan and The Professor wanted to eat the batter, not the cookies, and I do try to make him happy every once in a while - which is what led to his heart going into sugar-overload making him think he was having a heart attack, which means I might kill him one day by making him happy. Maybe I should stop doing that?).Anyway - I don't need 40 cookies laying around calling my name at 2 AM. Not that they ever have or anything. Cause that would just be weird.Original recipe from Michelle at Thursday Night SmackdownDark Chocolate-Espresso-Hazelnut Chewies1 3/4 c. dark chocolate of your choice4 tbsp. unsalted butter2 eggs1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. sugar2 tsp. espresso grounds1/4 c. AP flour1/4 tsp. baking powderpinch of salt3/4 toasted chopped nuts. I like the hazel, but you can mix it up.Bonus points for this being super-easy to put together:Melt some chocolate:Mix it into some other ingredients, and add some nuts:Spoon, bake, cool:And finally - eat. [...]

Saffron Chicken and Rice


Saffron. The most expensive spice in the world. I purchased my first little bit of extravagance a few months ago. The only thing I’ve ever cooked with saffron is bouillabaisse* – which I love and adore, but I haven’t been up to making it with reams of frozen seafood, much less trying to equal the taste of my sister’s dish.*Where “cooked” = “drinking any kind of alcohol while my sister tends the pot".So, having no clue what I wanted to cook with it, I told myself I’d look around and see what struck my fancy.Apparently what struck my fancy was to put it in my newly-reorganized spice cabinet and forget all about it. Occasionally I’d remember as I shoved it out of the way to get to the red pepper flakes or the basil – I had left it in front of the cabinet so that it wouldn’t get lost. Genius, you have met your match.Except for the fact that I still managed to forget about it.Tonight’s menu was chicken and rice, and I relentlessly pawed through my spice cabinet looking for just the right flavors. I think I must have shoved the saffron out of the way at least 3 times before it leapt up, grabbed my by the eyeballs and threatened me with dismemberment. I took the hint, Thank Goodness, because this is the best flavored chicken and rice I’ve ever made. Take that, Genius!  This is where a picture would be, if I hadn't let all my batteries go dead. I did, and there isn't. So just imagine a slightly smoky red (how many adjectives can I use for one dish?) skillet of chicken and rice. And a Very Happy Professor.Saffron Chicken and Rice1 Tbsp olive oil1 lb chicken breasts1 onion, diced1 clove garlic, minced½ tsp sweet paprika¾ cup rice1 ½ cups veggie broth (or chicken broth, white wine, water or any combination of the above)A pinch of saffron threads Heat olive oil in a skillet, and brown chicken on both sides. Remove from the pan.Sauté onion and garlic in the skillet for about 3 minutes, until the onion softens.Add paprika and stir til it’s all coated.Add rice and stock to the pan. Bring to a boil.Sprinkle in the saffron and return the chicken peaces.Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is done.I was so excited about this that I didn't even cook vegetables with it. Come to think of it, some green beans or snow peas stirred in for the last 5 or 6 minutes would have been awesome. Or Broccoli, maybe, if you're into That Kind Of Thing. Whatever - it was awesome. [...]

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars


We went to have lunch with my Stepson today, and I really wanted to bake him some cookies. Male + 18 years old = ALWAYS STARVING, so I can indulge baking yearnings and then he eats {almost} all the calories for me. It's a good relationship angle.But last night was Halloween (party + bonfire = late night), and I forgot to pull butter out to soften overnight. So I hunted around for a non-butter-using chocolate chip cookie recipe. Success! It even has 4 stars on RecipeZaar.So I started happily mixing. And the problems began with ingredient #2: salad oil. Salad oil? Oil in salad is gross, and I usually serve EVOO for those who need it. I bake cakes with vegetable oil, so that's what I chose.Problem #2: I started running out of ingredients. It's like I forgot what was in my baking cabinet. I had less than 2 cups of sugar, and had to sub a half cup of Splenda. I only had 3 eggs, and subbed...nothing (but I did end up using a half cup less flour, since I've made enough cookies to judge the right consistency). I ran out of white flour, and had to use a cup of whole wheat. I only had fat-free sour cream (full fat was recommended in a comment or 2).But I am stubborn, and I wanted to make cookies!When I got the batter mixed, I did a test tray of 6 cookies. And then while they baked I looked at my bowl of batter and realized I was in for a lot of teaspoon drops. So I did the smartest thing I did all day: I pulled out my 13x9 inch pan and my 11x7 inch pan, coated them with spray, filled them with batter and stuck them in the oven. A pan for the Stepson, a pan for the Bestest Friend, 6 cookies for me, and The Professor got to lick the bowl and spatula. Perfect.While I was cleaning the kitchen, I found 2 sticks of butter flavored Crisco in the baking cabinet.I'm going to put the original recipe from Pennie42 at RecipeZaar below because I'm fairly certain some weird kind of karma was watching over my baking this morning... Ingredients 1 cup sour cream 1 cup salad oil 2 cups white sugar 2 cups brown sugar 4 eggs, beaten 2 teaspoons baking soda 3/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons vanilla 6 cups flour 2 cups chocolate chips Directions Combine sour cream, salad oil, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix well.Add beaten eggs and vanilla.Mix baking soda and salt into some of the flour.Add this flour mixture to wet ingredients.Then add remainder of flour, a cup at a time.Blend thoroughly after each addition.Drop by teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet.Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.I baked my bars at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Somehow, the 13x9 and 11x7 pans got done at the same time - they were equally browned and equally done. Kitchen Karma for the Good, this time. [...]

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip



Shrimp in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce


Most of the time when I start making a dish like this, I think "Oh, I'll cook some pasta, and the sauce can cook that fast...dinner will be done in 15 minutes!" So I tell The Professor to go ahead and open up a bottle of wine, food will be here in a jiffy.

HAHAHAHAHA! I am incapable of cooking anything more complicated than a grilled cheese sandwich in less than 37 minutes.

Tonight, the sauce took a lot longer to reduce than I expected. So while I actually planned for the whole thing to take 30-40 minutes, it ended up being close to a bottle of wine an hour before dinner was ready.

(image) This week Presto Pasta Nights is at The Sweet Kitchen!

Shrimp in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

  • Approximately 6.625 ounces of whole wheat fuseli, cooked (the cork screws)*
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • cups vegetable broth (I'd reduce this to 1 cup next time)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup grated Asiago cheese
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1/2 pound baby shrimp
  • 5-6 basil leaves, roughly chopped

The box of pasta is 13.25 ounces, and I used half the box, hence the funky measurement.

Sauté onion & garlic in olive oil until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, vegetable broth, bay leaf, and red peper flakes. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until reduced by half. Remove the bay leaf.

Whisk in the cream and grated cheese and return to a slow simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and basil, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the shrimp are done.

Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve with some bread to soak up the sauce.(image)

Chicken Tikka Masala


Indian food is my new addiction. I've always liked it, but there's now a restaurant much, much closer to my house. The Professor and I have been there 4 times in the past month - putting it ahead of my beloved local Margarita Makers.And last year, my bis sis found herself in an Indian restaurant for the first time and called to ask what she should order. I don't remember much of the conversation (I was at a party and the wine was flowing), but I *do* remember what dish she had - Chicken Tikka Masala - because she couldn't stop talking about it.Since it's also one of my favorites, we decided to try and make it while I vacationed at her place a couple of weeks ago (necessitating a trip to my favorite spice store). It was good - really good - so I tried it again this weekend, and Holy Spices, Batman am I getting close to a great recipe.The major sticking point in my house is the heat level: We all know by now that The Professor doesn't like spicy foods; he does, however, love Indian food and is usually willing to over look a lot of heat. This time, I went a tad too far for him - although I thought it was dang near perfect. I solved this crisis of opinion by putting the yogurt next to his plate, letting him mix in more as he needed.My next hurdle with this: I want to make it with lamb.I started with this recipe from Tigers & Strawberries, and now I know to try more of her recipes in the future.I made this with whole spices, but I think a good rule for using ground spices is: 1 Tbsp whole = 1 tsp ground.This also makes about 6 servings - perfect for us, because the leftovers taste better than the original!Chicken Tikka Masala2 small onions5 cloves garlic, finely mincedSeeds from 10 cardamom pods1 tsp peppercorns2 Tbsp coriander seeds1 Tbsp whole cumin2 tsp red pepper flakes1 Tbsp paprika4 Tbsp butter, divided2 tsp ground ginger1 tsp garam masala (optional, but I love it)1 tbsp sweet paprika14 oz can diced tomatoes1/2 cup yogurt3/4 cup half & half1-1/12 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch piecesFirst, make your spice blend: Put the cardamom seeds, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin and pepper flakes in a spice grinder and ... grind. Take a deep breath and enjoy the aroma that will soon be wafting through your kitchen. You can almost smell the picture:Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet. Saute onions until they begin to caramelize.Add garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.Add your spice blend, ginger, garam masala (if using) and paprika.Stir everything together until it's well combined. Take a deep breath. Or five. Let it all mix together in the skillet for a few minutes.Add tomatoes and water and stir everything together. Turn your heat down and simmer for about 10-15 minutes - it will thicken up a little and reduce.Whisk the yogurt into the sauce, then add the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and the half and half, and whisk everything together.When the sauce is simmering again, add the chicken pieces and let it simmer until they are completely cooked.(about 10 minutes).Serve over rice, hopefully with some kind of bread to sop up all the sauce. [...]

Sesame Noodle Salad


The Professor has another Department Event tomorrow night. BBQ from a local place is being provided, but we're all bringing side dishes or desserts to add to the Festive Atmosphere - that will likely be rained upon as we sit in a public park. All I can say is, thank god this has been an unusually cool August.I've seen plenty of Chinese Noodle recipes that call for peanut butter, but the thought of mixing sacred carbs with that substance makes my stomach revolt. But tahini is almost the same thing - made of sesame seeds instead of peanuts - and I will actually eat that stuff. Which is good, because if NO ONE ate my dish, I'd be mightily upset.I didn't so much "measure" anything because I basically "flung them with wild abandon". So the dressing ingredients can easily be adjusted for your taste. (See the notes at the bottom for more info).Sesame Noodle Salad8 oz spaghetti noodles1 yellow bell pepper, finely dicedbunch green onions, chopped (mine was 5.5 ounces, and I chopped almost half the way up the stalks)1 cup Shredded Carrots, chopped a little1/2 cup tahini1 tsp sesame oil2 tsp soy sauce1 Tbsp honey1//2 - 1 tsp red dried red pepper flakes1 tsp garlic granules1 tsp ground ginger2 tsp sesame seedsTerriyaki sauce (optional)Cook spaghetti noodles as directed on package.To make the dressing: Mix the tahini up in the container - since it's most probably separated. Add 1/2 cup to a food chopper (or do to a bowl, and do the rest by hand). Add sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, pepper flakes, garlic, & ginger. Thoroughly combine.I put the white parts of the green onion into the strainer that I used to strain my pasta - that way, they get just the tiniest bit cooked when you pour the hot pasta & water over them.After you drain the pasta, toss it (and the onion parts) with a tablespoon or two of terriyaki sauce. I did this because I wasn't ready to combine everything and I didn't want the noodles to lump together.Toast the sesame seeds in a skillet over low heat for 2-3 minutes.Put the chopped bell pepper, carrots and green parts of the green onions in a large bowl.Add the drained noodles.Pour the dressing over, and toss (tongs are great here) to thoroughly combine.Add the sesame seeds and toss a few more times.Refrigerate and serve cold.Notes:The onion taste was too strong for me. The Professor didn't seem to notice; I'm just not a fan of raw onion.I couldn't taste the red pepper at ALL. I would at least double this - and probably more - next time.The dressing - after I got past the onions - was VERY YUMMY. I tasted it before I tossed the pasta/veggies with it, and loved the taste, so I think we can assume that I will be trying something like this again. [...]

Not Really Swordfish Spiedini : Grilled Swordfish & Zucchini


One of the deficiencies of living in My Little Corner of The South is that I'm too far from fresh seafood to buy it, unless I want to drive for 45 minutes up to The Big City and spend half of my weekly food budget on a couple of pounds of fish. So when Publix had a "sale"* on "fresh, never frozen" swordfish a couple of weeks ago, I had to jump on it. Kind of like how sales of porn go up in hotels during conservative conventions.Maybe that was a bad comparison? Do you think I'm going to just leave that alone for the rest of this post?*I say "sale" because it's still more than I like to spend on my proteins, but this was a bargain for seafood 'round these here parts.But then life got in the way, so it ended up getting frozen after all - in my freezer. Simple grilled swordfish steaks weren't in my future after all.But then I found a recipe from the Queen of Food Porn* for grilled swordfish, and decided that would do nicely for someone needing a quick fix. Except, buying pancetta in my corner of the world is - again - more than I want to spend, and Publix didn't have any obliging sales. So I just left it off, like a Porn Star might "forget" to wear underwear for a shoot.*Giada De Laurentiis. Do I really need close-up shots of her taking a bite of a chocolate covered strawberry with cheesy music playing in the background? I get it, she's hot, but: Short answer: NO.So this was our dinner this evening: Not Quite Swordfish Spiedini with Zucchini Thrown in Just Because.And? It was spectacular. My only sorrow is that fish really doesn't reheat well at all, so we had to eat it all tonight - which isn't really a sorrow now that I come to think of it, more like how (apparently) a conservative convention would react to a free-porn-night in their hotel bedroom.And I think I may have talked about porn enough to give my mother a headache. Sorry, Ma. The fish was just that awesome.Not Really Swordfish Spiedini with Zucchini1 lb swordfish steaks, cut into 1 inch cubes2 large zucchini, cut in 1-ish inch slices3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil3/4 tsp dried basil3/4 tsp dried savory3/4 tsp dried thyme3/4 tsp dried oreganoFresh ground pepper, to tastedash of saltIf you happen to have NOT left your metal skewers at your best friends house 8 months ago and forgotten to retrieve them since, then use them. Otherwise: Set 3 wooden skewers to soak in water for 30 minutes.Cut up your swordfish and Zucchini.Mix the olive oil, herbs and seasonings in a bowl.Add the swordfish and zucchini and marinate for the remainder of the 30 minutes.Alternating swordfish with zucchini, skewer the suckers and reserve the marinade.Heat a gas grill (or broiler).Grill (or broil) skewers for about 8-10 minutes, turning every couple of minutes and basting with reserved marinade. Make sure to cook for a couple of minutes after you baste them the last time.I had more fish than would fit on the skewers, so I just grilled them separately - because who's gonna complain about extra fish?You could serve this over rice if you feel the need. Or maybe toss them with some pasta, butter and parmesan...that sound great now that I think about it. Since The Professor had a quarter of a watermelon waiting for dessert, he didn't want to get too full.These things were AWESOME. I cooked them on high, and the swordfish and zucchini got a slight char that was delicious, while the fish remained wonderfully moist inside. This may be the first time I haven't dried out any fish but salmon on a grill. Marinades are the key, I've found. [...]




(image) --pic from Michelle of Thursday Night Smackdown, The Goddess Who Made This Life-Giving Substance.

Chocolate Mousse(image)

Spaghetti Squash Casserole


Spaghetti squash is one vegetable-type-substance that I can get The Professor to eat with wild abandon. Possibly because it has the word "spaghetti" in it, but that's neither here nor there: I'm getting him to eat a vegetable! Let me enjoy my triumph.The added benefit of this meal is that there's no meat. But we almost didn't miss it. Ok, ok, he might have made one comment along the lines of "This would be great with some meat in it", but I really think that's just habit at this point; his way of making sure I'm not going to turn into a vegetarian. As if that could happen while there is still lamb and bacon in this world!This is another "throw together whatever is languishing in my vegetable drawer" type of dish, which makes it very non-stressful. Which is also something I actively seek out in my life.And when all was said and done, I was the one who opined "This would be three times more awesome with some Italian sausage".Spaghetti Squash Casserole1 spaghetti squash2 small yellow onions (or 1 large), diced1/2 red bell pepper, diced2 zucchini, cut up8 oz button mushrooms, cut up4 cloves garlic, minced1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (I highly recommend the Muir Glen Fire Roasted No Salt Added variety)Basil and/or Oregano and/or Thyme - as much as you like. I used all 31/2 cup+ shredded mozzarella cheese (I wanted Parmesan, but was out!??)Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the pulp and seeds. Put it in a dish and microwave for 25 minutes (or until it's done).While that's cooking, cut up your veggies.Yes, I know the mushrooms are missing.In a large - and I mean large - skillet, heat about a tbsp of olive oil. Saute the onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they're transparent.Add the rest of the veggies and the garlic, stir them around and then let them be while you deal with the squash.Mmmmm....garlic...Can you smell it too?When the squash is done, remove the strands with a fork. I just put them back in the same casserole I had cooked them in (after I removed the water).This was a small squash, but it still covered the bottom of the dish.Move the veggies around a few times to make sure they're cooking evenly. I sauteed them for about 17 minutes.Add the can of drained tomatoes and herbs and stir it all up. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.Yes, the steam gets in the way of good photos.Add the veggies to the squash and mix gently (the veggies are pretty soft by this point).Almost there...Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and pop under the broiler for about 5 minutes.Melted Cheese. How my heart sings.So, lessons learned:Parmesan would have been much better than Mozzarella, but at least I had cheese.I must try this again with Italian Sausage. The thought is now consuming my mind. [...]

Garlic-Lemon-Butter Shrimp & Mushrooms


I think that the title of this post might just be enough of a recipe that I could leave now. But then what would be the point of having a blog?Well, the point of this blog has been kinda absent the past couple of months. Not because I stopped eating (ha!), but because I stopped cooking and started grilling. And I haven't been able to stop. Chicken and zucchini, pork chops and mushrooms, Salmon and asparagus...if it's been in my kitchen lately, it went outside to the grill and came back already eaten.But shrimp were on sale this week, and I have a hard time NOT burning the ever-loving shrimpiness out of shrimp when I grill them. So it was back to the kitchen for this one.I was out of real butter, fresh garlic and lemons. So I used fake butter, garlic powder and some bottled juice. And it was SPECTACULAR. So, food snobs be damned, I made heaven in a bowl with "fake" ingredients.And it was only when I got to the end of my bowl and slurped up the last of the buttery-lemony-garlicy sauce that I realized...this dish needs bread. A good chunk of it to soak up all those juices. The Professor was eating his over rice and when I mentioned that, he stopped cold, pointed a finger towards the kitchen and said "Go! Do it NOW!"Since I was out of lemony-garlicy-buttery juice, I'll let you ponder if you think I went and did that.But if I'm back in the kitchen in an hour, making a batch of Garlic-Lemon-Butter sauce...well, it's no one's fault but my own, because I think I may have a new addiction.Garlic-Lemon-Butter Shrimp & Mushrooms1 lb 31-35 (or any large-ish) shrimp, peeled and de-veined8 oz button mushrooms, quartered (of just halved if they're small)A bunch of globs of butter or a buttery-type substance (I used Country Crock)Many, Many dashes of Garlic Powderabout 2 Tbsp of lemon juiceabout 1 Tbsp dried basilGlob a bunch of butter in a skillet over medium heat, and when it's about half melted, add the mushrooms. Shake about 1 tsp of garlic powder over the whole thing and stir it. Let the mushrooms cook for about 10 minutes - you want them to release their liquid, but not dry out.In a small bowl, mix a couple more tablespoons (or just globs - there was no measuring tonight) of Buttery Stuff with another teaspoon or so of garlic powder and the dried basil.Turn the heat up to medium-high.Add the Buttery Stuff Mixture and the lemon juice to the skillet, then dump in the shrimp. I used my tongs to make sure they were all at the bottom of the skillet, and then turned them over when they started to turn pink.When the shrimp is thoroughly pink, your dish is Done.Serve over rice, or - if you want heaven in a bowl - just pour it in a bowl and serve with some nice thick bread to soak up the juices. [...]

Apple Custard Pie


You can tell when I have family visitng, can't you? It's when I start trying out stuff and posting about it. I admit, I've gotten lazy in my day-to-day life. Especially this spring. We bought a gas grill last fall, and for the past 3 weeks, I've been a grillin' fool. I still burn half of what I cook, but at least I'm using marinades so the char has a little sweet taste too it.Speaking of sweet taste: This pie was awesome. I'd never even thought of an apple custard pie before, and then I ran across one at Recipezaar, and knew I had to try it. I think it may actually replace the Dutch Apple Pie for the foreseeable future for one simple reason: I used a graham cracker crust. That is so much easier than making pie dough!The original recipe is here. Amazingly, I didn't change much, although I guess that's in the eye of the beholder.Apple Custard PieIngredients:For graham cracker crust:1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used Cinnamon Grahams this time)1/3 cup Splenda1/2 stick of butter, meltedFor Pie:1/2 cup butter, divided2 Gala and 1 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced1/4 cup Splenda (If I had used Splenda for baking, I would've cut it down to 1/8 cup)3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided1 cup sugar4 large eggs2 tablespoons all-purpose flour1ish tsp vanilla3/4 cup buttermilkFor streusel:3 Tbsp butter1/4 cup Splenda1/4 cup packed brown sugar1/2 cup all-purpose flourDirections:Preheat oven to 300F.Crust: Mix cracker crumbs, Splenda and melted butter together and press into the bottom of a 9" pie pan. Bake for about 10 minutes.Pie: Melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet. Add apples, Splenda and cinnamon and cook for about 5-10 minutes (depending on how thick you sliced your apples) until soft but not mushy.Butter...Sugar...They sing when they're together in my pans.Beat 1/4 cup butter and 1 1/3 cups sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until incorporated.Add 2 tbsp flour and vanilla and beat until blended.Add buttermilk and beat until smooth.Use a slotted spoon to spoon the apple sliced onto the pie crust (leaving behind the sugary-buttery syrup. I know. Sacrilege).Pour the custard batter evenly over the apples.Bake for 40 minutes.I had sprinkled some cinnamon on when I was struck with the urge to just get a fork. Luckily for my family, I carried on with the recipe.Mix together the streusel ingredients until crumbly. Mine? didn't get crumbly. It got creamy. I have no clue why. So I just dropped it by spoonfuls all over the top of the pie and baked it for another 30-40 minutes, until the top had melted and formed a top crust.It doesn't look like much yet...but just wait til I cut this baby open.Also? Because the combination of butter, sugar and cinnamon can't taste BAD. So it doesn't really matter if it looks perfect. Because the inside looks like this:I was lucky enough to have one of the last two slices for breakfast. I may make it part of my daily diet. [...]