Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pot of Beans for New Year's--Good Luck for 2014!

Pintos garnished with plain Greek yogurt and Frontera salsa
This is a favorite pot of "good luck" beans I'm reposting for New Year's.  Invite a friend, put on a movie, and enjoy a wonderful pot of healthy, inexpensive goodness.  If you have a slow-cooker, all the better!  Nobody available?  Cook them anyway.   Enjoy the movie and freeze a few containers for lunches.

When I was a kid, a pot of beans sounded nasty to me.  It smacked of nothing to do out in the country (except make a pot of beans) and I didn't particularly like the taste of beans--particularly pintos.  My parents grew all kinds of vegetables and they were fond of many sorts of beans and peas; our neighbors were of a similar ilk.  Married during the depression, but first raised on or near the farm, they all knew every trick for saving money on food.  Moving to the big city, they searched for a piece of land out a ways in order to plant that garden every year.  (Weed, can, water, repeat.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Breakfast for One

Merry Christmas!
I'm blessed.  This is the view from my front door.  The mountain isn't fake; I didn't photoshop it; it's Pike's Peak and I live in Colorado Springs.   I really took this photo.

Merry Christmas to you!  If you're cooking for just your wonderful self this Christmas morning, you're blessed to be up and about and turning on the stove.  I hope you already made your coffee, fed the cat, brought in the paper, and maybe turned on some Christmas music.

Three Tenors' Christmas Concert

A lovely quick and filling breakfast can be had in one sweet little skillet.   If you'd like some scones to go with the eggs, I give a recipe at the bottom.  Do make the scones first!  Share the rest with a neighbor or wrap them well, store in the fridge, and have with your tea or a finger or two of scotch over the next few days.

Try this:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nutcracker Granola --- Gorgeous Homemade Gluten-Free Gift

I'm up early this morning making a big batch of nutty granola.     It's way below freezing in Colorado Springs today and the temperatures are doing nothing but dropping through tomorrow.  A warm oven blowing the spicy aromas of cinnamon and cloves through the house, snow flying, coffee brewing; there's something sort of homey and comforting about it.  I do not have to go out in it, so I probably feel a bit differently than those who are out starting their cars.

My plan for the day--after the granola, that is--  is to stay inside so I can make two big pots of beef vegetable soup.  One for today that I'll share with a couple of neighbors and one for the freezer for over the holidays.  One pot may get a little barley thrown in or a couple of cans of chopped chiles for fun.  I have zucchini, Parmesan, and tiny pasta; the other could move toward minestrone. We'll see in what direction these cauldrons of goodness feel like moving.  One could even be stew.  So many soups, so little time.

Out the back door this morning, north toward Denver:

If I'm honest, I also know I need to do a little housework. I'm having neighbors in for a holiday meal Friday night --one leaves early for a  long December trip -- and it would make sense to do a thing or two ahead of time. Right? While that's so, more likely I'll do a last minute Windex-clean in the bathroom, blow dust off the coffee table, and light plenty of candles so no one can see much except one another.  My house isn't decorated either.We were gone all weekend and I've been running the roads the past couple of days with errands, early shopping, and grocery stock-up.The tree is up with lights; is that enough?

                                Miss Gab and Tucker keeping warm.

Monday, November 25, 2013

No-Fuss Thanksgiving for Two or Four

                  Not everyone, every time, wants to make a huge Thanksgiving dinner.  This fully-satisfying but simple menu is for the year when there are, thank goodness, just two of you--or maybe four.  Or for the year when you escaped the family and borrowed a friend's cabin on the lake or condo at the shore.  You'd like something tasty, but it's just not the year to spend two days in the kitchen.

                 This little menu begins with a sparkler (a sparkling wine)--an inexpensive Spanish cava or  New Mexico Gruet (not sweet and very reasonable)--and a bit of cheese.  No need to get full before dinner.  Next comes a magnificent, golden brown chicken* roasted with lemons, basil, and huge shards of winter squash.  Just to show off, there are nearly instant--but incredibly luscious--green beans graced with lots of bright lemon zest and a splashy note of crushed red pepper. A very fast, cooked stove top, spicy cranberry sauce made with apples and lemons is an optional side and truly a contrast.  Drink a good bottle of Pinot Noir with the chicken.  (I like an Oregon Pinot Noir, which comes at several different price points:  A-Z at the lower end, Ken Wright or Adelsheim further up.  Can't find one you like or can afford?  Ask the wine shop for a middle-ground French red Côtes du Rhône. Want white?  Choose an off-dry Riesling--German or Washington state. ) Tiny individual microwaved pumpkin "pies" bring up the rear--so to speak-- with no crust necessary, though you can add a small ginger thin at the bottom of each ramekin if you'd like. Coffee  you flavor yourself with cinnamon (a sprinkle in the grounds works wonders) and a nice piece of dark chocolate--or two-- end the day in happiness.

*You might consider a slow cooker roasted chicken if that would be simpler.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One-Pan Salmon and Kale on Brown Rice

     Confused about which fish you should buy?  Download a Monterey Bay Aquarium guide...

When Dave's gone (he's my dishwasher), I lean toward one-pan meals.  I like hearty, healthy, and satisfying potfuls that will feed me a few times.  I admit to laziness.  Evenings spent on the couch reading.  Kitchens that stay clean.

I also adore fish cooked with or in vegetables; it's one of my favorite meals for experimenting.  As long as there's enough liquid in the vegetables and pan and the vegetables are done (or nearly done) when the well-seasoned fish goes on top, the meal is usually successful.  Fish salads are next on my list; I love them, too!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Apple Pie for You and Someone Special--Just in Time for Thanksgiving When Someone Says, "Bring the Pie!"

10-inch pie for dessert ("A" is for apple) and a coffee cup pie for someone who needs one, like my grandson, Rhyan.
I'm not a big pie eater.  Well, if I'm in Santa Fe I eat coconut cream pie.  If I'm in Florida, I make cherry pie for my family and, well, I eat some. But if I'm home, I bake, but I don't eat much.  A bit of crostata.  A bit more of pumpkin once a year. Honestly, one piece at Thanksgiving and one piece the next morning for breakfast.   I make tarts for gifts and have a bite.  (Especially lemon.)   Overall, I'm a chocolate person.  And while I don't EAT a lot of pie, I certainly bake it and do taste it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chicken-Apple Panini with Cheddar and a Little Salad to Go With It

Cooking dinner for one or two people isn't a challenge in most ways.  Think of it:  that's what restaurants do and do so well.  They cook one chicken breast at a time,  or one piece of fish, or one chop.  Of course they may also cook all of these individual meals at once, which is why your food may occasionally take so very long.  I think what gets interesting is doing it for three meals a day--in your very own kitchen.

If I'm home and not involved in some big project, I often cook lunch for Dave for lots of reasons.  It's a kind thing to do for someone who works 60 hours a week and pays the mortgages.  Otherwise he eats peanut butter on saltines over the kitchen sink.  If I cook, he takes a break, chats with me...maybe reads the paper or plays with Tucker and Gabby.  And while sometimes I'm just cooking a big pot of something anyway, I also like the test of making quick, on-the-spot meals.  Every meal needn't be a masterpiece, but it should satisfy.

While I'm not a big sandwich eater, Dave adores them.  Sandwiches are filling, use leftovers admirably, and make a decent-sized meal without a lot of time and work.  The other day I was going out to lunch with a friend, knew there was chicken left to eat, and threw together a tasty hot sandwich and salad for him in about 10 minutes.  Try this:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Israeli Couscous Salad

In the heat of the summer when tomatoes are lush and warm and cucumbers are cheap and numerous, I make a lot of Greek salads.  Sometimes there are lovely smoky hot peppers  and other times a few clean, green bell peppers suffice.  Feta makes an appearance if I have it.  Leftover salmon or chicken might get thrown in.  It's no longer summer, but...

The other day I saw something somewhere about Israeli salad and, while it's similar to traditional "Greek" salad, it has lots of lemon and often includes mint and/or other fresh herbs.  When I read the words, "Israeli salad," I just had to have some.  I like mine with cheese, but many people also add nuts or seeds. Some never add cheese so that the salad is pareve--doesn't contain dairy or meat-- or so that it's vegan.   Whichever way you choose, I think you'll be happy and full.

My favorite little bit about Israeli salad (which is served at many meals in Israel including breakfast) comes from legendary blogger David Lebovitz, who had Israeli food writer Maya Marom write a guest post about the salad after his return to Paris from a trip to Israel.  Maya tells us there just aren't any rules about making the salad as far as ingredients go:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Fried" Egg Skillet with Zucchini and Salsa

There are moments when there is definitely loveliness to sell. Sara Teasdale, right?*
As when you're moving and a neighbor shows up with great flowers and eggs from the nearby farmer-chef.

And you've just blogged eggs on spinach (again, but not the same).  And still, you go on and make yourself a breakfast/lunch/dinner incomparable that you'd like to share.  In fact, you do it two days running.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Fried" Egg Skillet with Spinach and Salsa or Moving Needs a Great Breakfast.

 There are mornings when nothing but eggs will do and those mornings come around often at my house. Typically an egg white omelet or scramble are my choices, but lately -- in the middle of a move -- two big "fried" eggs aren't an unusual meal with a very large cup of coffee. Or three.

A week out in the move from Saint Paul back to a house we've owned for years in Colorado, I'm still emotionally up in the air and looking for comfort wherever I can find it.  "Fried" eggs are it.  ARGHHHH:/

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mushroom Ragù on Gruyère Toast

Slip some baguette with Gruyère under a broiler.  Saute some mushrooms with garlic, shallots, herbs, broth and wine.  Spoon the mushrooms over the cheese toast.  Dinner is served.

After this post, Dinner Place will be on vacation while we move house....
I grew up in a house that revered mushrooms. In any form, but mostly on their own--just cooked up in a big cast-iron skillet with some garlic or onions.  Eating them on their own was his favorite, but my Dad also loved them with some rice, eggs, or chicken.  He'd have mushrooms any old way.  As a little kid, I wasn't buying.   It didn't take long, however, for me to jump on his bandwagon.

My first mushroom love was the famous mushroom stuffed with sausage.  That gave way to (Lord) the deep-fried variety with sauce.  All the while, regular old mushrooms slowly began to take part in my kitchen pageant.  One day I saw that I was buying mushrooms pretty much every time I went to the store.  Talking with my oldest son the other day, I woke up and realized he was talking about cooking up a big pot of mushrooms.  Never know what you'll pass on.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Steak Pappardelle

Maybe you've been to a wedding and brought home half a filet or you might have splurged and cooked a big steak or chop to last a few days.  The things you can do with that gorgeous hunk wrapped up in the fridge are precious and myriad.  Of course you could make one of these...

Steak Cobb Salad
  • steak and fried eggs with toast and jelly
  • steak sandwich with cheddar and sour cream horseradish sauce
  • steak-filled omelet
  • Philly steak sandwich
  • hash 
  • pepper steak
  • steak and mushrooms on toast
  • stir fry and rice
  • steak and blue cheese grits, or
  • Alyce's Steak Cobb Salad
  • Alyce's Homemade Potato Chip-Steak Salad
  • your favorite
Alyce's Homemade Potato Chip-Steak Salad with Blue Cheese

In fact, there are those that feel the things you later make out of that leftover jewel are most likely the best thing of all. (Maybe we should call them something besides leftovers.) My friend Chris' husband, Dave, is like that.  Leftovers are treasures, gold in the fridge.  For instance, I adore pork tenderloin. But I think I'm most happy to make it just knowing I'll have lean pork fajitas or a dish I make where I sauté onions, garlic, and mushrooms with rosemary and then add some broth and cream for a sauce to serve over rice. That dish needs a name.

On Sunday nights, we don't truly cook.  Not from scratch. I work Sundays and by Sunday get it.

 Dinner is wine and cheese.  Leftovers thrown in a pan. Frozen chili heated. A quick one-pan wonder.  It's our night to watch a movie with tv trays or "Downton Abbey" (when in season) or, like now, "The Newsroom."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Grilled Oregano Shrimp-Caesar Salad with Tomatoes and Crostini

Honest is the best policy:  I was too hungry to take much time with a photo.
It seems when I'm out with friends on some version of the protein and vegetable diet, they often end up with a Caesar Salad and Grilled Chicken or Grilled Salmon, if they're lucky.  I don't eat Caesar salad in restaurants a lot because they're often goopy-- soft and unappetizing.  And, truly, I love my own salads. Even more, I love homemade vinaigrette.

Yesterday Dave and I were at the grocery looking at fish for supper and I saw a great buy on large, gorgeous uncooked shrimp.  (Since shrimp takes two minutes to cook, why is there so much pre-cooked shrimp for sale?)  I remembered I had a bag of cleaned romaine at home in the frig, and asked for a pound of that shrimp for $9.99.  When the shrimp are large, there aren't that many in a pound; I figured whatever was leftover, we'd have the next day for a snack.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Breakfast Zucchini-Basil Boat

One big, scooped out zucchini filled with scrambled eggs, onions, basil, tomatoes+cheese.  Breakfast on the porch Just add newspaper + coffee.

Just for fun, take at look at the LA Times, who published the above photo on #weekendeats  !!!

These little boats are good for a fast summer supper, as well as for Saturday breakfast.  The "boat" is totally edible; make sure the skin is tender and eat it with a bite of salsa.  I served  this with sliced peaches and blueberries and a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and jam.

The best part of the meal was sitting and eating it on the porch with Dave.  I'm grateful for the moments.  Here's our porch...not at breakfast, but you'll get the idea:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Shallots and Tomatoes: Celebrating Julia Child's 101st Birthday One Day Late!!

(Note to readers:  this is actually a repeat post from MORE TIME AT THE TABLE...written and posted last year for Julia's 100th birthday.... This year, I'm already back from our Colorado house and enjoying a gorgeous end of the summer in Minnesota. Have fun. This is FAST FOOD.)

Not spending the summer in St. Paul, I don't have any of my Julia books on the shelf....And it's Julia's 100th birthday!  I shipped all of the ones I needed to work on the soup cookbook and I brought my own personal cookbook, but the whole library cannot come to Colorado.  Julia's books sit in Minnesota:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rice and Vegetable Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette--Favorite Salad of the Summer or It's Good to be Home?

If I had to pick one thing to live off of this summer, this would be it.
 Dave and I are blessed to live in two places or at least to own houses in two places. I have to admit it doesn't always feel like a blessing; the economy has done such things to a lot of people.  Job one place and house in another.  One making money and the other spending it all.  But the beauty of a double life is that you, if you can manage it, maintain relationships in more than one place--unlike an out-and-out final, never going back move.  Then it's emails or Christmas cards and the rare visit.  As we have lot of friends in both places and even family, we're pretty much at home in both Minnesota and Colorado.  When we say, "It'll be good to get home," we could be on our way to either spot and are perfectly honest.  It makes the concept of home confusing sometimes.  Is home really one place?  Is it a place at all?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Caprese with Lemon Green Beans or Garlicky Shitake Mushrooms

I'm not a vegetarian, but I adore vegetables in ways I perhaps don't adore meat, grains, dairy, or fruit.  If you do a simple, but random, google search of varieties of vegetables and then do a similar search for, say, meat, it's easy to see how the variety, color, texture, taste, and infinite possibilities draw me close, lasso me in, and tie me to the garden fence.

I also like what I call, in the summer, "Shop and Chop" meals--a quick slice or dice, perhaps a fast saute or grill (if any cooking at all), and there's dinner.  A cold bottle of wine and I'm outside under the trees for supper.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Grilled Fish Omelet with Greens and Spicy Yogurt-Dill Sauce

If I can't be inventive in my on-going attack on my mid-section and the arms that continue to wave after I've stopped, then I'm a lost cook.   Thanks to my testing recipes for others (and for my own cookbook), I've found that cooking nearly the same thing over and over again -- even  in the morning -- isn't such a bad thing.  I kind of like it.  I feel accomplished.  In a happy way.  Not like when I clean the bathroom, either--even though I also do that over and over again.

Take egg white omelets.  Other than a short-order cook, I just don't know anyone who's cooked more egg white omelets than I have.  There are months on end when I eat them every single morning.  This might be embarrassing, but as it works for someone who wants to save their calories for dinner, it's not.  I make the occasional foray into Greek yogurt and fresh berries, melon, or peaches for several weeks in the summer, but I quickly nix that when the berries start to come in by Fed Ex plane and the cantaloupe begins to have the texture of a cardboard box.  Then I'm right back to eggs.  On Sundays, at noon, I have whole eggs.  Yolks and all.  Very adventurous.  (Here's my baby tutorial on making omelets. Just in case. )  And making so very many egg white omelets, what do I do with all of those egg yolks?  My friends, that's why God made dogs and cheesecake:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gazpacho-Poached Eggs

Just in case you're looking for a fun, light and nutritious breakfast this holiday week while you're at the lake, getting ready for the barbeque, or even if you're staying home, staying cool and reading a sizzling novel!

Try my:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Red, White, and "Blue" Kale Salad for the 4th of July

Stay cool!

(Reposted from my more time at the table blog from July 2, 2012)
Where we live in Saint Paul, it can already be warm pretty early in the morning.  I'm a morning person; the earlier the better.  I'm also the daughter of both my father and father-in-law, because after I push the button on the coffee (pot filled night before), I check the temperature on my back porch.  In the summer if it's above 70, I sigh heavily, drink my coffee, and get out for my morning hike.  Why?  Because it will soon be 80, then 90, and today, my friends, the little weather gizmo on my iphone says it will be 99.  If you're a regular reader, you know what my house is like:


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Watermelon Sangria and Gone Fishin'

Add blueberries if you like.
I'm going on vacation and the blog is going with me.  See you late June!

In the meantime, make my mean

My lilacs are in bloom very late this year.

Morning of day needed (or night before) mix together in a large pitcher or jar:

1 750 ml bottle dry white wine, such as Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio (don't use great wine)
1/4 cup each brandy, Grand Marnier, simple syrup*

Stir in:

4-6 pieces of watermelon, cut into 1/2-inch thick x 3-inch x 3-inches wide tall pieces
4 strawberries cut in half
1 orange cut in half, juice squeezed into the wine, and one piece put into the wine mixture
6 green grapes or a sliced plum or peach, optional

Cover and let sit in refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight until very cold.

To serve:   For a large wine glass (recommended), use a long spoon to add a piece or two of fruit, and several cubes of ice.  Pour in 1/3 cup of the cold wine-fruit mixture, and 2-3 ounces of sparkling water.  Enjoy cold.  Potent.  Sip slowly.

*Simple Syrup:   Over medium heat, in a small sauce pan, heat together 1/3 cup each water and white sugar until hot and sugar is melted.  Let cool before using.  There's a little extra if you'd like to use it for your tea or lemonade.

Have fun stirring things up for yourself,

Here's one of the places I'll be.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Veggie Tacos with Salsa Ranch Dressing or Just Add Egg Whites for Breakfast

I freely admit I'm addicted to these little tacos.  You will not believe how good they are and how quickly they go down.  Picture this:  a gorgeous mound of sautéed or grilled vegetables with just a little, tiny bit of cheese --  all on an über-fiber, whole wheat tortilla.  Top all that goodness off with your favorite salsa mixed with ranch dressing, some fresh spinach leaves, a sprinkle of chopped green onion or cucumber, a quick squeeze of lime, and Bob's your uncle, you're eating. Very happily, I'll add.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Luscious Sides, My Favorites: Cayenne Sweet Potato Fries, Lemon Green Beans, Cumin Carrots, and Spinach Orzo

Dave and I took a pot of Italian Sausage chili and a salad over to our friend Jim's new house the other day. 

 When Jim bought his new house, I promised him I'd bring supper over one night to christen the dining room.  Something terribly simple and portable, complete with a great bottle of wine (or two) that we would "break" open to celebrate this incredible homecoming.  I finally made good on the promise and:  it was a night to remember --complete with dessert later on at Minneapolis' incredible CORNER TABLE restaurant.  (Go soon...)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Derby Pie -- A Pie 101 Post

originally posted May 2012 on More Time at the Table
"Derby" Pie or  Pecan-Chocolate-Bourbon Pie.  Can you say decadent?
When someone needs something baked, I do it if I can.  If I have the time.  Not everyone bakes.  I love to bake and need an excuse now that there are only two of us in the house.  If I bake for an event, I somehow always manage to make enough so that we can share a sample or even have a tiny sweetness for ourselves.  (If it's pie, it's usually for Dave; I eat a bite, that's it.  He loves pie too much for me to eat much.)

(Aside:  After I saw how many people read my basic Pie 101 post, I thought I'd begin a series (quite intermittent) on pies.  I hope  you like them.  Anywho, read on.)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Steak Cobb

One of the happiest cooking moments is to create something out of leftovers that you like better than the original meal. (A theme lately for me.)  Maybe you make chicken so you can have chicken sandwiches.  Or meatloaf for meatloaf sandwiches.  (I clearly remember my first meatloaf sandwich at Danny Izzo's house while I was in college; my mom didn't make meatloaf sandwiches.)  Grilled salmon for scrambled eggs, omelet, or frittata.  Roast pork for tacos.  Roast beef and/or baked sweet potatoes for hash.  Easter eggs for deviled eggs or egg salad. Steak for salads like the one above/below and lots of other meals.

We usually don't eat steak at all through the winter, but wait (as we do for hamburgers) for grilling time.  And then I cook two steaks anyway.  Because we like steak and eggs, steak sandwiches, frittatas with leftover potato, steak, and vegetables, or steak hash.  Or a new favorite of mine, Steak Cobb.

Now I don't know if anyone else makes Steak Cobb. I had the ingredients and it sounded good to me.  It makes leftover restaurant steak into a lovely, beautiful salad or gives you a reason to make an extra steak on the grill any time at all.  Here's how if you need directions other than from the photos:

steak cobb for one
  • two cups fresh greens (I like spinach for this)
  • 2 ounces leftover cold steak, sliced thinly
  • 2 scallions (green onions-green and white parts) sliced very thinly
  • 1/4 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1-2 strips bacon, cooked crisply and chopped
  • 1 boiled egg, sliced
  • 1/2 - 1 cup sauteed vegetables (or fresh) of your choice   
  • 1/2 tomato, sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons blue cheese dressing
  • kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
  • fresh lemon juice
  1. Arrange greens in a large shallow bowl and top with steak and scallions.
  2. Place bacon at one corner, sliced egg at another, vegetables at the third and tomato at the fourth.
  3. Spoon dressing into the leftover space.   Don't toss this salad.  Dip its elements into the dressing and only use what you need; the blue cheese will overwhelm everything else otherwise.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and squeeze lemon juice over all.     
Things that make this fast and simple--mostly pantry info:
 I keep Nueske's bacon in 2- and 4-piece packages in the freezer so I can unthaw and cook it quickly in the microwave when needed.
  I "boil" eggs in the microwave for quick salads like this:  Spray a deep cereal bowl with PAM or grease lightly. Crack egg  in and, using a sharp knife, pierce yolk once and white several times.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on full power for one minute.  (Tightly being the important word here.)  Carefully remove bowl from oven, let sit a minute, tip out onto cutting board and slice.

 I keep blue cheese in the frig and make dressing in the food processor while the bacon cooks:
2 ounces blue cheese, 1-2 cloves garlic (chopped), 1/4 cup mayonnaise, pinch salt and pepper, 2 shakes hot sauce, 2 tablespoons milk blended well and tasted for seasoning. (approximate amounts)
Of course you can make this without a food processor:  Mash up the blue cheese with a table fork.  Crush the garlic with the flat side of a chef's knife and chop it well. Beat well with remainder of ingredients and adjust seasonings.
I am only without lemons if I'm leaving tomorrow on a plane and usually not then. 
When I cook vegetables, I cook enough for a couple of days or more--such as sauteed onions, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, green beans,  garlic, mushrooms, etc. 
I have pasta bowls perfect for composed salads and believe this makes a difference.  This will work on a plate, but not as well.  The ingredients are lost in a jumble, though they'll taste good, if you toss this up in a chili bowl.

... ... ... ...

If you're interested in helping solve a current and immediate hunger need, please read this blogpost on LEAVE IT WHERE JESUS FLANG IT.  Margaret Watson is an Episcopal priest on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota where many--elderly, handicapped, grandparents raising kids-- are hungry due to sequester cuts;  her own cupboards and freezer are bare.    Please write your congressional reps to end the sequester where it is creating more and more hunger or pain and/or drop a note in the comments on Margaret's blog to see how you might personally help.  Here are her own words:

But more importantly, the clients themselves have been cut off --they have received no monies since the beginning of March. They are coming to my door asking for heating fuel, food, clothes, diapers. Children are at risk. There are no Tribal programs that can assist these folks, they are mostly disabled, elderly with grandchildren in the home, or are desperate for work. Last night, after a funeral, I delivered left over food to people's homes. Funeral food to a family of six of baloney sandwiches, biscuits, two apples, two oranges and some chocolate cake.
I cannot afford to feed all the people who come to my door asking for help. I have emptied my own freezer, my own cupboard in order to help these desperate folks.
...    In the last six months, I have done 40 funerals --six infants, two teen suicides, and many, many folks under the age 40.

And food, shelter and heat are not the only problems here --the Indian Health Services were also part of the Sequester cuts. And the cuts are affecting the Head Start programs.
---from Margaret's post Shocked and Depressed.

... ... ... ... ... ...

Please help?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Swordfish with Ginger-Asparagus Rice and Mango Salsa (Another Help! I've Got Leftover Take-out Rice and Don't Know What To Do With It)

I'm likely to decide on what's for Sunday supper as I sit at Sunday lunch.  Often there are leftovers, soup in the freezer, or a nice piece of cheese that only needs a nice glass of wine to balance out all of my food groups.  Whatever happens, I rarely cook.  Sunday's a work day for me and Sunday evening is one I like to spend with my best guy, the dogs, and a tv tray.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fried Egg on Potato Cake with Blue Cheese Wedge, Tomatoes, and Scallions

 Tonight I was hungry, but had had a fattening lunch.  A little egg supper was in order, along with a bit of salad.  I threw in a potato cake because I had some cold mashed potatoes in the frig. (Potato cakes are just leftover mashed potatoes patted out like a pancake and fried in butter until very crisp.) Hey, they needed to be used.  If you've never made anything on top  of a potato cake, now's the time.  Try this:

Friday, April 5, 2013

Roast Chicken with Vegetables and Spicy Potatoes--A Little Paris Bistro For You

The weekend is the perfect time for the solo cook -- or anyone-- to roast a chicken.  Why not?  If you'd like a friend to come over for dinner the day you make this, all the better.  If not, no problem.  Plenty for you all weekend long, bones and bits for stock, and luscious sandwiches or salads or soup for lunch for a couple of days.  Put on the music, pour a little wine, set yourself a pretty place just for the two (or one) of you or put on a good movie while the whole meal cooks at once without you stirring a thing.

Skip the rotisserie chicken at the store, despite the price--at least for this time.  Save it for when you're really desperate.  They're often old, tiny, stringy, overdone, mushy, or include some ingredients you don't really want to eat.  If you have a couple of hours, you have your own chicken. I mean, sticking a whole chicken in the oven can't be too hard, right?  (I'll talk you through the process to a golden, tender, beautiful chicken.)  While I've blogged my own roast chicken recipes before (scroll down to bottom), this one happens to be Perfect Roast Chicken by Ina Garten. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hot Cross Buns -- One a Penny, Two a Penny...

 It is a tradition amongst many Christian bakers to produce a batch of Hot Cross Buns (Click to sing the nursery rhyme!) for Good Friday.  And, if not, we stop at the local bakery and see if THEY made any.  These barely sweet firm rolls, served on a day when no meat is eaten,  are hearty tea treats of the first order--complete with a light buttery hum that is almost topped by the spice notes.  The pretty "X" snipped into the top (and often emphasized with a bit of icing painted into the grooves) lets the world--and you, too-- know what kind of bread this is.  An "X"  on bread can also be assumed to keep evil away.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I'd Just Like a Little Chicken and Salad, Please

More than once, I've heard Ina Garten say (about roast chicken), "That's all that anyone really ever wants for dinner anyway, isn't it?"  If you're like me, you love roast chicken, but it definitely isn't the only thing I ever want for dinner.  Hello?  I love pizza, lamb chops, Vietnamese soup, beef stew, salmon...   But there maybe are a few nights in the year when you really do just want  a little chicken.  If you're not in the mood to roast a whole bird tonight, this meal is for you.  Especially if you keep frozen chicken thighs (boneless and bone-in) in the freezer at all times--a great treasure trove for very fast meals.

I happened to have made a huge vat of potatoes and vegetables to go with some fried trout for breakfast last Friday.  Saturday night, all I had to do was cook the chicken and I was about ready to eat.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Frosted Brownies for You

On the rare occasion, you'll eat a brownie somewhere that, while you're unsure why, just doesn't measure down to the brownies sitting around most kitchens, potluck tables, or bakeries for that matter.  You are unsure why.  Maybe it's fresh.  Frosted? Tender?  Tastes of chocolate rather than cocoa and flour?  Not dry?  Not wet? Firm enough as in done, but definitely not gooey?

I make those brownies, she said... though I can't make them often.  Because I'd eat them, you see.  You can make them, too.  The differences between what are soon to be your brownies and the regular, old garden variety brownies are basic, but not always obvious.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Irish Fruit Scones

I borrowed a little bit of one of the More Time at the Table St. Pat's posts and hope you enjoy making an easy small quick bread.  Conquer it, make it yours!  Here's how:

Patted out dough waiting to be cut with a floured cutter or knife.
irish fruit scones     makes about 10  2-inch scones
Adapted for American kitchens-   original recipe by Edmund Cronin, THATCH COTTAGE, County Kerry 

  •  8 ounces all purpose, unbleached flour (1 3/4 cups approx.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 50 g (2 ounces or 4 tablespoons) butter
  • 50 g (2 ounces or 1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 75 g (3 ounces or 1/2 cup) sultanas (raisins)--I used currants
  • 1/4 pint/ 125 ml (1/2 cup approx) milk       
Cut-out scones waiting to be baked.
  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (425 F/ gas mark 7)
  2. Lightly grease a small baking sheet.
  3. Mix together flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl.  Cut in butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in sugar and raisins or currants.
  4. Add milk and mix to produce a soft dough.
  5. Turn the dough onto a floured board or counter and knead about a minute until well-combined and holding together.
  6. Roll out dough to about 3/4-inch thick.  Using a floured 2-inch cutter, cut scones into rounds and place on baking tray.
  7. Brush with milk to glaze.
  8. Bake 12 minutes or until done to your liking; I like them a bit crisp on the outside.
  9. Remove scones to a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature with soft Irish butter. (The Irish and many others might serve these with whipped cream rather than butter.)
Baker's notes:  I used a food processor fitted with a steel blade for steps 1-4, but I turned the mixture out and did the rest by hand, including working in the last of the milk.  The dried fruit would be chopped finely if you continued in the food processor much longer.  To do the whole thing by hand or with a pastry cutter would be fairly quick and simple, as well.  Some cooks would just use their hands to get the butter into the flour; I find it melts too much from the heat of my hands and prefer a metal cutting force of some sort--either the pastry cutter or the food processor blade.

Scone Song...listen here. 

Just out of the oven.  Best the day they're made.
 Here's the little booklet with the recipe I bought in Ireland right at the Thatch Cottage:

Ready for their close-up on my piano in the afternoon light.

People always talk about the green in Ireland; I loved the oh-so-blue sky:

Favorite Irish movie:  The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,
Happy Saint Patrick's Day,