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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fire Roasted Salsa

One of the things I did, just prior to getting hit with the recent hurricane, was go food shopping. Just like every person within 100 miles of me. I was hoping the storm wouldn't be as bad as everyone was predicting, that we wouldn't lose power, and that the weekend would be spent being stuck inside, playing board games, watching movies, cooking yummy food and eating!
So, rather stupidly, I stocked the fridge to the max. It wasn't the brightest thing to do because we did indeed lose power. At first it flickered on and off, about every hour or so. Then, it finally went kaput for good the morning the storm hit. After that, the next 48 hours had me in a panic. Not because we couldn't watch TV, or use the computer, or because it's very hard to get used to doing everything in the dark...but, because of the food! Why, oh why, did I spend all that money on food? Much of which would end up getting thrown away. Especially when there are people all over this planet starving?
To relieve some of the anxiety I was having over the situation, I made it my mission to use up as much of it as I could. Luckily, we had the foresight to fill the propane tank for the grill, and anything that could be cooked on it, did. The need to empty the contents of our crisper drawer, combined with a massive amount of tomatoes I had on hand from our garden, inspired this recipe.

I've made many variations of salsa this green kindsome with fruit, and more with fruit. Usually, if I'm making traditional red tomato salsa, I make it in a similar fashion to the ones I just mentioned, using raw ingredients. But, this time I wanted to try something new. So, I ended up roasting half the tomatoes, along with some of the other ingredients on the grill, until they were charred and full of smoky flavor. The other half of the tomatoes, I left raw. I did this to keep some of the fresh, juicy texture of heirloom tomatoes present...yet with the roasted flavor mixed in.

If I had my oven to use, I might have tried roasting the vegetables under the broiler. As it would have been easier than grilling them. But, if you have a grill basket, or one of those handy grill pans that you lay over the grill grates, they work great! They prevent smaller items from slipping through the grates of the grill, and I use ours all the time. I threw a couple jalapeno peppers on whole, but I chopped the rest of the veggies into large pieces, so they'd hold up over the high heat.

Before grilling, I tossed everything with some oil, salt and pepper. Then, I grilled the vegetables until they were tender and lightly charred. Once cool enough to handle, I chopped everything up and mixed it together with raw chopped tomatoes, some {pressed} garlic, freshly squeezed lime juice, and chopped cilantro.

This recipe makes a pretty big batch, and I'm glad it did. Once my fridge was back on, it was great to have some handy the rest of the week. We ate it the usual way...accompanied by tortilla chips, but it's also delicious with eggs!

Fire Roasted Heirloom Salsa

Makes 4 cups
I used many different varieties of tomatoes for this salsa, all of which varied in size. Some were enormous, while others were only slightly bigger than a cherry tomato. Because of this, I am giving the quantity for the tomatoes in weight. This is a general approximation, and you can adjust the ingredients according to how many tomatoes you have on hand. 

2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes
1 medium red onion, cut into quarters
bell pepper, seeded + cut in half
jalapeno peppers, or to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil + more for grill
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large cloves of garlic, pressed
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

special equipment: a grill basket, or grid

Preheat a grill on high heat, and rub a grill basket generously with oil.
Cut half of the tomatoes into large pieces, and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. To the pan, also add the quartered red onion, bell pepper halves, and the jalapeno peppers. Toss together with the vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and black pepper, until evenly coated. Arrange all of the veggies on the grill basket, and roast, turning occasionally, until tender and beginning to char on the edges. Remove from the grill, place back on the baking sheet, and let cool slightly.
Once cool enough to handle, medium dice all of the roasted vegetables, and place in a large bowl. Note: for the jalapeno peppers, I removed the seeds and stems before dicing to cut back on the heat a bit. You can adjust this according to your preference. If you'd like your salsa very spicy, dice them as is, seeds and all.
Medium dice the remaining raw tomatoes, and add them to the bowl. Add the garlic, juice of one lime, and chopped cilantro. Stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, add in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, if desired, and serve.
Note: You can make this salsa well ahead of time. It tastes great for days, and only gets better as the flavors have a chance to blend.

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Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes 8-12 biscuits
Adapted {barely} from Saveur magazine

3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup well shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup half & half

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt & baking soda to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment. Process until blended. Scatter the cubed butter over the top & pulse a few times, just enough so the butter pieces are approximately the size of a pea.
Dump the mixture out into a mixing bowl. Whisk the buttermilk & cream together, then add them to the bowl. Using a spatula, gently mix, until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix!
Transfer the dough to a well floured work surface & knead it a couple of times, until it comes together. Gently press the dough into a disc & using a rolling pin, dusted with flour, roll the dough out to an even thickness of about 1".
Using a bench scraper, or a sharp knife, cut the dough into a grid to make square pieces {or, use the biscuit cutter of your choice}. Place the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet & position them so that they are touching. This helps them stay moist as they bake. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, before serving.

Parmesan Chicken Cutlets

Parmesan Chicken Cutlets

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Family Style Cookbook
Serves 6

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Grapeseed oil

Trim the chicken breasts & remove the tenderloins. Reserve them for another use. Place the chicken between plastic wrap, or inside a resealable plastic bag & pound to a 1/4" thickness.
Combine the flour, salt & pepper on a plate. Beat the eggs with the water & pour onto another plate. Grate the Parmesan cheese & combine with the bread crumbs on a third plate. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour, then dip into the egg & finally into the bread crumbs. Press down on the chicken slightly, so that the breadcrumbs adhere.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of the grapeseed oil in a large skillet, over medium low heat. It should be about 1/8" inch deep. When the oil is hot, cook 1-2 chicken breasts at a time for about 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip & cook an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat & serve immediately. Or, place on a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet in a 250 degree oven, until ready to serve.

Easy Monte Cristos

Today, is yet another great food holiday. Today celebrate the Monte Cristo. Wow!! What a fancy name, what exactly is it. Well it is a fried ham and cheese sandwich. Very popular between the 1930s and 1960s and often found in cookbooks during that time as well. It can also be found under names such as french sandwich, toasted ham sandwich, and french toasted cheese sandwich. 

1 full package of 24 count rolls - Kings Hawaiian Sweet Rolls are our favorite
1 1/2 lb black forest ham  - thinly sliced
24 slices of baby Swiss cheese 

Sweet Glaze 
1/4 C pineapple juice
1 stick butter
1 tsp garlic salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 T dijon mustard 
3 T brown sugar 
1 tsp corn starch

With a long bread knife, slice rolls open - if you are using Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, keep all rolls in tact and slice right through the center of the rolls. Once baked you can cut the individual rolls for serving. 
Make glaze on stove top. Bring to a slight boil & let cool slightly. With a pastry brush, brush the glaze on to the open face side of the rolls. Reserve a little glaze for the top of rolls.
Layer on the open face side of rolls - meat, cheese, meat and cheese and place the other half of rolls on top.
Brush a light coating of glaze on top of rolls. Cover snugly with foil. Bake 320 (convection oven) 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve hot. 
Serve with raspberry jam, pineapple tidbits or ranch dressing.

Yum, YUM, YUM!!

Constitution Day

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The above is the preamble of the United States Constitution. Today September 17th is Constitution day. If we celebrate freedom on July 4th why is it not til September that we celebrate constitution day?? Because in those days and times travel was not by airplane or electronically or even vehicle of any sort. It was a lot slower and the final signing of the U.S. Constitution did not occur until September 17, 1787

Easy Mexican Casserole

Easy Mexican Casserole
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 1 lb. ground beef, browned
  • 10 oz Longhorn cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 (17 oz) can Ranch Style beans
  • 1 onion grated and sauteed with the ground beef
  • 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
Layer in 9×14 inch flat pan (or larger), 6 tortillas quartered, meat, beans, cheese , and 6 more tortillas. Blend together Ro-Tel tomatoes and soup in a bowl. Then spread soup mixture over the last layer of tortillas. Finish with final layer of cheese. Cover with foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 -50 minutes or until bubbly all over. For the final few minutes, remove the foil and let the cheese melt.
For a variation: Use chicken, Monterrey Jack cheese, and flour tortillas. (This is yummy, too!)

Honey Dijon Chicken & Rice It's Whats For Supper

Honey Dijon Chicken & Rice

Tender chicken in a delightful sauce served over hot cooked rice. A marvelously easy and delicious dinner!

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups hot cooked rice

In a heavy skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the cubed chicken, chopped onion and garlic; cook until the meat is no longer pink.

Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the rice; cover and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot cooked rice. Makes 4 servings.

Lemon Pies Oh My

Cooking spray
1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrust dough
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons light butter
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 450°. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges; flute. Pierce bottom and sides of dough with a fork. Place crust in freezer for about 10 minutes Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack. Reduce temperature to 325°. 
To prepare filling, combine 1 1/4 cups sugar and cornstarch in a medium nonaluminum saucepan. Stir in water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until thick and bubbly (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot cornstarch mixture into egg yolk, stirring constantly with a whisk; add to remaining cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly. Cook until thick and bubbly (about 1 minute), stirring constantly. Stir in butter and lemon rind. Pour mixture into prepared crust; cover surface with plastic wrap.
To prepare meringue, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. (Do not overbeat.) Remove plastic wrap from filling; spread meringue evenly over filling, sealing to edge of crust. Bake at 325° for 25 minutes; cool on a wire rack 1 hour. Serve at room temperature

Need an easier quicker version then you may want to check out this recipe I found this recipe in a vintage culinary school book that I located at a rummage sale. 

Jiffy Lemon Pie

baked 8 inch pie shell
14 oZ can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 c lemon juice
1 1/2 t grated lemon peel
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 egg whites
1/8 t salt
1/4 c sugar

Set out pie shell Mix milk, juice peel and yolks. Pour in shell and set aside. Beat egg whites and salt til frothy. Beat til rounded peaks are formed and whites do not slide when bowl is partially inverted Pile meringue lightly onto filling being sure to seal meringue to crust Bake 350 degrees 10 to 12 minutes til meringue is delicately browned. Set aside to cool til ready to serve

Apple Bread Pudding

6 cups of bread cut into chunks
2 cups diced apples, you want to use an apple that is good for baking
3 cups milk
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together apples and bread.  In separate large bowl whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon, then add bread and apples.  Mix together well. Pour into an 11×7 or about that pan.  Place that an into a 9×13 pan and fill the outer pan (9×13 pan) with about 1 inch of water. Your size of pan does not matter so much, as long as the pan with the bread mixture can fit into a pan with water into it. You are creating a water bath, which is important in giving this bread pudding its texture. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pulled Pork Vietnamese Style

Pulled Pork Bahn Mi
click to print

1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c Asian fish sauce
1/4 c rice vinegar
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeño chile, seeded, deveined, minced
4 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4-inch pieces
3/4 c mayonnaise
1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce, or to taste
8 mini baguettes or ciabatta rolls, split, toasted
1 (10-oz.) pkg. julienned carrots
1 medium unpeeled seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 c thinly sliced green onions
1 c coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Okay, so I went cheap with the pork picnic instead of a boneless shoulder. I just removed the skin and extra fat, leaving the bone, and called it good.

Combine brown sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, and jalapeño in 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.

Place pork in slow cooker; spoon sauce mixture over pork to coat.

Cook, covered, on high 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours or until pork is fork-tender.

Remove pork; skim fat from cooking juices.
There wasn't much in the way of juices so I transferred all of it to to a little jar from which I spooned off the fat.

Shred pork with 2 forks; return to cooking juices in slow cooker. Reduce heat to low to keep warm.
It was late, nearing midnight 9/8/14 when I got to this point. Rather than keep the pork in a slow-cooker overnight, I opted to shred it, add the fatless cooking juices, and toss before storing in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise and hot sauce in small bowl until blended; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
This is scaled down to 1/4 c mayo and 1 tsp Sriracha. I figured I'd make it as I ate the sandwiches, increasing the Sriracha as appropriate each time.

Spread bread with mayonnaise mixture; top with pork, carrots, cucumber, green onions and cilantro.

It tasted good, but holy shit is it ever salty. I'm guessing it was all because of the fish sauce, there isn't anything else that is contributing so much sodium. Or because I used a 4.18 lb picnic that included a bone, lessening the total quantity of meat, thus increasing the salt per bite. Seriously, select a bread that will let you really pile the vegetables on. You'll need it. I might buy a bunch of lettuces or mixed greens and eat the rest of this as a salad with ciabatta croutons and Sriracha-mayo "dressing".

Anyway, the sandwich is definitely savory, hot, cool, crispy and crunchy. It's a texture explosion. The salt just kills is though, which is seriously disappointing. I have to try this again and get 4 pound of total meat, no bone, and use my usual fish sauce.


  • brown sugar: $0.18
  • fish sauce: $2
  • rice vinegar: $0.29
  • garlic cloves: $0.25
  • jalapeño chile: $0.09
  • pork picnic: $4.14
  • mayonnaise: $1.32
  • Sriracha hot sauce: $0.06
  • ciabatta: $2.99
  • julienned carrots: $1.99
  • seedless cucumber: $0.99
  • green onions: $0.89
  • fresh cilantro: $0.59
Total: $15.79 or about $1.97 for each of eight sandwiches.

National Working Parents Day

There are not many of us that do not wear several hats. Me myself I am a wife, mother, grandma, aunt, daughter, sister, nurse aide, volunteer and the list goes on. For all of us that hold down a job and are parents today is our day. In the past two parent families would see one staying at home and the other heading to work. These days and times it often takes both parents to work outside the home. The generation that allowed the ease of having only one parent working is gone. If both parents do not have jobs they are looking for jobs or another source of income. Working parents to me is anyone that puts work into the job of being a parent and doing their best for their child. Whether a job is held or not may be a bonus but does not necessarily make a working parent.

Many including myself have sent children back to school. There are a few things that you can do to ensure your school year goes well.

Children should be allowed to participate in activities but too many activities may become a hardship for families. Before a new activity is started take time as a family to look at the possibilities of whether or not a new activity whether it be a new group, sport or other out of the home event be a hardship on the family. Some may be short - lived events and others may last the entire year or several months. Make a compromise and decide how many activities at a time would be good for all.

A family calendar is another great idea that helps keep everyone on task. Knowing what is happening today, tomorrow and in the future is important. If possible adding these dates to the calendar will help over booking too many activities.

Keeping a closet or box for extra supplies that your family uses often will help save time as well. Take an inventory of what is needed is easier to do as well when all is in the same place. No more running out in the busy week to get a needed item because you should all ready have it in the supply area.

Sleep is worth as much as gold sometimes in my opinion. Not always do we get enough sleep because of our busy schedule. It is great to get our entire family on a bedtime ritual. Know the correct hours of shut eye that all members of the family need. A bedtime ritual for the children needs to be put in place so that we as the adults can get a bit of rest as well. Showers, laying our clothes out for the next day, brushing teeth, reading a book or quiet time are all part of the bedtime ritual.

What helps you keep your sanity between the work front and home life? 

Football Food : Spicy Buffalo WIngs

Are you ready for some football?? Are your ready for a good time?? Are you ready to fill your plate with tailgate goodies?? Well if you are then I am sure you will love this next recipe:

Angela's Spicy Buffalo Wings 

2 1/2 pounds chicken wing pieces (wings already cut)
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
Spicy Buffalo Sauce
Cool Ranch Sauce
Celery sticks

Sprinkle wings with salt and next 3 ingredients. Dredge in flour, shaking to remove excess. Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a large deep skillet; heat to 350°. Fry wings, in batches, 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until done. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels. Toss wings in Spicy Buffalo Sauce; serve immediately with Cool Ranch Sauce and celery sticks.

Source: Southern Living, SEPTEMBER 2010 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pasta and Smoky Angry Tomato Sauce

I love pasta and tomato recipes. This recipe called smoky angry tomato sauce sounded a bit trying but was really good.

Pasta with Smoky Angry Tomato Sauce
adapted from Cooking Club
click to print

12 oz. rigatoni or penne (tube-shaped pasta)
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta; drain.
Get the salted water to a raging boil; add rigatoni and start checking it for doneness after 6 minutes. The package said to cook 14 to 16 minutes; mine was ready after 7 minutes and 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently.

Add onion; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook and stir 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Stir in tomatoes, salt and pepper; cook 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

Stir in pasta. Serve sprinkled with cheese.

And then because it was saucier than I prefer, I cooked the remaining 4 ounces of rigatoni and stirred that into what was left in the skillet. The pasta:sauce ratio was much more my speed.

With an increase in pasta, the sauce didn't turn out very angry. Consider upping the pepper even if using only eight ounces of rigatoni. Very clean tasting, which I think reflects nicely how simple food with only a handful of ingredients can be so good. The dish is subtly smoky from the bacon and I think next time I'll crank it up a notch by using fire-roasted tomatoes.

If you don't cook pasta twice, this is easily done in 30 minutes.


  • rigatoni: $0.99
  • bacon: $1.13
  • onion: $0.31
  • garlic: $0.20
  • diced tomatoes: $0.96
  • Parmesan cheese: $1.08
Total: $4.67 or about $1.17 for each of four servings.