Friday, January 8, 2010

Pondering Food

No recipe here, but just some random thoughts on what foods I eat.

I'm kind of an odd bird, I guess. I am a beer snob, I love organic foods, too.  I attempt to buy locally produced foods when possible. I joined a C.S.A. program last summer at Blue Pike Farm in Cleveland that was awesome!! I literally would pick up the food from a great local urban farm every week on the way home from work.   I highly recommend you support your local organic farmer.  You'll save money, eat better, and save the pea pod at a time!

But I also am a junk food junkie.  I was wise to give up soda pop years ago, but if you put a bag of potato chips in front of me.....look OUT!  (All hail that which maketh the Great CRUNCH!)  I also love weird combinations of food..peanut butter and baloney on rye with lettuce.   Yeah, I know it's weird, but so dang good!  Or peanut butter with just about anything...on rice cakes, or on toast with raisins (it makes an especially hearty breakfast with a glass of juice!)  I'm also a cheese lover...cheddar, gouda, parmesan.  Any kind of cheese is fine with me (except maybe the crappy American cheese that tastes like an oil slick).

I seek a sense of balance in life.  I remember my Mother telling me of my Grandmother's favorite quote "Moderation in all things....except moderation!"  Which I interpret as eat healthy as much as you can. But when you get that urge to have kielbasa and pierogies (sp?) with tons of onions sauteed in butter and real sour cream, go for it!  And pop the top off a good local micro-brew to go with that kielbasa dinner.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I'm so excited.. such a food geek I am.. my blog was accepted to the Foodie Blogroll. Yahoo! Ahh, it's the little things that make me happy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Leftovers, Leftovers

What to do with those leftovers. I hate throwing out food.  Holiday ham is no exception.  Needless to say, last night I had about 6 oz. or so of leftover holiday ham. (Delicious stuff, too, thanks to my cousin's fine cooking.)  But just ham alone is not a meal. I didn't want another ham sandwich! What to do, what to do.

I've always been pretty good at inventing dishes, so last night I looked around the kitchen. Hmmm.... ham, ham, ham. I had one lonely egg in the fridge. Ham & 1 egg... nope, that won't do.

I love Italian foods, so I always  have a few types of pasta on hand. Spaghetti seems to be the noodle of the day. Ham & spaghetti? hmmm.. So this is what I did.  All ingredient measurements are approximate.

1/2 lb. spaghetti (uncooked weight)
6 oz. sliced leftover ham diced to bite size pieces.
4 oz. unsalted butter
3 oz (roughly) sifted flour
1 1/2 C whole milk
salt and pepper to taste (I didn't add salt, 'cause the ham's salty enough)
4 oz. frozen peas
1 egg scrambled
Fresh ground Pecorino romano cheese

In a large pot, boil water, and cook spaghetti according to package directions.

While your pasta water is boiling, prepare your other ingredients.  Once the pasta is in the water, in a small saucepan over low-medium heat, make a roux - melt butter to just barely bubbling and whisk in flour a little at a time until it just barely starts to thicken.  Don't let the butter/flour mix turn brown.  For this one, I didn't want a thick sauce, so I didn't put so much flour in.  Add milk slowly, a little at a time, whisking 'til combined.   Add fresh ground pepper ( I grind by the number of wrist twists.. I used 5 twists).  Add ham and peas, cover and lower heat to simmer until pasta is done cooking.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot over medium heat.  Pour over the ham sauce mix, and mix thoroughly until hot.  Add the egg, and toss until it starts to hold together a bit, maybe 1 or 2 minutes.  Serve immediately with fresh Pecorino romano cheese, or parmesan.

This takes no time to make.. in the time it took to boil the water and cook the spaghetti, dinner was done.  So maybe about 20 minutes.  And it turned out fabulous. I couldn't wait to have it for leftovers for lunch today!

Peaches and Cream Pie

This is one of my all-time favorite pies.  It doesn't quite measure up to lemon merengue, but it's a whole lot easier to make!  It just melts in your mouth and is simply marvelous.

If you're using fresh peaches, be sure they're nice and ripe as it's easier to remove the skins - aside from that, it'll taste a whole lot better!  Canned peaches are OK for this recipe, but fresh are always better.

4 or 5 fresh peaches (I prefer it more peachy, so 6 or 7)  peeled and sliced. OR 1 ea. 16 oz can peaches, drained.
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
2/3 C sugar (1/2 C if using canned peaches)
4 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Mix everything but the peaches in a large bowl.  Fold in the peaches.  Pour in a pie crust (see previous recipe for that).  Bake at 400 degrees F. for 1 hour, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

(photo courtesy of Taste of Home)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Raisin Sauce

This recipe comes from a dear friend of my Mother's, who was from England. This is an old family recipe of hers that goes back many generations.  It is traditionally served with ham. Once you have raisin sauce with your ham, you might not want to have it any other way! 

1/2 C. brown sugar - packed
1 tsp. dry Coleman's mustard
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 C. water
1/2 to 3/4 C. raisins

In a large saucepan, mix brown sugar, mustard and corn starch.  On low heat, slowly add vinegar, lemon juice and water.  Mix until smooth, and add raisins.  Continue to stir until thickened.  Serve with ham, or pork roast.

Potato Casserole

This recipe is one my Mom always served for holidays.  You can make it the night before, so there's no last-minute mashing potatoes while everyone else is around the stove and trying to help serve things up.  It's fantastic, I think.  Leftovers are great the next day when you add an egg, and fry them in a shallow pan to make into potato pancakes.

6 to 8 medium sized redskin potatoes
8 oz. (1/2 C) cream cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp. fresh chives, minced
1 tsp. fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. salt
3 to 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Peel, dice and boil potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain the water.  Add cream cheese, chives, parsley, salt and butter.  Mix well.  Add eggs, and mix well.

Pour mixture into a large, oven proof casserole dish.  If you made the mixture the night before, cover and refrigerate until you're ready to bake it.  Uncover, and bake at 400 degrees F. for 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Petitcoat Tails

This is one of my Grandmother's recipes. I don't have a lot of her recipes, but my Mom saved as many as she could when my Grandmother died.  When I was young, my Mother baked a lot for the holidays. I always loved these cookies.  I have since realized that this recipe, though written in my Grandmother's handwriting, is incomplete.  This was not uncommon for my Grandmother to do when she knew a recipe by heart.  She'd take for granted that the steps involved were known by all.  I have taken the liberty of adjusting it - more vanilla, and some ice water to hold it together.

1 C. unsalted butter, softened
1 C. sifted confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract (or almond, or whatever flavor you like)
2 1/2 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 C ice water

Cream butter and confectioner's sugar.  Using a pastry blender, add vanilla, flour and salt.  Mix until it's the texture of small peas, like you would for pie crust. Chill dough for 1 or 2 hours or overnight. With a pastry blender, add ice water a bit at a time, until the mixture just holds together.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured board to about 1/3 inch thick.  Cut into squares.  Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees Farenheit 8-10 minutes.

You may sift over the still warm cookies a blend of powdered sugar and cinnamon. (I like this little addition to the basic recipe).

Anchovy Dip

Christmas Eve at our house was strictly no meat.  We'd basically have a dinner of nibble foods.  This always consisted of shrimp cocktail, a nice cheese plate, crab spread, fresh cut vegetables and dip.  My Mom used to make this dip for the fresh veggie plate.  I remember one couple, who were friends of my parents, would come to our house with their younger kids.  Once, the youngest girl was found to be dipping chocolates into this anchovy dip and loving every minute of it. I guess the sweet/salty mix appealed to her. I've never tried it that way!

1/2 a bunch of fresh parsley (about 1/2 a cup)
1/4 C. fresh chives
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 Tbsp. anchovy paste (3 or 4 anchovy filets, if you prefer)

Put all ingredients in a blender, and mix until smooth. 

Mystery Cake

This cake recipe is from a very old recipe card.  I'm not sure where it came from, as I don't recognize the handwriting.  So even THAT is a mystery. haha.   This recipe would be excellent to serve for a vegetarian/vegan treat.  There's  no mention of a frosting for this cake, but a simple, light dusting of powdered sugar is excellent.


2 Tbsp. shortening
1 C. sugar
1 can condensed tomato soup


2 C. flour (cake flour is what's on the card)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground clove
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder


1 C. raisins or chopped dates
1 C. nuts  (the type of nuts is not specified, but pecans or walnuts are yummy)

Cream together mixture #1. and set aside.  Sift together mixture #2, and add to mixture #1.  Blend thoroughly.  Sprinkly a little flour on mixture #3, to lightly coat.  Fold into batter. 

Pour into an 8" cake pan lined with greased waxed paper.  Bake at 375 degrees Farenheit for 40 to 45 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Party Cheese Ball

This is a great home made cheese ball that goes over like gangbusters.  During this holiday season, give this one a try.

8 oz cream cheese *
2 oz. bleu cheese *
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese spread (NOT Velveeta) *
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp minced onion
2 Tbsp minced pimiento stuffed green olives
1/2 C. chopped parsley
1/2 C. chopped pecans

* room temperature

Cut cheeses into small pieces.  Put into blender or food processor with Worcestershire, onion and olives.  Blend until smooth.  Mold into a ball, and roll in the parsley and pecans.  Chill for 2 or 3 hours before serving.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lingune with Butternut Squash

This is a recipe I sort of invented after having tried some butternut squash stuffed ravioli once upon a time.  This is way easier to make than ravioli!  And it's vegetarian (vegan if you leave off the cheese).  Some of the  measurements are approximate, since I really don't measure when I cook every day foods.

1 medium-sized butternut squash
1 lb lingune (1 lb uncooked)
1 onion, diced
2 to 4 Tbsp capers
fresh basil (if it's available)
approx. 1/4 C olive oil

Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds.  In a glass baking dish, place the squash skin-side up, and pour over boiling water to just come up about one inch up the side of the squash.  Place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for one hour.

Cook lingune according to package directions.  Try to time it so that the squash is done a few minutes before the linguine is done.  This will allow time once the squash is cooked to scoop out the squash into a large serving bowl. Add the onion and basil.

Once the linguine is cooked, drain and toss with the squash mix and then add all back to the linguine cooking pot.  Heat them together for a few minutes 'til it's all hot.  Put it all back to the serving bowl, and add olive oil and capers.  Serve with parmesan cheese.

This is a great main dish for 3 or 4 people, or a  nice side dish for 5 or 6.


Buttermilk Ranch dressing

I've always loved ranch dressing, but this is way better than the store-bought stuff. And super easy to make, too.

1 1/2 C. mayonnaise  OR sour cream  (Sour cream makes it a little more mild.
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried parsley  (you can use fresh parsley chopped fine)
1 1/2 C. buttermilk
Salt and Pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Let stand in the fridge a few hours before serving .

French Dressing

This comes from a newspaper clipping, and it was a mess.  I had to copy it into a notebook because it was just falling apart.  I remember my Mom making this dressing, so I know it's good.  You'll kiss the commercial stuff goodbye, once you try this.

1 can (10.5 oz) condensed tomato soup
2/3 C olive oil
2/3 C vinegar
7 Tbsp sugar
7 Tbsp dried onion *
2 Tbsp dried minced garlic *
1 1/2 tsp. salt

* less if using fresh

Place all ingredients in a blender 'til smooth and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Makes 3 cups.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Three Bean Salad

I'm  not sure if this was a recipe of my Mom's, or if I picked it up on my garage sale rounds in an old recipe box. But my Mom used to make a similar salad for summer picnics and family gatherings.  It's simple, tasty and goes over very well, even with kids.

1 can wax beans
1 can green beans
1 can kidney beans
1 C. chopped celery
1 C. diced green pepper
1/3 C vegetable oil or olive oil
1/3 C cider vinegar
1 C sugar
salt to taste

Rinse canned veggies.  Mix all in a large bowl, and let stand overnight.

Add 1 small onion diced fine, toss and serve.

Pot Roast with Veggies

So I don't end up making this all about baking, I want to share my Grandmother's recipe for pot roast. I can clearly remember my Mom telling me she spent 9 years of marriage figuring out how to make it, before she figured out "you need to burn it!".   In other words, slow roasted for 5 or 6 hours.

There's no real recipe to it, 'cause the every day foods never really had a recipe.  (The best cooks don't use recipes, and my Mom was one!)

Get a nice English cut pot roast about 2 or 3 inches thick. Place in a pyrex dish large enough to hold the roast with a couple inches all around to spare.  Cover with foil, and roast at 300 degrees farenheit for 5 or 6 hours.  You'll know it's done when it's just starting to fall apart.

Leaving the roast in the pan, remove the drippings (pour off, or spoon off) into a saucepan, and make a simple brown gravy by whisking in flour, salt and pepper and water until it's thick.  (keep the roast in the oven to keep it warm, and let it rest)  She never put veggies in with the roast. "It'll ruin the gravy", she'd say.

Serve with mashed potatoes and cut steamed green beans or cooked penny carrots.  Oh, and always have a salad with dinner!

Leftovers can make an excellent stew the next day.  Cut some potatoes up into 1" or so cubes, and boil 'til just barely tender, about 15 minutes. Put in a large saucepan with leftover pot roast cut up, and add some cut veggies and the leftover gravy.  Place on low-medium heat for about 30 minutes, or 'til everything's good and hot and the veggies are cooked.  The veggies my Mom used varied with the seasonal availabilty, but standards for stew were carrots, celery, onion and peas or green beans. 

My apologies to all my vegetarian friends, but Mom was not a vegetarian. LOL