Sunday, May 30, 2010

The sun came out yesterday afternoon. And minutes later we were sprawled in our patio chairs with happy smiles soaking up the warmth. Ahhhhh what an unexpected pleasure.
We got our veggie garden planted as well as flowers snugged into deck pots.Tomorrow my husband will spread gravel around our raised garden beds and all will be done!
We enjoyed those burgers last night, they were juicy and flavorful tucked between grilled sour dough bread for a nice little crunch. What is not to like?

So for tonight's fare we are grilling bone in rib eye steaks and I making a green salad with my Mom's Thousand Island dressing. That is all we need as the steaks are quite good size. We usually do not eat the whole steak when they are this large, so I slice what is left to top a salad the next day for lunch.

So here is my way of doing grilled steak.
There are many steaks rubs on the market I make my own and the recipe will follow.
Put steak rub of your choice on both sides of the steak and rub in good. Leave steaks sit at room temperature for a half hour after the rub is applied.
After your grill is hot and oiled put on the steaks. Do not turn steaks until there are well defined grill marks on the down side.
We like our steaks med- rare so from the time I turn them I then time them for about five minutes depending on the thickness of the steak. Only turn the steaks once, do not cut or poke with a fork as the juice will release from the steak. When the steak is grilled to perfection remove to a platter and put a small pat of butter on each steak and cover tightly with foil. Let the steaks stand for ten minutes. They will not get cold and the resting time is so very important. You do not want all that steak juice running out on your plate when you cut into your steak, you want it running down your chin instead!
Serve with your favorite steak sauce or nothing at all.

My steak rub(works well for pork and chicken as well)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano or you can use Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon black ground pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Makes a 1/2 cup enough for about 8 thick steaks.
Store in clean jar with lid.

Mom's Cafe' Thousand Island dressing.
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup chili sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced sweet pickles
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 drops Tabasco or hot sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all together

So that is what we are dining on tonight. We do not have steak that often so it is a treat when we do have it.
So my steak tips are:
Do not over cook your steak ever
Let the steak sit for ten minutes before digging in
Make sure your grill is hot
Do not poke, cut, puncture your steak in any manner
Only turn a steak once
That pat of butter over the top while the steak is resting is worth every calorie.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

It is another gloomy, gray cool day in Eugene Or.
The local paper this morning reported it has been one of the wettest gray May's in history. Everyone is feeling cheated out of spring we are still in winter mode. This was suppose to be our nice day!

It was nice to have a reprieve from cooking last night. Tonight we are having easy fare. Grilled cheese burgers, with baked beans and home fries. We will grill in the gray late afternoon unless the sun makes an appearance. I think I shall dance if that happens.

I am sure most everyone knows how to make and build a great burger so I will not actually do a recipe for one as there are millions. What I will do is offer some little hints on what makes a great burger.

First of all you want fat in your burger. I usually get the 15%fat. This makes for a juicier burger and the fat dripping from the meat add good smoke and char flavor.
Handle your meat as little as possible that will keep the burger from being tough. When you have your patty made make a thumb print indentation in the middle. The burger will not round up on top that way.
My guy likes minced garlic in his meat so that is what we do along with salt and pepper.
When you put your burgers on your hot grill do not turn until you have grill marks then flip. Try to avoid turning them as much as possible. Never poke, cut or flatten your burgers, they will lose their juice and will become tough and dry. For some reason men have a hard time with not messing with the meat when it is on the grill. Make them keep their hands in their apron pockets!
We prefer to put our burgers on sour dough bread which has been drizzled with olive and grilled along side the burgers. I usually add the bread about the same time as I put the cheese on the burgers.
We always have some sort of cheese and tonight we are having white American cheese from the deli. Munster is one or our faves as it melts so nicely. We have also used Gorgonzola and blue cheese as stuffing in the burger. Just make two thin burgers put the cheese in the middle of the two and crimp the edges to seal the cheese in.
Tonight we will have special sauce(mayo, ketchup,horseradish mixed together.) Mustard will be offered and we will load the cheese burgers with lettuce,tomatoes,sweet onion slices and my home made sweet dills.

Home fries are nothing more than making potato wedges or rounds. Put them in a bowl and drizzle some olive oil over them then salt and pepper. Mix with your hands and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 425 degrees for about forty minutes or so till tender. I turn them over half through the cooking time.

I am not making beans from scratch this evening as hubby loves the Bush Grilling beans. I am not a big baked bean person so that works for me.

We will work in the garden this afternoon and I will also plant some flowers in pots. I bought a nice variety of colorful plants yesterday at the farms. The deck will look summery it will be an illusion.

Enjoy your day and maybe where you are the sun is shinning.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tonight is Italian fare. Very simple, healthy tasty Italian fare.
I am making Spaghetti Aglio e olio which is, spaghetti with olive oil and garlic. However I am adding sauteed shrimp ,zucchini and sliced peppers and tomatoes.

1 lb of spaghetti noodles cooked al dente and drained
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley minced
black pepper to taste
1/4 cup pecorino or Parmesan cheese shredded
1/2 lb medium shrimp peeled and deveined with tails removed
1/2 medium size zucchini cut length wise then sliced into pieces
2 Roma tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup mixed red and yellow bell peppers sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Bring a pot of water to boil for your spaghetti noodles
In frying pan add the butter and when melted add the shrimp sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper cook the shrimp over med high heat till curled and done about three minutes or so.
Remove the shrimp from the pan and add to the drippings the zucchini and peppers. Meanwhile heat the olive oil, garlic, parsley and black pepper in a small sauce pan on med heat. No need to boil this just heat through to meld the flavors. While your spaghetti is cooking add the shrimp back to the skillet along with the tomatoes when your peppers are tender. Drain your spaghetti and transfer into a large pasta bowl. Add the peppers, tomatoes and shrimp to the pasta and pour in the olive oil mixture and mix well. Serve up on plates or in bowls and sprinkle with the pecorino or Parmesan cheese.
All that is needed is a wonderful crusty bread to complete the meal.

You can add your idea's to this recipe as I often do depending on what you have in your frig. I have used mushrooms instead of the peppers, toss in some olives, perhaps some asparagus. So just experiment , grab a fork and enjoy.

We are going out to dinner tomorrow night so there will be no blog. I do get a break occasionally which is lovely.

Breaking news, looks as if we may wind up with a decent weekend after all.
Now they are calling for sun and clouds and seventy....what a pleasure that would be to enjoy the deck again. This morning the rain was hard rain like in winter. It seems a little warmer though or that may be wishful thinking on my part.

I see several of our neighbors are getting ready to depart in their Rv's. They are brave souls! Many times in this Pacific northwest area Memorial weekend has unleashed it's fury. It is not fun spending your camping weekend under blowing, dripping traps or trapped inside your RV.
Wherever you are going or whatever you are doing have a fun Memorial weekend.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Well I do not have much to write about today as I am not making dinner tonight. I am taking a night off, well not totally. We are having a frozen pizza which I will toss on a few more ingredients to our liking.

It was just raining torrents a while ago. I do not know how the little vilola's I have in my cedar barrel stand up to that pounding. Their little faces get droopy but when the rain stops they are smiling again.

Today am doing the weekly grocery shopping. I put my menu together this morning. So there will be some fun things happening in my kitchen this week. We are certainly holding out hope that we can grill steaks this weekend at some point. We are to have sun breaks so that is encouraging. I will share a good steak rub with you then and my grilling technique which is all about timing and not messing with your steak while it is on the grill.

I will be back tomorrow with a recipe of my own that has shrimp,veggies and spaghetti noodles, in a olio sauce. Which basically is olive oil, garlic and fresh parsley. Then you serve with lots of fresh grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Very simple, satisfying and healthy.

Till then, Zo

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Good morning,
I had a great visit with my brother yesterday on the phone. He lives in Washington state with a view of the mighty Columbia river that divides Oregon and Washington. Actually where he lives is almost directly across the river from where we lived on the Oregon side all those years ago on the farm. If my brother drives down the road a tad he can see the roof of our old barn that still stands. He is waiting for spring to come also. He has been trying to get to a special lake that he enjoys so much. It is on the way to Mt. St. Helen's, you know the volcano that blew it's top in 1980? When you are out on the lake you can see Mt. St. Helen's looming with it's shattered top and also Mt. Rainer posing in the distance. My husband and I are going camping at that lake with my brother in the early fall. I will be doing the cooking of course and I look so forward to the preparation of good simple food enjoyed outdoors.
At night we will fall asleep under a blanket of glittering stars listening to the gossip of frogs and crickets.

Well onto tonight's dinner in Zo's kitchen. We are having salmon cakes. I really call this my 'go to' fish cake recipe as I use it for fresh seafood as well as canned fish. Tonight it is canned Alaska pink salmon that I am using.
Zo's Fish Cakes:
1 15oz. can of salmon skin removed and boned.
1/4 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced onion
one half Anaheim pepper seeded and minced
four basil leaves minced or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon horseradish
approximately 2 tablespoons bread plain crumbs or enough to hold the mixture together.
1 cup of panko crumbs
canola oil for frying
lemon wedges

Mix all the ingredients except the panko crumbs in a bowl.
Put the panko crumbs in a flat bottomed bowl and set aside.
Scoop up the mixture with a serving spoon and with your hands mound a patty onto the spoon.
Gently drop the mound of mixture into the panko crumbs and pat until it is covered all over with panko, be delicate. Set aside on a plate that has been lined with wax paper and continue making the patties. When all are made put in the refrigerator for at least a hour to chill.
Heat the oil in a flat bottom skillet and when the tip of a wooden sizzles when dipped into the oil it is perfect. Gently pick up the patty with a spatula and spoon to help ease it into the oil continue on with all of the patties. You can only turn these once so make sure they are well browned before turning them. Being careful turning them or they will fall apart. I use the spatula and spoon again. Once you get on to it, it is easy.
Remove to a parchment paper lined plate when both sides are browned and crisp. I prefer parchment instead of a paper towel as the parchment paper does not limp the patty in any way but yet it does absorb any excessive oil.
These are wonderful served with a simple aoli sauce or if you like a bit of heat with a firecracker sauce. Serve lemon wedges along side.

Easy Aloi sauce.
1/3 cup mayo
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
Mix all together.

Firecracker sauce(hubby's favorite)
1/3 cup mayo
1 tablespoon chili paste(I like Sambal Oelek) this can be found in the asian food isle of your grocery store.
1 teaspoon horseradish
salt and pepper to taste

I like to serve the fish cakes with my Mothers's coleslaw and her coleslaw dressing. I am always asked to take this coleslaw whenever I go to a gathering.

Marta's coleslaw and dressing
Shred a small head of cabbage or if you prefer use bagged coleslaw mix
Shred two carrots
Shred 1/3 cup onion

1 cup mayo
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon celery seed
salt and pepper to taste.
Mix all together and pour over coleslaw and mix well.
Sprinkle a little paprika and minced fresh parsley if you have it on hand over the top
Now I do have a disclaimer of sorts. I always just plop these dressing ingredients into a bowl and do not measure. So I hope these are the right ratio's. What you should do is taste, and if it is to sweet add a little more vinegar if to tangy add more sugar. You will get used to what you prefer and you can always extend it by adding more mayo. It is a good simple dressing that is creamy and tangy.

Well my morning is slip sliding away. I still need to walk it is misting outdoors right now. I will not get wet just damp. Spring, oh spring please come.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another day in a rain sopped paradise. Oh yeah!
A good night for chili served over big bakers.
This is without a thought the best chili recipe I have ever created and believe me I have made dozens chili recipes over the years.

So without a lot of to do today(as I have a really busy day) here is the recipe.

My Best Chili recipe ever.
1 small sirloin steak cut bite size pieces
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 Anaheim pepper seeded and chopped
canola oil to drizzle in bottom of cooking pot
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder( or make it as hot as like)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large can of diced tomatoes in tomato juice(Walmart has this)
a healthy squirt from the ketchup bottle
1 14 0z can of Bush Beans brand chili beans
1 14 0z. can of pinto beans in chili sauce
1 14oz. can of dark red kidney beans rinsed
a tad of water

Brown steak bites in oil with garlic, onion and Anaheim pepper
cook until the meat is browned. Do not have heat to high as to burn the garlic.
Add the large can of tomatoes in tomato juice and the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer at least a half hour to meld the flavors

Now tonight we will serve this chili over large bakers. I split the potatoes open load in the chili, then top with a shredded cheese a dollop of sour cream and sliced scallions. Then we always sprinkle with our favorite hot sauce.

I also like to make chili muffin bowls with the recipe. Just drop a corn muffin in the bottom of a deep individual bowl and ladle the chili over, then top the same way as the potato.

When I make corn muffins I cheat and do this little trick. I just use the jiffy corn muffin mix small box for the two of us. I cut down on the milk and add a dollop cottage cheese in it's place and also add a tad of grated cheddar cheese. There is something about the texture that the cottage cheese adds that I love and the muffins are so tender and moist not like you regular dry cornbread.

Well I have a easy meal for dinner tonight. That is so good as today is not easy! So I best get on my long list of to-do's.
Have a good Monday.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday today and I do not do much on Sundays. After all it takes me a quarter of the day to read the paper. It was so pretty out early this morning but now back to more of the same.

Our dinner last night was enjoyable. We ate casually, too casually really at the square cocktail table on the sofa's. Yes we have two sofa's instead of the usual sofa, love seat combo. I like to sprawl out as well as my hubby. I had been in the kitchen most of the afternoon cooking away so the the sofa was calling my name. You should have seen my black chefs apron after making the pie crust, not a pretty sight believe me.

My husband is working today, he usually does on weekends. So once again I have the house to myself.
I finished a novel this afternoon. I usually do not read this type of suspense/mystery book but it was pretty good. For the better part of my life I never read anything but non-fiction. I have branched out though and have some favorite fiction writers. I have a book waiting for me now to read by Anne Tyler. Now that gal can create characters. She really comes up with quaint personalities and believe me you get right into their heads.

I am not making dinner tonight so I do not have much to chat about. The
little casserole leftover from last night is enough for this evening. I did make some black beans with corn and peppers last night as well. So we will have that and a small salad again. Have not tried the pie cake as yet as we were not in the mood for for desert last night. I must say I had my share of the little jam tarts though. Yummy.

I must depart now and go for my walk as the weather is breaking for a bit it seems, I see a patch of blue sky.

I hope your Sunday is going well.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

We woke to rain, then it showered, then it rained and now the sun is shinning. However there is a front of low gun metal gray clouds rolling in from the west. So the showers will be here before you know it.
So I decided as I had to stay in today to make it count. I have a roasting chicken in the oven now to use in my chicken tortilla casserole this evening. I will serve that with a simple green salad and dressing. I am also going to make what is called a lemon pie cake. I know that sounds odd but it is a wonderful little creation that I found years ago in an old Gold Medal Flour cooking booklet. It is real lemony and like pie at the bottom and on top is a little cake, so it is almost like a pudding cake except that it is baked in a pie crust. I top it off with whipping cream not that it needs it. I will take my left over pastry dough and make little tarts filling them with some mixed berry freezer jam I made this past summer.

Well I must have been scattered when I grocery shopped this past week as I forgot a couple of important staples. So back to the store this morning and then I find myself tossing in this and tossing in that. I am so out of my element without my trusty list. I only needed a few little things and the cart is half full. Why did I need a cart when a basket would have been perfect? This is truly so unlike me, my planets must be out of alignment!

I do not know when my husband will get home this evening so the casserole is a good choice. I can have it ready to pop into the oven and we will be eating in less than a hour.

Recipe follows: This recipe is for two. So it goes into a 7x10 casserole dish. If you want to use a 9x13 pan just double the recipe.
2 cups shredded chicken
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whipping cream
6 corn tortilla's cut into 1/4 inch wide strips
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup scallions sliced
three quarters of a jar of salsa verde

Place half of the chicken in your casserole dish
spread with half of the salsa verde
Mix the sour cream and whipping cream together and spread half of that mixture over the salsa
top with half of the tortilla strips and half of the cheddar cheese
Repeat layers. Sprinkle the top with sliced scallions
Cover casserole with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Remove the foil and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese put back in the oven uncovered and bake till cheese is bubbly about 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for ten minutes.

This recipe was derived from another recipe. This is a fave of my husbands and is very moist and creamy and with lots of flavor. Another thing you can always do if you like heat is add some pickled jalapenos on the cheese layers. Another little trick I like is when you add the Parmesan cheese add a few corn chips kind of pushed into the top but sticking out a bit. They give you a good crunchy bite.
This casserole is also tasty served with a black bean, corn, pepper tex- mex type salad.
This recipe is so simple and fun to make.

Well the chicken is done so I had best get started on my pie cake.
The rain is once again upon and it is so dark for two-thirty in the afternoon. Cozy though.
Have a nice Saturday.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gray and gloomy day so it is soup day!
I decided this morning the minute I looked outdoors that we would have soup tonight with cheese bread. 50 degrees today are you kidding me? Well as they say, it is what it is.
I am out and about with a friend for a little while this afternoon which is good as I have a bit of cabin fever.

So tonight is my take on Olive Gardens potato, sausage soup.

Zo's spud and sausage soup with spinach.
olive oil for drizzling in cooking pot
1/3 of a pound of ground italian mild sausage
1/2 cup sliced celery
2 cloves of garlic smashed or minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
5 medium size potatoes peeled and sliced(not to thin)
1 can chicken broth low sodium
1 cup canned milk or half and half
water to cover potatoes
3 cups of bagged spinach
salt, pepper,basil,italian seasonings to taste.
grated Parmesan,Asiago or Roman cheese

Grab a heavy bottomed soup pot, drizzle once around the pan with olive oil and toss in the sausage and break up with a wooden spoon.
add the seasonings, onion and celery to the meat, cook all over med heat until the meat is done.
Add in the chicken broth and deglaze the pan add the potatoes and water needed to just cover potatoes. Cook med low heat until potatoes are for tender. Add in the milk and heat and then toss in the spinach it will look like a lot but it really shrinks.
Heat till spinach is wilted and warmed. Ladle into deep bowls and grate the cheese over the soup. If you want your soup thicker you can always add a little cornstrach mixed with a little water, or if you want it thinner add a little more milk.
Serve with a crusty bread with garlic butter or cheese bread is good.

Simple cheese bread with a kick.
salsa bravo
cheddar cheese
Slice sourdough or sourdough italian bread into medium size slices. spread with salsa bravo(available in the mexican food isle of your grocery store) grate cheddar cheese and place atop the salsa bravo on the slices, put under the broiler on a baking sheet till the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown on the edges. Remove from oven and scatter scallions over the tops of the bread.

Well I need to dress warmly for my outing. After all is only the third week of May. Well at least we do not have baseball size hail like Oklahoma had.
All you Willamette valley folks stay warm and dry and make a pot of soup!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The storm
Well we made it through the storm last night. Is this truly May or still March? The wind battered the house like we were at the coast. Well the coast is only an hours drive but still...........we are inland.

Hubby got home yesterday early so we had a window of time to have fun which we usually do as it is important to us. It recharges our batteries.

We played some golf on the Wii as I said before it is so addicting. We are getting quite good. A professional status lol. We shared some wine and played a couple other of games and had left over spaghetti, salad and bread. We love left over pasta. I never combine the sauce with the pasta when I know we are having it the next night. Last night to heat the noodles I relied on my own trick of tossing the spaghetti noodles into a frying pan and adding just a tad of water. They will loosen up immediately and as quickly as they are warmed remove them , sauce them and eat. They are as good as the first night.

Tonight in our kitchen I will making Chicken Tenders with Spinach salad with hot bacon dressing and roasted potato wedges.
Recipes follow.
Xtra crispy chicken tenders.
Thaw as many chicken tenders as needed for your family and make your breading mixes accordingly. I usually have to add to mine as I go along.
In shallow bowls start with the first bowl and put in flour, 2nd bowl will be two eggs whipped with a little water. 3rd bowl will be a combo of one third Krusteaz baking and frying mix(blue box) and two thirds panko crumbs.
Blot your chicken tenders with a paper towel and salt and pepper both sides.
Dip them into the flour mixture, then egg mixture, then the panko combo. Line a plate with wax paper to set your prepared tenders on. Continue till all the tenders are coated.
Use enough canola oil to cover the bottom of a heavy deep skillet or pot.I like about a inch and half or so of oil.
Heat oil when the tip of a wooden spoon sizzles when dunked into the oil the oil is ready for frying.
Put as many tenders as you can in the pan without crowding. Brown one side then turn and brown the other. Remove from the pan onto parchment paper or paper towels and cover lightly with foil. Fry the next batch. Do not turn the heat down unless of course your stove top is really hot and they are browning to quickly or getting to dark. Then just drop to the next setting down.
That is it. If you want to cut down on the fat, you can put the coated tenders on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and drizzle with either olive or canola oil. Bake at 425 about forty minutes till done. You will want to turn them over about half way through and drizzle again with oil.

Spinach salad with hot bacon dressing.
one half bag cleaned spinach
four bacon strips diced
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cornstrach
1/3 cup cold water
2 eggs hard boiled and peeled and chopped

Put the spinach in a very large flat bowl like a pasta serving bowl and set aside.
Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.
To the pan drippings add the onion and saute until tender. Stir in the brown sugar,vinegar,salt, mustard, celery seed and pepper. Combine the corn strach and water until smooth stir into the skillet. Bring to boil and simmer and stir until thickened about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the spinach in the serving bowl and mix well, sprinkle the chopped bacon and chopped hard boiled eggs over the top.
This is one the best salads I have ever eaten. It was a basic recipe found in a old magazine that I put my own twist on.

Oven roasted potato wedges.
Heat oven to 400 degrees
Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
Peel and medium dice russet potatoes or you can use red potatoes and leave the peel on. You want enough potatoes to cover the bottom of the baking pan.
Throw into a bowl when all are diced drizzle with olive oil and mix up with your hands, add your choice of spices. We like kosher salt and pepper with a sprinkle or so of garlic powder. Other good choices are cajun or creole seasonings or Parmesan cheese with salt and pepper. Just experiment and find what you like. Mix again with your hands after the potatoes have been seasoned and lay them in a single layer on your baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees till done about 45 minutes. Check them about half way through baking time and when browned on the bottom turn once and finish baking.

Now you can just add a dipping sauce of your choice for the tenders and potatoes wedges and you are set. We like the old stand by, you know mayo, chili sauce and a little worcestershire . If you like heat add chili paste instead of chili sauce or a little dab of hot horseradish is good for a little bite also.

Well I know we are looking forward to dinner. I love those crispy little things and the salad is just so satisfying. The spinach makes such a nice contrast to the crunchy bacon and tangy dressing.

I hear the wind once again outdoors as I am writing. I just went to look out the window or I should say tried to look out the window as it is blurred by the slashing rain. I am wondering will we ever get our garden in?

I hope wherever you are that your day is lovely, maybe sunny and warm. Maybe it is May 20th somewhere.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Well it has been a while since I blogged last. First of all our computer went into a coma or had a stroke or something and passed away. Then we went on a vacation from hell. Seriously I would have rather eaten worms! So now we are back and all is well in our little world again in Eugene Oregon.

We or I should the husband made new raised beds this weekend for our veggie garden. However till we get them loaded with plants they are the grandest littler boxes in the neighborhood bar none!.
It has been damp and showery the last couple of days. Not the best for planting tomatoes. We just do some staples that we love as the farms are not far from our door step. It is nice to have herbs that you enjoy a squash plant or two of your choosing, cukes, scallions, chives and hot peppers as well as the tomatoes.

Tonight we are going simple as I am tired. So spaghetti it is. And it is simple to make as I cheat a bit.
Drizzle some olive oil in a heavy pot and saute some chopped onion, and garlic about three cloves, be careful not to burn the garlic. When the onions are translucent I pour in a can of four cheese pasta sauce. Yes the store bought cheap kind. Horrors!! Then add small pitted black or green olives, sliced red, yellow or green peppers or a mixture of.
A big splash of red wine a little Italian seasoning and black pepper. Put the lid on and let simmer for a hour or so till the sauce thickens.
Meantime make a green salad and your home made croutons.
Croutons are so easy to make and you will never buy rancid store bought ones again after making your own.
Take your stale or left over ends and pieces of bread. Cut them into small squares and throw into a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and put whatever seasoning on them you prefer. Good choices are Parmesan cheese, garlic power, onion powder, Italian seasonings, or if you like spicy try some Tony's creole seasoning or Cajun seasoning. Just experiment. Then spread out on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment and bake for about fifteen minutes at 325 degrees or to the desired crunchiness you like them.
I make all my salad dressings and have my Mom's faves that she served up in her little cafe' years ago.
I will include the recipe for her blue cheese as that is what we are having tonight.
Some artisan bread heated in a hot 425 degree oven for about twelve minutes and then buttered with garlic butter or chive butter or just plain butter and you are set.
Recipes follow.

Easy cheaters Spaghetti sauce:
olive oil to coat bottom of pan
1/2 cup of chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 26 oz can of Hunts four cheese pasta sauce
1/2 half can of small pitted olives green or black
1 cup sliced bell pepper, red, green or yellow or a mixture
you can also add some fresh mushrooms if you are fungi person
one healthy splash of red wine
Italian seasoning about a tablespoon
pepper to taste.

My Mom's cafe' Blue cheese dressing:
2 large cloves of garlic minced or crushed
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
black pepper and salt to taste.
Mix all with a whip so you still have chunks of blue cheese.

With the Italian fare I will plate on my white dishes with red and white plaid napkins. We will just serve up at the bar and eat where we are comfy. Hubby is having a long hard day today.

The gray seems to have lifted and it is a little brighter out there but believe me I have seen the forecast this week and it is quite ugly. Where is spring............please come.

Till tomorrow, whatever you are cooking tonight, enjoy the process.