Thursday, December 31, 2009

Crab-Stuffed Shrimp

A goodie I put together every New Year's Eve - crab-stuffed shrimp. I use a mixture of king crab, mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, crushed saltines, a clove of minced garlic, Parmesan cheese and a little melted butter.

Pastrami on Dark Rye

Pastrami on rye, with pastrami from Carnegie Deli. This is not your average water-added pastrami from a local deli counter, it's more like a rib-eye in texture. And Swiss cheese is perfect on a warm sandwich, as long as your Swiss cheese isn't green, like ours was - which meant American cheese was used, instead.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New York Cheesecake

A slice of cheesecake from our Carnegie Deli care package. It's more dense than cheesecake I've sampled here, it's less sweet, and it has a shortbread crust - instead of a graham cracker crumb crust.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ham Bone and Bean Soup

Like many families, we had a meaty ham bone leftover from Christmas dinner, and it was the base for this soup. I soaked great northern beans overnight, then added a chopped onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, the ham hone, 1 bay leaf, some celery salt, and enough water to cover it all in a large crockpot. I cooked on high for 6 hours, then removed the bone and scraped off any meat that hadn't already fallen off, and returned the meat to the soup. I cooked on low for another two hours, then scooped out about a cup of the beans and zipped them in the food processor and put them back in the soup to thicken it up. Shortly before serving, remove the bay leaf and season to taste. Add salt, white pepper, and this soup calls for something sweet. Maple syrup might be good, but I didn't have any, so I added some honey. A very filling soup. Maybe a fresh parsley garnish would be pretty. I served it with a fresh baquette.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Scrambled Perfection

I grew up learning to add a little milk to scrambled eggs, but one day I didn't have any milk, so I tore up a piece of American cheese and added that...and that's been my standard recipe for years. The American cheese helps keep the eggs from drying out.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chinese Food Favorite

We hit up our favorite Chinese food take-out this past week - Mandarin Palace. I know some foodies take issue with "American style" Chinese food like this and phooey on them. Mandarin Palace is at Orchard and Franklin. The owners are friends and neighbors of ours now, but when Mandarin Palace first became my favorite, I didn't know them personally.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cookies for Santa

Cookies for the big guy last night. I whipped up a powdered sugar, butter and heavy cream frosting for the treats.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs

We baked a few dozen sugar cookie cut-outs yesterday and we'll decorate these cookies for Santa...and mom, and dad, and the kid, and maybe some I really wish I had an awesome sugar cookie recipe to share, but mine isn't so awesome. I'll share it anyway.
2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups of flour
and 1/2 tsp of baking powder
Cream the butter and sugar, add the egg and vanilla, then flour and baking powder. I use my KitchenAid stand mixer for the whole process. Refrigerate the dough to firm it up, then roll out with a little flour. Bake at 350 degrees until barely brown at the edges.
Notice that there isn't much sugar in this sugar cookie recipe. Not much is needed since we're going to pile sugar and butter frosting on top of these cookies today. That will make them sweet enough!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Panko is Magic

Panko is the Japanese word for "bread crumbs," and traditional panko is a very fine and crunchy crumb. Here it is on deep-fried shrimp. The crumbs toast up golden in oil, and when baked dry in the oven. I prefer to use them instead of traditional bread crumbs when topping casseroles.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Is it a Pancake...or a Cookie?

A breakfast request from my 8-year old, who is really enjoying Christmas break. This is a chocolate chip pancake. Thank goodness she didn't think it needed syrup - that thought makes me shudder.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lucky Steak Day

What a lucky find! Rib-eyes with this perfect marbling in the bargain bin at Fred Meyer. These will grill up nicely.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cup Noodles - NOT a Lunch Recommendation, Just Nostalgia

My 8-year old daughter wanted to try these, after I told her it was a common lunch and dinner for me as a child. I couldn't find the "Cup Noodles," that I used to have as a kid, but this "Instant Lunch" is pretty much the same thing. These are the noodles with shrimp, which may sound healthy, but we all know they're devoid of nutrition. And of course, my daughter thought they were delicious!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chocolate Fountains Make Me Uncomfortable

For the finish at our neighborhood dinner, a chocolate fountain dessert table. At this same neighborhood dinner four years ago, my then-four year old stuck her fingers in a similar chocolate fountain display. that she's eight, I still didn't trust her. Although she didn't intentionally put her fingers in the fountain, she managed to run her hand under the stream of chocolate while coating the angel food cake. Then, she licked the skewer and ran it back under the chocolate. A fancy double-dip. Please forgive us neighbors!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Plethora of Pasta

Another look at the menu from our neighborhood holiday dinner - chicken-stuffed shells and manicotti. Gaylene Gabrinetti prepared both of these, and she claims it was easy because of the work was done the day before. Her manicotti was stuffed with sausage and lots of fresh herbs.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Turkey Leftover Genius

Another peek at the cuisine during our neighborhood dinner, and a genius use of turkey leftovers. Kathy Spinuzzi made turkey ravioli. I loved this! And it was perfectly topped with Parmesan shavings.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ice Cream Salad!

The most unique dish of the night during our neighborhood progressive dinner over the weekend: ice cream salad. This was served up by the owners of two Baskin Robbins locations, including the one on State Street if you want to stop by and say "hi," to the Farmer family. It was wonderful - kind of like a frozen vanilla cream fruit salad.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Parmesan Cheese Baked Potato Topper

I like to put Parmesan cheese on many things, and this is one of my favorites - a hot Idaho baker just out of the oven.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Sub-zero temperatures in Boise had me craving oatmeal. These are steel-cut oats, a very different animal from the Quaker quick-cooking oats, and much more filling. The water-to-oats ratio is higher for steel-cut oats than regular oats (3-to-1), and they take a little longer to cook. These warm oats were sprinkled with a little sugar and milk....and served up for dinner.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted acorn squash was a lunch for me one day this week. Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, sprinkle with a little salt, pepper, brown sugar and a pat of butter and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. I've heard that it's good pureed into a soup, too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mashed Potates - Family Style

I made a big batch of Idaho mashed potatoes this week. I use the russets and leave the skin on, but the real difference is the white stuff. Add some softened cream cheese to your mashed potatoes. The cream cheese brightens up the potatoes both in color and taste. It's a tradition from my dad, that I believe Martha Stewart stole a couple of years ago!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Homemade Gravy

A few days ago, I showed you this gravy-in-the-making when I roasted turkey thighs, onions, carrots and garlic. The pan drippings and ingredients were pushed through a sieve with the resulting "gravy base" refrigerated. I scraped the fat from the top and used it for this batch of gravy to with our late Thanksgiving turkey dinner this week. The base can also be frozen. For this gravy, whisk the base, flour, a little butter, a little white wine, and a dash of thyme over medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste after the gravy thickens. I like to make the gravy base ahead of time so I don't feel any gravy stress - because I've made some really awful gravy from turkey drippings while the bird is being carved. The make-ahead base also has a nice brown color.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cranberry Salsa

This colorful hopper quickly turned into cranberry salsa. One bag of fresh cranberries, about a 1/4 cup of sugar, two diced fresh jalapenos, a bunch of roughly chopped green onions, a minced clove of garlic, juice from one lime, some cilantro, and salt to taste. It's a wonderful combination of sweet, savory and spicy flavors!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


This is turkey gravy-in-the-making. A couple of turkey thighs, carrots, water, minced garlic and onion. Bake this for an hour or so and filter the liquid through a sieve, pressing the solids to get more juice. This will be the base for the turkey gravy. We're doing a late Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

A jumble of hash browns, eggs, bacon and cheese for the dinner plate last night. I wasn't inspired for dinner ideas, so I did breakfast instead. This weekend, we're doing a late Thanksgiving dinner. And, Monday, I'll show you a cranberry salsa that is a new favorite of mine!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dashboard Dining: Gumbo

Wednesday is grab-n-go dinner night when we're downtown for music lessons. Last night, it was gumbo and fresh bread on the dashboard. A perfect warming combo as it was 28 degrees outside.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coffee Grinder Static Conquered

I love my burr coffee grinder, but hate the static which causes the coffee grounds, chaff and dust to literally jump to any available surface in the kitchen, as well as the floor. And the static seems more aggressive in the dry winter indoor air. I have finally conquered the static! Look at this clean grind this morning. I just flicked a couple of drops of water into the hopper with the beans. I know after doing a lot of research on coffee grinder static that some people advise against this method, but it magically works.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

French Cuisine

Our French restaurant experience this week in the Washington D.C.-area. Mon Ami Gabi. This is scallops in brown butter with whipped cauliflower and garlic sauteed spinach. One of the best meals during our travels this week. I want to try to make a whipped cauliflower dish at home. Anyone have a recipe?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Two Turkeys

A tale of two turkeys for our Thanksgiving dinner in the D.C.-area this year. The deep-fried turkey was injected with Cajun butter seasoning. We also had a traditional turkey that was brined with seasoning, cider and orange juice and stuffed with cranberry and sausage dressing. Both were excellent!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Homemade Egg Salad Sandwich

I happened to have three hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator and experimented with a homemade egg salad sandwich. I was also able to use more of that lovely purple shallot I featured earlier this week. I'll be making this again, soon! Scoop out the yolks, mash them with a fork and add mayo and celery salt to taste. Chop up the whites and a little bit of shallot. Mix together, spread on toasted bread and add pepper to taste before topping the sandwich. Yum!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fish Tacos

I ordered this new menu offering at Red Robin and was pleasantly surprised. These fish tacos tasted suspiciously like my home-made ones. The only difference was that I sprinkle the shredded cabbage with lime and salt and let it sit for a few minutes before adding the mixture to the tacos. And, I bake the fish.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cooking Challenge: Purple Shallot

A purple shallot couple arrived in my organic box delivery. Using it in my kitchen was a first. I found lots of recipes for sauces featuring minced shallots, but I didn't make anything that fancy. I diced up the shallot and added it to rosemary red potatoes as they were roasting. This purple shallot added a strong, sweet flavor.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Artsy Shrimp Tempura

Shrimp tempura and the way it's presented makes kids happy. We hit up one of our regular eateries last night - Kyoto. The sushi was extra good, and sushi chef Vincent treated us to ice cream afterwards. I love that place.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cauliflower Favorite Side Dish

This cauliflower side dish trick is from my stepmother. Put a whole head of cauliflower covered with plastic wrap in the microwave for about six minutes, until al dente tender. Remove the wrap, lightly spread mayonnaise over the top and then layer with cheese. I used American. Cheddar is good, too. Microwave for another minute, slice into wedges and serve.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grab-n-Go Dinner Downtown Boise: Pollo Rey

Dinner "to go" last night in downtown Boise from Pollo Rey, a long-time fixture on 8th Street. I hadn't been inside for probably 10 years...and it looks exactly the same. The fire rotisserie spinning chickens behind the counter and meals freshly assembled. I ordered the roasted chicken burrito, which was loaded with juicy chicken, pinto beans, rice and salsa. It was served with tortilla chips and green salsa, which was my choice, regular salsa is also available. I'll try to visit again sooner than 10 years from now :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This Week's Organic Box Goodies

A peek inside our organic Brown Box delivery last night. There will be salad for dinner tonight, along with lightly cooked cauliflower. And in the upper right hand corner, I believe that's a purple shallot. What shall I do with that?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ham and Cheese Bagel Sandwich

Lunchtime at home - a ham and cheese bagel sandwich. A light spread of mayo on both bagel halves. Two slices of ham and one slice of medium cheddar for the bottom half. Put just the bottom half under the broiler until it's bubbly and warm, then put the top half under the broiler and watch it closely. The mayo will help it "toast," but can burn quickly. Wrap in a sandwich paper when serving, because sandwiches always taste better when they have that little wrap on them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vintage Popcorn Popper in Action

This "air popper" is 30 years old, at least? And it still works. My husband popped up the bowl of treats while my daughter was playing with a vintage Lite-Brite Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Golden Hash Browns

Golden hash browns with creamy centers. Simple, warm breakfast on a cold wintry day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Crab-Stuffed Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

Friday night: dinner at McGrath's Fish House. This is the crab-stuffed shrimp with lobster sauce with a side of seasonal vegetables. I liked it, although, my home-made crab-stuffed shrimp probably taste better, but I only do those once a year (New Year's), and I always appreciate food made by someone other than me! If you haven't been to a McGrath's, it's worth a try if you enjoy seafood. Nice decor and I love the music they play. Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra while we were there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Taste Test: Mini Cheesecakes

Bite-sized dessert last night, with these mini cheescakes. Schwan's gave these to me to taste test and...they were really good! And in my book, just the right size, too. Regular, raspberry swirl and turtle minis are the selection in the box. The directions said let them thaw in the refrigerator and DO NOT MICROWAVE. I broke that rule, and zapped them for 15 seconds and they were perfect.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Coffeehouse Grab-n-Go Dinner

Grabbed a quick dinner downtown last night. Because it was so dark and rainy and cold, I didn't venture beyond the Cultural District, where we go for lessons each week. This is dinner ala Tully's. A chicken Caesar spinach wrap, an Americano and the Boise Weekly to keep me company.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Homemade Lettuce Wraps

A week ago today, we had lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang's. Last night, I did a homemade version. The flavoring wasn't as strong as the restaurant version, but it was good! Basic ingredients: chopped chicken breast, chopped onion, shredded carrot, diced bell pepper, minced garlic - all sauteed until browned. Stir in water chestnuts and add oyster sauce and simmer. Serve with lettuce leaves, or, this was also good on a bed of jasmine rice. In the past, I've also spiffed up a peanut sauce as a side.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brownie Season

While I like to experiment with recipes and homemade challenges, I never make brownies from scratch. The boxed versions are just fine and a good deal considering the price of good cocoa these days. My only tip is to remove the brownies from the oven at least five minutes before the official end-of-cooking time, so they'll be soft and chewy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

A recipe that caught my eye last month in MS Living. They are a variation on a thumb print cookie, only in this recipe, the jam/preserves aren't baked with the cookie. Recipe below.
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 stick of butter
1/3 c packed light-brown sugar
1/3 c of regular sugar - and put about a 1/4 c on a plate for rolling the cookies
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 jam (I used raspberry)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat peanut butter and butter on low speed. Add sugars, beat until pale and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake about 10 minutes - cookies will be puffy. Remove from oven and make indentations with the handle end of a wooden spoon. (This indentation will grow a bit larger while the cookies finish baking) Put cookies back in oven for about 6 minutes, until edges are golden. Cool on wire racks. Heat jam in the microwave for a few seconds until it loosens up. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon into each indentation.