Thursday, February 28, 2008


Dani over at The Average Cook tagged me for a meme. It's been awhile since I've done something like this. This is a 5 Random Things About Me meme so here goes...

1. I hate hot dogs. I try to like them, but I just don't. Every once in awhile I try a bite of SP's hoping maybe my tastes have changed, but alas.

2. I used to be a picky eater. I'm sure this isn't shocking considering most kids were picky eaters at some point, but it pains me to remember how I used to hate tomatoes. Now I can't get enough of them, but there was a time when I didn't. I credit my parents for always making me try at least a bite of something before deciding I wouldn't eat it.

3. I can't wink. I've just never been able to get the hang out of it for some reason.

4. I'm an avid reader. These days I don't have as much time to read, but I always try to read the daily newspaper before going to bed. I also read certain sections of the Sunday NY Times throughout the week while I'm getting ready for work or before bed if I have some extra time. Because I have minor OCD, I read the same 5 sections in the same order every week - magazine, Week in Review, Real Estate, New Jersey, and Style. I never deviate from this order. Don't ask me how I came up with that order in the first place, but now that's how it has to be done.

5. I would give anything to go back to England, even for a 2-week vacation. It pains me every day that we didn't go there on our honeymoon, back before the dollar tanked. Now we have to wait who knows how long to go back since we can't see spending double the vacation because of the pound vs. dollar exchange rate.

Thanks for tagging me, Dani! Now it's my turn to pass along the fun. I'm going to tag:

Melissa at Alosha's Kitchen
Katie at A Byootaful Life
Leica at Le fang, le kwatsa
Jessy at Messy Jessy's Musings

and one of my newest readers/commenters:
Priscilla at Priscilla Bakes

Enjoy ladies!
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Roasted Tilapia, Asparagus and Potatoes

Another fish meal, quite reminiscent of last week's meal:

I'm really loving this whole roasting thing I've been doing lately. Saves on pots and pans and doesn't involve me standing over the stove. Throw everything in the oven and walk away. And since everything cooks at the same temperature, it's just a matter of timing everything so it comes together.

Since the potatoes take the longest to cook I put them in the 400 degree oven first. I cut the potatoes into large pieces, tossed them with oil, salt and pepper, and let the oven do all the work. SP said the potatoes were perfect.

I seasoned the fish with salt and pepper and put it in the oven 10 minutes before the potatoes were done. It was perfectly flaky and moist, especially topped with a little lemon juice and some parsley and caper butter. The asparagus, seasoned with oil, salt and pepper, roasted alongside the fish, also for 10 minutes. Simple, tasty, healthy and yummy.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spicy Chicken, Cheesy Orzo and Roasted Green Beans

This is one of those meals that looks fantastic on the plate (just look at all those pretty colors!) but the flavors just weren't there. To be fair, I took this recipe and completely butchered it in an attempt to make it using ingredients we had on hand.

Our first complaint was that the main dish wasn't spicy at all. The original recipe calls for shrimp and chorizo - I used only chicken. I'm sure the chorizo would have added some much-needed spice and overall flavor. It ended up being very mild, almost bland, and too watery:

I figured the cheesy orzo would be a winner, but unfortunately it didn't turn out the way I'd hoped. For starters, the name is cheesy orzo but the recipe didn't actually say to add the cheese to the orzo. I figured that's where it went because of the name, but I didn't feel like buying manchego cheese so I subbed plain old cheddar. It was fine, but it didn't wow either of us:

The roasted green beans were really the highlight of the meal. Like all roasted veggies, this couldn't have been simpler - just trim the beans and toss them with oil, salt and pepper and roast them at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes:

All in all this was not a winner, but I can't really blame the recipe since I made so many changes.
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Pork Chops and Mashed Cauliflower

This was Monday's dinner - breaded pork chops and mashed cauliflower:

It doesn't look like much on the plate, but it was really tasty and easy to prepare (a huge plus since we had to run to the supermarket after we finished eating). I was going to do my pork chops the way I always do, but then I remembered I was out of eggs. I had to improvise, so I pounded the chops, seasoned them with salt and pepper on both sides and then spread them with a very thin layer of mayo before coating them with breadcrumbs. This made them taste slightly richer, but mayo is mostly eggs anyway so this worked out rather well.

For the cauliflower I cut the head into small pieces and boiled it in salted water with a few cloves of crushed garlic for about 15 minutes. Once the cauliflower was nice and tender it went into the food processor with a tablespoon of cream cheese, a splash of milk, 2 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper. I pureed it until it was nice and smooth and adjusted the seasonings. It was smooth and creamy with just the right amount of garlic flavor to make it interesting. I think this is a great way to eat cauliflower.
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Monday, February 25, 2008

Pasta Puttanesca

Sunday was a strange day and we hadn't really planned anything for dinner, but we had capers and anchovies leftover from two meals earlier this week so I thought Pasta Puttanesca sounded like a great way to use up the ingredients. A quick trip to the store for black and green olives was all we needed to put this meal together.

SP has never been a huge fan of puttanesca, but he liked this version because the olives I bought weren't overpowering. They really blended well with the other ingredients, adding a nice sharp, salty bite. Between the anchovies, capers, olives and red pepper flakes, this was a meal that really packed a flavor punch. What I really like, besides the flavor, is that the meal is so simple to make. All it takes is some time to prep the minimal ingredients since the sauce comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta. I used penne rigatte since that's what we had on hand, but spaghetti would also work well.
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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pizza Friday

Another Friday, another pizza. We had a few leftover mushrooms and black olives and I bought a new stick of pepperoni at the store this week so they all made appearances as toppings:

Even after 18 months of making pizza once a week I'm still learning and perfecting the method. We had some leftover tomatoes that I used to make the sauce, but after it reduced there wasn't much to spread on the pizza. Surprisingly, it turned out that less was more.

I put down a layer of cheese first, then dabbed the sauce around, added the toppings and finished with more cheese. I also baked the pizza longer than usual and the crust was even crispier and held up better. But the real triumph was that the pizza wasn't soggy because of too much sauce. Despite the small amount I put on the pizza, you could really taste the tomato flavor.
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Cod Fillets with Caper Butter

In the final installment (at least for now) of our foray into the March 2008 issue of Everyday Food, we have Cod Fillets with Caper Butter:

Of course these are actually tilapia fillets, but the method is the same. This was an incredibly easy meal to prepare. When I got home I scrubbed two baking potatoes, dried them thoroughly, rubbed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and put them in a 400-degree oven to cook for an hour. While they were working I trimmed the asparagus and tossed that with more olive oil, salt and pepper and laid them out on a baking sheet. They went into the oven 10 minutes before the potatoes were done.

As for the fish, all that I had to do was line a baking sheet with foil and lay the fillets down, seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper. They went into the oven at the same time as the asparagus. The fish was served with a caper butter, which was softened butter mixed with 1 tablespoon finely chopped capers, 2 tablespoons minced parsley, salt and pepper. I cut up some lemon to squeeze over the fish once it was cooked and dinner was served. Quick, easy, and delicious.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fresh Angel-Hair Pasta with Bacon and Peas

Tonight's meal also came from the March 2008 issue of Everyday Food. I'm still in awe over how easy this one was to make. Fresh Angel-Hair Pasta with Bacon and Peas has just 6 ingredients (one of which is salt and pepper, which I don't consider an ingredient) yet it made a fantastic, satisfying, simple meal.

The recipe says this is their take on spaghetti carbonara, but being the carbonara aficionado that I am, I don't see how this is anything like that dish. That doesn't mean it wasn't fantastic, though. I love meals I can make with ingredients I always have on hand (pasta, bacon, frozen peas, half-and-half) that takes less than 30 minutes to put together, including prep time. I subbed one pound of dry spaghetti for the fresh angel hair, but that's the only change I made.
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Chicken Caesar Salad with Hard-Cooked Eggs

Whenever I get a new issue of one of my cooking magazines in the mail I spend a few days going through it and marking which recipes I want to try. Sometimes I never get around to making any of them, so this month I decided to make a concerted effort to cook from each of the magazines I subscribe to. This week is all about the March 2008 issue of Everyday Food. I wrote down a few recipes and asked SP to pick which ones he wanted for dinner this week. His first choice was Caesar Salad with Hard-Cooked Eggs, but he asked that I add some chicken to make it more substantial.

This was a very easy, very tasty salad. I especially loved the dressing, which was easy to make in the food processor and tasted worlds better then the bottled stuff. I baked the chicken on a baking sheet in the oven (set at 350 degrees) for 30 minutes. For the last 15 I added the bread slices to make the croutons. While the chicken and bread baked the hardboiled eggs were working on the stove. The rest of the meal was just chopping and assembling.
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Black Bean Stoup and Southwestern Monte Cristo Sandwiches

This was another meal I saw Rachael Ray make on 30 Minute Meals last week. SP is always asking me to make soup and he's been jonesing for a Monte Cristo recently, so Black Bean Stoup and Southwestern Monte Cristo Sandwiches seemed like a good idea.

While we liked both of the components of the meal, we agreed they didn't go very well together. The flavors in the soup were great, but it was quite spicy so next time I'll cut down on the Tabasco sauce. This soup would go great with a simple cheese quesadilla.

The Southwestern Monte Cristo was also excellent, with a nice sweetness from the honey ham tempered by the spice of the pepper jelly:

... but would have worked better with French fries or even regular tortilla chips. It really needed to stand on its own. All in all the soup and sandwich were both winners, but, in our opinion, make a better meal when served separately.
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Cat: A Pictorial

When I came upstairs to update my blog I saw the cat sleeping on the big chair in our bedroom. The chair has been one of his favorite places to sleep ever since we won it at a silent auction a few years ago. I love capturing him sleeping in adorable positions so since I had the camera with me I was able to snap a few photos before he woke up. This is how he looked as I crept quietly into the room:

Despite the squeaking floorboard I stepped on, he didn't wake up right away and I was able to stand in front of the chair in order to capture a different angle:

Then I moved around to the other side of the chair. I love it when he sleeps with one arm completely outstretched:

Miraculously he was still sound asleep. I love that his little pink tongue is sticking out in this photo:

Uh oh...he's on to me! His eyes suddenly opened, the arm came down and he woke up.

After a quick stretch he followed me into the office, where he proceeded to stretch out on the floor for another quick nap.
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Macaroni & Cheese

I love shopping at Wegman's. It's an amazing store and while we never make a trip there without spending more than we'd planned to, we always find something fun. In case you hadn't noticed by now, we love cheese. They were doing cheese tastings this weekend so we stopped to try what was on offer. I'm not usually a fan of Gruyere, but I tried a piece and it was amazing - nutty tasting, with a good bite to it, but without that stinkiness that turns me off from most cheeses in the Swiss family. We bought a small tub of the grated cheese to add to last night's mac & cheese dinner:

... that I served with crusty bread (also bought at Wegman's) and a salad:

... made with arugula and baby spinach tossed with salt, pepper and grated Pecorino. I had mine with red wine vinegar and oil. For the mac & cheese I made my usual recipe, but instead of just cheddar I added the Gruyere, as well 6 slices of bacon cooked in the oven until they were just crispy:

I also made my own bread crumbs using 2 slices of white bread pulsed in the food processor. They toasted up beautifully in the oven.
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Breakfast Sandwich

Another Sunday, another breakfast sandwich:

... made with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and Canadian bacon on a toasted English muffin.
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Pizza Friday

This week's Pizza Friday turned into an experiment. Initially I was going to make calzones, but when I got home and opened the container of ricotta I realized I had used more then I thought in the Rigatoni Woodsman-Style. I had already mixed the ricotta with pepperoni, mushrooms and olives so I decided to spread the mixture on the dough and see how it turned out.

This was one rich pizza and a little soggy despite leaving it in the oven longer than usual. The flavors were all very good, but this was the first time in a long time that I had to eat my pizza with a fork.
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Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

SP and I aren't that into celebrating Valentine's Day, but we do like the excuse to have a nice meal and spend some quality time together. We always have some kind of seafood on Valentine's Day and this year we decided to try something new - baked stuffed shrimp. The latest issue of Cook's Country had a recipe for Baked Stuffed Shrimp so that's what I made:

But before I get into that, let's talk about our first course. Initially the plan was to have roasted asparagus as our vegetable, but on the way into work yesterday I remembered a dish I used to love when I was in college. There was a restaurant in town that served roasted or grilled asparagus tossed in a light vinaigrette and served with a fried egg on top. The whole dish was showered with grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. It was outstanding and I've always meant to make it at home (especially for my mom, who loved the dish and who is probably mad at me now since she wasn't invited over last night). It's an easy dish to make, but as regular readers will know, asparagus isn't a vegetable that makes many appearances on our table. It just isn't on my radar for some reason. But I already had a nice bunch at home so it was simple enough to change plans and serve this as a first course. Here are the asparagus ready to be roasted after being tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper:

Roasted asparagus tossed with lemon juice, salt and pepper is always good, but the addition of the fried egg is what makes this dish amazing:

See how the yolk starts to ooze over the spears? It mingles with the lemon juice and oil to make a simple sauce that is just outstanding with the slightly charred asparagus:

What a great way to start the meal. This would also be a great brunch item if you placed the asparagus on top of a grilled slice of crusty bread and added another fried egg on top. Yum!

Now for the shrimp. As I said, we wanted to try something different but I was a little concerned about how this would turn out. I have a lot of faith in Cook's Country and they didn't disappoint. This could not have been easier to make and the great thing about the meal was that the asparagus and baked potatoes cooked together in a 400 degree oven and once the asparagus came out and I turned the oven down to 275 for the shrimp, I was able to leave the potatoes in the oven to stay warm. Here are the shrimp stuffed and ready to go into the oven:

My plate with the baked potato (dressed simply with a little butter and sour cream) and the baked stuffed shrimp:

The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the stuffing had a really amazing flavor. You could really taste the garlic, mustard, clam juice and scallions. I followed the recipe exactly except for the last step - broiling the shrimp after they bake in order to crisp up the stuffing. I decided not to do that step because I didn't want to overcook the shrimp. After we finished eating, SP and I decided that the only thing that would have made the dish better was some kind of sauce to go over the shrimp, even if it was just a little butter and lemon juice.

For the potatoes I rubbed the skins with olive oil, salt and pepper before baking them. I had been hoping for a crispy skin (I never eat the skin on baked potatoes because I can't stand the soggy skin) but they never got crispy. Maybe I'll try a higher heat next time.

Overall this was an outstanding meal and we were both really happy with our special Valentine's Day dinner.

Baked Stuffed Shrimp
Cook's Country Feb/March 2008

4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup bottled clam juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley
4 scallions
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 pounds extra-large or colossal shrimp, peeled and deveined

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse bread in food processor to coarse crumbs. Transfer crumbs to broiler pan bottom and bake, stirring halfway through, until golden brown and dry, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove crumbs from oven and reduce temperature to 275 degrees.

Add parsley, scallions and garlic to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Combine crumbs, mayonnaise, clam juice, parsley, scallions, garlic, lemon juice and zest, mustard, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl.

Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and season with salt. Grease the broiler pan with vegetable or other light oil. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a 1-inch opening along the back of shrimp (where the vein was located) to butterfly it. Arrange the shrimp cut-side down on the broiler pan. Divide bread crumb mixture among the shrimp, pressing it into balls between the tails and body. Bake 10-15 minutes for extra-large shrimp or 20-25 for colossal. As soon as the shrimp turn pink, they're done.

Remove shrimp from oven and heat broiler. Broil the shrimp until the crumbs are golden brown and crispy, 1 to 3 minutes.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Meatloaf with Smothered Mushrooms and Cheesy Cauliflower

I saw Rachael Ray make Meatloaf with Smothered Mushrooms and Cheesy Cauliflower last week and it looked really tasty, so I put it on this week's menu.

Unfortunately I'm not sure if it was a winner or a failure. The meatloaf was good. I used ground beef for the meatloaf patties and they were pretty good because of the combo of Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and grated onion. And I really enjoyed the smothered mushrooms in a sherry, beef broth and splash of heavy cream sauce, so that part of the meal worked.

What really disappointed me was the Cheesy Cauliflower. Now granted, I didn't buy the Boursin cheese (I actually meant to but forgot to put it on the shopping list), so it was missing that particular flavor. I tried to compensate by adding some garlic cloves to the cauliflower as it cooked and I still mashed the cauliflower with the chicken stock, Pecorino cheese, salt and pepper, but it had a really watery consistency. I tried boiling out some of the liquid, but it never got smooth like I was expecting it to. I've heard mashed cauliflower can be a stand-in for mashed potatoes, but mine didn't work out that way. I ended up adding a splash of heavy cream in an attempt to make them a little more interesting, but while the flavor was good, the texture was all wrong. I'll have to try to find another recipe for mashed cauliflower since I love cauliflower and it's a good, healthy vegetable.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Creamy Skillet Penne with Broccoli and Sausage

"This meal looks an awful lot like last night's dinner," SP said when I placed a bowl of food in front of him. When I planned this week's menu I had a different meal in mind for Monday (chicken with a creamy cheese sauce and mashed potatoes mixed with broccoli), but then I started worrying about fat and calories so I changed it to the Orange Chicken Stir Fry without thinking that the meal we'd be having on Tuesday would feature a lot of the same ingredients.

Fortunately for us, Tuesday's meal was much better then Monday's. I loved the bright colors and there was just enough pasta to make me feel like I was eating a pasta meal but not enough to weigh down the dish. And the flavors really popped - between the wine, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes and sausage there was a lot of complex flavors going on. Definitely a winner.

I made a few modifications - thinly slicing the onion instead of dicing, using cavatappi instead of penne since we already had half a box open, upping the garlic to 6 cloves, and leaving out the basil. I also modified the cooking time slighly since we like our broccoli crisp-tender and my pasta cooked in less time. My changes are in brackets.

Creamy Skillet Penne with Broccoli and Sausage
Adapted from Cook's Country Feb/March 2008

1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, diced [I cut mine in half and thinly sliced it]
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
8 ounces penne or other short pasta [I used cavatappi]
3 garlic cloves, minced [I used 6, we really like garlic]
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large head of broccoli cut into florets
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese [I always use Pecorino]
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil [I left this out because basil is hard to find this time of year]
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Crumble sausage into a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up pieces with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

[If the sausage didn't release much fat, add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan.] Add onion and bell pepper to sausage fat, [season with salt and pepper], and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add pasta and cook, stirring often, until it's lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, chicken broth and heavy cream, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta starts to soften, about 8 minutes.

Arrange broccoli on top of pasta, [season with salt and pepper], and continue to cook, covered, until broccoli is bright green and tender and pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. [Start checking the pasta and broccoli after 5 minutes for doneness.]

Off heat, [add the sausage back to the pot - for some reason this step was left out of the original recipe], along with the cheese, basil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
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Orange Chicken Stir Fry

Over the weekend I was watching cooking on PBS and saw this recipe on an episode of Everyday Food. The original recipe calls for beef, but since I had chicken defrosted I used that instead.

We were both a little underwhelmed by this meal. Maybe it would have been better with beef, but we thought there wasn't much orange flavor (or any flavor, for that matter), which was weird. I even doubled the sauce recipe because I had used more chicken then the recipe called for and there still wasn't much flavor. I don't think we'll be repeating this one, unless we try it with the steak instead.
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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rigatoni Woodsman-Style

SP wanted something Italian for dinner tonight so he cracked open our copy of Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen in search of an idea. After much deliberation he settled on Rigatoni Woodsman-Style, which I served with some simple garlic bread:

I could tell this was going to be good while I was cooking it. I got out my big pan, the one my parents gave me for Christmas, and started sauteeing the onions and sausage. Then the mushrooms went in, followed by the tomatoes and peas. SP was sitting in the living room and every so often he'd say, "Man! That smells amazing." As I stirred together the rest of the sauce ingredients and gave it a taste I knew we had a winner. The sauce:

... is just fantastic. All the flavors from the various ingredients remained separate but also combined together to make one great bowl of pasta. And the garlic bread only added to our enjoyment of the meal since it was nice and garlicky and perfect for dipping in the sauce. SP is still talking about how tasty this meal was.

Rigatoni Woodsman-Style

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausages, preferably without fennel seeds
1 pound assorted mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and sliced thin
1 cup seeded and diced canned plum tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring until wilted, about 4 minutes. Crumble the sausage into the skillet and stir, breaking up the sausage into small pieces as you do, until the sausage is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir about half the mushrooms into the sausage mixture. Add the remaining mushrooms as those in the pan wilt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. If the mushrooms give off liquid, allow time for the juices to boil off before the mushrooms start to brown.

Pour the tomatoes into the skillet, stir in the peas, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook a minute or two. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is lightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Pour in the cream and bring to a boil. Spoon the ricotta into the sauce and stir gently to mix.

If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, add the pasta to the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring gently to coat the pasta with sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup grated cheese. Check the seasonings, adding salt and pepper if necessary.
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Ina's Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Our friends T & C enjoyed the peanut butter cupcakes I made the last time they came over so much that when T was at the store and saw this:

... she decided to buy a box for me to try. Sunday is usually my baking day so I opened the box this afternoon to see what was involved. The contents:

... seemed rather straight forward. Everything is included except butter, eggs and heavy cream. The packet on the left contained the cake mix, the packet in the middle was peanut butter and the packet on the right was confectioner's sugar (as far as I could tell). All you do is mix room temperature butter with the cake mix, add the eggs, pour into cupcake tins and bake until done. The frosting is the sugar mixed with more butter and the peanut butter, along with some heavy cream. Not hard to do at all, especially since it seems like there isn't much in the way of additives. The results:

... looked and tasted pretty much exactly like the ones I made from scratch (save for the crushed peanuts on top). Thanks T & C for thinking of us. And yes, SP has already had a cupcake and I plan to share more with him.
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Breakfast Sandwich

Sunday morning usually means breakfast sandwiches in our house and this morning was no exception. I had my usual:

... a toasted English muffin topped with bacon and scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, but this time we had Canadian bacon instead of regular bacon.
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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Pizza Friday

Another Pizza Friday, this time with mushrooms:

I think I've mentioned before that SP is a huge mushroom lover. I put almost an entire 10-ounce package of mushrooms on this pizza and he was in heaven. Since I didn't precook the mushrooms I seasoned them with salt, pepper and dried oregano before topping them with cheese, just to make sure they had enough flavor.
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Friday, February 08, 2008

Fish Dinner

I've said it before - we don't eat enough fish. We both love it, but most of the time it's something you need to buy fresh the day you use it and we just don't have the time or energy for that during the week. But tilapia is something we can buy frozen at the wholesale club and cook a thousand different ways, so it's kind of become our go-to fish.

Last night I wanted something simple and comforting. Nothing fancy, just good solid food. I decided to lightly batter the filets in egg and flour and fry them in vegetable oil. The fish developed a nice crispy crust without being heavy or greasy. A squeeze of lemon over the top really added that extra. I knew I wanted potatoes but I wanted to do something different, so I cubed and boiled them then tossed them with a little butter, salt, pepper and chopped parsley:

We love arugula but don't eat much of it in the winter. The bagged arugula looked good at the store so I made a quick salad with sliced mushrooms, grated Pecorino and a red wine vinegar and oil dressing:

Let me tell you, this meal was outstanding. We both felt immensely satisfied, even though it wasn't a heavy or complex meal. And the leftovers today were excellent for lunch. I love when a meal really hits the spot.
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Beefed Up Biscuits

Wednesday we revisited a dish we haven't had in awhile - Beefed Up Biscuits:

Just as tasty as always, with the beef mixture chock full of onion and green pepper and seasoned liberally with cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne and chili powder. I really enjoy the flaky biscuits topped with cheddar cheese. I like to eat these like sandwiches, although they can be rather messy.
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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pork Chops and Broccoli

I don't feel like I've made anything good for dinner lately. Friday we had pizza, which was great, but after that things went downhill. SP was at the auto show on Saturday with our nephews, so I had leftovers for lunch. Then we ended up going out Saturday night because we needed to unwind. Sunday we had pancakes for breakfast, but I didn't feel like taking a picture and they were just OK. I made them from scratch and was really proud of myself, but we don't have a real griddle pan so by the time I cooked them all the original ones were lukewarm at best. Our Big Game food was OK, but we only had chicken leftover. I made some rice and minced some scallion to go with it, but the chicken did not reheat well at all. In fact, it was almost inedible. Then last night we had to run over to my MIL's house to take care of something and ended up going out to eat with her, which meant I had nothing for lunch today, which equaled a peanut butter sandwich, some pretzels and a few slices of cheddar cheese. Not exactly filling.

Which brings me to tonight. I won't even get into how we ate at the same incredibly-bad-for-you-but-oh-so-amazingly-tasty restaurant on Saturday AND Monday nights, but let's just say I was looking for something a little less fattening tonight. I defrosted some pork chops so I did the usual breaded and lightly fried in olive oil deal and served it with steamed broccoli:

I really loved steamed broccoli and the pork chops are always tasty. No starch, in an effort to be a tad healthier. Why, why, why does all the stuff that's so bad for you taste so damn good?
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The Big Game

SP and I aren't huge football fans, but we couldn't avoid The Big Game so we decided to embrace it by making lots of fun food throughout the day. We started with queso dip and tortilla chips:

... that, sadly, was downright awful. I bought RoTel with the hopes of using it to make queso, but I didn't want to use Velvetta or other processed cheese product, so I used a combo of cheddar and Monterey Jack. Unfortunately the undrained can of RoTel mixed with the regular cheese resulted in a soupy mess. I tried straining it, but as SP pointed out, all the flavor was removed along with the liquid. Not a good start to our day of eating, but we plowed ahead with jalapeno poppers:

... deep fried and served with ranch dressing. These were just frozen poppers, nothing homemade, but they really hit the spot, especially because they were deep fried. Later on in the day I made calamari:

... that we had with marinara sauce. Always a winner, even though they didn't get golden brown. I think I need a real batter instead of just flour. We ended the day with a copycat recipe for Chili's Shanghai Wings:

... that were surprisingly similar to the ones we ate a Chili's a few weeks ago when we needed a quick bite before a friend's son's play. I haven't eaten at a Chili's in over a decade, so I was pleasantly surprised by how good the Shanghai Wings were. Sweet and tangy, SP was a huge fan of these and they were a nice change of pace from our usual Frank's version. Of course these weren't really "wings" since they're made with boneless chicken breasts cut into chunks, but they were delicious nonetheless.
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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Pizza Friday

I feel like it's been ages since we had Pizza Friday. This week we kept it simple with a basic pizza Margherita:

Everything on the pizza was leftover from the eggplant rollatini - the sauce, the mozzarella (which I cut into slices instead of shredding) and the basil, which I cut that into strips and sprinkled over the pizza before it went into the oven. The crust stayed nice and thin and it was so good we ate the whole thing in one sitting.
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