Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Puttin on my top hat, tying up my white tie, dustin off my tails...

Pardon me while I do some housekeeping. **feather duster flying furiously**

Come on in, mind the cobwebs. Find yourself a spot that isn't too dusty and have a seat.

I wasn't sure I'd ever post here again, to be honest. About a month or so after my last post, I discovered I was pregnant. On top of everything else that was happening to me, that was a HUGE shock. Blogging became the last thing on my mind, so I just let it go.

Now here I am with a beautiful baby girl about to turn one, and a bunch of awesome new Twitter friends. A few of them have inquired about a recipe of mine and I was all set to send out a mass email when inspiration struck. Why not dust off the old food blog? Easy peasy right? Uh, yeah. I hadn't logged in here in over a year (almost 2) so I had a hell of a time remembering how to get in. Six emails from Blogger, ten headbangs on desk, and innumerable curse words later and I finally got back in.

So many people have said to me that they don't like potato salad. I tell them to try this one and not one person has still kept that opinion afterward.

My mother is famously stuck in her ways. She was out here visiting a few summers ago and it happened that her visit coincided with 4th of July. We were having a family BBQ at our house and I was making all the food. Mom asked me what were were having, and as I was running down the menu, she stopped me at the potato salad. She asked me "do you make it like I do, with eggs, yellow mustard and pickles?" I told her no, that I really didn't care for that and had come up with something better. I proceeded to tell her what went into mine and I saw the look of distaste roll across her face. She was prepared to hate it because it wasn't like hers.

After the BBQ, she quietly came up to me and said "Would you write down the recipe for that potato salad for me before I go home?" Yes, Mom. :)

So if you're still here after all that (and if you are you have more patience than I do) here's your reward:

Jenna’s Potato Salad

4 lbs red potatoes
1 cup mayo
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup Creole or whole grain mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of onion powder
2 bunches green onions (use the green part only)
1 package of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Cook potatoes in salted water JUST until tender (Don’t let them get to the falling apart stage). Drain, and let cool.

Mix up the mayo, sour cream, mustard and spices. In large bowl, toss with potatoes, crumbled bacon and sliced green onions. I have been known to toss in a little shredded cheddar too.

Chill and serve.


Measurements are approximate. I really don’t measure much when I cook. Yeah, I’m one of those.

Also, if you are making this up ahead of time (which I recommend, because the flavors will have time to “marry”) put the crumbled bacon in just before you serve it. Otherwise the bacon gets limp and soggy. Unless of course you like that sort of thing. In which case, you are dead to me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Yeah, it's been a while...

It may look like I have abandonded this blog, but in reality I haven't....just so much going in my life this has taken a back seat.

In the last month I have been diagnosed as being pre-diabetic. That has meant HUGE changes in my life, especially in my diet. No longer can deep fried, smothered in butter and enveloped in ganache be a regular player in my day to day life. Instead these things will have to be occasional visitors. A lot of my time lately has been devoted to trying to figure out how to adapt my time honored and beloved recipes into something that won't kill me. It's not been easy. I love my french fries, burgers, cheese and oh yes, chocolate. Which of course is what got me into this mess to start with. I considered just letting this blog die a slow, quiet death...but then I got to thinking. I have seen very few blogs that focus on foods that aren't clogged with butter and sugar, so why not share what I learn as I go along here?

I can already tell you that Splenda alone will not work in a cobbler...tried it, tasted it and dumped it. However, Splenda blends seem to work just dandy. And I will be trying out a new recipe for a chocolate orbit cake and substituting the Splenda blend for the sugar. Now if someone could just invent a fat free chocolate.......

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Updates, Plans and Issues, Oh my!

My husband (The Babe) was nagging me about my lack of posting the other day. Although I don't know why, since my readership at this point consists entirely of him and my mother-in-law. However, to placate the clamoring crowds, here I am.

I really haven't been in the kitchen much the last couple of weeks. Life has been keeping us very busy, running hither and yon. Just where is yon, by the way? North of hither? South? Wonder where that particular phrase came from...but I digress. The last meal we actually cooked was last Saturday, when we had MIL(mother-in-law) over for a slightly belated birthday dinner. It was very simple, some balsamic BBQ chicken (recipe I will plagiarize, er, post further down), some roasted potato wedges and a nice green salad. I did bake some cheesecake brownies for dessert, the recipe for which I won't foist upon you, because they were singularly unspectacular. If I'd had a working set of frontal lobes, I would have used the recipe I'd seen over on Smitten Kitchen.

Sad to say most of our meals have come from a restaurant of late. A result of our sometimes too hectic lives. That and let's face it: we're lazy. But an attempt will be made tonight to remedy some of that, as I am planning a dinner of my old favorite stand by, Garlic and Oil Pasta. I found this recipe many many years ago in a cookbook by Nick Stellino, and although slightly adapted by me over the years, it has become a favorite and a quick go to meal on a busy weeknight.

This weekend we are off to the coast for some much needed R&R, so it seems there won't be much cooking in the near future either. When we get back, hopefully I will be motivated to get off my lazy bottom to cook......or maybe I'll just be in a salt water fueled coma.

Balsamic BBQ Sauce
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

1 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes. Baste on to chicken at the end when chicken is almost done. I think if you put it on too early, all the sugar will just burn. Blackened chicken is yummy, but this ain't the way to make it.

I had to cook this on very low heat on my stove to keep it from burning. Also, this makes a LOT of sauce. If you are cooking for 2 or 3 people, I'd say cut this in half.

Garlic and Oil Pasta
(Please note, all measurements here are approximate)

1 80z box of pasta ( you can use spaghetti, angel hair or vermicelli - nothing too wide)

1/2 cup olive oil

3-6 cloves garlic, chopped fine ( use your own judgement on this depending on the size of your cloves, but remember this is GARLIC and oil pasta - you want to taste the garlic)

1/4 cup fresh parsely or 2 tablespoons dried

Salt, to taste

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese (the good stuff--nothing from a green can in this one)

Boil water, cook pasta until al dente( not completely tender-should still have a little resistance), drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a good sized pan, and add the garlic. Cook until the garlic starts to sizzle - be careful not to let it brown or burn. You will have to start over. Take off of heat, toss in salt, parsley and red pepper flakes, if using( I usually make this without the red pepper, but that is just a personal thing on my part). Then add the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Top off with freshly grated Parmesan and enjoy!

* You could also add some fresh lemon juice to this for a nice twist.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Earth, Wind, Fire..water..smoke...

Not much cooking in my kitchen the last couple of days. You know how just when you think you are finally getting ahead, and you are gleeful with that knowledge? And then God, or whoever is in charge of these things, says "Psych!". Welcome to my world. Just when all was going right, my washing machine blew up. Literally. Well, ok, not literally, but there was smoke. And a horrible burnt smell that 2 days later we are still trying to get out of the house. (any and all suggestions for smell removal would be most welcome). My only six and a half year old washer gave up the ghost. With a load full of clothes. And water. And soap. Yeah. My Saturday night consisted of a whirlwind research of washers, a frantic dinner and the world's fastest purchase of a washing machine in recorded history. Not to mention that we then had to come home (it's after 9pm by now) and pull out and wring out a load full of wet, soapy clothes. To be put aside to wash at the Mother in Law's house next day. So much for our relaxed Saturday night.

Have you priced washing machines lately? Good gawd. If you want any color than white, you will have to take out an additional mortgage on your house just to purchase it. I drooled over the red, blue and graphite colors, but just couldn't justify paying double for something that is going to sit in a room I don't spend much time in and do nothing but my laundry.

OK, I realize in the grand scheme of things, this is not the Apocalypse. But it did kept me from cooking. And baking.

And if you are wondering which washer I purchased... it's this one

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Recipe? We don't need no stinkin' recipe!

I will be the first to admit most of the things I learned to cook early on in my life did not come with a recipe. My mother was one of those cooks who'd eyeball things. You know the type, dump an ingredient in the pot, stand back and say, "that looks about right". Most of the time I do the same thing, having been raised by this no-holds-barred, who-needs-a -measuring-spoon woman. I will endeavor to be a bit more precise here, as not everyone, including me, always gets it right with the dump it in and pray you got it right method.

As I type this post tonight, the tantalizing aroma of garlic and herbs is enveloping the house, as I have a batch of homemade croutons in the oven. If you've never made your own croutons before, I really suggest you try it, as the flavor and texture is far superior to anything you can get at the mega mart.

Garlic and Herb Croutons
1 loaf sourdough bread
1 to 1 1/2 sticks butter
4 good size garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tbsp italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cube the bread. Melt butter in large sauce pan or small-ish stock pot. When butter is melted, add in the minced garlic and turn off heat. Stir in italian seasoning and toss in bread. You may have to do this with only half the bread at once, depending on the size of your loaf, repeating the process for the other half. Toss bread well to coat and spread out in an even layer on a sheet pan. Put in oven and let bake until golden brown and toasted. In my oven this takes about 60 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may want to start checking on them around the 40 min mark.

Let cool and enjoy! I keep a batch of these around all the time. They keep really well in a plastic zip top baggie and are great for snacking even without the salad.


This recipe was given to me by a dear friend who is no longer with us. It seemed only fitting that I start out with something she shared with me, as I know she'd have been the first to read this blog. Here's to you, Sweet Pea.

Why oh why did I do it?

You may ask yourself, all 2 of you out there reading this, why did you start a blog? The answer is... I don't know. It seemed like something fun to do, and everyone else is doing it, so why not? I love to cook, and I love talking about cooking, so this seemed like an ideal vehicle. I am a "southern yankee", having been extracted from the south I grew up in and replanted in the Pacific NW. A great deal of my cooking still centers around the comfort foods of my childhood, mac-n-cheese, fried chicken, meatloaf, fruit cobblers, etc. However, moving away from the south has given me an outlook on cooking that has allowed me to experiment with a wide range of cuisines, from Mexican to Italian and French to the occasional side trip to Asia. My real passion is baking and I do it every chance I get, my dear husband, here on out referred to as "The Babe", my coworkers, family and friends being my taste testers. As they say, it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

Over the next few days, weeks and months (if you can stick around that long without wanting to poke your eyes out with an icepick), join me in my culinary endeavors...some of which are bound to fail, and if nothing else, will give you something to point and laugh at.