28 June 2009

Why You Don't See More Recipes That Aren't Mine

A number of you lovely people have told me you would like me to post more recipes. Gentle readers, if I didn't include a recipe in my post, then either there is no "real" recipe (because I was making things up as I went along) or the recipe is simply not mine to share. If the recipe isn't mine to share, I do my best to cite its source so you can go and acquire a legitimate copy for yourself.

Also, I usually try to summarize the recipe for you so that you can get a better idea of what I'm talking about without me violating copyright -- ingredient lists don't fall under copyright protection, but instructions and accompanying text do. Therefore, I could list all the ingredients for "Linguine with Crab & Sherry Cream Sauce" (America's Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers Special Issue) but I couldn't reproduce the instructions verbatim. I could probably list all the ingredients and then paraphrase the instructions, but that's too much work for a recipe that isn't at all my own creation. Especially when I can just walk to my bookshelf and pull out the recipe whenever I need it.

I see other foodie blog writers reproducing recipes from magazines and cookbooks, but I am not brave enough to follow their lead. Even if I reproduced a recipe and provided a proper source citation, I would still feel I was violating bighairyethicalandlegalwhatzits if I did not have the author/publisher's explicit permission. If this were a serious foodie blog I wrote professionally, then I might be shifted to do such a thing. As it is, I just sigh a lot, make parenthetical citations and wish more authors/publishers would make use of copyleft.

That said, I admit I fudge a bit here when it comes to the bighairyethicalandlegalwhatzits -- I have cited my sources and then gone ahead and linked to sites which are probably not displaying legitimately reproduced copies (Recipezaar, I am talking about you). Naughty? Yes. Something I'll never do again? Probably not.

24 June 2009

Nomiliciously Easy Corn & Black Bean Salad

Needed something to take for lunch and came up with this yummy fast salad. Desperation is the mother of good noms?
Easy Corn & Black Bean Salad 
1 can low-sodium corn, drained
1 can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small red bell pepper, diced small
½ punnet grape tomatoes, quartered
¼ red onion, diced small

Stir in light Italian dressing to taste.

22 June 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Seventeen

The In-law's are arriving on Saturday and so this week is going to be just one huge fit of house cleaning. No matter that my house is pretty darn clean, already. It is not clean enough for house guests!

So, no real cooking, but I've gone ahead and posted a menu anyway, because I know I'm going to freak out around the middle of the week and, if I don't have a written plan, end up eating something horribly un-nutritious (like a box of not very tasty citrus shortbread cookies) for supper while I worry about whether anyone else is bothered by how dirty the windows are (they aren't).

Monday (shift change)

  • A big bowl of garden salad topped with shredded Cabot Hunter's Sharp cheddar, corn, black beans, and light ranch dressing. Plus Kashi crackers and green grapes.


  • Ditto


  • Soft chicken tacos (chicken from freezer, flour tortillas, low sodium taco sachet, shredded lettuce, diced grape tomatoes, salsa, and 1% Greek yoghurt) with salad.


  • Taco salad (leftover taco fixings and broken shells mixed into the usual garden salad).


  • Pirogi (frozen, boiled and then pan-fried with olive oil and onion) with salad.

Saturday (to July 3)

  • The In-law's arrive ... an increased consumption of spirituous libations and restaurant meals is anticipated.

Sherry, Sherry Baby

See that bowl of loveliness?  It's is "Linguine with Crab & Sherry Cream Sauce" from America's Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers (special issue magazine made up of tear-out recipe cards). Gave me the illusion of serving a fancy-schmancy meal while actually being dead simple and so very delicious.

Linguine w/ Crab & Sherry Cream Sauce

Of course, I originally planned to serve this dish at a table set with frou frou things like, ohhh, a table cloth and candles. Maybe some soft music in the background. Certainly, green vegetables would appear. It would all make for a grown-up celebration of our first year in this house.

In reality, we ate the linguine out of soup bowls whilst watching Prime Suspect 6. There were no green vegetables in the offing -- although there was leftover carry-out carrot cake for dessert. Surely, that should count for something?

Regardless of how it was served, "Linguine with Crab & Sherry Cream Sauce" made for a very nice supper in less than thirty minutes. We certainly liked the linguine enough to go back for seconds -- a sure sign I will make this recipe again.

18 June 2009

Fast & Easy Pan-Seared Steaks With Barley

Made "Pan-Seared Steaks With Cherry Tomato Sauce"for supper last week from America's Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers (special issue magazine made up of tear-out recipe cards) and paired it with "Farmer's Market Barley Risotto" from Betty Crocker. OMG, teh noms!


Pan-Seared Steaks w/ Cherry Tomato Sauce & Barley Risotto

I tend to avoid making steak at home as I don't think I'm very good at it, but I was in the mood for meat and there were punnets of pruney grape tomatoes in the fridge so I figured what the heck. It was a America's Test Kitchen recipe, after all. Even I would probably come away with an edible steak.

And I did. I came a way with a tender and exquisitely flavorful piece of beef. Heavenly when topped with the cherry (grape) tomato sauce. And so darn easy! Just sear two seasoned steaks on medium-high heat for three to five minutes or until well browned. Plate and let rest while you make the speedy tomato sauce with tomatoes,sugar,red pepper flakes, garlic, parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. It really did only take thirty minutes to get these steaks from refrigerator to table.

Of course, the barley risotto took much longer, but that just meant I started it first. When the barley was about three-quarters done, I started the steaks. How long did it take to make the barley risotto, anyway? About ninety minutes. Was it worth the effort? Yes, but I wonder if I couldn't somehow cook it in the oven and avoid all that stirring. And stirring. And stirring.

Despite my reluctance to repeat all that stirring, I would gladly eat this risotto again. I loved how the barley stayed a little chewy and the tomatoes gave a nice tang to this very creamy and cheesy (but not too cheesy) risotto. While we ate it with steaks for supper, the risotto would work perfectly fine as a vegetarian main dish and is, actually, probably meant as such as one serving is 1½ cups!

16 June 2009

Chicken in (Almost) Thirty Minutes

Monday's supper was "Chicken With Mustard & Dill" (America's Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers -- special issue magazine made up of tear-out recipe cards), parsley rice, and salad. I'd picked up this magazine about a month ago, but neglected to make anything from it as I already had a whole pile of cookbooks out from the library. Last week, wanting a quickie supper that would use up some pruney looking grape tomatoes, I broke down and cracked 30-Minute Suppers open. Darned if "Pan-Seared Steaks With Cherry Tomato Sauce" didn't make some of the best steaks to ever come out of my kitchen! So, of course, I had to try another recipe ...

Chicken w/ Mustard & Dill

"Chicken With Mustard & Dill" was a very easy (and delicious) dish to throw together on a weeknight -- dredge seasoned boneless skinless chicken breasts in a little flour and sauté them in oil until well browned on both sides. Plate the breasts and let them rest, while you make a simple pan sauce from shallots, low sodium broth, white wine, butter, dill, and Dijon mustard. So easy peasy that I had supper on the table in forty minutes -- kind of a miracle for me, as thirty minute recipes are usually more like sixty minute ones. I'm sure, once I've made this recipe a few more times, supper will be on the table in thirty.

Oh, yes, I'll be making this again! And, next time, I'll use dill fresh straight from my garden!

15 June 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Sixteen

Less tired and grumpy going in to this week as I did get some housework done and solved The Case of the Malodorous Mystery Smell -- the odor wasn't coming from the drains or disposal as I had feared, but rather from the rubber and metal sink drain strainer/stopper. So I replaced the darn thing with a fine metal mesh strainer and ... the odor returneth not. I try to tell myself that at least I know my kitchen sink area is really clean now. The pipes and disposal can't have been this clean since they were installed! And, I learned some new baking soda tricks!

I had an open box of baking soda sitting on the kitchen counter from my last round of drain cleaning and the sink was looking a bit tatty with tea stains ... so I dipped my damp sponge into the baking soda and then rubbed at the sink basin. The stains came off immediately!

Amused, I tried the same thing with on my glass cooktop which was a bit crusty with baked on spaghetti sauce. The baking soda worked even better than BioKleen Soy Cream Cleaner or Bar Keepers Friend! Dude! Do you know how cheap baking soda is? As cheap as white vinegar!

I'm going to be saving all sorts of money on cleaning products now. Is that not awesome? And you know what that means? It means more money for fud!


  • "Chicken With Mustard & Dill" (America's Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers -- special issue magazine made up of tear-out recipe cards), parsley rice, and salad.


  • A big bowl of salad with diced leftover chicken and shredded Cabot Hunter's Sharp cheddar. Plus a homemade gelatin cup and Kashi crackers.

Wednesday (shift change)

  • Another big bowl of salad with chopped hard cooked egg and shredded sharp cheddar. Plus pineapple and Kashi crackers.


  • Yet another big bowl of salad with tuna and shredded sharp cheddar. More pineapple and Kashi crackers.


  • "Linguine With Crab & Sherry Cream Sauce" (America's Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers -- special issue magazine made up of tear-out recipe cards) with salad and individual chocolate lava cakes. A (slightly late) celebratory supper marking our "One Year In This House" anniversary (Wednesday).



  • Pirogi with salad and pickled shredded beets.
Lots of lettuce coming out of the garden, already! If only my tomato plans loved cool moist weather as much as the lettuces do ...

12 June 2009

Cool as a Cucumber

Today was too warm and humid for making cheese and ale soup so I made cucumber sandwiches, instead, inspired by a recipe in Southern Living Comfort Food (Oxmoor House, 2009).

These cucumber sandwiches were very easy to put together and tasted pretty good even though they were not at all like the cucumber sandwiches from Winnie-the-Pooh's Teatime Cookbook (Dutton, 1993). Those were veddy correct cucumber sandwiches, whereas these (while tasty) more resembled an upstart American "cucumber spread" -- or so sayeth The Husband, the British Person Who Dwells Amongst Us. When you bite into these sandwiches, there is no crunch of crisp lemony cucumber followed by buttery sweetness. Rather, you bite into a soft, cream cheesy pillow studded with bits of cucumber and shallot.

Good, but perhaps better on a heartier bread like pumpernickel than on the thin white I used. Mmm ... bet this spread would make adorable sandwiches when smeared between little pumpernickel rounds and dusted with chopped parsley. Also, would probably work great as a stuffing for cherry tomatoes.
Fifteen Minute Cucumber Spread
  • Peel, seed, and grate a large English (burpless) cucumber onto a large tea towel.
  • Fold the towel up and squeeze until no more liquid comes out. Set aside.
  • Mince a shallot and set aside.
  • Combine one brick of light cream cheese with one tablespoon light mayonnaise, shallot, cucumber, salt and pepper.
  • Make sandwiches using thin slices of good white bread.
If you're feeling fancy, trim crusts and cut on the diagonal or shape into rounds with a biscuit cutter.

Makes about a dozen sandwiches.

(I'm guessing this recipe would be really easy to whip up in a food processor, but I did it the old fashioned way with a box grater, bowl, and spoon)

10 June 2009

Black Beans Take The Wrap

I kind of expected the middle of this week to be rather awful, so I tried to plan for a nutritious Wednesday supper in case everything went south and recovery required the consumption of a pint of ginger ice cream and several beers.

Happily, today was pretty good -- just the usual technological frustrations and embarrassments which make modern librarianship so darn stultifying sometimes. There are days, I swear, where I feel we've not advanced far past 1994 with Windows 3.1 and its Blue Screen of Death.

And then I read articles in Library Journal about the Semantic Web and want to bop people on the head. Repeatedly. With my handy-dandy "Sorry! Our computers are not working well! Your experience may vary" Signs of Doom which I have been cluttering my library with for almost two months now goshdarnitoheck.

But! Today was a good day! I had no need for refuge in ice cream or beer and yet I still made a happy, healthy dinner, anyway!

The recipe for "Beef and Black Bean Wraps" comes from Better Homes and Gardens Diabetic Living Cookbook (Meredith Corporation, 2007). It's quite a straight-forward recipe full of kitchen staples, comes together in less than thirty minutes, and is perfectly amenable to last-minute tweaks! An awesome work night supper, indeed.

Subbed 1 cup of chopped spring onions (scallions) for 1 cup of chopped yellow onion
and 1 cup of quartered grape tomatoes for 1 large chopped tomato.
Omitted ground coriander, because I don't own it

We ate these with salad and they made a perfectly lovely meal with lots of leftovers for lunch (omit the tortillas and put the leftover meat-bean mixture on leftover salad for a mock taco salad).

Will I be making this again? Definitely.

07 June 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Fifteen

Feeling tired this week (yes, it's only Monday) and am generally uninterested in menu planning. A lot of my tiredness and disinterest, I think, probably has to do with the imminent (27 June) arrival of the In-Laws. An arrival I am woefully unprepared for -- my house is cluttered with stuff, carpets I'd planned to wash two months ago are still unwashed, and there is a mildewy smell in my kitchen I cannot get rid of! Grr!

(Oh yeah, bet you want to visit my house now).


Monday (OT)

  • A big bowl of salad with flaked cold salmon. Plus yellow cherries and Kashi crackers.


  • Another big bowl of salad with cold diced roast chicken and shredded Cabot Hunter's Sharp cheddar. Plus a homemade gelatin cup and a baggie of cinnamon Puffins for just-in-case.


  • Clean-out-the-veggie-drawer pasta (jarred pasta sauce enhanced with chopped wrinkly peppers, red onion, grape tomatoes, celery, etc) and salad.


  • Mr. Bento packed with leftover pasta, homemade gelatin cup, and salad.


  • Baked salmon with green and pasta salads.


  • Pirogi with salad and pickled shredded beets.


It's going to be horrible and rainy all week, so I thought I might try making a cheese and beer soup on Friday -- this way, if it's good, I can give my dad some on Sunday. I had a really good cheddar and ale soup in April and have been contemplating making my own ever since.

Also, I need to bake a birthday cake ...

Mmm ... cake! Haven't baked a cake in ages.

02 June 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Fourteen

Oops! More like Menu Plan Tuesday! Between the CCFA walk on Saturday and Sunday's New York excursion, there was no time for menu planning ... especially not on Sunday when I left the house at 7:45 that morning and did not return home until 2:00 the following morning! New York was a whole lot of fun, but I forgot what a timesink museums (and parks and book stores) can be!

Next time, a museum or park or garden and then lots of book shopping and noms. Oh my god, the noms!

This week's menu plan, written in haste and bound to be repented at leisure:


  • P.F. Chang's China Bistro (pan-fried pork dumplings, wild Alaskan salmon steamed with ginger, and spinach stir-fried with garlic)


  • Mr. Bento packed with sushi, cherries, and salad (garden lettuce, chopped cucumber, and red onion with rice vinegar).


  • "Beef and Black Bean Wraps" from Better Homes and Gardens Diabetic Living Cookbook (Meredith Corporation, 2007) with salad.


  • Mr. Bento packed with leftover wraps, grapes, and salad.