30 July 2009

Corn & Barley Corn

Sweet Corn & John Barley Corn

You must try "Barley, Corn, and Pepper Salad" from Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2009. It's fast, easy, nutritious, and very delicious.

Ingredients: quick cooking barley, bell pepper, scallions (green onions), corn, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt (I used Tastefully Simple's Garlic Garlic).

Next time I make this I'll prepare it with regular pearl barley instead of quick and, maybe, add in some shredded carrot and thawed frozen peas.

Seriously, this salad is really good and everyone should give it a try!

28 July 2009

Green Beans & Tomater Salad

Green Beans & Tomater Salad"Green Beans and Tomatoes" from Better Homes and Gardens Quick-Fix Family Favorites (Meredith Books, 2008).

Ingredients: Beans, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, light Italian dressing.

The recipe said to cook the green beans for 10-15 minutes or until crisp tender -- I did 10 and my beans were certainly tender, but far from crisp. 8 minutes next time, I think. The original recipe did not call for fresh basil, but I do have a bunch on hand so I added it in.

Would I make this again? You betcha! Next time I might even add some bocconcini and fresh minced garlic ...

26 July 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Twenty-One

Time for another Menu Plan Monday! Some of this week is repeated from last week, because I went a little off plan over the weekend as I tried to use up a bunch of produce before it went icky. Darn Mother Nature and her lack of preservatives!

Whoops! Forgot that this week marks the beginning of Taste of Hartford and that I don't "need" to cook supper again until August 10! What is Taste of Hartford? Local restaurants set a special prixe fix menu (usually includes a start, entree, and dessert) for $20.09. It's a great way to find new favorite supper spots or try out unfamiliar cuisine. -- ed. 7/29/09


  • Grilled hot dogs (from freezer) on buns with "Green Beans and Tomatoes" from Better Homes and Gardens Quick-Fix Family Favorites (Meredith Books, 2008).

Tuesday (work)

Wednesday (La Casona)

  • Patacón Casona: Shrimp, fruit, and vegetables in a sweet and spicy sauce served over a large crispy plantain.
  • Pollo Tropical: Grilled chicken breast and Portobello mushrooms, with cherry reduction sauce over mashed sweet potatoes and plantains and mixed vegetables. (This was so unbelievably delicious ... I could easily eat it every weekend!)
  • Peach flavored caramel flan

Thursday (work)

Friday (O'Porto Restaurant)

  • Sopa de Vegetais: carrot and pumpkin purée with julienne carrots and collard greens
  • Linguado Recheado: Baked fillet of sole stuffed with shrimp and crab, served with sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes in a lemon-vinaigrette sauce
  • Mousse de Chocolate: Chocolate mousse


  • "Tortellini and Peas" from Better Homes and Gardens Quick-Fix Family Favorites (Meredith Books, 2008) with salad. Ingredients: tortellini, peas, milk, diced tomatoes, Parmesan.

Sunday (Costa del Sol)

  • Pan Catalan: Catalan style bread with tomato, garlic herbed olive oil and topped with Serrano ham.
  • Salmon a la plancha: Grilled salmon with Spanish orange brandy glaze.
  • Flan: Spanish caramel custard.

25 July 2009

Satisfied Husband Cake

The Husband's been whinging for weeks about how he never gets any cake and how he needs cake and is dying for cake and might just have to go get his cake needs met somewhere else ...

So (et voilà!) scratch made "Quick Yellow Cake" with "Fluffy Frosting" from KitchenAid Great Baking and More (FBNR, 2005) and fresh raspberries. This is a nice basic yellow cake with decent crumb and not-too-sweet marshmallow-like frosting.

Yellow Cake w/ Raspberries

The frosting was actually quite interesting to make -- when I started making the sugar syrup for it, I could not believe that thick brown sugary sludge would become a blindingly white fluffy frosting! I love kitchen chemistry!

23 July 2009

Cheery Cherry Tomatoes & Pasta

Found myself home at supper time with no idea of what to eat. Decided, since I had lots of cherry tomatoes and fresh basil on hand, that pasta would be the fastest/easiest dish to make ...

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes w/ Pasta

Roasted Cherry Tomaters & Rotini

Halve two punnets of cherry tomatoes and toss with a handful of peeled garlic cloves, chiffonaded basil, red pepper flakes, Garlic Garlic, and olive oil. Dump onto a jelly roll pan and roast at 400 for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

While the tomatoes roast, prepare pasta. Drain. Combine with roasted tomatoes. Sprinkled with shredded Romano. Nom!

21 July 2009

Itty Bitty Organics @ My Door

Last week, I received a bitty box from Door-to-Door Organics. The bitty box is meant to feed one or two people and contains 4-5 fruit and 7-8 veggie types. What was in my bitty box? Beets, carrots, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, sweet potato, blueberries, nectarines, and red plums. Yum!

So far, we've eaten everything but the beets and carrots:
  • I baked the yam (sweet potato!) and ate it with maple butter for lunch one day.
  • Nectarines and plums made perfect work snacks.
  • Blueberries were mixed in with Kashi GoLean Crunch and Greek yoghurt for breakfast.
  • Bananas went into banana bread.
  • Cucumbers and Romaine went into the most delicious chopped salad ever ("Mediterranean Chopped Salad" from Cook's Illustrated July/August 2009).
What to do with the beets and carrots? I guess I could roast them ala Kraft or Gourmet.

Chopped "Italian" Vegetable Salad

I'm just going to say this right off -- you must try "Italian Mozzarella Salad" from Better Homes and Gardens Big Book of 30-Minute Dinners (Meredith Books, 2006)!

Chopped "Italian" Vegetable Salad

Salad Ingredients: Black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), shallot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.

Vinaigrette Ingredients: Red wine vinegar, olive oil, fresh basil, Dijon mustard, crushed red pepper, and garlic.

Diced veggies, mozzarella, and beans tossed in a tangy basil dressing -- what could be easier? Or more delicious?

I wouldn't make this recipe more than a day ahead of time and I'd certainly eat it within two, because the tomatoes start to get a bit squishy. Not that I'd expect this salad to last more than a day in my house, anyway, as it's so tasty I could eat the whole bowl in one go.

19 July 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Twenty

Time for Menu Plan Monday! Skipped the farmers markets this weekend, but then went a little crazy at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. While my refrigerator overrunneth with produce to the point that it is hard to find the milk, my tummy looks forward to lots of good noms this week!

(I was excited to find Kashi Heart to Heart whole grain crackers at the grocery store. I like Kashi's TLC crackers quite a lot and always wished they'd make something more Triscuit-like ...)


  • Mushroom and sauerkraut pirogi (from freezer) with fresh green and wax (yellow) beans.


  • Grilled marinated chicken breasts (from freezer) with squash, tomato, red onion medley and parsley rice.


  • "Edamame-Orzo Salad" (yummy!) with cold diced leftover chicken, cantaloupe chunks, and Kashi TLC crackers.


  • "Edamame-Orzo Salad" with honeydew chunks, Cabot Hunter's Sharp cheddar chunks, and Kashi Heart to Heart crackers.


  • Grilled hot dogs (from freezer) on buns with "Everyday Tomato Cucumber Salad" from The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook (Storey Publishing, 2005).


  • Tuna pasta salad with shredded pickled beets and corn on the cob.


  • "Sausage and Orzo" from Better Homes and Gardens Quick-Fix Family Favorites (Meredith Books, 2008) with salad. Ingredients: kielbasa, orzo, bell pepper, and green onions.

18 July 2009

Fast & Easy Rotini-Kielbasa Skillet

Rotini-Kielbasa Skillet

"Rotini-Kielbasa Skillet" from Better Homes & Gardens Every Meal Easy (Meredith Books, 2008).

Ingredients: pasta, kielbasa (from freezer), onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes.

An easy and delicious thirty-minute meal which doesn't go weird if you double the amount of zucchini. Easily vegetarianized by substituting chunks of portobello mushroom for the kielbasa.

16 July 2009

Pork Chops with Colorful Vegetables & Rice

Pork Chops with Vegetables & Rice

"Peppered Pork Chops and Pilaf" from Better Homes and Gardens Every Meal Easy (Meredith Books, 2008) with tomato-cucumber salad.

Ingredients: boneless pork loin chops (from freezer), shiitake mushrooms (farmers market), bell pepper, jarred roast pepper strips, and red onion.

I had to fudge this recipe (a lot) because (among other things) I don't own any instant rice. I made "normal" rice in the slow cooker (using low-sodium chicken broth instead of water). When the rice was almost done, I started the chops.

Because I did not own any herb-pepper seasoning blend, I sprinkled the chops with McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning. In a large skillet, I cooked the chops in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes per side. Then I set them aside to rest while I worked on the vegetables.

To the hot skillet, I added 6 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, one diced orange bell pepper, one diced red onion, about half a cup of roast pepper strips, and two shots (seriously) of low-sodium chicken broth. I stirred the vegetables around over med-high until they were crisp-tender and the broth had evaporated.

(This recipe serves 4 and, while we two did eat only one chop apiece, we ate all the veg).

14 July 2009

Keeping Scurvy at Bay

Growing up, my mother's sauerkraut salad was a summer standby. We would eat it all the time with hot dogs, grilled kielbasa, barbecue chicken, etc. I'm pretty sure it made an appearance at every family picnic. Despite the huge amounts of sauerkraut I consumed as a wee kidlet, I still haven't gotten enough of this salad and make it for myself every summer.

Mom's Sauerkraut Salad

Mom's Sauerkraut Salad

16 oz. bag fresh refrigerated sauerkraut, drained and lightly rinsed
1 bunch scallions/green onions, chopped
8 oz. bottle Wishbone Italian dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Eat as a side dish or on top of hot dogs or sandwiches.
You could use a different vinaigrette -- while my mother stands by her Wishbone Italian, I've found Olde Cape Cod Sundried Tomato & Basil dressing works quite well, too. You could also substitute light for regular dressing, but don't try fat free -- this salad goes weird and nasty with fat free dressing.

I've also occasionally pimped this salad out by adding a shredded carrot or a finely diced red bell pepper.

13 July 2009

Farmers Market Bounty Tortellini

I made "Ravioli with Summer Vegetables" from Better Homes and Gardens Every Meal Easy (Meredith Books, 2008) for supper and it was pretty darn good and so very easy.  I wasn't sure The Husband would go for it, but he nommed it all up!

Farmers Market Bounty Tortellini

Ingredients: refrigerated tortellini, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, garlic, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), spinach.

Very easy to make! I didn't have any Roma tomatoes so I used half a pound of halved cherry tomatoes and the dish tasted just fine.

If I were to make this again, I would use more garlic (of course!) and swap the black pepper out for crushed red pepper flakes.

12 July 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Nineteen

Time for Menu Plan Monday! This week is all about veggies -- the farmers markets were full of yummy looking stuff and, as is usually the case, I lost all sense of restraint. Bought lots of squash, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms ... nom! Now we just have to eat it before it makes delicious compost in our fridge!


  • "Ravioli with Summer Vegetables" from Better Homes and Gardens Every Meal Easy (Meredith Books, 2008) with salad. Ingredients: pasta, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo beans, spinach.


  • Leftover ravioli with salad and watermelon.


  • "Peppered Pork Chops and Pilaf" from Better Homes and Gardens Every Meal Easy (Meredith Books, 2008) with salad. Ingredients: boneless pork loin chops (from freezer), carrots, shiitake mushrooms, onions, and bell pepper.


  • Salad day: lettuce from the garden, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, celery, carrots,red onion, and diced pork chop. Plus grapes and chunks of Cabot Hunter's Sharp cheddar.


  • "Rotini-Kielbasa Skillet" from Better Homes and Gardens Every Meal Easy (Meredith Books, 2008) with salad. Ingredients: pasta, kielbasa (from freezer), onion, zucchini, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes.


  • Grilled marinated chicken breasts (from freezer) with salad and corn on the cob.


  • Gourmet hamburgers (from freezer -- manager's special at Shaw's last week) on buns with lettuce and tomato, more corn on the cob, and chopped cukes in light Italian.
(Can you tell I brought a new cookbook home from the library?)

The Pie is the Message

I know it's blueberry season, but I was in the mood for pie and strawberry rhubarb is a flavor we'll both eat. Not that it would be awful to have an entire pie to myself ...

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

(Really, it should say "bake more pie!")

I used a readymade refrigerated pie crust, but you are welcome to be a better baker than I and make your favorite scratch crust!

Mom's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Yield: 8 generous slices


  • 2 refrigerated pie crusts, prepped as directed
  • 3 cups strawberries, stemmed & quartered
  • 3 cups rhubarb, cut into ½-inch slices
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup corn starch
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, corn starch, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Toss gently until fruit is evenly coated. Let sit while oven preheats to 400°F.
  2. Line a 9-inch pie pan with crust. Pour filling into crust and level. Top with second crust. Vent. Brush with a little beaten egg for extra shine and color.
  3. Place pie on a baking sheet and put in oven. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

This makes an awesome dessert when served warm with ginger ice cream and a little fresh whipped cream. Also excellent just on its own with a cold glass of milk for breakfast!

11 July 2009

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Upmarket Grocery Shopping We Go ...

I’ve unhappy about grocery shopping ever since I heard our local Shaw’s is supposed to close this month. Since I moved here, Shaw's has become my favorite grocery store – its produce is far better than anything I’ve seen locally (outside of Whole Foods); the store is generally very tidy and well-organized with none of the floor clutter I find elsewhere; its staff don’t roll their eyes when I hand them with a fist full of coupons.

And now the store is closing.

O, waily, waily. What shall I do?

me: Need to go to Shaw's tonight and scavenge savings from its blighted carcass ...
TH: blah. it's not worth the money.
me: I don't know ... there are good sales in this week's circular. You don't have to come with me, you know.
TH: We don't need to save the money that much ... and it'll just annoy both of us. Let's just go to Whole Foods instead .
me: You remember this next year, when I have no job and we have a 1K/month Whole Foods bill.
TH: ha
me: Well, if we start doing WF shopping, that guarantees awesome salmon once a week!
TH: True. Eatable strawberries, too, and nice orange juice.
me: And healthy cat noms they'll actually eat!

And that decided it. Cat noms and good orange juice.

10 July 2009

Friday Night Is Pasta Night

Thursday night, it was obvious that Friday's chicken would not be ready for marinating Friday morning (curse you, non-thawing chicken!) so meals would need to be swapped around. I don't know about you, but making pasta salad from scratch at 9 o'clock in the evening just doesn't seem like a good time. Happily, Suddenly Salad came to the rescue.

Jazzed Up Suddenly Salad

I know, I know ... scratch made pasta salad is infinitely more healthful and, generally, more tasty. But, the pasta salad mixes keep going on sale and, when combined with those 40¢ off coupons, they are dirt cheap. Also, it's pasta salad in fifteen (thoughtless) minutes. Fifteen. Quince minutos.

Anyway, I can't leave a boxed salad well enough alone. No, I have to go and make it "better" ...
Jazzed Up "Classic" Suddenly Salad

Prepare pasta as directed. In a large bowl, combine seasoning packet with a half cup light peppercorn ranch dressing and one tablespoon lemon juice. Stir in cooked, drained pasta. Add half a punnet quartered grape tomatoes, one finely diced shallot, and one can drained flaked tuna to pasta. Toss. Cool. Serve over lettuce leaves.

08 July 2009

Easy Baked Sausages & Vegetables

Miscalculated our bun supplies for sausage-inna-bun and had to rearrange tonight's supper a bit -- same ingredients, but a different result.
Easy Sausages & Vegetables

Preheat oven to 375. Chop fully-cooked roasted garlic chicken sausages into thirds. Toss onto jelly roll sheet. Add one bell pepper and one red onion, thinly sliced. Top with one can no-salt-added basil, garlic & oregano diced tomatoes. Squirt with a bit of light Italian dressing. Stir. Bake, uncovered, for about thirty minutes, stirring once.

While sausages are cooking, prepare 2 servings whole wheat wide noodles as directed on package. Serve half the sausages and vegetables on pasta with a little freshly grated Parmesan. (Remaining half is good reheated the next day for lunch).

06 July 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Eighteen

Time for Menu Plan Monday! This week is very much a knee-jerk reaction to last week's shopping-eating-drinking binge and so is full of cheap kitchen-ready dishes. No shopping for me this week, nosireebob. No more spendiespendie for a little while.

Until Saturday, actually. Our local farmers market should be opening this weekend and I look forward to lots of cucumbers (all my cucumber plants drowned) and corn. Mmmm! Buttery sweet corn and crisp refrigerator pickles! Can't wait! And, if we can get properly organized on Sunday morning, there's always the Coventry Farmers Market with its fresh sauerkraut and delicious beef ...


  • Picnic leftovers: Hot dogs with fried mushrooms and chopped cucumbers in light Italian.


  • Last of the leftover pasta salad, pickled beets, and cherries.


  • Not CMOT Dibbler's Sausages-inna-bun¹: Grilled garlicky chicken sausages (from freezer) with peppers and onions on a bun. Plus salad.


  • Salad day: lettuce from the garden, grape tomatoes, cucumber, celery, carrots, and red onion. Plus grapes and chunks of white Stilton with cranberries.


  • Grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts (thawed and marinated in light Italian) with parsley rice and tinned green beans.


  • Pasta salad on lettuce leaves (from garden) with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes in light Italian.


  • Grilled marinated boneless pork loin chops (thawed and marinated in barbecue sauce) with corn on the cob and cucumbers in light Italian.

¹ "And then you bit into them, and learned once again that Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler could find a use for bits of an animal that the animal didn't know it had got. Dibbler had worked out that with enough fried onions and mustard people would eat anything."
(from Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures)

05 July 2009

Hooray for Fireworks!

Independence Day, 2009


~ Hamburgers & Hot Dogs ~

~ Mom's Devilled Eggs ~

~ Pickled Beets ~

~ Cucumber Salad ~

~ Creamy Italian Suddenly Salad® ~
(w/ added veggies)


~ Mom's Strawberry-Walnut Bread ~

Mom’s pickled beets

In a bowl, layer two un-drained cans low sodium sliced beets and one thinly sliced onion (white or red depending on preference or availability). Pour in one cup white vinegar. Refrigerate overnight. The longer this sits, the better it is.
Cucumber salad

Halve one English/burpless cucumber and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Thinly slice & put in a colander with salt. Let sit for 20 minutes or so. Rinse cukes and squeeze in a tea towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Put in bowl with minced red onion, dill weed (fresh from the garden!), a splash of white vinegar, a few twists of pepper, and a tiny bit of sugar. Do not make more than a few hours before serving -- will not keep well overnight!
Fancied-up Suddenly Salad®

Open two boxes of Creamy Italian Suddenly Salad®. Combine pasta packets and cook pasta in boiling water for 13 minutes or until of desired chewiness. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine seasoning packets with ½ cup light mayonnaise and ½ cup 1% Greek yoghurt or light sour cream. Thin with a little milk as desired. To bowl: add one minced small red onion, two minced celery stacks, and two handfuls of quartered cherry tomatoes. Drain pasta well and toss, still hot, with sauce and vegetables. Refrigerate until needed.

03 July 2009

Squashed Salmon (Easy!)

A variation on my favorite recipe, "Italian Chicken Vegetable Bake," but using salmon and the vegetables I had on hand ...
Italian Salmon Vegetable Bake

1½ pounds boned salmon fillet of uniform thickness, skinned
3 small crookneck squash, quartered and sliced
1 small red onion, diced
1 can no-salt-added petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup low-fat Italian dressing

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease 13x9 baker. Place salmon in baker and top with tomatoes, peppers, squash, onion, and Italian dressing. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes. Test salmon for doneness. Serve with parsley rice and green beans.

02 July 2009

Feta-ed Cherry Tomato Chicken (Easy!)

We've been out for meals so many times since The In-laws arrived that the charm has worn off and I begin to crave food I have cooked for myself ...
Feta-ed Cherry Tomato Chicken
4 trimmed boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed
1 string bag of Desert Glory Nature Sweet Salad Cherry Tomatoes on the vine, halved
(last week's B1G1 + $1.00 off 2 with a Shaw’s printable!)
1 8 oz. package of feta cheese crumbles
A couple squirts of light Italian
A couple shakes of McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning

Preheat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle breasts with salt-free seasoning and place in a 13x9 baker. Scatter cherry tomatoes on chicken. Sprinkle cheese on tomatoes. Squirt a couple squeezes of dressing over all. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with parsley rice or orzo.