First of all

Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm a slacker...

We have no carved pumpkins this year!

Yes. it's true. And well, I didn't buy and pumpkins for the children to carve, and Im not going to get any and we aren't going to be doing any carving. This is both good and not so good. It's good because it's big, messy and carpal tunnel syndrome inducing. It's bad because I like fresh roasted pumpkin seeds.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thanksgiving is coming!!!

A friend passed on a post she found on emails from crazy people, I think this is too funny!

From: Marney
As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.
Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.
All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options. Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.
HJB—Dinner wine

The Mike B Family
1. Turnips in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. Please do not fill the casserole all the way up to the top, it gets too messy. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but most of us hate turnips so don’t feel like you a have to feed an army.
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, one must be VANILLA, I don’t care what the other one is. No store brands please. I did see an ad this morning for Hagan Daz Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, yum!! (no pressure here, though).
3. Toppings for the ice cream.
4. A case of bottled water, NOT gallons, any brand is ok.

The Bob B Family
1. Green beans or asparagus (not both) in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. If you are making the green beans, please prepare FOUR pounds, if you are making asparagus please prepare FIVE pounds. It is up to you how you wish to prepare them, no soupy sauces, no cheese (you know how Mike is), a light sprinkling of toasted nuts, or pancetta, or some EVOO would be a nice way to jazz them up.
2. A case of beer of your choice (I have Coors Light and Corona) or a bottle of clos du bois chardonnay (you will have to let me know which you will bring prior to 11/22).

The Lisa B Family
1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind. I think your best bet would be a platter of fresh veggies and dip. Not a huge platter mind you (i.e., not the plastic platter from the supermarket).

The Michelle B Family
1. Stuffing in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please make the stuffing sans meat.
2. 2.5-3 qts. of mashed squash in a casserole with a lid and serving spoon
3. Proscuitto pin wheel – please stick to the recipe, no need to bring a plate.
4. A pie knife

The June D Family
1. 15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.
2. A bottle of clos du bois chardonnay

The Amy M Family (why do I even bother she will never read this)
1. A pumpkin pie in a pie dish (please use my silver palate recipe) no knife needed.
2. An apple pie in a pie dish, you can use your own recipe, no knife needed.
Looking forward to the 28th!!

I rec'd my Foot Network November Magazine and I am working my way through some recipes as Thanksgiving try outs. Last night I made this:
Emeril Lagasse's Bacon Braised Green Beans.

I was really hoping this would be a big hit w/Patrick as it combines 2 of his favorite foods, green beans and bacon. He just got upset about it and said he likes his food not mixed together. I still coerced him into trying it and he didn't like the dish. I thought it was OK, but didn't wow me. I def. felt it was lacking some salt when prepared as directed.

Sad to say I suppose that I'd preferred a green bean casserole over this recipes! Clearly I need to work on my tastes.


Excerpted from Emeril Lagasse's book, Emeril 20-40-60 (HarperStudio)

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 6 slices bacon, diced
* 1 cup thinly sliced onion
* 2 tablespoons sliced garlic
* 2 pounds green beans, rinsed, ends trimmed
* 1 cup chicken stock, canned low-sodium chicken broth or water
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Set a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is well browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the green beans and toss to combine with the bacon and onions.

Increase the heat to medium high and add the chicken stock. As soon as the stock begins to boil, place the lid on the pan and cook the beans for about 6 minutes. Remove the lid, season the beans with the salt and pepper, and toss well. Replace the lid and cook until the beans are tender, 1 or 2 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and transfer the beans to a serving dish or small platter.

I wanted to try out Anne Burrell's Chestnut-Potato Puree, this one looks really good and is only 5 ingredients. However the key ingredient, 1 bag of frozen peeled chestnuts is not something they carry at my Jewel. Heck I don't know where one might find a bag of frozen peeled chestnuts. I was thinking I might have to go to Whole Foods, which is a drive. but if you can find the frozen peeled chestnuts, I bet this is really good!


Excerpted from a book Anne Burrell is featured in, New York Cooks (Sixth & Spring)

* 1 bag frozen peeled chestnuts
* Kosher salt
* 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
* 1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream, heated
* 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Place the chestnuts in a large saucepot and fill with water. Season generously with salt and bring the pot to a boil. Add the potatoes and continue to boil until the potatoes are fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain the cooked potato-chestnut mixture and return to the pot. Add the hot cream and cold butter and stir vigorously until combined. Check the seasoning; add salt, if needed. If the mixture is a little stiff, add more cream and butter until it reaches the desired consistency. Place in a serving bowl and cover with foil until ready to serve.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stuff I like lately

Looking for a good book? Currently I am all about any and everything by Charlaine Harris. It's October, what can beat a good action adventure w/a telepathic Heroine w/a shape shifting boss, who is torn btwn a weretiger and a couple of handsome vampires. I love a good vampire story! The author looks like a sweet southern woman somewhere in her 50s, but she can write some wild stories!

I got the best. mascara. ever. Really it makes you look like you have lashes for miles and doesn't involves getting pharmaceuticals! (ie Latisse) It's Avon's Super Curlacious Mascara. I don't think I paid but like maybe $6 and it rocks!

Now in the recipe department today I made an easy appetizer because I had some Pillsbury reduced fat crescent rolls on hand:

Sweet Bell Pepper and Turkey Bacon Bites
1 pkg reduced fat crescent rolls
1 tbsp Tastefully Simple Sweet Bell Pepper Dip
2 tbsp minced green onion
4 slices turkey bacon crumbled
8oz (ie 1 block) reduced fat cream cheese

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients cept the crescent rolls together. Open up the crescent rolls and pinch the triangles together to make 4 rectangles. Then take 1/4 of the cheese mix and spread it on each of the 4 rectangles. Roll up a rectangle, then slice into 8 pieces and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Repeat for a total of 32 bites. Bake for 12-15 minutes, cool and serve.

Oh and the other stuff I like lately is the vanity sizing on Sonoma Corduroy pants sold by Kohls, of which I bought a pair of size 6 pants yesterday. Seriously. size 6. haha! I don't wear a 6. But hey I'll take it, it's good for the ego!! Only in the land of Sonoma!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Things I have been cooking lately.

Last year I managed to have us not turn on the heat until 11/1. This year we had to breakdown and turn it on, on 10/11!!! We left September and went straight to the end of November. And with that, it's time to really cook.

The other day I made the Cheesy Chive Beer Cheese dip from our website, it was fan-tastic! Super Super good w/crusty bread.

Sunday I was in a pumpkin mood so I took my Nana's apple cake and added one cup pumpkin, 2 egg whites and 1/2 a cup of Peacans. Yum, but wait there is more! then I mixed 2 tbsp of the new Warm Up! Instant Mulling Spice w/a container of low fat whipped topping. It was fantastic on top of the Nana's Apple Cake. (well pumpkin cake). I could have eaten the whole container.

I finally used the acorn squash that I had sitting around with this recipe:

Acorn Squash Slices:


* 2 medium acorn squash
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
* 1/3 cup chopped pecans


1. Wash squash. Cut in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membrane. Cut each half crosswise into 1/2-in. slices; discard the ends. Place slices in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with salt. Combine syrup and butter; pour over squash. Sprinkle with pecans if desired. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until tender.

Today it is chili with ground turkey in the slow cooker. Mine has beans and ground turkey, the one Tom thinks I should make because it is his dad's recipe is ground beef, no beans and ketchup is the main ingredient. Blech.

Now Jewel had this special where certain items were 10 For $10, 5 for $10, 4 for $10, and 2 for $10, then if you bought the number to equal $10 you rec'd an extra $3.00. So I saw that Birdseye Meals for 2 were 2 for $10, less $3 for 2 for $7 and I had 2 coupons each one reading $1.50 off 1 Meal for Two. So that made the final price 2 for $4, so I went ahead and bought a couple of the meals. If I didn't have the coupons and Jewel didn't have the special, I wouldn't buy it because, you know I try to avoid the premade frozen meal aisle. Anywho, with my awesome deal I bought the Meals and one was very good. It was Spanish rice with shrimp and chicken. The amount that constituted a meal was a fair amount and the rice had a nice saffron flavor. I would buy this again if I have coupons and Jewel has a great deal.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Really Really Really Good Pot Roast

Last week it was in the 80s here in Chicagoland. This week we are barely hitting the 60 degree mark. And you know what that means? It's time to cook Autumnal food!!! Yesterday I made a scrumptious Pot Roast courtesy of Tyler Florence of the Food Network. Tyler Florence is my fav chef when it comes to recipes that are simple yet delish. Rick Bayless is my fav fav chef. Just so we have that all straightened out!

Below is the recipe with my changes. One change is that I omitted the bay leaf the recipe called for because I can't stand bay leaf. It reminds me of pre-natal vitamins. BLEH. And 2 instead of Sea Salt and Ground Pepper, I used Tastefully Simple Seasoned Salt and I slathered that all over the Pot Roast, with great results:


* 1 (3 to 4 pound) piece beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 can crushed tomatoes
* 1 cup water
* 2 yellow onion, halved
* 2 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 bunch baby carrots
* 2 celery stalks, sliced
* 1 cup button mushrooms, stems removed and sliced in half
* 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (i used one)
* 4 sprigs fresh thyme

Season all sides of the beef with a fair amount of salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot that has a tight cover; heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately high heat. Brown the meat on all sides, taking the time to get a nice crust on the outside. Pour in the tomatoes and the water. Scatter the vegetables and herbs around the pot roast, season with salt and pepper; and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Braise for about 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices, until the beef is fork tender.
Slice the pot roast and arrange on platter surrounded by the vegetables. Serve with the pot juices.