Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Don't Eat Laundry Soap, But I Make It!

Today I made five gallons of laundry detergent.  My husband and adult son both feel the detergent I have been making isn't thick enough, so I added more ingredients.  So far, it seems to work well.

  • 5 gallon bucket
  • big pot
  • big funnel
  • measuring cup
  • hot tap water
  • 2 cups of Borax Laundry Booster
  • 2 cups of  Arm & Hammer Laundry Soda (not baking soda)
  • 2 bars of soap.  I used a bar of Fels Naptha and a big bar of Ivory Soap
  • 1 cup of Gain
  • 3 huge empty Costco laundry detergent bottles, 1.5 gallons each plus an additional half-gallon container.  Whatever you have to fill five gallons into...
Shred 2 bars of soap.  Because I'm so in love with my awesome KitchenAid mixer with the really cool attachments for grating, I used this.  Fill pot 3/4 with hot water and bring to a boil  Turn down add the shredded soap.  Stir until dissolved.  Make sure the Borax and Soda are both lump free and add that to the soap mixture.  Stir stir stir until completely dissolved.   On the counter next to the sink, fill 5-gallon bucket halfway with hot tap water, add the soap mix and stir well.  Add the cup of Gain, which keeps the homemade detergent from getting lumpy. Top off the bucket with more hot water to make 5 gallons and mix well.  Place detergent bottles in the sink and, using the measuring cup and funnel, fill each up.  Rinse off each bottle.  1/2 cup (in my case, a full lid/cup from my detergent bottle) per load.  Now you are ready to wash 160 loads of laundry!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dinner for the very tired

It was a big day, unpacking, washing, and shopping.  My neighbor's brother Matt went with me to look at cabinets that he will install.  We had a leak in the wall behind the kitchen sink last month and black mold is appearing.  So, OUT go the cabinets!  They were dated anyway after 23 years of use.

hamburger patties, pan fried
steamed white rice with butter
whole green beans from the can

Thanksgiving at My Sister Kat's House

Poor Kat pulled her back on Thanksgiving morning as Mark and I drove onward toward her Gulf Breeze, FL home.  Her husband Larry took over.  He put the turkey in the oven, made sweet potato souffle topped with pecans, and made the most amazing unusual stuffing, made with raw onion and celery (because Kat failed to tell him to saute), but guess what?  We loved it!  We also had gravy (Kat started the giblets in some water before the injury) that I whipped up from the drippings and giblets.  Larry's daughter Fathom brought deviled eggs and green beans, and last in the oven were the crescent rolls.    Mark and I brought iced tea and pies: cherry, apple, pecan and pumpkin.  With Kat, Larry, Fathom and her husband Robert and toddler Robby, Fathom's mom, Sheila, and Mark and me, it was a full house and a great day!  Kat's working on recovering from her back injury, bless her heart.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fire In The Kitchen!

I made a batch of datil pepper sauce and named it Fire In The Kitchen Datil Pepper Sauce.  Here's a link to my other website, There's a Cricket In The Corner, that has the info on how I did it, complete with pictures.  This morning I made turkey sausage, twice-toasted whole wheat english muffin, and an egg.  'Topped that bad boy with some fire sauce, oh yeah!  My Finnish friend would say, "yammy yammy!" 
What is twice-toasted toast?  Toast normally, spread butter, then broil until the butter turns golden with brown tips.  It's heavenly.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

16 Bean Soup

Boil bag of dry beans for two minutes and let them sit overnight.
Rinse, add a large can of tomato chunks with liquid and add water to cover the beans by a couple of inches.
Tear up a pound of lean hamburger and toss chunks into bottom of crockpot. Do not stir a bunch!
Add the water and beans, shake in some salt and pepper to taste.
Shake in a tablespoon or so of dried onion chips, garlic powder, and some spices of your choice.
Add a couple of whole bay leaves.
Cover and cook on high 4 hours.
Add leftover raw cabbage chunks (because I have 1/4 head in the fridge).
Cook on low for an additional 4 hours.

Homemade Pumpkin Latte Coffee Creamer

Thanks to my sister, Kat:

Pumpkin Latte Coffee Creamer
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree (I use canned)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Mix all together in small pan until the sugar melts over medium heat. 
Cool and store in fridge.  Shake and pour.
There will be grounds and pumpkin the bottom of the container.  I like it that way.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cabbage & Straw Italiano

As usual, I was lost and confused in the kitchen!  I wanted cabbage rolls, but didn't want to cook rice and didn't have any canned tomato.  Then I found this recipe.  The defrosted hamburger meat will be made into mini burger patties.  I still need to run to the store, but just for the cheese and fresh sage.  I served this with big Italian meatballs, pre-balled and spiced in the meat department. Serve with crusty bread, toasted, then rubbed first with a halved chunk of raw garlic, then buttered.  Deliciouso!

Cabbage and Straw Italiano
• Salt
• 2 big potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
• 1 pound fettuccine pasta
• 1 small head cabbage (about 1-1/4 pounds)—slice in big shreads  (Savoy cabbage is better)
• 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, cut to melt faster
• 3 large garlic cloves—smashed, skins removed and cloves quartered
• 16 fresh sage leaves, 6 whole and 10 thinly sliced
• 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
• 1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan Romano cheese
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt it. Add the potatoes and cook for 7 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes.
2. While the potatoes and pasta are working, melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and whole sage leaves. Cook until the sage is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. It gets potato chip crisp as it cools. Remove the garlic and sage leaves to a small plate.
3. Add the sliced sage (I use kitchen shears) and ground pepper to the skillet; just before draining the potatoes, pasta and cabbage, add 2 ladles of the starchy cooking water.
4. Drain the potatoes, pasta and cabbage and add to the skillet. Stir it all together, adding the Parmesan Romano as you work to get a cheesy, buttery coating. Adjust the salt and garnish the pasta with the reserved whole sage leaves and garlic.  I add the noodle mix to the skillet to get all that buttery goodness, then pour it all into the big pot so I can stir the cheese in easier.

Gobbling down this Italian Goodness were: David, Audrey, Mark, me, and a double helping went to my neighbor Cathy.  David, who "hates" cabbage, really enjoyed this dish.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Today -
Banana, sliced in half and dabbed with peanut butter, and coffee.

Yesterday -
An apple I picked deep in the NC woods last weekend, half of a cinnamon-raisin bagel with whipped cream cheese, and grapefruit juice.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wishing for Winter

It's Chili Time!
Yep, I'm officially tired of summer.  A few days in NC last week gave me the taste of cool weather, what a big tease with 50F nights, aaaaahhhhh.  I'm heading back up for the first snow.

Uh huh, there it is, smelling all delicious!
Here's what went into the pot:
  • 1-1/4 lb. good hamburger, fried, drained
  • 1 can hot chili beans and juice
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes w/chopped chilis
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes w/onion, celery, garlic
  • 2 T cumin
  • 2 T chili powder
  • generous grind of black pepper

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chicken, Brown Rice, Tomato, Creamed Corn

  • Six chicken breasts sprinkled on both sides with 1/2 envelope of dry Good Seasoning's garlic-italian dressing mix and the chicken laying on a bunch of large chunks of onion.  Bake 40 minutes.
  • A half-bag of frozen corn, cooked and then a can of creamed corn added to it.  I like creamed corn, but the canned junk has gotten pretty stingy on the corn, so I just make my own thick corn with a bit of cream mixture.  It was a surprised to find yellow and white super sweet corn ("candy corn" that nearby Zellwood, FL is famous for), in the freezer by Pictsweet (guessing this is an Albertson's brand).
  • Mahatma brown rice, cooked in the pressure cooker.  Here's how: pour about 2 T oil to coat the bottom of the pressure cooker pot.  Stir-fry 2 cups dry brown rice in the hot oil to open the flavor of the rice for a couple of minutes, then add two 14-ounce cans of boiling chicken broth.  Secure pressure cooker lid and bring to a full screaming hiss, then lower the temp enough (low worked for me) to allow the pot to make the occasional sputter.  Cook this way for 25 minutes.  Turn off and allow the cooker to depressureize on the stove while the chicken finishes cooking.
  • Fire roasted chopped tomatoes out of the can for my tomato-loving sweetheart.  I added a half teaspoon of sugar to balance the acid in the tomatoes.  Mark puts this on rice.  I may too.
So, nothing green because I didn't want brocolli and that's all we have in the freezer.  I really need to go shopping!  Looks like beige and blood.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fast Meal for a Busy Day

On an impulse, Mark bought a box of Chicken Cordon Bleu at Costco.  I wouldn't have, but he was having a fun solo shopping trip.  So that box of flash-frozen chicken/ham/cheese/breading dinner sat in the freezer for quite a while until tonight, when I didn't feel like making a meal.  Turn on the oven! Spray a pan! Unwrap frozen-solid chicken bricks! Open cans!  Yep, dinner was ready in 1/2 hour and, surprisingly, it was yummy.  Salty, but yummy!  Photo has a mysterious yellow glow - probably the pre-fabiness of it all!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Datil Pepper

Hot Datil Peppers!  Finally, a baby appears in the foliage.  Our summer was long and hot, too hot for a pepper to grow I suppose.  We have several tiny white blossoms, a promise of things to come!  Now what shall I cook when the pepper is ripe?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Uncle RP's Famous London Broil Marinade

  • Steaks, marinated in Uncle RP's special sauce all afternoon, then cooked outside on the grill.  Make mine rare/med.rare please!
  • Steamed brocolli, because Mark bought a huge bag of frozen organic brocolli at Costco and it may last forever.
  • Spaghetti noodles, boiled, then mised with Knorr's Pesto Sauce.  Mmmmm...garlic!
  • Homemade peach/blueberry ice cream.

Use London broil or flank steak – 1/3 pound per person 0 unless you are really hungry or like leftovers. Yummy in a pita with smothered onions and peppers.

Sprinkle a little garlic salt on meat.

½ cup Worscestershire
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup vegetable or olive oil
½ cup white or red wine
2 dashes Tabasco

Mix marinade, put marinade and meat in covered dish or gallon storage bag in refrigerator. Marinate steak for at least two hours, turning occasionally. Remove from refrigerator one hour before cooking.

Cook on grill about 4 or 5 minutes (no longer) on each side. Brush marinade on meat while grilling.

Let meat rest for a minute or two before slicing in thin slices across the grain (at an angle). Meat will be rare, follow next step.

Boil rest of marinade and pour over sliced meat. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spinach Phyllo Pie and Chicken

Give me chicken or give me death!

Mark swung through Costco and picked up some quick food - chicken and "some frozen vegetables".  His idea of frozen veggies is on a different page than me, but I'm glad for the diversity!  Taverna Spinach Pie was wonderful, and it's a 2-pack, so we'll get to enjoy the spinach/cheese goodness, all wrapped in phyllo again!  I'm guessing it's ricotta cheese.  I asked Mark to get chicken thighs or breasts, and he accidentally bought chicken legs (in six seal-a-meal 5-packs - easily mistaken for thighs), but no problemo, I shook some Badia Complete Seasoning on the leggies and baked them in the oven with the spinach thing.  Forty minutes later, out came the chicken to be covered on the counter and  uncover the spinach and baked another eight minutes to brown the phyllo.

Mark bought some amazing end-of-season peaches at a roadside stand on our road trip yesterday, and tonight he ran off to get some heavy cream so I can make the amazingly delicious burnt peach ice cream.  We'll cook it tonight, chilled overnight, and mix in the ice cream freezer tomorrow to set up in the freezer for tomorrow night.  He's a lucky man!  FYI - I changed up the recipe a bit, tempering in 3 egg yolks to make it more of a custard ice cream.  (Most of the time) the changes I make are really really good.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Company Chicken!

pressure cooker chicken
homemade mac n cheese
steamed brocolli

A whole chicken and several chicken breasts, seasoned and browned in olive oil, then pressure cooked for 25 minutes. Gosh I love my pressure cooker!  The flavors are so much more intense when cooked under pressure.

Homemade macaroni and cheese, made by boiling a small box of macaroni, shredding an 8 oz. block of medium cheddar cheese.  Heat until thickened: 2 cups milk with 3 T flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. dry mustard, 1/4 tsp. cayanne pepper powder, and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.  Place layers in 8x12 inch casserole: 1/2 macaroni, 1/2 milk mixture, 1/2 cheese.  Bake, uncovered, in preheated 350 oven for 25 minutes.  Everyone always loves my mac n cheese.

Present were:  David, Audrey, Robert, his friend Brent, Mark and me.  Robert took the leftovers home with him.  Everyone loved it.  We had homemade cinnamon ice cream for dessert.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

BBQ Chicken Legs

A package of 20 chicken legs was $4.  Wow!  Ten chickens sit legless. 
I like dark meat. I like white meat.  I like any part of a chicken!

I shook some Spike Seasoning on the legs, then Mark put them on the (covered) gas grill for about a half an hour, turning a few times.  Squirted the cooked legs with store-bought barbeque sauce, turned the fire off and cooked a few minutes longer.  Taa daa! 

No potatoes to make potato salad, no baked beans to warm up, so with imagination lacking, I made a pot of rice (using canned chicken broth), heated a can of black eyed peas, and a can of spinach.  Everyone ate, nobody complained, and nothing was leftover.  Looking back, it seems like a strange combination, but tasted very very good.

We had homemade ice cream for dessert -  vanilla, with fresh blueberries and sliced strawberries on top.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Burned Peach Ice Cream

Serves: About a quart and a half and is absolutely incredibly wonderful!

• 2 cups half-and-half
• 1 cup whipping cream
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup peach preserves (not jelly)
• 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)
• Pinch kosher salt
• 4 medium peaches, chopped, seeded and grilled or broiled until brown. A little sprinkle of sugar browns it up better. The ice cream is too mild if the peaches don’t taste intense.

Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp), except peaches, in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Attach a frying or candy thermometer to inside of pan. (see note below) Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to 170 degrees F.  Remove from heat and strain into a lidded container. Cool mixture, then refrigerate mixture overnight to mellow flavors and texture.  I throw away the strained peach preserve chips, as I feel the flavor has been cooked out of them.

Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit's instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. Meanwhile, chop peaches roughly. Once the volume has increased by 1/2 and reached a soft serve consistency, add the peaches (a little at a time) and continue turning to incorporate. Spoon the mixture into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.

NOTE: If you do not have a thermometer, bring the mixture just barely to a simmer. As soon as you see a bubble on the surface, remove it from the fire.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Mark loves cinnamon ice cream and claims this is the best - ever!

• 3/4 cup white sugar
• 2-1/2 cups half-and-half cream
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the sugar and half-and-half. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat, and whisk half of the mixture into the eggs. Whisk quickly so that the eggs do not scramble. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir in the heavy cream. Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, and whisk in vanilla and cinnamon. Set aside to cool.

2. Pour cooled mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

My amazing KitchenAid stand mixer once again thrilled me with the wonderful ice cream attachment.  The bowl waits in the freezer, waiting for the moment it's called upon to do it's job.  Creamy goodness!

Teaching David and Audrey

David and Audrey just had their 3rd anniversary of the date they began dating.  Neither one of them are interested in learning to cook, but I worry that if David ever moves out (I'm ready!), will he eat anything besides frozen pizza and cereal and milk?  He knows how to cook one simple meal: fried hamburger patty, instant mashed potatoes, and canned vegetable.

Lesson tonight:

Iced tea -  2 family-sized tea bags in a pitcher, a metal serving spoon to  keep the glass from breaking by absorbing the heat, and a teapot whistling with about a quart of boiling water.  Pour over tea bags and let it sit.

The meal:
Pour a dab of olive oil in the bottom of a baking pan. Dredge six defrosted chicken thighs around in oil, skin side down.  Sprinkle Spike seasoning on underside, turn over, sprinkle more on the skin and let it bake in 350 F preheated oven for 20 minutes, skin side up.  Open  a cans of green beans and a can of black beans, put in two small pots, lids on to conserve energy, both turned on simmer/low.  Fill a pot about 2/3 with water and heat on high until boiling.  Add 1/2 tsp salt for flavor, and two of those rice "Boil in Bags".  Set timer for 10 minutes, then drain water from rice pot and hang the bags on the sides of the pot to finish draining.  Cut open and pour into a big bowl.  Cover with foil.  The chicken should be ready now.  Remove from oven, move chicken out of the oily pan and onto a paper plate to drain, pour oil into empty can.  Explain how oil clogs pipes.  Squirt dish detergent in pan and add hot water to soak.  Take the tea bags out of the tea and toss.  Add ice and cold water to make a full pitcher of tea.
Serves four.  Leftovers!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Steam Eggs to Hard Boiled

I love hard boiled eggs!  I don't love it when they get that icky green/grey tint on the yolk membrane. Watch this video clip to learn how to steam an egg into hard boiled in just 12 minutes!  Amazing!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Salmon on Salad

Salmon on Salad.
  • Chop 1/3 red bell pepper, 1 large clove of garlic , 1 stem green onion.  Cook in 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp butter, 1 tsp lemon juice, salt and dill.
  • Heat a couple of tsps olive oil to sear skin to crisp with flaky inside.
  • Make a fluffy young leaf salad, add a few blueberries, walnuts, carrots, celery and tomato slices, and sprinkle all with balsamic dressing.
  • Top with sizzling hot salmon. Spoon bell pepper mixture over fish, crack pepper and sprinkle a stem of cut up green onions over all.
  • Red wine is nice.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pressure Cooker Country Ribs

I found a 3 quart pressure cooker on sale and just cooked my first ever meal in it.  I opened the box, read all the material, handled all the parts, and put it together.  It sat on the counter for a week and I walked past, eyeing it warily.  I was afraid!  I remembered momma's pressure cooker, sounding like an angry rattle snake, ready to explode on the stove top!

A busy day, and we weren't home until 7:30, and so I made the move!  I can't believe dinner was ready so fast!  After I browned and drained the meat, I added the liquid and popped the top on.  Steam puffed out of a little hole on a handle until enough pressure popped up a safety valve.  This doesn't allow the lid to come off until inside has settled back to a non-pressurized level.  Cool!  I feel safer already!  The new pressure cooker sat on the glass-top stove, cherrfully puffing steam from the valve on top with a wfff-wfff-wffft every five or six seconds.  No rattling in this modern pressure cooker!

I made boneless, country style pork ribs.  Here's' the recipe I found online, which I doubled.  It fit perfectly in the 3 quart pot, coming exactly to the "maximum fill" line.  Besides doubling the liquids, the only change up I did was, I added 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke.  It smelled fantastic!

I can't believe the pressure cooker time was only 15 minutes.  I let it go for 22 because I doubled the recipe.  It took about five minutes to pressure up and 10 minutes to depressurize. Served with yellow rice, green beans, and pickled beets, it was a good hurried meal, very tender and delicious!  David and Mark had seconds!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Raw Cow's Milk

A local middle school teacher named Ann has a small Apopka farm and sells free-range eggs and raw cow's milk. My 23 year old milk drinking maniac son and I drove over to see what's what and we were pleased to walk out into the pasture to meet Clover, and Paris - who is ready to calf at any moment. Paris is not being milked so near to delivery. We got to watch Clover being milked (with a machine) and she produced 4.5 gallons of Jersey Juice. These two Jerseys are sweet pets that will live out their lives on the farm, even after they are no longer productive.

Most people who drink raw milk are "foodies" and are particular about what the cows get to eat, where the live and how much "cow time" they get. Ann's Jerseys eat a soy free diet of grain and grass and free choice hay. Florida's soil is worthless for sustaining a milk cow; we don't have real soil, it's sand, and dairy cows would starve to death on just Florida grass. Ann has a friend who is allergic to soy and could not drink any milk (grocery or otherwise) until Ann found a soy free cow food, because soy is one of those things that does pass through the cow and end up in milk.

Ann also has a small herd of about a dozen Dexters, small black cows, and she has one butchered occasionally, which I am curious to try out. She names the Dexters too, but they have "reality names" like T-Bone, Burger, and Stew. Ann has a variety of chickens that scratch what they want, wander in the fields, and enjoy the sunshine. When she gets a bully rooster, he becomes dinner, as it should be. She sells big brown eggs with strong healthy shells.

I just drank a glass of delicious custard yellow milk. It tastes similar to Gustafson's Farm milk from the store, but it is creamier than whole milk. The cream seperates, so you have to give it a shake before pouring. I can use a turkey baster and take some of the top cream for my coffee.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Barbequed chicken breasts, cooked in the oven, then coated with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce.
Yukon gold potatoes, sliced and tossed with sea salt, rosemary, pepper, and olive oil, then oven baked in oven until wonderful and done.
Romaine salad with balsamic dressing.
Strawberry cake, white icing, and fresh sliced strawberries
Raw unprocessed cow's milk.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Heart Attack Chicken


1 pkg. Good Season Italian or Ranch Dressing Mix (dry)
1 stick butter
3-4 chicken breast, raw, cubed
(I use an entire bag of flash-frozen tenderloin strips, no cutting)
1 can Cream of Chicken soup (undiluted) - tonight I used Cream of Celery
8 oz. block cream cheese (just use the whole block!)

  • Combine dressing, butter and chicken in pot.
  • Start boiling separate pot of salted water to cook noodles.
  • Once chicken is nearly cooked, add soup and cream cheese, mixing well.
  • Cook on low until all ingredients are heated.
  • Serve over drained noodles.
  • Get fancy! Add fresh sliced mushrooms halfway through the chicken cooking time. Add a jar of drained artichoke hearts, canned mushrooms, fresh sliced asparagus, or a handful of frozen peas just before serving.  To night's meal included several shakes of speecy-spicy red pepper powder and a half-jar of pimentos.
Substitute soup with any “cream of”. I’m fond of celery too. Cream of mushroom is good, but adds a dark cast to the meal.  Cook time: ½ hour

I named this Heart Attack Chicken because it has some high fat ingredients that could cause a heart attack, plus everybody that tastes this has a virtual happy heart attack because of the flavor.  Serve with a good romaine salad with the same dressing (mixed) that you used in the chicken dish.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hamburger Patties with Gravy

I cooked a pan of (all sliced) bell peppers, a large onion, a couple of garlic cloves, and a pint of mushrooms in butter and olive oil. Set that aside and cooked four large ground sirloin burgers in the pan, added a can of beef broth, a can of water with 2T corn starch for thickening, then added all the cooked vegetables, salt and pepper.  Let that thicken on a low boil.  Served over wild rice, with canned niblets corn and pickled beet slices.
present: Mark and I loved it, David and Audrey didn't like the onion or bell pepper, but ate the rest heartily.

We Really Do Eat Every Night - Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I just want to tell you that we really do eat dinner every night.  I just don't find the time or think some of my meals are worthy of the time it takes to stop and type.

Last night Mark and I went to The Lucky Pig Lounge at Apopka's newest, Bubbalou's Bodacious Barbeque.  Neighbor's son Billy helped open the new lounge as bartender and he did a great job serving up corned beef and cabbage and ice cold beer.  I'm not much of a drinker and don't know my brands, so I asked Billy for a beer that "didn't taste like dirty socks smell." He knew just what to serve up.  I had two beers, which is really wild and crazy for me. 

We were invited by our neighbors Jon and Cathy (Billy's parents) to celebrate Jon's birthday, and shared a table with their family plus mutual friends and neighbors.  Our son David was with us (he and Billy are the same age) and it was nice to spend some time with our son socially, as he seems to hide out in his room at home, the Dave Cave

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mexican Chicken

  • Fry a pan of skinless chicken thighs until nearly cooked through. Mix a packet of taco seasoning with the required water (hot so it mixes up) and pour over chicken, it'll finish cooking as the liquid evaporates.
  • Served with refried beans, canned corn, flour tortillas (heated in a pan), lettuce and tomato, shredded cheddar, salsa and sour cream.
I ate my food seperately, while others made tacos, etc. I did make one bean burrito, but I like warm tortillas with butter...yum!  A sprinkle of cheese with a dollop of sour cream were heavenly on the chicken.              At the table were: David, Audrey, Mark, and me.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Black-Eyed Peas

A bag of dried peas has been sitting in the pantry shelf since New Year's.  I cooked according the instructions on the bag, making a soup with a ham bone (with lots of meat), a chopped onion, and a couple of chopped carrots, salt and pepper.  Smells good!  We'll have the black-eyed peas served over white rice with a side of spinach for dinner tonight.   I may make cornbread too, the not-sweet kind is our favorite.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Polynesian Pot Roast

Oh how my heart sings when I think of pot roast, but because my totally wierd family hates normal old-fashioned pot roast, we're trying a variation on a theme.
Polynesian Pot Roast
chuck roast, not browned
3/4 c. catsup
2 T. cider vinegar
2 T. soy souce
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. water
onion, cut in rings
Combine all in crockpot, cook 7-8 hrs. on low
Mark and I enjoyed this dinner with corn and green beans. Mark will overindulge in what tastes good, and I had to stop him from eating the entire pot roast!  Oink oink said the piggie!

Lenten Spaghetti

Ash Wednesday calls for no meat, so how simple is a jar of spaghetti sauce over noodles?  Yep.  That and garlic bread and a throwback from my childhood, peas.  Momma always served peas with spaghetti.  Go figure.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Last night we were supposed to have hamburgers, but instead we had dinner at our friend Norman's house. We popped in to meet his new granddaughter and planned to go out for dinner, but Norman and his daughter Julie insisted we stay.  Julie's baby is darling.

Tonight, instead of hamburgers, I made a treat, Mushel-Burgers!  My family loves it. This is a simple meal that takes me back to my childhood.  We always had this served with potato chips and kool-aid.
  • In large, deep pan, stir fry two pounds of lean ground beef until brown.  Drain fat.
  • Sprinkle entire packet of onion soup mix over meat.
  • Mix 3 heaping tablespoons of corn starch into 2 cups water.
  • Pour water over the meat and stir until it is a rolling boil. 
  • Reduce temp to simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Make a meat sandwich with mayo, mustard and five pickle slices on soft white bread.
I served this with frozen steak fries, drizzled with EVOO, sea salt, and rosemary.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes
Present: Marty, Mark, David, Audrey.  There is enough left over for a sandwich lunch for me and for David..

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Heart Attack Chicken

It's called HEART ATTACK for good reason!  We had this favorite artery-clogging chicken dish, with cooked red beets, and a mixed greens salad.  Because blueberries were on sale and I like them so much, I am sprinkling it where I can, like along with walnuts on my salad.
Heart Attack Chicken
In a large frying pan, sprinkle a packet of Italian dressing mix into a melted stick of butter. Add a bag of flash-frozen chicken tenders, turning often until chicken is almost cooked. While the chicken is cooking, cook a half bag or box of noodles, drain and set aside. Once cooked, temporarily move the chicken onto a plate.  Add a can of cream of chicken soup and an 8-ounce block of cream cheese to the pan of sauce, cutting and stirring until everything is melted into a thick sauce.  Mix in a half cup of milk, a tablespoon of jarred pimentos and the bottom of a baggie of leftover sliced mushrooms,  then add the chicken and drained noodles and heat through.  This is such a forgiving recipe. You can have your choice of dry dressing mixes, "cream of" soups,  and your imagination is unlimited on what, if any, extras you toss in.  Today I had pimentos and mushrooms, but we've tried it with frozen peas, lots of mushrooms, brocolli, sugar snap peas.  I think the sugar snaps are my personal favorite.  We used ziti noodles today, but we usually use either flat noodles or bow ties. Present: Marty, Mark, David

Menu Monday

I began a coordinated effort to post a weekly menu in my main blog, There's A Cricket In The Corner.  Yesterday was my first attempt at this new organizational challenge, which should miraculously appear every Monday.  My challenge is in making the menu, not the posting in two blogs.  I decided to do a kitchen purge and will only buy what is absolutely necessary to make meals until my overflowing cubbard is bare, so the menu may have to get a little creative.

Carnival Food

Mark will occasionally hit the grocery store and bring home things he'd like to eat.  Two big packages of homemade sweet Italian sausage and a bag of yellow, red, and green bell peppers made a big hint; Mark wanted fair food!  He sees sausage and his senses are filled with memories of a steaming griddle piled high with grilled sausage links over a greasy mixture of peppers and onions.  I obliged, but in weak and one-sided effort to save my man's arteries, made a few adjustments to a carnie's sure-fired route to a fast and furious heart attack.

  • In a large no-stick pan, heat a couple of swirls of olive oil to keep the meat from sticking, add sausages cut into hot-dog length pieces, skin on.  Brown both sides, then set aside.
  • Without draining grease, add two sliced bell peppers and two sliced onions, salt and pepper, flip that around in the pan so the vegetables get coated with sausage-flavored olive oil and cook on medium until the onions are clear.
  • Lay sausages in the peppers, cover and let it all get hot again, lift meat and veg out of the oil/fat, drain on paper towels, pat off more oil, and then plate.
I served this with stewed tomatoes, because Mark loves them and this is his meal, and yellow rice, because David won't eat most of this meal except the yellow rice, which is his favorite.

Not including prep time, this meal was a twenty minute wonder.
Present: Mark, Marty, David.  Lots of leftovers.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Private Superbowl Party

Mark and I stayed home to watch the big football game.  Although the Tampa Bay Bucs is my favorite team, I was happy that my 2nd favorite - the Saints, was a contender; thrilled that the Saints beat the Colts, however saying 'Who Dat" just doesn't fit in my vocabulary.  I'm more of a "Geaux Team" kind of fan.

We snacked on tortilla chips and a layered Mexican dip: refried beans, onion, salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese. Mark had a couple of beers.
Dinner was:
Yard greens salad of mixed leaves, topped with blueberries, walnuts, and balsamic vinigarette.
Marinated steaks on the grill, medium rare.
Baked potato with sour cream and chives.
We both had a peach for dessert.
present: ♥ Marty and Mark ♥

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sushi Saturday

Mark and I went to Bayridge Sushi and shared a few rolls. Mark likes the fake crab legs and the sweet, crunchy junk in his,and no wasabi.  I'm more of a "sushi purist";  I want plain raw salmon rolls, or rolls made with vegetables with raw seafood, and load me up on mind-blowing wasabi, then roll it in the yummy orange roe.  
Bayridge is not my favorite sushi restaurant. It's like eating at Denney's...It's not bad, but it's not good. Still, you eat, you leave happy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pasta Puttenesca

Hi Janine - The recipe is here:

Thank you, Patty, for this recipe.  An easy dish, made from canned foods, this delisioso meal was made by prostiutes, and the aroma would draw in customers!

Tortellini and Vegetable Soup

A nice package of cheese-stuffed tortollini, boiled a few minutes to cook.  Drain, then I added about 2 tablespoons of garlic-infused olive oil, a squirt of basil (looks like a toothpaste tube, I keep it in the freezer), and a big fistfull of fresh baby spinach.  Stir that around, and serve after the spinach is wilted.  It was good! 

I served this with homemade vegetarian vegetable soup, made from leftovers in the fridge: pesto pasta shells, frozen mixed vegetables, a half-jar of spaghetti sauce, about a third of a cup of refried beans, water, sea salt.  The pesto in the shells made it just right.  Tasted almost exactly like my favorite can soup, Campbell's Vegetarian Vegetable, but looked a little creamy from the beans.

diners: Mark, Marty, David, Audrey

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Tonight's dinner is stuffed bell peppers, but what do you stuff them with?  We are out of rice, no mushrooms, and not really sure what to put in the mix, I improvised, which usually ends up being the best idea of all!  I used the basic mix for meat loaf.
  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp steak seasoning and some salt
  • 3/4 cup dry oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 bell peppers, halved and cleaned
  • jarred spaghetti sauce
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
I cut the bell peppers in half; an orange, yellow, and a red one. When I cleaned them out, I saved the seeds for spring planting. (I like bell peppers, especially dipped in blue cheese dressing.)  I covered the casserole loosely with tin foil and baked at 350F for an hour.  After it was baked, I drained the fat, then poured some spaghetti sauce from a jar over everything and topped with a slice of provolone cheese on each, finally baking five more minutes to melt the cheese.    Smells great!  I wonder if David will go near it.
The next time I make this, I'll try not to pack the filling in so tight, as the meat was hard like a meat ball.  Maybe replace the oatmeal with cooked rice too.  No, David wouldn't eat it...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Banana Nut Bread Recipe

Banana Nut Bread
½ c. softened butter or margarine (1 stick)
½ tsp. Salt
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
3 crushed over-ripe bananas - grossly overripe is best
2 cups all-purpose flour (not self rising)
½ tsp. Baking soda

¼ to ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Using a wooden spoon - cream ingredients together in order given. Not necessary to mix super good.  Spray either one bread pan or two tinfoil mini-pans with Pam. Bake in preheated oven, 325 degrees for 1 hour.  Everybody loves this recipe!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Strawberry Oreo Cheesecake

Today My Big Sweetie asked for a pie, and so I looked in the fridge and pantry for ingredients so I could invent a pie.  We had Oreos, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk...CHEESECAKE!

Here's what I did:
Crushed a bunch of Oreos with a couple of big tablespoons of butter and pressed a pie crust into an recycled pie pan.  Into the mixing bowl, with the mixer running:
  •  8-oz block cream cheese
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
It looked boring and Mark thought suggested cherries on top, but we didn't have any, and frankly, I don't care for the over-processed sugary canned pie fillings.  Instead, I had a bag of frozen fresh strawberries, so I sliced about a half pint (frozen) and added those to the mix, tasted it, and added a half teaspoon of strawberry extract.  It looks vaguely pink, and little chunks of sliced, then pulverized strawberries fleck the pie.  I filled the pie and we shared a little dessert cup of what wouldn't fit, and My Big Sweetie wholeheartedly approves!

Mexican, Ole!

After a busy day, moving Robert and Vanessa from parents homes to their own places, Mark and I took our tired group to eat at a favorite Mexican restaurant, El Cerro, located across the street from UCF. El Cerro is exactly the same as a Habenero's Mexican Restaurant in nearby Longwood.  I always go for #14, a guarantee of no soft corn tortillas.  Vanessa and I were happy to split a meal and lo and behold, she chose #14.  How did she know?  'Turns out soft corn tortillas aren't her favorite thing either.  Our meal included three small flour tortillas:  a ground beef burrito (even though we asked for chicken!) with red sauce, a pulled beef taco with queso and lettuce, and a fajita -which was basically a soft taco with chunks of chicken and grilled onion, pan fried.   I ate my half of each, leaving most of the burrito. Next time I'll just get a taco or the fajita, my favorites, and half of each is about my limit anyway.

Vanessa had a frozen strawberry marguerita and I had a regular marguerita on ice (ole!). I can't say what the guys ate, as I'm a lightweight where alcohol is concerned, and was anxious to get home and go to sleep.  We said goodbye to the kids in the parking lot, as they headed to their new digs and Mark and I then drove almost an hour to our house.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Corn Flakey Pork Chops

Pulled a giant package of inch-thick pork chops from the freezer to defrost in the morning and kept wondering all day about how I was going to make them something my porkchop-hating husband would like. Here is what I made and he loved:

Thickly dredge meat in some quality ranch salad dressing (I made homemade Good Seasonings with buttermilk), then shake rattle and roll in crushed corn flakes.  I bought Publix brand  and was very pleased that the flakes were delicately thin and crispy.  Lay about an inch apart in Pam-sprayed glass baking dish.  My glass pan is huge - nearly the size of the oven shelf, which is good, because I had a lot of people to feed.  I cooked this for about 45 minutes at 350F with the convection option turned on. 
Served with creamed corn and spinach.
present: Marty, Mark, Robert, David, Audrey

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pork Roast

I put a pork roast in the crock pot on low for the day.  I sprinkled a half-package of Good Seasoning's Organic Italian seasoning mix on the meat and used the wire "shelf" to keep the meat out of the dripping fat.  I got home and there was an overcooked odor in the air which quickly dissipated when I added water to the bottom of the crock pot.  Note to self: next time put an inch of water in the bottom of the pot.

I had a tremendous headache when I got home, and contacted Robert's girlfriend to see if she would give me a hand with dinner, as she lives two minutes away.  Although Robert was still at school, Vanessa, the good egg, popped right over, made sure I was medicated, and suggested a cold pack for my neck.  Saint! 

We had canned green beans, croissant rolls, and the pork roast with mustard for dipping.  If you haven't tried mustard with pork roast, you're in for a treat! The food was delicious.

streaming in diners werre: Marty, Mark, Vanessa, David, Audrey, and Robert

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chicken Creole

In honor of the Saints winning the playoff for Superbowl, I made chicken creole..
I invented my own recipe, starting with the holy trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery cooked in butter, with a couple of pods of chopped garlic, then about a half cup of flour added to make a roux, stirred that a bit while it cooked and then added canned crushed and whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, red wine, hot sauce, and the juice from cooking eight chicken thighs plus the meat, cut into cubes.  A teaspoon of sugar balances the acid in the tomatoes.  That'll cook down for a while, then serve over brown rice.  Smells good!
present: Mark, Marty, Robert, Vanessa, David, Audrey

Eggplant Parm

Mark's specialty -
Eggplant parmesan
garlic bread.
present: Mark, Marty, Robert, Vanessa

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Alfredo Anyone?

Big salad and Fettuccine Alfredo with mushrooms.
present: Marty, David, Audrey

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Grilled Steaks

I made a marinade: (mostly) worstecheshire sauce, hot datil pepper sauce, chopped garlic, sesame oil, garlic olive oil, red wine, ketsup, liquid smoke,and lime juice.
Steak, soaked in the above mixture for a few hours
baked potatoes, sour cream, chives
lettuce and grape tomato salad, blue cheese

The marinade was just a blend of liquids I had in the door of my fridge and it was, according to my family, "probably the best" steak they'd ever had. I just splashed stuff in, no idea how much.  That's the way I cook!

present: Marty, Mark, David, Audrey, Robert

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Too Tired to Cook

I got home from work around 8:30 yesterday, so tired.  I was happy everyone had found something to eat, and I went to bed without eating anything at all.  I think I can afford to live off the fat of the land every once and a while.

Today was another busy work day, and again, so tired.  Mark called me, checking on dinner, and we decided to meet at Habanero, a great little Mexican restaurant.  I'm glad I didn't get a marguerita, because I might have laid down in the seat and fallen to sleep.  I ate less than half of my meal, and brought the rest home to David, who immediately finished it off.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Grill Time!

Robert and his girlfriend cooked burgers on the grill, seasoned to perfection,
baked potatoes in the microwave,
and carrots and dip.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Swishy Fishy

Tilapia, cooked in oven with lemon butter and pepper
homemade macaroni and cheese, because David hates fish
green beans
stewed tomatoes

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Missing Patti's Chicken Parmesan

Patti's Italian Restaurant on Beach Blvd. in Jacksonville used to serve the best Chicken Parmesan.  I don't know if they are still open, but I do recall a very negative last visit.  Maybe it was just an off day, but the service and the food was absolutely horrible, and I am a pretty forgiving critic.

I hammered out a few chicken breasts, fried them, then layed them over a bed of spaghetti noodles, covered with sauce, and laid a slice of provolone cheese over each.  A flash under the broiler to melt cheese, and we had a delicious, authentic, old style Patti's dinner.

A fluffly romaine salad and garlic bread rounded everything out.  Mmmmm.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Turkey Dinner

Who doesn't like Thanksgiving Turkey all year long?
Sprinkle a turkey breast with Beall's poultry seasoning and place in crock pot on low all day. Do not add any broth or water.  That's it!  You'll have juicy yummy turkey for dinner.
Served with stuffing, baked sweet potatoes, and spinach.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Live For Sushi

Why cook when your sweetie offers sushi?
Life is good!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eggplant Parm

Eggplant Parmesan
garlic bread
lettuce salad

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lima Beans

Lima beans and ham, cooked all day in crockpot
Served over brown rice
brocolli with cheese

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Baked Ham
Sweet Potato
Green Beans

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