Monday, July 30, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies-Promise

It's amazing what kids remember. I mean how selective it is. Like, they can't remember that you asked them to clean their room, but they can remember some obscure promise. A few months back, my husband and I were discussing an upcoming trip, and we were talking about the possibility of taking the kids fishing. They were not involved in the conversation. As a matter of fact, I don't even remember them being present. Fast forward to said vacation. We took a different vehicle, couldn't fit the fishing equipment, 1,200 miles from home, made other plans. My father-in-law starts talking about some fishing spots, and suddenly, out of now where, our then 3-year-old, says, "I want to go fishing!" My husband and I exchange glances, and my husband answers, carefully, "Well, we might go."
"But Dad, you said were going fishing! You promised. You lied to me!" We both stood there, slack-jawed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pasta with Chicken and Lemon

I don't know about you, but I am always trying to find ways to get vegetables into what we are eating. Sometimes I dice them and throw them in soup, with pasta, or into a starch. Often, I have a giant pile on each person's plate, hoping the sheer magnitude will force them to eat at least half.
I recently realized my husband is throwing away his vegetables when he clears his own plate. I hadn't noticed right away because he always comes back with a giant pile of rice doused with Tabasco and that's all I can think about. After a minute or two I realize he ate a lot of vegetables, and as I open my mouth to ask how they were I realize he threw them away. It has only taken me two or three years to catch on to this. A couple weeks ago at dinner I finally confronted him.
"Did you throw your vegetables away?!!" I already knew the answer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cooking School-Perfect Scrambled Eggs

I have been floating around in a foodie flux for a few years now. I love food, I love cooking, and experimenting with new things. I am not, however, foodie material. I wasn't raised in France, I don't have a mowhawk, and am not an alcoholic. I am happily married and I have three children. I don't take expensive vacations to Italy (I would love to...). I am not excessively rich, nor do I have rich friends (that I know of) who run opera houses or own summer homes on the East Coast. My husband has a regular job, and I mostly stay home with the kids,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pork Chops with Tomatillo Salsa and a side of Robert Irvine

I was cleaning up the kids bedroom, which in itself is an oxymoron, because while it does, in fact, contain a bed, only one of the boys sleep in there. The other two have decided its much more comfortable to sleep on Mom and Dad's floor, where they can join us in bed at any random time. Fun.
So, back to cleaning. I watched Restaurant Impossible last night with my husband, who has decided that he doesn't mind watching that, since it's kind of like a remodeling show, not really a cooking show. Anyway, I was watching Robert Irvine. That man is fixing restaurants, putting peoples lives back together, renewing marriages, and inspiring 50-something women all over America to pick up the phone and call for someone to 'rescue' their

Friday, July 20, 2012

Zucchini Tomato Gratin

I haven't met very many snooty foodies. I actually, haven't met very many foodies. Sure, I see them on TV, read about them in magazines, and look at their cookbooks. Acting like they are too good for the ingredients available at the grocery store, and implying that everyone should be able to drop $120 on lobster to mix into some pasta for a summer lunch. They throw around phrases nobody understands, and flaunt French like they were born doing it. It's fun to watch for a little while, then it starts getting old. I love reading about food, different cultures, and how food brings people together. I don't, however, love reading about surfers and chefs summering at their beach houses, catching fresh fish and foraging for wild herbs in a weekend vacation that would have paid to feed half the population in Cambodia. I believe in efficiency in the kitchen. That means I am not going to spend $25 on a random ingredient just because a celebrity chef acts like I can't live without it.
Don't get me wrong. I am a foodie. I read everything I can get my hands on about food. Not about celebrity chefs,

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sloppy Joe's and the Boyfriend

You know when you have one of those days. It's really long, really tiring, and instead of just getting a pizza or something, you dutifully head to the kitchen. Or, you decide what you are going to make on your way home from the very long day, but you need a few things from the grocery store. Then, while you are at the grocery store, with three little monkeys hanging on you, your sister calls, and asks if Boyfriend can come over. Sure. Why not. So, you buy another package of ground beef, to make the meal stretch, and another bag of chips, to go with salsa. Forty minutes later, leaving the store, your sister tells you Boyfriend's not coming. Ok, you can put the beef in the freezer.
You get home and start cooking. There's a text message from your sister:  Boyfriend is coming. Fine. Start cooking. Chopping veggies while 6-year-old Boy is freaking out because his video game isn't working. Mommy fixes it. Trying to put a load in the dishwasher while 2-year-old Boy is screaming at you because he doesn't want the yogurt you're trying to feed him, he wants whats cooking on the stove. Buttering bread. 3-year-old Boy is chanting, "I need milk. I need milk. I need milk.", while spinning figure eights in the kitchen.
It all comes to a head when dinner takes longer than you think, and after it's all said and done, Boyfriend doesn't want to eat. You narrow your eyes, wondering if he's not who he pretends to be. Then consider smashing his face into the plate of food, but realize that may not be the best choice. Instead you scrape all the extra meat you made into a container for the fridge, and call it a night. Sound familiar?

Sloppy Joe's

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar

Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onion, jalapeño, and bell pepper. Cook until soft. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 3 or 4 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high and add the ground beef to the skillet. Cook meat until browned (about 10 to 12 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
Lower heat back to medium and add the tomato sauce, paste, ketchup, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced and the mixture is thick (15 to 30 minutes).
Season with salt and pepper and serve on toasted hamburger buns.

Have a little leftover? Make sloppy joe nachos with cheddar cheese and sour cream. Yum Yum!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pomegranate Mustard Pork Chops

During the warmer days of late spring, when we are tempted to laze about outside with a cool drink and let the children play in the shade, nobody wants to spend hours in the kitchen 'slaving' over a hot stove to yield a delicious roast or a stew. We crave light dishes with bright flavors and minimal effort, usually with a bit a healthy spin to try and counter act the excessive eating we have been doing during the previous, cooler months. What's funny about the meals during these months, is that they don't generate the hype that those comfort foods do.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Eat Here-Flipside Burger in Santa Rosa, CA

A friend of mine wanted to take me out to dinner as a thank you for a favor. She knows I like food, so she did what she thought she should and looked up a few places from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. We drove to one and it had closed at two. The other two restaurants on her list were Guy Fieri's Johnny Garlic's and Tex Wasabi's. I had eaten at Johnny Garlic's in Dublin. Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed at all. The pizza was disappointing and the pasta was mediocre. The service was horrendous, even though the restaurant was extremely over-staffed; enough that I said something to the manager, which I never do, and she didn't seem the slightest bit concerned. So, anyway, I talked my friend out of duplicating that experience, and we drove around downtown Santa Rosa for a few minutes, seeing if anything caught our attention. Of course, there are plenty of such restaurants, but it is just a bit difficult to find parking around there. What caught my friend's eye was a little place where it appeared that people were sitting on the sidewalk. Apparently, the glass side wall folds back on nice days.
We were greeted by the friendly staff of Flipside Burgers and quickly escorted to the table of our choice. My friend ordered the lamb burger with tzatziki and cucumbers. I had a bite and it was delicious. I ordered the Kobe Reuben, not my usual but it was amazing. Crispy slices of rye bread fried with a tad too much butter sandwiched tons of layers of pastrami topped with Gruyere, Russian dressing, and sauerkraut. We had the option of adding fries, soup, or salad to our entrees, so we both chose the salad. I had the honey mustard and it packed a tangy, sweet punch.
Their coffee was amazing, the staff was kind and well-informed. We never had to ask for anything, and the waitress anticipated our needs. We asked her about  menu suggestions and she was gave great suggestions and was very friendly.
The ambiance was nice, it was like an upscale rock-a-billy sort of place eclectic bits of Italian/Mediterranean mixed in. Their menu ranged with choices from ratatouille burgers to mac and cheese. Their fish and chips also sounded good. I would definitely return, and suggest anyone else to try it.

Flipside Burger and Bar
630 3rd street,  
Santa Rosa, CA 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cooking School-Making Bacon

Bacon is basic, but a lot of things can go wrong. You have to keep the heat low and slow to get it crispy all over without burning it. There is a lot of leeway with this cured meat. I prefer mine pretty crunchy, but I know people who like theirs on the flimsy side. If you are making bacon for a salad, or to top a vegetable, say, green beans, make sure it is really crispy so it doesn't end up soggy.


4 slices of bacon (this will vary in weight depending on what type of bacon you buy-I prefer a thick-cut, applewood smoked bacon. It adds a lot of flavor if I am using if for cooking, and it has great flavor for eating as a breakfast meat)

1. Lay bacon slices in a cold pan, and turn the heat to medium.

2. Line a plate with two paper towels and set it near the stove. You will transfer the bacon to this plate after it has finished cooking. The paper towels will absorb some of the grease.

3. Cook the bacon until it begins to crisp on the first side, 5-10 minutes. Turn over gently, using tongs.

4. Cook another 5 or so minutes, and turn over again. At this point you can move the pieces if it seems like some parts are not getting cooked, maybe move the outside piece the the middle, etc.

5. Cook another 3-5 minutes, or until desired doneness. Transfer carefully to paper towel-lined plate.

Repeat with more bacon, if you desire, but remember the following when cooking additional bacon:
  • Carefully put slices into the hot grease. They can splash and burn badly.
  • The grease temperature gets hotter and hotter, so somewhere in the next batch you will need to turn down the heat a tiny bit so your bacon doesn't burn.
  • SAVE THE GREASE!!! Once it has cooled, scrape it into a reusable plastic container and store in the fridge.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Broccoli Slaw Salad

My husband usually grills on Thursdays, because I teach until late and we don't really want to eat dinner at 8:15. Plus, I often don't feel like cooking when I get home, and that leads to fast food. Bad ending. So, during the summer months, I just plan that my husband grills, and he gets good practice. More difficult than finding something to grill is finding side dishes that hold up well for several hours, and can be made completely ahead of time. None of this 'toss with dressing just before serving', or anything like that. Completely made ahead. One recipe I came up with is this quinoa salad. Its light, refreshing, zippy, and perfect for a hot day and grilled meats.
Another dish I remembered was one I had at a friend's house quite a while ago. Raw broccoli, tossed in a cole slaw dressing, topped with crumbled bacon. I didn't have the recipe but I knew I had the components. If you have mayonnaise in your fridge you can make it up. The flavors play so well together you will find yourself staring at an empty plate and wondering how it was possible that you like broccoli that much. Confession: I was actually nibbling on the broccoli while I was making up another side dish. It might be possible that I have never composed a sentence like that. For an added flavoring, reserve the bacon grease and toss the broccoli in it after you have dressed it with the cole slaw dressing. Magical.

Broccoli Slaw

4 cups broccoli, chopped into small pieces

2 slices bacon, cooked and roughly chopped (reserve grease)

Cole Slaw dressing:
This makes a little more than you need, but everybody's tastes are different. You might like a little more than I do. 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons vinegar (white, red wine, apple cider, but not balsamic)
1 teaspoon celery salt (if you don't have any, plain salt is fine)
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine dressing ingredients. Toss 1/3 cup of dressing with broccoli. Adjust seasoning if necessary and add more dressing if you would like. Drizzle on 1 Tablespoon of reserved bacon grease. Top with chopped bacon.

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