Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Blast from the past

I gave a flute lesson here last night. After choosing my student's solo piece for an upcoming contest and playing through it once with her, slowly, I dropped a bomb. She is involved in her school's musical right now and she elected to be on stage rather than in the pit.

She plans on being an instrumental music major in college. I explained that when applying to schools, they do look at overall performance experience, but the bulk of it better be on her instrument. Makes sense, right? I told her that she needs to start being in the pit orchestra instead of on stage. I don't think she was very happy about that.

I pulled out a scrapbook I kept all the way through college and showed her that going back to 1986, I was in every the pit. Since I had the book out, I showed her all the articles and programs from various performances I did as a flautist.

After she left, I continued to relive my glory days and googled old friends and professors. One of the professors I googled was Lovell Ives, who was Director of Jazz Studies when I was at UWGB. I found something very interesting while reading the various hits for Professor Ives. Back in 1992, I was a part of the group that recorded "Go! You Packers! Go!" which is the Green Bay Packers fight song. Turns out that even as recently as this past football season, this recording gets played at every game (I assume only home games).

Lovell directed the Packer Band. I was principal flautist at UWGB and he needed a flute/piccolo player for the recording. I got paid $90 for a couple of hours of studio work and had a blast.

And there's still a piece of me out there, being played on a regular basis.

How cool is that?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bringing the taste of summer to the frozen tundra

It's cold. Damn cold. Have I mentioned that I absolutely LOATHE winter?

I hate to be chilly.

I had 6 meyer lemons in the fridge and a mango that I picked up Friday night. What to do...what to do...

I am going to imagine that it's July when I eat this.

Meyer Lemon & Mango Sorbet

1 1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
6 Meyer lemons, juiced (makes about 3/4 cup juice)
1 mango, diced and pureed

Put the water, sugar and zest in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Put in the fridge to chill.

Juice the lemons.

Puree the mango and lemon juice together. Put in the fridge to chill.

Once the simple syrup and mango/lemon puree are cold, mix them together and pour into your ice cream maker. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream maker is done, after 30 minutes or so, it should be really thick. Pour into a freezer bowl, cover and chill at least 2 hours. I let mine sit overnight.
Dig in. Pretend it's summer. Unless you can't because you were dumb enough to take your sorbet outside to take pictures in the snow. Because you're dumb. Really, really dumb.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lazy Sunday

The Man and I spent the bulk of the afternoon napping on the couches with the boys. It's so flippin' cold outside that we just didn't feel like going outdoors to do anything. I went at 7 AM to finish up the grocery shopping and the car said it was 7 degrees. SEVEN DEGREES. My face froze in the 15 feet it took to get from the car to the store and vice versa. That was enough for me.

While I was shopping, I spotted a good-looking beef roast, so I grabbed it up and figured I would make it for dinner. I dreamt on what I was going to do with it and here's what resulted.

Sheri's Beef Roast

A 2-pound boneless bottom round roast
12 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Using a sharp knife with a short blade, make 12 slits in the sides and top of the roast. In each slit, shove a garlic clove. Sprinkle all sides of the roast with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a VERY dash of cayenne. Let sit for a few minutes.

Put the olive oil in a skillet and fire it up. When the oil is hot, put the roast in the pan. Sear all sides to keep the juices inside and then get it out of the pan into your baking dish. Cover the baking dish and then put it in the oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Wine Sauce

2 tbsp butter
7 crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock
A pinch of salt
3 tbsp cornstarch

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onion and mushrooms; saute until mushrooms are soft. Add the garlic and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the red wine and then bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, add the beef stock and salt. Cook for 10 minutes, then whisk in the cornstarch. Reduce the heat and allow to thicken.

I served this with sour cream and chive smashed red potatoes and steamed broccoli. Another keeper.

And then again...

...maybe he doesn't quite get it.

Conversation at the grocery store:

The Man: "Look, honey!" He's waving a bag of chips. "These don't have transfats! You can eat these!"

Sheri: "Umm...honey?" Reads the back of the bag... "Read the bold print."

The Man, taking the bag, reads silently: "Oh."

The bag has in bold print, "Contains egg, milk, soy and wheat ingredients."

So where do you suppose he got "no transfats" out of "no wheat, barley, oats and rye?"

At least he was thinking of me while grabbing his junk food, right? :-)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

For us

For those of us who suffer with various chronic problems, there is Chronic Babe. Posted there is this link.

If you've got family and friends who just don't understand, read it.

Happy Saturday :-)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Comfort food

Yesterday, I was in serious need of comfort food. You see, The Man and I got into it a bit via IM in the morning about 2 things: my time on the computer/not going anywhere and him never being home.

Ever since I stopped drinking 7 years ago or so, I haven't been interested in going out with friends. Quite frankly, it's just not fun for me to sit there and watch everyone else "having a good time" while I sip my glass of water. So I just stay home so I don't have to feel out of place, a sore thumb, a red-headed stepchild. Well, my hair is red, anyway. :0)

The solution? The Man is going to check with his favorite watering hole if they can either get Sutter Home Fre or if I can bring in my own bottle. I know I would be willing to go out more if I had my own "alcohol" to drink.

I didn't quit drinking because I was an alcoholic or anything - I quit because after a Christmas party 7 years ago, my hiatal hernia flared up so bad that I missed nearly a week of work. From that point on, if I drank more than a sip of any alcohol, it burned for 2 days. It just isn't worth the pain - kinda like being gluten free!

So we worked it out. And I made a comforting dinner to celebrate. I am already regretting the lack of vegetables, but I will rectify that at lunch today.

Simple Cornish Hens

2 Cornish hens, cleaned
Sea Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Remove the giblets from the hens and then rinse well. Pat dry. Using shears, cut the backbone out of the hens so that you can lay them flat. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper; place skin-side down in the skillet. Brown both sides, then place in a roasting pan and put in the oven. Bake until the juices run clear when you pierce the birds with a knife, about 30 minutes.
We had ours with my favorite risotto. Well, without the spinach.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A taste test

A few weeks ago, I picked up a couple of "instant" quinoa dishes made by Seeds of Change. Tonight, I poached me a piece of salmon (yes, The Man went out to dinner with a friend tonight) and made the tomato basil quinoa blend.

It was pretty good. I'll buy it again. Added to the pretty good taste is the fact that it's certified organic, which makes me happy.

Speaking of organic, where the heck is my Natural Farms delivery? Hmm...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A rough few days

I am still so tired from Saturday that I am really surprised I don't have rug burns on my butt from it dragging on the floor. I guess jumping into the work week after a high-stress weekend wasn't the best idea, but I have put important stuff off to deal with the banquet and it's time to get back on track.

Yesterday, I worked from 8 AM to 7 PM, scarfed down a poached egg and a slice of toast, and crawled into bed.

Today, I worked from 8:30 AM to 6 PM, took a little more time for dinner by making a turkey burger with swiss, tomato, and lettuce, and some steak fries. And I am catching up on my blog-reading while tuning out the twit on TV. Oh - did I say that? My bad. Apologies for any offense.

The dishes are staring at me but I just don't care.

Too tired.

Going to bed.

Before I fall asleep sitting upright with the laptop on my lap.

Which wouldn't be the first time.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Quick recap and a new recipe

As far as I can tell, the banquet went off with very few glitches last night. I had a great time and actually made it to the end for a change. With energy to spare. I can't remember the last time I was up early (5:30) and managed to stay up until 1:30 AM without a headache, grumpiness and staring meanly at other people who still had energy themeslves.

I wasn't the only one amazed - The Man and my boss were, also.

The resort gave me a GF meal. Instead of the soup and salad, I received a huge fruit plate with cottage cheese. While the others ate their entree of chicken, beef filet (both in sauces), twiced-bake potato, and green beans/carrots, I had the GF version with a baked potato left uncut, a filet with no sauce, and the same veggies but with no seasoning. How wonderful to eat at a party and not want to curl up and go to sleep right after! And it was kind of cool to have my tablemates watch in envy as the banquet manager carried my food to me himself while the others had to wait for the cart.

Needless to say, I am a little wiped out. We slept until 8 and were on the road by 9, but driving was somewhat dicey due to some snow and sleet that swept through early that morning and continued on and off today. By noon, I was crashed on the couch with a headache and my boys. I woke up about 3, still with the headache, and decided I better eat something more than the half a protein bar I had for breakfast.

I rooted through the fridge to see what I could see and here's what I came up with tonight.

Clean out the Veggie Crisper Lasagna

Veggie layer:

4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 cup peeled and diced carrot
1 large onion, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp sea salt

Sauce layer:

1 29-oz can tomato sauce
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt

Other stuff:

6 Tinkyada lasagna noodles
2 balls mozzarella
Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel and chop the veggies and put them into a big bowl. Pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil over the top, the sea salt, and then toss to coat. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and then dump the veggies into the pan. Make sure they are in 1 even layer; if not, move some to a second pan. Place in the oven and roast until carmelized, about 30 minutes.

While the veggies are in the oven, start the sauce. Saute the garlic in the olive oil for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce and then add the basil and oregano. Stir and then reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer. Add salt to taste.

Grate the mozzarella. Pull out the wedge of parmesan and have your grater ready. Prepare your lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Rinse with cold water, then place between paper towels to dry off.

Layer the lasagna in a 8x10 baking dish**: sauce, 3 noodles, veggies, cheese....and again until you run out of space or out of layering stuff. Cheese should be the top layer. Once you get the last layer of cheese on, grate some parmesan on top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes after baking before cutting.

**When it's just me eating something, I make it pretty small. If making a standard 9x13, you'd probably want to double everything.

I am now going to submit to the headache that won't give up. Nighty-night, all.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Go Saints

As states the shirt owned by both The Man and The Stepson:

"My 2 favorite teams are the Packers and any team that places the Bears."

Last week, they rooted for the Seahawks.

Sunday, they root for the Saints.

This week, The Man's company, which is based in New Orleans, sent him a Saints jersey, since they know how he feels about the Bears. He wore it to work today. The location supervisor jokingly tried to send him home.

I will be in trouble if I don't say this, so GO SAINTS.

This just LOOKS painful, doesn't it?

That's because for me, it is.

I have short, stubby, snausage-like toes. So when I paint my toenails, I have to separate them or they will stick together as the polish dries. Because my toes don't like to be separated like this, they and also the bottom of my foot, like to cramp to make me miserable.

The stupid crap we women put ourselves through for beauty. I'd like to know who the heck is going to be looking at my feet, anyway. But I don't feel "dressed" when I am dressed fancy unless the toes are done.

Invasion of the Trophies and Other Tales

I think I may have mentioned in the past my company's award banquet, which is happening tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the place where I have the awards done and was shocked at the volume. They filled all available space in my SUV, including the passenger seat. If I didn't haul all the boxes in (well, The Man did that for me this afternoon), so I could condense and remove the awards of people not attending, The Man and our suitcase were going to have to ride an hour to the resort on top of the SUV.

So naturally, since I took the afternoon off of work, I spent 2 hours of it sorting and reboxing the trophies and plaques. But now The Man will be able to ride in style. And the living room looks like it has been invaded by the Trophy Army.

One thing about my company - they're great people, for the most part. I can't think of many companies that will let you drink all night, eat a bunch of food, and crash in a resort overnight ON THEIR DIME. Yes, they pay for it all, and they even allow us to bring a guest.

Last night, bored out of my tree after my wonderful hair chickie came to the house to color and trim my hair for tomorrow, I tried to read my favorite blogs. Something was whacked out with Blogger again because none of the blogspot blogs would open; I'd get an error message.

Which made me think even harder about tackling a web design program and moving my blog. Designing a web page is something I have been wanting to do for several years and now is my opportunity.

Be right back...I am making Shauna's GF bread and have to dump the dough into the heated pot...

OK. Timer is set for 30 minutes. Now, back to our story.

I emailed a former co-worker of mine, who just happens to be an IT guru. I asked her about Microsoft's Front Page and Adobe Dreamweaver. She recommended downloading the free trial of Dreamweaver and trying it out. Good suggestion - I'd hate to dump $400 on a program I can't figure out.

So I am working my way through the tutorial to see if I can turn the boring ol' Just Not Dinner into something that looks a lot, I guess. Plus I like the option of having exactly the layout I want and not being stuck within parameters of a standard blog template.

Time to put the first coat of paint on my toenails. Consider this a commercial break.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Frustration rant

Simple dinner plans this evening: twice-baked potatoes, pan-fried pork chops, canned lima beans for The Man, and brussel sprouts a la Orangette for me. So where does the frustration come in?

I get up by 6 AM every weekday. I putter around, check emails, etc., until The Man gets out of my way by going to work. Then I shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, make the bed, straighten up whatever's out of place throughout the house, scoop cat litter, do dishes when necessary, make myself a travel cup of chai tea, prepare lunch for myself, make up my face and curl my hair; added to today's schedule was taking out the stinky garbage and unpacking my groceries. Oh, and blogging. Because I don't have enough to do in the morning.

Then I go to work as an executive assistant to the highest-ranking officer of our company. I stress for 9 to 10 hours, depending on my workload.

Then I come home. Spend an hour making dinner. Give us a half hour to eat. Depending on what was served, anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to get the dishes done (no dishwasher, remember?). So figure me finally getting to truly relax for the first time all day at about 8:00 PM.

So I catch up on reading my favorite blogs, snatch a few chapters of whatever book I am reading, snuggle with my boys, or whatever for an hour or two before I go to bed to prepare for the start of the very same cycle the next day.

Same shit, different day.

My frustration comes in when I wonder why I get no help around here. Tonight I mentioned at about 7:30 that I supposed that I should get up and do the damn dishes - looked straight at The Man. Evidently, as is the case every night for the last 6 months or so (or longer if I don't choose to delude myself), the TV was more important. Ferris Bueller was on, you know. So I spent 35 minutes in the kitchen cleaning up the dinner that he helped eat and he's sound asleep on the couch.

Rant over.

Food, glorious food

While I would prefer to eat not only organically, but locally and seasonally as well, it's just not an option in this house. Why, do I hear you ask? Because #1-The Man won't eat what's in season in winter that isn't local, and (2) I live in the Midwest and am realistic. We are finally getting "normal" weather around here (read 'cold') and quite frankly, you ain't growing nothing in 13 degrees and ice.

Poor California farmers. Poor us for not being able to eat all that glorious food that was destroyed by Mother Nature, damn her fickle hide. But mostly, poor farmers. I can't imagine what it's like to have your entire crop wiped out in a matter of days.

At 6:45 this morning, my latest organics order was delivered.

Leeks, red potatoes, bananas, meyer lemons (a first for me), cherries, tomatoes, a clamshell of baby greens, oranges (or they might be grapefruit), and a butternut squash.

My stomach is growling.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Things you can do with GF bread that doesn't taste caca-pooey

(1) Have a poached egg on top of cheesy toast for breakfast.

(2) Have a PB&J sandwich that doesn't make you cringe.

(3) Make decent-tasting bread crumbs.

(4) Have a well-deserved BLT.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Mondays don't always suck

Granted, it's been my experience that Mondays do indeed suck. At least as far as hauling my ass out of bed and going to work for 9 hours is concerned. Mondays don't suck when I am on vacation or when some pretty good grub comes out of the kitchen.

So today, this Monday, it doesn't suck. I made apple cinnamon scones for my week's breakfasts and when I got home tonight, I cranked out some chicken quesadillas - purchased flour tortillas for The Man and fresh homemade corn ones for me.

Play it safe - make your own tortillas. Less worry that way. Besides, it's damn easy. Right now, I make them using a rolling pin, but a wonderful co-worker is giving me her cast iron tortilla press this weekend! She said it's never been used.

At 7:00 this morning, I was cranking out the scones. Not bad.

Apple Cinnamon Scones
Adapted from the Pamela's website

2 1/3 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup apple, chopped
4 tbsps butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the butter; cut in using a fork or a pastry blender. Peel, core and chop 2 medium-sized apples. Add the apples, egg and milk; stir until just combined.

I used an ice cream scoop to portion these, so I came up with 7 big even scones. Bake at 375 for 15 to 18 minutes (or until browned).

Chicken Quesadillas

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp mexican seasoning
Shredded cheese of your choice
Corn tortillas
Sour cream

Pour the olive oil into a skillet and then start preheating it. When it's hot, add the chicken breasts and cook until done. While the chicken is cooking, make your tortillas according to the directions on your package of masa harina. Note: I cook them in a dry skillet then cook them again in the oven when the quesadilla is put together.

Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan and set aside to cool for a bit. Then shred it with 2 forks. Place the shredded chicken in a bowl and then add the Mexican seasoning; toss to coat.

Shred your cheese. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place 1 tortilla on a baking sheet; spread a helping of chicken over the tortilla, then top with cheese. Place another tortilla on top. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are browned.

Top with salsa and sour cream or whatever you like. This probably sounds gross, but try it - you might like it - I mix together about 1/4 cup of salsa and about a tablespoon of sour cream and then dip into it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Even though my head is cracking in half...

...there must be dinner large enough to provide me with lunches at least a few days this week.

I haven't had a major headache/migraine in well over 2 months. I guess I was due. I have done nearly everything in my non-prescription drug arsenal to beat back the beast - ice, Advil, a half-assed neck massage provided by The Man (football was more important, I guess), peppermint essential oil on the temples and nape of my neck.

Still it exists.

So I had big plans to prepare and eat dinner (difficult when the brain is pounding like Thumper's foot on the ground in Bambi), do the dishes (as even severe brain pain does not induce The Man to help - yes, I am feeling a little pissy - sorry), take a shower to let our wonderful Revolution shower head pound on my skull and neck, and then crawl into my comfy bed with an extremely hard pillow and sleep the pain away.

Since going GF, I haven't had a migraine. I had honestly forgotten what it felt like and worse, forgotton what the warning signs were. I could have headed this off at the pass if I had been paying attention, but NO - I had to be playing around on the computer and not listening to the bod. Or watching what the cats were doing.

It's amazing what my boys do when they sense that something is wrong with their momma. Now that I am thinking about it, Vester was batting at the base of my skull above my neck three hours ago. Baby, not to be outdone, did his lovey-dovey thing (snuggling his head into me) up against my left temple a little while later.

What am I, stupid?

Anyway, we are under some sort of winter watch with freezing rain, sleet, etc., so I sure as hell wasn't driving to the store to get what I needed to make paella, which was the original plan for dinner. I told The Man this morning that I needed to use up some cheese in the fridge (I cleaned it out this morning) so we would be dining on the ultimate comfort food, macaroni and cheese, this evening.

Who knows - maybe a little comfort food will zap this headache.

And I am sure that staring at my laptop isn't helping. It's addictive, this blogging thing.

Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from The New Best Recipe

1 pound fusilli pasta (I use Tinkyada)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (don't use that bagged crap - take the time to shred a block)
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 cup Monteray Jack with Jalepenos, shredded
5 tbsp butter (recipe calls for unsalted but I only had regular lightly salted so I cut back on the salt near the end)
6 tbsp GF flour (I used cornstarch - DON'T repeat this mistake)
5 cups milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
8 oz ham, diced
1 cup frozen peas

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups GF breadcrumbs
3 tbsp butter

Combine topping ingredients together in a food processor.

Cook the pasta per the package directions; drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, preheat your oven't broiler. In a stock pot, heat the butter until foamy. Add the flour and stir well to combine. Cook the flour/butter mixture for a few minutes, then add the milk; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook at medium heat (stir, stir, stir) until it becomes as thick as heavy cream. Add 1 tsp salt, the cheese, mustard, ham, peas and pasta. Stir until everything is coated in the cheese mixture.

Pour the mac and cheese into a 9x13 pan; sprinkle with bread crumbs and broil until crumbs are toasty brown.

Very creamy, but kinda bland. Gonna have to play with this one a bit.

I am now left with a small unopened package of goat cheese, an unopened package of Manchego, half a brick of Chihuahua, some Asiago, and half a brick of Swiss. What to do with that?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Does anyone really want to know?

I know I saw it somewhere...

On someone's blog last weekend, I saw a post about bloggers revealing more about themselves on their blogs. Can't find the post I saw right now, which is driving me batshit.

However, I figured "why the hell not?" So here goes.

About Me
Or "More Than You Ever Wanted to Know about a Crazy Red-headed Cat Freak Who Cooks"

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Northeast Wisconsin) there was born a young female who appeared to be a quite-young version of her mother. This young female was named Sheri Lyn and was a first wedding anniversary gift to her parents (born 1 year to the day after their wedding - no mysterious early baby was she).

Sheri showed her enjoyment of certain pursuits early in life: she was known to raid her mother's frozen apple pie filling, strawberries, and other goodies and stash them under her bed until she was able to eat it all. She began reading a few short weeks into her kindergarten year of school and by third grade had read the entire C.S. Lewis "Lion, Witch & Wardrobe" series. She picked out "Hark, The Herald's Angels Sing" on her aunt's organ in the third grade.

Oh, and her most strange food craving, when she would eat a large volume of it at one time? BREAD. Go figure.

Unfortunately, her musical and educational pursuits allowed her to become a hermit. Nothing made her happier that to be playing an instrument (Mom, do you remember me hauling home that ancient bassoon and whaling on it until I figured it out?) or curled up anywhere comfortable with a good book. Playing outside had to be forced by her parental figures - even with a pool in the back yard and Lake Michigan merely a few blocks away.

She began to enjoy cooking about the time she began dying her naturally brunette hair a garish red - college. Each successive roommate would get to test more and more recipes made up in Sheri's head.

When she moved home after college, she realized that her parents would not enjoy the food she liked to cook, so she often accepted the afternoon and evening shifts at work so she wouldn't be asked to make dinner. Bet that one got past you guys, didn't it, Mom?

Sheri met her future husband, The Man, in an AOL chat room. By the way, at this juncture, The Man prefers to not be named. Unless you know me and therefore The Man, in which case you may speak his name yourself in place of any "The Mans" you read.

Cooking was shelved until the day she moved to Illinois to move in with The Man, where she again had her own kitchen to play in. As she learned about The Man's lack of taste buds, she learned to chop food extremely fine while using way-too-dull knives. She also learned that small town grocery stores don't carry SHIT.

After moving to a real house (previously the couple lived in a 2-bedroom duplex apartment), she began hoarding nice cutlery, quality appliances, and has recklessly indulged her need of kitchen tools and gadgetry, funky foods, and healthful eating.

Sheri is surrounded by The Man, The Stepson, and her two Hairdroppers. In other words -outnumbered by men. But she buys the food, damn it, so she will cook what she wants. They don't like it, they can go out because NONE of them can make anything more difficult than frozen pizza.

Did that sound a little bitchy? Ah...another side of Sheri. Hmm.

To this day, she is happier sitting on the couch reading while snuggling with her cats than going out-of-doors to do anything other than grocery shop.

And naturally, we took this picture at a bad angle. My nose really isn't that big.
God, am I vain or what.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A shopping excursion and a request

On my way home tonight, I decided to hit the grocery store (payday, you know). As I meandered up and down the aisles - I meander when I have finished in th GF section - I realized something important. I am no longer tempted by the gluten-containing formerly-nummy stuff on the shelves, endcaps, in the freezer, etc. When I can eat like I did last night, why do I need all that other stuff?

I think I have hit a milestone and am feeling pretty good about myself just now.

And for all you readers out there, I found out over at Gluten-Free By The Bay that it's De-Lurking Week (January 8th thru 12th).

This means you.

I would love to hear from the lurkers (and I am de-lurking myself at other sites at the same time) to see what they like, don't like, want to see more of, etc., here at Just Not Dinner.

Comment away!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Easy-Peasy Dinner for One

Another night where The Man has a dinner engagement for work. So...lucky, lucky me - I got to "stink up the house" with some favorites that he won't touch with a ten-foot fork.

Forgive me - I was in a groove (literally, as I was listening to the 80s channel on the XM radio in the kitchen while I cooked) and neglected to write down exactly what I was doing. So measurements are approximate.

Stinky food night - salmon, asiago, and asparagus LOL

Honey-Mustard Glazed Salmon for One

1 salmon filet
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a small baking dish that will hold your filet. Place the filet in the dish. Combine the honey and mustard; baste the salmon and put in the oven. Bake until done (15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your piece of fish) - it's done when it's no longer pink in the middle, if you're like me and like your fish cooked all the way through.

Easy Risotto for One

1/2 cup Arborio rice
2 to 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 grated Asiago cheese
1/4 cup onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
Heavy cream

Put about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small stock pot (big enough to hold about 2 1/2 cups of cooked rice). Start the fire on medium heat and then add the onion; saute until translucent. Add the garlic and rice; toss to coat and then give it a good couple of minutes to "toast" the rice. Add the wine; stir constantly until the wine is absorbed. Then start adding stock a half cup at a time. Pour in a half cup; stir occasionally until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Continue to do this until the broth is gone, the risotto is cooked and it's not soupy. Remove from the heat and add the cheese and a splash of heavy cream; stir well until combined and the cheese has melted.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dinner of champions

The Man has a business dinner tonight.

Pan-fried ribeye steak, a baked spud with butter, a glass of water, and a whole Dagoba dark chocolate bar.

The dinner of champions.

I bet I pay for the chocolate later.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Out of laziness comes...another pot of soup.

I bet you're thinking that all we eat in this house is soup.

While that's not the case, for some reason lately, I just want the whole "comfort food" feeling without a lot of slave labor.

I have been feeling like doing a whole lot of nothing for the past few weeks, which is why the Christmas decorations are still on display. I am hoping I get over this lethargy soon; I think part of it is due to preparing the company's annual banquet, which is in 2 weeks.

Anyway, I bought a bag of lentils a few weeks ago and since then, they have languished in the cabinet, waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. Several times, I have taken out the bag and set it on the counter, only to return it a few hours later after finding something else to cook or eat.

I decided since I haven't done crap all weekend but read blogs and rot my brain with TV, I could at least make something good for dinner that can also take care of this week's lunches. Again with the laziness - sheesh.

Lentils are new to both myself and The Man. He's willing to try them, which is all I can ask for. I promised grilled cheese if he hates this soup.

Ham, Potato & Lentil Soup


12 cups water
1 ham bone (mine was leftover from Christmas Eve; about an 11-pound ham)
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 celery ribs, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
A sprinkle of sea salt (remember that ham is salty enough on its own)

Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of hours. When the time is up, pour the soup through a sieve to remove all the aromatics (I suggest taking out the ham bone first LOL).

To make the soup:

1 ham stock recipe (above)
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery ribs, diced
3 good-sized potatoes, peeled and diced
A 1-pound bag of lentils
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme (I would imagine fresh is a heck of a lot better, but I wasn't going out in the rain)
A couple grinds of fresh black pepper
Diced ham (I bought a ham steak to add in because my ham bone had less meat than I thought).
2 tsp dried parsley (see my comment by the thyme)

Rinse and drain the lentils. Bring the stock to a boil, add the thyme, and then add the lentils; reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and potatoes. Simmer again for 30 minutes. Give the soup a few grinds of pepper.

Dice the ham and add to the soup, along with the parsley. Continue to simmer until the ham is heated through.

Serve with crusty bread (I had the teff no-knead bread tonight).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, Daddy

I am 35 years old and still call my father "Daddy."

Today is his 60th birthday and I can't be there.

Pain in the ass leaky basement.

Love you, Daddy - Happy Birthday. Have fun at your party.

GF Cinnamon Rolls

The TV got me again last night. I don't know what the heck I was "watching" as I was dozing off (removing the glasses will cause that when you're as blind as I am), but it put the thought of cinnamon rolls in my head. Mom makes awesome ones, but I sure can't eat those anymore. So as I headed toward sleep, I thought about how I could make them. Here's what I came up with.

GF Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:

3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp yeast
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup water

(Yes, another bastardization of the no-knead recipe)

Combine all ingredients. Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for about 3 hours. Then add about a cup of white rice flour to thicken it up so it resembles a gluten dough more closely. Put in the fridge for an hour.

Very carefully, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick between 2 pieces of wax paper. Time for the filling!

For the filling:

Softened butter
Cinnamon (to your taste)
Sugar (to your taste)
Raisins, dried currants, or whatever floats your boat

Slather a layer of butter on the rolled-out dough, leaving about 1/2 inch free around the perimeter of the dough. Sprinkle with sugar, then cinnamon, then with the dried fruit. Pat the fruit down so it sticks.

Very, VERY carefully, begin to roll the dough, starting at a long side. I used an offset spatula to gently loosen the dough from the wax paper about 2 inches in all the way down, rolled to that point, then loosened again, then rolled....Until I had this.

Slice the roll into 1/2 inch slices.

Grease a baking dish. Tuck the slices in the dish like this:

Cover and allow to rise again for another 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees until browned (about ____) minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before icing the rolls.

For the icing:

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp water or milk

Whisk together. How simple is that?

Once the rolls have cooled down and you have iced them, dig in!

For a first effort, they aren't bad. The dough isn't sweet enough, so I will have to add more sugar next time. Otherwise, not bad.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Dinner for one - again

Back when I started this blog, I told myself that I would post about any new food, recipe, whatever, that I made - be it good, bad or indifferent. Tonight's menu? I would rate this one as indifferent.

An experiment. I didn't know how it would turn out. I grabbed some stuff from the fridge, some stuff from the freezer, some stuff from the cabinet. For me, half the fun is combining stuff to see what can be created for a meal. So here's what I did tonight.

Cheesy Potatoes and White Fish for 2 (or 1 big eater)

1 good-sized russet potato, sliced into 1/4 inch slices (leave the skin on)
1/2 of a small block gruyere cheese, sliced
Roasted garlic olive oil
2 tbsp butter
Dried parsley
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 large piece of white fish (I have NO idea what type of fish I just ate - I got it from TCF and it was wrapped in white paper with no label - part of a previous cookbook box)
1/2 a lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle about a teaspoon of roasted garlic olive oil (hereafter known as RGOO because I am tired and lazy tonight) into a small baking dish; use a slice of potato to spread the oil around to cover the bottom of the dish. Then layer as follows: bottom layer is potatoes, then a drizzle of RGOO, the 4-5 slices of cheese, then a sprinkle of parsley. Repeat until you have used all of the potato slices. Over the top layer, sprinkle some sea salt and pepper. Cover with foil and put into the oven.

When the potatoes are starting to soften, put your fish in the oven. To prepare it, rub a little butter in the bottom of your baking dish; place your fish on the top. Squeeze a lemon half over the fish. Cut the butter into 4 pieces and place them evenly across the fish. Cover with foil and bake until the fish flakes with a fork.

When the fish flakes and the potatoes are tender, remove the foil from both. Let it cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to (1) let the cheese brown a bit and (2) sprinkle a little paprika on the fish, then do a quick baste with the butter in the bottom of the dish.

Like I said, this was "indifferent." The potatoes were okay but needed more cheese for my taste (Wisconsin born and bred, remember?) and more garlic flavor. Next time I will roast some garlic and get it in there too.

Because I didn't know what kind of fish I was going to be eating, thanks to the mysteries of butcher paper, I ended up overcooking the fish a little bit. Next time? More butter. I already increased it in the recipe.

When it rains...

...we get water in the basement.

I just spent the last half hour with our friend the shop-vac, sucking up rainwater.

I swear to God, if The Man comes up with yet another excuse as to why he hasn't painted the sealer on the walls of the basement, I am going to bean him with a rolling pin.

Here's hoping that I don't have to spend my evening waging a battle against water instead of conquering ingredients in my kitchen.

It's supposed to rain on and off all day today.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Fairly quick to prepare and nummy to boot, fajitas are a great weeknight dinner. Of course, The Man gets pissy when he sees me dump in sliced peppers and onions because then he has to pick around them to get at the meat. Remember, he's a damn picky eater and unless I grind up things like peppers and mushrooms to the point he doesn't know what they are, he won't eat them. What a pain in the rear.

Steak Fajitas

1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 distilled vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 ribeye steaks
1 onion, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1/2 orange pepper, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
Olive oil
Corn tortillas (easy to make scratch, but my next purchase will be a tortilla press)
Cheese of your choice

In a fairly large bowl, combine the spices, garlic, OJ and vinegar. Slice the steaks into 1/4- to 1/2 inch-wide strips; add the strips to the marinade. Stir to coat and set aside. Slice up the peppers and onion.

Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a skillet; start heating. Once the oil gets hot, drain the marinade from the steak strips and then put the strips in the pan (be careful - splatter city). Add the veggies; saute until the steak strips get to the doneness you prefer.

I like my veggies to have some bite to them, so I prefer them this way. If you want them soft, you could saute them first, then add the steak.

Serve on a corn tortilla with salsa and cheese.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A new pork chop recipe

The Man was still off of work today (because he knows what happens at the cousin's on New Year's Day), so I left him a honey-do list. On that list was to get some algae killer for the fish tank, straighten out the basement after the sewer-backup-fiasco, and take out some sort of meat for dinner. He took out pork chops.

On the way home from work, I couldn't decide what I was going to do with them. Barbecue sauce? Broil? By the time I got home, I knew. And this is a very short drive, so be impressed LOL

We had ours with with baby red potatoes that I roasted with onions and roasted garlic olive oil. I added a salad (The Man claims that lettuce makes him gag - whatever).

Get the spuds in the oven first, because the chops don't take very long.

Breaded Pork Chops

1 1/2 cups GF bread crumbs (I used an old loaf of no-knead bread)
1 1/2 tbsps dried parsley
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
3 butterflied pork chops
Olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

In a bowl wide enough to accommodate the dredging of your chops, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, onion powder, paprika, and garlic powder; set aside. Sprinkle sea salt over the pork chops; add a few grinds from the peppermill.

Whisk together the egg and milk in a wide bowl (same reason as above).

Put about 1/4 cup of olive oil in the bottom of a skillet; fire up the heat. While the pan is heating, dip each pork chop into the egg, then dredge them in the bread crumbs. Place into the hot skillet and cover, flipping them occasionally and cooking until done (I usually stick a thermometer in the thickest part of the thickest pork chop to make sure they're done - 165 degrees or thereabouts).

Keep the heat relatively low or you are going to burn the hell out of them. They cook pretty quick, depending on how thick your chops are. Mine were done in about 10 minutes.

I have a picture, but flickr isn't cooperating right now.