Sunday, June 24, 2007

Goodie night

Oh, my.

I had a plan. The Gidge had crashed, allowing me to do what I wanted within reason (as she will wake up and follow me wherever I go). So I pulled out the Kinnikinnick pizza crusts and made my favorite pizza (olive oil, tomato, fresh basil, green onion, fresh mozzarella). While they were baking, I prepared part of my most important meal of the day - dessert.

On my counter sat some bananas. In my freezer was good vanilla ice cream. In my cupboard resided 6 ounces of milk chocolate and 6 ounces of good dark chocolate.

Wheels turned. Smoke rolled. And I decided to make a carmelized banana sundae with hot fudge sauce and macadamia nuts. Oh, and toasted coconut. So it was kind of a tropical thing I had going on. With yummy chocolate.

Oh my.

The Man will never buy hot fudge sauce in a jar again, thanks to the recipe I found here. I used half dark chocolate and half milk chocolate because it's what I had.

And since I was raised in the city that claims to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae, it felt a little like home.

Sorry about the really bad picture - I had several spoonfuls in my face before I realized that I wanted to take a picture. And since I had a cold mouthful of ice cream, I could only use one hand to hold the camera (Ever do that? Shovel something cold in your mouth and hold your hand to your closed lips like it's going to HELP WARM IT UP?)

I may not eat again for days.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A new cookbook

Several weeks ago, a publishing company sent me a cookbook to try - Eat Well, Feel Well by Kendall Conrad.

Normally, I pour through a cookbook and stick post-it notes all over the place to mark things I want to try. Some of these recipes look absolutely wonderful. However, 'round these here parts, cashews cost a pretty penny, if you want to get decent ones. And I rarely settle for substandard food unless I absolutely have to. A lot of these recipes call for cashews.

So I have a few things marked that are not cashew-based that I plan to try. The plan that these recipes are based on makes a ton of sense. Anyone who has a digestive condition that won't subside could benefit from the information in this book.

Ahh...I spy the coconut cake recipe. Because my men hate coconut, this would be ALL FOR ME. Stay tuned for this one. Or maybe the tarte tatin. We have an eenyty-meeny-miney-moe situtation here, folks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Two keepers

I made the aborted Father's Day dinner last night for The Man, his friend, and his friend's son. Both recipes, found on the Food Network's website, received a huge thumbs-up from each of them.

The burgers I made are Tyler Florence's Stuffed Bacon Cheeseburgers. I exchanged the monterey jack with co-jack cheese (my great grandma lived right across the street from the cheese factory in Colby, WI so naturally, I love the stuff) and added 1/2 tsp of onion powder to the meat.

GLUTEN FREE ONION RINGS! Yes, you must try these. Oh my goodness. I swapped the regular beer out with Redbridge and added 1/4 tsp salt into the batter. All three gluten-eaters gobbled them up.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Blooms and lightning bugs

I was out watering my flower and vegetable gardens this morning and took time to smell the flowers. I thought I'd share some of them with you.

Tonight Gidget met lightning bugs for the first time. She didn't know if she wanted to watch them or chase the frisbee. The bugs won.

She was supposed to get groomed last night, but the groomer got hung up with another dog that was extremely matted. So she came today and I had her go as short as was safe for The Gidge. She's nekkid now. The groomer put bows on her ears (which The Gidge promptly dispatched) so she looked like a girl dog instead of a boy dog.

We've had a few laughs over that.

I had big plans for The Man's Father's Day dinner, but he chose to be elsewhere. Which worked out okay since I am getting over a migraine that hit this afternoon, most likely due to the heat, which I don't handle well. So hopefully, I will have belated Father's Day yum pictures for you tomorrow.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Show & Tell

I love my stove (basically a 2-year-old version of this). I got it to replace my first Kitchenaid stove, which died on me less than 2 weeks before The Stepson's junior high graduation party. Oh, the horror. Add the limping-along fridge into that mix and you get 2 new appliances.

One of the best parts of my stove is one that rarely gets used.

Looks like a normal stove grate, right?

Shazaam! It's a wok ring. Handy, huh?

I whipped together a quick and simple stir fry for dinner tonight, since The Gidge didn't give me any other option. The Man has batting practice and TWO softball games, so I was on my own for dinner. He wouldn't eat this, anyway.

Slightly untraditional in my veggie choices, but it's what I had.

Quick Chicken Stir Fry

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 zucchini, sliced
1 8 oz package button mushrooms
6 green onions, sliced
1 small package snow peas
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp + 1/4 cup water
1/8 cup GF tamari sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat your wok (or large skillet) over high heat. Add the olive oil; when the oil is hot, add the chicken. Cook over high heat, stirring often, until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside.

Place the veggies into the wok and cook until softened (doesn't take long!). Add 1/4 cup water to help steam the veggies. When the veggies are softened to your liking, add the chicken back into the wok. Turn off the heat.

Combine the cornstarch, tamari and remaining 2 tbsp water in a small bowl. Pour over the food in the wok; toss to coat. Serve over white or brown rice.

And now....

I am so proud . About 2 weeks ago, I hung bells on the doorknob to the back door, which leads to the enclosed porch, and by the back-back door, which leads to the backyard.

Tonight, The Gidge rang the bells on the back door to go out.

Now, if I could just get her to stop dining in the a la carte line. That's her to the left, right after I yelled at her for snacking.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Long summery days

This weekend, we got some stuff done around here. The Man mowed the grass twice (we hate bagging), cleaned the back porch, and laid more sand down on the brick patio. He also caught up the laundry.

The Stepson got gas money in exchange for washing my SUV, inside and out, and cleaning off my clotheslines.

I weeded, watered, thinned out onions, and cleaned the house. And basked in my little empire by taking a 4 hour nap with the Gidge this afternoon. So now my butt is dragging on the floor and she's totally fired up.

I had taken out a beef roast to make for dinner tonight, but naturally The Man screwed up those plans by making OTHER plans to go to a friend's house to watch the Sopranos. Because, you know, you need to hang out for 2 hours before the show starts. So I put the roast into the fridge for tomorrow and rooted through the cabinets and fridge to see what I could find to eat. After grabbing bags and boxes, I got to work. And if it tasted like crap, well, there was always cheesecake!

I will have to upload the picture later; Flickr is being a PITA.

Fusilli with Two Beans

8 oz fusilli pasta (I use Tinkyada)
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (retain juice)
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/2 a green pepper, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea Salt
1/4 cup pecorino romano, finely grated
1 tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Preheat a skillet over medium heat; add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and green pepper; saute until just beginning to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a good pinch of salt; stir.

Drain the beans. Add them to the skillet; reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, just to heat the beans through. Pour the pasta into the skillet, along with the basil and pecorino romano. Toss gently to coat and serve.

And no, I didn't need to eat cheesecake for dinner. Why is it that very often, the most spontaneous, come-out-of-your-butt recipes taste better than something you've slaved over for hours?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Give, damn it

Gidget loves to play fetch.

We're working on the "give" portion of that entertainment.

I was mean and faked throwing the ball down the hallway, our preferred Fetch location, but instead pitched it into her crate. Photo op, you know? So she gave me a great shot of her butt. My sister used to do stuff like that.

In this last picture, you'll notice Baby in the background, under the table. Keeping an eye on things so that he can haul ass if the game gets too close.

Would you like to spend a few minutes in the JND kitchen?

Well, if you're reading this, I guess you do.

First of all, I'd like to say that this is my 200th post. Holy old cow. Who knew I'd have 200 things to say to the internet?

Back to our regularly scheduled program.

While making what I was making this morning, it occurred to me that a lot of people I know are usually interested in finding out what it's like to cook or bake with the 2 cats and a dog that are the real rulers in this house. So, while I was writing down what I was doing, I made little notes about what was happening outside the recipe.

So if anyone really wants to know what it's like to cook in a house with spoiled-rotten animals, here you go.

Key Lime Cheesecake Squares with Gingersnap Crust

8 oz gingersnap cookies (I used Mi-Del)

4 tbsp butter, melted

30 oz cream cheese (room temperature)

2 pounds key limes (equal to 1/2 cup key lime juice)

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs (room temperature)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray down a 9x9x2 pan with cooking spray. Wipe cooking spray off the wall because the dog quietly came up behind you and barked as loud as she could, scaring the crap out of you.

Place the gingersnaps into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Return the cat to the floor after he jumps up to see what you are doing. Turn around and place the butter in a bowl. Yell "no" at the dog when she bites your toe HARD. Curse profusely and limp to the microwave; place the bowl with the butter in the microwave and nuke until melted. Neglect to use your mental rearview mirror when removing the bowl from the microwave; turn around and step on a cat's tail. Pour the butter into the cookie crumbs; pulse the food processor until well combined. Give the cat a treat to apologize for possibly maiming him for life.

Pour the cookie crust mixture into the prepared pan and pat down evenly using a spatula. Step over the dog when turning around to place it in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Breathe a sigh of relief that it made it into the oven safely. You don't have another package of cookies if you have to start over.

When the crust has baked for 20 minutes, remove and place on a rack to cool. As soon as you have done that, head to the fridge to take out the cream cheese and eggs so they can come to room temperature. Step over 3 animals on your trip across the 4 feet from the oven to the fridge.

Important note - place the baked crust on your back porch so the cats can't eat it on you. It is also beneficial to do this so that it cools quicker. The crust must be completely cooled before you can pour in the filling.

Once the crust has cooled completely and the cream cheese and eggs have come to room temperature, you can begin making the filling. Pull the stand mixer out from the corner of the counter. Watch the cat jump up and sneak into the space where the mixer was. Sigh and grab him, placing him on the floor after a quick cuddle. Watch him jump up again, immediately. Shrug and get on with it.

Place the cream cheese into the mixer bowl and mix on low, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the cheese is smooth. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Add in one egg at a time, beating each time until the egg is completely incorporated (ooh, big word). Turn off the mixer. Warn the cat about what will happen if he eats the cheesecake filling.

Good lord, I have to juice about 50 key limes. This is going to suck.

Slice all the limes in half. Chase the cat, who took off with one. Get back to the counter in time to separate the other cat and the dog, who are having a hiss-bark match. Juice the limes, taking short pauses to yell at the dog to leave the damn cats alone. When done, you should have 1/2 cup of key lime juice and a sore throat.

Add the sugar to the cheese and mix on low. Slowly add the vanilla and key lime juice. Once all ingredients are mixed in, turn off the mixer. Since the cat is now eyeing the bowl and licking his chops, remind him of his mortal danger if he sticks his face in the filling.

Pour the cheesecake filling onto the prepared crust. Place the pan into a roasting pan and carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up the cheesecake pan. Do not get the cheesecake wet! Lock the animals in another room because if you drop this taking it to the oven, it ain't gonna be pretty.

Bake at 350 for about an hour, or until the middle jiggles slightly when the pan is shaken. Get the dog out of the way (she's napping sweetly right in front of the stove) and carefully take the pan out of the oven. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and set on a rack to cool for an hour. Hang out in the kitchen during this period to make sure the cats don't add cheesecake to their food regimen. Then move it to the fridge to chill for at least 8 hours before cutting into squares.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A long, but not long enough, week

Why don't I feel like I am finishing up a week of vacation from work? I think I need a another week to recover from this one.

First of all, I did a bunch of yard work last weekend. Except for trimming the 2 big bushes on the corners of our house, because The Man said he'd take care of it on Memorial Day after the parade.


On Tuesday, I helped plant flowers at the cemetary. It was damn hot out there.

Wednesday, I was a lazy slug.

Thursday will remain in my mind for a while. After trimming those bushes that The Man promised to take care of, my right arm and hand decided to cease function for a while. So I took The Gidge for a walkie. And then we went to the vet for our week-late round of shots. The little tank now weighs 6 pounds, 4 ounces. The Lyme Disease shot was given in her left rear leg and the vet warned me she's be sore. What he didn't tell me was that she wasn't going to be able to walk and whenever she tried that, or even just tried to MOVE, she would cry and whimper. Which brought tears to my eyes. I am such a wuss. She slept all day and even Baby curled up as close as he was willing to get, just to keep an eye on her. By midnight, she was getting a little more fired up and her leg started to work again. Every hour after that, she was up. So I didn't sleep from midnight on. Good thing I didn't have to go to work in the morning.

Friday was cherry-almond-vanilla muffin day. Once upon a time, I made really awesome blueberry power muffins from a recipe I got from Cooking Light. Friday morning, on no sleep, I decided to convert the recipe to gluten free. Obviously, because there isn't a picture and I haven't posted a recipe, I should have just tried to take a nap. The taste was wonderful, but they were heavy as bricks. Back to the drawing board on that one.

Today, The Man woke up sick. Great. Why is it that most men whine like babies when they're not feeling well? "Honey, will you make me a poached egg and toast?" "Honey, will you do this?" "Honey, will you do that?" Gack.

I made an awesome dinner, though. And it's all for me since he's on the popsicle and ice water diet today. I grabbed what was in the fridge, added a few things from the garden, and rocked my world.

Honey-Dijon Sauced Roasted Vegetables with Orange Roughy

For the vegetables:

2 zucchini, cut into 2-3" strips

1 leek, cut into thirds and rinsed well

10 grape tomatoes, cut into halves

10 baby red potatoes, cut into halves

1 green pepper (or 2 little ones from my garden!), cut into halves and then strips

2-3 tbsp olive oil

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

For the fish:

1 pound orange roughy fillets

1/4 tsp paprika

For the sauce:

1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp tupelo honey

1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare all the vegetables and place all except the tomatoes into a 9x13 baking dish. Add olive oil, salt and pepper, and then toss to coat. Place into the oven and bake for about an hour, until vegetables begin to brown and potatoes are fork-tender.

While the veggies are roasting, make the sauce by combining all sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisking well.

When the veggies are done, remove from the oven. Add the tomatoes and sauce; toss gently to coat. Place the orange roughy fillets on top of the veggies and then sprinkle them with the paprika. Cover with foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, or until it flakes easily with a fork