Sunday, July 22, 2007

Necessity is the mother of invention

I finished making the last of the cherry jam this morning and also did 2 batches of blueberry. You can imagine the color of the skin around my fingernails after all that - a nice purple. So I painted my nails lavender to set it off. I can't remember the last time I painted my fingernails - I know it was well before we brought The Gidge home. There was a time where I had them done every 2 weeks without fail, but I found that there are more important things to spend my money on than that. Namely, good food for me and the zoo. And The Man, I guess LOL

Blog Title Reason #1:

No matter what I tried, I could not keep The Gidge out of the cat boxes. Yesterday morning, I finally went and bought 2 baby gates to block off the bedroom with the secondary litter box and also the second bedroom, which is where she likes to "go" when she's being a BAD DOG.

I also bought 3 window screens, some screws, and L brackets. The Man thought I was nuts, but the guy at Ace Hardware thinks I should patent this idea. When I got home with my loot, I screwed the screens together, put the brackets on to resemble feet, stretched the side screens as far as they'd go, and set it in place.

I then trained Baby and Vester that it's okay to jump over the baby gates and the screens by throwing treats and favorite toys inside until they got in and out easily.

I rule - The Man drools.

Blog Title Reason #2:

Once again, I found a recipe to tweak on Epicurious, but I didn't have an ingredient. So I substituted. I searched all over the fridge and cabinets to come up with something to use, but this was all I could find. You'll figure it out when you get that far, believe me.

Sometimes I scare me. Actually, most of the time I scare me.

Orange Roughy with Dijon-Butter Sauce
Based on a recipe on

1 pound orange roughy fillets
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp lemonade
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan and place the fillets inside. Bake in the oven until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 10-15 minutes (depending on the size and thickness of the fillets).

Place the butter, mustard, worcestershire, and lemonade in small saucepan; heat over low heat until butter is melted and the ingredients have been whisked together to make a sauce. Remove from the heat and add the parsley.

Plate the fish and pour the desired amount of sauce over.

Yes, I like a little potato with my sour cream :-)~

Lemonade isn't just for drinking with vodka anymore...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Note to self

Buy a cherry pitter before attempting another batch of cherry jam.

My poor fingers.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Worth waiting for

A hellish week for cooking. Storms every evening, downpours. Hot as Hades. I just didn't have the motivation to cook anything, even in the microwave! Even with my new cookware! The most I made to break it in was a patty melt last night. For the most part, I have been existing on sandwiches made with my new favorite bread (see previous post).

Until this evening.

I found the original recipe online this morning at I spend a lot of time on this site and Food Network's, but rarely make any recipes as written. However, on a side note, if you like sweet barbecue sauce, you gotta try this one (I put it on country pork ribs last Sunday and Oh. My. God.).

Now, back to my original thoughts. I stewed and salivated over my imagined dinner all through work. I got sidetracked by a trip to PetCo (20 minutes one way), so including some grocery shopping, I didn't get home until nearly 7 PM. Kind of late to start dinner, especially when you have a puppy and two annoyed cats all looking for attention from their momma.

But I decided I would just attempt to stay up later than normal (I hate going to bed with a full tummy because I sleep miserably) and stick with the plan. And my heavens, was it worth not cooking all week to be able to eat this tonight.

Poached Eggs on Salmon Hash

Based on a recipe from Bon Appetit on Epicurious

4 ounces smoked salmon, roughly chopped

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup green pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp sour cream

1 tbsp prepared horseradish

1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

3 cups frozen hash browns

2 eggs



Melt the butter and the oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the hash browns, onion, green pepper, and garlic; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper (a pinch will do unless you're a salt fiend, which I am not). Cook the potato mixture until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.

Poach the 2 eggs. If you want a fool-proof method, use this. It has never failed me.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, horseradish, and dijon mustard. Add this mixture and the salmon to the skillet. Toss with the potatoes and cook until just heated through, about 2 minutes.

Split the potato mixture between 2 plates. Top each mound with a poached egg and a grind or two of fresh cracked pepper.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

More bread

Yesterday afternoon, I started to make a double batch of the no-knead bread recipe (it makes a larger, taller loaf that way) and decided to veer off a bit (well, more than a bit). I only had one slice with some homemade blueberry jam at about 9 last night, so I plan to have one or two with breakfast so I can see if I really like it. The little taste I had indicated that I will.

Update 7/8/07 2:20 PM - I had two slices as toast for breakfast and 2 slices untoasted in a sandwich for lunch. Score! It has a good texture although denser than gluten bread. It tastes great with ham :-) I will see what it's like tomorrow after another day on the counter.

I have no idea what to call it, so this is it:

Pretty Good Sandwich Bread

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup potato starch

3/4 cup tapioca starch

1/4 cup flaxseed meal

1/2 cup cornstarch

2 tsp salt

2 1/2 tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tsp yeast

2 cups lukewarm water

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the sorghum flour, buckwheat flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, flaxseed meal, cornstarch, salt, sugar, xanthan gum, and yeast in the bowl of your mixer. Whirr a few times to blend. With the mixer on low, slowly add the olive oil and then the water. Once all added, increase the mixer's speed to high for 3 minutes. The dough will be fairly thick and sticky.

Pour the dough into the prepared loaf pan, cover with foil, and place in the oven; allow to rise for an hour and a half. Remove the foil and increase the heat to 375 degrees. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown while baking, cover with foil.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Gidge gets a point across

No recipe tonight, I'm afraid. I pulled chicken out of the freezer to thaw, but am uninspired to do anything with it. So I am making myself a quick steak sandwich and fries for dinner.

I thought of something funny that happened last week that I thought I would share instead.

A week ago this past Thursday at lunchtime, I was at home letting Gidget out for her potty break. So I was standing in the backyard.

I should probably mention that since going gluten free at the end of October 2006, I have dropped some weight. Enough weight that all of my pants are at least two sizes too big. I should also mention that we live on a corner lot on a fairly busy street.

So, as I was saying, I was standing in the backyard, praising my girl for doing her business. Usually, I have a treat to give her, but I forgot to grab one. She came running to get the treat I didn't have, and was unhappy with me when I didn't deliver. The Gidge grabbed the cuff of my capri pants in her teeth.

And bared my ass to the neighborhood.

So. I hitched up my pants and called The Man to let him know that I would be hitting the mall for new clothing after work. Point taken, Gidge.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Using what I have

I hope everyone had an uneventful holiday - all body parts intact, all car parts intact, no visits to the local jail, no visits to the local hospital, no glutening, etc.

This was my first GF holiday where I had to go somewhere else to eat (well, that I can think of right now, anyway). Every year we go to this same house and everyone brings a dish to pass, while the hosts take care of the hamburgers, hot dogs and brats. I planned ahead by bringing my toasted Grandma Ferdon's hamburger bun wrapped in foil and a caprese salad, so I knew I could have something other than a burger.

The guy at the grill just happens to be a good friend of The Man, so he already knows (if not understands) what I have to do to eat. He graciously gave me the first burger off the grill, before he started scooping the rest onto the hamburger buns that waited a table away.

So I had a hamburger and a big scoop of caprese salad (which disappeared quickly, by the way). I spied the fresh fruit trays sitting a short distance away from Mrs. M's baked beans. I snaked some grapes, raspberries and melon while eyeballing those beans.

I love homemade baked beans. Really, really love them. Mrs, M's beans run neck-and-neck with the ones my parents make. And GACK to the canned ones, IMHO.

I must have been standing there staring for a while because Mrs. M. walked over to see if I needed anything. I explained my issue and asked if she would be willing to tell me exactly what she put in them. Not only did she list the ingredients, she told me brand names of what she used. Holy crap - I could eat them! Even the bacon she used was gluten free.

Someone up there is looking out for me. Hi, Nana J!

So, I ate really well. Things were going swimmingly until I realized that the back of my head was being fried by the mid-afternoon sun. This was not a good thing, and not because of sunburn (I am white as a ghost on purpose - I know too many people that have had skin cancer removed, so I load up on the sunblock if I am going outside after 10 AM). Sure enough, a half hour after moving into the shade, I was slammed with a migraine. So I hopped in the car and drive the 3 blocks home (no snide comments LOL we had a big cooler and food to bring).

Naturally, I had no Relpax in the house, so I ate 1000 mg of ibuprofen, ate a carton of yogurt to make sure it didn't rip my insides apart, and crawled into bed with The Gidge. Naturally, she didn't cooperate. Barked up a storm. So I strapped an ice pack to my head and took her outside to play fetch until she crashed. FOUR HOURS LATER.

This morning, I ran an errand for my mother (sorry mom, no dice on the dress) and got back just in time to say good-bye to The Man, who was heading to the Dells area in Wisconsin with a couple of friends. Their mission? I quote: "We're going to check on the pontoon boat." Whatever. We all know that they're going to be ON the pontoon boat in the lake with a cooler of beer. LOL

It's just me, The Gidge, and my boys. We napped all afternoon and then I started planning my dinner, since I ate a large omelet for a late breakfast (I was starving when we woke up around 3). I went down to our chest freezer to see what I have meatwise and ended up cleaning the thing out while I thought about what I wanted to eat. I decided to check out the garden and hooked up The Gidge to her lead. Out we went to see what we could see (and pee 4 times, in Gidget's case). I came in with a head of broccoli that should have been eaten 2 days ago, 10 green beans, 10 cherry tomatoes, and a fistful of parsley. What the heck could I do with that?

I set my bounty in a colander in the sink under running water and started rummaging through my cabinets. I found a 3-oz package of tuna, half a package of Tinkyada penne, half a head of garlic, and some red pepper flakes. And viola - we have dinner!

My ingredient measures are literally what I had in the house, so feel free to adjust as you like.

Garden Bounty Pasta

6 ounces GF penne pasta (or whatever you have)
3 oz package tuna packed in water
10 green beans, cleaned and cut in half
10 cherry tomatoes, cleaned and cut in half
1 small head broccoli, cleaned and cut into florets
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tbsp fresh minced parsley
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a stock pot. Add a good pinch of salt. Make an ice water bath in another bowl and set near the stove (6 cups water, lots of ice). Place the broccoli and green beans in the boiling water and let them blanch for 2 minutes, then remove them from the pot and plunge them directly into the ice bath. Once cool, drain the broccoli and beans on a paper towel and set aside.

Bring the same pot of water back to a boil (I don't know about you, but I know a lot of nutrients end up in the boiling water, so I like to reuse it for my pasta. If you don't want to do this, start a fresh pot) and prepare the pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Turn off the heat - you want to infuse the oil but not burn the pepper and garlic. When the pasta is cooked and draining (SAVE 4 TBSP OF THE PASTA WATER), fire up the heat under the skillet again and add the broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, and tuna. Add the reserved pasta water. Add the drained pasta and toss all together. Remove from the heat and add the parsley and cheese. Toss again and serve with crusty bread and butter.

Well, the bread should be crusty. If the butter is crusty, you might want to throw it out.


I'm now going to try to find the K-Too chocolate sandwich cookies I have stashed around here somewhere. Doesn't an "Oreo" Blizzard-like item sound dang good right now?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Spoiled rotten

My favorite fetch toy.

Believe it or not, I can carry this thing!

I has a new house.

I has a pink hat that says my name (Daddy calls me Princess Piddles).

It's all Ina's fault

I watch a lot of Food Network. I mean, A LOT. We're talking that's what is on the tube whenever I am in front of it. Except when I am trying to go to sleep, in which case I find something on the History Channel, because I will pay attention to the Food Network and therefore not sleep.

Several times lately, Ina Garten's show, Barefoot Contessa, has featured her Pooch Party, in which she makes chicken sausages with green peppers and onions and potato salad. Now that The Gidge is on the mend, I can actually spend some time with my stomach's wants and needs. Right now, it needs sausage and potato salad.

I don't know of a reputable butcher in this area that might have good-quality chicken sausage, so I went with what I knew to be gluten free - Johnsonville Italian Sausage.

I am pretty picky when it comes to potato salad. I only like my mother's version. I have tried everyone else's and just keep coming back to mom's. However, that doesn't stop me from tweaking it a little, right?

Seeing as I didn't start this venture until after 4 PM, I am just sitting down to eat as I type this. After boiling my spuds and eggs and getting them on ice to cool, I ran to Petco and made a few purchases. Then I got down to business.

Potato Salad a la Ina Garten
A variation of my mother's recipe with a few tweaks from Ina's recipe

5 medium to large red potatoes, boiled whole and unpeeled
2 large eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup good mayo
1/4 cup Miracle Whip
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 heaping tbsp fresh minced dill
Salt and pepper

Hard-boil the eggs in your preferred manner. Drain and fill the pan or bowl with ice, enough to completely cover the eggs so they cool quickly.

Place the potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with water. Sprinkle with a little salt and heat on high until boiling; cook until just fork tender (30 minutes or so, depending on the size of your potatoes. If they're smaller, poke them at 20 minutes to check). Drain into a colander and place on top of the pot you used to save counter space; cover the potatoes with ice and set aside.

When the potatoes and eggs are cool, you can begin (trust me, you don't ever want to place a mayo-based dressing on potatoes that are too warm. I have found this out the hard way and paid for it), Chop the potatoes into chunks the size of your thumb and place them into a large bowl. Chop the eggs into smaller pieces and place in the bowl with the potatoes. Add the carrots, celery and onions and set aside.

In a smaller bowl, combine the mayo, Miracle Whip, mustards, vinegar, sugar, and dill. Stir well. Pour over the potatoes and vegetables and toss gently to coat. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Before serving, add salt and pepper to taste.

Man, did this hit the spot! Naturally, I started shoveling it in before I remembered to take a picture. Hence, the fork in the shots.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Nectarines and plums and other miscellany

I am behaving and cute as hell.

We had a rough weekend with The Gidge - she got into something (don't know what), which upset her tummy a little. Well, a lot. She just had her first normal meal since Thursday and I am crossing my fingers that her little butt behaves. So far, so good.

However, she personally is an uncooperative as ever. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

I am not behaving and am channeling Demon Dog.

I have the woman thing going on. Every month, it gets worse. So at my next obgyn appointment, the doc and I are going to have a serious discussion about solutions without drugs. I am just not comfortable putting that stuff in my body any more.

I haven't cooked much - well, other than rice and boiled hamburger for The Gidge over the past few days. So I made up for some of that today with a loaf of bread from a Breads By Anna mix and a nectarine and plum upside-down cake. I had a yummy sandwich and a wedge of honeydew melon for lunch and a slice of cake for dinner.

I haven't cleaned either. Don't come over. It's embarrassing. I am normally Ms. Anal when it comes to keeping the house clean, but for some reason, I just don't wanna. Going to have to do something about that tomorrow. Maybe.

I am on vacation again this week. The Man is off with me on Thursday and Friday, so maybe we can get some couple-time-without-the-dog-and-the-cats at some point.

Man, am I whiny. I will get over it, I promise. I don't handle pain well. I am such a wuss.

So. About the Breads By Anna mix. I picked it up a few weeks ago but hadn't had the motivation to make it until today. Oh my goodness. Gluten free bread that rises to the height of a gluten loaf! Tastes great, too! I may have to stock up. This could very well be my stand-by bread for when I don't feel like making it totally from scratch.

And now, the nectarine and plum upside-down cake. I found a recipe on Epicurious that I converted to gluten free with mixed results. Don't get me wrong - it tastes great, but the recipe I post below will include the modifications I believe are necessary to make my tastebuds totally happy - with the original amounts in parenthesis. Other than converting the recipe to GF and changing up the fruit, I followed the recipe. Too dang sweet for me, hence the adjustments.

Nectarine & Plum Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from a recipe from Epicurious

12 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (original calls for 1 cup)
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (not in original recipe-I didn't have enough light in the house)
1 tbsp orange blossom honey (just honey specified in recipe)
3 plums, cut into 8ths (original calls for 6 large plums in 6ths)
2 nectarines, cut into 8ths (not in original recipe)
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla (original calls for 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract)
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 6 tbsp butter, the brown sugars, and the honey in a saucepan over low heat until the ingredients are completely combined to form a nice thick sauce. Pour into the bottom of a 9" round cake pan with 2" high sides. Arrange the plum and nectarine pieces in circles, alternating fruits, until the entire bottom of the pan is covered. If you want it to be pretty, place them in concentric circles.

In a bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients except the cup of sugar and set aside. In another bowl, cream together the remaining 6 tbsp butter and cup of sugar. When smooth, add the eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. Mx until just blended and pour evenly over the top of the fruit in the cake pan.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean - about an hour. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then run a knife around the outside to insure the cake comes out clean. Place your serving plate upside down on top of the cake, then invert so the cake side meets the plate . Remove the pan. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and then serve.