Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Lit Wits Meet Again





This can't be a "food only" blog for me anymore... it just can't be. It will "mostly" be a food blog, but I have too many other things going on in my life that I want to talk about. (I say that and then this ends up being a post ends up being about food after all )

I used to have a book blog along with this food blog, but I gave that up months ago. I didn't think I could keep up with both. But last Thursday, when I hosted the book club meeting (we are the Lit Wits) , here, at my house, one of my friends said, I can't wait to see what she blogs about us.
YIKES.
She wondered about what I would write, because we were talking about---wearing panties at night. YES...it was a hot topic of conversation. Some women have been taught/told to not wear panties at night (I guess to air out...LOL....because of infection), and others have never heard that in their entire lives.
It's like a line drawn in the sand. Panty wears and non-panty wearers.
Yes, our intellectual, rational, cerebral conversation had been reduced to underpants.

Underpants and shoes. The shoes tho, did have something to do with the book we read: "Very Valentine" by Adriana Triglianni. The book was about Valentine Roncalli, an apprentice to her grandmother in the shoe-making business (it's a cute book, the first in a 3 part series. And I understand that its going to be made into a Lifetime Movie), and in keeping with the theme, we all wore shoes that held a story for us.

The evening was full of fun, food, and laughter...and a little bit of book talk.

We do cook dinner for this book club, so it should rightly be called a the "cook and book" club. The only trouble is that I didn't have time to get pics of my clam sauce.

I had an Italian theme going on, because the family in the book was a big Italian-American family, and I thought it only fitting. I pulled out 5 CD's that represented the Italian boys in my music collection..... the Best of Dean Martin, Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Botti, and.....Bon Jovi. (I was running out of Italians and who doesn't like Bon Jovi?) the music was on in the background, but I don't think anyone appreciated my biting wit as much as I did. The Handyman just shook his head at me, as he headed out to Dollar Taco Night at Las Margaritas.

My clam sauce...(actually it's my friend's...a Friday Friend's recipe: Barbara Brown of Buckeye, AZ ) rocked. Truthfully. That is the message I got on face book the next day.... Nicole said "Debbie the food rocked!" I guess I can say this is so... Hey, I only cooked it, it's Barb's recipe, so it's okay. I LOVE that clam sauce. Too bad the one quick picture I took is slightly out of focus and is next to the spaghetti with red sauce and Italian sausages...it's not pretty.  ( I thought  that I could be brave enough to put the photo here, but I don't think so...there are weeners --Italian sausages-- sticking out all over in the red sauce.  Ha....no panties, weeners and oh the conversations we have...)


The Rockin Clam Sauce  (I can't let that adjective go...rockin)

3 cans clams--drained and liquid saved and added to chicken broth to make 2 cups.


1/2 cup butter
3 T. green onions--sliced
1 t. minced garlic
1 t. parsley flakes ( I used fresh parsley)
Sauté the above 4 items, stir in 2 T flour and cook for one minute.
Gradually stir in the clam juice, 1/4 cup white win, 1/8 t. thyme.
Cook until thickened.
Stir in clams and add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over 8oz cooked spaghetti that has been tossed with 1/4 cup of butter and 3T Parmesan cheese.

My favorite way to make garlic bread is to just whip some room temperature butter with some fresh minced garlic, so that people can spread what they want on some warm bread. Not everyone loves garlic, altho I can't imagine why.
I don't have a picture of my bread.... just my table with book club friends eating.

I also made a dessert of Nigella Lawson's..... I called it Italian Cream in honor of the night. I'm not sure what she calls it.
Whipped Cream. Fold in slices strawberries and raspberries with sugar. Add crushed meringues. Serve in a champagne glass.



Everyone loved it. (I couldn't find meringues, and I didn't want to make them, so I substituted coconut macaroons and Milano cookies)

And let me introduce you to  my book club friends...


here is Renee.....the one who told us not to wear panties to bed. She wore these shoes that she thought were "flashy" for her.   No panties but these shoes too flashy?  We love Renee.



And Wendy....she wore her wedding shoes...  (this wedding has been long over, but she still has the shoes)




Theresa... a dancer.  Owner and instructer of her own studio.  Got her shoes for $1.50 at our local WONDERFUL hospital auxilary thrift store.  Says she doesn't care about shoes, after being on her "toes" for classes all week.




Massey.... an attorney (young enough to be my daughter) who wears shoes like these EVERY DAY.  They are pointy and have bling!




Eva..... who  is wearing her fancy Mexican wedding shoes.  I don't know how she danced the night away with such a skinny heel.


Heather, Nicole, Robin, April, me....... shoes, shoes and more shoes!

It was a fun evening.... but, I got in trouble from my "other" book club....Totally Lit (erature), because I forgot  my camera when we met on Wednesday.
They say I'm playing favorites.

.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Back on track....kind of.

Seriously?  Feb 9th was my last post?  Holy Cow!

My house smells like garlic this morning.... I have a few left over dishes in my sink from last night...... I am coming down with a cold  (sudafed and advil, right?)....  I owe my good friend Karen from Karen Cooks, a shout out and a big thanks for winning a give-away from her blog  (got it....very nice! )....and my book club friends want to know why I'm  not blogging about them..(sleeping without panties was the topic last night) ... gosh I have a lot of stuff to do this afternoon.

I'll be right back....I promise.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nantucket Granola





I didn't make the banana bread last night (and yes, I'm going to go with nuts), but will make it tonight, to be more fresh for my kids who are coming on Wednesday.
oh..no...that's right, they're not coming on Wednesday. Because of the Huge, snowstorm about ready to dump on the East Coast.
Southwest has cancelled their flight, and they can't get another one on Southwest until Monday.
Um....the wedding they are "in" is on Saturday.
So....they will try for Thursday with another air-line.

Everyone please cross your fingers for them.

I did make some granola last night. It made the whole house smell good.....
because it bakes for an hour, and it just smells all brown sugary and nutty and vanilla-ee. It was just good.

My friend Sally from Pennsylvania, sent me the recipe on Saturday. She said exactly the same thing.... that it made her whole house smell good.
Kind of a nice thing to have for a cold winter night.


Here is Sally, standing in front of the Yale Library Doors. We met up this summer when I was back in Connecticut when the twins came home from the hospital.

My daughter in law, gave us our own personal tour of Yale, and there we were in front of these cool doors....that gave entrance into the: LIBRARY. Which is one of my favorite places on earth.  ( I'm at work, and this is the only picture I have of Sally on this computer... it does not give her her due.  Perhaps she is saying,  "wow, this library holds the original maps of Lewis and Clark." or  "don't take a picture of me now".   I actually have a better picture of her here, but it includes me and 2 things:  the camera adds 10 pounds AND, I must have been all swollen or something on account of the humidity back east. They don't have that out here...humidity.  So I plumped up.  Yes...that's it. Normally, I'm not so plump. heh heh heh )

Sally leads a much healthier life-style than me, when it comes to cooking and what she eats and what she doesn't eat. I am hoping to take a cue from her.... but while this granola is good for you, it also tasted so good, that I ate way too much of it.


Nantucket Granola

4 cups oats (not quick cooking)
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut ( preferably unsweetened)
1 cup sunflower seeds (not salted)
1 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

stir together in a large bowl....the oats, coconut, seeds, almonds and brown sugar.
in a small bowl, mix together the oil, water, and vanilla. Pour over the oat mixture and stir.
Pour into a large roaster pan and bake in the oven at 325 for 1 hour and 20 minutes* stirring every 10 minutes.
let cool and add the dried fruit.
enjoy!
*the first time I made this ---on Saturday night---I burned it...and I only cooked it for an hour.
We live at over 4000 ft above sea level and I'm sure this had something to do with it, as Nantucket is sea level, Winnemucca is not.
when I made it last night, I just cooked it for 45 minutes and it was perfect, so I suggest you just keep a close eye on it and stop cooking when you think it's done enough for you.

It was really good.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nuts or no nuts?

I have bananas sitting in a bowl on my kitchen counter,  getting older by the minute.....

I have company coming on Wednesday......not company, but family... The Twins!  oh, and their parents. 
That is if they can make it out of Hartford, CT on Wednesday morning, and then out of  Chicago mid-morning, which is highly unlikely, because blizzrd #2 is headed that way.   It's a "nor-easter" or however you say it.  I don't know, because we only have... well, we dont' have big storms in Nevada.  
I know my kids are stressed.  They are coming for a weekend wedding and, well..... considering the weather and two babies with colds, stress is a given.
But, I'm very excited!!

Back to my bananas.   Should I make  banana bread?  Banana cake?  Banana pudding?

Truth be told, I'm leaning towards banana bread..... (great breakfast bread to just "have" when you have extra people in the house, right?)    but now the question is...... nuts or no nuts?

In your banana bread?   Nuts or no nuts?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mini Corn-Dogs and other things

This post has nothing to do with potato chips. Nothing at all.




The reason this picture is here, is I wanted to bring to your attention, the New flavor of Lays potato chips ( do they even have Lays on the East coast and in the south?).... Tangy Carolina BBQ.

They were "buy 1, get 1 free", so I did. And as I did, I was wondering..... if any brand name anywhere markets a "Nevada" thing.
I mean food wise. We are not famous for much when it comes to food. I googled state foods and Nevada came up famous for "Basque" Food, which is fine if anyone else in the United States knew what Basque food was.

I'm not even so sure that people in Southern Nevada know what Basque food is.
Basque food is:
Basque food is the native cuisine of the ethnic group that resides in the Pyrenees. Due to their location, spanning northeastern Spain and southwestern France, their cooking is richly infused with Spanish and French influences. In typical Basque dishes, you will find hearty meats, tomato sauces and hints of sweet or spicy red pepper, all served family-style.

By the way, Guy Fieri is doing a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives at Louis' Basque Corner in Reno!

Louis' does not have a webpage, and I'm not sure of the air date, but Guy came to Reno and did 3 restaurants.
Louis' Basque Corner
301 East 4th Street
Reno, NV 89512
(775) 323-7203

but go here for a Great Winnemucca Basque experience.  I mean if you are ever in Winnemucca and want to try Basque food, go here, to the Martin Hotel.

I got off track......
Nevada is not really famous for our cuisine, are we? We'll never have our own flavor on a bag of potato chips.

Tonight I am making homemade "mini corn-dogs" and not just any homemade, mine corn-dogs, but Blue Cheese and bacon mini corn-dogs.

I found the recipe on line. (please, if it is your recipe, let me know, as I want to give credit where credit is due, but somehow the "credits" got left off this page I printed from the inter-net) I do know that she (or he...I'm  bad about assigning gender to old stereotypes.... women foodies blog, men don't, that's my first thought, but it's not always right, nor should it be)

okay then, where was I? oh, I do know "said other cook" whom I got the recipe from, got it out of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, June, 2009.
So there ya go...I don't have to worry about credit anymore.

I had no idea if these are any good or not , but "said cook" says it is a "bucket list" recipe, one we must eat before we die!

This is probably more of an appetizer, but I wanted to make it tonight for supper, so I turned it into a main dish. Corn dogs!
Corn-dogs remind me of carnival food... the best corn-dog I ever had was at a carnival, dipped in the batter and deep fried in front of my eyes.... it had puffy, golden, crisp crust around a juicy hot dog. They were called pronto pups.  I loved Pronto Pups.  I've never, ever had a corn-dog as good as those.

But...what do you serve as a side dish to corn-dogs? I mean to the Handy-Man. It's he and I tonight. No grandchildren, or friends. If we had grandkids, I'd make French fries, but for just the two of us,
I chose potato salad and baked beans. I know they are picnic food and not carnival food (oohh, I'm thinking caramel apples for dessert?!),   but it's kinda close... in a way.
Those were two of my favorite things growing up...carnivals (not so anymore) and picnics (still love them, just don't have anyplace to go)

I bet you are wondering about this photo....



I'm not doing a whole tutorial about my meal, but
this is the kind of baked bean my mom always ALWAYS bought. She then doctored them up.

My mom made a sweet baked bean and then she stuck them in the fridge and we ate them cold the next day at our picnic, along with cold fried chicken and homemade chocolate cake. My parents were huge picnic people.

So, B and M beans is what I grew up with, so....

WAIT A MINUTE. B&M. Really? BM?   oh my gosh... I can never use these again. I will be thinking of a BM the entire time!!! (I raised 3 boys and can not for the life of me, get their sophomoric sense of humor to leave me)   No wonder B&M beans are disappearing from grocery market shelves! I was going to say how hard they are to find nowadays, here in Nevada. Now I know why.
okay, so take these beans or any baked beans. And doctor them up any way you like.
We don't actually eat beans from the can without some doctoring. Do you?

Where as my mom makes a sweet baked bean, I make a BBQ bean to go with my stuff.
The Handy-man's friend John, LOVES my beans...he is so happy when I make them.
Little does he know all I do is open the can and pour a blob of purchased BBQ sauce in it, add some bacon and onion and ...that's it. It's almost embarrassing to admit that.
But if I'm must making a fast meal, that's what I do.



I have been a collector of potato salad recipes for years. I can't find my "ONE", if you know what I mean, so I make everyone else's. I have never met a potato I didn't like.
Tonight, I take my way of doing potato salad from my friend Tomi (seen with a koala bear below). She makes the simplest one I know of... potatoes, hard boiled eggs, salt, pepper, mayo and mustard.
Yum.  
I know it's not the greatest photo....it's from a scan, but I just love her, so I had to insert her in here somehow.   I have quite a few recipes of Tomi's that I make.  Thanks Tomi!!


Now for the main dish ... if you can actually call mini corn-dogs a dish.

I had a couple of problems with these little corn-dogs. One, was that the batter, at first, was very, very thick. so, thick that it was doughy inside. I added some milk until the batter was more of a dipping consistency and that worked better.
I think my oil should have been a bit hotter, as these were a bit greasy.


Try dipping a hot dog in this batter!!!


The second batch I cooked (with the thinner batter) turned out much better--taste wise.


Believe me, they didn't look pretty. BUT they did taste good. The batter, being thinner, cooked all the way thru the second time around and was crispy and crunchy and good.  They might look like pancakes on a stick, but they did taste good.  I think they still need some practice rounds before I serve them to people.   The Handyman isn't a "people"... he is a Tester.  It's his job to test things for me.






Again, they are not pretty, and need a little more tweeking and polish before making a company appearance, but here I am showing you my, "not so pretty attempt".   And of course they really aren't a main dish, but would be perfect for an appetizer. With some nice crisp veggies on a crudités tray...... mmmmm.

Also, these would be fine leaving out the blue cheese and just slathering mustard all over them.
It I had them more "fine-tuned", they would make good SuperBowl Food.  But, I'm not quite ready.....


BLUE CHEESE AND BACON MINI CORN-DOGS
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup blue cheese
1 egg
3 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and finely crumbled
6 beef franks, jumbo, cut in half crosswise
skewers

BLUE CHEESE DIP
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp black pepper


Corn dog directions
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder, dry mustard, and salt.
Cut in shortening until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
In a blender, combine milk, blue cheese and egg, blend until almost smooth.
Add egg mixture to flour mixture along with the crumbled bacon, mix well.
Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet (I used an electric frying pan) to 350 degrees.
Insert skewers into end of franks. spoon batter over franks. Batter will be thick.
Place coated franks, 2 or 3 at a time on their sides in hot oil.
Turn franks with tongs after about 10 seconds to prevent batter from sliding off.
Cook for 2-3 minutes more or until golden brown, turning to cook evenly.
Remove and drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
Keep warm in a 200 degree oven while frying the remaining franks.
Serve warm with Blue Cheese Dip.



Blue Cheese Dip directions
In a medium bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, blue cheese, worsh sauce and pepper.
Cover and chill until ready to use.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm not worthy

I just wanted to share a little bit....
This is my favorite Sister in law  (one of them, anyway),  Meghan.
She is making the Jalapeno Poppers that I made for New Years Eve.  (which I got out of the PW's cookbook).

She said I could use the pic.....but just let everyone know she only uses those gloves for cooking.
And then, she said this:
you may have new fans on your blog page, as I told them to go there for that recipe and other greats...

OMG...I am  embarrassed, because she can out-cook me anytime.  She can cook me under the table. She can "up" me one, on any meal.    She is a great cook...she is the "family" cook!  She is the one we all take advantage of for any party, anniversary, or holiday.
She makes recipes her own, while I just follow along and make what everyone else is.
See what she did to the poppers?
I tweeked a little and used a little ricotta and quattro formaggio for filling as I am not a huge cream cheese fan, and it was still very good

I am not creative enough to do that. I just like to cook and take pictures and blab about myself.

Anyway....may I present my sister-in-law, the BEST cook in the family......
Meghan.

she said:
look at the yellow package (behind my wine glass) WRAPPLES...Devin made carmel apples (check stove behind me) ...it was Kitty's birthday.


Devin is my 7-year old niece.  And Kitty is the cat, whom....well they refuse to believe they own a cat, but I've known kitty for quite a few years.  Kitty is well-fed, well taken care of....but Kitty is a free an idependant soul, who showed up at their house a few years ago and they are all under the false impression  that Kitty is not theirs.
I love that  Devin made carmeled apples for Kitty's birthday!

Friday Friend Recipe #166 -- Cornbread Salad

Come with me as I continue to countdown my Friday Friend Cookbook! What is it, you may ask? In a nutshell... About 18 years ago, ...