Thursday, July 29, 2010


That's what I think I'm going to call last nights dinner. Don't get me wrong it was delicious but it wasn't "real" risotto and god forbid I even hint that it was or I'll have a full on blitzkrieg by the food Nazis (you know who you are). I kind of ruined the risotto experience at my house. You see the first time I ever made it I totally fucked it up. I accidentally burned the garlic and then I used the wrong wine. If it wasn't for that I think it would have been OK as the texture and creaminess were right but the taste was off - WAY OFF. My husband, who is usually very supportive of my culinary concoctions, said it tasted like "dirty feet". So now I doubt I could convince him to eat it again. So instead of rice I used orzo pasta in this dish and it came out great. First I prepped the veggies. Onions, yellow and green squash from the garden, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes were chopped and sauteed in a red pepper vinaigrette salad dressing. When they were almost done I removed them from the pan and added some butter and the orzo. I sauteed the orzo a little bit before adding chicken stock that I enriched with some bouillon paste (I LOVE bouillon paste). As the liquid was absorbed I added more as needed. Right before it was done I returned the veggies to the pot and added a generous amount of Parmesan cheese and a handful of Italian cheese blend. You know the kind that comes preshredded in a bag for pizza and stuff like that. I turned off the heat and mixed this all together and served it with grilled chicken breasts that had been marinading in the same dressing all day. The result was a delicious summer meal that was relatively easy to prepare and not too heavy. Husband was very happy, so mission dinner accomplished.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Beaches, Bikes and BBQ - What a Weekend!

It was hot, hot, hot but that's what summer is all about! We knew the heat was coming so husband and I had some well laid plans! I escaped to the beach with my sister in law and niece while he took of with his buddies for a motorcycle ride. We all hooked up later in the day at a friends house for a poolside BBQ. Cold beers, hot food off the grill and my favorite loaded baked potato salad! AHHH life is good!

Erika's Loaded Baked Potato Salad.

First and foremost let me say that when I first came up with this recipe I used russet potatoes that I cubed and roasted in the oven with some salt and olive oil. Since it was in the mid- to upper-nineties this week with near 100% humidity there was no way in hell I was turning my oven on to make this. So, this time around I used red skin potatoes that I boiled the day before and let cool in the sink overnight. Either way tastes good to me and is a nice break away from all those mayo based salads.

3 lbs potatoes cubed and roasted or boiled and cubed. However you cook them make sure they are cool before you add the rest of the ingredients
1 generous cup sour cream
6-10 strips of bacon cooked crisp and chopped
3/4 Cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
4-6 green onions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste - don't be shy with the salt!

Mix the sour cream, chopped bacon, cheese, green onion, salt and pepper and gently fold mixture into the cooked potatoes. Adjust seasonings to taste. I find that this recipe usually requires more salt than one would assume. Hey, potatoes need salt. What can I say! Let chill or serve right away.

The following Sunday was still warm but not nearly as oppressive as the day before and since my spearfishing trip with Dad and been canceled due to the threat of thunderstorms, husband and I managed to round up a few friends that weren't too hungover to take a ride and try out a new BBQ joint in the area - Hilltop BBQ.

We were familiar with the location since it was previously a biker bar and were happy to know a BBQ joint was now located so close to our doorstep. But was it any good? You see good, true BBQ is an art form in my opinion. A skill people spend their lives mastering. True BBQ, being more of a southern and western delicacy, is hard to find in New England and GOOD, true BBQ is even harder to find. There have been more BBQ joints popping up in the area lately, and admittedly, I haven't tried many so Sundays lunch was a real treat for me. As far as BBQ in New England goes, Hilltop was good. Not the best BBQ I have ever had but solid nonetheless.

We started with the mesquite chicken quesedilla rolls for an appetizer. They were surprisingly spicy which was a plus in my book because I like it spicy!!! I ordered a brisket and rib combo with cole slaw. The Hilltop offers 2 styles or ribs - Memphis and St. Louis. Both are dry rubbed but only the St Louis are smoked. This being a BBQ joint, I opted for the St. Louis style because in my book BBQ = smoke, accept no substitutes. The ribs were served unsauced with three different sauces offered on the table - another plus in my book. I like to taste the meat and the smoke and quite frankly, good BBQ doesn't need much sauce. The three sauces offered were house, sweet and hot. I preferred the house sauce and found the sweet to be a little too sweet and the hot not hot enough. The house sauce was juuuusst riiiight! The ribs were good, perhaps a bit dry but meaty and flavorful. The brisket, in my opinion, was the real standout of the meal. Moist and tender and full of flavor, I was left wanting more.

As for the sides the coleslaw did not disappoint. It was tangy, not too mayo-ey and not at all bland. The cornbread was also good and had a strong corn flavor without being too dry. The meal also came with a refreshing slice of watermelon, which was an unexpected surprise.

To finish off, instead of the standard moist towelette, we were presented with warm towelettes at the end of the meal. I thought this was a nice touch since these towels were much larger and softer than the standard scratchy square one normally receives. All in all, everyone enjoyed their meal and I do believe we will be visiting again.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I have a camera, Dammit, now why can't I remember to use it?

I really should have taken a picture of last nights dinner. Seriously! By the time I even remembered that I started this blog thing Daisy doggie had already licked every last morsel from the plates and all that was left to photograph were dirty dishes. Sigh!

Daisy Doggie - My pre-rinse cycle and best friend!

Yesterday was one of those days where I knew exactly what I wanted for dinner as soon as I woke up. I love those days. No picking of brains, mine or anyone elses, trying to figure out what will satisfy everyone. Just come home inspired and ready to cook and serve it up. Any complaints get the traditional response - EAT IT OR DIE! LOL! Anyway, we have had a burger and hot dog stretch followed by a chicken and pasta stretch so last night it was pork chop time. Not pork choooops and applesaaauuce though. Just a quick honey-mustard version. I had some very nice thick loin chops defrosted, which I quickly seasoned with salt and pepper. Then I heated some oil in a skillet untill it was nice and hot. The chops went in (make sizzle sound here) and I seared them quickly on both sides. Never skip the sear when preparing loin chops becasue not many things suck more than a dry and tasteless porkchop! Once those juices were sealed in, I added some chicken stock to the pan (more sizzle sounds), a generous tablespoon or so of dijon mustard and another generous tablespoon of honey. I worked that all together and added a couple shakes or garlic powder and parsley. I had intended to use fresh garlic at the beginning but forgot. The garlic powder worked fine though so no harm done. I let that all simmer turning the chops every few minutes until the were firm. By that time the sauce had reduced nicely and we had oursleves the beginnings of one fine meal! I served it with carrots that i simmered in butter with a pinch of sugar (heart attack but so worth it) and a ready made pork stuffing. Hey I work for a living and can't make everything from scratch! The important thing is that husband enjoyed the meal as much as I did and ate every last bit on his plate. I would say that is mission dinner accomplished!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I am so freaking lazy!

Seriously. Sometime I suprise even myself with how lazy I can be. Especially with it being so hot out. I just don't want to move let alone cook something even remotely complicated. Of course, in the winter the same is true because it gets dark so early and I want to go to sleep. Either way I have an excuse! LOL!. I have been craving enchiladas for weeks now. I have the pork in my freezer already cooked and shredded but the idea of frying and rolling tortillas has me reaching for a box of pasta every time. Same goes for tamales. Damn, do I love those things. I even made them once.... ONCE! It took me all day to make them and all of about 30 minutes to devour every last one. I can't just go out and buy them either because here in Connecticut good tamales are few and far between. Besides that, in addition to being a lazy cook, I am also cheap. Why buy tamales when I can make them myself. Um, because it will be a cold day in hell before you motivate yourself to make them, dumbass! So I just accept my enchilada/tamale free day and try to fill the void with a take out egg roll. Another delicacy I am too lazy to make but at least I can get one for a buck on nearly every corner.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Holy Crap it's Hot!

Here in New England we are being inundated with the hottest, stickiest most disgusting weather in years. Even though it's raining today there is no relief. It's like a steam bath out there! YUCK! But on the plus side, this weekend we were treated to a wonderful cookout with DH's family. They have a swimming pool and it was perfect! Now, my mother raised me to believe you never come calling empty handed so my contribution to the event was macaroni salad. Now, I have an arsenal of macaroni salad recipes but since I was not sure how adventurous the party goers were I decided to stick with a traditional version. Here it is.

My Traditional Macaroni Salad

1 pound pasta - whatever shape suits your fancy
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 C mayo
2-3 Tbs chopped parsley
1 Tbs chopped Dill
1/2 Tbs chopped tarragon
1 tsp celery seed
1-2 Tbs cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

OK, So let me say right off the bat that all these measurements are estimated. You see, I hate washing dishes so I only use measuring cups when I feel I have to. I am an eyeball it and wing it kind of person in the kitchen. Anyway, to save time I also use my food processor to do the chopping for me when I make this. It certainly isn't necessary but I like to save time whenever I can.

So, you cook the pasta in heavily salted water until done the way you like it. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large mixing bowl add all the other stuff and mix together. Once cooled and drained add the pasta and gently mix until coated. Adjust the seasonings to taste. That's all there is to it.

I'll try to get a picture up when I think of it. I am not in the habitat of photographing my food. I am usually more concerned with eating it, LOL!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Best Way to Start Summer - Hot Dogs and Mermaids!

So lets catch up on some stuff. A few weeks ago I went to my all time absolute most favorite event to kick off the summer - The Coney Island Mermaid Parade! This annual display of freakish mayem is something I look forward to with giddy delight every year. Of course, while there I had to indulge with an Original Nathan's Hot Dog which I happily scarfed down on the boardwalk. HAPPINESS IS! I prefer mine with sauted onions and peppers. So good! of course such a hot dog for breakfast probably wasn't the best idea since I kind of carried it with me for quite a while - I'm sure this had nothing to do with the raging hangover I was also carrying, LOL! But It was breakfast or nothing since I knew the lines would be outrageous later in the day.

Next we were off to the Freak Bar to indulge in some Coney Island Craft Beers. Let me tell you, on the surface these may seem like a novelty but this is some serious beer folks! Being that the following Sunday was Father's Day, I picked up a sampler 12-pack for my Dad. He LOVED it!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

And I am off.

OK. I need to share something with you right off the bat. I have absolutely no idea what I am doing right now. Seriously. I am from that generation that fell through the computer gap. I mean we had a computer at my high school. I remember it was big and coveted by all of the teachers who let us know, in no uncertain terms, that we would be in deep shit if we even thought about touching it. Computer education was about knowing the difference between a bit and a byte and a nanosecond and a millisecond. We never actually used a computer. They we much too expensive to be trusted in the hands of a bunch of unruly teenagers. So, everything I know about computers I learned in college by watching the younger students who actually knew what they were doing. Cut and Paste feature was quite a revelation, let me tell you! But this old dog learns new tricks all the time so I expect things to start looking more savvy over time. Just how much time remains to be seen.