Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Soup is good food!

Well, it's been a scorcher of a summer here in New England and I have been loving it. This week we were lucky enough to get a much needed break in the summer weather and have been experiencing a few days of classic New England dampness. Overcast skies, wind, rain and humidity. Perfect timing since we really did need the water and because I had some leftover prime rib that I wanted to make into soup. No fucking way I am making soup when it's 90 degrees outside. I saw my opportunity and I took it. I started out with leftover bone-in prime rib roast that I put in the crock pot with some beef stock. I let this simmer over night. I woke up about 2 or 3 AM and turned the pot off so the meat would be cool enough to handle when I really had to get up. Now, I just want everybody to know that I did not set my alarm to do this. I just happened to wake up and thought to do it. I don't set my alarm to make soup. LOL! Anyway, when I got up for real around 6AM, I removed the meat from the pot and seperated out all of the icky fat - BLECH! I then returned the meat to the pot and added a few shakes of worcestershire sauce, chopped garlic, onions, celery and carrots. I also salted the broth to taste. I turned the pot back on and left for work. When I got home I was greeted by the smells of beef - perfect for a damp and gloomy day! I added some tubetini noodles to the pot and proceeded to complete a few household chores. When I was done the pasta was fully cooked and I had myself a nice bowl of homemade soup for dinner. YUM! The weatherman says the hot weather will return tomorrow so I will probably have to freeze the rest but at least I will have it on hand for the next wave of cool weather. YAY!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chinese Food Haiku

Ate Chinese take out.
Now I'm bloated and cranky.
And I slept like shit.

It may not be profound but damned if it ain't true!

What is it about chinese food that has me by the shorthairs? I LOVE it! Lo mein, fried dumplings, won ton soup, mei fun, sesame beef, curry chicken. There really isn't much on a standard chinese take out menu that I won't eat. I gorge myself on it knowing the price I will pay the following day. This is the typical routine - Spend $20-$25 dollars on take out. Go home and feast on it with hubby. Burp it up for the next two hours. Try to go to bed but not be able to get comfortable because of swollen tummy full of food. Wake up at two AM with tongue stuck to roof of mouth and dying of thirst. Drink 5 glasses of water. Go back to bed and toss and turn. Get up to pee. Finally fall asleep but have weird dreams. Wake up for work tired. Get dressed and find that pants don't fit right and rings are stuck on fingers due to overnight bloating. Go to work tired and depressed about feeling so damn fat. Swear I'm never eating that shit again. Repeat every three weeks.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dining Out

As much as I love to cook, I think I enjoy dining out just as much. Maybe more since I don't have to do the dishes afterwards. That alone is worth the price. Last night DH and I decided to hop on the bike and go out to eat at one of my favorite places, the Lake View restaurant in Coventry. The food is good, the prices are good, the service is good but what really makes this place a stand out for me is the huge deck that overlooks the lake. Last night was the perfect night for dining al fresco and there was no other place I wanted to go. Funny thing is, while there are lots of delicious sounding entrees on the menu I always seem to get the same thing - Grilled Chicken Salad, Buffalo Style with Ranch Dressing. To me, salad always tastes better when somebody else has to make it, LOL! Husband got himself a Chicken Ceasar Wrap with fries. Because we got there before 6 we also enjoyed an order of fried mozzarella for half price. Gotta love happy hour specials! All in all it was a wonderful dinner on the deck with my honey. We even got to feed some of the extra fries to the resident flock of ducks that like to hang around the place. QUACK!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

I love tomatoes. Really, I do but lately they have been taking over my life. Seriously, I am running out of ideas of things to do with them. Every day I go out into my little garden and there are at least four or five more that need to be picked. I have had tomato sandwiches, salad, soup, sauce, salsa, bruschetta......the list goes on and on! It's funny how in the winter all we talk about is how we are looking forward to that first garden fresh tomato sandwich. Now, it's no more tomatoes, PLEASE!

I have to admit though, last night, thanks to all those tomatoes, I made the BEST marinara EVER! I had a pile of tomatoes on the counter that were starting to get funky so I cooked them up. It will be a cold day in hell before I willingly waste food. Basically, I squished them into a pot and boiled them down. Once cooked I ran them through a food mill that I borrowed from my mom. (Thanks Mom!) The result was a very watery tomato sauce. I put that in the fridge for a couple of days while I tried to think of something to do with it. I would have frozen it but my freezers are still jam packed. Since I was feeling particularly lazy yesterday, I decided that we would have pasta for dinner. I figured it would be a perfect way to use up that watery squished tomato stuff that was hanging out in the back of the refrigerator. Rather than make a traditional meat sauce that would require more effort than I was willing to put forth, I poured all of squished tomato stuff into a large pot, brought it to a boil, and cooked the pasta directly in it. My reasoning was that the dried pasta would absorb the excess water and the starch would thicken it up into a nice sauce. For once I was right! YAY Success! While the pasta was cooking I added some salt, chopped garlic and some fresh basil and oregano from the garden. The end product was AWESOME! I ate it until I thought I would burst!

This afternoon I think I will cook up some more tomatoes as the garden is full of ripe ones again. Take that tomatoes! You will never overtake me! HA HA!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Suck it up, Buttercup!

My friend is having surgery on both feet. Whenever any of my friends go under the knife I cook them goodies or I at least stop at the pastry shop and bring them goodies that I couldn't possibly make myself. She doesn't want me to make her anything but you know what, I'm making her something anyway. GOT THAT S.S.! EAT IT OR DIE!!!!!! Usually I make lasagna but since I think she probably makes a better lasagna than me, I'm going to make her shepherds pie because when it comes to anything with gravy, I RULE!!! I have two versions I make - one has corn in it the other with peas and carrots. The latter I make for others mostly since I think peas are kind of gross. She won't tell me which she would rather have. Maybe I'll put all three in there. Take that, woman!

Shepherds pie is the easiest of casseroles and hearty comfort food to me. It freezes well so that a bonus, too. Here is how I make mine:

Brown a pound or so of ground beef with some chopped onions and crushed garlic until everything is cooked. Drain most of the fat - NOT ALL OF IT! Add a tablespoon or so of flour to the remaining fat to make a roux. Add enough beef broth to make a nice gravy and throw in a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Bring everything to a simmer until thickened. I like to add beef base to the stock to make it richer. Pour this on the bottom of a baking dish. Over this make a layer of corn or peas and carrots. I usually buy frozen and defrost. The last layer is mashed potatoes. I use Russets that I peel and boil and I mash them with generous amounts of butter and cream. I also add a good amount of salt. Mashed potatoes need salt. Once it's all put together I wrap it in foil for delivery. An hour at 350 should do the trick and voila hot dinner is served - even to the family of a temporary invalid!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Love/Hate Work Travel

I have to travel for work this week. Not someplace exotic or interesting - Harrisburg, PA. Now, no offense to any of you who think it's the greatest place on earth but when other people in my company are going places like Hawaii, Guam and Key West - Harrisburg kind of loses any luster it may have had, don't you think. What's even worse it that my dear husband can't come with me so I can't even consider it a mini-vacation. Just long, hot, dirty days followed by lonely nights. I haven't even left yet and I am already dreading it. I hope I find a decent place to eat that I can blog about. The "love" part to this is that at least I get out of this darn office for a bit and the weekend should get here quickly. We are headed to the beach for the weekend. CAN'T WAIT! Still I will miss my doggie and my husband terribly while I am away. To prepare for this foray into what, for me, will be Dante's ninth circle of hell I have been cooking up a storm so that husband will have plenty of home cooked vittles to eat while I am away. I made a HUGE pot of homemade red sauce on Saturday which set the stage for the sausage lasagna I made on Sunday. Ever notice that you can't make a little lasagna. This thing has to weigh twenty pounds. Even though there was still 19 pounds of it left in the refigerator, last night I made a Brady Bunch sized meatloaf. In my defense I had to make it. My freezers are jam packed and I had to cook the ground beef before it got yucky. Besides, you can't have too much meatloaf in my opinion. It's kind of like the Thanksgiving Turkey - the best part is the sandwich you make with the leftovers the next day. I strayed from my usual meatloaf mix and this time I mixed the following in with the beef:

1 envelope onion soup mix
yellow mustard
cheddar cheese
half and half

I was going for a cheeseburger thing. After it was all mixed together I shaped it into a loaf, slathered it with ketchup and placed it in a roasting pan. I baked it for about an hour at 350. I was really happy with the taste. I had never put relish in a meatloaf before and, although I only used a little, I think it worked. I'll bet it will make an awesome sandwich today.

Tonight for dinner, we are going to whittle away at that lasagna some more. My tomatoes are ripining like crazy so I'll make a nice caprese salad with fresh basil and mozzarella to go with it. It should make for a nice meal.