Archive for the ‘Recipes’ category

Pumpkins

November 2, 2016

So here we are in November and we are deluged with pumpkins. Paula and I went shopping at Trader Joe’s yesterday. It seemed about half of all the products had some pumpkin in it. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffin mix, pumpkin relish, and on and on.

So we came home with pumpkin flavored almonds, package of pumpkin muffin mix, pumpkin cheese cake and pumpkin cheerios.

So there is pumpkin patch vendor in San Pedro on the corner of 9th and Western. Every year at the beginning of October, they set up shop selling pumpkins (real pumpkins). And like clockwork, on November 1, the pumpkin signs come down and the Christmas tree signs go up.

Don’t get me wrong, I like pumpkin stuff. I just wish availability was more level. Why can’t I find pumpkin pie filling in March?  Maybe this year, I will persuade Paula to stock pile some cans of pumpkin puree, so that I can have a pumpkin pie in July. So here are some of my favorites. I’ve heard that there are people that actually cook stuff from real pumpkins. Bah, too much work.

Pumpkin Whoopee pies
It seems that my west coast friends  have never heard of Whoopie Pies. They are so culturally  deprived. Whoopie pies are two pieces of chocolate cake with a whipped cream filling. You won’t find them in stores. But, Paula has an excellent recipe. Whoopie Pies are the official state snack of the State of Maine.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 c canned pumpkin (15 oz can)
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 1 c vegetable oil
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Filling

  • 3/4 c powdered sugar
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix cake ingredients. Drop Tbsp’s of batter on to cookie sheet. Use parchment paper, if you have it. Bake for 8-10 min. Cool on rack.

Spread filling on each pie and put together. Refrigerate over night.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

This is also one of our favorites. pumpkin-crunchWe constantly fight over whether one puts whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I prefer whipped cream. Click here > pumpkin-crunch-cake to get the recipe.

Don’t wait too long. The pumpkin puree will be gone from the stores and you will have wait until next year.

 

 

 

Joe’s Chicken Soup

July 2, 2016

What does one do with the leftover carcass of a chicken? Last Tuesday we did a roasted chicken for our weekly family dinner. So we had a leftover chicken carcass. So I decided to do a chicken soup for dinner tonight.

Here’s how you do it. Put the carcus into a stew pot and cover with water. Boil/simmer for 3-3.5 hours. After the three hours take all of the chicken out of the pot and put into a sieve. Usually the carcass falls apart pretty much. Take all of the meat out of the pot and put into a sieve. Remove any of the chicken bones that you can find. Warning, the bones and cartilage pieces will be small. In our case we also had some leftover chicken in the refrigerator. That got thrown in as well. The concept is to clean out our refrigerator of leftovers before our family dinner next Tuesday.

This also works quite well for turkey. And if you are not ready to make the soup right away then freeze the carcas. It’ll keep. I first learned about this idea from an article about Michael Dukakis (former governor of Mass.)


Return the chicken to the pot. Add 1c of carrots and 1 c of celery to the pot. I like to add noodles to the mix. I cook 8 oz. of noodles for about 10 minutes. Drain and add to the pot. Add whatever vegetables you like. Perhaps, peas, maybe corn. Some folks prefer rice to noodles.  In that case add about 1 cup of uncooked rice to the pot. 

Also, this time I used a packet of chicken gravy mix. Cook according to the directions on the package, then add to the pot. It makes the soup a little bit thicker.

Cook over very low heat for another two hours. Serve with fresh bread. Very tasty.

Easter

March 27, 2016

He is risen. He is risen indeed! Of course, that was the common phrase going around this morning at Ocean View. So here’s our tale of what we did for Easter. Easter for us is about family.

We usually go to the 10:30 AM church service at Ocean View. The 0900 service is just too early and I’ll certainly not have any of this “Sunrise Service” stuff. The choir is at the top of their form. Pastor Jacques even finished pretty much on time.

The kids are scrubbed clean and dressed up in their Sunday finest. Jonathan had on a white shirt and a tie. Miss Sarah had a pretty nice dress that was bought for her by Aunt Mary in Hingham. Of course, when I took the picture of Jonathan he had a muffin in his mouth.

Normally after church on Sunday’s we go out for brunch at one of several excellent diners in San Pedro. I know that one of the diners was closed today so that the wait-staff could attend church (Pacific Diner). It is my opinion, worker friendly businesses like this should be rewarded with our business.

Our friend Vicky (who works at Pacific diner) asked us what we will be doing for dinner on Tuesday. Our answer was the we need to get done with today before we think about Tuesday.

On Easter and Mother’s Day we have taken to doing brunch at home rather than go out to a fancy restaurant. Those Sundays are just too crowded for our taste. When we do it at home and the kids finish eating, they can be excused from the table and go play. Can’t do that at a restaurant.

So what to have for brunch? We usually do some form of brunch eggs and pancakes or waffles. The waffle part was easy. Get out the waffle iron and pancake mix. The only problem we have is keeping them hot while I cook the rest of them. Each waffle takes about 5 minutes. Fresh strawberries and real maple syrup, too. Believe it or not, but you can buy real maple syrup on the west coast.

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The brunch eggs is a mashup of various recipes I have used in the past. This time we had a package of Pillsbury crescent rolls in the refrigerator, so we used those. Spread a single layer in the bottom of an 9×13″ baking dish. Sometimes we use Pillsbury refrigerator biscuits. Failing that, use Pepperidge Farm white bread toasted.

Then saute 1/2 an onion and 1/2 a green pepper in a frying pan. Add some meat. We had some diced ham on hand (8oz. package).  It got added to the frying pan.

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In a small bowl, scramble 10 eggs with 3/4 c of milk. Add the egg mixture, to the frying pan. Then transfer the egg, pepper & onions to the 9×13 pan. Then sprinkle with a layer of shredded cheddar cheese. Cook in a 350F oven for about 1/2 an hour. Check with tooth pick in the center for doneness.

We also had plenty of candy. We had some peeps, jelly beans, chocolate bunnies.

Here’s a picture someone posted of the Boston Peeps. (Arthur Fiedler is probably rolling over in his grave.)

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Joe’s Kick-Ass Sausage Lasagna

February 2, 2016

img_4131Today is Tuesday and that means family for dinner. I addition to the usual attendees, we will have our number 2 son Neil honoring us with his presence.

So we decided to have lasagna. The benefit of lasagna is that one can make it up ahead of time and then pop it into the oven 45 minutes before dinner.

So here’s what you need:

  • 2 24 oz. jars of spaghetti sauce. (I like some of the spicy variants but use what you like.)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 15oz. Container of Ricotta cheese (I usually get the low-fat version)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 lb of sausage meat
  • 8 oz lasagna noodles (1/2 a package)

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the box. (Usually about 8 minutes).  Remove from heat and drain into a sieve. Allow to cool for a while.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic. Saute in large frying pan.
  3. When onions are translucent add the sausage meat. Stir and break up the clumps. Cook until the sausage is fully cooked.
  4. In a small mixing bowl add the egg and beat. Then add the ricotta. The egg helps make the ricotta easier to spread.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine the sauce. Add about half the sauce to the sausage mixture.
  6. Now we put it all together. In a 9″x 13″ baking dish. Spray with non-stick spray. Put a layer of sauce (the sauce without the meat) on the bottom of the dish.
  7. Add your first layer of noodles. Then a layer of the 1/2 the meat sauce mixture.
  8. Add about half of the ricotta. Spread it around. Then add a little more sauce.
  9. Add second layer of noodles. Add the rest of the meat mixture. Add the rest of the ricotta. Cover with sauce.
  10. Third layer of noodles. Add half the remaining sauce (the meatless sauce). Cover with Mozarella.
  11. Fourth layer of noodles. Rest of sauce and rest of Mozarella.
  12. Cover with plastic wrap. Put in refrigerator. Pour yourself a glass of Chianti. You’re done until it’s time to put it in the oven.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake for about 45 minutes. Don’t forget to remove the plastic wrap. Serve with warm garlic bread and a nice Chianti.

Fish Cakes

January 11, 2016

Back in the day, when I was a child, the Roman Catholic church forbade members from eating meat on Friday’s. The idea was that we were supposed to atone for our sins by giving up something that we enjoyed. In our neck of the woods, I think that the idea backfired. A generation grew up really liking fish seeing that was the main alternative to roast beef or chicken.

So as a child we would eat fish cakes for Friday breakfast. I know what you’re thinking. That’s a bit weird. But for us it was our normal. Fish cakes for breakfast and frozen fish sticks for dinner. My parents might not have fish sticks for dinner, they probably had a lobster. Fish cakes lathered with ketchup was good eating. Today, I would probably add some hot sauce.

So on Thursday evening while the kids were working on their homework around the kitchen table, my mom and dad worked on prepping the fish cakes for the following morning. They would use salt cod mixed together with boiled potatoes. So the fish cakes would be put into the refrigerator ready to be fried on Friday morning.

Salt cod can be difficult to find in a supermarket. But it can be found. You need to ask the man in the meat/fish department. Sometimes they’ll have it, other times not. You could of course get a dumb look.

Believe it or not, you can buy salt cod on Amazon.com. I haven’t tried it but I probably will one of these days. Salt cod needs to be soaked for 8-12 hours before you can use it in a recipe to remove the salt. So you can’t do this on the spur of the moment.

Also, there are tons or recipes available on the internet. Here’s one of the recipes that I have used and like. Click here.

Pot Roast & Cannolis

June 17, 2015

2015-06-16 19.23.38Today is our daughter in law Theresa’s birthday. We celebrated it last night when her family came for our usual Tuesday evening dinner. We had an excellent cannoli cake from Amalfitano’s Bakery in San Pedro. The cake was very tasty indeed. If you are ever in the Boston area, the place to go for cannolis is Mike’s Bakery in the North End. No visit to Boston should go without a trip to Mike’s. You haven’t lived until you have had a cannoli from Mike’s Bakery.

Now let me talk about the main course. I made a pot roast in our crock pot along with potatoes, onions and carrots. It was very popular with the family. There was not a scrap left. Well, truth be told, there was some gray left. But.leftover gravy is not much use without something to put it on. Plus, when you save leftover pot roast gravy you find out how much fat was in the gravy because the fat congeals in the refrigerator over night. I don’t want to know that.  I probably could have added an extra potato or carrot. Though the crock pot was pretty full. Here’s the pointer to the recipe.Pot roast is best when the meat falls apart when poked with a fork.

Even Jonathan liked it. Jonathan is 3 1/2 and has moved up to a booster seat to sit at the table. He usually likes to have his food on his Winny the Pooh plate. Jonathan is going through a ketchup phase. He likes ketchup with most everything.

Sometimes the ketchup phase lasts a life time. Our friend Shawn is 40 some years old and still puts ketchup on his eggs and other stuff. Sean’s significant other (Vickie) still tries to break him of the habit. So far that hasn’t worked. I always tell Vickie that there are far worse habits that a man can have. Ketchup on eggs is not one of them.

Steak and Asparagus Stir Fry

February 27, 2015

2015-02-26 19.07.45Last night, Paula and I were talking about what to do for dinner. We had some thin cut steaks in the refrigerator. They were a bit thin for cooking on the Foreman Grill and we don’t have a gas BBQ grill (forbidden by our condo rules). So I suggested doing a stir fry. In our house, he (or she) who proposes, disposes.

So here’s what I did. I cut the steaks into half inch strips and put them in a bowl. I added about 3Tbs of Worcestershire sauce, 3Tbs of Terriyaki sauce and 3 Tbs of Balsamic vinegar (to tenderize). I let the meat marinate in the bowl for about 45 minutes.

Then I sliced a medium onion and added it to the frying pan. Add 3 Tbs of Olive oil and the onions. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the meat mixture and cook for about 10 minutes. I then added a package of frozen asoaragus (just happened to have the frozen asparagus on hand). If we had fresh, I would have used it. Cook another 10 minutes,

Finally I added a Tbsp of flour to thicken the sauce in the frying pan.

2015-02-26 19.07.50Meanwhile, just before all this started I put on a box of Near East Rice Pilaf to cook which takes about 25 minutes. Serve the steak and asparagus over the rice.