Friday, February 29, 2008


Yippee! We're home owners! And we finally have internets! We have officially vacated our former apartment and have all of our stuff in one place. In another day or two I expect to be making stuff! We need one more piece of furniture from ikea and the kitchen will be all set up.'s a good thing!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


So we've moved! YEAH! It's great. But the sucky part is the slow timeframe for getting the internet/phone/tv set up...we'll be out for another week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008



It's real and it's NICE! Can't wait for my stuff to arrive so I can christen the kitchen with something Fab-U-Lous!

PS: That's my neighbor's house in the background, not mine. I didn't get the best picture with the camera phone!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cheese Fondue

Last night's dinner was a bit in line with the Valentine's Day spirit...Cheese Fondue! Super tasty and really easy to make. The recipe is for four, I didn't split the recipe and made the full amount. Pretty much spot on, there was just way to much cheesey, melty goodness for too people. I cheaped out one thing...the wine! Partly I cheaped out, Partly, the selections I had to choose from were slim to none! This recipe requires wine that you would LOVE to drink by the glass. The taste I had before I started cooking was fine...when I sat down with the glass I found it repulsive. So there was an undertone to the fondue that I wasn't fond of; a bitter acidity. It wasn't horrible and we certainly kept eating, but if would have been much better with a higher quality of wine. Also, we served the fondue with large amounts of bread cubes and two medium apples. Plus a little thinnly sliced soppresata on the side!

Cheese Fondue
Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère
1 1/2 cups grated Emmental
1/2 cup of grated Appenzeller
2 tablespoons cornstarch or all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, halved
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Splash of kirsch
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg

1. In a medium-size bowl, combine the three cheeses and toss with the cornstarch or flour.

2. Rub the inside of a fondue pot with the garlic halves. Add the wine and heat over medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Stir in the lemon juice and kirsch.

3. Add a handful of cheese at a time to the wine mixture, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, wait for each portion of cheese to melt before adding the next. Continue stirring until the cheese is completely melted, bubbling gently and has the appearance of a light, creamy sauce. Season to taste with pepper and nutmeg.

4. Remove the pot from the heat and place over an alcohol safety burner set on a table. Adjust the burner flame so the fondue continues to bubble gently.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

T minus 6

White Gerbil: Hey Guess What?

Brown Gerbil: Nom Nom Nom.

W.G.: Guess What?

B.G.: What!

W.G.: We're going to be home owners in less than a week!

B.G.: Cool.

W.G.: You're not excited?

B.G.: Shut up and finish your carrots.

W.G.: Fine, but I'm still excited I'll start moving in less than a week!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Dive In The Deep End

Let's just jump right in. Recipes will be at the bottom.

First we get a little starter going in the mixing bowl. Flour, Sugar, Yeast, Water.

We add more flour, salt and some oil. It's starting to pull together.

The dough pulls into a ball after nearly 4 minutes!

Oil it up and let is sit.

It'll double in size.

Press the dough into your spring form pan, don't forget the sides.

First you need to lay in some slices of mozzarella. Then add in some pre-cooked sausage, broken into pieces.

We need some tomatoes. I'm moving, so I choose to use my 28oz can of San Marzano! Sweet heaven.

Break those whole, peeled tomatoes into chunks.

Add the sauce on top of the sausage and cheese.

Sprinkle some Italian seasoning on top, more or less to taste.

A handful of grated Parm.

Bake for almost fifty minutes in a very hot oven.

You may need to cut around the sides to release, if any of the tomatoes spilled over and caramelized.

The first slices really 'melted' when cut. There was a lot of liquid in that deep dish.

Carnage! But dang good!!! Seriously tasty. Take that Pizzeria Uno...I drove a quarter of the way across the country to have the original and I liked this so much more.

And now the instructions:

Pizza Dough

2 to 2 1/4 cups flour
1/4-ounce package fast acting yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

In the your mixers bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of flour, yeast, sugar, and 2/3 cup hot water (130 dgrees F).

Add the oil, 1 1/4 cups of the remaining flour, and the salt and blend the mixture until it forms a dough, about 4 minutes on medium speed.

The dough may be used immediately, but for better flavor it is best to let it rise once. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and turn it to coat it with the oil. Let the dough rise, covered, in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until it is double in bulk, and punch it down.
Topping and Sauce

1/2 lb mozzarella cheese slices
1/2 lb bulk sausage
1 28 oz can of whole, peeled tomatoes
Pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder
Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan cheese

*Preheat the oven to 475F.

Cook the sausage, in small discs, until browned and cooked, over medium heat.

Meanwhile, form the dough into your spring form pan. Press the dough out into a large disc shape, gently lay the dough into the pan, press the dough up the sides of the pan.

Lay your cheese slices for the first level. Break the sausage into bite size pieces, this is your next layer.

Break the tomatoes into pieces. Season with the sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder. Spoon the tomatoes on top of the cheese and sausage.

Sprinkle the top with Italian seasoning and the grated Parm.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, the edges of the dough will be peeking from the pan with a light golden brown kiss.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, cut into wedges and serve.

NOTE: This came from several recipes I had in my files, with no credit. If you know who these came from, or have seen them online elsewhere, please let me know and I'll give proper credit.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Something's Coming

The springform pan came out one more time before it's packed up.

What did I do? It was delicious, that's all I'm telling for now.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Blueberry Ice Cream

Last night for dinner, we had this...again! Sooo tasty, but I made way too much last night.

And then for dessert I made us some Blueberry Ice Cream for J-lo's b-day treat.

Simmer 2 cups of blueberries (frozen or fresh) with 2/3 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of juice. If you can find blueberry juice, use that, or a blueberry blend, or apple, or cranberry, or orange...

Simmer for 10 minutes over medium/medium low heat until the berries have released their juice and flavor and the sugar has melted. Cool for an hour.

Add 2 cups of 1/2 & 1/2, stir and pour into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions. Enjoy!

Great flavor, smooth and creamy!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Börk! Börk! Börk!

Time-a to-a make-a Swee-dish meat-a ball-a!
Börk! Börk! Börk!

Ground beef, 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 egg, salt, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger.

Roll up into little balls, I use a mini-ice cream scoop.

Finished with a pan sauce and served with some rice.

Swedish Meatballs, oven-baked
from Anne's Food

1 lb ground beef
1 yellow onion, very finely diced
1-2 small cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg
white pepper
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp allspice

Mix everything to an even mix, and form small, round balls.

Put in a large roasting pan, and bake for about 20 minutes at 350°F. Shake the pan a few times to ensure an even surface on your meatballs.

When my meatballs were done at this point, I took the pan out of the oven and shook them. And this is going to sound nasty, but stick with me; they were coated with coagulated proteins. And that's not the name of a new punk band! No, the fat and liquid in the beef cooked out in the oven and stuck to the meatballs. I took a slotted spoon and picked each one out and gave it a shake, the proteins rolled off and they were all set. I put the meatballs in a bowl and poured off all the fat and proteins. My meatballs lacked some color, so I put them back in the pan and did give them a quick fry over high heat to get some deep browning carmelization on them. This also gave me the opportunity to leave some bits and nibbles in the pan for the pan sauce.

When I had some good color on the meatballs, I removed them, back to a bowl and started on a pan sauce. I tossed in 1 TB of butter and 3 finely diced shallots. Season with salt and pepper and allow to simmer and saute for 2-4 minutes, until the shallots are tender. Add 1 TB of flour and stir to blend into the butter and shallots. Cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup beef broth. Stir to incorporate and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 TB of sour cream or heavy cream. Stir. Add the meatballs and 1 heaping TB of chopped parsley. Stir to coat. Serve with rice, potatoes, noodles or on their own.

These were easy. Fairly fast. But not 100% what I was hoping for. A few things to try the next time I try these..
1) Use a blend of ground meats; beef & pork, maybe a blend from the store of beef, pork, veal. Something to supplement and improve the flavor of the beef.
2) I think the two types of cooking over cooked the meatballs. First in the oven, then on the stove top to get some color. I'm not sure if I should do them again in the oven for 10 minutes, then the stovetop for a few minutes? They were cooked through in the oven, the extra time on the stovetop forced out any remaining moisture creating a very dry meatball and the extra heat toughened them up. Or, maybe I can put a rack on my pan and cook the meatballs that way, so the fat and proteins drip away, and allowing for more of a roasted version, allowing for carmelization and browning.
3) Even though the onions and garlic cook in the meatballs, I would saute them for a few minutes before mixing with the ground meat. Raw onions and garlic don't play well with my belly and they revisit me often, over the next few hours.
4) And finally, double the gravy!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's Mac & Cheese, but I'm calling it something else

A close up of some lightly roasted tomatoes and panko breadcrumbs.

Not bad looking for a quick throw together meal!

So what do we have here?

We have...

3/4 lb elbow macaroni, cooked to al dente

Then a chili cheesy sauce made by:

Melting 3 TB butter in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Add one diced onion and a hefty pinch of salt. Saute for 3-5 minutes until they start to soften. Add 1 heaping TB of chili powder and 1/2 TB of dried mustard. Stir to incorporate; adding the spices in the hot fat allows the flavors to bloom and come alive, especially if they may not be the freshest spices. Add 3 TB of flour to the pan. Stir to incorporate and allow to cook for about a minute. This is a roux. Add 1 cup of chicken broth, stir to fully blend together. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Stir. Now add the cheese. I used up a few types of cheese I had left over, but you generally want about 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese. Cheddar is especially nice, but a blend of cheeses is also a very nice treat! Stir until melted and gooey. Taste and adjust seasoning.

For a little protein, I added one boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces. Add at this point.

When your pasta is cooked, drain and added to the cheese sauce. Stir.

Pour into a baking dish, a square 9x9 is good. My pan was about 10 x 5 or some abnormal size like that. Sprinkle the top with diced & seeded tomato, about two roma tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little grated parmesan if you have it and toasted bread crumbs seasoned with a little salt, pepper and dried thyme. Bake for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Chicken Chili Mac!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rustica is code for lazy!

Thursday's dinner barely happened. I was tired. Pooped out, ready for bed at 5pm tired. After an hour on the couch thinking about the importance of things like the softness of the cushions I was resting on, the hunger pains struck. We considered by passing the meal we had planned for the evening, but after some hemming and hawing on my part I finally admitted to myself I can have dinner made in the time delivery took to arrive, the meal would be better than what delivery would bring and I'd save some was perfect for the type of night I felt like having. Hearty. Filling. And simple to make.

Pasta Rustica
serves 2-4

2 TB Olive oil
1 large Onion, diced
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Carrots, peeled and diced
1 TB Tomato paste
1 14 oz can diced Tomatoes
2 TB Basil, chopped
1 cup Chicken broth
1 boneless, skinless Chicken Breast, cut to bite size pieces
3/4 pound Penne pasta
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion, garlic and carrots. Cook until just soft. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the tomatoes, basil, and broth. Bring to a simmer, add the chicken. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Cook and drain the pasta. Toss in the sauce. Place in bowls and top with grated cheese.

Carrots, Onions, Garlic

Canned tomatoes added to the mix

Brothy. Soupy actually. You want it a little brothy, but not too'll know what's right. Don't fret. When it's back to a simmer, add the chicken bites.

Done. Simple, easy dinner.