Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's Spring, Finally!

The weeks go by so fast that I feel my head is spinning most of the time.  I have so many good intentions but most never come to life. 

Since the pictures of my latest meals are still in the camera I thought I would share a couple of pictures that make me happy...

The first pictures of pansies by the front door and the yellow bell bush (my Grandma Nix called these forsythia bushes yellow bells or Easter bells so that is what I typically call them)  in my front yard.  These make me happy especially after the long cold and dark winter.

This one also makes me happy...

Bailey loves to go to the park and sometimes I catch him with the camera at the right moment.  Most of the time he is running around with sticks in his mouth wanting you to throw them so he can play keep away with you.

I'll get back to cooking soon as it's too hot to be outside :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Broccoli Rabe? No Way!

I love greens…turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens.  I like them the way my mom, Granny and Grandma Nix fix them, cooked long and slow with some bacon or “streaked meat” (or fatback).  And the BEST part is pouring the pot liquor over cornbread!  It makes me hungry just thinking about it now!

On one of our visits to New Jersey I came across another green I’m fond of…Broccoli Rabe (Rapini).  It was sautéed with olive oil and garlic and it was so good.  Now, that has been a few years ago and I’ve had it a couple of times since on our trips to New Jersey.  I come back from those trips with a renewed energy to find Broccoli Rabe in a local grocery store.  EVERY week I search the produce to see if there is, by chance, the broccoli rabe I’m looking for and EVERY week I’m disappointed.  EXCEPT last week!  The words had just left my mouth “Maybe one day they will actually have broccoli rabe” when right before my eyes…there it was.  I could not believe it!  Nick immediately got out the cell phone and called Liz and Ang to find out how best to fix this elusive green. 

Now, you have to understand that I went into the grocery store with my list which detailed the ingredients for a nice Baked Ziti but that was all gone once I saw the broccoli rabe.  The menu immediately changed and I was so happy!  I was SO happy that it threw my whole psyche off and it took us FOREVER to get through the store because I just could not concentrate…thank goodness Nick understands (as best he can) my quirkiness.

We ended up fixing Broccoli Rabe with Sausage and Rigatoni…YUUUMMMYYY!!!  It was wonderful.  I actually blanched the broccoli rabe before I sautéed it and I probably would not do that again.  I was referencing a recipe I found online but I don’t think it needs to be blanched.  And the sausage left a little to be desired, it’s hard to get good italian sausage in the mountains of Northeast Georgia.

Here’s the recipe I came up with (including the blanching).  You can add the sausage or leave it out; I think it would be great without it.  I probably won’t blanche the broccoli rabe next time; I will just sauté it a little longer to make sure it’s not too bitter.

Broccoli Rabe w/ Sausage and Rigatoni

1-Bunch Broccoli Rabe (about a pound), cleaned
3-Cloves of Garlic, sliced
1-Pound Sweet Italian Sausage (can use links but remove from casing before cooking)
1-Pound Rigatoni, cooked al dente
2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ Cup of Chicken Stock
½ Cup of Pasta Water
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

Remove the long stems from the broccoli rabe and blanch in salted water for about 2 minutes.  Remove from hot water and place in ice water until cool.  Remove from ice water and place on kitchen towel and pat dry.  Set aside

If using link sausage, remove from casing and crumble into large frying pan.  Cook until done then remove from pan onto a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb some of the grease.  Set aside.

Add olive oil to frying pan.  When oil is hot add garlic and red pepper flakes.  Sauté garlic until lightly brown then add the broccoli rabe to pan.  Sauté for 2-3 minutes then add the chicken stock.  Sauté for 2-3 more minutes then add the sausage, broccoli rabe and pasta water.

Serve with grated Romano cheese and nice crusty bread.
Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Visiting Family

Wow!  It’s been a few WEEKS since I have posted.  I guess that corresponds to it being a few weeks since I’ve cooked anything worth talking about…and it’s true.  We have cooked but nothing worth mentioning.  Same old dishes every week.  That’s o.k., I don’t mind having the same thing from week to week but it’s just not worth telling everyone. 

We had company last week, Nick and Betsy passed through on their way to Texas for a wedding.  It was great to see them.  They got into town on Saturday, 3/5 so we visited our typical “first night” dinner spot, El Campesino.  It had been a while since we had been and it tasted great.  On Sunday, we visited The Dillard House in Dillard, GA for lunch.  It was wonderful too!  If you’ve never been to The Dillard House I suggest you check it out.  It is country comfort food at its best, except for eating at my Granny’s table on Sunday, it can’t be beat!

On Monday of their visit Nick made spaghetti sauce.  I came home from work and the house smelled wonderful!  I don’t usually eat lunch and I was starving.  It was a great meal with family. 

I always worry about Bailey when Nick and Betsy come for a visit.  We do not have a lot of visitors so Bailey gets SOOO excited when someone new comes into the house.  It’s different when I come in from work everyday…he sits in his spot until he is told it’s o.k. for him to move. BUT when someone new comes in it’s off to the races!  And, not everyone likes to be licked to death by a 100 pound shedding ball of energy.  He did very well though.  By Monday he was laying in the kitchen while Nick put the sauce together.  Now don’t get me wrong, we had our moments when he couldn’t help himself but he is growing up and learning so those moments where short and far apart.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nick's Birthday 2011

Friday, February 18th was Nick’s birthday.  He asked for a plain cheesecake with graham cracker crust for his cake and I was happy to oblige.  I left work early Friday so we got an early start on going to celebrate.  He wanted pizza so we found some of the best pizza we could find below the Mason-Dixon Line. 

Saturday I cooked Chicken Fried Steak and gravy, mashed potatoes, mustard greens and biscuits (ok…the biscuits were frozen and the greens were canned BUT both were good).  I want to thank Claire Perkins for her guidance on cooking the steak.  Nick has been asking for chicken fried steak for at least 10 years.  We went to San Antonio to visit Grandmother Carter in 2001 and we ate lunch with her at Earl Abel’s.  Both of us had chicken fried steak and gravy that day and it was delicious.  It was after that trip that I was asked to make chicken fried steak.  I have no idea why it took me so long to make it because it’s really not that hard.  I would always tell him I would be glad to make it then when we would be at the grocery store trying to figure out what to have for dinner we would not think of it…my memory is not what it used to be!

I used Top Round Steak instead of that chewy cubed steak.  My parent used to get the cubed steak and it was grizzly and chewy…the longer you chewed the bigger the piece got…UGH!  Claire said Top Round or Bottom Round Steak was the best way to go and it was delicious!  The crust fell off (I guess I’ll have to make more to get it rightJ) but other than that it was perfect.  I added a little cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to the flour; I mixed the eggs with the milk.  I tenderized the meat and worked off some built up frustration while I was at it.

All in all it was a great meal; I hope it was worth the wait!

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside"
Mark Twain

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rigatoni w/ Vodka Sauce

Happy Valentines Day! 

Nick and I spent Saturday evening preparing Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce for our early Valentines dinner.  After a little angst over the measurements that were NOT on the recipe I decided to use, the chopping was done and the flambé was complete and the sauce was in the pan.  After about an hour of simmering, the heavy cream was added.  YUMMY is all I can say.  Well, I will say one other thing…when you write a recipe, how about putting the quantity and sizes on the recipe.  For instance, this recipe called for “4 Cans of Crushed Tomatoes”…Really?  You can’t give me a can size?  Although it’s not relevant to the complaint, I will say that the recipe I was using was for 4 to 5 pounds of pasta and I was cutting it in half so we would have leftovers (but not too much) for this week.  Regardless, I did not realize that information was missing until I was making my list for the grocery store.  And, I found out that Nick and I have different thoughts on what the size of the can could be.  When I think of a “can of crushed tomatoes” I think of a 14.5 ounce can…a regular size can.  Nick, on the other hand thinks of a 28 ounce can.  This became an issue with me ALL day.  So, we used 2-28 ounce cans (to half the recipe) and the sauce was very good and that’s what counts.

I want to thank Michele Brigante who writes the blog at  She gave me such a quick response on my question concerning the can size.  She has some great recipes and this is only ONE of them.  Check her out.

Vodka Sauce

2 onions, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped, (separate light and dark green parts)
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
¼ lb Prosciutto di Parma, sliced into strips
1 ¼ cup vodka
2 cans tomato paste
4 – 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 Qt heavy cream
Kosher salt
Black pepper

In a large saucepan, sauté onions, garlic and light parts of scallions until soft on medium heat. Add Prosciutto and let cook for about one minute. Add vodka; turn up heat to medium high and cook until alcohol burns out about 4 minutes. Lower heat and add tomato paste and crushed tomatoes; stir. Add green parts of scallions, kosher salt and black pepper. Turn up heat until boiling, then lower heat. Let cook for 1 hour. Add cream; let simmer until starts bubbling and turn off heat.
This is enough sauce for about 4-5 lbs of pasta or more.

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." -- Luciano Pavarotti

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wishes and Weekends

The days go by so slow but the weeks fly by…how is that possible?  And the years are flying by at warp speed, that’s been happening to me since I turned 30.  When I was still in school and wishing for the weekend, my Dad would say “You’re wishing your life away” and I would say “Oh well, I’m ready for the weekend.”  Things haven’t changed that much…I still wish for the weekend on Monday morning and I’m still wishing my life away.  When summer vacation was over and it was time to head back to school I’d complain that it went by too fast.  My Dad would say “you think time goes by fast now, just wait, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”  He was right…the years are flying by with our minds so tied up with work, worries, money, appointments and everything else except slowing down to enjoy the simple things in life.

I like to spend most of my weekends enjoying the little things…taking Bailey to the park for a long walk, chasing a few squirrels and if it’s warm watching him have a big time running through the stinky water of the creek that runs through the park, taking a nap on Sunday afternoon, going to Granny’s house for Sunday Lunch and spending time with her, getting in the kitchen with my wonderful husband and whipping up a delicious meal with good music playing and sitting around my parents house talking about whatever subject pops into our heads…quality time.

This weekend I hope to get to enjoy several of those things.  As for the meal I’ll be cooking with my wonderful husband, I’m thinking Shrimp Scampi with Linguini.  I have to admit that I got this recipe from Tyler Florence.  I have tweaked it some but not much, it’s just about perfect in my opinion.  This morning as I left the house and it was cold and rainy I was wishing for the beach, warm weather and flip flops and this recipe popped into my head.  It just feels like summer and boy am I ready for summer.  I’m not “wishing my life away” this time, just wishing my front yard was surf and sand J

Try this recipe and see if you don’t think about the beach, flip flops and the sun.  It’s super easy, quick and tasty…what more can you ask for?
I’ll post a picture after I make it and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini
1 pound linguini
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large shallot, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
20 large shrimp, about 1 pound, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, juiced (I use 1 ½ lemons and the zest of 1 lemon for more zing)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to a boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates.  When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done.  Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.  Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm.   Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil.  When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta and reserved pasta water.  Stir well and season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle over a bit more olive oil, add freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and serve immediately.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Birthday Weekend

I had a great weekend!!!  Besides getting another year older the weekend could not have been better.  I'm sure that getting another year older is better than the alternative but a little disturbing too. 

The sun was out Saturday and Sunday with the temperature soaring to 66 and 70 degrees.  Nick and I took Bailey to the park Saturday morning so all of us could enjoy the wonderful weather together.  That evening Nick and I we to a Japanese restaurant for dinner and had a great time.

On Sunday Bailey and I visited my Dad for a while and Nick got some reading done for his classes.  After a painful and irritating trip to the grocery store Nick made his “quick” sauce and we had spaghetti.  It was delicious and the perfect way to end my birthday weekend.  My Mom made me a cake (German Chocolate layer cake with cream cheese icing) and it is wonderful.  I’ll have to get her to share the recipe, it’s the best birthday cake I’ve had!

Another year older and this week started the same as last week…funny how that happens! 

"Everything you see I owe to spaghetti." -- Sophia Loren
Filet and Chicken

Mai Tai

Birthday Spaghetti

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Tonight is leftover night...Chicken Pot Pie leftovers to be exact.  Thank goodness Nick does not mind eating leftovers because we do not throw anything away.  I made Chicken Pot Pie for dinner on Sunday and it will be so good tonight warmed up in the microwave and so quick too.  Tomorrow night will be Chili leftover night as we had Chili last night. 

Since I travel an hour to and from work every day I don't really cook that much during the week.  When I do cook I try to cook enough that we can have leftovers a day or two later.  Last night was Chili night so before I went to work yesterday morning everything went into the slow cooker and it was perfect when I got home.  Served with sour cream, cheddar cheese and tortilla chips all I can say is YUM!

My Chili is very simple and not very creative since I use a store bought chili kit and only add my ground beef, tomato sauce, pink beans, onions and a can of Rotel Hot.  I'd love to find a good and quick chili recipe but haven't put in the time to look.  I'm sure there are some recipes out there but I haven't found one that is quick yet.  All of them sound good but would take more time than I have in the mornings to put it together. 

I've been working on the cookbook too.  I've typed several recipes that I wrote down during the holidays while I had my parents in front of me to give me the blow-by-blow.  I am expecting some recipes in the mail this week and I'm so excited.  I can't wait to see and try some of them.

The weekend is approaching, thank goodness.  Once I've come up with a food plan I'll let you know.

"Everything you see I owe to spaghetti." -- Sophia Loren

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday Night Meal

Sunday was the perfect time for Chicken Pot Pie.  Nick loves this dish and mentioned last week it was time for us to have it.  I cooked some boneless chicken breasts that were on sale a couple of weeks ago instead of using the rotisserie chicken that I typically use.  This recipe is so easy and tastes so good.  This was my only cooking experience this weekend.  I had originally planned on trying a new recipe for Vodka Sauce this weekend but got lazy after my brother left Sunday afternoon and didn't want to go to the grocery store to get the things I needed.  This happens to me alot but I think the Chicken Pot Pie was a nice substitute.  Maybe I'll have the Vodka Sauce for my birthday dinner this coming weekend.

I'm trying now to figure out what the menu will be this week.  I'm thinking a big pot of chili is due and I'm sure spaghetti will work it's way in also. 

Here's the recipe for the Chicke Pot Pie:

Quick & Easy Chicken Pot Pie:
2 - Cans Cream of Potato Soup
1 - 16 oz. Can Veg-All, drained
2 Cups chopped cooked chicken *(I typical use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
1/2 Cup chicken broth
1/2 Cup Milk
1/8 tsp thyme
black pepper to suit taste
2 - 9" Refrigerated Pie Crusts
1 Egg, beaten

Drain Veg-All. Combine all ingredients, except egg, in a bowl and mix well.  Put one crust in the bottom of a pie plate, spoon mixture in pie plate and cover with other crust and crimp edges to seal.  Cut 3-4 slits in top of crust then brush with beaten egg for a golden brown crust.  Cook in a 375 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling through slits in crust.  Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.
 Serve & enjoy!

*I have used 2-3 boneless chicken breasts boiled in water, butter, salt, pepper and garlic instead of the rotisserie chicken.  I usually use the whole rotisserie chicken without the skin.

Let me know what you think if you try it.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cooking for the Week

I need to write on this blog more about what I cook during the week...which is not much, maybe that's why I don't think it's worth the effort to put it in writing. 

In the cold months, Mondays are typically for soups, chili, etc.  I like to put on a crock pot full of chili or soup before I leave for work and walk in the door that evening and smell all that goodness.  This year I have incorporated a Taco Soup into the rotation and I love it.  It's SO easy and SO good.  I like to serve it with tortilla chips and a spoon full of sour cream and cheddar cheese.  This week the soup of choice was Vegetable Beef Soup.  My mom has made this soup as long as I can remember and it's one of my favorites.  It too is easy and smells delicious after cooking in the slow cooker all day.  I like to have cornbread with Vegetable Beef Soup...that's the way I had it growing up so that's the way I like it now.  And the soup leftovers are wonderful which we usually have on Wednesday or Thursday.

The food for the rest of the week has been boring...jar spaghetti sauce with frozen ravioli, frozen mac and cheese, left over soup and I'm not sure what tonight or the weekend will hold.

Last weekend I tried my hand at a London Broil...first time.  The menu was London Broil with Twice Baked Potatoes and bread of course.  I have to say that the London Broil was terrible...the taste was good thanks to the marinade, if you could cut it or bite it.  It was dry and tough BUT the potatoes were tasty.  Again, this was my first attempt at cooking a piece of meat under the broiler and I knew the possibilities going in but could not resist cooking it a few minutes too long.  I'll try it again the next time it's on sale and I know it will be better.  As Angela Batisa said to me "live and learn" and I have, concerning this anyway.

Here's the recipe I use for Taco Soup, it's best when there's snow on the ground!

2 Pounds browned ground beef (or cooked chicken)
1 Medium Size Onion (I use Vidalia, keepn' it local)
1 or 2 Cans Pink Beans (depending on how many beans you like)
2 Cans Whole Kernel Corn, drained
2 Cans Petite Diced Tomatoes (if you like it chunky don't use the petite diced)
1 Can Rotel Hot or Rotel with Green Chiles (I use the Hot)
1 pkg. Ranch Style Dressing
1 Pkg Taco Seasoning
2 or 3 tomato cans of water (depending on how soupy you want it)

Mix everything into the slow cooker and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.  Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream and your favorite shredded cheese.

Pics to follow. 

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 14, 2011

1/10/11 Snow Pics

Plans and Chicken Parm

Last weekend was more eventful than I had planned.  The plan for Saturday was to hit the grocery store with the other 100,000 people in town to get ready for the snow BUT it was not to be.  I spent from 11 AM until 4 PM helping my wonderful, kind and generous Dad replace the water pump in the Tahoe…UGH!  It was so cold but luckily we pulled the Tahoe in the garage and closed the door and had a heater running the garage.  You know, replacing a water pump is not that fun but I did enjoy spending time with my Dad although I would rather have spent time with him on his boat with a fishing pole in my hand (not with it 25 degrees and windy but you know what I mean).  So, after 2 trips to the parts store, lunch from Burger King and hours of wrestling, scraping and wrangling, the water pump was in and everything was back to some semblance of normal.  No wonder mechanics charge so much…nothing is easy.  Thank goodness Nick got back from his class meeting when he did, that trip to BK helped give us the energy to finish the job.

Sunday evening I made chicken parm with spaghetti.  Nick made his “quick” sauce for it…it was SO good.  As you can see the pieces of chicken are gigantic after pounding them out and frying them.  We have Nick’s “quick” sauce quite often with spaghetti, it was perfect for the chicken parm.  I call it “quick” sauce because it only cooks about an hour not the ‘simmering all day” sauce.

The whole time I’m cooking I’m looking for the snow as I had already planned on NOT being able to work Monday.  Finally at Midnight we had our first flake with almost 8” to follow.  And I couldn’t work Tuesday either…woo hoo!  Bailey LOVES the snow!

Monday I put on a crock pot full of taco soup and it hit the spot with all that snow on the ground.  Those chicken parm leftovers were great on Tuesday too. 

The snow is melting and I’m back to work but at least it’s Friday.  I’m not sure what the menu holds for the weekend…maybe meatloaf and mashed potatoes, we haven’t had that in a long time.  I have a great recipe for meatloaf cooked in the microwave but I may go old school and cook it in the oven…hmmm decisions, decisions.
Eat something good this weekend!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WOW what a weekend!!  We had 7" of snow and ice but the power never went off...thank goodness.  I have pics to share of the chicken parm and of the snow but with all the sitting around and playing in the snow I didn't get them from the camera to the computer.  Being back at work with all this snow on the ground stinks but whatcha gonna do?!?

Hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


This was the day after Christmas...Bailey is in hot pursuit of something...

This is Bailey...he LOVES this football! He was happy to see a white Christmas too!

The Beginning

"Ya'll come in and fix you a plate" My Granny says this every time I walk in her door. And I usually do, fix myself a plate of something good to eat. I love to eat and I love sharing recipes.
I created this blog to help me with my project of putting together a family cookbook. A compilation of recipes from my family and Nick's family. And, so I can let everyone know what's going on with my family. Most of the time there's not alot to report but every now and then something happens that I would love to shout from the top of the mountain. This is my mountain.
As you can see by the pic attached, I love mac and cheese. I have my Mom's recipe and will include it in the family cookbook. I invite everyone to send me ANY recipes you would like to share. Feel free to post them to the blog, send them in an email or mail them to me. I'm looking for family recipes, recipes you have created or enhanced, recipes handwritten by long gone family members and basically any recipes you love and you want to share.
Eventually, I'll put all the recipes together in a cookbook that can be printed and shared with everyone. I don't have all the details worked out yet but I know it will be great.
I can't wait to see your recipes!