Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Think I'm In Love

My favorite chip is the last one on the plate, the one that sat next to the dill pickle spear for the whole meal.
I am in love with these chips. I haven't had anything this good since I quit working in that office that was on the Charles Chips delivery route (and these might be better.)

Alas they are not easy to come by.... but I can imagine going thru a case of them over the summer, what with sharing and some hamburger cookouts!

Here is how Route 11 describes themselves on the back of the bag, "Relative to the rest of the snack world, we are still small potatoes. And that's exactly how we like it. This small size affords a chipper attention to detail."

Here is a link to the Route 11 Website where you can see all their flavors, look for stores that sell their chips in your area and contemplate ordering a case if nobody in your area sells their chips (I tell you I'm really considering it!)
And I find this flavor really intriguing!
Mama Zuma's Revenge Green Chile Enchilada (Mild) I wonder if I can track down a bag of this flavor to try?

Update: 11/14/09 I found these at a World Market store. It isn't listed on the website of companies that carry them, so I don't think it's something they carry all the time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Zucchini Soup

This is an easy soup and it goes together real quickly. It's delicious & has a velvety, smooth texture. I had a bowl of it for lunch, today, with half a chicken salad sandwich. It's been raining all day so I'm planning Zucchini Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for tonight's dinner. This recipe came from my Mother, Cathy Black, her recipe notes say she discovered it in 1996 and credits the recipe to Marlene Sorosky. I have a number of Sorosky's books in my cookbook library. For years I made this soup with 2% milk before I realized it called for half and half. I bought the ingredients from memory, so today I used cream instead of half and half. Today I prepared a half recipe.

Zucchini Soup
3 lbs Zucchini
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (white pepper is wonderful in cream soups!)
2 (10 3/4 oz) cans Condensed Chicken Broth
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups half & half
Salt & white pepper to taste
chopped chives (optional garnish)

Wash and cut the zucchini into 1 inch pieces. Place in a saucepan or pot 6 quarts or larger. Add all ingredients up to (not including) half & half. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes.

Blend (by batches) in a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade. A blender gives a silkier texture, but beware blender lids can fly off when heated by hot liquid... to avoid burns and mess blend in small batches and hold down the blender jar lid with a folded kitchen towel, this will protect you from explosion & scalding splashes.

Return to the pan and stir in half and half. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Stir over moderate heat until heated through. Can be refrigerated or frozen at this point.
Serves 8

Meal Planning

I've written it on my kitchen message board & done the grocery shopping
This week I'm planning to make (in no particular order)
Chicken Georgia
Mughlai Chicken and Rice for a Curry Banquet
Zucchini Soup

I wonder if I will stay on my plan... I cook a lot by mood & whim.

11/02/09 Update: I've made the zucchini soup & last night I made Chicken Georgia and the Risotto to go with it. I have 3 chicken breasts leftover so tonight I'm planning to have those with asparagus & make another batch of risotto, beuase it was heavnly. Holding off on the Mughali Chicken as Ethan and I have colds & I try to stay away from large amounts of dairy when fighting a cold.

Bento Box Lunch 2

It seems that Ethan is just ready to try all kinds of new things that he didn't like before...
Last night he tasted chicken salad and loved it... I could never get him to eat anything like that, before. He liked it so much he requested it in his lunch.

In the blue muffin cup we have Chicken Salad (from H.E.B. they make it out of rotisserie chicken.)
In the red muffin cup are Ritz crackers to eat with the chicken and some smokehouse almonds.
I used sword toothpicks as a skewer for some cheese cubes and fan folded salami and turkey pepperoni onto a second then tucked a few grapes into the gaps.

I was concerned that the chicken salad stay cold enough so I remembered a trick I read on another blog (which I can't find, now.) I prepped the lunch last night (except crackers & nuts.) I chilled the lunch, bentobox & his lunchbox over night to keep everything chilled down. This morning I pulled it out of the fridge, added the ice pack to the bento lid & placed a frozen Capri Sun in the outer lunchbox.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How I learned to Cook - Part 1

My mother was the younger of two sisters, her older sister was the cook and Mom did the washing up... this was her explanation of how she came to be a bride without cooking skills. This was an amazing concept to me as my mother became a wonderful cook. She believed that it was worth taking the time to do things "the right way" which generally meant making it yourself the long way.

To illustrate how very far she had come she would relate the story of a frantic call to her sister, Virginia, regarding spaghetti. Mom didn't know how to cook it because she didn't have a stockpot wide enough to accommodate the long noodles. Aunt Virginia had to explain how they would soften and melt into the pot once she put them in the hot water. (because of this story I shake my head at Rachael Ray selling an oval deep pot "for spaghetti.")

By the time I arrived on the scene Mom was a great cook, baker & cake decorator, she made great dinners every night, cooked staggering holiday meals, and was intimidatingly accomplished at entertaining. Yet somehow, according to my mother, I am a self-taught cook.

Because I have so much to say on this subject this will be an ongoing post.
How did you learn to cook? Comment, or blog about it and drop a link to your post in the comments.

This post was prompted by Sarah Joy Albrecht, who is thinking about teaching kids to cook this month & is giving away a cool set of Bento supplies to one lucky person on her blog.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Packed My First Bento Lunch

About a month ago I had a post where I shared about Wendolonia, Wendy Copley, and her wonderful Bento-Box Lunches that she packs for her son Here is a link to the previous post about Wendolonia. I have been watching Wendy's site and playing with the idea of trying it since the beginning of the school year this year. Ethan's lunches have been a lot healthier this year, in part from his willingness to eat more variety and in part from my getting ideas from watching Wendolonia. I've had my eye open for Bento supplies, but haven't found any in local stores. I was getting ready to break down and get one of the more expensive boxes on Amazon... but yesterday I finally found something that would work at H.E.B. (Texas supermarket chain.)

So here is my first try at packing a Bento Style lunch.
Inside the "lunch pod" is Ethan's current favorite sandwich... he is a creature of habit he wants certain things to remain the same. Ethan never would eat the bread in sandwiches until I started making them on a bun or a roll. I used to get these wonderful mini-hoagie rolls but the market quit carrying them so this is an OROWEAT French Roll cut in half, dressed with mayonnaise and spicy mustard (a newly discovered like), then stacked with Italian cold cuts: Mortadella, Genoa Salami, and Turkey Pepperoni, and today I also added a slice of Provalone cheese. In the Muffin cup I have hulled strawberries and a few grapes. Ethan loves Strawberries and doesn't eat grapes, but I thought we'd try to branch out and see if the novelty of the new lunchbox would get him to try them. Below the fruit cup is a banana nut mini-muffin, a second muffin cut in half was packed in the empty spots to try to keep the food from moving around in the box. There are also some smokehouse almonds that I tried to use to fill in space, but they feel down to the bottom and don't show. Ethan very recently discovered that he loves smokehouse almonds. The lunch pod has a lid that goes on top. I placed all inside his regular lunchbox which left just enough room for a Capri Sun and a small cup of Strawberry Cream Cheese Fruit Dip with sprinkles to make it look festive (the container has a lid too.) I had intended to pack the fruit dip in the lunch pod but the container stuck up too high to fit.

Here is the "Lunch POD" it's made by a company called fit&fresh. There is the main box and a lid and an ice pack that clips into place on the underside of the lid. I also found some Silicon cupcake holders these are Jumbo Size... the store only had Jumbo or mini-muffin size and the mini-size was too short. The silicon cups hold things in place while not allowing them to touch other foods and mix flavors. The idea is that the lid of the box fits so closely to the top of the cup that it forms a kind-of seal... I have even seen applesauce packed in a cup like that... I'm not that adventurous yet. The silicon cups were about $6.95 for a set of 6 and the Lunch POD was $6.27 both pretty reasonable especially in comparison to the prices for things I've seen online.

When I showed Robert the Lunch POD he was a little pouty that it wasn't for him, I now am charged with going back to H.E.B. to get him a fit&fresh Salad Shaker. Robert always buys lunch but if a fun container will get him to pack lunch I'm sure that will be much healthier! The website for fit&fresh is My previous post about bentos has links to Wendolonia's site, her FAQ page and her Lunch Box Ideas a great list of ideas of things to pack in a lunch I encourage you to check them out.

Well, Ethan struggled with the fruit dip container, it was too hard to open so he didn't have much time left to eat. He only had time for the strawberries and grapes. WHAT!!! I try to act nonchalant as my grape-hating son tells me that he ate the grapes and they were really good. :)
Now to find a more user friendly way of sending the dip for the fruit...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cool Website - Parent Hacks

I just discovered this website... all kinds of cool little handy tricks for parents.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

iPod stand from Coffee Sleeve

OK crafters... I know these would be easy to embellish... I'm saving this idea for when I get an iPhone. LOL!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mughlai Chicken & Rice

Tonight I made another Nigella Lawson recipe and it was WONDERFUL. We had Mughali Chicken and Aromatic Rice. Oh it was heavenly... so many wonderful spices but not hot. It reminded me of Colonel Brandon's famous line... "The air was full of spices."

I will warn you this recipe was more labor intensive than I expected and somehow I was missing the 2nd page which included instructions to simmer for an additional 20 minutes... what with all of this
I didn't get dinner onto the table until past 8:30 but what a heavenly plate it was when it finally arrived.

I left out the chile flake (I am a definite spice wimp) and the golden sultanas (because I'm allergic to fruit and Ethan doesn't like raisins.) I used just under 2 pounds of meat rather than 3 and my family of 3 polished it off, we do have a little rice and a lot of sauce left, but the meat is all gone.

I made 1/2 a recipe of the rice as I was not serving a banquet, only my family of 3. I tracked down all the specialty ingredients at H.E.B. Market including the almond flour - which was a bit pricey, the Nigella Seeds (which were labeled as "black sesame seeds"), Greek Yogurt, and whole cardomom.

This dish was decadent and I will totally be making it again! --- Perhaps next time I'll take some photos....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Broccoli Casserole

This is a recipe out of Paula Deen and friends. It is one of Ethan's favorite things to eat and I made it tonight because he informed me that he was tired of meat, he wanted to eat Broccoli Casserole. Everybody does seem to like this one.

Paula states that you need to use a metal spoon to mix this up because it's really stiff. To this I say "Pish" just add the ingredients in the order I describe and it goes together fluffy and light.

Broccoli Casserole

Two eggs
One cup mayonnaise
One 10 3/4 can condensed cream of mushroom soup (original recipe is best)
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
Two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
2 cups crushed Ritz or cheese crackers (I used one sleeve of Ritz use 2 sleeves if you like a taller layer of crackers - those golden, buttery cracker crumbs are quite tasty!)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a very large bowl beat the two eggs, then add mayo, soup and cheese and mix thoroughly, then mix in the broccoli. Spread broccoli mixture into a 9"x13" baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (Pam.)

Place Ritz crackers in a 1 gallon zipper bag, squeeze out excess air and seal. Crush crackers, you can roll with a rolling pin, bash with a skillet, or just push down on the bag a few times with the baking dish. Melt the butter, pour into the cracker crumbs, re-seal bag and shake a few times to distribute butter. Spread buttered crumbs onto the top of the casserole and bake until set and browned, about 35 minutes in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

serves 8-10

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Google Wave - What will you use it for?

So I have been hearing about this upcoming Google Wave, that it's going to be the next "thing", that it will be revolutionary. It is now in "limited preview" release, a small number of invitations have gone out for people to try it. I signed up on the website and eventually when it goes out to wider release, I'll get my invitation. The original video about Google Wave was 80 minutes, so I never got around to watching it... but today I found a nice little 8 minute video.

WOW this is incredible... and it answers a question I have had at the back of my mind. I have really been wanting to try to start some sort of an online Bible Study... but I couldn't quite figure out how to make it work. I think this would be the perfect tool, as it would allow discussion and interaction in a way that a usual style chat room would not. I'm also excited to see that it can be added to a blog. That could be really interesting.

So - are you interested in Google Wave? What might you use it for?

If you're interested in Google Wave, Here is where you can register for an invitation... from what I hear it's a really long list.... but eventually they'll get capacity up to be able to accommodate all of us.

Here is a link where you can go see the Loooong Video & a few others.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Today I can not see past the pile of dishes that will be dirty again, tomorrow.