Sunday, November 30, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

This week we will be working our way through the rest of our turkey leftovers. Even after making soup and a salad we still have quite a bit left.

Sunday: Forage in the Fridge
Monday: Turkey Quesedillas (using this recipe)
Tuesday: Turkey with Pasta
Wednesday: Homemade Pizza
Thursday: Turkey Bacon Ranch Calzones (if we are out of turkey, we will have chicken)
Friday: BBQ Beef in the slow cooker
Saturday: Mr. Gooch is out of town so who knows

Turkey Noodle Soup and Stock

Since we had a 13 pound turkey and only 4 people at dinner, it goes without saying that we had lots of leftovers. We have already started eating our way through them at quite a rapid pace. I suppose it helps that we both love turkey.

This afternoon, we had turkey noodle soup for lunch. Using the turkey stock I made yesterday, this was a tasty way to use up more of our leftovers.

There was enough made to bag up and freeze for future consumption.

Turkey Noodle Soup
Turkey stock (recipe below)
Carrots reserved from making stock
Pasta (I used bow tie pasta)
Turkey reserved from making stock

Place strained stock in stockpot
Add pasta.
Bring to boil and cook according to directions.
With 2 minutes left in pasta cooking time, add carrots and turkey.
Serve with crackers.

Turkey Stock
1 turkey carcass, wrapped in cheesecloth
2 cups carrots
2 onions, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 head garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon Oregano
1 bunch Celery, chopped
5 Bay leaves

Place cheesecloth wrapped turkey, carrots, onions, green onions, garlic, celery and seasonings into a large stockpot.
Fill stockpot with water, almost to the top, covering all contents.
Bring to boil then reduce to low simmer.
Simmer for 3-4 hours.
Remove stockpot from heat and let cool completely.
Once cooled, remove the cheesecloth covered turkey and place onto a cookie sheet.
Remove all the turkey meat from the bones and reserve for soup.
Discard the bones.
Strain stock into a large bowl.
Remove carrots and reserve for making soup.
Discard the rest of the vegetables and bay leaves.

Turkey Stock and Turley Noddle Soup

A great way to get one more tasty recipe and ...

See Turkey Stock and Turley Noddle Soup on Key Ingredient.

Family Favorite from Mr. Gooch's Mom: Scalloped Corn

This dish is a traditional Thanksgiving dish for Mr. Gooch's family. It is served every year and at most major family gatherings.

My mother-in-law didn't even have the recipe written down so I had to ask her to type it up for me.

Scalloped Corn

2 whole eggs, well beaten
1 can evaporated milk (sweetened condensed milk can be used if you wish
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 Tsp. garlic salt
1 Tsp. black pepper
2 cans creamed corn
1 sleeve saltine crackers, finely crushed
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large glass bowl, mix eggs, evaporated milk,onion, garlic salt, and black pepper well.
Add creamed corn, making sure mixture is combined completely.
Mix in finely crushed saltines until thoroughly incorporated.
Butter 9 x 9 deep casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of butter, leaving some butter at corners.
Pour corn mixture into dish. Add two tablespoons of butter on top and finish with additional garlic salt and black pepper.
Bake approx. 45 mins. to one hour.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving - A Quick Review of the Day's Recipes

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Mr. Gooch and I had a great day with his mother and grandmother and we all ate until we thought we were going to burst.

I will be blogging about all the recipes we made for today in the coming days, but I wanted to give a quick review of each one in case anyone is celebrating with their family this weekend.

Good Eats Roast Turkey - So moist and tender. The key seems to be brining the turkey. Our 13.5 lb turkey was in the brine for about 14 hours. Also key is the 30 minutes at 500 degrees to brown the turkey and seal in all the juices.

Alton Brown's Best Gravy Ever - Everyone seemed to like it even though I realized well after the fact (when we were starting the dishes actually) I forgot to add the salt, pepper and fresh rosemary.

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs - These were good. The only change I have is that next time I will add more Parmesan cheese and some roasted garlic.

Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce - I am not a huge cranberry sauce fan but I realize after eating this version, it was because I do not like the canned kind. The ginger gives it a nice bit of zing and I am a cranberry sauce convert.

Honey Wheat Dinner Rolls - I loved these rolls. They had just the right amount of sweetness. The only problem I had was I left them in about two-three minutes too long and the bottoms of the rolls got a bit burnt.

Dilled Carrots - Always a family favorite.

Creamed Corn with Pearl Onions (a favorite of Mr. Gooch's made by his mother) - based on everyone's reviews, this one was good as usual.

Mixed Berry Cheesecake - Holy cow! This may be the best cheesecake I ever tasted. It was light and the lemon zest gave it just the right amount of citrus flavor. With berries on the side, it was the perfect end to the meal.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Taste of the Season - White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

I am so glad that the pumpkin season is almost over. That means it is time for the cranberry to shine in baking and cooking. And to start off the cranberry season, I made some of the tastiest white chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookies ever.

Using a recipe found on Fresh from Cate's Kitchen (click here to view Cate's blog), these cookies barely lasted 56 hours in our house.

If you are looking for an easy and incredibly tasting cookie, this is the one for you.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used freshly grated nutmeg instead)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
Stir in oats, flour mixture, white chocolate, and cranberries and mix until combined.
Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes, until just beginning to get a little color.

Panko, I Finally Get It - Zesty Italian Baked Chicken

My goal is to try one new recipe each week and my Google Reader is full of possibilities. But many of them feature Panko as a key ingredient. Let me just start by saying I have always been a traditional breadcrumbs kind of girl so wasn't sure what all the hubbub was about. Well, now I get it and I am a convert. The crunchiness the Panko added to the recipe was amazing. I now want to Panko encrust everything before it goes in the oven.

I modified the original recipe since I thought it needed some crunch. To view the version I started with, click here. My version is below. Served with a salad, corn and rice made with chicken stock, this was a great meal.

Zesty Italian Baked Chicken

1/2 cup Zesty Italian reduced fat/low fat dressing
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into smaller pieces (I tried to make each piece about 6 oz./1 serving)
1/2 cup Parmesan grated cheese
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
1/2 cup finely shredded CoJack cheese

1. Pour the dressing into a resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken and seal the bag. Turn the bag over several times to evenly coat the chicken with the dressing. Refrigerate the chicken in the dressing for at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
4. In a large bowl mix the Parmesan cheese, CoJack cheese, Italian seasoning and Panko. Dip the chicken into the mixture, turning to evenly coat both sides. Place in shallow baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Spread left over mixture on top of chicken pieces.
5. Bake for 30 minutes or until the chicken is 170 degrees.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's a DIY Christmas - Tile Coasters

**The first of several posts on the DIY projects Mr. Gooch and I will be completing over the next few weeks to put in our gift baskets running up to Christmas**

This year is a DIY Christmas. We are putting together gift baskets for everyone this year made up of DIY Projects (like these coasters) and soup/brownie/drink mixes packaged in a festive manner.

Tile Coasters

4 x 4 tiles (I used a tumbled marble) [make sure to get several more than the total number you need since inevitably several will go horribly wrong]
StazOn Stamping Ink (this is a permanent stamping ink)
Self Adhesive Felt
Sealer (I used a matte finish poly spray)

1. Rinse and dry tiles.

2. Place dry tile in center of your work area.

3. Select your stamp color.

4. Select your stamp.

5. Ink entire image, taking care to wipe off any excess that may have gotten on the edges of the stamp.

6. Line up stamp and press stamp with steady pressure onto tile.

7. Fill in any spaces in the image on the tile with permanent marker of the same color.

8. Let ink dry for 5 to 10 minutes, then place tile onto a cookie sheet and place in oven preheated to 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

9. Let cool completely.

10. Spray with sealer and let dry completely.

11. Place pieces of self adhesive felt to the bottom of the tile. I cut these in advance to speed this step. Each piece is about 1/4 inch square.

12. Tie coasters together with ribbon for gift giving.

TWD: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

No Tuesdays with Dorie for me this week. I am not a fan of nuts in my food and with that being an intergral part of this week's recipe, I have to take a pass.

For those here in the U.S., hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

For my other readers, don't forget to put Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours on your holiday gift list.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was not a great success but it isn't that big a deal. Mr. Gooch was sick for four days so he really didn't want to eat much of anything except soup and other a few other things that were not on the list. So the menu plan was put on the back burner until he felt better.

The ironic part is that now I have Mr. Gooch's cold so I am not sure what I will want to eat this week. But I am a trooper and plan to make most everything on the list unless I get totally incapacitated.

Sunday: Pot Stickers, Egg Rolls and Orange Chicken
Monday: Taco Stuffed Shells
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Chipotle Burritos (while prepping for Thanksgiving)
Thursday: Thanksgiving (see this post for our menu)
Friday: Leftovers (probably sandwiches)
Saturday: Leftovers (probably some sort of turkey casserole)

TWD: Arborio Rice Pudding

***I can't believe I screwed up. I had a draft of my TWD post ready to go last Tuesday and put in the wrong date to post. Ugh! This is what happens when I don't put things in my Outlook Calendar.***

This week on Tuesdays with Dorie, the recipe for Arborio Rice Pudding (found on pages 412-413 of Baking: From my Home to Yours) was selected by Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa. Visit her blog to get this week's recipe.

First I have to say that I didn't actually eat this week's recipe. I don't like rice pudding. Mr. Gooch is another story, however. He was so excited to find out I was going to be making one of his favorite desserts. Since his favorite flavors is vanilla, that is the only version I made. Add a little cinnamon and, according to Mr. Gooch, you have a perfect finish to a meal.

Having never made rice pudding before, I couldn't tell you how it compares to others, but it did seem to take FOREVER for the milk to thicken. And even after I don't even know how long, it still wasn't that thick.

But I would make it again since Mr. Gooch seemed to enjoy it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Mr. Gooch and I will be hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year.

I have never ever made a Turkey and I have never made the Thanksgiving meal. So this is all new for me.

But I have done a trial run of the set up of the table (see photo above), washed and laid out all the serving dishes on the buffet to make sure I have the right pieces and last but not least, finalized our menu. Thank goodness for blogs and the Food Network.

Good Eats Roast Turkey
Alton Brown's Best Gravy Ever
Stove Top Stuffing (Mr. Gooch really likes it)
Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs
Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce
Honey Wheat Dinner Rolls
Dilled Carrots
Creamed Corn with Pearl Onions - My mother in law is bringing
Dessert is still up in the air, but I can tell you there won't be pumpkin in it. I will admit it, I am a pumpkin hater. So if we do have pie, it will be apple (my favorite).

What's Cooking Fall Gift Exchange

Have you ever had a gift exchange with someone you don't know? I am not talking about being a "Christmas Angel, " donating a Thanksgiving dinner or giving a toy to Toys for Tots. I mean, when you are part of an online group or other organization where the members don't know each other in real life.

Well, until this year, I never had. But that has all changed. On the What's Cooking Community Board I frequent on The Nest, a fall gift exchange was arranged via Elfster. (What a neat web tool that is).

A dollar limit was set ($25), everyone was matched, you could post gift ideas and then you sent off your gift while waiting for your to arrive.

Well, I can tell you I was so excited to get my box on the front porch. The fact it was from Crate & Barrel was an added bonus. I big pink puffy heart Crate & Barrel.

FayeD, who was matched with me, sent three great items. An item I wanted; an item from her location; and an item she has and loves. The items were (in order) a dough scraper; Black Olive Spread and magnetic measuring spoons.

I can't wait to try them all out.

Thank you again FayeD!! Hope you have a happy holiday season.

Turkey Spaghetti Pie - Holy Tasty Dish Batman!

I will often read a recipe and think it will be tasty and then the actual results are not quite as expected. What a disappointment. Do you have that same experience?

Well, do not dismay, this recipe is NOT one of those situations. The leftovers didn't even make it 24 hours before being consumed by Mr. Gooch and myself. To me that is the mark of a great recipe. (Please note: the photo above does not even begin to capture the tastiness of this dish).

I found this recipe on after doing a search on my ingredients available in my pantry, fridge and freezer.

Turkey Spaghetti Pie

2 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half (We used bow tie pasta)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons sour cream (I used low fat)
1/2 pound ground turkey (I used a whole pound)
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon butter or margarine (I used Smart Balance 50/50 spread)
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a bowl, combine the egg, Parmesan cheese and pasta. Press pasta mixture onto the bottom and up sides of a greased shallow 2-cup baking dish or 7-in. pie plate. Spread with sour cream.

Crumble turkey into a skillet; add the pepper, onion and butter. Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, garlic salt, oregano, salt and pepper. Spoon into spaghetti crust. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover edges loosely with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Tiny Carrots in Dill Butter - A Family Favorite

I love carrots. I love them so much that when I was little, my dad would often ask if I was part rabbit.

So this recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book has been part of our veggie rotation for several years.

I love that it is quick and easy yet "jazzes" up a veggie staple. I hope you like it as much as we do.

Tiny Carrots in Dill Butter
Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (c. 1996)

16 oz. package (3 1/2 cups) Baby Carrots
2 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine
Dill (1 Tablespoon fresh or 1/2 Teaspoon dry)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Pepper

In a medium sauce pan cook carrots, covered, in a small amount of boiling water about 10 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Drain. Return to carrots to saucepan.

Stir in butter/margarine, dill, lemon juice, salt and peppers, making sure to carrots are entirely coated.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Flowers in the Garden - November Edition

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I am freaking out a bit since in less than a week Mr. Gooch and I will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our house.

I know I need a happy Spring flower to perk me up.

The flower for November is the Peony (my favorite flower by far).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - Another Week, Another Success

I think I am getting the hang of this menu planning business.

Last week was the second week of getting it entirely right and not missing a planned meal. **Pumping fist in the air** The best part is that I have been successful in keeping our grocery spending in check since we are eating out less, ordering take out less and are utilizing items that are on sale at the grocery. I think our grocery list had only 10 totally necessary items on it this week.

Just so I don't get to cocky, I am making a couple of our favorites to mix in with some new dishes.

Sunday: DH is not feeling well, so his favorite soup.

Thursday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Belated Birthday Dinner (last week's dinner cancelled due to illness)

Wish us luck for another positive week of meeting our goal of following the Menu Meal Plan. As always, make sure to visit to see what others are planning for the week.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cheesy Skillet Potatoes - A Great Last Minute Creation

Have you ever had a night where you knew your main dish but forgot to plan a side dish? That has been my weak link in menu planning. I always get a big bag of red potatoes and a big bag of rice and make our starch side. The problem: I usually end up making the same 3 or 4 recipes over and over again.

Faced with a potato side dish dilemma last week, and not wanting to make the "usual," I checked the fridge to see what my options were. Peppers? Maybe. Onions? Maybe. Smoked Gouda? Definitely. Garlic? Another definitely. All I needed to do was add a little butter and some seasonings to the thinly sliced potatoes and we would be good to go.

For a last minute creation, this was so good. The crunchiness of the potatoes on the bottom of the pan combining with the smokey flavor of the cheese made for a dish that garnered kudos from Mr. Gooch.

Cheesy Skillet Potatoes
Source: Depths of my Brain

Approximately 6-8 thinly sliced small red skin potatoes
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon butter (cut into small pieces)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (more if depending on amount of potatoes)
Olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda

Sweat garlic in a skillet with a little olive oil
Add Italian seasoning to skillet
Coat sliced potatoes in olive oil and add to skillet
Mix with garlic and seasoning
Add butter pieces to top of potatoes
Cover and cook until potatoes are soft
Remove cover and cook for several minutes until bottom layer had browned and started to crisp
Add cheese to top of potatoes and cover until melted
Slide onto plate to serve

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rotisserie Style Crockpot Chicken

Whole chickens were on sale this week at the grocery. I figured this was my chance to try my hand at making a whole chicken. If it was awful, at least I didn't pay full price.

So I checked out my Google Reader where I have dozens of recipes starred for future reference. One of those was a recipe for Rotisserie Style Crockpot Chicken posted on A Year of Crockpotting. For those of you wanting to make more use of your crockpot, this is an amazing blog. I am inspired to make something every week in my crockpot.

The hardest parts of this recipe were skinning the chicken (it was pretty gross) and then taking the chicken out of the crockpot since the meat was so tender it fell off the bone. This is why the photo above is not the greatest since I actually had to take it out of the crockpot in pieces and place them on the platter.

The fact that we were able to have two meals plus making stock from one chicken for soup is a total bonus.

Check out all the steam coming out of the chicken. It was amazing.

Rotisserie Crockpot Chicken
1 whole chicken, skinned (4-5 pounds)
2 tsp kosher salt (if you'd like it as salty as the ones in the store, add another 1 tsp.)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch of chili pepper (probably not necessary)
4 whole garlic cloves (optional)
1 yellow onion, quartered (optional)

I used a 6 quart crockpot for a 4 pound bird. It fit perfectly.

Skin the chicken and get rid of the neck and other stuff from the cavity. This takes a while, and is gross. I skinned the chicken because I hate the idea of the chicken fat simmering all day in the crock. Bleck!

In a bowl, combine all of dried spices. Rub the spice mixture all over the bird, inside and out.

Place the bird breast-side down into the crockpot.

Place 4 whole garlic cloves and a quartered onion inside the bird.

Do not add water.

Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 8.

The meat is done when it is fully cooked and has reached desired tenderness. The longer you cook it, the more tender the meat. When I took mine out, the meat was so tender, it fell off the bone.

Friend Favorite from Mr. White: BBQ Salmon

**This post is the first of what will be an ongoing series of posts highlighting favorite recipes of friends and family.**

I love salmon. I could probably eat it every day. Now, Mr. Gooch isn't as much a fan since salmon has a fishier taste than some other types of fish. But when Mr. White, Mr. Gooch's closest friend and Best Man, made this recipe, he was hooked as well. The marinade has just enough heat without being to causing your lips to burn and the citrus flavors are a nice balance.

When we made this Tuesday night, I had to make a small change. I didn't have any OJ left so I used 2 Tablespoons of lime juice instead of the 1/4 Cup OJ. I don't think it affected the taste much as it was still so good.
And I think this would work well with chicken as well.

Barbecue Salmon
1/4 cup orange juice (I used 2 T lime juice instead)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick

In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne.

Marinate salmon in the orange juice mixture for 20 minutes to an hour.

Place fillets on a hot grill. (I made the fillets in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees)

Barbecue for 15 minutes, coating occasionally with marinade, until a fork can be easily inserted into the salmon. (Fillets baked in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dijon Thyme Chicken - A Quick and Easy Entree

"This is so good." Those were the words that greeted me after Mr. Gooch sat down to dinner last Monday night. He thought this dish was a total winner. How I love it when a recipe that I found on the internet turns out so tasty. And the best part about this recipe is how easy it was to put together.

The butter mixture is so tangy with the Dijon mustard and garlic. I am trying to figure out other types of meat it would work with. We liked it that much.
This will definitely be added to the dinner rotation on a regular basis.

Dijon Thyme Chicken

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted (substituted Smart Balance 50/50 spread)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 small onion, chopped (omitted)
2 garlic cloves, minced (used 3 cloves as they were small)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (used 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into chicken strip sized pieces (used 2 very large breasts)
bread crumbs, enough to cover all pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, combine the butter, mustard, onion, garlic, thyme and pepper flakes.
Dip chicken in butter mixture, then coat with bread crumbs.
Place in a greased baking dish.
Bake, uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

TWD: Kugelhopf

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Kugelhopf. Selected by Yolanda of The All-Purpose Girl, the recipe can be found on pages 61-63 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.

I will admit that I was a bit worried about this one. The yeast, several risings and comments from other bakers on the website all combined to make my stress level rise quite a bit. (All puns intended.)

Turns out my fears were for naught. The ingredients can together easily (if a bit stickily), the rising was time consuming but allowed me to get other things done around the house and the baking went just according to the directions.

Due to the several of the comments on the board regarding some bitterness , I added vanilla to the butter to be soaked into the baked cake and I put a bit more than a dusting of confectioners sugar. I think these changes added a level of sweetness to the cake that counteracted any bitterness in the cake.

However, it was a lot of work for a cake that tasted similar to other cakes I have made. Maybe if I added more raisins or other fruit (maybe dried apricots or cranberries), orange zest or some other addition. It just seemed to need something more.

All in all, I am glad I made this dish. We will enjoy it for breakfast tomorrow.

Now Mr. Gooch is so excited for next week's recipe Arborio Rice Pudding. He is a huge fan.

Now that you have read my review of Kugelhopf, visit Tuesdays With Dorie to check out the posts from other bakers.

Who Is A Bad Blogger? Me That's Who.

I cannot believe I have not posted a recipe for over a week. It is amazing how life seems to sneak up on you and keep you from some of the things you love to do.

That being said, I will be posting a number of recipes over the next week. It has been added in pen to my TO DO list.

These include
  1. Crockpot Chicken
  2. Dilled Carrots
  3. Skillet Cheesy Potatoes
  4. BBQ Spice Salmon
  5. Dijon Thyme Chicken
  6. Crockpot BBQ Pork
  7. Turkey Spaghetti Pie
  8. TWD: Kugelhopf

As you can see, even though nothing has gone up on the blog, we have still been busy eating.

So make sure you watch your Google Reader or however you follow your subscription for some tasty recipes.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Traveling: The Horrors

So Mr. Gooch and I just traveled back from my cousin's wedding in North Carolina. It was such a fun weekend. The couple looked so happy and I can only hope that they are as happy as Mr. Gooch and I are.

As fun as the weekend was, the trip back was a bit of a challenge.

Oh, no not the way you are thinking. The flight wasn't delayed much, there was no turbulence to speak of and Mr. Gooch and I each got a whole can of Diet Coke from the drink cart instead of the usual measly single plastic cup full.

What I experienced amazed me.

First, I am so confused why people think that sitting in another person's seat is cause to become upset. We had at least three different people who sat in a seat that was not assigned to them. One young lady actually got mad at the man whose seat she was in. She wanted to sit by her friend so tried to get him to take her seat (a middle seat versus his window seat). He was not pleased by the offer and had to call the flight attendant over to get it straightened out.

Second, and this was more about the placement of our seats which were right in front of the bathroom, please keep in mind that the walls are not sound proof and so the people in row 26 can hear you grunting in the bathroom.

Lastly, (if you have a weak stomach you can stop now) we had a mother who felt that it was perfectly acceptable to hold her son's urine soaked pants up to the little air vent most people use to cool themselves off. Apparently she thought that if she held them up there for 15 or 20 minutes they would dry off. All I could think about was that we were trapped in a tube with recirculated air and it was now full of urine molecules. Blech!! I was totally disgusted. Mr. Gooch and I couldn't believe that anyone would think that doing that was OK.

But things did have a happy ending. The flight landed safely, we made it back home without incident and I was able to take a shower to get de-moleculized. I was never so happy to shower in my life.

Menu Plan Monday - An A and the Coming Week's Plan

So after our previous grade of B+, last week we got an A, a perfect score for actually following a menu plan. That's right, 100%! Woo hoo! I was so excited that things worked out so well.

I will be blogging about several of the recipes in the coming days as they turned out absolutely tasty. These include a tasty potato dish with smoked Gouda, a dilled carrot dish and two of the main dishes.

While I was basking in the glow of last week's success, I have created this week's menu. It is a chicken heavy menu, but we are making a chicken in the crock pot so will need to use up all the pieces and parts.

Sunday: Chipotle Burritos (on the way back from the airport)
Monday: Whole chicken in the crock pot, with salad, carrots and potatoes
Tuesday: BBQ Salmon fillets with salad, corn and rice
Wednesday: Chicken Quesedillas (using leftover chicken from Monday) with salad, leftover veggies and leftover rice
Thursday: Chicken soup (using bones from Monday to make the stock) with salad and sweet dinner rolls
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out to celebrate my birthday

I will be making some scones an muffins tomorrow for breakfasts. Additionally, we still have leftovers from last week in the freezer to get us through lunches.

Here's hoping we will do as well this week as last week.

And don't forget to visit to see what others have planned for their menus this week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting...Good for the Country and Your Pocketbook

So Mr. Gooch and I headed off to the polls at 5:50 AM this morning (our polling place is a 5 minute walk from our house). We wanted to be first in line.

We were SO not the first people in line. There had to be at least 40 people in front of us. One guy even brought a chair. Wish I had thought of that idea. It took us about 35 minutes to get our actual ballots. Based on media reports regarding early voting with lines up to three hours long, I will take my 35 minutes.

As I think about voting, it is crazy to realize that this is my sixth presidential election I have voted in. I am not sure how many midterm, primary and local elections I have voted in. But it is pretty cool to be part of the democratic process. Plus if you vote, you get to complain about how things are run. :-)

I think it is great that so many people are participating in the process this year and that the number of voters expected this year will be higher than in recent memory. A big bonus this year is the early voting available in so many jurisdictions.

Even better, I love that there are so many businesses giving treats to those who voted.

Some of those I have come across are below. You may want to contact your local stores to make sure they are participating.

Ben & Jerry's - giving away a free scoop of ice cream from 5-8 p.m. to everyone who votes. (More details here.)

Starbucks - giving away a free 12 oz. tall coffee to all customers who come in and say that they voted. (More details here.)

Krispy Kreme - giving away a free donut to all customers who wear an "I Voted" sticker. (More details here.)

Shane's Rib Shack - giving away a free meal--3-piece chicken tenders, fries, and a 20 oz. drink--to all customers who wear an "I Voted" sticker. (More details here.)

Schuler Books (in Western Michigan) - a free cup of coffee.

Eli's Cheesecake - the Eli's Cheesecake Company of Chicago will reward voters with a free slice of Chicago's favorite dessert, simply by presenting their voting receipt at Eli's Cheesecake World, 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, from Tuesday, November 4th through Friday, November 7th - 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you don't live in the Chicago area, go online to, click on "I voted in the 2008 election" and receive a free 6" Original Plain Cheesecake with the purchase of one Eli's 9" Original Plain or Chocolate Chip Cheesecake.

Books-a-Million - offering a FREE cup of Joe just for showing your "I VOTED" sticker.

Pizza Hut - The chain expects orders to surge on Election Day. To encourage diners to plan ahead, Pizza Hut is will give a 20 percent discount to all online orders scheduled for delivery or pick-up on Nov. 4. (One catch: The deal is valid for new online customers only.) To order, go to

Enjoy the free stuff and enjoy the knowledge you have participated in the process.

TWD: Rugelach

photo source: Wikipedia

This week on Tuesdays with Dorie, the group is making Rugelach (on pages 150 and 151 in Baking: From My Home to Yours).

Selected by Piggy of Piggy’s Cooking Journal, Rugelach is a Jewish pastry of Ashkenazic origin. The name is a Yiddish diminutive form of the Hebrew, רוגלית (roglìt), meaning "creeping vine," perhaps because of the rolled-up shape of the cookie.

It can be made with a cream cheese dough (like the version in the book), though the dough is more typically pareve (no dairy ingredients), so that it can be eaten with or after a meat meal and still be kosher. The different fillings can include raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seed, or apricot preserves which are rolled up inside.

Sounds good right? I bet you are wondering why I have all this info on Rugelach and I don't have my own photo and review of the recipe.

Well, my schedule got away from me this weekend and I didn't have time to make this recipe. I am excited for Kugelhopf next week and Mr. Gooch is aquiver with anticipation of the rice puddings.

Make sure to visit Tuesdays with Dorie to see other bakers results, reviews and modifications of this week's recipe.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Basil Cream Sauce with Tortellini

With the demise of my herb garden, a bunch of basil and tortellini in the freezer, I had the makings of a meal.

Using my homemade pesto as the jumping off point, by adding only a few ingredients, I was able to make a delish basil cream sauce. It complimented the saltiness of the beef and prosciutto tortellini perfectly.

So easy and so tasty, I can't wait to make this one again.

Basil Cream Sauce
Ingredients (all amounts are guesstimated)
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves pressed garlic
1 Tablespoon Italian herbs
Half and Half

In a skillet, place olive oil and pressed garlic.

Sweat the garlic over medium heat.

Add Italian herbs to garlic olive oil mixture.

Add at least 3 heaping tablespoons of pesto to skillet followed by a small amount of half and half (this amount is determined by how creamy you want the sauce).

Turn heat down to low and simmer ingredients together for able 5 minutes.

Serve over tortellini.

Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

During a recent trip to a neighboring village, we stopped into an olive oil and vinegar tasting shop. While we didn't get any olive oil or vinegar, I did get a bottle of chimichurri sauce. At that time, I had no idea what dish I would use it for.

Fast forward two months and I am trying to figure out what to make for dinner. During a rummage through our pantries, I find the bottle of chimichurri sauce. Eureka!

I marinated the flank steak with about 3/4 cup of sauce for approximately 6 hours.

The steak was then grilled, over low heat, for about 20-25 minutes. Make sure to regularly apply extra marinade to keep the meat moist.

Sliced across the grain and served with crashed potatoes and a salad, we will definitely be making this dish again.

Thawing the Top of a Wedding Cake - A True Life Road Test

Mr. Gooch and I got married a year and a week ago. Don't we look happy.

Our wedding day was wonderful, and we loved being surrounded by family and friends. I almost cried as I walked down the aisle when I saw Mr. Gooch up at the alter, I think Mr. Gooch got a bit teary too. At the reception the food was great, the booze was flowing and the music was rocking all night long. A year later, several people still tell me that ours was the best wedding they have been to in a long time. Is it wrong to say that I just LOVE that?

And our cake was amazing, if I do say so myself. You can see a photo of it below.

While the decoration was pretty simple, it tasted amazing. Not being a fan of fondant, we skipped it for a more basic Italian butter cream frosting. The cake was a chocolate and vanilla marble. The filling was a raspberry mousse. Just writing about it is making my mouth water remembering how good it was.

OK now that my trip down memory lane is over, back to the point of this post. Thawing the top of our cake.

We froze the top of the cake to eat on our one-year anniversary. It has lived, wrapped up in a freezer (first at at my mother-in-law's house, then in the basement freezer). We used several layers of plastic wrap, then several layers of tin foil. That whole wrapped package was then placed in a Rubbermaid container. After a year, no frost has accumulated on the inside of the container - which I figured was a good sign.

I wasn't sure of the best way to thaw the cake so as is my usual MO, I headed right to Google and did some searching. Based on that research, I took the frozen cake and placed it into the fridge on Saturday morning. This was two days before we planned to eat the cake. This was to allow the cake to thaw slowly so that there wouldn't be a build up of moisture on the cake or the wrapping.

On Monday, I took the cake out of the fridge and placed it, still wrapped and in the container on the counter. Since we were going to eat dinner at 3:30 (Mr. Gooch works nights, we eat early), around noon, I took the cake out of the container and removed all the wrapping. This was to give the cake and frosting a chance to warm up. No one likes cold frosting.

So far so good. The cake was intact with only some of the frosting smudged in a few places.

The real test was after dinner was over.

We sliced into it. Placed it on our plates and dug in.

It was pretty darn good. Actually, it was pretty amazing. Just as good as we remembered. The best part, there was enough for dessert two nights in a row.


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