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Guest Cook! Coconut Chip Cookies

20 Jun

“B.S.!” my friends are saying.  Those who know me well are aware of my strange aversion to all tropical fruits, including coconut.  Wait…is a coconut a fruit?

It’s true.  I have not made these cookies.  Instead, I decided that it was time to rise above my unfair dislike of coconut and, in honor of hot summer days, put up a recipe that touches on the tropics.  The pictures are good enough for me.

Because Kim from Let Me Start By Saying did such a cool dessert post before, I’m am featuring her very fine-looking recipe here.  I especially like that it shamelessly utilizes a cake mix in order to allow you to look like June Cleaver without having time to get too hot from standing over the oven.  Grab your popsicles and pull up a chair on the deck!  I invite you all to make these lip-smacking little numbers and share your thoughts.

Happy baking!

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Quiche Is No Quandary

18 May

When I was little, one of my absolute favorite meals was my mom’s quiche.  Delicate, yet simultaneously and sinfully rich, it seemed like a cloud made of cheese and egg and flecked with sought-after pieces of yummy bacon.  I rejoiced when I heard, after school, that it was on the menu. The whole time I was growing up, I’d hear people asking her for the recipe.  I took it to a potluck once and a guy told me it was one of the best quiches he’d ever tasted.  It was like this magical and complicated dish that my mother produced with her highest order homemaking skills.

Me. Pondering the mysteries of quiche.

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Potluck Pasta

2 Mar

In case y’all aren’t sick of pasta (frankly, I never am) I thought I’d quickly share with you one of those shortcut meals I made using odds and ends I had in the fridge today.  It was so fast that I whipped it up for lunch.

Here’s what I had hanging around.

Potluck Pasta

Random and Flexible Odds and Ends:

Two different kinds of leftover pasta sauce

about 1.5 C of the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and egg mixture from the Meatball Ziti I prepared a few days ago.

Half a box of campanelle pasta (any chunky shape would have done equally well)

Half a bag of shredded mozzarella

One can of Hunt’s Fire-Roasted Tomatoes

Preheated the oven to 350.

So here’s what I did with it.  I cooked up the pasta al dente and drained it.

Meanwhile, I warmed up the two leftover sauces in the empty pasta pot.  While it was warming, I sprayed a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Then I ladled a little sauce into the bottom of the dish to cover it.

I then threw the pasta and all the cheese mixture into the sauce pot and just blended it all until it was well-mixed.  It takes a little warmth to un-chunk the cheese from the refrigerator.

Once it was all mixed, I dumped it into the casserole.  Because I wanted a little more sauce, I drained a can of Hunts Fire-Roasted Tomatoes and dumped it over the top of the pasta mixture, spreading it out evenly with a spoon.

Lastly, I evenly covered the pasta with shredded mozzarella.

I baked it covered in foil in the oven for 35 minutes.  Then I removed the foil and let the cheese brown for 10 more minutes.

Voila.  I swear – it was about fifteen minutes of prep.

 

Quick. Cheap. Easy.

 

 

Pretty good for Wednesday lunch, eh?  Dan was working from home – I didn’t eat it by myself!

Here’s what’s great about this recipe.  You are using up things you might have tossed (a perfect example is two leftover sauces that are barely a portion each and are mismatched, or the small amount of cheese mixture I hadn’t needed for the ziti…or half a box of pasta that is not quite enough for a full family meal!).  It takes minutes to prepare.  Also, the ingredients are really flexible.  You could have used any sauce, a number of pasta shapes, and even substituted another kind of cheese for the topping (like cheddar).

Dan wants me to quote him.  He pronounces my grab-bag pasta dish “Delicious!”  Go forth and save your scraps.

Faux Pho

20 Dec

I have to admit that I’m a little sheepish about writing this post, because it definitely falls into that “dirty little secrets” category of my life in the kitchen.  Sometimes, however, desperation drives us to attempt the recreation of a favorite takeout or restaurant dish that we simply can’t get – either because we’ve moved away or the restaurant isn’t open or you’re broke.  It is just this type of desperation that brought me here, today.

You see, back when I lived in New York, one of my favorite foods was Cantonese Noodle Soup.  Something I’ve noticed about Chinese places is that all the restaurants in a given geographical area seem to do the same things well and other things poorly.  For example, after leaving New York, I couldn’t find a good steamed veggie dumpling to save my life.  In the suburbs of Northern Virginia…ugh…don’t even talk to me about the thick, doughy crab rangoon.  But the dish I’ve most sorely missed since leaving New York is Cantonese Noodle Soup.

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Sassy Stuffed Shells

12 Nov

The time in my life that I most closely associate with the quintessential American childhood is the nearly four years my family spent based at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, NE.  I’m not going to say that Omaha was the coolest place I’ve ever lived.  However, freshly returned from two years in Europe, where we had no Saturday morning cartoons and no trick-or-treating, our tract home in Bellevue, NE was pretty much Norman Rockwellesque to my brother and me.  There were school buses, lots of other kids, girl scouts, and games of Ghost in the Graveyard at twilight.  It was good.

During that time in my life, roughly ages eight to twelve, I had a couple of really close “best” friends with whom I don’t recall ever having any serious disagreements.  Their names were Kristine and Kim, and they lived in the same cul-de-sac a few streets away from me.  We biked, played outside, did crafts, and sold girl scout cookies together.  You know – pretty squeaky clean fun.

 

Kristine, Kim, and me with our girl scout counselor at winter camp in Council Bluffs, Iowa

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Bringing Home the Bakin’

1 Nov

Last week I had the rare opportunity to meet up with my friend Katie and her son Lucas for a play date.  In general, I have a lot of guilt issues because I don’t seem to be able to find people with whom I can do play dates or play groups or play armies or whatever.  In truth, I read too many articles when I was pregnant about “Play Date Etiquette” and was scared off.  It all sounded so tedious and impossible.  Play dates with Katie are, however, a pleasure.  Lucas and William are the same age and Katie and I so rarely get a chance to catch up.  It seems like we can’t even exchange ten words without wiping a runny nose, pulling up pants or shouting at a child who is swinging from the chandelier, but at least we are not feeling like we missed out on proper play date etiquette.

The other super thing about play dates with Katie is that she always makes some delectable treat for us – from scratch.  I showed up this time all harried, dragging my two hyperactive boys, and she had stovetop oatmeal cooking and these amazing-looking pans of cinnamon rolls on the countertop.  I’d have assumed they were frozen, but I saw her applying the sugar icing before my eyes.

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Luscious Buns

27 Sep

They are.  Just you wait.

I don’t know about you, but the whole phenomenon of the dumpling was, for a very long time, a complete mystery to me.  I cannot count the number of drunken Manhattan evenings I ended sitting at a folding table in one of those walk-in takeout Chinese places, waiting for my dumplings to come to the counter.  When I moved to Boston and could no longer find the veggie variety (much kinder to the diet) Dan and I started the intimidating task of learning to make our own.

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Becoming a Saucy Wench

31 Aug

Yesterday I made pasta from scratch with William — and then I tried to blog about it.  Frankly, the post was boring to read.  I shelved it.  What can I say about making pasta from scratch?

1) Everyone seems to get a pasta maker for their wedding, yet nobody else I know uses theirs.  That’s a shame.

2) Fresh pasta is one of those things that is cheap to make and so superior to the dried kind that you hardly need any sauce at all.  The pasta is delectable and tender.

3) It’s a mess.  Even messier if you decide your preschooler is the next Lidia Bastianich and let him help.   Continue reading