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Brunch for Beleaguered Parents

18 Jul

I was awakened around 5:45am on Sunday morning with a hankering for brunch.  In the old days, before kids, I’d have gotten out of bed at 11am, rolled out of my front door in Manhattan, and met a friend for an omelette and a mimosa.

Hardy har.

Instead, I found myself sitting in bed in front of an episode of Curious George, while my husband blearily suffered through yet another round of my boys fighting over his attentions.  Being chopped liver, myself, I was on my own side of the bed…pondering how I could salvage this morning.  Cormac turned and burped at me, laughing.

I wanted eggs.  Unfortunately, Cormac had gone on an egg binge the day before.  There were only four left, and I knew it wasn’t going to be enough for all of us.  But four eggs was a good place to start.  I began to think about what other odds and ends were in my fridge, that I could use to supplement the main feature.

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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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Stupidly Simple Pork Chops and Spicy Black Beans

16 May

I’m back!  And you thought you were rid of me.

Actually, I decided weeks ago that I wanted to blog this recipe because (although it is not fancy) it is low in fat, easy, and really tasty.  As an added bonus, it’s one of those things you can keep on hand for busy nights, as long as you have a little freezer space and some canned/jarred staples.

When we’re managing our weight (oh…so like ALWAYS?) Dan and I depend on the whole protein-and-a-side strategy for weekday nights.  We find that by freezing some chicken breasts and boneless pork chops, for example, and then making sure we get in the right vegetables, we can quickly throw together a meal that makes us feel well-fed without exhausting us.  Spicy pork chops and black beans is just such a recipe.

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Guest Cook! Butterscotch Sugar Cookie Bakes with Ice Cream

11 Apr

She had me at “spontaneous cookiegasms.”

My friend Kim is a very funny and very talented writer and blogger and an equally frazzled parent.  Like the rest of us, she knows a good dessert when she sees one.  Well…when she makes one.  Because she made this up, people.  I’ve badgered her into letting me post this delectable treat on my blog, and I’m just leaving it all in her words.  They were good to begin with.

For those of you who are looking for a shortcut to a homemade dessert, this is your recipe.  We’re talking majorly easy – like Pillsbury cookie dough.  Also, I have to confess that I topped all of this off by putting chocolate syrup on it.  Ahem.

Go forth and have a sugar meltdown.  You won’t be sorry.  Oh – and you can get these tiny springform pans at Michael’s craft store if you are having trouble finding them! Continue reading

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.

Meatball Mafioso: A Ziti You Can’t Refuse

28 Feb

Sometimes I write up recipes because they’re really easy.  Sometimes I write up recipes that are good for the diet.  This recipe fulfills neither of those requirements.  But DAMN is it good.

I found out recently that my friend Steve, who lives in California and whom I haven’t seen since high school, was going to make a special stop at Dulles airport just to spend the evening with me and meet my family.  Considering that childcare duties and the shortness of the stay prevented me from taking him anywhere at all, our remaining option was to hang out at my house and enjoy dinner there.  So, I was thinking, “This had better be good.”

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A Chili January Day (Resolutions Edition)

10 Jan

‘Tis the season for the eternal weight loss resolution.  For me (as I’m sure is the case for many of you) this doesn’t mean a new diet as much as it means a continuation of the old diet.  Deprivation!  The ever-present companion of the Rubenesque among us.

I post a lot of recipes that couldn’t be categorized as “diet food.”  In fact, I prefer to think that I avoid any recipe that classifies as “diet food” because it’s a pretty depressing idea.  You know…like this.  Anyone who has eaten bad diet recipes will tell you that the reason they work is because you’d rather go hungry than consume them.  Of course, none of us can live like that for long.

This week, Dan and I have been following Weight Watchers which, for me, means pulling out my materials from ten years ago and counting points the way I did back in 1999.  I continue, in fact, to diet like it’s 1999 and don’t see why I should adapt to any new system.  For one, I’d have to actually go to a meeting, and I have always found Weight Watchers meetings to be most suitable as a torturous punishment for not losing weight that week.  Inspirational and informative, not so much.  As a result, I just stay home and use what worked for me back then and, not shockingly, it still works.

On this cold weekend, I introduced Dan to a chili recipe that I long ago dug up from some old Weight Watchers cookbook that went out of print ages ago and has now been lost, even to me.  Luckily, I typed this recipe up way back when to give to someone else, so it was on my hard drive.  I’m telling you, this one is a keeper.  You will not feel deprived.  Also, it has the winter benefit of clearing your sinuses.  Spicy!

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