Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Breakfast for Supper

by DBPSmith on Wikimedia
Although I have cooked a couple of times this week, breakfast for supper wasn't done by me. I was invited to my landlord's for supper on Tuesday and they were having dried beef gravy with toast (aka creamed chipped beef or SOS). I love dried beef gravy, so I accepted the invite. I had my gravy in a bowl and dunked my toast rather than soaking my toast under the gravy. I like the combination of the toasty crunch of the bread with the thick sauciness of the gravy.

My friend who made the kedgeree the other day was there and decided in the middle of us getting our food that he would make another batch of kedgeree. Kedgeree is a British breakfast dish that consists of smoked fish boiled with the water used to cook the Basmati rice that goes in the dish all of which is blended together with diced cooked onions and boiled eggs, curry powder (or garam masala), cumin and turmeric. The first time he made it, he didn't get all the bones out of the fish, so the pleasure of eating was ruined by the concern over when the next piece of bone would appear in my mouth. And, there was just a bit too much heat the first time because he put a bit more garam masala in that it called for. So, he decided the night I was there eating another breakfast dish for supper to make another batch of kedgeree. Don't ask because I can tell you I don't have the answer. All I can say is that the second batch was far superior to the first batch. And, he hadn't even used smoked fish. He bought boneless whiting and made it with that and used the proper amount of garam masala. It was delicious! Of course, I was a bit too full when I left the house that night since I had eaten two different dishes (the "some" he gave me to try was a bowlful!) The curry flavor was obvious, it wasn't fishy, there were no bones, it didn't taste "eggy" (which is good because I detest hard boiled eggs) and the cumin and turmeric added just enough smoky flavor that I didn't know he didn't use smoked fish until after I'd eaten it.

Image from
But, just so you know, I have cooked this week, even if it wasn't much. I made scrambled eggs with cheese and salsa on Monday for breakfast, grilled cheese for supper using shredded cheese I had on hand (no sliced cheese on hand) and then apple-cinnamon oatmeal pancakes for breakfast this morning. I want to share with you that adding fiber to your pancakes is so easy! And, heart healthy, too. The thing I like is that the texture of the pancakes doesn't change at all. They're still the light and fluffy pancakes you would expect to get from a mix (I use the complete kind of mix - just add water), but they get an added element of fiber and oats when I add the dry oatmeal (or in this case, Irish porridge). I don't do anything special - I just mix the oats in with the mix and cinnamon before adding water. So, it's a great way to "sneak" added fiber and nutrition into pancakes for your family. Unless they see you making them, they won't know.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dancing On The Big Screen

Written by my friend Otis Buckley

When it comes to watching television on my, there is one show I wait all season for. The program "So You Think You Can Dance" is a favorite of mine and keeps me on the edge of my seat every week. I think deep down I must be jealous of just how good these kids are. I love music and love to dance, so this is a natural for me. Unfortunately, at my age I can only dream what it must be like to be on that stage. Every week the dancers improve, to the point you would certainly think they are professionals. The costumes are fabulous, as well as the make-up. I wish I could say I always agree with the judges, but most of the time I believe they are wrong and expect way to much of such young kids. Their criticism is helpful, I'm sure, but it can be a little hurtful at times, which can sway the way the viewers vote. You begin to be familiar with the dancers and can see them dancing on other reality shows, as well in some movies. If you love music and dancing, you must try and watch this show when it airs this coming season. You may find yourself waiting impatiently for the next week.

Lack of Motivation Keeps Me Wordless

Wow. I didn't realize how long it had been since I posted here. I haven't wanted to cook and because of that I haven't written anything. This lack of motivation hasn't really let up. I'm sure part of it is because I hate cooking for just me. My daughter rarely eats what I make or doesn't come home in time for dinner. I don't like putting out the effort to make something no one will eat, or not eat much of.

But, I have eaten. And, I've enjoyed what I ate.

We wanted to go to Red Lobster for their $15 four-course special, but there were so many people there that they were standing outside waiting for their numbers to be called. That's not for me. So, we went to Don Pablo's Tex-Mex instead. I usually have something traditionally Mexican, but this time I went for one of their Texas barbecue choices. I got their half-slab of ribs and the grilled chicken breast. They were delicious!! Lots of meat on the rib bones and juicy and tender boneless chicken. I might opt out of the BBQ beans next time because they were not quite what I expected, but everything else was great.

Then I had the opportunity to go to Texas Roadhouse. I swear, I died and went to heaven that night!! I had the pulled pork and grilled chicken combo. The chicken breast was butterflied (about twice the size of what I'd had at Don Pablo's) and slathered in a rich, spicy BBQ sauce. The pulled pork was tender, smoky and saturated in the same sauce. I had the option of two sides, so I chose salad and a baked sweet potato. All this for the same price Don Pablo's charged me for the meal I had there. The salad was crisp and fresh, but I was disappointed with the ranch dressing. It was very sour-creamy, as though it had been thinned too much with buttermilk. Otherwise, it was a very nice salad with shredded cheese, chopped hard boiled egg and croutons. The baked potato came with cinnamon butter and brown sugar, but I only used the cinnamon butter. The potato was so perfectly cooked there was nothing left but the skin when I was done. 

We also had their Cactus Blossum (their version of a Bloomin' Onion) and it was delicious! I had plenty of leftovers to bring home. I only ate half of the chicken, half of the ribs and a small portion of the onion to bring with me. Their rolls are also delicious, too, and come out fresh every 15 minutes. So soft with honey butter to put on them, they're wonderful!!

A couple days ago, we went to Bassett's Memphis BBQ that just opened near us. I had pulled brisket and pulled pork with macaroni and cheese and collard greens. The macaroni and cheese and the collard greens were outstanding! I love collards cooked like they cook them. I'll take them any day over spinach. The meats were smoky and tender with loads of spicy BBQ sauce and more on the table if we wanted it. The meal was just about as heavenly as the one I'd had at Texas Roadhouse.

Then there's tonight. Again, I wasn't in the mood to cook. But, this time, my guy friend cooked for me. He'd been wanting to make Kedgeree for a while now. It didn't sound too appealing to me, but I reserved judgment until tasting it since it contained Basmati rice (I love it), garam masala (I love it, too), smoked fish (never had it - couldn't pass judgment) and hard boiled eggs (I don't love them at all). It actually wasn't half bad. Even with the eggs in it - the flavor of the eggs wasn't noticeable and the fish having been smoked didn't taste fishy. But, there were bones and that really detracted from the pleasures of eating it for me. I had to be on constant alert to make sure I didn't swallow any fish bones. If there was a way to make it with boneless smoked fish, I'm sure I'd enjoy it a whole lot more.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dinner at Don Pablo's

It was my turn to treat my friend to dinner and I had chosen Red Lobster. It had been years since we'd been there and their $15 for four courses was a definite attraction. I wanted to go. So, off we went, knowing full well it was Saturday, but hoping that we were early enough to beat the dinner rush.

OMG!! There were people standing OUTSIDE waiting to get in! Sorry, but that's not for us. We had tentatively decided to get barbecue if Red Lobster was crazy busy, but the BBQ place was about five miles away and we still had to go to PetSmart to get our babies food. Since PetSmart was where we were, we decided to pick another place to eat.

The area where we were is lousy with eating establishments (to use a colloquial term), so we had a wide array of choices. We opted for Don Pablo's since we both love Mexican food (and I knew I could get Sangria for cheap). 

It's funny that I'd never noticed the barbecue options on the Don Pablo's menu before, but last night I did. And, that's what I decided to get. Tom decided to change his usual ordering pattern as well by ordering carnitas.

I ordered the "Texas Two Step", a plate full of Rio Grande ribs and a mesquite grilled chicken breast, both slathered with barbecue sauce, sharing a large platter with Mexican rice and smoky beans. The ribs were surprisingly meaty. I say surprisingly because I had ribs once at Applebees that were almost entirely bone with barely enough meat to hold the bones together. But, Don Pablo's ribs had plenty of meat on them. The chicken was tender, moist and left me wanting more. The ribs were also very good, but I was full by the time I got to them. I even shared one with Tom and still brought a couple home to enjoy today. 

Tom's carnitas turned out to be pulled pork without BBQ sauce and were accompanied by soft flour tortillas, shredded lettuce, guacamole and sour cream. He'd opted out of the pico de gallo. I tasted a piece of his pork and it was delicious and tender. It wasn't long before his plate was empty.

Although the barbecue sauce they used wasn't as full-flavored as I'd have had at the barbecue place we'd considered, it was still delicious and satisfying. I'm glad we went.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Still No Chicken Cooked

See? I told you I shouldn't have said anything about planning to cook chicken. I ought to know better.

That said, you know darned well I haven't gone without eating. I've been enjoying Chocolate Malt-o-Meal hot cereal. I first discovered this wonderfully tasty cream of wheat product when I moved to Utah. It's still pretty hard to find here in New Jersey, but when I do, I grab it.

I've also eaten out a couple of times. One night I ate at the Happy Buffet with my friend Tom. It's always pretty good, but I was hesitant because the two times before that, I had some unpleasant after effects. But, I decided to avoid two of the items I suspected were involved and learned that I was right about them. Nothing untoward took place later that night. It's a shame because I liked both items. I don't know how I knew which things were the culprits, but I did.

Then, I went to Sonic with my daughter. Well, actually, I went to Chick-fil-A with my daughter and then to Sonic for myself. She ate her Chick-fil-A while I ate my Sonic. I didn't care much for their fries and won't get them again, but I totally enjoyed the "Ring Leader" sandwich and the Coke Zero with sugar-free cherry syrup. I'll either get Tots or Onion Rings the next time. 

Last night we decided to treat ourselves to pizza. We ordered Dominos. They had a coupon for a Specialty pizza for $11.99 with the option of a medium one-topping for $5.00. We do love pizza, so I got both. I personally LOVE the Fiery Hawaiian while my daughter wants plain Hawaiian, so I split the difference and got half of a Hawaiian plain and the other half fiery. OMG! I might leave the jalapenos off, but I think adding that hot sauce just totally MAKES that pizza!! (I know, but I've never been much on conformity.) Of course, I've been eating pizza ever since, but heck! It's good!!!

So, that ends today's post (today being Friday, even though it's just after midnight Saturday). Hopefully, I'll have more to post without too much time passing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Best Laid Plans

In yesterday's post, I said I would be cooking chicken today because it was going to be a cool day. WAS a cool day, but I slept half of it away. I don't know why - I just couldn't stay awake. Eventually, though, I did decide to cook and, as is often the case when I make plans in advance, I didn't cook chicken. 

I went rooting to see what we had, thinking we might have a meal "kit" on hand that I could use the chicken with, but instead I found Hamburger Helper Four Cheese Lasagna. I knew I had hamburger in the freezer, so I got a pack out and put it in the microwave to thaw. I also got a can of corn and a can of peas out to add to the dinner along with the meat, noodles and sauce packet. It was far from gourmet, but it met the need and tasted reasonably decent. I added ketchup to mine, but that's a personal thing. 

There is enough left that my daughter can take some to work for lunch and I can have some for breakfast instead of the chocolate Malt-o-Meal I've been eating. But, then, I might still have the Malt-o-Meal and have the Helper for lunch. I'll decide tomorrow.

You know, there's really nothing wrong with Hamburger Helper. It's true that all processed foods (or almost all) are high in sodium, but if you want something quick that tastes fairly decent that you can tweak here and there, it's not a bad way to go. And, there are plenty of off-brands out there that match it pretty well in quality, so it's nice to have a few tucked away for a day when you just have no creative juices flowing. It comes together quick and can be changed up with ground chicken or turkey - or even ham. I'll never turn my back on Hamburger Helper.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I love Checkers!!! (know as Rally's in some areas)

I love Checkers. Part of it is because they're the cheapest fast food around. But, if they weren't good, I wouldn't go back, so the rest of it is because I really like what I get there. 

I haven't been there for a while, but tonight I was able to get a Spicy Chicken Combo. I love their Spicy Chicken. It's not huge in size, but it's huge in taste. There's no ignoring the fact that it's spicy, either. It's wonderful! I always eat the fries first, though. I like their fries, too. But, once I'm done the fries, I'm ready to dig into that tasty sandwich. It's not a huge piece of chicken, but there's enough of it to get some in every bite. I do wish they had a larger one, but I really don't need a larger one.

Other than having some oatmeal pancakes for lunch (I am really liking them - I add oats to my pancake batter and some cinnamon and they're DEELISH!), I haven't done much in the way of cooking. I think, though, I'm going to make something with chicken tomorrow (or is that today - it's after midnight). I have two containers of chicken broth frozen plus plenty of chicken quarters, so I might try again for some creamed chicken or I might actually break down and make some potpie (no, not the kind with a crust). 

I think I'd better do something while the temps are down here because I know I won't want to be in the kitchen when it gets hot again. Knowing me the way I know me, I won't know what I'm doing until I start to do it. I'm not a big fan of pre-planning! It drove my mother crazy when she'd ask, at breakfast, what I was planning for supper and I'd say I didn't know. It drove ME crazy that she needed to know at breakfast! LOL 

However it turns out, I'll let y'all know. That's part of the fun in coming here. Until then....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jersey Girl's Italian Pork Gravy - A Great and Easy Recipe

I tried a new recipe today. I can't remember what I was doing when I found it, but I know that the blog's title drew me in. A Jersey Girl Cooks. That got my attention because, you see, I'm a Jersey Girl,too. I have fine-tuned it a bit geographically. My other blog is called A South Jersey Girl Writes. That's where I post my writing efforts that aren't food related. So, I just had to take a look at what she had to offer. That's when I found Mama's Sunday Pork Gravy

It looked fantastic and oh so easy (something very important to me, of course, being the lazy cook that I am). I have never been able to make a decent pasta sauce from scratch. I could "doctor" the jarred stuff, but without it, my efforts were lacking significantly. Initially, I thought I'd use a couple of my chicken leg quarters, but then I remembered some pork chops I had in the freezer. I thawed them and this afternoon, I began to make this recipe. I'm so glad I did.

Lisa's end result
The recipe calls for one can of crushed tomatoes and one can of tomato puree. I didn't have it, but I did have two cans of crushed tomatoes, so I used both of them. Instead of six cloves of garlic, I used three teaspoons of garlic juice. I didn't have onion powder, so I used dried minced onions instead. So, I was as true to the recipe as I could be and it turned out really well.

My end result, not as dark and rich
The pork chops provided additional flavor and depth to the sauce (or gravy, as Lisa calls it in her blog. I like her explanation - gravy contains meat or is meat based while sauces do not). I may have used a bit too much red wine in de-glazing the pan, but the sauce (er, gravy) still turned out wonderful. The meat was tender and fell off the bone. The cats, of course, were thrilled to have the bone when I was done. I can definitely say that this is a recipe I will be using again!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meals at Midnight

That's right. You don't have to be a college student to decide to cook dinner at midnight (or just past, in our case). I just didn't feel like cooking yesterday and my daughter had a date, so she wasn't here to eat. But, when she got home from the movies, she asked if I had made anything because she was hungry (apparently, the date didn't include dinner). 

I had thawed a pound of hamburger, but when it's hot and humid, I'm not always anxious to go into the kitchen to work on a meal. So, we will "graze" rather than dine. But, by midnight, it had cooled some, so I offered to make some hamburgers (which I have been craving for a while). Or spaghetti and meat sauce. But, she wanted green beans and tomato sauce. I knew we only had a single can of tomato sauce which wouldn't be enough for this very simple, yet tasty, meal. 

She went to the pantry and pulled out that can and a can of diced tomatoes and two cans of French style green beans and I went to work. I browned the beef, then added the drained green beans followed by the tomato sauce and tomatoes. We usually serve this with fried potatoes, so I quickly cooked up some frozen French fries to go with.

I prefer this with straight tomato sauce, but it wasn't bad. My personal tastes are to use a single can of beans with their liquid plus ground beef and at least one can of tomato sauce. But, my daughter is a huge fan of French style green beans, so we got a double helping. Season to your taste - we added fresh ground salt and pepper. 

Although it was late, it was just what we both were looking for. Something a bit more substantial than tuna or peanut butter, yet reasonably healthy. Yeah, it was late, but heck - you're only young once (well, I can dream, can't I?)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Meatloaf - a Successful & Delicious Effort

I made meatloaf for supper tonight. It turned out pretty good. The last time I made it, although it tasted decent, it fell apart because I had put too much liquid in it. This time, I backed off on the liquid and I think I did good.

Since there are only two of us in the house, I only used a pound of meat. To that I added diced bell peppers and onions, two slices of bread and some Kozlowski Farms Spicy Mexican fat-free salad dressing I picked up at Ross's. I didn't measure. I eye-balled it after leaving out the milk, oatmeal and egg that I put in the other one I made a couple weeks back. I also put some ketchup on top and then sprinkled white sugar lightly over the ketchup to make up for not having brown sugar (and to keep it from being too sweet). 

After an hour at 350 (I didn't preheat), it really turned out nice. The bread and the vegetables kept it from just being a big, thick burger and the salad dressing added moisture and flavor (I've used salsa before, too). I've used that salad dressing as marinade, too, and hope I can find some again. It was even tasty on salad! LOL

I tossed a potato in the microwave to go with my serving, but didn't do any other vegetables. I waited so long to even begin, I was hungrier than I should have been from waiting. I didn't want one more thing to wait for. But, the key to my knowing I'd done well was that my daughter had a second helping. She is not always easy to please. 

I just wish I'd used two pounds - I could sure go for a meatloaf sandwich tomorrow!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Challenge is Over

For two straight months, I participated in two separate blogging challenges, posting daily - first in alphabetic order and then in reverse order. During the second challenge, I added a couple more challenges (actually three plus one for writing an article a week - again in alphabetic order) and got a little lost and overwhelmed by what I'd put on my plate (see - a perfect foodie analogy!) But, I finished the daily blog challenge (a day late) and have taken a few days off to rejoice in the temporary lack of mandated posting.

My other blog challenges are posted on my sister blog, A South Jersey Girl Writes. I still have to write my blog post for one of those challenges. It is due no later than tomorrow. Another is due on Monday. Thankfully, they're each one per week, so once I'm caught up, I should have little difficulty keeping up. I've also begun writing news articles for Gather. Their requirement is eight per month - two per week. I got seven in last month. I hope to make the minimum this month. One is done - seven to go.

I've been out to dinner a few times since the Memorial Day weekend began. It's been nice to get away after a few weeks of going nowhere. The first outing was to the Elgin Diner. I posted about that as one of my reverse alpha postings. Then, I went to the Colonial Diner where I enjoyed "The Big Pig". That was a pulled pork sandwich topped with crispy bacon, cheddar cheese and five huge onion rings. It also came with French Fries. They also had a wonderful seafood bisque on the menu that I enjoyed.

Then I went to the local Chinese buffet and ate WAY too much for my comfort. But, I still enjoyed it (until later that night, of course). Pizza, General Tso chicken, stuffed shrimp, sweet n sour chicken, Wonton soup, fried rice, and my first fresh papaya in years! I thoroughly enjoyed that papaya.

Last night, we went to the Colonial Diner again and this time I ordered the meatloaf with potato pancakes and applesauce. It came with soup or salad plus dessert. I had salad, three good-sized slices of meat loaf, two potato pancakes and a small plate full of applesauce. I've had far better meatloaf. I was very disappointed in that, but the potato pancakes and applesauce were very good. My cats enjoyed the last slice of meatloaf, though. They were very happy cats!

Tonight, though, we went to Gagan Palace, an Indian buffet in Stratford, about eight miles away, if that. They had goat curry and lamb Do-Pyazza plus chicken tikka masala, aloo & chana (potatoes and chickpeas) plus several other vegetarian choices (including Palak Paneer, a spinach and cheese cube dish). Of course, the naan was plentiful (a flat bread baked in the Tandoor oven). And this time, I tried the Sambhar soup - a VERY spicy vegetable soup whose heat quotient was so high I couldn't taste it after the first spoonful. So, I didn't finish that one. The little bit I did taste was actually pretty good, but it was far too hot for me to eat again. I finished up with some fresh watermelon and mixed fruit in a fruit sauce that tasted a lot like mango. The fruit was obviously fresh, so I can only guess that they make it themselves. I didn't eat any goat because none of the pieces was bone-free. The lamb was delicious as was the chicken. I also enjoy the Navarattan Korma, a blend of nine vegetables in a creamy sauce. Basmati rice with peas is also on the menu and a must with the saucy selections offered. Despite the searing heat of the spice-laden soup, I enjoyed my meal.

I plan on making dinner tomorrow night, so hopefully I'll be back with news about that.

Time for Caturday!!

Cats of the past.

This is Pepper. She is Chloe's mama.

This is Johnny being held by my daughter when she was around eight.
This is beautiful Chelsea. RIP 1980

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Atlantic City Southern Cuisine = Deliciousness!!

Tonight (Wednesday), I was treated to dinner in Atlantic City at a restaurant I hadn't heard of before. We went to Redding's Ultimate Southern Cuisine on Pacific Avenue about three blocks north of Caesar's Casino and a block west of the famous boardwalk. I can tell you right now, it was DELICIOUS!!

My dining companion ordered the fried chicken with macaroni and cheese and 4-green stew (collard, mustard, turnip and cabbage). I had the fried catfish with the same sides. We both ordered the Southwest chicken soup (the soup of the day) and were brought a basket full of some of the best cornbread I've ever had.

When our dinners arrived, our plates were filled to overflowing with food. He said that his chicken was excellent, crispy and juicy. My fish was perfectly done with a light, flaky crust that didn't overpower the fish and allowed the catfish to remain moist and tender. The macaroni and cheese was some of the best I've had in a very long time, cheesy without being purely cheese, yet not straight sauce, either. I don't know that I can describe it adequately. The greens were excellent. I've never had mustard greens before, but there's no way I could tell you if they were in there or not. They all came together as a single unit - not even the cabbage stood out. I would eat this any day over spinach. I did add butter to mine, but I add butter to all vegetables. 

The soup was the most disappointing thing we had. It was mostly broth, not heavily seasoned - really, not much seasoning at all. There wasn't much hint of it being a Southwest recipe except for the strips of crisp tortilla that were laid on top before it was served. At $5.00 per serving, this was the least value for the price that we had. There wasn't very much in the bowl, which was made to look larger than it was - very wide, but also very shallow. The soup wasn't bad, but it could have been much better. They apparently have a different soup every day, though. This was just one of them.

The cornbread was perfect: just the right amount of sweet, moist, easy to eat with or without butter. And, the iced tea - I haven't had tea that tasted homemade since my mother used to make it. They offered sweet tea, but I opted for unsweetened with Sweet-n-Low. Excellent.

Our surroundings were warehouse-like (high ceilings with exposed beams and ductwork), yet modern in all other aspects. Seating was plentiful and a full-service bar on the far side separated by a tasteful acrylic wall divider to minimize the noise exchange. All in all, I had an amazing meal experience. 

We didn't go to gamble, so we returned home by the original road to the shore just for the ride after having gone down on the Atlantic City Expressway. I had originally balked at driving an hour just for dinner, but I'm glad I did. It was a very nice evening.