Thursday, September 11, 2014

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

I posted earlier about having made apple cinnamon pancakes and coffee. What I didn't tell in that post was what happened to the coffee.

The coffee got done just as I had finished my pancakes, so I went out and poured myself a travel mug full and brought it back into the living room to finish watching the television show I'd turned on. Then, I got up to take my dish back into the kitchen planning to come back upstairs to do more work on the computer. I set the mug on top of the radio that has been sitting on top of the stair newel for almost a year now. In the very same spot I've been setting it at other times as well (I have ADD, so in order for me to remember to take things with me, I have to make sure they're sitting where I'll see them.)

Anyway, I hadn't walked more than five feet when I heard a loud crash! I turned and saw that the radio was on the floor, the lid had popped off the coffee mug and ALL of my coffee was now quickly soaking into the carpet. UGH!!! (and loads of curse words)

So, I picked up the radio, plugged the power cord back into it (thank god it was one that could be plugged back in) and then picked up my mug and its lid, now in two pieces. I grabbed a dish towel and the dish cloth and folded them, laying them on top of the spilled coffee, set my shoes on top and stepped down on them in order to soak up as much of the coffee as possible. I then went back to the kitchen to see if my lid was actually broken or it is was just components that had been forcibly separated. Thankfully, it was the latter of those two possibilities. I managed to get the lid back together and poured myself a second cup of coffee and came upstairs.

The next time I went downstairs, I picked up the towels and replaced them with paper towels to absorb some more and went to the basement to throw the dirty washable towels in with the load of wash I was going to wash. Now I have to find another rewashable cloth to take down with me so I can spray the very large stain with some cleaner solution and scrub at it to try to remove as much staining as I can. I'll take a picture of the spot before I start cleaning and post it with this post.

But, all I got was a tentative sip from that first cup of coffee. I'm glad I always make enough to have a second mug full. But, that truly annoyed me. Have you had something like that happen?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

photo taken by me after I wrote this.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes


When I saw a fellow Bubbler's post about having pancakes and coffee for breakfast two days ago, I immediately knew what I wanted for breakfast. So, I went right downstairs and, after feeding the ever hungry cats their breakfast, I made a batch of quicky Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal pancakes The flavoring aspect was inspired by a recipe I saw on the San Luis Obispo blogs found on TheTribuneNews.com. Dang, they looked good!!

Anyway, I didn't have any apples on hand and I HATE making pancakes using a recipe, so I used my "complete" just-add-water pancake mix and added a package of instant apple and cinnamon oatmeal. Then I added water and pulsed it all together in my mini-processor before heating the pan to cook them. 

While the pan was heating, I got the coffee pot ready and lit a low fire under it so it wouldn't boil over. I enjoyed those pancakes, believe me!! By the time I got done eating them, the coffee was ready. Perfect timing!

I love simple and easy ways to accomplish a tasty treat, although I admit that finely diced apples would probably have put the pancakes over the top. Still, they were very good and a nice change from plain old pancakes.


Photo credit - the San Luis Obispo blog at sloblogs.thetribunenews.com/andallthetrimmings/apple-cinnamon-oatmeal-pancakes/comment-page-1/#comment-37395. Feel free to check out their page if you want to make yours from scratch. They look fantastic!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sausage Gravy Wanted!

I've been craving breakfast sausage lately. Not the kind in links and not the patties, but the loose sausage that you can turn into sausage gravy. I had bought some of the brand Gwaltney, but was so disgusted by what it was that I didn't want to chance buying anything like it again. 

Sausage is a pork product, right? (Usually.) So, since pork is pink, sausage is also pink (maybe darker because of spices). The Gwaltney was pasty and....GRAY! And, it smelled like death. Seriously - it was plain nasty. And, it was FRESH!!! (Meaning - it wasn't even close to its "use by" date.) I know that Jimmy Dean and other national brands have good reputations, but I just didn't want to find out the hard way that I shouldn't have tried them. So, I went looking for some decent "loose" sausage I could use for breakfast.

I thought I'd found some. A pack of ground seasoned pork calling itself "sweet" sausage. It didn't say it was Italian sweet sausage. I know what that is. But, I got it out to make some sausage gravy tonight that I could keep in the fridge to enjoy for a couple of days. I checked the label for what spices were in the sausage, but all it said was "spice blend". Lovely. Time to flip a coin.

So, I opened it and discovered by fragrance and the accompanying recipe UNDER the label that this sausage was Italian seasoned. I'm sure the external labeling was not intentional. Someone just forgot to add "Italian" to the print line.

::disappointment::

Now this was why I made pasta meat sauce. But, I would love to be able to find some breakfast sausage that wasn't in link form that I could brown up as easily as I would ground beef. I know I can get it at the Amish market, but that's way out of my way. Why can't I get it in a regular grocery?? Apparently, in some groceries in this country, you can buy it. I wish I could here.

UPDATE - I did find an easy make at home breakfast sausage recipe that I think I'm going to try. I have all the spices it calls for here, so I just need to buy some ground pork. We shall see!!


photo credit (sausage) - Some rights reserved by Brood_wich (www.flickr.com/photos/brood_wich/)

Sausage gravy over biscuits
photo credit (gravy) - Some rights reserved by @joefoodie (www.flickr.com/photos/montage_man/)


Monday, March 3, 2014

Pasta Sauce in the Slow Cooker

I'm headed to bed with a pot of pasta sauce slowly cooking in the kitchen. I had bought some "loose" sausage at the store the other day hoping I could use it for breakfast and maybe some sausage gravy. Unfortunately, the seasoning turned out to be for Italian recipes (they never list the actual spices - why is that?), so I browned in my slow cooker pan and added a can of peeled plum tomatos, a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of "Progresso Recipe Starter" Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce plus some Italian spice blend and some Adobo seasoning (basically, garlic powder).

Tomorrow I'll decide whether or not I want to make a baked pasta dish with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses or cook the pasta separately with the sauce for topping. In the meantime, the flavors will blend perfectly during the night.

Again, I don't have a photo of what I'm making because I didn't think of it while I was downstairs, but the one I chose is a close resemblence.


photo credit - Some rights reserved by Monica Arellano-Ongpin (
www.flickr.com/photos/maong/) (It even has the chunky plum tomatoes like mine that I mashed with my potato masher - hope mine tastes as good as this looks.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cinnamon Buns or Sticky Buns?

When I was growing up, cinnamon buns were what you see in this photo. They were the only kind of cinnamon buns you could find anywhere. The other kind, the ones that are like what Cinnabon sells, were called cinnamon ROLLS. Now, it seems that these are called "sticky" buns. Yet, these are far more cinnamon-y than the ones sold by Cinnabon or anyone else.

My favorite ones are the ones that only have raisins. My dad was the same way. We didn't like the ones with nuts. I still don't. We never ate the kind they sell now with icing until Cinnabon came along. We still went back to these.

They get stale pretty quickly, but Mom would then take them, slice them, butter both sides of them and pan fry them until they were soft and gooey and just plain wonderful!!! Better than they were fresh as far as I was concerned.

So, what do you call these? Have you always called them that or has that changed over time?


photo credit - Some rights reserved by arthritic_old_man (
www.flickr.com/photos/51379696@N00/)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Homemade Breakfast Bowl

I made my first ever breakfast bowl yesterday morning. I've never had one anywhere, but I know you can buy them in the grocery stores in the frozen food section (usually Jimmy Dean brand). I wasn't actually planning on having a "breakfast bowl" for breakfast, but that's how it turned out. And, I enjoyed it!

First, I took a handful of fresh ground beef that I had bought at our small grocer in town (with a real butcher!) and browned that while adding salt and pepper. There was very little grease, so when I took the meat out, I added some olive oil to the pan and put in some diced potato hash browns to cook up. When they were done, I added the meat back to the pan intending to make sure it was still hot. Meanwhile, I had scrambled a couple eggs in preparation of cooking them separately.

While the meat and potatoes were reheating in the pan, I decided that I would just pour the eggs over them and cook everything together. That's what I did. I then put everything into a bowl I had waiting and sprinkled the top with a handful of shredded cheddar while, at the same time, heated up a couple of tortillas over the open flame on the stove. I set the tortillas on top of the bowl and got the salsa out. When I took off the tortillas, the cheese had melted from the heat of the tortillas and the potato/meat/egg mixture. I then put some salsa on top of all of it and enjoyed my breakfast!


Photo credit - Some rights reserved by theimpulsivebuy (
www.flickr.com/photos/theimpulsivebuy/) An amazingly raunchy and negative review of the Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowl linked on this photo. But, I didn't think to write about my bowl until after I'd eaten it. So, this particular photo does closely resemble my breakfast except I had ground beef instead of bacon and my potatoes were more finely diced.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Surprise in my Freezer


I was getting really hungry. I hadn't eaten since between 7:30 and 9:00 this morning, so my blood sugar was dropping and I could feel it. I decided to see what I could quickly throw together without dirtying too many pans. I opened the freezer and began looking around and found a plastic container containing a nice-sized square of the lasagna that I had made I think in November. I don't even remember saving any of it!

Wow, did I enjoy that! It was good when I first made it and it was equally so now.

I can give you a quick rundown on how I made it if you'd like to try it. I had bought mild Italian sausages from one of our local groceries because I was in the mood for a good sausage sandwich. Unfortunately, these particular sausages had more fennel in them than I like, so I just kept them in the slow cooker until the next day when they literally fell apart if I tried to take one out. I then got my potato masher (the kind with the s-turn bars, not the kind with the square holes) and mashed all of the sausages into small pieces. The casings by this time were pretty much cooked away, so I ended up with a really nice bolognese.

Then I got some ricotta (you could use small curd and dry cottage cheese) and mixed it with an egg and shredded mozzarella. I got the lasagna noodles out and began the layering process. First some sauce on the bottom (not too much meat) topped with DRY lasagna noodles. I topped the noodles with the ricotta mixture followed by the meatsauce. I then repeated the pattern until I reached the top where I spread the remaining sauce adding shredded mozzarella on top of that. I covered it all with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and baked at 350 for an hour. It probably could have used another 15 minutes because some of the noodles were al dente, but it was still edible and as I reheated it, the noodles finished cooking. The plastic wrap kept the tomato sauce from eating through the aluminum while it cooked, which was great because I hate it when it does that. I don't like the idea that I'm eating even a minuscule piece of aluminum.

But, I surely don't remember putting any in a container and freezing it. Nicely done, Wendy. Great little surprise to find on this cold day in January!

Have you ever forgotten you had something edible put away and been very happy when you found it?

Photo credit - this was taken when I took the lasagna out of the oven. It is my photo, my copyright.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Easy Beef Tips

I have this specific recipe in my slow cooker right now. I'm waiting for my daughter to let me know if she wants mashed potatoes or egg noodles so I can have it ready when she gets home. I'll be going out to dinner with a friend. I want to taste this before I go. I've been wanting to make it for a long while.

The recipe calls for 2-2.5 pounds of beef, but I had only bought 1 pound from our tiny full-service grocery. I like them because they have a real butcher. Everything is cut fresh and this meat had been run through a grinder with very large holes, so it was perfect for beef tips. It was like thick strips of meat, but they were round because of the grinder. Because I didn't have the ingredients to make it right away (I was actually thinking of making pepper steak when I first bought the meat), I had triple wrapped it and put it in the freezer. I took it out yesterday and thawed it and today I put it together in the cooker.

The slow cooker I am using has a removable pot, so I was able to brown the meat right in the same pot it would be cooked in, so no need to dirty a bunch of pans. The small bowl and container I used to make the gravy and flour the meat are easy to clean, so I'm not too worried about those.

So, if you made this, what would you eat it with? Mashed potatoes? Egg noodles? Or rice (which my daughter won't touch, so I didn't ask her about that)?


Here is the link to the recipe: recipesthatcrock.com/slow-cooker-beef-tips-gravy/

Credit for photo belongs to the website where I got the recipe: www.recipesthatcrock.com.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ham Salad Spread


I made some ham salad spread recently for the first time ever. Now, I have never eaten ham salad spread to know what it should taste like, but I think I did OK.

I am posting a link to a recipe that is almost identical to how I made mine, other than celery, which I didn't have, but I didn't have as much ham as the recipe calls for, so I didn't use as much of the other ingredients as they call for either.


Mine is obviously not as "pretty" as the other one, but I wasn't making it to share. It matters more that I get the mix right - then I can worry about aesthetics.

I did make one mistake, though. I added salt and pepper like I would have done in my tuna fish salad, forgetting that ham tends to be salty. I had to figure out a way to fix it, so I added a couple Sweet n Low packets to the salad and it brought it back up to where it had been before I put the salt in. I'm sure it will taste better the next time when I remember to NOT put salt in it, but it worked out.

I only used one hard boiled egg and some sweet pickle relish along with the chopped up ham and the mayonnaise. I did add a little mustard, but I think I might leave that out as well the next time. I can eat the salad with it, but there is a distinct bite that I'm not overly fond of. I also added a bit of onion powder. Some recipes called for diced onions and I can't stand raw onions, but onion powder isn't so bad. I also might leave that out next time, but the mustard whad more of a yuck factor for me than the onion powder did.

Anyway, here is the link to the almost identical recipe:
allrecipes.com/recipe/ham-salad-spread-2/.

Photo credits - the first one is from the recipe and was posted to the recipe by SugarPlum♥ of Acworth, Georgia. (http://allrecipes.com/Cook/SugarPlum9829/Profile.aspx)

The second photo is one I just took of MY ham salad. I don't think they look all that much different, do you? Other than the lighting is obviously different.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chili Mac - yeah, it's for dinner.

Been craving chili mac for a while now. I have no idea why since it's not something I've ever made and I don't remember ever eating it before. But, I love chili and I love macaroni/pasta, and somehow the combination just struck me as the perfect meal.

I finally thawed out some ground beef yesterday, but went to dinner with a friend, so I made this today. I basically made it like I do my regular chili and added the pasta. It's not like "Hamburger Helper" where it can be put on a plate with other sides. This still needs a bowl and a spoon. But, I am very happy with how it turned out.

I had a pound of ground beef that I browned. I added a can of Progresso Fire-roasted Tomato Meal Starter sauce, two cans of beans (your choice, but I used red beans and pintos), a can of tomatoes with mild green chilis and a can of stewed tomatoes. I also added about a cup of diced green peppers, another cup of diced onions and maybe 3/4 cup of diced celery. Once it was all hot and boiling and the 8 oz. of pasta was nearly cooked, I added between 2 and 3 teaspoons of chili powder (I don't like too much because it can be very bitter and you can't undo that) and then I added several shakes of Tabasco sauce. The one thing I forgot to add was salt. But, that's ok since all of the canned products I used have salt. And, I can add it in my dish if I want to.

Now I've eaten chili over rice before, a trick I used when we'd have a surprise guest for dinner on chili night. But, this is the first time I've had pasta with my chili. I like it. And, it makes the regular amount of chili go twice as far because it adds bulk.

Have you ever made chili mac and what did you do different to yours?

Photo is mine while the chili mac was still boiling on low on the stove.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Grocery Shopping

This is not one of our local stores.
I was reading a fellow Bubbler's post the other day about some tasty manager markdowns at his local grocer the other day wishing I could find bargains equally good. I ended up being taken to the grocery on Tuesday by my friend and found some lovely items, even though I hadn't planned to go shopping there. There was a manager's markdown on chicken thighs, though I don't normally buy them, but these were priced well under $1/lb, so into my cart they went. And, a nice package of pork chops on sale plus some sweet Italian sausage to make some pasta sauce with.

Now I get to decide what to make with one of them. And, thanks to reading 
yet another Bubbler's post, I came up with one idea for the pork chops. I will be making pork chops with country gravy, stuffing and green beans. The rest of the chops and the chicken will be frozen.

I also stocked up on more canned goods since our grocery decided to add a week to their semi-annual "Can Can" sale. Great markdowns on canned goods! Including 9Lives cat food. I don't think the cats will run out of food any time soon!!

Photo credit - Some rights reserved by taberandrew (
www.flickr.com/photos/andrewbain/) Wish my chicken thighs had been this cheap!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dinner in Maple Shade, New Jersey


I went out to dinner one recent Friday night with a friend and used the last portion of my Charlie Brown's Steakhouse birthday gift card towards the meal. I wasn't even thinking that it was a Friday night. I wish I had. The place was almost standing room only!

I'm not a small person. I couldn't fit between the seats around the tables to get to the table the waitress took us to. I looked around and found a wider path and took that. It was embarrassing, especially when some ignorant guy in line for the salad bar laughed when he saw my predicament.

However, the meal was more than delicious!! It's been a while since I've had a really good meal from Charlie Brown's. I don't know if it was because they were busy or if it was because we were at a different location than we normally go. But, the steaks and shrimp were cooked to perfection. The broccoli had been cut into florets instead of long branches with tough stems and cooked until tender, yet not overcooked.

Because of the narrowness of the pathways, my dining partner brought me my salad so I didn't have to embarrass myself going up and back, but I thoroughly enjoyed not one, but two, servings of salad. I don't usually do that. And, as always, their raisin nut bread was fabulous!

After dinner, we went to Starbucks in Cherry Hill where the French vanilla coffee I got was perfectly brewed. I usually opt for iced coffee, but got hot coffee this time. A couple cubes of ice and some milk and the temperature was ideal. I really enjoyed that cup of coffee, finishing it after I got home.

Photo credit - a photo of the side of the restaurant looking towards the front on Main Street. We parked at the curb right in front of this entryway. Photo is from CharlieBrowns.com.
The walls of all the Charlie Browns restaurants are covered with antiques and/or reproduction photos, often of local areas if they could find any. This one was no different.

This photo is of a basket that was on the wall next to our table. I was seated at the table when I took the photo. This basket fascinates me because of how large it is and because I have no idea what it would have been used for when it was new. Does anyone out there know?

Photo credit - this is my photo taken last night while seated at the table in the restaurant.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who knew the plastic would melt?? (Obviously not me.)



A few days ago, I was cleaning out the cat litter box and, if you've done that yourself, you know that the process sets loose a variety of lovely fragrances wafting through the house. I decided it called for some incense and candles when I was done, just to freshen things up to match the newly freshened box.

So, I lit a candle in the living room and another in the dining room and grabbed a cone incense for the kitchen where the litter box is. I decided I didn't want it setting on the counter, so I set it on top of my jar of peanut butter to keep it above other things sitting there and to provide for a place the ashes could fall.

Off I went about my day with no further thought on the matter.

Later, I went to the kitchen for something - I can't remember what - and I found what you see in the first photo. At first, I thought it was the base of the cone incense because the lid was still on the jar at the time and just looked like a dark circle - a PERFECT circle. But, when I picked up the jar so that I could flick the cone's remains into the trash, I realized it was a hole. WTF!??!??!!
When I opened the jar up, this is what I saw!!!

All I could do was laugh at how naïve I was. It just never occurred to me that the base of the cone would become SO hot that it would melt through the plastic lid of the peanut butter jar!!! All I knew was that the cone never burned all the way down, so I didn't even think twice about putting it on top of the jar.

Guess who's not going to be doing that any more??

What's the silliest thing you've ever done that would have been a lot more embarrassing if YOU hadn't been the first to notice it?

Both photos were taken by me. My copyright. Jan 2014.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chicken Soup (Making Silk Out of the Proverbial Sow's Ear) - Dinner Disasters and Redemption


I had made breaded pork chops with gravy and fried potatoes. Unfortunately, the potatoes were a complete disaster because they were dehydrated and I had REhydrated them before frying. Now, in my defense, I have done this with shredded potatoes, but I'd never tried it with sliced potatoes. I learned my lesson.

Because of the potato disaster, I decided to throw together a quick mix of pasta and tomatoes, which we've had before and enjoyed for years. But, the only pasta I had on hand was whole wheat bowties and it just didn't turn out right. The texture of the pasta just didn't fit with the concept we'd grown accustomed to, so the next night I added a can of spaghetti sauce to the mix hoping that something tolerable would result. (The pantry was needing to be restocked, so I was struggling to save this from the garbage.)

While the pasta WAS a tad more acceptable, there were still only two of us who ate it. I was still left with over a quart of pasta with tomatoes and sauce. What to do?

Well, I decided that chicken soup was the way to go (I hoped). I had leftover corn from disaster dinner night and I had carrot coins in the freezer along with some lima beans. I had plenty of chicken, so I decided to make broth and then add the pasta, corn and carrots for a (hopefully) hearty (and tastier) soup than the original meal turned out. [To be fair, the pork chops were excellent. Far more tender and moist than pork chops usually are. I'll do them again for sure.]

After making something else for a couple of days, I decided enough was enough. MAKE THE SOUP ALREADY!!!! So, I did.

It turned out terrific!! Of course, I seemed to be the only one who thought so since my son and his girlfriend wouldn't even try it. My granddaughter had a small amount, but refused to eat the vegetables. I wasn't too worried about that since, other than fiber, all their goodness was contained in the broth.

Here's what I did. I had a partial chicken breast leftover from some chicken and rice I had made. I put it in the pot with two cups of chicken broth and three cups of water plus chicken bouillon cubes and leftover corn from the pork chop fiasco. After that had all cooked for a while, I added frozen sliced carrots, frozen green beans and frozen baby lima beans. When that all cooked for a while longer, I added a pint of the disastrous bowtie pasta mix (with tomatoes and sauce). After tasting, I added two teaspoons of dehydrated minced onions, a teaspoon and a half of salt and another bouillon cube. I also took the chicken breast out and pulled all the meat off the bones, shredded it and reintroduced it to the pot.

I was amazed at how good it tasted! I should have waited longer to eat some since the vegetables were still a little on the crunchy side (not bad, but not how I like them), but the flavor was perfect and I was hungry !

So, it looks like my first effort at making chicken soup was successful. And, yes, it really DID take me this long to make chicken soup. I've made vegetable soup many times, but I have never ever tried to make chicken soup.

What was wrong with me???

Previously published on Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Photo credit - I, BrokenSphere [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ahhhhhhhhh.....Comfort Food!!!




How many of us still enjoy the deliciousness that is Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup?? All that melted cheese inside that buttery toasted bread just inviting you to dunk it into that bowl of creamy tomato soup sitting nearby! Doesn't it make your mouth drool? Or at least generate a bit of a tummy growl?

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons. I prefer white American, but I'd eat this in a heartbeat!!






Were you aware that there is a Mexican cousin to this wonderful comfort cuisine? Heck yeah! It is called a Quesadilla and usually uses Mexican cheeses (or cheddar and Monterey Jack) inside one or two tortillas. It is often served with salsa and sour cream. Sometimes it even has spicy grilled meats and veggies inside with the cheese for an even finer dining experience.

So, one day I really wanted something cheesy (to match my personality, naturally), but didn't have any more bread or tomato soup. What to do, what to do?!? AHA! Tortillas in the fridge! An already opened package of Monterey Jack!! And plenty of salsa and sour cream just BEGGING to be consumed!! Foodie Utopia!! (Or would that be FOODTOPIA???)

Quesadilla photo credit - By Elisa Arteaga from Caracas, Venezuela (Quesadillas tradicionales) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons