Monday, April 30, 2007

Taking Requests

My mother called me yesterday.

Mom: Mark May 6 on your calendar.
Kat: For what?
Mom: Andy's confirmation, Kelsey's 7th birthday, Aunt Jane's 50th birthday, and possibly Cory's birthday - and whomever else we missed.
Kat: Oooooooo-kaaaaaaaaaay.
Mom: Do you think you can make a dessert?
Kat: Yeah, probably. What were you thinking of?
Mom: A 4-tier cake, each one decorated individually.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that not only will this cake be the death of me (that's for certain!), but if I can pull it off, it would be mighty cool. I'm going to stop by Michael's soon to check out their Wilton supplies. I may have to change my answer to "yes" for this request.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weekly Menu Planning

Yo! What's for dinner?!

I finally got my ass in gear and cleaned up the kitchen (in small, contained spurts - so it didn't necessarily seem like the huge job it actually was)! Even the refrigerator...which was on it's way to looking like a science experiment.

Groceries are shopped for, and put away - and a menu is posted for me to glance at every morning. I've also noticed, that I am finally beginning to repeat recipes...which means, it's time to buy a new cookbook!

Sunday - My Meatloaf, smashed potatoes and roasted carrots
Monday - Chicken Divan with rice
Tuesday - Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla's and CityMama's Roasted Cauliflower, Fennel and Garlic Soup
Wednesday - Thin Spaghetti tossed with olive oil, tomatoes, basil and goat cheese and a garden salad
Thursday - Gourmet (!) Hotdogs (Nathan's wrapped with bacon), Potato Salad and Ambrosia Salad
Friday - Homemade Greek-style Pizza with tomatoes, feta, and spinach
Saturday - Breakfast for dinner - Sausage, Waffles or Pancakes (haven't decided yet), and Eggs with a side of English Muffin

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Long time, no eat..., that is. I have not made a single meal all week. I've been lazy to the max - seriously, you should see my kitchen. I just can not muster the strength to do the pile of (stinky) dishes in the sink. I tried to bribe Nathan, but he was not biting. So, we've been eating either cereal, or going out to eat. I going to kick my own ass TONIGHT and finally pick up.

We've had quite a busy week! Sparky passed his Beginner's Training Class just last night, with flying colors. He's a show off puppy! Our neighbor's house was raided by the Police the other morning. No one was home at the time, so the action was short-lived. Real life raids look the same as movie raids! I was impressed, and scared. I'm sure they found a ton of illegal *stuff* in the house, and I hope they made a second appearance and finally get the dead beat drug dealers.

And finally - even though I have not been cooking, I have been sitting on this recipe for a very long time. It's one of my favorites, because it is very easy, timely and delicious.


1 lb sweet Italian Sausage, removed from casing and "crumbled"
1 bell pepper (any color), cut into strips
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 cup of reserved pasta water, if needed
1 box Farfalle (bow tie) pasta
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 tsp dried parsley (or 1-2 tbsp of freshly chopped parsley)

Cook pasta as directed. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid, if needed later in the recipe.

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter. Add crumbled sausage, onions and garlic and cook until sausage is completely cooked through. Add bell pepper strips and saute until pepper is crisp-tender. Toss in cooked and drained pasta. If pasta looks too dry, slowly add in some of the cooking liquid, until you achieve the desired consistancy. (Note: if you add too much liquid, your pasta will become soggy - so go against your instincts and keep the pasta on the drier side!)

Season with salt and pepper. Add parsley and serve!

Leftovers are great for lunch the next day...

You will not believe the flavor this dish holds.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Meal Full of Chickpeas

The last time I made Chicken Tikka Masala I thought that it would probably be wonderful with chickpeas substituted for the chicken, and I was right! Not only was it very tasty, but the cooking and prep time was cut down significantly - especially if you used canned chickpeas.

The recipe is basically the same, with some minor spice ommissions and technique adjustments.


3 cans of chickpeas, drained
1 starchy potato, cut into chunks
1 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp cumin
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (optional)
2 tsp paprika
1 (8 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro salt, to taste

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 tsp cumin, paprila and salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream, and add cubed potato. Simmer on low hear until sauce thickens and potato softens, about 20 minutes. Add chickpeas and simmer for another 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Naturally, Nathan balked at the idea of eating only chickpeas for dinner. He's a meat guy, and even though he likes all kinds of vegetables, the idea of having something "non-meat" for dinner throws him off. After all of the complaining, he ate two servings and told me that he liked it. Punk!

I also picked up some hummus and pita for a little side dish (and even more chickpeas!), in case the meal failed. You gotta have a back up, ya know.

And, if you are going to go Indian/Pakastiani, you may as well go all the way and treat yourself to a little authentic liquid refreshment. (of the thick and creamy kind) A Lassi is a non-alcoholic beverage that is very popular in Indian cooking/eating. I made mine with a combination of plain yogurt, mango juice, a pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of sugar. Blend it all together in a blender - and chill. It helps to calm any heat you may experience from the jalepeno and spices.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lamb Chop (s)

No, no, no...not that Lamb Chop! *giggle*

I have a hard time eating lamb. The last time I made it, it totally stunk up the whole house and tasted really "gamey." All while trying to eat my teeny little piece, I kept thinking "baaaaaaaaaaaaa." Not good! No matter how I tried to swallow that juicy piece of lamb chop, my mind kept reverting back to wool and fluffy white baby sheep. I do not do this with chicken, fish, pork and beef - why lamb? (This was a couple of years ago.)

Just this past weekend, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and decided that I would try lamb once again...after all, my tastes have changed significantly as I have...aged. *groan* I found a beautiful package of lamb chops at my local grocery - they were thick, and deep red and looked perfect.

I didn't really have a recipe - I knew I would pan fry them in a little olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper. I wanted a sauce to drizzle over them, and decided that reduced balsamic would work just fine. I added a little tarragon to the balasmic vinegar for a kick in flavor. I paired the lamb with some roasted carrots and baby red potatoes and called it a day.

And, it was good. Tasty even. Until I started to think about baby sheep again. I ate one chop and fed the rest to the dog - who ate them with such gusto that I became a little jealous.

I have to admit though, they were cooked to perfection...nice and medium rare in the center.

Maybe one day I will be able to enjoy lamb. Perhaps I should look into hypnotism! Hey, if it helps people to stop smoking, it should be able to assist me in eating Mr. Lamb Chop!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Weekly Meal Planning

Someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that it is Spring - as I look out my window to see 2 inches of snow and slush...maybe if I cook springlike, it will encourage the change of the season. Maybe?

Monday - Spring Lamb Chops, with a Balsamic Tarragon Reduction and Roasted Baby Red Potatoes
Tuesday - Chicken Picatta
Wednesday - Chickpea and Potato Tikka Masala over Curried Rice
Thursday - Fresh Asparagus and Chicken Casserole
Friday - (Work Event)
Saturday - Homemade Individual Specialty Pizza's

Alternate Menu: Butternut Squash Soup

Monday, April 09, 2007

Eating Easter - Part 2

The ham was good - for ham. I'm not a big fan of ham, especially spiral ham - it's salty, and there was more fat on it than meat. My mother burnt some water (I kid you not) and filled a serving bowl with raw carrots, instead of the steamed ones she tried to make. That trick caused my niece to break out in a fit of laughter, which broke the silence, and the piss poor mood my younger brother was in!

The evening finished off with a couple of episodes of "Flavor of Love" with is the most unwatchable trainwreck in the history of bad television - and I love it!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Eating Easter - Part 1

HAPPY EASTER FELLOW FOODIES! (or Passover, or whatever you may celebrate this weekend)

I am looking forward to my family's Easter feast tonight...and thought I'd share some dessert and specialty items I made to bring along.

How about some bunny cookies - 8 inches tall?! I used my Delux Sugar Cookie recipe and an extra large Easter Bunny cookie cutter, then spent a little time and effort decorating them. I only did 3 - one for my bro, the niece and nephew - so it wasn't too bad. After they dried, or rather...I thought they dried, I placed them each in a small plastic food bag. I can't wait to pass them out! The kids are going to FLIP!

ANGEL LUSH with PINEAPPLE (recipe from both and

1 20 oz can crushed pineapple, with juice undrained
1 4 oz package vanilla flavored pudding

1 container* cool whip whipped topping

1 10 oz package of prepared angel food (or make your own)

Seasonal berries

If you are making your own angel food, you can use this recipe, or do as I did and enlist the help of Pilsbury! (I mean, why make things harder than they have to be?) I don't really like my store's angel food cake, or I totally would've bought a prepared one.

In a large bowl, combine pineapple, with juices, and vanilla pudding mix. Gently fold in the whipped cream.
(*The original recipe calls for only 1 cup of whipped cream, but it is not enough! I used the entire tub, then added a few yellow food coloring drops to give the mixture more color.) Set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the angel food cake into three layers, with a serrated knife.

To assemble: Place 1st layer of cake on your plate, and top with 1/3 of your whipped cream mixture. Repeat 2 more times. Top cake with freshly washed and dried berries of your choice. (I filled the hole with them as well)
Sprinkle with powdered sugar on top, if desired.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Banana Bread

YUM!!! I wish this blog has smell-o-vision!

I've tried a couple of recipes - and this one is definitely the winner, hands down. The bread is moist all through, and the crust has a sugary crispness that is just the perfect finish. (I eat Banana Bread from the bottom, up - savoring the top as I go - kinda like the top of a muffin!)


1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup banana (2-3 bananas, depending on size)

1 tbsp vinegar, plus milk to make a 1/2 cup in total (let sit 15 minutes)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix together your vinegar and milk and set aside. Prepare your bread pan with a spray of cooking spray and a light coating of flour - to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, soda, salt and eggs. Add milk mixture and mix well to combine. In a small bowl, smash bananas until creamy. Add bananas to batter. Mix to combine. Pour into bread pan. (Lick the spoon! It's even better than cake batter!) Bake in the oven for approximately 70-80 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Slice, and serve with a huge glass of iced cold milk!

To store: Wrap bread in a tin foil, and keep 3-5 days.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Risotto Rice Balls

The ways of risotto, part II:

I have never been let down by Martha Stewart. Her cookbooks are filled with wonderful recipes and pictures (!!!!) and her tips and technics always seem to work. My general "cooking" has increased tri-fold with her assistance. Martha's Hors D'Oeurves Handbook is another winner, in my book. I first used the cookbook back around Thanksgiving time when I "tested" the rice ball recipe, as well as a couple other appetizer yummies...all were excellent!

The rice balls satisfied, without being heavy in your stomach - and were great with accompanying sauces, like pesto and salsa, or cheese dips. I thought that they could be placed on an even higher pedistal - taking the main stage in a meal.


2 cups prepared
risotto, of your choice (great way to use your leftovers!) - chilled
1 cup italian bread crumbs
4 cups of vegetable oil
small cubes of your favorite cheese - I used fontina

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Meanwhile, take approximately 1 - 1 1/2 tbsp of risotto into your palm. Carefully place a cube of cheese in the center, and form a ball around the cheese - totally incapsulating it. Roll ball in bread crumbs, then place in the hot oil. Fry until brown, turning once to cook each side. Remove when browned, and place on a rack to cool. Serve either warm, or chilled.

The risotto balls were nice and crisp on the outside, and tender and creamy on the inside - with a special surprise of melted cheese right in the center! I placed them atop a HUGE salad (we aren't mini salad people!) of baby spinach, sectioned grapefruit and navel oranges, smoked cheddar cheese, chicken cubes and other colorful vegetables. I dressed the salad with a little balsamic dressing, and dinner was served!

A close-up of all the goodness!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Risotto is one of those dishes that scares a lot of people for some reason. Maybe because it is a bit on the labor intesive side - or maybe because the dish itself has such high expectations. Who knows?! For me, the time and labor pay off in the end, with a dish that is flavorful, and creamy - and if you add a little somethin' somethin' at the end - colorful and/or cheesy! (And, who doesn't like Cheese!)

Making risotto is definitely one of those preparations you should commit to memory and have in your overall "bag of culinary tricks." Once you get the idea down, you can add anything you'd like, from mushrooms to squash to lemons to peas to herbs...whatever you'd like, to make it your OWN.

The recipe below is my own take on "basic" risotto - the leftovers of which will appear in tonight's dinner in a completely different form. (ohhhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhh!) Naturally, I adjusted the recipe a bit to ensure that leftovers would be had.


1 cup
arborio rice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
6 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup dry vermouth
3 tbsp freshly grated fontina cheese (my addition - traditionally, you would use parmesan cheese)
salt and pepper, to taste

Empty chicken stock into a saucepan, and keep at a gentle simmer. (Keeping your stock at a simmer throughout, keeps the cooking process moving - as you are dealing with heated liquids, as opposed to cold liquids that will stunt the cooking process.)

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium to high heat until butter melts. Add rice, onion and garlic, stirring to fully coat with the fat. Cook until onion becomes translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add vermouth, stirring rice until combined. Continue cooking until most of the liquid cooks out. (Keep stirring! It's the stirring motion that will give you the desired creaminess in your risotto.)

Once vermouth is cooked out, add 1 cup of chicken stock, repeating the process of cooking and stirring. Repeat step until the risotto is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Finally, add in any additions - herbs, vegetables, cheese, etc - and stir to combine. Serve!

Risotto makes a great side dish - but depending on what you add, it can also be a very suitable meal!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Weekly Meal Planning

I both Monday (today!) and Friday off this week from work and I am ever so excited, especially since Easter Sunday is fast approaching...and thus, Easter Sunday menu planning!

Monday - Baked Chicken with Risotto
Tuesday - Spinach Salad with Egg, Citrus and Risotto Rice Balls
Wednesday - Meatball Parmesan Subs
Thursday - Sausage and Pepper Bowties
Friday - (skipping Pizza Day this week) - Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp
Saturday - everything Calzones