About Me

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Just a simple gal living on the outskirts of Portland making ends meet. I have lived in Portland for over 20 years and I am happy to call it home. On this blog you will find everything from cooking to my crazy life. I hope you enjoy.

Friday, February 21, 2014


I have always been a firm believer that what you have for breakfast is not nearly as important as having breakfast. I do not care if you sit down to a two egg, two link and hash browns and toast or a bowl of granola and yogurt as long as you eat something. I distinctly remember feeding my kids tortilla chips one morning (o.k. it happened probably six times) for breakfast because I had forgotten to pick up cereal at the store the day before...no I did not pour milk over them...thought about it but decided against it. Seriously, what is the difference between a bowl of corn flakes and a handful of corn chips? I don't know any red blooded American who hasn't stood over a kitchen sink cramming in a slice of last nights pizza as they head out the door to work...not exactly breakfast fare (but sooo delicious). Now with all that being said I have a hard time forcing myself to eat food before the sun is fully up, coffee yes bring the pot and do not forget the creamer food however I just can’t seem to get around that in my head or in my stomach first thing in the morning.
I have had to make some changes to help improve my overall health and productivity and one of those changes was to start eating something in the morning, but I do it after I get to work during the week. I usually eat a bowl of instant oatmeal or maybe a container of yogurt and some fruit (keep in mind I have been up for three hours at this point). Where most kids hated oatmeal in the morning as children, I loved it. My mother made the creamiest oatmeal and would top it with a dab of butter and a little brown sugar or she would cook up Malt O Meal, which I liked, and have a box on my panty shelf as I type. F.Y.I make the muffin recipe on the box of Malt O Meal and your kids will love you forever. Those muffins warm from the oven with a little butter on them taste just like pancakes. I was never a cold cereal kind of girl, but today my favorite is Honey Nut Cheerios. Sure, I love pancakes, French toast, waffles and all of that but who in the real world has time for that during the week? Not to mention how bad that would be for you.
I was reminded this week of how yummy oatmeal can be because while sitting home sick I watch a lot of Food Network (and re-runs of Law and Order) and I saw Ina make super creamy oatmeal with dried fruit in it, and it looked almost as delicious as my moms did. I do not have time during the week to spend making creamy oatmeal or rib sticking food as I said it usually consists of instant oatmeal or yogurt, which I keep at work, but on the weekends, I do like to eat something a little more appetizing.
Homemade granola is always a hit. I posted the recipe in an earlier posting.
Quick and delicious weekday morning meal. Toast an English muffin topped with a little cream cheese, pistachios and a little drizzle of honey.
Weekend french toast made from a loaf of French bread is amazing.
Serve that French toast with some bacon.
I guess what I am getting at is eat something, anything and do your body some good...Now would somebody pass me the cold pizza from last night and get me another cup of coffee?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Third Time is a Charm

I have yet another upper respiratory infection this would be number three since the end of October. Now I know what you are thinking and saying under your breath "Oh it has been a bad year for colds and flu"...Seriously? Everyone says that every year. I think it is a Gypsy curse...at least in my case anyway.
I made a souffle for the first time in my life last night, and I have come to believe that souffle is French for dirty every damn bowl in the kitchen. I laid out all my ingredients egg yolks in one bowl, egg whites in a separate bowl, spices and flour in a pinch bowl, cream of tartar got a pinch bowl of its own and so on. Anyway you get the idea. My reasoning behind this was since I had never made a souffle before I wanted to have all the things I needed weighed or measured out easily within reach. This method worked liked a charm there were just a ton of dishes to do while the souffle cooked.
I used a basic recipe for my souffle and it worked like a charm. It went together really well and got nicely browned and puffy. It did have to cook a bit longer than the recipe called for, but that could be my individual oven, so keep an eagle eye on yours when cooking.
I served my souffle as a main course last night along with a spinach salad and a slice homemade bread. Since I am currently working on loosing a few pounds it was great... the bf had seconds, but anyone who does a spin class is allowed to pretty much eat anything they want since a spin class burns like 1400 calories. If that was me I would eat cheesecake for dinner and for dessert another slice of cheesecake.
These are only a few of the bowls used in the making of the souffle, none of which were harmed in anyway.
The end result was good. I may have over blended the whipped egg whites into the cheese and egg yolk mixture because I think it could have been a little puffier, but the flavor was rich and delicious and I would definitely make this again.
I have another blog worthy meal coming up on Friday, and maybe one on Saturday who knows maybe I will blog them both. I have decided I need a new crock pot since mine was purchased back during the Dark Ages. Well that is all for me for today back to recuperating and getting over this plague.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ameretti Cookies (Not just for Christmas)

This first time I had these delicious cookies was when I a temp receptionist for a major company in my chosen home town. The company had a Christmas Cookie competition and this cookie beat mine out. fortunately for me I was friends with the baker of these tasty tidbits and I got the recipe.
Super simple to make these cookies are a hit no matter where you take them. They are gluten free and nobody will know it because they taste amazing. The flavor for me reminds me of the brown crust on top of a homemade angel food cake not only in texture but flavor as well.
This is my go to cookie recipe when I am having someone over for coffee or tea and I have forgotten to ask them "are you gluten free?" which anymore seems to be one of the standard questions when having people over for any type of food.
Your guests will think you went to a ton of trouble making these delicious morsels. When in all actuality you will have spent maybe 30 min. in the kitchen, which is another reason they are so perfect you can make them up an hour before company comes and they will still be really fresh.
The recipe for these wonderful cookies is: 1 cup granulated sugar 1 (7-ounce) package almond paste (not marzipan) 1 teaspoon amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur) 2 large egg whites 1/4 cup turbinado sugar, and the mixing and baking directions are as follows: Preheat oven to 350°. Place granulated sugar and almond paste in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until almond paste is broken into small pieces. Add amaretto and egg whites; beat on high speed 4 minutes or until smooth. Chill batter for 20 minutes. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on pans; carefully remove cookies from parchment. Cool on wire racks. You can also find this exact recipe at Cooking Light.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Red Velvet

I love a good layer cake but around my house, an 8 or 9-inch layer cake is going to sit around and harden into a logger's wedge. You know what I mean you always end up with that slice or two that hangs around taunting you...frosting starting to crack…you end up shoveling it in your mouth while standing over the kitchen sink after walking in the door from work…No? Maybe it is just me.
My daughter had a birthday at the end of January and requested Red Velvet Cake for her celebratory dessert it is her absolute favorite that and my Maple Bacon Cupcakes (another post I promise), but this year she went with Red Velvet. Now as I said I hate large layer cakes so what I do is I cut the recipe in half and make a 6 in. layer cake. It makes the perfect amount to serve 6 reasonable slices of cake without leftovers lingering.
I use Sunny Anderson’s Red Velvet Cake recipe to me it tastes the closest to what I remember as a child, and it was easy to half the recipe. I have been using her recipe for years. It is always delicious. I don't make the traditional frosting we prefer Cream Cheese Frosting which is simple enough. Cream together 4 oz. of cream cheese and 1 stick of butter. Once that is creamed together add 1/2 lb of confectioner sugar a little at a time and beat well incorporating the sugar into the butter and cheese add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and blend in well until your frosting reaches a good spreadable consistency.
When you half the recipe it will take 1 fluid oz. of red food coloring.
Make sure you cream things together well.
Make sure you use fresh buttermilk ( I really think that is the secret ).
Add small amounts of flour at a time and blend in well after each addition.
Have your cake pans ready to go and your oven preheated. I line my cake pans with parchment paper and grease and flour the sides. I don't want any sticking.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them it really depends on your oven, and if you over bake them they will be tough.
When they are completely cooled you can frost your cake. Please keep in mind that I sliced off a the pointed/rounded tops on the layers to even them up for frosting. I just didn't get any photos of that part.
Make sure you get the second layer on straight. I always stack my layers bottom side up to give me an even work surface.
I don't know of a way to NOT get crumbs in the frosting. I have just gotten real handy at covering them up.
I think it turned out super cute.
The best part...after blowing out the candles the five of us ate all but one slice, which the birthday girl had for a snack while standing over the kitchen sink on her way to class.
My city got a substantial amount of snow on Friday and more yesterday and the weather forecast is calling for more today and tonight. I was fortunate to be able to get to the grocery store yesterday (thanx to my son and his 4x4) to do my weekly shopping before things got too bad. In my neighborhood we have roughly eight to ten inches of snow. I hope all my friends are off the roads, warm, and home safe.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mac n Cheese

I've seen some pretty horrid mac n cheese recipes in my day, and some that are so complicated and expensive to make they just seem ridiculous. Mac n Cheese around my house is a creamy, cheesy affair between two of my favorite cheeses and pasta. I don't always use the standard large elbow pasta sometimes I use chochiglie, cavatappi or rigatoni basically it is whatever I have plenty of on hand as long as the pasta can hold the cheese sauce.
You start by making a roux. Melt 6 Tlb butter into a large saucepan. When the butter is melted and bubbly add 6 Tlb flour and a good amount of salt and pepper. Cook the flour and butter together over medium heat for a few minutes stirring as it cooks. In a very large seperate pot bring enough salted water to boil to cook 1 lb. of pasta of your choosing, but cut a few minutes off the cook time of the pasta according to the package directions.
Pour into saucepan 4 cups of warm milk and add 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 2 tsp stone ground mustard. Heat white sauce until it thickens, slowly and stirring frequently so you don't burn or scorch the sauce.
When the sauce has thickened turn off the heat, taste and adjust salt and pepper and add 3 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese and 1 cu. shredded mozzarella cheese. Do NOT use pre-shredded cheese you will be unhappy with the results. You can use some sharp cheddar cheese but I wouldn't make all of it sharp. Stir until all of the cheese has melted.
Drain your cooked pasta.
Place your cooked pasta back into the pan you cooked it in pour in all of the cheese sauce and stir until well incorporated. I added cubes of ham this go around because it was the main dish and not a side.
Pour into a lightly greased, oven proof pot. Isn't that a darling little blue cast iron enamel coated pot. It was a Christmas gift from the BF.
In s small bowl combine bread crumbs, 1/2 cu. of cheddar cheese and melted butter. Mix together and sprinkle on top of the mac n cheese.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until brown and bubbly.
Leftovers? What leftovers?
A plate of homemade mac n cheese is as much a part of America as a slice of apple pie and a baseball game. It went from being a side on a blue plate special to a stand alone main with the additions of varied cheeses, vegetables and proteins. I have recipes that call for raw eggs, lump crab meat and leeks to recipes where you just add cream and grated cheese to hot pasta and bake. This recipe is my favorite and my family's favorite. It is rather basic, but it does the trick. It conjures happy memories and puts a smile on their faces and that is really all that matters.
Have a wonderful weekend.