Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Breakfast for the Weary Traveler

For my travel wearied jet lagged husband I made cheesy scrambled eggs with a little heavy cream.

Bacon (Nieman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon) roasted in the oven.

Biscuits out of a can. I've tried real biscuits and they don't turn out as good as the canned version. 

And a cup of tea.
  1. I start a pot of coffee and then line the bacon up on a rimmed baking sheet. I insert the bacon into a cold oven and turn it on to 350 F.
  2. Once I have finished my first cup of coffee I check the bacon to make sure I haven't burnt it and remove it from the oven (20 min give or take).
  3. Tilting the pan to one side I remove about 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and pour it into a large non-stick skillet to cook the eggs.
  4. Grate cheddar or whatever cheese you have on hand, as much as you want.
  5. Set pan over medium high heat (6 out of 10 on my stove) and allow to heat up while you prepare the eggs.
  6. Crack three eggs (two for the weary traveler and one for the weary traveler's son) into a bowl and add a splash (I don't measure but if I did I would guess I add 3 tablespoons or so) of heavy cream.
  7. Whisk vigorously until combined. 
  8. Place bacon back in the oven to re-warm.
  9. Pour eggs into hot pan, sprinkle with cheese and push around with a spatula until large soft curds form. Eggs cook really quickly. So long as you let your pan heat for a good long time it won't take much more than a minute.
  10. Scoop eggs onto a plate as soon as they are just set add bacon, toast (or biscuits) and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't eat eggs in their natural eggy state so I have never tasted this egg recipe. Cakes and cookies yes, quiche and omelet no. The first time I made eggs for my husband, I cooked the life out of them. He couldn't even pretend to like them they were so overcooked.  After almost 11 years of marriage, I think i've figured out this egg cooking thing. According to my husband this recipe is delicious.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I like summer sausage!

Red wax gouda and summer sausage with apples is a perfect wintertime treat. Creamy cheese plus salty spicy meat plus crisp and fresh apples equals yummy.

Add a glass of prosecco and some friends and you have perfection. 

You know who else likes summer sausage?

This (almost 6 year old) guy!

The super bowl is the official cutoff date for summer sausage consumption. Shelf stable meat products can't possibly be good for us so we limit their consumption to the period of time between Christmas eve and the super bowl.

Monday, January 23, 2012

One Pot Mac and Cheese

My husband has a new job that requires him to travel. When he is traveling I learn things about myself. Namely I learned that when I cook, I make a lot of dishes. A lot is an understatement. There is an inverse relationship between the input of dishes and the output of food. I also leave all of the cabinet doors open. I should probably go tell Mark how much I appreciate him cleaning up after me and closing the cabinet doors.

Step one is admitting you have a problem. Step two is doing something about it so this weekend I made one pot (one colander, one cheese grater, one small cutting board, one whisk and three spoons) macaroni and cheese.

I apologize that there are no pictures to go along with this post. I have a history of burning dairy based sauces so I have focus on the task at hand.

To make you need:
  • Lots of Cheese: I used all of the leftover bits of cheese in my fridge, mostly sharp cheddar and some sharp provolone from Di Bruno Brothers that my friend Tammy brought to a recent get together,  plus a wedge of red wax Gouda. In total I had a gallon Ziploc storage bag a little more than 3/4 full for a total of about 2.5-3lbs of cheese. I am a firm believer that more cheese is always greater than less cheese.
  • 3 T Butter, real butter is preferred but you can use olive oil. "Light" anything will not work since it contains water and we need fat to create a roux.
  • 3 T Flour
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream, it's high fat content helps prevent lumps especially when you are adding the milk cold like I do to keep the one pot thing going.
  • 1.5 Cups Milk, whatever you have is fine. I use whole milk since that is what we buy.
  • 1/4 Tsp Cayenne
  • 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Dry Mustard (optional) I couldn't find my dry mustard so I didn't use it and everything turned out fine.
  • 1 Box Noodles I used Wegmans Tortiglioni because my son picked it. You can use whatever you have.
  • Salt to taste
  1. In a large pot of salted water boil noodles according to package instructions for desired doneness level.
  2. Drain noodles into a colander and set aside while you prepare the sauce. Don't rinse.
  3. Add butter to pot and melt. Be careful about putting the pot back on the burner you were using to boil the water. The burners on my electric stove top stay hot enough to burn butter quickly for a few minutes after I have turned down the heat.
  4. As the butter melts it will foam up. Add the flour as soon as the foam starts to subside but before the butter starts to brown.
  5. With the burner on medium to medium low (4-5 out of 10 on my stove) mix flour and butter into a smooth paste with a wooden spoon. 
  6. Add cayenne, garlic powder and dry mustard. Stir to combine.
  7. Switch to a whisk and add the heavy cream whisking until smooth. The consistency will be a lot like papier-mache paste. Make sure to continuously scrape the corners and bottom to prevent lumps.
  8. Gradually add the milk, while whisking, in 1/2 cup increments until you have a smooth sauce base that coats the back of a spoon. There will be moments when you are certain that you have messed up and your sauce base is doomed to lumpy-ness but everything will be OK just so long as you keep whisking!
    1. You may need slightly more or less milk than called for. You want the sauce base to coat the back of a spoon and be almost a thick gravy consistency. If it seems too thick add milk a little at a time to thin.
  9. Once sauce base is at the right thickness reduce the heat to low and keep stirring, switching back to the wooden spoon. Start adding the cheese a handful at a time allowing each addition to melt into the sauce before adding more.
  10. Keep stirring making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot.
  11. Once all of the cheese is added, taste and add salt as needed. Cheese can be very salty so how much salt you need depends on your taste. I added a good pinch to my sauce.
    1. At this point the sauce will have lumps of cheese in it depending on the type of cheese you selected. Lumps of cheese = good. Lumps of flour = bad.
  12. Add cooked noodles (which have been resting quietly in a colander) and stir to combine.
  13. Leave the burner on only long enough to warm up the noodles then turn the heat off.
  14. Serve immediately.
We ate the mac and cheese with BBQ pulled chicken that I made a few weeks earlier and stashed in the freezer. (I will post that recipe next) We had maybe two lunch size servings leftover after feeding four adults and three children.

It was especially awesome with the Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout from Flying Dog and ESB Amber Ale from Flying Fish that the DuBosar's brought.

PS: I lied. I took a photo with my phone of the leftover mac that I brought for lunch. The sauce breaks a bit when you microwave it but still tastes good.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spiced Nuts of Dreams

I made these sweet and savory cashews for a recent gathering of friends. One friend said that she had a dream she would be eating these cashews the night before the party and then she got to my house and there they were.

They are that good.

They are even better with a glass of sparkling wine like Domanie Chandon blanc de noirs (white wine made with pinot noir grapes) which is fruity but dry and in my opinion good with everything.

To make you need:
  • 1lb Raw Unsalted Whole Cashews* (I buy mine at Trader Joe's where they are also not too expensive)
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder (The kind that is a blend of ground dried peppers and spices like cumin, cloves and garlic powder. If you have to substitute cayenne or chipotle powder add in some cumin and garlic powder.)
  • 1/4 Cup Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar (Also purchased at Trader Joe's but available in the health food section of Wegman's and the baking aisle of Whole Foods. You can substitute regular white sugar but not brown sugar, you want grainy sugar not clumpy sugar.)
  • 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt (If you can't find unsalted cashews then use less salt)
  • 2 large sheets parchment paper.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Spread cashews in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Roast for approximately 10-15 minutes checking frequently after the 10 minute mark for even golden brown color. Nuts burn easily so don't walk away from them.
  4. While nuts are roasting, mix honey and spices in a large heat proof bowl (glass or metal).
  5. Pour roasted nuts into honey mixture and toss to coat. 
  6. Spread honey and spice coated nuts onto a parchment lined baking sheet (same one from step 2 is fine, no need to dirty an extra dish.)
  7. Roast honey and spice coated nuts in 350 F oven for another 10 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
  8. While nuts are roasting for the second time, mix sugar and salt in another large heat proof bowl. (metal or glass)
  9. These next steps must happen in quick succession for best results. Also be really careful since hot and sticky can cause a bad burn. As soon as nuts come out of the oven scrape them into the salt sugar mixture and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on a new clean sheet of parchment paper and allow to cool.
  10. Nuts hold on to heat for a long time and the sugars take time to set so let them cool for a good 10 minutes before consuming. Or just eat them and burn your mouth.
*I like raw nuts the best because they give you more control over salt and roast level. If you can't find raw nuts use what you can find.  

Raw Cashews:

Roasted cashews with honey and spice:

Finished Product!

Monday, January 16, 2012


I don't know if all families do this, I suspect they do, but I have always associated a core group of 2-3 recipes with growing up. Meals that were cooked and served almost every weekend and then reheated for dinner at least once probably twice during the week.

Swill was among them not so much because I ate it regularly but because it was what my mother and aunts and uncles ate regularly. I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents, the took care of my sister and I during breaks from school, so what they ate became part of what I ate even if it wasn't necessarily cooked in my house.

So,  swill. 

This isn't the blog post that makes all my friends run to Wegman's for ingredients. (I have no proof that has ever happened so humor me.) Swill is made with leftover bone in roast pork and sauerkraut with hot dogs, onions and apples. It is tasty, especially so because someone who loves you and wants to make sure you have enough to eat made it for you. 

To make you need (transcribed from a note my grandmother wrote me after hearing about my blog):

  • Cut up meat leftover after having baked a pork loin roast, bone in. Discard fat.
  • 1 or 2 bags of sauerkraut, Kissling's if available. To cut down on salt rinse in cold water.
(Photo from Super Fresh in Westmont)
  • 5 or 6 apples. I prefer Granny Smith, cut into 6 segments. Discard core.
  • 2 large onions coarsely chopped.
  • 1 lb. carrots sliced (optional)
  • 1 lb. hot dogs
Place all ingredients, except hot dogs, in large pot.
Simmer over low heat for about 1 hour adding hotdogs, sliced into about 6 pieces each, for the last half hour.

Server with boiled peeled new potatoes tossed with parsley, salt and pepper.

Original text:

Also the nice note, my grandmother has always written the best thank you notes, that accompanied the recipe.

A photo showing four generations, my grandmother, my mother, my son and I.