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Happy Birthday, Marissa!

December 1, 2022   2 Comments

modern ratatouille

Aw, ratatouille, the French classic. Someone in my family, who shall remain anonymous, thought ratatouille was Italian. Oh, la vache!

No, ratatouille is a classic Provencal French vegetable stew recipe. The word ratatouille is derived from the Occitan term “ratatolha” and the French words “rata” meaning chunky stew and “touiller” which means to toss food or stir up.

This recipe takes the “stew” out of it and is visually pleasing with all the components showing off their beautiful colors and textures.

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November 28, 2022   4 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving

November 24, 2022   1 Comment

Max and Mushroom Soup

Can you believe that I’ve been here in Chicago with Marissa, Jeff, and Max for all this time, have put up 6 recipe posts, and haven’t shared a single photo of Max? It’s called “Lola Restraint.” Trust me, if this grandma didn’t have that sort of restraint and fortitude, this entire blog would turn into a blog about Max! I will not keep you waiting any longer…

My beautiful 5-month-old boy, Max Cameron! Even with the pain in my knee, I’m enjoying every second of being this sweetie’s Lola.

We even took a walk through the fall leaves to Trader Joe’s to do some grocery shopping on the third day I was here. Although it is only 0.6 miles from the house, a 30-minute round-trip walk, we will definitely be taking the car the next time. My left knee and the right leg, which supports the other, were not happy with me! And it took quite a bit longer than what should have been 30 minutes. There is one more photo of Max and his mama at the end of this very luxurious and luscious recipe. xoxo

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November 21, 2022   No Comments

soup for the ailing

Until Saturday, November 12th, all of my immediate family were unicorns. Have you heard of them? A unicorn is now what an individual who has not contracted Covid-19 in these past long 2 3/4 years is referred to.

One of our unicorns has fallen. Jeff, who has been going into the office once again, contracted Covid-19. Upon waking up on that Saturday morning with a fever, he subsequently took a test to learn the bad news. He immediately began quarantining in the master bedroom. Marissa tested and was negative. I did not want to waste a test, since I don’t have as much direct contact with Jeff, deciding instead to only test if Marissa or Max came down with it.

Jeff had a rough Sunday, that is until we got him some Paxlovid. He is feeling better each day, told to quarantine for five days from contraction, so he will be testing again Thursday to see if he is negative and able to join the world again. (masked, for an additional 5 days, in accordance with the doctor’s orders)

As I type this, it is currently Tuesday, November 15th, Marissa tests daily, so far, so good! I fly out on Sunday morning to be home in time for Thanksgiving with my fellow unicorns, Connor, Dave, and my dad. Keeping my fingers crossed that all stays well and that M & M and I continue to be unicorns too!

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November 16, 2022   No Comments

left knee and lo mein

Hey, guess what? We have another yummy slow cooker recipe today … along with an update on my current life situation.

You may recall the story from three years and eight months ago when I told you all about a knee injury I sustained while driving with my dad from Phoenix to Austin. Well, over the last 3+ years, the injury has only gotten worst. To the point where I need a knee replacement. In early October, I was nearly unable to walk, a cortisone shot helped a bit, but not enough for the long haul, so surgery is scheduled for January 31st. I am to the point that I Can Not Wait! The end of January cannot come soon enough. So that is what’s happening with me.

Caring for Max is honestly a great distraction. Creating Harmony Boards requires a large amount of time standing in one spot and standing for an extended time causes more pain than walking. Luckily, babysitting does not require much standing, so we’re all good here in Chicago. I look forward to watching him again in the spring when I’m able to get down on the floor and play with him without pain!

Slow Cooker Lo Mein

  • Sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon chile paste, or more, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Lo Mein
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 5-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Toasted sesame seeds, garnish

Whisk together soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, chile paste, oyster sauce, ginger, and sesame oil in the slow cooker. Add pork shoulder, then cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Remove pork shoulder from the slow cooker and shred the meat before returning it to the pot with the juices.

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November 14, 2022   No Comments

slow cooker days

I have been using the slow cooker much more on this trip to Chicago than on my month-long visit when Max was born in June. Mostly because I am his primary caregiver on weekdays while Marissa and Jeff are working. His longest nap is the first one in the morning, so I get everything prepped and into the cooker during that nap so that I don’t need to think about cooking for the rest of the day. The following recipe could easily be done in the oven, but then it would need more attention and I’d rather give all my attention to Max! *I made a half recipe, using only four chicken thighs. I found a Brussels spout sauté pack at Trader Joe’s that I served as the side dish.

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November 11, 2022   2 Comments

Soup for Windy Chicago

Soup is always a good idea, especially on a windy, chilly, Chicago day. Typically, Zuppa Toscana has bacon, but Marissa and I decided that the Italian sausage was enough meat for one soup. I’ve added it as an option in the recipe below, so you do you. Another change to the classic soup is my addition of diced tomatoes. I felt as though the soup needed a bit more color and tomatoes are always a win for me.

Zuppa Toscana

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 bunch kale, tough center stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Cooked and crumbled bacon and/or freshly grated Parmesan, optional

Squeeze the sausage out of their casings. Discard casings.

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat, when hot, add olive oil, swill around the pot and then add the sausage. Cook, stirring frequently until sausage is lightly browned, about 5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a plate.

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November 9, 2022   3 Comments

Marissa’s zucchini enchiladas

Marissa made this for dinner the other night and I love it! She made the recipe her own and found the original on a site called Gimme Some Oven. Marissa left out the corn, but when I make it, I plan to add it, so I’ve included it here. One point of contention between the two of us was the salsa I purchased when I did the shopping at Trader Joe’s. She requested salsa verde. She didn’t know that Trader Joe’s has two styles of salsa verde, the original and Hatch Valley Salsa, which is my favorite. I knew full well that when she asked for the salsa verde, she meant the original, but I bought my favorite. She was not pleased. Too bad, it was delicious!

Zucchini Enchilada Casserole

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, cored and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken
  • 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup whole-kernel corn
  • 1 1/2 to 2 jars salsa verde, divided
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • Possible Toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, diced red onion, sliced jalapeño peppers, sliced green onions, sour cream, and/or sliced avocado
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November 7, 2022   No Comments

classic

I made this salad while I was in Chicago back in August. On August 31, 2022, to be exact, while I was literally trying to get out the door to go to the airport to head back home. Marissa and Jeff would be enjoying it after Jeff got back home from dropping me at O’Hare. That is why there are no “in the process photos” and why the avocado is sitting on the platter instead of added to the salad. This is also why there are roasted bell and poblano peppers added to the classic salad, I didn’t want them to go bad if the fridge after I left.

The big news is that I’m back in Chicago for three weeks. I arrived last night and today is the first day of my stint as the primary caregiver to Max. Marissa’s maternity ended yesterday and she is back to work today. Granted, she is upstairs in her office, while Max and I are hanging out downstairs, but she is truly back to work, so it’s just me and Max for the next three weeks. More to come on random life updates in the days to follow. Until then, please enjoy this classic salad. xoxo

Original Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad

Brown Derby Dressing

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
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October 31, 2022   3 Comments