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a new Thanksgiving recipe!

Here we are, 4 days until Christmas and I’m finally posting a Thanksgiving recipe. Obviously, it would be great for Christmas too, so if you’re still searching for a new side dish, I highly recommend this one! I found it on Instagram, posted by one of my favorite cheese providers, Murray’s Cheese. The recipe calls for hot honey and burrata.

Burrata is an Italian cow’s milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer casing is solid mozzarella, while the inside is stracciatella and cream, making it extremely luxurious and delicious when broken open.

I’m posting both Murray’s photo and my own. Murray’s used kabocha squash and shows the burrata still in its whole form. While I used acorn squash and broke up my burrata a bit more and scattered mine throughout the platter, ensuring all guests were able to have some on their plates. Also, the lighting in my photo is atrocious, taking on the stove, under the stove light! Terrible!

If you’ve never had hot honey, you’re really missing out! The brand most popular is Mike’s Hot Honey, which you can find at most grocery stores. Trader Joe’s has their own brand and you can also easily find burrata there.

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December 21, 2022   No Comments

Ramen

December 12, 2022   No Comments

Lasagna Rolls

I have so much information to give you about this recipe before you even look at the recipe! So please read the important note below. First, I have a question for you. Did you know that crème brûlée was supposedly a mistake? Legend has it that nuns invented it for the occasion of a visiting bishop: originally it was supposed to be a pudding, but it came out too runny and so they sprinkled some hot caramelized sugar on top in order to hide the mistake. I figure if a cooking mistake made by nuns turns into a triumph, why can’t I do it too!

Please read this * IMPORTANT NOTE! My mistake was buying the wrong type of lasagna noodles for the recipe I wanted to make. It wasn’t until I was knee-deep in making this lasagna that I noticed the noodles I’d purchased at Trader Joe’s were the no-boil type. I very much needed the noodles to be at least semi-boiled so that they would be soft and pliable enough to roll. So I threw caution to the wind and threw the entire package of noodles into a boiling pot of water. This was mistake number two! Almost immediately, they began to stick together. No-boil noodles are large and flat, they don’t have the curly edges that lasagna noodles are famous for. I tediously lifted little piles of stuck noodles out of the boiling water and began peeling them apart. Fingers burning and much swearing ensued. As I separated them, I carefully put them, one by one, back into the water, taking great care to stir the pot to ensure they wouldn’t stick a second time. It worked! I did not cook them fully. I cooked them to the point of barely pliable and nowhere near toothsome or al dente. They will continue to cook and soften fully while in the oven with all the sauce, as intended.

All this being said, you are welcome to use traditional curly lasagna noodles, but you will get nowhere near the amount of filling on each and they are in grave danger of tearing, as traditional noodles tend to do. The no-boil noodles are stronger, nice and flat, and substantially larger, holding a lovely amount of tasty filling.

Rolled Lasagna Florentine

Ground Beef Base

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup peeled and diced carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Tomato Base

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Lasagna

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 15-ounce carton ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12-ounce package shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 package no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Trader Joe’s brand) * important see the note above
  • 2 cups Tomato Base (from above)
  • Ground Beef Base (from above)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish
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December 8, 2022   No Comments

Instant Pot vs. Slow Cooker

At my house, I have an Instant Pot and a slow cooker, also known by the brand name, Crockpot.

As far as small electric kitchen appliances go, I also have a food dehydrator, an air-fryer, a countertop grill, a rice cooker, a waffle iron, a citrus juicer, an extractor juicer, an immersion blender, a Vitamix blender, a three-bowl hot pot, an ice cream maker, an electric skillet, a Cuisinart food processor, a KitchenAid stand mixer, 2 hand mixers, a deep fryer, a commercial coffee maker, a popcorn popper, an electric kettle, a 4-slot toaster, a Raclette grill, a sous vide, and the list goes on and on.

I bring this up not to brag about my plethora of appliances. The opposite, actually. If I hadn’t previously owned a cooking school, this would be embarrassing. The fact that the cooking school has been closed for coming up on 10 years makes it ridiculous! When I return to Arizona I plan to do some purging. One of the first things to go will be the Crockpot. When you have an Instant Pot, the slow cooker becomes redundant. In fact, all of the slow cooker recipes I’ve been posting these last two weeks have been made in Marissa’s Instant Pot on the slow cooker setting. Another thing that will be going to charity will be the popcorn popper. I bet that thing hasn’t been used for 25+ years!

As for the recipe below, Marissa and I discussed how to zip it up a bit more and decided that the addition of a diced bell pepper would be a good addition. That is added to the recipe below, though you won’t see it in the accompanying photos.

Instant Pot Lickity-Split Chicken Burrito Bowls

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 (1.25-ounce) packages taco seasoning
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans corn kernels, drained
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups fresh salsa, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, additional for garnish
  • Sour cream, garnish
  • 1 diced tomato, garnish
  • 1 sliced green onion, garnish
  • Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, garnish
  • Hot sauce, garnish

Set a 6-qt Instant Pot to “sauté” and adjust to “high” or “more”. Add oil, when heated, add onion and bell pepper and sauté until soft and translucent. Season with salt and pepper, add the garlic, and turn off the pot.

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December 5, 2022   1 Comment

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