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sausage and mussels

bag o mussles

Here is the second recipe I made on Sunday night with a portion of that huge package of sausage I’d purchased at Costco. I bought a huge bag of live mussels to go along with it.

mussels and chowder

Remember, I made the Corn, Potato & Sausage Chowder? We had steamed mussels too.

discard broken

It’s important to do two things with live mussels. First, pull out and discard any and all cracked or broken mussels.

cornmeal

The second thing; just before cooking,  pour a 1/2 cup or so of cornmeal into a large bowl.

add water

Add cold water and stir. Then add the mussels and let sit for about 20 minutes. As the mussels breathe, they take in the cornmeal and fresh water and expel sand and grit.

get rid of grit

Lift the mussels out of the water with a slotted spoon or spider and leave the sandy water behind.

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April 2, 2014   2 Comments

sausage to the rescue

sleep baby

I have a confession. It is really hard to get back into the swing of cooking and cleaning and real-life after nearly 3 weeks of being out-of-town and having company. I have no drive or motivation to do … ANYTHING!

Dave is knee-deep in tax season, so we are like ships in the night.

Connor works from 2:30 PM to midnight, five to six days a week, so he’s rarely home for dinner.

sleep kitten

And although I didn’t have jet-lag in the usual sense, I now realize that although I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night…. I am tired all day long!

sleepy sloth

I mean, when 3:30 or 4:00 hits each afternoon… I’m ready for bed! It takes all my power to stay up. Seriously, I feel like I need toothpicks to hold my eyes open! I think the latest I’ve hit the sack since our house-guests left is 8:00 PM. My usual bedtime is 10:30 or 11:00.

Enough of my first-world woes. I did get somewhat inspired by a package of sausage, of all things.

aidells

It’s really good sausage! Aidells sausage from Costco. And one of my favorite flavors ~ Habanero with Pepper Jack!

I went on the Aidells website and found a recipe to zip up to our liking. Here is one of the two sausage dishes we had for dinner on Sunday night…

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March 31, 2014   2 Comments

turkey gumbo

I usually use the leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make enchiladas, chili or tacos. This year… Turkey Gumbo!

The thing about gumbo is that you have to start with roux. The thing about roux is that you have to stir constantly … for a long, long, long time! And the thing about stirring constantly, is that I hate having to do that!

auto stirring piece of crap

Several years ago I received an automatic pot stirring thing-a-ma-jiggy, called the StirChef Saucepan Stirrer. It has sat in the box and never been opened … until yesterday, when I made this gumbo. I’ve had it so long that the batteries that were included – were corroded.

how many pots

Guess what, I should have left it in the box. It was useless. It only fit into the smallest of my saucepans and the paddle turned so slowly, seriously ridiculous!

Here are some of the reviews I found on Amazon:

“I spent one dollar on this at a thrift shop and I still feel like I was ripped off. It is no surprise they are already out of business. The thing doesn’t even fit on all but one of my saucepans.”

“I just set this up for the first time to make a roux… what a joke!
It fit the pan and that is THE ONLY thing that was a positive. As soon as those worthless paddles hit that hot oil and flour, they began to dissolve!”

“Attaching the StirChef to my new 4qt saucepan, I turned it on to stir some chopped vegetables for 10 minutes at low heat. After about 4 minutes the flimsy plastic blades began to melt, adding an interesting but unwanted taste to the vegetables.”

bad gadget

Evidently this lame product is a collector’s item of some sort. On Amazon it sells for nearly $90 new and $60 used. Mine has only been used once. I’m willing to sell it for a mere $45.99.

Any interested buyers out there? No? OK, maybe you’ll be more interested in my Gumbo recipe.

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November 30, 2013   1 Comment

easy meaty or meatless Monday meal

It has only taken me a week, but I’m finally getting back to you with the second recipe using those polenta scraps from the Polenta Pesto Bruschetta recipe I gave you a week ago today.

trader joe's polenta

This is almost the perfect “layer and bake” recipe, all you have to do is brown some Italian sausage. Although, you could easily make this dish even more convenient by omitting the sausage, thereby creating the perfect Mindless Meatless Monday Meal.

Dave was out-of-town when I made it, but Connor was home for the night, so meat was called for. We enjoyed the spiciness that the sausage added.

Italian Polenta Bake

Italian Polenta Bake

Polenta trimmings from this recipe, or a tube of prepared polenta, cut into rounds
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
8 ounces hot Italian sausage, cooked
1  1/2 cups purchased marinara sauce
2/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese

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September 16, 2013   1 Comment

“garbage” pasta

As I mentioned a few days ago, I make it my mission to clean out the fresh food in my refrigerator before we go out of town. The easiest way to do that in the winter is to make a soup and the easiest way the rest of the year is to make pasta. I call this “garbage” pasta, because I’ll put any and everything in it.

garbage pasta

This particular time, I had a partial box of cherry tomatoes plus fresh heirloom tomatoes from my garden. In addition there were partial bags of green beans and sugar snap peas. I always have garlic and onion on hand, so those always start the dish.

The first step is to get a big pot of water boiling. Add salt and blanch vegetables such as the green beans, sugar snap peas, asparagus, snow peas, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower for a couple minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove them and have a big bowl of ice water ready to drop them into – to stop the cooking.

Once they’ve cooled down, drain and set aside.

icedbeans

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May 27, 2013   1 Comment

muffin “almost there”

Here is a quote from yesterday’s post:

“So back to the drawing board. I hope to have it down by tomorrow and post the recipe and my success.”

craftsman and wolves sign

What I hoped to have down was the recipe for “The Rebel Within” from Craftsman & Wolves, a restaurant in San Francisco.  “The Rebel Within” is a buttery, cheesy, sausage flecked muffin with a soft-cooked egg in the center. The egg yolk in the muffin should be soft and runny with the oozing yolk dripping like liquid gold onto the plate.

oozing

The muffin is named after a Hank Williams III song. Williams is the grandson of the legendary Hank Williams and the son of Hank Williams, Jr.

So, the big question is… did I get it right? Was I successful? Was the liquid gold running onto my plate?  No. No. and No!

I really wanted to name this post “Muffin Extraordinaire” but it’s honestly only “Muffin Almost There.”

blueprint

I developed the recipe by using the blueprint of the muffin that I found on the restaurant’s website. It’s a tongue-in-cheek blueprint with a hint of what ingredients to use, but it has no real portions. At least it gave me a starting point.

First, I tried soft poaching the eggs for 3 minutes in simmering water and then shocking the cooked eggs in ice water, as with THIS method. But once the muffins were baked, the yolks were firm, not even close to runny.

The second go-round, I tried only poaching three of the eggs for one minute and shocking them in the ice water. I cracked the remaining three eggs directly into the bottom layer of batter in the muffin tin.

I imagined that the 1-minute poached eggs would work and that the raw eggs would run all over the place and make a mess.

Once the muffins were baked, I anxiously cut into one of each type of muffin. The result? Exactly the same as the first time around. The yolks were cooked firm. The raw eggs did not run and make a mess, as I anticipated, they were firm right in the center of the muffin, just as the poached eggs were.

Even though the yolks didn’t turn out as I had hoped, I am going to share the recipe I developed while trying to get it right, because even without runny yolks, the muffin is AMAZING! Wonderfully scrumptious. Somehow the muffin is dense, yet still fluffy and fabulously flavorful.

Instead of naming my version “The Rebel Within” I shall name mine “The Easter Egg Within.”

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January 31, 2013   7 Comments

Connor’s last summer breakfast

Before Connor packed up his belongings and headed back to school, I made him a special going-away breakfast.

Good luck in school, sweet boy, study hard and have fun! xoxo

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August 28, 2012   5 Comments

shrimp sausage pasta

Back in early June, I told you how I was going to join a CSA.  Well, I did, and I was able to pick up a box of fresh Crooked Sky Farm produce every Thursday morning for the past eight weeks. What fun it was to be surprised by the bounty I received.

For the last four weeks of the eight, there was fresh corn. Corn is one vegetable we never get tired of. This is one of the many “easy-breezy” dishes I created to use up all that corn. Of course, many a night, it was plain old corn on the cob, always a wonderful summer-time treat!

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August 12, 2012   3 Comments

a couple days late…

On Saturday, I was supposed to post the scallop and chorizo recipe I served at the Thursday night “Dirty Book Club”.  I forgot – but no one seemed to notice.  No harm, no foul.  Since you didn’t appear to be waiting with bated breath, how about I delay it a tiny bit longer and tell you all about my pretty flowers and trophies?

Above is a photo of the flowers I gave to Dave for Father’s Day.  I was about to arrange them in regular old vases, when I remembered that I had just seen peonies and other flowers in trophies at the gorgeous home of my friend, Shelia.  Yes, trophies, so much more manly than vases.   Especially when you consider that Dave won the golf tournament he played in over the weekend! I wish they gave out trophies at the darn club, but I think he’ll just get club or store credit. That sucks, trophies are way cooler!

The two tall trophies hold peonies and sunflowers from Trader Joe’s. They are replicas of vintage trophies. I bought them online at Antique Farm House.

If they are offered for sale again, I’m going to get at least one more – OK probably two – can’t help it, I love them!

The small loving cup is a true antique and holds dahlias and lavender sprigs from my garden.

Oh, and it was exactly one year ago today that my baby girl moved to San Francisco. Time Does Fly!  I miss her dearly but am so excited because I just booked tickets for Connor and I to fly off and visit her in just six short weeks!!!  OK, no more delaying… it is recipe time…

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June 18, 2012   4 Comments

farmer’s market squash

Connor and I went to the Scottsdale Old Town Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. I got him all excited to go, telling him that we could split one of Eugenia’s heavenly croissants from the Essence Bakery Cafe booth at the market and then we’d go Barrio Queen for breakfast afterwards. Who could resist once they’ve seen this breakfast menu?

Con got up early on a weekend day and we left the house at 7:20. Only two problems – the Essence booth wasn’t there on this particular Saturday and Barrio Queen doesn’t open until 11:00. What an utter letdown!! We ended up eating a very nice meal at The Breakfast Club, but it certainly wasn’t the same as Chile Verde Con Huevos or Chilaquiles from Barrio Queen!

Oh well, at least we bought cute round zucchini at the market and I did my best to make it up to him by creating this meal for him on Sunday.

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June 5, 2012   4 Comments