Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Serendipity RULES

OK, I was doing a load of laundry this morning, and was thinking that I should get rid of some of the crap I store on the "temporary" (if 12 years can be considered temporary) cheesy shelves in there. Whenever I do this, the first thing to mentally be flung from a high building onto a very hard pavement below is the punch bowl...really, who uses a punchbowl anymore? I know some do, I just like the convenience of a pitcher, or maybe one of those cool big glass receptacles with a spigot that you can never be sure is clean - but then I'd have to buy one. So it sits there, and as it has the added bonus of possibly being a family heirloom since I think it was used at my sisters wedding like a hundred years ago, it has avoided a spectacular end thus far.

So this afternoon, while I was accidentally going through my personal emails at work, one from a quilting website (I don't quilt, and I don't know why they send it anymore than I know why they think I need Viagra) made me stop and look at the pretty quilts I will never make, and a photo of an amazing thing with a promised recipe attached caught my eye. I held my breath, and my first thought was "I wonder if Denice knows about this!" (my blogging compadre) and I clicked and clicked, but it would not take me anywhere, so I just did a search with the name it gave. Ergo the following offering which may stay the execution of my punchbowl - I am going to make it this weekend and hope it does not kill me:

Punchbowl Cake

One yellow cake mix, prepared as directed in two 9" layers
2 boxes (3.5 oz) vanilla pudding, prepared as directed
1-20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
6 bananas, peeled and sliced
2 pints strawberries, cleaned and sliced (or you can use a big can of cherry pie filling if you want)
1-24 oz. container Cool Whip
1 Cup toasted coconut
1/2 Cup chopped pecans

Using a punchbowl or a REALLY large trifle bowl w/straight sides, layer with:
1-9" yellow cake layer
Half the vanilla pudding
Half the drained, crushed pineapple
Half the sliced bananas
Half the sliced strawberries
Half the Cool Whip
Half the toasted coconut
Half the pecans

Repeat with remaining cake layer and other half of each ingredient as above. Refrigerate at least one hour, serve with large spoon or diving board. I am considering sending one of the boys to the all-night grocery store so I can make it, take a 1 hour nap, then get up and eat some....doesn't it sound lovely??

"You're my Gyro!"

Haha...damn I'm funny. A Greek Gyro (pronounced YHEE-ro for those of you who didn't get the joke) is a wonderful thing - it's looks like a chunky, weird-ass taco but it will make your tastebuds say "Whut UP, Dimitri?!" My friend, Fabulous Todd (yes, he IS) thought the falafel recipe I posted looked good, and asked if I had a recipe for a good gyro. After I thought about it, I realized I don't really have a recipe, I just wing it - if you have to do it by the book, this may be of no help, but I suggest you pull the stick out a bit and give this a try. It's fashioned after some of my favorite dishes from the now defunct Greek Cuisina in downtown Portland, and yes I know they were greasy as hell (I mean the food...maybe) but doing it yourself puts you in the drivers if you go into an uncontrolled grease spin and end up having to be towed out of your chair, it's your own fault. This is by no means an authentic anything - it's what I like and I make no apologies....its' rude to talk with your mouth full.


Pita wraps ( they're pitas that do not split use them like a tortilla)
Gyro meat (I get it at Winco in the deli where they put all the prepared food- looks sorta like compressed slices of dog food, but are delicious...ARF)
Tzatziki (see recipe on last post)
2 cucumbers, peeled, quartered and sliced
2 or 3 tomatoes, quartered and sliced
Feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
Thinly shredded romaine (optional - I like cukes instead)

Place separated gyro meat slices in skillet, on griddle, in microwave or even in 325 degree oven until warmed through (they are fully cooked); warm pitas the same way, but in a clean pan or dish. Put meat on center of pita, fill with cukes, tomatoes, lettuce and feta as desired, and drizzle w/tzatziki. Fold like a taco and eat over a plate unless you like garlicky grease stains on your favorite letterman jacket, Todd.

That being said, this is my own version of a Greek sammich:

Chicken Oregano Gyro

About 12 chicken tenders, fresh or thawed
2 T. lemon juice (or the juice from one lemon)
2 T. olive oil
1 t. dried oregano
Dash of garlic powder
Pinch of kosher salt

Throw all ingredients in a gallon ziploc, squeeze out the air and roll around until it's all distributed. Let marinate, oh let's say 1 hour or so, or maybe 10 minutes because you always forget and wait until the last minute. Cook on grill until juices run clear when you poke it with a fork. (Or in a skillet or under the broiler...whatev) Cut em in half the long way if they're really big, or go whole hog - it's up to you. To assemble, same as the Gyros:

Pita wraps, warmed
Cucumber as above
Tomatoes as above
Lettuce as above (if desired)
Feta Dip

Make them just like the gyros, just use the chicken and feta dip in place of the gyro meat and tzatziki. So you say "Feta Dip?" This is totally made up outta my head - I used the menu description and my memory to come up with this, and I would bottle it and make a zillion bucks if I didn't think a life of luxury would end badly for me....

Feta Dip

1 cup Best Foods Mayo (don't screw with perfection)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp. each cider or seasoned rice vinegar AND lemon juice
2-4 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, adjust all to your taste as needed. Spread on one half of one side of each pita wrap, then add chicken and veggies. If you heat up a stack of pita's, then cut them into 6 or 8 wedges (do the whole stack at once), you can serve them with this dip - shoot, if people tasted it you could cut triangles out of cardboard and they'd scrape the bowl clean with em. Enjoy, and try not to imagine Meryl Streep making out with old dudes and singing Abba tunes - gagging is a buzz kill at dinner.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's all Greek to me

I usually create meals off the cuff - I buy what we're out of and what looks good, then instead of planning things out, get home from work and poke around hoping something delicious flies out of my imagination. That happened last night, when I had some pork tenderloin chunks about to go downhill and some cooking oil only used once for something non-noxious. Voila! A toasted kaiser roll (from the freezer) w/bbq pulled pork, spicy Thai coleslaw and fried onion strings was a more than a mouthful of awesome! We got busy, then tired and didn't clean up before going to bed (it happens you clean freaks), but in the morning there was a definite appeared an IED had gone off in there and the oily carnage was EVERYWHERE. I believe someone had a wild hair (or is it hare?) for some falafel...which is what inspired this post.

I first made it after my parents went to Israel, and Mom said Dad LOVED the falafel there - they brought me an Israeli cookbook and I gave it a shot. So I don't know if it's really Greek, but the Tzatziki you must serve with it is....I've been using that for fried zucchini dip for YEARS. But I digress - yammering about the mess on facebook generated a request, so here ya go Denice - the recipe gets fooled around with every time, but these are the basics. Oh, and you can buy falafel mix in the bulk bins at Winco...even easier. And be prepared for dragon could kill vampires after the sauce!


1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or you can use cilantro)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 t. ground cumin (or 1...I'm not as fond of cumin)
1-1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. cayenne (or less if you're wimpy)
2 T. flour
Vegetable oil

Put garbanzo's in food processor, process until mealy. Add rest of ingredients EXCEPT flour and process until coarsely pureed...don't do it too long or it turns a weird shade of pukey green from the parsley. Remove to a bowl and stir in flour. With wet hands and a cookie scoop if you have one, form balls and let stand about 15 minutes. Fry in 350 degree oil until golden brown, drain on paper towels. Serve w/warmed pita wraps or pockets, quartered and sliced cucumber or shredded lettuce, tomato slices and Tzatziki - and if you close your eyes you'll imagine a sweaty guy with a unibrow, more chest hair than a labradoodle, shirt open to the waist and gold chains swingin' doin' a belly dance and shots of ouzo...OPA!


2 large cukes, peeled
1 C. plain yogurt (Nancy's Honey is my go to, it hardly has any honey in it)
2 C. sour cream
1/4 C. olive oil
2 T. vinegar (white, cider or I use seasoned rice)
10-12 cloves garlic, peeled (YUP...I said 10-12)
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice cukes lengthwise and use spoon to scoop out seeds. Cut in chunks and process in food processor until coarsely chopped, remove from processor and squeeze as much water out of it as possible (use your hands, a strainer won't work). Add remaining ingredients except garlic, mix well, then using garlic press, squeeze in one at a time until it's as garlicky as you can stand...adjust salt and pepper as needed. I switched the sour cream and yogurt measurements because I like it less could do it either way, or with all yogurt...I think that's traditional. But I'm not a traditional take a phrase from my son's vocab, "I do what I want". Enjoy, and you might want to have some Altoids handy for afterwards - Mr. Unibrow might be feeling frisky later!

Momma Moose

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rollin' rollin' rollin'.....

It appears to me I was on a sweets bender, so I thought I would mix things up with an appetizer recipe I borrowed and then turned into something unrecognizable to the person who gave it to me. Do as I do, not as I bossily say...a good number of my best inventions are a bastardized version of someone's pride and joy, so tinker away and who knows what you'll come up with - could be a winner!

Brought these to a party and about half were gone by the time I had them all on the serving platter - either everyone had the munchies or they were delicious...

Artichoke Parmesan Roll Ups

2 - 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese

4 oz. can chopped black olives
1 can (15 oz?) 1/4'ed artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 oz. can chopped jalepeno's* (don't use all if yer wimpy)
1 tsp. garlic powder or garlic granules
8 flour tortilla's, burrito size

Soften cream cheese (or not, I never remember, I just beat the heck out of it before I start). Drain olives and jalepenos, mix with cream cheese, then add artichokes and garlic and beat until well blended. Cut about 1" strip of opposite sides of each flour tortilla so you have straight edges to start and end your roll with, then spread about one eighth of the filling on each tortilla and spread evenly. Roll up tight, cut off the ends (great snacks for the mouth breathers hanging around waiting for one to drop on the floor), then wrap each roll in plastic or foil and refrigerate several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, unwrap and cut in 1.5" slices and arrange on plate. You can serve with salsa for dippin' if you like; the original recipe called for no garlic and a 4 oz. jar of pimentos drained and chopped instead of the artichoke hearts - also mui delicioso. Stand back and wait for applause....or at least to tell people they have salsa on their shirt & cream cheese in their mustache (again, not talking about ME.)

*If you're really wimpy, use canned chopped green chilis instead...but I am really wimpy and I do it with half the jalepenos and just swear a lot while eating 'em. Yes, even more than usual.

Enjoy, I'm rollin' off to bed!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day, ya limey bastard!

My niece sent me an email with some rather vintage and VERY hilarious ads from a time when women wore aprons and heels and were perfectly coiffed while cooking and cleaning, and it made me wonder how the hell they did it. I am most comfortable cooking in a ragged t shirt that I don't have to worry about getting stains on (because it already looks like a Jackson Pollack painting), no bra, my disgusting but comfy fuzzy slippers, and hair pulled back with a bandanna to keep my hair outta my make-up free face. And I have really comfortable bar stools, a flat screen TV and a radio/cd player to keep me entertained while I sit at the island and do prep or look through cookbooks - if there was a couch in the kitchen I would only leave when nature called. I clean up after myself (well, most of the time), and the men do the dishes and are all great cooks in their own right, so I feel like I've done my job in moving things up the evolutionary monkeying around here (sorry)!

My dad did not cook much - there were a few things he would help with, chili and spaghetti being the most memorable - I never tire of teasing him about his "chiletti" and "spahili" me they always tasted about the same, you could only tell them apart from the beans in one, pasta in the other. And his hash browns were legendary....nothing has ever beat the memory of Sunday breakfast with those crispy and ever so slightly gummy potatoes. But if you want to make him truly happy, nothing will do it quite like a homemade blackberry pie...with vanilla ice cream. I would give you the recipe, but you're not going to make it....well, maybe if you beg. But here is MY fave (when I tasted this blackberry dropped to #2), and even your DOG could make this one - he/she will just need some help with the whipped cream can 'cause they got no thumbs....

The BEST Key Lime Pie

I've used key limes, regular limes, and the bottled key lime juice...they all work interchangeably.

16 graham crackers (the whole long thing..yeah, that's what SHE said)
3 T. sugar
1 cube (1/2 cup) butter (use it all, you're not making this for your health)

Preheat oven to 350. Crush crackers finely in food processor, blender or in a ziploc not quite closed with a rolling pin, mix in sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom and up sides of 9" pie plate and bake at 350 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Put on rack to cool.

4 large or X large egg yolks
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice

Beat egg yolks until thick and light yellow, add sweetened condensed milk and mix on low, adding half the lime juice until incorporated. Add remaining juice just until blended. Pour into pie shell and bake at 350 for 12 minutes to set the yolk (and make it safe to eat) - it will still be a little jiggly, but what is not so good for your upper arms is GREAT for this pie. Cool completely, refrigerate and serve with whipped cream. Go ahead and put a eensy lime wedge on it or some lime zest if you are going for schmancy...but be prepared to do the Heimlich because they might choke on it while wolfing it down.

Happy Father's Day, dad - get your pie bib on!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I attended a potluck today at work, and someone brought a BIG, lattice-y, apple stuffed pie. The top was slightly browner than I care for, but sanded liberally with superfine sugar (I don't think anyone knew you could get me to eat almost anything if you put sugar on top), but by the time it crossed my semi-consciousness I was already stuffed to the gills with italian. The person who brought it asked if I had tried some of her pie, and I inquired "Homemade?", knowing full well the answer. "Of course!" she replied a little too brightly....then her friend nudged me and said "Yeah, homemade from Costco" and the jig was up.

Most of my friends and acquaintances know that I am a fairly experienced baker, and pies are a specialty. I make no bones about store bought pies and their inferior quality, but I had seen these in the store and wanted to try it, so I scooped out a couple bites worth and gave it my best. I have to say it was pretty darn good - the crust wasn't horrible, the apples were perfectly cooked and had just the right amount of tartness, there was a butt-load of cinnamon and a nice caramelized sugar syrup clinging to the! So from the horses mouth (who you callin' a horse?) - crust=6, filling=10....that's an overall 8! Now I want to try the peach....

So, pie crust. How 4 ingredients can mess with people's heads so much I will never know. I still use Betty's recipe - it's worked for me for 37 years so why change now? I think that when you combine certain ingredients, it's possible they can attain ethereal qualities; with pie crust you just have to learn how not to beat the magic out of it. It's a little about moisture and EVERYTHING about how you handle it - a few tips before you start:

  • You can put the shortening in the fridge, and it will probably help a little - it just buys you more time in the handling part....but I never do.
  • Measuring: always scoop flour with something besides the measuring cup, then shake it into the cup WITHOUT packing it...let it heap up, then scrape the top of flour mountain off with a knife
  • Flour is your friend...keep everything floured, and prepare to make a mess

OK, here ready?

Pie Crust
(sorry, forgot to mention this makes ONE need to double it for a two-crust pie)

1 Cup flour, all purpose
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 Cup + 1 T. shortening

Measure flour as discussed, sprinkle in salt and add shortening. Use pastry blender (looks like a "U" with a handle across the open end, and the bottom of the "U" has 4 blades or wires) or a fork to cut the shortening into the flour, I mash it into slices first, then start "scooping"...pull the pastry cutter towards you through the flour and shortening, turning the bowl as you go and cutting it all into little pieces the size of large crumbs. When it looks mealy, scoop a dent in the center, then start sprinkling the water over the whole thing one T at a time. After 4, toss with a fork and see if it comes together - it should have very little dry flour at this point, but clumps of dryish looking dough. If you can push it around the bowl into a rough lump, that's enough. If it's still too floury, sprinkle another T of water over it and check again, just don't stir or mash the heck out of it.

When it looks good, dump the dough out onto a liberally floured flat surface, and very lightly push it into a ball, then flatten slightly with your hand. Get your rolling pin, and give it a roll over the dough to grease it up, sprinkle flour over the pin and dough and rub it all over the pin with your hand. Flip the dough, tossing more flour in the clean spot underneath, then sprinkle a little more on top. Roll from the center out, turning a 1/4 turn each roll, flipping and flouring as you go. You will need to flour your pin constantly...I keep rolling it in the flour around the dough and rubbing it all over with my hands. Once you get it pretty thin, it's ready to the fun part.

Instead of making a pie, you should start with a few batches of pie crust cookies first...helps you learn to handle the dough. For the cookies, preheat the oven to 450 and assemble the following:

1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. melted butter

Brush or spread the butter over the dough you just rolled out, then sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar. You can cut them with a glass, any kind/shape cutter, or just random shapes with a knife...we always had big rustic chunks when I was a kid. Thin edges will burn, so put them on a cookie sheet with the thinner edges towards the center - but rarely do I ever burn anything so bad SOMEONE won't eat it. Bake in 450 oven for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Try to let it cool off...pie crust burns can only be treated with vanilla ice cream.

I'll talk more about pies later....I need to go make dinner.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Funky Food

How do you start a blog? Dive in to the moment, and at this moment I am thinking about Funky Foods - y'know, those little secrets that everyone has, stuff your Dad told you that he and your Uncle Steve used to eat, or possibly odd creations that somehow stuck when you were ingredient-challenged and just plain hungry. For example:
  • Cheerio Sandwich - When my dad was a kid, his favorite sandwich was white bread spread with butter, then covered with a handful of Cheerios smashed down into the bread and sprinkled liberally with sugar
  • Peanut Butter & Mustard - Just like it says, on white bread, courtesy of Uncle Steve
  • The Boss Lady - I won't say which one, but her fave is a slice of bologna wrapped around a cinnamon roll (REALLY?)
  • Idaho Humpty - Two eggs, over easy and smashed up with a fork mixed with a small baggie of crushed regular potato chips, thank you sister Susie
Regardless of where they come from or whether they even survive a generation, Funky Food is a source of comfort, and usually carries good memories with it, because why would you eat something that reminds you of bad times?

Here's a recipe for a Funky Food that was actually an old family recipe of a former friend of mine - I forget its German name, but the American translation spells it out a bit better.

Cottage Cheese, Noodles and Bacon

  • 1 batch homemade egg noodles or a package of frozen ones
  • 1 lb. bacon, cut in 1/4" slices
  • 1 to 2 cartons of cottage cheese (Knudsen's in the yellow carton is the best if you can find it)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the noodles in a big pot according to directions - al dente or "to the bite", which means don't cook the crap out of them. Use a LOT of water. It helps to disperse the starch and keep them from sticking. Don't put oil in it either, the sauce permeates the pasta better if you don't.
  2. While pasta is cooking, put all that bacon in a big skillet and start frying it, breaking it apart with a bamboo paddle unless you don't have one, in which case just use some other lame utensil. You want to stir it now and then over medium high heat - don't let it get really crispy, it should be soft-cooked with a few crispy edges. Remove bacon from pan when done to stop cooking, reserve bacon fat (yes, you're going to need it....bwwwaaahhaahhaa).
  3. When pasta is ready, drain and dump back into large pot, then dump in bacon, one carton of cottage cheese and toss in a couple pinches of kosher salt and a few healthy grinds of black pepper. If you're still using the pre-ground stuff, go to ANY grocery store and buy a cheapy spice jar with a plastic grinding top on it - everyone knows that pepper is best freshly ground and you have to use a TON of the other junk to get any flavor/heat at all. But I digress. Stir this all up and take a taste - it's good, but missing something, eh?
  4. Yup, you guessed it - start dumping in the hot bacon drippings (if you say it that way it doesn't sound so bad). You can add as little or as much as you want, same goes for cottage's up to you. Adjust the salt/pepper as desired as well, then dish it up and Guten appetit!
Momma Moose

PS - did I mention that this is NOT a politically correct food blog? I do not subscribe to organic, free-range, healthy, vegetarian, vegan, low fat, gourmet, kosher or flexitarian methods, but if one happens to fall into one of those categories so be it.