Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sauerkraut Salad...who knew?

We have a party for a friend on Friday and the theme is German food.  Brenda is making her German Chocolate cake and we are bringing a blast from our Amana past...Sauerkraut salad.

Now if you have ever eaten family style in the Amana Colonies, they bring out a ton of food. The first course is usually this Kraut Salad, cottage cheese and pickled ham. It brings back so many fond memories of eating there while we worked the shop when the kids were little.

Sauerkraut Salad

1 Quart of Sauerkraut, drained
1 cup sugar (I used less)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 Red bell pepper diced
1/2 c Salad oil (I used less)

Mix all together and let sit overnight in the fridge. I promise you will love this even if you don't care for kraut.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Grilled Swordfish and Comfort Foods

Still cooking. Some classic lasagna in a non traditional way. I have posted this recipe for Skillet Lasagna before but have since beefed up the flavor profile adding a few key ingredients but still a one pan, easy meal. Cheesy and hearty and makes great leftovers.

I added fennel to the ground beef with some red pepper flakes then bought diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano to round out the sauce a bit. Crushed tomatoes would be better if your not into large chunks of tomato.

Tonight I bought more salmon and swordfish at the market. Brenda chose swordfish so I grilled it again with some hickory chips in a fish basket. It came our great sided with roasted Brussels sprouts. Just a kiss of smoke but still moist and flaky.

Skillet Lasagna from Cook's Country Magazine


1(28-ounce) can diced tomatoes  (Use the Basil, Garlic,  Oregano stuff )               
1tablespoon olive oil
1medium onion, minced
Table salt
3medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 tsp crushed Fennel, 1 tbl Italian seasoning          
1pound meatloaf mix (or just ground beef or Italian sausage)  
10curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths
1(8-ounce) can tomato sauce
½cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 additional tablespoons                
Ground black pepper
1carton  ricotta cheese (see below for prep)  
3tablespoons chopped fresh basil
 I added a package of mozzarella to top also.

Brown the beef and onions, adding the garlic towards the end with the red pepper and fennel and about 1 Tbl Italian seasoning.

Drain then add the broken Lasagna noodles on top. Pour the tomato products in to a measure and make sure to add enough water to make 1 quart. Pour this over the noodles. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes till the noodles are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Prepare the ricotta by adding 1 tbl olive oil, 1 tsp garlic salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust.  Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Once the noodles are soft, drop the ricotta on top by the spoonful and then cover with the Mozzarella. At this point you can cover and simmer till the cheese melts or place the pan in a hot over (350) till the cheese starts to brown. Top with fresh basil and remaining Parmesan and serve.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hello, Old Friend...

We made this salad so much we retired it for a bit but I ressurected it tonight for a nice fasting meal.

So fresh and tasty using a few avocados, some boiled shrimp, limes and cilantro with crisoy croutons. The xressing is just a bit of sugar, some good olive oiland salt and pepper.  Yum!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mister Cellophane

So I am recovering from some surgery and was already pretty much already feeling a bit sorry for myself.  I should have stayed home but...

Saturday was my 45th Class Reunion from South High School class of 1972 and I had made kind of a deal out of it to my friend and fellow classmate, Joe Calabro with whom I became acquainted with through his wife, Sue,  well after we graduated as I did not know him personally in high school.

Sue and I are nurses and she was in charge of the unit where I spent a few days after my heart attack in 1998. She and I also share a few mutual friends.

So after 45 years, I am not sure what to expect. I  was not recognized by any of the class but for one person and that's because we share a common bond in the health field also. 

Joe was popular guy and a lot of folks came over to say hello and reminisce. After a bit he started introducing me as part of the class only to be met with blank looks and cursory greetings. No clue. Was I even there? Who was I in high school? I am not sure I want to know.

The deal was, I knew them all. I knew their younger faces and recognized their aging selves. I remember incidents and conversations but apparently I did not make much of an impression, good or bad.

Part of this was my stature in high school. I was a very small fellow and did not have a growth spurt till college. I was young, one of the youngest in the class,  and I spent a lot of time silent, observing and avoiding confrontation, keeping the lowest profile possible. Full self preservation mode.  Not much of a joiner and was not part of any specific group. I had no particular memorable features or skills. Just an average guy in a class of 600 plus kids.

I was Mr. Cellophane and apparently still am...I was invisible and unrecognized and after 45 years, just no one in particular.

It was unsettling.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Roasted Buffalo Shrimp with Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese

Something new. New flavors but easy fix for a weeknight. Creamy blue cheese macaroni paired with  spicy roasted shrimps. Yum.

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
5 cloves garlic minced
4 bay leaves crushed
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce
Juice of one lemon
1 t oregano
1 t celery seed
1 t paprika
1 T Worcestshire sauce
1/4 t liquid smoke
1/4 cup butter

4 oz blue cheese
2 oz cream cheese
2 slices processed Swiss
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
8 ounces elbow macaroni

 preheat oven 425
Combine butter, hot sauce, Worcestshire, celery seed, oregano, paprika and liquid smoke in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat a large skillet with cooking spray and add garlic and crushed bay leaves. Cook till garlic gets some color then add shrimp. Toss for 2-3 minutes then add sauce and coat. Place pan in hot oven 7-10 minutes till shrimp are firm and cooked through

Cook pasta and drain. Return pan to heat and add 1/2 &1/2 and cheeses. Heat till cheeses are melted and sauce thickens.

Serve with shrimps on the side.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Eating Omaha...Charred

We have driven past this place a lot so now its time to try something in the neighborhood. Charred is a burger joint with table service and great burgers at least what we sampled.

The menu features several flavors of burgers and all the fixings using Wagyu beef. So good! And the prices are reasonable. We  started with and order of wings, Buffallo, but there were several flavors to choose from. Not the greatest wings I have had honestly. Just missing something I would have had to fuss with them to make them taste better. 
Brenda ordered a Rooster Chicken sandwich with a Bleu cheese and radish, cucumber slaw finished with a Sriacha Aioli. Tasty. I had a burger with Bleu cheese and caramelized onions. Fries were shared between the two of us and there were plenty.  Not bad prices and fast, attentive service. 2 thumbs up!

Grilling with Weber

Normally I am a gas grill guy. Never fussed with charcoal much but when Mom passed she left 2 Weber Kettles, I took the smaller one and left the other for Ellen.  I started small, some ribs, a little brined chicken and a few burgers. Lamb sliders were a hit for Nick's birthday so I expanded the repertoire. Last week I found swordfish on sale and I had a nice grill basket. I treated the fish steaks to a quick marinade of olive oil and lemon juice with a bit of garlic then out to a hot grill for about 12 minutes total. So tasty.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Chowder after Maine

Before we left for Maine, I bought some white sweet corn but had no time to prepare it. When we came home it was a week old but still ok so I cut it from the cob and used the cobs to make a little chowder base.

I was in a cooking mood and had some large shrimps to add a bit of flavor overall. So here is what I did

5 cobs of corn cut from cob, cobs reserved
1 shallot minced
1 clove garlic minced
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 pound raw shrimp, shells removed and reserved
1 onion whole unpeeled
1 carrot rough chop
2 stalks celery rough chop
1 tsp thyme
1/2 cup heavy cream 
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the naked cobs in a pot with the shrimp shells onion, celery, carrots and thyme. Cover with water and simmer till veggies are tender about 40 minutes. strain and reserve the liquid as this is your base for the chowder. Discard the veggies.

In a fresh pot melt the butter and saute the garlic and shallot. Add the flour and cook a minute then add back the broth (should be about 5-6 cups). 
The soup will thicken a bit. If you want it to have more body, and flour or Wondra to thicken it up.  Add salt and pepper to taste and verify your seasoning. Bring to a slow boil and add 1/2 the raw corn. Allow the corn to cook and then run the imersion blender through to make a creamy soup. Now add the rest of the corn and the shrimps(chopped if they are too large) and allow the shrimp to cook through. Finally, add the cream and serve it up.

The Birthday Boy...

Nick and the rest of the family came to celebrate his birthday, the last few weeks before he starts his new job. He is a big fan of Wheatfield's Strawberry Wedding Cake but I found this recipe on Pintrest to make with a triple berry filling and Marscapone and cream frosting. As Ina says, 'How bad can that be?'. It was a light moist vanilla cake and the filling was just great. Easy to make but tough to keep it from sliding all over!

Check out the recipe on  Berry Marscapone Layer Cake.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Sweet Little Maine Trip

My intentions were honorable but my planning was poor. We headed to Maine to sample the local culture and abundance of seafood. We wasted some time trying to figure out what to do but sometimes there was just nothing to do. We spent a lot of time driving, saw some sights, ate some of the local cuisine ( turns out the 'lobster roll' is a bit over rated.)

We tried to hit the high points, followed advice of friends and locals. Some things panned out like the Lighthouse tour by boat, some things did not like a visit to Peaks Island. Not much to do there but we walked 17k steps that day as we did not 'reserve' a golf cart for the visit (who knew?)  and when one became available, we were ready to go back to the mainland, exhausted. Our average activity was about 15k per day so none of our heavy eating habits really took hold of our waistline.

The highlights of the tour were the lighthouses and the lobsters for sure. We sampled some local brew and distilleries. Met some family for dinner and lots of locals eager to share tales of their great state. The kindness of strangers was evident almost everywhere we went. A lovely lady loaned Brenda her L.L.Bean jacket on a chilly lighthouse cruise, and people were generally friendly and accommodating. It was cool, very cool, some days just hitting above 60 and one day finally getting to 80. We welcomed the cool weather and while I was comfortable, Brenda was uncomfortable at times. Dressing in layers was key.

We drove a lot probably close to 700 miles over the course of a few days. Never made it as far as Bar Harbor but we felt like we spent a lot of time in the car. The coastal highway was kind of a bust as it showed little of the coast and slowed down a lot though all the little port towns. All in all, if I did it again, I would spend less days or perhaps fly into Bangor which is more centrally located.

We loved the botanical gardens at Booth Bay and hiked some trails on the warmest day there. 
We ate at a lot of wharf based diners stacked with lobster traps and lobster boats loading and unloading.

We loved all the lighthouses and craggy rocks and marveled at the expensive coastal homes. 

All in all we had a great time, learned a few lessons about vacationing in the states and planning ahead. The star of he show was the lobster. I vowed to eat one everyday and pretty much ate 2 all but one day. Mission accomplished. 


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