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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sometimes You've Got to Order Pizza!

Friday night, I'd planned on making tuna salad melts in pita bread. I was unfortunately detained. So, here's the eerie story. About three weeks ago I started getting really freaked out in the car. I could hear a crash. I was very relieved every time I/we got home safely. Even though Connie's a great driver, I got on his case. He finally asked why and I told him I was really concerned about getting hit. Didn't know exactly why but I was worried. I kept hearing a crash but I really didn't want to say that, so I didn't. Friday, I was on my way to a 3:30 appointment and I stopped at a red light. I knew it was a pretty long light, so I immediately picked up my cell phone to call a client whose 90 year-old mom moved that day. She's a client too and I was more than a little worried because the move was tiring her out a bunch. WHAM!!! A gal distracted by a spider smashed into my car. Thank goodness I drive a tank - well, it's an Acura but compared to the Saturn I used to drive, this thing is a tank. Here's what my bumper looks like:

All I can say is that bumper did it's job. I have no broken bones. I am beyond sore but I am so lucky that my injuries are muscular and skeletal instead of broken bones. I called 911 and a crash investigator got a call about an accident at Shadeland and I-70 - as he was getting off I-70 at Shadeland. He was there in seconds. My car was drivable. The other gal's wasn't. I called Connie and he hopped in his car and was on the way. He got there about the time the tow truck did. And, let me mention that because my wonderful husband is a bit ocd about some things, the insurance card and the registration were tucked in the owners manual so all I had to do was open the glove box and pull it out! He followed me to my 3:30 to make sure the bumper wasn't going to fall off the car then took my car on down the street to my auto dealer's body shop. They've got the photos and everything they need for the claim. I'm, of course, am worried about the time I'll spend out of the office getting my back back in working order. And, I'm worried that I'll have a tough time doing all the cooking for our holiday party and will have to spend the money to hire someone for part of it. But, you know what? That's for the insurance companies to hash out. I have no broken bones and am walking under my own power.

So, when Connie got to the accident scene, I told him I'd had a premonition. He doesn't much believe in these things. Most guys don't. Ok fine, was his reaction. Then, when I got home from my 3:30 with pizza in hand, we sat down to inhale dinner. He had to go play bridge in 15 minutes. I mentioned that I wasn't sure I'd told him I'd had a premonition. He said you know that's weird. You did say something. Walking across the parking lot when he got back to the office he'd remembered it. About two weeks ago. He said he didn't remember that til he got back to the office to pick up Annie (our wonderful pooch.) So, now I don't feel quite so weird. But, you probably would enjoy knowing who the 3:30 was with. My massage therapist. I love my massages and they're probably the only bit of decadence I've kept in my life. So, Margi came out and saw my bumper and said wow, we've got some work to do. And, she started in. I'm sure I feel a LOT better right now than I would if not for her. THANK YOU MARGI! You're the best!!!!!!!!! So, that's my story and, yes, we ordered pizza for dinner.  The tuna melts in pita bread will just have to wait!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pizza on the Fly

Monday night was the first time in a week that I've been home for a "normal" dinner.  In fact last week was so busy that my email at work built up to 800 and my Foodbuzz inbox built up to over 1800.  I was out either teaching a Social Security seminar or networking or in a client meeting every evening last week.  Then, I had appointments all day Saturday - including a dinner meeting with some clients who are dear friends.  And, we had the kids here on Sunday.  I absolutely love having David and Kara and the kids within driving distance.  They're wonderful people and I'm very lucky to be related to them!!!

Actually, one of the best evenings out last week was a visit to Chef JJ's Backyard.  We have this cool neighborhood in Indianapolis called Broad Ripple.  When my grandmother was born there in the late 1800's, it was at a bend in the river - White River to be specific.  Then, later, it was known for a wonderful amusement park that is now just a normal park.  The young-un's hang out at the bars and the old fogey's like me hang out at places like the Broad Ripple Brew Pub where John Hill makes incredible beer and his wife, Nancy, runs a wonderful kitchen.  The railroad track has been converted to a greenway trail.  There are fun art galleries and all kinds of other unique shops.  And, best of all, it's about 2 miles from our home.  So, when the invitation came to a Financial Planning Association cocktail party at Chef JJ's, I was there!  Chef JJ cooks everything on his green egg grills.  And, wonderful stuff it is.  Chicken Satay, brie roasted on apple wood, german potato salad.  YUM!  On top of the great food, his "backyard" is on White River.  What a gorgeous setting!!! 

Thanks to my schedule, the normal prep for the next week didn't get done.  That meant that when my last meeting ended Monday, I headed for home knowing I'd not even started dinner...  What to fix on the fly?  A look in the fridge revealed some pasta sauce and some salami that needed to be used up.  And, there were a couple of english muffins that'd be ok until next weekend but would be better used now.  How about pizza?

Pizza on the fly


english muffins (one per person)
pasta sauce or pizza sauce
kalamata olives, chopped
mushrooms, canned chopped
cheddar cheese (we use Cracker Barrel extra sharp)
dried minced onions
worcestershire sauce


Split and toast the english muffin halves. 

While they're toasting, chop the salami and render it. 

Top the toasted muffin halves with some pasta sauce.  Then, add the salami. 

The chopped kalamata olives. 

And, the mushrooms. 

Shred about 6 oz of cheddar cheese

and mix it with some dried minced onions, worcestershire

and enough mayonnaise (mayo NOT salad dressing) to moisten. 

Make patties out of the cheese mixture and put one on top of each muffin.  Broil until the cheese is melted and brown and bubbly. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Smashed Grilled Potatoes

Years ago Mom gave me a wonderful recipe for small red potatoes.  I saw it later in a magazine and they called them volcano potatoes.  Whatever they're called, they're a very easy, delicious way to fix potatoes.  And, since Connie's not a fan of plain potatoes, I'm always careful to fancy them up a bit. 

I thought potatoes would be perfect with the Beer Buttered Pork Tenderloin for Kara's birthday.  Why?  Because the tenderloin had a yummy, cider/beer sauce that'd be perfect on potatoes.  But, alas, I had a pumpkin cheesecake in the oven at 350.  These need to roast at 500.  What to do?  How about a grill basket?  Might work.  After all, the whole theory is to take some of the wonderful soft, fluffy potato and make some interesting crispy edges.  And a grill's pretty wonderful at crispy edges!!

Yes, it did.  Just fine.  In fact, they were so good I made a second batch the next evening!

Smashed Grilled Potatoes

small red potatoes
olive oil
herbs of choice (I used Penzey's Mural of Flavor the first time and a New Orleans mix the 2nd))
grated cheese of choice (I used Romano)

Boil the potatoes until they are soft enough to squish. Put them in a grill basket. 

Squish them (a potato masher works well) then drizzle them well with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs.  Top with a bit of grated cheese.

Put them on the grill right along with the meat.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Have I mentioned that our kids visited on Sunday?  Twice?  Oh, ok, well, I guess you know then that David and Kara and Bradley and Brenna Rose came over to visit on Sunday.  Bradley has a magnificent spirit of adventure and more energy than any pink bunny!  B. Rose is a piece of sunshine in a baby.  She's the happiest little girl I've ever seen.  We had a magnificent time!!! 

Since Saturday was Kara's birthday, a special dessert was called for on Sunday.  In fact, I waited til they got here to decide on Sunday dinner so I could fix something she really likes.  So, I've got to tell you I goofed on brunch.  She doesn't like eggs and I served the crabcakes benedict.  Kara was her normal sweet self and slide the egg quietly over to David's plate.  Note to self, Kara doesn't like eggs.  Kara doesn't like eggs.  So, now I'm counting on all of you to remind me in a year :-)

Late afternoon, I quietly asked David what Kara's favorite dessert is.  Cheesecake.  Awesome.  One of my favorites too.  Pumpkin Cheesecake just fits in with one of those perfect fall days.  It rained a bit, then the sun came out.  The temperature was fine for sitting outdoors.  The trees were still dressed in part of their fall glory.  And, I have a stash of pumpkin you wouldn't believe.  Last year when I found out there was going to be a shortage, I bought about six cans.  Then, about a month ago I saw it at Trader Joe's and bought another six.  Offered three to another blogger who'd been hunting but she evidently found her own...  So, I have about nine cans.  Cheshire Cat GRIN.  And, yes, I'm having fun cooking with it.  Pumpkin is one of my favorite things. 

Quick check of the fridge.  Two packages of lowfat cream cheese.  Darn, most recipes call for three.  But, we'll make do.  Connie used a bit of the pumpkin puree in our pumpkin martinis but most of the can was left.  There was some whipping cream in the fridge.  And, a lot of pecans in the freezer.  Plus, plenty of triple ginger cookies from Trader Joe's for the crust.  We were in business.  I put the cheesecake together and popped it in the oven.  It came out as dinner went to the table.  Argh.  Not enough time to cool completely.  After we ate, the whipped cream went on, followed by the pecans and some caramel sauce.  And, the whipped cream started to slide off.  No time to hunt for birthday candles.  I grabbed a candle from the kitchen table and planted it in the middle and lit it.  Beauty shot- or what will pass for one!  And, Kara come quick and make a wish and blow out the candle.  Everyone got their cheesecake and devoured it.  The leftovers went home with Kara.  Super double bonus.  Except for the fact that John and Mary next door had a Butler University homecoming party and John showed up at our door with four plates of leftovers - two of which were incredibly decadent brownies...  So much for avoiding the calories!!

Pumpkin Cheesecake


for the cheesecake:
2 8 oz packages lowfat cream cheese
3 eggs
3/4 c dark brown sugar
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t ground cinnamon
14 oz can of pumpkin puree

for the crust:
Trader Joe's triple ginger cookies or graham crackers or other ginger cookies
2-4 T butter
1/4 - 1/2 c sugar

for the pecans:
1 c coarsely chopped pecans
2 T shagbark hickory syrup or maple syrup
2 T dark brown sugar
2 t freshly grated nutmeg
2 t ground cinnamon

for the whipped cream:
1 pint whipping cream
2 t apple pie liquer or calvados
1-2 T powdered sugar

caramel sauce (I cheated and used store-bought)

Make the crust and press it into a springform pan. 

To make the crust, melt the butter and mix it with the finely crushed cookies and the sugar.  You can use white sugar, dark brown sugar or light brown sugar.  Whatever you prefer.

Put the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl.  Whip until it's softened.  One at a time, beat the eggs in.  Add the sugar, spices and pumpkin.  Pour onto the crust.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

While the cheesecake is cooling, make the candied pecans.  (Thank you to the Baking Barrister for the great recipe!) 

Toss the pecans with the syrup.  Then with the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Put in an oven proof baking dish and bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes.  Her directions say to bake until you smell a lovely aroma.  I think that's exactly perfect!!!

Make the whipped cream.  In a medium mixing bowl, whip the cream until it's almost stiff.  Add the powdered sugar and liqueur.  Fold in gently then finish whipping.

To assemble, put the cheesecake on a serving platter.  Pipe the whipped cream on the top. 

Sprinkle with the pecans. 

Drizzle with the caramel sauce.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crescent Roll Sticky Buns

When the kids were here last Sunday, I did a bunch of cooking.  For brunch, I had my eye on a new sweet roll recipe.  Problem was that I'd not read it fully and it not only required frozen bread dough, which I didn't have, but it required putting it together the night before.  So much for the new recipe.  Back to old faithful.  Ah, another problem, I couldn't find the recipe.  My recipes are partially in the humongeous recipe box, partially in the card catalogue, partially scanned in, partially in the stacker tray and partially in a stack next to "my" chair.  So, I went online.  No luck there.  This is a recipe I got for crescent roll sticky buns probably 20 years ago.  I've made it a zillion times.  But, I've not made it since we moved into this house in 2006.  It requires a tube pan.  That was nowhere to be found.  Gads, could something else go wrong?  Well, yes, thanks for asking.  The crescent rolls were frozen. 

Ok, so what lessons have we learned here? 
* Read the recipe the day before and make sure you've got all the ingredients on hand.
* Read the recipe the day before to check for any steps that need to be taken that day.
* Check to make sure all necessary equipment is in place and ready to go.
* Get your ingredients at the right stage - thawed, marinated, whatever.

But, here's the good news.  I improvised and they turned out just fine.  In fact, David declared these the best sticky buns he's ever had.  Now, I didn't take photos of them along the way because it was so totally frantic in the kitchen, so you'll just have to imagine a pan full of gooey, caramel goodness covered with pecans.

And, since I don't have a photo of the dish, how about one of the kids?

David and Brenna Rose

Kara and Bradley

Crescent Roll Sticky Buns

2 cans crescent rolls
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 - 3/4 dark brown sugar
1/2 t grated nutmeg
1/2 t ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
1 c coarsely chopped pecans

Cut the crescent rolls into eighth's so you've got 16 disks.  Melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.  Add the pecans.  Grease a tube pan.  Put half of the crescent roll disks in the bottom of the tube pan.  Pour half of the butter/brown sugar/pecan mixture over them.  Put the other crescent roll disks in the pan.  Be sure to place them so they're in between the first set of disks.  Pour the rest of the butter mixture over the disks.  Bake for about 30 minutes at 350.  Serve the rolls while they're very warm.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beer-Buttered Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Beer and Cider

OMG - not only did I get to spend the day Sunday with five of my favorite people, I got to eat this wonderful pork tenderloin.  Yup, you're right, the five people were FAR more important than the meal.  We could've gone to Mickey D's and I'd still have had a great day.  Gads, we could've gone to Arby's and it'd have been a great day :-)  My stepson, David, his wife, Kara and our grandkids, Bradley and Brenna Rose came over from Cincinnati for the day.  David and Kara are amazing parents.  Does every grandparent feel the same way?  And, our grandkids are so wonderful!!  Yeah, I know all grandparents think their grandkids are the best.  Call it Garrison Keillor syndrome and call me guilty.  But, they are :-)

I never wanted my own kids but always said I'd love to have grandkids.  Of course, I really never wanted to get married again...  Then, I met the most wonderful man in the world who makes it SO much fun to be married :-)  Now, I really have the best of both worlds.  I've got a fabulous husband, three great stepsons, a daughter-in-law, a stepson's significant other (so, Mary, what should I call you???) and two fantastic grandkids.  Just about perfect.  That is, until, the other two produce grandkids - no rush there though - lol.

David and Kara came over in time for brunch.  We made crabcakes benedict.  I gave David an extra serving since he was going to be the designated Bradley-feeder. Well, Connie ended up with Bradley and the extra serving.  Bradley didn't eat.  Connie's plate was clean.  Guess he liked brunch :-)  Along with the crabcakes benedict, I grilled some pineapple.  Very easy - cut slices and toss them on the grill.  Get good grill marks on both sides and serve.  The heat caramelizes some of the sugars and the flavor of the pineapple is kicked up.  And, I made crescent roll sticky buns.  David declared them the best sticky buns he'd ever had.  I couldn't find the recipe I'd used for eons so kinda made it up. 

Dinner was the pork tenderloin, grilled potatoes and Melissa's carrots.  Dessert was pumpkin cheesecake.  But, this post is about the pork tenderloin.  The recipe was from my daily Fine Cooking email.  It was supposed to be for a ribeye roast.  I thought it'd be great with steaks.  But, nobody got motivated to head to the store to buy steaks.  It was raining and Grampie was on the screened porch with B. Rose.  Kara was asleep in the living room.  David and Bradley were running around somewhere.  And, I was on the computer working on a couple of financial plans for this week.  Going to the store was not high on a priority list.  I knew there were a couple of pork tenderloins in the freezer.  We'd just see how the recipe worked with them!

So, what did we think?  This was wonderful!!!  I still prefer the bourbon marinated pork tenderloin that I've made forever.  But, this is a close second right along with Annie's Island Spice pork tenderloin.

Beer Buttered Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Beer and Cider



2 1/4 c dark beer
2 onions, diced
1/3 c unslphured molasses
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 T kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1/4 t freshly ground pepper

1 T sweet paprika
1 T dry mustard
1 T ground coriander
1 t kosher salt
1 1/2 t freshly ground pepper

6 T butter
1/2 c apple cider
1 1/2 c dark beer
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c worcestershire sauce


Combine the marinade ingredients. 

It's enough to marinate four pork tenderloins. 

We used half the marinade and poured the other half over two tenderloins still in the freezer.  They'll marinate as they thaw...  Marinate the tenderloins for 2-4 hours in the refrigerator. 

Allow the meat to come to room temperature prior to grilling.

Combine the rub ingredients. 

Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and pat dry.  Rub with the rub ingredients.

Melt the butter for the sauce.  Add the other ingredients and reduce by half.  I added some corn starch to thicken it. 

When the sauce is almost done, grill the pork tenderloins over direct heat.  Remember to remove them 10 degrees prior to your desired temperature as they will continue to cook once they're removed from the heat.  Allow the tenderloins to rest for 10 minutes after removing them from the grill to allow the juices to redestribute.  Slice thinly and serve with the sauce.

adapted from Fine Cooking 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jan's Pumpkin and Tomato Soup

Fall in a bowl.  It's suddenly gone from August to November then back to October.  The leaves on the trees across the street from my office have give us their glorious color show and are starting to fall to the ground.  We wore jackets to the office this morning.  It's time for fall in a bowl. 

Now if you could just help me convince Mr. I'll Wear Shorts in a Blizzard that we need to turn the heat on at the house...  But, maybe if I crawl into bed wearing a hoodie sweatshirt, sweats and socks then cover up with a blanket, bedspread and quilt, he'll get the message that frost on MY nose is NOT a good thing - lol.  Yes, dear, I know you read this and I know we've saved oodles on the electric bill.  But, relying on Gracie the cat to keep me warm at night isn't a good idea.  Ok, so that being said, this soup is wonderfully warming.

The combination may sound really strange to you.  It did to me when I first read the recipe.  It's from a dear friend by the name of Jan.  She's one of the buddies my mom hangs around with.  Is hangs around with good terminology for a group of eighty-something year old ladies?  Well, at any rate, they're a hoot to be around.  Jan's got this great outlook on life that's just amazing.  Don't you love knowing folks like that!  I'm very lucky to have her as a friend also!!

Jan's Pumpkin Tomato Soup


1T butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1-2t curry powder (to taste)
1/4 - 1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg (to taste)
14.5 oz can pumpkin puree
14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
14.5 chicken broth
1/2 c cream - if desired

Saute onion in olive oil until it's softened.  Sitr in the curry powder and nutmeg. 

Stir in the pumpkin.  Drain the stewed tomato liquid into the pot then chop the tomatoes pretty well.  I've made the mistake of just dumping the tomatoes in and have wound up with these big honking pieces of tomato... not a pleasant deal. 

Add the chicken broth and  cook for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. You can either add the cream or not and puree the soup or not. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Grilled Fruit Filled with Cheese

I went through a bunch of photos last weekend and found these...  We've made this for years using blue cheese and honey.  Nesrine shared a version of this recipe on her blog.  It had mascarpone cheese and peaches and balsamic vinegar.  Then, I saw it in a couple of magazines and a cookbook with mascarpone.  So, I decided to try the mascarpone and balsamic.  My guess is that whether you use blue cheese or mascarpone or peaches or pineapple or apples or balsamic vinegar or honey or serve them warm or room temp, you've got a winner.

Grilled Fruit Filled with Cheese

Here's the basic premise:

Take fruit and cut it into a serving (halve the peaches or apples...) and core it

Grill the fruit, cut side down until it's softened and has nice grill marks

While the fruit is still hot, fill the hole with cheese (blue, mascarpone, maybe cream cheese whipped with some shredded cheddar?)

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar or honey.  We had a balsamic vinegar tasting here.

The incredible vanilla fig balsamic from our good friend, Doris, won.

Garnish with an herb (mint, tarragon, basil - something folks can actually nibble on)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lamb Stuffed Peppers

This recipe is from Food and Wine and is supposed to be sausage stuffed peppers.  We didn't have any sausage and I didn't want to wait for a grocery run to start dinner.  The lamb for the lamb stew was browned.  I'd just throw some of that in...

What did we think?  Well, these can't hold a candle to the ratatouille stuffed peppers I did this summer.  If this hadn't been one of the Food and Wine recipes, I'd have not posted about it.  Maybe the sausage really ramps up the flavor???  I don't know and probably won't find out because I won't make the recipe again... 

Lamb Stuffed Peppers

serves four


5 oz bag baby spinach, rinsed and NOT dried
2 slices white sandwich bread, finely chopped
1/4 c milk
1 large egg
2 T freshly grated Romano cheese
2 T pine nuts
2 T chopped red onion
1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed or 1 lb lamb stew meat, chopped and browned
8 small or 4 large Italian frying peppers, halved lengthwise, cored and stems left intact
1/4 c olive oil
1 c canned tomato sauce
1 c chicken stock

Cook the spinach over high heat in a large skillet just until wilted. 

Drain it and press out all the water.  Chop it coarsely and set it aside

Knead the bread with the milk, egg and cheese. 

It'll be a paste when you're all done. 

Add the pine nuts,


lamb or sausage and spinach. 

Mix it gently.  Divide it into quarters and lightly pack it into the pepper halves. 

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.  It should be shimmering before you put the peppers in.  They go in stuffing side down to start with. 

Let that side get good and brown before you turn them. 

Then, once the skin side is good and browned, add the tomato sauce and chicken stock. 

Cover the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes until the filling is cooked through and the peppers are tender.

Adapted from Food and Wine

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This post is part of a series featuring recipes from the FOOD and WINE archive. As a FOOD and WINE Blogger Correspondent, I was chosen to do four recipes a week from FOOD and WINE. I received a subscription to FOOD and WINE for my participation.