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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Deli Breakfast Sandwich

At the office working away and I need a brain break.  It's going to be a brutal week.  A busy week typically has 25 appointments.  This one has 34.  Ouch!  We're making a major change at the office and I need to get signatures on paperwork from about 400 clients.  Another 150 won't have to sign anything at this point - WHEW! 

The good news is that we started the morning with killer breakfast sandwiches.  Our tummies are full and happy.  Food Network Magazine publishes a pull-out booklet each month.  Fifty of something.  I usually scan the list and think, "That's nice," then never get anything made.  This month is different.  50 quick breakfasts.  I'm always on the lookout for a great new breakfast.  Unfortunately a LOT of the recipes were for sweet breakfasts.  I do vanilla yogurt, blueberries and Cheerio's a few times a week because Dr. Don says to eat dark fruits and veggies for my eyes and Dr. George says to eat fiber for my, well, you get it.  That's enough of the sweet breakfasts for me. 

What caught my eye about this recipe was the olive spread.  I had a jar of muffaletta relish that needed to be used.  Great excuse to open it!  And, I had some salami in the freezer that'd been there a couple of months.  Plus, any excuse to buy the Rosemary and Sea Salt Foccacia from Sam's Club is fine with me.  That is our favorite bread.  As much as I try NOT to eat bread, that's the one I'll devour.

What did we think?  A FIVE.  Absolutely.  I'd make this again tomorrow.  Now, nothing will ever replace slices of happiness.  But, this is close.  This will be one of those Sunday breakfasts that we'll talk about on Saturday.  A Saturday trip to Sam's after a day at the office to snag some of the foccacia.  An excuse to keep muffaletta relish on hand.  Perfect!

Deli Breakfast Sandwich


foccacia bread or kaiser rolls
green olive tapenade, spread, relish or muffaletta relish
shredded mozzarella cheese


Split the rolls or cut the bread into sandwich sized servings then cut those in half.  Toast the cut sides of the bread/rolls under the broiler. 

Spread with the green olive tapenade.  Top with the shredded mozzarella. 

Put it back under the broiler until the cheese melts.  While the sandwiches are getting started, cook your eggs. 

One per sandwich.  However you like them - scrambled, over easy, sunny side up...  Once the cheese melts, top one half with slices of salami and mortadella then with your cooked eggs. 

Put the top of the sandwich on and serve.

adapted from Food Network Magazine

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cucumber Salad

Leftovers for lunch again.  More Firefly meatloaf.  And, more cucumber salad.  I was hoping Connie wouldn't realize the salad was pushing five days old.  He really doesn't care for leftovers but eats them because that's whats served to him.

That evening, he says, 'Was that the cucumber salad we had a WEEK ago?"  Why, yes, it was.  (You and I know that's easier than arguing about the number of days something has been hanging around our refrigerators!)  Why?"  Well, he says, it was still very good.  I liked that a lot.  Can we have it again?  Like tonight?

SCORE!  Thank you MomChef!!!  So, my friend Christiane is a fantastic cook.  If you don't already know her, she's one you need to get to know.  I frequently make recipes from her blog.  In fact, if I only had two blogs I could read it'd be hers and That Skinny Chick Can Bake.  Not that I love to bake.  I don't.  I just think Liz is wonderful too.  And, she has some really fantastic NON-baking type recipes.

So, back to the cucumber salad.  Goodness but it was wonderful.  I'm not a huge fan of cucumbers.  We grow them in the garden because Connie loves them.  No, he LOVES them.  Cucumbers and radishes.  The two veggies that absolutely make his heart go pitty-pat.  Most of the time I just munch my way through the cucumbers knowing that I've made the dish because I love Connie - not the cucumbers.  Now, I have my own cucumber dish to love.  Ok, so here's the deal.  If you don't read another blog today, please go read this recipe on Christiane's blog.  Her story about her dad is so heartwarming that you'll probably have a smile on your face the rest of the day like I did!

Christiane's Cucumber Salad


1 1/2 lb cucumbers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/2 c thinly sliced red onion
2 T chopped fresh mint
2 T chopped fresh dill (dried will do in a pinch)
2 T red wine vinegar
1 t chopped fresh oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese


Chop the cucumbers in 1/2" chunks.  Quarter the red onions before thinly slicing them.  Toss the salad ingredients together. 

adapted from Taking On Magazines One Recipe at a Time, originally from Fine Cooking

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Firefly Meatloaf

Ahhh, Saturday.  Two appointments at the office.  A calling for a friend's dad.  Then, home to change clothes and off to the grocery for the first time in about a month...  I should've gone back to the office.  But, every recipe I looked at called for something I didn't have. Plus Connie was out of his pretzel crisps. 
I typically do my menu planning in the car.  Carte du Jour - one of the cookbooks published by Royal Caribbean - had gone in the car with me on the way to pick Mom up to take her to the calling.  I'd gotten some great ideas and mapped out some potential dinners.  But, I wasn't totally ready.  Then, on the way to the grocery, we stopped at Tuesday Morning.  Our salad spinner died.  Our blender and mandoline are on their last legs.  It was time to try and replace all of them.  Did you know Tuesday Morning carries cookbooks?  Sometimes it's the same collection forever.  Sometimes they get some great new ones in.  You've just got to stop in a couple of times a year - or more :-)  This trip I found one from Niman Ranch.  They're the meat folks.  Most of the book is the Niman Ranch story.  But the back third is recipes.  Almost all of which I'd like to try. 

The recipe that first caught my eye is Firefly Meatloaf.  It's from Firefly restaurant in San Francisco.   Since Connie plays bridge on Monday evenings, dinner that night is either ultra quick or he's going to have to hit the dollar menu at Mickey D's.  Meatloaf would be the perfect reheatable dinner to get him fed and out the door on time.  So I could start my lovely evening of quietly catching up on a bunch of things at the office - all from the comfort of my home.

What did we think?  This was very good.  It wasn't as good as my mom's, but then when is ANY meatloaf as good as Mom's?  Same goes for chocolate chip cookies.  Well, unless your mom wasn't a great cook.  Then, I might understand.  But, my mom is a fantastic cook!  So, this is something we'd make again but probably won't because there are just so daggone many wonderful recipes out there to be tried.

Firefly Meatloaf


2 1/4 lbs ground beef
2 T olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 yellow onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 1/4 c dried bread crumbs
1 c milk
2 large eggs
1/3  ketchup
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T kosher salt
1 t ground black pepper
1 t Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t celery seeds
pinch ground allspice
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
6 slices apple wood smoked bacon


This is made in three parts. First, you want to soak the bread crumbs in the milk.  They should soak for at least ten minutes so all of the milk is absorbed. 

While that's soaking, you want to saute the onion and celery until they're tender. 

Add the garlic at the last minute so it doesn't burn and become bitter.  The third part is whisking together the seasonings and the eggs.  Once that's all done, mix it all up.  You're better off using your hands with this.  Form the mixture into a loaf on a rimmed baking sheet.  Wrap the loaf with the bacon and bake it at 350F for about an hour.

adapted from Niman Ranch Cookbook

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Back Home Again

Well, this is one that didn't get posted...  Something about all the traveling, big projects at the office, moving Mom, on top of the normal life stuff like work and laundry and yard and cleaning the house.  (You notice how the house cleaning is last?  Yup.)  Well, the potatoes I mention here are so fantastic that I'm going to go ahead and post this late...

After spending the morning traveling back from Boston/Cape Cod then spending five hours in the office the last thing either of us wanted to do was go to the grocery.  Not only that but my freezers are in desperate need of purging.  I know there are some really antique things that need to be tossed.  And, lots of things that need to be used up.  Two little steaks caught my eye. 

I'd trimmed asparagus and stood it in a bowl of water before we left hoping that it'd be fine for dinner the night we got home.  It was.  The grape tomatoes were still fine.  And, some potatoes needed to be used up before they went to seed.  Altogether it sounded like the makiings for a lovely dinner.

My friend Liz (That Skinny Chick Can Bake) gave me a couple of bags of fun seasonings from Artisano's.  One was a bag of onion sugar.  I've used it on different dishes but never on the one specifically mentioned on the bag - asparagus on the grill.  Perfect.

We debated different preparations for the potatoes.  No milk so unless I made mashed potatoes with sour cream those were out  I'm not a fan of plain baked potatoes.  Too dry and boring.  So, I wondered how regular russet potatoes would work as smashed potatoes.  Like you'd do with baby reds?  My motto is pretty much What's the worst that could happen?  They'd be horrible and we'd toss them and I'd open a can of Bush's Grilling Beans.  Not a big deal.

What did we think?  The sugar caramelized on the asparagus was fantastic.  The potatoes were out of this world.  I was a bit worried when I smashed them on the grilling tray and they rather disintegrated.  But, I went on ahead and drizzled them with olive oil then added some merlot salt (Thank you Liz!) pepper, chives, parsley and rosemary.  After they'd been on the grill on medium heat for about 10 minutes I flipped them with a spatula and drizzled them with more olive oil.  They turned out to be crunchy outside and melt in your mouth soft on the inside.  The herbs added great layers of flavor.

Here's how dinner looked along the way:

Pasta with Corn

During the summer months we eat a lot of vegetarian meals.  Typically, they don't hit the blog because they're repeats.  Eggplant involtini is one of our favorites.  If our eggplant plants would ever produce fruit we'd dig in on that.  Unfortunately, Indianapolis is in the midst of a severe drought.  Worst here for 136 years.  You know how crunchy your grass sometimes gets by the end of August?  We were there by the end of June.  Right now we're under a mandatory watering ban.  Trees less than five years old and vegetables are exempt.  You're supposed to water them by hand so as to not waste water.  Connie's installed drip hoses in the garden beds.  They're helping but our plants are still WAY behind.  It's probably because we set the timer and water as little as possible to keep everything alive.

Sunday after we got back from Cape Cod and Boston we went into the office.  I was facing a veritable mountain of work.  That meant that the recipes that graced my inbox from Epicurious, Cuisine at Home, Fine Cooking, Food and Wine, Food Network, etc. should have all immediately gone into their respective folders without being opened.  But, I was intrigued with one from Food Network.  Papperdelle with Corn.  That just sounded good. 

Monday evening we were home and I didn't particularly want pasta. Tuesday I was supposed to teach Social Security class but had a bad belly so came home and landed on the couch.  My sweet hubby fixed fritattas.  Wednesday we met Diane and Darrell for dinner.  That meant that Thursday was the perfect time to fix this.  We had a bottle of a fun white wine from our friends Lauren and Bob that we'd been saving for the right meal.  This was perfect. 

What did we think?  I made this with angel hair because that's Connie's favorite kind of pasta.  The flavor was fantastic. But, the pasta needed to have a bit more bite.  Fettucine is the smallest pasta I'd recommend here.  Otherwise, I used corn that we'd already cooked so that cut down considerably on the amount of butter necessary...

Pasta with Corn


2 ears corn, cooked and kernels cut off
2 T butter
3 c grape tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c white wine
12 oz pasta
1/2 c chicken stock
1 small bunch scallions, sliced or one leek, sliced, cleaned and crisped
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan or romano
basil leaves


Melt the butter in large skillet.  Add the tomatoes, 1 t of salt and the pepper. 

Cook until the tomatoes are very soft.  That'll take 4-5 minutes.  When they're about done, add the garlic.  Don't add it too early.  Next, add the wine.  Cook until it's reduced by half.  While the wine is reducing, cook the pasta.  (Note:  The original recipe actually calls for reserving the water you cook the corn in to cook the pasta in.  My corn was already cooked so that wasn't an option for me.  Then, the original recipe wants you to reserve a cup of the corn water for the pasta sauce.  I just used a bit of additional chicken stock until I had the consistency I wanted. )  Add the chicken stock and the corn kernels to the tomato mixture. 

Once the pasta is almost done, drain it and toss it with the tomato mixture along with a handful of parmesan.  Here the original recipe wanted me to add another three tablesppons of butter. If you want and your cholesterol allows, have at it :-)  Top with the crisped leeks (thinly sliced, rinsed,

dried and crisped in a small skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil,) more parmesan and some basil leaves.

Adapted from originally from Food Network Magazine

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Boston and Cape Cod

Home from the cruise on July 1st.  Unpack.  Do some laundry.  Dig through 800 new emails and a ton of tasks.  Work all day on July 4th.  Fly to Boston on July 5th.  Fly back on July 8th.  Head to the house to pick up the doggie woggie.  Head to the office.  Dig through 300 new emails.  Finish getting ready for next week.  Watch a few drops of rain fall.  YAY!  Well, maybe just yay...  Indy is in the midst of a severe drought and a few drops will just evaporate...  Oh, well.  So, that's what's been going on in my life.  Whew!

This time I did take a few food photos...  But, I also took a LOT of other fun photos.  So, please come along and enjoy the ride...

Off to Boston.  

Here's Connie in front of our hotel. 

He was getting psyched to play tour guide for the five of us.  Nothing like a native as a tour guide.  We walked part of the Freedom Trail and thoroughly enjoyed taking in all the history.  See the red bricks? 

They're the way the Freedom Trail is marked. 

First up was King's Chapel. 

Then, we saw the original location of the first public school in North America (Boston Latin - founded in 1635 - Connie's an alum,) then Faneuil Hall,

then the location of the Boston Massacre,

the old state house

the Custom House...

Don't you love the juxtaposition of the old and new?

Then on to Long Wharf

walking until our feet were totally worn out and we were all ready for a shower before dinner.

Talk about amazing showers.  Can you believe this?

Friday, it was time to buckle down and work.  Can you imagine trying to concentrate when you've got this view?

 Yes, that's North Church's steeple poking up in the photo.  Just so much history.

Friday evening it was time for dinner in the North End with 14 of Connie's relatives.  Can you spot his sister?

Yeah, I know.  They look like twins.  The other lovely ladies in the photo are his cousin Kathleen and his Aunt Kay.  I wish Aunt Kay and my mother could meet each other.  They are so much alike.  No wonder I'm so crazy about her - she reminds me of my Mom!

Here's cousin Geri with me

After dinner a drive to Cape Cod to Barbara's Cape house.   Arrival time?  1 am.  Straight to bed.  Up way to early to hit the computer and work.  Connie finally woke up and found me deep in thought

About 9:00 we headed to The Celtic Kitchen.  The line was HUGE.  The touristas have invaded Cape Cod, I griped.  Connie burst out laughing and reminded me I'm one of them!  Yeah, but I visit all times of year!!!

Fine, off to 6A and west to Sandwich.  We knew there was a diner in Barnstable but didn't know it'd changed hands and was now fantastic.  Lucky us.  Breakfast at the Blue Plate Diner.  Actually, clam chowder on the way back too.  Clam chowder that should win awards.  I just finished dinner prior to typing this and my mouth is STILL watering! 

Finally, at our destination.  Remember, please, we live in Indianapolis.  Home of Eli Lilly.  Major pharmaceutical company.  The Lilly's are huge around here.  Turns out Joseph Lilly permanently relocated from Indy to Cape Cod.  Sandwich to be specific.  Kind of what I plan on doing when we retire.  I do love Cape Cod.  He bought 70+ acres and called it Heritage Plantation.  He donated it and now it's a museum.  Incredible grounds and some fun museums.  Antique cars.  Americana.  And, during our visit, a retrospective of Norman Rockwell's photographs.  Photos???  Yes, photos.  That's how he got the fantastic detail in his paintings.  He had MANY photos taken then had them cast on a screen.  From that he made sketches.  Often, he combined different elements.  There was one showing four or five photos, sketches etc of different faces for one painting.  We had no clue this was going to be there.  Talk about a super double bonus.  No photography was allowed or you'd be able to see what I'm talking about.  In addition to the Rockwell retrospective there was an antique car show.  Not my bag but a bit interesting nonetheless.

Oh, and the gates.  Whimsical gates.  I want one of these

And along the way what we really came for:  daylilies. 

And hydrangeas.  Can you believe the size of those???  Yup, those are Connie's sunglasses.

Along the way we walked the path on Swamee Lake and enjoyed seeing the swans. 

We tried out the vibraphones in the kids exploration area.  Yes, I know we're a bit older than kids.  Does that make a big difference???

And, I can't forget the water.  Connie manages to stick his hand in water.  Fountains.  Waterfalls.  About the only water source he misses sticking his hand in is a drinking fountain.  That is a normal drinking fountain.  If it's a bit funky?  He's there!

Are you tired yet?  We sure were.  Yet, the day was only half over.  And, the great food was yet to come. 

It was time to head to Greg and Mary's.  Greg is Connie's middle son.  Mary is his girlfriend.  Wonderful kids. 

Grilled lobster.  Do you love lobster as much as I do?  Well, I thought the stuff couldn't be improved upon.  Steam it, dump it in some clarified butter, inhale.  No more.  I'm off to Epicurious and the Grilled Lobster with Tarragon Butter.  Did I take photos?  Nope.  By that time I was exhausted.  My camera was stashed and I was too busy cooking to hunt.

We had our new favorite appetizers - onion biscuits.  Followed by salad, corn on the cob, grilled zucchini and the grilled lobster.  YUM.  Oh, I can't forget the berrylicious pie from Crow Farms.  With vanilla bean ice cream.  Yeah, it was a fantastic dinner. 

Now, it's back to reality.  And, yes, I did miss my furry kids.  And, I'm ready to be back in the office.  And, cooking in my own kitchen. 

Monday, July 2, 2012


Aren't vacations lovely? The only problem is that you work your fanny off to be out of the office then on your return you're greeted by a mountain of email, phone messages and mail... So, if you've been wondering where in the world I was, that's the answer. Getting ready to go on vacation. Then, a week on the Freedom of the Seas with my family. Twelve of us. And, yes, we had an incredible time! Here's a look at our cruise...
Eldest brother, John P, met us at our hotel in Orlando.  He's on the right with other brother John - John M and Mom in the middle.
Set sail!  Good thing Connie packed our jackets!!!

We were hoping the rest of the cruise didn't look like this...

Ah, back from dinner the first night to find a towel pet.  Thanks Errol!!

 When the dining room is a LONG walk away, one gets creative.  Above you see the hot coffee cup being used to warm butter and below you see Connie using the non-business end of his fork to eat his yogurt.

Approaching Haiti - and Royal Caribbean's "private island," Labadee.

There's Labadee.  We actually got off the ship and found beach chairs under an almond tree.  RC has done a magnificent job of sprucing up their part of the island.

 Our favorite artwork on board was actually at the end of our corridor.  Overall, we were very disappointed with the artwork.  RC typically has wonderful things on display.  But, not on Freedom of the Seas.  The cranks work to move the cat and the elephant up and down.

This is as close as we got to land from the time we left Labadee until we arrived back in Cape Canaveral.  We're not shoppers and didn't sign up for any shore excursions and I had a huge project to work on for the office.  The good news was that I could look up from my laptop and see the ocean!

There was a LOT to do on board.  This is the miniature golf course.  We won't discuss how many strokes I lost by.  Suffice to say it was ugly.

Here's the H2O zone.  It's designed for kids.  The big kids put their suits on and ran through the water and had a grand time.

Yup.  You're right.  That's Connie on a boogie board on the flow rider.  He had a fantastic time!

Our favorite hangout on the ship.  The wine bar.  Shocking, I know.

We were all dressed up for the island dinner.  Prior to dinner there was a wine-tasting.  We took my nephew, Tom, niece, Samantha and her hubby, Chris.  They all learned a LOT.  We did too. 

One of the things Singh stressed was that wine is best with food.  At each wine tasting we had a lovely plate of food to enjoy with the wine.  He had us try foods that went well and some that didn't do so well.  His tips on what to drink with what and how the flavors vary were fantastic.

Our first tasting was moderately priced wines.  The second was dessert wines and ports.  And, the third was more high-end wines.  Here you have a sauvignon blanc, two chardonnays and two cabernet sauvignons from our first tasting.

Singh - not his real name but he said it's easier for folks to remember.  This man has forgotten more about wine that most people know.  I only wish he was here in Indy.  No, I take that back.  I'd be at a wine tasting every week and that'd be too expensive!

The food plate for our last tasting.

Our last tasting.  An unoaked Chardonnay, an oaked Chardonnay (both from Mer Soleil,) a Pinot Noir from La Crema (we LOVE that wine!!) and two Cabernet Sauvignons.

Rafael doing the last tasting.  Another guy who's forgotten more than most folks know about wine.

I finally got smart and started taking notes...

My niece and her hubby brought his daughter, Brooke, along.   We got to babysit for her one evening.  I discovered that she loves the hunt for the hidden items game called GardenScapes.  We spent a LOT of time playing that.  My sister-in-law, Pam, is downloading it so she can play it with Brooke.

We asked Errol to unlock the sliders between all of our balconies.  It was rather like being back in the sorority house except for the fact that there were guys who could see in your sliding glass door!  We all just wandered back and forth.

Freedom of the Seas has two fantastic hot tubs cantilevered 11 decks above the water.  FUN!

You knew I'd get around to the food, didn't you?  It was fabulous.  How they serve the number of meals they serve and have such great food is beyond me.  Here's Chef Eric, the executive chef on the ship.  If you bought one of their cookbooks, you got a galley tour.  I bought both and would highly recommed them to anyone.  We had many of the dishes in the cookbook.  Some of our favorites were a smoked fish tapenade, a braised lamb shank and a mahi-mahi tempura.

Here's a photo of the galley.  It was HUGE! 

Just one of the fruit/vegetable carvings.  Amazing.

Our waitress, Coleen.  She was the best we've ever had.  By the end of the first evening she knew all of our first names.  Not only did we change seats at the table every night and she still knew our names but when she saw us at breakfast or lunch in the Windjammer Cafe she knew our names.  Her hubby is a photographer on the ship.  They've been doing this for seven years and want to do three more then retire to the Philippines and start a small business.  She could work at any restaurant in the world and put the waiters/waitresses to shame!

So, that's the tour.  Now, I'm back to cooking...  But, first, it's off to the grocery store or dinner will be cheese and crackers