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Monday, February 27, 2012

Spaghetti octopuses (octopodes?)

I have suddenly seen pictures of these all over the interwebs, and I had to try.  I've seen a few variations and few notes about problems, and this is what I did.

First of all, I've heard people complain that the spaghetti gets mushy.  I cooked mine on slightly under a rolling boil and used regular thickness spaghetti.  I also broke the spaghetti strands in half before putting them in the sausage, so we didn't have crazy-long strands to deal with. 

I've seen complaints that the spaghetti didn't cook fully inside the sausage.  I used regular thickness spaghetti (nothing thicker) and used warm baked Italian sausages rather than chilled pre-cooked knockwurst or hot dogs.  I also prepped the octopuses ahead by several hours and gave the pasta a little headstart on softening. 

The delight of doing this?  More independent toddler/preschooler delivery of pasta to mouth...observe:

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Prep-ahead Plan for Salad Nicoise

I love, love, love salad nicoise with all its little components...marinated olives, hard-boiled eggs, steamed green beans, boiled new potatoes, roasted fish and citrusy-garlicky vinaigrette...but it's kind of a pain to make from Step Zero.  That is, if you have to make each of those individual components just for the salad, that's a lot of steps and a lot of work. 

Despite the hoity reputation of French cuisine, I think most French dishes originated with busy housewives who had more pressing things to do than sit around pitting gourmet olives, shelling hard-boiled eggs and quartering green beans lengthwise each day for dinner.  I'll bet the first Nicoise woman to make this salad had a bunch of stuff leftover from other meals, and put it all together for dinner before it got barmy.

I think the best way to make this is to plan ahead and make extras of the things you'll need for the salad as meal components the day or two before...if you want to serve salad nicoise on Wednesday, boil eggs for snacks and breakfast on Sunday and set aside 3; serve boiled potatoes with dinner on Monday, and fish/steamed green beans on Tuesday and make make twice as much to set aside half for the salad; and on Wednesday make vinaigrette and wash lettuce.  Easy-peasy.

The traditional components of salad nicoise happen to show up at a lot of holiday meals, too...olives from the relish tray, deviled eggs (they're basically hard boiled eggs with a little mayo), green beans and baked or boiled potatoes as side dishes.  Why not throw those leftovers together to make a salad nicoise, holiday-leftover-style?  With Easter coming in just over a month, I'm keeping this idea on the back burner.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Giveaway winner!

Oops!  I posted the winner on Facebook and forgot to post it here!  The winner was entry #17...Penny R.!  Congratulations!  Pin It

Coca-Cola BBQ Chicken

A little more than ten years ago, my then-boyfriend and I decided it was time to get married.  I was still a grad student, anticipating graduation.  I had little interest, less money and even less time to spend on cooking real food.  But I decided that I should do something very old-fashioned...learn to cook for my future husband.  And I started collecting recipes. 

This is one of the first recipes I harvested, scrawled down frantically in real time while watching a cooking demonstration on a Nashville talk show (did anybody else ever see Crook & Chase?)  It wasn't all that long ago, but informatically it seems like the Dark Ages, or at least the early Enlightment, when recipes featured on morning talk programs weren't available instantly on the show's website.

I can't say now how closely the recipe I still have in my 3-ring binder replicates the original recipe, but it's still a good 'un.  Use a low or zero calorie soda, if you prefer.  Even though we don't keep soda routinely in the pantry any more, I still make this occasionally with a single bottle bought from the impulse aisle at the grocery store. 

I think this recipe would also do well in the crockpot, but I've never *actually* tried it that way.  I'd probably skin the chicken and skip the browning...or maybe not LOL  I'm going to do up some freezer kits this weekend b/c, duh-duh-da-duh! I'm going back to work after 3 years of full-time SAHM-itude, and I'll try this one as a crockpot kit and post results.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Roast turkey breast three ways

My grocery had those 3 lb. boneless turkey breast roasts on sale this week. We're far enough away from Thanksgiving that I can safely put turkey on the dinner rotation without protest LOL Turkey makes an interesting change-up from chicken, is leaner than beef and this week was cheaper than pork. A 3 lb. roast is a lot o' turkey for 4 people though, so I'm roasting it once and making 3 meals out of it. Observe and be amazed :D

1st: Roasted turkey with rosemary-orange sauce and mashed mixed root vegetables (both recipes adapted from the 28 Day Diabetic Meal Plan available from 28daymealplan.diabeticonnect.com...you have to register with them to get it, but it's worthwhile!  Lots of good recipes in this one!)
Turkey Tequila Fettucine with broccoli rabe

2nd: Turkey Tequila Fettucine (adapted from Guy Fieri's recipe )

3rd: Turkey Royale sandwiches

Meals #1 and #2 are prep-aheadable (and #1 is freezer kit-able too!).  Meal #3 is a quick and easy no-prep meal.  Tequila is optional for meal #2...substitute white wine, vermouth, sherry, chicken stock or orange juice if you wish.  The flavors in Meal #3 seem weird but are Ah.May.Zing together...don't count this one out just because it looks unusual!

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

First Anniversary Giveaway!

I have a one year old...blog, that is!  A year ago, I had an idea and too much free time.  Here we are 365 days and 200+ posts later.  I was afraid I would have run out of recipes and things to say by now...clearly I should not have been worried LOL

To celebrate, I am giving away a copy of Fresh From the Farmer's Market by Gwenn McKee, Terresa Ray and Barbara Moseley.  I've got easily a couple dozen recipes marked to try in my copy including things like Chocolate Strawberry Cooler, Cucumber Spread with Lemon Thyme, Champagne Oyster and Corn Soup, Brown Rice Pilaf with Kiwi, Chicken Waikiki and Glazed Fresh Apple Cookies. 

To enter, fill out the form below after completing a few entry requirements.  You can have up to 8 entries.  The winning entry will be selected by random.org on Monday, February 6, 2012.  The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond with a mailing address.  If I don't receive a response, another winner will be selected. 

Links you'll need to complete the entries:

Thanks for reading and good luck!

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