Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Based on a Facebook post...regional food names and a childhood memory

I have decided not to post about the trip to/from NC or the goings on at the funeral. I am once again making a concerted effort to cut some of the negativity in my life.

I will say that I decided it was time I grew up and paid for my own hotel room for the weekend. And it was nice to see my nephew/little brother who flew in from CA for the funeral- it's been nearly 20 years since we'd seen each other. Also, I ate FAR too much junk, but enjoyed every bite.

So, one of the things I did was post pics of some of the meals from my favorite hometown restaurants to a foodie group I belong to on FB. Another member of the group posted pics of her haul from a farmer's market she'd been to and then asked for a meal idea using the ground meat she bought in a moment of optimism. Another member suggested cabbage rolls, and gave a recipe for them. I got the giggles when I read it. For some reason, I've always thought of cabbage rolls as a bread product when I've seen written references to them.

Turns out that what they call cabbage rolls are what my family calls Pigs in a Blanket. Meatballs, usually studded with rice, rolled in cabbage leaves, and cooked in a tomato based sauce. We also call it Stuffed Cabbage. This confused the heck out of my cousin Melissa when she married into our family. I had to laugh because my one & only Girl Scout camping trip lead to the same confusion for slightly different reasons.

I am not an outdoorsy person. Never have been. I went on the trip because they promised we'd be sleeping in cabins, not tents. They failed to mention the lack of electricity, running water, and that we'd be using outhouses. Or that it was mosquito season. It was a horrible drive up- the leaders couldn't get the vans we were supposed to go in, so we wound up being crammed into 4 cars (25 kids with gear plus chaperones) and we got caught in traffic due to a festival in one town. We were all hot and cranky when we got there, not to mention desperate for bathrooms, and it degenerated from there.

The counselor was trying to cheer up 25 disgruntled little girls (we were Brownies) and promised us Pigs In The Blanket for dinner with a special surprise for dessert. "OH BOY!" I thought. I loved my mom's version, so I was expecting something really good. Imagine my surprise at dinner when I was handed a limp hot dog and an even limper piece of crescent roll dough and told to wrap my piggie in its blanket. I burst into tears and so did 3 other girls who didn't like hot dogs. We all refused to eat the things. The counselors had a hurriedly whispered conference and decided to see how we fared with dessert.

Dessert was great! MY first encounter with S'mores and I loved them. NOBODY cried or refused those!

The rest of the night was pretty rough. Some idiot told us ghost stories, so nobody could sleep. No one wanted to use the outhouses at night. (or during the day for that matter) We all itched from mosquito bites, a couple had found the poison ivy. Most of us were starving, and I just hoped we'd have something good for breakfast.

Nope. They planned cheese filled scrambled eggs for breakfast. At that age, I ate neither one. (still won't eat eggs) My mother HAD warned them that I couldn't wouldn't eat that and even offered to provide an alternate for me herself. The leaders foolishly assured her it wouldn't be necessary. Boy were they wrong. One of the other girls who wouldn't eat the dinner the night before and I both flat out refused to touch eggs. They hadn't brought anything else. Finally, one of them remembered that there were some graham crackers left over from the S'mores, so that's what we had for breakfast. Then everybody got crammed back into the cars for the drive home.

So there you have the story of one of my childhood traumas. LOL. Mom is STILL mad at those troop leaders, 30+ years on. I still hate outhouses. But we both like S'mores!

Books & Bloggers Book Swap!

Signed up for another exchange since the last one was so much fun!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mug of Comfort Exchange Reveal

So, Melissa did a wonderful job with the care package she sent me! Both of us were having a rough patch during the exchange, so we didn't get to know each other as well as I think we would have liked, but I also believe we plan on staying in touch. Despite that, she sent me a lovely stoneware mug without any idea that I *LOVE* stoneware. I'm looking forward to trying the teas- my parents snitched some of them before I could object, but that's fair since I bogarted the 3 cheese steaks we brought back from the Philly Deli. And it will teach me not to show them goodies I get unless it's via photograph! I've already enjoyed the cider- we had a freak winter blast again this week, no snow but it was cold enough for the cider and some cocoa!

I'm very pleased with how this exchange went. I'd like to thank the hosts for allowing me to participate and hope to do another one soon. Especially now that I've *FINALLY* figured out how to upload pictures to the blog!

Oh, and if you're curious to see what I sent to Melissa, go here!

Friday, March 27, 2015


Ok, one more non-dessert recipe. LOL. Found here:

10 mins
7 hours
7 hours 10 mins

Author: The Cooking Jar
Serves: 8


2 lb. lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
15 oz. marinara sauce
15 oz. stewed tomatoes (I prefer petite diced)
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons sugar (I think 1 is better)
Salt and pepper to taste
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and cooked
1 lb. penne/rigatoni/bow tie pasta, cooked al dente
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1½ cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Make Slow-Cooker Beef & Potato Stew


Over medium high heat, brown the beef until cooked. Drain any fat
Remove beef and saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent
Transfer onions and beef to a slow cooker and pour in marinara sauce, tomatoes, seasonings, sugar and crumbled beef bouillon cubes
Stir to mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste
Cook on 6 hours on low
Add pasta, Parmesan and Mozzarella and stir to combine
Cook on high for 30 minutes
Mix in cooked or raw spinach leaves and stir well
Dish and serve hot

I add mushrooms, sliced and sauteed with the onions & garlic. For dinner, this needs good, garlicky bread and maybe a side of sauteed zucchini & yellow squash.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Foodie Friday: Ree Drummond's Butterscotch Pudding

Ok, I'm back on a dessert kick. I think. We'll see what turns up on next week's installment, but in the meantime, here's today's deliciousness!

Butterscotch Pudding

Prep: 1 hr Level: Easy
Cook: 10 mins Serves: 6


1-½ cup Brown Sugar, Light Or Dark Is Fine
¼ cups Cornstarch
½ teaspoons Salt
3 cups Whole Milk
4 whole Large Egg Yolks (discard Or Save Whites For Another
2 Tablespoons Butter
Unsweetened Whipped Cream


Gently whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium
nonstick pan.
In a separate pitcher or bowl, whisk together the milk and egg yolks.
Pour it into the pan with the brown sugar mixture and stir to combine.
Turn on the heat to medium and cook, stirring gently, until the mixture
just starts to bubble up/get very thick. (This can take a good 10 minutes
or so.) When it reaches pudding consistency, stir in the butter until
melted, then remove it from the heat and spoon it into bowls, glasses (be
careful; mixture is hot), demitasse cups, etc. Chill the pudding for at least
1 hour or until very cold.
Top with unsweetened whipped cream and serve!

I love Pioneer Woman. I've tried several of her recipes and she hasn't let me down yet. I didn't think I even liked Butterscotch pudding until I saw this and something kept drawing me back to it. Serves 6 is optimistic, the way I serve dessert.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Banging my head into the wall on a near daily basis...

So, my brother in law, Eddie, passed away last weekend. The funeral is this coming weekend, in NC. We're leaving around 6 tomorrow night. 12-16 hours, each way, in the car with my parents. To top it off, I get to share a hotel room with them for the weekend. FML

On the plus side, I'll be away from the office for almost a week. Speaking of which...

The newest crop of department rookies has hit the street, and they are dumber than dirt. Seriously. We've already nominated them "the class most likely to have it's members accidentally shoot themselves or be shot with their own weapons." My friend Dave is training one that got a call for them to respond to an accident. He asked her how long she thought it would take them to get from their current location to the accident scene. (it was less than a mile away) She told him, "About 15 minutes," and then proceeded to get lost. It took them an hour to get there. This is with a GPS, an MDT with internet connection, and 2 smartphones in the car. Dave started texting their Sgt after the 3rd wrong turn she took and asked him to meet them at the scene. He tried to gently steer her in the right direction, but she snapped at him that she was doing fine and he let it go. When they finally arrived, the unamused Sgt told Dave to write her up. She told the Sgt that she didn't know why they were taking the call anyway since it wasn't their beat. (Dave went face down into the dashboard at that point) It WAS their beat, BTW.

Well today, the girl got lost on the third call. Dave took over driving, took her back to the division and told her to get out of the car and go buy herself a Mapsco guide to Louisville. Her instructions included "Come back to the division after you get the book and let me know to come pick you up." That was at 4:30. He came to see me at 5:45 and was here for almost an hour. He texted me at 7:04 to say that she'd finally found her way back to the division.

Somehow it makes me feel better to know that it's not just me...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Foodie Friday: Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

Another good one. I love my slow cooker, when I remember to buy the Reynolds slow cooker liners. Those things make clean-up a breeze! (Not a paid endorsement, Reynolds Co has no idea who I am- I just really like them)

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1/8 cup margarine
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

1Put chicken, margarine and dressing mix in slow cooker; mix together and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
2Add cream cheese and soup, mix together and cook on high for another 1/2 hour or until heated through and warm.

Good over rice or egg noodles. Not bad over a baked potato, either. I sometimes add chopped cooked bacon and peas to it. Sauteed mushrooms and onions are also good. You can add a salad to round it out.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Foodie Friday: Baked Chicken alla Millanese

This recipe, found here, is a good quick dinner for a night when you don't feel like faffing about with a complicated meal.

1 clove(s) garlic
1 cup(s) parsley leaves
1/2 cup(s) seasoned breadcrumbs
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
2 boned chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
4 tablespoon(s) olive oil
2 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Chop the garlic together with the parsley and place in a small bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Moisten this mixture with 2 tablespoons of oil.
Lay the boned thighs in a heavy baking pan and coat the top of the chicken with the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle the chicken with the remaining olive oil and bake for 25 minutes, or until browned. Serve with lemon wedges.

My notes: As usual, I subbed breasts for the thighs because I don't like dark meat. Also, I pounded the breasts a little to even them out and carefully dredged them in the breadcrumb mix. Lowered the temp to 375* and started checking them at the 15 minute mark so they wouldn't dry out. I served mine with italian cut green beans and sour cream/garlic mashed potatoes.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Catching up

So, my heart was broken last week when Leonard Nimoy passed away. There will be a longer post about that when I can write it without crying.

Dr. M says my thyroid tumor is still benign, so he wants to go ahead and give it another year. Easy for him- he doesn't have to make the copays for the ultrasounds & biopsies!

Dad surprised me when we went out to dinner last Sunday. I was waiting for him & Mom to get to the restaurant and heard a cough. I looked up and there he was walking to the table WITHOUT his walker! He's been practicing at home and is getting about fairly well, although he still uses it when the weather is bad or we're going somewhere crowded, just for the extra stability. Mom offered him her arm when we were leaving and he shook her off and fairly STRUTTED out of the place.

And the bloody snow is back. We got over a foot last night. The boss had to pick me up again because Sunshine once again pre-empted the day off.

That's about it for now. I'm mailing my Mug of Comfort exchange package out tomorrow (IF I can get my car dug out and get to the post office) and looking forward to assembling it tonight. I hope Melissa likes it! I've also got a mystery stash box to mail to the next person in the stitch exchange group I'm in and 2 packages of Red Velvet Oreos going to a friend in England. And two "Just because" presents going to friends in CA & Ontario. The post office loves me- I don't know how they can go broke with all the shipping I do!