Betty Crocker Can Bite Me
Cooking: A Modern Guide
By Maya Kulycky
About the Author Maya Kulycky is a
journalist, lawyer, and food lover. Her recent publications “Meatinclude “Meat-Free Dining for Devoted Carnivores” in
The Economist’s More Intelligent Life Magazine.
Previously, Maya was a correspondent with ABC News and a general assignment reporter at CNBC. Maya is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, University of London, and Yale Law School, and a member of the New York State Bar.
This is not your mother’s cookbook. This book will not: • Tell you how to prepare tea for twenty with detailed instructions on removing bread crusts. • Insist that without the right carved ice centerpiece your cocktail party is ruined. • Stay on your bookshelf gathering dust. This is the cookbook version of your favorite bra – it’s comfortable and practical – giving you the support you need to cook fabulous meals in a mad, mad modern world. This will help you figure out what to cook when you’re in the most modern of culinary situations… • You have to cook, but you’ll be damned if you’re going to mess up your new manicure • Your friend needs to drown her sorrows after a really bad breakup • You have to, HAVE TO, fit into that dress Sure, there are some traditional scenarios I’ll walk you through, like office parties, brunches, and holidays, but we’ll talk about hangovers too. …Betty Crocker would NOT approve. Then again, Betty Crocker never really existed. She was an image created by a company to sell a product. This cookbook is not. The scenarios are real, and so are the tips… So buckle up, start your engines, and get your cooking on!
Psst… Psst…All of the scenarios you are about to read are true. In some Tcases the names have been changed to protect the innocent. MK able cases of Contents:
Chapter 1: Fashion
The “I Absolutely Have To Fit Into That Dress” Dinner
• Saucy Salmon • Baby Bok Choy
The “Spent Too Damn Much” Supper
• Sizzling Salami Sandwich • Cucumber Salad
The “Fabulous Without Fear” Feast
• Seafood Pasta • Garlic Bread • Rose Rice Pudding
The “Manicure Meal”
• Caesar Salad • Chilean Sea Bass
Chapter 2: Love
The “Breakup Bonanza” Feast
• • • • • Shrimp Scampi Garlicky Broccoli Rabe Tomato Rubbed-Bread Vanilla Ice Cream and Brownies Espresso Martinis
“Cures What Ails Ya”Chicken Soup
• Chicken Soup
The “Cure For The Deep Blue Funk”
• Chicken Pot Pie • Ice Cream Sundae
The “Meal That’s Meant To Mean More”
• • • • Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce Baked Italian Sausages Italian Salad Coffee with Hazelnut Liquor
Easy Like Sunday Morning…
• • • • Oven-Fried Catfish Tomato Salad Cheese Grits Fruit Salad
Life Chapter 3: Life Culinary Adventures In Babysitting
• Pipsqueak Pizza • Jiggly Jello
• Camp Chicken • Smores
Like, Totally 80s Movie Night
• Taco Salad
• “Dreamsicle” Sundaes
It’ Had Better Be Good
• • • • Cornish Hens Firecracker Corn Simple Salad 7-Up Cake
Cookin’ Up Some Clean Livin’
• Chilled Cous Cous with Chicken • Yogurt with Cucumber and Garlic • Fresh Mint Tea
Veggie Friends…How Many Of Us Have Them?
• Greek Salad • Spanikopita • Honey Nut Yogurt
Chapter 4: Celebrate
You Say It’s Your Birthday?
• • • • Flank Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce Roasted Asparagus Easy “Baked” Potatoes Chocolate Fudge Cake
Fourth of July Feast
• Bratwurst with Grilled Onions • Chicago Style Hot Dogs • Fresh Tomatoes with Mozzarella
• Angel Food 4th Cake • Root Beer Floats
• Macaroni and Cheese • Cranberry Sauce
• Lasagna • Italian Salad • Apple Pie
• Chili • Onion Dip with Veggies and Chips • Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
UhChapter 4: Uh-Oh
The “Hangover Cure”
• Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas • Fresh Salsa • Guacamole
• Baked Swordfish • Green Salad with Blue Cheese • Coffee Ice Cream with Crumbled Chocolate Espresso Beans
• Rum Balls
I Need A Mental Health Day
• Lobster Rolls • Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chapter 1: Fashion
Dress”Dinner The “I Absolutely Have To Fit In That Dress”Dinner
Ah, the little black dress. It’s supposed to be reliable – the “favorite jeans” of your formal closet. It’s the dress you can pull out at a moment’s notice, throw on with a little red lipstick, and look like a million bucks, right? Right. That’s how it’s supposed to be…but when I was looking for a new little black dress recently I was seduced into something much, much more Va-Va-Voom. It didn’t look like much on the hanger – just draping folds of flowing black floor-length silkiness. But when I put it on…it was smoking! It plunged, clung, and flowed in all the right places…I felt like a million bucks! But in the back of my head I knew that this dress was “high maintenance”, meaning it wouldn’t plunge, cling, and drape just anything and look the way it did in the shop mirror. This dress would know exactly what passed through the lips…and show it on the hips. By that afternoon, I had buyer’s remorse. What was I thinking? It was the holidays! The event I was wearing the dress to was 4 weeks away! That’s a lot of time to eat cookies and crème fraiche. That night I knew this holiday season was going to have to be different…I was going to have to buckle down…at least some of the time…starting tonight. I’m no diet expert, but here’s what I made for dinner…that night and for many of others before the “Big Day”. Here’s my “I Absolutely have to fit in that Dress” Dinner…
3/4 lb salmon (cut into 2 filets) Olive oil cooking spray 1/8 tsp salt ¼ cup thick teriyaki sauce (like Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste and Glaze) 2 Tbsp green onions, chopped ¼ tsp freshly grated ginger
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking dish with olive oil spray. Rub salt on salmon and place in dish, skin side down. In a small bowl combine green onions, teriyaki sauce, and ginger. Bake salmon 20 minutes. Pour sauce on top. Cook 5 more minutes. Serves 2.
Note: I prefer the taste of wild salmon to farmed. It costs a little more, but it’s worth it. Just ask at the counter!
Baby Bok Choy
1 lb baby bok choy, cored (i.e. with leaves loose) 1 Tbsp ponzu (citrus seasoned soy sauce) ½ tsp sesame oil Heat sesame oil in a skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add bok choy and ponzu. Cover. Cook, stirring frequently for 6 minutes. Serves 2.
If you can bear to eat the carbs…
“Spent Too Damn Much”Supper
Sometimes I go on a shoe-buying bender. It doesn't happen often but I make it count. I try to come up with an excuse; recently it was this: how often does a 6-foot-tall woman find a store where every shoe comes in her size? Not often! So I went crazy…I was so far gone I almost bought a mule lined with fur. Seriously, a mule (summer) lined with fur (winter). Now THAT’s crazy. I read about the store in the Style section of the paper… A brilliant, tall woman working in finance couldn't find chic shoes in her size, so she started selling shoes herself. Voila, an oasis for big footed women was born! I walked in without a game plan, during a sale, and with my shoe-loving sister, Ellen. I was toast. I bought some black flats I wore till they were embarrassingly shoddy… …killer suede heels with a round toe… …kitten-heel slip-ons I wore once… …mules with a pattern that looked like old lace curtains -- oh yeah, with bead tassels…and some other shoes I don't even remember. It was a blur. Afterwards I was elated...and appalled. How did I spend so much? I had planned to eat dinner out. That was off. So was going to the grocery store, where I would probably spend more money than I would at a restaurant. I decided I had to cook dinner with what I already had at home. That would set things right. Karmic balance would be restored...or at least I’d feel better. Maybe you can use this menu the next time you make a really big purchase…like a car, or a vacation...I'd like to know if it works. Anyway, here's the “Spent Too Damn Much” Supper...
Sizzling Salami Sandwich
4 slices of bread (white bread if possible, but beggars can’t be choosers) 12 slices salami Mustard Tomato, sliced (optional) In a large skillet over medium heat place slices of salami flat in a single layer (or overlapping slightly). Cook until salami turns dark red, about 6 minutes. Place slices on a few paper towels. Meanwhile, lightly toast bread slices; they should still be slightly soft. Spread with mustard, stack with salami and tomato, if desired. Serves 2.
Cucumber Salad Cucumber
1 12 inch cucumber (English or Pickling are best), sliced into thin rounds 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar 2 Tbsp sugar In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. Allow to sit at least 10 minutes. Mix again. Serve.
(You know you don't have anything in the fridge to mix it with. Just face it.)
The “Fabulous Without Fear” Feast
I love white clothes. Not stark white -- subtle creams. But it takes the right moment -- flawless skin, a good hair day, and the right time of year -- the toastiest summer day or crispest winter chill – for me to break out the whites I only wear when the stars align. It doesn't happen often. When it does, I have a protocol I try to stick to. Keep pen caps on when not writing, check the seat of my chair before I sit down, and don't eat colorful foods that stain easily. Sure, I've violated the rules...all of them...but I've paid for it. Recently, I was tempted into danger by a blueberry muffin. It was summertime, and local markets were full of plump, round, sweet blueberries. I grabbed a bunch and baked up a dozen muffins full of berries. The next day I was really looking forward to the leftovers…but I was wearing a white suit! I tried to prevent a fashion emergency. I put a napkin on my lap...I leaned over my desk...but by the second muffin I was getting lazy. That's when my luck ran out. A berry broke loose during a bite...it was a direct hit to my pant-leg! There it was -- a big purplish splotch. I did what I could, and so did my trusty dry cleaner (who had performed miracles before)...but it was "fruitless" -- a faint spot remains. You don't have to make my mistake. You can eat a fantastic meal wearing whites as scary-bright as a Hollywood smile without fear. Here's how. Make the “Fabulous Without Fear” Feast…
1 lb spaghetti 2 (6.5 oz) can chopped clams, drained ½ lbs cleaned and peeled large shrimp (preferably Tiger Shrimp) ¾ lbs fresh calamari (squid) 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 3 cups parsley, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp salt Olive oil 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 1/4 cup parmesan cheese Salt Place parsley in large serving bowl. Add salt to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil. Add spaghetti, stir constantly for 1 minute. Continue boiling for 9 minutes, or until slightly tender. Drain, place on top of parsley, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and mix gently. Meanwhile, in a large skillet with a lid heat 4 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, but not smoking, add garlic. Cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add clams. Cook 2 minutes. Add shrimp and calamari. Cover. Cook until shrimp and calamari is firm and no longer translucent, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add lemon juice. Add contents of skillet to bowl of spaghetti. Toss lightly. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
1 loaf French bread 4 large peeled cloves garlic Olive oil Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut bread lengthwise, but not all the way through, like a hoagie. Place on long piece of tin foil (large enough to completely cover bread). Score garlic (cut the end with a knife) and rub along crusty edges of the bread and on the center of the bread (scoring as necessary as the garlic disintegrates). Brush inside of bread with olive oil. Seal up loaf in tin foil. Bake 20 minutes (or until warm and crusty). Turn off oven and leave bread inside until serving.
Rose Rice Pudding
22 oz rice pudding 1/2 tsp rose water Edible rose petals or flowers (optional)
Lightly mix rice pudding in bowl with rose water. Spoon into two dishes (or wine glasses -- magnifique!). Sprinkle with edible rose petals. Cover and Refrigerate until serving.
“Manicure Meal” The “Manicure Meal”
Do you remember your first manicure? I do. My nails looked fabulous...shiny and smooth...but I made a novice's mistake. I didn't pay first. If you haven't had a manicure this may not sound like a big deal to you...”So what?” you might say. Well, Ms. Natural nail, if you wait until after you get a manicure to pay for it, you could smudge your polish digging in your purse for your wallet…and a smudge can’t be easily fixed. A smudged nail is never the same. It's like a new car that’s been in an accident and sustained some body damage...even after it’s repaired you don’t feel the same about it. You know what’s under the patch-up, and if you look close you just might see it. But there's another dirty little secret to manicures…your nails aren't dry, totally dry and smudge resistant, for a long time. I mean hours. In fact, I'm careful for the rest of the day after I've had a manicure -- and here's the problem with that -- a lot of people get manicures for special occasions, say, for a hosting a dinner party. Now, if you're the perfect planner, you might do all of your chopping, peeling, and kneading ahead of time...but how many of us are like that? I’m not. So, I crafted a meal that has a LSF: low-smudge-factor -- there's no cleaning chickens, patty-making, dough-making required. This is a lowimpact meal. Here's my manicure meal…
1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces ½ cup Caesar Dressing (like Cardinis) 4 anchovies ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese ¼ (about 4 inches) French bread loaf, cut into 1 inch cubes 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp fresh lemon juice Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in ovenproof skillet. Add garlic. Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add French bread cubes, tossing until all oil is absorbed. Place skillet in oven. Bake 6 minutes, or until golden and crisp, turning occasionally. Remove from oven to cool. Place lettuce in large bowl. Toss with dressing, cheese, anchovies, and lemon juice. When serving, top with croutons and garlic. Serves 2.
Chilean Sea Bass
1 lbs of Chilean Sea Bass or other firm white fish cut into 2 filets of equal thickness 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1/8 tsp salt Sprinkle of black pepper Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place filets on an oiled oven-proof dish. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, or until flaky and no longer translucent. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
Chapter 2: Love
The “Breakup Bonanza” Feast
By the time my friend Kelly called me she wasn’t crying anymore, but she still sounded depressed. She had had a bad breakup…and I mean bad. Here’s how it went down. Kelly was smitten with her boyfriend, but they weren’t dating long before she had to move halfway across the country. They were still trying to make it work, so Kelly flew back to town for a date at a fancy restaurant downtown. That’s when her beau dropped the bomb. In the weeks…WEEKS…the two had been apart, he had met another woman and slept with her. “Sorry,” he said. I can’t even imagine how he dropped the news – is that something you say before the salad arrives just to get it over with, or do you wait until dessert and coffee so you can duck out if it gets ugly? Not to mention the obvious question – WHO CAN’T KEEP IT IN THEIR PANTS FOR A FEW WEEKS? Well, Kelly went to the ladies room where she understandably came unglued (and called her girls)… then marched back to her table and told her boyfriend what a jerk he was. Then, for some reason I will never understand, and certainly can’t picture, she finished her dinner. We, her friends, were there to help her pick up the pieces. My specialty? The food cure. Here’s how to cook up a “Breakup Bonanza” Feast…
16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and cleaned ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped 2 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup white wine In a non-stick skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook until soft and slightly golden (about 1 minute). Add shrimp, lemon juice, white wine, and parsley. Cover and cook shrimp are firm and no longer translucent, about 6 minutes, turning once. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
Garlicky Broccoli Rabe
1lbs Broccoli Rabe, with bottom 1 ½ inch of stems removed and rinsed 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 1 cup chicken broth In a skillet with a lid heat the olive oil. Add garlic; cook until soft and slightly golden. Add broccoli rabe, turn after about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth, cover and cook, turning occasionally for 7 minutes. Take lid ½ off, cook another 6 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Serves 2.
1 French bread loaf Extra virgin olive oil 1 medium ripe tomato, or two Roma-sized tomatoes, at room temperature, sliced in half Heat oven to broil. Slice French bread in half lengthwise. Brush cut surface with olive oil. Wrap crust side of bread with tin foil. Broil bread until slightly golden – about 1 minute (watch carefully or it will burn). Remove from oven and rub each toasted surface of bread with a tomato half. Only the skin will be left when you are done. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
goodNote: It’s worth it to invest in a good-quality tomato for this If summertime recipe. If it’s summertime snag one from a farmer’s market. You lowwon’t get a good winey taste from a mealy, low-quality tomato.
Vanilla Ice Cream and Brownies
1 pint vanilla ice cream 2 brownies, 3 inch square (made from a box or from scratch) 1 cup Butterscotch topping (Bubble: I occasionally make my own brownies, but when I’m entertaining I find that making brownies from scratch (which I like to bake right before or during dinner so they’re slightly warm when served) keeps me from hanging out with my guests. So skip the brownies from scratch, instead whip them up from the box.) Place 1 brownie in an ice cream bowl, on a cute plate, or even in a margarita glass. Place 1 large scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Pour half of the butterscotch topping on each scoop of ice cream. Serves 2.
Note: If the butterscotch is not warm, heat carefully in the microwave in 10 second increments until lukewarm. Espresso Martinis
2 shots of espresso, cooled 1 ½ shots vodka 1 shot coffee liquor Ice Fill martini shaker ¾ full of ice. Pour in espresso, vodka, coffee liquor. Shake. Pour into 2 martini glasses. Red Wine This may be the most important part of the meal. Getting tipsy and crying is an important part of the healing process.
“Cures What Ails Ya” Chicken Soup
I love holidays...but not Valentine's Day. There’s something exclusionary, unattainable, and sinister about Valentine’s Day. That's why in high school my friend Esther and I re-named it "Hearts, My Ass Day." The thought behind that glorious name is that the Valentine's heart, with its swelling, symmetrical bends looks nothing like a real heart -- that pulpy, bloody mass. It’s like how Valentines Day bears no resemblance to the Hallmark Card/Lifetime Movie we’re told it’s supposed to...unless it's a Lifetime Movie where a woman is showered with gifts by her new husband on Valentine’s Day only to discover that he murdered all of his previous wives after doing the exact same thing!!! …Okay, I made that up, but you get the point. After creating “Hearts, My Ass Day” I fell in love and decided to give Valentine's Day another chance. I decided to visit my boyfriend in Philadelphia for the holiday. But a few days before I was supposed to leave I got a little achy...then my throat got a little scratchy...then I was really sneezy…and finally I couldn't drag my sick behind from the bedroom to the bathroom...I literally had to crawl. I was sick – and I was sick bad. I had to scratch my travel plans – and because of my fever I don’t remember much of that Valentine's Day at all. But three things stick out in my mind: 1) I felt like hell… 2) I thought my sickness was a sign from a higher power that Valentine's Day is truly bogus... ...and 3) my landlady, a doctor, brought me “essentials” from store – medicine, chicken soup, and tabloid magazines. I swear the chicken soup and tabloids cured me…
…So when my friends get sick I tell them all the celebrity gossip I know and take them a big steaming hot pot of chicken soup...Here it is, my “Cures What Ails Ya” Chicken Soup…
1 4 lb chicken, cleaned and skinned 4 stalks celery – 1 whole, 3 chopped 4 cloves of garlic, peeled 1 32 oz containers of chicken broth or stock 2 6 gram cubes of chicken bullion (to taste) 1 ½ cup sweet yellow onion, chopped 1 1/3 cups baby carrots, chopped into 1/3rds 1 cup frozen peas 1 heaping cup turnip, peeled & chopped into ½ inch cubes 3 cups curly egg noodles 2 tsp salt ¼ tsp black pepper In a large pot, place chicken, 1 stalk of celery, 4 cloves of garlic, and 2 tsp salt. Add 20 cups of water, cover. Heat to boil, simmer for 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked (if it starts to boil over reduce heat to medium and tilt lid). Remove chicken, cool. Remove and discard celery. Add chicken broth. Turn up heat, return remaining liquid to a boil. Taste to test if salty enough. If not, add chicken bullion a little after a time, tasting after each addition. When broth is boiling add onion, carrots, peas, and parsnips. Boil 10 minutes. Add noodles. Cook 10 minutes. Remove chicken meat from bones and add, in bite-sized pieces, to broth. Add black pepper. Serves 4.
Cure For The Deep Blue Funk
There are some days you wish you could forget. A lot of them happen in junior high school. For me, that was Chute Middle School in Evanston, IL, where I had a horrible haircut, wore blue eye shadow, and had "frienemies". A “frienemy” (for those of you lucky enough not to know) is a person who act like they’re your friend but who is actually your enemy. In junior high you're too young to know the difference. On the “Frienemy” scale of one-to-ten Brittany started out as a 6. Most of the time she was tolerable -- if there was someone cooler to hang out with I was chopped liver -- but she wasn’t on my speed dial either, so we hung out...until the 8th grade dance...or was the it 7th? I had a crush on a guy who peaked early. He didn’t know it at the time, but it was going to be downhill from there. I can't remember if he was my crush who ended up dating all of my friends except for me or the one that actually resembled a rodent when you looked at him closely (eventually I did). Either way, I was smitten, and everybody knew it. I hoped, hoped, hoped, he would ask me to dance... But he didn't. He asked Brittany. Since, as I pointed out, she wasn't the worst friend up to this point, I didn't see what was coming. But you probably do. I was in the bathroom (where all true junior high school dramas happen) freaking out because the dance was winding to a close and my crush hadn't made a move. In comes Brittany. I don’t remember the details, but basically she said that he had asked her to dance and she said yes since I didn't have a chance anyway. That’s what I mean when I say she was a “Frienemy” (level 10, let’s hope she peaked early too)...and that there are some days you wish you could forget.
I wanted to go home and drown in my sorrows (since drowning Brittany wasn't legal)...and have something warm and comforting to eat. I needed a Cure for the Deep Blue Funk...
Chicken Pot Pie
1 9-inch refrigerated unroll and bake pie crust (like Pillsbury) 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs 3 cups (1 lb) potatoes 1 cup baby carrots, chopped in half 1 cup cooked peas 1 stalk celery, chopped 2 carrots, chopped 1 cup yellow onion, chopped 2 cans cream of chicken or mushroom soup 1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage or ¼ tsp dried sage 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped 1 tsp salt ¼ tsp pepper Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken in a roasting pan in a single layer. Bake 45 minutes, or until cooked. Cool. Remove and chop into ½ inch cubes. Prick potatoes with a fork. Microwave 4 minutes, or until they give slightly when squeezed, but still firm. Let cool, chop into ½ inch cubes. In a 9-inch casserole dish, mix chicken, peas, carrots, onion, celery, potato, carrot, salt, pepper, thyme, soup and sage. Cover with pie crust pinching closed along edges of dish or pushing dough into sides of dish. Prick surface with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Serves 2.
Ice Cream Sundae
1 container Neapolitan ice cream (you pick the size!) Whipped cream ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup hot fudge Maraschino cherries Scoop desired flavors of Neapolitan ice cream into 2 bowls…may I suggest a large scoop of each flavor? Top each with hot fudge, whipped cream, walnuts and a maraschino cherry. Serve Immediately. Serves 2.
sister, Here I am (on R) with my sister, Ellen, when I was in Junior School…ugh …ugh. High School…ugh.
Meal That’s Meant To Mean More
On to High School… When I was in high school I had a “friend” named Tom. I say “friend” because it always felt like he was something more. We had a lot of chemistry; it seemed like we were always one heavy silence away from getting together. One summer night we ended up in an empty park hanging out on the swings. We were talking – a little. But mostly, we were swinging in the thick, warm breeze and watching the sky in the distance. A storm was rolling in. In the Midwest, you can watch a storm approaching over the flat landscape. Mother Nature makes a dramatic entrance, and the more wicked her mood, the more beautiful she looks. That night the sky cracked with thunder, the curling darkness moved towards us like a wall. We were rapt in anticipation. We were waiting for the skies to open – to get caught in a downpour. Large, heavy drops started to fall. That’s when we lost our nerve -- or maybe just I did. We were on a metal swing set surrounded by trees -- we could get struck by lighting right? We never waited to find out. We left. We never dated either. It wasn’t meant to be. I knew it for sure when I saw him a few years later and breathed a sigh of relief for what hadn’t been. But if there was a meal that symbolized what we were, this is it. It’s a great first dinner for that guy you’ve had your eye on. It's really boring on the surface, but all the action is in what’s happening underneath, the subtle spiciness and tang. Here's my Meal That’s Meant To Mean More...
Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce
1 lb spaghetti 2 (28 oz) cans of whole tomatoes, (no basil), crushed by hand 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
½ cup red wine ½ cup fresh basil, torn ¼ tsp red pepper flakes Salt Olive oil
Add salt to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil. Add spaghetti, stir constantly for 1 minute. Continue boiling for 9 minutes, or until slightly tender. Drain, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and mix gently. Meanwhile, in a large pot with a lid heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, but not smoking, add garlic. Cook until soft, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, red wine, red pepper flakes, and basil. Partially cover and simmer 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve over individual portions of pasta. Serves 2.
Baked Italian Sausages
4 Italian sausages, uncooked Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place Italian sausages on rack in roasting pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until skin is brown. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
1/2 lb Arugula 3 radishes, sliced thinly 1/4 medium red onion, sliced thinly 1/8 cup capers, drained 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 1/4 cup basalmic vinegar 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/4 tsp salt 1/8 tsp black pepper 1/8 tsp dried mustard 1/4 tsp honey
In a small bowl, combine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, combine lettuce, onion, red onion and capers. Serve with dressing and parmesan cheese. Serves 2.
Red Wine Store Bought Italian Cookies Note: Buy the cookies from the store. You don't want to be over the top. That can be scary. Liquor Coffee with Hazelnut Liquor
1 1/2 cups coffee 1/8 cup hazelnut liquor (like Frangelico) ½ cup milk or cream, warmed 1 tsp sugar Whipped cream Add 1 shot of hazelnut liquor and half of milk to each cup of coffee. Blend. Top with whipped cream. Serves 2.
EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING…
Easy Like Sunday Morning…
There's only one dish I've ever come across that I couldn't bring myself to eat. Chitterlings. In case you haven’t heard of them, Chitterlings are a soul food specialty -cooked pig intestines. “No big deal,” I told myself, “I can eat that, it’s just sausage casings” -- but when I stood over my aunt's stove...one whiff sent me running for the hills. I haven't gone near them since. But other than that, I love soul food, it’s one of my specialties -- and cook it with relish, especially for my favorite people. I'm talking about friends and family you don't ever get tired of, the ones who you don’t ever prompt you to think “I wonder when the hell they're going to get out of my house so I can go to sleep!” These are the people you invite to stay, to have one more drink, stay on the couch…and when you wake the next morning you treat them to brunch…that splendid breakfast and lunch fusion that inspired a nickname that sounds like a celebrity couple. I have crazy brunch memories… …Watching married friends get into a fight over who she danced with first after recovering from hip surgery....I was so tense I nearly jumped out of the window, but at least I knew I was family, since they dragged out all their dirty laundry in front of me… …My friend Kat calling from her wedding night suite to tell me that our friend Sarai had hooked up with Kat’s baby brother at wedding… …And the last time my mother praised my cooking before she died. I had made her brunch. She said I had “really stuck my foot in it.” Her delight was more delicious than the food. So next time you have special people like that around and a have hankering to cook brunch, make this, it’s Easy Like Sunday Morning…
Oven--Fried Catfish Oven
4 filets, about 3 lbs catfish 1 1/2 cups cornmeal 2 Tbsp seasoned salt (like Lawry’s) ¼ tsp black pepper Olive oil cooking spray Set top oven rack about 7 inches from coils. Heat oven to Broil. Wash fish and pat dry. Combine cornmeal, salt and pepper in large plastic bag. Add fish to bag and toss until coated. Lay fish flat in a single layer on large flat pan (like cookie sheet or pizza pan). Spray fish thoroughly with olive oil cooking spray. Place in oven and broil 25 minutes, or until fish turns golden brown with toasted edges. Serve with hot sauce (like Red Hot). Serves 4.
Note: Sure, you could fry the catfish, but in my family we stopped doing that a long time ago. Catfish is such an oily fish it doesn’t need it. Also, this way you don’t have all that fishy oil to toss out – ew.
6 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped into ½ inch cubes ½ cup Vidalia onion, chopped 6 Tbsp mayonnaise 1 tsp salt ½ tsp black pepper In a medium bowl, carefully mix tomatoes, onion, mayonnaise and pepper. Serves 4.
Note: Vidalia onions are large and sweet. If you can’t find one, use a standard yellow onion.
3 cups water ¾ cups quick grits 3 Tbsp chives, chopped 1/3 of 8oz package cream cheese ¼ tsp salt 1/8 tsp black pepper In a medium pot (preferably non-stick) bring water to boil. Add grits. Stir immediately. Lower heat to medium-low. Cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add cream cheese and grits. Turn off heat. Continue stirring until mixed thoroughly. Serves 4.
1 apple, cored and chopped into 1 inch pieces 1 orange, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces 8 oz of strawberries, stems removed, sliced in half ½ ripe cantaloupe, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces 8 oz of blueberries 2 Tbsp lemon juice ¼ cup walnut pieces In a medium bowl, lightly combine apple, orange, strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with walnut pieces. Serves 4.
Chapter 3: Life
Culinary Adventures In Babysitting
I know, there’s a lot to think about when you’re watching someone else's kids other than what to feed them. Like: A) Can kids watch this episode of Oprah? B) Whose tooth is this on the floor? C) Who ate my lipstick? But think of cooking while you’re babysitting as an activity, something to fill the time that goes by so slowly – and besides, kids have to eat. Still, whipping up a meal with a couple of wee ones nipping at your heels takes planning, some easy recipes, and knowing what you're up against. Take, for example, my adventures in babysitting at the Folkes' house (no, I did not make that name up). The Folkes were lovely people. They were peaceful parents with cherub kids who didn't fight often. But they had a dog that would jump the backyard fence to eat trash...and a cat that would lie on the stove with its face in the burner; I assume hoping a gas leak would end it all. In short, sometimes it was madness around there. But we had some great times whipping up dishes they had never cooked before, with me slicing and dicing and them doing age-appropriate tot-tasks. You can do the same. I've split the labor below so that you know what are “adult tasks” and what you can leave to the little-ones. Look at this as an art project -- play dough meets finger-painting. Here’s what you need to have great Culinary Adventures In Babysitting….
Dough 2 Tbsp yeast 1 tsp salt 4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup warm water 2 Tbsp olive oil ADULT: Place yeast in bowl with water. Mix until yeast is dissolved. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Add olive oil. Add yeast. Mix. KIDS: When firm enough, knead in bowl or on a flat surface. Coat dough ball with olive oil and place back in bowl. ADULT: Cover with a clean cloth and place in warm spot until doubled in size. Toppings 1 ¾ cups (15 oz) pizza sauce (like Don Pepino) 6 oz pepperoni slices 2 cups mushrooms, washed and sliced 1 cup fresh basil, torn 4 large cloves garlic, chopped 9 oz bag of baby spinach 2 medium green peppers cut into thin strips 6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 2 Tbsp olive oil 2 13 inch pizza pans ADULT: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Split dough into two parts. On a floured board, roll out dough a bit larger than a 13 inch round pizza pan. Place on pan, folding over edges to form crust. Repeat with second ball and pan. In each pan, spread 1 Tbsp olive oil and half of pizza sauce. KIDS: Sprinkle with garlic, then meat, mushrooms, green peppers and basil, finishing with the spinach. Cover with mozzarella cheese. It will be high now, but will bake down in the oven. ADULT: Place in oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then switch positions – place pizza on bottom rack on the top and vice-versa to keep the pizzas cooking evenly. Bake 20 more minutes. Remove from oven, let rest 5 minutes, cut and serve. Serves 4.
1 (3 oz) container Jell-O, cherry flavor 1 ¼ cups water
ADULT: Bring water to a boil. Pour in bowl. Add Jell-O. Stir until dissolved. Pour into pie pan. Refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours). Put bottom of pan in warm water. KIDS: Cut with cookie cutter. Serves 4.
I blame boredom for the unfortunate crush my friend Kara had when we were 11. Boredom can work some nasty mojo on the brain. We were camping at a state park for a week during summer vacation. Most of the time we were swimming, feeding raccoons, and playing cards...until Kara's crush showed up. "The Crush" zipped by on a bicycle, leaving a blur of pre-teen lankiness, short chestnut hair, and my friend Kara in a swoon. As any 11year old girls would do...we became obsessed. Would this be Kara's own summer-lovin romance a'la our favorite musical, Grease? It was so perfect - they'd fall in love like Danny and Sandy and when we returned home "The Crush" would be there -- a new transfer student! We'd all wear leather and too much makeup and get our ears pierced! Okay, so in Grease, Sandy, the girl, was the transfer student, so we were mixing up the genders...but as it turns out, we were on to something there… We had trouble catching "the Crush" at any of our hangout spots for a closer look and an awkward conversation (“Like, hi”…”Oh, like, uh, hi”)...until finally we tracked our target down at the pool. We were looking fierce (for 11) -- cute swimsuits, lip gloss, we even fixed our hair. "The Crush" was looking good too -- cute swimsuit, lip gloss, she probably fixed her hair too. Yep, SHE. Upon closer inspection we realized “The Crush” was a girl! Holy Crap! I nearly peed myself laughing. Kara nearly died from shame. Then we both thought it was hilarious! That night we watched the moon rise -- looming larger than it ever did in the city -- and Kara's mom cooked a great dinner. It’s was so delicious I swore I’d never forget it…and I didn’t. Here’s our Camp “Dish”…
Tin foil 1 whole chicken, skinned and quartered 1 1/3 cups baby carrots 1 1/3 cups peas
2 14.5 oz cans of peeled cooked potatoes 2 10.75 oz cans cream of chicken soup (reduced fat is fine) 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Rub chicken pieces with salt and pepper. On a flat surface place a 12 inch piece of foil. Place another piece of tin foil on top (making an X). Repeat, making 4 Xs in total. Spray center of foil with non-stick cooking spray. Place ¼ (2 pieces) of chicken in center of each X (I suggest breast/wing, thigh/leg combos). Place 1/3 cup of carrots in heaping pile nestled up next to chicken. Place 1/3 cup of peas in a heaping pile nestled up next to chicken. Place ½ can of potatoes in heaping pile nestled next to chicken. Scoop ½ can of soup onto each serving of chicken and vegetables. Raise sides of tin foil and twist top, trying to keep tin foil from pressing down on top of soup, but sealing tightly. Bake 1 ¼ hours, or until chicken is cooked (you can check chicken then reseal packets). Serves 4.
Note: Camp Chicken can also be made on a grill, of course. tinJust lay the tin-foil packets on a rack above the coals. Smores
4 skewers 10 oz container of large marshmallows 5 oz chocolate bar, broken into squares 16 oz graham crackers Give each guest two marshmallows, 1 square of chocolate, 2 squares of graham cracker. Place chocolate square on 1 graham cracker. Roast marshmallows on skewer over warm grill until golden brown. Place on chocolate, put second graham cracker square on top. Eat immediately. Repeat. Serves 4.
Like, Totally 80s Movie Night
You know when it's time to have a night like this… You’re craving a movie featuring Andy McCarthy, the doe-eyed weakling, Molly Ringwald, the pout expert, and a big dose of teen angst. You want an 80s movie night! That’s what I wanted recently...I'm not sure what triggered it…ankle boots coming back? Legwarmers? Fingerless Gloves? Maybe it was all of the above! What's a girl to do but to whip out the cherry lip gloss and settle in for a long night of flashback film? I popped in Pretty in Pink. It's not the best of the bunch. It doesn’t bring back memories of smoking and making out (since I was still in a training bra when it hit theaters)…but boy is it good. What’s better than James Spader in a white suit being a snide, cigarette smoking prick? It was awesome! It was even moving...Pretty in Pink is about class struggle, the alienation created by poverty, America's economic divide…and a kick-ass pink prom dress. I was practically in tears. Thankfully Ferris Buller’s Day Off helped me pull myself together…Ferris and my totally 80's munchies! Here's what I made for my Like Totally 80s Movie Night...
Tortilla chips 1 (15 oz) can of refried beans 1 lb ground beef or turkey 1 packet taco seasoning (for 1lb of meat) 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 2 cups salsa (see page 61) 2 cups shredded lettuce 2 cups guacamole (see page 61)
½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt In a small, non-stick pot over medium heat brown beef or turkey. Prepare according to instructions on taco seasoning. Warm refried beans in microwave for 2 minutes. Stir. Coat center of plate with ½ of refried beans. Layer meat and cheese on top of beans. Microwave plate for 1 minute, or until cheese is melted. Layer guacamole, salsa, and lettuce on top of meat mixture. Top with a dollop of sour cream. Repeat on second plate. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
1 pint vanilla ice cream 1 pint orange sherbet 1 container hardening chocolate topping (like Smucker’s Magic Shell) In tall, thin glasses, place 1 scoop of orange sherbet, topped by one scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped by another scoop of sherbet. Pour on chocolate topping. Serves 2.
Pop Rocks andFanta Tab andFanta Bartles & James or Seagram’s Wine Coolers
It Had Better Be Good
Jitters, stomach pains. That's what I felt as I headed to my boyfriend's parents' house to meet them for the first time. Maybe it will be different for you, I hope so, but I was a genuine pure-dee nutcase. There’s a florist in Boston who can testify to that. I had him wrap the flowers I was bringing to dinner three times….because I had really lost my mind. The wrapping had to be P-E-R-F-E-C-T. But once it was, my stomach started to hurt. I started to think I had food poisoning...was it the clam chowder? It turns out I had no food poisoning and no reason to worry. My boyfriend’s parents were great people, and had a delicious meal I'll never forget (a beef roast stuffed with lobster tails with a hollandaise sauce...in case you're wondering). Because of that, I was MUCH more calm the first time they came over to my house to eat. Still, my ground rules made it go more smoothly -1. Make something that's hard to mess up. 2. Make a dish that doesn't involve constant attention -- it should be something that allows you to leave the kitchen to entertain. 3. Stay away from the exotic -- make something everyone can eat without feeling scared. Here’s a meal that meets all those requirements. This is a meal you can cook when It Had Better Be Good...
4 Cornish Hens ½ tsp black pepper 2 tsp salt (preferably Kosher) ½ tsp paprika Cooking twine
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and clean Cornish hens. Pat dry. Rub hens with pepper, salt, and paprika evenly. Tuck wing tips under back of hens (almost like they are putting their hands on their hips). Tie legs together at the narrowest part (tie in a small bow to make removal easy). Place hens on rack in roasting pan, breast up. Bake for 1 ½ hours or until done. Serves 4.
4 ears of fresh corn 1 red bell pepper, diced 1 Tbsp olive oil 1/8 tsp black pepper Remove husks and silk from corn ears. In a shallow dish carefully cut kernels from corn cobs (hold ears with the thicker part on top and cut down sides with a knife). Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add pepper, sauté for 2 minutes. Add corn. Sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until it turns from a cloudy to a clear yellow with a little browning. Add pepper. Serves 4.
2 heads of Boston lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces 1/2 apple (try Fuji or Macintosh), cored and thinly sliced ½ pear, cored and cubed 1 avocado, cored, peeled, and sliced into 8 pieces 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1/4 tsp salt Dash of black pepper
In a small bowl, mix vinegar, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Place greens, apple, pear, and avocado in large bowl. Pour dressing to taste (start with ½) over greens and toss. Place equal portions into bowls. Serves 4.
1 ½ cups butter, softened 3 cups sugar 5 eggs 3 cups flour 2 Tbsp lemon extract ¾ cup 7-Up Vegetable shortening Whipped Cream Powdered sugar 2 cups raspberries Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a fluted cake pan. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add flour. Beat in lemon extract, 7Up. Pour into cake pan. Bake for 1 hour, 10 minutes, or until wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on rack then carefully remove cake from pan and cool. Place slices on individual dessert plates, each topped with one dollop of whipped cream, a handful of berries, and dusted with powdered sugar.
Cookin’ Up Some Clean Livin’
Sometimes you feel inspired to clean up your act. For me, it usually comes after a week eating things that would make a nutritionist jump off a tall building. It used to be so easy -- when I was in high school I'd just eat and eat like I had a hollow leg and still look great in a bikini. I mean, I was expanding, but at such a glacial pace that it took until college for the weight to really add up. I'll never forget the day that I decided to put on the brakes. I was in a dressing room, trying on straight skirts with my roommate...and they just wouldn't fit right. The hips were tight and the waist was HUGE. I looked to her for an explanation…what the hell was going on? She said "you know that part of your butt you're always talking about? That's why the skirt looks bad." She meant “saddlebags.” Yeah, brutal....but honest. That is some straight talk...but I was done talking...I had to take action! That night I hit the gym for the first time...and, I'll admit it, I felt like I was having a heart attack after just 10 minutes of cardio! My life flashed before my eyes...this was it....and then it wasn’t...and I got down to business. Working out actually felt good...like I had turned over a new leaf. So I did…I went on a health kick...but what to eat? Here's what I decided on -- one of those meals to make when you’re Cookin’ Up Some Clean Livin’…
Chilled Cous Cous with Chicken
2 cups Cous Cous 2 1/4 cups chicken broth 1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt 1 Tbsp dried oregano ½ cup tomato, chopped ¼ cup yellow onion, chopped ¾ cup cucumber, chopped ¼ cup chopped parsley 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (2 halves) Place chicken into medium pot and cover with water. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and boil until cooked and firm, about 30 minutes. Remove, cool, and chop into ½ inch pieces. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a pot with a lid over medium heat. When hot (but not smoking) add onion, cook until softened, about 1 minute. Add tomato, cook another minute. Add chicken broth, lemon juice and oregano. Heat to boil. Add cous cous. Close lid. Remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes. Fluff and allow to cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Pour cous cous into large bowl. Add chicken, parsley, and chopped cucumber. Toss lightly. Serves 2.
Yogurt with Cucumber and Garlic
2 cups plain, low fat yogurt ½ cups cucumber, chopped 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely ¼ tsp salt In small bowl, combine yogurt, cucumber, and garlic. Add salt and mix. Serve.
Fresh Mint Tea
Teapot of water 1/3 cup of mint leaves 1 lemon, sliced into 8 pieces 4 Tbsp sugar
Boil teapot of water. Crush mint leaves slightly. Distribute mint leaves into 4 cups. Place 1 Tbsp sugar into each cup. Fill each cup with boiling water. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Add juice of 1 slice of lemon to each cup and stir. Serve with remaining lemon slices.
Veggie Friends…How Many Of Us Have Them?
I know, I know, we shouldn't eat meat, meat is murder, history will judge us poorly...still, for me, a meal without meat or fish is usually a personal hell. I was the kind of kid who left the movie Bambi in tears...then ate a ham sandwich. Don't get me wrong, I wish I were a vegetarian -- I love animals, so cute, so full of personality. But I'm from Chicago, and I can't live without meat. Don't believe me? Well, here's how I know… During the Mad Cow scare I was living in London. No-one was eating beef…even I was freaked out. On TV were videos of stricken cows played over and over again...but as soon as I turned away all I could think about was having a nice big steak. Mad Cow disease hadn't shown up in the states yet, so I started thinking, “I need to get my hands on some Prime USDA meat.” During a visit home I hatched a plan....it involved dry ice, 6 porterhouse steaks, and (I suspect) a customs violation…but it worked. When those steaks ran out I traveled to Italy and found a butcher who swore his cows were Italian. Then my friend Kali smuggled me in some sausage when she came to visit. Like I said, I like meat. But we all have veggie friends -- people who should be nominated for sainthood. So, let's say it's your veggie friend’s birthday and you want to whip her up a great meal. Here's what I'd make for Veggie Friends…How Many Of Us Have Them?…
1 ½ lbs of cucumber (preferably English or pickling), sliced into 2 inch lengthwise strips 1 ½ lbs (4 medium) tomatoes cut into 8ths like an apple 1 lbs (2 large) green peppers, sliced into lengthwise strips 1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped 2 cups feta cheese (preferably sheeps milk feta), crumbled 2 cups marinated olives (like Trader Joe’s Mingling Olives) 1 cup lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil 2 tsp salt ¼ tsp black pepper Place cucumber, tomato, green peppers, basil, olives, and crumbled feta cheese into large bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour into large bowl and toss lightly. Serves 4.
1 Tbsp olive oil 2 cups green onions, sliced 2 cups fresh fennel bulb, finely chopped 10 oz fresh baby spinach (about 20 cups) 2 cups feta cheese ¼ cup parsley, chopped ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped 2 Tbsp fresh oregano, hard stems removed, chopped ¼ tsp salt ½ tsp black pepper 8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed Heat oven to 400 degrees. In large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and fennel, cover, and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Place in a large bowl. Add spinach to pan, cover, cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain in colander if necessary, then add to bowl. Add feta, parsley, dill, oregano, salt, and pepper. Grease 8 ½ x 12 inch baking dish with olive oil (or spray with olive oil spray). Place 2 sheets on bottom of pan, brush or spray with olive oil. Add 2 sheets of phyllo the opposite direction (pieces of phllyo will be longer than the pan; you will fold them over the top later). Brush or spray with oil. Repeat. Add spinach mixture. Fold over sheets that extended beyond dish. Add a sheet of phyllo folded in half over top, coat with oil; add three more sheets in process used to line dish. Cut a few slits in top of phyllo. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool on rack for 20 minutes. Cut into large squares. Serves 4
Honey Nut Yogurt
4 Tbsp cup walnuts pieces 4 Tbsp honey 4 cups whole milk vanilla yogurt (like Brown Cow) Heat oven to broil. Place walnut halves on flat pan, broil until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Remove from oven and cool. Dish yogurt into 4 glasses. Sprinkle with nuts. Drizzle with Honey. Serves 4.
Chapter 4: Celebrate
It’ You Say It’s Your Birthday?
I knew when I woke up that my 16th birthday was going to be a bust. I had pretty much guaranteed that. My mother knew it too – I could hear her rattling around in the kitchen first thing in the morning – bad sign. I really had nothing to complain about. For my whole life birthdays had been great. I was born in June. Being born in June is like winning the birthday lottery! Parties are outside…sun shining, barbecues. I even remember one year my birthday was on the last day of school – on the way home everyone came over to my house for my party! Anyway, my sister Ellen had got hit with the crappy birthday. She popped out on December 30th…that’s right, the day before New Year’s Eve. I challenge you to think of another day when it’s harder to find people to party…they're all resting up for the next night, the party of the year, New Year's Eve. Bummer. But when I turned 16 I blew it – a summer birthday – that took skill. I choked on my gift. I didn’t want to ask for something extravagant – I wasn’t one of those “Super Selfish Sweet 16” kids – so I got to thinking…what do I need? …I decided on a filing cabinet. No joke. I asked for a wooden, two drawer filing cabinet. My parents probably never heard my detailed specs because they were stunned by such a stupid request. My mother asked me over and over if that’s what I really wanted. I thought it was. When the big day came they signaled how lame my request was by not even wrapping my gift. It sat in the living room draped with a sheet… big ol box of shame.
Underneath wasn’t even the wooden filing cabinet of my dreams…it was an ugly industrial metal file…probably called the “Depress-O”. I sobbed…I cried so hard I fell on the floor. That’s where I came to my senses. What was I thinking? Was I so practical that I had asked for a filing cabinet for my 16th birthday? Yes. And at 16 there didn’t seem to be any upside to that…my birthday was off to a really bad start. However, a stinky birthday can almost always be salvaged with a good meal, and that was my mother’s area of expertise. That's why I don't need a therapist today and my sister is actually chipper when her b-day rolls around. We both know we're always going to eat well. So You Say It’s Your Birthday?…
Flank Flank Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce
2 1/2 lbs flank steak 1 tsp salt ½ tsp black pepper 1 lb creamy blue cheese 1/2 cup heavy cream Set top oven rack 6 inches from coils. Heat oven to Broil. Rub flank steak with salt and black pepper. Place flat on an oiled broiling pan. For medium/well steak, cook 18 minutes, turning frequently (about 4 times). Remove from oven. Allow to rest 10 minutes. Heat cream in small pot with lid over medium heat. Add cheese, cover, and simmer until cheese begins to melt. Whisk until blended. Transfer to serving bowl. Slice steak and serve on large plate accompanied by sauce. Serves 4.
2 bunches, about 2 lbs, of green asparagus 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil ¼ Tbsp kosher salt
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove 1 1/2 inches from the untapered end of asparagus. Place flat, in a single-layer, on a large, flat baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Roll lightly to spread olive oil evenly. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 8 minutes. Serves 4.
Easy “Baked” Potatoes
4 russet potatoes (1/2 lb each) Microwave each potato 7 minutes, until soft when squeezed lightly. Serves 4.
Chocolate Fudge Cake
Cake: 4 squares unsweetened chocolate (4 oz) ½ cup water 1 ¾ cup sugar 2 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 4 tsp corn starch 1 tsp baking powder ½ cup butter, softened 3 eggs 2/3 cup milk 1 tsp vanilla extract ½ cup oil Parchment paper Frosting: 6 Tbsp cocoa powder 1 Tbsp shortening (like Crisco) ¼ butter, softened 3 cups powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt 1/3 cup milk 1 tsp vanilla extract Cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease (or spray with cooking spray) 2 (9 inch) round non-stick layer cake pans. Cut two circles of parchment paper to fit bottoms of pans. Place paper on bottom of pans. In medium pot over medium-low heat melt chocolate and hot water until combined and smooth. Add ½ cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat, let cool while mixing remaining batter ingredients. In a bowl, mix flour with baking soda, baking powder, corn starch and salt. In a separate, large bowl beat butter until light. Add remaining sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes by hand). Add eggs and oil, mix until combined. Add flour in two parts, alternating with milk. Add chocolate mix and vanilla. Mix until blended. Pour into cake pans. Bake 30 minutes, or until fully cooked (a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean). Let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then use a knife to loosen edges and turn out cakes on rack. Pull off paper, allow to cool completely. Frosting: In a large bowl, combine butter, shortening, sugar, salt, and 3 Tbsp milk. Beat until smooth. Add cocoa powder and vanilla. Beat until fully combined. If too thick add more milk and mix. Place 1 cake layer on plate and cover top and sides with icing. Place second layer on top of first, cover top with icing then sides. Smooth. Serves 4.
Fourth of July Feast
Ah, the 4th of July – time to kick back and relax! There shouldn't be hours of prep on the 4th of July...cooking should be easy. And the burgers shouldn't be the only thing that's sizzling… This is the day to show off the tan you started working on as soon as temperatures rose above 70 degrees, when the sun was giving off about as much heat as a 60 watt bulb. People doubted you then...they thought you were crazy, but soon, you said goodbye to sallow, corpse-like skin and now you’re, a golden goddess shimmering in your summer skin. People from warmer climates can’t relate...but this is what summertime is like in Chicago, where I’m from. We don’t take warm weather for granted. Oh, and we know our way around a grill… In Chicago, everyone knows there’s only one grill worth having – a round Weber. Sure, you could buy one of those fancy electric grills with the big price tag, but you'll be sorry.... My brother-in-law. He learned the hard way. He got really into grilling a few years back, and in a burst of enthusiasm ran out to get a new grill. He came back with this big, shiny stainless steel money pit that he swore would be better than my Weber. He was wrong. Within a few months he was borrowing our grill...then he asked me if I wanted to trade my Weber for his hunk-a-junk. No way! Talk about cramping my style, especially on the 4th when I cook up a Midwestern mix of culinary patriotism. Here’s my Fourth of July Feast…
Bratwurst with Grilled Onions
16 cooked bratwurst 3 large Vidalia onions cut into ¼ inch rings 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 16 hot dog buns, room temperature Mustard
Heat grill to medium-low. Coals should be glowing, but there should be no flames. Place rack over coals. Allow to heat – about 1 minute. Place brats on grill. Turn brats when they are golden and swelled. Remove from Grill. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot (but not smoking) add onion slices. Cook, turning frequently, until rings are soft – about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Place brat in bun and slather with mustard. Top with grilled onions. Serves 8.
Chicago Style Hot Dogs
16 hot dogs Sweet relish 1 cup Vidalia onion, chopped Mustard Kosher pickle quarters Heat grill to medium-low. Coals should be glowing, but there should be no flames. Place rack over coals. Allow to heat – about 1 minute. Place dogs on grill. Cook dogs until slightly swelled (or charred if you like). Remove from Grill. Place hot dog in bun. Slather with mustard. Top with relish and onion. Serve with pickles. Serves 8.
Note: I know, some people can’t eat hot dogs without Catsup. Have it on hand if you must…but I agree with the owner of dog. Superdawgs, “Catsup is an abomination” on a hot dog. Potato Chips
Fresh Tomatoes with Mozzarella Tomatoes
6 large ripe tomatoes, sliced into ¼ inch rounds 6 round chunks of fresh mozzarella, about 1/2 lbs 1 Tsp salt Olive oil Fresh Basil (for garnish) On a large platter, place tomatoes and mozzarella (alternating) in rings until platter is full. Sprinkle with salt. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Place sprigs of basil in center. Serves 8.
Angel Food 4th Cake
1 (14 oz) angel food cake (in most grocery store bakeries or make from scratch) 1 (8 oz) container of whipped topping (like cool whip) 8 oz blueberries 16 oz strawberries, with stems removed, cut into slices 2 Tbsp powdered sugar Slice cake in half, lengthwise. Smooth half of whipped topping on cut surface of bottom half of cake. Sprinkle with half of fruit. Place top of cake on fruit. Smooth remaining whipped topping on top half of cake. Sprinkle with remaining fruit. Dust with powdered sugar.
Root Beer Floats
Root beer Vanilla ice cream 8 tall glasses 8 long spoons Fill tall glasses ½ way with root beer. Add 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream. Serve immediately. Serves 8.
I'm not a holiday drill sergeant. I'm not one of those hosts who needs a holiday feast to have a theme, say, hazelnuts, that's carried through each dish, ending with some Frankendessert as strange as a ridiculously made-up celebrity baby name. I just want to feature the best and the brightest of the season, dishes that evoke comfort and memories. It's a laid back affair. Still, I know the pressure of being asked to bring a dish to someone else's house to contribute to the meal...just one? You want it to be spectacular, something worthy of all the hype of the holidays. So I turn to my mother's recipes. My mom could cook...and on the holidays she pulled out all the stops. My friend Laila was wise to it. On holidays she would spend time at our house. And Laila didn't just show up to eat -- she was also looking for take-out. Laila’s father always wanted a plate too – he even had favorites. But recently, Laila got married. With two families and two Thanksgiving celebrations to attend Laila is stretched thin...and scrapping the visit to her mother-in-law's would probably launch World War III. But there's no reason to fret. Laila can cook our "Greatest Hits" herself and take them with her to her holiday pit-stops...and so can you. This is not our complete Thanksgiving meal, just the things that travel well and that my Mother used to say are "so good they'd make you slap somebody". Here are our Holiday Hits!
Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups elbow macaroni 1 egg, beaten 2 cans evaporated milk 1 (8 oz) package sharp yellow cheddar cheese, cubed 1 (12 oz) package of American cheese, cubed (but with 3 slices reserved whole) 1 (8 oz) pkg Monterey jack cheese, cubed ¼ tsp black pepper
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Boil large pot of water. Add macaroni. Cook until just slightly tender. Drain. Pour into macaroni baking dish. Add egg, 1 ½ cans of milk, cheese, and pepper. Mix. Place in oven. Cook about 50 minutes. When thickening slightly, add remaining milk. Stir gently. Watch carefully; do not allow to dry out. It should be slightly soupy when done. When cooked, place 3 slices on top of macaroni. Cook 3 minutes more (until cheese melted). Serves 4.
12 oz cranberries 1 ¼ cups sugar 1 cup water 4 cups peeled, cored, sliced 1 lemon peel, coarsely grated 1 orange peel, coarsely grated 1 tsp ground cinnamon Combine all ingredients to a pot over medium heat. Simmer 20 minutes. Cool. Serves 6.
I've never had a housewarming party. My first apartment had roaches... …my second had a raccoon living in the wall... …the third was in someone else's house... …my fourth was a house with a basement that was really more of a swimming pool, it flooded so much… ...and now I’m in a “cozy” (read small) apartment in a great location. I’m still dreaming of the home I’d throw a housewarming for. Still, I know exactly what the party would be like. Only close friends and family would be invited -- no acquaintances. That way I wouldn't have to deal with chitchat with people who thought I was only trying to shake them down for gifts. I mean, after that many apartments I pretty much have everything I need...and enough knick-knacks make my skin crawl (don't you sometimes feel like cherub-cheeked sculptures are staring at you?...yeah, me too…I think they’re creepy, so I don't keep them around my house). Same goes for prisms, silver plated animals and granite obelisks. Just bring yourself to my house, and maybe a bottle of wine. We'll have a toast, to “turning a house into a home”. Here's what we'll eat at my House(warming) Party!…
9 no-cook lasagna noodles (like Barilla) 15 oz container part-skim ricotta cheese 6 oz baby spinach, washed 1 ½ lbs mozzarella cheese 2 cups parmesan cheese, grated 1/3 cup basil, coarsely chopped ½ cup parsley, finely chopped 2 eggs 50 oz marinara sauce
1 tsp salt ½ tsp pepper Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, eggs, basil, parmesan, and parsley, all but 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper. Put a little sauce on the bottom of an 8 ½ x 12 inch baking dish. Cover with a layer of noodles (3). Spread ½ of cheese mixture on noodles. Cover with ½ of spinach. Cover with some sauce. Repeat, starting again with noodles. Finish with a layer of noodles. Spread a thin layer of sauce on top. Sprinkle with reserved mozzarella. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Allow to rest 5 minutes. Serves 8.
¾ lb Arugula 6 radishes, sliced thinly 1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly ¼ cup capers, drained 1 cup grated parmesan cheese 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper In a small bowl, combine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, combine lettuce, onion, red onion and capers. Serve with dressing and parmesan cheese. Serves 8.
1 pkg (2 crusts) refrigerated unroll and bake pie crust (like Pillsbury) 2 lbs (about 4 large) tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 slices 1 ½ cup sugar 1/8 tsp salt ¾ tsp ground cinnamon 3/4 tsp grated nutmeg 2 Tbsp flour
½ tsp grated lemon peel 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 2 Tbsp butter Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line bottom of pie dish with one round of crust. Mix all dry ingredients in a big bowl. Add apples and mix until they are covered. Layer in pie dish in a spiral from outside in. Sprinkle with grated lemon, lemon juice and butter. Put second pie crust on top, pinch edges, and puncture top with a few pricks from a fork. Bake 30-40 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Cool on rack for 15 minutes. Serve.
I crashed the best football party I ever went to. I was a reporter assigned to cover a New England Patriots playoff game, when someone suggested I drop in at the house of the Patriots' “Number One Fan”. I did...and confirmed that this guy was really Patriots crazy. The house was full of Patriots gear. Jerseys, signed pictures, footballs, books, tapes of old games, you name it, were everywhere – covering every wall, crammed into every corner. By kickoff the place was jumping. The house was filled with 30 or 40 of our host’s “closest friends”. The “Number One Fan” sat in front of the television listening intently to every play...I say listening, because he was blind. No kidding, he had never seen a game. He listened to the play-by-play on TV with one ear and to the radio with the other, and he loved it! He jumped, he screamed – he was more into the game than anyone there. Occasionally, his girlfriend would grab him a beer or some food...that is, when she wasn't on the edge of her seat watching the game herself. In that house there was everything that I love about football -- the excitement, friends...and, of course, the food. So, let's say you're fixing to have your own football party...what to cook? Here's something that works with or without a grill (we're apartment-friendly here)! This is what I'd cook for a great Gridiron Gathering...
1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (without basil), crushed by hand 1 15 oz can of kidney beans, drained 1 cup sweet yellow onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 3/4 cups green bell pepper, chopped 1 tsp salt 2 Tbsp Red Hot hot sauce (optional)
2 Tbsp chili powder 1 lb ground turkey or lean beef ½ cup tomato paste ½ cup cilantro, chopped 1 cup chicken broth 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Saltines with unsalted tops In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and pepper. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add meat, cook until slightly browned. Add beans, tomatoes, cilantro, salt, hot sauce, tomato paste, chicken broth and chili powder. Heat to boil, then reduce heat to mediumlow, place lid on pot slightly ajar (so that steam can escape and chili can boil down), and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve with saltine crackers. Serves 4.
Onion Dip with Veggies and Chips
16 oz sour cream or plain yogurt 1 packet dry onion soup mix (like Lipton Onion Soup Mix) 8 oz mushrooms 10 oz cherry tomatoes 1 small head of cauliflower, washed, cut into florets Potato Chips
In a medium bowl mix sour cream and onion soup mix. Let stand while preparing vegetables. Wash and dry mushrooms and tomatoes – place on platter with cauliflower. Place chips in bowl. Serves 6.
Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
8 large chocolate chip cookies (see page 66) 2 pints vanilla ice cream ½ cup crushed Heath Bars ½ cup crushed Whoppers ½ cup crushed Reese’s Pieces ½ cup jimmies
Place candies individually on small saucers. Place saucers on pizza pan and place in front of guests. Place 1 scoop of ice cream in center of cookie, smash (carefully) to edges. Place second cookie on top. While working on remaining sandwiches, place completed ones in freezer. Hand to guest who to roll ice cream edge of cookie in candy all the way around. Eat Immediately. Serves 4.
UhChapter 5: Uh-Oh
I knew I had overdone it. I was lying on the floor of an Atlantic City hotel room, and I didn't want to get up. It was all part of a send-off from a crazy job. I was in Atlantic City for work. I had given my notice and after the trip to “AC” I was gone. It was time for a last hurrah! After work, my producer and I headed out to celebrate, starting with dinner. We had reservations at a restaurant that had gotten a lot of buzz and recently, and it was packed. Soon, a crew we knew from another television network was there. Everyone was friendly, some more than others…like their reporter, Jack. Jack was wearing a tight t-shirt with boy-band amounts of product in his tousled hair and he was on the prowl. Jack had roving eyes, a sly smile...and a fiancé. I know, what a jerk! Jack was supposed to get married in a high-profile wedding in a few months...but tonight he wasn’t thinking about Ms. Right…he was looking for Ms. Right Now. After dinner we lost him...for a while. We hit a bar that looked like a Moroccan oasis, lost some money gambling, and watched crowds of people milling outside of the Gwen Stefani concert. We toyed with the idea of getting some tickets and dancing with the Harajuku Girls...but decided that a nightclub was more our scene. We danced and had some delicious cocktail with a lychee in it. In the end I ran out of steam and headed back to my room – the night was over. Not for my producer. She ended up back at her room too -- but fending off Jack's advances, who tried to get in her door! Luckily, we all woke up the next day alone. Apparently Jack's fiancé “woke up” too – a few weeks later she dumped him right before the big day. But back to the morning after…and my hang over. I needed something to eat that met all of my cravings for fat, carbs…and it had to be easy to cook. Here’s the meal that fit all those requirements, my Hangover Cure….
Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas
3 3/4 cups chicken, cooked and shredded 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded 10 (8 inch) flour tortillas Olive oil cooking spray Coat medium non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Place 1/2 cup of chicken evenly in a single-layer on 1 tortilla. Sprinkle evenly with ¾ cup of cheese. Cover with another tortilla. Place filled tortilla in pan. Cover. Cook about 1 minute, or until bottom tortilla is slightly golden and crisp. Flip. Cook without cover about 1. Remove and place in pan in warm oven. Repeat process with remaining ingredients. Cut quesadillas with pizza cutter or kitchen shears into quarters and serve with salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Serves 2.
3 medium tomatoes, chopped into ½ inch cubes 2 green onions, diced 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped Juice of 1 lime 1/2 tsp salt ½ jalapeno pepper, diced In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients. Let sit for 10 minutes. Serves 2.
3 ripe medium avocadoes, peeled and mashed ¼ tsp salt 2 Tbsp lime juice In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. Serves 2.
Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt
I'm no expert on giving birth. I don't have kids. I'm not a doctor. But I've always thought women could be more honest with each other about pregnancy and childbirth. It seems every time I get a woman in her 9th month to move past the platitudes of "I'm feeling fine" or "I love these pregnancy pants" she confides to me that she feels like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and wants nothing more than for her baby to find a new home...outside of her body. My friend Chris was one of these… Her pregnancy was an accident. See, Chris used birth control pills for the first time on her honeymoon, and she didn’t think "Take one every day" really meant "Take one every day". She learned the hard way. Soon, Chris was enduring a round of "Poke and Pester the Pregnant Friend". This is where a group of good natured, childless women, in this case, law students, ooh and aah over a pregnant woman’s belly and force her to spit out statements about how excited she is when the baby kicks her stomach...or how it’s no great burden not to sleep through the night. Joy! When the crowd finally peeled away, I asked Chris how she really was. "Seriously," I added, “pregnancy sounds like the movie Aliens where there's something moving in your stomach and then one day it bursts out...is it like that?" Chris looked at me and said, "You know what? It does feel like that sometimes." "That sucks, I said." We both sighed…then we laughed. This meal is dedicated to Chris, and to the other women out there who spend nine months as an incubator and months afterwards as a refrigerator when they're breast feeding. This is a meal full of delights denied to pregnant and breastfeeding women. For when you can finally say Later, Baby…
Baked Swordfish Baked
2 1/2 lb Swordfish Steaks, 1 inch thick 1/4 tsp salt 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rub steaks with salt and olive oil. Place steaks on oiled broiler pan. Place in oven, bake for 30 minutes, until edges turn slightly golden (fish should flake and no longer be translucent when broken with a fork). Serves 2.
Baby Greens Salad with Blue Cheese
8 oz (1/2 lb) baby greens or Boston lettuce, washed ¼ cup blue cheese, crumbled 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil ½ tsp salt 1/8 tsp black pepper ¼ cup pecans, chopped Heat oven to broil. Place pecans on flat pan, broil until slightly darkened, about 1 minute. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Remove from oven and cool while preparing remainder of the salad. In a small bowl, mix vinegar, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Place greens in large bowl. Pour dressing over greens and toss. Place equal portions into two bowls. Top with cheese and pecans. Serves 2.
Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream with Crumbled Chocolate Espresso Beans
2 large scoops coffee ice cream 10 crushed chocolate covered espresso beans Place 1 scoop of ice cream in martini glass. Sprinkle with espresso beans. Serve immediately.
A Glass of White Wine…or Three
I always marvel at people who get drunk at office parties. I wish I could say with haughty reproach that it's a silly thing to do -- the equivalent, say, of playing Russian roulette with your career, but deep down I have a twinge of admiration for those who just don't give a damn about what happens if they tip the glass at work. I mean, any one of the following can befall you when you've had too many drinks with your colleagues, like: …hooking up with that office mate you've always been attracted to...the one who has been around the block (and has the antibiotics to prove it). …or not realizing that on your last trip to the bathroom your skirt got tucked into your tights...putting your party panties on display... …or laughing way too loud at jokes about your boss while staring not so subtly in his or her direction...cause you're drunk. Tragedies can be prevented...but why bother? Who are we to get in the way of free will? Here’s a dessert for your office party that will help your fellow revelers get their drink on…it’s an Office Party!
Chocolate Rum Balls
12 oz chocolate Chips ¼ cup butter 1 cup flour 1 (14oz) can condensed, sweetened milk 1 tsp rum extract 1 Tbsp vanilla extract 1 cup chopped walnuts Heat oven to 350 degrees. Over medium heat, in a saucepan, melt chocolate and butter. Pour into mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients, mix well.
Place small balls of dough on cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
I Need A Mental Health Day
I know when I need one of these...it usually dawns on me after a conversation like this with my boss: Me: “I just wanted to remind you about that vacation request that I submitted in December. June is coming up and I still haven’t heard back….” Boss: “Uh, I don’t know…I’ll have to check.” Me: “Oh. Well, it’s been six months…” Boss (really saucy): “Yeah, well, we have to get someone to replace you…” …that’s when I realize that I’m talking to someone who takes days off when her dog is sick, when she can’t shovel her car out of the snow, basically, when the whim strikes. I need a mental health day. Here’s where I go…even if it’s just in my mind. …I’m at the beach, it's about 85 degrees, the water is warm, the sun is shining, my main squeeze and I are on beach chairs facing the ocean, and I’m wearing a brown bikini with big pink polka dots. That last part is strange, but true. When I was a kid my mother had the cutest brown bathing suit with pink polka dots...I've wanted my own ever since. Every year, when the catalogs start filling up with suits I tell myself this is the year when I am going to find "the one" – the suit I’ve been dreaming of. No luck so far. At four, I had a hand-me-down suit that came off when I wandered into the surf…at 20 I cried trying on a swim suit in a dressing room …and for the last 5 years I’ve been wearing the same reliable white bikini that covers just what I need it. So I really need to find my dream suit. In the meantime, I’ll fulfill the other parts of my fantasy...its sunset, and we have a cooler with us. Inside are rolls stuffed with the ocean's tasty treat -- lobster...and there's more... Here’s what I eat when I Need A Mental Health Day…
8 oz cooked, shelled lobster meat ¼ cup celery, chopped ¼ cup mayonnaise 2 6-inch bulkie rolls Split the rolls lengthwise. In a bowl, combine the lobster meat, celery and mayonnaise. Stuff into rolls. Wrap in tin foil to transport. Serves 2.
Note: If you have a choice…I prefer lobster claws for my tougher sandwiches versus lobster tails, which are tougher.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 ¾ sticks butter, softened 2 Tbsp vegetable shortening (like Crisco) 3/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup brown sugar 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 1/4 cups flour 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 1 cup walnuts, chopped Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in bowl. In a larger bowl or blender, blend butter, shortening, sugar, and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla to sugar mixture. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture. When completely blended, add chips and walnuts, mixing until just blended. Place 2-inch sized scoops 3 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.
Note: don’t have a food processor? Try a clean coffee grinder grinder – hey, whatever works.
Potato Chips Pickles Sparkling Soda