General Update (Posted 11/27/2012)

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend.  We saw Skyfall (typical Bond fare) and watched Breaking Dawn Part 1 (I will wait for part 2 on DVD; wow…a great book made into a mediocre movie!).

I saw a black squirrel in the yard this AM.  I have never seen a black squirrel before.  I have seen a couple albino ones, but not the black.

David's mom is doing well.  She will be 96 in about 7 weeks.  Sometimes she asks how old she is and when you tell her 95, she says "NO!"  or "Really?"  Sometimes she just says "I am getting up there".  She is happy in the moment, and for that we are grateful.

We just had pictures taken by Topshots Photography (check out our new pics on LinkedIn).  The photog is an IT guy with whom I worked back in the day.  He has a very easy relaxed style. 

The big question is how many trees will I decorate in the house this year….stay tuned.  There are possibly 4 (one is pink, of course; one is Star Trek, btw).  Stay tuned for pics and updates on that.

More as it happens…

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David’s Mom To Leave Hospital – LATEST INFO

David’s mom got out of the hospital today (Friday), exactly 1 week from the day she went to the emergency room after her fall.  When I spoke with her, she sounded rested and happy and so well!  She seems to have bounced back as best as could be expected!  Thanks for everyone’s concern.

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We just heard that David’s mom will be getting out of the hospital today or tomorrow. She has continued to improve. We expect to speak to her tomorrow (we couldn’t talk to her while she was in the hospital), so stay tuned for more info soon!

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Breakfast Strata

Katie Says

This is a super-easy Breakfast casserole that you can make the night before.  It makes 12 servingsThis holds up well on a buffet table and can easily be microwaved.

This has been a big hit when I made it for my co-workers!!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound each of prepared meat and vegetable =OR= 1 pound each of 2 prepared vegetables (see below)
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 quart of half and half (I have substituted part with Fat Free milk, part half & half and even part Fat Free half & half)
  • Salt and several grinds of pepper
  • 12 slices cheap/fluffy white bread (works best)
  • 3 cups of shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I have used sharp, longhorn, Colby, Mexican blend—just about any cheese you like will work)
  • ½ cup green onions, thinly sliced (about 3 medium)

Instructions 

  1. Prepare the meat and/or vegetables. (See below.)
  2. Whisk the eggs, half & half, salt and pepper until smooth.
  3. Spray a 9×13 inch Pyrex or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. (The deeper the dish, the better.)
  4. Line the bottom with 6 whole slices of bread. (Tear as necessary to fit into bottom)
  5. Scatter half of each the meat and/or vegetables over the bread.
  6. Scatter half the cheese as the next layer.
  7. Sprinkle half the green onions as the next layer.
  8. Pour 1 cup of the egg mixture over the layers.
  9. Repeat for the remaining layers:
  10. 6 slices of bread
  11. The remaining meat and/or vegetable
  12. The remaining cheese
  13. Scatter the remaining green onions on top.
  14. Slowly pour the remaining egg mixture evenly over it all.
  15. Cover with plastic wrap, then put 3 16 oz cans on top of it to weigh it down. Refrigerate for 15 mins (or it can be refrigerated overnight). If refrigerated overnight, remove it 30-60 minutes ahead of cooking to take the chill off.
  16. Adjust oven rack to middle position.
  17. Bake in an oven preheated to 325 degrees until the custard is just set, about 50 minutes.
  18. Optional: Brown under the broiler for a few minutes until the top is brown and puffy, about 5 minutes (watch carefully!).

  19. Let stand for 10 minutes, then serve.

Vegetable Options

  • Mushrooms or bell peppers
    1. Slice and sauté in 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
    2. Salt
  • Asparagus
    1. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
    2. Steam, covered, with 1 Tablespoon oil, salt and 1/3 cup water, 3-4 minutes.
    3. Uncover and cook off liquid.
  • Frozen corn
    1. Thaw and drain.
  • Baby Spinach
    1. Steam, covered, with 1 Tablespoon oil and salt until wilted, 3-4 minutes.
    2. Drain.

Meat Options

  • Bacon
    1. Cut into ½-inch pieces and fry until crisp.
    2. Drain well.
  • Sausage
    1. Fry bulk breakfast or Italian sausage until fully cooked.
    2. Drain.
  • Ham
    1. Cut into small dice.
  • Kielbasa/Smoked sausage
    1. Thinly slice.
  • Crab
    1. Pick over pasteurized backfin crab for shell and cartilage. 
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Pork Chops with Bok Choy and Rice Noodles

Katie Says

This is very easy and David loves it!  I have made it using sliced pork tenderloin and chops, and they both are good!

Serves 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 package (6 to 8 ounces) rice noodles
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 boneless center-cut pork chops, (about 6 ounces each)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 large bok choy, (about 2 pounds), trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch strips, and washed (with some water still clinging to leaves)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 piece (about 2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • Pork Chops with Bok Choy and Rice Noodles
                                         

Instructions

  1.  In a large bowl of hot tap water, soak noodles until soft, 10 to 15 minutes; drain and set aside
  2. Meanwhile, make sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and red-pepper flakes; set aside. 
  3. In a large skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium-high. 
  4. Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
  5. Place in skillet, and cook, turning once, until opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  6. Transfer chops to a plate; loosely cover with aluminum foil, and set aside. 
  7. To skillet, add bok choy, scallion whites, garlic, and ginger.
  8. Cover and cook, tossing occasionally, until bok choy stems are crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  9. Add noodles and sauce from step 1.
  10. Cook, tossing gently, until noodles are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  11. Thinly slice pork chops.
  12. Serve on top of noodles, and sprinkle with scallion greens.
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Brajole

Katie says

These are Italian style stuffed beef rolls that can be served as either a side dish or a main course. They are also quite suitable as appetizers or to serve for a party dish.

We investigated this recipe after seeing an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond”…it was the first and only thing that Debra ever made that was good!  We wanted to know more, so we have made it a few times.  (My first attempt was tasted by an Italian friend, and he said it was exactly right!)  It is rich, but very good.  Serve it with a side of spaghetti and garlic bread!  Mangiare!

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. Rump roast, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick across grain.
  • Stuffing (see below).
  • Marinara Sauce (see below).
  • 2 tbsp. Olive oil.

Instructions

  1. Brown the slices of beef in a skillet with the olive oil and set aside.
  2. Once the slices have been browned, fill with stuffing and hold together with a toothpick.
  3. Arrange the rolls in a baking dish and cover well with the Marinara sauce (bottled, your own recipe or use the one below). 
  4. Cover the dish. 
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 1½ hours and serve.

Stuffing

Ingredients

  • Use a basic turkey like stuffing as follows
  • 2 oz. regular bread cubes plus cornbread cubes, with seasoning mix.
  • 4 oz. pine-nuts.
  • 3 stalks celery.
  • 1 diced onion.
  • 1 diced apple.

Instructions

  1. First brown the nuts and other ingredients in a saucepan so they soften and the flavors blend.
  2. Add the seasoning mix before putting into the bread and add broth as directed. You want medium moisture content.

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil.
  • 4 cloves pressed garlic.
  • 1 medium onion, diced.
  • 1 tbsp. oregano.
  • 1 tbsp. sweet basil.
  • 1½ tsp. tarragon.
  • 1 tsp. thyme.
  • 1 tsp. sage.
  • 3T dried parsley.
  • 1 tsp. savory.
  • salt & pepper to taste.
  • 1 small can tomato paste.
  • 32 oz. tomato sauce.
  • 16 oz. crushed tomatoes.
  • two cans Italian style stewed tomatoes or 4 cups fresh chopped roma tomatoes.
  • ¾ cup thin 1″ slices bell pepper (yellow or red preferred).
  • 1½ cups sliced mushrooms.
  • 1 16 oz can olives chopped.
  • ¾ cup zucchini (optional).
  • 1 tsp. baking soda.
  • 1½ tbsp. brown sugar.
  • ½-1 cup red wine.
  • 4 to 6 Italian sausages (hot or mild to taste).

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, pour the olive oil, onions, garlic, and spices.
  2. Saute ingredients to break the flavor.
  3. Add tomato paste and continue to saute for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and chopped tomatoes.
  5. Next, add peppers, mushrooms and chopped olives.
  6. Then add baking soda, brown sugar and red wine.
  7. Brown 4-6 Italian sausages in a skillet (I like few hot, few regular), and add them to the sauce.
  8. Cook the sauce for at least two hours before serving.
  9. This sauce can be used on pasta of any type, or on top of other dishes manicotti. You can double this batch and freeze some for later.

• Yields: 12 servings
• Preparation Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Posted in Dinner, In The Kitchen | 1 Comment

Asparagus Casserole

Katie says

This is a favorite for the holidays.  It is very rich, and asparagus is the Cadillac of veggies!

Ingredients

  • 1 can asparagus
  • 1 can Leseur early green peas
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 small can condensed milk (evaporated milk)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ stick butter or margarine
  • 3 slices bread or ¼ to ½ cup of breadcrumbs
  • parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Place bread directly on oven rack on low heat while preparing other ingredients.
  2. Drain all canned vegetables and die water chestnuts.
  3. Combine margarine, soup and milk in a saucepan on medium low heat until smooth
  4. Layer asparagus, water chestnuts, then peas in a small casserole dish.
  5. Pour soup mixture over vegetables and cover with a generous layer of parmesan cheese.  
  6. Crush the dried bread in a sandwich bag and cover the top.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until the breadcrumbs are nice and brown.
Posted in Dinner, In The Kitchen | 4 Comments

Jamaican Fried Chicken

Katie Says

Makes 4-6 servings – Crunchy and moist…this is delicious fried chicken!

Ingredients

  • 2 2½ to 3 pound fryers, cut in eighths -OR- 4-6 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup dark Jamaican rum (regular or spiced)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ teaspoon minced ginger
  • Flour for breading
  • Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
  • Shortening (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wipe the chicken pieces with a clean damp towel and place them in a deep, glass mixing bowl.
  2. Combine the rum, oil, soy sauce, egg white and ginger and pour over the chicken.
  3. Cover loosely and marinate for at least 2 hours, turning pieces once or twice. 
  4. Drain each piece momentarily.  Roll in flour and shake off excess.  
  5. Fry in about 1inch hot oil (with a little shortening added) until the chicken is tender and nicely brown on all sides.
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Penne with Sausage and Roasted Pepper Sauce

Katie says

This is a Weight Watchers recipe that we just love.  And, it is very easy to make. 

  • Yield:  4 servings
  • Points:  7

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked penne or other tube-shaped pasta
  • 6 oz 50%-less-fat pork sausage (such as Jimmy Dean)
  • 1 ¼ cups bottled spaghetti sauce
  • ½ cup diced bottled roasted red bell peppers
  • ¾ teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.   Drain well.
  2. While pasta cooks, cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until brown; stir to crumble.  Drain.
  3. Add spaghetti sauce and bell peppers to pan; bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until slightly thick.
  5. Remove from heat; stir in sugar and salt.  Cover and let stand 3 minutes.  Serve over pasta. 
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Seven Layer Dip

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 small cans (15-16 oz.) Refried beans
  • 8 oz. Guacamole
  • 16 oz. Sour Cream mixed with 1 package of taco seasoning
  • 2-3 diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese
  • 1 bunch of sliced green onion tops
  • 1 small can of sliced or diced black olives

INSTRUCTIONS

You can make it one of two ways:

  1. Grease a fluted pan well with mayonnaise and layer each ingredient, beginning with the olives and working up to the beans. 
  2. Chill well in the refrigerator for a few hours. 
  3. Remove, then run a knife or spatula around the sides before turning out onto a platter.

–OR–

  1. In a casserole dish, tray (or perhaps a springform pan), layer each ingredient, beginning with the refried beans and working up to the olives.

Serve the dip with tortilla chips.

Posted in Dinner, In The Kitchen | 2 Comments

Pork with Tuscan Beans

Katie Says

A Weight Watchers recipe; nice served with crusty bread.

Yield:  4 servings
Points:  5

1 starch
1 vegetable
3 ½ very lean meat

Inredients

  • 1 (1) pound marinated pork tenderloin
  • Coking spray
  • 1 (15.8 oz) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped pitted kalamata olives or chopped ripe olives
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

 Instructions

  1. Remove the tenderloin from package, discarding marinade. 
  2. Slice pork diagonally across grain into 1/2 –inch-thick slices
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spary over med-high heat.  Add half of pork, and cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove pork; keep warm.  Repeat procedure with remaining pork.
  4. NOTE:  I cook some chopped onion now.
  5. Return pork to pan.  Add beans and remaining ingredients to pan.  Bring to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or heated through. 
  6. NOTE:  I cook it for 10-15 minutes with the lid off on low, to get it to thicken up
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