Roast Your Veggies!

Mr. Man is not a member of the “Clean Plate Club” when it comes to veggies, unless I roast them. Then its true love. The veggies, not me. Although I’m sure he has visions of me slowly roasting over an open fire from time to time.

Pretty much every veggie just seems to get better if you roast it to sweet carmelized goodness. Last night I made a Roasted Veggie Medley of what I had in the fridge: carrots, zucchini, onions & added some potatoes. There are no rules. You can leave out the potatoes, or use sweet potatoes, or add some bell pepper, or cauliflower, whatever floats your boat.

With some Baked Breaded Chicken, it was mighty tasty. Some prep time, but then nothing to do but wait while it cooks. Yummmmm.

baked chicken and veggies

Cast Iron Chef

Again, lots of work today, tired, and not really motivated to make a mess in the kitchen. So I drug out the cast iron skillet.

Throw it all in a skillet. Cook it up. Slap in on a plate. That’s how I roll sometimes. Who needs Hamburger Helper?

Did I mention, I love my cast iron skillet? It’s pretty non-stick, weighs a ton so you can get in a good upper body workout, and it doubles as a defensive weapon. Lodge makes a nice, pre-seasoned 10″ skillet with lid that of course you can get from Amazon. Everybody got one for Christmas last year. Did they appreciate it? Probably not. But nobody could say it didn’t fit!

So tonight it was good old Pork Chop Skillet Dinner. Tomorrow I might actually cook something.

pork chop skillet dinner

 

Cherry Berry Pie

I almost cooked dinner. Well, actually I made tacos and we were about five minutes from chowing down and some friends invited us out to dinner. Their treat. Well, that’s a no-brainer. So everything went in the fridge and tonight’s dinner is all ready to go. Even better.

But I was feeling a little guilty because tacos is what I fix when I don’t feel like cooking. So I made a consolation pie.

See, I figured I could earn some brownie points with Mr. Man; “She only made tacos for dinner, but she made a pie! What a good little wife”. OK, after 37 years of marriage that’s probably not really happening. But I live in hope that I’m appreciated, he lives in hope that I would actually do something nice for him, and in the end, isn’t hope what keeps us going?

So I threw together this Cherry Berry Pie, which is totally fake cooking, but I’m OK with that. It looks like a homemade pie. Tastes like a homemade pie. I invited our friends in for pie and ice cream after we got back from dinner. Score!

Honey/Soy Glazed Chicken

I have a lot of work this week and don’t have time to cook. All I care about is filling an empty place with something that will pretty much cook itself. I make the typical teriyaki chicken, marinated in sauce that takes a bunch of ingredients. But truthfully, it doesn’t taste much better than this quick, three ingredient glaze: equal parts soy sauce, honey, and barbeque sauce. That’s all there is to it. No fuss, no muss, no magic. Except what it tastes like when it’s finished.

I’m using boneless, skinless chicken thighs because that’s what I have on hand. I’ve used chicken pieces, just chicken legs, and it makes an awesome appetizer using chicken wings or just the drummies. The little drummies will keep warm for hours in a crock pot while your party rages on.

So tonight Mom’s cooking Honey/Soy Glazed Chicken. It’s sweet and pretty potent, so just some plain white rice & a side of broccoli goes well. No sweat for me and Mr. Man will be doing his happy dance.

honey soy glazed chicken

Ah…..COFFEE!!!

Oh yeah, I have a serious love affair with coffee. One which my husband does not share. At least he loves the smell, probably because it brings back childhood memories of what home smelled like in the morning.

But coffee has come a long way, baby. I no longer have to drink the stank swill my Mom brewed or settle mystery instant crystals of unknown origin. For me “the best part of waking up isn’t Folger’s in my cup”. I’ve kicked it up a notch with home roasted, yummy goodness!

Keep your muscle cars, your speed boats, your dirt bikes, this is what gets my engine revving every morning, my Fresh Roast SR500.

SR500

I stare transfixed and salivating as it turns hard little green beans that smell like grass into plump, toasted, airy little morsels of goodness in about six minutes. I’m endlessly fascinated, which may say something sad about me, but there you have it.

Lucky for me, our son Jace shares my love of coffee. We’ve had fun trying different coffees from around the world and find we’re partial to coffee from Guatemala, Costa Rica, & Honduras isn’t bad either. You can order organically grown coffee if that’s your deal. I look for coffee that’s washed and dried in raised, covered beds, so hopefully cleaner than the majority that’s dried on the ground.

It’s a fun toy, would make a great gift for that coffee lover who has everything. I bought mine from coffeeproject.com, if you’re interested. Green coffee I usually get from sweetmarias.com.

Coffee, ahhhhhh, that’s what Mom’s cooking this morning!

For The Love Of Spaghetti

My mom’s parents came from Italy, so half of the blood running through my veins is probably spaghetti sauce. My Nonno (grandpa) came to the U.S. when he was 5, but Nonni (grandma) didn’t come until she was 21. So she was always REALLY Italian, old school, F.O.B. Actually, “Nonna” is grandma in Italian, but since ours was less than 5 feet tall, we thought she looked more like a “Nonni”.

Here she is at my wedding. She’s wearing heels, & I’m not!Noni

Noni never learned to drive, so she was always home gardening, cooking, and keeping the cookie jar full. This was handy for me, because she lived just a quick walk across the vineyard from our house. If I timed it right, I could catch the early farmer’s dinner at Noni’s, then head home for the later dinner service at Mom’s.

Both were terrific cooks, which is why Nonni was always telling me with her usual tact and thick Italian accent, “Oh, your butta comma so big!”. Those old Italian women had no filters. My generation has filters, we just choose not to use them because we think we’re funny. Our children are not amused.

Anyway…Nonni sadly died and left us with no written recipes except for persimmon cookies & Italian cake. I decided it was my sacred duty to write down an actual recipe so our family’s version of spaghetti sauce will live on.

All Italians make sauce differently, and all swear their is the best. But of course they’re all wrong, ours is! I give you my detailed instruction for Spaghetti Sauce ala Rosetta Magnone.

 

Whole Life Challenge

Starting May 7th, I’ll be participating in my third Whole Life Challenge sponsored by Livestrong.com. It’s basically a commitment to live a really healthy lifestyle for 8 weeks, with the hope that you’ll be inspired and on track to maintain a healthier lifestyle. It’s pretty tough, but if I can do it, anyone can.

Although the dietary restrictions are pretty severe, it’s not a “diet”. The goal isn’t to lose weight, it’s to be healthier. Part of that is eating better, but also involves a commitment to exercise, stretch, drink more water, get enough sleep, etc.

Because it’s supposed to promote a healthier way of life, it’s also realistic. Nobody’s perfect. If you stick with it you do get bonus points, to take a day off from exercise, have dessert or go out for pizza, or whatever you’re craving.

You keep track of your daily progress, and have the support of your teammates. Personally, I don’t have a prayer of eating healthy all the time. There are just too many good things to eat and life’s too short. But I’ve found I can stick with it for 8 weeks, I do feel better and have more energy, and it does inspire me to keep eating better and exercising more afterward.

Last time around, it was just me and my friend Alicia on team “Country Club”. The most awesome result was Alicia’s little granddaughter also followed along, started making better food choices and exercising more, and lost 14 pounds in just 30 days!

So we’re going around again. If you want to join us you can sign up at http://www.wholelifechallenge.com. and join us on team “Country Club”. Misery loves company. (There is a fee, but it’s worth it.)

Guess we’d better make some pretzels before the 7th!

For The Carnivore

Tri-tip Sandwiches cropped

My husband Merl likes meat, meat, and more meat. His idea of eating veggies is putting lettuce and tomato on his burger. He’ll hardly eat a salad unless it’s covered in Thousand Island dressing, topped with croutons, and doesn’t have any of those “radical” vegetables like cucumbers or beets…or even avocados! I don’t know how we’ve stayed married for almost 37 years. Probably because like when we ate lunch out yesterday, he had his thing & I had a salad.

So having had my salad for the day, I made his favorite carnivore Tri-Tip Sandwiches for dinner (with a side of coleslaw which he’ll eat because it’s sweet and therefore has seemingly no redeeming value). The real plus here is if he wants to eat, he has to go out and grill the meat. I’m already Queen of the Kitchen, I refuse to be Princess of the Grill too. Remember, if you do a job well, it’s yours for life. So my advice ladies is just keep feigning incompetence where the grill is concerned. You’re doing him a favor. A man has to have his pride after all!

Although this really isn’t much of a recipe, nobody else make them like this, and it’s a lot faster than having to grill a whole tri-tip just to make a sandwich. Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

chicken pot pie

OK, I’m almost ashamed to say this is what we’re having for dinner. I’ve been trying to cook healthier, less fattening things. But there’s leftover rotisserie chicken from last night’s dinner, and I’ll be taking part in the next Whole Life Challenge starting in May (more on that later), so I figure I’ll just go for it. When I pass a mirror, I’ll just tell myself “Eyes up here. Don’t look down”. Ignorance is bliss and denial is a way of life.

Guilt aside, this chicken pie is glorious and easy! The recipe makes three nice sized pies, so with a side salad of greens or fruit, you’ll be porked to the gills. Or on occasion, full disclosure, since there are only two of us at home anymore, sometimes I just divide this up into two giant pies and we eat ourselves into a coma while we listen to the sound of our arteries slamming shut. My “Chicken Pot Pie” recipe is listed with Chicken dishes.

 

In Praise of the Rotisserie Oven!

I had to work today and just didn’t have time to fuss with dinner. If it was up to me, I’d just have a salad or scrounge some leftovers. Unfortunately, yesterday my great hunter went foraging at the grocery story. He bagged a chicken, antibiotic free, air chilled, probably massaged by nuns. Threw it in the cart, drug it home, and proudly presented it to me with hopes for an awesome dinner tonight. Well gee, when he worked so hard bringing home the bacon as it were, the least I could do it make all his dreams come true. Not.

So tonight I relied on my awesome Ron Popeil, Showtime Rositterie, “Set it and forget it” oven. Admittedly I’m queen of the unitaskers, but this little oven really works as advertised. I just rubbed the chicken down with my favorite rub (which I’ll give you the recipe for), trussed it up like a prisoner of war, and left it in the oven to do it’s thing while I did my thing.

Now, if you don’t have a magic oven, this rub is awesome for beer can chicken. If you don’t have a grill you could try cooking a beer can chicken in the oven, or maybe try just baking your chicken on a raised rack set above a drip pan. I’ve never tried it, but don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

To go with the chicken, I made fry-baker potatoes and corn on the cob, all easy peasy and pretty healthy. Unless you’re vegan, in which case you’re making a cross with your fingers and hissing at me. But I can live with that. I had yummy dinner cooking itself while I worked!

And here you have it. Mr Man was totally thrilled with his dinner.rosisserie chicken, fry bakers, corn

You’ll find “My Favorite Rub” recipe in the Condiments section of the menu. We’ll be using this rub for other things in the future! You’ll find instructions to “Beer Can Chicken” in the Chicken section, and “Fry-Baker Potatoes” can be found under Sides.