Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Giant Greek(?) Beans

Have any of you had these giant beans? They look like lima beans (or sieva beans (pronounced sivvy) as they call them in the south) on steroids. My sister brought a jar of them on vacation this summer and they had a skin on them. They were in a brine. I can't remember what they were called but they were good. Then yesterday I am in the grocery store and at the olive bar they have them. They were marinated in a bit of olive oil with roasted red peppers and some spices but are oh so good. Not sure what to do with them other than to snack on them or add a few to a salad? Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

I googled the term giant beans and colossal beans and the only thing I could find was giant Greek beans, hence the title. Today I am working in my son's preschool class as it is picture day so I expect a crazy morning. Now with a bunch of 4-year olds dressed their best and beans this tasty Life is Good!

Spinach and prosciutto lasagna & a whole lotta nothing

I a so busy this week! I am in charge of the Halloween carnival at my son's preschool and I am hosting a dinner party this weekend. (I need to come up with a menu YIKES!). I am also in the starting stages of a home remodel! We are tearing out our floors downstairs and also redoing the kitchen! My dream. The cabinet guy is coming over this morning to measure the kitchen. We picked out our floor wood color but might change it depending on the cabinets and counter tops we choose. I also replaced the 2 ceiling fans in our downstairs family room with these beautiful wood ones that has blades that look like large leaves! My house is finally starting to come together and we have only lived here 4+ years.

Last night I made a recipe from the most recent Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine. I love this magazine and have made many things from it. Me and my husband loved this but the kids picked out the spinach. The love lots of veggies but apparently spinach is not one of them. My son thought it was celery and ate a good portion but my daughter did the tongue out gag from the texture. Makes a mom/cook feel real good when that happens (sarcasm!).

While I thought it was good I would make it again, I would make it without the prosciutto the next time. You could not taste the prosciutto and therefore, to me, makes it a waste of calories and money. I served this with a side salad of arugul with very thin sliced red onion, dried cranberries and a tiny bit of goat cheese with balsamic vinegar and a tiny bit of olive oil. The salad was awesome!

Spinach and Prosciutto Lasagna
Martha Stewart Everyday Food Magazine Issue 65, October 2008

It is important to squeeze the spinach dry, or the lasagna may be watery
2 packages (10 oz each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta
1 garlic clove, minced
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 1/2 cups jarred tomato sauce
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
6 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (4 oz)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Make filling: In a medium bowl, stir together spinach, ricotta, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper; set aside. In another bowl, stir together tomato sauce and prosciutto

2. in an 8-inch square baking dish, spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Layer 2 noodles, 1/3 filling, and 1/3 remaining tomato sauce; repeat twice. Top with mozzarella. Bake until brown 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

There are so many good recipes in this magazine. Tomorrow night I am making the crock pot stuffed peppers (have cous cous in the stuffing and sound good and easy. I will let you know!)

My life is extremely busy right now but regardless, Life is Good!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ode to other food blogs and fellow foodies

We ate baked chicken last night that I stuffed with an onion and about 4 large stalks of rosemary. It was divine. No pictures. Nothing exciting. But I highly recommend using stalks of rosemary for chicken stuffing and with roasting potatoes. Next time I make them I will photograph and write the recipes.

Today I am listing some great blogs I have found recently. Blogs I found because they either visited me or someone exited their page and came to my blog. I am just beside myself with the traffic I have received from Foodbuzz and the Foodie Blogroll and the fact that I was a random contest winner was a bonus for traffic. Oh and someone from Martha Stewart Living visited but they were searching to see who had used the term Everyday Food. Hoping they liked what they saw!

The Hungry Housewife - check out the cute kid friendly stuff

Chez LaFleur in Manhattan - the chicken tortilla soup and she had a post on the Feast of San Gennaro festival. Oh how I miss living where there are other Italians!

Daily Deliciousness - for the love of French onion soup!

The Sporadic Cook - my kind of food!

Cara's Cravings - check out the perfect little cupcake pops! They are too cute.

Cooking in the Heartland - She is also getting in shape so I don't have to be the only food blogger that is trying to slim down!

Elegantly Domesticated - I Pray to Gouda- anyone with an addiction to cheese is a friend of mine.

And many more. Those are just a few of the great blogs that people were reading before they came to my blog.

Life is Good!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Penne Puttanesca & Brussel Sprouts

I had friends over for dinner last night so the only photo I have is of the ingredients before I started cooking! We drank perseco (Italian champaign) and a nice Chiani and by the time dinner was ready pictures had slipped my mind.

Dinner was awesome. The penne puttanesca is a recipe from a friend that was actually eating with us last night. It is my sons Godfather. He is a incredible cook and used to come over and make this for us until I made him give me the recipe and I have been doing the cooking ever since. It is messy and I prefer to clean up as I go and when he would come over the dishes would pile up and it would be a long cleanup after dinner. Talk about beggars being choosers! I do appreciate when someone comes into my house to cook. Love it. But since I can make the meal just as good and clean up along the way I am somehow happier.

The brussel sprouts are probably the best that I have ever had. I got them from Judy at No Fear Entertaining but she adapted the recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen. Click on either of their names to get the recipe. They were awesome and I recommend them to anyone whether you like brussel sprouts or not!

Uncle Trey's Penne Puttanesca

1lb pasta
3tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 medium white onion (small/medium dice)
3-4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/4 cup capers (straine)
1/4cup kalamata olives (strained, pitted, rough chopped)
2-28 oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes (chopped) -reserve liquid
3 anchovy fillets (I use the whole can!)
1 cup white wine (or chicken stock)

Heat big saute pan to medium high add EVOO and onion. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add garlic and anchovy fillets (I put them in the food processor for a quick spin first since I use the whole can) continue sauteing (I'm sure that is a word) until anchovies have dissolved and onions are transluscent. Reduce heat tomedum/medium low and add liquid from can tomatoes - reduce liquid by 1/4 while stirring occasionally. Add crushd red pepper lakes, kalamata olives, capers and chopped tomatoes. Reduce again by 1/4 while stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup white wine (obviously any kind will wok) - redce again by 1/4 while stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to tast.

Boil noodles to al dente. Before straining pasta add 1/4-1/2 cup of noodle water to tomato sauce andstir to incorporate. Strain pasta and add to sauce - lightly coss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmagianno regianno.

Share/Eat/Enjoy...Now Life is Good! Manga!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pork Chops Alla Pizzaiolla

I wanted to try a new recipe last night from my new issue of Everyday Food but did not leave the house (thank heaven for car pools) so I went with an old standard with ingredients I had on hand. What I came up with was pork chops alla pizzaiolla. The first time I made this was a few years ago as I had seen Giada DeLaurentis make it on The Food Network. It is so easy and good and actually low in fat and calories. I had a baby green salad on the side and it was a satisfying dinner.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork loin center-cut chops (about 12 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, in juice
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook until they are brown and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted horizontally into the pork registers 160 degrees F, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil to keep them warm.

Add the onion to the same skillet and saute over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juices, herbes de Provence, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend and the juices thicken slightly, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and more red pepper flakes.

Return the pork chops and any accumulated juices from the plate to the skillet and turn the pork chops to coat with the sauce. Place 1 pork chop on each plate. Spoon the sauce over the pork chops. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Oops I took the picture before I sprinkled the oregano and a little fresh parmagianno reggiano on top. My husband ate 2! I am an awful food photographer but a wonderful cook! Tonight I am making penne puttanesca with these brussel sprouts I got from Judy at No Fear Entertaining. Although for some reason I thought there was bacon in them and decided on pancetta but now that I am actually printing the recipe I see I was wrong. I will let you know how it all goes. Now Life is Good!

My little helper in his apron!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Refried bean quesadilla & vinegar peppers

Am I the only one that loves beans? Beans glorious beans. Dried beans, canned beans, fresh beans. Black beans, kidney beans, canellini beans, chick peas (I consider these a bean!), refried beans. I have many cans and bags of beans in my cabinet (leftover hurricane supplies) and I am so lucky that my regular grocery store, Harris Teeter, now carries their HT Natural organic store brand, so they are more cost effective on a tight budget.

I am still counting Weight Watchers points and I was starving today as I didn't really eat dinner last night since I had to go for a SCUBA refresher course in order to dive with the dive operation that the Disney Cruise uses. Since I haven't done any diving since I started having children I had to go and spend 2 hours in the pool with a dive instructor going over the basics of SCUBA diving. It was fun but I did not bring my wet suit and only had on a thin skin suit and by the end of the evening I was freezing in the 82 degree water. Oh back to me being starving.

I am looking in my kitchen for something to eat for lunch and still have tortillas and I had a small amount of lowfat cheese and then the can of refried beans started calling me. Linda how about us! We would be great on a quesadilla! So I caved in. I opened the can of refried beans, could have just eaten the whole can of beans for lunch but I am sure my stomach would have been yelling at me later! I put the tortilla in the hot pan and put the cheese on it, I should have spread the beans on it like peanut butter as I think it would have been smoother and cleaner, but I put some refried beans and then about 2 tablespoons of low fat organic ground beef that I browned the other night and then I put 3 vinegar peppers, didn't have a jalapenos.

It was soooo good. Creamy and gooey and healthy. A very filling lunch (I didn't eat the whole thing!) and I imagine I won't have to eat again all day but since I am trying a new recipe for dinner I guess I will force myself later on!

Now on to the vinegar peppers. I was reading one of my favorite blogs by Judy at No Fear Entertaining and she mentioned that before she had met her husband she had never had rice and gravy and that Jenn The Leftover Queen had never had it as well. I confess. Before I met my southern husband I had never had rice and gravy. I actually had never had white rice except with Chinese food. We were Italian. We never ate rice. It was a real treat about once a year we got Rice A Roni (the San Francisco treat - can't say that product without the song coming into my head which is why I think we thought we liked it as kids) which in all honesty is not really rice. So if I do make rice it is a must to make gravy.

I digress, the other southern thing that my husband must always have is vinegar and peppers. He eats them with everything. Every year we grow peppers and every year he sticks them in vinegar and then eats from the jars all year! He even eats them with my Italian food. But they are actually very tasty. I use them instead of jalapenos (although last year we grew jalapenos and I miss them this year :-() in some recipes and if we are having Mexican inspired food I will eat them. It truly is simple.

Vinegar Peppers

Clean the peppers
Place peppers in a large top jar (so you can get them out easily)
cover with vinegar
Place in pantry for a few weeks so that they can soak up the vinegar and then start eating them. Once we start eating them I place ours in the refrigerator. Not sure why as vinegar is not refrigerated but it just seems right.

Now with stick to your ribs healthy food Life is Good!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Very Berry Bread & Foodie Blogroll Contest Winner

Wow! I got home last night from open house at the boys preschool and in my inbox was an email from the people at Foodie Blogroll that I had randomly won the new member of the week contest. I am getting a button in the mail and they sent the cute little picture that is on the side. I will be featured on the site for an entire week! What an awesome site Foodbuzz is and a great way to check out other food blogs. I have already made 2 recipes I found from people that exited a page and came to my blog by clicking on the Foodie Blogroll. I feel lucky now!!!

Yesterday I went through my pantry and had 2 boxes of Fiber One Cinnamon Apple muffin mix. I got them at buy one get one free and it was triple coupons and I had 2 separate $0.75 coupons so basically store paid me to take them off their hands. Now I am a muffin from scratch kind of gal, Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book is what I use for my favorite muffin/breakfast bread recipe, but I had to go out last night so I knew I didn't have too much extra time. I also had a no sugar added individual serving of apple sauce and knew I could use that instead of oil to make it lower in fat and healthier (I am all about substituting good for bad.)

I used the recipe on the box but instead of oil I decreased the water to a 1/2 cup and added 1/4 cup of apple sauce (well I doubled the recipe but the measurements above are for one box!) and instead of 2 eggs I used 2 egg whites (no Weight Watchers points in egg whites!). When I had all the ingredients in the bowl, I mixed them together and added dried blueberries, dried cranberries, raisins and 1/4 cup of bran (for extra fiber!). Yummo. These turned out so good. I made 2 small loaves and 1large loaf and for 2 points can have a nice slice of the bread and get the internal body working in the morning. And the best part is that my daughter ate a piece for dessert last night. She will only eat "very berry bread" and I told her that is what it was and she was a happy camper!

Now when your child has such a healthy low fat dessert Life is Good! But yikes I need to get my butcher block sanded!!!

My all time favorite cook book for the basics.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Last night I made a recipe that I found on another blog. I found Wholesome Feasts through my statcounter as someone had clicked on my name in the Foodie Blogroll and come to check out my blog. The meal was awesome. So low fat and low in Weight Watchers points and so yummy, if you like spicy. Buffalo Chicken Meatballs were easy to make and the blogger said she got the recipe from a Rachael Ray cookbook. Not sure which one. I served it with celery and reduced fat blue cheese salad dressing and black beans and rice. (My husband always needs a starch and since it was so low in points I figured I would add some low fat rice with high fiber black beans!).

You can either click on Wholesome Feasts link above or I have included the recipe below.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs (italicized words are my comments)

1 pound ground white meat chicken (I used Smart Chicken which is my favorite! 99% fat free)
1/2 small onion,grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup hot sauce (such as Frank’s) (I used Frank's as this is one of my favorites as well)
Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken with the onion, garlic and parsley, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using a small ice cream scoop (I shaped them by hand), shape meat into balls. Arrange the meatballs on a nonstick sheet pan and drizzle them with EVOO. Place in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. While the meatballs are baking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the hot sauce and whisk to combine. Toss the baked meatballs in the hot sauce to coat. Serve with celery and blue cheese (I used blue cheese dressing).

I cheated on the black beans and rice and used Zataran's as I had the box in my pantry. It was good. Not a fan of boxed rices and pastas but in a pinch this was excellent. I did put vinegar peppers with the rice to give it an extra oomph and some additional flavors.

Now I still have all those hot peppers and wondering what to do with them!

After a great easy meal like that Life is Good!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Turkey Rollups & Hot Peppers

Today I power walked 6 miles back and forth over the Cooper River Bridge. I did not eat before I left. Needless to say when I got home from picking up the boy from school I was starving. I really was ready to eat my shoe! I looked in the fridge and saw I had some turkey, Sargento reduced fat provolone cheese (1 Weight Watcher point each!) and some tortillas and thought, hmmm maybe I could make those little roll up sandwiches that were at a kids birthday party this weekend.

I took the tortilla and smeared the tiniest bit of reduced fat Dukes Mayonnaise on it (to keep it together) and took 2 slices of turkey, a slice of cheese and some organic mesclun greens that I had. I rolled it up and smooshed it (to keep it together) and then cut it into 3/4 - 1 inch thick slices. I put some mustard on the side to dip it in and it was actually very filling. I enjoyed it.

Last night I made a recipe that I found on another blog. It was good but was not pretty so that is why you are not hearing about that. Tonight I am also trying a recipe I got from another blog and will let you know how it goes. The blogger told me that she got it from a Rachael Ray cookbook. It looks interested. Tune in tomorrow!!!

Now who can tell me what to do with all these hot peppers? Do I dry them and then put them in the spice grinder for sprinkling on food in the future? We have way too many bottles of vinegar with hot peppers (my husband is southern so this accompanies every meal he eats - I am the only yankee in the family!) so I am left with a bunch of these that I don't want to go bad.

I also have a Thai pepper plant in the backyard and not sure what to do with those. Any ideas are greatly appreciated. And why do these peppers grow up?

Oh and for a little comedy, this blue crab was stuck through the mail slot of my parents front door in downtown Charleston on Friday night! I went there on Saturday morning (after a kids birthday party) to get something for them, as they are out of town until the end of the month, and there in the front hallway was this little blue crab. Can't imagine what the house would have smelled like if I didn't go down there. So I imagine my dad is glad he forgot the power cord to his computer and had me send it to him.
That is another reason that Life is Good

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Foodbuzz and Foodie Blogroll

WOW! I am so excited. My blog was accepted for the Foodie Blogroll by Foodbuzz. I am so honored! Today my blog is listed in the most recent 5 blogs! Make sure to check out the other blogs on the list. They are great.

My traffic has increased tremendously due to this listing! I am so happy that people around the world are able to see what I have to cook for them.

To all my new readers and visitors, welcome! I hope you come back to enjoy the food I cook. I enjoy cooking almost as much as I enjoy talking! It is a passion that I got from my mother who is probably the best cook I know.

Enjoy your weekend and I will be back on Monday with something new.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cannelini Beans & Meat Sauce

Ok so I am trying t lose 8 pounds before we go on our big Disney Cruise in November. When I eat only 6 points during the day my brain is a little foggy and I truly come up with crazy ideas for things to eat.

Yesterday I was emailing with a friend about recipes and she indicated she had something in her crockpot and I thought "mmmmm it would be great to have a nice smelling crockpot house." So I went to the freezer and found some ground buffalo (you can use ground beef) and it is so lean and organic and I love this stuff and some italian sausage that came from the butcher. I browned the ground meat and sausage and in the crockpot put 2 jars of pasta sauce (yes people sometimes I use jars, although only when not entertaining) and then added the meat. I did not put any onions or other things as then the kids won't eat it. I cooked that all day. Oh and I used the Reynolds Slow Cooker liners and these are the greatest invention in the world!

I also had a bag of dried cannelini beans and thought "rather than eat pasta how about beans!" Great fiber, low fat! Again what was I thinking. So I cleaned the beans and placed them in about 6 cups of water with chopped onion, a raw sausage, and salt and pepper to taste. I brought it to a boil and then simmered for about 3 hours.

Can I tell you how divine my house smelled? My house smelled divine!!

I made whole wheat penne pasta with fresh mozzarella for the kids as I know they wouldn't eat the beans.

Originally I was going to eat the beans and just have a dollop of the sauce on the side but instead I put the sauce in the middle of the beans with a small slice of fresh mozzarella and it was really good. See what the brain does when it is in diet mode!!

I had 2 satisfied customers, see the sauce all over their faces? And really that is what it is all about. Now Life is Good!

Disclaimer: Both pictures of the children were taken by 6 year old and her self portrait was taken upside down!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cheater Lasagna

OK I am going to share a secret. I use this one for when someone has a baby or someone passes away, etc. It is my go to recipe as it is so easy and can be thrown together quickly. I usually put a loaf of garlic bread and salad with it and a quick dessert and bring it to whomever. And when I make it I also make one for my family. It is really lasagna but without the extra trouble and mess with the ricotta cheese!

Easy Ravioli Lasagna (aka cheater lasagna)

2-3 bags frozen Celentano cheese ravioli (or other brand)
1 lb lean ground beef (optional)
1-2 jars favorite tomato sauce
1-2 bags part skim mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Brown the beef in a pan and add the sauce so that it can soak up some of the flavors. In a casserole dish or tin foil pan (that way you don’t have to clean up!) put some tomato sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of the frozen ravioli (still frozen and uncooked!) add more sauce on top to cover and then add mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Continue layering, making sure to use enough tomato sauce so that it can cook the ravioli. The top layer ends in mozzarella cheese with a sprinkle of parmesan (I usually have 3 layers). Put in oven on 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour, until cooked and warmed throughout.

Enjoy and put your feet up! With easy recipes like this Life is Always Good!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Marvelous Meatloaf

Just the word meatloaf conjures up great memories of my childhood. We did not have the regular meatloaf that most Americans eat but we had what my Mom called Sicilian meatloaf. It was stuffed/rolled with prosciutto and provolone cheese and is still a favorite. Last night I did my best to pull this off with ground 99% fat free chicken and low fat sliced turkey and reduced fat provolone cheese. It was a hit. I served it with an arugula salad with goat cheese (feta for the kids) and had a nice low points, great tasting meal.

My daughter Lucy basically made the meatloaf. I bulked it up with celery, carrots and fresh home grown tomatoes and the entire family loved it. I like to do this with different types of vegetables so that the kids get an extra serving of veggies without them knowing (although they will eat salad until the cows come home.) And to top it all off it was only 3 Weight Watchers points per slice. Now it doesn't get any better than that!

Chicken Meatloaf

1 lb 99% fat free ground chicken (you can use beef or turkey)
2 medium sized carrots peeled
2 stalks celery
1 medium tomato
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese
Bread crumbs (I used some double fiber bread I had)
2 eggs
tomato paste or ketchup

Each seasoning to your taste
garlic powder
onion powder
salt and pepper

Put the carrots, celery and tomato in the food processor and grind up until pureed. Put in a mesh strainer and drain the liquid out.

In bowl combine the ground meat, pureed vegetables, bread crumbs, eggs, tomato paste/ketchup and mix until blended. Add seasonings and mix again. Place a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. If you use aluminum foil spray it with Pam. Place the meat mixture on the sheet and spread out so that it is rectangular and about 1/2 inch thick. Layer the provolone cheese on top of the meat (kind of like covering a pizza) and then add a layer of the turkey breast or prosciutto. Take the end closest to you and start rolling like a roll cake until it is completely rolled and pinch the seam closed. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes (depending on thickness of loaf).

When I make the real Sicilian meatloaf (usually in the winter) I will surely post it. Now Life is Good!

See the cheese & turkey rolled inside and flecks of carrots & celery

Monday, September 15, 2008

Scrumptious Ribs

I have been making slow cooked ribs for years. In the past I have always cooked them on 225-250 all day and turned them and basted them every 30 minutes. Who knew I would find a recipe for them that makes it so easy and they are oh so good. This is great for a big crowd or just the family. If my kids are going to eat them I eliminate the red pepper flakes.

I got the recipe from Emeril Legasse in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. This is one of the best magazines I get all month. It is small and usually has several recipes that are worth trying AND keeping in my repetoire. I have made a few changes to his recipe but he calls them simple ribs ad I concur. To top it off they are delish!

Now I cheat and don't make Emeril's rib sauce but buy a bottle of bbq/rib sauce. My favorite is Sticky Fingers Habanero Hot but you can use any kind. And if you want to cheat more and are pressed for time buy a packet of pork rub and use that. But I will say the rub that Emeril has created is awesome. Change the ingredients depending on your taste. If my kids are going to eat them I eliminate the red pepper flakes. Enjoy.

Emeril calls them

ej's simple ribs

* 2 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder

* 2 teaspoons sweet paprika

* 1 teaspoon celery salt

* 1 teaspoon onion powder

* 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

* 1/4 teaspoon celery seed

* Coarse salt

* 2 slabs baby back ribs (about 2 pounds total)

* Spray Pam, for grill grates

* Emeril's Rib Sauce (recipe follows) - I use a bottle of store bought sauce. Make sure it has some sugar to it so that it will brown when it is on the grill. Also these are way better on a charcoal grill than they are on a gas grill. But both ways work fine.

1. In a small bowl, combine mustard powder, paprika, celery salt, onion powder, red-pepper flakes, garlic powder, celery seed, and 1 teaspoon salt. Rub slabs on both sides with the spice mixture, and refrigerate, loosely covered, for 2 hours (I have found the longer the better 4 is awesome!).

2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Stack slabs on a double layer of aluminum foil; tightly wrap. Place on a rack on a baking sheet. Cook until meat pulls away from the bone and is easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (I have found that it usually takes 2 hours)

3. Heat grill to medium-high; lightly oil grates. Carefully remove ribs from foil, pouring off any liquid. Brush generously on both sides with rib sauce; grill ribs until sauce begins to bubble and brown around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve ribs with any leftover sauce, if desired.

Emeril's Rib Sauce
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower

* 1 medium onion, finely chopped

* 3 garlic cloves, minced* Coarse salt and ground pepper

* 1 cup ketchup* 1 cup canned beef broth

* 3/4 cup cider vinegar

* 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar

* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

* 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

* 1/2 teaspoon celery salt

* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes.

BOLD BASTING: A few tricks will make your rib sauce extra hearty: Start with a base of sauteed onion and garlic, add beef broth for depth, and give it a 30-minute simmer to bring the flavors together.

Now after a serving of these Life is Definitely Good!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pecan, Craisan Chicken Salad

I didn't have to cook dinner last night as I ate out at Station 22 on Sullivan's Island. It was wonderful. I had arugula salad with fried goat cheese and a small plate of corn bread encrusted fried oysters. There is nothing better than a fried oyster. Normally I prefer them on top of a Ceasar salad but a review online indicated if you eat at Station 22 that they are a must. They did not dissapoint.

My family on the otherhand had pizza. Pizza which they deemed "not as good as yours mom" and "this is no Andolini's pizza." Makes a mom feel good.

Yesterday for lunch I was looking through the refrigerator and realized I had left over chicken from the whole chicken I made last week. I figured if I didn't eat it soon it would be bad. I grabbed the chicken, some celery, and green onions (scallions) out of the fridge and went to the pantry. I had some craisans and pecans and then I remembered I had cut up a pear for my son the other day and he didn't eat it.

A little chopping and dicing and I had an awesome chicken salad. Rather than eating it on bread I put it on a piece of Romaine lettuce and rolled it up. It was yummo!!!

Pecan-Craisan Chicken Salad

2-3 cups cooked chicken

3 stalks celery

2 green onions

1/4 cup Craisans

1/4 pecans (chopped)

1 medium pear cut into bite size pieces

large tablespoon of Dukes Light Mayo

salt and pepper to taste

Cut up chicken breast into 1/2-1 inch pieces

and place in bowl. Add diced celery and chopped

green onions. Chop pecans and add with Craisans to

the bowl. Peel the pear and cut into bite sized pieces and toss

them in. Mix all the ingredients and then add a spoonful of

Dukes Light Mayonnaise. Salt and pepper to taste.

I get tonight off as well as my and my husband are going to see the comedian Ron White. Hopefully he can keep himself out of jail during his stay in Charleston as he was arrested 2 nights ago before a show in Florida!

Have a wonderful day and Life is Good!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Unispired Asian Stir Fry Dinner

Did you ever wonder if you and the rest of your family were born on the same planet? Last night I was so uninspired to cook something. We got home late after school as Lucy had gymnastics and Cambridge stays extended day on Wednesday after preschool and his manners class! We got home just before 5:00. I had spent the morning at the dentist and then cleaning up the house so never had a chance to peruse the fridge.

When my husband got home I looked through the fridge and had homemade pesto (from my basil in the garden) and also had some sauteed onions and peppers. I had some nice Italian sausage in the freezer and I figured I could do something with the sausage on either the peppers or the pesto. I also told him I had a stir fry bag in the freezer. (typically I buy these when they are on sale as they are an easy meal for me to make on a night that I am going to one of my book clubs. Truth be told I personally have never had one). Well the man opts for the bag of stir fry (huh?). He then reminds me that I have some rice in the refrigerator and can mix that in. Now you should all note that I am an American of Italian descent and was raised in New England. My husband is southern true and true. I never had rice growing up! Never had it until I went to college. Maybe once or twice we had Rice-a-Roni. We had pasta and all things Italian. Nope never had a meat and 3! Didn't know what it was until I met my husband. Being southern he likes rice and gravy (gravy? heck I never had turkey on Thanksgiving until I was in college and we didn't go to Boston to visit all of our family as the turkey was always second class to homemade lasagna, brocciale, stuffed peppers, sausage with peppers and onions - ok that is a post for another day!). To me gravy is red sauce. Tomato sauce. Spaghetti sauce. Get the picture?

So I make this frozen stirfry (wishing the kids hadn't eaten the leftover steak on Monday night as it would have been a nice addition). Well who would know that my family loved this. I chopped up some onion and added it to the stir fry bag (which consisted of steak, broccoli, water chestnuts, sugar snap peas, carrots, red pepper). When it was nearly cooked I added in the rice with the sauce mix that came with the bag and had a surprisingly good low calorie/low fat meal that was oh so easy to make.

I am such a "cook from scratch gal" that this did surprise me. My husband kept telling me how good it was! And to that I say yes it was good but I didn't really make it! Oh well I guess the main thing is that they enjoyed it and it was relatively healthy!

Tonight I am going to one of my book clubs. I will see if I can get a picture of my meal without my friends thinking I am crazy. My family will be at home celebrating my sons cast coming off this afternoon. It has been 5 long weeks in the thing and it is falling apart. My son does not want to go out to dinner (again was he born on the same planet as me? I keep saying "Dad offered to take you and Lucy to dinner" which he responds "I like eating at home" I think that might be a compliment). So they will have pizza (not homemade as I am taking the night off) and he wants a cake that is half Wall-E and half Tony Stewart (NASCAR driver). Lucy told him she was sure I could make one!!! Any suggestions??? I don't want to end up cakewrecks!

Tomorrow will bring crazy pictures is all I can say. Give me your ideas on the cake or what I can make that might work and have a great day. Life is Good!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Souper Dinner

Growing up in Connecticut I miss the cool crisp days of early fall that seemed to show up each year on Labor Day. This was back to school time and a good time to eat a nice bowl of soup and piece of bread for dinner. Since I am counting points and you can take the girl out of Yankee town but you can't take the Yankee out of the girl... I made soup last night. I had the chicken stock I made last week and needed to use it. This soup was so good. I did a nice loaf of crusty french bread and the kids even liked it!

I threw everything in the crock pot yesterday morning and came home to a wonderful smelling house. I was in the mood for Italian Wedding Soup but did not have the correct kind of pasta to make it so I did my best to improvise. And for those of you that ever try to make anything I post a recipe for, I never use actual recipes. Cooking for me is more just go with what I like and might taste good. And I am sure that is the reason I don't like to bake. Since baking is a science and cooking is cathartic.

Linda's Crazy Soup

chicken stock

1 medium onion chopped

4 medium carrots sliced

3 celery stalks chopped

1 box frozen spinach

I put the veggies in the chicken stock in the crockpot and then looked in the freezer and said hmmmmmm!

1 lb ground pork

old bread for breadcrumbs

tomato paste (or ketchup if you don't have it)

2 eggs

italian seasonings

make tiny meatballs with the pork. Season how you like. Mine were rather bland as I wanted the kids to eat them.

Put the meatballs in ever so carefully one at a time so they don't get crushed on the way down.

cook on low all day. About an hour before serving I put in a can of cannelini beans and I cooked egg noodles on the stove (my crock pot was full and I couldn't fit them in!)

place some noodles on the bottom of the bowl

add some soup

sprinkle good Italian cheese (Asiago or Grada Paddano) over top

Get a good piece of crusty bread to dip in the broth. It was yummo.

Sorry that is a stock picture but basically what mine looked like! Have a great day and life is good.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bad Small Appliance Weekend - Mojitos

So we got NOTHING from TS Hanna. Thank goodness. But after all the prepping and hyping I was in the mood for a margarita. I like to drink them on the rocks at a bar but at home I like them frozen. I only use fresh ingredients so I know it will taste good and with my continuing abundance of limes from my lime tree I decided to make me one late Saturday afternoon. I put some ice in my Kitchen Aid blender that I got for my wedding nearly 9 years ago (and haven't used much) and turned it on and poof! It went whiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrr. No movement inside. I took the pitcher off it and the entire blade element had rotted off! GO figure. So I instead made mojitos which were divine!

I was about to throw out the blender when I went to the Kitchen Aid website and saw how much they cost, nearly $200. Not sure who bought this for me!?!? But on ebay I found a piece for $4 that looks like it will fit and make the blender work again. We will see.

On Sunday I was ironing. My most dreaded task of the week. All of a sudden whammo the dial in the middle of the iron that controls the heat pops off! I am thinking what next. SO I go to Target and buy a new iron. Stainless steel pad and it is awesome but when I get it home I realize it does not have the retractable cord. NOw for $30 I want a retractable cord. SO I iron the rest of Lucy's school uniforms and take the iron back to Target on Monday morning. I buy the same model with a retractable cord. I get home and fill it with water and am looking at it and it looks used. None of the pieces were in the bags that were in the box so I know someone has purchased it and returned it. What that person did not tell Target is that the iron leaks like a sieve! Now I have a hot iron, a 4 year old boy wanting to be entertained and still a bunch of ironing to do. All before my friends come over to bead in the evening.

I trot back to Target and this time with the iron not in the box as it is too hot, and the same woman is at the return counter. She starts laughing at me! Says they have been having problems with these Sunbeam irons and she marks the item as damaged. Now the irons are right next to the toy aisle and I have to get to the grocery store before picking up Lucy at school. I look at all the irons and they really have an awful selection. Cambridge is running across the aisle to the toys as I am grumbling about having to go to Wal-Mart. We leave Target and go to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has the iron I want but it is not in stock. They are expecting a shipment of 3 overnight and there are 3 at another Super Wal-Mart down the street (worse than this old Wal-Mart). So I ask the lady, will they be put on the shelves by morning? She says just come by in the morning it is not like we are going to have a rush of people coming in here in the morning to buy irons! Duh! I just want to know if they will be put on the shelves.

So there is my story of my blender and my iron. I am on my way to Wal-Mart right now before I go to Lucy's school to give blood. (They always want more than tuition! ;-)) Hopefully the iron I want will be on the shelf and I can get it home and happily go about ironing. The sad thing is I am so excited about it as the stainless steel makes it press so much better.

I also hope my blender part works. I can't imagine spending that kind of money on a blender.

Have a great day and may all your small appliances work well. Life is good.

Mojito recipe
Fresh mint
simple syrup (1 cup water & 1 cup sugar-heat to boil)
club soda

put fresh mint and a tiny bit of sugar and a lime slic in bottom of tall glass.
With muddler gently muddle (bruise) the mint leaves to release flavor.
Pour a small bit of simple syrup in glass (depending on how sweet you like it)
Pour in 1 and a half shot glasses of Rum (or Vodka)
Add ice to top
put in shaker and shake
pour in glass and top with club soda
squeeze lime and ENJOY

Life is really really good after a few of these!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Hurricane Hype

For the past few days me and my family have been anxiously watching the tropics. Living in the Southeastern United States on the coast it is impossible not to do this. I watched with amazement Gustav go into the coast and have had eyes on Hanna and particularly Ike. We started the week making plans on what to do depending on the track or severity. Since Hanna was predicted to come right into Charleston at one point we went and got a generator and a window air conditioner.

The generators were in full stock on Monday night at the Lowes down the street from us. But my husband did not buy one. On Tuesday morning he purchased the generator on lowes.com for in-store pickup. A woman from the store called him and said if he did not pick it up immediately it would be sold and he would get the first one to come into the store in the next shipment. So I happened to be driving the kids home from school and going right past the store when he frantically called me. I went into Lowes with he 2 kids in tow and talked to customer service. I was informed that I would need to be escorted out with my generator to make sure no one beat me up! This made me feel real good. Then another man came with the items on a roll cart and said "do not take your eyes off of these. A man had one on his cart this morning and turned away and it was taken." (Not sure how this man didn't hear this but ok) Now I am walking to the parking lot with the Lowes man and people are looking at us asking where I got it and he has to keep telling them I bought it online and it is the last one! Geesh.

So I have also been cleaning out my freezer. I cooked a full organic chicken on Wednesday night as the chicken took up way too much space and ended up melting my baster! Very sad. But boy was it good. I stuffed the inside with a bunch of rosemary sprigs! It was divine.

My poor baster! Notice the bend?

Bottom shelf of freezer!

Top shelf of freezer!

Now that we will not take a direct hit and my daughters school has a half day and my sons school is closed (his school followed the public school system rather than the private school that owns them that my daughter goes to! Go figure). I will have my son, and another 4 year old girl and 3 year old girl until it is time to pick up the bigger kids up at 11:30 (3 first graders). They should be here about 8:00 am. I will drop off one of the first graders and the 4 year old girl at their dads office and take the other 2 back with me until about 1 o'clock! It should be loud but fun. I miss having little girls around. Their play is so much different than boys. These are our car pool families. Two of the most incredible families you will ever meet. The moms both work full time and I don't drive many days so this is where I come in really handy! Really works out well.

So in a nut shell we played this thing right. We took caution and watched and got all our supplies and will not get a direct hit. It also looks like Ike will hit South Florida so we might not have to worry about that one either and Josephine looks like it is weakening. All in all a good week for us. I am making chicken stock and my house smells yummo!

My yummy chicken stock that is simmering

Have a great day and stay safe.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Country First

Country First! What a great slogan. It embodies hope and change and all the empty words the empty suit, I mean Barack Obama, and his running mate are passing out. Sarah Palin did awesome last night. Rudy Giulliani was amazing. This is what the republican party needed. The democrats have nothing and are on the defensive because they picked the old and established to try to get "change." Go figure. But does that really surprise any of us? Not me.

So no the liberal and their elite media have to attach Palin on such things as the actions of her children, yes how awful that her daughter has decided not to suck her unborn baby into a sink. She should be caned for that! Hmm can we think wow a life was spared and will be brought into this world instead of a sink in a clininc. Now I do believe the young couple will have a tough time but that is their issue.

So if Sarah Palin had teared up I know the media would have said she was soft. Instead The Huffinton Post (BARF) is saying it was too masculine. EVERY woman should be offended by this. This is the most sexist thing I have ever heard. Give me a break. But when you have nothing to go on you have to start making things up and digging for what is not really news. Making personal digs. Was Obama's speech too masculine or feminine? Would they have ever used this word to describe a speech by a man? I don't think so. It is a double standard and feminists should be roaring! Where are they?

So I hope the Democrats are sitting back saying that they have it in the bag because come election day the truth will be told and the change coming to the White House will be in the form of McCain/Palin. I believe Biden can't stand a chance with Palin in a debate and if Obama continues to say things are above his pay grade to deserve and answer well maybe all his "fans" will see that he is an empty suit filled with hot air. Yes he is young and attractive but that will not help our country.

And if the liberal media were doing their job the would all know that Petraeus has issued a take down of the troops since Iraq is going so well. Hmmm where is that in the media.

Well I am off to enjoy my day. I am energized by the speaches last night and ready to take on the world. Country First!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cambridge's First Day

Yesterday was Cambridge's first dayof 4's preschool. He already knew the teachers as Lucy had them when she was 4 and he went to summer camp at the school over the summer and had one of the teachers during camp. He came home and said "I didn't get to sit next to Joseph at snack. That was bad!" But he did tell me "I went down the twisty slide and didn't fall off (like he did the last time 3 weeks ago when he broke his wrist!) So today he got in the car after school and as his teacher was buckling him in he said "I GOT TO SIT NEXT TO JOSEPH AT SNACK!" What a great day he had! The simple things in life sometimes we forget about.

What simple things make you or your kids happy?

I know for me a cup of Starbucks coffee with my coffee friends is a luxury I never take for granted. And the feeling I have after pilates class, thank goodness it is over but I actually feel good!

Monday, September 01, 2008

6 Random Things About Me

Happy Labor Day! Last day of summer for Cambridge as he finally starts school tomorrow. I can't wait to go see all my coffee buddies. It will be a grand ole reunion at Starbucks! I was reading one of my favorite blogs, No Fear Entertaining, and she posted this interesting question. So here is a bit about me for you to see.

6 Random things about me...

1. I get goosebumps when I hear the national anthem and always sing along.

2. I made it half way through my MBA at The Citadel (at the time an all male military college but women were allowed to go to their graduate programs at night) but travelled too much for business and gave it up.

3. I was a writer for my college newspaper The Good 5 Cent Cigar at the University of Rhode Island (go Rhody!)

4. I am a closet NASCAR fan thanks to my NASCAR obsessed son. I love to watch races as it is such an incredible sport. Imagine going that fast and being so close to other cars. The skill is what gets me every time. Kind of like a scary rollercoaster. But shhhh don't tell anyone.

5. My best friend and I used to go out in the woods when we were little and try to get lost in Newtown, Connecticut. We each had about 5-10 acres of land on Castle Hill Road (4 houses in a row) and there were streams and swamps in between and in the winter we would build forts and bring a box of Jello for survival and mix it with snow and eat it. I lived across the street from a nunnery owned by the Carmelite Sisters and we would pick apples in the fall and ice skate in the winter. It was the greatest place to grow up.

6. I have a blood clotting disorder when I am pregnant (elevated anticardiolipins) and lost 3 babies at 12 weeks, 13 weeks and 16 weeks of pregnancy. I lost one baby before my daughter and then went on the have Lucy with no medical intervention and had a 5%-10% chance of carrying her to term. She is a true miracle. I had 2 additional miscarriages after her and was finally diagnosed before getting pregnant with my son. He too is a miracle but I did Heparin shots 2 times a day and took baby aspirin to keep my blood from clotting in the umbilical cord. Thank God for modern medicine and a great OB and RE.

I am not going to tag any one blogger on this but consider yourselves all tagged and take a few minutes and let us get to know you better! If you decide to do this let me know so I can come and read it! (this is word for word from No Fear).

Enjoy and I hope to read what you write too.

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