Category Archives: Fruits

Dry Rub Dry Run

They say practice makes perfect.  I don’t know about that, but people do seem to enjoy the practice efforts.
20161106_124906_resizedThe Kiddie Cocktails do make it go down a little easier, if ya know what I’m sayin’

First up, the turkey.  I made this Cranberry Dry Rub from Foodie with Family. The only snafu was I could not find freeze dried cranberries anywhere. So I had to oven-dry Craisins as I mentioned in a prior post. Nonetheless, I used Foodie with Family’s Turkey recipe, replacing sweet potatoes with regular and used butter instead of olive oil. Turned out great.

20161106_121008_resizedThe potatoes underneath were just so-so. But not to fear, made Smitten Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Roast. Even people who don’t like sweet potatoes liked these.


Made Pioneer Woman’s Beautiful Brussel Sprouts. Sorry PW, it’s not you, it’s me. Just not a huge sprout fan.


And now this.

20161106_124145_resizedHey, it is practice after all. I might add, this was the only dish completely polished off.

We finished with Smitten Kitchen’s Pear, Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble with vanilla ice cream. It was delicious.

20161106_140441_resizedI found some gluten free gingersnaps yesterday at Whole Foods. Might try this again for McNamara Christmas. Which is what I’m practicing for today!

That’s right, I have 6 events in 45 days here. So there’s a lot of list-making and practicing coming up.  For now,  I think I’ll practice with some sangria.


And leave you with this, from our event last night at the Museum of Science and Industry. I hope science can fix whatever is wrong with Guitar Boy’s neck.

dsc_0312Have a great week and a safe and warm Thanksgiving everyone.

Warm Weather Appetizers But Not Hot Weather, Because Gross

Our neighbors (with babies** – yay!) invited everyone down for a last minute “just because” appetizer and dessert party. I took stock of what was in the fridge and took my cookbook collection to tell me what to make.


Can’t go wrong with Ina Garten at the Barefoot Contessa.  You can assume that because as you can see on the right, I have 6 of her books. But they have literally never failed me. (P.S I’m lying about this collection – there is another set of shelves full of cookbooks. And two binders worth of ripped out magazine recipes. OK..four binders.  OK.. four binders sorted by meal course and color coded. Sigh.)

I went with her Roasted Shrimp Cocktail.  However, I took the suggestion of “Robert Y” in the comments on the same recipe at the Food Network site and brined the shrimp, tossed in olive oil and Old Bay seasoning and preheated the pans so the undersides cooked without having to flip a bunch of shrimp – genius!.  Turned out great. In fact, I’d urge you to make this sauce instead of picking up a jar the next time you need a seafood sauce. It is easy-peasy and the taste if soooooo much better than jarred.


But I had cherries and nothing in my bajillion books was inspiring me.  To the internet!!  I decided on a sweet/savory Cherry Crostini two ways.  I adapted it from Bon Appetit’s Savory Cherry Crostini recipe and Heather Christo’s Roasted Cherry Crostini.


Cherry Crostini

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
3 cups pitted, halved cherries (I used Yellow Rainer)
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
pinch of salt and pepper
pinch of sugar
log of goat cheese
best ricotta you can find
balsamic glaze (I used this one from Trader Joe’s)
extra thyme leaves
sea salt
skinny baguette, sliced and toasted

Heat the olive oil in a saute or frying pan over medium heat.  Once hot, add the cherries, thyme, sugar, salt and pepper.  Saute until soft and just beginning to brown (3-5 minutes) but not completely mush, you want them to look like cherries.  Remove from heat and cool. I actually put it in the refrigerator for use later.

When ready to go to, spread some of either the goat cheese or the ricotta on the toasted baguette slices. Top the goat cheese one with a spoonful of cherry mixture, a sprinkle of additional thyme leaves and pinch of sea salt.  Top the ricotta one with the cherry mixture and drizzle just the tiniest bit of balsamic glaze over top.

**By the way, to me babies = anyone still talking in a tiny voice. So thanks for the party, guys!


Have a lovely week everyone.

The Night is Dark and Full of Appetizers

If I have to wear football gear, you can be sure I’m gonna nerd it up, Game of Thrones style.

For today’s festivities, I supported the Broncos because their colors are the same as the Bears. And I have orange shoes already, so…allegiance formed!


Most of the people I follow on Instagram are food bloggers and you can tell everyone was getting ready for the Super Bowl yesterday because there were hardly any posts all day. And this morning – BAM – wings, dips, treats galore. Here’s what I chose to make:

Things We Dipped in Chocolate.  Recipe:  Melt chocolate, dip various things in it.


But, BUT, you need to make these Potato Chip Cookies from Smitten Kitchen first.


They are delicious, lightly sweet and salty. The only thing I did different was that I omitted the added salt (because I used Ruffles not Cape Cod chips) and I used another 1/2 cup of crushed potato chips in lieu of pecans. Because Drummer Boy helped and if he saw the nuts go in he never would even try them. He’s not a guy who likes sweets, so he immediately asked for…


Chex Mix for dessert. I just use the back of the box recipe except that I add an extra two tablespoons butter. And this time we didn’t use wheat Chex because they just burn, everyone leaves them behind anyway in a puddle of sadness. So we doubled the Cheerios and pretzels.  But if you could find good gluten free pretzels, without the wheat Chex it would be gluten free.

On the healthier-ish side, we have this Greek Spinach and Kale Dip from How Sweet It Is. Made it the day before so flavors could meld. I reduced the kale to 1/2 cup because it was looking uncomfortably green.


And finally, Pepperoni Pizza Rolls from Two Peas and Their Pod. Dough and I have a complicated relationship (in that Dough hates me) so I just used Pillsbury pizza dough in a can. Big hit.


I’d like to pretend that’s my manicure, but my stubby nails could never support what MichCC can handle.

This is how 2016 children watch the Super Bowl. By ignoring it and playing games on their own devices. Left to my own devices, I probably would (name that band). Never mind, no one is going to remember. It was Pet Shop Boys.


Wide retriever. Heh.


Have a great week everyone.

This Weekend Was Meant for Firepits

And Ant-Man. But what weekend wasn’t meant for Ant-Man, really? Made s’mores (yes, I know, again). Hey, at least it gets them outside. You know, because otherwise they would all just be inside talking up a storm or playing a game, with a group of friends…


or, each playing on their own individual technological device while standing or sitting in each other’s general proximity.  This is hanging in the 20-teens.

But we didn’t just have dessert all weekend. Coulda. Didn’t.  First we had a dinner of Sticky Garlic Chicken from Pinch of Yum.  Wow, was this good and fast as the recipe advertised.


Pinch of Yum is also responsible for teaching me how to host this site and has great classes through Food Blogger Pro. If you have any interest in such things, I suggest checking it out.

Then, Sunday breakfast!

There were pancakes.

final1437911822023Those were for the kids. For the grownups, I made Gashouse Eggs.   Yes, that’s an…   But years ago the supermodel B. Smith had a cooking show.  This was back before the United States began assigning a cooking show to every 17th person born. It was a great show, she seemed like a really nice person. Well, she had dancer/actor Gregory Hines on, and he was telling the story of being little when his parents were showbiz people and how he’d be backstage with his Mom with the likes of Milton Berle.  And that Milton Berle’s favorite meal to cook after a show was what he called Gashouse Eggs.

Now you would think there would be an explanation, on either B. Smith’s show or here within this blog, as to the origins of the name.  But nope, that’s where the story ends.  But luckily, it’s also where the recipe begins.

Gashouse Eggs

4 TBSP butter
3 TBSP Worcestershire sause
4 eggs
4 pieces Texas toast
Salt and pepper

Cut a small hole in middle of each slice of toast.   Melt butter and Worcestershire sauce in a skillet or griddle and stir to combine. Dredge toast through the butter mixture until both sides are covered.  Crack one egg into each of the pieces of toast.  Let cook until toast/egg are done on the bottom side and then flip to cook the other side.


Salt to taste and eat to full.


Bought Guitar Boy a new bike (he was looking a little Shriner in a tiny car-ish on the old one).  Played some tetherball and tennis. Then we enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail.


Fill a glass half full with a dry Rose, add a little bit of La Croix Cran-Raspberry sparkling water and drop in two raspberries.  Re-Fresh-Ing.

Lingering around on Pinch of Yum’s site around dinner time, I made this Skinny Garlic Fried Rice.


This was seriously good and easy. If you have leftover rice, this would be a great dish, so versatile you could add anything.  I cooked some shrimp with it and used various rainbow carrots from our garden in addition to cabbage (red and green). The only thing I changed was I added about 1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce at the end and stirred it for about another 2 minutes.

Ended with Cherry Pie Crumble Bars from Shutterbean.


I think I added too much filling, hence the artsy close up of the Crumble Bars, and no picture of, you know, an actual BAR.  Still, scooped into a bowl and topped with ice cream, there were no complaints.

And then we went back across the street, for some more, s’mores.  Because, why not?


Hey, at least they were outside *watching an iPhone – Scott Sterling!!!!!!!!*


Have a great week everyone.

Vacation’s All I Ever Wanted

Except now I’m exhausted from all the vacationing. We rented a house on the lake in Indiana and it was lovely.


There was beach time (ahem, strike a pose)


Bowling time (cold, rainy day)


Rollerskating time.


BIG waves (well, for Lake Michigan).


Up to no good at the beach time.


Digging holes.


Spotted an elusive beach gnome in one of the holes.


Just down the street, an American Ninja Warrior-like park. Big M as Kacy Catanzaro!

DSC_0229 DSC_0212


But from this blogger’s perspective, most of all, it had a really fully stocked kitchen which is unusual in a rental.  Silicone basting brush – check. Juicer – check.  Three colanders, one ginormous – check.  I wanted for nothing.

So here are a few things that were on the menu for the week:

Smitten Kitchen’s Tomato Sausage Risotto which is a go-to dish to serve a lot of people. I use turkey Italian sausage to lighten it up a bit. Add 1/2 to every ingredient to serve 4 adults and 2 girls who are good eaters.


Cobb Salad with Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Ranch Dressing


4 cooked boneless chicken breasts. You can cook them any way you want, but this method from thekitchn really works for salads.
16 oz. bacon, cooked crisp
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh peas (hint, Trader Joes has them in the refrigerated section)
3 hard boiled eggs
1 medium red onion, diced.
2 avocados, diced
Cooked corn kernels (good use for left-over corn on the cob)
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 head/clamshell butter lettuce
1 head iceberg lettuce
Blue cheese crumbles (optional)

Arrange all lettuce in bowl or platter. Toss with a little of the ranch dressing.   Arrange all the ingredients in rows on the lettuce and drizzle with a little more dressing.  I serve the blue cheese crumbles on the side as not everyone like blue cheese in this particular vacation house.

From BevCooks, Seared Steak with Chimichurri Sauce.  I didn’t serve it with polenta, instead roasted a bunch of fingerling potatoes, halved, tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 400 for about 30 minutes, flipping half way through. Forget to take picture.  To compensate, here are the sauce and marinade that I made ahead before we left.


Also featured in that picture is ginger syrup for the Ginger Beergaritas from How Sweet It Is.  Tasted like a margarita soda. Yum.


We packed up this group of cousins and headed up the road to see the lake-adjacent house of my cousins. Showing up with 6 kids in tow, Tessa had this response:


We had a great time, great meal of turkey burgers, regular burgers, brats and as a side I made The Pioneer Woman’s Pasta Ai Quattro Formaggio, otherwise known as four-cheese, clothespin-on-the-aorta, mac and cheese.


Really a very simple dish when using Trader Joe’s 4 Cheese Italian blend. I make it often as a weeknight side. I also made a peach crumble from The Kitchn’s Make a Crumble from Any Fruit recipe.

It got a little dark to get too many pictures, but as least we got some fire pit action in.


And the song McNamara’s Band MAY have been played. And there MAY have a been a parade with tupperware instruments. However, in the interest that anyone may have in running for Supreme Court justice or other public office someday, we’ll keep that video just between us cousins.

There was card playing for money, natch.



And some pool time.


And this creepy, Scooby-Doo-like abandoned park named Canada Playground. This is Indiana’s way of saying “Hey Canada, maybe if you’d stop giving away health care you could step up your parks and rec maintenance!” Note it also says no dogs allowed. Because you wouldn’t want to mess up the facilities.


All in all, a success at Beachwalk Resort.


Now, one more day until I’m back to the life where there is much less joyful jumping.

But not before I made everyone one of these Birthday Cake Milkshakes. There are lots of different riffs on these out there, but I think using frosting makes for a better texture than the ones I’ve done with cake mix.


1.5 Quarts of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
8 oz vanilla frosting from a can
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 cup milk (depending on how thick you would like the shake).
Sprinkles.  Always sprinkles.
Extra frosting for the glasses

Blend first 4 ingredients in blender to desired milkshakiness.  Rub vanilla frosting on the rim of each glass.  Put sprinkles on a plate and turn the cup to coat rim in sprinkles. They can be any color or size, I just had Fourth of July nonpareils on hand.  Pour in milkshake and serve to this happy camper.


I mustache you, was this delicious?



Rainy Days on Sundays Always Get Me Down

The rain, the rain.  All games washed out yesterday (and for the foreseeable future). Thus, plans were torn asunder and I ended up going to my sister’s to get my hair done before the conference in D.C. But food was already purchased and prepped for dinner here.  No worries, a traveling feast it is.


I forget I have this market bag. It is awesome and can be wiped down in case that dressing in the corner spills a little. In case.

But nonetheless, to honor summer I made:


Salad with Stone Fruit and Burrata
Adapted from Stone Fruit and Burrata Salad by What’s Gaby Cooking. Feeds 8

4 ripe plums
4 ripe peaches
4 ripe nectarines
2 heirloom tomatoes
1 cup orange and yellow cherry tomatoes
3 cups baby lettuce from your garden (ok, just showing off that I actually grew lettuce!).  You can also use a bag of Spring mix or baby lettuce)
1 container of burrata cheese (2-3 balls)
fresh mint
1 cup pistachio meats

Dressing — I pretty much used Gaby’s recipe completely except did every measure as “heaping” and a less red pepper — and still got complaints of “mouth on fire” from the kids!

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all dressing ingredients in jar and shake until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. I like this just a touch sweet.

Wash fruits and slice stone fruits into thin wedges. Slice large tomatoes and cut cherry tomatoes in half. Place lettuce in bowl and toss with a couple of tablespoons of the dressing. Arrange fruit and tomatoes (I KNOW, tomatoes are fruit, but sometimes that gets confusing) on top of lettuce. Tear burrata into pieces and scatter on salad. Drizzle with another tablespoon or two of dressing, depending on your tastes. Top with chopped mint and pistachios.

Served with steak topped with roasted garlic butter that I had in the freezer, corn on the cob, and roasted Trader Joe’s Teensy Tiny Potatoes.

Today was the first day of summer camp. And the crew lived large, because it was also someone’s golden birthday, so they were picked up from camp in style.

PARTY BUS!!!!!!!!!!


And on another front, certain members of the household were not in the party mood.


Let’s Go Hawks!




Spring, a Surprise Guest and Mother’s Day

I have a perpetual problem when ordering spices of thinking, “Oh, 4 ounces doesn’t sound like much”.  This mindset results in my owning an extraordinary number of light spices that don’t weigh very much.  Like this, just one of my many, many jars of bay leaves (did I say many?):


And sadly, I’m not in need of a laurel.  Anyone need a cinnamon stick?  Just ask, call any time. And well, vanilla beans fall into that category too.  However, I industriously turned 2 of them into vanilla sugar (scraping the seeds into a clean jar and adding fine sugar).

So now what to do with vanilla sugar? Since Spring began, I’ve seen a number of recipes for fools. LIke take 8 beers, combine with 2 frat boys, add a Family Guy episode, stir….  No, I mean like British fools…take 8 Pimm’s cups, combine with 2 muggles.. No, wait, I digress again.  A fool is a English dessert that combines stewed fruit and cream. I have a lot of strawberries, so I thought I’d use my vanilla sugar and strawberries and make a fool.


Strawberry Fool

4 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
1/2 cup of vanilla sugar
2 TBSP water
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Put strawberries, vanilla sugar, vanilla extract and water in a bowl and stir.  Let sit anywhere from 15 minutes to 5 hours.   Mash half the strawberries with potato masher or two forks until there are mushy bits and still whole pieces of strawberries.

Whip the cream with the powdered sugar until peaks form.  Fold in half the strawberry mixture and stir just a little bit with a spatula.   Then fold in the rest of the strawberries and only stir once.  Garnish with a sliced strawberry and mint if you have it (I didn’t). Serve with Nilla Wafers or Lorna Doones.


Had a nice surprise visit from my nephew Joe before he departs to study and work in China this summer. So we made some steaks, following the directions from Serious Eats.  I’ve mentioned in other posts, or maybe I just wrote it in my recipe binder, but yep, salting beef ahead of time works wonders. So we grilled NY strips, made Oh She Glows’ Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Aioli (yes, again) and a big ol’ salad with homemade ranch dressing from Foodie With Family.


This time I boiled and smashed the potatoes ahead of time, covered the baking sheet and kept it in the refrigerator.   At dinner time I then cooked them in the oven a little longer, about 35 minutes, flipping them half way through so both sides got crispy.  Worked great.

While I made dinner the boys and Fake Sister played soccer with Joe (sorry Joe, hope you didn’t think this would be a restful visit).

soccerv soccerN soccerm soccer4

And games about football:


And music:


I didn’t host Mother’s Day, so there are not many recipes to report on.  But who am I to let a holiday go by without an appropriate beverage? This year, it was Blueberry Bellinis from She Wears Many Hats.

Here they are in all their blueberry and bubbles glory!


Really couldn’t be easier.  Just boil the ingredients, puree with a stick blender in the pot, bring to your sister’s house.  Add to Prosecco and eat donuts.  Done and Done.

Mmmmmmmh, donuts.


A leeeetle mishap involving Alvin’s face and Aunt Colleen’s windowsill of death.   What would Mother’s Day be without a trip to the emergency room for 8 stitches on one’s lip?  Al was a trooper, didn’t even cry.


Happy Mother’s Day everyone.  May Father’s Day be stitch-free.