Category Archives: Depression

Happy Holidays from Newzcook!

xmas16It’s Christmas Eve and I’m gearing up to finish my New Year’s cards and bake some cookies to take to my mom’s for Christmas Day tomorrow.

But as a Happy Holidays to everyone, I thought I’d share some easy, fun holiday recipes from past posts, including Christmas Bison Chili, Irish Whiskey Cake, Easy New Year’s Eve Appe-Tarts and the easy, yummy, Fudge-Filled Slice-n-Bakes, in case you’re running out of time and looking to dress up those last minute supermarket cookies-in-a-tube…

Have a Great Holiday, whatever you celebrate, and a Happy New Year!

Bison Christmas Chili was just one way my family celebrated the seaon "out of the box"

Bison Christmas Chili is a fun alternative to traditional holiday meals. You can substitute with veggies, ground turkey, tempeh, or other meatless alternatives.

Christmas Bison Chili

  • Olive oil
  • Crushed garlic
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 large sweet red bell pepper
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas
  • 1 lb. ground bison – preferably organic, or at least no hormones, no antibiotics, etc.
  • 28 oz. can vegetarian baked beans
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • red pepper flakes
  • ground sea salt
  • ground black peppercorns
  • 1 T. soy sauce

Saute’ garlic in a couple tablespoons olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven until fragrant, add chopped onion and bell peppers and cook till a bit soft. Push above to one side and add bison meat in chunks to pot. Cook meat through, but don’t overcook. No need to spoon or pour off fat, as the bison is lean and there won’t be much. Simply stir everything back together when the meat is cooked so the meat will pick up some of the flavor of the garlic, onion and pepper. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste and use spices to taste. Simmer for about 1/2 hour. You can add the peas late in the cooking so they retain some of their green color. For a portable/party meal, pour the chili in a crock pot and take it to your gathering. You can leave it on low and let people serve themselves. Because of the sweet peppers and baked beans the chili is sweeter, like Sloppy Joe. It’s great with tortilla chips, or crusty bread. And because it’s made with bison and with vegetarian baked beans, it’s probably lower in fat and cholesterol.

Irish Whiskey Cake

irishwhiskeycake

This recipe is modified from a recipe in “Traditional Irish Recipes,” by George L. Thompson and a recipe I saw in a newspaper, but can’t remember where. Basically, you’ll need a pound cake (I used Sara Lee), a cup or more of Irish whiskey (I used Powers), a large box of vanilla pudding (the kind you cook), jam or preserves (I used lo-cal strawberry from Aldi), and heavy whipping cream. You’ll also need a nice glass, or crystal bowl, to layer the cake in.

Cut the pound cake in slices and arrange flat on a couple plates. Sprinkle/pour Irish whiskey on both sides of slices – depending on your taste you can moisten, or really douse the cake. Let it sit for a bit while you cook the pudding. The pudding called for 3 c. milk and I substituted 1/2 c. of that with eggnog. It could have used more. Take pudding off burner and let cool. Skim the top before you build the cake. To build the cake: Spread each cake slice with generous layer of preserves, then layer bowl with cake slices and pudding, ending with pudding. Whip a cup or more of heavy whipping cream with a little sugar to sweeten it and top the cake with a thick layer of whipped cream. Using real whipping cream makes a nice thick, not to sweet topping (as opposed to canned or frozen topping). Chill in refrigerator until you serve it. Use a spatula to cut and serve. It held together like a cake – which was surprising. It was also delicious.

Easy New Year’s Eve Appe-Tarts

  • 2 tubes refrigerated crescent roll dough (8-roll size)
  • Saga blue cheese
  • 5 oz. bag Emerald Glazed pecans
  • Fresh-made whole cranberry sauce

I made fresh cranberry sauce for these. Recipe’s on the bag of fresh cranberries, but I used 1/2 c. white and 1/2 c. brown sugar. I also added a tablespoon or so of apricot preserves and some pear liqueur to add some extra flavor. These tarts are fun and simple to make right at the party if you want. If you have kids around, give them some peanut butter, jelly and chocolate chips (or whatever they like) and let them join in and make their own tarts.

Separate the crescent dough triangles. Spread with blue cheese, cranberry sauce and top with pecans. Roll up, or fold, and pinch the dough to seal the tarts. Arrange on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake as directed until golden brown. I think it was 10-12 minutes in a 350 or 400-degree oven. Watch out! The filling is hot, so let them cool a bit while you make the cocktails. Bombay Sapphire Martinis made a great cocktail pairing.

Fudge Filled Slice-N-Bakes

Fudge Filled Slice-N-Bakes

Quik, Eezzy, Yummy

I said in the last post that I was going to try upgrading the stand-by slice-n-bake cookies and if I was successful I’d report my findings.

My Aldi slice-n-bake Holiday Cookies with the built-in candy canes were delicious and a bargain at $1.99. But when I decided to bake a second batch for Xmas Day I wanted to add a bit of a personal touch. So when I spied the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe on the back of my (Aldi’s) Baker’s Choice baking cocoa, I thought, hmmm, sugar cookies sandwiched with fudge. Kind of like, as my mother pointed out yesterday, a Berger Cookie (a Baltimore favorite – it’s a cake-like vanilla cookie slathered with a pile of hardened dark chocolate icing, www.bergercookies.com).

They were a hit, as you can see from the photo of the almost empty tin. The decorated slice-n-bakes looked great, the soft, chocolaty icing was the perfect counter point to the snap of the sugar cookies, and the icing oozing out the sides gave them that homemade appeal.

So, if you don’t have time to mess with making a bunch of from-scratch holiday cookies but want that personal touch for family gatherings and holiday parties, this is a quick and easy alternative. (Try different kinds of cookies combined with different icings.)

Use any brand slice-n-bakes you want. Here’s the recipe from the cocoa tin:

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 T softened butter
  • 1/2 c. baking cocoa
  • 2 2/3 c. confectioner’s sugar (I used 2 cups)
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla extract (use real vanilla extract if you can)

In a small mixing bowl, cream butter. Add cocoa and confectioner’s sugar alternately with milk. Beat to spreading consistency (I made it thick to stand up to the cookies). Blend in vanilla.

(With one tube of slice-n-bakes and this icing recipe I made 18 sandwich cookies.)

Best Wishes for a Happy New Year and…

Chow for Now!

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Who feels like cooking when you’re sick and tired?

20161217_205903_resized2

Nothing like comfort food in bed with your best pal, when you’re feeling sick and tired.

I’ve been sick since Thanksgiving. The usual winter head and chest cold that it seems everyone is suffering with right now. Lousy time for it, with the holidays bearing down. There are gifts to buy, cards to address, meals to plan. Who has the energy? I don’t. Not after working all week. Just trying to sit upright and get through the day is hard enough. I spent most of this week having enough energy left over to open a can of soup and box of crackers for dinner and adding an orange for dessert, in hopes of getting some real food in there somewhere.

So, when this weekend rolled around I felt like I needed to get some healthy, fresh vegetables in me, but all I craved was comfort food — and I still didn’t feel like spending any time cooking.

So, I split the difference and came up with some semi-healthy comfort food that was quick to make. Yesterday, following that comfort food craving, and not knowing what to eat for breakfast, I threw together a cheesy skillet quick-bread. I had that with dinner later — steamed fresh veggies and shrimp tossed with Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheese and Old Bay. This morning I did a fresh tomato and avocado melt on a baguette. In the spirit of the recipes on this blog, they were all cheap, quick and easy:


20161217_100428Cheesy Skillet Quick-Bread

  • 1 1/2 c. Bisquick Heart Smart mix
  • 1/2 milk (plus a splash to make it looser)
  • 1/2 c. or so grated sharp New York cheddar
  • Cast iron pan
  • Olive oil
  • Optional: Old Bay seasoning

Make the biscuit recipe on the box (above), and mix in grated cheese (it could probably handle more than I added, but this was my first try, so I didn’t go crazy with the cheese). The batter should be loose enough to spread into the skillet, so you may need to add a little milk to thin it. Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the skillet and start warming it on low. After the oil warms spread it around evenly with a paper towel. Put the batter in the pan and spread it to the edges. Cover the top with some more grated cheese. Cover. Keep the heat on low-medium. You don’t want to brown the bottom too much before the biscuit sets inside. Take a peek after 10-12 mins or more. If the top is set and the bottom is golden, turn off the heat. I have a toaster oven that can accommodate a pizza, so I put the whole skillet in the toaster oven (the door was open a bit from the handle). Leave it in a few mins to brown the top. You can garnish the bread with a dusting of Old Bay if you want to add a little spice. Serve warm with butter.

20161217_205903_resizedQuick Veggie/Shrimp Bowl

  • Fresh broccoli and stems cut in 1-inch pieces
  • Grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • Frozen shelled/deveined precooked shrimp
  • Olive oil
  • Pecorino Romano and/or Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Pepper (try McCormick’s Peppercorn Medley)
  • Dried basil
  • Old Bay seasoning

You can make this with any amounts of veggies and shrimp, depending on how many you are serving. Cut broccoli into nice chunky pieces, halve the tomatoes. Use a sauté/frying pan, not a deep pot to steam in. Put a 1/2-inch to 1-inch of water in the pan. Bring it to a boil. Drop in veggies. Let them get a little crispy/soft before you drop in the frozen shrimp. Cover and steam just a few minutes until all are heated through and the broccoli is softened, not overcooked, still bright green. Drain, retaining a little of the steaming water. Put veggies and shrimp and a little of the steaming water in a bowl. Toss with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, basil, Old Bay. Toss with a handful of the cheeses until everything is coated. Garnish with a sprinkling of more cheese. Serve with the warmed Cheesy Skillet Quick-Bread.

20161218_101258-1Tomato/Avocado Melt

  • Crusty baguette
  • Tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes)
  • Half an avocado
  • Sharp New York cheddar
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

This is a sort of healthier modification on one of my favorite comfort-food deli breakfast sandwiches (Toasted bagel, cream cheese, tomato, melted cheese).

Slice and partially toast the baguette with a little butter. Top with tomato, season with salt and pepper. Top with sliced cheddar. Put back in toaster-oven to fully toast the baguette and melt the cheese. Remove from oven and top with fresh, sliced avocado. Season to taste.

I hope you get through the holidays without getting the winter crud, but if you do get short of time or energy I hope you enjoy some of these easy, quick and comforting recipes.

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and Chow for Now!

 

Fight or Flight? I can’t make up my mind

feminism_symbolI am a bleeding heart liberal. So sue me. I grew up with the Vietnam War and civil rights protests on the nightly news. I marched on Washington in the 1970s with my mother to support the ERA and attended a truly integrated high school where we got along for the most part and I went to the senior prom with a black friend. Which, according to another friend, “shocked the shit out of everybody.” Who knew? I didn’t notice. I was having a great time with a great guy.

Over the years, I have nurtured my left-wing righteous indignation by walking picket lines as a Hollywood camera assistant in the 1980s, and marching on Washington, again, in the 1990s in a NOW pro-choice rally. As a community reporter in the 2000s I worked at a newspaper that kept issues such as poverty and homelessness, AIDS and healthcare disparities in front of suburban readers. Last year, I attended a unity rally in front of Baltimore’s City Hall following the Freddie Gray unrest. And over the years I supported homeless shelters and food banks and other charities with money and donations.

But lately, besides keeping up what little charity I can afford and sounding off on Facebook and Twitter and on this blog, I feel like my righteous indignation is in need of more righteous action to back up my big mouth.

gasmaskBut since the election of DJT,avengers2 I have vacillated between 1.) shopping for gas masks on amazon and trolling Twitter hashtags to find an angry protest to join and 2.) not giving a fuck about anything and binge watching “The Avengers.”

I try to live my values every day, but lately that righteous indignation and anger feels like a lot of hot air from my hot head that doesn’t make any difference at all. I suppose that’s called apathy, something that throughout my life I have disdained and tried hard not to succumb to.

This morning, as is usual on Saturday mornings in my Randallstown neighborhood, a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses came knocking. I don’t mind answering the door and talking to them, and I always do – although they seem particularly adept at catching me in the middle of breakfast when I’m still in my nightclothes. This morning a very earnest, tall young man of about 13 or so was at the door, holding a pamphlet and asking, “Can the dead really live again?” I didn’t answer his question, and told him Miss Peggy always comes and drops the magazines off to me, but that I’d take his pamphlet. I’m writing a novel right now (or trying to in my apathetic state) that has dead people in it, so the question interests me. I bid them a good day, and closed the door.

Inside the pamphlet was the Bible quote, “There is going to be a resurrection” (Acts 24:15 New World Translation). And I thought of all the people out there, like me. Bleeding heart liberals (go ahead, laugh if you want to) who have spent their lives trying to stand up against injustice and inequality and unfairness and hate, who are feeling kind of dead inside right now. Who see a rise in hate crimes and the specter of the KKK emerging from the shadows – while billionaire businessmen, women who support privatizing public education and xenophobes fill DJT’s cabinet – and wonder what the fuck? Nothing I have done in my life made any difference. So, what’s the point of fighting anymore?

But, being the battered optimist that I am (as well as one who ascribes to no religion) I am taking that quote, “There is going to be a resurrection,” as a fortune-cookie, hopeful moment, and am going to try to believe that all of those things I believe in and that I thought this country was moving toward will rise up, will be resurrected in the hearts and minds of people and that living those values of justice, equality, fairness and humanism do make a difference. Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for a protest to join. Even though I may need to grab my Avengers DVDs and retreat from time to time…

 woman_of_the_apocalypse_hortus_deliciarum“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.”  

(Revelation 12:14 – King James Version)

Let down, or left out? Try these post-election leftovers

Cheer up! Campaign promises already breaking

Feeling let down or left out after the election? While putting together some delicious Cauliflower Parmesan Spinach Crepes from this week’s leftovers, I found I am feeling better about things this morning.

Within 48 hours of the election, the president elect is already backing off on a number of his main campaign promises. Destroy Obamacare? Oh, let’s keep some of it. Appoint a special prosecutor to indict Hillary? Oh, I’m not thinking about that too much. Drain the D.C. swamp? Oh, I think I’ll fill my team with political insiders like Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and the head of the RNC. Kick out all undocumented immigrants? Oh, maybe just a few. How long will his supporters remain his supporters as he moves from far right to center? From rabid autocrat to a soft-centered negotiator? Maybe we’ll see them joining the anti-Trump protests as a few more promises evaporate.

As conservative NYT columnist David Brooks opined this week:

“Trump’s main problem in governing is not going to be some fascistic ideology; his main problem is going to be his own attention span, ignorance and incompetence. If he’s left to bloviate while others are left to run the country and push through infrastructure plans, maybe things won’t be disastrous…Trump’s bigotry, dishonesty and promise-breaking will have to be denounced. We can’t go morally numb. But he needs to be replaced with a program that addresses the problems that fueled his ascent.

After all, the guy will probably resign or be impeached within a year. The future is closer than you think.”

Oh, YIPPIE! So, in the spirit of turning around those feelings of being let down or left out – try these delicious crepes made from leftovers.

win_20161107_18_14_55_proI used leftover Cauliflower Parmesan that I made this week from a NYT recipe.  But you can use any kind of leftovers to fill your crepes.

This morning I made the crepes from a simple Better Homes and Gadens New Cook Book recipe in my recent blog post, First-time Crepes and Halloween Treats.

As the first crepe was about finished browning in the pan, I sprinkled a little shredded Mozzarella cheese over it and let that melt. At the same time, I was reheating my Cauliflower Parmesan and a handful or two of fresh spinach on a plate in the microwave. After sliding the crepe onto a warmed plate, I scooped a couple tablespoons of the hot Cauliflower Parmesan and the wilted spinach into the center of the crepe and rolled it up. Quickly I made another crepe and repeated with the hot fillings. For dessert, make another set of crepes and fill with your favorite flavors such as Nutella, berries, or as I did in my Halloween blog – melted Reese’s chocolate-peanut butter cups. And the crepes are also great plain, just sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.

win_20161112_09_11_42_proMmmm. Comfort food for uncomfortable times.

Chow for Now!

No. 17 Holidays Out of the Box

Bison Christmas Chili was just one way my family celebrated the season "out of the box"

OK. I’m a bit late with the holiday post, but, hey, to me the holidays last until I take the tree, lights and decorations down – usually sometime in the middle of January.
 
I’ve got a couple of recipes coming up and a little riff on how my family chose to think, literally, out of the box this year, which ultimately made this one of the most stress-free, enjoyable holidays we’ve ever had. And that was a comment made by all of us – even the die-hard shopper.
 
Back in October or November, my sister-in-law suggested we not give gifts this year, but instead spend our gift money on an over-night at Antrim, an historic B&B in Taneytown, Md. The no-gifts suggestion has been floated before, which always got torpedoed by my family who thinks if it doesn’t take an hour and a half to open gifts Christmas morning, it’s not really Christmas. This year she added a brilliant caveat – we give gifts, but only those regifted from our own homes, or a cheap gag gift. She remembers telling us just ONE gift, but the rest of us ignored the ONE gift idea and went with our instincts of multiple gifts per person.
 
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, shocked actually, at all the nice gifts I found while “shopping” in my own home. The perfect books, CDs, DVDs, even a never-used wallet/purse, and a great shirt for my XL Tall brother (a like-new hand-me-down from my XL Tall boss.) Even some perfect children’s books for my nephew. The only shopping I did was for a hamster activity center for my nephew – a brand name item on sale for a steal at Big Lots. Gifts that people already had, or didn’t like, were passed on – with no hurt feelings, because they were all recycled gifts anyway!
 
Not to ramble on about this – but we all had the best time finding the gifts, and giving them on Christmas morning. Every gift had a story and everyone commented on how much fun and completely unstressful the holidays were without having to worry about making lists, hitting crowded malls and spending a lot of cash that we didn’t have. Our overnight stay Dec. 27 at Antrim, including drinks, afternoon tea, before-dinner hors d’oeuvres, dinner w/wine, lovely suites, continental breakfast delivered to the room and a full hot breakfast back in the mansion dining room was awesome – more so because a holiday package deal cut hundreds of dollars from our bills. Truly a relaxing, enjoyable family Christmas that was surprisingly affordable – a welcome end to a financially tough year for us all. 
 
OK – on to the recipes. Our out-of-the-box Christmas dinner included Bison Chili and Irish Whiskey Cake – both big hits. For New Year’s Eve, I invented a quick, easy-to-make, but delicious appetizer to go with before-dinner martinis that were also great reheated for breakfast New Year’s Day. 
 
Christmas Bison Chili
  • Olive oil
  • Crushed garlic
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 large sweet red bell pepper
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas
  • 1 lb. ground bison – preferably organic, or at least no hormones, no antibiotics, etc.
  • 28 oz. can vegetarian baked beans
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • red pepper flakes
  • ground sea salt
  • ground black peppercorns
  • 1 T. soy sauce

Saute’ garlic in a couple tablespoons olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven until fragrant, add chopped onion and bell peppers and cook till a bit soft. Push above to one side and add bison meat in chunks to pot. Cook meat through, but don’t overcook. No need to spoon or pour off fat, as the bison is lean and there won’t be much. Simply stir everything back together when the meat is cooked so the meat will pick up some of the flavor of the garlic, onion and pepper. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste and use spices to taste. Simmer for about 1/2 hour. You can add the peas late in the cooking so they retain some of their green color. I then poured the chili in a crock pot and took it to our family gathering. You can leave it on low and let people serve themselves. Because of the sweet peppers and baked beans the chili is sweeter, like Sloppy Joe. It’s great with tortilla chips, or crusty bread. And because it’s made with bison with vegetarian baked beans, it’s probably lower in fat and cholesterol.

Irish Whiskey Cake

This recipe is modified from a recipe in “Traditional Irish Recipes,” by George L. Thompson and a recipe I saw in a newspaper, but can’t remember where. Basically, you’ll need a pound cake (I used Sara Lee), a cup or more of Irish whiskey (I used Powers), a large box of vanilla pudding (the kind you cook), jam or preserves (I used lo-cal strawberry from Aldi), and heavy whipping cream. You’ll also need a nice glass, or crystal bowl, to layer the cake in.

Cut the pound cake in slices and arrange flat on a couple plates. Sprinkle/pour Irish whiskey on both sides of slices – depending on your taste you can moisten, or really douse the cake. Let it sit for a bit while you cook the pudding. The pudding called for 3 c. milk and I substituted 1/2 c. of that with eggnog. It could have used more. Take pudding off burner and let cool. Skim the top before you build the cake. To build the cake: Spread each cake slice with generous layer of preserves, then layer bowl with cake slices and pudding, ending with pudding. Whip a cup or more of heavy whipping cream with a little sugar to sweeten it and top the cake with a thick layer of whipped cream. Using real whipping cream makes a nice thick, not to sweet topping (as opposed to canned or frozen topping). Chill in refrigerator until you serve it. Use a spatula to cut and serve. It held together like a cake – which was surprising. It was also delicious.

Easy New Year’s Eve Appe-Tarts

  • 2 tubes refrigerated crescent roll dough (8-roll size)
  • Saga blue cheese
  • 5 oz. bag Emerald Glazed pecans
  • Fresh-made whole cranberry sauce

I made fresh cranberry sauce for these. Recipe’s on the bag of fresh cranberries, but I used 1/2 c. white and 1/2 c. brown sugar. I also added a tablespoon or so of apricot preserves and some pear liqueur to add some extra flavor. These tarts are fun and simple to make right at the party if you want. If you have kids around, give them some peanut butter, jelly and chocolate chips (or whatever they like) and let them join in and make their own tarts.

Separate the crescent dough triangles. Spread with blue cheese, cranberry sauce and top with pecans. Roll up, or fold, and pinch the dough to seal the tarts. Arrange on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake as directed until golden brown. I think it was 10-12 minutes in a 350 or 400-degree oven. Watch out! The filling is hot, so let them cool a bit while you make the cocktails. Bombay Sapphire Martinis made a great cocktail pairing.

Best Wishes for a Happy New Year and…

Chow for Now!

No. 16 Eggs in Purgatory

 

Eggs in Purgatory make a great snow day breakfast!

Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009, and looks like we’re toppling some snowfall records here in the Baltimore area. Could end up being in the top five worst Baltimore blizzards. What to do, besides watch it fall, bundle up, and eat comforting, warming food?   I also took the time to do some weatherizing around the house, sealing joints in the ductwork in the basement, using foam stick-back insulating strips around my door jams to seal doors against leaks, and installing more CFLs in the house, which I hope will all save me some more energy dollars, but more on that after the food talk.

So, this morning as I perused the breakfast offerings in my fridge, I didn’t want to settle with my standard day-off menu of eggs, soy bacon, grits, toast and tea. Yeah, I know, sounds boring, but, it’s one of my favorite meals. 

With everything frosty and white outside, I decide to spice it up inside with some devilish Eggs in Purgatory, one of my other favorite egg-centric meals. One that I don’t eat very often, but enjoy every time. 

Basically, Eggs in Purgatory are eggs cooked in tomato sauce. You can use straight tomato sauce, and spice it up like I did this morning, or you can use spaghetti sauce, which would already be seasoned. You’ll need a small frying pan, a small can of tomato sauce, two fresh, raw eggs, some kind of bread to toast, (pick something like a 12-grain that’ll hold up to the sauce) and cheese. Sharp cheddar, pepper jack, even parmesan work fine. And some spices for the sauce, unless you’re using spaghetti sauce. The whole thing takes about 5-10 minutes. 

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 eggs
2 pieces bread
Sharp cheddar or other cheese for grating
Spices of your choice

Heat tomato sauce in a small frying pan on medium heat until bubbly, but not bubbling violently. Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, dried parsley, hot pepper flakes and a little nutmeg, or any spices you choose. Break two eggs into a cup, then slide carefully into the bubbling sauce. Make sure the sauce is bubbling just gently or the eggs won’t stay together. Cover. Put your bread in the toaster so it’s done as the eggs finish. As the eggs cook you can use a soup spoon to gently baste the tops with the sauce to set them. I cook mine til the yolks are softly hard cooked and the white is firm. You can soft boil them if you want. Hard cooking them makes them real easy to get out.

When eggs are cooked. put both pieces of toast on a warmed plate. Use a slotted spatula to lift the eggs out of the sauce and center them on each piece of toast. Evenly distribute the rest of the sauce over the eggs/toast. Grate cheese over hot eggs/sauce. You may want to slide the plate in the toaster oven for a minute to really get the cheese nice and melty.
Yum! Great dish for a snow day!

I had a free home energy audit by BGE this week. Absolutely worth the time. The auditor did a tour of my house and gave me tips on how to save more money on energy consumption. (I already have sealed my old windows with shrink-wrap, and did another 6 inches of insulation in the attic a few years ago.) She intalled a new low-flow shower head, and low-flow faucet aerator in the bathroom, and gave me 6 CFLs. There was no charge for the service or the items she installed. Go to www.bgesmartenergy.com.

Ciao for Now!

No. 15 Pumpkin Eater

Eat that pumpkin

I carve pumpkins every year for Halloween, but the last time I actually cooked something with fresh pumpkin was a watery, not very tasty pumpkin pie about 20 years ago. So, I wasn’t inspired to try again.  Since Halloween this year, I’ve been eyeing the small uncarved pumpkin sitting on my dining room table and told myself not to throw away good food. Make something with it and eat it. Don’t waste the 2 bucks you spent on it, I told myself.

I found a simple “Smoky Pumpkin Soup” recipe in “The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook” in my kitchen. The small pumpkin was just the right size. I made a few substitutions – only using what I had available in the house. So, instead of Marsala wine, I used Sweet Vermouth. Instead of bacon, I used turkey bacon. I don’t keep unsalted butter, so I used regular butter. I didn’t have any Thyme – so I used a dash, and I mean a little dash, of poultry seasoning that had Thyme in it, among other things. Be warned – what takes the longest about this recipe is cutting, scooping, slicing, peeling and cubing the pumpkin.

Smoky Pumpkin Soup

6 slices bacon, diced, cooked crisp, fat reserved
4 T. (1/2 stick) butter
6 c. peeled pumpkin, cut in 1-inch cubes
6 c. beef boullion (I used boullion cubes)
1/2 c. sweet vermouth
dash poultry season
Fresh ground sea salt and black pepper
Heavy cream (optional)
Toasted pumpkin seeds (optional – if you want to toast the seeds you scooped out and use them for garnish or on the side.)

Cook the bacon in a stock pot. Remove the bacon, leave the fat. Add butter. Add pumpkin and saute over medium-high heat for 15 mins. stirring occasionally until pumpkin starts to brown and soften. (By the way – if you stop here and sprinkle with course salt – you have a great side dish.)

Add six cups beef stock, cover and simmer about 30 mins. Pumpkin will get very tender. Turn off heat. Add Vermouth, Thyme, salt and pepper. Here you can take it out and puree in a blender, or, I kept it on the stove and just used my hand-held mixer to blend it. It worked fine.

Add the crumbled or cut-up bacon back to the pot and simmer another couple minutes. Serve by ladeling into bowls and stirring into each a tablespoon of cream. Garnish with the toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with hot crusty bread and butter.

PUMPKIN PIE TIP: I made a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Just a traditional one from the recipe on a can of packed pumpkin I bought at Aldi. BUT, I added a box of pumpkin spice pudding mix my friend Mare gave me. It made the pie richer and creamier. Give it a try. I got lots of compliments on it. I also made my own whipped cream by whipping some heavy cream with a little sugar. Yum. That was a nice touch.

Chow for Now!