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Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

Woke up very hungry this morning and thinking about some of my favorite meals. After this cup of coffee I will go to the kitchen and find something simple and tasty for breakfast. But in the meantime – let me share two of my favorite dishes that I recently created in my own little kitchen!

First – a fresh vegan salad. Made with all kinds of goodies like Romaine lettuce, pickled beets, fresh orange pieces, carrots, onions, and chopped pecans. With a slightly sweet balsamic vinaigrette drizzled over all. Add a multi-grain roll and I’m smiling from ear to ear with each bite!

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Then a new vegetarian recipe I recently sorta made up. Spaghetti noodles cooked, then tossed in a pot on top of the stove with enough tomato sauce to coat. Could be my brother Johnny’s delicious homemade sauce, or could be a quick favorite sauce out of a jar. First, place just a few tablespoons of sauce in the bottom of the dish. Fill my little baking dish about half full – packing down the noodles and sauce. Top with a little ricatto cheese, freshly grated Parmesan, and thinly slice fresh mozzarella. Repeat with packing in noodles and cheese. Top with a little more sauce and place in the 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes (or a little longer).

So easy!! And my little dish makes three servings when also devoured along with a salad or another green vegetable. It’s like lasagna, but just easier than layering with the large noodles. See how pretty?

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Saturday morning early. Planning my day. Quick trip to pick up new glasses today – the ones I use for work at the computer. A lot of reading ahead on the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and plans for the American Library Association’s MidWinter meeting in January.

A really bright spot in my day will be all the delicious leftovers in my kitchen. One of the most wonderful aspects of having a few good friends over for dinner is the leftovers the next day. At my house! Another perk is that I cleaned the apartment really well before they arrived and now it is quite the shipshape space this morning and will stay that way for several days! That’s my plan anyway 🙂 .

There were three of us, Alexis, Wan, and me …. and I forgot the camera. again. But the evening started with a favorite cheeseball I made the night before. along with a mixture of gourmet olives, cornichons, and red grapes. Followed by bowls of mushroom soup freshly created with shiitake and crimini mushrooms, butter, and a little heavy whipping cream in with the milk.

There was an eye of round roast, candied yams, and marinated raw veggies. I set out a plate of baked goodies cut into small pieces (thank you Whole Foods!) to serve with decaf coffee at the end, but we were all pretty much full by that time. Oh! And really cold Diet Coke out of the can for Alexis. Her fav!

You want to know what was really super fantastic? Even though we were too full to keep eating, we were not too full to keep talking. We each have different backgrounds, different thought processes, and our bachelor’s degrees are from three different areas. Wan has a JD; Alexis and I each have a Masters in Library Science. So naturally we did not totally agree on everything in our discussions. But we conversed for quite some time, explaining our thoughts about taxes and the economic situation and people in the news. We laughed and learned. It was simply a magnificent evening!

Yes, a clean house, quick trip planned to pick up my glasses, preparing for ALA and discussions to provide the best library services possible, delicious coffee by my side, and a refrigerator full of scrumptious yummies! Yes …. good day. good day.

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Sitting on my balcony this morning, drinking my Starbucks coffee and nibbling on a delicious oatmeal cookie I purchased at Whole Foods last night. Not too far from my apartment are several really wonderful grocery stores, and last night I chose Whole Foods. What a fantastic hot and cold bar! I bought a very little bit of cauliflower, broccoli, bean sprouts, and green peas. If I add mushrooms, carrots, and onions to the mix I will have enough for two generous servings of stir-fry veges this week. I think a few raw cashews topping those veges would be just perfect. Yep! A plan. Today I will go to the local Giant grocery to pick up some of Amy’s low-sodium soups. Can’t seem to find the low-sodium anywhere else.

Sigh….. I do miss a co-op, though. I loved my co-op in Carrboro, NC (Weaver Street Market) and the one I left in Manhattan, KS (Peoples Grocery). However, no city offers everything for me, and Annapolis still ranks pretty high in most areas! (especially seafood. yum!)

Gone is almost all of my delicious vegetable soup I made a couple of weeks ago, so I need to make more. Only one or two more servings in the refrig, and I really like to pack it for lunches. Add a few crackers and peanut butter or cheese – and oh my goodness I am smiling!

This past Sunday I made a scrumptious fish gumbo, made with tomatoes (from a can), lots of sliced okra, green pepper, onion, a few seasonings, and grouper. I use a little more hot red pepper than written in the recipe, but I like the heat. Now, my heat is not the kind that makes your eyes bulge out and your forehead sweat. But it is rather hot. Also, my soup does not include rice – I place a few tablespoons of rice (brown and wild mix) on top of the gumbo. That way the rice is more neutral and helps my tongue adjust to the heat. Or something like that!

I used one of Mama Dipp’s recipes (those of you from North Carolina probably know about Mama Dipp!), only she uses catfish. And I have adjusted it in a few other ways as well. But from her I learned the trick of placing the rice on top when being served. I truly like that idea! And if you like spicy hot soups, I suggest you try the same sometime. Here is a photo:

Another night I prepared sliced eggplant with melted cheese. I don’t like breading on my veges, so I simply performed the usual eggplant ritual of washing, slicing, salting, draining on a paper towel for 20 minutes, rinsing, and frying in just a tiny bit of canola oil. Sometimes I just throw it in a hot frying pan and “dry” cook it, but that little bit of oil adds some crispy. While that was frying I sliced a few thin slices of fontina cheese and Parmesan Reggiano. Then took the slightly crispy eggplant, placed a little cheese on top, and broiled for a bit in my toaster oven.

Before beginning on the eggplant, I cut in half the rest of my mixture of tiny tomatoes from last week’s trip to the farmers’ market, sliced an onion, and marinated those tasty morsels in balsamic vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, and basil.

THEN!! I took out of the freezer a serving of lump crab meat. Yes, I said lump crab. Oh oh oh one of my new favorite foods in this world. Seriously people. It is so sweet and rich that I cannot eat too much at one time, so I freeze in small servings.

Anyway, I sliced a few mushrooms and browned them in butter; once the butter had browned I added a touch of white wine. Threw in the crabmeat and tossed it a bit so it would just warm through and not cook too much. Then two tablespoons of whipping cream. Oh. My. Goodness. I stirred for about 5 seconds, then placed on my plate.

And there was more! For another fantabulous meal I prepared an avocado salad with thinly sliced onions, chunks of grapefruit, and a little French dressing. This dressing I made from a recipe out of an older cookbook that belonged to my grandmamma, and it consists of mostly oil and cider vinegar with a little paprika. I think I will start to cook more from that old cookbook, but I’ll write about that project another day. In the meantime, here is a picture:

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Delicious meals and guests

Hello world on this cold morning! I thought I’d start talking about food (well, duh, that’s what I do!) I have eaten and/or prepared lately. Such as the one dish I made recently – shrimp with Alfredo sauce on wild rice. I realize that this entrée is usually prepared with pasta, but when I was much younger my mother use to prepare a shrimp and cheese dish (involved Campbell’s shrimp soup that we bought frozen “in the day”) and she served it on Minute Rice. So cheesy shrimp on rice always tastes more natural to me. Hmmm……poor choice of words. Shrimp in cheese is not natural unless these little creatures live and swim in cheese. They don’t. They’d probably enjoy it as much as I would, but they don’t. I guess I should say it just taste “mo better” on rice. And, as we know, that two-word phrase would be something the great Justin Wilson would have said.

Anyway, the other night I made my usual white sauce, substituting heavy whipping cream for a portion of the milk. This sauce is super tasty and rich made with all whipping cream, but I have found that it is truly not good for my cholesterol levels, and I have a past lab test to prove it! However, when I make something special, like my homemade Alfredo sauce or tomato bisque, I use some cream, just not all cream. [And since making that one simple change in my life, cholesterol seems to no longer be a problem. Really. I’ve had two lab testings since that not-so-good one, and they have both been well within normal limits. I’m not so stubborn that I cannot adjust my cooking practices when necessary. Truly.]

The sauce begins with a roux composed of real butter and flour, stirred together until a light golden brown. Then goes in the milk and cream. Just when it starts to bubble I add my freshly grated Parmesan. Then the raw shrimp. My goodness! Does that sound heavenly or what?!? When I serve it to guests I use whole-wheat pasta, because pasta is what they expect. But when it is just me? Bring out that whole-grain rice!

I’ve also rediscovered a fairly healthy breakfast that I learned from Johnny. Well, for him it was always an after-school snack, but I find it is a very filling and tasty breakfast, plus it is easy to pack and prepare at my desk if I go to work earlier than usual. Simply this: a few Ritz crackers, a schmear of natural peanut butter on each, topped with slices of banana. Now, I realize that a hearty whole-wheat cracker would be better for me than a Ritz, but I love a Ritz cracker! And the low-fat Ritz cracker is crunchier than the regular, so that’s how I make this breakfast. I’ve eaten that combo several times lately. Side note: Johnny often (or always?), included a second schmear of Miracle Whip salad dressing. I use to do the same, but trying to keep most of my meals healthier, I not longer add the MW. And I find it just as tasty and filling, just maybe not as slippery.

The hubby, Brent, has been out here in Kansas for a few days and we’ve had a few good meals together already. First night after he arrived into the Manhattan airport, I prepared chicken coq au vin. Lots of onions and mushrooms in that one! Yes, and a little bacon grease and butter, too. Really, I just used a little! Since Brent is not fond of too much wine in any of his food, I substituted some of the red wine with water, just to calm down the flavor a little. Believe me, it was still very scrumptious and special. He ate every bite! And you know, we cooks love it when that happens. We also had creamed white potatoes, green beans, and a small serving of my favorite beet salad. He had been anxious to try some of the beer from the local Tallgrass brewery, so he drank that with his meal, and I had a glass of Riesling. Even though we were both totally stuffed, there was also decaf coffee and tiny Toll House cookies I baked in the toaster oven after we had completed our meal. These cookies I buy in the dairy case in the grocery store and just cut off small portions of the dough and cook them in that little oven. By waiting to bake them, we were assured of those gooey little warm chocolate morsels. Oh my oh my! Absolutely delectable!! Even though there is nothing quite as wonderful as something freshly prepared and baked, I just don’t eat sweets enough to warrant making a whole cake or batch of cookies. So, every once-in-a-while I bake two of these tiny cookies in my toaster oven.

Yesterday we went back to campus and ate the special buffet lunch that the Bluemont Room offered for Valentine’s Day. We met my friends Alice and Tara C. and totally ate and ate and ate! The company was wonderful and the food was better than usual. However, I didn’t want much supper that evening. Brent and I together made a large bowl of guacamole (with the chunks in it that I learned from Larry), and crunchy corn chips. After eating some of that I was totally stuffed! However, Brent still wanted a little more dinner, so I heated up for him a serving of the meatless baked pasta I had frozen several weeks ago. Lots of cheese! I heated it on the stove top and added a little more spaghetti sauce so it wouldn’t be too dry. Toasted some bread, and also added one small meatball (again, I had frozen a few a while back). He seemed pleased with that, filled up, and we neither one had coffee of dessert last night.

Today we are planning a drive to Wamego to go back to the Emerald City Market where we plan to buy the Parmesan that will go with our homemade pesto we will make tonight or tomorrow night, and a nice chunk of Stilton blue. The Stilton goes heavenly with my 1/2 apple snack I have almost every morning at work, and……well….I just adore cheese! Especially really fine cheese like they have at the Emerald City Market. The other night we have left together we plan to grill a steak. Brent is definitely a meat-eater, can grill a steak the best ever, and how can he come to Kansas and we not have a good ol’ Kansas beef steak? I mean, it just all goes together, right? But there will also be some veges and a fresh tossed salad. Oh my oh my! I’ve got to wait at least 10 whole hours until the supper hour. Can I do? Will I do it? Life is full of challenges, isn’t it?

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This week has been interesting for me. Feeling blue. Feeling angry. “What for?” you may ask. Well, I’m not really sure. I think part of the reason is that I am missing Carrboro, this wonderful little town I lived in while working at UNC in Chapel Hill. Very liberal – much more than I am myself. What I liked most was walking to my co-op grocery and hot bar and deli on a Saturday morning and eating a vegetarian (or easily a vegan) hearty breakfast, and sitting on the lawn with many others. Over-hearing the various conversations, sometimes about their organic farming operation, sometimes about the most recent opera in Raleigh, some conversations about the work being done to repair a leak in their roof, a carpenter talking about his new job on a construction sight, or (my personal favorite!), public policy issues, both federal and local, that are in the news.

I surely am not unhappy here in Kansas! But maybe because it is that Christmas time of year, I am just thinking of times past. I’m not sure. However, I’ll be glad when the mood passes!

In the meantime, I’ve been having a few wonderful moments to add to my repertoire of memories! Since my Carrboro Co-op, Weaver Street Market, is something I am really missing right now, Saturday I decided to not only buy groceries and maybe a sandwich at People’s Grocery (my smaller co-op here in Manhattan), but also to take the time to eat that sandwich right there! I read a vegetarian magazine while sitting quietly at a table, eating a homemade green pea salad and one-half of a sandwich. Yum! I requested the multi-grain bread, but they were out that day, so I decided to to splurge on the sourdough. (Yes, I should have ordered the whole wheat, they had it, but…..sigh…..I’m a sucker for white flour!) They have a menu board with all the fixin’s for a tasty sandwich, listing proteins, veges, and spreads. I can just pick what I want and they make it fresh for me. And I stand there every time, and go “hmmmm….what do I want today?” And I almost always get the same thing: cucumber, onion, herbed cream cheese, tomato, and avocado. Yesterday that is exactly what I did. ‘Cept I went wild and did not have tomato! Someone needs to calm down this librarian woman!

Wednesday was the special “Winter Holiday” luncheon for the library, and we were treated to a tasty meal from the Bluemont Room in the Union. I sat with several of my friends and laughed and laughed! I watched tiny little Jenny eat several desserts (not fair!), and we talked about Tara’s baby pictures. Sara made me laugh until I thought milk would come shooting out of my nose! OK, so it would have been water or coffee, but the milk analogy reminds me of elementary school when I ate at a table with friends every day.

Now, when it comes to the food, I think it was the creamed spinach I liked best. I brought blue cheese dressing from home and enjoyed the tossed salad. (I never like Bluemont Room salad dressings, and I never go wrong with cheese!) I ate a little dessert and drank a very tasty cup of coffee. And then, of course, a nap was calling me. However, I wanted to keep my job, so I decided to let it keep calling while I kept working.

The next night one of those friends invited me to her house to help decorate her tree. There was food and a small gathering of more friends. And food. And cheese, of course. What a great idea! Lay out all the ornaments, and around the ornaments place some tasty food, and I go to town! One ornament on the tree, two bites of food. One ornament on the tree, three bites of food. And on and on and on! My favorites were the homemade guacamole with pomegranate seeds. Boy that was good! And Donna also made a pot of settler’s beans, something I never eaten before, but I ate two bowls that night. And Ellen brought one of my favorite snacks in the world: cream cheese and pepper jelly to spread over hearty crackers! Wow! By the time I left I could have rolled home! But thankfully I had driven my car.

We laughed, we ate, we talked some about Chapel Hill and Carrboro (Jenny and Matt were at UNC while I was there, too), and a little about public policies. Man! I have not been able to find many people here who are interested in discussing current events, so that was a really great treat for me.

Last night I was invited to another friend’s house for dinner, and it was really wonderful. Jan is not part of my library world, and I find I enjoy having at least one friend away from work. She and her husband had a few friends over for dinner and included me, and again, I ate and ate and ate. There was a tossed salad with roasted tiny tomatoes, small chunks of roasted zucchini, feta cheese (did someone say cheese?), and a tasty vinaigrette. There was garlic bread, deviled eggs, baked beans, and twice-baked potatoes with a little cheddar. Fred had smoked lamb chops and pork ribs on his grill, and everyone really gobbled those! For appetizers we had homemade cheesy breadsticks, a corn dip, and an herbed Fromage d’Affinois and crackers. I even had a little wine with the cheese and crackers! I have found that if I only have about half a cup of wine with some food, then eat a full meal and wait at least an hour or more before I drive, I’m fine.

It was really, really great this week to spend so much time with friends. I guess I am creating new memories here in Kansas, and one day I will look back on these memories and miss them like I miss Carrboro. But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy each and every one!

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How I love to eat!

I don’t usually have time until the weekend to share, but yesterday was such a great day I had to talk about it! Now, aren’t you the lucky one?

It just seemed to be a day I got a lot accomplished around the apartment. First I completed all the cleaning that had to be done – the rest, well, I’ll deal with it later. Then I prepared some of those meals I wanted. First, I made the shrimp gumbo. I make it with red pepper flakes, and it also calls for hot sauce, but sometimes it is just too hot for me. So this time I left out the hot sauce, and figured if I was sharing it with someone who wanted hotter, they could just add it at the table. Then, by mistake, I put in the whole 6 oz. can of tomato paste when I should have put in only 3 oz. I didn’t realize it until it had totally melded with the diced tomatoes. I could have added more tomatoes, but I didn’t have extra shrimp or okra for a larger pot, so I just added a little turbinado sugar to take out some of the “bitter acid” that too much paste can contribute.

Wow was it good! And I like thick stews more than soups, so the extra thickness did not bother me. Actually, it made the scoop of brown rice sit up even better than usual. Oh my goodness I cannot wait to eat it a second time – maybe for lunch tomorrow. I was able to get four nice size servings from this pot, and I froze two of them.

I also snapped and cooked some fresh green beans from the farmer’s market and I ate some of those for supper. Mmmmm. . . .made me really miss my mother-in-law’s cooking, even though mine were still scrumptious! And with these green beans I ate some of the homemade mac and cheese I prepared with whole wheat penne noodles. Creamy and so very tasty! That is what I am packing for my lunch today, more green beans, mac and cheese (I guess I should call it pen and cheese!), and a small raw vege salad.

For the cheese sauce I start with my own mom’s white sauce. (Boy am I glad I learned how to make that white sauce. Easy and used as the base for many creamy sauces.) I prefer Extra sharp NY cheddar for this, but I also added some regular NY sharp from a dairy in Alma, a town not too far from here. Even with low-fat milk it was creamy and rich, and I’m already looking forward to lunch! I believe I have about four more servings after today.

But the extra treat was. . . .yes. . . .a dessert. I made a Southern chess pie, a recipe I cut out of the newspaper some. . . .ahem. . . .33 years ago during our first year of marriage. It is simple, so very rich and sweet, and I think yummy! I made a pot of de-caf, and invited my neighbor over for a little tete-a-tete at the dining table. (oooh! I’ve always wanted to use tete-a-tete in a sentence!). We talked about his summer of research and learning and creative activity and I thoroughly enjoyed it. He really seemed to like my efforts at baking and of course that pleased me. Now I need to take the rest of the pie to another neighbor because I surely don’t need to eat any more of it.

Not only did I clean and cook, I got half-way through a project I need to complete by my evaluation time in October. And watched two episodes of Northern Exposure on the rented DVD. Yes, a good day.

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