Does this make me sound like I have a problem?

Long, long ago I watched some TV chefs boil pasta in a mixture of water and red wine. It seemed like a good idea, but varying Internet reviews reported that the wine only changed the color of the noodles, not really the taste.
So I moved on with my life, and continued to boil my pasta in clear, salty water, and serve the average pasta with a nice glass of wine on the side.

But  I read more about how jarred pasta sauces contain weird things that drive up the calorie count, and my dread of firing up the stove to brown lots of meats and make my own sauce on a hot July afternoon grew exponentially, I went back to the pasta-in-wine concept.  I had a half a bottle of red wine (purchased at Lemon Creek during last summer’s annual trip to Michigan wine country) left over from the previous weekend, I figured I had nothing to lose.
If it turned out really badly, I still had enough eggs in the house for omelets. And you can put ANYTHING in an omelet.

I used this recipe for from Real Simple magazine, and after a quick trip to Whole Foods for some cheese, I was in business (I did substitute lemon pepper for lemon zest and pepper, which seemed to work just fine, and I always use whole wheat pasta).

Seemed simple enough

The pasta had a savory taste without being vinegar-y, and the lemon freshened the whole thing up considerably. The Romano cheese was a nice sharp taste to round the whole thing out.

Worth the Risk

A fine summer meal.

Stuffed peppers…losta them

I tried this recipe for stuffed peppers the other night, and it was certainly a hit in my house – who doesn’t like turkey, garlic and mashed potatoes, really, but I felt like I got WAY more food out of it than I needed. Here’s what happened:
I boiled 2 lbs. of potatoes as directed. I cooked a small amount of ground turkey. I bought four green peppers. I boiled, mashed, stuffed, drizzled and baked.
And then 2 nights later I sent the other eater in my household to the grocery store for three more peppers so that I cold get rid of some of the leftover potatoes and the other half of the package of ground turkey. And tonight one of us will still be eating leftover turkey and mashed potatoes out of a Tupperware container.

Cleaning out the Refrigerator

I’m sure I found this recipe for orzo salad because I was looking for something to do with all the fresh mint that grows from my window boxes (gotta love townhouse living), but it solved so many of my food problems this weekend:

  • 1) LEFTOVER FISH I enjoyed a fabulous Mexican meal Friday night with old friend who recently moved to my hometown, but I came home with half the blackened fish from fish tacos. Hot Tamales makes some of the best around, served with fresh tomato salsa, pineapple salsa, warm flour tortillas, and a HUGE portion of fresh fish. But, I’m always a little unsure of what to do with leftover fish. Microwaving it for lunch at work seems unkind to my colleagues, but the fish needs to be addressed quickly, if at all. Thus, this orzo provided the perfect bed for the fish. I split the leftover portion in two, laid it over the orzo and was quite happy with the results.
  • 2) LEFTOVER VEGGIES In my refrigerator I had a few cherry tomatoes from pesto pasta I’d made earlier in the week, parts of a red onion from the Barefoot Contessa’s shrimp salad I’d tried, and some sliced black olives from something so unremarkable I can’t even remember why I opened them. So, I ignored Giada’s recommended veggies (especially the chickpeas. I love hummus, but not so much the whole bans) and used up my own mix of leftovers. It worked great!
  • 3) SURPLUS FRESH HERBS I love the way my window boxes look from the outside of my house (which is for sale, by the way) and the way you get a nice scent in my kitchen with the warm summer breeze blows just right, but sometimes I feel pressure to trim them back and make use of them before they get all spindly and weird. This recipe make use of just enough herb to give my boxes a little haircut early in the season.
  • 4) COOKING IN BROTH I’d read a lot about this, but never tried it. It was great! I’ll definitely do it again soon.

Also, I served it with a yummy lime spritzer. 10 Cane white rum makes everything better.

no leftovers

I am usually all about making too much food for dinner specifically so that there are leftovers for lunch or dinner at least the next day, preferably the next two days. But now I’m finding with fresh vegetables – especially with Farmers’ Market finds – that they are not as good on day 2, unless they are raw.

Nevertheless, I really like this vegetable toss I made the other day: 1 large bunch of broccoli, steamed to taste, tossed with a mix of salt, 1 T. lime juice and 1/2 t. sesame oil. So light. So savory. So nice with a pork chop.

So not good as leftovers. Not even tossed with lettuce and dredged in Paul Newman’s light honey mustard salad dressing.

Welcome to my world!

My name is Joanna, and this is my blog.

I like to cook. I like to think that I’m a pretty good cook, in an amateur-forever-beholden-to-other-people’s-great-recipes sort of way. Maybe the problem is that I like to eat so much that I’m driven to find great recipes for the things I like, and then I concentrate really hard on making them exactly as the recipes says to. Maybe this dogged determination is what has twice landed me in one of America’s leading weight loss programs.

On the nights I don’t like to cook, I like to shop for things that make it easier to seem like I’ve cooked: “bottled food enhancers,” frozen foods that reheat well, and gadgets that make it more difficult for me to draw blood while cooking. In fact, now that I’m looking for a new house, my biggest concern is a kitchen big enough to hold all my food-related stuff.

I have a full-time job that is not food-related, but it allows me lots of time to read about food. There are some great sites for amateurs (like me), dieters (like me), and readers (like me). They are what inspired me to start this silly blog anyway.

Most recently, I hosted Easter dinner in my home. This is fun because I get to pick the menu AND I get to enjoy all the leftovers in the comfort of my pajamas for the next several days. The real challenge is finding uses for all the leftover ingredients after everyone has gone home. I made a nice creamed spinach dish this year, but was left with half a container of half-and-half in my refrigerator. I prefer milk in my coffee, so I turned to the folks at Every Day Food for this late-night treat:

Chocolate soda
¼ c. half and half
2 T. chocolate syrup
5 oz. seltzer water (I used club soda and that worked well, too)
Mix the chocolate syrup and half and half in a tall glass. Still stirring, mix in the settler water until the top gets foamy. Serve with a long spoon so that you can get all the chocolate off the bottom at the end!