Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gifts from the Garden

    My backyard garden is overflowing with an amazing bounty of tomatoes, squash, peppers, and cucumbers thanks to this unbearable heat wave. Surprisingly, I still manage to get out there daily to weed and pick and admire. My tomato plants are so heavy with juicy ripe fruit I am forever retying them. Note to self: Must get cages next year. These wooden steaks do nothing.

   My patty pan squash are now green. I have no idea why. Did I plant them too close to the cucumbers and the zucchini? I haven't the fainest clue but they still taste great sliced thin with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and then tossed on the grill. I use a grill pan for these guys so they don't fall through. I cook them until they are soft and have a nice golden color on them. The patty pan are mild in flavor so they go great with any grilled meat. Last night we paired the squash with Hoisin barbecued chicken thighs. Yum!

One of the joys I am experiencing are with my tomatoes. We have sooooo many tomatoes we started giving them away to neighbors. We have a few who have lost their spouses recently and it was heartwarming to see their eyes light up when we stopped over with a sample of our backyard harvest for them. One neighbor, in return for the tomatoes, brought us bags of fresh fruit from their job at a produce warehouse. We decided to whip up some lemonade using the 20 lemons he gave us and invited him in. Not only do we have a neighbor to trade goodies with, but we also made some new friends right across the street. We invited some more people over for my special lemonade cocktails and if they brought a baggie, they could load it up with stuff from the garden. I also am trading veggies with other friends as well who are growing fresh garlic and shallots. It is a blessing and a joy to be able to give and share these gifts from my garden.

     Rob is enjoying tomato sandwiches with salt, pepper, and a little Hellman's mayo while I prefer to slice mine atop a nice grilled flat bread. Forget the mayo, I spread on a nice layer of ricotta cheese on my flat bread, add the tomatoes and some fresh basil before broiling it. This weekend I plan on stuffing some of these big boys with tuna or chicken salad!

     My friend Sue made these cool little caprese kabobs using my grape tomatoes. She just speared them with a toothpick in between slices of fresh mozzerella and basil and drizzled a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil. This makes for a yummy and easy party food or a fun and light summer snack! Caprese is a salad from the isle of Capri and consists of anything made up of fresh mozzerella, basil, and tomato. Try this summery combo on a grilled baguette for a meatless but filling sandwich.

     The cucumber salads have finally stopped but I have been dipping my tasty cukes and grape tomatoes in hummus or tzatziki sauce for a healthy snack. For homemade tzatziki, just mix some fat free plain Greek yogurt (a must-have staple in my kitchen) with fresh or dried dill, freshly ground pepper, salt, lemon juice, and minced garlic. You can also dice up some cucumbers and throw them in there too but toss some salt on them and allow the water to drain from the cucumbers first. This will prevent the sauce from getting too watery. Put the sauce on some grilled chicken and place in a pita with a slice of tomato and some diced cucumbers for an easy homemade chicken gyro. Iron Chef Michael Symon's tzatziki sauce and gyro recipe look pretty banging too.

I am starting to get tired of my usual sauteed zucchini, so I am going to experiment with some of the stuff I have "pinned" on Pinterest recently. The zucchini fries or fritters are both tasty little items I am going to be cooking up soon! My mother-in-law made a fantastic zucchini bread for us down the shore last weekend. I am going to have to bring her more goodies from the garden in order to get that recipe.

    I have been blessed by this amazing garden in my backyard. It is really something to come home after a long day of summer school, crack open a beer, and just beam at the sight of new veggies popping up everywhere. I have been able to share my harvest with so many friends, family, and neighbors. Who knew something growing from the ground could bring people together.

For any of these mouthwatering, garden fresh recipes, click on the highlighted words.

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! -Psalm 34:8

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rummy's top 10 foodie picks of the week

     Another week has gone by and I have cooked, eaten, and drank so many things but cannot decide on which one to blog about so here's another top 10. Next weekend I will be blogging a special report from the Angelsea BBQ and Blues Fest to show you just how much pork I can stuff into my face in one weekend.

10. Cool as a Cucumber Smoothie: EWWW who drinks cucumbers? That was my exact thoughts
 when I saw this recipe. I have not been doing well in this dreaded summer swelter so I decided to do some research on foods that cool your body temp down. Cucumbers were the #1 food and boy do I have some crazy cucumbers growing in my garden. What a perfect way to use some up because I am getting tired of cucumber salad (see #5). Peel a cucumber and slice it thin. Don't worry about the seeds, you're going to blend it all up anyway. Slice up a few strawberries too if you have them and throw them in a blender with ice, fresh mint, and a cup or 2 of fat free yogurt. I used 1 cup of vanilla and 1 cup of lemon yogurt. Blend it all up for a very cool and refreshing drink. If it's too healthy for you, just throw some rum in it.

9. Get a little Cuban in ya: Finally got to check out Casona in Collingswood which is supposed to be SJ's best spot for Cuban cuisine. We went for brunch and it was absolutely delicious! Service was a little slow but the ambiance was very cozy. I had the Habano Maduro which was a giant stuffed plantain (love them) covered in citrus pork, Swiss cheese, avocado sauce, and some pickled onion thingies that I liked, surprisingly. There were so many interesting layers of flavors in this dish. I have not ever tasted anything like this. The portions were huge especially after eating many arepas (cornmeal patties) and cheese empanadas as an appetizer. I loved the guacamole at Casona. Very fresh and flavorful. Check this place out for brunch. Prices are decent and there is something on the menu for everyone.

8. Star spangled cake: CAKE!!!! Who doesn't love cake? I wanted make a special cake for 4th of July. You gotta have cake after scarfing down lots of juicy burgers and greasy dogs, right? This cake can be made for Memorial Day or Labor Day bbq's too. I took a simple yellow box cake mix and made the batter according to the directions on the box. I split the batter in half. I placed the 1st half of the batter in a greased 9x13 glass pan. The second half I placed in another 9x13 inch glass pan but this one I lined with parchment paper. Bake both cakes according to the directions minus 10 minutes because the cakes are thinner. Remove from oven and cool. Meanwhile, take some vanilla or cheesecake flavored sugar free Jello and make according to 5 minute directions on the box. Then, fold in some strawberry or blueberry preserves and refrigerate for 10 minutes. When cake has cooled, spread pudding/preserve mixture onto cake #1. Carefully take the cake out of pan #2 with paper attached. Flip it over onto cake 1and remove paper. Top with Cool Whip and Fresh strawberries and blueberries for a yummy yet patriotic dessert everyone will love.

7. What the heck is that thing in my garden? Pattypan squash is something I have never heard of until I discovered it growing in my garden. When I purchased these squash plants at a local farm stand in April, the tag read "yellow squash" so I assumed I bought the yellow squash that looked like a zucchini, except they were, um, yellow. When these guys started growing in my garden they started to look like round knobby things, not long. What???? So of course I went inside and did some research. Found out, they are called pattypan and you can do oh so many things with these guys. Cook them like you would a zucchini but they are a little more dense inside so I would cook them a tad bit longer. I took a whole pattypan and hollowed it out and baked it, stuffed it with more squash, soaked wheat bread, cheese and bacon and baked it some more. YUM!!! Here's some useless knowledge: Green pattypan squash is also known as Peter Pan squash. Oooooh!

6. Pickling Peppers: The Experiment: I picked a lot of peppers out of my garden. I have a bunch more that are probably ready right now. What to do with all these peppers? I decided to try pickling these banana peppers because they are mighty tasty on a sammich. I tried a variety of recipes I Googled. I wasn't sure which one would turn out but so far I have 2 batches sitting in my fridge. Batch 1 was a mixture of garlic, white vinegar, water, pickling spice, salt and pepper. I was told that I should not have used tap water because they peppers won't stay as fresh as long due to the chlorine in the water. Oh well. I know that for next time. For batch 2 I decided to add a little flavor and used apple cider vinegar, garlic, pickling spice, and honey to cut back on the acid from the vinegar. I boiled the mixtures and poured the hot liquid over the sliced banana pepper rings. Stay tuned for the results! If they turn out I will be producing mass quantities for some yummy Christmas gifts!

5. Sorry more cucumbers...salad: Like my BIG cucumber? Only thing to do with this big guy and that is to make salad. Nothing quite tastes like summer like a fresh cucumber salad. Here's my version where I used fresh ingredients from my herb and vegetable garden. The ingredients include: sliced, peeled, and quartered cucumbers, halved grape or cherry tomatoes, a few splashes of rice wine vinegar, 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil, fresh mint and basil chopped, minced garlic, salt, pepper and crumbled goat cheese. Mix well and refrigerate for at least a half hour before serving. Cool, easy, and fresh, this salad goes with any summer meal. Great for parties, just keep it chilled by placing the bowl of salad on top of a bowl of ice to keep it cool and crisp.

4. How far would you travel to try a...
Pulled pork cupcake? -Washington D.C. Bourbon Steak Lounge boasts this $9 appetizer that is filled with mouth watering pulled pork shoulder and stuffed into a cheesy scallion biscuit, rumored to be very similar to the biscuits served at Red Lobster.
Tempura fried pizza? -NYC Hake Sake Bar has the ultimate bar food Japanese style. What isn't good fried in the light and crispy tempura batter. Certainly some greasy New York style pizza fried up Tempura style might be worth the drive.
Lobster roll? Boston is quite a drive for a tasty snack but if you are really craving this New England favorite, try the Oyster House in Philadelphia. Their succulent sandwich costs a hefty $29 dollars but it is cheaper than makin the hike for the real thing all the way up in Bean Town.

3. Oh Snap! Sugar Snap Peas on the grill? Oh yes, my friends. Grilling sugar snap peas is the perfect way to bring out the sugary sweetness in these beauties.  Toss some sugar snap peas in some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add garlic powder or freshly minced garlic if you'd like. Place the peas on a grill pan and grill over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Leave them on a minute or two longer for a more charred pea if you desire. Finish with some fresh herbs and serve over rice. Goes great with grilled fish.

2. Dining Out: Wilmington Waterfront: When I told people that Rob and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary along the Wilmington Waterfront, they asked "isn't that in the ghetto?" No, it's not the ghetto. Wilmington waterfront is a half mile strip nestled in between the train station and the ghetto but well worth the visit. There is a very nice walking path you can take all the way down to the Dupont Environmental Education Center (you can grab 2 Geocaches there too) and then eat and drink at a variety of restaurants along the river.  They have all kinds of events going on such as live bands and all you can eat crab cruises. We had the famous crab pretzel at Firestone (the restaurant, not the tire place) which is a cozy little eatery on the waterfront with inside and outside dining. I loved the very rummy Vanilla Pirate cocktail. Best deviled eggs I have ever had. Totally worth rolling my window down for on the way home. Thank you, Rob. Grab a drink or two at Joe's crab shack or some ceviche at Harry's. Take a romantic stroll along the waterfront, sit in some Adirondack chairs, walk along the well manicured gardens, take your shoes off, and just be.

1. Put a cork in it! Something I can now proudly cross of my bucket list. I bottled wine!!! My dear friend Marsha Gaventa invited us to bottle some yummy nectarine wine over at Cedarvale Winery. We had a great time and also gained a valuable learning experience; do not leave your finger in the corking machine for too long. Bottling wine is hard work but we made some new friends and helped out our pals over at Cedarvale. I found out that whatever is left in the hose is called "hose wine" (duh). They can't sell that stuff because it hasn't gone through the filter. There's nothing wrong with it, you just have to drink it right away. I don't think that is a problem, especially with Cedarvale wines. Their fruit wines taste like they were picked right of the vine, or tree. You can also cook with it! I have made some nice reduction sauces for pork with the nectarine wine but it is also the perfect summer sippin' wine. As Marsha would say "It's lovely"...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nothing But Flowers

     My favorite Talking Heads song talks about what it would be like without Dairy Queens and 7-11's. We would be stuck with nothing but flowers. Well that's not so bad because, guess what? Not only are flowers pretty to look at, but you can eat them too. Oh no, Rumgirl is turning into a freakin flower eatin dirty hippie! Seriously! Yes, I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my zucchini in my lovely, lush, little garden and I was admiring the bright yellow-orange blossoms trumpeting out to catch some morning sun. "Can't you eat these things?" I asked my husband. Of course I ran like lightning into the house and Googled it. I was right. But there is a lot to know about these precious little blossoms. You don't just pop them off the vine and throw them in a pan. There's stuff you need to know, so pay attention!

     Zucchini blossoms have been a culinary staple for thousands of years. The Greeks like to stuff vegetables or domas with rice, herbs, and cheeses. One of the most popular Greek domas uses the blossom of the zucchini. These are very delicate and do not last long which is why you do not see zucchini blossoms at your local market. You can order them from florists or specialty food stores but it will cost you. Your best bet is to grow the damn zucchinis yourself.

     So if you are like me and get impatient waiting for your vegetables to ripen, know that you can pick and eat many of the squash blossoms before the your squash is ready to pick. Important fact numero uno:
ONLY EAT THE MALE BLOSSOMS. Don't worry, they don't have a penis, but you will know it is male if there is not a squash attached to it. The females bear the fruit (duh) and the males just sit and do nothing (surprised?). But alas, little male zucchini blossom, not to worry, we hear you taste mighty good so say goodbye to the wife and kids cuz we is gonna stuff and fry your ass!

     Cut off, don't rip off the blossom. Leave a little stem and do this carefully! These cute little guys are very fragile. The blossoms will be opened in the morning and by afternoon, they will have closed up and look a little shriveled at the ends. The bigger and fuller looking the better. Just like a boobie! If you see one that looks ready, pick it because he may not be any good tomorrow.  You will see the base of the blossom is hard with little pointy things. Carefully cut the base off and pull out the pistil. It's orange and fuzzy and looks like a penis. Yes, we are getting very perverted tonight but hey, it's a zucchini! Look at it!!!

     Well, ok maybe I have been reading too many Shades of Grey books but let's get back to that blossom! After you discard the phallic looking thing, gently rinse the blossom, inside and out. Lay on some paper towels to dry. Pat dry if you wish but try not to fondle it too much. You can stuff these blossoms with just about anything. Cheese, rice, diced chicken, sardines, herbs; I have surprisingly come across a huge variety of stuffings. Just remember these guys are small and delicate so choose your filling wisely.  I decided to stuff my blossom with a cheese filling. I used a mixture of cream cheese (room temperature) and Laughing Cow Light Garlic and Herb wedges. I added some more garlic and a little shredded Gruyere for texture. I think I will try some fresh herbs and goat cheese next time. I have heard that ricotta is a little too runny. I think almost any creamy cheese would suffice.

     Onto the batter. You can saute or roast the blossoms but most of the recipes suggest frying. I fried mine in canola oil. I read that pressed grape seed oil works well with this dish but I am not that fancy and do not have it on hand. A beer batter is perfect for the blossoms. Mix beer and flour with a fork until it looks like pancake mix. You want it thick, not runny. I used ginger beer. You can also use club soda.

     Using a pastry bag, carefully squeeze your stuffing into the blossoms. I went in from the side we cut and pressed it together with some cheese to close the hole. Some people leave the bottom on and go in from the blossom opening. Do whatever is easier for you. Heat oil in a nonstick pan and place the blossoms delicately into it when oil is hot. Don't burn yourself. Make sure you use one of those splatter guard thingies when frying. Fry 3 to 5 minutes per side. If the cheese comes out, you suck. When they are golden brown, remove and place on paper towels. I dusted mine with Parmesan cheese. Some people dip them in Greek yogurt. Marinara works but can be over powering. They are light, sweet, and slightly nutty. Kinda like ME!

                                           And who knew a flower would taste this good?! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Let Us Wrap

     My husband requested lettuce for dinner. Really? Lettuce? You feelin ok, hun? I personally did not feel like making a boring old salad, so of course I decided to get a little creative. I had some chicken breasts defrosting and a few vegetables that needed to be used up before they decided to rot at the bottom of my vegetable drawer. I also had a nice juicy grilled steak I never ate and a baked red onion that were taking up too much room in the fridge and I grabbed them too, as I pretended they were the mystery ingredients from "Chopped".  I love Cheesecake Factory's Thai Lettuce Wraps and decided to have a little lettuce wrap party. With this dish you can really use whatever you have in your fridge and pantry. We usually have a variety of Asian sauces on hand here at Cafe McMahon. Here's what I came up with:

Wrap it up Rummy's Lettuce Wrap Party:

Wraps: 5 to 10 washed and dried Romaine lettuce leaves laid out on a serving platter

Thai Peanut Chicken:
2 diced chicken breasts (tip: chopping them into small pieces while partially frozen is a lot easier than fully defrosted)
Thai peanut sauce (I like Wegman's brand. It's cheap and has just a hint of heat)

1 cup of fresh mushrooms diced (I use  Phillip's Gourmet mushroom blend of crimini, shitake, and oyster. I always have one of these in my fridge at all times. Very versatile and full of flavor.)
1 thinly chopped scallion (some people call them green onions)
sesame or peanut oil
a handful or 2 of chopped peanuts

Heat oil in wok and add chicken and mushrooms over medium heat. Add a cup of sauce and scallions. Feel free to add sprouts, water chestnuts, red pepper flakes, or cabbage to this mixture. Just make sure everything is in smaller than bite sized pieces. Add peanuts and another few drops of sauce if needed. Sometimes the chicken soaks up all the sauce so i add some at the very end before serving. Place in a serving bowl.

Teriyaki Steak:
Thinly sliced cooked steak (rarely I have steak leftovers, this is a great recipe if you want to jazz up day old meat)
1 red onion diced
Mushroom medley from above recipe
Peanut oil
Teriyaki sauce or marinade (I used a honey teriyaki steak marinade)
1 teaspoon of sugar.

Add oil in hot skillet and throw in the onions mushrooms and sugar. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally cook until caramelized. Add steak and sauce. Cook til heated. Do not over cook or the steak will taste like a cheap, fake leather shoe. Place in a separate serving bowl.

Chinese Noodles and snow peas:
Boil lo mein noodles according to package. Throw in some fresh snow peas to same pot to blanch. Drain and place in a large serving bowl. Add  several dashes of soy sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, sesame oil, salt and pepper and toss. You could add scallions or leftover crush peanuts as well. Some fresh bamboo sprouts, sesame seeds, ginger, or cabbage work well in this too. It's your meal. Get creative.

Put it all together:
Set out lettuce, chicken mixture, beef mixture, and noodles on table. Have guests spoon either mixture onto a piece of lettuce, fold it up, and shove it in their mouth. I was not crazy about the beef mixture in my wrap so I put it on top of the noodles as a side dish. Serve with crunchy noodles and duck sauce to make your party complete. Let us wrap, eat, and enjoy!

Coming Soon: Grilled pizza, a Memorial Day Special!!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rummy's Top 10 Foodie Wow's of the Week

     I'm still in a funk from this Lupron treatment for my Endometriosis and it is getting worse with another 3 months to go.  My poor husband's getting the front effects of my side effects and now, I'm not just bitchy, but I have also come down with a case of blogger's block. Alas, the one stable thing remains, I can still cook. As a matter of fact, I have received two, count em...TWO perfect scores this week on my meals. For some reason, I just can't come up with a decent blog about either one of them, so I decided to go with a different approach this week. I am gonna take you on a little journey of things I have cooked, eaten, and have gone gaga over in the food world. Here's my little top 10 foodie WOW's of the past week list. Check 'em out.

10. Haagen Dazs must be German for "It's so good I could stick my %$#@ in it!":  Salted caramel truffle is the new limited edition flavor. My hubby knew if he didn't come home with something tasty he'd get a shoe thrown at him during my late night hormone rages. Boy, did he finally get something right. I think this is THE best ice cream I have ever had. It has these mini chocolate truffles that are hidden in the rich creamy vanilla ice cream that is surrounded by salty caramel swirls. When you bite into the truffle pieces, little bits of caramel ooze out. The cure to cool off any hot flash.

9. Rummy's turkey bundles of joy:
I purchased some thinly sliced turkey cutlets recently and did not know what to do with them. I wanted to grill them but I thought grilling them flat would dry them out too quick. Behold the bundle! Toss some fresh asparagus around in a bowl of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and throw it on the grill. When almost done, remove from grill. Place 2 spears at the end of a small turkey cutlet and roll it up. Place on grill and cook for about 5 minutes on each side over 300 degrees. Somehow, the turkey adheres to itself so there's no need to tie it or pierce it with a toothpick which is so white trash, by the way. I added some Wegman's bearnaise finishing sauce before serving. It's a nice, light, springtime meal that's quick and easy and I made it up myself.

8. Get serious, she reads about food too?
Serious Eats is on of the best food sites around. I get a weekly email that I can't stop reading. They have an experimental food lab, hot restaurant picks, weekly taste tests, and unique recipes even a RumGirl can appreciate.

7. Rock the boat, don't rock the boat, baby. Rock the boat, my zucchini boat baby:
Came up with a creamy yet healthy version of the zucchini boat. I don't like it with tomatoes. Why does everyone have to ruin things by dumping a can of tinny tomatoes on it?  I didn't bread mine either and it still received a ten from the Mr. Cut off the ends of a zucchini and slice it in half while you're havin fun with yer big bad knife. Scoop out middle and place it in a bowl. Mash it up with one peeled and mashed yellow squash, chopped leeks, and fresh garlic. Throw that stuff in a hot saute pan with some olive oil. Season it and cook til soft. Add 2 wedges of Laughing Cow low fat cheese wedges. I used the french onion kind. Stir up til incorporated and after you pat yourself on the back for incorporating a word like incorporated into your cooking vocabulary, spoon it into the zucchini. Bake on 350 for 30 to 40 minutes depending on whether or not you got a big boat.

6. My Drunk Kitchen makes me LMDAO (laugh my drunk ass off): 
If I was a lesbian I would so want to make out with Hanna Harto. I mean, this is SOME woman. Who else can drink tequila and sake and then cook a meal for millions of viewers? Ok, so she drops the quesadillas but ya gotta give her credit. Love her! Watch her latest episode!

5. A broken rolling pin is nothing to wine about:
I am sad to report that I broke my mother's rolling pin she gave to me. It was pretty old. It had a big crack in it and I believe that was from smacking it on some bad little RumGirl's behind. Well the crack got bigger (in the rolling pin) and the handle broke off and it was time to say goodbye. I never went back out to buy one. I forget every time I go to the store that I need a rolling pin. I use mine in the summer quite a bit when I grill my pizzas. I began rolling some dough out recently when I realized I had nothing to help me roll it out. I was quite stressed so I grabbed a bottle of wine and drank it, right out of the bottle! Then I took the empty wine bottle and rolled me out some fresh wheat dough. Next time I need a rolling pin, I am headin to the liquor store!!!!

4. I am so cheesy toasts:
Do not get caught without good snackie food. I'm not talking about potato chips and Nutella, I mean good "company" snack food. I keep a tub of Wegman's cheese dip in my fridge at all times and those little toast crackers that taste like shit when you eat them without cheese. Spoon a little dip on a cracker and broil for 2 minutes. They have a variety of flavors and they're made right in the store. I like Asiago and Artichoke surprisingly, because I am not an artichoke fan. The bacon and chive is yummy too. Put it on a pretty plate and you'll be the talk of the town. Now you don't have to loath those surprising little pop-ins from your friends. Just make sure they bring their own booze.

3. Waiting for my cherry:
 Last time I went to Cedarvale, I actually worked there and got paid in wine. Not a bad gig, huh? Unfortunately, they were out of my favorite, cherry. Not only is this the best sippin wine for the summer, but you can cook with it too. Marinate some pork with this light and fruity wine or make a nice glaze for your ham with it. It sells out fast so grab it while you can. Oh and, you know, since this is MY blog I can add a selfish plug if I want to. My wonderfully talented husband will be playing some classic tunes on the acoustic guitar on Mother's Day from 1 to 3pm at Cedarvale winery. Bring your mom over for some craft venders and good tunes. While she's sitting there being entertained, sneak on in the winery and get loaded! I'll be pouring!! Visit:

2.  Stuffed: 
I made some chicken and broccoli the other evening and I didn't feel like throwing it on top of rice like I always do. Instead I took some Pilsbury thin pizza crust and rolled it out on a greased baking sheet. I piled the chicken and broccoli onto the middle of the dough and rolled it up like a big fatty. Yeah, I said it. I cut some slits in the dough for ventilation. Add a little cheese in there and serve with marinara and you may get flowers the next day!

1. My Garden!!!!!
I don't know that the hell I'm doing but I have the faith that my farming ancestors will bestow some good karma or something on me. Rob and his friend Tony built me a fantastic garden right where Rob's Uncle Chic had his garden. Apparently, Uncle Chic had a heart attack while picking tomatoes, but I am hoping he is watching down on me and that his spirit will chase away the evil squirrels and bunnies. I am attempting to grow some beefsteak tomatoes, grape tomatoes, sweet banana peppers, green bell peppers, strawberries, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, yellow squash and zucchini. I have been told that I planted the squash too close together so we will see what happens. I am just enjoying getting my hands in the earth. I stare at the dirt under my fingernails and it feels good to have created something (or at least tried). I can't wait to have a harvest party! I hope ya'll like grilled squirrel.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Still crabby but not flabby

It's a lazy ass day. I'm drinking lots of rum and watching hockey. Best Sunday ever. I don't even have to cook because I got a pot roast in the crock pot, right? Wrong! Half way through an amazing Flyers game, the hubby wants a snack. He doesn't want cheezits or pretzels he wants a hot snack, a snack that requires this rummy gal to get off her drunken ass and concoct something good. Well to be honest we have been eating a lot of crap. I emptied the last morsel from the bucket of Johnson's caramel corn. We have been nibbling on many tasty leftovers of pork and cheese and other things whose main ingredient oozes something good and greasy. It was my birthday last week and dammit I have not felt like cooking anything good. We have been spending much time on our new garden and the Amato Brothers Deli down the street have been providing our meals lately because I'm too damn busy. So now that I finally went food shopping, I guess I should get in the kitchen during intermission.

I love crab rangoon but it is full of cream cheese which is bad bad bad!!!! And wontons are fried and that will prevent you from fitting in your summer capris!!! Sooooo, here is my favorite snack that is a low fat version of the Chinese take-out top ten.

Not so crabby rangoon:

8 oz. fat free cream cheese.

 Ok let's talk. I know you want to. I know you absolutely hate the taste of fat free cream cheese. I do too. It's ok. Buy reduced or Neufchatel if you must. When you mix a bunch of good stuff with bad tasting stuff you can't taste the bad stuff. Trust me!!! It's so worth it and you won't know the difference!!!

wonton wrappers
 few dashes of reduced sodium soy sauce
pam spray
chopped green onions
2 wedges laughing cow low fat swiss or french onion cheese
half pouch of imitation crab meat
salt, pepper, garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients except pam and wrappers
Use an emulsion blender to mix it all up til it's creamy.
Spray cookie sheet and lay out wontons
place a nice dollop of cheese mixture to wonton
Take the opposite corners of wonton and pull up to meet each other. Have then say "Howdy!" and repeat with the other corners and tuck em in a bit. It will look like a little neat package or purse if you did it right.
Spray with Pam again and bake for 15 minutes.
Want an extra little bang to your wonton?
My mother gave me this exquisite spicy chipotle orange sauce and I mixed in a little honey and a teeny dash of low sodium Teriyaki. I pulled the wontons out after 10 minutes and brushed on the sauce. Bake for another 5 minutes.
Serve with honey dijon, sweet and sour, or duck sauce.

You'll never order these from take-out again!!!

What to drink on a rainy day??? HURRICANES!!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tired and Crabby

     I am having a rough week. Over consumption of Easter candy? Too much fun over spring break? IEP season? Lack of sleep and rum? I don't know but today I was in a funk when I got home. Now, usually cooking will turn my frown upside down. It is my after work therapy believe it or not. I grab some wine, put on some tunes, rummage through the fridge, grab my sharpest knife, and let my creative juices flow. Not today. Not feelin it. I had nothing out for dinner but I knew I could defrost some fish filets pretty quick. Meh. Not in the mood. Thought about going out but I knew we would not be around much in the next few days so I figured we needed a nice healthy meal instead of a Dorito Loco Taco. OMG Love those!!!  But I extinguished all dreams of fast and greasy and somehow convinced myself to cook. It was really hard for me to focus and get creative. We all have those days.  Amazingly, I  put together a quick and healthy meal that is sort of smancy fancy and will still get me some tonight without too much fuss.

Because I'm Crabby Topped Tilapia

Tilapia filets
1 package imitation crab (now if you got that kind of money go ahead and buy the real stuff)
1 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs
juice from half a lemon
parsley, salt, pepper, smoked paprika
1/4 cup egg beaters
diced yellow onion
parmesean cheese

Season fish and place in glass baking dish. Turn oven on to 350.
Mix the other ingredients in a bowl. If too wet, add more bread. If too dry, add more egg. I used real bread so I needed a tad bit more egg beaters.
Place mixture onto each filet. Spray generously with PAM.  Place in oven.
Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Pull fish out and respray with PAM if needed and place back in oven.
Broil until nice and brown.

I served mine with baby bok choy that I sauteed and since I didn't feel like gettin all fancy, I topped it off with Wegman's Bernaise finishing butter. I used butter because I didn't put any fattening butter or mayo in my stuffed fish (although it does taste like it). Made some instant mashed potatoes that I gussied up with garlic and parmesean cheese as well.

Have left over crab mixture? Don't throw that shit away! Make some crab cakes out of that!!! Quick, healthy, easy. I thought it would go well with pinot grigio but my sister who stopped by last night drank it all! Now leave me alone! I'm crabby!!!