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  1. Crazy Monkey Bread

    March 27, 2015 by Barb

    IMG_9411So it has been five weeks since surgery and everything is going as expected. I am still taking it easy and am getting a little stir crazy trying to fill my days around the house. I’ve had plenty of time to do crafts, read about food and watch copious amounts of television.

    The hardest part is probably the seclusion. I’ve had some friends pop over and the joy of my mom hanging out with me on occasion but a majority of the time my days are spent alone. (This is where you should say “Awwwww.”)

    My sweetie pie is at work during the day so when I am lonely I have resorted to finding company the only way a rational adult on pain medication knows how…I talk to my stuffed monkey, Crazy Eyes!

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    Crazy Eyes came home with me from the hospital. (Earl always buys me a stuffed monkey when I’m in the hospital.) I must say I wasn’t too attached to him at first. I had never seen such a colorful monkey and I will admit….I judged him for being different.

    But once we got home and I realized that he was by my side day and night, my affection for him grew. There was just something about looking at his bright face and button eyes that made me smile. Most importantly, he magically took away some of my loneliness.

    His personality is only limited by my imagination. Crazy Eyes loves to be under a blanket and likes to be close to me at all times. He doesn’t like scary movies but loves Animal Planet. He doesn’t eat much and never goes to the bathroom.

    Crazy Eyes loves to joke around too and make fun of Earl. He caught Earl tearing up at a TV show the other day and really let him have it. It was just hysterical!!!! (Earl did not find it as funny and said we were both heartless and mean.)

    So yesterday we were hanging out and I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I wasn’t feeling great so I wanted something easy.   Crazy Eyes said I should just make breakfast food for dinner. (He really has a lot of great thoughts in his little stuffed head.)

    I thought that sounded great but I really like some sort of bread or muffin with breakfast and didn’t have anything in the house. Crazy Eyes said he had the perfect solution. I jumped in before he could say anything else and guessed “banana bread.”  He was sooooo offended. I guess just because he is a monkey doesn’t mean he likes bananas. Crazy Eyes thought it was a bit rude of me to come to that conclusion.

    I felt horrible. I gave him a big squeeze and said that I was sorry. After he calmed down and fanned the tears from his buttons, he sighed. He looked up at me and said that he accepted my apology. (Phew!)

    Crazy Eyes then told me that he thought monkey bread is a nice addition to breakfast. Yum! I love monkey bread. Does this monkey know me or what???

    The only problem, homemade monkey bread is a lot of work. Crazy Eyes said he could do it and we pulled out the Mixmaster. It was an instant fail.

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    So Crazy Eyes did the next best thing…..he called up his friend, The Doughboy, and got a suggestion to just use refrigerated biscuit dough. The Doughboy said his recipe was so simple that even human could make it. (Oh did those two laugh at that joke.)

    We ran to the store and found out that Pillsbury had blueberry biscuit dough and thought that would be a great option. (Crazy Eyes may not be a fan of bananas but he loves blueberries.)

    IMG_9403 I sat back on the couch and let Crazy Eyes do his thing. He made a nice butter sugary topping for the bread with just butter and brown sugar.

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    He also decided that he wanted to make individual portion sizes so he made it in a muffin pan. Crazy Eyes says that this way is better because then you don’t end up with some super gooey chunks in the middle that don’t taste fully cooked.

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    And I’ve gotta hand it to Crazy Eyes…his Monkey Bread was awesome. It had a lot of flavor and just the right amount of gooey goodness.

    As I get stronger every day, I wonder how our friendship is going to change when I start living in the real world again. I know it is not reasonable for a grown woman to carry a stuffed monkey around with her everywhere she goes. I do know that I will look back on these weeks as a fun time to have just been silly and enjoying a very real friendship with a very pretend monkey.

    Blueberry Monkey Bread

    Makes 10 mini-monkeys

    Ingredients

    1 can Pillsbury Blueberry muffin

    2 tsp cinnamon

    ½ cup white sugar

    ½ cup brown sugar

    ½ cup butter, melted

    Directions

    Oven at 350

    Separate the muffins in the can and divide the portions in half. Cut half of those portions into quarter size pieces meaning cut one muffin into four. And then take the remaining whole muffins and cut into 6 pieces each.

    In a bag or bowl, mix white sugar and cinnamon. Roll the cut pieces in this mixture until they are all coated.

    In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar with melted butter.

    Using a 12 count muffin tin, spray the holes with nonstick spray. Using only the 10 spots on the perimeter of the tin, fill them with approximately 1 Tablespoon each of the melted butter/sugar mixture.

    Evenly divide the biscuit pieces into the holes. It isn’t perfect math so just judge it with your eyes.

    Bake for 14 minutes and check. The biscuit dough should feel dry but not hard to your touch. If it is really mushy, cook a smidge longer.

    When it is done to your satisfaction, remove from oven and flip over onto a baking sheet or tray. Ta-Dah.

    Little Monkey Bread!!!!

    I’m not sure if Crazy Eyes will be helping me any more in the kitchen. He made a mess. When I tried to get him to wash off the counter, all the water got sucked up into his body so now he feels bloated.

    I am sure that this was a tasty little breakfast treat and it would be an easy fix for company or on a day you just feel like feeding your inner monkey.


  2. Reincarnation of Ravioli with Lobster Sauce

    March 23, 2015 by Barb

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    Do you ever have moments in your life where you are sure that you have been reincarnated? (Yep, I’m still on pain meds!) Were you a pioneer who crossed the plains in a covered wagon? Maybe you were a caveman who used to work in a quarry? (Or did that only happen on the Flintstones?) Heck, you could have not even been a human! Maybe you were a poodle!

    I think in a previous life I lived in the depression where I couldn’t always afford what I wanted to eat or maybe just in a country where food was scarce and there wasn’t access to a variety of foods.   I do feel like I must have been some sort of gathering who would have to forage for my food.

    This conclusion has been made because of the amount of food I chose to have in our home at all time. I live in fear that I won’t be able to find an ingredient so I keep our house stocked. I have everything from common necessities like pasta, butter and chicken breasts to crazy things like duck fat, seaweed and preserved lemons.

    There is no rhyme or reason to what I keep in the house but all I know is that if I find something interesting, I end up buying it for my pantry or freezer.

    I am not saying this is a bad thing. I like to blame my stockpile on the fact that I was once an orphan in England who couldn’t get enough porridge. It all has made sense to me when I rationalize it that way.

    So since I’ve been housebound, I haven’t been accumulating any new food treasures and I am actually having some fun creating some amazing meals. Case in point….ravioli with lobster sauce!

    I always have frozen ravioli in the house. It is an easy, tasty meal especially on nights when I’m not feeling my best. I usually make an easy tomato sauce maybe add some veggies and say “Ta-Dah!”

    But this past week as I was digging in my freezer for my ravioli I came across a bag of lobster tails. I remember that I bought them last month after Valentine’s Day when they were on sale. (I live in the Midwest so finding frozen lobster tails in the fish department is a norm.)

    They weren’t the big tails that should be saved for a special occasion. They were the itty-bitty tails that you buy because they are cheap and you are horny for lobster. They give you just enough lobster to curb your cravings and put a smile on your face.

    So I looked at the lobster tails and said they need to be incorporated into a yummy sauce with my ravioli. (Maybe I was an early European fisherman who lived in Maine.)

    I sort of feel like this meal rewarded my bad behavior of food hoarding or maybe this was just a quintessential example of what a great gatherer I was in my past life. Yep, I’ll go with that.

    Ravioli with Lobster sauce

    Ingredients

    10 -12 ounces of lobster meat, removed from shell and chopped, not cooked yet

    Olive oil

    1 Tb butter

    Lemon

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    1 shallot, minced

    1 pint of roasted tomatoes

    ½ cup white wine

    ½ cup heavy cream

    ½ cup Parmesan cheese

    ¼ cup chopped parsley

    10-12 ounce package of  cheese ravioli, cook per package directions

    Chives (optional)

    Directions

    Start cooking your ravioli per package instructions. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

    In a large sauté pan, heat up a swirl of olive oil over medium heat. Add the lobster meat and cook until done. At about 2 minutes, I tossed in a pat of butter. It took about 3-4 minutes and that was it. Give it a squeeze from half of lemon and remove from pan and keep warm.

    To the same pan, add a smidge more olive oil. Add garlic and shallots and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook them another minute or two. Deglaze the pan with the wine and let the liquid reduce by half. Add cream and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the cheese and parsley. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little of the ravioli pasta water.

    Finally, toss in your ravioli and lobster meat. Toss it around just enough to coat. Add another squirt of lemon juice and serve with a sprinkle of chives.

    I don’t want to say this sauce was good but I licked the pan. (I was a piggy in a former life too.) The lobster took it over the top and it really was a nice treat.

    Truthfully, I don’t know if reincarnation actually exists but if it does, I like the quirks my former self has given me.


  3. Potato Leek Soup Hold the Starch

    March 19, 2015 by Barb

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    I feel like I received a “Get Out of Jail Free” card this St. Patrick’s Day. I know there are folks out there that can’t wait for their corned beef and cabbage with some soda bread. Not me.

    I was thrilled that I am not up to cooking a lot so I had a legitimate excuse not to make the traditional “eat like an Irishman” feast. Who am I kidding? It isn’t that hard of a meal to make and I could have done it. I just didn’t want to. (This is where my three-year-old self is stomping her feet yelling NO.)

    It makes me feel stuck and I don’t like it. So I decided I would go rogue this year and just make an Irish potato soup with a corned beef garnish. (Doesn’t that sound like a good authentic St. Paddy’s Day peasant dish?)

    I started researching recipes and came across the same problem….gummy soup. Potatoes are starchy, no secret there but there has to be a way to release some starch so you don’t feel like your soup is sticking to your teeth.

    The other issue for me was that I really just wanted to chop up ingredients, plop it all in my slow cooker and say Ta-Dah soup is done! It was going to take the luck of the Irish to help me do this successfully.

    First thing I learned was that I needed to get some of the starch out. I thought how would a good Irish person release the starch demons in their potatoes? A starch exorcism seems like the only logical answer. (My Irish Catholic readers will appreciate a good exorcism.) I filled a bowl with cold holy water (I am an ordained minister now so if I say it is holy…it is holy) and put my chopped up potatoes in the bowl. (Make sure they are completely submerged to avoid discoloration.)

    As anyone knows, a good exorcism takes time so I just let the potatoes sit for a good hour or two. When I came back to the bowl, the starch demons were released and the water was cloudy. I dumped out the water and then rinsed the potatoes one more time with cool water. (You don’t want any lingering starch demons hanging on.)

    Now don’t get me wrong. There is still going to be some starch but there are a couple of more tricks to make sure you don’t end up with a pot of glue.

    One of the biggest mistakes is that after the soup is done cooking people use a blender to puree the soup! STOP!!!! I learned that if you puree it that way you just increase the starch molecules and make it even glueier. (I am aware glueier is not a word but it gets the point across.)

    The best method is to mash it to your desired consistently but don’t over do it. If it is still too chunky, smush it through a sieve or chinois. (Yes this is much more tedious than making corned beef now but trust me it will be worth it.)

    The final secret I learned is to finish the soup with some cream. The cream just adds a nice creamy essence and will help deaden any leftover gumminess.

    Figuring out this recipe was my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow….I had a fun St. Patrick’s Day meal that didn’t stick to my ribs!

    Potato and Leek Soup with Crispy Corned Beef

    Ingredients

    2 leeks, trimmed and chopped thinly (don’t forget to wash them thoroughly)

    1 onion, chopped

    2 carrots, chopped

    2 cloves of garlic, minced

    6 cups vegetable broth

    3 pounds russet potatoes (chopped and soaked)

    7 ounce Irish Cheddar, shredded

    ½ cup cream

    ½ pound corned beef that has been crisped up in a skillet with some olive oil

    Chives

    Salt and Pepper

    Directions

    Place leeks, onion, carrots, garlic, broth and potatoes in slow cooker set on low. Cook for 4 hours.

    Mash and push through a sieve and place back in slow cooker.

    Add cheese slowly. A little handful at a time.

    Swirl in cream.

    Taste for seasoning. Remember the corned beef is salty!

    Ladle into bowls and top with crispy corned beef and chives.

    Maybe next year I will be more in the mood to make corned beef and cabbage. Or maybe I’ll go rogue again. Has anyone ever made Corned beef and kimchi?

     

     


  4. Pi Day of the Century

    March 14, 2015 by Barb

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    So today is the big day for all my nerdy friends and readers. It is Pi Day!!! (Please note the date and time I posted this blog…3/14/15 9:26. Am I blowing your beautiful minds right now?)

    But why is Pi Day so special? First, because nerds need a reason to have a party!! Due to their poor social skills, they don’t go out much. So this is one time a year when they are the popular and not wallflowers. They can hang out with their friends and play all those popular Pi Day games like “Who can memorize the most digits?” Or maybe play the devil’s game and add up the first 144 digits of pi? (Spoiler alert…the number is 666!)

    If your pi party hostess is really fun, he/she will have compasses for parting gifts. This way everyone can draw their own circles to calculate their own ratio of circumference to diameter to calculate pi. (There is always one Bozo in the group who doesn’t measure right and tries to disprove pi. That guy should never get invited back!)

    Another reason to enjoy Pi day is that you can eat pie to celebrate. This is how people who don’t understand the mathematical constant celebrate.   Their party game consists of one person typing “314” into a calculator and then they hold it backward. Look it spells PIE! (Odds are this is also the most attractive person at the party.)

    And there needs to be one guy who says the infamous joke of what do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter? PUMPKIN PI

    Finally, don’t forget to end the party right before midnight with a rousing sing along of “Ludolph the Calculating Mathematician.”   No one really knows the words to this song but it is okay because most Pi parties end waaaaaay before midnight. (And if your guests don’t know that the mathematician Ludolph van Ceulen spent his life calculating pi, they are probably still laughing at words they can write on a calculator .)

    So go to a party, eat some pie or just be irrational….Pi Day is for everyone!!!

    Stromboli Pi

    Ingredients (rough amounts)

    1 sheet puff pastry (thawed about 30 minutes)

    ½ pound shaved ham

    ¼ pound salami

    ¼ pound peperoni

    1 roasted yellow pepper, chopped (you can use a red one)

    ¾ cup of shredded Italian cheese

    1 egg with 1 tbsp water

    Salt and pepper

    1 cup pizza sauce

    Directions

    Oven at 400. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven. If not, use a LARGE baking sheet. (Or turn a couple over and use them like that.)

    Roll the pastry in 3 separate parts. Layer your ingredients except sauce lengthwise on one edge of the pastry. You don’t want to pile it too high because you need to roll it up and seal the ends. Repeat for all 3 pieces.

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    Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on parchment paper for easier mobility.

    Now you can bake them for 20 minutes separately or you can make them into whatever shape you desire…like Pi!

    I just moved the whole thing onto my pizza stone and the parchment made it super easy to remove it from the oven without breaking my design.

    Serve with your favorite pizza sauce!

    Math holidays aren’t for everyone but luckily for us the holiday only lasts one day and does not go on for infinity. 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679……………………………


  5. Prescription for Pasta

    March 10, 2015 by Barb

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    Sigh. I want to cook. I want to mess up the kitchen, hear the sizzles in a pan and make my house smell like heaven. I want to menu plan, prep ingredients and create my own dishes. I wish I could pick up my pans, use my measuring cups and taste for seasoning. I just want to cook.

    Instead, I am in food preparation mode. I take something out of my fridge or freezer that is already cooked and heat it up. Ta-Dah. It just isn’t the same. (I will say that the food I am preparing is delicious because some of my awesome friends have been kind enough to keep us in meals so I can take it easy. I am so grateful for them!)

    I think I just miss the joy I have in the kitchen. I find beauty in seeing food transformed. I find peace in the rocking motion of a knife on a cutting board. Glee as the heat from a pan warms my face. Euphoria as I poke my fork into something that is cooked to perfection. I just miss it.

    So yesterday, I broke free….sort of. Before surgery, I froze a piece of chicken that was simply cooked in olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. (Kind of a Greek Chicken) My goal was to make a pasta dish. How hard would it be to boil some water and cook up a quick topping? Spoiler Alert…it was hard!

    I started off great. The chicken was seasoned, cooked and cut into little pieces. My husband got the pasta water on for me so all I had to do is prep some other ingredients.

    We had a red pepper and an onion in the house so I thought it would be simple to sauté them up with some garlic, a handful of spinach and some roasted grape tomatoes. I was about halfway through chopping the red pepper when it hit me….this is hard. So I sat down and took a break.

    When I got up again (a half hour later), I finished cutting my red pepper. Sat down. Finally, I got back up to cut up my onion and started crying. Dang it. My onion immunity has disintegrated and the fumes are making me cry. (Plus at this point I was just frustrated that it was taking hours to cut up some veggies!)

    I wiped my tears away and got cooking. Okay, this is all starting feel familiar. I hear some sizzles and pops from my pan. The warmth from standing over the stove is like a hug. And the taste….oh…the taste made me fee like I was in heaven.

    When I finished eating my pasta, I felt full. Not just a belly full but also a fullness back in my heart. I am far from cooking the way I like to cook but this meal will go down as one of my “sick day” favorites. It was the meal that allowed me to find part of myself that has been missing these last couple of weeks. It made me feel good and is the best medicine for me right now.

    Rx: Pasta

    Ingredients

    1 red pepper, diced

    1 yellow onion, diced

    2 garlic cloves, minced

    2.5 ounces spinach

    2 cups roasted grape tomatoes

    ½ pound cooked orecchiette

    1 cooked chicken breast, preferably seasoned with lemon juice and oregano, chopped

    Juice from half of a lemon

    Fresh ground pepper and Parmesan

    Olive oil

    Directions

    In a large sauté pan, heat a good swirl of olive oil over medium heat. Cook the peppers and onion until just soft. Add garlic and let it cook another minute. Add the spinach and tomatoes. Lower heat. Cook until spinach is wilted. Mix in pasta and chicken. Cook about 2-3 more minutes so flavors meld. Give it a squeeze of lemon and serve. I put some fresh pepper and parm on top because I’m just crazy like that.

    This is the kind of food I used to cook when I first learned to cook. It is the essence of comfort food or maybe I should call it recovery food.


  6. Feeling Scrambled

    March 5, 2015 by Barb

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    Do you ever feel like your brain is scrambled? That confused feeling when you are trying to complete a simple task but for some reason it isn’t coming easily. You know the solution but for some reason you just can’t get there. (If I were a little older, I’d just say “senior moment” but I can’t use that excuse yet.)

    I’ve been feeling that way since my hospital stay. I just feel dopey. I find jokes harder to get and I get distracted easily. Look a bird is at the feeder.

    Where was I? I chalk a lot of this up to the fact that I am really just exhausted. Recovery is arduous. Even the simplest actions require great amounts of thought. My mind is consumed with things like how to sit up, put on pants (yes…I have on pants finally) and what can I eat that won’t make me sick.

    So it is only fitting that one of the foods I want to eat these days is scrambled eggs. After surgery, there is an exciting moment in the hospital where you can order your first meal of “solid” food. I always go for a breakfast option and scrambled eggs are one of my favorites! (My blog picture is my actual hospital tray!)

    Most hospitals have “room service” ordering so your eggs are made fresh when you order them and I must say they are good. (I was going to make a snarky comment about hospital food but the food on this last trip wasn’t bad….yep…my brain is scrambled!)

    The funny thing about scrambled eggs there seems to be an infinite number of ways to prepare them. Do you add milk? Do you beat them in the pan? Is that a squirrel? (Dang it…my mind wandered again.)

    So I thought today I’d just write a few quick hints on how to make scrambled eggs.

    1. Simple Math: For every 1 egg, use 1 teaspoon of milk. You don’t need more than that. Add a sprinkle of salt, pepper or favorite seasoning. Ta-dah.
    2. Beat it: Whisk it together until the color is even and it becomes lightly frothy. Don’t over beat it.
    3. Warm your plates: Keep your serving plates warm so that they don’t suck the heat out of your eggs when they are fresh out of the pan.
    4. Break out your non-stick pan. It makes sense. You don’t want your egg to stick and get crusty.
    5. Heat it: Over medium heat, melt about a Tablespoon of butter for every 2 eggs. You want the butter melted and just starting to bubble.  Add your eggs and lower your heat!
    6. Scramble: This seems to be the biggest area of dispute. Do you want big fluffy chunks of curdy eggs or do you want smaller curds? For fluffy chunks, let the eggs start to set and then slowly with a flat bottom spoon, push the cooked parts to one side and let the uncooked egg seep onto the pan. For little chunks, just start stirring like you are made and you are going to really break down that egg. (I like fluffy the best.)
    7. Times Up: When you’ve pushed your eggs around enough, you will probably get to a point where it doesn’t all look cooked. Flip those parts over so they are touching the pan and remove from heat.  Trust me, it will continue to cook.
    8. Add-ins: If you want to add anything in, do it now. Make sure your ingredients aren’t ice cold or else they are going to cool off your eggs too much. Your eggs should be warm enough to melt your cheese.
    9. Serving: Put them on your nice warm plates and serve with your favorite condiments (Sriracha, Tabasco, etc.)

    With all of this said, is there a right or wrong way to make scrambled eggs? I think scrambled eggs are probably one of the most subjective foods out there. We all like them a certain way and even on our days when our brains are scrambled they are one of the easiest meals to make! (Or order from hospital room service!)


  7. A Tale of Two Waffles

    March 1, 2015 by Barb

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    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness….(I know there is more to this but this is as much as I can remember.)

    I think the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities could also describe the recovery period after surgery. I’ve had days this past week where the Best of times can be seen in my recovery progress. I get excited about things that I haven’t done in weeks. When can I plan an outing? What cooking classes are coming up? Maybe I’ll wear pants today?

    But then the Worst of times arise and my pain level brings tears to my eyes. I get frustrated with little things like not being able to blow my nose, sit up on the couch or read a book. Why does it hurt so much? When will it end?  What part should I wash in the shower today?

    Luckily for me the Age of Wisdom (otherwise know as my husband) is here by my side. Earl continues to cheer me on with every achievement. He sees what I am unable to visualize and makes each day better. His wisdom is our strength right now and I am glad he is here to hold me up. (And Earl likes that I am not wearing pants so he really doesn’t see that as a bad thing.)

    But then we get to the Age of Foolishness and that is all me! Recovery makes me a whacky especially when it comes to food. My stomach is a little upset these days so if it isn’t appealing to me….I’m not gonna eat it!!!

    I want my food in certain bowl on top of a bread plate. My spoon must be small and don’t even think of putting a fork near me unless it is plastic.

    The food I want is usually due to the power of suggestion after I see something on television or on the Internet. If I had the ability to drive right now, I would spend most of my meals eating food from the drive-thru because those restaurants have the most advertising.  (It is magic how they make that stuff look so good.)

    My foolishness took over the other day when I saw on Facebook that a friend made her son waffles for dinner. Gee, I like waffles. We don’t have waffles.

    I called my husband at work and asked if he would go to the store and get me waffles. Earl was so happy that I was hungry for something that he was willing to oblige. What he didn’t know was that this may not be an easy mission.

    I didn’t want any waffle. He couldn’t pick up one at a local breakfast restaurant because it wasn’t a restaurant waffle in the picture. It was a frozen toaster waffle. Square…not round.

    My poor husband searched the freezer department over and over and couldn’t find what I wanted. Wise Earl knows that there really isn’t going to be a huge difference in taste between a square and a round waffle but he knew that there might be a revolt if he dared came home with a round toaster waffle!

    My downfallen husband asked one of the stock boys for help. They perilously searched the cases pushing past the cold of each freezer. Mere seconds before they were both going to wave a white flag…there it was….one box of square toaster waffles.

    With the resurrected spirit of a soldier who accomplished an impossible task, Earl offered to make me a waffle. My response was that I would love a square waffle on a square plate with homemade maple peanut butter drizzle.

    It was the best of times.

    Maple Peanut Butter Drizzle (this makes enough for two toaster waffles)

    Ingredients

    1 Tbsp butter

    1 Tbsp smooth peanut butter

    1 Tbsp maple syrup

    Directions

    In a glass 1 cup microwave safe bowl, melt the butter (about 20-30 seconds). Add the peanut butter and maple syrup and whisk together. Microwave on high for another 20 seconds. Whisk some more. Taste. If you want it sweeter….add more maple syrup and microwave for another 10 seconds. If you want it nuttier, add more peanut butter and nuke for another 10 seconds.

    Drizzle onto your square toaster waffle with a spoon and don’t miss any of the squares!

    Hmmm, I wonder if this is how the revolution really began…or maybe it was over French Toast?

     

     

     


  8. 50 Shades of Gray’s Anatomy

    February 26, 2015 by Barb

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    I woke up just lying there. My hand searched for my underpants and I was still bewildered as to what had happened. I called over and over for my husband. He arrived by my side with tears shining in his beautiful blue eyes, kissed my lips and told me he loved me.

    Do you think you are reading an excerpt from a spicy book that is now making millions in the box office? (Seriously, that is making millions???) Nope, this is more like 50 Shades of Gray’s Anatomy! This was the scene that played out in the hospital.

    I’m going to deviate a little from food for today to keep my regular readers updated on my recent health issues. I had surgery last week to (hopefully) solve some of the complications I’ve been having with my Crohn’s disease.

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    Lately, all food has become my enemy. I’ve been suffering with horrible stomachaches, loss of appetite and other obstacles. (It is a GI disease so you can use your imagination.)

    Having surgery again was one of the last things I really wanted to do but part of me had stopped living. Food, my joy, was the last thing I wanted to be around or think about and I was actually getting mad at life. (I did threaten one doctor that I was going to go on a popcorn bender and end it all.)

    We spoke to plenty of doctors and finally came to the conclusion that we needed to do something now before it turned into another emergency operation like I experienced 2 years ago.

    With some bits and pieces moved about and a little snippet taken out, this operation will be cure to what has been ailing me. (If they put my picture in Gray’s Anatomy, it would look like a Picasso.)

    Real life of a food blogger not always a lot of fun

    Real life of a food blogger not always so glamorous and fun.

    We were fortunate to have one of the most beautiful views from a hospital room of the city of Chicago and a great team helping us.

    This was the view from my bed!

    This was the view from my bed!

    I say “we” and “us” because my caretaker/husband is going through every bit of this with me. He has held my hand, made me laugh and has been keeping up on all the aftercare, as I am not able to do much for myself these days.

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    My diet is also going to be kind of dull the next couple of weeks so I am not sure how that is going to rollover onto Felt Like a Foodie but I am hoping to keep posting.

    First meal the day after surgery…clear was the theme!

    First meal the day after surgery…they were out of brodo.

    This will never be the story of a best selling novel or a box office hit but I will be happy to go back to the normal we know and having my anatomy off the table!

    Thank you for your support and I can’t wait until I am having foodie fun days again.

     


  9. Liquid Diet Liberation

    February 22, 2015 by Barb

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    I am not someone who follows any kind of specific diet. I’m not paleo, gluten-free or low sodium. I don’t watch my sugars or fat intake. Right now with the state of my Crohn’s, whatever doesn’t make me sick, is usually on my menu. (And keeps me a size 00!)

    But every now and then I do have to follow the dreaded clear liquid diet. When I hear that news, I usually scream silently “Nooooooo.” Do you know what a clear liquid diet is? It is friggin’ cubes of flavored gelatin or broth!!!! (I also get grumpy when I am on liquids, can you tell?)

    No offense to the very nice people who make gelatin desserts but years of liquid diets make me want to fling those bowls against the wall. Those silly little lumps are so bouncy that they just come flying back at me. It is an evil, evil cycle. (And it is hard to get off of the walls.)

    I used to feel the same way about broth BUT the food gods are throwing me a bone this year. Or should I say bone broth? Because I have been reading that cups of fancy broth are actually one of the newest trends.

    It is going by the Italian name for broth (brood) and in New York there is even a restaurant called Brodo. (I owe this chef (Marco Canora) a hug because his shop is genius!) The menu is filled with “sipping broths” that have actually made my mouth water reading the description.   I like that they also offer add ins like garlic puree, ginger juice and bone marrow. (I haven’t been there but it will be on my list if I ever travel to NY.)

    There is a little banter going on that all brodo is just stock and stock is brodo….but it is so much more. A good brodo, from what I understand, is a way of making “stock” or “broth” by first roasting the bones and then SLOLWY cooking them with your veggies and water for hours and hours and hours.

    This process actually breaks down the bones more so more nutrients are released. (I’m not a nutritionist but this whole feeling like I am doing this for trendy health reasons is making my liquid diet better.)

    I know there are naysayers (probably the same people who like gelatin) but this past weekend I made some good old-fashioned chicken brodo for my liquid days this week.

    Small disclaimer….I don’t think I really made it the properly new fashionable way. I kind of cheated. I literally stuck a chicken in my slow cooker with water and veggies and let it cook. I did do it for hours and hours and hours.

    I had the full intention of roasting some bones but my energy is just shot these days and I couldn’t accomplish that task.

    BUT my result may be good enough for the folks around here to keep their fingers crossed that one day we will have a Brodo drive-up window in our county one day. (We love our drive-ups around here.)

    I did the richer color that I’ve seen from true broods and I did get the desired gelatinous result when it cooled. (If it cools thicker, that is rumored to be a sign that more of the bones nutrients have seeped into your broth.)

    Also note that I did NOT add more than a sprinkle of salt. Since I need to make this broth taste different in my many meals, I wanted to season it as I ate it. I wanted to avoid making it taste like water and bouillon.

    So for today’s lunch, I popped open one of my containers, added a splash of ponzu and a dash of sriracha. I tasted it after it warmed up and did add a very small sprinkle of salt. It did not need much.

    And I’m going to say something; I don’t think I’ve ever said….this liquid diet will doable and be pretty dang good. I felt completely full after I drank my bowl. It was so flavorful!! I genuinely felt like this was my choice to eat for lunch and not my assignment.

    I hope I will be back on my regular diet soon but given this is my refrigerator, I may not be as devastated. I feel like this has liberated me from a really bad food day. (Now if someone would only make gelatin fancy!)

    Chicken Broth/Brodo (Whatever you want to call it)

    Ingredients

    1 roasting chicken 2-3 pounds, break it down and if you have time….roast the bones

    1 onion, quartered

    4 carrots cut into big chunks

    2 stalks of celery cut in fourths

    1 Parmesan rind

    Misc. fresh herbs (I had some sage and thyme so I tossed it in too)

    Water

    Sprinkle of salt (you can season more when you eat it)

    Directions

    In a large 6-quart slow cooker, add chicken, veggies and herbs. Cover with water. Make sure there is some space between the lid and the top BUT keep that chicken covered in water!

    Set on low and cook 12-24 hours!

    Around 8 hours, I pulled the chicken apart more since it was more manageable.   Some of the meat was good enough to put aside and use in a chicken salad or something like that.

    I let the carcass continue cooking and strained it. I did take a quick taste and will have to season it more before I eat it. Remember you can’t take the saltiness out but you can always put more in!

    I put it in smaller containers and let it cool in the refrigerator. This allowed me to get some of the “bad” fat off the top.

    Now I still have to be careful right now to keep my brodo clear so I can obey the doctor’s orders.  I am looking forward to when I am back on solids so I can make up some broth and serve it with some tortellini or pasting.

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  10. Dog in a Goat’s World

    February 19, 2015 by Barb

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    Do you prefer peace? Are you most comfortable at home? Are you artistic but resistant to change? If so, this is your year!

    It is Chinese New Year and the Year of the Goat…or is that a Sheep? I think people lean towards the sheep because sheep are so cute and cuddly. I like to say goat because I’ve kissed a goat and it has bonded me to these ruminants for the rest of my life. (Ruminant is your word for the day. Ruminants are cattle, sheep, goats, giraffes and other one-toed ungulates. These are the guys who chew the cud that is…um, regurgitated from their stomach. Wow…I need to be more careful what I kiss.)

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    Any way you say it, it is time to start looking at the Chinese zodiac. I remember going to a place called Cliff and Tommy’s. Now that I think of it, I am not sure that was the real name. (If that was the real name, I am not sure it would be my first choice for Chinese food.) Even though we had been there a lot, the first thing we would do is look at the Chinese zodiac place mat.

    As kids (as in children…not little baby goats), we would examine it expecting a different answer. It never changed but it was always exciting to read the descriptions and giggle at the personality traits that matched up.

    One of my sisters was a Rooster (responsible, thinker, critical, ambitious) and the other sister is the Goat (calm, gentle, thoughtful, social).

    I was born during the Year of the Dog. Apparently, I am supposed to be rigid, strong, determined and sharp tongued. Sharp Tongue? Rigid?? ME??!! Never.

    Okay…it is spot on for all of us. Goat Sister right now is laughing at her Rooster and Dog sisters. She is thinking how great is that she was born under the lucky sign of the goat which inevitably made her nicer than us. (She is not a one-toed ungulate…. I’ve seen her feet but she head butts like a goat.)

    But guess what, the year of the goat can be good for all of us. For me, the dog sister, it is going to be my year of harmony. Hooray! I am going to learn how to sing. Oh wait, that is not the harmony the Chinese zodiac was talking about.

    This is the year when dogs can finally find some peace and oneness with things that usually make them…um…not so nice. (I also think this may be the year of the unicorn and all things imaginary because it will take a magical being trotting across my yard for me to hold my tongue….all year!)

    The Year of the Goat “forecast” says Year of the Dog people (me) will get a burst of creativity. Like this innovative blog where I’m talking about Chinese New Year and Zodiac signs as fun transition to a noodle stir-fry I learned the other week!

    This was inspired from my ramen class (which can be debated whether ramen are more Chinese than Japanese). It was also inspired by the Chinese theory of cleaning things out to push out the bad luck and make room for the good luck of the New Year. I am not sure if my kitchen drawers are what they were talking about but it did make a good stir-fry so I feel lucky about that!  (And no…I didn’t use goat or sheep…that would be baaaaaad!)

    Happy New Year Stir Fry

    8 ounce cooked noodles (Use what you can find ramen, spaghetti, fettuccine)

    3 zucchini, sliced

    1 onion, sliced

    1 yellow pepper

    ½ pound thinly cut beef

    10 ounces of spinach

    2 Tbsp hoisin sauce

    ½ cup chicken broth

    2 Tbsp soy

    2 tsp toasted sesame oil

    1 tsp Sriracha (you can omit if you don’t like spicy)

    1 tsp garlic

    1 tsp ginger

    Grapeseed oil

    Directions

    In a small bowl, toss beef and hoisin sauce. Let sit at room temperature.

    Mix chicken broth, soy, Sriracha and sesame oil in another bowl and set that aside. (This is your sauce)

    Heat your favorite big sauté pan over medium high and give it a good swirl of grape seed. Sauté the beef in batches, until it caramelizes. Remove, set aside and keep warm.

    Add a little more oil and add your veggies. Depending on your pan size you may need to do this in batches.

    When everything is nice and tender but not mushy, toss in the garlic and ginger. Cook for another minute.

    Now reintroduce the meat, noodles and whatever veggies you may have removed. Add the sauce and cook until it has thickened up. Toss it around with your tongs to make sure everything is coated.

    Serve immediately.

    My intentions when I set out for this dish was to follow the recipe I learned in my Chopping Block class which was a broccoli and mushroom dish and I think it also had oyster sauce. I didn’t have any of that in the house so I just winged it.

    I think the Year of Goat might be right that this will be my year for creativity….but I may have to work on my stories a bit! : )