Monday, December 31, 2012


We had an amazing time at ICE! today.  The photos demonstrate how cool it was.  Not a Mike Isabella recipe, but adapted from a Joy the Baker recipe.  This is a totally easy pie, especially for non bakers or people with pie crust phobias.

Make a pie crust
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortning
1/4 cup water

Blend together the flour, salt and shortning with a potato masher. Add the water.  You can sprinkle flour and roll it out, but I just wet my hands and press it into a pie pan.  Chill for 45 minutes in the refridge.  Preheat the oven to 400.

For the filling, mix
1 cup mascarpone
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey

Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes, or until golden

When cool, add the mascarpone mixture

Top with 2 cups of fruit


Sunday, December 30, 2012


Cold out today!  I went to church and Target, kept hoping it would be warmer when I got out of the car.  It was not.  We are going to see ICE! at National Harbor tomorrow, very excited, we've seen every ICE!  I've put off making this recipe, kinda hoping Doris would do it because it sounded so boring.  I mean, chicken and potatoes?  But, it really exceeded my expectations. 

I preheated the broiler on the oven and cut up a couple of potatoes and 16 pearl onions.  I made a paste out of olive oil, oregno, garlic, paprika and lemon zest.  I spread half of the paste on the chicken (I used a cut up whole chicken) and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I tossed the potatoes and onions with the remaining paste and salted it.  I added them to the pan and broiled for around 40 minutes.  The recipe said 25 minutes under the broiler, but the chicken was still raw. 

It was crispier and more flavorable than I expected.  It was kind of spicy and salty and the onions were crispy.  I felt bad for ignoring the recipe and will try to not judge!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Sorry for the long Christmas break!  We went to Pennsylvania and got busy.  Christmas was great, did a Men in Black 1, 2 and 3 marathon, caught nuances and amazingness.  Ate way too much, got an an
amazing kitchen aid mixer and pasta attachments.  Doris got a bracelet crafted from sand at Dewey Beach (at least they said it was from Dewey Beach). Came back yesterday.  The kids spun signs today and I made some good fish tacos.

I had some doubts about these fish tacos since they weren't battered.  I should have trusted Mike, they were delicious!  But a little work.  First I made fennel slaw.  I boiled water, vinegar and sugar.   Meanwhile, I finely diceed fennel, carrots (bought them finely diced), onion and pepper.  I marinated the vegetables in the liquid for 20 minutes, drained the liquid and added the fennel fronds, olive oil and salt. 

I next made the aioli.  Really, there is no basil this time of year, so we did plain, vs basil, aioli.  I put egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic and salt in the food processor, and added olive oil until it got thick.

It was really easy to fry the fish.  I fried them in olive oil, 2 minutes per side.

They were really good and not too hard.  I would make these again.  Now, off to watch Magic Mike!  Hello!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Mixed up football day!  Redskins and Cowboys won and Steelers lost.  But Dakota Meyer started following me on twitter (blush).  Made some spiced pisatchios which were good.  Not amazaballs good like the spiced peanuts but still highly delicious.

I used shelled pistachios, which I suppose violate the recipe, but we don't like shelling pistachios.  I blended garlic oil (again, purchased, you may be thinking why I bothered to make this...) oregano and rosemary.  I toasted fennel, coriander and carraway and added chilli flakes.  I added cayenne, paprika and salt and tossed everything over the pistachios.  Roasted them for 10 minutes and they were done.  They were very tasty, especially warm.  I would make them again.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Everything is going well with our Christmas preps!  We have most of our gifts bought and the kids have finished their finals.  Made some really good pork loin.  It was a little expensive so I don't know if I would make it regularly, but everyone really liked it.

I went to Harris Teeter for my pork loins, and could only get two, for like $15.  I doubled the recipe and made a brine of cinnammon sticks, peppercorns, allspice, cumin, cloves, water, salt, garlic, brown sugar, bay leaves and thyme.  10 bay leaves are a lot!  The pork was very bay-y!

I refrigerated the pork in the brine for 4 hours.  While the pork was brining, I made the rub by toasting almonds, sesame seeds, cumin, peppercorns and clove.  I added bread crumbs, pumpkin seeds, salt and brown sugar. 

Started getting a  little bit involved, I had to make a sauce of onion, garlic, and jalepeno sauteed.  Then I processed it with pumpkin seeds, parsely, cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil and water.  I had to take a break and drink an alcoholic beverage.

Anyway, I removed the pork loin from the reefer, rinsed it, coated it in the rub, sauteed it and cooked it in the oven for 10 minutes.  I was kind of tired of making this.

I plated it and served it with the sauce.  Then I lay down to take a nap.  It was very good, though.  The pumpkin seed was kind of musky and added a good flavor note.

The sauce was green due to the cilantro and parsley.  Ooooh, we are going to watch Ted on DVD.  So excited!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Oh wow!  I don't normally like seafood at home.  It tastes really fishy and unpleasant.  I liked this recipe, though.  My kids did not.

I could not find sea bass and had to substitute halibut.  3 different stores!  I got tired!  I did the whole artichoke thing, lemon juice and water, cleaned artichokes.  I sauteed the bacon and shallot.  I added artichoke, carrots, garlic and salt.  I added white wine, thyme and bay leaf and after 10 minutes added chicken stock and simmered for 15 minutes. 

I topped the fish with bacon fat and salt and baked for 15 minutes.  While the fish was cooking I toasted pine nuts and added them to the artichoke mixture.  I topped the artichoke mixture with the fish.  It was good.  Not amazing or make this again immediayely, but solid.  Good if you are looking for something different.


Monday, December 3, 2012


Jusr got back from Nanty Glo, PA.  It was great to see Doris, hang out, cook and work on the house.  Made some scallop cutlets.  I liked them, I really liked them, but I would have done a couple of things differently.  I liked cutting the sea scallops in half and pounding them thin.  I liked the bacon in the crumb mixture.  But I would add WAY more bacon to the crmb mixture (only three slices were called for, I would use at least six next time.)  And the arugula pesto was the wrong sauce for these.  Josh was particularly vocal about the fact that these needed a spicy, jalapeno based sauce, not a slightly bitter arugula based sauce. 

So, to make it I sliced the scallops in half and pounded them thin.  I toasted the pine nuts and cooked the 3 slices of bacon.  I added the bread crumbs to the bacon fat and sauteed them for 2 minutes.  I stirred in the bacon, chives and salt.  I set up a 3 bowl breading station with flour, egg and bread crumbs.  I coated the scallops in flour, egg and bread crumbs and fried them in 1/2 cup olive oil.I only had to fry them for a minute on each side.

I made the arugula pesto by combining arugla, parm reggiano, pine nuts, garlic and salt in the food processor and adding olive oil.  I plated the scallops with the sauce.

No one could taste the bacon or liked the sauce.  The scallops werre good, though.  I might make it again with more bacon.

 Nice picture of John!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Good day at work, good policy day and planning a trip to Nanty Glo on Friday, followed up by a good Mike recipe day!  These calzones had a delicious supple crust, not too much ricotta (ricotta sometimes tastes like hot cottage cheese to me) and a good sauce.  There wasn't enough for dipping, however, and we resorted to jarred sauce!  I took a short detour and made my favorite Christmas cookie, Ann Hodgeman's almond triangles. 

Anyway, I made the dough, yeast, water, sugar flour, salt and olive oil and let it rest for an hour.  I divided it into 4 balls.  I made the sauce by heating olivr oil and sauyeeing the pancetta, adding onions and garlic, adding tomatoes and rosemary and cooking for 40 minutes.  Not hard or complicated. 

I mixed a container of ricotta, 1/2 cup of mozz and 1/4 cup parm reggiano.  I rolled out each of the 4 dough balls and spooned in 1/4 of the ricotta mixture and topped with 1/4 of the sauce.  I then baked for 15 minutes.  They were extremely delicious and worth making again.  I plan on making them when I see Doris this weekend, if time permits.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Well, we got through Thanksgiving and black Friday.  The kids drove up to Doris' house in PA.  I held down the fort and used Alton Brown's recipe for turkey  and was very pleased with how crispy the skin was and how moist the breast meat turned out.  The kids took a turducken to PA, I like that Harris Teeter carries turducken.  I met my friend Herbie for coffee at Starbucks and we had some delicious gingerbread and good convo. 

Sept 2009

Good picture of Herbie.

The only shopping I did was to go to Barnes and Noble for a $59 Nook, which I got at 4:00 PM in 5 minutes.  Awesome!  Anyway, I did find time to make egg noodles with spinach, oven dried tomato and lemon and was happy that I did.  It was easy, tasty and filling.  I would make this again.  It is a casserole, so it would be either a good main dish or side dish.  There were no expensive or exotic ingredients, just egg noodles, grape tomatoes, onion and garlic (of course!  every recipe has had onions and garlic) fresh spinach, eggs, ricotta, milk, mascarpone, lemon zest and shredded provolone.  First I drizzled the tomatoes with olive oil and oven roasted them.  It took like an hour and a half.  I raised the oven temperature to 375 and brought water to a boil and cooked the egg noodles.  After sweating the onions and garlic I added the spinach to the frying pan until the spinach wilted (about 2 minutes).  When the onions/spinxh cooled I mixed in the tomatoes.  I cooked the noodles al dente and mixed with the spinach/onion mixture.  Next I mixed the eggs, ricotta, milk, mascarpone, lemon zest and salt in the blender.  I added to the noodle/spinach/onion mixture and put into an 8x8 baking dish.  I then topped with the shredded provolone and baked for 40 minutes.  Nothing was complex about this recipe.  I liked the addition of the lemon, it made it brighter, I might start adding lemon to more recipes.  Other than having to whip out the blender and the time it took to oven roast the tomatoes, this was no trouble at all, and very delicious in a lasagne kind of way.  A favorite in the cookbook, so far.  Doris promised she's making quiche on
monday, so look out!

Delicious noodle  casserole!

More delicious casserole!

One of my favorite pictures of my oldest son and my dad!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Somehow I succumbed to peer pressure and made chicken feet.  I thibk I saw a recipe on that rapsodized over how crunchy and delicious they were and referred to them as adidas.  I was enchanted!  I bought a couple of lb at the fabulous Grandmart, but forgot to cook them.  I re-bought some more at Giant and set forth.  My awesome friend Herbie thought that me cooking chicken feet was the funniest thing that he had ever heard.

2 lb chicken feet
4 cups of lard
1 stick butter
2 TBLS garlic
1 1/2 quart water
2 TBS salt

Cut the little nails off of the feet.  Salt the feet and let them sit for 10 minutes.  Boil them for 1 1/2 hours.  Fry them in the lard.  Melt the butter and cook with the garlic until it is browned.  Top the feet with the garlic butter.  Try mightily to find some chicken to eat.  The pads of the feet have some fat, but the little fingers that look like human hand have nothing.  Repeat in futility, cursing the day you made chicken feet.

Not good!

Little hands!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Awesome day, the Marines of Maintenance Section won best booth at the DoD maintenance symposium.  Shout out to Mike, Eric, Tony, Jim, Mark, Vic, Wade and Sam! And watched the Grease episode of Glee on HULU, who can not like Glee?   Back to making delicious food after a detour of stuffed squid.  These may have been the best soft shell crabs I have ever had, and I am an affecienado of soft shell crabs (have lived in MD for 28 years, baby!)  I had a box of frozen soft shell crabs.  I had made a couple previously  but thought they were watery.  That is, until Mike's recipe hit my hands!

I soaked the crabs in buttermilk and squeezed out the excess fluid.  This may be what kept them from being watery.  I heated vegetable oil in a skillet.  I combined polenta, flour, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne and rolled the crabs in it.  No problem, so far.  I fried the crabs in the oil until golden.  It took like 5 minutes per crab.  Mike suggested serving on a corn puree, so I went for it.  Of course, I had to dice half an onion>  If I get nothing else out of this experiment, I will be a champion onion dicer.  Sweated it while slicing the kernels off of 2 ears of corn.  Added corn to the sweating onion (great name for a band, maybe?)   Added chicken broth and saffron, cooked for awhile, then added cream and salt and cooked some more.  I plated the crabs on the corn puree.  Very tasty!  Tomorrow I will write about my experience with chicken feet.

Delicious soft shell crab!
  Another picture of crab.  You can see the zested lime on top, how cool.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Hope everyone recovered from the Marine Corps birthday yesterday!  Dakota Meyer has some excellent motivational quotes regarding the Marine Corps birthday and Vetrans' Day.  I managed to miss church today, forgot there wasn't an 8 AM service, what a knucklehead, but I did manage to fix the toilet...and in the same vein made a very yucky recipe.  I read somewhere that squid should be cooked for 2 minutes or two hours.  Guess the 35 minutes that this recipe called for didn't fall into either category.  To be fair, Josh said it wasn't as bad as I make it out to be.  Working in my favor, I had some "grand mother" tomato sauce already prepared.

So, I defrosted some baby squids I got at Grandmart and cut their tenacles off.  No problem there.  They were baby squid so the tenacles could be cut off with one slice.  I put the tenacles and scallops in the food processor and processed them.  I sauteed onion (I have never used more onions in my life prior to cooking Mike Isabella!), added shiitake, garlic and salt.  I mixed the tenacles (never have written the word tenacles as many times as in this sitting) with the mushroom mixture, along with bread crumbs, lemon zest and basil.  I was a loser girl and did not fill a ziplock bad with the stuffing and cut off a corner to fill the baby squid, but instead used my fingers and a spoon.  It was kind of ugly.  Anyway, got them stuffed, covered them with the "grand mother" tomato sauce and cooked them at 375 for 35 minutes.  They really smelled like bait!  I ate a couple and Josh ate a couple, but they were really fishy.  Don't know what went wrong in execution, but zero results.  Hug a vetran tomorrow.  We had hoped to go to Grafiato, but John has school at 1400, so don't think we can pull it off.

Bonus picture of Maj Spooner and Gunner Gore at Herbie's retirement.
The stuffed squid!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Happy birthday Marine Corps, the finest fighting force in world history!  I am so proud to play a small role in their support.  I talked to my friend Herbie the other day and he thinks our blog is funny and cute, so I am happy.  (He also is going to pick me up some wine, yay!)  That's pretty crazy news about Gen Petraeus' affair and stepping down as the head of the CIA, I read a good article on Slate discussed the reasoning behind it.  Well, my mother and I went to Nanty Glo.  We had a great time and went shopping, ate lunch out and cooked up a storm.  We love Nanty Glo, and not just because it is my late father's hometown.  She made Aunt Connie's pepper rings, which she will blog about, and I made pork ragu and the "grand mother" tomato sauce.  We did not make pasta as I don't have a kitchen aid stand mixer with the pasta attachment, maybe Santa will bring me one for Christmas.

So, both sauces are totally fabulous and I don't get why I have spent all of my adult life buying Ragu.  The "grand mother", named after the 5 mother sauces in culinary school, and is super easy to make.  I have made it since and my first impression still holds.  Really, all you do is carmelize onions, add garlic, crushed and fresh tomatoes, bay leaf and cook for 50 minutes.  I finished it with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.  It was so rich and fresh tasting.  Really about 150% better than anything I have bought.

The pork ragu was equally delicious, though a little involved.  I bought 3 lb of bone in country pork ribs and seared them.  I then sauteed mushrooms, onion, celery and carrots.  (I am happy to chop onions, celery and carrots in the food processor.  I do not believe I would be happy to chop by hand.  Funny, my dog Harry will answer to carrots, guess they sound similar!)  I added the wine and simmered, then added chicken broth (canned), crushed tomatoes and rosemary.  The seared pork was placed on top.  I was supposed to braise the whole thing for 3 hours in a 350 oven, but I only braised it for 1 1/2 hours.  The meat was falling off the bone at that point, so I took it out of the oven.  I shredded the pork and added it back to the sauce and cooked the whole thing on the stovetop for a little longer.  My house in Nanty Glo has a fabulous electric stove, thanks, Uncle Joe!

We ate both sauces over (boxed) pasta and couldn't decide which was better.  The grand mother was brighter but the ragu was more complex.

Delicious sauce!

More delicious sauce!

Doris and me!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Oh wow!  One of those recipes that it is totally worth buying a cookbook for.  I usually buy a cookbook, find one recipe I like, and ignore the rest of the book.  And of course buy another one, lather, rinse and repeat.  I am better at buying books (especially cookbooks) than I am at using them.  That's one of the reasons why I am glad to be cooking through this cookbook.  I've actually repeated some of the recipes, like lobster risotto and pork belly and beans, but continued to cook my way through.  I have made some good things, like bread soup and pasta with clams, the other way.

Just took Harry outside and there actually is a wintery mix going on and it is only Noember!  Not good.  Anyway, to make this, you need a pound of roasted peanuts and 4 cups ??? of LARD!  Who knew there still was a recioe calling for 4 cups of lard?  I made a simple syrup with sugar and water and added the peanuts.  Not hard!  While they were cooking, I heated the lard.  I fried the peanuts in the lard.  After 3 minutes I removed them and topped them with grated orange peel, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt.  They were amazing hot, but still delicious cold a couple of days later.  Seriously, make these and take them to holiday parties!  

Bonus picture of Harry!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


A good weekend, no major crises, my high school football team (Saltsburg) beat my new home in PA team (Blacklick Valley), and the kids worked hard spinning signs.  I had some qualms about making veal cutlet.  My sister is opposed to eating veal and I am kind of ambivalent.  The kids said they were okay with eating veal, so I decided to go for it.

I actually didn't know where to buy veal, I had never made it before.  I went to three stores before I found it at Harris Teeter.  Kind of sneakily, arugula is involved (no, I didn't read that part) so another trip to the store was required.

Overall, this was a nice dish.  I like asparagus and the lemon and garlic were bright.  I don't know that I wouldn't make it with chicken if I were to make it again.  To make it, I breaded and sauteed the veal in olive oil and garlic.  I boiled and shocked asparagus.  Next a vinagarette of olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper was called for.  It was easy to make, as you would imagine.  To assemble, you mixed the asparagus, some tomatoes, arugula, and basil with the vinagarette and placed it over the veal.  Lemon slices were placed on the sides.  It was tasty and the veal wasn't overcooked. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I'm a BIG fan of brussels sprouts!  My go to recipe is taken fron Esquire magazine (if so inclined, you should read it for the recipes...I know!)  You cover brussel sprouts 2/3 with white wine, drizzle olive oil on top, salt and pepper and bake, uncovered for an hour at 400.  Charred and delicious, kind of smoky and savory.  But, I am on a quest to cook Mike Isabella's cookbook cover to cover (with my highly esteemed mother Doris), so I had to try Mike's recipe.  It's very good and a worthy alternative to my Esquire recipe.

First, I preheated the oven to 475.  Josh and I had an interesting discussion regarding the value of preheating the other day.  Other than for cakes and cookies, we think it's overrated.  I sauteed the pancetta and green onion then added vinegar, brown sugar and maple syrup.  I roasted brussel sprouts (for only 25 min!) and then coated with the pancetta sauce.  I would definitely have cooked these longer (to be fair, they were halved) but they were salty and savory and sweet.  I used grade B maple syrup from Trader Joe's, so it wasn't overly sweet.  A good alternative brussel sprout recipe.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


We made it through Sandy!  No power outages and we are looking to get back to our lives tomorrow.  Two amazing recipes, I made mozzarella pies and Josh made stuffed mushroom caps.

Stuffed mushroom caps
Clean 4 portabello mushroom caps. 
Combine 1 lb crab meat,
1/2 lb shrimp
1/4 cup mayo,
 2 TBS old bay,
1 tsp worstchesire sauce,

1/2 onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 jalepeno finely chopped

Mix with crabmeat mixture and add

2 cups shredded cheese (pepperjack or cheddar is good)

Mound on mushroom caps and broil for 15 minutes.  Serve piping hot.  If you have more stuffing than mushroom caps you can mound the stuffing on english muffins and broil.

I also made mozzarella pies, which were very good, if you don't mind working with phyllo dough.  I defrosted the phyllo dough the night before.  I sauteed the bacon while I cleaned 5 small leeks.  They weren't as dirty as leeks normally are, who knew?  I added the leeks to the bacon and cooked until the bacon was crispy and the leeks tender.  While they were cooking, I cut up the mozzarella and mixed with the bacon and leeks.

Uncooked and messy!

The hard part was making the pies.  I spread a couple of sheets of phyllo with melted butter, then cut into thirds.   I spread one end with the bacon mixture and folded liked a flag.  It tried to fall apart and the filling leaked out.  I pulled it together and baked them.  They were buttery and crisp and delicious.  I would make them again if I had a lot of patience.
Still messy, but cooked!

Monday, October 29, 2012


We are dealing with the realities of Sandy, everyone at home dealing with the Tiger's sweep in the World Series.  I can't believe that they didn't even show up!  Oh well, we'll get 'em next year.  Speaking of disappointment, this is the first recipe I made from Mike's book that I didn't like.  It was...blah.  Like why bother to eat this blah.  Like, oh, I'll pass and have an oreo blah.

First I had to find the speck and saba.  I went to the Italian Store in Arlington, VA and got them, long boring line to contend with.  I sliced the speck and the scallions, mixed them with the ricotta, parm regiano, olive oil, lemon zest and salt.  Baked at 400 for 15 minutes and drizzled with saba.  It wasn't ery good and I didn't take a photo.  Looking forward to the next recipe!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Ha!  I felt doubt.  After rocking with Mike for almost a month I didn't feel good about this recipe.  I like artichokes, but am ambivalent about chickpeas and well...octopus.  I have to look up octopus to verify the spelling.  However, my oldest son did well on his math test and I'm heading to Nanty Glo. PA tomorrow to cook with my mom,, so I felt brave.  Plus, I had gone to the much storied Italian Store in Arlington, VA and procured octopus.  I wanted to like the Italian Store more than I did.  It was crowded and small and I couldn't figure out where anything was.  I did find some saba (in addition to the octopus) which I need for some other recipes.

I should have had more faith.  I actually liked this a lot more than I anticipated.  The kids ate it also, not with mad enthusiasm, but ate it.

First, I braised the octopus in a 325 oven with red wine vinegar, peppercorns and a bay leaf.  I cleaned the artichokes and put them in lemon water.  I sliced the artichokes and added lemon juice, olive oil and salt.  (I think you could use jarred artichokes with no degradation in quality.)  I removed the octopus and grilled it indoors.  That was kind of a mess and smoky and stinky.  No one at chez Anderson was impressed with me, but we have to suffer for great art.  (For the record, I am viewed in my house as charmingly eccentric, not flat out weird.)  I through the stuff for chickpea puree in the food processer, can o' chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, coriander salt and water and pushed the button.  (For some reason, possibly lessons learned from pork belly and beans, I made twice as much chickpea puree as the recipe called for.  Don't.  You'll have plenty with a single recipe. (It kinda tastes like hummus.)  I plated it with chickpea puree, octopus and artichokes.  It was pretty good.  I probably won't make it again and had waay too much chickpea puree, but it wasn't a bad experience.

Josh displaying his plate.

Josh looking all cute.
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