Another one that the easily offended should probably avoid…

Grilled Crosshatch-Cut Hot Dogs on Grilled Croissants


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These sound really yummy and all (hot dogs on a croissant? Yum!), but is it just me? Don’t these look a little, umm…. graphic? Maybe even phallic? If these still look appetizing to you, you may click the photo for the recipe… I think I’ll pass, though…

The faint of heart probably shouldn’t read this post, either…

I am very thankful that the foam/espuma fad is dying out. I’ve always been a bit disgusted by this phenomenon.

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Why, you ask? Because I live with three cats and, to me, foam looks like cat puke.

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On two completely unrelated notes:
This will be my last post for a while, but some of you have mentioned that you’re not fond of the new blog format and would like to see the add-ons (author photo, etc.) return. Please rest assured that this (ugly) new format is temporary. I upgraded to the new version of Moveable Type (the blogging software that I use) and it farged up all of my plug-ins. I don’t have time to fix it now, but will tackle it as soon as we return from Alaska.

Which brings to me to:
We are headed to the Yukon tomorrow for what we will hope will be an adventure-filled trip of dog sled riding, helicopters, hiking, camping, bear-watching and family fun. I’ll take lots of photos and will provide some info upon our return, but we will be VERY out of touch for a while. Have a great time while I’m gone. Now’s as good a time as any to browse through the archives…

Don’t read this if you’re easily offended…

I mean it, Granny…you have been warned!

I have been congenitally cursed with a bloodhound-like nose. I can detect and identify even the faintest of aromas. This is unfortunate when I am faced with an odor that I would like to avoid, but will be GREAT when my kids are old enough to try to sneak back into the house under the influence of illicit substances. Between my nose and the watchful eye (and suspicious nature) of Hubby, the ex-cop, our kids won’t be able to get away with anything (at least that’s what we are deluding ourselves into believing).

Well, this week, I noticed that one of our cats was smelling a little…funky. Well, REALLY funky. Like ASS. Like he had clogged anal glands. Ewww… Hubby usually handles any grossness that happens to pop up at our house: vomit, dead animals, litter box (back when we had one), etc. I was pretty sure that I knew what the problem was, so I found this article and showed it to Hubby, just in case he wanted to save some $$$ and tackle this problem ourselves. He did not. So, aforementioned funky kitty was shuttled off to the vet, who very expediently took care of the problem. The vet was very impressed with my proper diagnosis. Worth every penny of the $75, but kitty still smelled a little when he got home and Dr. B. said that it might take a couple of days for the odor to dissipate. With my nasal passages functioning as they do, funky ass smelling cat in the house was just NOT an option, so Ace got himself a bath. Poor cat, after his humiliating treatment at the vet’s office, and then getting doused with water against his will when he got home, he spent the rest of the day slinking around like a street urchin: “What ELSE are you going to do to me?”

Boy and Girl were sweet, though, and consoled him thusly after his bath:
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Spicy Chai Marbled Tea Eggs

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These spicy, smoky, salty eggs are beautiful and are very impressive-looking, too. They are a common Chinese street food and look like they are made of carved marble. They are surprisingly easy to make, but are beautiful to accompany an Asian-themed meal, or even to dress up regular picnic or lunchbox fare. They are really simple to make, but do take some advanced planning, because they need to sit overnight (that means YOU, Eileen).

Spicy Chai Marbled Tea Eggs

8 eggs
1 whole star anise
6 whole coriander seeds
2 whole cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp whole seeds, removed from the pod)
6 whole cloves
3 whole allspice pods
2 whole black peppercorns
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp loose smoky tea leaves (lapsang souchong is best, but Earl Grey would do)

Place the eggs in a medium-to-large sized lidded saucepan and cover with cold water (do not put the lid on). The eggs should have at least an inch of water over them. Bring the water/eggs to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water gets to a full boil, remove pan from the heat and place the lid over the pan. Set aside for 16 minutes.

After 16 minutes, drain the water from the pan and rinse the eggs with cold water until they have cooled slightly. Gently hit the eggs all over with the back of a spoon to crack them evenly all over. Add the eggs back to the saucepan. Crush the whole spices gently with the side of a knife blade, or a mortar and pestle or meat pounding mallet. Add all of the spices, tea and soy sauce to the pan and then add more cold water to cover the eggs. Bring the water/tea/spices/eggs to a gentle simmer over low heat. Simmer gently, covered, for 2 hours.

After two hours, remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. After the pan is cool to the touch, place the whole thing into the refrigerator to cool. Let the eggs sit overnight in the liquid, or at least 8 hours.

After 8 hours, drain the liquid and rinse the eggs. Carefully peel them. They should be uniformly marbled and smell of soy and spices. Serve them with Lapsang Souchong salt or Balsamic Mayonnaise (1/2 cup mayo, 1 tsp. balsamic mayonnaise and 2 Tbsp. of the soy-spice liquid that the eggs were cooked in).

To serve, place the whole eggs on a plate, so that they can be appreciated in their marbly beauty, but then cut each egg into 4 wedges to serve.

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Pasketti and Meatballs

This recipe comes together VERY quickly, since it uses jarred pasta sauce. Perfect for when you want something nice in a hurry. ..and it’s EASY PEASY, too.

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Quick and Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs

Serves 8.

for the meatballs:
2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain, dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped or run through a garlic press
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (2 – 3 Tbsp?)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 large (25.5 ounce) jars of your favorite pasta sauce
(I like Muir Glen or Rao’s or Lucini)

3/4 lb to 1 lb of your favorite pasta

additional Parmesan cheese, to go over top of the finished dish

Set a large stockpot of lightly salted water on to boil.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set a cooling rack onto a baking sheet. Line the baking sheet with foil, for easier cleanup, if desired. Spray the rack lightly with cooking oil spray and set it aside.

Combine all meatball ingredients until well blended (clean hands work best for this). Gently pat and shape (don’t tightly pack; that will make the meatballs tough) the meat mixture into balls about the size of a ping pong ball. Set them gently on the rack.

Bake them until they are just browned around the outside. It’s OK if they are still a little underdone in the middle because they will finish cooking in the sauce. I don’t remember how long they took to cook, but start checking them at 5 minutes and keep a close eye on them. I frequently cook by smell: when something starts to smell like what it’s supposed to be, it’s usually starting to get done (in other words, when you smell meatballs…).

You can, of course, fry-cook the meatballs in a skillet, on the stove, if you’d rather, I just didn’t feel like dealing with all of the grease splatters that night.

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While the meatballs are cooking, heat the jarred sauce to a gentle simmer in a large saucepan (make sure the pan is large enough for the meatballs to fit in later).

When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain THOROUGHLY when ready and set aside. Do not rinse.

When the meatballs are ready, add them to the sauce in the pan and continue to simmer until sauce is thoroughly heated through and meatballs and done (at least 10 more minutes?).

Spoon some of the sauce over the pasta and toss gently to coat. Serve the pasta with more sauce and a few meatballs on top. Top with cheese and dig in!

This is how Boy eats his spaghettI:
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Boy isn’t a big fan of tomato sauce, so if he encountered any chunky bits of tomato in the sauce, he picked them out and set them on the sides of his pasta bowl. (We also had sauteed spinach with our spaghetti that night, so that’s what the green bits are.)

Going off-topic so much lately, I’m thinking about starting a second blog…

Two things:

You’ve got to see this video of this 13-year old amateur marksman (markswoman? shootist? pistolera? I have no idea what the term is…). No matter your feelings on guns (especially guns and kids, which I will admit skeeves me out a little), you’ve got to admire her skills. Her dad is a friend and former co-worker of my Hubby’s. She would like to be on the Army’s shooting team someday.

Also…

Hubby won tonight at his monthly poker game! We might just have to teach Boy how to play poker on our vacation, when we have some down time. He would be SCARY good at it. Girl, on the other hand, can’t bluff to save her life and will put on sunglasses and a hoodie (Unabomber-style) when we play “I Doubt It“. Boy ALWAYS wins.

Jamaican Jerk Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salsa, Crunchy Roasted Corn, “Gallo Pinto” Rice

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Jerk-Grilled Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (scroll down for the seasoning recipe)
boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded slightly to flatten (to help them cook uniformly)
(I used about 1/4 cup of the seasoning for 5 large chicken breasts.)

Spray your grill/grill pan with Pam (or brush with oil). Rub the seasoning all over the chicken breasts and then let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes (15?) while you heat up the grill. Grill over pretty low heat until the inside of the chicken is done, but still juicy, and the outside is nicely browned. Hubby cooked ours last night and he did a PERFECT job. Slice the chicken into about 8 pieces per breast. Depending upon the size of the breasts (and the hunger of your guests), you can get 1 1/2 to 2 servings per breast.

Pineapple Salsa

I can’t link to it, or give you the exact recipe, because it’s from Fine Cooking’s “subscribers only” website, but it’s basically diced pineapple, bell pepper (I used an orange one), radishes and minced cilantro, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and a dash of lime juice.

Gallo Pinto Coconut Rice

I used long-grain brown rice, with mostly coconut milk (and a little chicken stock) for the cooking liquid. When it was almost done, I stirred in some canned (drained and rinsed) black beans. Season with salt and pepper. When we were in Costa Rica a couple of years ago, we were served Gallo Pinto (rice and black beans) at every meal and we loved it. Every place does it a little bit differently, sometimes with tomato and/or onion, sometimes with cilantro, sometimes shaped into little timbales, but always delicious. I think that “gallo pinto” actually means “spotted rooster.” Funny. Btw, “pico de gallo“, another of our favorite foods, actually means “rooster’s beak.”

Crunchy Roasted Corn,
adapted from a recipe from Great Country Farms

6 ears fresh, raw, corn on the cob
3/4 cup mayonnaise
about 1 tsp. BBQ seasoning
2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 to 3 cups dry, plain (unseasoned) bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet lightly with Pam (or brush with oil).

Whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and seasoning. One at a time, brush each ear of corn liberally with the mayonnaise mixture and then roll in the breadcrumbs to coat and lay each one on the baking sheet.

Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes until lightly browned and crisp. Last night, I baked ours for 35 minutes, but it really would have been better if they had gone a few minutes more, so I would recommend cooking yours until they are darker than mine is in the photo.

Nota Bene: You can use your choice of seasoning/flavoring, instead of the BBQ seasoning. Some good options:

a little cumin (one of our favorites on corn on the cob)

Baby Bam

Finely chopped chives and a little salt

Finely chopped fresh jalapeno and cilantro

seasoned salt (or No-salt seasoning)

Italian seasoning or, just omit the seasoning altogether and use Italian-seasoned bread crumbs

Chicken & Corn Chowder with Thyme

I made this recipe from epicurious for dinner last night. Sorry for the terrible photo – the soup was the same exact color as the inside of my bowls and my photography skills aren’t near what I would like them to be. Someday, I’m going to break down and take a class…but not today, so I’ll just apologize, instead…

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Adaptations:
I browned the pieces of chicken a tiny bit (in the bacon fat that was drained off out of the pan) before placing it in the soup.

I added a tiny bit of my BBQ seasoning, because Girl loves it with corn.

I cut back the amount of onion a tiny bit, and added a minced garlic clove (when the onions were almost done).

I used 1/2 cup half-and-half and 1/2 cup milk, because I ran out of half-and-half, and also just to cut the richness/fat content a little bit.

I have posted another Potato-Corn Chowder recipe before, but this one is a little different (added chicken and bacon, subtracted celery, substituted thyme for dill). They’re both good, just subtly different.