Garlic Roasted Chicken & Butternut Squash with Pecans


I’ve noticed a lot of us sitting in the polar vortex have been sticking with our old basic comfort foods to get us through the rest of this winter.  This past Wednesday was definitely a comfort food kind of day.

I tend to stay close to home when the weather’s going to be nasty, mainly because I drive a very impractical (but very fun) sports car.  Much to my dismay, I was caught about 10 miles from home coming out of Boston heading west into what was supposed to be rain with a dusting of snow.  All I needed was 14 minutes and I would have been back home – instead I ran straight into white out conditions with snow accumulating rapidly, slicking the highway and turning the back roads into skating rinks.  As I was trying to figure out which of the 4 approaches I could take to get to my house, I realized that they all included hairpin turns and were all uphill.  I think if I’d practiced a little earlier this winter I could have made the Olympic bobsled team which would have been a snap on a nicely groomed track.  With my skid control warning light flashing at me and my rear end sliding out (my car’s rear end) I just made it to our driveway and thankfully hit the garage door opener to slide the bobsled into the garage.  The only concern I had at that point was whether or not I’d be able to stop the slide into the garage before hitting the rider mower (just a little tap, shush).

A cup of tea to simmer down the shakes and it was time to get some comforting aromas in the house.  A roasted chicken has always been comfort food for me because it was usually what we had growing up for Sunday dinner.  There weren’t any foodies in the 50’s so menus didn’t vary much – chicken on Sunday, pasta on Wednesday, fish on Friday, and some kind of roast on Saturday.  Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday was up for grabs but usually the choices were  meatloaf, stuffed peppers, cabbage and spareribs, pork chops, casseroles from the latest Woman’s Day or Good Housekeeping magazine and always dessert.  Sometimes we’d have steak but that was always an incredibly long meal as everyone chewed…and chewed…and finally gave up to work on the potatoes and vegetables to give their jaws a rest.

A little story about our Sunday chicken dinners…my mother was a very good cook and especially known for her unbelievable pies.  She never minded cooking for a crowd and we often had family joining us for Sunday dinners – until my Uncle Arthur with his 7 boys got booted out of the house by Aunt Mary one Sunday.  If you’re younger than I am you might not remember that having a phone was still a new concept but the aunts and uncles who were invited to Sunday dinner would have called earlier in the week to let my mother know that a 5 pound chicken might not be enough and to plan accordingly.

I still remember sitting down one Sunday – 5:00 pm exactly – and just as the food had been passed around, Uncle Arthur was knocking at the door.  The 7 boys were already through the door and finding chairs to fit themselves at the table – they were hungry!  Of course my mother would never think not to invite someone to sit down to eat even if they were already stuffing their faces.  In any case, that dinner we all just had a little less than usual with no leftovers for lunches for the week.

Since Arthur was my father’s brother, Dad got an earful that night.  Not even close to the earful he got the next week, and the week after when Uncle Arthur and the boys continued to show up right at 5:00 every Sunday thereafter.  We never did see Aunt Mary who was probably still in bed recovering from the week.  I honestly thought that we were getting a special treat that Sunday when my mother had us all dress up and lined us up by the back door.  Just as Uncle Arthur’s car pulled into the driveway, we were marched out the door and just getting into our car as the boys began to pile out.  “Oh dear, so sorry but we weren’t expecting you…we were just heading out”.  As soon as the eating army was around the corner though we were marched back into the house and our chicken dinner was served.  I did wonder why we were leaving the house with the oven on and food ready to hit the table.

You’d think that would have been the end of it but nope, the following Sunday Uncle Arthur was back.  Yes, he was and we were caught unawares.  You did not mess with my mother though because the following Sunday we had our chicken dinner at 4:00 and were at the ice cream stand when Uncle Arthur pulled up wondering why no one was home.  A couple weeks of that and we were back to our 5:00 pm routine.

This isn’t  my mother’s chicken recipe, but it’s extremely juicy, tender, and flavorful.  I know it sounds like a lot of garlic in here but it isn’t overwhelming at all…although you can always have some mints on the side.


Garlic Roasted Chicken with Rosemary

1     Whole chicken
6     Large cloves garlic
1     Whole head garlic
5     Tablespoons softened butter
4     Sprigs rosemary
1     Beer or 8 oz. chicken broth

– After rinsing chicken, insert full head of garlic and a couple sprigs of rosemary into cavity with a few glubs of beer
– Soften butter then mix in chopped rosemary (or use dried) and the 6 cloves of minced garlic
– Cut small openings under the skin of the chicken and push the butter/garlic/rosemary mixture into all of the areas you can read under the skin
– Pour more beer or broth on top of the chicken then cover and roast at 400° for about 1 1/2 hours, depending on size of chicken.  Remove foil for last 1/2 hour to brown skin.  You can continue to baste with beer.


On the side, I had mashed potatoes with gravy and this butternut squash which was perfect with pecans.


Butternut Squash with Pecans

– Chop about 1/2 large white onion
– Peel and dice butternut squash into 1/2″ cubes
– In heavy skillet, melt 4-6 tablespoons butter to cook onions until they’re almost caramelized
– Add diced squash and cover until squash is just tender
– Add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, mixing onions, squash, and nuts
– Sprinkle granulated brown sugar on top

When I make this again, any of you are welcome to join us – just call ahead.

Cheesy Baked Sweet Potato & Zucchini

We planned a relaxing Easter brunch at J’s Restaurant at the Bolton Winery so that I could have a break from cooking a big meal and try to shake the winter blues (yes, it’s still freezing here).  I must have some sort of guilt thing going because rather than just take it easy I decided I just had to make a major stuffed roast chicken with half a dozen sides on Saturday night.  It might have gone well since I’d prepped almost everything early in the day but after setting the oven temp and putting the chicken inside, I forgot one thing – actually turning the oven ON.  Now there’s not much you can do with a 7 lb. bird when you realize your mistake 2 hours later and the dinner planned for 7:30 pm turned into a 9:30/10:00-ish event with me just trying to keep my eyes open.  If I had been thinking, I should have taken the stuffing out of the bird and cooked that in foil to speed things up, but alas I did not think of that.  I also forgot to embarrass Niki with an old flashback to when she was 5 years old.  So I’ll do it now…

I was in the kitchen when Niki came racing in, back from church with my husband.

“Mom!  Mom!  MOM!!!   Did you hear what they did to Jesus Christ?”
Whoa, this sounded like breaking news. Not sure where she was going with this and was expecting something had happened at Mass, I let her go on…
“Well they hung him on a cross!”
Okay, I already knew that so all I could say was something like, yes that was a really horrible painful way to die.
 Mom, that’s not the worst…they made him carry his cross.”
Oookay…still not sure where this is going but I could tell I was missing the point in this conversation.
“MOM!  The cross was made out of WOOD – like my swingset – I’ll bet he got splinters.  Now those things really hurt!”

Ah, finally I get the picture and I guess what it comes down to is we can only truly relate to what our own experiences are, especially when you’re only five.

But back to  our Saturday dinner, everything did come out fine, especially these cheesy baked vegetables which I had prepped well ahead of time.  I used a large zucchini and two medium sweet potatoes but any type of potato or squash would work.

cheesy veg and bacon fried mashed 011It’s so easy to make and you can have it all prepped ahead of time, ready to pop in the oven for about 20-30 minutes at 375°.
– Dice a medium white onion and 2 cloves of garlic.  Saute onion in butter until translucent – add the garlic at the end so as not to burn.  Spread onion/garlic mixture in the bottom of a small pan (depends on the amount of vegetables you’re making).
– Slice the zucchini and sweet potato, about 1/4″ thick then arrange in layers in the pan, dotting the top with bits of butter.  Bake until vegetables are just softened, then sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese.  Put back into the oven for a few minutes until cheese has melted.
cheesy veg and bacon fried mashed 006

Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Chicken – over to you Niki

We had a little leak in our kitchen faucet, no big deal. I gave my husband the perfect out to not bother with it since I hope in a few months we’ll be re-doing the entire kitchen, sink & all.  But….

broken faucet 001

I had no idea that John was going to go ahead and “fix” the leak so when I heard all kinds of banging going on downstairs I swung by to see what was happening.  It went like this:

John:  “Damn spigot broke right off in my hand”
Me:  “Ummm, do you think the hammer might have had something to do with it?”

Since this project was started on a Sunday and Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace didn’t carry this part and since the plumbing supply places are closed on Sundays, well…why don’t we just swing by Niki’s place and see what’s happening in her kitchen.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays. I have to say I not only enjoyed the holidays, I ate like the world was ending (alas, that didn’t happen so I need to do a little more running and boot camp – thanks a lot Mayans!).  December is fairly quiet in public relations –  journalists are starting to wrap up their stories for the year and go on vacation as well as many of our clients. Because of this “slow time” I am lucky enough to get a week and a half off at Christmastime. I had planned on making all kinds fabulous dinners that I found on Pinterest and I swore to my nutritionist that I didn’t have ANY issues because I don’t go to many holiday parties. Boy was I wrong!!!

Not only do I enjoy holiday parties, my birthday also falls in December along with three of my very good friends, Julie, Colleen and another Colleen. That’s cause for lots of celebration and needless to say I found myself beside a lot of cheese platters and dips over the month of December.

While I enjoyed all the festivities, some of my favorites included an impromptu mini vacation to Florida with my friend Taylor, a birthday ride on the Polar Express with the Murphys, many special birthday drink celebrations with friends and my first Christmas in Brighton that included skating on the famous Frog Pond in the Boston Common with my terrific boyfriend Tim.

Frog Pond

Frog Pond

All of that was topped with a fun New Year’s Eve celebration in Boston with my college friends and a special celebrity appearance by Tim’s brother Dan from Chicago.

Needless to say, when my girlfriends in Boston wanted to get together for the weekend we were all looking for a low-key night to hangout and not eat in a restaurant. I proposed the idea of having a potluck dinner at my apartment and a movie night. Of course all the girls wanted to know what I would be making to allow them to make appropriate sides to go with the main dish. I wanted to try something new and I stumbled upon a recipe for chicken wrapped in Prosciutto.  I also found a recipe with chicken stuffed with basil and cheese wrapped in Prosciutto. I decided to combine these two recipes and put my own twist on it. 

Stuffed Chicken Wrapped in Prosciutto
Chicken breasts (6)

proscuitto wrapped chick

One package of shredded mozzarella cheese
One bunch of fresh basil
3-5 shallots
3 garlic cloves
1 lemon
Olive oil
12 slices of Prosciutto

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Slice garlic and set aside
  3. Chop shallots and basil and mix together in a bowl, set aside
  4. Lay out prosciutto so it’s easier to deal withwrapping chicken
  5. Take one breast and with a sharp knife cut into the side of the chicken breast
  6. Put  2 slices of the prosciutto down on the cutting board
  7. Put the chicken breast on top of the prosciutto
  8. Put a few slices of garlic on one side of the chicken then add some of the basil mixture on top and finally top the basil shallot mixture with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheesestuffing chicken
  9. Then fold over the chicken flap and start rolling the chicken in the prosciutto
  10. Finally put the chicken in an oiled baking dish and repeat the process for as many chicken breasts as you have
  11. Squeeze one half of a lemon over the chicken and top the chicken with a little bit of olive oil
  12. Put the chicken in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

Side Dishes – Roasted  Veggies
2 zucchinis
2 summer squashes
3 shallots
Italian seasonings
Salt pepper
2 Tablespoons butter

  1. Chop zucchinis and squash and shallots
  2. Put in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of butter
  3. Dress with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper
  4. Sprinkle with your favorite Italian seasoning

Hope you enjoy! Happy New Year to all!

Supremes de Volaille aux Chamignons- Guest blog from my awesome daughter, Niki

Many of you have met my one, my only, and my favorite daughter Niki in prior posts.  We have so many fond memories related to food of course.  There was the time she and her friend Tori decided to open a store using my pantry for inventory…and tried to sell my stuff back to me!  You can click on this link for the “I’m running away from home” incident when she pitched a fit over having cookies for lunch. And of course, Niki is the reason why I started this blog and the person who pushed me over the edge to hit the “publish” by announcing it on Facebook.

Niki is very gracious with her compliments of my cooking, but the truth is there was a period, many years ago when due to serious health issues, she and my husband had to step up to the plate and the stove.  The results may not have been gourmet but believe me the love was there in every meal they cooked for me and those meals will always be the most special in my life.  It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know what was happening down in the kitchen but I still laugh thinking about how multi-course meals arrived at my bedside – first Niki would deliver a piece of meat on a tray, then about 20 minutes later a vegetable would arrive, followed 20 more minutes later with a potato.  Occasionally she’d come up with the bad news “um, we had something else but Dad doesn’t think you should eat it”. Since that time I’m thrilled to see that Niki has mastered the art of cooking and serving an entire meal.

More than that, she’s also more creative and willing to experiment in the kitchen than I am.  She was responsible for the ultimate in appetizers (pizza dip loaded baked potato dip)  that I posted this summer.  I know how many of you are pressed for time at the end of busy work days and think that she has some terrific recipes to share with you that can be cooked up in a flash.  I love you Niki but if you ever make this again and don’t invite me, you will be very sorry.  Please welcome Niki as my guest blogger and yes, I will continue to nag her for more recipes.

Ever since my mom asked me to write a guest blog post, I’ve been trying to find a way to start.  If you haven’t tried my mother’s recipes, I can tell you that she is probably one of the best cooks I’ve ever encountered and that includes those in Italy where I studied in college.  She is very modest about her abilities, but the truth is I prefer my mother’s cooking to most restaurants.

I always read my mom’s recipes on her blog and bookmark them thinking that I’ll come back to them but the truth is, I just never seem to have the time. I’m a young twenty-something and work in the fast-paced world of public relations. My focus is high tech security and with clients on the east and west coasts my work day can be very long.  The saying “the news never sleeps,” is definitely true! We are pretty much on call 24/7 and when a crisis occurs, the workday ends when the crisis has been fixed. So when it comes to dinner, it’s usually a matter of looking in the fridge to see what I can work with.

While my mom’s posts are going to be about many delicious things you can make, my posts are going to focus more on what to make for dinner where you’re crunched for time, there’s not much in your fridge or you’re just so tired you can barely pour yourself a glass of wine.

Today in my fridge I had chicken, potatoes, broccoli, left over heavy cream and mushrooms that I needed to use. This entire meal took about 20 minutes start to finish and it’s a twist on a meal from another great woman, Julia Child.  My version of:

Supremes de Volaille aux Chamignons
(Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream)

Main Ingredients:
4 thin sliced chicken breasts
½ tablespoon lemon juice
5 tablespoons butter
Scallions (about 3)
½ package of baby portabella mushrooms (pre-sliced saves time)
salt and pepper

For Sauce:
¼ cup chicken stock
¼ cup vermouth
1 cup of heavy cream

For Sides:
4 Yukon Gold potatoes (medium size)
1/4 of an onion
3 cloves garlic
½ cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream

1 head of Broccoli

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
* Take out chicken breasts and rub with lemon juice, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
* Heat the butter in an oven-safe skillet then add mushroom and scallions. Sauté for a minute then add chicken.
* Sauté the chicken for a minute then put the skillet in the oven (love this because I can cook this all in one pan)
* Once the chicken is cooked (about 6-8 minutes) add chicken stock and vermouth.

* Let the stock and vermouth boil down (about 5 minutes) then add the heavy cream.
* Simmer for about 8 minutes and you’re done!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
Boil the potatoes (Cut potatoes into chunks so that they cook faster)

After I drained the water, I had the bright idea that I would throw the potatoes into the food processor to mash.  I added the milk, onion and garlic thinking this would get mashed up nicely and be a great short cut. Nice try but sorry to say that this DOES NOT work unless you want potato puree. As for me I prefer my mashed potatoes a little lumpy. It’s better than way. So no short cuts for good mashed potatoes.

So after I took my potato puree out of the food processor, I needed something to thicken my mashed potatoes and I decided to see what sour cream would do. Who  knew –  it works wonders! I added about 1/3 cup of sour cream (add more or less to your liking) and use a hand masher.

Broccoli, well I just boiled it but still good.

My favorite part about this meal is that it tastes gourmet but it was simple and I only used 3 pots total.  And I even finished dinner in time to catch Modern Family.

Hopefully you like it! Bon Appetite!

Spaghetti Squash, Chicken Parm & Jury Duty!

I always win the lottery every 3 years…no, not the Mass lottery or anything where I get money, but the juror pool lottery.  In Massachusetts we have a “one day, one trial” system where everyone 18 to 70 years old must report for jury duty for either one day or if you’re chosen for a jury, one trial.  Unless you’re in the hospital on life support it’s not easy to get out of.  I personally don’t mind being on a jury, except for the part about arriving at 8:00 am (7:00 if you’d like a parking space at only $10). Juries don’t get selected until you watch a movie about responsibility, the Constitution, and John Adams that hadn’t changed in 12 years that I know of, followed by a black robed judge who came in to give us the final locker room  pep talk.

Really, if you appreciate me so much Your Honor, then where’s the free coffee?  And if the judge had come out a little more like Sammy Davis Jr. on Laugh In, I wouldn’t have been such a Miss Cranky Pants.

After sitting for over an hour,  jurors 1 through 95 were asked to shuffle into a courtroom.  I’d never seen them call so many potential jurors for screening and figured it must be a major or controversial trial.  Of course holding juror #2 card, I followed the crowd to find out what this one was about.  The judge gave a quick overview of the criminal case  – a man accused of raping a 13 year old girl.  One screening question asked if you might have any prejudices or could not be impartial.  Juror #2 held up her card and was called for questioning at the bench – good-bye Diane and back to the juror pool.  To wait…

Once enough potential jurors had been bounced off the rape case, at about 11:30 am, we once again shuffled off to a different courtroom to hear about a civil trial. For some reason, they really didn’t ask any questions other than if you knew either of the parties or witnesses and before I knew it, there I was in the jury box.  Not wanting to waste time, the judge had each lawyer give opening remarks.  A quick synopsis:

Dope 1 walked into a local bar, saw Dope 2 kissing his girlfriend of 17 years (although they’d broken up 3 days before), and punched Dope 2 in the eye knocking him off his bar stool.  Dope 2’s lawyer said Dope 1 proceeded to kick Dope 2 while he was down, resulting in serious injury which required surgery and a metal plate to repair a shattered cheek bone.  Medical bills of over $35,000 (we do have state insurance here so I doubt that was out of his pocket), loss of work, pain, anguish… Dope 2 is suing Dope 1 for all that and hopefully a pile of money.  Open & shut, right?  Until you got to hear Dope 2’s lawyer:

No doubt about it, Dope 1 did punch Dope 2 in the face but the fight was quickly broken up as witnessed by 3 people who will also state that there was no kicking.  There would also be witnesses saying that Dope 2 had told them that he’d been punched in the face a couple months prior – sounds like Dope 2 has a face people love to punch.  Also, Dope 2, although he was in severe pain resulting in surgery and hospitalization, did not bother to go to the emergency room until 3 days later and never reported the assault to the police.  Okay, now we’ve got something to ponder…but it being lunchtime and the judge not available after 2:00 because she had to hear motions from other dopes, we were told to report back to the courthouse at 8:45 am on Friday.

As I looked at the jury, I thought to myself, we’ve got 2 on here with severe attitude problems.  One a dreadlocked, purple haired, nose ringed, tattooed young lady and the second, a slouched and shuffling kid who’d purposely dressed in droopy sweat pants, flip flops and a skull t-shirt to ensure that he wouldn’t be chosen.  Both looked to be the minimum age (18) but for some reason they felt the adults in the room cared about the the terrible disruption in their lives and spent the entire wait time whining about it  Sure, the adults in the room had some complaints – one guy had to drive over 50 miles each way, a woman who worked from home had to make special arrangements for a babysitter, pretty much all of them had to miss work although by law their companies are required to pay them for the first 3 days of jury duty … well except for the guy who has his own business who I guess is required to pay himself.  We all got to pay for gas and parking out of our own pockets.

Friday we were back in for 8:45 am sharp and put into a jury room until 9:00… except guess who didn’t show up?  Yup, Mr. Attitude whose life must involve things too important to stop by to join us.  I will give credit to dreadlock girl who did show up, but after waiting a half hour, asked to speak to the judge after which we didn’t see her again.  So, then there were 10…and it was now after 10:00 when we were told that they were trying to contact the ‘gentleman’ who didn’t show up (or call).  Really?  If you’re going to blow off jury duty, would you answer a call where the ID says “Worcester Courthouse”?

After cooling our heels for an hour and a half, we were shuffled back to the courtroom where the judge told us that due to the delay in trying to find our wayward juror, the fact that she had anticipated the trial to end that day (Friday), the holiday on Monday, her commitment to be in a different court on Tuesday, and problems rescheduling witnesses, that she would have to declare a mistrial and we were released.  No, there were no alternate jurors selected and since the trial had already started, she couldn’t pull new jurors from the Friday pool.  So, thanks to the bad attitude of one irresponsible kid, everyone involved in the trial – defense, plaintiff, witnesses, judge, courtroom personnel, jurors, all wasted 2 days and I’m sure much expense while the 2 dopes who decided to punch each other out will need to come back at another time to do it all over again.  And what did I personally get out of it?  A really lousy cold since everyone around me was coughing and spraying.

Obviously, I can use all of the above to not cook a real meal, but I happened to be very lucky.  I had plenty of left over spaghetti sauce, chicken fillets, mozzarella & parm cheese PLUS my daughter had given me a hot tip about spaghetti squash.  I’ve heard of spaghetti squash but never knew what to do with it until Niki explained that it was a self-cooking meal.  Get out!  This is what I’ve been looking for since leaving my mother’s home cooking.  Whether you’re tied up on jury duty or busy in court suing someone for punching you in the head, this is something you can put together with no effort at all.  If you don’t have your own spaghetti sauce hanging around you could use a good prepared sauce but if you’d like the secret family sauce recipe which should hold you for almost a week, try this link from a prior post.  Let’s start with the easiest thing in the world –

SPAGHETTI SQUASH with Browned Garlic Butter Sauce
1.  Take a spaghetti squash & toss it in the oven at 375° for about 45 minutes, until soft when you poke with a fork.  You don’t have to do a thing with it –  no peeling, oil, no pan…
2.  Cut squash in half, remove the seeds in the center, then pull out all the ‘spaghetti’ strands with a fork.  It will look like this:

3.  Mince garlic, saute in pan with 3/4 to 1 stick of butter until just browned, then pour over squash and toss to coat.


– Wrap chicken breasts in Sarah wrap, take out your frustrations by pounding it flat.  Quickly saute in combination of olive oil & butter, then remove to a lightly greased casserole dish.
– Layer slices of fresh mozzarella, then freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of that.

Coat with homemade spaghetti sauce (or jarred).  Put in the oven with the squash for about 30 minutes.

Enjoy with your choice of wine – after all…It’s FRIDAY!!!

Grilled Corn on the Cob

It’s corn season!  And there’s no better way to cook it than on the grill in the husk.

Just peel back the husk, remove the silks, then tie the husks back up at the top.  I spritz the outside with a little water then grill for about 15 minutes.  Of course tons of butter with a little salt is the only way to go.

Scalloped Potatoes, plus mouse 2

Listen folks, I’ve got a huge dog who’s supposed to guard and protect me.  I guess that works since no one’s attacked me.  Then I have a cat.  Cat’s are supposed to keep your feet warm at night and keep mice out of the house.  My last post gave you an idea of how effective that’s been.  We’re now into Day 2 of “The Mouse Incident”.  I really didn’t think I’d be seeing “Jerry” again but as I was getting a cup of coffee in the kitchen, I heard sounds of a scurfuffle in the family room and found this going on around Lola’s toy tub (notice the little ADHD at around 25 second mark):

I figured we’d be done with the mouse in a few minutes so I had my coffee, got on the computer, did a load of laundry… oh ’bout 2 hours later it was finally quiet so I went in to the pantry to get the dust pan.  And found this…

Wait for it….


Moe’s taking a lunch break while his new best friend is trying to get into a bag of birdseed that’s in a canvas bin.  Figuring I’d take care of things, I grabbed the dust pan and broom which scared Jerry who fell into the bin.  Aha!  Got you trapped you lil varmit!  Just as I was about to trap him under the dust pan, he popped out onto Moe’s butt.  Seriously – Moe turned his head with a “just a minute willya – I’m still eating”.  Of course Jerry went back into the baseboard as soon as I got close.  And now we’re into Day 4… but let’s move on to the scalloped potatoes.

Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes

4      Potatoes, large, peeled
2      Very large Vildalia or white onions
5      Tablespoons butter (start with 3 TBL, add more to thicken)
2      Tablespoons flour
2      Cups milk
1/4   Cup cream
1/2   Cup parmesan cheese, grated
Paprika, salt, pepper, chopped parsley

– Thinly slice potatoes and onions then boil together in large pot until just slightly tender.
– Melt butter in saucepan.  Stir in flour with a sprinkling of paprika, pepper, and salt until smooth.  Blend in milk and cream, stirring over medium heat until sauce starts to thicken.  Add parmesan, continue to stir until well blended and smooth.
– In a greased casserole dish, layer 1/2 potato/onions.  Sprinkle a little chopped parsley, then spoon sauce on top.  Add second layer of potato/onions and cover with remaining sauce.
– Bake uncovered at 375° for about 1/2 hour, until top is browned.  Sprinkle with more chopped parsley.

Ask cat how the mousing’s coming along.

Roasted Broccoli w/Parmesan Breadcrumbs, plus Mouse

Last night was a cooking kinda night – chicken with orange zest, scalloped potatoes, and roasted broccoli with parmesan breadcrumbs.  Tonight, well tonight might not be a cooking kinda night since Moe the Terrorist Cat has been chasing a mouse all around the house since this morning and the last mouse sighting was behind the cabinets in the kitchen next to the stove (note to cabinet makers: don’t leave the overhang on cabinets open).

And we wait….

This isn’t the first time we’ve played Catch-a-Mouse.  Living in the country you get occasional mice.  Usually we leave the garage door open so they can just walk in, but I’m sure there’s plenty of little cracks & crevices that they’ve found to sneak in – just in case we make it tough by closing the doors.  Moe is usually an indoor cat, unless he escapes in which case it’s Lola’s job to go chase his fuzzy butt back into the house.  I guess giving him a pile of play mice doesn’t allow him to hone his mousing skills though.  Even with all the little designated cat toys, he finds stuff like make-up brushes, especially the big fluffy blush brushes and my paint brushes great substitutes for toys and he’ll wake me up around 3:00 am screwing around on top of the bed pounding the crap out of them.  It happens enough times that I don’t bother turning on the light, just reach down, grab the “toy” & toss it into the beside table drawer.  I’m like an elementary school teacher with a drawer full of contraband.  There was the night though that Moe was messing with my sleep and I grabbed his toy only to realize through my sleep haze that I’d grabbed a real mouse.  I really did say “EEEEK” and threw that little sucker across the room.  Moe was highly offended but tough on Moe.  A couple weeks later, I woke up one morning to find a mouse head on my bed which made me think “this cat is sending me a Godfather message”.

Then there was this incident from last fall when I awoke to a lot of banging on the baseboards in the foyer.  If you have the volume on you might notice that after Moe bangs on the baseboard, the mouse bangs back and then after Moe’s flushed the mouse, Lola comes galumphing downstairs to “help”. Talk about screwing up a free lunch.

Don’t worry, the mouse doesn’t get hurt but after it got away by sneaking up in the opening under my kitchen desk (open cabinet bottoms!), I pulled out the drawer and told the two numbnuts to get the mouse while I ran out to the store.  Grabbed my purse and the rodent popped out of my purse, up my arm and took off with Big & Little chasing him as I stomped out the door.

So back to the broccoli… if you just have the broccoli try this with parmesan, garlic, and breadcrumbs.  If you have a mouse, throw that on the grill.

Roasted Broccoli w/Parmesan, Garlic, Breadcrumbs

1      Medium head of broccoli
1/2   Cup breadcrumbs
3      Tablespoons olive oil
3      Tablespoons butter
4      Garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4   Cup grated Parmesan cheese

– After trimming the stringy outer layer of broccoli stems, cut into chunks and spread on cookie sheet.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and roast in oven at 375° for about 10-15 minutes.
– While broccoli is roasting, melt butter and olive oil in pan on medium then add minced garlic and pepper flakes for a couple minutes.  Stir in breadcrumbs, adding more oil or butter just so breadcrumbs are moistened.
– Remove broccoli from oven & sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top, then top with parmesan cheese.  Put back in the oven for another few minutes until cheese has just melted.  May also squirt a little fresh lemon on top.

Where in the world are you Freddie Farkel?

Better yet, where in the world is Diane?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, re-doing the kitchen has not been enough to amuse me so I tore apart a sofa with the intent of reupholstering it.  I’ve stripped off most of the fabric but want to leave one side intact so I can remember how it all goes back together.  Right now, it’s a good conversation piece if not suitable for use.  So I’ve been on a quest to find new fabric which led me to Freddie Farkel’s in Watertown, MA.  Freddie Farkel’s (real name) is a discount decorator fabric store and I was going to find it.

I know Freddie’s is in Watertown because that’s what the website says.  And I know where Watertown is (right outside Boston) because I used to live there 35 years ago.  I really shouldn’t have gone bragging on someone’s post about my great sense of direction because I think that got St. Christopher all upset, maybe even St. Anthony.  No, I do not have GPS but I did set out yesterday with my printed directions from Mapquest that said it would take me 46 minutes to get there.  I was pretty sure once I got to the Watertown Square I’d be get my bearings.

So… who changed up Watertown Square on me?  And see that jagged arrow that says “go right”?  Notice a few ‘rights”?

This being Boston, of course there’s no signs.  I knew I didn’t wanted the rightest of rights, didn’t think I wanted the next of the rights… and being in the wrong lane anyway I had to go straight.  Around here you do not ever sit in the middle of an intersection trying to figure out which way to go.

And that’s how I ended up going past Harvard…oops, that would be in Cambridge.  Used to work there, need to go west.  Oh cripes, now I’m in Arlington, used to live there too, need to go south.  Oh here I am going past Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge again, maybe I could stop by & get my blood pressure checked.  Well, Brighton’s always a nice place to visit.  Okay, already used up way more than my allotted 46 minutes!  Few more loops around visiting neighborhoods that I never want to go back to, when I saw the name of the street I was looking for.  I was hoping I was at least in the right town and sure enough, there it was FREDDIE FREAKIN’ FARKEL!!! Wrong side of the road since I came in the back way but I didn’t care.  As GPS lady would have told me “you have reached your destination”.

Excellent place too.  Absolutely every possible decorator fabric you could ask for and very helpful sales people.  So helpful that one woman was pulling samples for me to take home saying “take these & just bring them back in a few days”.  “NO!  You don’t understand I can’t come back here, I don’t even know how I got here, please don’t make me take samples”.  The nice Farkel lady gently took me over to the section of samples that they had in stock and I hit on the one that was just right.  Yeah… no yeah?  wha???? It’s not in stock?  You have to order it?  Oh please, oh please do not make me come back here.  After all my road time, plus almost 2 hours in the store perusing, I was hungry, thirsty, tired, defeated but I agreed to have them order the 20 yards I need rather than go back through any more samples.  So I guess I will maybe borrow my daughter’s GPS, ask my husband to drive me back, OR now that I kinda, sorta know where I’m going, I could maybe go back all by myself.

So what does all this have to do with recipes?  Well after that adventure, the last thing I wanted to do was cook a meal so I was ever so thankful for a great gift I had received (before my grill broke), delivered to my house:

Dinner all ready and waiting to go on the grill (now fixed btw).  What you see are 5 oz. Omaha tenderloin steaks and potatoes au gratin.  These steaks have a registration number and unconditional guarantee signed by Mr. Omaha Steak himself, Fred Simon.  Believe me, the steaks which were wrapped in bacon were fantastic and the potatoes light and delicious.  Now, since Memorial Day is this weekend which means Father’s Day is just around the corner I thought I’d also tip you to this great idea for Dad’s gift.  You can order on line and it’s delivered to your (or the lucky recipient’s) door packaged in dry ice.

Snow Peas and Raspberry Salad

Sorry no picture of this beautiful dish – I couldn’t get a photo before it was consumed so you’ll have to visualize:
Bright green, crisp snow peas in a heavenly dressing with plump, juicy raspberries on top.  You know my presentation skills so I have to believe that the description is more appetizing than a photo of this little salad creation.

Steam snow peas for about 1 minute, then run under cold water to stop the cooking process.  You want the nice crunch of the snow peas so don’t over-do.

Salad dressing for Snow Peas & Raspberry Salad

1     Tablespoon olive Oil
2     Teaspoons raspberry vinegar
1/4  Teaspoon Dijon mustard

Whisk ingredients together & drizzle over snow peas, toss, then add fresh raspberries on top.  This is very colorful, crunchy, and an interesting combination of flavors.