Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Delish summer salad

Hey y’all! It’s summer and I’m back! We had more spring rains in May than in the history of ever. We were out of school for an entire week before we ever saw the sun. It didn’t feel like summer at all. The temps were in the 60’s and 70’s, cloudy and rainy. Bleh. In May, we only had 2 days that were considered ‘sunny’ That’s not summer, that’s monsoon season. This week when the sun finally came out, I promise I heard angels singing! And since the sun finally came out and my yard has become less than a swamp, I’ve been able to do some of the yard work and gardening that has been put off. It’s no fun doing yard work in hip waders. So here I am, putting my basil and my mind is running all over the place. Apparently my mind just ran the 40 yard dash in record time, because this is what it came up with.

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This is pure summer deliciousness in a bowl.

Delish Summer Salad

4 Roma tomatoes – quartered and sliced
2 avocados – cubed
2 cloves garlic – minced
5-6 leaves fresh basil – sliced
4-6 oz fresh mozzarella – sliced/cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and dive in! This is an incredibly flavorful, fresh, light salad that I think I could live on. It has everything you could ever possibly want, right? It’s got the goodness of the unsaturated fats of avocados, the vitamins of the tomatoes, the protein of the mozzarella, the health benefits of the garlic and basil. What more could a girl ask for? More. I could ask for more. Come to think of it, I think I will.

**Note – If you’re not too keen on the *POW* of fresh garlic, you can use one clove instead of two. We love the POW, but you can easily tone it down.

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Margherita Pizza on steroids

Yes, it’s me, I’m back. I have garlic and I’m not afraid to use it! In my house, garlic is a food group, along with chocolate and red wine. Sounds like a party, no? ūüôā Last summer I had a bumper crop of basil. I love me some fresh basil, also a food group. Because I didn’t want to waste any, I ran it thru my food processor with a little olive oil and put it in ice cube trays & froze it to use later. Since pesto is just basil that’s been put through a food processor with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts & parmesan, I figured I’d have the hard part already done, right? Great. So, now I’m coming up with new ways to use my bounty. And just in case you’re curious, yes, I will have basil in my garden again this year.

Today I was trying to decide what dinner would be and I saw the premade pizza shells at the grocery. I love the thin & crispy crust pizza and was thrilled to see a pre-made thin crust. Pizza Margherita is wonderful and I rarely see it when I go out. Hmmm, thin crust pizza shell, tomatoes in the fridge and basil ready to go? I’m in! But….here I go again, changing things up. You’ll be so proud, I took pictures!

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In case you don’t know what Margherita pizza is, it’s a pizza crust with olive oil, minced garlic, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and basil. Yum! It’s a very light & flavorful pizza. Mine, well, mine was essentially pesto pizza with tomatoes. In my fridge, I happen to have some gorgeous fresh asparagus that I picked on Friday at Thunderbird Berry Farm (I so wish they had a website). And a jar of pine nuts in the cabinet calling my name too. Yep, I did it. I added them to my Margherita pizza and, well, all I can say is WOW. amazing! So, if you love caprese salad, you’ll love Margherita pizza! Give it a try! You won’t be sorry!

Margherita Pizza on Steroids

1 pre-cooked thin pizza crust
2 roma tomatoes sliced thin
4 oz shredded mozzarella
2 tbsp. olive oil
5 garlic cloves (you can use less if you don’t want to stink!) finely minced
5 tbsp. chopped basil (or 1/2 C fresh basil cut into thin strips)
6 stalks of asparagus
2 tbsp. pine nuts
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. On pizza crust, spread 1-2 tbsp. olive oil all over crust using a pastry brush to be sure and get all of the crust
3. spread chopped basil over olive oil, sprinkle garlic & pine nuts over basil.
4. sprinkle cheese over basil & top with tomato slices
5. arrange asparagus around tomatoes
6. bake 10 minutes or until crust reaches your preferred crispness
7. enjoy with altoids!

****NOTE-if you don’t want your tongue to slap your brains out, feel free to decrease the amount of garlic and/or basil. If you use fresh basil, the taste will be delicious, but not quite as powerful as my version.

enjoy!

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Penne with Ham & Asparagus

Yum. That’s all I can say. I’ve been making this dish for years (and yes, my children whine about it! Well Done!) and we really enjoy it. I snap up as much fresh asparagus as I can when it’s on sale. LIke last week. When I bought 4 lbs. Don’t judge. Seriously, we put away 2lbs on Easter. My favorite way to prepare it is to flash steam it for about a minute or so in about 1/4″ of water. Although I’ve heard grilling is good too, I’m so trying that this summer.

In the meantime, I’ve been putting my best asparagus recipes to use. I bought a ham at HoneyBaked Ham for Easter and guess what! I have leftovers, and yes that was intentional. I love their ham, besides it freezes well, so I’ll have some for later. I broke out this recipe a couple of nights ago and I’m telling ya, the HoneyBaked Ham really made a difference. It’s natural ham, not the processed stuff from the deli. The flavor and texture was amazing in this pasta dish. And….I took pictures! Don’t everyone applaud at once! ūüôā We had leftovers, which hubby usually takes to work. After eating it Monday night, and yesterday for lunch, when I tried to give it to him again, he gave me the face. Oh, ok. He’s had enough. So I took it to work and shared w/my boss & my cohort in crime. Cohort – Nikki loved it. Boss, not so much. He’s a meat & taters kinda guy and even though there’s meat in it, there’s no taters, AND there’s green stuff! But he did say it was good, minus the green things.

You’ll be so proud of me….I took pictures!

Penne with Ham & Asparagus

1 lb fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed & cut into 1″ pieces
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion diced
2-3 fresh cloves of garlic
4 C uncooked penne pasta
1/2C half & half
4oz cream cheese cut into chunks & softened
1/4 – 1/2 C freshly grated parmesan cheese (not the bottled stuff)
1 lb HoneyBaked Ham ham – cut into bite size pieces
salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Cook pasta according to directions on pkg.
2. While pasta is cooking, saut√© the asparagus & onions approx. 5 min or until tender. Press garlic cloves into pan (you can just mince it if you don’t have a garlic press) cook another 2-3 minutes.
3. Pour in half & half & add cream cheese, stirring to help cream cheese melt.
4. Add ham & stir, salt & pepper to taste.
5. Drain pasta, tossed to coat all with sauce. Sprinkle parmesan over the top & toss to mix. Serve w/a salad & some crusty bread & you’re good to go!

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Country Style Pork Ribs for Dummies

Do you ever see something in the local grocery sale ad and think ‘Wow! That’s a great deal, but I have no idea what to do with it.’ So, you pass on it, not having it in your wheelhouse. Understandable, I do it regularly. Being in the midwest, we have ribs all around us. St Louis style ribs. Kansas City style ribs. Memphis style ribs. Country style ribs? Hm, not so much. Not unless you know what to do. I wanted to share this b/c one of our local grocery stores has country-style pork ribs for $1.69/lb this week which is a good deal.

Wanna know what to do with country-style ribs? Are you easy? Me too. Well, no, not like that, get your mind out of the gutter. I mean do you like easy to prepare meals? Yep, I thought so, me too! So, if you’re into easy meals, read on!

*NOTE: This is kind of an as-you-go recipe, hence the lack of specific quantities. You can add as many or as few onions, use as much or as little bbq sauce, alter it to your taste.

Easy Country Style Ribs
1 pkg ribs (any size)
1-2 med/large onions
barbecue sauce

1. Place ribs on a broiler pan and place in a preheated oven (300F). Cook 2 hrs, turn ribs, cook another 1-2 hours, depending on the time you have.
2. Slice onions and place in bottom of large slow-cooker. Lay ribs on top of onions. Pour barbecue sauce on ribs. Cook on low for 6 hours or high 4 hours, or until tender.
3. Serve with barbecue sauce on the side.

The leftover ribs make great sandwiches if you chop up the meat.

I’m making these today!

*PS I forgot what happens to bbq sauce when it cooks too long, it burns. Nobody likes burned tasting food. Next time I make them I’ll cook them on low in the slow cooker for about 3 hours first, then pour on barbecue sauce, so they’re good and saucy, but not burned. Enjoy!

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What’s That I Hear? No Complaints? What Did I Do Wrong?

I’m very happy to share with you my friends, last night’s dinner didn’t garner any complaints. It almost makes me feel like I was doing something wrong! Well, that’s not completely true. The steamed broccoli got some whining. Even though we eat it on a regular basis (maybe once a week) and they claim to like it (with the requisite ranch dressing). Ah well, I suppose I can’t win them all, right? As long as my husband was happy, that’s all that matters. If my children had their choice, you know exactly what it would be every night: pizza/hamburgers/macaroni and cheese/hot dogs or some other kind of garbage. It’s not to say we never have those things, but certainly not on a daily basis!

My mom gave me this recipe a few years ago, and I only made it once. I have no idea why I haven’t made it since then, we always have red wine in the house, it’s perfect, I get to drink it AND put it in the food! I think the next time I make it, I”ll cut the water down by about 1/4C, as it turned out a little on the soupy side, but still delicious. If you like it soupy, by all means use the 2 C. One other thing I will tell you, since I’m spilling my guts here, I didn’t use sirloin this time, I used an arm roast. Yes! I know! They were on sale last week at my local grocery and I bought a few. It was a gorgeous roast, as roasts go. I cut it up into small, bite-size cubes and it turned out really well. So don’t be afraid to try a different cut of meat, it just may need a little more cook time if the cut is one that’s not normally terribly tender.

Delish! Beef Burgundy

Delish! Beef Burgundy

BEEF BURGUNDY

2 C water
1 can golden mushroom soup
1/4 to 1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
1-1/2 C burgundy or other dry red wine (I used red zinfandel)
2 lbs boneless top sirloin cut into 1″ pieces
1 pkg uncooked long grain & wild rice mix

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Mmix water, wine, soup & seasoning mix from rice.
3. Put steak/meat and mushrooms into a 5 qt covered casserole dish.
4. Pour soup/wine/water over meat.
5. Bake 30 minutes covered. (you can cook longer if meat is a tougher cut)
6. Add in rice, cover and bake another 60 to 70 minutes, or until rice is tender.
7. Serve with a side & fresh salad.

Yum!

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A Swing and a Miss, Almost

Yes, a baseball reference. It’s nearly spring, time to break out the boys of summer talk, right? I suppose. I’m still in mourning over the end of college football season (I don’t do pro). I mentioned the torturing feeding of my younglings and how they love to protest. And protest they do. Loudly. And often. Especially when the meal involves vegetables, grilled fish/chicken, and no cheese. So imagine my surprise when they needed cheese to go with their whine tonite when dinner included onions, red & yellow peppers and, wait for it…..NO CHEESE.

I found an insane sale on red & yellow bell peppers last week at the grocery and scored as many as I could, knowing how well they freeze and how expensive they normally are. Here are these gorgeous winks of summer staring at me every time I open the fridge, so of course I had to find a way to use them. In my book, anything with peppers and onions has to be good!

Enter Smoked Turkey Sausage jambalaya. If you are in the mood for healthy Cajun, I got it, righcheer. Hooo boy, this some good eatin righcheer! (ok, I have no idea how to sound Cajun, just go with it!)

Yum yum yum! Torture kids on a plate!

Yum yum yum! Torture kids on a plate!

Smoked Turkey Sausage jambalaya

1 pkg jambalaya rice mix (I used Zatarains)
1 pkg smoked turkey sausage, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced

1. prepare Jambalaya according to pkg instructions.
2. While rice is cooking, put sausage in large skillet and cook 5 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally to prevent burning.
3. Add onion & peppers to sausage and cook 5 to 10 minutes, or until peppers are soft.
4. When rice is done (some water in pan & rice is tender), add sausage/peppers/onion to rice mix, stir well and serve.
Eat alone or w/a green salad. It’s got a bit of a kick to it. And although my children didn’t like it much, my husband totally scarfed it up!

Enjoy!

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Ham and Beans For Dummies

I know, I’m probably going to be hit for the title, but really, this recipe is so easy, I wanted you to know it when you clicked on it. You see, if you’re new to my blog, I’m easy. Yes, I said it. I am. I freely admit it. when it comes to recipes anyway. Not easy that way, you naughty friend! When I’m choosing a recipe, ease of preparation is key. If the ingredient list is as long as my arm, I’ll read it, but when it’s got 24 steps to completion, I’m gone. A couple of years ago, we had ham at Thanksgiving and when the food was gone, and leftovers packed away, I was looking at this great big gorgeous ham bone and really not wanting to just throw it out, it seemed so wrong to waste such potential. So I scoured the web trying to get an idea how to use this hunk of meaty goodness. The result is a mashup of several good ideas I found. If you can boil water, you can so make this! In fact, I’ve got a beautiful ham bone from Thanksgiving I’ll be cooking up tomorrow, just in time for a nasty cold front coming through. Get ready my friends!

Ham & Bean Soup
1 big fat ham bone w/meat on
1 lb navy beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced or cut into chunks
2 celery stalks chopped
2 medium onions chopped
5 whole garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
handful of peppercorns
2 tsp dried thyme

1. In a large pot, put ham bone & water to cover it completly. Put onions, garlic, peppercorns, & bay leaves. Boil at least two hours covered, stirring occasionally.
2. Remove ham bone. Debone ham; cut up meat, put back in pot.
3. Drain beans, add to ham stock.
4. Add carrots, celery and thyme.
5. Simmer two hours, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, simmer another 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until beans are soft.
This is delicious with crusty bread or biscuits.
Enjoy!

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Allium Sativum, How I love Thee….

Y’all already know of my¬†passionate affair with Allium Sativum, that’s the scientific name for garlic. It’s a wonderful thing that I’ve brought my husband along to enjoy. Well, I kinda have to, you know, how gross is it when your date/friend/spouse/partner has just consumed what smells like an entire head of garlic and starts talking/laughing/singing to you? Blech. Sick. My thought is if I have company in what I’m eating, we’re both pungent and no one cares! Make sense? Well, it does to me! Almost like drinking alone, it’s just not the same. Hmm, I don’t know that I can say that either, I don’t mind having a glass of wine by myself. Preferably in a hot¬†bath with a good book.

Back to my garlic. I really should try to grow my own, since I eat it like an apple. Ha ha! Just kidding, I seriously do NOT eat garlic like an apple. Have you ever sampled a raw fresh garlic clove? It’s spicy, like raw onion spicy.

It’s been a while since I shared about garlic, and since I’ve got some new friends, how about a little¬†refresher? Garlic is fantastic in many ways, besides chasing off those pesky vampires! It’s really good for your heart and circulatory¬†system, your immune system, and even though they say it doesn’t act as a mosquito repellent, I¬†totally think it does b/c when I eat a lot of it, they don’t come near me!

How about I just break it down into bullet points?

  • Fresh will always be best over jarred. When it’s processed, it starts to lose it’s potency and flavor.
  • Besides, storing/peeling/using fresh garlic couldn’t be easier, really. Start off by choosing a head (that’s the whole thing) that’s white in color and the cloves (the little pieces that you break off to use) are nice and held tightly together (remember “White and tight”). The ‘head’ of garlic breaks into ‘cloves’. I remember reading about someone who was a newlywed and trying a new recipe, ’20 garlic clove spaghetti’ and mistakenly thought the whole head was a single clove! She put 20 WHOLE HEADS of garlic in her pasta sauce! And being a sweet husband, he ate it and didn’t complain, although she didn’t make it again!
  • Store garlic in a dark cool space, I keep my in my pantry. Do not put it in the fridge, it will lose it’s flavor, besides, it’s not necessary to store there.
  • To peel a clove of garlic, break off the clove from the head.¬†¬†Place the clove on a cutting board/hard surface and lay knife flat over the clove with the blade pointing away from you, use the heel of your hand and hit the flat part of the knife blade to kind of crush the clove. Then¬† you can easily peel the clove and do what you wish with it.
  • another method to peel multiple cloves, I saw on YouTube, break the head apart into individual cloves, and with two bowls of the same size, place the garlic in one bowl and put the other bowl on top going the opposite direction (top to top), hold it together and shake back and forth vigorously. I’ve tried it and been sort of successful.
  • If you really want to release more of the garlicky goodness, use a garlic press. They are fantastic little gadgets and you don’t even have to peel the garlic before squeezing it where you want it! I got mine from The Pampered Chef ages ago. It’s super easy to use. I love it when I really want a strong taste, by squeezing it, you release more of the oils, hence flavor. If you want the flavor of garlic, but not an overpowering level, you can mince it on your cutting board.
  • If you’re afraid of garlic, or don’t really care for the stronger taste, try it roasted. Roasting the head of garlic will make it soft, a tiny bit sweet, and spreadable. One of our favorite restaurants serves roasted head of garlic with crusty fresh-baked bread. MMMM¬†who needs an entr√©e when I have that?

Are you hungry yet? I’m thinking garlic chicken stir fry or some fresh bruschetta. Or maybe some roasted garlic smeared on crusty bread. And a side of mouthwash!

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Dessert in a Mug

Do you ever have those times¬†when¬†you want something sweet? What am I talking about, of course you haven’t, that’s only me. Sometimes in the evening after dinner, I just want something, just a little something. Know what I mean? I don’t want a bowl of ice cream. Well, maybe I do, but my waist does not. This little secret is the best little secret I’ve uncovered. I cannot begin to take credit for it, I’m not sure where it originated, all I know is my mother-in-law is a genius for sharing it with me! If this is old news, by all means, please move on to my next article. If you are like me, read on!

This is really detailed and has a long ingredient list, so get your pen and paper ready. Ha! Just kidding. The easiest EVER! I wish I could take credit for it. If anyone out there knows where it originated, please tell me!

Dessert in a Mug – aka 1,2,3 cake

1 pkg angel food cake mix

1 pkg any other flavor cake mix (I’ve got chocolate. Lemon is up next)

Instructions:

1. Mix dry cake mixes well (I used a large zipper bag so I can just store it there)

2. In a microwave safe coffee mug (or large ramekin) mix 3 tbsp mix, 2 tbsp water. Stir it well.

3. Microwave for 1 minute on high.

4. Enjoy your dessert in a mug/minute.

The cake will be on the spongy side, I think it has to do w/the nature of the angel food cake. But it’s very moist and quick and easy. And you can eat it w/o feeling guilty. Top it w/chocolate¬†syrup, fruit, or whipped cream if you desire. Enjoy!

Store remaining mix in an airtight container, hence the zipper bag.

 

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Kitchen Sink Quiche

I have a kitchen sink and I’m not afraid to use it! Ok, so, I use my sink every day, but that doesn’t mean I actually eat it! But since my concoction kind of seemed to contain nearly every veggie in my fridge, why not call it what it is, right? I love my veggies! In fact, I have no¬†idea what has happened to me, but as I’ve¬†grown up, and become a grown up, my tastes have changed quite a lot. I love steamed broccoli. Straight. No chaser. Steamed asparagus. A tiny bit of butter. Grilled vegetables, raw vegetables. Red peppers, green peppers, yellow peppers. Even jalapenos on occasion if they’re in something like salsa and have been seeded. Can’t take too much heat.¬†¬†I even like trying new ones that are kind of off the wall. Example: purple carrots. Yep. Seriously. I was at the grocery and saw them, they still had the tops on them and everything. They weren’t big, maybe as big around as my finger and 6-8″ long. Hmmm, ok, what the heck, right? I try to¬†eat the rainbow as often as I can. I was kind of afraid, to be honest. I mean what if they tasted like horseradish? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy horseradish, on roast or prime rib. But to take a big bite of a hunk of horseradish? Um, no. I like my nose just the way it is, thank you very much. I’ll try most things, except beets. And brussels sprouts. And I suppose that makes me a, well, a vegetable-ist. I do discriminate against certain veggies, I’m sorry to say. Don’t hate me for it.

Last week, I found fresh asparagus for $1.29/lb. That is crazy cheap! Ok, now what can I do? I have a few recipes that use asparagus, and we had some steamed recently. Oooh! I know, I’ll make a quiche¬†for hubby. He loves the veggies too, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve made a quiche, so it’ll be a nice treat for us on the weekend. Holy cow! It was incredible! I just kind of threw it together and crossed my fingers. I am convinced it was the crossed fingers that made it the BEST EVER! So next time you make a quiche, don’t forget that step, the crossing of the fingers.

Doesn't look like a kitchen sink, or taste like one either! Yum!

Kitchen Sink Quiche

1 refrigerated pie crust

6 eggs

1/2C 2% milk

1/2 lb fresh asparagus

1/2 medium onion chopped

1/2C Each chopped red, yellow, green pepper

1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained

2 to 3 cloves garlic (or more if you want to)

4 to 6 oz Italian shredded cheese w/seasoning

1 tsp kosher salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat¬†oven to 375. Unroll pie crust in greased 9″ pie plate and set aside.

2. In a skillet, saute peppers, onions & garlic (pressed w/garlic press)  until crisp tender. Set aside & allow to cool.

3. Wash &** trim woody ends off of asparagus. In a large lidded skillet/sauce pan, steam asparagus in 1/2 to 1″ of water, ¬†for 2 to 3 min, or until crisp tender. Remove from heat & allow to cool. Cut into 1″ pieces.

4. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs & milk. Add in cheese, salt, mushrooms, veggies after cooling to the point they’re just warm to the touch. If you put them in and they’re still hot, they’ll start to cook the eggs (you don’t want that).

5. Pour all of this into the prepared pie dish, place in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 min, or until eggs are set in the center. Allow to cool 5 min-ish, slice and serve, and take all the compliments headed your way!

***If you have never trimmed asparagus, it’s really easy and will break off all by itself at the right point. I know you may want to use all of it b/c it’s not cheap, but unless you enjoy eating wood, I recommend doing this prior to steaming. Hold a piece of asparagus, one hand directly on the cut end. Hold in your other hand a few inches up from the cut end and just do a quick snapping motion. The end will snap right off where the woody part ends and the good part starts. You don’t waste any unnecessarily. (I’m a tightwad & I hate wasting good food, so this is great, rather than guessing and using a knife, not knowing if you’re getting all of the hard stuff or chopping some of the good parts.)

If you are using an 8″ pie plate, you could probably cut the number of eggs down. I started with 4 eggs and because of all the veggies I had in it, I added a couple more eggs. I wanted it to be quiche, not just a little bit of egg w/alot of veggies.

Also, if you don’t have red/yellow peppers (b/c they’re normally pretty darn expensive) green would be just fine.

If you shred your own cheese, rather than taking the easy way out like I did, you could just add 1 tsp of Italian seasoning and get the same effect.

Enjoy! YummY!

Gotta go, time to eat! See ya later!

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