Showing posts with label Cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cheese. Show all posts

Friday, August 17, 2012

38 Power Foods, Week 10 -- Mushrooms -- Mushroom Ragù on Gruyère Toast

Slip some baguette with Gruyère under a broiler.  Saute some mushrooms with garlic, shallots, herbs, broth and wine.  Spoon the mushrooms over the cheese toast.  Dinner is served.
I grew up in a house that revered mushrooms. In any form, but mostly on their own.  Just cooked up in a big cast-iron skillet with some garlic or onions.  Eating them on their own was his favorite, but my Dad also loved them with some rice, eggs, or chicken.  He'd have mushrooms any old way.  As a little kid, I wasn't buying.   It didn't take long, however, for me to jump on his bandwagon.

My first mushroom love was the famous mushroom stuffed with sausage.  That gave way to (Lord) the deep-fried variety with sauce.  All the while, regular old mushrooms slowly began to take part in my kitchen pageant.  One day I saw that I was buying mushrooms pretty much every time I went to the store.  Talking with my oldest son the other day, I woke up and realized he was talking about cooking up a big pot of mushrooms.  Never know what you'll pass on.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bannocks -- A Tribute to Marion Cunningham (Reposted from my Dinner Place blog)

A little apricot preserves...

 I never knew Marion Cunningham personally, but after my Mom, she pretty much taught me to cook and, perhaps more truly, to bake.  She died this last week (July 11, 2012--Read the LA Times obituary here) at the age of 90 after a lifetime of cooking, writing, and testing recipes for her cookbooks (Fanny Farmer, Fanny Farmer Baking Book, The Breakfast Book, etc.) and for her long-lived column in The San Francisco Chronicle.  She encouraged several generations of home cooks to... well, to just go on and cook.  Set the table and eat at home, please and thank you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

38 Power Foods, Week 6 -- Broccoli -- Broccoli Soup with Toasted Brie

When my kids were growing up, they all loved broccoli.  Pretty unusual.   One of them adored spinach and one of them always wanted pickles, but all of them would eat broccoli.   So broccoli it was.  A lot. To this day, when our youngest, Emily, is home from grad school, she asks for Chicken-Broccoli Casserole (a quick Chicken Divan known as "Government Girl Casserole" around the D.C area) and I don't have to look for a recipe.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Afternoon Open House

Hot Spiced Cider with or without Rum (Pum Pum Pum)
    An afternoon open house is the perfect party ...  No main course.  Everyone's gone by dinner time...  And folks show up because  other commitments are for evening.  Few dishes to wash.  Food that's easy to prepare ahead. Your goal:  everything out and ready for guests to help themselves.  Your reward:  To be able to enter your own party! 
Ginger cookies, Chocolate Snowballs, Date bars--Made ahead and frozen

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Homemade Tomato Soup and Fried Cheese on a Snowy Night or How's the Second Week of Advent Goin' for Ya?

The story goes that tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches....  Actually, I don't know that story.  If you do, tell me.  I just can't remember when I didn't eat that comforting, homey classic Saturday noon meal.   My kids grew up eating it, but mama's got a brand new bag.

This time around, I made the tomato soup myself.  No sugar, sweetheart.  Just a drop of honey to counteract the acid in the tomatoes. grilled cheese sandwich.  Not for me.  Dave had one.  Instead, I fried my cheese and gently topped my soup with it.

It was creamy, crunchy and fulfilled all those grilled cheesey longings while I skipped the bread on a cold, cold night with the snow flying across the piano window:


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bacon Caprese or Make Cheese While the Sun Shines

While food trends wax and wane (Remember cupcakes?), I never-ha!-fall into the kitschy traps other foodies do.  I did make gingerbread cupcakes for Super Bowl a couple of years ago, but I would have done that anyway.  And you aren't reading about pork belly here, though I've nothing against it.  But I fall off the wagon a bit about bacon.  While I am definitely NOT a bacon fanatic (and it's on menus in quite odd places), my husband definitely IS.  But he has been a bacon fanatic since Eisenhower was president.
His favorite movie moment is in "Grumpier Old Men,"

Grandpa: What the... what the hell is this?
John: That's lite beer.
Grandpa: Gee, I weigh ninety goddamn pounds, and you bring me this sloppin' foam?
John: Ariel's got me on a diet because the doc said my cholesterol's a little too high.
Grandpa: Well let me tell you something now, Johnny. Last Thursday, I turned 95 years old. And I never exercised a day in my life. Every morning, I wake up, and I smoke a cigarette. And then I eat five strips of bacon. And for lunch, I eat a bacon sandwich. And for a midday snack?
John: Bacon.
Grandpa: Bacon! A whole damn plate! And I usually drink my dinner. Now according to all of them flat-belly experts, I should've took a dirt nap like thirty years ago. But each year comes and goes, and I'm still here. Ha! And they keep dyin'. You know? Sometimes I wonder if God forgot about me. Just goes to show you, huh?
John: What?
Grandpa: Huh?
John: Goes to show you what?
Grandpa: Well it just goes... what the hell are you talkin' about?
John: Well you said you drink beer, you eat bacon and you smoke cigarettes, and you outlive most of the experts.
Grandpa: Yeah?
John: I thought maybe there was a moral.
Grandpa: No, there ain't no moral. I just like that story. That's all. Like that story.
 So last week when I shelled out the big bucks for a pound of Nueske's bacon at the butcher counter at Widmer's for the summer BLTs, I didn't blink.  In fact, I kept cooking that bacon daily to make sure it was all used before any stray pieces went bad.  You know how good your house smells when you cook bacon (Try it when you have a for sale sign out front..)?  Well, my house still smells like that.  The scent is fixed in the rugs and on the dogs, who can't stop walking around with their noses up in the air.  Dave acts the same way.  And if there's a fine layer of fat sprayed all over my stove, he doesn't wipe it up.  "A little bacon grease never hurt anything."

In the middle of that bacon for breakfast, bacon for lunch spree came a trip to the Saturday Farmer's Market in downtown St. Paul.  For all of you who've never been, this is the most beautiful market in the United States.  The food that you can't buy there doesn't need to be bought.

Spring market bounty

Perhaps I exaggerate.  But not by much.  At the market, I gently loved a few more Minnesota tomatoes enough to coax them out of their owner's hands and came home to make cheese for caprese.

(See how on my Dinner Place blog.)  But that bacon called.  And before I knew it, I'd fried up the last of it to tuck in between the caprese layers.  Not only that, I threw the haricots verts in a pot of boiling water for two minutes, drained them and topped them with a dop of herb butter.  (Here's how Ina does this. Why should I reinvent the recipe?)  I couldn't resist making a beautiful salad of the entire thing with the beans in the middle.

I don't see a reason for putting up a recipe for the caprese either; here's one from Just add the bacon!   I will say this about my caprese:  I place the salad on a bed of spinach and I squeeze lemon over all and dust the whole thing liberally with ground sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.  I then drizzle not too much of my balsamic vinaigrette over everything but the green beans, which are already well-seasoned with the herb butter.  Lemon on the beans--yes.  One of my favorites.


Love summer, my friends.

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the 'Hood

The end of August isn't the end of summer, but there are signs.  The flowers look too tired to continue blooming, despite fertilizing and watering.  The road crews appear in a big hurry to get it all done.  There are Christmas decorations out in a few stores.  I'm looking for a guy to plow my driveway.  Acorns are dropping and the squirrels are very squirrely. The big tubs of mums are for sale at Ace.  Our floor refinishing (and installation in the kitchen) is scheduled so that we can do it while windows can remain open.  And, of course, in Minnesota, it's State Fair Week!  (Half a million sticks for food used so far.  And if you don't know what that is, it's anything edible that will stay on a stick.  See what you dream up.)

Neighbor's Victory Garden (from my driveway)

I close today with lovely news!  I am now newly employed as a choir director at Prospect Park United Methodist Church, which is a church just across the line in Minneapolis.  I'm thrilled, excited, and don't have words (right) for how light my heart is.  Watch this space for news of their fine singers and what fun stuff we're up to.   Thanks be to God.  And:  thanks to all who supported me and prayed for my employment.  Cyberhugs as you
Sing a new song,

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Golden Beet Ricotta Salad with Fresh Cherries and Carmelized Shallots or What's in a Name?

Could this have a better name?  How about "Delicious?"
I know.  This sounds like something off a froofroo menu, right?  I couldn't think of another name for it that said what it was. When you're naming a recipe, it must
  • catch the ear
  • catch the eye
  • represent the dish accurately in a thrice (or right away, you might say)
  • not be too long (ha)
  • end up in the right place in the index ( on google)
Of those things, the most important one for me is that you know what you're making just by the name. There's no sense being halfway through making something and saying, "Geez, this is full of walnuts!" with your jaw dropped.  On the other hand, I'm sometimes taken in by coy, cute, or gimmicky recipe titles like
  • Funny Bones
  • Babysitter's Spaghetti Casserole (You can google either of the first two; they're real.)
  • Chocolate Nut Heavens  (This one being my own; I held a contest for the name on fb.)
I mean, think of it.  Sally Lunn Cake.  Anadama Bread.  Brunswick Chicken.  Pagliacci's Cheesecake. And I make those.  How about Anzac Biscuits?  Slippery Soup?

To say nothing of Pasta Puttanesca, Grandma Clark's Soda Bread, Sabayon, Pavlova, Mother's Pie, Ruffled Ham, Oysters Ernie, Rose D's Mushroom Monterey, Hot Toddy, Chatham Artillery Punch, and so on.

Compare those to:
  • Chicken and Potatoes
  • Fried Clams with Tomato Sauce
  • Scallop and Artichoke Soup
  • Cheese Omelet
If you see "Chicken and Potatoes," you know what you're getting.  If you see "Mystery Soup," in the index, it' a mystery.  (Heat, mixing well, 2 cans beef broth and 1 8 oz package cream cheese.  --That's the entire recipe from THE EASTERN JUNIOR LEAGUE COOKBOOK.)

To some of us (who grew up in the mid west, for example)  Quahog Chowder sounds like something out of Star Trek.  We didn't know from clams. We probably weren't picking that name out of the index.

Two friends  this week kindly invited us to a  potluck for a group that typically meets once a month to try a new restaurant.  Somehow, backyards, mosquitoes, and vegetable gardens beckoned an outdoor summer gathering and a homemade potluck was the July event.  Because summer fruit is coming on and I love a reason to fix a big dessert, I brought (more than a) pound cake with sliced fresh peaches and homemade ginger ice cream.  (Ok, come over; I'll make it for you, too.)  The cake, I kid you not, was called "Elvis Presley's Favorite Cake."  Would you have jumped to the conclusion that this was a regular old, if delish and huge, pound cake?

Elvis Presley's Favorite Cake
The recipe's on, and probably in other places as well.  And if your berries are in, get up early and make this baby.  Invite the neighbors; it'll serve 12-14.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grilled Eggplant-Sausage Pasta with Fresh Mozzerella or What to Cook off the Plane

Italian sausage, red peppers, grilled eggplant, onions, garlic...a little fresh mozzerella.  Throw in some pasta and--

Note to readers:  for an updated, totally done on the grill version, please click here
    Coming off a plane, I'm often greeting thoughts like, "Did I leave anything at home that'll work for dinner?"  I usually stop by the store anyway for fresh produce or something to fix quickly.  Yesterday, as I traveled home from Minneapolis, I remembered a couple of eggplants wilting in the crisper.  Odd phrase, eh?  In other words, they needed to be used.  What else?  Italian sausage in the freezer that I had put in at Christmas, but hadn't yet cooked.  Sounded like a grilled pasta sauce night to me.  Mid-winter, I often am jonesing for something grilled.  I have two grill pans:  one is a square Calphalon and the other is a large, rectangular cast-iron grill that is flat on one side and ribbed on the other to siphon grease off the food or to provide the ubiquitous grill marks.

  I did run in for veggies for a chopped salad...bibb lettuce, radicchio, cilantro, parsley, red pepper, tomatoes...  I already had a little blue cheese.

Right now, the eggplant is sliced, salted and dribbling its dew (weeping copiously? bawling like a baby?) into a towel.  I'm about to start the pasta water, heat the grill, and start grilling cut pieces of sausage.  Oh, and a Seghesio Barbera's waiting on the table.  (If you don't know Seghesio, grab one of their zinfandels next time you're in the wine shop and try that with grilled sausage and peppers, pizza or anything grilled.)  The recipe isn't written, but will come together as I cook...and I'll place it below the pics....  Enjoy!

Slice the eggplant thickly, salt and let drain on toweling.

Ah, California wine.

Ah, Italian tomatoes!

Indoor grilling of cut Italian sausage and eggplant

Sauteed red peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes...a little wine didn't hurt.

Cook some pasta.

The sauce comes together with the addition of the grilled eggplant and sausage

Adding the mozzerella and fresh basil to the hot pasta.  Mix this with the sauce and...
Vieni a mangiare! (Come and eat!)

Grilled Eggplant-Sausage Pasta with Fresh Mozzerella serves 6  (8-10 for a first course)

  • 1# pasta such as penne, mostaccioli, tortiglione or rigatoni
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • 1# Italian sausage (sweet or hot), cut into 2" pieces
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-1" pieces (salted and drained on toweling)
  • 1 large onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 red pepper, chopped coarsely
  • 8 oz fresh, whole mushrooms, wiped, trimmed and cut into halves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz can tomatoes (I like Italian-canned tomatoes)  or 4 chopped fresh tomatoes-in summer only
  • 1/4 c red wine or water
  • sprinkle ea of salt, pepper and crushed red pepper
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 pint container of fresh mozzerella
  • 1/2 c fresh chiffonade (julienned) basil (or 2t dried basil); save out a little for garnish
  • 1/2 c Parmesan, grated (opt)
  1. Bring pot of well- salted and peppered water (10 qts) to boil, reduce heat and hold.  (Bring it back to boil soon as you get part-way through making sauce.) I like 1 T dried or fresh basil in my water, too.
  2. Heat oven to 250 F and place oven-safe bowls or plates in to warm.
  3. Heat grill to medium (10 min) and wipe with an oiled paper towel.  Add sausage and eggplant.
  4. Meantime, heat saute pan with rest of oil and add onion, red peppers and mushrooms.  Cook until nearly tender and add garlic.  Saute together for 1-2 minutes and add tomatoes, wine, salt, pepper, red pepper and honey.  Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce heat.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  (More salt and/or honey will cut the acidity of the wine and tomatoes.)
  5. Bring water back to boil and add pasta.  Cook 11-13 minutes or til al dente. Drain and place back in pot.    Add mozzerella and most of the basil, saving some for garnish. Cover and hold.
  6. When sausage and eggplant are done, chop eggplant coarsely and add both to sauce. Simmer 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings again.  Add sauce to the pasta mixture and stir gently, breaking up large hunks of mozzerella.  
  7. Serve in warmed pasta bowls.  Garnish with reserved basil.  Pass Parmesan, if using.
Cook's Note:  If you're making this in the summertime, why not grill all of the ingredients and just use fresh tomatoes (skip wine/water, honey)  for a very light al fresco meal?  You could cook the pasta in the morning before the temperature rises, store it in the frig, and bring it out in time to let it warm to room temp.

      Two-Dog Kitchen or What's Goin' on in the 'Hood:

      Back from Minnesota trip where we almost froze literally; my skin is still peeling.  The day I left Colorado, it was -20 in St. Paul.  We're not talking wind-chill.  I was so glad Dave wasn't coming that day.  A 6 hour delay in our airport first....  Hey, I had a wonderful time reading the NYT cover to cover, getting a good start on a novel, enjoying a long lunch, and--not so fun--listening to my fellow travelers talking on the phone all day.  (There are so many private spots in the airport; why?)

      House hunted for the third time! and this time made an offer on a house:

      The view from what might be my new kitchen window.  Lots of birds!!!

      Still a million? other Americans.  I'm grateful to our president for his positive, healing speech last night. 

      More travel birthdays, inspections on new houses... and so on.
      Sunny and warm here.  Ah, Colorado!

      Happy 80th Birthday to Gene Morgan!

      Here's Dave's Dad, Gene, and his Mom, Lorna, at Emily's college graduation--all smiles.  

      Sing a new song,


      Sunday, January 16, 2011

      Turkey Taco Soup or Sneak Peak at Blue Cheese Biscuits with Steak

      Easy, healthy and truly yummy, as a good friend would say
      I'm sure this could have a better name. 

      Sometimes people ask how I name recipes and my answer is always the same, "It must say what it is." 
      Do I want catchy names?  Yes.
      I just seldom use them.  How about Taco Trouble Soup?  Tonza Turkey Soup? 

      Of course, as a working cook  of sorts, the recipe must also be FINDABLE IN WORD DOCUMENTS.  You could think about that and come up with wonderful storage ideas for people who cook on multiple levels and must maintain articles, recipes, photographs and so on.
      This could be Turkey Chili Soup  or Taco Soup (of which there are many) or Turkey Vegetable Chili--etc., but it's very soupy and it tastes like tacos.  Without the gazillion calories of the tortillas.  Without the cheese (though you could add that at the end, if you'd like.)  And it's quick.
      This hot bowl of fuel fulfills the black bean, onion and tomato portion of my series on meals or dishes including the "12 best foods,"
      1. Broccoli
      2. Black beans
      3. Tomatoes
      4. Salmon
      5. Soy
      6. Sweet potatoes
      7. Oats
      8. Onions
      9. Blueberries
      10. Walnuts
      11. Spinach
      12. Chocolate

        Nearly everyone I talk to about food just wants things fast.  I like everything at Alyce-speed.  I don't like to rush; I don't think it's worth while.  If I don't have time to cook, I always can have an omelet or grab a piece of cheese and an apple.  But, hey, I hear you.  I hear everyone who works,  everyone who has kids, everyone who just wants time to veg and I don't mean eating them in the kitchen.  So, for all my students, friends and family hard-pressed for time, here's something scrumptious that makes a ton (save some little containers for lunch) and can be frozen in batches.  So you can skip cooking next Saturday, too.  See below....  (For more really quick recipes, check out my recipe page --link at right and below--some are labled "Dinner Now!")
      Frozen Soup in the Crock-pot:  Place your container of frozen soup (or stew or casserole) upside down in the sink and turn on the hot water over it for a minute or two.  Dump that container into the crock-pot; add a 1/4 c water to the bottom, cover and turn on low.  Dinner that night is on the way.   You will have a hot and ready meal by late afternoon.  (Make sure you freeze your meals in containers that will easily turn out into your crock-pot.  This is worth buying a couple of extra containers just for this very purpose.)

      Turkey Taco Soup  serves 6-8 generously

      Note:  These ingredients can be changed to suit your tastes or what's in your cupboard.  The ingredient police will not arrive if you change what goes into this soup.  Add corn if you like.  Use no rice at all.  Cut down on seasonings.  Add canned chile peppers or roasted red peppers.   Leave out the zucchini.  Add a bag of mixed frozen veg.   Drop in a little Tabasco sauce or let a big jalapeno cook whole in the pot. Get in there and cook, honey.

      1T olive oil
      3 slices bacon chopped into 1" pieces (optional)
      1 large onion chopped
      1/2 green pepper, chopped
      3 garlic cloves, minced
      1# ground turkey breast
      1t freshly ground black pepper
      2 t kosher salt
      1T ea dried basil and oregano (or 1T Herbes de Provence)
      2-4T chili power  to taste (You can make your own or I like Chili 3000 from Penzey's--Spice Islands is next)
      1/4 t ground cayenne pepper, opt.
      1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes (no salt)
      1 6oz can tomato paste
      2 c salsa
      1 zucchini, chopped into 1/2" pieces
      1 yellow squash, chopped into 1/2" pieces
      1 c red wine or water
      2 c low-sodium chicken broth or water
      1/4 c raw rice or use 1 c cooked rice or cooked small pasta (if cooked, add later)
      1 can no-salt black -or pinto- beans (if you use regular ones, rinse and drain)
      2T Dijon-style mustard (like Grey Poupon)

      Toppings: 2 ripe avocados, chopped; 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped; 2 c shredded lettuce; 1 c grated Cheddar, 1 c crushed tortilla chips-can use any, all or none

      1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and brown the chopped bacon in it.  Remove bacon and reserve to add in a little while.  Add onions, green peppers, garlic and turkey breast.  Cook, stirring often, until turkey breast is done and no pink remains. 
      2. Add seasonings:  salt, pepper, basil, oregano, chili powder, cayenne.  Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring.
      3.  Taste and adjust seasonings; they should be very strong and bright!  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salsa, water/broth/wine and uncooked rice if you're using.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
      4. Let cook about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add zucchini, yellow squash, canned beans, Dijon-style mustard and cooked rice or pasta if you're using that.
      5. Let simmer until all vegetables (and rice if you're cooking it) are tender, about another 10 minutes.  Add reserved bacon and stir.  Taste; adjust seasonings and serve hot with toppings if you choose.
      Around the 'Hood +Two-Dog Kitchen

      Why didn't anyone tell me to read THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE?  I couldn't put it down.  I ran into June at Costco and she, omnivorous she, had read it and seen the movie--which she didn't think anyone would understand if they hadn't read the book.  Often the case, I think.

      We watched "The American" with George Clooney.  Well done, slow-moving, sadly violent and just sad.  How many people are that lonely in our world...and why?

      Maybe you noticed I updated colors and pics on the blog.   Tell me if you liked it the other way better.  Or if you like this. 

      Prayers for my friend L's dad in the final stages of cancer.  Prayers for healing for C.

      Snow:  On the west side of Mesa, you can't walk ecause of the snow.  On the east (and by our house), it's all melted except in odd, shaded spots.  It's 40's and 50's every day.  Spring in the winter is what I call January and February in the Springs.

      Planning a trip ...we are, if I didn't tell you, in the midst of serious move plans.  To somewhere around the Twin Cities.  A several year topic around the house.   It is a huge thing in some ways; we've been in Colorado 15 years nearly.   How I walk away from my loved ones here is more than I can figure out.  To not worship at First Congregational ...ach.   On the other hand, this is our 23rd house and...why not have 24?  To live and cook at sea level has long been a goal for be able to plant a big garden and eat a little off our own land is another...for me to find a job is a biggie.   That just hasn't happened here.
      So, it's time.  There are a few people I'd like to put in my suitcase and you know who you are.

      Drank some Chappellete cab Friday night--a soooo sweet Christmas gift from someone we love.  Ye gods and little fishes, that was a tasty wine.  2006.  Mymymy.   And did it have a steak?  Yes.  Thank you!!

      Going to the Mondavi wine dinner at The Blue Star Tuesday...a great night and someone's birthday, too.  Happy Day.

      I am working on BLUE CHEESE Biscuits w/ Steak.  Sneak Peak: 

      Happy Birthday on Monday to our much loved son, Sean

      Be well in 2011 as you sing a new song,

      Sunday, October 24, 2010

      Pancetta Lentil Soup or Croque, Monsieur

      I love and adore lentil soup.  (Hint:  Don't eat it three days running.)
      When I say this to my sister, she says,

      "OH NO!  I HATE LENTIL SOUP.  Though I once loved it."

      Now how could anyone hate lentil soup?  (Unless they've never eaten it.  I think, in my sister's case, she ate it three days running.  That's how I know.)

      I don't think I ever ate lentil soup as a child.  (I could be wrong.)   My mom, from the south, more than likely made bean soup or pinto bean soup.  I can't remember where I first ate lentil soup.  We lived in Europe during the late '80's...maybe then.  But, I'm guessing it might have been in a restaurant.  Which one?  Your guess is as good as mine.  No matter.  The fact is, I make incredible lentil soup. 

      Ok, most ANYONE makes incredible lentil soup.  And, if you don't?  I'm here to teach you how. 

      The beauty of lentil soup is thus:  Although it appears like a forever-and-a-day-cooked legume soup, lentil is pretty fast.  And if you pour boiling water over the lentils as you begin the soup, it's even faster.  (A hint:  split pea is fast, too.  It's a camping soup, even.)  So if you want food to look like (or taste like) you spent all day long at it, go to the mall til 4.  Rush home, start the soup, and look like a heroine at dinner.  No one needs to know you were trying on high-heeled red leather boots at 3:55pm. 

      And what about the Croque, Monsieur?  I'll tell you how to do that in a flash as well.  Think grilled ham and cheese and you're almost done.   Really, it's Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame (if you put a fried egg on top).. and this my take on these sandwiches; they're very tasty.  There are other more complicated croque monsieurs and madames; you can look them up.  I like the very easy monsieur here.

      It so feels like fall here...  And today the mountains are covered in Moses-like clouds.  While the heat is not on yet, it may be tomorrow.

      below:  Dave enjoying some soup on the deck on October 21, 2010

      Oh, and thank God for The Church at Woodmoor and for Dr. Tom's cat Olive returning home.  Take care of my nephew John.  Amen.  There.  Thanks to all for all the incredible birthday wishes.    Now on to the soup!

      Pancetta Lentil Soup
       10-12 servings

      1# green or brown lentils (I like green)
      3-4 c boiling water
      1-2 oz pancetta (Italian bacon) diced  (or 3 pieces American bacon, diced)*
      6 stalks celery, diced (You can use food processor for all of veggies-in batches-for speed.)
      3 onions, diced
      2 shallots or 1 leed (white part) diced
      4oz mushrooms, chopped
      1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
      1t fresh thyme or 1/2 t dried thyme
      3 qt chicken broth (low-sodium)
      1 c white wine (or water)
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
      1 c  chopped new potatoes
      15 oz can chopped tomatoes
      1 zucchini, chopped
      1 yellow (summer) squash, chopped
      Kosher salt; freshly ground black pepper
      Droplets of Tabasco (or other) hot sauce
      1/2 c Parmesan, grated

      Bring to a boil 3-4 cups of water and pour over lentils in a large bowl.  Set aside.

      In a 10-12 qt. stock pot, saute chopped pancetta  over medium heat until golden.  Add celery, onions, shallots or leeks and mushrooms.  Stir in herbs. Saute until softened, about 10-12 minutes.  Stir often.

      Add broth and wine or water and bring to a boil.  Add lentils, garlic, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and squashes.   Season with 2t salt and 1/2 t pepper and several drops of Tabasco.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to high simmer.  Let cook until vegetables and lentils are tender--about an hour.  (Less at sea level.)  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve in large bowls and pass Parmesan at the table.

      above:  after adding lentils to sauteed veg
      below:  after adding broth and wine, before the simmer 'til it's done

      *For another lentil soup, use chopped ham here or even sliced kielbasa.  I have often used bulk breakfast sausage for a very hearty soup.  If you'd like a veggie or vegan soup, simply saute the veggies in olive oil only, use vegetable broth, and skip the Parmesan cheese.

      Lovely with Croque Monsieur sandwiches.

       Alyce's Quick Croque Monsieur  or Ham and Cheese Grilled French Toast
      serves 4
      2T each, butter and olive oil

      8 slices Italian bread
      2T Dijon-style mustard
      2 eggs
      1T water
      Salt and pepper
      1/2# Black Forest ham (or your favorite ham)
      1/4# Sliced Swiss Cheese (I like Emmanthaler)

      Heat oven to 250 degrees F and place a cookie sheet in oven.

      In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat.

      Meantime, beat eggs and water in  a large, shallow  bowl (a pasta bowl works well).  Season with a good-sized pinch of salt and pepper.  Beat again.

      Spread each piece of bread lightly with Dijon mustard.  With the mustard-covered sides facing inward, layer four slices of bread with ham and top with cheese, dividing the meat and cheese equally amongst the four slices.  Top each with another slice of bread and dip in the beaten egg-water mixture.  Turn sandwich over and wet the other side well with the egg-water mixture.

      Gently place each sandwich in the heated pan.  Cook until the first side is golden brown, 3-4 minutes.  Turn over and cook the other side of both sandwiches until that side is brown. Remove to  cookie sheet in  oven to keep warm and repeat with other two sandwiches.

      Serve with hot lentil soup.

                                                    below:  apples and peanut butter-fall dessert

      Cold weather means nothing when there's food like this.  Lovely with an almost-cold glass of Chardonnay.

      Sing a new song,

      Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the 'Hood

      Alas, alack.  Skippy has been gone a couple of weeks now.  Back "home."  Anecdotal evidence appears to indicate he misses us not...  Oh well.

      Above:   Big-Mouth Gab
      Below:  Grandma Melinda and Katie with baby-to-be due in November

      Meantime, I've promised my physical therapist I'll blog about my fitness.  So, here are a few sentences until later:  I've been in physical therapy for months regaining my upper-body strength, sapped by years of bad conducting practices, tendonitis, and pinched nerves.  Over the last two months, I've begun lifting weights and have addeed other exercises.  This month, I've graduated to a "Y" membership, where I've begun to think of myself as gymrat.  Kind of.   Dave is going, too...when he's home.  While I wouldn't exactly call myself a new woman, I'm certainly not the same being as before.  As I figure out how to talk about it, I'll say more.  I will say that if you spend a half an hour on the treadmill, watching how many calories you burn go up ever so slowly, you're less apt to over-indulge at lunch.