Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hobo Stew, October 22, 2016

This afternoon, before we left for Jeannene to get a haircut and to spend our Kohl's cash and pick up a few things at Target, I threw together a slow cooker full of stew for our supper. Paired with some flax bread and pineapple chunks, it made for a very simple and satisfying meal.

Hobo Stew
1 lb. ground beef, browned (can sub turkey, bison, veggie crumbles; I use 93% lean beef)
1/2 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
A couple big handfuls of baby carrots (or about 2 c. diced regular), sliced
3 potatoes, diced
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use the Healthy Request version)
1 can tomato soup (see above)
2/3 c. hot water
Salt & pepper

Coat a slow cooker with cooking spray. Mix everything together in it. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Serves 6. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mellow Mushroom, October 9, 2016

When Jeannene and I lived in Columbus, Ohio, we used to go to The Mellow Mushroom fairly often for pizza and really liked it. I was excited to discover yesterday that there's one in Denver! My cousin's husband, whom we hadn't yet met, is in town for work. I'd planned to take him to Cuba Cuba, the only restaurant in Denver proper we'd been to, but we discovered it's closed Sundays. So, I was scrolling through downtown Denver restaurants and spotted it.

I wasn't sure if Alan would be disappointed we were taking him to a pizza joint, and a chain at that, but he seemed to enjoy his calzone. I had a small half and half with my two favorite varieties, Buffalo chicken and redskin potato. Perfect. I was jealous of Jeanene's soup, a glorious mushroom soup. She complemented that with a chef salad. Elij had fun playing with the piece of dough they brought him. He scarfed down the kids' meatballs & mozzarella and ended up with garlic breath! He wasn't so keen on the broccoli. I think we ruined it for him by asking them to overcook it so that it would be nice and soft. They also sliced the meatballs for us, knowing it was for a baby. Very kind, attentive staff.

Dinner at Gloria's, October 8, 2016

Saturday night, we were invited to dinner at our neighbor's house. She had arrived on our front porch with a loaf of zucchini bread when we first moved in and I was delighted to receive the invite to dinner. She even graciously invited the baby to join us. We met some other neighbors as we walked over to her house and walked in with them. Gloria's house was simply lovely inside, with cool murals and all kinds of wonderful Halloween decorations! There was a murder of paper crows parading up her stairs, perched on the risers, which was my favorite decoration, but there were also witches everywhere! She told us she used to dress up every Halloween as a witch and wave to the kids on the school bus in the morning. Then, she served up both tricks and treats in the evening. What fun!

The evening started in the back yard, with drinks, Fritos, and yummy dip brought by another neighbor. Gloria made baked ziti with bbq meatballs, a big green salad, and excellent garlic toast. Dessert was potluck, with perfectly fudgy brownies, banana cake, pumpkin bread we picked up at the pumpkin patch earlier that day, and peanut butter Nutella cookies I made. It was fun to make those. The idea came from a Six Sisters cookbook and I tinkered with it to make it more chocolatey. I mixed up the dough while the baby played on the kitchen floor. When it had chilled, I put him in my lap so he could see everything while I rolled up little balls of dough and pressed them flat with my fork's tines. I remember being with my grandmommy when she made peanut butter cookies for my granddad, who loved them. I think she was there with us as we made our version---a comforting, cozy thought.

Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
3/4 c. peanut butter (I like the smooth sort for cookies)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter with peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add gradually to the dough, beating between additions. Heat the Nutella for 20-30 seconds in the microwave, then drizzle over the dough. Fold in to create a marbled pattern. Chill 15 minutes, then form into walnut-sized balls. Place on baking sheet & press down with fork tines to create flat cookies with crisscross patterns on top. Bake 8-10 minutes. Makes about 40.

Chopsticks, October 7, 2016

Friday night, neither of us felt like going back out or cooking. It was Jeannene's night to choose dinner and she told me she wouldn't mind if I could find an Asian place that had something with tofu on the menu. Turns out, Chopsticks is a Vietnamese place that delivers. I was thrilled to discover this. Usually, Jeannene is not a huge fan of Asian food, either, so I was excited that she was in the mood for it. We ordered Vietnamese pork egg rolls for an appetizer and they were very good. I couldn't resist the hot & sour soup, either. I was so glad I ordered it---very flavorful and just the right amount of heat. Jeannene opted for the curried tofu noodles and I had Singapore noodles with pork. Elijah tried both kinds of noodles and found them pleasing. He thought the pork was okay, but loved the tofu. I also got a mango boba tea and shared my tapioca with him. Delicious! We'll definitely order from them again!

Sloppy Joes, October 6, 2016

It's become a bit of a tradition of mine to eat sloppy joes for dinner when Jeannene is traveling. She thinks they're just awful and I love them. I have made them from scratch before, but I greatly prefer Manwich. I wonder if that's just because that's what I grew up eating. To go with the sloppy joes, I made a recipe for "school cafeteria" mac & cheese from Jane & Michael Stern. I suspect a lot of people would have loved it, but I have come to the conclusion that I really only like stovetop mac & cheese, and that made my particular way---simple stovetop mac & cheese. I did think it clever to top the mac & cheese with crushed potato chips, rather than breadcrumbs or something like that. I also tossed some green beans with olive oil and roasted them on a baking sheet at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. I then added a couple cloves of minced garlic, along with some salt & pepper, and put them in for another couple minutes. Dessert was a luscious pear.

Gunther Toody's, October 5, 2016

Tuesday night, Elijah and I were on our own, as the wife had to go to Hagerstown for work. I pondered what sounded especially good and what rose to the top of my consciousness was "a good burger." So, I googled something like "best burgers" in our area. Gunther Toody's came up and I thought the name was so unusual that it was worth checking out.

Turns out, it was. It's a fun, diner-style spot, with good burgers (and vegetarian options) and malts. I just had a plain cheeseburger, but I couldn't resist trying the "Elvis" fries---covered with white gravy and cheese. Well, I would skip the Elvising next time, as the white gravy was pretty bland. Sometimes, it has good flavor, but not so much, in this case. I did like my chocolate malt, when it finally arrived---my waitress kept forgetting it. It arrived, as a good malt should, in a small glass with a big metal container with the rest of it inside.

Elijah enjoyed the decorations, especially the vintage Orange Crush ad on the ceiling above us. He thought the mac and cheese was fine, too. What I think he enjoyed the most of all, though, was all the cooing attention from the female waitstaff!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower Soup, October 4, 2016

Last night, we had a delicious roasted cauliflower soup. I'd intended to serve t with rolls, salad, & some kind of fruit. However, Jeannene had picked up some asparagus and some pre-diced butternut squash she hoped I might make. I was delighted to sub those for the salad. I tossed the squash with olive oil, salt, & pepper, then roasted it for half an hour in a preheated 400 degree oven. I broke the asparagus into smaller pieces and cooked it, with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper, on high, covered and stirring often, for a couple minutes. Then, I added a dash of key lime juice because I am out of lemons. I added some bolillo rolls from the grocery's bakery and canned pears.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
A drizzle of olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/4 c. diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. chicken broth (sub veggie broth for vegetarian)
1 1/2 c. half & half (I used fat-free)
1/2 c. milk (I used 1%)
A pinch of tarragon (use fresh, if you can get it & the bagger doesn't forget to put it in your sack)
Shredded cheddar (I used 2%)
Sour cream (I used light)
Chopped scallions
Crumbled bacon or veggie bits 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower with oil, salt, & pepper. Roast, on a baking sheet lined with foil, half an hour. Cook onion until translucent in a soup pot that's been coated with cooking spray (or use a bit of butter or olive oil). Add garlic & cook until fragrant. Reserve a small handful of roasted cauliflower. Add the rest to the pot, along with half the broth and 1/2 c. half and half. Cook 5 minutes, then blend until mostly smooth. I love my immersion blender for this, but if you haven't got one, you can do this (carefully) in a regular blender in two batches. Add the rest of the liquids and heat through. If you have the time & inclination, you can simmer it another half hour. If you're impatient like me, you don't have to do that. Chop the reserved cauliflower and dump into the pot, along with tarragon. Cook another 5 or so minutes. Serve with the cheese, sour cream, scallions, & bacon. Serves 4-6.