Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sloppy Josephine's

Did you ever have a day when you wanted something but you didn't know what it was? You make a mental list and sit there silently going, "no, no, no, no..."

Then it hits you, it is something from your childhood, something you haven't had in a long time and there is something about today, this moment, that brought it back, a fuzzy old synapse.

Sloppy Joe's.

I know what you are thinking no meat- no Joe's. Oh I don't think so!

Not only did I have them but I also had homemade fries and Hawaiian punch.

In real life white bread and I don't see that much of each other. I have tasted too many other wonderful breads to appreciate gluey processed white bread. For this dish though I knew there could be no other so I went to the bakery at my local Safeway and bought a bag of those marshmallow soft dinner rolls. They come 900 to a bag and bring back a million Thanksgiving dinners.

Here is what ya gotta have...

The above mentioned Dinner Rolls, we won't eat all of them, just some of them then we will kindly give them to a neighbor, feed ducks, or make bread pudding that we will also give to our neighbors.

That lovely green bag of Morning Star Grounds.

One beautiful yellow onion all chopped up in itty-bitty pieces.

One can of Sloppy Joe sauce. They still make it, I was shocked but happy.

For the home fries you will need:

A couple really gigantic red potato's.

Olive oil.

Salt and pepper.

Pour about two inches of olive oil into a deep skillet. Remember the rules of frying! No kids, never naked. Get it nice and hot while you are rinsing and slicing the potato's. I don't usually peel but we are having white bread might as well peel them.

When the oil is nice and hot slide some taters in nice and easy, be sure the oil covers them. They should cook until they get nice and golden. This is going to take longer than you think.

In another skillet add olive oil and all those onions. Cook them way down until they are all limp and see through. Then add the grounds until it all starts to brown. When it looks and smells yummy add the sauce. I didn't add all of the sauce because I am not seven anymore and I knew that an adult pallet can only handle so much. I did make it nice and saucy though.

The fries should be about ready so get a some paper towels, newspaper or a paper bag to put the fries on so you can drain off some of that oil. Add a little salt and pepper.

I tore the rolls open and let them sit in under the broiler for just a minute to get them a little toasty then spooned on the filling.

This is one of those dishes kids will love. It is easy and nostalgic. It is also one of those things you might not make often but what a treat.

Hawaiian Punch was one of my most favorite drinks as a kid. If I drank it now I would have a sugar headache for a week.

Here is my version:

I can of frozen concentrate fruit punch. I buy the stuff that is actually made with real fruit juice.
In a large pitcher I add the can of concentrate, sparkling water, slices of orange, lemon, lime and some frozen berries. I throw in hand fulls of crushed ice and viola yummieness!

Just so you don't think I am totally disgusting I did make a nice green salad with a light dressing to relieve a little guilt.

Diet shmiet! Have a Mojito!

I am a woman.

There are many rockin' incredible things about being a girl and I enjoy all of them.

Then there is bathing suit season and I turn into a stereotype.

When I was a spring chicken and needed to put rocks in pocket to keep from falling down on a windy day, life was good. I bought my pants in the kids department, size 14 and half the price.
I didn't wear a bra because I didn't have breasts. I wore shorts while I rode my bike,
my swim suit into the grocery store, and ran like a gazelle.

Well it has been a long time and all that praying to the boob fairy paid off, I could breast feed a small country. I have a woman's body now, very curvy, nice and soft, very maternal. I now buy a ladies size 14 pants, I ride my bike in sweats, if I wore my swimsuit into the grocery store I would be arrested for frightening small children. I would probably give myself a black eye if I ran there are too many parts of me that don't need to bounce.

On most days I like myself. When I am standing in a dressing room trying on a new bathing suit and looking like a raw bagel I have mixed feelings about what has happened to my one tiny body.

I like swimming naked. My neighbors would prefer I did not. The next best thing is a bikini and that is just comical. Every summer I swear that next year I will be fit and trim. I will strut into the department store and snatch the cutest bikini of the rack and pay for it with pride, the envy of every soft-in-the-middle-goldfish cracker-eating-house-wife.

Every year I end up head-hung lurking in the back of the swimsuit department looking for a one piece with a foam shells to hold heavy breasts and a floral skirt to hide cheesy hips. I cry because I just can't get myself to buy one. Instead I buy some board shorts and a t-shirt, tell myself I am still cool.

Not this year my friends. This year I bought a red bikini. Don't give me a weight watchers high-five. I don't have a key chain with my goal weight on it. Instead I took back my power.

Go to the department store, there they are and they have been there forever (and they are still there at the end of summer on the clearance rack) "Large" and "Extra Large" bikini's. They are there for a reason, I don't know what it is but this year I decided it was so that I, a full figured woman could enjoy the freedom of swimming without foam boobs and a skirt.

I bought it with pride and a middle finger to impossible size zero women with D-cup breasts stranding in line (I am sorry but those proportions do not happen in nature).

Now I am laying in my little pool on two yellow duckie pool floaties enjoying a tall mojito and the sun on all my delicious body parts.

Mango Mojito's

The first thing you need is a very tall glass. I like to use beer glasses, not the big heavy mugs but the tall thin Pilsner glasses, they go on forever.

Ice, not ice cubes, little ice from the grocery store.

Mint, not the ice cream but the herb, also found at the grocery store in the produce isle. Hell get the ice cream too it's summer.

Mango Juice, Kerns still makes a mango nectar if you can't find it chilled.

Rum, enough said.

Sparkling water, I use Crystal Guiser lime. If you like it a little sweeter you can use 7-up.

These are easy no stress mojito's so relax and find a pitcher.

No measurements.

The mint can be finely chopped on your cutting board (no crushing too much work, you have a cold pool waiting)

Into the pitcher goes a couple hand fulls of ice, two cans of juice, a handful of mint, as much rum as you like, and fill to the top with the fizzy stuff. Stir.

If you don't like mint as much as I do I would suggest a straw or you will be spitting like a left fielder.

Mojito's are best served in a new red bikini with a big bowl of chips and salsa.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Puta what a nesca ?

Putanesca you know that famous Italian dish with all the great stuff in it. The sauce is so good you can eat it with bread and butter no fork.

I was told by a friend who wasn't necessarily Italian but seemed knowledgeable about Pasta kinda things that Putanesca means "Whore's kitchen" . It is what she would make late at night with what ever was available to her (the whore not my friend). Well there is no one more resourceful than a prostitute, my friend is pretty resourceful too.

I had the opportunity to make my version of this dish a couple afternoons ago when my husband pulled a 1950's "Honey I am home and I brought some guys from work with me" I would have had steam coming out of my ears if it wasn't so comical.

You should have seen these engineers on my front lawn putting together some kind of scope or measurement thing, I don't know what it was but it came in two huge boxes and had to be strapped to the roof of an SUV to deliver after they did all the wrenching and putting together.

There they were three men with missing hair and golf shirts scratching their heads and speaking geekanese. The least I could do was put on an apron and find a frying pan, these boys would need to be fed.

I searched the kitchen and found

Sweet red peppers
Yellow onion
Garlic (real garlic not garlic salt)
A half jar of sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
Grated Parmesan
Basil from the garden
Two big cans of stewed tomatoes from Whole Foods, one was fire roasted (yummy)
Extra long spaghetti from Trader Joe's (kids love it, it's so messy)

I put my biggest pot on filled with water to boil. I don't add salt or oil to my water, never have, not sure why you are suppose to.

In that frying pan I found after I strapped on my apron I heated some olive oil and sauteed the onions and peppers. When they were nice and happy I threw in the sun dried tomatoes and the garlic that I peeled and halved. Then I began squeezing the stewed tomatoes, I love the way it feels.

After the tomatoes were all squished up I added the remainder of the sauce left in the can and let it all simmer under a lid. After it starts looking like sauce I add salt, pepper, a teaspoon of brown sugar and all that chopped up basil (the more the better in my opinion) . If you like it a little spicy you can add some red pepper flakes. Now turn it way down low to keep warm while you make a salad, heat some bread in the oven and drop the pasta into the boiling water.

I keep a loaf of really good bread in the house at all times, gotta have it.

When it is fresh you can use it for dinner, next day toast and jam and the next day or two you can make brushetta. If you have any left and we never do you can make croutons for salad.

I love Grace Baking, Semifreddi, and Fornio, they know how to make bread! They are also local so it is always fresh. Where ever you are in the world there has to be a bakery, if there isn't I don't want to live there. I must have good bread. Farmers markets are good way to find out who your local bakeries are.

I turn the oven to about 350, throw in the whole loaf and let it get nice and crispy. I serve it with real butter and/or a dish of olive oil, balsamic and a little pesto if I have it on hand. If you are feeling super creative try making a bread dip with Olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, fresh chopped tomato and basil and lots of garlic.

The salad was one of my favorites:

Weed salad (spring mix)
Fresh tomato
Feta cheese
Kalamata olives
Pine nuts (if you have time roast them in a pan with a tiny bit of oil)
Grapes (cut in half or you can use craisins)

Beets are an issue with some people but it might be something you want to try again. In the summer I roast my own beets, you just peel off the tough skin cut them in half and throw them in the oven with a little olive oil.

The rest of the year I buy them in the produce section of Trader Joe's. They are whole beets, pretty fresh and are shrink wrapped (much better than the can).

Pine nuts store well, or maybe they don't they do not last long around here but they have a very unusual flavor and are wonderful in salads. They might take some getting use to if you have never had them before but you will be addicted soon enough and finding other dishes to use them in.

The dressing is really easy, Olive oil, white balsamic, salt and pepper. I throw it all in the bowl with the salad and give it a toss.

My favorite thing to do is to pre-mix some sauce with the pasta after it is cooked and drained. It keeps it from sticking together and lets the pasta start absorbing flavor. I pile all this pasta on a platter I got at a garage sale a million years ago, it is so ugly alone but married to some pasta it is the most beautiful dish in the world. Before you bring it to the table and get everyone drooling, oohing and ahhing add more sauce and some Parmesan to the top. If you have some fresh basil you can sprinkle that too.

The grown-up nerds were quite happy with lunch, they were looking for the steak , fried chicken breast, or maybe a meatball I was hiding but there was none. It was a very big lunch and it took very little time to prepare. We ate the left overs for dinner that night.

For desert we had waffle-butter cookies and fresh strawberries.

Bliss, bliss, bliss...

God bless Putas.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cinco de Taco's

I thought I would post about Taco's since we made pupusa and we have that giant bag of corn masa sitting in the pantry.

Many of you who still push your cart down the "red" isle looking for the perfect tri-tip or chicken breast value pack may think that giving up the meat means giving up the taco...(I love the sexual undertones) Not true, we must never walk away from the taco, this is a California dietary staple.

There are many soy based protein products out there, and I personally like almost none of them. I didn't give up meat to eat something made in a factory to look and taste like meat. The exception being Morning Star "Grounds" they are in the green bag, and only the ones in the green bag. I get them at Target. I know that sounds gross but they offer a great price and some grocery stores just don't carry them. I swear I don't usually buy my food in a department store but there it is, it makes me feel like Target likes me.

I have made these taco's for all my carnivore friends and family and until this very moment they did not know they were eating a soy product.

I warned you early on that this blog is not about eating particularly healthy I like taco grease dripping down my arm as much as the next person so let's make some taco's.

Trip to the grocery store or maybe just to the frig...

Corn Tortilla's, can be found in the grocery store in yellow or white, they are cheap and store well. I prefer homemade. they don't take long but if you are not in the mood for an extra step go ahead and buy the ones in the bag. At some point you must make your own, It is fun to do with kids or friends and they taste so much better.

Olive oil, because there will some frying, yes frying, yummy.

Bag O' grounds, found where all the veggie stuff is in the frozen isle. Don't defrost them.

Onions, green, white, yellow, purple, it is up to you, buy what you like, hell by them all.

Cheese, Trader Joe's has a great Mexican blend and the price is muy bien. You can buy any kind of cheese that makes you smile. You can buy it grated and save some time or grate it yourself and risk losing the skin off of your knuckles, your choice.

Lettuce, I buy what my kids call "weed salad" they were appalled to discover dandelion leaves one day and thought calling it a "spring mix" was very misleading. The greener it is the more vitamins it has and the less you have to feel guilty about. You can do ice burg if you must or even romaine.

Tomato's, the fruit of the God's. Bless the tomato it sure makes life a whole lot nicer. You can buy any kind you like but there is nothing more heavenly than a vine ripened tomato.

Salsa, fresh is best but if all you have is a jar of the other stuff that is fine.

Cilantro, sour cream, avocado-these are all optional toppings.

I will start with the tortilla's because I am assuming you took my advice and have decided to make them from scratch. If not then tear open your bag and fry your tortilla's in a skillet with about a half inch of oil. Be careful this is hot stuff, no kids aloud, and never fry naked.

If you do not have a bag of instant masa then you need to pick one up when you are at the grocery store. Most major food chains have it in the Hispanic food isle.

There are directions on the back but it is mostly an add water thing. You squish it up and let it sit while you fire up a skillet and some olive oil.

I roll mine out between two sheets of plastic wrap but you can buy a tortilla tool anywhere that mashes them into perfect circles for you, it make it go a whole lot faster. I owned one once but it is now living where all my missing socks are.

I quick fry mine in olive oil (the tortilla not the socks) maybe a minute on each side you do not want them to get stiff-crispy, they should stay soft. I set them on paper towels or a paper bag after they are cooked. Make a pile of these they will be gobbled up fast I promise.

In another skillet heat some olive oil, chopped onions and the grounds. When they all get nice and brown add some salsa and a a couple squirts of ketchup. I am not sure why I add the ketchup I just do. I think the sugar in the ketchup helps everything brown and adds something tasty to the filling. You don't have to add this if it feels too much like adding potato chips to a casserole but I think you will like it.

You simply add the filling to the soft fried taco shell, more salsa, cheese, lettuce, tomato, maybe more onions, cilantro and sour cream. You can add what you like most.

I set everything out in little bowls and stack the tortilla's on a pretty plate and let everyone assemble as they wish, if you don't like eating with your hands or family style then this is not a dish for you.

I serve taco's alone or with rice and beans, maybe roasted corn on the cob if it is in season.

A corona or a nice big jug of lime-aid is perfect with this meal.

When you are done eating go outside and lay in the hammock for a nice siesta.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My porridge is just right, so she ate it

I am feeling like the little girl in the bear house. This morning I am eating breakfast with two smelly boys, who are burping and making underarm farting noises, one of them is eight the other almost fifty I can not tell them apart...

The upside is oatmeal. Not the kind you pour out of a paper envelope and add hot water to but real oatmeal the kind someones grandmother use to make. It doesn't take much longer to make and you will be surprised how yummy it can be.

The grocery list is small...

Oatmeal, the kind in the cylindrical paper box. You can get the one with Barbara Bush on it or the off brand it really doesn't matter. I would stay away from steel-cut, that is advanced oatmeal making.

Brown Sugar, keep this in your pantry it is a staple for good eating. I store mine in a giant canning jar, I like the way it looks and it stays nice and moist.

Nutmeg, just get a small container of the cheap stuff if you are not a big fan. If you love nutmeg go to Trader Joe's and get whole nutmeg and grate it as you go. This is a spice I love but do not use often so I spend the three bucks on the small shaker in the spice isle at the grocery.

Pecans, this is the queen of nuts for me. I am allergic to walnuts so I use pecans as a substitute. I must have been born in the south in a different life because I love pecans with a passion. You can put them in cookies, muffins, salads, and rice dishes. For oatmeal I buy candied pecans, Emerald sells them in a huge green bag or a plastic tube at the grocery store they are called glazed pecans they are kettle cooked. I am sure they will shorten your life by ten years but it is worth it. Trader Joe's also sells a good size bag of chopped pecans for a really good price.

Vanilla, is another favorite of mine. I once read an Isabelle Allende novel where the woman in the story uses vanilla behind her ears as perfume. I tried it and it is tres sexy. If you are single it will bring the boys like bee's to honey, you will smell like a big sugar cookie and who can resist a sugar cookie? Please, please don't buy imitation vanilla, would you buy imitation socks or imitation toilet paper? Only the real thing will do, anything else is just messy and silly.

Raisins, are optional and it is OK with me if you don't like them, some people just don't.

Bananas, are a plus in oatmeal but not totally necessary if you do not like them, if you do then you are my new best friend. This is a good time to use the squishy-turning-spotty ones.

Milk or cream or soy, your choice. Soy is OK if you can't have milk but what a drag. Milk is OK if you afraid of cream, and good old half and half or heavy whipping cream is for those of us who know how to live.

To make Oatmeal you simply boil some water. You can use the chart on the box if you need to measure. I add brown sugar, vanilla, spices (if you are using glazed pecans leave out the spices) and a pinch of salt to the water. When it starts to get good and hot I add the oats and some chopped bananas. You simply stir, bring to a boil for a few minutes then turn it down low and cover. I think it is done in five minutes because I like my oats that way. I tend to be a little indulgent and sometimes boil half water and half milk to make the oats a little bit creamier.

Now it is time to find a nice big bowl. Fill your bowl half way with oats, top with pecans and raisins (if you like raisins) a little more brown sugar if you like it very sweet, and the heavy cream.

Sit back and prepare to be blissed.

You might want to go for a walk or call your cardiologist after this or you might want to sit in the sun and read the Sunday paper like I am going to do.

Fart sounds, burping, and potty talk magically disappears when I am in oatmeal land.

Food is love.

Saturday, May 3, 2008



Well if that doesn't sound naughty I don't know what does.

I made these for dinner last night. We a table full of wonderful guests who all brought wine and wicked desserts.

My sister Lisa was visiting from Hawaii and brought one of her best friends who is a sex therapist, you know that made for spicy conversation. We had a two midwives, two nurses, a high school teacher, an artists, a genius contractor, an engineer and yes a sex therapist who rocked us.

I decided to make pupusa because it is easy and everyone gets to help. It is one of the easiest things to make and yes it is vegetarian.

Pupusa is a Salvadorian dish, it is a corn masa pocket full of yummy, cheesy filling. I am not sure what is in a traditional pupusa but this is how I do it.

You need to hit the grocery store:

Instant Corn Masa, it is where all the Mexican food is and comes in a big bag, don't worry once you try these you will want to make more and the flour keeps forever.

Cheese, you can pick the cheese you like best but I use a combination of mozzarella and Cotija. I am generally lazy so I get my cheese grated.

Olive oil, you should have gallons of this at home but if you don't it is time to buy it.

Mild Green Chili's, you can be a purist and buy them fresh, roast and peel them or you can be smart and go all the way back to the Mexican food isle and get a couple cans of Ortega green chili's in the can. Get extra they are yummy in scrambled eggs.

Corn, a simple can of corn or you can run over to Trader Joe's and buy some of my favorite corn salsa (the chip isle) this stuff rocks, rocks, rocks.

Salsa, buy your favorite but please, please don't buy the stuff meant for dipping chips into at a super bowl party. Get the fresh kind that is refrigerated.

A head of purple cabbage, don't make that face, you are going to like this I promise.

Onion, green, white, purple, it is up to you.

If you don't have vinegar in your pantry then you are not human. White balsamic is best for this recipe but any vinegar will work.

Salt and pepper.

If you want to serve some sides you can always cook up some rice and heat a can of black beans.
If you have never made rice here is the skinny.

I use brown rice because I am one of those people who like it. This works with white too.

Get two cups of water boiling in a sauce pan.
Add one cup of rice.
Let it get all hot and boily again for about five minutes, pop on the lid, turn the heat down to very low and ignore it until dinner is ready.

OK lets make pupusa... if you are making this with friends who have killed three bottles of wine before dinner don't expect them to be pretty, the friends will be pretty but the pupusa will not.

So put some corn masa in a big mixing bowl and add some water. I don't measure, again because I am lazy, just keep adding water until it becomes a soft dough. Now cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest.

While that is doing it's thing cut your purple cabbage up nice and thin. Purple cabbage is your friend, and it is very pretty.

Put the cabbage in another big bowl and add a little olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and about a teaspoon of sugar. Don't worry about the measurements, dress it a little heavier than a salad.
Toss it, cover it and wash your hands.

I have a granite counter top because my husband loves me and after twelve years he finally got tired of me complaining about our ugly tile counter tops from the 70's. I wet the granite a little and lay down a strip of plastic wrap. This will be were you will roll out your masa. Don't try to flour your counter, use the plastic it less mess, and it is much easier.

This is a lot more fun if you have been drinking and speak really bad Spanish.

Roll two balls of corn masa, they should be bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a baseball. If you have drunk friends expect a lot of sexual innuendo about balls at this point.

Put your balls on the plastic wrap and give them a little pat and mash (more ball jokes here) put another sheet of plastic over your smashed balls and roll them flat and thin with a rolling pin.

They should be as thin as a regular tortilla. Peel the plastic off and on one of the smashed balls add cheese, a little corn, some onion, and green chili. Let everyone make it the way they like.

Carefully place the second smashed ball on top of you little pizza you just made and seal up the sides like a little pie.

The plastic helps you lift and transfer.

In a skillet add olive oil and heat to med-high. The pupusa gets to fry on each side for about ten minutes. Adjust the heat as you go, the dough needs to cook and the filling needs to steam and melt so you don't want it to cook too quickly.

To serve you simply plate the pupusa with the purple cabbage and a little salsa. The combination is heavenly.

We made a pile of these yummy things, had a big green salad, brown rice, and black beans. I served three different salsas: a fire roasted, a pico Di gallo, and a mango salsa.

For desert we had vegan chocolate cake and a huge fruit tart from whole foods.

My sister lit about a million candles and we all squeezed in around the table and ate, talked, laughed and listened to my son sing two beautiful songs.

Thank you Lisa for being here, we wanted more of you. Thank you Sarah for keeping our glasses filled and for making the table so beautiful. Thank you Steve for working so hard to make nights like this happen.


Yes it is possible to say "No" to the meat and still be happy, really happy. I love food, all kinds of food especially sinfully rich food. I eat well, and it isn't all brown rice and tofu.

The last meal and the biggest meal for American's is "Dinner" most of us eat at about six and if we are lucky we get to sit down with friends and family and enjoy some good slow cooking, a glass of wine, really good bread and some good stories about our day.

Hang out here and be my dinner guest, oh and can you pass the butter...