Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday Cooking to Knit/Veg Out By - Super Bowl Sunday - What? You Were Expecting Chili?

Su-PRISE! It's Super Bowl Sunday and I am NOT positing a chili recipe, for ships' sake!

Yes. I know. I am bucking the tides of time that no MAN would ever divert from lol.
But this is easy. I promise.
And it's a casserole.
And it's even low carb.
But it does have one semi-unusual ingredient - Daikon - a mild, white radish.
You see it on sushi, sometimes.
It's also is used in Korean-style kimchi.
Looks like this:


You can sub out white radishes for it, if your green grocer has them.

Here it is:

Zippy Chicken/Baco-Broccoli Bake
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
2 cups raw, diced broccoli tops and stems
1 cup cooked, roughly crumbled bacon
2 cups peeled, cubed, raw daikon or mild white radish
4 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 tsp dry mustard
2 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (or your favorite zippy kind of cheese)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 
Cut radish into ½” cubes, add to the pot.
Boil 20 minutes or until slightly softened. Drain.
To make the cheesy sauce, heat butter in a sauce pan on medium heat until melted. 
Add salt, pepper, mustard and half and half. 
Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, for one minute. Remove from heat. 
Add cheeses. Stir until melted.

In a casserole dish, combine cheesy chicken sauce, radishes, bacon and broccoli. 
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees - 20 minutes or till heated through.

You could probably serve over white rice, or maybe even experiment with adding the rice to the casserole. hmmmm. I haven't tried that yet. Or……. think outside the boxes, maybe try it as a chunky dip??? Experiment! Have fun with it!


Makes 8 servings.





Enjoy the game!
Or at least pretend to, while you are getting in SCADS of Real Official LEGITIMATE knitting time!
YAY!









Have a Good One. :)
And be safe out there - drink responsibly!



Sunday, January 19, 2014

South-of-the-Border Sunday - Mexican Lasagna/Tortilla Casserole: Cooking to Knit/Veg Out By


Arriba, Arrriba! Hola, knitters and veggers!

This Sunday's menu is brought to you by my love of South-of-the-Border food.
Once you see how fast this comes together and how good it tastes, you will be saying "Arriba!", too! By the way, did you know that the word arriba in spanish is a nautical term meaning aloft or on the shore (according to whichever dictionary source you use)? Who knew? :)

This recipe is written to be a lower-fat recipe, but feel free to amp up the protein to the higher-fat version if it pleases you. I love this recipe because it's easy, it's pretty quick to prepare and once it's in the oven, you only need to add a salad to make it a complete meal. Best of all, even kids like this (and it has b-e-a-n-s in it! You could just as easily make a small casserole without beans, if that particular protein won't fly in your household).

Without further ado, I bring you Mexican Lasagna/Tortilla Casserole!


Mexican Lasagna/Tortilla Casserole
Makes 6 servings

1 lb. ground chuck or sirloin
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup red or green pepper, chopped
6 light flour or regular corn tortillas or more to layer with (I use corn because we are a gluten-free family)
1-2 cups salsa (or however much you need to use in layers of the casserole)
6 oz. lower-fat cheddar cheese, grated or mix of monterey jack and cheddar
1/2 cup lower-fat sour cream

450 degree oven

Cook beef and onion.
Stir in beans and peppers.
Grease round 2 qt. or oblong baking dish.
Place 1 tortilla and 2 halves in the bottom (for oblong dish to cover with tortillas).
Layer 3 Tbs. salsa, then 1/3 beef/bean mixture, then 1/3 cheese. Repeat.
Last layer top with remaining tortillas then salsa then sour cream then beef/bean then cheese.

Bake 10 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.
Serves like Lasagna.
Enjoy!

Have a Spicy One.  :)




Monday, December 30, 2013

One Potato, Two Potato or You Can't Stop Me - Cooking to Recover/Knit By ;)



Meant to get this up on the blog for Sunday, but since the family household is experiencing the well-known collective  "holiday family head cold/chest cold/flu/virus"… well, no matter.

I think you will soon agree - this recipe is perfect for New Year's Day breakfast/brunch/lunch/whenever.

This isn't your ordinary breakfast casserole either.
No sir.

This one has potatoes instead of the requisite cubed-bread-soak-overnight wonder.
It might be a little tricky, navigating the short oven prep of the potatoes, if you do try this for New Year's morning, though. lol.

But all in all, I'm pretty sure it's a definite "You Can't Stop Me" kind of recipe, even if you are recovering from too much bubbly!

And, I'm pretty sure you can get in a few knit stitches while you wait for this baby to finish in the oven, New Year's morning or no!

You Can't Stop Me Breakfast Casserole 

  • 1- 20 oz. bag  Simply Potatoes (fresh and ready in dairy case) shredded hash browns or Frozen O'Brien Cubed Potatoes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup butter, melted 
  • 1 lb. sausage, cooked and crumbled (ham or bacon works well too)
  • 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup to 1 and 1/2 cups half n half or heavy cream (I use a milk/cream combo mostly to the larger amount)
  • A few dashes of hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place potatoes in a large bowl. 
Pour melted butter over potatoes and stir until well-combined. This is where you use your judgement on how much butter to use.
Line an ungreased 9x13-inch casserole dish with buttered potatoes, and press to make a crust. 
Bake 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are just crisped and brown on the edges. 
Remove dish from oven and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk eggs, half n half or cream, hot sauce, salt and pepper. I use the larger amount of liquid cause I don't like it to be too "dry."

Sprinkle sausage over potato crust then sprinkle the cheese over sausage to create even layers. Pour egg mixture over ingredients. 

Bake 12-20 minutes or until the eggs are set in the center and the edges are golden and bubbling.

Note: 

A combo of a couple of different cheeses is more interesting than one.
And I sometimes use cayenne pepper instead of hot sauce, to taste. 
Also, I have found that ham diced up or sausage produce the most complex tasting casseroles. Bacon is also good, just a little plainer tasting than the others.
The diced O’Brien potatoes as the base is outstanding!


Last, take two aspirin...






And Have a Delicious One. :)




Saturday, December 21, 2013

I Wash, You Dry



Grab a towel, listen up. Stand close, so you don't miss anything. Exchange brow lifts, head tilts, any manner of secret communication. You are about the enter … the hallowed ground of Making Memories.

Isn't that the way it always is? You go to the holiday gathering, sometimes family, sometimes not.
And somehow you end up in the kitchen helping, prepping, clearing, washing, drying… you name it…
But what you're really doing is what my knitterly friends Paula and Mary like to call, "Making Memories."

Sometimes, it's in a difficult year, fraught with stress or sadness, of lives passed on, and pieces to pick up.

But more often than not, it's a pretty good year after all, you collectively decide.

A year to discuss and dissect, gossip and gab, with nearest and dearest, while you take a turn at the dish cloth. And not to exclude, but the same thing I think happens to the guy clan, when they are out wrestling trees, lights, crowds, lists, grocery carts and remote controls. It may not be as animated or as talkative, (after all, just a few words among guys tell a tale) but they also -- in their back-slapping, towel-snapping, Double-Dog-Dare-You-To ways -- are Making Memories.

It's the comings and goings, the doings and undoings.

It's the time the tree didn't fit in the door.
It's the time the tree fit in the door, but dropped all its needles.

It's the time you went caroling with the neighbors, singing highly off-key while someone carried the boom box (ok I might be dating myself right there) screaming Bruce Springsteen's Santa Claus is Coming to Town… but it didn't matter that it was colder than a you-know-what, cause you were having a blast and making the grandpas and grandmas in the neighborhood smile.

Or it's the time you spent in the emergency room on the holiday dealing with: a) a twisted ankle b)kidney stones c) genuine, stitch-needing kitchen mishaps d) fill in your own blank.

More likely, you remember how an ornament looked hanging from a branch,  or the sheer joy on the face of a kid who just got what they always thought they wanted. Or maybe it was that first kiss under the mistletoe, I don't know.

What's important is to hold that memory close to your heart.
Not just at the holidays, but on the day you missed the promotion.
Or the day you found out you got the house, the girl, the guy, the bid, the job.
The day that you thought would never end, or the day that seemed to be over in an eye blink.

Use it as a measuring stick, a gold standard to what's important to your heart, your mind, your spirit.

Is it an "Omg, did you just see what so-and-so did" kind of moment?

Or is it just a time in your life when things aren't looking up, the rent is due and was that just your Ex-Factor (as my friend E and I like to call them) standing at the perfume counter buying a bauble for his Present Factor?

Some moments are meant for the pure joy of it all, a time when you think back and remember, "Yeah, that actually did happen to me and it was the coolest thing" or that made you laugh so hard you spewed coffee through your nose, or that you had to remove yourself so as to not interrupt the most somber of occasions. :)

Other moments seem to be bent on "purifying" us, hot fires of emotion, tempering us like gold, into being better human beings.

What's important here, I have found, is to pay attention.
Look for the good.
The lovely.
The innocent.
The pure at heart.
The clean of intention.
The God Wink.

Or.
The absurdly funny.
The wickedly silly.
The moment of splash-down, where all is revealed… and sometimes in a not so graceful way lol.

Every moment holds possibility.
Every moment holds change.
Every moment holds peace.
Even laughter.

You only have to choose the moment.
The moments.

And when you do, say to yourself, like I do, "Look, Mary! Paula! We're Making Memories!"
And promise me this.

Hold them deep in your heart for that rainy day, when you will need one special moment to make that day shine.





Have a Memorable One. :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cooking Sundays: Cooking to Knit/Decorate the Tree By - Mama Mia That's a Spicy Chicken Parm Sammy!



It's that time of year again, yes indeedy!
Turkey's out of the way, Christmas wish lists drawn up, the tree lights a'tangle on the wood floor, and only 17 days till Santa slip slides his sleigh this way.

This Sunday's cooking lesson is less a slow cooker/all-day-maker kind of recipe, but more of a prep it quick, make it quick, but take the time to savor this hearty sandwich fare - something every member of the family can enjoy, on the most hurried of schedules.

This little gem came to me by way of a great little cooking website - Simply Gluten Free (if you don't know by now, I have to eat gluten-free fare). I have written it with non GFers in mind!

We like our marinara sauce spicy, so sub out to milder versions if that's your fancy.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

4 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup prepared marinara sauce
2/3 cup bread crumbs
2 pounds ground chicken
6 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 small white or yellow onions, minced or grated
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese (about ¼ inch think)
2 cup baby arugula or use lettuce leaves
8 Buns
Directions
Heat the marinara sauce and keep warm.
To make the burgers: Combine the 2/3 cup parmesan with the breadcrumbs and place on a plate.
Combine the chicken with the garlic, onion, 2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the oregano. Divide into 8 equal sized patties. Coat the burger patties with the breadcrumb/cheese mixture, pressing the crumbs lightly into the burger.
Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Fry the burgers in the hot oil until browned and crispy on the bottom. Flip, top with the mozzarella cheese slices, cover the pan and cook until the bottom is crispy, the burger cooked through and the cheese melted.
Place a good handful of arugula or lettuce on the bottom half, top with a chicken burger, spoon on some sauce and place the top of the bun on top. Serve immediately with a salad and some chips.
Servings: 8
Have a Spicy One. :)
reflagged from http://www.onekindesign.com/2013/07/03/37-ultra-fabulous-attic-room-design-inspirations/


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cooking Sundays: Cooking to Knit By... Why Yes It Does Seem Chili to Me




After an awesome, awesome week away from home, it's back to the old grindstone.
(kinda sad face here.)

However.
Since I did visit a few yarn stores in my travels, why I could in fact sit and knit while the washer is rolling along...
Which leads me to ---

COOKING SUNDAY!
Yay!

The leaves are half fallen (sad), the chill is on the pumpkin (brr) and there's football on the telly (what! how did that get in there).
O-kay.
Well then, Hallmark Channel is firing up its christmas movie lineup. (Don't let them kid you... B actresses/ actors don't fade away, they move to the Hallmark Channel. Sorry couldn't resist. )

What does this all mean you say?
It means ---

Easy Turkey Chili!
And no, they will never miss the red meat in this dish. Promise. :)

Here. You. Go.

Easy Turkey Chili
Prep time - 15 mins.
Ready time - an hour or so
8 servings, but double this because you are going to need to

Ingredients
2 tsp. of olive oil or butter or I like a combo
1 pound or pkg. of ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
2 good spoon scoops of minced garlic (ok 2 Tbs. for you scaredy cats)
2 cups water + a bit more if it gets a little thick in the cooking process
1 large or (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 large or (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz.) can canned kidney beans, lightly drained (sometimes I add a mix of light/dark or maybe pinto or you get the idea)
2 Tbs. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
anywhere from 1/8 tsp. to 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper (this is where a lot of the "heat" comes from in this recipe, believe it or not... tread carefully! Add to taste!)

To add to individual serving dishes - optional
a slice of provolone cheese in the bowl (or am. cheese slices work well, too, very creamy)
a small handful of tortilla chips hand crushed into the bowl
or a slice of cornbread of your choice on the side instead of the chips

Directions:
1.Heat the oil/butter in a large pot over medium heat.
Add turkey and cook until lightly browned, breaking up into chunks.
Add onions and garlic and continue cooking until tender.

2. Pour in water, stir in tomatoes, beans, spices.
Bring to a boil.
Turn to low, cover, and simmer 30 or more minutes (until the diced tomatoes soften and meld into the soup a little).

To serve:
Put a slice of cheese in the soup bowl, add broken up tortilla chips and pour soup over.
Serve and enjoy!

You can also make a vegetarian version adding some sweet red pepper slices and mushrooms instead of the meat and using just the olive oil no butter. Anyway, you get the picture, just experiment to make it vegetarian-friendly.

Note:
I automatically double the batch to make some for lunches/leftovers and to freeze.
And PS, if I posted a turkey chili recipe before, this is a variation. But, whatevah. Experiment and enjoy!
Desert Vista Dyeworks
Peppermint Hot Chocolate colorway
Vintage style stitch marker
- MooncusserBags on Etsy


The knitting I'm going to cook by today?
I have two choices.
Finish my Maine Retreat socks?
Or.
Start the mallory cowl with my newly acquired Quince & Co. yarn in the gingerbread color way?
Decisions, decisions....













Have a Spicy One. :)





Saturday, November 16, 2013

BKFF


Remember that best friend in grade school?
The one who sat beside you in class?
Who tossed you notes when the teacher wasn't looking, saved the best swing for you, had your back with the playground "biotches" standing by the monkey bars at recess?
Who you talked to endlessly on the phone at night... even plotted what outfits you two were going to wear the first day of school?

Fast forward 30 or so years....
Do you still have one?

Well BFFs are alive and kicking... and knitting at a fall fiber retreat in Maine this weekend.

I only bring this up because... well, it's too great of a story not to.
And it because continues to point out how great people of New England (and beyond for that matter) really are.
And because best friends can be had at any age.
No, you are not too "old" to have a "bestie". :)


This last week I attended a knitting retreat hosted by Paula of the Knitting Pipeline video podcast. If you haven't tried your hand at listening or viewing podcasts - give it a whirl, you will not be disappointed. (they are on all subjects and hobbies - the choice is endless)

Anyway, since you already know I'm crazy over yarn and fiber since forever, it will not surprise you that I would drop everything to attend a short retreat in the heart of interior Maine - specifically at the Notre Dame Spiritual Retreat Center, Alfred Maine.

And while yarn and knitting was number one on the list of things to do while there, meeting and finding new friendships came in as close second.

Over the course of four days, one of my best friends - Erin from Boston - and I first wended our way over hill and dale, turnpike and country road and then immersed ourselves in the upper new england wooly retreat together... meeting people we had never met before to initially do the one thing we all had in common - use sticks and string to make things lol.

In a word or two, we had a ball! But more importantly, we made new friendships I don't believe we would have ever made out "in the real world" so quickly or so permanently.

There was Grace from Canada.
Grace with "hunky J" in the background ;)
Effervescent personality, kind and open heart, ridiculously creative ideas, projects and end results that would put a Disney exec to shame, I tell you.
Funny to the point of depends moments, deep to the point of endlessness and the kind of person you are sure if there is reincarnation has been a long lost relative in a previous lifetime. :)

And then spinner Jan from Pa. Calm enough to run a platoon (former armed services leader) of soldiers in work or knitters on a mission to save the world (using a pattern whose purchasing power could help fund reducing/eliminating chemotherapy in the future).

Mel and Erin
(Erin's photo)
Or how about Mel who's compassionate and open essence, funny and refreshing take on life could meld a heart into gold just by standing beside her.
Paula as sea nymph ;)
photo by Erin

And then fearless leader Paula (who plays bagpipe nobody's business!). A slip of a woman strong enough to whip a group of 40+ knitters into a cohesive circle of friends, funny enough to lift the even the most momentarily lonely spirit from being away from home, and creative enough to dazzle with her ingenious designs and instruction.

But best of all, I could finally spend time with my newest bestie, my BKFF Erin (Best Knitting Friend Forevah).
Saco River Dyehouse

We talked, we shared, we knitted, we kvetched, we problem solved with abandon! We shopped, we toured a yarn dyehouse , we sauntered, we reflected, we discussed, we laughed until we cried and we forged a bond of limitless proportions.

And on the last day, when I embraced the beginnings of a cold, she took on added care and concern effortlessly and with love and kindness.
Yes, the knitting was important... although for the life of me, I could barely get my sock project done over the noise of happiness and chatter. :)
my sock project
stitch marker by MooncusserBags
on Etsy

Saco River Dyehouse
Friends come in all shapes, sizes and ages, from every road of life and from every corner of the world. Whether we choose to keep and cherish these connections or let them fly up and into the winds of life is up to us.
carded sheep wool

You can always tell when two people are becoming best friends - they are usually having waaay more fun than they should be.











The whole retreat was kinda like that. :)




Have a Good One by going out and making a new friend (even if it's just at the local Starbucks).   :)






























Monday, July 8, 2013

The One Where I Stopped Blogging For "Awhile"...


I didn't really want to not blog, but, well, you know, stuff happens.

And because it's been so long since I last blogged, I thought, well, you know, I owed  A) you  B) someone and/or C) anyone An Explanation.

But when it comes right down to it, I didn't really feel the need to explain because A) everyone's too durn busy to care and B) see "A." :)

So. To satisfy my formerly "always-feeling-like-a-guilty-school-girl-self," the following is a brief gallery of what the heck I was doing instead of blogging.

And if you don't care, skip the "Montage of Shame" and stop gawking, keep moving along and I will meet you right back here when I finish my next post.

Have a non-procrastinating Good One. :)

Winter Storm Prep




















Winter Knitting Retreat













Mobius Basket
Yarn Tasting Night
Blanket for Jack























On the Way - Bodhi Path Meditation


Dinner with Mom

Baby Jack Born
Someone's a Big Sis lol



House cleaning while watching Bombing Coverage
Road Trip to Visit Jack




Mini Vacation at Winetu 

















MoonCusserBags Prototype



My Etsy Shop Opening!





Meditation/Zen Garden in Progress



Summer Season Begins!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Woah. Wicked Stawm Comin'.

Yup.
Feeling like a sitting duck in the shooting gallery of a two-bit carnival about now.

But if there's one thing you learn about living in New England, it's just that. There's always a "wicked stawm comin'" on a regular basis winter, summer, spring or fall if it involves two words that strike dread in the heart of every New Englander: N'or and East'r.

Nemo from Space - NASA

It's still pretty early in evening, but already the three main towns of the island have lost power briefly - translation for landlubbers? Ruh-roh. Main island power link to the Cape. :(

The wind is sending up walls of sound and fury that ebb and flow like the astronomical tides predicted along with the snow. Temperatures have dropped, setting the stage for a seriously uneasy cold winter's nap. 

Mass. Governor Patrick has just prohibited all traffic on ANY ROAD IN MASSACHUSETTS. 

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

But, like good New Englanders, we are ready. :)

Scallop boat out of water and tarped? Check.
Storm shopping done? Check.
Cars gassed and parked front headed out first? Check.
Cell phones, iPads, computers and storm radios charged? Check.
Ice scrapers, ice melt, snow shovels, snow plow service on speed-dial? Check.
Bottled water? Check.
Candles and batteries? Check.
Really good storm food prepped, but the junkiest of junk food in the pantry also? Check.
Snowfall predictions for MVY airport and BOS airport picked for the snow pool - winner gets a home-baked apple pie? Double-check!

Stop & Shop stayed open till midnight last night to accommodate shoppers. Regular store closing 9 pm. Gas station attendants pumped gas cheerfully despite the frigid temps (no self-serve here!). Customers waited patiently on queue to stock up on scripts at the local pharmacy. Not a single raised voice was heard on our full day of storm prep.

And because this is an island with limited roadage, whether the storm be large or small, clean-up is about the same. Sure, it might take a little longer to get the roads cleared initially, but once clear it's business as usual on the island. It will take days for the Mainland to get to any form of "normal" after such a large and severe weather occurrence.

Yankee ingenuity at its best, people.... ok maybe hooking up your L.E.D. christmas "twinkle" lights to a the computer back-up battery for lights inside the house might be a stretch lol.

But for now we're hunkered down, getting the latest in wind reports (gusts to 78mph, sustained 57mph) and awaiting the blizzard to come (last report full blizzard conditions raging in Connecticut)...

Crossing fingers and toes. 


Have a Warm One. :)