Archive for the 'Food' Category

Cass in the Kitchen: Easy-Peasy Seafood Delight

:kitchen: I have a recipe for you today. I made it the other night, and it was so good! It was also quick to put together, and fairly light, which is a great thing for summer cooking, don’t you think?
When I made this, I really thought I was going to end up with shrimp lo-mein, and I suppose you could get that if you used oriental noodles, but the lime flavor really lightened the taste, and gave it an almost Mexican flavor. I’m not sure this really qualifies as a recipe, it’s so easy. But then most of the stuff I cook is pretty easy, and none of us are needing to lose weight.

Let’s have a note about the seafood: I used shrimp and scallops, because that is what I had on hand, but you could really cut the cost of this meal by using imitation crab meat for part of the seafood.

Seafood Delight

2 packs of shrimp-lime ramen
one bag of Asian vegetables
1 pound of seafood

Cook the seafood in a bit of bacon grease, just a tablespoon or so. Once you have that going, cook the ramen, and start the veggies steaming in the microwave. Spoon them all into a large bowl once they are done, then mix the seasoning packets in to the juices left in the seafood pan. Mix it all together and serve. Contains 224 calories and 3.16 grams of saturated fat per cup.

Did I mention easy? But the presentation makes up for it!!

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Cass in the Kitchen: Outstanding in the Field by Jim Denevan

:kitchen: Have you heard of the Eat Local Challenge? Well, Outstanding in the Field is the cook’s guide to how to do just that, plus. Jim Denevan drives across the country each summer, setting up outdoor dinners right in the fields where food is grown. He prepares and serves it with the help of his staff, and most of it comes from wherever they are. How cool is that?

The cookbook has got you covered from appetizers to dessert, and there are several menus listed in the back. Interspersed with the recipes are stories from places he’s been and meals he’s served. The recipes range from fairly standard fare such as cider braised pork shoulder to more exotic stuff—did you know you can eat stinging nettles?

9780307381996The pictures alone are enough to make my mouth water, and are also the source of my one complaint. There are several that appear without a recipe beside them, and I can’t figure out what they are. I’m a very visual cook, usually deciding from the picture rather than the ingredients if I want to cook something, and of course, those are the recipes I want to try. Guess I’ll be reading the recipes this time, since it’s mentioned in the info if the picture is elsewhere in the book.

Of particular interest to me is the recipe for Green Tomato Marmalade. I have long loved fried green tomatoes, and one year my mom and I made green tomato jelly (you flavor it with jell-o of all things). The children wouldn’t eat it because I made the mistake of telling them what it was, but this recipe is loud and proud with green tomato pride, and it looks mighty tasty, too. I may have to make some to serve with salmon or pork roast.

There is a website that you can check to see if Jim and his team are headed to your area. They’ll be near me this fall, but the event is already sold out. And also, a blog, where you can read about dinners and see pictures.

Cass in the Kitchen: Chocolate Epiphany

:kitchen: Hey ya’ll! I’m still slogging through that book back log. Seven and a half inches to go! It seemed appropriate though, since the next book up dealt with food, to go ahead and relaunch the weekly Cass in the Kitchen segment. I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy my foodie self, and I missed dishing about dishes! Today’s book, though….it’s something else.

If diet is a four letter word, then this book could embarrass a sailor. I felt my arteries clogging just looking at it. I have to be right up front, and tell you that having been told to watch my cholesterol, I only allow myself 20 grams of saturated fat per day. Now, I can bank those grams, if I don’t use them all, and I do that quite regularly. You may remember that my family eats hot dogs every Saturday, and so I bank for that day and other grand occasions ;). And now, I bank grams of saturated fat for this:


You would, too. Right? Right.

I tell you, I could just cry! See, I think baking isn’t baking without real butter and real cream and real eggs. I like my cool whip now, but nothing substitutes for real cream. Nothing. I know there are recipes out there that employ less-than-full-fat-and-flavor dairy substitutions, but they are just that–substitutions. And I know butter is outrageous spendy, but when it comes to a perfection of cookie texture, butter flavor shortening doesn’t even compare.

The recipes here run the gamut from Chocolate Rice Crispies (surprise, not made with chocolate cereal as I had always imagined) to Chocolate Marshmallows to Chocolate Pecan Tart to the 18 layer (I counted in the picture, ya’ll) Gateau de Crepes with Green Tea Cream. But if I could make any one thing in this book tonight, it would be the Trio of Chocolate Mousse Cake. It’s umm, three different mousses frozen in layers, and ya’ll……….I love me some mousse. Made with cream. And eggs. And chocolate. I’m thinking I may need to forgo the hot dogs for a couple of weeks and cash in those grams for some of this.

In the back of the book are some great tips like how to brown butter and a simple sugar syrup (useful for iced tea and coffee as well as desserts) and how to temper chocolate (that’s what makes it shiny and gorgeous.

You know what? Ya’ll get ready and come on over. I can start that Mousse Cake, and when you get here, we can all have just a few bites, and my mouth and my arteries will both be happy. AND, I won’t have to wait so long to taste it!

Cass in the Kitchen: When quick counts

:kitchen: I think we all know that nothing beats the taste of home cooked food. It’s just better if your hands have been in it. You know I am right! You may be giggling, but you are also nodding in agreement; I can practically see you! However, sometimes, it just doesn’t work that way. You are rushed, you are tired, or something you want to do comes up, and there you are, needing a quick dinner fix. So today, I thought I would critique some frozen foods for you, and let you know which are picks and which are pans.


Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese. Seriously cheesy, seriously good. Serve with salad and you are done. Unless your husband is like mine and demands MEAT. In that case, serve it with leftover something or other.

Stouffer’s Vegetable Lasagna. This one is so satisfying that you can skip the meat.

Stouffer’s Chicken Parmigiana. Not as good as mine, but a fairly decent second. Add a veggie.

Stouffer’s Three Cheese Ravioli with Meat Sauce. Yumm! Rich and cheesy and just about perfect.

Gourmet Dining
‘s Seafood Medley. I don’t usually care for frozen seafood, but I can tolerate this one and ask for seconds. The fam loves it.

Gourmet Dining’s Shrimp Linguini. This one is good, too, but I prefer the Medley.

Bird’s Eye Viola Shrimp Scampi is good, but it is not as rich and decadent as mine. Of course, it costs about a quarter of what I pay for ingredients for mine, too.

Bird’s Eye Viola Garlic chicken is good, too, and it has plenty of garlic for most folks, but a little extra is good, too.


Stouffer’s Chicken Enchiladas with Cheese Sauce & Rice. Something just went wrong here. We’ve tried it a couple of times, but the texture of the tortillas is just …. not right, ya’ll.

Hello Food Pyramid

So, I was looking at my family the other day, as they were eating, (Haha, nine people live here, so someone is ALWAYS eating.) and I really started thinking about what I feed them. I am back to using the food pyramid for myself, because I just feel so much better when I eat that way. It’s plenty of food and I don’t end up feeling bloated, and I have energy– stamina– the ability to keep on going like the energizer bunny. And yet, I let my family eat however, whatever. Yeah, cause I am smart, and I thought it would seem like deprivation to them if I “made” them eat a little healthier.

So, anyway, I talked to dh, and we decided it would really benefit the whole family to have a healthier diet. It will be better for our hearts and lungs, our immune systems, and hopefully our tempers and ability to concentrate. But that health thing is a biggie. Do you know that sudden cardiac arrest kills 900 people per day? That’s just crazy, because it’s mostly preventable through diet! St. Jude’s has put together a website that explains abnormal heart rhythm and there are a couple of videos as well. Sudden Cardiac Arrest and The Human Heart (hey, that second one would be great for science for the younger kids– we may watch that on Tuesday).

Oh, I don’t think the kids will be suffering too much. We’re camping this weekend (yeah, and I am in here on the computer, because…………I am silly, that is why), and we’ll be having hotdogs for lunch. Ha, nothing new there, we eat hotdogs every Saturday. This week, though, they are coming with a little surprise–instead of 2 hotdogs, we’ll have one hotdog and some carrot sticks. Because, do you know how much protein we need a day? Six ounces. Do you know how much we were eating? Twice that. Easily. I love these guys, I want them to live long, healthy lives, and enjoy eating every day of those long healthy lives. That means I need to teach them about good food choices NOW.

Cass in the Kitchen: Slow Cooked Apple Pork Roast

:kitchen: Quite some time ago, like several years, I followed a delightful recipe for cider braised pork loin. I only made it the one time, but it was so good! I served it for a holiday meal, and it was so tasty, and so pretty! Yes, I said pretty–that recipe included yams, prunes and apples in addition to the cider. It was impressive. And also very spendy. I kept meaning to make it again, but never did convince myself to buy all that fruit again just to make a roast. And yet, I could not get it out of my mind! With that in mind, I created this recipe not too long ago, and it is indeed very tasty, but also pretty simple.

Slow Cooked Apple Pork Roast

1 Fresh Picnic Shoulder (this is ham before it becomes ham, ya’ll)
4-6 Apples

IMG 0858First, cut your apples into quarters and put them in the bottom of your crockpot. You need just enough to make a nice layer in the bottom. Go ahead and take the cores out if you’d like, but the apples will be discarded at the end of the cooking.

IMG 0861Now a fresh picnic has a fat side and a side without a layer of fat. Go ahead and sprinkle the unfat side with spices, and then flip the meat over so the fat side is up. Slice as close to the meat as possible and make a flap of that fat layer, but don’t cut it all the way off. Your knife will need to be quite sharp for this, otherwise, you’ll be hacking at it for quite a awhile. IMG 0863 Fold that fat back, and season this side of the roast. Then fold the fat back in place over the roast, put the lid on the crockpot and turn it on. The fat will keep the meat basted for you. I hope you are going somewhere, because in a couple of hours that roast is going to be smelling pretty good, and you will want to be lifting the lid to look at it. Don’t do that :) Just let it cook for several hours, you know the drill.

IMG 0865Now, it’s not going to look so pleasant when you get ready to take it out of the pan, so I though I better prepare you. The fat renders and the apples juice and here’s what it looks like when it’s ready. That meat is so tender and flavorful, though. Just trust me. You will be having to take it out in chunks, because the roast just falls apart! Discard that top fat and the apples, and serve it up. Here’s what it looks like on the platter.

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Grilled Asparagus? and a Grilling GiveAway

Bobby Flay  s Grill ItYes, among other things! Remember I said we were camping this weekend? That means constant grilling, so when I got a chance to check out Bobby Flay’s Grill It!, I leapt at it. I truly was not disappointed. Beginning with a discussion of the type of grills, and ending with recipes organized by main ingredient, this book rocks!

Now, I had a pretty good idea of what we’d be cooking while we camped before I opened the book. Did I change a few things? Sure! But I also plan to just adapt some of the things we were already having. For instance, I had planned on steak and baked potatoes. We’ll still have the steak, except I also plan to serve it with Balsamic-Rosemary Butter. And asparagus 😉

And the chicken? Well, that’s likely to become Chipotle-Honey Glazed wings, except I’ll need to use green chiles so the kids can take the heat.

And fruit! Not for camping, mind you, but just in general. It never occurred to me to grill fruit, but somehow those peaches with the grate lines on it just looked so … right, somehow. And the Grilled Banana and Nutella Panini? That’s breakfast right there, ya’ll. And Mushroom tacos? I didn’t think so either, but after reading the recipe, I’m thinking a different think. And 9, count them, N-I-N-E ways to grill salmon. And shrimp.

And then, there is the chapter on eggplant and squashes, which happen to be some of my favorite foods. And then there are the fish recipes. Have I said “and” enough? Can you totally tell I reviewed this book as I read it? Well, I have two more ands to go:

And I am getting me a gas grill as soon as I possibly can.

And I think I need to give a copy of this book away. We haven’t done that in a while, and I think the time has come. Here’s how to enter:

The contest will start when I hit publish, and will run through midnight June 1st. I’ll announce the winner via random number on Monday June 2nd. You can get an entry by commenting on this post. You can get another entry by “stumbling” this post. (You can use the button right under the post (or your toolbar) to do that.) You can get two more entries by writing about this give away on your own blog with a link back to this post. And let’s throw in an experimental entry method: if you are a member of a crafty or cooking type forum, and you post about this giveaway with a link back, you’ll get another entry. You’ll need to come back and let me know you’ve done that by leaving a link to your forum post in the comments.

If you have never commented on this blog before, then your comment will be moderated. I’ll approve it as soon as I get back to the keyboard :)

I think that’s enough fine print, let’s get started!

P.S. Thanks, Bobby for the tip on how to boil eggs on the grill.

Cass in the Kitchen: Chicken Parmigiana

:kitchen: Today’s recipe is sooooooo simple. But my family just loves it! You can get a lot fancier than this, but you really won’t get much tastier, unless you make it like I used to. I used to dip the chicken in seasoned flour and fry it, back in the day. You know, that long ago day when I smoked away all the fat and calories I ate. Now I count those calories instead, so I have made some adaptations. And, oh by the way, I am almost back down to the weight on my driver’s license, ya’ll.

Chicken Parmigiana a la Cass

Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Sliced Provolone Cheese
Spaghetti sauce
Spaghetti noodles
Italian seasoning

Instead of frying the chicken, we are going to sort of saute it. Just put a little bit of oil in the pan, enough to keep it from sticking. I make mine in a huge electric frypan, because I am feeding an army. That’s also why I didn’t list quantities. Just make enough for however many you are feeding. Here is what the chicken looks like browning.

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IMG 0241After the chicken is browned, or actually seared real well is a better term, considering we aren’t using enough oil to actually brown anything, we will simmer it in spaghetti sauce for a bit to finish cooking. Pour off the oil, and pour in the sauce. I use Ragu, but you can use whatever you’d like. I suppose you can also make it yourself, but I don’t have a recipe for that. It should look something like the photo at right.

When the chicken is done, it is time for my favorite part: CHEESE! Lay a slice on each piece of chicken, and it won’t hurt a thing if you over lap it a little.
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Doesn’t that look so good??? While the cheese is melting, cook your spaghetti noodles. Serve the chicken over the noodles, like so:
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