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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mid-Week Musings

Those Were the Days My Friend

It began with Miss Smith's shrill whistle. "I have enough cheerleaders, I want players." By the time she finished with us she have that and more. There were 250 freshmen in the gym that day. Collectively, we were the class of '58, and long before the women's movement woke the psyche of the nation, there were islands, ironically manmade, where women made decisions and ran the show. Mercy High School, under the auspices of the Sister's of Mercy, was one of them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Table for Two - Pappardelle or Fettucine with Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Sauce

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This pantry meal is a cook's twenty minute wonder. The recipe is simple to make and while some of the ingredients are a bit pricy, this is a great dish to prepare for folks who are hungry and in a hurry to eat. It also happens to be a one pot meal and that makes it perfect for cooking in small or inadequate kitchens. While it's important to note that oil-packed tomatoes cannot substitute for the sun-dried variety, a commercially prepared pesto sauce will be no problem. The pappardelle is substantial enough to serve as a main course, especially if it is served it with Parmesan cheese. I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. While it is scaled to feed two people, quantities can easily be doubled to feed four. Here is how the dish is made.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rice Noodles with Coconut Curried Shrimp

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If you are looking for a light supper to replace the grilled meats and salads that can become monotonous at this time of year, I'd like to suggest this entree as an alternative. While it's not truly Asian, most of its components come from Thai kitchens, so, only an aficionado will know this dish is a simplified version of a more complicated Asian curry. At first glance, the ingredient list may seem imposing, but if you scan it, you'll see that most of the ingredients are spices. As a matter of fact, if you are really busy, you can substitute a teaspoon of good curry powder for the toasted and ground spices that are suggested at the beginning of the recipe. This is a simple dish to prepare. The recipe comes from the New York Times and while I love this curry I have one caution to share with you. The first time I made it, I found it to be terribly under salted. To overcome that, I soak the rice noodles in boiling salted water and adjust the salt content of the finished curry sauce to my own taste. I really like this dish, and in a short period of time it has made its way to my permanent recipe rotation. I do hope you'll give it a try. I think you'll like it too. Here is how the curry is made.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Copycat Biscuit Mix + Savory Onion and Cheese Muffins

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I haven't capitulated, although tonight's feature might lead you to believe I've lowered my standards. There is no need to worry. I'm still a proponent of from scratch cooking. While I still won't use commercial mixes, I have been known to create my own version of some of the more popular products, like Bisquick, because they make my life so much easier. I like to use them when we are at the lake and barbecues and berries beg for biscuits or beds of shortcake to complete the meal. This copycat recipe for Bisquick first appeared in the food section of the Kansas City Star and I have been making and baking with it for several years now. It is a snap to put together and it makes quick work of summer sides that can be difficult to prepare in small or poorly equipped kitchens. I also use it to make quick coffee cakes and muffins on Sunday morning. It is really easy to make and it can be stored for up to four months if it's refrigerated. I used the mix to make the savory muffins that are part of tonight's feature. I wanted something quick and easy to serve with a French vegetable soup and these savory muffins filled the bill. I do hope you will both the mix and the muffins. Here is how they are made.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Homemade Russian Dressing and Reuben Sandwiches

Photo courtesy of Betty Crocker

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I don't often serve sandwiches for supper, but a busy day at the County Fair made them a great choice for dinner tonight. I might also add, a 2 pound package of pastrami managed to find its way its way into my grocery cart the last time I shopped at our local warehouse store. I needed to start using it, and what better way to do that than to make Reuben sandwiches. These days many restaurants serve Reubens as open-faced sandwiches. While I think they look beautiful when made that way, I also think that makes for a dry sandwich, so, when I make my own I enclose the filling and happily grill until my cheese is oozy. This is a simple sandwich to make and the only way you can go wrong is to overstuff or burn it. I've developed a formula of sorts to use when making Reubens. It helps me control the urge to overstuff the sandwich. The quantities in the recipe below work for us, but I urge you experiment until you come up with a formula that is perfect for your family. Here is how I make mine.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Leftover Lamb Salad

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I know that there are many folks who don't like lamb. I suspect their aversion has more to do with its preparation than the taste of lamb itself, and when its cost is factored in, it is easy to see why it is not served more often. My family loves lamb, so it is no stranger on my table, but that presents another problem. I call it leftover lamb syndrome. It is hard to find ways to use leftover lamb. There is, of course, shepherd's pie, and while that may be perfect for the winter table, it's awfully heavy for a summer day. So, when temperatures soar and I have leftover lamb, I use it in a salad or as a filler for sandwich wraps. My recipe is so simple that it needs no additional explanation. While any type of non-creamy dressing can be used to flavor it, I tend to use one of the two that are featured below. I like them both and the choice of which to use is always based on what is in the pantry. It is important to thinly slice the meat and let it marinate in the dressing for a while before it is served. I also like to serve the salad at room temperature rather than straight from the refrigerator. I know those of you who like lamb will enjoy this salad, so I do hope you will give it a try. Here is how the salad is made.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

(Random) Mid-Week Musings

This Place Is A Zoo

"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." I speak not of the gates of hell, but those of the Portland Zoo. To understand how we ended up in such a great place at such a bad time, a quick peek at the backstory that led us here is necessary. Several months ago, we put together an itinerary for our 7 year old grandson's visit. The zoo was not part of that plan, but a limited attention span and the arrival and departure times of flights to and from the East Coast caused it to become a factor in the time he would spend with us. The premium to fly directly into Eugene is steep this summer, so we decided to use Portland Airport as home base and pocket the savings for other trip related expenses. Flying into Portland is no problem, but departure is always a trick. On a good day, it takes 1-1/2 hours to get to the airport. The gods of travel have deemed it necessary to add additional time to that estimate because a sneeze can cause significant highway delays. Arrival delays can be easily handled, but departure is another thing. We have to be up at 4 AM. to reach the airport in time for an early morning departure. In order to avoid that hideous hour, I suggested we spend the day prior to departure in Portland and spend the night in an airport hotel. What better place to spend the day than at the zoo and the children's museum. Right? As it turns out, that would have been a great decision most days, but on the 2nd Tuesday of the month, entrance fees, which are normally high, are just $4 per person and the immediate world descends on Portland Zoo. I, who in another life, was paid for research and logistic skills most others lack, dropped the ball and got us to the zoo just in time to rub elbows with the immediate world. I swear, right hand on a bible you cannot see, of the 11,000 bodies  assembled that day, there was one adult and 10,999 children, some of whom were advanced in years but had not yet learned to surrender to the limitations of a very hot day. It was a zoo, my friends. Fortunately, the enthusiasm of that wonderful 7 year old saved the day. He's my favorite for always and ever. We just aren't going to tell the others, and we'll stay away from the zoo for a while.

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