November 13th, 2006 — 1:10pm
I started making my own salsa recently. It’s so good — I’ll never buy ready-made salsa again. We don’t like spicy things, so if this salsa seems bland to you, add some hot peppers or something :)
- Fresh cilantro
- fresh ripe tomatoes
- an onion (you only need a little bit)
- a lime or a lemon
- dash of salt
Mince up a bit of onion, very fine. Separate the leaves and tender upper stems of cilantro from the tough bottom stems (throw the bottom stems out). Chop coarsely. Chop a bunch of tomatoes. Mix all this together in a bowl or an empty cottage cheese container or something. Add a good squeeze of lime or lemon, and salt to taste. If it needs more of something, add more of something :) So good, so good. I keep a container of this salsa in the fridge at all times.
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November 11th, 2006 — 1:00pm
By popular demand – my lasagna recipe!
Warning: this is a Kara-style, why-bother-to-measure, improvisational recipe. Find some other recipe that gives explicit instructions if you’re a new or nervous cook, and then come back and try this one when you’re ready :) You’ll use raw noodles and spinach in this recipe but don’t worry — it’ll all turn out ok!
- Dry lasagna noodles in a box. Not fresh, not pre-cooked — just regular.
- A 15-oz tub of ricotta cheese. This will make a generous family-size dish. Use two tubs if you want a mega-lasagna with leftovers for days.
- a bag of fresh, clean, salad-style spinach (you won’t need the whole bag, so you can make a nice spinach salad to go with your lasagna)
- a bag of grated mozarella cheese, or grate your own.
- a tub of nice fresh grated parmesan cheese, or grate your own. Please don’t use the sawdust in the green can!
- about 2 jars of good pasta sauce. You might not need it all, but better too much than not enough. You’ll probably need a third jar if you’re making a mega-lasagna. When I use a can of Roma tomatoes for some other recipe, I save the thick juice to make the sauce go further when I make a lasagna.
- an egg or two
- Italian herbs — basil, oregano, whatever you’ve got handy
- an onion, chopped
- several cloves of garlic, chopped
- Assorted fresh vegetables: red and/or green bell pepper, fresh mushrooms, zucchini, sliced carrots, whatever you like. I use a box of fresh mushrooms and a red bell pepper as a start, and add other things if I feel like it. The more you use, the bigger your lasagna will be, obviously. Chop everything into appropriately-sized chunks.
- ENTIRELY OPTIONAL: some kind of meat. I used uncooked sweet Italian sausage once, cut into chunks and cooked with the veggies. It was great! You could use ground beef or turkey, or chunks of chicken, or whatever. Just make sure your meat is thoroughly cooked before you assemble the lasagna.
Ok! Heat up some olive oil in a nice big pan. Cook your onion and garlic for a little while, until it starts to get slightly soft. Add the rest of the veggies (hard/solid things like carrots should be added before soft/quick-cooking things like zucchini). Add meat, if you’ve got meat. Add herbs, generously. Cook until it’s all done and smells most sentimental. It’s better if the veggies don’t turn to mush, of course. But make sure that meat is done. It’ll cook more in the oven but why take a chance?
Dump your ricotta into a big huge bowl. Add several handfuls of raw spinach and mix it around with a wooden spoon. Remember that the spinach will shrink a lot, so why not add some more? Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan. Dump in the cooked veggie mixture and mix it all around. Taste, and see if needs salt. I usually add several good shakes. Add an egg or two.
Ok now get your pan. I use a deep 9″x9″ casserole dish with a lid for family-size lasagna, and a 10″x14″ pan for mega-lasagna. Put a layer of RAW lasagna noodles in the bottom. Dump in about half (or a third, depending on how much you made) of your cheese/vegetable mixture. You want a nice even layer. Sprinkle on a generous layer of mozarella and a few spoonfuls of parmesan, and then a good thick layer of sauce. This is no time to be stingy! Repeat these layers until you run out of stuff. End with sauce. You want a LOT of sauce.
Cover and bake (preheat the oven!) at 350 degrees fahrenheit for an hour. Let it rest for 10 minutes or so before you serve. YUM!
I love this recipe. The noodles turn out perfectly al dente and absorb all the extra liquid, so you don’t get that yucky runny juice in the bottom of the pan. And you don’t have to fiddle around with slimy half-boiled lasagna noodles and big gobs of cooked spinach oozing all over the cutting board. Freeze the leftovers. They reheat deliciously. Let me know if you come up with an awesome new ingredient or variation!
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November 2nd, 2006 — 1:50pm
I made Stuffed Peppers last night for dinner, and Dan loved them. I kinda made up the recipe, so I’d better write it down:
- 1 Package (a pound?) fresh ground turkey
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- An onion, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- two or three tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 4 to 6 red bell peppers, depending on size
Heat a little oil in a nice big pan. Cook the onion and celery until it starts to soften, then add the turkey. Cook until the turkey is done, then add the rice, seasonings, and tomatoes and cook everything a little while longer. Cut your peppers in half lengthwise, scrape out the seedy parts, and cram them full of the mixture. Bake in a tightly-covered baking dish for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Serve with sour cream or plain yogurt. Yum!
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October 8th, 2006 — 9:08pm
It’s Sunday night now. I’m really tired, but I had a great weekend! Henry stayed with us all weekend, which was really nice. Yesterday we played quite a bit of WoW together, questing in Ferelas, and cleaned up the back yard too. I took a dustpan and scooped up all of Sally’s dog’s disgusting cow-bones. UGH. And we swept up and threw away trash and all kinds of junk. It was nice to have the energy to do that! And I finished “Second Honeymoon”. So good, so good. Last night I made chicken parmesan for dinner, which both guys love like crazy. Here’s how:
Put one slice of dry bread in the blender and make it into crumbs. You can do this with fresh bread if you didn’t plan ahead. Mix the crumbs with a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese, some salt and pepper and whatever good herbs you have around. I usually throw in some basil and oregano. Mince a couple of cloves of garlic and mix with some olive oil in a different bowl. Dip chicken breasts in the olive oil/garlic and then coat with the crumbs/cheese mixture. Put the chicken in a baking pan and dump the leftover crumb mixture on top. Lay some slices of cheese on top — munster is nice — or a couple handfuls of grated mozerella. Or both. Dump a jar of good spaghetti sauce on top. Bake at, um, 375 for about 45 minutes. Make sure the chicken is done before you serve it. Cook some pasta (I like Trader Joe’s spinach & chive fettucini) and serve the chicken and sauce on top. Even Henry asks for seconds!
Today I got lots of librivox work done and even some recording. Hugh pointed us to http://dailylit.com and while I was poking around there I discovered a book called “Poems Every Child Should Know” and signed up to have it delivered into my inbox in tiny sections each day (which is what dailylit does). Then I realized that those ready-made tiny sections would be ever so convenient for recording. So I recorded a few of the sections, enjoyed them ever so much, and decided to read the whole book as a solo project. Got five sections done already (they’re only 5-6 minutes long). Fae is proof-listening for me. (You can get a sneak preview here) And I also recorded chapter 4 of Wives and Daughters while Henry and Dan were out getting the car washed. They took Henry’s handwriting book along and Dan helped him with it.
Henry and I dashed to the library when they opened this afternoon at 1 and I found another book by Susan Phillips and another by Joanna Trollope. I was happy to see about 6 Trollope books on the shelf but I only took one, gotta space them out so I don’t run out too soon.
Now Dan and I are on the couch watching The Odd Couple (movie, not sitcom). But it’s 9 already so we’ll probably go to bed soon. Yawn.
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October 5th, 2006 — 10:14pm
Henry’s dad dropped him off after his early-morning dental appointment so Henry and Sally could go bicycling together. They ran off to Guajome Park for an adventure, and I recorded the chorus of The Furies. Eventually, a few other women will read the Chorus too, and then a clever editor will overdub us so we sound like a proper Greek chorus. Neato! Henry went back to his dad’s house in the afternoon, and we played WoW together. Took our Tauren Hunters to Silverpine.
I had a bowl of mushy apples hanging around, so I baked an Apple Cake for dinner, and it turned out great. I got the recipe from allrecipes.com, Amazing Apple Cake, but here it is again:
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 5 1/2 cups chopped apples
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
- In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Add the eggs, oil and vanilla, mix well. Add the nuts and apple, mix until all of the apples are evenly coated. Pour into a 9×9 inch pan.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Serve warm or cool.
I baked mine at 300 degrees for about 65 minutes, because I used a glass pan. Also I skipped the nuts. Nuts are yuck. The batter is shockingly dry, so dry it doesn’t seem like you’ll be able to incorporate the apples, but just work at it a bit. The finished cake is moist and yummy! We’ve already eaten half of it.
Tonight Dan and I watched last night’s South Park episode, which featured the boys playing World of Warcraft and eventually defeating an in-game bully. They used screenshots of real WoW characters and locations. It was hilarious, the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long long time. Hearing Cartman’s and Kyle’s and Stan’s and Kenny’s voices coming out of WoW characters was marvelous. Good job, Matt and Trey! Oh there was a mention on boingboing, here.
Omg here you can watch it online, until it gets yanked down: http://www.younewb.com/index.php/2006/10/05/full-video-of-new-wow-south-park-episode/
So good, so good.
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September 19th, 2006 — 5:50pm
I feel nervous and jumpy today, for no reason. Very annoying. I’m cooking dinner right now, just taking a little break while the pasta sauce cooks (one red bell pepper, diced, some chopped green onions, two crumbled-up hamburger patties, half a jar of marinara sauce). I’ll serve that over 4-color vegetable radiatore (a.k.a Brain Pasta) with chard sauted with garlic and chicken broth. I may be nervous and jumpy but I can still cook a nice dinner.
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