Friday, August 31, 2012

Chet and Bernie Mysteries


I'm really enjoying the Chet and Bernie Mysteries.  Dogs and Private Investigators.  What's not to love?

I like the way Spencer Quinn tells the story from the dog's point of view.  The dog is looking for clues to help Bernie and then finds a Cheetos under a couch and gets distracted.  He listens to the conversation and then falls asleep and misses what's going on.  He finds a rotten piece of hot dog and eats it.  He starts to feel sick, barfs it up and is happy as a clam.  Funny and so real all at the same time.

The mysteries are not the cozies you might think,  based on the dog gimmick.  They are darker and more dangerous than the usual pet mysteries. 

I learned my lesson about reading a whole series, one after another.  When I used to find an author I loved I would sit down and request all the books from the first to the most recent and then read them as fast as I could.  I did this with Lee Child.  He has a series about a retired MP named Jack Reacher.  Well, Reacher, even his Mom called him that. I read them one after the other.  Even though the books were all well written, I got a little exasperated with Reacher.  Grow up, already.  Get an apartment and quit wandering like Kerouac seemed to do.  And maybe you should quit breaking people's faces when they upset you.  Even though that is a bit satisfying for all the readers.

So rather than reading them all at once, I am limiting my journey to the present with Chet and Bernie to one book each time I go to the library.  This way I will still love them and anticipate each new adventure with love, rather than exasperation.

Book Anticipation

I really don't like doing hot sweaty work.  Unfortunately that is a requirement around here.  Particularly in the summer.  I try to look at it as a substitute for a gym membership. 


Under the virtuous thought of work now and then you can do something you like later, I decided to clean the railing in the screen porch.  On the plus side, this is a job I can do sitting down and maybe, do a bit of reading.  I know  that sounds strange, but I can read and vacuum, dust, do dishes, lots of things.  My kids tell me I can just do the job and then read and it will go much faster.  And they are right.  But it seems more like work when you don't have a book in one hand.  This is another reason I prefer paperbacks!


I tried to start early, but by the time I got going the sun was beating in through the screens.  By the time I had one section done sweat was dripping into by eyes.  It burned like opening them underwater in the ocean.  Unpleasant, but not impossible.  Nonetheless, I had to use a bandanna and keep wiping my face.  My girls are grossed out when I use a bandanna.  I think they are under the impression that I use it like a handkerchief.  Come on now, who would blow their nose and then wipe their face?


Once I finished, I felt justified in taking a break and writing about one of my favorite authors.  I recently got her book at the library and was so excited.  I love the anticipation of getting a long awaited book.  It is sort of like the anticipation I used to feel when getting ready for a date.  My husband doesn't let me date.   He doesn't tell me that, it is just understood.  So books fulfill that excitement level for me.There are certain authors that I love so much that I go on their websites to find out when their books are coming out.  Linda Castillo is one of those authors.


I particularly like books in a series.  This way the characters get more developed with each succeeding book.  Her series is about a formerly Amish police chief in a small town.  Her Amish background is particularly helpful when dealing with crime involving the Amish in her community.  Horrible things happened to her in her youth to turn her away from her roots and her family and she tries to reconnect more in each book. 

I like women-in-jeopardy stories.  It satisfies me in some visceral way to have them fight their way against seemingly insurmountable odds.  Maybe it empowers me subconsciously.  I have never faced down a serial killer, nor do I wish to, but I like watching, safely, from a distance, as someone else does!  There is also something satisfying about having everything solved in a book, unlike real life where things are much less likely to be resolved.

With Linda Castillo I also get to get a peek at a community with which I am unfamiliar and see her struggles against her emotional problems and try to work through them.  It makes her seem more like a real person.  I just love a good compelling author.

Lately it has been taking me two days to get through a book.  But not with these authors.  I put every non-essential thing aside and plow right in.  Bliss.  Oh, no!  All done.  Now I have to wait another year for the next book.  Don't they know I want to know what happens next?  Hurry up and write another!
The next author I am waiting for is Julia Spencer-Fleming.  She also writes a series I adore.  She has the unmitigated gall to take more than one year between each book, however.  Yes, I'm sure she has a life and maybe some personal things going on.  That should not be my problem.   I don't let my personal life affect her, do I?   There are times I want to write to a particular author and offer to run errands or fix meals or something so they can get on with their authoring.  I'll give her a few more months.

Thursday, August 30, 2012



Isn't that a great name for a cookie?  I have no idea where it came from but it is a perfect name for a childhood favorite.  One of my best friends from way back in the day used to make them.  Sometimes, if I was lucky, Katy would bring some by.  There had to be plenty because I had two brothers and two sisters and cookies did not last long at our place.  Better to take two right off the bat.  It wasn't as good of a deal if she invited me over to eat some at her house.  Over there I would have to be polite.

I have some company coming over for a bit tonight.  I asked Lee what kind of cookie I should make.  "Snickerdoodles",  was his long winded remark.  Sometimes it's hard to get a word in edgewise.  I don't know if he thought the kids would like them or he just wanted them for himself, but I made them and I'll keep some for him.


1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided use
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided use
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375.  Get out the cookie sheets and silpats, or lightly grease the sheets.

I use a KitchenAid mixer.  This can be done by hand, I am sure Katy didn't have a stand mixer!  The reason I am sure is because I had never heard of a stand mixer back then. Cream the butter and 1 1/4 cups of the sugar.  While you still have the sugar out, put the other 1/4 cup in a small bowl and set aside.


Add the eggs and the vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  It will tend to stick on the sides, so stop and scrape down occasionally. Yes, I know the mixer is supposed to keep you from having to work.  It's just a bit of scraping.  You can do it.


All recipes tell you to put the dry ingredients in a separate bowl to mix them and then to add to the mixer.  I rarely do this.  I don't know if it is laziness or extra dish to wash will use more water or soap or something.  I'll just go with frugality.  You can use an extra bowl if you like.

I put one cup of flour in the mixer.  Then I added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  The rest of the cinnamon (1 teaspoon) should go with the sugar in the small bowl. stir it until mixed.  Then add the rest of the dry ingredients on top of the flour.


Under no circumstances should you leave out the cream of tartar.  You may have never heard of it, but it is necessary for these cookies.  This is what gives them the lift and the soft insides.  You gotta do it.  They sell it right with the spices.  You can't miss it. I even have two, because the last time I used it it looked close to empty so I bought more.

 Mix the spices into the flour gently with a spoon or knife.  Turn on the mixer, slowly,  to finish mixing. Add the other cup and 1/2 of flour and mix that in.

You can shape the dough into one inch balls or you can use the small cookie scoop.  They do not have to be round.  When they cook they will spread out into a nice round shape.  The scoop is faster and less messy than the hand method, but I don't think Katy had a scoop, so you don't need one either.


Set up an assembly line.  Cookie dough, bowl with sugar and cinnamon, cookie sheet, wet rag to wipe your hand.  Scoop up a few balls of cookie dough and put them in the sugar.  Turn them with a spoon to coat them. Using your fingers, now, pick them up and arrange them on the cookie sheet.  Leave room for them to spread out.  Wipe your sticky little fingers and do a few more.

When the cookie sheet is full cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned.  I did it for 7 minutes.

When you take the cookies out of the oven they will be puffy and look great.  Then as they cool they will fall a bit and get crinkly.  This is good.  They will be all crispy on the outside and chewy and wonderful on the inside.  When they have cooled for a few minutes, transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Don't put the cinnamon and the sugar away until all the cookies are in the oven. Sometis there is just not enough to coat all the cookies and you will need to add more.  Don't worry too much about measuring.  Just add 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  You can't use it for anything else if there is leftovers.  It will have cookie bits in it.  Wait...Cookie Dough Coffee.  Nah.  It has raw eggs in it.  Maybe another recipe, though!  You'll have to toss it.

Make sure you try at least one when it is still a bit warm.  If you never had a Snickerdoodle before, this will be a special treat for you.  Even with my vast experience in cookie eating, it happens every time with my first bite. The edges of my tongue tighten up and I know I would be gleeking if I was chewing with my mouth open. They are that good.  Thanks for the memories, Katy.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is This Gardening?

I have been avoiding working in the yard.  The main reason is because it is just so blooming hot.  And I have been so blooming lazy.  There.  I said it.  Lazy.

I like working on making cards and cooking.  But the outside work needs to be done and Lee can't do it all by himself.  And I haven't won the lottery so that we can hire it done.  One of the reasons for this is I haven't bought a ticket.  I used to buy one every month or so.  Or when I was doing something I wanted to hire someone else to do.  Like working in the yard.  Then my son said something that runs through my head when I contemplate buying a lottery ticket.  He said it is "a tax on the stupid". 

Makes you think, doesn't it?  On the other hand, for a buck I can get a day or so of lovely rich person fantasies!  I bet he would be willing to take some money from this stupid person when, well, IF I win.  So I buy one, rarely, and think about buying one, frequently.

So today I got up and put on my working in the yard clothes.  This consists of jeans that are now too big for me, so I need a belt to keep them on.  On the other hand I don't care if they get ruined, a good quality in work clothes.  I had on short sleeves, so I slathered myself with sunscreen.  Then I coated all exposed areas with OFF!  I also sprayed the inside of the bill of my ball cap with OFF!  This helps to keep wee insects from flying up my nose.  I had some old sneakers that I put on.  By the end of the day I had to toss them. 


I was a wreck.  But ready to work.

We have a garden off the basement doors.  It has the potential to be quite lovely, but it is usually the last garden we tend. 


Out of sight and all that.  Plus, I figure it will get ruined by any construction.  The sad truth is that the edges where no construction worker would ever leave any dry wall or other debris was an overgrown mess. 

We trimmed and dug up and pulled and raked. It felt more like a Tarzan movie (hacking through the jungle) than gardening. 


In two hours it was decent.  Not finished, mind you, but decent.  I decided that I just have to commit to three mornings week until we get this garden under control.


 We have a lot of landscaping that really is nice, but it has to be kept weeded and trimmed or it is a mess. 


But I hate to work in the hot sun.  The sweat was running in my eyes and carrying the sunscreen with it.  I had sweat through my clothes and they were a soggy mess.  On the other hand I did not have any bugs up my nose.  A win for my side.  Nonetheless,  I was a wreck.  Oh, and filthy.  Can't wait for snow.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Maple Bacon Scones...revisited


Last night I wrote a post about making Maple Bacon Scones using a mix from Victorian House Scones.  I need to update that entry.

I tried making the icing, pouring over the scones and then placing bacon into the still warm icing.  This was not very satisfactory.  As it cooled it hardened and I ended up smooshing the bacon bits into the icing.  The bacon flavor was kind of hit and miss.  I came up with a new method.


After you make the icing to your satisfaction, simply stir the bacon bits (real ones, not soy) into the icing and then drizzle or spoon over the scones that have cooled and are waiting patiently on the cooling rack.

The bacon infuses the icing with that wonderful bacon flavor and each bite is mapley and bacony...those are words, I'm sure of it.  I don't care what Spell Check keeps yelling at me.    As a plus there is oatmeal so that you can convince yourself that this is a healthy breakfast.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Maple Bacon Scones


I was reading a book....well, I am pretty much ALWAYS reading a book...and they mentioned maple bacon scones.  Yum.  Baked goods and bacon?  What's not to like?

When we first moved here the plan was to buy a B&B.  We couldn't find any for sale in our price range that had land.  They were only in the cities.  We wanted land and some horses.  Now we have too much land and are trying to sell the horses.  Life takes some interesting twists, doesn't it?

Our realtor is a B&B realtor.  I think he gave up on us and helped us to buy this house out of desperation!  The idea all along was to someday turn this into a B&B.  We may do that after we finish the basement.  We may sell the whole place and get an apartment.  A studio apartment.  In London.  Depends on which day you ask me.

At any rate, Pete suggested we attend the Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Conference he puts on every year.  It is not only for current innkeepers to gain new knowledge and to network, but it is for aspiring innkeepers to learn whether innkeeping is really what they want.  And if so, how to go about getting there.

We learned a lot, but one of the things I discovered was a vendor called Victorian House Scones.  There are always many vendors with lots of things for innkeepers, but FOOD ideas are the best.  Don't you agree?  Victorian House Scones makes scone mixes, oddly enough.  I have had a lot of scone recipes, but none are as fluffy as these.  There are many flavors and she sells to the public.  Check out her website if you want to try some of her product.  I like to play around with them.  One great thing about them, is you can make up a batch and freeze those you won't eat that day.  Then just pull out the ones you want for breakfast and about 25 minutes later you have a fresh baked scone!

I had one of her  Oatmeal scone mix and I frequently use it to make Maple Oat Nut scones.  It comes pretty close to the ones I love from Starbucks. I just add nuts and maple flavor to the mix.  Then I ice them with maple flavored icing.  Yum.  Don't trust me, ask the folk at the Fincastle Library!  That is my dumping donation point... for baked goods.

I took the Oatmeal mix and added in the butter and buttermilk.  I like to use a pastry blender to slice up the cold butter to blend into the mix.


Make sure you mix the Maple flavoring in with the buttermilk.  That is the only way to get in well blended.  I can't find Maple flavoring here, so I use Mapleine.


I microwaved up a whole box of precooked bacon and drained them on paper towels.  I just grabbed up the paper towel and crunched up all the bacon and stirred it in the scone mix.  I saved out two slices to crunch up and put on top of the icing.

Don't over mix. Dump out the mixture and form a large ball. You will maybe knead two or three times. That's it.  Flatten with your hand and cut into wedges.


The icing is just a little melted butter, about 1 Tablespoon melted in a sauce pan with 2 Tablespoons of milk.  Add about 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and stir to mix.  Heat it until it is bubbling, remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of Mapleine.  It will turn a nice brown color. 

Drizzle it over the scones.  Sometimes it is too thin.  Then I just add a bit more powdered sugar and heat it through.  Just cover up the thin icing and cover the rest of  the scones.  Put the bacon bits on top.  My icing got hard REALLY fast and I ended up smooshing the bacon bits to make them stick.  Gotta think up something better for the next batch!

Here is the critique part.  The scones were good, but there was not a huge bacon flavor.  I wonder if the next time, I should just cook up a batch of the original greasy bacon and use bacon grease along with the chopped up bacon bits.  It sounds great to me.  Or maybe place a slice of crispy bacon on top and then smother it with the icing.  I'm drooling just a bit here.  If you try that let me know how it is.  I'd love to know.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Alicia's Salad


Alicia Parlette was a good friend of my daughter's.  She died way too young.  In her short life she did some wonderful things.  She worked at the San Francisco Chronicle, a major newspaper and a major coup for a young journalist.  I hope you take the time to Google her name and read some of the things she wrote. 

A bump on her leg in high school was misdiagnosed and by the time the cancer was found it was too late to save her life.  But not too late for her to share her amazing journey with her family and her followers at the Chronicle.  I hadn't seen her in years when she passed away, but I miss her to this day.

One time Trista went to Alicia's house for a sleep over.  When she came back she wanted to try the salad that they had had.  It is easy and delicious.  I substituted Romaine for the Butter lettuce in the original recipe because I like it better.

Alicia's Salad

Romaine lettuce ( or stick with the original, butter lettuce)
almond slivers ( almond slices are fine if that is what you like, but too many more changes like that and we will NOT have Alicia's salad.)
Mandarin Orange slices.
Raspberry Vinaigrette

Toast the almond slivers in an oven at 350 for about 5 to 7 minutes.  I used the toaster oven.  No point in heating up the whole house for a salad.  Watch them closely.  Just a little tan is what you want.


Place the cut up romaine in a large bowl.


Drain the orange slices.  The can I had  was filled with the biggest slices I have ever seen, so I cut them in half.  But you can just dump the whole ( drained) can on top of the lettuce. Add the nuts and the dressing.  Toss.

This is a salad all my kids liked.  This is a salad we forget to have.  I want to try to have it more.  It makes me think about happy times with a sweet girl and that is a good thing.

Caprese Salad

I had a BUNCH of ripe tomatoes.  I always grow basil, because it is so easy and way too expensive in the stores.  So I bought some Mozzarella and made some....

Caprese Salad

Fresh Mozzarella
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

That's it.   It is pretty and the colors of the Italian flag.  Just thick juicy, slices of home grown tomatoes layered with moist slices of fresh mozzarella from the deli,  not the hard kind back by the packaged cheeses.


 In between the slices place tender leaves of a basil plant, that you have carefully washed to remove any bugs, and gently dried with a paper towel.  I put some on top for the pictures , so you could see them.  The rest are buried under cheese

Drizzle the whole thing with your best Olive Oil and sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper.

Easy Peasy, salad Caprese.

Here is the problem.  I love fresh tomatoes cut up in things like salads and pasta. I also love them layered in sandwiches smothered in mayo.  I am not so fond of thick slices all by themselves.  Even with a slab of cheese. I should have served them with some sourdough bread or maybe some rounds sliced off a baguette.  But I didn't. Still trying to avoid the carbs. 


Lee liked it and that is the best part of this salad.

Butternut Squash


The squash beetles killed all the zucchini, but the butternut squash was going like gangbusters.  I picked a bunch because they looked big and seemed about the right color.  Then I looked up the best way to store them.  This was a mistake.  One should do their research BEFORE they do their picking.  I can't stress this enough.

It seems that even though they look ripe, you are supposed to leave butternut squash in the field so that the skin thickens.  This is why they keep so well.  Too late.

I did leave a bunch in the garden thank goodness.  They will be allowed to stay longer, even though it is JUST starting to decide to be fall.  I guess if you don't really have much of a winter you can have a short summer...

So now I guess I have to cook a squash or two and see if I wrecked them.  In my defence, I never planted them before and I just threw them in the garden as a "why not?"  All my zucchinis died and I wanted to get the butternut out before the beetle got them, too.

So now I will make some soup.  Or maybe just roasted butternut along with some other veggies and see what happens.  I hope they are edible.  I hope I remember to do my research first next time.  Or read the instructions BEFORE I attempt to put something together for the first time.  Naw.  Where's the fun in that?

The tomatoes are doing great and they are the main reason I do a garden every year. Not sure they are worth all the work and worry, though.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas


This will be my third meal this week using tortillas. I think I will be ready for some Chinese or Indian food after this.  There was an article in the paper about how much food people throw out each year, so I really HAD to make three meals with tortillas.  The package had 24 tortillas and there are only the two of us!  There were a few left over, but they are starting to get stale and I can't face any more tortillas for a while.  It's salads for us the next few dinners!

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

If you are a vegetarian, leave out the chicken part.  I gave the recipe for making the chicken in my Chicken Tacos post.  Basically, you cook the thinly sliced chicken breast with onions, garlic, chili powder and cumin.  Don't bother to reheat it if you made it previously.  It will heat in the oven.

Chicken cooked with Mexican spices.  If you like hot foods, add jalapeno.
2 cups shredded cheese.  I used a mix of Cheddar and Monterrey Jack.
1/4 cup diced red onions
1 seeded and diced Roma tomato
5 tortillas (because that's what fit in my baking dish.  Feel free to double the recipe and use a 9 X 13 baking dish)
1 10 oz. can of enchilada sauce

If the chicken is left over, this is a fast dish to make.  It will be mostly assembly and baking time.  With a little bit of shredding and dicing, thrown in.  Preheat the oven to 350 and spray an 8 X 8 baking dish with Pam.


Heat the enchilada sauce in a medium sauce pan.  Using tongs, dip the tortillas in the warm sauce.  Don't let it stay in the sauce for long as it will  start to disintegrate. 


Place the wet tortilla on a plate and fill it with a portion of chicken, cheese and onions.  Place it seam side down in the prepared baking dish.  Do the rest of the tortillas in this fashion.  It isn't a big deal if they develop a little tear.  This is because you have been eating from this package for a week!

Pour the remainder of the sauce over the rolled tortillas.  If you are like me you will say, "I wish I had bought more sauce!"  But you didn't so you will keep going.  After I took the enchiladas from the oven, they looked fine.  If you like a very saucy enchilada, buy more and use more.  This worked for me.


There should be some cheese left over.  Maybe a few onions or some chicken.  Sprinkle the cheese and onions on top.  Tuck the chicken here and there so it won't dry out when heating.

Place the dish in the oven.  You only need to heat things through.  Twenty-five minutes worked for me.  Make sure the cheese is melted and the rest should be warm enough.

Serve with the fresh tomatoes on top.  DON'T leave the dish with the tomatoes in the kitchen and notice them after dinner.  Then you will have to save them for tomorrow's salad, like I did!

Serve with a salad or fresh fruit.  Especially if you used jalapenos and the spicy enchilada sauce!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chicken Tacos


Going to California made me miss Mexican Food.  Earlier I made Hominy Quesadillas.  It needed corn tortillas and the smallest package of corn tortillas holds 24.  I did not want to throw the extras away, so I have tortilla meals planned all week.  Today is Chicken Tacos.

Chicken Tacos

Chicken breasts  I used about 1 pound of chicken tenders
Mix of 2 cups Cheddar and Monterrey Jack, shredded
Shredded lettuce
1 Roma Tomato, seeded and diced
1 small avocado
1 cup red onion, divided use
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper
vegetable oil

I chopped and shredded everything first.   Put them into individual bowls.


Use a medium fry pan.  Add about 1 Tablespoon oil.  Cook 1/2 of the red onions.  While they are heating cut out the thick white tendon from the chicken breasts and thinly slice them. 

Meanwhile heat a few Tablespoons of oil in a large fry pan.


Add the chicken to the onions and sprinkle the spices over them.  Add s & p to taste.  They will cook quickly. 


When the oil is hot add as many tortillas as will fit in the other pan.  I could fit three.  Heat them for a minute or so on each side.  Then put them on a plate with a paper towel to soak up any extra oil.  I made two tortillas for each of us.  And one extra in case we wanted it.  And we did.  I mean I did.


When the chicken is done put it in a bowl and put everything on the table.  It is make your own taco night!

Save the leftover chicken and any cheese for tomorrow.  Don't save the avocado.  It will be a brown mess.  Tomorrow will be enchiladas and the rest of the flan.

Orange Flan or Flan de Naranja


One of the things I miss about living in California is the great Mexican food.  There are Mexican restaurants here, but they are not as good as the ones I am used to in California.  I don't know if it is because they change the flavors to suit a Southern palate or why it is.  I ALWAYS go to a West Coast chain called El Torito when in California.  This time they had a meal that included a miniature flan.  It was delicious.  Think custard or crème brulee but without the crunchy caramelized topping.  Instead it is upside down with a caramel sauce topping.

I looked around for a flan recipe.  I found one with orange and lemon in it.  Sounded good to me. 

Orange Flan
Flan de Naranja

I speak a little Spanish, but mostly just enough to order food!

Caramelized Sauce

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice


2 cups half and half
zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup orange juice (I used 3 large oranges for the whole recipe)
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar

First get everything out you will need to make this.  It will use most of your pans and you don't want to go searching for them in the middle of cooking.

You will need a 9 X 13 baking dish and 6 ramekins.  I used 2 saucepans, a medium and a large.  Get out a strainer,a micro plane,  a mixing bowl and measuring cups.  You may need another mixing bowl if you don't have a quart size measuring cup.

Preheat oven to 325.


First remove the stuck on labels and wash the fruit.  I used one lemon and three oranges.  I was buying one orange anyway for the zest.  You may want to buy one and use OJ from the refrigerator, but I used fresh.  Zest the lemon and one orange and set aside.  Use a bowl or a plate.  MORE stuff to get out and then wash!  You want to zest before you squeeze them.  I just used my hands over a quart size measuring cup.  If you have a small amount of oranges, have some OJ in the refrigerator or freezer, just in case!  You will need one cup, divided use.


Break the eggs in a medium bowl.  Add the sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.  Keep the whisk, you will want to stir it again just before you use it.

Heat a medium sauce pan over a medium burner and then add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup orange juice.  If you did your own squeezing, you should strain it so you don't get seeds and pith in it.  Yes, that is a word and no, I am not lisping.


You will need to stir this almost continuously.  Take a few breaks.  Like right now.  Put the zest and the cream and the other half cup of orange juice in the large saucepan.  Put it on a burner over medium low heat.  You want to cook this JUST until it starts to think about boiling.  It will start to bubble around the edges.  Then turn off the heat.

The sugar and OJ mixture will take longer to cook.  You want to reduce it by half.  It will turn a darker color but the OJ will keep it from becoming as caramelized as you would want for regular flan.

At some point you will find yourself stirring both pots at once.  That is OK.  If you get over busy, turn off the milk.  You just want to scald it, not boil it.  It only takes a few minutes and the sugar/OJ mix takes about 10 minutes.

Now take a break and put about 4 cups of water in the microwave or heat it in a kettle.  You will need it for the water bath for the ramekins and you want it very hot. 

After the sugar/OJ mix is reduced, quickly pour a small amount into each ramekin.  If you wait it will harden. 

Take a small amount of the hot milk and drizzle it into the egg mixture while you are whisking.  If you just dump it in you will have scrambled eggs.  Orange flavored scrambled eggs.  You need to temper it by slowly bringing the egg mix up to temperature.  Then add the rest of the egg mix, while still whisking.


Pour this through the strainer into a bowl or measuring cup with a lip.  Carefully pour about 1/2 cup into each ramekin.  Place them in the large baking dish. 


Carry the baking dish close to the oven door.  Set it down and THEN add the hot water until it is halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  This way you won't have to carry the hot, unwieldy dish all across the kitchen and risk burning yourself.  And it is a risk.  Use mitts and both hands.  Carefully place it in the oven and set the timer for 50 minutes. 

Test with a clean knife by inserting it in the custard.  If it comes out clean you are done.  If not, set the timer for 10 more minutes and test again.  Mine took the whole hour.  Don't worry about how it looks  You will serve them upside down!


Remove from the oven and once again be careful not to spill the water.  It is hot.  Use a pair of tongs to remove the ramekins to a wire rack to cool.  Don't drip across the finished ones.  Pull from the side that has the wire rack.  When cool enough to touch, put them in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

To serve, take a knife or small spatula and run it along the inside edge of the ramekin to loosen.  Hold a plate upside down over the ramekin and turn everything over.  Tap the bottom of the ramekin if it doesn't come out right away.  You may have to encourage it with a knife. 

The custard will come out with the orangey caramelized sauce over the top and down the sides.  Yum.

I added a few strawberries and a bit of Cool Whip, but it was fine all by itself.








Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hominy Quesadillas With Pineapple Mango Salsa


A few weeks ago my daughter called and asked about Hominy Quesadillas.  I hadn't made them in some time and had to think about how I used to do it.  I know I have the recipe somewhere.  In fact organizing recipes has been on my list for wee...make that months.

Hominy is a Native American food made from dried corn.  It can be found way above the canned corn or way below the canned corn at the grocery store.  It comes in white and yellow and I have no idea if there is a difference...other than color.

There are versions with jalapenos, but they no longer appeal to me.  So add them to the quesadillas and the salsa on days when I am not invited to your house for dinner.  This is a refreshing meal for the summer.

Hominy Quesadillas

8 corn tortillas
1 15 oz. can drained hominy
1 1/2 to 3 cups  mixed cheeses. I used Cheddar, Monterrey Jack and Feta cheese
vegetable oil


I made the lesser amount of cheese.  You can make the cheesier version, if you like.  You can also add jalapenos and pepper Jack Cheese.  Make sure you use at least some feta.  It has great flavor.  Mix the cheeses and the drained hominy in a medium bowl.
I have a long griddle pan.  You can use a heavy bottom fry pan.  Heat a small amount of oil in the pan over medium heat. 
Place as many tortillas as will fit, my griddle held three.  Top them with the hominy mixture, reserving enough for the rest of the tortillas.  Top each tortilla with another tortilla for a sandwich with the hominy in the middle.
Cook until the tortilla starts to crisp and the cheese is melted.  Now comes the tricky part.  You need to flip this whole thing over without losing the middle.  You will lose a few of the hominy.  Hominy is up to you....get it?

I use two spatulas.  Lift the crisp tortilla ( crisp helps to keep the filling inside) with a large spatula Use another spatula and place it on top of the quesadilla.  Flip the whole thing over so that your bottom spatula is now on the top and carefully return it to the pan.  Practice first!  In case of excessive hominy loss, gently lift the top tortilla and using a utensil, like chopsticks,, not your fingers ( HOT), push the lost ones back in.

Finish cooking so that this side is crisp and carefully move to a cutting board.
You've seen how they cut pizzas.  They place a large knife in the middle and rock it across .  Do this to make four equal pieces.  Place on individual plates or on a serving plate.  Serve with the salsa...This is a must.  It's just cheese and corn if you don't.
Pineapple Mango Salsa
1 cup cut up pineapple
1 or 2 large mango
1/2 cup chopped red onion
lots of cilantro
You can cut up fresh pineapple, but I just used the tidbits in its own juice.  Peel and slice the mango.  Stand it up and cut down around the seed.  Then cut off the bits on the side.  Cut into wedges to make removing the skin easier.  Dice and place in the bowl.
I LOVE cilantro.  Tear off about 1/3 of the bunch from the store, rinse and dry with a paper towel.  Finely chop. Add the cilantro and the onion and mix. Some people, and by this I mean younger people than I, like to add some seeded chopped jalapeno.
Serve a generous portion with the quesadilla wedges.  If you make extra it is still good the next day and can be used with chicken or even just scooped up with a chip.