Monday, December 1, 2008

The Best Pork Chops in the World!

Seriously, these kicked some butt. And the thing about it is, yet again, this was one of those nights when I really didn't have a game plan. I had about half an hour to get dinner on the table before Dev had to leave for class, and I had defrosted 2 pork rib chops.

I suppose you could do this with boneless loin chops, but I don't think the boneless chops have the same flavor that these do. I know the boneless ones are leaner and all that, but when I crave a pork chop, I want something with some flavor (and something that won't dry out the minute any heat is applied).

So here's what I did....

When I got home I rubbed the chops with some dry rub, then immediately started the potatoes. I diced 4 large russet potatoes (I usually use red skin, but I didn't have any today) and dropped them in a pot with enough water to cover, 2 bay leaves and about 3 smashed cloves of garlic.

I let them simmer/boil for about 15 minutes. After draining the potatoes and picking out the bay leaves, I put the potatoes and the garlic in my mixer with half a stick of butter and 4oz of softened cream cheese. I know, not exactly low cal, but OH SO GOOD.

I put the potatoes back in the pot on low heat and moved on to the chops.

I had already dry rubbed them with Penzey's BBQ 3000. I really like this spice blend. I have tried it on beef and chicken as well, and it always lends a very nice flavor. It does contain salt, so when I use it, I don't salt the meat in addition to the rub.

After letting them sit while I made the potatoes, I heated a 12 inch skillet over medium heat and added a few tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil was nice and hot I added the chops and let them sear on the first side about 5 minutes. Then I flipped them and let the other side go about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, I glazed them with some home made jalapeno jelly Dev made over the summer and preheated the broiler. After the 4 minutes, I slid the skillet under the broiler and let the glaze get a little dark.

When it was all said and done, I piled some mashed potatoes in the middle of the plate and popped one of the chops on the top.

I'm telling you, this was insanely good. The chops were cooked perfectly and were so juicy I couldn't believe it.

If you aren't a pork person, try this with some bone in chicken breasts. I bet it would be equally fabulous!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sante Fe/Albequerque

This weekend Dev and I took off for Sante Fe and Albequerque.

Dev is taking an artillery class at Adams State, and he needed to go to some sort of artillery re-enactors event at the New Mexico Veterans' Memorial in Albequerque.

So he came and picked me up from school on Friday and we hit the road for Sante Fe. We stayed at a charming little place called the Olde Sante Fe Inn. It had a nice southwestern vibe, with strings of chilies hanging from the doorways, and beautiful tile work in the rooms. Here's a shot of the outside of our room...

It was very reasonably priced, and I would love to go back when we can stay for the whole weekend- preferably during the winter, when there aren't as many people running around using up oxygen.

We left Saturday morning and drove into Albequerque.

I dropped Dev off at the Veterans' Memorial...

Which, by the way, is very cool. You should go sometime.

Then I embarked on my own little adventure.

Albequerque is a big city.

I am really bad at navigating.

And I was by myself.

But I did ok. First I went to this international market down the street from the memorial. It was huge, and it had anything you could ever want. It reminded me of a scaled down version of the Dekalb Farmers' Market in Decatur, GA.

I was very good and only purchased a few small items (chinese noodles, dashi flakes and dried wakame).

After that, I drove to the Barnes and Noble to get a map. I figured it couldn't hurt, right?

Here's how badly I needed a map- I couldn't find the same door out of the Barnes and Noble, so I went out the back door, and accidently found a huge mall.

So I bopped around in the mall for an hour or two, then decided I was bored and went back to the memorial and knitted and watched Dev's class learn how to load and fire a civil war era canon.

After class, Dev and I went to the California Pizza Kitchen for dinner, did a quick run through of the Borders, and drove home.

I think it was the most exciting weekend we'd had in a while!

I have more of the pics from the trip posted to my flickr page...

Another Lovely Sunday Breakfast

Have I mentioned lately how much I love weekend breakfasts? I'm sure I have. Most of my posts seem to be about weekend breakfast.

Dev and I went to Sante Fe and Albequerque this weekend, so Sunday was the only day I cooked.

I had a ton of veggies left in the fridge from the harvest at the greenhouse last weekend, and I needed to use everything up fast (We are headed out again Tuesday to go to Montrose til Sunday).

I have posted about rostis before. I have found these to be a great way to clean out the refrigerator. Basically it's a big potato pancake with whatever you want on the top, shoved under the broiler til it's a big hunk of melty cheesy love. Here's a link to my original rosti post.

This time around I used bacon, onion, swiss chard, mushrooms and tomatoes, topped with cheddar cheese. Because Dev doesn't like fried eggs, I topped his with scrambled eggs when it came out from under the broiler. I, on the other hand, am a runny yolk person, so I topped mine with a couple of fried eggs. There's something about the yolk that helps emulsify the whole dish.

Anyway, as usual, these were to die for. When Dev and I retire and have all the time in the world, I might just make these during the week, too. But right now, he'll have to suffer through crappy weekday breakfasts to get to the decent weekend stuff.

My Private Shame...

Everyone has something embarassing they don't want anyone else to know...webbed feet, fear of paper clips...something. And most people take great pains to make sure no one ever finds out about their "thing."

Well, I want to exorcise my demons right here, right now.

This semester Dev has had all night classes, and one night a week I eat dinner by myself. I have to eat dinner unsupervised. All alone. No one knows what I eat. Except me. I am a bad, bad girl.

I want the world to know that I do not have the intestinal fortitude to resist the siren song of the tater tot. I'm not talking half way healthy baked tater tots. I'm not even talking home made tater tots. I'm talking about very specific tater tots... from SONIC.

I know, I know. I'm a food snob who criticizes every restaurant meal I ever eat. I'm a purist who insists on home made yogurt and bacon. I like home made pizza better than pizza from a restaurant. BUT I CAN'T HELP IT! I LOVE SONIC TATER TOTS!

They are so horrible for me. And I feel so guilty when I eat them. I don't even want Dev to know...I take the trash out of the house and throw it in the apartment dumpster so he won't see it.

The only saving grace for me is that after the middle of December, I will no longer be eating unsupervised. When Dev is around I make much better food choices.

But I feel better having shared this with you. It's almost like therapy (but less expensive).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Update...

What a busy weekend! I didn't get to do as much cooking as I wanted (needed) to do, but it was great to be out around town and active!

Friday I went to an organizational meeting for the Artwalk. Unfortunately, because of funding issues, there won't be an Artwalk this year (it's supposed to be in March)- but a few people are starting to meet so we can seek other sources of funding to recreate Artwalk for next year. I think it's a wonderful community event and I'm eager to jump in and do whatever is necessary to help bring it back!

Saturday I went to the Vintage Garage and participated in a knitting party of sorts. This really neat person named Kim runs a gorgeous little yarn shop in the Vintage Garage, and she invited local knitters to come to her shop and sit and talk and knit. We ended up sitting at the back table in "Back in Thyme" (a WONDERFUL place to eat if you've never been in there). Kim didn't get to spend very much time with us, because she had to work the register at the store- which is a shame because she seems like a really neat person and I'd love to pick her brain and get to know her better!

Sunday Dev and I went over to the Community Greenhouse to help them do the last of their fall harvesting and bring in the watering system, etc. I had such a great time! Here's a pic of the last of the late fall veggies we harvested...

We are planning to keep going every Sunday for the rest of the winter, as the greenhouse will be open and producing veggies and plants all year around. There are so many knowledgeable(sp) people volunteering there, you can't help but learn stuff while you work.

After working in the greenhouse, my friend Jan and I went to another knitting party at another friend's house. I find it so relaxing and rewarding to sit with other women as they knit and talk. Again- I learn so much just by osmosis....

Sunday night I came home and used the kale and onions we had harvested earlier, and whipped up some fish tacos. Here's a pic...

The whole process was really easy. I washed and chopped the kale, sliced the mushrooms and onions. After putting some olive oil and minced garlic in a skillet, I basically just wilted everything down.

I blackened some tilapia in the same skillet, then threw it on a tortilla with tomato salsa (made with the last of the tomatoes from the greenhouse).

It was a great meal (and really easy, too).

I suppose there's something to be said for busy weekends!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Cooking

I was in the kitchen quite a bit this weekend.

First up, I made a batch of banana muffins to have around for easy breakfasts and snacks this week. I totally cheated and used the bisquick muffin recipe- I just added mashed banana to the wet ingredients. They came out ok- not quite as sweet as I would have liked, but putting cream cheese frosting on them fixed that right up!

Next, I decided to make a batch of home made cinnamon rolls. Dev really likes them and although the are EVIL to have around, I made them anyway.

Just use a basic white bread dough recipe (I used my Dad's). After the first rise, roll the dough into more or less a rectangle (mine is never a rectangle- more like some sort of Rorshact(sp) dough blob experiment)then slather it with butter or margarine (I used Brummel and Brown Yogurt Spread) and brown sugar mixed with cinnamon.

Use a serrated knife to cut the roll into slices. One recipe of bread dough made about 12 slices. I put 6 slices into one 8 inch cake pan (greased very well) and 6 slices into another.

Preheat the oven to 350 and put the rolls on top of the stove with a towel over them, so they can rise a little before you park them in the oven for 30 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, make a batch of cream cheese frosting, then cover the hot from the oven rolls with the icing. OR you can frost them individually as you eat them. We do this because we can't (well we could but we shouldn't) eat the whole pan at one sitting.

Tonight's dinner was left over mac and cheese and smothered pork chops. Again, I totally cheated on the chops. I used rib chops on the bone, about an inch and a half thick- salted them and dredged them in a little flour, seared them in my new skillet, and removed them to a plate. I added chopped onion to the skillet and let it soften up for about 3 minutes. I deglazed with a little white wine, then dumped half a bottle of Cattleman's BBQ sauce in the pan. I stirred it around a little, put the chops back in to finish cooking and popped on the lid. By the time I had the mac and cheeese reheated, the chops were cooked through. I didn't take pics because I didn't remember to until we were half way through dinner. They were really good, and I'm sure I'll use this technique again!

I wonder what trouble I can get into next weekend???

"There Will Be Blood"

More like "There Will Be Questions- and There Won't Be Any Answers."

Dev and I watched "There Will Be Blood" last night. I had heard it was a good movie, so we were looking forward to watching it.

We piled on the sofa with our deconstructed barbecue chicken pizza (the cornbread crust stuck to the skillet so badly it wouldn't come out, so I just piled the scrambled up cornbread on the plate and put the pizza toppings on it), and got ready to be spellbound. Only that didn't happen.

To be fair, some of my negative attitude about the movie may be due to the fact that the movie stuck several times, and we had to stop it, restart it and go through the chapter selection menu to get back to where we were. I'm not sure if this is a netflix problem, or a "Mimi needs a new DVD player" problem.

But even giving credit for that, I still didn't get the movie.

The performances were good and all that- I have always been a fan of Daniel Day Lewis. To me, the best character in the movie was that crazy preacher Eli. As a matter of fact, he made me think about that preacher character in the "Polstergeist" movies. I bet that's what the old preacher man was like when he was young- CREEPY.

Anyway- that character really skeezed me out. I probably should have felt sorry for him at the end of the movie when Daniel Day Lewis bludgeoned him to death with a bowling pin, but I just couldn't. I figure he had it coming.

I think the next movie in our queue (sp) is "Ironman." I'm pretty sure that won't disappoint. It should have enough gratuitous explosions and violence to hold our attention. Not to mention, Robert Downey, Jr. ain't too tough to look at, ya know??

Very Funny!

I just saw this youtube video on my friend Jill's blog and I thought it was very entertaining.

So I'm posting it on my site as well..

Pretty good stuff! Who amongst us hasn't suffered from this malady??

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese has to be the undisputed queen of the comfort food kingdom.

Today has been a pretty cold day, and when I got home from school, I was craving a great big bowl of gooey, cheesy macaroni.

I checked out a couple of Rachael Ray cookbooks from our library (I really try to hate her, but I get really good, quick dinner ideas from her books and magazine) and there are about a billion different variations on mac and cheese in both books.

I chose one that combined broccoli with mac and cheese. Of course, I didn't have any broccoli, so mine was actually pea, mushroom and corn mac and cheese.

The recipe was pretty standard- boil the pasta, make a white sauce, add humungus amounts of shredded cheese of your choice and stir everything together with the veggies. If you want to see the recipe, check out "Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats." But really- you can wing it and get the same results.

I will say that the resulting mac and cheese was really tasty- I think it's the addition of dijon mustard and a bit of cayenne to the finished cheese sauce that gives it that push into delicious.

I will make it again, although next time I will add some sort of protein to beef up the nutritional value.

I also think a Spanish version with chorizo and maybe some green chili would also be really good.

Potato Soup

When the weather around here starts getting bitterly cold (it was 6 degrees here this morning), I start thinking about soups and stews. Last weekend I had some chicken stock to use up- so I decided to make some potato soup.

This recipe is an old southern one from a book called (appropriately enough) "Southern Cooking." The author of the cookbook, Lorine Olliff Hendricks, is from Metter, GA. The book is pretty entertaining, and includes recipes for possum and squirrel- I would say that's pretty authentic.

I was looking for a potato soup recipe (cuz I didn't have any possum or squirrel laying around) and found one on page 5.

Here's the recipe:

3 slices bacon
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped fine
3 cups potatoes, sliced thin
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. water (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese for garnish
3 cups milk
1/2 c. cream

Cook bacon in heavy saucepan until crisp. Remove for later use (I garnished the soup with it). In the bacon drippings, saute onions and carrots. Add water (or stock) and potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are tender (it took about 20 minutes for me). Add seasonings and milk. Heat to boiling point and add cream. When ready to serve, sprinkle crumbled bacon and shredded cheese on top. Yields 1 1/2 quarts.

If I make this again, I would dice the potatoes instead of slicing them. Sliced potatoes are hard to eat in soup. I also think it needed more flavor. It tasted more like milk soup than potato soup.

But it did the trick and warmed everyone up, so it wasn't a complete loss.

Birthday- Revisited

Sorry about the whiny birthday post yesterday, but I really was feeling down and homesick.

As is usual, a new day brings new perspective. I realize that I have many many things to be thankful for.

All around me there are positive things happening- my other best friend Lisanne has a brand new baby to love and raise. I have a great job as librarian at a primary school. Dev graduates in a few months. I could go on and on.

After all the crying and carrying on, Dev put me back together and took me to dinner at the golf club. When we came home, I found roses and a brand new 12 inch, French copper skillet. It made me feel guilty for feeling so depressed.

Here's a pic.

So what makes you feel better when you get depressed? Comfort food, that's what. The next two posts will be about what I'm cooking to dig my way back up to the surface....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On My Birthday

My friend Diane wrote a post on her blog about turning 40. She recapped, in a few sentences, the decade she had just experienced, and shared her hopes for the next one.

This got me to thinking about my last decade. My 30's were a mixed bag. Meeting Devin was, of course, the highlight of my 30's, but there were quite a few other events tossed around in there.

I rekindled and strengthened my friendship with Diane. We have known each other for years, and our friendship has weathered some pretty rough times, but each year it seems we find more reasons why we will always be a part of each others' lives. We have gone through marriages (and matching divorces), freak dates by the thousands (between the 2 of us) untold numbers of bottles of wine (and pints at KB's)- I could go on and on. I guess this is part of the reason that my birthday this year hasn't been one of my best. I am homesick for possibly the first time since I moved out to Colorado, and I think one of the things I miss most is Diane. She just gets me. She knows I'm totally impractical, emotional and goofy. And she puts up with me anyway. I could have used some vino-Diane therapy today.

My family has gone through many changes in the last decade. Both of my parents have suffered ill health, and I worry about both of them quite a bit. I feel like I haven't been a part of my niece's and nephew's lives (especially in the last 3 years since I moved) and I need to stay in better contact with them. I miss sitting in the backyard talking with my sister. I miss talking with my Mom about everything (and nothing). Actually, I just miss being around to keep an eye on my Mom- you never know what she's gonna do. Her falling ill over the last 2 years has been one of the hardest things for me to deal with. It would be hard if I still lived in Savannah, but being 1700 miles away makes it even more awful. In short, I miss my Mommy.

My own health seems to have hit a rocky patch in the last couple of years as well. I have a whole new batch of things to worry about, and everyone knows I need more things to worry about.

With that said, I really am not miserable in Colorado. Meeting Devin was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. He loves me more than anything, and he puts up with my messiness and my emotionality and my impracticality. Believe me, I am not easy to live with. I love Colorado and I love spending time with Dev's family. I just wish there was a way to magically compromise and have everyone together (or at least in the same state).

Maybe part of my funk can be attributed to the fact that I haven't yet built the kind of life here that I had in Savannah. One could argue that it took 37 years to build that life and it doesn't happen overnight. I realize this, but I still miss the frequent gatherings with friends (book club, Braves games, tennis, oyster roasts, etc) and being more active in the community. I am not singing anywhere and I'm not in a book club. Those two things were a pretty big part of my life back home.

Perhaps I should put into practice some kind of plan to work towards building a more social, active life here in Colorado. I have joined a wonderful group of ladies who knit on Wednesdays, and that has become something I look forward to every week. And I have friends at school, we just never get together on the weekends- maybe I should try to remedy that. There are probably tons of things I could do to build relationships here in the Valley.

But maybe just for tonight, I can cry a little and miss the things I left back home. I hope everyone back there knows how much I love them and miss them.

Tomorrow I will wake up, kiss the love of my life and begin my new decade in Colorado...who knows what the next 10 years hold for me!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Binging, Changing Weather, and Other Things In My World

This is what the sky looked like Monday night on the way home from the grocery store. I swear, since I moved out here I've seen some of the wickedest looking clouds...

So I feel really gross right now because I just binged on potato chips. I usually don't let myself do that, but for some reason I could stop myself this evening. Why do I do this?? Now I feel all bloaty and fat and gross.

I think Fall is officially over around here. Wednesday on playground duty it snowed on us, and tonight our low is supposed to be 11. This morning when I left for my library conference it was 5.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I love my crockpot!

Tuesday didn't begin with much flair (or should that be flare?). I could not drag myself out of bed, and after getting ready for work it dawned on me that I didn't have a clue what we were going to have for dinner- which isn't good because I get home from work after 4, and Dev has to be in class at 5:30.

What to do?

Get out the crock pot- that's what.

I sliced half a white onion and threw it in the bottom of the crockpot with half a package of fresh sliced mushrooms. I threw 2 bone in chicken thighs on top, then poured about a cup of white wine and a can of low sodium cream of chicken soup all over it. I set it to low and ran out the door.

When I got home, I diced 3 large red potatoes and sloshed them in a pot with water to cover and 2 coarsely sliced cloves of garlic. After simmering them for 15 minutes, I drained them and added some plain yogurt, about 3 oz of cream cheese, salt and some fresh cracked black pepper. I smashed all of it together til it was lumpy.

Then I nuked some frozen early peas with a little butter and some salt.

Now- let me say this was a dirn good dinner- better than some of the ones I've planned out and actually worked on all day.

I know what you're thinking...."Canned soup- how drole." And I know where you're coming from. Had this been a weekend, I might have drained the juice from the chicken and thickened it with flour and butter and made a respectable pan sauce. But during the week that just isn't an option. And really, with the wine thrown in there, it's hard to tell that it's canned soup.

I will be doing this again- soon.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Dinner

This was our dinner tonight. Pork chops with an apple jelly/raspberry wasabi mustard glaze, green beans and smoked tomato grits.

The pork chops were pretty easy- sear them in the skillet, baste them with apple jelly melted in a pot with wasabi raspberry mustard, then finish them in a 400 degree oven.

The smoked tomato grits were the star of the show.

Dev and I were watching "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on food network the other day, and one of the dishes mentioned was smoked tomato grits. I just acquired a cast iron stove top smoker, so I decided to see what I could come up with.

I cut 3 roma tomatoes in half, one white onion in thirds and peeled 2 big cloves of garlic. I tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper, then put them in the smoker for 45 minutes. In the process, I managed to set a pot holder on fire....

Here's what the stuff looked like after it was smoked....

After it cooled, I threw all of it in a blender with enough chicken stock to puree everything.

I prepared a cup of grits using chicken stock instead of water, then after they were done, I stirred the smoked tomato/onion/garlic mixture in and let it cook another 10 minutes or so.

I decided to pour the grits into a pan and chill it, so I could cut out rounds and pan fry them. It didn't work very well, but that didn't change the fact that the grits were out of this world!

Smoking the garlic, I think, made all the difference.

Now I must wait an exceptable amount of time before I attack a home made brownie....

Sausage Hoagie Quiche

I was watching this show on Food Network the other day, and they were profiling some diner where the owner made his own italian sausage, then used it to make a sausage hoagie.

I started thinking that the ingredients for his sandwich (italian sausage, red peppers, onions and cheese) would be good in a quiche.

So, I defrosted a pie crust, browned some breakfast sausage and added some diced onions and red peppers. I put this mixture in the bottom of the pie crust, then sprinkled on about a cup of cheddar cheese.

In my blender I put 4 eggs, 2 cups of heavy cream, some freshly grated nutmeg and a few shots of hot sauce, then processed it for a few seconds. I poured the base mixture over the filling and baked it at 450 for the first 15 minutes, then cut the oven down to 300 and baked it for about another 45 minutes.

I haven't cut it yet, but I think it's gonna be good!

Saturday Lunch

I love cooking on the weekends.

This weekend, I have several projects going (trying to stay ahead of dinners for the week).

For some strange reason I was craving tuna salad yesterday, so I made open faced tuna melts for lunch.

I don't have a recipe for tuna salad, mostly because I always use what I have laying around.

For this version, I used one can of tuna packed in water, about 2 tablespoons of mayo, about 1 tablespoon of sweet pickle relish, about 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard, and one chopped up homemade dill pickle.

Then I toasted a couple of pieces of Dev's home made beer bread, slathered on the tuna salad and a coating of grated swiss cheese. After a few minutes under the broiler we had a pretty delicious lunch!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Paying Bills...Bleh

So I just finished paying bills. I hate this activity.

I am fortunate because I do have a tiny bit of money left over (I can't wait for a month when I don't owe the doctor half my salary). But it seems that amount gets tinier and tinier (is tinier a word??) every month.

It is slowly changing the way I plan meals and cook. A while back, I would sit down and look through my cooking magazines and decide which of the yummie looking recipes I wanted to make, then go to the store and get the stuff and cook. Now- I'm wondering how many things I can make with the pork roast that's on sale for 87 cents a pound. I'm trying to view this as an exercise in many wonderful meals can I make for the least amount of money. But sometimes, I admit, I'm spoiled and I get depressed about it. I can be such a brat.

So, I should just suck it up and be happy that I have a roof over my head and a wonderful person with whom to share my tiny bit of money. And, of course, there's the added comfort of knowing that I'm not alone in all of this. I am afraid there may be tough times ahead for everyone....

Monday, September 29, 2008

Busy Days

With Dev having all night classes this semester, weeknight dinner is a real struggle.

Tonight I decided to throw together a quick marinara to go on some pasta. I started by mincing garlic and throwing it in a pan with olive oil and some red pepper flakes. After it started warming up, I added dried oregano and some Greek Seasoning. Anchovy paste went in next. I let all that sizzle for a few minutes, then added a can of crushed tomatoes, some onion powder (I didn't have a real one or I'd have added that at the beginning with the garlic). Lastly, I added a few tablespoons of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes.

I boiled some penne and tossed it together with some parmesan cheese at the very end. Throw in a piece of home made bread, toasted, and I had dinner.

Devin loves pasta, so as he sat and practically licked his plate, it made me laugh, because he claims to HATE anchovies. He hates them in spite of the fact that almost every tomato based pasta dish he has ever eaten (that I cooked) had either an anchovy fillet in it or some anchovy paste.

The reason he gives for hating anchovies also entertains me. He says they are too small to clean properly, and he doesn't like the idea that he may be eating their "poop sacks." Maybe this amuses me because I spent so many years teaching middle school, and this sounds just like something one of my 7th graders would say. I don't know.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rosti A La Mimi

After our experience at Chalet-Swiss, I decided I would go home and make rosti for myself. I felt sure I could match or better what we had there.

But first, some explanation...What is rosti? According to Wikipedia...

"Rösti is a potato dish from Switzerland. It was originally a common breakfast eaten by farmers in the canton of Bern, but today is eaten all over Switzerland. Many Swiss people consider rösti a national dish. Today it is more commonly served to accompany other dishes, rather than for breakfast."

Armed with that knowledge, I woke up this morning and began my quest to make the best rosti I could possibly make with what I had on hand (because I was too lazy and broke to go to the grocery store).

Here's what I used to make 2 individual rosti:

4 handfuls of frozen grated hashbrowns (you could grate fresh potato, but who has that kinda time?)
4 thick slices bacon, diced (I used our home made bacon, but you could use regular thick cut bacon as well, just watch the salt in the rest of the dish)
1/4 c. white onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. cooked spinach
1 small tomato, diced
garlic powder (you could use real minced garlic, but I was afraid it would burn and nothing tastes worse than burned garlic)
grill seasoning (I used "21 Season Salute" from Trader Joe's, but anything will work)
4 eggs (1 to make the pancakes, 2 to scramble for Dev and 1 to fry for me)
2 handfuls of grated Swiss cheese
1 small piece of goat cheese

My experience was a bit different because I was making 2 individual rosti. Dev doesn't like spinach or goat cheese or fried eggs (I know- what's wrong with him?) so I made a separate one for him using scrambled eggs and no spinach or goat cheese. To make your life easier, you could do one big one in a 12 inch cast iron skillet and call it a day. I had 2 little 6 inch cast iron skillets, and really, they are so cute, I had to use them.


I divided the diced bacon and onion into the two cute cast iron skillets and began rendering the fat.

I took the bacon and onion out and set it aside. Then I put the hashbrowns in a bowl and added salt, pepper, garlic powder, grill seasoning and 1 beaten egg. I mixed it together pretty well.

I divided the pancake mixture evenly between the two skillets and put them over medium heat.

I let it sit (without messing with it) for about 5 minutes. Then, I used a spatula and miraculously flipped the pancake in one piece onto the other side. Don't worry if yours doesn't make it in one piece (I'm shocked mine did).

While the underside is cooking, sprinkle the cooked spinach over the pancake, then the bacon and onion.

Then add the diced tomato, the goat cheese and the swiss cheese. The one I have pictured is actually Dev's so it also has the scrambled eggs on it as well. Mine was topped with a fried egg after it came out of the oven.

Then I put both skillets under the broiler and cooked them til the cheese was bubbly and beginning to brown. After they were done, I fried an egg and put it on top of mine.

These turned out really well. I think it was better than what we had at the restaurant. Although it wasn't hard, it was time consuming. Of course, if Dev would not be so picky I could have made one and we could have split it. :)

I will make this again for sure, but it's strickly a weekend breakfast thing. There are an infinite number of variations, and next time I might try a slightly more Latino flavored version, using green chilies and salsa.

Here's the last shot of our Rosti breakfast....

I wonder what we'll dream up next weekend.....?

Chalet-Swiss- A Review

I have been fairly vocal about the dearth of fine dining establishments around the Alamosa area. I think the best overall meal we've had here in the Valley was at the Creede Hotel.

Because of this, I am always on the look out for that one place to single handedly turn my attitude around- knock me off my culinary feet, as it were.

I haven't found it yet. I had high hopes for Chalet-Swiss, but it just didn't hit the mark.

Here is the one thing I'll cut them some slack for- it was 11:30am on a Sunday. Maybe you have the B team on duty then and they are hung over. I don't know.

We arrived at the Chalet-Swiss after taking a drive to look at fall foliage. As we passed by, I saw it was open and suggested we stop there for lunch. A good friend of mine had suggested it highly, so I figured we were in good hands.

We walked into the foyer/reception area (which was devoid of human life) and stood there. And stood there. And stood there. We peeked through the glass doors and saw people eating, so we knew there was someone on duty SOMEWHERE. Finally, we walked through the doors and proceded to choose a table by the window.

At that point, a very staunch looking woman (I'll call her Heidi because that's the most Swiss sounding name I can think of, and she never bothered to introduce herself to us)came from the back and informed us we could have a table for two (none available near a window). I looked around and noticed there were around 12 table tops and 2 other tables were occupied. Would it have killed her to let us have a table by the window? I think not. Heidi never cracked a smile. She handed us menus and took our drink orders and disappeared again into the kitchen.

Dev ordered the veal bratwurst and I ordered the rosti of the day. A rosti is very similar to a tricked out potato pancake. I had never actually had one, and was very excited to finally get my chance.

Heidi came back with our drinks and a basket of bread.

Nice looking, huh? It was pretty good. The butter wasn't room temp, which really bothers me in restaurants, cuz how hard is it to let it sit out for a little while to soften up? I mean, why should I have to fight with it and tear my pretty little piece of bread? I guess that's picky, but that's how I feel about that.

A while later, Heidi brought us our food. Now- let me say the food was REALLY GOOD. Dev's bratwurst was perfect. It was seasoned well and cooked just right.

My rosti was delicious! It was a thick potato pancake, smothered with sauteed spinach, sliced tomatoes, slices of bacon and melted emmethaler(sp) cheese.

Heidi came back and forth, filling water glasses, still without smiling, and finally brought us our check.

Would I go there again? Probably. I wouldn't mind trying dinner because they had fondue listed on the dinner menu and I LOVES me some fondue. I would do it in spite of the service, however.

It's not that Heidi was a bad waitress. She was just completely un-personable. Chalet-Swiss is not a cheap restaurant. Atmosphere and service should be impeccable in a relatively expensive restaurant.

Like I said at the beginning, maybe she was hung over. But if you go eat at Chalet-Swiss, please don't go on Sunday morning!

Bad, Bad Blogger

I have been so bad about posting to my blog. And I keep promising I'll do better, but I don't. But this time I really mean it. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Polston Primary School Library

After over a month of sweating and fussing, Devin and I finally finished the library at Polston this week.
I definitely think it is an improvement over the way it was before. Hopefully, the kids think it is fun and inviting.
I could never have done it without Devin. He hung all the decorations and even made some of them.
All in all I'd say it's a pretty cool place to work.


Moon, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

This is how the moon looked from our front window last night. Beautiful, isn't it?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Devin!!!

Dev's birthday bash was a big hit on Saturday. This pic pretty much sums up the event.

I'll post more about it later, but this pretty much speaks for itself!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Dev and I are headed to Montrose this weekend to celebrate his 40th birthday with his family.

I will take many pics during the birthday bash and humiliate Dev by publishing them right here!

So have a great weekend and I'll talk to you Sunday night!


Ugh! I hate it when the Braves play the Rockies.

I root for the Rockies all during the season because Colorado is my adopted home. But when they play the Braves, that always means trouble. How can I turn my back on almost 20 years of loyalty to the Braves??

Misery. Pure misery.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sunday Dinner

Sunday dinner was all about comfort food.

I made smashed potatoes which I find much lower maintenance than mashed potatoes. I just boil some chopped red potatoes with a few garlic cloves and a bay leaf, then remove the bay leaf and smash the potatoes and garlic with some butter, a little salt and pepper and about 3 tablespoons of cream cheese.

I also had to use up a few calabacitas I had in the fridge, so I diced half an onion, 2 calabacitas, a yellow squash and 2 roma tomatoes and sauteed them in a little olive oil and red pepper flakes. I added a few cups of sweet white corn kernels towards the end.

And the main course was My Momma's Salmon Patties. This recipe has been around forever. When I was a teenager and had braces, whenever I would get the bands tightened and my mouth was sore, Mom made salmon patties and mashed potatoes.

The recipe is pretty simple:

Weezy's Salmon Patties

1 can red salmon (picked through for bones and skin)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1/4 c. sauteed onion
1 egg, beaten
3 t. lemon juice
1/3 c. milk
2 T. mayo
Cracker Crumbs
butter flavored crisco

This makes me laugh because I know my Mom never measured ANYTHING- so I don't when I make these.

Drain and debone the salmon; set aside. Mix 1/4 of the can of soup, the oatmeal, the onion, the egg, the lemon juice (she probably used bottled- I used fresh) and the drained salmon. Make sure to blend all ingredients well. Make small patties and roll in cracker crumbs. Fry until brown.

I used panko bread crumbs instead of cracker crumbs. I also formed the patties and put them in the ice box for about 30 minutes to firm them up and help them hold together better in the skillet. I also used a little olive oil instead of butter flavored crisco.

You can make a sauce out of the remainder of the soup, the milk and the mayo. I used yogurt instead of mayo and added a shot of vermouth at the end to kick it up a bit.

I'm not sure that Dev thought these were very good, but I loved them. I took one to school today for lunch. And since I doubt he'll eat any, I'll probably be doing the same thing for the next 4 days in a row! :)

Saturday In the Valley

We started our Saturday at the Farmers' Market, as usual. The SLV Big Band was playing, which is always good entertainment, so we walked around for a little while. We really didn't need anything, so we didn't stay long.

After perusing the market, we headed out to Monte Vista to visit Home Lake. Home Lake is a soldiers and sailors home. Dev tried to explain how that is a little different than a state veterans' home, but I don't remember what he said.

Anyhoo- it is a beautiful place. There are older buildings there that I would surmise date back at least to the WWII era, as well as modern buildings. Here's a shot of the old pool hall...

I took a whole slew of pics and uploaded them to my flickr's the link to the set.

But by far, the most striking thing on the campus is the veterans' cemetary. The graves there are from the Civil War forward. We saw graves of veterans from the Spanish American War as well.

The hardest thing to see where the few graves there from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Before I met Dev, I never really thought about the people currently serving in our military the same way I thought about older veterans (say from WWII or Korea or even Vietnam). But now, listening to the stories he tells about his time in Iraq, or just thinking of him all the way over there, without his family and friends, doing everything he can to serve his country, my eyes have been opened. When I think of how lucky I am that Dev came home, and how different things could have been, it makes me so thankful for him and so sad for the families of the men and women who won't make it home. To see a new grave, with a picture of a young man next to it, who was killed before his 19th birthday, is very hard to stomach. I can not even imagine what a tragedy like that does to a family.

I know I have been very verbal about my opposition to the war over in Iraq, but that doesn't mean that I don't support the troops 100%. They do not get to choose where they go, nor do they get to question why they are being sent. Right or wrong- good reasons or bad ones- they are there. And many of them will never be the same because of it. I know everyone is saying this, but I think it is true. If you see someone either in the military or who is a veteran, you really should thank them for the sacrifices they are willing to make in the line of duty.

In my own family, my nephew, Michael, has chosen to join the Marines and will go to basic training at the end of October. Even though way deep down I'm afraid for him and I will worry about him, my overwhelming feeling is one of pride. I think it takes a lot of guts and bravery to make that decision, no matter what other options are available.

I won't get to see Michael before he leaves, but I hope he knows how much I love him and how proud I am of him.

Date Night

It's not often that Dev and I decide to have an old fashioned date night. There are several reasons for this (we've been shacked up for over 2 years now, there aren't many places to go here in Alamosa, everything is ridiculously expensive, etc.), but really there's no excuse.

So after work on Friday, I announced to Dev that he was taking me out on a date. I had heard a new steak house opened out between Blanca and Fort Garland, so I figured we'd give it a try. Plus- Dev spent 6 weeks out at Fort Garland this summer at a field archaeology school and learned about some really cool things at the fort I wanted to see.

I took some pics while we were out there and posted them to my flickr page. Here's the link to the set.

Dinner was ok. It was pretty typical for what you find in this area. Dev had a steak and rice and I ordered the ribs. My portion was huge (I have a knack for choosing the hugest thing on the menu), so I ate about 3 of the ribs and half my baked potato. The nice thing about that is, you always have enough for lunch the next day. There was enough left for both of us to have ribs the next day.

On the way back to Alamosa, I shot a pic of some clouds out the window and when I uploaded the pics to the puter, I was shocked at how neat the pic looked. Here it is...

I didn't even play with the color saturation.

I think the sunsets are one of the best things about living around here. The sky seems so huge and the colors so deep, it never fails to take my breath away.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rainy Evenings

It's raining here right now, and instead of looking out the window, I decided to post a little something to my blog.

We have had MAJOR computer issues around here (a laptop that fell off a table and won't operate any longer) so we had to buy a new computer.

I'm happy to say the new desktop is up and running, and I'm still getting used to Vista.

School is keeping me crazy busy, so posts have been few and far between.

I've been cooking up a storm, but have been in such a rush, I haven't taken any pics. I will get back to normal, though- I promise.

Dev cooked tonight. He made a pork loin in the crock pot with some yummie mustard-cranberry gravy stuff. We also had wild rice and steamed snow peas.

Tomorrow night I will make smothered chicken burritos. I will try to slow down enough to take a pic and blog the recipe. I am using some leftover chicken/pinto bean filling I made a while back and put in the freezer.

I'm not sure what our plans are for our day off tomorrow. I wouldn't mind staying around the house. I am still working on my mammoth summer project- putting all my recipes on the computer. This has turned out to be a project of biblical proportions- really. I have thousands of recipes written on everything from envelopes to napkins, to receipts from the grocery store. And they are all in little boxes and binders everywhere. Going through them to see what I want to keep took forever, before I even began word processing them. Ugh.

I'm off to the living room to slog away at a few more recipes before I fall asleep.

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to the Grind...

School has started around here for Dev and me, which means things have been really really busy.

Dev is taking all night classes this semester, which means I get off work at 4pm and he has to be in class at 5:30. This makes dinner somewhat challenging.

Because of recent health issues, eating out is not a realistic option for me, so I have had to become much more organized and deliberate about planning meals. I had no idea how much of my time would be taken up by the planning and then the prepping of meals.

Prices at the grocery store are still climbing higher and higher, so in addition to the time/diet crunch, there's also budget to consider. I am trying to become a much better pantry cook. When planning this week's meals, instead of leafing through hundreds of magazines and blogs like I normally would, I went instead to the pantry. What could I make from what I had, adding a few fresh items from the grocery store? It turned out I could make quite a few things. We have eaten well this week- BBQ chicken, shrimp Pad Thai, some really good crock pot oatmeal, pasta with zucchini and parmesan, etc. The problem from the blogging perspective is I haven't had time to get any pics of anything!

We did make one new purchase this month. We bought an ice cream maker. And boy have we enjoyed it. So far we have made 2 batches of green tea ice cream, one batch of white Russian ice cream (omg- this stuff is addictive) and tonight I'm making a batch of watermelon sorbet.

I'm rambling now, and I have a quiche to put together for lunches for the rest of the week.

Hopefully the posting will get better as I get back into the rhythm of this schedule...

Sunday, August 17, 2008


This is a croissant spread with the strawberry rhubarb jam Dev made last night. I can't tell you how yummie it was. If he will tell me how he made it, I'll post about it later.

Bad Weather!

Dev just took that picture out our office window. It looks a lot closer than it is, but it's still pretty frightening.

I wasn't sure who to call about it, because I'm sure someone wants to know. It's gone now, but I'm sure the conditions are still right to spawn another one.

I ended up calling the non-emergency police line (got a machine wanting me to leave a message- not helpful), then I called our local public radio station. Their suggestion was to call the State Patrol and report it to them. So that's what I did. The person on the phone said they would report it to the national weather people, but there wasn't really anything to be done unless it touched down and damaged property. I guess that makes sense, but it makes me feel pretty helpless.

Now I'm glued to the window, looking for another funnel cloud. What a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, huh?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Farmers' Market Goodies!

IMG_2347, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Here's what we brought back from the Alamosa Farmers' Market today.

The cantaloupe is already diced and in the ice box.

Dev is hard at work brandying the peaches.

The beat will be roasted tomorrow for salads this week.

The peppers will be stuffed for dinner.

The calabacitas will be diced and sauted with some corn, the red onion and maybe some tomatoes.

The garlic will go in just about everything!!! :)

I'll do posts on the stuff as it happens.

New School Year...New Job!

IMG_2341, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

So this is where I will hang my hat this year at Polston.

It looks really plain right now, but Dev and I are hard at work, trying to make it much more kid friendly.

So far we've added some plants, some hanging art work (Devin Allen originals) and a few posters.

I'm still looking for more things to hang from the ceiling and jazz the place up a bit.

I'll be sure to post pics of the finished product!

Quinoa Bake

One of my new favorite foods is quinoa. I have found I can substitute it in any dish that calls for rice or couscous.

And completely out of character for me, I like this AND it's actually better for me.

So anyhoo- I found this recipe somewhere (don't remember where) and wrote it down on a scrap of paper. I finally got around to making it for dinner day before yesterday. It contains 2 of Dev's least favorite things- pinto beans and cottage cheese. However, he went back for seconds, so it can't be that bad....

Quinoa Bake

1 1/3 c. chicken stock
2/3 c. quinoa, rinsed
1 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. sliced green onions
1/2 t. coriander
1/4 t. salt
dash hot sauce
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. cottage cheese
1 (8 ounce) container plain yogurt
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan combine stock, quinoa, carrots, green onions, coriander, salt and hot sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
Stir in pinto beans, cottage cheese, yogurt and parsley. Spoon into lightly greased baking dish and bake uncovered for 25 minutes on 350 degrees. Sprinkle cheese and back another 5 minutes or so.

It really was good, and pretty good for you. The pic doesn't do it justice.

This recipe will most definitely go into the regular rotation!
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