Thursday, August 17, 2017


When you saw the title, what did you think would be in this recipe? Well, I learned recently of a new type of squash, called Chayote. Apparently it's used in Mexican cooking. And since it's always a good to try new things, we did. You could use this raw in a salad, but I decided to cook it, and that is pretty simple.

Just wash and slice the squash. (I cut it in quarters and removed a bit of the center, like I would cut a pear.) Saute it in a bit of olive oil and butter with some sliced onions. Season with garlic, oregano and salt and pepper.

We used it as a side dish for Jerk Pork and Black Beans and Rice.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Second Drink

The new ingredient in this drink is Amer Picon. I may not be too familiar with cocktail ingredients, but I have at least heard of gin and rum. I've never heard of Amer Picon liqueur, have you? Anyway, part of the fun of trying new recipes is learning new trivia. So, here's what I've learned:

Amer Picon is a bitter-sweet French aperitif. (“Amer” is the French version of the Italian “Amaro,” which translates as “bitter.”) It starts with dried orange peels that are macerated (soaked) in alcohol and then distilled. (This basically creates a flavored vodka.) The distillate is then infused with gentian root and quinquina (to add bitterness), and topped off with sugar (for sweetness) and caramel (for coloring).

The liqueur was created in 1837 by GaĆ©tan Picon who—after contracting malaria while stationed in Algeria—infused alcohol with dried orange zest, gentian, quinine, sugar syrup and caramel before distilling it. Picon, who had apprenticed at French distilleries before joining the army, already knew a bit about chemistry and attributed his recovery to the botanical blend he’d created.

I learned that even if I wanted to buy this liqueur, I couldn't, because it's no longer available in America. Because of that, this bartender tried recreating the formula. He basically added some orange tincture (vodka infused with orange peel) and blood orange bitters (a non-alcoholic flavoring) to a bitter liqueur. Since we're going non-alcoholic, and since we only need 2 dashes, I figure the blood orange bitters will work just fine by itself. Now, let's see if I can find a jar!


1 ounce white grape juice (instead of rum)
1 ounce pineapple juice
1/4 ounce lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
1 tablespoon sugar

Shake all the ingredients together with ice and serve in a tall tulip glass.


Mushroom Caesar Salad

This recipe came from Delish, and was pretty good. While I may not add mushrooms next time, I think it's a pretty good Caesar dressing. 

Caesar Dressing

1 hard-cooked egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste, optional

Combine ingredients in small food processor. Toss with Romaine, Parmesan cheese and croutons. Add fresh or cooked mushrooms, or maybe even chicken or shrimp, whatever you'd like. This was enough dressing for two large servings.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sweet and Sour Pork

One of the recipes Dad wanted to try was Sweet and Sour Pork. We used the recipe from their Betty Crocker Cookbook, with Mom's notations that it was a good one. And it was!

Sweet and Sour Pork

2 pounds pork boneless top loin, cut into 3/4" pieces
Vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks, drained and syrup reserved
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 medium carrots, cut into thin diagonal slices
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
8 cups hot cooked rice

Beat flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup cold water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the egg in large bowl with hand beater until smooth. Stir pork into batter until well coated.

Add pork pieces, one at a time, to hot oil. Fry about 20 pieces at a time about 5 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels; keep warm.

Add enough water to reserved pineapple syrup to measure 1 cup. Heat syrup mixture, brown sugar, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the soy sauce, carrots and garlic to boiling in large pot; reduce heat to low.

Cover and simmer about 6 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water; stir into sauce.

Add pork, pineapple and bell pepper. Heat to boiling, stir constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Serve with rice. Makes 8 servings.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Buttermilk Pancakes

The author of "Oh, Sweet Basil" did some experimenting with buttermilk pancakes, and her "melt-in-your-mouth" recipe lived up to its reputation.

Melt in Your Mouth Buttermilk Pancakes
Serves: 8-12 pancakes (3-4 servings)

1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups of sifted flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, slightly whisked
2 cups of buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted and melted

Preheat a griddle to medium heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk. Drizzle in the butter as you continue to whisk.
Switch to a wooden spoon and make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients and stir until almost completely combined. Please remember, the more you stir pancakes the more flat and tough they will be so please mix until a few streaks of flour are remaining.
Butter the griddle and scoop ⅓ cup of batter and cook until bubbles begin to form, flip and cook until golden. Serve immediately.

Note: We tried it again, cutting the recipe in half, for just the two of us, and since we didn't have 1 cup of buttermilk, but only 1/4 cup, I just added regular milk to makeup the difference, and it turned out just great.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Pot Pie or Dumplings?

I didn't feel like making what was on the menu today. Actually, I didn't feel like making anything. I imagine we all have days like that. So, I googled "what to make for dinner tonight" and took a quiz. It wasn't very helpful either.

Yesterday I roasted a turkey and this morning I boiled the frame, so I had plenty of turkey and broth, but I didn't really want to make soup. It is July, after all! After spending too much time trying to come up with an idea (can we say "procrastination"?), I decided I liked the idea of tukey pot pie. However, I didn't feel like making a pie crust (mainly because it isn't terribly healthy), but figured dumplings would be a good compromise. Although it is July, it has been a very rainy day, so comfort food sounded quite appealing.

That's a nice long story to say here's what we had for dinner!

Basically I combined turkey and vegetables, shook some turkey broth and flour together to make a sauce, added a bit a cream just because I could, plus some herbs and spices, poured the hot mixture into a casserole and topped it with biscuits.* I baked it at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and it turned out quite nicely.

I would copy the recipe here, but this is one of those "adjust to your liking" "doesn't need a recipe" recipe, so I won't. Have fun creating your own version!

*In my surfing I saw the suggestion to substitute cornmeal for part of the flour, and since I had corn in the filling I did. However, next time I'd stick to just regular flour.

08/29/2017 - Today I decided to do the long version, making two pot pies and freezing them for later. Once again, it's really still a process - make a turkey gravy and mix in cooked turkey and vegetables, season as desired (I used thyme, sage, marjoram, salt and pepper), plop into a pie crust and bake. You can also freeze first; here's the recipe I looked at for inspiration - Freezer Chicken Pot Pie.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The First Drink!

The recipe said to use a large wine glass, but 1/4 cup of liquid doesn't fill it up very much.
The first drink we tried was Bataan Royale which calls for gin, white rum, cherry liqueur, triple sec, grenadine and lime juice.

Those first four ingredients contain alcohol, so we made some substitutions and came up with this.

Virgin Bataan Royale 

1 tablespoon juniper berry infusion (see here)
1 tablespoon white grape juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon cherry syrup (from a can of cherries)
5 dashes grenadine (or 5/8 oteaspoon)
3 dashes triple sec* (or 3/8 of a teaspoon)
Orange slice

Mix everything except the orange slice and shake to combine well. Serve over ice in a large stemmed glass and garnish with an orange slice.

*I found a non-alcoholic version (basically water, corn syrup, and orange extract) at the grocery store, but you could also use orange juice.

It would be nice to have a back stories for these drinks, but the cook book doesn't include them. All I know is that Bataan is a province in the Philippines. I guess we'll have to imagine our own story for how this drink got its name.

Wayne felt like he was doing a science experiment, and he looked like it, too, with all the different jars and measuring cups and spoons. It turned out to be a pleasant experiment, definitely a taste combination we've never had before, kind of light and refreshing, and we're looking forward to seeing what the next drinks taste like.