From the Blog

Cookies, Cooking, Etc, Part II

I little while ago, I complained about cookies. But I also talked about how I like to cook, and I feel like I’ve gotten more skilled in the kitchen as I’ve gotten older. Don’t get me wrong, though. My favorite go-to lunch is still a box of Annie’s Shells and Cheddar with some extra cheese and sour cream mixed in. I’m not a serious adult here.

I have a few specialties that I make from memory that don’t require recipes, like scampi, risotto, granola, chili, or chicken noodle soup. Or simple red sauce for pasta. Dave is also a great cook, and has his specialties. He makes homemade bread, pizza dough, pad thai, puttanesca, rustic pesto. He also, like many dads, is the Breakfast Master in our house.

We got rid of most of our cookbooks. I love the idea of a stack of well-loved cookbooks, spattered with oil and wrinkly from use. But we  realized we never used most of our cookbooks, because we were looking up stuff online.

betterhomespage We kept a couple of classics, like The Joy of Cooking and The New Best Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, because it seemed like sacrilege to not have those. I kept Vegetable Soups because it has an amazing Spicy Chick Pea and Tomato soup that I love. I kept a vintage copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that someone gave me a long, long time ago. It’s all cute and nostalgic and housewifey and has recipes like Prune Souffle.

But we mostly look stuff up online. There are a few recipes that I use over and over. Most of the time, I just search for the recipes that I’ve used, rather than dig through my bookmarks.

So. Recipes. I’m going to list them here. I suppose sharing my cooking and eating habits is a little like sharing my medicine cabinet or my undie drawer, which, just given enough time, I would probably do.

Homemade Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage Dave usually makes the “sausage” in our house. I use “quotes” because we aren’t stuffing anything into animal casings, and we don’t actually use pork or beef. We use ground turkey. We (usually Dave) mixes the seasonings in with ground turkey meat and we use it with pasta. There’s not much of a difference in the taste, and the turkey is a bit healthier. Also, Breakfast Sausage Seasonings. Excellent with biscuits and gravy.

Pasta with Sausage, Basil and Mustard This recipe is an attempt to recreate a dish served at Fulio’s in Astoria, Oregon. I use the above sausage recipe, and usually, I substitute sour cream for the heavy cream (trying to be healthier over here). The result is probably nothing like what you would get in a restaurant, but still damn tasty.

Bok Choy We had a produce delivery for a while and we often got veggies we had never tried cooking before. Boy choy was one of them, and it turned out to be a favorite. As she says on the site, you can use this method of cooking for other veggies.

Baked Brown Rice We don’t cook rice very often, but when we do, it’s brown, and it’s baked. This is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe and it has never failed us.

Blondies I like baking blondies, and I like using this recipe as a base to add whatever I am craving at the moment, usually chocolate and peanut butter chips. But sometimes white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Sometimes butterscotch and coconut. Etc.

Chocolate Chip Biscotti Okay, I have a thing in the morning. I wake up at 5:30 every day and my wonderful husband usually has a cup of coffee waiting for me. In those bleary first minutes of the morning, I usually want a little thing to nibble on as I sip my coffee. If we have cookies in the house, I nibble cookies. But as I’ve mentioned, I don’t need cookies. I want them, but I don’t need them. So I was thinking I wanted to bake something that wouldn’t be all that pleasant to snack on all day, but would make me happy as I drank my coffee in the morning. Enter biscotti. You need coffee to eat biscotti. I used this recipe, but altered it by reducing the flour and replacing it with an equal amount of cocoa. The biscotti ended up tasting like brownies. Not a bad thing. Biscotti is messy to make, which is for the best. I don’t bake it very often.

Swamp Chili I had a slow cooker cookbook that got downsized, and this recipe was in it. I usually don’t look at the recipe for chili. But I found myself continuously trying to describe how I make my chili, and it made me exhausted. Three types of meat. Three types of spice. Slow cooker. This chili is awesome.

Roasted Chicken with Rosemary We don’t roast whole chickens very often. And I’m not a huge fan of rosemary. But as it turns out, there are a couple of big rosemary bushes around our apartment. And a whole roasted chicken is a handy thing. We may do this more as the weather in Portland gets progressively shittier cools off.

Biscuits We like biscuits in this house. No, I don’t think you understand. WE LIKE BISCUITS IN THIS HOUSE. This recipe is not the healthiest, but it is foolproof and they come out awesome every time. I use butter instead of shortening. BISCUITS!!!! 

Tomato Pie God, I love this recipe in the summer. Some friends made it for us a few summers ago and gave us the recipe. I wait all year for good tomatoes to make this pie. It’s the fucking best.

French Onion Soup Another thing I don’t make very often, but when I do, I make it a certain way. A ton of onions. A giant dutch oven. And you caramelize the onions down and it seems to take all day to do it. But it’s so worth it.

Congo Bars Similar to blondies. Except, I think of congo bars as having everything in them all at once. Chocolate, coconut, caramel, etc. I’d eat these over plain chocolate chip cookies all day long.

Chicken Adobo We love this dish. It’s one of those meals that feels like a treat. I think my one alteration is that I add fresh ginger. This particular recipe doesn’t seem to have too much vinegar, which we encountered in the past.

Apple Cake in an Iron Skillet I come back to this recipe again and again. I use it not just for apples, but whatever fruit we might have on hand. Berries work great in the summer. I use about a quarter of the butter she calls for in this recipe, because I don’t live on a ranch and my fat ass doesn’t get exercise chasing cattle. I replace some of the butter with canola oil for the cake. Works every time.

Homemade Pasta I love pasta. No, I don’t think you understand. Pasta will be my downfall. It really will. I will probably die, jiggling and pudgy, from a lifetime of eating too much pasta. I fucking love pasta. I like making it myself also, if I have the energy. Making pasta is a mess and it is actually physically labor intensive. I don’t have a goddamn standing KitchenAid, so I do everything by hand. The pasta is worth it, I guess. But I’d much rather have a housekeeper that lives in a closet or a kitchen cabinet in our house who scurries out and quietly cleans the kitchen, and hell, the rest of the house, while a second housekeeper/masseuse rubs me after I’m done eating my pasta. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Killer Shrimp I always end up altering this recipe to match it to my memory of eating at Killer Shrimp. I add a bit of sugar. I fiddle with the spices. This is always a good meal for a crowd.

Moroccan Tagine Chicken I’ve thrown together iterations of chicken-in-a-skillet recipes, and this one is always awesome. I don’t actually have a tagine because we fancy ourselves goddamn “minimalists.” A skillet works fine.

Baked Polenta Polenta is fun to make. It’s great with the recipe above.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Here’s where this all began. Fucking chocolate chip cookies. I don’t have a super favorite recipe. I usually search and see what looks promising. And almost always, I try to cut out some of the fat to alleviate some of my guilt. So my cookies never really come out the same. Sometimes they are great. Sometimes they are just “okay.” We we always eat every last one of them, because they are goddamn cookies. Do you let cookies go to waste in your house? What the hell is wrong with you?


  1. Dang it, I get so hungry reading this post, I have to stop and then read it again later..

  2. Swamp chili! looks great will give it a try.. my wife is a fantastic cook…. except for chili which i love.

    We must mention the Sun! still up & strong, no winter for us! We are now SoCal with color. your parents must feel right at home.

  3. Not kidding about the biscuits, yo.

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