Bless His Noodly Appendages

I made some pork ramen so that I would have an excuse to load it up with my chili oil.  The white blob is an egg poached in the broth.  Alas, I let it simmer for too long and the yolk got hard.


20160123_184203[1] (1600x1060)I snapped this one from the front door the other day with my cell phone.  The scene is lit from behind me by the porch light and from the side by a security lamp mounted on the front of the garage.  I like the textures in the photo.  Lots of grain from the high ISO number the camera chose due to the relatively low light level.PICT9811 (1600x1060)We see the (probably) same fox from last week, this time at night.  He’s in a different spot this time but not that far from where the other camera is set up.  It’s sniffing at the spot where Mrs J dumps corn, no doubt drawn by the scent left by mice and squirrels.DSC_1721 (1600x1060)Polenta is something we’ve begun to make and use in lieu of pasta.  It’s a nice change of pace.  These slices have been fried in olive oil and served under a meat sauce made with Italian sausage and tomatoes.  Tasty!DSC03116 (1600x1200)Here’s a nice kitteh.  She’s 5 months old, named Macy and is ready to go.DSC_1718 (1600x1060)We tried a pressure cooker recipe for some BBQed ribs the other day and didn’t give them enough time.  I abandoned the recipe and made stock with the rack, boiling it all day with assorted veggies after washing the sauce off.  Frugal!  These pork noodles were the result.  I’ve plated them with roasted sprouts and sweet potatoes.IMG_20150806_113029371 (1600x1200)Moar kittehs!  These guys are exhausted from a play session and are in the middle of a lap nap.20160124_141640[1] (1600x1060)Mrs J’s Famous Blueberry Pie!  In a rather ill advised move, we tried out a dump cake made with frozen berries, white cake mix, and a can of diet 7-Up.  We salvaged the berries and the pie is the result.  Tasty!DSC_1722 (1600x1060)

Lo Mein Double Delight

DSC_1303 (1600x1060)Years ago we used to frequent a Chinese restaurant where I almost always ordered their “Kung Pao Triple Delight” – a Kung Pao chicken dish that also included shrimp and pork.  The triple delight referred to the three kinds of meats.  This was the place (and the dish) where I learned there could be a huge difference between ordering extra peppers and extra hot.  The waitress was kept busy refilling this red faced and sweaty (and stubborn!) patron’s glass with ice water.

The double delight in the post title reflects the shrimp and chicken in the dish.  I do have a little heat in this one via a dollop of chili garlic paste in the sauce and a couple of jalapenos with the veggies but not so much that Mrs J noticed enough to mention.  The chicken was dredged in corn starch and then fried in oil and set aside until the dish came together in the wok after the veggies had cooked down for a few minutes.  The noodles were pre-cooked and oiled to keep them from sticking together.  The chicken, noodles, and shrimp were all combined with the veggies and the sauce to warm them all for the platter.

Friday Recipe Exchange: What’s in the Pantry?

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The sun is peaking through the clouds after two days of excellent rain. A little thunder, a steady drizzle and snow in the mountains, perfect Colorado fall.

Tonight’s recipe exchange was prompted by a friend of mine who recently lost her husband. I was working at her house and she asked me to come into the kitchen and began going through her pantry, freezer and refrigerator and filling a bag for me with things she didn’t think she’d be able to use. She doesn’t really like to cook much and cooking for one can be a challenge. That’s when I had an idea. I asked her if I could come over every once in a while and cook for her and use up a lot of these amazing ingredients. Her husband was a bit of gourmet, so the whole kitchen is filled with mouth-watering things.

What sold her on the idea was my desire to just pop in, look around the kitchen and come up with something on the spot based on what ingredients sparked my imagination. She thought that sounded like fun and I agree. One of the things I’m really looking forward to is using the black rice. I’ve never cooked with it before.

So for tonight, I went looking through my recipe files to find the ones that started out as a “whatever is in the pantry” meals. They are rarely the same thing twice, but I put the basics in a recipe.

Here are a few:

Pineapple and Bacon Fried Rice is one of the reasons I keep Ponzu Sauce on hand. Click here for that recipe and click here to see all of JeffreyW’s photos and recipes for a variety of fried rice dishes (including the one pictured above).

Pasta is always a great base for a quick dinner.  Here is my Pasta Rustica, (basic recipe here), that can include any number of items from your vegetable drawer or freezer.

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Of course JeffreyW has a great photo of Beef and Broccoli. Yum.

Spicy Beef and Broccoli (click here) is one of my favorite dinners to make with sirloin. And it’s great if you forgot to take the meat out to thaw until late. There is also a full menu, recipes and shopping list at that link.

I thought I hated vegetables, until I had Stir Fried Vegetables in a Bread Bowl, (recipe here) at a local restaurant. Quick and easy, serve over rice or noodles if your basket weaving skills are minimal (that would be me).

Finally, the weekly dinner menu starts with a basic recipe that you can jazz up with whatever you have on hand, Beef Vegetable Soup and Apple Pumpkin Butter. Menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

What are your go-to “raid the pantry” meals? Are there ingredients you always keep on hand for quick dinners? What’s on the menu for the weekend? I’m not sure there will be a recipe exchange next week, I’m hosting a dinner. Stay tuned…

For tonight’s featured recipe, I kept it as simple as it gets. If you can’t find pineapple salsa, JeffreyW has a recipe for it.

Frijoles Ananás

  • 2-15 oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz pineapple salsa
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp chili powder (start with 1 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4  tsp to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (start with 1/4 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

To serve:

  • 8 oz shredded cheddar
  • 6 to 8 taco size tortillas, warmed


Add beans, salsa and spices to a saucepan, bring to a low boil for 1 minute, reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes, add cilantro and simmer for 5 additional minutes. Serve with cheese and tortillas.

If you want to make it a one-pot meal, add corn or cubed zucchini to the mix for a complete dinner. Serves 4 generously.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara



Lo Mein Pr0n – with Chicken and Shrimp

DSC_8166 (1600x1060)Wikipedia tells me that “lo mein” translates from the Cantonese to “stirred noodles”.  This dish had chicken breast chunks and shrimp with broccoli, onions, and carrots along with rehydrated mushrooms that I bought dried.  I’ve learned to simmer them for at least an hour before they are anywhere near tender enough to eat, and don’t try to save the stems.  I simmered these with the dried cayenne peppers, and used the broth from that in making the brown sauce.  I ran across a good discussion of brown sauces here.  Mine has dark soy, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, chicken paste in that mushroom stock, a little chili paste, tamari, and a lot of garlic.  I sweeten ours with Splenda but sugar is more common.


IMG_0048This is an older photo of a rescue that has become the “house dog” at the shelter.  His name is Boris and belongs to the Executive Director there, who is also the staff veterinarian.  I just thought it suited the weather we are having.  Brrr…DSC_4472 (1600x1060)This was from just before the cold front moved through day before yesterday.  Big ol’ flakes you could hear go splat when they hit the ground.  The snow had just begun when I took this photo, we ended with 3-5″ but with the wind and drifting snow actual depths are uncertain.DSC_4473 (1600x1060)I took this one just now because I thought I needed an after photo.  Birds are after the seeds Mrs J scattered for them this morning. DSC_7585 (1600x1060)Some of the leftover fresh ham we cooked for the holidays, there’s a ton of it because I cooked a whole ham so that I could say I’ve done it.  We really like those wide noodles.  The gravy is from stock made with the ham bone.IMG_3852 (1600x1200)Here’s a little calico that’s been at the shelter for a few months.  Mrs J says she isn’t all that sociable with people, not a lap cat, but she gets along fine with the other cats.  They are working with her every day, handling her to try to get her used to it.DSC_7583 (1600x1060)… And a sammich!  Cheesesteak for the win!  On the side are several of those small sweet peppers we grew on the patio last summer and tossed into a jar of brine.  They’ve been in the fridge all this time.  I keep several gallon jugs in the basement fridge full of various peppers in brine that I transfer to smaller jars and bring up to the kitchen ice box.  I don’t eat them fast enough though I made a point to eat all of those on the plate

“Ice box” – I guess that shows my age.  There were still regular ice deliveries to my neighborhood when I was a kid.  That’s what my folks still called the electric refrigerators that were taking over.  I was proud that we had a “fridgerator” though I thought the big blocks of clear ice the man hauled in with ice tongs were pretty nifty.

Shrimp and noodle stir fry

DSC_4829 [1600x1200]Not that much to this.  The shrimp were pre cooked and just needed warming.  I cooked the onions and broccoli with garlic and ginger and added a sauce that was little more than oyster sauce and chicken stock with a little sesame oil and soy sauce, thickened with corn starch.  I plated Mrs J’s dish and then added chili paste for a little heat and extra flavor to my portion.  The box the noodles came in said they were Chinese noodles and the box was printed mostly in Chinese characters but as far as I can tell they are just your basic wheat noodles.DSC_4828 [1600x1200]

Mmm… spicy ramen with pork

DSC_4496 [1600x1200]Just a quick bowl of ramen noodles for a single serving lunch, Mrs J being away doing her shift at the pet shelter.  I softened dried red peppers and a few dried shiitake mushrooms in a sauce pan with shaved bonito, chicken broth, minced garlic and ginger and then strained the broth.  The noodles went into the strained broth with the red peppers and sliced mushroom caps along with a few slices of onion.  The roasted pork was added just to warm it and then the lot was transferred to the bowl and garnished.