Monday, April 16, 2012

Spicy Lemon Creme Sauce

Salmon patties fall into the category of "comfort food" for me. I remember my grandmother making them frequently when I was little, and I always gorged myself on them.

My husband, however, did not grow up eating fried salmon, and its been more of an acquired taste for him. The last time I made salmon patties, he mentioned that they'd be more palatable with some sort of sauce. This spicy lemon creme sauce worked great for the salmon patties, but you could use it on any time of fish or shellfish – especially if you're like me and can't tolerate the mayonnaisey gunk that most people seem to think passes for tartar sauce.


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground black pepper


Melt the butter in a pan. Stir in the flour until well-mixed and clumpy. Gradually whisk in the milk until the sauce base becomes smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil until it thickens to the consistency you want (usually 1-3 minutes). Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Serve hot. 

Potato Bacon Soup

Last night I made like a Catholic saint and performed a miracle. Behold: potato bacon soup.

It isn't often that I taste something new and have a "moment." You know, the moment where you close your eyes, savor whatever it is you've just tasted and shiver all over with deliciousness. But those little moments are a crucial part of what life is all about, yes? I totally had a moment with this soup. It was so good that when I let my husband have a taste, he came back for more and I had to smack him away from the pot until dinnertime.

This soup was so good that I had to call my mother and tell her about it. She probably thinks I've gone completely off my rocker, calling to excitedly tell her about food. But I didn't care. I had to tell somebody. Make this soup. You won't be disappointed. 


  • 5 baking potatoes
  • 1 pack bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 6 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tbs olive oil 
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 2/3 cup sour cream


Bake the potatoes. This is rudimentary, so I'm not going to tell you how to do it. When the potatoes are just a few minutes from being done, chop up the onion and saute it in the olive oil until it is tender and translucent. Cook the bacon. Cover a plate with a paper towel and sit the cooked bacon on the paper towel to absorb the excess grease. 

Melt the butter in a stock pot (I used a Dutch oven. It keeps things from burning a lot better than a stock pot imho) over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and stir the mixture for about two minutes. It will clump together into a ball. That's normal. Add the milk gradually, cup by cup, whisking between each cup of milk until the mixture is smooth. 

Add the cream and whisk for another minute or two until the mixture thickens slightly. Most things thicken gradually. This doesn't. When it starts to thicken it happens at the speed of light. Remove the pot from the heat and stop whisking as soon as the soup base reaches the perfect thickness. You'll know it when you see it. 

Peel and chop up the potatoes. If they're too hot to handle, just stick them in the freezer for a few minutes to cool. Add the potatoes and onion to the soup base. Bring the soup base to a low boil for a couple of minutes then turn the heat down to medium low. 

Add the sour cream, cheese, bacon and pepper. Stir the potato bacon soup until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately. 

Note: There is a very good reason this recipe doesn't call for salt. While most potato soups desperately need some salting, the bacon in this recipe provides more than enough salt. Trust me. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Deli Sandwiches

Sandwiches have a bad reputation for being a quick, mom-was-too-busy-to-cook meal. That's a shame. I'm a very big fan of a good sandwich.

When I was a kid, I had to bear the horrible task of going grocery shopping once a week with my mother. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the root of my hatred of grocery shopping that continues to this day. Every now and then, however, my mother would buy me a sandwich from the deli. The deli can stuff just about anything into your sandwich – even things you wouldn't eat by themselves – and make it delicious. Since I have a personal rule about never cooking on Fridays, tonight we decided to go the deli sandwich route.

One of the things that made those grocery store deli sandwiches so tasty was the sauce. As a kid, I wouldn't touch mayonnaise with a 39 1/2 foot pole, but I snarfed down the deli sandwich sauce like a refugee. I later discovered that it was just equal parts mayo and mustard. 

You wouldn't think that mixing together the mayonnaise and mustard for your sandwich makes much of a difference, but it really does. 

Toasting the bread is also a good idea if you plan on using damp ingredients, such as tomatoes and pickles. Meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato are a given, but you can use just about anything you have laying around to make a killer sandwich. I do this frequently when I purchase something for a recipe that we don't normally eat. Rather than letting it sit in the fridge and slowly die, I put it in a sandwich. Here is a short list of just a few sandwich-stuffing items you might have around the house that you may not have considered:

  • Olives
  • Sliced onion
  • Apples or pears, thinly sliced
  • Sweet or dill pickles
  • Shredded carrot
  • Fresh spinach or watercress
  • Sliced artichoke hearts
  • Almonds or pecans
  • Chopped nopal 
  • Pesto
  • Seaweed
  • Hummus
  • Bean sprouts

Unorthodox is fun. For example, toasted ham, pear and mozzarella sandwiches are divine. Don't be afraid to experiment. You might be pleasantly surprised. Plus, screwing up a sandwich isn't as bad as screwing up a casserole. You can toss a bad sandwich in the trash without feeling like you wasted time and money. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fried Cinnamon & Chocolate Bananas

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that there are several combinations of food that I find absolutely repugnant. The combinations are as follows:

  1. Coffee and liquer
  2. Coffee and chocolate
  3. Chocolate and liquor
  4. Coffee and fruit
  5. Fruit and chocolate

I generally adhere to "fruit and chocolate do not go together" mantra no matter what. I realize, however, that most people – including my family – would not agree. So last night I made them some fried cinnamon and chocolate bananas.

Although I did modify the batter, I would like to note that the original batter recipe was adapted from the fried bananas recipe included on Roti-n-Rice. Thanks to Biren, the blog's author, for such a light and crispy batter. 


  • 1 jar hot fudge (You can make this from scratch or buy it. One of these days I will post my hot fudge recipe)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 3 bananas 
  • 1 1/2 cups granola
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup rice flour (regular flour would probably work, but you'd have to modify the amounts of some ingredients before you got the proper consistency for batter)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp water


Cut each banana in half and cut a second time vertically. This should leave you with 12 symmetrical slices. Put the slices in a baking dish. Cover each slice with hot fudge and put them in the freezer until the chocolate solidifies. 

Heat up approximately 2 inches of oil in a deep fryer or pot. While the oil is heating, combine the flour, salt, egg and water. Mix until you have a thick and creamy batter. Pour the granola into a bowl. 

Remove each banana slice from the pan. You may need to cut around them with a knife to ensure that they do not break. Dip each slice in the batter, roll it in the granola, and drop it in the pan. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the coating is golden brown. Remove the fried bananas from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs and place them on a paper towel to drain the excess grease. 

Top with hot fudge and powdered sugar. Serve warm. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Healthier and Tastier Version of the Italian Chicken Sandwich

Everyone is familiar with the Italian chicken sandwich. It consists of a chicken patty slathered with marinara sauce, topped with melted mozzerella stuffed between two pieces of bread. It's greasy, fattening and incredibly delicious. 

Well, you can consider this the Italian chicken sandwich's classier cousin. You know, the one who wears $200 sunglasses, refuses to smile and thinks raising one eyebrow is an appropriate response to a question. Even so, you'd do just about anything to get her. 

And in this case, she's oh-so worth it. 

Sun-dried tomato pesto chicken burger


  • 1 jar sun-dried tomato pesto
  • Wheat hamburger buns
  • boneless chicken breasts
  • soft mozzerella (not the block!)
  • Artesian or romaine lettuce


Grill the chicken breasts. While the chicken breasts are on the grill, slice the cheese and place cheese slices on the top half of each bun. Toast the buns until the cheese melts. When the buns are finished, slather sun-dried tomato pesto on the bottom half. Place a grilled chicken breast into the sun-dried tomato pesto on each bun. Top with the lettuce and the bun's cheese-smothered other half.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ghetto Rice Krispie Treats

Oh yes I did.

My favorite everyday dessert isn't anything complicated or elegant. Nope, a pan of warm, gooey Rice Krispie treats is enough to satisfy me for days. Ok...maybe one day...because after that its gone.

Fortunately for my waistline, I have no clue how to make Rice Krispie treats. All I know is that it involves melting marshmallows painfully slowly on the stove. I'm not into standing at the stove and slowly stirring something for ten minutes. I think butter is also involved in this process somehow. 

Tim is much, much more patient than I am and he makes fantastic Rice Krispie treats, so I never bothered to learn much about the process – except I know that you're supposed to "Spray the spatula with cooking spray so that the Rice Krispie treats don't stick when you press them into the pan." Tim tells me this every time he makes the darn things as if I will one day need this information because I'll be making them myself. 


I should have learned more about the mechanics of Rice Krispie treat making because last night when I wanted a midnight snack and there was nothing palatable in the house, I decided to whip up some ghetto Rice Krispie treats. So I tossed some butter and marshmallows into a pot (I think I was supposed to melt the butter first, but oh well) and when that was good and melted I mixed in what appeared to me to be the correct amount of off-brand Rice Krispies. 

My dessert attempts are usually failures and, true to form, my ghetto Rice-Krispie-treats-in-a-bowl looked scrumptious but tasted terrible. I guess I'll leave the dessert-making to my husband. His sugary confections trump mine every time, and if I didn't get to eat those treats I might just be jealous. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Basic (and easy) Chili

I used to be afraid of chili. Whenever my parents made chili, I cringed (but not quite as much as I cringed when they made stir-fry. Stir-fry was their crack. To this day I won't touch the stuff.). I liked absolutely nothing about chili. I find chili tolerable now. It's not my first choice, but its not one of those things that I'd rather go hungry than eat.

And since every family has their own variation on the old classic, I'm going to share ours. It's gluten-free, but that wasn't intentional, just lucky, especially considering chili is one of Larin's favorite foods. Yes, this is just a basic chili recipe, but Tim always devours it – eating until the point of sickness each time I make it. Thus, I'm just going to have to assume that its tasty. I wouldn't know. All chili tastes pretty much the same to  me. There is one thing I love about chili, however, and that is the fact that, aside from browning the meat and cooking the onions, you can pretty much just dump it in the pot and walk away.

I guess I should have named this blog "The Lazy Cook." Oh well, too late now.

Basic Chili 

  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 1 lb. ground beef (or more, if you like meaty chili)
  • 1/2 of a green bellpepper, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp California garlic salt with parsley
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp salt

Brown the ground beef in a saucepan. Put the olive oil in a saucepan. Set the saucepan on medium and multitask, cooking the ground beef and onion/bellpepper mixture simultaneously (Not required, but it saves time.) Or better yet, ask your significant other to cook one while you cook the other. Cook the ground beef until it is completely browned and the onion/pepper mixture until the onions are translucent. 

Set a stock pot or Dutch oven to medium low. Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, cooked ground beef, onion/bellpepper mixture, kidney beans, garlic salt, chili powder, and water to the pot. Bring the chili to a boil, stirring it regularly. If you're using a Dutch oven as instructed, you shouldn't have to worry about scrubbing burnt bits of chili out of the bottom of a pot later on. 

We're lazy, remember? We don't like scrubbing.

Take the chili back down to a simmer, put the lid on the Dutch oven and leave it for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes stir the chili and add the butter. Stir the butter in well until it melts. Voila! You're done. You get to eat. As for me, I get to spend the next 20 minutes fighting to get a spoonful of chili in my four-year old's mouth.