tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal



Dear J - I am looking forward to another wonderful year of friendship, fun, and fud with you and N. With a busy Saturday, I decided to use the slow cooker for a simple dish. I started with this chow recipe.I cooked the potatoes separately, parboiled and browned in the skillet. The roasted cauliflower was dressed with anchovy vinaigrette.


Although not a meal I would normally prepare, it was very simple and fast. It required little active time (and clean up was a snap also). Overall, not bad.

Which leads me to suggest a new game - Sushi Go BGG. You mentioned it while you are at the XOXO conference. A new game to start a new year.


Two of my favorite food- tempura and dumplings above. The draw and pass is interesting, as well as keeping an eye out on what other players are working towards. Good and light game for those low brain power evenings. The art makes me chuckle.

Keep smiling 🙂


Happy 2015

Happy New Year!

Is it just me or have things been insane the past year? Maybe we can do some catch-up over the next few months.

On Saturday we managed to all be in the same place for dinner + games.

I threw together a super basic salad of arugula and spinach with clementine slices and a honey mustard vinaigrette. Basic but necessary green stuff.


N made a Moroccan inspired stew with a lamb leg, red lentils, butternut squash, onions, tomatoes, and potatoes -- lots of spices. Cumin (seed and ground), cardamon, cinnamon, paprika.


With a bit of basmati rice and toasted vermicelli. I guess vermicelli should be added after the rice is cooked so it stays crunchy.

After dinner, it was a bit late and I didn't feel up to playing our new copy of Chaos in the Old World (BGG), so we played a couple of rounds of Carcassonne.


I had no idea G hated Carcassonne so much. I find it much less boring than ohhhh, say, Uno.

'Til next time, and maybe better documentation on my part.


Heavy heart

Dear J -  I was happy to have cooking as a distraction on that sad Saturday February 22nd. Even thought I knew the day will come when I have to make the decision for the Fuzzies, it was not an easy day. I forged ahead, knowing it was a sound decision and they would be happy to see you and N.

When you asked me on Thursday whose turn it is, I hadn't given it much thought. A quick glance at the current issue of Bon Appetite, I selected Pork with Squash stew with chilies and Kohlrabi salad. The recipes fit all the criteria - not chicken, one pot, warm, and not too involved.

Even thought I was a little skeptical how few ingredients the stew had. I followed the direction almost exactly, substituting butternut squash for delicata. The stew was flavorful and the meat tender. I was surprised G said he liked it. It was nice, but not sure it earned a repeat in the rotation.

UntitledPork stew with pickled onions and cilantro

The salad. I've wanted to try kohlrabi for a while, this recipe was super simple. I used the white balsamic lavender vinegar from you. It has a great floral, not overpowering, fragrance. Oh, so Sunday morning, I discovered I left the hazelnuts in the toaster oven. I do seem to always forget an ingredient.

Untitled Shaved kohlrabi and apple salad

After dinner, we decided to try one of your Christmas gifts, the Asia expansion to Ticket to Ride.

It is a map of Asia, routes, and card holders. It uses the original Ticket to Ride trains and scoring pieces.  I managed to finished four routes and had the western part of Asia by myself and still lost. Hmm. I am starting to think it is all in the routes.

P.S. Thank you for bringing sushi for my birthday dinner. It was tasty as always.


Cooking is my therapy

Dear J -  Two Fridays ago, I decided to take some mental health time. Cooking therapy of comfort food was in order. I started by rendered some prosciutto end (thanks!), browned some oxtails, added onion and garlic, and deglazed with red wine. The pot simmered for most of the evening on low, filling the house with the rich smell of meat. It rested overnight and the fat solidified for easy removal.

mosaic58978590aa75e5025aef06000ab6cf1f75c4f0f5prosciutto, deglazing, tomatoes portobello carrot, and finished dish

On Saturday, I reheated the pot and simmer on extra low until meat was tender and falling off the bones. And skimmed more fat off. Then added portobello mushrooms, carrots and canned of San Marzano tomatoes. Accompanied by polenta and some roasted collard and kale, with shaved Parmesan on top and sprinkled with parsley.

Oh, almost forgot, I got some miscellaneous meats from International Deli -  bear sausage, spicy pork (?), and tongue headcheese, and a small slice of Halva with chocolate for dessert. Much debate about whether the sausage was actually Bear. And much thanks for bringing a growler of beverage.

Untitledmeats, from International Deli

You are right that I was really worried. Certain people (plural) dislike certain textures. So when I pulled the bones out, I also tried to pull out the gelatinous bits. Then I also remember (I think) that you mention certain people like their protein separated from the starch and vegetables. Here I am, serving ambiguous protein, with starch and vegetables in one dish. "There is always Taco Bell."

 J put a train on a route

By request, we played Ticket to Ride after dinner. N won. I picked three initial routes that overlap, then an additional one that extends from my original three. I thought I played a very thrifty and efficient game, but still lost. Hmm,   N has a winning strategy.I think we may have played out this game. Power Grid may be in order (BGG).



Dear E,

For the holidays this year, my mom and I bought one another the same cookbook, Jerusalem. This cookbook has quite the cult following -- people have been having Jerusalem parties where each person invited brings a different dish from the book and it was the top-selling cookbook in the summer of 2013.

It's not a cult party, but I decided shortly after Christmas that I would make the roasted cauliflower salad and kofta for our next game night. That's just what I did.

roasted cauliflower salad
roasted cauliflower salad

I really liked this roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad. I roasted the cauliflower and toasted the hazelnuts in the morning, then put the rest of the salad together later.

The salad has a head of cauliflower, roasted. I tossed it with the spices -- cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper. It is tossed with celery, toasted hazelnuts, a ton of flat parsley, and pomegranate arils. I let this sit for a few hours at room temperature before adding a touch of the dressing -- sherry vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil. I really liked this salad a lot and think is a great winter salad.

You'll have to let us know how it held up overnight, since you took the leftovers!

Along with the salad, I made kofta. I used half local grass-fed lamb (it was VERY lean) and half local grass-fed beef. I wanted to cook the kofta medium-rare, so I was a little particular about the ground meat I picked up. I probably would have cooked them a little more if G wasn't under the weather at home!

The recipe in Jerusalem is a little different from other kofta recipes we've made. There's no binder but it does include onion, garlic, pine nuts, parsley, a medium-hot chile, and more spices.

Sunflower oil
sunflower oil

I made the meat mixture and formed the kofta in the early afternoon, then set it in the fridge to chill and firm up. I believe this helped them hold their shape without a binder. Then I seared them in sunflower oil, per the recipe. This took a little longer than I expected. I pulled them out of the pan at 120-125°F, then placed them on a platter with tahini sauce, and popped them into the oven, just for a few minutes, taking them to medium-rare without losing their crust.

kofta b'siniyah
kofta b'siniyah

I'd give both recipes a thumbs up. I've made about five or six recipes from Jerusalem now, and there hasn't been a bad one yet. Not bad!

Before dinner, I had wanted us to try Tzolk'in for the first time. But I didn't have enough time to learn the game in advance, so we fell back to the old standby, Settlers of Catan.

three player catan
three player

With just three players, there was so much space on the board. It was like stretching out in a huge hotel bed. I tried to fly under the radar as I picked up grain and ore resources and upgraded my settlements. I managed to pull off the win! Yay me!

Next time up here I hope we can try Tzolk'in (BGG). It looks promising! This video of the gameplay might be worth watching in advance.


Little victories

Hi J - Happy New Year!

After the leisure holidays and short work weeks, I endured a very long work week. I must have woken up and though it was Friday at least three times. I was very much looking forward to the weekend. For our first take of the year, I decided on a simple repeat - meatballs, anchovy pasta, and kale. And a 'cake', for the small victories like running water and the mobile you.


Simple and hopefully tasty. High carbohydrate meals so this is a real treat. I am hoping to clean out my pantry so I used angel hair pasta instead of the usual spaghetti. I forget, but I thought someone prefers spaghetti? (or I imagined it.) Oh hey, I found this handy chart on When Pasta Meets Sauce. I should try all the pasta shape, how fun.

The meatballs were an equal mix of pork, beef and Italian sausage. Seasoned with Parmesan cheese, anchovy paste, generous amount of red pepper flakes (oops)  and black pepper. I opted to bake them in the oven instead of browning them on the stove top (lazy). Pasta was tossed with olive oil infused with garlic and almost a tube of anchovy paste, lemon zest and chopped parsley.

After dinner and a little lolly gagging, we started Ticket to Ride.

 a wreck of a hand of train cards 

What? I forgot we have to match the train card colors to the track track colors. After I got the hang of it and juggled my cards, someone blocked me. sigh


I remember the last time running of of train pieces, so I carefully counted before I kept another route card. And the long way around to Phoenix actually forced me to realize the longer way around may not always be detrimental.

Untitledcake, not real cake.. cake with a k? 

For the 'cake' - boxed yellow cake with lemon jell o. The unnatural shade of yellow cracked me up. It matches the yellow GIR spatula you gave me 🙂  I think I prefer the version that adds jell o after the cake is bake vs this version with jell o baked with lemon icing. N is so right that it is as sweet as a donut. Yikes.

Stay warm and see you soon,


Approximately Dinner

Dear E,

Yet another last-minute menu plan.

Earlier in the week, I asked a mutual friend if he had tried peppadew peppers stuffed with goat cheese. He had not. I thought I'd make some quickly -- I dusted them with some savory sage salt.

goat cheese stuffed peppadew
goat cheese peppadew

The previous week, I had planned a meal that the power company decided to interrupt. Thankfully you and G were flexible and instead we had a nice meal out.

From the interrupted menu, I decided I would make roasted delicata squash but I switched up the rest of the menu.

For some reason I wanted to make roast beef. Why? I have no idea. Loosely following this recipe, which had me cook the roast on a rack in the center of the oven, so that it could cook from all sides at once. It starts at a high heat to crust the outside, then the temperature is dropped and it finishes cooking.


N's mom makes a chopped salad that I love. I have tried to copy it many times to no avail. This weekend, N called her to ask for her recipe. The secret? She blends blue cheese with ranch dressing and avocados for the dressing. Aha! It looked like a lot of dressing but it was mostly avocados!

e's plate
e's plate

I had pulled out Agricola, but N wasn't feeling up for it so he dealt our new Uno deck. It was labelled Uno Mod, which I thought was just a reference to the new deck design. Oh no. There is actually a new CARD. This new card allows the player to play it and hand out cards of the color selected to all of the other players. I don't think we liked it much! Why mess with success?


After G beat us in Uno, we played a bit of Carcassonne.


It was a close game. I've been playing a lot of Carcassonne on my phone. Maybe it's helping -- the rest of you usually destroy me in Carcassonne.

See you next time!


Fowl and Fish

Good day, E!

A few weeks ago our next door neighbor went fishing and caught a bunch of salmon. He brought us a few to smoke. N smoked them with a lot of seasoning and a few of them are a bit over-seasoned. "No problem," I thought. "I'll just make a spread."

salmon spread

I flaked half of a filet of salmon and then added 6 ounces of cream cheese and 4 ounces of crème fraîche to it until it was a spreadable but light consistency. N suggested adding green onion to the spread directly. I decided against it in case the green onion would lose their crunch and I just served them on the side with some quick pickled red onion. It was pretty good on store-bought fresh-baked pumpernickel bread.

While we ate all of the salmon spread, N grilled chickens.

N brined two chickens overnight. He coated them in some hatch chile barbeque sauce I made* and then smoked them with a bit of mesquite. They took a bit longer to cook than usual for some reason.

j's plate

I threw together a quick, super-tart cole slaw (oops). I shredded the carrots and added them and they turned the entire batch a pale orange color. Not appealing! I did want it to be a bit tart to counter the slightly-sweet bbq sauce, but not THAT tart.

After an afternoon excursion to Cabela's resulted in the truck being hit and our trip taking a bit longer than expected, I supplemented with some store-bought scalloped potatoes. Since the cole slaw was horrible and G doesn't like chicken, I'm glad I added the potatoes!

After dinner, G suggested we play Settlers of Catan again. I fear he will suggest it every week until he wins a game!

not more settlers of catan!

We played two rounds -- you won the first one, N won the second. I guess that means more Settlers of Catan next week? Oh no. I might have to banish our copy with the Uno deck.

* Hatch Chile BBQ Sauce
6 fresh Hatch chile peppers
2 TBSP olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup Guinness
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 29 oz. can tomato sauce

Roast chile peppers over flame to blister and char all sides. Once charred, place peppers in paper bag to sweat for 10 minutes. Remove the charred skin along with the stem and seeds then rinse the peppers under cold running water.

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until tender. Add the chiles along with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let set for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

Place sauce in food processor or blender and puree.


More pork with that

Pork, that's what's for dinner.

Untitledsavory snack

We started with a  quick snack of some salumi, with some peppers and fresh mozzarella, drizzled with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Quick, simple, and tasty.

For dinner, we had thick cut pork chops from Fischers. But what to do when face with don't-want-another-usual-brine for pork chops? add beer. I modified the brine recipe by mixing beer with chicken broth, instead of water, and added some rosemary.  Let me pause and say it was very nice to get the pork chops, via Amazon Fresh on Friday night. I did not have to hassle G to go to the store on Friday evening, or get up early on Saturday.

Untitledpile high

I had intentions of getting some greens, but couldn't find any, so default to a boxed herb salad, dressed with mustard vinaigrette.  And we should have more pork. I sauteed some bacon, with apples and a celery root with some red onions. I couldn't taste the difference between the apples and the celery root. But eating the leftover at room temperature a couple of days later, the celery taste was more visible. I will probably not use the celery root again, it added no value.

What is not pictured are the potatoes G made. When I gave him the menu, he decided we needed another item. I vetoed corn (which we had last time together), then he suggested potatoes. "N likes potato". I do, a little too. My less-carb plan was foiled. I mentally blocked out the item until the very last minute, when I remember we do not have fixings. The horror. Thank you for bringing sour cream and chives.

After dinner, we tried a new to us games - Family Business BGG. Because of  the family and death theme, it reminds me both of Gloom BGG and Guillotine BGG. The object is to be the last one standing. Lots of [killing] contracts, double cross,  family influence, etc.  Mob members are lined up when a player puts a contract, they may be counter or rescue. Once there are six mob members lined up, mob war starts, and does not end until they are all dead, or peace (card). When there are six mob members left, Mob War is trigger, and the last one standing wins.

There was a bit of stare-off-in-space where someone plays a counter card, and it becomes that player's turn. It is like Uno, where Reverse and Skip can be a snoozer,  for the other players.

UntitledSt Valentine's day in my hand

Family Business - new to us #gamenight J's hand

For a filler game, I generally like it. I am formulating a .. ahem.. strategy ... if it can be called that ...  to be the last one standing. After all the killing, we default to Settlers of Catan, where I had yet another bad placement and lost, spectacularly. Good thing there were Loacker Quadratini Lemon Wafers, the cookies made losing yet another game of Settlers of Catan bearable.


I won Catan tonight! #gamenightJ wins

 That's a wrap. I hope you enjoyed the evening. See you next time.


How about fajitas?

Good evening, E!

When N told me he IMed G about what to make for dinner, I laughed. G suggested we try grilled pizza again or cioppino. So N decided on fajitas and margaritas. Makes total sense!

N marinated flank steak for a few hours and then quickly grilled it with a bit of mesquite wood smoke. I like mesquite in small doses.

j's plate

N used to make this fresh pepper salsa -- all sorts of fresh peppers, a few tomatoes, onions, diced, lime juice. I really wanted a fresh corn salsa, so I prepped corn and asked N to make a less-hot version of his pepper salsa and add the corn to it. It turned out well!

e's plate
e's plate

We also had guacamole... that I forgot to add garlic to. That's how you know I was truly exhausted.

While pulling one of the steaks out of the freezer, N discovered a frozen pecan pie. It defrosted in time for a dessert snack. Chester was really happy he got crust treats!

chester pie crust
spoiled cat

Uno was all I could manage after a day of yardwork. I couldn't even make it upstairs to get my real camera. Uno!

braindead game

After Uno we discussed the age of various games. Here's what we learned:

Chess: 6th century AD (India)
Backgammon: 3000 BC (Persia)
Go: 400 BC (China)
Playing cards: 9th century (China)

That was a bit of a surprise! Backgammon is a favorite of mine and a game I was taught how to play at a very young age (I never liked chess, so I guess I got backgammon instead - my brother got chess).

Maybe we can try Agricola (BGG) or Dominion (BGG) next time? I fear the boys will find Agricola too Farmville for their tastes but I want to try it out. I've been looking for a couple of deck combinations for Dominion that are more contentious and interactive for us to try out. I love Dominion but I think everyone else wants a game that involves more infighting!

See you next week!

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