Monthly Archives: February 2015


pufflesI’ve made some fun stuff in my waffle iron, including waffles. I’ve made Cauliflower Waffles which are having a strangely huge run on the blog. I’ve made Cinnamon Roll Waffles which are now My Faithful Assistant’s favorite weekend breakfast. Imagine my delight when, a few weeks ago, Epicurious introduced me to another way to use the waffle iron. Puffles! Puff pastry, stuffed or not.

We’ve had a rough couple weeks in our house and haven’t been able to spend a lot of time together. Honestly, I was kind of hoping for a dismal weekend with no homework so we could all snuggle on the couch and binge watch something. That isn’t going to happen. But since we were at least all in the house together, I broke out the puff pastry and tried my hand at making them for an afternoon treat.

I was a little skeptical since the recipe involved measuring the waffle iron to determine how large to roll your puff pastry. Plus, let’s face it. Epicurious probably has a little nicer kitchen to work in then the average person reading this blog. And of course, food stylists. We all know I am not a food stylist. Thinking about all of this almost sucked the fun out of making this fun treat. Then I noticed that the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry was folded in thirds and that each of the thirds was approximately the same width of each of the sections of my waffle iron. The length looked good enough for me. I spread Nutella on one half of the pastry, being careful to leave room around the edge. I placed two Puffles in the waffle iron (prepped with cooking spray) and let them cook for about five minutes until they were golden brown and puffing.

They were delicious! We will absolutely make these again. I’m looking forward to trying a savory version with ham and cheese or spinach and pesto. If you want to make Puffles yourself, follow the instructions on the Epicurious page (link is above).


Fish Cakes


Originally published Feb 2013

One day at Costco, I bought some frozen flounder and, I’m sad to admit, it was horrible. It was fishy and flavorless and the fillets were small and shrunk up to a fraction of their original size when cooked. The bag haunted me every time I opened the freezer. I decided it was time to open the pantry and see that I could find to jazz up the fish and get rid of it once and for all. Hmmm… Garlic, cayenne, cumin, bread crumbs. Egg, onion, lime and shredded cheese in the fridge… Fish cakes!

I make very good crab cakes. Very, very good. But half my family is allergic to crab. This made a fantastic alternative and with the right ingredients (Old Bay and Worcestershire , they can be made to taste just like crab cakes at a fraction of the cost!

Lenten Fish Cakes
1 1/2 lb flounder or other white fish, cooked, cooled and crumbled
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 onion, chopped
Zest of a half a lime
Juice of one lime
1 egg, beaten
1/2 bread crumbs
1/2 cup of shredded cheese (anything you have is fine)
Dash of cayenne pepper
black pepper

1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
2. Spoon into a mini muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

To make fake crabe cakes, add in about a tsp of Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 tsp of Old Bay.

Be brave and play with the seasonings! Give them a Latin flare with a little more cayenne and some cumin. To make them taste a little more Asian, add more lime and some grated ginger.

These were so good, I may actually buy the Costco flounder fillets again, just for fish cakes!


Slow Roasted Salmon


We’re expecting some snow here in Central Maryland. While those of you in New England might be thinking, “You want snow? Come take some of ours,” we have had very little in the way of measurable, fun snow. What does that mean? About 7-10 inches. You can do stuff with it and thankfully, it doesn’t last too long around here.

My hope was to welcome the snow by having actual smoked salmon this weekend but that didn’t pan out. I had a large piece of salmon and I decided that since smoking is essentially slow cooking, I could do something similar in the oven.

I topped my salmon with maple syrup and sea salt and put it in a low slow oven for a two hours. That’s it! That doesn’t really require a recipe, does it? Cooking time for an eight ounce piece of salmon was about 20 minutes. Since I had a 2 1/2 lb piece, my minimum cooking time was almost two hours. I used a very low cooking temperature of 250.

I served the salmon with mung bean noodles and baby bok choy. It was a heavenly meal. There’s a little left over salmon for us to have while we wait out the storm. I know, not your typical snow day food, but it was easy to make and very tasty!


Ridiculously Easy Poached Salmon

Original Post: March 8, 2013
It’s rerun week on the blog! We have a very busy family schedule, but I know it’s a holiday week and people are looking for tasty things to make for Valentine’s Day. This Poached Salmon should fit the bill for all you hesitant cooks.
Once or twice a week we eat leftovers. I try to make these nights intriguing by calling them “Smorgasbord Night.” There is no intrigue. There are sighs and groans as boys and men trudge to the refrigerator to see what they can scrounge up.
Thursday was Smorgasbord Night. Two of them found fish sticks and French fries. I felt sorry for the other one and scrounged for him and came up with salmon, veggies, Wegman’s Thai Culinary stock and rice noodles.  Hello Ridiculously Easy Poached Salmon!
Ridiculously Easy Poached Salmon
2 frozen salmon fillets
2 cups broth or water and white wine
Handful of sugar snap peas (1/2 cup)
Half cup each onion and chopped red pepper
Rice Noodles
1. Combine everything in a pan with a lid.
2. Cover and cook on medium low for 10-15 minutes. Turn once.
3. Add some rice noodles and push down into the broth. Don’t put too many in! They expand and will soak up all the broth. You’ll want some for your plate.
4. Reduce heat to low. Cook until soft, for about five minutes.
Serve in a bowl with plenty of broth.
There are two points I want to make with this post. First, this is not a recipe, it is directions. I didn’t measure anything when I made this. I grabbed a bunch of food and threw it in a pan. It didn’t take a lot of time. It didn’t take a lot of money. I didn’t open a book, surf the web of turn on the TV.
What exactly is the trick to whipping up a fancy schmancy dinner like this in 20 minutes? We come to my second point. The trick to this meal (and the one you’re going to make) is a well stocked pantry and freezer. Really. That’s all. Keep some pre-cut chicken or fish in the freezer that is cut into small enough pieces that thaw quickly. Have some veggies on hand (fresh or frozen) that you know you’re family will always eat. Have pasta, rice and broth in the pantry. Many of you know this, but many of you may be new to cooking, and don’t. This advice is for you.
That’s it. This was not only pretty, it was tasty and it made one very tired man (and me) very happy.

Valentine’s Day: Crazy Sexy Pasta

csp2Original Post – February 7, 2013

Valentine’s Day in our house is a bit of a big deal. It’s our oldest child’s birthday. While we don’t buy each other gifts, there really isn’t anything more loving for a couple to do than celebrate the birth of your child over a wonderful meal.

If you’re looking for something special to make your honey (and your family or even just yourself) on Valentine’s Day, this is the dish for you! It’s very quick and easy and incredibly tasty. This dish is so popular in my house, running out of it has been known to make family members cry. They hide leftovers, or in a more recent development, reserve them.

The combination of the salty pancetta with the creamy sauce will make you drool. I used to make this with the traditional three alfredo ingredients of butter, heavy cream and parmesan. I no longer use the heavy cream but start with the same milk sauce I use in my Mac and Cheese. I won’t call this dish light by any means. It’s fatty fat fattening. But it’s nice to indulge once in a while.

Crazy, Sexy Pasta
1- 16 oz box of interesting pasta like Farfalle or Gemelli
4 oz of pancetta or prosciutto
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 TBSP of olive oil
1/4 cup flour
4 TBSP butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 – 3/4 cup Parmesan
pepper to taste

1. Start the water boiling for your pasta. This sauce is so fast that you will have it ready in the time it takes your pasta to cook.
2. Combine oil, garlic and pancetta (or prosciutto) in a sauce pan that is big enough to hold the milk and everything else. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes on medium heat. Remove from pan, drain and set aside. Don’t forget your pasta water! You can probably add the pasta now!
3. Melt butter in the same pan.
4. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and let it soak in for a minute. Then gently mix it around.
5. Add the milk. Some people like to add milk in stages and let it thicken. You can do that or just put it all in at once. Reduce heat to medium – low. Stir frequently until it thickens.
6. When your milk sauce (I heard this term the one time I watched Rachael Ray) is the consistency of a thin pudding, add the cheese. Start with a half a cup and add more if desired. Your sauce should look like the picture below.

7. Add the pancetta and garlic into the sauce and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low.
8. Your pasta is probably done! Drain it well, return it to the pot and pour on the sauce and toss it around.
9. Allow people to pepper to taste.
Serve with a nice salad and a light white wine like a Pinot Grigio. You can toss in some steamed asparagus, too. We’ve done that and it’s fantastic!
I want to emphasize how easy this is to make. My 15 year old son has made this. I decided since it’s his favorite dish that he needed to know how to make it himself. So if you are looking for something really elegant to make for a first Valentine’s Day with your honey, and you don’t feel confident with your cooking, this is it!
Are you planning a less romantic Valentine’s Day? This will work for you, too! Just cut everything in half! You’ll have one serving for dinner and enough for one more meal. Or make the whole thing and have everyone over for an Anti-Valentine potluck!