another cooking adventure

Question: What's missing from this picture?
Answer: VODKA!
Question: Are you serious?
Answer: Yes. Very.

Recently I've been trying to cook new things more often, which is why you'll probably be seeing more posts like this. The good news for you is that I'll only be posting the things that worked out well... and not the things that don't turn out. Like the cupcakes I attempted last weekend... I still don't know what happened. Maybe I never will. Life is, indeed, a mystery.

Today I was going back and forth... and back again... and forth again (you get the picture) about what I wanted to try to make for dinner. I finally decided to try making homemade Vodka Sauce. Say what? Yes, Vodka Sauce. I've had it out of a jar only a few times, but it's terrific. Tonight, I made it from scratch and served it over gnocchi with sides of shrimp sauteed with garlic and garlic toast. Now that I think about the menu, there was a lot of garlic involved in today's activity... oh well, can you ever have too much garlic?

In the end, it turned out very well, so I'll share the recipe with you. It's great over gnocchi (found in the store by the pastas) or with pasta (penne is always good.)

Vodka Sauce
1/2 c. butter
1 medium onion
2-3 garlic cloves
1 c. vodka
3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 - 28 oz. cans crushed tomato
1 pint heavy cream

Using a large, deep skillet, melt the butter and saute the garlic and diced onion until onion is soft. Add vodka, cook for 10 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes and stir well. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add heavy cream and stir well. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over gnocchi, penne, or any other type of pasta you enjoy.

That's all! It makes a LOT, so consider cutting it in half if your cooking for just a few people. Otherwise, make the full recipe and freeze the leftover. Feel free to add a little more Italian seasoning if you want. I only had 3/4 teaspoon left, so went with what was available. It turned out well! And looks a little something like this:

If you have recommendations for something I should try sometime, I'd love to hear it! You can post a comment or email me the recipe. Enjoy!


mmm... food!

Everyone has a favorite food. Or a number of them, depending on the category. Here are a few of mine:

  • Mom's home cookin': chicken noodle soup with dumplings (the dumplings are key)
  • Special restaurant outing: a great steak, medium
  • Vegetable: green beans, though I like most
  • Indian fare: chicken makhani
  • Fruit: pineapple (cold, only. I won't eat it on pizza or in other warm foods)

I eat out quite a bit between work functions and travel, but nothing is better than home cooked food... especially if mom made it. Those of you who know my mom and have been lucky enough to eat her food know that she's one of the best cooks around. This morning, as is often the case when I plan to cook, I called mom to talk through it to make sure I won't mess it up! The good news is that, with that guidance, it turns out pretty well. And this morning, it was awesome -- apple panakuchen. I used mom's panakuchen recipe (without apples) and modified a bit after researching a bit on the internet... and definitely recommend trying it!

Apple Panakuchen

*glazed apples*
2 apples (I used one golden delicious and one granny smith)
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Melt the butter on low/medium heat on the stove top. I used a frying pan with a cover. Add brown sugar and stir until blended with the butter. Add apples and stir into the glaze. Cover, stirring frequently, until apples are tender. Pour the mixture into a deep pie dish (or an 8x8 pan would probably work).

Beat the panakuchen ingredients together in a bowl until well mixed and pour over the apple mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with powdered sugar and syrup.

Hope you like it! I don't always measure when I'm making things, so I estimated as best I could with the apple glaze part... so it's approximately accurate. The rest is correct for sure!

Thanks, Mom! Love you!


a lost art?

I just returned from a few days in Caledonia and was able to bring back with me a bunch of old letters and cards that my grandma kept through the years. I love her for keeping them so that I can sit here today and read them... old letters from family and friends in the military during the wars, from her mother, and -- my personal favorite -- from my grandpa to her... and from her to him. They sure were adorable to each other far before I was born. It makes me think that writing letters is truly a lost art.

What do I have that future generations can see? In an age of digital images, email, cell phones, and facebook, twitter, etc... my answer is 'not much.' What about you? Think about your last birthday. How many actual cards did you get in the mail? And then think about how many came in the form of some sort of technology -- email, text, and facebook wall posts. If you're like me, a couple of cards came in the mail, but a majority of what I have is not a permanent record that noone will ever see 40 or 50 years from now. By then, the technology will change and all of those messages will be long gone.

Don't get me wrong. I love getting a message in any format! And am completely guilty of doing pretty much everything in an e-format. But having the letters to read from the 1930's to the 1970's before I was born has made me think... should I do everything that way?

Case in point: I'm writing this on a blog to share with all of you as I sit in a room where 3 people are sitting at their computers doing various things. The convenience is great! But does this make it too easy where we very seldom will take the time to find a pen and a piece of paper to write a personal letter?

So, don't be surprised if you get a letter from me soon, via the good old USPS... and I would encourage you to try it, too. Now if only I can find that place that sells those funny little sticky things... I believe they are called stamps???