Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crock-Pot Queen (With Recipe!)

I'm really into Crock-Pot cooking these days. A slow cooker is the poor woman's personal chef. I love the idea that things are cooking in my house while I am not home - or even better, while I sleep.

Dust off your crock-pot (you know you have one tucked away someplace) and prepare this at bedtime. You'll heart it too.

Irish Oatmeal with Apples and Walnuts

Makes 4 servings (It refrigerates well and can be reheated in the microwave.)

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups water

2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into half-inch cubes

1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats (also called Irish Oatmeal)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

Chopped walnuts

Maple syrup (optional)

1. Coat the inside of 3-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place apple, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in slow cooker.

2. Bring milk, water, and butter to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat. (Watch this like a hawk. It goes from barely bubbling to a reenactment of the eruption of Vesuvius in seconds flat.)

3. Pour milk mixture into slow cooker. Stir everything together. Cover and cook on LOW 7 hours or until oats are tender. (A couple of extra hours does not hurt it at all.)

4. Ladle oatmeal into bowls, and top with walnuts and maple syrup, if desired. I find I don't need the maple syrup. Goodness knows I'm already sweet enough.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Office Indulgence

I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Fridge

Despite my best intentions, it's not a crisper drawer, it's a refrigerated composter.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Dance of the Sugarcookie Fairies

Two of my nieces couldn't make it for Christmas cookie baking day when it was rescheduled due to snow (oh all right, it was my niece and great-niece; I'm old) so we made Valentine's Day cookies yesterday instead. The cookies in my drawing are ballet dancing in honor of the fact that my great-niece Lizzie (age 5) and I dance at the same ballet school - or as Lizzie put it "You and me are both a ballerina."

We did all the things you might expect: wore Disney Princess crowns, listened to Sinatra (Lizzie is also a fan), and baked several batches of cookies. My niece Katie took video footage in which Lizzie did a lot of funny things and I am a disembodied voice in the background like Charlie Brown's teacher. I made us lunch and dinner. We ate slightly more cookie dough than I believe the Surgeon General recommends.

It was a lot of fun, but now there is only one thing Auntie Maria wants for Valentine's Day: a nap.

Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours. Celebrate it any way you please.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Healthy Choice

Just call me Cleopatra.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ultimate Sunday Dinner (with Recipe!)

I am now going to reveal a Portuguese cooking secret, so that you too can be hailed as a culinary genius for a meal that mostly cooked itself while you took a nap or polished your toenails or insulated the attic or whatever. I'm a giver.

I'm not going to give quantities. Use your judgment based on how many people you have to feed, how big a pan you have, and how much you want left over (trust me, you want leftovers). If I'm making a small roast (say, 4 pounds) I use 1 pound of chourico. Use more if you're making a bigger roast. Make sure your pan is big enough that you can get all the ingredients in and still move it in and out of the oven safely, without having the liquid splash over.


Eye of the round roast


Onion, sliced

Garlic, minced



Approx. 4 cups liquid (water, beef broth, wine, or a combination)

Potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered (depending on size)

Carrots, peeled and sliced in 2-inch chunks


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Plop the roast in the pan. Season with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt as chourico is salty). Put the chourico in alongside as pictured.
3. Throw in a mess of onions and garlic.
4. Add liquid to the pan.
5. Cover pan, stick it in the oven, and go find something else to do for 2 hours.
6. After 2 hours, put the potatoes and carrots in the pan. Add liquid if necessary so they are submerged at least halfway (be careful not to fill pan too full).
7. Cook 1-2 hours more, turning potatoes occasionally to coat with the liquid, until meat is cooked through. (This is not a cut you want to eat rare unless you've got metal teeth like that guy in the 007 movies.)
8. Serve the meat and vegetables with the pan juices or you can make a gravy (you're on your own with that).


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Morning Cuppa

Tea: it's a lifesaver. Particularly on a cold, dark, snowy February morning.