Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner…and then some

In the kitchen at Di's House

Grilled Mac Cheese Sandwich

The continuing saga of leftover macaroni and cheese….

I watch “Eat St.,” “Unique Eats” and similar shows on the Food Network and Cooking Channel.  Sometimes there is a sandwich or burger made with mac cheese.  I thought I’d give it a try.  I layered bread, cheese, thinly sliced mac cheese, more cheese, and topped it with bread.  Mine also has chopped pickled jalapeños on it.


I grilled it on the George Foreman Grill, hoping that it would help heat up the mac cheese in the middle.  The bread is kind of dark but I wanted to cook it until the cheese started oozing out.


It was fun to try, not all that bad, but on the other hand, not something I’ll probably make again.  We had some carrots to attempt to balance out the carbs a little.


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Mac & Cheese Quiche

I had over half a casserole of mediocre mac & cheese.  What to do.  I had been thinking of quiche, since a friend had made it recently (with feta – yum).  The mac & cheese was dry and didn’t have enough cheese.  Seemed like it would be an easy fix by throwing it into a quiche.


I also added sauteed onion & red pepper, mushrooms, and of course, more cheese.  I’m not sure if it was Bon Appetit or Gourmet magazine, that had an article about a foolproof Julia Child quiche…anyway, for the liquid, for each egg, add enough milk or half & half to make 1/2 cup, plus seasoning.  It’s such a simple concept.  If 3 eggs is not enough, then it’s easy enough to add another egg with the appropriate amount of liquid.  The quiche is then baked at 375 for about 45 minutes.


I think it was better than what reheated leftovers would have been.  For dinner, I added a salad made with the last of the peppers and tomatoes from my sis-in-law’s vegetable garden.

Quiche is one of those things that I love but seldom make.  I’ll have to make a conscious effort to keep it in mind.  It’s another good “clean out the refrigerator” dish.  It’s also what we’ll be having for Meatless Monday…leftovers!

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“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Or in my case, we’re not in the San Francisco Bay Area anymore.


These are some of the items on sale in the local grocery store ad this week.  Pork Jowls, breakfast pork chops (Pork…it’s what’s for breakfast!!!), and a 10 pound bucket of chitlins.  Everyone’s getting ready for Southern New Year’s.  I guess pork is traditional.  Also on sale are black eyed peas, canned mustard greens, and fresh cabbage.  It’s a whole different world here.

This made me think about the many, many years that Auntie Chiyoko and Uncle Isao hosted Japanese New Year’s for family and friends.  There, we had “osechi ryori” or Japanese New Year’s.  I guess the equivalent of black eyed peas would be kuromame (simmered black soy beans (for health).  I remember everyone always having at least a bite of kurikinton (mashed sweet potato and chestnuts) for prosperity.  And there was always mochi (rice cake made of glutinous rice).  It was served as ozoni (soup) but I always liked it microwaved with either soy sauce and sugar, or kinako (roasted soybean flour) & sugar.

The rest of us sansei (third generation) would bring a hodge podge of dishes.  One cousin always brought seven layer dip and tortilla chips.  My sister became famous for her baklava.  One time I brought ginger biscotti with chocolate chips.

There were always an assortment of strangers at the gathering, many of them students from I-House (International House – kind of a dorm at Berkeley for foreign students), where Auntie Chiyoko worked.

I miss the family of that generation and the tradition.

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Comfort Foods

Today was quite cold, I’m not sure it even made it into the 40’s.  I noticed a few of my Facebook friends made comfort food today…lentil stew, bread pudding, cornbread, among other things.  We had macaroni and cheese, here, from the January 2013 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.


I’ve never had much luck with baked macaroni and cheese.  I had high hopes with this recipe, because going into the oven it looked like it would be creamy, but when it was done, it was kind of dry.  Plus it needed more cheese.


I think with a few tweaks it will be a good recipe.  Either less macaroni or more liquid.  Definitely more cheese.  And maybe some sauteed onion mixed in.

Earlier in the day, I made pumpkin creme brulee.

It all started when I went out to brunch recently, and one of the desserts offered was pumpkin creme brulee.  However, the waiter regretfully came back to our table saying they didn’t have any more.  I ended up getting eggnog creme brulee instead.  Although the eggnog version was fine, my mind had already processed pumpkin and the thought was stuck in my brain.

waterbathThis picture shows that canning tongs come in handy for other things, like removing ramekins from a water bath.


I only made half the recipe, with 2 cups of whipping cream, and I got six 4.5 ounce ramekins out of it.  Thinking back to the restaurant, I am feeling embarrassed that I ate the whole dessert, it was so much bigger than my little ones.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the restaurant size was the equivalent of 3-4 of my little ones.  No wonder I was full for the rest of the day.

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Merry Christmas

It was a nice, quiet Christmas here.  I especially love the phone calls with family.  We had spaghetti, salad and rolls for dinner.  I made the rolls from homemade pizza dough, rolled it out and spread it with garlic butter, sprinkled it with parmesan and herbs, then rolled it up like cinnamon rolls.  Just a little something different for garlic bread.  I love garlic.  My camera has a “food” mode for photos but it seems to make them yellow-ish.  On automatic mode, everything looks harsh.  I’ll have to find a balance.


Yesterday I made turtle graham bars.  It is so simple, you lay out graham crackers, spread a butter & brown sugar mixture on top, then bake for 15 minutes.  The recipe calls for melting chocolate to spread on top, but sprinkling chocolate chips on the hot-out-of-the-oven mess, then spreading them around after a few minutes, was a lot easier.  This is one of those treats that is addictive, as in “I’ll just have one more.”  Here’s the recipe:


With chocolate chips melting on top


Container full of deliciousness

Lastly, I was touched by how thoughtful people were in the presents they gave me.  I’m so grateful.  Several of them came from just random comments I’d made, like wanting to borrow an espresso maker to try it out.  Instead of just loaning me one, I got one of my own.  Do you think I have a drinking problem…as in coffee?


I love coffee.  Over the years, I’ve accumulated about every kind of coffee maker under the sun.  I have French presses, a Mr. Coffee Keurig, Aeropress, and now a stainless steel stovetop espresso maker.  I use them all, just rotate through as my mood suits me.  I’m not one of those people that goes through pots of coffee a day, I usually only have one cup.  I just want it to be one GOOD cup.  My favorite is Peet’s Coffee, from Emeryville, CA.  Besides being good coffee, it reminds me of my Mom, and when we went out to dinner at Fat Apple’s restaurant in Berkeley, and it was a treat for her to order a cup of Peet’s with dessert.  This was way before coffee places like Starbucks were on every other corner, and long before the foodie craze.  I looked online and saw that Fat Apple’s is still there!

Well, here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

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Here we go….

I really don’t know where to start, so I’m just jumping in.  Sometimes what I make isn’t exactly from scratch.  We had French Onion Burgers for dinner the other night.  The idea came together when I had ground beef to use up, some old mushrooms, and then I opened the pantry door.


Around this time of year I stock up on things like Campbell’s soups, since they’re on sale, with good intentions.  I’ll be thinking how easy it will to throw together dinner with these items on hand.  Then I end up not using them.  (I give away extra stuff in May, during the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger food drive.)  For awhile I had been good, using what’s in my pantry and not buying anything new.  I lapsed and started buying things again, now I’m trying hard to use what I already have.

For this recipe, you pan fry hamburgers, then add French Onion soup, simmer for a few minutes, and voila, dinner is served.  The leftover soup is used to dip the sandwiches in.  I added sauteed onions and mushrooms too, with a sprinkle of crumbled gorgonzola.


Here’s the recipe:

Tonight if we were in California, we’d be having Crab Louie salad (with dungeness crab), the family tradition.  Since we’re home this year, we’re having (drum roll please) chili dogs and salad.  Christmas dinner will be spaghetti and garlic butter rolls.  I was going to have ham but decided against it just to simplify things.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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