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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Moroccan Vegetable Soup (Chorba) -- Charity Souper Bowl

Charity Souper Bowl entry -- go here to find out about this worthwhile cause!  Thank you for sharing, Kelsey!

I just decided to make this soup for lunch when I read Kelsey's post:

"It's obvious I love food. I mean, isn't that why all of us are here giving this little ol' blog a bit of our time? Food not only nourishes us, but it can calm us, excite us, and bring us together. But food's not the only thing that can do that.  Branny, of Branny Boils Over, knows that. She loves and knows her food, but she also loves animals with every fiber of her being. Whenever she talks about her beloved pups, you can just tell she'd do anything for them. In fact, she'd do anything to help any animal in need. That's why she's hosting her Charity Souper Bowl. You see, just by sending her the info on this post and having her link it up to her blog, Branny will donate $1.00 to the ASPCA."
I would like to dedicate this entry to Boots, our sweet orange tabby that has been missing since Dec. 1st.  I am still hoping that he is alive and well somewhere.  I have been leaving food outside but nobody has seen Boots, even though we set up the humane trap as well, hoping to lure him inside with yummy treats.  We caught and quickly released quite a few other cats (as well as one raccoon and one possum) but no Boots...  I am hoping that he found hiding spots farther away from home and there are kind people who leave food outside so he is not hungry...  We miss you, Bootsie, please come home!

Moroccan Vegetable Soup (Chorba)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 pound beef stew meat, (such as chuck) or lamb stew meat (shoulder or leg), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used lean beef stew meat)
6 cups reduced-sodium beef broth, or water (I used chicken broth)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 small turnips, peeled and diced (skipped, don't care about turnips)
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, leaves included, thinly sliced
Pinch of saffron threads (didn't have any so just used some ground saffron for color)
12 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus more leaves for garnish (used Italian parsley)
8 sprigs fresh cilantro, plus more leaves for garnish (didn't have any)
1 large zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 ounces angel hair pasta, (capellini), broken into small pieces (about 1/2 cup), or orzo, preferably whole-wheat (used mini farfelles)
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and turmeric; stir to coat.
  3. Add meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add broth, tomatoes and their juice, carrots, and celery. 
  5. Add a pinch of saffron for color.
  6. Tie parsley sprigs together with kitchen string and add to the pot. 
  7. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the meat is tender, 45 to 50 minutes.
  8. Stir in zucchini and cook, covered, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Add pasta and cook until soft, 4 to 10 minutes, depending on the type of pasta.
  10. Discard the parsley and cilantro sprigs.
  11. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Serve sprinkled with finely chopped parsley.
My soup is almost ready... the aroma is heavenly... tastes great, too!  Time to slice fresh bread and let hungry guys eat.  They have been patiently waiting, while playing some kind of football video game, for the past hour, lol.

Alice in Wonderland: Ideas, anyone? Update

Alice in Wonderland: Ideas, anyone?: "Anybody wants to name this photo? Mom and I saw this figurine last night at a discount store and burst out laughing. Why are they headless..."

Four years later, we're still together so turned out to be a valuable souvenir indeed! :)

Student Update

Remember the student with apron strings?  Well, haven't seen the student or overprotective Mama.  However, just got an email asking for another extension on the assignments due tonight.  Aaaaaaaah, my syllabus is clear -- no extensions w/out a valid excuse.  I reminded the student last two times s/he asked...  Three weeks of classes, three requests for extension... the student only completed a few assignments and did not do well on most... How do I get through this apathy?

Can't help but wonder if Mama is writing these emails...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Creamy Mac and Cheese -- Beware of Calories!

My job situation requires me to be four hours away for three days each week.  S. and A. (my brother) prefer to reheat leftovers than cook.  Both of them can and will cook if necessary but usually are too busy or lazy.  If I don't leave anything, they go for junk food... sigh...
A. requested mac and cheese for next week (and S. happily seconded that request) so I am making mac and cheese today.  Warning:  This recipe is NOT diet-friendly.  That's why I am making it and running away! ;)  However, it's super-yummy.

Source:  January 2002, Southern Living

Yield:  Large casserole dish that serves two hungry guys for at least three days.  The original recipe says 6-8 servings but they must be referring to REALLY generous servings.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (I usually add 1/2 tsp because they like it more spicy)
1/4 tsp granulated garlic (I usually mince 3-4 cloves and saute with butter; you can also add garlic powder)
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups milk (or 1 cup half-and-half and 1 cup water)
2 10-oz blocks sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded and divided (I only had one 16-oz bag of shredded Cheddar)
1 10-oz block extra-sharp Cheddar, shredded (see note above)
1 16-oz package elbow macaroni (I had mini Farfelles), cooked
  1. Cook macaroni as usual, drain.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet or sauce pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Preheat over to 350 F.
  4. If you choose to saute garlic, do it now.
  5. Gradually whisk in flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in salt, black and red pepper, and garlic (if you did not saute it already).
  7. Gradually whisk in half-and-half and milk.
  8. Cook, whisking constantly, 8-10 mins or until thickened.
  9. Stir in half of sharp cheese and all of extra-sharp cheese (I stirred all at once because I only had 16 oz).
  10. Remove from heat.
  11. Combine pasta and sauce with cheese.
  12. Pour into a lightly greased large casserole dish.
  13. Sprinke with remaining cheese (I decorated with cheese lattice, made of bacon-cheddar slices).
  14. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes (15 mins longer for a crusty top).
Note:  I sometimes add chicken or meatballs to make all-in-one meal.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chickpea Salad and Shish Kebabs

I found this recipe in Publix Family Style magazine.  This salad is so easy, delicious, and packed with good stuff.

  • 2 15-oz no-salt added garbanzo beans (aka chick peas), drained
  • 6 roma tomatoes, sliced (I prefer fresh on the vine tomatoes because they actually smell and taste like tomatoes; 3 medium tomatoes are usually enough)
  • 2 pickling cucumbers (not on the original recipe but we love cucumbers)
  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese (I really like basil tomato flavor)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil or mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar (I always skip)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (freshly ground is best, of course)
Mix all ingredients.  Enjoy!

Note:  There are enough ingredients to make a large bowl so this salad makes perfect lunch the next day.  Fresh pita (or any other bread) rounds off this meal.

However, I have two guys to feed tonight (S. and my brother, A.).  They want meat so making shish kebabs as well.

  • Meat (I used boneless country ribs today, with fat trimmed off)
  • Shish Kebab seasoning (or your favorite meat seasoning; I buy shish kebab mix at the specialty store)
  • 1 pkg mushrooms (portobellos are best but white will do)
  • Cherry tomatoes (didn't have any today)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 large lemon
Cut meat into chunks and season.  Season mushrooms.  Slice onions.  Add meat, mushrooms, and onions to the large bowl.  Squeeze one large lemon over meat and mushrooms.  Add mayo and make sure it coats meat and mushrooms.  Marinate for a couple of hours or overnight (best).  Since mayo is involved, be sure you marinate in the fridge.  Skewer meat and mushrooms.  Grill or broil/bake.

Inflatable Cars?! Really?!

I worked very late last night and so wanted to sleep in this morning.  So sometimes after 8:00 am I was dreaming about the full size inflatable car -- red, four door small sedan, Chevy Aveo maybe, if you must know. :)  I do drive a red car but it's a regular size two-door convertible, nothing like this crazy dream.  Anyway, I could even hear a commercial, something about wanting to wash your car and having fun with an inflatable car.  Like washing your car is fun, right...

Then the house phone rang and the guy wanted to sell Gevalia special-edition rare never-to-exist or sold again coffee.  I told him to get lost, as politely as possible.  Tried going back to sleep but my dream is gone... :(  So I made real coffee and got some work done instead. 

P.S. I did Google inflatable cars and you may be able to buy one here:

Supposedly, you buy the car online, it gets shipped to you in two cardboard boxes, and the estimated assembly time is less than two hours. The car is made out of "airbags" - the same polymer materials used to cushion NASA's rovers when they landed on Mars. The company claims that you can drive the car off a cliff without serious injury, and that it will float in a flood or tsunami.

Anyway, back to work...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

For the Love of Cooking: Crusty French Bread

For the Love of Cooking: Crusty French Bread: "If you read my blog you know that making homemade bread is very intimidating to me. I saw this recipe for crusty French bread on a blog call..."

I saw this recipe last night and decided to make it today.  We have some leftover baked chicken and potatoes so adding fresh salad and bread will take of dinner tonight.

  • 2 cups of warm water (1 cup)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (1 tbsp)
  • 3 tsp salt (2 tsp)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (1 tbsp)
  • 6 cups of all-purpose flour (3 cups bread flour)
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (2 tsp)
  • Cornmeal
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp water
  1. Place first six ingredients (through yeast) in the bread machine in the order listed. Select the dough cycle and press start.
  2. At the end of the cycle, punch the dough down (deflate it), then cover and let it rise a second time, until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  3. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
  4. Use a sharp knife and cut the dough into two equal pieces.
  5. Roll each piece into a rectangle.
  6. Roll up jelly roll fashion and pinch the seam together.
  7. Tuck the ends underneath.
  8. Sprinkle the baking sheet with cornmeal.
  9. Place the bread on the prepared baking sheet; cover and let rise until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  11. Carefully make several evenly placed diagonal cuts (with a sharp knife) on top of each loaf.
  12. Beat together the egg white and 1 tablespoon of water, then brush over each loaf with a pastry brush.
  13. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  14. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks. Enjoy!


I cleared my schedule to work today and tomorrow.  Feels great!  I am coding data now and then will work on my IRB request.  Later, will work on the prospectus.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Broccoli, Apple, and Chicken Salad with Raspberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

I enjoyed this salad for dinner tonight.  It was delicious and full of good stuff!

1 cup fresh broccoli florets
1 small apple
2 oz grilled chicken strips (deli)
Dried cranberries
Raspberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

Chop apples and chicken.  Add broccoli florets, cranberries, and vinaigrette.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Your own rules? I don't think so!

One of my students already missed last week's deadline because s/he did not have a book (available on reserve, as clearly stated in the course syllabus) and assumed s/he was not responsible for any assignments.  Sigh... 

End of story? No!

So this student shows up in my office, with Mom in tow.  Sadly, it happened before and I thought I made it very clear that Mom was not to interfere with her offspring's courses.  My request worked for one semester but here she was again, demanding that her child be allowed to make up assignments.  I very politely and kindly acknowledged her care for her child but firmly requested that the child (in mid 20s) be allowed to act as a responsible adult.  She apologized (not sure if she really meant it...) and the student understood that missed deadline cannot be reversed with the above-mentioned flimsy excuse.

End of story? Nope!

I get an email yesterday, a few hours before another deadline.  The student (or Mom writing for the student?!) is stating that s/he cannot install the required program on the library computer and, therefore, will be submitting documents via email attachments.  Library, on Sunday?  Also, this assignment has to be submitted through an appropriate link because it's too cumbersome to grade via email attachment.  I was not about to change my rules and invest extra time on grading just because this student is being irresponsible!  So I emailed back and stated that this assignment must be submitted via software and it's student's responsibility to find a computer that allows the download.  By the way, it's a web course and so students sign an agreement that they do have their own computer and are able to download programs, so there!

End of story? Not yet!!!

I get an email this morning, stating that since email attachments are not allowed, the student will be in my office tomorrow to submit files via USB drive.  The answer will be a firm NO.  If Mom shows up again, she will be asked to see the department head.


Friday, January 21, 2011

On productivity...

So far, a very productive day.  Made a nice progress on the research proposal data.  Also, incorporated some ideas into my prospectus.  Feels so good to have a whole day with no interruptions!

Partially Whole Wheat Yogurt Bread

I am determined to eat healthier and lose weight.  Also, I had some leftover plain yogurt.   So here is one of the recipes I have tried yesterday.  It's light, fluffy, and moist.  Even though it was great fresh out of the oven last night, we liked it even better for breakfast, lightly toasted.  Because of its slightly sweet taste, it's good almost plain -- I loved it with just a little bit of orange marmalade.

The original recipe is here.  Here is my modified recipe:

Servings:  25
2 WW PointsPlus per 1/4" slice; not sure about old WW pts

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp Aunt Jemima Butter Lite Syrup
1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour
2 1/4 cups white bread flour
2 tsp salt
3 tsp yeast

Add all ingredients to bread machine -- liquids first, yeast last.  Set on Dough.  When dough is ready, divide into two loaves and place into bread pans, lightly sprayed with non-stick spray.  You can, of course, make one large loaf, but I prefer smaller ones -- less time to bake and diet-friendly small slices. :)

Let rise for an hour in a warm draft-free area.  It's cool now so I boil some water in the microwave, slide in bread pans, and close the door (leaving the cup with water there, too).  Warm steam helps dough to rise.  It's especially important for whole wheat breads.

Preheat oven to 350 F and bake bread for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Lightly brush with butter or olive oil if you want soft crust.

The entire process takes less than five minutes but the aroma is heavenly.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A nice start...

After the last several semesters of chasing institutional deadlines and being forced to spend way too much time on issues that were not of much personal interest, I am finally back in control.  This semester will be very busy, no doubt, but things are already flowing nicely.  I am almost done with lesson planning for the entire semester (our new faculty member is shadowing me so I am forced to plan ahead but it's good -- once done, I can focus on other stuff)...  My major professor and I are working on an interesting research proposal that, fingers and toes crossed, will result in an exciting summer trip.  S. and I are working on a research proposal that, fingers and toes crossed once again, will result in another cool trip to a destination we always wanted to visit.  I am teaching a new course that involves playing with innovative technology tools so both my students and I are excited!  I am back on weight loss plan as well as dissertation installment writing -- both require taking small but determined steps.  So far so good!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Weight Loss Plan :)

- Приходит женщина в аптеку: (Woman visits the pharmacy).

- У вас есть дешевое и эффективное средство для похудения?  ("Do you have something cheap and effective for the weight loss?")

- Есть. Пластырь.  ("Yes, we do. Band-Aid.")

- На какое место клеить? ("Where should I apply it?")

- На рот. ("Your mouth.")

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Icebox Butterhons Pigs in Blankets

S. loves pigs in blankets and so I decided to give this recipe a try.  Store-bought croissant dough is still more convenient, of course, but homemade butterhorns taste so much better and cost significantly less.  They are very easy to make, even for people who have never made bread before.

The original recipe is here.  I cut it in half and still ended up with 24 small butterhorns.  It's plenty unless you're baking for a party.  Also, I ran out of milk and used plain Greek-style yougurt.  My rolls were light and fluffy but did have a slight taste of yogurt.  Milk adds sweetness and so I will make sure to use milk next time.


2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (I used 3 tsp)
1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°) I used 1/8 cup

2 cups warm milk (110° to 115°) I used 1 cup warm yougurt but will use milk next time

1/2 cup sugar (1/4 cup sugar)

1 egg, beaten (same)

1 teaspoon salt (same)

6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (2 cups bread flour and 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour)

3/4 cup butter, melted (1/2 stick butter)

Add all ingredients to your breadmaker (liquids first, yeast last).  Set on Dough cycle.  The original recipe provides directions for manual mixing -- too much trouble for me, I just use breadmaker.

When dough is ready, spray large bowl with non-stick spray.  Form dough into a large ball (it will be sticky but it's OK).  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Yes, refrigerate.  I had my doubts, honestly, but it really works. 

Punch down the dough and form into a large ball again.  Place dough onto a floured surface and divide it into two balls.  Roll out each ball into a large circle.  Cut into wedges (I had 12 per ball).

Roll up wedges.  I added turkey sausage links because I was making pigs in blankets.  You can stuff butternorns with other goodies -- roasted chicken, ham, cheese, jam, etc.  Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray.  Arrange rolls so they are not touching (as you can see from my picture, my rolls were touching and so edges are not as pretty as original recipe).  Let rise in a warm place for one hour, until doubled.

Bake at 350 F for 15-20 mins or until golden brown.  Brush with melted butter.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Year Party Appetizers

I had fun making these and they were a hit, too.

Penguins in Hawaii

The original recipe is here.  I made my own spread (recipe below).  Also, I made cream cheese snowballs and placed them around the igloo opening, then continued all around the igloo (to outline the igloo).  I didn't have any carrots so I used Cheddar cheese.  However, I would use carrots next time -- for better stability.  Finally, I decided to add tropical umbrellas.  S. took one look and quipped that these penguins are surely confused -- they got tired of the cold and decided to vacation in Hawaii.  Our young nieces loved penguins with umbrellas!  I think little hats would have been better but I was running out of time.

Imitation Crab Meat and Cream Cheese Spread

1 small container of flavored cream cheese (I used smoked salmon)
1 small pkg of imitation crab meat
5-6 celery sticks
1 small onion
1 tbsp barbecue sauce

Finely chop crab meat, celery, and onions.  Mix all ingredients.  Serve with buttery crackers (I used snowflake Ritz crackers).

No-Bake Cheesecake

4 8-oz cream cheese
4 cups white chocolate chips
16 oz heavy cream (cold)
1/2 cup favorite preserves (I had quince)

Beat cream cheese until creamy.  Slowly melt chocolate chips in a microwave (in 15-sec intervals, for approximately 1 minute).  Add melted chocolate and preserves to cream cheese.

Whip cold cream until stiff (be sure to use clean bowl and beaters).  Fold into cream cheese mix.  Decorate with raspberries and mint leaves.  Refrigerate at least overnight.

Cracked Pepper Turkey and Asparagus Roll Ups
Roll 2 fresh asparagus spears into thinly sliced provolone cheese and cracked pepper turkey.  Layer into buttered casserole dish.  Place small dabs of butter on top.  Heat at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.  If the top layer starts to brown too fast, cover with foil.

avandia class action