Thursday, June 28, 2007


Monday night I had an overwhelming urge to make chocolate chip cookies. In order to clear my conscience of guilt, I decided that I am really doing myself a favor by cleaning out my cupboards so that I don't have to move it all in a couple of weeks.

Well, I think that most everyone has figured out that when it comes to baking - I am hopeless. I can only hope and dream that my cookies will ever look this good. Besides that fact that I eat more of the dough than I bake, it never turns out. Yes, I am admitting the fact that I screwed up Tollhouse cookies from the back of the chip bag. When I got around to baking them, they turned into flat puddles with chocolate icebergs. Argh.

p.s. I am also admitting that I scraped them off the pan and ate the chunks. Waste not, want not.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Maccaroni & Cheese

What's better than macaroni and cheese when you need a little decadent comfort food? What I love about this version is that it tastes rich but it isn't - and its cheep to boot.

As I have said many times before, I am on a budget, and as of last week it became a tourniquet. Despite money being diverted to investments in my future, I must continue to eat like a queen, and queens eat cheese (this is speculation).

Last week, as loan documents were being processed and I was feeling poor, I opened the fridge and despaired that there was simply a bag of cheddar cheese, milk, butter, expired eggs, and a tube of tomato paste. What on earth was I supposed to do?!? After five minutes of dismay - duh. MC. So, off I set, only slightly concerned that the previous three times I had whipped this up I was disappointed at the grainy consistency and the lack of cheesy deliciousness. As it turned out, my lack of ingredients was my savior. I believe that my problem had been that I was trying too hard.

This time, I finely minced one small yellow onion and one clove of garlic, and added it to my saucier with butter and olive oil, over low heat. While that was becoming translucent, I added some salt, pepper and county dijon mustard - just a little because it intensifies the flavor of the cheese (yum), and a little sweet paprika, mostly for color. After about 5 minutes, I whisked in 2 tablespoons of flour and let it cook for a few minutes. Then I added about 1 and 1/2 cups of 1% milk and let that come up to a simmer. (This process of combining fats, like butter, with flour is called a roux, which is a thickening agent.) By the time the sauce reaches a simmer, the roux will be at its full thickening capacity; you may need to add more milk if the sauce is too thick. I then added about 2 cups of cheddar cheese and the sauce was done. This whole process takes about as long as boiling the water and cooking the pasta.

The final product was my best yet - even the leftovers were cheesy and delicious Next time you want Macaroni and Cheese - make your own!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hot weather calls for iced tea

This is more of a tip than a recipe, however, I have fallen in love with iced tea. I was visiting my parents, well about a year ago now, and in the back of the cabinet (I have grocery shopped many times in my parents cupboards) and found a box of Passion Fruit Iced Tea from Starbucks. According to mom, my sister had bought it and brewed a cup for herself - the problem being, the bags are intended to make a pitcher at a time. Mom happily sent it home with me (Sorry, Samantha).

I have really grown to love the stuff, finding it floral and spicy, but quite sour. I added simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled so it incorporates into cold liquid), and it was great. The only thing that makes it better - the frozen strawberries I keep in my freezer for impromptu smoothies used as ice cubes.

P.S. For those of you in the Madison area, Bluephies has the best iced tea.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We are experiencing technical difficulties:

I hope that you will be patient with me as my life is being turned upside down as we speak. Last Friday, I received my long awaited acceptance letter into Marquette University School of Law. Please keep in mind that I submitted my application in November of 2006, and have just received word; this has been a greater source of stress than you know. Additionally, for those of you recognizing the conflict between work and school, I will be attending Marquette’s part-time program and working full-time. (Yes, I realize this will be a challenge, however, feel free to look at the ridiculous cost of law school tuition.)

On Sunday, we found a home we were very interested in. By Monday night, Todd and I had bought a house. I am very excited because it affords me many things. Those of you who know me well, already know the first thing I will do: get a puppy! 

Please do not misunderstand; all of the things I have been pining after are now happening – work, law school, and a home – all within days of each other. After spending that past two years of my life in an excruciating holding pattern of uncertainties and monotony, I have suddenly been thrust into adulthood at lightening speeds. I have never been this excited before.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Papa!
P.P.S. Happy Belated Birthday, Samantha!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Sauce of my Childhood

Meat sauce is one of those basic things you grow out of when your palate changes, and you eventually forget. I was in the grocery store on Sunday debating the amount of energy I had to make meatballs (due to an intense craving) when vague memories of meat sauce surfaced in my brain. It turns out I had forgotten how good this dish is until my first bite. Everyone needs to get back to their youth now and then.

P.S. I am not the only one who thinks this is good (for those of you pu-puing me, I was so tired, I did use the store bought sauce, AND Todd went so far as to crown me the Queen of Sauces. So who's going to buy me a crown?

Riccio's Famous Meat Sauce

½ lg. Yellow onion, diced
4 Cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. Lean ground beef
1 tsp. Basil
1 jar Tomato & Basil sauce (Homemade is best, but I also like Classico brand)
1 lb. Pasta of choice


Over medium-low heat in a skillet, add the EVOO, onion, and garlic. Sweat until translucent, about 6 minutes, and transfer to another bowl. Increase the heat under the pan to medium-high and add the meat, salt, pepper, and basil. Brown the meat and break apart with spoon while cooking. Once brown, about 8 minutes, get rid of the excess fat. Return the onion and garlic to the pan and add the sauce. Simmer over low heat until pasta is ready and serve with lots of parmesan cheese – I recommend at least 30 minutes.