Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Crazy Corn

I was heating up leftovers for tonight's dinner and planned to just add some corn as a side dish. I looked in the fridge and saw half a green pepper as well as the end of a red onion so I thought let's just kick this corn up a bit! The results were great--don't be shy about inventing your own recipes :-)

1/2 bag frozen corn, thawed
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
some butter
some cumin
some salt and pepper

Sauté the green pepper and onion in butter in a small skillet adding some spices like salt, pepper and cumin. Throw in the corn and  keep sautéing--when it's all hot throughout, serve! Simple as that and way good.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Roast Broccoli and Carrots

Here's a nice easy side dish to make. I had grilled some chicken tonight so this went along with that quite nicely.

preheat 475

1 bunch broccoli crowns
5 large carrots, peeled and cut in diagonal slices
some olive oil
salt and pepper
some crumbled feta if you like

Mix vegetables with spices and oil and spread on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Roast 15 minutes then stir and roast another 15. Top with some crumbled feta if you like.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


We have a local steak house that serves good steaks (among other things) and I always forget that they have a market, too. Today I remembered and stopped in for Delmonico steak and hot Italian sausage. It was a perfect night to grill. If Michigan could have weather like this year around then it would be.......San Diego I guess? :-)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Roast Green Beans with Onion and Peppers

Here is a super easy side dish which tastes great and goes with a lot of different main dishes. I made a simple baked pork tenderloin and heated up some chipotle salsa to use as a sauce for the meat .

preheat oven 400

1 pkg trimmed fresh green beans
1 yellow pepper sliced
1/4 red onion sliced
4 T balsamic salad dressing
Handful of mozzarella cheese

Mix everything except cheese in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Roast 15 minutes and stir, then roast another 15 minutes. Spread a handful of mozzarella cheese over bean mixture and put back in oven for 10 minutes.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chicken Sausage Sandwich

We had some leftover chicken sausages in the fridge so I sautéed up some green pepper, onion and mushrooms and added a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and voila you have dinner! We also had corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Greek Roasted Shrimp with Olives and Feta

I was looking for a recipe for shrimp and ran into this one. I had to make changes due to what I had on hand. It turned out great. I served it over spiralized zucchini along with garlic bread.

  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
  • 1/4 red onion, Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • ⅓ cup White Wine
  • 14-½ ounces, weight Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1 whole Lemon, Zested And Juiced
  • 1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • ¾ pounds Shrimp, Peeled And Deveined
  • ⅓ cup Kalamata Olives, Halved
  • 4 ounces, Feta Cheese, Crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

Preparation Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the wine has reduced about halfway. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, lemon zest, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove skillet from the heat and place the shrimp in one layer over the mixture in the skillet. Sprinkle the olives and feta over the entire thing. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then sprinkle over shrimp-feta-tomato mixture.
Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, squeeze the lemon juice over the top.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chicken Sausage and Cabbage Stew

It's absolutely beautiful in Michigan right now as the days are sunny and crisp and the trees are beginning to turn. I love this time of year. It's also getting a little chilly at night and the weather has me thinking of cozy foods. This is a tasty stew but we found ourselves adding a little hot sauce to it. I think that might have happened because I didn't really add any extra salt to the recipe. It needed a little something. Once we added a bit of the hot sauce it was very tasty indeed.

1/2 lb smoked chicken sausage (sliced)
1 small head napa cabbage sliced
3 garlic cloves minced
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 onion, 1/2 sliced and 1/2 chopped
1 qt chicken broth
1 1/2 cups white wine
3/4 cup small pasta (I used ditalini)
1 can northern white beans, drained
2 bay leaves
some salt and pepper
1/2 t dried red pepper

In large lidded skillet, sauté chicken slices in some olive oil until they are browned-then remove to plate.

Next, sauté chopped onion and yellow pepper and garlic.  Add the beans. Add some salt and pepper and the red pepper. Add the wine and stir well.

Add sliced onion, sliced cabbage and sliced chicken sausage. Pour in the broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and add pasta. Cover and turn heat down for 30 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and add Parmesan cheese before serving.

Serve with crusty bread.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Salmon and Greens

After indulging in lots of feast foods during vacation, it's time to get back to more healthful eating. What better way than wild caught Alaskan salmon and some tasty nutritious greens?

1 lb salmon

1/2 pound Brussels spouts, trimmed and cut in half
1/2 lemon, cut in slices then quarters
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems sliced and leaves sliced into ribbons
2 cloves garlic, minced
some salt and Italian seasoning
some olive oil

Blanch the lemon slices for two minutes in boiling water--doing this before sautéing them makes them mellow.

In large skillet, heat a bit of olive oil and sauté the lemon. When they begin to get a bit brown transfer to plate.

Throw in the garlic and then the Brussels sprouts and Swiss chard chopped stems and stir around for about 12 minutes.

In an another pan you can sauté your fish (which has been rubbed with olive oil and well seasoned)
5 minutes flesh side down and then flip for about 4 minutes. Flip again and remove skin.

Into the the other skillet, add the the Swiss chard leaves and cover to let them wilt. Add some salt and Italian seasoning.

Divide greens into bowls, top with fish and then the lemons. Yum!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Arrabbiata Sauce

We just arrived home from a long driving trip and have unpacked and it's raining cats and dogs outside. I have no interest in venturing out for dinner so I've decided to scrounge around in the pantry and put together a nice rainy night dinner. I've decided to make an arrabbiata sauces since I have most of the ingredients. Once I got it simmering and poured myself a  glass of wine, I started to feel really sorry for folks who don't know how to cook (she said smugly).

3 T olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives chopped roughly
2 T capers, drained
28 or 26 oz crushed tomatoes
10 to 16 oz dried pasta ( I used Trader Joe's Papperadelle (wide pasta)
sea salt
Red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese

In skillet, briefly sauté garlic in olive oil, add olives and capers, then tomatoes and maybe 1/2 t salt and lots of red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food). Stir and simmer covered for 20  minutes.

When sauce is about done simmering, cook the pasta just shy of being done, drain and throw in the sauce skillet--mix thoroughly and spoon into bowls and top with Parmesan.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Batavia New York

If you ever happen to be driving on the New York Thruway (I-90) and stop over night in Batavia, I have a recommendation that will provide good grub and local color. I'm always amused at the "list" hotels provide of eating places to the people who are passing through: Bob Evans, Applebees, Olive Garden, etc. Really?? I usually always use Yelp and find a place where the people who live there actually go. Tonight we dined at Bourbon and Burger-- and it was a winner. Whatever was on tap was special at 3 bucks and I got a really big glass of Pinot Grigio for 5. My burger was perfect for me cause it was spicy: jalapenos and pepper jack cheese and fries were OMG!!! Tomorrow when we get back home it's back to salmon and kale!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mainely Meats

Below you will see a platter to serve the table at Mainely Meats--a really great barbecue/smoked meats place on Mt Desert Island. The platter has pulled pork, ribs, hot sausage, chicken thighs, baked beans and jalapeno cornbread. They also serve cole slaw and potato salad with this---I'm not kidding!
They also have great beers that are brewed right there at the Atlantic Brewing Company and I had Autumn Peeper which was just perfect.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lobster Time!

French Toast & Bacon!

Seriously there is nothing better than being in a special place with family and really nice when that family makes you breakfast! Luscious french toast by Anonymous and bacon by Buckie. Delicious!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Augusta to Acadia

On the way up 95 north in the state of Maine plan to be hungry as you approach Augusta and always get off the highway and make your way to the Red Barn for lunch or a snack. We had the best lobster roll, seafood stew, and fried clams--oh my! They were selling huge soft serve cones for a buck and it killed me that I was too full to partake!

For dinner we needed to do some comparison taste testing so here go again At Lunt's:

Plus a wonderful haddock sandwich!

No room for ice cream tonight :-(

Friday, September 12, 2014

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

If you've never been to Portsmouth I heartily recommend it. It's a quaint little town with a vital waterfront housing lots of shops, bars, and very good restaurants. We had dinner at a place called Black Trumpet and it was lovely-exposed brick, cooper table tops, impeccable service and terrific food. All that AND a top notch martini-well, 'nuff said. It's quite small and I made reservations well in advance :-)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cook Cat Is on Vacay

Seneca Falls is a nice stop along the New York thruway in the Finger Lakes Region. It's a very pretty little town with several good dining spots, pretty churches, refurbished main street, lovely views along Lake Cayuga and some claim to fame as birthplace of the Women's Rights Movement.

What will we remember most vividly? Nachos at Wolffy's Bar and Grill!

Wolffy's is a fun spot on the lake and although it was a little chilly for the deck we had a nice window table. Enjoyed their special ultimate nachos and were thankful that the waitress told us we could order a half portion even though it was not on the menu. The half was HUGE! Hubs enjoyed the local beer and I had a nice glass of New York pinot grigio.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Good Sandwich Combo

We make a lot of sandwiches around here and this is a winning combo:

2 slices Avalon Motown Multigrain
sliced turkey
mashed avocado with salt, pepper, and lemon juice
mayo mixed with Frank's Hot Sauce
slice of pepper jack cheese
big leaf of romaine

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chicken Waldorf Salad

This recipe is darn good if you happen to have a few bits and pieces of a roast chicken hanging around in the fridge.

1 cup shredded roast chicken
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4 toasted chopped walnuts
1 medium apple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 T mayo
some salt
juice of half a lemon

Mix the yogurt, mayo, lemon juice and salt together and add to the other ingredients.
This will serve two if neither of you is starving!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Pasta Bowl!

Don't you just love a nice big bowl of pasta? Honestly, you can hardly ever go wrong even when it's not that good. But, hey, when it's good, well, that's really nice. This is one such dish in my humble opinion. This is a cookcat original as far as I know. A friend told me about chicken sausages by Miller Farms and that's what I used here and they are scrumptious!! Nice tip, D. Here's what you'll need to have this happen in your kitchen:

12 oz radiatore pasta ( I love this shape-like an old fashioned radiator) or any shape pasta you have
1 yellow pepper, cut in chunks
1 small onion, in slices
3 smoked chicken sausages, cut in 1 inch slices
1/2 cup mint/basil pesto recipe here at http://www.thiscatcooks.com/search?q=mint%2Fpesto
or any other pesto you might have, commercial or home made
some dried red pepper
olive oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese
a handful of fresh spinach if you have it

Boil pasta according to pkg.
In large skillet, sauté peppers, onion, and sausage in some olive oil--adding a bit of red pepper flakes and some salt and pepper. When pasta is done cooking, save a cup of the pasta water and drain. Add drained pasta to the skillet, add the pesto and some reserved water and combine. Throw in the spinach and slowly add the rest of the reserved pasta water so that your pasta is not dry. Scoop into bowls and top with Parmesan and enjoy!

Serves two with leftovers.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Spinach and Feta Omlette

I have written before on the blog how much I love having breakfast for dinner. I had some leftover crash hot potatoes so I decided to add eggs and tomatoes and make dinner!

I made two omlettes using 2 eggs for each.

First, I quickly sauteed some chopped fresh spinach and one minced garlic clove in some olive oil and set that aside. Maybe a cup of spinach. Crumble some feta cheese-add a few dashes of dried oregano.

For one omlette: whisk two jumbo eggs, melt some butter in a small skillet. Add eggs and cook lifting the edges to let the egg run under and cook--this goes quickly. When the eggs look pretty cooked add half that spinach mixture to one third of omelet. Sprinkle on some crumbled feta and then fold over 1/3 and then on over one more time and slide onto plate. Total yum. Oh, don't forget to make the other omlette!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Crash Hot Potatoes

Oh my word, these are good. I was looking for something to do with a half bag of red skins in the pantry and I came across this recipe on the The Pioneer Woman blog. They are somewhat decadent but goodness gracious they are quite tasty. I guess if you aren't much of  potato fan then you might not be so enamoured.

Boil a half bag of red skins for about 20 minutes. Grease two cookie sheets well and place the potatoes on the sheets. With a potato masher gently smash each potato. Drizzle on some olive oil, salt and pepper and any spice you might have on hand. I used thyme.

Slide into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. They get all nice and crispy on the edges but still soft and fluffy in the middle-sigh-potato heaven.

Inspiration goes to: http://thepioneerwoman.com/

Friday, September 5, 2014

Basil/Mint Pesto

Here's a little different take on the normal pesto. For this you'll need to have some mint as well as basil and almonds rather than the traditional pine nuts.

1 cup basil leaves
1 cup mint leaves
2 garlic cloves
Juice from a half lemon as well as the zest
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
6 T olive oil

Put the first 6 ingredients in a processor and blend well, then add the olive oil slowly until you get the consistency you want. I added even a little more olive oil cause I wanted to use this as a sauce that I drizzled over room temperature roasted chicken slices.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bière Derrière Poulet

So, doesn't that subject line sound a lot classier than Beer Butt Chicken? Everything sounds prettier in French! We have made this dish several times and the link to it is here on the blog at  http://www.thiscatcooks.com/search?q=beer+can+chicken

This time the veggies I used were turnips, peppers, onions, and carrots. I tossed them with olive oil and salt and pepper and that spicy stuff mentioned in the link.

If you've never tried this, you need to :-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Spicy Pork with Zucchini

I just had to use my new gadget, the spiralizer! It is amazing. Very easy to use and to clean afterwards. This recipe is really easy.

¾ lb pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
1 T cumin
4 tsp olive oil, divided
1 chopped chipotle pepper and about 2 T of adobo sauce
2 tsp oil 
¾ lb zucchini, spiralized OR if you don't have that cool gadget, then julienned
Juice of one lime 
Salt to taste
1. TOSS pork tenderloin with cumin, 1 tsp olive oil, chopped pepper and adobo sauce. Heat 2 tsp oil in nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
2. SAUTE pork, turning, until cooked, 4 minutes. Transfer to plate.
3. ADD 1 tsp oil and zucchini. Cook, stirring, until zucchini get a little tender- 3-4 minutes. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Serve with pork.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is nostalgic for me. My mom used to make it when I was little and I wasn't a huge fan, except when she'd make it into grilled sandwiches. As I've gotten older, I have developed a taste for it occasionally. I think it's another one of those food memory dishes. My mom had a grinder and I liked watching her grind up the cheddar cheese. I think her recipe was actually pretty simple: ground up cheddar, mayo and chopped pimentos. I have a recipe that calls for a few more ingredients which give the mixture more of a bite. One thing is for sure:  it doesn't resemble that "orange" colored pimento cheese spread that you find in the grocery store!

It is definitely a southern dish and there as many recipes for it as there are cooks. It's good as a spread on crackers, toasted baguette, stuffed into celery or grilled up in a sandwich.

  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 ounces Monterey jack cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) pimentos (with juice)
  • 1 pickled jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1/4 yellow onion, grated
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper

Pulse the grated cheeses in a food processor until they're in small pieces. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and add the pimentos, jalapenos and onion. Add half the mayo at first, then gradually add more until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day!

It's the last holiday of the summer and time to put away the flag until we welcome summer again next year. If you're going to a gathering and need a quick, tasty appetizer these little Labor Day Bites promise to be a hit.

Cut bite size pieces of watermelon and feta cheese. Stack the pieces with a mint leaf in the middle. If you don't have any cute little American flag toothpicks you could always top each stack with a blueberry to get your colors.

Serve with a little bowl of balsamic vinegar for people to dip in. Nice flavor combo!