Thursday, March 31, 2016

Kielbasa and Potato Soup

 Good evening!  I am so glad to be sharing this recipe with you.  I haven't gotten in as many soups as I wanted.  As you probably know, soup is my "thing".  This recipe came along sort of by chance and I wanted to share it!

My sister had been out visiting our mom who has been sick.  On the way home, her, and her husband stopped at a small diner type restaurant and she ordered the potato and kielbasa soup.  She was surprise when it arrived that it was almost a tomato broth base, she assume it would have had a creamy base.  She told me she enjoyed it but wished it was creamy.  Well, I swept in like Superwoman and dove into making it how she "thought" it was going to be.  I bet if you asked her, she would tell you I DID save her day.  OK, maybe should would.  Alright, I kind of doubt it but, it was damn good, and I just had to share it!

14-16 oz kielbasa (sliced into coins or half coins)
1 T butter
1 T olive oi
1 lb (4-5 small or medium) red potatoes  (I used red, use what you have, I also did not peel mine)
1 medium carrot, grated
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups beef stock
3 cups water
2 cups half and half
4 T. corn starch
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a large soup pot, add in olive oil and butter.  When melted add in kielbasa and saute for 2 or 3 minutes to develop some color.  Add in potatoes and carrot, toss with the kielbasa.

Add in stock, water, salt and pepper, stir well.  Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

In a separate dish pour in the half and half.  Add in the cornstarch and whisk together.  Set aside, but you will need to whisk it one more time before adding to your soup.

After 15 minutes, add half and half mixture, and stir, let simmer another 5 minutes, covered.  Stir often.  Let the soup stand 5 minutes, and eat up!

I love this soup.  Like, really LOVE this soup and I hope you do too!

Monday, March 21, 2016


Note: This blog was written back in early Feb I believe.  With my mom being sick I am just sending it live tonight.

Hello friends!  Thank you for hanging out until my entrance back into the foodie world.  Life has had some pretty worrisome events taking place, but I think we are on the upswing and I miss the kitchen, I miss my foodie friends and it is great to be back!

Before I left town on on emergency 3 days ago, I had bought all the ingredients to make our own gyro meat.  My husband has been asking for quite some time and I just haven't researched it enough.  Well, I have had plenty of all nighters lately so I did some research.  Everyone has an ingredient they say you can't be without.  I kind of took what I thought was imperative from each of them and just went for it.  My husband is asleep and he has no idea we are having it for dinner.  I hope it is spot on and I won't be retesting it tomorrow, but if you are seeing this, I likely hit a home run!

Ground lamb is not hard to find in any of my grocery stores.  If necessary you can by some boneless lamb chops and have them ground by your butcher.  Just ask if you don't see it prepackaged. 

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground lamb
3 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. garlic powder
3 tsp. onion powder
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  You want this mixture to become almost like a dough.  If you don't have a food processor, use a hand or stand mixer and mix for 2-3 minutes.  If you have your hands, use those!  Now, excuse my honesty, but, the look of this mixture isn't going to be appetizing.  I have never been accused of not being truthful, so I am just laying it out there.  Be prepared.

Dump out on to a sprayed or lined baking pan. With wet hands form into a loaf shape.  Don't look at it, just do it.  HA!  If you want to use a loaf pan, go for it, otherwise let's get our "free form" on!

Place into the oven for 45-55 minutes.  Remove baking dish.  Carefully flip the loaf of gyro meat out, so that the bottom is now the top.  Place back into the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Our goal is to brown up all sides, just like it would be on a spit.

Remove and let cool 5 minutes.  My husband used this "retro" electric knife.  Retro is my way of saying my husband found it at a thrift store for 99 cents and it appears it has never even been used!  My husband is slightly obsessed with the electric knife at the moment.  Slice as thin or thick, but more thin, as you like.  Place on your warmed pita bread, top with any toppings you normally like.  We enjoy lettuce and tomato.

While I don't groove on tzatziki sauce, I do make an alternate sauce that I love!

1 cup sour cream
4-5 inches of a peeled and seeded cucumber
1/2 tsp dill seed (feel free to pulverize it in a spice grinder)

Mix together and chill until ready to use!


Sunday, March 20, 2016

...the daughter of Mama Chefwannabe

Good Sunday evening friends.  I know that about now, I would be asking you all what was for Sunday supper, who you shared it with and all that kind of nosey stuff.  The truth is, I haven't had the desire to cook a single Sunday supper in over a month.  I can barely just fix something for my husband to eat on a weekday, I just am not feeling myself, and hope you all understand.

I feel like I need to tell you all about Marlene Smith.  What a smart, funny, diva, demanding, kind hearted, beautiful, wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, daughter, friend, and neighbor she was.  I hate using the word "was".  It makes it seems like she is history and forgotten.  She was a fighter, with a will to live unlike anything I have seen.  She struggled, life held many struggles for her, and it held even more joy, she wouldn't want to talk about the struggles, she would just want to remember what she learned from them and how to not repeat them.  I miss her so much.  Let me start at the beginning...........

My mom was born in 1933.  She lived to the royal age of 82 (83 in July).  She grew to be the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.  She had many careers, she as a model (woo-woooooo), she was a teacher, she was a waitress, she was a secretary, but most importantly she was the mom of 10 children.  As the youngest of the 10, she always referred to me as her "baby".  I hated it.  I hated it so much, I would give my left arm to hear her say it just one more time!

My mom struggled.  Her and my dad who came just 9 months short of their 60th anniversary, were not wealthy in money.  Wealthy in love, and family, but monetarily, very, unwealthy.  My mom struggled with some emotional issues, arthritis, and a few other chronic issues.  My mom was not a perfect mom, I don't know anyone who is.  My mom was the best mom she could be, and she grew to be an even better mom with age.  Hers AND ours.  My mom and I didn't always get along great in my teen years, I don't know many teen girls who don't butt heads from time to time.  I even went a handful of years without speaking to my mom.  What a WASTE.  I can never get that time back and the truth be told.........I don't even remember what it was about!  Likely some bad choice I made that I didn't want to own up to.  Man, I have made plenty of those.  I realized pretty early in my 30's, that my mom was a wealth of wisdom and knowledge and love.  I decided instead of avoiding her at all cost, I should be spending every chance I could, spending time with her to learn everything I could from her.  I had so much to learn!  And before I knew it, I realized she was no longer just my mom she was becoming my best friend.  We spent a lot of time together and talked about many things.  We talked about the past, we dreamed about the future, and we watched LOTS of "Little House On The Prairie".

I learned so much about cooking from her.  We would laugh about how she could make 1 lb of ground beef and 2lbs of macaroni and her canned tomatoes feed all 12 of us.  How we would be on a treasure hunt for an actual piece of ground beef!  How she would add water to soup to make it go further!  Any meat she had leftover was going to undoubtedly become a ground up sandwich spread.  I curse those damn meat grinder inventors!  She made homemade spaghetti sauce like a dream.  It took her an entire day to cook.  I never knew you could even buy it in a store until I was 20 years old!  Cinnamon rolls, kolaches, meatloaf, and fried chicken were her claims to fame.  Nobody can TOUCH the woman's fried chicken, NOBODY.  I got to eat the ends of the rolls of cinnamon rolls that weren't perfect, and we used to eat raw ground beef and hot dogs, oh the things we did.
She always had a pitcher of ice tea in the fridge for friends dropping by.  She was a woman with manners and expectations of others manners, like a queen.  She always knew what fork to use,  the perfect lipstick color, and precisely what jewelry complimented an outfit.  I loved all of those things about her.

In mid January, my mom suffered a small stroke at home.  We drove to their house 4 hours away and after much resistance got her to agree to go to the hospital.  I had no idea the journey was not going to end in her return home, but her return HOME.  She suffered a few more strokes of ranging degrees of intensity.  She endured a brain surgery, set backs, successes that led nowhere and she still fought on.  She suffered physical pain, inability to eat, or speak, and looking back, she never waivered.  She continued to fight, until at last, it was time for her to close her eyes and open them back up in heaven.  I was not ready, none of us were ready, how can you EVER be ready?  The day she left she took a piece of all of us with her.  I don't know what life will be like in the future.  I don't know how I will feel tomorrow.  I know how she would want us to live our lives, but sometimes, grieving just has to happen.  I don't know when I will be done, or if I will ever be really done.  I know the day I get to see her beautiful face again, can't come fast enough.  I want the world to know she was here, and because she was here, the world is a better place.

I know there is no sense to these mad ramblings of a girl missing her mom, but, I just wanted to put a few things down.  She was awesome.  She was funny.  She was bitchy sometimes.  She was strong, opinionated, and full of love.  She expected the best, and always was striving for it.  She expected no less from her children.

I hope I made her proud.  I hope she was as proud to be my mom as I was to be her daughter, and I hope she knows, that with or without her on this earth, she will always be my best friend.

March 2, 2016 changed my life forever.  How it is changed is yet to be determined.  I pray everyday I can turn this sad, dark, lonely, lost feeling into joy, happy memories and determination.  Right now, it just feels lonely. 

I miss you my beautiful pirate hooker!  Thank you for being my mom AND my friend.