Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Report from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Chocolate Fruit Cake

This is a rich chocolate loaf fruit cake for those who really don't like fruit cake. It contains NO CANDIED CITRON or other sticky gunk.
Takes a little care to make but is well worth it.

Here we go:
2 c. sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon, Ceylon or Vietnamese if you have it
3 tbl Dutch processed cocoa powder (this is unsweetened cocoa powder, not hot cocoa mix)
1 Stick sweet butter (unsalted)
1 tsp dry instant expresso
1 c sugar
2 eggs, large or extra large
1/2 c. whole milk, not skim or low fat
1 c. dates, cut in half and pitted
2/3 c. assorted dried fruits, I use a mix of raisins, craisins (dried cranberries), apricots, cherries, & pineapple. Just cut the fruit into raisin sized pieces if necessary and DO NOT USE SUGAR COATED FRUIT, sweetened craisins are ok.
2 c. walnut halves/large pieces
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees,
Butter & flour a 9x5 loaf pan (8 cup size) if you want put the a piece of buttered floured parchment on the bottom of the pan, helps prevent sticking.
Sift together the dry ingredients. In an large mixing bowl, cream the butter, add the vanilla, espresso powder and sugar. Mix well. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the dry ingredients slowly and only mix until encorporated, do not overmix!. After 1/2 the dry stuff is mixed in add the milk, mix and then mix in the rest of the dry ingredients. Slowly, & only by hand, mix in the fruit and nuts.
Pour into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 90 minutes or so until a cake tester come out clean (for you uninitiated a cake tester is a clean broom straw, long toothpick or very fine skewer. It should come out without any cake sticking to it when the cake is done.
Let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so, then remove from the pan and let cool completely. The crust will be crunchy, don't worry it's not burned but you'll need to slice it with a bread knife.

Enjoy, This is great either by itself or with a scoop of ice cream

Adapted from Maida Heatters Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

The Grumpy Test

Do you pass the grump test???

If at least one of these pictures does not make you smile, then you are grumpy and need to go back to bed.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The following is the official announcement from the American Board of Surgery. This was my second recertification exam and now I don't have to do it again for another 10 YEARS!!!!

Following is a summary of Board records for your recent examinations. Please print a copy for your records as this will serve as a confirmation for changes submitted.

Records for Completed Examinations

Following are your itemized results from your recent Board examinations. These results are accurate and final. Please do not call the Board office to verify your results. A written confirmation for all examinations is mailed on official Board letterhead to your primary address as noted above and provides details on your results. For reasons of examination security, review of examination questions in the Board office is no longer permissible. Also, manual scoring of examination results is no longer appropriate as examination responses are recorded electronically.

General Surgery 2008-2009 Recertifying Examination
Status: Completed Examination
Result: We are pleased to inform you that you successfully passed this examination.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Report from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Seafood Paella


1/3 lb. shrimp, peeled (reserve the shells for broth)
Pinch of saffron threads
Salt to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 lb. scallops
1/2 onion, grated on the largest holes of a box grater
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 ripe tomato, halved and grated on the largest holes of a box grater (discard the skin)
1 1/2 cups medium grain rice
8 small clams (1/2 lb.), scrubbed
1 lemon, cut in wedges for garnish

  • 1/3 lb. shrimp, peeled (reserve the shells for broth)
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 lb. scallops (or calamari, cut in rings)
  • 1/2 onion, grated on the largest holes of a box grater
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 ripe tomato, halved and grated on the largest holes of a box grater (discard the skin)
  • 1 1/2 cups medium grain rice
  • 8 small mussels or clams (1/2 lb.), scrubbed
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges for garnish

In a medium saucepan, boil 3 1/2 cups of salted water. Add the shrimp shells and simmer, covered, for about 10 min. Strain the broth, and return it to the saucepan. Toast the saffron gently (in a dry skillet or toaster oven), crush the threads with the back of a spoon, and add to the shrimp shell broth. Taste for salt; the broth should be well-seasoned.

In a 14-inch paella pan, heat the oil on high. Meanwhile, pat dry the shrimp and scallops . When the oil is hot, sauté the shrimp and scallops until almost cooked through, about 2 min. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Pour out all but 1 Tbs. of oil from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion softens, about 5 min. Add the tomato, season with salt, and sauté until the mixture, called the sofrito, has darkened and is a thick purée, 10 to 15 min.

Meanwhile, bring the shrimp shell broth back to a simmer. When the tomato-onion sofrito is ready, add the rice to the pan. Sauté until the rice loses its opaqueness, about 1 min. Increase the heat to medium-high. Pour in 3 cups of the simmering broth (reserving the remaining 1/2 cup) and stir or shake the pan to evenly distribute the rice in the pan. As the liquid comes to a boil, arrange the mussels or clams in the pan, submerging them as much as possible below the level of the liquid. From this point on, do not stir the rice.

Cook the paella on medium-high, rotating and moving the pan over one or two burners to distribute the heat. When the rice begins to appear above the liquid, after 8 to 10 min., reduce the heat to medium low. Continue to simmer, rotating the pan as necessary, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 min. more. Taste a grain of rice just below the top layer; it should be al dente. (If the rice is not done but all the liquid has been absorbed, sprinkle a bit of hot broth to the pan and cook a few minutes more.) Arrange the shrimp and scallops (or calamari) in the pan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook gently for another 2 min. to help ensure that the top layer of rice is evenly cooked. With the foil still in place, increase the heat to medium-high and, rotating the pan, cook for about 2 min., until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating the socarrat. The rice may crackle somewhat, but if it starts burning, remove the pan from the heat immediately.

Let the paella rest off the heat, still covered, for 5 min. Sit everyone down at a round or square table. Remove the foil and invite people to eat directly from the pan, starting at the perimeter, working toward the center, and squeezing lemon over their section, if they want.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Report from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Corned Beef with Horseradish, Mustard Glaze


3 - 4 lb piece of corned beef brisket (try to get the leanest piece possible)
1.5 tbl Pickling spices, depending on the brand of corned beef you buy this may be included with the beef.
1 medium onion cut 1/2 way through in to quarters
6 cloves of garlic, whole
1 bay leaf

1/2 c. dark corn syrup
1.5 tbl. white horseradish (hot or regular, your choice)
1.5 tbl dark mustard, smooth (i.e. not with whole mustard seeds)

Rinse the beef thoroughly to remove as much salt as possible. Place in a heavy kettle large enough to hold the beef and all the spices completely covered with water but don't put the spices in just yet. Cover the beef with cold water and bring to a boil skimming off all the scum as it forms. After the scum stop forming, remove the beef from the pot, again rinse it carefully and then dump the water in the pot and refill it with fresh cold water. Return the beef to the pot along with the spices, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the beef is fork tender, about 3 - 4 hours. Remove the beef from the pot and, while it is still hot, remove as much surface fat as possible by scraping across the surface with a flat wooden paddle or the back side of a knife (don't use the sharp side or you'll shred the meat, you must do this while the meat is hot since the fat is soft at this point and will come off easily). Place the meat in a foil serving tray or wrap in foil and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours but overnight is better (DO NOT omit this step, if you do, the beef will still be very soft and the glazing won't work properly).

Mix the horseradish and mustard into the corn syrup and heat until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool (don't put this into the refrigerator or it will turn into horseradish candy).

Put the beef on a cookie sheet or similar oven safe tray lined with foil (this makes the clean up easier, I use the foil I wrapped the beef in while it was chilling). Heat the broiler. Brush the glaze onto the top and sides of the beef and place under the broiler until it begins to brown. Depending on the distance from the heat this will take somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes. Watch it carefully since the glaze will go from browned to burned very rapidly.

This can be served immediately or saved for later.

Notes: You can easily increase this recipe, I will normally make 4 beefs at a time using a canning kettle. You only need to increase the glaze by about 1/2 for each extra beef since the recipe makes plenty and you can't make less than 1/2 cup. So for 2 beefs use 3/4 c. of syrup, 3 beefs use 1 c of syrup, etc. Take my word for it you'll have more than enough. It's just a shame the glaze won't keep.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Recipe from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Baked Cabbage with Bacon


3/4 pound bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips, use the good stuff here I use jowl bacon when I can find it & make sure it's thick sliced.
1 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound cabbage, quartered, thinly sliced
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced, wash it well to get out all the sand
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups panko


Preheat oven to 375°F. Place bacon in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Cook until fat begins to render and bacon begins to brown, about 12 minutes you want it browned but not too crisy. Add cabbage and leek. Sauté until cabbage wilts, about 10 minutes. Add water; bring to boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to medium and simmer until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover, increase heat and boil until all liquid evaporates, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Mix in parsley and green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to 9-inch deep dish pie dish.

At this point you can put the dish in the refrigerator for a few hours & just before serving add the crispy topping.

Melt butter, I just use the microwave. Add panko & stir to make sure it's all coated. Sprinkle panko over cabbage mixture. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Report from the Twit Army Mess Hall - White Clam Sauce


1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup bottled clam juice
1 lb linguine
2 lb small cockles (up to 1 inch across; 5 to 6 dozen), scrubbed well
if you can't find them you can use bottled italian clams, use the liquid in the bottle instead of the bottled clam juice then.
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Heat oil in the large sauce pan until hot but not smoking. Cook the onions until browned, add garlic, oregano & red pepper and cook for about another 2 minutes. Add clam juice and wine and boil until reduced by about 1/3 (about 3 - 4 minutes). Add cockles & boil for 5 to 6 minutes, discard any which do not open. If using the bottled clams add them at this point.

Remove from heat stir in the buttler & parsley and serve over linguini.

Serves 4

Monday, December 22, 2008

Recipe from the Twit Army Mess hall - Cioppino

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine, I use chianti
  • 1 (28- to 32-ounces) can whole plum tomatoes, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
  • 1 cup bottled clam juice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (1-pound) king crab leg, thawed if frozen and cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces, **
  • 18 small (2-inch) hard-shelled clams (1 1/2 pound) such as littlenecks, scrubbed
  • 1 pound skinless red snapper or halibut fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20), shelled (tails and bottom segment of shells left intact) and deveined**
  • 3/4 pound sea scallops, tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil


Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half (it will start to look a little syrupy), this should take 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  At this point you can cool the broth & store it in the refrigerator until the next day.  One hour before serving take out of the refrigerator and warm slowly over medium heat until just about boiling (so that the seafood will cook properly)

Add crab pieces or crab meat and clams to stew and simmer, covered, until clams just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened clams to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes.) Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf, then return clams to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil.

Serve cioppino immediately in large soup bowls.

Serves 6 to 8

This recipe can be easily doubled if you have a large enough pot but not made smaller, you need to have that much broth for the seafood to cook properly.

** if king crab is not available you can substitute frozen crab meat (just not surimi it's too sweet) but then leave the shells on the shrimp.  You'll have to clean the shrimp but you need to have the shells in the broth for the flavor.  

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Report from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Chicken Stew, Cajun Style


3 lbs of bone-in chicken parts (I use thighs & legs)
Kosher salt
3 tbl vegetable oil
1/2 c. flour
1 large celery rib, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
3 c. water or chicken broth (I use the broth, adds more flavor to the gravy)
1/4 tsp cayenne or cajun style seasoning (I use 1/8th of each again it adds more complexity to the gravy)
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions


Wash & salt the chicken to taste. In a dutch oven (preferably cast iron) large enough to hold all the chicken, place 1/2 the oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Brown the chicken in batches (about 5 minutes per side) and place in a bowl to catch all the drippings. Add enough additional oil to the pot to make up about 1/4 cup of oil in total, add the flour and scrape, not stir, for about 15 minutes until the flour is the color of a milk chocolate candy bar. Add the vegetables and cook until the onion is soft but not browned scraping the pot occasionally (don't stir), about 8 minutes. Add the broth, or water, and bring to a boil. This will look really strange (the roux will look like curdled lumps sticking to everything at first) until it comes to a boil when the roux will melt into the broth, just have faith & keep stirring. Add the chicken, partially cover the pot & cook for about 30 minutes until the chicken is done. At this point you can take the pot off the heat and either refrigerate it until the next day or just let the pot keep it warm for up to 1 hour. Right before serving add the cayenne & other seasonings, reheat until just below the boiling point, add the green onions & serve over rice.

Serves 4.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sanity returns and a Schedule Update

Now that the exam is over (at least until January 27th when I find out the results) I can relax somewhat and let things get back to normal. For now my schedule is:

1) Finish up an editorial review of a submitted article for a peer review journal I'm on the review board of (Due next week)

2) Party with the girl friends this Saturday at Where Victoria's Angels Stitch ( in Clifton, NJ for our annual Metrostitchers' holiday party (Metrostitchers are a group of greater NY area needleart crafters, things like cross stitch, knitting, canvas work, etc. who also include designers). Good food, good friends, good stitching & a gift swap.

3) Lecture at a hospital in Medford, MA on emerging trends in nutritional support (my area of medical expertise). January 27th.

4) Head to New Orleans for the annual ASPEN meeting (American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition) January 29th thru Feb 4.

More to come as more things are scheduled

Monday, December 8, 2008

Report from the Twit Army Mess hall - Chicken & Rice, Latin Style

2 pounds chicken thighs with skin and bone
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup medium-or long-grain white rice, I use Basmati
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf (Make sure you check, Turkish bay is much milder than California bay leaves)
1 cup frozen peas (not thawed)
Garnish: chopped flat-leaf parsley

Pat chicken dry and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (total). Heat butter and oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet (at least 2 inches deep) over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then brown chicken, turning once, about 10 minutes total. Transfer chicken with tongs to a plate.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoon fat from skillet. Cook onion and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add broth, water, saffron, and bay leaf and bring to a full boil. Nestle chicken in rice, keeping as much rice around (rather than under) chicken as possible, and add juices from plate. Simmer, covered tightly with lid, over low heat until chicken is cooked through, rice is tender, and most of liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peas. Cover with a kitchen towel but keep the towel off the food and then lid and let stand until all of liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf and serve.(very important, a bay leaf is actually sharp enough to perforate the intestines).

Serves 4

This is easy to make but must be served as soon as cooked, you can't keep it for the next day

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Kielbasa and Cabbage


1 lb. kielbasa or other smoked sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb bacon, thick sliced or you can get slab bacon and cut it into chunks
1 medium cabbage, cut into chunks
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 c. water
2 tbl caraway seeds (optional)


In a Dutch Oven or similar pot cook the bacon until crispy, remove and drain on paper towels. Brown sausage in the drippings and then remove. Drain all but 1 tbl. of dripping from the pot. Add onions and cook until softened but not browned. Add cabbage & caraway and stir to coat with the pan drippings. Add water, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add sausage and simmer for 20 minutes more. Crumble bacon, mix into sausge & cabbage and serve.

Serves 4
This is a good cold night recipe but doesn't keep well it dripping will congeal and it's hard to reheat without burning the cabbage.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Review of my Dell Mini-9 Netbook PC

I've had the Netbook for a little over 6 weeks now and am getting used to it's ways so it's about time to post some of my thougts about it.
I'm not going to list all the specs for the machine since they are well laid out on the Dell website. I will list the customization that I selected for them machine and then my Pros, Cons & final opinion.

Customized options
O.S - Windows XP (I know but my hospital's lame IT people wouldn't authorize this PC to log into the VPN if it was a Linux one)
16 gig SSD
1 gig RAM
1.3 megapixel webcam

  • It's a small, light machine which will easily fit into my briefcase, the power cord has just a relatively small box on the end instead of the larger brick so that is no problem to carry around
  • The screen is a bit 'glarey' but not too bad unless light is shining directly on it, it is a fingerprint magnet though. Color reproduction is excellent the the screen & video card refresh rapidly enough that watching DVD's show no appreciable smearing or lag.
  • Excellent WiFi antenna reception. I'm getting great reception at the ragged edge of my home's WiFi network even in areas where my husband's HP laptop can get nothing
  • The SSD is a bit slow to load programs but once it does the machine's performance is more than adequate for browsing, word processing, e-mail & other basic functions.
  • Battery life is more than enough, I'm getting 4 hours (or more if I turn the bluetooth off) of time before I have to plug in the machine to charge
  • The widescreen form factor is great for watching movies on a plane or while waiting at the airport/train station (you have to plug in the optional optical drive for this but the one available is very lightweight and easy to carry, does affect battery life though)


  • Biggest complaint NON STANDARD KEYBOARD!!! Many keys have been moved or shrunken to fit into the smaller form factor. I don't mind the function keys being moved to the home row or the tab & shift keys being narrowed but moving the '/" key to the bottom near the space bar is driving me buggy. I've lost track of the number of times I've hit the enter key by mistake, not a big deal while word processing but for filling out forms or microblogging it's a major pain
  • The webcam requires a lot of ambient lighting to get an adequate image. In low lighting situations the picture is grainly almost to the point of unusability.
  • The USB hard drive offered by Dell with this unit will not work with it. The WD Passport (their recommended external drive) requires 1000 mAmps to spin up and the maximum power output of the USB ports on this unit is 500 mAmps. There is an optional 'split usb' cable available but Dell doesn't offer it so I had to get it from the manufacturer & this version of the drive doesn't have the option for an external power cord as some of them do. I'd suggest that you get an external drive with either the split cord or power cord option. The Iomega drive worked just fine on this unit once I plugged in the split USB cord
  • The mouse pad is too close to the space bar and far too sensitive. It's very easy to brush up against it while typing and have the mouse cursor bounce all over the screen. Also, it has those scroll option areas on the bottom & right side of the pad but they're not marked at all so it's difficult to tell where they are. I solved this by getting a minimouse and using that, when the minimouse is plugged in the touchpad can be automatically disabled (an option) so that problem goes away. Turning down the sensitivity of the pad to the point where accidental brushes didn't occur made it so insensitive that you really have to tap on the pad to make it work. It's almost an "all or nothing" type of option.
  • I'd have preferred a little more range of motion for the screen, it only opens to a maximum of about 75 degrees from the horizontal. More than enought when you're working at a table but not really enough when you've got the unit in your lap at an airport or on a train.
  • Many may find the wordprocessing software inadequate. The most you get is Microsoft Works (& that's only if you get the 16 gig SSD option). This wasn't a problem since I'm not using the unit for major text editing and there are viewers for both Excel & Powerpoint included. Also, I have access, via my institution's VPN, to Microsoft Office 2003 and can do any major work once I log into their network.
  • When they say XP home, they mean the real basic installation. Although sp3 was included the unit came with IE6 & WMP XP, both of which I had to upgrade to Firefox & WMP 10 respectively (I'm not adding a lot of extra software to this machine, after installing Java, Flash, Adobe Air & Firefox, I've only got 9 gigs left (of the original 16) on my SSD. I use a 8 gig USB key for data storage but hibernating the machine takes almost 1.3 gigs so I'm trying to avoid installing anything else.

Summary & Conclusions:

This netbook is more than adequate for the purposes I purchased it for (e-mail & web browing while on the road). While not as speedy as most laptops or desktop machines the performace (at least with 1 gig of ram) is zippy enough to play DVD's or stream music or YouTube videos from the net without visable lag or stuttering. While it certainly will not replace a standard computer for most people it's a great 2nd machine for traveling or a good machine for those who want the only the basics (i.e. e-mail, web browsing, IM'ing etc) for a very reasonable price

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Tamale Pie

The Finished Dish



3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold water
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I use Penzey's medium, salt free)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, not oil. you could use bacon dripping or lard if you're into cholesterol & a really authenic taste (real tamales use lard in the cornmeal wrapping) but you need a fat which is relatively solid at room temperatures
1/2 cup grated Cheddar or Mexican blend cheese, for topping (Optional)
Sliced black olives (Optional)


1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 small can (14 ounces) tomatoes with chile peppers
1 can (15 ounces) whole kernel corn with peppers, drained
1/2 can ripe olives, sliced (save the rest for the crust)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbl chili powder (Again, I use Penzey's Medium, salt free)
1 cup grated Cheddar or Mexican blend cheese (Optional, if you use cheese on the crust, I'd omit it here)


Brown ground beef with onions; drain well. Add tomato sauce, tomatoes & chiles, corn, olives, garlic, & chili powder. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until thickened (This needs to be relatively dry & not soupy). Add cheese if using it; stir until cheese is melted. Set filling aside.

In a saucepan, combine cornmeal, salt, water and chili powder. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Stir in butter. Spread half of the mixture into a baking dish, I use a deep dish pie plate. Spoon filling over bottom crust; spoon remaining cornmeal mixture over filling. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes. If desired, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese & the rest of the sliced olives over the crust about 5 minutes before casserole is done. (Necessary if you want the top crust to brown up properly, if you put on the cheese when the baking starts it will prevent the top crust from setting up properly)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Chili con Carne


1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. stew meat cut into pieces about 1/2 the size of a eraser
1.5 c. chopped onions
2 tbl. chopped garlic
3/4 c. chili powder
(n.b. I use Penzey's medium heat but use what you want, if you use pure powdered chile, i.e. nothing but ground chile, you'll need to add 1.5 tbl of cumin)
1 tlb. sweet paprika
1 - 2 tbl. cayenne pepper
1 8 oz can tomato puree (you can use sauce for a thinner chili sauce)
16 oz. water
1 can corn with peppers
1/4 c masa harina (This is finely ground corn flour, not corn starch, you can't subsititute)

Optional add ins
Grated cheese
Chopped onions


Brown meat pieces when about 1/2 way done add the ground meat & onions & finish browning all the meat. Drain off as much fat as possible.

Mix spices into water to dissolve, add garlic, spiced water & tomato puree to pot & stir to mix, let simmer for 2 - 3 hours to blend the flavors (since the meat is already cooked you could theoretically eat this within 30 minutes but the longer it simmers the better the flavors blend)
1 hr before eating add the corn. 30 minutes before eating add the masa & stir well (This will thicken up the chili)

I serve this in scooped out sour dough bread bowls covered with chopped onions & cheese but you can serve it any way you want.

Serves 4 (or only 2 if you REALLY, REALLY like chili)
This can be easily doubled or tripled & you can freeze the leftovers for up to about 3 months to heat & serve later.

Also, this can be made in a slow cooker on low. Cook the meat in a skillet & then add everything but the corn and masa to a slow cooker. Cook on low for about 6 hours then add the corn & masa, cook for another 30 minute then serve.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - King Ranch Casserole

4 chicken thighs, skinless & bonless
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 pkg. corn tortillas, cut into strips
2 c. grated 'mexican style' cheese
1 can tomatoes & green chiles
1 can cream of chicken soup
Black olives, slices

Poach chicken & onions in broth & water, when done remove chicken, cool & shred, leave the onions with the broth.
Measure broth & add additional water to bring total vol to 1/2 cup, add tomatoes & soup and heat to simmer.
Line bottom of deep dish pie with 1/2 of tortilla strips. Then over that add 1/2 of chicken, a layer of 1/2 of the cheese. Pour over 1/2 of the sauce, Repeat layers but this time add the sauce first & then the cheese so the cheese is on top. Dot with sliced olives.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serves 4 - 6

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Shrimp Dirty Rice


2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 pound ground meat (I use andouille which I grind up but use whatever you like)
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne**
1/2 teaspoon paprika**
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano**
1 bay leaf**
1 3/4 teaspoons salt**
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper**
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
3 cups canned low-sodium chicken or shrimp broth or homemade stock
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and halved
2 scallions including green tops, chopped

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the ground meat and cook until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. (If you're using precooked sausage skip this step and just add the meat to the pan, & cook until heated)
Reduce the heat to moderately low and add the rest of the oil to the pan. (Again if it's a high fat sausage you might not need any more) Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cayenne, paprika, oregano, bay leaf, salt, black pepper, and rice. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
Raise the heat to moderate and stir in the shrimp. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, until the rice and shrimp are just done, about 5 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the scallions.

** If you're using a highly spiced sausage none of these may be necessary
Serves 4
This one must be served the same day it's cooked, doesn't keep worth beans but it's quick & easy to make

Friday, October 31, 2008

My Personal Favorite Motto

Here is another needlework finish (Not framed yet, just got it done last night), it's not a detailed as some of my work but the sentiment suits me perfectly! (This pattern was a gift from a friend who also saw it and said "Lil, this is just you"

The pattern is called "Getting Old Sucks" by Raise the Roof Designs

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Meat Lasagna

This recipe has a TON of variations possible. I've listed the ingredients generically, check at the bottom for the possible variations.

3 c. of your favorite marinara style sauce (I like a Fra Diablo & combine it with sweet italian turkey sausage)
1 lb of meat (Check meat options below)
12 pieces of lasagna, cooked or the oven ready type
1 egg, lightly beaten
15 oz. ricotta cheese (any fat content you'd like)
4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese or if you're ambitious you can get a fresh ball of the cheese (you need about 1.5 lbs), freeze it & thin slice it, now you're turning this into a 2 day prep dish since the cheese will need to freeze overnight to be firm enough to slice paper thin & I am NOT RESPONSIBLE for sliced fingers)
1/3 c. chopped fresh italian parsley
2 medium or 1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano (neither this or the basil are necessary if you use italian sausage instead of plain meat)
1/2 c. shredded pecorino romano (please not the stuff in the green tube)


Preheat oven to 350

Take the ricotta out of the refrigerator 1 hr before using so it comes to room temperature and is easier to spread.

Cook the pasta (if not using oven ready) according to the package directions, lay aside on sheets of foil or waxed paper so they don't stick together.

Cook meat until lightly browned, 1/2 way through add the onions so that they soften but do not brown. Depending on the fat content of your meat you might need to add oil to the pan.
Add the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes to blend. Take off the heat & put aside.

Mix together ricotta, 1/4 c. of romano, egg, parsley and other herbs (if using).

Assembly instructions

Put enough sauce in the bottom of the pan (a 9"x13" foil pan works fine) to cover.
Layer the ingredients in the following order:
  1. Pasta - 3 pieces (if you like extra pasta you can use 4 & overlap but then make 16 pieces to start
  2. 2/3 cup of cheese mixture
  3. 3/4 cup of meat sauce mixture
  4. 1 c. mozzarella or enought slices to cover

Repeat two more times

Now put on the last pieces of pasta, spread on the rest of the meat sauce, then the last cup of mozzarella and 1/4 c. of romano.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minute, remove foil and continue cooking for another 10 - 15 minutes until hot, bubbly & slightly browned.

Let stand at least 5 minute before serving to firm up otherwise when you cut it the meat & cheese will just run out from between the pasta layers.

Serves 10 - 12

This keeps very well in the freezer for up to 3 months, assemble it but do the baking right before you serve it. Be sure to let it come to room temperature before baking.

Meat options
Ground pork
Ground turkey
Store bought italian sausage either pork or turkey (if you use sweet I'd suggest a spicy sauce, if hot a more mild sauce)
Home made italian sausage (my favorite, I use ground turkey & Penzey's seasoning mix, one suggestion, this really needs to be made up the day ahead to let the spices hydrate and mix in well with the meat, if you use it right after you mix it up it won't taste right)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Latest Needlework finish

While I was out with the girls this afternoon I picked up my latest needlework finish from the framers. It's still in it's overwrap since it's going to hang on the wall of a needlework shop as a show model for the next few months but if you want to see what I do in my 'spare time' take this is the kind of "Tech Work" that I do.
The stitched area is 1.5 x 1.8 feet in size done at 40 stitches to the inch in silk fibers & represents amost 3 months worth of leisure time relaxation.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Layered Bean Dip Casserole


1 can of refried beans (type is your choice, i.e. spice, fat free etc.)
1 tbl taco seasoning (I use Penzy's)
1 lb ground meat (Again, I use chicken but beef or pork will work also)
2 - 3 tbl. chili powder
3/4 c. warm water
1 can corn with peppers, drained
2 c. shredded 'mexican style' cheese
1 c. black olives, sliced

Healthy version
1.5 c. lettuce shredded
1 medium tomato chopped

Fun version

1 bag of tortilla chips (what ever type you like, I use "Scoops", just NOT Fritos (tm))

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Brown meat in saucepan, when about 1/2 way there add the onions and continue browning until the meat is cooked and the onions are soft but not browned (You may need to add some oil to cook the onions depending on how lean the meat is). Mix chili powder with water and stir to remove lumps, mix into meat/onion and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the corn.

Put the bean in the bottom of a 9 inch deep dish pie plate or similar sized casserole, mix in the taco seasoning and mash together until reasonably smooth. Spread around bottom of pan and cover with 1/2 of the cheese.

Pour the meat/onion/corn mixture over the cheese layer and spread out evenly. Cover with the rest of the cheese and put the olives on top.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until hot & the cheese is melted and somewhat brown.

Serve by scooping up through all the layers and putting it on top of the lettuce, then adding tomatoes or by serving along with the chips.

Serves 4

This makes up well ahead of time and will keep for a few days. Just hold off on the final cooking until you're ready to serve.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Report from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Chicken Enchiladas

This is a great 'do ahead & freeze' recipe which will also use up leftover roast or rotisserie chicken.

Red Sauce (if you don't have time canned 'Old El Paso' enchilada sauce will do, use 2
2 Tbl of olive oil (or you can use lard but I don't)
2 tbl flour
1/4 to 3/4 c. chili powder (I use Penzy's medium salt free)
2 c. chicken broth, if you poach chicken for this dish use the poaching water

Heal oil in a saucepan & then brown the flour. Mix chili powder in the broth until smooth & then add to the flour/oil. Simmer for 30 minutes & taste, add more chili if you want. At this point you can freeze the sauce for up to 6 months or just continue with the recipe.


12 corn tortillas (not flour they will get soggy)
2 lbs cooked chicken (leftover is fine & what I normally use)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 c. grated cheese (mexican mix is fine or use Jack &/or longhorn cheddar not regular cheddar)
1 can black olives, sliced
2 c. Red sauce or canned enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Corsely shred the chicken, put about 1 tbl of oil in a pan & cook the onions until soft but not browned, add the chicken & sauce, simmer for 3o minutes. Remove the chicken & onions from the sauce, put a strainer over the sauce pot and allow the sauce to drip off the chicken & back into the simmering red sauce.

Let the chicken/onion mix cool to room tem & mix with an equal volume of cheese

Heat tortillas in the microwave (10 seconds per tortilla so 3 will take 30 seconds layered between paper towels). Dip the tortillas in the sauce and fill with about 3 tbls of meat/onion/cheese mixture, roll and place seam side down in a 9 x 13 pan. Fill all the tortillas and place in pan (at this point you can freeze the dish & keep it for about 6 months). Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas, cover with the rest of the cheese & dot with the sliced olives.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes until hot & bubby.

Serves 4 - 6

Red Sauce recipe adapted from Jean Butel's Tex-Mex Cookbook

Monday, October 20, 2008

Report from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Cajun Meatloaf

This is a recipe from Paul Prudhomme's classic cookbook, the link to the recipe has been removed from his website but I'll post it here with the appropriate references soon
My only modification is to sometimes lay slices of bacon over the top when cooking the bacon crisps up and gives a nice crunchy edge to the meatloaf.

By the way, this keeps very well and slices great for sandwiches the next day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Mac & Cheese with crunchy topping & mix ins

This is my own take on the classic James Beard recipe for Mac & Cheese

Finished Macaroni & Cheese with browned crust

8 oz. (usually 1/2 a box) of a curly type pasta like rotini or fuselli
1 lb of sharp cheddar (sharper the better) corsely grated
2 c. milk
1/4 c. flour
6 tbl. butter
1/2 c heavy cream (not half & half or lite cream) (Yes, this is a cholesterol festival)
Lousiana style hot sauce to taste (not Mexican style)
Pepper to taste
2 c. panko (you can use toasted bread crumbs but it won't be as crunchy)
Mix ins - listed at the end since they are optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta al dente, remember it will cook more in the oven. Drain & set aside.

Melt 1/2 (4 tbls) of the butter and mix with the panko, set aside to cool to room temperature.

Warm the milk in a sauce pan. In another pan melt the rest of the butter and add the flour, stir until the butter foams & the roux is a light brown (otherwise the sauce will taste chalky). Add the milk and stir until the lumps are gone and the sauce is smooth. Add 3/4 lb of the cheese and stir until melted. Add hot sauce & pepper to taste, don't worry the sauce won't make it spicy but will prevent the cheese sauce from becoming bland. Simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes to blend, add the cream and set aside off the heat.

Mix the buttered panko with the rest of the grated cheese.

Put the pasta in an oven safe pan, I use a 9 x 13 and add any mix ins. Pour over the cheese sauce & stir well to blend. Cover the mixture with the panko crumbs and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the dish is bubbling and the panko is browned and crunchy with melted cheese.

Mix in options. You can use any or all of these, just adjust the pan size accordingly.

1 - 1.5 cups of any cooked meat such as tuna or chicken
1 - 1.5 cups of raw shrimp (not cooked or the additional time in the oven will turn them rubbery)

1 - 1.5 cups of any vegis (I'll use broccoli, pearl onions, snow peas or sugar snaps, you could try peas but I don't like 'little bits' in my mac & cheese. Frozen is fine but let them thaw & drain off the excess moisture. High moisture vegis like bell peppers just seem to go to pieces in a dish like this)
Asparagus spears - They get mushy if cooked in so I put them on top of the panko crust and sprinkle on a little extra cheese to lightly cover. That way they stay firm

Serves 4 -6 depending on the amount of mix ins you add. If you want to make this for a pot luck, get it ready to the point of adding the panko and they keep it cold. One hr before serving, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Put on the panko & bake (If you add the panko ahead of time it will get soggy and you won't have the crunchy crust)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Shepherd's Pie

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1.5 c. pearl onions, peeled, if you can't find them use 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 c. baby carrots cut into about thirds or use large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 pound lamb trimmed of fat and cut into pieces about the size of a pencil eraser (or substitute ground lamb if you're 'lazy' but I don't think it tastes as good)
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1 tbl. dry rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 cup frozen peas
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk (any fat content)
Kosher salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil, then add the onion, carrot, and meat. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Drain the fat and add the broth, tomato paste, and herbs. Simmer until the juices thicken, about 10 minutes, then add the peas.
Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish; set aside. You can also just cook the meat & vegis in an oven safe pan and save yourself the cleanup of a second pan.
Bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes; drain.
Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, and salt. Don't make them too smooth but you don't want large lumps.
Spread them over the meat mixture, then crosshatch the top with a fork.
Bake until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. If it's not browned at this point run it under a heated broiler for about 3 minutes to finish browning.

Serves 4.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Chicken Stuffed with Almonds & Olives

4 boneless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole almonds with skins
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Pat chicken , Stuff the cavity where the bone was with 1 1/2 teaspoons olives, then season with salt and pepper and reroll the thigh (secure with toothpicks if necessary but I normally don't.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then toast almonds, stirring often, until a few shades darker, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a cutting board to cool (do not clean skillet).
Increase heat to moderately high, then add chicken to butter remaining in skillet and sprinkle with remaining olives. Sauté chicken browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn chicken breasts over and cook, covered, over moderate heat until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes more, then transfer with tongs to plates.
While chicken is cooking, chop almonds.
Add remaining tablespoon butter and 3 tablespoons water to skillet and heat, stirring, until butter is melted. Stir in almonds, parsley, and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over chicken.

Serves 4

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Sausage in Spiced Sauerkraut


6 smoked bacon slices, cut into 2-inch-wide strips.
Thick cut is better but regular cut will do. Don't use the apple smoked bacon, it's usually too sweet to work with this dish.
1 large onion, sliced
1 carrot, chopped
1 2-pound jar sauerkraut, rinsed, drained well
2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
4 juniper berries, crushed, or 1 tablespoon gin
1 1/2 pounds assorted sausages (brats, knockwurst, kielbasa etc.), cut into 3-inch lengths

Preheat oven to 300°F. Place bacon, onion and carrot in heavy large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté until onion is tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from sauerkraut (I put it in a colander and let it drain in the sink for about 2 hours rinsing frequently to remove the saltiness). Add sauerkraut to Dutch oven. Add wine, stock, caraway seeds and juniper berries. Bring to simmer. Cover tightly, place in oven and bake 1 hour.
Add sausage to Dutch oven, pushing into sauerkraut. Cover and bake 1 hour (n.b. knockwurst is done when the skins split, that's why it's called knockwurst the 'knocking' sound it makes when the skins split). Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring frequently.)

Serves 4
A good potluck or outdoor cookout meal if you have a way to hang the pot over a fire or on the BBQ to rewarm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Recipe from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Chicken Saltimbocca with lemon caper sauce

1 lbs of thin sliced chicken breasts - if not available use boneless, skinless breast and pound them to 1/4" thickness
Prosciutto - 2 thin slices per breast
Sage leaves - 1 large or 2 thin per breast
1 c. flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, about 1/2 of a fresh lemon
1 tbl. capers

Place flour in a shallow pan or on a foil sheet, salt & pepper as desired but I find that the prosciutto makes it salty enough.

Press sage leaves onto one side of chicken breasts, lay a slice of prosciutto on each side and press to adhere. Dredge in flour and knock off the excess, you only want a thin coating of flour.

Melt butter in a saute pan & add the oil. Brown the chicken on each side staring with sage side down (about 3 -4 mins per side depending on thickness of chicken to make sure that it is cooked all the way through). Remove the chicken to a serving pan. Mix 2 tsps of the dredging flour into the wine and whisk to blend. Add to pan dripping and brown flour lighlty. Add wine, chicken broth and boil to desired thickeness (this should only take about 2 minutes). Add capers and stir, add lemon juice stir and pour over chicken.

Server with rice or a pasta like orzo to sop up the sauce (you could try mashed potatoes but I don't think this sauce goes very well with them)

Serves 4

Monday, October 6, 2008

Recipe from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Tomato Potato Gratin

Olive oil
2 lbs of medium, slicing tomatoes, cut into 1/2" slices
Black pepper
2 lbs medium red or other waxy pototoes, scrubbed but not peeled
1 garlic clove
1/2 c. fine dry bread crumbs
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1.5 tsp. fresh thyme

You need a 3 qt oven safe gratin dish (not glass)

Preheat oven to 425.
Oil a shallow baking pan and place tomato slices on pan. Salt & pepper to taste. Roast tomato slices for about 20 minutes (just until tender)

Slice potatoes 1/4" thick and coat with oil

Place on shallow baking pan, salt & pepper to taste, roast for about 16 minutes or until fork tender

Mince garlic and mash with a pinch of salt. Mix paste with crumbs, basil, thyme, 3 tbls of oil, 1/4 tsp pepper & salt to taste

Preheat broiler (you're all done roasting at this point)

Arrange tomato & potato slices in gratin pain in a single layer with overlapping edges, if there are any tomato juices pour them over the slices.

Cover with bread crumb mix & broil 6 inches from the head for about 2 minutes or until crumbs are brown.

Will server 4 - 6

You can make this up to the point of broiling about 1 hour ahead of time but don't try to store it overnight since the tomatoes & potatoes will get soggy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Brisket in Garlic Sauce

Brisket in Garlic sauce

5 lbs of first cut brisket

40, or more cloves of garlic, peeled
Olive oil
2 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 c. beef or chicken broth, low sodium
3 - 4 sprigs of thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 tsp lemon peel

N.B. this can easily be increased, just increase all ingredients proportionally

Preheat oven to 325

Heat oil in pan and brown brisket on both sides, remove from pan & set aside.
Cook garlic cloves until golden
Deglaze pan with vinegar
Add broth, thyme & rosemary, reduce heat to simmer
Salt & pepper brisket as desired and put in pan spooning up the garlic cloves on top of the meat
Cover brisket with foil or a lid and place in oven.
Cook, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes until fork tender (about 2.5 - 3 hours)

Remove from oven, remove brisket and place into service (i.e. foil) pan. Skim & defat pan juices. Spoon garlic, thyme & rosemary leaves into a blender (discard the stems) with about 1.5 cups of pan juices. Puree the garlic cloves and return the puree to the pan or a sauce pan with the rest of the pan juices. Add the lemon zest and boil until the sauce is thick enough. Nap the meat with the sauce, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight to firm (if you're in a real rush 5 hours in the fridge will do it but overnight is better).

2 hrs before serving, Thin or thick slice the meat according to preference and replace in sauce (you can redefat the sauce at this point if desired). Reheat in 180 degree oven, covered, until at serving temperature. About 2 hours.


Serve 10 or so depending on what else is present at the meal

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Manicotti

Meat Stuffed Manicotti:
Serves 3 - 4 depending on your appetite

14 manicotti
2 lbs italian style sausage (I've used turkey or pork, the choice is yours)
1 -2 onions, chopped (depends on how much you like onions)
2 eggs
1/4 c. italian style bread crumbs (if you don't have italian style use plain and add 2 tsp. dried parley & 1 tsp. of garlic powder)
1.5 c. shredded pecorino romano (NOT the stuff in the green cardboard tube)
3 c. of your favorite tomato sauce

Brown meat & onions until fully cooked. Place in strainer over sink & drain well. Let cool to room temperature (This is very important if you don't want the eggs to be cooked)

While the meat mixture is cooling mix the eggs, lightly beaten, with the bread crumbs and 1/2 c. of the cheese. Refrigerate.

After the meat is cooled cook the manicotti according to package directions and drain.

Mix the meat mixture with the eggs (this is why you have to let it cool, if you mix the eggs in while the meat is still hot they will cook immediately and you'll have scrambled eggs).

Stuff the manicotti (I use my fingers but if you're fastidious you can use a pastry bag).
Place 1/3 c. or so of the sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 foil pan (just enough to cover the bottom). Place the manicotti on the sauce in a single layer. If there is any of the stuffing mixture left over you can spread it over the top of the manicotti. Pour on the rest of the sauce and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Cover with foil and bake in 350 oven for 35 minutes until hot and bubbly.


N.B. You can make this dish in advance and do the final baking right before serving. Just let it return to room temperature before you bake it.
Unbaked, refrigerated storage time 1 - 2 weeks
Unbaked, frozen storage time: 2 months or so

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Upcoming Lectures, travel & events

OK, I'm starting this off by posting my upcoming lectures, travel and meetings.
Now you'll see why I won't be posting much for a while.


Nov. 8 - Lecture at Surgical Board Review Course, NYC
Nov. 10 - Lecture at "Enhancing the Safety of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition", Boston
Nov. 15 - Son's 15th birthday event (bowling party)
Nov. 16 - 17 - Travel to Chicago for meeting about setting up a Speakers Bureau
Nov. 23 - 30 - On west coast with daughter for college tours
Dec. 1 - Home, collapse and post more to blog
Jan. 28 - Feb 3 - New Orleans for ASPEN meeting