Whole Wheat Pasta

In my recent efforts to try and eat more “whole foods” I have been cooking in my kitchen more often.  Tonight, when I was looking for a recipe to try out so I could divert from my usual, mundane meals, I remembered a dish that Dad made a few months ago:  Cooktop Chicken and Pasta.

I have been craving this meal for a while, but could I, the least talented Claggett cook, tackle it?

The answer was yes.  I took some tips that I got from Dad and Elaine last time I cooked with them (like getting all your ingredients out and ready before you start) and the recipe went off without a hitch.

The only thing I changed was that I used whole wheat orzo.  I am having difficulty deciding if I like this substitution or not though.  I enjoy whole wheat pasta, but I usually eat it with a sauce that has enough of an overpowering flavor that you can’t taste the slight difference from your regular old pasta.  Because this meal doesn’t have “sauce” specifically for the pasta,  it is more noticeable that you are eating whole wheat pasta.  Don’t get me wrong though, its still great, just a little different.  Maybe I should add more cheese???? Yes please!

What do you think of whole wheat pasta?

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We have always had the original website but wanted to add a more robust blogging feature. We narrowed our search down to wordpress and decided to start with wordpress.com. This worked out great but as I found out how powerful wordpress could be I wanted more. More control, more widgets and some hacking into the php code. Finally we have made the transition to a hosting service that supported wordpress and our historical .net components.

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While everyone is watching the Olympics…

…I am pondering what to select from my short, but sweet, menu.  There is no TV in the household where I live so, luckily, I am not distracted by those darn Olympics!  Phew!  This gives me TONS of time to work on my food preparation skills.

Inspired by my inability to watch the Olympics, I have decided to provide a very tasty recipe that, if I were to own a TV, I would be enjoying at this very moment.  There’s no sense in keeping it all to myself, especially when it could be used as a delightful Olympic snack for all the folks fortunate enough to have cable.  I call it the “Greenwich,” not to be confused with the district in London.  It’s an excellent sandwich, with a very green hue to it.

Ingredients for 1 Greenwich:

2 slices of Dave’s Killer Bread, Good Seed (mmmm.)

1 medium avocado (depending on how much you adore avocado)

1 tomato

1 strip of Black Forest Bacon (also, depending on your love of bacon)

Condiments, which can be flexible, but these do taste quite nice together:



Salt and Pepper

I think sandwich-making is fairly popular, so I’m not going to teach you how to put 2 pieces of bread together, but I will tell you about how to make it a Greenwich.  Número uno, I like to spread about 1 tbsp of mayonnaise and mustard on each slice of bread.  Of course, a little more, or a little less won’t hurt, so don’t worry if your taste buds are different from mine.  The avocado is the real star of the sandwich, anyway.  Then, I like to cook the bacon in a wee bit of canola oil until a slight crispness.  It helps to cook the bacon a couple of minutes before you put it on the sandwich, because it will turn into an unappealing green mess, if you place it on the avocado hot and greasy.  This means, you need to pat the bacon dry, as well.  Good idea, believe me…  Now, back to the green part of it.  I find that the sandwich tastes best when the avocado is sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces.  This should be thick enough, so you can actually taste the avocado in all of its glory.  I then season with salt and pepper and add to the bread.  It’s tomato time!  Yes!  Cut one slice of tomato and layer it on.  Last, but certainly not least, I cut the bacon into about 2-inch long strips and complete the Greenwich.  Mmm.  It is certainly not the first avocado sandwich ever made, but it’s simple and delicious.  Perfect for watching international athletes compete against each other.  Enjoy!

Redesign the Hot Dog!

Hot Dog
Fair warning this is a food rant! A group of intelligent pediatricians pooled their brain matter together to push for the redesign of the hot dog. This is big news today as it made the nightly national news on every broadcast. To be fair, they exposed the hot dog as a choking threat and asked for food labeling, recalls, a choking incident reporting system and more.

It appears that this announcement must mean that we are getting dumber as a society. An advertising campaign with stimulus money should be started to tell us not to let our children play with fire, don’t leave babies on the floor with a rottweiler, and whatever you do don’t feed your young child a hot dog. I know we have to get a license before we drive but there is no such requirement for being a parent. However, if we pause a moment and use some common sense all our young infants might be safer. Continue reading

Scalloped Potatoes Part 1

Scalloped Potatoes

Classic Scalloped Potatoes

Cooking with a potatoes for many of us is a love-hate relationship. The love comes from the varieties, flavors and the many ways you can cook with them. The hate comes from the peeling process. Lets face it, how many hands go up in your household when someone says “Who wants to peel the potatoes?” Images of cooks peeling away at volumes of potatoes to feed an army quickly comes to my mind.

Potato Peeling KP Duty

Potato Peeling KP Duty

Then there are scalloped potatoes. These potatoes need to be peeled and then cut into 1/8 inch slices. I don’t know about you, but I am not very good at doing that even with a good knife. Before we dive into some recipes for scalloped potatoes, there are two kitchen tools that will make this task easier. For peeling, it is a Apple and Potato Peeler. This links to the version that we own. This works reasonably well except on very large potatoes or those that have an irregular shape. Next on our potato equipment addition was a Mandoline Slicer. This slicer was highly recommended by Americas Test Kitchen. I can’t recall when I got this wonderful kitchen device but if you are a potato lover, this should be on your list of must haves. Slicing uniform potatoes is simple and easy. Scalloped or french fries this can really make short order of the task.

The first recipe comes from our family friend Glenys Elliott. A recipe that is richer in the dairy ingredients than some recipes but that gives it a nice creamy body. Stayed tuned for our other scalloped potato recipes.

Glenys Elliott’s Scalloped Potatoes


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1 1/2 cups finely sliced onions
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
4 Tbs flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups whipping cream 35% BF

Preheat oven to 350.

Select a baking dish with at least 1-2″ to spare when potatoes and onions are in it – cream bubbles up and may spill over. You can also put a tray underneath as you would with a pie to catch the excess.

Mix flour, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Layer the potatoes and the onions in dish, sprinkling the flour mixture between the mixture. Cover dish tightly with foil.

Bake in oven for 1 hour, remove foil and bake for 1 hour more. If you double the recipe you may have to adjust the cooking time. Allow to potatoes to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Slow Cooker Ribs

Slow Cooker Ribs

Courtesy of Chowtown.wordpress.com

Pork ribs remind us of warm summer days and firing up the barbecue. Right now our five burner bbq grill is sitting on the patio with over two feet of snow around it. So why are we talking about ribs then. The month of January was the clean out the freezer project and a rack of ribs was sitting there waiting to be consumed. A plan had to be crafted when a few weeks ago I found a recipe while searching tags on wordpress.com that brought me to the blog Chowtown. There right before my eyes was a recipe for ribs made in a slow cooker.

I had never thought of using a slow cooker before; what an interesting concept. Then I started to think about how I slowly cook a chunk of pork shoulder in the oven. The slow cooker is just a smaller oven that is good at keeping moisture in so the idea seemed to make a lot of sense. Sure enough the concept worked and will now challenge me to create some new rib concepts in a slow cooker.

The recipe can be found here thanks to the efforts of RuneRider. The only thing I changed in the recipe was adding some more liquid for covering the ribs and increasing the cooking time. Time is probably dependent on the type of slow cooker you have and the style of ribs.

The ribs were very tender and flavorful with very little preparation. They truly are the fall of the bone type when they are done. Enjoy them with a nice side of cole slaw and some beans.

Sour Cream-Fudge Layer Cake

Happy Valentines Day!

Sour Cream Fudge Layer Cake

My valentine made this cake for dessert tonight. I know Sour Cream Fudge cake does not sound that appealing but really this is an amazingly good cake. The cake is light and moist with a rich heavy icing that will make any chocoholic happy. The recipe was dug out of the Baking Illustrated cookbook. A book we highly recommend.


Sour Cream Fudge Layer Cake
1 cup natural cocoa powder
2 tsp instant espresso powder , or instant coffee
1 cup boiling water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
16 Tbs unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs , at room temperature
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt

Chocolate Butter Icing
9 oz bittersweet chocolate , or semisweet
8 Tbs unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup light corn syrup

1. For the Cake: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-1 1/2-inch round baking pans with butter or shortening. Line pan bottoms with waxed or parchment paper; grease the paper as well. Dust pans with flour removing the excess.

2. Mix the cocoa and instant coffee in a small bowl. Next add boiling water and mix until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

3. Beat the butter in bowl of an electric stand mixer set at medium-high speed until smooth and shiny, about 30 seconds. Gradually sprinkle in sugar beating the mixture until fluffy and almost white (3 to 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating 1 full minute after each addition.

4. Stir in vanilla and sour cream into cocoa mixture. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. With stand mixer on lowest speed, add about 1/3 of dry ingredients to batter, followed immediately by about 1/3 of cocoa mixture; mix until ingredients are almost incorporated into batter. Repeat process twice. When the batter appears blended, stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl with rubber spatula. Continue again at low-speed; beat until batter looks satiny, about 15 seconds longer.

5. Divide batter evenly between pans using a scale (weigh each pan first). Smooth the batter to pan sides with an even top. Bake the cakes until they feel firm in center when lightly pressed and skewer comes out clean , 23 to 30 minutes. Transfer pans to wire racks; cooling for 20 minutes. Run knife around perimeter of each pan inverting the cakes on to racks, and peel off paper liners. Flip the cakes on to additional racks and cool completely before frosting.

6. For the Icing: Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl set over pan of almost-simmering water or any double boiler setup. Stir in the corn syrup. Set bowl of chocolate mixture over a larger bowl of ice water, stirring occasionally, until the frosting is just thick enough to spread. Apply icing on to first cake layer and spread with a long metal spatula, top with second cake layer, top second layer with icing, spread and then ice sides.

Servings: 12