Monday, July 21, 2014

Clean Windows Like a Pro

I actually shared this post almost 2 years ago, but I didn't have pictures with it. I use this method all the time to clean windows and mirrors in my house. This particular before and after is of a window in my dining area. I've cleaned the inside several times since we've lived here, but I can't reach the top of the window on the outside, so I guess I always thought I'd ask my husband to do it later. Well, it turns out the outside of that window hadn't been cleaned in the whole 2 years we've lived here. Gross. It looks pretty good now, though.

I hate cleaning windows and mirrors. No matter what I do, there are always streaks. Windex? Tried it. Vinegar, rubbing alcohol? Uh-huh. Paper towels, newspaper, coffee filters? All left streaks and lint. Then I remembered that when my parents would have professionals clean our windows when I was growing up, they didn't use any of those things. They had a big, sudsy bucket, a cloth, a a squeegee. I asked around, and someone said to use Dawn dish soap, the blue kind. So before we moved into our new home, I went and bought a squeege and some blue Dawn. As my husband and brother unpacked the truck, I went inside and mixed up a mop bucket full of warm water and a few squirts of Dawn so I could clean the living room window before heavy furniture got pu in front of it. It worked great, No streaks, no lint, just perfectly clean windows.

You Will Need:

1 bucket
Dawn Dish Soap, the blue one
2 clean rags

Squirt  a little Dawn into a bucket, fill with warm water. I probably used a tablespoon or so of soap. Get 1 rag nice and sudsy, use it to clean the window. Mine were a little grody, so I did some scrubbing. Starting at one corner and working accross, run squeegee from top to bottom, making sure to wipe the blade with your dry rag after each pass. Enjoy your crystal clear, streak free windows.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Veggie Lo Mein

I love Chinese food. One of my favorite things about these basic dishes, is how easy they are to make at home. The simplicity of these dishes actually surprised me when I got married and started cooking for us. We never made these types of food at home when I was a kid. My Mom is a master of comfort food. She makes delicious food, just not this kind. This is one of my Hubbie's favorite meals. It's easy and delicious. I do a meatless version most of the time, but I've also done chicken and pork in the past. My little sister recently became vegan and I plan on making a version for her soon.


  • 2 cups Cabbage shredded
  • 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup Carrots, shredded or julienned
  • 1/2 bunch Green Onions, sliced
  • 1 lb Fresh Steamed Thin Chow Mein Noodles
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce (Light)
  • 2 TBS Sesame Oil
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth, or Vegetable Broth
  • 1 TBS fish sauce (optional)
  • 1.5 TBS cornstarch
  • 2 packages of lo mein noodles, prepared acccording to paclage directions
    Note: My small town grocery store doesn't always stock lo mein noodles, so I sometimes just use 3 packs of ramen noodles without the seasoning packets.
    Prepare the noodles according to the package instruction, drain and set aside in a large bowl. Warm a small amount of sesame oil over medium heat in a large skillet or wok. Add cabbage, mushrooms, and carrots, sprinkle with pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until cabbage is wilted and carrots are softened. Add the green onions. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sesame noodles, broth, fish sauce (if using), and cornstarch and whisk together. Add veggies to the noodles. Pour the sauce mixture into the empty skillet and whisk until thickened, this will only take a few minutes. Toss the noodles, veggies, and sauce together and serve. Easy peasy.
    You can find Fish Sauce in most grocery stores now, usually with the rest of the Asian foods. It has a very pungent smell, but it adds wonderful flavor to many Asian dishes. I hope you try it.

    Monday, January 27, 2014

    Chicken Rigatoni and Family History

    A while back, I became interested in researching my Father's family. My biological Dad passed away when I was 14, and I never knew his Father or his father's family, except for one great-aunt. I met my grandfather only once, when I was maybe 3 or 4 years old, I very vaguely remember him.I've never actually spoken to him, though my research leads me to believe he may still be alive, so I am contemplating writing a letter. Anyway, my Grandma had told me a lot about the family. When she spoke of my Grandfather, she usually talked about how he cooked. He is Italian and from New York City and she told me about how when he made pasta, he'd have a big pot of sauce simmering all day long, and he'd stir it and check the spices and season it. The first time I set out to make homemade sauce, I disregarded any recipe that took less than 3 hours to make. She talked about his brothers and how they dressed and how the whole family ate. I always romanticized it in my head, and when I would see a big Italian family gathered together in movies or on TV, I always imagined that's what it was like and being a part of it. I have an Italian friend who is also from NY, and her family IS that large, loud, gorgeous, loving Italian family you see in movies. I remember eating dinner with her family and imagining that my Father's family was just like them and I might one day be a part of something like it. Please don't get me wrong, the family that I do know was wonderful to grow up in, and we had many many happy dinners and holidays.

    Anyway, through my research I discovered that my Grandfather lived at least part of his life in upstate/central New York. Through researching the town, I found that there is a regional dish that is very popular there, called Chicken Riggies. I'd never heard of it in my life, but the description of rigatoni pasta, chicken, and peppers in a tomato cream sauce sounded amazing. I looked up several recipes and found that the recipes vary drastically from family to family. The ingredients that all of the recipes contained were rigatoni, cherry peppers, chicken, and tomatoes. So, I chose 5 recipes and picked and chose what I liked from them, added my own ingredients and preferred tastes, and came up with my own recipe. I can't call it Chicken Riggies, because I've never been anywhere near NY and I would have no idea if it tastes anything close to their beloved dish. I can tell you, though, that what I came up with is delicious. My husband devoured it, talked about it for days afterward, and has requested that I make it at least once a month.


    1 lb of Rigatoni pasta
    2 lbs of boneless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
    5 cloves of garlic, smashed, grated, or minced
    1 bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces, I used green
    7 jarred sweet cherry peppers, seeded and roughly chopped (I plan to try with fresh when in season)
    8 oz mushrooms, sliced
    1 (28oz) can of whole tomatoes
    1/2 cup sherry wine (cooking sherry is fine)
    4 oz cream cheese, softened
    1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    1 tsp dried basil (can use fresh, just triple the amount)
    salt and pepper
    red pepper flakes, optional
    olive oil, for sauteing chicken and garlic

    In a large pot (I used a 5 qt nonstick dutch oven), place 2 TBS olive oil and 4 cloves of minced garlic (I grate mine on a Microplane) while the pan is still cold. Turn the heat on to medium and allow the garlic to heat with the oil, to infuse it with flavor and not burn and turn bitter, about 5 minutes. When the garlic is golden but not burned, add the chopped bell pepper and mushrooms. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, to soften. Add the tomatoes, cherry peppers, and sherry, bring it to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to keep it bubbling but not boiling while you prepare the chicken.

    In a large skillet, heat a little olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, when the pan is hot add the chicken and remaining garlic. Allow the chicken to get good and brown on both sides. This took about 15 minutes total for me. When the chicken is almost done, use a masher to break up the tomatoes in the sauce pot. Once the tomatoes are broken up, add the chicken to the pan. Use a splash of sherry to deglaze the skillet you prepped the chicken in. Add the deglazing liquid to the sauce. Put a large pot of water on to boil the rigatoni. While you are waiting for the water to boil, add the cream cheese and basil, stirring to fully incorporate the cream cheese. You could also use heavy cream, I chose cream cheese since the little grocery store I went to doesn't stock heavy cream. When the water is boiling, add 1 TBS of salt and the rigatoni to the water. Cook 1 minute less than the package tells you to. Continue stirring the sauce, making sure it is at a strong simmer, stir in the Parmesan cheese very well. When the noodles are done, drain them and toss them with the sauce in the pot. Serve with red pepper flakes and extra Parmesan.

    I just love discovering regional dishes, local favorites, and I hope to visit many of the places I've read about and try the authentic versions myself. One of my favorites is the Moco Loco, which my husband ordered for breakfast in Maui at my brother-in-law's suggestion. It was so yummy and I've since made my own version at home. It's a bed of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy. It sounds weird, but it is super yummy.

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    German Cabbage Rolls

    Back in November, I posted my recipe for Cabbage Rolls. That recipe was the more traditional Hungarian style cabbage rolls most of us are used to, with a tomato-based sauce. They are fabulous, and I encourage you to try them out. Today I bring you my recipe for German style Cabbage Rolls. These cabbage rolls are my husband's favorite. They're meaty and hearty and scrumptious. Men seem to really appreciate these cabbage rolls, and I think the main reason is the sauce. I  place of a tomato sauce, these cabbage rolls are served topped with brown gravy. So yummy. These cabbage rolls are easy to make, super hearty, and they get better the next day. This recipe makes 12 large cabbage rolls. You can make them smaller to use more of the cabbage, or make more filling.


    1 large head of cabbage
    2 TBS salt


    1/2 lb ground Beef
    1/2 lb ground Pork
    3 TBS bread crumbs
    2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    1 TBS German style mustard
    1/2 tsp Pepper
    1/4 tsp Nutmeg
    pinch of Salt
    1/2 cup diced onion
    1 clove garlic, minced or grated on a microplane
    2 TBS Butter

    Optional: splash of white wine
    1 cup beef broth
    1/4 cup cold water
    1 TBS cornstarch

    Note: To cut back of fat, you can substitute all lean ground beef or even ground turkey for the ground beef and pork. There is a slight flavor difference, but it is still delicious and it's a way to eat "regular" food while losing weight or watching your cholesterol.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, melt 1 TBS of butter in a large skillet, add diced onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until softened and lightly browned. Remove from heat. Wash cabbage and remove outermost leaves if they are loose. You can core the cabbage if you like, but it's not necessary. I like to because it helps the salt water flavor the cabbage and it seems to make the leaves easier to remove. As soon as the water boils, add the 2 TBS of salt. Gently add the cabbage and boil 15-20 minutes. Remove the cabbage, drain and allow to cool.

    Once the cabbage is cool, mix all of the filling ingredients together. Remove the 12 outer leaves from the cabbage and begin filling. The demonstration photos I'm going to post now are from my last cabbage rolls recipe, but the folding method is the same.
    Once all of the cabbage rolls are ready, heat 1 TBS of butter over medium heat in the large skillet you used to saute the onions. Place about half of the rolls in the skillet, seam side down. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, then flip and cook and additional 3 minutes. Remove to a platter and brown the remaining rolls in the same way. Optional: Remove rolls and deglaze the pan with a  splash of white wine. Add all of the rolls to the pan, pour in the beef broth. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Remove rolls from skillet, bump the heat up to medium-high, mix cornstarch and cold water together, add to the broth in the pan, stir constantly until thickened. This will only take a few minutes. Serve the rolls topped with gravy alongside mashed potatoes.