Juniper Pickled Beets and BBQ Meatloaf for Cruise Night 2013

Recipes in this PostPickeled Beets with Juniper Berries

Every year, Glendale, California closes off its main street, the Brand Boulevard of Cars. Beautifully kept antique cars park up and down the street, some with their hoods up, so everyone can enjoy them. Spane and I have been going to Cruise Night since before he was born – I say that because I even went when I was pregnant with him. As usual I like to cook something special for Cruise Night dinner, mainly because even though there are hamburgers and hot dogs available, I would rather have my own fresh food, and save money for a treat for Spane.

I love beets, I mean I really, really love beets. So does Spane. We like them plain, pickled, cold, hot, red beets, orange beets, any beets! Beets are very good for you, and studies have shown it can prevent liver, heart and muscle diseases. This is not the same thing as a Sugar Beet, which although is in the same family, almost all sugar beets are genetically modified, and used to make sugar.

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Independence Day No Bake Cake

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States;

The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776

Recipes in this PostIndependence Day No-Bake Cake

Last year, I made a big to-do about 4th of July, barbecued London Broil with Rosemary and Mushrooms, and I made a Balsamic Strawberry and Blueberry Trifle with Lemon Cream. They were both very good, but this year, with the move, and the hot weather, not so much.

This morning, when I was out looking for what to make for dinner, I was at the local Armenian store and came across Wafel torte, my favorite start to making a no-bake cake. Not only was it no-bake, it was rectangular and there were boxes of strawberries and blueberries on the counter. I was excited to be making a cake for the 4th after all.

I put condensed milk and Nutella in the layers of the cake, made a sour cream buttercream to top it, and Spane helped me decorate it. He also helped take the pictures, and contributed his necklace that hums the Star Spangled Banner – it’s very annoying.

Spane wearing his "singing" necklace

Spane wearing his “singing” necklace


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Red Velvet Cake with Mocha Cream Frosting

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Tuesday, November 21, 2012 was Spane’s 9th birthday. He originally asked for a Red Velvet Cake, but then said he wanted Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting that I made for his 7th birthday, and was the base for the Jolly Roger Cake of the Pirate Rack Rachham that I made for his 8th birthday. At the last minute, I decided to give him his original request, a Red Velvet Cake.

Yes, I know that Red Velvet Cake is all over the place, and mostly nasty, truly horrific. When Red Velvet cake became popular all over the country, short cuts were made, and what resulted was a dense, flavorless cake, with a greasy shortening “cream cheese” frosting, that I am sure was made with cream cheese flavoring, and nary a bit of real cream cheese. I make a real Red Velvet Cake, that uses real cream cheese, cake flour, and vinegar/baking soda leavener.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I just can’t make an ordinary anything, I always have to umph it up a bit, and this cake was no exception. Instead of using white vinegar, I used Balsamic vinegar. I also used a Mocha frosting instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting. It was a real hit.

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Balsamic Strawberry and Blueberry Trifle with Lemon Cream for 4th of July

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Balsamic Strawberry and Blueberry Trifle with Lemon Cream

Finished Balsamic Strawberry and Blueberry Trifle with Lemon Cream

When thinking about making this Balsamic Strawberry and Blueberry Trifle with Lemon Cream, it reminded me of something that happened many years ago. I was asked to bring something to a 4th of July potluck. I was making a yellow cake and using strawberries and blueberries for filling, with a whipped cream topping. As I was taking the cake out of the pan, my cat Lazer startled me, and I dropped the cake on the counter. I went into bunch of little pieces. Well, I had a trifle bowl, so I scooped everything up, put in the bowl with the cream and fruit, presented it as Oops 4th of July Trifle, and called it a day.

This year, I wanted something along the same lines, but a little more fun. Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are perfect together. Strawberries and Mascarpone are even better together, but I didn’t want anything that thick. So I developed a wonderful lemon cream.

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Leftover Madness – French Onion Soup, Shrimp Scampi, Ham and Cheese Panini

The past few days have been full of left overs. That’s a good thing, and a good way to save money, but you have to get creative.

When I made the Veal Marsala Meatballs, I made enough to freeze some for another time. Spane and I were at the market on Thursday, and I was thinking of making enchiladas, but Spane didn’t seem to enthusiastic about it, so I asked him if he wanted spaghetti and meatballs, and he said yes.

I had everything I needed to make it, the veal meatballs, a large can of diced tomatoes, basil and garlic. The only thing I needed to make a good meal was a baguette of French bread to make garlic bread to go with our pasta, so I bought a long baguette. It was large enough that I cut it in half and made my garlic butter, intending to make another half on Friday. I bought some large frozen shrimp to have on Friday.

I served the meatballs separately from the pasta, and we ate all of those, and the garlic bread. There was still spaghetti and sauce left over. I had made enough garlic butter for both halves of the bread, and had left the left over in the refrigerator.

I took some of the garlic butter, put it in a pan, and heated the shrimp in that garlic butter. By doing that, I didn’t have quite enough garlic butter for the other half of the baguette, so I added a little olive oil and balsamic butter, whirred it around, spread that on the bread, topped it with a little Parmesan cheese, and threw it in the oven for a few minutes.

We ate all the shrimp Scampi, and all the spaghetti and sauce, and were a little to stuffed to finish the garlic bread.

So, now I had left over balsamic garlic bread. Today, Saturday, was cold and rainy, so soup sounded like the perfect meal. Originally, I was going to make macaroni and cheese as an excuse to turn on Bertha, but grilled cheese sandwiches sounded like a better idea.

What kind of soup could I make and use up the left over garlic bread? Why French Onion, of course. That is such a simple soup to make, and is really fool-proof.

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Hot Tin Roof Salad – Composed Grilled Steak Salad

saladoverRecipes in this Post

I loved the movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Burl Ives. It just seemed the weather was so hot and humid in that movie, kind of like it was today in Glendale, California. Spane, Amber’s children and a friend all had a wonderful time playing in the neighbors pool, and as I watched them, I thought that a steak salad would be the perfect end to a perfect day. I decided to call the salad Hot Tin Roof Salad because it was so hot and steamy here, just like in the movie.

With that being said, one of the wonderful things about summer is all the great, fresh vegetables. Tomatoes are sweet and pop juice into your mouth. Lettuce is really crisp and the greenest of green. The little Persian cucumbers I get at the local Armenian store are tender and flavorful – not like their large watery English cousins with the waxed skins that always seem to come up on you later. Buttery Haas avocados are also plentiful – did you know that all Haas avocados come from one single tree that died at the age of 76 in La Habra Heights, California?

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