Monday, February 26, 2007

Tim Allen was Right

After all those years laughing at Tim Allen's power tool jokes, I found out that he wasn't joking and probably is one of the smartest people on earth. OK, I am exaggerating, but I found the great benefit of power tools this weekend. I borrowed my brothers power miter saw and I bought a small air compressor with a nail gun attachment to see if I could put up some crown molding in our guest room. The power tools made the job very easy and I have to say the nail gun not only was easy but it made pounding nails fun! On Saturday when I brought home the compressor and nail gun, I spent an hour just driving nails into a piece of wood, chuckling with delight after each nail quickly and firmly entered the wood. Now my crown molding job was not perfect, but it looks good and even though I am far from a handyman around the house, I am ready to undertake similar projects in other rooms of the house.

I am beginning to think a nail gun would be a great wedding present......

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Now that our friend Jim has moved to New Zealand, he has had a craving for good ol' salsa as many of the condiments down under don't have that spicy bite and the salsas they do sell are more like Taco Bell taco sauce. So, per Jim's request, her is an easy tomato and jalepeno salsa. This one is based on a Rick Bayless recipe.

1-1 1/2 lbs roma tomatoes
2-3 jalepeno salsas
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 medium onion, sliced
1 Tbl apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro

  1. Place tomatoes and chiles on a sheet pan and place under a broiler. Broil until skins are charred and tomatoes and chiles are soft and freely giving their juices. Rotate the tomatoes and chiles to cook all sides evenly.
  2. While the tomatoes and chiles are under the broiler, place the onion slices and garlic cloves in a cast iron skillet, or a griddle over medium heat. Cook until the onion is soft and the cloves are soft and the skins are brown or black. Peel the garlic.
  3. Place the chiles, onion, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until medium chop. Add the tomatoes and all the accumulated juices. Pulse until combined.
  4. Add cilantro, and pulse until chopped.
  5. Add water until the salsas the consistency that you like. It will thicken as it cools, so runny is good.
  6. Season with the vinegar and add salt to taste, usually about a teaspoon or more.
  7. Put in a bowl or jar and cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Best Sandwich I have had in a while

In my quest for more simple and healthy dinners, I ran across a recipe for a Ruben sandwich that replaces the pastrami with spinach. Combined with quality rye bread, good swiss cheese and some sauerkraut, this sandwich has so much flavor going on, that you don't miss the fatty but tasty pastrami. The original recipe in Eating Well, calls for low fat cheese, and less of it, but this is a Ruben without pastrami, so live a little. I would double, triple or quadruple the dressing and save some for later.

Spinach Ruben Sandwich

Russian dressing
1/8 Cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons chopped capers
1 teaspoon chopped pickle or relish

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small red onion, thinly sliced or 3 shallots finely diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 bunch spinach, cleaned and stemmed
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg, freshly ground
4 slices rye bread
4 thin slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup sauerkraut

1. To prepare Russian dressing: Whisk mayonnaise and ketchup in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in capers and pickle (or relish).
2. To prepare sandwiches: Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion or shallots and mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until it has wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Transfer the mixture to a plate.
3. Coat the pan with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and return to medium heat. Add the bread; divide cheese equally among the slices. Divide sauerkraut between 2 slices and divide the spinach mixture between the other 2 slices; cook until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer sandwich halves to a cutting board. Divide the dressing between the spinach halves. Carefully place the sauerkraut halves on top. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.