Simple Spinach Salad

The tandem post will be up later this week.

To tide you over, I’m sharing the recipe for a salad that we have pretty much every year at Christmas. We always spend Christmas Eve at Fred’s father and stepmother’s house (we spend Christmas Eve morning with Fred’s mother and stepfather at our house for breakfast), and we usually have spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna (I grew up eating a turkey dinner type meal for Christmas, so this was kind of weird to me the first few times). We almost always have this spinach salad with that meal, and since I’m a fan of raw spinach (forget the nutritional benefits – I just LIKE it; I know, I’m weird), I finally asked for the recipe so we could occasionally have it through the year.

It’s a salad you make ahead, and it’s even fairly good (though wilted) the next day. You can’t save it for longer than that, though – it gets way too shriveled and wilted to eat, though I guess you could always pick out the mushrooms and eat those (okay, you CAN do that – I don’t know why I’m acting like I’ve never done that.)

The ingredients:

Spinach Salad (1)

Sliced mushrooms (you could always buy whole mushrooms and slice them, if that’s what floats your boat), spinach (I use baby spinach), red wine vinegar, minced garlic, spinach, salad oil (I use olive oil). Not pictured: salt and pepper.

First, whisk the red wine vinegar, salt, garlic, and pepper together in a plastic dish.

Spinach Salad (2)

Add the mushrooms, toss, and let marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so.

Put your spinach in a big plastic container, toss with the olive oil.

Spinach Salad (3)

Add the marinated mushrooms (including any marinade left in the dish) to the spinach, toss, and then chill for a couple of hours.

Spinach Salad (5)

This stuff is so good and so easy, I hope you give it a try and like it as much as we do  – I’m looking forward to having it again next week!

Simple Spinach Salad
Prep time
Total time
: Side dish, Salad
Cuisine: Italian? (We always eat it with Italian food, so that's what I'm guessing)
Serves: 4
  • 3 T. red wine vinegar
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic (or more, if desired), minced fine
  • freshed cracked black pepper to taste
  • 8 oz (or more) sliced mushrooms
  • 1 lb spinach (I recommend baby spinach), washed and dried (or just dump it into the bowl from the bag. I won't tell!)
  • ¼ c. salad oil (I use olive oil)
  1. Whisk red wine vinegar, salt, garlic, black pepper together in a plastic dish with a lid. Add mushrooms, toss, and let marinate in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Toss the spinach and oil together in a large bowl with a lid. Add the marinaded mushrooms and marinade. Toss, chill, and serve.
  3. The amounts of oil and vinegar can be adjusted to taste; the amounts listed in this recipe are just our personal preferences.


Light Alfredo Sauce

Okay, look. Before we get started, I KNOW there are going to be some connoisseurs out there who sniff indignantly at the idea of an Alfredo sauce that isn’t made with butter and cream and egg yolks and whatever the hell REAL Alfredo sauce is made of. This isn’t intended to be an indulgence that makes your arteries slam shut immediately upon consumption and which requires you to balance the rest of your week by eating nothing but salads and drinking water. This is a LIGHT Alfredo sauce, and it’s tasty enough that you will LIKE it (unless you’re a snob, that’s right I said it!) and it’s relatively light and healthy and won’t make a dent in your diet. Capisce?

It’s also incredibly simple (though you do have to use the blender/ food processor, and those things are a pain in the ass to drag out, and then a pain in the ass to clean, but it’s so worth it.)


Alfredo Sauce (1)

Skim milk (you could use 2% or whole), Neufchatel cheese (you could use regular cream cheese if you want), garlic, salt and pepper, and Parmesan cheese. The original recipe calls for parsley as well, but I hate parsley so we go without.

Alfredo Sauce (2)

Throw everything in your blender.

Alfredo Sauce (3)

Blend it ’til there are no clumps.

Alfredo Sauce (4)

Pour into a saucepan over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

On a side note, I love that pan so very very much. Several years ago, Fred’s father and stepmother gave us a set of Scanpan pots and pans. They are absolutely awesome, and I’m not kidding when I say that I expect I’ll be cooking with those pots and pans for the rest of my life. In fact, if Fred up and leaves me for another woman, I am claiming custody of the Scanpan cookware.

(Which shouldn’t bother Fred anyway, because I’m sure that whore can’t cook.)

Anyway, a few months ago Fred’s father and stepmother got a new stove, one of those ones that boils water in 30 seconds and requires special pots and pans. Fred’s father called and asked if we wanted any of their Scanpan cookware. Fred jauntily replied “No, we’re good” and then hung up and told me what his father had asked.

You better bet your ass that he called his father back immediately and told him that he’d misspoken. One of the pieces we got from them was this deep pan (which we didn’t already have, because it wasn’t part of the set they gave us initially), and I love it so much that I’m thinking of marrying it. It is beyond awesome.

Alfredo Sauce (5)

See? Getting thicker. (If you’re using parsley, you’d add most of it to the sauce at this point, and save some for garnish afterward.)

Meanwhile, prepare your meat. I always use this Alfredo sauce with shrimp and angel hair (because that’s the kind of pasta we always have on hand). If you’re using chicken, you can cook the chicken in the sauce, but with seafood you’ll want to cook it separately.

Alfredo Sauce (6)

This is how thick I like my Alfredo sauce. I imagine you could keep going if you wanted it thicker. It’s all about personal preferences, y’know.

Alfredo Sauce (7)

I cooked my angel hair and shrimp, tossed them together, and then added the Alfredo sauce and mixed.

Alfredo Sauce (8)

Don’t be too impressed by my fancy serving dish. I always mix my stuff in a big plastic container because I know we’re going to have leftovers, and why dirty more dishes than I need to?

I use two pounds of shrimp and half a pound of angel hair with the Alfredo sauce, and it works out perfectly.

Light Alfredo Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Original Source/Author:
: Sauce
Serves: 6
  • ½ c. cream cheese (I use Neufchatel)
  • 1 c. milk (I use skim)
  • 3 T freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • ½ tsp each salt & pepper
  • 3 T dry parsley or ½ c. fresh (I hate parsley, so we leave this out)
  1. Put cream cheese, milk, Parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper in blender; blend until there are no clumps. Pour into saucepan on medium heat, cook for about 10 minutes (stirring every couple of minutes). While cooking, add parsley (if fresh, chop finely) and save some for the garnish (or leave it out completely.)
  2. Cook your favorite pasta. Pour desired amount of Alfredo sauce over pasta. Cook selected meat in sauce to absorb flavor; if using seafood, use a different pan and then add over pasta before adding Alfredo sauce.


Mushroom Risotto

Have y’all ever watched Hell’s Kitchen? Did you see Chef Ramsay lose his shit over some hapless fool’s shitty risotto and go on a rant at least once a show? When you see a show where they talk about risotto constantly, guess what happens? That’s right, you want to eat you some risotto. The other thing he was ALWAYS going on about was Beef Wellington, which I hope someday to eat. I Googled about for risotto recipes, and when I found that you have to stand over the stove and slowwwwwly stir stock into the pot of rice until it’s absorbed, then add more and slowwwwly stir it while it absorbs, I was all “Um, no.” I’ve got better things to do than stand over the stove and babying some stupid rice dish along.


I saw this recipe in some magazine somewhere and I was all “Risotto! I bet it’s a pain in the ass!” and then I read the recipe and it’s made in the microwave, removing the need to stand and stir for 37 days.

Now, I know what those of you who make risotto on the regular are going to say. You’re going to tell me that I’m nuts, that I need to make it the RIGHT way, that the microwave version DOES NOT COMPARE. I find that I like the microwave version so much that I’m willing to forgo making it the RIGHT way, because if the RIGHT-way-made risotto is better than this stuff, I’ll be spending my entire life in front of that stupid-ass stove.

And I don’t wanna.

If you’re lazy like me, take my hand and let’s get to microwavin’!


Risotto (13)

I use Arborio rice. The recipe says you could also use long grain rice, but I recommend you give the Arborio a try. Mushrooms (fresh – I’ve tried canned, they just aren’t as good in this recipe), butter, thyme, chicken broth, garlic cloves, and while the recipe calls for grated parmesan, I use shredded.

Now, please note that you see peas above. You DO NOT have to use peas. The recipe actually does not call for peas, but I like them. Some people, like my friend Liz, consider peas to be a personal insult. If you are a pea-hater, leave ’em out, no biggie.

Also, please note the onions. Again, the original recipe doesn’t call for onions, but I love them. Leave ’em out if you don’t.

First step, in a deep microwave-safe dish with a tight-fitting lid (I use a Pyrex dish, you’ll see), combine butter and thyme. Microwave for 1 minute (this is just to melt the butter). Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and microwave for 8 minutes.

Risotto (1)

(Because I used onion and peas, I added the onion with the mushrooms, microwaved for 6 minutes, added the peas, and microwaved for an additional 2 minutes.)

With a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms (and onions and peas, if you’re using them) to a plate.

In the same dish that you cooked the mushrooms (etc.) in, combine rice, broth and garlic. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Cover and microwave for 9 minutes.

Risotto (4)

Stir, add 2 c. water, and microwave for 9 minutes more. Now, because everything in my life is a big pain in the ass, for some reason in this particular step, some of the liquid boils over. To prevent a huge mess in the microwave, I put a couple of paper towels under the dish. After the cooking is done, I toss those paper towels in the compost bin, and don’t have to scrub down the microwave. That’s a win for me!

Risotto (5)

When that 9 minutes is up, stir the mushroom (/onion/ peas) mixture into the rice and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir in the parmesan.

After you add the parmesan, the whole mixture might be a bit soupy. That’s okay – let it sit for a few minutes and it will get thicker. And it will be faaaaaabulous.

Risotto (10)

Risotto (11)
That’s right, we had risotto with our roast. Two DCEP recipes from one meal! I’m a cheater!

It’s even better the next day. I’ve been known to sneak bites of cold risotto during the day when I happen to see the dish sitting in the fridge beckoning me seductively.

I imagine there are any number of things you could add to this stuff to liven it up. We’ve talked about grilling shrimp and stirring it in at the end, for one.

If possible, Fred likes this stuff even more than I do. I don’t make it too often (I don’t want to make it so often we get tired of it), but when I do the chickens don’t get any of it because we like it so much! From us, that’s high praise indeed.


Mushroom Risotto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
: side dish, appetiser
Serves: 8ish
  • 2 T butter
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 10 oz mushrooms, trimmed and quartered (I use the 8 oz container of sliced (cleaned) mushrooms from the grocery store.)
  • coarse salt & ground pepper
  • 1 c. Arborio or long grain rice
  • 1 can chicken broth (I use 2 c. chicken broth)
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced (I use minced)
  • ¼ c. grated Parmesan (I use shredded)
  • Optional:
  • ½ c. peas
  • 1 - 2 small onions, chopped
  1. In a deep microwave safe dish with tight-fitting lid, combine butter and thyme. Microwave 1 minute. Add mushrooms (and onions, if you're using them), season with salt and pepper, microwave 8 minutes. (If you're using peas, microwave the mushrooms for 6 minutes, stir in the peas, and microwave another 2 minutes)
  2. Transfer mushroom mixture to a plate.
  3. In the same dish (that you microwaved the mushrooms in) combine rice, broth and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and microwave for 9 minutes.
  4. Stir in 2 c. water, microwave 9 minutes more.
  5. Stir in mushroom mixture; microwave 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in Parmesan; let sit for a few minutes (mixture will thicken a bit).


Hot Honeyed Spare Ribs

Every week we’ll post a recipe that we both made. This week’s recipe was Hot Honeyed Spare Ribs by Sandra Lee of Food Network Fame.

Nance’s take:

It was my turn to pick the recipe for the week. Boo-yah!  No healthy eating and/or vegetables up in this hizzy!  And if you thought that my recipe choice was well thought out and done with thorough research you are just nothing but Chris Brown wrong.  I picked this type of recipe out because I had a package of ribs in my freezer and was completely over eating anything that involved chicken or ground beef.  I chose this particular recipe because I googled rib recipe images and it caught my eye.  I’m easy that way (insert whore joke here, I don’t mind).  I also have to admit that I don’t watch Food Network television so the only thing I really know about Sandra Lee is that she apparently likes the alky-haul.  Whatevs, I’m not judging.  I save my judging for bloggers that end up on video because whoa, seeing that fake shit makes me so uncomfortable.  Just type your words, fixate on your husband’s ass and stay off of video because YOU. CANNOT. ACT.

So yeah.  RIBS.  I finally looked  at the recipe after it was all settled between Robyn and I that it was going to be the recipe we would do together.  And that’s when  I realized that I didn’t have all of the ingredients that I needed.  I also didn’t know what one of the ingredients was.  Chili Garlic sauce.  The fuck?  I had to google it.  And I did find out that you can buy the stuff at Walmart, but Rick was going in a different direction (I was having him pick the stuff up while he was out).  I told him that any brand would do as long as it was Chili Garlic Sauce.


I ended up with this. Apparently Rick is dyslexic. But I don’t think that it matters. We’re trying to eat a little healthier (says she who picked ribs) so I had him get the lighter dressing.


This is my homemade broiler (cookie rack/cookie sheet). I had a beautiful one that I gave to the thrift store because I never used it. I hate broiling anything because I usually burn foods (I get bored and walk away) or it makes a mess of my oven. Blech, to the broiling. You’ll see why I changed my mind about broiling at the end of this entry.


I’m also easing up on the sugar in this house. We use Splenda when we can and this is our favorite brand of “artificial” honey. It’s sold at Walmart and it’s cheap.


I just threw all of the ingredients in a measuring cup (that’s a two cup one) because measuring honey is a pain in the ass so I started with it in the bottom. I knew that once I mixed it all up it would come out easily with a spatula and save me from a sticky mess.


Once I dumped it all over my pre-broiled ribs (crock pot was sprayed with cooking spray, of course) I was pretty sure this recipe was going to be a total flop. When I walked past it I would try to baste it because I was worried that the meat would have no flavor.  I can honestly say that I was getting PISSED that I wasted good money on a shitty recipe. After I splashed myself with the sauce for the third time I said the hell with it and walked away.


And that’s when things started to get good. I should have left it the hell alone from the very beginning and let it do its thing!


Once cooked, my runny mess turned into a delicious sauce. And the ribs came off the bone like butter.


Crappy picture by my husband. I was too busy shoving my piehole with this deliciousness to even bother taking a picture. I like some spice to my food. Not a lot because I don’t want to have my taste buds burned off, or have to suck down Tums or Prilosec after I eat. This had just enough heat to let me know it was there, but it was really about the flavor. Everyone in the house liked this (except my mother who does not eat ribs, weirdo).

It will definitely be in the mealtime rotation because it’s a great way to do ribs when you can’t do them on the grill. Just follow the directions, have a little faith and don’t mess with ’em!


 Robyn’s take:

I will be honest with y’all, when I looked at the list of ingredients and saw Catalina dressing on there, I was like “Uh… really?” Because while I like Catalina dressing on a salad (it’s what I always get at a salad bar!), I wouldn’t have guessed it to be a terrific ingredient when it comes to ribs. But then, I rarely make ribs and when I do, I toss them in the crock pot with BBQ sauce and call it good enough, so what do I know?

First of all, the recipe calls for “baby back ribs, cut in 1/2.” This sent me into a slight tizzy because we had ribs in the freezer – ribs from our very own pigs – but what was the difference between those ribs and baby back ribs? I decided to look at baby back ribs at the grocery store, and if there was some huge, visible difference between those and what we had on hand, I’d go with the baby back ribs. Well, I couldn’t find anything labeled “baby back ribs” at the grocery store, so using our own ribs was what I ended up doing.

Gratuitous ingredients shot:


(The low-sodium soy sauce is missing from this picture.)

Like Nance, I had no idea what Chili Garlic Sauce was. I got in my head that it was something I’d find in the marinade section. So I stood there for about ten minutes looking and looking for something that said Chili Garlic Sauce on it, and nothin’. I was getting frustrated and on the verge of texting Nance to be all “WTF?” when I remembered that I have a smart phone, so I Googled around and found that I’d do better off looking in the Asian section. I looked, and whattaya know, there it was. I think it’s funny that Nance and I both ended up with the exact same brand. Same brand of dressing, too! Here’s a handy tip when it comes to dressings (same holds true for cheeses) : reduced calorie is fine, but for god’s sake, don’t ever buy the fat free stuff. It tastes like plastic, and I am not even kidding you.

I actually had to broil my ribs in two batches, because I ended up with more than four pounds of ribs (and also, they weren’t cut in half like the recipe called for because I could only imagine that I’d have hacked my thumb off in the process).

I do actually have a broiling pan, aren’t you jealous? I’ve used it maybe three times, ever.

Nance’s idea of using a big measuring cup to mix up the sauce is a good one – I didn’t think of that, so I mixed everything up in a smallish bowl while the first batch of ribs were broiling. Then as I put each section of ribs into the crock pot, I poured some sauce over each, front and back, so I wouldn’t need to do any stirring.


I was afraid that the sauce wouldn’t thicken up, but right around 3 hours, it got nice and thick. I took my ribs out at the 3 1/2 hour mark to let them cool a bit, while I made our side dishes (rice and veggies).


As you can see, I put some of the sauce over my rice.

The verdict? Really, really good. Both Fred and I liked it a LOT. We don’t eat ribs very often, and in the past we’ve only eaten them because we had them in the freezer. I don’t know that we’re going to eat ribs more often in the future, but when we have them (I believe we’ve got another couple of packs of ribs left over from the previous pig), this is going to be the go-to recipe.

I love that we’re going to probably get another two meals out of this. The best part of living in a house with two people? You don’t have to cook as often!

Two thumbs up to the ribs. Obviously Nance needs to pick our recipes more often!

PS: I think a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic would have been a nice addition, too.


Hot Honeyed Spare Ribs
Original Source/Author:
: Main
  • 4 pounds baby back ribs, cut in ½
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup chili garlic sauce
  • 1 cup Catalina dressing
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Preheat broiler. Line bottom portion of broiler pan with foil for easy clean up. Spray top rack lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Season ribs with garlic salt and pepper. Broil for 5 to 6 minutes, turn and broil for an additional 5 to 6 minutes. Place browned ribs in slow cooker.
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. Pour sauce mixture over ribs. Move ribs around to make sure they are all coated. Cover and cook on High setting for 3 to 4 hours or Low for 8 hours.
  4. With tongs, remove ribs from slow cooker and let cool slightly before cutting into individual rib pieces. Skim grease from sauce. Serve ribs with sauce on the side.


Garlicky Baked Shrimp

Recipe found at Real Simple and changed to suit my tastes.

I love shrimp so very, very much. The only seafood I love more than shrimp is lobster, and every time I visit Maine, I eat every lobster in the state because I love it so. If I were on death row, my last meal request would be lobster and whoopie pies.

But this is about shrimp, not lobster. I like shrimp so much that every time I go to Sam’s, I buy two two-pound bags of frozen jumbo shrimp to keep on hand. When I saw this recipe on Real Simple, I knew I had to give it a try. And I liked it so much that it’s become my shrimp standby – it couldn’t possibly be any easier. (Shrimp Standby would be an excellent band name. Maybe Shrimp Standby with a Lobster Chaser.)

The ingredients:


The recipe as written calls for 1 pound of peeled and deveined medium or large shrimp. I use two pounds of peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp and just double everything else. (They come with tails still on in the bag, in the picture above I’ve thawed the shrimp and removed the tails already.) Also, garlic, salt and pepper, chicken broth, and panko bread crumbs.

Truly, the recipe is simple – preheat the oven, combine the shrimp, garlic, chicken broth (the Real Simple recipe calls for white wine, which I don’t keep on hand), and salt and pepper in a baking dish (I use a 9×13 dish). Then you add the bread crumbs to the top – and this is where I mix it up. The original recipe calls for you to mix panko bread crumbs with softened butter and then top the shrimp with it. I don’t want to use all that butter, so I do one of the following:

1. Use half the amount of butter
2. Use no butter and instead spray the top of the bread crumbs with butter-flavored Pam
3. Mix the bread crumbs with broth until they’re lightly moistened, and sprinkle on top of the shrimp

I opted to do #3 – mix the bread crumbs with broth – this time around, and it worked out just fine.

Shrimp and bread crumbs, headed for the oven.

The shrimp bakes for 15 – 18 minutes, which is just enough time to make angel hair pasta or rice – it’s up to you – to serve the shrimp with.


Did I mention that I love shrimp?


You can share with the cats, but that means less for you!


Garlicky Baked Shrimp
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Original Source/Author:
: Entree, Main, Seafood
Serves: 4
  • 2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp (I use jumbo; you could also use medium or large)
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced (I use minced)
  • 4 T chicken broth
  • salt and black pepper
  • ½ c panko bread crumbs
  • enough broth to moisten bread crumbs (see notes for additional ideas)
  1. Heat oven to 425º. In a baking dish, combine the shrimp, garlic, broth, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and enough broth to lightly moisten. (see notes for other options)
  3. Sprinkle over the shrimp and bake until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 15 - 18 minutes.
If you prefer to go ahead and use butter instead of broth to moisten the bread crumbs, use ¼ c. softened butter. OR Use neither broth nor butter - after sprinkling the dry bread crumbs on top of the shrimp, spray with butter flavored Pam.