Friday, April 26, 2013

OOB Pier

A beautiful Spring evening in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and a view of the historic pier.  The flash of light in the background is from Wood Island Light in Biddeford.  

I love this place - what's not to love about 7 miles of sandy beach!  Below is a little history and an old photo of the pier!  

The Pier first opened to the public on July 2, 1898, offering entertainment of all types - including concerts, dancing, lectures, and a casino located at the very end of the pier. The 1825 foot structure was built with three pavilions by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company for a cost of $38,000. 

The Pier has seen many hardships over the years. In November of 1898, the pier and casino were partially damaged by a storm. The Casino was rebuilt in 1899. In August of 1907, a fire destroyed the entrance.

Once again, the pier was rebuilt in 1908 only to have one of the pavilions swept away by the great storm of March, 1909. This storm caused extensive damage and the casino was shortened by 1,000 feet from its original length of 1,825 feet. 

The middle of the century saw the hay-day of the Pier Casino Ballroom, which held as many as 5,000 people. The Ballroom was noted for its moving picture shows and live entertainment, featuring acts such as Frank Sinatra, Xavier Cugat and Benny Goodman. Celebrities and Dignitaries alike made this one of the premier spots to visit on the East coast.

the years, a series of storms ebbed away at the pier causing the casino to be razed in 1970.......then, the great blizzard of 1978 destroyed what was left of the pier. The Pier, as we know it today, was re-opened in 1980, and houses many shops and restaurants.

Currently the Pier continues to undergo transformation and was featured in the 2002 Motion Picture, "In the Bedroom," which received an Academy Award nomination. Today, the Pier's reputation for food, entertainment, and fun keeps vacationing families and people from all walks of life coming back year after year.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Drunken Pasta!!!

I found and made this mouth watering saucy, Italian “Drunken” Noodles recipe on Pinterest! This melt in your mouth, delicious recipe is made with Spicy Italian Sausage, Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions,  Red, Orange and Yellow Bell Peppers, with Fresh Basil.

So, why is it called "Drunken," well there's some white wine added to the recipe too!  I have to tell you, my husband loved it!  

While it looks like there are a bazillion steps to this recipe, it's super easy, and you probably even have most of the ingredients in your pantry!

Serves 4


Olive oil
4 spicy Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
1 ½ teaspoons salt (this is a HUGE amount of salt & I didn't use any)*
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
½ cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided use
8 ounces Pappardelle noodles, uncooked


Place a large, heavy-bottom pan or braising pot over medium-high heat; add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and once the oil is hot, crumble the spicy Italian sausage into the pan in small chunks (you want to keep the sausage fairly chunky), allowing it to brown in the oil for a few moments on each side; once the crumbled sausage is browned, remove it from the pan/pot with a slotted spoon and place into a small bowl to hold for a moment;

Add the sliced onion into the pan with the sausage drippings, and allow it to caramelize and become golden for roughly 5 minutes or so, stirring to keep it from burning (add a touch more olive oil, if necessary); once the onion starts to become golden, add the salt, Italian seasoning and cracked black pepper, and stir to combine,

Add in the sliced bell peppers, and allow those to saute with the onion for about 2 minutes until slightly tender and golden;

Add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the white wine and allow it to reduce for a few moments, until almost completely reduced;

Add in the diced tomatoes with their juice

Return the browned spicy Italian sausage back into the pan, and gently fold the mixture to combine; allow it to gently simmer for about 3-4 minutes to blend the flavors, then turn the heat off; to finish the sauce,

Drizzle in about 2-3 good tablespoons of the olive oil to create a silky, rich flavor, and add in the chopped parsley and about half of the julienned basil; stir, and keep warm while you prepare the noodles.

Prepare the pappardelle noodles according to instructions on package; then, drain the noodles very well, and add them directly into the sauce, using tongs to gently toss and combine the pappardelle noodles with the sauce and all of the ingredients in it; check the seasoning to see if you need to add any additional salt or pepper.

To Serve
Add equal portions of the “Drunken” noodles to bowls, and garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining julienned basil; you can even top with shaved Parmesan, if desired, and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Dust with your favorite cheese and enjoy! Oh, pour a glass of that chardonnay for yourself too . . .

*I had to make some substitutions and some slight changes along the way.  See below.
  • My market didn't have fresh basil so I used dry basil.
  • My market didn't have Pappardelle noodles, so I used the widest noodles I could find.
  • I did not add the salt & it didn't need any in my opinion.
  • I did not add pepper because my sausage was very spicy! Like me!!! 

Thank you for your kind words about my cousin's cousin in my previous post who was severely injured at the Boston Marathon.

Sadly the mom lost both of her legs below the knees. Amazingly enough, she has a good outlook and is planning to run the marathon with her sister next year!  She was at the finish line waiting to see her sister cross the finish line when the bombs exploded.

Her 18 year old daughter, who is a senior in high school, still has a few more surgeries ahead of her.  She has serious foot/ ankle wounds, lots of schrapnel that had to be removed and her femoral artery was severed.  She would have bled out in minutes if it had not been for the kindness of  two perfect strangers.  

These strangers tended to the daughter as her father tended to her mother.  Yes, dad was there too, he was treated and released with minor injuries. 

Thankfully mom & daughter were both brought to the same hospital, and are now in the same room.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

117 Years - now Horror



For 117 years the annual running of the Boston Marathon has been a wonderful event.  It's known locally as "Marathon Monday." It's a family day. Schools in Massachusetts are closed for Spring vacation.  It's a day when friends get together to watch the reenactment of the battle of Lexington and Concord, to cheer the runners, cheer the Red Sox and enjoy a beautiful Spring day.  I can't tell you how many times I've attended this event!  I never once thought I'd be blown up!

I don't understand?

Today, this celebratory day, a day know as Patriots Day, has been forever marred by the horrific bombings at the finish line at Boylston & Exeter Streets.  It is now a crime scene. Two people have died,  people have had traumatic amputations, countless others have been injured.

What does it accomplish?

I'm thankful that my family, friends and acquaintances are safe. I'm heart broken that a city that I love and worked in for 25 years is a war zone.  I am sending prayers to the injured, the deceased and their families. I'm grateful for the first responders, physicians and nurses who were in harms way and never gave it a thought.

Hug your loved ones!


Update - I have just learned that my cousin's cousin was badly injured and may loose both of her feet, her 17 year old daughter was also badly injured.  Both are in surgery.  Please pray for them.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cranberry Orange Buttermilk Pancakes

click to enlarge image

It's school vacation week, and I was in an exceptionally good mood on Saturday morning.  I asked my husband if he'd like some homemade pancakes - ah, such a silly question!  Of course the answer was "yes" LOL!!!

What I like about the cranberries is the extra texture they bring to the pancakes.  The orange flavor is subtle, and the buttermilk seems to make the pancakes melt in your mouth moist.  

My husband said that "these are cookbook delicious!"  Wow, now that's a compliment!  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did! 

1 1/2 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup of butter milk plus 2 tablespoons
1 egg
1/2 cup of dried cranberries (or more if you like)
1 tsp. of orange rind (or more if you like)
Maple syrup (warm)

Mix flour, baking powder and salt, add buttermilk and egg, then mix ingredients together until nice and smooth, add cranberries and orange rind, and mix again.

In a hot skillet add your favorite oil or butter. I used butter flavored olive oil (that's another post).  Using a 1/4 measuring cup, drop batter in and cook on one side until bubbles start to appear, flip and cook on the other side.

Serve with warm maple syrup and enjoy!

These pancakes are on the thick side (which I like), if you like thinner pancakes add more buttermilk.

Serves 4

Duke, guarding the 'hood!  LOL

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Crock Pot Baked Beans

My mom, would would have been 78 today, she was the family bean baker, and when she became ill, I began making them and bringing them to family parties.  Mom would always tell me what she thought of them too!!! 

I decided to make them for Easter, I have to tell you I was a little nervous about making them this way. I felt like I was tempting fate by messing with a tried and true family recipe!  So, I tried something I have NEVER done before - make baked beans in my crock pot!!!  

I know people who have done it, but not me.  I asked my other "bean baking sister," Marilyn if she'd ever tried it - "no, have you . . . "  What's the big deal you ask . . . well, we come from a long line of "oven baked bean" cooks!  

I told her what the others had done and she decided to try it, she had all the ingredients in her pantry. 

Well, I just happened to stop by her home the next evening.  I totally forgot about her experiment  and when I walked in she said, "OMG, you have to try my beans, they are the best I've ever made!"  They were delicious and the difference in taste is minimal.  

2 packages of white dry navy beans
1 1/2 cups molasses
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 package of salt pork
1 large onion (I like to chop mine, but you can put it in whole)
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/2 cup of molasses (save for end)

Soak beans overnight
Boil for 10 minutes
Add to crockpot
Add water to cover beans
add molasses, dry mustard, salt pork, chopped onion, brown sugar
Cover and put on low for 8 - 10 hrs. - I cooked mine overnight, so when I got up my home smelled great!

When cooked add 1/3 cup of molasses for extra rich flavor!

They were delicious and no one knew they weren't in the oven all day!  The best part, I just brought the entire crockpot to my sisters home, and the beans arrived piping hot!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lady Bird Johnson's Lemon Cake

I love to collect recipes from First Ladies. I even have a cookbook of recipes from the White House. I came across this recipe about 14 years ago in a newspaper article, and I've made it several times. It is delicious! I especially enjoy making this cake for Easter. There's something about lemon that sings Spring to me!

When I made this recipe I did make a few swaps so that my niece Catherine could enjoy it. Catherine has dairy, nut, and shellfish allergies. So when we have parties we make our dishes "Catherine approved."

I added extra lemon to the cooked cake, and I substituted the milk for rice milk and the butter for margarine (parve). Parve is a Hebrew term (pareve is the Yiddish term) that describes food without any meat or dairy ingredients.

After the cake cooled I drizzled fresh Meyer lemon juice and let it set over night. The extra lemon really makes the cake moist. The glaze isn't quite as smooth as it would be if I used butter, but it's still delicious.

3/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon lemon juice (I used meyer lemon)

***Lemon Icing***
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
1 lemon, grated rind only
1 lemon, juiced (meyer lemon)
2 teaspoons cream (or more, until spreading consistency)
yellow food coloring, if desired

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until light and lemon-colored; blend into creamed mixture. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; resift 3 times. Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture in thirds, alternating with milk. Beat the batter thoroughly after each addition.

Add vanilla extract, lemon rind and lemon juice; beat 2 minutes. Bake in greased 10-inch Bundt pan in preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. You can also can use three 9-inch round cake pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Double the frosting recipe for a layer cake.

Lemon Icing: Combine ingredients and beat, adding cream until desired consistency.