AKA Abraham Bacoln

October 21, 2007, 8:25 pm
Filed under: dessert, entree, recipe

It was my dad’s birthday a few days ago and I told him for his birthday present I’d cook him whatever he wanted. Turns out he never specifically asked for anything so I just made a decision for him. Today’s birthday dinner was:

Spinach salad with toasted pine nuts and goat cheese
Chicken and andouille in cream sauce over pasta
Bread pudding with whiskey sauce

So here we go! Recipe time! Hey, it’s been a while since I mentioned this, but I totally find all my recipes on the internet. I know I should give credit but I’m bad, I change ’em up a little and then they’re not really the original any more, but I should still give credit, ‘cept wherever I got them probably took them from somewhere else, etc. you’re falling asleep so WAKE UP here we have:

Spinach salad

This doesn’t really need its own section but what the heck. Toast pine nuts in the skillet ’till golden brown. Put baby spinach leaves in a bowl, sprinkle on pine nuts and crumbled goat cheese. Vinaigrette is a good dressing if you wish.

Okay, now for real food:

Chicken and andouille in cream sauce over pasta

Chicken and andouille in cream sauce over pasta

3 boneless chicken breasts
~1/2 diced andouille, diced
olive oil
1/8 cup onions, diced
1/8 cup celery, diced
1/8 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/8 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 roma tomato, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, diced
pinch of dry thyme
pinch of dry basil
~2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 box rotini pasta (16 oz? I don’t remember. I’m not a smart man.)

1.) Cut chicken breasts into one inch cubes and season with salt and pepper. Dust lightly with flour and set aside.
2.) In a big skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
3.) Saute chicken until lightly browned on all sides.
4.) Add andouille, onions, celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Saute approximately three to five minutes or until vegetables are wilted.
5.) Add thyme and basil.
6.) Add heavy whipping cream (I ended up using a little less than 2c) and bring to a low boil.
7.) Stirring occasionally, allow cream to reduce and thicken.
8.) Remove from heat, spoon over cooked rotini, garnish with parsley.

MMMMMMM. There is NOTHING that cream does not make better. NOTHING. I of course ended up putting black pepper on mine, you may want a little cayenne. Your choice. It’s gonna be good regardless. I served some sauteed (seared?) pepper strips on the side.

and now


Bread pudding and whiskey sauce

Bread pudding

1/2 loaf ‘Italian’ bread from Kroger
2 tablespoons butter, melted
~1/2 cup raisins (optional)
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan.
3.) Drizzle melted butter over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
4.) In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.
5.) Pour mixture over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking it up.
6.) Bake for 45 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

The bread should be day-old but I didn’t decide ’till this morning what I was making. If you cut that bread in half as if it were a giant sandwich and bake it for 10-15 minutes at 200 degrees that’ll dry it right out perfect.

Whiskey sauce

4 tbsp. butter, cut in 1/2 inch bits
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup whiskey

1.) Melt butter in double boiler.
2.) Stir sugar and egg in small bowl.
3.) Gradually add sugaregg to butter until sugar dissolves over hot, not boiling, water.
4.) Remove from heat after 2-3 minutes; let cool.
5.) Stir in whiskey (I ended up finding that a little less than 1/4 cup was perfect)
6.) Pour warm sauce over pudding, top with whipped cream.

That’s it! Delicious food! Eat some!

Holidays = food
January 10, 2007, 12:56 am
Filed under: entree, recipe

Lemon-caper chicken and baked eggplant with bruschetta

Originally uploaded by Kevin O’Mara.


Okay, this is something that I didn’t cook. That’s right, I didn’t even cook this stuff. It’s someone else’s cooking and it’s SO GOOD that I have to blog about it anyway. Dad whipped this up sometime over the holidays and I just now wrested the recipe(s) away from him. I have to share! He’ll understand one day.

Oh, one last thing before I get into this – I do not, as a rule, enjoy eggplant. I mean, if someone makes it I’ll eat it, but I certainly wouldn’t cook it myself, and I can’t even imagine paying a restaurant to cook it for me. Having said that, this is an eggplant recipe that I fully intend to duplicate at some point in the near future. That’s how good it was.

But first, the chickie-bawk.

Lemon-caper chicken

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast tenderloins, each beat nice and flat
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tbsp capers
garnish: lemon wedges, parsley

1.) Cut chicken into 1/2 inch thick slices (if necessary). Place between waxed paper and flatten with meat mallet until 1/8 inch thick.
2.) Dredge chicken in combined flour, salt, and pepper.
3.) Melt 2 tbsp butter with oil in skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken in batches; about 1 1/2 mins. on each side or until golden.
4.) Remove and keep warm.
5.) Deglaze skillet with remaining butter, wine, and lemon juice. Cook 2 minutes or just until heated through.
6.) Stir in parsley, garlic and capers; heat through.

Spoon over chicken. Add garnish if desired.

And now the faboo eggplant. I’m not gonna tell you where Dad got the recipe. Think space aliens, think Italian grandmother, think creative burst of inspiration, think dusty old magazine … think whatever you want. It’s his secret, not mine.

The First Eggplant of Which I Have Intentionally And Emphatically Had Seconds

1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 tablespoon sesame seeds (I used toasted)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1.) Preheat oven to 400
2.) Combine ingredients and place in shallow bowl

1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs beaten with a splash of water
1 large firm eggplant, thinly sliced

3.) Dust the eggplant slices in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture.
4.) Press into the breadcrumb mixture.
5.) Arrange eggplant on a large nonstick cookie sheet and bake in the center of the oven until golden all over, 15 to 17 minutes. (no need to turn or broil)

While the eggplant was baking Dad sauteed some garlic in olive oil and added that to some store-bought bruschetta and heated it all up in a little saucepan. Man, was that ever awesome.


Go and create, my children, go and create. You will not be disappointed.

I don’t even know what to call it
December 6, 2006, 12:29 am
Filed under: entree, recipe

I don’t even remember the name of this recipe. I’m sure it was something like “easy holiday sweet-potato sausage skillet surprise extravaganza meal” or something like that. Hell, I don’t even know what magazine it came out of – just something lying around my parents’ house. Regardless, I saw it the other day and decided that this would be my Tuesday Dinner For The Parents this week.

I’m gonna start here by mentioning that the original recipe – which I do not have with me, by the way, I am writing this from memory – called for salsa verde to top the dish. I’m no big fan of salsa verde and I lucked out – when Mom was picking up ingredients she was shopping at Food Lion which is often referred to in my mind as That Place That Never Has A Damn Thing I’m Looking For. Turns out – get this – they didn’t have salsa verde. ¡QUÉ UNA SORPRESA!

Mom did an amazing thing and picked up some Newman’s Own Lime and Tequila Sadly Alcohol-Free (Red) Salsa. That stuff is FANTASTIC. Well, okay, let me back (that thing) up and say that it was wonderful as a topping to our meal. How it would work on chips, I dunno. This salsa has a bit of an attitude problem, a cry for attention, perhaps, and is a bit intense. Not spicy-heat-wise or anything, no, it’s just like Paul Newman said, “I WANT SOME SALSA WHOSE FLAVOR GOES TO ELEVEN.” He talks like that. I’ve met him.

Without further ado, you’re about to be subjected to my best job at remembering how to make tonight’s dish:

Seriously, It’s Not Weird – It Tastes Great

You will need to procure, and probably not from Food Lion,

2 sweet potatoes – I only used 1.5 as the ones Mom got were huge
1/2 lb breakfast sausage. Cut that little Tennessee Pride boy right in half!
1-2 green bell peppers
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp cumin (are you listening, Trey?)
Olive oil, water, salt, pepper, the usual.

1. Add a dash of salt to a medium-sized pot full of water. Bring to boil.
2. Cut the sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch chunks.
3. Boil potato chunklets for 4 minutes or until barely tender, then drain
4. In a large skillet (no, seriously, like make sure it’s a 12-inch) brown the sausage. Drain the sausage. Set the sausage aside. Ignore the sausage. Do not eat the sausage yet.
5. Bring skillet to medium-high heat, add olive oil and green bell peppers. Sauté for a few minutes.
6. Add onion. Cook until translucent and done.
7. Add garlic, sausage, sweet potatoes, and cumin to pan. Continue cooking for 5 minutes or so.
8. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pretty easy, huh? Top that sucker with a few splashes of the salsa and you’re good to go.

I have to totally give a shout-out to my Mom who prepared a super-tasty salad to go along with this. Shredded fresh spinich topped with grated carrot, nuts (walnuts?), dried cranberries, and … um … something else. I’ve already forgotten. Drizzle a little raspberry vinaigrette over that and you’re good to go.

Hearty! Filling! Jawsome! Until next time!

Lunatic ravings
November 15, 2006, 1:21 am
Filed under: entree, recipe

Tortilla Madness

Originally uploaded by Kevin O’Mara.

“What? Another recipe?” I hear you cry. Yes, it is the truth. Once again I have conquered the demons of the kitchen and returned triumphant with a tasty dish fit for two guys to eat on a Tuesday night.

I’m trying to make Tuesday be my “cook for the parents” night, and so far it’s working, though this week Mom’s out of town visiting relatives and so it was a guy’s night … um … in, I suppose.

Before I get too far into this, I have to brag on my dad – he’s pretty much the best kitchen help I could possibly hire. Considering I don’t have any spare cash, my help would have to work for free, and you just can’t find good employees for free anymore. I guess that’s what’s at the root of the word employee, after all – the word employ, from the French, trompe l’oiel, which means to pay people to sit around in such a way that it appears they’re actually working.

Anyway, Dad’s a great help in the kitchen because he and I seem to know how to work without getting in each others way. He has a knack for knowing what I’ll need next without me even having to ask, and he’s a pro at cutting tortillas into 1-inch strips. That’s actually what they had him doing in the Army for three years. He has war stories about guys losing fingers during the Corn Tortilla Conflict, dull knives, stale tortillas … it’s horrific.

I guess I should get around to the recipe part, yeah?

Oh, hey, but listen – I have pretty much decided that I hate corn tortillas. The soft warm and almost sweet goodness of flour tortillas wins out every day, in my not-so-humble opinion. Next recipe in which I am involved that calls for corn tortillas is gonna get a rude awakening when I mix it up all crazy-like. I found that the corn tortillas in this recipe detracted from the flavor of the rest of the dish so TO HELL WITH CORN TORTILLAS, I say, AND DAMN THE TORPEDOES.

This Recipe Had Some Interesting Name But I’ve Lost The Link So I’m Gonna Call It … Tortilla Madness

1 cup onion, thinly-sliced
5 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (that means pre-cooked and THEN shredded, people, you can’t shred raw chicken, or at least not easily and without grossing someone out)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (~7 oz) salsa de chile fresco (I could find nothing of the sort at Food Lion so I made do with some green chiles and mild salsa)
15 (6-inch) FLOUR tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips
1 cup shredded white cheese or maybe if you’re me you opt for Mexican 4-cheese blend, which tastes just like all the other bagged pre-shredded cheeses at the grocery store.

1.) Sautee the onions in a little bit of oil until translucent, maybe 3-4 minutes.
2.) Throw in the garlic, cook for 1 minute.
3.) Add the chicken, cook for 30-45 seconds to warm it up a bit.
4.) Put chicken, garlic, and onion in a medium bowl and stir in the black beans.
5.) In the skillet, bring the broth and the salsa to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer for a few minutes. Stir occasionally.
6.) Grease up a 9×12 baking dish.
7.) Make a layer of tortilla strips, using half the strips at your disposal.
8.) Make a layer of chicken-bean mixture, using half the chicken-bean.

Mmmmmm. Chicken-bean.

9.) Repeat steps 7 and 8.
10.) Pour the broth-salsa mixture evenly over the casserole.

Mmmmmm. Broth-salsa.

11.) Top this with the cheese.
12.) Bake at 450 (you pre-heated your oven, right?) for 10 minutes, or until cheese is all golden and bubbly.

Eat eat eat eat eat. I served with corn, because black beans and corn entered into an alliance in the year 450 CE and declared that they would always taste great together and work as a team on any plate.

Man, I totally need to go to bed.

Day for Night
November 8, 2006, 12:51 am
Filed under: entree, photography, recipe

I’m a bit down lately because it doesn’t matter which day of the week it is, whether or not I’m getting out of class or out of work, there’s no daylight left. It seems silly for an amateur to say something so pretentious, but my photography is stagnating. I currently have one day a week when I can go outside and enjoy the daylight (that’s Sunday, for those of you keeping track) and I can’t just force inspiration to strike. Sometimes I’m too busy on Sundays even to just run around looking for photographic opportunities. There are only so many pictures I can take at night in Cookeville before I start to get a bit worn out, and only so many times I can take photos of sitting around a friend’s house doin’ nothing. I’m gonna have to start doing self-portraits against the blank white walls of my apartment or something.

I realize I should view this as a challenge instead of a detriment, but it’s hard to think that way. I walked to the square tonight to see what I could find, and the answer was NUFFIN.

Well, um, let’s see. Past that, I’ve decided that Tuesday night is Cook for the Parents Night. It’s an excuse to go use their sweet kitchen setup and not have to clean up afterwards. Tonight’s experiment was a FANTASTIC success, a solid keeper vote by all three parties. Cooking Light is to thank for this recipe, though I will post my ever-so-slightly modified version. Seriously, this one’s a keeper and it’s also stupid simple.

I Don’t Remember What They Called It – Italian Sausage Soup or Something?

3 links Italian sausage
2 cups chicken broth (for this I do recommend broth, not water + bouillon)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (see how easy? all y’uns’s ingredients is already in the can)
1/2 cup uncooked small penne pasta (or shells, or bowties, or whatever)
2 cups bagged baby spinach leaves
Lotsa grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1.) Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.
2.) Remove casings from sausage.
3.) Add sausage to pan, and cook about 5 minutes or until browned, and make sure to break it into bite-size pieces (or smaller)
4.) Drain; return to pan.
5.) Add broth, tomatoes, and pasta to pan, and bring to a boil over high heat.
6.) Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is done.
7.) Remove from heat; stir in spinach until wilted.
8.) Sprinkle each serving with cheese and basil.

See? Stupid easy. It doesn’t even have 10 steps, and it’s delicious. I’d make the Rachael Ray face here, but you can’t see me over the internet.

Though maybe I just got an idea for one of those self-portraits …

Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.
November 5, 2006, 9:16 pm
Filed under: entree, recipe

Just like that Burden Brothers song, it’s a beautiful night. Tonight’s the first time I’ve ridden my bicycle since I moved to the apartment – actually, the first time I’ve ridden it since I left Portland. It felt great. The whole town is asleep at 8:00 on a Sunday night and no one got in my way. It was lonely, cold, quiet, and blissful.

I just did some quick errands: depositing a check, turning in my time slip, grocery shopping. It felt really good to be going to the store on bike again, and Kroger isn’t very far from my place. It is, however, going to piss me off if they don’t grow a bike rack soon. I realize this is Cookeville, not Portland, and there aren’t bike commuters at every intersection. Still, one bike rack is not too much to ask, I think.

I shall have to write them a letter.

I’m constantly finding myself more and more motivated to do something, something important, but I don’t know what my cause is. I thought about getting myself banned from Wal-Mart but that just didn’t seem right for me. It’s not that I shop there often, or would even miss it, just that it seems a pointless gesture to make in the middle of Wal-Martburbia.

I know that I’m only one voice, I know that someone hearing my words may not make a difference. I realize on the other hand that if I say nothing and stay silent then there’s not even a chance to make a difference.

To what cause should I apply my voice? I can’t make the decision, maybe because I can’t even come up with interesting prospects.

Ah, well, the entirety of my time is occupied with school, work, and red beans ‘n rice anyway. Right? No? That’s a cop-out?

Hey, speaking of red beans ‘n rice, and of Kroger, i.e. food in general, I have a recipe that I’ve forgotten to share with you. It’s an old one from the parents’ food library. Let’s see if I can remember it off the top of my head.

B. Rhea Memorial Soup

You need a crockpot to do this correctly (in other words, with the minimal amount of effort) though I suppose you could do it in a large stock pot.
1 lb hamburger
1 can whole kernel corn, undrained
1 can green beans, undrained
1 large potato
1 large can (30 oz?) stewed tomatoes

1 whole white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced or minced
2 cups water
2 tbsp beef bouillon
(or instead of the two ingredients above, substitute 2 cups beef broth)
Worscestershire sauce

1.) Brown and drain ground beef
2.) Quarter the potato and slice thinly
3.) Put potato, beef, corn, green beans, and tomatoes in the crockpot and get it started
4.) Sweat the onions and garlic (in the butter) in a small saucepot over low to medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes until translucent and soft, covering if necessary
5.) Add water and bouillon (or broth) and bring to a boil.
6.) Add a pinch of salt, a dash of Worcestershire, and a blop of honey
7.) Once the fake onion soup is hot and mixed, add it to the crockpot.
8.) When the potatoes are soft, it’s time to eat.

That’s it – really easy, and a great hearty winter soup.

Caveat: last time I made this, I didn’t need quite all the tomatoes, so you eyeball it, okay, and make sure it’s as tomatoe-y as you want it to be.

Thassit. I gots to go study some Spanish and think of a recipe for Tuesday. I’ll try to keep you posted.


August 18, 2006, 1:20 pm
Filed under: entree, recipe


Originally uploaded by Kevin O’Mara.

The longer I thought about it the less it made sense to me that I was keeping two separate blogs, one for personal stuff and one for food and recipes. So! Now you must suffer the convenience of having all of my words in one place. Besides, I haven’t been cooking that many new recipes lately so you won’t be inundated with cups and tablespoons.

This recipe is an old family standby – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had it. Sometimes it can come out rather bland, but when I made it last night it was stellar. I don’t know what I did wrong, but it was right.

Oh, also, the recipe itself says ‘quick jambalaya’ but this … well, let’s just say after having lived in New Orleans this doesn’t really compare to true jambalaya. It’s just …


1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 lb smoked sausage of some sort, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups total of any and all of the following: onion, green bell pepper, celery
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes
hot sauce
black pepper
(optional) flour

Already I think you get the idea, but I’ll lay it out for you.

1.) Cook the rice
2.) While rice is cooking, sautee the meats and veggies for at least five minutes.
3.) When meat and veggies are cooked up and tender, throw in the tomatoes, hot sauce, and black pepper.
4.) Once that gets nice and simmer-ing-y, check to see if it’s too watery. If so, cook down for a while longer or sprinkle some flour for a quick fix.
5.) Add rice to meet your desired ratio of rice-to-non-rice-ness.
6.) Yell for everyone to come and get it.

You must add the rice to the other stuff because this isn’t like red beans n’ rice or like gumbo where each person makes their own bowl. It’s supposed to be a cohesive dish, displaying the true culinary artistry of the chef.

And now, some notes. Mom and I wondered why it was so good this time when it has a tendency to be a bit on the underwhelming side. I went in the kitchen and wrote down that I used Butterball Smoked Turkey Sausage (extra tender) and Del Monte diced tomatoes with onion and garlic. That’s the only real deviation from the regular right there. Also, Dad doesn’t care much for the celery so I left that out.

I’d suggest you come eat some but I’m gonna go take care of the rest of the leftovers right now, so you’re out of luck.