Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kitty LItter Cake - Happy Halloween (Week 44)

I was going to make something fun for Halloween but it looks like I am going to have to suck it up and be lazy this year.  However, I did tell a few of my pals about this hysterical cake that my sister made and now the recipe is in demand.  Here it is --- the Kitty Litter Cake.  Totally gross but really tasty.  My hope is that Stephanie will weigh in with any extra gross tips.

1 spice or German chocolate cake mix (personal preference for Duncan Hines)
  • 1 white cake mix (ditto on the preference...with white cake it DOES make a difference)
  • 1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix, prepared
  • 1 large package vanilla sandwich cookies
  • green food coloring
  • 12 small Tootsie Roll candies
  • You'll also need: (note the word "NEW"...eeewww...)
  • 1 new kitty litter pan
  • 1 new kitty litter pan liner
  • 1 new pooper scooper


  • Prepare cake mixes and bake according to directions (any size pans).
  • Prepare pudding mix and chill until ready to assemble.
  • Crumble white sandwich cookies in small batches in food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but about 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup cookie crumbs, add a few drops green food coloring and mix until completely colored.
  • When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble into a large bowl. Toss with half the remaining white cookie crumbs and the chilled pudding. Important: mix in just enough of the pudding to moisten it. You don't want it too soggy. Combine gently.
  • Line a new, clean kitty litter box. Put the cake/pudding/cookie mixture into the litter box.
  • Put 3 unwrapped Tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until soft and pliable. Shape ends so they are no longer blunt, curving slightly. Repeat with 3 more Tootsie rolls bury them in the mixture. Sprinkle the other half of cookie crumbs over top. Scatter the green cookie crumbs lightly on top of everything -- this is supposed to look like the chlorophyll in kitty litter.
  • Heat 3 Tootsie Rolls in the microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake; sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Spread remaining Tootsie Rolls over the top. For the coup de gras take one Tootsie Roll and heat until pliable, hang it over the side of the kitty litter box, sprinkling it lightly with cookie crumbs. Place the box on a newspaper and sprinkle a few of the cookie crumbs around for a truly disgusting effect!
See all the "cool" stuff you learn when you follow my blog.....LOL!!  Who knew Tootsie Rolls could double as .....??

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Grilled Standing Rib Roast (Week 44)

After nearly a month of crazy weekends, I finally tackled my parents for a Sunday afternoon lunch (and mooching a meal off Mom and Dad - yeah!)  My Mom has purchased a really nice standing pork rib roast and made the most amazing lunch -- oh my God wonderful with a side of locally grown and totally fresh grilled veggies.

Grilled Pork Rib Roast

  • 1 pork rib roast (3 to 4 pounds)
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Garlic cloves (lots)
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper
  • 1/2 c. Olive oil
  • 2 c. fresh curly Italian peppers
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 2 c. red potatoes quartered
  • 2 small Japanese eggplants, sliced length wise

Rise roast and pat dry. Bast entire roast with olive oil and cover the ends of the bones with foil.  Poke holes in the meat and insert rosemary and garlic cloves.  Rub with sea salt and pepper generously.  Preheat grill to medium heat.  Place over indirect heat and cook for 1 1/2 to two  hours or until internal temp is about 150 (do not go to the pork setting at 160 because it will continue to cook after you take it off and it will be BONE dry).  My Mom was having a "cow" saying that it was over cooked (she ALWAYS says this and it is ALWAYS great!).  Cover and let sit for 8 to 10 minutes.

While the roast is o the grill, take the remaining olive oil and and place in a low sided baking pan.  Heat oven to 350 with the pan in the oven (until the oil just starts to smoke).  Remove from oven and add the last four items above and coat with the hot oil.  Season with salt and pepper and a couple of dashes of garlic powder then return to the oven until veggies are completely browned (about 30 minutes more or less).

Serve  the pork with the veggies and lots of French bread to mochie the pan juices then head outside with your wine glass and play bocce!

Živjeli, moji prijatelji!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms (Week 43)

Let's start off with "happy talk" - I was at the Vineyard Farmer's Market (now my usual Wednesday stop because I have absolutely NO time during the day nor time on a Saturday thanks to the mountains of work heaped upon me by my professors....wah, wah....I know) and saw these beautiful  full squash blossoms BEGGING for a little love!

Squash blossoms always remind me of my maternal grandmother (my Baba).  She was a bundle of energy, wit and sarcasm rolled into a pint size 4'11' frame.  She read the Wall Street Journal, instigated political arguments between my aunts, drove like a complete bat outta hell (barely seeing over the dash board), and treasured her plastic Jesus (on the dashboard through 2 or 3 accidents, missing an arm and such).  She passed away at age 93 (I think.... because I never dared ask) shortly after leading me in to her closet and telling me I had to keep an eye on "the girls" so that she wore the dress SHE wanted when she was buried....."and don't forget the slip!  I bought that special for this dress!"

She taught me about fresh and local food.  She loved to cook and taught me that veggies were actually good when you covered them with liberal amounts of olive oil and garlic.  She had a garden that made the farmers markets look bare and could turn nearly anything in to a colorful, multicourse meal heaped high with love and laughter.  I miss her.  I miss coffee with her.  Oh lord.....I miss her cooking!!!

Mom's cooking is pretty close (Mom is a stretched out version of my Baba - complete with the stubborn, refuse to get old, drive like a wild woman streak).

.....ah but those fried squash blossoms......

Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms
6 to 8 large squash blossoms (must be FRESH), male blossoms with the ends on

3 oz goat cheese
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz butter
2 good shakes of Tabasco
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 egg, beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt of any sort
1/2 cup chilled water

Oil for frying

Wash, drain and pat dry blossoms.  Mix well the cheeses and the butter along with the Tabasco  cilantro and seasonings.  Mix the next four ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.

Gently open the blossom.  Stuff with a little over a tablespoon the cheese mixture and twist closed.  Refrigerate till ready to fry.  Repeat till blossoms are filled.

Heat oil.  Dip blossoms in batter, dredge in flour and fry till golden   I kept the stems on since it was easier to drain and remove.  I cut the stems before searing.  Yummmmmmmmm!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I got the CURE... Dry Salt Cured Local Black Olives (Week 43)

I just had to take a break - sick of homework and the fall weather looked wonderful.... So I tooled over to my sister's house to forage. Steph has an olive tree that, for all intents and purposes, is suppose to be "ornamental" (looks good for the photos then leaves squished olives all over her drive way!)

There are tons if "ornamental" trees around town so why not do something "useful" with these messy landscape goodies!

Dry Salt Cured Olives

  • Lots of black olives (3 to 4 cups)
  • Clean canning jars (I saved a monster size pickle jar.... Works for me!!)
  • A 48 oz. box of kosher salt

Place olives in a colander and sort through the ugly ones. Toss out any bruised, speckled, dented, cut or unevenly colored olives. Remove any stems. Sterilize your jars (hot dishwasher does great). Put a layer of salt on the bottom of the jar and add olives, layer and repeat until the jar is filled. Turn jar upside down and shake it a bit so the salt gets all over the olives. Put in a cool dry place and let sit for a 2 to 3 weeks. Turn and shake every couple of days and add more salt. After a month return them to the colander and sort out any icky ones then repeat the salt process again and store. Be sure to sample them at this point.  If ready (not bitter) add warm water to cover, 4 tbsps. good red wine vinegar and add a layer of extra virgin olive oil.  I put mine in the fridge and .......perfect olives.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bulldog Bites - Guilty Pleasures 101 (Week 42)

There is something to be said for working on a college campus in this day and age.... Long gone are the cafeteria ladies and the weird over cooked (canned) veggies and plastic trays (I opted for nasty burgers and flat beer at the Bucket-Delta Gamma had cold cuts... Bleh!). My nephew (16 and a student at University High) told me about the Bulldog Bites (the bulldog red roach coach parked on Maple Mall Monday, Wednesday and Friday). He raved about their grill cheese and, being a grilled cheese addict, I had to give it a try!

Not exactly a Dusty Buns "Le Grilled Cheese" (which is about as close to crack as one can get for a foodie) but sinfully yummy none the less. A perfectly delightful quick fix at only $3 (yes.... $3). It's grilled onions, apple and Swiss cheese on what might be sourdough.... Not sure but yes, yes yummy!!

OH MY GOD! Could Fresno be actually developing a Food Truck Culture?  
Be still my beating heart!

Today I gave their sweet potato fries a try (for $1.75... Why not!). They came with a curry sauce but were a bit soggy - probably from the container which "steamed" them in the walk back to my office. I guess this was God's way of telling me to honor my Dalmatian root and "park it" under a tree and enjoy a few quite moments enjoying fall on campus.  The Hubster recently found my errant petanque set which are now in the trunk of my car......time for a little afternoon diversion!!

If you're on campus, swing on by and give them a try. They are parked just south if the Satellite Student Union!! Fresh and local....YES but greasy and good hahahah!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Cro Joe's special - the Croatian version of a Joe's Special (Week 41)

My sister and I had a wonderful family dinner on Friday night complete with my civapcici and her kajmak. It was fabulous and, on Sunday morning, armed with leftovers, I made what I am calling the "Cro Joe Special" for breakfast.

I love a Joe's Special!! the story goes, a customer came in to the Original Joe's (in San Francisco's tenderloin district) and ordered a spinach omelette   It was late so the chef added hamburger and ...a legend was born!  Interesting to note, Ante Rudin, one of the original partners at Joe's, was Croatian.  He came from the island of Prvik Luka at at very young age.....sounds so much like BOTH my grandfathers!!  I'd like to think my funky little dish would make Ante proud!

I am grateful that my hubby gave me a 2 second warning so I could shape a photo. Standard in my house......It was gone quickly!!

The Cro Joe's Special

Place olive oil in skillet. Heat and add potatoes. Sauté then add remaining ingredients. Cook till fully warmed.

Add eggs and let them set. Spoon on to plate  and serve with toast smeared with kajmak.
Oh yeah.....the Kajmak.  Kajmak is said to be Serbian but Stephanie and I fell in love with it in Zagreb so for's Croatian.  It is a wonderful spread that goes very well with meats and other items.  Here is my "quick" kajmak recipe".....I am hoping my sister comments on this so she can add her two cents in to this.  My civapcici are better than hers and her kajmak is better than mine!

1 cup feta
2 cups cream cheese
1 stick of butter, softened

Mix together and blend well.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A perfect goodbye!!

Oh Alisa.....what a fabulous swan song!  We will miss you but will follow your tweets :-)

Roasted Baby Pumpkins (Week 40)

This months its all about pumpkins.....I love fall and pumpkins are just delightful so stay tuned.  I have a few goodies to share over the next few weeks.

Thanks to the Fresno Bee, I am reminded to make these wonderful little treats.  Originally, my pal Donna brought these as a first course to one of my pot luck dinner parties and I completely fell in love!  I later made them for thanksgiving dinner and they wee a huge hit.  I can not take 100% of the credit as this recipe came from the Vintage Press in Visalia. 

Roasted whole baby pumpkin with lemon butter sauce
6 baby pumpkins
8 ounces, smoked chicken
4 ounces, Jarlsberg cheese
2 tablespoons, hot chile sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon, butter
6 ounces, heavy cream
1 tablespoon, chopped chives
Freshly ground salt and pepper
Carefully cut the top off each small pumpkin. Retain. Discard the seeds and season the pumpkin with salt and pepper. Sauté butter and soften onion over medium heat. 
In a bowl, combine chicken, cheese, cooked onion and chives. Season with salt, pepper and chile sauce.  Stuff pumpkins with chicken mixture and add one ounce of heavy cream per pumpkin.
Place the top on each pumpkin, cover with foil and roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with one ounce of sauce.

1 cup white wine
1 ounce champagne vinegar
2 ounces heavy cream
6 ounces unsalted butter
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon chives
Freshly ground salt and pepper
Red and pink peppercorns
Simmer shallots, wine and vinegar into sauce pan, reducing by half.
Add heavy cream and reduce, adding butter as needed.
Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Garnish with chives and peppercorns just before serving.
-- Vintage Press Restaurant, Visalia

Read more here:

Read more here:

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Magical Mystery Tour (Week 40)

Good LORD!  Week 40 already?  Hard to believe that I have rounded the corner and I am heading to the finish line.  This has been an amazing fun journey and my very first (successful, sort of) blog.  It's a hoot but I have to say that with the horizon holding far to many case studies and literature reviews, I may be cutting back (or blogging my husband's cooking!)

Today I am trying something completely new.......I am giving you a photo (taken by one of my followers of a dish that she/he prepared.  Take a look.....

OK.....the magical mystery tour begins:

1.  What is it (its name)?
2.  Which course (or how is it used)?
3.  Ingredients?
4.  Preparation?

Please enter your answers in the comment section and win a "local" prize.  I am judging on creativity and over all enticing yumminess (is that even a word???)