the hyphens that define my life

October Dinners October 1, 2013

Last month I received a lot of flack from my dear friends for not posting recipes along with my monthly dinner menu post.  Posting recipes is tricky because I’m certain to infringe on copyright laws if I post recipes from cookbooks that aren’t readily available online.  For example, Biba Caggiano only publishes select recipes online but not all of her recipes.

Rather than fry my brain trying to figure out what or what not I’m allowed to post, I gathered recipes from my magazine subscriptions – Real Simple, Martha Stewart, Sunset, Bon Appetit and Better Homes & Gardens – that are posted online and inserted the recipe links on their website on our October menu.  I haven’t made any of these recipes.  I may tweak them as I go.  If the day does not have a link, the specific recipe is either not available online or the plat du jour is too simple to require a recipe, so either find an online recipe or use your own recipe.

Despite my efforts in planning our dinner menus since we moved to Spokane, I have not stayed on track.  I’m getting better and hope October proves to be a month of homecooked meals – except for the two nights when we know we’ll be dining out for fundraising and to get our pizza fix.

Magazines alone only provide recipes for five meals a week, I still haven’t figured out why.  My super fabulous menu provides for seven dinners a week, with the most difficult recipes on weekends and easier, time saving recipes during the week.  My formula is simple – one soup, one meatless, one fish, a pasta, two poultry, and one pork or beef.  In addition to what’s listed on the menu, I always serve a vegetable and/or a salad.  I try (TRY) to serve something each person likes and have emergency protein rations on hand in case someone goes sideways.

I hope your time spent with your family enjoying these delicious dinners is time well spent. Fall is in the crisp cool air and this month of dinners reflect our need for warm and hearty meals. Happy October!

October 2013

After opening the October 2013 link, Copy and paste the recipe link into your browser, otherwise you may end up on some weird sites.  Good luck!



What’s Cooking? August 31, 2013

Today, on August 31, I received my October issue of Family Circle magazine.

I love magazines, as I have mentioned many times.  I subscribe to Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Whole Living, Sunset (Northwest edition!), Fast Company, Dwell, Bon Appetit, Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Real Simple Family, Eating Well, Fitness, and Bon Appetit.  I read every one, cover to cover. I also dissect the magazines as I go along, tearing out articles, webpages referenced, house and garden project ideas, clothing ideas, recipes and anything else that strikes my mood.  I then file the tear outs into folders for future reference. My system is justified (monthly to my husband) as I get rid of what I don’t want, so I don’t store magazines in their entirety and my system is efficient because I regularly review my files to either use or purge the information.

My magazine process works but is completely ridiculous.  For one, at work, I am completely virtual, operating without paper day in and day out. Second, I despise filing, even more so than ironing. Yet, for whatever reason, my magazine system, filing included, brings me joy.

Have you ever noticed, while reading a magazine, that, in the food section, only weeknight menus are provided?   Real Simple, Eating Well, Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle all provide 5 meals to get you through the week.  Family Circle also provides a month of weeknight dinners in the October issue. 

I don’t know about you, but I cook seven days a week (or at least strive to).  We have to eat seven days a week. Why then, do magazines only provide 5 days worth of menus for a week?  Maybe the thought is that you have more time on the weekend than you do during the week to plan your dinner menu.  I don’t know about you, but my weekends are equally as busy as my weekdays.  Or perhaps magazine people dine out on the weekends or mooch meals off of family and friends.  I can’t speak for magazine people, I don’t know their rationale.

My rationale is to plan dinner for every night of the week, all 28, 30 or 31.  If I am able to dine out or mooch meals off family or friends, you know I’m there, but I have a back up plan.

Here is our September menu for every night of the 30 days hath September.  Every week, we have a meatless meal, one or two nights of fish/seafood, and a pasta.  We only have beef 1-2 a month with chicken and pork as our standing meat meals.  I use recipes from family favorites, current magazines, cookbooks and from my file collections.  As I prepare the calendar I collect the recipes and clip it all together for easy reference.  A method to my madness, or just madness? Enjoy.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday


Spinach Mushroom Quiche w/ Salad



BBQ Chicken

Potato Salad

Corn on Cob

Goodbye Summer


Shredded Beef Tacos

Rice & Beans



Ratatouille & Pasta



Turkey Meatloaf

Baked Potatoes

Green Beans



Coho Salmon w/ herbed quinoa


Soccer Tournament

Dinner Out


Scallops & Summer Squash



Loaded Baked Potato Soup & Salad



Pork Milanese with Sweet Potatoes



Eggplant Parmesan



Braised Chicken with Fennel & Brown Rice



Cod with tomatoes, polenta and sautéed spinach



Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage




Chicken & Dumplings



Broccoli Soup & Salad



Chicken Marsala w/bowtie pasta


Bean & Cheese Burritos


Hash& Eggs



Salmon Cakes with Lemon & Dill



My Birthday Dinner Out!



Chicken Pot Pie



Minestrone & Garlic Bread



Chicken Enchiladas


DIY Pizza


Chicken Piccata & Broccoli


Shrimp Risotto



Bratwurst & Sauerkraut





Chili & Cornbread



Andre’s 8th Birthday Dinner Out!




Cookbook Inspiration August 29, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — multihyphenatedme @ 10:13 pm
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Unconsciously, I collect cookbooks. 

I have a cookbook library of 73 cookbooks. My obsession makes me laugh.  I say it is my unconscious collection because I don’t consciously think to add new cookbooks.  I am drawn to them, inspired by the promise of their creations. 

Seventeen of these cookbooks are vegetarian.  Twenty-two are dessert related.  Near equally, I am healthy and a junkie with a sweet tooth. Let’s call it balance.

With our recent move, I purged 16 or 17 cookbooks that weren’t worth moving.  I can’t even remember what was left behind.  To my joy, the prior owner left a stash of 12 cookbooks that includes a 1951 copy of Favorite Torte and Cake Recipes that I look forward to testing in the near future.

Many of the cookbooks in my collection I receive as gifts, pilfered from my mother’s stash, inherited from my Grandmother or just picked up along the way. No matter the source, I use all of my cookbooks.  I read them, cover to cover, sample recipes as time passes, and make notes in the margins – dated, in ink, with my comments and family reaction.

There are six cookbooks, set aside from the rest, that are my go-to favorites. 

  • The Martha Stewart Cookbook is by far my most loved.  Her recipes are labor intensive but worth the effort as every recipe attempted is fantastic.
  • Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and Barefoot Contessa Family Style recipes are loved by my family.  
  • Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is a fast reference for instant success.
  • Better Homes & Gardens New CookBook (the one with the red plaid cover) is filled with classic recipes you can’t live without.
  • Biba’s Italy by Biba Caggiano was a gift from my mother-in-law and has provided so many incredible meals and desserts.  My boys request these recipes which speaks to their advanced palettes and appreciation for great food.

Growing up, a few weeks every summer on my grandparents eighty acres in the middle of the Muskegon National Forest in Michigan, I spent nights playing cards (Screw Your Neighbor – it was the 70’s – this game is very much like Uno today) with my older sister and grandparents, and reading my Grandma’s recipe booklets that she hoarded upstairs next to our bed. This was my first introduction to written recipes.  My Grandma made her own pasta noodles to serve with venison and noodles.  She made paraffin topped jam from anything she could cook down.  She shopped at farmer’s markets, my Grandpa hunted, and what she didn’t can, she froze.  She was adventurous to cook turtle soup from a snapping turtle my grandfather caught earlier that day and she used to fry french fries in raccoon fat. Sound gnarly for you city folk? When you’re young and hungry you didn’t think about it, you just ate it. Fries in coon fat is delicious and we always begged for more.  We spent these summers foraging for mushrooms, wild blueberries and sassafras roots or fishing in the lakes for bass and blue gill then having a big fish fry complete with hush puppies. We baked bread, made pies and, one time, made so much caramel corn that I gorged myself sick.  Good times, great memories.  It was from these summers that I fell in love with reading recipes.  Granted, my choices were Harlequin romance novels or recipe booklets, which at age 8 or 9, was an easy choice I’m thankful I made today.

The cookbooks and recipes inspire and my family gives me purpose to create delicious food.

Nostalgia waves through me as I canned seven quarts and sixteen pints of peaches and one pint, seven half pints and two quarter pints of peach butter and put a gallon of blueberries and thirteen pounds of blackberries in the freezer from our first Spokane summer.