Jeanette - Off The Cuff

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Blogger at: and -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chicken Pumpkin Paprikash

"Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash." -- Harry Burns

Well, if you're a fan of late-eighties chick flicks starring [pre-collagen] Meg Ryan, wearing ill-fitting, floppy sweaters, chunky shoes and otherwise being her adorable self, then you've probably seen the classic "When Harry  Met Sally," and you might remember that scene at the museum where they are talking all funny about Paprikash.

I had not had much insight into this dish in the past.  So sometime last year, I decided to look it up, and was not disappointed.  It's one of the most yummy and reasonably healthy comfort-foods, especially delicious on a cold, foggy autumn evening such as tonight.  Not only that, but it's quick.  I can whip up a skillet full in about 25 minutes, which hits the spot every time. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Congratulations to....

The winner of our July contest for my birthday month is Christiana at YarnDarlin who wins the OXO Cheese Plane! Thanks for participating, and be sure to stay tuned for future contests, new recipes, organizing tips, and cleaning tips in the coming weeks and months.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Birthday Month Giveaway!

July is my birth-month, and I started this blog three years ago (technically in June on another server, but then I transferred it to Blogger in July of 2010).  So in honor of those two events, I'm going to give away one of my favorite ever kitchen gadgets, which is the remarkable "cheese-plane."  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Stir Fried pork with eggplant, peppers and shiitake and noodles

I made this twice in a month, because it was quite good. So I figured I'd share it with my faithful 15 readers, because that's what I do-- I'm so nice, right?  And there is a decidedly Asian slant to so many of my recipes when I go through them, but what can I say? Living on the West Coast has a pretty predominant Asian-cuisine influence on a person.  I assure you, though, I also had Swedish meatballs with red potatoes and lingon-berries, just a few days later.  It was just like a trip to the cafeteria at IKEA, only homemade.

So since I didn't blog this immediately, and only took photos the second time, I had to scribble down notes from memory, and it turned out roughly the same both times.  I guess that's the thing about most recipes-- they don't always turn out identical, but you're going for a basic effect and that's usually good enough.  It's "Off The Cuff Cooking" after all.


Main ingredients:

1/2 package of Stir Fry style Rice Noodles -- soak in hot water according to package directions
1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms -- soak in the same water as the rice noodles, at the same time
3/4 - 1 pound thinly sliced pork (I had 4 pork cutlets that I cut into strips)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, (red or white) thinly sliced
2 small eggplant (or one medium sized one) unpeeled, and cut into 1/4" thick "half moons"

Marinade for meat:

2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 whole lime (half of it for the marinade and half of it cut into wedges for garnish)
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha Sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove minced garlic


First, cut up the eggplant about half an hour ahead of time, and soak it in a bowl of salty water. 

Secondly, whisk together the marinade in a small bowl.

Cut the pork into strips.  Let the meat marinade at room temperature in the sauce while you prepare other ingredients.  Reserve a small amount of marinade to drizzle over the finished dish. 

Then, start soaking your rice noodles and shiitake in a pot, according to package directions.  Some instructions vary, so definitely follow those, and take the timing into account.

Prepare your other vegetables, and when the eggplant has soaked in salt water for a while, preheat a wok or skillet at medium heat, and put in 1 tbsp each of the coconut and sesame oil, and reserve the rest for frying the meat.   

Place the eggplant half-moons evenly in your skillet and fry them on each side until they're tender, and somewhat browned.  Don't crowd them, and set the finished ones aside in a bowl or on a plate, to add to the finished stir fry later on.  Cook the eggplant in batches until all done.

Use the same skillet and turn up the heat to medium high now, and add the rest of the oil.  Stir fry the meat in small batches until browned and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.  Set aside the cooked meat in the same bowl as the eggplant. 

Now stir fry the onion, and bell pepper in the skillet few minutes until they're tender and browned.  Add in the rice noodles, and shiitake, along with a few table spoons of water to deglaze the skillet.  This adds a nice savory flavor to the noodles. 

 Add in all the meat, and eggplant, and pour over any marinade that's still left over, and stir rapidly to prevent sticking.  When everything is reheated through, remove the skillet from the burner, and serve up a piping hot and tasty noodle dish.

Add more lime juice and sriracha if desired.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


This is all I'm gonna say-- do not store whole tomatoes in the fridge, never-ever-ever-ever.  If you've pre-diced some for your chili or salsa, or pasta, okay, fine, because they're cut up and you need to keep them from spoiling. But the whole ones? Room temperature.  Always. 

They will be so much more sweet, pleasantly textured, and not mealy, gritty and cold. It's an actual fact that cold temperatures make the cells in tomatoes burst, which is why they change texture.  I'm pretty sure most people who think they don't like tomatoes are basing that belief on having eaten mealy, pale, and unpleasantly bland tomatoes from a fridge.  Think about the peachy-pale colored ones sliced on top of the average hamburger, and you'll know what I'm talking about.  So remember: Tomatoes stay at room temperature. 

Otherwise, stay tuned for a yummy couple of recipes when time allows-- on deck, I have a potential recipe for eggplant-pork stir fry, brie-stuffed chicken breasts with cranberries and fresh herbs, as well as a segment on kitchen organization that I have been wanting to do for a while. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Oven-Baked Salmon

Have I mentioned how much I love salmon? I love salmon.  This time of the year, if you happen to also live in the Pacific Northwest, you can get Chinook, or Copper River Salmon-- the latter is especially amazing, and almost a deep burnt orange color.  I love preparing salmon in several ways, and this is a quick, and easy prep method for a whole fillet of salmon.  If you're a novice to preparing whole fillets, try it this way, and then experiment with some of the ingredients.

Swedish Quick-Pickled Cucumbers

This is a quintessential "taste of summer" for me, that always reminds me of growing up in Sweden, and smörgåsbord.  It is not a true pickled cucumber, and will only keep for about a week in the refrigerator, but it only takes five or ten minutes to whip up a batch.  It's great with seafood or fish such as my oven-baked salmon), grilled chicken, or my Swedish style potato salad, for example.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Household tip: Non-Skid rubber liner and its uses

About a year ago, I found a bunch of remnant pieces of rubber shelf liner that my husband had used in his tool chest drawers in the garage.  This is the stuff I'm talking about here:

(Click the image link to access it on

I have found multiple fun uses for it in the house.  For starters, I have cut some circles to size to put underneath my utensil-jars to keep them from sliding around on our counters.

I also keep a couple of 6" diameter circles in a drawer to help me open stuck jar lids.  It helps you grip the lid and get better traction.  I sometimes even use one for my left hand to grip the glass jar, and one on the lid to give me a little extra oomph. 

I cut a couple of these things to put inside drawers under those plastic flatware organizers so they don't slide back and forth either.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

GF Pizza with Pumpkin-herb sauce, chicken, and caramelized onions

I can't make my own crust anymore.  Waaah.  Okay, at least not for another 6-8 weeks of this trial gluten-free diet that my doctor put me on.  So I decided to try a gluten-free pizza crust mix.  This particular mix is manufactured by Gluten Free Mama, (coincidentally in my old highschool-era hometown of Polson, Montana-- GOOOO PIRATES!!) and while I followed the directions closely, I'm not sure I hit the sweet spot exactly.  Maybe I let the dough sit for too long or not long enough or maybe my kitchen was too cool.  I did not get quite the pizza-crust texture I had hoped for, with springy, stretchy, and bready air pockets.  But it tasted quite good otherwise, so the flavor was very similar to a pizza dough-- and I'll experiment a little with it next time.  Or maybe it's just impossible to get that kind of puffy artisan yeasty-airiness in gluten-free flour mixes.  I'm still learning here.  Either way, my husband even thought it was good -- or at least a good stand-in for regular pizza dough.  I might experiment with rolling some garlic, and herbs into the dough next time, too.

I also was so busy trying to follow directions that there are no step-by-step photos of this process, but I did take a picture of the finished pizza.  Errrhm... I mean, a picture of the half-eaten finished pizza.

There are really only four components on the pizza-- the pumpkin-sauce, sauteed onions, and skillet-fried chicken, cut into chunks and grated mozzarella.  I tried to caramelize the onions but got impatient and forgot to babysit them so they ended up a little bit brown in some parts, and just had the consistency of regular-sauteed onion in general, so rest assured: I will admit my own mistakes when I make them!

For the sake of brevity, then, I'll just tell you what went into the sauce and you can fill in the gaps. I know you can do it.  You're smart readers.

Apple-Butternut Squash soup with lemon zest

TWO recipes in less than THREE days.  That's just craziness.  Can you guys take it? And this one is also gluten-free, since it's pretty much just made with vegetables and a little bit of dairy.

It's been kind of foggy and cold here the last few days so a soup sounded good.

I have made another acorn squash soup in the past, and also a roasted eggplant soup which borrows some of the same principles of oven-roasting the main vegetables first before making the soup.  If you read the acorn squash soup recipe, you'll see that I stole the whole-squash roasting technique from The Pioneer Woman, Rhee Drummond, who instructed her readers that a squash or gourd does not need to be cut up or peeled prior to roasting and that it in fact is much easier to do it after the fact.  Not only that, but the result is caramelized and savory and sweet, and far more pleasantly textured than a steamy, water-logged squash might be.  Now where *she* got that method from, I have no idea, but at least it saves me from any future trips to the emergency room because I can't think of very many kitchen-related tasks that are more dangerous than trying to cut open a squash or water melon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gluten Free Kale and Pepper lasagna

Happy New Year.  I don't make resolutions in general, but I hope to get my recipes rolling again.  So it's more of a hope, and not a resolution!  I'm happy to say I have recently hit 12,000 page visits since I started this blog and they just keep a-rollin' in, despite my failure to generate new content on a regular basis.