Red Beans and Rice Weekend….
March 2, 2009

Red Beans and Rice....

Red Beans and Rice....

There is something about an impending snow storm that makes one want to cook something that is soulful, hearty, hot, and stick to the ribs….know what I mean? Almost some primal survival sense that kicks in and drives you to the kitchen to cook something dense and filling. Chicken and dumplings would certainly fill the bill, as would the other famous bean dish I did recently….cassoulet.  But yesterday…yesterday just seemed like a red beans and rice day. So we called some friends and neighbors, and said come on over for some NOLA  cooking….

The ultimate red bean-Camellia...

The ultimate red bean-Camellia...

Most recipes call for soaking the red beans(preferably Camellia red beans which come from Louisiana-I know some people who won’t make red beans unless they are Camellia-I am less picky)overnight, but you really don’t have to. Just plop your beans in the pot(two packages if you’re cooking for a crowd), put in enough water(some people use chicken broth but you don’t have to) to cover, bring to the boil, cover the pot and take off the heat and let them sit for 2 hours. There’s your overnight soak.

Then pick you recipe and begin….the basics you really need are onions, green peppers, ham hock, sausage(andouille or kielbasa), green onions for serving…and rice of course. The only thing you can’t do without is time. It takes a several hours for the beans to begin to thicken and release their starches and become what they are supposed to become. And the end dish is definitely worth the effort. All you need to go with it is a simple green salad, and some French Bread. Done. Friends brought some homemade peanut butter cookies, homemade pralines(how appropriate is that?), and a lovely fruit salad…..and we feasted.

I’m not gonna write out a recipe…..we just kinda make it up as we go along, but at, you can take a look at several different recipes and then pick one, or do a combo. It’s what’s so great about RB & R…a forgiving dish if there ever was one. Love it! And best of all? We have a big dish of leftovers to heat up this week….and it was easy on the budget.


A Mac & Cheese Osculator Party??
February 20, 2009

Earlier this week, I received the lovely Jennifer’s Excel Rainman newsletter ( which kept her up until the wee hours putting together)…and it has a great idea for your Academy Awards party, if you’re having one, or just a way to play a pool….either way, fun. Plus she sent me a great recipe for mac and cheese you could serve(which I made last night….fabulous)….a recession Oscar party!! It’s down below. Don’t say I never gave you anything .  

Dear Donna,


Whether you have seen all of the movies nominated for Best Picture or not… it is more fun to get involved when there are stakes!
Help jump start your OSCAR party with The ExcelRainMan OSCulator (Get it? OSCAR + Calculator… OSCulator!).  This tricked out spreadsheet will allow you to host your very own OSCAR Pool… well virtually at least. Send out The ExcelRainMan OSCulator Ballots to your competitive crew and then use the OSCulator to keep track of their selections.  Let our OSCulator do the work of tallying up the results on OSCAR night so you can get back to enjoying the crudite and long-winded accptance speeches!   
The ExcelRainMan OSCulator can be downloaded for FREE from the Tips & Tricks section at  Instructions are also provided to help you dominate this terrific tool!
Check out the latest free tips, tricks and goodies from the ExcelRainMan team and improve your spreadsheeting skillz today!!  All goodies (templates) are free for the 1st month after release, after which they will be available for the modest price of $5.00 each.

 Ok, here’s the recipe for Mike Malin’s mac and Cheese….(as given to me)

3 normal size bags shredded sharp cheddar, 1 bag shredded mozzarella, 1 big container cottage cheese, 1 regular size sour cream, 1 box macaroni, 1 egg(optional)

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees. Cook Macaroni as per instructions and drain. Mix 2 bags of the cheddar, the mozzarella, cottage cheese, sour cream (low cal this dish!), and raw egg, if you use it, then mix macaroni with cheese mix.. put in cassarole and sprinkle the other cheddar over the top (as much as you can)….bake in oven with NO cover for 25-30 minutes. You want the top to be browning….so it has a little crispy top. You know what I mean.

Mike says you really can’t go wrong with this one. Jennifer seconds that thought…I third it!! I thought about suggesting you add some lobster if you’re feeling really flush, but our chief photog just passed by and said, “Hey…that’s just ruining a good lobster, or a good mac and cheese. That’s taking comfort food and making it Phooffy food…” While there is no definition for phooffy food, I catch his drift. Dump the lobster idea. Stick with the mac and cheese.