A Casual Lunch

It was a lovely day at the Diner yesterday. With an unexpected, but very welcome guest - TT stopped by. Yes, that is really her name, that’s what her niece and nephew call her and it has stuck.

Anyway, she got the simple lunch special, a ham & cheese sandwich. The Diner was slow so I took some time and we found a table outside to sit and chat and eat.

Yesterday wasn’t about the food; it was about the company, it was about taking the time to slow down and chat, it was about enjoying a beautiful spring day. Thanks TT for stopping by the Diner, hope to see you again soon.

Next time you stop by the Diner, ask for an outside table, you can’t go wrong!


Baked Spaghetti

Why bake spaghetti, you might ask? Well, I wondered that too when I first found the recipe. But it’s good stuff, and gives me an excuse to have some more cheese!

Last night at Holly’s Diner we had an item for only the second time – Baked Spaghetti. HH really likes it, so it’s going to stay on the menu.

Now, why go through another process with something as simple as spaghetti is in the first place. A few reasons - you can make the spaghetti, stick it in the oven with some cheese and serve it as needed as guests arrive; the other reason is that it somewhat masks the obnoxiously boring spaghetti noodles that HH likes so much, and makes them more palatable for me for some reason.

Don’t get me wrong, I like pasta with red sauce. How is pasta with red sauce different from spaghetti? Use any other pasta noodle besides regular spaghetti and whatever you’re “normal” red sauce (or spaghetti sauce) might be, and violá! I just think spaghetti is one of the most boring types of pasta there is, with all the varieties out there, why just have spaghetti?! Even angel hair (thin spaghetti) is better than the regular stuff.

Anyway, here’s how to make it.

Baked Spaghetti (Holly’s Diner Style)
Make spaghetti like you normally do, how ever that is – lots of meat, strictly veggies, last night left over taco meat, ground turkey, whatever.
Put it into a “Pam”-ed casserole dish.
Sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese over the top and lightly fold in.
Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese over the top – as little or as much as you want, I like a lot.
Bake at 350º for 30 – 40 minute.
Remove from oven, cool for five minutes and serve.



Phillips Party of Ten

It was family night at the Diner on Sunday. A lot of the Phillips’ stopped by, and there was actually a booth big enough to accommodate all of them at one table! Wow!

The special on Sunday night was Prime Rib Roast; I sure don’t serve that very often since I seem to have a problem with the whole “hunk of meat” cookin’. Anyway, the roast turned out great, but the fun part was fixing all the side dishes. My cousin stopped by earlier in the day to help out. I don’t think I have ever told you her name, its Shannon Sue, SS for short. We fixed Martha Stewart’s famous homemade Macaroni and Cheese, mashed sweet potatoes (tons of good vitamins in those – and liberal brown sugar and butter never hurt!), fresh green beans and craisins sautéed in bacon grease with a little sea salt (hard to believe I have started cooking green beans that way!), and Jane’s Broccoli Salad.

My friend Laurie gave me her mother’s Broccoli Salad recipe over ten years ago. Jane’s from the South, so you know the salad is good. Besides, what won’t be good that has bacon and mayonnaise in it?! Oh yeah, and good for you with all the broccoli, raisins, walnuts and red onions. It’s a lot like other broccoli salad’s but in case you are looking for a recipe, and authentically Southern at that, it’s listed below.

When dinner was over, the Diner’s newest waitress arrived on the scene, in roller skates no less! Miss Audrey Rose! It looks like she’ll make an appearance occasionally at the Diner, other than to sell Girl Scout Cookies. She was so cute in her skates, apron and “car hop hat,” (even though we are all indoors at this point). Miss Audrey Rose took dessert orders and charmed the socks off everyone!

Jane’s Broccoli Salad

1 bunch broccoli, chopped as you like
½ cup raisins (I do two hand full’s)
½ cup walnuts (I did 1 ½ cups this time, delish!)
½ cup purple onion, chopped
½ lb. bacon, cooked, drained, crumbled (it’s better with the whole pound!)

Dressing – mix together:
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Cut broccoli into small pieces. Mix with dressing. Refrigerate for several hours (2 – 3, but one will do). Before serving, toss with raisins, walnuts, onion, and bacon.

Note: This salad does best on the day you mix it, leftovers may be slightly soggy. (Leftovers the next day are usually okay.)



Imperial Valley Fair

The Diner is still on the road for another day or so, hence a few more flavors from the road. We continue at the Imperial Valley Fair.

This past week there were a few competitions that my friends on staff got involved in, the first was the Salsa Contest. We all went out and supported Scott and his “Mama’s Smokin’ Sauce - Hot Sweet Smooth & Succulent.” He had a great time and won second place! Not bad in a town where every one is a salsa connoisseur. Scott makes it for friends and special occasions, packages it in a Crown Royal bottle –see the label, IT IS smokin’! (Mama is more diner-friendly as a small image than a big one, so forgive me if you can't see her as well as you would like!)

The ingredients on the label are listed as follows: “Donteventhinkaboutit, Youwishyouknew, Onlymamaknowswhat, Superdoubletopsecret & a wholebunchofgoodlovin’”

Scott actually has some traditional ingredients like tomatoes, crushed red pepper and garlic in the sauce. He also has some non-traditional ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, clover honey, molasses, anchovies and if you want to convert it from sauce to salsa just add the secret ingredient – green cabbage finely chopped. The sauce is hot but not burning, sweet yet tangy. It’s delicious.

Then yesterday was the One Day Salad Contest and our friend Jake entered his special salad. Now keep in mind that Jake is a youngin’ so the salad is hip, original, and not the most nutritious I’ve ever sampled, but good.

Here’s the recipe:

Jayk’s Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Salad (The Girls in the office spell his way, silly Girls!)
1 head of iceberg lettuce, broken into chunks
1 - 8 oz. bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
3 cucumbers, sliced
Juice of 4 lemons
2 cups of Chamoy (this is a Mexican candy/ketchup product this is uses as the dressing base)
Pico de Gallo, to taste
Salt, to taste

Throw all of it into a bowl and mix.

Jake didn’t win yesterday; he said the judges were too old to appreciate his youthful invention. They thought it was beautifully displayed and great flavor, but too hot for their taste. I tried some; the Cheetos were getting soft by the time I got to the salad, so if you try it serve it fast! The Cheetos helped flavor the dressing and the salad tasted pretty good. It was a little lacking in overall “redeeming nutritional value,” but would be fun as part of a hors d’oeuvres party. You go Jake!


Colossal Gelato

Something light and sweet for today…
The Diner is on the road today, and I’ve been sampling the incredible gelato from Colossal Gelato at the Imperial Valley Fair. The Madagascar Vanilla Bean is creamy and delicious. The cappuccino offers a bit of a caffeine boost. And the new 50/50 Orange Creamsicle is like a refreshingly sweet summer day on a 90 degree not-quite-Spring day in the desert. Just a sample from the road.