Say it with me “PRESEASON!”

It’s OK to cheat a bit… if it’s preseason! Thankfully, we don’t totally consider this a cheat because shopping for our families and cooking from scratch every night can be difficult- money is tight, taste is crucial and watching the game with good food is a must! With this in mind, we want to have meals for you that aren’t just for game day, but are for those hectic weekdays, too.

We picked up some delicious, packaged marinated pork from Aldi in Mesquite BBQ to represent Texas, and it was a huge success!



Always follow the cooking instructions on your package, and we advise using a good thermometer!


Because “pre” foods are done for us, there is often a high sodium level in them. Keeping that in mind, we paired our Texas flavored meat with some simple veggies:


IMAG5170We have done a lot of “prep” and simmer and boil then bake… recipes. I hope that this meal gives you some quick, good ideas- even with one thing being partially done for you, with a few good veggies and you’ve got a meal you can be proud to serve your family. Staying healthy, happy and productive are all integral to the football (and school) season!

All-in-all, the last Eagles and Cowboys preseason games were a disappointment… But, in the words of Dez Bryant, “To be honest, it don’t matter who we play, it’s exciting just because it’s the beginning of the season. Football is back. Preseason is not the season. That football is totally different from the actual game. Everything counts. You’ve got the starters playing. We’re looking to battle all four quarters both teams.”

With that? GAME ON!!!!




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Jaguars, Bengals and Pig Skin- Oh my!

Whew! So we finally sat down and watched some football! Can I get a HECK YEA!?!

It was great to see both the Cowboys and Eagles win… but still- we are SO over preseason!

As we posted HERE, time constraints are backing us up against the wall- as games are being aired and replayed, etc. so we are also fumbling, bumbling and blitzing in the kitchen to get it all done. For the week we bypassed a recipe for the Cowboys-Bengals game, but wanted to let you all know that Cincinnati is known for it’s chili, most often served with pasta. A recipe that sounds delicious is HERE! Try it out for yourselves! Next week we will be doing a recipe for the Cowboys opposing team, the Texans (TX vs TX!) but not for the Jets, who play the Eagles in the last preseason game.

What we did make is some Homestyle Mac and Cheese to represent the Eagles’ southern competitors this week, the Jacksonville Jaguars. With a 31-24 win, it wasn’t quite the blowout we were expecting, but the mac and cheese was a home run (touchdown?) with the whole family!

Homestyle Mac and Cheese

Prep: 40 min (not all active)
Cook: 40 min
Servings: 8

You will need
3 c grated fontina
5 c grated cheddar
2 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Grana Padano)
4 c milk
1 4-inch piece of day old Italian bread, grated into 1 1/2 c crumbs
4 fresh sage leaves
1# pipette
2 T butter, divided

Preheat your oven to 400°F.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for pasta.

In a mixing bowl (we prefer glass) combine fontina and cheddar cheeses then pour the milk over the mix and let sit for ~45 minutes (until the cheese dissolves into the milk).

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and toss until crisp and toasted (3 minutes).
Place crumbs into a bowl and let cool.

Completely butter a baking dish- covering the bottom and sides. Add a thin coating of bread crumbs on the bottom and sides (don’t use them all), then stir 1 cup of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano into remaining crumbs.

Pour the cheese-milk mix into a pot and add sage leaves.
Whisk over medium-low heat until cheese completely melts (7 to 8 minutes).
Stir in remaining 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Add pipette to boiling water and cook until very al dente (7 minutes) and drain. Return the pasta to pot and add cheese sauce and stir until all of the pasta is coated with the sauce.
Pour pasta and sauce mix into prepared baking dish and sprinkle remaining bread crumbs over top.
Bake until browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.



Enjoy with some spicy mustard for an added kick… or if you’re in love with all things condiments like, The Daughter-in-Law…

Happy footballing!






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…Let’s just all say it: IT’S THE WORST!

There are memes and jokes and games that aren’t aired for days, and bars aren’t showing preseason games, so you have to just wait for updates if your team isn’t local (i.e. in Philadelphia or Dallas while you’re in Rhode Island!).

It’s hard to be a football fan during preseason.

But… the leaves are slowly changing. The crickets are turning in early and the dew is still cold on the morning grass. FALL IS COMING!!!!


The Papa and the Daughter are in the midst of trying to get some cook time in for Cincinnati Chili (oh Bengals… sorry about your loss!) and some Homemade Mac and Cheese to represent the south’s own Jacksonville Jaguars (that was a close one, Birds- way to pull it out!).

‘Til we get these awesome recipes up (with even better pictures), thank you for sticking with us as we get into the flow of  Carpenter in the Kitchen Season, and out of this preseason vibe!


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East Greenwich Art Festival

Though we love our football and our food, we love our community, too. Oddly, you might not know that this Cowboys Papa and Eagles lovin’ Daughter-in-Law hail from Rhode Island (Texas family) and Philadelphia, PA- respectively… but here we are in ‘Lil Rhody and our families are gearing up to spend an amazing weekend at Festival Fete’s East Greenwich Art Festival on August 31 and September 1.


from Festival Fete’s webpage

From the site, which you can find HERE:

Festival Fete creates a one-of-a-kind community art festival featuring 100+ contemporary American craft artisans, local “festive food,” strolling entertainment, live music, free children’s crafts, and a specially-designed community art project. Our mission is to offer a platform for local artists — of various mediums and levels — to show their work. In collaboration with community talent, volunteers and sponsors, we create profitable platforms that celebrate locally grown art, food and merriment.

The festival is from 10-5pm at New England Tech in East Greenwich RI.  Featuring over 140 Contemporary American Artisans, Festive Food, Live Music and Strolling Entertainment to (YES, Big Nazo will be there), this weekend is surely not an event to miss! Come out to the East Greenwich Art Festival to bid a lasting farewell to Summer!  Best part for all the families out there? It’s FREE!


from Festival Fete’s webpage

Though Chelley (daugher-in-law) will be in Pennsylvania for a wedding, Carpenter in the Kitchen will be looking for submissions for you favorite foods and vendors to be featured in this Community section of the blog! Will you be heading to East Greenwich? Don’t forget to tell us about your plans in the comments, and don’t forget to follow Festival Fete’s Twitter updates HERE!




All pictures and recipes are the property of Carpenter in the Kitchen© unless otherwise noted. When reproducing recipes, please share with a link and give written credit, or use your own words. No pictures can be reused without prior permission.



Filed under Community

You win some, you lose some…

Still in preseason mode, but getting closer to the decisions that need to be made.

Who will start, who will sit, and who wasted team funds as duds this year?

On the 15th, the Eagles showed up to play with a good showing from both Vick and Foles, but coach Kelly isn’t calling it (officially) yet. With a 14-9 win over the Panthers, we took to calabash-style cooking, and made some shrimp that are sure to please those off the field, even if on-the-field is disappointing.

On the 17th, however, the Cowboys lost their third preseason game to the Arizona Cardinals, 7-12. For this occasion, we went with local Phoenix favorite, chimichangas. They were a hit with us, too. We hope you enjoy the meal as much as we did… which we cooked Sunday as a family and enjoyed while watching prerecorded games (thanks DVR!).

Fried Shrimp Calabash-Style (a new Martinka recipe)

Before we begin, let’s explain calabash-style cooking: This style of cooking seafood, mostly flounder and shrimp, began in Calabash, NC- which is a small fishing town. Beck’s is one of the original restaurants to open with this style of cooking and serving, which started as a town tradition of people showing up at the docks to see what was caught and having a big meal right there. As the idea blossomed, the communal celebrations were eventually moved indoors and started restaurants. The actual style of cooking is very fresh seafood coated in cornmeal with a peppery sauce- soaked in buttermilk with added hot sauce for those brave enough. The food is then quickly and lightly fried and served with coleslaw. This is the Carolinas’ finest. Enjoy.

Prep: 10 min
Cook: 30 min
Servings: 10

You will need
1 c milk
1/2 c buttermilk
2# shrimp… preferably fresh. We used a bag of Berkley & Jensen frozen shrimp, which we thawed (~30 oz)
1/2 t hot sauce
2 c cornmeal
1/4 c canola oil

Pour buttermilk and hot sauce into a large bowl and place a handful of shrimp in to soak for 2-3 minutes. While soaking, pour oil into a frying pan and raise to high heat.


In another bowl filled with your cornmeal, toss your soaked shrimp until completely coated. Then place shrimp into the heated oil and cook for about 2 minutes, until your shrimp are golden.


Place your shrimp on a paper towel before serving.

Repeat the soaking, breading and frying process until all shrimp are used.

Serve with spicy mustard, coleslaw or as-is… they are too delicious to resist!


Arizona’s Favorite Chimichangas

recipe used directly from
Prep: 30 min
Cook: 30 min
Servings: 4

You will need

2 T unsalted butter
4 T vegetable oil
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (remove seeds for less heat)
1 1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
1 small tomato, chopped, plus more for topping
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 1/2 c shredded rotisserie chicken
1/4 c sour cream
1 15-ounce can refried beans
4 10-inch flour tortillas
1 c shredded monterey jack cheese, plus more for topping
Mexi-sauce, for topping (see below)
Shredded lettuce, for topping
Mexican rice, for serving


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Melt the butter with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet; transfer to a bowl.


Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the skillet. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon salt; toast 30 seconds.


Add the tomato and cilantro and cook until slightly dry, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken and sour cream and warm through. Remove from the heat.


Brush a rimmed baking sheet with some of the butter-oil mixture.
Spread 2 tablespoons refried beans down the center of each tortilla, leaving a 2-inch border on both ends. Top with 1 cup chicken mixture and 1/4 cup cheese. Fold in the ends and roll up.
The MiffleSonPut the chimichangas seam-side down on the baking sheet; brush with the butter-oil mixture. Bake 8 to 10 minutes per side, brushing again after you flip.


The Carpenter and sons!

Top with the sauce, more cheese, lettuce and tomato. Serve with rice and the remaining beans.

Make Chi-Chi’s Mexi-sauce:
Saute 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves in a skillet with vegetable oil. Add a pinch each of chili powder, cumin, sugar and salt; cook 30 seconds. Stir in two 4-ounce cans chopped green chiles (drained and rinsed); cook 2 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken broth and simmer until thickened, then puree. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.





Food that's sure to bring smiles to young and old!

Food that’s sure to bring smiles to young and old!

We hope you enjoy these delicious recipes and share in the joy of cooking with your whole family this season… which is almost officially starting! Are you ready for some football?!




All pictures and recipes are the property of Carpenter in the Kitchen© unless otherwise noted. When reproducing recipes, please share with a link and give written credit, or use your own words. No pictures can be reused without prior permission.


Filed under Cowboys 2013, Eagles 2013

Good thing it’s just preseason!


The Philadelphia Eagles took to the field Friday night in their first game under NFL rookie coach, Chip Kelly (who on Wikipedia has the nickname Big Balls Chip listed- I’m already not a fan). Though Andy Reid needed to part ways after his 13 years of service to Philadelphia, we were hesitant to expect anything big coming from Kelly in the first showing. We were right. Kelly was reunited across enemy lines with former Oregon Duck, LeGarrett Blount, but that did nothing to help stop the infamous New England Patriots, under their seasoned leader,  Bill Belichick. Impressively, Tom Brady was able to make connections with his wide receivers, despite his usual suspects being injured (or gone), and proved his determination to win it all in what seems to be (one of) his final seasons. At 36, his career might be coming closer to the end, but his highly protected position has given him a lot of good years. There are a lot of decisions left to be made for both teams, and summing up Belichick’s brief on-field statement after the game, it’s still preseason.

We made soft pretzels and cheese steaks (wit wiz!) and clam chowder for the game this week. The Cowboys also played, but with the late start and the fact that it was a weeknight game, we kept it simple. Fear not- we will get it together before the season begins! …and hopefully our teams will pick it up, too!

With that… game on!

Our soft pretzels were from THIS recipe here. As much as we wanted to make something more authentic like THESE, we want to offer you some recipes you can do without too much hassle. These pretzels are IT! While we suggest you treat yourself to the boil-before-baking awesomeness of a true Philly soft pretzel, if you’re looking for a delicious alternative that offers a few healthy benefits, then grab the following items and get to baking!

Soft Pretzels, adapted from

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook : 15 minutes
Servings: 6

You will need:
1 and 1/2 c warm water
1 packet active yeast (2 and 1/4 t)
1 t salt
1 T granulated sugar
2 c AP flour
2 c WW flour + more for the counter surface to knead
1 large egg
course sea salt for sprinkling
…mustard and cheese for dipping (you can use the leftover wiz from your steak sandwiches!)

In less than 45 minutes, you will have these beauties waiting for your belly:
PretzelsPreheat oven to 425* and line your baking sheet with parchment paper… now you’re ready to tray up.

FROM THE KITCHEN TIP: Remove all jewelry- including rings and bracelets. You will be kneading dough and there is nothing more gross that jewelry and long nails making food!


In a large mixing bowl (I prefer glass), mix yeast in warm water, stirring until just a few clusters of yeast remain. Continue to stir in salt and sugar until well mixed. One cup at a time, add your combination of AP and WW flours. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough is thick. Add more flour until dough is no longer sticky. You will know the dough is ready if it bounces back when poked. (I added 1/2 c at a time to avoid over-flouring and used just under 4 whole cups).

Some wine always makes the kitchen a happier place :)

Some wine always makes the kitchen a happier place :)

Flour a clean surface and turn your dough out, kneading it into a ball for about 5 minutes. Cut the dough into ~1/3 cup sections using a sharp knife. Then roll each section into an even rope about 22 inches long. Taking the ends, shape the dough into U-shape, cross the middle and press them into the dough to make a pretzel shape.

doughMake an egg wash with a splash of water and beaten egg. Brush both sides of your pretzel, then sprinkle with salt.


Bake for 10 minutes at 425*, then broil for 5 more minutes, which will help brown the tops. Be sure to keep an eye on them… as you can see, a few of ours were a bit darker than we would have liked.

Your pretzels will be ready to eat after a few cooling minutes and can be frozen well, but stored (no more than 4 days) will lose their fluff.


The Martinka Philly Cheesesteak… remember ‘wit wiz’!

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook : 20 minutes
Servings: 5

You will need:
1.5# shaved steak
1 med onion, sliced
8oz white mushrooms, sliced1 med green pepper, sliced
salt and pepper for taste
sub rolls
Cheeze Wiz, or whatever cheese you want to top your sandwiches

Sauté the steak in a pan over medium heat until cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sauté the onions, peppers and mushrooms SEPARATELY from each other, until their soft- you don’t have to wash the pan in between. Because the cook times differ, you want to do them separately, in non-stick or lightly oiled pan over med/med-low heat. Your onions should have a slight caramelizing on them, the peppers just reaching a softer consistency, and your mushrooms browned.

Now build your sandwich- steak, peppers, onion and mushrooms, topped with about a tablespoon of cheese. Put your sandwich in the toaster oven for a minute to crisp the bread and warm the steak. Top with whatever condiments you’d like… I prefer just cheese (but ketchup is delicious on everything).

Easy, delicious, and Joe’s own recipe… Let us know how we compare to Pat’s or Geno’s… just kidding!

Wit Wiz

And representing New England, Clam Chowdah adapted from

Prep: 7 minutes
Cook : 35 minutes
Servings: 4

You will need:
1 small onion, chopped
2oz salt pock, diced
8oz clam juice
1 3/4 c chicken broth 1 lg potato, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
3 T cornstarch
1pt (2 c) heavy cream, divided
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

(we picked our parsley fresh from the garden!)


In a soup pot, sauté onion and pork over medium heat until tender (3-5 minutes).

Add clams, juice, broth, potato, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cook covered for 7 minutes, then add celery. Recover and cook for another 5-7 minutes (until the potatoes are tender).

Dissolve the cornstarch and 1/2 c cream in a small bowl and add it to the soup.

Add parsley and remaining 1 1/2 c cream to the pot, stirring frequently until thickened (about 5 minutes).


Add in some family time and the best seat in the house, and you’ve got yourself a night with ©Carpenter in the Kitchen!

The game



All pictures and recipes are the property of Carpenter in the Kitchen©. When reproducing recipes, please share with a link and give written credit, or use your own words. No pictures can be reused without prior permission.




Filed under Eagles 2013

First and Ten…

First game of the season, or exhibition series as it were, for the Dallas Cowboys… Joe’s favorite team. Playing against Miami, a few important stats to weigh:

For Miami… Coach, Joe Philbin, is in his second season. His record is 7-9 overall. The Dolphins hold a winning record against the Cowboys in the regular season. They’re one of only six teams with this accomplishment. Out for this game are John Jerry and Rishard Matthews, while Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Jared Odrick, Randy Starks, Cameron Marshall, and Michael Clay are all questionable or doubtful.

For Dallas… Jason Garrett has a 21-19 overall record, and is in his third season as coach. Tony Romo is out because of coach’s decision (who plays a $108million contracted player in this game?), but these players are out with injury: Ron Leary, Nate Livings, Anthony Spencer, Tyrone Crawford, Jay Ratliff.

Enough stats… onto the cooking.

For the game we made chili to represent Texas and basil pulled pork for Miami- a little Cuban flare. The nice part about this combo was that the pork was super fast to prep- and took almost no effort. And it was delicious! Both the chili and pork can be served with tacos, chips, in sandwiches, with lime or avocado, or both, or over a bed of greens (arugula works great). We had an awesome family dinner chowing down (with a salad to off-set the heavy food and some stuffed jalapeños)- and were onto coffee before kickoff at 8.

Want to try making these great dishes?

The kitchen


Prep: 12 minutes
Cook : 2 hours (stove top)
Servings: 15 (leftovers are GREAT for freezing and saving for lunches)

2 lbs ground beef
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup chili powder
2 cans kidney beans
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf

Brown meat, pepper, and onion together in a large pot*
After meat is browned and veggies are soft drain the liquid from the pan
Add chili powder to the pan and stir
Open cans of crushed tomato, tomato paste and add to meat mixture
Open cans of kidney beans and pour only the liquid into the pan- Save beans for adding later
Add water, salt, sugar and bay leaf and simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours.
Add beans and simmer for 1/2 hour.
Serve with sour cream, cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.

*Be sure to add meat to a hot pot- meat in a cold pat is sure to stick. Add 1/3c water to the pot to help with the browning process.


Basil Pulled Pork:

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook : 8 hours (crockpot)
Servings: 6 (1 cup)

You will need
3# BONELESS pork shoulder/butt- if you can only find bone-in, the cook time will be longer
1 1/2 T basil infused olive oil (recipe below)*
20-25 fresh basil leaves

Using a fork, stab pork about 5 times, covering all sides
Massage oil into the meat
Cover pork in salt
Place half the basil leaves in the bottom of the crock pot, put the pork on top
Put the rest of the leaves on top
Cover and cook on low for 7 hours**
Uncover and shred pork
Recover and cook at low for an additional hour

1c fresh finely chopped basil leaves
1 1/2c extra virgin olive oil (EVOO is important here)

Place chopped leaves in sauce pot, add oil
Cook on med/high heat for 5-7 minutes
Take off heat and let the mix steep for 30 minutes
Strain oil into a glass jar

This oil will keep for one month and is perfect for our recipe, but pairs well as a dressing over salads, dipping for bread, oil for croutons, on pasta dishes, and even as an oil for your nails (add just a drop to your cuticles at night)!

**Please do not try and rush the cook time! The full 8 hours at low heat will bring the juices out and make this pork the perfect center piece to your meal.

Pulled Pork

Always have a spread that offers diversity and a whole lot of fun! … and make some time to give hugs to those you love!


Gramma and AddieThank you for joining us in our first week! We hope you can try these simple recipes with your family this week!  Congratulations to the Cowboys on their win!





All pictures and recipes are the property of Carpenter in the Kitchen©. When reproducing recipes, please share with a link and give written credit, or use your own words. No pictures can be reused without prior permission.


Filed under Cowboys 2013


As it goes, cooking, pictures, bloody marys, an 8pm kickoff and summer weather make a same day post not possible! Please share our new site so that everyone will be able to enjoy our first set of recipes tomorrow: Chili for the Cowboys and Basil Pulled Pork for Miami!

Happy footballing!



All pictures and recipes are the property of Carpenter in the Kitchen©. When reproducing recipes, please share with a link and give written credit, or use your own words. No pictures can be reused without prior permission.



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Filed under Cowboys 2013, Eagles 2013