The Tromp Queen COOKS!

The Tromp Queen Cooks! Family Favorites: old and new — all delicious!

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Tortellini Summer Salad

Tonight was one of those nights.  I looked into the refrigerator and tried to figure out what I could cook for dinner that was not too complicated, not too hot, not too much effort.

I spied a package of fresh tortellini.  I thought, “Hey, I could boil that and throw in some vegetables and some meat and cheese.  It would be a main course salad!”


Uncooked Tortellini. Image via Flickr by Scott Feldstein CC license

I put some water on to boil.  I started to gather ingredients.

1 small white onion, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
4 carrots, grated
1 box cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
several slices of deli ham, diced (1/4 to 1/3 of a pound)
1/2 jar Muffuletta olive salad (use a fork to dig it out of the jar)
Most of a bottle of creamy Caesar dressing (or could use vinegar and olive oil)

Boil a package of cheese tortellini according to the package directions.  Undercook just slightly.  Rinse with cold water.  While pasta cooks, combine the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the pasta.  Toss and mix.


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Oatmeal Pancakes


Oatmeal Pancakes

1 1/2 c. oatmeal (old fashioned works best)

3/4 c. milk

1 egg

2 T. veg oil

2 T. brown sugar

1 T. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

Put the dry oatmeal in a blender (or food processor or Bullet) and grind it into flour.
Set the oat flour you just made aside.
Put the remaining ingredients in the blender then add the ground up oatmeal flour back in.  (OR you can mix the remaining ingredients into the oat flour in a bowl and mix it together with a wooden spoon.)
Blend until mixed.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Fry as usual for pancakes.

Serve with butter and real maple syrup.  YUMMMM.

We often double this recipe.  They really are VERY good.

This recipe came with the blender we got as a wedding present 32 years ago.  My husband’s Dad always cooked breakfast for their family at home, and he was used to “from scratch” pancakes, waffles and omelets.  My husband, doing his best to emulate his Dad, tried this recipe soon after we were married  and has made it throughout all the years between then and now.


Oatmeal Pancakes (Taste of Home photo)

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Creamy Mushroom with Brown and Wild Rice Soup

I sometimes crave a warm bowl of soup late at night when I can’t sleep.

Recently I made a pretty good version of cream of mushroom soup for my late night craving — with a few twists.

Creamy Mushroom with Brown and Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Mushroom with Brown and Wild Rice Soup by The Tromp Queen Cooks. Image by TTQ, CC license 4.0

Heat 1 T olive oil and 1 T butter in a fairly large saucepan or dutch oven.
Add 8 oz. or more of sliced mushrooms (any kind). Mine were kind of old so I picked off the stems and just used the caps.
Add a little salt and pepper.
Chop up 1/2 of a small onion. Add it to the pot.


Penzeys Spices Lemon Pepper Seasoning. Image from their website.

Add 1 t. of Penzeys Lemon Pepper seasoning. This might seem like a strange choice, but it worked!  It contains: salt, Special Extra Bold black pepper, citric acid, lemon peel, garlic and minced green onion

Let all that cook until the mushrooms and onions are very soft and lightly browned.

Sprinkle the mushroom mixture with 3 T. of flour.  Stir it around for about a minute.

Add about 2 – 3 c of chicken or veg broth.  (I had an open box in the fridge.  I’m not completely sure how much I added, but it was in this ballpark).

Then, I added a single serving of Minute brand brown and wild rice. The package looks like this:

You pull off the lid of the little plastic cup, stick it in the microwave on high for 1 minute and it is ready to go! (Yes, I heated it in the micro before adding it to my soup).

I let all this simmer for a few minutes.

At the very end I added about 1/2 c. of half and half. I might have added more but that is about all we had left.

This made a very tasty and filling soup if I do say so myself.

I think the Lemon Pepper seasoning really added a nice touch. I will definitely try that again.

Until next time: Happy Soup Snacking!



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Tromp Queen’s Porcupine Meatballs

I got this recipe from a Wisconsin state politician during a parade many years ago. The guy was not in my preferred political party, but I took the recipe anyway.

I’ve tweaked it over the years, and the version I made tonight for dinner was really quite good.

CC Chapman "Porcupine Burgers" via Flickr CC license

Porcupine Meatballs. Image by CC Chapman via Flickr Creative Commons license.

Here is the Tromp Queen’s version:

Mix together:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup regular long grain rice, uncooked (I used basmati)
1 1/2 to 2 slices whole wheat bread, crumbled
1 egg
1/2 t. onion powder
1 t. salt (or less, to taste)
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. Italian herb mix
1/2 c. tomato juice

Mix well.
Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat (med high if you are watching it carefully). Add 1 or 2 T. (or more) olive oil to the pan.
Optional: add 2 to 3 cloves of garlic to the olive oil.
Using medium-sized scoop or your hands, form meatballs,
adding the meatballs to the skillet as you make them.
Gently turn the meatballs 2 or 3 times, until they are mostly browned (about 5-7 min.)

Add 2 to 2 1/2 cups of tomato sauce to the skillet.
Add 1 t. Italian herb mix to the sauce.
Optional: Add 1/2 t. sugar.

Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 20-25 min. Spoon some of the sauce over the top of the meatballs as you turn/stir occasionally.
Add more tomato juice, water or broth if needed to keep the sauce from disappearing.

Serve with vegetables or salad, maybe a baguette, or crispy bread of some sort?

You can use any kind of herb you desire: marjoram, oregano, basil or a mixture such as the Italian herb mix from Penzeys. The original recipe called for 1 c. of minute rice, but I prefer the taste and texture of “real” rice.

Enjoy! Please let me know if you try this recipe and how you like it if you do.




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Chickpea Curry

Steven Jackson turmeric

Turmeric image by Steven Jackson, via Flickr CC license

Chickpea Curry

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 approximately 2-inch piece of ginger, grated
2 teaspoons Sweet Curry powder
1 teaspoon Penzeys Curry Now powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 (15 oz ) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed (smash one can with a fork)
28 oz can, petite diced tomatoes
1 can full fat coconut milk
2-3 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt
Chopped fresh cilantro


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add onions, salt; sautè until translucent, about 6 minutes stirring every now and then. Add garlic and sautè for 1 more minute.
Add ginger and all the spices; sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add diced tomatoes then chickpeas.
Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Stir in coconut milk and simmer for 5 more minutes.
In a small bowl mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir in the chickpea mixture and cook for 5 more minutes or until thickened.
Take a taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Remove from the heat, sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro.
Serve over basmati or brown rice.

I made this recipe for the first time this evening for our dinner. The balance and depth of flavors was very good. Most of the ingredients are easy to have on had, with the exception of the fresh cilantro (which seems to go bad in just a few days — or is it me?).

This is a quick and easy, delicious (meatless) curry.

Recipe revised and tweaked by The Tromp Queen. Original recipe here:

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Spicy Tomato Drink (aka VBM)


Bloody Mary from Chef’s Point in Texas

I’ve discovered that people in Wisconsin take their Bloody Marys pretty seriously.  In a restaurant or bar, the drink usually comes with a beer chaser.  There seems to be a statewide competition to see who can make the elaborate “groceries” to go with their drink.  (I’ve been told “groceries” is the term for the excessive garnishes.)

I’m not sure when I discovered how tasty a Virgin Bloody Mary can be. But somewhere along the line I tried it and liked it.

I often make one (or two) for a snack because I feel like it’s an easy way to consume some vegetables in my diet that day. I don’t add vodka unless I have plenty of time to take a nap and I don’t have to drive anywhere anytime soon (which is hardly ever!)

The easy Tromp Queen version: I use a tall pub glass that holds about 2 c. Pour in tomato juice to about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Add 2 T of lemon juice, a few shakes of celery seed powder, a few shakes of Tabasco, a couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce, a blop of A1 sauce, 4/S Penzey seasoned salt, black pepper (or lemon pepper is good, too) and smoked paprika (if you have it). Stir with a couple of celery stalks. Add ice until the glass is full. Add a green olives on a toothpick, dill pickle spear, crispy strips of bacon — let your imagination run wild.

Some recipes add horseradish, lime juice, BBQ sauce, Old Bay Seasoning, even mustard!
Here are a couple more recipes for your enjoyment:

From Heidi Rose: (All Recipes)

I bartend in Green Bay and I build mine in this order: Ice, 5 shakes celery salt, Squeeze of juice from one lemon wedge, 5 shakes Worcestershire, 2 drops steak sauce, 3 drops Tabasco, 2 shakes Old Bay Seasoning, *Vodka, Tomato juice (stir after adding or Worcestershire will pool at bottom), 2 fresh olives, 2 shrimp, 1 beef stick, 1 stick Colby-Jack Cheese, 1 pickle, and 1 fresh lemon wedge – That’s an authentic Wisconsin brunch Bloody!

Andrew Zimmern’s recipe:

  • 32 ounces tomato juice (or try using Clamato juice, my favorite)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 3 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon tabasco
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway seed
  • 1/2 tablespoon dry oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground celery seed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Ice

In a large pitcher, whisk all ingredients except the ice and vodka (if using) together to combine. Make the mix a few hours before serving, and chill, allowing the flavors to meld.

Fill glasses about half way with ice. If mixing with vodka, pour 2 ounces into the glass, then fill with 6 to 8 ounces of the bloody Mary mix. Garnish with a celery stick and lime wedge, and serve with a mix of olives, pickled veggies, cheese, tomatoes and salami.

Sobelman's $50 Bloody Mary

Sobelman’s $50 Bloody Mary (MILWAUKEE made!)


If this last photo intrigues you, check out this blog: “On a mission to find Milwaukee’s Best Bloody Mary.”

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Tom Kha Gai soup

There is a wonderful restaurant at the corner of 60th and North Avenue here in Milwaukee. It is called Mekong Cafe. They serve Thai, Laos and Vietnamese food; the lunch buffet is reliably varied and delicious.

One of my favorite things to have there is Tom Kha Gai soup. I’ve searched for a recipe that comes close to the deliciousness that is that soup.

Lorenia Tom Yum Gai

image of Tom Yum Gai by Lorenia via Flickr CC license



This recipe might just be even better than the Mekong version. It actually IS better because when I make it at home I don’t have to drive across town which saves me about stress and expense of about an hour in traffic.

makes four generous servings

1 stalk lemongrass (I haven’t been able to find this a my grocery store, so I leave this out.)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (This is the kind I use.)
6 quarter-inch wide slices fresh ginger (or grate an equivalent amount into the broth)
3 kaffir lime leaves (I used grated lime zest from one of the limes)
4 cups chicken stock (homemade is best, or use a box or bouillon)
1/2 pound (or up to a pound) boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, sliced across the grain into 1/8-inch wide strips. You can also use tofu or shrimp.
2 cups shitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps quartered or 1 can 15 oz.straw mushrooms, drained.
1 14-ounce can coconut milk (Don’t use low-fat. Trust me. I tried it.)
Juice of one or two limes (about five tablespoons)
2 tablespoons nam pla (AKA fish sauce, also available in most groceries these days.)
3 green onions, trimmed and sliced into ¼ inch pieces
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Trim lemongrass, cut into three pieces about four inches long. Whack the pieces with the flat side of your knife blade to crush slightly.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Saute onion and garlic for about two minutes.

Add lemongrass, curry paste, ginger discs, and lime leaf (or peel). Cook, stirring, for three minutes.

Add stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add coconut milk, chopped chicken and quartered mushroom caps (or drained canned straw mushrooms). Cook five minutes, or until chicken is just cooked through.

Add lime juice and nam pla. Taste for balance between nam pla and lime. If one flavor is dominating too much, add a little of the other.

Garnish with green onion and cilantro.


This is the story from the Unfussy Fare website where I found this delicious recipe. I’ll copy it here to save you from clicking through but I’ll also link it to the website for you, too.

This one goes out to everyone who ever brought food when the chips were down. I may have forgotten to write a note, given everything. I’m sure you were busy. It took forethought. You had to find that recipe, get groceries, and cook. Then you had to transport it all, which can be messy. You probably wondered if you’d ever get your Tupperware back. It was good of you.

Years ago, when my mother was dying, people brought food. There were casseroles and brownies, homegrown tomatoes and pots of soup. I was mystified. Did they really think we could eat, at a time like that? Well, yes. They knew we could. Everyone eventually does, inconceivable as it seems. I felt like a traitor, eating while my irrepressible mother was slipping away. But she would’ve rolled her eyes at that sentiment, and reminded me that life is hard enough without my efforts to make it harder.

Years later, my husband and I welcomed a son. Dinner came to our doorstep every night for weeks, courtesy of friends and neighbors. I wept with thankfulness. I wept a lot in those days, but that’s another story. I can still taste those meals, seasoned as they were with naked gratitude. I missed my Mom. I needed help. And help arrived, wrapped in foil and kindness.

Birth and death are demanding. They just swoop right and in and put their feet up, blithely flicking away the orderly unfolding of our days. We are tender and tired as we attend our loved ones at the beginning and the end. We sing and stroke. We wash and feed. The clock ceases to provide useful information. These are the rhythms of lives, not days. In the midst of these marathons of nurture, gifts of food stand in simple relief. Meals arrive like little missives from the world where the clock still applies, like souvenirs of simpler times. It’s hard to remember simpler times when you’re in the thick of life’s seismic upheavals. Food gives strength, and comfort.

A family friend dropped this soup by for me and my stepfather when my mom was sick. We were dazed by the unfolding loss. My memories of that time are foggy, but I recall thinking this soup was the most delicious thing I ever tasted. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to even notice a bowl of soup just then, never mind enjoy it. But I savored every bite. It served to remind me that a world outside of sorrow still existed. Life would be there, with all its flavors and delights, when the time came to gather up the fragments of my broken heart and look forward again.

To this day, the complicated interplay of flavors in Tom Kha Gai puts me in mind of nurture, solace, and motherhood. When I know someone with a new baby, or an illness, or a death in the family, this is the dish I most often bring. I pass it on with thanks, for all the grace and sustenance.

I get a lot of requests for this recipe, which is the true measure of any dish’s popularity, if you ask me. This soup somehow manages to be feisty and harmonious at the same time. It’s interesting enough to impress foodie types, but simple and comforting enough to appeal to less adventurous eaters. (You might need to explain to the aforementioned “less adventurous eaters” that the big stalks of lemongrass and discs of ginger floating around in the soup aren’t meant to be eaten. They’re just adding flavor.) Sometimes I throw in cooked basmati rice at the end. That may be some kind of Thai-food no-no, but I find chicken and rice a soothing combination.