Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Friday, June 30, 2006

Chicken Breasts in Creamy Caper Sauce

I'm trying my hardest to use up what's in our freezer.. which truly means, I don't have to shop for meat or poultry for a good year or so. Sheesh. I swear, what is it with me and the fear of one day opening the freezer or pantry and NOT finding what I want? I live less than a mile from our grocery store, it's not like I've got to plan for the big trip into the city to buy some chicken or a steak when I want them. But no, God forbid I decide that morning that pork chops sound good for dinner and have to trek allllll the way to the store (2 minutes) to get them. Hubbs doesn't understand my stocking fetish either. I guess that's why he bought 3 freezers?? hehe

Anyhoo.. getting rid of some chicken breasts sounded good yesterday. In an attempt to try to eat light for a switch and a change, I had hopes to just broil or grill them and serve with a salad. Yeah that lasted until about 3 p.m. I got stuck at work yesterday with no break so I was starving. What's the 2nd worst thing you can do while hungry, besides grocery shop? Go looking for recipes. I found this one, as per usual, on All Recipes. Another 5 star rated recipe with a boatload of reviews. The main reason I chose it was because it had dill in the recipe. I grow dill for pickling green beans, and that's the only recipe I use it for - so I thought using it somewhere else would be a nice change of pace. While making the pan sauce for the recipe, I tasted to adjust seasonings and it was delicious.. I was so happy with the results. The only ingredient that wasn't added yet was the dill - as per my lessons taught from Paula, Emeril, Rachel, Ina and other assorted celebrity chefs, I did not want to add my fresh herb until the end so that I'd get the most out of it. Mmmm 'kay? The sauce was perfect UNTIL I added the dill.. it gave it a twangy not quite right taste, unfortunately. Maybe it's because I like my dill in pickles and green beans? Could I be a dill snob? It smells so damn good it should be delicious in anything, right? Oh well. The recipe is a keeper but next time.. no dill.

By pounding the chicken breasts flat, you cut your cooking time in half and get a more tender bite. The sauce was creamy, with subtle hits of garlic and lemon. The capers lent a salty and slightly fruity taste that made the dish that more special. I served this with my rice pilaf, a recipe I've used for many years and is still the best rice pilaf I've ever had to date.

This is a quick dinner that comes together in a flash and really perks up boring chicken breasts. :D

Chicken Breast in a Caper Cream Sauce
Chicken Breasts in Caper Cream Sauce with Rice Pilaf

For the Chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 TBS. butter
2 tsp. grated lemon peel (See note)
4 cloves garlic minced (See note)
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 TBS. capers, drained & rinsed (I didn't rinse mine)
2 tsp. fresh, chopped dill weed (See note)

Place chicken breast in large ziplock bag (unsealed) or between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound until they are about 1/4" thick. Heat oil in a large skillet. Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper, dredge in flour. Fry breasts until golden brown - about 4 minutes each side. Transfer to plate covered in paper towels to drain, cover with foil to keep warm.

In same skillet, add heavy cream, garlic, lemon peel and capers. Whisk until the cream becomes a bit thinner, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in fresh dill. Spoon over chicken breasts.

*Note: The recipe called for lemon/pepper, dried dill weed and garlic powder. - I went with fresh grated lemon peel, fresh dill and cloves of garlic.

For the Rice Pilaf:
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms (or rough chop)
1/4 c. chopped celery or bell pepper (I used red bell pepper)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS. butter
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 3/4 c. chicken stock (If serving with beef, use beef stock)
1 c. rice (your choice on which kind you'd prefer)

In a saucepan, saute onions, garlic, celery or bell pepper for approximately 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute another 3-4 minutes. Stir in rice and stock, season with salt & pepper. Bring to boiling, reduce heat then cover, simmer about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender & liquid is absorbed.

*Note: To add a nutty flavor to the rice, brown lightly in 1 TBS. of butter before beginning recipe.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Broiled Parmigiano Tilapia

There's nothing like comfort food.. something that makes you feel all warm and coozy inside and reminds you of happy memories from your childhood. The previous macaroni and cheese recipe was many people's idea of comfort food. For me, macaroni and cheese wasn't something I ate at home - my parents never made it. But it was one of those elementary school lunches that caused every single kid to "forget" to grab their bagged lunch, before running out the door to catch the school bus. And from what I can remember.. from so many, many years ago.. was that my elementary school lunch ladies made some damn fine macaroni and cheese! It was usually paired with fish sticks or hot dogs. Perfect fare for hungry kids who needed that boost of energy before going wild on the playground. Yanno how you needed that extra sumptin' sumptin' to give ya the edge when chasing the boys around the swing sets, right? Was that just me? Boy crazy before I hit my teens?? Anyyyhooo.. when I decided on the mac and cheese I wanted fish sticks too!! But I didn't think Hubbs' would be as pleased with chopped and processed fish pieces covered in a crunchy bread coating and then dipped in ketchup as I would have been. And yes.. before Hubbs, I use to dip my breaded fish in ketchup. I know!! I'm a dork. :D I don't do it anymore because the first time he saw that combination I thought he was going to have a stroke. He's a fisherman yanno. And dipping freshly caught fish into ketchup of all things was close to sacrilegious to him. hehe

So I went in search of a more "grown up" recipe for some tilapia I had recently purchased. I found this recipe on All Recipes where I find a lot of excellent recipes submitted by good home cooks. I usually look for the recipes with 5 stars and lots of reviews and this one came in with not only 5 stars but over 1,000 ratings and reviews, so I hadda try it to see what all the fuss was about. It was certainly delicious but nothing mind blowing. A very nice way to add extra flavor to a mild fish without making it heavy. I'll definitely try this recipe with other types of mild fish as well.

What you get is this creamy topping that's both cheesy and lemony but doesn't overpower the mild flavor of the fish. It's not cheese heavy or too lemony - but a great combination of the two, which relieved me because Hubbs isn't a huge fan on overly cheesy recipes. Yep, it's a keeper =)

Parmesan Tilapia w/Mac & Cheese
Broiled Parmigiano Tilapia

1/2 c. Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1/4 c. butter, softened
3 TBS. mayo
2 TBS. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dried basil (I used fresh)
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. celery salt
2 lbs. Tilapia filets

Mix all ingredients, excluding the fish, in a small bowl. Set aside.

Broil the Tilapia on a greased broiling pan, or do what I did which was place a cookie rack in a jelly roll pan sprayed with olive oil, for 2-3 minutes, flip and continue broiling for an additional 2 minutes. Take the fish out of the oven and spread the Parmigiano mixture evenly over the filets, place back under the broiler and broil another 2 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned and bubbling and the fish is flaky. Be careful not to overcook the fish.

My Notes: It was kind of hard to incorporate the softened butter with the mayo and lemon juice, so I think next time I'll zap the butter until it's just melted. To make it lighter, I'd cut the butter down to maybe just a few tablespoons and use fat-free or reduced calorie mayo. Also, I really think more fresh herbs in the mix would be delicious. Maybe fresh chopped parsley and a few sprigs of thyme to go with the basil. =)

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kitchen Sense - A Cookbook Spotlight

*Note 7/2/06: I just received an e-mail from Sara of I like to cook letting us know that there was a miscommunication from the publishing company. They did not want us to blog about a recipe in the book, all they wanted were reviews of the book. So I've taken the recipe out. If anyone is interested in the recipe, e-mail me and I'll give you the ingredient list and my version of how I made the dish. :D

Imagine my surprise and great delight to be invited to participate in the very first Cookbook Spotlight event! Ali e-mailed me with the invitation from Cathy at A Blithe Palate asking me if I'd like to receive this cookbook called Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis to check out and review on my blog.. how exciting!

I received my book a few days later and couldn't wait to see what it contained. I was happily surprised to see that it contained over 600 recipes and many, many tips for the home cook. Mitchell says that he wanted to write a book for the home cook - basic recipes that could be transformed into your own creations (along with many variations of his own), tips on just about anything food related such as how to buy a good piece of meat, cleaning your leafy vegetables when you bring them home, creating perfect pan sauces and much, much more.

To be honest, my first impression of the book wasn't all that spectacular. I'm one of those people who purchases a cookbook that has pictures showing what a recipe looks like. This book is pictureless. But the more I delved into it's pages, the more I ended up liking it - as it truly is a great book to have for the lessons and tips to help make the average home cook more knowledgeable.

You'd think that with over 600 recipes, I'd be able to find one right off the bat that struck my fancy.. but it took me a while to decide which one I wanted to try first. I ended up going with Mitchell's Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese, because please.. who doesn't love a fantastic macaroni and cheese dish?? I've been trying recipes for years to find that one perfect mac & cheese recipe that will stop me in my tracks and have me swooning after one bite of it's creamy, cheesy goodness.

When looking at his ingredient list, I thought this might be a major contender for the title, so off I went to the grocery store to get my supplies. What I liked about this recipe the most was his use of cream cheese and aged cheddar & gouda.. I'd never used gouda in a mac & cheese recipe and was amazed at how I never thought of it myself - the creamy goodness of gouda by itself was a winner - so melted over some curly pasta had to be the bomb, yes??

Well, unfortunately, this dish didn't end up being the "ultimate" for us. The flavor was right on.. the cream cheese and gouda, along with the sharp aged cheddar lent a magnificent savory flavor that reminded me of macaroni and cheese dishes I'd had a restaurants.. but the texture of the dish was not creamy at all, actually it ended up quite dry. I don't consider this a failure though. The spirit of the book is not one where the author is pushing his recipes, but showing you the basics and allowing you to build off from there. So, I will make this macaroni and cheese again one day - but I will tweak it with the knowledge I've accumulated over the years and with the tips Mitchell has taught me to quite possibly create my own "Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese". =)

The Ultimate?? Mac & Cheese
Mitchell Davis' The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese
Parmesan Tilapia

*Note: I served this with Broiled Parmigiano Tilapia fillets, which I'll post later :D

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gooey Butter Cake - Version III - the Mystery Flavor

So Sunday I had to make something in case they did have room for desert (little did I know "they" weren't going to show). After the peanut butter fiasco, I was determined to try again. Only this time, I figured that I've made so many of Paula's Gooey Butter Cakes, that I could make up a flavor of my own with my knowledge of how she comes up with hers. Also, I still had a boatload of cream cheese in my fridge that I needed to get rid of.

I had a few flavors of cake mix in my pantry and decided that banana would be an interesting base. Now for the filling.. do I go all Elvis on their asses and try another peanut butter filling (using a BRAND SPANKING NEW jar of peanut butter OF COURSE) with maybe marshmallow fluff swirled through? That did sound mighty tasty - but I was kinda afraid of peanut butter the next day.. so we'll try that one another time. So what else goes well with bananas? Chocolate of course!! A chocolate covered banana gooey butter cake! Ingenious! (Is that a word?)

Now I had the flavors I wanted to try. But I've got the problem of that cream cheese layer being so damn thin.. I specifically recall all my pumpkin gooey cakes being light and fluffy.. not thin and so dense, dammit. My guess is that the pumpkin is what makes that variation so much more fluffy - although I couldn't tell you why I guess that. I have no good reason. Well I decided to up the cream cheese to two packages for this cake. I did end up getting a thicker layer (duh) but it wasn't as light as the pumpkin. Still.. a most excellent cake all in all. I'm very happy with the results and will make this variation again and again.

Chocolate Banana Gooey Cake cu
Chocolate Covered Banana Gooey Butter Cake

1 pkg. banana cake mix
1 egg
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
4 TBS. heavy cream
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese
3 eggs
8 oz. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Lightly grease a 9" x 13" x 2" baking pan (I always use a glass Pyrex dish) with butter.

In a mixer, combine the cake mix, egg and butter until it forms a ball. Press this mixture into the bottom of your baking pan.

Place the chocolate and heavy cream into a microwave safe bowl and zap it for 30 seconds, then stir to combine, zap again for 15 seconds and stir until it's all melty.

In same mixer, beat the cream cheese until it's good and soft, add the eggs, chocolate and vanilla. Mix well. Slowly add the sugar until it's just combined. Pour over the cake layer and spread until it's even.

Bake for 35 minutes. Original gooey butter cake recipe calls for 45-50 minutes, but 35 was just perfect for my oven. Cool before serving.


Chocolate Banana Gooey Cake

My crap cam seems to be taking a crap on me (oh no!) I couldn't get a clear picture of this cake to save my life :(

*Note: You might have noticed that I left out that 2nd stick of butter in the filling. I really don't think it's needed.

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Paula's Gooey Butter Cakes - Variation II

On Saturday I made another variation of Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake.. the peanut butter and chocolate variation to be exact. I've made this variation before with wonderfully decadent results. Not so much this time. I over baked. Annddd.. I suspect my peanut butter had started to get that not so fresh taste to it. I didn't think it had been in my cupboard very long as we go through peanut butter quite quickly in this house, but my cake did taste a bit "stale". Also, something else I've noticed in the last 2 gooey cakes I've made.. the cream cheese layer was pretty damn thin. I don't recall the pumpkin gooey cake I make every year for Thanksgiving being so thin, but with the first variation, the lemon one I made a few weeks ago and now this peanut butter one.. thin. Thankfully, after everyone ate the ribs they were too full for desert, so Hubbs and I were the only ones (much later that night when we had no business eating anything sweet before passing out) that were subjected to the ickiness. That cake was thrown away the next morning. But here's a picture and the recipe, because it's an excellent recipe when you don't overbake it and use ka-ka'd peanut butter. :D

Peanut Butter Gooey Cake
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake

1 devil's food cake mix
1 egg
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 (16 oz.) box confectioners' sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Lightly grease a 9" x 13" x 2" baking pan (I always use a glass Pyrex dish) with butter.

In a mixer, combine the cake mix, egg and butter until it forms a ball. Press this mixture into the bottom of your baking pan.

In same mixer, beat the cream cheese until it's good and soft, add the eggs, peanut butter, butter and vanilla. Mix well. Slowly add the sugar until it's just combined. Pour over the cake layer and spread until it's even.

Bake for 45-50 minutes. (I baked for 45 minutes and it was too done! So check after 35 minutes!) Your cake should look "done" around the sides only and the middle should look, well.. gooey. :D Cool for a few hours before serving.

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Funky lil salad

This lil crunchy salad is one of our favorites, the recipe given to me by my "therapist" also known as one of my bestest friends ever, Kim. Kim has given me a few recipes that I find interesting in a funky way.. and by funky I guess I mean kinda weird. Ingredients that aren't ordinary, put together to make something quite delicious. This is one of those recipes.

Broccoli Slaw

Doesn't it look a lil funkdified? Wondering what exactly is in this bowl? Yeah, I did too when she first took it out of her fridge years ago. I snubbed my nose at it.. until she forced me to take a bite - literally shoved a forkful into my face while holding the back of my head so I couldn't get outta the way. Yeah, that's a fond memory. :P Of course I'm sure there was no beer involved in that little episode. heeheee Anyhoo, am glad she did it because it's delicious! An earthy and crunchy salad that becomes addicting once you've taken your first bite. The broccoli gives it that earthy taste and the crunch comes from everything else including roasted sunflower seeds, almond slices and ramen noodles. Yes! Ramen Noodles!

Okay how to explain this.. the broccoli slaw itself. It's pre-bagged, I don't make it from scratch. So if you can't find it in your bagged salad section of your store, I would imagine that it'd be easy enough to make on your own - and although I've been way to lazy over the years and have never attempted to try to make my own, I suspect the salad would be even better tasting had I julienned my own carrots, red cabbage and broccoli stalks. There are no florets of broccoli, but again, my guess would be if you are forced (or not lazy like I am) the florets would be a wonderful addition. The other thing is the dressing. I have no idea exactly how much veggie oil and how much balsamic you use. I was taught when making this salad to use one of those lil bottles you can buy that comes with those little packages of Good Season's dressing mixes. You don't use the Good Season's dressing mix in this recipe, just the bottle. lol What you do is pour the balsamic in to the first line on the bottle and then fill the rest of the bottle (about to the halfway mark of the neck of the bottle) with veggie oil - and then the "seasoning" is the package of Ramen Noodle seasoning! Chicken preferably. I told you it was funky!! :D

Broccoli Slaw
2 pkgs. Broccoli Slaw
2 pkgs. Ramen Noodles, chicken flavor
1 c. roasted & salted sunflower seeds
1 c. sliced almonds
Balsamic vinegar - (I'll make a guestimate that it's at least 1/4 c.)
Veg, Canola or Olive oil - (guestimate of maybe 3/4 - 1 c.?)

Lay your bag of Ramen Noodles on your counter, unopened. Find something heavy - I use the flat side of my hammer like device that's made for pounding chicken or meat. What the hell is that called again? Give your ramen noodles a good smashing to break them up into bite sized pieces. Open the bags and take the seasoning packs out then pour the noodles, along with the rest of the ingredients, except dressing, into a large bowl that has a lid.

Fill your cruet (or jar) with the balsamic & oil then add the seasoning packs from the ramen noodles. Shake it all up until it's emulsified. Pour the whole thing over your salad and put the lid on the bowl - shake, shake, shake.. shake your funkdified crunchy salad.. shake your funkdified crunchy salad (all the time humming the "Shake your Booty" song that creeps into your head and NEVER. LEAVES.)

Refrigerate for a few hours.. every once in a while giving it another good shake to make sure the dressing is doing it's thing to soften the ramen noodles. Because, yes.. your salad should NOT have crunchy ramen noodles as they are not tasty and you can break a tooth on them. Enjoy!

Shake, shake, shake.. shake, shake, shake.. shake your booty! shake your booty!

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Summer Tortellini Salad for WCC #6

This pasta salad is pretty much the only pasta salad I really enjoy. And it was a total fluke that I ever found the recipe for it as the cookbook that contains it is one of my least favorites that I rarely ever look to for inspiration. Betty Crocker's Easy Summer Recipes is chock full of the same old boring recipes you've seen a 1,000 times over. Potato salads, cold sandwiches, that Jello poke cake that's frosted with whipped cream and decorated with strawberries and blueberries to create the American flag.. yanno.. things that might have been new and inspiring about 25 years ago.

With that said, this one little gem did catch my eye and I've been making it ever since. I decided this salad would be perfect for my submission to this month's WCC #6 event :D

Summer Tortellini Salad
1 pkg. Buitoni 3 Cheese Tortellini (found in refrigerator section)
1 bell pepper, diced (doesn't matter what color, although I prefer yellow or orange)
1 bunch green onions, sliced (Using both white and green parts)
1 can medium black olives
1/2-1 full carton grape tomatoes
1 slice of bavarian ham, diced (Slice should be about 1/2" thick & cut from middle of ham)
1 slice of oven roasted turkey, diced (Sliced the same as the ham)
2 slices hard salami, diced (Yep, you guessed it, sliced the same as ham & turkey)
1/2 c. Wishbone Robusto Italian dressing
1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. canola oil (Or EVOO)
2 tsp. garlic salt

Combine all your meats & veggies into a large bowl. Pour the Wishbone dressing on top and stir well. You could stop here (although you'd prolly need more dressing as the tortellini will absorb a lot as it sits). I find bottled dressing is a lil too sweet for my liking - but I was following the recipe, so I had to use it. Here's where I cheat. Combine balsamic & oil until you get an emulsion. Sprinkle the garlic salt over the salad and then pour the vinegar & oil over the salad and mix well. I figured the next time I'd make the salad I'd just use my balsamic & oil dressing, but I found I really like the combo of my dressing with the bottled dressing.. go figure :D

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Jack Daniels' Glazed Ribs

So Sunday turned out much differently than we expected. All but one of Hubbs' crew ditched him. Can ya believe it? Finally, around 2:30 one of the guys showed up.. but by then Hubbs had pretty much one whole side (the longest and most important side) done - by himself. Poor guy. I felt bad for him, but maybe it was a girl thing? He didn't seem upset at all and I think he was actually enjoying himself because he wouldn't let me help him. Maybe the whole, "I built it myself with pride" thing? I don't know - but that man worked his arse off yesterday and today I've got two sides to our fence done, and done beautifully. The back is still unfinished as they ran across major roots when trying to dig the holes for posts on Saturday, but as soon as Hubbs can figure out how to set posts back there, he'll be able to knock out filling the fence in quickly. At least now, the ugly neighbor's house is no longer an eye sore and the yard is essentially completely fenced in so we don't have to worry about Chloe & Nigel getting out to wander the streets.

As for my big "Thank you - you guys rock!" second dinner? I froze it.. tee heee! The good thing is we're having a few people over for 4th of July and most of my prep is done and in the freezer just waiting to be thawed and grilled :D I simply threw the London Broil and the marinade in the freezer and after making 60 wantons, I froze them on a baking sheet and then put them in a freezer bag once they were frozen.

Regarding the Jack Daniels glazed ribs, Ilva asked in comments about whether she could use an Irish whiskey instead of Jack Daniels rye whiskey. Personally, I think this glaze is simply named after the Jack Daniels company because they came up with it? It's definitely not named Jack Daniels because you can taste the rye.. after this glaze cooks, you can taste no alcohol whatsoever. I think if you left the whiskey out completely, you'd never be able to tell a difference. This glaze became popular at a chain restaurant called TGIFriday's. I first had it about 8 years ago over their pork chops and I was instantly addicted. It's a sweet glaze with a nice zing that goes well with chicken, pork or beef. The main ingredients are dark brown sugar and pineapple juice with a small amount (surprising, eh?) of cayenne pepper to give it a kick that doesn't really hit you until you've had a few bites. I found the recipe on a copy-cat site that rocks, Top Secret Recipes, and they cloned this recipe to the T. It's not a hard glaze to make, but there are a lot of ingredients. Here's the thing though.. the following recipe is suppose to yield 1 cup of the glaze. But you must cook it for hours to get it to thicken up, therefore you don't get 1 full cup. I always double or triple the recipe. Saturday while it was cooking on my stovetop I noticed how much it had cooked down and panicked a little bit thinking I wouldn't have enough for the mountain of ribs I had to glaze, so I took it off the heat too soon which gave me a very thin glaze. I ended up serving some on the side for dipping because of it. If I were thinking, which I wasn't, I would have added a tablespoon of cornstarch to the teriyaki sauce before adding it.. which I think I'm going to do from here on out. So keep that in mind if you try it ;)

Jack Daniels' Ribs
Jack Daniels' Glazed Ribs

Yields 1 cup
1 head garlic
1 TBS. olive oil

2/3 c. water
1 c. pineapple juice
1/4 c. teriyaki sauce
1 TBS. soy sauce
1 1/3 c. dark brown sugar
3 TBS. lemon juice
3 TBS. minced white onion
1 TBS. Jack Daniels Rye
1 TBS. crushed pineapple
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 325º F.

Cut about 1/2" off of top of garlic. Cut the roots so that the garlic will sit flat. Remove the papery skin from garlic, but leave enough so that the cloves stay together. Put garlic in small casserole dish or baking pan, drizzle olive oil over it and cover with a lid or foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove garlic and let it cool until you can handle it.

Combine water, pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce & brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium/high heat. Stir occasionally until mixture boils, then reduce heat until mixture is just simmering.

Squeeze the sides of the head of garlic until the pasty roasted garlic is removed. Mash garlic with fork and then measure out 2 TBS. into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Add remaining ingredients to pan and stir.

Let mixture simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the glaze has reduced by about 1/2 and is thick and syrupy. Make sure it doesn't boil over.

My Note: Again.. think about thickening with a slurry of cornstarch with the teriyaki. I believe you'll get more glaze.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

What does 8 men, good food and a LOT of beer make?

My new fence! That's what they make!! WOOO!! Just a quick blurb to show you's the "so far" pictures of our brand new privacy fence. The fence party started yesterday with a rocky start. First off, my Hubbs' crew from Arkansas ended up having to work for the company yesterday and we didn't know if they were going to be able to make it over to help out or not. This was the good kick in the heiney that was needed to realized that people who have good intentions, may not be able to follow through because of unforseen circumstances and how you should really plan for that kind of outcome.. which we didn't. Oh no... Hubbs decided that he'd have so many guys here yesterday that he really didn't need to finish clearing out all the hedges and wild life that surrounded the old chain link fence. Being a dutifully nagging wifey, I kept telling him that the clearing of our small Amazon looking yard would be a day's work in itself.. but did he listen? Mmm hmmm.. moving on! Our faithful friend, Stump (yes that's his nickname which he prefers over his real name, Pat) showed up first and we were so grateful, as Stump has pretty much become a fence building master - he has put one up in his yard a few years ago (with the help of Hubbs) and helped a few other friends put theirs up. So I felt a little better knowing his expertise would make this process go a little more smoothly.

Of course there really wasn't much they could do by themselves other than to clear out the wild life and take down a section of the old chain link.. and just as they finished, two more guys showed up unexpectedly. They work with us but weren't on Hubbs' crew but they had heard about the fence party and just decided to come give a hand. Bless them. With their help the section that was wide open to our neighbor's yard could begin to get the posts set. Happily, a few hours later the whole crew showed up and after being fortified by some lil snackers I made (my cheesy sausage snackers and some chorizo & manchego quesadillas) and some frosty beverages.. all the posts were set and the frame work was done! Today they will fill in with the dog eared boards and install the gates. I'm so excited!

After all this hard work, I made them a huge dinner of Jack Daniels' glazed ribs on the grill, pasta salad, potato salad, broccoli slaw and a peanut butter gooey cake (one of the many variations of Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake), which I will post about another time. Tonight's "thank you so much you all rock!" dinner will be my London Broil, roasted potatoes, corn on the grill, left overs from yesterday and another Gooey Butter Cake that I'm going to concoct myself, as Paula says that ANY flavor can be done.. so we'll see if she's telling the truth ;)

Okay here are the pics and now I'm off to start preparing the snackers for their lunch break!

Going to hide the ugly neighbor's house.. teee!

6-24-06Fence (1)
Putting a fence on this side of the back yard will allow us to take down the ugly chainlink gate that the previous owners decided to install directly over the driveway, making using the garage for our vehicles impossible).

6-24-06Fence (3)
This is the back of the yard, where you can see what I mean about the "wildlife" that has taken over the chainlink fence. Because there is no space between the new fence and the neighbor's picket fence, they decided to just leave that section of the old chainlink and bring the new wood fence in a foot.. which I kind of like as I hope the ivy growing up and through will start to climb the new fence and grow over it. =)


Blog of the Week June 25, 2006

Another rather new to me blog entitled, Curiosity Killed the Cook is becoming a fast favorite of mine.. another delicious blog added to my morning routine of reading and salivating. This blog is written by a gal from Boston who is a vegetarian. I'm not big on vegetarian/vegan blogs, as well.. I'm a carnivore. I loves me my meat, yanno? With that said, I loves me my veggies as well and let me tell you, if I ever did decide to convert - this gal's blog would be my bible. Her vegetarian dishes have made my mouth water. She is definitely not your ordinary amateur chef. Her dishes are creative with flavor combinations that I'd never think of trying - that is until I've discovered them on her blog.

Okay so we've got a wonderful outlet for some extremely tasty and gorgeous looking vegetarian dishes, is that it? Oh hell no.. she's a baker too. Her cookies, cakes, scones, brownies, sweet breads and other assorted goodies are almost too much to take. She's also just starting to learn how to decorate cakes, which amazed me, as her first cake was absolutely gorgeous and reminded me so much of my first (bazillion) attempts - and by attempts, I mean failures - at decorating cakes. And by decorating I mean simply frosting. heee!

By now, my faithful handful of readers, you should know that along with terrific recipes, pretty pictures and "real" food, my other requirement to being a truly wonderful blog is that the writer has a good sense of humor.. I need to giggle, to feel the writer's pain and joy in their failures and victories. I like those blogs that not only make me want to read them to discover great recipes to try myself, but to also wonder how they are going to crack me up with each new discovery of their own. S.C. fits the bill perfectly. Her writing is wonderful and she hides no emotions when telling the tale of why she tried a recipe, what she went through to make the recipe and her feelings on the outcome of said recipe. There is one post (one of very many that I have enjoyed so very much, but one that I could truly relate to, so far in my reading) that I have to highlight here to show you just how funny this gal is.

Had enough to pique your interest yet? I'm not finished! So far we have delicious vegetarian dishes to discover, awesome baked goodies to drool over and a fantastic sense of humor to bring out those unsuspecting belly laughs, but there is also her quest to cook at least one recipe from all 243 (!) countries around the world. Hello? How cool is that? Especially for this gal who doesn't see herself travelling too far from the Armpit of the Midwest, now I can live vicariously through S.C.'s adventures! That just tickles me pink. =)

Okay kids.. if you haven't checked her out yet.. make Curiosity Killed the Cook the next stop on your culinary blog reading travels :D Hurry!


Friday, June 23, 2006

100 posts and a fantastic salad

Yay.. my 100th post! Too bad I discovered this at 3 in the morning, after waking up to an OMG I gotta pee! and Nigel! Stop licking my face, dammit! ordeal. gah. I'm too tired to be excited. Why didn't I just go back to bed? Dogs, that's why. Gawd forbid I wake up in the middle of the night for a drink of water or to get rid of some excess water without letting them go do the same. I suppose it's fair, but it's nights like this when I miss their kennel (even though I do love having them take up most of the bed, allowing me a 4" x 4" space somewhere in the upper left corner). Come to think of it, between Nigel, Chloe and Hubbs - it's amazing I get any sleep while being crammed into such a small space. Why the hell am I telling you all this?? Gah. Sleep.. soon.. *sigh*

I'm up now, at least for an hour before I'll be able to go back, so I wanted to post about my YUMMY dinner last night. I was checking out my favorite blogs yesterday morning at work, as I always do, and when I read Kevin's post about a mouthwatering Grilled Corn and Shrimp Salad I knew I had to make this to go with the steaks I had taken out for dinner. Ohhh and am I glad I did. This salad was fabulous. The grilling of the corn and shrimp added that extra smokey flavor that was perfect with the tenderloin steaks. Although this salad really was a perfect pairing with our steaks, the next time I make it I'll serve it as the main dish, such as Kevin did. Hubbs raved about it and I'm already thinking of the next time I can serve it with a good crusty garlic bread and a chilled glass of wine. Would tonight be too soon?

I apologize for my horrid picture.. it doesn't do justice to what a pretty salad this is. Please check out Kevin's post for a gorgeous picture of what the salad really looks like in all it's fabulous glory =)

Grilled Corn & Shrimp Salad
Grilled Corn & Shrimp Salad Courtesy of Kevin

3 ears of corn
1/4 cup (scant) olive oil, plus additional for brushing on corn and shrimp
1/2 lb. medium shrimp
1/2 sweet onion, chopped fine
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (See note)
1/4 c. loosely packed cilantro, chopped
3 TBS. fresh lemon juice
1 TBS. white wine vinegar
salt & pepper

Spinach or salad greens

Brush the corn with some olive oil and grill until corn browns and just starts to blister. Cool. Cut kernels from cobs and place corn into bowl.

Brush shrimp with olive oil and grill until just cooked through. Add shrimp along with onion, jalapeno and cilantro to the bowl with the corn.

In a seperate bowl, combine lemon juice, 1/4 cup (scant) olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over the corn mixture and stir until coated. Place spinach or salad greens on plates and spoon corn and shrimp mixture into center.

My note: Normally I end up changing this or that in a recipe to make it my own. This recipe looked so outstanding that I did not change a thing, therefore it's copied word for word from Kevin's site. I even added the jalapeno, Kevin!! Woo!! I just cut the membranes from it so the heat would be more mild - I really enjoyed it! teee!

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Confessions in Groups of 5

I'm so excited.. my very first meme! And not only tagged by the beautiful and talented Ilva of Lucullian Delights but also tagged by the equally beautiful and talented Ellie of Kitchen Wench! Awww, thanks for thinking of me gals! =)

5 items in the freezer

Butter - I always have frozen butter on hand. MY GOD.
Non-dairy creamer - If I were to wake up one day and not have cream for my coffee I'd probably hurl myself out a window. 'kay not really, but you see how important it is, yes?
Ice cream - What self respecting icecreamaholic would not have AT LEAST 2 pints of Haagen Dazs' Mayan Chocolate in their freezer??
Herbs - A lot of times I will have an over abundance of herbs, instead of letting them go bad in my veggie bin of the fridge, I package them loosely in freezer bags or submerge them in water in my ice cube trays and freeze 'em.
Meat - Oh you'll find beef, pork, poultry, fish, seafood.. yeah, it's a fully stocked frozen meats department conveniently located in my 3 (three!) freezers :D

5 items in my closet

Clothes - What'd ya think I was gonna say, "Sausage"?
Shoes - I'm slowly becoming a shoes hound.
Bed linens - My linen closet is too full with bath & misc. stuff :P
Dust Bunnies - One day I'll get around to cleaning those outta there.. or at least, naming them.
Birthday presents - Shhhhhhh!! It's my secret hiding place!

5 items in my car

CDs - Gotsta have me my music!
Umbrella - I insist on moving it from each old car to new car that I own, because you just never know when the day might come that I'll remember I have a flippin' umbrella and actually USE IT.
Assorted ice scrapers - Let's not forget I come from the land of blizzards.
Spare change - I've always got at least $5.00 in coins throughout my vehicle.

5 items in my purse

Nail polish
Lighters - One day I had no flame to light my cig ITWILLNEVERHAPPENAGAIN

Tag 5 people

Ali of Something So Clever
Laura Rebecca of Laura Rebecca's Kitchen
Kevin of ACME Instant Food
Ed of Is it EDible?
Emily of Biscuits and Blues


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Honey-Dijon Curry Chicken with Israeli Couscous

Following my cravings again.. I felt like baked chicken of some sort last night. I really, really wanted Hubbs' baked chicken, but that was one of his AWESOME dishes that he didn't write down what he did - therefore, it'll never happen again. *sigh* Eager to try my curry powder again, I decided to make one of my old standby's but with a kick (I had hoped). My Honey-Dijon baked chicken is pretty damn good, if I do say so myself, and I thought it might be made better with the addition of the curry. I was also hoping for that little spicy kick. Well the chicken turned out to be outstanding. The flavor was savory with a slight sweetness in the background and the curry really gave the chicken a depth of flavor that it hasn't had before. But no heat. I used TWO TABLESPOONS of the stuff.. nada. I definitely bought a sweet curry powder with no kick to it whatsoever. On one hand I'm okay with that, because the flavor it imparts is marvelous, but on the other hand, it's not what I thought I was buying. I absolutely need to get to the West Side Market or put that order into Penzey's that I keep meaning to do.

I paired the chicken with Israeli couscous with sauteed veggies and balsamic. It was the perfect compliment to the savory & sweet chicken.

Dijon-Honey Curry Chicken w/Couscous
Honey-Dijon Curry Chicken with Israeli Couscous

For the Chicken
4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
2 TBS. curry powder

For the Couscous
1 c. Israeli couscous
2 c. chicken stock
2 TBS. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. bell pepper, diced (I used an orange bell)
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 c. grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 TBS. Balsamic vinegar
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Place chicken thighs in a shallow baking pan, skin side up.

Combine melted butter, honey, Dijon, salt & curry powder in medium bowl. Pour over chicken thighs. Bake for 75 minutes, basting chicken every 15-20 minutes. This will give your chicken crispy skin. *swoon*

While your chicken is cooking, bring 2 cups of chicken stock to a bowl then add the couscous. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and turn off heat, let sit until ready to add vegetables.

In a skillet, saute garlic, onions, peppers and tomato halves in 2 TBS. olive oil until lightly browned and the tomatoes are shriveled. Fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer it to a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Add the sauteed veggies, mixing well. Add the fresh basil and mix well. Top the couscous with the 2 TBS. balsamic and give it a slight stir. (Just enough so it's not pooled on top) Bake, uncovered, for the last 20 minutes of cooking time for the chicken.

When everything is done, grate the Parmigiano over the couscous while it's still warm. Serve.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

First Catch of the Season

It's so good to have fisherfriends! Especially when they are nice enough to share their score of Lake Erie Walleye :D This is actually Lake Erie Perch season, but our friend ended up finding a school of hungry Walleye during his day out on the lake. Although I prefer Perch to Walleye on any given day - Walleye is still VERY delicious and I am not one to complain when someone is nice enough to think about us and willing to share their catch.. oh hell no!

Hubbs wanted pan fried fish and instead of my normal breading of just plain flour seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper - I remembered the box of Panko sitting in my pantry that I haven't cooked with yet. Panko is an Asian style bread crumb, not as fine as your normal everyday bread crumbs and I don't believe they are toasted. What they do is give whatever it is you are coating an unbelieveable crunch that has made me decide to use them whenever any bread crumb is called for. Delish! I'm just sorry I let them sit for so long before experimenting with them.

This fish was moist and delicate in flavor and the goldeny brown crunchy goodness on the outside was extremely satisfying. It only takes a small amount of oil to fry fish in so I don't feel to incredibly bad about yet another fried dinner.. teeee! (I can rationalize anything to make myself feel better *grin*)

First Walleye of the Season
Pan Fried Walleye using Panko

4 large fillets of the freshest Walleye (or Perch) you can get your hands on
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 TBS. garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten and seasoned
1 1/2 c. Panko
About a 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in skillet (I used canola oil)

Heat oil in skillet.

In a shallow bowl, combine flour, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Place the Panko in another shallow bowl. Finally, the beaten eggs in a third shallow bowl.

Dredge the fillets in the flour mixture first, then the eggs and finally the Panko.

Depending on size of your skillet, place 2 to 4 fillets in the hot oil and fry each side for about 3 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the fish is flaky.

Drain excess oil on paper towels.

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A beauty it was.. all crispedy on the outside, fresh bready goodness on the inside - about a week ago. I had failed to utilize this loverly loaf of bread as I had planned and now I was stuck with an almost rock hard paperweight. Okay, well not exactly. I had been craving Panzanella with an unbridled passion so I might have abandoned my loaf all week but it was with a purpose. I just didn't think that I'd end up waiting a whole damn week to satisfy that craving. Go figure.

A true Panzanella is not made with croutons - it's made with a day old loaf of good crusty country type of Italian white bread that is torn up into bite size pieces and soaked in water for a bit before added to a salad of tomatoes and onions - all doused in a delicious mixture of vinegars and olive oil. That true version is what I was raised upon courtesy of my dad. Although fantastically delicious, I tend to prefer a more crispy and chewy bread in this salad, so I normally dice up my bread, toss it in olive oil with salt and pepper and then bake it to achieve that crispedy goodness. When the dressing of my salad soaks into the newly made croutons they stay crispy yet they develop a good chew - which is really what makes me crave Panzanella, as I don't normally use croutons in my every day salads.

Yesterday's Panzanella was way different. It's not tomato season here yet, so finding a good tasting tomato to be the star (next to the croutons, of course!) wasn't going to happen AND I had myself a fridge full of yummy salad fixings that were calling out to me. This delightful lunch of mine was more like a chop salad with home made croutons, rather than a Panzanella - so I dub thee, Chopzanella. :D

Chopzanella cu
Summer "Chopzanella"

For the Croutons
1 loaf of crusty white bread (I used French bread as it looked so much better than the Italian that was offered at my store)
Olive oil (Enough to coat the bread but not soak it completely)
1 tsp. garlic powder (Optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Dressing
1/2 cup of good extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of a good, aged balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. garlic salt

Grape tomatoes
Onions, sliced (Red onions are the best, but I only had green onions)
Baby cucumbers, rough dice (Or if particularly small, sliced)
Yellow Bell Pepper, rough dice
Orange Bell Pepper, rough dice
Fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Slice the bread in about 1/2 inch slices, then dice each slice to bite size. In a large bowl, combine the bread, EVOO, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes, or until a light golden brown.

In the same large bowl you used to coat the bread, place your chopped veggies and parsley.

In a container that has a tight lid, pour the olive oil and balsamic. Shake vigorously until emulsified. Or you can do this with a whisk, but I find shaking is more fun :D

Once the croutons are ready, throw a good amount of them in with the veggies and sprinkle the 2 tsps. garlic salt over, then the emulsified EVOO & vinegar. Toss thoroughly.

Plate the salad, trying not to horde all the croutons as you will get yelled at by your Hubbs. :D Enjoy!

If you can restrain yourself, unlike myself, let the dressed salad sit for an hour so the croutons can soak up the yumminess.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

What to do before things go bad

You make baked penne of course! I had a situation last night. Hubbs went out to farm land last week to visit his brother. On his way back he stopped in at his favorite butcher out in those parts and bought 3 pounds of the best sweet italian sausage in alla world. Made from an Amish man ;) When he got home he froze 2 packages and left one in the fridge as a subtle hint, I guess. hehee

What he forgot to tell me was that it was in there. I discovered it yesterday morning and realized I needed to come up with something pretty quick before it went bad. Normally we use this delicious sausage on my pizzas, but there was no time yesterday morning to whip up a batch of dough and sauce.. so I went to the dungeon thinking about what I could do with it.

Apparently my cravings haven't caught up with summer yet, because the only thing that sounded really good was some sort of baked pasta dish - yanno.. something hearty that sticks to your ribs and warms you up after a freezing day of Ohio blizzard? Oh well.. making the baked pasta dish would help me to use up a good amount of cheese that I had laying in the dairy drawer of the fridge as well as the sausage.

Although not a light summery dinner.. this was fabulous and has become a definite keeper. Not only was it extremely tasty but it's one of those dishes that I just threw stuff in and hoped for the best. When those dinners turn out excellent, I get happy happy! I love when I don't use a recipe.. and I don't know why I don't do that more often. Well I guess it's mainly because there are sooooo many spectacular recipes out there that I just need to try, eh?! :)

Alrighty then.. I was thinking layered lasagna like.. but I wanted to use up some of the Penne in the pasta cupboard. I wanted to incorporate some of my fresh herbs and I had just enough of my marinara thawed out waiting to be used up. Perfect!

The fresh basil added the freshness and herbiness I was looking for, the penne was cooked al dente for that bite I was going for, the sausage - oh yeah, the sausage - well the sausage wasn't sweet italian as I had expected! Dear Hubbs, apparently was in a rush when purchasing and didn't realize he had bought your basic pork sausage with no seasonings. hehee! It was still the best sausage I've had, I just got to use up more of my herbies from my pot along with some dried herb. I added fresh basil & parsley and dried oregano. Turned out great! I had a loaf of french bread that I was allowing to go stale for Panzanella this weekend, but decided to heat it up in the oven the last 10 minutes of baking time and I had oven fresh bread slathered in creamy Amish butter to go with.. serious Yum! :D

Baked Penne & Sausage before
Baked Penne & Sausage

8 oz. penne
1.5 lbs. sweet italian sausage*
2 TBS. + 2 tsp. fresh basil, rough chopped and divided
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small or 1/2 of a large vidalia onion, small diced
15 oz. pkg. of ricotta cheese
2 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
2-2 1/2 c. marinara sauce
2 c. shredded cheese (I used a four cheese italian "crumble" mix)

Preheat oven to 350º F.

In a large skillet start to brown the sausage, when it's almost done, drain excess grease and add onions and garlic; continue to cook until sausage is browned, onions are almost translucent and garlic is fragrant. About 5 more minutes.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, salt well. Add Penne and cook for about 7 minutes or until al dente. Drain.

Chop the basil roughly and set aside. Mix the 2 tsp. of basil, 1 tsp. parsley and 1 tsp. of dried oregano with the ricotta cheese, set aside.

Once the penne and sausage are cooked, start your layering by first covering the bottom of an 8" x 8" Pyrex baking dish with the 1/3 of the marinara. Then add 1/2 of the basil. Follow with 1/2 of the sausage and a few good dollops of 1/2 of the ricotta cheese mixture. Spread the cheese over the sausage. Finally sprinkle 1 cup of the shredded cheese on top. Continue layering in this manner once more, excluding the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese and 1/3 c. of remaining marinara. Over the last layer of the ricotta mixture, spread the remaining marinara. Sprinkle with remaining basil and shredded cheese.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and turns golden brown. Serve with a nice salad and good crunchy italian or french bread.

Baked Penne & Sausage after :)

*To give the plain pork sausage an italian taste, I added 1 TBS. fresh basil, 1 TBS. fresh parsley and 1 tsp. dried oregano along with the onions and garlic.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My kitchen missed me almost as much as I missed her :)

Awwww.. I got to spend time with her tonight. No planting.. No grilling.. just glorious one on one time with my dear friend, Kitchen. I have not cooked anything new since, what? The night Hubbs came home? That was a week ago today! I've cooked for him every night since then, but everything I've made were things I tried while he was gone - therefore, blogged about!

Anyhoo, I made a promise to myself that I was going to try to slowly get into this "heat" thing that seems to be all the rage with the rest of the free world. After asking a few people which dish I should make to ease into this adventure, I was told a curry would be a good way to make something where I could really control the spice. I found two recipes that looked outstanding (how could they not.. created by two outstanding people!) and perfect for my first curry dish. Now which one to make first? Well I ended up going with Marianne's recipe for Creamy Roasted Vegetable Curry because I did not grocery shop this week and didn't have the coconut milk to make Kevin's Chicken with Coconut Curry Sauce. But now that I've had my first curry.. oh yes.. I will be purchasing that coconut milk for my second variation of such a tasty lil spice dish!

The Creamy Roasted Vegetable Curry was absolutely delicious. It was tangy and robust, and there was just a hint of sweetness from the roasted carrots and orange bell pepper. The rice was a perfect compliment and Hubbs agreed. My only disappointment was that there was no heat whatsoever. This is not the recipe or recipe author's fault, it was mine. I used a heaping teaspoon of curry powder and tasted the sauce. I thought I detected a slight burn, so I added another heaping teaspoon full and tasted again. My lips and mouth did not immediately turn into a firery inferno as I had expected, but now I was in a quandry. Do I add even more curry? Am I pushing this too far? Will yet another heaping teaspoonful push the heat level over the edge where I won't be able to eat dinner tonight? When I pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies and heat it all through, will the flavors develop then and wake up the heat? It was a scary proposition - I was starving! So I opted to just leave it alone at 2 heaping teaspoonfuls. I should have went for more. There was no heat, but the flavor of this dish was just spectacular. I will make this again and I will start with a tablespoon of curry and then go from there.

When I imagined cooking this dish for Hubbs, I thought I'd be able to get to the farmer's market on the West side where there is a nice spice store to buy my curry powder. Unfortunately, I never made it out there so I picked up some McCormick curry powder. It is yellow in color. Did I buy a sweet curry powder? Wouldn't it have said "sweet" on the label? Or really, does it take a large amount of the stuff to bring on the heat? Or maybe McCormick just has crappy spices. I need opinions and advice, please! :D Please keep in mind, regular everyday black pepper causes my lips to go numb and my nose to run.. so it's not like I'm immune to spices lol

Roasted Vegetable & Chicken Curry cu
Creamy Roasted Vegetable Curry

Recipe written by Marianne as found on The Unemployed Cook

1 boneless chicken breast, cubed* (I used 3 small breasts)
2 medium carrots, chopped*
1 red or orange pepper, chopped*
1 medium leek (white and light green part), sliced*
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
4 oz. sliced bamboo shoots
4 oz. sliced water chestnuts
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, cubed*
.5 cup reduced fat sour cream (I doubled the sauce so I used 1 c.)
1 Tbsp oyster-flavored sauce (I used 2 TBS.)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (Again, 2 TBS.)
curry powder (or paste), to taste (I used 2 heaping tsps. of the powder only)
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup cooked rice, any variety

*I chopped all of these into about the same smallish bite-size. I wanted to be sure that you could get several flavors into each bite, and it worked really well. If you chop into a larger dice, you will need to adjust cook times.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the potato chunks in a little olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and place them in a baking dish. Roast them for 10 minutes, since they take a little longer to cook than the other vegetables. Toss the pepper, carrot, and leek in a bit more olive oil and salt, and add them to the pan with the par-roasted potatoes. Roast for 30 minutes more, until tender and just beginning to brown around the edges. The leeks might get a little more brown than everything else, but they are crispy and wonderful. I kind of want to eat roasted leeks every day now. I agree with Marianne, the crispedy leaks were delish! :)

Back on track, set aside your roasted vegetables. Season your chicken with a little salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat up a splash or two of olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken chunks on all sides, then reduce heat to medium. Add the garlic, shoots, and water chestnuts, saute for about 1 minute, until warmed through and fragrant. Be careful to not burn the garlic.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and curry paste/powder (Marianne used a combination of the two). Adjust curry seasonings to desire spice level, and add a splash of water to thin. Pour over the chicken mixture, toss well to combine. Add mushrooms and roasted vegetables to the pan, toss several times to coat in the sauce. Cook for about 2 minutes more, until everything is warmed through and the sauce has thickened slightly. Serve over rice.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

No, I haven't cooked yet

When we bought this house the previous owners were a bit, uhmm.. spastic? regarding their planting. It seemed that either the lady or gentleman of the house liked to buy hedges and rose plants and just dig a hole randomly all over the front yard and front beds. I wish I had taken a picture of what it looked like before so you could really understand what I mean be spastic. We moved in at the end of May in 2003 and one of the first jobs I gave hubbs was to tear out the rose plants (I'm just not a rose lover) and the hedges so we could plant what we liked. After all of the painting and minor repairs were done in the house, it was my job to put the inside of the house together and his job to make the outside look pretty. Hubbs and I dated for a few years before living together and he always told me about his gorgeous lawns and award winning beds, so I felt more than comfortable allowing him to do his creative thing outside.

With that said.. imagine my shock and utter surprise when I went outside to see what he had accomplished. It had looked as if the previous owners' spirits had taken over Hubbs' body because he planted everything in a total mish-mosh way. There was no balance at all. I am a balance freak, people. I'm also thinking I must have some kind of compulsive manic disorder because when things aren't balanced.. I shake. I can't look at it. I start to sweat. I can't stop thinking about whatever it is that isn't balanced until it's finally balanced. I'm weird, eh?

But what to do? He spent hours working out there and he seemed pleased with his work. I did a good job keeping a smile on my face while he was giving me the tour but that was only because my mouth went dry and my lips were stuck to my teeth. Which, really? I'm thankful for. I didn't want to tell him that this was wrong, all terribly wrong. I wanted to just get over my silliness and be happy that all the pretty flowers were planted and there were no more hedges and rose plants. So I kept my mouth shut and thanked him for a job well done. I made it through that summer without spontaneously combusting into a pile of unbalanced ash.

That's as far as I made it.. I started making comments the following summer. Little things said here and there. Still, I controlled myself to not go batshit crazy and go out there and tear up the two beds. I did my thing and weeded and mulched. It was this spring that I just couldn't hold back any longer and I asked him if he'd be willing to move some plants around because the unbalance of the beds was truly killing me inside. teeeee! Thankfully, he didn't get upset and actually agreed with me that they were looking a "bit" off as the hostas had gotten huge and took up most of the space on the right side. Phew - thank you hostas! So yesterday we got to work. We moved every single plant to a more balanced and serene layout. And we started to make a bed in the backyard bigger. We didn't finish until about 7:30 and we've still got mulching to do sometime this week. Next weekend is the job of taking all the hedges out of the back yard to prepare for the new wood privacy fence. Wooo Hooo!

Here are a few pictures of some of the new plants we purchased. And the herbs.. the glorious herbs :D

Gerber Daisies
Gerber daisies for my tiny wagon

Way cool autumny colored plant that I don't know the name of!
The glorious fall leaf looking plant I was telling you about - isn't it gorgeous?

The top of my strawberry pot has basil and sage

parsley/lemon verbena/cilantro
This side shows italian flat leaf parsley, lemon verbena and cilantro

And this side shows chives, dill and thyme

Tiger lilies
And these are my Tiger Lilies.. they really took off this year, look at all the blooms! Yay!

Okay well there are more on my Flickr account if you want to peruse them.. I think if you just click on one of the above pictures it'll take you there. Have any of you seen that autumn leafy looking plant before? It's a perennial and someone at the nursery told me that it lasts year round. I'm wondering what it looks like during the winter?

Alrighty, am a happy floral'd camper now. I can get back to cooking this week! I miss my kitchen :)


Sunday, June 11, 2006

WDB #38

Awww Nigel's giving his little seester kisses :D Okay really they're play/fighting.. but a Mom can see the love, right? tee heee!
Check out the rest of the gang tonight at Sweetnicks!


That's right.. you can call me Annie.. Annie Oakley that is :)

Holy crap I need to buy me a shotgun, ASAP. Oh yes my friends.. I had a blast! I am the master of skeet shooting!! WOOOOOOO!!

Okay so the day started off as per usual.. bust me arse to get to Kim's on time - where I did a lot of standing around and helped set up for their garage sale, while waiting on the rest of the girls to get there. Then the babies woke up.. so Auntie Lisa had to go in and say good morning and get hugs.. unfortunately, I didn't get any hugs as the boys are quite shy when they wake up. But I did get projectile vomited on! YEAH! Way to start the day :D

We ended up being 20 minutes late (no shocker there, quite frankly) and missed out on breakfast but just in time to register while they were taking the group photo so I got outta that.. teeee! First class was handguns. I wasn't really psyched about it.. especially since I was so nervous and really wished I could have eased into the day with Pet First Aid or Outdoor Cooking.. but whatcha gonna do? So there are 2 of us from our group and 3 other ladies. One in particular.. she was just about crying because she was so deathly afraid of guns. They asked her to hold one to get the feel of it and she SQUEALED like a friggin stuck pig. She took hold of it and the instructor was trying to get her to understand how IMPORTANT it was to always point to gun straight up in the air or down the target site. Oh hell no.. she's nodding her head in agreement and swinging that fakkin thing around like nobody's business. All I could do was watch and silently pray that I'd live through this ordeal. Then they wanted me to stand next to her at the target line. Fakkkkk no. I refused. I lied and said something about the sun in my eyes and moved to the opposite end of the line. After about 5 minutes of "safety" talk we began shooting. We shot .22 gauge handguns, mine was Ruger if that makes any difference.. it was heavier than hell and it didn't feel comfortable in my hand at all. Our targets were bulleye's on a piece of flimsy 8 x 11 paper stapled to a split wood fence. It took me several tries to even hit the paper, I kept shooting down.. apparently I was trying to force the recoil, whatever the hell that means. So after, maybe, the 4th round of shooting, I finally found my spot and hit the target consecutively. I even managed to get a few holes in the black center. Party on. Didn't thrill me at all, and pretty much the only thing I could think about was how bad my arms were shaking with the weight of the gun and how on God's green earth my instructor could have eaten onions and dog feces for breakfast. Gawd.

The best part (NOT) of handguns was when I was standing there aiming my gun at the target, concentrating on getting the lil site on the end of the gun to line up with the bottom band of the bullseye and all of a sudden something flew my way and hit me in the cheek. I just about dropped a load in my pants. Thought for sure I had been hit by the psycho women down the line and was ready to hit the deck and start crying for my mommie. And my lawyer. Well come to find out after one fire's the gun, the lil shell thingie plinks out the side of the gun. Do you think they could of informed us of this lil detail?? Especially those of us who had never shot a damn gun before?? I thought I was getting ready to meet my maker for crissakes!

Next up was Pet First-Aid. Our instructor was a vet's tech who had been taking care of animals for over 20 years. She was so nice and so very informative. I really enjoyed this class because I asked her a couple questions that I had asked my vet in the past and didn't get good answers to. She was different and really took the time to explain to me what I wanted to know. Which was great, because I tend to freak out at the smallest of things gone wrong when it comes to my dogs, especially Nigel. I learned how to give pet CPR, what to do in case of heat stroke, what to do if one of my animals swallows medication they shouldn't be swallowing, what to do when Chloe turns completely evil and not like herself and decides to jump up on the counter and help herself to a chicken wing (ugh), what common plants are poisonous and the correct rates of breathing, heart beat and temperature for both my dogs and my cat. I really, really enjoyed that class.

Third class was my favorite.. FAV.OR.ITE! Skeet shooting. Oh yeah baby.. what a rush! Our instructors were a couple of park rangers and some old timer shot gun enthusiasts. They were so great, so nice and so easy to learn from. AND they were totally impressed with my shotgunning abilites. Called me a natural, yes they did. At first, I was a bit intimidated and more than slightly embarrassed. Intimidated because I was thinking how badly my arms shook holding the little handgun and how would I react to this huge shotgun thing? Embarrassed because the instructor took one look at my uhmm.. rather ample.. chest area and asked the whole class if anyone felt they might need a shotgun for "shorter" arms. Yes, my dear, dear friends all looked over at me and pointed. *sigh* Stop laughing. I'll have you know he gave me the "normal" armed shotgun and the only thing that wouldn't reach was my finger from the hold to the trigger, so my arms are of normal length dammit. I've just got a slightly shorter index finger. :P So I was made fun of for the rest of the day.. here, you can join in on the fun.. extend your arms, now fold them back in towards your shoulders, so they are at chest level. Now shake your upper torso so just your hands flap. There feel better? You can walk around all day like that asking me if I want to fight. Women are so cruel.

But enough of that! Our whole group made up this class, which was perfect - no strangers. They split us up into 2 groups of 4, my group went first. I was second in line to shoot. Jenn was first - Jenn's been shooting since she was 8.. so her first shot was dead on and the lil clay pigeon died a quick and painless death. I'm up.. I was showed how to hold the gun and how to stand to ease the brunt of the recoil. I kinda felt like a tard, but I was determined not to crap my pants during this class. I was told that I should yell "Pull!" when I was comfortable. I stood there for a minute trying to figure out where the hell the target was going to fly and realized I was kidding myself if I thought I was going to figure this out beforehand, so I just yelled "Pull!" but it came out more like a whisper and nothing happened. Dear instructor leaned closer to my ear and said I'd have to use my "outdoors" voice. Smartass. I yelled it again, this time louder and the damn thing came flying out of this huge green box at like 90 gazillion m.p.h. The thing had already landed somewhere in Canada before I pulled the trigger. Yep that first shot was something to behold. The recoil wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be thankfully. Line moved on and I waited for my next turn.. again, not such great results although the instructors were just gushing over my stance.. how perfect it was and how great I was following that target! It must be the wind that's preventing me from breaking that thing into a million pieces! I really loved how they were such great bullshitters. :D Anyhoo.. third try was the charm.. I found my groove and hit the target each time thereafter. We probably did about 20 rounds. I was so impressed with the whole thing and myself. Who woulda thunk it? heheeee! Today I have a huge bruise on my shoulder and I can't quite get my arm up over my head, but those small inconveniences are well worth the rush I got every time that thing exploded in my arms. I definitely want to skeet shoot again one day!

Finally the last class was Outdoor Cooking and it was so incredibly lame that I'm not gonna waste much time on it.. they had us make "pizzas" in pie irons (because that's what the settlers prolly ate, right? Stoopid. They showed us a cast iron dutch oven and an aluminum cooking set that folded up into itself for easy carrying. woo. Our instructor was a 19ish year old, quivering boyscout. He spent most of his lecture arguing with a women (we thought it might be his mother) about what troop number he belonged to. Pie irons are cool.. but not what I was thinking would be a course in "primitive cooking", yanno? Bleh.

All in all though, the classes were informative, well organized and quite fun. I enjoyed being outside all day and got my first sunburn of the season (first of many, I'm sure!). The gals I went with are total sweeties and I always have fun with them, so I knew even if the classes sucked, I'd probably still end up having a good time. I won a door prize, which was a bonus.. a Ruger travel mug and bandanna, no less! I'll be sporting that soon! There were awesome raffles at the end of the day. You could buy tickets during the day and then walk around and put your tickets in the jug for whichever package you wanted to win.. you could put all of your tickets in one jug or spread them out.. the packages weren't chintzy either. I put my tickets in a few things but concentrated the bulk on the dog package.. which I estimated to be well worth at least $200.00. They had a package for each class offered so everyone found something they wanted to try to win. They also had a silent auction, which I didn't partake in - but even those items where high end and not something you'd find at the local flea mart. Really, it was a great event and the organizers did a fabulous job. I'll be going again.. that's for sure :D

Hubbs is calling from the living room.. "I'm hungry!" so it's time to slap the steaks on the grill.. I'll post the flower pictures tomorrow morning. Also, there might be pictures from yesterday's event.. I forgot my camera (so pissed myself off) but a couple of the gals brought disposables and they said they'd scan 'em after they got them developed. 'kay, off to do my wifely duties! :D


Blog of the Week June 11, 2006

Blog of the Week is slightly changing, folks. Because I truly enjoy the food blogs I've blogged about in the past, I find that reading each of them every day kind of prevents me from finding new blogs to enjoy. This is NOT a bad thing. In my humble opinion my blogroll is the cream of the crop and I wouldn't trade not one of them in for something new :D These guys and gals are truly inspiring to me and I consider a few of these people to be my friends, although I've never met them in person, I find myself from time to time wondering what they are up to, if they are having a good day, what they are planning for dinner *grin* and how will they dazzle me next? I wake up each morning looking forward to a good cup of coffee and the opportunity to learn something new about these fabulous people who I have come to care about very much.

With that said and a big virtual group hug for my "friendternets" (thanks to Melissa for the term), this week's blog of the week is going to feature someone who I've discovered recently and who has blown me away with his creativity. Stephen of Stephen Cooks is an amateur chef, who cooks for enjoyment, his lovely wife and for the love of entertaining good friends. His recipes are all original (unless otherwise noted), and fantastically creative. His blog almost looks as if you are reading from a professional chef's diary - as his pictures are amazing and his flavor combinations are awe-inspiring. But the food is hearty, every day items that the rest of us can appreciate and enjoy ourselves.

Go have a look for yourselves, I really think Stephen Cooks - What's for Dinner? will impress you as much as he impressed me.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

The things I do for my friends and other assorted gems...

It's 4:30 in the morning. My alarm clock woke me at 3:30. I am off to an outdoorsey "hands-on" crafty-like school today. I'm going to learn how to cook over an open campfire, the cowboy way! I'm going to learn pet first-aid, skeet shooting and how to handle a handgun. I'm going to learn self-defense! Me! Lis from the suburbs. Har! I'm questioning my sanity right now. My dearest friend in all the world, Kim, has been bugging me to join her and her sisters and a few other friends for months now in this outdoorsey womanly event. Did I mention skeet shooting and handguns? I'm gonna end up poking my damn eye out! Or worse yet.. someone else's. I'm nervous. I'm excited (kinda). I'm wondering what kind of bugs there will be and how exactly am I going to plate and photograph the food without people asking me what the hell I am doing? I can no longer cook without taking pictures! I don't like guns! Lord.. this is going to be quite the day. And the best part? They don't allow sandal wearing. Hello? It's summer and my toes are simply looking divine with their beauteous pink polish. Course I guess that a shoe that covers my piggies might be better if there are going to be GUNS in the vicinity.

Wish me luck! I'm gonna need it!

Also.. we went flower shopping last night.. unfortunately I was so dead tired when we got home that I didn't take pictures of all the pretties like I had intended. Hubbs is going to start to plant today while I'm gone and tomorrow we are going to finish it together, I'll take pics then.. simply because I know you won't be able to sleep until you see :D I got my herbs for my strawberry pot - am so happy! Fresh herbs that I will be nurturing instead of paying $3.00 a pop for! Yay! Also, I got this fabulous plant that I've never seen before (actually 3 of them) I don't know exactly how to describe it other than it looks like a plant covered in fall leaves.. the colors are scrumptious, all orange and mauve and gold and reddish-purple. It's magnificent and I hope they like our soil and live for many years to come.

Okay.. I gotta get ready for combat.. erhmm.. I mean a fun filled day with the girls. Ugh. Hopefully, I'll still be here tomorrow so I can post! heheeee

Prayer people.. lots of prayers for me and my less than graceful self. Gah.


Thursday, June 08, 2006


Normally, I don't pass along much that's controversial. I'm usually the silent rage type that does what she's gotta do for what she believes in without shoving it done other people's throats. But since reading this post on Laura Rebecca's Kitchen I can't stop thinking about it.

This is just another instance of corporate america trying to dictate to us the consumer how to live our lives. Not even so much as dictating as forcing us to live by their rules - rules that make them richer and us well.. quite less rich. It's complete and total bullshit. I don't shop at Walmart that often, but the last time I went? Was the last time I'll ever spend money there. We the consumer like the idea of buying produce and meat that has not be raised on chemicals.. some chemicals that have been proven to cause certain types of cancer. Yes, these products are much better for the health of the public, and I'm all for it - and prepared to pay a higher price for it if that means that these products are grown and raised in a responsible manner. But what Walmart is trying to do is to only buy from shoddy organic "farmers". I use the word "farmers" loosely here. These are the cost cutting people who will do whatever it takes to bring their product to the table at the cheapest cost possible - regardless of what that takes. That's what Walmart is buying. Walmart is going to push out responsible farmers who take great care in what they grow or raise. And Walmart can get away with it because it's the leading grocer in America.

What makes Walmart different from companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon? The huge communication corporations that are trying to force what we can and can not view on the internet. The only difference is the products these corporations sell. They are nothing but bullies. They are the equivalent to those bullies who threaten and physically harm the weaker kids on the playground for their lunch money. We are those weaker kids, people!

I'm sorry.. I won't go on and blubber about this. I'm just so tired of being told how I'm to live my life. Organic foods and the internet may be small, even insignificant, parts of life in general.. but if this is where it starts.. where will it end?


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Scallops with Capers and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Hubbs is home =) He finally pulled in around 5:30 last night. His originally scheduled ETA was suppose to be around 2 yesterday afternoon, but thanks to one of the drivers in the convoy taking a few wrong turns and a huge construction backup, his trip was prolonged. Which really didn't shock me.. considering the job was suppose to be done at the end of April, why wouldn't an extra 3.5 hours of drive time be a surprise, eh? Anyhoo.. it's over, he's home and I'm relieved and quite happy!

After he recovered from almost being licked to death by the dogs, we sat and chatted a bit on the deck as he was surveying the back yard. The overgrown grass, the still covered pond, those lil f'in maple tree "helicoper" thingies that were EVERYWHERE. I could see his mind racing with everything that had to be done. Thankfully, I got outside a couple weeks ago and cleaned out the beds as best I could, and his brother came over to help plant the garden and he mowed a few times.. but the work to be done outside is quite monumental. He's never had to deal with all of this as he's one of the first in the neighborhood to start on the yard work after a long fall & winter. You know, the weirdo up the street who is wearing his winter coat, gloves and hat mowing the lawn and weed-eating? Mmm hmm.. that's my Hubbs. It was kinda comical watching his eyes dart here and there while pretending to carry on a conversation with me.. teeee! So I asked if he wanted to take a walk around the two yards to check out what flowers have bloomed so far. I thought he would trip over Nigel the way he jumped out of that chair with a squeal in his voice, "OKAY!" hahaaa!

After the quick walk and a short visit with the neighbors (ugh) he got this look on his face and I knew what the evening was going to consist of. So I told him I'd go in and start dinner as he was longingly looking at his garage. Yep, after 11 hours of driving the man got out his blower and took care of the helicopter thingies and then he mowed. He wanted to start weeding but I told him dinner was done. Sheesh! lol

One of his favorite seafoods is scallops. So scallops it was last night. I don't really make them too often, not sure why because I love them too, so I don't have many recipes for them.. this one I found on Epicurious and it was delicious. The sauce that's created with just a few ingredients and the liquid given off by the scallops was scrumptious. I was going to serve this with sun-dried tomato risotto.. which I didn't remember until after I had peeled, cut and started frying the potatoes and onions. I don't even recall giving fried potatoes a thought when I was figuring out what to make for dinner yesterday.. must be habit when I cook for Hubbs? He definitely likes his potatoes. Well the scallop recipe is definitely a keeper, it was heavenly.

Scallops with Capers and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Scallops with Capers and Sun-dried Tomatoes

2 TBS. olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, pressed - (I minced)
1 tsp. minced lemon peel - (I grated with the microplane)
12 sea scallops - (as if that'd be enough for him.. I used 2 pounds of large sea scallops and the sauce, as is, was plenty)
2 TBS. minced, drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 TBS. drained capers
2 TBS. fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried, crumbled - I used 1/4 tsp. Herbs de Provence but I wish I had upped it to 1/2 tsp.
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and lemon peel and saute 30 seconds. Add scallops and saute until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer scallops to bowl using slotted spoon. Add sun-dried tomatoes, capers, lemon juice and thyme to same skillet. Boil until liquid (The scallops will give off a lot of juice) thickens, adding any accumulated juices from the scallops in the bowl to skillet, about 2 minutes. Add butter and whisk until just melted. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Return scallops to skillet and stir just until heated through. Transfer scallops and sauce to plates and serve.

All I did for the potatoes was semi-peel and quarter about 1 lb. of new red potatoes, slice about 1/2 of a vidalia onion and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Fried them in 2 TBS. of olive oil with salt & pepper until they were nicely browned then finished them with a good sprinkle of fresh clipped chives and chopped parsley.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Taco'd Corncakes

He's FINALLY on his way home! Yay! Hubbs left Arkansas yesterday and by 10:30 last night he was just passing Memphis. So today ends my 3 month bachelorette party. teeee! Well considering bachelorette parties consist of lots of alcohol and male strippers, I guess mine failed miserably. Maybe I should refer to these past 3 months as my Cook Like a Mad Woman party? I'm so glad he's finally going to be home, I really did miss him tremendously. And wow.. his "honey-do" list is like 4 pages long. I look at it as showing him how much he's really appreciated. lol

So for my final meal for one I was feeling a lil creative, but not very energetic. I wanted something different but nothing that was going to take me 2 hours to prepare. I was feeling a lil saucy.. a lil south of the border, if you will. I went searching through my pantry to see what I had that was quick to make and discovered a package of Chi Chi's Corncake mix that I had bought a month or so ago. For those of you not familiar, Chi Chi's was a mexican chain restaurant that was hugely popular before they served tainted onions that, I believe, killed someone. They soon went bankrupt and they all closed up. Chi Chi's was popular for their chips and salsa and their corncake, which is basically cornbread but made with creamed corn to create a more moist and dense "cake". They were delicious and served as a side dish to their entrees.

After reading the ingredients on the package, I was quite happy to see that it was basically a little bag of cornmeal with some baking soda and baking powder added to the mix. You add water, melted butter and a can of creamed corn. So I'll definitely try to make my own next time, which is good because I have a boatload of cornmeal I bought for a recipe of polenta I tried a few weeks back.

As for the Taco'd part.. well I cheated there as well. I'd love to say that I got out my cumin and chili powder, but no. I opened up a lil package of Taco Bell taco seasoning. And there you have it.. my two main components to last night's dinner.

It was pretty good. The corncakes turned out just as I remember them, although Chi Chi's served them scooped in two little heaps on the sides of their plates, the mix called for baking it in a loaf pan and it doesn't rise too much so scooping could have been a lil difficult. I opted to cut mine out with a lil star cookie cutter cuz aww isn't that just so cute? Mmm Hmm. The meat was okay. Definitely, next time, I will use my own seasonings. Taco Bell seasoning is fine for well.. tacos. But with the corncake base, I feel the cumin and chili powder probably would have worked better. Toppings were your basic taco toppings.. salsa, cheese, green onions, black olives and a lil sour cream on top. Was very filling, I couldn't come close to finishing. But for a quickie dinner that is practically effortless, this is a keeper.

Taco'd Corn Cakes
Taco'd Corncakes

1 pkg. Chi-Chi's corncake mix
1/4 c. melted butter
1/4 c. water
1 (15 oz.) can creamed corn
1 1/2 lbs. ground round
1 pgk. Taco Bell taco mix
2/3 c. water
Shredded cheese (I used a Mexican four cheese blend)
1 green onion, sliced thin
Salsa to taste
Sliced black olives
Sour cream to taste

Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare the corncake mix as directed and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Brown the ground round, discarding the grease. Mix in the taco seasoning and water.

Plate the corn cake and pile on the taco meat and toppings. Dig in!

Not so much as a recipe as a blogger space filler, eh? teeeee!

Taco'd Corn Cakes II

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