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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Scream!!!

For ice cream, that is. The lovely and talented Farida at Farida's Azerbaijani Cookbook has passed along the gift of cool, creamy, and delicious Haagen Dazs Ice Cream to some lucky people. I was one of them! Woohoo!

What a fun package to receive...there are four pints of ice cream, and a box of vanilla bars coated with chocolate and almonds, all packed nicely with dry ice. There's no way that ice cream is going to melt--they're like pints of brick, hehe.

So guess what??? I get to pass on three more special packages of dry ice and ice cream to three lucky readers (that are in the US--I'm sorry that they don't ship internationally)! And let me just tell you, it's almost as much fun to put the dry ice in the sink and watch it make fog as it is to eat the ice cream. What? Who is that laughing? I have kids, cut me some slack, wouldya? I...ahem...they thought it was really cool. ;)

So I guess to make this quick--because I only have ten days to forward the winning e mail addresses to Haggen Dazs, I'll number each comment in order, and drop the names in a hat. I will then have my very unbiased 5 year old son pull three numbers out. Yeah, that'll work.

I think all the packages contain the same flavors, and wait till you taste them!

There's Fleur de Sel Caramel--Fleur de Sel caramels covered in chocolate blended into caramel ice cream with caramel ribbons and French sea salt accents.

Pomegranate Chip--Tart Pomegranate and sweet cranberries with grapes, with dark chocolate chunks.

Are you drooling yet?

Vanilla Honey Bee Ice Cream--combines vanilla from Madagascar with clover honey from North and South Dakota, to increase awareness of the disappearing honey bee problem. This one will help fund research to protect them, which is hugely important. Do you have any idea how many things honey bees pollinate? Tons! They also include a packet of Black Eyed Susan seeds for you to plant to attract honey bees to your garden.

Vanilla Honey & Granola Frozen Yogurt--with just 4 grams of fat per 1/2 cup serving. Nice!

And lastly, Snack Size Ice Cream Bars--vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate and almonds.
I didn't take a pic of those, but you all know what an ice cream bar looks like, right?

We did a taste test this evening, and we all loved each and every one of them. Everyone had their own favorite, but we sure as heck wouldn't say no to a little bowl of any of them.

So please leave your comments if you want to enter, and make sure you're using a valid e mail address. I'll take entries until Friday night (May 2nd) at 9:00 pm EST. Then all the comments will be numbered in order, put in a hat, and three will picked by my 5 year old.

Good luck, and thanks for reading! :)

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mango Buffalo Wings with Mango Lime Cream Dipping Sauce

Buffalo Wings--really good. Oven Baked Buffalo Wings--even better. Oven Baked MANGO Buffalo Wings with Mango Cream Dipping Sauce? I think I could eat these every single day.

This is my entry for the Royal Foodie Joust sponsored by The Leftover Queen. April's winner is Michelle at Thursday Night Smackdown. These are both great blogs that I hope you'll all check out. Michelle got to choose the three required ingredients for the current joust, and she chose mango, brown sugar, and cardamom. Great choices, right?

Update: I won the Joust! I'm very excited, and a big thank you all of you that voted, and commented here on my blog. Thank you!

I did a lot of thinking about what I wanted to do. There's lots of sweet choices, but also lots of savory ones. What I came up with is a little of both. The wings are spicy, with a hint of mango, and while oven baked, still nice and crispy. The dipping sauce is perfect alongside the wings. It's cool, creamy, fresh tasting and a little sweet.

Some of you may remember my post on Oven Baked Hooters Style Wings. I knew this was the cooking method I wanted to use for these wings. I thought I could add pureed mango to the Frank's Hot Sauce that the wings get coated in. It worked really well! And even better, it really cut down on the amount of butter in the sauce!

And we'll need something cool and creamy to offset the spicy wings, won't we? Well what if we mix pureed mango with sour cream, add some lime and a bit of brown sugar and cardamom? Yeah, that works! And it helps that it's lick-the-bowl delicious! I'm already thinking of other ways to use this sauce...

I used three mangoes (the last three in the store!) for these two recipes, which was about two cups when pureed.

Mango Buffalo Wings

20 chicken wings
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup Frank's Hot Sauce (or another hot sauce, if you prefer)
1/2 cup pureed mango
1/4 cup melted butter or canola oil

Heat oven to 400°. In a large ziptop bag, combine flour and dry spices.
Add the wings to the bag, seal, and toss to coat.
Place the wings on a plate and chill in the fridge for about 30-35 minutes.
In a bowl, mix the pureed mango and hot sauce. Stir in melted butter or oil.

Carefully dip each wing in the sauce, turning to coat. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, covered with foil and lightly greased.
Bake for 40 minutes, carefully turning the wings halfway through cooking time. When the wings are done, remove them from the pan and put them on a cooling rack to prevent them from getting soggy.

Serve with Mango Lime Cream.

Mango Lime Cream Dipping Sauce

Makes approx 2 cups.

1 1/2 cups pureed mango
1/2 cup sour cream
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 tsp brown sugar
3/8 tsp cardamom

Add all ingredients to food processor or blender and process until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I have to add that my husband and I just loved these. He's not hard to please, but I can tell when he doesn't like something...he's quiet and politely eats. When he loves something he's eating, he's very vocal and keeps telling me how much he loves it, which he did with these wings. And that sauce is perfect with these. It's cool and creamy, and wonderful for cutting the heat of the wings. I'd suggest giving each person they're own little bowl, because there's going to be lots of double dipping going on, hehe. Not only did he clean his wing bones, but he was sure to get every last drop of the mango lime sauce that he had. And he was looking to see if I had any left to give him. I was feeling nice and tossed him an extra wing, hehe.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Amazing Oven Fried Chicken

I don't like deep frying. It scares me. Like Pixie, I suffer from F.O.F., or Fear of Frying.
I'm afraid of burning myself or the food, or worse--my kitchen! I know, it's silly. I do fry egg rolls (will post about those sometime!), but only in a little oil. Deep frying with all of that oil is just something I'm not comfortable with.

This is only one reason why this recipe is so damn perfect. Need more? It's easy, cheap, and deeeliciously lip-smacking and finger-licking good! It's so husband doesn't just eat it, he inhales it! He gets so happy when he knows I'm making it, because it's one of his favorites.

I usually use chicken thighs for this, because we don't really like drumsticks very much. You could do breasts, too, if you like. I'm sure it's good with boneless, too, just watch cooking times. So the chicken marinates in a mixture of plain yogurt, Dijon mustard, hot sauce (like Tabasco or Frank's) and a bit of creole seasoning and salt. I like to let it soak in this mixture for at least 24 hours. If you've never tried chicken soaked in yogurt before, you're in for a real treat. It's moist, tender and juicy! And unlike liquidy marinades that get left behind when you take the chicken out for cooking, this yogurt one sticks to the chicken and you don't lose half the flavor.

This is adapted from The Working Family's Cookbook, by Irena Chalmers. And not only is it good hot, but ooooh, when it's cold? Coveted leftovers. And think "picnic basket food!" Pack some of this for your next picnic and you'll have Aunt Nancy knocking out Uncle Bob to get his piece of fried chicken. (Names changed to protect the innocent.) (Sorry, couldn't protect the chicken.) (Or Uncle Bob, for that matter. Aunt Nancy is one tough lady.)

Finger-Lickin' Oven Fried Chicken

2 (6 oz) containers plain lowfat yogurt (or Greek yogurt, if you can find it)
3 TBSP Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
1/2 tsp salt
3 - 3 1/2 pounds chicken pieces, rinsed and patted dry
2 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 - 3/4 tsp creole seasoning (plus a couple extra pinches for the marinade!) (see recipe for seasoning below)
2 Tbs olive oil

1. In a bowl, stir together yogurt, mustard, Tabasco, a few good pinches of creole seasoning, and salt. Put chicken in a large ziptop bag, add marinade, seal the bag and turn to coat chicken completely . Marinate for at least 6-8 hours, but overnight is better.
2. Line a large baking dish with sides with heavy duty foil. Spray lightly with oil spray. Heat oven to 400° (375° for boneless).
3. In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, the salt and creole seasoning.
4. Roll each piece of chicken in the crumb mixture.
5. Place chicken in prepared pan and drizzle with olive oil.
6. Bake 50 minutes to one hour (30-35 minutes for boneless) until golden brown and juices run clear.

Creole Seasoning

2- 1/2 Tbs paprika

2 Tbs salt
2 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs cayenne
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried thyme

Mix and store in an airtight container.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Give me an E! (for excited!!) And one more tag.

I can't believe it. Seriously. I've only been blogging since February, and someone thought my blog was good enough to get the Big E.

I wasn't even sure anyone would read this blog when I started. Aside from friends and family, of course, hehe. (and to all of them, your checks are in the mail, ok?) It amazes me more than I can ever say that you guys read what I have to say, and that you think that my photos are nice.

Pixie at You say Tomahto, I Say Tomayto has passed along the E for Excellent to me. I am thrilled to pieces! And by the way, she has an Excellent blog herself, and she's a total sweetheart--so you should go and check her blog out and say hello.

Thank you so much, Pixie!

I'm passing it along to...
What's Cooking
Tea and Wheaten Bread
Taste and Tell

There so many Excellent blogs out there, I wish I could pass it along to everyone! Every blog in my Favorite's list is an Excellent blog.

And Tagged!

RhyleysGranny at Tea and Wheaten Bread has been gracious enough to tag me for a Six Word Memoir. I'm going to use my last six words, since I'm running out of ideas. hehehe.

L--Lazy, sometimes


I'm supposed to tag six more blogs. I've been choosing new additions to The Foodie Blogroll, but I think I got all of the recent ones. So I'll go with other ones I regularly read.

Those of you tagged can choose whether or not to play, it's up to you. The idea is to post 6 words that describe you, and tag six of your favorite blogs.
Smarter Than Pancakes This is my good friend Shaye's, and she's just started her food blog, so let's show her some food blogging community support, please! :)
What's Cooking
Vicarious Foodie
Taste and Tell

And a BIG thank you to all of you that read my blog. Whether you leave comments or not, I appreciate all the visits and I'm still floored that anyone cares to read it. I'm realy enjoying this, more than I thought I would. So thank you. :)

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jelly Donut Muffins

The other day, I was craving a jelly donut. I was at home, and didn't feel like running out to get one. Or two, hehe. I never get them anymore. They're just so not good for you. But it got me thinking, which can sometimes be dangerous. Luckily, this time it wasn't!

I love muffins. All kinds of muffins! Sweet ones, savory ones, healthy ones, not so healthy ones--you name it. So why can't we make muffins that taste like jelly donuts? Well, we can! I took a basic muffin recipe and changed things up to make donut/muffiny goodness. I started thinking, again...I wasn't interested in doing a raised yeasty type one, but the cakey plain donut type--you know the ones. Plain, but good, not too sweet, and often passed by for the frosted, dipped, glazed and jelly filled ones. Poor things.

I thought about what gives those plain ones their special flavor. Definitely some nutmeg, and there's gotta be a little cinnamon. Oh, and a sprinkle of sugar over the top before baking to give them that little "crunch" that a fried donut has. And while we're at it, let's add some raspberry jam somewhere in the middle so we can have our jelly donut fix!

I'm happy to report that they were a success! The kids loved them, and my husband said I should make more. He also said the whole world would love them, but then again, he's my biggest fan. I love that man. :) I put just over one teaspoon jam in these, and compared to my
jelly donut standards, it could have used more, hehe. Maybe 1 1/2-2 teaspoons, but be careful, because you don't want the jam oozing out during baking and making a huge mess in your pan. Also, these aren't overly sweet, which is exactly what I was going for. I figured with the jam in there, I'd cut the sugar, and it worked.

I'm submitting these to SnackShots #3 Muffin Roundup at Greedy Gourmet.

So now I'll shut up (finally!) and give you the recipe. I'm really happy with how they turned out!

Jelly Donut Muffins

2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
your favorite fruit jam
sugar for sprinkling over the muffins

1 Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2 Sift the dry ingredients together.
3 Mix in the eggs, oil, butter, milk and vanilla.
4 Grease the muffin pans. Fill the muffin cups almost halfway, carefully place about 1 tsp of jam in the center, and cover with a little more batter.
5 Sprinkle tops with sugar.
6 Bake for about 18 minutes.
7 Cool in pan on rack for about 5 minutes, then turn on out on rack to cool.

Yield: 9 muffins

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Random ThursdayThoughts: Cuban Style Picadillo, and a Six Word Memoir

Cuban Picadillo--have you ever had it? So. Damn. Good. And very easy to make, too. It's also versatile. Serve it as is, with a fried egg on top if you like, and rice and beans on the side. Serve it on buns, like a sloppy joe, or wrap it up in dough and make empanadas. Don't those look delicious? I usually double this recipe so we can make empanadas with half of it, but I didn't think of doing that this time. (In a hurry making my grocery list, I suppose.)

I've tried a few recipes for it, but have settled on one from David Rosengarten, in It's All American Food. It has the elements I love in it--raisins (yes, raisins!), olives, hard boiled eggs, and chorizo, along with a good helping of spices to bring out wonderful flavor. Chorizo should be pretty easy to find--scroll down a bit on that page to see the varieties. If I can find it in my grocery store, it can't be too hard to get, hehe.

Is this authentic Cuban Picadillo? I have no idea. I'm sure it's like chili or spaghetti sauce, and there are millions of versions out there, but this is the one we like the best. Feel free to change it up, and add or take things out. But I have to say--try not to mess with the cinnamon, raisins and olives (If you do, I'll find out about it. I may be forced to come to your homes and make this for you, with those things in it!). They add SO much flavor. The olives and raisins play off of each other so well--you get a little tart taste from the olive, and a little burst of sweet from the raisins. I leave out the capers (1 TB) in this recipe because we don't like them, and the almonds (1/3 c toasted, slivered)--if I have them, I add them, and if I don't, it's no big deal. These would both be added at the same time as the eggs and lime juice, if you want to add them.

Cuban Style Picadillo (adapted from It's All American Food)

You can easily double this, and it freezes beautifully!

2 TB olive oil
1 lb ground beef (I use ground turkey)
1/2 pound chorizo, chopped in small pieces, or removed from casing
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 TB ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup beef stock
1 TB sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped green olives with pimento
2 TB cider vinegar
3 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
1-2 TB lime juice

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add ground beef or turkey and chorizo.
Cook about 10 minutes, stirring often, until nicely browned. Drain if you like--I usually do, but leave a little oil in the pan, or add a bit more olive oil.
Add onion and bell pepper, saute about 10 minutes.
Add garlic and spices, saute about one minute.
Add tomatoes, beef stock and sugar. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
Add raisins, olives, and vinegar, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
Add chopped eggs and lime juice and season with salt and pepper, simmer for a couple minutes to heat eggs up, and serve.

I served it this time with sweet potato and beet chips.

A Six Word Memoir

Toontz at Okara Mountain has tagged me for a Six Word Memoir. Check out her blog--that girl makes some gorgeous food! Basically, it's just six words that describe you.

So let's see...

L--Lazy, sometimes


Now I tag six more blogs--I'm choosing new additions to the Foodie Blogroll. Hopefully you'll go and say hello to them--they are all really great blogs! So here you go--more blogs to read. Your boss won't mind, I checked ahead of time. ;)

For the Love of Cooking
B More Sweet
Life After Gluten
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Tarheel Table

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins and the Food For Plastic KIDZ Challenge

Ben over at What's Cooking is hosting a Food for Plastic (Kidz) Challenge. Noooo, not plastic kids! Silly...hehe. Tupperware!

What's it all about, you ask? April is Children's Month at Tupperware, and to celebrate, they're donating $1 from the sale of certain items to the Boy's and Girl's Club. What a great cause! Tupperware has a lot of kid's items on sale for 30-50% off, as well. To see them, go take a look at Ben's Tupperware store. Check out those awesome lunch boxes--get a head start on back to school shopping (really, it'll be here before you know it! I'll duck now so you can throw your shoes at me.), and cross one of those off your list!

What is a Food for Plastic Challenge? Well, let me tell you! Ben sells Tupperware, so he hosts these themed challenges. You submit a recipe to the challenge, and they get voted on. The winner usually wins some Tupperware. Pretty cool, right? This one is food for kids. Something you enjoyed as a child, or something your kids love today--you get the idea. Oh, and Ben's blog is packed full of amazing recipes and tons of info, so get your butt over there check it out. Please. :)

My entry is Double Chocolate Banana Muffins. My kids absolutely love these, and really, unless you hate chocolate and/or banana, you'll love them, too. Moist, chocolatey, banana-ey--mmmm! And a tip: you can pop a cooled muffin in the microwave for 30 seconds and get the chocolate chips all melty again. Grab your glass of milk and you're all set for a chocolate break.

Muffins are usually easy to make and these are no exception. You'll have them in the oven in no time. I usually have to set some bananas aside (that means HIDE them from my four monkeys...I to ripen up if I want to make these. I got this recipe years ago in some e newsletter.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
2. In a small bowl, combine bananas, oil and egg.
3. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. The batter is quite thick, but keep folding it gently, making sure to get the batter on the bottom of the bowl, and it'll all come together.
4. Fold in chocolate chips.
5. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups three fourths full.
6. Bake at 350 deg F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done.

My husband was watching me scoop the batter into the pans, and he suggested I sprinkle some walnuts on top of some of them. Nice addition, and those seemed to be "overlooked" by the kids. So finally, we got to enjoy some, too, and didn't have to fight for a measly crumb, hehe. Oh! An ice cream scoop is a great way to get your muffins all the same size, and makes scooping the batter in the pans really easy.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thai Chicken Saute and a Six Word Memoir

Do you guys make grocery lists, or do you just have a general idea what you want to make and fly by the seats of your pants? I always have a list. I plan our weekly menus and head off to the store to restock and pick up whatever new goodies that intrigue me. Sometimes, I see something so interesting (which could sometimes translate to "on sale" hehe) that I'll pick it up and plan a meal around it. Good things can happen that way. Sometimes. ;)

This recipe for Thai Chicken Saute was a planned, on the list meal. But I decided to do it at the last minute. I had to head to the store, but I had no list made. Panic! So I quickly scanned my e mail inbox to see what interesting recipes I'd received in the past week. This wasn't one of them, but I was led to it by another, not very memorable one. No clue what it was. See? Uninteresting, it was. (I sound like Yoda saying that, don't I? hahaha!!) Let me take a minute and snap of my Yoda-like trance....

Ok! Anyway, I found this on, which includes recipes from Cooking Light, Southern Living, and Sunset, to name a few. This one is from Cooking Light, and you can see the original here.

It's so quick and easy to make! I love that. Who wouldn't? You can have this on the table in less time than it would take to get take out. It's delicious, too. I used brown rice and didn't use bottled minced garlic, because, eeeewww. It takes one minute to chop fresh garlic!

Tip: To get the smell of garlic off your hands, run your hands under cold tap water, no soap. And do it right after you handle the garlic, don't handle anything else before you rinse your hands. Works like a charm! Then you don't have to use bottled garlic, lol. (Tip from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, by Judy Rodgers)

A word on the Sriracha in the recipe--it's SO delicious. But it's hot! I cut the amount of Sriracha in half, and it was just right. If you haven't seen it, it looks like this:
And it's gooood. It's hot, but it adds flavor, too, not just heat. I can get it in my regular grocery store, so I'm guessing it's not hard to find. You can read a little about it here. If you can't find it, use another hot sauce instead.

Thai Chicken Sauté

From Cooking Light


1 (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag rice (I used regular brown rice)
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenders
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 cup sliced onion
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic (I used about 4 cloves garlic, minced)
1 teaspoon bottled ground fresh ginger (such as Spice World)
1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 lime wedges
Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Keep warm.

Toss chicken with cornstarch and fish sauce.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan.
Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan.
Add onion, garlic, and ginger to pan; sauté 1 minute.
Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute or until done.
Stir in coconut milk, Sriracha, sugar, and juice; cook 45 seconds or until thoroughly heated.
Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro.
Serve chicken mixture over rice with lime wedges.

I cooked the onions for about 5 minutes, because my husband doesn't like crunchy onions in his cooked food. They've got to be tender, lol. But they were still good. I'm definitely making this one again! It's got three important things going for it--quick, easy and delicious.

Six Word Memoir

The Irreplaceable and Irresistible Pixie over at You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato tagged me for a Six Word memoir. It's basically just six words that describe yourself. She's such a sweetheart, that Pixie, and she has a fabulous blog, so please go check it out!

So, six words to describe me...

1) Loyal
2) Level headed
3) Sweet
4) Stubborn
5) Bratty
6) Funny

I'm sure my friends and family could all give you different words about me, but they're not writing this blog, I am! hahaha!

I LOVE Pixie's idea for tagging 6 more bloggers, so I'm copying her.


Pixie says:

"Oh 'fortunate' selected Bloggers, it's really up to you if you wish to play along! I believe the entire purpose of this is to introduce bloggers to each other; to build the wonderful Food Community that exists. So feel free to write your memoir or not, the choice is entirely yours but honestly, I'd much rather prefer if you took just about 5 minutes to visit at least one of the mentioned blogs that you have yet been to, have a quick browse and say hello."

So I'm going to tag six blogs that you may not have seen yet. Three of them I read regularly, and three I chose randomly from the Foodie Blogroll, and I'm going to add them to my reader. I hope that you guys that are reading this will check them out and leave them a nice comment. It's still so thrilling to me that you guys actually read my blog and leave nice comments! I'm continually amazed at how supportive the food blogging community is. I'm still so new to this, but everyone has been great, and it would be nice to look at some blogs we may not have seen yet.

Here are the rules:

1. Write your own six-word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post.
4. Tag five
(umm or 6 or 7 or) more blogs with links.
5. Remember to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

I'm tagging:

Lauren at Parsnips Aplenty
Farida at Farida's Azerbaijani Cookbook
Lori at Made Healthier
Wendy at Home Sweet Home
Holly at Old Recipe Detective
Sarah at Homemade

So please go check them out and let's show them the same support that you all have given me. Thanks!

PS--I can't figure out why the bottom half of this post has gone all funky with the text. Please excuse it. Maybe Yoda typed it...

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Random ThursdayThoughts...Parm Crusted Chicken, One (the song), and that Chimichurri Sauce is begging to be poured on everything.

Where to start today? I guess with the food, since that's what we're here for. :) Two nights ago, we had Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette. It's one of our favorites, another tried and true. The recipe is from Ina Garten. I love her recipes! I've never had one fail, and her stuff ranges from "pull out all the stops for guests" to "let's have a bowl of soup, salad and bread for dinner." You can look at the books of hers that I have in my Amazon shop.

It's really simple, too! And you can feel good serving it to guests--it's special enough for company. The chicken is dipped in flour, then egg, then a combination of bread crumbs and fresh grated parm. Try to grate the parm finely, because you want it to stick to the chicken, and mix well with the bread crumbs. The vinaigrette takes maybe two minutes to whip up, and is tossed with the greens at the last second. Then the cool, tangy greens are piled over the warm chicken. The tastes and textures all come together for a delicious dinner.

You can also see it on Canarygirl's blog. Her photos are awesome! And her food, omg, her food is the best! Want to torture yourself with some good food porn? Go check out her site--you won't be sorry!

Parmesan Crusted Chicken and Lemon Vinaigrette with Fresh Greens

Ina uses arugula, but this is good with any mixed greens or even spinach, as we usually have it.
This serves 6, but usually boneless chicken comes in packs with 3 half breasts (it's like the hot dog/hot dog bun ratio--wtf!),
and I fillet them rather than pounding them out, and I still end up with 6 pieces--good for
leftovers. Less work, faster cooking time, and it doesn't dry out.

Side note on filleting:

I always fillet chicken breasts. They cook faster, so they don't have time to dry out.
Well, I suppose they could, if you really try to overcook them, but
they only need a few minutes per side. If they're thin, 2-3 minutes per
side is good, and if they're thicker, like the kind you get from "new
and improved" mutant-sized chickens, they take about 5-6 minutes per
side. And it's so easy to fillet them, too! Just put your chicken on a
cutting board, get a good sharp fillet knife, and place your palm over
the chicken breast, like the way you're supposed to cut a bagel but no
one ever does? "Hello? 911? Bagel emergency! But please stop off first
and get me a new bagel...I seem to have ruined this one..." So you've
put your palm over the top, and then you slice the breast horizontally
from the thick end of the breast, to the thin one. See? Easy, and
injury free!

Back to the recipe!

1/2 lb fresh arugula (3 large bunches) OR greens of your choice
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 lb chunk of parmesan
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 extra large eggs
1 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated parm cheese
1 Tbs butter
2-3 Tbs olive oil

Wash and dry your greens.
In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.
Set aside to toss with greens right before serving.
That couldn't be any easier, right? Now on to the chicken...
Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Pound the chicken, or fillet it like I mentioned above. (this is really
important for fast cooking and juicy chicken.)
Combine flour, salt and pepper on a plate.
In a bowl, beat the eggs with 1 tbsp water.
On a second plate, combine the bread crumbs and parm.

Dredge the chicken in the flour, dip in the egg, and then dredge in the
crumb/parm mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the chicken for 3-4
minutes on one side, depending on thickness, then turn and do the same (3-4
minutes) on second side until no longer pink and nicely golden brown.
Toss the salad greens with enough vinaigrette to coat them, add more if you
Place chicken on dinner plate, then place a mound of salad over each chicken
breast. Shave some parm with a vegetable peeler over the greens and serve immediately.

Up Next--One, the song...

I'm a kid of the 80's. Yep, the big hair, the funky colors, the music, the movies...I loved it all. I still love U2! They've been around almost forever, haven't they? They have great lyrics, amazing songs...they are just timeless. Anyway, their song "One." Great song, right? Did you ever hear Mary J. Blige cover it? I saw her do it live on some show. Gave me goosebumps. Really! It's on her album The Breakthrough. I didn't even know they did a version of it together! And where did I first hear it? Are you ready?

In the grocery store! hahaha!! My grocery store plays the best music! Except when they try to sneak an Ashlee Simpson song in to cause my ears to bleed. ugh.

I urge you, no--I'm telling all of you to go to whatever music service you use and download the song. Right now. You won't regret it. The Amazon clip is so short. I'm listening to it right now and getting goosebumps again, hehe. SO good. And how gorgeous is Mary?

And finally, Zen's Freaking Chimichurri Sauce...

I posted about it here.

And you can see it on his site, too. Check out his blog! Great food, and funny stories. He's very entertaining!

The's addictive. Two nights ago, we had the parm crusted chicken, right? Delicious as is, but I happened to have some more chimichurri in the fridge, because we've been having it on pork chops, too, which we have at least once a week (use the same rub that you use on the steak). I was thinking I'd put some it on my chicken, and my husband comes in and says "HEY! Let's put some chimichurri on the chicken!" We are of one mind, I'm telling you. Except when it comes to 70's cop movies. Blech. He can have them. I'll read instead., hehe.

The chicken went from delicious to sublime! This is one recipe I'll have in rotation all the time. The rub and chimichurri sauce are made from simple, everyday ingredients that you can easily get, at any time. I can't wait to start grilling so we can put it on more stuff! Thanks, Zen! muac!

Hey, I just checked! It's 62° (about 16 C, i think?) --we're having a heatwave, hehe!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Elevating the Lemon Bar to New Heights...Let's Make it Lime!

Aren't they pretty? There's just something about limes. Don't get me wrong, lemons are nice, too. But limes always seemed more exotic to me--I have no idea why. Could it be that as a kid, my mom hardly ever used real lemons or limes around the house? We know it!...the plastic lemon and lime that was full of juice. Occasionally, real lemons made an appearance, but the only place I saw limes was in the grocery store.

When I started cooking on my own, one of the first things I did was to start using the real things. My mom was a fantastic cook, but she took shortcuts, like a lot of people do. And if that's your thing, hey, that's perfectly fine with me. But once you taste what fresh squeezed juice and freshly grated zest can do for your recipes, the difference is amazing.

Lemon bars are one of my all time favorites. So is Beat This, by Ann Hodgman. And let's not forget Beat That, her follow up. I love these two books. Not only are there lots of great recipes, but Ann's writing style is hilarious. They should be read cover to cover, because her humor even shows up in the recipes themselves. Back to the bars--even though in her book they're called Lemon Squares, there's not one bit of lemon in them. The idea is to make them more tart and really showcase the citrus in them. So you use limes instead--along with the fresh squeezed juice, there's lime zest in the crust and in the filling.

I've made these a few times, and they never disappoint. Lots of lime filled goodness on a wonderful almond shortbread crust. There's almond paste in the crust, and it adds such nice flavor and interest to the bars. I could eat that almond paste right out of the tube, and I've got about 1/2 cup left, if anyone's got any recipe suggestions to save me from eating the rest of it as is. Oh, she suggests using citrus salt for the salt in the filling, for that extra "pucker-up" factor. I still can't find any. I did find a lime salt from Morton's, and used that. Someday I hope to actually find some of the stuff, lol.

Oh, one more thing! Six limes gave me exactly 1/2 cup of juice. And even though I didn't need the zest from six limes, I zested them all anyway. I keep the extra in the freezer for zest emergencies. Hey, don't laugh! It could happen. And when it does, you'll wish you had zest in your freezer, too. ;)

Lime Bars

1 cup flour
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 Tbs sugar
1-2 Tbs almond paste
2 tsp grated lime rind
1 pinch salt

1 cup sugar, stirred together with
4 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
2 large eggs
1 Tbs grated lime rind
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp citrus salt (optional)
confectioners' sugar, for dusting the top


1. Preheat the oven to 375° and butter an 8" square pan.
2. Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and process until the mix
just begins to form a ball.
3. Pat the mixture in the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, or pale golden.
4. Turn the oven down to 350°.
5. Wipe out the food processor with a paper towel and add all the filling
ingredients into the bowl.
6. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
7. Pour into the crust and bake for 20 minutes.
8. Cool, chill well.
9. Sprinkle with a light dusting of confectioner's sugar.
10. Cut into squares. Store in fridge.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Tried, Tested and True Event--Spaghetti and Meatballs

This is my first participation in a food blog event! It's Tried, Tested and True, and it's hosted by Giz and Psychgrad over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen. It's their first time hosting an event like this, and you've still got time of you want to join--submissions are due by April 14th. And don't we all have at least a few tried and true recipes? They also have a great blog, so you should check it out anyway.

So I decided to submit spaghetti and meatballs, because who doesn't like that? We all love this one. Well, except my 2 youngest boys, they only want butter and parm on their noodles. Sigh. If they only knew what they were missing!

I first got these recipes, I don't know, 4 or 5 years ago, from Allie. Her sister Bethany is one of my best friends. Allie got the recipe from their dad, and he got it from a little old Italian woman. Still with me? Good! It's the best pasta sauce and meatballs I've ever had. In fact, I gave up my old tried and true for this one. I've played with the sauce over the years and changed it a little, but the original is fabulous as is. The meatballs cook in the sauce, so they're tender and moist. Perfect. I haven't dared mess with the meatballs, because we love them so much (except that I use ground turkey instead of beef).

I'll post my version of the sauce, and you can see the original here. Oh, I also use different amounts for the sauce, because I in
crease it to have leftovers, and this freezes really well. I can give the measurements for these two recipes for 10, 15, or 20 servings, if anyone's interested. This makes the greatest meatball subs--add some provolone and get the bun all toasty...I'm SO glad I have some in the fridge for lunch, hehe.

One more thing...if you make your meatballs a little on the smaller side, you can cut cooking time to about 2 hours or so. And when you drop the meatballs in the sauce, don't stir for about 1/2 an hour, to give them time to set up. You can take the back of a wooden spoon and gently dunk them so they're under the sauce.

Italian Tomato Sauce (15 servings)

3 (28 ounces) cans tomato puree (if you can't find puree, which I can't lately, use crushed instead)
1 1/2 (28 ounces) cans crushed tomatoes
3/8 can tomato paste
splash of red wine
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 small onion, diced
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 Tbs basil
1/2 Tbs kosher salt
3/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
6 Tbs grated parmesan cheese

1 In a large pot over medium low heat, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until soft.
2 Add tomatoes to the pot.
3 Add all ingredients (including any meatballs or sausage you want to add) to
pot and simmer for 3 hours.

And the meatball recipe. These measurements are for 20 servings, but I like to make a huge batch so
I can freeze some for later.

Italian Meatballs (20 servings)

2 lb ground beef (I always use ground turkey!)
2 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
2 tsp oregano
2 Tbs fresh parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 Mix all ingredients in a large bowl by hand.
2 Roll meatballs to about the size of a golf ball.
3 Drop raw meatballs into the pot of sauce.
4 Simmer for about 3 hours, or until a tested meatball is done.

So make sure you go and check out the other Tried, Tested and True on April 14th!

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tuna Orzo Salad, and My Continuing Love Affair with Chickpeas

Just look at those gorgeous colors and those delicious chickpeas!

I love chickpeas. I really do. They make the most delicious hummus, they're wonderful roasted in the oven for a great snack, and they go well in so many things, like stews, salads, and chili. And over at Vicarious Foodie, they're starring in Spaghetti alla Ceci! That looks amazing, doesn't it? If you haven't tried them yet, you should grab a can the next time you're out shopping. Try them--they're not mushy, like beans--they have a nice texture and an earthy, slightly nutty flavor.

Here are a few facts on chickpeas, as seen on



Chick pea and garbanzo bean are 2 names for the same thing (Cicer arietinum) a member of the Pea family (Fabaceae). They are also called ceci (Italy), Egyptian pea, gram, Kichererbse (Germany), and revithia (Greece).

Garbanzo is the name used in Spanish speaking countries. The English name chickpea comes from the French chiche, which comes from the Latin cicer.

Garbanzo Beans or chickpeas are the most widely consumed legume in the world. Originating in the Middle East, they have a firm texture with a flavor somewhere between chestnuts and walnuts. Garbanzo beans are usually pale yellow in color. In India there are red, black, and brown chickpeas.

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans have 361 calories per 100g, and are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, phosphorus, calcium and iron.


This brings me to today's recipe. It's Tuna Orzo Salad, which happens to be a Rachael Ray recipe. Now, I'm not a huge fan of her recipes or her shows, but I do love her magazine. It's full of great ideas and articles, and guest authors that also have wonderful ideas and recipes. This one is from her magazine, and we love it. It's makes a wonderful lunch or light dinner.

It's such a pretty salad, too, with all of the jewel tones from the ingredients. There's the purple shade of the red onions, the juicy orange (or red or yellow) peppers, the green basil, the cherry red grape tomatoes, and of course, the silky chickpeas.

I've actually had this recipe photographed and ready to go for a while, but you guys know how it it is--you photograph so much stuff, then you have all these things ready to post, and not enough time to post them all. And besides, it's in the stars today, with Vicarious Foodie showcasing chickpeas, and with Deborah at Taste and Tell in day 5 of her 7 Days with Rachael Ray series. Whether you like RR or not, she does have a lot of good, basic ideas that can be tweaked and added to. For this particular recipe, I don't change a thing, except for drizzling some white balsamic vinegar over our salad.

Tuna Orzo Salad

3 c chicken broth
1 cup orzo
1/4 c red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
2 (6 oz) cans olive oil packed tuna, drained and oil reserved
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 yellow or red bell pepper, diced
half a red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
white balsamic vinegar, for drizzling over

Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan and add the orzo. Cook until al dente, then drain and cool slightly.
In a large bowl, season the vinegar with salt and pepper and mix until the salt dissolves.
Whisk in the reserved oil from the tuna, then add the orzo and toss to mix.
Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, peppers, onion, onion and basil to the orzo mixture.
Break up the tuna and add that and the feta to the salad, then serve.

Top with a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

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