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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chicken and Tomatillo Stew

I have had this recipe bookmarked since last October. I'm really quick to getting around to doing things, right? But Toontz at Okara Mountain does a Triple Dog Dare Challenge every month, where she dares you to try something new. June was fruit and July was vegetables. This one immediately came to mind because I had never cooked with tomatillos before--plus, I had made it early in the month and had the photos uploaded already--perfect!

Also, on a more serious note, this recipe is from Sher at What Did You Eat? who as a lot of you may know, passed away suddenly on July 20th. I didn't know her, but I did read her blog often--she posted such wonderful recipes. She will be missed in the blogging world.

So, about the recipe. Yeah, I know, it's summer...why is Elle making stew again? I dunno. Because the tomatillos were so cute and calling out to me at the store? And I'm so glad I made this! It's so hearty and satisfying. I served it with cornbread, like I would with chili--this reminds me of chili, only it's lighter, I suppose? No beans, but I'm sure they'd be good in here if you wanted to add some. I did think it was a little light on the spices, so I added some of the trusty taco seasoning that I always have on hand. This made it just right to me. Feel free to adjust as you wish. I followed the recipe pretty much as she has it, using boneless, skinless chicken thighs. It's a very versatile recipe, though--it's originally made with pork, as posted on Food & Wine. (I seriously hope they don't have a problem with recipe modifications. hahaha!)

You can find this recipe on Sher's blog. Please visit and check out her recipes, there are so many delicious ones to choose from.

The cornbread is one from my files called Molasses Corn Bread. I don't remember where it's from, but if any of you know, let me know so I can give credit, please. It's one of my favorites! It's really moist, and sweeter than regular cornbread. I can't help it, I'm a Northern girl and just can't get into that very dry, barely sweet cornbread. I know it holds a special place in the hearts of some of you, and that's great! Traditions are a wonderful thing. But my tradition is moist, sweet cornbread.

Here is the recipe, and it's so easy to make. It would make great muffins, too.

Molasses Corn Bread

1- 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour, or all purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1- 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbs canola oil
5 Tbs molasses

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Pour the buttermilk into a 4-cup measuring cup or bowl.
Add all the wet stuff and stir to completely combine.
Pour the wet stuff into the dry stuff and stir until thoroughly blended.
Pour the batter into the pan.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serve warm and slathered with butter. yum.

I hope you give this a try! But if you want to wait till it's cooler outside, that's ok, too. This would be perfect game food! And from the countdown in my sidebar, I see that at this moment, opening day for the NFL is 35 days, 11 hours, 24 minutes and 55 seconds away. So start planning now! Don't get caught without game food, folks! (Can you tell I'm a football fan? I CAN'T WAIT!!!)

photo from stock.xchng

Enjoy your week! And as always, thanks for reading!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

DB Challenge July: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

This month's challenge was chosen and hosted by Chris at Mele Cotte. It's Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from Great Cakes by Carol Walter. It was a lot of work, but each step wasn't too difficult on it's own. I started some parts of it on Friday, and finished it on Sunday. You can see the recipe here.

Funny, when it was done on Sunday, it didn't taste...all that great. Sort of bland and dry. I just tasted it again today, two days later, and now I'm impressed! I guess it needed time to get it's stuff together, hehe.

It's a pistachio (I decided against filberts, aka hazelnuts) genoise, brushed with a simple syrup, with my choice of liqueur--Framboise. The buttercream between the layers and decorating the cake is mixed with a pistachio praline--delicious! Then the cake is brushed with a warm glaze made from fruit preserves mixed with water and cooked down until thickened. I used cherry preserves--so good! All of this is draped with a nice coating of chocolate ganache, and decorated (very simply, hehe!) with more of that spectacular buttercream. Speaking of the buttercream, I used the one from May's challenge, the Opera Cake.

What new tricks did I learn this month? Making praline and praline paste! This is the first time I've ever melted sugar, and I was nervous. It took forever to start melting! Ok, it took 20 minutes, but it seemed like forever. Then pistachios were stirred in, and after cooling on parchment paper, it was all whizzed in the food processor until it became a smooth paste. Could eat that stuff with a spoon!

Also, I learned that I could add more butter to my buttercream, since it was too soft and not firm enough. Cool! And it worked!

So let's get to the photos...

Processing the nuts, cake flour and cornstarch--the base of the cake.

Baked cake layers.

Finally starting to melt!

Cooling praline. I could have eaten it all as is.

Smooth pistachio praline paste. It tastes better than it looks, I swear.

mmmm, such a beautiful sight!

Almost ganache...

Can I make a cake with a smooth, mirror finish ganache? Apparently not. *sigh*

So now that it's two full days ofter completing the cake, I have decided it's delicious. Weird, right? I mean, I know some things taste better a couple days later, like shortbread and pound cake, but I thought this one would immediately knock my socks off. After all the time and energy put into it, I'm glad it's knocking my socks off now, and thrilled I gave it another chance before sending it to it's demise, hehe.

As always, it's great to get out of my comfort zone and learn new things, like green goo aka pistachio praline tastes damn freaking delicious. Who'd have thought?

Thanks, Chris, for a great challenge! See what other Daring Bakers thought of the challenge this month!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Turkish Pizzas and a Music Tag

It all started with my husband, Billy. He ran to Barnes and Noble to pick up a book, and grabbed this cookbook for me while waiting in line. How can I not love a man that willingly feeds my cookbook addiction?

It's called Oriental Basics, and it's by Cornelia Schinharl and Sebastian Dickhaut. ('howt? 'hot? hmmm...) Anyway, it focuses on Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Yemen and Oman. That's a lot, right? But it's a pretty cool book with lots of information and delicious looking recipes. Lots of beautiful photos, too!

These pizzas immediately jumped out at me--they're in the chapter on street food. (Are they authentic? hehehe! I'm not sure, but if you're from Turkey and these are all wrong, let me know!) Homemade, but easy dough--quick, too. And a great topping of meat and tomatoes with some great spices and flavors. I changed things around a bit. Instead of using shoulder of lamb or veal scallopini that I was supposed to buy whole, trim the fat, then chop finely, I bought a mix of ground pork, beef and veal. (I have been informed by the lovely Farida that people in Turkey don't eat pork. I mean no disrespect by using it here, just using what was available to me at the time.) That cut out about four hours of work right there! (ok, maybe not four hours, but still...) Also, I browned the meat first so I could taste the filling first. So important, I think. Because who wants to pull hot little pizzas out of the oven only to find them boring and bland? They had an option on the side of the page to add feta and cumin for a different type of pizza, so I added those to the filling. Aha! Now we're talking!

So would I make these again? Yes! The dough was easy and quick enough--a few minutes prep and one hour to rise. The topping was done in about fifteen minutes. Rolling the dough took just a few minutes and to bake--ten minutes. So it's not out of the question to have these on a weeknight, like we did. And they're not spicy, so they're kid-friendly, too!

These were baked with my good friend Shaye in mind. She's having a blog event that is a potluck picnic for her birthday. Get over to Smarter Than Pancakes to check it out!

Turkish Pizzas


just under 1 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil


2 small onions, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pound ground beef, pork, and veal mix (or your choice of meat)
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp tomato paste
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp sumac
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
4-5 oz crumbled feta

Prepare dough:

Mix the yeast, sugar and 1 cup warm water in a mixing bowl. Add flour, salt and oil, mix slightly, then knead the dough on a floured board until smooth (2-3 minutes).
Shape into a ball, cover and let dough rise for about an hour.

Prepare filling:

Heat oven to 450°.

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add the oil and saute the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
Add a bit of oil to the skillet if needed, then cook the meat until no longer pink. Add to the bowl with the onions and garlic.
To the bowl, add the tomatoes, parsley, tomato paste, spices and feta, and mix it all up. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Divide dough into 8 portions and roll out to thin circles. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment, and place 4 dough circles on each one. Spread some of the topping on the first 4, then put the baking sheet in the oven. Have 1/2 cup of cold water ready, and toss it in the bottom of the oven quickly, then shut the door.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. Repeat with last 4 pieces of dough.
Remove from pan to a cooling rack.
Roll pizzas up to eat.

Music Tag!

Sophie at Flour Arrangements has tagged me for a Music Meme! How fun is that? I love music and it's always on while I'm cooking. The idea of this tag is to list your 7 favorite songs and tag 7 more people. It wasn't hard to pick my songs, the ones I'm listing are right off the top of my head, and only a small handful of what I'm listening to at the moment. To give you an idea of what I listen to, I have Sirius Satellite Radio in my truck, and 99% of the time it's on Octane and and Alt Nation. And I love that I can rewind songs and torture my kids, hehe. Just like they do to me at home when they listen to their music. mwahahaha!!! Oh! And we can also listen to any NFL game whenever they're on. So if we're out on the road during game time, we don't miss a play. Is Sirius paying me to pimp them? No. I wish they were, though, hehe. I love them!

**Sorry if you found "extras" on my playlist on Saturday morning. My daughter was adding stuff she wanted to listen to, hehe.

So here is my playlist of 7 of my current favorites, from

I'm still totally addicted to the soundtrack from Across The Universe, so that's why "With a Little Help From My Friends" is in there. (There is only one song on the soundtrack that I don't like, and it's song #2, disc #2. I love Eddie Izzard, but they really could have left this song out and it would have been fine with me.) If you haven't seen the movie yet, you need to!

Instead of tagging seven different people, I'm leaving this tag open for anyone that would like to do it. It's a fun one! And if you use, it only takes a few minutes to make your playlist and get the code to post it on your blog.

Thanks Sophie! Not only was that a fun tag, but is a new site for me, and now I'm hooked--love it!

Also, for all you dog lovers, here are a few shots of my Corgis, taken yesterday on the deck--just because I think they're stinkin' adorable dogs.

Hamilton, or Hammy, most often--Ham.

Phoebe, most often--Pheebs

Print the recipe!

Turkish Pizzas

These are delicious and different from your everyday pizza. Easy ...

See Turkish Pizzas on Key Ingredient.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Sichuan Orange Chicken and Awards to go around!

If you click here, you'll see that cook's Illustrated (aka America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Country) have decided it's not ok for us bloggers to post their recipes. Even if they can't copyright a list of ingredients, and you write it all up in your own words. Especially if you make modifications to the recipe! God forbid you try to mess with one of their "perfect" recipes! They test each one 100 times and "don't allow modifications." WTFever.

From what I've seen, most cookbook authors are cool with bloggers making and blogging about their recipes. They embrace it, even! I have bought at least 3 cookbooks lately because you guys blog about them, and I think "Hey, I want more--I'm getting the book!" I know others that have done the same thing.

Cook's Illustrated is like Fight Club, but for recipes, I guess. And I also guess they like PR--who doesn't? But guess what? People are talking about them today, except they don't have anything good to say. That's what happens when you have a "team" that scours blogs and makes offending bloggers remove their recipes.

So I'm being proactive and removing this one. If any of you have bookmarked it, please email me and I'll send it to you. Because that's not intent to distribute publicly. It's one friend emailing another friend.

And I'm not doing any more of their recipes. Or on second thought--maybe I will, with modifications, and not name them as a source, hehe. Because they don't want any good things said about them. And you know, it's Fight...I mean Recipe Club and all. shhhh.....

Easy. Faster than ordering take out. Better for you than greasy take out. Full of flavor.
Did I get you hooked in yet? No? Then take a look at this:

This one is delicious, a bit spicy (which you can control), and addictive. Like "keep picking from the pan" addictive. I'm not saying that I did that, of course. My husband did. :) Seriously! But I would have, if I wasn't already full.

Served simply with brown rice on the side. And yeah, yeah, I know--there's no green veggie on that plate. So sue me, hehe. But hopefully anyone upset that there's no green will forgive me when they taste this. It's just packed with flavor! There's fresh OJ, which isn't completely necessary, I suppose, but it's so good in this. Also some orange zest and hoisin sauce. That's the sauce for this dish--just three things! Did I mention quick and easy?

No, I'm not a freaky super-juicer. But my KitchenAid food processor with juicing attachment is. There is NO juice left in those!

Sichuan Orange Chicken


Pam at For the Love of Cooking has bestowed upon me the "Arte y Pico" award. I love her blog--her pictures and recipes are constantly making me hungry! Thanks for the award, Pam!

Passing it along to:

VeggieGirl at VeggieGirl
Patricia at Technicolor Kitchen
Rhyley'sGranny at Tea and Wheaten Bread
Kathy at Panini Happy
Meryl at Inspired Bites

LyB at And then I do the dishes has awarded me the "I Love You This Much" award! Thank you, LyB! If you haven't checked out her blog yet, get your butt over there and prepare to get hungry! I'm feeling the love...

This award goes to:

HoneyB at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch
Sarah at Homemade
Lori at Made Healthier
Nikki at
Tiffany at Life After Gluten

And last, but certainly not least, Farida at Farida's Azerbaijani Cookbook has passed the "Yum Yum" Award along to me. Thanks you so much, Farida! You guys want yum? Go check out Farida's blog!

And my recipients are:

Garrett at The Flavor of Vanilla
Shaye at Smarter Than Pancakes
Renae at Renae du Jour
Katie at One Little Corner of the World
Amy at Delicious By Nature

All of these blogs are wonderful, so go check them out!

So is every other blog I read regularly! I think every single one of you deserve an award for all of the hard work,
creative writing, photo taking and eating cold (I know because I do, too!) you do nearly every day.

So I've created a new award, and it's for each and every one of you! It's the "Hard Working Food Blogger" award. And every single one of you guys deserve it. It's created for all of you because you take care in what you post. You stop during cooking to take step by step photos. You set up shots and take 20 or 30 (or maybe even more) photos to find the one that's just right, which means you often eat cold food. You upload, edit and post photos that you secretly pray Tastespotting or Foodgawker or any of the others will publish. You try to write interesting and witty things about your food, and sometimes have no clue what to write. Then you hope that your readers will like what they see. I know all of this because I go through it every time I make food and a blog post.

So take this award and post it on your blog if you like. Pass it along to anyone you want to. We're all hard working food bloggers and we are all deserving of a pat on the back.

Another quick note--summer is keeping me very busy. So keeping up with all of the blogs in my reader can be difficult. There's a lot in there, hehe! I am reading all of your posts, and can't always comment on each and every one, but I'm trying. By the time I finish going from the top of the list to the bottom, it's time to start all over again! :) Just didn't want anyone to think I was forgetting them. You guys are all very important to me. xoxo

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tried Tested & True Two: Cranberry Orange Muffins Get a Makeover

I L-O-V-E muffins. A kitchen with muffins baking is a happy least to me. Cranberry orange is one of my favorite ones to make, and of course--eat. They were a natural choice for me to mess around with and makeover to submit to Equal Opportunity Kitchen's Tried Tested and True Two.

TT&T2 is a bit different than the first TT&T. This time, the challenge is to take a family favorite and give it a makeover. Make it better for you, but still taste great.

So what changes did I make?

1) I cut out both fats--1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup butter, and replaced them with 6 oz of nonfat plain yogurt.
2) There are two cups of flour in these muffins, and I replaced one of them with white whole wheat flour.
3) Next came the sugar. One cup became 3/4 cup, and as usual, it's organic cane sugar.
4) I also chose a marmalade that had no high fructose corn syrup.
5) I added walnuts, which are good for you, too.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
6 oz plain nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup low fat milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp orange extract
1/4 cup orange marmalade
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 Preheat oven to 350°.
2 Sift together dry ingredients, and make a well in the center.
3 Add eggs, yogurt, milk, and vanilla & orange extracts.
4 Mix by hand until just blended.
5 Fold in marmalade, cranberries and walnuts.
6 Spoon into lined or greased 12 muffin pan.
7 Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool for a few minutes in pan, then turn out on to cooling rack.

Makes 12 muffins

Look at those gorgeous bottoms!

They turned out beautifully and I'm very happy with them! They are moist, tender, and not too sweet, just sweet enough. I'm scrapping the old recipe for the new, improved and better for us new one!

So make sure you get your makeover tried and true recipes ready and send them off to Giz and Psychgrad at Equal Opportunity Kitchen. It's sure to be an amazing, not to mention good for you roundup! You've got until Monday, July 21st at midnight EST. And there are prizes! How can you say no to that?

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

These muffins have had a makeover, so they're better ...

See Cranberry Orange Muffins on Key Ingredient.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

What to do when you make an ugly apple pie...

Serve it in a glass!

I had such high hopes. I really did. I've only made two pies from scratch in my lifetime, crust included. They were both tasty, but unfortunately, not pretty. And I know--looks aren't everything. But still, I wanted to make a pretty pie. I'm just going to have to keep trying, I guess.

So anyway, trying to get a pretty and perfect slice out of a not so perfect pie was not happening. Next best thing? Throw it in a glass with some vanilla frozen yogurt and call it Apple Pie Parfait! Like they used to say (do they still, I wonder?) in the ads for gag and joke things in the back of comic books..."Fool Your Friends!"

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks--Beat This, by Ann Hodgman. It's Classic Apple Pie, but I'm renaming it Triple Cinnamon Apple Pie. It's a triple threat with cinnamon in the crust, the filling, and as a topping. The flavor is fabulous!

No, I didn't use a whole stick of Crisco!

Triple Cinnamon Apple Pie
makes 1 - 9 inch pie

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup shortening
5 tbsp ice water
1 tsp vanilla extract

3 pounds Granny Smith apples (8 cups worth), peeled, cored and sliced
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 nutmeg
2 tbsp unsalted butter

milk for brushing over crust
1 tbsp sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 cups pie weights (or dry beans or dry rice)

Prepare the pastry!

Stir the dry ingredients together, or add them to the bowl of your food processor and pulse to mix.
Cut the butter into smaller pieces and add them and the shortening to the dry stuff, or mix
in with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal.
Add the ice water and vanilla and process until a dough forms, or if not using a food processor, mix with a fork until the dough comes together.
Divide the dough into two portions--one slightly larger than the other. Press each into a disk about one inch thick, wrap in plastic and stick them in the fridge to chill for at least 1/2 hour.

Now don't sit there admiring the cinnamony dough you just made! Get to work on the filling!

Preheat oven to 350°.
Put your prepared apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice.
In a separate smaller
bowl, mix to combine the dry filling ingredients.
Now this is very important, so pay attention.
When making fruit pies, unless your specifically told to, do NOT mix the fruit with the dry ingredients until just before you fill the pie crust. If you do, may God have mercy on your soul.
And your pie.
The fruit will do it's thing when you mix it with other stuff, and it'll get all juicy.
This translates to a soggy pie.
(Did this intelligent tidbit of pie making advice come from me?
Hell no! This is the author's advice, of course.)
So leave the two separate bowls alone until
you're ready to fill the crust.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch deep dish pie plate.
Flour your rolling surface and roll
out the smaller dough disk until it's a 12 inch circle (Or if you're like me, a shape that resembles a foreign country, not a circle, and is "slightly" (term used very loosely) larger than 12 inches.)
Line the pie plate with the dough, trim the messy edges (As if we'd have messy edges, right? Who, me?), and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Butter a piece of foil and place it butter side down in your chilled bottom crust.
Fill with 2 cups of
pie weights, dry beans or rice.
Bake this on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling
rack, remove the foil and weights and let the crust cool slightly.

While it's cooling, roll out the other dough disk to (hopefully) a circle about 13 inches in diameter.
Let it sit for a second.
Now you have permission to mix the apples and the other dry filling ingredients, except the 2 tbsp butter.
Working quickly, pile the apples into the bottom crust.
You should have a mountain
of apple slices.
Dot the apples with little chunks of that butter.
Now is the tricky part.

LOOK at all the cinnamon on those apples. It's almost illegal how much cinnamon there is.

Top the apples with the top crust, and crimp it to the bottom crust.
is this tricky?
Well, besides the scary "how in the hell am I going to get this crust up off the
counter and on to the pie" moments, unbaked crust doesn't really want to stick to baked crust.
But do your best, because if I can get it to crimp, anyone can.
And I did.
And no filling leaked
out and all over my oven. Whew! It's the little things that make me happy, really.

Trim off any ragged edges (Ok, I had a LOT) and cut about 4 oval shaped slits in the crust to let steam out during baking. Make sure they're big enough to stay opened as the crust bakes and expands. (More author advice there.)

Quickly brush the top crust with milk, and sprinkle all of that delicious cinnamon and sugar over the top.
Bake the pie in the lower half of your oven on a cookie sheet for one hour. (Ann says to
bake on the bottom rack, but I baked one up from that. I know my oven, and it gets all pissy when I put things on the bottom rack, and then it burns them as a nice payback.)
The cookie
sheet concentrates the heat to the bottom of the pie tin, helping to make the bottom crust flakier.

After one hour, transfer the pie and cookie sheet to the middle rack and bake for 10
more minutes.

Allow to cool slightly before slicing.

So if any of you decide to try this pie--and I hope you do, it's really that good--I hope it looks prettier for you. But if not, scoop out some of it and toss it in a pretty glass with ice cream and make Apple Pie Parfait. I'm sure whoever you serve it to won't be worried about what happened to the pie.

And remember, if you're looking for a place to share your recipe as well as get "print me" widgets for your blog recipes, go to Key Ingredient. It takes just a few seconds to sign up, and getting your widget is almost as fast. :)

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Triple Cinnamon Apple Pie

This one will leave your lucky family and friends wondering ...

See Triple Cinnamon Apple Pie on Key Ingredient.

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