Monday, December 21, 2009

CEiMB - Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs (better late than never)

I'm late with this post. It's Christmas season. Give me a break. I'm stressed like the rest of you! It's what. . .three days until Christmas and I'm not ready.

Today I went to Walmart. Not Walmark. Not Walmarts. Just Walmart. (You might have to be southern to know what that comment actually means). Traffic was backed up for miles. Everyone is out shopping and they are driving crazy!! My grocery list was two arms long. Walmart did not have everything I needed of course, so tomorrow will be another trip to Publix for more supplies. You would think a big snow is headed my way if you saw my list of food. But it is just Christmas fixins!

On top of all that, I need rehab. I am totally addicted to homemade chex mix. Addicted I tell you! I started eating it this morning with my pumpkin spice coffee before I ate my cereal. Then the hand continued to go into the chex mix every half hour or so the rest of the day. I'm making more tomorrow.

The maple mustard thighs were so easy to prepare. Very tender. But I'm not a big mustard fan so these were not my favorite. The darling yankee loved it of course. Bless his heart, there isn't much he doesn't like! So easy to please. I'm lucky. If you like mustard, you definitely should try these. As you can see, mine did not brown well either.

Tessa of Handle The Heat chose this recipe.
I watched Julie and Julia last night and was so inspired. I give it a thumbs up. I actually liked the "Julie" part better than the "Julia" part of the movie however.


Ingredients
4 large bone-in chicken thighs, skins removed (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons grainy French mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Combine mustard, garlic, marjoram and maple syrup in a small bowl. Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard mixture evenly on top of each chicken thigh, being careful to cover as much of the surface as possible to form a "crust." Arrange chicken in a glass baking dish. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until mustard mixture has formed a crust and is slightly hardened, and juices run clear when the chicken is pierced.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers - Croissant Bread Pudding

Happy Holidays and a big thank you to all of you who cooked with me this week!

I am the hostess this week for our Barefoot Bloggers group. We cook with the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, enjoying every delicious morsel her foods provide for us. After much deliberation, I chose Ina's Croissant Bread Pudding. I chose it for three reasons. First, because I love bread pudding, second, it seemed a festive thing to make here in December, and third, since we are in the midst of the busiest season of the year, I knew it would not be too time consuming.

I made two additions to the recipe. I added about a teaspoon of cinnamon and about 1/2 cup of pecans, for the simple reason that I love cinnamon and pecans. If you are having guests over this month, don't hesitate to prepare and serve this. You cannot go wrong with this bread pudding. It is the yankee's favorite dessert and he complimented me not once, not twice, but after each bite.
He did say, however, that the pecans did not add anything to it.
You know bread pudding started I think as a way of salvaging stale bread. My family had it a lot as I was growing up so it is comfort food for me. We never had it at Christmas time however. Christmas brought fresh coconut cakes, red velvet cakes, pecan pies, mincemeat pies, and Italian Creme cakes. And let's not forget the fruitcake. Yes, I've heard all the fruitcake jokes, but I actually loved the ones my mother baked every year. They were chocked full of nuts and candied cherries. I think bread pudding will become my new Christmas tradition!
In keeping with my movie quotes this month, does anyone remember in what movie Christmas dinner is highlighted by the presentation of plum pudding, which Bob Cratchit proclaimed "the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage." If you guessed Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, of course you are right! While I cannot guarantee that this bread pudding will be the greatest achievement of your life, I can promise it will delight your tummy and bring a smile to your face. Enjoy!

Croissant Bread Pudding
1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All rights reserved
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients
3 extra-large whole eggs
8 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 croissants, preferably stale, sliced horizontally
1 cup raisins
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up), being sure the raisins are between the layers of croissants or they will burn while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.
Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, November 23, 2009

TWD - All in One Holiday Bundt Cake

It's my favorite time of the year! This week especially. My birthday is Wednesday and Thanksgiving is Thursday and all that food we can consume!! Happy Birthday to Me!

On our Tuesdays with Dorie group, we had the option of posting our recipes this month in any order we chose. This week I am posting the All in One Holiday Bundt Cake chosen by Britin of The Nitty Britty. Use this link to jump over to her website to get the recipe. This is one you do not want to miss. It is called all in one for a good reason - it has everything but the kitchen sink in it! While I thought the cake would taste more pumpkiney (is that a word?), it really tasted more like an apple cake to me. It is filled with pumpkin, apples, cranberries, pecans, and lots of yummy spices.



I took it Saturday night to my birthday bash at our dance club and everyone really enjoyed it. The comment I heard the most was how moist it was. My DH ate a big hunk of it this morning for breakfast with our Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes. You gotta love those! It was a huge hit at my house and with my friends. My good friend Janet made her famous brownies for me and they are always a hit as well.
the cake was NOT responsible for this behaviour however!! Just Matt and Nathan messing around. . . .

MOVIE NEWS: I can't end this blog without reporting on seeing New Moon. While I thought it was way better than the first Twilight movie, it still was a bit slow. The special effects however were awesome. And so were Edward and Jacob. . . .oh to be a teenager again! I can't wait for the third movie to come out in June.

HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

TWD - Cran Apple Crisps

Here's a movie quote. One of my favorite movies of all time. Do you know what movie it is from? I'll have the answer down below in case you don't.

"As God is my witness, as God is my witness, they're not going to lick me! I'm going to live through this, and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again - no, nor any of my folks! If I have to lie, steal, cheat, or kill! As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."

Em of the Repressed Pastry Chef chose Cran Apple Crisps for the month of November and what a great choice that was. It filled my home with the most wonderful fall smells. One might think Thanksgiving has already come!
I am not really sure I did the crisp part right. I just sort of blobbed it on there. I'm writing this before I taste it, but I'm sure it tastes superb if it is anything like the smell. Yum.
Check out the recipe at Em's blog and while you are there browse around. Em has some wonderful foods to share with you!
If you guessed Gone With the Wind you would be correct! Thanks for playing along.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TWD below - CEiMB - Carrot, Green Apple, and Mint Salad

This week's Ellie recipe was chosen by Jessica of Singleton in the Kitchen. Check out her blog. I always enjoy reading Jessica's adventures.
I have to admit, this week's recipe, however, did not excite me initially. However, I changed my mind after making it. We loved it. I think the only change I would make next time is I would like to have raisens in it. Also, the mint did not thrill me so I might leave it off. The dressing, however, was delicious! I am not sure what the difference is in regular yogurt and greek yogurt, but I loved the taste of this.

We enjoyed it with some rotisserie chicken and a vegetable concoction I came up with at the last minute consisting of corn, peas, turnip greens, and pinto beans. I mixed all those together and heated it up and it was very tasty. The carrot salad was a crisp and delicious side.
Thanks Jessica for choosing this! I felt I had made a very healthy dish.
I'll leave you with a favorite quote, "The sooner you fall behind the more time you'll have to catch up. " Ain't it so.

TWD - Sugar Topped Molasses Spice Cookies


It hasn’t been my best day and yet here I am blogging. You know what they say, some days you are the bug and others you are the windshield. Well you guessed it - today I’m the windshield!

And sometimes it only takes a good cookie to turn your entire day around. Or a good laugh at Walmart. Have you ever really looked at the people walking around Walmart? Some of them need to ask Scottie to beam them back their clothes! Half naked is never a good look for shopping. But then, maybe their gene pool could use a little chlorine if you know what I mean!

This week in our Tuesdays with Dorie group, one of my favorite bloggers, Pamela of Cookies With Boys chose Sugar Topped Molasses and Spice Cookies. I was not excited about making these cookies, but I did like the way they turned out. I thought they could do with more spice though. I also plan to use them as a topping for the Apple Cranberry Crisp that I will be making tomorrow night which is another TWD dessert. Check out Pam's blog because she is super creative AND the recipe for these great cookies will be there.

Okay, mine are small. I made very tiny balls. And yes, they are a bit burned around the edges. What can I say. I also forgot to dip the glass in sugar when I pressed them out. Put on your big girl pants and deal with it!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

TWD is running late - Check back on Friday

First, please check back with me on Friday to see my Tuesdays with Dorie treat of the week. Cranberry Apple Crisp.
Second, coming Thursday will be CEiMB's Carrot and Apple Salad with Fresh Mint.
And third, there always has to be a third, right? Third, is Ina Garten's Pot Roast.

All coming soon to a blog near you - namely mine!

Movie recommendation - Pinkstripes recommended "Once" to me and I watched it this afternoon. If you are a fan of musical type movies, you should definitely check it out. We also watched State of Play with Russell Crowe and Ben Afleck and it was a very good drama.

Happy week and again, please check back later in the week.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CEiMB - Pumpkin Pie Muffins

Our host this week is Oddball Oven Mitt and she refers to herself as Hat and Fappy. I love that. She chose Pumpkin Pie Muffins for us to bake this week and she is one of my favorite people today because of that. With fall here, anything pumpkin that comes my way gets scarfed up, chewed up, devoured, swallowed whole, and enjoyed! I love the smell of it as well as the taste of it. It makes my home smell delicious while it is baking. It makes me feel warm and happy.

The food we make during the fall season is one of the only things I like about fall. The leaves changing is another one. I hate the weather and I hate that it means cold weather is knocking on our doorstep. Give me spring and summer any day over fall and winter.

I added a few chocolate chips to some of my muffins and topped the rest with walnuts. These were easy to mix up!

Oops, where is the twelfth muffin? It's missing. There was not enough batter for twelve. But I had eleven nice big, fat muffins.

Check out the recipe and whip up a batch for yourself! Have a wonderful Halloween weekend. We'll be dressing as pirates this year. Photos will be coming next week!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TWD - Sweet Potato Biscuits

I take any opportunity I have to make biscuits. I love them all. Buttermilk, sour cream, or sweet potato! I was very excited that Erin of Prudence Pennywise chose this recipe this week for our Tuesdays with Dorie challenge. It's Halloween - grab your witch's broom (you know you have one tucked away in that closet) and fly over to Erin's webpage for the recipe. While you are there, be sure to read her fabulous, warm, witty post that goes with her baking.

I loved these biscuits. I love anything pumpkin or sweet potato and they were perfect for fall. Easy to make and delicious served with butter or jam. Have a wonderful week.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

CEiMB - Tuscan Vegetable Soup

In the south, we do not expect cold temperatures in October. It was so cold this weekend a snowman showed up on our front porch asking if he could sleep on our sofa! I'm a bit dramatic, but while I was shopping yesterday I truly needed a coat. It is good soup weather however!

Movie review - The Proposal - absolutely adorable. Another Sandra Bullock hit.

I'm a bit late with this post, and I changed the recipe a bit. I added hamburger to it, and also a few spiral noodles for substance. I left out the white beans and used limas. I did not precook the vegetables and I left out the spinach leaves.

If you need a bit of warming up this week, try a good bowl of this soup! Delicious. Use your witch's broom (you know you have one) and fly on over to Lobster and Fishsticks' post to see how hers cooked up. Thanks Pam for choosing this week's recipe.
Tuscan Vegetable Soup
courtesy of Ellie Krieger
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional
In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth and tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes more.
Serve topped with Parmesan, if desired.


Friday, October 9, 2009

No CEIMB this week - but will return next week!

Please forgive me. . I've been lapse lately. I have missed some very important tasty looking recipes. I hope to do better starting next week!
Loved all your cheese sandwiches, new york breakfasts, and chop suey!!
Please share. . . come on over. . . I'll get you a glass of iced tea to go with.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CEiMB - Black Bean Mexican Style Pizza or Post Surgery Ground Beef Unspicy Pizza

I hope you all notice the one lone black bean on the plate above because when I look at this photo, that is all I see. Of course I didn't see it when I was snapping the shot. You had to know that right? But now that I am looking at it closely, I think it adds interest and creativity, don't you? Who else thought to have a straggler bean all by itself on the edge of the plate? That is major, huge, outstanding creative photography. I'm just sayin.

Since the yankee isn't supposed to eat spicey foods this week, I was very hesitant to make this. However, my sweet blogging friend Joanna of Apple Crumbles, the host of this week's recipe, offered a few suggestions for me as to how to change things up and de-spice the original recipe. Be sure to check out her blogsite to see how it is supposed to be made. Joanna is a creative cook and very adept at changing recipes to meet vegetarian needs so I always like to check out her blog.

First, I cooked some very lean ground beef and then added 2 T. of V-8 juice. I used whole wheat tortillas. The bean dip you mix up to use as the base is very tasty. I left out the jalapeno and the onions (used onion flakes) this time, but I suggest you leave that in. Then you mix in a food processor to make a smooth dip.
So together we layered tortilla, bean dip, hamburger, then tortilla, thinly sliced tomato, mexican grated cheese, and topped with cilantro and cabbage. It really is quick to prepare and we loved it. A little on the bland side, but when you have just lost an organ, albeit a small one, bland is always a good thing. You cook for ten minutes and voila. . .dinner!!!


Ingredients
4 corn tortillas, or whole-wheat tortillas (6-inches in diameter)
1/2 cup Black Bean Dip, recipe follows
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the tortillas onto a baking sheet and spread 2 tablespoons of black bean dip on top of each tortilla. Top with tomato and cabbage and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pizzas from the oven and sprinkle some cilantro on each one. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into wedges.
Black Bean Dip:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a skillet over a medium heat. Add onions and saute until they soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and jalapeno and cook for 1 minute more.
Put the beans into a food processor. Add the onion mixture and the rest of the ingredients and puree until smooth.
Yield: 1 cup

Monday, September 14, 2009

TWD - Flakey Apple Turnovers

Enjoy the photo of these beautiful apples. Because the following photos you should view at your own risk. My dough did not turn out right. I'm not sure what went wrong, but the stars and the moon did not line up for me. And of course this is my first post for TWD since July because I took a break for our Italy trip. Wouldn't you just know I would mess up on this one? My turnovers are huge - honkers even. And dough was kind of hard and crumbly. Okay I'll admit one thing - I thought that was a tremendous amount of butter to put in the dough and I left a tad of the butter out. Why oh why did I question Dorie? Dorie the master chef. Who am I?

Please please please go to Julie at Someone's Kitchen's blog who chose this recipe for the week and see how these are supposed to look!
I'm also a horrible wife. The yankee had his gallbladder removed just four days ago and this is what I fed him for dinner tonight because I had to make these apple turnovers that did not even turn out.
Hey -it's healthy, right? See where it says LOW FAT.

If you laugh at the following photo, there is no telling what fate will befall you. I'm just sayin. Halloween is coming. You should smile, not laugh. It's a mess I will admit. I'm not coming to your blogs either to see what wonderful, delicious, flakey, oh so perfectly formed apple turnovers you made. I'm sorry - it would be torture for me. The END.


Of course I'm joking. I would love to see your perfect turnovers and maybe learn something.
Because you were kind enough to visit my blog, I'll leave you with a little eye candy. We saw All about Steve while we were in Dallas last weekend. It was really funny.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

NO FOOD BLOGS THIS WEEK - SORRY

Chandler, or "the Yankee" as I fondly refer to him, is having surgery tomorrow so I will not be cooking/baking and probably not even eating much this week. Check back next week for more recipes!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CEiMB post below this one: BAREFOOT BLOGGERS - White Pizza with Arugula

I'm a pizza lover. But only if it has a white sauce or a thin layer of red sauce. If it is running over with red sauce, I'll share. Otherwise, get out of my way while I cut myself the largest piece! One of my favorite pizzas is California Pizza Kitchen's club salad pizza. When I saw the recipe that Andrea of Nummy Kitchen chose for this week, that is immediately what came to my mind.
The dough was easy to mix up but I tried to halve the recipe and just make one pizza instead of the six small ones Ina suggested. And there is a reason the lemon in the above picture looks like it has already had the life squeezed out of it. Because it has. I squeezed the lemon juice and then remembered I needed a slice for the pizza!

This was delicious and will be made again at my house! Check out Andrea's and the other Barefoot Bloggers and see how theirs turned out here! That Ina Garten never fails to deliver a great recipe. At first glance, it may "sound" complicated, but it really is not.
Ingredients
For the dough:nocoupons
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For the topping:nocoupons
3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled
For the vinaigrette:nocoupons
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby arugula
1 lemon, sliced
Directions
Mix the dough.
Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
Knead by hand.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.
Let it rise.
Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Make garlic oil.
Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)
Portion the dough.
Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
Stretch the dough.
Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)
Top the dough.
Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.
Make the vinaigrette.
Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Add the greens.
When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.
TIP Make sure the bowl is warm before you put the water and yeast in; the water must be warm for the yeast to develop.
TIP Salt inhibits the growth of yeast; add half the flour, then the salt, and then the rest of the flour.
TIP To make sure yeast is still "alive," or active, put it in water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. If it becomes creamy or foamy, it's active.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CEiMB - 100th Post!!!!!! Chicken Sate with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

It seems like just yesterday that I joined my first cooking group and that was 100 posts ago! I'm excited that on my 100th post I can tell you about my trip to Italy and also, my good friend Cathy of The Tortefeasor picked this week's recipe for our group. Life just doesn't get much better than this, right?
First, let me say that cooking with Cathy has been a real encouragement to me. We have enjoyed sharing tips about recipes and many discussions about our "pick." When Cathy first came to work at my firm years ago, I was her assistant. I remember my son came to my office to visit (he was 15 or so at the time) and saw Cathy and said "Mom, who was that hottie?" I said "who, Cathy? That's my boss!" I don't think I've ever told her that story. Little did I know at that time that she had real honest to goodness writing/blogging/cooking/comedic talent as well as being attractive to teenagers! She's a rockstar for sure.
Cathy chose Sate Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce this week. I wasn't sure about making this because I am a seven ingredient or less kind of girl. Long lists of ingredients scare me. I'm always afraid I will leave something out. This recipe, however, was quick to prepare and delicious. Loved the peanut sauce. I served the skewered chicken with stir fried vegetables and corn on the cob. The only substitution I made was I used onion flakes instead of the shallot and a stainless steel skewer instead of the cute bamboo ones!


Chandler and I flew into Venice Saturday before last and immediately took the wrong vaporetto going the wrong direction. We quickly figured that out and got off and got on the correct one. We were so glad we took only two small bags since you had to drag your luggage through the streets of Venice. They have no roads and no cars! Our hotel was like a castle and I felt like a princess staying there. We really loved Venice. Then we took the fast train to Florence where we checked into yet another great hotel. Different from the one in Venice, but wonderful nonetheless. I loved the architecture, the food, the people, and especially the person I was sharing it all with. He's a pretty special guy. The yankee and I celebrated our 11th anniversary in Florence, Italy last Tuesday.



We had some wonderful food and wine. We did not get into St. Mark's Basilica due to the long waiting line. It was at least two hours long. Although we enjoyed walking around Venice and the water, I think we liked Florence more. And there was gelato - every day! We visited the museum that houses the statue David. I'm in love with that statue. Don't tell anyone, but I actually have a magnetic paper doll of him on my refrigerator. I have many different outfits I can dress him in. I wanted to take a photo of him in the museum, but it was against the rules and after the guard practically tackled me to the floor screaming at me when I made my first flash in the museum, I reluctantly put my camera away. Others, however were breaking all rules and snapping away. So then I thought, well maybe it was just no flash so I proceeded to hide behind a pole and try to figure out how to turn off my flash. While I was doing that, the guard again caught me and screamed "No camera, no photos - prohibited!" Well after the second reprimand, you don't have to tell me three times. I'm not sure why they just didn't tell us when we entered the museum that photos weren't allowed. Really, wouldn't that have made the most sense?
I think the highlight of my trip (other than seeing David) was the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It took my breath away with its beauty. But it was extremely hot there. . . at least 94 degrees. And no, my camera was not crooked!

On the way home, the Paris airport was a nightmare and we literally had five minutes to make our flight after waiting on their shuttle (which never came), running through the airport, going through four security ques, etc. Once we got home, there was another one hour security line in Atlanta. So tired, we finally went to bed at 10 that night only to have to get right back up and go to the emergency room. My husband was in so much pain I thought he was having a heart attack but it turned out to be gallbladder. I guess he'll be having some surgery soon. He's looking forward to that about as much as a sharp stick in the eye.

Here is the recipe for Ellie's chicken sate:

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (or 2 additional teaspoons low sodium soy sauce)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast pounded slightly and cut into 1-inch strips
Directions
8 (8-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked for 20 minutes
3/4 cup Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, recipe below
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped toasted peanuts
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, coconut milk, soy sauce, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime zest, and ginger. Add the chicken strips and marinate for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
Spray a nonstick grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over a medium-high flame. While pan is heating, thread chicken onto skewers. Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side, until meat is cooked through and has light grill marks.
Serve chicken skewers with Peanut Dipping Sauce, and garnish with basil or cilantro and chopped peanuts.
Yield: 4 servings (2 skewers and 2 tablespoons peanut sauce per serving)
Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Sauce can be made 1 day ahead of time, and will keep 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CEiMB - Grilled Thai Beef Salad

I made this salad a week ago for our Sunday lunch because I knew I would be out of town on posting day for this. I hope you are in awe of my dedication to my group! Me, actually planning ahead! My friend Jennifer of Jen-B's Cooking Carveout chose this week's Craving Ellie challenge.

I could not find flank steak so I chose a different cut, but it was still very good. I marinated the meet overnight and then grilled it for a few minutes on each side.

I forgot to add the cilantro, but I added a few avocado slices and fresh cucumber slices.

We really enjoyed this dish and I would definitely make it again!! We ate while we watched The Elegy with Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz. A strange movie to say the least! Not awful, not great.

See you next week with news of my trip abroad. :) And the 18th (yesterday if you are reading this on the 19th) was my anniversary with the Yankee. We are celebrating in Italy! Eleven years and we hope for fifty more!!
Grilled Thai Beef Salad

Ingredients
1 pound top-round London broil or flank steak, about 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons red curry paste or chili-garlic sauce
1/2 head red-leaf lettuce, torn (about 6 cups)
3 shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup), divided, for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried
1 cup basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
Directions
Rinse and pat the meat dry. Place in a sealable plastic bag or small glass dish. In a medium bowl combine 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, soy sauce, canola oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and red curry paste. Pour half the mixture into the bag with the meat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice to the bag. Seal tightly, and marinate meat in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Reserve the rest of the mixture refrigerated, to dress the salad.
Spray grill or grill pan with cooking spray and preheat. Grill steak until medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side, depending on desired doneness. Let rest until room temperature then slice thinly against the grain.
Combine lettuce, sliced shallot, cilantro, basil and beef in a salad bowl, reserving a few shallots for garnish. Add the reserved dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad among 4 plates and garnish with reserved sliced shallots.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CEiMB and Barefoot Bloggers - Stuffed Turkey Burgers and Frozen Mango Banana Daiquiris

As you read this, I am most likely roaming the streets of Venice, or perhaps enjoying gelato in Florence. Yes, okay, eat your heart out! I was trying to figure out how I could manage to cook everything before I left and I could not believe my luck when I saw Veronica of Supermarket Serenade had chosen Frozen Daiquiris for this week's Barefoot Bloggers choice!

We were having a lazy Saturday afternoon, the yankee was paying some bills, and I handed him this delicious concoction to try. We put away the checkbooks (I mean what fun is that, paying bills?) and put in our Netflix movie of the week, Confessions of a Shopaholic. While we watched, we sipped. Yum.


They were not quite as "frozen" as I would have liked, but they were delicious nonetheless. The only change I made was to use spiced rum because that is what I had on had. Thanks Veronica - I owe you one for this great pick!


Mango Banana Daiquiris
serves 4
2 cups chopped ripe mango (1 to 2 mangos, peeled and seeded)
1 ripe banana, chopped
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
1/4 cup sugar syrup*
1 1/4 cups dark rum, such as Mount Gay
Mango slices, for serving
Place the mango, banana, lime juice, sugar syrup, and rum in a blender and process until smooth. Add 2 cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick. Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with the mango slices.
*To make simple syrup, heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Chill.

CEiMB - Stuffed Turkey Burgers

It was MY pick this week in our Craving Ellie in My Belly group! Woo hoo! I tried to think of something that might work for everyone! I ended up choosing Ellie's Stuffed Turkey Burgers. I'm leaving for Italy soon and time was a huge consideration.

These were so easy to prepare and a delicious meal you could fix anytime, weekend or middle of the week. First you make thin patties of ground turkey and you top with shredded mozzarella and roasted red peppers.

Then you top with another thin patty of turkey breast and crimp the two together around the edges and add salt and freshly ground pepper.

Then you sit back and enjoy a budlight with lime while you grill them. Foam, foam, go away!!


We probably overgrilled ours a bit which made them a little on the dry side. Still, very delicious!



I really hope everyone who made these enjoyed them as much as we did. And for those of you who haven't tried them yet, do. They are healthy and a fast dinner fix! I served with a tomato slice, red leafed lettuce, on a sesame bun. But there are endless possibilities with these. Next time I will add a little grated carrot and maybe use monterey jack cheese for a little more pep. With school right around the corner, you could not ask for an easier meal.

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

Ingredients
1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey breast
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Divide turkey into 4 equal sized rounds. Make 2 equal sized patties out of each round so you have 8 patties total. Sprinkle 4 of the patties with 2 tablespoons red peppers and cheese, and top with remaining patties, working the turkey around the edges to seal burgers closed. Season with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Grill or broil until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sorry again, no TWD this week!

Taking a break until September on TWD. Do check back in on Thursday for some great turkey burgers!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BAREFOOT BLOGGERS - Peach and Blueberry Crumbles (or if you don't have blueberries, substitute blackberries)


Aggie of Aggie's Kitchen chose this week's Barefoot Bloggers recipe for us -Peach and Blueberry Crumbles. Thanks for a great pick Aggie! I really enjoy cooking and baking with Aggie!

I started to buy blueberries, but then I remembered I had frozen some blueberries a month ago and decided to use those. However, when I got home and began preparing to make the recipe, I remembered I had fresh blackberries that were just about to go to waste so I decided to use those instead. It is a woman's perogative to change her mind, twice right?

Speaking of berries, is it just me, or does everyone find that fresh berries only last like a day after you get them home? I bought raspberries and one day later they had mold all over them. I have tried keeping them in the refrigerator and they get wet and mushy. So this time I left them on the counter and they got mold on them. I guess the only solution is to freeze them? Any thoughts on this subject? We love our fresh berries on our cereal in the morning.

This was very easy to assemble. You just peel and cut up your fresh peaches, add your berries, some sugar and flour, cinnamon, etc., then make a crumble to put on top. My crumble was more like a pie crust because my butter got too soft before I mixed. I put the mixture in four ramekins and baked. They were so delicious. Great for summer. Like a good fruit cobbler, only better! Of course I had to tear myself away from Farmtown (which I am totally addicted to) to get them out of the oven. I ate my crumble while it was still warm and I harvested my crops on facebook! Sweet!!!

Try the recipe. It's so easy.


This recipe is not available on the FoodNetwork website:
For the fruit
2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)
For the Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.
For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and back for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles int he refrigerator and bake before dinner. Serves 5 to 6.

CEiMB - Oven Baked Onion Rings


One of my very favorite bloggers, Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen chose Ellie Kreiger's Oven Bake Onion Rings as this week's choice for our group to try.

Now the yankee hates onions. I'm not even sure the word hate is strong enough. He will occasionally tolerate cooked ones. So I knew if I made these it would be up to me to eat the entire batch. I did feel I was up to the challenge that night.

Stopped by the store and got what I thought were all the ingredients I needed, only to get home and realize I forgot the buttermilk. So I improvised and used whipping cream with a little sour cream added to it. Other than that, I followed Ellie's recipe. I used Baked Lays potato chips. The milk mixture was probably not quite as sticky as the buttermilk would have been, but it seemed to work overall pretty well.

Meanwhile, I had Chandler out back grilling us some hamburgers to go with. While the onion rings were baking I went outside and had a Bud Light with Lime along beside him. We usually like darker beer, but we have both really enjoyed the lime flavored bud light this summer.

To be nice, he said he would try "one" onion ring for me, emphasis on one. I was raving over them and after he ate the one, he decided he would like some more. We thought they were fabulous. So crunchy and tasty. I used vidalia onions so they were not strong tasting. Loved the spiceness the cayenne pepper added to them. We ate the entire batch between the two of us. Yes, okay, we are such gluttons. I admit it.

I would never have tried these on my own and I am so glad Mary Ann picked them. Thanks for a great pick and all of you out there have to try these sometime. Click on Mary Ann's blog to get the recipe. Trust me when I say, they taste a lot better than they look in this photo!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

CEiMB - Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce


This week's recipe for our Craving Ellie group was chosen by MrsBethORama at Supplicious and it sounded really good so I was excited to make it. Be sure to check out her blog and see how hers turned out.
I went swimsuit shopping on my way home from work. Is there anyone alive to who loves to swimsuit shop? They were almost sold out so I came home suitless. Not naked, but suitless. That means more shopping on Saturday!

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that it is just really difficult to find a good breast anymore? Chicken of course. They are either so big that you need a wheelbarrow to get them in from your car to the kitchen, or they are dry and tasteless. The yankee and I grilled a few breasts the other evening so I thought I would chop one up and add it tonight in this wonderful asian inspired dish.
I put the whole wheat noodles on to boil. I slightly roasted the peanuts. I cooked the broccoli and snow peas. I made the sauce minus the onion. Now, I'm not sure, but I'm thinking my sauce did not turn out just right. When you make a peanut sauce, is it supposed to stick to the roof of your mouth? Precisely. That was my first clue that something was amiss. Then, I look around, raise one eyebrow, and there is the dry... ish chicken that I have chopped up right before my eyes. I decide right then and there to try the peanut sauce as a dip. That dry chick just loved it. I got so into dipping the chicken pieces into the dip that I almost forgot to save some for the noodles!

All joking aside, I was alone for dinner tonight as the yankee is at his camera class. Not a photography class, a camera class. I loved this dish, would definitely make it again, and I can't wait for Chandler to try it when he gets home. It will be his supper (we pronounce that suppah here in the south, for those of you who prefer to call yours dinner).

Great pick this week!!
Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce
Ingredients
3/4 pound spinach linguine or whole-wheat spaghetti
2 cups (about 9 ounces) broccoli florets
2 cups (about 6 ounces) snow peas, trimmed
2 cups (about 6 ounces) sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 scallion, cut into pieces
3/4 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup shelled unsalted peanuts
Directions
Cook the pasta in a large pot of water according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water. While the pasta is cooking put the broccoli in a steamer basket over a large pot of boiling water and steam it for 3 minutes. Add the snow peas and sugar snap peas and steam for 2 minutes more.
Toast the peanuts in a dry pan over a medium heat until they become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set them aside to cool. Make the sauce by pureeing the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, lime juice, scallion, ginger, sugar and red pepper flakes in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Right before serving, toss the pasta with 3/4 cup of the peanut sauce. Divide into 6 serving bowls and top each serving with the vegetables. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the vegetables. Coarsely chop the peanuts, sprinkle them on top and serve.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TWD - Plum Brioche Tart

Thank God I took today off. I was planning to make the brioche last night until I read the recipe and realized it was one of those two day recipes.

First you mix up the dough. ...

The Dorie says to put the dough into a clean bowl .. ..
Then you let the dough rise . . . (never my favorite part I'm so impatient) . . .

Then you refrigerate. So I made the dough last night and let it refrigerate overnight. Then you cut up the fruit, add some jam on the bottom of the crust and some walnuts with sugar on top and voila - bake in the oven! The only problem I had was the dough was a bit sticky after it warmed up to my hands.
Cathy had warned me that hers did not cook in the middle and to make sure I cooked it long enough for the juices to be bubbling. I hope I did, but it looks a bit runny in the center. Also, Dorie says it will sound hollow when you tap it. Where the heck are you supposed to tap it when there is fruit all over the top of it. Maybe I used too much fruit.
I just finished baking the tart just now and it looks divine. I just this minute cut a piece and it is cooked through and through. Maybe even a little too much. It cut perfect and it tastes delicious. Maybe just a little hard on the outside crust.


Thanks to Denise of Chez Us for choosing this week's adventure. I cannot wait to try it!! You can check out her blog to get the full recipe. Have a great week! I'm off to a pool party. . . . .