Saturday, September 30, 2006

Chicken Wraps

This was supposed to be called Chicken and Spinach Salad Wrap, but spinach has been pretty scarce now for a while, with the E. coli scare going on. So I had to make do. Instead of spinach, I used lettuce and fresh parsley. A nice leaf lettuce would have been pretty, but for some reason, I only had boring old iceberg. So that's what I had to use. No one complained, lol! It tasted great! I really wish I could have had fresh spinach, though. It would have been even better!

I didn't cook the chicken the way they said to in the recipe. Instead, I cooked it on the cast iron griddle. I just didn't feel like dealing with dredging it in flour for some reason.

Oh, yeah, one last thing: I mashed some avocado and spread it on the tortilla before adding the other ingredients. You can only improve a recipe by adding avocado as far as I'm concerned!

I know the pictures are not quite in focus. I really am an amateur, learning as I go. It was shortly after taking these pictures that I learned how to use the macro feature on my camera. Duh. I really don't have any clue when it comes to photography, lol!

Thanks to Cuisine at Home April '06 issue for the recipe!




Chicken & Spinach Salad Wrap


Makes 4 wraps
Total time: 35 minutes


1/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 teaspoon Cajun spice mix
salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons vegable oil
4 strips thick-sliced bacon, chopped
1/2 cup Braeburn apple, thinkly sliced
1/2 cup red onions, slivered
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (seemed like too much to me, so I used 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup apple jelly
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
4 flour tortillas, 8-10"

Toast
almonds in a skillet over medium-high heat, about 6 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Season chicken wtih Cajun spice and salt, then dredge in flour. Heat oil in the same skillet over medium high, then saute chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from pan and slice lengthwise into 12 pieces. Wipe out the pan and return it to the burner.
Saute bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain bacon and pour off all but 1 tablepoon drippings.
Add apple and onions to the drippings; saute until softened, about 1 minutes.
Deglaze with vinegar; simmer until liquid is nearly evaporated.
Add the jelly and mustard; cook until jelly is melted and dressing has thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in almonds and bacon, season with salt, then toss dressing with spinach and goat cheese.
Heat tortillas according to package directions or over a gas burner.
Assemble wraps by arranging about a cup of salad on each tortilla; top with chicken. Roll tighly secure wit a toothpick, and serve immediately.

Hannah's Cake

I've recently started subscribing to the Family Fun Magazine. Every issue has a section that spotlights a child making a recipe with a parent's guidance. Hannah always gets excited and wants to make that recipe.

This is the result:



Honestly, we didn't like this recipe so much. The cake was a little dry. We prefer the Amazing Tunnel Cake. For some reason it was much better.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Fabulous Four

Tamale Cakes

I haven't eaten polenta much my lifetime, but I like it. This recipe is basically polenta that has been cooled and then cut into rounds and lightly battered and fried. I thought it was quite good, if you like polenta. The family wasn't to impressed though, lol!

The recipe was for the whole meal, which included the corn cakes, topped with Pico de Gallo and Carnitas (meat). I could tell that the meat was not going to be good. I made a little just to prove myself right. It was more like a sweet barbeque sauce flavor, which just didn't work with the simple flavors of the corn cakes and Pico de Gallo. Because I knew we wouldn't be eating the meat, I made the Pico de Gallo heartier by adding some black beans. I also added cucumber because I couldn't think of a good reason not to.

This recipe came from the Aug 2006 issue of Cuisine at Home.




Tamale Corn Cakes


Makes 10-12 corn cakes; Total time: 1 hour + chilling


For the corn cakes:
3 cups simmering water
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1/3 cup masa harina
3 cups fresh corn kernels (I used frozen extra sweet corn)
1 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
salt to taste
For the batter:
2 eggs, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Fry in:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Top with:
Pico de Gallo
Goat Cheese

Lightly coat a 9x13" baking dish with nonstick spray
Whisk cornmeal gradually into simmering water, then whisk in the masa harina. Stir in the corn and cook until mixture is thick and smooth, about 5 minutes. Off heat, add Parmesan, cayenne, and salt. Spread mixture into prepared dish and chill for 1 hour. When firm, cut into cakes. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Dip cakes into the egg mixture, then dust with flour. Fry in oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, browning both sides. Transfer cakes to a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet; keep warm int the oven.
Serve warm cakes with Pico de Gallo and goat cheese.

Pico de Gallo

1 cup black beans
1/2 cucumber
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

We had some avocado that would have been wonderful with this, but I completely forgot to use it!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tostadas

This is basically like tacos, but actually a little easier to eat, lol! No need for a recipe, just use what you have/like.

I like having refried beans for the first layer. It helps all of the other toppings hang on.

If you have a pressure cooker, then you can have refried beans in no time at all. I put the dry beans in the cooker, add water and a little oil, and bring to high pressure. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes and then turn off heat and allow pressure to drop on its own. Once I can open the cooker, I fill the food processor with beans, a little olive oil, and a clove of garlic. Process until smooth (adding water to thin as needed), add salt to taste, and there you go! The whole process takes about 1/2 hour.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Evolution of the Sticky Bun: Maple Walnut Sticky Buns

Remember my Walnut Sticky Bun Post? And my Sticky Buns Revisited? Well, I'm going to repost the recipe. I find that if I make a recipe often enough, it goes through changes. While this recipe is still very similar to the previous ones, I just wanted to update everyone on what I do now. Yes, I actually make these more often than I'd like to admit.

I now call these Maple Walnut Sticky Buns. And they are good good good!

To get a nice close up of this sticky bun, click on the picture. Its just beautiful!! Brings tears to my eyes! Seriously, click on it right now. I'm not joking. After you have looked at the full size picture, you have permission to keep reading this post.


Ok, now that you have looked at the full sized bun, wipe the tears (of joy) from your eyes and proceed:

Maple Walnut Sticky Buns

Dough:
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (the kind that you add to the flour without proofing)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (I used 4 cups in the dough)

Filling (the way I make it, which is doubled):
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Topping:
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (yes, the good stuff!)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons cream or half and half

The Dough:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine.

In a microwaveable bowl (I use a two cup pyrex measure), melt 1/4 c. butter. Then add the milk and microwave for about 30 seconds. Add the eggs. Whisk until smooth.

Add the liquid mixture into the dry, and mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining 2 to 2 1/2 cups of flour. Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (adding a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. I like to make sure the dough is quite sticky at this point. It makes for a more tender dough.

With oiled hands, remove the dough from the mixing bowl, and place in a large, oiled bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the oil from the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (or 2 hours if not in a warm place).

While the dough is rising, I make the filling and topping.

The Filling:

I just melt the butter in a microwaveable bowl and then add the cinnamon and sugar and stir until smooth.

The Topping:

In a 1-quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and maple syrup over low heat; stir until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan and sprinkle walnuts on top.

After the dough has risen, gently punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board or counter top and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes (ok, I don't usually let it sit, but I think that if you let it rest for a few minutes, the dough will relax a bit and be a little easier to shape).

Roll dough out into a 12" x 18" rectangle (I never measure and my rectangle is never picture perfect). Spread cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the top of the rolled dough.

Starting with the long side, roll dough into a long cylinder. (my cylinder is always pretty lopsided, but it still works just fine). Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 12 slices. Dental floss is good for this, but I often just use a serrated knife.

Place dough slices, flat side down, on top of prepared topping in the 9x13 pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake buns until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately (and carefully as not to spill hot topping on your toes!) invert onto a serving tray or baking dish.

Let buns cool slightly and serve warm.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Doing some housekeeping...

I'm cleaning up some dusty drafts from my blogger dashboard. These are posts that I never got around to posting for whatever reason. Often it was because I didn't think they looked appetizing enough. Well, that, and the fact that some of the pictures are out of focus.

Here ya go!


Carmelized Garlic Chicken

I made this quite a while ago (more than a month, I think), but was reluctant to post it because it just looks so unappealing to me! It is called Carmelized Garlic Chicken. The name conjures something much more pretty than I made. See if you agree:



It just looks sad, lol! It tasted very garlicky and slightly sweet. Definately nothing special!

Quail


Thats right. I said Quail. It looks horrible! I couldn't get a decent picture and it didn't taste great either.






ugh!
Beef Stroganoff

1/2 lbs beef, cut thin
flour
salt and pepper
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb mushrooms
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry
sour cream
noodles

These next two recipes tasted good, but I didn't get good pictures. The rice pudding needed some perfecting. Of course creme brulee is simply heavenly!

Creme Brulee




Rice Pudding


Another Chicken Salad

I've got some drafts that are sitting around getting dusty in my blogger dashboard. I'm just gonna post 'em, ok?

This was another chicken salad. Quite delish as far as chicken salad goes!



Yet Another Chicken Salad


Chicken
mayonnaise
Cucumbers
dried cranberries, chopped
Walnuts, chopped
onion, chopped
garlic, chopped
curry powder
lime juice

Just toss in what looks right, and stir to combine. Eat!

Chocolate Fodue

The kids were begging. I relented. We ate Chocolate Fondue.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Chicken Hash with Squash and Kale

This was supposed to be Chicken Hash with Squash and Kale, but it has sweet potato and kale in it instead. There was no winter squash at the store! Nope, none! Last year we grew some good eatin' squash in the garden, but we didn't get anything this year. I think it was a lethal combination of heat, drought, and being out of town. Ok, that, and I'm a bad gardener.

Anyway...

I followed the directions the same whether for squash or sweet potato. They require about the same amount of cooking time. I think I cut back on the dried cranberries. One cup just seemed like too much.

I got the recipe from the Oct '06 issue of Cuisine at Home. It was pretty good, though I wouldn't say it was a hit with the family. They mostly just tolerated it. Dh said it was a waste of real maple syrup, lol!



Chicken Hash with Squash and Kale

4 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into large chunks
4 cups kale, stemmed, chopped
1 lb. boneless, skinless chiken thighs, cut into 2" chunks (I used breasts instead)
Salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup red onion, sliced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage (I had to use dried, no fresh at store)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Blanch squash in a large pot with salted boiling water until almost cooked through, 3-4 minutes; Off heat, stir in kale and let stand, uncovered, for 3 minutes; drain vegetables and st aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in the same pot over medium-high and saute chicken until browned on all sides.
Add the onion and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the prepared squash and kale, cranberries, and sage; saute another minute.
Whisk broth, syrup, and Dijon together; pour over the hash. Simmer until liquid reduces by half, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cute Overload

I think I have found the best website in the whole world. Hours of good clean cute fun!!! My kids and I just spent an hour hovering around the computer, going "ooooohhhh", and "aaaaaahhhhhhh"! Definitely check it out!!!

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

This was a nice soup! My kids didn't totally love it, but I thought it was great! I got it from the Oct. '06 issue of Cuisine At Home. I love this magazine. Most of the recipes I try are above average. I have had a few that were so-so, but none that were downright bad. I also like that there is no advertising in the whole magazine! I have from time to time subscribed to Bon Apetit, which I like, but I hate the pages and pages of ads. When I was getting it, the first thing I would do is go through each page and tear out the ones that were only ads!

I was in a hurry when I made this, so I made it in a pressure cooker. I just threw everything in and cooked at high pressure for about 3 or 5 minutes (I can't remember now). The only problems I had were that the lentils were not quite done, and there was too much liquid. When using the pressure cooker, none of the liquid gets to escape during cooking and sometimes you have to cut down the liquid a bit in the recipe. Oh yeah, one more change to the recipe: I substituted orange juice for the wine.

I found that my cilantro pesto was a perfect complement to this soup. I stirred some in with the sour cream right before I ate it.




Curried Sweet Potato Soup
with lentils, tomatoes, and yogurt

There's a lot of flavor in a bowl of this quick soup! Be sure the curry powder you use is fairly fresh or the soup's intensity will suffer.
Makes about 4 1/2 cups; Total time: about 40 minutes


1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup carrot, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
1 bay leaf
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 T. vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sweet potato, peeled, cubed
1 t. curry powder
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup brown lentils
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste
Plain yogurt or sour cream

Saute
onion, carrot, clelery, ginger, bay leaf, and pepper flakes in oil in a pot over medium-high heat until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and curry powder; saute 1 minute.
Deglaze with wine; simmer until almost evaporated, then stir in broth, tomatoes, and lentils. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until lentils and sweet potatoes are tender, 25-30 minutes.
Off heat, stir in 2 T. cilantro, lemon juice, and salt. Garnish each serving of soup with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and some of the remaining cilantro.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'll admit it.

I'm addicted to playing with my template code and creating new backgrounds and logos. I hope its not annoying to you readers, because I'm not sure I can stop.

Chili Chicken Skewers with Cilantro Pesto

This was a muy muy good recipe! The chicken skewers themselves were pretty good, but when eaten with the pesto and the sweet potatoes, it was out of this world!

I grilled the chicken on a cast iron griddle on our stove inside the house. Dh refuses to buy a gas grill. When we barbeque, its only in our authentic ceramic hibachi grill, and Sean is always in charge. Our cast iron griddle has a flat side for cooking things like pancakes, and the other side has ridges, like a grill. You place it over the burners to heat it. I used it to grill the chicken and it worked perfectly. I swear that it tasted like it was grilled over coals. My house got a little smokey and I had to do a little extra cleaning around the stove, and the griddle itself is quite hard to clean afterward, but its worth it!

I got this recipe from the Feb '06 edition of Cuisine at Home, but of course I made several adaptations.



Isn't the pesto beautiful!?



Chili Chicken Skewers with Cilantro Pesto

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 deseeded, coarsly chopped anneheim chili
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil (I used 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup water)
Kosher salt to taste
1 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chiken breast halves
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Process cilantro, parsley, anneheim chili, peanuts, lime juice and garlic in a food processor until minced. Add 1/2 cup oil (I used half oil, half water), blend until smooth, then season with salt.
Cut the chicken into twenty 1 1/2 to 2" chunks. Combine brown sugar and seasonings in a bowl, add chicken pieces, and toss to coat. Thread 5 pieces of chicken onto each of 4 skewers.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a grill pan thats been coated with nonstick spray over medium-high. Grill chicken untill browned well, about 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Thransfer pan to the oven and roast an addtional 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooded through (I didn't do this because I didn't read the directions thoroughly, I think it would have worked better if I had). Serve with sweet potatoes, and cilantro pesto for dipping.

Chunky Banana Sweet Potato Mash recipe accompanied this recipe, but I just made baked sweet potatoes instead. I knew that adding bananas to the sweet potatoes would be a major turn off for my family. The plain sweet potatoes were great with this recipe!

The cilantro pesto went perfectly with the next day's meal, also...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dinner

Lemon pasta with kale, mushrooms sauteed in basalmic vinegar, and sauteed yellow squash with onion. Nothing fancy, just our dinner the other night.

I knew I wasn't going to give a recipe, and I tried not to take a picture. But I couldn't put that first bite in my mouth until...

I'm hopeless.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Corn Bread

I guess I had forgotten that my kids really like corn bread, because I was a little suprised when they got all excited over eating this. It was moist and yummy.

This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Garden's red binder cook book.




Corn Bread
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup fresh or frozen sweet corn

Stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs milk, and oil. Beat just till smooth (do not overbeat). Fold in the fresh or frozen corn. Turn into 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 8 or 9 servings.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cole Slaw

This is just some basic cole slaw I made to go along with my pinto beans.

I never do the exact same thing twice when it comes to slaw. There are some basic rules I follow:

  • Go easy on the mayo. Less is more. Its high calorie, and I really don't like an over dressed slaw. I usually add as little as I can, and add more if I really think it needs it. This time, I had some homemade ranch dressing, so I used it instead of mayo this time.

  • For a basic sweet and sour dressing, use equal parts mayo, sugar, and vinegar (I got this tip from my sister-in-law, Sesika). I usually don't measure, though.

  • I always like shredded carrot added for color. Its not really neccesary, but I think it looks better.

  • Another great addition to slaw is crushed pineapple. Actually, my parents always made slaw this way when I was growing up. Just cabbage, mayo, and pineapple. I like it that way, but I like the added vinegar.



Cole Slaw
cabbage
carrot
homemade ranch dressing
onion
vinegar (don't add to much or you will be puckering while you eat.)
sugar
salt
pepper

Pinto Beans

Hmmm..What to make for dinner? I didn't have anything planned and we needed to go to the store. I had some dried pinto beans, a pressure cooker, and everything to make corn bread and cole slaw. That sounded yummy. These beans turned out to be like a vegetarian chili, I guess. With the cole slaw and the corn bread, it was indeed an excellent meal.

Of course I didn't really measure. Just throw in the amounts that feel right. I tried to give approximate amounts.



Pinto Beans


about 3/4 lb dry pinto beans, cooked (about 2 cans)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup diced red pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
can of diced green chilis
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
14 oz can petite diced tomatoes

Saute the onion, red pepper, and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the chili powder, paprika, and cupmin, and saute a minute or two more. Stir in the green chilis, tomatoes and pinto beans and simmer until everything is cooked just right. Add water if the mixture gets too thick.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ranch Dressing

Come here and lean in close. I'm going to tell you a secret. One that Hidden Valley doesn't want you to know. Shhhh....

Ok, let me whisper in your ear...

The secret to great tasting Ranch dressing is the mayonnaise and the buttermilk.


Yup, thats it! You don't need to buy an expensive seasoning packet. All you have to do is mix those two ingredients together and toss in some seasonings from your pantry, and you are good to go!

Send all money saved from this hint to me, ok?!


1 cup mayo
1 cup buttermilk
some minced garlic (or garlic powder)
some chopped fresh parsley (or dried)
some parmesan cheese
salt
pepper
not too much dillweed (or fresh would be yummy!)

optional: a little mustard (not too much, maybe 1/4 tsp), finely minced (or shredded) onion, fresh cilantro, whatever you can think of.

Mix the mayonnaise and buttermilk and then add the seasonings to taste. I promise that you will like it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Onion Rings

I only make onion rings once every 2 or 3 years. I made them a week or so ago. The recipe wasn't perfect, so I'm not giving it to you.

But, here's a picture! Ta-da!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Chocolate Cake

I know, I know. I make desserts too often. You don't have to tell me. My fat arse already knows.

I used the chocolate cake recipe from here:

Homemade Chocolate Cake Mix Recipe

The frosting is a basic butter frosting recipe.

The top of the cake frosting is way too thick. I know. I used it sparingly for the middle, and had tons left for the top, lol. Also, the plate I put it on caused it to dip a bit in the middle, so I leveled it out with the frosting. We had to scrape it off as we ate, to avoid overload!



Parfait?

Ever since he first watched Shrek, Dylan has been asking about parfait. He has been wanting me to make it. I mean, if Donkey says its good, then it must be good. Finally, he specifically asked for it for his birthday last April. I had to do something that resembled parfait.

So just what is a parfait? I really couldn't figure it out so I just sort of made something up. I made some yummy cake from scratch. And then I just layered the cake in the goblets, along with lightly sweetened strawberries, and sweetened whipped cream.

The result was yummy, even if it may or may not have been actual parfait.



This picture was taken on Dylan's birthday, last April.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I'll Never Win

Ok, so the other day, I didn't have anything for dinner. We had been gone much of the day and it was getting late. So I ran to the local grocery store and bought some cheap-o pizza. Red Baron brand.

I cooked it and served it to my kids. Do you want to know what Hypatia said when she took her first bite?

"mmmmm...This is the best cheese pizza I ever ate!"

Why do I even try with this girl!!??!! I made homemade cheese pizza the other day, and she prefers this?!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sloppy Joes

For some reason, our grocery shopping has gotten all out of whack. I haven't been able to take my list and buy everything I need for a week. All of the decent grocery stores are 20 miles away, so its no small thing to go and do all my shopping. I've just been running to our local store (which is pretty limited) every day to get whatever I think I might need. What happens as a result is that I'm making a lot of those stand-by recipes that I just throw together, without measuring.

Thats what these sloppy joes are. Just put in what tastes good and let it cook. No measurements. I'm sure you have done this too, so I'm guessing I'm not really inspiring anyone here. I'm just showing you what I made.

Sometimes I add my own secret ingredient: crushed pineapple! It just mixes right in and adds a nice sweet flavor. I didn't have any on hand, so I didn't do it this time, though.

I like cole slaw with my sloppy joes. I eat it right on it, with the bun. I'm the only weirdo in the family who does this, though.



Sloppy Joes


ground beef, about 1.5 lbs
onions, minced
garlic, minced
green pepper, diced
ketchup, a couple long squirts
worcestershire sauce, about 2 tablespoons
mustard (small amount),maybe 1-2 teaspoons
barbeque sauce, a few dollops

In a skillet, saute the ground beef and drain off excess fat. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. When the onion is translucent, add the ketchup, worcestershire sauce, mustard, and barbeque sauce. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, and adding a little water if the mixture gets to thick.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Okra

We were at a local vegetable stand that had some fresh picked okra. I thought to myself, "Ok, I'll try it again". Okra takes some getting used to. I'm not used to it yet. That slimy inside is just not always pleasant.

I tried roasted okra, inspired by Susan of FatFreeVegan.

I added thinly sliced garlic.

We are still trying to like Okra.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Soba Noodles

I've never eaten Soba Noodles before. Nope, not once. So, when I was wandering through the aisles of an Asian food market, I spotted some and thought I'd give it a try. When I returned home, I looked on the internet for a suitable recipe.

I found one by Emeril that seemed interesting. So I gave it a try.

It had good flavors but it wasn't really a big hit. I think it had to do with the texture created by combining the peanut butter sauce and cold soba noodles. It was a little wierd. I also think that the sesame oil flavor was a bit strong. I use sesame oil, but I use it rather sparingly. I guess I like a hint of it, not getting hit over the head with it.

I probably won't make it again.

This is the dried noodles, before being cooked. Aren't they pretty?






Emerils.com

COLD PEANUT, CHICKEN, AND SOBA NOODLE SALAD

Ingredients needed:

* 12 ounces dried soba noodles, or other buckwheat noodles
* 3 tablespoons sesame oil
* 1/4 cup chopped green onions (green tops only)
* 1 jalapeno, seeded, stem removed, and minced
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1 teaspoon minced gingerroot
* 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
* 1/4 cup soy sauce
* 1/4 cup chicken stock
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 tablespoons fish sauce
* 1 tablespoon Sherry
* 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 1 teaspoons sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
* 1 whole skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into strips and lightly poached, and chilled
* 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
* 2 tablespoons chopped roasted unsalted peanuts


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, cover and refrigerate.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 tablespoons of the green onions, the jalapenos, garlic, and ginger, and process on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, the peanut butter, soy sauce, chicken stock, cilantro, fish sauce, sherry, lime juice, sugar, and pepper flakes. Toss the sauce to taste with the noodles.

To serve, toss the noodles with the chicken strips, bell pepper, cucumber, peanuts, and remaining 2 tablespoons of green onions, and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chickens

Um, ok, yeah, we have chickens. 25 to be exact. We've been considering getting some, so Sean buys 25. Is he crazy?!

I'll let you know how this goes. For now I need to read up on chicken-y stuff.

No we don't keep them all in that little cage. Thats just what we used to transport them to our house. They get to roam around a lot!











Monday, September 04, 2006

Greek Pasta

Ok, I just called it Greek because it has feta and olives. Sounds like Greek to me, lol! Anyway, its just one of those quick throw together meals that wasn't measured.

Hmmm...I guess I didn't put any garlic in it. I'm sure it would benefit from it. Also, if I had any fresh parsley, I would have thrown it in too. Fancy shmancy olives such as kalamata would be nice here too. I don't keep them on hand (special occasion food here), so I just used green olives.



Greek Pasta

Noodles
cooked chicken diced or shredded
roasted red peppers
marinated artichoke hearts
green olives
green onions
Caesar Dressing (or homemade)
feta cheese, crumbled

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Otai

I worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center back in 1989-90, in the Gateway Restaurant. We would serve the tourists that came through, but they also did catering for local events. One time, as part of a catering job, we made Otai. It is a Tongan drink. I think it was tasty. I don't remember, lol.

Well, we had some watermelon on hand, and I was trying to decide just what to do with it and I got the idea to try some Otai. We excitedly sliced the melon open and upon seeing the interior, my daughter stood there, with her mouth gaping open. "Wha??? Look! Its ORANGE!!" She thought that we had somehow gotten a mutant melon from Mars. I waited a minute before I told her that some melons are orange, on purpose. Heehee. I just had to watch her suprised face a minute longer.

I wasn't expecting an orange watermelon. Sean had bought it and he's notorious for not noticing details when buying things. He handn't realized it was orange either.

Hmmm...would this work for Otai? Eh, why not? So I made the saddest looking Otai in history. Just see if you agree...



Otai

watermelon
coconut milk
pineapple
sugar
ice

You are supposed to smash the watermelon with your fingers, then add the other ingredients and stir. I think I ended up blending it in a blender. It wasn't too sweet, so I added some sugar.

It was nothing special.

We made popsicles wtih what was left over, and they were pretty good.

Key Lime Pie

We got this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine a few years ago. Its simple and fabulous. If you can get your husband to juice those teeny tiny key limes, then its even better!

But first, a little history...

Community Bakery in Little Rock makes fabulous desserts. Sometimes Sean and I go there when we have a night to ourselves, without the children. Sean's favorite is always the same, French Silk Pie. Mine, on the other hand, is the Key Lime Tart. Of course, I started working on the recipe. I knew if I could figure out just what was in it, I could make it at home and charge my family $3.50/slice. I'd be rich!

It was at that time our current Bon Apetit issue arrived. In it was a recipe for a two-layer Key Lime Pie. We tried it. I recognized the first layer to be the same as the Community Bakery Tart. The second layer is a cream cheese layer. The cream cheese layer is very good, and Sean considers it essential. If this dessert were being made just for me, and me alone, I would leave it off. We always make it with the cream cheese layer.

I have made the crust as the recipe states, with granola, but usually I just make a simple graham cracker crust.



Two-Layer Key Lime Pie

8 servings

Crust
3/4 cup granola (with no raisins or other dried fruit)
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 6 whole graham crackers)
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar

Baked Layer
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh Key Lime juice or lime juice
3 large egg yolks

Chilled Layer

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup fresh Key Lime juice, or lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sweetened whipped cream

FOR CRUST: Prehaeat oven to 350 degrees F. Using on/off turns, blend granola in processor until coarsely ground. Transfer granola to meduim bowl. Mix in graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press crumb mixture over bottom and up sides of a 9 inch diameter deep dish glass pie dish. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Remove crust from oven and cool completely.

FOR BAKED LAYER: Whisk condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. Pour into pie crust. Bake until custard is set, about 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

FOR CHILLED LAYER: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, condensed milk, lime juice, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl. Pour over cooled baked layer, smooth top. Cover and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. Pipe sweetened whipped cream decoratively around edges of pie. Cut into wedges and serve.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hummus

Many of you already know about the joys of eating hummus. And for those of you who don't, let me be the first to educate you. Its good stuff. Eat it.

My first introduction to hummus was at the ripe old age of 24. I was just married and visiting my new in-laws in Germany with my new husband (no, they are not German, they lived there for work). We made several trips to this falafel stand in Berlin. I hadn't heard of falafel either, but since it was rather "normal" looking, I just ate it up and didn't think twice, (tasted great!). I was a bit skeptical the first time I saw the hummus, though. What was that pasty looking stuff? I don't think I dared taste the hummus until the second or third falafel trip.

Since those days of ignorance, I have developed a deep and abiding love for hummus, (and my in-laws!). Upon our return from Germany, I began the process of learning how to cook. Eventually I tried making hummus. Wow! So easy to make and yummy too!

We now eat hummus regularly and everyone in the family likes it! Yes, even Hypatia. She doesn't want the vegetables with it, but she likes the hummus with pita bread. You know its good if she will eat it!

It is a nice summer meal because it doesn't require any cooking, unless you cook dry beans rather than opening a can (I usually cook them in a pressure cooker). Other than that, you just need a food processor or blender.



I don't really measure anymore, but the ingredients for hummus are basically this:

2 cans chickpeas, drained, reserve liquid
2-3 cloves minced garlic (more or less, you decide how strong you like it)
juice of 2 lemons (again, I keep adding lemon until it tastes right)
1/3 cup tahini (some recipes call for as much as 2/3 cup)
1/4 cup olive oil
water or reserved bean liquid for thinning
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, add the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, garlic, and extra add-ins. Process until smooth. If its too thick, thin with water. When its just right, stir in salt and pepper to taste.

That's it.

I usually add in one or more of these ingredients:
1 tsp. freshly ground cumin
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
1/4 cup loosely packed parsely
some roasted red pepper

This time, I added cumin and fresh cilantro. I also used roasted garlic instead of fresh, which was really nice. It was a much mellower flavor. I added many cloves of the roasted garlic, much more than I would of the fresh. If you overdo the fresh garlic, you end up with an extremely sharp garlic flavor that can be hard to handle, expecially for kids.