Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday America, sweet land of Liberty

I hope everyone had a safe and happy day yesterday in honor of our great nation. No matter the dissimiliarity of our backgrounds, our religion, the state we live in, or the myriad of other differences, we enjoy a common bond with each other, and that is freedom. Even in these tough economic times we can still find plenty to be thankful for. It is nice to reflect on how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to celebrate with our friends and families in the manner of our choosing. I can only imagine how each of you celebrated the day, and my thoughts naturally went to the food prepared and served and, of course, fireworks at dusk, happy children, lakes, swimming pools, sitting on the porch or patio with friends at the end of a joy filled, beautiful day. I know we are thankful for our men and women who are serving this great nation in the Armed Forces, who have made and are making sacrifices so we can enjoy our freedom. Life is still good in America, embrace and love it! I am proud to be an American, in case you haven't noticed!

And I have been remiss in my cooking and blogging lately. It has been hot and humid in Central Florida, which has left me in no mood for food, so I have been working outside with my camera and flowers. I need to return the kitchen and get cooking. All I have to share are nature pictures for now, I hope you don't mind!

Read more!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Take the pressure and heat off Dad on Father's Day

It would be a nice surprise for the man in your family, if you prepare a delicious meal featuring ribs, ( one of his favorites), without even firing up the grill. I can help with that, and with a little advanced planning and minimal work, take you out there with him to have fun in the hammock, in the pool, on the deck, in a lounge chair or what ever strikes you and your honey's fancy. You won't even have to ask him to lift a finger (off the remote control?) to light the grill. Sounds too good to be true, I know, but you can do it! My recommendation is don't just save this recipe for Father's Day, or even for the heat of summer---use it as a year 'round treat or bribe. The ribs are fall off the bone tender and so flavorful and juicy you won't believe how easy they are to make. I usually buy the large package of pork spare ribs from Costco, cut them into single sized portions. When ready to serve, I freeze any surplus packets that won't be needed for the immediate meal. I love having these packet babies in the freezer and I know you will too! Happy Father's Day guys, you earned and deserve a break. Enjoy your day!

Helluva Good Ribs
adapted from Amuse Bouche

Per person: half of a rack strip. This will be approx 10 - 12 riblets per person if using baby backs, and you have cave men appetites, or smaller if preferred. I use spare ribs cut into 4-6 ribs per serving, depending on the size of the ribs and their meatiness
Dry rub (recipe below)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
BBQ sauce of your choice

The night before:
Cut your racks into your preferred portion size . Add brown sugar to the spicy dry rub and mix thoroughly. It all depends on your heat to sweet level. Massage the dry rub vigorously over ALL of each rack. Using heavy duty large sheets of aluminium foil put each rack into an individual foil package and refrigerate.

Preheat Oven to 300 degrees F
Place foil packets on baking sheets and place in pre heated oven for 2-1/2 hours.

Optional finishing( for sauce and BBQ grill freaks, who want or need to to use the grill and or BBQ sauce, but totally unnecessary: Heat grill and remove packets from the oven after two hours.
Take rack out of the package and discard all of the fat that has accumulated. Brush each rack with sauce. Place bone side down on grill and heat just long enough to carmelize the sauce. Do not flip or turn over to the meat side as you risk it sticking to the grill. Remove and serve with extra warmed sauce on the side.

Dry Spice Rub
Adapted from Amuse Bouche, who adapted it from Emeril's 'Real and Rustic' Hint: make in big batches and keep sealed in a glass mason jar. You will find a lot of uses for this mix.

8 TBS paprika (I use half hot and half sweet, sometimes I replace one or twoTBS with Spanish smoked hot or sweet)
3 TBS cayenne ******less, if you are timid or weak on heat
5 TBS freshly ground black pepper (easiest way is to put fresh peppercorns into a spice grinder or old coffee grinder that you
have cleaned by whizzing up rice or bread)
6 TBS garlic powder
3 TBS onion powder
6 TBS salt (this measure is for Kosher, which is larger, if you use iodized, use less)
2 and 1/2 TBS dried Oregano
2 and 1/2 TBS dried Thyme
Mix well in a big bowl or place in mason jar and shake well.

Read more!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Going Bananas

I have previously blogged about my habit of over-buying bananas and looking for recipes to use "beyond their prime" bananas. I have another favorite recipe that I would like to share. But first, have you seen the e-mail that is circulating about banana facts? I enjoyed reading it and wonder just how much of it is true. One of the ideas is that if you peel a banana from the the opposite end from the stalk end, all of the strings will come off with the peel. Pretty neat, eh? I tried it and it worked. If you believe everything in the e-mail, bananas are the best thing going. In my book, they are good and readily available and reasonably priced. I like how they add moisture and flavor to recipes. I love peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Now I love these muffins from Elise at Simply Recipes. Irresistible: chocolate, bananas, walnuts and they freeze well. What's not to love? I love the notion that muffins are a nice way to keep your portion within a reasonable boundary and if they are in the freezer, you are less likely to justify eating them in multiples, like you have to before they go bad. I like them in the freezer to help qwell a sweet tooth. What is your favorite way of using up those bananas beyond the peel and eat stage? My friend Kathy is always asked to bring her signature banana recipe for Not Your Mama's Banana Pudding to every eating function that she attends. It is so good it is always gone first and often eaten before the main course. (Mama's not around to object!) I won't have a photo to share of Kathy's recipe, but I will post her recipe for you. Also, I have not tried this, but have it in my do-list--check out this post over at Yum-Sugar for bite- size frozen banana treats--great idea for poppers, don't you think? Don't forget to share your favorite too, and get going--bananas!

Banana Nut Muffins
adapted from Elise at Simply Recipes

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tbsp espresso or strong coffee (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup of flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted or raw)
1/2 cup chocolate chips


No need for a mixer with this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

Mix in the sugar, egg, espresso and vanilla.

Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.

Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it's done. Cool on a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding
Recipe adapted by Kathy from Paula Deen

2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

Read more!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Heritage and Okra Stew

As I was trolling recipes on the internet this week, after a trip to the Farmer's Market and my purchase of a pound of fresh cut okra pods, I started thinking about ethnicity, heritage and okra. I love okra just about any way you can prepare it. Being raised in the South, we added it to soup and gumbo, and of course cut into discs and then deep- fried (the only way I could interest my girls in okra, when they were young-- and that was only after telling them it was like eating popped corn!). Okra is known by many other names in many other cultures. I know of at least two: bammies and lady fingers. One of my very favorite ways of eating okra is a stew of okra, corn, and tomatoes. One always knew, when that combination started showing up on the dinner table, or on the menu of a home-cooking restaurant, that those three crops were in from the fields. I digressed and got carried away. Thanks readers, for the indulgence. Back to this week, when I was looking at a Greek Food Blog this week, there it was, a very similar dish. I am not Greek, but really guys, I was amazed at just how similar the recipe was. The only difference: in the Greek dish, potatoes were added, where we always used corn. So, there was an ah ha moment and the small red skinned potatoes were added with the corn and we loved it. We're not all that different after all, are we? Good food always finds itself onto the table, no matter who you are, where you are or where you came from.

Okra, Corn and Tomato Stew

2 medium yellow onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 lb of okra, stems removed, trimmed
1/2 cup plum tomatoes, hand-crushed, or use one 15 oz can tomatoes broken up
3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
5-6 allspice berries
2 cups of vegetable stock (chicken stock works too)
salt and pepper to taste
6-8 small red potatoes, leave skin on if you like
2 ears cooked or uncooked corn, kernels cut from the cob, or a small can of whole niblets

1. In a pot over medium-high heat, saute onion slices in olive oil for 5 minutes or until they are sweated. Cover,
reduce the heat to medium and and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
2. Add okra, corn, crushed tomatoes, parsley, garlic, allspice and vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.
3. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for about twenty minutes.
Add potatoes (whole) and continue to simmer, until potatoes are fork tender,about 20-30 minutes

Read more!

Friday, May 29, 2009

My favorite teacher--biscuit baker supreme

Hands down, my favorite teacher was my Paternal Grandma. I have never had a better biscuit, than those that came from her hands. Her biscuits were magical. As a young girl, I was only interested in the transfer of the warm biscuit from her loving hands into my eager ones. As a young woman, I paid more attention and tried to duplicate her techniques. She did not measure everything precisely and she did not flour the counter and roll the dough and cut it. She did it all by feel. I was awed by how the dry ingredients were dumped into a mixing bowl and the wet ingredients were added after she made a dry well in the center. She would shape the dough into biscuits with her hands. She did this every morning and in no time at all, hot biscuits were on the table, with golden, beautiful crusts and no big mess to clean up either. I am sad to say I was not a very good student in biscuit making. I know that you can ruin the finished product if you handle the dough too much. I miss my Grandma and her biscuits. Who is your favorite teacher in the kitchen? I would love to know, along with what you learned.
As for biscuits today, I have a second favorite teacher and that is the crew over at America's Test Kitchen. They have perfected Drop Biscuits and I saw a demo yesterday, that made me sit up and take notes, and even happier this morning, when I duplicated it and served the light soft pillows with a golden brown exterior. Still not my Grandma's biscuit, but a very good, easy one to make and no messy kitchen.

Best Drop Biscuits
from the Episode: Holiday Ham and Biscuits America's Test Kitchen

If buttermilk isn't available, powdered buttermilk added according to package instructions or clabbered milk can be used instead. To make clabbered milk, mix 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and let stand 10 minutes. A 1/4-cup (#16) portion scoop can be used to portion the batter. To refresh day-old biscuits, heat them in a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Makes 12 Biscuits
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk (cold)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes), plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing biscuits

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps.

2. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.

3. Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

When you stir slightly cooled melted butter into cold buttermilk, the butter will clump. Although this might look like a mistake, it's one of the secrets to this recipe. The clumps of butter are similar to the small bits of cold butter in biscuits prepared according to the traditional method and help guarantee a light and fluffy interior.

A greased 1/4-cup measure is a great tool for scooping dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Read more!

His own personal silo--a comparison and parallel

When I saw this photo Gene took of the red winged black bird, it struck me that the wise bird had found his own private silo that Farmer Gene had supplied. I was also thinking (unlike this bird) how I could share and write about my own personal silo, a soup that Lauri Colwin shared with the world in her book Home Cooking. Like the bird, who thinks black oil sunflower seeds are the ultimate comfort food, so nutritious and healthy, I feel this way about soup. This recipe is truly a great basic one that you do math with, add, subtract, multiply and divide. Add some Geometry with cornbread (circles, triangles, diamonds,squares) and you have southern comfort at its' finest. I elected to try adapting the recipe to a quick one and used my pressure pan. It worked beautifully. The original Colwin recipe took three hours, mine took 25 minutes, plus a little additional time to cook the carrots through, since I added them after pressure was released. Even though my son in law, David is not here to share this soup now, in his honor I left the corn on top so he would not have to subject himself to a vegetable he does not care for. Although, I don't know exactly why I did it this way, since David is not fond of Barley either! Maybe I added the corn like this because it's cute this way, and colorful! And maybe I made it with Barley because I want David to learn to like it, Kelly likes it!

Beef, Leek and Barley Soup

Adapted from Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking

1. Trim two big, meaty short ribs and put them on the bottom of your soup pot. (I used 4) Although you do not have to, I brown the ribs and drain any fat accumulated
2. Add 1/2 cup of barley, three big cloves of garlic chopped, two chopped onions, and three leeks cut lengthwise and then into segments–use both the white and the green parts. Be sure to wash the leeks carefully, as they are sneaky in hiding dirt. You can also add mushrooms and any other vegetables you may like. Grind in a little black pepper.
3. Add about eight cups of water or beef stock and let it simmer on the back burner for at least three hours while you go about your business. You can also add lima beans, cubed potatoes, peas, corn, string beans and chopped tomatoes at any point, or the second day, should you have any leftover.
Before serving, skim off the fat–there will be a bit, as short ribs are quite fatty–take the meat off the bones, chop it and put it back in the soup.
My Notes: 20-25 minutes is sufficient if using a pressure pan. Use quick cool method of releasing pressure, by carefully taking the locked pan to the sink and running cool over the top lid until the safety valve has dropped and the pressure level has returned to normal.
I cooked mine under pressure for 25 minutes, released pressure and returned the soup to a bare simmer and added: 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes with their juice; 1/4 head cabbage, sliced thin; 1 large ear of cooked (cooked because it was reserved in the fridge from a previous meal) corn kernels, cut from the cob, 2 large carrots, scraped and in medium dice and 1 cup wild mushroom blend. Keep soup on a low simmer until carrots are just tender.
Other suggestions: Green beans, diced potatoes,lima beans, peas are also good choices. You may have to add more broth if you load it up with a lot of extra veggies.

Read more!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Math was never a strong suit for me

Guess you could say I could hold my own in arithmetic in grammar school and I do remember that the whole equals the sum of its parts. Where am I going with this thought? Well, when you are talking to most Southern cooks they will tell you three values, when added together that exceed the whole: simple cornbread batter + cast iron skillet + hot oven=A+. Oops, I think I am mixing Math with grades(not my math grades), but I don't think it is anywhere near mixing apples with oranges. I'll take an A+ and a wedge of cornbread, hot from the oven. Most Southern cooks will usually tell you that a well seasoned cast iron skillet is like having a best friend---you always want that friend around. Some Southern cooks are lucky and the prized skillet is passed down through the family. But if you were not one of the lucky ones, and you have to purchase your own, Lodge has a good product line and I have seen used ones at flea markets and thrift stores. You will be surprised at how inexpensive they are. They can take as much rough handling as you can give them. They work hard in high heat and stand up to and defy heat. What they can't take is soaking in water or soapy water. Rust is not your friend in the kitchen. By now you are wondering when I will shut up and post the darn recipe. Okay, alright, already. Please pass the cornbread!


Preheat oven 450

1 1/2 cups enriched white cornmeal
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons of bacon drippin's or melted real butter, or Canola Oil
1 tablespoon Canola Oil (for the pan)

In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, add a tablespoon of Canola oil and preheat the skillet. You can either heat the skillet in the hot oven or on top of the burner/element. In a medium sized bowl, stir the dry ingredients to mix; add buttermilk, egg, and drippings, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Pour into the greased, hot skillet. Bake in preheated hot oven at 450 for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with butter.

Read more!

Prepare for Compliments and Praise--Part Two

In my first post under the above heading, I blogged about a sage-cream sauce and provided an Ina Gartin technique for roasting chicken breasts that I really like. I would like for you now to see what I do with the extra roasted chicken breasts. And, it is an easy way to go for a gourmet main course, of course!

Chicken and Mushroom Marsala
Adapted and revised from Smitten Kitchen and Gourmet, June 1995

For the sauce:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, (one is reserved for finishing the sauce)
1 onion, sliced thin
3/4 pounds mushrooms, sliced medium
1/2 cup Marsala
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley

In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter and sauté onion and mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Marsala and cook mixture, stirring, until Marsala is almost evaporated. Add broth and simmer until you have a little over 1/2 cup. Add your pre-roasted chicken with any juices that have accumulated and simmer, turning chicken once, until chicken is warmed through . Transfer chicken with tongs to a platter. Simmer mushroom sauce until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Remove skillet from heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter and adjust seasoning if needed. Spoon mushroom sauce over and around the chicken breasts and sprinkle with parsley.

Read more!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Prepare for Compliments and Praise

you will be way ahead of your kitchen game if you add this one to your make often list. Do not be surprised if you are elevated to Top Chef in your household. Do not be surprised if family members, boyfriends, or guests beg you to make it again and again. It is just-that-good!

Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Sage Sauce
Adapted from Simply Recipes and Ina Gartin

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
8-10 ounces mushrooms, cremini or shitake, thickly sliced (I used large,white buttons, quartered lengthwise)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream (light cream may curdle, so use
heavy cream)
3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, (I prefer bone- in, with skin) See note below
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Note:The original recipe calls for you to use boneless skinless breasts, prepared by pounding into cutlets, seasoned with salt and pepper and sauteed. I prefer to use bone-in breasts and the roast in the oven method taken from Ina Gartin. It is easier and so much more flavorful. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. I sometimes complete this part of the recipe up to one day ahead, wrap the breasts in foil and refrigerate. This method is so good for flavorful, moist roasted chicken that I use it for numerous recipes. You can save time and money by roasting more breasts than you need and freezing some for later use.

Mushroom Sage Sauce:

1 Melt butter in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add shallots
and sauté for one minute. Add mushrooms and parsley and sauté for
5-10 more minutes, until the mushrooms have browned. If you are
using unsalted butter, sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Add vermouth and
deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits that may be sticking to the
bottom of the pan. Stir in the cream. Bring to a simmer and cook the
sauce down until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 minutes).
2 While the sauce is reducing, and, if the chicken breasts are large, cut them in half to make equal servings. If you have roasted them and they are chilled, add to the sauce early enough to just warm them
3 Stir sage into sauce, adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Plate and spoon sauce over chicken to serve.
Serve alone (for low carb version) or with rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta (use gluten-free for gluten-free version). Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Serves 4.

Read more!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rainy days and Black Bean Chili match up for a throw down

We have finally gotten some much needed rain in Central Florida. Along with several inches of wet stuff over several days (I've lost count), cooler temperatures are here too. I am sure the rain has put a damper (pun) on some spirits, especially vacationers, but not in this household. We have seen it as a blessing and seized the opportunity to hunt down well hidden new-born calves, drag pastures, plant landscape plants and make Chili, which warms us from within and gives us sustainability and energy to complete the listed tasks. Where the throw down comes in to play: Who/what will last longest, Gene, the rain or the Chili? Of course, out of the three, Gene wins. But for the other two, I am hoping for a tie! This flavorful chili is quick and easy and tastes so much better than canned chili. It is so comforting to come in from wet, chilly tasks (or play) to a bowl of this chili. We like to use ground turkey in the recipe, but you could easily omit it to make it vegetarian.

serves 6


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
3 (15 ounce) cans black beans, undrained (or use a combination of various beans)
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (may substitute fresh lime juice to taste)

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat; cook onion and garlic until onions are translucent. Add turkey and cook, stirring, until meat is brown. Stir in beans, tomatoes, chili powder, oregano, basil and vinegar. Reduce heat to low,
cover and simmer 60 minutes or more, until flavors are well blended.

My note: serve over cornbread or corn chips, top with sour cream, cilantro, grated cheddar cheese and, or Avocado slices

Read more!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Here's another great grilling marinade, this time for beef--it's what's for Dinner!

I like to buy a thick cut Sirloin steak and cut it into 1-1/2 inch cubes and marinate for 4 to 24 hours, then lace the skewers with the beef cubes, bell pepper,tomato quarters, onion quarters, button or Portabello Mushrooms, and pre-boiled small new potatoes. Grill to your preferred doneness and serve on a bed of rice. Really good!

Sirloin Kabob Marinade

1/2 cup salad oil
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons catsup
1 clove garlic crushed, or more
large pinch of marjoram, or use fresh
pinch salt
large pinch of rosemary, or use fresh

Mix marinade in a large zip-lock bag, add sirloin and refrigerate until ready to light the grill. If time permits, bring sirloin to room temperature, then lace pre-soaked wooden skewers with your favorite veggies and the sirloin cubes.

Read more!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

More Salad to feed the addiction

I am now hopelessly addicted to two salads. I was busy posting about the Sesame Cilantro Vermicelli Salad, when Dana was posting about Quinoa with Grilled Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Cumin. I read the ingredients and how the spices get warmed in oil until fragrant and knew I was hooked---just-like-that! Add the fact that I had all of the ingredients on hand and know that this delight was on the dinner table, er belly by nightfall. I love Quinoa. It is so healthy and easy to prepare. Combined with zucchini and chick peas and you have got yourself a mighty fine complete meal, as is. So satisfying and beautiful as a stand alone, or if you must have more, serve it as a side. At dinnertime we ate it warm, but the next day, we ate it chilled, would you believe for breakfast? I know, without a doubt that a fried egg would be a wonderful addition. I am so glad Dana posted this recipe, check her post.

Quinoa with Grilled Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Cumin
Serves 6-8
Dana says she cut this out of a magazine, possibly Bon Appetit, Gourmet, or Food and Wine
Quinoa generally needs to be rinsed before using so it is not bitter. If you buy Bob’s Red Mill brand, it does not need to be rinsed.

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained (if you don't like chick peas, try subbing with another firm bean)
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
5 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. tumeric, divided
1 tsp. smoked paprika, divided
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, trimmed, quartered lengthwise
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Combine chickpeas and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add 3 tbsp. oil; press in garlic and stir to combine. Let marinate at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp. tumeric, and 1/2 tsp paprika; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups water, quinoa, and coarse salt; bring to simmer,stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place zucchini on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tbsp. oil. Sprinkle with ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. tumeric, and 1/2 tsp. paprika. Toss to coat evenly.
Place zucchini on grill; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Grill until tender and browned on all sides, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to work surface. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Add zucchini, green onions, and parsley, then chickpea mixture to quinoa. Toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
(Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Read more!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When It Is Gone, I am sad because I don't have it

Is that a simple definition of addiction? Can't live without it? Don't want to be without it? This is how I feel right about now. I am talking about a cold noodle salad that has me in its grip. I first tried it a few years ago, from the blog Simply Recipes
And I have been hooked ever since. Since then I have tried several other cold noodle salads, but I always return to this one--it is just that good! I find comfort just knowing it is chilling in the fridge and discomfort knowing that the last forkful has been consumed. Am I crazy? I guess so. Please try it and tell me I am not alone in this addiction.

Sesame and Cilantro Vermicelli Salad
Recipe adapted from Wild Thyme and Other Temptations from the Junior League of Tucson.

Honey Soy Dressing
1/4 cup grapeseed oil or corn oil
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper or chili powder
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce (less if using tamari which is more concentrated than soy sauce)

8 ounces of vermicelli, thin spaghetti, or angel hair pasta
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup sliced and chopped red bell pepper
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 Cook the pasta in a large saucepan in salted boiling water, according to directions on pasta package. Drain but do not rinse.

2 While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a microwave-safe dish, heat the vegetable oil, sesame oil, and red pepper, in the microwave on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the honey and soy sauce and mix well.

3 Combine the drained pasta with the dressing in a large bowl until the pasta is well coated. Cover and chill for several hours.

4 When ready to serve, mix in the cilantro, peanuts, green onions and bell pepper. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Serves 4 to 8, depending on serving size and if it is a side or main course.

Note: I served it for lunch this week and after plating the portions, split a small drained can of Salmon between two servings to add more protein and omega 3's to our meal. Just a suggestion. I think sliced roasted chicken would be equally good.

Read more!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Potato Love---Sage advice

In recent weeks, more than one of our friends has expressed how much they love oven roasted red potatoes. Cleo said a restaurant that she loves in Orlando serves Sage Roasted potatoes, then she said, uhm, maybe it was Rosemary Herbed Roasted Potatoes. Well, I have been making Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and Onion Roasted Potatoes for a few years now, but I do love Sage, so I set about to alter my good recipe and transform it into Sage Roasted Potatoes and have found it to be very good. Our neighbor Richard declared it so and asked for a copy of the recipe. Now, if only my Sage plant can keep up with the demands being placed upon it, we'll be in business! In case I have to give the sage plant a little rest, I have also included, and may I suggest the Rosemary and the Onion recipes too. Have fun!

Sage Roasted Potatoes with Shallots and garlic

3 tablespoons Butter
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 c Fresh Sage; chopped
4 lb Medium-size Red Potatoes; cut in half
1 teaspoon Dried Sage
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
4-5 unpeeled cloves of garlic
16 Shallots, peeled and halved
Preheat oven to 425-F degrees. Melt butter with olive oil and fresh sage in small saucepan over medium heat until the
butter simmers and is well flavored with sage, usually about 4 minutes. Toss prepared red potatoes with the
dried sage and two tablespoons of the sage butter in bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Potatoes should be well oiled. Transfer potatoes to 2 baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes,cut side down.
Toss shallots in same bowl with one tablespoon of sage butter.
Season with salt and pepper. Divide shallots and garlic cloves between baking sheets. Flip the potatoes and roast until potatoes and shallots are
tender and golden, about 15 minutes longer. If desired, transfer potatoes and shallots to large
serving bowl. Pour remaining sage butter on top, re-heating in the microwave if butter has congealed. Toss
gently, season with salt and pepper, and serve warm.

*Note, and variation: substitute fresh rosemary and dried rosemary for the sage and change the name to Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Shallots.

Lipton Onion-Roasted Potatoes

1 Envelope Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Soup Mix
4 lbs red potatoes, cut in half or into large chunks if the potatoes are large
1/3 cup Olive Oil
Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In 13 X 9 baking or roasting pan, combine all ingredients. (use a plastic zip lock bag to mix the oil, seasoning, and potatoes together before emptying contents of bag into the pan)

Bake, stirring occasionally, 35 - 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown. (make sure they are tender before turning off the oven)

Read more!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Simple Abundance--give thanks for the bounty we are about to receive

Gene planted green beans this year. Does that make him Gene and the Beanstalk? So far, so good, as the photos confirm. I don't think it will be too long for the blossoms and subsequent beans to appear. I am a bit impatient though, so I bought beans at Costco to try this recipe. My report to you: try it, I liked it. The beans retain some of their crunch; the combination of soy sauce (sweet) and crushed red pepper (hot) give it Asian flair and flavor.

Spicy Green Beans
Adapted from the Paupered Chef

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 pound green beans
4 scallions, diagonally sliced
2 shallots, minced
3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of Sriracha Hot Sauce (more or less depending on your tolerance level)

*Note-Make sure everything is prepped and ready to go before tossing anything in the pan. It will take just a few minutes to cook everything. It will go by quickly.
1 .Combine the soy sauce, white vinegar, sugar, Sriracha and red pepper flakes in a bowl and whisk until combined.
2. Mince the garlic, and cut the scallions
3. Place the iron skillet over high heat for at least 5 minutes.
4. When everything is chopped and ready, toss in the oil, swirl until it coats the bottom of the skillet, and add the green beans. Cook until they are tender, about 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so. It will look like you’re murdering them, but be patient. It will work.
5. Dump in those neatly cut scallions and shallots and cook about another 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
6. Add the garlic and cook just until it becomes fragrant; add the soy sauce mixture. Cook for another 20 seconds or so, and then turn off the heat, and plate.

Read more!