Thursday, February 28, 2008

WHB - Roasted Pesto Tomatoes

Roasted Pesto Tomatoes

This time of the year (towards the end of the school) is the busiest time of the year for special education teachers. We have to have all of our end of the year meetings. Since I am a sixth grade teacher, I also have to attend all of the meetings for the 5th graders who will be coming to middle school next year, in addition to the meetings for my 6th graders going on up to 7th grade. I am stressed, busy, and overwhelmed, and it won't get any better until sometime near the end of May. What I'm saying , is that I'm trying to justify the posting of another recipe whose list of ingredients you can count on one hand!

Roasted Pesto Tomatoes

Yep, it's 3 ingredients, unless you make the pesto from scratch (or better yet, have it in your freezer from your end of season use-up-my-basil frenzy)! But really, these three ingredients are wonderful. You can't go wrong with tomatoes, basil, and cheese. You just can't. It's impossible.

Since it's the middle of winter, I used roma tomatoes. It was good, but they stayed a little too firm, I should have increased the baking time. This is, of course, best made in the summer, with luscious, ripe tomatoes, but it does give a nice taste of summer on a dreary winter day. This recipe is from Weight Watchers Five Ingredient, 15 Minute Cookbook 2005.

Roasted Pesto Tomatoes

2 large tomatoes, halved and seeded (or 4 roma tomatoes)
2 tablespoons commercial pesto (or homemade)
4 teaspoons shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 500. Place tomato halves, cut side up in a muffin pan, or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Top each tomato with 1 1/2 teaspoons pesto and 1 teaspoon cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, or until roasted.


This will be my easy peasy post for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Zorra from Kochtopf.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Easy Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwich


In keeping with the apparent theme I have going on now, which is recipes with 5 ingredients or less, I bring you an easy slow cooker recipe. This recipe is slightly adapted from Taste of Home's Light and Tasty 2003 Annual.


Spicy French Dip

1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 pounds or more)
1 cup water
1 4 oz can of diced jalapeno peppers
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
Hard rolls

Place beef in slow cooker. Mix water, jalapenos, and dressing mix, and pour over beef. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove beef and shre. Serve beef on buns with juice.

This makes a lot, and it is universally loved by adults and children alike! Seriously, to have such a wonderful sandwich come from such humble ingredients. And the amount of work involved in this is practically nothing. I mean, open a can, tear open a pouch and fill a cup with water. It takes less than 5 minutes to assemble this! I imagine that the meat would also be good in tacos, enchiladas or quesadillas.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Key Lime Frozen Yogurt

Key Lime Frozen Yogurt

I hesitated on whether or not to actually post this recipe because it contains only 3 ingredients. Do 3 ingredients qualify as a recipe? But this is so good, that I just had to share it. Really, it is the easiest recipe ever, and if you have one of those ice cream machines or the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment, you will want to give this a try. This came from Frozen Yogurt: 120 Delicious Flavors You Can Make From Store-Bought Yogurt.

Key Lime Frozen Yogurt

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 6 ounce can frozen limeaide concentrate (partially thawed)

Mix yogurt and condensed milk in a bowl, stir in limeaide concentrate. Freeze according to the directions of your ice cream maker.

Key Lime Frozen Yogurt

That's it! It is so good. The sweetened condensed milk really gives it a nice creamy texture. This is a great dessert with Thai dishes, which usually have a lime component in them. I have made this with nonfat yogurt, lowfat yogurt, full fat yogurt, nonfat sweetened condensed milk, lowfat sweetened condensed milk, and regular sweetened condensed milk, in various combinations, and I can honestly say it is good no matter what you use. I always keep a can of limeaide in the freezer and some sweetened condensed milk in the pantry, (and I always have yogurt), so I am ready to make this anytime.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

WHB - Fresh Herb Salad with Mandarin Dressing


I know, I know, I am soooo cheating with this entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, but this fresh lettuce and herb mix has become my new favorite staple to have on hand in my fridge! I know that these packages of baby lettuces are expensive, but they are such a time saver. It's almost impossible for me to buy this many different types of lettuces and fresh herbs. This mix is organic and the container is made from sort of corn and is even compostable!

Fresh Herb Salad

This blend may contain, baby red romaine lettuce, baby green romaine lettuce, royal red oak leaf lettuce, lollo rosa lettuce, new red fire lettuce, baby red leaf lettuce, baby green leaf lettuce, tango lettuce, little gem lettuce, green oak leaf lettuce, mizuna, tatsoi, red mustard, green mustard, red chard, green chard, arugula, baby spinach, radicchio, frisee, dill and parsley. One of my favorite ways to serve this is with one of those little cans of mandarin oranges. Some of the juice from the oranges is used to make the dressing. If you double the dressing (and it's easy because there is plenty of juice in the can), you can use it on any salad that contains fruit. In the first picture, I tossed the lettuce with some dried cranberries and toasted walnuts and the mandarin orange dressing. Very good!


Mandarin Orange Dressing

2 Tablespoons juice from a can of mandarin oranges
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together.


Lucky for me this lettuce contains fresh dill and parsley and it can be my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging , hosted by Lia of Swirling Notions.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hoisin Snow Peas and Red Peppers

Snow Peas with Red Peppers

I love snow peas, they are so quick to cook (and really you don't even have to cook them) and so fresh tasting. I love using them as a quick and easy side dish for meats and fish. The sauce for this recipe, which is slightly modified from a Weight Watchers recipe, uses ingredients that I always have in my pantry and fridge. So whenever I want an Asian inspired side dish, all I have to do is pick up some snow peas and red bell peppers and I'm good to go.

Hosin Snow Peas and Peppers
Serves 4

1 cup chicken broth (use your favorite canned or homemade)
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 1/2 taplespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons cornstarch
peanut oil
3 cups fresh snow peas, washed and trimmed
1 red bell pepper, sliced

Combine broth, hoisin sauce, sherry and cornstarch in a small bowl, whisk until smooth.

Heat about 1-2 teaspoons of peanut oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add snow peas and bell pepper and saute about 3 minutes until vegetables are crisp tender. Add broth mixture and cook about 2 more minutes, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Serve.

Crumb Crusted Fish

In case your wondering about the fish that I served it with, you can find the recip here. It's a great fish recipe that has Thai flavors in the crumb crusted fish.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cabbage Slaw with Apples and Cranberries

Apple Cabbage Slaw

Do you get the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables? It's hard. But I've been trying. I've started by doing little things that really don't take up that much extra time, like adding fruits and nuts to salads and slaws. Trying to get in all those antioxidants! This slaw includes cranberries and gala apples, and both are on the top 20 antioxidant rich foods. It's not really a recipe, just shred some cabbage, dice an apple, whisk up a lemon vinaigrette, and toss on a few dried cranberries. This was quite tasty, and the lemon vinaigrette kept the apples from turning brown.

Cabbage Slaw with Apples and Cranberries
Serves 2-3

1/4 - 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
1 gala apple, diced
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
juice of one lemon
1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
pinch of sugar (to taste)

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar. This is totally to taste. I like my dressing on the tart side, so I don't add much olive oil. I just add a little and start tasting it.

Toss cabbage, apples and cranberries with vinaigrette. Serve.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Beef and Mushroom Stew

Beef and Mushroom Stew

When I started to write this post, I googled beef stew. There seems to be as many different recipes for beef stew as there are stars in the sky! A couple that I found interesting are Irish Beef Stew from Simply Recipes, and Parker's Beef Stew from Ina Garten.

I love a traditional beef stew with lots of potatoes and carrots, but one of my favorite stews is this one from Cooking Light. It uses mushrooms in place of the usual vegetables and vermouth instead of beer or wine. I really like the different flavor that vermouth gives it. You can find the recipe on-line here, or follow along below.

Beef-and-Mushroom Stew
Serves 4

1 pound lean beef stew meat
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups crimini or button mushrooms (about 1/2 pound), halved
1 cup dry vermouth
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
Flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional)

Trim fat from beef; cut beef into 1-inch cubes. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef and onion; saute 5 minutes. Combine flour, salt, and pepper; sprinkle over beef mixture, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms and next 7 ingredients (mushrooms through tomatoes); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 40 minutes or until beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
Note: Substitute 1 cup chicken broth for the 1 cup vermouth, if desired.

4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
From Cooking Light September 1996

The ony change that I make to the recipe is that I usually let it cook longer than 40 minutes. I feel that some stew meat (especially beef chuck), needs longer to become tender.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pork Fried Rice

Pork Fried Rice

I could have sworn that I've posted this recipe before, but I've searched through my archives and I can't find it. Maybe I composed it in my head, but then never actually sat down and typed it in. I do that all the time. I come up with these fabulously witty posts, usually while in the shower, and then I never get around to posting them. You'll just have to take my word for it, they are incredibly fabulous and witty.

Back to Pork Fried Rice. I love fried rice, and have tried lots of recipes, and once I found this one, I never looked at another fried rice recipe again. I lied, I did look at other recipes, but why switch when you've had the best? This recipe is modified from the Pork Fried Rice recipe in Some Like It Hot: Spicy Favorites from the World's Hot Zones by Clifford A. Wright. This book is amazing if you like hot foods. It's even amazing if you don't like hot foods. You can take the recipe for Pork Fried Rice, which calls for 1/2 cup of thinly sliced red chiles and modifiy it like I did to only use as much as as you can handle, which in my case is a wimpy 2 red chiles!

Pork Fried Rice
Serves 4 -6

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro roots and/or stems
1/4 pound pork tenderloin, diced into 1/2-1 inch cubes
4 cups cooked, cold jasmine rice
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm or granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
2 thinly sliced fresh red chiles (see above note)
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

In a wok, heat oil over high heat. Cook garlic until fragrant about 15 to 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add shallots and cilantro roots (or stems) and cook about 1 minute. Add pork and cook about 4-5 minutes (depending on size of cubes), stirring frequently.

Add the rice, stirring and tossing until it separates and mixes with pork. Add the fish sauce and sugar and continue stirring. Push the rice mixture up the sides of the wok, creating an area in the middle. Add the beaten egg, let it set for a minute and then start to scramble the egg. Once it has set, stir the eggs into the rice mixture. Add the chiles to the work and continue to stir fry until it's well mixed.

Serve garnished with cucumbers, scallions, clilantro leaves, and any additional red chiles.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lenten Rose

Lenten Rose

I have insomnia. I've had insomnia for as long as I can remember. If you want to know anything about sleep medication, just ask me, I've been on sleep meds for about the past 20 years. Sometimes my insomnia is productive. I find answers to problems that were elusive in the daytime. I make to-do lists in my head. But more often than not, my brain just fires random bits of information all night long.

Lenten Rose

Like the other night, I'm laying in bed thinking about Lent. I am a lapsed Catholic, but I don't believe Catholics can ever lapse that far, we carry around way too much guilt to let it all go. So, I'm thinking about Lent. When I was little, I always gave up chocolate for Lent. It was a given. But right now, I'm in the beginning stages of menopause and chocolate is essential. It's right up there with air and water. So, no, chocolate is not an option. Wine? Um, no, see above reason.

Lenten Rose

So, I'm thinking about Lent. It goes something like this: Lent...Lent...Lenten...Hey, it's Lent, I wonder if my Lenten Rose is blooming. Yes, that's how my brain works at about 3:15am, when everyone else is sound asleep. The next day after school, I hurry out to check my Lenten Rose, and it's blooming!! I love magical plants, like Christmas cactus and Lenten Rose that bloom around special occasions.

Lenten Rose

If you want a garden plant that really gives you more bang for your buck, you cannot go wrong with Lenten Rose. It has gorgeous, lush foliage all summer long. In the winter, the foliage stays green, but it's just not as prolific, and then around Lent, the sweetest nodding head flowers open up. I love to look out my window and see the pale lavender blooms. As you can see from last years pictures, they even pop out of snow!

Friday, February 15, 2008

WHB - Spicy Coleslaw

Spicy Coleslaw

I am always on the lookout for side salads to go with one-dish Asian/Thai inspired meals. I usually fall back on a cucumber salad, but this spicy coleslaw is a wonderful alternative. I especially like this in the winter when all of the cucumbers are waxed and cabbage is relatively inexpensive. This is slightly adapted from a Cooking Light recipe.

Spicy Coleslaw
Serves 4

4 cups shredded cabbage (napa cabbage is good, but any old cabbage will do)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (rice wine vinegar is also good)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar

Place cabbage and cilantro in a large bowl. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl, or place in a small jar with a lid and shake to combine. Pour over the cabbage mixture, toss, and enjoy!


How simple is that! I love this slaw. Of course, I love the combination of cilantro and lime juice so that may have something to do with it. And since this contains my very, very favorite herb, cilantro, this will be entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Erin from The Skinny Gourmet.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Small Victory

I received thousands of emails asking what it is like to be a special education teacher. Okay, I didn't receive thousands of emails. Okay, I've not even received one email asking about it. But despite your apparent lack of curiosity, I feel compelled to post a little about it. I've read the blogging hints and tips, and one of them is that you're supposed to make your blog a little more personal. Show the readers a little of who you are. Since the majority of my days are spent surrounded by kids and not cooking, I thought I'd share a little bit of it every now and then.

I am an inclusion teacher, which means that my kids are in a regular classroom. I go into the classroom and provide motivation, modifications, reteaching, preteaching, and lots of begging and pleading. Most of my kids have attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) or they have a learning disability (LD) in something like reading or math.

My day is filled up with what I like to call "small victories" and "small lets-not-call-them-failures-but-they're-definitely-not-victories". I haven't actually put them both on a tally sheet and added them up, because I am afraid it would make me cry and possibly start heavy drinking. But I can tell you this, I cherish every small victory. Really, no matter how small.

Like yesterday. I'm in Mrs. D's math class, when the guidance counselor walks in and says that N. is back, but he won't come in to the classroom. N. is one of my students who moved away over Christmas break, and is now back again. I go out in the hall, and he tells me that he's nervous. So, I walk him down to my room. I rewrite his schedule so that it easier for him to understand and give him a little reassuring pep talk. I start walking him back to class, when I notice D., another one of my students, out in the hall. Seeing one of my students out in the hall is not good. So, I come up and I ask him, "what did you do?" He says that he didn't do anything, that it's something else. Oh. See, D. has gas. He has gas a lot. I've tried to tell him that maybe he is lactose intolerant, but he says that he isn't. Well, I don't know, but his body does not like something that he's eating! So, there I am standing out in the hall trying to convince one student to go into class, while another student is trying to pass gas! Finally, D. is successful. The unmistakable odor fills the hallway. It's bad. Really bad. I clamp my hand over my nose and throw open Mrs. D's door and head back into class, where the air is only slightly fresher, telling N. to c'mon and follow me. I glance over my shoulder and see N. illuminated in the classroom doorway. Everyone is looking at him. He has no choice, but to follow me and come in. Within minutes, he has a new textbook, has his calculator out and is busy doing fractions to mixed numbers.

Yes, I consider that a victory.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas

Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas

Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas, it's a classic! Well, it's not actually a classic with me, but I bet it is with some lucky people. You see, I had never even heard of prosciutto until about 4 years ago. Isn't that sad? It's not as sad as the fact that I thought I hated asparagus because growing up, we only had it out of a can. And I remember going to a party in college, and someone was eating gorgeous, thin, fresh asparagus, dipping it in some sauce, and I could not believe that someone was actually eating asparagus and enjoying it. I didn't even try it, just shuddered and looked away. Just think if I would have tried it?? I could have added years onto my asparagus eating, instead I waited another 10 or so years to try it!

Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas

Anyway, where was I...oh yes, prosciutto. I always have some in my freezer. I buy it and separate it into 2, 3, or 4 ounce portions and vacumn seal it. That way, I am always ready for this quick and easy dish. I found several recipes for it, this one by Emeril sounds devine with white wine and cream, but the one that I refer to is this one from Cooking Light. Yes, it has no wine and no cream, but it's still pretty tasty and satisfying.

Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas
from Cooking Light

Cooking spray
3 ounces very thin slices prosciutto, chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 cups hot cooked fusilli (about 12 ounces uncooked short twisted spaghetti)
1 cup (4 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, cooked and drained

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add prosciutto; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan. Add oil and garlic; cook 1 minute or until garlic begins to brown. Combine prosciutto, oil mixture, pasta, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat.
8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

I used orzo in place of the fusilli. And, um, yes, serving size - 1 cup, not in this household.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

WHB - Basil in February - Yes!!!


Back on October 14th, I did a post on keeping basil for the winter. I titled the post Basil in February, I Hope So. I am happy to announce that yes, you can have fresh tasting basil in February. I opened up one of my little jars of this basil, and it was like opening summer back up again! The aroma, the color, everything, perfect. It's very concentrated because the basil is very finely chopped. I stirred about 1/2 teaspoon into my bowl of soup right before serving, and with every spoonful the aroma of the basil was amazing.


I know it's not cooking, but this fragrant basil is going to be my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Ulrike, from Kuchenlatein.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Why I Can't Go To Marshall's (or TJ Maxx) (Or Homegoods)


This is what happens when I have 25 minutes to kill while waiting for an appointment, and there just-so-happens to be a Marshall's near.


I am inexplicably drawn to the food, kitchen utensils, and bath and body areas of these type stores. With disasterous results for my wallet.


It's not as quite as bad as it looks, don't count the toaster oven in the first picture, I all ready had that. It was just the truffle oil, olive oil, 2 jars of roasted peppers, raspberry jam, and apricot jam. Okay, never mind, it is pretty bad.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

DIY - Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Sugar


Even though I don't bake sweets very often, and with the several disastrous examples that I've posted here, I still make my own vanilla sugar and vanilla extract.

They are just too easy to not make.

Start with about 5 vanilla beans. Split them with a knife, but do not scrape out the seeds. For the extract, put 3 of the beans in a jar or bottle (an old grolsch beer bottle works perfect here), and cover with vodka. Put it in a dark place and let it steep. It's ready to use in about 8 weeks, though it just gets better and better with age. I always have two bottles going, one for using and one steeping. Then when the one I am currently using runs out, I start using the one that had been aging, and immediately begin a new one aging.

Making vanilla sugar is just as easy. Take the other 2 beans, split them, again, don't extract the seeds. Place them in a jar and cover with sugar. I started using the sugar after a couple of weeks, it becomes so fragrant almost immediately! As you use the sugar, just add more in, kind of stirring it up to mix the old with the new.

I use the homemade vanilla extract in any recipe calling for vanilla extract. The sugar is fantastic used in and sprinkled on baked goods. I also use it in frozen desserts. It makes vanilla ice cream doubly delicious!

Monday, February 4, 2008

An Ounce of Prevention

While sitting in the pharmacy waiting for my prescription, I picked up a special publication by Prevention magazine to look at. It was called "New Year, New You". It had the usual articles on various forms of exercise and eating habits, but the one that I found really interesting was called "Smarter Cooking." It was subtitled "Double Your Nutrition Boost with 9 Ways to Chop, Saute, and Stir." I know that we all know that there are ways to cook to make your food more nutritious. I know not to overcook my vegetables, that boiling some vegetables leeches nutrients into the water, and that the peels of fruits and vegetables usually contain a lot of the nutrients.

But this article went way beyond that. I found a lot of the things very interesting. One was that adding healthy fats, such as avocado, olive oil, or nuts increases the absortion of fat-soluble vitamins of red, green, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables. Since I cook practically everything in olive oil, I think I have this one covered, except I don't mind an excuse to toss in an avocado every chance I can!

Another one that I found intersting had to do with calcium. If you make your own chicken stock (and if you don't, you are missing something wonderful), one of the ways to increase the calcium in it is to add a hint of lemon juice, vinegar, or tomato. Apparently the acid increases the calcium content of your stock by 64%! My only complaint, is it doesn't say how much to add, I mean... much is a hint??? In the same vein, it states that slathering spareribs with a vinegar based barbeque sauce dramatically increases the calcium.

And two more that I thought were notable: (1) they found that soaking chicken breasts in a marinade of brown sugar, olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, and salt for 4 hours reduced the carcinogenic compounds that are created by grilling by 99%, and (2) add herbs to your salads. They compared a plain green salad to one that contained added herbs like lemon balm and marjoram. The one with herbs had 200% more antioxidants!

There is nothing like sitting waiting your medicine, feeling awful, to make you start thinking about prevention!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

WHB - Dirty Rice With Shrimp


I subscribe to Food & Wine magazine, and am always tearing out recipes to try. So, when I stumbled upon Quick from Scratch One-Dish Meals Cookbook by Food & Wine Magazine for only $4.99 at one of those discount bookstores, I knew I had to grab it. I actually purchased three that day, this one, and one on soups and salads, and another on herbs. I have got to say that these are probably my most reliable cookbooks ever. I have never made anything from them that wasn't fabulous and full of flavor. This is the cookbook that has the Salmon with Thai Rice Salad, that is absolutely wonderful.


The recipe for Dirty Rice with Shrimp is available on their website, and I've also included it here.

Dirty Rice with Shrimp
Serves 4

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
3 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and halved
2 scallions including green tops, chopped

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the pork and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat to moderately low and add the remaining tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cayenne, paprika, oregano, bay leaf, salt, black pepper, and rice. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Raise the heat to moderate and stir in the shrimp. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, until the rice and shrimp are just done, about 5 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the scallions.

This really is good and so easy! It makes a wonderful weeknight meal. The hardest part was peeling the shrimp. If I have time, one of the things I like to do, is to put the shrimp shells in the chicken broth and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, before straining and adding the broth to the recipe. It really gives it some extra flavor, but if you don't have time, that step is totally optional! And the wine recommended was a Beaujolais Nouveau. And believe it or not, we actually had some of that wine in our wine cellar! wine cellar, I mean old Peaches records crates sitting at the bottom of our stairs in the garage/basement, holding about 8 bottles of wine. It was wonderful! Those people that come up the wine recommendations really know their stuff, it totally made the whole meal complete!


And this is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging , hosted this week by Claudia at Fool for Food. I know that it's only dried herbs in this dish, but, heck it is the middle of winter here! Plus I have had a cold, that became a sinus infection, that became a cold again, and then became a sinus infection again! Not good, people. I am completely miserable and on my second try of antibiotics. But this dish tasted good, even with all that going on, so that should be your clue, that you need to try it!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Heart of a Child Reading Challenge

Yes, I'm joining another reading challenge! The Heart of a Child Challenge. I can't help it though. First of all, I love the image associated with it, isn't it adorable. Want me to join your challenge? Make a cute, little image button and I'll join, it's as simple as that.

Anyway, here are the rules:
Heart of a Child Challenge

How many? Read 3 to 6 books
When? from February 1, 2008 to July 14, 2008
What? Books and authors that you discovered, loved, or adored as a child. Anything and everything that you read through the age of 18 would qualify.
Why? Because sometimes it's fun to reread books and see if they still hold the same "magic."

This is such a wonderful idea. My love of reading began when I was very little. I, honestly can't remember a time when I didn't love to read. So, I have a zillion books from which to chose from, which actually makes it more difficult. What to chose? What to chose? Well, I settled on 4-ish. It's not set in stone because the last book is a series, and I may only read one from it, or I may read more.

So, without further a-do:

The Secret Garden (HarperClassics) by Frances Hodgson Burnett. (Who didn't love this as a child? It was my favorite escape from daily life.)
Charlotte's Web (Trophy Newbery) by E. B. White. (Of course!)
Sunshineby Norma Klein. (This one was from my teenage years. The sad story of a young mother with cancer leaving a journal for her baby daughter.)
Nancy Drew Starter Set (Nancy Drew) by Carolyn Keene. (Reread every summer for years and years!)