Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Under-utilized

Me: Hey! How old are you?

Hubs: 55

Me: You qualify for the senior citizen discount at Belks!!!

Hubs: You have to be 65 at a lot of places.

Me: Sorry, Bub, but according to Belk's you are a senior citizen.

Hubs: *silent*

Me: I am not utilizing you to your fullest potential!

Hubs: *silent*

Me: You are under-utilized!!

Hubs: *walks away*

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Garden Tuesday - Why I Joined a CSA

Pitiful
Scarlet Runner Bean Crop

You know how crop is one of those words that can be singular or plural. You could point to a whole slew of corn and call it your corn crop. Well, in this case it's definitely singular. You are looking at my scarlet runner bean crop. My whole crop. It's not exactly a slew, now is it? To add insult to injury, what you can't see is that on the other side is a big huge hole where some ungrateful bug as chomped his way through my crop.

Slightly better than pitiful
1/5th of Tomatillo Crop

I faired only slightly better with my tomatillos. Five. Maybe enough to make a small portion of salsa.

I'll leave the veggie growing to others.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lemon Chicken Pasta

Lemon Chicken Pasta


There is a possibility that I have already posted this recipe here. But you know what, I bet you don't remember. And really, after the week I had at work last week, I simply do not have it in me to go check. So, if by some chance you really do remember, please grant me this indulgence, it's a new pic anyway. And really this recipe is perfect because no matter how tired or stressed you are, this is super easy to put together, provided you have some cooked chicken.

I, of course, had some leftover spatchcocked chicken (I'm not that tired, that I couldn't remember a spatchcocked chicken mention). You can cook your own, or better yet, just grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. This goes together in a snap, it's even better the next day, what more could you ask for? It comes from Off The Shelf: Cooking From the Pantryby Donna Hay.

Lemon Chicken Pasta
Serves 4

14 oz spaghetti or linguini
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons capers
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small red chilies, seeded and chopped
3 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta per directions and drain.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large deep frying pan over high heat. Add oil, capers, garlic and the chillies and cook for about 1 minute. Add the chicken and the lemon zest, and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through. Add the pasta to the pan, along with the basil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, toss to combine. Serve topped with parmesan.

This easy peasy pasta will be my entry for this week's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by it's esteemed leader, Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Colonoscopy 101

Bathroom Brighteners
Make your bathroom as pleasant as possible.


I'd like to interrupt my regularly scheduled blog post with a Public Service Announcement. One of the joys of getting older is that every time you visit the doctor, there is a new list of preventative tests and procedures. I've been having my boobs smashed for years, but when you turn 50, colonoscopy floats to the top of the list. I know it's not pleasant, but hey, we like to eat and drink and play, and we want to stay as healthy as possible, right.

So, I'm here to lessen or elevate your fears, depending on how this all sounds to you. But looking back on it, it wasn't nearly as bad as the dread I felt leading up to it. With a few easy pointers from Pam, you too can have a pleasant colonoscopy.

First off, there is the day of the colonoscopy and then there is the day before the colonoscopy and then there is the day before the day before. I want to begin with the day before the day before. Some people may think that this is the time to eat up, after all you won't be eating anything the next day. Not so, grasshopper. What ever you eat that day, has to, no doubt about it, leave your body the next day. So, I ate a normal breakfast and lunch, and then a light soup for dinner, followed by a Margarita in the evening (maybe 2). The whole margarita thing is optional.

Clear Liquids
Stock up on plenty of these.


The next day, you can have clear liquids, jello, hard candies, and Popsicles. Nothing with red or purple in it. Now people, this is the time to indulge in your every clear-liquid whim. You know the Lorina Lemonade that comes in the lovely bottle with the porcelain stopper, that is four dollars a bottle? Well, now is the time. People, you are getting a colonoscopy, you can justify anything. I personally, also justified two pairs of new shoes and a pair of earrings, but that's just me.

Movi Prep
Lemon Pledge with a generous dash of salt.


So, I had coffee, followed by apple juice for breakfast. Then I drank the rest of the apple juice and had a lovely bowl of beef broth for lunch. More liquids through the day: green tea, ginger ale, lemonade. Then at 3, I started the Movi Prep (which is code words for making you go to the bathroom a lot). You were supposed to start at 5 and finish late in the evening, but I go to bed early, so I wanted to be done by 10. Turns out it was a moot point, since I was up all night going to the bathroom anyway.

I had already googled the heck out of Movi Prep and learned that it taste terrible. People gag, throw up, try chasing it with other things. My two tips: get it really, really cold and use a straw. Put the straw as far back as you can stand it, and try and have it just go straight down, unless you enjoy the flavor of Lemon Pledge that has been overly salted. Then prepare to spend a lot of time in the bathroom. It really wasn't too bad, but do take some reading material. I finished the whole Entertainment Weekly Fall Preview Issue and started a book. The Movi Prep leaves you feeling kind of cold and shakey. So, I dressed warm and drank some Gatorade to replace whatever it is that Gatorade replaces.

On the day of the colonoscopy, it is probably a blessing that you are so tired from having spent the night in the bathroom. I remember getting all ready, an IV in my arm, and the doctor guy saying, "I'm going to give you something to relax you." And me trying to say O.K, but never getting past O. Then I woke up, all over. Seriously. I remember nothing. I woke up, and within 30 minutes I was out of there and at a Panera's eating a Cinnamon Crunch Bagel.

See, that wasn't so bad. It wasn't fun, it wasn't great, but it wasn't so bad. And my new shoes and earrings are really, really cute.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to my mom!!! Yeah, I combine a birthday message for my mom with a post on a colonscopy, cause that's how I roll. I've got class.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend Cat Blogging #225

Scraps
Old lady cat, Scrappycat, enjoying a rest in the garden.


Scraps will be my entry for this week's Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Sir Tristan at Tabbylicious.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Roasted Green Beans and Tomatoes with Parsley Pesto

Look at that Pesto!


I'm very big on filling my freezer and my fridge with all sorts of condiments and ingredients to make cooking a meal easier. I have preserved lemons, pesto, pickled eggplant, mango vinegar, pureed tomatoes, roasted tomatoes....and the list goes on and on. The problem is that I tend to forget these condiments that I lovingly prepared with visions of quick weeknight meals elevated with just the right ingredient.

Pre Pesto


Until tonight that is. I had some green beans and I had some cherry tomatoes. I need a side dish for a simple, roasted fish. Easy. Roast the green beans and the tomatoes. So I got all set to do that. And then, I happened to open my freezer and spotted, Parsley Pesto. Hmmmm.. I took out a cube, let it defrost on the counter while the veggies roasted. Then right after removing the veggies from the oven, I tossed them with this pesto.

Oh yeah. It was good. Look at me, actually using my stored treasure trove. I really am, from now on, going to use all the things. Stir them into soups, spread them on fish, use in a sauce. I am. I really am.

Roasted Green Beans and Tomatoes with Parsley Pesto
Serves 4

1 pound of green beans, cut into 2 inch sections
1 basket of cherry tomatoes, cut in half (about 2 cups)
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Parsley Pesto (follow link above to see recipe)

Preheat oven to 400.

Toss green beans and tomatoes with a little olive oil to moisten. Salt and pepper lightly. Spread on a baking sheet.

Roast for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pat yourself on the back for elevating the humble green bean.

This will be my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging hosted Graziana from Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eggplant and Peppers with Feta

Eggplant and Peppers


I don't know about you, but I am being inundated with eggplant and peppers. Every week. More eggplant and peppers. I have exhausted my recipe repertoire. Which really isn't saying much, since I don't really care for eggplant, and haven't bothered to make a list of fav eggplant recipes.

Eggplant and Peppers with Feta


But now I do. Have a fav eggplant recipe, that is. Actually, I have a couple. And it turns out that eggplant is okay, when used in the right recipe. But in the hands of a wrong recipe, terrible things can happen.

This is a right recipe. First of all, it's absolutely gorgeous. Really. I carried my platter around the house and took photos of it everywhere. Now, that I think back on it, that's kind of strange behavior isn't it? It was like it was some favorite Aunt who was visiting...here Aunt Sissy let's get one of you by the dining room window, here Aunt Sissy stand over by the white table. Food bloggers are a strange bunch, aren't we?

So, anyway, I found this recipe online from Martha, Eggplant and Peppers with Feta. I'm not going to retype the recipe here, since it's probably easy to print it from Martha's site, plus I like sending her a little link love, you never know when she might repay the favor. I didn't change anything, only I just used whatever colored peppers I had.

*** and for those of you who entered my prizeless contest on Tuesday and didn't see my answer in my comments, that picture was my day lily pods. Don't feel bad if you didn't get it, my husband had no idea either, and it's in our front yard!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Facebook Fan Page

Sometime in July a friend of mine asked me to make a Facebook Fan Page, and put my blog posts on it, so that my blog posts would post directly to her Facebook Page. I had never heard of such a thing, but she is some marketing guru and knows the ends and outs of this social networking thing.

So, I did it. It's only taken me 2 months to figure out how to do it. And by do it, I mean set up the page. I have no idea how to maintain, keep it interesting, or what half of the stuff on it means.

But, for better or worse, I have a Fan Page. My blog posts on it daily. I also put other recipes that I find and want to try, and stuff that I want to buy, and stuff that looks cool, and, and, and. Oh, and I think you can post to it too, you can put pictures and links and maybe other things. So, I think that if you make one of the recipes that I post, you can post your picture out there too, and tell about it. Isn't that cool??

Right now, we are a small chummy group. And by small, and chummy, I mean 5 fans. And I'm one of them. And my daughter is another. Sad, but true. But c'mon peeps, it might be fun. It might not be. But there are worse things you could do, you know.

To join, click on the Facebook button on my side column and become a Sidewalk Shoes fan.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Garden Tuesday - A Little Picture Quiz

You didn't think I'd put the answer here, did you?
How about we play a little game? Do you know what this is?? Leave your guesses in the comments and later, I'll post the answer. There's no prize, just the internal satisfaction you receive for a job well done. Really, everyone is willing to work for a prize. I'm helping you become a better person by developing your inner sense of self-worth. I am. Really.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lemongrass, Shrimp and Mint Soup

Shrimp Soup


The other day I needed something very, very light for dinner. A soup that was barely more than a broth, but still had some substance. I figured the way to go was Asian, since their flavorful broths don't need a lot of other ingredients to make them feel substantial. So, I turned to Flavorsfrom Donna Hay. On page 54, I found exactly what I was looking for: Lemongrass, Prawn, and Mint Soup.

Shrimp Soup


The beauty of this soup is that other than the mint, I had every single ingredient already in my pantry or freezer. The prawns (shrimp), lemongrass, ginger, red chillies, and kaffir lime leaves are always in my freezer. I also always have noodles of some sort and, of course, soy sauce in my pantry. This was really good, and perfect when you need something really light. It is amazing how much flavor the broth has from the simple ingredients, and I love the idea of first infusing the broth with the shrimp shells.

Lemongrass, Prawn and Mint Soup
Adapted From Donna Hay Flavors
Serves 4

1 1/4 lbs shrimp
6 cups water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 stalks lemongrass, bruised
2 slices ginger
1-2 red chilies, sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
3 1/2 oz rice vermicelli noodles (or you favorite noodle)
1/4 cup shredded Vietnamese mint (or whatever kind you have)

Peel the shrimp and place the shells into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the shells are well colored. Add the water and bring to a boil, let simmer for 2 minutes, skimming the foam off the top if you need to.

Drain through a fine strainer and discard the shrimp peels. Place the shrimp stock, soy sauce, lemongrass, ginger, chilies and kaffir lime leaves into the saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.

Cook the noodles according to directions, drain and place in bowls. Add the shrimp to the broth in the saucepan and cook for about 2 minutes are until the shrimp are tender.

Stir the mint through the soup and ladle into bowls on top of the noodles. (I removed the lemongrass and ginger before spooning the soup over). Serve with lime wedges and extra chilli.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekend Wine Reviews #6

Hell N Back
Pacific Edge 2006, Hell "N" Back Zinfandel, $8.99. Again another wine bought for the name alone. We found it to have notes of berry, pepper and with a medium body. This was an okay wine, nothing to get ecstatic about, but at $8.99 a pop, we'd buy it again.

Cold Water Creek
Cold Water Creek, 2007 Chardonnay, Napa Valley, $9.99. We say: pear, melon, butterscotch, soft, light, creamy. Buy again: definitely!

Conte Priola
Conte Priola, Pinot Grigio Veneto, Italy, $6.99. They say: aromas and flavors of lemon, apples, and tangerine. Light bodied and crisp. We say: Very light, weak, watery, with a hint of lemon. Buy again: no.

Cline
Cline Viognier, 2007, California, $10.30. They say: loaded with peaches, apricots, floral and citrus notes. We say: citrus, floral, peachy, smooth, creamy, excellent!!! Buy again: definitely!!

There you have it, cheap wines for cheap people. Is that offensive? Okay, how about, inexpensive wines for frugal people.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Weekend Cat Blogging #224

Patchouli
I'm trying to sleep.


Patchouli
You're bothering me.


Patchouli
Go away.


Patchouli refusing to cooperate will be my entry for this week's Weekend Cat Blogging hosted Samantha Black & Mr Tigger at Life From a Cat’s Perspective.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lemon and Thyme Chickpea Salad

Chickpea Salad


Do you get tired of hearing how good for you beans and legumes are? Well, don't worry, I'm not going to insult your intelligence and go down that route again. But I have made a conscious effort to include them more and more in my meal planning. It's pretty easy really, because they are so versatile, they can go in anything...soups, salads, main dishes, side dishes. They can be the star of the show or a supporting player. As an added bonus, they aren't expensive.

Even though they aren't expensive, I've started buying them dried, by the bag and cooking them overnight in my slow cooker. The next morning, I portion them out (roughly the same amount that is a can) and label and freeze. Now, they are even less expensive and they taste better! I plan on doing this once a week, until I have a pleasant assortment of beans in my freezer. (Note..I have no idea what I mean by "pleasant assortment of beans".)

Chickpeas


My first batch was chickpeas. I stored 2 containers in the freezer and used one to make this side salad. I used my favorite marinade ingredients, whisked them together and added the drained chickpeas. Instant salad.

Lemon and Thyme Chickpea Salad
4 side dish servings

juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
15 1/2 ounce can of chickpeas drained (or close enough!)

Whisk together ingredients for dressing in a small bowl, add the chickpeas and salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

This simple, fresh salad will be my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Chriesi at Almond Corner.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spice-Rubbed Steaks with Bell Pepper Relish and Chipotle-Chevre Polenta

Spice-Rubbed Steaks


You know how magazines put out those compilation issues, the best of, or just salads, or some such thing? Usually I avoid those, because odds are, I already have the original issue and can easily find the recipe if I chose to. There is one exception and that is Cuisine at Home, especially the Weeknight Series. One..because I am always looking for quick weeknight meals, and two...they pair the recipe with an accompanying side dish. I love it when someone figures out what to serve with what, it takes the pressure off of me.

Spice-Rubbed Steaks


So, while I was perusing through Volume Three of the Weeknight Menus, I found Spice-Rubbed Steaks with Bell Pepper Relish served with Chipotle-Chevre Polenta. Um..okay. No, really, I didn't say, "um..okay" what I said was, "H-E double-L yes" (and I really did say it that way, because I adore Tammy Wynette).

Oh my gosh, this was fabulous. Seriously fabulous. Steak..wonderful. Bell pepper relish..wonderful. And as if that wasn't enough, the polenta was incredible. It was hot and spicy and cheesey and corny and everything good. The only thing was that the polenta not as thick as I liked it, so the next time I'm going to reduce the water by 1/2 cup. Otherwise, I wouldn't change a thing!

Spice-Rubbed Steaks with Bell Pepper Relish
Serves 4

Relish
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced (I used yellow)
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt to taste

For the steaks
2 teaspoons each: kosher salt, light brown sugar, paprika
1 teaspoon each: chili powder, ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 boneless beef sirloin steaks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine the relish ingredients and set aside.

Mix together the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Pat the steaks dry and rub the spice mixture on both sides of the steak.

Heat the oil in a grill pan over medium heat (I heated up my gas grill). Cook steaks for about 3-4 minutes per side, or till they are done to your liking. Remove the steaks and tent with foil to rest for 5 minutes.

Chipotle-Chevre Polenta
Serves 4

3 cups water (I'm going to use 2 1/2 next time)
3/4 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1-2 teaspoons mince chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce (remember how I froze mine in little packets!)
1/4 cup crumbled chevre (goat cheese)

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Whisk in the polenta and the salt. Turn the heat to low and continue stirring the polenta for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the goat cheese. You can garnish the polenta with additional goat cheese if you desire.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Giada's Everyday Caponata

Everyday Caponata


Apparently I am going to have to add Sicilian food to the list of my favorites. It seems that a lot of things I've tried and liked lately have been Sicilian. I don't really know enough about it to actually say what makes a dish Sicilian, but the fact that I know nothing about something has never stopped me in the past from going on and on about it. I see no reason to let ignorance stop me now, do you? Peter from Kalofagas.Ca is off in Greece right now, or I'm sure he could set me straight on the ins and outs of Sicilian cooking. What I like about it is the combination of sweet and sour and the lovely addition of raisins or currants.

So, pair my new found love for Sicilian cooking and my CSA's insistence on supplying me with a never ending pile of eggplant, I turned to Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes from Giada. (Side note - Giada is like Marilyn and Madonna, first name only needed.) She says that caponata is one of the great Sicilian vegetable dishes, and I have to agree. This was wonderful. It was sweet and sour, and served over polenta made a nice side dish for my spatchcocked chicken (ha!). One thing though, it is not very photogenic. Seriously, I took one shot from above and the capanota spread over the polenta, looked like someone might have become sick on my plate. It should come with a warning "eat at an angle".

Everyday Caponata
6 side-dish servings

1/4 cup olive oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cored seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes and their juices (I used fresh diced tomatoes)
3 tablespoons raisins
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
fresh basil leaves for garnish (ooops - forgot!)

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and saute about 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and their juice, raisins, and oregano. Simmer over a medium-low heat until the flavors blend together and the mixture thickens. This will take about 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, caper, and the salt and pepper. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the basil leaves for garnish.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Garden Tuesday - Sedum Autumn Joy

Sedum Autumn Joy
You know that fall is just around the corner with the large heads of Sedum Autumn Joy start turning from bright, lime green to pink and burgundy. I love it and so do the bumble bees.

Bye Bye Bee
Look he's taking off! Isn't he cute. I imagine him with a little bee sized suitcase in one hand (arm, claw, paw, leg?), flying off to do his business on a another flower.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Flavor Bible

The Flavor Bible


Okay, do you remember back when I posted my Orzo Cucumber Salad with Mint and Oregano, which was inspired from The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs? Well, guess what? After I posted that, I got an email from the authors, Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg, thanking me for mentioning their book and being inspired by it! Wow! As a food blogger, this was almost like the President calling me to congratulate me for something. Really. Call me silly, but cookbook authors are MY royalty.

After we corresponded with a few emails. Yes, I corresponded with a cookbook author!! They mentioned that on September 16th, they would be celebrating the book's one year anniversary of being in Amazon.com's Top 100 Cooking, Food and Wine Bestseller List and they were inviting web sites to post about the book to help celebrate! I'm always up for a celebration, especially when it involves a cookbook that has made it to the top of my rotation and stayed there! They will be posting some of the links at their website Becoming a Chef.

Cherries


As I mentioned on my Orzo salad post, I love this book. It doesn't contain recipes, but gives you ideas of what to pair with the ingredient that you are wanting to cook with. Under each food, it gives you a column listing of all the possible ingredients that play nicely with that food. The ones in bold are best friends. But my favorite part is after the column listing, they have what they call "flavor affinities" and there it list combinations of ingredients that go with your chosen item. For fun, I'm sharing some of the cherry affinities and the duck affinities. Isn't it fabulous? I plan on trying lots of them, but for sure, the cherries + sweet vermouth + vanilla, and the duck + bacon + ginger + spinach.

Duck


I seriously cannot recommend this book enough. It will guide your cooking in ways that you could not imagine. If it can help me be creative, it can work it's magic with anyone!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

POM Iced Coffee

POM Iced Coffee


I'm sure you've read the whole debate about food bloggers getting free things to try and then blog about. As a food blogger, who absolutely loves to get free things, I don't see what the problem is. I fully admit that I am sometimes offered products to try, and I always, always say yes. Unless a lima bean company contacts me, and then all bets are off. But other than that, I'm game.

I completely enjoyed the POM Wonderful juice that I received last time. I got to try several recipes and it was a postive experience. So, when they contacted me and asked if I wanted to try their Iced Coffee, I didn't hesitate to say yes.

Yesterday afternoon, around 3-ish, I was completely dragging. I was about to pour me a glass of iced tea, when I remembered the iced coffee in the fridge. I tried the Cafe Au Lait. It was fabulous! It's not heavy or overly sweet. It's more like the iced coffee that I make at home. It doesn't taste like a dessert, and even better it's made with Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, and contains antioxidant benefits. I really loved this!

By the way, POM people, don't you love how my photo turned out?! I don't want to toot my own horn, but I think it looks artsy and simple. Feel free to contact me if you'd like to hire me for your marketing team, cause this whole teaching special ed thing is kind of stressful.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekend Cat Blogging #223 - The Alliteration

Patchouli
Patchouli's Perfect Profile


This will be my entry for this week's Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by LB and Breadchick at The Sourdough.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad

Noodle Bowl


Loves: Thai food, big bowls of noodles, Donna Hay, big bowls to put noodles in. Hate: Lima beans, liver, my thighs.

Guess what, my peeps?? I have been searching and searching and searching for some big bowls to use for Asian noodles, and I found some! Not only did I find some, but I found some that I love. I will probably make big bowls of noodles every week, just so that I can use these bowls. Raise your hand if you love Homegoods. It's like Marshall's without all the distracting clothing and shoes! I try not to go there too often because..well..it's like sending a crack addict into a crack store (if we actually had crack stores), but it did give me these bowls. These bowls which satisfied my latest fix, and I shouldn't need to hit Homegoods again for another month or so.

Noodle Bowl Love


Since I had some leftover spatchcocked chicken (c'mon you were waiting for it, weren't you?), I needed a noodle dish with chicken. I pulled out all my Donna Hay magazines and started looking through them, and found this recipe in issue #13, summer 2004.

Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad


It was wonderful, everything that I wanted it to be. Light and summery, yet full of flavor! (I modified it to use cooked chicken and soba noodles)

Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad
Serves 4

3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1 package soba noodles (mine was 10 oz)
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
8 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, diced
1 long red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/3 cup roasted cashews, roughly chopped

Cook noodles per package directions, drain and rinse.

Whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, peanut oil and sugar, until sugar is dissolved.

To serve, toss the noodles with the chicken, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, chilli, cilantro and dressing. Sprinkle with the cashews.

This recipe featuring my herb of choice, cilantro, will be my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Haalo at Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tyler Florence Roasted Peppers in Olive Oil

Roasted Peppers in Olive Oil


Yay! I am happy to be back with Tyler this week! Unfortunately between school commitments and the fact that I am having to cook with a set of ingredients from my CSA, I don't have much time to search out Tyler's recipes that fit those specifications. It seems like every week, I get tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Over and over. They are all good, mind you, it's just that this whole eating local thing can get a little dreary at times. But pretty soon, I'm sure the cooler fall crops will kick in and I'll be complaining about too much butternut squash.

So, anyway, let me stop my whining, and start my praising. Because Tyler's Roasted Peppers in Olive Oil is oh-so-praiseworthy. These were wonderful, everything that I want in roasted peppers. I served them on top of some grilled brats...Heaven. Then the next day, I added them to a quesadilla...Heaven The Sequel. Seriously a bowl of these in your fridge and you are good to go, in just about any direction.

Lazy Roasted Peppers


The only modifications that I made were to use a mixture of peppers and to roast them all at once under the broiler. They don't roast as evenly, but I don't care. Ease of use trumps evenness every time.

Roasted Peppers in Olive Oil

6 red bell peppers
1/2 bunch fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the peppers directly onto the burners of a gas stove. Cook the peppers, turning frequently, until they are charred on all sides. Put the peppers into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let them steam for about 15 minutes. (If you do not have a gas stove preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the peppers with some olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Cook the peppers until they are soft and have collapsed, about 1 hour. Set the peppers aside until they are cool enough to handle.)

Peel, stem, and seed the peppers; cut them into wide strips. Place the warm pepper strips into a shallow serving dish. Top with the oregano, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. Season them with salt and pepper and mix them gently to combine the flavors. Let them sit to cool and serve at room temperature.

This will be my entry for this week's Tyler Florence Fridays.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Doesn't Everyone?

Kitty Placemat
Certainly I am not the only one who makes placemats for their kitty cats?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Garden Tuesday - Garlic Chives

Garlic Chives

When they start blooming, you can really tell a difference between garlic chives and regular chives. Regular chives have those clover like purple flowers and garlic chives have these large white lacey heads. Some of you may remember my whimsical post, where I talked about letting things go to seed and creating a freeform garden. Well, after having to pull garlic chives from every inch of my herb garden, that is not happening this year!

Garlic Chives

Bonus kitty cat picture and it's not even the weekend!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Orzo Cucumber Salad with Mint and Oregano

Orzo Pasta Salad


Remember back when I pledged to buy no more cookbooks? Well, I am proud to say that I have stuck to my pledge. Since I have no new treats to look through, I am starting to spend time perusing old favorites, and those books that I just had to have, but then managed to never cook from. The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs was one of those books.

Have you seen this book, or looked through it? It's not a cookbook, it's really what it says it is, a flavor bible. A place to go to see what goes with what. I've been wanting to be a little more creative and loose with my cooking and this book allows you to do that, with a few helpful guidelines. Wanting to make some sort of side dish using cucumbers, I looked them up in the book. One of the pairings suggested was: cucumbers, garlic, mint, oregano, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Sounded good to me, so I took those ingredients, added some pasta, and had this lovely pasta salad!

Orzo Cucumber Salad with Mint and Oregano
Serves 4

1 cup orzo
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/4 cup oregano, chopped
2 cups diced cucumbers
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo pure directions and drain. Mince garlic and add to bowl. Spoon hot orzo over the garlic, to cook the garlic a bit. Let it sit, while you chop the herbs and cucumbers. Add the herbs and cucumbers to the orzo. Pour over the olive oil and vinegar (you can whisk it to an emulsion first if you'd like, I usually don't bother). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

This herby pasta salad will be my entry for this week's Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Rachel at The Crispy Cook.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekend Wine Reviews #5

Tapena Verdejo


This week I only have one wine to review. I know! I am drinking as fast as I can. I was going to wait until I had more to review, and go ahead and post a book review today. But my wine notebook was a mere one flight of stairs away, and my book notebook was two flights of stairs away. Laziness wins out all the time.

Plus, this wine was really interesting, and I love discovering a new (or at least to me) varietal/style of wine. I had never had a Verdejo wine before, here is how it is described from their website:

Verdejo (ver-DAY-ho) is the Spanish answer to Sauvignon Blanc with a hint more floral aromas. Verdejo is known to come from several regions across Spain ranging from Rueda to Tierra de Castilla. This varietal has been written about by wine writers from Robert Parker to Hugh Johnson as the next hot white that is known for good value for the money

From the wine-making region of Tierra de Castilla in the heart of Spain, this pale yellow hued wine has a vibrant nose with an array of aromas of tropical fruits over a backdrop of ripe peaches. The palate is full of bright stone fruit that is beautifully balanced and crisp, refreshing acidity and a lingering finish with a hint of minerality.


We tried the Tapena Verdejo, 2006, Spain. $10.00 They say: This refreshing wine has flavors of a pears and honey swimming from the glass. Body soft and smooth. We say: full on the front, ends flinty. Very dry finish. Unusual. Buy again: Yes, though we would like to try it from other wineries too, since this is the only one that we have tried.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Weekend Cat Blogging #222

Three of my favorite old things: Scrappycat, quilts and iron beds.

Scrappycat will be my entry for this week's Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Miz Mog and Kitties at Mind of Mog.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Confections of A Closet Master Baker

Confections of a Closet Master Baker


When I read about a The Edible Word, a foodie book club, on a Blithe Palate, I was all on board. Not because I love to bake, but because I love to read. I especially love to read about people cooking. I do not love to bake, I don't even like to bake a little bit. So, the whole idea that I had to bake something after reading this, was pushed aside, while I reveled in my good fortune at having a delightful book to read.

And delightful it was. Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman's Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker is part memoir, part foodie book, part cookbook. The author, Gesine Bullock-Prado, a former Hollywood film developer and sister to actress Sandra Bullock, follows her dream to open a bake shop. The book tells the story of her setting up and running her shop, the hard work, the lovely customers that she gets to know, and recipes. Recipes that sound good even to me a hopeless baker.

Biscotti


This book made me want to bake. Really. But knowing my limitations, I chose an easy Brown Sugar Almond Biscotti recipe from Off The Shelf: Cooking From the Pantry. A baking recipe with only 6 ingredients is right up my alley. Though, I did have to add a couple of tablespoons of milk to help the dough come together. These were good, not my favorite, but really simple.

Brown Sugar Almond Biscotti

2 cups plain all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup blanched whole almonds (I only slivered)
2 eggs, lightly beatened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350. Place the flour, baking powder, sugar and almonds in a bowl and mix to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until a soft dough forms, this may take awhile. (It didn't happen for me and I added 2 tablespoons of milk). Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface until smooth. Divide into 2 logs and flatten slightly. Place them on a greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool completely. Slice the logs into 1/4 inch thick slices and place back on baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until they are crisp. Store in an air tight container.


Be sure and check for the round up, on Sept 7/8 at A Blithe Palate, of all the lovely baking delights that will have been inspired by this book.