Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekend Cat Blogging #282


Smudge.  Minding his own business.  Trying to chill out on the back porch.


But then I had to go and babytalk him.  Which makes him roll around and look adorable.  Of course, this is as much effort as he could muster.



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted byHalloween Edition: Amar and Luna at CatSynth.  Smudge wants to remind kitties to stay safe inside on Halloween, there are way too many scary things out there on that night!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chocolate Anise Biscotti


If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I don’t bake desserts.  There are no pies or cakes here, an occasional muffin may make it’s way, but not often.  But there is one thing I bake, biscotti.  I haven’t found anything else as forgiving as biscotti.  It doesn’t rise, it’s not supposed to be soft, moist, light, or fluffy – all words that I have trouble with.

So, when this week’s theme for I Heart Cooking Clubs – Giada – was chocolate, I was hoping that she would have a chocolate biscotti recipe.  Of course, Giada had a chocolate biscotti recipe, why was I worried?  I found this in Giada's Family Dinners, but you can also find it online, though it’s called Chocolate Anise Cookies there. 


These were so good.  I don’t even like anise all that much, but the flavor was subtle and just right.  I only had a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips, so I ended up subbing an equal amount of white chocolate chips.  I think it really worked well.  Plus it allowed me to use up two small amounts left in bags (I love that!).  Using up little bits of things in my pantry makes me ridiculously happy.

Chocolate Anise Biscotti

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise seed
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or half chocolate, half white chocolate)

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Add the ground anise seed and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.

    Form the dough into a 16-inch-long, 3-inch-wide log. Transfer the log to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 30 minutes. Cool 30 minutes.

    Place the log on the cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the cookies cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake the cookies until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack and cool completely.

    Makes about two dozen.

    This will be my entry for I Heart Cooking Clubs!



    And for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

  • Cookbook Used:

  • Thursday, October 28, 2010

    White Bean, Sausage, and Kale Soup

    Kale soup

    This is apparently formula week at Sidewalk Shoes.  Because once again, I am not actually giving a recipe, but a formula for the idea of a recipe.  Like pasta, soup is also an easy dinner to put together from this and that.  But like pasta, there are also some classics.  Some classic combinations that just go together. Like for instance:  white beans, sausage and kale.

    Whenever I have kale, I make some variation of this soup.  It’s never the same, and it’s always good.  For this version:  some sausage (I used a spicy chicken, and again, I wish I would have used pork – this is the second time I’ve made this observation lately – so it’s pork from now on), white navy beans, kale, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, a few fresh bay leaves, a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary, and salt and pepper.  That’s it.  I dumped it all in the slow cooker (except for the kale) and went about my day.  About an hour before serving, I stirred in the chopped kale.

    Good.  Simply good.


    This will be my entry for Souper Sundays (Soup, Salad, or Sammie) hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    What Was it Wednesday?


    You’re looking at March 20, 2009.  Granola, obviously.  I’d already posted about my granola,  so I’m not sure why I was taking another pic of it, unless I was just overcome by it’s goodness!

    ***What Was it Wednesday – working my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Garden Tuesday - Cosmos


    My cosmos spends most of it’s summer hidden from view, by all the big burly plants.


    But in the fall, when everything else is dying away, it’s lovely delicate flowers have their chance in the spotlight.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Pasta with Chicken and Stuff

    I like those cooking articles in magazines, that instead of posting a recipe, they post a road map.  Pick something from this column, and then from this column, and chose one of these and you have dinner! 

    My weeknight cooking is sometimes like that, especially with pasta.   Usually I chose some sort of protein, some sort of vegetable(s), garlic, onions, herbs, and most likely, cheese.  This is where I raid my fridge, using up bits of this and that, and since it’s mostly organic, this is real food.

    Take tonight’s pasta for example:  leftover chicken, zucchini made fancy by my julienne vegetable peeler, garlic, some fresh basil (added a little to early – next time I’ll stir it in at the last minute), some fresh grated lemon rind, salt, and lots of fresh ground pepper.

    Served with some homemade bread and a salad from local greens, perfect. 

    This will be my entry for Heart ‘n Soul Blog Hop


    AND for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Tigerfish of Teczcape .


    Cookbook Used:  Pam’s Brain.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

    You know the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”  Well, go ahead.  I give you permission.  Just look at that cover, it is a thing of beauty, as is the whole book. 

    When Dorie Greenspan came out with Baking: From My Home to Yours, I didn’t hesitate to get it, even though I don’t bake.  And I was not disappointed, I’ve even managed to bake one or two things from it.  So, when I saw the title of her new book, Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours, I practically swooned, because if it’s one thing I adore it’s the French.  I want to be French, I want to tie my scarves effortlessly, always look pulled together, and now, I want to cook like them. 

    And again, this book does not disappoint.  But to say that it doesn’t disappoint, is an injustice; this book is soooo far from “does not disappoint.”  It is a treasure, a joy, a gorgeous hunk (weighs almost 5 pounds) of book.  A coffee table book that you can really cook from!! 

    The quote on the cover from Ina Garten reads, “I’ll be working my way through every easy, delicious recipe.”  I’m with you Ina.  And if you’d like to join me and Ina and a bazillion other bloggers, head over to French Fridays with Dorie and sign up! 

    Some things I can’t wait to make:  Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartine, Chicken in a Pot:  The Garlic and Lemon Version (Cover Recipe), Salmon with Basil Tapenade, Cauliflower-Bacon Gratin…really I must stop there, lest I copy the contents of the entire book. 


    You know you want it!:

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    Weekend Cat Blogging #281

    I accidentally left my camera set on it’s inside settings.  So, what you get is the essence of Smudge!



    This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Nikita Cat.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Lemon-Curry Roasted Chicken

    Curry roasted chicken and potatoes

    This recipe should come with a warning…do not make unless you love the color yellow.  Because once you make this paste and rub it all over the chicken, your fingers now look like you smoke several packs a day!  And if you think that is bad, wait until you see your napkins after you are finished eating.  Next time I will use yellow napkins, or rather, I will use the white ones which are now yellow.  They have officially become my curry napkins.

    This was delightful recipe came from Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market from Sara Foser.   I added some potatoes because I am not about to roast a chicken and waste all those lovely chicken drippings.  They simply scream to have some potatoes tossed and roasted alongside.

    And as something different today, rather than posting the recipe, I am going to point you to a video of Sara Foster actually doing the recipe!

    From ifood – Lemon-Curry Roasted Chicken.

    Yeah.  I saw.  She puts gloves on when she rubs the paste into the chicken.  Duh. 



    This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

    Cookbook Used:

    Thursday, October 21, 2010



    Now that fall is here (and I say it is, despite the 89 degree days we are having).  Speaking of which, does anyone else find it challenging to dress for fall?!  Last week I had bus duty, outside in the morning.  It was in the lower 40’s!  But then when I left for work, it was in the upper 80’s!  How does one dress to accommodate a 40 degree change?! 

    Even with all the crazy temperatures, there is one thing I don’t have to think about and that is soup.  It is time for soup.  I am ready for soup.  I am embracing my soup loving soul. 

    I began with Minestrone from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.  Minestrone is a classic and like all classics, with good reason.  It’s good.  It’s so good, I didn’t even miss the meat, and as a confirmed meat lover, that is saying something.  Made pretty much as written, except that I added a Parmesan cheese rind, because I always do.


    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    • 2 small carrots, diced
    • 2 ribs celery, chopped
    • 2 small zucchini, trimmed and cubed
    • One 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained, with 1/2 the beans mashed (I used my freezer stash)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 bay leaf
    • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leave, chopped
    • One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, mashed, with their juice
    • One 10-ounce package frozen baby lima beans
    • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
    • 5 leaves Swiss chard, chopped or 1/2 small head of Napa cabbage, cored and chopped
    • 1/2 cup dry red wine
    • 1/3 cup elbow macaroni or little shells
    • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

    In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and zucchini and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to the slow cooker and add everything except the Swiss chard, wine, and pasta.  Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

    Add the chard and wine and continue to cook on low for another 2 to 3 hours.  Remove the bay leaf.

    Stir in the pasta and cook on high until the pasta is tender – about 30 minutes.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.

    Serves 6


    This will be my entry for Souper Sundays (Soup, Salad, or Sammie) hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.


    Cookbook used:

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    What Was it Wednesday?

    You’re looking at March 10, 2009.  Wow.  I have no idea.  Some sort of bulgur maybe?  With some ground beef and tomatoes.  I don’t know, but it looks really interesting. 

    ***What Was it Wednesdays – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Garden Tuesday – Lawn Woes


    Guess who is lucky enough to live next to the retired guy who has way too much time to spend on his lawn? 

    I want it to be known though, that 99% of the yards in our subdivision look like ours, not his. 

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Pasta with Arugula Pesto

    Arugula Pesto

    I have to begin this post by admitting that I don’t even like arugula all that much.  So, why did I make arugula pesto?  Because my CSA gave it to me, bagfuls, every week.   Since I am loathe to waste food, and I am all about eating seasonally, I couldn’t without feeling guilty let it languish in my drawer any longer. 

    After a search through my cookbooks, I found Arugula Pesto in Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipesfrom Giada.  This was chosen for the simple reason that it used up the most of the dreaded arugula.

    Guess what?  I loved this.  Loved it.  Seriously.  This was so ridiculously quick and easy.  I bumped it up a bit by including some shredded cooked chicken when I tossed the pesto with the pasta, but it wouldn’t even really be necessary.  This was so good, that I am hoping I get another bag or two of arugula this week!

    Arugula Pesto

    • 2 cups (packed) fresh arugula
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

    Process the arugula and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.  With the machine running, gradually add the oil, processing until well blended.  Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the cheese, salt and pepper.  Season with more salt and pepper to taste.  (Makes enough to sauce 12 ounces of pasta as a main course).

    Makes 1 cup.

    This will be my entry for Heart ‘n Soul Blog Hop

    This will be my entry for I Heart Cooking Clubs!


    This will be my entry for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Claire of Chez Cayenne .

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Weekend Wine Reviews #38


    Vinas Chilenas, Trader Joe’s Chile, Reserva Chardonnay, 2009. $4.49. They say:  fresh and light, enticingly tropical and fruity.  We say:  nothing special, very generic, like a house wine.  Buy again:  no, probably not.  Good for the price, but not a repeater.

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Weekend Cat Blogging #279


    20 year old kitty cats do not take any sass from anyone. 



    This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Samantha, Clementine & Maverick.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Focaccia Before and After






    I have decided that I am making this every week.  It is the perfect bread.  It is great with everything and when sliced open, totally fabulous for sandwiches.  Originally posted HERE.



    This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

    Cookbook used: 

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Cheap, Frugal, or Environmentally Friendly

    Does your family have a wrapping paper saver?  You know, the one who carefully flattens each piece of used wrapping paper and folds it up, ready to be used again.  Their closet is filled with bags of used bows and bits of ribbon from this and that. 


    I am that person.  My very favorite thing to save is those gift bags.  They don’t get torn, they are barely used and they fold up nicely.  Though, I think I should set some etiquette rules.  Like…maybe a new tag would be a nice touch.


    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    What Was it Wednesday?

    Something frozen

    You’re looking at March 3, 2009.  I don’t know.  It looks more complicated than I usually make.  Chocolate chip?  Butter pecan? 

    ***What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Garden Tuesday – The Herb Garden


    Tarragon – I believe it’s time to make some infused oil!


    Oregano.  The herb garden thug.  Totally having it’s way with the sage. 


    Guess who didn’t cut back the chive flowers and now has baby chives popping up everywhere?

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Oven-Fried Catfish with Roasted Veggies plus Winner Announced


    Do you decant?  “Decant? What do you mean by decant?” you might be asking.  I mean, do you bring home food from the grocery store and put it into jars or containers instead of what it originally came in?  I do, and ever since I started doing it, I no longer have pantry moth invasions. 

    The reason I bring this up is because I was planning on dredging my catfish in cornmeal, but when I brought down my jar of cornmeal, I noticed moths in it.  In the jar.  Which means that they came with the cornmeal.  Had I not placed it in a jar, they would have ended up in my pantry in my other food items, ruining lots of other food, instead of just the cornmeal. 

    Moral of this story…decant.

    Now, for today’s food.  This is not really a recipe.  It’s a concept.  It’s why I do what I do.  Remember when I made the INFUSED OILS?  Well, this is why I do it.  I had some green beans, potatoes, and onions from my CSA, some mushrooms because I love mushrooms, and some farm-raised catfish.  Too tired to read through my cookbooks or even search the net, I preheated the oven to 425.  Tossed all the veggies the porcini oil and roasted for 20 minutes.  Dredged the catfish in some panko crumbs and salt and pepper and a drizzle of the oil, scooted over the veggies and roasted the catfish for 15 minutes.  Voila.  Dinner.  Simple, but kicked up a notch with the porcini oil. 


    What kind of wine did I drink with it????  Well, you would know if you had a copy of What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea - Even Water - Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliersand I am so pleased to announce that #31 – Susan D!!!!   YEA!!  Susan, send me your address and I’ll get it out to you!

    This lovely simple eating will be my entry for Heart ‘n Soul Blog Hop

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Weekend Wine Reviews #37

    Trader Joe’s Honey Moon Viognier, 2008, California.  $6.99.  They say:  Our honeymoon Viognier is named after the June full moon, which signifies the moment when the sweet scent of flowers turn into young grapes, creating the lush, full bodied wine with peach, apricot and honeysuckle aromas followed by luscious honey, mango and nectar.  We say:  we wish we lived near Trader Joe’s.  We would be so happy.  Buy again:  yes!!! 

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    Weekend Cat Blogging #278

    This is the response I get when I tell Smudge to turn around so I can take his picture.  The teeny tiniest flicker of one ear.



    This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Breadchick and LB at The Sour Dough.