Monday, January 31, 2011

Bulgur and Citrus Salad

Bulgur and Citrus Salad

Regular readers know that I buy a rotisserie chicken every week.  It is my reward for going grocery shopping on a Thursday, after work.  After work, when all I want to do is go home, curl up in a fetal position, and sob myself to sleep. 

So, yeah.  I get a chicken.  I had been serving that chicken with chips and pickles for a totally worry free dinner.  Except that I did worry.  I worried that I was eating nothing healthy!!  So, I decided that I would serve my chicken with some sort of healthy side salad dish type thing. “Side salad dish type thing” – the words just flow from my lips (or in this case fingertips) don’t they?  Remember if anyone else refers to “side salad dish type thing” – you heard it hear first.  I should probably copyright it.


Yes.  I can’t spell.  Isn’t it weird that someone who reads 50+ books a year, can’t spell? It drives my husband crazy.  I say, it could be worse.  I could be a control freak, who makes lists for everything, and tries to bend everyone the way she wants them to be.  Oh wait.  I am. 

For your consideration, my first side salad dish type thing – Bulgur and Citrus Salad from Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchenby Amy Pennington, which I reviewed, here.   It was the perfect start!  It went great with the chicken, super easy to put together, and made interesting by the citrus/cinnamon combination. 

Bulgur and Citrus Salad

  • 1 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water (plus a smidgen more)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (I didn’t have any, so I just used more parsley)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • handful of dried currants or raisins
  • half an orange, grated outer peel and juice only
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Put the bulgur in a medium sized glass bowl.  Pour the boiling water over it, and cover it, allowing it to steam for 25 minutes.  Drain any extra water off.

Stir in the pine nuts, parsley, mint, cinnamon, raisins, orange zest and juice, and vinegar.  Drizzle with the olive oil and stir gently.  Season to taste.  Serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.


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

Cookbook Used:

AND  don’t forget to join me here on Thursday for Tackling Bittman!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekend Wine Reviews #48

Herding Cats

Herding Cats, Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz, South Africa. $5.99.  They say:  perfect balance of cherry, cassis, and pepper flavors.  We say:  nice blend, bit of pepper, lots of cherry on the finish.  Nothing exceptional.  Buy again:  probably not, though not bad for the price.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weekend Cat Blogging #295


Patchouli, demonstrating the fine art of cat napping.



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Amar and Luna at CatSynth.  AND next week people, I am hosting!!!  So, get your kitty pictures ready and join me here!!

And this will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Portofino Lamb and Artichoke Risotto

Lamb Risotto

There are certain foods that make me feel like I am really “cooking” – risotto is one of them.  I don’t know whether it is the slow addition of the heated stock, the gentle stirring, the monitoring and babying of your risotto, or the joyful comfort that you receive at the end.  Whatever it is, I love it. 

It’s almost like it’s your child.  I don’t know about you, but I have little conversations with me risotto.  “Is that enough?”  “Do you want more?”  “Are you finished?”  “How about just one more scoopful?”

And then after you’ve given it just what it needs, it turns around and gives you just what you need.

I found this Portofino Lamb and Artichoke Risotto recipe at  I’m not going to type in the recipe…one – it’s Friday and I’m lazy, and two – you need to go check out allrecipes, really you do.



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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

360 Vodka

360 Vodka

Yes.  That is a picture of a bottle of Vodka. 

But not just any Vodka.  It’s Vodka in a lovely pale blue bottle with a porcelain stopper.  I *heart* bottles with porcelain stoppers (you might remember these fancy lemonade bottles). But pale blue bottles with porcelain stoppers that contain Vodka???  Well, it’s almost too much for my frail old heart to handle.

Why Vodka?  Well, how about Cranberry Liqueur or Orange Liqueur?  And I do believe that there is some limoncello in my future.

My husband, dear silly man, said, “but what if it’s not good Vodka?”  Silly boy.  It’s in a lovely pale blue bottle with a porcelain stopper, it’s already good.   But actually, I went to their 360 Vodka website and it turns out, it is a pretty impressive vodka!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Joy Jewelry

Pretty jewelry box!

Okay.  Remember the post about One Little Word

Well, it got me thinking.  Hmmm.  Wouldn’t it be nice to wear my word?  Everyday.  A little reminder, if you will.

    From Lisa Leonard Designs.

And wouldn’t it bring me JOY to peruse through lovely handmade jewelry finding just the right way to express my JOY?

From Sentiment Redesigned at Etsy.    

  And if one necklace was good, wouldn’t three be even better?                    

From Nancy’s Jewelry Box on Etsy.

Lovely little necklaces that bring me JOY everyday, and help me to remember to get and give JOY every single day. 

Hmmmm…..maybe some earrings? 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Green Salad with Oil and Vinegar

Green Salad

You know what I heard?  I heard that there are still people who buy bottled salad dressing!  I know.  Why would you?  Have you read the list of ingredients?  It’s filled with things you can’t even pronounce. 

Oil and Vinegar

Once you’ve made your own, you’ll never go back to bottled.  It’s so easy.  I mix up a jar of basic dressing at the beginning of the week, and then it’s ready any time I want a salad.  Plus, you can add all kinds of things to change it up.  Use nut oils or herb-infused oils, lemon juice instead of vinegar, or herb-infused vinegars, garlic, anchovies…seriously the possibilities are endless. 

OIl and Vinegar

This is the basic formula from The Best Recipes in the Worldby Mark Bittman.

Oil and Vinegar Salad Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots or red onions, optional (I didn’t have any)
  • 1/4 cup sherry, balsamic, or wine vinegar
  • 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Whisk the ingredients together, beginning with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and adding more as necessary.

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

and for

Which is coming up next Thursday, February 4th!!  Right here!  Don’t forget to enter. 

Also, Girlichef is doing a Bittman roundup, where she is giving away a copy of The Food Matters Cookbook!!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Wine Reviews #47

Silly Goose Shiraz

Silly Goose, Shiraz, Australia.  $5.99.  They say:  full bodied red brimming with fresh berries and spice.  We say:  very light, some spice, berry at the finish, pleasant, not very complex.  Buy again:  Maybe.  Not bad for the price.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekend Cat Blogging #294 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop


CoCo wants to know, “Whatcha doin?”



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Billy Sweetfeets Gingersnap.

and for

The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blueberry Danish Delight

Blueberry Danish Delight

I’m probably committing a huge foodie blogger sin.  No, I’m not using Cream of Mushroom Soup, but it’s probably just as bad….refrigerated crescent dough.  But you know what would have been an even bigger foodie blogger sin?  If I attempted to make a pastry dough from scratch.  So, live with it.

I found this recipe in the Smart Cooking the Costco Way.  I know.  I know.  But it is really this great (and free) book that you can pick up. 

So, were these amazing?  No.  But was I eating a nice warm Danish about 45 minutes after deciding to make them?  Yes.  Yes, I was.

Blueberry Danish Delight

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 package seamless Pillsbury Crescent Dough (I couldn’t find seamless, so I just smooched together the regular dough)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon water
  • Confectioners sugar (optional)

In a mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until it’s smooth.  Add egg, lemon peel, lemon juice and vanilla, beat until well blended and fold in the blueberries.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll out the dough on the sheet.  Cut the dough into 8 squares.  Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the blueberry mixture on each square on a diagonal.  Pick up the opposite ends of the square and fold over, overlapping to form the Danish.

In a small bowl, mix the honey and water and brush over the Danish. 

Bake for 13-15 minutes, remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes. 

Dust with powder sugar and eat.  Try not to think about how your foodie friends are going to shun you.



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

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Green Chili with Crispy Corn Tortilla Strips

Green Chili with Crispy Corn Tortilla Strips

Do you know how many chicken carcasses I have in my freezer?  Me neither.  But it’s a lot.  It fills a whole big Marshall’s bag full (all my bags from Marshall’s are huge, because somehow, I always buy 10 million things when I’m there).  (I love Marshall’s and they love me). Sorry.  I digress.  Back to chicken carcasses.

So, yeah, I have a bunch.  So, I make lots of chicken soup.  Lots.  So, when I saw this recipe in Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Marketby Sara Foster, I was all over it.  It called for 4 cups of cooked chicken, which in Pam-carcass-speak, translates to 2-3 carcasses.  I used two.  It also called for 6 cups of chicken stock, but since I was using carcasses, I just used water. 

It was good.  Mighty fine.  My only qualm is that it didn’t call for all the usual garnishes…sour cream, cheese, avocado…stuff I associate with this kind of green chili.  But if you look at the picture with the pile of Monterey Jack on the top, you’ll see I felt free to add my own.

Rather than type up the whole recipe (which is long…not difficult but long), I found a video on that shows Sara making the recipe!  The recipe is also included below the video. 

I pretty much followed the recipe, except that I used chicken carcasses and made it in the slow cooker.  I removed the carcasses about 30 minutes before serving, and pulled the meat off the bones.   Also, I used beans from my freezer instead of canned.


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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Soil Mates by Sara Alway

Soil Mates by Sara Alway

When Eric from Quirk Books, contacted me and asked if I would like a copy of Soil Mates: Companion Plants for Your Vegetable Garden by Sara Alway, I said yes!  I didn’t bother telling Eric, that in fact, I didn’t have a vegetable garden.  Unless you count my three pepper plants in pots by my herb garden, which I do, by the way!   But, I am never one to pass up a free book.  Ever. 

Soil Mates

So, I was expecting some scientific mumbo jumbo, with diagrams and charts, and pH values and things.  What I got instead was an unbelievably charming book.  I totally love this book!!!  And guess what?  Yes, not only does it have companion plants (and it totally makes me want to plant a vegetable garden), it has recipes!! 

Soil Mates:  Companion Planting for Your Vegetable Garden

The book is organized by matches, couples if you will.  It introduces each match, then has a page about why they are a love match, followed by plant profiles – with headings such as turn-ons, turn-offs, needy alert, stalker alert, and love triangles.  And then as if that wasn’t enough it is followed by a recipe using the loving couple.  Seriously adorable and informative!

For example, the book begins with Tomato and Basil:

Tomato is probably the most popular girl in the garden bed.  Everyone loves her seductive round fruits, and her colorful hues go with everything.  Basil may be loose and lanky, be he’s a force to be reckoned with.  He tries to make up for his minor shortcomings by helping deter pesky fruit flies and disease from voluptuous Tomato.  In fact, Basil makes Tomato so happy that all summer long she remains fertile and glowing, qualities that show in her flavor.


Not to sound naughty, but Basil likes to be pinched; otherwise he gets bitter.  To keep his leaves tasting sweet, pinch off flowers before they bloom.  (but leave a few for the bees!)  For her part, vine-y Tomato likes to be caged to keep her tasty treats high and dry.  There’s nothing worse than a rotten tomatoes.

Stalker Alert:

Tomato is plagued by ferocious-looking hornworms, which chomp on her fancy foliage, mostly at night, when Basil is asleep.  To attract the beneficial parasitic wasps whose larvae feed on their nasty host (they look like rice on the caterpillar’s back), plant flowers that umbrella- or daisy-like clusters, like tansy, dill and clover.

Then all of that (plus more) is followed by a recipe using Basil and Tomato – Fried Tomato Caprese!

I can not think of a charming more fun way to learn about companion planting.  This book would make a great gift to any gardener or foodie friend, or even just someone who loves charming books. 

Highly recommend 5/5. 

***I did not receive any compensation for this review, other than a copy of this delightful book!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Garden Tuesday–January Snow!


Yeah.   I need to learn how to adjust my settings in the blinding snow.  Some you may recognize the geraniums still in their pots on the porch.  Probably need to bring the pots in before they freeze and crack.  Just as soon as it gets above 20 degrees, I’ll get right on that.

car in snow

This is the south, people.  This car didn’t go anywhere for 5 days.

Yeah.  So, we had a snow day.  Lots of snow days.  5 whole days.  A week.  I was happy.


Smudge was not.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Crisp and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas with Lamb

Chickpeas with lamb

Even though I didn’t specifically make a resolution to eat healthier, instead choosing the word JOY, I am focusing more on healthy eating.   The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Livingfrom Mark Bittman, makes that focus oh sooo easy.   I’ve already reviewed it here, so I won’t go into it again.  But I love the use of small quantities of meat, because I could never, ever be a vegetarian, but I can go lightly on the meat.

This recipe is a prime example.   Just 8 ounces of ground lamb, mixed with all sorts of goodies like chickpeas and green beans, makes a wonderful dinner.  The flavors were spot on.  The only thing is that I needed a little extra time to get everything nice and crispy, and it never really did get as crispy as I wanted (and I think it was supposed to be). 

Crisp and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas with Lamb

  • 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
  • 3 Tbl olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 8 oz ground lamb
  • 1 red onion
  • 8 oz green beans, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbl minced garlic
  • Grated Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 Tbl cumin
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F.  Combine the chickpeas and 2 Tbl of the oil in a large roasting pan and bake, stirring them once or twice until they are crisp and browned, about 15 – 20 minutes (mine took longer).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the lamb.  Break it up a bit and roast until it is no longer pink and has cooked dry, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir, and continue to break it up until it is crispy, another 5 minutes.  (again, this wasn’t enough time for mine to get crispy).

Stir the onion, green beans, garlic, orange zest, cumin, and cayenne into the lamb; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Return the roasting pan to the oven and continue roasting until the vegetables are tender and browned, the lamb is very crisp, and the spices are fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven, stir in the chickpeas, and transfer everything to a serving dish.

Put the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat.  Add the orange juice and cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan, until warm and slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.  Drizzle this over the chickpea mixture and garnish with parsley to serve.

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


This will be my entry for Tackling Bittman.

Tackling Bittman Recipe Hop at A Moderate Life


My legume love affair hosted by Briciole and created by Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weekend Wine Reviews #46

Misterio Malbec

Misterio Malbec, 2009, $7.99.  They say:  deep red colour, scented nose, violets and black plums.  Voluptuous palate, elegant aftertaste.  We say:  light, light body, lightly fruity.  Buy again:  maybe, but there are other Malbecs that we’d like to try.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weekend Cat Blogging #293 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop

CoCo with Christmas wreath

Taking down Christmas decorations is not nearly as much fun as putting them up.


As a matter of fact, it is downright exhausting.



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Samantha, Clementine & Maverick.  Which, by the way…if you want to host, go check out the site and sign up. It’s fun!

This is also my entry for: