Friday, September 30, 2011

Basil Harvest? Final? One more? for Foodie Friday


This is my most recent basil harvest, my third of the season.  The first harvest became basil vinegar.  The second harvest became basil pesto.  This harvest was chopped in a food processor with a little olive oil and frozen in an ice cube tray.  The cubes were then popped out and stored in a ziploc bag.  Ready to add summery basil flavor to soups and pastas all winter long. 

I’m hoping to get one more harvest in before it gets too cold at night and the basil says bye-bye.



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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fettuccine with Bacon, Peas, and Parmesan

Fettuccine with Bacon, Peas and Parmesan

If there is one thing I’ve learned from Cooking Light, it’s that a little bacon can make a world of difference.  Seriously, a few strips of bacon can add just enough smoky pork fat goodness to make you satisfied.  And the other thing…a little parmesan cheese can also add some much needed richness to light dishes. 

There are a zillion versions of this dish, and I think I’ve tried a half of zillion of them.  What is half a zillion, anyway?  I’ll have to ask my regular ed math teacher, she knows everything.  She finally taught me scientific notation on Friday.  It’s only taken three years, but I think I’ve got it now. She’s the same teacher that sometimes gives me the math test to take ahead of time, so that she can see where the students will probably mess up.  Hey, it’s a tough job, but someone has to be really, really bad at math.

So, anyway, back to the pasta.  I found this in Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2008: EVERY RECIPE...A Year's Worth of Cooking Light Magazinea cookbook I highly recommend, it is filled with tons and tons of stuff I want to make.  But you can also find it online, Fettuccine with Bacon, Peas, and Parmesan.  Which by the way, when you go read the reviews, I would suggest you ignore the one star review.  How can you give a recipe a one star review when you modify the recipe so much, it’s not even close?  Faithy’s review – she left out the bacon, added dried thyme instead of fresh and added grated carrot.  Um..really.  I don’t think subbing shredded carrot for bacon is an even substitution in anyone’s mind!! 

Seriously, I’m still shaking my head over that one….carrots for bacon.


This will be my entry for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Gay ourScientist in the Kitchen .

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at July 16, 2009.  No clue.  Some sort of pureed soup.  I was thinking potato, when some parsley thrown on top to keep it from being totally uninteresting (and to give my camera something to focus on!)

***What was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Garden Tuesday ~ The Super Weed Edition


It was so hot and miserable this summer that weeding stopped somewhere around the beginning of July.  I hope that explains the weed growing out of a tennis ball.  Seriously, they can grow out of tennis balls.  It’s hopeless. 

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to my MOM!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chicken with Tomatoes, Olives and Cilantro

Chicken with tomatoes, olives and cilantro

Sometimes substitutions work and sometimes they don’t.  I had planned on serving Chicken with Tomatoes, Olives and Cilantro over couscous.  Of course, when I wrote this down on menu planning day, I just assumed I had couscous in the pantry.  Everyone has couscous in the pantry,right?  Wrong. 

I had already started the recipe and was most of the way through it before I realized I had no couscous.  Why?  Because couscous only takes like 5 minutes, so why worry about it, until you’re practically finished!  So, being ever-so-quick on my feet, I decide on polenta.  Everyone has polenta in the pantry, right?  Wrong.

I am obviously sorely lacking in my pantry replenishing.  I ended up using grits because I didn’t have time to get some pasta cooked.  It was not the best choice.  The grits had too much grits flavor.  The chicken dish is more delicately flavored and the grits over powered it. 

I found the recipe in Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast: 250 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Any Time of Day (Everyday Food)- as a matter of fact it’s the cover recipe.  You can also follow the link in the first paragraph and find it on Martha’s site. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Wine Reviews #77 ~ Napa River, Napa County, Chardonnay 2009

Napa River Chardonnay

Napa River, Napa County, Chardonnay.  2009.  Trader Joes $6.99.  We say:  creamy and buttery with a  bit of citrus.  Finishes very nice and pleasant.  Buy again:  yes!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend Cat Blogging #329 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop


Someone is thoroughly enjoying the cooler weather.


It almost makes him want to run and play.  Almost.



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Kashim, Othello and Salome .

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rice Noodles with Lettuce and Ground Beef Gravy (kwaytiow neua sahp)

Rice Noodles with Lettuce and Ground Beef Gravy

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, trying to chose my favorite cuisine is like trying to chose my favorite daughter. Though I will admit that which one I prefer at the moment does vary depending on my mood (or their mood)! 

I have featured a lot of recipes on this blog from my favorite Vietnamese cookbook:  Quick & Easy Vietnamese: 75 Everyday Recipesby  Nancie McDermott.  After I realized how wonderful that book was, I immediately ordered  Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipesalso by Nancie McDermott.  And again, it is a huge winner. 

I admit that when I first saw this recipe, I chose it entirely for the ingredients.  I didn’t read the instructions.  Based on the title, I thought it was going to be kind of like laarb, with the ground beef mixture in lettuce cups.  I totally ignored the “gravy” part of the title.  So, on actual cooking day, as I read through the recipe, I was shocked to see that it’s noodles with a ground beef sauce on top of lettuce.  Sounded weird.  Don’t let that fool you.  It was wonderful.  It’s kind of like an Italian meat sauce with pasta, only it has Thai flavors.  Excellent!

Rice Noodles with Lettuce and Ground Beef Gravy

  • 3/4 pound dried rice noodles, fettuccine, or linguine width (I used spaghetti – it was all I had)
  • 5 large leaves of lettuce, or 3 to 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 5 roma (plum) tomatoes, or 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce or soy sauce
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water, as needed to keep noodles from sticking
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup-coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Prepare noodles as directed on package.  Rinse well in cold water and place in a medium bowl by the stove.

Line a serving platter with the lettuce.  Stem and quarter the plum tomatoes or halve the cherry tomatoes and place them in a mound on one side of the platter and place the platter by the stove.

In a wok or a deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.  Add the noodles.  Toss and stir the noodles with the soy sauce for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add a few tablespoons of water if needed to keep them from sticking.  Pile the noodles on the serving platter and set aside. 

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the garlic and cook for 1 minute over medium-high heat.  Add the ground beef, breaking it up as it begins to brown.  Stir in the fish sauce, curry powder, sugar, and chicken broth and let the sauce come to a boil.

Stir the cornstarch mixture well and scrape it into the wok. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes more.  Pour the meat sauce over the noodles and sprinkle with the cilantro.  Serve warm.

Serves 4

**Note I didn’t use a serving platter.  I plated everything on individual plates.



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

Thursday, September 22, 2011

So, I Had This Dream


Last week, I had a dream.  In this dream, I was walking through a field.  Scattered throughout the field were dirt mounds, kind of like big anthills.  Except these weren’t anthills, they were hornet’s nests.  Yellow jackets.  Whatever you want to call them.  I was trying to make my way through this field without getting stung.  At one point, I lost one of my shoes, a green clog.  I’m standing in the field flamingo-like, on one leg, the other leg bent, my foot pressed against my thigh.  A fellow teacher, B.C. walks up and I ask her to help me look for my clog.  She looks down and says, “But they are the same color as the grass, we’ll never find it.”

I lift my head up and glare at her.  And then I woke up.  Really, I think the anger woke me up.  My first coherent thought was, “Thanks B.C., way to state the obvious.”

I get to school and I’m telling another teacher M.B. about the dream.  She, ever so helpfully, sends me a link explaining what all these things mean.  (She is the same teacher, who will post the following status on FB, “You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte.” Forcing you to play “Your So Vain” in a never ending loop in your mind the rest of the day). 

So, apparently my dream means:  evil, anger and negative feelings on a long, arduous, laborious journey.


I hope tonight that I dream of butterflies and rainbows and unicorns.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Was it Wednesday ~ Something yellowish.

You’re looking at July 14, 2009.  I’m guessing some kind of coconut Thai curry.  Fish or chicken?

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Garden Tuesday ~ Garlic Chives (plus a little texture)

Garlic Chives

I used to have chives and garlic chives.  However, the garlic chives didn’t like sharing the garden space.  They didn’t like it at all.  So, bye-by chives.  While I do miss the pretty pale purple chive flowers, I have to console myself with the delicate white blossoms of the garlic chives.  This was a rather lackluster picture of my garlic chives, so I attempted to pretty it up by adding a texture to it. 

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Barefoot Contessa’s Weeknight Bolognese

Weeknight Bolognese

You know, I can honestly say that I’ve never met a Bolognese that I didn’t love.  It’s kind of like brownies and fudge, even a bad one is better than none at all. 

With this Weeknight Bolognese from the ever fabulous, Barefoot Contessa, I officially welcome fall.  All it takes are a few cool mornings, and I am all about soups and stews and pot roasts and pastas.  I don’t know the effect this is going to have on my dreaded Android calorie app on my phone, but I don’t think a big bowl of Bolognese is going to be as accommodating as a big bowl of summer veggies mixed in a salad.  But then again, that’s what those baggy, comfy sweaters are for, right?

So this warm bowl of comforting goodness was just the introduction to fall that I needed.  It was wonderful.  Of course it was, it’s from Ina.  And Ina never disappoints.  Ever.  I found it in Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips (Fabulous Recipes and Easy Tips)by Ina Garten.  But when I was googling it, to see if I could find it somewhere so I didn’t have to re-type it (since I didn’t change anything), I found it on her site.  So, go check out Weeknight Bolognese and welcome fall with a big bowl of pasta.


This will be my entry for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Tandy of Lavender & Lime .

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Wine Reviews - Fat Cat Chardonnay

Fat Cat Chardonnay

Fat Cat Chardonnay, California, 2009, $8.99, Total Wine.  They say:  fresh fruit, hints of vanilla and butterscotch and delicate apple and peach finish.  We say:  we agree with everything they say!!!  Buy again:  Yes! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend Cat Blogging #328


Sometimes it really is too much effort to open your eyes.  Really. 



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

Friday, September 16, 2011

Greek Style Salmon (Supposed to be Mahi Mahi) Plus WINNER Announced

Greek Style Salmon

One of the benefits of being super organized is knowing what’s in your freezer at all times.  When it works, it’s genius.  However, there is no benefit to being super organized, but not so super reliable in keeping your super organization updated.  I know.  You might have to go back and reread that sentence a couple of times before you get it.

Let me put it in simple terms for you.  My list said I had one portion of Mahi Mahi in the freezer.  My list lied.  So, with the Greek Style Mahi Mahi printed off from Epicurious clutched in my hands, I frantically shoved frozen packages of seafood aside, searching for the elusive Mahi Mahi.  It was very elusive. 

I remained undaunted.  Grabbed a package of salmon.  Tried to think of the ways salmon and Mahi Mahi are different, couldn’t actually remember any, and blindly went forward with the recipe.

Yum.  That’s all just, yum.  Well, actually no, that’s not all.  Did you really think you could get away with just one word from me?  This topping was fantastic.  I made a few called for mayo, I used yogurt, and it called for mint.  Well, my mint said bye-bye several weeks ago during the long dry spell, so I just used dill.   The mix of yogurt, feta, dill and lemon juice would be good on just about any kind of fish I suspect.  I’m not going to repost, because it’s such a simple recipe.  Preheat broiler, top fish with cheesy stuff and lemon slice, broil, eat.   Go check it out at the link above. 



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

AND the winner of the Great GIRARD’S Salad Dressing giveaway is Chris at Nibble Me This!!!!  Chris send me your email address and I’ll forward it on to Girard’s!!  I can’t wait to see what you do with it! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Was it Wednesday on Thursday

I know it’s Thursday.  Well, yesterday I did a book review.  And out of the kindness of my heart, I didn’t want you to miss a What Was it Wednesday, (might also have to do with the fact that I still have a zillion photos to work my way through).  So, you are looking at  July 14, 2009.

Gag.  Eggplant.  Though I have to admit, this doesn’t look as bad as some eggplant dishes.  This is the one thing I do not miss at all by not being in a CSA this year.  Strawberries through the entire month of May, yes…eggplant and okra, no.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wendy and The Lost Boys by Julie Salamon TLC Book Tour

I am not into theatre, or plays, and had no idea who Wendy Wasserstein was when I chose to read this book.  That did not stop the book from being an entertaining and engrossing read at all!  As a matter of fact, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am so glad I read it because as the subtitle states, Wendy Wasserstein truly did have an “uncommon life.”

Wendy Wasserstein won a Pulitzer Prize and she was the first woman playwright to win a Tony Award, but what made this book so interesting was her and her life.  She surrounded herself with people, characters really, who were larger than life.  From her family to her friends, she pulled inspiration for her plays, bits of conversations here and there, character traits. It was fascinating to see her weave her personal life with her professional life.  The irony of it was that while she pulled freely from others, in her own life, she kept secrets…her pregnancy and the father of her baby.

This book is so much more than just the story of one woman.  It is the story of a generation of women.  As the jacket states, Wendy was a “daughter of the 1950s, an artist who came of age during the freewheeling 1960s and 1970s, a powerful woman in 1980s New York, and a single mother at the turn of the century.”

As I stated before you don’t have to be into theatre and plays to enjoy this book, it really is an intriguing look at one woman’s life, and if you are into theatres and plays, you have probably already read this! 

You can find the book at Amazon Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wassersteinand find out more information about the author, Julie Salamon at her website Julie Salamon.

To see other reviews of this book, check out the TLC Book Tour

***Disclaimer – I received this book from TLC free to review.  Opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Garden Tuesday - The Happy Edition

We finally got rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  My Rose of Sharon is happy.  Mr. Bunny is happy.  We didn’t lose power and we got a day off of school and it’s been cool enough to wear jeans, I am happy.

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Black Bean Burrito Bake

Every once in awhile I actually remember to eat meatless on Meatless Mondays.  And every once in awhile it’s good!  I admit it, I like meat.  Heck, I love meat.  So, to find  a meatless recipe that I really like is quite the chore.  But here it is folks.  This black bean burrito bake from Cooking Light was so good.  Didn’t miss the meat at all.  A meatless recipe that I actually want to make again.  Plus (and this is a big plus), it was super easy.  The only sub I made on this was to use full fat plain yogurt instead of the reduced fat sour cream.  We don’t do reduced fat around here, we are full fat, full flavor kind of people.  I think what makes this really work is the combination of the chipotle pepper (adds a nice heat) and the fact that some of the beans are pureed (adds creaminess).

Also, in what might be classified as Too Much Information, I served this with brown rice and broccoli, and a fruit salad.  This was a lot of fiber. I quite possibly met my fiber requirements for the week with this one meal.  I’ll leave it at that.

Black Bean Burrito Bake

  • 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (full fat yogurt – whatever floats your boat)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
  • 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup bottled salsa
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove one chile from can. Chop chile. Reserve remaining adobo sauce and chiles for another use. Combine sour cream (or yogurt) and chile in a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes.

Place half of beans in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Add chopped beans, remaining beans, and corn to sour cream mixture.

Spoon 1/2 cup bean mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas; place, seam side down, in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread salsa over tortillas; sprinkle with cheese. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Serves 4

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekend Wine Reviews #75 Jam Jar 2010 Sweet Shiraz

Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz

Cape Classics, Jam Jar, Sweet Shiraz, 2010.  $7.99, Costco.  We say:  we had no idea what we were getting with this wine.  Yes, I know it says Sweet Shiraz, and it’s called Jam Jar.  They aren’t lying.  This is very sweet.  A dessert wine.  If you are looking a really sweet, dessert type wine, give it a try, would probably be really good with some chocolate.  We had it with cheese, crackers, and olives, because apparently we are not that bright.  Buy again:  maybe.

We also would like to take a moment and remember those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those who were left to rebuild theirs.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekend Cat Blogging #327


Contemplating world peace.  And the the new flavor of Friskees.



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Jules and Vincent at Judi’s Mind Over Matter.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Spelt Chicken Salad with Romaine, Olives and Sage

Spelt chicken salad

I love grains.  You know why?  One, they taste good – or at least they taste as good as whatever you put on them.  Two – they fill me up and they don’t have a lot of calories, and thanks to my calorie app on my phone, this is very important.

You all know I buy a rotisserie chicken every week, so every week I find a recipe to use up that leftover rotisserie chicken.  Some are more successful then others.  This one…very successful. 

I totally loved this!  I found it in, Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way by Lorna Sass.  A cookbook, I don’t use nearly enough!  The actual recipe calls for Kamut, but since I had no idea what that was, I used one of it’s suggested substitutions – spelt.  You could also sub, rye or wheat berries.  Also, I didn’t have any radicchio, so I just used more romaine.  

This was the perfect combination of flavors.  The spelt was chewy, the romaine crisp, the olives added just the right tang.  I also subbed rosemary for the sage, because I just felt like it. 

Spelt Chicken Salad with Romaine, Olives and Sage (or Rosemary)

  • 4 cups cooked kamut (or spelt, rye or wheat berries)
  • 2 to 3 cups, diced roasted chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted ripe black olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted Mediterranean-style green olives
  • 5 cups (tightly packed) shredded romaine
  • 1 cup (tightly packed) shredded radicchio
  • 12 to 16 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise (or rosemary)

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

In a large bowl combine your grains with the chicken and olives.

Prepare the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients.

Just before serving, add the lettuce, radicchio, and sage.  Toss with the dressing.  Serve.

Serves 6



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


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

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I am a Girad’s Salad Dressing Epicurean and You CAN WIN SOME!! Giveaway!!

Girard's Salad Dressing

Last year, I was given the opportunity to try some Girard’s Salad Dressing.

 Girard's Salad Dressing

When I went back and found that post to mention it here, I read where I said that I had walked all over the house carrying my dressing, photographing it.

Girard's Salad Dressing

Apparently I haven’t changed much in a year.

Girard's Salad Dressing

But Girard’s has!  Look at these flavors:  Greek Feta, White Balsamic, Old Venice Italian, and Light Champagne!   Seriously, every single one of them – wonderful.  And not only that, but Girard’s has added more elegant fare and entertaining morsels on Girard’s  Everyday Elegance -an exploration of how food can be prepared simply yet extraordinarily every day.

And most of my blog readers know that I am stuff girl.  I love stuff.  The more stuff the better.  I am definitely a “more is more”.  Besides the dressing, they sent me stuff. 

Look at those great bamboo utensils, and I totally love the recipe card holder.  


And even the coolest stainless steel “soap” to remove cooking odors from your hands.  How cool and perfectly does it match my black counter top and stainless soap dispenser?!

So, anyway, now your down here, looking for a recipe using my Girard’s dressing.  Well, guess what?  I am greedy.  I keep thinking about using it as a marinade, but that would use something like a 1/3 cup of it. I can’t bear to part with a 1/3 cup of it.  So, instead, I have salads everyday.  With some fantastic dressing on it.  I add a salad last night using some leftover chicken with the Old Venice Italian.  Fantastic.  Though I am seriously considering using some of Girard’s Greek Feta for Greek Roasted Cauliflower

How about you?  Would you like to be greedy?  You can be!!  Just leave a comment below and I will enter your name to win four bottles of Girard’s dressing!!  You’ll get Girard’s Greek Feta, Old Venice Italian, White Balsamic, and Light Champagne!!  You have a week!  I will announce the winner next Friday!



**Disclaimer  - I was provided these free to review.  My opinions are entirely my own.