Friday, April 30, 2010

Food for Thought March 2

Continued from Wednesday

#186 30-Minute Chicken Under a Brick Here are a few warnings that should come boldly noted at the top of the recipe:

The pan used on top of the chicken (aka the brick) is going to be hot. Very. Very. Hot.

Grease the bottom of the pan you're going to use as the brick otherwise the chicken will stick

No really, that pan is going to be hot!

Now that we have those warnings out of the way, here's how I didn't follow the directions.  Believe it or not I couldn't find bone-in-skin-on chicken at my local grocery store (sometimes I feel like that place is equal to grocery shopping in a developing country- you never know what you're going to get) so I used boneless, skinless breast- better for you that way anyway right?  I forgot the bay leaf mainly because I thought it said basil, so I bought basil.  I omitted the sage, because I don't like sage.  I used citrus grilling seasoning on instead of the Montreal Steak Seasoning she calls for- this was an amazing substitution.  Yum!  I subbed out the radicchio and used endive because I've yet to find radicchio in any of the stores where I shop. And for the "fresh herbs" she calls for, I used parsley and thyme because that's what I had on hand.  And I forgot to serve the crusty bread with it.  And despite the fact that I don't know if I can honestly say that what I made still resembles the original recipe Rachel intended- it was really, really yummy.

#279 Everything-Crusted Chicken Rolls Stuffed with Scallion Cream Cheese I'm going to call this recipe "muscle food" not because it's healthy but because good arm muscles are what you need to make this puppy.  I mean I think I got tennis elbow from pounding the bread crumbs (I used leftover bread pieces I dried in the oven), pounding out the chicken, and beating the cream cheese mixture.  Remember to stretch and have a cool down period when making this- injury prevention is important.  So on this only used 2 TBSP onion flakes, only used 1/2 tsp garlic powder (because that's all I had) and threw in 2 tsp mustard seeds because it seemed like good idea at the time.  This was very good (I tried it both hot and cold), but make sure you don't have any important meeting to go to after eating this because your breath will rat out what you had for lunch.

(mainly because of the lack-o-health factor)

#284 For Neil Diamond: Tangy Cherry Chicken With a name like that, how could I not want to try it!  Yes, it's true, I am a big Neil Diamond fan.  Not in the Saving Silverman sort of way, but in the way that I own a cd (or four) I've seen the Jazz Singer more than once, and LK took me to a Neil Diamond concert back in the early years of marriage (good times!).  So to get myself in the mood to cook #284, I turned up the music and danced around my kitchen while working through the recipe.  My across-the-street-neighbor who likes to stare into my kitchen while he sits on his front porch and smokes (yes, I see you stinky, smokey man) appreciated the entertainment that night I'm sure (I need curtains).  If I was cooking this for LK I would have only used 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, but he was out of town and I was pretty sure the kids wouldn't eat it (in fact, I found out that night that Geo doesn't like cooked fruit of any kind), so I made it as I wished.  I did forget to add the butter in the last step which I bet would have made it even yummier, but it was still good.  And I bet it would have been really good with rice.

#302 Wingless Buffalo Chicken Rolls with Blue Cheese Dip I made this the night my friend Karyn and her two girls came over for dinner while LK was out of town.  I didn't realize the chicken was suppose to be store-bought ground chicken and I don't know any place that actually sells ground chicken if I had read it right, so I hastefully tried to ground my own from the boneless-skinless breasts I had on hand.  All but blowing the motor on my blender while trying to ground the chicken breasts was yet another reminder that I need a food processor.  Nothing says welcome to my house like the smell of a blown out motor!  Oh and in case you're wondering, ground chicken is possibly the most digusting thing I've seen- and I have boys so I speak as one who knows.  I only used 1 TBSP of hot sauce for the chicken mixture because I was serving it to the kids too and I knew the adults could always add more as they wished.  I also couldn't find the phyllo dough so I used ready-made refrigerator pie crust which was pretty good.  I also added 1/8 tsp pepper and 1/4 tsp of sea salt to the dipping sauce because it seemed a little tasteless.  Overall, if you have a Jersey Mike's in your area, their buffalo chicken wrap beats the recipe by far.  If you don't, this isn't a bad substitute.

#324 Pork Loin Chops with Golden Delicious Apples and Onions on Polenta with Honey
I used rum extract instead of brandy but I don't think the extract added anything amazing to the recipe so the next time I'd probably leave it out.  The polenta was really good but not good reheated.  But fresh- man! I could eat that stuff all day!

Happy eating,

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Food for thought... but March will have to wait

Okay, I know, I was suppose to finish my food for thought list from March and I will tomorrow.  But today doesn't feel like a real food for thought type day.  Today feels like a random thoughts Thursday sort of a day.  I've never participated in random Thursdays but here it goes.

Today was one of those days when at the end I questioned why I do it.  Now, please don't feel sorry for me or think life is falling  a part.  Today was an eye-ball-swelling-kind-of-work-day.  The kind of day the failed to go according to schedule somewhere around 8:15AM.  So now I'm at the end of it with only the energy to stare out my new living room window and listen to the Oklahoma wind blow the backyard trees around-- and think how I didn't manage to get out there today and fix the pergola lights.

I was blessed to be able to go to Muffins with Mom at Geo's school today.  He was so excited to show me the chickens they've had hatching in his class.  He's so big in so many ways these days, and yet he reached for my hand as we were walking into school which reminds me he's still little.

I thought about Simon as I walked past the other first grade classroom this morning.  I wondered who was at Muffins with Mom with him today.  I wondered if this would be hard few weeks for him with the first Mother's day since he mom passed away coming up soon.  I saw Simon's dad at gymnastics the other day.  I was kind of in my own little world and just smiled and said how are you? In a casual flippant way that most parents at gymnastics conversations go-  I wanted to stop, rewind, stop, record that moment if I could have.

Tomorrow we're going to a reception to meet the President Kagame.  I've told the boys this is a very special night.  "Well then," Geo said, "I think we should take a bath when we come home from school so we can be as handsome as possible."

I found out today I will likely have a guitar recital- me and all the 8 year old boys my guitar teacher has on his schedule.  Did I mention a friend of Geo's said he was starting a band?  Geo was kind enough to volunteer my new skills for the group.  I saved the note so when he's a punk teenager I can remind him that at one point he thought I was cool.

I'm feeling the need to retry my cupcakes.  Perhaps for the ANZAC Day (observed) party on Saturday.

I can hear LK in the kitchen turning on the kettle which can mean only one thing- it's hot drink time.  A long standing pre-bed tradition LK and I have had since the early days of ISH's life.

Here's to hoping tomorrow's goals and tomorrow's realities are better in line,

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Food for thought March

I know, I know, it's almost May.  But this was one of those things that didn't get done before I left town so it's just getting done now.  So humor me here and let's pretend it's the end of March, okay?  For those just joining in, since January I've been cooking meals from Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats cookbook and as of February, LK has added his turtle rating to the list (Scale of 1 to 5 turtle shells and half shells are not possible).

#5 Mac-n-Smoked Gouda with Cauliflower This one was tough. I made #4 way back in January (with "modifications" all my own) and maybe it's that my high society cheese palette isn't that refined or that when you add it all together the Gouda-ness is mellowed to is-there-a-difference-from-number-four-here flavor, but I couldn't really tell the difference with Gouda in it than with Cheddar (my apologies if you're offended).  The good part about this one though was that ISH won't eat anything green (oh how I try) so since the cauliflower camouflaged in better than broccoli the kid didn't even realize it was mildly good for him.

#38 Grilled Flank Steak Sandwich with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette-Dressed Arugula and Pears March was a busy month for us so it seemed like we didn't have as many people over for dinner as we'd been able to do the past two months, but the night I made this I was really wanting to have some company with us for dinner to celebrate the home remodel coming closer to an end and thus having moved the boys toys out of our bedroom. So I posted on facebook that the first person to respond was invited for dinner.  David and Lisa took us up on the offer-- well I say "us", I didn't actually tell LK what I had posted until he come home from work and I greeted him with "guess who's coming to dinner?!" But really, after 8.5 years of marriage my random spontaneity could almost be considered expected.  It was great to hang out with these life-long friends (David and I use to think we were cousins!) and we all agreed dinner was a great mix of tastes.  Lisa even said, as she reached the end of her sandwich, how sad she was that she was finished.  But - I can't do seem to do it by the book, so here's the modifications- I was too busy talking with Lisa, catching up on work, and life and kids, and I accidently added Parmigiano-Reggiano to mix of cheese because that's what #37, the master recipe, called for.  But everyone said that added another good layer of flavor.  I also used flat iron steak because I couldn't find flank, I used white wine and not white wine vinegar, and used filone bread loaves because I couldn't find kaiser rolls.

#60 Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops with Arugula-Basil Rice Pilaf I made this the evening my MIL happened to come by and spend some time with boys so I invited her to stay and eat with us.  Remember how I told you about poor LK's British palette?  Well he comes by it naturally because she, my MIL, kept going on about how spicy it was. Mental note to not serve her the #99 soup.  So, as is my MO, I miss read rice pilaf and stopped at rice.  So I had to make up my own rice pilaf recipe, which was pretty good but did not include the arugula- which I think would have given it more substance.  Instead of fresh rosemary I used 1/2 tsp of dried and I think I've become a fresh rosemary snob because I could really tell a difference.  I used 5 instead of 3 cloves are garlic because they were small and I like garlic and gave the honey a good eyeballing instead of measuring it because I hate trying to dig out the honey from the spoon I used to measure.  The sauce was really good, but man did it smoke up the kitchen (also an MO of mine when it comes to cooking).

The Rice "Pilaf" recipe:
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp butter
1 cup instant brown rice
1 cup water
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried onions

Put brown rice in microwave safe bowl, add other ingredients, cover and cook according to rice package instructions. Eat.

#157 Warm Tangerine and Grilled Chicken Salad served on Grilled Garlic Crisps  I'll be honest.  Anise is a bad idea.  Now, if you're following along at home you'll notice the recipe doesn't call for anise. True.  But it does call for fennel bulb and I couldn't find that (wie immer!) but I found a site that said anise seed with some endive can mimic the taste.  Well if that's the taste- I don't want to mimic it ever again. Bluh!  LK, on the other hand, seemed to like it pretty well and minus the fennel taste it would be a great summer meal.

#161 Tex-Mex Grilled Chicken Caesar I made this for LK and me to eat on during the week at lunch. I had the salad greens washed and chopped, the meat and croutons stored in separate containers, and the dressing made up and at lunch we'd assemble our yummy little treat.  And the dressing just got better as the week went on and all the parts to mix together even more. Hmmm thinking back on this, I think I might need to make it again soon. Very good.  When making it, I used artesian chibata bread instead of sourdough because that's what the store had and omitted the avocado because they cost more than I wanted to spend and I knew it wouldn't keep through the week.  I doubled the anchovies since the package had more in it than called for so they were there, just looking at me, wanting to be eaten, and roughly doubled the EVOO in the dressing to give the fishes room to swim.  And I added a big handful of cilantro.

More to come tomorrow,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

After Cleaning

9 times out 10 I'll vacuum the floor and then make a mess by cutting mine, the dog's, or the boys hair and then look at my mess and wonder why I didn't bother doing that before I vacuumed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Like Your Smile

This week's theme for I heart faces, is Smiles.  My entry is the smile of my youngest, ISH, taken while at the beach in South Padre Island.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Eyes Have It

Oh this picture cracks me up too much not to submit it for Mandy's eye-themed photo challenge.

Taken in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

SoCoS: Boysenberry

It's back! SoCoS!  I'm about to go hit the long list to-dos that piled up while I was away.  So this week's theme is Boysenberry.  Ready and go:

I prefer boysenberry more than any ordinary fan.... Punky's Dilemma.  My dad use to play that especially for me on the guitar.  There is very little in this world as comforting as my dad on guitar.  It's a sign that I'm home.  He gave me his old guitar to learn on.  Punky's Dilemma is on the list to learn. Hit a road block
I had boysenberry filling in my wedding cake made by the lovely and talented Susan and Nanny Louise.  Seven tiers, each with different filling between the two layers.  Boysenberry was the special one for me.
I'm also a fan of lemon.  Dr_EAM told me on our trip that he doesn't like lemon.  Not even in water! How are we related?!  He is my brother by the way.  In case you were one of those wondering why I was globetrotting with a man other than my husband.  B-R-O-T-H-E-R.  No scandals please.
Dr_EAM and his beautiful wife sent me boysenberry jam for my birthday once. Yummy.

Now it's your turn. Unlike previous weeks, this week I'd like to see what you have to say about boysenberries.  So, if you'd like to participate in a little SoCoS action here are your guidelines: Write for 3:37 without stopping. If you can't think of what to write, write "hit a road block" over and over again until something comes to mind. When you're done- post a link to your SoCoS writing as a comment to this post.

Looking forward to see what you all have to say.

Happy SoCoS,

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pulling the plug?

The other night LK mentioned that with all we're involved in we've been watching much less TV (this is not a bad thing) and that maybe it was time to pull the cable plug. Our at home lives use to be filled with CNN at lunch and CSI/Numbers/______ fill in the blank of some other random show in the evenings.  And now with guitar, silks, reading, games nights, etc, maybe we didn't need the expense of something we're really not using.

Strangely, my response was that we shouldn't.  That we might miss something.  That we might want to watch a movie and not be able to see what's on the 750+ channels available to us.

But then LK left town for 5 days and I turned the TV on for company.  The result?

My to-do list didn't turn into done and my concentration lacked it's focus as I found myself flipping through channels convinced there was something worth watching out there.

So, perhaps this is the beginning of us becoming an out-of-media's-touch home.  And strangely enough, I'm okay with that.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Shower Theory

If I do not have time to iron or steam press the shirt I would like to wear today, I propose I can hang said shirt at the far side of my shower while washing and shirt will be steamed and wearable by the end of the shower.

Hypothesis disproved, said shirt now wrinkled and wet.