Saturday, January 30, 2010

Outrageous Brownies

I had the most intense craving for brownies the other night and knew I had to make Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies. They are a little more work than your standard cocoa powder and chocolate chip brownies but it's so worth it. Crunchy around the edge and oh so gooey and fudgy inside. True bliss with some ice cream or a glass of milk. Try them, I promise you won't be disappointed. Here is the link
On another note, has anyone seen It's Complicated? I've seen it twice now and I love the scene when they make croissants. And, who wouldn't love to own her bakery?!?

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I only needed one of these chile pods...
what I am going to do with the rest?

Last night I made the most delicious soup...Chicken Tortilla Soup. I had to go to a small Mexican market in Oxnard just to find one of the ingredients but it was worth it. It's got great flavor and I love anything that has chips. I topped the soup with sour cream and salsa. Yum! I used a recipe from a Rick Bayless cookbook I got from the library. I'm really looking forward to trying more of his recipes. Here is the link
I was unable to find the epazote sprig, but there are many more markets in Oxnard that may carry it. If you've seen it anywhere, please let me know.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tamale Pie

I have decided I'm not the biggest fan of casseroles. I have the best of intentions when I make them but I usually end up taking a few bites and then decide I don't like it. It must have something to do with way too many ingredients all mashed into one dish. Serve me mashed potatoes, turkey and veggies and I'm happy...turn it into shepherd's thank you. There are a couple exceptions like my grandma's potato and sausage casserole or Paula Dean's baked spaghetti but other than that I'll pass. Unfortunately for me, my husband loves casseroles so I will make them occasionally to please him, hence the tamale pie I made the other night. I'm not going to share the recipe because even he thought there were too many tomatoes and it was a little too liquidy but if you have an exceptional tamale pie recipe or a casserole that's always a hit with your family, please share the recipe with me. I appreciate the convenience of the one dish meal and would really like to have some good recipes for future casserole endeavors.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chicken roasted with red onions, potatoes and rosemary

I checked out the cookbook Pure Simple Cooking by Diana Henry from the library recently and today I finally got around to making something from it. I love the photos in this cookbook and tonight I made chicken roasted with red onions, potatoes and rosemary. It was really easy to make and can I tell you how amazing the house smelled while it was cooking.
To make this recipe you will need:
2 red onions, each cut into 10 wedges (I wasn't very exact about the wedge amount)
1 1/4 lbs new potatoes, unpeeled (I had russets in the pantry so I used those instead)
2 bulbs of garlic, separated into cloves, but not peeled (I thought this was weird, but when you pop the roasted garlic out of the skin it is amazing)
salt and pepper
1/2 C EVOO
2 t balsamic vinegar (I would use a little more of this next time)
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 4-lb roasting chicken cut into 8 pieces, rubbed with sea salt (I also rubbed it with the EVOO)
Preheat oven to 400 deg. Spread the vegetables and garlic in a single layer over the bottom of a huge roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper, pour over the oil and balsamic vinegar, and add the rosemary. Toss the vegetables with your hands and tuck and chicken pieces in among them. Bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are fork-tender.

Chocolate Milkshake & Pedometer

Last night I exchanged belated Christmas gifts with family that we hadn't seen during the holidays and I received a pedometer that was on my Amazon wish list. If you don't have an Amazon wish list, I suggest you create one. It makes gift-giving soooo much easier. Anyway, today after what has seemed like way too many doctor appointments and tests I was told conclusively that I don't have anything scary no cancer no blood diseases no ulcers but an allergy. An allergy to what....I have no idea. That's the next step but for now I'm singing praises to God that I can stop worrying. So, I celebrated with a chocolate milkshake and opened my new pedometer. I intend on walking, running and stair-stepping as long as my stuffy nose, watery eyes and swollen glands will allow.
My milkshake....french vanilla ice cream from Trader Joes (the best vanilla ice cream I've ever had), organic milk and some peppermint chocolate mix that I got with a Starbucks gift card when they had their holiday clearance sale. So So Yummy!
My pedometer...ok I consider myself pretty technically savvy but's like that instructions are written in a foreign language. I will figure it out though, it's pink and too cute not to use. LOL

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Eggs N Things

This morning we woke up late, decided to delay cleaning our messy house and rather than add to the already huge pile of dishes we went to Eggs N Things. Normally, we don't eat there since there is always a line, but I really wanted some of their fresh squeezed orange juice and they serve you a crepe with jam before your meal comes which is too yummy to pass up. I had the special recipe pancakes with a side of bacon and my honey had the eggs and bacon with rye toast. I love rye toast so I may have sneaked a couple bites of his and maybe a couple bites of his hashbrowns too. Isn't that what being married is all have to share, right?

Macaroni and Cheese

Last night...comfort food. I'm a chronic worry-wart. I don't know why, but sometimes I can't seem to stop stressing so I was in need of some major comforting. I've never made homemade macaroni and cheese. I actually adore the boxed kind with the powder cheese mix, but thought I'd branch out and make my own. It was so yummy. I used an online recipe that I halved the ingredients otherwise we would have tons and tons left. Here is the link:
What do you do to help combat worry and stress?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What to make for dinner?

It seems that every night I have the "what do I make for dinner?" dilemma. As this has been a particularly stressful week that question led to some frustration. Enough frustration that I picked up a frozen pizza while I was at Target (I'm anti-frozen dinners) because I was desperate for something quick and I was already there to buy shampoo. Do you ever have this problem? You are on your way home from a long day at work, you're stressed out and the last thing you want to think about is cooking? I have a couple of successful last minute meals and a couple quick fixes to share.

Pork chops, applesauce and mashed potatoes. I cooked the pork chops on the stove with EVOO, salt and pepper. The mashed potatoes are made with milk, sour cream and garlic & wine seasoning they sell at the Melting Pot. I softened the apples in sugar, lemon juice and a little cinnamon. Yum!

My "I'm desperate not to cook tonight" Digornio pizza from Target. It was on sale for $5. Pretty tasty for frozen pizza... this is the supreme garlic bread pizza.

Chicken sausage and white bean soup. This was sooo easy and everything is at Traders Joes. Garlic & herb chicken sausage, white cannellini beans, potatoes, carrots, celery, fresh rosemary, onion and garlic, simmered in chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I also like to add celery seed because it's my favorite seasoning.

This is a cheer up meal for my husband from Yolandas Mexican Restaurant. Allow me to explain. Every Thursday we meet friends for Mexican food at Lupes. Tonight we had to cancel. My husband suffers from sciatica and it really flared up tonight. He couldn't fathom sitting in a hard chair at a restaurant this evening so I brought mexican food home for dinner. Not the same without our friends but it will have to hold us over until next week. Do you know anyone who suffers from sciatica? Any advice on how to deal with it?

P.S. If you are ever at The Melting Pot, pick up a bottle of this. It is good on all savory dishes.
I usually use it to make garlic bread. Yum!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Solvang Trip

If you are ever in Solvang, I highly recommend staying a Hotel Corque. Big flat screen TV, down comforter with soft squishy pillows, rainfall shower and soooo peaceful. A friend treated us to a night at this hotel and it was blissful.
Of course, you can't go to Solvang without visiting one of the many many bakeries. I usually get a french waffle but this time I couldn't resist a slice of tiramisu. So yummy!
Sunday morning we went to the Chumash spa and had massages. bliss. I'm a sucker for casinos but this time I avoided the slots and spent my time in the sauna and quiet room instead. Although, our next trip I'll drop a few bucks in the machine and then head to the spa.
Now back home, listening the rain and eating brie en croute from Trader Joes with Santa Barbara Roasting Company coffee that I snagged from our hotel room. Yum!

Dos Carlitos- Santa Ynez

Tequila and I don't have a great relationship so I had white sangria. Yum!

Steak torta with chimichurri sauce.

This dish was a little odd, it's chile relleno in sauce.
A little too soupy but full of flavor.

My husband an I were lucky enough to spend the night in Solvang on Saturday night...more about the trip later. We had heard rave reviews about a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar in Santa Ynez and since we are both lovers of all things Mexican cuisine, we had to try it. We weren't disappointed. We went at an off hour, around 3:00, so we didn't have any wait but the host recommends reservations for dinner. The atmosphere is really friendly and the chairs are big and comfy. Definitely a great place to relax and enjoy your meal.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Almond Biscotti

The dough was soooo sticky and hard to form.

I had a craving for biscotti and found a really yummy recipe in a cookbook I received for my birthday. The cookbook is Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts. I had a box of cinnamon toffee almonds I got on sale at Starbucks after the holidays and knew they would be a perfect substitute for slivered almonds the recipe calls for.
2 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 1/4 C sugar
1 t baking powder
3 medium eggs
2 egg yolks
1 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract
1 1/4 C plus 1/4 C silvered almonds
The recipe also calls for lemon zest but I didn't think that would work well with the toffee on the almonds.
Preheat oven to 275 deg. Mix flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. In another large bowl mix eggs and egg yolks together. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and almonds to the eggs. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring until just barely blended. Grease a heavy cookie sheet. Using greased hands, form dough into three 4x9 inch rolls two inches thick. Place on cookie sheet several inches apart. Press reserved 1/4 C almonds on top of dough. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly then cut in 1 1/2 inch slices. Bake again for 10-15 minutes. Turn each piece on its side and bake again for 10-15 minutes depending on how crunchy you like your biscotti. I like mine super crunchy.

Baked Ziti

If you are looking for a really easy weeknight meal, and you love pasta like I do...then this is the meal for you. You only need a few ingredients; penne pasta noodles, a jar of marinara sauce, sausage or ground turkey (I usually use the sweet italian chicken sausage from Trader Joes), mozzarella and parmesan cheese. I also add chopped mushrooms if I have any in the fridge. Cook the noodles to al dente. I brown the sausage in my cast iron skillet, add the marinara sauce, then add the cooked noodles, mix it all together top with as much cheese as you like and then put it under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling. And of course, I always have garlic bread with it. Yum!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

BBQ and Rockband

My honey playing the drums in Rockband.

Last night our friends had us over for a BBQ and to play Rockband. I was a little nervous about singing but the game is really fun and after a glass of champagne I didn't care how I sounded. They made BBQ chicken and salad. I brought rice pilaf and beer biscuits. Plus, we had plenty of chips and dip to snack on which is my favorite snack. Yum!
The rice pilaf I made is a recipe I'm trying to recreate from childhood. My dad passed away when I was in middle school and I'll always remember how much I loved his rice pilaf. He was Armenian and I've been searching for the recipe online. I think I got pretty close last night. The noodles I bought were too thin and I didn't brown them long enough in the butter but the flavor was good.
Here is the recipe:
3 C hot chicken stock
1 1/2 C long white grain rice
1 1/2 C uncooked noodles broken into 1-2 inch pieces (I used angel hair pasta)
1/2 C diced onion
1/2 C unsalted butter
salt to taste
Cook the noodles and onion in the butter until noodles are golden brown and onions are tender, be careful not to burn the butter. Add the rice and stir to coat with butter. Add hot chicken stock, bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer, cover with lid until rice is cooked and all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and salt to taste. Yum!
While I was at Trader Joes I picked up a box of Beer Batter Mix and I have to say I was disappointed. The biscuits were plain and really doughy. I won't be buying it again. Paula Dean has a great recipe for Bubba's Beer Biscuits so I'll continue to make those instead.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Blog Alert- Sunny Anderson

To my fellow foodie probably watch the Food Network as I do and tonight I found out that Sunny Anderson has her own blog. Here is the link

Chopped Salad

Do you love my salad forks? Our friends got them for us in Hawaii.

Yes, there are more croutons than lettuce leaves in my bowl of salad.
I LOVE croutons.

Whenever we go to the restaurant Bucca Di Beppo, my hubby and I always order the antipasto chopped salad. I was craving it today so I thought I'd try and make my own version. I chopped up romaine lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, salami, provolone cheese and some green onions. I tossed it with my favorite croutons from Trader Joes and zesty italian dressing. Yum!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Toast to My Sister

My sister used to make grasshopper pie when I was little. It was my very favorite dessert. As an adult I now realize it was probably because there was liquor in the pie. LOL, just kidding I loved the mintyness and the cookie crust. She is a great baker and I've had many cakes, cookies and treats at her house but she doesn't enjoy the cooking process. Making dinner isn't her ideal way to spend an evening.
For New Year's Eve my aunt and uncle surprised us with a visit. This meant we'd be having dinner at my sister's house (she has all the kids) and when I asked what we'd be having, she said "spaghetti." Sure enough, when I got to her house in the evening she had spaghetti sauce simmering in the crockpot, a tossed salad, garlic bread and there was even wine. Yum!
We had a wonderful time with our family for the celebration and we all managed to stay awake to watch the ball drop.
Thank you to my sister for hosting a great night.

Zucchini Carrot Muffins

A fellow blogger posted a twist on a bread recipe by Ina Garten recently and since I had leftover zucchini and carrots last night I thought I'd try my own version. Here is the original recipe
I omitted the dates/liqueur and used 1 C grated carrots and 1 C grated zucchini. I also used 1 C whole wheat flour and 1 C all-purpose flour instead of 2 C of all-purpose. These muffins are moist and have a great orange flavor. Perfect for a quick breakfast this morning.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Andria's Seafood

Cajun Chicken Sandwich with fries. I get tartar sauce on the side for the fries. Yum!

Clam chowder, which my husband sprinkles with hot sauce, pepper and lots of oyster crackers.

One of my favorite weekend eateries is Andria's Seafood in Ventura. It's right on the harbor, very causal and the food is always good. The line may look dauntingly long when you first arrive, but it goes fast. If you've never been I recommend the clam chowder in a bread bowl or the cajun chicken sandwich (grilled). We have friends who swear by the fish & chips, but I find it a little greasy. This is a dog friendly place, so snag a table outside if you plan to bring your puppy along. If you have a little room left after lunch, make sure to stop by Coastal Cone for some ice cream which is especially good since we've been experiencing warm 70 degree weather this winter in southern CA. Now I'm ready for my food coma nap.