Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Tale of Hope After Turkey Gone Bad...What's Yours?

I had a bad experience with turkey. I love to eat turkey, but cooking it has been another story. Far from love, more like dread.

I will give you the history that turkey and I have. It's a short one. Two years ago, after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas, I decided I had not had my fill of turkey. My mom was staying with us and we tend to get into shenanigans together every time she visits. This time is happened to be of the poultry persuasion.

I had a received a free turkey at the grocery. It was some sort of meal-deal thing. Buy a ham, get a free turkey. Well, let me tell you, I now know why it was free. So we defrost the turkey like you should. The whole day I was dreaming of succulent turkey with stuffing, cranberries- the whole nine yards. There was a lot riding on that turkey, but evidently not enough.

Mom tells me that she's got this amazing, fool-proof recipe for turkey. She had it at friend's house but she had to call that friend to get the name of the lady to made the turkey so she could get the recipe. For some reason that didn't sound solid to me, so I started searching on-line for how to cook a turkey. I had never made one and was really pumped to do it. Well, my mom finally got her recipe. She was positive that it was a winner. So we tried it. There was something about 425 degrees, some aluminum foil and it being a luscious golden brown when it was done. What we saw as we lifted the shiny silver tent, was none other than the greyest, ugliest, saddest, rubbery steamed bird you've every seen. I mean it was nauseating. We took one look at each other and busted out laughing.

Regardless of it's appearance, we brought the turkey to the table and started serving it up. We give my husband the leg. He takes one bite and, well, he couldn't, it snapped back like a rubber band. Bless his heart. Mom and I were laughing so hard at this point I think we were snorting. The kids looked bewildered. No one ate it. So that's when the "Phoenix" went down into the ashes, as it were.

But yesterday was it's revival! I have been planning for months now, how do I make a good turkey? I was just as excited as I was scared. I was especially scared because now I had a $15 dollar, bone-in turkey breast staring back at me, laughing. I know she was laughing.

I got this idea to rub under the skin my favorite curry paste. I am new to Indian food. I've just recently really started to enjoy it. So I thought it would be a great way to flavor this bird. I take the entire contents of the packet and mix it will some olive oil.  I made a pocket under the skin and started grabbing handfuls of the curry paste and trying to spread it around. The most bizarre thing happened. It was sticking to my hands and not the bird. Before I know it, I'm wrestling with the birdy breast, half laughing, half talking to it. I feel like it knows. It knows I'm scared I will ruin it and the Phoenix will stay in the ashes for good. I press on, giggling every so often that my fingers now look like mini curry clubs. Finally I figure out a method that works: shove the curry under the skin and work it around by massaging it around on the outside of the skin.

I stared at the turkey, feeling quite like the new champion. I needed some where to perch my leg and then lift my arms in victory. Instead I threw it in the oven at 325 degrees and prayed.

The ending to this story is that my husband said it was the BEST turkey he's ever had. Sammy just doesn't make statements like that very often. I was flabbergasted. YES! I did it! The "Phoenix" arose from our plates to claim its rightful place in the category of "Best Ever". I must say it was delicious. Juicy, flavorful, soft and tender.

Do you have a victorious or just plain bad turkey story? I would LOVE to hear it. Or, tell me what you think is  the best way to make a turkey. I'm all ears!

Curry Crusted Turkey Breast with Yogurt Sauce

Prep time: 10 min.
Bake time: approx. 65-70 min.
Oven temp: 325 degrees
Serves: 4-6

1 pkg. curry paste, 3.5 oz. (my favorite is Taste of India, Butter Curry)
1 bone-in turkey breast, 2-3 lbs.
1 tbls olive oil

Mix curry and oil together. Rub under skin. Sear skin side down in a skillet over med.-high heat until nicely browned. Place skin side up on roasting pan and bake until thermometer says 160 degrees. I do not follow the sites that say 175 degrees, it would be a charcoal briquette!

Let the turkey rest. Seriously, for 10 min. I cut into it a bit to early and the juices were gushing out. So it would have been even better if I waited the whole 10 min. Do as I say, not as I do.

Yogurt Sauce

Prep time: 10 min.
Frig time: 15 min.
Serves: 6

2 c. of strained yogurt or Greek yogurt
2 small Persian, English or Kirby cucumbers, small dice
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Big handful of fresh dill
Salt and pepper

Disclaimer: Now, I do not claim to be an expert on international cuisine. I know Indian food is often served with a raita and the Greeks love their tzatziki. My husband's family eats grape leaves with a similar sauce but it's made with dried mint instead of dill and tons of garlic. This is how I make it for our family. We like this version the best. No belching of garlic fumes and it's extremely refreshing with the spice of the curry.

Mix all ingredients together. Adjust to your tastes. It's so delish.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Aww, Shucks! Seared Salmon Over Fresh Corn Salad

As a continuation from yesterday's blog, I will be showcasing the goods from Whole Foods in these recipes- that sounded sorta snobbish and weird. I'm totally not snobbish about it. Use what you like dear ones, while I drink my Cristal in the comfort of my lush surroundings...oh, wait. (squealing tires) Sorry, minor lapse in judgement. Rather, I am flanked by my 3 year old son and daughter in the not-so-over sized recliner, trying to console my teething baby boy, while tiny, needle-like elbows jab me in the most unwelcome places. There is no Cristal, no comfortable seating, but lots of love...and repetitive questions.

Anyways, I got my kids to work in the kitchen...again. They don't see it as work. Well, maybe Lily. She has limited patience for chopping vegetables so I moved her over to shucking corn. That got her interest. Anything involving shredding or tearing is her kind of cooking. She appears to be using the corn as a baseball bat? All I know is that she enjoyed picking off all the strands of corn silk, sniffing the corn and then asking if she can eat it. Isaiah got into it as well. He was using his muscles ("just like Barney does"-it's the episode on fitness...okay, I have to say, lately, anything you say, Isaiah responds with the previous comment. So you could say, "wipe your face" or "put your cup in the sink" and the same response would ensue.) to tear off the corn husks, but in a real tough guy way. He even had his muscle shirt on. I love my kids.

What makes this funnier is the fact that my children are wearing the crowns they got from none other than Burger King. You may be thinking, is Burger King now serving organic foods? Ah, no. Yes, I do occasionally feed my children trash. Even more reason to eat organic the rest of the time. I never claimed to be a purist. Sometimes the cure for my PMS is a Whopper- hold the tomatoes.

So we whipped up a little fresh corn salad. I debated between making creamed corn or this, but I chose the fresh preparation because the corn was insanely sweet and crunchy, I mean, why would I alter it in any way? We tossed in the veggies, made a quick vinaigrette and done!

I simply seared the salmon in a pan with olive oil. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, rosemary and shhhhh...a pinch of sugar. It's something my mom does and it makes it so brown and caramelized on the outside, who could resist? (That was pretty much the recipe for the salmon. I don't need to write it out for you, do I? You're smart people. Just make sure your pan is super hot and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side.)

Fresh Corn Salad

Prep time: 15 min.
Serves: 4

2 ears fresh corn
1 small carrot, grated
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 of large tomato, cubed
approx. 1/3 c. cubed cucumber
1/2 Hungarian hot wax pepper, minced (jalapeno would be good too)
3 tbls. rice wine vinegar
1 tbls. olive oil
8-9 basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 tbls. fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the corn off the cob, toss with all the other ingredients. Notice my ratio for a vinaigrette is backwards, I did that on purpose. Let fattening (gotta make up for that BK snafu), more flavor, but do it how you like. Let it set in the frig 15 min. for best flavor and forget about left overs...if your hubs or boyfriend is like mine, it will be eaten out of the Tupperware container before you can even think about having it for lunch the next day. Cheers!

P.S. I am lovin' all the comments on the last post! You guys have some great ideas and I love hearing your viewpoints!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Organic Challenge: What's Your View?

I set up a challenge for myself this weekend. I shopped at Whole Foods instead of my regular big, Texas grocery. My challenge was to see if I could stay within the budget and buy nearly everything organic. I was a little leery. Every time I've been to Whole Foods, I've been blown away by the prices and not in a good way.

My biggest reason for doing this is because of my kids. Knowing what I know about meats particularly, has made me want to make the change from conventional to organic. Hormones, steroids, anti-biotics, pesticides in the animal's food, poor living conditions etc. just doesn't sound tasty to me.

So here we were, the entire crew. My husband starts out pushing the wonky "car" cart, which I told my kids that we were NOT using, until I got to the door of the store and saw they had a less wonky version of what I was used to and then I said "okay". Oh how their little faces lit up. So easy to please at this age.

I'm in the hyper-mommy mode. Large cup of coffee, minimal breakfast, on a time crunch (my in-laws will be at the house at noon with lunch) and trying to wheel this ridiculously large cart around in a unfamiliar territory. I don't know where anything is. I'm trying to figure out which vegetables are organic and which are not. Flabbergasted by the price on the bell peppers. We mow through 3 a week, just snacking on them. Here I was looking a the price of $4.99 per lb and not even organic! Whoa. Okay. But then I saw the variety of organic potatoes, reasonably priced and I was okay.

It was a mixture of highs and lows. Re-adjusting my mental shopping calculator. I realized it's going to take some time to get used to this. I told myself, it's all worth it. If we end up eating less meat and more vegetable main dishes, it's okay. If we have to be less wasteful, that's probably a good idea. I will tell you this much. Because we paid $13.99 per lb. for salmon, free of all the bad stuff, you better believe I will treat it with the utmost care and make sure every bite is eaten. The turkey breast I got, will be used for dinner one night and sandwiches another.

Along with meats, dairy was also a big deal. I want my kiddos to have organic milk, or in Lily's case, organic soy milk. It's definitely more. But what I've done is cut back to where the kids have milk in the morning and water the rest of the day. My pediatrician told me to cut back on the milk, because I was giving it to them every meal. That's how I grew up. We don't drink juice at home, I think it's pointless. And when we go out to eat, getting apple juice is a big treat.

I'm making the mad dash through the store, crumpled list in one hand, fending off my baby boy from trying to steal it with the other, while telling the two "drivers" in the front to stop hitting each other. We finally make it to the freezer section (que angelic music) where they have a play area for tiny tots. So I drop off my husband and the three year olds to go and have fun, while Wil and I go to tackle the rest of the list. My cart is sixty pounds lighter and a bit quieter too! That play area alone has me coming back.

I know I looked like a tourist in the land of organic shopping. A very sweet employee walks up to me and asks if I need help. I tell him this is my maiden voyage here at Whole Foods. He asks if I got a flyer with coupons. I think I squealed with surprise and delight that they would have coupons! Seeing I was pushing the wonkster cart, he ran and got me one. I'm now moving at the speed of light. Rummaging through the coupon flyer looking for anything relevant. I see a couple for cereal. That's good, we eat tons of it. These coupons were substantial. Dollar coupons. I don't think I saw any for less than that. Score!

Side note: If I had the time, I would have spent hours just in the cheese section. Cheese, glorious cheese! Magnificent. Overwhelming. I grab some fresh mozzarella and tear myself away.

I finish up the trip by having a sample of God-knows-what, some energy, green drink that tasted good. Chatted with the lady giving out the samples for a moment. I must always chat with someone at the grocery. I can't help myself. I love talking to people.

I cut back through to pick up the rest of my family at the play area. The kids had so much fun. While other kids go to the pool this summer, we will be hanging out at the Whole Food freezer section play area.

Duh-duh-DUH! (that was supposed to be dramatic organ music) We roll up to the check out. I had been lazily adding up all the stuff in the cart to stay within budget. I know I missed some stuff but I was hoping for the best. After it was all rung up, after coupons (I saved $3.00 on stuff I was going to buy anyways), it was just a few dollars over. I was very impressed. The only thing now is, did we get enough food to last the week? Hmm. I will let you know. I think we can do it. I want to make this work. I want the best for my family.

Overall, my experience was very good. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable.  I love that there are butchers and fishmongers. They know everything about their product. I peppered them with so many questions it made their heads spin, but heck! I'm paying top dollar. I want to know what I am paying for. They didn't miss a beat. I will be going back this Saturday for sure.

So, that my foodie friends, is the "haps on the craps" as my hubs would say. What has been your experience with the organic thing? Or do you think it's a bunch of hot air? Either way, let me know what you think. I would love to hear your ideas.

Friday, June 25, 2010

So Slaw Me! Asian Broccoli Slaw

I'm giving you this slaw recipe on Friday, so you can make it this weekend. Trust me, you will want to. If you don't like raw broccoli, or broccoli at all, just hang with me for a moment. I'm pretty sure you will change  your mind about broccoli.

I'm am not a big raw broccoli fan. I adore it cooked, but something about it raw just...ick. But this salad, oh, it is beyond good. It draws me in with it's crunchiness, sweet and salty dressing, and for those who like it, a nice kick of heat.

Originally, I got this recipe from a Martha Stewart magazine, but over time I have switched it up so much that it's now my own creation. The basic idea of slaw is nothing new, even Asian style slaws are not new, but this one is so sweet and snappy, you feel like your eating it for the first time with every bite.

What's even more appealing is that it's easy. No shredding cabbage or grating carrots. Get yourself a bag of the broccoli slaw, (you can find it in the refrigerated produce section), slice some veg, make your dressing, toss and you're done! Add sliced grilled chicken on top and you've got yourself a meal! Great for these hot summer nights.

Enjoy your weekend, Foodies.

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Prep time:15 min
Cook time: 0 min.
Serves: 4


1 tbls. chopped ginger
1 chopped green onion
1/4 c. plus 1 tbls. peanut butter
1/2 c. rice wine vinegar
3 tbls. soy sauce
3 tbls. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. canola oil


1 bag broccoli slaw
1 green onion, sliced on bias
4-5 large radishes, sliced thinly in half-moon shapes
1 Kirby or Persian cucumber, sliced thinly in half-moon shapes
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1/2 c. peanuts, crushed

For the dressing, simply blend all ingredients together in a blender, until it's very smooth. Set aside.

Mix together all slaw ingredients, except for peanuts. I save those for right before I serve it, because I like the peanuts to be crunchy, not soggy.

Toss dressing with slaw right before serving. Top with peanuts and if you like, a few slices of jalapeno.Try it out and let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rose Water Yogurt with Black Cherry Syrup and Spiced Almonds

I seem to get the best ideas early in the morning, when my mind is half awake and I have the most things to remember...just see Morning Buzz Smoothie. It's really rather inconvenient. But I know if I do not attack the inspiration at that moment it will most certainly land as a scratchy scribble on a scrap of envelope, or even worse, one of my children's thoughtfully drawn pieces of artwork (cringe! yes, I have done that, not proud of it, just sayin') and never come to fruition. So, I pressed on, amidst the chaos and came up with this delightful little treat.

I don't quite know whether I should classify it as a dessert or snack. Maybe both. It is sweet, that's for sure, but yogurt always equals "snack" to me. Choose what you like. I'll leave it up to you.

I strained the yogurt the night before, not knowing what it would end up in, in the morning. I love strained yogurt. It's a cheap way of having Greek yogurt. It's so thick and luxurious, even if it's low-fat, that it seems like your eating something bad, so that's always a good thing.

I love my husband's family...a lot. But it may be possible that I love their food a tiny bit more. It is so good. You see, I grew up in the heart of the Midwest. Meat and taters, bread, gravy and something they called a salad, which was no more than some iceberg lettuce with slices of lonely, pink-ish, hot house tomatoes on top. Don't get me wrong, my mom was an excellent cook, my point is that the food I grew up with and my hubs grew up with are literally from two different worlds. He grew up eating tabbouleh, hummus and baba ganoush, while I scarfed down meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. I had a lot to learn when I came into his family. And I'm not just talking about every one's names.

I fell in love with exotic flavors. One being, rosewater. Well, I certainly didn't fall in love with it right away. I  hated it at first, along with grape leaves and lamb. I'm still working on a relationship with the lamb. But the more family gatherings I attended, the more I tasted. The more I tasted and fell in love with those who prepared it, the more I fell in love with the food. Seeing the love behind it all made it easier for me to find room on my stingy palate for these new found flavors. Rose water is now among one of my favorite flavors.

So I thought this morning, what could I add to this yogurt that would be a surprising element and meld well with the fruit I had laying around? There was a sad-looking bowl of cherries staring at me from the corner of my counter tops, so I guessed they would be going in. Okay, fine, what else do I have? I scrounged around in the pantry hoping to find walnuts but all I found was a half a bag of whole almonds. Not bad. I decided these would play the role of crunch-factor. There must always be a crunch-factor.

I will quit the rambling and give you the recipe. It turned out far better than I expected. Oh, and about the almonds, the recipe makes more than what you will use on the yogurt, but make the whole recipe anyways because I couldn't stop snacking on them.

Rose Water Yogurt with Black Cherry Syrup and Spiced Almonds

Prep time: 10 minutes Bake time: 20 minutes Oven temp: 350 degrees
Serves: 4 small servings or 2 big ones

Rose water Yogurt

32 oz. plain, low-fat yogurt, strained
1/2 tsp. rose water (you can find this at Middle Eastern stores)
1 tbls. honey

Set a mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or paper towel over a larger bowl to catch the liquid. Pour in yogurt. Fold over cheese cloth over the top of the yogurt. Let it set in frig overnight.  Discard liquid and dump out thicken yogurt into a fresh bowl. Add rose water and honey, mix. Set aside.

Spiced Almonds

1 c. whole, raw almonds
1 tbs. honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch cloves
4-5 cranks of the pepper mill

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Pour honey over almonds and mix. Mix together all spices and salt, then sprinkle over almonds. Mix to coat. Pour onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 min. give a stir with a spatula and bake 10 min. more, until almonds are nice an fragrant. Set aside to cool completely.

Black Cherry Syrup

2 c. fresh pitted black cherries (Bing cherries)
1/2 c. sugar

Place both ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan over med. heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. As the juices come out of the fruit and mix with the sugar it will make a syrup. This takes about 10- 15 min. As I was in a hurry, I placed the cherry syrup in an ice bath to chill. It took only 10 min.

Arrange the yogurt, almonds and cherries however you like. I tried several different ways. A parfait looks beautiful, layering the cherries between the yogurt with the almonds on top. I thought though, the yogurt in the middle with the cherry syrup around and topped off with the almonds looked the nicest and I was able to control the syrup to yogurt ratio in each bite I took. Delish!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Small Dough-nation

I'm not asking for donations, but I am offering one to you in the form of pizza dough. The only thing small about this dough is the ingredient list and the difficulty factor. It serves up big-time in the delish department. I feel every cook should have a good pizza dough recipe blessing their kitchen with a base on which to create endless masterpieces.

I've been fascinated with pizza since...forever. It's easily on the top 5 of my fav foods. Trips to Napoli only reinforced the love. It's embarrassing to divulged the amount of pizza I could eat at a I won't. I think what draws me in is the crust. I adore food with crunch. If the crust is crunchy, it may be possible to toss anything on top of it and I would eat it, just to get to the crust. Okay, maybe not anything. My husband would be tossing anchovies, raw oysters and seaweed on there...things he always tries to get me to eat, because he loves them so.

Oh, and a note on instant yeast. If you have not used it...try it. It's amazing. I love it because I don't have to let it proof in the sugar and water until it's puffy. Nope, just toss it into the flour with everything else. It's cheap at your local wholesale club and it keeps forever in the frig. Just sayin'.

Pizza Dough

Prep time: 10 minutes plus 45 minutes to rise, plus 15 minutes to rest (for the dough, not you:)
Makes: 2 pizzas

2 c. flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tbls. olive oil
2 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 c. warm water (110 degrees)

Dump all ingredients into your stand mixer with dough hook attachment, turn to medium speed and let it rip! If the dough looks a little dry, add a tsp. water. If it looks wet, add a bit of flour.

When it pulls together in a ball, that is when you start the timer for the 5 minutes of kneading. Just let the mixer do the job for you. You can also do this by hand.

After the five minutes, you should have a soft, elastic dough, the expression, "soft as a baby's bottom" would be appropriate here, and in most cases the bowl will be "clean" as in all the dough pulled away from the sides.

Pour in a tsp. of olive oil into your bowl. Coat the dough ball in the oil, this prevents it from drying out.

Cover the bowl with a dish towel and set in a warm place to rise. I happened to put mine outside because it was warm and toasty, much warmer than my air conditioned would have taken forever! So after rising in a warm place for 45 minutes (it should double in size), punch it down and divide into two balls. Let them rest for 15 minutes more. Don't skip this part, trust me. I've gotten antsy pants around this time, skipped this part and it was like trying to roll out an inflatable inter tube. (Okay, weird analogy, just roll with it) It was snapping back, not obeying my rolling pin and just overall difficult to work with. SO, let it rest that 15 min.

Then you're ready to make some pizza! Ciao! P.s. stay tuned for my next video, I will be making pizzas with my me you'll want to watch that one.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ice Cream of the Basil-Lime Persuasion

I found myself being an officiator of a marriage this weekend. No, not a madly in love couple, well, not yet anyways. The wheels in my head were turning. How could I make a refreshing ice cream that captured the flavors of summer in a single bite? First thought, basil. Second thought, lime. Yes, that's it. I will arrange their marriage in the bowl of my ice cream freezer. I will make them love each other. And I did. They are quite the happy couple as I am the happy recipient of their love child they made together...Basil Lime Ice Cream.

I was weirdly nervous about the whole thing really. I had a fear that the ice cream would turn an distasteful brown color, like the color of oxidized basil. Or that it would cause an acrid taste, far from it's delightfully anise/grassy flavor. I wasn't scared so much of the lime but the basil had me worried.

With the "what the hell" attitude of Julia Child, I tossed the torn, bruised basil leaves, stems and all, into the pot of freshly made creme anglaise or ice cream base, to let it steep. Then went the lime zest. Oh, the aromas that flowed. Memories that have been long forgotten or maybe memories yet to come where triggered. They were so faint I couldn't remember them in their entirety. With a frustrated brain, I continued to inhale the bevy of smells wafting off of the surface of the pre-ice cream. Though I couldn't remember the memories, I didn't care, for I was intoxicated.

After this steeped and chilled, I removed the basil and lime zest by straining it. I tasted it. It was wondrous good. But I felt it needed more punch. I wanted to be lifted off my chair by the burst of summerliciousness. So I grated another lime and minced up basil into tiny little specks and tossed them into the churning mix. For twenty-five minutes I waited. I waited to partake of this marriage of flavors. In my anxiousness, I tried to taste it will it was still churning, not a good idea. Finally I lifted the semi-frozen, summer infused, ice cream to my lips. Refreshing would be the first impression. Secondly, the glee that arises in me every time I taste basil, then I am hit with the citrus notes of the lime, which are always welcomed in my mouth. I swore I tasted coconut, though there was none of that in there. I wonder if my brain was saying...that's the natural progression here, basil, lime, coconut. Like some sort of Thai wonderland. I gave some to my husband, he tasted cinnamon. It's very interesting because the basil almost took on a new personality. A personality I much enjoyed.

So without further adieu, here's the recipe for the Basil Lime Ice Cream. I hope you enjoy it's complexities as much as I did. Oh, and for the record, it didn't turn a yucky brown color like I feared it would. As you can see, it's a gorgeous, light green.

Basil Lime Ice Cream

prep time: 10 minutes  cook time: 15 minutes  freezing time: 25 minutes plus additional 2 hrs. serves: 4

1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 c. milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
1 large handful of fresh basil, torn and bruised, plus an additional tbls. minced fresh basil
zest of 2 limes

Combine cream and milk over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Cook until it almost boils, 5-8 minutes. Reduce to low.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Beat until a light yellow and sorta fluffy. Add 4-5 tbls. of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, slowly. As you add each tbls. constantly whisk, so that the eggs do not curdle. Then gradually pour the egg mixture into the pot of milk. Stir constantly. Cook for another 3-4 minutes until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. This is when I add the zest of ONE lime and the bruised and torn basil leaves. Reserve the other lime zest and minced basil for later. It will steep as the mixture cools. Let it cool completely.

If you're in a hurry, like I usually am, just chill down the base in a water bath. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set a smaller bowl, containing the ice cream base, into the ice water. Make sure none of the water makes it's way into your ice cream. Stir occasionally until it's cool, about 30 minutes. Alternately, you could chill this mix in the frig overnight, just strain out the basil and lime before you do.

When it's cool, strain out the basil and lime with a fine mesh strainer. Pour into your ice cream mixer and following your particular ice cream maker's instruction, start freezing your ice cream. Half way through add the minced basil and zest of the other lime. It took mine about 25 minutes to get semi-frozen. Transfer to a container and freeze another 2 hours in the freezer.

This would be delish with some fresh strawberries on top, but honestly, it's so good by itself it doesn't need embellishment. End a perfect evening meal with the perfect summer treat. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tabouli for One?

Okay, so sometimes I make foods that I don't necessarily like. Tabouli is one of them, or tabbouleh, however you like to spell it. It's my hub's favorite salad. He grew up on it. It's quite possible his mom swapped out tabouli for formula when he was a baby. I have also heard stories of him eating an entire steak by the time he was one. He can eat massive bowls of tabouli...seriously. For me, I don't even taste it for the seasoning.  I have him taste it then I season appropriately. It's the raw tomatoes and green onion that put me off. I just don't like them. For him, it's like heaven in a bowl.

It is a bit time consuming and unfortunately it doesn't make much either. I increased the recipe a bit, because it just erks me that I will spend 30 minute making this salad and it's gone in two. This is based off of his mom's recipe, which may I remind you, and he is extremely emphatic on this point, is the REAL way to make tabouli.

You should see how my husband's hair stands on end when we walk into a Middle-Eastern store or restaurant or any restaurant for that matter, and they have what they claim to be tabouli and it's mostly Bulgar wheat with a touch of parsley. Oh my! And don't even think of adding garbanzo beans or garlic or any other extra ingredient. You've lost him right there. Tabouli could be the scale on which he rates authenticity. I guess this could be a good gauge on which to rate potential friends or maybe politicians. "Quick question before we go any further in this campaign (or friendship). What is the ratio of parsley to Bulgar wheat in tabouli?" Politician, hesitates and then without even answering, Sammy blurts, "Wrong!" Well, just count him out, off the ballot and not even the hope of a swinging chad could save him or her. Is that a true representation of Sammy? No, but is it that important? YES. The right answer would be tons of parsley to a tiny bit of Bulgar wheat. Also, the salad must be JUICY. Very, very important.

I had my son, Isaiah, help me make the tabouli yesterday. He loves to "cooking". (always with the "ing"). I gave him a plastic knife and try to teach him the principles of handling a knife. It's a total joke. I can barely cut with it. And here I am giving an already frustrated three-year-old, for you know they are always frustrated, an extremely difficult task that I can barely do. Nevermind that, I just praise him for the half-mangeled wad of tomato, bleeding it's little tomato guts out on the cutting board.

Have you ever tried to cut a tomato with a flimsy plastic knife? Ridiculous.What's even more ridiculous is that half the time he was holding the knife the wrong side down and let me tell you, he wasn't getting anywhere with that. It's kinda like the same phenomenon that my kids have for the "backward-sies". For instance, the endless compulsion to wear sunglasses upside-down or continually put shoes on the wrong feet, just 'cuz. To eat their yogurt with the other end of their spoon or buckle themselves into their booster seats, even though they don't need it but just do it because it's fun. Okay, that last thing is not a backwards thing but it drives me crazy! Anyways, same thing with the knife. I must have told him to cut with the serrated edge like 15 times, yet he still managed to always revert back to the dull side then complaining he couldn't do it. Oh my. Please believe me when I say we had fun. We really did. Just tryin' to paint an accurate picture for you. 

And just for a little extra seasoning, Isaiah kept licking the tomato he was feverishly trying to cut with the "knife" then throwing it into the bowl. Oh Lord, quality control I guess. So Sammy, I guess you now know that there was a little something special in that salad, just for Father's Day. We love you, Daddy!

Tabouli Recipe

prep time: 45 minutes cook time: none serves: 4 normal people servings or 1, if you're Sammy

3 bunches curly parsley, flat leaf is fine, but this is what his mom uses
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
juice of 1 and 1/4 lemons
1/3 c. Bulgar wheat (cracked wheat)
1/3 c. olive oil
salt and pepper

Wash, rinse and thoroughly dry your parsley. Mix lemon juice and wheat together to soften the wheat. Let it stand 30 minutes, while you prep the rest of the salad.

In your food processor, or by hand, chop the parsley very finely. Not in the food processor, chop your tomatoes and green onions. Mix together, wheat, lemon juice, parsley, tomato and green onion with oil, salt and pepper.

Now, I will say, this is just a guideline. If you like yours more tangy, increase the lemon juice, more oil if you like it wetter etc. Sammy tastes the salad at least twice before we get it right. Happy Tabouli-ing!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lazy Lemon Cream Fruit Tart

I'm not a huge fan of processed foods and I try to buy 80% of my groceries organic. But sometimes I get a little lazy. Sometimes I just want to throw something tasty together that looks beautiful and tastes delish, even if it has a smattering of processed-not-good-for-you-goodness.

This little tart is so yum. I would say the cream tastes like a mix between lemon curd and cheesecake. Very zingy and bright. I came up with it for the Real Women of Philadelphia contest, only I made it with orange juice and orange zest. So you could easily swap the fruits out. If you do use the orange, don't add the 1/3 c. water, since the orange is much more juicy than the lemon. You can watch that video here. Anyways, I wanted to mix it up the other day, as I was going to a play date with the kiddos and wanted to bring something yummy. I had tons of fresh fruit in the frig and I needed to do something with it. The best thing about this tart is that you can use whatever fruit you have!

Lazy Lemon Cream Fruit Tart

prep: 30 minutes baking: 15 min. serves: 9 oven: 400 degrees

1 pkg. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 pkg vanilla instant pudding
1/3 c. water
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 7oz. jar of marshmallow fluff
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg
Various fruits, I used bing cherries, blueberries, strawberries and mango
3 tbls. apricot jam

Preheat oven 400 degrees. With a blender or in your mixer with the wire whisk attachment, blend the first 6 ingredients together, until very smooth. Transfer to a ziploc bag, all to one corner and chill in frig while puff pastry is baking.

Lay out your defrosted puff pastry. No need to roll it out or anything. Just score, with a very sharp knife, a 1/2" border all the way around, creating a nice edged when it bakes. Brush it all with beaten egg with a tsp. of water. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

After it is cooled, pipe in your chilled cream. Simply cut off the corner of your ziploc bag and voila! you have a pastry bag. You will have some cream left over, but that's the reason you are a cook, for those tidbits that no one else gets. Okay, if your a nice mom, I guess you let the kids lick the beaters...sometimes.

After it's piped in and smoothed out, place your fruit on top, however you like. I tend to always go for rows of fruit. I feel tempted to just scatter it about, but I always come back to the rows. What's that about?

Take the apricot jam and nuke it in the microwave with a tsp. of water, until is melts and is easy to brush on your fruit. Be generous with the glaze. It makes it shiny and keeps the fruit looking fresh.
You can put it in the frig until you are ready to serve or just serve right away!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Morning Buzz Smoothie

I found myself looking longingly at the dredges of coffee in the pot the other morning. I wanted more coffee, God knows I needed it, but the heat of the day was already getting to me and the last thing I wanted was a hot cup of coffee. I was also hungry. Breakfast is hard for me to remember, even if I am hungry. It's the craziest part of the day. My two toddlers sit and repeat their breakfast orders like two grumpy parrots. "I want drink!" one croons. I quickly correct him for his lack of panache and manners, he asks again nicely, then without missing a beat, the other chimes in, "I want vita-mininin" (don't ask). I tell her, "Please, wait." Then my 10 month old, starts squawking for another teething cracker, the dog needs to go pee and to top it all off, Barney is singing his stupid songs and I absent-mindedly sing along! And on and on it goes until, everyone is fed, except for me and I'm nearly crawling along the floor, in search of food because my blood sugar is like, one.

So! I did finally get to making myself breakfast and drink that lingering coffee, all in one. It ended up being quite delish. But for the recipe, I changed adding hot coffee to a smoothie to using espresso powder instead, rendering a much less melty smoothie.

Morning Buzz Smoothie

3/4 c. milk or soy milk
3/4 c. crushed ice
2 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 scoop of your favorite protein powder (I use whey)
1/2 banana
1 tbls. peanut butter

Blend all together. Now, of course you could swap out whatever you like. But this does make for a heartier smoothie than most. Refreshing and zingy!

Date Night at Foodie House!

This is a very special installment of Foodie House. The bonus on this video is my cutie husband and what we think are some of the best bloopers to date. Every thing's more funny and ridiculous when you've got a partner in cooking crime. So we are preparing for you a dinner that is the perfect date night at home. We have 3 small kiddos and we don't get out much, mainly because we nearly collapse as we sing the last song and read the last book to our tiny tired three year olds. But some nights we just press through the exhaustion and make time for us. Sammy and I love cooking together. We joke around, have some wine, dream together etc. It is more fun than going out sometimes because you don't have to go anywhere and you can eat your dinner in your lounge wear.

Here's the menu...(everything is just for two, so double or triple for a dinner party)

Seared Filet with Caramelized Onions

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Fresh Garden Salad with Bacon and the Foodie House Herbaceous Buttermilk Dressing and Croutons

Seared Filet with Caramelized Onions

2 10 oz. Filets of Beef, 2" thick
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbls. Olive Oil

Get your oven crankin' to 400 degrees. Blot off your meat with paper towels. It needs to be dry to get a tasty brown crust on it. Get your oven safe pan smoking hot on medium high heat. Season your filets with salt and pepper. Be rather generous as it is a thick piece of meat and it needs flavor throughout. Add your olive oil to the pan and when it is smoking, add your seasoned filets. Sear both sides 3 minutes. Leave the meat alone as it is searing. Don't move it around, it will disturb the crust that is forming. After both sides are seared, move the pan to the oven to cook the steaks another 7 min. This is for medium rare. If you want medium do another minute or two. But remember, if your steak is less than 2" thick you will need to adjust the time in the oven. Please remember not to grab the hot pan handle with your bare hands after it comes out of the oven!

Caramelized Onions

Follow the Caramelized Onions post for the how-to on this. Once you've made the onions, add 1/2 cup white wine, or red if you prefer, to the onions and let it reduce by half. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve over the filets for a savory accompaniment.

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

1/2 lb. "C" sized baby red potatoes, or whatever you have on hand
3 cloves roasted garlic (see Roasted Garlic Low-Down for the how-to)
1/4 c. heavy cream
3 tbls. butter
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
salt and pepper

Boil potatoes until they are fork tender and soft enough to smash. Drain, add garlic, cream, rosemary and butter. Mash until it's creamy but still kinda lumpy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh Garden Salad with Bacon and Foodie House Herbaceous Buttermilk Dressing

2 Large handfuls of your favorite greens, I use green leaf lettuce
1/2 c. sliced cucumbers
1/2 c. halved cherry or pear tomatoes
4 strips crispy bacon, chopped
2 handfuls of Quickie Croutons (see the how-to here on Foodie House)
1 recipe of the Herbaceous Buttermilk Dressing (also here on the blog)

Assemble your salads! I do the dressing and croutons the day before to save on time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Roasted Garlic Low-Down

Isn't it gorgeous? Oh that you could smell that picture. Well, roasting garlic is easy, my foodie friends. Like the caramelized onions it takes a bit of time, but also like the onions you will be rewarded with complex flavors, ones you could have never imagined coming from such a simple little bulb.

I originally had a video set up for this, but for whatever reason YouTube kept rejecting it. I guess there's a glitch in the matrix:) Anyways, roast up a bunch because you'll be putting it in everything!

Roasted Garlic

1 fresh head of garlic
1 tsp. olive oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp. dried
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Tear off a sheet of tin foil large enough to easily wrap up your garlic. Take the garlic head and turning it on it's side cut off the top of the head, exposing all the little cloves. This will do two things, one, allow the oil and seasonings to penetrate the garlic and two, make it easy to just squeeze out when it's done. Drizzle with oil, top with rosemary, salt and pepper. Tightly wrap up your garlic, remember TTF!(tuck, tuck, fold) and place in on an oven safe dish to bake for 1 hr. After one hour, be careful opening up the foil and be ready to get the best steam facial of your life, well, sorta. What I'm trying to say is that the aromas are intoxicating, not to mention your house will smell amazing! Put into whatever...butter, potatoes, sauces, breads, soups, on and on. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Caramelized Onions 101

Here's the nitty-gritty on the onions, well, caramelizing them anyways. The process takes some time, but you will be rewarded. In my book, this is my favorite way of eating onions. And it doesn't stop there, you can add caramelized onions into so many dishes. It's a good basic to have and we will refer back to this post on a later day. So keep this one under your belt.

Caramelized Onions Recipe

prep time: 10 minutes cook time: 45 minutes serves: 2

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 tbls. butter
1 tbls. olive oil
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped of their leaves
salt and pepper to taste

In a pan over medium-low heat, melt your butter and oil. Add onions, thyme, sugar, salt and pepper. Let the onions cook down slowly. Stir occasionally. Heat should never get over medium heat. Soon they will start to deepen in color and get very soft. Cook until you are satisfied with the color and texture, but I like to let them go for about 45 minutes. Eat them alone or over a steak or in a quiche. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mommy Snack

 Here's a quick little snack for you, mommy or not. I call it "Mommy Snack" because it's what I eat during nap time. Everything is quiet except for my loud, joyous munching. You know, I like something special just for me, minus the sharp, whiny cries of my brood. Simple, healthy and delish...most important. Assemble and eat.

Mommy Snack Recipe

1 rice cake (I like Lundberg brand, brown rice and organic)
1 tbls. peanut butter
1 fresh strawberry, sliced
drizzle of honey or agave nectar

Enjoy your snack time a little better with this Mommy snack.

Herbaceous Buttermilk Dressing

This dressing could quite possibly be the nectar of the Salad Dressing Gods. Okay, maybe overstating a bit, but it's tangy, creamy, herby and addictive. What's not to love? Not to mention it's super simple to make. So dust off your blenders...

Herbaceous Buttermilk Dressing

prep time: 15 min. cook time: 0 minutes serves: 4

2/3 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. olive oil
4 tbls. red wine vinegar
4 tbls. mayo
handful of each: dill, parsley and basil
1 green onion
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in blender and blend. Note on buttermilk: if you do not have any handy, just take 1 c. milk and add 1 tbls. vinegar or lemon juice. Let it set 10 min. and presto! you've got buttermilk. Dressing keeps well in frig for 2-3 days.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Quickie Croutons

I cannot possibly stop snacking on these incredibly loud croutons. I must devour the entire pan...oops. Okay, so they are good. I mean really, really good. I've used the bread from the Grape and Feta Focaccia post. Ideally, making this recipe is best if your focaccia has no grapes on it, but if it does, just pick them off before you make the croutons.

It couldn't be easier. You will never buy those concrete block/store-bought croutons again. These are light and crispy, full of flavor and made in 20 minutes!

Quickie Croutons

prep time: 5 minutes bake time: 20 minutes serves:4 oven temp: 350 degrees

3 c. cubed bread, ideally, the Foodie House Focaccia (approx. 1/2 loaf)
2 tsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven. Combine all ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss well. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Stir croutons. Put back in oven for another 10 minutes until crunchy and golden brown. Cool to serve on salads or serve hot and toasty on top of your favorite soup. Great snack to quiet jibber-jabbery three year olds!

What's Your Favorite Kitchen Gadget?

I find myself using my hand-mixer or immersion blender, as some call it, time and time again. Smoothies, soups, pastry creams, the list goes on and on. Just for the sake of curiosity and because it's fun, I want to know what your favorite kitchen tool is. Just list it below in the comment box!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Basil and Watermelon Summer Salad

I guess I don't have to tell you that it's stinkin' hot here in Houston. Some mornings I wake up and see the windows covered in steam, giving any good Turkish bath house a run for it's money. So, it's not surprising to me that I find myself craving anything cold or refreshing to cool down my internal temperature, which seems to hover around, oh, I don't know, the heat index of the Mojave desert!

Basil and Watermelon Summer Salad

prep time: 10 min. cooking time:0 min. serves:4

2 c. cubed watermelon
1/2 lb. diced strawberries
1 tbls. sugar
zest of 1/2 lime
juice of 1/2 lime
15 basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Combine all ingredients. Let set for at least 10 min. in refrigerator before serving. Delish!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Grape and Feta Focaccia

FOCACCIA! I love to say it with flair. I love to eat it with flair. I just love it. It's versatile, it's easy to make. It's a great starter bread for those who are timid about baking.

Any bread with the pine-y, resin-y flavor and aroma of rosemary, well, I'm there. It's intoxicating, comforting and it burns itself into your brain as a scent that unleashes a thousand memories. Then you add the sweet juiciness of red grapes, soften by the heat of the oven and briny feta cheese and it's nearly a meal in itself.

Grape and Feta Focaccia

prep:1 hour 10 min. baking time:30-35 oven temp:350 degrees makes 1 loaf

1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbls. sugar
1 gr. onion, thinly sliced
1 tbls. fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbls. fresh dill minced
1 tbls. butter
1/2 c. water
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
2 tbls. crumbled feta cheese
9 red grapes cut in half
Olive oil for greasing the pan and drizzling on top

Grease your half-sheet baking pan with olive oil and line with parchment. Parchment is optional.
Combine milk, salt, sugar, gr. onion, herbs and butter in a glass measuring cup. Heat in microwave until very warm and butter starts to melt, about 45 seconds on high. Stir to melt butter and dissolve salt and sugar.
Pour milk mixture into large bowl. Add the 1/2 c. water, not cold, just room temp or warm. Your liquid should be around 110 degrees.
Sprinkle in instant yeast. It does not need to set and bubble. Just add your flour right in.
Stir well with a wooden spoon. Dough will be very sticky. Combine well and set in a warm place to rise, covered with a towel. Let set 45 min.
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
When it has doubled, punch it down and press it onto your baking sheet. I usually do a freeform shape, but if you want it to reach the edges of the pan and have a perfect rectangle, double the recipe.
After you get the shape you want, cover it and let it rise again for 15 minutes, until just puffy.
Arrange your grapes and feta however you like. Drizzle with olive oil and place on the middle rack of preheated oven. Bake 30-35 minutes or until nice and golden.
Cool slightly and serve with olive oil or butter. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mama's Meatballs

Grandma Maria's dining room table, Christmas Eve 1984 (or thereabouts), platters of antipasti, which included a variety of meats, cheeses, olives and marinated artichokes. Then the salad course, followed by veal scallopini sometimes lasagna and then my favorite, the spaghetti and meatballs. Oh! They were the size of a small wrecking ball. Cracking into one was like opening a geode in the Colorado mountains. Instead of sparkling amethysts inside, I was hit with the aromas of Italian American dreams. Quite possibly one of my favorite childhood memories.

If you didn't catch my drift, I LOVE meatballs. I mean, they send me. And this is my best version Grandma Maria's yet. I have made them a thousand different ways, but this is the best. As most good Grandma-y recipes are, the meatball recipe was never written down. So this is my best shot at it. I think she would be proud.

Mama's Meatballs Recipe

prep time:20 min cook time:45 min serves:9

1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. gr. beef (85/15)
1 c. breadcrumbs
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbls. fresh basil, minced
1 tbls. fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
2 eggs
1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbls. olive oil
3 24 oz. jars of your favorite marinara (I use Bertolli Organic Tomato Basil)

Combine all ingredients using your hands. It's truly the best way to incorporate all the flavors.
Roll out the meatballs into golf ball-sized portions. It makes approx. 28. I freeze half if I am cooking just for my family. I count 3 meatballs as one serving. When I use only half of the meatballs, I use only 2 jars of sauce.
Pour your marinara sauce into a pot and start warming it over medium heat.
Get a heavy saute pan nice and hot over med-high heat. Add your olive oil and start searing your meatballs. Set them in, leave them alone! Don't touch! The goal is to get carmelization on the outside of the meatballs so they are flavorful and juicy. Also, do not over-crowd your pan. This will cause the meatballs to steam and become dry.
Sear on each side then take the meatballs directly from the saute pan to the marinara sauce. They meatballs do not need to be cooked through. We are only searing them then cooking the rest of the way in the marinara. This makes for a very moist meatball.
A totally optional step is to pour the grease from your meatball pan into the sauce. If you are concerned about the fat, by all means, skip this part. I do it for the flavor. It's fantastic!
Put the lid on, slightly ajar and let them simmer for a good 30 minutes.
Boil your favorite pasta, I like angel hair, top with the meatballs and sauce, serve with Parmesan and fresh basil...need I tell you what to do next?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Puttin' the Banana in the Bread

I'm sitting here noshing on none other than this very banana bread recipe. So good with a cup of coffee in the morning. This recipe is near and dear to my heart. It's a revision of my grandma Helen's recipe, updated with a bit of health-consciousness and of course some fun. This bread is BANANAS! B-A-N-A-N-A-S! (just had to do it:)

Banana Bread Recipe

prep time: 10 min. bake time:50 makes 2 loaves oven temp:350 degrees

1/2 c. extra light olive oil
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
3 medium, very ripe, bananas
2 c. flour
1 tsp. EACH baking soda, baking powder and salt
1/2 c. light sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash bananas with potato masher until most lumps are gone. Set aside.
Put all dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, into a bowl and whisk to combine.
In your mixer mix together oil and sugars, 1-2 min. Add eggs, bananas, vanilla and sour cream. Mix very well on medium speed. Turn mixer to low and add flour mixture in 2 batches. Mix until well combined but not overbeating it.
Prepare your pans. Take two regular sized loaf pans and spray with a non-stick spray that has flour in it, I like Baker's Joy. This next step is optional, but helpful. Tear off two pieces of parchment paper the length of your pans. Press it down into the pan letting the excess hang over the sides. This creates "handles" to pull your hot bread out with later. Then spray the parchment with the non-stick spray, just in case.
Pour the batter into the pans, doing your best to evenly distribute it.
Place them in the oven on the middle rack. Set timer for 50 minutes and wait for the magic to happen!
Test the bread by tapping it lightly with your finger. If the top of the bread is not matte and doesn't bounce back, then it's not done and bake 5 min. more until it is.
Let rest in pans on a wire rack for 10 min. Then remove and let it continue to cool another 10-20 minutes to slice.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mobster Chicken and Artichokes Recipe

Thank you for requesting this recipe and sorry I forgot to post it in the first place!

Prep time: 20 min. Cook time: 45 min.
4 chicken breasts, butterflied open
8 ounce(s) of Spinach and Artichokes Phiadelphia Cream Cheese
8 ounce(s) of regular Philadelphia Cream cheese
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lemon, zested
1/2 cup(s) of white wine
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 box angel hair pasta
6 slices of lemon, for garnish (optional)
3 tbsp. of olive oil
1 can drained, quartered artichokes

Start off by getting your water on to boil for the pasta.
Heat up a large skillet over medium high heat. Take each chicken breast and butterfly open, to make it half the thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Add olive oil to pan and sear off chicken until chicken is nice golden brown on each side but is not cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside while you make the sauce.

Lower your heat in the same pan. Add onions and garlic. Let cook for 3-4 minutes, until soft and golden.

Add artichokes and lemon zest. Next mix in both cream cheeses, incorporate well, then add white wine. Nestle your chicken breasts into the sauce, cover and let cook for 30 minutes.

Make sure you set your pan to low after you add chicken and cover. You just want a little bit of bubbling.

If your sauce is looking a little thick during the cooking process, just add a ladle of the pasta water to thin it down.

During the last 6-7 minutes of cooking your chicken, drop your pasta into the salted boiling water for approx. 6-7 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and toss with olive oil.

To plate, set a nice mound of angel hair pasta on the side of the plate. Take a chicken breast and stack it up against the pasta. Top with sauce and parsley. Garnish with lemon twist.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Feel Like Fryin'? Fabulous Fish n Chips!

This is the first installment of Foodie House recipes! My recipe is deliciously nontraditional, by replacing a beer batter coating with panko bread crumbs. I'm using baby red potatoes for my chips, tossed in fresh herbs and topping everything off with a killer tartar sauce!
I don't think I have to remind you that we are a low budget gig, but for where we lack in budget we make up for it with really good food and a delightful host...ehhhmmm. I will say, the next video I will NOT do with the kids up. It's just ridiculous. I apologize ahead of time for the generous soundtrack of teething baby and tumbling 3 year olds in the background. I promise not to do that to you again, but I will say, the fish and chips overrides all the shenanigans my children tossed our way. I was in fish 'n chips heaven as my husband drooled behind the camera. 'Nuff said. Here's the recipe.
Foodie House Fish and Chips
serves 4-6 prep and cook time approx. 1 hour

2 lbs. fresh cod, cut into 1 1/2" strips
1 1/2 c. flour
4 tsp. all purpose seasoning, I like Goya Adobo seasoning
4 eggs
1/2 c. milk
8 oz. panko bread crumbs
1 c. herb bread stuffing, I like Pepperidge Farm
1 48 oz. canola oil

1 lb. baby red potatoes, size C
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Tartar Sauce
1 c. mayo
zest of 1/2 lime
juice of whole lime
1 handful of fresh parsley, minced
1 big handful of fresh dill, minced
1 small green onion, minced
1 tbls. sweet pickle relish
Start heating up your oil in a big, heavy pot. Use a candy thermometer to gauge your temperature. Start with medium heat. This will take you a good half hour to get up to 350 degrees, so make sure this is the first thing you do.
Prepare your fish by cutting into 1 1/2" strips, drying off excess moisture with paper towels and season with all purpose seasoning, about 1 tsp. Start assembling your dipping station by combining flour with 1 tsp. seasoning on one plate (I like to use a paper plate for easy clean up), eggs and milk with 1 tsp. seasoning in the second dish and lastly mix together your panko, bread stuffing and 1 tsp. seasoning in a bowl. That is the order you will have your station set up, flour, egg/milk, then bread crumbs.
Have a sheet pan ready to receive your coated fish. Start the process by dipping first in flour, shake off excess, then into egg and then lastly firmly press into the crumbs. Set onto cooking sheet to dry. Repeat with all the fish. Set aside while you prep your potatoes and make tartar sauce. This will cause the coating to adhere well to the fish and get super crispy when you fry it.
Slice your washed potatoes into 1/2" slices. Set aside and chop up your fresh rosemary and thyme. Place your herbs into a bowl big enough to toss your potatoes in after they are fried.
Next whip up your tartar sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and then refrigerate, so as to marry the flavors.
First you will do a flash fry on your potatoes. Fry for a minute to a minute and a half until they are blond in color and just starting to wrinkle up around the edges. Take them out and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Turn your oven on to a "holding" temperature, around 200 degrees is fine. Place a wire rack on a jelly roll pan and have it ready to place your fried fish on. Start laying your fish into the hot oil, 2 to 3 pieces at a time. Do not over crowd your pot. After about 4 minutes or until the fish is a deep golden brown, place on wire rack and cooking sheet and place in oven to keep warm while you cook the rest of your fish.
After you fish is cooked, put your potatoes back into the hot oil to fry for the second time. Let them get nice and golden. About 3-4 minutes. Drain and toss immediately into the bowl with the fresh rosemary and thyme. Sprinkle to taste with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and get ready to eat!
Serve with the tartar sauce and watch it disappear.

An Unearthed Past Love

No, this post is not about digging up old flames, not that I have many to dig up, nor is it about cracking open caskets. No, this post is just some background on the birth of this blog.

I found myself entering a cooking contest. Well, let me re-word that, an audition of sorts, really. I saw a commercial for Paula Deen and her collaboration with Philadelphia cream cheese to find the "Real Women of Philadelphia". I was intrigued. I set up an account ASAP and started dreaming up recipes that were under an hour in prep and cooking time and included, of course, the Philly. To enter, you video yourself preparing the recipe and then send it in. It was so much fun. I got really into it. I was creating what I thought were masterpieces, and well, they were. I just wasn't what they were looking for I guess.

Initially I was disappointed when I wasn't asked to be a finalist in Savannah and have the chance to win $25,000 and be featured in 20 web cooking shows. But what I did come away with was an awakened heart. Awakened, reminded, stirred, if you will, of things I loved as a child and that those loves were important to who I am as a person. What I remembered was that around 8 or 9 years old, my passion for cooking was ignited. The spark? PBS cooking shows, actually. I remember watching them with my dad on Saturday mornings and then running to the kitchen to whip up something of my own in the dishwater left behind from my mom's earlier washing. I have very vivid memories of watching this particular BBQ seasoning, my mom had given me to use however I liked, for it was old and void of flavor, floating on the surface of the gray water and swirling with the whim of my trusty wooden spoon in figure 8 motions. It wasn't dishwater and stale BBQ seasoning. No, it was a Martin Yan inspired stir fry or the Frugal Gourmet's quiche recipe forming in the sink of my culinary mind. I would talk to my "camera", which was located directly above the sink. I would stand on my little green stool. I would feel my shirt stick to me from the splashing water. I was in my own world and perfectly happy.

I would tell my parents that what I wanted to be was a chef. They were always supportive. It was in community college that I got a white coat and chef hat. I took the first course in food preparation, or something like that. I had a crazy professor that was always urging us NOT to use black pepper in cream sauces because it looked like rat turds and we would never want to convey the message that our kitchens were in any way filthy. I found that amusing, mainly because he was so emphatic. I learned basic prep, the mother sauces and the best thing ever, how to make chocolate souffle. Really, it's the one thing I remember the most. I remember those perfectly puffed, beautifully chocolate brown souffles wobbling in their delicate state as the teacher proudly walked into the classroom with our masterpieces. Then he did something that I will never forget. He placed a piping hot souffle in front of us, the anticipation was intense as we circled around, took his spoon, tapped the top of it to crack it open and poured in a tablespoon or so of cream. My initial response was that he had ruined it. I took one bite and then adjusted my judgement. The coolness of the cream with the hot, air infused chocolate explosion in my mouth was one of the best things I had ever tasted.

I figured out I wanted to make food, eat food but not be a chef. I was young, kind of a wienie. Nowadays, I think I would have the courage to finish. I was intimidated by the pressure of time and stress of the finals for that class. We had to cook a four course meal in a ridiculous time allotment. Sometimes I regret that I didn't push myself to complete the entire cooking program. I still have my white coat and hat and my passion for food.

So here I am, my dears, challenged by my heart to do what I've always wanted to do...have a cooking show. I wanted it before it was a reality show on the Food Network. I wanted it while Julia Child was still making puff pastry from scratch.
My love for teaching, performing arts (that's a whole 'notha post) and of course food have led me here. Foodie House is going to be an adventure for you and me.

So, in honor of my thirty something enlightenment, I give you an audition that I sent to Paula Deen. You can check out the rest on YouTube.

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