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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Toasted Sesame Honey Chicken

Toasted Sesame Honey Chicken
Lately it seems that there is just not enough time in the day.  One minute I'm waving at the kids as they hop onto the bus, and the next minute I'm trying to whip up a delicious dinner before it's time to slide into our jammies!  Can you relate?

I find that now that my kids are getting older and have more after-school activities, I don't have the time that I used to have for prepping, cooking, and serving dinner - especially on weeknights.  For the past couple of months, there have been more times than not that we don't wind up eating dinner until 7:30 or later on a school night.  That is not ideal.  So, I've had to take a little time early in the day to map out a plan.

That plan usually includes prepping early and sometimes even cooking early (with plans to reheat when we walk in the door at 6:30).  I won't lie, I've given in the allure of take-out now and again, as well.  But recently, I was introduced to something that makes getting dinner on the table on busy weeknights a snap - Campbell's Dinner Sauces.  With skillet sauce flavors like Thai Green Curry, Chicken Marsala, and Scampi, you could potentially have dinner on the table in 15 minutes flat.  That's from start to finish, people!
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Revisiting Carrot Bread for a Bread Baking Buddies ROUNDUP

Revisiting Carrot Bread for a BBBuddies Roundup |
This was my first month as an official Bread Baking Babes Kitchen of the Month (aka, what we baked this month was all my doing)!  I wanted to choose something that would challenge the Babes and the Buddies, and I think that I did that successfully with this Carrot Bread!

The original recipe has minor hydration other words, I don't think there was a single baker that embarked on this journey that didn't have to add extra liquid to the poolish.  Some even added more to the final dough.  The bread also contained a mix of flours, add-ins, and potentially difficult to source ingredients.

I cannot tell you how much I love the fact that not only some of my fellow BBBabes rose to the challenge, but so did NINE BBBuddies!  You couldn't wipe the smile off my face as I read through their adventures, trials, and adaptations - and found myself craving the final results.  Each bread turned out a little differently; each bread looks fantastic.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Roasted Green Beans w/ Pistou {food 'n flix: A Good Year}

Roasted Green Beans w/ Pistou {food 'n flix: A Good Year} |
What would you do if your favorite uncle, from whom you were estranged, passed away and left you a beautiful chateau in Provence?  That is exactly the "predicament" that Max Skinner, a powerful London investment trader found himself in.  Growing up, Uncle Henry was Max's favorite person to be around. He spent time with him in France, learning life lessons sampling the wine of the land.  But Max grew up and grew away, choosing to live in the city and value money, power, (local) fame; basically, he liked a fast life.

Having just made a questionable "play" on the market, Max's best friend and lawyer, Charlie, encourages him to take a few days to fly to France and settle his affairs.  Max is determined to get in, prepare for the sale of the chateau, the land, the vines, and get out in a manner of days.  But life never goes according to plan now, does it?

Fate steps in and slowly starts to crumble Max's well-laid plans.  Memories of his youth that happened within 100 feet of where he is now standing.  And of course, there is a love story; trying to win the heart of the beautiful woman that you (unknowingly) almost killed.  There's also a wrench thrown into his plans when Henry's illegitimate daughter shows up looking for him, and Max suddenly has family again.
Monday, October 28, 2013

Adobo Potatoes Gratin

Adobo Potatoes Gratin {#thenewsouthwest #cookbookspotlight: review + giveaway} |

#TheNewSouthwest #CookbookSpotlight Review + Giveaway |
The New Southwest: Classic Flavors with a Modern Twist
author: Meagan Micozzi
publisher: Hippocrene
photos: yes
hard cover: 230 pages

chapters/sections: The Southwestern Pantry | Building Blocks | Condiments | Breakfast | Drinks | Appetizers & Snacks | Breads | Side Dishes | Main Courses | From the Grill | Desserts | A "Christmas-Style" Extra

fun features:  The Southwestern Pantry at the beginning of the book is a great reference for those who may not be familiar with some of the basic ingredients used in Southwestern cooking.  It includes sections on spices & herbs, chiles, produce, dairy, baking ingredients, other pantry staples, and essential equipment.  Meagan doesn't send you in blind, she equips you with the knowledge to ensure that your foray into these recipes is successful.

I also love the handwritten thank you notes at the back of the book; such a heart-felt personal touch.
Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dark and Stormy Gingerbread

Dark and Stormy Gingerbread |
I was planning on making a good cocktail to represent Halloween again this year.  Instead of something literally creepy and fitting, I was going to go instead with an aptly named cocktail- a Dark and Stormy.  But after realizing that I didn't have any dark rum in the bar, and not wanting to go out and spend any money, I opted for the next best thing - a twist on the Dark and Stormy cocktail.  Dark and Stormy Gingerbread.  Of course?

I believe its name originally came from the look of the dark or black rum floating on top of the ginger beer; it looked like a storm cloud.  Without the dark rum, it's just not the same.  But when you put the flavors into a dessert, no one's the wiser.
Friday, October 25, 2013

On Whisky Stones, Tumblers, and Finding that Perfect Gift...

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Uncommon Goods.  All opinions are my own.
On Whisky Stones, Tumblers, and Finding that Perfect Gift... {An @UncommonGoods #giveaway} |
I'm one of those people who thinks long and hard before giving a gift.  There's no better feeling than finding just the right fit.  I love something to scream out a person's name.  The more unique, the personalized, the more individual...the better.  I want the receiver of the gift to want to use what I give them.  I want them to want to show it off, keep it close, use it, cherish it.  I may not always succeed, but I always try.

Those are my favorite gift to receive, too.  You know, in case you were putting your holiday gift list together.

Half of the time, that is why I like to make my gifts by hand.  But in all honesty, not everybody loves food and cooking as much as I {gasp}.  So, I begin the hunt.  Locally, I love searching the farmer's market, flea markets, vintage shops (ahem, that's a nice way of saying second-hand store), and smaller shops that feature artisan made goods.  But online, there is a whole world of possibilities; Uncommon Goods is one of those possibilities.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Greenmarket to Gotham: Recipe Journal {cookbook review + giveaway}

Greenmarket to Gotham: Recipe Journal review + giveaway |
Greenmarket to Gotham: Recipe Journal
author: Chef Alfred Portale
publisher: HauteLife
photos: yes
soft cover: 102 pages

chapters/sections:  The twelve chapters in this book are set up by weeks.  Each week features a different a different farm that inspired three dishes: one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert.

The featured farms are: Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, Keith's Farm, Norwich Meadows Farm, Stokes Farm, Sycamore Farms, Cherry Lane Farms, Eckerton Hill Farm, Berried Treasures Farm, Bohitree Farm, Paffenroth Gardens, Phillips Farms, and Migliorelli Farm.

about the book:  Every summer, Alfred Portale, chef and partner at Gotham Grill and Bar, creates a weekly prix fixe all-vegetarian lunch menu showcasing a different farm's ingredients.  This book originated with the menus produced over the last three summers at Gotham.  It also includes wine pairings, and four farmer profiles.  Use this book to help maximize your local farmer's markets. 10% of the proceeds from the sale of this journal go to benefit GrowNYC.    
Monday, October 21, 2013

Chia Cupcakes

Chia Cupcakes {The New Southwest #CookbookSpotlight} |
Today kicks off week two of The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight; I could not be more curious to see what everybody chose to make with their free rein.  In other words, I chose the recipe last week, and everybody made it.  I love in and of itself, because it's always fun to see the variations and similarities in a dish when 15 different people make it.  But this week is fun, too, because it's a surprise!  Although I know it was not an easy task deciding what to make.  I bet more than one person simply closed their eyes and chose a bookmark at random.

I've already made several delicious dishes from The New Southwest, but today I wanted to share the very first thing that I made after paging through the book.  I'm not a cupcake person.  Don't get me wrong, I like cupcakes.  They're just not something that I normally gravitate towards unless there's a birthday coming up or something.  But the mental image of these beautifully speckled chia cupcakes was something that I just couldn't shake.
Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Have you ever tasted something that was so delicious beyond comprehension that it made you want to cry?  That's what Sticky Toffee Pudding does to me.  I find the deep, dark, seductive flavors of caramelized sugar and molasses to be entirely irresistible.  Just one bite of the warm, dark, moist, rich pudding (cake) causes sparks to start firing, yet ground me deep into the earth.  Yeah, it's like that.

The thing about my lust-affair is, I only had my first bite of Sticky Toffee Pudding a little over a year ago.  It's not that I hadn't heard of it before.  It was one of those things I'd been "meaning to" try for years.  I mean, come on - I love me some Jamie and some Nigella!  This British-born treat was definitely on my radar.  I can't help but love the Queen's English (I am using that term correctly, aren't I?).  Pudding actually refers to any dessert.  And, I believe that "our" (here in the U.S.) puddings are referred to as custards over there.  You may remember my penchant for the word porridge.  Well, pudding falls into that same category for me.  As does tin (instead of the word can used most often in the States).
Friday, October 18, 2013

Coconut Sweet Potato Pie w/ Spiced Graham Cracker Crust {she made, ella hace}

Coconut Sweet Potato Pie w/ Spiced Graham Cracker Crust |
For she made, ella hace this month, Leslie and I are showcasing sweet potatoes!  It's that time of year when I just can't seem to get enough of them.  I think my favorite thing is probably just a simple baked sweet potato with blue cheese, bacon, a few candied pecans, and some chives.  I could probably eat that on a daily basis.  But today, I wanted to combine sweet potatoes with something else that is inevitably on my mind this time of year - PIE!

It's true, once the leaves begin to change colors, and that nip is in the air, the Thanksgiving-menu-gears of my mind start clanking to life.  It's my favorite meal of the year, and I start the planning early.  It's time for me to begin testing pies and side dishes; time to start gathering magazines and books.  It makes me happy.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Carrot Bread {Bread Baking Babes}

Carrot Bread {Bread Baking Babes} |
It's the 16th, and that means it's Bread Baking Babes reveal day!  What better day for this to fall on that World Bread Day, by the way?  But even more exciting (for me), is that yours truly is the hostess this month; yes, girlichef is the Kitchen of the Month.  This means that it was my turn to choose the bread.  Let's just say, I chose a doozy.

I wanted something that was a bit of a challenge.  It wasn't difficult, but it wasn't just a knead, rise, and go dough, either.  Here are the variables that go into these loaves:
  • extra steps: making a poolish and a glaze
  • different types of flour: rye, bread, rice
  • a (possibly) difficult to find ingredient: carrot juice 
  • add-ins: grated carrots, chopped parsley, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds

Plus, it makes a large batch; 3 loaves to be exact.  And straight-up, the dough is a bit of a wild child.  All the Babes (as far as I know), needed more water than called for in the poolish.  Myself included.  Don't be frustrated if you make this - drizzle and stir until you get a good consistency.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Vanilla Porridge w/ Honeyed Apples

Vanilla Porridge w/ Honeyed Apples |
The chilly cold autumn mornings have officially taken root here in my little neck of the Midwest.  I find myself begrudging the vacated spot where I was curled up under my heavy blanket before my alarm and pending daybreak tore me away.  My feet instinctually slide into waiting slippers, thwarting the chill of the cold, hard floor one step beyond.  I wrap myself in the sweater that waits on the chair before turning on the lights and padding into the kitchen to pour myself a steaming mug of coffee.  Before long, I'll have to flip that little switch on the thermostat to the "on" position; but I'm holding out for now.

On mornings like these, cold cereal just doesn't cut it.  Yes, the lure of body-and-soul-warming, bone-sticking food has begun.  Who am I to fight it?  Break out the porridge.  Porridge.  Isn't that a fantastic word?  I didn't grow up referring to it as porridge, unless of course, I was reciting Peas Porridge Hot or Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Perhaps that's why it seems like a magical word to me; I associate it with the nursery rhymes and fables of my childhood.
Monday, October 14, 2013

Mushroom & Leek Migas

Mushroom & Leek Migas {The New Southwest #CookbookSpotlight} |
Strap yourself in, because today The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight is taking off!  Over the next three weeks, you will see 15 blogger's takes on both the same, and different, recipes from this new release by Meagan Micozzi.  As host, I get an advantage; I get an advanced reading copy.  This makes me inexplicably excited.  I sit down at the table, armed with a full pad of sticky notes, and a pencil (I mark the bejeezus out of my arc's).  My hunger increases page by delicious page, and I make my way through, tagging recipes and making notes.

Next up, narrowing down my initial choices.  I need to find one or two recipes that I think would go over well with a varied group of bloggers.  I take into consideration that some don't eat meat, or dairy, or gluten...try to find something adaptable.  The ridiculous amount of papers poking from all three open sides after that choice are a whole 'nother story...

This time, the recipe that I chose for everybody to tackle, was a variety of Migas.
Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf
Some meals taste even better the day after they are made.  Many soups, stews and chilis benefit from that overnight soak; they thicken up, and the flavors have time to develop.  The same holds true for many bean and lentil dishes.  I've even heard arguments for day-after pizza.  But my absolute favorite dish to eat the day after it is made (aside from Thanksgiving leftovers) is meatloaf.  Heck, I've been known to make a meatloaf for the sole purpose of having Meatloaf Sandwiches the next day.

The thing about meatloaf is, people seem to love it or loathe it.  I, for one, fall into the love category.  It's another one of those dishes that I grew up on, and a bite of good, homemade meatloaf never fails to put me at ease...bring me comfort.  Which is going to make it seem odd when I tell you that I have never once made the same meatloaf twice in my life.  I've never had a recipe for meatloaf.  It's one of those things that you can do that with, though.  I do prefer to use a half beef, half pork mixture.  The binder always seems to vary - sometimes I use crushed crackers, sometimes fresh bread crumbs soaked in milk, sometimes dry bread crumbs; I've even used rice and oatmeal.  Sometimes I shred veggies into it.  I often vary the glaze.  I've even studded it with cheese, or wrapped hard-boiled eggs into the middle.  I like it all!
Friday, October 11, 2013

Blackberry Sage Whiskey Fizz + @NotSoSimpleSyrp giveaway

Blackberry Sage Whiskey Fizz + Not So Simple Syrup Giveaway |
Snatch up the last of those blackberries hanging from the plants.  You know the ones I'm talking about; they're big and fat, and seedy.  They are also hauntingly sweet, as if summer's faint whisper was saying "don't forget me".  But they're also few and far between, so if you see 'em, grab 'em!  They are perfect for turning into jam, or for blending into cocktails.  I found a few husky scragglers the other day, and just knew that they were meant for me!

My plan was to incorporate them into a cocktail using this amazing new line of simple syrup's that was developed by Heidi (you may know her from  her blog, Young Grasshopper), and her catering-partner, Barbie.  Together, they came up with a line of all syrups that will "inspire and stimulate your pension for amazing mixed drinks...".  They use high quality ingredients and a local bottler, as well as testing each and every batch for quality.  These syrups flavored with lemon, mind, strawberry, blackberry, or orange may fall under the category of "simple syrups", but the care and thought put into each bottle makes them so much more, hence the name, Not So Simple Syrup.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Duck Bacon Fried Rice {#EatingIndiana: Maple Leaf Farms}

Duck Bacon Fried Rice {#EatingIndiana: Maple Leaf Farms} |
Welcome to my very first #EatingIndiana feature.  You can click here too learn more about why I started #EatingIndiana, but at the core of it all, I will be featuring Indiana grown/based/established food.

Maple Leaf Farms was established in 1958 by Donald Wentzel near Milford, Indiana.  They began small with 280,000 ducks their first year (seems like a lot to me), but continued growing, and had 1 million ducks by 1964.  Mr. Wentzel passed in 1968, but the business is carried on by his son-in-law, Terry Tucker.  This family-owned company has a commitment to not only family, but also friends, personal fulfillment, community involvement, and high-quality products.

Maple Leaf farms now employs 750 people at operations in not only Indiana, but also Wisconsin, California, and Michigan.  They are at the top of the North American duck market with their White Pekin Duck products, from raw to fully-cooked.
Sunday, October 6, 2013

Slow Cooker Dr. Pepper Shredded Chicken

Dr. Pepper Shredded Chicken
I have this "thing" against slow cooker meals that have outside steps added to them.  In my mind, if I'm making something in a slow cooker, I don't want to have to dirty any other pots and pans; I want the meal and the mess contained.  Have I stated this before?  I'm getting a little feeling of déjà vu here.  Well, if I have, it bears repeating.

This probably limits my scope in the grand scheme, since I don't have a slow cooker with a browning feature built in.  But it's on my short-list, for sure.  That said, I've been able to adapt most recipes to fit my "slow cooker ideal".

Take for instance a recipe for Dr. Pepper Chicken Tostadas that beckoned me from the pages of Scarletta Bakes.  It was one of those times when the instant I saw it, I knew I'd be making it soon.  But Meagan divides hers into two steps: cooking the chicken in the slow cooker and saucing it up on the stove top.  Wasn't gonna happen.  Though I stuck to her ingredients and basic formula, I worked it out so that the only dish I had to dirty, was the crock of my slow cooker.  Oh yeah.
Thursday, October 3, 2013

Salmon BLT

Salmon BLT
Since the beginning of (my) time, BLT's have been my A#1-favorite-sandwich-to-end-all-sandwiches sandwich.  The funny thing is, usually with food that's been a favorite since childhood, I have some sort of memory to link to it...something to share.  With a BLT, I can't think of anything.  And believe me, I've racked my brain.

I do remember being excited when we had them for dinner.  That's about it.  I don't know my parents' reasons for making them, but they were probably much the same as mine; they are perfection.  It's kinda crazy that something as simple as good, toasted bread spread with mayo and topped with fat tomato slices (that have been seasoned with salt and pepper, thank you), crisp leaves of lettuce, and chewy, salty bacon can elicit such a response.

Or is it?
Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The New Southwest by Meagan Micozzi - #CookbookSpotlight

The New Southwest #CookbookSpotlight |
I'm very excited to be bringing you a new COOKBOOK SPOTLIGHT this month!  I can hardly believe a year has gone by since the last one, but it's true.  I've been very fortunate in my spotlight-series to work with not only an amazing bunch of bloggers, but also some wonderful publishing houses and authors.  This round is no exception!

You know her as the author of the delicious blog, Scarletta Bakes (you do know her, right?  If not, you are in for a treat), Meagan Micozzi.  As with all of my other spotlights, I'm particularly proud of Meagan - because she is a fellow food blogger!  I love having the opportunity to share and promote these books that are made by people doing what I do; it pushes me forward and inspires me.  Not originally from the area, Meagan moved to Arizona and fell in love with "the food and flavor that (she) found" there.  Thankfully, we can all fall in love with it, too, via her blog and now, her cookbook!
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Rustic Potato Buns/Rolls

Rustic Potato Rolls/Buns {#TwelveLoaves: Root Vegetables} |
I have been meaning to jump in and participate (on time) for #TwelveLoaves for going on a year now.  I finally remembered to ask Lora how to get in on the "day of" posting, but then I had a couple of things come up that I had to post on the same days that the group would be posting...and now, here I am, FINALLY participating on time!    If you're not familiar with #TwelveLoaves, in a nutshell, it's a group of bloggers baking up bread together once a month for the whole year (12 months...12 loaves); each month has a theme.

But the great thing about the group is that, even if you are unable to participate on "reveal day", you have the whole month to bake up some bread (yeasted or quick) according to the theme, post about it, and join in by adding your post to the linky tool at the bottom of the posts!

This month, we were challenged to bake up a loaf of bread or rolls/buns, that contained some sort of root vegetable.  This one came easy.  I had been planning to bake up a batch of this rustic potato bread that my family loves so much, anyway.  But instead of making loaves, I decided to try my hand at turning the dough into buns/rolls.