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Monday, March 31, 2014

Egg White Frittata w/ Mushrooms, Spinach, & Goat Cheese inspired by Trinity Stones

Egg White Frittata with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Goat Cheese inspired by Trinity Stones |
So, apparently Paranormal Romance is a thing. When I first saw it, all I could picture were aliens in love. Fortunately this novel has no such nonsense in it. It has Nephilim and humans in love. Much better. And I'm being entirely serious. But if asked to give it a genre, I would probably have chosen Supernatural Romance over Paranormal Romance - it just seems more fitting. But I'll move on.

Would you believe me if I told that I've never read a Romance novel before? It's true. They just never appealed to me. I remember studying the Fabio-filled paperback covers in the grocery store when I was a kid, though. They didn't even pique my interest back then. Now, this isn't a straight-up Romance, so I still can't say that I've read one. But if the few pages filled with scenes full of deep penetrating thrusts, milking his hard length, and swirling tongue on sensitive peaks are just a glimpse into their pages, I won't be starting anytime soon. At those points, I felt like I shouldn't be reading the book while my kids were in the same room!
Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lemon Cornmeal Sandwich Cookies

Lemon Cornmeal Sandwich Cookies |
There's just something about those hints of green appearing in the trees and poking through the ground that puts me in a light mood. Birds gossping in the yard as they rifle around for loose bits to build their nests. Warmer mornings and the promise (threat) of shedded layers. Scooting the chocolate to the back shelf and reaching for those sunny lemons instead. That means Spring must really be here!

Don't get me wrong, I don't shun chocolate once Spring finally chases away the snow, but there is something about the change that just makes me crave lemons (or coconut - but that's a whole 'nother story).  So, when Dixie Crystals challenged the Sunday Supper crew to make some Springtime Sweets featuring their sugar, I immediately saw yellow.

Although I would have liked nothing better than to make a batch of my favorite Lemon Bars (or my other favorite Lavender Lemon Bars) or whip up a Lemon Meringue Pie, I steered myself in another direction. I was in the mood for cookies. Some sort of cookie that could be set out with the desserts at Easter and not passed over for the pies, tarts, and meringues that surrounded it.
Thursday, March 27, 2014

Salmon in Pipián Verde

Salmon in Pipián Verde
Earthy and rustic with a seductive heat that lies beneath its pale jade hue...that's how I'd describe Pipián Sauce. Well, Pipián Verde, at least. Pipián is another name for pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, which are the base and body behind this sauce. You can also switch out the green chiles and tomatillos with red chiles to make a red version.

While pepitas are the ingredient typically used in pipián sauces, I've also seen versions made with sesame seeds, peanuts, almonds, or even cashews. Served with anything from fish to chicken, pork to vegetables, or smothering enchiladas, they are another National treasure of Mexico - just like mole (in my opinion). Well actually, pipián verde is also known by the name mole verde. But I think that the main difference is that, while I adore the simplicity of a pipián, the complexity of a mole takes your tastebuds up to a whole 'nother level! Mole builds flavors from the addition of even more spices, nuts, dried fruits, and other flavor additions (like this Mole Verde Queretano).
Monday, March 24, 2014

Chilled Shrimp w/ Romesco Sauce

Chilled Shrimp with Romesco Sauce |
I know this is kind of weird, but chilled shrimp reminds me of Christmas. I've told the story before, but in case you haven't heard it, I'll fill you in. Ever since I can remember, my extended family has always come together at my grandparent's house during the holidays. Now, inevitably life happens, and there are years when you just can't make it. But the thing is, you always know what you're missing. Our routine...or maybe tradition is a better word...has never strayed too far year to year.

Does everybody love their grandparent's house? I mean, the people themselves, of course - but the house itself? Because I do. I've always dreamed of having a house just like theirs. Only updated and in a different location. It's a split-level ranch and though it may not look like it from the outside, has tons of space. So, although the family has grown exponentially, we all still fit nicely.

But anyway, the dining room has one wall that is filled by sliding glass doors that lead out to the back yard. Since they live in Michigan, there's not much call for opening them on Christmas Eve (you know, it's freezing and snowy outside), so the vertical blinds are closed and a table is butted up against the space, turning it into a wall. This table holds platters piled high with sliced ham, baskets of hawaiian rolls, trays of veggies with bowls of dip set in the center. Scalloped potatoes, dips both hot and cold, piping-hot bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, and the pièce de résistance - a giant dish filled to the gills with delicate pink shrimp and a bowl of cocktail sauce.
Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tarragon Chicken

Tarragon Chicken |
When I rented my first apartment as a young adult, one of my favorite things was inviting people over for dinner. Dinner guests equaled a chance to try out new wines and cook inviting dishes. Not that I had a dining room table to eat on (or a dining room to eat it in), but I don't remember that mattering. Coffee tables, boxes, laps...they all worked equally well for setting plates on. Though I will admit to it being a little tricky when steak knives were involved.

I can still remember planning my meals. I don't remember making many casseroles back then. And I rarely used my slow-cooker. Which is odd, because both of those methods make for somewhat easy "beginner" dishes. Instead, I almost always chose either a roast (chicken, beef, pork) or a dish that involved the searing of a piece of meat in a pan and deglazing with wine, or some other sort of liquid. But usually wine.

I think sides were always some sort of potato and a veg. Probably a loaf of bread hanging around, too.  And the funny thing is, those dishes were always a success.  Some of my favorites were Ham Steaks in an Orange glaze, Chicken with 40 cloves, Burgundy Beef tips, Pork Chops in Rosé, and Tarragon Chicken. I don't remember ever not liking anything.
Thursday, March 20, 2014

Herb Roasted Salmon w/ Veggies

Herb Roasted Salmon w/ Veggies
If you're looking for a quick and easy, yet delicious and healthy, way to get supper on the table on a busy weeknight - look no further! This is as simple as rubbing some fish fillets with a magically scented mixture of herbs, garlic, and olive oil.

Grab a handful of veggies per person, and add it to the mix. Whether you're feeding seven people, or just yourself, you can expect to be eating in under 30 minutes time from start to finish.

This time I'm featuring salmon, but you could easily substitute another variety of fish. Plus, you'll notice that you can change up the herbs and the bed of veggies that it sits on. So really, look at this as a starting point. You could have a unique version every night of the week, if you that's what you really wanted!
Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Apple Butter Rummy Pecan Ice Cream + Scoop Adventures Cookbook Review

Apple Butter Rummy Pecan Ice Cream |
Guess what I'm doing today? Kicking off the blog tour for the upcoming book by Lindsay Clendaniel of Scoop Adventures! There may be snow outside my window, but ice cream never goes out of season. Let me give you a little bit of background on the book, and then I'll tell you why the ice cream that I'm sharing today fits me like a glove.

Okay, so Scoop Adventures is the title, but it's not the full title. The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States is also part of it. The book is divided into regions, by chapter, in which Clendial shares the story of where each particular recipe originates.  Although I'm guessing that a trek across the country in search of the best creameries and exciting flavors would be the ideal roadtrip, if that's not possible, this book comes in a close second.

I've highlighted a few of the recipes from the book that are tops on my "to make" list below, but really there's not a single flavor that I wouldn't love to try from the book. Each one is unique and inventive. It's a good thing that I keep my ice cream canister in the freezer year round.
Monday, March 17, 2014

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies inspired by Stranger Than Fiction {food 'n flix}

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies inspired by Stranger Than Fiction for Food 'n Flix |
This month's Food 'n Flix pick is another one that doesn't necessarily fall into the "foodie film" category. Since I hadn't seen it since around the time it first came out, I rented it from the library and sat down to watch it one morning when I was the only one at home. It was like watching it for the first time...again.

Our main character, Harold, is an IRS agent who lives a life of routine. We know because the narrator leads us through it. Only she's not just a narrator, she's a successful author riddled with a severe case of writer's block, and Harold is the main character in the novel she is currently writing. But somehow, he's also a real person.

"Little did he know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death."
Sunday, March 16, 2014

Irish Champ

Irish Champ recipe |
Mashed potatoes are a universal comfort food. Everybody loves them.

Or do they?

I always thought so...until I met my youngest son. He doesn't like mashed potatoes. Like, at all. I think that's absolutely the strangest thing in the entire world. Before him, I never met a kid in my life who didn't want their plate piled high with them.

I tell him so. He doesn't care. So, almost everybody loves mashed potatoes then.

Water-Proofed Bread {Bread Baking Babes}

Water-Proofed Bread |
Water-PROOFED. Not to be confused with water proof. If you were carrying a loaf of this bread unwrapped and found yourself caught in a downpour without an umbrella, it would not survive.

However, if you happened to be making the dough in India and were caught in a monsoon, I bet you could wrap the dough and set it in the monsoon, it would rise beautifully. Because it's usually pretty darn hot during monsoon season, right? It might blow away, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Anyway. When Elle announced that our Bread Baking Babes adventure for this month involved making a beautiful egg-and-butter-enriched dough, and then putting it into a bowl of water to rise, I was intrigued to say the least. So, of course, I waited until the day before reveal day to make it. Typical.
Thursday, March 13, 2014

Szechuan Green Beans with Ground Pork

Szechuan Green Beans with Ground Pork
You know those days when sports and homework,  after-school activities and working late, favorite tv shows and a lonely book are all vying for that same coveted evening time slot? You mean every night? Well, I think it's essential to have a good dozen 30-minute meals in your back pocket. At least.

I'm talking in addition to refrigerator soup omelets and stir-fry. Let's call them "back pocket meals". Meals that don't require much thought. Meals that don't require you to consult a mil-long recipe and a laundry list of ingredients. Meals that don't add any stress to your already insane day.

This is one of those meals. Put it in your back pocket.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Whiskey Mussels en Papillote for Two

Whiskey Mussels en Papillote for Two | www.
Is it just me, or do the places that you visit become a part of you? Since St. Paddy's Day is almost here, let's use Ireland as an example.

I have always looked forward to St. Patrick's Day, but in the way that a non-Irish American girl with an appreciation for food and culture does. More years than not, I've made Corned Beef and Cabbage. If I get a good enough head start, I'll even cure my own brisket so that we have homemade corned beef. I've been known to eat Reubens all week long, just to get in the spirit.

Beef and Guinness Stew? Oh yes. Champ? You bet. Bangers and Mash? Of course! Don't forget the Soda Bread, Brown Bread, and the Cabbage and Bacon Soup. But then it happened. In 2012, I hopped onto an airplane for the very first time in my life, and 8-1/2 hours later, I landed in Dublin.
Sunday, March 9, 2014

Garbanzo and Brown Rice Burgers

Garbanzo Brown Rice Burgers |
It's not often that I make a point of eating meatless meals. It's usually just done, thrown into the rotation like any other meal. And while it's true that at times one of us will crave a big ol' juicy steak (that's usually me), some messy-face ribs (daughter), a comforting roast chicken (youngest son), some sticky carnitas (the hubs), a fat burger (oldest son), or some good greasy bacon (everybody) - I don't think any of us feels that we have to eat meat at every meal. We always have eggs, beans, lentils, or some other source of protein hanging around.

That said, there are a few meatless meals that I crave from time to time. Broccoli-Tofu is one of them. A platter loaded with roasted broccoli and cauliflower with a giant bowl of garlicky homemade hummus and grilled pitas for scooping everything up is another. And the soft tacos that I ate almost daily about 18 years ago are another - thick, homemade flour tortillas warm and stuffed with Mexican rice, refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa, guac, and sour cream {swoon}!
Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cranberry Biscuits inspired by The Moon Sisters - book tour + giveaway

Cranberry Biscuits inspired by The Moon Sisters |
It's easy to spot a foodie by the way they write. Therese Walsh is definitely a foodie. The Moon Sisters is a novel about family bonds and dynamics, dealing with grief, and finding acceptance (within yourself), but it's also laced with two of my favorite things mystical forces and food. Lots and lots of food.

The Moon sisters, Jazz and Olivia, are as different as can be. Jazz is the older and more stoic one of the two, with a penchant for writing stories and poetry (especially haikus - a girl after my own heart). Olivia, the spirited younger sister was born with Synesthesia, which gives her the ability to see sounds, smell sights, and taste words. It's tough enough being the older sister (says the oldest of four siblings), but having to deal with Liv's "eccentricities" and unique way of looking at life has taken its toll on Jazz through the  years.

After the death of their mother, the magnetic force in the family, they are forced together on an unexpected journey. A journey that after many twists, hops, and turns, brings them closer and helps them understand each other, by becoming better acquainted with themselves. A cast of colorful characters (one quite literally) round out their lives and their adventures.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spicy Chili Dip inspired by The Deepest Secret {book tour}

Spicy Chili Dip (inspired by The Deepest Secret - book tour) |

The Deepest Secret
author: Carla Buckley
publisher: Bantam
source: tlc book tours
hard cover: 448 pages

"foodie" read: Not a foodie read, but there is mention of food as a part of daily life. From Chicken Casserole to Ravioli, from ice cream to whole wheat doughnuts (which I almost made), from Gin & Tonic's to Pasta Puttanesca, there are plenty of references if you're paying attention. See why I chose to make Spicy Chili Dip below...

random excerpt: David looks at his wife, the woman he's loved. He thinks of their son. All the ways in which they've worked to protect this house from the sun had only allowed the darkness to creep inside. 
Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Strawberry Hazelnut Buttermilk Quick Bread

Strawberry Hazelnut Buttermilk Quick Bread |
Once upon a time, I was afraid of yeast. Though it feels like a long time ago to me now, it's really only been about 5 years. Now I bake yeast breads of all shapes, sizes, and skill levels. And I find myself shunning the quick breads that were so good to me for so many  years.

I don't mean to. And every time I realize what I'm doing, I reach for the brown bananas posthaste. My (now) 5th generation banana bread always makes the family feel warm and fuzzy. It takes me back to being 10 years old in my grandma's kitchen.

Occasionally I feel the need to venture out and put things like zucchini, carrots, lemon, sweet potato, or pumpkin into the batter. A batter that can be stirred together in, like, 5 minutes flat by the way.
Sunday, March 2, 2014

Blackberry Fritters

Blackberry Fritters |
It's that time of year. The time when many people across the world set about using up the sugar, fat, and eggs they have stored in their pantry and fridge to prepare for a time of penance and sacrifice. Fat Tuesday, otherwise known by its French translation, Mardi Gras, falls in two days time. Traditionally, on the Tuesday before Lent, Catholics and other Anglicans have eaten rich, fatty foods both in order to use up the ingredients they had around, like I mentioned, but also to prepare for the ritual of fasting. One last hurrah, if you will.

Even though I don't practice either of those religions, learning the traditions and practices of any portion of a culture is important to understanding them. Respecting those traditions builds compassion, respect, and friendships. In my eyes, at least.

These days, I've run across many people who don't even know why they're celebrating Mardi Gras. To them, it's just a week-long party in New Orleans. In actuality, it's celebrated world wide. But yes, in many places it has turned into a week-long celebration culminating on the Tuesday before Lent.