Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Royal Foodie Joust - Mango Pastry Puffs

Mango Pastry Puffs

This was probably not one of my finest hours. This whole month has been a real challenge for me. I have messed up so many recipes and meals that I was starting to wonder if it was all going to fall back in place! One thing that I have learned from this past month is that everything that I cook or bake has a bit of me in it. If I am not feeling good (too much stress, distracted, busy, worried etc...) nothing I make will turn out right. But on the other hand if I am feeling good (which honestly is my normal state!!!) my food is great. I have never really noticed before the impact that this had on all of our food. Maybe that is because normally I don't let too much get to me but when it does boy is it an avalanche and I have felt the pure weight of it this month. Things are so much better now but that brings me to my Royal Foodie Joust entry for this month...

The Royal Foodie Joust is a monthly event that is normally hosted by Jenn the Left Over Queen but seeing as she was busy getting married this month the Joust was hosted by Ben of What's Cooking. The ingredients this month were mango, cardamom and brown sugar. These ingredients were chosen by Michelle from www.thurdaynightsmackdown.com . Really great choices!

But alas with my mojo on the outs I had some major trouble with this entry. I knew what I wanted to do but just could not for the life of me execute it. I honestly tried making my own puff pastry but it was such a huge disaster and I am still traumatized by it so please forgive me for not telling you all about it! I ended up using (oh please forgive me for this!!!) frozen puff pastry sheets. I will make this again as I loved the flavor of it and I promise that I will use my own homemade puff pastry!!!

I decide to make the cream with ricotta cheese because I though that it would be really great combined with the cardamom and brown sugar. Was I ever right. This was so delicious and rich tasting. Yes it was a little messy but have you ever really eaten puff pastry when it wasn't? The whole family loved these and they were gone in one sitting!

Mango Pastry Puffs (printable recipe)


1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp water

Cheese filling:

1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
4 Tbsp brown sugar

Mango topping:

2 lg ripe mangoes, diced
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Unfold the pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface. Cut each sheet into 9 - 3 inch squares.

Place about 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets.In a small bowl beat egg yolk and water; brush over the pastry squares and bake as directed.

Mix the ricotta cheese with the cardamom and brown sugar. Set aside.

In a small sauce pan combine the mango with the brown sugar and cardamom.

Cook on low heat until bubbly and thickened.

Split the puff pastry and scoop on some of the ricotta mixture. Top that with a scoop of the mango.

Place the top back on the pastry square and enjoy!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Daring Bakers do it again! Cheesecake Lollipops!

What a wonderful and fun recipe this was. Out of all of the things that I have made for the Daring Bakers challenges this is probably one of my favorites. The only problem that I had with this one was the time frame. I really thought I had until the end of the month. Thank goodness yesterday I registered with the new Daring Baker Forum and saw that I needed to post today!!! Needless to say I got started right away!

This recipe was easy, straight forward and delicious! The only problem I had was the length of time it took to bake. But I had checked out the forum and I was prepared for this. I made mine in a 9 inch square pan and it took close to 75 minutes to be set properly. The great thing about this though is once it was set it was a breeze to work with. I was able to hand roll them into balls with virtually no trouble at all. I did not have lollipop sticks so I used 6 inch bamboo skewers.

Hosting this month’s event is Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah from Taste and Tell. Thank you Elle and Deborah for hosting D.B. this month.

Cheesecake Pops (Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth.)

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionery coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

For toppings I used cinnamon graham crumbs, chopped pistachio's and assorted sprinkles.

Would I make this again?: I loved the cheesecake recipe so I would definitely make a cheesecake using this recipe but the lollipops...maybe not. It was pretty messy and I had 2 sets of little hands trying to help me and it just ended up really messy although they had a ton of fun doing it. To try and transport them somewhere would be almost impossible as well. They tasted great though and as I said I LOVED the cheesecake!

Once again thanks Daring Bakers for taking me out of my comfort zone (which right now isn't too hard)!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Beans, beans the magical fruit....

Black Beans and Rice with toppings

You know how it goes don't you? Anyway that is what I made for dinner tonight. After 2 days of field day at the girls new school, karate and ice skating I needed something simple to start off the weekend! My inspiration for this meal came from one of my blogging friends Robin of Caviar and Codfish. I had really wanted to make her version of black beans and then serve them with rice and the toppings that we like to use. But as what usually happens to me when I have too many things going on I can't cook let alone follow a recipe!!!

First thing this morning I put the beans in a pot to soak them (yep-I wasn't suppose to do that). I then left the house for a fun filled field day for my oldest daughter.

Field day fun!

I stayed until lunch time and then ran some badly neglected errands and then went on home to start the beans and make some pico de gallo to top this with. I picked up the pot to drain the water out and as I was pouring I was reading the recipe (yep-wasn't suppose to do that either!). I stopped pouring and managed to save about half of the water so I just added some more and chopped up the onion and minced the garlic and put the pot onto boil away.

T. was expected home around 5 so I wanted most of the stuff done so we could sit and enjoy a cocktail before we had to finish off dinner. I turned the beans up top thicken them a bit and went to get the bottle of sherry. Bottle of Sherry?????? I could have sworn we had one. So anyway at this point there was no way I could follow Robin's recipe so here is her recipe with the changes that I made...Sorry Robin. I have to try this one again.

Simple Black Beans

1 lb dried black beans (picked over and rinsed but not soaked-yep I soaked them)
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
3 Tbsp olive oil
8 cups of water (I used 1/2 of the water that I soak them in and added 4 more cups)
1 1/2 tsp salt

I did okay up to here but this is where I went my own way Robin's called for Sherry, Soy Sauce, Balsamic Vinegar and hot Chinese chili paste. If you would like to follow Robin's recipe or just to check out her great pictures follow this Robin's Simple Black Beans or you could just continue with mine.

1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

  • Soak the beans for at least 6 hrs in about 8 cups of water. Dump out half of the water and add 4 cups of water (or skip this bone head move of mine and just start the pot to boil!!!)
  • Add the onion, garlic, oil salt, oregano, cumin, and garlic powder.
  • Simmer with the lid on for at least 2 hrs or until the beans are nice and tender. Remove the lid to reach your desired consistency.
  • Stir in the vinegar
  • Serve over rice with a variety of toppings.
We love the beans and rice with jalapenos, onions, pico de gallo and sour cream. This makes a nice hearty, low maintenance dinner!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fried Chicken-the best medicine around!

Delicious homemade buttermilk fried chicken breast with a huge salad!

Holy Crap-have I been sh** on a lot in the last couple of days! I'm sure this happens to everyone at one point or another and that is fine but I sure hate it when it happens to me!

I have as of today moved both of my children from a private Montessori school to a public elementary one. Who really cares why and it really doesn't have anything to do with a food blog now does it??? But my point is this has sucked up a lot of time and energy that I have. I am a firm believer that when you cook or bake you really need to be "feeling the love" or your food just will not be the way you want it to be. Well did I ever get a lesson on this in the last couple of days!!!

This is the cake that my daughter choose from Publix.

Yesterday was my oldest daughters last day at her old school and I had learned my lesson by the youngest daughters move to not even try to bake a cake. Last time I made 2 before I sent T. to Publix to get a cake that I would serve to people. This time I just sent T. to Publix to get a cake without me making any attempt at all to bake one. It was such a good thing that I did that so that I had so much more time to screw up everything else that I touched! Here is a brief of my day yesterday:
  • Woke up and realized I needed yogurt...at 7 I started the milk boiling so that we would have yogurt by 8 last night. Forgot the yogurt and found it still in the yogurt maker at 8 this morning when I was packing lunches and looking for the yogurt!
  • Made pizza dough for dinner last night but mixed up the AP Flour and the Whole Wheat flour so had to dump that down the drain and start all over.
  • Got home from skating last night and I was finishing up my pizza dinner when I realized that I needed bread for the girls lunches in the morning. Started a loaf of bread at 8:30 PM and it takes 3 hrs and 50 min. for it to bake. That was fun!
  • My cleaner called me to reschedule the cleaning from Friday to Thursday and then proceeded to chew me out because my house was too messy...WTF isn't that why I have you????????
  • The skating competition that my daughter is in on a couple of weeks from now have informed me that I need to donate 2 hours of my time to the competition or my daughter will not be able to compete. I told them to take my name off of the list then where I have signed up to bring juice to fill up about 250 people please. Needless to say I get a free pass on the volunteering!
  • Started on my entry in the Royal Foodie Joust but gave up half way through. Need to wait for "the love".
I guess at this point I could go on and on...but really who cares. I decided that I needed Fried Chicken for dinner. Sometime you just need that. I sure hit the spot. Served up with a great big salad with lettuce, poblano peppers, onion, tomatoes, blue cheese and dressing. It really doesn't get mush better than this...I think I can face the world again tomorrow renewed for a whole new battle!!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Dinner last night and a walk through my backyard.

Yesterday was one of those really great days that you could spend a lifetime trying to recreate. We just hung out and relaxed during the morning and then T. decided that we would go on a river cruise. So off we went with the girls so excited. We live in one of the best boating areas in the country and very rarely do we ever take advantage of it so it was really nice to be able to do this.

We went on the Peace River which is a little north of us. The weather was incredible. Hot, sunny, nice breeze blowing. Couldn't ask for anything better!

After the boat we went to one of the river side restaurants and enjoyed a drink while the girls ate and appetizer. Good time had by all.

Back to reality and dinner. We were running reallyshort on food so this was really just using up some odds and ends. I think I will call it...Dinner!


1/2 shallot
1 whole head of garlic (we like a like a lot of garlic)-thin sliced
1 C. chopped zucchini
1/3 C. chopped basil
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 ounces of goat cheese
1/4 C of cream
salt and pepper
about 20 grape tomatoes
Spinach and Asagio cheese ravioli (Costco or you can use any pasta with this)

  • Heat olive oil in pan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until the garlic is nicely browned or toasted.
  • add the zucchini and cook through.
  • Add the grape tomatoes and stir until they are heated through.
  • add the goat cheese and then the basil.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the cream at the very end to just bring it all together nicely!
  • Serve over cooked pasta.
This was one of the easiest and quickest meals I have made in a while also one of my new favorites. Nice and fresh tasting but elegant looking as well!

I thought I would share with you what spring looks like in SW Florida...at least in my backyard!

My future guacamole source...my very own avocado tree!

This is my mango tree!

Mama dove and her rapidly growing baby. I swear she has not left her nest in months!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Birthday Dinner!

Our grilled Yellow Tail Snapper with our version of Latholemono

Last year for my birthday we rented a Hummer Limo and took a bunch of my friends to dinner. This year I opted for something much quieter and more intimate. Even after having numerous friends volunteer to take the girls for me so that T. and I could go out I still wanted a nice quiet meal at home. I also couldn't see any reason to deprive the girls of a night they were soooooooo excited about.

Very fresh Yellow Tail Snapper

For dinner I told T. that I wanted some Snapper. We are fortunate living here that we have an abundance of seafood at all times. Snapper is one of my faves. Locally we are able to get Yellow Tail and Mangrove Snapper. When T. went to the fish market the Yellow Tail was the freshest. The 2 fish that he brought home had just been munching on shrimp last night!!! The inspiration for this meal was my friends Peter's blog, Kalofagas - Greek Food & Beyond. Last week he posted a grilled Red Snapper with Latholemono. His pictures made the fish look incredible and it was all I could think about for days (yeah...how sad is my life that that is what over takes my thoughts at times??? Some people get songs...I get recipes!)

Anyway we had the Yellow Tail Snapper as well as a large salad with feta and home made dressing. To me this was a perfect meal. We ate outside by the pool and as soon as we were done the girls went out to the play set to play so we got to sit and enjoy. I tried fish eyes for the first time and had free reign over the cheeks. It was an incredible evening and one that would not have been anywhere near the same in a restaurant!

Salad with feta cheese and poblano peppers

Latholemono (our version-definitely not true but it was what we had fresh and available)

1/2 shallot (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp fresh Greek oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp crushed pink peppercorns
juice of 2 small lemons
1/4 olive oil

Place all ingredients in a container with a lid and shake well. When the fish is done cooking on the grill simply pour this over the fish and serve! (Peter, I will follow your recipe to a tee next time as promised!)

One of my favorite wines with dinner (thanks Sarah!)

I won - the dog got NONE of this cake!

Sorry about the flash but I loved that way the layers were - lemon curd, buttercream and fresh berries on each layer!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!!!

It looks even better this time around!

Yep, that dreaded day that happens once a year is here again. You know the one where you are made painfully aware by each phone call or email that you get telling you that you are a whole year older in just one day! Honestly I had a great morning though...my oldest daughter wrote me an "autobiography" on my life and my youngest one wrote me a song and sang it and everything. What more could a Mom want...well maybe not getting this at 6:00 in the morning. But regardless it has been wonderful. I have opted for a quiet night at home with a nice grilled fresh fish and salad and some really great birthday cake!

Remember the cake that my dog ate? Dorie's Perfect Party Cake that I made for the Daring Bakers' challenge? I made it again. I was just so devastated that I really couldn't get a good taste of it that I had to try again! I also added some lemon curd to the layers so now each layer has butter cream, sliced strawberries and lemon curd...I can't wait for dinner!!! It has turned out great but the real test will be to see if it lasts until after dinner or will the dog win again????

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mexican Style Chicken Soup

Rough chopped guacamole to be used to top the soup!

Yes, yes, yes. I will use any excuse to make a pot of soup. Beloieve it or not it has been relatively cool here in Florida so I thought it a good time to dust off my suop pot and get to work.

As luck would have it I had a left over shicken carcass from last weekend so I plopped that in a pot of water with some onion, garlic, salt, pepper, dried parsley and dried oregano. I let this simmer away on the stove all day (warmed up the house and made it smell great as well!).

The girls and I went to meet a couple of friends for an afternoon around their pool and then came home to finish off the dinner. I made a real rough version of guacamole. I had 2 ripe avacado, tomatoes, fresh cilantro, onions, a couple roasted jalapeños and 1 fresh. This all got mixed together with some lime juice, salt and pepper. We ladled the coup into our bowls added some precooked rice that we had and then topped it all with the guacamole!

Doesn't that look great?

This soup was incredible. Nice, light, fresh tasting and just full of memories of summer! I will definitely make this one again. Even in the hot, hot, hot summer!

As always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

So this is what happens when you don't follow the directions!

Still good enough to eat and now with half the fat!

In my enthusiasm to make cookies with my youngest daughter I guess I missed all of the ingredients. I have made these cookies before and we all loved them, so before going over to a friends house for a nice afternoon around the pool, we decided to make them and take them with us.

My oldest daughter, true to form, laid in bed and read while my youngest and I baked away. The cookie batter looked great if maybe a little too dough like. I just pushed on. I wanted cookies baked and ready to go!

The first batch went into the oven. I used a small scoop so they would all be uniform and perfect looking. As I looked into the oven nearing the ending of the baking time I realized that something must have gone wrong. I looked over the directions and the ingredients. It was then I realized the error of my ways!!! I had only added 1/2 cup of butter when I needed a whole cup. Needless to say they didn't spread at all and are very puffy cookies. Oh well now we have diet cookies (half the fat)!!!

See how puffy and small they are?

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever! (just be sure to follow the recipe!)

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Freezing Tomatoes

Bright, fresh tomato puree!

By now all of you know that I am really, really saddened by the ending of our growing season. I have found several ways to prolong it but shortly I am going to be supermarket bound again! Yesterday though i took the girls to our local U-Pick and as I was at the cash desk checking out they had some irregular tomatoes (smaller ones than what you would normally buy) for real cheap. I bought 2 baskets of them knowing that I would pull out my handy ricer and get them frozen for a meal later on down the road when nothing but fresh, homegrown tomatoes would do!

I wanted to share with you the process because most of you are just coming into the summer season. Now, I have absolutely no idea where you would get this type of equipment but my MIL in rural Pennsylvania got it for me years ago. If you can get something like it they are generally called fruit and vegetable mills, click here for a reasonable example you will use it over and over.

Here is the whole process (took us about 10 minutes in all):
Clean and halve the tomatoes

The crank on the side gets turned and the tomatoes are removed of their skin and seeds. See all those tomatoes I got for $3.00?

The skin and the seeds get pushed out here and the puree goes to the other side.

I have a canner but this is the way I like to freeze my tomatoes. I simply put the puree in the bags and toss them into the freezer.

We will use these in a simple spaghetti type sauce or maybe to cook a chicken in. Whatever we do end up using these for the couple of minutes it took to do this was sooooo worth it!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Guess where we went yesterday?

I cannot believe that it is already Monday night! In my defense the girls are on Spring Break this week and the time is just flying by.
Yes...we went to SeaWorld yesterday! One of the incredible things about living in SW Florida is our proximity to sooooo many wonderful things. We have the beaches (I have a new car and don't want sand in it yet!!!), great weather, and yes lots of theme parks! We decided Saturday night that we would drive to Orlando. It is at the most about a 3 hour drive so for a fun filled day it really isn't too bad. I made all of the arrangements and we left about 6:30 in the morning. The girls were so surprised. It made for a very long day from which the parents are still recovering!!!


Today we basically hung around the house today just hanging out. I made dinner and had it all ready to go for when T. got home. I made my favorite dinner-Roasted garlic, tomato and basil with pasta. I went to the u-Pick and got my tomatoes and used the basil from my little container garden out front. The roasted garlic is incredible! I also bought a bunch of tomatoes that they were selling cheap so I could seed and skin them and freeze them for sometime later in the summer when I needed tomatoes and couldn't get them! That's my job tonight after we get the girls down!

My youngest in the pool

We spent the day riding our bikes and swimming in the pool...well the girls were swimming and I watched.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, April 11, 2008

Yep - finally another recipe!

Doesn't that look fresh and yummy?

The last couple of days have just been crazy. My youngest daughter is training for a skating competition so it means a few extra visits to the skating rink and then with just a bunch of busy days I haven't really been cooking but just throwing meals together. Granted they have been very healthy meals but thrown together all the same so I haven't been taking any pictures or trying any new recipes.

Yesterday I was determined to get back on track. I went to the Ft Myers Farmer's Market. It is a "green market" but not organic. This means that there are no crafts and stuff. It only sells what has been grown. I so miss Worden Farm Farmer's Market but enough of my whining! I was able to get some things that I had needed - local oranges, mangoes, lettuce, shallots and information. So I guess I need to at least support the local farmers at this market even though most of the stuff was imported. They need the money to plant in the fall and we all have to make a living somehow!

A couple of days ago though Robin at Caviar and Codfish (one of my favorite blogs) posted a recipe that I knew I had to try. Citrus Sunflower Green Bean Salad. It was using green beans and blood oranges. I had yellow beans and just regular oranges but the flavor was incredible. The only thing different I would say was that mine looked a bit bland compared to the vibrant colors of Robin's!

Segmenting the oranges for the bean salad. This is the easiest way to remove all the pith and skin. Once you have them skinned you just cut along side the membrane to remove the segments!

Citrus Sunflower Green Bean Salad

serves 6-8//adapted from Techniques of Healthy Cooking

For the salad:

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 3 blood oranges, cut into segments *You need 4 oranges total in this recipe
  • 1 sweet white onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces salted and roasted sunflower seeds
  • salt and pepper

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • *1 blood orange, juiced
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 shallot cloves, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper

Cook beans in boiling water for a few minutes, until barely tender. Drain and run under cold water to cool.

Combine beans, blood orange segments, onions, sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Season a little with salt and pepper.

To make the vinaigrette, combine cornstarch with 1 teaspoon water and mix to make a “slurry.” Set aside. Bring stock to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the slurry and stir until the stock thickens, about 2 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Combine with the remaining ingredients and whisk well.

Pour vinaigrette over the bean mixture. Toss and serve. Can be made a day ahead of time. The leftover salad will last in the fridge for a few days.

I served this with a nice fresh salad with some home made dressing and blue cheese crumbles and a roasted chicken. Another foodie friend Heather at Gild the Voodoolily, had just roasted a chicken the night before and I thought I would use some of her tips. I always butter and garlic the skin but she suggested putting the butter and the garlic under the skin so I did this and coated the skin with olive oil, salt and poultry seasoning. I was soooo good and went perfectly with the salads!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Not just sitting here waiting...

This is my future pasta with tomato, basil and roasted garlic meal!

See...lots more coming!

Okay, now after yesterday's cranky ass post I wanted to show you that I am not the kind of person to just sit around and b****** about something without doing something productive to help fix my problem. I decided that as the summer got closer I needed to figure out how I was going to be able to keep eating the fresh vegetables that I enjoy so much. T. and I came up with a movable garden idea. The theory behind this is that we are now able to protect what we are growing by moving it to shelter when the sun gets too hot or our afternoon monsoons start! Unfortunately we had to do this right in the front entry area of our house so now our neighbors can all see how perfectly crazed we are!

So far though everything is doing very well and we have been able to keep it completely organic. We are able to hand water them and keep a real close eye on the herbs. The tomatoes have flourished to a point that we never thought possible. We always thought that they needed depth for their root system but we have 2 plants planted in a large size window box and they are blooming like crazy at this point. If we are able to succeed with these we are going to try several other heat loving crops like eggplant, bell peppers and zucchini.

2 different types of lettuce (one is red leaf and the other I forget) and onions growing around the sides.

Green Leaf Lettuce with onions

Red Leaf lettuce
Lots of basil, Greek oregano, cilantro and parsley!

Two nice healthy tomatoes!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A rant about a bit of a dilemma I have

This was what I was getting back in February!

I have been struggling with a bit of a dilemma. May not seem to huge to everyone but I think some people are going to understand this very well. I just wish I could find a way to change this instead of just b******* about it!

I have spent the winter eating locally, seasonally and organically. I have been able to do this very cheaply and without much effort thanks due to the Worden Farm Farmer's Market that I have been going to every week since December. I have gotten some beautiful, fresh produce. They are no longer though. In South Florida our growing season is just about over. Yeah you can get strawberries, tomatoes and several other things but I want it all.

I want zucchini, eggplant, lettuce (nice, soft bursting with flavor lettuce), swiss chard, rhubarb, asparagus etc...(you get my point) but I can't in all good conscience buy this stuff. If you walk into your local grocery store you will find that almost all of the produce that they have there is from someplace else and I don't mean the neighboring state of Georgia or Alabama. I am talking Chile, Argentina, Mexico!!! This really ticks me off. Why does my food have to travel an average of 1600 miles and from a foreign country to get to me. Talk about leaving a "carbon footprint"???!!! I know up north things are starting to pop up. Why can't I get some of that???? I would be happy to buy things from other states in the U.S. Hell, I would buy from Canada just give me the options.

I am now having to pay an outrageous amount of money for all the things that I want that are organic. Most of these things have traveled from California to get to me but at least then I know that I am not getting any pesticides that are illegal to use in this country. Yes...some of the countries that we import our produce from use pesticides that are illegal to use here but they have no such laws governing them. This whole things sucks to me! I am trying to feed my family the best that I can possibly get and I can't even find it!

I guess maybe I was just so spoiled during our growing season and now I am seeing what all of you living up North have to deal with all winter. I have never been as conscious of this before this year so I guess that is also why it is hitting me so hard.

Okay, now here is my apology. I am sorry for not posting a recipe but at least I wasn't standing in front of you bi***** about this (So sorry T.). You could have stopped reading...poor T. doesn't stand a chance!!!


Monday, April 7, 2008

Where did the weekend go???

Wow...come Friday last week I couldn't believe that the week was finished and we were starting into the weekend and now that isn't Monday I can't believe that the weekend is over. Is this just me or is everyone feeling like this???????

Nothing really spectacular on the food front. Friday night I made a new recipe but it sucked so I ended up having to take everyone for ice cream to help fill those empty tummies. Saturday night T made Eggplant Parmesan but I have already posted that numerous times!!! Last night all we had was leftover Eggplant Parmesan (always better the next day!) and a nice beautiful summer salad!

One thing though that I have been meaning to post forever is a meal that T. aunt made and emailed me about a while ago. Sorry Aunt Janet things take me forever to get to!!!

This is the email that came with the pictures and it looked so great!!! Thanks again Aunt Janet and can't wait to see everyone this summer!!!

I had to share this with you. Struggling with what to do for dinner today (we don't do Sunday soup), I decided to try your PASTA WITH FRESH TOMATO & BASIL. Since I had not planned this meal, I had to work with what I had. I used your recipe to come up with this. G. called it a Tuscan, style dinner. I had no plum tomatoes, so I used something even better than the farmers market. Tomatoes from our own garden. I had them in the freezer. I had never done the garlic in the oven, so that was a real treat for me. I wish I had taken a picture of that, it was soooo beautiful. G. is a meat man, so I roasted a chicken, rubbed with sea salt & garlic powder in the oven. I also had it covered with my garden tomatoes. After it cooked, I added the juice to my tomato basil sauce. What a treat!!!!! It was so different than most tomato sauces that I make. G. & T. couldn't get enough!!!

You have no idea how great this email was for me! I inspired someone how is a really, really good cook to try something new! What a great feeling and if you have never cooked a chicken in tomato sauce you haven't really lived!!! Anyway onto the pics...

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, April 4, 2008

Split Pea Soup

I posted about this split pea soup back in February and have been thinking about it ever since. I loved this soup. It has a clean, fresh taste about it that is hard to describe. T. is still convinced that I have put some ham or bacon in it. I swear I haven't. The only non vegetarian thing that I have done to this is to add chicken stock for some of the water.

I found this recipe on Heidi Swanson's blog 101 Cookbooks. If you haven't checked it out before check it out now. She is a vegetarian so all of her recipes are without meat but the substitutions she makes are incredible. Very well rounded vegetarian meals!

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup (Heidi of 101 Cookbooks)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped (I added 3 cloves of garlic as well)
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 cups dried split green peas, picked over and rinsed
5 cups water (I substituted 3 cup of the water with homemade chicken stock)
juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve the zest)

a few pinches of smoked paprika
more olive oil to drizzle

Add olive oil to a big pot over med-high heat. Stir in onions and salt and cook until the onions soften, just a minute or two. Add the split peas and water. Bring to a boil, dial down the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas are cooked through (but still a touch al dente). Using a large cup or mug ladle half of the soup into a bowl and set aside. Using a hand blender (or regular blender) puree the soup that is still remaining in the pot. Stir the reserved (still chunky) soup back into the puree - you should have a soup that is nicely textured. If you need to thin the soup out with more water (or stock) do so a bit at a time. Stir in the lemon juice and taste. If the soup needs more salt, add more a bit at a time until the flavor of the soup really pops.

Ladle into bowls or cups, and serve each drizzled with olive oil and topped with a good pinch of smoked paprika and a touch of lemon zest.

Serves 4 to 6.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!