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Thursday, March 31, 2011

BLT/ Chicken Salad--Favorite Kitchen Tools, Part II

I thought I would continue with my series of posts about favorite kitchen tools.

I've narrowed it down to two, but I'm having trouble deciding which one gets top billing.

So I've made an executive decision to keep both tools as number two on my favorites list.  I even came up with a recipe that uses both! 

So, here are the favorite tools, in no specific order:
My citrus press.

No brand name, adorned only with a "Made in Taiwan" sticker, I purchased this almost twenty years ago from the now-defunct "Kitchen, Etc." store.

Before I had this juicer, I used either a hand-held reamer or a counter-top reamer or an electric juicer where you held the fruit on the reamer as it spun around. 

All of them made my hands icky-sticky.

And with all of them, the juice had to be run through a strainer, to remove the seeds.

Sometimes I would just halve the lemons and manually squeeze the juice out.  Which only served to remind me how weak the muscles in my hands are.

And then I got this baby.  You just halve your lemon/lime/orange, place it on the little round metal reamer, bring the lever down and the big dome comes down and squishes the juice out of your fruit.  The juice drains out the bottom without the seeds, which are too big to get through the little holes that the juice drains through.

I am always banishing the items on my kitchen counter to the dungeon (a.k.a. my basement) because I have no use for dust-collectors.  This item, I'm happy to say, remains on my counter 24/7.  Not only do I use it several times a week when cooking meals, it's very busy in the summertime making fresh-squeezed lemonade.


My julienne peeler.  It looks like a regular vegetable peeler, but as you can see in this close-up, there are tiny little teeth in the blade

Use it like a vegetable peeler, but instead of thick peels you get fine little julienne strips.

The following recipe calls for both tools.  If you don't have these tools, don't sweat it!  Use whatever method you would normally use for juicing the limes that this recipe calls for (or use purchased lime juice), and grate your carrots instead.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

No, not the heat of summer, although that would be my request.

My daughter requested buffalo chicken sandwiches and I happily obliged.

How much heat can you stand? 

My trusty little sidekick has positioned himself behind me, always at the ready to pounce on fallen tidbits.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

You Decide!

Until I started this blog, I rarely measured ingredients.  Many of the dishes I cook are from memory, and I just throw the ingredients in until it "looks" right.

Even when I'm following a written recipe, I estimate the measurements.  I hardly ever follow a recipe to the letter.  I'm always adding more, omitting, substituting.

(Except when I'm baking.  It's very important to correctly measure your ingredients when baking, so that your finished product isn't too dry, too moist, too flat, too hard or too scary-looking.)

Now that I'm blogging, I'm measuring.  I need to make sure that I'm writing down the correct amounts.  Because I care about you.  There, I've said it.  Awwwwww.

But I encourage you to think for yourself and be a rebel.  Switch it out if you don't like it.

In the following recipe, for example, use beef, or shrimp, or pork, if you're sick of chicken.
Use angel hair instead of linguine. Use rice instead of pasta.

Use broccoli and carrots instead of peppers and cucumbers.  Use ground black pepper instead of sugar.  JUST KIDDING, I wanted to see if you were paying attention.

And when your version of this recipe turns out so much better than mine, leave me a comment that says, "na-NAH nuh-NAH-na, MINE is better than YOURS is!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Grilling, Finally!!

Sorry for the long absence!

Finding the time to blog is not so hard, remembering to take pictures as I cook is the hard part. 

I'm not sure you would go for it if I wrote out a recipe without a picture to accompany it.  When it comes to recipes, a picture IS worth a thousand words.......substituting "Mmmmm, the final product looks fabulous, trust me" at the end of the recipe instead of a photo probably wouldn't go over too well in blogland!

So here are a couple of recipes, with pictures.

First, we have your basic steak and (maybe not so basic) potatoes.  I am not going to give you any cooking instructions for the steak, all I did was grill it.  Yes, after 3 months buried under 3 feet of snow, my grill finally made an appearance and my family very happily devoured grilled steak.

And if you feel that you really must have some hints for a delicious grilled steak, I will offer you this:

  You absolutely can't go wrong with tenderloin steak (also known as filet mignon)

In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Terrific was home so he did the grilling, freeing me up to stay inside and focus on the potatoes.

I plucked this recipe out of  Rachael Ray's 365:No Repeats cookbook.  I've changed some of the ingredients and quantities around a bit.  Can't help it, tweaking and tinkering is part of who I am.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

If I were Irish, I would probably post a recipe or two to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

But I'm not Irish.  Not a drop.

I always celebrate St. Patrick's Day by listening to my favorite Italian songs.  If you are also so inclined, I would recommend Lou Monte's CD, "Songs for Pizza Lovers."  Very festive, brings me back to my childhood.  I kid you, not.

Right now, I have my Italian station playing on Pandora.  It will play all day long, and drive my kids insane.

Do you listen to Pandora?  LOVE it.

Almost as much as I love this chicken and mushroom recipe.

(I am the only one in my family that eats mushrooms, so I only use about 1/2 lb of mushrooms when I make this.  If you happen to have a family full of mushroom lovers, use as many mushrooms as you can stand!  You may have to add an additional tablespoon or two of butter to saute the extra mushrooms in.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie. I'm Fighting Spring Fever with Comfort Food!

Mid-March.  For me, this is the worst weather of the year in New England. 

Freezing temperatures in January?  Psssh. In the winter I expect the cold, the snow, the ice.

After the 60-degree heatwave of a couple of weeks ago, it's hard get back to the 40-degree weather we have now.
Even a spring-y bunch of flowers doesn't help.  It only makes me wish this vase could be full of flowers from my garden like it is in the summer.

So to banish my spring fever, I'm going to focus on cooking a meal that is going to disappear from my summer menu.  Something that is perfect "comfort food" for the winter, when I don't mind spending the time in my kitchen, slicing, chopping, boiling and baking.

A menu item requested this week by one of my daughters.

She asked for it just in time.  The outdoor grill is no longer buried under three feet of snow, and it's only a matter of time before I'll be cooking outdoors.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Looks Fancy, But It's Easy!

Looks can be deceiving.  Today's recipe looks like it could be complicated, but it's soooo easy.  Trust me.!

Chicken Saltimbocca Roll-Ups
  • 4 large Boneless Chicken Breasts, sliced in half for 8 cutlets
  • 8 whole fresh sage leaves, plus 1 finely chopped
  • 4 very thin slices prosciutto
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  •  2 tablespoons flour
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Friday, March 11, 2011

Meatless Friday #1

I've prepared plenty of meals without meat, with no stress involved.  Then why do I feel sort of panicked and indecisive on Fridays during Lent when planning meatless meals?

The only answer I have is that I prefer to do something when I want to do it rather than be told that I have to do it.

The following recipe is one of my favorite tomato sauces, no meat involved, and at the top of my go-to list for a Lenten Friday night.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Favorite Kitchen Tools, Part I

I have lots of fun little kitchen tools, and I use them all. NOT.

Recently, I started throwing some of my kitchen tools away.  Like the little cheese slicer that is supposed to produce even slices of cheese from the blade that's under the little roller that's supposed to glide gracefully over the top of the chunk of cheese.  Sound confusing?  It was.   All it did was make a mess.  Wish I took a picture of it before I tossed it so you could see it and know to avoid adding it to your collection of kitchen tools.

But I'm getting off the subject, which is supposed to be favorite kitchen tools.
Like this.

No, it's not a little wooden barbell.  It's my mini tart-shaper.  I purchased it at a little Pampered Chef soiree I went to about 15 years ago.  I don't know if they are made by any other manufacterer and/or available for purchase anywhere else, but if you can't find one you should consider purchasing one the next time you go to a Pampered Chef party.  It is so much better than trying to shape tart shells with your fingers or knuckles.

I have been happily making jelly tarts ever since.

This recipe will make approximately 24 jelly tarts.  I doubled it so I could share with a friend.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Easy-Peasy Pizzadillas

Always a hit in my house, these little concoctions are what happens when you combine some pizza ingredients and cook them quesadilla-style.

My son likes pepperoni, one of my daughters likes very little sauce, another daughter likes extra cheese, I like LOTS of basil.  (I also like LOTS of sauteed mushrooms, but I am the only one in my family that eats mushrooms so I usually don't take the extra time to saute myself a skillet full of mushrooms.)  Mr. Terrific likes pepperoni.  And extra cheese.  And basil.  He eats it all.  Which is good, because you don't really want leftovers with these quesadillas (they don't refrigerate well; the tortilla absorbs the liquid from the tomatoes and they get mushy.  They don't reheat well AT ALL.)  So make sure you eat them all up!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Outback Steakhouse Alice Springs Chicken and Raspberry Coffeecake

This weekend wasn't a total waste in the kitchen.  I made two recipes that are worth making again.

First, we have Outback Steakhouse Alice Springs Chicken.  How do I happen to have this recipe, you ask?  It's in a recipe book that I have, "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes" by Todd Wilbur.  I have had this book since it was published in 1997. This week is when I finally got around to making this recipe.  But I probably will repeat this fairly soon, because it was outstanding!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I almost named this blog "Feeling Fran-tic."  Because that is how I frequently feel.  As much as I love to cook, it's hard to enjoy it when you're pressed for time and trying to fit meal preparation into a busy schedule.

And I was extremely FRAN-tic last night when my dog got sprayed by a skunk at 10:30!  Twenty-plus years of dog ownership, first time I ever had to deal with that.  But I digress.  I will save that story for another post.

I probably make two or three soups a week, to store in the fridge for those nights when I don't have a lot of time to spend preparing dinner.  It's easy to heat up (and in most cases I find that soups taste better the day after they're made when all the flavors have had time to mix), and combined with a sandwich (using your panini grill if you have one) you'll have a great meal with minimal prep time.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken, for Sheila

My first post!  Sheila would like a recipe for Chicken, Broccoli and Ziti that's "not too heavy." 

Ahhhhh, that's the tricky part, "not too heavy."  About fifteen years ago, I was at a party and a friend of mine was going back to the buffet table for another helping of chicken/broccoli/ziti because it was so good.  I agreed with her that it was good and wondered aloud, "Why doesn't it taste like this when I make it at home?"  Her quick reply:  "Well, I think we just cringe to use that much oil and butter and cream at home."  AHA!  She. Was. Right. 

Here's my attempt at making pasta with chicken and broccoli, attempting to minimize the calories in the sauce while maximizing the flavor.