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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Apricot Chicken Sandwiches

The summer heat makes me lazy. 

I'm not complaining.  Summer is supposed to be hot, and I love it. 

But I don't like spending a lot of time in my kitchen when the weather is beautiful.  I'd rather spend time outdoors, and only head into the kitchen to throw together the quickest dinner possible.

You may remember the tarragon chicken salad and the chicken caesar salad where I proclaimed my love of the convenience of preparing meals with store-bought rotisserie chickens. 

I'd like to say that purchasing a rotisserie chicken is a weekly habit in the summer heat. But there's the cashier at B.J.'s who asked me on Tuesday, "Weren't you here yesterday?" who would spill the beans about my sometimes-twice-weekly cooking shortcut.

The rotisserie chickens at B.J.'s are $4.99 every day.  It's just too easy when I'm out and about to stop in and quickly pick up a chicken.  Well, maybe not so quickly.  They are all the way in the back of the store.  And it's a big store. 

And then there's this. My impulse purchase from Tuesday. 

Impulse purchases can be dangerous, but they are especially dangerous at B.J.'s.  At a regular supermarket, an impulse purchase might set you back a couple of dollars.  At B.J.'s, with their warehouse-sized packages, those impulse purchases can defeat the purpose of going there to save a couple of dollars on a chicken.

I swear I had my shopping blinders on, I was focused on getting the chicken and getting out of the store.  I went all the way to the back of the store, got the chicken, and I was about halfway to the front of the store and there was this huge display of these cases of wine coolers and it just stopped me in my tracks.

Maybe it was the pretty colors, maybe it was the catchy names--who can refuse a drink named "Jamaican Me Happy?"--but I just had to buy a case.  (For the record, "Jamaican Me Happy" was very good.  And "Lime Melonade" ain't too shabby, either.)

Anyway, back to the chicken.  I like to pull the meat off of it when I get home because 1). maybe it's just me, but I think the meat is easier to remove while it's still warm and 2). taking the meat off the chicken in advance saves time later down the road when you're preparing your meal.  Not that I think it really saves time to prep in advance, it's just that it's nice to have it done in advance, sort of like ironing your clothes before you hang them in your closet so that they're already ironed when you go to wear them, as opposed to getting dressed and then realizing that the clothes you want to wear aren't ironed and you wished that you had ironed them already because you're in too much of a hurry to want to iron them now.  Bad analogy, I know.  I'll just stop and get right to the recipe.

But first I'll give you the playlist.  It's a bit shorter than it usually is, because if you've (ahem) prepped your chicken in advance, these sandwiches are very quick to prepare!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sometimes, You Just Gotta Have Dessert

I made a dessert yesterday which could quite possibly be the best dessert ever.

I've made it before.  Every I make it, I wonder "Why don't I make this more often?"  Oh, yeah.  It's the calories.  But it's soooooo good!

Do yourself a favor.  Don't total up the caloric count of this delightfully decadent, deliciously indulgent delicacy.  Just don't. 

Sometimes, you just gotta have dessert.

Don't forget to listen to music while you bake!  I mentioned in yesterday's post , I prefer alternative music while I bake.  Here's what I listened to!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches with Satay Sauce

While I was cooking tonight's dinner, my son called me.  He's been in Italy for the last 11 days (but who's counting?) and will be home tomorrow.

I exclaimed, "Sean!  I've been thinking about you!  Listen!" and I held the phone to the speaker so he could hear Rosemary Clooney singing "Mambo Italiano." 

I like to listen to Italian music while I cook dinner, you know.  Or songs in English sung by Italian-Americans.   Or songs in English that remind me of songs that are sung in English by Italian-Americans.  Or songs in English sung by Americans who wish they were Italian.   Glad we got that squared away.

And then when I'm baking, I like to listen to alternative music.  Maybe because alternative music gives me a rush like a sugary high?  NOT to be confused with The Archie's "Sugar, Sugar."  I don't know what that song would put me in the mood to cook.

What is the point to all this rambling, you wonder?  I'm thinking that from now on, I will include a "cooking playlist" with my recipes.  To set the mood while you cook.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Favorite Scones

I apologize if two breakfast posts in a row seems a bit repetitive.........but I made these scones for breakfast this morning and thought they might be a tasty Father's Day treat if you're not up to making the Belgian Waffles I blogged about earlier this week.

I don't think I've ever met a scone I didn't like.

These are my absolute favorite.  They're a perfect combo of lemon, blueberry and cornbread.  What's not to love about that?

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Waffles for a Rainy Sunday Morning......or Father's Day!

Pouring rain on Sunday morning was the reason for my baseball game's cancellation.  (GO CARDINALS!!  I couldn't possibly have foreseen that this year's team, with EIGHT rookies, and only ONE third-year player, would have secured a bye through the first round of playoff games.  AND a win in our first game of bracket play.)

What did I do with a leisurely Sunday morning?  I made Belgian waffles!  Waffles, strawberry sauce and whipped cream all made from scratch.  Time consuming, yes, but sooooo worth it!  Would also make a perfect Father's Day breakfast.

This recipe is an easy last-minute go-to recipe because none of the ingredients are so unusual that you wouldn't have them on hand.   Well, I suppose fresh strawberries would be something that you might not have on hand, but it's easy to keep a bag of frozen strawberries in your freezer "just in case." 

I actually prefer to use frozen strawberries for this recipe, because you will be cooking them for the syrup. Once they are cooked, it's pretty hard to tell whether the berries are fresh or frozen.  Why waste your lovely fresh strawberries on a syrup that's going to taste great no matter what?  Save your fresh berries for snacking!  Frozen berries are definitely not for snacking.  Unless you like soft, mushy strawberries.  Hmmmm, I think I've beaten this point to death.  I will stop rambling now.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Twice-Baked Potatoes

I would love to be able to start a post with something other than ".........sorry for the long absence."

I have a gazillion excuses.  I think my top three would be: 1. I've been doing lots of gardening
2. My baseball team made the playoffs and 3. Boy, have I been doing lots of gardening.

Until yesterday, those excuses were valid.  We've had nothing but rain for the last two days, resulting in 1. No gardening and 2. Two cancelled baseball games.

So I've been able to spend more time cooking!  And, more importantly, devote time to taking pictures as I cook.

This potato recipe is extremely easy to prepare, but it does take time.  I suppose you could save time by cooking the potatoes in a microwave instead of baking them in the oven, but I don't think the skins would hold their shape very well if they were cooked in a microwave.

The most difficult thing about this recipe is remembering to put the potatoes in the oven for an hour in advance of your mealtime preparations.

Buy the biggest baking potatoes you can find!  You will be cutting the potatoes in half and one half is a very generous serving.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Think I'll Call It "Summer Cake"

Trying to come up with names for recipes is hard, man.

It should be catchy, snappy, fun..........and hopefully, informative. 

I struggled to come up with a name for this recipe.  "White Chocolate Cake with Fruit Filling and Fresh Fruit on Top with Cream Cheese Icing" was too long.

"WCC with Double-FF and CC Icing" was too vague.

The math geek in me loved "White C^2 + 2(F^2) + C^2 Icing = YUM!"

You'd have to know Italian to understand "Torta al Cioccolata Bianca con Frutta e Crema di Formaggio Glassa."

I finally came up with "Summer Cake."  Because I usually only make this cake during warm weather......when berries are sweetest, and a cool, icebox cake is totally refreshing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Giveaway Winners!!

After assigning numbers to the entrants for the cutting board giveaway, I went onto and used their random number generator to pick the winners.  Congratulations to Maureen and Anne!  Your cutting boards will be delivered today.

Unfortunately, I do not have a cooking post at this time--between taking care of my recuperating family member, gardening (will it ever get done?), and buying a new car--I've been sticking to tried and true recipes for the last few days.  Like the barbecued sirloin tips and pasta salad that I blogged about previously and the chicken, broccoli and pasta that started this whole blog. 

I'll be experimenting in the kitchen today, and if I'm happy with the outcome, I'll post the recipe tomorrow!

 I do feel the need, however, to post something more substantial than a short announcement of giveaway winners and my feeble excuse for not spending much time exploring new recipes.

So I decided to post about one of my other favorite things in life.  First and foremost, that would be my family, but they would never go for me talking about them.  Dang.  It would be so much fun for me to post my son's prom pictures from last week.  But he has forbidden me to publicly display them.

So I'm going to post about Gus.  He doesn't care if I post his picture! 

In the above photo, you can just see the corner of his dog frisbee.  It's his favorite new toy.

I've been the lucky owner of two gorgeous golden retrievers.....
Rosie was the first.......
..........and then Gracie.

Rosie never left our sides, never wanted to be alone, ever.
She can be found lurking,

more or less,

in pretty much.......

every picture we took....

from 1990 'til 2002.

And then there was Gracie.......

who never found a hat she couldn't rock.

What Rosie and Gracie had in common was their fetching ability.  Or more precisely, lack thereof.

They were great at retrieving.  They would bring anything to time. 

If they found a ball they'd bring it to me.  Okay, you wanna play?  I'd throw the ball..........and they'd look at me;  if they could have talked, I'm sure they would have said something like this, "Why did you fling that over there?  I just brought it to you!"  Sometimes, they would go get the ball a second time, but they wouldn't bring it to me, they would bring it to a spot where they would lie down next to it as if to say, "I need to keep it far from you so you don't pick it up and heave it again."

And I would very rarely throw a ball at them, expecting them to catch it.  The chance that the ball would hit them in the head was far more likely than the chance that it would be caught.

And then there's Gus.

He's the best throw-it-again-so-I-can-fetch-it, toss-it-high-so-I-can-catch-it dog I've ever owned.
He's so uber-focused on the ball--he never takes his eyes off it, he leaps to catch it, he trembles if I make him wait before I throw it.

Because of his leaping ability, I thought it would be fun to teach him to catch a frisbee.

I was sorta wrong.

I bought the frisbee last month.  The first time I showed it to him, he backed out of the room.  I'd leave it on the floor and he would avoid it.   Anytime the kids and I needed a break from him, we picked up the frisbee and Gus would promptly disappear.

Until this weekend.

On Saturday, my daughter brought the frisbee outside and put it on the ground.  Gus eventually picked it up and started running around with it in his mouth.  Eventually, it got to the point where we could throw it and he would bring it back to us.

Then we finally figured out how to throw it so that it would hover properly to give him time to jump up and catch it.

And this is what happened!

And this!