Sunday, September 30, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today I'm another day older and supposedly wiser? I love my birthdays. I love getting older and supposedly wiser. I've embraced my age. So far my 30's are, have been and will continue to be better than my 20's. I love that I'm getting gray hair. I love that the kids say 'sir' when I'm at the store/restaurant, etc. There's nothing 'sir' about me, but I love it!


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Simple Pork Marinade

Last night was a strange night. Nothing really out of the ordinary, just strange. I think the panic hit that I have a ton to do over the next two days and Thursday is out as I'll be at work until late for a performance. Which leaves me just 3-4 hours to accomplish a whole lot on Friday night.

And among that panic was...I GOTTA GET DINNER STARTED...which is funny because dinner couldn't have been any easier. The only reason for the panic; I needed to devote 5 minutes

We get started by making a marinade for some pork chops I had. The other day I was reading through Anne's Food and saw two tasty looking marinades. I went with the first one...for now. I'll try the other one later.

This marinade guideline is virtually the same as Anne's. One additional ingredient and approximate measures of the others.

To get us started we had the juice of 1 lemon, 3 TB soy sauce, 2 TB honey, 1 tsp chili powder (Chimayo in this case), 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced and 1/2 tsp of Chinese Five Spice.

Whisk all together and add the pork (chops or loin). Cover and walk away for at least an hour, four or more if you have the time.

Back to the panic of dinner and getting everything else done. I didn't have time to stop at the store to get any additional ingredients or side items. I used what we had. 1 green bell pepper, diced. 1 onion, diced. 2 potatoes, diced. Hash Browns it is! Saute the potatoes in some oil until they begin to take on some color. Season with salt/pepper or your favorite seasoning blend. Add the onions. When your potatoes are nearly tender, add the peppers. Saute until they are tender, but with a tiny crunch. Finish with a small pat of butter for additional flavor is you like.

Completed dinner. The chops were great. Juicy and tender with some good flavor. The marinade doesn't get all the way into the meat when you only give it an hour, but the flavor is there! Next time I pan to do this, I will make the marinade the night before, then the morning I plan to make the chops, add them to the marinade. This will give them a good 8-10 hours of flavor time. The hash browns didn't really "go" with the chops, but they were delicious!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


(click to embiggen)

6 simple ingredients for a tasty dinner, plus one more main item.

stay tuned.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chili Frito Chicken

A fun experiment!

Frito Fried Chicken Fingers

Quantities are estimates for six chicken strips.

2 cups Frito corn chips (ground or pounded until fine)
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp chile powder (for heat, optional)
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs

Oil for cooking

Mix the chili and chile powders with the ground Fritos. Set in a bowl.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, set aside.

Add flour into a third bowl.

In a large pan, heat oil over high heat.

When hot, start coating your chicken. Coat the chicken in the flour. Dip into the egg to coat. Drop in the crushed Frito mixture and coat. Press the mixture into the chicken to ensure a crispy coating. Lay into the hot oil. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel covered plate. Serve hot.

Ground Fritos with the spices.

Finished chicken strips.

Served with oven fries.

This was tasty. I enjoyed it. I mixed up a quick little dipping sauce of sour cream, chili powder, lime juice and hot sauce. It was alright. The vinegar in the hot sauce was very up front and in your face. The taters were great. The chicken...extra crispy and corny. Fun.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Festival Fun

Today J-lo, The Sommeliatrix and I went out for a little Greek Life!

After a little mis-guided driving on my part, we arrived at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church on 16th Street in Washington, DC.

Food, treats, crafts, icons and fun!

In line for food! So many choices. We wanted to try them all...and we didn't even go all the way down the line...

Souvlaki, Kielbasi and Orzo. The souvlaki (pork skewers) was perfectly tender and full of flavor. The kielbasi were cook with lemon and some other spices. Great! Orzo in tomato sauce (manestra). Funny thing that tasted like Chef Boyardee...and I loved it! It wasn't Chef BD, it was fresh and it was delicious. I've done a little web work...sounds like it's just cooked in a some broth and tomato sauce, with parm or romano grated in at the end...which seems like what we had.

We must have treats. Baklava that makes your mouth water. And a funny little cookie...cinnamon butter cookie soaked in honey and topped with walnuts. Interesting...I think the honey was a darker variety, maybe buckwheat (we had that for the past year in the cupboard, it was almost the taste of molasses)...a little too 'dark' tasting for my tastes.

The Sommeliatrix got into a conversation with some of the sweet ladies making Greek coffee. Having tried to make it at home and wasn't successful, the Sommeliatrix was asking questions, when the ladies invited her back to have her make the perfect cup! And it was heaven. Rich, dark, thick and tasty. I want my coffee like that every day. Hmmmm? Might have to invest in one of those little pots and get the right coffee.

Not shown, but tasted: Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves...which J-lo says are the best he's had, ever), Pastitsio (baked pasta & Bechamel sauce) and Moussaka (eggplant casserole) , Oreganato Chicken (roasted chicken with herbs and lemon). And a final tasting of rice pudding to top of a great days worth of food.

Packing on the Pound Cakes

It was baking time on Saturday. I have a folder on my desktop where I save all the recipes I'm waiting to try. The recent recipes anyway...there are other folders hidden deep in the recesses of my computer that I've long forgotten about...someday...someday. Well, recently I added a recipe for Pistachio Pound Cake. It was easy and the results were light and tasty. The only hard part about the recipe was dealing with shelling the pistachios.

When the cakes were done, I wrapped one up to bring to a party and give to our lovely hostess. ~~Hope you liked it!???!!! Did the baker try it? BTW: cute!

Pistachio Pound Cake
Recipe from Well Fed Network

Makes one 9 cake round or two 7×3 bread pans or one bundt pan
(method is important in the making of this pound cake, as there is no chemical leavener used. The creaming of the butter, and beating in of the eggs will help to give the cake rise)

8 ounces (one cup or two sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
12 ounces sugar
optional: one drop of green food coloring
5 eggs at room temperature
6 ounces all-purpose flour, sifted with a pinch of salt
1 cup finely ground pistachios
1 TB vanilla bean paste (or you can use the same amount of vanilla extract)
1 cup whole pistachios

-Preheat the oven to 325° F. Prepare your baking pan of choice with butter and flour.

-Cream together the butter and sugar (and the drop of food coloring if you are using it) until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.

-Add the first four eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition, reserve the fifth egg. Add the vanilla and blend in.

- Add the flour and salt mixture and the ground pistachios and mix on low speed until the flour has just started to disappear.

-Add the fifth egg and mix to incorporate.

-Fold in the whole pistachios.

-Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until the cake is golden brown and springs back when pressed with a finger.

-Cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then invert and finish cooling on a rack. Serve alone or with whipped cream or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I used the green food coloring. Two drops. You can barely notice it. Which is great!

I prefer to line my pans with parchment paper. Makes the clean up easier and the cakes can be removed much easier.

Finished. The cakes came out of the oven with a bit of lift, as they cooled, they settled down and flattened a bit.

I guess over the years I had only had oily, greasy and gummy pound cakes. So nice to have a cake that is perfectly moist with plenty of buttery flavor, but not all that oil!

By following the recipe, the final cake was light and airy with a perfect crumb and plenty of great flavor.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tomato Sauce

When the days are long, or I'm tired, or lazy, I go to my basic tomato sauce for dinner. I'll use whatever pasta I have, shapely or long, pasta and red sauce rock!

Giant's newer line of groceries; Simply Enjoy. The products are tasty.


Dressed and garnished with freshly grated Parm!

Simply Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Now What?

You're back from what? Back to work. Well, in preparation for going back to work, we had Piña Coladas!

Piña Colada

For two large cocktails:
4 ½ oz white rum
3 oz coconut creme
6 oz pineapple juice
1 ½ trays of ice cubes

Whiz all together in a blender until smooth and frothy.
Garnish with cherry and pineapple!

The Rum is Don Q. The native Puerto Rican rum. Bacardi may be the world's best selling and from Puerto Rico, but the founder of Bacardi actually started making his rum in Cuba, before moving to P.R. Don Q has always been manufactured in P.R. But their sugar comes from the Dominican Republic. Shhhhh. Don't tell anyway. The guy who gave us the tour of the Castillo Serralles told us that.

The pineapple and cream of coconut. Shake that stuff up. The can of coconut will probably be separated and in need of a hardcore shake. I had to spoon and pour the whole thing into the cocktail shaker and spend a few minutes shaking to get the solids and syrup to come together.

Return From Puerto Rico

We've returned from our trip to Puerto Rico. A lovely island.

A beach near Guayama, P.R., our homebase for this trip.

Same beach. It certainly was breezy. The water was so warm.

A little bar/restaurant not far from the beach, we had a little snack here. Right on the water.

My first Puerto Rican Pina Colada. We don't know why it's green.

Day two. We returned to the beach from yesterday for lounging and swimming.

My Corona commercial. I threatened to throw cell phones in the ocean.

I've been drinking...not too much though. See that wall back there? That's where we had to open our beer bottles...we forgot an opener! It was a pain opening the beer and you easily cut yourself...right on your cuts hurt in the salt water.

We drove out into the dark wilderness for dinner. A nice little place. We had some great sangria. Buy some I mean multiple pitchers.

Day three. Ponce, P.R. Museum of Art. It was nice. They had a Rodin exhibit we couldn't take pictures of.

Flaming June! We love this painting and have a print of her in our house. She is so beautiful. I was totally misty when I saw her.

Castillo Serralles. The home of the Serralles family, sugar barons of days of yore. They created the Puerto Rican rum, Don Q.

More Castillo.

Schnoozberries. I don't know the spelling and can't remember the real name. They look like tiny little limes. You gently bite them open to reveal the light pink, slimy, pulpy inside. You suck that pulp out and eat the pulp and juice, spitting out the hard stone in the middle. They were tasty. Sweet, lightly tart. But really slimy and pulpy. The texture could turn someone running!

They are called Quenepas. Wiki entry here.

Day four. We headed to El Yunque. The Caribbean National Forest.

J-lo and I in the rainforest.


Mountains and Rainforest. I loved the rainforest. I bit humid, but not very hot. We had a good weather that morning.

After the rainforest, we paid a guy to bring us out to the little island of Icacos. Nothing on the island but sand, rocks and some trees. The mountain in the distance...that's El Yunque. We were up where the clouds are. On the little hill right in front of us, there is a white building on the left side of the little hill. That is the El Conquistador Resort, a fancy pants resort featured in the James Bond film, Goldfinger. Funny thing. That broke...our boat had to tow them back to Puerto Rico.

Day five. The Bacardi factory. Two free drinks!

Tasty Drink:
1 shot of Melon Rum
Top off with cranberry and 7-up.
Watermelon Jolly Rancher!

Guess who bought a big fat bottle of Melon Rum!?

Wall o' Bacardi.

Buildings in Old San Juan.

A water well in Fort San Cristobal.

Atlantic Ocean.

The Old Spanish war flag, Puerto Rican flag and the U.S. flag. Fort San Cristobal.

I'll head back some day. I could spend a few days in San Juan alone. A good trip.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


El YunqueThe Rainforest!!!

Caribbean National Forest
El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the the U.S. Forest Service.