Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Lurkey

Happy Thanksgiving

We're off. Hope you all have a great holiday and eat tons! We'll be doing a smaller dinner this year on Thursday. In December or January I will have my delayed Thanksgiving Dinner, with benefit of all the great recipes I've been finding, as the days have moved closer to Thursday.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

I feel bad. I saw something like this on a blog yesterday, I skimmed through it, thought it looked good and now I can't remember which one it was!!! So, if any of my readers recognize this, please remind me.

So...Mustard Roasted Potatoes...yum. This came together beautifully and overall, we had a great dinner.

Let's get started...

Preheat your oven to 400.

Potatoes...I say use what you want. I used two medium/large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed to about 3/4 square. This gave me a yield of about 2-3 cups.

Put the potatoes in a large bowl and mix with 1-2 TB Dijon mustard, 1-2 TB olive oil, several grinds of black pepper and a few pinches of salt. For a little extra flavor, I finely diced 1 medium shallot. Mix until the potatoes are well coated.

Pour the potatoes out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Don't crowd the potatoes, give them some room. Toss in the oven for about 45 minutes. Check after 30 and adjust based on the workings of your oven. Adjust a final time for salt & pepper.

Serve hot.

Potatoes, Mustard, Shallots, Olive Oil, Pepper, Salt.

Well mixed.

Ready to bake.

Golden brown and delicious.

I served the potatoes with green bean almandine and pan seared, smoked pork chops.

A perfect dinner. The mustard flavor was there, but not overpowering. It played well with the smoked pork. Nice.

UPDATE 11/24/08: I found the original blog post that got me thinking about making this recipe. Check out Smitten Kitchen for a more detailed recipe.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Don't Make Fun of My Drinking Habit

I know some people will chastise me for having my drink on the rocks, but it feels good on my sickly sore throat. And it's doctor approved! Seriously. Mmmm, feel the burn.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Three Nights in a Row

Woohoo. I'm on a roll.

Tonight I made some this quick, easy, simplified
Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce.

Let's get started, shall we?

You need a flavor base for the mole sauce. Onions & garlic in olive oil with herbs and spices. Toasting the spices in the olive oil brings out their flavors.

When the flavor base is read, add some tomato sauce and some baking chocolate. For this version I also added a little honey to temper the slightly bitter flavor of the chocolate. It was a nice, subtle addition. About 1 tablespoon. Also, this time I had boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I wanted to braise in the sauce, so I added about 1/2 cup of water to make the sauce a little thinner, for braising purposes. I added the chicken, covered and simmered for 20 minutes.

When the chicken is done, chop it into bite size pieces. Make the enchiladas by adding chicken and cheese. If you have some veg you'd like, go ahead and add it. Roll the tortillas and place, seam side down in a baking dish. Spoon some sauce over the top, sprinkle with cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted, lightly brown and bubbly.

Enjoy! Spoon over additional sauce if you like. Serve with sour cream. Yum.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


my sick came back today...i made it to work for half a day...then had to come home...blah.

i did manage to make dinner...this is tells you how easy this dinner is!

Mango-Ginger Glazed Pork Chops
w/Sauteed Carrots and Peppers on Couscous

The Mango-Ginger portion of tonight's dinner was the remnants of the jar of Martha's Mango-Ginger Jam we picked up at the Community Market (go this weekend for some great holiday treats!!!).

I had some extra ginger in the fridge, so I grated it up and stirred about 1 TB of ginger into 1/4 cup of jam. Add a pinch or two of salt.

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and sear in a pan with olive oil until lightly browned. Place on a broiler pan or baking sheet and spoon over the jam, place under the broiler until the chops shiny and glazed with the bubbling jam. About 5 minutes under my broiler, but all broilers are different.

For the veggie/couscous: make your couscous per the package, set aside. In the same pan you seared the chops, add 1 small shallot, diced. Stir and saute until just translucent and beautifully fragrant. Add two carrots, chopped. Add 3 tablespoons of water and cover. This will steam and cook the carrots thru, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of additional grated ginger. Stir. Add 1 green bell pepper, chopped. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the veg are all tender. If you have additional Mango-Ginger jam, add 1 TB to sauce the veg and sweeten the deal. Serve over the cooked couscous with the chops.

Monday, November 17, 2008

alla Italiana

WOW...right...I'm actually posting something I made...woot...first time in ages it seems...I mean with work travel, busted camera, being the sick and a national election...i've been seemingly preoccupied!

Tonight's dinner is my Italian version of Coq au Vin (Chicken in Wine), a slow-cooked dish that warms the belly and fills the home with a great aroma! This one came together fairly quickly in my head and the prep time is pretty quick as well. An added's CHEAP, tasty and filling.

Coq au Vin alla Italiana
1 package, boneless, skinless chicken thighs (5 thighs in the package)
salt & pepper
3 TB olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried parsley
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
Splash of water or chicken broth (as needed)

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to a medium pot, over medium high heat. When shimmering, add the chicken. Sear until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan. Stir for about one minute. Add the wine. Stir to bring up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine has nearly evaporated and the pan is almost dry. Add the herbs and spices. Pour in the tomatoes and their juice. Stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the pot, cover and simmer over low heat for an hour. Make sure the chicken is covered at least 1/2 way with the tomato/sauce mixture, if not, add water or chicken broth to cover chicken at least half way with the braising liquid.

When you're ready to serve, uncover, remove the chicken and bring to a boil and reduce, allowing sauce to thicken.

Serve chicken and sauce over rice, pasta or couscous.

The chicken is seared with salt/pepper. The chicken does not cook all the way thru, it will finish cooking later in the braising liquid.

This the bottom of the pan. All the bits and fat and yumminess, that's fond. That will yield a lot of great flavor when dissolved in the wine.

Onions, wine and garlic.

Notice how the wine has nearly evaporated, leaving a rich flavor base for the tomatoes to stir into.

The chicken has been nestled into the sauce and braising has begun.

Served up with rice. Make sure to serve a little extra sauce for the rice to soak it up.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


sorry...i got sick people germs on the plane back from's kicking my butt...

not much to blog about...soup....juice...lots and lots of water...

hope to be back to normal operating procedures in a few days.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

All points point to yes

I may have been a bit tipsy last night, but I meant everything I wrote.

I'm still in Phoenix and had a very splurgey dinner last night. I stayed at the hotel and went to The Compass restaurant. A rotating restaurant on the 24th floor of the hotel. It was a pleasurable night.

Let's get started. First. The rotating thing. Barely noticeable. I think the rotation is one full rotation an hour. After the first hour, it's the same view. Still pretty. Phoenix is a very large, FLAT city with dots of mountains in the city and around the city. Having no car, I can't go...and having no time due to the conference I'm here for...that's ok...I'm getting out at lunch and dinner today.

First thing. They brought me a little cornbread. With it came this cute tray. L-R, regular butter, honey butter and sea salt. The cornbread was ok, not the best, but the butter and sea salt combos were fun.

I ordered a half bottle of wine. They have DRYLANDS Sauvignon Blanc...oh, but wait, they didn't have it. So I found this funny. The waiter actually brought the next sauvignon blanc for me. He saw it was an SB and said, hey, why not...or the bar said that...but it wasn't anything like the New Zealand wine I was a Californian SB and very smoky and a little woody. I had to turn it away, not what I wanted. So, I went with a red. Craneford Cabernet Sauvignon from Barossa Valley, Australia. A spicy red with a higher alcohol and low acid. Notes of dry fruit and warm spice. Tasty.

This was my appetizer and I could have eaten a second one. Braised Bacon with Marjoram-Maple grits and a poached pair. YUM. Now, Braised Bacon? Really. Well, it's not bacon in the fact of sliced, fatty pieces of pork. It was more of a meaty piece of pork belly that was placed under the broiler for a minute to caramelize the fat. Divine. Savory, with a hint of smokiness and sweetness. Paired perfectly with the grits and pear. I didn't get the overt flavor of marjoram and maple, but the subtle sweetness was lovely. The pear was just another sweet layer. YUM. The grits were some of the best I've had. This dish fought with the wine. That's ok, I'll save it for the entree.

My entree was a bit more on the standard side. Roast chicken breast with two shrimp and an onion ring. The shrimp were great. Seasoned lightly and grilled until perfectly crisp. The Chicken was seasoned with herbs, salt and pepper. The salt might have been on the higher side for some, but it was perfect for me. Especially when paired with the cheesey, creamy polenta. The skin on the chicken was very crispy. The onion ring was a fail. Boring flavor, flabby and dry. The wine worked very well with this dish. They played like good friends.

Then I was presented with the dilema of dessert. J-lo wanted me to try the pumpkin cake with maple gelato. I wanted the creme brulee. The waiter said there was a trio I could try. Pumpkin Cake, Creme Brulee and another Smore's dessert. Here's the deal. I don't know if the waiter had all the information right. When he told me the specials he said something about a "three onion risotto" which sounded tasty. After I ordered the wine he mentioned it again and said "three onion couscous." Not as exciting sounding to me. Here, I think he got things wrong again.

1) The cake was great. Should have just ordered it! Lovely spiced pumpkin flavor and a light, maple gelato. Perfect.
2) The creme brulee...when presented, the waiter said it was flan. OK, I asked...he said it was BOTH? BOTH? What? Well...the creme part was nice, but there was no brulee. The syrup with a flan is usually a light caramel. This was more of a dulche de leche, which is fine, but it was too heavy, creamy things coming together and it was too much.
3) The smore thing. Skip. The Marshmallow on top looked nice, but I can't eat marshmallows yet. (Got sick when I made them last year...still churns my stomach). The cakey part...could barely get my spoon into the cup. Very firm. And the chocolate flavor...for a dark chocolate it was too sweet and boring.

Overall, if I were to rate the restaurant on a scale of 5...I think I'd do 4. The desserts were hit or miss. The wine issue turned me off a little bit. Overall though, with the few and the good food, a very nice place.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Big Fat Gay Wedding

Please watch this.

Well said Keith.

It has been a rare occasion when I have turned to politics. The only time I can really think of was last week. A week ago when I wept for joy that our country, my country, would take a stand for change. That joy was bittersweet. While most of us were celebrating a new dawn, my brothers and sisters in several states were mourning the loss of their rights. Their rights to marry, the hope of marrying, the joy and desire to adopt and raise a family to call their own. My GLBT brothers and sisters were denied their rights based on fear and hatred. I don't understand. Really I don't! I'm asking one person, one couple, to explain to me how the relationship I have is threatening to yours? You may not understand my relationship, but how is my relationship denying you yours? How is giving a child two loving parents worse than no parents at all. How? Please, I beg of you to explain to me how my love hurts you?!!

I understand a lot of this is based on religion. I was brought in a church where I was told to love one another. Don't fight. Don't hate. But love. Where did that go?

For the time-being, I can only count my blessings that I live in a community that doesn't actively search out hate. A community, a state, a county that doesn't seek to deny me my right to love.

For the time-being, I can find comfort and hope that my love and prayers reaches my friends across this country and gives them comfort in their time of need.


click to embiggen

Tonight I'm eating in a rotating restaurant. I've never been in one before. I know it's cheeky, but I'm excited. Stay tuned. The menu looks great!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Good, but...

This is chicken was good...but... was a tad dry. I made a mistake with the recipe. I cut all the ingredients in half...except the pasta. Which made a dry baked pasta dish.

Will I make it again? Sure. But I will make it properly!

Chicken Tetrazzini

from Everday Food

Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 TB butter
1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced inch thick (optional)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 pound linguine, broken in half
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed and drained (or other green veg-I used green beans)


1. Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for pasta). In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over high heat. Add mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until tender and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

2. Make sauce: In same saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, gradually add milk, broth, and wine. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and add 2 cups Parmesan and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente; drain and return to pot. Add sauce, chicken, peas, and mushrooms. Toss well to combine. Divide between two shallow 2-quart baking dishes; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Freeze (see below) or bake until browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

4. To freeze: After placing pasta mixture in baking dishes and sprinkling with Parmesan (step 3), cool to room temperature. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 3 months.

To bake from frozen: Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 2 hours. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes more. Serve.

To bake from thawed: Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Nouveau!!! Almost Time.

Sorry folks...been busy and will be leaving tomorrow to Phoenix for work...yummy foodie posts will be few and far between for the next week.

In the meantime, I read this fun bit from Karen MacNeil author of The Wine Bible:

Dear Karen: I read recently that Beaujolais is made differently from regular red wine. The article mentioned “carbonic maceration.” What is that?

Dear Reader: It’s a good time to be thinking about Beaujolais, since Beaujolais Nouveau (the young fresh version) will be released with much fanfare later this month. Most winemakers in Beaujolais do indeed use a special fermentation technique called semi-carbonic maceration. In this method, the grapes are not crushed but put whole into a tank, which is then closed. The grapes begin to ferment from the inside out, meaning that the juice inside the grapes ferments without the skins breaking until the very end of the process. This method reduces contact between the juice and components in the skins such as tannin. As a result, wines made by semi-carbonic maceration tasted extremely fruity and have little of the tannic bite that many other wines possess.

Here's a previous ASK KAREN I shared with you.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

When I look back,
I will always recall,
Moment for moment,
This was the moment,
The greatest moment
Of them all!

Yes, I'm a geek...the lyrics are from the musical Jekyll & Hyde...not really a show that speaks to the historic context of today's election, but it's what I've been singing for days. I can't believe what just happened. I am so happy. I can't stop the tears.

This is the Moment

Monday, November 03, 2008


Good News...The camera is working...I gave it a few days of light work to see what the results would be...all appears fine. But I think I should start saving a few extra bucks a month in a camera fund in case it starts complaining too much after the fall.

Here is the pre-baked spaghetti squash from the other night. Yum. We have one more and are going to share it with some friends some night. Can't wait.

Thursday to Sunday, we had family in town. Which means sight seeing and dinner and lunch out. We went to Jaleo and had a lovely lunch with the family and some of their friends who live locally. I enjoyed a lovely bowl of rice pudding after my meal. Just the right amount of sweet, with a light lemon flavor. Wonderful.

Friday night I made dinner at home. Here are white sweet potatoes that I made. They are virtually the same as the orange/pink sweet potatoes. I was surprised, as I was peeling the tubers, they started to discolor; like apples and avocados when exposed to air. I don't remember this happening the last time I made them. So, they were peeled, chopped and placed in a pot of water. I boiled them until tender and mashed them with a bit of butter, salt and pepper. Divine.

I also made my first roast chicken. Here's the flavoring. Garlic, Rosemary and Lemon.

Here's the bird. She was pretty good. The technique came from Martha Stewart's new book; Martha Stewart's Cooking School. A lovely book by the way. So, rinse the chicken, take out the reserved parts the manufacturer gives you, then pat the chicken dry. Rub a little butter on the skin and season with salt and pepper, inside and out. Stuff lemon, garlic and rosemary into the cavity. Roast at 450 for about and hour. Let rest for 10 minutes, carve and enjoy. I under cooked my chicken by about 5-10 thermometer is I carved around those parts and enjoyed the rest.

I also enjoyed a glass of wine. I tasted raisins, chocolate and dried strawberries. Mmmmm.

On Saturday we had some folks over, so I made soups. It was a Souper Party. We had Butternut Squash Bisque, Corn Chowder and Chili Verde. Here's the butternut squash bisque cooking. Everyone seemed to have their own favorite soup, which is exactly what I was hoping for. The bisque was the mildest. I expected the chili verde to be super spicy, but it was my heavy had on the cayenne pepper with the chowder that made the creamiest soup the spiciest! Yeah!!!!

Here are the main ingredients for the chili verde; tomatillos, garlic and peppers. Roast them under the broiler for about 10 minutes until charred and soft. Whiz quickly in the blender, then stew for a few hours with some spices and meat.

Sunday we brought the family back to the airport, so we decided to head to Del Ray, VA for brunch and some fun shopping. We ate at Evening Star Cafe. What a sweet little place.

Evening Star Cafe
2000 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301

I had the Cinnamon Apple French Toast with sausage. The french toast was great. Eggy and dense, full of flavor and large chunks of apple. The sausage was some of the best sausage I've had at a restaurant in a long time. Very good. I'd go back!

After a few hours of shopping I wanted a snack. I was lured into a little shop for this cookie. Drool. Right? Well, the cookie was good, but the filling. Well, the filling wasn't a cream filling like I thought it was. No, it was marshmallow, which is still prohibited since last year's stomach flu the same day I made marshmallows. My stomach still churns. And the filling was very, very dense, really chewy. But the cookie was good.