Challah Bread Pudding with Chocolate and Raisins


My goodness, it's been way too long since I wrote in my blog! Where did all the time go? Not that I really mind 2009 coming to an end, but I feel like the last few months have just flown by! With 2010 right around the corner and New Year's resolutions popping up, I felt it time to get back on the ball and start writing again. And, I have the perfect recipe for it! Dave Lieberman's Challah Bread Pudding. This is one of my all-time favorite recipes and it's really super easy. In fact, I not only made it once, but twice over the weekend! The first time was for Christmas at our friend Suella's house and the second was for Joey's reunion party. I am pleased to say that both times it was a hit. That's really saying a lot for anything put up against Suella's food!

When I was preparing this, I made it two ways. One with the bread sliced in 1 1/2 inch slices, which is what the recipe calls for (pictured above); and, one with the bread in 1 1/2 inch cubes (pictured below). While the taste is the same, I prefer the bread cubed, which is great because it actually was a mistake on my part. I love it when mistakes turn into happy accidents!

This is a dish everyone should try. It's so creamy and delicious and honestly is not all that hard to make.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted in microwave
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 6 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 loaf challah bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch slices or cubed
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine warmed milk and melted butter with the sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until incorporated and smooth.
  3. Line a large baking dish with two-thirds of the challah slices. Sprinkle with half the chocolate chips and half the raisins. Top with remaining challah slices, layering them one on top of the other, and then remaining chocolate chips and raisins, making sure the chips and raisins get inside the layers created by the challah slices.
  4. Pour milk mixture slowly over the top of everything and let stand until the bread has absorbed almost all of the liquid, 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Wrap the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and cook 10 to 15 minutes longer until set in the middle and lightly browned on top.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
Notes

Try to use as deep a baking dish as possible as this tends to really puff up and spill while cooking making a huge mess of your oven. I learned this the hard way.

Clams In White Wine With Garlic


I got it in my head the other day that I wanted to have tapas - those wonderful little Spanish dishes that are packed with flavor. I decided I would make Croquettes and Steamed Clams. The Croquettes were one big chore to make so I will blog about them later. The clams, however, were not hard at all and they were surprisingly delicious.

Our favorite place to get steamed clams in at Anchor in Castro. This little place truly has the best and I really wanted to replicate that. I found a recipe in a cook book I have: Tapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain by Joyce Goldstein. This recipe came quite close to Anchor and was fantastic. This meal was also really cheap. The clams only cost me about $8.00. I served them with a loaf of homemade bread from our new breadmaker. YUM!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds small clams
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Dash of sherry vinegar (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Instructions
  1. If clams are not cleaned, scrub them under cold water. If you have time you can soak them for 1 hour or so in cold salted water in a covered container in your refrigerator.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and bread crumbs and saute for a few minutes
  4. Add the clams and then add the wine.
  5. Cover and cook until the clams open (about 3 - 6 minutes) shaking the pan occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat and discard any clams that have not opened.
  7. Add vinegar, if using, and transfer to a serving dish.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley.
  9. Serve immediately with bread.

Apple Pie


I can't believe it's already November! Time just seems to be zipping by these days and it's hard to keep up with everything. Now with the holidays coming up full swing it's time to get organized and get with the program.

I have been cooking a lot lately and trying new things. One thing I have been doing is baking. I really am NOT a baker so this it completely new to me. It all started when Joey brought home a huge bag of apples from his mother's tree. I stared at that bag and thought, "What the heck am I going to do with those?" They are small little apples, but have a great taste and texture. The first thing I tried was Apple Strudel. This is all I am going to say about it - phyllo dough is NOT fun to work with. I kind of ended up with an apple burrito! It tasted okay, but it just wasn't all that great.

So, what next? Ah! Apple pie! I had never made one before and it seemed to be the easiest thing I could do. The recipe I used is super simple and I did not make my own crust. I know that is cheating, but after the phyllo dough I just wanted to test this out. I used the frozen pie crusts and they worked perfectly. Actually, the pies were a huge success and I have made a lot of them! I even made one for Joey's mom! I think the secret is using the mandolin to slice the apples really thinly. Of course the hard tart apples also made the pie.

Below is my super simple recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen pie crusts
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 to 7 cups apples cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Remove two frozen crusts from package.
  • Remove first crust from pan while frozen and set aside on waxed paper.
  • Let crusts thaw about 15 minutes while you are preparing the filling.
  • Place second crust on baking sheet.
  • Core, peel and slice the apples in to very thing slices
  • In a medium bowl combine the apples, with the brown and white sugar.
  • Add flour, cinnamon and continue mixing until they are well coated.
  • Pour the filling into the shell on the baking sheet.
  • Press first crust gently to flatten; repair any cracks.
  • Lift waxed paper with crust and carefully turn over; centering crust over filling.
  • Gently peel off waxed paper.
  • Press edges of crusts together firmly with tines of fork to seal.
  • Sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon over the pie.
  • Cut several slits in top crust.
  • Bake for approximately 55 minutes.
Notes

If that pie crust for the top is all in pieces don't worry. Just place them on top of the filling like a puzzle. In the end it will all work out and look beautiful!

Put A Little Love In Your Lunch


Once in awhile my inner Martha Stewart kicks in. Not often, but sometimes. One Martha thing I do is put little scrolls along with Joey's treats in his lunches. It's pretty easy and makes us both feel good.

Awhile back we started listening to Louise Hay and were really inspired by her positive affirmations. So much so that I thought it would be fun to add them to Joey's lunch. Every week I pick five affirmations and make little scrolls for him. Now I am not artist, I use a super simple program to make them, but it's really the thought that counts. Along with each scrool I include a sweet snack and a savory snack. I try to find something healthy and on sale. Last week, I made little bags of Japanese crackers along with yogurt bars. I put them together and tie them up. It's a great way to give encouragement, send love and show you care. You can download a sample of our affirmations here.

So, put a little love in your lunch! Even a small hand-written note would mean the world to your special someone. Your inspiration can come from any place, as long as it comes from your heart.

Oven Baked Onion Rings


Joey and I are always looking for something that is naughty but at the same time figure-friendly. (Yes, our "naughty" factor pretty much applies just to food.) The other day Ellie Krieger had an episode entitled, "Day at the Diner" where she presented many of our favorite diner foods made in a healthier manner. While these are not as figure-friendly as carrot sticks, they do satisfy that craving for onion rings. The fact that they are oven baked makes you feel all the better about them. I want to say these are super easy to make, but I am having a bit of a challenge with the crumbs clumping together after dipping a few rings in them. I think the key is to grind up the chips very finely, but am not sure yet.

These are a great alternative to deep frying and work really well with burgers, hot dogs, or grilled cheese like we did. (All healthy alternatives, of course!) Check this out and if you master the dipping process please tell me your secret!!!!

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups baked potato chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or milder spice of your choice - see notes)
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, peeled
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F
  2. Spray a baking sheet slightly with oil and set aside.
  3. Place potato chips in the bowl of a food processor and process into crumbs, about 20 seconds.
  4. Transfer to a shallow bowl, add cayenne (or spice of your choice), and set aside.
  5. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of flour, saltand pepper and set aside.
  6. Slice onions into 1/2-inch circles and separate into rings, keeping only large, whole rings. (Save the rest of onions for other uses. I chopped mine up for the hot dogs.) You should come out with about 12 to 14 rings.
  7. Place the remaining flour in a sealable plastic bag, then add onions, and shake to coat.
  8. Dip onions 1 at a time into the buttermilk mixture, then dip into potato chip crumbs and place on baking sheet.
  9. Spray cooking oil evenly over rings and bake for 20 minutes, or until coating is crisp.
  10. Season with salt, to taste, and serve immediately.
Notes

I have made these twice and liked them both times. I will say though, the first time I followed the recipe and used cayenne and it was WAY spicy. If you have kids or don't like spicy it's a huge no-no. The second time I used smoked paprika and really liked it. I think with this recipe you might want to try it first with a very mild spice or none at all then experiment with spices you like. I kind of want to try Italian spices and serve them with a pasta sauce.

Oven Fried Chicken and Butterscotch Baby Carrots


Goodness, I am so, so behind on my blog and have so many recipes to post, but today's recipe just pushed all the other ones aside and I had to post it.

We are always looking for quick, simple, delicious and figure-friendly recipes. While many recipes claim to be all those things, more often than not they are off the mark in one area or another. I think the hardest combination is figure-friendly and delicious. Those two just don't seem to go together very often. How surprised was I to find the whole kit and kaboodle in a Paula Dean recipe?! Don't get me wrong, I love Paula Dean. She is one of the most charming and delightful chefs on the Food Network. We watch her all the time, not for her recipes, just for her. Something about the twinkle in her eye when she adds another stick of butter, the way she gets away with the naughtiest things, just the way she does what she does with no apologies. However, when we are trying to lose weight it's pretty hard to justify Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Bacon Bites. Even when Paula is making it she knows it's naughty. (Watch the video.)

Anyway, we were watching her the other day and to our surprise she made a figure-friendly recipe. Maybe it was because he son was on, or maybe she just forgot the butter, but this dinner combination is all the things we were looking for - quick, simple, delicious and figure-friendly. When I made this I thought of all my mom friends that need to whip up dinner along with all their other tasks. Honeys, this is your recipe! It was super easy and so yummy that it made it to out top ten list. It also reheats well, which is always a bonus.

Oven Fried Chicken


Ingredients

  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons freshly minced thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 -inch thickness
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  3. Place a cooling rack over pan and spray rack with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. In a separate shallow dish, combine mustard, water, salt and pepper, to taste, and remaining olive oil.
  6. Coat each chicken breast with mustard mixture; dredge each in bread crumb mixture.
  7. Place on prepared rack in pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown.
  8. Serve immediately.
Butterscotch and Black Pepper Baby Carrots
Recipe courtesy The Deen Brothers (Y'all, pg. 37)

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound baby carrots, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium skillet, heat the butter, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat, stirring until smooth.
  2. Add the carrots and toss to coat.
  3. Cover and reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender and glazed.
  5. Top with black pepper.
  6. Serve hot or warm.
Notes

There are a few things I want to share about this:

First off, after I pounded each chicken breast I cut them in half making eight servings rather than four. This was plenty for us.

My chicken wasn't as browned as I would have liked, but I read a post that said they put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes and I will try that next time.

The best thing, we did NOT miss the carbs in this meal. It is very satisfying.

My Cup Runneth Over


The other night I took a spill. No, I didn't spill the milk or my cake mix. I had a fall. I tripped on my carpet in the bedroom and hit my head pretty hard on the chest near my bed. To make this all worse, I had been feeling flu-like so I had taken an ambian so that I could sleep and be rarin' to go the next day.

Well, this turned out to be a pretty big fall and I hit my head pretty badly and had to go the the emergency room. All is good and this isn't what I am writing about. What I am writing about is what happened the next day. I was ANGRY! Not about the fall, but about everything.

I don't know when it exactly happened but at some point along the way I turned into one of those half-full people. I used to hate those people, but there I was a Half-Fuller. Why wasn't Joey there when I fell? What would have happened if I hadn't gotten up from the fall? Why don't I own my own home? Why did my mom go? Why am I always home alone? Why can't I take great pictures for my blog? Why was my life half over and I hadn't done all the things I always thought I would? My goodness, the list goes on and on. Let me tell you Pity-Me-Patty hadn't just paid a visit, she was throwing a party and I was right there partying along with her.

I got up today and thought, what was the big deal? Okay, I kind of know. I have an unusual fear of falling in the shower and no one noticing. Then I thought about it more. Yes, I did fall. Yes, it was pretty ugly. But you know what? When it happened I called my friend, Marc, and he showed up to my house in like a minute. No joke, he must be magic because he was there, took me to the hospital and stayed the there with me. What a blessing and that is sure not a "half-full." The next day Karolyn listened to me whine on the phone all the day. She was right there just like she always is. Another not "half-full." And, Joey, as always is was right there for me and showing me so much love it's crazy. None of these are "half-fulls." Sure, would I like Karolyn to live right down the street; for my mom to still pick up the phone; for Joey to be here 24 hours a day? You bet I would. Realistic? NO. Whiny? YES!

So, here's what I came up with. My cup isn't half empty. My cup runneth over. When I think about it I have so so so many things that I am thankful for. I just forget to be thankful for them. And while my cup does runneth over, it's messy. Just like life. It's a good mess, though.

Once again, I have told Pity-Me-Patty to take a hike. I am sure she will be back, but maybe next time I can just serve her some chips and dip and she will be on her way.


I have one more little thing to post here. I expect a whole lot from Joey and he sure does give me a whole lot. I am certainly a handful. Since he is my little "Island Boy" I wanted to share this video with him and everyone.



Italian Pot Roast


A lot of people think a slow cooker is only good for an easy last minute meal you throw in the pot before you go to work. Sometimes that can be true. There are many crock pot meals that are just that. Cut things up and throw them in and they are tasty. But your slow cooker can also work its magic on meals that take a bit more work. In fact, it's those meals that make my slower cooker one of my favorite appliances and one I just couldn't do without.

When I am in a "fancy" slow cooker mood I always turn to The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley. Every recipe I have made from this book is mouth-watering delicious. They also take a lot of work. Really a lot, but worth every minute of it.

This Italian Pot Roast is one of those recipes. I will say that the prep time was probably about 45 minutes to an hour. It was worth it. This is one of the most delicious meals I have made in my slow cooker. If you have time and want to make something really special, I totally recommend this. Since it was so time intensive I actually got it going the night before, cooked it overnight then turned it back on about two hours before dinner. With this dish, the longer it cooks the better it tastes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 pounds beef pot roast, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, slicked
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup hearty dry red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and peppercorns in a mortar or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the meat and cook, turning, for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned on all sides. Using tongs, transfer to the slow cooker.
  3. Add the onion to the saute pan and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  4. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and saute for 3 - 4 minutes, until lightly browned.
  5. Add the spice mixture and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the red wine and cook for about 10 minutes, until reduced by about one-third.
  7. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and salt to taste.
  8. Pour sauce over the meat in the slow cooker.
  9. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, until the meat falls away from the bone.
  10. Garnish with parsley.
  11. Serve over polenta, potatoes or rice.
Notes

As I mentioned above I cooked this for 10 hours overnight, then two more hours before dinner to heat it up and thicken. It really did need thickening. I asked friends online how to thicken this and got different responses. My main question was whether to use corn starch or flour. Apparently, corn starch will thin out when reheating so I created a slurry with flour to thicken the pot roast. One thing you never do is just throw flour into the dish. You will get icky lumps. I took out some of the sauce (and fat) from the pot roast and heated it up in my saute pan. I then gradually whisked in about 2 tablespoons of flour. I let that heat up and added about another cup or two of the sauce from the pot roast and let that simmer and thicken. I then added it back to the pot roast and let it cook for about 30 minutes. It turned out perfectly.


P.S. On this post, special thanks to my good friend Brenda that caught all my silly mistakes!!!

Spaghetti Carbonara


When I worked in Osaka, my best girlfriend Carla and I had lunch together every day. One of our favorite spots what this little pasta place called "Hole In The Wall." It maybe had six or eight small tables and had the best pasta. One of my favorites was the Carbonara. I probably had that once a week for three years. What I liked about it was that it was creamy but not overly heavy. It also didn't have peas in it, which I really don't like.

When I got back to the States I searched all over for that same Carbonara, but never found it. Finally, I found a very simple recipe on a newsgroup and tastes exactly like the Carbonara I had in Osaka. I don't make this often, but when I do it's a treat and everyone loves it. If you want a simple and delicious Spaghetti Carbonara recipe, this is your ticket!

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, pancetta or 6 slices bacon cut into 1/4" pieces (see note)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 pound pasta
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. In a large skillet or wok, melt the butter over moderate heat.
  3. Add the prosciutto, pancetta or bacon and saute until crisp. About 3 - 5 minutes
  4. If there is a lot of fat drain it off until their is only a fine layer.
  5. Add garlic and saute about 1 minute more.
  6. Add cooked, drained pasta to the skillet and mix well with prosciutto, garlic and butter.
  7. In a bowl, beat the eggo yolks, cream, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese.
  8. Pour cream mixture over pasta.
  9. Toss over low heat until the sauc e thickens and coats the pasta. About 4 - 6 minutes.
  10. Serve immediately with remining Parmesan cheese, black pepper and parsley.
Notes

When I first made this I didn't know the difference between prosciutto and pancetta so I always got prosciutto thinking they were the same. I never thought about it until people started complimenting me on my carbonara, asking me what was different about it. I think it's the prosciutto. That and my amazing skills. :-)

Grilled Pineapple


Summertime is grilling time but we rarely think about grilling fruit. It really is a wonderful way to take advantage of all the amazing fruit in season as well as a healthy treat. One of my favorite fruits to grill is pineapple. It goes with almost anything and also makes a nice spread! Now, I don't personally have a barbecue since, well, I don't have a yard, so I prepare this in my handy stove top grill pan. However you do this, it's easy and delicious.


Ingredients

  • 1 large pineapple
  • 1 lime
  • Vegetable oil to coat grill
  • Honey
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds
Instructions
  1. Cut ends off the pineapple and reserve stems.
  2. Stand pineapple upright and cut off the skin in strips.
  3. Quarter the pineapple lengthwise and cut out the core.
  4. Cut each quarter into 3 spears.
  5. Zest the lime and reserve.
  6. Cut the zested lime in half and squeeze the juice over the spears.
  7. Brush the grill pan or outdoor grill with vegetable oil or spray lightly with cooking spray.
  8. Grill pineapple until evenly marked all over, 5 minutes.
  9. Garnish spears with lime zest, drizzled honey and sesame seeds.
  10. Arrange with stems on platter.

Carrots and Onions


I have suddenly become frugal. I don't know when this happened, but it did and I am glad! I am finally no longer wasting food and am stretching my cooking skills to use what I have on hand at the moment. I not only save money, but I get to create something new and sometimes it's yummy!

The other day Joey brought home a seasoned pork tenderloin from Costco. They are so yummy, so if you see them on sale and eat pork, pick one up! Anyway, I wanted to make something to go with it and found that I had carrots and an onion. Well, that should be easy. This recipe is really just a spur of the moment thing, but it's so good and worked so well I have to share it. Feel free to totally improvise on this one. I did!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1 small to medium onion
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh or dry parsley
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  • Chop carrots and onions
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat
  • Add two or three swirls of olive oil
  • Add onions and saute for 2 - 3 minutes
  • Add carrots and saute for about a minute
  • Cover tightly and cook until tender, about 6 - 8 minutes
  • Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve to your teddy bear and watch him smile
Notes

My friend Carla taught me to make this with fresh parsley and if you have it use it. If you need to use dry, it works just fine. You could also use fresh or dry dill and that would also be yummy. In face, this is a great recipe to use up just about any herb you have left over. Just remember that something like rosemary should be steamed along with the carrots and onions.

Sean's Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole


Sometimes Joey and I have a really busy weekend and I don't have time to cook. We both still need lunches for the week, so this casserole is one of my go-to meals that I can make ahead and know it's going to be delicious for the following week. It's not only great the night you make it, but it's amazing leftover. It's also quite healthy and hearty.

This recipe was based on a Weight Watchers recipe, but I have changed it so much I can now call it my own. There is very little left of the original recipe beside the non-fat sour cream. What makes this tuna casserole unique is the use of whole wheat noodles, onions and caraway seeds. The caraway seeds is an ingredient I added on a whim, and they are tasty!

One thing I do want to say in advance - do take the time to saute the onions and mushrooms. As my dear Carla told me, you should never just throw vegetables in a casserole and she is right. If you don't have time to saute, then I would leave out the onions.

Ingredients

12 oz uncooked whole-wheat "egg" noodles
12 oz water-packed tuna fish, drained
2 turns olive oil (about two Tablespoons)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
16 oz fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup low-fat or regular mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 tsp table salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or more to taste
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, or Swiss cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat large skilItaliclet over medium to medium-high heat, with 2 turns of olive oil.
  3. Cook noodles according to directions and transfer to a bowl.
  4. While noodles are cooking saute onions for one or two minutes then add mushrooms. Saute until tender then transfer to a bowl.
  5. When noodles are done, drain and transfer to a bowl. Fold in tuna, onions, mushrooms and peas.
  6. Whisk sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, caraway seeds, salt and pepper in a bowl then fold into noodle mixture.
  7. Transfer to a 3 quart casserole dish and top with cheese.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.

Notes

If you don't particularly like caraway seeds then dried parsley works very well in this recipe. Also, you can completely omit the onions, but if you saute them, they are very mild and quite tasty. This really is a great make-ahead meal. If you find you have time one night and might be busy later in the week, make this in advance and reheat it. It's very good reheated.

Steamed Artichokes with Almond Saffron Dip


One of my favorite artichoke experiences is when I found them in the food basement of Hankyu Department Store in Osaka. I had not had one in years and I really wanted these. They had two. Just two. The problem was they were about $20.00 each. Oh, my, should I buy one? You betcha! I bought up both of the babies and had a feast when I got home!

This is one of my favorite dipping sauces, by Ellie Krieger. I made it last Saturday for Suella and Joey. While not particularly low in fat it's very healthy as are all her recipes. If you have not watched her show on the Food Network, "Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger" you really must. She really teaches you about healthy cooking without lecturing.

This is a very healthy and delicious way to enjoy your artichokes.

Ingredients

  • 4 artichokes
  • Pinch saffron
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Arrange the artichokes in a steamer basket set over at least 3 cups of water and steam, covered, until the leaves can be easily removed, about 1 hour. Let cool. About halfway through cooking check the water level and add more, if necessary.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together saffron and the tablespoon of boiling water.
  3. Toast the almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the almonds and add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan.
  5. Add onion and cook until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  7. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
  8. In a food processor, grind the almonds until finely chopped.
  9. Add the saffron mixture, onion mixture, yogurt and parsley and puree until smooth.
  10. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  11. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  12. Serve with the artichokes.

Steamed Artichokes


One of my all-time favorite things is artichokes. They are right up there with whiskers on kittens. Not only are these tasty treats figure friendly, they are delicious and fun to eat! A large artichoke only has 70 calories or so and no Weight Watchers points! They are also chock full of fiber. They are the perfect appetizer!

Now this is not really a recipe but more of a reminder of how delicious artichokes are and how easy they are to make. My preferred method of preparing them is steaming. While this does take a long time, it's really worth the wait.

So, what makes an artichoke fattening? Well, it's the stuff you dip it in. Mayonnaise and butter are not particularly figure friendly, but you can get around that. You can always opt for non-fat mayonnaise and a non-fat butter substitute (I like "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Lite"). Salsa works as does yogurt with some herbs and just a touch of real mayonnaise. Whatever you like to dip them in just try to make it figure friendly.

When purchasing artichokes you should look for those whose petals have not opened far. The tighter and more compact the artichoke, the fresher. Get out your big steamer and fill it as high as you can with water. These take a long time to boil. (Make sure you check the water frequently.)

Cut off or trim end of artichoke stem. If desired, cut about 1/2 inch off the top.

Boil the artichokes for about an hour or until the leaves can be easily removed and are tender.

That's about it! How easy can that be? Next week I will post one of my favorite dipping sauces by Ellie Krieger.

Blueberry Clafouti


This summer I am really trying to take advantage of all the fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season. I am not usually very good at that, but this year I am doing quite well. The other day I got a great deal on blueberries and decided to make one of Joey's favorite desserts, Blueberry Clafouti. Clafouti is a custard-like French dessert with fruit. It's baked in the oven and is not only really easy, but very delicious. We got this recipe from Dave Lieberman's show on the Food Network, "Good Deal with Dave Lieberman." They are not making new episodes of this show, but if you can catch it, it's really worth a watch. Some of my favorite desserts are from that show.

So, take advatage of fresh blueberries and whip out this tasty dessert. You will be glad you did!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pints blueberries, washed and drained
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch fine salt
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place blueberries in the bottom of a small rectangular glass pan (about 8 by 10 inches).
  3. In a medium bowl, crack eggs and whisk lightly. Add sugar and continue whisking until mixture thickens and is pale yellow. Add milk and vanilla; whisk to combine. Add flour and whisk to combine. Add a pinch of fine salt and whisk to incorporate. Pour mixture over berries.
  4. Bake on the center rack of the oven until the clafouti has puffed and the center bounces back when lightly pressed, about 45 minutes, rotating once.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before cutting. Slice into 8 equal pieces and gently remove from pan with a spatula or cake server. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Lowfat Apple and Cinnamon Cake


Joey and I really both love dessert, but it's hard to find desserts that are figure friendly. Yes, I know all about Skinny Cow, etc., but sometimes we really want something besides ice cream.

Now, I am not a baker at all. While I do own a fancy mixer, it pretty much sits there neatly covered. I have had so many of my baking attempts fail, that I am always hesitant bake. This time I am glad I took the chance, because not only is it figure friendly, it's super tasty.

I got this recipe from the new Lifetime show, "Cook Yourself Thin." This particular recipe stood out to me because it uses sweet potatoes instead of butter or oil. The outcome is extremely moist AND extremely dense. You can not eat a huge slab of this, so I guess this makes it even more figure friendly. I followed the recipe really closely except I didn't have an 8-inch springform and was not about to buy one. (Okay, I confess I would have bought one but I couldn't find it in my neighborhood.) I used an 8x8 square metal baking dish and it turned out just fine.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1 large apple (about 10 ounces)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups finely ground almonds
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups peeled sweet potato (the white variety), finely grated at the very last minute to prevent
  • discoloration
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the icing
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the base and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with a little vegetable oil and a pastry brush. Line the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Peel, core and chop the apple into 1/4-inch cubes. Toss them in a small bowl with some lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
Notes

As I mentioned earlier, I did use a square dish rather than a springform. I did use parchment paper, though, and that was really helpful.

I didn't particularly love the icing. It could be that my powered sugar is too old, but when I make this again I am going to use non-fat whipped topping or ice-cream instead.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream


Our friend Kevin has this amazing herb garden and brought us over a huge bag of herbs the other day. All sorts of delicious treats - parsley, sage, rosemary, (no thyme), marjoram and a mint. A lot of mint. I could figure out what to do with all the other herbs, but what was I going to do with all that mint? I decided that I would make some sort of dessert thing with it but couldn't figure out what until Joey reminded me that I had a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. I had bought it refurbished a couple years ago and totally forgot I had it. The one and only time I used it was not at all a success, but I thought, "What the heck?" I will try this again and went out on a search for Mint Ice Cream.

It's amazing how hard it was for me to find a recipe that actually used fresh mint. Finally I found one on Epicurious by Isaac Mizrahi. Now I am a huge fan of The Fashion Show so I just had to try this out.

I followed the recipe fairly closely, but I have adapted it. First off, I don't like food coloring and refuse to buy it and for this recipe the natural green of the mint comes shining through as you can see from the pictures below. Second, Isaac must be a huge chocolate queen because he calls for WAY too much chocolate. I have cut that in half and trust me you will want to follow my recipe below and do the same.

Ingredients

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (original recipe called for 8 ounces)

Instructions
  1. In large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar.
  2. In heavy medium saucepan over moderately low heat, stir together milk, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and mint. Heat until steaming but not boiling, then remove from heat.
  3. Ladle about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent eggs from cooking, then slowly stir the egg mixture back into the hot milk, whisking constantly.
  4. Place over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon (finger drawn across spoon will leave clear path), 5 to 6 minutes total (do not let boil or custard will curdle). Strain through fine-mesh sieve into large bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids.
  5. Whisk in heavy cream. Cover and chill until cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  6. Process custard in ice cream maker, adding chopped chocolate during last minute of churning.
  7. Transfer to airtight container and freeze until hard, about 3 hours.

Baked Brie with Dried Cherries and Toasted Almonds


Every once in awhile I make something that I am particularly proud of. Something that just turns out so right that I even surprise myself. That was the case when I made this Baked Brie. Not only did it look beautiful, but it was cooked to perfection. That doesn't happen to me all that often. My food usually tastes pretty good, but it rarely is pretty.

Joey and I have not had guests over since Christmas so when we planned afternoon cocktails and game night with Kevin and Karolyn I really wanted to make something special. I knew what our entree would be, Island Pork Tenderloin Salad, since Kevin had seen it on my blog and requested it. What, though, would I make for appetizers? I had made baked brie before with dismal results. Either the cheese came screaming out of the puff pastry or it stubbornly refused to soften. In either case it was a disaster.

Joey kept bring home rounds of brie, which was a sure hint that he wanted me to master this, so after and exhaustive search online I finally found a recipe I thought would work. Oh my goodness! JACKPOT! This is the perfect baked brie recipe. I found it on Food Network and it had five stars out of 45 reviews. The recipe is courtesy of Jill Davie. I have no idea who she is, but bless her! This baked brie turned out perfectly from the flackly crust to the ooey gooey goodness of the brie. The dried cherries, toasted almonds and brown sugar were the perfect filling. I even decorated the darn thing and it looked oh-so fancy. You MUST try this recipe. It is as delicious as it is beautiful.

Ingredients

  • 1 (7 to 8-inch) wheel brie cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 sheets (12 by 18-inch) puff pastry
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Remove puff pastry from package and thaw on table (at least 1 hour)
  3. Using a warmed sharp knife, or unflavored dental floss cut the wheel of brie in half horizontally and separate the top half of the wheel from the bottom half.
  4. Toast almond over medium heat until golden brown.
  5. Sprinkle the bottom half of the brie with the dried cherries, toasted almonds, and brown sugar.
  6. Replace the top half of the brie and apply pressure to secure the stuffing.
  7. Working on a well-floured surface, roll out the puff pastry so that it will fully cover the brie. (Don't roll it out too much, just enough.)
  8. Place the brie in the middle of the puff pastry and fold the excess pastry around the wheel.
  9. Put the wheel aside.
  10. Roll out another piece of puff pastry and cut out a circle the same circumference as the top of the brie. (If the pastry comes in a round box, just use that as a guide.)
  11. Save the trimmings for decorations.
  12. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg on top of the brie in the puff pastry and place the circle on top.
  13. Brush the top of the circle and and sides with egg.
  14. Cut out decorations using cookie cutters or a small knife and place on top of brie. (I did little leaves and made twists around the circle and a twist cross through the middle.)
  15. Brush the entire top side of the brie with the egg and place the brie on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  16. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pastry begins to turn golden brown.
  17. Turn the temperature down to 325° F and bake for another 20 minutes.
  18. Remove from oven and let sit about 5 minutes
  19. Place brie and serving dish and serve with sliced baguette or crackers.
Notes

I think the key to this is the higher temperature at first then lowering the temperature. I actually started this way too early so I lowered the temperature to about 250°, opened the oven door to cool it down and then baked it about 30 minutes more. Perfection!

Cornish Game Hens


Cornish Game Hens are one of my favorite things to make and one of the easiest. I don't know why I don't make them more often, I think I just always forget about them for some reason. When Joey brought a couple home the other day I was thrilled. Not only because I love them, but also because they are cheap! Only $.99 a pound! We got two hens for only about $3.00.

They are super simple to make. You start out with the main cooking instructions below and add your own twist. This time I used an apricot glaze that was simple and delicious, but there are many, many other ways to make them.

Another great thing about Cornish hens is that you can make as few or as many as you like. For this recipe I made two.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cornish Game Hens (about 1 - 1/4 pound each)
  • 1/2 cup Apricot Jam
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Clean and truss hens and place on a rack in a roasting pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mix jam, soy sauce, mustard and honey. Set aside.
  4. Roast hens for about 1 hour or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a knife and a meat thermometer registers 170°.
  5. About 15 or 20 minutes before the hens are done, brush the glaze over the hens.

Notes

I find Cornish Game Hens to be the perfect "test" kitchen for testing out new basting methods. They are cheap and you really can't go wrong.

Bacon-Braised Brussels Sprouts


Brussels sprouts. Even the name is not that appealing. I never once had these growing up and as an adult feared them. I don't know what I thought they would taste like, but I knew it couldn't be good. I carefully avoided these things until my 40s when I saw Tyler Florence make them on Tyler's Ultimate. Now it's no secret that that man could probably make kitty-poo on toast and I would try it, so why not Brussels Sprouts?

This recipe was the perfect introduction to this amazingly delicious vegetable. They are just like little yummy cabbages, but heartier. I am hooked.

This is a fairly easy recipe and I highly recommend it whether you have tried Brussels sprouts or not.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, washed,trimmed, and cut in half
  • 4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) bacon, cut into small squares
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves only, chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Take a large pan and set over medium-high heat.
  3. Add bacon and cook until fat renders - 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the smashed garlic clove, thyme sprigs and Brussels sprouts and cook gently until slightly caramelized.
  5. Add stock and reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Season with salt and a little pepper, cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes until tender.
  7. Remove lid and add a splash of vinegar and reduce until syrupy - 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. After Brussels sprouts are done cooking, put them in oven safe dish.
  9. In a large bowl toss panko with rosemary, thyme leaves and chopped garlic, then drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.
  10. Sprinkle panko mixture and Parmigiano over Brussels sprouts and bake in a hot oven until golden and crispy.


Notes

If you have birds, they LOVE LOVE LOVE uncooked Brussels Sprouts. I chop off the ends and peel off each layer like little pieces of lettuce. They all go nuts! Brussels Sprouts are also very good for them, so pick up a few extras for your little feathered friends.

Maple Sweet Potato Puree with Carmelized Onions


Joey and I have really been trying to eat a bit more healthily. It's not really working, but we are trying. One thing that we have recently started experimenting with is sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are not really something I ever ate growing up, even at Thanksgiving. Even when I did have at friend's homes on the holidays I really didn't love them. They were always SO sweet.

Oprah has recently been singing the praises of sweet potatoes so I thought we could give them a go. First we just baked them - pretty tasty! Next we tried mashing them. Again, tasty! Sweet potatoes are healthier than regular potatoes. Besides simple starches, sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene (a vitamin A equivalent nutrient), vitamin C, and vitamin B6. All that in a potato!

We were watching 5 Ingredient Fix with Claire Robinson and she was preparing an amazing meal and this recipe was on the menu. I wasn't sure if I trusted Claire yet, but she grew on me and I decided to try this recipe. Oh my, it's a keeper!

I was concerned that these would be really sweet because of the maple syrup, but they aren't at all. Combined with the onions it's just right. Adding the maple syrup to the onions really makes them a beautiful color. If you notice from my picture, my sweet potatoes are white. I have no idea why, they are just way. It's kind of nice for them to be that way if you are trying to substitute them for regular mashed potatoes. Visually it seems to work better.

This is one recipe I will be making again and again and I am sure you will, too. Also, be sure to check out Claire's show on Food Network. She has a lot of great recipes.

Ingredients

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into rough chunks
  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided in 1/2
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • Hot water (or stock - vegetable or chicken)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place sweet potatoes, 1/4 cup of the maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large mixing bowl. Toss to evenly coat and place on sheet tray.
  3. Roast in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft. Be sure to check on them after 15 minutes and stir, if needed.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter and add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  5. Add the sliced onion, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Saute until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  8. Transfer sweet potato mixture to a food processor, (may need to be done in batches) and add about a tablespoon of hot water or stock. (Add water or broth, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the pan becomes dry.)
  9. Pulse until just blended and then add half the caramelized onions.
  10. Pulse just a few times until desired consistency, adding more hot water for a smoother puree.
  11. Fold in remaining caramelized onions, reserving some for garnish.
  12. Serve in a warm dish and garnish with the reserved caramelized onions.
Notes

I wanted my potatoes really creamy so I added a lot of broth. I used broth instead of water as the original recipe stated because it gives it much more flavor. I used chicken, but vegetable would work just as well.

Bodum Brazil Coffee Press


I love a good cup of coffee. I love the way it tastes; the way it warms me up; and, most of all I love that caffeine buzz you get. It really is the perfect way to start the day. However, I must admit since I started telecommuting, I had given up on having a good cup of coffee until now the Bodum Brazil Coffee Press. This little gem has changed my at home coffee life.

Let's start at the beginning. I have a very pricey Cuisinart coffee maker that also grinds the coffee for you. When I saw it, I really HAD to have it. (I am a total appliance whore.) I had something similar when I lived in Japan and I loved it, so I was certain this would be the same. Nope. After two years of the blandest coffee ever, I just gave up. It had to be the coffee beans I was buying. I kept hoping Mrs. Olsen would show up and show me how to make the richest mountain-grown coffee, but alas, she never did. I tried everything but I figured I was destined to never have good coffee at home.

I was driving to work one day and my colleague said that he used a French coffee press. I thought that was really fancy and not something I would do. Of course I looked it up when I went home and Amazon obviously knows me because it only showed me the most expensive coffee presses available. $50.00?!!! No way! I had my fancy coffee maker already. I am not going to spend more money on something that I didn't even know would work.

When Joey and I went to Monterey, I commented on how amazing the coffee was at the B&B we were at and how my colleague had said he used a coffee press. That was it and I forgot about it. The next week my Teddy came home with the Bodum Brazil Coffee Press. I was concerned he spent too much, but it was only $20.00 at Target! Let me tell you, that is $20.00 well spent. It makes the most amazing coffee.

I already had a Krups coffee grinder that I have had for almost 20 years. (I got it in 4th grade. :-) So luckily I could still use my coffee beans. The first time I used the press I was in heaven. The best coffee ever right in my own home!



The coffee press is very easy to use:

  • Just grind your coffee coursely (or have it ground that way) 1 spoonful for every 4 oz. of water.
  • Place it in the press
  • Add boiling water and stir with a plastic or wooden spoon
  • Place the lid on and let steep for 4 minutes
  • Press down
  • Enjoy the best coffee ever
I am really happy with this coffee press. So much so that my coffee maker has disappeared somewhere into Joey's storage realm. If you want it, it's yours!

Chicken Katsu


Everyone has their special go-to meal and mine is chicken katsu. This is one of the very few dishes I can make without a recipe. In fact, I never even had a recipe for it.

I started making this years ago in Japan and my dear friend Carla taught me. At that time I could barely make toast so this was all sorts of challenging for me. However, Carla was very patient, even when I called her 100 times with the same question. I owe a lot of my cooking skills to Carla, so every time I make this dish I fondly think of her.

Almost everything in this recipe comes from things I have on hand in my pantry, but everyone stocks their kitchen differently, so you might not have everything, but you should have most.

Panko, or Japanese breadcrumbs, used to be rather hard to find, but now seem available in almost every grocery store in the Asian food section. I am seeing them used more and more on the Food Network, so I am assuming they are readily available. Panko is made from bread without crusts and tends to be lighter, crispier, and crunchier than western bread crumbs. They are more coarsely ground than western bread crumbs and tend to absorb less grease and stay crispier longer. They also have a more flake-like quality. When you fry with Panko, the result is lighter than with western breadcrumbs that hold on to the grease. Panko is not particularly flavorful, but absorbs or compliments the flavor of your food. I love it for breading food and it's also tasty on top of casseroles drizzled with butter.

Tonkastu sauce is used as a dipping sauce with this recipe. "Ton" means pork and "katsu" is cutlet. This recipe originated as pork cutlets and works just fine with pork. However, I have always preferred it with chicken. I can buy this sauce easily in San Francisco, but I am not sure you can get it everywhere. It's a kind of thick Worcestershire sauce that uses pureed apples as a principal ingredient. It is not at all tangy like barbeque sauce and has a very pleasing unique flavor. If you can't find it in your local store you can order it online or try one of the numerous recipes online for it.

For me, the key to making this correctly is pounding the chicken to about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick and heating the oil to the right temperature - about 350° F. Be careful, the oil takes much longer to heat up than one would think.

I always serve this with white rice, miso soup and tsukemono (Japanese pickles). You can really skip the tsukemono, but you need the rice and the miso soup is really nice and is another easy to find staple in the Asian food section.

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil (about 32 oz.)
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs - beaten
  • 2 cups Panko
  • Tonkatsu sauce
  • Prepared white rice
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet preheat the vegetable oil to 350° over medium high heat. You should have about 1 1/2 - 2 inches of oil. (This takes about 15 minutes)
  2. Put a large piece of plastic wrap on a cutting board and place chicken in the right half. Fold the left half over the chicken.
  3. Using a mallet (or other item) pound out the chicken to about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Pound from the middle out to the side
  4. Place flour, eggs and panko into separate bowls.
  5. Creating an assembly line, coat the chicken breast in flour, then egg then panko. Use one had for the dry ingredients and the other for the eggs
  6. When the oil is hot enough, place the two breast of chicken at a time gently into the oil using tongs. (Don't do this with you hand. Been there. Done that. Learned a lesson.)
  7. Cook chicken about 3 - 4 minutes or until golden brown. (If you have less oil you are going to need to turn the chicken over. Also, the chicken does continue to cook when you take it out so the key is "golden")
  8. Place chicken on paper towels to drain.
  9. Cut chicken into 1/2 inch strips and place over white rice.
  10. Drizzle a bit of Tonkastsu sauce over the chicken for a dramatic look.
  11. Serve with a dipping bowl of Tonkatsu sauce, miso soup and a huge portion of white rice. If you have it, a bit of tsukemono would be awesome.

Notes

This breading works on almost every meat and is amazing on oysters. I went on a huge deep-fried oyster kick in Japan and served it with a simple dipping sauce of jarred salsa and sour cream. YUM!

Boy this sure makes me miss Carla. I think I need to email that woman right now!

Easy Hummus


One of the hardest things about trying to diet is what to snack on. I mean we all get munchy during the day and they do say lots of small meals are better than one or two big ones.

I have always loved hummus, but I never thought of making it at home until I found a recipe in my favorite Weight Watchers cookbook, Take-Out Tonight. They have a very easy and figure-friendly recipe in there that I have modified a bit. Now while this is probably not "real" hummus, it's pretty darn tasty. I love the lemon in this recipe. It really provides a brightness. For an extra kick I add a few slices of jarred jalapeños.

This is a great snack, with pita bread, carrot sticks, celery or endive.

Ingredients

  • 2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 cloves garlic (3 at the most - be careful)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste (about two good pinches)
  • 5 slices jarred jalapeño peppers (optional)
Instructions
  1. Drain and rinse garbanzo beans, reserving the canned liquid.
  2. In food processor or blender, combine garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, cumin, and salt. Blend until mixed.
  3. With food processor running gradually add about 2/3 cup of the reserved liquid through the feed tube and process until very smooth. (Add more or less depending on consistency.)
  4. Add five slices of jarred jalapeño peppers. (This is just the right amount for a nice kick.)

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad


I found this recipe in Gourmet magazine when I first started to really cook. For me this was way fancy. I honestly had never made anything like this. This recipe is actually the reason I bought an iron cast skillet. It was worth it! It's always a show stopper. It's not only tasty but it also has a great presentation. Pork tenderloin is really so delicious and combined with the avocado, fruit, cabbage and spinach this is a certain winner. I wondered why I didn't make this more often than I do, but realized this really isn't a dish for two or for leftovers. This is something you would want to serve at a nice summer dinner or to really show off at a pot luck. Honestly, though, this is one of my favorite dishes and you just have to try it.

Ingredients

For pork
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pork tenderloins (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
2 tablespoons olive oil

For glaze
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Tabasco

For vinaigrette
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions


Prepare pork:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon, then coat pork with spice rub.
  3. Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until just beginning to smoke, then brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes total. Leave pork in skillet.

Make glaze and roast pork:
  1. Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco and pat onto top of each tenderloin.
  2. Roast in middle of oven until thermometer inserted diagonally in center of each tenderloin registers 140°F, about 20 minutes.
  3. Let pork stand in skillet at room temperature 10 minutes. (Temperature will rise to about 155°F while standing.)

Make vinaigrette while pork roasts:
  1. Whisk together juices, mustard, curry powder, salt, and pepper, then add oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified.

Prepare salad ingredients while pork stands:
  1. Cut peel, including white pith, from oranges with a sharp knife, then cut oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  2. Toss spinach, cabbage, bell pepper, and raisins in a large bowl with about 1/4 cup vinaigrette.
  3. Halve, pit, and peel avocados, then cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Assemble salad:
  1. Cut pork at a 45-degree angle into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  2. Line a large platter with dressed salad and arrange sliced pork, oranges, and avocados in rows on top. Drizzle some vinaigrette over avocados and oranges.
  3. Pour any juices from skillet over pork.

Romantic Dinner At Home


Joey and I just celebrated our 5th anniversary and wanted to do something really special. However, with Joey's layoff and the cuts at my company, we are counting pennies like everyone else. With that in mind a swanky dinner at Gary Danko was definitely out of the question. I remember Rachel Ray saying, "Nothing says 'I love you' more than a home cooked meal." On that note I am saying, "I love you" all the time, so how could I make this meal special? The menu was easy. I just saw Danny Boome's Hot Date episode so I knew what I wanted to make, but where would we eat?

We live in a very comfy apartment, but the only "dining table" we have is in the kitchen. We usually eat at our coffee table while watching TV. (Boy, that's romantic.) While I do love my kitchen it's about as sexy as a trip to grandma's house, so what was I going to do? Eureka! I am going to move my kitchen table to the living room. Heck, I am gay so naturally every light in my house has a dimmer switch - mood lighting was easy. iTunes would easily provide mood music. I could even stretch it to say the birds would add ambiance. My conundrum was what do to with that table? I decided to go to Ross and see what they had to offer. Oh, goodness, I LOVE a bargain. I found a tablecloth for $5.99; placemats and napkins for $3.99; and candles and candlesticks for $4.00! I even found some heart-shaped dishes for $2.99 each! Wow! All I needed was some flowers and I was good to go. (In all honestly, the flowers were my one extravagance at $15.00.) I set up my table and it looked beautiful.


For my meal, I chose something a bit fancier than our usual fair, but at the same time was easy and timely to make:
Filet Mignon
Potato Gratin
Pan-Fried Asparagus with Shallots
Molton Chocolate Baby Cakes

Well, our meal was a success. I managed to make "homecooked" sexy for the night. Honestly, I could have made Kraft Mac & Cheese and it still would have been special. This really make me think - we don't need to go out to fancy restaurants to celebrate the special times of our life. With a little creativity and love, we can celebrate those times right at home. As Dorothy said, "There's no place like home."





Happy Anniversary, Joey!
Thank you for five amazing years!
Here's to many, many more!
I love you!!!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Sean & Joey

Joey and I are just a couple of guys living in San Francisco. I love cooking and we both like trying new things. Planning our meals is one of our "together" things. I hope you enjoy our blog! - Sean

Dedication

This blog is dedicated to the two most important people in my life - my mom, Ernee Jean O'Brien, and my partner Joey Concepcion. They both have showered me with unconditional support and love and have always encouraged me to be myself. I will always miss my mom and I don't know what I would do without Joey.

Recent Posts



Blog Archive