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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Arriba's with the family

I had dinner last night with my Mom & brother at Arriba on Camelback. Their pozole is really good. It is super spicy, with pork, hominy, radishes, cabbage and comes with flour or corn tortillas. The kiddos eat free on Sundays, fyi. And they have weekly specials...check them out at:


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sour cream coffee cake with...cranberries!

Isn't this a pretty cake?

I have a new work schedule these days but my sleeping clock hasn't adjusted quite I'm up early on a Saturday morning. What to do, but bake? It's much preferred to doing laundry.

Sour cream coffee cake with cranberries

1 cup butter
1 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup cranberry sauce

Let your butter soften from the refrig - I like to take out all of the cold ingredients about 1-2 hours before I bake. Beat your wet ingredients and add the dry. Beat to combine, then turn out 1/2 mixture into a greased bundt pan (I find nonstick works best). Spread your cranberries over the mixture and cover with remaining batter.

This cake bakes at 350 degrees for 1 hour. I like it for breakfast. It's also good for snacking. I typically don't discriminate. Mmmm...

I'm trying to decide if I should stop shopping at Fresh & Easy based on this news, especially since The Dude from the Big Lebowski is my hero...your thoughts?

British Supermarket BANS Shopping In Pajamas

First Posted: 01-29-10 10:52 AM | Updated: 01-29-10 11:15 AM from The Huffington Post


A Tesco supermarket in Cardiff, South Wales has banned customers from shopping in their pajamas, reports. A spokeswoman explained that the move was in response to customer complaints pertaining to other shoppers' outfits.

The store has installed a sign labeled "Tesco Dress Code Policy," which reads: "To avoid causing offence or embarrassment to others, we ask that our customers are appropriately dressed when visiting our store (footwear must be worn at all times and no nightwear is permitted)."

Jeans and sneakers are permitted.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Whole cranberry sauce

Ever since I was a girl, in my family we have made cranberry sauce from the same recipe:

1 bag cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

You let the water come to a simmer, add the sugar and stir it about so it can dissolve, and then add the cranberries, bringing them to a soft boil until most of the berries have "popped."

This cranberry sauce has a very nice consistency. Not only is it good as a side dish with turkey, chicken and cornish game hens, but you can use it on toast instead of jelly, as it has the consistency of a preserve. And cranberries are high in antioxidants, lots and enjoy them! Tomorrow I will use it in a sour cream coffee cake I am baking and sharing with my Mom. Will post a picture. In the meantime, check out the finished product - homemade cranberry sauce.

Arugula and whole wheat pasta salad

I believe that part of my job as a food blogger is to inspire people to get into the kitchen, therefore I like to post a lot of quick and easy recipies.

Here's lunch today.

Cooked 2 cups Trader Joe's whole wheat penne pasta
added a few green onions, chopped
added a handful of arugula (what was left in the refrig)
I cooked the pasta and added it to my greens, dressed with olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper.
Putting pieces of baked chicken on top at lunchtime.

Mmmm yummy lunch!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New York Times post - can opener

Isn't this cute? If I hadn't bought a great one recently (picture above) at Standard Restaurant Supply (2922 E McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85008) I would get this. The one I use is called Swing - a - Way and it works great every time.
This store has everything you need for your kitchen, including a lime squeezer - essential for chamoyadas and micheladas - and they also have flour sack towels in multi packs.

A Lift to Any Can

Published: January 26, 2010

This blue whale can opener (which also comes in black) is not only winsome, but is also a clever and effective tool. The best part is that there are no dangerous sharp edges left on the can or the lid.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Turn the “spout” of the whale clockwise and after a quarter-turn you can feel it locking on. Keep turning. When you are done the lid will be sliced at the rim, and a little grabber on the side will help remove it.

Whale LidLifter by Kuhn Rikon is $18 at Zabar’s and from, (866) 233-6587.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sour cream coffee cake - take three

I'll be making a sour cream coffee cake soon with cranberry sauce. It will have a ripple effect throughout the cake and is very pretty. Pictures to come soon.

Stuffed peppers with olives and raisins

Stuffed peppers with olives and will say this sounds like a strange combination. It is sort of a sweet/savory/sour thing - if that makes sense. I will be making these in the next few days and will post pictures.
My aunt Char has made these for years and likes to serve them in lieu of a salad if salad greens don't look so good at the market.
Try this and you will be amazed.

4 bell peppers
1 large bagel or 4-5 slices white bread (make into breadcrumbs)
1 cup olives
1 cup raisins
salt/pepper/oil/red wine vinegar to taste

Clean your peppers and cut in half so they can be filled. Mix your breadcrumbs with the olives and raisins. As you would dress a salad, use oil and vinegar on the mixture - salt & pepper as you like. Then fill your peppers and bake them in a dish with high enough sides that they will not slide out (a cookie sheet is not recommended for this). Put a little water and red wine vinegar in the bottom of the pan to help them steam. Cook them at 400 degrees, covered, for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

I have been known to eat these for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. The taste is best at room temperature. Even if you are skeptical about how these flavors work, you should give them a try. Humor this kitchen wench!

Baked oregano chicken

I baked a piece of oregano chicken for lunch tomorrow - the same chicken I made earlier in the week but the picture didn't save to the card. Now you can see what the finished product looks like.

This is easy to make with few ingredients:
  • chicken (I used a huge breast, bone in...but thighs work great also)
  • oregano
  • vinegar
Sprinkle chicken liberally with oregano and bake in a 400 degree oven. Baste a few times during the cooking process and add a splash of red wine vinegar at the end.

This is a very economical, homey and juicy main dish. Goes great with a green salad and/or baked potato...and a glass of shiraz would be nice, too! An added bonus is that your place will smell delicious even hours after making this yummy chicken.

Nostalgia for Spain, cont.

My friend Arantzazu in Samaniego sent me an email today that said, "By the way, have you ever been to a tipical cider-house near San Sebastian? You eat standing, there is just eggs with cod, cod with pepper, meat and cheese, nuts and quince in the menu. You can drink as much cider as you want to and everybody pays the same, about 20 € I do think it is worth to go, so we have a plan for the next time you come."

It's on!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nostalgia for Spain

Do you ever have nostalgia for a place you've been before? I spent a lot of time in Spain (Vitoria) during my last year of high school and tonight I am craving palmeras de chocolate. I used to buy them on the weekends when I would go barhopping with my friends - they were sold on street corners of the casco viejo and also I would buy them on my way home from school in the afternoons, before la comida, much to my host mother Malen's chagrin.

I can't find them here. Trader Joe's sells them without chocolate, as well as Cost Plus and AJ's. So far I am liking the AJ's version the most, but alas, they are not con chocolate. If you have seen them here (in Arizona), please let me know. Here's a picture to whet your apetite as well...

Lazy dinner - Pizza Hut

I caved tonight and picked up a pan Pizza Hut pizza (supreme) with green peppers, onion, sausage and pepperoni. Did I mention their $10 any size/type pizza deal going on now? Three slices later, I am feeling quite satisfied.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Whole wheat penne pasta salad

This is a great pasta salad, simple, with fresh ingredients. It will make you feel healthy.

Serves 2
2 cups (uncooked) Trader Joe's whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup black olives
some chopped green onion
a few leaves of frozen or fresh basil, chopped
a few pepperoncini

Cook your pasta and then add it to the bowl of veggies that you have waiting. Season with olive oil, vinegar, salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

You will love this salad. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baked oregano chicken & arugula salad

I made an early dinner today but my pictures didn't save to the card - so I can't share them with you. But, I will make this again soon and remember to post a picture. This chicken is very juicy and tasty. You must make it.

Oregano chicken for one:
1 chicken breast, bone in
sprinkle liberally with oregano
place in pie pan covered with tin foil
bake at 400 degree preheated oven for 1 hour
baste a few times during the cooking process, at the end add a splash of red wine vinegar

arugula salad for one:
fill a salad bowl with arugula, 10 or so grape tomatoes, a few black olives and chopped green onion.
dress with a simple vinagrette. I usually make it in a drinking glass that is short, using olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Dijon is nice in this too if you have it.

gin & soda water with lime

My first bilingual post - stuffed peppers with cous-cous

Thank you to my good friend Yecla in Germany for submitting this recipe and a picture of her yummy stuffed peppers. I can't wait to make these.

peppers stuffed with Cous-cous

It is very simple, you prepare the cous-cous according to the packaging, when my friend made this she only cooked it for a few minutes and added a little salt. You mix the cous-cous with a few pumpkin seeds and a few pieces of diced tomatoes.

Clean the peppers and take out the stem, then cut in half. Then you fill them with the cous-cous mix and put a little cheese on top - you can be creative and use whatever cheese you like.

Bake in a 350-400 degree oven for 20 minutes...enjoy!

pimientos rellenos de Cous-cous

Es muy sencillo, preparas el cous-cous según lo que pone en el envase, en mi caso, fue suficiente con cocerlo durante unos minutos y añadir un poco de sal. Lo mezclas con algunas pepitas de una (media) granada y con trocitos de un tomate, anteriormente cortadito.

Tomas los pimientos. los limpias, les quitas el rabito y los partes por la mitad. Después los rellenas con la mezcla y les pones unos trocitos de queso por encima.

Lo metes todo en el horno durante unos 20 minutos y ¡que aproveche!

Un saludo desde Alemania

Ode to fruitcake and a homemade latte

I start a new job tomorrow! Let's all hear it for full time employment!

My tummy is a little nervous (upset) but one thing that will calm it is a nice slice of fruitcake and a big latte. I think it is the dried fruits in the cake that I like the most, they give the cake a homey feel and it reminds me of something my Mom might make. She is a great baker, btw. Last week she gifted me some apple muffins and she said she was not particularly fond of them. I told her to let them sit a day or two in the refrig and she might like them more...I'm not sure why this is, maybe the fruit matures a bit (?) but I find that muffins with fruit taste better on day 2 or day 3 (or day 4 if there are lots). She put cinnamon and sugar in these...they were so yummy.

The fruitcake pictured was a gift and came from Colin Street Bakery. They have their own fruit orchards and do not use preservatives. I highly recommend these cakes, even after the Christmas season I have been known to order them.

Wish me luck tomorrow at the new salt mine.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Peanut Butter & Nutella Panini

Okay, folks...any fans of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups out there? This had to be posted. It's in the New York Times online this week. Sounds yummy!

Peanut Butter and Nutella Panini

1 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter 

24 slices of Pepperidge 
Farm Very Thin white bread 

1 13-ounce jar Nutella. 

Preheat a panini press or George Foreman grill. Spread about 2 teaspoons peanut butter on each of 12 slices of bread. Spread about 1 tablespoon Nutella on each of the other 12. Put the peanut butter and Nutella slices together and grill until marked and crispy. Use a silicone spatula to remove.

Makes 12 sandwiches. This recipe appeared in “The Mantry” by Oliver Schwaner-Albright.

Recipe #2

On the Abuelita Box (hot Mexican chocolate) there is a recipe for a peanut butter smoothie made with Abuelita chocolate:

3 cups whole milk

1 1/2 tablets Abuelita chocolate

1/4-1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

ice cubes

Heat milk and Abuelita chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Mix frequently until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat; refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place chocolate mixture and peanut butter in blender; cover. Blend for 1 minute. Serve over ice. Serves 4.

Dulcería Pico Rico - Mexican candy store

Yesterday while my car window was being repaired at El Generalito (mechanic) on 16th Street, I stopped by Dulcería Pico Rico - a Mexican candy store at 2533 N 16th Street. It is a lot to take in: piñatas, confetti, all kinds of Mexican candies (I found some tamarind candy - see picture), party favors, decorations, etc. If you want to get your party groove on a la Mexicana, this is the place!

Didn't get a picture of my favorite piñata they had - Hello Kitty. Next time!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cool tote bags - great for grocery shopping

I was the recipient of a neat tote bag recently that is great for grocery shopping. Now I am helping to sell the bags in an effort to help the environment.

* These are handmade, reusable tote bags, fully lined. Each bag is unique. Bags are 18-22" wide and approximately 15" tall. Handles approx. 20-30" long. They are great for shopping.
* Many are made with fabric purchased from Goodwill.
* Bashas' and Food City gives shoppers a 5 cent discount if you bring in your own bag. Then when you get home, the bags are easier to carry from the car, and there are fewer plastic bags to send into the landfill.
* The bags are light weight and folded, are extremely compact.
* Boaters: Bags take up very little space on the boat - great for carrying stuff to the marina.
* Traveling to Europe? Ireland? New Zealand? In many countries, stores charge extra to customers who need bags.
* Traveling: Bags are easy to fold and slip into a suitcase. Souvenir shopping? Stash one or two folded bags in your purse. At the end of the day, you return with 1 or 2 sturdy, lightweight fabric totes rather than several bulky shopping bags.
* Mothers with young children - Want to or need to carry on an extra change of clothing? Spare diapers? Bottle? Small toys? Lightweight cloth totes keep the stuff together.
* Workers - Carry your lunch to work.
* Students - great for carrying books and folders.
* Some people like to carry sets of bags in their car, so when they stop for groceries after work, they have their bags in the car. A set is 3 or more totes folded and carried in a smaller tote.
* Pricing $25.00 per tote. Purchase 3 and receive a small tote to keep them together.

We can arrange for shipping at a $5.00 charge. If you would like to purchase, please let me know. I have more pictures if you would like to see other colors.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Serious foodie or nutball? #3 - last one today

Woman charged in McDonald's rampage

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A woman has been charged with trashing a McDonald's restaurant in Missouri because she was unhappy with her cheeseburger.

Police said they received many tips after releasing video of the Dec. 27 incident.

In the video, which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times online, a customer is seen throwing a sign and a water dispenser over a counter and pushing three cash registers to the floor.

On Tuesday, the Jackson County prosecutor's office charged 19-year-old Alesha McMullen of Kansas City with Class D felony property damage. It wasn't immediately known if McMullen has an attorney. A phone listing for her could not be found.

Police say McMullen told officers her order was prepared wrong and the restaurant refused to give her a refund.

Serious foodie or nutball? #2

Alleged burglar cuts hair, fries chicken, watches TV

Associated Press

EASTON, Pa. – An eastern Pennsylvania man was charged after he allegedly broke into a home, cut his hair and prepared fried chicken before being discovered.

The man was charged with breaking into the home in Easton, about 50 miles north of Philadelphia. According to court documents, the homeowner returned home Sunday to discover him watching TV and cooking chicken.

Authorities said the man threw a rock through a front door window to get inside and appeared to have rummaged through every room in the house. He also took a shower.

The man faces burglary, criminal trespass and other charges and was being held on $15,000 bail.

Serious foodie or nutball?

Alaska man gets day in jail for throwing taco

Associated Press

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - An Alaska man who hit a Taco Bell manager in the face with a double-decker taco has been sentenced to one day in jail and one year probation.

Warren Strickland of Fairbanks must also pay a $100 fine after pleading guilty Tuesday to disorderly conduct.

The 31-year-old says he threw the taco because it contained spit after he went through the drive-thru twice because the restaurant messed up his order. He claims the manager accused him of lying to get free food.

Strickland is barred from Taco Bell during his year of probation.

Inexpensive yummy lunch options - part II

In anticipation of my new job starting next week, we went out to lunch today at Arriba's. Have you been to Arriba's on Thursdays? They have $2.00 chimichangas, your choice of red or green sauce. People, you must go if you have not been...or, you must return! We ate 2 chimis each plus had a side of guac and two drinks. The bill came to only $14 and change. Needless to say, we tip big on such a good meal deal like this.

And if you go at 3:00, happy hour starts...$3 draft beer and wine. They are still serving chimis at this time, btw.


Inexpensive yummy lunch options

I'm getting ready to start a new job and I need some inexpensive and portable yummy lunch options.

So far I have:

  • PB & J (TJ's brand) on whole wheat toast w/ grape jelly and a piece of fruit
  • Arugula salad with poached chicken, almonds, dried cranberries, and dijon vinagrette
  • Whole wheat pasta salad -penne is my favorite shape - with grape tomatoes, basil, olives, and dijon vinagrette
  • Leftovers, which may include chicken fajitas, chicken pasties, spaghetti, tamales, etc.

Your ideas are appreciated. Do you have favorites?

I'm trying to figure out how to bring my chamoyada supplies without drawing attention, any suggestions? (chamoy, asian peanuts, limes, mango, large glass, large spoon, straw, tamarind candy)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Filiberto's - Priest & Washington

Have you been to the new Filiberto's yet in Tempe? They have a 99 cent menu on Tuesday has become our regular haunt. 99 cent taquitos (with cheese), bean burritos, chicken and beef tacos. It is such a deal. We got out of there for less than 8 bucks - my novio had a chicken torta (sandwich) and we shared a large horchata (milk/rice drink), I had a small rice and 3 taquitos. And the free salsa bar was over flowing with 3 kinds of salsa, spicy carrots/onions/peppers and chips. You gotta go! Arriba Filibertos!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chamoyada vs. diablito

Today I called Oasis Raspados on 32nd Street, they are still on vacation, so I could not get a chamoyada like I wanted. However, La Michoacana was open (just north of Oasis) on 32nd Street and I ordered a diablito. It is very similar to a chamoyada, but a bit spicier. My version had shaved ice, tamarind fruit, chamoy, asian peanuts, chili powder and a tamarind candy "straw." The flavor was right on. The chamoyada that I get at Oasis seems to have a finer ice grind, and they use tamarind candy on top - they are in rolls and are called "serpentinas."

I forgot to take a picture of my diablito today from La Michoacana, I think I was just too excited to eat and got right down to it. When I go back again, I promise to take a picture and post it. They also make tortas (sandwiches) and have ice cream. There is a pleasant seating area and the workers are very friendly. Verdict: delish!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tortilla española

I have become even fonder of the Tortilla española (Spanish omelet) lately, since I've been trying to economize and make yummy things...

You can do variations of a tortilla;my boyfriend likes it when I put in peppers and onions but you could use chorizo, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, cheese...almost whatever floats your boat.

For the tortilla, I use 3-4 small potatoes or 1-2 big ones. I wash them well and poke holes in them, then wrap them in a half sheet of paper towel and they go in the microwave for 7 minutes. Then I cut them in bite size pieces and saute them on medium heat in a skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil. This is also when I add a chopped bell pepper and half of a chopped onion (I like white or purple). Once everything is browned, I add 6 beaten eggs - or you can use egg white if you prefer - and let the eggs set up so it can be flipped. It may take a few tries before you become an expert at this, ideally use a plate that just fits over your skillet. So, flip your tortilla, put it back in the pan and let the bottom side brown, until done. I sprinkle mine with kosher salt.

Marinated red peppers are a nice garnish for tortilla. Serve with a green salad, crusty bread and little vino tinto -red wine - if you have it.

Tortilla is also nice the next day; put it on crusty bread, wrap in tin foil, and you have a tasty and portable lunch.

If you would like a tasty potato side dish for a baked chicken, make these potatoes (minus the egg) and they are called O'Brien potatoes. Brown them well and if you have red and green bell peppers it makes for a nice visual. An old haunt of mine that used to make O'Briens was Munch a Bagel on 7th St. and they were delish. They are especially good food for la cruda (the morning after).

Abuelita hot chocolate

I needed a warm up today, it is cool and rainy...Abuelita hot chocolate sounded like just the ticket. (It is something my grandmother would have made for me, if she would have known about it). I used half a tablet (there are 6 to the box) and 1 ½ cups 1% milk. Just warm the milk and your tablet will dissolve. There are little bits that remain in the bottom, a bit grainy and cinnamon-like. This drink did not need extra sugar for me but if you need it, try a teaspoon and go from there. This will put a smile on your face.

They also have a liquid version but I have not tried it yet. Might be good for the workplace! (or on ice cream, for that matter. Hmmmm…)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chicken fajita pasties

I'm a frugal gal these days...but I still like variety. How can one achieve variety in cuisine using leftovers, do you ask? Well, if you've made chicken fajitas yesterday, you can have chicken fajita pasties today, with minimal effort - no joke! I combined a stick of butter with 1 1/3 cups of flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt and ice cold water to combine. Then I let the dough rest in the refrig for 30 mins before rolling. Roll the dough as thin as you can get it (dust with flour) without having it stick to your rolling pin or the surface, then fill with your leftover fajitas and crimp the edges and make slits so the filling can steam - you can also add chipotle en adobo but I forgot to do this. Look how yummy they turned out. And they smell amazing...

Speaking of rolling, I was reminiscing recently about my Mom's old rolling pin - it was wooden, thin and made by my late grandfather Elmer, who formed it from a dowel. He made one for my aunt and my grandmother as well. He was a clever man... always fixing things, such as our 8 track tapes, which inevitably needed repair after being handled so much by my brother and me. Speaking of rolling pins, I have been promised a new one via my boyfriend's sister in Hermosillo. The ones they use there are quite thin and he promises that it will look much different than a traditional one that I use at home. I am always excited about a new kitchen gadget.

The pies bake at a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. These are good with a salad but tonight I think we are having them solo.

Miracle Mile - delicious sandwich

I had lunch today with my friend Elaine, her mom Peggy and my Mom. Elaine and I go way back, even though we never attended the same school. We grew up in the same neighborhood and now that she lives in Lake Havasu, we see each other less, but we are still connected. She told me that she has started a running program - go Elaine! I think it's great when a person decides to start a new hobby or fitness regimen. It's important for us to have outlets. One of my outlets is food - as if you didn't I'm posting a picture of my lunch today with Elaine at Miracle Mile (18th St./Highland). Chicken salad on pumpernickel with fries and an iced tea. Thank you Peggy for treating us to lunch!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Staying for dinner? We're having chicken fajitas.

We had chicken fajitas tonight - Food City had chicken breasts on sale at $1.99 a pound - a great deal. I browned a chopped potato too, and threw that in, which is not a regular ingredient in fajitas, but sometimes I like a potato and bean burrito from Filiberto's... and I'm always thinking about Filiberto's. One of the Fili's we go to is on Indian School Rd. and 32nd St. They have a salsa bar with really good spicy carrots and their chicken torta (sandwich) is really tasty. My novio claims the guacamole is better at this location vs. others.

Btw, did you know Filiberto's opened a new location at Priest and Washington and they have a 99 cent menu on Tuesdays that includes many yummies such as 3 taquitos with cheese. And they have a full salsa bar with...chips! And they have Mexican Fanta and Coke. And, a sweet lady always serves us.

But, I digress...this version of Fajitas also has chicken, sliced purple onion, bell pepper and pickled jalapeño peppers and carrots, which was my novio's idea and it gave the fajitas a nice layer of spice. I first browned the chopped potato in a little olive oil and then let it steam a bit (under cover). Then I browned the chicken pieces and lastly the veg. Then I combined it all and served it in flour tortillas. We used Marisol's tortillas that we picked up last weekend - you can order these via me...just email me and let me know you want to order empanadas, tamales or tortillas (or all three!) and Marisol will take care of you. Buen provecho :)

Olive Penguins - appetizer

Here is a blurbie about making olive penguins, from Serious Eats - it's an appetizer made with olives and pickled carrots. Sounds good to me! And, they are cute...
I saw this last week on Andrew Zimmern's website, and then forgot about it. He's the guy who does the Bizarre Foods show on the Travel Channel. It's pretty funny and informative if you haven't seen it. I don't have cable anymore, so I have to live vicariously through the host's website. Here is a link:
His website is pretty cool, btw. There are interviews of other foodies like Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel.

Trader Joe's strikes again - dinner!

We had Trader Joe's whole wheat fettuccine with marinara sauce last night. The pasta has a lot of heft to it - and a good mouth feel. I was thinking it would be also nice with butter/olive oil/garlic. TJs marinara sauce doesn't have any preservatives so it has a fresh tomatoey taste. You could add some chicken pieces to this and have a faux chicken cacciatore but we felt like a lighter there you go. We had an appetizer/dessert before hand, frozen yogurt - have any of you been to Yogurtland in Tempe? It is so cool...there are over a dozen yogurt flavors (some nonfat) and a bunch of toppings from fruit/cookie pieces/candy/granola. The best part is that for the two of us it was just over 4 bucks! They charge 30 cents an ounce. And it is self-serve, which makes it more fun. They have inside/outside seating and get pretty bz on the weekend. If you haven't been, you gotta check this place out.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Blueberry muffins

My mom made blueberry muffins – and gifted us some - they are a thing of beauty. Lots of blueberries…and she gives credit where credit is due: the recipe is from the Fanny Farmer cookbook.

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 stick melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¼ cup blueberries (put these in at last otherwise your dough will be purple!)

Sift dry ingredients together. Beat eggs w/ sugar, add milk, vanilla and melted butter goes in last. Add the dry into the liquid and combine. Fold in blueberries. Use paper liners in your muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 12.

Citrus salad variations

Mark Bittman has a recipe for winter citrus salad in the NY Times this week. The picture that he posted is very pretty, it looks like blood oranges, regular oranges and grapefruit. It reminds me of a salad my Dad told me he made last week with broccoli (steamed) and oranges. I think he said he put olive oil and salt on it and ate it at room temperature. My grandma used to make an orange salad with sicilian (wrinked, cured) olives, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. My aunt likes to put oranges in her salads when tomatoes don't look so great at the store. She uses butter lettuce when she does this. I'm thinking fennel would be nice in this, too. My aunt's neighbor, Bob, let me pick grapefruits from his tree today - I took about ten - so I'll be eating a lot of grapefruit over the next couple of weeks. He also gifted us a couple of opera tickets for a dress rehearsal of the Arizona Opera's performance of La Bohème later this month...thank you, Bob!


It seems like I need one of these at least three times a week. Maybe more. Yesterday I had frozen waffles instead - I don't know what made me think that would be a good substitute...but there it is. Today I made a big one (see picture) with pear since that's the fresh fruit I had around. I'm using a bit more chili powder these days and more chamoy. It makes it extra spicy and seems to warm me up. I'm not getting the ice as fine as I would like though. Have any of you had experience making snow cones? If you use an ice crusher/shaver that works well for you, please tell me about it. Something that's portable would be ideal since I spend time here and at my novio's so it could go back & forth. Or maybe I should just have 2...? The decisions a culinary person must make!

Steak salad #2

Had much better luck with steak salad, version 2 today. The pan was hotter, so I got a better sear on the steak and remembered to season at least on one side with salt. Also remembered to cook it for less time so it was truly the way I like it - medium rare. I put in a few extra craisins (dried/sweetened cranberries) and almonds for texture. The vinaigrette was right on target with the perfect balance of acid (vinegar) to olive oil. I always eyeball it so I don't have an exact recipe, it's a splash of oil, a splash of vinegar - sherry vinegar is nice if you have it, or champagne vinegar - and fresh cracked pepper & salt. You can see this version looks even yummier (is it possible, really?) than the one I made before. Make this for yourself, you will feel full and healthy. Happy munching.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


We had pizza tonight from Father John's (Papa John's), courtesy of my novio's neighbor, Joey. It was a nice treat since it had been awhile since we had pizza. I'm always partial to neighbors who procure a tasty pie (Joey brought two so he gets snaps)! And Joey brought over his friend's doggie, Dwight, who he is pet sitting. Dwight is of the part chihuhaua and part terrier persuasion, in case you were wondering...

Steak salad

Yesterday I was reminiscing about a steak salad I had at Z Tejas years ago that prompted me to create my own version (mostly to economize and for convenience too). So today I went to visit my friends at Food City and picked up a cut called beef bottom round steak. The package contained two good sized steaks, albeit a bit thin (but less than $3.00). There’s enough for lunch, round 2: tomorrow! This version of steak salad is simple and healthy. Disclaimer: I do not eat a lot of red meat. It is too expensive to raise, and not good for the environment vs. what we get out of it. So, I only make this once in a great while, or twice in one week – in this case, since the package contained two steaks. But it is yummy :)

In a medium size salad bowl (this is for one person) combine red lettuce torn into bite sized pieces and slice some purple onion - a few slices and put on top. Add some craisins - a half handful - these are dried, sweetened cranberries. Then a half handful of almonds, I swiped some out of my Trader Joe's trail mix. I make a simple vinagrette for this...some dijon whole grain mustard would have been nice, but I didn't have it so I just used olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Then I seared the steak on both sides - this was a bit thinner than the ones I usually use - if you have the $, get a rib eye...they have the marbled fat and make for a delicious steak salad. Anyways, it got a little more done than I usually like, which is medium rare. But, the finished product was delicious. I let the steak rest about 5 minutes covered before slicing it on a bias and then put it on top of the greens, then the dressing went over it. Sorry folks, the salad is a little out of focus, I think I was so excited to start eating it, I was shaking...enjoy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's for dinner - Kung Pao chicken

I'm cheating a little on this one - using Dynasty bottled spicy hot Kung Pao sauce. My Mom is really good at coming up with sauces on her own, but I need a little help. I looked at the ingredients, and I'm going to make it myself when the bottle runs out. The main ingredients appear to be water, rice vinegar, sesame oil and jalapeño pepper. This sauce would also be good for potstickers - Trader Joe's makes a veggie version that steams well (pan frying works too) and I can see it working with this sauce as a dipper.
So, the ingredients for tonight's meal - Kung Pao chicken:
2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 to 3/4 bell pepper
2 carrots
1/2 purple onion
I cut the veg in bite size pieces and set aside. Meanwhile I browned the chicken in a skillet and added some olive oil, then the veg and let it simmer on low for a few minutes, then added the sauce. It smells so good in here right now.
On the side I'm making a brown basmati rice (thank you again Trader Joe's) with chipotle en adobo - just broke off a couple of pieces from my freezer bag and put it in with the rice and after browning the rice in a little olive oil. I used about 3/4 cup rice and 2 cups of water - chicken stock would be good too but I didn't have any tonight. This would be nice garnished with cilantro but alas, we're out of that too!
A good trick for leftover chipotle peppers en adobo (comes in a small can) is to freeze it in a ziplock, flat and then you just break off what you need. Convenient and waste free. I use it on baked chicken and in an arroz con pollo that I make on the stovetop. Spicy!

Sour cream coffee cake - take two

I decided to share this cake recipe again; it is that good. I made another one today and I'm posting pictures of the finished product and the process of "building" the cake. You put half the batter in the buttered pan (ideally you have a non-stick bundt pan) and put your nuts on top, then some cinnamon. Then cover it with the rest of the batter. It turns out so pretty. You can sprinkle powdered sugar over the top but I think it's fine au natural. I also included a picture of the bowl I made the cake in, you can see that with my new spatula (courtesy of Target) the bowl is super clean and I got all the batter out. Efficiency! But really, you have to make this cake.
Sour cream coffee cake:
1 c butter
1 1/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c sour cream
2 c flour (I use a tad less)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 handfull of chopped pecans and a sprinkling of cinnamon for the middle of the cake
Or, you can use a bit of brown sugar in the middle, this is nice too.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream and beat. Add dry ingredients and combine. Put half of you batter in the bundt pan (greased or greased and floured if not nonstick) and cover with nuts and cinnamon. Then put the rest of the batter on top.
This bakes at 350 for 60 minutes. Let cool for 30 and remove from pan.
You can see the finished product is gorgeous! It is moist and perfect for breakfast, a snack or dessert.

French fries and new spatula

I bought a new spatula today (see photo). I'm excited because I've needed one for a long time but I've been pinching pennies. I liked that it is green (cheerful). If you don't have a good one, go down to Target and get yours for $1.99. Well worth it! I'm going to be using it a lot since I bake at least a couple of times a today. Another sour cream coffee cake, coming up. But first, there must be lunch. French fries, to be exact. I like potatoes with the skin on - my Mom taught me to wash the skins really well so that we could enjoy the whole potato when she would make bakers - the skin was always my favorite part. She would butter the outside of the potatoes and cook them in a 400 degree oven so the skin would get crispy but the inside of the potato would still be soft.
For fries, I take 3-4 small russet potatoes - or 2 large ones - wash them well, then slice them in good sized wedges and soak them in ice cold water for 10 minutes.
Then I dry them and put them on a cookie sheet with a few tablespoons of olive oil.
Bake at 430 oven for 10 minutes in a preheated oven, turning them so they brown evenly and knocking the temperature back about 10 degrees and giving them another 10. They will be brown and delicious, like these.
I like to put a little kosher salt on them and let them rest a few minutes since they are screaming hot when they come out. It's like eating bar food, which I enjoy immensely. Speaking of bar food, Hazelwoods Bar near me has a trivia night that is kind of fun - on Wednesdays. And their wings are delish. A black and tan sure does sound good right now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Food festivals

In October of last year, I went with my mainsqueeze to Carlsbad, where my father lives (see photo of his girlfriend Saykham). The lovely Saykham took us to a food festival in San Diego at a meditation ranch of sorts, that had many persimmon and avocado trees. We tried all different types of foods from Thai to Chinese...some of the foods we ate are pictured in addition to some skillfully decorated melons. If you get a chance to go to a food festival and try something new, do so. Expand your palate and learn of other cultures. What a beautiful thing...