Archive for ◊ 2013 ◊

31 Jul 2013 Blueberry Heaven

 

Do you ever go into a bakery?  Of COURSE you do!  Do you ever buy a pastry that looks delicious, but then are seriously disappointed in the taste…? And then, to top it off, are you overwhelmed by the amount of  fat you’ve just consumed for something that really wasn’t that all that great?  Me, too 🙁 Do you ever wish, on a weekend morning with your second cup of coffee, for that imagined deliciousness, without all greasy pastry and sugary icing?  Me, too 🙂 Pssssst…  Come here! No, come closer! I am going to tell you how to make a breakfast pastry as delicious as the one you are dreaming of…, and without the load upon load of grease and sugar!

Now. Seriously…, am I your best friend, or what?!

It’s so simple!  You need 2 slices of bread, a bit of cream cheese, and a handful of blueberries. It helps if you have a sandwich maker or a panini press, but if you don’t, use a frying pan and make this Blueberry Heaven just like you would a grilled cheese sandwich.

I found the original recipe here: http://www.fitfromconception.com/2012/06/blueberry-breakfast-grilled-cheese.html  No, I am not pregnant, roflmao.  Neither are any of my children.  I have no idea how I ended up at that website, but I am glad I did.

Blueberry Heaven

[a Stand-in for Fat and Sugar Laden Blueberry Pastries]

For each serving:

  • 2 slices of bread, any kind.  Make it whole wheat if that’s the way you roll.  I use Orrowheat Country Buttermilk Bread.  Cinnamon bread would probably be delicious, as would almost any kind of homemade bread (don’t use homemade rye bread or anything like that!).
  • Plain cream cheese, enough to spread on two slices of bread.
  • a sprinkling of sugar, less than 1/4 tsp, optional
  • a handful of fresh blueberries, about 24 (jam can be substituted)
  • Butter, optional, unless you are using a frying pan

 

  1. Preheat sandwich maker, panini press, or frying pan.
  2. Spread each slice of bread with cream cheese, no measurements here, just coat the slices of bread to your preference. (If you are using a frying pan, spread the other side of the bread with butter)
  3. Sprinkle a bit, and I do mean a bit, less than 1/4 tsp of sugar over the cream cheese, just to sweeten up the cream cheese a little bit. (I’ve made this without the sugar, and it’s just not the same.)
  4. Arrange blueberries on one slice of the cream cheese covered bread.  Use as many as you want, but I think 24 is about perfect.  I like to evenly space the blueberries on the bread so I get an equal number of  blueberries in every bite.
  5. Put the other slice of cream cheese covered bread onto of the blueberries, cream cheese to cream cheese.
  6. Put the sandwich in the press, latch close, and cook for 2 minutes. (If using a frying pan, put the sandwich, butter side down on the preheated frying pan.  When the first side is golden brown, flip, and cook the second side until it is golden brown too.)
  7. Remove sandwich from the press or the pan and let cool a bit, the filing will be mad hot right out of the press. Be careful.
  8. Enjoy! It’s a little slice of heaven, isn’t it?
  9. Repeat.  You’ll want to make one for someone else… 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! Aren’t you glad you don’t have to drive over to the Olde Time Bakery for a pastry that will only make you feel badly about yourself? Hooray!!

24 Jul 2013 Triple Threat Chicken

Triple Threat Chicken on BBQ w smoke

What is Triple Threat Chicken?  Chicken breasts that have been 1) marinated, 2) grilled and 3) glazed!  Delicious!  I have been making this chicken for about five years now, and it has always been well received.  I served it last week at the Grand Opening of my Little Free Library(more about that later*), and one of my friends said, “If you post the recipe for this chicken, I’ll be tempted to start grilling again”.  Here it is!  Fire up the grill.

One of the advantages of this recipe is that you probably have all the ingredients for the marinade and the glaze on hand.  Well, all the ingredients except one, do you have Raspberry Vinegar on hand?  If you don’t,  substitute Red Wine Vinegar, but if you buy Red Raspberry Vinegar on your next trip to the grocery store, you will have some on hand for the next year or two (vinegar doesn’t go off)!

The disadvantage of this recipe is that you have to make two sauces, one for the marinade and one for the grilling, so it’s a few extra minutes measuring and pouring in the kitchen.  Just make both sauces at the same time, because some ingredients are in both sauces.

I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but boneless, skinless thighs can  be used just as easily if you prefer darker meat (any chicken parts can be used in this recipe, the boneless, skinless ones are just easier to grill).  I cut-up the chicken breasts, and cook the same pieces at the same time to ensure even cooking.  Don’t even think of cooking a whole breast, it’s too difficult, because the breast varies so much in thickness.

This is how I cut up the chicken breast:

First, I cut the tenderloin off; then I cut off the lower triangle of the breast; when I have just the thickest part of the breast left, I cut that in half.  I get four pieces of chicken from one breast.  The tenderloins and the triangle pieces are thin and cook the most quickly.  The thick pieces from the top of the breast take much longer to cook so put them on the grill first and the tenderloins on last.

Now here’s the most important tip for grilling the chicken:  half cook the marinated chicken on the grill, then take it off the grill and dunk into a pan with the glaze, then return the chicken to the grill to finish off.  This enables the chicken to cook before the glaze burns!  Novices will use a brush and brush the glaze on the half cooked chicken.  Silly novices.  Brushing does not get enough glaze on the chicken, and a lot of the glaze drips onto the coals, which causes flare ups, which causes hot hands and more burned spots than necessary.

But before grilling, you have to marinate, and that part is easy.  The chicken needs to sit in the marinade for 2-4 hours, so start early in the afternoon.  Remember to start your coals approx 40 minutes before you want to start grilling.  Grilling the thickest parts of the chicken might take 20 minutes, the thinner tenderloins might take only 5 minutes.  All of these times are approximate, and all depend on how hot your fire is.  Use common sense.  Don’t freak out.  The chicken would cook at different times in a pan on the stove, too.  Just keep  your eye on each piece of chicken, judging it as an individual, and you’ll be fine.  The picture above was taken on the tiny balcony of my daughter’s apartment, the first time she made this chicken, and only the third time she had ever BBQ’d. Doesn’t it look great?

Don’t forget to have s’mores for dessert, you don’t want to waste all those lovely coals!  For sides, we like to grill sliced zucchini and tomatoes fresh from the garden, but corn-on-the-cob, potato or pasta salad, baked beans, and garlic bread are also classic accompaniments.  Leftovers are great on a green salad the next day, or diced in a quesadilla or burrito, or added to stir-fried veggies and served over rice.

Polly’s Triple Threat Chicken

Desired number of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts each cut into 3 pieces (see note above).  One recipe of marinade will do for 6-8 breasts.  For more chicken, just double the marinade.  You’ll have enough glaze for a double batch.

For the Marinade
· ½ cup soy sauce
· ¼ cup vegetable oil
· ¼ cup red wine vinegar or raspberry vinegar (I keep a bottle of raspberry vinegar on hand just for this recipe)
· 1 teaspoon dried oregano
· 1 teaspoon dried basil
· ½ teaspoon black pepper
· ½ teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley)
· 1 crushed and chopped garlic clove (or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)

For the Glaze
· ¾ cup ketchup
· ¾ cup honey
· ½ cup soy sauce
· 3 crushed and chopped garlic cloves
· a few drops of Tabasco (I live in fear of hot and spicy food, so I only use about ¼-½ teaspoonful)

  1. Place your chicken chunks into a large Ziploc bag or marinating tray.  In a small measuring cup or bowl, combine all ingredients for marinade.  Pour the marinade over the chicken.  Refrigerate, and marinate chicken for 2 to 4 hours.  Remove from refrigerator one hour before grilling so the chicken can be at room temperature before putting on grill.
  2. While chicken is marinating, prepare the glaze.  Combine all ingredients and place in a bowl or container (the container should be big enough to hold chunks of half cooked chicken and be able to withstand the heat of half cooked chicken.  I use a large flat Tupperware container), stir well to combine.
  3. Drain the room temperature chicken from the marinade.  Grill.  Pick out similar size pieces of chicken and put them next to each other on the grill.  Put the thickest pieces on first, then the tenderloins, then those thin triangular pieces.  Turn as needed.  When the pieces are one-half to two-thirds cooked, remove from grill and dunk completely into the prepared glaze, turning to get a good coat.  Return the chicken pieces to the grill for an additional 2-3 minutes on each side.  The glaze will caramelize and look completely yummy.  Allow the chicken to get grill marks, but remove from heat before charring!!
  4. Remove chicken to a serving platter, and dig in!

NEWS FLASH! Look what was in the San Jose Mercury News today, August 1, 2013. The cutie patootie is my 2 month old grandson, awwwwww.

Jett recipe in newspaper

 

21 Jul 2013 “Magic Shell” Topping for Ice Cream

magic shell with bottle[3] rattie

It’s summer.  It’s time for ice cream, and the easiest recipe ever posted on this site! Magic Shell!  You know the stuff, right?  You squeeze the chocolate-y liquid onto ice cream and it hardens up almost immediately.  Then you can use your spoon and shatter the thin chocolate all over the ice cream. Then you can stir the chocolate pieces  into your ice cream, and when you have a spoonful of the concoction the magic shell shatters again in your mouth.  It’s lovely.  It’s chocolate-y. It’s fun. It’s magic. It’s easy.

The recipe only calls for two ingredients.  And once you make it, you can keep it on the kitchen counter in a squeeze bottle for up to a month.

You need good chocolate, and coconut oil. Coconut oil?  Yep.  It’s not as hard to find as it used to be.  I even saw jars of coconut oil at Walmart, and Costco is selling huge bottles of it now.  It should be on the shelf of your grocery store, next to all the other oils.  If not there, and you don’t shop at either Walmart or Costco, try Trader Joe’s.

Magic Shell

  • 5  ½ oz. good quality chocolate, milk or dark, whatever is your personal preference (don’t use chocolate chips, use some good quality bar chocolate)
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • Ice cream, for serving

Makes 1 cup

  1. Chop your chocolate and add it to a microwave-safe container along with coconut oil.
  2. Zap at 30-second intervals until chocolate melts into the coconut oil.  Stir well. At this point I like to pour my Magic Shell into a squeeze bottle, but this is not absolutely necessary.
  3. Pour mixture over ice cream, watch it harden, crack it open! Magic! Fun! Delicious!
  4. Because of the melting point of the coconut oil, the magic shell will stay liquid in a hot kitchen and solidify after sitting in a cold kitchen or the fridge. If your leftover shell hardens, just re-melt in the microwave. Stored at room temperature Magic Shell should keep for at least a month

Keep some of homemade “Magic Shell” and a carton of your favorite ice cream on-hand for quick, no cook, sort of special dessert.  Psssst…! Kids like to pour some rainbow sprinkles onto the chocolate sauce just before it hardens!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you again soon!

 

06 Jul 2013 Turkey Burgers with a Greek Flair

Turkey Burger

Want a new, different and totally tasty burger to add to your repertoire?  Here it is! A Turkey burger with a Spanakopita Flair.  This recipe was inspired by Rachael Ray’s, Spanakopita Burger from her book, 365: No Repeats.  I made her recipe “as is” last year, and it was good, but this year I made it my way (below), and loved it.  I grill these burgers, but pan frying works, too.  I am sure some cucumber raita would go well on these burgers but we ate them the traditional American way, on a good bun with sliced homegrown tomatoes, a bit of crunchy lettuce and ketchup. Make the patties as big or as little as you want. I made 8 patties, approx 6 oz. each, but I love those little slider buns that are available now and think hosting a BBQ and serving a variety of burgers would be fun.  You could make slider sized regular hamburgers, these Greek Turkey Burgers, and maybe a Salmon burger. Don’t forget the sides of watermelon, corn, and a pasta salad, and grill some of that zucchini that I know is taking over  your garden.  S’mores for dessert, of course.  How about my Peach Iced Tea or Blueberry Lemonade to drink? Done!  Send out the e-vite!

My son’s girlfriend just took a bite of my his leftover and warmed up Turkey burger.  Her exact words were, “WOW. That’s fantastic!” Yup 🙂  And she scored big points with the boyfriend’s mama!

Turkey Burgers with a Greek Flair

  • 1  1/2 lb – 1  1/3 lb ground turkey
  • 1 box (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup (4 oz) crumbled feta cheese
  • 18-24 (2-3 oz) Kalamata olives, diced
  • 1/2 cup very finely diced or grated red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley, if you have some on hand
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. – 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (the feta and olives are already salty so you can skip the added salt if you are salt sensitive)
  • 4 oz. applesauce (1 individual serving cup) OR 1/2 peeled apple, grated
  • 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (any breadcrumbs or Panko will work)
  • 1 egg, beaten

To serve: Buns, and choice of toppings.

  1. Place the ground turkey in a large bowl.
  2. Remove the defrosted spinach from the box and squeeze, and I do mean s-q-u-e-e-z-e ALL the water from the spinach.  I did not say drain, I said squeeze.  Take about 1/3 of the spinach into your hand and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze until totally dry.  Repeat until all the spinach is in little tight balls.  Fluff the balls up and add to the ground turkey in the bowl.
  3. Add to the turkey mixture the feta, olives, red onion, garlic, oregano, basil or parsley, salt and pepper, applesauce or grated apple, and the bread crumbs.  With a fork lightly mix the ingredients until everything has been uniformly distributed.
  4. Divide the mixture into 8 equal parts. Pat each part into a flat patty, just slightly bigger than your hamburger buns.
  5. Grill, or pan fry until done, about 3 minutes on each side, but this all depends on how hot the grill/pan is.
  6. Toast the buns!  (I love toasted buns)
  7. Serve with your choice of condiments–ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, riata, tomatoes, lettuce, grilled red peppers…

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  I hope you enjoy these burgers, we sure did!  They’re VERY tasty 🙂

24 Jun 2013 Crab and Brie Macaroni and Cheese

Crab and brie mac n cheese

Whooooa Nelly!  Crab and Brie Macaroni and Cheese?  Over-the-top decadence in a comfort food?  YEP! And the decadence makes the comfort food even more comforting–like ‘died and gone to heaven’ comforting!  Yet another winning recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication “Best Loved Reader Recipes; 125 Winners from 1930 to Today”. (My last post was a recipe for “Peach Iced Tea” inspired by a recipe from this magazine)

If someone is having a hard time, and that sweet “I am going to drop off a casserole” American tradition seems appropriate, THIS is the casserole to take.  I took it to my 120-miles away daughter who is bravely attempting a semester long college Physics course in a six-week summer session, working the 4 PM-midnight shift at Target, and sweltering in the hot central valley heat. I am not saying this Macaroni and Cheese is miraculous or anything, but she did  score 15 points over the class average on her first mid-term. Not dropping off a casserole to a friend-in-need anytime soon?  I’ll bet you’ll be going to a potluck then. Take this!  Want to eat it at home, like we did?  We had it with mixed roasted veggies, but a leafy green salad would be nice too, and a corn muffin.

This casserole is not cheap, but if you shop at Costco for your pound of brie and pound of crab (the only two expensive ingredients), it won’t break the bank and you’ll have made a casserole big enough feed a small army.

Truth be told, I was a bit afraid of this recipe at first, wondering if the Brie would be too strong, and wondering if I would be able to taste the crab over the brie.  Both worries proved needless.  Everything melds together nicely.  Comfortingly nice.  I’ll say it again, because it’s true, ‘died and gone to heaven’ nice!

I changed the recipe just just a bit; one, to conform to the quantities of crab and brie sold at Costco (no leftover bits and no need to buy two big cartons of anything) and two, to make the recipe a bit easier by  substituting panko instead of homemade bread crumbs. I also re-wrote the recipe a bit, making roux is not hard, just follow my instructions: brown the flour and butter (and don’t skimp on the butter), remove the pan from the heat, then vigorously stir in hot milk until sauce is smooth.

Enjoy your comfort food decadance.

Crab and Brie Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 lb. dried macaroni (small shells or elbows)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 tablespoons butter (maybe a bit more)
  • 3 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 13-16 oz. Brie, cubed
  • 16 oz. refrigerated container crabmeat, drained and flaked
  • 1/2 cup Panko or favorite breadcrumbs
  1. Cook macaroni in salted water according to package directions.  (Choose the shortest cooking time since pasta will continue to cook when baked.) Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-in by 13-in casserole dish.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute onion in butter until tender and golden, about 15 minutes.  (Do not skimp on the butter.  You’ll need the full quantity of  butter to make the roux in the step 5.)
  4. Heat 3 cups of milk in microwave until hot (3-5 minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, over medium heat, stir flour into onion and butter mixture.  Stir constantly for 3 minutes (to cook flour and to incorporate butter into the flour).  If mixture is too lumpy or dry, add an additional tablespoon of butter.
  6. Remove hot pan with onion and roux from heat.  Pour in 1 cup of hot milk.  Stir well, and keep stirring-vigorously if needed-until mixture is smooth and lump free.  Add another cup of hot milk, stir and mix again.  When mixture is smooth and lump free, repeat with last cup of milk.
  7. Return pan to medium heat. Add cubed brie to sauce in pan.  Stir constantly until brie is melted and incorporated.  Remove pan from heat when brie has melted and the sauce is smooth once again.
  8. Fold drained crab into cheese sauce then stir in cooked and well-drained macaroni.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Pour crab-brie-macaroni mixture into a well buttered 9-in x 13-in casserole dish.
  11. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top of macaroni and cheese.
  12. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until mixture is heated through and bread crumbs have browned.  If breadcrumbs don’t brown, turn on the broiler and broil casserole for a few minutes.
  13. Remove casserole from oven. Let cool 5 – 10 minutes, then serve. In a bowl, while curled up on the couch with a good book or good movie, or on a plate with roasted veggies or a salad, and maybe a small corn muffin. Enjoy.  Feel better. Ace the Physics test!

Leftovers can be reheated in microwave or frozen for a future treat.

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen again today,  I love having you drop by!  Let’s see what else I can make from this magazine. It’s supposed to be on the shelves until July 15, 2013, so if you see it, you might want to pick up a copy.

08 Jun 2013 Peach Iced Tea

2 Peach Iced Tea Vert

I made a Peach Iced Tea! I am so excited that I have to share the recipe with you, even as I work to make it more natural (off to the farmer’s market tomorrow for my first try). I didn’t want you all to have to wait until I got the natural version perfected as this version works fine!  I know there are hot days and summer parties in your near future–graduations, Father’s Day, showers, birthday parties, July 4th celebrations, and BBQ’s, so I know you need this recipe now!

This tea, as is, is not too sweet, and definitely has a pronounced peach flavor; it’s like Snapple Peach Iced Tea, only better!  Make the big-batch peach base to keep in the freezer and you’ll be able to whip up a quart of Peach Iced Tea for yourself and a good book! Or make a gallon or two  for a  summer party in a flash.  I, for one, would love to go to a summer party where there’s something to drink other than bottles of beer, soda and water 🙂 (BTW, I have a recipe posted for Blueberry Lemonade, too, which is also very good!).

The peach part of the tea was inspired by a recipe I found in a “Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication” entitled , “Best Loved Reader Recipes; 125 Winners from 1930 to Today”.  The recipe in the magazine was for a “Sparkling Peach Punch”, where the base below is mixed with ginger ale or sparkling water.  I tried both versions. The ginger ale version was very sweet, the sparkling water version was given a thumbs up by my daughters, but the iced tea version created by yours truly was the star of the show.

Notes:

#1 Make the base and freeze it in three 1-quart batches or six 2-cup batches.  Each 1-quart peach base will mix with 2 quarts of strong tea to make 12 cups/3 quarts of  Peach Iced Tea, add ice and you have a party!  Each 2-cup peach base mixed with 6 cups of strong tea will make 8 cups/2 quarts of Peach Iced Tea, add ice and a friend and you have a cool and tasty summer drink with which you and  your friend can enjoy a little down time.

#2 Make the tea twice as strong as you would for regular hot tea!  I prefer English or Irish tea bags such as Barry’s Irish Gold, or Yorkshire Gold or PG tips.  Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast tea is also very good (but, oddly, the English Breakfast tea isn’t very good at all). I use 3 or 4 tea bags to each quart of boiling water.  If I had to use Lipton or Red Rose Tea, I’d use at least six tea bags to a quart of boiling water.  I haven’t experimented with green tea, as I am not a big fan, but I am sure green tea could substitute for the black tea, and of course, decaf tea could be used too, if that is your preference.

#3 I don’t know why there is gelatin in the base, that’s one of the things I am going to experiment with and try to remove, but, I think it probably does add to the overall peachiness of the drink. Yes, yes, yes, one of the first things I will experiment with is using fresh peaches in place of the canned peaches…but until that happens, make this version, it’s yummy!

Peach Iced Tea

For the Peach Base:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 13-ounce package peach-flavored gelatin
  • 1 29-ounce can peach slices in light syrup
  • 4 11 ounce cans peach nectar (find them on the shelves of the grocery store next to the bottled juices)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  1. Combine water, sugar, and gelatin in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve the gelatin then remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Place undrained peach slices in blender, and blend until smooth.
  3. In a 1 gallon capacity bowl, pan or pitcher combine gelatin mixture, pureed peaches, peach nectar, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
  4. Divide peach mixture into three 1-quart batches or six 2-cup batches.  Use now (see steps below), or freeze until needed.  According to the original recipe, the base can be frozen for up to 3 months.

To Brew the Tea and Combine With the Peach Flavor:

  • Desired quantity of peach base (remove from freezer an hour or two before needing)
  • Tea bags (Make the tea twice as strong as you would for regular hot tea, see note #2 above)
  • Boiling water (You will need to make 2X the amount of water for the quantity of base you are using, see note #1 above)
  1. Pour the required amount of boiling water over the tea bags and let steep for 3-5 minutes.  Don’t let the tea steep for more than 5 minutes or it will start to get bitter.
  2. Fill a pitcher half full of  ice.  Pour the hot brewed tea over the ice. Discard the tea bags.
  3. Stir the peach base into the iced tea.
  4. Pour into glass and enjoy! ahhhhhhhh

It’s mercilessly HOT here, and I hate hot, but a glass of Peach Iced Tea, a day off, and a good book does make the summer somewhat enjoyable(!)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  I am going to try some more recipes from this magazine–Calypso Shrimp Skewers, Coconut Salmon Curry, Macaroni and Brie with Crab, Green Beans with Basil and Mint, so stay tuned!

BTW, if you have the magazine, I’ve already tried the “Bagel, Lox and Egg Strata” recipe… The picture looked great.  The make-ahead casserole wasn’t bad, but neither was it great, and I see no reason to make it again.