Friday, August 29, 2008

Brillante - Dave Said So


I've been given this cute little award by Dave of Dave's Cupboard - the Brillante Weblog award. It is cute, isn't it? So, it is now up to me to share 6 things about ME and pass this on to six other bloggers worthy of this fabuloso award. (This is NOT, in any way, related to the real Brillante Awards).

First - Six Things About Anne:

1. I can not eat cherry pie. It's gross. I'm not sure why I feel this way, but I can tell you that I would not eat it in a box and I would not eat it with a fox. I would not eat it here or there, I would not eat it anywhere.

2. I don't own fancy schmancy kitchen gadgets. In fact, I prefer less to more. I wrote about my favorite kitchen tools once, and while I would love several large-ish fun things for my kitchen, I don't find them very necessary.

3. I'm movie-addicted. I can recite lines from many, many movies and movie lines often wind up in my daily dialogue. My oldest daughter is the same, so we can have nearly full conversations from movie lines alone!

4. I like scrapple. I don't care if it's made out of scraped hog's head and cornmeal. It's good.

5. I am the Queen of Hollandaise. I was so afraid to make it in school that I missed the day we were making it on purpose. I still had to do it the next day and was so good at it that other students would sneak off to find me and ask if I would make theirs.

6. Having to be a perfectionist, I always made Hollandaise by hand as well as meringue and whipped cream. This most likely contributed to the carpal tunnel syndrome I developed. I suffered with that for 10 years before having surgeries. I let it go so long that I now have some permanent nerve damage. I think Hollandaise made the right way was worth it, though.

I shall now tag the following Brillante webloggers with this award:

1. Kfarmer
2. Jenni
3. Kate
4. AJ
5. Melanie
6. Ian

By the way, if you've already been tagged, or just don't have the time (I usually don't!), please ignore me.

Tag rules:

1- Link to the person who tagged you.
2- Post the rules on the blog.
3- Write 6 random things about yourself.
4- Tag 6 people at the end of your post.
5- Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
6- Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

P.S. - Some people can be SO PICKY! I was doing a little play on words calling this a Brilliant(e) award, and several people didn't "get it" and felt the need to email me. *Sigh*. I'll keep my humor to myself, I suppose. I've corrected it to read Brillante - which is silly, but correct.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Donate to NieNie Today

I just found that a young and lovely couple - parents to 4 beautiful children - have been involved in a plane crash and are in desperate need of prayers and donations. Christian Nielson, his flight instructor Doug Kinneard and Christian's wife Stephanie, crashed near St. John's, Arizona.

Doug Kinneard died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Christian is burned over 30% of his body, and Stpehanie is burned over 80% of hers. I cannot imagine how horrific this must be for them, and how sad for their children.

Last year, when Marty fell, I received donations to help with my travels to and from the hospital and I am so very grateful for that. Won't you please help this family with their tragedy by donating to them or auctioning items or services? Click on the Donate button in my sidebar or check out the website for more information.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: The Complete Book of Garlic


When I visit my local food market to purchase garlic I have one of two choices - the usual papery skinned white garlic or elephant garlic. Occasionally I'll come across a purple striped variety, but that would be as exotic as it gets. My choices were limited to those three, and I was OK with that.

Now, though, I'm on the lookout for different varieties. Wait! There are more? You bet your garlic breath there is. How about Spanish Roja, Shvelisi, French Red Asian or Transylvanian? What about garlic that doesn't come in the usual artichoke shaped bulb? Did you know there was such a thing? Did you know that, just like apples, not all garlic tastes the same? I surely didn't.

Ted Jordan Meredith likens the varieties of garlic available to the varieties of apples we have at our disposal. Would you be OK with only Red Delicious apples being sold at your market? I know I wouldn't, and likewise, I shouldn't be satisfied with the usual Artichoke variety of garlic as the only type available to me.

The Complete Book of Garlic walks you through garlic from start to delicious finish. With chapters on Natural History, Cuisine, Therapeutic Benefits, Cultivation and Taxonomy and Diversity - you'll come away from this book a virtual expert in garlic.

If you'd like to grow garlic, simply at home or commercially, everything you need to know - the best type of soil, which variety is your best bet, how to water, when to plant and how to harvest - is included here.

I honestly never knew there were so many cultivars of garlic and I am now wiser and ready to branch out and explore my newly found options.

You can pick up a copy of The Complete Book of Garlic, A Guide for Gardeners, Growers, and Serious Cooks by Ted Jordan Meredith at the Timber Press website, or at Amazon.com.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

40

Today's the day I join the big kids - I'm officially 40 years old. 4-0. Forty. Four decades. Four times ten. You get the idea. When you're a kid, you think 40 is old. I mean, OLD ... gray, wrinkled, incontinent. Now I realize that 40 is NOT old. I don't feel old and I don't look all too old, either. I mean, on a good day I look like this (a really good day):



But this is what I look like usually, so I might be getting older than I think:


Ah well, someone has to scare the kids into getting off to school in the morning, right? At least this year I'm celebrating at home and not off at a hospital visiting my husband. Happy Birthday, ME!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Foodie Bucket List

I already went through the Omnivore's Hundred, spurred on by Cajun Chef Ryan. He left a comment on my Foodbuzz profile that got me to thinking (he seems to have that effect on me).

He wrote, in reference to his own list, "Now I have 33 new things to try before I die!". I just recently saw The Bucket List (loved it, cried too much) and I thought a list of the foods I would most like to try before I "kick the bucket" would make for a fun read.

I have to limit this to 10 (although it's more likely closer to 100) so I don't run out of space. Now, some of these foods are things I've had, but not in the proper arena, so that's been added as well.

So, read my list, grab this for yourself, and spread the word!

My Top Ten Foodie Bucket List

1. Bouillabase - within sight of the Mediterranean.
2. Tunnbrodsrulle -(HERE as well).
3. Gumbo, étouffée, jambalaya and muffuletta - all in NOLA.
4. Cafe au lait and croissant in Paris.
5. A chili-cheeseburger and hot dog at Texas Wiener II. (Again)
6. Sushi. Nope - never had it - I live a horribly sheltered life. Done, and DONE many times since 2009!
7. Paella in Valencia.
8. Maryland crab cakes.
9. Poi - in Hawaii, preferably!
10. Shawarma - missed my chance this year at Musikfest.

Ten shouldn't get anyone too far - maybe a year or two - but since most of mine involves globe-trotting, I figure it makes for a more interesting list and something to shoot for.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Last of the Tomatoes


Summer is just about over (even if the calendar reads differently) and the fresh, really good tomatoes are nearly gone. This is a super-simple way to use up a few of those red beauties.

Chicken Stuffed Roma Tomatoes
Printable Recipe

4 large Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
1 cup cooked and diced chicken
1/4 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced yellow pepper
1/4 cup salad dressing (I used, and really loved, Wish-Bone® Bountifuls™ Berry Delight™ Dressing)
salt and fresh pepper as desired

Combine chicken, yellow pepper, cucumber and dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Blend well. Stuff tomato halves and serve!

Smashies are Luvli!


We just sampled Smashies Organic Fruit Sauce from Luvli Foods in the Snappy Apple flavor and my kids slurped them right up. Yep, slurped. This apple sauce is like no other. When I was first pitched these as a mess-free snack alternative, I didn't believe it. I mean, my kids can make a mess out of anything. These are the exception. They are pure organic applesauce with no added sugar, salt or fat in a pouch with an 'sippable' opening.

The kids tore into them and had them gone in no time. I mean, they really, really liked them! They aren't the easiest crowd to please, either.

Smashies aren't in stores until October, but you can get samples for yourself at the website, a 10 pack Trade Sampler is $14.95 to anywhere in the continental U.S., which covers shipping and handling.

The Omnivore's Hundred

I caught this from two of my Foodbuzz friends, DogHill Kitchen and Cajun Chef Ryan. This is a list of "100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all" from Andrew Wheeler, co-author of Very Good Taste, a British food blog.

Rules are:

1) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
2) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

I think for a mom of 7 who has never been out of the country (except once to drive across Ontario) and with very limited means, I've gotten a few good ones out of the way (culinary school helped). I don't drink much at all, so many of those type are crossed off. I like this list - it gives me some new ideas for dishes I'd like to try and posts I'll be making!

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp (Once you've seen the shore of Lake Huron littered with dead ones - yuck.)
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries (Wild raspberries on South Mountain and mulberries everywhere!)
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - not a whole one, at least.
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (I've had Courvasier and cigars - but separate!)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (Just the burger alone is enough!)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (Edible, yes - but in what?)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis (I don't care if my ancestors are Scots - I'm not doing it, and you can't make me.)
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini (Just caviar - no blini)
73. Louche absinthe (Pastis is close ... right?)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sometimes it Really is in the Water


Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

You've heard the saying, "It must be in the water" in reference to local anomalies. Well, for gumbo, jambalaya and anything else made with water in New Orleans, that may well be true.

If you've been to NOLA, chances are you've gone home and tried to recreate a recipe for something fabulous you dined on while visiting. You may have headed to a local restaurant serving up NOLA favorites in search of that elusive flavor. It probably wasn't "just quite right", though and you were left feeling unfulfilled and trying to figure out what was missing.

It might be the water. If you don't live in or near NOLA, there's one way to find out if the water is the missing ingredient; visit Kitchen Witch Cookbooks and buy a gallon of authentic New Orleans water and have it delivered to your home. Then, try that recipe for gumbo again and see if the flavor isn't reminiscent of your trip.

Kitchen Witch Cookbooks is a bookshop in the French Quarter of New Orleans that specializes in "rare, hard to find, out of print and pre-owned books on food and cooking" - exactly my kind of shop! Please visit their website and read about them - their tag line is "Rebuilding New Orleans, One Book at a Time" - worth a look, for sure.

I made some of my own gumbo yesterday (chicken and sausage), and although it was better than usual, I bet it would have been fantastic with a gallon of that water.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: Garden Goods


This past Sunday my youngest son, 4, decided to help me in the kitchen. He doesn't ask all the time, but fairly often. The kitchen is very small so I usually decline his request, but this time I let him don an apron (and a folded towel that his 7 year-old sister insisted made him "look like a chef") and help out.

We weren't having anything all too wonderful; baked burgers in gravy, roasted potatoes, green beans with zucchini and salad. He got the burgers and potatoes settled into their respective roasting pans and headed out to the garden with me. We picked green beans, a cucumber, two small zucchini, basil, parsley and chives. The green beans and zucchini were tossed together with butter, garlic and Italian herbs and the basil, parsley and chives were chopped and put into our salad.

You know, everything was decidedly tastier with things we grew ourselves and with such a fine little sous chef to work with.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Spoiled

We've been spoiled with Harry & David again by Marty's Uncle Joe and Aunt Joan. At least it's not ruining our disposition any, not that I know of. In other words - spoiled, but not rotten. You know you're liked when this is delivered to your door:

Marty and I may share with the kids; if they're good.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Back in the Day


A long, long time ago at a restaurant not-so-far-away, my friends and I spent many a night hanging out and talking. The restaurant was the Perkins at routes 22 and 191 and the friends were usually my best friend Tommy and various other cronies ranging from my ex-husband (who was just my friend then), to Scott, Mark, Tony and occasionally, my other best friend, Marie. This was after high-school but just before I was married - two of the most fun years of my life.

We'd head there after a long night of doing nothing and sit at the large horseshoe-shaped booth in the back. We'd talk about everything, smoke too many cigarettes, drink too much coffee, and wait for our favorite waiter to show. Jack was the waiter who bent over backward for us and dealt with our messes, odd orders and general silliness. I was told that Jack has since passed, but I'm not sure that's true - so we'll just pretend that Jack is still somewhere out there making someone's life pleasant while they dine.

Jack was the only person on the waitstaff at Perkins that would make us one of our very favorite concoctions, the Mutant Milkshake. Other waiters and waitresses would flat-out refuse us and we never really knew why. I still don't know to this day what the big secret was - I know we were charged the full price for what we were getting; a banana split. The difference was, it was a banana split in a blender, and Jack was the only guy who would appease our strange appetites.

I made them at home recently and had to share the "recipe" with the rest of the world. It isn't as odd as it sounds - in fact, they're really good - even my kids think so. The ambiance here isn't the same as it was there - and it's not the same there anymore, either. Perkins was remodeled and the old horseshoe shaped booth is long gone. There isn't anywhere else in that restaurant where I'd want to sit and sip on a Mutant Milkshake, so I make them here at home now.

Mutant Milkshake
Makes 1 shake
Printable Recipe

1 small banana - cut into chunks
3 scoops ice cream, one each vanilla, chocolate and strawberry OR 3 Neapolitan
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
whipped cream
4 maraschino cherries

Place banana, ice cream, chocolate syrup and 3 cherries into a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and top with whipped cream and remaining cherry.
This is best enjoyed with friends, but drinkable if you're alone.

Eagle Snacks are Back!


Do you remember Eagle brand Snacks? I do. I'm old enough to remember the original 'A' shaped pretzels put out by Anheuser Busch as a snack to go with their beers.

I would accompany my step-father to a local grill to pick up cheese steaks and we would sit at the bar waiting for our order. It was then that I picked up my first Eagle Snack and fell in love with them. I was very happy to find that Eagle snacks were back.

We sampled all 7 flavors of the new Poppers and Bursts and and the kids couldn't keep their hands off them. So far the favorite is Honey Barbecue Poppers. Running a very close second is Salt & Vinegar Poppers. I wasn't too crazy about the Caramel Dulce de Leche Bursts, but that's OK, my husband finished the bag single-handedly. I can see us purchasing these new snacks often since there's a flavor that everyone seems to favor. I'm not surprised at all, they're just as good as I remember.

Don't forget to check out the website - if you're anywhere near my age, you'll love the vintage Eagle Snacks ads!

Un-Foodie Joust Entry: Sesame Shrimp Tempura with Cilantro Creme Fraiche



Last month's Royal Foodie Joust ingredients were coriander (or cilantro), sesame and seafood. I wasn't sure right off what I wanted to make, but then I settled on this recipe. I didn't submit it to the Joust, though - I didn't really feel like it was worthy of a contest and besides, I had gone and fried yet another food and couldn't shake the guilt.

Here it is anyway, they were very yummy.

Sesame Shrimp Tempura with Cilantro Crème Fraîche
Printable Recipe

16 large shrimp - peeled and deveined - tails left on
1 tablespoon sesame seeds - toasted
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 egg(beaten)
3/4 cup very cold water
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro - minced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup crème fraîche

Combine sesame seeds, coriander, salt and flour. Working quickly, add beaten egg and water until a loose batter forms. Keep batter away from heat while you are working. Dip shrimp into batter and then in very hot oil. Cook, turning once if necessary, until shrimp are pink and batter is just crisp - do not brown, they must be golden only. Drain on paper toweling.

For crème fraîche, combine all and stand in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving with hot shrimp.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Cutest Cakes Ever!


I was recently browsing around FamilyFun.com and found page after page of adorable cakes in The Best Cake Face-Off. Choose a category and vote between two at a time until you narrow it down to just two cakes for that category. See if the cake you pick is among the favorites.



It's so fun that the kids and I did it several times! The cakes are really great - far above my personal decorating (or lack thereof) skills. From Nemo to Wall-e and Disney Princesses to Darth Vader. Don't miss it! Click HERE to get started.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: Tickle Me Plants

I know I usually write about veggies on Wednesday, but this time I'm going for all-out green. I just planted and grew the cutest little plants you'll ever see, and I'm starting to wonder about plants in general after this.

You know how we've all heard that talking to plants helps them to grow? You know how we were told that it was because plants use the carbon dioxide that we breathe out to grow? I really am not so sure that's the only reason that talking helps!

Why is that? Well, when you stroke a plant and it folds up and "shies away" from you - you have to start wondering about why. My Katie (7) shrieked with delight the moment she touched our first grown Tickle Me Plant and it "pulled away" from her! I have to admit that I was fascinated as well and we called the whole family over to witness the same. They all love these little plants and check on them daily to see how they are growing. I can't wait for the flowers to grow and see the plants fully developed.

Our plants actually grew in just two weeks! We had 'tickle leaves' on ours within 3 weeks. I can't think of any other plant that has grown that fast. You have to see these for yourself, and you can do that HERE. Watch the video, read all about the plant itself, and order one to have for your own! You really won't be disappointed, these are just FUN to have around.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pennsylvania Taste of Elegance Chef Competition

I was invited to compete in this year's Pennsylvania Taste of Elegance Competition, but as life would so have it, I have too many things happening on the day of competition to make it feasible for me to attend and I also am not working full-time in a food service establishment - cooking for 9 a day doesn't count. I don't want anyone else in the Lehigh Valley area to miss it though, so I thought I'd share a few details.

The deadline for entries has passed, but anyone can attend the event held on August 25, 2008 at Northampton Community College. The winner of this year's competition, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Pork Producers Council and Cargill Meat Solutions, featuring Sysco’s White Marble Farms® pork products, will move on to the National Pork Board’s Taste of Elegance in Spring, 2009.

Details on last year's winning chefs and their dishes can be found HERE, and everything you need to know about attending this delicious event is as follows:

DATE: Monday, August 25, 2008
LOCATION: Northampton Community College - Hampton Winds Restaurant
The Gates Center
Green Pond Road
Bethlehem , PA, 18017
(It is across the street from the main college complex.)

TIME: Judging from 4-6 PM and open to the public from 6-8 PM

August 25th Taste of Elegance is open to the public!

From 6-8 PM, stop by Northampton Community College to meet the chefs and taste their creations as well as these additional appetizers prepared by NCC's culinary students:

  • Pulled pork on small rolls with chipotle BBQ sauce
  • Jerk-rubbed pork tenderloin with pineapple jalapeno salsa
  • Steamed pork dumplings with soy ginger dipping sauce
  • Spinach salad with warm bacon dressing
  • Mini sausage and pepper strata

    “Pork pairing” refreshments include two tickets for either Franklin Hill Vineyards wines or Mattman’s Beverage beers.

    Tickets are $15 – Proceeds benefit culinary students through a scholarship fund established in memory of Brian Ruth, a former culinary student at Northampton Community College.

    To register for the tasting and for directions, call 610-861-5519 or email bweppel@northampton.edu

    Doors open to the public at 6 p.m. Space is limited. Reservations are recommended.

    Winners will be announced at 6:30 p.m. during a news conference.
  • Royal Foodie Joust Entry: Orange Ginger Chicken Tabbouleh



    This month's Royal Foodie Joust brings on 3 ingredients that seem to have left a few people stumped: citrus, ginger and whole grains. Having just written about Tabbouleh at Short Order Mom, I knew right away that I would make a new tabbouleh-with-a-twist, and so I did.

    This was really delicious. I love the bright flavors of orange, ginger and mint, and combined they are refreshing and wonderful.

    Orange Ginger Chicken Tabbouleh
    Printable Recipe

    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cubed
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    Sea or Kosher salt to taste
    1 large orange - zested and juiced*
    1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
    2 tablespoons sliced green onion
    1/2 cup cracked wheat
    1 cup warm water
    1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
    1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

    *If you do not have 3/4 cup orange juice from the freshly squeezed orange, add enough store-bought to make that amount. The zest should amount to 1 tablespoon total.

    1. Toss chicken cubes with 1/2 teaspoon of the ginger, 1 tablespoon green onion, pepper, salt and 1/2 cup orange juice. Set aside for 30 minutes.

    2. Pour warm water over cracked wheat and let stand for 30 minutes.

    3. Cook chicken in a small amount of oil until no longer pink. Cool completely.

    4. Remove cracked wheat from water and squeeze out excess water with hands. Place into a large bowl.

    5. Combine 1/4 cup orange juice, orange zest, 1 tablespoon green onion, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and mix well.

    6. Toss drained wheat with parsley, mint, cucumber and chicken. Add orange juice mixture and blend well. Salt to taste and chill until ready to serve.

    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Book Review: Eat, Shrink and Be Merry!



    Yes, you read that title correctly - it's Shrink, not drink - and that's only the beginning of the fun word-puns that fill this very funny, very informative and truly delectable cookbook written by the already-successful Podleski sisters.

    Eat, Shrink and Be Merry, Janet and Greta Podleski's third book, is absolutely wonderful. I love reading cookbooks from front to back, and they have made it so easy to want to read this book. Not only is it laugh-out-loud funny, but it's so chock-full of interesting and essential tips that you won't find yourself picking it up simply to browse for a recipe. It's not possible to just look for a recipe with this book. I know; I've tried.

    No matter how many times I looked up a recipe in the index, I found it was impossible not to read every little tidbit on the page and just get to cooking. I did get to cooking though, and each and every recipe is fabulous. They've taken healthy eating to a whole new delicious level.

    Do you know what really causes a beer belly? Do you know why it's important to thoroughly chew your food? Do you know where all that cholesterol in your body is coming from? You might be surprised at some of the answers, and these girls give them and many more in this book.

    Did you know that every recipe in this book (except one!) is good for you? That includes this Shocklate Cheesecake (really!):



    Everybody now ... Ooooh, ahhhh!


    How about a recipe? Let's go with Worth Every Penne - a better-for-you and ramped-up version of classic pesto. Yum!

    Worth Every Penne

    Whole wheat penne noodles with chicken, bacon, vegetables, and pesto sauce

    To coin a phrase, “Pesto is the besto!” Okay, so it’s a dumb phrase.

    We usually make perfect cents. Take this spectacular pasta recipe, for instance: It’s penne wise, but not pound foolish, since we use high-fiber, whole wheat pasta and load up on the veggies and lean chicken. Worth the effort!

    Sauce

    2 tbsp basil pesto
    2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp liquid honey
    1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups uncooked whole wheat penne noodles (about 8 oz)
    4 slices reduced-sodium bacon, chopped
    3 cups sliced mushrooms
    1 cup chopped red onions
    3 big handfuls baby spinach leaves
    12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (see tip in margin)
    1/4 cup shaved Parmesan or Romano cheese, or
    1/2 cup crumbled light feta cheese (2 oz)
    Freshly ground black pepper to taste

    To prepare sauce, whisk together all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

    Cook penne noodles according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

    While pasta is boiling, cook bacon in a large, non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Remove and discard 1 tbsp bacon drippings from skillet. Add mushrooms and onions to skillet. Cook and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add spinach leaves and tomatoes. Cook until spinach is wilted. Stir in chicken and cook just until chicken is heated through. Add cooked penne noodles and mix well. Add reserved sauce and mix again. Remove skillet from heat. Sprinkle pasta with Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

    Serve immediately.

    Makes 6 servings

    Per serving: 331 calories, 10.6g total fat (2.9 g saturated fat), 27 g of protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 5.7 g fiber, 50 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium


    Not convinced that you should own this book? Here's a clip of these two extremely adorable (and smart, and funny) women doing their thing:



    If you'd like a copy of Eat, Shrink and Be Merry, (I know you do!) please visit the website HERE and take a look around.

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    Pernod - More Than Just a Drink

    The original Pernod was a wild concoction with an even wilder reputation. Today's Pernod no longer contains absinthe and is the only pastis made without liquorice. The result is a milder version of pastis that lends itself well to cocktails and many dishes.

    We tried Pernod in glasses with ice water at a 1:5 Pernod to water ratio. I can't honestly say that I was immediately enamoured, but I can see how it would be one of those things a person grows fond of over time.

    If you really want to know about Pernod pastis, visit the website. If you want to know more about pastis in general and how the Provençeaux feel about it, I suggest the chapter 'A Pastis Lesson' in Peter Mayle's book, Toujours Provence. It may not all be factual, but it will leave you wanting to sit back, kick off your shoes and sip a pastis while the time whittles by.

    If you're interested in cooking with pastis, something quite common in Provence, then this recipe won't let you down.



    Pastis Soaked Chicken
    Printable Recipe

    1 roasting chicken – 6 – 7 pounds
    1/2 cup pastis such as Ricard or Pernod
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1 large onion, sliced
    freshly ground black pepper – to taste
    Kosher or sea salt – to taste
    1 cup fresh tomato – seeded and diced
    8 cloves garlic – quartered
    1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
    1 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
    1/2 cup each fresh basil and parsley – chopped

    1. Several hours or up to one day ahead of roasting, mix together olive oil and pastis and pour over chicken. Rub well into skin and inside cavity. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and rub well again. Cover chicken and refrigerate until ready to cook.

    2. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, tomato, fennel seed, olives, parsley and basil and cook until onions are wilted and mixture begins to form a sauce.

    3. Set chicken on top of onion mixture and cover with a lid or foil.

    4. Roast at 350 degrees F for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, or until thigh meat is no longer pink.

    5. Rest before carving and serve with ‘sauce’ from the pan.

    *Adapted from Sarah Leah Chase’s ‘Pastis Soused Rabbit’ from ‘Pedaling Through Provence’

    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    Cooking with Anne: The Video

    Well, not really. This cute 30-second bit was put together in about 10 minutes at ANIMOTO, and thanks to Vidiblogs. It's a really simple process involving uploading 10 photos, choosing music and sitting back while someone else does the work. I think it's neat, and now that I know what is involved, I'll probably make another. Try it for yourself; the 30-second clip is FREE.

    Friday, August 01, 2008

    LOK/CWA Cooking Challenge Entries

    This is the final LOK/CWA Cooking Challenge, at least on my end. There will still be a cooking challenge, but it will now be hosted by Lots of Kids and Renee at Cornbread & Cookies. Please keep checking those links for the new challenges!

    Here are the entries for the last challenge, and I have to say that they all look better than mine did:

    Annie Jones at Real Life Living
    Kim at Growlies for the Gang
    Michelle at her blog on Large Family Network
    My own here at Cooking with Anne

    Well, we're not exactly Eric Riperts, but with so little to work with, it wasn't all so bad.