Friday, November 21, 2008

Caramel Apples

First, you want to get your apples ready for dipping. Rinse a bunch of granny smith apples. These work best because they are tart and crisp. Make sure the apples are fully dry after rinsing. Remove the stems from the apples (just twist them off). Then, insert the stick where the stem was! You can use little craft sticks, popsicle sticks, or I've even used chopsticks before!

Get a tray or cookie sheet of some sort out and butter it or non-stick spray it well! You don't want the apples to stick.

Now, to make the caramel.


*1 lb. brown sugar--

light or dark brown (I've used both, but now I usually use dark just because the caramel turns out... darker and looks pretty)

*1 cup light corn syrup

*1 cup butter

*14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

Cook the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a large pot until it boils. Add the can of sweetened condensed milk. Stir constantly and cook until reaches between soft and firm ball stage (between 235 and 250 degrees F on candy thermometer). The longer you cook it, the harder/chewier it will be, so it depends what you want. *DISCLAIMER! NOT ALL CANDY THERMOMETERS ARE ACCURATE....... unfortunately the past two times I've relied soley on a candy thermometer...I have realized that the thermometer isn't working and the caramel is so hard you can't even eat it!

So, my suggestion is.......

Do the cold water test!

Drop a small spoonful of the hot liquid into a cup of cold water. Reach into the cold water and grab out the caramel mixture. If you can't pick it up because it is too runny, you know you aren't there yet. Let it cook longer and try again in a bit. Here is what you are looking for.... Something between Soft and Firm-Ball Stage.

(Here is what the stages should feel like, just so you know when you're getting close)
Soft-Ball Stage 235° F–240° F
"At this temperature, sugar syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft, flexible ball. If you remove the ball from water, it will flatten like a pancake after a few moments in your hand.
Fudge, pralines, and fondant are made by cooking ingredients to the soft-ball stage."

Firm-Ball Stage245° F–250°

"Drop a little of this syrup in cold water and it will form a firm ball, one that won’t flatten when you take it out of the water, but remains malleable and will flatten when squeezed. Caramels are cooked to the firm-ball stage."

Alright, once your caramel is the desired consistency, quickly pour it into a deep glass bowl. Now, you are ready to dip!
The sooner you dip the apples, the thinner your layer of caramel is going to be, because it will be more hot and will run off. If you let it set for like... a minute then start dipping, you'll get more caramel on there. It's really up to you. Of course, once it cools off too much, it gets so thick in the bowl that it is hard to dip the apples very well. If this happens, you can stick the bowl into the microwave for a few seconds to thin it out a little bit, then continue dipping.
For the best dipping coverage and smoothness, grab the stick, put the apple into the caramel at an angle, and turn it to cover it with caramel! Once it is fully covered to your liking, hold the stick strait up over the bowl so any excess caramel can drip into the bowl. Then, place the apple on the prepared tray to set.
Once all your apples are covered in caramel, you can coat them in whatever you want! If you want something like nuts directly on the caramel, put the nuts on before the caramel sets. Otherwise, you'll want the caramel to cool before dipping in chocolate.

Here are other options:
Chocolate! I just melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave, then either drizzle it on the apple, or dip it. Make sure when you are melting your chocolate that you don't do it too fast.... heat it at about 30 second intervals, stirring between each heating. If you just leave it in there long enough to melt it, it will burn.
White Chocolate! I use vanilla flavored Almond Bark. This is located in the baking section of the grocery store, by the other chocolate and stuff. I use this instead of actual white chocolate because it melts well and has a great consistency for dipping.
Nuts - almonds, pecans, peanuts....
Chopped up candy bars such as Snickers,
Cinnamon and sugar (put that on top of the white chocolate while it is still wet..... very good....).
Your options are endless really. Just have fun with it! Like I said, you can either completely dip the caramel apple in chocolate, or just drizzle it on with a spoon.
Cut slices off to serve and

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ginger "Snaps"

These have the flavor of a ginger snap... minus the snap.... they aren't hard and crunchy like the kind you get at the store. They are chewy... and delicious! We shall call them... Ginger Chewies. These are one of my all time favorite cookies. Thanks to Whitney Muir for giving me the recipe last year! A definite keeper.
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
*sugar, for rolling cookies in
*I use "sugar in the raw"/turbinado sugar for rolling the cookies in. What the heck is that, you ask???? Well,
"Turbinado sugar, also known as turbinated sugar, is made from sugar cane extract. It is produced by crushing freshly cut sugar cane; the juice obtained is evaporated and then spun in a centrifuge, or turbine (thus the name), which results in the characteristic large, light brown crystals.... A popular brand name for turbinado sugar is Sugar in the Raw."
Thanks Wiki.
Anyway, I like the big sugar crystals. They add a nice texture and taste to the outside of the cookie. I just bought it at a normal grocery store.... like Walmart or something. Give it a try!
1) Preheat oven to 350'
2) Cream shortening and sugar in large bowl.
3) Add molasses and egg; beat well.
4) In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Gradually add this to the shortening mixture; mix well.
5) Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
6) Bake 10-12 minutes.
7) Carefully remove from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.
The cookies will be quite soft when you remove them from the pan, but they "harden" as they cool. If you don't take them off when they are still soft like that, they will be crunchy.... so I guess, if you want them crunchy, you can leave them on. I like them chewy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Grandma Kirkham's Delicious Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 cup Shortening
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup warmed Milk
1/2 tablespoon Salt
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon Dry Yeast
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
5 1/2 cups Flour
Other ingredients: Butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins (optional)

Cream shortening, sugar, and salt. Add water and milk. Add yeast and let bubble. In separate bowl, beat together eggs, vanilla, and nutmeg. Add to mixture. Add flour and mix well. Cover and let rise until doubled. Put dough onto well floured surface. (The dough is going to be pretty sticky, so make sure you have plenty of flour down so it doesn't stick). Dust the dough with more flour, then roll out to a rectangle. Spread with melted butter. Put a fairly thick layer of brown sugar and dust the whole thing with cinnamon. Add raisins (optional). Roll up the dough, then slice off the rolls using a piece of string or floss.
This is how you slice with the floss (or string).
Coat the floss in flour if needed. Then slide it under the end of the roll.
(in this demo, I am using a rolled up towel and pink shoe laces.... so you can see better....)

Cross the ends over the top....

Then pull them to the sides until the floss cuts through, making a perfect roll!

Place the rolls on a greased pan.

Let rise.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

Frost the rolls once they are cooled a bit (Frosting recipe below). These cinnamon rolls freeze really well. Just individually wrap them each up tight in plastic wrap and pop them in the freezer. When you're ready to eat one, unwrap it and put it into the microwave until warm and delicious!

3 cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons Milk
Mix powdered sugar and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk. Gradually beat in just enough milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable.


Are you ready for an adventure??? Biryani is an Indian/Pakistani dish. If you've ever been to an Indian restaurant and like that type of food, you'll like this! It's not your every day chicken dish, but, come on people! Give those taste buds a little something new and exotic!


Chicken legs and thighs, on the bone but with the skin off
One large onion, sliced
3 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
One anaheim chili pepper, sliced
1-2 tomatoes,chopped
1/2 to 1 potato chopped into 1/4 inch cubes (depends how big your potatoes are)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
about 1/2 teaspoon salt (you can always add more later...)
6 whole cloves
1 inch of a cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
5 whole pepper corns
1 cup chicken broth
fresh mint leaves

Get your rice cooking first so it will be ready. Here's what you need.

2 cups jasmine or basmati rice

4 cups chicken broth

1 inch cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

Put those four ingredients in a rice cooker or in a pot and cook until rice is done.

Now, while the rice is cooking......

Put oil in a large saute pan or electric skillet and saute onions and potatoes until onions start to brown a little.
Add the ginger and garlic and saute.
Add the cloves, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, turmeric powder, chili powder, salt, and whole pepper corns. Mix together.
Add chicken pieces and start to brown those up.

(I didn't let the chicken brown up enough before I added the tomatoes in the above picture....make sure you cook it a bit more first....I learned...)

Then, add tomatoes and 1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth. Start out with less. Add more as needed. If it all dries out too much before the chicken is done cooking, you'll want to add more broth. Let cook at at simmer until chicken is completely cooked and sauce is reduced. Usually, I'll cover it for a little while, then leave the lid off so the sauce can reduce. You don't want it too liquidy. Once the chicken is done, the sauce is reduced, and your rice is cooked, start adding rice in to the rest of your goods. Don't just add it all in.... add it in gradually, mixing as you go, until you appear to have a good sauce to rice ratio. If you add to much rice, you won't get much flavor. And I'm all about flavor! The rice will kind of soak up any remaining liquid and soak up all the flavors. Yummm..... Usually I add it until it looks about right, then put the rest of the rice out on the table as well, so people can add more rice to their own if they want it that way.

Before you serve it, add fresh, chopped mint leaves over the top.

Sometime we've noticed... if it tastes a little bland.... we just have to add more salt!!! It is amazing how a little more salt can just enhance all the flavors that are already there! so, make sure you've got salt out on the table.

And, there you have it. Your first, home cooked Pakistani/Indian dish!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Zuppa Toscana (as had at Olive Garden)

(yeah, I stole the picture from the Olive Garden website.... whats your point?)


1 lb ground Italian sausage -- This is NOT the same as breakfast sausage. Make sure it says ITALIAN sausage. You can usually find it by the other ground meats. We use hot, but you can use mild if you don't like things too hot. If you can't find just a package of ground italian sausage, you can buy the uncooked Italian sausage links, and just remove the casings off the sausage links.

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (DON'T add this if you used the HOT sausage... it will be plenty hot already! If you used mild sausage, perhaps start out with a little less pepper flakes at first, if you're not sure how spicey you want it)
1 large diced white onion

3 pieces of bacon

2 Tablespoons finely chopped garlic

3 cans chicken broth

4 cups water

2-3 chicken bouillon cubes (You might want to add the 3rd one if the flavor isn't quite strong enough. It's up to your taste preference)

1 cup heavy cream

1 lb sliced russet OR yukon gold potatoes (I always use more potatoes than this, because the potatoes seem to melt into the soup a bit by the end, and if you don't add extra, you aren't left with many actual potato chunks at the end. Don't slice them TOO thin... this will help also.)

fresh kale, cut in small pieces
(what is kale??? take a look.... its a green leafy vegetable. you can find it at most grocery stores. You don't HAVE to add this if you are anti-green vegetables. But, it is very tasty)


1 Saute the sausage and crushed red pepper flakes (if using) in pot until mostly done. Drain excess fat, and refrigerate while you prepare the other ingredients.

2 In the same pan, cook up the bacon until crispy. Remove bacon pieces and set aside.

3 Saute onions and garlic in the bacon grease for approximately 15 minutes or until the onions are soft.

3 Add the broth, water and boullion cubes to the onions and garlic. Cook until boiling.

4 Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.

5 Add heavy cream and cook until thouroughly heated.

6 Stir in the sausage, crumbled bacon, and kale (if using).

Enjoy this delicious soup with some crusty bread. It is sooooo good. One of our favorites!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ginger Peanut Rice Bowl (kinda like at...Rumbi Island Grill)

(Okay, so I stole that picture off of the Rumbi Island Grill website.......)

So, as Steve and I were eating a salad with that ginger salad dressing on it, Steve commented that it reminded him of the flavors in one of those rice bowls at Rumbi Island Grill. So, of course, then I HAD to figure out a way to make that! So... I pretty much just altered some other recipes I had, did a little experimenting, and ended up with what we thought was very good! Give it a try.

For the rice:
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed

Put the rice, coconut milk, broth, and water in a pot with a lid. As it starts to get to a boil, you're gonna need to stir it because it's going to be a little thick with that coconut milk in it. You don't want it to all goo to the bottom and burn! So, once it is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, put the lid on and let the rice cook, stirring occassionally to ensure all is well. Once all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, add in the beans (make sure they are drained and rinsed first). Mix those in and let them heat through. And there you have it, island coconut red beans and rice.
Other Ingredients:
broccoli or asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

celery, choped

carrots, sliced thin

red bell pepper, choped
zucchini, sliced

Chicken breasts
For the chicken:
You could do this a few different ways.....
1) Marinate some chicken breasts in some left over ginger salad dressing then grill it up or cook on the stove top in a skillet. Then cut it into bite size pieces.
2)Cut up some chicken breasts into pieces. Pour some left over ginger salad dressing into a large skillet. Add the chicken pieces, and brown them up and cook them through. Add more of the dressing during the cooking process if needed, enough that all the chicken is coated in a little of it.
3)If you don't happen to just have any leftover dressing, you don't need to marinate the chicken or anything. You will put sauce on it in the end anyway. It's up to you. Or you could just marinate it in a little soy sauce and oil or something.
Set the chicken aside, then add all the veggies to the large skillet along with more of the ginger dressing and saute until desired doneness. (You don't really HAVE to add any dressing in the cooking process. As stated before, you will put sauce on it in the end). I suggest putting the carrots and celery in first, cooking those for a little bit, then add the others because they don't seem to take as long. Put the lid on for a little bit if you want them to get steamed a bit.
When you're ready to eat, plate up some of the red beans and rice, put some chicken and veggies on that, and top it all off with some ginger peanut sauce (NOT exactly the same as the ginger dressing......recipe below) and chopped peanuts!
Ginger Peanut Sauce:
This is a slight variation on the ginger dressing recipe. It omits a lot of the oil and uses more peanut butter, resulting in a thicker, more sauce-like consistency.
1 tsp oil (vegetable or canola)
1 to 2 teaspoons chili oil-- (once again... add it to your desired heat)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar (I use the seasoned rice vinegar, because that's what I have)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger (FRESH ginger is so good! don't use the dried stuff!)
3 to 4 Tablespoons of peanut butter
Beat with a wire wisk until smooth (add peanut butter a tablespoon at a time, beating and adding more until reaches desired consistency and taste). Heat in the microwave or in a pot on the stove until heated through. Stir. Put on top of the rice bowls!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ginger Salad Dressing

OOOOOOHHHHH..... this is so good.......

1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)

1 to 2 teaspoons chili oil-- you buy this in the oriental section of the grocery store, usually (probably start out using less if you're not sure how spicy you want it... you can always add more if you taste it and decide you want more. Or if you know you don't like heat, you could just make it without)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar (I use the seasoned rice vinegar, because that's what I have)

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger (FRESH ginger is so good! don't use the dried stuff!)

optional: 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon (???maybe more....?..or less....?) of peanut butter (the dressing is good without the peanut butter, too, but I like it with a little peanut butter in it because it adds a bit more body and helps the dressing emulsify better... oh, and it tastes good. I pretty much just add it until it tastes how I want it...)

Mix all those ingredients together well and use for various different things!

Once I used it on top of some salmon.... that was quite tasty. You can put in on top of just a normal salad. Delicious.

If you want to try a SUPER GOOD salad.... try the following:


Romaine Lettuce


Strawberries, sliced (or cut in chunks or whatever)

Green Onions, chopped

Candied Pecans (recipe below)

Pork Loin

When we make this salad, we usually just put out all the different components and let people put together their own salad according to their liking. Then, top it with the ginger dressing. Soooo good. Last time my mom tried hers with some mandarin oranges on it as well. I didn't try it, but I bet that would be good too.

For the pork, just cut the loin into about 1/4 inch medalions, season with a little salt and pepper, then cook those up in a frying pan. Then, you can slice those medalions into smaller strips to put on the salad. Don't overcrowd the medalions in the pan, or they won't get that good color on them. You might need to do a couple batches.

For the pecans you're gonna need:

1 cup Pecan Halves

1/2 cup Maple Syrup (whatever you have around that you put on your pancakes and waffles!)

All you do is put a skillet on the stove over medium-low to medium heat and put the pecans in. Pour in the syrup and stir to coat all the nuts. Heat the mixture for several minutes, stirring often. The syrup will bubble and get thicker and thicker. Make sure you don't let it get so hot that it scorches. Keep stirring. You'll notice the syrup getting more and more sticky. Stir! As soon as the mixture is to the point that it's like.... "hard"sticky..... take the nuts out of the pan and put them on a large plate. You'll want to separate them while they are still hot/warm otherwise they will harden and you'll just have one big chunk of candied nuts! Allow them to cool before using them. It might take a couple times to get to where your pecans are the perfect doneness.... my first time I didn't quite cook them long enough, and they were still kind of chewy and not quite.... "crunchy" candied. But, they were still good.

Friday, July 25, 2008

California Chicken Spaghetti

This dish is super tasty and super simple!

16 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta (I NEVER use that much pasta in it.... you probably don't need to cook that much. I'll tell you more about that later)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into strips
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons dried basil
(this last time we used fresh basil because there is an abundance of it growing in the back yard... and I ended up adding more than 2 Tablespoons with it fresh)
2 tablespoons Cajun-style blackened seasoning (depending on what brand of seasoning you can end up a little spicy! If you don't want to buy cajun seasoning (or if you don't want it so spicy), go to the bottom of this post for a suggested way to make your own seasoning.
salt and pepper to taste
10 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced

1 zucchini sliced
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken pieces, and cook, stirring until browned on the outside. Stir in the garlic, basil, Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper, then mix in the tomatoes and zucchini. Cook until tomatoes are semi soft, and chicken is cooked through.

Toss with pasta, and serve with crumbled feta cheese on top. Also top with fresh basil if desired.

Okay, so my suggestion with mixing it with the pasta.... Don't just throw all the noodles in at once because odds are you won't end up with the right sauce to pasta ratio.... What I do, is dump all the sauce into an big pot or big serving bowl, then slowly add in the noodles in batches, mixing after each batch, until it looks like a good sauce to noodle ratio. I don't like there to be so many noodles that you don't get much flavor. The recipe says 16 ounces... I don't think I even use half of that. But, hey, it's up to you

If you want to make your own seasoning, this one works well. It is actually a "creole" seasoning recipe, but it is quite close to cajun and has pretty much the same ingredients in it! So, if you already have these ingredients on hand, you can mix up your own seasoning rather than buying a "Cajun Seasoning" at the store. Just mix it up and keep it in an airtight container. You can use it for all sorts of stuff. This makes quite a bit, so if you don't think you want so much, just half it.

Cajun/Creole Seasoning:

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

NOTE: If you want similar flavor without as much heat, make this recipe, but don't use so much cayenne pepper. That's where most of your heat is going to come from.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Culinary Experimentation

Sometimes Steve and I like to experiment. A couple weeks ago we decided to make foil dinners-- you know, wrap up some meat and potatoes and whatever else you want in some foil and cook it. A simple concept. But, why not kick it up a bit... make a bit of a more... gourmet foild dinner, if you will. Here is what we came up with. And we must say... it is quite good! We've made it again since then.
Unfortunately I don't really have exact measurements. This is one of those things you have to just kind of... put in however much you want of each thing! I'm going to share with you the ingredients, and you can decide what proportions and quantities you want to do.

Here is what was in it:

Ground Italian Sausage (Mild or hot depending on your heat preference) formed into a patty.
A slice of Bacon (put this on the very top)
Cloves of Garlic sliced
Onions sliced
Yukon Gold Potatoes sliced
Carrots sliced

Fresh Basil

and the secret ingredient.......

That's right folks. Blue Cheese.

Now, don't go judging just because it says blue cheese. I'll be honest, I am not a huge blue cheese fan normally.... but this.... is really good!!! The cheese just melts into it and mixes with the juices from the meat and bacon drippings and the moisture from the vegetables and creates a delicious sauce! Very good. Try it for yourself.... come on... don't be scared....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Walkabout Onion Soup

So, Steve and I used to get this soup at Outback Steakhouse. It was a creamy, onion soup. Very tasty. Unfortunately, they don't serve it there anymore.... but luckily, we had already found a good recipe for it. I know it isn't exactly soup weather right now... but I always love soup! And we hadn't had this for a while, so we made it this week. If you like onions... you'll like this! If you don't like onions.... well..... try it anyway! Maybe it will convert you.


2 cups thinly sliced yellow sweet onions (ie. vidalia)

2 tbsp butter

14.5 ounce can chicken broth

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

2 chicken boullion cubes

1/4 cup diced velveeta cubes compressed in a measuring cup (okay, so sometimes I use this processed, velveeta cheese, but sometimes I just use regular shredded cheddar cheese. I usually use more than 1/4 cup if I use the cheddar though.... almost 1/2 cup)

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups white sauce (below) Okay, so it only says to use that amount... but I always end up using all of it. Mostly just because I always forget that it says to only use a certain amount!!! Anyway... if you want to use all the white sauce, go for it! it always turns out fine when I do.

Thick White Sauce:

3TBS butter

3TBS flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups whole milk (I have used milks ranging from skim to cream here, so.... if you don't feel like buying whole milk... use whatever you've got. it'll be alright.)

To make the White Sauce....

In a 1 quart sauce pan, melt butter and add flour, cook on medium heat until the flour turns thick and comes away from the side of the pan.
Pour milk in flour a little at a time and stir constantly until it becomes smooth. Add salt. Mixture should thicken and becom like thick pudding.

Remember to stir constantly taking care not to let mixture lump. Set aside off from heat until ready to use for the soup.

In 2 quart sauce pan place 2 TBS butter and sliced onions.

Cook at low to medium heat, stirring frequently until soft, and clear but not brown.
Add chicken broth from can, chicken bouillon cubes, salt, pepper, and stir until completely heated through.

Add white sauce and Velveeta cheese (or cheddar). White sauce will be thick because it has been removed from the heat. Simmer on medium low heat until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are blended, stirring constantly. (If you're using cheddar, be sure not to let the soup come to a boil after you've added the cheese, as this could cause it to curdle).
Turn temperature to warm and let cook for additional 30 to 45 minutes.
(It says to do this.... but, I usually don't leave it that long... just because I'm too hungry..... but, again, I've done it both ways. Both turn out just fine).

Serve with some crusty bread. You could also top the soup with some shredded cheddar cheese if you wanted.

"Spicy" Rice

This is a great rice to go with that Fiesta Lime Chicken. It says spicy, but don't be mislead. It is not spicy in the sense of "wow, that's got some heat!" It is spicy as in.... it's got spices in it.


1 fresh corn cob
3 tbsp. olive oil
6 scallions (green onions) chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1-2 green bell peppers, chopped

2 fresh mild green chilies (anaheims are good), seeded and chopped

generous 1 1/4 cups long-grain rice

2 tsp ground cumin

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper


Cut the corn from the cob. heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the scallions, celery, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened (be sure not to burn your garlic! burnt garlic tastes bitter...yuck...). Add the bell peppers, chilies, and corn and cook for 3-5 minutes.

Add the rice and cumin and cook, stirring to coat the grains in the oil for 2 minutes.

Stir in the stock and half the chopped cilantro and bring to boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is just tender.
Remove from the heat and fluff up with a fork. Stir in the remaining chopped cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Fiesta" Lime Chicken

Okay, so just before we moved we went to Applebee's with Steve's parents. Steve's mom got the Fiesta Lime Chicken and said she wished she knew how they made it. I made it my duty to try to find a recipe that copied it.... unfortunately it has been a while since I actually had that dish at Applebee's, so I'm not sure whether this actually tastes anything like it or not! But, it is good none-the-less. Worth trying.

I did think it had a strange combination of ingredients before I made it... I mean, it says "fiesta" in the name, then it's got teriyaki sauce in it! I dunno, maybe mexicans use more teriyaki than I am aware of : ) Or maybe it's an asian/mexican fiesta! Fun for all! Either way.... the dish was pretty tasty. Don't be scared by the long list of ingredients. It is very simple to make. And I actually already had all of these ingredients on hand except the teriyaki sauce and the liquid smoke.
What is liquid smoke? Well, I'm glad you asked. It does sound a bit strange to anyone who's never heard of it. In fact one time my dad (I think it was my dad) was at Walmart and he asked one of the employees (a teenager no doubt) whether they had any liquid smoke. And the kid is like, "...ummm.... Liquid smoke? You mean like beer?" hahaha..... Oh boy.... Anyway, no... liquid smoke is not beer just incase you were wondering. It is, in fact, just what the name says..... smoke in liquid form! What they do is create smoke with some water and wood chips or something then they gather the condensation that is infused with the smoke. (Okay, so that is the very simplified version, but who cares). And there you have it! Liquid smoke. So, you get the smoke flavor without the unhealthy carcinogens! (and without having to do the work of smoking). I found my liquid smoke near the barbeque sauces and marinades and what-not.... It probably depends what store you're at. You can probably ask an employee at the store. Then again.... they might take you to the beer isle....

Okay, enough about the smoke... lets get to the chicken.


about 1 cup water

1/3 cup teriyaki sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast


1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons minced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons minced jalapeno peppers

1 teaspoon minced onion

1/4 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 dash black pepper

1 dash garlic powder

Additional Ingredients

1 cup shredded monterey jack and cheddar cheese blend

More limes to squeeze over the top.


1 Combine marinade ingredients then chicken in a medium bowl and allow to marinate for 2-3 hours.

2 Combinine dressing ingredients in a medium bowl, cover, and chill until needed.

3 Grill the marinated chicken breasts for 3-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

4 Arrange the cooked chicken in a baking pan, spoon some of the prepared dressing over the top , and sprinkle with cheese.

5 Broil the chicken for 2-3 minutes, or just until the cheese has melted.

6 Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top and serve!

You could serve this with spanish rice and some pico de gallo or salsa.... some tortilla chips..... home made guacamole.... mmm... My plan was to top it with pico de gallo (fresh chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime), but unfortunately only one of my tomatoes was alive today.... the rest were covered in mold!!!
Note to self: it is much more humid in Ohio.... especially with no AC yet....... so, must find a better way to store my tomatoes......

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chicago Dogs

While visiting Chicago on our way to our new home, Steve and I had our first Chicago dogs ever. Now, you might be thinking.... okay, I've HEARD of a Chicago dog.... but what exactly makes it different than a normal hot dog? Don't worry, those were my exact thoughts before the dog was handed to me.

Well, here's the breakdown (thank you wikipedia)---
"A Chicago-style hot dog is a steamed or boiled all-beef hot dog on a poppy seed bun, which originated in the U.S. city of Chicago, Illinois. The hot dog is topped with mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish (usually neon green), a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, sport peppers (a little pickled pepper with medium heat), and a dash of celery salt; but never ketchup. The complete assembly is sometimes called "dragged through the garden" because of the unique combination of condiments. It is considered taboo to put ketchup on a Chicago hot dog; some hot dog stands don't even stock the condiment."
So, there you've got it folks! Go grab yourselves a Chicago dog today! Or whip one up for yourself, now that you know what it contains. Personally, I liked this Chicago style better than your every day hot dog.... the more veggies you pile on the better! And I didn't even miss the ketchup.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Thai Curry (Evil Jungle Princess)

We once went to a restaurant in Salt Lake City called Thaifoon and ordered something called Evil Jungle Princess. It was a coconut based Thai curry. We loved it, and I decided to try to find a recipe for it. It has become probably Steve's favorite dish. It's got some crazy ingredients that might only be found at Oriental Markets, but it is well worth it in the end... *1 Tbsp Red Curry Paste
*2 1/4 inch Lemon Grass stalk- trimmed and bias sliced (can't get fresh lemon grass? Some places have it dehydrated and others have a lemongrass paste!)
*2-3 lime leaves (can't find these? just use a little more lemon grass and/or lime juice)
*2 Tbsp Palm Sugar
*1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
*1 Tbsp Peanut Butter
*2 Tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce
*13 oz Coconut Milk (not the sweetened kind, just regular)
*Chicken Breasts- cut to bite size pieces or strips
*1/2 cup fresh chinese long beans-blanched (these are like really long green beans, but slightly different. If you can't find these at your oriental market, you can just use fresh green beans. They aren't in the picture because they didn't have any the day I went to the market.)
*Red bell pepper- cut into 1/4 inch strips
*1/2 cup blanched Asparagus spears
*Canned Bamboo Shoots
*1 tsp Lime Juice
*1/4 cup Fresh Thai Basil- chopped (if you can't find Thai Basil.... you guessed it... just use
regular fresh Basil!)
*1/4 cup Frest Mint leaves- chopped
*Roasted Peanuts- chopped
*Jasmine Rice (or whatever kind of rice you want...)

(The measurements of vegetables and chicken are not to be followed too strictly. Just, add however much you want! You like lots of vegetables? Just put in however much looks good. I always put in a lot more than this recipe says. Don't like vegetables so much? Add more chicken and cut back on the veggies.)
Game Plan:
Don't forget to cook your rice!
While that's cooking.........
Combine the coconut milk, red curry paste, lemon grass, lime leaves, fish sauce, palm sugar, peanut butter, and sweet chili sauce in a saute pan. Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken, long beans, asparagus, and bell peppers. (I don't like my vegetables to lose all their texture, so I usually put the chicken in first and let it cook a little before I add the veggies). Cook until chicken is just done and the curry sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the lime juice and the fresh herbs. Mix. Serve over steamed jasmine rice (or regular rice) and top with chopped peanuts.
(Just so you know.... the lime leaves and fresh lemon grass aren't really intended to be eaten. They just add flavor to the dish. When you are eating it, just push them to the side of your plate. Or suck on them first then push them to the side. They taste good! They are just tough so you probably don't really want to chew and swallow.)