Monday, December 31, 2012

Manly Man's Roasted Potato, Asparagus and Ham Hash

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Ta... Dah!

I say Ta Dah, because isn't that what you're supposed to say when you bring a very special meal to the table, on a very special day?

And now, as I sit here, feet up, fire going, and my man (a true meat and potatoes man), eating a THIRD helping of his Manly Man's Hash... I once again realize that in life, that sometimes Plan B can even be better!

You see, I had a menu for our First Night Feast, but when I finally tracked those Cornish Hens down, they were frozen- ugh.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Which Came First, the Greek Chicken or the Egg?

Which came first, the Greek Chicken or the egg?

The Wrinkled Egg, that is. 

And one of the best reasons to visit Flat Rock, NC, well, except for the
Flat Rock Playhouse...

Or Carl Sandburg's House...

Yea, missing home a bit today.

But, back to the Egg.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Crispy Chicken Tenders- Delish!

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I guess you could say I'm a Food Nework fanatic.

And over the years, I've had my favorites.  Emeril, Giada, Paula... and how cool is The Pioneer Woman?
But Rachael Ray isn't just about the food, but also about the fun (yes, cooking can be FUN and take less than 30!)  EVOO, Sammies, Stoup, garbage bowls, and fried chicken... yes this chicken deserves a YUM-O!

I'll never forget when I read her recipe and it called for Old Bay Seasoning.  Huh?  But, I'm allergic to fish... should I?

Well, did I?  YES! And it had nothing to do with fish, but just the most amazing fried chicken I'd ever had.  Here is my version of crispy chicken tenders, adapted from her inspired recipe and star ingredient.

Friday, December 21, 2012

White Bean, Leek and Asparagus Salad- Cheap and Chic #healthyluxemeals

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With four more days until Christmas, I can pretty much guess that...

1) You're counting calories and eating a bit healthier in hopes to balance all the Christmas goodies soon to come. (and) 

2) You're a bit short on cash.

Well, I was all of the above tonight, plus a bit bored with the same old sides.

So, I pulled out the asparagus I bought this morning, and had some leeks and onion on hand, but was still totally uninspired. I went to the pantry, and hmmm... that can of white beans I had left over from some chili a few weeks ago was calling to me. Yes, it called.

So, I went for it. Low fat, low cost, and heck, the French eat white beans all the time, and they surely know what's good. And good it was. Ok, better than good. This has quickly become a new family favorite!

Serve hot or cold, stuff it in a pita, schmear it on some french bread, use it on a salad, or have it as a side to some Salamon, like we did. Yes, we ate well tonight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Indiana Sugar Cream Cranberry Pie, Me oh My!

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When I think of pie, I think of fresh strawberries piled six inches high, dripping in red, sugary filling. Or mounds of whipped cream over a creamy, dreamy chocolaty cloud.  Or my favorite- apple, smelling of cinnamon winter delights, all cute with top crusts of leaf cutouts, hearts or lattice.

These are the arm candy pies.

But what about the simpler pies?  The pies with the stories.  The pies that may not photograph well, or be featured on the cover of foodie magazines, but the ones you dream about, even though they're not the prettiest pie on the plate.

This is a pie you'd bring home to Mother!

I first discovered Indiana Sugar Cream Pies from my mother, who grew up in Anderson, Indiana. Apparently, Sugar Cream Pies are big there, and those happy Hoosiers are hardcore when it comes to their humble pie.

Now I understand why, oh my.

Love caramel? You'll love Indiana Sugar Cream Pies.

Like custard pies? These are even better, without any eggs.

Want something simple to make for the holidays? This pie couldn't be easier!

My version builds from a traditional Sugar Cream Pie base (not messing with that one- no boy!) and adds my favorite cranberry topping. Cranberries add a lovely pop, and a nice tart contrast to the sweet brown sugary center- plus a beautiful presentation... just in time for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cream Cheese Orange Cilantro Pork Chops... let Some Sunshine In!

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Today was an off day.  Perhaps the goings on in the world.  Perhaps a few hiccups in our own world (my man had surgery today).

But as we must do in life, we trudged on, and I cooked.  Because, you see, cooking for those you love... is love. And in my world, that means just about everything!

And I made an amazing meal, but in taking pictures so late in the day, the lighting was all wrong, and it just didn't come together, and well... the plate ended up way too yellow, the sauce looked like a blob, instead of something on a gourmet plate, and I just wanted to throw it all out.

But, the recipe rocked.  One of the best meals ever (said my patient, who is doing great, by the way!)

So here it is.  Kind of messy... like life.  Not perfect... like us all.  But full of heart, and love, and well, tonight, that's all that matters- at least to us.  Hopefully, this might inspire a bit of sunshine.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Valley Girl and the Pea - and my favorite pasta!

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I love peas.  There, I said it. 

And I don't mean the kind of peas you get in the packages and have to soak, with black eyes or that come split.  But, the peas (especially petite) that are green, and found in the frozen aisle...

In salads, stews, pastas, and especially as a side to meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  Peas add just the right crunch, color and healthy addition, especially in an old favorite- Linguine a la Diana.

Linguine a la Diana includes all my favorites- ham, peas, Romano cheese, fresh thyme, all in a relatively low-fat sauce, using evaporated skim milk instead of cream. Add a nice soup or salad on the side and you've great a great supper on the table in no time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quiche Number 3121 and Counting- Zucchini Dill #healthyluxemeals

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Yup, that's the approximate number of quiches I made during the 10 years I ran B&B's.

And yup, real men do eat quiche... well at least mine does!

I think I started cooking at about 2, and never had the good sense to stop.

Cooking is a labor of love.  And love it, I have.  And no matter where life has led me, I've always come back to my true passion, cooking.  And here we are!

I started working in B&B's when I was 15, cleaning rooms and quickly worked my way up to Innkeeper.  From there, I worked at the best B&B's in Santa Barbara- all which helped mold my cooking skills, and me as a person.
You see, cooking is from the heart.  And like they say in B&B's, "An Innkeeper is worth her weight in muffins," or in today's case... quiche.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Di's Drizzle Skins... Potato Skins Worth a High Five!

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During a roasting kick last year I created this awesome appetizer and gave it another whirl today for a tasting.

(yes, I am from the 80's... and the Valley, so I can say that)

These Skins are so flavorful and fresh, and after trying them again, they reminded me of a restaurant I loved in Santa Barbara (back in the 80's) called the Elephant Bar. They had their own skins (Elephant Skins), so why not my own version of one of my most favorite foods?

These are a lot lighter than the typical potato skins, but with the comfort of the roasted potato, the cool freshness from the herbed cheeses (instead of heavy, greasy cheese), and the bright crunch from the corn and red onions. You'll love these simple and beautiful bites.

And don't forget the Balsamic Glaze. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cream Cheesy Chicken and Peas Puffs... 21 Years and Going

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Whenever the question, "If you could have anything for dinner, what would you like?" gets asked at my home, the answer is ALWAYS "Chicken Puffs." 

...must be a man-thing.

I've been making these puffs for 21 years, and the recipe has barely been changed (but the last 10 years I've opted for a roasted chicken from the deli- makes life much, much, much easier. And about 14 years ago I added peas... the peas make it).

And breaking up the croutons with my mallet? An extra benefit and much appreciated to relieve some stress after a week with a poopy puppy (tip: open bag, let out air, reseal, and then go for it!)