Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cranberry Orange Salted Caramel Oatmeal Bars

Come along inside... We'll see if tea and
buns can make the world a better place.
~The Wind in the Willows~

Some of the greatest stories ever, were told over tea and sweets.
Like, "whatever could have happened to the Cheshire Cat?" the only one not at the tea party.

Frog and Toad comparing how exhausted they were after a long night of watching seedlings grow, and an even longer day crossing things off lists.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Two Super Saucy Chicken Recipes that Satisfy Sweet Tooths

Growing up, my Pop would never turn down a dessert... or two.

"My dessert compartment still has room," he'd say, reaching for his stronger than strong coffee
(a true Swede).

I'm obviously my father's daughter.

But instead of turning to cookies, cakes or ice cream after your meal, how about adding some sweetness to the main attraction?

Here are two recipes that are my newest go-to recipes this last year.  Both are simple, require few pots and pans... and little time in the kitchen.  And both perfectly pair with roasted veggies, green salads, or even my , now that sounds good about now. 

So, for those of us who could eat dessert before dinner (or in spite of), here's a little sugar to satisfy.  Your dessert compartment will thank you.

First up...

Caramel Orange Chicken
(an all time favorite!)

and last, but not least...

Buttery Brown Sugar & Garlic Chicken Bites
(recipes to both are below)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Brie and Pear Pillows- an Innkeeper's Five Things Made Simpler

"Innkeepers are worth their weight in muffins."

Working in Bed and Breakfasts, I learned that just about everything (that was worth eating) started with 5 things- flour, sugar, oil, eggs and salt.

Lovely sweet breads like lemon, strawberry and banana- don't forget the chocolate chips.  Apple dumplings and peach kuchen (my very favorite).  And crepes. Oh, the crepes.  We made them from scratch (yes, there was a lot of flour, sugar, oil, eggs and salt in the garbage in the beginning... crepes are hard!)  We filled them with cream cheese and fresh fruits, and dusted them with powdered sugar (powdered sugar is to pastries as kosher salt is to savories- a "box of compliments" ~as Carla Hall said about kosher salt).

And don't forget the scones.  Oh, how I love scones. And oh how I'm seriously feeling bloated as I write this... how the heck did I stay so thin back then eating all of this?   And we haven't even touched on quiche... or wine and cheese hour, or dessert.

So, the best part of being an Innkeeper?  Enticing guests out of their rooms with the aromas of home flowing from the kitchen.  Yes, home.  You see, that is what B&B's are all about.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Good Fortune Chicken Stir Fry

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It finally happened.  I got the infamous fortune-less fortune cookie.


Not the best way to start out the year.

Well, I say forget about the fortune (wow, I'm getting sassy in my older age- or saucy, as I am a Drizzle Diva now) and let's focus on our healthy FUTURE!

And since health equals wealth, let's start bringing back family time around the table. 

And cooking with fresher ingredients. 

And get over the misconception that healthy equals bland (no yawning here- oh no!)

And that you THINK that you just don't have the time to cook (ok, now I'm yawning).

And, since you'll probably ask me to prove it... I will.

And I have.  Because I'm saucy (I say, while doing the Pulp Fiction Dance).

Here's my Good Fortune Chicken Stir Fry. 
wow, that was a lot of ands

You're SOOO going to love it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dina's Amaretto Cake- Talk about a Party on a Plate!

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Can a cake get you tipsy?

Well, if it's Dina's Amaretto Cake, it can!
I first met Dina, my down-the-street neighbor, about ten years ago.  I immediately liked her "Garden and Gun" style and the fact that we were both California girls who ended up in the South.

We had a lot in common from dogs to decor, and I remember being so impressed when she told me she had (and had cooked from) The Sopranos Cookbook.  A true Italian, and her alluring boldness showed in her life, her work, her Facebook comments... and especially in her cake.

Memorable, to say the least, this easy-to-make Amaretto Cake is full of Italian flavors, and boldly knows how to start a party and keep it going!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

One Pot White Turkey Cilantro Chili- Cilantro Lovers Unite! #healthyluxemeals

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Cilantro makes every dish a winner.
And I'm not just saying that like when I root for the other team just to egg on my man a bit more (than normal).  Or to start a cilantro debate, as believe me, in the case of cilantro... there is only black or white. 

I simply love it.  And that's that.

I love it's bright flavor, it's sweet, herby smell, how it's pretty shamrock-like leaves adorn my plates and food, and I especially love it in my White Chili.

But, this recipe isn't for everyone, especially if you're one of the 11,675 fans of the "I Hate Cilantro" Facebook page... I know!

When it comes to cilantro, there are blogs written against it, cilantro-free restaurant lists, and people all across America turning up their noses at it- and refusing cilantro in their meals.  I've even known of friends who get to feeling physically ill at the very smell of it

Monday, January 14, 2013

Beef Brisket in Beer with Herbed Goat Cheese and Balsamic Onion Bites

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I realize this is a strong statement.

(and yet, I say it every time I make it)

But, out of all the wonderful and lovely smells that come out of my kitchen, there is something extra-intoxicating about my Beef Brisket in Beer.


"Oh my gosh, that smells amazing," we both nod, with drool running down our chins.

The sweetness of the Chile sauce, the garlic, the onions... I'm not sure what it is, but this would be the ultimate time for Emeril's "Smellevision."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pork Tenderloin, Yoga and Ruts

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I'm in a rut.  And I'm not gonna go deeper.

You see, I've changed the way I eat these last 4 months.  And I'll admit, I'm practically kicking and screaming thinking of going back to my exclusively low-carb lifestyle.

Recipe testing, recipe photographing, recipe eating... and more recipe eating. 
Oh, man, thank goodness I do yoga!

And, as I walked down the grocery store aisles today, I yawned a bit... the same old meat, the same old veggies, and mmm... stuffed shells are sure sounding good about now.  But, then I stopped, and realized, it's a new year, and a perfect time to break out of my "eat and make whatever is pretty" rut.

So, I picked up my trusty pork tenderloin, and winged it.  I got home and found some leftover spinach, prosciutto and feta.  And I still had some fennel and lemons that I picked up at Trader Joes a few days back.
And this amazing dish was born.  And I didn't even miss the rice, or pasta, or bread... not even for a minute.

So, this year, it's all about balance. I'll still make pretty food, and naughty food, and even a dessert now and then (along with promising to keep up my daily yoga practice).  But, I also promise to keep the focus on good, fresh food that fuels your body and makes you feel and look fantastic!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Spinach Artichoke and Pancetta Cheesy Stuffed Bread

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I've been on a quest for finding the perfect hors d'oeuvres.
(and yes, I had to once again google the spelling on that!) 

Something tasty and easy to make.  Something that travels well.  And something that no one could resist, while serving a lot but not spending hours creating bite-sized pieces.

Well, this creation, based on a stuffed bread I made back in my B&B days, has it all!  It appeals to just about anyone- even kids.  And the salty pancetta, tons of veggies with spinach, marinated artichokes, and sun dried tomatoes have all the hors d'oeuvres "requirements," and then some.

And don't forget the cheese.  Three cheeses... think that's enough cheese?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pass the Shrimp Picatta over Spinach, Shallots and Peas, Please!

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So, is it Picatta or Piccata?

Both are correct... and it could even be Pichotta.
(oh, now that sounds very Italian and fun to say!)

But I like Picatta, and I like mine with shrimp.
(and a cute Italian would be nice, too!)

Picatta is a method of preparing meat, typically chicken or veal.  It's flattened,  breaded, pan fried and then drenched in a sauce of white wine, lemon juice, garlic, shallots and capers. 

Here's my version of Shrimp Picatta, with all of the flavors of a traditional Picatta over my favorite vegetable mix of spinach, shallots and peas, and rice instead of pasta.

Want to know the secret to fluffy rice that's always perfectly cooked?  See below for the technique!  And feel free to mix it up a bit.  I often add in chicken broth instead of water for even more flavor.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Orange Julius Mimosas... Bringing Brunch Back!

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There's something about Brunch. 

Brunch reminds us to slow down and smell the coffee.  And that it's OK to veer off our diet one day a week- and actually enjoy a few carbs!  And heck, Brunch practically begs us to sleep in, as the definition of Brunch is a meal between breakfast and lunch- and in my book that means I could sleep until Noon and still count on Eggs Benedict, waffles... and don't forget Mimosas- no judgment!

Mimosas were kind of the rite of passage to adulthood in my house.  And while my parents were never stuffy about alcohol, I can't remember a time where we popped open a bottle of Champagne, except at brunch.

So here's my version that bridges my childhood's favorite drink and adulthood's favorite celebration drink. My Orange Julius Mimosa.  This recipe is about 30 years old, which is about how long it's been since I tried it, or one at the Mall, for that matter.

I forgot how much it made me say MMMM...
(well, and I'm sure the champagne sure didn't hurt, either.)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cornish Game Hen and Tips for a Dinner Party on a Dime

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Dinner Parties don't have to mean days of planning, piles (... and piles... and piles) of dishes, or ingredients that break the budget!

These days, over-the-top is so overdone.  And simple and cost-effective can be just as elegant as a grand affair, leaving guests remembering the flavor of it all, in food, friends, fun and conversation.

Now, that sounds like a party!

... and so was this.

Mustard Thyme Roasted Cornish Game Hens with
Champagne Vinegar, Maple Syrup Sauce Shots
Salt-Roasted Potatoes
Rainbow Swiss Chard

(recipes below- and believe me, they are soooo simple.)

But first, here are 5 tips to make your next Dinner Party a hit

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Corn Casserole and other Bounties of the South

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If it's true that the South is the soul of our Country, then Southern Cuisine must be our heartbeat.

Grits, okra, country ham... and butter.  Pure butter slathered over homemade biscuits with strawberry jam, that is. Things I had never tried, let alone even wanted to, growing up in a health-conscious-before-it's-time Santa Barbara.

And then we got a Southern pastor at our church, who convinced my brother that the best Seminary to attend... was in the South.  And then he married a woman from Biloxi, MS.  Biloxi?  Now, that's the TRUE SOUTH.

And one day when my folks were visiting my sister-in-law in Biloxi, my mom clipped out a recipe from the local paper for Corn Casserole- my second favorite thing that came to our family from the South. 
(this would be that corn casserole)

And the first time I read the ingredients, I thought "French Onion Dip?  Must be a Southern thing."
(and I've just been confirmed by a friend from the South, that it is!)