Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pizza, Pizza!

Although I have found a couple of pizza dough recipes that I love, I like to keep trying new ones. It helps me grow as a chef! So, I tried a new crust, and although it was good, it definitely made more than what it said - one large pizza. So, I took what I thought was a third of the dough and reserved it. Basically, it made one large semi thick crust, and one large thin crust pizza.

The bottom picture was pizza in the oven on Friday night, and the top picture is the dough grilled on Saturday afternoon - either way, the dough worked out well. Pizza in 2 consecutive days? Sounds like a good weekend to me! But I'm sure the dough would freeze well for future use.

Jay's Signature Pizza Crust
from Allrecipes

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil I used 1 -1.5 tbsp
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.

2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.

3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.

5. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Garlicky Pizza Sauce
from Me

6 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup (or more if required) of water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oregano
1.5 tsp dried onion
1.5 tsp dried basil
dash of sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl & let flavors blend. It makes enough for 2 large pizzas.

* For the oven pizza, I preheated my pizza stone on 500 for 30-45 minutes. I reduced the heat to 425 and baked the pizza for 10-16 minutes.

* For the grilled pizza, I sprayed the grill with non-stick grill cooking spray, heated the grill for 5 minutes or so on high. I turned the heat to medium-high, lightly brushed the pizza dough with EVOO and flipped it with tongs onto the grill and brushed the top side with EVOO. After a couple of minutes rotate the dough to make sure it isn't sticking and cooks evenly.

Once the bottom is golden, carefully flip over and either slide back onto your cookie sheet (or surface you carried it out on) or reduce heat and leave it on the grill, and put on your toppings. Cook for another 6-8 minutes or so, until cheese is melted, and remove from grill. Enjoy!!

For my half - I had baby Bella mushrooms, red onions, pepperoni & Italian turkey sausage (in the oven version) and fresh basil.

For Jamie's half - no veggies! Just pepperoni, Italian turkey sausage (in the oven version) & fresh basil.

For the cheese I changed it up a bit, I used 1/2 part skim mozzarella, 1/4 part aged sharp white Cheddar & 1/4 part Parmesan cheese.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My Favorite Thing About Fall Is....

Not football that's for sure! (Sorry Jamie) But it's pumpkin!! In the past year or so, I have grown to love pumpkin, in desserts, coffee, snacks, etc. I hope to include it in dinner/savory dishes in the next month or so, and I have just added a pumpkin tag.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the Pumpkin-Spice Cheesecake Brownie in my blog, I found it at Cara's Cravings, a blog that I love and that has a lot of pumpkin recipes too. That recipe was sort of a triumph for me, until then I had never had any success with anything I baked, it was one of the most challenging things I have tried, and it turned out perfect the first time. I even reluctantly shared it at a football tailgate (where everyone loved it; a perfect Fall dessert)

So, onto the main point of this post - is two of my product raves, and things that pumpkin lovers should try - Kashi TLC Pumpkin Spice Bars (and they're good for you too!) and Hershey's Pumpkin Spice Kisses - I've had some trouble finding these, but Target definitely has them. And they're not your traditional Kiss, they are more creamy/candy-like and not a chocolate Kiss filled with pumpkin.

The Whole Enchilada

I have been craving Mexican recently, and I've had this recipe on my must-try list for a while now. I couldn't just post one pic, it was so good....and because there were a lot of leftovers, Jamie and I get to enjoy it for another meal. The recipe was wonderful, I didn't really change much at all, I'll definitely be making this dish again.

Just before heading into the oven.....

A casserole of melted, gooey, cheesy goodness.....

Topped with sour cream & green onions (I added tomatoes too after I took the picture)...right before I devoured them!

Hungry Man Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
Amber's Delectable Delights

1/2 cup chili gravy, recipe below
6, 8" flour tortillas I used 12 corn tortillas

Filling Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup 4 Cheese Mexican Blend I used 2% blend
1/4 cup sour cream I used about 1/2 cup fat free sour cream

Topping Ingredients:
1 cup chili gravy, recipe below
1/2 cup 4 Cheese Mexican Blend I used 2% blend

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line bottom of 9 x 13 pan with 1/2 cup chili gravy.

3. In a medium bowl mix shredded chicken, beans (I smashed mine a bit, I seem to have slight texture issues with whole beans), cheese, and sour cream.

4. Lay out one tortilla* and place 1/2 cup of filling mixture down the center. Fold up tortilla tucking in the ends and rolling into a cylinder. Place enchilada into pan, seam side down, and repeat process until all the filling mixture is gone.

5. Top enchiladas with chili gravy and cheese. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 additional minutes. Serve with a sour cream, green onions and tomatoes if desired....which I highly recommend!!!!!

*My secret for making flour tortillas pliable and easy to fold is to turn on a burner on the gas stove on and flop the tortilla over it. Let it set for about 15 seconds and then flip it over and let the other side warm for 15 seconds. Please remember that you are dealing with flames here so if your tortilla starts to smoke or catches on fire turn off the burner and remove the tortilla.

*I don't have a gas stove, I placed tortillas between dampened paper towels and heated for 40 seconds. This was my first time working with corn tortillas, the started to break slightly, but held up. If any one has any other method of preparing them, let me know!

Chili Gravy
Adapted from original source Homesick Texan, found on Sweet-Savory-Southern
Makes 2 cups

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp powdered garlic2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano (Mexican oregano is preferred)
2 tbsp chile powder(either homemade or a dark brand such as Gebhardt’s or Whole Foods) I used Mexican Chili Powder
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken broth (or water) I used fat free/low sodium chicken broth

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Stir in the flour and continue stirring for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it makes a light brown roux.

3. Add all the dry ingredients and continue to cook for 1 minute, constantly stirring and blending ingredients.

4. Add chicken broth or water, mixing and stirring until the sauce thickens.

5. Turn heat to low and let sauce simmer for 15 minutes. If desired, add water to adjust the thickness.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

There's No Crying in the Kitchen!

It was only this summer that I have started enjoying turkey burgers - I love burgers and it's a great & tasty way to cut some of the fat. Here's another juicy & tasty turkey burger recipe I created, using caramelized onions both in the burger mixture and on top.

My eyes are sensitive, and onions often make me cry. I have found that chilling the onion in the fridge before slicing, using a very sharp knife and cutting them near an open window helps stop the tears. The onions in this dish are not too overpowering, since the onion flavor mellows, it isn't as strong and becomes sweeter, similar to garlic when it's roasted. I served this with grilled corn brushed with a little butter, garlic powder and Montreal spicy steak seasoning and a salad.

Caramelized Onion & Cheddar Turkey Burgers

1 lb ground turkey
1 cup shredded sharp cheese, divided
1/4 tsp Kosher salt (more if you want, but the steak seasoning has some in it)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp Montreal spicy steak seasoning
1/4 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey BBQ)
2-3 tbsp unseasoned bread crumbs
2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium onion, sliced
about 1 tbsp each of extra virgin olive oil and butter, more if needed
a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper

1. Heat the EVOO and butter in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add the sliced onions and saute for a couple of minutes and flip them over. Sprinkle with a dash of sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and continue to saute the onions till golden and soft, about another 10-15 minutes, adding a little water or oil if necessary.

2. Heat grill to med-high. Mix all the ingredients from the turkey through the garlic (but only 1/2 cup of the cheese, reserve other half for toppings.

3. Remove onions, and when slightly cooled, chop approximately 3-4 tbsp of the onions and add to turkey mixture. Divide into 4 equal sized patties.

4. Grill for about 7 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Top with the reserved shredded cheese to melt. I topped the burgers with a bit more BBQ sauce, caramelized onions and tomato.

Holy Mucho Nachos!

I did not make this monstrosity of a nacho platter - I unknowingly ordered the biggest half order of nachos at a restaurant in Nashville that I'd ever seen!!! The picture doesn't do it justice, it was much bigger in person. Needless to say after I was done with them, it hardly looked like I had touched them. I thought I'd share the toppings that were on it, to give ideas for your own nachos.

Gigantic Nachos

Tri color tortilla chips,
sour cream
chili with beef and beans
green onions and yellow onions
black olives
refried beans
shredded Monterrey Jack and cheddar cheese
I think that's it......

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Different Kind of Rice Krispie Treat

I've heard so much about The Pioneer Woman's Crispy Yogurt Chicken, and I've made a couple of other things from her blog, so I decided to go for it. Then after reading more about it, it was hard for some people to get it crispy and I was not a fan of all that butter. Then I came across another blog's healthier adaptation of it, and I went with that one instead.

This is definitely a keeper, I wish the picture turned out better....but give it a try. It was baked and crispy, yet juicy inside, and I served it with a baked potato and peas. I only marinated it for about 2 hours, I'm sure if I had done it longer, it would have been even better.

Oven Fried Chicken with Yogurt
adapted from Reading,Riting and Recipes

* The following quantities are approximates

Chicken parts of your choice - I used breasts
1-2 cups fat free plain yogurt
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
2 cups (or so) of Rice Krispies or Special K cereal (something rice based and puffy) I used Rice Krispies
1 cup (or so) bread crumbs I used panko bread crumbs
Salt & Pepper
Cayenne Pepper I omitted
I added some dried parsley for taste & color, I added some to the bread crumbs as well as a sprinkle on top of the chicken

Mix the yogurt, garlic and lemon together and toss your chicken with it to get it all coated. Let marinate for several hours (but if you have no time, you can skip the marinating and just move on to breading).

Crush the cereal in a food processor or blender. When you have crumbs, add the bread crumbs and season with salt, pepper & cayenne to taste. If you're out of cereal or crumbs, you can use all of one or the other, but the combo is nice and I really love the texture of the cereal in the final product so I'd be more inclined to use all cereal.

Roll the chicken in the coating and get a good thick coating on each piece.Place the pieces on a baking sheet lined with foil. I have found that the Reynolds non-stick foil works really really well for this and makes things nice and crispy. If you don't have it, just spray your regular foil with cooking spray. Spray the tops of the chicken lightly with cooking spray or an olive oil mister.

Bake at 350 until cooked through and the coating is browned and crisp, about an hour for bone-in pieces, 30-45 minutes for boneless.The combination of the release foil and just a touch of spray on the breading gives you a super crisp crust, without any added fat.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Momma's Boys

Let me introduce you to the most spoiled kittens ever (OK, they're 3 years old, but they'll always be my babies) - Socks & Thumper. While shopping in Knoxville, I spotted these food dishes - they were just too adorable & appropriate to pass up. They have already happily enjoyed their breakfast, lunches and dinners from them (Thumper has been known to eat multiple breakfasts, lunches and dinners...he's the bigger one....)

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Last of My Garden.....

This is my first year that I attempted growing peppers and full size tomatoes - it was sort of a success. I didn't get as many as I wanted, but my peppers actually turned yellow & red, although they didn't get too big - they did taste great though. Hopefully I'll plant a much larger garden next year and try some new plants and herbs.

The Way The Muffin Crumbles

...and boy was it good!! I wasn't really feeling banana bread, and haven't made muffins in a while. I came across this recipe while looking for something a little different. These are definitely a little more decadent - not something you can eat for breakfast everyday....but they are soooo worth it.
And be prepared - your house will smell amazing.

Banana Crumb Muffins
from Allrecipes


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter


1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

2.In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

3.In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

4.Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes (Mine were done around the 22 minute mark), until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Use Up Your Tomatoes!

The end of summer means that the last of my tomatoes are ready to be picked, and the herbs are abundant. I found this meatless dish and it was exactly what I was looking for -it's quick, easy, and creamy (but not drowned in sauce) and tastes fresh with the lightly sauteed tomatoes and herbs.

Fresh Tomato-Mushroom-Basil Pasta
adapted from My Recipes/Southern Living

Prep: 15 min. Cook: 35 min.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

8-oz. package bow tie pasta
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 cloves of roasted garlic, smashed into a paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups seeded and chopped plum tomatoes
4-6-oz. package sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp chopped freshly chopped parsley
1 tbsp shredded Parmesan
2 tbsp grated Romano
1/2 cup frozen, thawed, drained spinach

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Sauté onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes and next 3 ingredients; cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in spinach till combined.

3. Stir in whipping cream, cream cheese, roasted garlic paste, parsley and basil. Cook, stirring constantly, until cream cheese melts and sauce is smooth. Serve over cooked pasta; sprinkle with Parmesan/Romano cheese. Sprinkle with a little more fresh herbs.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Omnivore's Hundred

I've seen this on many blogs, so I thought I would try it. I'm not a huge meat or seafood my list isn't very exciting. I had to look up many of the items, I've never heard of them before!

From Very Good Taste Omnivore’s Hundred:

“Below 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. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.”

If you want to join in, here are the rules:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black Pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J 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
23. Foie Gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Head Cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
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
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 whiskey 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
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frog Legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
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

** I scored a 41...I'm not very adventurous!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Menu - Week of September 7th's a little late, I forgot to post it!

Sunday - (Just got back into town) Whole Wheat Rotini with Marinara (frozen) & Romaine Salad

Monday - Mediterranean Mini Turkey Burgers & Grilled Lemon Herb Potatoes

Tuesday - Parmesan Crusted Chicken & Sun Dried Tomato Risotto

Wednesday - Ziti with Chicken, Broccoli in a White Wine Cheddar Sauce

Thursday - Turkey Chili (from freezer, in my blog) & Garden Salad

Friday - Buffalo Chicken Fingers & Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Saturday - Out for dinner

Wine & Cheesey Garlicky Ziti

I have seen this recipe many times, and it's been on my must-try list for a while. I love garlic, chicken and broccoli, throw in pasta and great cheese, and it's a winner in my book. I reheated leftovers for a couple of lunches, and I just added a little extra virgin olive oil and chicken broth so it wouldn't dry up. I made some changes, and the original recipe is linked below.

Ziti with Chicken and Broccoli in a White Wine Cheddar Sauce
adapted from Good Things Catered

3/4 lb ziti
3 Tbsp butter
about 1/2 cup roasted garlic paste (made by roasting garlic in oven and squeezing garlic out of skin) see below
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 c. low-sodium chicken stock
1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets (about 2 c.)
1.25-1.5 lbs chicken tenders or breasts, grilled and cut in smaller pieces
3 oz. aged Vermont white reserve cheddar, grated (about 1 1/2 c.)
freshly shredded Parmesan cheese to taste
salt and ground pepper

-Bring 4 qt. of water to a boil in large pot and cook ziti according to box directions to only al dente and set aside.

-At the same time, lightly steam broccoli florets on top of pan in steamer and set aside.

-Meanwhile, melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

-When just coming to foaming, add garlic paste and cook until fragrant (about 1 min)

-Add flour and cook until beginning to turn golden (about 2 min.)

-Add broth and cook until evaporated (about 1 min).

-Stir broth into pan and simmer sauce until slightly thickened (about 2 min).

-Add cheddar and stir constantly while returning to a boil.

-Fold in ziti cook for one minute additional and remove from heat.

-Add broccoli and chicken and fold until sauce covers uniformly.

-Plate and top with some shredded Parmesan and serve.

Roasted Garlic Paste

4 large garlic bulbs, left whole and unpeeled
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground back pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. Slice of 1/4 inch off the top of each bulb. Place bulbs in a small baking dish, or in muffin trays. Drizzle with a little EVOO, salt and pepper and cover with foil. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until garlic is golden brown and soft.

Remove from oven and let cool. Squeeze each clove out of its paper and add to a bowl, and mash together to form a paste. Set aside until ready to use in the above dish.

I also love to make roasted garlic paste and add to butter, mashed potatoes, sour cream, a spread for bread, pizza, chicken, pasta etc, etc. As you can tell, I LOVE garlic, and after it's roasted, it becomes much more mellow. You can keep roasted garlic in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Revisting Risotto

I love risotto in restaurants, and a little while back, I attempted to make it - it was inedible. So I decided to have another go at it - it wasn't perfect, but it was good. Parmesan chicken is a favorite of mine, but I didn't want the same old one covered in a tomato sauce with tons of cheese - don't get me wrong, I love that dish, but wanted to try something new.

So I found this risotto recipe with sundried tomato and basil that I though would pair well with the chicken. I'll definitely be making this again, and hopefully I'll finally get the risotto just right. It's not the recipe - it's definitely the cook - but practice makes perfect!

Sundried Tomato Basil Risotto
Steph's Kitchen

4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (Heat to a simmer and set aside)
3 TBS butter (1 TBS mixed in at the end)
3/4 cup finely diced onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup chopped sundried tomato
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

Melt 2 TBS butter in a pan. Add the onions and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the rice and mix with the butter and onions. Add the wine and simmer until the wine is almost absorbed.

Gradually add chicken broth about 1/2 Cup at a time. Stir constantly until the broth is almost absorbed before adding the next. When all the broth is almost absorbed add the sundried tomato and basil and continue to cook for about a minute or two.

Remove from the heat and add the parmesan cheese and the butter. Stir all together and serve immediately.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken
...and a cookie for dessert

2 large eggs1 cup dried plain-style bread crumbs
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan-
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Butter-flavored cooking spray

Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Mix the bread crumbs, garlic powder, and Italian seasonings in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt and pepper.

Coat the chicken completely with the cheese, patting to adhere, then dip into the eggs. Coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere. Add to greased 9×13 pan and spray chicken with cooking spray.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and crispy.'s the 100th post!

It's hard to remember what "cooking" used to be like for me - I was terrified of the kitchen - not only did my repertoire consist of heating up Ragu and boiling penne (and even that sometimes turned out horrible , I didn't know what al dente meant!); I also managed to cut and injure myself and damage appliances. I could have been the advertisement for Gordon Ramsey's show "Kitchen Nightmares"

A few years ago, a couple of things in my life pretty much forced me to learn to cook. Besides, you can't live on frozen chicken fingers & fries or fast food forever!

My first "meal" for my parents and my husband to-to-be was cream of mushroom chicken served over boxed mashed potatoes. I slowly began experimenting - I added dried, then fresh herbs, fresh mushrooms and broccoli. Then after mastering and getting sick of eating chicken smothered in cream of whatever soup, I began to venture on the Internet to search for recipes (other than

I began making simple dishes, and slowly learned about new techniques and ingredients; and eventually worked my way up to more complicated and sophisticated dishes. My confidence grew over time, and I just now, I finally think of myself as a decent cook (although I am still quite baking-challenged). After seeing how many other people enjoy cooking and have wonderful blogs dedicated to this art - I was inspired to create my own.

~~So cheers to another hundred more~~

Peach Bellini
taken from Easy Summer Food - simple recipes for sunny days

3 ripe peaches
1 bottle of Prosecco or sparkling wine, 750 ml

Peel the peaches by plunging them into boiling water for 30 seconds. refresh them under cold water and peel off the skin. Cut in half to remove the pit and chop the flesh.

Put the peaches in a blender, add a small amount of Prosecco, and process to a puree. Pour into champagne flutes and top up with the remaining Prosecco. (Next time I would strain the puree to get rid of some of the solids- it's my first time making a bellini)

I added a few raspberries for color and flavor...yum!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hold Onto Your Buns

...and bring out the pita!

It's definitely not fall-like here in Tennessee - it was 90 degrees yesterday. although fall foods sound pretty good right now, and much of the country is closing down their pools & bringing out the fall clothes - summer is certainly hanging on here in the South.

Since I recently discovered that I love turkey burgers, I thought I would try it Mediterranean/Greek style. The flavors worked so well together, it was light, colorful & just plain great. It was a refreshing change from the same old beef burger on a bun topped with a slice of cheese, ketchup & mustard.

Mediterranean Mini Turkey Burgers

1 lb ground turkey (I used 93% lean)
1/2-1 tbsp dried oregano
1/3 cup fat free feta (I would have added a little more, but Jamie's not a big fan of feta...I think I slipped it by him)
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp each kosher salt & freshly ground pepper (I used a blend of black, white, red & green peppercorns)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
whole wheat pitas
extra virgin olive oil
Toppings: I used thinly sliced tomato, English cucumbers, red onion and a few crumbles of feta. And I used the garlic-lemon yogurt as my condiment, recipe to follow.

I mixed all ingredients in a bowl. I shaped the mixture into about 8 small equal sized patties and grilled on the BBQ for about 5 minutes per side on medium-high heat, or until desired. (I like more on the well-done side).

About a minute before burgers are done, brush a little extra virgin olive oil on some whole wheat pitas, and place on the grill for 10-15 seconds on each side just to heat. Remove burgers and pitas, slice both in half, and stuff the burgers inside the pitas, and add your toppings.

Lemon-Garlic Yogurt

1 cup plain fat free yogurt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2-1 tbsp dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients and chill for at least a half hour before serving.

Grilled Lemon-Herb Potatoes

4 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
kosher salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of half a lemon
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

Bring a pot of water to boil, and add potatoes. Let cook for about 15 minutes. Mix some EVOO with the lemon juice, zest, oregano and parsley in a bowl and set aside.

Remove, drain and cool slightly. Cut into large wedges. Brush the potatoes with some (plain, not the above mixture) EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill over medium heat , turning a couple of times till cooked through, approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from grill and add to bowl and toss with EVOO mixture. Use some of the yogurt dip instead of ketchup!