Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Biggest Oysters I've EVER seen

Well last weekend was a whirlwind. Went to Auburn on Thursday morning for my future sis in laws wonderful wedding. Came home Saturday night and turned around to leave again on Sunday for a quick trip to the Oregon coast.

With Monday being the 4th I actually had a day off and got to take a drive up to Port Orford. The weather was beautiful if a little windy but we were directed to a place where we had the best dinner. This was at Griff's on the Dock. This place may have had more that 6 tables in the tiny place but I'm not sure where they could have been.

Dinner was wonderful, I got the fried oysters and they were a sight to behold. I kid you not those things were about as large as my palm, tender and very delicious, lightly breaded and totally tasting of oyster not breading. The french fries and coleslaw weren't too shabby either and the thing I really liked about the plate was that all about the oysters, not the fries or the slaw.

One of my girlfriends got the Ciopinno. This had fresh butter clams, and baby shrimp, along with the largest chunks of crab I've ever seen and fresh rockfish.
It was tasty too, or at least the spoonfull she let me have was really yummy. When it comes to shellfish sharing can be an iffy thing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cool Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

Well we're having a hot streak with the temps around here. The kitties are laying flat on the linoleum under the A/C vent and the fiance is sitting under his A/C vent at his place. Everyone is trying to stay cool.

When it gets warm like this may favorite thing to eat (besides a DQ Heath Bar Blizzard) is a salad with tomatoes, a bit of red onion and garlic with just a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Of course the tomatoes have to be really good. Now this is a really good jumping off point for a couple of different things, Spanish Gazpacho, Italian Panzanella (bread salad) if ya have some really good day old bread. But I'm trying to reduce the carbs a bit and I could eat a whole loaf of bread. I'm needing to increase my protein intake a bit as well, so voila, quinoa and chick peas. let me tell ya, it was so good, I almost licked the bowl. For the record, this would be really good as a substantial side for grilled chicken or salmon.

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 14 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic minced or put though a garlic press
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 medium avocado, diced small
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
a couple good grinds of black pepper and a good sprinkle of kosher or sea salt.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar or to taste

I like to mix the garlic and olive oil with the chick peas and letting them sit for a few minutes then put everything into a large bowl, sprinkle with the vinegar and mix well.

I personally think this is best after it's sat at room temperature for a bit, i don't want my tomatoes cold so I get the full flavor of them. Also I think this would be very easy to change up, add cucumbers, olives, feta and some fresh oregano and it would become Greek inspired. My moth is watering just thinking about it.

Easy peasy and delish!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friends, Food and Fun in Texas Hill Country

Well. I'm supposed to be working, playing catch-up from being with my gal pals in San Antonio and the surrounding Hill County last weekend. Instead I'm in town working, drinking an extra, extra strong back tea with not quite enough honey, and um, I'm working.

Really. Can't you tell?

I just couldn't stand it any longer. So here's a preliminary post as I catch up, get my pics in order and beg Yvette for the recipe to her version of Chicken Cordon Bleu that was fantastic. Hear that Yvette???
Check back soon as I add more from the trip or better yet subscribe...I know shameless self promotion.
By the way I didn't catch the name of the butterfly above but this was one of the beautiful inhabitants at the butterfly house on the property of Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, TX. Goal for the weekend a slide show added to the page so you can see all of the cool places we visited.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Citrus Tian with Kumquat Cranberry Marmalade - Update

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I got a little excited and decided to make a few changes because while I really like orange, I LOVE citrus. I found kumquats while I was at Trader Joe's and decided that I needed to make the marmalade for the recipe from that and then I decided that the whole thing would benefit from the rosy color of cranberries since I still had some in the freezer. As my cousin says Oh, My, Damn! It turned out much better than I expected and using ruby red grapefruit for the orange segment part of the recipe just made the whole thing far more beautiful.

I had to add an update to this because I had my fiance ask after reading this post as to why I had no picture posted of the actual finished product. I had to explain to him that it was because I'd gotten so excited after putting them together and tasting the individual components that I ate the darn thing before I remembered to take pictures of it. My Bad!

Ode to a Tuxedo Kitten

Pretty Boy
Ok, I know this isn't about food but I had a rough weekend. I had all sorts of plans and ideas of how my weekend was going to be and that included a funny write up on the numerous eviscerated rodents my small tuxedo hunter Little was bringing up on the porch. I was sure he just thought I wasn't eating well. The most recent was Thursday night and he was happy as a clam and so proud of himself. Instead, after me not seeing him for a day, I found him dead and I was devastated and I'm hoping that writing about the loss will help me get over it.

Frankly, there are heavy rumors going around that gophers and field mice put a hit on him and that may be true but I haven't gotten any of the locals to give up any information. Lexie, his terrier buddy from next door has been doing the questioning and come up empty handed so far. She too is sad not having her playmate around but she's a bit rambunctious for Little's brother big boy, Ace and sister the princess Izumi.

Needless to say I have a very heavy heart and will miss him bunches. He was a huge part of my daily life for the last 5 years being the boss of the house and the property here and pretty much the neighborhood when we lived down in Concord. He truly believed that he was the king and we were all his subjects as shown in the photo below. Here he's lying at my workspace on my desk where you could often find him when he was in the house. We'll all miss you Little Kitty!
Office Mate

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bitter Greens

Last night my mom cooked dinner for the first time since she came down with pneumonia. So, I think sometime in early February. She'd been pretty sick. Apparently she'd had about enough of my cooking and damn it I'm a good cook, but mom is old school. OK, Old School and from North Carolina. In short, Southern cook, that happens to have freaking skinny genes. (Which is just plan not fair!) At 70 something she has a right to be old school, but sometimes cooking for her can be really difficult.

Last night she wanted pork chops and greens and apparently she wanted nothing to do with anything I would choose to fix. She made real old school pork chops, fried in a bit of bacon grease. Now I love pork chops, heck, who am I kidding, I love pork. I won't lie, I was looking forward to having the pork chops. But when I came into the kitchen for some sweet tea I saw the greens. At first I thought she'd stopped at the market on here way home from her volunteer work at the elementary school. (She's just started back)

I was wrong. Very wrong.

This was not collards or chard which are very common at our house if I was not mistaken she's been out in the yard pulling up Chicoria, "dandelion greens!"

Wow we haven't had those in a long time but here they were ready to go. I knew she didn't get these at the market, but she'd been out in the yard. I was a bit concerned cause I knew she was gonna do them just like she does collards or chard but these things are BITTER. So I let her. Being mom she would never give into the fact that I might be right about something. So when it came time for me to put them on my plate I just drizzled them with a bit of olive oil, a dash of wine vinegar and pepper and ate them first.

She took a bite and stopped and I just looked at her. "Ok," she says to me, "I'd forgotten how bitter they could be. How would you do them?"

"Heck mom." I said, "This is when I'd totally do them Old School ya know? I'd saute 'em in a pan with bacon and onion, or garlic and red pepper something to just take that bitter edge off and then sprinkle them with wine vinegar."

"Hmmm," she says, "That might be a pretty good idea, next time you do them."

So next time, I will.

Guilty Pleasures

I think I have a serious addiction to couple different things.

Right now the one that has overtaken me are potato skins. Not the fancy cheese and bacon things that you sometimes find recipes for, or even the restaurant appetizer although those are darn tasty and there are few places where they are a must order. I'm not talking about those.

I'm talking about the crispy skin of a beautifully scrubbed, lightly oiled, roasty, toasty baked russet spud. Baked in the oven, not in the microwave and not wrapped in foil so that the potato is more steamed in it's foil jacket. We're talking oven roasted, dry heat. The potato seems better to me then. Tastier somehow, lighter, dry and fluffy, pretty darn perfect. After the actual potato is gone from the insides there's that skin all golden and crackly, maybe with just a little salt on the outside and maybe just a bit crunchy. Then the insides, spread with soft butter and lightly salted again. If I'm home, picked up and eaten like a burrito or a piece of pizza, straight from my hand. No fork and knife here.

Nirvana. That can be better than any sweet after dinner.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When Things Go Bad

Have you ever had things you cook not turn out the way you want them to, or have you been greatly disappointed by something you cooked. Maybe it didn't taste the way you thought it should or it just flopped. My fiance asked me this last night. And I have to say yup, it's happened to me and it makes me nuts when it does. Maybe that's the control freak perfectionist that comes out every once in a while but it can be frustrating.
I have a wonderful Coq au Vin recipe, love to make it, it never fails. That is until I try to take care of the final steps and then hold it warm in a crock pot. Good idea, bad, bad out come. For me anyhow. All that butter and flour that's supposed to thicken, just turned into a melted mess sitting on top. It still tasted pretty good but I was truly irritated with myself. Then the other night I made Chicken Piccata to go with my risotto and was so NOT happy with it. I thought my chicken was a bit dry, I didn't think it had enough color, my sauce wasn't balanced enough and I REALLY need a fresh jar of capers. Everyone else loved it. Man I'm hard to please.
But things happen, cakes fall, or stick to the pan, or you misread a recipe and you add 2 "quarts" of zucchini instead of 2 "cups" the first time you make that Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Man was that cake green oh, and I was like, 16 or so. What a mess. But, in the end you try again in hopes that you've just made the bast thing ever! So, have you ever had things you cook not turn out the way you want?

Below is the zucchini cake I've been making for the last few years. It's AWESOME!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

"This is a moist fudgy type cake. Sweet but not extremely sweet and makes good use of zucchini! You can frost it with chocolate frosting or cream cheese icing."
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs and oil, mix well. Fold in the nuts and zucchini until they are evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely before frosting with your favorite frosting.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Awesome! The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

Instead of the pumpkin, I decided to make mushroom. I usually serve this with either seared scallops or shrimp with sinful balsamic butter sauce. But, I had neither of those things, so I did chicken piccata instead. Fabulous! I go to use the last of my Vermintino for the risotto and it was delish!! Thanks Eleanor and Jess this was an awesome challenge! Now to find my cable so I can upload my pic from my camera. OK. Finally got that updated. Here's my yummy pic. This stuff was so good I could hardly stand it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


It took three tries to get the clothes right yesterday afternoon. It's bright, sunny and Brrrrr. Not warm. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. I'm a wuss, I think it needs to be a tad warmer before I try mowing. But heck the Weeping Cherry is getting ready to burst into bloom, and the nectarine and grape hyacinth are already there.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

I'm all souped out. I decided that tonight I'd make this Chicken Pesto Pasta dish. I haven't made pasta for dinner in quite a while and I didn't get any pictures during the process but here's the finished product.
I used piccolino farfalle (baby bowtie) pasta and I popped a tasty bottle of 2007 Uvaggio Vermentino to use in my sauce and to drink with dinner. Perfect! Here's the recipe.

Chicken Pesto Pasta
(serves 2-3)

3/4 lb Chicken Breasts cut in 1-2 inch chunks
2 Tbsp Olive Oil divided
8 oz sliced white or brown mushrooms
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup white wine
2-4 oz pesto (to your taste)
1/4 to 1/2 cup pasta water or chicken broth
Salt & Pepper to taste

6 oz uncooked pasta

cook pasta in a bot of boiling, salted water until al dente, drain saving some water for the sauce.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt, a good pinch or so. Saute the chicken in 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat just till you get color on the chicken. You don't want to cook all the way through. Remove to a plate. Add the second tablespoon olive oil and the mushrooms to the pan. Cook until they are getting some color and start to lose their moisture but don't let them cook all the way down. Slowly add the white wine and the cream cheese stir until it starts looking a bit creamy and saucy. Add the chicken and the juices from the plate back to the pan and let cook for a few minutes, to let the chicken cook through. No more than 5. Add the pesto to taste then the pasta. At this point you can decide if you need to add the pasta water to loosen the sauce some. Taste for additional seasonings, be careful with the salt as pesto can be pretty salty.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On the Road to Recovery

Ok. So it's been months. I have a weekly reminder to write but do I nooooo. I also don't do "THE DAMN REPORT" for my regular job either until I have to and I enjoy my blog a million times more. But that's another story. I've been sick with strep throat and mom's had pneumonia for what seems like months even though it was really weeks. Several weeks, and saying she's not a good patient is an understatement. At least I've been entertained by bad Little Kitty. See how his ears look a bit like horns. Rotten kitten, he refused to move and I thought grandma was gonna kill both of us.

Spring is springing into view. I've got bunches of daffodils all over the house to brighten up the place. I think it's helping some too. I didn't think these flowers had a smell but they do. It's really nice and fresh.
If only the frigid weather would just move on out. Not that I don't love the rain and the creek running etc, etc, etc, if the cold would just move on I'd be so thrilled.
I picked up a big bag of Meyer Lemons. They smell so fabulous I can hardly stand it Now what to do with them. Lemon Bars? Lemon Pound Cake? Lemon Curd? I'd love lemon meringue pie, but it has that meringue on it. I'm not fond of that kind of meringue. Oooo or what about Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
Well I'll get back with what I decided shortly.