The Heat is ON!
I had an overdose of TV for the first couple of months of this year, so I haven't watched much lately. Oddly, I turn it on (with a timer) when I'm leaving so the dog doesn't feel quite so alone. As I was dashing out the door I heard the ingredients for this marinade, and KNEW I had to try it. From Chrissy Teigen and The Chew, this Sweet & Spicy Chicken is incredibly simple – not to mention, really, REALLY good! Don't let the amount of chipotle scare you (unless you're serving kids) – it's balanced well with the sweetness of the bbq sauce, lime, and oh yeah, brown sugar... There's still a bite of heat, but that's why I wanted this! This makes quite a bit of marinade – easily enough for two or three meals. I saved some in a jar in the fridge, and froze the rest – I'm sure I'll have other uses for this tasty substance wink. I think it would be AWESOME on a pork tenderloin! I used boneless, skinless thighs, as that's what I had. Instead of laying them out flat, I kept them in the “natural” state.
On a whim, I decided to go for the whole enchilada (sorry, couldn't resist wink) and made the menu suggested. Jasmine rice (with a dash of lemon garlic salt), a can of well rinsed black beans lightly sauteed with onion and garlic and a splash of balsamic... and Mango Salsa! I'd serve this as a salad, but double or triple it - only takes about five minutes per batch, tops, but let it set while you finish the rest of the meal – delicious! I'm having that alone for my lunch tomorrow!!!
How's that for a well-rounded, healthy and exceedingly tasty meal – if you've marinated ahead of time, you can put it together in about 30 minutes. NO KIDDING – 30 MINUTES!!! Enjoy!

Posted by Linda :
Friday 11 April 2014 - 23:13:02
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So I needed some cookies...
Well, “need” might be too strong a word, but I wanted a 'simply nice' gift for a friend, and who can resist cookies?!? This one for Italian Lemon Drop Cookies seemed quite nice. The batter went together in no time at all, and since I used a mini icecream scoop, they all came out about the same size. Shape, however, was another thing! If you want perfection, I'd roll them into little balls – but I liked the rustic (and home-made) look inherent in the variety. Light and airy, not too sweet with a distinct lemon flavor, you could stop right there. But this recipe called for a thick glaze – sprinkles optional, but I quite liked the finish look wink
Don't let the preparation time fool you – that is only until you take them out of the oven. They must fully cool before you ice them, and it DOES take a while for the frosting to set to the point you can stack them. Now, since I was on an Italian theme, Pinoli/Pignoli/Pine Nut Cookies seemed a delightful compliment. Based on almond paste (my grocer didn't have any, so I made my own), these cookies are pretty much nuts, egg whites, and sugar. Don't be disappointed that the actual cookie is made with almonds – so much less expensive than pignoli, trust me!
Now THIS recipe SAID to roll into balls – but my egg whites must have been larger than they planned, because that wouldn't have been possible. Using the same scoop, THESE turned out perfectly round? Go figure... I've gotta say I was very happy with both results – one crisp, the other slightly chewy... and definitely, well, hopefully, totally enjoyed.

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 09 April 2014 - 05:26:59
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My Two Favorite Donuts – EASY!
Okay, not actually donuts – but if you can start and be eating them within forty minutes, well, I'd say that these easy muffins are an incredibly satisfying option! I started with the one that’s been floating around on Facebook - this link is about as close as I've found. My big tip would be to not use fully melted butter for the final “TA DA”, but to keep it slightly creamy – it spreads SO much better that way. Aint these purty?
These reminded me of my classic, childhood (to now) favorite from The Cider Mill - I know that they are fried at The Mill, not to mention that they're not available year round... For a taste of a memory that can be accomplished so quickly, I'll make this recipe again. Now, my other favorite donut is a chocolate glaze. This recipe uses chocolate in both the batter and the topping – to live up to the original DD fave I omitted it from the glaze (and yeah, I ditched the sprinkles, too) wink
This was a little (ok, a lot) thicker than I wanted, so I added a couple tablespoons of hot water and tried again...
JUST RIGHT! And oh so yummy! These take a little longer, as you have to cool them before the glaze goes on – but worth it. Again, very much like my favorite wink Quicker, cheaper, healthier (no frying) – and delightful! How can you go wrong?

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 25 March 2014 - 20:26:48
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You can't fail if you start with BACON!
I've got some time, but not much energy. Tons of food in the house, but nothing I really want to put much effort into?!? Not even that hungry, but I know I've got to eat...

Still not quite sure what I was going to make, I sliced up 4 or 5 strips of bacon – into the dutch oven to crisp. Checking the canned goods, I've got two cans of Rotel (tomatoes and peppers)! And rice? Yeah, I've got a big bag...

Spanish (well sort of) Rice it is! As the bacon finished cooking, I opened my cans of Rotel and drained the liquid – about ¾ cup between the two. Add water to make about three and a half cups. Add two cups of rice to the crisp bacon and its fat, and stir until the grains are well coated. In anything Spanish or Mexican I really like some cumin, garlic – and just in principle, I like smoked paprika. A few generous dashes of each, then add the water and juice blend.

Cook as you would any rice – bring to a full boil, then reduce heat and cover, simmering for about 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and peppers from the Rotel, stir and heat through. DONE!

Ok, if you want to use fresh tomatoes and peppers, like I would usually do, feel free. But I've got to say this is easy and quick.

A perfect side dish for something basic, and a meal in itself! You really CAN'T get any easier!

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 16 March 2014 - 21:34:20
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Back in the Kitchen Again!
Yes, it's been a while... To avoid being a drama queen, I'll just say I was on medical leave, and that's that. My “to do” list is overflowing, but I've been wanting to make this for some time... Butternut Squash & Spinach Stuffed Shells! I cheated when I found already peeled and cubed squash in the fresh produce section (also available in the frozen veggies, depending on the store) – it was about twice what I needed, but saved a lot of labor. A box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, again was about double... Are you sensing a pattern? Yep, and it continues into the pasta shells – half a box did the job. But YUMMM!!
The only suggestion I could make would be to add a little water to the bottom of the baking dish, and cover loosely with foil (the pasta itself was a little dry). However...
The sage toasted in browned butter was the perfect choice of a “sauce” for this meatless masterpiece! Do NOT skip the lemon juice - that tartness against the slight sweetness of the butternut... Oh, yeah. If I had more ricotta, I'd assemble a second pan, wrap well, and freeze for another day. As I don't, I've frozen both my roasted squash and spinach – that'll save me some time if I make this again, or give me a head start on another project wink

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 12 March 2014 - 21:36:22
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A Healthy Holiday Treat
OK, not pristine kind of healthy, or even vegan or gluten free... but it's got veggies wink
Picture and technique from 'Taste of Home”
Here's a unique twist on that old 'Veggie Pizza' I presume we've all had – there are hundreds out there... Using packaged crescent rolls, instead of spreading them out flat you slice them into discs – genius! The recipe then uses a base made of your very own herbed cream cheese and sour cream (feel free to mix up the flavor combination to YOUR choosing), and then you top with a variety of chopped vegetables. I LOVE the idea of using celery leaves as the bow!!! Simple, easy – you can do all your prep work the day ahead (slice and bake the dough, blend your cream cheese, chop the veggies) – but I'd recommend not assembling until the day you intend to serve, or it could get soggy. Even picky eaters will like this one – after all, they can always remove the offending veggie, right? And if you take nothing else away from this - making an arrangement of circular crescent rolls is bound to be inspiring... Note from December 2013: I multiplied this for my workplace Christmas party. 5 tubes rolls, 3 times the spread (added powdered onion, lemon zest, and white pepper, PLUS the originals), a touch of cauliflower, and as my celery leaves looked "eh", opted for a red bell pepper bow!
Used Fibonacci to calculate the three rings - yes, I'm a math geek! Not exact to the sequence, but it worked - 20 pieces in the outer circle, 12 in the middle, 8 in the center... wink

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 29 December 2013 - 00:20:31
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Man, these were GOOD!
So good, in fact, that they disappeared before I could take a picture? Sigh, guess I'll just have to make them again... wink (which I did today!) These Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks were a delightful nibble as we opened our Christmas presents. I doubled the recipe to make a 14” round "pizza", but followed the directions as presented – with one exception. Due to my timing, I split it into a 2 part effort.
As I didn't get home from work on Christmas Eve until after 8pm, I decided to do the 'ricing' and steaming that night, then the final assembly and bake before I left the next day, so it would still be at least warm. I actually think this helped the drying process – they weren't kidding about the amount of water that comes out! After wringing all I could, I placed the still towel-wrapped mass back into the pan I'd used to steam, and let it sit overnight. Preheating the oven leaving that pan on top finished it to what I'd consider perfection – an almost flour like consistency! Stir in your herbs, and your whisked egg, blend in your cheese... it was extremely easy to mold into a nice, even, perfectly round “crust”. BTW, there ARE lots of recipes out there that suggest using cauliflower instead of dough – I now consider these 'must tries' – honestly, it was that good! It finished the way you'd expect a perfect pizza crust – crisp on the outside, still tender to chew... I served with warmed marinara sauce, but it was just as enjoyable on its own – I might have used a tad more seasoning than was asked for, but my, I don't regret it.
With my crew of eclectic eaters, not a one had anything bad to say, rather, there were praises, and Mom asked to keep the meager leftovers (left only because dinner was ready to be served {tee hee}). Gluten and carb free, this is a good option for those concerned about such things, and as I said, enjoyable for all. You've GOT to try this!

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 28 December 2013 - 23:44:50
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They DO exist <3
I little off point (NOT about cooking), but something I experienced today I wanted to share.

I worked layaway for a couple hours this evening. Everyone was making their final payments and taking their boxes of goodies home. I started to ring up the young woman the same way - and she stopped me. With tears in her eyes she told me that she needed to cancel her contract, as she couldn't even make the minimum payment.

A couple from the back of the line walked up and handed her a $100 bill! He asked me if that would cover it, and then handed her another $20 and told her to take her package home tonight.

I don't think I've ever seen sorrow turn to joy so dramatically. We were all in tears, hugs were exchanged... My feet still hurt, but my heart is much lighter now.

Enjoy your shopping, your gifts - both given and received - but remember the reason for the season!

Joyous Christmas to all.

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 22 December 2013 - 02:17:45
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Holy Moly – it REALLY worked!
Ok, we've ALL seen this one around – mix ¼ cup baking soda with enough hydrogen peroxide to make a paste – then rub on your orangy-brown pans and let it sit a while. I'd forgotten that part (the waiting), and I used a scrubby to try to renew an old pizza pan. Here's the “just started” pic” of the bottom:
Trust me, the topside was worse, as I had burned cheese on it a couple of times. But here's my result after only about 10 minutes:
Since I decided to endorse this tip, I searched for another review, and this one popped up. For the remainder of the bottom, I shall do my best to simply wait, and see if the no scrub method has merit. Both ingredients are very inexpensive, and I for one, will keep using this method. Sure as heck beats the harsh chemicals that destroy my hands!

Posted by Linda :
Friday 20 December 2013 - 00:08:30
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Have you ever missed that ONE line in a recipe...
I've been wanting to make this for months – but it's the kind of recipe that needs 3-5 hours, and I just haven't had a day when I was HOME that long, other than to sleep. Working retail, remember? wink Well, today was the day – honestly, I don't even KNOW when I'll have my next day off (even Christmas is still being debated!?!?!!?)... So I'm making Italian Pot Roast, by Mr. Meatball. I'm at the simmering point, and it smells heavenly! But back to the subject – I've read the recipe through a couple times, and with the way my house smells, my stomach is already gurgling in anticipation... Yet somehow I missed this: “I allowed it to cool in the pot, then put the whole thing in the fridge overnight and served it for dinner the next evening. I strongly urge that you do this, as the flavor improves enough, I think, to make a difference. “ WAAAAAAAAAAHH!!!!! (I'm way overdue for a good cry... ) In your own kitchen, with very few exceptions, I offer you this: Instructions are OK to break.
Yeah, I didn't wait! I'll have plenty leftover, so I suppose I can look forward to it getting better and better – right? Served on creamy polenta (with a little parm stirred in)... MMM Mmmm GOOD! Better picture when I'm not so HUNGRY, lol! More confessions from an exhausted mind (and body and...) - while I used a smaller roast (about 1 ½ pounds) I neglected to cut the remaining ingredients in half! I don't believe it has affected the results one bit, and anticipate having a hearty beef flavored soup or sauce remaining after the meat is gone. Not a bad accident at all wink

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 15 December 2013 - 21:03:10
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