Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NYC-there's something about you...

Sometimes when I go on a trip, I forget to take pictures. Especially when I'm travelling with people who have cameras. When I hear the clicks and snaps of photos being taken, I somehow feel that those same pictures will appear on my camera. Or else I say something like, "Oh, be sure to e-mail me those pictures!" That seems to satisfy me and I never think of it again. (I never get the pictures either.) Unless I am writing on my blog and suddenly I remember standing and posing for dozens of pictures and I have nothing to show for it. I blame my own lazy self. Prudy, get your act together. OK, I did snap a few shots. See if you can catch a theme here.

Yep, just food. I guess I'm just a fully initiated food blogger now. I didn't forget to snap the french fries with red pepper mayonnaise, the fried green tomatoes with fresh ricotta, or the buttery steak with provolone cheese sauce. I just forgot to snap a picture of Times Square and the Hearst Tower and Central Park and of my little sisters walking down 5th Avenue. I also forgot to snap a picture of me winning $5000 at the Good Housekeeping Cook your Heart Cook Off. (Don't worry-my sister snapped a few. Plus it's all going to be on TV in October.) All of the recipes looked and sounded utterly fantastic, including the Tropical Shrimp Ceviche that took the $125,000 grand prize. I won the Ethnics Food Category with my North African Grilled Chicken Foldovers. Suprise, suprise; I didn't get a picture. You'll have to use your imagination. This Tuesday morning, I feel nothing but completely blissful. I spent the weekend in NYC with two of my sisters, ate like a Queen, saw many of my favorite cooking contest friends (and made some new favorites), saw a fantastic show on Broadway, visited my favorite paintings at the MOMA, got to hang out at the gorgeous Good Housekeeping offices, and to top it off, I won $5000. Not bad for a weekend of pleasure and leisure. Deeply contented sigh to follow.
Oh, and I did remember to take one more picture. Here I am back at home, eating NYC bagels with my crew in our I heart NYC T-shirts. Thank goodness there was food involved, or I may not have remebered to snap a photo at all.
Be back tomorrow with some buzz about an innovative new cookbook.
PS The next time I go to NYC, I'm inviting Mom, Laurie, Lisa, Leslie, Michelle, Sung Jin, Rosie and Catherine. Heidi and Mary Kate can come back, too. And Dad-he's used to being around a ton of girls.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cook Your Heart Out

Thanks everybody for filling me in on your back to school wake up times. My readers are burning the candles at both ends. I don't know about you all, but I'm already looking forward to Fall back. The promise of an extra hour in the future is my current motivation. I think we should all get together and have a great big sleeping party. Bring your pillows. Zzzzzz.I'm minutes away from leaving for NYC. I'm taking my two younger sisters, Heidi and Mary Kate, with me. We've got tickets to see Promises Promises and big plans to eat our way to the core of the Big Apple. It might sound like a pleasure trip, but I'm actually there on some serious business. Good Housekeeping magazine is hosting The Cook Your Heart Out cook-off, sponsored by the American Heart Health Association. The grand prize is a whopping $125,000, plus they're offering six category prizes of $5,000. I'm in the Ethnic Favorites category, making my original recipe of Grilled North African Spice Rubbed Chicken Foldovers. You should read the titles of the other recipes; they all sound fantastic. I have little hope of winning, but I feel like I won already since I get to spend the weekend in NYC with two of my sisters. That's a huge prize in itself.
And don't worry. This time I packed my black shoes, pajamas, and ahem, underclothing, first thing. And yes, they will be filming for TV. I'll let you know the details when I know them myself.
PS Check out September's Rachael Ray magazine. My West is on page 133.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chicken Fettucini Alfredo

This week we put out big toe into our new schedule, just to test the water. Should we jump in or hang out by the shore a little longer? I'm teaching nine credits at the college this semester, homeschooling the charges, and of course, cooking food and writing on my blog. If you throw in exercise, keeping up the house, getting the charges back and forth from ballet, violin, fencing, etc, and staying in touch with my siblings, I'm just about running at maximum. So here's my question for the day: What time do you ideally have to wake up in the morning to make the day run smoothly? I'm not even asking what time you ACTUALLY get up-just what time you would IDEALLY get up to have the day run perfectly. Leave a comment because I really want to know.
OK, now here's a recipe to share for the day. You know by now how much I love using FOOD ON THE TABLE to plan my meals with the grocery store specials. (Have you tried it yet?) A couple of weeks ago, I printed a recipe for Chicken Fettucini Alfredo. I didn't make it exactly as written, so you're getting my adapted version. But just look at all the gorgeous stuff I've got in my skillet. Combined with pasta and a creamy alfredo sauce, it was fantastic. I can't wait to make it another time. And speaking of time, I'm short on it, so I'm gonna run. Don't forget to leave me a comment about rise and shine times, readers!
Money Saving Tips:
Bell peppers are cheapest right now, so pluck some from your garden or buy a rainbow variety from the Farmer's Market. Pasta dinners are famously cheap, so make an extra batch and freeze it in individul portions for lunch.
Chicken Fettucini Alfredo
Adapted from Food on the Table
Estimated Cost: $8.00 for 6 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 onions, minced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
2 and 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
12 ounces hot cooked linguini
extra parm, for passing
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook for five minutes. Add garlic, bell peppers, and onions. Cook until softened; season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in flour. Add milk and cream and cook over low heat until mixture comes to a simmer. Simmer one minute; add parmesan cheese and sason to taste with s and p. Combine hot cooked pasta, chicken mixture, and about half of the sauce. Spoon a little sauce over the top before serving. Sprinkle with extra parm.
Next Up:
Blueberry Walnut Maple Granola

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Avocado and Nectarine Salad with Chile and Lime Dressing

You wouldn't have ever set your neighbors up on a blind date, right? They seem like they wouldn't go together at all, and yet they've been happily married for 15 years. (I'm not talking about the Quiet Man and me, ahem, but I could be.) Some things just seem like they would never go together. Like avocados and nectarines. Who'd have thunk? But then they end up in a late night study group and fall madly in love and make beautiful babies-uh, I mean salad together. Mr. luscious avocado has a serious crush on senorita sweet juicy nectarine. Ooh, la la. It's not an obvious match, true, but once they got to know each other they refused to be separated. Have them set up house on a cozy little bed of mixed greens. Throw in a little savory feta for a wedding veil and you've got a match made in heaven. Don't listen to what the tabloids say. This couple's going to make it.
This salad is perfect for using up your extra Chile Lime Dressing from the Mexican Grilled Corn below. Just squeeze in a little extra lime for some acid. Nectarines and other stone fruits are at their peak right now so you'll be able to get a swell deal. Use whatever greens are on sale this week. Spinach or romaine would be nice. You could make it a meal by throwing in some leftover grilled shrimp, tofu, chicken, or pork.
Avocado and Nectarine Salad with Chile Lime Dressing
Estimated Cost: $6.00 for four large servings
For the Dressing:
Combine in a bowl the following ingredients
3 tablespoons mayonaise (or swap out Greek Yogurt)
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 tsp. lime zest
juice from 1 lime
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder
generous pinch kosher salt
Layer the following on a platter:
6 ounces mixed baby greens
1 chopped, pitted avocado
1-2 chopped nectarines
1/4 cup sliced red onion
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Drizzle with dressing and serve. Yumma!
Up Next:
Chicken Fettucini Alfredo

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mexican Chile and Lime Corn on the Cob

My mom used to go to the grocery store every school day at 5:30 AM. Since there were ten kids in the house, she didn't even bother trying to keep the cupboards full. (Truthfully, if the cupboards were even remotely stocked, we just ate more and emptied them again.) Mom just went back to the grocery store, morning after morning, and bought what we needed for the day. I still remember waking up for school and almost tripping over the bagged groceries at the foot of the stairwell-sourdough bread, orange juice, milk, eggs, cheese and the like. (I wonder if I ever offered to unload the groceries. Hmmm. Highly unlikely. Sorry, Mom.) Last night, I woke up about 2: 30 and couldn't sleep. I started making lists: to-do lists, guest lists, homework lists, and grocery lists. Grocery lists! Why not just head to the store? Following in Mom's footsteps, I headed out the door in the lonely dark of 5:30 AM. People, now I know why she went that early every day. The dazzling efficiency! The store was stocked with groceries and empty of people. There was not one soul in line at the check out. Two people bagged my groceries, and at least three people offered to help me out to my car. (No, but thanks.) I could get used to this early morning royal treatment. The next time I'm struck with a bout of sleeplessness, I'm heading straight to the produce section.
Today I bought all of the things my mom used to buy: the sourdough bread, the orange juice, the milk, eggs, and cheese, but I also bought corn. And lots of it, people. My little sister started making this Mexican style corn on the cob last week and we've hardly gone a day without it since. You take a fairly healthy piece of corn on the cob and then you transform it into evil decadence by slathering it in a creamy chili lime sauce and rolling it in cheese. Oh, it's bad. So bad that you're going to want it almost every day. And you just might find yourself at a grocery store at 5:30 AM snatching up dozens of ears of corn on the cob. I'll see you there.
Slather corn with dressing...
Roll in cheese...
Prepare to become seriously addicted.
Mexican Chile and Lime Corn on the Cob
Estimated Cost: $4.00 for four ears
My sister got the recipe off this gorgeous blog from her husband's cousin. Hey, it's all in the family.
4 ears corn on the cob
3 Tbs. mayo (or swap out Greek yogurt, or even melted butter)
2 Tbs. sour cream
1/4-1/2 tsp. lime zest
juice from 1/2 a lime
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powderpinch kosher salt
1/2 to 1 c. crumbled Cotija Cheese (or queso fresco) We liked parmesan, too.
Grate Cotija cheese with a fine-hole cheese grater and place on a plate.
Boil corn until tender.
Meanwhile, combine mayo, sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, chili powder, and pinch of salt.
Spread warn corn with mayo mixture, then roll corn in grated cheese. Serve with lime wedges and a sprinkle of extra chili powder.
Next Up:
Avocado and Nectarine Salad with (Leftover Chile Lime Dressing)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Mushrooms, Red Pepper, and Blue Cheese

I've got faculty meetings tonight. Classes start next week. I can't put it off any longer. Back-to-School is creeping up on me, nudging summer off the high dive and into the deep end of the swimming pool. The backpacks are already being yanked off the store shelves to make room for Halloween costumes. Is it really time to put away the popsicles and take out the pencils? When did you go back to school when you were a child? September, sometime after Labor Day, right? The apples aren't even at their peak until September; do kids these days leave their teachers an ear of corn on the cob? And yet...the weather is on my side of the argument. Yesterday it was screaming summer at 104 degrees. Ha-there's still time to get a few more of your summer favorites in before you surrender to pumpkin pie.
Like grilled steak-the ultimate summer dinner. Bonus: it makes men go wild to smell steak grilling. I think it's some cave-man throwback. All right, it makes me go a little wild too. The scent of beef on the grill is absolutely seductive. And hey-I lucked out this week. As part of my meal planning for Food on the Table (the website I love for planning menus that coincide with the weekly specials at your favorite grocery store), I printed a copy for a grilled Rib Eye steak with a mushroom, red bell pepper and blue cheese topping. People, I give it an A plus. Sheesh, I'm grading food now. Maybe it really is time to get back to school.
Money Saving Tips: You could use whatever steak for grilling your grocery store has on sale this week-strip steak, flatirons, flank, etc. Grill up some extra steak to use in a salad tomorrow night. The toppings would also be nice over chicken, pork, or even fish. If you can't get blue cheese on sale, swap it out for feta or even parmesan. You only need about an ounce, so a little goes a very long way.
Grilled Rib Eyesteaks with Mushrooms, Red Bell Pepper and Blue Cheese
For Four Servings: $12.00-but get your steaks on sale for sure!
1 lb rib eye steaks, or any other steaks for grilling
1 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 small red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ounce blue cheese
Preheat a grill for medium hot cooking. Season the steak on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill steak to desired doneness, about four minutes per side for medium. Let rest for five minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender. Stir in mustard, brown sugar, and Worcestershire. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide steaks among four plates. Top with vegetables and sprinkle with blue cheese and serve.
Next Up: Chile and Lime Corn on the Cob

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blushing Chicken-not a recipe, that's me.

Do you like to hear your voice on the answering machine?
Then I have a hunch you won't want to watch yourself on TV. I can't watch.
But you can watch, if you want to, by clicking here.
No pressure. I think I will make some more spice rubbed chicken tonight for the busy week ahead.
Thank you all for being such dear reader friends. I'm overwhelmed by your kind comments. I'm going to go hide in the closet and blush for a few hours. I'll be back to share more recipes when my face isn't red anymore.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Today on Studio 5, Utah

If you're in Utah this morning, tune into Studio 5 at 11 AM. I will be there making this... It is live. I might spill something. Or get something in my teeth.
I did not pack well for this trip. I forgot my black shoes. Maybe no one will see my yellow shoes behind the counter? I also forgot pajamas. (I had to wear my sister's Christmas flannel nightgown last night. In August. Awesome.) And I forgot... what is the nice way to say it? my underclothing. I can borrow from my little sister, but she was built for speed and I am built for comfort. Oh, don't ask. But I remembered the chicken! the brown sugar! the spices! See you at eleven.
PS For those of you not in Utah, I will post a link later. Unless I spill something or get something in my teeth.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Refrigerator Dill Pickles and Odds and Ends

The kids around here went back to school today, but you can't make me start. No, sir. I need to feel the Fall-is-Coming-cool breeze before I begin homeschooling. (Not that we really quit during the summer-but sh!-don't tell the charges.) Fall is still many ice cream cones and days by the pool away. And what about summertime dill pickles? You need to make them while you can eat them with a grilled cheeseburger on the patio. One of my loyal readers requested that I kindly repost the recipe. They're so easy to make, even a seven year old can do it. Here's proof-this is my West making pickles on youtube. (Warning-it lasts seven minutes, so you may not want to watch unless you are struck by insomnia or you are eleven months pregnant, craving pickles, and relegated to bed rest. Or just because you feel like it.) Here's the link.


In other news, I'm still gushing about Food on the Table. (Hopefully there'll be stores in every neck of the woods, across the nation soon so that we can all gush together.) It's so fantastic to select sale items from my grocery store and have recipes and grocery lists generated for me. Look what's on my menu this week, thanks to Food on the Table.Here's my grocery list. And this is how much I spent for my entire week's worth of groceries: $53.49! I didn't just buy food for my recipes. I bought the usual stuff too, like cereal, milk, yogurt, orange juice, ice cream, baking staples and lunch foods. I had some produce in the garden and some staples on hand-but honestly, I'd say I saved an absolute bundle. I'm hopeful it will be a useful tool for all of my readers! Give it a try. Oh and one more thing-have you bought any Push Up popsicles this summer? (And in case you're wondering-no he doesn't brush his hair in the summer. Unless it's Sunday. And even then, not so much.) This is West's winning design on the package! You can't see it too well in the picture, but it's a little robot all made from Push Up popsicles. Oh wait-here's a better picture. Come by and have one at our house. They're all the rage with the whippersnappers that don't go back to school in August. Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Estimated cost: $5.00
Notes: The price will vary depending on the cost of your local cucumbers, but it's still going to be lots cheaper than purchasing pickles.
about 10 Kirby cucumbers, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
fresh dill, about 10 sprigs
6 cups water
2 cups vinegar
1/4 cup salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon black pepperLayer cucumbers, onion, and garlic in clean glass bottles. In a medium saucepan, boil water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Let cool for five minutes. Pour over cucumbers in jars to cover and refrigerate. (If you run out of liquid, just add equal parts water and vinegar.) Cucumbers will be best after one week-but I can never wait that long. Good luck!
Coming Soon...(In no particular order, or as the mood strikes)

Mexican Grilled Corn, Chicken Fettucini Alfredo, Blueberry-Walnut-Maple Granola, Blue Cheese Rib Eye Steaks, Tomatillo Guacamole

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cubed Steak Parmesan from Food on the Table

How was your weekend, everybody? We made it through a double ear infection, a case of the flu, a five mile run, a homemade picnic table (my Quiet Man can build), a job offer, and a party for 16. Hello-world, we're home from vacation!
But now it's Monday, and in just a few hours every person under my humble roof will be asking me what is for dinner. (A dangerous question on a Monday-don't they ever learn?) Aha-I've got a new weapon in my dinnertime arsenal! A couple of posts ago, I wrote about a great website called Food on the Table. It's such a great shortcut for planning meals, saving money and menu planning. Food on the Table organizes store specials for you and offers you customized recipes that highlight sale items and your personal cravings. I may not always follow the recipes exactly-I'm kind of a shoot from the hip kind of gal, but I love having some ideas generated that correspond with the weekly specials. (I'm just going to tell the kids to long on themselves and tell me what's for dinner!)
This week, Food on the Table told me that my grocery store had cube steak on sale. I probably would have thrown it on the grill like I usually do, but Food On the Table recommended a recipe for Cubed Steak Parmesan. Yum! I've had chicken parmesan and eggplant parmesan, but I've never had cubed steak parmesan. It was soooo yummy- a bit like a cross between a meatball and chicken parmesan. Coat the meat in egg and dip it in parmesan & breadcrumbs (the actual recipe used crushed saltine crackers), then brown it in a skillet. Finish it off in the oven and pour over some red sauce (I made a homemade tomato an basil) and a smattering of mozzarella and parmesan.
It was absolutely fantastic with a swirl of pasta and bit of fresh, green salad. And best of all? The pasta, parmesan, mozzarella, and steak were all on sale, so I made about 8 servings for around 10 bucks. What's for dinner tonight at your house?

Up Next:

Chicken Fettucini Alfredo

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Essence of Summer Sandwiches

Post Edit: I made one of these for my little sister Heidi-and she says it's her new favorite food in the world. How's that for an endorsement? When it is hot and the days are long....
When it is hot and the days are long and the kids are bored and sweaty....
When it is hot and the days are long and the kids are bored and sweaty, and the air is so heavy that even my brain is working on slow motion.....I don't feel much like cooking.
Except I always want this...
And this, too.
It's easy-it's got to be or I wouldn't make it right now.
It's delicious-it's got to be or I wouldn't make it right now.
It's fast-it's got to be or I wouldn't make it right now.
It's cheap (about $5 for the whole thing; cheaper if you've got a garden)-or I wouldn't make it ever. (Well, maybe once in a while.)
You should make it too, since it tastes like the long, hot summer. (In the best kind of way.)
Make some basil mayonnaise by chopping up handfulls of fresh basil and combining it with mayo (or Greek yogurt) and minced garlic. Spread it on wheat French bread.
Top it with sliced garden tomatoes, mozzarella (fresh-if it's on sale), and baby greens. (Add a little ham if you have those kind of people around who don't believe that it can be dinner without it. I married one of those people, but he hasn't suffered. Much.) Put it on a plate (paper, please!) and go sit on the patio. When you get hot, come back in and make another sandwich. The end. Next Up:
Cubed Steak Parmesan from Food on the Table