Tag Archives: recipes

And Now For Something Different: Adventures in the Kitchen

I am not a cook. I’m the daughter of a cook. And a baker. I grew up in a restaurant. But I’ve not inherited the genes that make one skillful at knowing what spices to combine with what bases.

I’m the one who tried to make her own coconut rice and had it described as “palatable.”

I tried to make a chocolate strawberry tart and the hubs needed a butcher knife to cut it.

Recently, I set a potholder on FIRE! 😀

And so, in our household, it is my partner, Joe, who does the cooking. And I remain ever grateful. But we’ve challenged ourselves to do things a little differently in our partnership and I’ve started making one meal a week with the goals of being health conscious and tasty.

Like a good little wi-fi (my husband’s nickname for me given my love of social media), I trolled pinterest for some recipes that looked good, easy to make, and were healthy. That means I was steering clear of recipes with a lot of dairy, red meat, or carbs. Here’s what the past 2 months have brought about.

*Note: All photographs are my own. I thought you should see what the food looked like when an amateur attempts to pinterest at home. Bon appetit! 

The Contenders

Buddha Bowls

Featuring the 30 Best Buddha Bowls, Yummy Mummy Kitchen included a winter bowl with curried chickpeas that I adapted at the end (scroll to the bottom of her post). I made the chickpeas as she described, then played around with my own vegetable options. I sautéed rainbow carrots and brussel sprouts in olive oil, ginger, and cumin until tender. And I added marinated beets and a thai cocount curry hummus which I purchased from my co-op to the top of the bowl. Everything was dumped on a bed of spinach. It’s a nice mix of sweet, spicy, creamy and tangy.

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White Bean and Avocado Burritos

I am not the best burrito roller, but halfway through I got the hang of it! This dish was really filling and nice for leftovers. Our favorite part was the cilantro lime sauce. Bonus, the recipe from Ceara’s Kitchen is also vegan, so if you’re looking for some meat-free meal options, this one’s good.

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Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

Alright, so pancakes aren’t exactly at the top of the health food menu, but it was the weekend and I wanted to do something special. Plus we’d received super yummy Canadian maple syrup from my brother’s family as a thank you for dog sitting so pancakes were really the only option.

This recipe from The View From Great Island is a very delicious lemony treat and goes great with fresh blueberries and turkey bacon on the side.

*Notice my absolute lack of skill in pancake flipping. I made Lemon Poppyseed Pan-shmooshes. 

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Chicken Tikka Masala

When the chef preparing this dish says she eats chicken tikka masala multiple times a week, you know you can trust the recipe to be pretty good. Found on Savory Tooth, this chicken tikka masala recipe was indeed, tasty.

This recipe requires an Indian spice blend called garam masala, which for those of you who live in a smaller city, could be hard to find. You can buy it online, but I was lucky enough to find it in the bulk aisle of my co-op and prepare my own baggie full of the spice. Buy extra, cause the next recipe calls for it too!

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Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

I have absolutely no idea why this recipe is called Butter Chicken when there is, in fact, no butter in it. But for folks who like spice, then this dinner from Damn Delicious is the ticket. It’s extra spicy if you pair it, as I did, with Fooduzzi’s recipe for Sriracha Almond Butter Roasted Brussel SproutsZing! 

If you’re trying to cut out excess carbs too, you can put the chicken over a bed of chopped spinach instead of rice like we did, and sprinkle with cilantro.

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The Winning Favorites

The two best recipes, as favored by the hubs and I, were…

Crock Pot Thai Chicken Soup

From The Endless Meal, this recipe for thai chicken soup, which simmers in a crockpot for eight hours was DELECTABLE! Red curry paste mixed with chicken stock and coconut milk makes up the broth. Add chicken, plus whatever vegetables you want, and rice vermicelli noodles – which cook in 2 minutes! For veggies this time, I used red pepper, onion, mushrooms, and tomatoes. So savory and even the leftovers are delicious.

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Roasted Chicken With Vegetables

And the other hit was Roasted Chicken with Vegetables from The Cookie Writer. Another easy one pan meal – hooray! The cook behind this recipe saved time by buying chopped veggies from the grocery store, but I did my own chopping with what we had on hand already. I substituted chicken breasts for the bone in chicken, since we had 3 frozen chicken breasts to use up. And the veggies I cut up were cauliflower, green pepper, and baby carrots. My hubs loved the paprika and basil spice blend.

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There you have my adventures in the kitchen. It’s not going too bad!
Minus, you know, that ONE potholder. 😛

What are the recipes you love and return to?
See any on this list you might try? 

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Guilty Pleasures: Turkey Curry Wraps, a No Fuss Recipe

Are you forever on the hunt for quick, easy, and healthy recipes?  I know I am.  As a girl who works 50+ hours a week, easy, yet tasty, meals are everything!

I’m a big fan of the magazine Simple and Delicious – that’s basically my lifestyle!  Here’s one I recently tried and enjoyed.  Could be a new guilty pleasure lunch!  Mmmm.

Turkey Curry Wraps

(sent in from Lisa Renshaw, Kansas City, MO – Thanks Lisa!)

Turkey Curry Wrap1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. orange juice

1 tsp. grated orange peel

3/4 tsp. curry powder

4 whole wheat tortillas (8 in.), room temperature

2 cups finely shredded cabbage

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained

2/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 lb. thinly sliced deli turkey

Combine the mayonnaise, orange juice, peel and curry; spread over tortillas.  Top with cabbage, onion, oranges, cranberries and turkey.  Roll up.

Here’s the unrolled version before the turkey is on:

Turkey Curry Wrap

Add some chips and peach salsa as a side, presto!

You’ve got an easy, homemade, delectable lunch!

Turkey Curry Wrap

What are your go-to easy recipes?  Are you starting to look for those lighter, spring meals yet?  Even with snow on the ground here I’m craving citrus foods!

 

Holiday Yum: Pumpkin-Curry Chicken and Blue Cheese Bread

Hey Everyone!

I know, I know, I’ve been completely MIA in the blogosphere this season!

Forgive me.  I work in retail.  You won’t see me in full swing until January.

However, doesn’t mean I can’t play along with…

art by Ellen M. Gregg

See the Full Holiday Yum Schedule – Tasty Treats You Won’t Want to Miss!

 

  • On November 17th, Jenny Hansen kicked off the hop with her Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Meal.  There are lots of great tips for folks who need to eat GF, including some sneaky foods to watch out for!
  • On November 19th, I shared the salty-sweet, super-easy Spiced Pecans appetizer.
  • Ellen M. Gregg has us all drooling with The Chocolatiest Chocolate Cake – Evah on Monday, November 26th.
  • Jenny Hansen introduces us to her luscious Almond Roca, famed of song and story, on Wednesday, November 28th.
  • Estee Lavitt shares her mouth-watering Baked Latkes on December 2nd, just in time for Chanukah!
  • Natalie Hartford starts us off on a cookie binge with her fabulous French Lace Cookies on December 5th.  Mais Oui.
  • I’ll be back on Dec 10th with a Christmas cookie staple that’s yummy and versatile – butter spritz cookies.
  • And if those last two posts aren’t enough “cookie” for you, Ellen M. Gregg will also be making her Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Sugar Cookies, along with Bulldog Punch, on December 14th.
  • Natalie Hartford continues the yummy sweets with her favorite cheesecake recipe on December 17th.
  • Jenny Hansen teaches us not to fear candy-making with her super-easy, super-yummy Holly Candy recipe on December 19th.
  • Jess Witkins is still plotting and planning, so we will either be treated to a comfort food or appetizer recipe on December 23rd.
  • On December 26th, I’ll be posting about my super-easy beef rib-eye roast with currant jelly brown gravy that I make every year for Christmas dinner.  Hope my holiday guests don’t mind me taking more pics of the food than of them, LOL.
  • And, finally, to help us ring in the New Year, Natalie Hartford will share some festive and delicious Mocktail recipes on December 28th!

On With the Food!!!

Today, I’m sharing a comfort food dish that I tried this year and loved!  And working in retail, I’m all about the little comforts when I get home!

Here’s what my roommates said about the meal:

If you wanted to make this again, that’d be alright.

and

This is f#$@ing good!

But don’t take their word for it!  Try it yourself!

Pumpkin Curry Chicken

Found in Simple and Delicious Magazine, Contributed by Aysha Schurman from Ammon, Idaho

2 cups uncooked jasmine rice

1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

4 tsp. curry powder, divided

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup apple butter

1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder

1/3 cup chopped cashews, toasted

Minced fresh parsley

Cook rice according to package directions.  Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with 1 tsp. curry powder and pepper.  Heat oil in a large skillet; saute chicken for 5-6 minutes or until no longer   pink.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.

Curry Chicken

Stir in pumpkin, broth, raisins, apple butter, five-spice powder and remaining curry powder.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.

Stir cashews into rice and serve with chicken mixture.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Pumpkin Curry Chicken

Blue Cheese Herb Bread

Found in Simple and Delicious Magazine, Contributed by Janet Allen from Sarasota, Florida

1 tube (12 oz.) refrigerated flaky buttermilk biscuits

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

2 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese

1 Tbsp. dried minced onion

2 tsp. dried minced parsley flakes

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp. dried tarragon

1 tsp. minced chives

1/2 tsp. celery seed

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Separate biscuits; cut each into quarters.  Arrange into an 11 inch long loaf on a greased baking sheet.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; brush over loaf.

Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Blue Cheese Herb Bread

Voila!  Gourmet comfort food without all the fuss!

Pumpkin Curry Chicken and Blue Cheese Bread

Cheers to you and yours this holiday season!  May each of you celebrate with all those you love, and take a little comfort in some homemade treats!

ROWmodels: The Lessons Learned From You

Hello ROWers and Readers!  It’s December 5th and this round of ROW80 is wrapping up (pun intended) this holiday season!  And I am sooo impressed with the hard work you all have done!

I think there are several of you deserving of a round of applause, so let me introduce this week’s…

ROWmodels!

Kat Morrisey had me giggling with delight at her very upbeat post about completing NaNoWriMo – I Didn’t Win the Lottery, But I Did Something Better!  That girl is a dancing fiend now that she’s finished her novel draft!  And she’s inspired me to create some new goals for myself this ROW round.  Thanks, Kat!

Nicole Nally is another NaNo winner!  She completed her novel draft and is anticipating the edit process.  I’m excited for her and the thrill of completing such a powerful word goal!  Go rock those edits and keep us posted, girl!

I hope all of you have come to know Ryan King because he has been a fabulous ROW Sponsor!  Seriously!  This guy has been leaving many comments of support and I know how much a kind comment means to me on my posts, and Ryan leaves aplenty!  Kudos to you, Sir, on your successes with writing projects and weight maintenance during the holiday season.  I am envious.

Ruth Nestvold’s post about her plights and processes as an indie author is post you CANNOT miss!  She’s got some interesting info out there about our industry, what she’s tried, what’s she trying, and shares the successes she’s achieved along the journey.  I found this post particularly interesting and really appreciated her sharing.  Thank you, Ruth!

My ROW Goals this week:

Inspired by many of you, but knowing I’m COMPLETELY strapped for time, I’m making my end goals very manageable.  I hope.

  1. Clean my desk.  Find the wood underneath it.
  2. Clean my room.  Find the carpet underneath it.  🙂
  3. Finish reading The Language of Flowers, On Writing, Football Sweetheart, and Geek Love this month.
  4. Journal at least twice a week.

A Couple Announcements:

Long overdue is the announcement of the comment/twitter winner of a free copy of Come Sunrise, reggae album by TUGG.  Thanks to all who left comments and tweeted for my musical guests !

The winner is Jenny Hansen!!!

*****

And it’s another edition of the Holiday Yum blog fest today featuring Natalie Hartford’s French Lace Cookies!  What are you waiting for?!

Have You Checked Out Holiday Yum Yet?

art by Ellen M. Gregg

art by Ellen M. Gregg

It’s the Holiday Yum Blog Fest!

Looking for the perfect recipe to share at a family dinner?  A dish to pass at the next work potluck?  Well check this out and stay tuned for much much more!  Many of your favorite bloggers are sharing their best holiday recipes with you in this very tasty blog hop!

So Get Ready to Savor the Flavor!

  • On November 17th, Jenny Hansen kicked off the hop with her Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Meal.  There are lots of great tips for folks who need to eat GF, including some sneaky foods to watch out for!
  • On November 19th, I shared the salty-sweet, super-easy Spiced Pecans appetizer.
  • Ellen M. Gregg has us all drooling with The Chocolatiest Chocolate Cake – Evah on Monday, November 26th.
  • Jenny Hansen introduces us to her luscious Almond Roca, famed of song and story, on Wednesday, November 28th.
  • Estee Lavitt shares her mouth-watering Baked Latkes on December 2nd, just in time for Chanukah!

For the full Holiday Yum schedule check out the tab at the top of the blog!

And from all of us to you and yours, have a very Happy Holiday Season!

Best Dressed: A Guilty Pleasure Review

I have an addiction.  To the Oscars.  Every February when the red carpet rolls around, I get over the top urges to cook gourmet appetizers involving olive oil and fine cheeses.  I demand suggest to all my friends that they dress up and drink wine with me!  And for the four hours of awards and 2 hours of pre-show, I make them deal with my company!

It is an extreme guilty pleasure of mine to ooh and aah over the dresses worn at the Academy Awards.  So for this Guilty Pleasure Friday, allow me to REALLY INDULGE and share my favorite, and not-so-favorite, looks of the evening as well as provide the decadent recipes you all asked for in my previous Oscar post, A Red Carpet Affair!

For Outstanding Achievement in Evening Wear, the Nominees Are:

Penelope Cruz

Stunning, Penelope; I love it!  Gorgeous and unique color for the evening.  Classic hair and Hollywood glamor!

Sandra Bullock

While Sandra appeared on some blogger’s Worst Dressed list, I wholeheartedly disagree!  I adored the unique silhouette of her gown, loved the beading at the waist, and thought she looked sleek and beautiful.

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams, this year’s Natalie Portman!  She looked darling and youthfully vibrant in this coral gown, both fun in silhouette and super girly.

Kristen Wiig

Her first big Red Carpet event, and Kristen nailed it!  Gorgeous gown with subtle texture on the bodice and frilly femme fatale in the skirt.  A knockout look if you ask me!

Ellie Kemper

While Ellie’s bangs are an extreme ‘do, I LOVE her gown.  A simple shape is made bold and fiery with these red and gold sequins.  Hot, hot, HOT!

Glenn Close

Best Actress Nominee, Glenn Close, looking so chic and pardon my french, DAMN FINE in this pleated bodice and form fitting gown.  I love that she topped it with a suit jacket!  She looked radiant!

The Oscar for Outstanding Achievement in Evening Wear Goes to:

Viola Davis

I’m completely biased towards anyone who wears a bold color at the Oscars, and Viola looked smashing!  I adore the emerald green gown with beading in the bodice and mermaid-like pleats in the skirt.  To accessorize, she even wore emerald earrings.  Voila, Viola!

My Nominees for Poor Achievement in Evening Wear Are:

Rose Byrne

I am a fan of Rose Byrne’s acting, but this look is too harsh for me.  Everything about it is too blunt.  There’s no whimsy at all.  The hair is too sharp, the gown too garbage bag saggy, and the shoes look like geisha shoes to the point where I’m afraid she’s going to tip over.

Angelina Jolie

Tell me this doesn’t remind you of the scene in The Little Mermaid where Ariel makes a dress out of ship sails and rope, and I’ll give it another try.  I think my bigger issue is poor Angelina’s body.  Her arms and legs are much too thin for my liking.  She looks ill.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Not bad, but not great either.  A little lackluster for such a graceful face and frame as Gwyneth.  I like the cuff bracelet, but that’s about it.

And the Award for Poorest Achievement in Evening Wear Goes to:

Melissa Leo

Last year, she won an Oscar!  Now look at her!  It’s like someone bedazzled her pajamas!  I hate the top!  It isn’t flattering, and that bow just doesn’t go.  The shoes are about all Leo’s got going for her.

And now for the sharing of food!  Cause you can’t talk fashion on an empty stomach!

Fresh Mozzarella with Toasted Garlic and Capers, Garnished with Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic and Mint

Fresh Mozzarella with Toasted Garlic and Capers (from Bon Appetit Magazine)

  • 12 oz fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 t dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 T minced fresh oregano
  • 1/4 t coarse salt
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 2 T capers, chopped

Overlap cheese slices on medium platter.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in small skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and crushed pepper and stir just until garlic begins to change color, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in oregano, salt, and pepper.  Cool.  Stir in capers and remaining 4 tablespoons oil.  Spoon over cheese slices.

Slow-Baked Tomatoes with Garlic and Mint (from Better Homes and Gardens magazines)

  • 1 1/2 lb cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled, split lengthwise, and green shoot removed
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, trimmed
  • 1 to 2 t coarse salt
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Wash and drain tomatoes well.  Pat dry with paper towels.  In a nonreactive 2 quart baking dish, place tomatoes in a single layer.  Pour on olive oil so they are well coated and there is a thin layer of oil on bottom of dish.  Toss in garlic, mint, salt, and pepper.  Bake uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes or until skins split and soften but tomatoes still retain their shape.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.  Spoon or mash over slices of bread or serve with warm goat cheese.

Godfather Crostini

Godfather Crostini (from Simple and Delicious magazine)

  • 1 loaf (8 oz) French bread, cut into 16 slices
  • 2 T plus 1 t olive oil, divided
  • 8 bacon strips, halved
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 T minced chives
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • 16 oil packed sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto
  • 2 T shredded parmesan cheese

Brush bread slices with 2 T oil and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 400° F for 5-6 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp in a large skillet.  Remove to paper towels to drain.  Combine mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice and remaining oil in a small bowl; spread over toast.  Top each with a basil leaf, tomato, pesto and a piece of bacon.  Sprinkle with cheese.

There you have it!  My picks for what to wear to the Oscars, as well as what NOT TO!  And some delightfully easy and delectably tasty appetizers you can serve at your next guilty pleasure soiree!

What have you been indulging in lately?

A Red Carpet Affair

(source: filmofilia.com)

The Paaaaaaaaaaarty Has Arriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiived! 

The entirety of Sunday was spent prepping sauces and chopping party food, assembling schwag bags, and getting my costume ready.

I’m thrilled for the winners of the 84th Academy Awards, all of whom seemed more than grateful in their acceptance speeches and looked just lovely.

The winner for Best Achievement in Directing went to The Artist’s Michel Hazanavicius.  Likewise, Best Actor went to Jean Dujardin from The Artist.  My favorite awards of the evening went to Best Supporting Actor, 82 year Christopher Plummer for Beginners, gaining her 3rd Oscar and 17th nomination, Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady won Best Actress, and very exciting was the win of Best Supporting Actress, Octavia Spencer for her role in The Help!  And the finale of awards, Best Picture, went to The Artist.

Also exciting was the return of 9-time Oscar host, Billy Crystal!  Yay!

I think we all enjoyed THIS... (source: latimes.com)

More than THIS! (source: posh24.com)

Now, on to the party!  A party at my place is primarily about THE FOOD! The menu included:

  • Sugar Snap Pea Salad
  • Godfather Crostinis
  • Salmon Cakes and Dill Sauce
  • Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Mint
  • Herb Buttered Mushrooms
  • Gladiator Chicken Skewers
  • Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos
  • Fresh Mozzarella with Toasted Garlic and Capers
  • Tofu Dill Fondue
  • Sicilian Herb Dib and Assorted Cheeses
  • Chocolate and Butterscotch Pudding Parfaits
  • Red Carpet Red Velvet Cake

Our signature drink to kick off the red carpet interviews was a Peach Bellini, followed by lots and lots of red wine!  I know right, are your mouths watering?  They should be!  This was possibly the best coordinated menu and most savory of foods my co-hostess and best friend, Cat and I have ever had!

Co-hostesses of the Mostesses: Marilyn Monroe and Catherine

Godfather Crostinis

Salmon Cakes

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos, Grilled Asparagus, and Gladiator Chicken Skewers

Mozzarella with Toasted Garlic and Capers, garnished with a few Slow Roasted Tomatoes

An Oscar Worthy Pudding Parfait!

Guests filled out their ballot sheets ahead and turned in their pens.  No cheating allowed!  Markers were handed out, and we waited during the awards.  My winning guest had 12 correct answers and won the first place prize of a Movie Theater Pass for Two, a bottle of Francis Coppola Chardonnay, a Box of Lindor Truffels, and a bottle of Chanel Chance perfume!

My blog contest winner from last Tuesday’s post, guessed 2 out of 4 main categories correct and will be receiving an Amazon Gift Card plus Oscar worthy prizes such as movies, recipes, and more movie fun!  And the Oscar for best blogger goes to…Amanda Rudd!

Thanks for tuning in to the Oscar’s with me!  Join me on Friday for my Guilty Pleasure rundown of Best Dressed!

Friends and Fruit Salad

This weekend flew by, didn’t it?  I thought so.  In between work and writing, I had one of my awesome friends, and fellow English Major, in town from Tennessee for a few days.  Her name is Karla, and it was so fun to see her and share some adventures together again.  We hit up our usual, the Starlite Lounge, a martini bar that rests above a cajun restaurant.  Nothing like raspberry cosmos and jerk chicken nachos to remind you it’s summer.

Karla and I with our college diplomas 🙂

La Crosse also hosted Rockin’ the Docks on Saturday, an outdoor music fest on the edge of the Mississippi River.  My boyfriend’s band, T.U.G.G. performed and we went down to support (and dance and hang out).

There was a trip to the local Rivoli Theater, an old opera house turned movie theater that plays films that just left the main theater for a discounted price.  I love the Riv!  We all went to see Bridesmaids, which I recommend as a must to go see with your girlfriends.  It’s hilarious!  It’s like The Hangover for women.

Our weekend ended with a potluck/wine tasting at my place where we watched Red Riding Hood.  My only advice is proceed with caution when watching that film.  It was entertaining, because we were drinking, but the movie seems to grasp at several previous films and blend them all together so you don’t quite know what film you’re watching.  It’s a little bit Twilight meets A Knight’s Tale meets Van Helsing  meets The Village meets an eclectic cast of Sci-fi TV stars.  It’s got a lot going on.

What I wanted to share with you is the dish of honor.  At Karla’s request, I made her favorite Pina Colada Fruit Salad.  Oh, it’s divine!

  Pina Colada Fruit Salad from Carol Farnsworth, Greenwood, IN, Simple and Delicious Magazine

Prep/Total Time: 15 minutes     Yield:  9 servings

1-1/2 cups green grapes

1-1/2 cups red grapes

1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1-1/2 cups halved strawberries

1 can (8 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1 can (10 oz.) frozen non-alcoholic pina colada mix, thawed

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup pineapple-orange juice

1/8 tsp almond extract

1/8 tsp coconut extract

In a serving bowl, combine the first six ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk the pina colada mix, sugar, juice, and extracts until sugar is dissolved.  Pour over fruit; toss to coat.  Chill until serving.  (Note:  I’ve made this a couple times and always have extra syrup.  Stock up on your favorite fruits so you can replenish the dish as the night goes on.)

Enjoy!  See you all on Friday for another edition of The Life List Club!  See what else we’re up to by visiting us on Twitter at #LifeListClub. 

Summer Salad, Herb Bread, and Author Interview

It’s summer.  And that means it’s hot, there’s lots to do, both at work,  in the garden, and general housework.  We need quick, easy meals that are light, but filling, and allow us to get back to our day, or if we’re lucky, a good book!

These recipes are from my favorite cooking magazine, Simple and Delicious, and I vouch that they’ll live up to both!

Also, I’m completely thrilled to be the feature writer interviewed over at M. E. Anders’ blog.  If you haven’t read Mindi Anders’ blog, you’re simply missing out.  She is the go to gal for all things suspenseful, with a focus on cult history and she’s writing a new series on just that.  She is much more tech saavy than myself and has fun podcasts and movie reviews, and every tuesday she features a new writer or reader in a fun interview that you can participate in too!  Please stop by Mindi’s and see her interview with me and check out her awesome blog!

Chicken and Berry Salad: From Sheri Abernathy, Lemont, Illinois

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

6 cups torn romaine

6 cups torn red leaf lettuce

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced

2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 cup chopped walnuts

Prep: 15 minutes + marinating  Grill:  10 minutes  Yield: 9 servings

In a large bowl, whisk the first six ingredients.  Pour 3/4 cup marinade into a large resealable plastic bag; add the chicken.  Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate overnight.  Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.

Drain and discard marinade.  Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 5-8 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.  Cut into strips.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuces, blueberries, strawberries, cheese, and walnuts.  Add reserved marinade; toss to coat.  Top with sliced chicken.

Blue Cheese Herb Loaf: From Janet Allen, Sarasota, Florida

1 tube (12 oz.) refrigerated flaky buttermilk biscuits

2 Tbsp butter, melted

2 Tbsp crumpled blue cheese

1 Tbsp dried minced onion

2 tsp dried parsley flakes

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp dried tarragon

1 tsp minced chives

1/2 tsp celery seed

1/2 tsp dried oregano

Prep: 15 minutes  Bake: 20 minutes  Yield: 1 loaf

Separate biscuits; cut each into quarters.  Arrange into an 11-inch long loaf on a greased baking sheet.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients ; brush over loaf.

Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Summer is short.  Don’t spend it all in the kitchen!  There’s more books and blogs to read.  😉

Miss Scarlett, In the Kitchen, With the Butcher Knife

Happy 4th of July, Everyone!  It’s official:  I will never bake again.  For those of you getting to know me, you’re well aware of my affinity towards salty food, predominately jalapeno cheetos and entire cartons of shredded parmesan.  I am a total salt fiend in my taste buds!  But on rare occasions when I flip through cook books and cooking magazines I get this domestic tug at my sweet tooth and decide to bake something.

They make it look so easy.  It’s really not fair. 

Bake 4-5 minutes until chips are melted.

*Sigh*  I don’t know what happened.

The Recipe:  Strawberry Ginger Tart by Chantal Bourbon, Montreal, Quebec 

1/4 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

1 egg white

1 Tbsp. minced fresh gingerroot

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup milk chocolate chips

Filling:

1 pkg. (8 oz) reduced-fat cream cheese

3 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

2 Tbsp. 2% milk

4 cups halved strawberries

Glaze:

1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam

1 Tbsp. crystallized ginger, finely chopped

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg white and ginger.  Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-in. tart pan.

Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Sprinkle with chips.  Bake 4-5 minutes longer or until chocolate is melted; spread over crust.  Cool on a wire rack.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar and milk until smooth; spread over chocolate.  Top with strawberries.  In a small microwave safe bowl, microwave jam in 10 second intervals until melted; brush over strawberries.  Sprinkle with ginger.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

The Catastrophe in the Kitchen:

The tart crust went fine.  Sure it was messy, but I got that done.  I baked it for it’s nice 12 minutes, and I sprinkled the chocolate chips on top and waited for 5 additional minutes for them to melt.  THEY NEVER MELTED!  12 minutes later!  I now was having a raging fit in the kitchen, “This is why I don’t bake!  How am I going to salvage this?  The crust is hard as a rock now, and these f***ing chips still aren’t melted!  Why do I try?  I don’t even like sweets!  I’m going to stab this tart!”

Here is where some breathing exercises would have helped, however, I was out of cream cheese.  “Oh my god, I don’t know if it’s worth a trip to the store to finish this awful project or not!  The chocolate looks like poop cause I can’t get it to spread evenly.  I’m so irritated right now!  Fine, if I’m going to the store, I’m going grocery shopping, I’m not making a special trip for this stupid tart!”

An hour later, I put the groceries away, I made the cream cheese spread, I cut the strawberries, I nuked the jam in 10 second intervals and drizzled it over the berries.

Me and My Tart, fake smiling satisfaction. I am ready to throw this tart across the room.

I am never baking again.  Enjoy these photos now, people, holiday or no holiday I’m through!  It makes me way too angry!

At least it looked pretty.  The next morning we got the tart out of the fridge for breakfast.  Using a butcher knife, my poor Joe had to use all his arm muscle to cut through the over-baked crust!  It honestly did taste good, and if jaw pain is normal after such desserts, then I guess I did a splendid job!

If any of you are considering being a guest at Che’ Witkins’ B & B, I highly recommend the gin smoothies with your tart.  Made the previous evening’s anxieties all the more delicious!

Finally, a peaceful moment. Gin smoothie, espresso coffee, stupid tart, book to read!

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