Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's what's for dinner...

Tonight we're having one of our favorites... I'm just glad my hero-of-a-hubby loves it just as much as me: Shrimp Fajitas

And I'm glad he loves ME as much as he does too!

What's for dinner at YOUR house? Please share...

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kitchen is closed!

First let me say, I would only close the kitchen under a number of scenarios...

1) If I was on vacation
2) If temps reached over 105 degrees F
3) If my Hero-of-a-Hubby took me out on a hot date
4) If I was incapable of cooking

And today I'm talking about a combination of scenario 4, which then means scenario 3!!!

About two weeks ago I got whip lash.

No, I wasn't in a car accident. But it did involve a car.

Just call me a clutz!

As I walked passed my SUV, I smacked my shoulder into the side mirror! Yes - you read that right!

I'm telling you, I've always said ... if you wanna do it right - you gotta do it yourself!

(I hear your laughter! But don't feel bad - my chiropractor laughed at me WHILE he was diagnosing the problem!)

So, along with whip lash comes a very painful pinched nerve situation. I can only describe it as a piercing pain coming from my neck, travelling along the collarbone, down my left shoulder and into my elbow and forearm. I have lost quite a bit of strength in my arm... which means I can barely even lift a glass of water! Let alone wash dishes, strain items over the sink, pull a heavy casserole pan out of the oven, etc.

So on to scenario #3! Oh darn... my hero-of-a-hubby is going to have to take me out to dinner tonight. And my chiropractor is going to have to put up with some more visits from me.

And for the visual learners out there... here's a picture I stumbled across in my google search...

If you ask me, it's radiculopathy!

And yes, in case you were wondering... this is why my Mom didn't name me "Grace".

enjoy your time in the kitchen... ('cuz I'm living vicariously through you right now!)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Garlic-Infused Olive Oil

One day I had a bright idea.

But only once.

It centered around having a very large stash of garlic-infused oil at the house at all times.

So I tried it for myself... and now I keep it on hand at all times.

It's as easy as 1 - 2 - 3 !!!

1. Garlic

2. Olive Oil

3. Heat

Over medium heat raise temperature on 1 cup of olive oil.

Add to that 5 or 6 ... or 10... cloves of crushed garlic. Allow the oil to bubble for 3-5 minutes... push the garlic around the oil a few times.

Flip the garlic over and keep bubbling for another couple of minutes.

Now that the garlic has done it's job... and has left behind a legacy to be enjoyed at a future date, remove the garlic and allow the oil to cool before putting it into your bottle of choice.

Garlic-infused olive oil is so much better than regular olive oil. But don't take my word for it... try it yourself!

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

RECIPE: Baked Chickpeas

I love chickpeas! Aka garbanzo beans. They are rich and almost buttery. And when you toss them in some of your favorite seasonings and toast them... oh wow! I could eat this bowl all by myself!

So, here's what you need...

A large bowl, olive oil, ground cumin, cayenne, onion powder, garbanz beans and kosher salt.

Oh yeah... and this too. Some paprika...

Next step: drain, rinse and COMPLETELY dry the chickpeas. (The first time I made these... I forgot to dry the chickpeas. Vital mistake. Even after toasting the chickpeas they were kinda soggy! Don't-forget-to-dry-them! Take it from me!)

Then you put everything in the large bowl and mix until every last chickpea is covered in tasty goodness!

Keep stirring! Make sure you get all the tasty goodness off the bottom of the bowl! It's all flavor! And you want to use it all up!

Spread the chickpeas out to a single layer on the lined baking sheet... and tell them they are getting ready to shine!

About 12-15 minutes into their cook time take them out and give the baking sheet a little shake. Turning over the chickpeas and breaking them up a little will help in the toasting process.

(Plus you're going to want to check them out anyway - 'cuz the house smells so good at this point!)

Back into the hot oven for a little more... and, YUP! NOW they are shining!!!

Transfer them to a few serving bowls and try not to eat all of them yourself! K?!

How soon are you going to make these?! I'm making my 2nd batch today!!!

Baked Chickpeas
Recipe adapted from Claire Robinson, 5 Ingredient Fix - Food Network

2 – 15 oz. cans garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained/dried (very important!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the oil, paprika, onion powder, cumin, cayenne and salt in a large bowl – mix until well combined. Add chickpeas; toss to coat completely. Transfer drenched chickpeas to a lined baking sheet; spreading them out in a single layer. Bake until golden and crispy, 25 to 35 minutes, shaking the tray to toss after 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the chickpeas to a few small serving bowls.

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A tip from Lori...

On cutting a cantaloupe (or is it "cantalope" or "cantelope"???)... actually this is a Tuscan Melon. But it will work just fine for this exercise. (And, I prefer these to cantaloupes, any day.)

Make sure you wash your melon before cutting into it. It grew on the ground... and you don't know what could have crawled over it (or what the crawly thing had previously crawled ON or THROUGH or OVER). Just wash it, ok?!

Then cut it in half...

Remove the seeds.

If you have a green thumb, set a couple seeds aside to dry. Who knows, maybe you'll be growing some of your own?!

Now, follow me here... it's actually rather quick...

Now, why didn't my mom teach me to cut a melon like this?! (Sorry Mom - it's more of an "expression" than anything!)

And the next few steps are even easier. Follow me...

Depending on HOW ripe the melon is, this melon should be consumed within the next 3-4 days (IF it will even last that long).

A few more details on Tuscan Melons...

- They look slightly different from cantaloupes in that they boldly wear these green bands(representing the design on a basketball). These green bands darken from light to deep green as the melon ripens.

- Tuscan melons taste a bit sweeter and overall are a little different than cantaloupes. I would say the taste is a bit deeper.

- They are a great source of Vitamins A & C

And lastly... how to tell if a melon is ripe?

1) The heft test. Pick up the melon - it should be heavy. If it feels lighter than it looks like it should weigh... it's probably a very dry fruit and won't have much flavor.

2) Follow your nose. Smell the end opposite of where it was cut off the vine. If it smells even faintly of cantaloupe, then it's ripe (or near ripe - the smell will get stronger the more ripe it gets). If the melon doesn't smell like a melon then it's probably not going to taste like a melon either.

3) Does it give? Press into the end - it should give, just ever so slightly. And stay away from a melon that has lots of bumps or wilted looking skin. It will probably be over-ripe and you will regret it! (There is nothing in this world like an over-ripe cantaloupe. Ick!)

Now... which is your favorite? Cantaloupe or the Tuscan Melon?

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

RECIPE: Berry Good Blueberry Muffins

I love blueberry season! They just beg to be eaten by the handful...

But today they're being used for some amazing muffins... some muffins you need to make soon, ASAP!

As usual when baking, I start with the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt)...

To that we add the ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg...

But first let's take a closer look at the whole nutmeg... freshly ground nutmeg is by far WAY better than nutmeg that is already ground. And the smell ... wow!

You can grind a whole nutmeg with a microplane. 3 seconds later... you're happy you did!

Next... on to the wet ingredients. Measure out the butter and sugar... and cream it up.

Get your hands on two eggs...

Beat them up a little...

Add the eggs to the creamed sugar/butter mixture...

And keep creaming... this creates such a beautiful satin-like batter.

The gentle look of the creamed mixture makes me want to use a good old-fashioned wooden spoon for the rest of this project. It's just begging for a wooden spoon... so I add the milk.

And with the wooden spoon, gently mix in the milk.

And now it's time to introduce the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture...

Starting with a small portion, fold in the dry ingredients...

Add another small portion... and keep folding...

And for the crowned glory of the morning... the beautiful and berry good blueberries!

But for one more twist on this blueberry muffin... we're going to top these with a little lemon zest. You won't really know it's there. But the flavor it leaves ... is just, um... perfect!!!

We're doing double duty with the microplane today... but just barely pulling that outer layer of the lemon off. It doesn't take much effort.

When zesting the lemon, you want to stop before you get any of the white part of the pith. That just tastes bitter. And we don't want bitter.

We just want the slight flavor from that outer layer of the skin.

After spooning the batter into the greased muffin pans, top with a light sprinkle of sugar and a teeny-tiny pinch of lemon zest.

I decided to make some muffins with only sugar and some with both sugar and lemon zest (you know, to compare).

And the ones WITH lemon zest easily top the charts as my fav!

You KNOW you have to make these for yourself! So, 'cuz I'm feeling generous today... here's the recipe! But only share these with the people you love the most!

Berry Good Blueberry Muffins
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup milk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups fresh blueberries, (frozen ok too)
2 tablespoons sugar, for topping
Zest from one lemon, for topping

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well, stir in milk. Add dry ingredients (in small batches) to creamed mixture; stir to combine. Fold in blueberries, gently.

Grease muffin cups and fill approximately ¾ full. Sprinkle tops with a little sugar and a pinch of lemon zest. Bake for about 20-22 minutes, or until the tops start to lightly brown.

Remove to cooling rack. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes for removing each muffin to continue to cool. Yield: 12-16 muffins.

enjoy your time in the kitchen...


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