Blog number two.... it might explain my current lack of enthusiasm for blog number 1

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mother's Day... continued!!

We had a great summery lunch and when women get together, you know dessert will be involved! I wanted something fun and light but I wanted it to be something that mama loved. Jaime at Burnt Toast blogged about making Turtles for her mother because it was her favorite. That's so funny because turtles are also one of my mother's favorites!! But her first favorite is key lime pie! I was off to find a recipe....

If you recall me talking about my grocery shopping mishaps in the Platinum Chef post, I'm just going to pick up where I left off -

They did not have key limes. Which made me so mad because I saw key limes at the dang Wal Mart just the week before and Publix didn't have any. Is that weird or what!? So I had to settle for a bottled key lime juice that I think may have altered the flavor of the dish. When I made the strawberry sauce, it had a medicine taste to it. The dish itself wasn't the best thing I've ever made. But I'm hoping it was the bottled key lime juice, because I don't see how you can go wrong with key lime mousse and strawberries.

The original recipe can be found on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

**pictures to come, although they look really close to the ones peabody posted (and yes that is her first name, isn't that cool!?)

Look what I made!

Jaime at Burnt Toast tagged me to blog about recipes I have made that I found on other foodie blogs.


1. List the names of 2-5 recipes you tried from other blogs. Provide a direct link to the recipe. If not available, give the blog link and let the reader search for the recipe by name.

2. Shortly describe your experience with the recipe.

3. Tag 3-5 other bloggers or the authors of the recipes you listed to post the links to the recipes they have tried from other bloggers. Note: If you are new to the blogging world and haven’t had a chance to try any recipes from your fellow foodies, just pass the tag on to someone else.

4. Notify the tagged bloggers about the tag either by leaving a comment on their blogs or by emailing them.

Here they are (in no specific order because they were all amazing and I couldn't rank them if my life depended on it) :

Chocolate Pie - Can you believe I don't even like this pie? Too much chocolate for me. I just love to make it because it is SO easy and the looks on peoples faces when they take the first bite makes me want to make it over and over again. Plus it is John Evan's favorite. Pioneer Woman get all the credit for the chocolate part, but I'm taking the credit for the cheesecake topping I created for it.

Savory Mini Muffins - I love fresh hot bread and these little bites of love did not let me down, thanks to Amber from Amber's Delectable Delights. I've made them 3 times since I found the recipe at the first of this month. The chedder dill are still my favorite of the two! But I have been running my brain trying to think of new herb/cheese mixes.

Jalapeno Poppers - Holy flippin crap! These things are the best thing I've eaten in a long time, Bradley and I made a meal out of them one Friday night. I added ranch powder to the plain cream cheese the recipe calls for, but they would be good no matter what you added to the recipe! Pioneer Woman wins another one!

Key Lime Mousse and Strawberries Parfait - These were good, but I wish I would of had access to fresh key limes! Peabody makes everything look so easy, and I have to admit I was intimidated by the recipe, but once I got started - it was a breeze!

I'm glad I was tagged to do this because it made me realize that I haven't really tried a lot of other blogger's recipes... I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. But I will make an effort to try your recipes, even if I don't blog about them :D

I tag.... The "other" Jaime, Leslie, and Celeste


Nicole @ Art and Aioli loved me enough to give me an "I love you this much" award. How sweet!!!

It is up to me to now pick ten other blogs that I love and pass the award on to them. This is going to be hard! I hope it is not just cooking blogs, because I love some people that don't post recipes.

Number 1 - My ever so sweet brother in law. I love him and I love reading his blog, so John Evan.... please have this award. His blog is located HERE

Number 2 - A good friend I met through work, Jaime. She is quite the multi tasking mama these days. With a new husband and a new marriage and there is almost a new baby here, she still finds time to scour the internet and find recipes to go home and cook after spending alllllll day in the office. She also has a great ability to create original recipes. She is located at Burnt Toast

Number 3 - Amanda is a friend I made when I got married. My husband's family and her family have apparently been life long pals. So I had no choice but to make a new friend and I'm glad I did! She is so funny and stylish! I just love her! She is located at A Day in the Life of a Bama Girl

Number 4 - Madison is another friend I made when I got married. She is Amanda's niece and new to the blogging world. Everyone loves a little traffic on their page when it is new. Plus she rocks, takes amazing pictures and I love her hair! She is located at Fun Sized

Number 5 - Amber from Amber's Delectable Delights. She is one of the reasons I bought a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, her bread recipes make me DROOL! And, believe it or not, I still haven't made bread with my stand mixer. But I plan on it and the first one I'm going to make is her Garlic Herb Swirl Bread

Number 6 - Annie from Annie's Eats also has great bread recipes I want to try out. She is also pregnant and I just recently found out that she has lived through Hodgkin’s lymphoma. All that said, I think she is awesome and has great recipes that I plan on trying my hand at.

Number 7 - Lori from The Recipe Girl is author of a blog I just recently became fond of. But with her scrumptious sounding recipes and mouthwatering photos, I know she will become a new must have in my daily blog browsing.

Number 8 - Paige from the Webb family! I love my Webb's and am so glad I was welcomed into the family with open arms. Her blog is a hoot to read and she has even posted about a belated Thanksgiving feast she put together for friends and family. She can be found at Days of Our Uninteresting Lives

Number 9 - Cynthia at Tastes Like Home is a true southern cook! I love to read about her southern dishes and can't wait to see if I can make them!

Number 10 - Danielle at Make No Little Meals. Her blog looks like something out of Food and Wine. The pictures, the recipes, the descriptions..... oh my gosh! This girl is something else!!!

Everyone remember - I LOVE YOU!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Platinum Chef, Challenge 7.... Mother's Day Edition

I actually dubbed it mother's day edition because the recipe I came up with that used the five ingredients I considered to be "girly" and even though my husband would of probably eaten it..... it was more fun to have a girls luncheon.

Ok - down to business....

Platinum Chef was started by Cara @ Cara's Cravings. It is a spin off from the Food Network show "Iron Chef" where the chefs are given one secret ingredient and have to come up with multiple dishes all featuring that one ingredient.... and they only have one hour. You try making dessert out of shrimp!!! Or whatever the secret ingredient is that day. Cara made it a little easier for us bloggers. She set out 5 ingredients and gave a couple of weeks for everyone who wanted to play, perfect their dish(es) and submit it (them). The most recent winner is Danielle @ Make No Little Meals. That means that she gets a turn to host the event which entails picking the ingredients, having the dishes submitted to her and then the most important part, selecting the winner.

Her five ingredients were -

Bok Choy

Side note - I had a bad shopping experience that thankfully didn't affect my meal too much. My mint was a little wilty, I wanted really small shrimp and all they had was 21/30 count (which ended up being perfect), the mango wasn't fully ripe on one side and the bean sprouts had turned into a wormy mush. I could salvage the mint and mango but the bean sprouts were trash.

My first thought when reading the ingredients was "lamb" because mint and lamb go together so well. But I had never cooked lamb and it is rather expensive to buy around here. So I went back to the drawing board. Since the bok choy is a popular Chinese vegetable and panko is a Japanese bread flake, I chose an Asian theme. But.... that just helped me with the theme. I needed an actual dish. After much thought, I decided to go the summery route and make a salad.

I present to you, my Platinum Chef submission:

Bok Choy Salad with Mango Mint Dressing and Shrimp "Croutons"

Let's start with the dressing. Which by the way I think would be excellent to dip chicken fingers in. It was so summery and light and sweet but with a tiny kick of spice. I honestly was not expecting it to be as great as it was.

the ingredients are -

1 cup plain yogurt
juice and flesh of one mango
1 oz of mint leaves (about half a cup)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sweet hot mustard

Dump everything into a blender and use the "liquefy" button to turn it into a dressing. I did this the night before and let all the flavors party in the fridge.

See how delicious this dressing looks!!!

For the shrimp, I used a store bought Sesame Ginger marinade and let them soak overnight (peels and tails removed). I must say that I am not too fond of Asian marinades that contain mandarin orange, and actually did not know this one even contained it until I got home. I was a little apprehensive to use it, but after I tasted it, I must say this is my new favorite marinade for shrimp. It really compliments the taste of shrimp!

To turn the shrimp into croutons, I toasted one teaspoon of sesame seeds.

I combined the toasted sesame seeds with 1/2 cup panko, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder and 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper.

From there, take the shrimp straight out of the marinade and dredge them in the panko mixture. Really press it into the shrimp.

Drop them one by one into hot vegetable oil and fry for about 30 seconds each. It really does not take long at all to fry shrimp! You don't want them to be overcooked and chewy.

Now the fun part - putting it all together!!! I plated up one head of chopped bok choy leaves, which perfectly served two people.

Topped that with fun asian inspired ingredients such as - chopped water chestnuts, diced red, green and yellow bell peppers, chopped carrots, enoki mushrooms, and crunchy rice noodles.

And for the finishing touch on my Platinum Chef submission, I spooned the dressing onto the salad and topped with the shrimp croutons. It looked amazing and the taste was equally amazing!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Infusing Oil

I don't know why I wanted to do this, but I'm sure it was so I could blog about it! ha! It was really easy and very versatile! You can use whatever ingredients you want. I chose garlic, lemon and rosemary - I intend on using it with seafood.

Start with a very pretty bottle - be certain to make sure all the genies are out of it. I would hate to drown them with olive oil!!

Set out all your ingredients. I used a higher priced oil that I normally wouldn't buy, just so it would have a better taste. Because, let's face it, a great tasting olive oil is sheer bliss.

Cut 3 - 4 thin slices off the lemon, fold them and push them into the bottle. Bruise the rosemary before putting it into the bottle. De-paper and smash 3 - 4 garlic cloves and put them into the bottle. Shake it all around and get the inside of the bottle nice and wet.

Pour the oil into the bottle, make sure you leave enough room for the cork!

Set it in a dimly lit place and wait at least two weeks before you use it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Well, Like I Promised....

Here is my big announcement. Let me put a disclaimer in front of it -

If you are here for just recipes, you probably won't care. But I have a lot of family that reads this as a way to keep a check on me, so this is mostly for them. However I will take a "congrats" from anyone! :) I'm just so stinkin' excited!!

I am no longer going to be sitting behind a desk at my office. I am now a Public Relations employee and will be in charge of bringing back some of our customers who might have strayed away from us in St Clair County. I have been praying for this position since last summer and am so excited I do not know what to do with myself.

However, in the beginning it is going to consume most of my time. Which means I may not get to give my blog the care I usually do. But once I learn how to manage my new work load, I will get back into the kitchen. Plus I am cooking my Platinum Chef Entry this weekend for mothers day.

Just wanted to clue you in ;)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco! Cinco de Mayo!!!

I've been singing that all day, to the tune of I Dream of Jeanie.

Thank you for joining me on this awesome Cinco de Mayo! I have great news, but I can't unveil it just yet.... stay tuned. I should be able to tell you either tomorrow or Wednesday. Here, have some salsa while you wait!

Meanwhile, I would like for you all to notice how hard I have been working on my photography. I think if you go look at the beginning of my blog and then today's post you will really see a difference.

Tonight was allllll about our friends from South of the border. On this day, I like to sit and wonder...... I am here in America eating salsa and drinking coronas and singing my newly composed cinco de mayo song. On the fourth of July will there be senoritas sitting in Mexico eating french fries and drinking bud light and singing a song they made up about our Independence Day?

Another one of my favorite American - Spanish questions to ponder is, "Do they have peso trees like we have dollar trees?" Because I do love the dollar tree, although I have to be in the mood for it.

FUN FACT - my everyday dishes are from the dollar tree. Hey, scoff if you want but I love 'em!

Now let's get back to business. Tonight's meal was Mexican Hamburgers with guacamole and salsa. YUM!!

I made a Cilantro-Lime Mayo to smear on the buns. Take two nice scoops of mayo, stir in juice from half a lime and chopped cilantro. Just go by taste on the cilantro, I happen to like a lot, but if you don't then only use a little.

For the Guacamole I cubed one avocado, drizzled it with the juice from half a lime, added 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and forked in Ro*Tel salsa a little at a time until it reached the consistency I like - still a little chunky.

The Mexican Hamburgers were also easy. One pound of ground beef, 2 tbspns of the recently posted Mexican seasoning and the juice from.... you guess it, half a lime! Mix it all together and let it chill in the fridge for an hour or two. Form into 4 patties and grill.

I glazed them with a Smoky Chipotle Sauce right before they were finished grilling, so the sauce would set, instead of being runny.

1/3 cup ketchup
1 T mustard
1 T oil
1 T vinegar
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t onion powder
2 chipotle chilies, seeded and chopped
3 t adobo sauce

whisk all together and heat in a sauce pan. keep warm until ready to glaze your meat.

The finished product?? Maravilloso, como siempre!

"but I hate dill!"

That's what Bradley said when I told him I was making mini cheddar dill muffins to go along with Saturday night's dinner. Little does he know that every time we have my version of tuna "sandwiches" there is a dill mayo to accompany it, and he loves the stuff. It's all in what you tell them.

Even though he hates dill, he loved these muffins. What's not to love? Bread - GOOD! Dill - GOOD! Sharp Cheddar - GOOOOOD!!!

This recipe was originally from Better Homes & Gardens, New Cook Book, Limited Breast Cancer Edition, modified by Amber from Amber's Delectable Delights and further modified by - me! The batter was thick and lumpy, which gave the muffins a real rustic appeal. It also made exactly 18, which worked out great since that is how many wells are in the mini muffin pan.

Cheddar Dill Mini Muffins

1 & 3/4 cups self rising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup sharp cheddar

Grease 18 mini muffin wells or line with paper baking cups; set aside. Preheat your oven to 400*
In a medium bowl combine flour, dill and salt; set aside.
In another bowl combine egg, milk, oil and cheese. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

when life hands you limes...

then you know it is almost time for Cinco de Mayo!!

I am extra excited this year for Cinco de Mayo because it is the first year that we won't be making tacos at home or going to our favorite local mexican dive. Nope - this year I am cooking the Cinco de Mayo dinner! I have been planning out my recipe all week long and am just chomping at the bit to get out there and put it all together!

We went to the grocery store today and bought the ingredients for the dinner. I keep going into the kitchen and re-checking to make sure they are all still there. I don't think I've been this excited about making a meal since Thanksgiving!

I decided to go ahead and make my mexican seasoning, in an attempt to get a "fix" until the real thing! Sure, you can buy taco seasoning, but why? I'm sure most everyone has the ingredients in their pantry to put it together, and it is more fun this way!

Let's get started!

Mexican Seasoning
recipe by me

1 tbspn chili powder
1/4 tspn garlic powder
1/4 tspn onion powder
1/4 tspn ground red pepper
1/4 tspn oregano
1/4 tspn dried cilantro
1/4 tspn marjoram
1/2 tspn paprika
2 tspn cumin
1 tspn course ground salt

measure everything into a ziploc baggie, close and give a good shake. label it and make sure it is all used up within 6 months. 2 tbspns will season 1 pound of ground beef

Date Night <3

Our date night this week consisted of quite a few things. I washed the sheets and some clothes, we worked on finishing the downstairs room, we wandered outside where we had an impromptu weed pulling session, we saw someone we knew and stopped to talk, we met someone new, we wandered back into the house and finally at 8 pm decided to start dinner and watch a movie. The movie - Ocean's 11. The dinner - easily an 11 out of 10.

This was by far one of the easiest dinners I have ever made and probably one of the best tasting. If you time it just right and don't count the time it takes your oven to preheat, this dinner takes about 15 minutes - 5 minutes prep time and 10 minutes cooking time.

First up, let me introduce you to someone I met at the beach, who is now one of my new best friends. It is basil garlic fedelini pasta and can be found at Harry and David's. Well worth ordering online and paying S&H if there is not a Harry and David's near you. Which is what I will be doing when this 12 ounce well runs dry. But what to put on it?? My first idea was a simple infused olive oil, since the pasta is already flavored. But that would be kind of plain. This pasta deserved a nice sauce. So I though on it all week and remembered something I saw a while back when I was trying to do weight watchers.....

Laughing Cow cheese sauce. It is supposed to be a lighter and healthier mock alfredo sauce. I modified my recipe a little bit, because I was out of parmesan.
3 wedges LC creamy swiss
2 tblspn butter
a soup spoon of roasted garlic sauce OR real garlic
1/2 cup milk
heat the butter, cheese and garlic sauce together until the cheese breaks down. whisk in the milk and heat until it starts to thicken.

For the protein of the meal, I chose tilapia. I wanted a simple and quick way to prepare it, so I chose to bake it.
***TIP***did you know that when you bake fish you should always preheat your pan? I did not until just recently. If you pan is preheated then it will sear the fish when you set it on the pan, keeping the juices from running out while you bake it. it really works, too!
For the topping, I melted 2 tblspns butter with 1 tblspn lemon juice and mixed it with 1/3 cup italian bread crumbs. Spoon it onto the fish and lightly press it into the flesh. Bake at 425* for 10 minutes.

It plated up so beautifully and tasted equally amazing. It was an absolute perfect dinner. Nothing needed tweaking at all. The swiss sauce complimented the pasta perfectly. The addition of lemon in the breading gave the fish exactly what it needed.

And then it happened...

I have an intense fear of moths. Pretty much any insect that flies, and some that don't, I am completely terrified of. So imagine my horror when I looked up at our big living room window and saw THIS -

Thank goodness it was on the other side of the window! This thing was massive, bigger than my hand! And that tail..... ughhhh that tail! It was two leaf like pieces and it moved them separately. I feel confident in saying that if I had of been outside and that evil thing had of flown up to me I would of died right there on the spot.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

every rose has it's thorn - just like every flip has it's flop

Sorry - Bret Michaels is on don't forget the lyrics and I can't stop singing this song.

My point is that tonight was a flip - flop kind of dinner. The "pilaf" was a flop, but I put a flip on the traditional hamburger steak. A sweet, smoky flip. (which also gave me this great idea for dinner on cinco de mayo!) It turned out great! I also succeed at making brown gravy. I don't know what I was so afraid of, it's just like making sawmill gravy.

Smoky Hamburger Steaks
recipe by me

1 pound ground meat
2 tblspn roasted garlic mustard - or plain with 1 clove minced garlic
2 tblspn worcestershire
1 tblspn balsamic vinegar
1/2 tspn cumin

mix everything together and let it marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours. form into 3 patties and pan cook until no longer pink.


Wednesday at lunch, I had to watch Jaime (from over at Burnt Toast) eat her wonderful smelling risotto while I had a sandwich. Now, I am not complaining one bit, because my sandwich was really awesome - I made it out of left over bbq chicken Bradley grilled up Monday night.

"Grilled up" is so southern. "We're out here on the porch grillin' up a whole heap of something". Please try and work that sentence into your repertoire at least once this week and I promise you it will make you feel better. That, and a new purse. You deserve it!

Anyway -

I set there smelling the yummy cheesy goodness as we discussed just how hard it is to find arborio rice where we live. You people just don't understand! I told her about my plans to make a sort of "orzo risotto" and we talked about that for a while. It didn't occur to me until later that I have a lot of barley I bought and never really knew what to do with.

Although there was that 6 month span where I was on a quest to make the perfect pot roast and put barley in the bottom of my dish and then poured red wine on top of it and everything else in there and we had purple barley. That was fun. But it didn't use the whole box.

So I searched "barley recipes" trying to find something that would use ingredients I already had. I was in luck when I stumbled across this recipe. It was good and nutty and cheesy.... I enjoyed it. Then Bradley dropped the bomb on me, "Is this oatmeal?". I couldn't eat it after that, and I have no idea why.

Barley Pilaf
adapted from a recipe found on

1 cup quick-cooking barley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth & 1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 – 2 tablespoons basil

In a large sauce pan cook barley in hot olive oil over medium heat about 10 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring once a minute. Add onion and butter; cook until onion is tender. Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.

In a small sauce pan heat broth and milk. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the mix to barley mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir over medium heat until liquid is absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup of the broth, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup of the broth (repeat until all broth is used); cook and stir until liquid is all absorbed and the barley is tender.

Remove from heat. Stir in cheese; season to taste with salt and ground black pepper, sprinkle with basil.


Bradley reluctantly ate his, I couldn't finish mine, but guess who loved every bite??

new toy :)

When you go to the beach with the girls, you do what girls love to do! Talk, lay out and SHOP!

While almost everyone else went to the clothing stores, Amanda and I browsed the cooking stores and "ohhhhh'd" and "ahhhh'd" over all the great finds. And trust me - there were some great finds! I got a kitchen aid hand chopper, in empire red, for $11! I also got a lovely bottle that I plan to use when I infuse my own olive oil. Stay tuned for that!

Right now, I want to show you something I found that I have been wanting since Christmas. A mortar and pestle.

What do I need with a mortar and pestle, you ask? Well it all started when Bradley gifted me with this super cool awesome spice rack with like two point five million different spices on it. Several of them were in "seed" state. Meaning, they needed to be ground up to use them to their full extent. One of which was - Coriander.

Coriander was new to me, but I have since read up on it and pretty much fell in love with it once I ground it and was hit with a giant cloud of lemony heaven. I think it is going to be the perfect touch to my chicken marinade.

Fun fact - coriander is the seed of the plant and is used as a spice. The leaves of the plant are used as an herb and have been given the name "Cilantro". Betcha didn't know that! If you did, please keep it to yourself. No one likes a bragger.

Just kidding!

Now, back to the matter at hand. I have found that if you do a little bit of grinding at a time, it works best. So let's place a few dried coriander seeds into the mortar.

Obviously that is less than what I would use if I was going to put it in a marinade, but this is for training purposes... and so I can get another whiff of that great lemony breeze!!

Once you have chosen just the right amount of spice you desire to pulverize, go ahead and use the pestle to grind it up. I like to do a circular motion.

Check it every now and then, to see if it is at a stage that fits your liking... and to sniff the pestle.

There you have it! From seed to dust in just seconds, and its completely man powered, so you are saving money by not having to buy gas!