Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer is here? Well seems to be on it's way anyhow.
We woke to bright sunshine this morning. What a pleasure that was.
Yesterday was mild with periods of deep blue sky and bright sun.
I cleaned the windows outdoors. I painted our deck railing with a fresh bright coat of white paint. I fertilized my potted plants and gave the tomatoes a plant cleaning to rid them of aphids.
My hubby spread new bark in the front areas of our home. We look much better and quite summery.

My long time friend arrives tomorrow evening for our yearly get together. I am certainly looking forward to our time. It seems we may be able to dine outdoors after she arrives. I told her I would have her favorite wine chilling and pour her a glass as soon as she arrives. She will have about a three hour drive over the mountains as she lives in central Or and we are in the western valley. So it is a scenic drive for sure but not always relaxing depending on the traffic and road conditions.

We will be eating later than usual so I wanted all prepared ahead.
The menu is a two green salad with cucumber, red onion, edamame, tomatoes and yellow sweet pepper. I will grill shrimp with garlic , lemon and black pepper early in the day and put in the fridge to chill down. We will have a choice of Mom's honey mustard dressing or thousand island served to the side. I will assemble the salads ahead in generous size flat bottom bowls, garnish with a lemon slice and chives from the herb barrel, cover with plastic wrap and tuck in the fridge to chill. So the only thing I will need to do is heat the artisan bread to give it a crispy crust. I am making a chive cream cheese and butter spread for the bread.

I will set our patio table with my red bamboo place mats and use my fave red and white napkins(their so old) and my grandmothers silverware. I like to use a six pack holder, one that is bright and cheerful to tuck in the table seasonings and the silverware tightly wrapped in the napkins. All can go out at once in one little caddy.

I best get on with my walk. There is a little stand along the route that I walk that is selling organic strawberries. I will stop by and buy a box to test how sweet they are. If the berries are tasty I will dip the tips in melted dark chocolate and that will be our desert tomorrow evening.
It it has been a long growing season due to the coolness. But it appears the showers and gray have not hindered the crops. The farmers expect a big yield.
Who doesn't love fresh picked juicy strawberries?

Oh we are having kabobs tonight. Remember my husband selected the menu this week? I will admit I have not prepared that many kabobs throughout the years. So I rustled up a couple of recipes from the internet this morning and I will try one of them. I will report tomorrow. I really like they have a nice format and tons of recipes.

Reaching for my walking shoes............I'm outta here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'm back. I had an amazing time with my brother. We can have such fun just enjoying each others company.

He took me for a drive along the river near his house. The mighty Columbia river I am sure you have heard of it. There was a huge barge sitting in it's waters. The beauty of the river is stunning as it separates the two states. There are little sandy beaches where folks were stationed in lawn chairs hoping to catch a big fish. Hour after hour they sit and visit and eat their lunches, have their drinks, waiting for that bell to ring on their pole.
I could look across the river and see the beach where I went many times when I was a young girl. Nothing seems to change much in that Oregon area across the way. There was really no where for the little towns to grow bordered on one side by the river and the other side by the hills.

I gathered with my family on the Oregon side this past Sunday to scatter the ashes of my dear niece who passed away last Thanksgiving day. My brother is her father. The place that she selected while she was ill, was perfect. Lush and thick with foliage and tree's and so private. Between two tall fir trees the ashes were scattered. In the top of one of the firs there is an eagles nest. The eagle was not home at the time of our visit but the neighbors on the adjoining acreage told us that is his longtime homestead.
Adjacent to my nieces ashes on a small knoll blanketed with wildflowers is where my Mother's ashes are strewn.

I arrived home to my marigolds with their heads nibbled off, to my sweet violas with their roots rotted off from the rain and my pretty blue cascading flowers with both types of damage. Sad.
I must say the weather is a bit warmer but a long way from our normal June weather. And still in the forecast are sun breaks and showers, same ol.

The garden area does look nice. We have created an area in back of the garden to accommodate two chairs and a little table. This is a very hot spot so that works for us now while the weather is somewhat chilly. Always a decorator I have added some outdoor decor items to the fence making for a cozy, homey look.
There is still much I need to accomplish outdoors.

I have a long time friend coming next week and I do so hope for nice weather so we can enjoy the patio and dine outdoors.

Well as my hubby and I sat out the other day in our newly created garden space I asked him to figure out the menu for the week. I do get weary sometimes of coming up with menu ideas.
As expected he is a pretty tried and true guy sticking to the basics. We are having grilled steak again this evening with corn on the cob and a simple green salad. Other offerings this week include, bay shrimp salad and garlic bread, Italian pasta salad and chicken, veggie stir fry with rice. Sirloin kabob's with mushrooms, peppers, onions and zucchini. For a side with that we will have easy peel peppered shrimp from the grill basket so basically a surf and turf meal.
So what I will do today is share the Italian pasta salad (my own creation.) I just put in what I like as I have tried many pasta salads over the years and they are not to my liking.

Zo's Italian pasta salad.
1 12 oz package of tri-color Rotoni (corkscrew pasta)
1/2 cup small cubed mozzarella cheese
Six slices of hard salami
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 small can sliced black olives drained
1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup of shelled edamame
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 package of Good Seasons Zesty Italian dressing mix
vinegar, water, canola oil(for making dressing)

Boil pasta till al dente drain and rinse with cold water(make sure you do not over cook the pasta it needs to be to the bite.) Over cooked pasta will ruin this salad.
Make your dressing according to the directions on the package and set aside.
Prepare the ingredients listed above.
Cook the edamame as directed. These too should be to the bite. Run cold water over the edamame in a strainer to stop the cooking process and chill them down.
Drain your artichokes it does not matter if some marinade remains. Then cut them in two.
I roll each piece of salami tightly and then thinly slice, keeping them in spirals if possible.
Put the pasta in a large bowl , add the rest of the ingredients then add about three quarters of the dressing and mix well. Keep the rest of the dressing to add to the salad later as the pasta will absorb the moisture.
Sprinkle with black cracked pepper.

This salad is filling enough for a meal in itself. It makes a large salad but whenever I take it anywhere my bowl comes home empty. It is nummy. Of course you can always toss other ingredients in. Good choices would be rinsed and drained black beans or small red beans or white beans, corn kernels, green stuffed olives, peppers of any kind. You get the idea. I just chose what I prefer.

I have much to accomplish today so best get at it. My walk is next. I have been not been on a regular walking schedule with my little getaways of late. That bothers me so I must be diligent about it now.
Till tomorrow.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Eugene OR is still dull gray this morning though it is to be warmer and the sun is to come out later.

I am packed for my little adventure to my brothers home tomorrow morning. I do have a busy day ahead though. The making of food to be left for hubby and to take to my brothers home needs to be prepped and made. Also if time allows I want to get out on the deck and hose it off and tidy it up. After the rain and wind it is a disaster with leaves and bits of branches adoring it. And the snails had better be prepared as the snail bait is going out! I do not feel bad in the least doing that as they have craved up all the shoots on my plants. I would hate to think how much of the garden they would have nibbled up if it were not for the raised beds. I know they can maneuver up the bed walls but it must not be a fave of theirs as I have not seen a one in there. The cats are less of a problem now and I am sure they are missing their big grand litter boxes. We put little bamboo stakes every six inches or so throughout the beds. There is no where for them to put their little rumps! Aren't we so clever?

The fish we had last night was so awesome. I actually found fresh Pacific cod. Oh it was a beautiful piece of fish. I bought one pound a lot for two people but we ate all but two pieces. Good job guys!
I am happy we had no sides other than a salad. We barely had enough tummy room for a teeny piece of brownie.

Tonight I am making fresh spinach lasagna. I created this recipe. One time it turned out dry another time it was to soupy so it took some work. So now I feel I have it perfect, we will see. It is a little harder working with fresh spinach as it will get watery as it cooks. When you use frozen spinach you squeeze it out dry before adding. I just prefer the look and taste of the fresh.

Fresh Spinach Lasagna (9x13 casserole dish)
One 28 oz. jar of your favorite marinara sauce or homemade
Splash of red wine
One 9oz package of Barilla Lasagna no cook rolled flat pasta
One 16 oz package of shredded mozzarella cheese
One large container of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic minced
One 16 oz bag of fresh spinach
Salt and pepper and Italian seasonings to taste
Olive oil for drizzling in cooking pot
Cooking spray for the bottom of casserole dish

In your cooking pot drizzle in just enough olive oil to saute the onions, mushrooms and garlic. Cook on med low heat until the onions are translucent.
Add the sauce the wine and seasonings
Simmer a half hour or longer

Into sprayed casserole dish spread a thin layer of sauce in bottom just to cover and arrange the pasta sheets on top of the sauce in a single layer
Spread on half of the cottage cheese
Toss on half of the spinach(will look like a lot but will shrink)
Sprinkle on one third of the mozzarella cheese
Add half of the remaining sauce
Repeat the layers saving enough mozzarella for the top
Lastly sprinkle with paprika and cracked pepper
Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until all is hot and bubbling and the cheese on top is slightly browned.
Remove from oven and let sit about 15 minutes before serving. You may cover with foil at this point if you care to.
Serve with your fave sides, ours is a green salad and artisan crusty bread and red wine.
I certainly hope like Goldilocks that it not to dry or to soupy but "just right".
If I have the time and the inclination I will set our dining room table with an Italian flare all in red, green and white just like the Italian flag. That makes it fun and festive but I do not know how festive I will feel later, we may just dish up at the bar.

Well I must get to my list of to-do's.
I will not blog until I return in a few days.
If you are here in the Willamette Valley I know you will so enjoy this beautiful weekend coming up. Lots of sun, heat, deep blue skies, ahhhh I can see it all now. It had better not be a broken promise!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This may be our last damp day for a while. I have been waiting this morning to take my daily walk. I had my rain jacket on once and was out the door but it was so dark looking that I stepped back into the house. Now I am waiting for a bit of brightness. I surely do not want to be caught in a down pour. That happened last week and it is not an enjoyable experience.
I need to go grocery shopping this afternoon also. I made out my short menu as I will be gone for a few days come Saturday morning.
Today if I can find it at my fish market I am buying fresh rock fish. I always ask to smell the fish before purchasing it. Fresh fish should only have an odor like the sea. It is difficult sometimes to get really fresh fish you must know where to go in your city. We are fortunate here in Eugene as we have a fairly good variety of places that have fish brought in daily.

I will bread the fish simply and fry it quickly.
A green salad will be the only side and I will serve it with the rest of our thousand island dressing. For the fish dip I will make aoli and firecracker sauce which I have given you the recipes for previously.

We watched, "Into the Worm Hole" with Morgan Freeman last night. I barely slept last night I was thinking of all the theories out there regarding how life first started, you know the science versus religion debate. There is so much to grasp and really the more you learn the less you know. I always thought it strange how mankind seemed to be content without knowing where we came from, what we are doing here and where we are going after we die. We have just settled for the easy answers to get out of thinking about it! Don't you want to know and to have this matter settled once and for all? When religious doctrines and scientific proof mesh we will know. When all the intelligent theologians, scientists, geologists, astronomers come together with the same information it will be amazing. I for one cannot wait. There is so much research going on at this point in history, more than ever before. It is a very exciting time for us lucky enough to be living here on this earth now .

Well I had better not think so deeply about things I do not know and get on to what I know about. FOOD.

Deep fried fish
fresh fish, rock fish, halibut, snapper, cod(enough to feed your family)
krusteaz bake and fry coating mix
panko crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
canola oil
your choice of aoli, tarter or firecracker sauce.

Cut the fish into approximately five inch pieces
Use three flat bottom bowls.
In the first bowl add flour with salt and pepper to taste
In the second bowl beat two eggs with a little water
In the third bowl mix one third Krusteaz mix with two thirds panko crumbs. Mix well.
Dip the fish into the flour, then into the egg and then into the panko mixture. Set on a plate.
In a deep frying pan or steel wok(I prefer the wok here) add canola oil to the pan enough to cover fish while frying.
When your pan is ready for the fish the tip of a wooden spoon will sizzle when dipped into the hot oil this is a good gauge if you do not have a deep fry thermometer.
Add the fish into the oil do not crowd. Let the fish settle a moment then move around with a spatula to make sure all sides are browning equally. The fish will fry quickly so keep it moving. Remove to a parchment paper lined platter when all looks crispy and browned, cover with foil and continue frying fish.
Note if the oil gets to hot and the fish is starting to get to dark just turn down the burner to the next level. You want the oil hot but you also want your fish cooked. Your fish should be succulent and juicy inside a crusty exterior and never dry.

There you have it. Serve with your favorite sauce and lemon wedges.
Now I hope I can find fresh fish today as my mouth is watering.

The sky seems a bit lighter so I may try to get that walk in. Then on to the store. My day is disappearing quickly it seems. I still have things to do here at home when I return. I had better hurry.
Till later.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Well we are back from our little beach getaway. We had a great time. We strolled around Old Town Florence upon arriving. There were high clouds in the sky that soon burned off to expose bright sunshine. Oh yes!
We ate lunch at our favorite little bar that serves up plump pieces of halibut in a thin crispy crust. We chatted about the fish on the drive over. Well simple pleasures for simple folks I suppose. The platter that we split had four large crispy golden pieces. A quick bite through the crunch and our mouths filled with moist flaky fish.............heaven. After a long lengthily lunch we were off to get our room. A top floor with view right out to the ocean, a large kitchen and a combination sitting room and bedroom with floor to ceiling windows for watching the surf roll in. I was disappointed in this particular unit as the cabinets just held the bare necessities for preparing and cooking food. Well I made do because I had to but my food prep was certainly more work( no chefs knife or paring knife, what is up with that?) and cooking eggs in a cast iron skillet, well you get the picture.
Our EGG DISH was very good though in spite of the skillet. Though it took forever to clean that thing.
We made huge crab Louie's out of King crab legs. Hubby carefully removed all the meat from the legs and knuckles(his job). We had our Louie's with my Mom's cafe' style thousand island dressing. I shared that recipe with you previously.
It was a bit chilly for beach combing but we bundled up like for a winter walk and stayed warm enough. There were not many shells but we did find some interesting rocks. Just what we need to do is bring home rocks and shells.......not! We have bags full but it is like a prize when you spot a unique rock or a perfect shell. It is also a good time watching all the coming's and going's on the beach from our room. The second day there it was windy and showery on the beach yet there were folks barefooted in shorts and tee shirts skipping in the surf. There were several sand sculptures, quite good actually posing right out our window. We had our very own dragon and frog.

I am not cooking anything worth mentioning this evening because at this point I do not even know what we are eating lol. Tomorrow morning I will make out a menu for the next few days and go grocery shopping.

I am leaving for my brothers home in Washington state on Saturday morning early. It is just over a two hour drive north up the interstate. Hubby is not going he has a job starting tomorrow that will go through the weekend.
My brother lives alone so I am making up my fresh spinach lasagna to have here Friday night and I will take the remainder with me to share with my brother Saturday evening. I will have that recipe on Friday's post.

Well as we just drove home this morning I must do a few chores. I do have us unpacked and I have showered and put my face on. I was a total coast rat for a few days.
The day once again is gunmetal gray and looks like a shower. My husband did manage to get the lawns mowed after we arrived home in case the drizzle comes in. It does look like the weather will be quite warm for our weekend coming up. Finally!!!! We are ready, more than ready to be rid of these hanging gray, gloomy skies and say goodbye to the snails!
Till tomorrow.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The sun was out yesterday and it was grand. We did get cloud cover in the late afternoon it was mild but quite humid. I was so happy cleaning the deck and I potted a few more plants. My hubby was in the garage sanding and refinishing baseboards for his current job. So that was a plus having him home for the day.

After we both finished our to-do-'s we had a very enjoyable day. We sat out at the patio table and planned our little get away to the beach, what we were taking and what we would do once there. Then we played games and shared a bottle of sparkling wine. We decided to grill burgers as it was so nice out. Later we watched "Friday Night Lights". We had recorded it as we did not watch Friday night. We love this program. So well acted and we are really into the characters. We are so happy it is back, the show has quite a following.

Tonight we are having panini's and potato salad. I will just make a two cheese panini with a few basil leaves. Very simple but tasty.
My panini maker is the Griddler by Cuisinart. We love it. It comes with flat plates as well as the grill plates so you can use it for a lot of different items. It is easy to clean and works to perfection, it is worth the price as it is more expensive than most of the panini makers on the market.

For my panini's I use sourdough bread. I just butter the inside and add the cheese, a couple slices of each. Tonight I am using munster and cheddar. Then I lay about four basil leaves over the cheese. Brush the bread on the outside with olive oil and put in the hot panini maker till the cheese is starting to ooze out and the bread is marked well with the grill marks. I will have my basic potato salad with this. Toward the end of summer when our tomatoes are on we add fresh home grown tomato slices into the sandwich.

Well that is all for today. I am out the door for my daily walk as there is a break in the weather. It has been showery for the better part of the morning.
Have a great Sunday. Don't you love Sunday's? A nice day without much of an agenda at this household anyway.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I am not cooking tonight as we are having burritos and beans again. That husband of mine cannot get enough of those. So who's to complain? Not me.

So what I will do is share a little brunch recipe that I have been doing for years. It all started with good friends who made this dish every time we came for a visit and stayed over. It was suppose to be a breakfast dish but by the time it was served it was at least brunch time or even lunch time! Oh the preparations would start early enough but then it would turn into an lengthily event. Cooking for a crowd, chopping and dicing and beating and slicing is time consuming especially if bloody Mary's or Mimosa's were being served up and let us say the chef would get a little side tracked.

We simply called it EGG DISH. Considering there is a laundry list of ingredients you can put in a EGG DISH the only thing that limits you is a lack of imagination.
For all sense and purpose the dish starts with potatoes. Oh they can be frozen hash browns, potatoes O'Brien, home made fried potatoes or diced boiled potatoes, you decide. Then of course there are always eggs and cheese. Then the kitchen sink!
Protein choices would consists of: crispy fried bacon pieces, diced ham, your fave variety of sausage sliced or ground. Canadian bacon, lean burger,shrimp. crab, lobster and even on a camping trip once when supplies were depleted we used wieners. The kids loved it. Use any kind of cheese you like, it is shredded and tossed on top so a good melting cheese is best. As far as veggies almost anything goes, asparagus pieces, mushrooms, artichokes, onions, corn, broccoli. We have had so many combination's over the years and all were amazing.

We will have a well stocked kitchen at the beach so I decided I will make brunch. We will have EGG DISH with thick sliced sourdough toast with my mixed berry freezer jam and mimosa's.

These are the ingredients I will be using in the egg dish this time. I will keep things simple as we need to pack our ingredients.

: (serves two big appetites or four small ones)
1/2 cup Canadian bacon diced
frozen potatoes O'Brien
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1 cup of chopped spinach leaves
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
4 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
hot sauce of choice
canola oil
sour cream and diced tomatoes for toppers.

In large skillet drizzle oil in bottom and add just enough frozen potatoes to cover the bottom in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on med heat as you do not want them getting to brown. When potatoes are almost done add the diced Canadian bacon and cook until the potatoes are done. Beat the eggs with a splash of water in a bowl and turn the heat to low. Add the eggs to the pan and stir into the eggs and bacon. Let the eggs cook slowly the slower the better but do not dry them out. When eggs are still a tad loose add the spinach using a spoon just incorporate them into the eggs gently. The leaves will immediately wilt and by the time the spinach is hot the eggs will be done. Add the scallions and shredded cheese evenly over the top and put on a lid until the cheese melts. Mound onto plates and top with diced tomatoes, sour cream, fresh ground pepper and hot sauce. Add a thick slice of toast with some yummy jam. Or if you prefer you can also serve the egg dish in large warmed flour tortillas with the same toppings.
So there it is. EGG DISH! Always a hit and well worth the wait if you must!

Seems I have just discovered the day is slipping away as I have been in this office since early morning doing bookwork.
The sky is brighter so that is promising. I do worry about our vegetable plants they have been so wet since we planted them last Sunday.
I know in the large scheme of things dealing with wet weather and snails are tiny matters but what else would I chatter about?
Till next time

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hubby concurred. We have a bumper crop of snails this year!
Also he reminded me that I sampled those little creatures when we were on holiday at a French Island in the Caribbean. Well what can I say? I must have been having a jolly good time sipping tropical drinks and feeling adventurous. Snails not a fave.........ick!

Tonight we are going south of the border in my kitchen.
I am preparing pork burritos with re-fried beans. My husband loves re-fried beans so we have then quite often. I do make my pork in a variety of ways it just depends on what I have in my fridge and pantry.

Slow cooker pork burritos.
two to two and half pounds of boneless pork short ribs.
1/4 cup apple cider
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup Anaheim pepper seeded and chopped
one half dozen nacho style sliced jalapenos (these come in a can or a jar)
cumin, salt, pepper and onion powder for sprinkling on the meat.
canola oil
slow cooker liner (these are the best, no mess at all. Just be careful not to puncture with a fork or knife.
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
sour cream to plop on the burrito
taco sauce or salsa bravo to taste

Trim the short ribs of visible fat(what you can easily remove)
then cut into approximately 5" pieces.
generously sprinkle the seasonings on both sides of the meat.
In a large skillet drizzle some oil in the bottom of the skillet. Heat and lay in the pieces of pork. Cook on med-high heat to develop a nice crust. Turn frequently and move them around the pan to get an even crust on all the pieces.
When all are nicely browned set them into your slow cooker. To the oil and bits left in the pan add the apple cider and de-glaze the pan using a wooden spoon and making sure you get all the little bits of crust and meat off the bottom of the pan. Then pour over the pork in the slow cooker. Then top the pork with the chopped garlic and Anaheim pepper and the jalapeno slices.
Push all down into juice. The pork will release more juice as it cooks. I like to start my slow cooker on high for a hour or so and then set on low. This will take about five hours or so and the meat will fall apart when probed, this is what you are looking for so cook longer if needed.
When the meat is ready using a slotted spoon remove from the pot and place in a flat bottomed bowl. Using two forks you will now shred the pork into mouthful size pieces. After all the meat is shredded using a ladle spoon a little of the juice over the meat to keep it moist.
Fill your tortilla with the meat depending on what rolling method you prefer. Then top with shredded cheese, chopped sweet onion, cilantro, a dab of sour cream and either taco sauce or salsa bravo depending on what level of heat you like.
This recipe has a little bite so if you are not a person who likes the spice you can cut down on the amount of Anaheim and jalapenos in the recipe. Of course if you want more heat just crank it up with more of the jarred jalapenos they are spicy.

Zo's vegetarian re-fried beans
1 pound dried pinto beans
approximately 1 and half cans low sodium chicken broth
olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper
chopped onions for serving.

Follow directions on the package for cooking the beans.
When the beans are cooked put the beans in a strainer and drain off the cooking water.
In a heavy skillet (I use a cast iron one which is preferable) add some olive oil to coat the bottom and add the minced garlic. Heat slowly as to not burn the garlic. When the garlic and oil have fused add the drained beans. Salt generously, beans take a lot of salt. I prefer kosher salt for all my cooking. The add some black pepper and start to mash the beans adding the chicken broth as you go along. Keep adding the chicken broth and mashing the beans until you get the texture you like. We do not like loose beans so mine are a little more stiff. We also like a few whole beans with the mashed ones. It is just a personal preference. My sis in law loves them really thin. That is all there is to it. We like our beans served with chopped onion over the top. If you reheat the beans the next day you will have to add more broth as they do absorb it.

Plate a burrito with the beans along side on a colorful plate with a sprig or two of cilantro and slice of lime if you like(looks pretty). Set out bright napkins for a festive look. This meal is pared well with beer or white or red wine( I like both). Of course a margarita is always welcomed.
Grab the napkin and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's new? It is raining and has been all day. The snails are in their glory, loving every minute, chatting it up like you know, what should we nibble on next? They are out everywhere celebrating!
I got caught up in a freeway clog this morning on my way over to Trader Joes. Both lanes were barely moving. The snails pace down my sidewalk this morning was faster than what was happening on that freeway. A trip that normally takes ten minutes stretched into forty. I sat in traffic with the rain pounding on the roof of the car and listened to Dr. Laura put every one's life in perspective.
I made the decision setting on that rain clogged freeway that a good bowl of chicken vegetable soup is in order this evening.

I picked up several loaves of filone bread at Trader Joe's. It is par baked you just pop in a hot oven a few minutes and then you are transported to a European bakery grabbing a fresh loaf from the oven. So crispy on the outside tender with lots of texture on the inside. It is the perfect accompaniment to the soup.
So here is my soup recipe, easy and flavorful.

Zo's chicken vegetable soup(very original name)

Three frozen boneless chicken thighs
1/2 can of chicken broth
1/2 sliced medium size onion
Three cloves of garlic sliced
One large carrot sliced
Two stalks of celery sliced
Three potatoes medium dice
Two healthy squirts of ketchup from the bottle
Olive oil
Pepper and salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried basil or several fresh basil leaves chopped
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon thyme
one pinch tarragon

In your soup pot put frozen chicken thighs in water to cover.
Bring to boil and turn heat to low and continue cooking until meat is tender. This process will take a hour and a half or so.
When the chicken is cooked remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Skim all the chicken fat from the water and pour the broth into a container and sit aside. Now in the bottom of the same pot drizzle a little olive oil, toss in the carrot the onions and celery and garlic. Saute' until the carrots are semi tender and the celery and onions translucent.
Add the seasonings. Add the broth from the container back in the pot. Add the potatoes and ketchup. If you need more broth at this time to cover the potatoes add some of the canned chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn to med low until the potatoes are done. Add the chicken thighs back in and break them up with a wooden spoon. Simmer until the chicken is heated and serve in bowls and dunk the bread in the broth.

If this does put you into unwind mode on an old black night with the rain splattering the windows nothing will.
Have a good one.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back again. Did not post yesterday as I did not cook. We basically snacked the day away. Nothing exciting but little tid- bits we had in the fridge and I made up a fruit and cheese plate and we had some Cava Spanish sparkling wine. The sun was out in the afternoon and it was humid and tropical. We were able to enjoy our small but cozy, private back yard. So tonight I must make up for yesterday's laziness in my kitchen. We are having Chicken Pomodora with Niko Niko Calrose rice and fresh green beans. The chicken dish is certainly not complicated and is one of our favorites. This recipe serves four small appetites or two
generous portions.

Ingredients: for Chicken Pomodora
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into cutlets
salt and pepper
all purpose flour
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped tomatoe
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 cup sliced scallions

Make cutlets by slicing through the chicken breasts length wise. Then with plastic wrap cover your chicken and pound gently to flatten your cutlets.
Season cutlets with salt and pepper then dust with flour.
Add the oil to a large skillet and heat to medium. Saute' cutlets on both sides till lightly browned. transfer the cutlets to a platter. Pour the fat from the skillet and deglaze the pan with the vodka(away from the heat) return to heat and cook until nearly evaporated. Add the chicken broth and lemon juice. Return the cutlets to the pan and cook each side about one minute. Transfer the cutlets onto a serving plate and cover with foil. Stir tomato and cream into the sauce heat through and pour over the cutlets.
Garnish with scallions.
Serve the rice along side the chicken as the sauce is yummy mixed in with a bite of rice. We are having green beans tonight but this recipe is also good with asparagus, peas, edamame, and other rich green vegetables. This is a pretty ensemble especially served on white plates. I am setting the dining table tonight all in white. I will use a vase of fresh herbs for the centerpiece with two white chunky candles on each side. Pure and simple.

Well now that I have informed you of what is going to happen in my kitchen I had best get at the prep work and get the table set.
Our day is a mixed bag again sadly without much sun in the mix.
We are taking a few days next week and going to the beach. We do hope for enough weather breaks so we can do some beach combing. But if not it is cozy in the room with the wild surf tossing about under our balcony.
Till tomorrow.