Friday, December 29, 2006

Brown Sugared Fried Plantains

The first time I had fried plantains was at Starliner Diner about 15 years ago as a side dish with the Media Noche sandwich.

(the funky inside of the Starliner Diner)
(Starliner's Fried Plantains)
(The above photo is by another Columbus food blogger, ColumbusFoodie. She has a great blog!)

I had never even heard of plantains before and was surprised at the flavor. A few years later, I found them at the grocery store and decided to try to make something similar to Starliner's. Since I don't have a deep fryer, this proved to be quite a challenge, and one that I was just not up to. Nope, time to take a different tack. I search on-line and talked to some friends at work that were familiar with plantains. A coworker of Puerto Rican descent told me how to cook green plantains like a baked potato - I wasn't happy with the results, though - way too starchy for me. I was looking for the sweet flavor I'd had at Starliner, so I tried just pan frying some ripe yellow ones, then tried again with some that were much more ripe, almost all black. I've decided that somewhere in between is where I like them -yellow, at least with some black spots, heading towards black, and they shouldn't feel hard when squeezed. has a very nice graphic showing these stages, along with a good description of each stage and plantains in general (and some recipes, too).

If I can only find green plantains, I put them in a paper bag for a few days (or more) to ripen them up.

Making the fried plantains is pretty simple - peel, slice and pan fry in butter and oil, sprinkling some brown sugar at the end. I also like to serve the them with a sour cream and hot sauce dip.

2 very ripe plantains (almost black , but not too squishy)
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 Tablespoon of oil (vegetable, corn, even olive works o.k.)
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
4 Tablespoons of sour cream
1 Tablespoon of finely minced onion
1 teaspoon of Mexican hot sauce, such as La Victoria Salsa Brava or Bufalo Picante Clasica

Peel and slice the plantains to about 3/8" thickness

ripe plantains ready for slicing & frying

Sliced and ready to fry
Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and oil.

Add the sliced plantains to the hot grease, and lower the heat to medium low.

Cook until golden on the bottom, then flip them over and sprinkle them with the brown sugar.

Serve the plantains with the dipping sauce.

To make the dipping sauce:
Put the hot sauce and onion in a small bowl and add the sour cream. Blend well


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thanks, Lucy...


I suppose I wasn't really looking forward to Saturday, but the day passed uneventfully and I don't feel any different. At least not yet.

You see, I turned 45 on Saturday.

The day began well, as I opened up the morning paper and went to the part that I like best... The comics page. Yes, yes, I know we've got a mess in this world, what with the quagmire in Iraq and our leader in denial, not to mention the myriad of social injustices occurring on a daily basis in this country and around the world. I know that there is plenty of important stuff to read about. But My Saturday morning dose of semi-reality comes by way of the Columbus Dispatch, and, given the source, I head for the most real part first - the comics.

To my great surprise and intense pleasure, the Peanuts strip was actually VERY good on this personal milestone Saturday. First of all it was completely non-preachy. Second, it didn't involve a football, a baseball, or anyone insulting anyone else. And, for a third reason, the strip actually made me feel good for a change (Peanuts seldom does that for me. Sometimes I don't even read it).

Here it is - Click on it to for a larger version and see if you can figure out why I like this strip...

So he spelled my name wrong. It was close enough for a major smile from me.
Thanks, Lucy!

I did.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sausage Pasta with Goat Cheese

One of our favorite restaurant's here in Columbus is Figlio (actually, there are two of them in town and another in Dayton). They create the best pizzas (those great gourmet wood fired pizzas!), pastas that will spoil you for any other, and simple yet elegant salads. Their desserts (oh, the Chocolate Mousse...) and particularly their coffee are absolute standouts. I believe they use a custom blend created for them by Columus' own Stauf's Coffee Roasters and I've never had smoother coffee anywhere. It almost feels like I'm sipping liquid silk when I have cup there. Friends that know far more about wine than I do tell me their wine list, while not large or fancy, is a perfect match to the dishes coming out of the kitchen. The Owners of Figlio are no wine slackers, though, having recently opened Vino Vino - A Wine Bistro adjacent to the Grandview Figlio location. My wife has been there a few times and loves their crab cakes, too.

The decor at Figlio stresses their simple elegance, the only real wall decorations being some sort of seasonal fruit or vegetable hanging from what looks like thin metal wire, & always with one piece hanging higher than all the rest. the tables are covered with a bright white table cloth, then topped with butcher paper stamped sparingly with the Figlio logo. The superb waitstaff are all dressed in bright white shirts and black skirts or pants - the whole place just smacks of stylistic minimalism without being pretentious.

So, other than the obvious (Go to Figlio when you're in Columbus!), why am I telling you all of this? Well, in addition to the well deserved praise I've just heaped upon this place, Figlio is one of those artsy creative places that occasionally changes their menu items, adding new ones, taking some away...always with care to maintain a nice balance for their patrons. One dish they had many years back was a pasta (penne, I think) in a red sauce with sliced sauteed italian sausage and topped with goat cheese. My wife an I both enjoyed this dish (until she discovered their Chicken Diablo, her ever steady, one and only now), and I really wanted to be able to make something like it at home. My version of their pasta is the recipe below. It's nowhere near as good as Figlio's was, but we enjoy the flavors and have it often, especially since it's simple and quick.

Sausage Pasta with Goat Cheese
(Serves 4)
The Ingredients:
4 hot italian sausage links, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
3 cans (6 ounces) of tomato sauce (yep, just plain old small cans of sauce - we usually use the cheap stuff...)
1 pound of pasta, whatever kind you like. We use either thin spaghetti or penne
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
Chevre Goat cheese, at least a tablespoon per serving, more if you really like the stuff. And you will really like the stuff..

The Directions:
Pour the tomato sauce into a medium sauce pan over low heat.
Add the sliced sausage, oregano & basil and cook on low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The flavor of the sausage will infuse into the sauce during this time.
After about 20 minutes, prepare the pasta per package label directions (If you are using fresh pasta, let the sauce cook a few more minutes since the pasta will be ready faster).
When the pasta is done, drain it well and portion it out into pasta bowls. Top the hot pasta with the sausage sauce and a generous dollop of goat cheese, then serve it while still steaming.

That's it. Like I said, it's nice and simple and quick, yet it will taste like you actually worked hard to make it.


Chicken Breasts with Tomato Butter

I knew I was going to have to make something quick last night since we were heading to my son's school Christmas show, so I dug this recipe out a couple of nights ago for the small bit of night-before prep it requires. That prep is simply making a sweetly pungent tomato butter that tops a simple sauteed chicken breast. The dish itself was a fast cook, since all that's done is just pan sauteeing the chicken until done. The seasoned flour on the chicken makes for a nice thin yet crispy crust. The R.O.I. on that little prep was huge!

Chicken Breasts with Tomato Butter
The Ingredients::
4 Table spoons of butter at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup of flour
Salt and pepper
4 boneless, skinless thicken breasts
(try not to get the monstrously large., hormone laden type - they're too thick to be pan sautéed).
2 Tablespoons of olive oil

The Directions:
Combine 3 Tablespoons of the butter with the garlic, tomato paste and parsley.
Scrape the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to help form the butter into a cylinder. Wrap the cylinder tightly and chill.
Combine flour, ½ tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture.
In a large frying pan, melt remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter in the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken and reduce the heat to medium.
Cook, turning once, until chicken is just done, about 10 minutes.
Serve immediately, topping the hot chicken with slices of the butter.

some variations to explore:
For the butter:
=Use Shallots instead of garlic
=Use sun-dried tomoato instead of tomato paste
=Add chopped black olives to the butter
=Substitute fresh basil for the parsley

For the chicken: (don't do too much here...the chicken should be kept simple)
=Add some cayenne tot he dredging flour for a bit of extra kick
=Try Penzey's Shallot Salt inthe dredging flour instead of your usual salt

This recipe came from "First for Women" magazine, sometime in the early-mid1990's. I have several recipes from this magazine but I can't find a single one online. I'll post a few more as I make them.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Skillet Stuffed Cabbage

I found this recipe in the September issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine in a section on "5 Ingredient Dinners". I made it a few weeks ago, and true to the magazine's word, it was extraordinarily simple, made completely on the stove top, and turned out far better than I expected. The twist in this dish is the addition of mint leaves to the meat mixture. I'm not big on mint but I really like stuffed cabbage, so this dish sounded intriguing to me, especially since the prep is far quicker and easier than the traditional stuffing of the cabbage, with the boiling and the rolling and the baking and all of dat... ok, ok, enough of my Schwarzenegger impression... On to the recipe.

Skillet Stuffed Cabbage
1 28 ounces can of diced tomatoes
1 1/4 pounds of lean (90%) ground beef
1 8.8 ounce bag of heat and serve precooked rice pilaf (don't heat it!)
1 cup of loosely packed, coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 small head of green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cored

For the rice,I used the Long Grain & Wild Rice package, but I'm sure the some of the others would work well, too, like the Original Long Grain, the Rice Pilaf, or the Whole Grain Brown.

1. Transfer 1 cup of the canned tomatoes with some of the juice to a medium bowl. Pour the remaining tomatoes and juice into a nonstick 12-inch skillet.
2. To the tomatoes in the bowl, add the beef, rice, mint, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix to blend.
3. Remove 8 large cabbage leaves from the head. Spoon 1/2 cup of the meat mixture into the center of each leaf. Arrange the filled leaves, open side up, in a skillet over the tomatoes. Cover skillet and cook the mixture over medium-high heat for 20 minutes or until the beef loses its pink color.
4. To serve, place 2 of the stuffed cabbage leaves on each of the dinner plates. Spoon the tomato sauce over the cabbage.

The photo at the top is the pot-full just before the cooking began. I was so eager to eat this up when it was done, that I forgot to shoot the finished product. There is a good photo from the magazine here,though (there's nutritional info on the dish there, too). The mint infused into the beef mixture nicely and wasn't overpowering at all. I will definitely be making this again, but I'll have to fix something extra to feed my son, since, unlike most things we cook, he didn't care for it very much.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Dreaming of warm Sea Air and Seafood...

Today was FREEZING here in Columbus and all I wanted to do was stay warm. That got me thinking about our vacation to Ocean City, NJ, and, of course, the food. One of the first places we went on our first day there was for pizza. Good pizza. The pizza here in Columbus generally sucks (I do like Sporano's, though); it's almost impossible to find even a halfway good pie with a halfway decent crust. Most of it is on a wimpy thin crust with no edge to it, far too overloaded with toppings, and they keep trying to come up with "new" pizzas - who the heck wants a "Mariachi Chicken" or "Philly Cheesesteak"pizza? And the stuff isn't even cut properly. They chop the poor pie into little 2" squares instead of a decent slice.

Ok, calm down, Lorence...It's only pizza....What the hell am I saying! It's pizza! I need Real Pizza!!!

And, oh, to have real pizza! And to be able to introduce my son to the real thing was foremost on my list of things to do when we got to Jersey. That led us straight to Mack & Manco's

the best pizza I'd had in 30 years. We each got a slice and a birch beer, too. Birch beer quickly became a #1 favorite and I'm still trying to find it somewhere in town...

Mine was Tomato & spinach, Karen's was Mushroom and Olives:
While boogie was having a bit of trouble handling his Pep & olive slice. The trouble was only temporary as he made quick work of it and wanted more...
Later inthe week , we also tried one of the other boardwalk pizza places with similar results,
but it just didn't quite measure up to Mack & Manco's. So you know where to go when you get to Ocean City. You won't be disapointed.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Etouffe Redux

I made a shrimp etouffe this past week and this time, I added a new twist I wish I'd thought of a long time ago. Instead of adding 2 cups Chicken Broth as called for in the recipe I posted back in July 2005, I used the shells from the shrimp and made a simple shrimp stock. Be careful, though! Shrimp stock can be powerful stuff and a little goes a long way!

I had the shell from 1 pound of shrimp, which I put in a medium stock pot and covered with water. I added some of the darker outer peel of the yellow onion I was about to use for the etouffe to give it a richer color (I think I saw that on an old "Frugal Gourmet" show), then got the mixture to a boil. After a minute or so of boiling, I lowered the heat to simmer for about a half hour (longer, perhaps an hour, would have been nice, but I was hungry!). I then let the stock sit for a few minutes and poured off the top clear portion into a measuring cup. Running it through a piece of cheesecloth would work well, too.

When I made the etoufe, instead of 2 cups of broth (16 ounces), I added 14 ounces of broth and 2 ounces of the fresh shrimp stock.

WOW! This gave the etoufe a much more complex and rich flavor with than before.

I froze the remaining half cup of stock for future use.

I also found this link on the Tabasco site outlining the process, and is pretty close to how I did it. Other recipes for shrimp stock get much fancier, and probably will have an even richer flavor, but for now, I'm stickin' to simple.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Quick Steamed Broccoli

Ok, so steaming broccoli isn't rocket surgery, but I've got a great way of doing it that never fails and always tastes good. The broccoli is always tender perfect without being too crunchy from being underdone or too limp and overcooked. And best of all, it only takes a couple of minutes of prep and 2 minutes or so in the microwave.

All you need is:
a head of broccoli
a bowl
some cooking spray (the butter flavored stuff works well)
some seasoning like Lawry's season salt
2 tablespoons of water
plastic wrap

Put the water in the bottom of the bowl.
Trim the florets from the broccoli head and arrange them in the bowl so the florets all face up (stems down).
Spray the tops of the broccoli with the cooking spray.
Sprinkle some seasoning over the tops of the broccoli.
Cover the bowl very tightly with the plastic wrap - you are creating a nice sealed "oven-to-table" steamer.
Put the bowl in them microwave a fire it up on high for about 2 minutes or so depending on the power of your microwave (ooh..."Fire On High", great E.L.O song from the '80's - this is a weird little anime video using the song which also has a great not-so-"subliminal" message at the beginning of it).

Enjoy - both the music and the Broccoli!

Oven-Fried Mustard Chicken

Another old recipe from "First" Magazine from the early '90's, this is a good old standby for a tasty oven chicken breast dish. I've made it several times over the years and we always enjoy the tenderness of the chicken and the dijon flavor. Tonight's meal was made from a single chicken breast that weighed in at about a pound - they're just so large these days. I cut the breast up into 4 pieces and made the recipe below, along with some steamed broccoli and my son's favorite rolls - crescent rolls ( my piece of chicken came out a bit over-crusty around the edges, but I like the crunchy bits...).

Oven-Fried Mustard Chicken
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup dijon mustard
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
4 boneless chicken breast halves, about 1 1/2 pounds

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the bread crumbs, flour and paprika.
Combine the mustard, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 2 tablespoons water.
Melt the butter in a small bowl.
Line a shallow pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Dip the chicken in the mustard mixture, then coat with the bread crumb mixture.
Put the coated chicken in the prepared pan.
Drizzle the butter over the chicken.
bake he chicken until browned and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.

When I make this, I like to double the paprika, halve the salt, and drizzle with olive oil instead of butter.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chicken and Eggplant - not Changs, but good.

I get a lot of hits on this site from people looking for the great PF Changs Eggplant and Ground Chicken recipe. Sorry folks, but I don't have it & I don't know who does. If you do, please let me know.
What I DO have is this recipe, though, for Chicken and Eggplant. I've made it many times over the years and while it's not Changs' it not bad at all. It's got some of the heat (you can add as much as you like), and the texture is ok, too. Thought the recipe calls for chicken breasts, I use usually use a mixture of breast and thigh meat.

I think using dark soy, adding some hoisin, and not sweeating the eggplant as long would put it closer to Changs'.


From Good Housekeeing Magazine, September 1993, “Chicken Festival Cookbook”
Makes 6 servings
6 medium-size skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves (about I pound)
6 medium-size baby eggplants (about2 pounds) or 2 small eggplants(about 1 pound each)
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon grated, peeled ginger root or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup regular long-grain rice
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Oriental sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Prepare rice as label directs; keep warm.
2. Cut chicken-breast halves length wise into ½ -inch-wide strips. Cut each baby eggplant lengthwise in half. (If using regular eggplants, cut each crosswise in half, then length wise into 1-inch-wide strips.)
3. In 12-inch skillet over high heat in hot salad oil, cook chicken until lightly browned and it loses its pink color throughout. With slotted spoon, remove chicken to bowl.
4. In drippings in skillet over high heat, heat eggplant, garlic, ginger and ½ cup water to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and eggplant is very tender, about 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, in cup, with fork, mix soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, Oriental sesame oil, and cornstarch until blended.
6. To eggplant in skillet, add cooked chicken, soy-sauce mixture, and crushed red pepper; over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring until sauce boils and thickens slightly.
7. Serve chicken mixture with rice.

The nutritional information and the original recipe as it appear in print in 1993 can be found on the Good Housekeeping site.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale, Garlic and Sausage

This is another of our cool weather favorites. The textures, aromas and tastes in this dish all combine to create a refreshing melange that's warming and incredibly flavorful. And it was a great way to use kale, which around here, is usually inexpensive and plentiful. I saw this recipe in Redbook Magazine's February 2000 issue. I didn't really notice the recipe at first & it wasn't really the kind of recipe I would normally have paid much attention to, but the photo...Oh the photo looked delicious. I saw that picture and I wanted a bowl of whatever it was! A few weeks later, I made the recipe and we've been hooked since. I wish I still had the original magazine so I could post that photo, but all I have left is a photocopy. I'll try to take a shot next time I make it (probably in a couple of weeks).

The remarkable thing with this recipe is that I don't change a thing (Well, ok, sometimes I use a bit more smoked sausage...). The recipe calls for 3 cloves of garlic. Finally! Why, oh, why would a recipe call for only 1 clove of garlic?!? What good is that? I love garlic,so I use a lot of it, and this recipe calls it right - 3 cloves. 3 LARGE cloves. Yum.

Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale, Garlic and Sausage
8 ounces of Kielbasa, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 19 ounce cans of Cannelini beans, rinsed & drained
(great northern work, too, if that's all you can find)
2 14.5 ounce cans of chicken broth
4 cups of chopped kale

1. Brown the sausage in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. I brown it until the bottom of the pan starts to turn brown with the cooked fat.

2. Remove the sausage from the pan to a bowl.
3. Add the oil to the pan and add the garlic. Cook the garlic for about 30 seconds. Don't let it brown! (it will turn bitter if it browns!)

4. Add some broth to the pan to deglaze it, scraping up as much of the browned bottom of the pan as possible, adding more broth as needed. Then add the rest of the broth.

5. Bring the broth to a boil.
6. Add the beans & reduce the heat to bring the beans and broth to a simmer.

7. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
8. Remove 1 cup of soup, including some beans, to a blemder and puree the mixture until smooth.

9. Stir the puree back into the soup.

10. Add the sausage back into the soup.
11. Add the kale to the soup and simmer util the kale is just tender, then serve.

This makes 6 1/2 cups, and goes great with a nice crusty bread.


A non-food related post - THE double play!

This has nothing to do with food, well other than remind me how good the hot dogs were at Shea stadium when I was a kid. Last night (Wednesday 10/4/06) the NY Mets catcher Paul Lo duca pulled off the greatest double play I've ever seen. I haven't been a big baseball fan, other than the October classic, for a long time. Seeing this play reminded me of how good the game can be. Just click to watch...



Saturday, September 30, 2006

The weather's cooling down... Time for Potato Soup

I saw Jeff Smith prepare this recipe on his wonderful PBS show many years ago and thought it would be fun to try. The 'ribals', he explained, were little tiny dumplings and the entire recipe was a snap to make. Over the years I've updated it a bit, adding my own touches that I think make it the perfect potato soup. We have it often when the weather gets cold. The first pot is a sure sign that winter is on it's way! This is also one of those dishes that tastes even better after it's been in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days, if it lasts that long!

My additions to this recipe include the use of Yukon gold potatoes with the skin left on, boiled first in chiken broth. I added the garlic and onion to the recipe also. Adding a few strips of cooked chopped bacon is tasty, too.

My only warning is to watch the anount of salt you add. Sometimes the base the potatoes boil in and the stock the soup is made from can add enough for the entire dish.


Potato Soup with Ribals
From the "The Frugal Gourmet on our Immigrant Ancestors"
By Jeff Smith, With modifications by Lorence Sing

Ingredients: The Soup
1 quart of chicken stock
chicken base
6-8 cubed yukon gold potatoes, each about the size of billiard ball
3 1/2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
chopped celery leaves
salt & pepper
1 queart of milk

Ingredients: The Ribals
1 egg
1 cup flour

Boil the cubed potatoes in enough water to cover. Add chicken base to the boiling water so the potatoes are boiling in chicken broth. Boil until the potaoes are just fork tender.
Drain the potaoes in a colander.
Over medium heat in a stock pot, combine the 1 quart of chicken stock with the potaotes,onion, and butter.
As the mixture bigins to boil, slowly add the milk, stirring gently.
Make the ribals in a large bowl by combining egg and flour, initially with a fork then mixing with your hands until there is no "dry" flour left. You should have very tiny dumpling or flour balls.
As the soups heats back up to a slight boil, add the ribals, a handful at a time while stirring gently.
Add the chopped celery leaves, reserving a few for garnish.
Add a generoud amount of fresh cracked pepper and add a bit of salt if necessary - taste it first, though to be sure that the stock didn't add anough salt already.
If the soup gets too thick, thin it out a some with a bit more milk.

Serve with some nice fresh bread or rolls.

Other information on The Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith can be found at:
The Unofficial Frugal Gourmet page
Blog of Death
Teri's Kitchen
To me, The Frugal Gourmet was an inspiration to love and enjoy cooking. Watching him taught me to appreciate good food and good cooking. He made me realize that a recipe was more than just the ingredients and directions, but was also about the history and passion behind it. This is one of the reasons I love cooking and sharing my kitchen with all of you. I learned much from watching "The Frug", things I remember years later. I learned to appreciate and try making my own recipes. And above all I learned not to be afraid in the kitchen. Sure, there were some unsavory allegations about him that brought about his public demise, but those were far removed from his public persona and my impressions. I will always remember Jeff Smith as the Frugal Gourmet, a kitchen inspiration.


Friday, September 29, 2006

Sweet, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Last Tuesday, there was a post on my favorite blog The J-WalkBlog about the North Carolina Sweet Potato Recipe Club where they say theY are "THE SOURCE for Promotion, Information, Education and Service from North Carolina’s Sweet Potato Growers." They also have almost 150 recipes featuring the wonderful Sweet Potato. This recipe is one more...It was perfect timing seeing this post on J-walk, as I had just made the following recipe the night before. I posted this recipe on J-walk right away and now i'm posting it here, too.

Maple Roasted Chicken Thighs w/Sweet Potatoes
A recipe from Good Housekeeping Magazine, 9/06
Preheat oven to 450F.
4 large skinless chicken thighs,
1 lb sweet potato (cut into 1" chunks),
1 onion (cut into 1" pieces),
8 oz baby carrots,
1 teaspoon salt,
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup
in a baking dish (about 9"x13" or larger)) & toss to coat ( I line mine w/foil for easy cleanup).

Roast the chicken for 40-45 minutes (juices will run clear when thick part of thigh is pierced w/knife tip) & liquid in pan thickens slightly. Be sure to stir the veggies and turn the chicken over halfway through the roasting.

This was the second time I've made this dish and it was quite tasty. A Turkey breast would probably work well in this recipe, too.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Herb Chicken with Warm Vinaigrette

Balsmic Vinegar - I always like finding new recipes that make prominent use of balsmaic vinegar. This recipe is a new all-time favorite. We've made this dish several times in the past few months and enjoy it completely. I've served it with steamed fresh green beans or broccoli, buttered egg noodles, basmati rice...doesn't matter, the dish is yummy every time. Since the chicken breasts are so large these days, I usually cut them in thirds lengthewise or in half horizontally and adjust the cooking time accordingly, making sure to get a nice golden color on each side. This makes for a normal healthy sized portion. Below is the original recipe as published in Family Circle Magazine
The fist time I made this recipe, My son, who usually helps me prepare dinner, quickly left the kitchen and declined to offer any further help. telling me that it smelled way too bad. Of course, he devoured his portion when it was ready!

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 pound total)
4 Tablespoons white or dark balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian-style plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
Mixed greens (optional)

1. Brush chicken with 1 tablespoon vinegar. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding skillet, add chicken to hot oil; saute about 6 to 7 minutes per side or until browned (170 degrees F). Remove chicken to platter; keep warm.
3. Add remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar to skillet over medium heat, stirring with wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits from bottom of skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to skillet. Stir in tomatoes; heat through. Pour warm vinaigrette over chicken. Serve with mixed greens, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
(Nutritional information can be found on the Family Circle Magazine web site)


Monday, September 11, 2006

An unusual seafood case dinner...

OK, so my son and I are at Kroger and he loves the seafood case. He spots something different this time, though... Frog Legs. Yeah, sure we can try them, I say as he insists we should have them for dinner. But wait, first we have to get crawfish, too. So dinner was interesting. We had crushed oyster cracker crumb and parsley coated frog legs pan fried with shallots, cajun spiced crawfish, quick pan seared scallops and steamed broccoli...
I thought the legs were pretty good, decent flavor, and yes, yes, they did taste a bit lke chicken. The first one I had was a bit tough and a little stringy, but the second one (and the third) was just right. My wife wasn't all that interest after a few bites and ate some scallops, crawfish and broccoli. Boogie was a different story, though. While he was very enthusiastic during the purchase and preparation, he was somewhat hesitant when it actually came time to put the amphibian's leg in his mouth. I asked him to just try it - he will try eating almost anything once - and he did!

Yes, he is indeed wearing a hat to dinner, but not just ANY hat, that's his "Steak and Shake" hat. He got that last week when we went for Sippable Sundaes and Side-By-Side Shakes.

After a bite or two, though, he decided it didn't taste quite enough like chicken for his taste, so he finished up the crawfish, had some broccoli, and asked for a "Little Debbie" Cosmic Brownie for dessert.

As a family dinner, lsat night's dinner was a bust. I thought everything was tasty and cooking it all up so it was all ready at the same time was a great challenge. Of course, I'm the only one here that thought that and enjoyed it. bummer. tonight was much different. I'll post that next. 'Til then,

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Family Stroganoff

When we first got married, my wife cooked Beef Stroganoff for me one night. I came home late (I worked second shift then) and didn't even eat any. She was kind of insulted and rightly so - she still reminds me of that night almost 20 years later...
She used a recipe from the label of a jar of Heinz Homestyle Gravy and saved the label so she could make it again. When I finally tasted her Stroganoff, I was glad she saved that label, it was quite tasty! Over the next nearly 2 decades, we've made this dish many times, and have added our own little twists to it, adding fresh mushrooms, more red wine, a touch of sherry...We even went through our "low-fat" period with this recipe, modifying it to fot that crazy diet fad, and it still turned out pretty good.
This recipe has real history for me, too. It was the first dish my wife cooked for me (even though I didn't eat it that night) and it's one of our favorites still, even my for my son. Of course he'll eat almost anything with noodles!

The Sing Family Beef Stroganoff
1 1/2 pounds boneless sirlon or round steak, sliced into thin strips

2 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion (about 1 cup), coarsly chopped

8 ounces fresh mushrooms,sliced (I like them that way) or diced
12 ounce jar of mushroom or brown gravy (we always use Heinz Homestyle gravy, either Mushroom, Savory, or something like that)
1/4 cup (or a bit more) dry red wine
a few table spoons of sherry (use decent sherry, not that nasty cooking sherry)
1 to 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
about 1/3 cup real dairy sour cream
Hot cooked wide egg noodles
Chopped fresh parsley

In a large skillet, brown the slice steak in the butter.
Add the onions and cook 'til limp.

Stir in the mushrooms.
Stir in the gravy, wime and tomato paste.
Season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the sherry.
Stir in the sour cream until smooth and a nice tan color - I always check with my wife to confirm that I've addd enough sour cream. She know what color the sauce should be (I've included the picture below for your reference).

Serve over hot noodles (buttered if you like), and sprinkled with parsley.

The picture below is the original recipe from that first jar of gravy. It's prett special to us and I'm glad to show it off here. Click the image to see a larger view (It's more readable).


I'm Back!

I've been away for a while, vacation, some medical stuff, work (that work stuff keeps getting in the way of all my fun!), but I should have some new posts very soon.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Chicken Cacciatore, the real deal.

Tonight's dinner was chicken Cacciatore, a recipe from my new cookbook, "Who Has Nana's Recipe?, by Regina Sullivan (see the previous entry). This was an extremely easy recipe to make and brought back memories of my childhood when my mother would make this dish. The flavor of Regina's recipe was much more intense, though. I used boneless chicken thighs in it and they came out so tender that I had a hard time getting them out of the pan without the thighs falling apart. Served with orzo, it made for a very satisfying meal.

As good as it was, I'm not going to put the recipe here on my site for you, though. I'd rather you order the book for yourself and get the full beneifit of Regina's detailed instructions and family history behind each of her 56 or so recipes. It's worth every penny.


A New Cookbook!

I've gotten a new cookbook, and if you love Italian food, real Italian food, then you MUST order "Who Has Nana's Recipe?, by Regina Sullivan. It's a very nicely put together collection of southern Italian recipes from her family and also includes wonderful stories about her family and why these recipes mean so much to her. If you've read any of my entries below, you know that I think the story behind the recipe is important to appreciate the end product.

Go visit Regina's web site, "Who Has Nana's Recipe?, and place your order. It'll only set you back a mere $18.95 (USD) + $3 (USD) shipping & handling, and she accepts paypal and credit cards.

What are you doing still reading this? Go! Go order it now!

and as always...

Updated Jones Soda blog entry...

I've updated the Jones Soda Photo Submission entry to include Boogie's entry photo...Please take a look and vote.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Devilishly Good Dijon Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs – Do people still bring them to parties like they used to? I never seem to see them anymore, not that I go to that many parties… We still make them, though, particularly for holiday gatherings, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Especially Easter. We’re boiling eggs anyway, so why not make some deviled eggs, too, right?

I’ve had some pretty nasty tasting deviled eggs. People put all kind of stuff in them, like pickle relish, chutney, or the nastiest of all nasties, miracle whip ( I know it should be capitalized, but I just can’t bring myself to do it…).

This is my version of the hors d'oeuvres, refined through many iterations of trial and a few errors. I usually make a dozen halves, plenty for our usual gathering of the 3 of us and Karen’s folks, but I always cook seven eggs instead of just the required 6 (I’ll do the math for you: 6 eggs = 12 deviled eggs). Why seven? Simple – after years of boiling eggs, I’ve learned that I will ALWAYS have one egg that cracks in the pot and turns out all ugly. Making seven assures me of 6 pretty eggs to halve, plus (BONUS!), it gives me one extra yolk to use to make the filling. And with the extra yolk, I can overstuff the eggs a bit. After all, it’s all about the filling, isn’t it?

Deviled Eggs
7 Large Eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons Mayonaise (Real Mayo, please, not that nasty Kraft M.W. stuff)
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

The first step, of course, is to hard boil the eggs. Sounds easy, right?

Not so fast… If you do it wrong, you’ll get runny under cooked yolks or over cooked super hard eggs, or a dark green, chalky, sulfer filled, stinky outer layer around your yolks.

Oh, so many things that can go wrong, but there is one really easy way to fix them - and we can thank Julia Child for spreading the gospel on that…(See the Georgia Egg board site for her inspiration).

How To Boil Your Eggs (as described by the Late Great Julia Child, from The Way To Cook, 1989):
The cooking: Lay the eggs in the pan and add the amount of cold water specified. (water should cover the eggs by 1 inch). Set over high heat and bring just to the boil; remove from heat, cover the pan, and let sit exactly 17 minutes.
The 2-minute chill: When the time is up, transfer the eggs to the bowl of ice cubes and water. Chill for 2 minutes while bringing the cooking water to the boil again. (This 2 minute chilling shrinks the body of the egg from the shell.)
The 10-SECOND boil: Transfer the eggs (6 at a time only) to the boiling water, bring to the boil again, and let boil for 10 seconds - this expands the shell from the egg. Remove eggs to the ice water, cracking the shells in several places.
Preventing that dark line around the yolk: Chilling the eggs promptly prevents that dark line from forming, and, if you have time, leave the eggs in the ice water (adding more ice if needed) for 15 to 20 minutes before peeling. Chilled eggs are easier to peel, too.

Alright, back to the Deviled Egg Recipe…

-Dry the peeled eggs gently on a paper towel.
-Slice the egg in half lengthwise with a sharp knife.
-Remove the yolk with a small spoon to a bowl. Be very careful not to damage the egg white. (the bowl should be big enough to hold all the yolks and the fillings with enough room to blend them well).
-Put the egg white half on a large clean plate (or your deviled egg plate if you’ve got one.
-To the yolks, add the Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, salt & pepper, then mash and mix until blended and smooth. Very smooth. If the mixture seems a bit too dry, add a bit more mayo.
-Fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture by piping the mixture into the whites. I do this by putting the yolk mixture into a Ziplock bag and cutting a small piece off the corner (no more than ¼ inch), then using the Ziplock like a pastry piping bag (Don’t use a cheap sandwich baggie – it’ll split from the pressure).
-Sprinkle the filed eggs with paprika (generously, if your me…), then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Scottsdale reviews #1, PF Changs

The first night in Scottsdale, after traveling 1900 miles (and boy, were my arms tired), was a voyage to PF Changs . The chain's store that we visited was on the far west edge of the Kierland Commons. This particular store seems larger than the stores here in Columbus, Ohio, but the food was just as good.

Yeah, I kinda like Changs, especially the Ground Chicken and Eggplant. The online menu says it is "Stir-fried with scallions in a savory soy chili pepper sauce". It's pretty darn tasty, that soy chili pepper sauce...

We were 3 weary travelers for dinner, and after waiting a good half hour for a table on a Friday night (it was even after 9 PM!), we were quite ready to eat. We quickly decided on 2 of our 3 dishes. Jan chose the Eggplant Chicken and I chose the dish that Heather highly recommends, the Kung Pao Scallops. The third of our tired and hungry trio, Jeanne, had never been to Changs before, so she looked to our server, Misha, for a suggestion. He did not let Jeanne down, suggesting the Salt and Papper Prawns. After a delightfully short wait, our plates were served. We each had some of all 3 dishes ("Sharing is caring" as the server pointed out...), and overall, they did not dissapoint.

Although the Eggplant chicken didn't pack near the heat that it normally does at the Columbus (Tuttle) store does, it was warm and satisfying. The scallops were nice, too, though lacking the heat I would expect from something called "Kung Pao". They were cooked perfectly tender and moist, though, without a spec of toughness that has so easily ruined too many of these delicate bivalves. An' I do loves my scallops...

The last dish, the salt and pepper prawns were exactly as advertised and made for a nice balance to our meal. the "sweet mustard sauce" served with the prawns lent more heat than we expected and went well with the scallops, too.

I think Jeanne had the best result at Changs for the night, though. She was not a fan of "chinese food" when we walked into the restaurant, but decided that she could easily go into the Changs in her hometown in Wisconson and enjoy almost anything from the menu now. A very successful journey.

Moral of the story: P.F.Changs is a safe place to visit when you're in another city. The food isn't spectacular, but it is good, the prices were EXTREMELY reasonable for the Kierland Commons area, and staff friendly and helpful. If you like it hot, though, be sure to ask for it.

Oh, and one other thing that I noticed... The hostesses are quite pretty (and very young) at all of the PF Changs I've been to, but at the Kierland store in Scottsdale, ...well, I'll just say WOW and leave it at that...

Go, and enjoy,

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dinner reviews coming...

I've been at a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, staying at the beautiful Kierland Westin and enjoying many of he area's best restaurants. I'll be posing my take on each of the nights' meals in upcoming posts. So far the meals have been from:
P.F. Changs (ok, it's a chain, but it was our first night in town, very late and we were really hungry...)
Bobby's, A Mancuso Restuarant
Michael's at the Citadel (catered by them while we dined in the Pavillion at Teliesin West)
Zinc Bistro
The Old Town Tortilla Factory
and there are still 2 more wonderful meals left.

Tonight is the big conference party, the "Cherry Blossom Ball". Our music will be provided by the best rock and roll band in the entire feakin' universe, Rockola, and they're going to have their enire 10 piece group with them. We usually only have the 4 main guys (Bob Tedde, Doug booth, Mark DeCerbo and Larry Grano), and they always put on one hell of a show. Tonight should be spectacular. We're also hoping Doug Booth's son, Cody the Roadie is back... Check out their website. they've got oodles of fun pics from their many gigs.

The food has been fantastic and the company has been great. I'm here with hundred's of wonderful people from all over the US, Canada, UK and Europe, great people that I don't get to see very often. Great food, Great company - I'm a lucky guy this week. It almost makes up for missing my family. Almost, but not quite. I'll be home soon sweetheart. I love you and miss you.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Jones Soda - photo submission

I've submitteed a photo to Jones Soda to see if I can get it on one of their bottle labels. take a look, vote for it if you like, and tell me what you think!

You can see and vote on it by going directly to it:
Boogie on the Jones Soda Gallery .

Boogie on Jones?

You can also find it indirectly by going to
then searching for 623253

Thanks & Wish us luck!