Wednesday, September 30, 2009

U-Pick Apples

Friends went to an apple orchard to pick their own and brought us a few, too. These apples are GIANT. They're a whole meal, not a snack.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Colder Weather = Hot Lattes

Colder weather is moving in this week, so time again for hot, homemade lattes - instead of iced. I like a tiny bit of caramel sauce in my homemade version, and extra foam. I use a Starbucks Barista brand machine we purchased 8 years ago, and it still pulls beautiful shots with plenty of crema.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fry Bread Tacos

I tried out a variation on one the recipes in "Tastes and Treasures: A Storytelling Cookbook of Historic Arizona." These are tacos on "Navajo Fry Bread," as served at Cameron Trading Post, located near the east end of the Grand Canyon, north of Flagstaff. Ground turkey, rinsed pinto beans and taco seasoning for the basic filling. The fry bread recipe in the book was a little dry, so I added about a 1 cup more milk than indicated.
7 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
Mix dry ingredients and add milk and water to make a dough (I added more milk because the dough wasn't coming together). Take a ball of dough and roll out thin to taco shell size desired. Fry in 375 degree oil until one side is golden brown, then turn over to finish (this takes just a few minutes total). The bread has a crunch, yet is still flexible for tacos. One piece, I topped with butter and powdered sugar and served to my daughter as a treat.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Deep-Fried Macaroni and Cheese

This is deep-fried macaroni and cheese. Really! An appetizer we ordered recently at the Cheesecake Factory. I have no idea if it's truly "fried," or prepared some other way. The cheese balls are served on a bed of some type of ketchup sauce.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tiramisu in Hiding

Hiding under all that whipped cream: tiramisu. This is the dessert we shared at our recent Cheesecake Factory dinner. Weird, I know, that we ordered this and not cheesecake. I do admire the restaurant's whipped cream machine. It serves up these pillowy mounds just like a soft-serve ice cream dispenser. Yes, it was all good.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Caramel Chicken

Dinner at the Cheesecake Factory last night. Quite a few new items on the menu since our last visit, and they FINALLY have a Kids Menu! This is caramel chicken. Ignore that big lump of rice, I think it was really just a decoration. As you might guess, it is a sweet sauce, but not sticky - tangy, with a hint of ginger. The chicken is lightly coated and crisp, and the carrots and green beans were crunchy, too.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Onion Rings

I mentioned in yesterday's post that the beer batter for fish is also good for onion rings. I did just a few last night to go with the fish, but really, it was just too much "fried stuff" - although, they were good!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Homemade Beer-Battered Fish

After some disappointment in ordering beer-battered fish at a local eatery, I battered my own last night. I cut up cod fillets into smaller pieces, roughly all about the same thickness, and dipped them in the batter below. This batter also yields awesome onion rings, and I've modified it in the past to do finger steaks, too. Use a deep-fryer, or 3-4 inches of oil in a heavy duty pan, heated to 375 degrees. A mixture of peanut and vegetable oil works nicely.
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon of powdered sugar
then season to taste with white pepper, granulated garlic, paprika (or maybe seasoned salt instead of all of that)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup maybe more, of dark beer or hearty ale
Whisk everything together to make a stiff batter - maybe add a bit more ale, if needed. Pat fish dry, dip in batter and drop in oil. The fish cooks in 3-5 minutes. When the outside is golden brown, they're done.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sugar Shrimp

Part of a quick dinner night last night. Raw tail-on shrimp quickly fried in about two tablespoons of peanut oil. I used to always use butter, but grabbed vegetable oil by accident one time and liked it better. Rinse the frozen shrimp under cool water until thawed. Then, toss the shrimp with a little bit of table sugar. That helps balance the natural salty flavor and gives the shrimp a light caramel crisp when doing the quick saute in oil. These are good cold, too, if you want to use them in a salad.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sesame Salad

The sesame salad I ordered at our weekend lunch at Bittercreek Alehouse, downtown Boise. I like the idea of this salad - lots of fresh veggies. The dressing was too oily for me, though. The strips on top are fried won ton strips, and this salad also had slivered toasted almonds and toasted sesame seeds.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fish and Chips at Bittercreek Alehouse

My daughter had asked me to please make my homemade fish and chips soon, and since "soon" is not yet on my menu planner, we stopped by for sidewalk dining at Bittercreek Alehouse, downtown Boise, over the weekend. Perfect weather for it, too. They do a beer battered fish that I thought was similar to mine, but it wasn't. Theirs is loaded with more herbs and the cod sure is sliced thin. There is also a Panko-type crumb in the batter. "Thumbs down" was the review from my second-grader. I guess I'll have to put my homemade version on the calendar. (I've featured my beer battered cod here before, and I'll post again when I fry them up)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Boise State University Bronco Doughnut

I ordered a box of assorted doughnuts at Krispy Kreme for my daughter's tea party yesterday afternoon, specifying that at least three of the doughnuts have "sprinkles" on them. And all three sprinkle doughnuts were Boise State University Bronco Colors. Friday was a game day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Taste Test: Schwan's Apple Strudel

A gift from Schwan's for me to taste test: apple strudel. Just because it was free doesn't mean I won't be honest, by the way. This strudel is a freezer item. Bake on a baking sheet at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes, then let it sit for ten minutes and squeeze the icing packet over the top. There is a traditional pastry crust, topped with a thin layer of apple filling and then graham-cracker like crumbles over the top. It smelled heavenly. It tasted far too sweet, the apple filling was suspiciously gelatinous, the pastry portion was soggy and there was a disturbing fake-y lemon aftertaste. No, I wouldn't recommend this dessert. With Schwan's, though, go for an ice cream treat and you can't go wrong!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eek! Red Potatoes and Leeks

This looks yummier than it was. It's red potatoes and leeks in an au gratin-type sauce. Sliced red potatoes layered with sauteed leeks and garlic. Cream, salt, and white pepper whisked together poured over the layers, and topped with Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and baked for about an hour. I don't think there is any fault in the dish, just my taste buds. I always THINK I like leeks, but there hasn't been a single time when I've eaten them, whether in a potato dish, or soup, or salad, that I've thought they were delish.
I was careful to soak the chopped leeks in cold water to get all the grit out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tomato-Cucumber-Corn Salad

Still eating goodies out of the backyard garden! This summer salad is: cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers and corn. Diced green peppers would be good, too. Toss the vegetables in a dressing of mayonnaise, minced garlic, white vinegar, white pepper and a little salt - all to taste. I also added a little shredded pepper-jack cheese.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dive In! Cherry Tomato Salsa for Dinner

A batch of cherry tomato salsa pre-cilantro, and the flavors were so good with this latest crop of cherry tomatoes, I didn't even add the usual cilantro. I ate this salsa for dinner with a side of tortilla chips.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Taste Test at the New Chili's in Meridian

We popped into the new Chili's location along Eagle Road in Meridian. I cannot believe how many eateries there are along that road now! This is my husband's lunch, a "tripler" appetizer platter: southwestern egg rolls, buffalo bites and Big Mouth Bites (cheeseburgers). The egg roll got the biggest kudos and the avocado ranch dipping sauce was very good. This Chili's has different decor than the Boise locations, and the seating is more stacked together. We used to be big Chili's fans, but we had stopped going there for a number of years when the waitstaff started dressing in the style of "rear-end cleavage" and bared bellies. That seems to have disappeared...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Teriyaki Steak and Chicken

Using up stray pieces of meat from the freezer was the goal for this meal. One bone-in rib eye, one boneless rib eye and one chicken breast. I marinaded the steaks in Mr. Yoshida's with extra honey and garlic, and used the same marinade with fresh lime juice for the chicken. I sliced up the meats and served them on a bed of jasmine rice.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Caprese Salad

Another use for the bounty of fresh garden tomatoes: Caprese salad. Fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil (it came from the garden, too), and coarse sea salt. This salad is sometimes also drizzled with olive oil. Assemble and let it sit for 20 minutes or so for the salt to soak in and the basil to flavor everything.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Grilled Cheese and Tomato in a Pre-Panini World

Sliced up one of the tomatoes in the garden bounty basket featured yesterday for this sandwich. I like to brown both sides of the buttered bread before adding cheese, and Kraft singles melt the easiest for quick meals. Earlier this year, we went to the Carnegie Deli in Las Vegas and my step-mother ordered a grilled cheese with tomato sandwich, which I had never thought to make until that day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Garden Bounty

Backyard tomatoes. We eat them like apples this time of year, and the texture and the taste make it easy to remember that tomatoes are classified as a fruit. Caprese salads on the menu this weekend.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chicken Salad with Peanut-Cilantro Dressing

Shredded chicken, canned corn, rinsed kidney beans, diced tomato and yellow bell pepper (both from the garden), and shredded cheddar-jack cheese tossed with peanut-cilantro dressing to add the green tinge and zing. A perfecto summer salad. The peanut-cilantro dressed was a gift. They sell it at the Cheesecake Factory and serve it on their Santa Fe salad.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Simple Side Dish from Tater Land

Rosemary roasted potatoes. These are Yukon gold potatoes. They're not quite as starchy as our traditional Idaho russets and the texture is creamier. Russets are fine for this recipe, too. Dice the potatoes and toss them with enough olive oil to coat. Spread them out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and don't be stingy, potatoes need a generous salting. Add a tiny bit of granulated garlic and rosemary to taste. My family likes rosemary so I don't hesitate. For rosemary haters, dill works well, too.
Roast at 375 degrees, stirring them around once or twice until they are nicely browned.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Zucchini Saute

No butter needed to get this nice caramel-brown on fresh zucchini and summer squash. I sprinkled them with shredded Parmesan when they were just about done cooking.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sausage Gravy Secret

I cooked up a large batch of sausage gravy over the weekend. I put some in the freezer, and the rest was for a big biscuits and sausage holiday weekend breakfast. When I've finished the gravy, I always add about a half cup of maple, or maple-flavored, syrup.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pears in Puff Pastry

We have literally hundreds of these pears on our tree this year. I've never been quite sure what kind of pears they are. They are the type that doesn't ripen on the tree, I know that. They ripen weeks after they're picked. Since these are not truly "ripe," but they fell off the tree yesterday, I used them like apples.
This is one half of a sheet of puff pastry. I sprinkled sugar and cinnamon over everything and baked until brown and puffy. They tasted like apples to me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cheater Caesar

Although my dad makes the best home-made Caesar salad dressing, I didn't inherit the talent. But I do know how to make a passable imitation. I put one minced garlic clove in the bowl first. Then add Romaine and toss with the minced garlic. Cherry tomatoes are fresh out of the garden beds for this lunch salad. Lots of grated Parmesan cheese and then...and then...Ken's Creamy Caesar salad dressing. It's one of the cheapest dressings on the store shelf and it's my favorite. I used to be a Cardini's fan until Ken's became available in our area.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jamaican Jerk Spices

Do a quick search about Jamaican jerk seasoning, and plenty of recipes pop up. My spice mix is a cheater mix. The ratio is half Jamaica Me Crazy brand pepper and half Jamaican jerk seasoning from Cost Plus. I stir up big batches because when I use the seasoning, I use a lot.
About a half-cup of the spice mixture went into this batch of sliced, sauteed chicken, with some zucchini thrown in. I let the chicken cool and tossed it with corn, kidney beans, sliced cherry tomatoes, cucumbers. shredded Monterey-jack cheddar and ranch dressing. This chicken is also good wrapped in a warm tortilla with lettuce and cheese.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Comfort Food

After a couple of "blah" restaurant experiences recently, it was a comfort food night. It was also a night when I didn't have much time for dinner prep. This is simple spaghetti meat sauce (simmered from a packet in the freezer, recipe here) over angel hair pasta and a slice of garlic bread. We also had a small side Caesar salad. What's your comfort food?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tortilla Soup and Jalapeno Corn Muffin

A quick trip for dinner away from home...and disappointing. We went to Goodwood, which is normally one of our favorite places because it's dependable. I ordered a cup of "Mike's tortilla soup," which is hiding under the tortilla hats. Bland. It came with a Caesar salad that hadn't been properly tossed, so the dressing was in globs when it could be found.
This is the chicken salad. Very large breaded chicken strips on top of greens, corn, cucumbers, red peppers, red onion and tomatoes. My husband wished he had ordered his "usual" chicken sandwich. But in both photos, take a look at the corn muffin on the side. That was the best part! It's a jalapeno corn bread muffin served with honey butter.