Sunday, July 31, 2011

Under Construction~ Please be patient!

I'm working hard!
If you have any tips or suggestions, feel free to email or contact me on Facebook.
I'd like to thank And Then I Ate It for the help that I couldn't even Google to find!

Now maybe I can concentrate more on cooking and sharing recipes rather than the technical side!

Hugs and Chocolate kisses!
(Get it? When Salad Met Bacon, Saly? Sally? No? Okay.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dirty Black Bean Acini Di Pepe

 I will never pass up a 1.20 package of gizzards again. Aside from the trimming, this made a most fascinating, unusual, and yummy dish! And so cheap! And the possibilities!

First, the trimming of these things took the longest, unless I'm missing the trick to this (probably) trimming thing. All I know is you need to trim off all the white parts, connective tissues and green parts or your dish will be bitter.  Kitchen scissors are a blessing with this little, time consuming chore. My suggestion is get this out of the way, and freeze them until you want to use them.

I love the earthy, simple taste and slow warmth of this dish, mixed with the creamy texture of the black bean. Some may prefer more heat, if so, add a bit more cayenne to suit your tastes.

It's also great topped with your favorite hot sauce, or topped with salsa and stuff into a tortilla, or piled onto a bed of crunchy, fresh lettuce!

On to the recipe!
  • 2  1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup Acini di Pepe
  • 1/2 pound, or so, package of chicken gizzards, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic, or 1 raw clove minced well. Depends on your love of garlic.
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  •  1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme, rubbed between your fingers
  • 1/8 plus a dash, cayenne 
  • 4-5 rubs of a nutmeg on small grater (dash)
  • about 1 cup of thin sliced green onions, including a bit of the green too.
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Asiago on the small grater.
First bring 2 cups of chicken stock to boil, pour in the Acini, give a little stir and turn heat down to a med heat so the Acini is gently boiling. Stir occasionally while preparing the black bean and meat mixture.

Then take your trimmed gizzards and pulse in a food processor. I used a smaller blender for this chore, because it was a small amount. Less dishes- the happier the cook! haha
Whizz the gizzards for 2 or 3 minutes, the texture will resemble fine ground meat.

Gosh, all that work trimming and whizzing, just for about a cup of meat. But it was worth it in the end! Next time should be quicker. I plan to do this step ahead of time and freeze it.

Heat a large pan on medium-high heat, and add the veggie oil and the whizzed gizzards, and a sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper, stir around until they're starting to brown good; then turn heat down to medium and add the chopped onions, celery, a sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper, the remaining spices, roasted garlic, if you're using it (if you're using raw, wait) and 1/2 cup of chicken stock.

 Stir and cook about 5 minutes, and when the onions start to turn clear, then add the raw garlic, if you're using it.  Stir and cook until veggies are tender and gizzard meat is cooked through, about 5 more minutes or so.
Turn heat down to a medium-low.
Add black beans, another sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper.
By this time, the Acini should have absorbed most of the liquid and is done. Do not drain. Dump Acini into black bean and gizzard mixture and mix together.
Cook about 5 more minutes or so, or until hot and most or all of liquid is absorbed.

Top with Asiago and sliced green onions, give a toss and serve with salsa or hot sauce!

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Roasted Corn Acini di Pepe

     If you have a non-rice eater in your house, like I do, Acini di Pepe is a great compromise. You have the flexibility of rice in a pasta! The possibilities are endless! (I feel like a commercial right now. I'm not affiliated! just like the stuff lol)

    • 4 cups chicken stock 
    • 1 cup Acini di Pepe (found in the pasta isle or maybe the Italian section of your grocery)
    • 1 (14.5oz) can carrots, drained
    • 1 (11oz ) can Mexican corn (corn w/red and green bell peppers), drained
    • 2 cloves roasted garlic, or 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or more if you're in love with garlic like I am)
    • 1 tablespoon margarine (butter will burn, oil will make it greasy)
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste) and some extra to sprinkle--literally just sprinkle. I'm not exact with my salt as everyone has different tastes or dietary needs when it comes to salt.
    • pepper to taste  
    Bring 4 cups of chicken stock (preferably homemade, it's richer) and about a half teaspoon of salt, if it's unsalted, to a boil in a med sized saucepan with a lid. A lid will get it to a boil faster.  Then add your Acini di Pepe and cook as you would any other pasta. A nice, soft boil and stir occasionally.
    Now, get a large skillet hot over medium heat, add your margarine and corn and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Give it a stir to combine the butter and corn, then just let it sit..while you go sit!  Just get up and stir the pasta and the corn occasionally. This will take 15-20 minutes or so.

    When the corn starts to turn golden and the pan is drier, and you're scraping some nice browning on the bottom of the pan, like this:

    mmmm...that's flavor right there!
    Your pasta should be done, or almost done! I taste to check--it's the only way. heehee.
    Add your garlic and mix it in real well, as much as I love garlic, I don't want to bite into a chunk of it.

    Add the carrots, sprinkle a little more kosher salt and pepper to taste.
    DON'T drain the Acini di Pepe. It should have absorbed most of the chicken broth by now. 

    Add it straight to your pan with the corn mixture, and stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper, if desired. Turn down your heat a little and cook & stir until carrots are heated and any leftover stock from the di pepe is absorbed.

    It smelled and looked so good, I forgot to take an after picture.  I remembered later when I was cleaning up and tossed the extra bbq chicken in the pan with it.  So please forgive the messed up looking chicken LOL 

    This is a side dish that compliments BBQ Chicken very well. I can also see it as a side to a creamy chicken dish, like the kind you make with mushrooms and cream chicken soup. LIGHTBULB! New dish! and I just made myself hungry again. :)

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
    After much agonizing over the loss of my old banana bread recipe, I started a new one, adding to what I could remember of the old one, and adding something new: mini chocolate chips! This is such a yummy, moist bread!  I can't wait to make another one without the chips and with some other ingredients added.

    I used something called a SilverBullet little mini-mixer thing my son convinced me to buy a few months ago, and I have to say, it has grown on me and I may love it more than my pesky blender that doesn't seem to do much better than a 20 dollar blender.  Did I say that? I'm sorry blender. :p

    Anyway, I took my bananas out of the freezer to thaw, then squeezed the insides out into this mini blender thing that I originally didn't want to buy (lol), and gave it a few whizzes. It took about 7 frozen, thawed bananas to make about 2 cups of whizzed banana.  It seems like a lot of bananas, but it really isn't if you consider that it always seems the last one or two bananas in a bunch start to go spotty and no one wants to eat it, so I toss it in a freezer baggie and throw it into the freezer. Better than throwing it away and having fruit flies until garbage day. ha!  You think I kid!

    So go thaw out your bananas, grab your blender or mini-blender because you'll want them more than just mashed, and take your eggs out of the fridge to come to room temp.  Ready? Let's make some banana bread, I'm hungry!

    • 1/2 cup butter, softened, don't use the microwave for this, just let it sit out at room temp until you can leave a squishy fingerprint, but the butter isn't melting all over the place.
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 2 eggs, room temp
    • 2 cups whizzed thawed frozen bananas
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    Grease a loaf pan with spray pam or similar.

    Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large glass bowl until smooth and light on med-high speed.
    Beat in eggs one at a time.
    Beat in bananas on med-low speed.

    In a smaller bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt, and dump into the wet mixture in the large bowl. Stir with large wooden spoon JUST until combined. You don't want to over stir.
    Fold in mini chocolate chips gently.

    Carefully pour into your loaf pan and bake uncovered for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Check about 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time and, if needed, cover with foil to keep top from getting too dark.  Uncover when you take it out of the oven to cool.

    Serve with soft butter warm out of the oven! MMMmmmm !!

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Buttermilk Cornbread

    Who says cornbread is just for cold weather and chili? I think it goes great with BBQing too!
    My son LOVES cornbread, especially with warm out of the oven topped with a pool of melting butter and honey!
    This is a sweet cornbread, but not too sweet, so you may want to increase the sugar to 3/4 a cup if you want it sweeter. This bread BEGS for honey, so don't forget to add that to your grocery list!

    Also, use a wooden spoon! I can't tell you why, but using a wooden spoon on baking recipes makes a big difference.   It really does! Try it. :)

    Oh, and about 20 or so minutes before you plan to make this, pull out a cup of your buttermilk and an egg out of the fridge to come to room temp.  It has to be room temp! I hear to quicken this process, you can put the egg in warm tap water for a couple minutes, but I haven't tried this. I'm afraid of coming out with a scrambled egg.

    On to the recipe!

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    Sift together in a large bowl:
    • 1 cup of flour
    • 1/2 cup cornmeal, yellow or white, I used yellow
    • 1/2 cup white sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt

    In separate smaller bowl, whisk together:
    • 1 cup of buttermilk, room temp
    • 1/4 cup veggie oil
    • 1 egg, room temp

    Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until JUST blended. It will be lumpy. Let sit 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, it'll have a fluffy feel to it. Give it 2 or 3 more gentle stirs.

    Pour into a greased (I use the spray Pam type stuff)  8x8 or so square glass baking dish, and bake in a preheated 400* oven for 15- 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top is golden.
    While it's still hot, brush well with butter!
    Serve warm with honey! (and more butter, if desired!)

    Good in any season, if you ask me! Goes great with a BBQ!

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

    If you don't already keep roasted red bell peppers and roasted garlic on hand, I suggest you take about an hour and roast some up to pop into the freezer and have on hand for recipes like this.

    Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

    • 2  (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans
    • 1 cup roasted red peppers with their liquid (jarred is fine)
    • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon (about one lemon)
    • 2 tablespoons tahini (found in Mideastern or peanut butter sections of your large grocery)
    • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • dash cumin (you may want a pinch more, I'm a wimp)
      Drain and rinse the beans.
    In a large bowl, under running water, rub beans between the palms of your hands as if you are washing your hands, the bean skins will rise to the surface of the bowl of water. The running water will help the skins slide off the top of the full bowl into the sink waterfall-style.  Slough off the bean skins best you can. This may seem a bit tedious, but makes all the difference!

     Toss beans into a food processor with all the ingredients but the olive oil, and process, slowly drizzling in olive oil until it's the consistency you like. I like it thick, but not so much to break the chips, I used about 1/2 cup.

    Taste for salt, cumin, or lemon. You may prefer more.. Play with it and make it your own. :)

    Roasting Red Bell Peppers and Garlic

    These are two awesome things to keep on hand in the freezer for cooking and recipes. Roasted red bells can be used in SO many things to add a wonderful flavor and roasted garlic, I almost always use my roasted garlic in place of plain minced...NOM! You may never use plain garlic again!

    Take as many red bells as you have, cut in half lengthwise, seed and take out stem and veins. Sprinkle with olive oil and kosher salt, place inside down on a foil lined baking sheet and pop into preheated hot oven. I put mine on around 400-450 degrees or so.

    Let 'em cook until your house starts to smell good and the bells are getting a black charred look on them. Just a little, not completely black. Depending on the oven, about 20-30 minutes or so. No real definite time on these, as all bells vary in size and thickness. Go by your nose, if it's good. :)

    Pop them into a bowl (with juice from the pan! Good flavor there!), cover with plastic wrap and let them cool to touch.

    Skins will practically slid off! Don't rinse or skin under running water, you'll lose so much lovely flavor!

    Give them a rough slice or chop and put into a freezer baggie and pop them (with their juice) into the freezer.
    There you have it! Roasted red bell peppers ready to go whenever you are. They thaw quick, or you can just cut off (easy when frozen) however much you want and toss into stews, chilis, just about any dish roasted peppers would enhance.  I'm addicted to these things!

    Now for the Roasted Garlic!

    Take off some of the papery skin on a head of garlic, but not too much, you don't want all the little bulbs to fall out yet. 
    Using a sharp knife, cut off about 1/3 of the top, place on square of foil, sprinkle with olive oil and kosher salt, scrunch up the foil around the garlic and pop into your hot oven.
    I usually do the red bells and garlic at the same time, though the garlic can take longer, sometimes as long as 45 minutes.

    It's done whenever your house smells goooood and the scrunched up pouch of garlic is squishy.
    Let cool and you can take the garlic and just squish out the insides into a freezer baggie.
    The frozen garlic is very easy to dip into without thawing.

    You can also add a couple sprigs of Rosemary in with the garlic, olive oil and salt, for Rosemary Roasted Garlic. Good in pork and chicken dishes.



    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Posting on my other pages

    I can't seem to post on my other page, the recipe page, where I want my recipe posts to go.
    After typing everything up, I'm not given the option as to which page I want my post to go. I also don't see an option to move my post to one of my other pages

    Can anyone help me out on this? Thanks!

    Creamy Tomato Basil Chicken

    Creamy Tomato Basil Chicken

    1 cup uncooked penne pasta
    olive oil
    1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in about one-inch cubes
    2 roma tomatoes; squeeze out pulp and chop tomato
    1 zucchini, quartered and sliced into half-moons.
    1/2 cup white onion, chopped
    1 teaspoon dried basil, divided
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    salt and pepper to taste
    fresh grated parmesan for garnish (about 1/4 cup)

    1 inch slice off an 8-ounce brick of cream cheese
    1 cup chicken broth (probably won't use it all)

    Cook pasta in salted water, drain (do not rinse), reserving about a cup or so if the cooking liquid, set aside.
    In large skillet, brown chicken in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stirring occasionally.

    Season with 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, half the basil, and salt and pepper to your taste.

    When chicken starts to turn a golden brown, but isn't done yet, add the zucchini and onion and turn heat down to medium-low, continuing to stir occasionally.

    Make a well in the center of the chicken and vegetables and add the cream cheese, stirring gently with a wooden spatula as it melts.

    Slowly add a bit of chicken broth while stirring, until the cheese is melted and has created a thick sauce with the broth. Adding too much chicken broth will make a thin sauce, so stop when it's a consistency you like. I like mine thick.

    Add remaining basil and more salt & pepper if needed.

    Turn heat to low. Add penne and tomato and stir everything together.

    *If your sauce is a bit too thin, or too thick tasting (not consistency, but taste), add a couple tablespoons of the pasta cooking liquid to thin the taste out. The pasta sauce will thicken back up, so a couple tablespoons won't ruin the consistency of your sauce.

    Garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese and serve with a tasty loaf of garlic bread!

    Friday, July 22, 2011


    I can't seem to add a 'like' button for you to like my page, with the same name, on Facebook from here.
    I'll figure it out eventually. For now, we don't really need that, do we? I'm sure you're all well aware how to find me on Facebook, should you choose to follow me from there too.

    Let me know if you have any suggestions for this page, as I'm new to this and am open to suggestions/how-to's.

    Edit: Ah-ha! Never fear, my little pine nuts! I have figured a way around it! I included a link to my Facebook page in my favorite links button.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Well here we are!

    This is the second blog I made.  I deleted the other and decided to go with this one. I think it's more simple and straight-forward.  Whew, what a long evening, but I didn't want to stop and forget things by morning. LOL

    I'm open to suggestions, as I'm new to the whole making a blog thing.
    I still don't understand how to add pages. I want to have a recipe button to click on with a list of my recipes. Hm.. well, I think this is enough for now and I'll read more in the morning.

    Yes, I'm the type to read the instructions AFTER beginning the project.  ;)

    EEeeiiii!! I found it! Just as I was hitting 'publish post,' I saw the sweet little 'edit pages' button! yay me!

    Now I really can't wait until morning! G'night!