Water/Melon/Thyme

April 27, 2011

No, no, no. . . no watermelon here. Just some naturally flavored water to keep ya cool as this week heats up! Lemon water is yummy…but oh so boring. You can try cucumber water as well, which is amazingly refreshing. This is a unique way to flavor water that is delicious. Try it!

Ingredients:

  • Pretty Pitcher
  • Fresh Chunks of Cantaloupe
  • 3-5 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
  • Drinking Water, or Fizzy Water for FUN!
  • Ice
Combine and store in refrigerator.
Enjoy and keep cool!

Make-Ahead Pasta Salad

April 25, 2011

This is a very easy pasta salad recipe that works great as a make-ahead lunch/dinner for a busy week. I prepare the ingredients and combine them straight into tupperware containers to store in the fridge. This pasta salad is great COLD, which is nice for us AZ peeps as the weather heats up.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Fusilli Pasta, or ANY kind of pasta you wish.
  • Rotisserie Chicken, breasts and dark meat chopped
  • Artichokes, 1 can drained
  • Baby Spinach, 1 large package
  • Garlic, 3 heads crushed
  • Italian Dressing, 3 tablespoons

Method:

  • Cook pasta as directed by package. Strain and place in tupperware and let cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, sauté crushed garlic with a little bit of olive oil in a pan. Add spinach until wilted down. Let cool.
  • Chop artichokes and chicken.
  • Combine all ingredients into tupperware and add italian dressing, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Eat and/or store.

THAT RHYMES! Oh, yeah!

This post was inspired by my brother, Jon. He, along with the rest of my family, is kinda weird. We desire delicious and some-what sophisticated fare, while doing very UNsophisticated things. . . like playing beanbags or bowling. I guess what they say is true about not being able to take the “small town” out of the guy.

Last weekend, my brother brought over some goodies for us to snack on while we awaited our BBQ’d deliciousness and it inspired this post. Everyone needs a go-to appetizer serving dish, and the tools to pull together a quick a delicious App Tray. Once again, this is a blank canvas for you to create and switch up all the time.

I re-created an App Tray last night to celebrate the long weekend.

FIRST, get out your go-to appetizer serving dish. If at all possible, get ONE dish that has separators. This makes for EASY storage and clean up. I got this brushed glass serving dish for $9.99 at IKEA and it has come in handy many times.

NEXT, if you have time to plan out your App Tray, think TEXTURE. Crunchy, soft, savory, sweet, salty, flakey. Try to get as many complimentary flavors and textures as possible. Mix and mingle both sophisticated flavors and those that are comforting.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Marinated Artichoke Hearts
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Assortment of Cheeses
  • Baguette Slices
  • Flavored Crackers
  • Pistachios, Peanuts, Almonds
  • Marinated/Stuffed Olives
  • Salami
  • Prosciutto
  • Spicy Mustard
  • Hummus
  • Tepenade
  • Marinated Mushrooms
  • Endive Spears
Here is what I did last night:

Once again, my mom and I got this idea from a close friend and we could NOT resist making them for my Grandparents 70th Wedding Anniversary. Party favors can be hit or miss. . . and can most definitely be a waste of money. Edible party favors are almost always a hit. . . cupcakes, custom candy bars, white chocolate covered Oreos?!

These favors are so very easy, and delicious! Try them out at your Easter brunch/lunch/dinner this Sunday…

White Chocolate-Covered Oreo Favors


You Need:

  • Oreo’s, your choice in flavors and quantity!
  • White Chocolate Chips, 1 bag per regular size Oreo package (NOTE: You can also use the vanilla candy coating that is microwaveable in its own tray as seen in the images.)
  • Cookie Sheet, or cooling racks
  • Wax Paper, to cover cookie sheets- for easy clean up

Method:

Simply melt chocolate. If you are using white chocolate chips, melt using a double boiling system* as to not burn the chocolate. If you get the easy to melt vanilla candy coating, follow package instructions in the microwave or oven.

Grab some tongs and open up your Oreos. . . and DIP IN!

Roll Oreos around and then place on wax papered cookie sheets to cool. Let set for 12 hours before packaging.

For easy instructions on double boiling chocolate. . . click here.

To Package as Favors:

Choose a color-coordinated sheer fabric or pick up sheer, drawstring sacks at Michael’s or JoAnns. Place two Oreo’s in the fabric, tie with ribbon and add a tag for the occasion.

The favors are so delicious, I doubt they will make it out of the party without being devoured!


Mama’s Meatloaf

April 18, 2011

My Grandmother makes amazing meatloaf. I’m not a meatloaf fan, and I could eat this all day. So juicy and tastey I had to share her “dab & dash” recipe… which means, she doesn’t really know the measurements of the recipe, but this is as close as we can get.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Ground Beef, 2 lbs

Dried Onion, 2 dashes

Hunt’s Pasta Sauce, 26.5 oz can

Applesauce, 1 large jar

Brown Sugar, 1 handful

Eggs, 3

Saltine Crackers, 1/2 sleeve

Milk

Tomato Juice, 1 large can

Method:

In a small bowl, combine crushed up saltines with milk. Add enough milk to make a paste with the saltines.

In a larger bowl, combine ground beef, dried onion, milk-cracker paste, eggs, brown sugar, tomato pasta sauce, salt and pepper. Work with hands until all is mixed together.

Place mixture in a large oven-safe glass baking dish, or a large loaf pan. (You can divide mixture to make two smaller loafs). Form into a loaf.

Top the loaf with salt and pepper and the tomato juice. (Optional Topping: Top the loaf with strips of bacon to add additional flavor).

Bake on 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Now, like I said. . . this is an old fashioned “dab & dash” recipe, and in all honesty- the way I love to cook! But, beware and tweek seasoning as desired.

You can make these into meatballs, if you want!

Have fun!

**Foodie Friend features a fabulous home cook each month!

Name, Age, Current City – Karla Joy Saia, 28, San Antonio, TX

 

What’s your favorite cuisine and why? –Italian, because you can never go wrong with garlic and pasta…ever.

What is your favorite eatery in your city, and what do you like to order there? Mama Margie’s. It’s this little local chain Mexican Restaurant, and the Mecca of breakfast tacos, a San Antonio staple.

I usually order three – a bean & cheese, a bacon & egg, and a barbacoa (which I’m pretty sure is like pot roast with a cow’s head), all on fresh tortillas made right in front of you. The best part, though, is the salsa bar – at least five fresh salsas, jalapenos, cilantro, onion, pico de gallo…the WORKS! And all for about $3.50!

Do you cook often? Inspiration? Yes! Moving to Texas without knowing very many people gave me the time and opportunity to develop a hobby, and since I needed to eat anyway, cooking was the logical choice. I was inspired first out of necessity – I could NOT continue to eat all this Tex-Mex and BBQ (as much as I would have liked to) without packing on some serious LBs. But also, it was a way for me to feel close to my mom – she is an AMAZING home cook, and I wanted to have something I could share with her, even 1,300 miles away from “home” in San Diego. Truly, though, whomever I am cooking for is my inspiration. What does he or she like? What will leave everyone full with smiles on their faces? THAT’S my inspiration.

Most frequent go-to item when cooking? – EVOO, baby! But actually, I have a holy trinity I always keep on hand – olive oil, garlic, and kosher salt. I firmly believe you can build a solid foundation to any number of delicious dishes with these staples.

Why did you decide to share this particular recipe with us? – In San Antonio, food with Latin flare is everywhere, so I wanted to pay homage to those flavors and the classic chile relleno while keeping it healthful and simple.

Your number 1 rule while cooking – KEEP IT SIMPLE! A few high-quality ingredients, a couple solid cooking techniques, and a chef’s knife are all you need. Also, always have fun!

If you were on LOST and the hatch was filled with only one food…what food would you want it to be? Julio’s corn chips. If you’ve never had them, try them and you will know why.

When you think of your childhood, what did it taste like? Big Sticks (cherry-pineapple popsicles) with my dad by the train tracks at sunset in Riverside, and carne asada burritos after summertime swim practices in San Diego. Bliss.

Foodie Friend Recipe

Charred Stuffed Poblanos

We are lucky to have a gorgeous assortment of peppers year-round here in San Antonio, but Poblanos are pretty much omnipresent, flavorful, mild, and cheap! I got two for 88 cents at my local market – and you will most definitely want two to yourself once you’ve tasted this recipe (adapted from Mark Bittman’s in the Food Matters Cookbook).

Servings: 4

8 large-ish poblanos
1 cup chopped nuts or seeds (or both)
1 cup chopped scallions
1 cup dried currants (you can use any dried fruit here, but I like currants because they are small. This way, if you prefer just a little sweetness, you can use fewer and it will be more subtle)
1 cup crumbled queso fresco (this was good, but I think feta or cotija would be just as good. Feel free to use any cheese you like or have on hand, though.)
½ cup fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)
2 quartered limes, for serving (optional)

Move your oven rack to the second-highest level, and pre-heat your broiler (you can do this on a grill, too).

Leaving the stems on and the poblanos intact, make a slit down the center of each poblano. You want enough room to core/seed and stuff, but the smaller it is, the less mess you will encounter while roasting.

Spoon out the core and as many seeds as you can. Brush the peppers lightly with olive oil, and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Toast nuts/seeds on medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are just brown/golden and fragrant. Watch them closely, since they can burn quickly.
Once nuts are toasted, remove them from the heat and add scallions, currants, cheese, and herbs. Stir to combine and soften.

Stuff each pepper w/approx 1 cup of stuffing. I find using your hands for this is easier than any sort of kitchen gadget.

Place under broiler for just under 10 minutes, using tongs to turn occasionally until the peppers are soft and skin is blistering or charred. You can serve immediately, or, if you don’t like the skin on your roasted peppers, wait 5 or 10 minutes and the skin will peel right off.

Squeeze lime juice over peppers. Serve with rice and/or beans if you like. Enjoy!

Just like my Ahi Tuna recipe, my Chicken Packets are blank canvases just waiting for a creator! This recipe was created because of the amazing Spring-like weather that hit Arizona these past few weeks. My herbs that previously fell victim to freeze, burst back to life and I am in over my green thumb. I know it is just a matter of time til they all combust from the AZ heat, so its best to use them up!

After a weekend of fun and FOOD, I really wanted to create a clean and healthy dish . . . thus, I present you with

KF’s Torn Tarragon Chicken Packets

Ingredients:

  • 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (preferably organic, free range)
  • Fresh Tarragon, 1 large handful
  • EVOO for drizzling
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 4 Large, square sheets of aluminum foil

Method:

  • Heat grill (or oven) to medium-high
  • Drizzle EVOO on aluminum foil square
  • Place chicken breast on top of EVOO
  • Drizzle EVOO on top of chicken
  • Dash with salt and pepper
  • Tear one full sprig of tarragon and place atop chicken breast
  • Finish with the zest of 1/4 of the lemon
  • Close up and form a packet
  • Grill for 18-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through

Serve with organic polenta and green side salad.

KF Money Saving Tip

April 2, 2011

Trying a new recipe is exciting, but you don’t want to take a huge hit in the ole pocketbook for an undetermined outcome. Spices can be costly! Especially if you are buying ones that you are not using often.

Here is a simple KF Tip to save a little change: Hit up the Hispanic Foods isle. You can get small portions of spices for as little as $.80

SO AFFORDABLE

In the standard spice isle, you can pay upwards of $4-$8 . . . and sometimes that just isn’t what’s in the (recipe) cards!

Check it out before you check out.

Fiesta Fried Chicken

March 31, 2011

For my “other half’s” birthday this year. . . he requested FRIED CHICKEN. Oh Lordy! I feel pretty passionate about the way I like my Fried Chicken, even though I have never made it myself. I HATE when you eat Fried Chicken and it just tastes like bland grease. That is the worst. So, I wanted to make sure this was some good ole BIRTHDAY FRIED CHICKEN.

I remembered a Mexican Fried Chicken recipe I saw on The Rachael Ray Show a few months back that I wanted to try and never had the time to execute. This was the perfect opportunity.

At the birthday chicken fry, we offered both Mexican Fried Chicken and Southern Crispy Fried Chicken for a fun little taste test. This twist on Fried Chicken was a HUGE hit with our 20 family members. . . but I will say my Mom’s Southern Crispy Chicken held its own. I will share that recipe with you sometime soon, I promise.

You can see RR’s full recipe and method, here – but I wanted to tell you what I liked about the recipe, and what I will do differently next time!

The RR recipe is on the left, and my changes will be next to each ingredient in BOLD...

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Mexican honey, plus some for drizzling   KF- I used Agave Nectar instead
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar  KF- Definitely a keeper. This made the chicken very tasty!
  • 2 large pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken breast, each cut in half across the breast to produce 4 pieces similar in shape and size to thighs KF- Went skinless. Also cut breast in half to speed up cooking time.
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on pieces chicken thighs
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on drummers
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil for frying, such as soy or canola
  • 4 extra-large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal or fine breadcrumbs     KF- Used cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ancho or medium-heat chili powder, a palmful KF- Would increase by 25%
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika, half a palmful
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/3 palmful    KF- Would double
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion, 1/3 palmful    KF-Would double
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/3 palmful
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/3 palmful
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish

Preparation

Mix honey and vinegar in a bowl and add chicken. Toss to coat and marinate 4 hours. Drain chicken pieces on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  KF:Used Agave Nectar instead of honey. Marinated for 6 hours.


Heat 3 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Oil should reach between 350°F and 375°F for frying.

Beat egg whites in a shallow dish. Combine cornmeal or breadcrumbs with flour, baking powder and spices.

Coat the chicken pieces in the egg whites then toss in the flour mixture.

Fry in small batches, 12-14 minutes per batch, until deep golden and juices run clear. Season hot chicken with a little extra salt as they come out. KF: Chicken needed almost 17-20 minutes for doneness. AT LEAST.

This is a finished batch, resting on an opened brown paper sack. The sack helps to collect the grease. Not super pretty, but hey…chicken fries aint pretty!


Serve with lime wedges and hot sauce. I couldnt even snap a picture without people reaching for more chicken. SUCCESS!

This Weekend: Take-Out

March 25, 2011

A good pizza pie is hard to find. Man, that sounds like a 50’s song. . . but it is SO true. Ive been to New York and Italy, so finding good pizza in Arizona can be a feat. Of course you can wait in line at Pizzeria Bianco for 22 hours and have a good slice, but let’s be realistic here, people.

In my search for deliciousness, I seem to have the most success at the mom & pop pizza shops around town. Recently, I tired this East Valley eatery and was VERY excited!

Nicantino’s Pizza, in Gilbert is authentic and fantastic!

The best part about the pizza was its perfectly baked crust. Bubbly, with a slight crisp when you bite into it. The toppings were fresh and well-cooked, and the sauce was delectable on its own! Our pie was topped with ham (browned perfectly), spinach, garlic, and mushrooms. YUM!

Their rewards program is as “schtick-y” as it comes….Collect 10 poker chips, get a pizza for free! Love it.