31 March 2010

Urban Garden

Unfortunately, I don't have a new recipe for you today. What I do have are pictures of the awesome herb garden my mother-in-law and her husband made for me. Hubby's step-dad made this herb box in less than an hour with some extra wood he had lying around. It's 4 feet long, 3 inches wide, and 4 inches deep. He and my hubby then spent today making two more of these bad boys since his mom and I bought way too many herbs to fit into the first one. There are still a few more herbs that we couldn't find that I'll be able to fit into one of the two new ones (I'm looking at you sage, parsley, and cilantro).

My MIL also bought us two different Topsy Turveys. One is for tomatoes and the other is for strawberries. We planted heirloom tomatoes for now and will probably get a second one next summer for regular tomatoes. I had never even heard of the strawberry one until she was telling me about it ont he phone. that thing holds up to 30 plants! We just went with the minimum 15, but next summer we're going all out and doing 30.

Hubby went out yesterday and bought a flower Topsy Turvey that is meant to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. He also bought a hummingbird feeder. He found some really pretty geraniums that look healthy and are a lovely shade of pink. There is one more TT that I saw that is meant for peppers, but since neither of us are really into peppers too much, we didn't get one. We've also got these really fun dragonfly lights that really make the balcony feel like a garden. Enjoy!

29 March 2010

Poor Hubby

The past couple of weekends I've been noticing that my hubby has had the sniffles. I asked him if he was getting sick and his reply was that he works in a freezer. True, hubby of mine. I let the matter drop (ok, I didn't really since I teased him about being Mr. Sniffles for the past week while gently suggesting he might want to take some medicine). You see, hubby works for the man stocking frozen foods for shipping to grocery stores. He spends roughly 40-50 hours each weekend, Saturday through Monday in the freezer. Anyone would get the sniffles doing that, but since my hubby is a man's man he doesn't think it could possibly be that he's getting sick. Today I received a phone call at work from my darling to please pick up some medicine. He never asks for medicine so I know he's really not feeling well.

To go along with his medicine, I picked up what i would need to make him some chicken noodle soup (I'll be eating grilled cheese since I'm not really a fan of this particular soup). I also made him some hot tea with honey and lemon. We're just going to spend the rest of the evening on the couch while the poor guy sniffles into his tea. I'm even going to let him have control of the remote (if he doesn't want to watch RuPaul's Drag Race, I'm not going to force him to tonight). What do you like to watch when you're sick?

Embarassing as it is, the only thing I ever want to watch when I'm sick is Barbie movies. I'll even admit to owning the entire collection of Barbie movies. I won't apologize for it either, even after my sister texts me to tease me relentlessly for letting the whole world know. With that, I leave you with this simple recipe. Mr. Sniffles and I are going to get lost in some Dr. Who.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Recipe by me (not that it's really a recipe since you just throw in the amounts you want)

Chicken broth
Bay leaves
Egg noodles
  1. Chop the veggies into small pieces.  Place veggies and broth in a large pot and bring to a boil. While the veggies are cooking, cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces and cook until all sides are white. Add to the broth. Add a sprig of thyme and a couple of bay leaves. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the egg noodles and allow to cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.

25 March 2010

Pretty Bad News

So I got some bad news today via my dad. I'm not really at liberty to discuss it at the moment, but it's definitely made me not care too much about getting this recipe posted. So here are the pictures along with a link to the recipe (edit: ok, I couldn't link to it since it's not from an actual magazine like most of the recipes on Tastebook so I've copied it down for you). My aplogies to you all, but know that if it wasn't breaking my heart right now, I'd have something much better to write. I hope you've had a better day than my family.

Fontina Rissoto with Chicken
Recipe by Tastebook

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2½ cups arborio rice
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup coarsely grated fontina cheese, plus more for garnish
8 ounces deli-smoked chicken breast, diced (about 1¼ cups)
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

  1. Bring the broth and 4 cups water to a simmer in a saucepan; keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and thyme; cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Ladle in the hot broth, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly, allowing all of the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is just tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Remove the thyme. Stir in the parmigiano, the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, ½ teaspoon Kosher salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in the fontina and chicken. Divide among bowls; top with parsley and more fontina.

23 March 2010

Blood Oranges

Awhile back I came across a recipe for clementines preserved in honey. I've never had a clementine. I don't think I've ever even seen them in real life. I ripped out the recipe making a note to try it if I ever do come across the little orangey fruit. Another fruit I've never tried or even seen was the blood orange. Imagine my surprise when my local grocery store had a mountain of them just hanging out in the produce section.

I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do with them when I bought them, but I knew that there were plenty of recipes out there for this interesting orange. Named for the dark red flesh hidden inside the mottled skin, blood oranges are a definitely an interesting fruit. For a week the oranges sat in my trifle bowl on my table with some lemons, limes, and kumquats. I don't know what reminded me of the honey preserved clementines, but I just knew it would be perfect for the blood oranges. How right was I! The trecipe even suggests using them as a variation (it also suggests meyer lemons which I'm hoping to get my hands on in a month or two).

My oranges still have a few more days before they can be eaten, but I'm already thinking about the many different ways I can enjoy them (and with a whole quart of them sitting in my fridge, there are plenty of ways for me to enjoy these sweet little citrus treats). The recipe suggests cutting them up and serving with yogurt or adding them to frosting for a cake. There are many other ways Fine Cooking suggests eating them, but I'm hoping to make a rustic tart with some soft whipped cream. Enjoy!

Honey-Preserved Blood Oranges
Recipe by Fine Cooking, adapted by me

1 cup honey
1 cup granulated sugar
5 whole cloves
2 green cardamom pods (I didn't use these since I didn't have any on hand, but next time I'll be using them)
1 4-inch cinnamon stick
1-1/2 lbs blood oranges, sliced into 3/4-inch-thick slices

  1. In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 1 cup water and the honey, sugar, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon stick to a boil o ver high heat (be sure to really watch it during this stage as it will boil over fast; I almost started a fire in my apartment).
  2. Gently slip the blood orange slices into the liquid without stirring. If any pieces are mostly rind, place them rind side down. Return to a full boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat, keep covered, and set aside overnight, at least 8 and up to 12 hours.
  3. Spoon and gently pack the slices into a 1-quart canning jar. Bring the syrup in the saucepan back to a boil over medium-high heat; boil for 3 minutes to concentrate the flavors.
  4. Pour the syrup over the slices to cover; discard any excess syrup. Cool to room temperture. Seal and refrigerate for at least a week before using. The oranges should keep for up to 3 months. 

18 March 2010

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

They're probably picturing you naked (that was on a card my mom had when I was younger, still cracks me up everytime Ithink about it)! But seriously, if my Irish eyes are smiling, it's probably because I filled my belly with some amazing Irish food. I hate to brag, but the Beef Braised in Guinness I made last night was probably one of the best things I've made in awhile. The Irish Champ that accompanied it easily was the second best thing. My soda bread was a little off, and the whiskey cake was denser and fruit-cakey than I would have liked (I got a pretty cool picture out of it though). Three out of four though isn't bad, and my guests and hubby really liked everything but the cake.

I'm just going to keep this short and sweet since it's past my bedtime. Super simple recipe, very flavorful meat, four very happy people. Enjoy!

Beef Braised in Guinness
Recipe by The Little Book of Irish Family Cooking, adapted by me

1 1/2 lb top sirloin roast
A glug or two of olive oil
10 green onions
 3 large carrots
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 Tbs fresh thyme
1 1/4 cups Guinness (just dump the whole bottle in, but not if you bought the extra stout)

  1. Chop the onions and carrots and set aside. In a large pan, sear all sides of the roast in the olive oil. Move the meat to a plate and saute the onions and carrots until slightly browned.
  2. Place the veggies into your crock pot then place the beef on top. Add your salt and pepper to taste, thyme, and Guinness.
  3. Set the crock to low and cook at least 6 hours. The meat should fall apart when you try to remove it from the pot. 
This is the picture of the cake shortly after it came out of the oven, really the only decent shot I got

16 March 2010

Gold at the End of the Rainbow

I'm a day early for St. Patrick's Day, but that's because we had Irish food last night and will be revisiting the cuisine of the Emerald Isle tomorrow night. I wanted to share this dish with you while I'm taking a break from prepping for tomorrow night's feast (hey, I told you the Irish blood lives strong in me). I've been baking a whiskey cake and getting things ready for tomorrow. My mom and college roommate will be joining the hubby and I for a feast fit for Brian Boru.

Dublin Coddle is one of those dishes that if you've never heard of it before, you're going to scratch your head trying to figure out the name. One of my coworkers asked what I was eating at lunch today, and when I told her she just stared at me like I was speaking Gaelic (and for all I know, coddle could be Gaelic). It's made with bangers and rashers, or suasage and bacon (but more like ham here in America) and also potatoes, onions, and sometimes parsely. I found the recipe in two of my Irish cookbooks and just went with the slightly simpler recipe (slicing instead of dicing, plus the other called for an apple which I didn't have), but I think the other cookbook is the more traditional version.

I wish I could have gotten better quality sausages, but what I had was still pretty good. I completely forgot the parsley and should have used more salt. This was really good though and even better the next day, especially with all my coworkers salivating and staring greedily at my lunch. On another note, these are the first pictures on my new camera. Still not the greatest pictures, but I am trying and hopefully after my class this summer it'll be much better.

Dublin Coddle
Recipe by Irish Food & Cooking

8 1/3-inch thick ham or dry-cured bacon slices (we had just some thick-cut deli ham that tasted excellent)
8 best-quality lean pork sausages
4 large onions, thinly sliced
2 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced (you know mine weren't peeled)
6 Tbl chopped parsley
Salt and ground black pepper
  1. Cut the ham or bacon into large chunks and cook with the sausages in 5 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes (I just used enough water to cover the meat in a large stock pot). Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Put the meat into a large stock pot with the onions, potatoes, and parsley. Season and add just enough fo the cooking liquid to cover. Cover with a tight-fitting lid; lay a piece of buttered foil or baking parchment on top before putting on the lid (I used all of the liquid plus a little, and I only used 3 small onions so you may need more if you follow this exactly).
  3. Simmer gently over a low heat for about 1 hour, or until liquid is reduced by half and all the ingredients are cooked but not mushy. Serve hot with the vegetables on top.

15 March 2010

Lady Rhubarb Strikes Again

I love rhubarb. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that I'm a rhubarb freak. Rhubarb tart? Yes please. Rhubarb jam? Definitely! Rhubarb swizzle stick in a rhubarb flavored soda? Uh...sure. My best friend even calls me Lady Rhubarb (and she is Lady Sassafras, but that's a whole other story). I only know one other person who loves rhubarb more than me (not saying that there isn't someone else out there, just that I only know one). My buddy from the liquor store, J, is always begging me to bring him samples of anything I happen to make with rhubarb in it. He's even got a couple of special requests for when the season finally arrives in Oklahoma (Rhubarb-Mulberry Pie just like his grandma made).

Of all the "foods that aren't part of the food group you think they are," rhubarb is by far my favorite. Most people when asked if rhubarb is a fruit will say, "What's rhubarb?" But the rest of us would probably say, "Of course. It's used in pie, isn't it?" It's sort of like tomatoes. It's used primarily as a savory ingredient so we associate it with vegetables even though we know it's a fruit. Rhubarb is so often used for sweet dishes, even though it can be extremely tart, that it's usually associated with fruits. Here's a helpful hint if you're ever having the great fruit vs. vegetable debate (even if it's only with yourselfm I promise I won't judge you): if it has seeds on the inside, then you've got a fruit (that means avocados are also a fruit).

Now I know it's not rhubarb season yet (so close!), but this past weekend while getting some groceries for St. Patrick's Day I spied a bucket of rhubarb sitting in the produce section. It was calling to me. "Hey! You with the frizzy red hair! Take us home and make something sinfully delicious with us." Well, alright! I started thinking about the different recipes that I wanted to tackle with my lovely red stalks. I was looking at past recipes done by fellow bloggers and came across a fairly recent recipe done by Tartelette. Then I was immediately transported back to Scotland where I had the most amazing rhubarb crisp the world has ever known. I used Tartelette's Red Berries and Rhubarb Crumble as a guideline to get started but made my own version of the Scottish dessert I had back in November. I also wanted to keep it a little familiar and used my mom's recipe for the crisp topping (I'm sure it's the same as almost everyone else's, but it's what I grew up with and love so I'm using it).

Rhubarb Crisp
Recipe by Tartelette, my mom, and me (inspired by a recipe from Scotland)

For the topping:
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon (next time I'll either do cardamom like Tartelette or ginger just because)
1/2 cup butter, cut into 8 pieces

For the filling:
4 cups fresh rhubarb
2 Tbl cornstarch
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbl honey

  1. For the crisp topping: Place the sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Add the butter pices and cut it into the dry ingredients using either a pastry blender or two knives (or you could do it the classy way and just use your hands like me, just work quickly so the butter doesn't melt; if it gets too soft, just pop the bowl into the fridge before topping).
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. For the filling: First peel the rhubarb and then slice into small pieces (use a peeler very gently so you don't pull too much flash away from the stalks).  In a large bowl, add the rhubarb, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest, and honey. Stir until well mixed being careful not to toss pieces out of the bowl (hey, it happens).
  4. Divide the mixture into ramekins or a 9x13 pan. Place an equal amount of the crisp topping on each serving. Place the crisps in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the filling starts to bubble (I started out at 20 and ended up at almost 40 minutes and still didn't end up with the coloring I wanted on top). Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or vanilla custard (my favorite).
On another happy note, I got a new camera so my next recipe will have pictures from that. I know they won't be much better, but I'm enrolling in a photography class this summer to help me learn how to take better pictures. So hopefully soon I'll be bringing you much better pics.

11 March 2010

Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pies

Can I tell you a secret? My weakness is frozen dinners. I could eat a frozen dinner every day for breakfast (I even did that for about a month). Every meal could come out of my freezer, and I would be insanely happy. One frozen meal that I just cannot eat is the potpie. I remember eating them as a kid, and I'm pretty sure that I liked them. Nowadays though, the thought of eating a potpie makes me sick (I think I can blame this on my aversion to raw dough and how the pie crust always seems doughy; it's why I won't eat dumplings either). Luckily for the hubby, Jamie Oliver has a wonderful "almost" potpie.

I say almost because it only reminds me of those offensive frozen dishes. Jamie's British Beef and Onion Pie is everything that meat pie should be. Filled with yummy veg, high quality ground beef, and an assortment of fresh herbs and fun British condiments (hey Anne, guess what they started selling at my grocery store...yeah, Marmite). Thankfully my personal sous chef did not have class tonight so he was able to get all of the chopping done fairly quickly.

Just as an extra special tip, don't roll your pie crust too thin. Because of my aversion to doughy things, I rolled mine pretty thin (the recipe does say 1/8-inch which is pretty thin as it is). Needless to say my crust was more of soppy mess. It still tasted good though.

British Beef and Onion Pie
Recipe by Jamie Oliver

3 medium onions
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 lb good-quality ground beef
1 tsp English mustard
1 tsp Marmite
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 qt beef broth
2 x 9-inch pie crusts
1 large egg, beaten or a splash of milk
  1. For the filling: Peel and roughly chop your onions, carrots, and celery. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stalks and chop finely. Place a large casserole-type pan on high heat. Add 2 lugs of olive oil, all the veg, the rosemary, and the bay leaves. Stirevery minute for around 10 minutes or until the veggies have softened and lightly colored. Stir in the ground beef, breaking up any large chunks with a wooden spoon. Brown. Add the mustard, Marmite, Worcestershire sauce, and 2 tsps of flour. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer with the lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring every now and then to stop it from catching.
  2. To make the pie: Fill a large baking dish with the beef filling and allow it to cool down. Remove the pastry from the fridge 10 minutes before you need to roll it out. Preheat the oevn to 350F. Dust a clean work surface and your rolling pin with some flour and lay the pie crustsone on top of the other, then fold in half and roll out the pastry to 1/8-inch thick. Once it's large enough to cover your serving dish easily, wind the pastry around the rolling pin and unroll it over the dish. Run a knife around the edge of the dish to trim off any excess pastry. Using a fork, press down around the edge of the pastry to "crimp" it. Make a hole in the middle of the pastry using the tip of a knife. Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg or a little milk. Bake on the bottom shelf of the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the pastry if golden and crisp.
Thank you, Anne, for the Marmite!

08 March 2010

Bon Voyage Honey Mim!

Tomorrow my baby sister will fly across the country to get ready to take a class that will give her a license to teach english as a second language. I think she's hoping to be able to go to France to teach since she has a degree in French, but I know she'd be happy going just about anywhere as long as it's not Oklahoma. Anyway, to bid her a fond farewell, we had a going away party for her at my parents' house. My mum made cheese enchiladas three different ways (YUMMY!) and had burrito and taco fixins. I was asked to bring dessert.

When I asked Hoeny Mim what she would like she wasn't entirely sure. We discussed different ideas and came up with crunkcakes (aka cupcakes made with alcohol). Since we were having Mexican food we decided to have Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream. Since it's one of her favorite alcoholic drinks we knew it would perfect. We also knew my dad wouldn't touch these so I also made Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cupcakes with PB Buttercream (I'll give you that recipe in my next post).

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream
Recipe by RecipeGirl


9 ounces liquid Margarita mix (a little over a cup; I used the strawberry mix)
3 ounces tequila (a little less than 1/3 cup)
¾ ounce Grand Marnier
1 box white cake mix (next time, I might try it with a scratch recipe)
3 large egg whites
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs lime zest


2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), at room temperature
5 to 6 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp grated lime zest
green food coloring, if desired
small lime slices for garnish, if desired
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two dozen cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. Prepare cupcakes: Whisk together margarita mix, tequila and Grand Marnier in a small bowl. Measure out 1¼ cups for the recipe; pour the rest on some ice and drink it while making the cupcakes.
  3. In a large bowl, blend cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, lime zest and 1¼ cups of the margarita mix from step 1. Blend on low for about 30 seconds and then increase speed to medium and blend for two additional minutes. Batter will be slightly lumpy.
  4. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners (about ¾ full). Bake for 20-25 min, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pans, then remove them to a rack to cool completely.
  5. Prepare icing: Once cucpakes are completely cooled, prepare the icing. Place butter in a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until butter is fluffy. Add 5 cups of powdered sugar, salt, lime juce, and lime zest. Mix until thick and creamy. Add more powdered sugar until the frosting is of a good spreading (or piping) consistency. Mix in a tiny amount of green food coloring or gel paste if you’d like the frosting to have a green tint. Ice cupcakes in whatever manner you prefer… spreading or piping the frosting. Use small lime slices as garnish.

03 March 2010


Sorry about the lack of posts. Unfortunately it's going to continue until at least Sunday. Tax season has been kicking my bum at work (and we haven't even been that busy). That's been causing us to eat out an awful lot (which is not helping my eating healthier goal). I hope to have the time to actually cook somtime this weekend so that I can give you all a good recipe but no promises just yet (although, I do have a family get together on Sunday so maybe I'll bake something fun for my sister's going away party and get that posted).