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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tchertma - Zucchini and Eggs

Every once in a while someone comes into your life whose taste is so very similar to yours that it's almost eerie.  Connie is one of those people.  He says he knew he'd found the right one when he opened the meat drawer in my fridge and it was filled with about 20 kinds of cheese.  LOL, we do love our cheese.  Christiane from Taking On Magazines, aka The Mom Chef, is another of those.  Over the years I must have tried a dozen recipes from her blog.  Every last one has been wonderful.  Our very favorite (and one of our top five salads) is her cucumber/herb/feta salad.  In fact, as I type this all the ingredients are happily nestled in my fridge awaiting their preparation.  During the summer it's a wonderful way to use our cucumber harvest.  During the winter I can close my eyes and imagine summer!

Because I know our taste is so similar, I knew I'd have a terrible time choosing a recipe.  I did.  I decided that I'd go to family favorites first.  Christiane is of French and Armenian descent so I figured I'd find some fun Armenian recipes in her family recipes section.  I did.  But, I also found too many to count others that I wanted to try.  The old saying your eyes are bigger than your stomach?  Well, my file folder was bigger than my time or energy OR my stomach.  Such wonderful choices.  Lasagna D'Italia.  Made with béchamel the way I remember the best lasagna I've ever had.  Side note - it was at a pub in Cork, Ireland.  I know, last place you'd expect but it was magnificent.  Four chicken recipes called my name.  One with a juniper berry/gin/cream sauce.  My goodness but that sounded magnificent.  Cognac glazed.  Honey ginger glazed.  Hubby Doug's favorite chicken rolls - his mom's recipe.  Then, there was the moussaka.  Eggplant is one of our favorites so that was a strong contender.  Pickled beets with star anise.  I can taste that one!  Finally, I came down to two choices.  Spiced lentils with poached eggs and Tchertma
- zucchini and onions with an egg on top.  I'll admit I was hungry for an egg.  And, both of these recipes had eggs on top... 

What did we think?  Connie's exact word was unexpected.  I know.  Not a word you normally associate with tasting a dish for the first time.  At least I don't.  But, I felt the same way.  This is pure comfort food.  The zucchini is wonderfully soft.  The onions add a lovely subtle flavor.  And, the eggs are perfect.  This is the kind of dish that you get home from the office bone tired and wander out to the garden and pick a couple of zucchinis and dinner is ready in a few minutes.  Of course, this time of year the garden is not quite producing and a trip to the grocery is in order - lol. I think I need to go to Christiane's for about a week for Armenian cooking lessons! 

Now, along with the Tchertama, Connie decided we needed a cocktail.  An Armenian martini, no less:

Since it's once again time for the Blogger C.L.U.E. Society, that means all the wonderful bloggers below have hunted for other fabulous recipes on their assigned sites.  We're trying to do something with potatoes.  So, I served this with a lovely dish of rosemary potatoes:

Here's where you can see Christiane's blog:  Tchertma

And, here's how you make it


1 T butter
1 small - medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 zucchinis, cut into coins
4 eggs


Melt the butter in a medium skillet on medium heat.

Add the onion and sauté until it's softened. 

Add the zucchini and cover it for about 15 minutes.

Crack the eggs on to the top of the zucchini. 

Cover and cook until your eggs are your preferred doneness. 

Here's a list of the other bloggers:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Negroni for Valentines Day

Happy Valentine's Day a couple of days early!  This month our theme for the Blogger C.L.U.E. Society is red.  In honor of Valentine's Day, of course.  I had a lot of fun rummaging through my assigned blog, Confessions of a Culinary Diva.  It wasn't easy to find something red.  And, I was regularly distracted by posts of wonderful things that weren't red...  The pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe is first on my list.  Followed by spice crusted tuna, duck breasts with pomegranate and pumpkin and Italian sausage pasta.  Actually, truth be told, the sausage is already cooked for both of the pasta dishes...  And, I've got a can of pumpkin in my next week's stack of canned food to use up.  Broccoli rabe is on the grocery list.  So, I'm good to go!

Christy lives in Palm Desert, CA.  One of my favorite cities.  She's a banker and a blogger.  Kind of the numbers/creativity thing that I work with.  There is one funny story about her blog.  I saw a title with Downton in it.  Not being a tv watcher, I assumed there was a typo and it should have been Downtown.  Um, no, it's the tv show Downton Abbey.  So, thank you Christy for a fun and enjoyable time perusing your blog!

If you're wondering who the other Blogger C.L.U.E. members are and what they made, please take a look at the bottom of the blog.  Every month I pretty much cook my way through about half of the wonderful recipes!

Now, let's talk about this recipe.  Connie's made me a negroni before.  I wasn't terribly fond of it.  So, when I read Christy's post and found her suggestion to squeeze a bit of orange juice into the drink, I had to try it.  She also recommended using a better quality sweet vermouth.  That I could do if only my local liquor store stocked one...  Our joke is that we'll stop by Kahn's and see what they don't have...  Well, we finally made it north to Vine and Table on our way to the theatre.  A liquor store with inventory.  Shocking.  Good sweet vermouth and Campari were now ours.  Once home from the theatre, Connie unloaded the car from our Trader Joe's, Sam's, World Market and Vine and Table shopping extravaganza.  I put everything away.  Finally it was time to fix cocktails and relax.  Ahhhhh, lovely.  Christy was SO right about the squeeze of orange.  I actually added the juice of about half an orange.  Now, I have a Negroni I like!  Happy Valentines Day!



1 oz Campari
1 oz gin
1 oz sweet vermouth
juice of 1/2 orange (optional)
orange slice


Mix and shake in a cocktail shaker.  Serve with a slice of orange.

adapted from Confessions of a Culinary Diva

Participating Bloggers:

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Wing Nut Dip

We've not been home to cook.  True, last weekend I made a big pot of chili and another of ham and beans.  Those are frozen for lunches.  Friday night we went to Actor's Theatre to see 39 Steps.  If you're familiar with the Hitchcock movie, think the movie turned into a slapstick comedy.  Our friend, Don Farrell, who is the artistic director of ATI says he had about 20 costume AND character changes.  Yes, it was hysterical.  My face hurt from laughing.  Saturday was a MOPS party.  That's a family birthday party.  I took corn salad and creamed corn.  Both recipes have appeared on the blog.  In fact, the corn salad one was one of my first.  I realized when I went to get the link that there aren't even photos back then...  Then, Sunday was a Super Bowl party at Deb and Ken's.  AH HA!  I cooked.  I made a new dish!!  Whoo Hooo!  So, what was it?  Wing Nut Dip.  Yeah, I made up the name.  Made up the recipe too.  You see, there's a recipe for cream cheese, blue cheese and pecans that I love.  That got me to thinking about wings.  Super Bowl=Wings, right?  How could I do a blue cheese dressing/wing sauce cracker spread?  So, I started tossing things in the mixing bowl.  And it turned out pretty well.  Pretty well except for the fact that we were out of crackers and I had to bum some from Deb because the streets were too nasty for shopping and going to a party...  So about that photo I took???  You mean the one with the lens mostly closed?  Yeah, that one...  No, it's not here.  It's deleted...

Monday afternoon we got a dreaded call.  Our friend Ellen had died.  She and Charlie live in Memphis.  She'd been doing battle with breast cancer for 15 years.  Last May we drove through Memphis when we drove back from a conference in New Orleans.  Dinner with Charlie and Ellen was the goal.  They met us at Corky's.  We had such a wonderful time.  Connie looked at me and said he'd really like to go to her funeral.  Knowing I'd like to go I'd already checked and replied that it was a 7 hour, 21 minute drive.  The decision was made.  We were going.  Tuesday morning we were up at 5am and on the road about half an hour later.  We got to Memphis in time to have a late lunch before the funeral.  I'd printed a list of potential restaurants.  Alcenia's for soul food won.  Did it ever!!!  Perfect fried chicken, mac and cheese and green beans.  YUM!!! 

The leftovers went into the cooler in the trunk.  Now, you know if we were going to Memphis we were going to have barbecue to bring home.  And, a cooler is the way to do it!

The service was amazing.  We were SO glad we'd driven down.  Two of my colleagues were also there.  You see, Charlie and Ellen were colleagues of ours for many years.  When I went back to my original broker/dealer in August of 2013, they stayed with the new one.  But, we kept in touch.  Grant is at the original b/d with us and Joe is with Charlie at the new one.  It doesn't matter.  We're all still family!  After a gathering at Charlie and Ellen's house, Connie, Joe, Grant and I headed to The Commissary.  The line was out the door.  What should we do?  In typical Grant fashion, he said, 21 minute wait and we go elsewhere.  19 and we stay.  Joe ran in and asked.  20 minutes.  What should he do?  We waited.  And, am I ever glad we did.  Connie and I split the ribs for two.  They came with cole slaw, beans and deviled eggs.  The ribs were perfect.  The rub was amazing.  If I wasn't trying to clear out the pantry, I'd have bought some.  After the kitchen is done, I'll once again stock up on fun stuff like The Commissary rub!!

Wing Nut Dip
8 oz cream cheese (I used reduced fat everything...)
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c crumbled blue cheese
1/2 c pecans
1 T Emerils seasoning or Cajun spice
1-2 t Chipotle Tabasco sauce (depends on how hot you like it!)
Start the pecans toasting in a small skillet.  While the pecans are toasting, whip the cream cheese.  Whip in the mayo, sour cream, blue cheese, Chipotle Tabasco and Emeril's.  You could easily substitute wing sauce, Tabasco and/or chipotle powder.  Remove the pecans from the heat and chop them.  Stir them into the cream cheese mixture. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas and Chicken Tortilla Soup

Hotel gift shops tend to be terribly overpriced.  But, that was my only choice last week.  We'd flown to Palm Springs for my broker/dealer's investment advisory conference.  Talk about the luck of the Irish.  Connie'd bought the tickets for 6pm instead of 6 am.  That meant we'd get in AFTER the conference had started.  Turns out we had an ice storm in Indy so we had a better shot at getting out at 6pm rather than rescheduling from the cancelled 6 am flight.   Once we landed in Palm Springs, Connie started talking about In and Out Burgers.  Animal style.  With special sauce and sautéed onions.  Thank you to my wonderful friend Robin for teaching me that trick!  Even at 10 at night the burgers were wonderful.  The fries, not so much.  But the burgers, really memorable!  Then we were off to the hotel where we pretty much tossed our suitcases on the floor and crashed.  The keynote speaker the next morning was one of my all-time favorites, David Kelly.  He's an economist who's originally from Ireland so he delivers his analysis in the most delightful brogue.  Four pages of notes and an hour later, we were ready to dig into the breakout sessions.  Over the one and a half days, we did ten sessions.  Only one was a clunker.  The second morning the keynote was Brian Billick.  One of the stories he told was of having to cut guys from the roster prior to the season opener.  He realized about halfway through cutting a fellow that he was in the midst of cutting a guy he wanted to keep.  So, he pointed his finger at him and said, "Now, you know what it feels like to be cut.  I don't ever want to see you in here again.  Get out there and get busy!" 

Tuesday evening after drinks in the lobby bar with our friend Windus (who was VERY comfy - lol,)

we went to a lovely restaurant called Cork Tree with our friends, Nadine, Helene and Nadine's hubby.  Talk about perfection.  The service was great and the food was fabulous.  If we lived nearby we'd be regulars.  We all started out with duck confit tacos.  Then, Connie and I split scallops with a heavenly lemon risotto and a duck breast with a wild mushroom risotto.  It was amazing.  Our incredible waiter, Michael, suggested a bottle of Patz and Hall Pinot Noir.  That will become a regular with us!

Dinner was early and the sun was still out so we enjoyed another glass of wine on our balcony.  Here's the view:

Wednesday morning during one of the breaks, I headed to the Marriott's gift shop.  I'd seen some cookbooks in the window so thought I might just find something I'd love.  Ten cookbooks later and they were all overpriced and I wasn't excited.  Then, I saw the one by Donna Kelly called Quesadillas.  Still a bit overpriced but it did look really good.  So,  I bought it.  I was a couple of seconds late to the session taught by the chief legal officer of the holding company.  Who I've known for years and who greeted me by name as I slunk into my seat...  Sorry Gerry!  It was all I could do to leave the cookbook in the bag and listen.  I'm glad I did because Gerry did a great job of presenting.  Afterward Connie came up and laughed and said, "Cookbook."  Like this is a surprise!

From the conference we headed out on a Desert Adventures Tour.  Turns out there's an 840 acre ranch a bit northeast of Palm Springs that's used for these San Andreas Fault tours.  There's an oasis, a recreated Indian village and lots of fantastic rock canyons.  We tasted several of the plants that the Indians would have used as one of their primary food sources.  Fascinating.  Bonnie, out tour guide, was a wealth of knowledge.

see the line going across?  those are coyote tracks

that's palm fruit hanging down.  tastes just like dates!

water on the oasis

After that, our friends Gerry and Edna (who live "next door" in Yucca Valley) met us for dinner at a local Italian restaurant.  It was so good to get to spend time with them!!!

Thursday, we had breakfast at the hotel then walked the grounds.  Along the way, we met the fellow who owns the hawk who scares away the pesky birds like the sparrows who will swoop down and steal diners food! 

Then, we were off to Indy and freezing temps once again.  But, it was good to be home and see our furry kids and get back in the routine. 

Tuesday, I tossed a couple of chicken breasts in the crockpot with about half a cup of water.  About 10 hours later, I put them into a refrigerator container.  Finally, Friday, we were home for dinner.  It was time to try one of the quesadilla recipes.  I started with the bbq chicken one.  Now, we always have a ton of cheese on hand.  Not so much Friday.  No smoked cheese.  None.  It was time to improvise.  Instead of smoked gouda I used about half queso fresca and half extra sharp cheddar.  I also sautéed the red onions for a bit to soften the flavor. I'd highly recommend doing that.  We gave these quesadillas a five out of five.  And, a different quesadilla recipe is on the menu for next week!

The second chicken breast went into chicken tortilla soup.  Actually, truth be told, 2/3 of it went into the soup.  The other third was Connie's lunch.  You see, he's having a colonoscopy and was allowed plain chicken and cottage cheese for lunch.  Yum, huh?  I'd been reading Pioneer Woman's latest cookbook and it had a tortilla soup recipe so I decided that'd be a great place to start.  And, I'm glad it did because it was wonderful!  I made a couple of changes to the recipe.  First, I added a splash of lime juice.  Then, instead of the Rotel tomatoes, I used some leftover salsa.  I used the broth from cooking the chicken and added a couple of cups of water along with a bit of chicken Better Than Bouillon.  And, I left out the tomato paste and cornmeal.  LOL, I know.  Connie's going to faint if I ever serve him a dish made exactly as the recipe is written.  Now, one note, the recipe looks a bit intimidating given the long list of ingredients.  Just make sure you've got everything chopped and your mis en place ready to go and it'll come together in no time flat.

Barbecue Chicken Quesadillas


1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/3 c barbecue sauce (we use Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 c thinly sliced red onion
1 t olive oil
1 T olive oil
1/4 c minced cilantro
4 c grated smoked Gouda or an equal amount of crumbled queso fresco and sharp cheddar
4 10" flour or wheat tortillas


In a small skillet, sauté the onion in the olive oil.  Once it's softened, toss it with the chicken and barbecue sauce.  Lay two of the tortillas in a large skillet that's slicked with about half a tablespoon of olive oil.  You'll want half of each in the skillet with the other half hanging over the edge.  Put 1/8 of the cheese on each tortilla.  Then top that with 1/4 of the chicken mixture on each.  Then, top with another 1/8 of the cheese and 1/4 of the cilantro.  Fold the other halves of the quesadillas over.  Once the bottoms are crisp and browned, flip the quesadillas and cook the other sides.  We didn't garnish our with anything but the recipe suggests you could use a sour cream paprika sauce or a white cheddar sauce.  As far as I'm concerned, these are perfect just the way they are!

adapted from Quesadillas

Chicken Tortilla Soup


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (poached and shredded or use a rotisserie chicken and shred the breast meat)
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t garlic powder
1 T olive oil
1 c diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c diced green bell pepper
1/4 c diced red bell pepper
10 oz can Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
4 c low-sodium chicken broth
3 T tomato paste (I omitted this)
2 t lime juice
4 c hot water (I added water and Better than Bouillon)
1 15 0z can black beans, drained and rinsed (the recipe called for two)
3 T cornmeal (I omitted this)
5 small corn tortillas (I used a handful of Tostitos Scoops, crushed)
diced avocado
diced red onion
sour cream
chopped cilantro
shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese


Ree's recipe calls for baking the chicken after drizzling it with olive oil and sprinkling some of the seasonings on it.  You can do that if you've got the time.  I didn't and it was just fine.  So, I started out by putting the broth, shredded chicken, seasonings, salsa (in place of the Rotel tomatoes,) and black beans in a big saucepan.  Then, in a medium skillet I sautéed the onion, garlic and peppers in the olive oil.  Once they were all softened I added them to the soup and heated everything through.  After the soup was in the bowl, I added the splash of lime juice and garnished it.  That's a bit more cumin on top of the sour cream. Here's how the soup went together:

adapted from the Pioneer Woman Cooks, Food from my Frontier

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ramona's Mini Cinnamon Rolls

I'm not quite sure where to start here.   Grandkids or curry?  Well, let's just start with curry.  It's not something I'm terribly fond of.  I'll put it in chicken green bean casserole or chicken salad with a bit of chutney.  But, a full-on curry?  Not so much.  One of the few things that's just not a favorite.  Now, keep in mind that I make the assignments for the Blogger CLUE Society.  Every month we're assigned a fellow blogger and asked to choose a recipe to make and post about.  It's a fabulous group of bloggers so I always love reading everyone's posts.  And, I get a LOT of great ideas for future meals.  Last month we stopped at the store and bought the things I needed so I could make one of the recipes that very night :-)  When I make the assignments, I decide up front what the formula will be.  Then, that's the way it is.  I don't look at the list.  I don't choose who I'd like to have.  I just pick a formula like one has six, two has seven...  So, this month I got a blog titled Curry and Comfort.  My heart sank.  I'd have to fix curry and blog about it like I liked it.  But, I'd soldier on and do it for the group.  Then, I started reading Ramona's wonderful blog.  It's not all curry.  In fact, a huge percentage isn't curry.  There are TONS of wonderful recipes there.  I had a list of fun things to try.  We were heading to Columbus over the holidays to see our kids and grandkids.  And, Ramona has some great kid friendly recipes.  One in particular caught my eye.  Our munchkins love sweet rolls.  They would love these mini cinnamon rolls.  So, Ramona, thank you so much for a fun morning with my grandkids.  They came in the kitchen all tousled and barely awake.  And, they left with full bellies from a fun meal!

Ramona from Curry and Comfort is delightful.  She's originally from Sri Lanka but has spent most of her life in the US.  It's no wonder she's got great recipes for kids since she's got two of her own.  And, like me, she collects cookbooks.  My hubby would be SO happy if I only had 400 like she does.  Last count I had about 1200...  One of the things I like about Ramona's blog is that she doesn't just do photos of the finished dish.  She shows you along the way what the dish looks like.  And, she uses some convenience foods for those of us who are crazy busy.  One of our differences is that she loves spicy food and I'm not a huge fan of anything spicy.  So, instead of making her Asian Apricot Chicken Wings and taking the heat out, I focused on the recipes I didn't need to change thanks to me being a wimp!  But, I am so going to make those wings later.  And, just a note her, according to my friend, Christiane, Ramona has some fabulous curries on her blog.  Hopefully, you're a fan of curries and will go try some.  And, I promise, some day soon I'll try one myself. 

I'm going to let Rosie and Bradley show you how:

Unroll the dough from a can (or two - these don't last long) of crescent rolls.  Lay the two pieces out on a silpat or your very clean counter.  Press the seams together. 

Melt a tablespoon or two of butter (you'll need about one per can.)  Then, brush on the butter.  You see we didn't have a brush to a spoon worked just fine.

Sprinkle the dough with cinnamon and sugar and roll the dough up lengthwise. 

Cut each roll into eight rounds.  Put the rounds on a baking sheet cut side up.  Bake according to the package directions.  While they're baking, make some powdered sugar icing.  Pour about a cup of powdered sugar into a bowl.  Add about a quarter of a teaspoon of vanilla and a tablespoon of milk.  Mix well.  The kids did a magnificent job of sharing their tasks.

It should be easily drizzled.  If it's too runny, add powdered sugar.  If too thick, add milk.  Once the rolls come out of the oven, drizzle them with the icing.  Now, the trick is to keep everyone from snitching one so you can actually serve them with breakfast.  That's the reason for the second pan of rolls!  There's the finished product - with one missing already! - along with homemade sausage and quiche. 


Now, here's a list of the other bloggers who are participating this month.  Please stop by and visit them.
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