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Monday, June 24, 2013

Arroz con Pollo

Do you realize in this huge collection of cookbooks that you don't have one Cuban cookbook?  My friend Raquel was perusing my collection.  She hit the nail on the head.  Other than one ill-fated attempt to make ropa Viejo and a successful attempt to make a Cuban Sandwich, I'd never really tried Cuban cooking.  Given her Cuban heritage, Raquel is a fabulous Cuban cook. 

We met for lunch not too long ago and Estefan Kitchen was her gift to me.  I put it in the stack of cookbooks to read.  I finally got it read.  Loved the recipes.  Then, I made the list of recipes to try.  Too many to count.  Finally, I got an evening at home and time to cook.  Arroz Con Pollo it was. 

Let's just say that if everything in this cookbook is as good as this dish, the cookbook will be dog-eared shortly.  YUM!  She assures me this is the real stuff.  She uses the recipes and they taste like her mom's cooking.  Even better.  I love making the real stuff! 

Now, we're dieting around here.  A recipe that calls for two chickens and four cups of rice and one green pepper and one onion is not a good thing for two people.  Consequently, I made some adjustments.  The veggie ratio went way up.  Connie's only negative comment was that he'd increase the amount of tomato sauce.  Well, I already increased it by four....  This reminded me a lot of a dish my friend Sally gave me the recipe for - in 1976.  Hers was Mexican rice and chicken so it didn't have the oregano, cumin, white wine or pimento.  I like this better because the flavors are far more complex.  This one will be a regular on our dinner table!  Nota bene:  As usual, I didn't follow the directions very well.  By doing so I managed to shave about 20 minutes off the prep time.  The directions below are how I made the dish...  f

Arroz con Pollo


2 chicken thighs, skinned, bone-in
salt and pepper
1 T olive oil
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 4 oz jar pimentos - do not drain
1 c converted rice
8 oz tomato sauce
1 13/75 oz can chicken broth
1 c dry white wine
2 t dried oregano
1/2 t ground cumin
1 c frozen peas


Pour the olive oil into a dutch oven or large skillet you can cover tightly.  Once the olive oil is shimmering, sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper then put them in skin side down.  Allow them to brown for a few minutes, then flip them.  Add the other ingredients except for the peas. 

Stir a bit and make sure all there's nothing hanging out on top of the chicken.  Cover the pot and simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked.  Stir in the peas and cook for another 5 minutes

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Pasta and Tomato and Goat Cheese Napoleons

This has been a wild week!

Connie played bridge Monday evening and I worked at home while listening to our neighbor, John, rev the engine on his dad's old truck.  The one he's rebuilt from the ground up.  I wasn't amused about my solitude being so interrupted.  But, John's otherwise a great neighbor so I kept my mouth shut...

Our yard guy finished the south side of the yard.  The side outside the big fence.  It looks amazing.  Next year we'll divide plants and get it green.  For now, we'll just enjoy the lack of weeds to fight!  Here's what it looks like:

 This is where I'll put all the hosta I divide...  That's a crabapple tree in the middle of the bed.  The neighborhood entry sign is the big white board.
 Lilies on the left, neighborhood sign on the right.
 Meandering along the way.  Fruit trees on the left.  Peach, apple, cherry, apricot and plum. 
 Drainage for our neighbor's sump pump
 Five apples - 2nd year.  40 peaches - 2nd year...

Tuesday I made a killer Arroz con Pollo.  But, you'll have to check back in for that recipe.

Wednesday we took a vacation day.  I didn't check email from the time I went to bed Tuesday til I walked back in the door on Wednesday.  164 new emails.  About 1/3 went straight to junk mail.  1/3 were quickly reviewed and deleted.  The other 1/3 need attention.  That can wait until Thursday. 

Where did we go?  Let me start by saying we've got friends and family visiting the Mediterranean, Budapest and Alaska right now.  We decided to go to Oxford.  Oxford, Ohio, that is.  I know.  Not quite like the Oxford you first envisioned, eh?   We toured some of the formal gardens at Miami of Ohio then had a fabulous lunch at the community art center.  Finally, we traveled to Middleton to see a stained glass studio.  Here are a couple of photos from the day:

Now, let me tell you about lunch. Talk about fabulous!  It was a salad buffet unlike any I've ever seen.  All specialty salads.  A chicken salad with herbs and citrus.  Couscous with herbs and tomatoes and feta.  Sweet potato and black bean salad.  And beets with curried vinaigrette.   Yum, yum, yum.  Here's what it looked like:

It was going to be a real challenge to beat that for dinner!  My chiropractor mentioned the other day that he loves to watch The Chew.  I am so jealous.  Michael Symon is one of my favorite chefs and I'd love to see the show.  I just work too daggone many hours...  Bruce raved about a mac and cheese recipe he'd seen.  When I got back to the office, I had to go look.  Ten minutes later and well into prior recipe lists I ran across one from Michael Symon.  We had all the ingredients.  It'd be perfect for after the trip. 

So, Connie's repeating the ingredients back to me and he adds in tomatoes.  No, I said, there aren't any tomatoes in this recipe.  But, you know we do have two to use up and I did read a recipe someplace that sounded really good.  I'll bet I can recreate it from memory.  The biggest problem is that I have no clue if it was from an email, magazine, cookbook or cooking show...  So, I have NO clue who to give credit to...

What did we think?  What a perfect summer meal.  The pasta was so light and so flavorful.  The tomato was pretty darned amazing.  All in all a meal that I could eat about once a week during the summer...

Michael Symon's Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Pasta


1 lb linguini
2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 c dry white wine
1 c pasta water
1 c spring peas
1 small bunch asparagus
1/2 c mint leaves
1 c feta cheese


The ingredient list is Michaels. The directions are what I did...  I used about a cup of dry small farfalle and about 1/4-1/3 c of pasta water.  Cook the pasta until it's not quite al dente.  The shrimp were already cooked and frozen, so they were quickly sautéed and removed from the pan.  Chop the snow peas and asparagus into 1/2" pieces. 

Drizzle some evoo into the pan and sauté the garlic for about a minute.  Do not let it burn.  Then add the peas and asparagus and sauté them until they're crisp tender.  Add the wine and mint and a bit of the pasta water.  Then, add the pasta.  If the sauce is too soupy, cook it down until it's not.  If it's fine, then cook until the pasta is just al dente.  Serve with crumbled feta. 

Tomato and Goat Cheese Napoleons

1 large, ripe tomato
1/4 c goat cheese
2 T half and half
1 T mixed herbs (basil, oregano and thyme work well)
1/4 c pistachios, toasted
balsamic glaze


Whip the goat cheese and half and half until smooth. 

Add in the herbs.  Trim the ends of the tomato.  Cut into four equal slices.  Put the first slice on a plate. 

Drizzle 1/3 of the goat cheese mixture over it. 

Sprinkle 1/3 of the pistachios over the slice.  Drizzle with evoo and balsamic glaze. 

with another slice and repeat with the toppings.   Top with the final slice and drizzle that with evoo and balsamic glaze.  Serve

pasta adapted from The Chew, Michael Symon.  tomato napoleon, read but not recalled!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ina's Muffins

It's time for Secret Recipe Club :-)  And, I'm not sure exactly where to start.  So, let me start at the beginning - time wise.  Many years ago my ex and I moved to Fort Wayne, IN.  We bought a big, old house that needed a LOT of love and attention.  I moved in and painted for a week before the actual moving day.  At that point I was young enough that a sleeping bag on the floor wasn't a big deal.  The best thing about the house was the landscaping.  A trellis on the side of the front porch had the most glorious pink sweetheart roses.  And, a garden at the back had rhubarb.  Something I'd always loved.  Somewhere I found a recipe for a strawberry rhubarb muffin that was perfect.  The flavors were balanced.  The muffin was sweet without being cloying.  I've thought about that muffin for all these years.  And, I've never quite found one as good.  Until now. 

Yes, Annie came through for me.  Big time.  This month I was assigned AnniesNoms.  Now, Connie and I are dieting.  He's doing much better at it than I am.  Ugh.  So, when I got my assignment and found a blog jam-packed with fabulous baked treats I was more than a bit disappointed.  Every time I'd read posts I'd gain five pounds.  I read a couple of years of posts.  Now, you see why Connie's doing so much better at the diet than I am?  It's Annie's fault.  LOL.  Finally, I decided I'd just have to make an entrée or side dish.  Just couldn't justify baking.  So, I went back on to look again at the entrees.  And, there it was.  A recipe for raspberry blueberry muffins.  An Ina Garten recipe.  And, Annie said it could be used as a base muffin mix. 

Last weekend Connie bought strawberries at the store since we only had enough in the garden for the top of the strawberry torte.  He bought a large vat of strawberries.  I made strawberry margarita salad with part of them.  But, a small vat remained.  This would be perfect.  I'd use Annie's muffins and get my Secret Recipe post, use up some of the strawberries AND have a dish to share at the pitch-in at Chef Joseph's this afternoon. 

Annie is exactly right when she says this is a great base.  And, I agree totally that these are probably the best muffins ever.  If not the best, they're second to the Blueberry Lemon ones....  Oh, and they are super easy to put together!

It certainly was a pleasure getting to know Annie through her blog.  Her personality shines through.  I hope you'll enjoy this recipe as much as I did.  And, I hope you'll hop on over and say hello to Annie!

Ina's Muffins

3 c flour
1 1/2 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/4 c milk
1 t vanilla
3 c assorted fruit (I used half strawberries and half rhubarb, Annie used raspberries and blueberries)

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients in another.  Chop the fruit and put it in a third bowl. 

Toss the fruit with the dry ingredients.  Makes sure all the fruit is well coated since that'll help keep it from sinking in the muffins. 

Pour in the wet ingredients and stir just until everything's mixed. 

I topped these with a bit of raw sugar before baking. 

Bake in muffin tins at 375 for 20-25 minutes.  I used large muffin tins so wound up with 10 muffins and about 30 minutes of baking time.  Annie made normal sized muffins and wound up with 18.  We're going to serve these with a compound butter of brown sugar and Rosy Rhubarb Syrup. 

Adapted from Annie's Noms,  Originally from Food Network and Ina Garten.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Children's Museum

My goodness.  What a busy week.  It started with a visit from our grandkids.  Their dad, David, had a birthday.  They celebrated by coming to Indy and visiting our world class Children's Museum.  Here are a couple of shots from our visit:

 The Dinosphere was one of our favorite places.  Bradley even got to "dig" for dino fossils!

 Both Bradley and Rosie were fascinated to find out that the fossil at the top right was dino poop!

 Mama Kara was the BEST at putting the puzzle people back together.

 Great way to view the cool ceiling

 Serving a strawberry banana milkshake in the Egyptian coffee house required a lot of concentration.
 Rosie taking Mama and Daddy for a ride, then helping Grampy with the Rube Goldberg machine.

We headed back to the house and started getting ready for dinner.  Morel dusted ribeyes for David.  Smashed potatoes for Bradley.  Mac and cheese for Rosie.  And, strawberry torte for Kara.  And, to make sure the dinner wasn't just totally meat, starch and sweet, snow peas from the garden and morel mushrooms.  Both Bradley and Rosie helped pick strawberries:

And, of course David snitched some of the crunchies off the top of the strawberry torte!

So, you're probably wondering what in the world I cooked last week.  Well, I didn't.  At least no new and exciting recipes.  I intentionally grilled two extra ribeyes Sunday evening.  Those leftovers pretty much lasted us all week - at least the evenings we actually got home to eat.  Steak, potato and pepper hash.  Pizza topped with some pizza sauce and the leftover hash.  Salads.  Salads.  Salads.  One was a strawberry margarita salad.  It was good but not fabulous.  I didn't even take any photos...  Friday we actually left the office by 5:30.  But, I didn't get around to thinking about dinner until almost 8:00.  We still had some shitakes left from our friends John and Jackie.  And, yes, we still had a half of a ribeye...  Time for steak and mushroom risotto.  Now, that link is to shitake and duck risotto.  I changed that recipe up by leaving out the duck and the duck fat.  The chicken stock was replaced by turkey stock.  The duck fat by butter.  Then, once the steaming hot risotto was In the bowls, I tossed a small handful of steak chunks on each.  The heat didn't cook the steak but warmed it perfectly. 

So, there you have it.  A week of no food photos or new recipes...  But, Secret Recipe Club is coming up on Monday so you'll get to see the FABULOUS recipe I made this evening!