Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Fifty-Five: The Black Dog - Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook

by Joseph Hall & Elaine Sullivan

        Lemon Basil Chicken Piccata with Penne

I purchased this book because of the cover and I'm not sure how long I have had it on the shelf. I wish that I had pulled it off the shelf long ago. The recipe I chose was super, uber, easy!! I had dinner on the table in about an hour - this mind you included extra time for the photo shoot; not to mention absolutely delicious! I also found a yummy breakfast dish I want to try next. I really need something new in the breakfast arena. Our usual is oatmeal topped with brown sugar and fruit, egg on toast or boxed cereal - sorry to digress...

The chicken would be great on its own without the pasta, or served over a bed of leafy greens if you are watching your carb intake or just not a pasta fan in general. I served it over buttered Barilla Plus penne - a bit healthier than your regular pasta - so I hear. I have made chicken piccata in the past and it had called for butter, which this recipe does not; another plus! This I think would be good as well with a white fish, such as Tilapia for your vegetarian friends.

Success meter (1-3): 3

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Fifty-Four: Cooking from the Hip

by Cat Cora

                  Mango Margaritas

So I was looking for something to make for dinner when I came across this recipe for Mango Margaritas. I love mangoes, I love margaritas - gotta try em!

The color and aroma of this drink was absolutely wondrous! I actually felt like I knew what I was doing. However I did not expect them to have the bitter taste that they had. The only thing I can think of was maybe too much lime juice? I did trade out the Triple Sec for Grand Marnier since that is what I had on hand. Tasting everything on its own, the lime is the only thing that I can think of that may contribute to the bitter flavor. Any bartenders out there? Feedback is always welcome and appreciated!

I served these in martini and old fashion glasses. You would think that someone who loves margaritas as much as I do and drinks them often enough would have the appropriate margarita glasses, but alas, I do not. I just may have to splurge for a set; I can justify the need by using them as dessert vessels as well!


Success meter (1-3): 2

As for bought California Rolls.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!

        Maya's Day of the Dead Cookies

We recently had pavers installed out front and back of the house which had to be sealed which meant I was held hostage in the house for 6 hours. What does one do when there is so much to be done around the house and the perfect opportunity arises to actually get something accomplished? Bake of course!!

This recipe comes from a blog which my daughter follows and I was looking for a treat to make so that I could "BOO" her. If you don't know what "BOO-ing" is check it out here. This recipe is credited to Alice Medrich from her book - A Year in Chocolate: Four Seasons of Unforgettable Desserts. You cannot go wrong with an Alice Medrich recipe. My first cookbook in the baking genre was Cocolat by Ms. Medrich which I posted  about back in February. I have to say that because of her simple and wonderful recipes I have flourished in the baking spectrum.

These cookies are made up of a vanilla and chocolate dough. You will need to freeze the chocolate dough till firm before shaping for it is much softer than the vanilla dough. As I was shaping and piercing holes in the chocolate dough I was thinking why not leave the chocolate dough solid since you place the vanilla dough atop the chocolate. As I reviewed my recipe again, it says to do just that. Shape and freeze. No piercing!! Thank goodness - for it did not fare well; my dough cracked and fell apart. I was quite happy to re-roll and re-shape this dough!

Success meter (1-3): 3

The chocolate dough is a much tackier, softer dough
 than the vanilla and needs to be placed in the
 freezer till firm enough to shape.

Skull taking shape!

"I dont want to go in the oven..."

The Tools: handle of pastry brush to shape the eyes,
wooden skewer for the nose, a knife for the mouth,
 and floss to slice the logs.

Back side of log....hmmmm

So not working! Good thing you are not supposed to
 make facial features in the chocolate dough.

With each slice the facial features became less and less existent.
You will have to rework them after layering.

Not quite as I had hoped...
but better than expected!

Happy Halloween Ash!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Book Fifty-Three: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

by Ina Garten

                Homemade Granola

Granola is so easy to make at home and tastes so much better then store bought; not to mention it is so versatile. You can add it to yogurt with fresh fruit as shown in the picture above, in a bowl with milk for a quick breakfast, or as we did - thrown into a Ziploc bag for a great snack while out hiking.

This is different from another granola recipe I have made in the past. I like that Ina adds several types of dried fruit, whereas the other recipe uses only dried cranberries. I may combine the two next time for I really like and missed the orange zest the other recipe calls for and I would also change out the sweetened coconut for brown sugar.

Success meter (1-3): 3

Makes a whole lotta granola!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book Fifty-Two: Mediterranean Light

by Martha Rose Shulman

                        Slow-Baked Tomatoes

Tuesdays are puzzle night in which my sister comes over and we enjoy dinner, wine and well, a puzzle.

On occasion she brings the main course, and this Tuesday she brought a  Mediterranean chicken dish. I have this yummy couscous vegetable salad* that I made along with these slow-baked tomatoes. These turned out much better than the ones I tried before on the grill. The fresh garlic was way more flavorful and did not have the "burnt" taste that the browned garlic in oil produced in my previous post.

Success meter (1-3): 3