Thursday, March 17, 2011

My serious and humble apologies for going so long before updating this blog! Traveling without a kitchen doesn't lend well to writing a blog on cooking. Not receiving my kitchen utensils from the US until February so I've one month to get my groove back on and kick it. Now I'm moving back to Malaysia for the adoption process. Life is busy but I wanted to get this particular recipe out there because it's just that good!

I have been searching for a long time for a recipe for Spanish rice that didn't turn out gummy or with too much raw tomato flavor. I have found it and although the technique left me skeptical, I am very glad that I tried it because it works! Scott is not a fan of rice (unless it's fried rice) and he has only tasted my previous attempts at Spanish rice but he has never finished a portion. He really liked this one! He was shocked and so was I! My picky eater ate all the rice! So without further delay, here is the recipe for Fiesta Chicken & Rice!

Fiesta Chicken & Rice

4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/4 C Olive Oil
1 C uncooked Long Grain Rice
1 Medium Onion, chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Chili Powder
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes, Drained
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 1/4 C Chicken Broth
1 Cup Shredded Cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or whatever you like on your Mexican dishes)
4 Scallions sliced thin

1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Cook chicken until golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to a large plate, leaving the oil leftovers in the pan.

2. Add rice, onion and and 1/2 tsp Salt to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the grainse of rice are sizzling and toasted and the onion begins to soften, about 3-4 minutes (reduce the heat if the rice browns too quickly). Stir in the garlic, oregano, chili powder and cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, green pepper and broth and bring to a boil. Scrape up the bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Nestle the chicken into the rice with the cooked, brown side facing up. (pour in any juices that were left on the plate) Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the chicken reaches 160* (about 12 minutes - more for thicker pieces of chicken)

3. Remove the chicken from skillet to a cutting board and cover with foil. Stir the rice, replace the lid and continue cooking until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed (about another 12 minutes but watch it closely so that it doesn't burn or over-cook).

4. Remove the skillet from the burner. Slice the chicken on the diagonal (see pic). Mound the rice on the serving plates, top with slices of chicken, then the shredded cheese and finish with the sliced scallions or green onions.

This is really a delicious one-pot meal! I hope you will try it! Experiment with different veggies such as mushrooms, red bell peppers or jalapeno peppers. Make it your own!

With Love in the Mix!


I realize the picture does not show the cheese and scallions but it was important for you to see the cut of the chicken. Pico di Gallo is a nice accompaniment for this dish anyway so play with it and enjoy it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

One of Our Favorites!!

Does this or does this not make your salivary glands go into over-drive? I can't help but to look at this spread and want more! This has become one of our favorite things to do on a Sunday night. Not many restaurants are open on Sunday so this is a great reason to get creative with our "last moments together before the next work week begins" meal.

We have taken to riding our bikes on Sunday afternoons to get some exercise and discover more about Dusseldorf. There are some local bakeries open and usually a meat & cheese shop here or there. I love trying new meats and cheeses (as long as they don't smell funny!) and this particular showcase of meat and cheese was dazzling my taste buds. We got the Tomato Feta Salad from a local restaurant that makes mostly Greek foods. The pickles, meats and cheeses were from the street fair down on the Rhine River. Add to that the Ciabatta and Cheese Rolls with some locally made mustard and you have the "fixins" for a delicious German meal.

I can't even explain what a pleasure this meal cooking, easy clean up, formed to our liking and leftovers area snap! Hope you'll give this a try...OH! And here's a link to a company that will deliver frozen European Rolls and Bread (still in dough form) to your door. You simply freeze them until you're ready to bake and then pop them in your oven after thawing. You really need to experience German Rolls to appreciate the tastiness of these sandwiches!! Enjoy

Be sure to leave a note and let us know what is one of your favorite meals and why!

With Love In The Mix,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hotel Cooking Part Zwei!

I posted on facebook the other day how much I was craving Fall Foods such as chili, stews, casseroles and so on because the weather here is already "I can see my breath" cold. I love it and Autumn is my favorite time of year. I absolutely love Sweater Weather and Football Weather!! Something we never had in Malaysia!! So I am quite comfortable temperatures in the 40's - 60's. Unlike my previous pasta sauce in the hotel room that I made to welcome my husband back from England and just to give him a nice little surprise, this recipe was all about me! (He doesn't like chili anyway). I was craving chili in some form and the only things keeping me from it was the beans and the weather. It's raining outside which inhibits my bike riding. And although I'm a fan of cold weather, I am not a fan of purposefully putting myself in the cold rain. There are a lot of things I'll do in the name of food but that is not one of them!!

Here is what I had on hand (I actually bought it the day before when the chili bug bit me)

This tiny chili pepper was flown in all the way from Ohio! It came from Pop's garden where Scott and his dad planted it this past spring. Pop sent the pepper to me here in Germany and my fingers have been itching to use it. So I dried them first and then minced it up for the chili. I added my pinky to give you some perspective.

Here are the vegetables... 1 Roma Tomato, chopped; 6 Baby Bellas, chopped; 2 Green Onions and the little, tiny, Thai Chili Pepper.
I placed the hamburger into my only cooking bowl/cereal bowl/pasta bowl. Then sprinkled it with Sea Salt and Black Pepper. Cooked it for 1 minute.
Added the chopped mushrooms, mix and cook for another 1 minute.
Added the green onion, mix and cook for another 1 minute.
The secret ingredient...Beer. Hey, I'm in Germany. They drink this stuff for water. Anyway, if you don't cook with beer, don't fret. Just use a beef or pork broth instead. About 1/2 cup. Usually, when I cook with beer, I use a dark beer because it makes the most amazing sauce and it tastes nothing like beer! This is good because I find beer to be repulsive. The taste of it makes me want to hurl. But somehow, it's just amazing to cook with!
Final addition of chopped tomato, the little Thai Chili and about 1/2 C water. Then I cooked the daylights out of it!! 3 minutes, then set, 3 minutes then set again. Repeated this for a couple of hours until the flavors got to know one another.
It's really amazing how many seeds came out of that little pepper! Again, the finger is there for perspective. And yes, all the seeds went in!

The finished product! Ta-daa! I also had this great cheese in the fridge. A mild white cheese with cumin seed in it. It had a delicious smoky flavor to it so I diced it up and chucked it in. Mmmm!

The only thing I didn't take a picture of was the spices. Because I don't have my spices here with me, I had to use a blend from the store from the Knorr company. It was Knorr Chili Con Carne. I used half an envelope for this but you could add whatever blend you prefer. If I was making this at home, I'd use a home made blend of chili powder, cumin, paprika, S&P and cayenne.

As I was waiting for the pictures up upload, I ate this beautiful concoction. My belly is very happy at the moment! The spice of that Thai chili was perfect. Not too hot but just a little tingle on my tongue. Give it a try! Cheers!!


BTW - If you have a microwave recipe that you love...send it to me and I'll be sure to include it on this post!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hotel Cooking!

I have to give credit to where credit is due...Ah, those college days! Sunday evenings was a time when the dining hall shut down to any type of hot meal and brown bag sandwiches were past out. Always a choice between PB&J or some type of meat and cheese, chips, fruit and a snack cake. Sometimes those brown bag beauties were just too much, we needed to step aside from the norm and do something creative. So we began collecting butter pats and pieces of foil. Soon we were using our irons to make grilled ham and cheese sandwiches! Sometimes it was grilled PB&J but not often as the peanut butter was already thinned down with marshmallow cream and heating it just made it messier than we liked. But those grilled sandwiches were a wonderful break from the norm!!

Sitting in a hotel room day after day and going through the same rut of waiting for Scott to come home so that we could go to a restaurant and eat someone else's cooking just becomes sooooo mundane! A flicker of genius (or a stirred memory - however you choose to look at it...I prefer genius!) and my mind is turning with ideas of what I can make with the limited amount of equipment that I have.

I had seen packages of pre-chopped bacon in the grocery stores and thought "I could cook that in the microwave!" and the wheels continued to turn...I could buy a couple of different types of sauce, add some bacon, some grated Parmesan, fresh basil (I'm growing it in the window ledge) and have a delicious sauce! Add some pasta and grilled bread and VIOLA! So I went to work on a trial run while Scott was away in England. It was delicious!! So I went back to the store and bought more of the same items and also a small package of ground hamburger. Here's my list...and understand these are German products so if you want to create this, you'll have to wing it just like I did!

1 Jar Tomato Bolognese Sauce (about 12 oz.)
1 Jar Red Pesto Sauce (about 8 oz.)
1/2 lb (approximately) Ground Hamburger
1 Lg Green Onion, sliced
1 Bottle Merlot Wine (this was already in the room, just thought I'd put it to use since we wouldn't be drinking it!)
Grated Romano Cheese
1 Small Round of Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Garlic Butter
5-6 Leaves of Fresh Basil
1 Small pkg Cheese Tortellinis
Salt and Pepper

I cooked the meat (with the S&P), added the sauces, about 3 tbsp of the Merlot, green onions, & Romano cheese. I microwaved this concoction several times for 5 minutes each time, stirring, letting sit for a while, reheating and continue this throughout the day until early evening when I let it sit to room temp and then added it to the fridge. We have a tiny fridge and if I had put it in the fridge when it was hot, everything else would have spoiled. It doesn't have much cooling power. The next day I did the same thing...heating it up once an hour for 5 minutes each. (I did end up adding about 1 cup of water to the sauce as it thickened up during the cooking process).

When it was about 2 hours before Scott was due to be home. I heated a bowl of salted water to very hot and added the pasta. Cooked until al dente and then mixed the pasta in with the sauce. Heated it up a few times with the sauce so their flavors could get to know one another. I also added the basil at this time so that I didn't over-cook it!

The bread was easy. Fold foil into a make-shift rimmed pan. Butter the bread and place on foil pan and place on a very hot iron until browned. You must have a rim though or else your butter could run off and burn you or stain whatever it lands on.

Here are some pics of what I and the results!
Rosemary Focaccia in the "pan"

"pan" on the "grill"

Finished product complete with fresh garnish

Cheese Tortelloni with Tomato Basil Bolognese and Grilled Garlic Bread!

YUMMY! or as they say in Germany...Lecker Lecker!

Now for the disclaimer...

Do not try this at home or in any hotel room. I knew the risk of performing these tasks and did them anyway. If you choose to be as silly as me and cook using an iron or any various other non-cooking utensils, you do so at your own risk!!

Enjoy your day!

With Love in the Mix!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For The Love of Smoothies!

I was first introduced to smoothies in South Carolina when I worked at a little organic foods grocery store/cafe. I am so glad to have discovered them there because I've never had smoothies that good least my first experience was the best and I can make them the way I love them!

The key to a great smoothie - USE FROZEN FRUIT! and LEAVE THE ICE IN THE FREEZER!

For those of you who are trying to beat the heat, what better way than with an ice-cold fruit smoothie? (ok, water would be better but smoothies just taste so good!) Soda and Sugary Drinks aren't going to cut it and they don't carry the nutritional weight that a smoothie does.

In my quest to eat healthier by leaving the over-processed, chemical laden foods on the shelves, I have rediscovered my love for smoothies! Our bodies can process liquids easier and more effectively than solids (great reason for chewing up your food better) so liquefying fruit in a blender is going to aid your digestion process, helping you absorb more of those wonderful vitamins and nutrients.

For those of you with children...what an incredible way to get them to eat healthier! These smoothies taste like milk shakes and are a great summer treat...not to mention the kiddies can play outside after drinking one of these without having all that milk and sugar sitting on their guts!

Better yet, there is no exact make it how you like it. Just follow some simple guidelines and you can make whatever flavor smoothie suits your taste buds!

#1. Purchase simple ingredients first...bananas, strawberries, peaches. These are great starters for beginner smoothie makers. You can spruce it up later with kiwi, pineapple, berries etc, but this is actually my favorite...just the basics.

#2. Purchase apple's a completely different flavor than apple juice when making a smoothie. You can usually find small 1 qt jugs or even 1 pt jugs in the grocery stores or at farmer's markets.

#3. Purchase a box of the snack size zip-locks.

#4. Chop your fruit into bite-size pieces. Bananas - about 1"-2" segments. Strawberries - halved or quartered (if they're big). Peaches - 1"-2" chunks.

#5. Place 4-5 pieces of fruit in each snack size baggie, squeeze out as much air as possible, place in freezer for several hours or overnight.

Those are the basics!

~ Now for the assembly ~

~ Pull fruit from the freezer and break up while it's still in the baggie until all or most of the individual pieces are separated. It's important that you use bananas in every's the base - the most important part of the smoothie.

~ Place fruit from each baggie into a blender (You're using the smallest snack size baggies so one baggie of bananas and one baggie of strawberries and one baggie of peaches makes a good size smoothie for one adult - after you make the first one, you'll have a better idea of how much or how little to add to make the right size for you or your children).

~ Pour in about 1/2 C of the apple cider and liquefy in the blender with the lid securely shut. If the mixture seems to thick (not breaking down and rolling through the blender blades smoothly) then shut off the blender, add another 1/4 C of cider and continue blending.

THAT'S IT!!! Pour into a glass and drink! Parents ~ got any of those old Popsicle molds or Dixie Cups and Popsicle sticks? Pour the blended mixture into these small containers and pop back into the freezer for a frozen sweet treat on a stick!! Did I mention they were healthy? Ssshhh!

Now, once you're a pro at this, start adding different fruits and even nuts (if you like little crunchy bits in your smoothie). There's also a variety of add-ins that you can...well...add in to your smoothie if you're into that sort of thing. I'm talking natural herbs and such that promote holistic lifestyles. But for me - the basic smoothie is my favorite and I hope it becomes yours too!

Please Note - Wash all fruits well before cutting and freezing! If possible, purchase fruits that are organic - pesticide free!



Do you have a favorite concoction or recipe for smoothies? Send it to me by email or through the comments button below and I'll be sure to post it here! Thanks!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Please Be Patient With Me! : )

More recipes are on the way...we are hotel living in Germany until we can find a home. My husband and I drove around Dorston all day today looking at homes and communities. Beautiful country! Just won't be able to post many recipes and pics until we get settled. I will, however, work on posting some of my past recipes and some recipes of German foods I have already tried (of course, the authenticity will be as close as I can get it). (wink and a smile)

Have a great week!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

I haven't Forgotten My Blog!

Honestly, I've got so much going on right now I haven't had time to experiment in the kitchen. Sad, I know. We're moving to Germany in two weeks (June 13th) and there is still so much to do! We've spent the entire week tearing apart and rebuilding the deck. What a job! Now it's time to box everything up and get it packed into crates.

I did have the opportunity to make this recipe the other day and it was really delicious! I want to find a way to thicken the brown butter sauce so it stays on the noodle. But it's an incredible flavor none-the-less!

Spaghetti with Chicken & Broccoli with a Brown Butter Sauce

Mizithra cheese is a yummy, hard Greek cheese but if you cannot find it, Freshly Shredded Romano is a great substitute! That's what I used!

1 cup butter
1 cup Mizithra cheese
pasta of choice (I used spaghetti)
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
3 C Fresh Broccoli


Dice chicken into small pieces and cook in a large skillet with some olive oil, salt and pepper until just done. Do not over-cook. Set aside. Meanwhile, cook the pasta and steam the broccoli. Combine the pasta, chicken and broccoli in a large pot and keep covered and warm.

Browned Butter Procedure: Cut 2 sticks of butter into 8 pieces and place in a 2-quart sauce pan. Place the pan of butter on a burner on medium heat. Bring butter to a slow boil (about 5 minutes). (This wasn't enough for 4-6 portions of the meal so I added 1 more stick and continued with the directions)

Once the butter begins to boil, stir constantly to prevent residue from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As the butter cooks, it will start to foam and rise. Continue stirring, otherwise the butter foam could overflow (about 5 minutes) and catch fire.

Once the butter stops foaming and rising, cook until amber in color (about 1 to 2 minutes). It will have a pleasant caramel aroma.

Turn off the heat and remove pan from burner. Let the sediment settle to the bottom of the pan for a few minutes.

Pour the brown butter through a strainer into a small bowl. Do not disturb the residue at the bottom of the pan. (When cooking this, the foam came back and I gently poured the butter into a separate container. The butter drizzled out from under the foam and over the residue on the bottom)

The brown butter can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in a microwave as needed.

Pour the butter over the pasta mixture and toss gently with the shredded cheese. Using a spaghetti server, fill plates or bowls with desired amount of the meal. If there's extra sauce in the pan, drizzle evenly over the individual dishes. Serve immediately!