Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Olive Tapenade for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month


O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of Gina DePalma, author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen and Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy, Jenn of The Leftover Queen, and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are asking you to donate to the:

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

and then, out of the goodness of your hearts and to be eligible for the OFoods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest, please do the following:

1. Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato) and include this entire text box in the post;

OR

2. If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word about the event and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

AND

3. Then send your post url [along with a photo (100 x 100) if you’ve made a recipe] to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on September 30, 2008.

We will post a roundup and announce prize winners on October 3.

Prizes:

* 1 Recipe Prize for best “O food” concoction: $50 gift certificate to Amazon;
* 1 Awareness Prize for only publicizing event: Copy of Dolce Italiano cookbook.

———

From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:

* Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
* The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,650 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2008 and about 15,520 women will die from the disease.
* The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.

* In spite of this patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.

* When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.

Please donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and help spread the word!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My entry to help support this wonderful cause is:


Olive Tapenade (adapted from RecipeZaar)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil or 1 tsp fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
Directions
  • Add garlic to food processor, blend until minced. Add remaining ingredients except olive oil. Blend until smooth, adding olive oil slowly while the blade is running.
  • Adjust ingredients to your liking - Additional pine nuts, parsley or pitted canned black olives will make it less salty and intense in flavor, while additional oil will increase the creaminess. You can also use other fresh herbs such as sage or rosemary.
  • Serve at room temperature.
I served this dip with the lavash that I made for this month's Daring Baker challenge. Absolutely delish...and all for a good cause!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Monday, September 29, 2008

A really fast shrimp dinner and a funfilled weekend of skating!

Every once in a while your whole schedule and routine gets thrown off kilter right? Well mine gets thrown off so often now I have no routine. Last week it was T.'s Dad and the ongoing medical saga that has become our lives and a skating competition. I just could not cook anything new and was so uninspired that I would have made my family eat hot dogs for dinner if I thought I could have gotten away with. That is all going to change this week. I am back on track!!!

She's lucky number 7!!!

As for the skating competition...my youngest daughter rocks!!! She did 2 events and placed 1st for both of them. What an accomplishment for her.

A short video of her doing her program. She still looks so tiny out there on that huge slab of ice!!!

video

Friday night I had practice at the rink so we decided that it wouldn't be too terribly late when I got home and I could just whip together a quick pasta dinner. I knew I had some frozen shrimp in the freezer and some whole wheat linguine (no additives just plain old whole wheat durum flour!!!). The frozen shrimp are so easy to work with. Just make sure that before you freeze them they are cleaned and peeled. I leave the tails on but that is just personal preference.

Once again there is no recipe. On nights like that I am way too busy to follow one anyway. Here is a list of ingredients and near measures!


Pasta with Shrimp and Butter Sauce

About a 1lb to 1-1/2lb shrimp
6 cloves of garlic chopped
1 stick of butter to cook the shrimp
1 package of your favorite pasta, cooked

Spice mix for shrimp:

garlic powder
onion powder
smoked paprika
white pepper
salt
black pepper
thyme
pinch of cayenne

1 more stick of butter to finish the butter sauce
about 2 Tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

Mix all the spices together. Go lighter on the stronger spices like cayenne and smoked paprika and heavier on the lighter ones like garlic powder.

Toss the shrimp in the spices and melt 1 stick of butter in a pan. Cook the garlic in the butter then add the spiced shrimp and cook until no longer translucent. Once they are cooked add the second stick of butter and the parsley and melt to make a nice butter sauce.

This is about enough for 4 adults.

Update on T's Dad: He is no longer in ICU but he is still not out of the woods yet. He has MRSA Staph infection (methicillin resistant staph). It is no longer in his lungs (still everywhere else) but it is in his eye and is causing the retina to harden. They are going to have to do surgery on him immediately to clean out the retina. Any surgery is dangerous but even worse to open up a person with a Staph infection! Keep those prayers and well wishes coming and thanks so much for all the support you all have given me and my family!

As Always...

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge...a huge success!!!

Whole Wheat Lavash with Hummus Dip

I LOVED this challenge. I have had problems lately with some of my challenges and I think it has been because I was time challenged. Well this time it was different. From the minute I read this one I was excited!!! So why did I leave it til the day before the challenge date??? Who knows. Time just gets away from me!

This month was also a special month as this is the first time that a recipe is vegan and can be gluten free. The hosts for this challenge were Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl.

The Challenge: Make Lavash Crackers and create a dip/spread/salsa/relish to accompany it. This challenge allowed for large helpings of creativity and personality, with the crackers, your flavor choices for the crackers, and with your dip/spread choice. We were allowed to create our own dip/spread recipe, use one of our favorites, or use one of the recipes they provided.

Now they weren't perfect. I tried everything to ensure that the salt and the sesame seeds would stick but still they popped off after baking. Otherwise I would say it was a huge success.

I did alter the recipe to make mine with whole wheat. The dough once it had risen was sooooo easy to work with!!! Mine formed out no problem at all. No springing back or anything.

For a dip I choose to make some hummus (I know not very creative!!!) without tahini as the girls don't really like it.

RECIPE - Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here's a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids...It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)...

The key to a crisp lavash,...is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.


Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)-I used Whole Wheat Flour
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a description of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

or

2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

or

4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

See how perfect the hummus looks with the cracker?

Hummus

1 can of chickpeas drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T fresh squeezed lemon
1 tsp cumin
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree to desired consistency.

Would I make this again? Can't wait until my Potluck group (more on that later) decides to do a Middle Eastern theme!!! This was truly wonderful. I would add some herbs to the dough next time as I can't get anything to stick to the outside!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Friday, September 26, 2008

I've got nothing for you...

It's been quite a week. Busy as usual and then some extra family health crisis. I just haven't been feeling to creative this week so have relied a lot on old standbys.

I did make some brownies yesterday but when I was trying to get them out of the pan, I knew there was a reason that Martha wanted me to use parchment but I was too lazy to do it, so they fell on the floor. That happens sometimes.

I did also make some pico de gallo to go with the tacos we had last night. As careful as I am with hot peppers (I always wear a glove. If I get it on my hand my lips will be burning in about 15 minutes. ) I still managed to burn my eye??? I guess I need to leave the glove on until I am done cleaning up the pepper. That happens sometimes.

But here is something a little fun. I am a TV nerd. I watch very little TV. Usually about an hour each evening. On Wednesday nights there is usually nothing on so I have taken to watching Dog the Bounty Hunter...don't fault me. My sister who is even nerdier than I am turned me onto it!

Any way when we were in Orlando a couple of weekends ago for the Foodbuzz dinner we decided to go out after we had eaten. So we were walking along the Disney Boardwalk and who did I see? None other than Bobby Brown of Bobby Brown's Bail Bonds from Denver CO!!! He actually stopped and talked to me for a couple of minutes and let T. take a picture of him and I together. And this is where it got a little fuzzy. I was looking at his text messages on his cell phone. Most of them were from Dog the Bounty Hunter but I have no idea why I was looking at them. I asked what he was doing there and he said that he was working on something. Who knows? Here's the pic. T. is a pretty bad picture taker after about a thousand glasses of wine so this was the best we could do!

I thought it was pretty funny apparently???!!!


Update on T's Dad: He has a drug resistant staph infection and pneumonia. They are unable to do anything other than try and control it at this point. They cannot do surgery because of the infection and it is affecting his kidneys. This is all related to the surgery he had a couple of weeks ago for colorectal cancer. Keep those prayers and well wishes coming. He needs all he can get!!!

As Always...

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Roast Chicken and Rice and Gravy???

This is the chicken roasted with lots of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. See all of the great gravy juices??? Perfect for topping rice! (crappy picture...remember the wine???)

One of the favorite meals in our house happen on very rare occasions seeing as we really don't have enough time on a normal week night for the whole roasting chicken process. For some reason last night we had nothing going on. Or if we did I forgot about it and we just didn't go???!!!

Everyone here loves roast chicken. Forget the beef, lamb or anything else that you can roast...they want chicken!!! I really think though that the only reason they like it is for the side dishes that come with it. They get to have rice and gravy. Now I was talking to my friend Jenn-The Left Over Queen and I mentioned that we were having rice and gravy. She said "hmmm that sounds good, never had it". WHAAAAT???

I guess though that until T. I had never had it either. It is sooo much better than potatoes and gravy...I kid you not! It is the best.

Unfortunately last was a "too much wine night" and by the time we got around to dinner I forgot to take any pictures. You see on nights like these it is just so nice to be able to sit and all of us to talk.

Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4-5 pound chicken, organic and free range
6 or 7 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (Usually I just sprinkle by sight. A nice light dusting is good)
salt
fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  • Rinse out the chicken and remove the bag of giblets (these can be frozen and used at Thanksgiving or some later date). Place the chicken breast side up on a cutting board. (I once cooked a chicken upside down so now I always check by holding the bird up and pretending it's walking. The breast is on the bottom so I know I need to flip the bird over. This was years ago when we first married but I have never lived it down!!!).
  • Mince the cloves of garlic and mix it with the olive oil.
  • Take the half lemon and place it in the cavity.
  • Take the oil and garlic mixture and rub onto the birds skin. This will add flavor to the juices as well as make the skin nice and brown.
  • Sprinkle poultry seasoning and salt and pepper on the outside of the bird.
  • Gently place the chicken in your pot and place in oven.
  • Cook uncovered for about 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 hrs or an internal temp of 180 - 185 degrees.
On a side note: I guess most of you know that we are having some major health issues going on with T's Dad. As of right now he is in Cleveland Clinic in ICU. They did a CAT Scan on him last night and hopefully we will know a bit more soon. Please send prayers and well wishes his way. It's a tough time for us to be so far away!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My new found love of brussel sprouts...

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts

How weird is it that something you thought you have hated for your whole life is becomming one of you favorite things ever. I'm talking about brussel sprouts. Now maybe I have never had fresh ones before or maybe they were just over cooked or under seasoned? Well whatever the reason it's not how it is now. I mean, I LOVE these things!

Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts (adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh brussel sprouts, quartered and trimmed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin Olive Oil
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
about a handful of pine nuts (lightly toasted in a hot skillet)

Directions:
  • Toss the brussel sprouts and onion with the olive oil and the balsamic.
  • Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cook for about 20 minutes, tossing midway through, or until they are cooked through and starting to turn a nice golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and place in a bowl. Top with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Everyone liked these. My oldest one even asked for seconds. You can't beat that!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My ongoing freezer space saga...


It was Saturday afternoon. T. had been gone since Tuesday and I was getting really tired of cooking for just us three. My kids eat great but it still isn't nearly as satisfying as cooking for an adult! I never have to fight with him as to how much more does he have to eat to get dessert or more of something. It's just easier.

I decided I was going to cook for myself. And I really liked it. Who cares if the kids went without anything other than penne pasta with butter...

Pasta with Vegetable Sauce

I followed no real recipe but here are the ingredients:

onions
garlic
tomatoes
green peppers
zucchini
basil
oregano
salt
1 package of your favorite pasta
Parmesan cheese for topping

I chopped (chunky) the ingredients all up and first cooked down the onion, garlic, and green pepper. I then added the tomatoes and the herbs. I held off on the zucchini for a bit and then just threw it in. I let this simmer for most of the afternoon.

I made some garlic bread. Boiled the pasta. Plated my dinner and in walks T. Ended up having a great dinner after all!!!

What I used from my freezer:

1/2 bag frozen zucchini
1 1/2 green pepper
2 small bags of tomatoes

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Old blueberries make what?

These are some very juicy blueberries. My hands were purple all day!!!

I guess I am sort of following a really crappy pattern here. I have soooooo much food that seems to been the right on the edge. Too old to eat as it is but just right for baking or cooking...aren't I lucky????

This time it was blueberries. Can you guess what I made?

Blueberry Muffins (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)

Ingredients:

1 cup AP Flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (you can use regular AP flour)
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk (2 Tbsp more if using ww pastry flour)
1/4 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tsp finely zested lemon

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center.
  • Combine all of the wet ingredients except the blueberries and zest. Add all at once to the flour mixture and stir until just moist. The batter should be lumpy.
  • Fold in the blueberries and the lemon zest.
  • Fill greased muffin cups or paper liners 2/3 full.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
This was another really quick and easy recipe. Loved it!!!

On another note...Hurricane Ike.

Crystal Beach near Galveston, TX after Ike roared through.

I know that now that the storm is passed and it is no longer in the news we tend to forget that it is a story about individual lives. I know first hand that the people who live there still need to be in our thoughts. A very good friend of mine is just on her way from here to Galveston where her family has lived forever. They are going there to help do the demolition of their home. Yes, all of their lives were spared but the storm surge came through and pushed their home 4 inches off of the foundation and the house is no longer livable. They have lost everything. Mostly to water damage but at this point with out any A/C they have lost the rest of it to mold. I experienced the loss of my home and most of my belongings to Hurricane Charley 4 years ago (see my post here). I guess all I am trying to say is let's not forget that those people still need our thoughts and prayers.

If anyone is interested in making a monetary donation to this family please email me at judy@nofearentertaining.com and I can get you the family's name and address. This would be going right to them, not through me. They really need all the help they can get right now!

As Always...

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Friday, September 19, 2008

What to make in a hurry and oh yeah...try to get rid of those frozen peppers!

The other night I knew I had to think quick on my feet. It was 5:00 and I had no clue as to what I was going to make for dinner. I remembered a dish that my brother-in-law used to make that was really good but could not for the life of me remember how to make so I just started winging it.

I browned up some "very happy" ground beef. I added some chopped onion, and some green pepper (down one more!!!). Added some oregano, salt and cumin (sorry, no measurements here but keep tasting it...is it good?).

At the same time that I was working on this I was making some white rice (yes I know that brown is better but it's what I had!!!).

I added a can of black beans to the meat mixture and then added a couple of spoonfuls of dijon style mustard. Mixed the cooked rice into all of this and check it out...

This is such an incredibly flavorful dish and I served it with the tomato, onion and cucumber salad from yesterday. I actually had a girlfriend of mine come over and join us and she liked it too!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tomato, Onion and Cucumber Salad

Honest...there are cucumbers on the bottom!!!

I seem to always have fruit and vegetables that are right on the edge of going bad that need to be used up right away! Yesterday it was bunch of tomatoes and a cucumber. Unfortunately the cucumber had lost virtually all of it's flavor but I was still able to use it in the salad that I was going to make.

Very simple salad. Tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. Sliced and placed in a large flat container. I used a glass 8X8 cake pan.

Salad Dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup white vinegar
5 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Mix all the ingredients together and pour over the sliced of tomato, onion and cucumber. Place in fridge for an hour or so before serving. Stirring frequently to make sure the flavors are well blended.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Over ripe bananas call for banana muffins!

Nice and fluffy banana muffins...the perfect snack!

For some reason we always seem to have really dark bananas lying around. I guess I should stop buying them but I think the problem is inconsistency. Sometimes I will buy 5 bananas and they will be gone in 2 days. Other time I will buy 5 and 4 of them will go black. The other day I decided to make some banana muffins. I know everyone has their favorite recipe for them but this one is really easy and there are no special or fancy ingredients to over take the banana flavor. Just good ol' banana muffins!!!

I have used this recipe over and over and it has never let me down.

Banana Muffins (adapted from the Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book)

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cups AP Flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter
2 Tbsp milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine all ingredients but the nuts in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until all ingredients are blended. Change speed to high and beat for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the nuts.
  • Pour the batter into a muffin pan lined with muffin cups. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for about 10 minutes in pan and then remove from pan and continue to cool.
As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why I LOVE Foodbuzz...

Our menu for the evening at Todd English's Blue Zoo

They bought me dinner! And I don't mean just any dinner. They bought me and about 20 of my nearest and dearest Florida food bloggers a really, really nice dinner with cocktails and wine as well!!!

This happened on Saturday night. The planning for this has been a long time coming. I think it was around the middle of June when Jenn the Left Over Queen and I first started talking about getting together with a bunch of other bloggers. About this same time Foodbuzz, being the incredible people that they are implemented a program called Dine on Us that is available to all of their featured publishers!!! We jumped right on it and Jenn took the bull by the horns and pulled this thing all together. We were even fortunate enough to have Ryan from Foodbuzz fly all the way from San Francisco to hang out with us!!!

Jenn was able to get us an incredible private room for dinner at Todd English's Blue Zoo in the Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Orlando. Good thing too...we were really loud. Everyone talking about food and then the food came and boy was it incredible!

Amuse - Clam...bacon ragout

Second Course - beet salad...candied walnuts, goat cheese fondue

Third Course - spice route char...curried beluga lentils, zhataar carrot, yogurt spill

Fourth Course - sous vide amish chicken...parmessan polenta, picholine olive, deconstructed tomato sauce

Dessert - warm chocolate cake with liquid ganache center.....maracaibo chocolate cream pudding, peanut ice cream

Bloggers in attendance:

Jenn The Left Over Queen
Lys from Cooking in Stilettos
Christey and Peter from Foto Cuisine
Rachel from My Little Marshmallow
Chris from Pickles and Cake
Susan from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy
Ingar from Taste Memory
Erin and Chris from The Olive Notes
Bryan from The Tattooed Gourmet

Take a minute and see what they have to say!

This photo here shows the huge difference between the way a photographer sees things and the way the rest of us do. This photo was taken on my camera by Christey from FotoCuisine. The way the light is shining through the wine and causing that incredible shadow on the table. Thanks Christey!!!

What a great night and I really hope we can do it again! You guys are incredible and reaffirmed my theory...food bloggers are some of the best people anywhere!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chili and a product review

Wow...those onions are almost blinding!!!

A couple of weeks ago the people at Amazing Taste contacted me and asked me if I would like to sample some of their products. Of course I said yes. I like FREE things. I have had problems with this before though. I have been sent products with so many items in the ingredients that I couldn't pronounce and others items that I just would never use.

This time it was different though. When I got the seasoning packets (which sell for $.99) I was pleasantly surprised. One of the companies goals is to help people take cheaper (therefore tougher) pieces of meat and help make them better and saving you money at the same time!


Last night was one of those nights where I had been running everywhere and couldn't figure out what I was going to do for dinner so I was looking through the pantry and saw the seasoning packets and pulled out one for Chili. They also have special blends for poultry, pork, burgers, seafood, an all purpose malibu, and steak house seasonings. The best thing about Amazing Taste Seasonings is that they have hardly any ingredients in them. The chili seasoning has, get this, chili pepper and other spices, salt, and dehydrated garlic. Normally I would have made this without the aid of a seasoning packet but to be fair I wanted to try this.

Guess what? It was good. Now of course I change the recipe from the packet all up. I still added a pound of beef, but I also added onions, green peppers, fresh frozen tomatoes and black beans. Would I buy this? I would need to try some more of them before I could say that. Chili seasoning is so easy to do from scratch so maybe not that one but maybe one of the others. I'll let you know!

Used from my freezer:

1 green pepper (29 to go...a little help here guys???)
6 frozen whole tomatoes

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Brownies again...and an award!

Homemade Super Rich Chocolate Brownies w/ Walnuts and Pretzels!


It seems like every time we are due to get any bad weather or anything severe I want Brownies. Maybe these have become my comfort food? This time it was Hurricane Ike.


I know, I know we weren't even suppose to really get anything bad from it but it was out there and it was within 200 miles of us!!! Was I really just looking for an excuse??? Now in my defense we have had a lot of flooding due to heavy rains. Lots of wind with gust up to 40 miles an hour but nothing like having a huge storm pummel you head on...my prayers go out to the people in Ike's path.

Anyway. I made Brownies again. This time I added some walnuts and some pretzels (trying for that salty/sweet thing). I only had pretzel thins though and they got a bit soggy before it cooked up so use the regular size ones if you try this!

And this is how I ate my piece!!!

Homemade Super Rich Chocolate Brownies

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cookies.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
I also stirred in 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup of crushed pretzels.

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 8″square baking pan. Line pan with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches hanging over the sides. Butter parchment paper.

In a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stir together butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Combine sugar, eggs, and vanilla using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Add chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Spread evenly with spatula. Bake about 35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet. Let cool in pan about 15 minutes.

Lift brownies out of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

This is a wonderful award that was passed on to me from Meryl's Musing which is a really fun blog filled with a little bit of everything. I am so truly honored every time that someone passes an award on to me. I love the validation that comes with it.

The rules are as follows:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog.

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (as shown above).

3) Nominate at least seven other blogs.

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

So the ones that I am choosing are the ones that I read all of the time and have actually become "friends" with most of them.

Jenn - the left over queen
Peter at Kalofagas
Danni at On the Way to Critter Farm
Nuria at Spanish Recipes
Dharm at Dad~Baker and chef
Val at More Than Burnt Toast
and last but not least Brittany at Musings of a Barefoot Foodie

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shrimp Diane

Yesterday was one of those weird days where I could find absolutely nothing that I wanted to make or have for dinner. Usually I have a pretty good idea by the ingredients that I have bought during the week. Am I becoming a little disheartened by my seemingly endless purge of my freezer and pantry? I guess there is a reason all of that food has been in there and not used! So guess what I did? I told T. to figure out dinner??? LOL!

He did a great job too.

This is what we had...

Sorry for the crappy picture but Hurricane Ike took my sunlight!
You get the idea though-shrimp, mushrooms, zucchini in a butter sauce!


Shrimp Diane

Ingredients:

1 lb of medium sized shrimp, cleaned with tails on
1 stick of butter-I never said T. cooks low-fat!!!
6 green onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 zucchini cut into sticks
1/4 Cup stock, preferably fish or shrimp
1/4 Cup fresh parsley, picked and chopped
1 package of your favorite pasta, cooked

Spice Mix:

1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated garlic
pinch of cayenne (less depending on taste)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp oregano

Directions:
  • Mix the spice mix ingredients together and set aside.
  • Melt 6 Tbsp of the butter in a large pan. When almost melted add the garlic, zucchini and the spice mix.
  • Mix well and add the shrimp and cook for about a minute.
  • Add the mushrooms and the stock and simmer until shrimp are almost fully cooked.
  • Add the remaining butter and parsley and green onion and cook until the butter is completely melted.
  • Serve over your favorite pasta with a generous serving of Parmesan cheese.
This was a really nice dish to come home from Karate to. Thanks so much T. Tonight we want Pizza-okay?

Things used from my freezer:

shrimp
zucchini
shrimp stock

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stuffed Green Peppers and my never ending freezer purge

Italian stuffed green peppers!

My never ending battle to empty my freezer goes on...

I have a case of green peppers that I froze a couple of months ago that I am now working on. Last week Life is Good left a comment on one of my asking for help posts and it was a recipe for stuffed peppers. I have only ever had them stuffed with rice so this was a great idea.

The base of the recipe was bread crumbs. It was really just a list of ingredients which I was able to throw together and come up with a nice, quick and tasty dinner.

bread crumbs (make your own from some older bread)
fresh basil
fresh oregano
fresh parsley
garlic powder
salt
pepper
1 can of diced tomato with juice
olive oil
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1/2 cup cubed fresh mozzarella

I mixed all of this together in a bowl and stuffed them into my peppers. Stuff lightly. It's a lot of bread crumbs. I baked them at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. I served them with some Italian sausage and they made a really good dinner!

5 peppers down about 30 to go...HELP!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Dirty Little Secret!


We all have them. You know that dish that you whip together really fast using every single shortcut you can think of...well I did it the other day and EVERYONE LOVED IT!!!!

Believe it or not last week I had 2 funerals to attend. The first one was for my neighbor so I went to the viewing and showed my support but the other one was one of my very close friends husband. Neither of these were unexpected and they had both been in Hospice Care but it doesn't make their passing any easier.

Anyway on with my story...my friend was having an open house after the service and I told her I would bring a dish so that she had one less thing to worry about.

I stood and stared at my pantry for some inspiration. I stood there for a long, long time. I went to the fridge. Same thing. I couldn't even decide if I should do a sweet or a savory dish. I finally went through an old box I had of baking things and that's when it came to me. Fruit pizza!

Years ago at a school auction I had one a basket with a baking theme. You know the baskets that are chock full of everything you need to "bake". Cookie mixes, cake mixes, frosting, pancake mixes etc. Well I've used some of the stuff but lucky for me I had never had the need to use a bag of sugar cookie mix that was in there. I also had a very old tub of cream cheese frosting. I was so lazy on this I didn't even mix the frosting with whipped cream I just spread it on like it was from the tub and topped that bad boy with kiwi, strawberries and blueberries!

Normally I wouldn't even post something like this but it was such a hit. I had all sorts of people wanting to know how to make it, what was in it. Did I lie and tell them it was all from scratch or did I fess up? I'll never tell but this was that one dish at a pot luck that everyone raves over. This was it!!!


Fruit Pizza-Betty Crocker

1pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/2cup butter or margarine, melted
1egg
1cup whipping cream
1/2cup Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy cream cheese frosting (from 1-lb container)
3 1/2cups assorted fresh fruit
1.
Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly spray 14-inch pizza pan or 15x10-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
2.In medium bowl, stir cookie mix, melted butter and egg until soft dough forms. Press dough in bottom of pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.
3.In chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Gently stir frosting into whipped cream. Spread over cookie pizza. Arrange fruit on top.





Because everyone liked it so much I am going to submit this to Susan at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy for her Blogiversary Bash! Happy first year Susan!!!


As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Friday, September 5, 2008

My Favorite Summer Sandwich

A Caprese Sandwich?

This sandwich is one of my most favorite things to eat. I've posted the mozzarella and tomato salad before and really all this is is that same salad with bread. Two

Two nice fat slices of dead ripe tomato, a couple of leaves of basil, some fresh mozzarella, some salt and pepper and a few drizzles of good balsamic vinegar, all squished between 2 slices of good bread or in this case a bagel (the bread was baking).

Yummmm and pure summer!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Marmalade Curry Chicken???

I have been told to never make this again...it doesn't look that bad does it?

Does it really sound that bad? You should have seen T's face when I told him what we were having for dinner. Funny thing is I don't really like curry or Indian food (see this post) but I thought that it sounded pretty good (and would be using up several things in my fridge that I needed out...see the plan here?), and it would be using my Crockpot which I sort of have a love/hate relationship going with!

I was at the girl's school this morning for the first time as a volunteer so that was kind of fun and I had a brief meeting with the "gifted" coordinator to find out how far along we had gotten with my oldest daughter's paperwork. So I needed something quick and that didn't require too much attention from me. This is where the Crockpot comes in to play. I guess the reason that I don't like it all that much is that most of the things that I come across to cook in it have Cream of Mushroom Soup in it????!!! Are the 2 things made by the same company? Is Rival somehow linked to Campbell's? Whatever.

Anyway I came across this when I was looking for something to do with the marmalade and chicken. This recipe, although it is for in your Crockpot, has no cream soup of anything in it so I decided to give it a whirl!

Before the recipe though I want you to check out Stephanie's Blog. Stephanie likes me. I mean really likes me and even blogged about it. Pretty cool huh?

Marmalade Curry Chicken (adapted from Allrecipes.)

Ingredients:

  • 8 boneless, skinless, chicken cutlets
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour with the next 5 ingredients. Dredge the chicken through the flour and place the chicken in the slow cooker. Whisk together the marmalade, chicken stock, curry powder, cayenne pepper, and ground ginger in a bowl. Pour over chicken breasts.
  2. Cover, and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours, or on Low for 5 to 7 hours. Make sure to flip over the chicken breasts once during cooking.
This meal didn't turn out so well and although it was really simple for me to throw in and not worry at all about for the day, T. has made me promise to not ever make it again! I didn't think it was all that bad but then again I got hit with a monster of a cold this afternoon and can no longer smell or taste anything. I guess that's a good thing from what the kids and T. said!!!

What it used up in from my fridge and freezer:

frozen chicken cutlets
jar of reduced sugar marmalade that tasted like crap
some left over chicken stock from another recipe last week


As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Still cleaning out the freezer and "Happy Meat"

"Happy" Rib Steaks with Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas and Parsley Potatoes!

I guess one of the reasons that I am so determined to get the freezer cleaned out and the food down to a manageable level in there is that with all of the storms lined up in the Atlantic I think that maybe we may loose electricity due to one of them. I would be so upset with myself if I let all of that wonderful food go to waste.

Crazy in the Atlantic right now!

As it is I have about a case of organic green peppers...I think I am going to stuff some of them this week, a case of organic zucchini, about $200 worth of "happy meat" from the grass fed cow (Jenn the Left Over Queen did a great post on this last week about the importance of eating grass fed beef, and said it so much better than me!) we had butchered about a month ago and a whole bunch of miscellaneous things, most of which I don't even remember! Some of which we don't even eat anymore. I know there are so pork chops in there that we won't eat because they are not grain fed, antibiotic and hormone free. What am I suppose to do with all of this stuff???

Anyway the other day I pulled out a package of the grass fed cow that was marked rib steak. Let it thaw nice and slow on the counter and the fridge. Also found some pretty dried up looking frozen sugar snap peas. I thawed those out as well and started to work on some potatoes for parsley potatoes (everyone's favorite here!).

The sugar snap peas were easy. Thaw them out and saute them in olive oil. Near the end of the cooking add some chopped garlic and when all of it is cooked up nice and heated through a few splashes of soy sauce and you have a great side dish!

The steaks were marinated (for about 30 minutes) in soy sauce, chopped garlic, pepper, dried oregano and a splash of olive oil and then grilled.

Any ideas on the zucchini and peppers???

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What to do with all the bits and pieces?

I was having a bit of a dilemma. My fridge was full. My freezer was full. I knew I needed to start taking some drastic measures! Actually eating what I had and not buying more or wasting any leftovers. Just from the challenges that I did last week I had crumb topping, chocolate cream puff filling, and chocolate sauce. I actually emailed my friend Jenn and she suggested a cake or pudding but that seemed like too much work and I may have had to get off of the couch earlier. But regardless this stuff was not going to go to waste.

Strawberries with an Oatmeal Crumb Topping

I threw the chocolate cream filling in the freezer and poured some cut up strawberries into a pie plate and topped them with the crumb topping and baked them in the oven at 375 for about 20 minutes or until they were hot and bubbly. Yanked them out of the oven. Used the chocolate cream filling as ice cream and served it all together topped with chocolate sauce.

Strawberries with oatmeal crumb topping, neopolitan ice cream and the chocolate sauce from the Daring Baker's éclairs!

OMG...Yummmmm! I used some regular ice cream for the girls and they just loved it as well! And now I found a use for all of that stuff...

What to do about the freezer?

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!

Judy
www.nofearentertaining.com