Sunday, January 31, 2010

Diva Delight: Blogs to know

I've recently been introduced to some new blogs be it magazines, internet searches or the like. Some are good for a finding the best deal, others are good for a few minutes of procrastination and of course there are the informative. In the effort to pass it forward, enjoy a few minutes, hours or days of staying off task!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

From Russia with Love!

Back in my college days, I use to fall asleep to the Cajun cooking of the big E. Talk about delicious dreams! The Food Network wouldn't have registered on my radar without him. His energy was (and still is) contagious and caused the network to really hit it's stride. It came as a slight surprise when they opted to not keep him on full time even though they continue to run his fabulous reruns. Of course, the Food Execs make lots of baffling decisions everyday.

Moving on to the food of the matter...I stumbled upon Emeril's Penne A La Vodka Casserole. I've long loved Penne a la Vodka (thanks Da Tommaso), so this dish sounded like a perfect idea for a cold, wintry day. Good news: It was! Mr. Diva, my Aunt and I all went back for seconds. I made a few changes because hey that's what we do! I went with the diced tomatoes with basil & oregano instead of average crushed tomatoes. I also just broke up the sausage instead of slicing, which seemed to work out fine and gave every bite a delicious sausagey taste. Whether you make a few adjustments or make it as the recipe as is, you've got a meat lovers treat with this recipe!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Soups Up!

I'm always on the quest for yummy go to soups. They are so comforting during cold, rainy days, which seem to be the norm lately. My latest attempt was Chicken and Brown Rice from Women's Health. The original recipe calls for chopped chicken, but I like shredded chicken a million times could be that chopped chicken reminds me of processed, bland chicken noodle soup. Blah! I've also opted for seasoned diced tomatoes to give the soup a little extra boost of flavor. Next time, I might even add in a little extra heat with some diced jalapenos/chili peppers. Finally, since Mr. Diva isn't a huge fan of whole grains, I substituted white rice for the brown. After all the tweaking, this soup was delicious and will definitely be made again. It's a great way to use up extra veggies, stock and chicken.

1 ½ t olive oil

1-2 c cooked chicken breast, shredded

2 large carrots, sliced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 small onion, diced

2/3 c rice

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with basil & oregano

1 small can diced chili peppers/jalapenos (possibly try)

5-6 c chicken stock

Heat oil over medium heat in a stock pot. Saute about 3 minutes, then stir in rice. Cook 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add chicken, tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce hit to low and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On the docket

I've been a bit of a slacker when it comes to recipe trials these days, so I've got lots to try out in the coming weeks. In my quest for more quality soup recipes, I'm giving Women's Health Chicken and Brown Rice Soup a whirl this week. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever really tried any recipes from WH, so it's a trial for them as well! Also on this week's agenda, Food & Wine's Free Form Sausage and Three Cheese Lasagna. In this case, they had me at sausage! We'll see what Mr. Diva thinks!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Salad ala Chipotle

It should come as no surprise to anyone that's seen my 2009 Christmas card or read previous posts that I'm a fan of Chipotle. Nearly a year ago, they introduced their salad with the delicious Chipotle Honey vinaigrette. I immediately feel in love with the heat. It took me a few months to realize (I blame the move) that I could be making this at home. I took to the ever helpful net and found a few options. As always, I married the recipes and came up with my own version. For last week's Julia dinner, I paired it with a red & green leaf lettuce mixture accompanied with feta and granny smith apples. The spice and tart were a great pair!

Spicy Vinaigrette
1/3 c Red Wine Vinegar
1/3 c honey
1 1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 t lime juice
1/2 t paprika
3/4 t pepper
3/4 t salt
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t dried oregano
1/2 c EVOO

In a blender, combine all ingredients, slowly drizzling the oil at the end. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Channeling Mrs. Julia

Like anyone who's seen Julie & Julia over the past year, I was salivating to try Beef Bourguignon. The challenge came for it's tasty reviews, but also from the fact that everyone kept saying it was so difficult. I mean it's a glorified beef stew, right?!?! Rarely have I been intimated by a recipe, but the build up surrounding this special dish put it a whole different culinary stratosphere. I read and read the recipe on several sites as well as the many comments from other tasters. Still I felt like I could do this dish, and was fully prepared for the massive time needed.

Thursday I assembled my larder and eagerly began to chop the veggies, prep the beef and the herb bouquet. I contemplated making the dish the day before as some suggested, but just didn't want my dinner guests to miss the succulent wafts that were promised. So Friday, I busied myself with errands and frivolous activities to keep my mind off how excited I was to make this dish!

Even though I had prepped a good deal of the items, it still took a solid hour before I put the beef in the oven for the 2 1/2-3 hour cook time. As friends arrived, the beef bourguignon had sufficiently given my home a smell of roasty goodness! Everyone kept trying to get a sneak peek in the oven, but with the lid on tight, it would have to wait. Finally, the moment came: Would I be ordering pizza or would the holy grail of Julia Child prevail? Well Mrs. Julia refuses to let you down! This dish was as billed...very tasty! The meat look so dark from both the wine and the beef stock that you almost thought it was burnt; however, you realized it was just perfection as your fork easily pierced the skin. So yes, it was a big hit.

The next question is: Will I make it again? Well, for all the work, I've got to say probably not. I've got some other recipe mainstays that are just as much of a knockout with nearly 90% less effort though I still might try a few more recipes from Mrs. Child.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Savor every bite!

A friend shared Roger Ebert's blog with me. The current entry reminds me of a favorite book, Same Kind of Different as Me, where something similar happens. Just a reminder to savor every bite!
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