Thursday, March 29, 2012

Favorite Things #14 - Real Maple Syrup

My husband, Tom, has an aunt who lives in eastern Ohio. One of her husband's relatives owns a maple syrup farm called Bissell Maple Farm. One day out of nowhere a big package arrived for me at work and it was filled with amazing products from their farm!

Bissell Maple Farm products
The little bag on the left is candied pecans, those are pretty much gone already. I have tried everything but the BBQ sauce and it is all amazing. Even Tom, the picky eater who has only ever ate the cheapy store syrup loves it. The actual maple syrup is so rich and has such a unique complexity, it almost tastes like it has chocolate in it!

I made some simple broiled chicken thighs and brushed the maple mustard on in the last couple of minutes. It was one of the best and easiest chicken dinners I have ever had.

What is your favorite recipe using real maple syrup?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dining Alone on Facebook

I decided to set up a Facebook page for Dining Alone where I can share new posts and other thoughts, pictures, tips, etc.

If you are interested please 'Like' my page to follow along with what I am up to!

If you click you will find out what American food classic my husband will be trying tonight for the first time ever!

I hope you are all having a great week!

Edit: If you have a Facebook for your blog or site, please let me know in the comments so I can 'like' you back.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Salad

I had some veggies hanging out that I wasn't sure what to do with when I came across this recipe in Everyday Food Light.

recipe everyday food light
I didn't follow the exact recipe, but guess what, that is ok. Recipes are just a don't have to do EXACTLY what they say. Baking is a little less forgiving of tweaks...but that is why I don't bake :) Preheat your oven to 450 and lets go!

You will need some lettuce, yogurt, garlic, veggies to roast, olive oil and vinegar.

veggies ready to roast
I roasted up some sweet potato, red onion and sweet peppers. You can roast whatever you have on hand. Chop them pretty evenly, throw them in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and pepper and give them a toss. Lay them out in a single layer on a rimmed baking/cookie sheet and get them in the oven. Let them roast for as long as you want, these took about 40 minutes. I like mine really roasted.

roasted vegetables
Yummy sweet and savory goodness.

Now all you have to do is make the dressing and you are ready to eat.

Roasted Vegetable Salad
This was refreshing and filling and had so many fun textures, colors and flavors. If you are not a fan of hot and cold or sweet and savory this probably wouldn't be for you, but I loved it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Favorite Things # 13 - My dogs

I can't believe I got all the way to number 13 without mentioning my dogs as one of my favorites. Besides my husband and human family, these guys really are my number one.

Cleaning off Steve
I was going to post a picture of them all posed and serious, but this is what I love about them. They are total clowns and best friends. They have a ritual every night where they clean each other as if they were cats. It makes me laugh every time I look over and see them totally blissed out with their doggy spa treatment ;)

Just one more photo because it is too funny not to share...

Steeeeve is starting to figure out blankets...
All of our previous dogs loved going under the covers but Steve never really figured it out and didn't like it if I covered him up. He loves to chew on the blankets (note the many frayed ends you see) but didn't really understand they could keep him warm. As you can see here he is taking tentative steps in his blanket exploration.

Well this has been one of my favorite 'favorites'.

Do you have pets? Are you a dog or cat person?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Jamie's Chick Pea Soup from Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook

Even though I have a ton of cookbooks, I am always wanting more. My awesome sister knows this and got me the Top Chef Quick Fire cookbook for Christmas. It is a great book if you like the show, and also has super recipes if you could care less about the show.

We are enjoying the last of the cool temperatures here in AZ, heck it was downright COLD here yesterday. I am going to make a lot of soup and chili in the next few days while it is cool.


This recipe is so simple and it will warm you up with its richness and spice. I cut this recipe in half because there is no way Tom was eating this one!

You will need one jalapeno or serrano chile, one fresno chile, cream, yogurt, garlic, chicken or veggie stock, lemon, garbanzo beans, madras curry, sugar, onion, mint and NOT Cilantro...ok if you like it fine, but I used parsley.

pickled peppers
Slice up the jalapeno or serrano, I actually used an anaheim because that is what was in my drawer.

getting yummy
Add in the lemon zest, juice and sugar. Let this hang out for about a half an hour.

sliced and diced
While the peppers are getting awesome, chop up the onion garlic and the fresno chile.

Combine the yogurt, cilantro/parsley, mint, zest and lemon juice.

Now that we have all the prep done, lets start cooking!

garlic 15 seconds
Heat the olive oil over low heat and add in the garlic. Stir this around for about 15 seconds.

Add in the onions and let those cook until they are softened. Season with some salt and bring the heat up to about medium.

curry cooks 2 minutes
Stir in the curry and keep on stirring until the whole place starts to smell totally awesome, about 2 minutes.

fresnos cook one minute
Add in your fruity and delicious fresno and let that cook for another minute.

bubbling away - 15-20 min
Add in the beans and the broth and let this bubble away for about 20 minutes.

getting a little whirl in the food processor
If you have an immersion blender give the soup a whirl, otherwise transfer in batches to a blender or food processor to puree until smooth. You can see part of my husband's hot sauce collection on the counter. He is addicted to the stuff I swear!

looks good already
When you are done pureeing, get it all back in the pan over low heat and thin with the cream. I only used about a tablespoon of cream.

Jamie's Chick Pea Soup
Top with a bit of the yogurt mix and your pickled peppers.

This was so good, and so simple. The flavors were rich and complex and my house smelled like fabulous curry until well into the next day. I love soups that just make you feel all warm and cozy.

What is your favorite soup?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Random Facts A-Z

I saw this little survey on Katie Did's blog and thought I would give it a go, I haven't done one of these things in ages. If you would like to do it, here is a nice template for it.

A is for age: 35

B is for breakfast today: So far I just had some coffee, that will probably be it.

C is for currently craving: french toast

D is for dinner tonight: Buffalo Chicken Chili

E is for favorite type of exercise: Walking

F is for an irrational fear: tornados and the dark

G is for gross food: cilantro and bananas!

H is for hometown: Homer City, PA

I is for something important: My family, including my dogs.

J is for current favorite jam: Anything by Mac Miller

K is for kids: Not for us.

L is for current location: Rainy and cold Scottsdale AZ

M is for the most recent way you spent money: bought drinks for the family last night

N is for something you need: a big glass of water!

O is for occupation: Quality Assurance software tester

P is for pet peeve: LATENESS!

Q is for a quote: Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion - Edward Abbey

R is for random fact about you: I hate wearing shoes

S is for favorite healthy snack: Edamame

T is for favorite treat: cake

U is for something that makes you unique: I have a double jointed thumb

V is for favorite vegetable: sweet potato

W is for today’s workout: I got out of bed? ;)

X is for X-rays you’ve had: my right foot, I dropped a mesa boogie speaker cabinet on it

Y is for yesterday’s highlight: drinks with my In Laws for St Patty's day

Z is for your time zone: Arizona! We don't do daylight savings so we are in two different timezones throughout the year.

This was a lot of fun, let me know if you do it on your blog so I can check it out.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Favorite Things #12 - Cookbooks!

I love cookbooks and I have a lot of them. The amount of cookbooks I had really influenced my decision to start this blog. I would go through and mark recipes I wanted to make and then never actually cook. I didn't really feel like going through the trouble of just cooking for me. Then I realized that I could share my cooking, eating and the whole experience with a lot of amazing people by doing this blog.

So here are some of my cookbooks...

cook books

cook books
The rest are in various locations around my house, some waiting to be read, some waiting to be shelved, etc. But I am actually cooking and using these books now, instead of shelving them and not picking them up again.

So what is your favorite cookbook or cookbooks? Are there any that I just have to check out?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chicken Chili Beans

I think I have said it about 30 times on this blog but I love chicken thighs. I really am not a fan of chicken breast because it just doesn't have enough flavor for me. Thighs are cheaper too, what's not to love? Well, besides that extra fat. This is a pretty low fat recipe so its ok to use the thighs, I promise.

This recipe contains two big NO ingredients for the husband, beans and chicken. But in good news he has decided he now likes cole slaw and raviolis. I am making a little bit of progress over here.


Looks simple enough right? I cut it in half because this recipe serves 4. Let's get cooking.

You will need flour, chili powder, tomato paste, red or green pepper, whatever beans you like, tomatoes, garlic, chicken, chicken broth and onion. I bet you have most of this at your house right now!

Chop up the garlic, onion and pepper. I used my garlic press for my garlic. I was always a little hesitant about buying a press, but now I love mine.

flour and spice
Mix the spices into the flour.

Coat the chicken in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess.

chicken in
Heat the oil in the pan and get the chicken in there. Brown it for about 5 minutes, turning to get them browned all over.

fry for 3-4 minutes
Once they are browned get them out of there! I also removed most of the oil because I barely need any in my ceramic coated pan.

get the chicken out of there
Let the chicken hang out on some paper towels. I could have fried it a bit longer I think, but it tasted pretty darn good.

garlic, pepper, onion in
Get your veggies in and cook those for about 3 minutes.

bring to a boil
Add in the chicken broth, tomatoes, beans and tomato paste. Bring this tasty mixture to a boil.

put the chicken back in
Get the chicken back in and reduce the heat. Pop the lid on and let it cook for about 30 minutes.

lid on simmer 20-30 min
I love this picture because you can see that I am in a normal kitchen, and my normal kitchen is not always perfectly clean.

Chicken Chili Beans
After 30 minutes you are ready to eat! This was tasty and very filling, I was looking forward to the leftovers too.

Chicken Chili Beans leftovers made into soup
The next day I chopped up the remaining chicken, added some more broth and turned it into a delicious soup. I think I liked this even better than the way I had it the previous day.

I hope you are all having a great week! Tom (the picky husband) and I have been watching the Star Trek movies on Netflix and enjoying some Spring Training baseball on TV. What are you guys up to this week?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Favorite Things #11 - Cuties!

I finally picked up a box of these after the oranges I got from my In law's trees finally ran out. Being in AZ we have access to a lot of citrus this time of year, but it only lasts for so long! These little guys are awesome and I think I am the last person to actually try them. Even my dogs like them, and the one little segment makes the perfect treat for them.


Have you tried Cuties? Is there some food you are dying to try but haven't yet?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Low Fat Chicken Corn Soup

The allergy season here in AZ has started and it is a bad one for me. I have been feeling really drained and not that into cooking. This soup was simple, and definitely the comforting kind of thing I need when I am not feeling well. My husband seems to think I just need some habanero salsa to clean everything out. I beg to differ and will stick with the soup.

recipe from low fat cookbook

recipe from low fat cookbook
Looks simple enough, lets get cooking!

You will need some tomatoes (canned or fresh), cumin or coriander, tomato paste, oregano, butter, shallot or onion, chicken, flour, corn, broth and peppers.

chopped shallot
Chop up your shallot. I am using a cute red Kuhn knife my MIL got me.

peppers chopped
Chop up your peppers, I had lots of leftover pepper in the fridge.

chicken seasoned
Season your chicken, I am actually using thighs, because I love them.

butter and oil
Heat the butter and oil in a pan...I didn't use as much butter as the recipe called for.

soften the onion
Cook the shallot until it starts to soften up.

brown the chicken
Get the chicken in the pan and cook it until it is brown on both sides.

stir in the flour for 1-2 min
Stir in the flour and cook for another 2 minutes.

broth in, boil for 5 minutes
Stir in the stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

everything in
Stir in the rest of the ingredients (I added some paprika for color too), my pot is full!!

lid on
Put the lid on and simmer for about 20 minutes.

chop the chicken
Take out the chicken and chop it up.

Chicken Corn Soup
Get it back in, give it a stir and check for seasoning. Add a little salt and pepper if you need it and you are ready to eat!

Chicken Corn Soup
I garnished with a little parsley and dug in. This was so good, and was actually even better the next day after hanging out in the fridge overnight.

I hope the rest of you don't have as bad of an allergy season as I am having!