Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best Thing I Ever Made - Salsa

I love to make salsa, and I make it often. It is the one food that my husband really gets excited about and it could not be easier. My usual recipe is so simple: one can of diced tomatoes, 2 tbs yellow onion, 2 green onions, 1 clove of garlic, whatever chile peppers you like (usually 1-2) a pinch of cumin and salt to taste. Zap the stuff together in the food processor until it is whatever texture you like and you have a great, simple salsa.

When I made the salsa pictured below I thought there was no way Tom would try this, but apparently as long as it has the word 'salsa' in the name he is willing. He ate almost all of this in a very short amount of time. I would definitely call it a hit. In fact as I was typing this he saw the picture and said, I loved that!!

Avocado Salsa

Avocado Salsa


* 1-2/3 cups frozen corn, thawed
* 2 cans (2-1/4 ounces each) sliced ripe olives, drained
* 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 5 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 1/4 cup lemon juice
* 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 4 medium ripe avocado, peeled
* Tortilla chips


* In a large bowl, combine corn, olives, red pepper and onion. In a small bowl, combine garlic, oil, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper; mix well. Pour over corn mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. * Just before serving, chop avocados and stir into salsa. Serve with tortilla chips. Yield: about 7 cups.

Do you make your own salsa?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Michael Symon's Braised Chicken Thighs with Spicy Kale

One of my favorite celebrity chefs is Michael Symon. I have been fortunate enough to visit two of his restaurants, B Spot and Lola. If you are ever in the Cleveland area I highly recommend both. There is also a new B Spot in the Pittsburgh airport you can check out.

I recently purchased his new cookbook called Carnivore and it is awesome. I picked a chicken thigh recipe to share because if you have been following my blog you know I love thigh meat.

I cut this recipe in half because as the name of the blog informs you, I would be dining alone. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and lets get started.

You will need lemon, parsley, carrot, tomatoes, kale, chicken, wine, onion, garlic, bay leaves and bread crumbs. You know what else you need, jalapeno, because the name of the recipe includes SPICY. But guess who forgot the darn jalapeno? Yep, this lady. But cooking is all about improvisation, so I just dashed in some tabasco. Problem solved.

chicken salted the night before
The recipe says to salt the chicken the night before, and somehow I remembered to do that. I have done this a couple of times with meat based on Chef Symon's recommendation and I really like how it really brings out the flavor of the meat. It doesn't make it overly salty, don't worry.

I like to zest the lemon first because it smells so wonderful.

chopped veggies
Chop up your veggies.

chopped kale
Chop up your kale. You can use spinach or swiss chard in this as well.

Combine the parsley, bread crumbs, and lemon zest.

olive oil
Get some olive oil in a large pot and heat it up.

Put your thighs in skin side down and let them cook for about 4 minutes or until browned.

I am always paranoid about stuff sticking so I may have flipped mine too early. Cook on the other side for another 4 minutes.

chicken out
Get them out of there and let them hang out on a plate.

Drop in the onions and let those cook with some salt for about a minute.

carrots and garlic in
Add in the carrots and garlic. If you actually remembered the jalapeno it goes in now. Cook these for 2 minutes.

veggies swimming in wine
Add in the wine and scrape everything up from the bottom of the pan. Cook this until half of the wine is gone.

tomatoes and bay leaf in
Add in the tomatoes and bay leaf and once it starts bubbling you can put in your kale.

kale in
This looks like a ton of kale but don't worry this will reduce way down.

le creuset love
Put the lid on for about five minutes. I love my Le Creuset dutch oven!

ready to go in the oven
After the kale has reduced down put the chicken back in and put the lid back on. Put this in the oven for 20 minutes and walk away!

When it comes out of the oven sprinkle it with the breadcrumb mixture and you are ready to eat.

Michael Symon's Braised Chicken Thighs with Spicy Kale
This was so delicious, and so simple. Thighs are always on sale and I think they have a much better flavor than chicken breasts by a long shot.

Here is my bonus tip for leftovers...

leftovers will go into the crock pot tomorrow with broth for soup
Strip the meat off the leftover thighs and put it into a container with any leftover veggies and bread crumbs. The next day put all of this in a crockpot with some chicken broth and let it cook on low for 5-6 hours. You will have the most amazing soup with no work at all!

leftovers as soup!
So easy and so delicious.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Best Thing I Ever Made - Seafood

I knew what I was posting this week as soon as I saw the topic, seafood. This tuna recipe will make you look like a rockstar and it could not be easier.

The recipe is for Sesame Seared Albacore Tuna and it looks fancy, and tastes delicious.

Sesame Seared Albacore Tuna Steak

What is your favorite recipe that looks gourmet but is super simple?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Healthy Harvest Chili

One of my guilty pleasures is reading People magazine. They usually include one or two recipes per issue and this one caught my eye because it looked super easy and cheap, who doesn't love that?

I did one less can of beans than it calls for so that it did not make a ton of food. I love leftover chili but not for a whole week. One thing to note is the seasoning packets have a lot of salt in them, so you do not need to add any more during the cooking process for this to turn out delicious.

You will need some ground turkey or chicken, beans, tomatoes, onion, corn, a taco seasoning packet and a ranch dressing seasoning packet. Talk about easy, you don't even have to measure anything!

Chop up your onion and get it in the pan with some olive oil. Cook this over medium for 8-10 minutes or until the onion just starts to brown.

Once your onion is cooked get the meat in the pan. Cook that for about 5 minutes.

everything in
Once the meat is ready stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring it to a boil. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes and you are ready to eat. I told you this is easy!

The best part of this recipe is that while the chili simmers, there is nothing to clean up! Use that 20 minutes to do some holiday shopping online, call a friend, or just relax.

Leo Howard's Chili
Get the chili into a bowl and enjoy! This could easily be done in a crock pot as well, just brown the meat and onions and throw everything in the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.

I hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Favorite Things #40 - Cupcakes

I love cupcakes, anyone who knows me well is aware of this fact. Instead of a cake at our (very casual) wedding we had cupcakes. I ask for cupcakes for my birthday instead of cake. So can you imagine my inner joy when a new friend happened to mention he owns a cupcake business with his girlfriend? I seriously had the urge to hug him and jump up and down like a little girl, but I somehow maintained my composure.

Fast forward to the day after we get back from Amsterdam and I am jet lagged and we have no food in the house. My friend texts me and says he has a present for me and is stopping by. He and his girlfriend had made us cupcakes. Seriously, everyone needs friends like this!!

yummy cupcakes Those are pumpkin pie cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting and they were totally amazing.

everyone loves cupcakes

If you are in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and need cupcakes I highly recommend Sweet Cakefessions!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Best Thing I Ever Made - Sandwiches

I am not a huge sandwich person, but when I do have one I like them to be warm so it is no surprise my best sandwich I ever made is actually a panini! The star ingredient in the sandwich is braised leeks, which I made in this recipe paired with pasta. If you have never made braised leeks before, I highly recommend you at least try that recipe.

If you want to take it to the next cheesy and tasty level, go ahead and try the sandwich recipe

Braised leek and Swiss cheese panini

It is funny to me looking back on my blog because I made that recipe in January 2008 and I think my food photography and my blogging have come a long way.

Do you prefer a hot or a cold sandwich or sub?

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I won't bore you with too many words but we had a wonderful time and we already can't wait to go back. Now with some photos!

One thing I have wanted to try since going to Amsterdam the first time in 2008 is Maoz falafel. Tom and I really are not the fine dining type, so street food and things that are quick and easy are more our style. Here is the awesome news, Tom tried falafel...and he LOVED it. We actually ended up at Maoz twice!

Falafel and fries with mayo at Maoz today. We walked 10 miles so we can handle some fried goodness! #Amsterdam #maoz

Delicious and 50 feet from our hotel. #Amsterdam #burgerbar
I also became a little obsessed with this burger place that was on our street, it was always busy and now I know why. You pick the style of beef you want, toppings and then they cook it up right in front of you.

I am in love with Burger Bar
Not the best photo, but one of the best burgers I have ever had.

Pancake Bakery
Of course we got the traditional Dutch pancakes, mine was cheese and pineapple and Tom's was tomato, onion and bacon.

Smoked salmon and scrambled egg sandwich with sour cream and chives
Not the best photo but this is one of the best things I had there, a smoked salmon, scrambled egg sandwich with sour cream and fresh chives. So simple, but so full of flavor.

And now some scenery pics, and then a photo of one of the very best things I have ever ate in my life...

Sunshine on the canal


decorated building

Rijks Museum

cool building on a canal

Magere Burg aka Skinny Bridge


Finally, the meal I am going to dream about, first of all, here is the view from where we ate...

View at lunch #Amsterdam

And this is what I got... my delicious beef carpaccio

Beef carpaccio with shaved parmesan, pine nuts, arugula and truffle mayonaise served on fresh bread. Seriously, one of the best things I have ever had in my life. I hope you enjoyed all the photos and I will be back to regular blogging soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Back from Amsterdam

Well, we are back and life is slowly getting back to normal. Of course now it is time for Thanksgiving and the Holidays, so normalcy will be over again for a while. I will put together a post with more photos but here is one of my favorites of a tiny bar serving many kinds of Jenever, which is a Dutch gin.

De drie Fleschjes

I am excited to get back to visiting everyone's blogs! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Favorite Things #39 - Relaxing

We are gearing up for our trip to the Netherlands next week so I am going to be pretty absent from the blogging world for a while. I will try to get one more post in before we go, but I haven't been cooking much and my brain is definitely elsewhere as we plan our vacation.

But all the planning will be worth it when I see this...

BINK! my favorite

This is my favorite beer (Bink) on the table at In de Wildeman in Amsterdam. Sitting here and people watching is one of the best things about being on vacation, just being able to sit back and relax and watch the world go by.

What is your favorite way to relax on vacation?