Thursday, May 31, 2012

Favorite Things #23 - My Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday and it was great! I am not one of those people who hate their birthday, I always enjoy mine. I went to work for half a day then came home and watched The Next Food Network Star and read the book Drive by James Sallis. Tom and I then went out to a local sports bar to have a drink and grab some take out, I got hot wings!

We then went to his parents and I got some gifts and we just hung out for a while.

I got home and opened gifts, I am so so lucky to have such kind and generous people in my life, look at all this stuff!

Obviously I am a big Steelers fan and my sister hooked me up with some of the local gear, as well as that awesome wok and the socks. Tom got me everything else except the air popper which came from his parents. My brother also got me an Amazon gift card. I am too spoiled. I can't wait to try out my new camera on some recipes to share with you guys!

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Hot Dogs

First of all, Happy Memorial Day! I hope you are all having a nice day with your families and thinking of all of those we have lost that this day honors. Memorial Day always reminds me of cook outs and my favorite cook out food, hot dogs!

A little over a year ago my husband, Tom, started going to lunch at a place called Maui Dog and told me all about the unique hot dogs they served there. I LOVE hot dogs, so I was intrigued, and I was also amazed that Tom was eating hot dogs with coconut and pineapple on them. I had to go!

The delicious hot dog you see below is called the "Island Dog" and is topped with chipotle garlic mayo, maui mustard, coconut sauce, pineapple and BACON!
I miss maui dog!

Sadly Maui Dog did not survive, these are tough times for new restaurants. I really want to try and recreate this hot dog, so I will let you know if I am successful and share the ingredients. The spicy mustard and coconut sauce will be the tricky part.

What is your favorite cook out or BBQ food?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Favorite Things #22 - Ice Cream Attachment for Kitchenaid Mixer

Thanks to my brother I have an awesome Kitchenaid stand mixer. Thanks to my husband I have an awesome ice cream making attachment for it. I finally gave it a try this past weekend because it was 106 in Arizona! I made a strawberry buttermilk ice cream and it turned out so creamy and delicious. The strawberries were so fresh and full of flavor.

Kitchenaid with Ice Cream attachment

Kitchenaid doing work!

It runs quietly and the ice cream was done in about a half an hour, I am in love and want to make a ton of flavors.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Seafood

The first time I went to Amsterdam we didn't have much time to really do everything we wanted, and I didn't get to try everything I wanted to eat. The second time we went I insisted that I was getting mussels even if there was nothing on the menu for my husband to eat. So being the good sport he was he sat and enjoyed a Heineken while I ate the most delicious mussels I have ever had.


I am proud to say I finished almost all of them and the smell didn't even bother Tom.

What is the best seafood you have ever had?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rachael Ray's General Tso's Chicken

I am excited to share this recipe because this is the closest I have ever got to making Asian food that tastes like something I can get in a restaurant. This recipe came from the Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine and I cut it in half.

recipe everyday with rachael ray

You will need some broccoli, an egg white, vegetable oil, green onion, chicken, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, honey, corn starch and some garlic.

chopped chicken
Chop up your chicken into bite size pieces. The recipe says to lighten it up with breasts, but I used thighs because they taste better and they are cheaper.

green onion
Chop up your green onion and your garlic (woops no picture).

cornstarch soy egg
Combine the egg white, corn starch, 1 tsp soy sauce and the ginger. This is going to make a crazy thick paste, so do not be alarmed.

sticky chicky
Drop in the chicken and get it coated with the cornstarch mixture. I used my hands and while it was a sticky mess, it really was the easiest approach.

Combine the sesame oil, the rest of the soy sauce, 1 tbs corn starch, more ginger, honey and vinegar. Your sauce is now complete.

I was a little scared at this point, it was so sticky!
Heat some oil in a wok or large pan and add in the chicken. The recipe recommends you cook the chicken in two batches so you can fry them in a single layer. If you crowd the pan you will end up steaming your chicken instead of frying it. Because I cut this recipe in half I only had one round of chicken to cook.

chicken looking good
Give the chicken a flip, it looks crunchy and delicious already. You will want to cook this for about five minutes.

chicken out
Remove the chicken and leave about 1/2 tsp of oil in the wok.

onion and garlic in
Add in the green onion and the garlic. Stir fry this for about a minute.

everyone in
Add in the sauce mix and get the chicken back in there.

Looking totally awesome
Let it cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce is thick and the chicken is coated.

I also steamed up my broccoli in the microwave using my awesome Sistema Steamer and microwaved some rice. Everything is ready to plate!

General Tso's Chicken
Doesn't that look amazing?? I can guarantee it tasted as good as it looks too. This is one dish I was kind of glad I didn't have to share. :)

I hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Favorite Things #21 - Yasha From Russia

You might be asking yourself who in the world is Yasha from Russia?? Well, Yasha is a man who owns a Russian market in Phoenix that is actually named "Yasha From Russia". I grew up in Western PA where there is a lot of German and Polish influence on food. So even at our school cafeteria we would be served pierogies and people ate a lot of kielbasa, haluski and sauerkraut. I grew up eating these foods and get nostalgic for a good pierogi every once in a while. Yasha always has home made pierogies or 'dumplings' so I love his store. He also has over 30 kinds of salami and cured meats. This is what I picked up last time I visited.


I got beef sticks, flavored cheese, Hungarian salami, and two kinds of dumplings. The cheese dumplings actually have vanilla and sugar in them so they are both savory and sweet, and my husband LOVES them. So strange, but I am not questioning him :)

Do you have a favorite food from growing up that is unique or hard to find?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Sandwiches

I grew up in Western PA and was fortunate enough to visit architect Frank Lloyd Wright's unique home called Falling Water. I loved the house and became a fan of his homes and buildings. Another fortunate thing for me is I moved to Arizona where Frank Lloyd Wright had a home and architecture school called Taliesen West. He built many homes and buildings here and I have visited a few of them. He assisted in the creation of the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix where there is a restaurant inspired by his architecture called Frank and Alberts. We have gone here for my birthday for a few years now, and I love it!

Lobster Roll at Frank and Alberts
Last year I got this lobster roll sandwich, and it is the best sandwich I have ever had. My birthday is in a couple of weeks and I am hoping this is back on the menu! They even have a hamburger so the picky husband doesn't mind going here at all.

What is the best sandwich you ever ate?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Pasta Bake

I found this recipe for a cheesy tuna lasagna on and did a little tweaking. This will serve three.


1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 (12 ounce) can tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4-1/2 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
3/4 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/4 pound sliced mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in the tuna, soup, milk, garlic salt, oregano and pepper until combined. Spread 3/4 cupful into a greased 11-in. x 7-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Layer with three noodles (trimming if necessary), 3/4 cup tuna mixture, half of the cottage cheese and a third of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles, tuna mixture and mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

So my big swap was to use chicken instead of tuna and then egg noodles instead of lasagna noodles. You could make this as it reads and I am sure it would be delicious also, but recipes are just a guide, don't feel you have to follow them exactly. Unless you are baking, which is why I don't bake.

So preheat your oven, get some water boiling for the noodles, and lets grab some ingredients!
Cheesy Chicken Pasta Bake
You will need some noodles, cream of mushroom soup, garlic, oregano, cottage cheese, milk, onion, parmesan cheese, sliced cheese and some chicken or tuna. In the background you see my husband on the phone with my nephew going over his spelling words for the week. My husband is so awesome, he calls my nephew in PA to go over his words every day, they also chat about boy stuff like cars, hot sauce and video games. My niece and nephews lost their Dad to cancer last summer, so this time on the phone is really important to my nephew. So as you can see my husband rocks and it is totally forgivable that he did not even try this meal because it has chicken in it. ;)

Chop your onion and lets get this meal going!
chicken and onion
Get your noodles in the water and then get some oil or butter in a saute pan. If you are using the tuna just start cooking your onion, but if you are using chicken, get that in the pan and cook until the chicken is browned and the onion is soft.

ready to go in
Get everything else measured and on stand by to be thrown in the pan.

getting good
Stir in the tuna, soup, milk, garlic, oregano and some salt and pepper.

Check on your noodles, get them out when they are done to your liking

ready to bake
Stir those into the soup and chicken mixture.

noodles Spread half of the chicken mixture in the bottom of a greased casserole, preferably an adorable Pyrex dish.

cottage cheese
Add in a layer of the cottage cheese.

layer of provolone
Add in a layer of sliced cheese, this is getting awesome!

so much goodness
Add in another layer of the cottage cheese, I said this was cheesy and I meant it!

cheese on
Top with the rest of the chicken mixture and some parmesan cheese. Pop this in the oven for about a half an hour and then clean up your kitchen. Or just go read a book.

Cheesy Chicken Pasta Bake
This looks delicious all baked and crispy on the top

Cheesy Chicken Pasta Bake
Look at all that gooey and wonderful cheese. I really don't know how my husband turned this one down, but he just won't eat chicken. I hope you give this a try and I also hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Favorite Things #20 - Corn on the cob

I have lived in Arizona for quite a while and only within the last few years did I discover there are local farms in some of the suburbs that grow sweet corn. The corn is harvested in June so I am really looking forward to getting some fresh and delicious local corn. This is one of my favorite things to enjoy in the summer...

Such a delicious lunch!

What is one of your favorite summer foods?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Burgers

I am not a huge burger fan, but I am a HUGE Michael Symon fan, so when I go back to PA to visit my sister, we always try to make it to one of his restaurants. He owns a couple of burger places called B Spot. This is where I had the best burger ever!

My Thin Lizzy Burger at B Spot
This is the Thin Lizzy burger. Not only is it named after one of my favorite bands, it also includes some of my favorite ingredients. The burger is topped with cheddar, grilled onions, mayo and pickles. YUM.

If you ever get a chance to visit one of Michael Symon's restaurants, I highly recommend it.

What is the best burger you ever ate?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chili Chicken Pita

This recipe comes from a great little cookbook called Real Food Fast, by Nigel Slater. This book has a lot of recipes that make smaller servings, which is perfect for me!


Preheat your grill or broiler and lets gather some ingredients. You will need:
Peanut oil, yogurt, hot sauce or a hot chile, chili powder, paprika, honey, pita bread, chicken, green onion, garlic, lemom, shallot or onion.

Chop up the onion.

chopped chicken
Chop the chicken, I used thighs.

Combine the onion, garlic, oil and lemon juice. Add in the salt, honey, paprika and chili, dried and the fresh or hot sauce.

Add in the chicken and stir to coat, let this stand for at least 20 minutes.

making the sauce
Chop the green onion and mix together the sauce ingredients.

Mmmmmm saucy.

ready to broil
After the meat has marinated it is time to cook. I made my chicken in my toaster oven on broil.

pita is waiting
I tried top open my pita but it started to tear, so I just went with this solution

chicken is done!
Chicken is done!

Chili Chicken Pita
This was super tasty, moist and had tons of flavor. This is a perfect quick meal that you can marinate before you leave for work and cook quickly when you get home. I hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Favorite Things #19 - Crispin Chotokkyu Cider

Today's favorite is a new found summer drink that I am currently loving. Now you might be saying, Summer? It is still Spring! Not in Arizona, today it was 93 and it will be in the 90's all next week as well. I love ice cold fruity drinks in the summer and this new Crispin Chotokkyu Cider is so perfect.


This cider is dry, light, crisp and just tastes like the most perfect sparkling apple cider. It is made in Minnesota and the brand has been available in Arizona for about 2 years. If you like hard cider and can find this, I highly recommend it.

What is your favorite summer drink?