Saturday, September 29, 2012

I am alive!

This week I was hit with the terrible flu/evil sickness that has been going around my office. Tom got it first (we work at the same place) and then kindly passed it to me. I then ended up sick as heck, only really coming out of the haze on Thursday afternoon, it was not fun at all. So I definitely have no food to talk about this week, but I can offer up some cute photos of my nurses...

did someone say DOOFUS FACE?

Yum, grass

We don't employ the most competent staff around here ;) I hope you all had a great week, I will be off to visit some blogs over the next couple of days.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tuna, Black Bean, and Red Pepper Salad

While the rest of the country seems to be enjoying some Fall like weather, Arizona is still feeling the heat. I think we actually got to 105 yesterday. This quick salad filled me up and kept me out of the hot kitchen so I could pretend like maybe it might actually cool off here someday soon.

You don't need much for this salad from the magazine All You, I cut the recipe in half because canned tuna and capers make Tom cringe.

All you need are some beans, I used black beans, red wine vinegar, olive oil, olives, tuna, mustard, red peppers and if you'd like, some capers. You could even add a little bit of finely chopped onion.

There is not much prep involved in this salad. Chop up your peppers and olives and open and drain your tuna.

Mix your vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.

Stir in the olive oil.

Add in everything else and give it a good stir.

Looks good already! Put it in the fridge for an hour or so to let all the good flavors really permeate the tuna and beans.

Tuna, Black Bean, and Red Pepper Salad
Serve it over some lettuce or spinach and you have a tasty lunch or side dish.

I hope you all have a great week, send some cooler weather my way!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Favorite Things #36 - The Netherlands

A few people have commented on my new header photo, which is one of my own pictures that I took in the Netherlands in 2009. Tom and I will be going back in November and to say I can't wait is a huge understatement. Tom grew up taking family vacations there because of his Dad's job and he fell in love with it. When I met him he carried a photo of Amsterdam in his wallet.

We decided to take our honeymoon there in 2008 and I fell in love with it as well, it is just such a beautiful and relaxing place to visit. We went back in 2009 and haven't been since so we are both so excited.

So here are some pictures of my favorite place after Arizona!


Dining with my kitty friend
There are cats in most bars and some restaurants in Amsterdam. The staff will gladly get them out of your way if you are not a fan, but this adorable little guy sat on my lap through my whole meal. That is a delicious pancake with ham that I am eating, the dutch love giant eggy pancakes, almost like a super sized crepe.

another shot



The bread and cheese in Amsterdam is AMAZING. Tetra cat eyeing Tom
This cat loved Tom, I will be so excited if he is still there when we go back.

Tom gives the kitty dining etiquette tips
Ok, all the cats loved Tom :)

Finally a very classic view from Amsterdam...


Have you been to the Netherlands? What is your favorite vacation spot?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best Thing I Ever Ate - Guilty Pleasure

Several years ago I started visiting the various Asian markets in the Phoenix area and was always amazed at the products in their bakery. Cute little buns that seemed to be stuffed with all sorts of interesting things. I finally decided to give one a try and selected the 'custard bun'. I was forever changed...

Ok that is a little dramatic, but seriously, these things are amazing. A light flaky bun with just the slightest sweetness filled with a thick and creamy custard. It is heavenly but it is a giant carb and fat bomb! That is why I consider this one of my guilty pleasures, something to enjoy once every few months with a nice strong cup of coffee.

I finally tried Cafe Du Monde coffee with my favorite custard bun from the Asian market

What is your guilty pleasure food?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ramen Soup with Vegetables

I have been really in the mood for soup lately even though it really hasn't cooled off all that much in Arizona. Maybe I am anticipating my upcoming trip to the Netherlands, which would explain my new header photo. Do you like it? I also realize that a lot of you gardeners probably have an abundance of vegetables right now. This soup is perfect and so versatile. Oh and did I mention it is easy as could be? Well, it is.

recipe from Everyday Food
This recipe comes from the magazine Everyday Food, one of my favorites for many years. I cut this in half because Tom was not touching this soup with all of the weird textures and cooked veggies.

You don't need much, some stock (use veggie for a vegetarian soup), some diced tomatoes, ramen, onion, celery, carrot and some beans. Again though, you can use whatever you have on hand.

Chop up your veggies. That is the most difficult part of this meal.

softening the veggies
Get the veggies in a pot with some olive oil and cook them until they are soft, about 6-10 minutes.

add in the broth and tomatoes
Add in the broth, and the tomatoes and bring it to a boil.

add in the noodles
Open up the ramen and ditch that seasoning (salt) packet. I like to break the ramen up a little before adding it. Reduce the heat a bit and let this simmer for about 3 minutes, ramen cooks in no time at all.

Ramen Soup with Vegetables
Simple veggie noodle soup in no time at all! You could drizzle a little bit of chili oil on this to kick it up if you wanted to, or stir in some sriracha. Like I said, this is a super versatile recipe that you can personalize any way you would like.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Favorite Things #35 - The Benni Harper Series by Earlene Fowler

A friend of mine recently got me interested in some mystery books published by Berkley Prime Crime. They actually publish numerous mystery series in all kinds of themes and topics, including cooking themed mysteries. One that I have been reading like crazy is the Benni Harper series by Earlene Fowler.

earlene fowler series
The pile in the back is what I have already read and the book in front is what I am currently reading. After that one I still have two more to go! I thought for sure I would get bored somewhere in the middle, but they are still just as entertaining as the first one.

What are your favorite types of books to read?

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Chicken

There is a local Mexican restaurant here called Mucho Gusto and they used to have some of the very best food in the East Valley in the Phoenix area. Recently I have heard that they haven't been putting out the same quality of food, but back in the day I used to love this Tequila Chicken that they would have on special most days.

I got Tequila Chicken and Tom got Gaucho Steak
The chicken was super moist with a creamy tequila sauce and served with New Mexican mashed potatoes and sauteed veggies. It was heavenly. Tom was enjoying a steak and a big caeser salad.

What is your favorite way to enjoy chicken?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Hold on to your hats people, this recipe is a soup that is approved by Tom! A SOUP, I could fall off my chair. He has always said that soup is a four letter word to him, something to be muttered under his breath in a most disapproving way. But for some reason I convinced him to take one bite and then a miracle happened, he liked it. He really liked it! So I can't say enough that you need to make this soup from the Food Network magazine.

This doesn't take many ingredients and you can bet that no cilantro was used in the making of this at my house. I cut this recipe in half, assuming I would be the only one eating it.

You will need some veggie stock, celery, roasted red peppers, potato, shallot, sun dried tomato, sour cream, and some grated cheese. I am super excited to get Delallo brand products here in AZ as they are from a small town in Western PA.

Chop up your veggies.

peppers drained and rinsed
Drain and rinse your red peppers.

cheese is grated
Grate your cheese, preferably on to a cute Corelle plate.

everything is ready to go
Get everything staged near the stove for easy cooking. A giant bottle of vodka is optional, but encouraged ;)

veggies in
Get your veggies in the pot over medium heat with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook these guys until they are soft, about 5-10 minutes.

everything in
Add in the broth, red peppers and sun dried tomatoes.

lid on it
Cover it up and bring it to a simmer. Take the lid off and let it cook for about 15 minutes.

getting ready to whirl
Transfer the soup in batches to the blender and add the sour cream. Here I confess that I got distracted by my husband talking on the phone and managed to shoot hot red pepper soup over a good portion of my kitchen. Steam in a blender is NOT your friend, so pay attention and puree in small batches. Once it is all pureed you are ready to serve!

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Top the soup with the grated cheese and dig in. This is such a perfect fall meal and would be delicious with a grilled cheese sandwich. Tom tested and Tom approved :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Favorite Things #34 - Trader Joes

One of the best things I have discovered since moving to Arizona is Trader Joes. I absolutely love the place and have found very few things there that I disliked. If you are unfamiliar with this little grocery store click the link and check it out.

I have some recent favorites I will share with you.

My current Trader Joes favorites
These cashews are like crack, seriously. The flavors are so perfect and go so well with the sweet cashews. I keep a bag of these in my freezer at all times.

My current Trader Joes favorites
This salsa is sweet and delicious. I love all of the Trader Joe's salsas, but this is a recent find for me.

This stuff is delicious
This stuff is AMAZING. Tom and I pretty much ate a whole container over a weekend. I actually think Tom likes this more than I do.

If you are fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe's nearby I'd love to hear about your favorite things?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Greek Chicken Pasta

One of my favorite magazines is Taste of Home. I grew up eating very simple comfort food, and that is what this magazine has every month. I knew when I saw this pasta dish it was going to be delicious.


Start boiling some water, preheat your broiler, and lets grab some ingredients.

The tattooed man in the background is not required for this meal, and will not eat it when you are done. You will need some cooked chicken, chicken stock, pasta, feta, butter, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, onion, parsley, and some yummy olives.

Chop up your tomatoes, olives and onion. I used my awesome new Rada knife.

Chop up the butter and the chicken.

Measure out your flour. Measure your chicken broth too, I didn't get a picture of that. Drop your pasta in the boiling water and lets get on to some deliciousness.

Get the butter melting in an oven safe skillet. Every once in a while you gotta splurge with a dish like this.

onions in butter, yum
You can imagine how awesome this smells, unless you are my friend Biz who does not like onions :) Cook the onion until it is softened.

ready to go in
I had everything else that was going in the pan standing by to go in, I think it all looks so tasty together.

onions and flour
Stir in the flour and cook for a minute.

Gradually add the broth, this is going to thicken up quick.

stir in the pasta
Stir in everything else but the pasta and get it all mixed together. This looks so awesome already.

Drain your pasta and it is almost time to eat!

ready to broil
Stir in the pasta and then pop this whole thing under the preheated broiler for about 5 minutes.

out of the broiler
Look at how great that looks after just a few minutes under the broiler.

Greek Chicken Pasta
Top with a little parsley and you are ready to enjoy this cheesy and creamy pasta dish. I cannot believe that my husband could pass this up after smelling it browning under the broiler, but more for me!!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!