Saturday, June 29, 2013

Favorite Things #53 - Rita's Water Ice

This weekend the Phoenix area is under an excessive heat warning. Right now it is 9:45am and it is already 104 degrees on my patio, in the shade. Yesterday our high was 116 and they are forecasting 118 for today. I have lived in AZ for almost 17 years and I am used to the fact that we will be over 100 degrees from May until October but 116 is HOT. Like go open your oven and feel that hot wind hit you and that is what walking through a parking lot in 116 degree heat feels like.

When it is that hot something cool is definitely in order. I was so excited to learn that one of the best Summer treats from the East coast had made its way to AZ, Rita's Water Ice. This place is SO good and one finally opened within reasonable driving distance from my house. It opened a few weeks ago but just by pure luck we went on their 'official' grand opening and we got FREE Italian ice!

Rita's Ice
I chose the Swedish Fish candy flavor and it was absolutely delicious and just as good as I remembered it from back in PA. Tom got the Blue Raspberry and had fun showing me his blue lips and teeth the whole way home.

I hope you are having a much cooler weekend where you are!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mustard Chicken Wings

The 4th of July is probably my favorite holiday. I love fireworks and I love grilling up burgers and hot dogs. I also love tasty appetizers and these Mustard Wings really are simple but packed with flavor. You can do them in the broiler pretty quickly or at a slower temperature depending on your schedule so they really are a great way to get food out for guests without having to do a lot of work.



We have nothing to preheat or prep at the moment because you want to let the chicken marinate for a while ahead of time. I let mine go for about 2 hours. Time to gather ingredients and get that started.

You will need spicy mustard, chicken wings, hot sauce, garlic, olive oil, lemon, and some pepper.

Combine everything together and add a pinch of salt if you'd like.

Put the chicken in a bag with the wings and toss it in the fridge and forget about it for a while.

ready to go in oven
Preheat your oven or broiler and get the chicken down on a pan. I like to use a wire rack over some foil so the wings get nice and crispy. Pop them in the oven and follow instructions for either the broiler or the oven method. I used the oven at 375 degrees.

The recipe has you basting with the marinade, it is important you do your last baste with at least 5-10 minutes of cooking left to kill anything lurking from the chicken.

Getting delicious!

Mustard Chicken Wings
These were super easy and full of flavor. It is a nice change from burgers and hot dogs or a fun and simple appetizer. I hope you are all having a great week!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fry's Walnut Taco Salad

My local grocery store sends out little pamphlets with coupons and recipes a few times a month and they usually have some tasty looking food. I saw this recipe for a taco salad that used walnuts instead of meat, I thought it sounded really interesting and I knew I had some walnuts in my freezer. I am so glad I gave this a try because it ended up being delicious and I didn't have to heat up my kitchen cooking anything.

recipe from Fry's

You will need some walnuts that have been soaking in water for 2-8 hours, cumin and cayenne or taco seasoning, tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, tomato, sour cream and some lettuce.

I made my own guacamole, which is super simple. Chop up your tomato and onion.

Mash your avocado with some salt, lime juice and a pinch of cumin. Stir in the onion and tomato and you are done. So easy.

walnuts and taco seasoning
Get your walnuts in a mini chopper or hand chop them and mix with the taco seasoning.

Chop until its kind of a meaty chunky texture.

on the lettuce
Put it on top of the lettuce and then add your other toppings.

sour cream
The recipe said to put the sour cream in a plastic bag and snip off the end. I made too big of a snip and it didn't turn out looking as nice as I'd hoped, but I know now for next time.

Walnut Taco Salad
All put together and ready to eat. This was surprisingly filling and delicious. The walnuts taste great with the taco seasoning and you will not miss the meat at all.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Person Behind The Plate #4

While I wish I could say I sit at home all day reading and cooking, I do have a job that I have been at for almost 13 years. I work in tech but I actually went to school for English education. My first loves were reading and writing. I still love reading and do it pretty continuously but don't write a lot outside of this blog. This past week I read Under the Dome by Stephen King and if you have not read it I highly recommend it.

Here is a look at my 'to read' shelf (well, one of them) in my closet. I have taken out several of those books since the picture was taken.

I am a book hoarder.  #NerdAlert #hoarder

I haven't made the jump to e-books yet, but I am sure I inevitably will have to.

What is the best book you have read lately?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Singapore-Style Rice Noodles

One of the blogs I enjoy reading regularly is written by Joanne who also contributes to Marcus Samuelsson's blog. She posted a recipe for Singapore Style Noodles and I had to give it a try because Tom has actually been asking me to make him some 'spicy noodles with vegetables'. So to find the recipe, please Click Here. Also click on Joanne's name to visit her site, she is hilarious and makes delicious food.

For this you will need some kind of noodle that you like, I prefer Somen. Onion, cooking oil that can cook at a high temperature (I use rice bran oil), curry powder (or whatever spice blend you like), green pepper, red pepper, cabbage, garlic, green onion, broth, mirin, soy sauce and brown sugar. A lot of ingredients, but this is super easy. Get some water on to boil and lets start prepping!

Chop your peppers. I scored pre chopped green peppers on Manager's special at my grocery store, so I didn't have to worry about those.

Slice the onion.

bok choy
Chop the cabbage. I used bok choy and I didn't use much because Tom was a little scared of it.

green onion
Chop the green onion.

chana masala powder
Measure your curry powder. Remember that most important part to a successful stir fry is have everything ready before you start to cook.

soy sauce mixture
Prepare the broth mixture and mince your garlic.

ready to cook
Get everything prepped at the stove so you are not running around.

noodles in
Drop the noodles and let them cook. Somen noodles only need about 3 minutes.

noodles out
Bail them out and lets get stir frying!

onions and peppers in
Get the oil nice and hot and drop in the peppers and onions. The key here is to stir or it will burn. Cook these for 3-4 minutes or until they are soft.

bok choy, garlic and curry in
Stir in the curry, garlic, and cabbage. Cook this for about a minute.

noodles and broth mixture in
Stir in the broth and the noodles and let those cook for about 2 minutes, then stir in the green onion and you are ready to eat.

Singapore Style Noodles
The spice blend I used was HOT as heck for me, Tom said he could taste the spice but it was not hot. But he said he would definitely eat this again, woo! Thanks for the inspiration Joanne!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Salad Days

Thank you all for the birthday and anniversary comments. I feel like I haven't cooked in weeks. I had not grocery shopped before our weekend 'away' and came home from that weekend and promptly got sick. This week I can't wait to start cooking again. I will be headed to the grocery store as soon as I catch up on what has been going on with all of my blog friends. Since I have been a slacker, I thought I would share an old post from the blog for a delicious salad since it seems like finally warm weather is upon most of the US. It is definitely here in AZ, today's high is going to be 110!

So if you want a quick salad that will fill you up and not heat up your whole house, check out this Steak salad with grapes and blue cheese.

Steak Salad with Grapes and Blue Cheese

What will be or was the highlight of your weekend?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Birthday and Anniversary Weekend at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel

Last Thursday was my birthday and this past Sunday was our wedding anniversary. We decided to do a little 'stay-cation' at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. As a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright I have always wanted to stay in this hotel that he consulted on the design of. They really showcase his style throughout the hotel and grounds.

The Biltmore
This is the front of the hotel, it is just gorgeous.

All of the grounds are just amazing to look at, they take such good care of it, which is hard in the desert!

stained glass in the lobby
This stained glass is in the main lobby, so bright and colorful.

Salt water pool
In the evenings the pools were practically empty, so we really got to relax.

Lavender drink
We tried some fun cocktails, including this one called Lavender and Lemons. The purple stuff in the bottom is candied lavender leaves.

Short Rib Macaroni and Cheese
This is a short rib macaroni and cheese that I got and I could not even finish half because it was so rich. But it sure was delicious!

Fries and Pork Taco
Tom got fries and a taco, but it was a PORK taco, which he has never tried before. He liked it. (Sorry for the blurry phone pic)

Amazing pizza
We ended up getting pizza two nights in a row because it was so freaking good. We have ate at this restaurant a few times, so I didn't feel so bad getting pizza. Twice.

I hope you all are having a great week and if you ever get a chance to come to Phoenix I would definitely recommend the Biltmore!