Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Here in Northern New Jersey we were inundated with flood waters from the great Hurricane Irene.  I was able to escape to Florida luckily, so I am safe and sound in my comfy hotel on the beach.  I wish I took pictures from the plane of Irene from above.  She was a massive Hurricane stretching over 450 miles wide.  Seeing a hurricane from above was amazing, and to be lucky enough to see such a massive storm from above for such a weather geek as I was a special treat.

Unfortunately, back at the ranch, here is some of the flooding we will be dealing with for the next few days:

I will be posting food blogs as soon as I get back to NJ.  I would love to make Spicie Foodie's refrigerator pickles, they look amazingly good!  'Til next time!
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August YBR Roundup- Updated below

I have submitted my first YBR Recipe!  I have chosen the Chicken Poppers dish to represent my blog for the month of August.  Anyone can join as long as you have a blog and are willing to follow the few small requests from Spice Foodie.  This is a nice way for the food loving community to share their favorite recipes from all over the world with each other.  Click the image below and see what all the fuss is about!

Update: August's YBR has been cancelled due to the tragic loss of Panchito, the third furry, four-legged member of Nancy's (Spicy Foodie) family. My thoughts go out to Nancy and family at this trying time. I love the poem she posted at the end of her tribute to sweet Panchito. For those of you suffering from the loss of a loved one, please read and feel the presence of your loved one surrounding you wherever you are.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die…
-Mary Frye-
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Pop goes the chicken, and the chicken goes...

Well I'm starting to eat normally again, so I attempted a home cooked meal for once.  Last night's dinner was the coined "Chicken Poppers" which is a stuffed chicken breast wrapped with bacon, but with a kick of heat.

chicken poppers


4- 8oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded
1- 8oz container of whipped cream cheese of your choice (I use Breakstone's Temp Tee)
1- Jar diced jalapenos (if you can't find diced, just buy the slices and dice yourself)
12 slices low sodium bacon- NOT thick cut!  The bacon doesn't crisp if it is cut too thick
4 Tablespoons chipotle seasoning of your choice (I use Konriko brand- bottle shown below)


1.  Butterfly each breast and pound (but try not to tear the chicken).  I have learned that when you pound any kind of meat, you need to guard against splashing the juices around as you hit the meat.  (Please ignore all double entendres tyvm)  A perfect way to protect yourself from splashing Salmonella into your mouth is to first lay one sheet of wax paper and tape it down to the counter.  Then put your protein on top, then a layer of saran wrap goes on top.  Now you are ready to pound your meat!  (That one was intentional.)

2.  Put even amounts cream cheese in the middle of each fillet.  Try to keep the cheese towards the middle, leaving all four sides bare (makes rolling and tucking easier).

3.  Add a heaping teaspoonful of diced jalapenos on top of the cream cheese, and spoon a little juice on top from the jar.

4.  Roll it up like you would a burrito, tucking in the sides as you roll.

5.  Wrap with 2 to 3 slices of bacon each, depending on the size of the fillets, and place in a pyrex baking dish, and sprinkle a teaspoon of chipotle seasoning on each wrap.

6.  Bake at 350 Degrees F for approximately 40 minutes or until bacon is crispy and the chicken juices run clear.

I usually plate one chicken wrap (with some of those juices spooned on top) with a some broccolini and some Knorr Herb Butter rice sides.

I had mentioned the lemon blueberry crumb bars in my last post, and I didn't want those waiting for the outcome to feel left in the dark.  I did make them this past weekend, and I substituted the sugar with baking splenda for health reasons.  I have to say it came out pretty good!  Not as tasty as I had hoped, but I bet if I had used brown sugar in the crumbs, it would have been a knock out.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011


I know I haven't been posting much lately but life has a knack for getting in the way of things I like to do.  This week it was the stomach flu that had the pleasure of gracing my presence.  Here is my most exciting meal for the week:

What I plan on making soon are these enticing lemon blueberry crumb bars that look amazingly easy and tasty.  Stay tuned!

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Monday, August 8, 2011


Couldn't resist the Seinfeldism (Newman on The Soup Nazi episode).

This weekend I attempted Chicken and Smoked Sausage Jambalaya after reading Cajunlicious' guest post  from Nola Mommy.  The recipe is both easy to understand and cost effective for those on a tight budget.

So before I start heating anything, I always prepare all of my ingredients ahead of time.  This allows me to cook in a more calm environment where I can focus on flavors and cooking style instead of rushing around the kitchen trying to cut or measure something before the meal burns.

The Jambalaya recipe calls for 1 cup diced onion, 1/2 cup diced celery and 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper, and 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (which I conveniently had already minced in a jar in the fridge).

Celery dicing tip:  Slice the celery stalks lengthwise first, then line them up at one edge and dice into small squares.

The result is evenly sized celery squares that are perfect for sauteing.

Bell Pepper de-seeding tip:
Turn bell pepper upside down and slice sides away as you would peel an apple.

Then slice sides lengthwise to make perfectly sized bell pepper slices.

If you want to dice the pepper slices, line up the slices at one end like you did the celery slices, and cut into evenly sized squares.

The recipe calls for 8 oz (1/2 lb) smoked sausage, and I picked Polska Kielbasa to use in the dish because I love the stuff.

Dice the kielbasa by slicing into rounds and then quartering the rounds into four cubes per round.

Next, cube the 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast and season with approximately 2 Tablespoons Cajun seasoning.  (The recipe calls for only 1 teaspoon but I found 2 tablespoons nicely coated the chicken.)  Mush the chicken around to coat all the cubes.

Preheat your stock pot on medium-high with 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil.

Measuring cooking oil tip: Count to 1 while pouring the oil and that is one Tablespoon. If you need two tablespoons, count to 2, etc.  No need to dirty a measuring spoon to measure cooking oil!

Heat the oil until a piece of chicken inserted into the hot oil causes it to sizzle.  Then the oil is ready to cook the chicken properly.  Put all of your chicken in the hot oil and cook for about 5 minutes, turning the chicken once after 2 and a half minutes.  this will cook the chicken long enough to cook the outside until golden but not fully cook it through so it doesn't dry out.  If you find the chicken is sticking to the bottom of the pot, turn down the heat a bit.

Next add the kielbasa and cook it for about 5 minutes longer, just to heat the kielbasa through.  Then add the garlic, bell pepper, celery and onion and cook for another 5 minutes.

While the vegetables cook and soften, use this time to dissolve the Tablespoon of dry dark roux in 1/2 cup warm water.

For those of you like me who live on the East Coast and have no idea what I am talking about when I say dark roux, you can order it here.  Roux is a mixture of flour and fat, usually butter and cream, that is used in this recipe to color the jambalaya.  For more information on how to make a traditional roux, click here.  Making a roux is time consuming and many prefer to buy the less caloric and easy to store powdered roux.  The link listed above is where I got mine.

Now after the five minutes are up, add the dissolved roux and cook for an additional 10 minutes, occasionally stirring to mix and coat everything in the pot.

Next, mix in the 2 cups uncooked long grain white rice and 3.5 cups low sodium chicken broth.

Add a bit more Cajun seasoning if you so desire (Nola Mommy's suggestion and I have to say that I did it and it tasted great).

Bring to a boil and cover.  Cook on medium for 30 minutes, mixing occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn.

Nola Mommy suggests sprinkling the top with some sliced scallions as garnish, which is what I did in the picture at the top of the post.  She also suggests adding Tobasco sauce to the dish, which I did, approximately 10 shakes per bowl, and it brought out the flavors and added some welcomed heat to the dish.

Overall, this dish was a success.  My DH requested this to be on our regular menu, which is what I use as part of my success-o-meter.  I also loved the flavors in this simple dish.  My only issue was I added more than the required vegetables which created too much liquid in the pot, making my rice come out too mushy.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Your Best Recipe Monthly Roundup

You might have noticed the new YBR logo on the right side of this blog.

Every month all the food bloggers in-the-know send their month's best recipe from their personal food blog to the YBR roundup and at the end of the month, all these best recipes are listed in a neat little monthly roundup on Spicie Foodie's blog.  Anyone can submit a recipe as long as it is listed on their own blog during that month's roundup, and it must be your favorite blog recipe of that month's posts.  This recipe can be a unique recipe or can be an adaptation from someone else's recipe as long as you give credit where it is due on your blog post.  You must also post a welcome to all other bloggers to join YBR and use one of the badges on the Spicie Foodie's blog site so that we can all enjoy the best recipes from all over the world.

The best part of the YBR monthly roundup is this is not a competition but a great place to find some really wonderful recipes for all to share.  What are you waiting for?  Go visit July's roundup now!
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Monday, August 1, 2011

Dinner in 30

I love to cook, it isn't a secret anymore since this blog has gone public.  However, there are many nights where the thought of cooking makes my toes curl.  These are the nights where I pull out supermarket splendors like Gorton's Fish and Ragu sauce to make a filling meal that I find oh-so-comfy.

Step 1: Preheat oven according to box directions for the frozen fish of your choice.  At the same time, boil a large pot of water with a bit of olive oil in it.

Step 2:  Put 1 jar of your favorite sauce (I use Ragu Traditional) in a large sauce pan.  Add approximately 1 Tbsp of dried basil, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Add approximately 2 Tbsp garlic powder and about 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.  Cook on medium high until bubbling and take off heat.

Step 3:  Start fish cooking in oven.  I prefer Gorton's battered fish fillets, which take 12 minutes on each side at 425 degrees F, totalling a 24 minute cook time.

Step 4:  When the water is boiling, place pasta in the water, and boil for one minute less than the lowest cooking time on the box.  I tend to use Ronzoni's Thin Spaghetti, which lists a 9-11 minute cook time.  I would cook the pasta for 8 minutes and strain but not rinse.

Step 5:  When the pasta is finished cooking and has been strained, place the sauce back on a low heat setting and add all the pasta and 4 Tbsp of the pasta cooking water and mix it all well.*  This adds the starch to the water and creates a nice consistency in the sauce.  Cook the pasta and sauce together on low heat for about two minutes, until heated through and combined nicely.

 *note: I like to use cooking tongs instead of a spoon to mix the pasta. I find I have much more control over the pasta and it ends in much less sauce splatter.

Step 6:  At this point the fish should be finished and ready to be plated.  The fish is cooked when the outside is golden brown on both sides.   Now it is time to plate.

Step 7:  Plate your food.  I like to add a bit of parmesan cheese on top of the pasta.  I also heat a can of green beans in the micro, but choose a veg of your choice.  You might prefer a fresh crisp salad on a hot summer night, or perhaps you have a bag of frozen veg in the freezer that needs a bit of steaming in the microwave or over a pot of hot water.  If you prefer fresh vegetables, you can quickly steam some asparagus or green beans or broccoli etc over a pot of boiling water.  All choices take about 5 minutes.

For dessert I like to cut up some fresh fruit.  Tonight I chose to cut up some canteloupe as they have been really sweet lately and I couldn't resist as I them by in the produce section.

So, dinner in 30, and you didn't have to cut anything (well I cut canteloupe but if you really must avoid a knife at all costs, have a summer peach.)  Better yet, you didn't have to partake of the fast food craze that has become the Nouveau American Cuisine.  You will still have preservatives in your food because you are using canned sauce and frozen fish, but if you think ahead, you can have jarred homeade sauce on hand for nights such as these, and if you have a fish market by you, they often sell pre-breaded fish for your baking pleasure.  Unfortunately, I haven't started canning as of yet, but I will as soon as I start my garden.  Apartment living isn't conducive to gardening.  I know, I know, stop the excuses.  Well, at least I stopped the drive-throughs.
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