Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Going "On-Location!!"

We're headed on a family vacation in a couple of days. So The Blue Plate Special is going "On Location!" First we're stopping in Pennsylvania to visit family, then headed for a week on the outer banks of North Carolina. Then we'll stop to see some friends in PA again. I'm sure that there will be some good food to blog about in North Carolina. I just hope not to be cooking too much of it. After all, what's a vacation for? :)

This week is all about eating the things that will perish while we're away. Y'know, milk, eggs, cheese......I baked some blueberry muffins to use up some of that stuff.

Will's still being pretty picky. I read a book about feeding toddlers that I got from the library, it's called "Just Two More Bites!" It had a lot of good tips, and I was glad to see, that according to the book, that we are doing a lot of "right" things. Things like not letting him drink milk or juice continuously all day long. But we were getting visibly upset when Will wouldn't eat, and that wasn't helping. So now we're trying to stay calm when Will refuses a perfectly good meal. Vacation ought to be interesting, though!

Have fun, everyone! Lots of stories when we return.....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Food Meme!

I got this from Carissa, I liked what she said about trying anything once.....I'm kind of like that too. It has also gotten me into trouble at at times!

The rules are pretty standard:

A. List of 100 items
B. Bold items you've eaten
C. Cross out items you'd never consider eating (I italicized....I'm still learning Blogger, so I had no idea how to cross out text!)

1. Venison (and never again!!!!)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros--no, but I definitely would
4. Steak tartare --again, sure I would
5. Crocodile---had gator, but not croc
6. Black pudding .
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari -
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich--I was a weird kid, I didn't like these until adulthood
14. Aloo gobi1
5. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream, love it but usually am sick of it by the end of the carton
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans - Brian made authentic Louisiana-style for Trac's birthday once
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. -Raw scotch bonnet pepper - (I want to LIVE!!!)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters-
29. Baklava -
30. Bagna cauda---what exactly is this??
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl- New England Staple...one of my favorites?
33. Salted lassi---never heard of it
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea....clotted cream, yes, while in London and it was delish...but didn't have tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O -
39. Gumbo -
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat-
.42. Whole insects -not in a million years!!!
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin -
51. Prickly pear-
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini- hate olives
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine-
60. Carob chips -
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads-
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs-
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake...all of the above, 'cept the beignets
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho--no, but I want to!
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe -
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill---who in the hell would eat that??
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie -
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict--only my favorite breakfast ever!
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse -
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam -
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta--have a tube in the fridge right now, actually
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake - Rattlesnake

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's all over....there isn't any more........

Well, zucchini season is over at our house. I had probably about 15 of them, and we ate quite a few but I shared with some people as well. Then with the way the weather has been so wet, the plants just got mildewy and died. Ah well. I was getting a little tired of the zucchini anyway. The best recipe that came out of the whole experience was the chocolate zucchini bread, I made another loaf the other night and it was even better this time around! I look forward to next year's experimentation. We're already planning an expansion, to include peppers, cucumbers and maybe some herbs in window boxes. I don't think I'd do green beans again though, we'll see.

Tomatoes are still going great though! We seem to have plenty of them. Nothing at the grocery store comes close to tasting as good as a homegrown tomato!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Food from Friends

I volunteered to bring a meal to a new mama so she wouldn't have to cook every night while she bonds with her baby. It's kind of a neat idea that the playgroup I belong to came up with. Anyway, today was my turn so I made rigatoni with meat sauce for dinner. Yep, from a jar. I haven't been feeling well today so I was impressed that I even pulled that off, considering my own family is getting pizza from Domino's for dinner!

This is a recipe for a Fruit Pizza that I received from my friend, Jen. She moved to the Midwest last year and whenever I make it, I think of her. Well, to be fair, LOTS of things make me think of her, but she introduced this delicious dessert to me, and I made it for the mama and her family for tonight! Of course, while I was slicing it, I just HAD to keep a piece for myself! It comes together really quickly, too.

Fruit Pizza

1 pkg (18 oz) refrigerated sugar cookie dough

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/3 c sugar

1 c. marshmallow fluff

Assorted sliced fresh fruit (I decorated mine with blueberries, strawberries and mandarin oranges)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll dough out to a circle (or as best as you can) Place dough on round baking stone (I used a thin crust pizza pan) and cook 10-20 minutes or until golden. Make sure to keep an eye on it though, because there's not much time between "golden" and "burned!" Remove from oven and cool thoroughly.

Combine cream cheese, sugar and fluff and mix well. Spread over cooled cookie. Decorate with fruit.
*TIP* Use a pizza wheel to cut the cookie into wedges, it works really well

Friday, August 8, 2008

About This Cook

I thought we could try to get to know one another a little better! I mean, I know most of you already, but I want to get to know you in the FOOD sense. So I am posting a bunch of questions, I will answer them first and you can answer them by leaving me comments. Here we go!

1. What are three foods you could eat forever and never, never get sick of?

Italian bread with butter, macaroni and cheese and rocky road ice cream. Carbs much? :)

2. What are some foods that you would not eat again, even if someone offered you money?

Well, how much money? Ok, the list isn't very long for me: ham or seafood salad, lamp, chickpeas and lima beans, deer, scrapple, olives of any kind. There may be more, but those are the things that I immediately shudder as soon as I think of them.

3. What is the best meal that you have ever cooked?

Christmas Dinner, 2006. (Yes I know the date...I keep a notebook.) Roast Pork Tenderloin with Cider Gravy, with Baked Apples Stuffed with Cornbread and Sage. Mmmmm.......just thinking about it makes me want it again.

4. Who does most of the cooking in your family?

I do. My husband likes to cook as well, but our schedules put me in the kitchen more often.

5. What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

Shark and alligator. And sour patch kids dipped in salsa con queso. (the last one was a college dare!)

6. Do you have an embarrassing food story to share?

It doesn't involve me cooking, but working around food. About twelve years ago I had a summer job as a banquet server for a country club. We were working a very large company outing, and their menu choice was picnic-style. We were running out of strawberry shortcake, so I was rushing into the walk-in fridge for more strawberries. The strawberries were up on a high shelf, and no one was around to help me and had been told to get them ASAP! So, always compensating for my height, I jumped to get them off the high shelf. My bad---I ended up taking a shower in thawed berries and juice! (and no, the catering manager did NOT let me go home, I had to finish the night stained, sticky and smelling like Boppin' Berry Cooler!)

7. If you could cook with anyone, who would it be?

My maternal grandfather. He made the meanest roast beef that I have ever tasted! The smell of a roast in the oven to this day makes me think of him and all of the Christmas dinners he made.

8. What is one of your favorite things to make, and your least favorite?

Favorite: My husband and I pick one day out of the holiday season each year to bake. We bake cookies ALL DAY LONG, enjoying each other's company and baking for everyone we know. Our son will hopefully join us in this tradition one day when he's older.

Least favorite: Egg Salad. I abhor the smell of hard-boiled eggs, but my husband loves it. So I make it for him, and call it my "Labor of Love." :)

9. Do you watch the Food Network?

A little bit. I enjoy "Good Eats" with Alton Brown, Iron Chef, Every Day Italian......I liked Rachael Ray's show "30-minute meals" but her voice annoys me! So I get her magazine instead...easier on the eardrums.

10. Finally, do you have any food or cooking advice to give?

People ask me all the time how I can cook so much. I like variety and hate to get stuck in a rut. I just go out and do it! If you can read, you can cook. And don't be afraid to just get in there and mix it up on your own.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Apple Pork Chops

This is more of an autumn meal, but tonight has been fairly cool (and rainy. And heavy thunderstorms and tornado warnings, but who's counting?) and I love pork and apples together. I served it with roasted potatoes and peas for a nice rounded-out meal. This would probably be great with a pork loin roast in a crockpot with the apples and onions. Mmmmm.......Picture something like that on a crisp October night, with the smell of leaves burning in the air!

Apple Pork Chops (allrecipes.com)

2 tbsb vegetable oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
4 1/2 inch thick pork chops
1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced ( I used Red Delicious)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground mustard
3/4 c. hot water

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Heat oil in large skillet. Saute onion in oil for one minute or until tender. Remove onion and set aside. Brown pork chops on both sides in oil.
3. Place chops in an 8x12 inch baking dish and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Cover the chops with the apples and cooked onion.
4. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, mustard, cloves and water. Pour over chops. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes. Enjoy!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Chicken Francese

This is one of my all-time favorite meals! It was served at our wedding on October 7, 2000. This is Rachael Ray's variation of the dish, and it's a snap to prepare. I halved the recipe because it was just for the two of us. Slice up some crusty bread to sop up all the wonderful sauce, or sometimes I serve it over a platter of rice for guests. If you do serve it to guests, balance out the meal with something lighter for dessert...this is rich stuff!

Chicken Francese

(taken from Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats)

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

5 tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/2lb very thin chicken cutlets

Salt and freshly ground pepper

all-purpose flour, for dredging

4 eggs, beaten until frothy

2 pinches ground nutmeg

1 lemon

1/2 c dry white wine

2 tbsp capers, coarsely chopped (optional in our house!)

3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Place a platter in a low oven to warm. Heat a very large notstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of the oil and 2 tbsp of the butter to the skillet.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Coat half the meat at a time in flour, then in the eggs, adding each piece directly to the hot fat in the pan. Saute the cutlets for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden and puffy. Transfer the cooked meat to the warm platter and repeat with the remaining cutlets, using the remaining tablespoon of oil and 2 more tablespoons of the butter.

Once all of the meat has been cooked, add the nutmeg, the juice of half the lemon and the white wine to the pan. Scrape up the pan drippings with a whisk. Slice the remaining half lemon into thin disks and add to the sauce. Stir in the capers and parsley and the remaining tablespoon of butter into the sauce. Turn off the heat. Shake the pan to combine the sauce. Arrange the lemon slices over the platter, then spoon the sauce evenly over the cutlets. Serve immediately with crusty bread and greens.