Culinary Bucket List 2014 ~ July

This months culinary dish was difficult..Now that I think of it, the entire month of July has proven to be difficult in both the kitchen arena as well as the blogging arena.

I think I’m going to blame it on the intense HEAT of the summer time in Arizona. I really don’t want to get into to much of a whiny session on the sucky hot ass summers in that we, who CHOOSE, to dwell…

But seriously…it’s flippin hot here and honestly the extreme weather makes it most difficult to sleep, walk from the car to the office, from the car to the grocery store..yada yada yada. To top it off..it seems that once the humidity rolls in (around July) the air conditioning does not work as well so even the stores are HOT.

So yea..that’s my “excuse” and I’m sticking to it…

Cruising around the internets for a good dish I have never tried before I found a little number I thought would be a good, fresh treat for summertime dinner.

I have never been a huge fan of mixing sweet with salty but I admit this Hawaiian BBQ Beef Taquito dish intrigued my taste buds.. Why not give it a shot?

My longtime friends were my guinea pigs for this months dish..The mister and I were invited over for the evening but he had a bachelor party to go to so it was just me flying solo.  I’m so glad they were so open minded and willing to let me try this out on them with no restrictions! I have such great friends! 🙂

Ingredients:  as found on  website:

 

  • Simple Pineapple Salsa
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon adobo sauce
  • (from can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Taquito Filling
  • 1 ½ pounds flank steak, diced*
  • remaining red onion from salsa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper, minced
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

 

Make the salsa first..Dice all the ingredients then place in the fridge to cool…maybe the freezer..ya know..if you live in ARIZONA..

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Bonus about cooking for friends?? You can employ them as sous chefs! 🙂

Danny volunteered to dice the onion AND the flank steak! THANKS DANNY!

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Olive oil splashed and heated in the frying pan..I added the meat, the onion and the garlic and cooked until ALMOST done. As soon as that was done, I threw in the all of the spices along with the pineapple and simmered for a couple more minutes.

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So pretty and by the way…this blog is taking so much less more time than the actual production! We of course took breaks for chatting and wine drinking (I have..as you know..a very bad time concentrating so this will take the “normal” person about thirty minutes to do…me? It took about an hour)

No..big..deal..I’m used to it 🙂

I’m also not good at rolling anything tortilla related. Enter sous chef Amy Jo 🙂

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Notice the rolls on the left? She started rolling them as burritos 🙂 hahah Is OK, we caught it in time and the remaining seven were rolled as taquitos..all is right with the world!

These things only need to bake at 350 for about ten minutes..then turn them over and broil for a few minutes ( I forgot this part..it’s necessary so be sure to do it)!

Add the cheese, top with the pineapple salsa and broil until cheese is melted.

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As I mentioned, I’m not normally a fan of sweet and salty but THIS…is the exception. Thank you to my friends for letting me try this out on you AND for being such great sous chefs!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Culinary Bucket List 2014 ~ June

It’s Friday night…I did NOT want to cook. I wanted to go out for dinner. This is an extremely rare want. I almost never want to go out to eat. It seems, to me, to be a waste of money. 98% of the time, I can’t help but think.., “Jason and/or I could have made a meal just as good..if not better than this.”

Now, I understand the whole dining out experience might be more about the social aspect — and bonus…there is no clean up. However…contrary to my drunken self..I am not that social of a being 😉

Back to point… I didn’t want to cook, ended up cooking because the mister had band rehearsal…**Oh the woes of being married to a musician ** 😉

Somehow I came across this recipe and thought it would be good to try out! I am all about eating clean and  healthy these days..

I stopped by the grocers on the way home from a stupid day at work and picked up all I needed (and of course a bottle of Rose)

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I really had like three projects going on here. 1st was salmon patties…2nd was parsnip fries and lastly was a fresh spinach/Parmesan side.

I started with the parsnip fries first. I’ll be honest..I’ve NEVER tasted a parsnip..ever.. in..my..entire..life..

At this moment..I still don’t even have an idea as to what they are or what they are good for. EH..well I mean obviously…they’re some sort of root?? Like a potato..but not?

Anyway..I started with those.. They suck to cut. I was not sure if I was supposed to leave the core in the mix or not..so some pieces had core and some did not..

This is the recipe I used :

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Jason did not like the parsnips.. I am still thinking about them..Not so sure.. I think I needed to have baked them for longer than 12 minutes. Maybe 20. Interesting is the only word that came to mind.

After that experiment was done I moved on to the salmon patties.

For the most part, I followed the recipe..But CLEARLY..did something wrong..

I started Quinoa then moved on..

Chopped the green onions, cilantro tossed them into the blender and added some lemon zest. The recipe called for Herbamare..I didnt have any..so I googled an alternative (serisouly…what the hek did stupid people do without the internet????)  I found this… I only had..sea salt, parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme and basil (but I forgot to add the basil..nbd)

Blended then added the cooked quinoa, blended again..added salmon (Canned wild caught salmon)

Hey guess what??!! This is a public service announcement..DO NOT..STICK A KNIFE INTO A MOVING BLENDER.. I almost lost my eye.. I have NO idea why I thought it was OK but yea..I stuck a knife into the blender..while it was blending and a piece of plastic from the top busted off and ricochade off the side, came out and almost stabbed me in the eye… mmhmm..

At that point I decided it was best to just put everything in a metal bowl and just hand mix. :/

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** This is pre-knife in blender**

After all was mixed, I made the patties –

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So they didnt work out THAT well..Super hard to flip. I figured out at the end..I made them too big..easier to flip and cook when they are half the size.

 

Those being as done as they are going to get…I started the spinach..

Same pan…splash of avocado oil I threw in the fresh greens and cooked until wilted.. Done..tossed into a mixing bowl and sprinkled with fresh grated Parmesan.. This..I have to say…was my favorite part of this dish.

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I can’t say..” You MUST try this” It’s OK..not amazing BUT..It’s healthy..clean and with some work, thought and manipulation…it could be something delish!! I just might..think on some adjustment and may try again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culinary Bucket List ~ May 2014

When Kim and I started this monthly culinary bucket list..I was a little worried I would have a hard time finding good, easy, fresh dishes I had never created.

It’s proving to be the case that I could, if I were motivated enough to, create new dishes like twice a week. Turns out, I forgot..I am not a professional chef, nor am I even an experienced chef. I would certainly not even make a good sous chef…Oh well..I am having a great time playing around in the kitchen and making tasty vittles. 🙂

With that said…on to tonights menu!

Caprese Stuffed Chicken Breast

That’s right folks…guess who’s never stuffed a chicken breast??? This girl!! And I’m not any kind of good at it either, but I’m jumping ahead of myself and I’ll just have to let you be the judge.

Here is the set up:

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Straight off the bat I veered from the instructions. The recipe told me to start the grill. I am afraid of the grill soooo… THAT was not going to happen. Besides..I am SURE all of the stuffing would end up in the fire and I would have nothing tasty to share. It’s just best for everyone that I pre-heat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit/177 Celcius

Pull the handy dandy cast iron skillet out, lube it up with some avocado oil. I’m seriously in love with my cast iron skillet. I really use it for as many kitchen experiments as I can! And if you noted…avocado oil? Yes, we switched to avocado oil..especially in the oven because it can take much more heat than olive oil. This was a huge issue in our house because, I am not kidding you, every time I would cook in the oven with EVOO the fire alarm would blare it’s terrible tune. Now…my dogs are petrified every time they here the “beep” of the oven buttons or the microwave. Ok..Ok..if I’m honest..every time I go into the kitchen..the dogs are suspicious.

Since avocado oil…I have not set the alarm off once 😉 win ~ win !~

So anyway…dinner..

I had to get the nasty chickens out of their packages to butterfly them. I am a little leery of these chicken breasts. Seriously..what kind of chicken has a boob that weighs almost a pound? I guarantee you MY boobs don’t even weigh a pound..

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and what exactly does “minimally processed” mean? Sorry get off course again..

Butterfly the chickens massive boobs.. check. Sprinkled pepper on them, thinly sliced up the cherry tomatoes to layer them, sprinkles the fresh basil I chopped up and shredded the Mozzarella Fresco on top.. 

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Folded them up and put them in the skillet. I was supposed to put a little bit of basalmic vinagrette and some balsamic glaze but I only had balsamic vinegar so I used that instead and probably too much of it but whatever… 😉

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Looks gross..I really really don’t like raw chicken skin. Good thing after they are put in the oven and this mess is cleaned up…

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They turn out quite tasty!

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Puff Pastry..

My friend and fellow blogger, Kim, shared with me another blog which we now both follow.  I love to “hate” this girl..she’s like Barbie…the *&tch* has everything… I put “hate” in quotes because I don’t hate her..Its a jealousy thing..

She’s all about the traveling, cooking, dining and fashion but in a humble not so pretentious manner.. and to top it off..I’m pretty sure she gets paid to do all of this through her blog..wha??? 

Anyway, I will not bore you with my mental issues…today anyway 🙂 

This back story has a point..FOOD! Rosie turned Kim and I onto this delight! 

Now I will just tell you up front. Mine did not turn out as pretty as hers OR Kims’ for that matter… 

First issue..I had to to find out, what is Boursin cheese? Turns out..it’s just like Rondele soft cheese but you get less and pay more 🙂 Kim says its better but my memory is just not that good. Maybe, if I had them side by side I would be able to taste the diff but from my memory (my memory…not sayin’ much)  .. it tasted the same. 

Found it and bought it! 

Second issue..where the heck am I to find puff pastry? I don’t even know what that is. I thought it was the pillsbury dough boy stuff that comes in a pop can..Again, I had to use the phone a friend option..

Found it! It was hiding in the frozen pie section. 

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The mayo has nothing to do with this recipe so please just ignore… 😉 

 

Third issue: Really Bashas?? You don’t carry Heirloom Tomotoes??  I had to go to Sprout’s ~ why is it that non of the grocery stores carrier EVERYTHING we need? It never fails. For those of you who say..Wal-Mart does..I say NO..you do not buy produce at Wal-Mart..

After a long day at work, long drive home, two grocery store trips I finally got home and started in on putting dinner together. 

It only took about 30 minutes for the puff pastry sheet to thaw out. I kept busy prepping the kitchen and then cutting up romaine lettuce, purple onion, cucumbers and tomatoes for a salad. 

Yes, it took me 30 minutes. 

Once it was thawed, I spread the Boursin (not really that easy so be careful not to tear the pastry sheet) 

Pre-heat oven to 420

Cut tomatoes

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Put them on top of the cheese on top of the puff sheet and don’t forget the fresh basil! 

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and just a teeny sprinkle of sea salt.

Pop it into the oven for 20-25 minutes ~ Now…For me, I think 420 at 20-25 minutes was too much.. Look..my edges are not pretty:

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It may be that I used tin foil instead of parchment paper so the tin made it cook hotter? 

In any event..it was REALLY good! The husband loved it too!! WINNING! 

Culinary Bucket List 2014 ~ April

Longer days and warmer weather…summer has quickly replaced Spring! With that we need light meals that refresh our palates 😉

This months CB dish is Chicken-Pineapple Fajitas..I followed the instructions from this website (Nope…I still do not know how to make a link with just a word…sighhhh) http://www.bhg.com/recipe/beef/chicken-pineapple-fajitas/

The hardest part of this recipe was cutting the pineapple. I’ll be honest..I had never cut a pineapple before last night.

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I didn’t like it..way to much work.. I will recruit a sous chef to do this task next time I make something with fresh pineapple.

You are supposed to brown the pineapple in a pan..WARNING..this takes some time..who has the patience to allow these things to brown?? I waited and waited then flipped then waited some more. Grew impatience then took those slices off the pan, threw a few more on and moved onto taking the middle out and cutting the good bits into pieces.

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Remember when I asked who had time to allow these babies to brown?? Well. suggestion..find

something else to do, you’ll forget about the pineapple and VOILA…they will brown! 🙂

This batch came out much better..while I was cutting up the not so brown fruit..the others were left alone to do their job.

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I started this post in the middle of the process..sorry, the pineapple fiasco was a big deal and I had to get that off my chest right away. Before the fruit drama…I grabbed a big metal bowl, tossed in some sliced up chicken breast, baby sweet peppers, Caribbean Jerk marinade and some pepper and I let that sit while I was tending to the ‘apples.

After the fruit is done and set off to the side, I used the same pan to fry up the meat and peppers:

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Jason and Kiah opted out of the pineapple…they missed out.

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So good. Zingy taste with a little bit of fresh sweetness and lets face it..EVERYthing is better with cilantro!

Eet smakelijk!

 

 

Spring has Sprung!

Spring has sprung! Not that we here in Arizona have any type of season other than summer and light summer but spring has sprung and its time for some springy things..

Of course there is the ever popular spring cleaning (which I really don’t think anyone ever really accomplishes but it’s a brilliant concept)

We have spring breaks but I am neither a college student nor do I have little kids in school so..no reason for me to take a week long vacation.

What else is a girl to do? AH! It is time to refreshen thyself! First thing to tackle on this wonderful Saturday..Nasty winter feet!
I am sorry, I know it’s disgusting but people lets face it we need to get the word out there.. Our feet need attention.

Starting out in fixed firm pose yesterday morning in yoga, I glanced down to make sure my hands in feet were in their proper position.

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** This is not me..really? How am I supposed to take a picture of myself doing such things? 😉 I stole this from the internet…

I was appalled to find that my heels looked like the lady standing in front of me in the Walmart line (oh don’t you act like you don’t know who I’m talking about..mmhhmm).

Promptly, I sent message to a girlfriend (aka..my nut-ball friend who is currently training for a M-A-R-A-T-H-O-N) who I KNEW would benefit from a little foot and lower leg pampering..we were soon set!

We strayed a bit off the planned course of just a pedicure date and ended up starting with lunch at The Pita Jungle.
I don’t like to throw this out to the inter webs but I have to,  …I have been to this Pita Jungle like four times. I think I love the Idea of the place more so than the actual place itself. They have a great menu, it’s fresh, vegan/vegetarian (not that I am either of those) friendly, they also support meat eaters..its a pretty nonjudgmental place. The only problem I have is…the acoustics of the space. Horribly loud..unbearably loud..they really should figure out how to fix this.
I was pretty excited to find they did have outdoor seating! It was a beautiful day and of course it had to be much more quiet outdoors so we scooped up the chance to dine outdoors!

And yes..it was nice and the food was great ~ I had the pesto pita pizza (so good)

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Problem with the outside? It was a breezy day and  our outdoor dining area was just downwind of the DUMPSTER. :/
No…bueno…

Sorry…three strikes..you’re out. I am done with the Pita Jungle.

Bellies full – because the only bad part of the Jungle experience was the environment – we headed off to the salon for the peak of our Saturday!

Shockingly, the wait was just long enough to allow us to select the color of the week. It took me some time by I finally chose the shimmering pinkish color on the thumb:

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Yep..I left the place with all of my nail painted in this manner and I will leave them as such as long as I can 🙂

I will spare you the before picture of my walmart feet and cut straight to the pretty in pink end result.

If you have a foot aversion…keep scrolling down because I am going there..hah..

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I really wanted to go home and nap afterwards, unfortunately.. my body has no idea how to do such things whilst the sun is up 😦

Some piddle “shopping” was done followed by a trip to Total Wine. Good lord..I love this store. Beth had n e v e r been to Total Wine..her words..”I have never seen this much wine in one place”. I found myself walking through the store and pointing out the highlights of each isle. I should really work here. 🙂

All in all it was really a great day..one, I think, needed on both our accounts.

Nap time?

NOPE! Plug along into the evening! Casual evening but evening non the less!

Time for dinner! Jason and I met up with our great great friends Amy and Dan and we were ready to have a Mexican dining extravaganza!

Margaritas, conversation and great food made for a fabu way to end a Saturday night~

I will leave you with my dinner choice ( Pollo Fundido — not very fun after the fact but completely fun while devouring!!)

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Tell me what sorts of shenanigans you are planning for Spring 2014?

Not just another Valentines Day Post ;)

Social media was completely out..of..control.. yesterday with everything Valentines. Valentines day is a day to express your undying love for your significant other. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving to me. You know? The one day of the year everyone is so very thankful for everything they have been complaining about, on social media, earlier in the year.  Same thing. 🙂

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a complete hater of this Hallmark celebration of love..but…why not celebrate the love of your life everyday? I could go on and on but I am bored with the topic and so glad VD 2014 is over. On that note!

The love of my life and I had sushi last night. Yep, we braved the crazy VD crowd and headed out to one of our favorite, family owned, neighborhood restaurants.

Sushi Yuki, http://www.sushiyuki.com/

I debated with myself on this post..Should I really tell all of you about my secret sushi spot? It is such a hidden gem and one of the things I love about this place is that it’s never super busy so the service is great!

Luckily…I have very few followers and even fewer followers who live in my area. 🙂

There were more patrons than what is typical but we were still able to walk in and be seated straight away. Score…no wait!

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I really need to invest in a compact point and shoot camera for occasions such as this. I do not like crappy cell phone pictures of food nor do I want to bust out with the big ole DSLR camera in a restaurant. Goal number three for 2014…

Moving on…the upper left we have some absolutely delicious Yellowtail Sashimi.. I think I used the exact phrase, “Oh….this yellow-tail is like butter”

That’s actually a terrible saying because I would never eat butter straight up…gross.

In the middle is a philly roll…the salmon melts in your mouth and at the end of it you taste the zing of cream cheese ~ cream cheese and salmon..two of my favorites 🙂

The green one was good but not my favorite..it’s called a caterpillar roll. The chunky funny looking guys on the upper right..fresh water eel or Unagi…an all time favorite of both J and me..

We should have ordered more sashimi..we were finished in no time and I am pretty sure Jason was still hungry 🙂

Next time…there will be more!!!