Tuesday, November 30, 2010



Can ya guess what this it? Huh huh...can ya!!!  IT'S MY 100th BLOG POST!! Ahhhh! I am UBER excited! Can ya tell!! Hahaha!

I thought that I had missed it by a few, but I went through all of my posts and realized that there were a lot of drafts that I had never actually posted. So, I deleted the ones that I didn't want to post any longer, and voila! This is my 100th post! I made it! -->Happy Dance<--

So, for my 100th post I am going to share with you, not one, but TWO recipes. Two sizzling, hot, and spicy recipes. I can tell its spicy when 1. While I am cooking said item, when I breath in the smoke it makes me choke and the peppers go up into my nose and I can feel the burn, and 2. When my Hubby is eating said food, he is visibly sweating...yeah, he likes his food hot...

Here is Spicy recipe number 1:

~Spicy Beef Curry~
1 lb. stir-fry cut beef
3 carrots, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-2 small green chilies, w/ seeds, diced
2 tsp. minced garlic
2-4 c. chicken or beef stock
5 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 c. flour
4 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. chili powder
2-3 tsp. ginger
1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. salt

In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Saute onion and garlic until softened. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the carrots and peppers, stir a few times, and then add the stock. 
While the mead is cooking, make a roux. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a med. skillet until warmed through. Over med-low heat, add the flour and stir, cooking until the flour is blended and takes on a pale golden hue. Add curry powder, chili powder, ginger, cayenne pepper, paprika, and coriander. The mixture will be powdery and dry. Take 1/2 c. of the hot liquid from the meat pot and slowly add it to the curry-roux mixture, stirring constantly to form a smooth paste. By spoonfuls, add the curry paste back to the beef mixture, stirring to dissolve. Add the salt.
Simmer the curry for 20-30 min. until the sauce as thickened and the beef and vegetables are tender. While the curry is finishing up, cook some white rice according to package directions. Check the curry a min. or so before serving, if it is too thick, add more stock or water and simmer for a few min. longer. Serve the curry over the rice in a shallow bowl. 

The spicy roux

This curry sure did have a kick! I only had a little bit, it was much to hot for me...but my Hubby sure did like it! He was sweating...really sweating when he was done! I guess I did a good job! ;-)

NOTE: I adapted this recipe by combining various curry recipes and researching what made curry so spicy. Its a big hot pot of the "best of" curry, and our/my Hubby's personal preferences....

And...being on a spicy/hot kick, I also made....

~Spicy Turkey Breakfast Patties~
1 lb. ground turkey
3 tsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (salt)
1 egg, beaten
1 dried Anaheim chili, diced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Shape into small disks. Cook in a med skillet over med heat until cooked through, flipping once, about 7-8 min. Place remaining disks on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Remove from pan and put into a plastic baggie. Remove and cook as needed. (No need to de-thaw!)

The spicy ground turkey mix...just look at that color!

These were hot as well! They were really easy to cook up to. When I did cook them and I breathed in the smoke, I got a jolt from all the pepper and spices that were in these...yowza... I served these to my Hubby for breakfast. Serving them as just plain patties, in a breakfast sammi, and I broke a few up and made them into a breakfast burrito! Yummy, yummy!

Restaurant Side Note: One of the first off-base restaurants we tried over here in Okinawa was Cocos Curry House. They make japanese style curry where you can pick your meat, veggies, and other toppings as well as your spice level 1-10 with 10 being the hottest. The first time we went, Hubby started off with a level 5 spice. He said it was alright. Then the next time we went, he bumped it up all the way to a 10! The only difference he commented on was that the heat lingered a lot longer, but it was not that much more "spicy" hmmm..... He later made a comment that my curry was more spicy! That is was better! teheheh I did a little *victory dance* inside. It's good to hear that homemade won over a restaurant!

And what did I get at Cocos? (I'm not much of a curry fan....) I got some garlic naan! It was alright...I think I would have preferred it plain or with garlic in the dough versus cheese and garlic bits on top of the naan...but alas...it met my craving for something starch-y and garlic-y!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Asian Pears & Pork

I experimented with a new local ingredient! Asian pears. Asian pears are huge! They look almost like an apple and are very similar in look and crispness. I found out that it is NOT a cross between an apple and a pear, just similar in shape and what not. It is much more crisp and does not cook down quite as much, so when you do cook it, it still remains quite crisp! And it tastes like a pear, and has a pear grainy texture.

Being inspired by this new fruit and taking stock of what was in my fridge, I decided to combine the pears with some pork! And....make it spicy! I found a wonderfully easy recipe and it turned out to be really good and flavorful.

~Asian Pears & Pork~
(adapted from Coconut & Lime)
2 Asian pears, peeled and sliced
1-2 lbs. pork cutlets
2 white onions, chopped
2 tbsp. five spice powder*
1/4-1/2 c. white wine
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sprinkle the pork on all sides with the spices. Heat a good amount of olive oil in a lg. stockpot or oven-safe dutch oven. Add the onions and pears and saute until the onions soften and start to brown. In a separate lg. skillet, quickly brown the pork, about 1-2 min. per side then ad them to the pear and onion mixture. Add the wine (more if you want a "broth") and move to the oven. Roast for about 20 min. Stir and serve with white or brown rice. 

*NOTE: I did not have five spice powder so I used a combo of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder, and cayenne pepper to give it a kick!

This recipe was quite yummy and I am looking forward to experimenting with other new local ingredients! Im excited for the purple sweet potato!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turkey Day Round-Up

So, here are the things that I made for Turkey Day!

Numero Uno was a Mustard Crusted Turkey Breast - twas very yummy and moist. I subbed the panko breadcrumbs that the recipe called for, for plain old breadcrumbs. I think panko would have been a better texture. This tasted good, don't get me wrong, but the texture could have been much better, more crispy....

Numero Dos was some classic MN Wild rice. It has mushrooms, garlic, onions, butter and seasoning salt in it. This is my "its not Thanksgiving without....." dish. My mom makes this EVERY thanksgiving. Now I am doing the same! I made it when I had Thanksgiving out in NC, both in 2008 and 2009! Now it made its appearance in Okinawa in 2010! Where else will it go! Go here for the recipe!

Numero Tres was some Nori Cookies....they were an epic FAIL! They baked up nice....looked like an ordinary cookie, but alas, they did not taste like I thought they would. I assumed they would be a butter cookie that was a tid bit more savory...with the nori and all, but they were soooo salty! I cannot remember if I used salted or unsalted butter or not, but next time (there will be a next time! I am going to make these taste good!) I am going to use unsalted and not add any additional salt! Maybe it was the nori I bought....but I don' think so...

So, that fail brings us to...

Numero Cuatro was a quick batch of Pumpkin Cookies w/ White Chocolate Chips! These were yummy! Just the flavor I was looking for. They were more like a cake-cookie being a little lighter and not hard or crisp. I would for sure make these again!

~White Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies~
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. macadamia nuts (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in another bowl. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix in the rolled oats, white chocolate chips, and macadamia nuts. Drop by heaping tbsp. onto a baking sheet about 1 in. apart. Bake for 8-10 min or until set. 

Next time I make these, I am for sure going to use the macadamia nuts in them. I just didn't have any on hand. Also, I am going to used actual rolled oats and not quick-cooking oats. I think they absorbed to much liquid, their texture was lost. I really enjoy the texture of an oat in a cookie! Maybe the ones that I have are just too small? Oh well, I have high hopes for the next time I make these cookies!

What is your "It's not Thanksgiving without....."?


Thursday, November 25, 2010


What am I thankful for?

My Hubby
My family (immediate & in-laws)
Good health
A roof over my head
Steady income
Good friends

I thank God each and every day for these things and others. He has truly provided more for us than we deserve and in return we strive each and every day to serve him, glorify him, and thank him. We truly are blessed.

I am also thankful for....da da da....Good Food!!

These are few of the things that I baked up for the annual "Thanksgiving Dinner in The Barracks" that was put on by my hubby's work. Any chance I get to bake, I am going to scoop it up for sure! I decided on making 4 pies:

First up was a Pumpkin (I forgot to take a pic of it!!)

Then an Apple (I only got a pre-bake shot)

Followed by a Pecan

And finished up with my mothers Chocolate Pie (Recipe here)

Oh yeah, I also baked a ham too...but that was nothing too special, just a store bought one. All these yummy goodies were gobbled up in a hurry for sure!

All of the recipes were from the November issue of Food Network Magazine. And I tried a new pie crust recipe that was also in the zine....that was a fun experience. I did not read the directions very clearly and ended up adding an extra egg to the dough. It rolled out really nice, and baked up okay...just took a little longer than called for. It did not taste any different. Lesson learned ya'll!

I did make some "twists" with the leftover dough, some cinnamon, and sugar!

Anywho, I'm off to enjoy Turkey Day with some good company, and some good food!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Back-log of Recipies

This is a wonderful recipe that I made for an Italian-themed "party" one night. They are Ricotta cookies. Named so because they have...can ya guess it? Yup, Ricotta cheese! They were really good, although the texture is not much like a "cookies" more like a little cake/cookie hybrid. I think they should be called "bites"...to me that makes a little more sense. I did adapt the recipe a pinch, just a sub of flavoring, and a little thicker on the glaze!

~Sweet Ricotta Bites~
(adapted from 2italianrecipes.com)
15 oz. ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
2 tbsp. almond extract
4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 lb. butter
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
5 tbsp. milk
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar*
1 tsp. almond extract
colored candy sprinkles

Preheat the over to 350 F. Mix/beat together butter, sugar, eggs, ricotta cheese, and 2 tbsp. almond extract in a bowl. Mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add to the ricotta mixture and mix thorougly to form a creamed mixture. Add some flour to keep it form becoming too sticky. (I think I added another 1/4 c.) Shape the dough to form balls the size of a teaspoon. Place the balls on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 min. or until light brown. 
Remove from pan and put on a cooking rack set over another cookie sheet. Mix the milk, powdered sugar, and almond extract in a bowl until smooth and a little thick.* Pour the mixture over the warm cookies with a spoon and sprinkle with colored candy sprinkles**

*Note: I added about another 1/2 c. or so of powdered sugar. What I got with the original recipe was way to thin...but make it to your liking! I wanted it thick because the cookies were warm and the glaze would fall down the sides due to gravity. 

**Note: I learned, the hard way, that you should glaze about 3 cookies, then pause and come back to those 3 cookies and sprinkle them. The glaze hardens quickly!

These were a very different variety of cookie, but they were yummy! A little cake-like in texture, but not overly sweet! Even the Hubby liked these little guys. And when I told him what was in them he was a little shocked! Tehehe...

Well, when hearing about this "party" I set out to make a savory dish as well! (I also wanted/needed an excuse to bake something special!) ;-)

Here is the recipe I used for guidance:

~Olive Stuffed Mushrooms~
(Adapted from grouprecipes.com)
24 Whole mushrooms (white or crimini)
8 tbsp. olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. Spanish olives, or Kalamata olives, chopped*
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2/3 c. dry breadcrumbs
3-4 tbsp. dried parsley
1-2 tbsp. dried rosemary
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, mix the olives, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley and rosemary. Set aside. Wipe mushrooms clean with a kitchen towel or brush. (Do NOT run under water!) Trim mushroom stems and remove from the cap. You will be left with a "hole" begging to be filled. 
Warm 6 tbsp. olive oil in a lg. skillet over med. heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 2-4 min. Add olive, cheese, herb breadcrumb mixture. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
Arrange the mushroom caps on a parchment lined baking sheet. Fill each cap with the mixture. Drizzle with the remaining oil. Over lightly with foul and bake for 15 min. Remove foil and bake another 5-7 min. or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

*Note: I used Spanish green olives that were marinating in a spicy olive oil-crushed red pepper blend that I found at the local grocery store. Feel free to use whatever you wish. 

One comment that I did get, from an 8 year-old, was that these mushrooms were "....yummy, but I don't like mushrooms so I am only eating the filling!" Oh well, they were liked because they were gone by the time we left! 


Monday, November 22, 2010

About time...

...to break this "blogging break"

Yes, the time is NOW!

Wow, life sure has been a whirl wind of various activities, some of which include, work, shopping, furnishing an apartment, exploring, learning a new language, laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping some more, socializing, relaxing, etc. etc.

Now the holidays are upon us yet again! Life goes on. It get busy. Things need to get done.  <----That's where I tend to fail....I am not very good at "getting things done". Sure, they
eventually get done, but on my time, on my schedule, and alas....that schedule does not work in a marriage. Hey, we all need to learn right? I guess this stems from being raised an only child...you know, that "Only Child Syndrome" Yeah, I have some it, not all of it, but some of it. My parents did a great job at it...they really did....but I still have an issue with getting things done in a timely manner.

I will admit that I am a fan of the "I'll do it later" club, as well as the "I don't feel like it". I also shy away from things that are unfamiliar or "scary" whatever that means!

This is my time to kick myself in the rear! I am going to make an active effort to, like Nike says, "JUST DO IT!!" It really is that simple...S.I.M.P.L.E.

"What if I fail?" that little voice asks me...

Well then, you TRIED....that's more than doing nothing....so, so much more!

I once read in a book that you "...Try, fail, try again, fail harder." I would like to add that after you fail the second time, you do....WHAT?
TRY AGAIN!! Every time that I am presented with a task that needs to be done, but I feel that little "voice" rise up inside me, I am going to silence that voice and think instead...How soon can I get it done? How can I make it fun? Who else does it effect? Its easy, and you'll learn! Just get it done!

So, so simple, yet for some, like me, so very, very hard!! (fyi = check out all the comma usage in that sentence!)

I am learning a lot, growing a lot, I will fail a lot, but I will get up an try again. Shake off the failure, and MOVE ON!

Whew! Are ya still with me! Thank you, it felt good to get that off my shoulders...

Now, onto a RECIPE!!! I have not posted one it quite some time. This is one that I made for my parents while back home in MN this past October. I wanted to make soup. Something hardy, yet light, filling yet healthy....so I decided on
THIS recipe from Ezra Pound Cake for inspiration and slightly modified it to our tastes. It turned out to be wonderful! Just what we were looking for!

~Papa Al Pomodoro~
1/2 c. olive oil
 2 med. yellow onions, chopped
1 med. red onion, chopped
3 lg. carrots, peeled and chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lg. Ciabatta loaf, crust removed and cubed
2 28oz. cans Italian plum tomatoes
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. dry red wine
1 c. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 c. grated fresh Parmesan
Salt & Pepper
1 lg. Ciabatta loaf, cubed
4 oz. thick cut pancetta, chopped
20-30 whole basil leaves
5-6 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and galic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 min. until tender. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 min. more.
Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 1/2 tsp. pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered for 45 min.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F. For the topping, place the ciabatta cubes (2nd loaf), pancetta, and basil in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and toss to coat. Spread on a sheet pan large enough to hold all ingredients in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 min. until all the ingredients are crisp and browned. 
Stir the soup to incorporate all ingredients and stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning. Add more salt  and/or pepper if necessary. Serve the soup hot. Garnish with the baked bread/pancetta/basil mixture. 

This was a very plesant soup for the evening! I stared it in the late afternoon and used the cooking time to have hor d'oeuvres and mingle/visit. A wonderful caesar salad was also served with this soup and my mother made apple squares for dessert! (Reminder: I need to get that recipe from her!) 

Caramelized Onions w/ Goats Cheese on Naan