Sometimes I have thought about what to open that night before 8am...

Friday, January 28, 2011

An Ode to Chocolate Cake

How do I love thee, let me count the ways.
I love thee for thy deep dark chocolate.  
Warm and rich on a crisp evening.

I love thee for thy creamy caramel.
Dripping sunshine over silken spun sugar frosting.

I love thee even though there is only one perfect bite left.
At least until breakfast tomorrow!

Happy (rescheduled) National Chocolate Cake Day!

"They will not take my cake.  Not from my cold, dead hands." - Charlie

p.s.  Note to self:  This would have been better a la mode.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Tomorrow is National Chocolate Cake Day!

Well, technically it was today, but I didn't know.  

And if I didn't know, then it can't be National Chocolate Cake Day.

So we are rescheduling it. 

For tomorrow.

That's right.  Friday, January  27, 2011 is National Chocolate Cake Day.

Get on it!

p.s. This is the one I am making.  In case you are looking for inspiration.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WOMP - Week Three


This is What Slacking Looks Like

So here we are on Wednesday, and someone (I won't name names ... Charlie.) didn't get the WOMP posted yesterday.  Somebody (Charlie) got caught up in getting ready for the party my sister was throwing last night.  Somebody (Charlie) did not make proper Blogging time out of the baby's nap!

WOMP - Week Three
Definitely a day late.
Possibly a dollar short!

Trader Joe's Chinese
Vegetable Fried Rice that I scramble an egg into.
Vegetable dumplings, and Vegetable Birds Nests.
If you have never had the Birds Nests, you MUST get them.
They are much loved in my house!
Lemon Capri Pasta recipe from Cooking Light.
As usual I messed with the recipe a little.
I saute mushrooms and onions and stir them in with the rest of the vegetables.
Crispy Chickpea Salad with Prawns
Shockingly, this recipe comes from Cooking Light!
 Friday - We ordered Dominoes.
Saturday - We had zero energy, and even less motivation.  We ate leftovers.
Sunday - Out on my sister's boat with her family.
Pork Roast with Spaghetti Squash and Caesar Salad.
And falling in the lesson learned category... always put the WOMP together on Monday night!

Have you been photographing your food?  Menu planning?  Eating healthy?  If so, then let's see it!

Link up below!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nanny's Chicken and Dumplings

My family is from The South.  Texas, to be exact.  People from Texas have very strong feelings about being from Texas (Go 'Horns!).  My Great-Grandmother was no exception.  Nanny was  a terrific cook, flirt, and oh could that woman pose when a camera was pointed at her!  You think I am kidding, but I tell you there is not one candid photo of Nanny in all of creation.  And this was before there were digital cameras and you could just delete the ones you didn't like.

A few facts about Nanny:

She was born in 1899.

Her Daddy was Post Master General in Mt. Pleasant, Louu-zee-anna.

She was one of 8 children.

The mare that pulled their carriage when she was a child was named Dolly.

She viewed bacon as an actual food group.

She was a Yellow Dog Democrat. (She would sooner vote for a yellow dog than a republican)

She taught me to make this when I was small enough to stand on a chair next to her at the counter.

I have modified the recipe slightly over the years to make it healthier.  If you want the original, pain in the behind, cut an entire chicken into pieces by yourself recipe, leave me a comment and I will send it to you!

Nanny's Chicken and Dumplings
(as made by Karen Ray)

2-3 lbs chicken breasts cut into 2 inch pieces
2-3 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
2-3 cups water
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 rib celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
½ bay leaf
3 tbsp. Flour mixed to a paste with water

1 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
¾ tsp. Salt
3 tbsp. Shortening
¾ cup milk

Place chicken pieces in heavy saucepan and just cover with equal parts chicken broth and water. Add salt, pepper, celery, onion, carrot, and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
 Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mixing with a fork, add enough milk to make dough hold together. Drop spoonfuls of dough from a wet tablespoon, letting dumplings rest on top of meat and broth. Cover tightly and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, not raising lid from pan.

Just a quick interlude:  How cute is the Chef du Cuisine?!

 To thicken broth, transfer dumplings to a warm plate and add flour paste to broth in pot. Stir constantly until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve in soup bowls with dumplings floating on top.
 This is comfort food at it's finest.
I hope you like it!
And as always, I have a few important notes.
1.  You notice that the amounts are not firm on the chicken broth water ratio.  The main thing is that it just covers your chicken.  I have found that a nice wide skillet works best for this recipe... because it gives you more room for dumplings!
2.  I switched to part chicken broth when I switched to chicken breasts.  I found it needed it in order to pump up the flavor when I wasn't using a whole chicken.  It is important not to use all chicken broth, or the full sodium chicken broth, because that is how you are steaming your dumplings.  The first thing they absorb is the salt, and trust me, nothing is more disappointing than an overly salty dumpling!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

WOMP - Take Two

I did better this week with pictures (pats self on back).  And funny enough, this process has lead to a couple of other great places.

The Goose has decided that she wants to learn to cook, so she has taken over the Wednesday night dinner (with assistance of course).  And I am eating healthier over all.

I have always eaten a standardized breakfast, an over easy egg on a corn tortilla.  But now I find myself standardizing my lunch as well. Spinach Salad.  I change the toppings based on what is around, but it always has some sort of nuts and some sort of cheese on it.  I am currently obsessed with the dressing from Thursday nights salad.  I made a vat of it and stuck it in a squeeze bottle in the fridge.  Just as easy as store bought dressing.  Twice as tasty.

I love when life gets on a roll!

WOMP -  Take Two

Chicken, Apple and Brie Paninis with Sweet Potato Fries
I spread two pieces of panini bread with brie, fill with peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples
and left over  chicken and stick them in the panini press.
Chicken and Dumplings
My great-grandmother's recipe (posting tomorrow)
Made by Karen Ray
Chef Salad recipe from Cooking Light.
Amazing Dressing recipe from Cooking Light as well.
After a busy week, Friday night's dinner has to be easy.
All I want is to relax and enjoy my family.
The best part of tostadas is that they can be formulated to please everyone!
Chicken Piccata with Summer Vegetable Pasta.
Recipe from Cooking Light.
If you make this one (it is very, very good) do yourself a favor and prep it in advance.
It took longer to make than expected, but that was because I didn't read the prep involved before starting.
French Dip with green beans and Tim's Asiago, garlic oven fries.
The French Dip recipe is from the blog A Year of Slow Cooking.
If you haven't visited Stephanie O'Dea's blog before it is a great resource for a busy family!
Tim's Asiago garlic oven fries recipe will be posted soon.
Monday - Out to dinner with friends.  After a day at the beach, it was just what the Doctor ordered!

So how did you do this week?  Have you been menu planning?  Are you taking pictures?  Do you find there are other changes that are developing in conjunction with the process?

I can't wait to see them... link up below!

Friday, January 14, 2011

I'm Making You an Offer You Can't Refuse

My husband is a Godfather fan.  This summer he corrupted both of my  older daughters. 

So obviously when I am walking through the grocery store and I see several Coppola wines on sale, I think, "Leave the gun.  Take the cannolis." 

No really.  This is actually why I bought them.
Coppola Ivory Label Cabernet Sauvignon and
Coppola Claret a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec
I decided it would be fun to try them both, and then declare a winner.  My initial instinct was that I would like the Claret best.  I love a Cab blend, and I loved the sleek black label with the gold netting.  I know, you don't buy a wine for a label, but this one just spoke to me.  It was the little black dress of the wine world.  The Ivory I picked up because we were having steak that weekend and I knew I would have the perfect opportunity to enjoy a Cabernet.

What I didn't expect, was that I would like the Ivory better.  In fact, I have bought it two additional times.  It is a great, big wine.  Even bigger if you open it about 20 minutes before drinking.  I loved it.

I liked the Claret as well, but definitely not as much.  Maybe it is because I had the Ivory first.  Although I did have them several days apart.  Regardless, the Claret just couldn't stand up to it. 

I was very, very surprised with the outcome.

I did learn two things during the course of the taste off.

1.  Coppola makes outstanding wines.  I will more than happily try others under their label... including the Claret again.  I still think I may have missed something with that wine.  Which means it definitely deserves a second chance.  I picked up a bottle of the Alicante Bouschet (Magenta Label) the other day.

2.  Always shop around for wine.  I have seen the Coppola Diamond Collection (Ivory Label, Magenta Label, and Claret) priced at $17.99 many, many places.  However, each and every time I have picked up the Ivory it has been for $12.99.  I can think of a lot of other things to spend $5 on, like a wedge of brie from Trader Joe's ... or a Cinnamon Dolce Latte from Starbucks.


Looks like I just planned my Friday evening, and my Saturday morning.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First Edition WOMP

So week one has come and gone, and here I am with some great food for you!  I didn't get everything photographed, but it is a start.  I am including recipes for anything that I can.

If you missed the initial post, and you are wondering what on earth I am doing, you can read it here!

The linking feature is at the bottom, so if you took pictures link up!  I look forward to seeing what everyone has been eating.  Oh, and if you don't have a blog and you still want to participate, I am starting a Flikr group for next week.  So no excuses... GET ON IT!

(What's On MY Plate)

Black Bean Burgers with Mango Avocado Salsa and Sweet Potato Fries
This recipe (like many of my favorites) comes from Cooking Light.
You can find it here.
Punk Ass Turkey Chili
The recipe and the story of it's name are from this blog.
Find them here.
Taco Salad
This is a throw together recipe for me.  Imagine everything that you would put in a taco, crumble in some tortilla chips, toss with Kraft Fat Free Italian, and serve.  Sorry for the washed out photo.  This is twice as good as it looks!
 Friday - We ordered pizza
Saturday - Out to dinner for a friends birthday!
Cheese Ravioli, with tomato sauce and crumbled feta.
Feta makes everything beta!
Do you like my chicken carcass?  Yep, forgot to take the picture.
The worst part?  The recipe is delicious!
Roast Chicken with Sage, Butternut Squash and Red Potatoes
Again, from Cooking Light.
Click this link and you can enjoy what our plates really looked like!
So that's it.

Today is the Trader Joe's run, and tonight I start again.  I am having a good time menu planning and cooking more regularly.  In fact, the Goose has asked to cook dinner on Wednesday, and it is my Great-Grandmother's recipe.  Stay tuned!

Link up below!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Punk Ass Turkey Chili

I wanted to title this recipe Tim's Turkey Chili, but I was told I couldn't.  I was told that there is a Timothy's White Chili somewhere out on the Internet and he didn't want to be confused with that recipe.  Even though the recipes are completely different.  And even though my Tim's chili is much, much better.  Regardless, it is important to be respectful of your better half's feelings.

So I didn't call it that.

I don't think anyone will confuse them now.

Oh, and recipe name aside, this chili is amazing.  We're talking bring this to your neighborhood chili cook off and you just may win, amazing. 

Partly because it is such a different take on chili. 

And partly because it is just that good.

So without further ado, I give you:

Punk Ass Turkey Chili
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Large Onion (diced)
3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
4 cups diced Turkey (cooked)
3 15oz cans Northern White Beans (rinsed and drained)
2 29oz cans Hominy (rinsed and drained)
3 Anaheim Chilies (charred, peeled, seeded and diced)
2 cups Chicken Stock
1.5 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne
2 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 cilantro

for garnish:
Shredded Jack Cheese, Sour Cream, Lime wedges

Heat oil in a Large Dutch Oven.

Add onions and cook until translucent.  Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.  Toss in the the turkey and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the white beans, hominy, peppers, and broth.  Bring to a boil.

Add the remaining ingredients (except the cilantro).  Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Just before serving, remove the chili from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Top each bowl with jack cheese, sour cream, and a lime wedge.

P.S.  I love you honey.  Thanks for writing up the recipe for your chili. And thanks for saying it was okay to use the word ass on my blog!  xoxo, Charlie

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

WOMP! - What's On My Plate

The inspiration for this post comes from The Pleated Poppy.  She has a terrific blog, and an amazing Shop.  You should visit it.  Every Wednesday she runs a post: WIWW (What I Wore Wednesday).  It is an effort to get out of the sweats/jeans/comfy clothes that so many of us moms call our daily uniform.  I love to follow it, and someday I hope to participate.  Right now, I care for my niece who is still in the pulling on the neck of your shirt, drooling on your shoulder, flinging food stage... so Monday-Friday I wear t-shirts.  It is much less disheartening to have those baby-fied, than my regular wardrobe.  I am trying to dress cuter on the weekends though! 

I digress.

Today I was thinking that I need to get back into menu planning.  I know it sounds tedious to many of you, but I love it.  I find that I eat better, my family enjoys more variety, and I make less trips to the grocery store, when dinner is planned in advance.

Then I started thinking that I needed a new recipe for the blog.  (yes my brain is always this scattered.)  Which made me think about photographing it.  Which made me think how much we all enjoy photographing our food. 

You know it's true.  Half the time I am on Facebook, there is a photo of a delicious meal that a friend is rubbing in my face enjoying. 

Think about it.  If you photograph your dinner everyday for a week, would you be more likely to make something healthy and beautiful (which usually go hand in hand by the way), instead of making pasta or ordering Dominoes?  I think I would.

Which leads to The Idea

I am going to photograph my meals this week.  I can't guarantee it will be every meal, but I will do my best.  Then next Tuesday, I will post what I made this week.  As often as possible, I will link to recipes underneath my pictures.  Unless I didn't like it, in which case I will tell you that too.  They can't all be winners.

There is no judgement if you order pizza.  There are nights when pizza is exactly what I want.  This is just an opportunity to get out of the food "sweatpants".  A chance to branch out, try something new, or just to share your food love with the world. 

It sounds like a lot more fun than joining the gym this January. 

Oh, and I will set it up so you can add your own WOMP at the bottom of my post next week.

Happy New Year!