Tag Archives: Food & Drink

Recipes! Finally!

*Note: I was going to do two recipes, but this got long, so we’re sticking to one. I have no idea what either of these go with, but, whatever. Szechuan Chicken Salad, and … well, next time is roasted pork belly. Because who doesn’t love pork belly? (P.S. It’s just bacon, but not cured and smoked.)

First up, the chicken salad. It’s good for fall too, although since I delayed so long apples are as in season as they were. But you know, it’s not as if apples are hard to find year round. What do you need? Chicken, celery, carrots, and apples. I’m actually not at all a fan of sweet and savory dishes, so the fact that I can recommend this says something. I was hanging out with my dad one weekend, and he had to bring food to a Bible study pot luck, so I came up with this.

Of course you wash everything – so that’s not really a step. Once done, cut the celery and carrots into 2″ pieces, then julienne it. (Cut it into thin strips.) For the chicken, you can use chicken tenders (we did), or even a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store. We took frozen chicken tenders, and just boiled them. Shred the chicken. The apples, slice them thinly. I’d say halve then quarter each apple, cut out the core, and keep slicing – use a mandolin(e) if you have one or prefer using that.

Add salt and pepper to taste… and now we get to the Szechuan aspect. Hmm… ok, so I guess we’ll do this. Ingredients being more specific… three medium sized apples. Probably five or six stalks of celery, and two large carrots. And a pound of chicken tenders, or half the rotisserie chicken. Now, you need and want sesame oil. Pour about 1.5 T into the bowl and mix. Add Szechuan pepper oil to taste. (If you like extra heat, add in chili oil too.) Mix. Done!

Now… the Szechuan pepper oil is another recipe in and of itself, and can be used for frankly anything savory. Ok… so this recipe can’t be exactly replicated. The reason is… the small peppers we use I’ve never found anywhere else. Google images tells me they might be Bay Leaf Mini Pepper or Pequin Peppers. The latter might be more similar – they’re Sichuan peppers (Szechuan), they’re also called the “Facing Heaven Peppers” or “Heaven Chiles.”


Sesame oil, szechuan pepper corns, dried chiles (anything quality and not smoked), dried shitake mushrooms, and some sort of grinder. A coffee or spice grinder suffices. The picture to the right, incidentally, is the peppers we used that you can’t seem to find anywhere. (My uncle gave us a plant.)

Toast the szechuan pepper corns. Once they’re cooled grind them with the shitake mushrooms, and dried chiles into a fine powder. Heat the sesame oil – not to the smoking point but right before. It’ll shimmer. Dump the powdered ingredients into the pot and  leave it until cooled. OR here’s an easier method: dump everything in the cool oil, cook on low, then once it starts smelling good, cook for about 10 more minutes.

NOTE: If your tolerance for heat isn’t that great, leave the peppers (pepper corns and dried chiles) whole so you can fish them out. Once you can smell it, flip the whole chiles over so you can get all the flavors and essential oils from them. (The bottoms of the dried chiles will possibly be darkened or blackened.)

Once the oil is cooled, put it in a clean jar. If your heat tolerance isn’t that great, make sure you strain out most of the peppers before you bottle it.

So there you go! I hope that made sense…

LASTLY! I discovered these Two Degree bars… they’re really good, and all natural – and what’s really cool about them is that whenever you buy a bar, the company also gives food to a hungry child. I know for sure they’re available nation wide in Whole Food stores.

As you can see there are Cherry Almond, Apple Pecan, and Chocolate Peanut. I’ve tried the Apple Pecan and am saving the others – I might cave and try the Chocolate Peanut tonight.

Football and Winner(s)

Well, my team won today. Which, you know, makes them winners. They’re still the Sadeyes because, well it’s been a tough year, but I’m really proud of how they’re pulling through. I’m currently watching Alabama playing LSU, and I have to say I’m rooting for an upset. I can’t help it – I always do, unless my team is ranked higher. Do you generally go for the underdog? Am I just a freak? :X

Today has been nutters, so I used randomizer.org to pick a winner for Shiloh Walker and Mary G’s post. Stay tuned, because we hope to do something similar for If You See Her! (Yay Hope and Remy! *bounce bounce*) Anyway, the winner is aeternum_a – you have until Tuesday to email me to claim your prize. Shiloh did tell me she’s swamped though, so it might take a while for her to get back to you.

Next week of course we’ve got Teaser Tuesday, but no other currently scheduled guests, so I’m thinking a review, maybe, and recipes? I’ve been all about roasted vegetables. And frozen drinks. They’re not related, thankfully. For all that we all have a seriously developed sweet tooth in my family, we rarely have desserts.

Do you guys make desserts from scratch? Have a favorite? I also really want to try my hand at making cake balls again, but they’re too sweet for me, once coated with chocolate. Gah.

So how’s everyone’s weekend going?

A Request, A Nothing Post + Consolation Recipe(s)

Well, as you know, my Social Media for Social Good drive is over. I believe our grand total is $8,484.50. Isn’t that a fun number? I love how both years we’ve ended up with a fun result. 2010 was $1,337.00 and obviously you know 2011’s. Now my request – I asked people who donated to send me a header, headshot, book cover, avatar, whatever they wanted and the idea was to make a sort of collage. I don’t have photoshop, sadly, and was going to try to find something online that could handle it.

I guess my request is twofold. Is there any incredibly kind, generous soul out there who would be willing to do that for me? If not… got a suggestion? I was thinking fotoflexor but think it might die under the pressure/amount of images.

For the nothing part… an update on me! 😀 My blog, my universe. I’m sadly still sick. Getting slightly better, I think. But today I had some horrible allergic reaction rash thing. It actually ended up being a good thing though, because the benadryl I took knocked me out. I slept for nearly 4 hours, which is actually more than I had slept the past two days combined. Combined! Of course now the pup is going wild because omg someone to play with me!

Anyway, the sick + knocking out is why I didn’t write anything of more substance. I wanted to do another more in depth results post, about the good you all did for Save the Children, and other organizations.

Lastly… a fun summer recipe.

First, a mint-citrus simple syrup. I made mine with mine and lemon, because that’s what I had. You could of course make it with line, or orange. Perhaps a combination?


fresh mint
citrus zest [lime, lemon, orange]

Otherwise, you only need a pot, and either a microplane/zester, or vegetable peeler. Add one part sugar, and one part water to the pot. (So if you add 3 cups of water, add 3 cups of sugar). For that amount, I added about 1 cup of fresh mint. I went outside, picked it, washed it, and dried it off – so I wouldn’t throw off the measurements of my syrup. If you don’t want to, you can just cook it longer to get the proper consistency once you add it. I then zested two lemons, and put that in immediately. Once the syrup had reduced by a third, I tossed in the mint. Once it had reduced by half, I turned it off – you could go longer if you want.

I strained the mixture, and put the syrup in small jars. They’ll keep in the fridge for quite some time as long as you don’t stick your finger in them, or a “contaminated spoon” or something. With the strained zest and lime… I actually made myself a drink – ice, the “syrup guts” – a splash of gin, and seltzer. A light and amazingly refreshing drink.

You could also blend the remains and make an amazing granita. Yum – I’m doing that next time.

I took the syrup and made myself a mango lassi smoothie yesterday.

Of course I eyeballed everything, and you can make it to taste… but let’s go with this recipe. It looked gorgeous but I was too lazy to take pictures of the process and style the end result. It was too good and I just wanted to drink it.


plain yogurt
fresh or frozen mango
mint citrus simple syrup

I threw about 3/4 cups of plain yogurt in a blender/container. I suppose vanilla could work if you want it even sweeter, or mango yogurt for extra flavor if they have it. Then I added 1/4 of a mango I’d cup up and frozen previously. (I like everything colder.) I actually blended this, before adding a glass of ice – and added maybe 2 tablespoons of the simple syrup. You can flavor to taste of course.

Blend. Done! If you want to be fancy you can garnish your glass with a sprig of mint, and maybe a citrus peel curl. For the mango lassi smoothie, I’d actually suggest a mint-lime simple syrup. I think that would taste even better. If you don’t want it to be a smoothie you can of course nix the ice, and just use water, and mix it well. Then it’d be a mango lassi.

Versatile! Enjoy. 😉

So – what’s your newest favorite summer drink?

Something Light and Fruity: Wine Soaked Peaches with Whipped Vanilla Ricotta

It’s not a secret that I like fruit, and that I also like alcohol. O_o Which then makes it so easy for all sorts of horrid statements, but I’m going to say you’re all mature enough to understand that. Considering all those substance abuse lectures I had to attend… CLEs, people! Anyway, my original point. I make no apologies for it – I mean, what do you think limecello is? Vodka, lime, and sugar. Done.

And now I’ve got you all poised with your fingertips on the phone keypad about to dial a hotline for me… the post. I like mixing fruit and alcohol. I’ve talked about it before. Citrus sugar, vanilla sugar, and so on. Recently, I did peaches in pinot grigio. It was extremely good, and turned the pinot into this lovely blush color. I didn’t think to take a picture, because it was a random thing.

But then I made myself a snack/treat of the wine soaked peaches, with whipped vanilla ricotta.

What did I do? Take awesome ripe peaches, and slice them into thin wedges. I’d say as close to 1/8″ as you can get. I put them in a container, and filled it with pinot grigio. We actually got the Bota box pinot – something you might want to consider if you like drinkable wine that isn’t too pricey. Yes, it comes in a box, but it’s actually good. Honest. What I did was take one of those plastic quart containers you get with take out – filled it with peaches, then wine. Put the lid on tightly, and you’re good to go.

I let it sit overnight in the fridge, and that was it. You can take out the peaches and eat them how you wish… or leave them in the wine like a sangria. Considering it’s not really a preservative or anything though, I wouldn’t leave the peaches in the wine for more than a day. (36 hours as a guess the max?) If it were vodka, or something, fine. But with wine? Not so much. You can separate the two, and both will keep longer.

For the whipped ricotta… I actually left mine as is – just ricotta, a little powdered sugar if you like it sweeter, and some pure vanilla extract. I really like vanilla, so I used maybe 1.5 tsp for 1/2 c ricotta. N.B. I don’t actually measure things, generally, so these are all guestimates. If you don’t like vanilla as much, use less. Or use almond extract, lemon extract, etc, if you prefer.

If you want it to be a bit more decadent, you can make whipped cream first, then fold in the ricotta. Pour some heavy whipping cream into a large bowl, and take a beater, mixer, or whisk to it. Add in the powdered sugar, then the ricotta. Incidentally, this is also how you make cannoli cream. Which is excellent on pretty much anything – even bagels.

So there you have it. Wine soaked peaches with whipped vanilla ricotta. I didn’t take a picture, because I accidentally went heavy on the vanilla and it wasn’t that pretty. That, and I ate it before anyone asked me what the “recipe” was.

Shannon’s Great Cooking Adventure!

Today, my lucky friends, we have a guest post from the wonderful Shannon Stacey herself! She told me the recipe didn’t… erm, quite turn out, and I asked her to tell me what went wrong. She kindly detailed it in the post. So without further ado:

As you may have read in the recent blog post titled Feeding Shannon Stacey, Lime’s trying to feed me. And, being somewhat familiar with our excessively finicky nature and my total lack of cooking skills, she went with chicken. If you haven’t read it, take a second to click on that link and check out the easy recipe.

Ingredients needed: pretzel crisps flavor of choice, boneless skinless chicken breasts, flour or corn starch, vegetable and/or olive oil

And look at the ingredient list. Nothing fancy. Nothing I’ve never heard of before. (Hey, did you all know capers aren’t little sardine-like fish? I didn’t know that.) And, while we’ve never actually had Pretzel Crisps before, it looks like every member of my family would eat it. (There are maybe a half-dozen meals that all four of us will eat.)

I’m guessing there are many people who would look at that recipe and think even a drunken monkey couldn’t screw that up. Well, I must have been sucking down the banana daiquiris that day because not only did I screw it up, but I pretty much killed it dead. It all started going wrong with the grocery shopping.

Problem: None of our local grocery stores carry Pretzel Crisps.
Probably not a good solution: I bought Regenie’s Original Pita Chips in garlic parmesan flavor instead. Why? Because I’d already bought the chicken.

Problem: I don’t know what cornstarch is and I don’t know where in the store to find it.
Probably not a good solution: I saw cornmeal and figured it must be close enough, right?

The screwing up process continued in the preparation…

Problem: I don’t have a food processor or a rolling pin to crush the pita chips into “flour”.
Probably not a good solution: I used a juice glass, but it didn’t do a very good job and my hand got tired and I got bored, so I crushed them more into “small cornflake-ish bits”.

Problem: This bit of directions – Dredge the chicken in the pretzel crisp flour. Pan fry it. Done. Well, I didn’t really have pretzel crisp flour at this point.
Probably not a good solution: I dredged the chicken in the weird mixture of semi-crushed pita chips and cornmeal, then pan fried. Done.

I wish I’d taken a picture of the finished product. It was bizarre looking, with the not-crushed pita chips looking like big polka dots and the cornmeal (which I’ve since discovered is not the same thing as cornstarch) giving it a grainy, speckled look.

BUT…all four of us ate it. And all four of us had seconds. For this house, that’s a rare success. So, despite my finickiness and lack of cooking schools and lack of ability to follow a pretty basic recipe, Lime did manage to “Feed Shannon Stacey”!

Whee! Well, kinda. So sorry it didn’t turn out as expected, Shannon, but yay that you all had seconds? I’m all for adapting recipes anyway… The pita chips/pretzel crisps are so you don’t have to buy or worry about seasonings and measurements… I say next time assign SK or TK the task of smashing the pita chips.

But now I’m even more determined to find/create a recipe that you will all eat and that won’t cause you so many problems! And friends, I’d appreciate it if you’d help me on this quest. Suggestions, hints and tips on what the Stacey’s do/don’t eat, you know – gimme the good stuff!

*NB: Shannon asked for a monkey drinking a banana daiquiri, picture wise, so this is the best I could do. She okay’d both – just in case you were ready to be all offended on her behalf. It also amuses me because “the drunken monkey” is a style/form of kung-fu.

Bottoms Up!

In which I share some of my random drink concoctions. I never really follow recipes nor do I have a wide selection. (Believe it or not, I don’t drink that much. At all. But at any given time there’s tequila in the house (we cook with it), and generally… rum of some sort. Of course, I have nothing against drinking. After all, I went to The Ohio State University for undergrad, and then law school… well you know those lawyer jokes and their liquid lunches. Plus an internship with the Senate, where I learned what “appropriations” really means in some DC offices… 😉
Still, it’s a fun time to add this song, and fitting, yes?

Also, yes, I took all the pictures in this post. See? Even a total amateur can make drinks that look pretty! Even with a “bad” camera! [I used my phone and you know, winter “light”… not exactly ideal…]

So, here we have three drinks. I don’t know that they’ll appeal to everyone – I’m more of a fruity drinks type of girl, as you can see. First up, we have a drink that I’ve mentioned a few times before – it seems really odd, though many say it’d be a great sangria base. I like it as is. Crushed pineapple and red wine. Obviously you don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) go for the really pricey stuff – but you want something palatable. However, if you don’t care, of course you can go for the swill. Especially if you do make it into a sangria. I like taking fresh pineapple and crushing it… if your pineapple is just about to go, you can cook it then crush it… or used canned – the latter I’d be most okay with pairing with the cheapest red wine. A suggestion, if I may – would be a Bota box. Pretty sure my family goes for the Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel. You should be able to find it at grocery stores or Target (if they sell liquor), and likely your local liquor store as well.

Second drink I give you today… something that uses:


Can you tell what that is? 😀 Just to be cheeky, I won’t tell you. You’ve got to guess. Anyway, you take that, and ice, and gin, and… water, actually. You could use seltzer or tonic if you prefer (we just didn’t have any). Although, I’d actually suggest seltzer instead of tonic because you don’t want it too sweet… and the lovely result is…

It is quite pretty, isn’t it? We had a type of gin I’d never tried or heard of before – Smooth Ambler, which I really liked. It’s quite floral and… there’s almost this hint of… banana O_o actually. Which is especially interesting because I do not like banana. But I loved that drink. So so good.

And lastly… just something cobbled together, because I had tequila, and grenadine. I bought a huge bottle of it, and I really need to start adding it to more things. So… it’s kinda a tequila sunrise, as you can tell there’s orange juice in it as well. Two finger tequila is a staple, and usually 1800 gold as well. Always nice to have a variety, right? Two finger for the mixing… 1800 for the sipping. If you’re going to do shots, I’d say go with Patron. And stay away from Joy (of Joyfully Reviewed) cuz… she might try to kill you 😉

Then… there’s always the nice Irish coffee variations… coffee, Baileys and/or Kahlua, whipped cream if you have it, and if you want to make it even more dessert like, add hot chocolate/cocoa mix, and top it with whipped cream. For the extra kick, there’s that alcoholic whipped cream. I haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but a number of people recommend it.

So what about you? Do you have a favorite drink? Do you cobble things together from what you have? As a PSA of sorts, avoid cheap tequila. It seems most everyone who has a bad drinking story was felled by bad tequila. What’s your favorite alcohol? I’m quite partial to sparkling wines, myself. 🙂

Feeding Shannon Stacey [v 2.0]

*NB: Some of you may have seen something like this post in the feed yesterday. I was trying to schedule it but it published. Sorry.

I mentioned before, I have a goal of finding a recipe for Shannon Stacey and her family. She’s not a cook – her own words – and her entire family consists of picky eaters. [Again, her.] She’s also quite cagey about what she and her family will or will not eat, so I’m going with the spaghetti method here. (Toss and see what sticks :P)

But first… yesterday HarperCollins made the decision to limit the number of times an e-book can be circulated at digital libraries. I love the digital library collections at my libraries. Their cap? Twenty-six times. It makes my brain cramp. I personally, think it’s incredibly stupid. Courtney Milan quickly had a thoughtful response to this situation, as usual. And I’m sure there will be many more posts popping up. Twitter friends who are librarians also had a lot of great comments: @SuperWendy, @MandaCollins, and @Tuphlos. (I won’t link their feeds because you know, it’s twitter and by the time you check they could very well be talking about pastrami.) Also, there’s a hashtag for HarperCollins, where you can say how you feel about the policy on twitter: #hcod. And since I just commented on the Smart Bitches post I feel obligated to link it :).

Wendy did say, there’s a common misconception – there aren’t “limitless digital copies” at an e-library (usually overdrive) collection. There are wait lists, hold lists, and the like – just as there are for print books. For example, I’ve been patron number 22 on a pre-release title before. I feel sorry for hold number 27 on a HC book now… and I also feel like I have to stalk my library to make it on the pre-cut off list. If my library even continues to buy them…

Ok. So, book/industry rant over. No more head-explodery. [Erm, and in case it wasn’t clear, the Happy Bunny pictures are what I imagine the publishing executives have on their doors… :P] Now we get to Ms. Shannon Stacey. First up recipe-wise… something simple, that I think will have mass appeal. It involves… Pretzel Crisps! Currently not available (at least not the updated version) on Amazon, but I asked [Pretzel Crisps] about it and they said hopefully in a month or two. So, yay! (You can also buy them from the website.)

This is a pretty no fuss no muss recipe, and great stress relief as well. You take your pretzel crisp flavor of choice- I’d recommend Buffalo Wing, or Garlic Parmesan, personally. I figure Tuscan Three Cheese would also be delicious, and possibly Supreme or the Everything pretzel crisps.

Ingredients needed: pretzel crisps flavor of choice, boneless skinless chicken breasts, flour or corn starch, vegetable and/or olive oil

“Tools” needed: food processor [optional], rolling pin and/or heavy/large surface, saran wrap or zip lock bags.

I’d say take 2.5 cups of pretzel crisps, and if you have a food processor, pulse them until they’re a flour-like consistency. Mix this with 1/3 cup either flour, or cornstarch. (The cornstarch is because it’s finer and might stick to the chicken better – but if you don’t have it, flour is fine too.) Basically it’s the workings of chicken piccata, but already seasoned/flavored.
If you don’t have a food processor, fret not. Or, if you do have one, but need some stress relief, here’s the option for you. Dump the pretzel crisps in a freezer size zip lock bag. Depending on how bad your mood is, double, or triple bag it. Then go to town. Smash the hell out of it. Use a rolling pin, cutting board, pan, your hand, throw it on the ground, have your kid do it, whatever. Kill it.

Spread the “flour” on a large plate in a relatively even manner. Set it aside.

Now, for the chicken. Trim it however you like. Either put it in a bag (you can use the pretzel crisp smashing one if it survived), or just cover it with saran wrap. Depending on how you feel about clean up, you can put saran wrap under, and over the chicken breast. This I recommend doing on a cutting board, or if your counters are sturdy, that. Flatten the meat to about 1/4″ – it’s pretty easy, actually. Take said rolling pin, or make shift rolling pin, pan, whatever, and whack away. Obviously if you have a meat tenderizer, you can use that.

If you’re feeling perfectly fine and don’t want to exert yourself, you can halve the chicken breast [or cut them into thirds] – just as if you were going to butterfly it, but slicing all the way through.

Preheat a pan with a large flat bottom, and pour in about 4 tablespoons of oil. You don’t need to cover the bottom of the pan. Medium to medium-high heat is fine. You want to hear a sizzle when you place the chicken in the pan.

Dredge the chicken in the pretzel crisp flour. Pan fry it. Done. [Because it’s thin it should only take a few minutes on each side – the chicken should be a golden brown color – adjust heat as needed. Medium high initially, turn it down after 30 seconds so the chicken gets a crust but doesn’t burn, and then depending on how full the pan is you might want to adjust the heat.]

If the bottom is almost completely dry – add one or two tablespoons of oil as needed.

You can serve it with bread, rice, or pasta, and your vegetables of choice. Done!

And… I got an email from Carrie offering up this suggestion: Ginger Soy Chicken. Carrie says, “We had it this week and was really good.  She could easily substitute Chicken tenders for the thighs if she only likes white meat.  Very few ingredients and took me less than 1/2 hour to make start to finish.”

Can you tell I’m not much of a recipe person? I’m the “a dash of this and a bit of that” type cook. I very rarely follow recipes to the letter. So, if you have any questions, ask, and I’ll clarify the best I can in the comments. Because we all know one thing I’m good at is talking 😛

What do you think? Gonna try the recipe? Maybe you’ll get lucky and Pretzel Crisps will send you a nice sample. And then… if you want, let’s wade into the whole publishing … muck. Or you know – random weekend! What are your plans? Got a recipe to share? Do you have a stress relief/go to town dish?