Asian Chicken Salad

Asian Chicken Salad

Since the New Year I have been all about the greens.

Salad greens that is.

There are so many possibilities when it comes to creating a delicious salad. It seems almost impossible to create a non-delicious salad. Throw in some veggies, fruit, nuts, dried berries, cheese, or just about anything your mind can come up with... it's simple!

I love this salad for so many reasons.

The bright colors, the bold flavors, the sweet, the tangy, the crunch, the simplicity.

It's ridiculously easy to throw this salad together for a quick lunch or a nice pair to spicy Kung Pao Chicken Dinner.

A quick note to this Asian Chicken Salad- I have found the BEST dressing for this creation. It's the Asian Toasted Sesame dressing by Kraft. I use the Light{compared to the regular you'd never know the difference}, and I still enjoy all the flavor with less guilt.

Aren't these the cutest measuring cups you've ever seen? They remind me of little baby blue tea cups. I want to have a tea party every time I take them out!

They were given to me from a dear friend that just happens to be one of the luckiest ladies I know. She was given them by someone everyone knows.

Just a nice lady named OPRAH!!

My friend was one of the lucky 12 that won Oprah's Favorite Things from the online drawing! I'm talking about over $29,000 worth of things! {I feel like I know a celebrity!}

I still can't believe she just gave me these. I love them! Thanks Holly!

You'll love this salad, I promise!

Asian Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
4 cups shredded cabbage
2 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup Mandarin oranges
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3/4 cup broccoli florets
1/3 cup diced green onions
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing
Chow Mein crunchy noodles


Leftover Skillet Scramble

I sure hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, filled with lots and lots of food!

This was my first year to ever be away from family during the holidays. It was up to me to provide Christmas dinner for our little family of five. I did a classic family dinner of ham, casserole potatoes {I need to share this recipe with you}, green beans, and rolls. Followed of course by a pumpkin pie.

It turned out perfectly, but having a fridge the size of a small child leftovers are something that can't stay around for too long. Needless to say, we have been eating ham, casserole potatoes, green beans, and rolls for the past couple days. {the pumpkin pie didn't make it that long}


Which brings me to what we consumed for breakfast. A nice combination of leftovers all mixed together with eggs and cheese {seriously...who doesn't love eggs and cheese?}

Here's what I used: a few pieces of ham, half an onion, two slices of thick bacon, half of a baked potato, some green onions, eggs, and cheese.

{PS- can you tell what I got for Christmas??}

Add about a tsp of oil to a hot skillet and throw in the diced onion, and sliced bacon.

 Saute until the onions are translucent and the bacon is cooked.

I peeled the skin from the potato and diced it up.

Dice up a few pieces of ham. Since the ham and potato are already cooked, you wont need to cook them again in the skillet.

Toss them both in the skillet and give it a good toss and let it warm up.

 In a separate bowl combine 5 eggs, salt and pepper. Whisk together.

Pour the eggs over the skillet, and add the diced green onions.

{now can you guess what I got for Christmas??}

With a wooden spoon stir slowly to let the eggs cook.

Once the eggs are firmed up, top the skillet with a handful {or two} of shredded cheese. I prefer sharp cheddar, it is bursting with flavor.

Leftover Skillet Scramble

Leftover Skillet Scramble


I sure hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, filled with lots and lots of food!

This was my first year to ever be away from family during the holidays. It was up to me to provide Christmas dinner for our little family of five. I did a classic family dinner of ham, casserole potatoes {I need to share this recipe with you}, green beans, and rolls. Followed of course by a pumpkin pie.

It turned out perfectly, but having a fridge the size of a small child leftovers are something that can't stay around for too long. Needless to say, we have been eating ham, casserole potatoes, green beans, and rolls for the past couple days. {the pumpkin pie didn't make it that long}


Which brings me to what we consumed for breakfast. A nice combination of leftovers all mixed together with eggs and cheese {seriously...who doesn't love eggs and cheese?}

Here's what I used: a few pieces of ham, half an onion, two slices of thick bacon, half of a baked potato, some green onions, eggs, and cheese.

{PS- can you tell what I got for Christmas??}

Add about a tsp of oil to a hot skillet and throw in the diced onion, and sliced bacon.

 Saute until the onions are translucent and the bacon is cooked.

I peeled the skin from the potato and diced it up.

Dice up a few pieces of ham. Since the ham and potato are already cooked, you wont need to cook them again in the skillet.

Toss them both in the skillet and give it a good toss and let it warm up.

 In a separate bowl combine 5 eggs, salt and pepper. Whisk together.

Pour the eggs over the skillet, and add the diced green onions.

{now can you guess what I got for Christmas??}

With a wooden spoon stir slowly to let the eggs cook.

Once the eggs are firmed up, top the skillet with a handful {or two} of shredded cheese. I prefer sharp cheddar, it is bursting with flavor.

 Let the cheese melt to it's ooey gooey perfect-ness.


Top with a little bit of cilantro {if you have it on hand}, maybe a little sour cream? Personally, I am diggin the Jalapeno Tabasco sauce right now. Order up with a tall glass of cold milk.

Good Morning Leftovers!

{Did you figure out what I got for Christmas? Leave a comment if you think you know what it is!!}

Leftover Skillet Scramble

Ingredients:
5 large eggs
2/3 cup diced ham
2 slices bacon, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 baked potato, peeled and diced
1/4 cup green onion, diced
2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tbsp oil

Directions:
In a hot skillet add 1 tbsp oil. Add diced onion and bacon. Saute till onion is translucent and bacon is cooked. Add potato and ham, toss and cook an additional 2 minutes till ham and potato are warm. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, salt and pepper. Pour eggs over skillet. Add diced green onion and stir egg mixture till the eggs start to get firm in texture. Top with cheese and let it melt. Serve warm.
Enjoy!

Cake Pops for Cheaters

Cake Pops for Cheaters


Or the lazy. Or those who aren’t at all lazy but would much prefer a nap.
In case you haven’t noticed, cake pops are the sweet of the moment, made popular by Bakerella, blogger extraordinaire, who has now published an entire book of them.
They are baked cakes, crumbled and mixed with icing, then rolled into balls, frozen, impaled on a stick and dipped in chocolate. I say this as a lover of frosting and one known to finish the leftover frosting on other peoples’ plates: the thought doesn’t appeal. (No offense Bakerella – I really think you’re great and the pops are adorable. They just make my teeth ache.)
Timbits%2B%2526%2Bchocolate Cake Pops for CheatersIt occurred to me that one could forgo the baking, crumbling, mixing, shaping and freezing (not that, as you know, I’m against spending time in the kitchen) and move straight to the aesthetic part of the cake pop by cheating with cake pop implants: Timbits.


1) Buy cake-doughnut Timbits.
2) Impale on sticks (lollipop sticks from Michael’s or another craft store, or wooden coffee stirrers).
3) Melt chocolate – any kind – and dip them in.
4) Let them sit on a plate or piece of waxed paper or foil until set. If you like, sprinkle with coconut, coarse sugar or sprinkles.

Admittedly, they are about as sweet as anything I’ve eaten. But the Timbits shave some time off the process – and aren’t cake pops mostly about cuteness?
If you do want to take the scenic route, there’s a full-on cake pop recipe over here.
Hey! I have a new plan for Free Stuff Fridays.
White%2Bchocolate%2Bpops%2B2 Cake Pops for CheatersSince I’m not always on the ball on Fridays (surprising, I know), often not making the connection that it’s Friday or when I do, not having the gumption to come up with the free stuff I may have tucked away earlier in the week, I thought I’d remove the Fridays from the free stuff.
That’s right! It’s open season! I added a little tab up top – see it? free stuff? – and what I’ll do is put stuff there once in awhile – not necessarily on a Friday, just to throw y’all off. And because I even more often forget that it’s Tuesday and I’m supposed to be drawing a winner, I’ll put stuff up there and then take it down when I draw a winner, and that way there will be no missing of boats. If there’s something up there it will be up for grabs, and if not, you’ll know. Sound foolproof?

 

Whiskey Fizz and a True Gin Sour

Whiskey Fizz and a True Gin Sour

I like making cocktails at home, but it usually involves a lot of tasting or tinkering for me to get them right. The Cocktail Primer takes out the guesswork and offers an interesting way to categorize drink types. I received a review copy of this book and was happy to expand my cocktail knowledge while trying a few drinks along the way. Eben Klemm, master mixologist and head bartender of B.R. Guest Restaurants, organized this book by grouping descendants from master drinks. He offers six master drink classes, which are defined by style and technique, and the cocktails that belong to each group. For instance, from the martini comes the vesper and negroni. These drinks are not sweet or acidic, and they have a high alcohol content. They each have a primary and a secondary spirit but no fruit or sweet liqueurs. There is also a wealth of cocktail history sprinkled throughout the book. I learned that martinis weren’t always such strong drinks. Originally, they contained a more equal ratio of gin or vodka to vermouth and bitters. As the quality of gin and vodka has improved over the years, there became less need to mask the taste of the liquor, and the modern martini is now much more alcoholic. And, should you shake or stir? Klemm explains that as well. You should shake to aerate and slightly dilute a drink and stir for a more elegant, still result.


I found myself drawn to the chapter about simple sours. These drinks all include one type of liquor, some form of citrus for acidity, and a small amount of sweetness for balance. The fizz was particularly interesting because of the egg white foam that results on top. A fizz should be shaken to aerate the egg white and blend it with the liquor of choice, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters. These can be made with gin, whiskey, or rum, and they are finished with a splash of both club soda and red wine. First, I tried a gin fizz, and Kurt and I were both unsure about the flavor and texture combination. Next, I made the same drink with whiskey instead, and we both preferred that version by far. The fizz is shown in the photo at the bottom of this post. Since the gin didn’t work for us in the first cocktail, I tried it again in a true sour. This time, rather than using plain simple syrup, I took Klemm’s advice about trying flavored syrups and made one infused with rosemary. The gin, lemon juice, and rosemary syrup were shaken with ice, and the mixture was strained over fresh ice in a glass. A dash of bitters was added along with a splash of soda, and it was garnished with a maraschino cherry. The true sour is shown in the photo above. It was fresh-tasting, and the lemon and rosemary combined well with gin.


This book does a great job of simplifying the world of cocktails and helping you understand them from the inside out. Once you master the basics and learn about variations on some general themes, you can start getting creative. In the final chapter, there are a few examples of complex sours that make use of more ingredients than the other cocktails in the book. I’m looking forward to trying the paradiso with white peach-white pepper foam that’s made with limoncello. Then, I might be ready to invent a signature cocktail or two of my own.


Absinthe Cocktails

Absinthe Cocktails

Earlier this year, I was invited to an absinthe tasting at Peche in Austin where I learned a little about the spirit and the different brands and varieties that are available. We were served two absinthe drips which are nothing more than absinthe in a glass over which a sugar cube has been placed in a spoon so that water can be slowly poured over the sugar cube into the glass. The first was made with Pernod and the second with St. George absinthe. I learned that St. George has much more herbal flavor while Pernod tastes more of anise. I also learned that thujone, the substance which years ago was incorrectly thought to be dangerous in absinthe, naturally exists in higher concentration in rosemary than it does in wormwood which is one of the many ingredients in absinthe. I was intrigued by what I learned that evening, but I hadn't gotten around to adding absinthe to my home liquor cabinet until I received a review copy of the new book Absinthe Cocktails by Kate Simon. It's a slim book that offers a quick history of absinthe, how it was banned by 1915 in the US, France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, and Brazil, and how it began to reappear about ten years ago returning to the US market in 2007. The book includes a chapter of the Classics which are absinthe cocktails like the absinthe drip, sazerac, waldorf, and doctor funk which is a tiki bar favorite with lime and lemon juices and grenadine. The second chapter of recipes is The New Guard, and this includes the best absinthe cocktails from current top bartenders. These updated drinks include the likes of the shiso malt sour, my oh my ty, and la lucha sigue which involves tequila, sweet vermouth, Nonino, and orange bitters. There's also a handy glossary for looking up less familiar ingredient names, and suggested substitutions are included with the definitions. With cocktails spanning simple classics to sweet or complex concoctions, this book offers something for every taste.

Right away, I was curious about the tequila sazerac and wanted to find out how the flavors of tequila and absinthe mixed. To make the cocktail which is in the photo above, a glass was filled with ice and set aside to chill. In a mixing glass, tequila, a simple syrup made with agave nectar, and Peychaud's bitters were stirred with ice. Until I shopped for this recipe, I had no idea that Peychaud's bitters were so difficult to locate. I heard from several people that the easiest thing to do is to bring some home when you visit New Orleans. Had I only known that the last time I was in New Orleans, I would have brought home several bottles. After a few calls, I finally located some at a downtown liquor store, and I was ready to stir and sip. Once the cocktail was well mixed in the ice, the ice in the glass was discarded, and just enough absinthe was poured into the chilled glass to coat it. The interesting thing about these cocktails is that very little absinthe is used, but the flavor is always prominent. The tequila mixture was strained into the coated glass, and lime peel was twisted over the top and added as a garnish. This was a strong, sipping kind of cocktail, and the tequila and absinthe married nicely. Peychaud's bitters accented the licorice flavor well.

Next, I turned back to the Classics chapter for the morning glory fizz, and that is shown in the photo below. This was a shaken cocktail with scotch, lemon juice, simple syrup, a scant quarter teaspoon of absinthe, and an egg white. After shaking with ice to chill and froth, soda water was added. Once in a chilled glass, a dash of Angostura bitters was dropped on top. This was a tart and tasty drink, and that small amount of absinthe added nice herbal and anise flavor with the dash of bitters preventing the drink from being too sweet. It was interesting to taste how absinthe mixed so well with different ingredients, and I'm looking forward to trying several more combinations, both classic and new, from the book.

 

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_FL66goStEQU/SgDIFfSfOCI/AAAAAAAACks/AiQNAPeXtPY/s1600/RoastedPotatoLeekSoup_500close.jpgI haven’t been having the best luck with leeks lately, but thought I would take one more stab at it.   Since we had a bit of a cold snap last week in Dallas (yay for highs in the 80s in July!), I decided I needed to make a creamy, hearty soup.   So, I found the nicest looking leeks I could find, and decided on a combination of potatoes and leeks.  This was delicious served with fresh thyme and a dollop of sour cream.
 


Ingredients:
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 large leeks, white and pale green parts, rinsed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
3 green onions, tender green and white portions, chopped
a small handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped
1 sprig fresh tarragon, leaves picked and chopped
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 lb. of red potatoes, diced
5 cups of chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
sour cream for garnish
Directions:
In a large heavy pot, melt 3 Tbso of the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the leeks and and the green onions and saute until the leeks are wilted, about 4 minutes.   Add the thyme, taragon, and cayenne pepper and stir for a second to incorporate.   Add the potatoes and stir for 1 minute to coat.
Add the stock to the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low heat, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
With a stick blender or in a blender, puree about 2/3 of the soup.  Return to the pot and season with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with thyme leaves.  Enjoy!

 

Honey Garlic Hoisin Wings

Honey Garlic Hoisin Wings

Sorry guys, I have a brutal cold but haven’t had the chance to slow down much, and by bedtime I’m running on fumes. I must say I’m very much looking forward to going to bed with my bottle of NyQuil tonight.
It turns out social media is an effective means of transmitting medical advice – I’ve had a ton of sure-fire cold remedies relayed by twitter – hot water with honey and lemon! with ginger! with rum! I’ve tried it with all but the rum and while it is comforting and feels like it should do something to knock out my cold, it doesn’t seem to have the power.
Hoisin%2Bwings%2B2 Honey Garlic Hoisin WingsHowever. Yesterday I ran into a friend while signing books downtown for the CBC Suncor Food Bank Drive, and upon hearing my lounge-singer voice she and her friend began offering up suggestions of same, except this time it was suggested I crush up some garlic, stir it into honey and eat that.
Worth a try, don’t you think? Would it matter if said honey and garlic were administered by chicken wing?
Honey Garlic Hoisin Wings
3-4 lbs chicken wings or drumettes, wing tips trimmed
canola or olive oil, for cooking
Sticky Garlic Hoisin:
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Pat wings dry with paper towel and arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. (Lay them on a wire rack set on the sheet, if you have one.) Drizzle with oil and toss to coat; roast for 20-30 minutes, until cooked through and starting to turn golden.
Meanwhile, stir together the sauce ingredients. Remove wings from the oven, drain away any fat in the bottom of the pan, toss wings with sauce (if you like, save some to toss the wings in afterward) and roast for another 10-15 minutes, until the skins are crispy and the sauce is caramelized. If you like, turn on the broiler and cook for 2-3 minutes, until deep golden. Serve immediately, with napkins. Makes lots.

 

Sausage, and Sweet Potato Soup

Black Bean, Sausage, and Sweet Potato Soup

 

Ingredients

    http://www.laurens-kitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/img-3191a.jpg
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dry black beans
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 pound Italian sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a 4 quart saucepan, combine beans, garlic, bay leaf, allspice, broth and 5 1/2 cups water. Cook, partially covered, until beans are tender, about 50 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
  2. In a blender puree 1 cup cooked beans with 1 cup cooking liquid, and return to pan.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together tomato paste and 1 tablespoon water; stir into beans with sausage and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer soup, covered, for 15 minutes. Soup may be prepared up to this point 3 days ahead.
  4. While soup is simmering, peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Steam until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir potatoes, 3 chopped scallions, and salt and pepper to taste into soup. Serve soup garnished with scallion greens.

White Bean

White Bean, Spinach, and Barley Stew

Ingredients

    http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/images/white-bean-garlic.jpg
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 3/4 cup small fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Bring the barley and water to a boil in a pot. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the onion and garlic until tender. Season with rosemary. Mix the mushrooms, yellow bell pepper, and wine into the pot, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked barley, beans, tomatoes, and spinach. Season with red pepper flakes. Continue cooking 10 minutes, or until spinach is wilted.
  3.  
  4. Nutritional Information
    White Bean, Spinach, and Barley Stew
    Servings Per Recipe: 6
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories: 256
  5. Total Fat: 1.7g
  6. Cholesterol: 0mg
  7. Sodium: 127mg
  8. Total Carbs: 51.3g
  9. Dietary Fiber: 9g
  10. Protein: 9.4g

 

Eating Processed

Eating Processed Food Leads to Depression

http://www.ra4food.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/junk-food.jpg(NaturalNews) People who eat more processed foods are significantly more likely to suffer from depression, while those who eat more fruits and vegetables are significantly less likely to be depressed, according to a study conducted by researchers from University College London and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

"This study adds to an existing body of solid research that shows the strong links between what we eat and our mental health," said Andrew McCulloch of the Mental Health Foundation. "The U.K. population is consuming less nutritious, fresh produce and more saturated fats and sugars. We are particularly concerned about those who cannot access fresh produce easily or live in areas where there are a high number of fast food

Researchers collected diet and lifestyle data on 3,500 middle-aged civil servants, then ranked them according to two different measures: how much of their diet was composed of whole foods, and how much was composed of processed foods. Whole foods included fruits and vegetables, while processed foods included high-fat dairy, processed meats, refined grains, fried food and sweetened desserts.

After adjusting for other depression risk factors such as age, education, gender, physical activity and smoking, the researchers found that those who consumed the most processed foods were 58 percent more likely to suffer from depression five years later than those who ate the least. Similarly, those who ate the most whole foods were 26 percent less likely to suffer from depression in five years than those who ate the least.

Because the study was based on correlation, the researchers could not prove that poor diet was actually a cause of depression rather than the other way around. However, the researchers found no association between a history of depression and a poor diet.

"Physical and mental health are closely related, so we should not be too surprised by these results, but we hope there will be further research which may help us to understand more fully the relationship between diet and mental health," said Margaret Edwards of the mental health nonprofit SANE.
restaurants and takeaways."


 

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