~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Friday, October 31, 2008

Homemade Corn Tortillas

Homemade Corn Tortillas.... I love making my own corn tortillas with out the preservatives that is usually added to the store bought ones. They are really easy to do especially if you have a tortilla press. I don't.... so it might take a bit longer, but then you get an authentic "rustic" look to them! Really, all you need is a bag of MASA flour and you are good to go. Hope yo enjoy...

Note: For about 16 corn tortillas follow instructions on the bag as follows or as follows~

Tip:... you can add some chopped cilantro and a bit of lime juice to the dough for an even better flavor

You will need:

2 cups masa flour (loose packed)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups water


1. In a bowl mix ingredients until the dough comes together about 2 minutesIf the dough feels dry add a TBS of water at a time. You want to knead it a bit... for a minute or so. It will be the consistency of sandy play dough.

2. Divide dough into 16 parts. Cover with a damp towel.
3. Form each part into a smooth ball. If you have a tortilla press, line it with 2 sheets of plastic wrap and place each ball between the plastic wrap and press until tortilla measures about 5 to 6 in in diameter. Peel plastic wrap CAREFULLY. If it tears just press together again to seal. If you are careful, it just peels off.
~If you don't have a tortilla press do what I do and roll the balls between 2 sheets of plastic wrap using a rolling pin.
4. Preheat a skillet on med -high. You may want to heat 2 skillets if you can work quickly like I did to speed the process up a bit. Cook tortillas one a at a time for 50 seconds or so .
5. Turn on second side and cook for an additional 50 secs or so.
6. Cover tortillas...I usually cover with plastic wrap so that the heat steams them up a bit and they do not dry out. Use in your favorite dish...enchiladas tacos, etc.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Avocado Salsa Verde

Avocado Salsa Verde.... A quick salsa using avocados. This salsa is more smoother in taste than the simple salsa verde I posted before. I think it goes very well with tacos (shrimp, beef or chicken). You can split the amount of salsa verde when making the 2 cup batch and try this version as well for a variety. All you need is some avocado. Hope you enjoy...

You will need:
1 avocado chopped
salt to taste

1. Puree everything in a blender for a few seconds. If you want a more chunkier version... add only 1/2 of avocado when processing and stir in the rest at the end. Season again if need be.

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde... a versatile salsa that can be used in a variety of sauces or just the way it is. I originally got this recipe from Tyler Florence...Food Network. It is easy and quick to do. An alternate sauce for Mexican dishes...soft tacos, enchiladas, nachos etc. The trick to it is to season it well and add some water to thin it out a bit as it can get thicker when it is chilled. Hop eyou enjoy...

Note: This is the basic recipe and yields about 2 cups.

You will need:

4 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 jalapenos, stemmed
1/2 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 garlic clove, peeled
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds (I omitted)

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil; add the tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic.
2. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatillos are soft.
3. Drain and cool slightly, then put them in a blender.
4. Add the cilantro, lime juice, and cumin. Puree for a few seconds to blend, and then pour in about a 1/4 cup of water and process to a coarse puree; taste and season with a generous(this is key!) pinch of salt.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dilled Peas with Chicken...Mancare de Mazare

Dilled Peas with Chicken....My version of a classic dish we grew up with. I like doing this dish from time to time. It is a welcome change from the usual meals . Since, I had some leftover polenta, I thought I would do this dish to accompany it. This is my version, hope you enjoy...

You will need:
3 chicken thighs diced (I also use chicken breast)
1 lg shallot minced
1 TBS olive oil
1 lg clove of garlic
1-2 TBS fresh dill
1 TBS tomato paste
1TBS flour
2 cups frozen peas
1 1/2-2 cups water (you can use some white wine for some of the water)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp lemon juice

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet on high for about a minute.
2. Add chicken and cook on one side till browned turn and sear the other side until chicken is no longer pink.
3. Remove form pan. There will be some fond in the skillet.
4. Working on med low heat add shallots and a TBS of water to release the browned bits. Cook shallots till soft.
5. Add flour and cook for about a minute. Add paste and incorporate.
6. Using a whisk, add water slowly to make a sauce. You can add wine here if you wish. Add reserved chicken and garlic.
7. Cook in sauce for about 3-5 minutes. Add frozen peas and cook an additional 5 -7 minutes.
8. Add dill and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning. If sauce is too thick add more water. If sauce is too thin cook a bit more until it thickens.
9. With a round biscuit cutter cut a circle from the polenta and spoon some dilled peas and chicken over it. Enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Polenta... We grew up on this! A very versatile recipe to use when you want something comforting. It really warms you up.... You can serve polenta with a variety of dishes. A good one is a tomato based sauce....chicken cacciatore. Somehow the tomato flavor goes extremely well with the polenta. A sausage dish goes great with it as well.....mmm, also good with sauteed mushrooms. We also eat it with feta cheese, butter and hard boiled eggs. Really, you can eat it any way you like it. There are lots of versions of doing a classic polenta, but this is how I do it. Hope you enjoy...

You will need:

4 cups cold water
1 cup corn meal
salt to taste
butter/cheese, optional

1. In a saucepan add water , cornmeal and salt. Turn on heat to high. Stir with whisk to get rid of any lumps.
2. When mixture comes to a boil, cover with lid. Turn heat on med low.
3. Uncover every 3-5 minutes and stir polenta. I usually use the lid to protect myself from any splatters that may occur in the beginning stage.
4. Cover again and repeat lifting the lid and stirring for about 20 minutes. Splattering should subside as it gets thicker.
5. If you want the polenta to be a bit more hard and not as soft keep cooking for a bit longer until it thickens . Take off heat and stir in butter and/or cheese.... or omit like I did.

Vidalia Onion Dip (Lower fat)

Vidalia Onion Dip.... Just a simple recipe for a quick dip.Something different.... An alternative to the usual dips that are heavier and loaded with cheese and then baked. The only real preparation is cooking the onions. It is great served with pita chips or toasted bagel bites. In my case, I used thinly sliced bagel slices, toasted them and cut them into wedges.
These are the proportions I used. But, really you can play around with the amounts to suit your taste. Hope yo enjoy...

  • 1 vidalia onion (diced fine) ....really, think you can use any onion here
  • 1 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS finely chopped chives
  • 2 TBS softened cream cheese
  • 1-2 tsp granulated onion powder (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onions; season with salt and pepper.
2. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Do not over brown... lower heat if necessary. Let cool.
3. In a bowl, combine onions, sour cream, cream cheese, vinegar, onion powder and chives; adjust seasoning.
4. Chill dip until slightly thickened, about 1 hour; or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Serve with potato chips, crackers or bagel chips.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chocolate Plastic (fondant) for fun.

Chocolate Plastic (fondant) for fun!.... A really neat recipe! You will have a lot of fun doing this! I came across this recipe at Tastespotting. The recipe can also be found at allrecipes.com . But it makes a bigger batch. I didn't need so much. So, I used a smaller amount... I was just curious to see if it comes out and if I can duplicate the pumpkin and rose that I saw on tastespotting. This dough is perfect for cake decorations...of course you can make all sorts of designs if you are artistic. You can use small leaf cutters, stamps etc. You can keep this in an airtight container for later use. Here is how I did mine. Hope you enjoy...

Note: Wonder what the dough tastes like?...similar to a tootsie roll!

You will need:
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup light/dark corn syrup (I used dark)
  • cocoa for dusting

1. First line a 13 x9 pan with plastic wrap.

2. In a small saucepan (they suggest using a double boiler...I found out that melting it on low in a regular saucepan was ok) on low heat melt chips.

3. Remove from heat, and add corn syrup.

4. Stir until well combined. You will notice it will get stiffer and pull from the sides. Spread thinly in pan and cover with plastic wrap.

5. Let cool for 2 hours or overnight. Of course, I didn't have patience so I put mine in the fridge. It worked just fine. If you leave it for too long it will harden but, that is ok... you can just knead it a bit and it will become pliable. Don't overwork it as it will become too sticky. Dust with cocoa powder if you are using a rolling pin or if it starts to stick to the surface. I left mine on the plastic wrap and peeled it off.

6. Pinch off a small piece of dough and form into a ball.

7. Using a toothpick, make indentations on ball to make it look like a pumpkin. Roll another small piece into a string to form the stem.

8. Using a toothpick make a hole on top of pumpkin halfway through. Use toothpick to direct the stem inside.

9. Make leaf and attach to the pumpkin. Ok, it isn't a pumpkin leaf but close enough!:)

10. There you have it... simple enough! Now on to the rose... a bit more challenging. It isn't that hard and you get better with practice!

For the rose:
1. Using a small piece of dough shape into ball and for an elongated end.

2. That will be where you attach your leaves. If you have a 1 inch round cutter it will be perfect to make the leaves. If you don't like me....use a stainless steel 1 tsp measuring piece(if it is round). Otherwise just use a knife and cut small rounds through the dough. The dough needs to be rolled out thin about 1/8 inch. Take circle and press between plastic wrap with a rolling pin to thin out the top part of the circle( don't overdo it or it will get too soft). You may want to refrigerate the leaves so they won't get too soft on you.

Attach to the elongated side of the ball and overlap leaves.

If you want your rose to be more closed just attach closer to the elongated edge. Continue adding and overlapping the leaves. Keep the first couple of rows of leaves straight up and curl a bit the last few leaves.

There you have it... a beautiful rose to decorate your cake with! Mine definitely wasn't perfect !...Enjoy having fun with this dough.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stuffed Chicken Leg...Gordon Ramsay

Stuffed chicken leg....Gordon Ramsay. I recently came across this recipe by the famous Gordon Ramsay. Thinking that he has a restaurant in London that has achieved 3 Michelin stars, I ventured out to try it....it had to be good! Albeit, I did change it up a bit again. I did it on the spur of the moment and did not have all the ingredients he used. So I improvised ... But, I liked it a lot even the way I did it.
It does really make an elegant presentation...and who would have thought that a plain old chicken leg would turn into something fabulous! I will show you how I did mine, but feel free to do his version...I am sure it tastes much better with the bacon! Hope you enjoy...

Note: There is a pretty cool video that shows you how to do it. Here is the link to see it done step-by-step by Gordon Ramsay... Stuffed Chicken Leg

For my recipe you will need:
  • 2 chicken legs (thigh and leg attached)
  • 2 handfuls of ground pork (I used chicken)
  • 1 handful of pistachio nuts(I used pecans)
  • Chopped parsley (I used fresh cilantro/ dried dill)
  • 1/4 cup bacon bits
  • 1/4 dried onion flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
1. First de-bone chicken leg making sure you leave the skin intact and the meat without tearing or cutting into it. You want to have a whole piece. Season well with salt and pepper.
2. In a separate bowl, add ground meat with, herbs, nuts, bacon bits, and onion flakes. Add salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
3. Take a handful of mixed ground meat and place in the center of the chicken leg. Roll to encase the ground filling.
4. On an aluminum sheet, sprinkle a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Add rolled up chicken and roll with the aluminum sheet...making sure it is tight. Set aside.
5. In a large pot bring to a boil 4 quarts of water lower heat to simmer and place chicken rolls in the water to poach for 25-30 minutes.
6. Take chicken rolls out of the water and place in the refrigerator to cool for 20 -30 minutes. Remove from fridge and peel away the aluminum sheets. You should have a neatly rolled up chicken leg without falling apart.
7. Heat a skillet on medium heat, drizzle some olive oil and brown chicken on all sides, turning every so often.

8. Preheat your oven to 400 deg,
9. Place chicken in oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes (depending how long you browned them on top of the stove). This was my version....I noticed that when I placed it in the toaster oven it crisped up the skin even more and it ensured that the chicken was cooked thoroughly.
10. Remove from oven and let rest. In the frying pan, there will be some browned bits called the"fond"(if using a non-stick you won't get too many browned bits)... you may want to make a sauce with it. Using some wine and chicken stock to deglaze. Reduce the sauce.
11. Cut chicken at a bias and pour some sauce over it and enjoy with some good old fashioned mashed potatoes!