Apr 7

Because I'm tired of sifting thru recipes written on scraps of paper when I'm in the mood for a good Margarita.

This recipe was lifted from somewhere on the web - it is not mine, and I don't recall having modified it from the original in any way.

  • 1 1/2 cups tequila
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur (Grand Marnier)
  • 1 can frozen lemonade
  • 1/3 can beer - light beer, the least hoppy you can find (Bud Light, Tecate)
  • 1 lemon - juiced
  • 1 lime - juiced
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • Water to taste and ice


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Jun 3

I threw this together on a whim with odds and ends that I had lying around the kitchen.  Everyone had good things to say about it, so figured I'd capture it here.  This quick and easy (and healthy) stew took all of about 10 minutes to prep, and was ready to serve inside of 30.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans black eyed peas drained
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 cups prepared chicken chopped (1)
  • 1/2 large sweet yellow onion sliced
  • 1/4 cup celery chopped
  • 1 red jalapeno pepper diced
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Directions:

Heat olive oil, add sliced onion and cook covered while preparing other ingredients.  Add celery, jalapeno pepper, and garlic, cover and cook until onion and celery are softened.  Add all other ingredients, cover and bring just to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve hot and top with shredded white Mexican cheese blend and/or cubed avocado.

(1) I've really enjoyed keeping the Tyson Grilled & Ready frozen cooked chicken products on-hand.  Properly frozen, they maintain great shelf life and are very handy in a pinch - used in all sorts of dishes from soups and stews, to pastas and tacos, they greatly cut down on prep work and food waste due to spoilage.  Imparting a smokey grilled flavor, use of the product adds another dimension of flaovr to the dishes it is used in.  For this recipe, another alternative includes use of left over rotisserie chicken.

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Jun 19

This is my simple (and fast) roasted potatoes recipe.  There is nothing too special here - just a hearty side dish that compliments most beef, fish, and even some chicken and pork recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of small red and/or new potatoes - cleaned
  • 3Tbs Vegetable oil
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Dried parsley
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Several threads of saffron

Directions:

  • Microwave cleaned potatoes for two to three minutes to soften.  Do not over cook, let the potatoes become hot to the touch, but still very firm.
  • Heat vegetable oil over medium to medium-high heat in a large roasting pan.  Use vegetable oil to avoid smoking (and subsequent burned flavor).  Canola can be substituted.
  • Lightly crush garlic so that the clove remains whole.  Add to warming oil, but take care not to allow it to burn - reduce heat if needed.  This will add a subtle garlic flavor without over-powering the dish.
  • Add salt, pepper, parsley, basil, saffron, and a lesser amount of oregano to taste.  Combine to distribute herbs/spices evenly across the pan.
  • Halve all potatoes and carefully add to heated oil.
  • Cover the pan and flip contents.  This should be done regularly and the potatoes checked periodically to ensure that they are not sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Continue until the potatoes are softened to taste.

Tip: Allow potatoes to rest in the pan long enough to brown, flip, and repeat.  The randomly browned surfaces will add complexity to the flavor of the dish, as well as fantastic color.

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Jun 14

I've taken a number of fried rice recipes from AllRecipes as a basis, and adapted my own from them.  This is a low-effort recipe that can be prepared in under ten minutes (excluding the time needed to cook a proper batch of rice).  The flavor is lighter than the traditional dish served at the average Chinese restaurant - this could be adjusted via seasoning if desired.  I find the cleaner overtones lend to distinction in the individual ingredients - you can actually taste them, which I find refreshing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white long grain rice - I advise against instant if possible
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • 1Tbsp chopped carrot
  • 1Tbsp frozen peas
  • 2Tbsp chopped ham
  • 1 1/2Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 1 dash chili powder
  • 1 dash garlic powder
  • 1Tbsp soy sauce

Directions:

  • In a well-oiled (or non-stick) pan, lightly fry beaten egg omelette-style until just cooked through.  Remove from pan and let cool.
  • Using the same pan, heat oil over medium to medium-high heat. 
  • Add chopped carrot and cook two minutes. 
  • Add ham and cook for two minutes.
  • Add peas and cook for one minute.
  • Add all spices, onion, and soy sauce, combine, then add cooked rice and gently combine all ingredients.  Cook for four minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Julienne egg (tip: roll the egg, use a sharp knife, and cut slowly), and gently combine with the rice.  Cook for one minute.

Cooking times at each stage can vary - I tried to make it fit my claim of 10 minutes.  Allowing the rice and vegetables to cook a little longer before adding the egg would not be a bad thing.  Enjoy!

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Jun 10

Finally, I've just mixed a Pina Colada that I feel is worth writing about (before I forget the recipe).  This is far from traditional using only a few simple ingredients (ice, rum, coconut cream, pineapple).  I went through a fairly lengthy experiment phase, spanning at least two weeks, using only the four traditional ingredients never to land on what I felt like was a true-to-memory Pina Colada.  It should be noted that my comparatives would primarily be those found in and around Waikiki - so not exactly the traditional Puerto Rican version in the first place, but rather a sweeter, more Americanized version.

And now the recipe:

  • 2C Crushed Ice
  • 1/3C Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum
  • 2Tbsp Coconut Cream
  • 1/2tsp Coconut Powder
  • 1/2Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2Tbsp Whole Milk
  • 3Tbsp Crushed Unsweetened Pineapple

Blend thoroughly and enjoy. Cool

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Apr 20

I've been thinking on the topic of Banana Daiquiris recently.  A good warm weather cocktail featuring the cheap, accessible, embodiment of quick energy - The Banana.

While flavor-distinct, the banana is neutral enough that it has a hard time standing alone - at least says my palate.  So, the challenge - how to enrich the banana daiquiri without affecting its identity, do so in the simplest possible way, and avoid investment in liqueurs which have low utility and/or which I don't already possess.  Intuition led me straight away to the possibilities of Frangelico hazelnut liqueur.  Hazelnut aromas and flavor compliment banana nicely (they are actually rather similar), and is further enhanced by the undertones of cocoa evident in Frangelico.  The key is moderation so as not to overpower the delicate banana flavor.

The recipe:

  • 1 Cup crushed ice.
  • 2 oz light Rum
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Frangelico
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 ripe banana

Blend well until very smooth.  Garnish with a cherry and a teaspoon or two of Maraschino juice.

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Apr 15

A simple, and very tasty Rum and Coke recipe...

In a glass over crushed ice, mix together:

  • 1.5 to 2 ozs good quality Light Rum
  • 1 tsp Orange Liqueur (Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, etc)
  • A splash of Angostura Bitters
  • 6 ozs Coke

Enjoy Smile

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Mar 27

Imagine my amazement and genuine elation over discovering the long-missed, but not forgotten refreshing goodness of Orange Julius when I spotted their timely reappearance at the Dairy Queen in the Walnut Creek, CA Broadway Plaza shopping center off of S. Main.  Though not a stand-alone Orange Julius as it should be, the DQ here does serve up the grand daddy of super-sugary faux "natural/fuit juice/energy" drinks a-la Jamba Juice.  Has it always been this way, and I simply never noticed before?  A post on Yelp would suggest "Yes", which suggests that I don't get out very often Embarassed

Anyway, the Orange Julius recipe - since I can hardly afford $5 for a cup of crushed ice, orange juice, and few "secret" ingredients, I went on the hunt for the home brew rendition of said recipe.  Having reviewed several recipes, each with various additional tweaks and tips, I've landed on the following:

  • 1 Cup Water (as cold as you can get it)
  • 6 oz Frozen Pulp-Free Orange Juice Concentrate (1/2 of a normal sized can)
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 (Heaping) Tsp Coconut Powder (not shredded, powdered...look in your local Asian market)
  • 12 Ice Cubes (12 if your automatic ice maker spits out tiny little ice cubes like mine)
  • 1/2 Tsp Malt (available in your super market in the powdered drink section, such as Carnation brand)

Combine all ingredients and blend very well until it reaches a smooth slushy consistency.

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Jan 12

I surprised myself with a tasty, more hearty quiche than I thought imaginable - and all done in a toaster over!

This is a take-off on the "Garbage Quiche" recipe found at AllRecipes.com.  With a few minor modifications, this was a real winner, and I don't normally go out of my way for quiche (not exactly a huge fan of it).  The recipe calls for a double batch - I made a single (9" round) batch only:

  • 1 - 9" frozen pie crust, thawed and baked in the toaster over at 400F for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • 5 - rounds of Canadian bacon cubed (so to speak...cut them into small squares).
  • 4oz - Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 - small head chopped broccoli
  • 2 - green onions chopped
  • 1 - roma tomato chopped
  • 3 - eggs beaten
  • 1/2C - unsalted sweet cream butter
  • 1/2C - whole milk
  • 1/8tsp - nutmeg
  • 1/8tsp - cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Melt butter and combine with whole milk - cool to room temp.
  • Spread Canadian bacon in bottom of baked pie crust, 1/2 of the shredded cheese, broccoli, onions and tomato, then top with remainder of shredded cheese.
  • Combine eggs with butter/milk mixture (slowly if it is still warm so that the eggs don't cook).  Add nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper.
  • Pour egg mixture over and into filled pie crust.
  • Bake in toaster oven on a metal sheet at 400F for approx 5 to 8 minutes or until the top becomes golden brown.
  • Reduce heat to 325F, wrap edges of pie crust with aluminum foil to avoid burning, and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Remove from toaster over and let stand for approx 5 minutes before cutting.
  • Serve with sour cream and your favorite hot sauce.

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Jan 3

A few days late, but hoping I didn't miss the luck-train...black eyed peas were to have been prepared and eaten on the 1st, as per Southern tradition.  Well, we hope for the best given what we've got.

The ingredients:

  • Black eyed peas - 1lb, dried.
  • One 14.5 oz can of chicken stock.
  • Two strips of thick cut bacon - thicker is better.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Quarter of a yellow onion.
  • One large clove of crushed garlic.

Incredibly easy directions:

  • Boil the dried peas in a large pot of water for approx 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.
  • Wrapped in several paper towels, microwave bacon for about 1 minute - should be just shy of done, and not at all crispy.  Finely slice.
  • In the same pot, bring the chicken stock just to a boil, add onion, garlic, bacon, salt and pepper.
  • Add peas and approximately two cups of water or enough to cover the peas.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes.

You may also wish to add a bay leaf, a small amount of chopped peppers or ceyanne, chopped spinach, and/or six to twelve ounces of beer - perhaps even some chopped tomatoes, okra, or maybe even some prepared nopales (prickly pear cactus pads).  There is almost no way to mess up this recipe outside of undercooking the peas.  Over-cooking would only make a creamier soup - cooking to traditional doneness would give a soft, but distinct pea with mostly opaque broth.

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Dec 5

For safe keeping, the quick and simple chili verde recipe that I like the most - adapted from the one found at SimplyRecipes.com.

I generally prepare this dish with leftover pork roast or pork loin.

Ingredients:

  • Pork roast or loin (1 lb cubed)
  • 1 lb Tomatillas
  • 1 Anaheim pepper
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper
  • Cilantro
  • 1 Sweet yellow onion
  • 3 Cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 Cup chicken stock

Directions:

  • Halve a pound of tomatillas and both peppers.  Arrange all on a foil covered baking sheet with the garlic (no need to peel).  Broil on high for 8 to 10 minutes or until the tomatillas and peppers are nicely browned.
  • Slice the onion and begin softening in a large pan, add cubed pork and heat through.
  • Add in one cup of chicken stock and salt to taste.
  • In a blender, carefully pulse the roasted tomatillas, peppers, garlic, cilantro (to taste), and half-cup of remaining chicken stock to a puree.
  • Combine the puree with the onions and pork - reduce over medium-high heat until nicely thickened.
  • A small amount of ground cloves adds complexity, but is not necessary.

This is not as authentic as some chili verde, but does provide for a very fresh and satisfying burrito or taco filling, is exceptionally easy to prepare, and can be done in less than an hour in a pinch, and if the meat is pre-cooked.

Enjoy!

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Dec 1

About once a year, there comes a hankering for that which defines the season in rich, nutty, velvety nitrogen-enriched goodness.  Guinness...


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Sep 25

I've really enjoyed the Toad Hollow Chardonnay lately.  This is a rarity in California Chards in that it is unoaked, instead spending 9 months in stainless tanks so as not to become so big and buttery as most local Chards tend towards.  This makes for a great Summertime / warm-weather wine with a little more body and character than your typical S Blanc. 

I did notice on the Toad Hollow web site that the 2008 vintage appears to be coming to market with a screw cap - true to form for an unoaked wine, I don't personally have a problem with this, but secretly, I wish they had decided to stick with a cork as is the case with the 2007 vintage that I've been buying recently.

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Aug 28

We've been sampling the Coppola wines (Diamond Collection) line-up lately - the Cab, Zin, Pinot, Chard and S. Blanc.  We started with the Cab and found it very drinkable, even at its young age - we've since purchased the same vintage several times and continue to find it a very capable, affordable, and satisfying wine.  We sampled the Chard next - I appreciate that it is not the typical California Chard, having spent far too much time in Oak, and with an over-abundance of lacticity.  Rather, the Coppola Chard is a little crisper, though not quite as fruit-forward as I had maybe hoped (finding a U.S. Chard that meets these characteristics is surprisingly tough).

The Coppola Pinot is fine...not a knock-your-socks-off memorable Pinot experience as the really good ones are, but still quite nice and will be strongly considered for future purchase.  The Coppola Zin is very satisfying - nice fruit, nice color, easy drinking and a pleasurable drink, the Coppola Zin is the most-frequently-restocked in the linkup thus far.  Finally, the Coppola S Blanc - crisp and clean, it is right in the zone for a S Blanc.  I don't find a lot of notable variation in S Blanc, so difficult to judge except for the outliers which rate really good, or really bad - so - being "in the zone" is perfectly acceptable in my book.

I do plan to sample both the Petite Sirah and Claret.  I expect the Claret to be very enjoyable, and hope to catch the Cab Franc if an adequate percentage is represented.  I'm a big fan of a really good Pitite Sirah - next to a 100% Cab Franc, I would go far out of my way for a solid Petite Sirah.  I don't expect Coppola's to disappoint give the experience with their other reds.

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Jul 11

Capturing here for safe-keeping, a popular (and very simple) cocktail in Scotland with a unique, clean and light flavor using only vodka, tonic, lime, Angostura bitters, and ice.

  • 2oz (double-shot) vodka
  • 5oz tonic water
  • 1/2 lime
  • 4 to 5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • ice cubes

Directions:

  • Add 4 to 5 dashes of bitters into a martini/cocktail glass and swirl to thoroughly coat inside of glass. 
  • Shake vodka over ice with tonic water and juice from 1/2 a lime. 
  • Strain into martini/cocktail glass. 
  • Garnish with lime peel.

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(Page 1 of 2, totaling 21 entries)


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