Go to Home Page

march sunshine

March 9th, 2010 | 15 Comments »

March is a fickle friend, isn’t it? On my birthday in 2007, we had a blizzard that left us buried under 18″ of snow. Way back in 1991, I recall it being 67 degrees on my birthday. This year? We had temps in the 40′s, plenty of warm sunshine and slush covering the ground as we made our way out for my celebratory dinner. March, the month that supposedly comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, rarely seems to be able to make up it’s mind as to what it hands us. It’s the month where we officially hang up Winter, and turn to Spring, eyeing our wardrobe and wishing for the right weather to break out the lighter side of ourselves.

With the stretch of days drenched in gorgeous sunshine, and me fingering the short sleeve shirts in longing, there came yet another craving I haven’t known in some time, perhaps a harbinger of the changing season. It was the desire to not only shed the weight of winter clothing but the heavy and comforting draw of it’s food as well, replacing it with those that snap and crunch in their remarkable shades of green. I really wanted a salad.

Likely spurred on by the current issue of Saveur magazine, and it’s ode to the chopped salad- just in time for Spring!- I took one long glance at the Cobb Salad pictured and my mind high-fived my stomach, both in hearty agreement that it was indeed necessary to create. Right away.

The Cobb Salad was named for Robert L. Cobb, credited with inventing it at his famed Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles in 1937, and made up of chicken, bacon, avocado, blue cheese crumbles, tomato, hard cooked egg, chive, watercress, romaine and iceberg lettuces. It’s now a standard on so many menus, often in a wide array of options, most of them a far cry from the original version.

This time of year I tend to get a lot of food fatigue, and indecision about what my body is needing to eat. I’m tired of winter and it’s stews and braises, of it’s root vegetables and tubers, the lack of fresh options and choices. I want to wash the mittens, hats and scarves and then pack them away. I crave berries and peaches, bare skin and white wine. I am beginning to paw through the Spring clothes in my closet, wishing for the warmth to wear just one item, especially those bought on sale last Fall, many with price tags still attached. I think about pedicures and exposing my toes again. I yearn for the Markets to open, bearing tables of new potatoes, spring peas and the first tender bunches of spinach. The buckets of lettuce soon follow, overflowing in green, and mine for just a few dollars. Seed catalogs tempt me. I want summer foods, long warm twilights sipping rosé, a simple sheet thrown over me at night.

So the salad craving was not a surprise, nor pushed aside, even though the greens came from the store and lacked the flavor of the earth. I splurged on good Nueske’s bacon and burned some aromatic candles to freshen the house. Next time Nueske’s and I meet, it likely will be high summer, alongside crimson orbs of fresh garden tomato.

The salad served me well, filling the need for somewhat lighter fare, yet hearty enough to stick with me through the afternoon hours. The bacon doesn’t exactly make this the healthiest option, but it works for an occasional treat, and the mix of flavors just seems to work. I can’t say why the tang of blue cheese, smoky bacon, moist chicken and creamy avocado make for such a pleasing plate of flavor, maybe it’s the carnival of tastes going on at once, a culinary samba that relentlessly entertains your mouth. I sure know that I need waking up from the snow, hearty foods and sweaters, my metaphor of winter. My tastebuds seem to as well. Here’s to more salad, and increasing temperatures, all things Spring and sunshine.

Food holiday mish-mash

November 12th, 2008 | Comments Off

Officially, we’re looking at National Chicken Soup Day and National Pizza with the Works (except Anchovies) Day.

k, thanks…..bye

chicken-picture1

Oh right, sorry there Chicken, a little humor insert, but that’s the extent of what I feel for these particular days- not a lot of excitement. How can you get excited about Chicken Soup? Or pizza overloaded with too many toppings? Ho hum…

I love Chicken Soup, don’t get me wrong. Little else can soothe so universally as chicken soup, made fresh with lots of vegetables and soft dreamy noodles. It’s a well known fact that it’s good for colds and sinus infections, but whether or not it’s beneficial isn’t always the reason to indulge; eat it because it’s delicious and a simple and healthy option. Soup is such a great way to offer a meal that is low in calories and high in substance; you can add in a multitude of vegetables and easily achieve a large amount of your RDA in vegetable consumption with one meal. A little goes a long way too.

Soup is a much beloved and oft repeated meal in our house and the sky is the limit for what goes into the pot. I didn’t cook up anything new for this post, but here are some of my favorite soups ever-  Chicken Tortellini Alfredo Soup, a lively Smoky Chicken Tortilla Soup, and a rich and creamy Chili Blanco, then a completely random but delicious Chicken Corn Potato Chowder. This last one isn’t a chicken soup, but it’s wonderful anyway, and as long as we’re talking soups, you should give this Pesto Vegetable Soup a shot.

And now….Pizza.

I’m a minimalist when it comes to pizza; the less on the crust, the better I like it. I’ve had those Everything Pizza’s and it’s just too much stuff. I’m not a fan of onions on my pizza unless they are beautifully caramelized; mushrooms aren’t a favorite either. I don’t like hamburger on it, or canadian bacon, or pineapple or pickles or jalapenos or cheddar cheese or potato or beets……

All right, those last two might be considered a long shot, but the rest is not. A classic combo that I love is sausage and green pepper; I also love just pepperoni with nothing but cheese. I love chicken, tomato and green pepper, I love fresh tomato and fresh mozzarella, with capers and kalamatas. And I love vegetable pizza. But these days, with dairy being on my avoidance list, pizza has taken a backseat in my culinary repertoire and I seriously miss it. Indulge in a slice or two for me, would you??

nablopomo21

{{chicken photo courtesy of Easy Chicken Recipes}}

It is an election day, but here it's all about the food.

November 4th, 2008 | Comments Off

It’s National Chicken Day

chickenimages
and National Candy Day. Oh the possibilities.

And according to those who insist on making everything about the bizarre, it’s also Waiting for the Barbarians Day, but I don’t think you want me to talk about that in terms of food-relatedness. That would be gross.

AND, if that’s not enough- these food holidays are everywhere!- the first week in November is National Fig Week, I imagine because figs are becoming ripe and ready to devour right about now. Anybody got any?? I love a good fresh squishy tasty fig. And I even love them dried.

Let’s start at the beginning and quickly move on….I mean, seriously, write about chicken?? What can be said that hasn’t been said? What could be done with it that is fresh and new? Chicken is the most widely used domesticated fowl in the entire world, and in terms of cooking, there are those who either love or hate it. It’s everywhere you look. Yes, the ubiquitous boneless skinless breast is lean and a decent source of protein, but the ones that you can normally buy in the market are almost always twice the standard portion size, so if you even eat one of them you’re likely eating too much. They also tend towards flavorless and dull, except, as those would argue, they become a virtual tabula rasa for anything you wish to add.  Sure, yeah…..and if you aren’t careful you’ll overcook the thing and it becomes stringy white fowl flesh to choke down. But don’t get me wrong; I buy them and we use them a lot, and I can cook them to be tender, moist, flavor-filled and delicious but I think I am in the minority. I’ve heard way too many arguments against them from others, and it’s just one of those food items that comes down to personal taste. They are all like that and we all just need to deal with it. I don’t begrudge anyone’s choices.

I personally love chicken thighs. I have always been a dark chicken devotee from the time I can recall eating it, and it likely stems from attempting to struggle through an overcooked piece of white meat. But even when I finally discovered that it didn’t have to be that way, the dark meat still remained a favorite. The thighs can be very cheap, and your best bet is to learn how to de-bone them as it will save you at the check-out. Even if you don’t remove the bone prior to cooking, it’s pretty simple to slip the meat free once it’s done. These always hold up well on the grill and take on a marinade like a champion prize fighter. They are nearly impossible to wreck.

chickencows


I love this hilarious ad campaign. We aren’t big consumers of beef, much to my child’s angst, so I can’t agree more with the Chik-Fil-A cows who urge us all to ‘Eat mor chik-n’.

It’s now about Figs.

figs


I love figs- fresh, dried, in a Newton- they are perfectly wonderful food. Figs go wayyyyyy back and are considered of utmost importance in terms of being objects of worship and cultural interest in many areas of the world. They are noted as being one of the first plant species deliberately bred for agriculture in the Middle East more than 11,000 years ago. We all know what happened in the Garden with the fig leaf, and they are listed as one of the foods found in the Promised Land according to the Torah. It is one of the two sacred trees in Islam, and is pivotal in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism religions and they are a key component in many tropical rainforests providing food to many animal and bird species. They are an excellent source of fiber, potassium and calcium and have shown to offer protection against macular degeneration. Of the more than 150 varieties grown around the world, the most popular ones are the Black Mission, Calymyrna, Brown Turkey, Kadota and Adriatic, and all of them are subtley varied in terms of flavor and dramatically in color.

Then, finally- CANDY.

I’m not a huge candy eater but I do love my dark chocolate. Our trick-or-treaters got a wide selection of minis of every kind, and hands down when I told them to pick something, they grabbed for the little boxes of Junior Mints. Those disappeared the fastest.  I certainly can’t argue; my absolute favorite thing to nibble on lately has been something very similar.

squares_mint
This, to me, is the perfect marriage of chocolate and mint. Not too much of one or the other, and it’s dark chocolate so who can argue? The other perfect combination that I love is the little miniature Milky Way Midnights. Talk about perfection! One little bite of intense dark chocolate and the nougat-y caramel-y goodness of Milky Way. I made sure there were some of those in my Halloween hand-outs strictly so I could indulge. I used to LOVE candy as a kid, and recall with great fondness riding my bike to the local corner shop to peruse the candy selection with my sisters and neighborhood friends. I loved Sugar Babies, Bubs Daddy, Hot Tamales, Brown Cows and LifeSavers. I don’t need candy in my life anymore, but a bite here and there is very satisfying. I’m really glad to have gotten my candy-eating out of my system.

Happy Candy Day, Chicken Day and Fig Week!

{{information for this post was found on the California Fig Board website and The World’s Healthiest Food website. Candy image from Ghiradelli.com, cows from Chik-Fil-A}}

nablopomo21

Enchiladas

October 18th, 2006 | 5 Comments »

Enchiladas

Saute one pound of chicken strips or boneless chicken breast until browned, and most of pink is gone. Remove from pan, allow to cool slightly and chop into bite sized pieces. Add one medium chopped onion to pan and saute 5 minutes. Add two chopped bell pepper of your choice and saute 5 more minutes. Stir in one can drained (not rinsed) black beans, one can drained tomatoes, one can drained hominy and one can chopped green chilies. Cook for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Lay a tortilla in the pan and fill with about a half cup of filling. Sprinkle on about 2 tbsp. shredded cheese. Roll up tightly with the seam down. Repeat until pan is full, or you run out of tortillas or filling. (as an aside- this filling tasted wonderful on a tortilla chip, and we saved some of it for munching!) Pour enchilada sauce over top and add shredded cheese. Bake at 375d until hot and bubbly.

This would be just as good without chicken, and the vegetables can be modified to whatever you like. I have used zucchini, frozen corn and chunks of leftover squash with equally good results. It’s all about what you like.