Saturday, May 30, 2009

A little housekeeping

You'll notice I've changed the design of this blog, and it may change a few more times before I settle on something. The black worked during the winter, but with the beginning of summer just around the corner, I thought I'd lighten up this space.

I'll also eventually be changing my name -- no more "tour guide" just "Jenn" as I want to retain the tour guiding thing for actual tour guide business (not that there is much of it in this economy, but eventually it has to get better). I'll have to figure something out so when I go visit blogs and leave comments everyone won't wonder "who's the new girl?"

Let me know what you think of the changes!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

CEiMB: A funny thing happened on the way to Crispy Fish Fingers

I've been a little distracted lately. Okay, a lot distracted. Just came off of a huge project at work, and now I'm working on a huge project for next month -- I'm throwing a party for my Mom's 80th birthday. We're looking at about 100 people attending, many of them out-of-town relatives, and I'm trying to get all my ducks in a row for that. Just got tables and linens rented, now working on how to get the flowers to the location on time. You know the drill.

I tell you all this as a explanation for my "oops!" this week. I saw the "Crispy." I saw the "Fingers." What I missed was the "Fish." Somehow I got it in my head that we were doing the "Crispy Chicken Fingers" (page 200). Like I said -- Oops!

So enjoy the pictures, and I'll include the recipe below. Good to know the group hasn't made this one yet so I feel like I'm blazing a new trail rather than doing a rewind (it may not seem like a big consolation to you, but when blazing a new trail to stupidity it's nice to know the scenery will be new to everyone else).

These were tasty and super easy. The chicken was very moist and the texture was fried chicken-like, but the taste wasn't. But with the addition of the Honey-Mustard Sauce, it was really yummy!

Crispy Chicken Fingers
from The Food You Crave (p. 200)

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut across into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
Cooking Spray
4 cups whole-grain corn cereal such as Corn Chex or corn flakes (I used regular corn flakes)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Honey-Mustard Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the chicken and buttermilk in a shallow dish, turning the chicken to coat it with the buttermilk. Cover and chill for 15 minutes. Coat two baking sheets with cooking spray.

Put the cereal in a sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a shallow dish and season them with the salt and pepper. Dip each piece of chicken in the cereal to fully coat and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Leave the chicken on the baking sheets to cool slightly. It will become crispier.

Serve with the mustard sauce on the side.

Honey-Mustard Sauce

1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in the honey.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TWD: Chipster-Topped Brownies

Every once in awhile one of Dorie's recipes will break your heart, and for me, this was the one. I was rather ambivilant about the recipe -- chocolate chip cookie dough on top of brownies seems a little excessive. It's the "one of a good thing means 5 will be better" kind of thinking that is the root cause of much that is wrong in modern times. But I was willing to give this recipe a shot. I love chocolate chip cookies. I love brownies. How could this go wrong?

It went wrong in one way - not getting cooked enough. When I came out to the kitchen the next morning and saw the crater in the middle of the pan, my heart sunk (just like this recipe!). Although I cooked it for the required amount of time, and did the test per Dorie's instructions, the middle was not cooked enough. The edges were cooked a little too much. If I were to make this again I'd make it in two smaller pans rather than in one large one.

I followed the directions and everything went great. I did use the nuts (stunningly I had just enough on hand), and had no problem getting the cookie dough on top of the brownie layer. The brownie layer seemed to set up nicely while putting the dough together, and I didn't have the problems there that some seemed to comment on in the P&Qs this week.

Since I planned on bringing these to work for an occassion, I tried to save the middle pieces by sending them back to the oven for a short time. Crazy, I know, but desparate times require desparate measures (it was a whole lot of chocolate and butter to just go to waste. I had to try something!). After 6-7 minutes in a 350 degree oven......well.......see for yourself.........



Despite the trouble and heartbreak, these were very tasty and my co-workers gobbled them up. Sadly there were only a few that were just right rather than too soft or too dry (perhaps I'll call these the Goldilocks bars - I kind of like that!).

The recipe can be found at Supplicious and was picked by Beth. I always feel bad when I make something that doesn't turn out -- I don't want the one who picked to think they picked a dud! So Beth, although it was a mixed result, the part that was edible was really tasty (okay -- even the melty version above, super tasty!).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

CEiMB: Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth

This recipe had elements I love (coconut) and elements I'm not a big fan of (fish, curry). I'm a little disturbed by my recent trend of "I'm not a big fan of......" in this blog, but on the other hand, I've definitely been pushing my culinary envelope this week.

I like shell fish much more than "real" fish, but if forced to have "real" fish halibut is one that I will pick. Curry isn't something I've had a lot of experience with, and only like if coconut milk is involved to tone down the taste and the heat. That said I had a good feeling about this pick, and was pretty excited to give it a try.

This was pretty easy to put together. I must confess I cheated by using a pre-cooked brown rice from Trader Joe's (at least it was organic!). The spinach I did fresh, and I used curry powder rather than the red curry paste. The curry powder I bought from the bulk area at my local Henry's so it only cost me 21 cents. I figured I wouldn't be out much if I hated it.

All the elements came together nicely and quickly, and I have to say I really liked it. Each individual element was okay, but I really liked all four elements blended together (the fish, rice, spinach and sauce). Together they were yummier than the sum of their parts.

Since I really should eat fish and brown rice more than I do, this is a sure bet to try again. Thanks to Liz over at Not So Skinny Kitchen for this week's recipe. Head over there for the recipe, or go to page 232 in "The Food You Crave" by Ellie Krieger.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TWD: Fresh Mango Bread

I can't say I've ever been a fan of the mango. I like mango mixed with other foods, especially passion fruit. Orange Passion fruit Mango is one of my favorite juice drinks, for instance. But every time I've had mango there's been a little something about it I haven't really warmed up to.

While I was cutting up the mango for this bread, I was thinking about a long lost friend of mine I've recently found thanks to Facebook (I'm up to 17 friends, pretty exciting!). AK lives in the Florida Keys and was announcing on her page a massive mango give away, posting "Mangoes! Mango bread, mango muffins, mango mousse, mango smoothies, mango chicken, sliced mango, diced mango, frozen mango, mango wine..." Mangoes in Florida must be like Avocados here in California. Lots of people have trees, when they are ripe you can't get rid of them fast enough, and everyone has lots of ways to use them. Plus people either love them or hate them. (Did I mention I'm not a fan of the mango?)

So there I am comparing mangoes with avocados (even the way you cut them is somewhat similar) when I unthinkingly put a stray piece in my mouth and ate it. And didn't hate it. In fact, I rather liked it. Since I didn't have many to spare I scrounged around for another taste just to be sure I still didn't hate it. Not bad. Perhaps I've been trying "bad" mangoes all this time. But I liked it, I really liked it!

I heeded the early reviews from the P&Q and didn't add all of the ginger, and bought two mangoes just in case they were needed, and they were. The bread came together easy enough, just very late in the evening.....well, night, really. As in "I hope the bread gets out of the oven before midnight" late. Since Dorie says it will be tastier to eat the next day, it will be perfect to bring to work tomorrow. Technically tomorrow is "the next day," though perhaps only 9 hours after it comes out of the oven.

Thanks again to all who contributed to the P&Q this week. The news on needing more than one mango was very helpful and very needed. And thanks to Kelly at Baking with the Boys for this week's selection (recipe can be found on Kelly's blog).

ed on 5/20 to add top photo of it cooled and out of the pan. Also to add that it is tasty, though the strongest flavors are the spices and not the mango or the zest. A little chopped nuts and coconut would be nice additions for a second baking.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

CEiMB: Jerk Chicken with Cool Pineapple Salsa

As you can see I've joined the Craving Ellie in My Belly crew. Since all the cool kids are in the group, I wanted to join to (by cool kids I mean Pamela and Leslie and Cathy, to name a few). The food always looks good, and the reviews the same. Plus one can not live on desserts alone (as tempting as that may be). One of my goals is to do more cooking for myself, and to be mindful of what I eat (quality of ingredients, eating whole foods, not to mention quantity), so this seems to be just the thing to be "cool" and accomplish goals. During my stress shopping last week I added "The Food You Crave" to my Amazon cart. The book arrived on Monday and I've had some fun looking through it.

I must confess when I saw "Jerk Chicken" as the first recipe I thought about skipping it and waiting until next week to start. Anything super spicy, or medium spicy, or anything that even has a hint of spicy is too much for me. My dad, who I'm very much like in so many ways, could eat a jalapeno pepper whole and not even break a sweat. I break a sweat just looking at a jalapeno, let alone a scotch bonnet (which is ten million times hotter on the Scoville scale --okay, perhaps I exaggerate -- but not by much). I was going to try a bit of jalapeno, but ended up having everything else I needed at home, and simply did not want to stop at the store to buy one ingredient that I don't like very much.

One of the things I had were gigantic organic chicken breasts from Trader Joe's. They were large enough that I just pounded out one and cut it in half, and then halved the recipe to make two servings. This was tasty enough, and I really did like the salsa that goes with it, but I'm sure something was lost in the translation by leaving out the heat. Tasty, indeed, but okay.

I'm so looking forward to exploring this book. I definitely don't need another cook book, but I love the pictures, and the fresh ingredients, and the helpful hints inside. I think this will be fun. Plus I get to be in some pretty nice company.

Too bad I joined after Jen from Notes From the Table, who picked this week's recipe, headed to my home town. I could trade her a city tour or a ride to the Zoo for a taste of all those yummy treats she made for the trip. Oh well -- next time.

Thanks for allowing me to join CEiMB!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TWD: Tartest Lemon Tart

I must say I approached this week's pick with a little hesitancy. Don't get me wrong, I like lemon and tart as much as the next girl. But the reports in this week's P&Q section indicated that this was a mighty tart tart!

This recipe gives me the opportunity to introduce the newest member of my family! Apparently I'm not only a stress eater, I'm a stress buyer as well. Last week was the busiest week ever for my company (I'm not exaggerating). In the middle of the hustle and bustle, I took my lunch break and meandered on over to Amazon, where they had a 3 cup Cuisinart food processor on sale. Every time we have a Dorie recipe that says "In a food processor....." I say "oh dang it" (well, maybe something a little stronger) and long for the day when I own one. So this little guy is perfect for my little kitchen and little ol' me. Without a moment's hesitation I clicked "add to shopping cart" and 2 clicks later it was on it's way.

My new made it's maiden voyage this weekend when I made the tart crust for both this recipe and the Chocolate Cream Tart from a few weeks back (more on that later -- made it for Mom's day and it was yummy! Mom is still talking about how good it was). Worked like a dream. Since I'm minus a blender I used this for the filling of the Lemon Tart. I made half of the filling recipe as I was only using two mini-tart pans.

The filling was easy enough, and soon enough the tart was on its way to the oven. I have some filling left over -- hopefully it won't mind an evening in an airtight container enjoying a rest in the fridge.

My only complaint is that this recipe takes a long time to make from beginning to end. I'm really happy I had the pastry dough all ready. My crankiness at the bake time is undoubtedly in direct proportion to my level of tiredness. I thought I'd just suck it up and stick it out tonight, and come home and crash tomorrow. That was before I remembered the season finale of LOST is on tomorrow night, and my Tivo is jammed (that cute little logo is bulging out and his little antennas are droopy). But I digress.....

Due to the hour this is once again a recipe where the components taste yummy, but I'll have to wait until tomorrow to know how the whole package will taste. The edges are a little dark, and I'm not sure I cooked it too long, or not long enough. I guess I'll find out in the morning. If nothing else I can think of worse choices for breakfast.

Thanks to Barb at Babette Feasts for picking this recipe. The lemon is such a nice change of pace from all the chocolate, and this looks to be tasty!

ed. added photos from the second attempt, which was much tastier, and prettier, than the first attempt. It's amazing what a little sleep can do for a girl.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

TWD: "Tiramisu" Cake

This is going to be a pretty quick post, but it's a pretty quick dessert as well. I must confess that the reason the Tiramisu is in quotes is because I'm not a fan of coffee, or any coffee flavored thing. When the Tiramisu craze hit I simply didn't get it. I'm sure if I liked coffee I would, but alas, I don't. The upside of that is I haven't given half of my earnings to Starbucks in the last decade.

I made the cake as instructed, only half the recipe to go into my 6" cake pans. I passed on the syrups. When I took a cake making class a year or so ago just about every cake (scratch that -- every cake) had some kind of liquor based syrup that went on it, so I feel like I've had plenty of experience in that area. I did add a smidge of brandy to the frosting, since it clearly needed some flavor and liquid. I didn't add enough, so a couple of drops of milk had it to the correct consistency prior to adding the whipped cream.

A few left over Nestle' chocolate chips in the middle and a few on top for decoration, and viola! A variation on a cake which is a variation on a dessert I don't like very much. Since it is late, and the cake needs to sit before consumption (I'm assuming the chocolate and the brandy need to make each other's acquaintance and become friends prior to eating) I don't know how it tastes all together. But I can say that the individual components are quite tasty. Since it's a crazy week at work, and I am a stress eater, I'm sure the cake will be gone by this time tomorrow. I'm only kind of kidding.

Many thanks to Megan over at My Baking Adventures for this week's recipe. I enjoyed practicing the cake skills I learned in the aforementioned class and seeing how far I've progressed.