Thursday, September 30, 2010

Deep Fried Peanut Butter Banana Balls ~ An Angry (Lovely) Dessert!

I debated posting these Deep Fried Peanut Butter Banana Balls as they're a strange (but lovely) treat that resulted out of anger and discontent! Let's just say a pork shoulder crock-pot dish (I intended on feeding my family for at least the next two days) became severely overcooked!

Before I knew the meat was inedible, I spent all morning crafting creative ways I would reinvent that pork the following night...dare I admit patting myself on the back for how wonderful it smelled simmering away in the pot...not to mention its bottom dollar price tag!

"Such a thrifty gourmet...budget conscience shopper!"

And so yes,  it was simmering....smouldering actually..... into oblivion.... into a piece of shoe leather so tough.... I wouldn't have even considered feeding it to my neighbor's annoying dog! (Oh...If any neighbors are reading - not YOUR dog - that "OTHER" dog - your dog is adorable - I love its bark - call me -)

Anyhow, while the children napped...I sat venting!  I needed to get as far away from that pig butt as I possibly could! In a tizzy (about 1 hour later) I was staring down a dish of Deep Fried Peanut Butter Banana Balls with a Sweet Panko Breading.

They were a little finicky to work with and I wasn't at all sure how they'd turn out. ..Ball shaped? Flat? A fritter perhaps? But they held up great in the 350 degree oil, maintaining their round shape and browning nicely all around. The kiddos and husband loved them!

Please expand on this recipe...serve with chocolate sauce or a spicy mango chutney! After the pork debacle, this was all I could handle!

Deep Fried Peanut Butter Banana Balls
Approximate recipe I came up with while angry...enjoy!

1 ripe banana
1 1/2 cups Smuckers Creamy All Natural Peanut Butter
3 plain graham crackers, crumbled
1 piece whole wheat bread, crusts removed ripped into tiny pieces

1 cup + panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Vegetable oil for frying (about 3 inches up side of pan)
Hot Oil thermometer Helps!

Mash together with fork first four ingredients, refrigerate at least a half an hour.  In small bowl, prepare panko, sugar  breading.

Form Peanut Butter, banana mixture into small balls (about 1 teaspoon size) it will be sticky but it's fine. Drop it into panko mixture and press coating all around. Continue until you've used all the mixture.

Heat oil to 350 degrees. Carefully drop balls in the hot oil and fry for about 1-2 minutes or until browned.

remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Eat ...or cool and then eat. Loved it cold!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon ~ The Genetically Altered Salmon Debate

Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the genetically altered salmon issue, but from what I've read, here's a cliff note explanation...

There's a company in Massachusetts, AquAdvantage Salmon, who will soon begin marketing a genetically altered Atlantic Salmon if approved by the FDA. Injecting the Salmon with a gene from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish and a growth hormone from the Chinook salmon, the fish will grow twice as fast as a traditional Atlantic salmon.

Proponents: say it will provide a sustainable source of food for our ever growing population.

Opponents: agree if one of these genetically altered fish were to escape into the natural salmon population it would have catastrophic consequences.

SOURCE: For more information read: FDA considers approving genetically modified salmon for human consumption : The Washington Post

A salmon lover at heart...I'm 99.9% certain I fall into the opponent category.  I'm interested to know your thoughts. Help anyone who reads this become more informed!

Moving on.... here's a non-genetically modified fillet of Wild Pacific Salmon I came across at our local seafood monger. After all this heavy talk...I had to keep the rest of this light! Consider doubling or even tripling the sauce...especially if you're serving with jasmine rice. Delicious!

Would make a great Halloween Party themed dish (with the black sesame seeds).... add some dabs of bright red Sriracha Sauce or Chile Oil to the plate as well! 

Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon

Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon

1 scallion, minced
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, skinned (see Tip) and cut into 4 portions
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (see Tip) (I used black sesame seeds)

Whisk scallion, soy sauce, vinegar, honey and ginger in a medium bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place salmon in a sealable plastic bag, add 3 tablespoons of the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 15 minutes. Reserve the remaining sauce.

Preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Transfer the salmon to the pan, skinned-side down. (Discard the marinade.) Broil the salmon 4 to 6 inches from the heat source until cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with the reserved sauce and garnish with sesame seeds. (I garnished with sprig of cilantro too.)

How to skin a salmon fillet: Place salmon fillet on a clean cutting board, skin-side down. Starting at the tail end, slip the blade of a long knife between the fish flesh and the skin, holding down firmly with your other hand. Gently push the blade along at a 30° angle, separating the fillet from the skin without cutting through either. (*I find sometimes after cooking, the fish fillet just removes itself from the skin.)

To toast seeds: Cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Bars ~ Competitive Pumpkin Picking!

As we turn the corner my palms get sweaty. The kids carry on in the back of the car...their aloofness to the upcoming event irritates me. Don't they understand we're building a family tradition? The crowded parking lot elicits panic...we should have gotten here early!

There's a vast sea of orange and green. There are people everywhere! They're selecting pumpkins and placing them in wagons. I'm contemplating ownership rights.  I hardly think a wagon ride constitutes a pumpkin being off the market...please. 

I check my pockets one last time ensuring I still have my cash. No credit cards accepted. (One year we learned THAT the hard way.) The air smells of gourds and dirt. Now the kids are excited!  It's exhilarating to be alive!

Along with picking up the Thanksgiving bird and the spiritual event that is selecting our tree...the annual trip to the pumpkin farm ranks up there with those outings that transform me from... "loving wife and mother of two"...into a competitive, crazed lunatic who sees "little Sally Smith"  - over there - as my greatest competition!

I morph into all of the following...

THE PESSIMIST: I'm sure the best ones are already gone!

THE OPTIMIST: But the weather has been dry, so there should be a bounty of beauties!

THE SCOUTER: What's that... a birthday party?! There must be 15 kids...that's 30 adults! Could equate to 45 pumpkins! Good God people that's pumpkin picking gluttony!

THE PLANNER: OK family...everyone split up and take a corner of the field... gather the best pumpkins you can find and meet back here!

THE CHECK AND BALANCER: Oh wait, you're 4 and you're only 2... change of plans...boys go one way, girls go the other!

THE OPTIMIZER: If we're forced to double up (because of our age) we're covering half the amount of ground - we must be twice as efficient!

THE MOTIVATORSize...shape...carving ALL matters....remain focused and stay the course!  Potty breaks are for the weak!

THE JUDGE: Out. Out. In. Really, who picked this one...Out! In. In. Ugh!

In the end we all get our favorite pumpkins. My husband's... tall, skinny, symmetrical. Mine... large, round, plump. My daughter's... medium, lopsided, long curly stem. My gourd in one hand, fist of dirt in the other. An instant nuclear pumpkin family whom we're emotionally attached to and can't wait to bring home to display on our porch... 

And there...on the porch... the chosen ones will sit.... until we cut them open to toast their seeds and roast their flavorful innards!  After all...what's Halloween....without a little gore!

(This is just the beginning of my Halloween posts...I can't control myself...I love this time of year!)
I came across these Pumpkin Pie Bars on a fellow food bloggers site. Jennifurla at Indigo's Sugar Spectrum featured them a few weeks ago and I was sold at first glance!  If you haven't already checked out her so because it's wonderful!

This fun spin on the classic pumpkin pie, is simple to make (even for a self proclaimed non-baker) and amazingly delicious! Make them this season for sure!
Pumpkin Pie Bars
via the blog Indigo's Sugar Spectrum

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2.In a medium bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Mix in flour. Fold in oats. Press into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

3.Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes, until set.

4.In a large bowl, beat eggs with white sugar. Beat in pumpkin and evaporated milk. Mix in salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Pour over baked crust.

5.Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes (mine set at 30 minutes), until set. Let cool before cutting into squares.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Morning Breakfast with the Kids ~ Eggs, Bacon and Frog Boots!

It's Sunday morning and I've been up with the little ones since 6:15. As I'm sitting here typing, Blues Clues is on TV and the boy is in his highchair wearing a diaper and frog boots. My daughter is eating Cheerios while a "Made in China" princess crown precariously sits on top of her head  - one wrong move and that thing will be swimming in milk and 100% whole grain O's!  I feel like I've been here before...looking at the exact same scenario. I'm tired...but happy.

I'm feeling bad about getting flip with Mother Nature. After all she's one multitasking, powerful woman! Who am I to demand things from her? Who am I to defy her in a public forum? We mothers need to stick together...this is hard work!  We rarely get a break. I wonder if her children insist on wearing silly shoes or items plastered with glitter? I wonder if she drinks coffee? Perhaps she fancies tea? I'm pretty sure she likes caffeine as there are the days she's especially revved!

It's a beautiful morning. I'm eating an egg and this delicious smoked, maple, uncured bacon from Whole Foods.  I may just give Mother Nature a call and hope she'll accept my apology...

The Crown

Dirty Frog Boot

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Healthy Roasted Chicken Breast with Vegetable Puree Parmigiana ~ Take that Mother Nature!

From here on out...everyday over 80 degrees I'm taking very personally. I thought Mother Nature and I had an agreement. She would end the summer of 2010 and I would throw away my favorite pink flip-flops with severely worn out soles!  I upheld my end of the bargain... so what's the deal?

Just to spite her today, I cranked the AC, threw on jeans and a sweater, lit a pumpkin scented candle, leisurely flipped through Martha's October issue and finally... I roasted the crap out of my kitchen!

That's right, it was with great acrimony that I threw into a 400 degree oven, whatever I could get my hands on!  Chicken breast, apples, leeks, peppers, onions, garlic, herbs!  If its flavor was heightened and condensed after subjected to extreme was in that roasting pan!

So...Mother Nature...if you're reading...though you may find these "Indian Summers" cute... I do not.  Behold the result of my protest (unusual as it is) and know that tomorrow (despite your 90 degree intentions) ...I'll be sipping hot cider while outside planting mums!

Healthy Roasted Chicken Breast with Vegetable Puree Parmigiana *resulted after a roasting rampage, yearning for fall weather.
Early in the day place your boneless, skinless, chicken chicken breast (1-2 lbs) in a brine of water, bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a bay leaf. (Enough liquid just to cover the chicken). Refrigerate until ready to cook. (sorry no exact measurements here but you get the drift.)

Vegetable Puree
3 small onions, halved
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 leeks, rinsed well and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 poblano peppers, seeded and cut into 4's
1 apple, peeled and halved
Olive Oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Line roasting pan with aluminum foil.  Place all ingredients in pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper, mix all around then place in single layer. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until soft and looks like this:

Add it all to a food processor and pulse until smooth (should resemble a pea puree like color and texture) At this point you could do ANYTHING with this puree! It would be awesome on crusty bread, turned into a soup, or would make an amazing pasta sauce! It's earthy, a bit spicy with a sweetness on the back end.  Here I am trying to keep it- LOW CARB!

Turn oven down to 350.

Remove chicken breast from brine and place in same pan still lined with the foil. Salt and pepper the chicken and cover with more foil. Cook in the oven approximately 25 minutes or until chicken internal temp reaches 160. Remove chicken and let rest 5-10 minutes.

Turn on broiler.

Cut chicken into strips, spoon sauce over chicken, top with cheese and place under broiler until melted (1-3 minutes) Eat as shown above or as a sandwich like my husband enjoyed here:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Lumberjack Burger

This post is a quick shout out to my brother, who amongst the mashed cauliflower and quinoa salad recipes, begs that I include some good old fashion American fare. ...But of Course!

Here's a burger he and his friends call, "The Lumberjack." He's unsure if they coined the name or if it derives from someone else - but it just may be a burger impossible for you to easily replicate. (I know...try to compose yourself.)

You see the 80/20 all beef burger is topped with two slices American cheese, onion rings and a slice of Taylor Pork Roll - that last ingredient as far as I know only available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and some places in New York. A sausage like, ham product, Taylor Pork Roll is generally pan fried or grilled and is classically found in breakfast sandwiches with ketchup, eggs and cheese.

Here (as is the case with most pork products) the Taylor Pork Roll has found its way sitting pretty atop a burger! ...It was only a matter of time!

Do you have Taylor Pork Roll where you live?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mashed Cauliflower with Garlic ~ A Low Carb, Delicious Side Dish!

I'll preface this post by saying, there's NO real substitute for homemade mashed potatoes, but this recipe I found online for Mashed Cauliflower is one worth sharing!

Using it more as a guide than sticking to its exact measurements, the recipe includes all the necessary ingredients to make the high fiber, vitamin packed, white vegetable... a creamy, indulgent treat! I was hesitant about the raw garlic, but when finely chopped and added while hot, it infuses the cauliflower with just the right amount of flavor. The cream cheese ensures a smooth texture while the butter and Parmesan perfectly round out the dish!

Served piping hot and sprinkled with chives, this Mashed Cauliflower makes the perfect side dish when you're looking to keep things low carb...and delicious!

"Mock" Garlic Mashed Potatoes ~ Mashed Cauliflower
Recipe courtesy George Stella,

1 medium head cauliflower
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon straight chicken base or bullion (may substitute 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or dry chives, for garnish
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.

Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until well done. Drain well; do not let cool and pat cooked cauliflower very dry between several layers of paper towels.

In a bowl with an immersion blender, or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, chicken base, and pepper until almost smooth.

Garnish with chives, and serve hot with pats of butter.

Hint: Try roasting the garlic and adding a little fresh rosemary for a whole new taste.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Roasted Grape Tomatoes with Garlic, Basil and Thyme

I picked up these red and yellow grape tomatoes at our local farmers market. While I could have happily eaten all of them raw, they ended up being roasted down with olive oil, garlic, basil and thyme. The finished product shown here made an unbelievable topping to our andouille sausage and creamy polenta dinner!

Spread them on bread... spoon them on top of a perfectly grilled steak... add shaved parmesan and toss them with spaghetti... However you choose to use them...these roasted tomatoes will guarantee a visually stunning, amazingly flavorful dish!
Roasted Grape Tomatoes with Garlic, Basil and Thyme

Preheat oven to 400

Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil

Place tomatoes in pan (you can leave them whole, halve them or do a combination of both)

Place whole or halved peeled garlic cloves amongst the tomatoes

Add fresh basil leaves and thyme

Drizzle well with olive oil

sprinkle with a nice pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Mix all around then place in a single layer in pan

Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove and enjoy fast because your house will smell SO GOOD you'll have uninvited guests knocking down your door!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poached Salmon Salad Sandwich, September 15, 2010...A Television Perfect Storm!

Batten down the hatches! Board up the windows! Gather the kids and hunker down! By God people it's the perfect storm!

With tonight's season finales of Master Chef and the "crem de la crem" of reality cooking shows, Bravo's Top Chef...there's simply no time for a well thought out blog post! (That's 3 hours of culinary viewing pleasure!) No time for an ode ...a one sided counseling session ...nor a hard hitting, in depth product review. ;)

Tonight... sadly... this will have to do. Dinner was a simple Poached Salmon Salad Sandwich with Arugula on a fabulously crusty organic French baguette. (Recipe to come...)

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Ode to The Shredded Pork Taco...

Shredded Pork Tacos

It was a tiny little place...
so small -you'd walk right by.
We did just that for two full years...
till something caught my eye.

It wasn't fancy, it wasn't bright...
it was a modest yellow sign.
Two Tacos - $5...
please come on in and dine!

I looked over my shoulder...
was the sign talking to me?
It was as if it was calling my name...

We had no dinner plans...
were low on funds...
but what if the tacos are lame?!

I walked inside, was engulfed in red...
a pinata hung in the corner.
I was approached by a man wearing a sombrero...
"Ms. may I please take your order?"
I'll have two of the specials...
the one from the sign...
1 chicken, 2 pork, 1 steak.

The man disappeared into the kitchen...
I hope this was not a mistake!
So I sat down and waited, I people watched...
the patrons were having a ball!
Mariachi music played in the back...
Bill Clinton hung on the wall.

He was eating a taco...
enjoying himself...
he must have stopped in here to eat?

If a President liked them...
maybe they're great...!
maybe we're in for a treat!

A few minutes later the man reappeared...
and handed me over our meal.
I gave him cash, then scurried away...
by the size of these things, what a steal!

You'll be happy to hear our food was amazing...
the pork tacos stealing the show!
I felt silly for going as long as we did...
completely out of the know!

Then came the day it was time to leave...
the city we loved so much.
We packed up our things, said our goodbyes...
but that taco - I needed to touch!
Yes, one last time, I had to have...
that pork I came to adore...
to bid it farewell, and take one to go...
and to touch that sign on the door.

They say it is better to have loved and lost...
than to have never loved at all...
but I'm pretty sure Lord Tennyson missed...
that taco sign on the wall.

***The End***
These Shredded Pork Tacos a' la Martha Stewart (though much more visually refined than those we ate in New York) come damn close to matching that pork taco flavor we miss so much! While we followed the recipe exactly (slow cooking it on the stove) other reviews say it makes an AMAZING crock pot dish!

We serve it atop two warm corn tortillas, with cilantro, chopped onion, queso fresco and radish. Unbelievably fresh, authentic tasting and delicious... this super affordable, versatile dish is sure to impress your family and friends. Thanks Martha!
Shredded Pork Tacos

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (3-pound) boneless pork shoulder, cut in half lengthwise
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes in juice
1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce (from a small can), minced (about 4 teaspoons)
16 (6-inch) toasted corn tortillas
1 cup crumbled queso fresco, feta, or goat cheese
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Crunchy Slaw with Radishes, optional

1.In a large (5-quart) heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, and bay leaves; season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Add pork, tomatoes (breaking them up) and their juice, chipotle, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until meat is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Discard bay leaves.

2.Using tongs, transfer meat to a large bowl; shred with two forks, discarding any large pieces of fat or gristle. Return meat to pan, and simmer until sauce is thick, 30 to 45 minutes more. Season, if necessary, with salt and pepper. Proceed to next step, or cover and refrigerate, up to 1 day.

3.Spoon pork and sauce into toasted tortillas, using 2 tortillas for each serving; top with queso fresco and cilantro. Serve with Crunchy Slaw with Radishes, if desired.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Simple Black Bean Soup ~ You'll make again and again!

Simple Black Bean Soup

It's cool and damp outside, football's on and I can smell the faint aroma of charcoal grills and someone burning leaves - I couldn't have staged a better backdrop for this soup if I tried! The only thing my poor unsuspecting neighbors are missing, is a wafting stream of sauteing onion, carrot and celery twisting its way out of our house straight into their windows!

As promised, here's the Black Bean Soup from last weeks football cookout. I recall the recipe appearing many years ago in Real Simple magazine. I've scoured the web in search of the actual article to no avail. No worries as I've made this simple, delicious, healthy soup so many's one of the recipes I know by heart!

Take this soup to extreme levels by offering the following accoutrement's:

Tortilla chips
Shredded cheese
Sour cream
Chopped scallion
Hot sauce
Homemade bacon bits
Slices of lime

This is one I promise you will make over and over again!

Black Bean Soup
from a lost article in Real Simple Magazine, many years ago

3 15.5 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoon olive oil*
3/4 to 1 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup celery, chopped
3/4 cup carrot, chopped
1 scant tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Juice from half a lime (use the other half for garnish)
S&P to taste (if needed)

In a large, heavy pot (with lid), heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion and saute until soft (about 3 minutes). *you could render down some bacon chunks and omit the olive oil for a less healthy soup! :)

Add cumin and stir for 1-2 minutes.

Add carrot and celery and continue sauteing for another 3-5 minutes, stirring often.

Add beans and stir entire mixture for 1 minute.

Add stock, stir and bring to a boil.

Turn down heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, remove lid and let sit a few minutes.

Add tomato paste and lime juice, then carefully pulse with a hand blender until smooth or to desired texture (A regular blender can be used too, just add soup in batches then back to the pot.)

Taste and S&P only if needed as sometimes the stock adds plenty of salt!

Serve hot!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Forget~A September 11, 2001 Memory...

I'm taking a break from the food today to share a memory. There's so much more I can say here but for now this will have to do...

We were living and working in New York City on September 11, 2001, the day the world changed. I was in my office on 45th and 6th, my husband was in his down in Union Square. As I sit here now, the weather outside my window is eerily similar to that day...beautiful, cool, crisp.

I remember that morning like it was yesterday, my husband left early for work while I hung back to finish sprucing up. Right before I walked out the door, I read aloud (to myself) my Pop-pop's prayer card I had taped to a mirror. He passed away in May 2001. I had never done that before (I mean read his prayer card out loud) but for some reason that morning I did. The words give me chills to this day:

I arise today through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me
God's wisdom to guide me
God's eye to look before me
God's ear to hear me
God's word to speak for me
God's hand to guard me
God's way to lie before me
God's shield to protect me
God's host to secure me
Against snares, against temptations, against vices and inclinations of nature.
Against everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.

I left my apartment.

I remember getting on the 6 train, it was as crowded as ever. I was standing holding onto the pole - thinking about the day ahead. The guy next to me had blood on his collar, I could see he had nicked himself shaving. I felt bad for him as I wasn't sure he knew of the blood on his shirt. I looked away. I got off the train at Grand Central Station, made my way up the escalator, through the masses and out the door. I walked west to my office, key tagged in, up the elevator to the 6th floor, said my morning hellos and took my seat - I was ready to work.

My co-worker's phone rang, "What? A plane just hit one of the towers?" We thought for sure it was a horrible accident, a small plane veering off course. The phones began ringing like crazy, the TV's went on and it was that moment we knew something was terribly wrong.

We gathered and watched, none of us knew what to do. I called my husband, my mom and my dad. My sister worked in the same building. I ran down to her floor, we left the building and headed north towards the park. Everyone was heading north. The fire trucks and rescue workers...went south.

On our way to the apartment we stopped off at Dorrian's, a restaurant and bar on the upper east side. It was packed with people not sure where to go. No orders were being taken - the staff simply brought us out food. I recall being handed a chicken sandwich while watching the President speak on TV. I remember seeing a guy walk past the window of the restaurant crying... I wondered where he was going. I didn't touch my food. People were lined up on the street cheering the emergency vehicles ...still heading south.

That's it. We went home, eventually fell asleep and awoke the next morning to a new reality. I was scared. I know it sounds like a cliche, but I honesty sat in my bed on September 12th wondering if it had all been a terrible dream. That could not have happened, right?

Turns out it did happen. I was 25 years old in 2001. It took me a quarter of a century to finally witness pure evil and at the same time...understand the true meaning of heroism.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Duck a' la Orange, Vulnerable, Hot and Delicious!

I'm bored with my writing and photos. There are the days it comes so easy...and those I'm lost in a NEW POST screen without a single word to say. Worse is looking down at a finished plate (I spent considerable time planning) only to witness an utterly disappointing, unphotographable, unbloggable dish. My instant thoughts, "...add parsley! ...add lemon! ...anything to cover its flaws!" I should know by now it's a matter of time before I find myself in bed sulking, another day gone...without a post. "But I'll lose followers... support... people will think I am lazy!" {Sigh.}

How many times have I started writing a blog get two thirds done and throw in the towel, realizing, "who cares?!" I want so badly to make every post meaningful and connect to the reader... that in pursuit of this connection... I often leave people bewildered. Is she really that emotionally attached to a piece of salmon? Wait, why is she depressed? Are those elephant bookends in a post about polenta? I fear my dear blogger friends are left wondering how and why they ever let this relationship get so far? Sadly, I can't even promise I'll change. For every post solely about a meal I make like this is almost sure to follow. {Stronger sigh.}'s a vulnerable, hot and delicious Duck a' la Orange I made last winter when this blog was merely a 'twinkle in my eye.'

Wait, is it upside down?!

Have you no shame woman?! Go fetch me some garnish!

The classic French dish appears in our home about once a year. Consider this recipe the next time you're craving elegance or a little something off the beaten path. Served with hot potatoes, haricots verts and a French Pinot Noir, it's the perfect meal to come home to after a snowy day on the slopes!

Duck a' la Orange,
From the Cooking School at La Campagne

1 4-5 lb duck
salt and pepper
1/4 cup sugar
2 T water
3 T red wine vinegar
Zest and juice from 6 oranges
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup white wine
2 T red currant jelly
1 t arrowroot
3 T. Triple Sec

Preheat oven to 425. Season duck w/S&P and place on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Cook for 1 hour, basting regularly.

Dissolve sugar in water and bring to a boil. Stir often and cook until syrup turns a light caramel color. Add vinegar and citrus juices. Boil for 1 minute and remove from heat.

Remove duck from oven and keep warm on a serving plate. Skim fat from the roasting pan and deglaze the pan with the wine. Transfer pan juices to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add jelly and caramel sauce ad return to a boil. In a small bowl blend arrowroot and Triple Sec. Add to the boiling sauce and cook until sauce is nap (thick enough to coast the back of a spoon). Add orange and lemon zest. Spoon sauce over duck and serve.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Snow Crab Legs ~ What took us so long!?

We're back from our weekend excursion and as always had a fabulous time with friends! I promise I'll share the recipes for the the grilled wings and black bean soup from our post game grill-a-thon very soon - I'm planning a whole tailgating section! The soup is one of our FAVORITE things to make and after tasting it, no one can believe how healthy and simple it is to prepare! (It went so fast...there was no time to snap its photo!)

Three nights away from home with two kids under four, you can imagine our exhaustion level walking through the front door. Dinner options were looking bleak, until our neighbor informed us the grocery store had Snow Crab Legs on sale for $4.99 a pound - I rushed right over to pick some up!

A blue claw girl myself, I'm not sure what took me so long to give these massive crab legs a try! They're easy to crack, a breeze to get to table, and yield a boatload full of succulent crab meat - 3lbs was more than enough!

While we sat on our back deck reflecting on the weekends festivities...these beautiful snow crab legs turned an otherwise take-out night, into a relaxing...yet festive...crab feast for two!

Snow Crab Legs
When you see them at your local grocery store, chances are they've already been cooked once, so all you really have to do is reheat and add some flavor if you like.

Here are the steps I took:

Rinse the frozen crab legs with cold water and set aside.

In a large stock pot filled 1/2 way up with water, I added approximately 4T. of Old Bay seasoning and one cup of distilled white vinegar.

I brought the liquid to a rapid boil, turned down the heat to medium, added all the crab legs, then covered the pot for 5 minutes. (Stirring the pot once to ensure equal cooking)

I removed the crab legs with tongs, sprinkled them with more Old Bay and served family style with melted butter, lemon wedges and a pair of pliers we hardly needed!

With an ice cold Sauvignon Blanc - ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

Happy Labor Day weekend to all in the States! Hope you're busy planning your menus for the holiday weekend and summers last hurrah! (Or simply relaxing, letting others do the food!)

My husband just returned home from a business trip and now we're off for some football and tailgating! We'll be staying with friends of ours who just completed a brand new patio and grilling area - we can't wait to see it and get cooking! I'll try my best to post from our Alma mater and include some food, photos and fun!

Click here to read about the origins of Labor Day