Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cooking with My Brother


My brother Kevin was in town for the holiday weekend.

We were getting ready to go to a BBQ Party when he said that he had an easy appetizer he wanted to bring.

So, we headed off to the store to purchase the ingredients ( so I thought).

We all went different ways at the store having individual items we wanted to purchase.

Kevin found me and my husband in the card isle and decided that we need to have a "family meeting" or " lesson" if you will.

Apparently the item he was looking for was not in the usual place.

You see there are many "bean" products at the grocery store but what he was looking for was refried black beans.

Curiously enough not by the other refried beans that you typically find near the ethnic foods items. They were found though and he wanted to share the experience with us by walking us through the process he had just completed. It was a lesson that will be remembered!

It was not unitl we were at the check out line that I realized he only had two bags of tortilla chips and two cans of refried black beans in his hands.

HMM - maybe he thinks I have the other ingredients for his appetizer at home.

Here is a very blurry picture ( to protect the innocent) of my brother's appetizer.

This is one of the easiest appetizers you will ever make according to my brother.

After purchasing one can of black refried beans and the tortilla chips of your choice all you need to do is:

1. Refrigerate the beans ( you can even leave them in the can)

2. Then when ready to serve take the beans out and put them on a plate or bowl.

3. Open the chips and dip them into the beans.

4. MMMmmmm, it is good.

Well, that's what he says anyway!

I don't know that this will be something I make any time soon

but I did enjoy cooking with my brother.

Going Out For Breakfast

My wife and I have perfectly complimentary hobbies and interests. She
enjoys cooking and I like to eat!

Ok so this is a pretty one way
relationship. But breakfast out is something we both enjoy.

Nothing seems to beat a few hours spent in the cool of the day sipping a bottomless cup of
coffee and testing the creativity of someone else's cooking. With Sharon's
brother in town for the weekend we wanted to try something new for breakfast
this weekend.

I scoured the "best of" lists around town, and found some of
old favorites, Java Jive, Docuer de France and Radial, but nothing new. Having
now been introduced to the dark world of Blogs however I sought to mine this
new territory. Lo and Behold through a fellow blogger's site I stumbled
upon a menu that sounded too good to be true. The entrees had all the
sophistication of a Muss and Turners with beautiful sounding combinations of
shaved red onions, Hook-Cheddar cheese on brioche or brined capers, shaved
red onions with cream cheese, but this was a breakfast menu!

We found this
little neighborhood shop at the intersection of a light industrial and
residential neighborhood in Kirkwood. The small seating area in front has a
full view of the elevated MARTA line that runs between College and Dekalb
avenues. We would have enjoyed the outdoor seating, but we are not the
first to discover this gem in the rough.

Sun in My Belly

has been around for almost three years, according to
our host, but is just now turning the corner. The mission of the founder
and chef is to produce beautiful food along a nature theme.

True to this theme the French Toast was gorgeous!

Placed crust up on the plate the
challah is split in the middle with a generous dollop of ricotta cream
cheese accented by a sprig of mint and a mound of fresh blueberries,
strawberries and blackberries. Not too rich or sweet this was voted best
entree at our table. Sharon's Omelet of the day with cilantro, jalapeño and
shrimp and was so full of cilantro flavor we thought they must use a
different variety of cilantro than we use. The shrimp was fresh enough to
still pop with each bite. This entree was a close second. Even the
plain-jane Kirwood breakfast with softly scrambled eggs with herbed boursin
cheese and honey glazed bacon and buttermilk biscuit did not disappoint.

The service was warm and prompt and the waitress' name easy to remember

Check out the lunch and dinner menu! Looks like we'll be back soon!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cooking Cod

What do you know about Cod?

Common names: codfish, rock cod, scrod, northern cod

Physical traits: small, smooth scales; heavy body; colors can
range from gray and green to brown, blackish or even red. The
heads and bodies are covered with brown to reddish spots.

Habitat: Cod can be found in the ocean’s bottom layers in the cold waters of North
America from Maine to Newfoundland’s Grand Banks.

I have only cooked Cod a few times but this is by far my favorite Cod recipe. The fish turned out so tender and the sauce was delicious. It is a Cooking Light recipe that I found online.

Pan-Seared Cod with Basil

1/4 cup fresh basil, finely minced
1/4 cup
reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
4 teaspoons
olive oil
1/2-1 teaspoon
salt, divided
garlic cloves, minced
4 (6 ounce)
cod fish fillets or other similar fish
1/4 teaspoon
black pepper, freshly ground
cooking spray

Combine basil, broth, cheese, oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and garlic in a small bowl.
Sprinkle fish with 1/2 tsp salt (I omit) and pepper.
Coat a large nonstick pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.
Sauté fish for 5 minutes on each side or until it flakes easily with a fork.
Spoon basil sauce over fish to serve.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tequila !

Tequila, Orange Shrimp.

I have to confess - I don’t cook with tequila often so I was curious about how the flavor would taste. If you are planning on making a recipe that calls for tequila you may want to check out this website that has some basic information about tequila.


This is a Martha Stewart Recipe that I modified just a little.

Tequila, Orange Shrimp
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, de-veined, and tails left on
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red pepper very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
Zest of 1 lime, plus lime wedges for serving
Dash of red pepper
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup orange marmalade

For Sauce
1/4 cup tequila
1/3 cup orange marmalade
3 TBS sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Top with
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

In a medium bowl, combine shrimp, oil, pepper, half the garlic, and zest; orange marmalade, red pepper, season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
In a shallow saucepan, combine remaining orange marmalade, tequila, and cilantro, sugar; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until mixture is thick and syrupy, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in butter; keep warm.
Heat a gas grill on high or stove-top grill pan over high heat. Grill shrimp, turning once, until just opaque, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter; pour tequila sauce over shrimp. Garnish with chives; serve immediately with lime wedges

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thanks, but no thanks!

I don’t eat red meat. Not because I don’t like it. High cholesterol runs in my family. My levels have fluctuated over time but remain within a safe level. At one of my doctor’s appointments where my cholesterol was a little higher than usual my doctor recommended a few diet changes. She encouraged me to cut red meat, eggs and butter out of my diet. After considering her suggestions, I agreed that eliminating some of these foods from my diet was better than having to take medicine to lower my cholesterol.

In case you were curious here are some foods high in cholesterol.

A List of High Cholesterol Foods
Food + Serving Size = Cholesterol Level
Boiled egg 1 = 225 mg
Cream cheese 1 oz = 27 mg
Cheddar cheese 1 oz = 19 mg
Butter 3.5 oz = 250 mg
Lamb 3.5 oz = 70 mg
Beefsteak 3.5 oz = 70 mg
Chicken 3.5 oz = 60 mg
Kidney, beef 3.5 oz = 375 mg
Liver, beef 3.5 oz = 300 mg
Ice Cream 3.5 oz = 45 mg
Sponge cake 3.5 oz = 260 mg

It is better for your health if you can avoid consuming more than 300mg of cholesterol in a day.

So, according to doctor's orders, instead of hamburgers, we make
Black Bean Burgers at our house.

Black Bean Burgers
1 15oz can black beans (drained ) and chopped
1 small white onion
½ red or green pepper
bread crumbs
cumin (to taste)
feta cheese

You can bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or you can grill them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Little Italian Dish

I was feeling like something Italian and a little spicy so I decided to make a
Red Pepper and Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce.

I started by sautéing two cloves garlic and one large white onion in olive oil.
This smell always reminds me of my grandma's house. She always made the best homemade sauce!

Then I added a chopped red pepper, 1/4 cup chopped basil, 2tbs parsley and let cook a little longer.

After that I add:
2 large can of whole tomatoes,
1 small /medium can of tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
and two medium pieces of a potato
( I will take the potato out after the sauce cooks)

In a separate pan I sauté the spicy Italian Sausage in olive oil with some chopped white onions. I sauté them over high heat just to brown the outside. After they are lightly browned I put them into the sauce to cook.

If time, I like to allow the sauce to cook on low heat for 2 hours.
Then it is ready to serve over the pasta of your choice.

I would like this submit this recipe to Ruth's weekly

One Little Pepper

One litte pepper sitting on a plate,
waiting around for the expiration date.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dinner with Good Friends

This weekend we went to James and Marsha's house for dinner. It is always fun to spend time with good friends talking, laughing and eating great food. Marsha is an excellent cook. She made Bacon Wrapped Chicken, Ginger-Garlic Broccolini, Rice Pilaf and Salad with a homemade Vinaigrette Dressing. Everything was delicious!

After dinner we enjoyed a free music concert on the Smyrna Village Green. The band was "7 Sharp 9". Seven Sharp Nine was voted "Best New Local Band" in Creative Loafing's Best of Atlanta 2002.

For upcoming events on the Smyrna Village Green check out:

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Great Salsa Competition

I was getting ready to make Salsa with all the vegetables we purchased at the Farmers Market when I asked my husband what he likes in his salsa. He told me he likes lots of peppers, onions and tomatoes. He also said he likes his salsa really spicy.

HMM, that is not at all what I was thinking..... because I like my salsa with thick chucks of tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro and lime and not that spicy. So, with these two very different opinions on how we wanted our salsa to taste we decided to have a "Salsa Competition".

We played "salsa" music while working individually on our homemade salsa from different sides of the kitchen trying to hide secret ingredients from each other.
The result of our two hour salsa competition - two totally different looking and tasting salsas. The problem - we were missing an unbiased judge.

Later that evening our friend Cheri stopped by on a walk. Little did she know that she would be the one to determine the WINNER of our Salsa Competition. After laughing at our request, she agreed to be our judge. She said that both salsa were full of flavor! The one on the left had a strong tomato, pepper taste. It also had a little kick to it. The one on the right had a cucumber, tomato flavor. It had a lighter, sweeter taste to it.

So, you might be asking - who won?

The WINNER - The one on the right - me!!!!!!

Now, with all that said I am sad to tell you that we don't have a recipe for either salsa. I say, when making salsa, add the vegetables you like and then flavor slowly while tasting frequently.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Eggs for Dinner

Tonight I made a Vegetable and Cheese Frittata. A Frittata is an Italian open-faced omelet.

You might be wondering...........What is the difference between an Omelet and a Frittata?

Here is what Peggy Filippone says, "In the strictest sense, the difference boils down to a matter of folding in a filling rather than mixing it in. Omelets traditionally have the egg mixture cooked and folded around a filling, while a frittata just mixes it all up, cooked in a mishmash combination all at once. Frittatas are often served at room temperature, making them perfect for brunches or larger group."

I believe you can put almost anything in a Frittata but here is how I made mine:

First I sauteed red onion, green beans and potato in olive oil. I added some Italian seasoning : a little basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. I let these vegetables cook until the potatoes were tender.

Then in a bowl I mixed 8 eggs, 1/2 - 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella.

I poured the egg and cheese mixture over the vegetables and cooked for about 5 minutes until the bottom of the Frittata was firm. Then the pan was placed in the oven and baked on 350 for about 15 - 20 minutes. While the Frittata was baking, I added sliced tomato and grated parmesan cheese to the top.

This Frittata was FULL of yummy flavors!!!

Migratory Musings

BIRD food. That's right this is a blog with double vision. Its been a great year so far as I’ve seen 6 life birds this year already! My recent job change puts me within a mile of the Georgia Birding Mecca, Kennesaw Mountain. Four new warblers this year were added to my life list;
Cerulean, Cape May, Pine and Ovenbird; all seen at Kennesaw.

I also saw a White Pelican for the first time with my brother in Illinois in April.

Though the best of the season is over there are still some great migrant birds to be seen. I saw a Grey Cheeked Thrush yesterday; a life bird for me. I’ll be back at Kennesaw Mountain again tomorrow to see if can get another eyeful of this guy.

It’s pretty rare for this bird to be seen in this area of the country even during migration.
The “Ovenbird” better be careful or he could end up in wrong part of this Blog!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Before Dessert .....

Before eating that yummy pie we had Linguini with Mussels in a White Wine Sauce. This is the first time I have ever cooked with mussels so I did a little research before I started in order to be safe.

When cooking with Mussels:

1. Mussels need to be scrubbed, removing barnacles and tugging off the "beard".

2. If any of the mussels are already open and don't close when you tap them, discard them as they are dead and could be bad.

3. Inspect mussels that are unusually heavy, they may be full of sand when they open.

4. Rinse thoroughly several times before cooking as you really don't want a mouthful of grit.

So, I followed those suggestions and following recipe and dinner turned out great!!


Ingredients needed:
2 dozen live mussels, scrubbed and debeared
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups white wine
1/2 cup fish stock or chicken stock
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound fresh linguine, cooked al dente and tossed with olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Crusty french bread

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, sauté the shallots and garlic. Add the wine and stock. Bring up to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Add the mussels to the wine and cover. Simmer the mussels for 3-4 minutes
or until the shells open. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Drop the pasta into the boiling salted water. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the water and drain. Add the pasta directly to the sauté pan. Divide the pasta between two bowls and spoon the mussels on top. Garnish with the grated cheese and parsley. Serve with the crusty bread.Yield: 2 servings

The Birth of a Food Blog

This is how it all began........

I really enjoy cooking but .... this year I became friends with someone who loves to bake, cook AND blog. During the year I have sent her a few photos of things I made - just for fun - and she would post them on her blog. She has teased me several times saying why don't you start a blog. So, here it is .... my food blog.

This past weekend was my first trip to the Dekalb Farmers Market. WOW! what an amazing place. My husband and I spent about 2 hours walking around and looking at all the produce. I never knew there were so many varieties of peppers! The fish section of the Market is incredible with 450 varities of fish. If you have never been to the Dekalb Farmers Market you really need to check it out! http://www.dekalbfarmersmarket.com/

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Dessert First

My Husband made an Apple,Pear, Hazelnut Pie the other day. Yes, you heard me correctly, my husband made it, and it was DELICIOUS!!!!! Some of our friends even said that it was the BEST APPLE PIE they have ever eaten!

Here is the recipe he followed:
Hazelnut Apple Pie

Ingredients for the Crust
· 1 3/4 cup flour
· 3/4 cup lard
· 1 tsp. salt
· 1 Tbsp. cold water

Ingredients for the filling

· 6 medium granny smith apples cut into eighths
· 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
· 2 Tbs. butter
· 1 cup and 3 Tbsp. sugar
· 1 lemon
· 3 Tbsp. of the toasted hazelnuts
Ingredients for the Topping
· 1 cup flour
· 1/2 cup sugar
· 6 Tbsp. butter and the rest of the toasted hazelnuts

Directions for the Crust1. Place lard in freezer for 20 minutes, so it is icy cold.2. Place flour and salt in bowl.3. With pastry blender, cut in half the lard, until mixture is like fine meal.4. Coarsely cut in remaining lard.5. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. cold water over dough and mix with fork until all flour is moist.6. Press dough into a ball. Roll out at once. (If it falls apart, you'll be doing it right. Just patch the baby together in the pie pan.)Directions for the Filling1. Sprinkle 3 tbsp. hazelnuts and the 3 tbsp. sugar on bottom crust.2. Fill pie pan with apples, sprinkle cinnamon on top, then fork the insides of a lemon over all.3. Sprinkle most of remaining sugar around edge of pie, rest on top. Dot with butter, so butter and sugar will caramelize around edge of crust when baked.Directions for the Topping1. Work together with hands until like coarse meal.2. Cover apples with topping and place the pie plate on heated cookie sheet.3. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower to 375 degrees and bake 60 minutes or until sugar and butter are bubbly around the edge. Do not remove before.4. If top is browning too quickly, cover with foil.5. Let the pie cool at room temperature for one hour before slicing.Recipe courtesy of Mary Michener, Good Morning America Apple Pie Contest 2001