Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Salmon & Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

Dear Carbs
I will miss you this Lent. Forty days! Forty Hellish Days without my dear friend, Bread...or his sidekick, Tortilla. But the Carb I am really going to miss is Potato. Come on, I am Irish for God sake! It should be against the law or sacrilegious to not eat potatoes. I wont even think twice about Rice. My mouth doesn't even water over Rice. And Sugar really doesn't interest me, but Potato...uuuuh I already miss you and it hasn't even been 24 hours since you touched my lips. Thank God I didn't commit to give up Wine this lent. Couldn't I have given up being mean for Lent? That's realistic!
Ok I will stop...for now!

Valentines Day really doesn't do much for me. I know, I am a little behind in my posts but with all this low carb crap, I really am cranky and dont feel like cooking just meat and vegetables. (It's only been a say?) I know but we have been leaning into this low carb for the last two weeks so today, Ash Wednesday isn't too painful. Anyways, back to the Hallmark holiday I dislike the most. I just feel that I married pretty close to perfection and he married pretty close to perfection. We should be good to each other every day of the year instead of just doing it up extra great once a year. So we stay pretty low key for it. But that still didn't keep me from making a nice meal. I made up a beautiful Salmon over greens that truly made my husband think I slaved for hours on the meal and trust me, it took 15 minutes, including opening a bottle of wine. This meal feeds two. I made some cheddar cheese biscuits which are not low carb but they are required when a growing boy is crashing your romantic dinner. And they looked nice on the plate.

Balsamic Glazed Salmon
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 TB fresh lemon juice
2 TB packed brown sugar
mix all ingredients in a bowl and put aside
2 6 oz salmon (I had three and there was plenty of sauce)
Pat Salmon dry with paper towels. Salt and Pepper well. Heat oil in a non stick pan over med high heat. Cook Salmon four minutes each side or until cooked through. Remove from pan. Carefully add liquid to the pan and keep stirring until thickened and reduced a little. Place Salmon over bed of greens and drizzle glaze over salmon. I like to drizzle over the salad too. I added cherry tomatoes, shaved Parmesan and artichoke hearts to the plate too.

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

Preheat oven to 450
in a bowl mix
2 cups Baking mix (Bisquick)
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (I just sprinkle, I dont measure)
drop by teaspoons onto greased baking sheet (I use an ice cream scoop so they are all the same size) Bake for 10 minutes
Immediately brush with 2 TB melted butter mixed with 1/8 ts garlic powder (again I dont measure)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lent warning

Sorry I've been missing for the last couple days. Between taxes and the lingering cold, I have been no fun to be around. Unfortunately we are going right into Lent now so my mood will remain cranky. Against my better judgment, I am giving up carbs for Lent. Modified, of course. I have a couple of pounds to lose and carbs are really my only vice. I don't smoke, only have one glass of wine per day, (and I AM NOT GIVING THAT UP UNLESS THE KIDS MOVE OUT!) I am really uninterested in sweets, so all that is really left is carbs. I will miss carbs. The only plus is that I have made a deal that this whole thing is off when we do family dinners while my Army Son is home on leave. I mean, really, it is for his own good that there should be french bread at the table with home made mashed potatoes. He is after all putting his life on the line. (ok ok enough dramatics))

So you will have to forgive me if my recipes are.....boring for 40 days. But hey, I will look good in a bikini for spring break, so it is all good!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Taco Tuesday

Dear God, It’s Me, Aricka! Remember me? I am the one always asking you for a little extra patience! I really could use your guidance today. Not even out of the driveway and the kids are fighting over who will sit in the front. The Tortured Teenager wants to be up front to finish her makeup. Her foundation is a nice color but it doesn’t match with the interior of my car as it gets all over my visor as she pulls down the mirror. Maybe she could switch to a foundation that matches my car? Thanks…

Dear God, It’s Me again! I’m trying to download my tax software so I can do my mom’s taxes. Notice I am doing hers before ours as she needs the money more than we do. For some reason I cant get the program to install. A little extra patience? Just a smudge? Thanks…

Dear God…Don’t mean to bug you but is it really necessary for me to wait on hold for an hour for the tax software company just to get a recording “leave a message?” They already got my money! I just want a refund so I can go buy it again at the store. Thanks…

Dear God, I am sure I am needing some patience now. Thanks for saving my ass when that clearly uninsured driver almost rear ended me. Really appreciate that. I hope you heard my “THANK YOU GOD” and forgive me for my “LEARN HOW TO F**KING DRIVE” for I really am trying to work on that.

Dear God, Now I ask for patience for rude lady that thought nothing to cut in front of me at the second store I had to go to in order to buy the tax software for the second time. I even asked her if she intended on swiping her card as she stood in front of me while the cashier asked for me to pay. How rude? The least she could do is either wait to look at the pens where I was standing or pay for my purchase. Just saying…

Dear God, finally have the tax software in my hand and why am I not able to install it? Really? So please forgive me if some F bombs come flying out of my mouth.

And one more thing, really…Give me patience with the Tortured Teenager! For she is truly a blessing my life! And I will not curse her like my mother did that “you too will have children one day and I hope they are as rotten as you are!” No, I will break the cycle!

Dear God, I guess you must be on vacation because patience is really short around here. I guess I will take your cue and pretend to be on vacation. It is Taco Tuesday after all!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Caramel Apple Crepes

I happened to watch an episode of Everyday Cooking (PBS) this weekend where they made some Banana Crepes. The chef made it look so simple that in my cranky mood I decided, "I can do that!" Except I didn't have bananas on board so off to the computer I went in search for a recipe that would use some fruit I did have, apples. I imagines apples with a caramel sauce. I am not really a sweets person. Matter of fact, I'm not really a sweet person, period. That was go with my crankiness. Anyways...If he could do it, then I could. Doesn't matter that he was classically trained and on TV. I can do this. So I gathered my ingredients and got started. The crepe batter is easy enough to make. The apples, no biggie. The caramel, I started with complete confidence. I was gonna do this. I would own this caramel. And up until I added the cream, I did. Once I added the cream, it was touch and go, but it came together and was great.

Now I don't own a crepe pan. But I do own a huge saute pan. I gathered The Tortured Teenager (who I really wasn't talking to but we put aside our differences for the purpose of dessert) and she became my co-pilot. Brush in one hand, measuring cup in the other we were a team! She would butter up the pan (which we discovered, more butter, more better) and then I would say "hit me" and she would pour some batter in the pan (1/4 cup which is not what the recipe calls for) as I swirled to get it even. Have you ever watched that show on Food Network, "Worst Cooks?" Well they have an episode where they have to make crepes and one of the girls (dark hair with glasses) swirls it like the goal is to not have the batter touch itself. (giggle) It really takes a little skill the first time. After that you become a pro! Mind you, a little "oooh" and "aaah" as you swirl seems to help too. Flipping was not as easy as they show on TV. Maybe I haven't developed enough callouses on the tips of my fingers but I couldn't just pick it up like they did on TV. It's hot for God sake! I ended up using a pancake spatula. But with each crepe, there was laughter and high fives. Maybe I need to make crepes more often. We made up all the crepes in advance and then reheated in the micro for 15 seconds which was perfect.
I was thrilled the The Little Ballplayer liked them. Remember he doesn't like anything that doesn't list crap as the main ingredient! He ate four! The Tortured Teenager really doesn't care for caramel so she was eating them with cinnamon sugar.

Caramel Apple Crepes
From: Midwest Living
These tender, thin pancakes are easy to mix and cook. Serve them with sweet or savory fillings and toppings. Our apple filling makes these perfect for dessert.
Servings: 7 servings
Total: 55 mins
Rated : Not yet rated

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12 Basic Dessert Crepes
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup thinly sliced, peeled apple
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. For crepes, prepare the Basic Dessert Crepes. Fold each crepe in half, browned side out. Fold in half again, forming a triangle. Place crepes on a serving platter.
2. For sauce: In a heavy small saucepan, cook and stir brown sugar and honey over medium-high heat till bubbly. Reduce heat to medium. Boil mixture, uncovered, for 6 minutes (adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil). Remove from heat. Slowly and carefully stir in whipping cream (mixture will bubble up).

[Note from ME: this is where I panicked! I added the cream and it became a rock. But keep stirring and it will come together. It will look like it isn't thick enough but it will thicken as it cools]

3. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add apple slices; cook, uncovered, for 4 to 6 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally. Top crepes with apples. Spoon some of the sauce over crepes (cover and chill remaining sauce for another use). Top with pecans. If you like, serve with ice cream. Makes 7 servings.
Basic Dessert Crepes
In a small mixing bowl combine 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup milk, 1/3 cup water, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, melted, or 1 tablespoon cooking oil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Beat with a rotary beater until combined and smooth. Heat a lightly greased 6-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the batter into skillet; lift and tilt skillet to spread batter evenly. Return to heat; brown on one side only for 30 to 45 seconds. Invert skillet over paper towels; remove crepe from skillet. Lay crepes out flat to cool. Repeat with remaining batter, greasing skillet as necessary with additional shortening or cooking oil. Makes 12 to 14 crepes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Give away (not mine) is doing an amazing give away and I cant help but to let you all know about it! So you have to go you and enter her give away! Free stuff people!!

Chicken Marsala

I was absent for the weekend. Maybe you didn't even notice but I assure you it was for your own good. Parenting is hard. I didn't give my parent this much grieve. I did not! My father likes to say that I was a handful but my father was pickled my entire childhood so his memories are a little distorted. I did have a sharp tongue. Guilty as charged! I still have a sharp tongue. Ugly words just seem to escape my mouth. I don't know how they get out! The Tortured Teenager gave us a run for our money this weekend. Friday I saw humor in it. Saturday I was hurt. Sunday, the true me was back! I am a true red head. When angered, I breath fire. Yesterday was one of those days. I was truly ugly. I could have made a happy baby cry. It was bad. Really bad. Today, fortunately the kids had to go to school and I have some quiet time to reflect. A time out so to speak. Those ugly thoughts are still simmering right under the surface. This time was unusually bad. Luckily I have a good man who thinks that I am funny and stands behind my ugliness. God love him.

Normally I take comfort in the kitchen. Even the kitchen held no interest. So I turned to Food Network. Some food porn must be the answer! Those ugly thoughts kept invading my mind. Damn it! Fortunately The Fireman was hungry and needed dinner! My goal this year is to cook meals I would want to eat out in a restaurant. Sunday dinner was to be Chicken Marsala.

Every once in while, I get suckered into eating at the Olive Garden. Not my favorite. Twenty minutes away there are amazing Italian restaurants that make the Olive Garden seem like fast food gone wrong. But when I do get suckered into it, I usually get Chicken Marsala. I don't know who turned me on to it. But the sauce is yummy. And over mashed potatoes. Heaven! Being Irish, you could put mashed potatoes on a shoe and I would find it appetizing so putting Marsala gravy over it is amazing. My kids do not like mushrooms. They haven't discovered that they taste like beef. It is probably a texture issue and not a taste issue. So I chopped up the mushrooms very fine hoping it wouldn't be an issue. I got this recipe off the Food Network. If I was to do it over, I would get some better mushrooms. I had some button mushrooms in the fridge so we went with what I had on stock. I also would salt and pepper the chicken more aggressively as the recipe doesn't even call for it. I did anyways sparsely. I served in a bowl over my Parmesan Mashed Potatoes. The Fireman would have preferred that it was on a plate.

Lets talk Mashed Potatoes. There are many years that The Fireman has had to work Thanksgiving. We don't mind. It's part of the job. He doesn't care who cooks the bird but the potatoes, only his wife. My family has become accustomed to my bold flavored potatoes. I do start with the basics, butter milk, salt and freshly ground pepper (lots of it) but then I take a turn, I put about a cup to two cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and if I planned ahead a whole glove of roasted garlic, if not garlic powder (I know..I know powder! But it gives it a ranch dip taste) And then if the that wasn't enough, I dump a cup of sour cream in my potatoes. There should be a warning on my potatoes. HIGHLY ADDICTIVE! HIGH IN FAT! ARTERY CLOGGING! But I only make then a couple times a year so just deal and work out a little extra before or after. Or do like I do, loosen your belt!

Chicken Marsala

recipe courtesy Food Network
Recipe courtesy Fran Geraci, owner of Geraci's in Cleveland, OH.


* 4 (8-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts
* All-purpose flour, for dredging, plus 2 tablespoons
* 3 ounces butter
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 cups sliced mushrooms
* 2 tablespoons minced garlic
* 4 tablespoons Marsala wine
* 2 cups beef stock


Put the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of waxed paper and flatten with a meat pounder until thin. Cut each chicken breast into 4 pieces. Add some flour to a shallow bowl. Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off the excess flour.

(I didn't have more wax paper, so I used plastic wrap. I have found that a frying pan works great for pounding meat. Being in an ugly mood, this was very therapeutic for me. I even invited the Tortured Teenager over to see how I was dealing with my anger)
Add the butter and olive oil to a large saute pan over high heat and heat until it sizzles, do NOT let it brown. Add the chicken and saute until brown on both sides. Stir in the sliced mushrooms and saute briefly, then add the garlic. Add the Marsala and simmer for 3 minutes, then stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. Pour in the beef stock and let simmer until the sauce thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.
(I had more meat than would fit in one pan all at once so I did it in batches and then put it all back into the sauce to finish up for the last five minutes. The flour on the meat really helps with the thickening of the sauce)

This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.
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