Monday, August 29, 2011

Chicken Piccata - The Secret Recipe Club

This is the second month that I have participated in The Secret Recipe Club.  What can be more fun than taking time to visit a another blog, select a recipe to prepare and then post about it!  The twist is that it is a secret.  Early in the month, each participant is assigned a blog from those wishing to play along.  On the designated day everybody posts and reveals their "secret blogging friend" and the dish prepared!

Last month Ewa at Delishh prepared a recipe from my blog and ironically, I was assigned Ewa's blog this month!  As I perused her blog I found so many recipes that I wanted to make.  I found a recipe for Swedish Chocolate Balls as well as a familiar but long-lost childhood recipe for No-Bake Cookies!   Ewa is passionate about food and shares quite a variety of international culinary take time to visit her, you won't be disappointed.

While I intend to make the chocolate goodies I mentioned earlier, today's recipe will be Chicken Piccata. This is one of my favorite dishes.  I have a recipe that I have made for a number of years but I just had to try this one.  You see, it has all of the usual ingredients with the addition of mushrooms!

This is one of those recipes that comes together quickly so you have to be ready.  Do the prep ahead!  I did make some changes to the recipe but nothing that would affect the flavor.  I used Panko bread crumbs instead of the traditional and I added a tablespoon of water to the beaten egg...because that is what I always do!  Ewa suggested serving it with mashed potatoes....I couldn't resist that suggestion!

Chicken Piccata
adapted from Delishhh

Yields:  4 servings

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Salt Pepper
1 egg, beaten, plus 1 Tbsp water
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
6 Tbsp butter
1 to 2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup brined capers, drained
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
4 slices of lemon, for garnish

Pound the chicken breasts between two sheets of wax paper to 1/4" thickness.  Season them with salt and pepper.
Set up three shallow bowls/plates.
Bowl 1:  Mix 4 Tbsp olive oil and soy sauce together. (This is a quick marinade for extra flavor.)
Bowl 2:  Beat the egg and 1 Tbsp water together.
Bowl 3:  Mix the flour and bread crumbs together.

Heat the olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet on medium heat.  Prepare the chicken by dipping it in bowls 1 through 3 and then into the fry pan.  Brown the chicken well on each side, about 3 minutes per side.  Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a warm plate.  Cover with foil to keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

To the same frying pan, add the sliced mushrooms and 2 Tbsp of butter.  Saute the mushrooms for 5 minutes.  Add the wine, lemon juice, and capers to the pan.  Scrape up the browned bits.  Reduce the sauce by half.  Whisk in the remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter.

Plate the chicken and spoon sauce over the top.  Add a slice of lemon and parsley for garnish.

Serve with mashed potatoes!  (This was a great recommendation!)


My daughter took the first bite and marveled at the flavor.  I agree with her, this is a delicious dish.  I know the Kitchen Gnome will be sorry that he went camping and wasn't here to enjoy it with us!  Never is definitely one that I will make again!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Grilled Flank Steak - Revisited

It is hard not to repeat a recipe.  I have some favorites that circle around and appear on my plate over and over again.  Marinated Grilled Flank Steak is one of those recipes.  We love to grill and I must admit that Mr. T. (aka Kitchen Gnome) is very good at it.

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup or more dry red wine

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 large clove garlic, sliced
Pepper to taste
Chopped green onion or chives (optional)
Chopped dill weed (optional)
Celery Seed (optional)
1 1/12 lb. flank steak, trimmed

Mix all ingredients in the pan in which meat is to be marinated.  Marinate flank steak, turning occasionally, for 2 to 12 hours in the refrigerator.  Broil meat over hot coals for 5 minutes per side for rare meat.  Slice meat on the diagonal across the grain and serve.


Even oldies are goodies!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Walk on the Beach

Driving to the coast for a few days gives us a nice reprieve from the heat. We are fortunate that it only takes us a little over two hours so we can do it often!

On one day it was sunny and on the next it was very overcast. You will be able to tell... Join me on the walk.

The sand dune peaks over the shrubs.

You can see the fog sitting in the distance off the coast. Some lavender blooms in the foreground.

Part of the area is blocked off to enable the plants to restore themselves and to protect the plover that nests in the area.

I love the egrets that frequent the area.

I had never seen the egrets feeding along the shoreline before. On this day, they were really busy.

Aren't they beautiful?

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. If you have a chance to visit her you can see all of the great summer outdoor adventures being shared!

Friday, August 19, 2011


We are off for the Oregon coast our very favorite place to play!  We have traveled to the area for the last 25 years.  I can hardly wait....a long drive, but worth it.

I have scheduled a few posts for while I am away and intend to check in whenever I have an internet connection.  Have fun cooking...I know I will enjoy some great seafood and look forward to sharing some new recipes upon my return.

This is the Hecate Head Lighthouse on the central Oregon coast.

This is just by the South Jetty outside of Florence, OR.  We have caught many dungeness crab from this pier and are looking forward to catching some more.

This is the view from my "fishing bench"!  I hear the trout are running strong.  Unfortunately, we will be there too early for the salmon run through the lake.  I can make due....there are perch and bass in abundance, too!

Be back soon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Bars

This afternoon I was scrolling through Connor's Cooking looking for something sweet to make.  I was in luck because I found bars with two of my favorite things:  peanut butter and chocolate! I have a similar recipe, Chocolate Peanut Buddy Bars, and decided that I would make these and compare the two.

I had to make just a couple of adjustments.  All I had in the pantry was chunky peanut butter, so that is what I used.  I also didn't have enough of any one kind of I used a combination of milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chunks!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Bars
adapted from Connor's Cooking

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz. chopped semi sweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Grease a 9 X 12 baking dish.*
Mix together the flour, soda and salt.
Cream the butter, sugars, and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined.  Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients.  Fold in the chocolate by hand.

Press the dough into the prepared baking dish and bake 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack in the pan.  When cooled completely, cut into bars and serve!

*Connor suggests that you can also line the dish with foil so that the bars can be easily lifted from the pan.


The bars tasted fine but they weren't as sweet as I had hoped.  They were very crumbly which I would attribute to the amount of butter I used.  Unbelievably, for some reason, my chocolate chips didn't melt!  I have never had that happen...I was using a different brand of chip so maybe that had something to do with it.  Of course, I didn't have one bit of trouble eating two three of the bars, regardless of the fact that the chips didn't melt!

I found Connor's blog because Connor is a member of The Secret Recipe Club and the member who was to have posted a recipe from Connor's blog yesterday, was, at the last minute, unable to participate.  That left Connor an orphan...nobody had visited her, found a recipe, and made a dish to share.  Having some extra time, I volunteered to do some visitin' and cookin'!

If you are interested in joining this group, please visit the website for information on how to participate.

There were a few other bloggers who stepped up to visit Connor's blog.  Take a look at the goodies they found!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brush Fire!

Living in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range can be both beautiful and scary.  We pretty much have two colors on the hillsides:  green or gold/brown.  If we are fortunate and get plenty of rain, everything starts to turn green in January.  In May, the thick, tall grass starts to dry and the hillsides turn to gold...not the kind that you mine!

Living on the edge of the rolling, dry hills can be scary because there is always the chance of a brush fire.  Last week the neighbor called to tell me she saw smoke raising above the hill to the east.  That can only mean one thing, a brush fire.

We hopped in the neighbor's golf cart to see how far away it was, if it was blowing toward us, and if help was needed. You can see the water tank on the hill to the right of the smoke.  We were headed around and through the undeveloped property next to us.

You can see the water tank again, to the right.  We took the service road to its end.  As the smoke got thicker and turned to gray we knew that the fire fighters had arrived.

We could see some flames peaking over the hill on the left where there is just a little smoke.  There are three houses in this area.  It appeared that the fire burned to the house on the right.

Thankfully, there was no damage to the house and nobody was injured.  As the sun set in the west we headed back home and noticed that the bats were coming out...I have no idea where their "cave" is but they seemed to fill the air.  That is for another day....I am not a fan of bats!

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Limoncello and Lemon Cream Fruit Tart

Today is the Celebrity Cook-Along and Rachel Ray is this month's celebrity.  I watched the month start to slip away and I had a dish to prepare.  I must admit that I do not own a Rachel Ray cookbook.  What to do?  What to do?  I turned to the Food Network where Rachel has graciously allowed some of her recipes to be shared.

This recipe is one from 30 Minute Meals.  It is simple.  It doesn't require cooking just a little combining.  It is so simple that I actually thought I was cooking with Sandra Lee!

Limoncello and Lemon Cream Fruit Tart

1 package store-bought sponge cake tart shells - 6 shells (The kind commonly used with strawberry shortcake.)
2 ounces chilled limoncello liqueur (I used 2 Tbsp.)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup lemon curd
1/2 pint raspberries
1/2 pint blackberries (I omitted the blackberries.)
2 tsp lemon zest (I accidentally forgot to sprinkle the zest on top)
2 Tbsp very thinly sliced mint leaves (I forgot the mint leaves too....what can I say, I was in a hurry!)

Remove the tart shells from the package and place them on a plate.  Sprinkle the limoncello liqueur over the cakes.  In a bowl beat the cream, mascarpone cheese and lemon curd to combine.  Refrigerate for at least an hour so that it firms up just a bit.

Fill the tart shells with the cheese mixture and top with berries.  Sprinkle with lemon zest and mint slivers.


I enjoy making individual desserts and these were very nice.  The cheese mixture is not sweet so if you want sweet, a little powdered sugar might be a good thing to add.

I shared with the neighbors and they game it two thumbs up!

The Celebrity Cook-Along is hosted by Lynn at Happier Than A Pig In Mud.

If you enjoy Rachel Ray recipes, stop by Lynn's blog and take a look at the variety of dishes being prepared!

I am also sharing at Make a Foodie Friend Monday hosted at The Saturday Evening Pot and Recipe Sharing Monday at Jam Hands.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Answer to an Abundance of Vegetables!

Warm weather, gardens and a bounty of fruits and vegetables can be daunting!  Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers magically appeared on the counter this week.  What does one do with all of the produce when it is warm and going to the beach sounds like a good plan...well, make gazpacho!

I had never made it before but I had eaten it a number of times.  One thing for certain, gazpacho is prepared many different ways..depending upon one's taste.

Gazpacho is a liquid salad from the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, made of ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, garlic, and bread moistened with water that is blended with olive oil, vinegar, and ice water and served cold.  Gazpacho was a poor people's food.  It was traditionally eaten by workers in the fields.  Its humble beginnings included bread, water and olive oil pounded in a large bowl.  Gazpacho has changed just a bit over the ages but still has a vegetable-base of ripe tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers.

I had three different gazpacho recipes in front of me and didn't know which one to make.  So, I combined the ingredients in two of them and took the recommendation to not make V-8 juice by over-processing!


6 plum tomatoes
1 hothouse cucumber, seeded, but not peeled
1 1/2 red bell pepper
1 medium red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Tabasco to taste.

Rough chop the vegetables and process each one separately in the food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse until it is coarsely chopped.  (Do not over-process!!)

After processing each vegetable, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, cayenne, (Tabasco, if desired), salt and pepper.  Mix well and chill before serving.  The longer gazpacho sits the more the flavors develop.


The soup was thick and flavorful.  I think if I make it again, I will add additional tomato juice so it is more soup-like.  It was a bit too thick for our liking.  I would also add some croutons or little toasts brushed with olive oil and garlic.  I served it with jalapeno bread which had just the right amount of "bite".  The soup is quite can adjust the vegetable proportions to fit your taste.

This made quite a bit of gazpacho so I took some to my neighbor who shared with me her recipe for gazpacho.  She uses V-8 juice instead of tomato juice and she adds some celery to the mix.  She said that they like to top their gazpacho with some chopped avocado and baby shrimp.

We tried her variation and decided that we liked the toppings....avocado and shrimp make everything taste better!

This was an excellent fresh, cold, soup-salad!

I am participating in Fat Camp Friday hosted by Miranda at Mangoes and Chutney and Seasonal Saturday hosted by Roz at La Bella Vita.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote

If you are looking for an easy summer-time meal that will bring in rave reviews, this is it!  I mentioned earlier that I had been a bit lax in my participation in French Fridays with Dorie.  This is one of the recipes listed last month that participants were to prepare.  I was in the market for something different for dinner and this appealed to me.  I had tons of basil, grape tomatoes, lemons and thyme so I just needed a trip to the market for the salmon.

What an easy preparation this was!  I layered everything on heavy duty foil and folded up the sides to make little packages and then placed them on a baking sheet.  Since it has been very hot here and the salmon is cooked at a high temperature, 475° F., I knew that heating the oven would make the house as hot as the outside!  The Kitchen Gnome took the baking sheet to the BBQ and we baked the salmon outside.  It turned out perfectly.

Goodness was this delicious!

The recipe is in Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan.  Or, you can find it here.  Dorie has graciously posted it on her webpage.

This is the perfect recipe if you are in a hurry and want a good meal and don't have tons of time to prepare it!  Did I say this was delicious?  Everyone around the table loved it!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lemon Velvet Ice Cream

There is not a better ice cream...seriously, Lemon Velvet Ice Cream rocks!

My friend texted me recently with the question, "Have you seen the Lemon Velvet Ice Cream recipe that Suzanne posted?  You will want to make it."  As a matter of fact, I had not.  Quickly remedied...I went to Suzanne's awesome blog, Notes From the Patch, to take a look.  Suzanne described the ice cream as the perfect combination of sweet and tart.  She says it is like a lemon drop...the candy, not the martini!   I was sold and on my way to the cupboard to pull out the ice cream maker.

Lemon Velvet Ice Cream
adapted from Suzanne's Mom's Recipe

2 1/2 cups sugar
7 lemons, zested and juiced
1 quart half and half
6 oz evaporated milk
6 oz whole milk
2 Tbsp Lemoncello

Mix the sugar and half and half in the mixer until sugar is dissolved.
Add the evaporated and whole milk, lemon juice, zest and Lemoncello.

Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze as directed.


Sadly, I had more mixture than my ice cream maker would hold.  I made certain that all of the zest got into the container and since there wasn't really enough extra to freeze, I had to watch it go down the drain...only after tasting the ice cream can you understand how sad that was...

I added Lemoncello to the recipe.  It sounded like the perfect match and I knew that we wouldn't eat it all and that I would need to freeze what was left.  I followed David Lebovitz's recommendation in his book, The Perfect Scoop and added alcohol.  According to David, alcohol does two things: 1) It prevents ice creams and sorbets from freezing too hard (alcohol doesn't freeze), and 2) it adds an additional punch of flavor.

I must point out that there wasn't much leftover to freeze.  The gentlemen around the table lifted their bowls and in Oliver Twist fashion requested more!  I was happy to serve it up!

Lemon Velvet Ice Cream will be on my list to repeat and repeat and repeat.  It is the perfect dessert on a warm day and so refreshing..and to quote Suzanne, "It is the perfect combination of sweet and tart."

Oh, I almost forgot!  When I served it the next day, I put some macerated strawberries on top!  Oh my, that was time I make it....blueberries on top! (Sadly, I thought of the picture after I ate it!)

I mentioned Suzanne's awesome blog and I need to mention her fantastic quilt store, Strawberry Patches.  The collection of fabrics in her store makes you want to make everything!  It is so hard for me to focus in and select just "one something".  Maybe that is why I have so many quilts in "queue"!  She offers numerous classes, tutorials, a supportive blog and patterns.  She doesn't limit herself to quilts, take a look and you will find adorable baby and children's clothes, purses...a plethora of ideas and fabrics!

Today I am participating in Foodie Friday, Fat Camp Friday, Full Plate Thursday, and Sweets for a Saturday.  After all of that...I think I need more ice cream!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chipotle Honey Glazed Chicken and the Elephant Foot

When I was single, I collected, raised and loved houseplants.  I still love houseplants but I must admit that I no long have over fifty houseplants living with me!  I enjoyed finding unusual plants, learning about them and finding different ways to display them.  I must admit to having made my share of macrame plant hangers!

This elephant foot plant, was not in my collection of houseplants, it was in the Kitchen Gnome's.  He also had a love for all things green and collected unusual plants.  The elephant foot plant was in a two-inch pot when we got married.  It is thirty six years old...isn't it amazing that we have had it so long!  What is most amazing is that it flowered this year!!  I was so excited when I saw the flower forming.

I spied the flower when I went out to the BBQ to see how much longer the chicken would be.  I became totally distracted by the flower!

I did pull myself away from the plant long enough to have dinner.  The Kitchen Gnome gets credit for creating this delicious chicken dish!  You see, he didn't want to waste the glaze that we used on the rib-eyes and he had made a rub earlier that he wanted to use, also.

Chipotle Honey-Glazed Chicken

3 chicken breasts

1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

Mix the rub ingredients together in a small bowl.  Rub it on the chicken breasts.

1/2 cup honey
1 Tbsp chipotle puree
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp kosher salt

To make the glaze, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl to combine.  Allow the glaze to rest for at least thirty minutes.

Grill the chicken breasts until golden on both sides.  During the last few minutes of cooking, brush the glaze over the chicken, liberally.  Remove from the grill and brush with additional glaze.

Some of the glaze can be reserved and made available at the table for those who would like extra!

I went out today to take a look and found "some flower", Wow!

The bulbous base of the plant is why the plant is known as the elephant foot plant.  Beaucarnea recurvata is native to the desert of Mexico.  Being native to the dry Mexican climate the plant does well in hot areas and doesn't require a lot of water.

It is also referred to as the Ponytail Palm but it is not a member of the palm family.

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.