Sunday, October 26, 2014

Asian Chicken Layer Dip

Asian Chicken Layer Dip
Katie had an amazing birthday. She was surrounded by truly outstanding people and pretty good food. I wish I could say the highlight was the food-- it wasn't. It was the fire show.  Two of Katie's favorite people (before anyone gets upset Katie has a lot of a favorite people and we don't don't list them in order) -- Kevin and Shawna put on a fire show. It was amazing. They are amazing. My food couldn't compete. Shawna also makes cigar box guitars which Steven is now the proud owner of because Christine (another one of Katie's favorite people) won it in a raffle and gave it to him.  It is lovely (see the picture below).
Cigar Box Guitar
So the food theme was Asian. I broadly defined "Asian."  I made a lot of food. Fortunately, I wrote down all of the recipes as I developed them. Unfortunately, I was in such a rush that I did not take pictures. So I have been in the process of slowly remaking the favorite dishes and posting. It will take time.

My favorite dish of her party was the Asian Chicken Layer Dip. I made this (again and took pictures) for Christine's and Kevin's anniversary.  I have to admit; I didn't quite follow the recipe below because I was in the hurry up and get it made mode.  Why? Because, I was running late as usual.

A couple of tips: I use a rotisserie precooked chicken from the grocery store; make sure you add the milk to the cream cheese otherwise it won't spread well; if you don't like cilantro you can substitute parsley; and you can substitute your favorite nut or dried ramen noodles for the almonds. I tried making the wonton chips with cooking spray, olive oil, and butter.  I prefer just vegetable oil.

Asian Chicken Layer Dip with Crispy Wontons

Chicken Layer

The Chicken from One Rotisserie Chicken, Shredded or Two Cups of Cooked Chicken, Chopped
2/3 Cup (60g) of Grated Carrots
1/4 Cup (15 g)  of Chopped Cilantro
1 Clove of Garlic Minced
2 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
1 Tsp of Sesame Oil
1/4 Tsp of Ginger


1/4 Cup of Brown Sugar
2 Tsp of Cornstarch
1/4 Cup of Ketchup
2 Tbsp of Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
Sriracha, To Taste
1 Cup of Water


1 8oz (227g) Package of Cream Cheese, Softened
1 Tbsp of Milk

3-4 Green Onions, Chopped
1/4 Cup (22 g) of Sliced Almonds


Combine the chicken layer and refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight.
Combing the ingredients for the chicken layer
Meanwhile, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat until thickened. Allow to cool (this can be made the day before).
I could drink this sauce
Before serving, combine the base ingredients and mix well. Spread in the bottom of round serving dish no larger than 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter.

Mixing the cream cheese and milk to make the base

Top with chicken layer. Drizzle sauce over the chicken layer.

Drizzling the sauce 

Finally, sprinkle toppings on top of chicken layer.  Serve with wonton chips.

Wonton Chips

One Package of Wonton Wrappers
Vegetable Oil

Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4.  Get out several cooking sheets and cover with foil and spray with cook spray. Cut the  wonton wrappers in half diagonally.
Cutting the wrappers in half
Rub each wrapper with oil and place on cooking sheet. Cook in preheated oven for approximately 7 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.  Check the wontons often; they burn easily.

Finished chips

The bottom line: will I make this again?  Yes, it is a lot of work but it is so worth it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

One Pan Pork Tenderloin with Fall Vegetables

Pork Tenderloin with Fall Vegetables
This is an easy yummy dish to make that highlights the best of fall. I can usually draft my husband to help with all of the chopping and that makes the preparation go that much quicker. Add some good music (we have speakers in the kitchen so I can listen to music while I cook) and I am in cooking heaven. 

2 Tbps of Oil
Approximately 1.5 lbs (.70 kg) of Pork Tenderloin
2 Tbsp of Butter
1 Medium Onion, Cut in Chunks
2-4 Carrots, Cut in Chunks
2 Stalks of Celery, Cut in Chunks
3 Cloves of Garlic, Sliced
3-5 New Potatoes, Cut in Chunks
2-3 Apples, Cored and Cut in Chunks
2 Sprigs of Thyme
2 Sprigs of Rosemary
3 Sprigs of Parsley
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C/ Gas Mark 6.

Pour oil into large cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat. Salt and pepper the pork tenderloin and sear in the skillet.

Searing the pork tenderloin; the veggies are chopped
Remove pork and add butter, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and potatoes. Cook for about 8 minutes until vegetables begin to brown.
Browning the veggies

Add the apples. Push the vegetables aside so the pork tenderloin is in the middle.  Add the herbs.

Ready for the oven
Place in the oven and cook until the pork reaches 140-150F 60-65C in the center. This should take about 30 minutes.

Ready to eat

The bottom line: will we make this again? Yes, in fact I have made it several times.  It is both a yummy and beautiful dish.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Summer Clam Pasta

Summer Clam Pasta 

It is tomato season. Oh how I love tomato season. I have some beautiful assorted tomatoes from my garden and the CSA. I halved the tomatoes and used them. If you want to use full size tomatoes, I suggest skinning them and dicing them. Also I have some beautiful herbs. I decided to use a combination of herbs in this recipe and it was wonderful. You can use whatever you have on hand or think would be a good mixture.  I only had one can of clams (this recipe really needs two). I really liked the addition of the lemon juice but you don't have to add it.  I used a combination of hard white cheeses from our CSA (a combination of goat and cow milk cheeses) so don't feel that you are limited to only using Parmesan cheese. I have a winter version of this pasta that uses canned tomatoes. It is good but lacks that fresh summer tomato and herb taste.

Summer Clam Pasta

2 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
3 Garlic Cloves, Thinly Sliced
1 Medium Onion, Diced
1/2 to 1 lb ( kg) of Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
Juice of One Lemon
Dash of Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
2 6.5 oz (184 g) Cans of Clams, Divided
A Sprig or Two of Fresh Basil
A Couple of Shoots of Fresh Chives, Chopped
A Sprig of Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
A Couple of Sprigs of Fresh Parsley, Chopped
A Sprig of Fresh Oregano, Chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 Cup of Cheese, Grated
16 oz (454 g) Pasta, Cooked

Place oil and butter in a skillet over medium low heat. Add garlic, onions, salt, and pepper and sauté until caramelized.

Add the cherry tomatoes, the juice from two cans of clams and lemon juice. Raise the heat to medium and add the pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Simmer about 5 minutes. Add the clams and fresh herbs and heat for 5 minutes. Add pasta and combine. Grate cheese on the top.

The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes, I love this pasta. I really liked the bite from the lemon.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sweet Summer Tomato Sauce

The finished dish- Spaghetti and Meatballs
This has been a great year for tomatoes and cucumbers. I am swimming in them.  It makes me so happy.  I have already made my roasted tomato sauce and so I decided to convert my sweet tomato sauce into fresh tomato sauce. I worked out the recipe and my daughter made it.  It was lovely. She made spaghetti and meatballs (she used my favorite meatball recipe).  She did a great job. It is absolutely amazing to watch your child on the road to adulthood. Cooking and baking is one of those big milestones. I don't really want her leaving our house without knowing how to cook for herself. 

Sweet Summer Tomato Sauce

2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2 lbs (.9 kg) of Fresh Tomatoes 
1 1/2 Tsp of Fresh Basil 
1 1/2 Tsp of Fresh Oregano 
1 1/2 Tsp of Fresh Parsley 
1 Tsp of Fresh Thyme  
1/4 Tsp of Crushed Red Peppers (Optional) 
1/4 Tsp of Salt
A Couple Turns of the Pepper Mill 
1-2 Tbsp of Brown Sugar

Peel the tomatoes-- seed them and strain the seeds. Roughly chop tomatoes and set aside tomatoes and juice.
Straining the seeds
Pour oil into large sauce pan and add the onion. Heat on medium until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic. Heat over medium heat for a couple of minutes until starting to brown (you do not want the garlic to brown).

I prefer sliced garlic
Add the remaining ingredients and heat uncovered over low heat for about 45 minutes. The sauce should not come to a full boil.

Simmering the sauce
Serve over pasta (with lots of grated Parmesan cheese) or use as a pizza sauce or add meatballs to the sauce and have a wonderful meal. 

Add meatballs to the sauce.
The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes. I am making as much as I can and freezing it for the winter.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Deconstructed Sushi

Deconstructed Sushi
My family loves sushi. I was craving sushi one day and came up with the idea of deconstructed sushi. I thought it would be easy and a way for everyone to eat what they want. I figured it would be a bit of work but would be worth it.

So here is what we did.  About 2-3 hours in advance, I made a Kansas City version of poke (the poke we ate in Hawaii was amazing stuff- I think we ate it at least twice a day). 

Right before eating, I started the sushi rice (I had already made the vinegar mixture) and started chopping the veggies. Then you put it all together. 

Midwestern Poke

A Couple of Pieces of Sushi Grade Ahi Tuna  
1/4 Cup (60ml) of Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup of Green Onions, Chopped
2 Tsp of Sesame Oil
1 Tsp Chili Garlic Sauce
Sesame Seeds (Optional)

Pat the tuna dry with a paper towel and then slice into cubed bite sized pieces. Place in a nonreactive bowl and add remaining ingredients (except sesame seeds). Mix together, cover, and place in refrigerator for about 2-3 hours (you can also serve it immediately but I like it better if the flavors have a chance to meld). Add the sesame seeds right before serving.
Sushi Rice

2 Cups of Short or Medium Grain Rice (No long grain rice!)
2 1/2 Cups of Water
1/3 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsps of Sugar
1 Tsp of Salt

Rinse the rice until is runs clear; this step is really important- you need to rinse it several times (I do this in a small mesh colander). I make my rice in a rice cooker- so cook the rice according to your rice cooker instructions. Meanwhile combine rice wine vinegar, salt and sugar in a small saucepan on low heat. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Set aside and let cool.  Remove the rice from the rice cooker and spread out in a large (nonreactive bowl) and combine with the vinegar mixture. Be careful not to smash the rice. If you have a fan, use a fan while you combine the rice with the vinegar. This will give the rice a shiny look.  Use the rice right away.

Stirring the sushi rice
Other Ingredients

Fake Crab (I can't help it I love this stuff any left overs will be used to make Japanese Crab Salad)
Cucumbers, Sliced into Match Sticks
Carrot, Sliced into Match Sticks
Avocado, Diced
Sesame Seeds
Nori Strips
Lettuce (In Case you want to make a lettuce wrap)
Thinly Sliced Green Onions
Bell Pepper (I used Purple Bell Peppers)
Sriricha Sauce

Make your own "sushi" plate platter

The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes, it was so good I actually made it twice in one week. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Flying to South Dakota

Mount Rushmore
Our daughter went off to EAA's Air Academy  (which is an incredible camp for kids interested in aviation) and we decided to fly somewhere for our summer get-away. One of the biggest drawbacks to general aviation is that it is weather dependent. Most of the time you can't make 100% firm plans because you don't know what the weather is going to do.  In my opinion, this is more than offset by the fact you are not flying commercial.

We both really wanted to visit South Dakota. Neither of us had been and it was about a five hour flight. After reviewing the weather, we set off for South Dakota. I am a planner by nature, and until we left we did not know where we would be landing or spending the night.... It is a little uncomfortable (at least for me - Steven didn't mind it at all) but what can you do?  At 4,500 feet it is difficult to get a good enough signal to search for lodging so I had to wait until our fuel stop.  From 4,500 feet the scenery was beautiful.  I loved watching the changes in the landscape as we flew from Missouri, to Nebraska, to South Dakota. Absolutely beautiful country.

We stopped in Kearney, Nebraska for fuel.  The airport had a courtesy car (it was an old police cruiser - a Caprice Classic - think Blues Brothers) and we borrowed it go into town for food. We ate at Thunderhead Brewing. We had a nice pizza and I had a very nice Scottish Ale.  Most importantly, during the layover we were able to find a place to stay in South Dakota -- the Dakota Dream B&B had a last minute cancellation and had a room for two nights. This spontaneous thing was working for us. So we flew into Custer, South Dakota.

We had some weather we had to fly around and had to make an additional stop for gas (the airport was actually out, but the manager kindly sold us some "reserve" avgas they had in a plastic gas jug). So it took about six hours to get to Custer, South Dakota and I was ready to get out and stretch my legs.  According to Steven, it was interesting landing for the first time at altitude and on a runway that (unbeknownst to us) was going decidedly downhill. I was amazed that the two windsocks on the runway were flying in different directions. It probably wasn't Steven's prettiest landing ever but it was a successful one. At the airport there was a very nice gyrocopter - a tiny flying machine that looks like the love child of a Huey and a snowmobile. (It is pictured below with The Dog in the background). We oohed and aahd over it -- it really was quite amazing.

The gyrocopter

After drooling over the gyrocopter, we found our way to the Dakota Dream.  The owners, Ernie and Kathy Mowery, are lovely people and they have a lovely B&B. They greeted us with chocolate chip cookies, mmmmmmmm cookies. They shared their homemade apple pie schnapps (I think it was schnapps) made from Everclear. Yummy! If Kathy sees this maybe she will share the recipe in the comments (hint hint). I really like staying at B&Bs and Dakota Dream was a wonderful place to stay.  It was a bit unnerving at first to look out the window in the bathroom and see deer watching you shower (they feed the deer and there are several milling around the back yard at all hours).

We spent the next couple of days hiking and eating. Custer State Park has amazing trails. We climbed to the top of Harney Peak the first day, tackled Little Devil's Tower the second day and ended the trip with Sunday Gulch. Three very different trails. My favorite was Sunday Gulch which included climbing up an active waterfall. We also had a great time at the Rapid City Summer Nights Festival listening to Trailer Choir.  I laughed all the way through the song "Rockin the Beer Gut."

My recommendations for food and beverage are..... drum roll...... Alpine Inn in Hill City - they have some amazing German food for lunch;
The Reuben
Independent Ale House in Rapid City amazing service, great pizza, and wonderful beer (you have to like a place that has 40 rotating taps and does not have Bud or Bud Light on tap); Sage Creek Grille in Custer the hot artichoke dip with Parmesan was yummy;
Hot Artichoke Dip with Parmesan
and Botticelli Ristorante in Rapid City for Italian.

We did two touristy things: a to visit Mount Rushmore and a trip out to the South Dakota Air and Space Museum near Ellsworth AFB (of course).  They were both very nice.

I hope that we will be back... I guess it all depends on the weather.....

Pineapple Cucumber Salsa

Pineapple Cucumber Salsa
I love this stuff. I serve it with chips.  It is also incredible with grilled fish or chicken.  If you like it hot use two jalapeños or a hotter pepper. The last time I made this we were especially rich in cucumbers so I used several. Looking at these pictures, my cucumber should have been diced (the cumber looks more chopped than diced). I have also been known to use more cilantro. Actually, I have been making this so long I just approximate the amounts.

Pineapple Cucumber Salsa

1 Fresh Pineapple, Diced
1 Cucumber, Peeled, Seeded, and Diced
¼ Cup (60 ml) of Lime Juice
¼ Cup (40 g) of Red or Sweet Onion, Diced
2 Tbsps of Cilantro, Chopped
1 Jalapeño Pepper, Minced
1 Clove of Garlic, Minced
1 Tsp of Sugar
1 Tsp of Lime Zest
¼ Tsp of Salt

Place the pineapple, cucumber, lime juice, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl (I was transporting this to a pot luck dinner so I placed all of the ingredients into a large plastic bag and then poured it into a bowl when I got there). 
I used a plastic bag for easy and spill-free transport
In a smaller bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Combine with the pineapple and cucumber combination.  I like to refrigerate the salsa for a couple of hours for the tastes to mingle before serving.

The bottom line: will I make it again? Yes. Love it.