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+++Enter At Your Own Risk+++ At the gentle nudging (I said gentle y'all) of a few friends, I have started these blogs in order to share my culinary goings-on and daily misadventures through my own brand of humor (ok, sarcasm). I just write about stuff! At 50, I have learned that living has gotten in the way of life - and I am going to blaze my own personal trail to fun (hopefully)! If it is feminine, great. If it is not, so much the better! Hopefully fun that does not land me in jail............

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What The ??????: David IS Goliath?

Seriously? This is what I found on a trip to Sam's Club with my mother the other weekend...

Do you see how much eating and spitting someone would have to do to get to the bottom of this bucket-O-seeds?

Maybe this is professional Baseball Team size?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Simply Great Food Stuff: Paprika by Szeged

I picked this product up in Germany one of my many trips earlier this new century!  I found this at Earth Fare in Turkey Creek (Knoxville).

Hungarian Goulash anyone?  This is much bolder than the usual Spanish type...  They do have a HOT version!
Szeged also produces "rubs" which I have seen locally.  http://www.columbiaspice.com/prideofszeged.html

Monday, March 21, 2011

What The ??????: Edgar Allan Poe-esque?

And the series continues...

Who is drawn to this package?  What is the target market group?  Macabre Poets from the American Romantic Movement?

Legendary Southern Foods: Chicken & Dumplings

One of the most sought after and hotly debated foods in the South come packaged in a stock pot at your nearby family get-together. The old women made them and passed the recipe, techniques and secrets down to their kin over the generations. Today some folks create these little bowls of heaven, and some were never told firmly enough to give up the ghost and move on to some other dish...

Chicken and Dumplings

Growing up I refused to eat Chicken and Dumplings.  I think the reason is there are two kinds and I Hate one/Love the other. I must have gotten the wrong one early on... I will explain.

Possible Culprit #1 - A lot of people make PUFFY chicken and dumplings.  The dumplings are made with what I assume include either self rising flour or with leavening agents of the cook's choosing. They are lighter and airier like biscuits. I really do not like them. I think I associated DUMPLINGS with puffy biscuits in thick soup.

Possible Culprit #2 - For some reason some folks go as far as to put yellow food coloring in the broth. Why?  Does yellow denote chicken?  I think it reminds me of overly dried chicken skin. Gross.  Why add an unatural chemical to your dish? Glowing Dumplings look like they came straight out of a radiated section of "The Manhattan Project". I googled but never found a reason for the addition of the food coloring.  People, stop doing it! Most of us city and country folk make fun of this brightly colored dish no matter how good it might taste.

Possible Culprit #3 - Why complicate that which is perfection in its simplicity?  While poking around the InterWeb I found a recipe published by Paula Dean. I am sure it is a great recipe for dumplings. But, back in the day, my people used what they had and kept food simple. I believe in simplicity and using what you have, not stocking up on what will go bad.  But, in all fairness, here is her recipe to try. Again, I am sure it is fabulous, but I am not biting... http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/recipe_print/0,1946,FOOD_9936_26265_PRINT-RECIPE-FULL-PAGE,00.html

I have learned that I LUV the Slickers. My person LUVS the puffy dumplings.  At some point I will have to make the puffy ones for him.

A little hint here when making dumplings:
  • Do NOT wear clothing that you want to keep clean when working with flour and dough. You are going to get dough or flour or both on you unless you are one seriously orderly cook.  
  • You might want to get an apron if you are anal about staying clean.  
  • Personally, I leave a disaster in my wake. It IS worth it and other people WILL clean it up to ensure their rights to eat the dumplings. 
  • You might want to leave the cell phone and laptop alone in another room while cooking as well. Just say'n...
A few years ago I came across a recipe that used all purpose flour, salt, water and nothing else. I was also lucky enough to be given THE secret to tasty dumpling dough.  I will keep that little tidbit to myself until one of you asks for it. In the end, my dumplings came out like tasty jumbo egg noodles, only I think better.

Let's get down to business!


1 cut-up or whole chicken
Black pepper
Plain flour
Ice water
*You will need a rolling pin and a floured surface.


Wash and place the cut up chicken in Dutch-Oven with plenty of water to boil. Add salt to boiling chicken (to taste), black pepper and a half to whole stick of butter. Make sure there is enough water in pot to create ample broth for dumplings. Water can be added throughout the process - so don't stress here. Maintain a low boil. This means, if you leave the lid off the pot, it isn't boiling so violently that it is splashing everywhere. I personally keep the lid on the pot.  I have cats. Enough said.

Here is the annoying part (pawn this off on anyone you trust with hand washing and good vision):
When chicken is tender and well done (approximately 90 minutes into cooking), remove it from the broth and let it cool. Once cool to the touch, remove the bones, skin, fat and anything that you just simply cannot identify. I pour the broth through a strainer to make sure there are no bones in the broth.  I put the good meat back in the broth (or you can set it aside while you make the dumplings and add it back when the dumplings are basically done - it is up to you).

FYI, I do not care for skin or fat. ALL that either goes into trash, is used to make more broth, or is flung at the cats. If you choose to make more broth, simply toss all the bones, skin and etc. into a pot of water and boil it for an hour. Sieve that broth and pour it into the dutch oven with the original broth as well! It adds more flavored liquid that can be reduced (boiled down) for intensity.

Warning:  Do NOT give your pets chicken bones.  Chicken bones are dangerous to them.  I am joking about flinging bits at the cats.  I give my animals the good meat.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour **
1 teaspoon salt mixed into flour
Ice water

Turn the heat up on your broth to warm it to a rolling boil while you make the dumplings.

I sift flour and salt together as to not get a lump of salt somewhere. I doubt it would happen - but why chance it. Can you imagine the face of the unlucky pal who bites into a salt pocket in a dumpling?  Wait, that could be entertaining actually...

Then I stir in enough water to make a stiff dough.

Place dough on the floured surface, dust the top of the dough (and the palms of your hands) with flour and knead it in, making sure the dough is stiff. You might have to dust the board, pin, hands and dough several times while in the process of making dumplings. Roll out with floured rolling pin until very thin, about an 1/8 of an inch.
That is a bit much on the floured surface!

Note:  You ARE covered in flour at this point.  I promise you are.

Cut rolled-out dough into about 1 inch by 1 inch (+-) strips and let them dry for a few minutes. They should be partially covered with flour.  The size is really a matter of preference so do not start measuring with a ruler...

When the broth is boiling, slowly drop the dumplings into the broth at a slow pace. As they cook they will become somewhat stiff; that's what you want. DON'T add too many at one time as it lowers the temperature of the mixture and slows the boil. If the mixture does not boil, the dumplings might stick to either each other or the pot.

If some flour drops into the pot - no problem. This is a good thing. Helps thicken the broth. The heat should be about medium to medium-high (whatever it takes on your stove to boil the liquid). As the dumplings cook, turn the heat down gradually. Cover pot and let dumplings begin to change to a somewhat almost translucent deal. Yea, this is where experience comes into play. They thicken as they are done.
Daughter made these in RI.  They were great!

*Note - Alternative - if you do not have space for working dough, or a rolling pin, simply pinch off pieces of dough and mash them into flat-ish blobs - and drop them as you go into broth.

**NOTE - These are what are known as slickers. The dumplings are giant egg noodle like creatures. If you like the puffy style of dumplings, simply use "self-rising" flour instead of "all purpose" to get a puffier dumpling.

*** Option: Add chicken breasts, thighs, drumsticks or what-have-you for extra meat if you like. You can also cook a couple of chickens up, process as above to the point of clearing the good meat from the bone and "leavings" then divide the broth and meat into two pots. One to freeze (without dumplings in it) and one to make NOW. This takes only a tiny bit more time than making a single batch and saves you a lot of time the next time you make the dish.

****Option 2:  Use canned biscuit dough. Simply roll it flat and cut into strips. This is a viable option when in a hurry, but does not save tons of time considering how much time it takes to prep chicken.

BONUS:  Check this website out concerning choosing, buying and storing flour! http://whatscookingamerica.net/Bread/FlourTypes.htm

Reducing (bowling down) the broth will strengthen the flavor AND the salt taste. Go light on salt.
You can substitute or add bouillon or store-bought broth. Bouillon adds salt. Again be careful.
If the dish is too thick or salty, add water when heating it up. Simple.

Make sure you really like the people you are feeding this to because you will see them again - every time you make this dish.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Simply Great Food Stuff: Chocolate!

My daughter introduced me to this yummy chocolate. Great for cooking or eating!

The company is now owned by Hershey so I understand...  BUT, this product is NOTHING like Hershey!

What The ??????: Werewolf Much?

Another installment in this series of photos:

I was waiting on some friends when I snapped a series of food photos in the local Fresh Market.
This coffee art is a tad creepy...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bruschetta Chicken Salad Isn't Just for Lunch!

Why can't I have salad for breakfast?  Oh, wait, I can and just did!

I do not like green eggs and ham for breakfast. I will take great biscuits and gravy and sausage or a slab of country ham any day of the week. And sometimes I will even do really good bacon and fried potatoes. But a salad for breakfast?  Why the heck not y'all?!? Those of use that have reached the age of majority and do not live with our parents can do anything we damn well please.  Okay, within reason.

So I futzed through the house at 0900 hours (that is 9:00am for you non military peeps) and thought "man my stomach is grouchy and empty".  As I dig in the Frigidaire, I find 4 pounds of stuffed grape leaves, yogurt, left-over chicken and dumplings, fresh chicken sausage, and the list goes on. I could not figure out what to eat - then it hit me!  I have all that chicken still - tomatoes - etc.  But, I did not want hot and I did not want bread. I dug in the fridge deeper and found fresh spinach!

Now that's what I am talking about!

Earlier this week while I was busy considering Bruschetta Chicken as only an entrée or sandwich, I was missing the obvious.  Talk about the gift that keeps on giving! Here I have cooked up those 4 large skinless/boneless chicken breasts, as I described a few blogs ago and I am still eating on them and not getting bored. That little short bit of effort has paid off day after day.  Life is good.

Bruschetta Tossed Chicken Salad (any time of the day)

I tossed spinach leaves into a large bowl.

I pulled out enough of the chunks of chicken to suit my taste and cut them a little smaller. I heated them up just a tad in the micro to knock the cold off and was sure to pull some of that cooked garlic with them. I tossed them onto the greens.

I cut up a whole Roma tomato (because I LUV tomatoes) and tossed it with pink Australian sea salt, ground pepper and the basil-in-a-tube paste to taste.  I then tossed that mixture onto the soon to be salad.

I shredded mozzarella cheese over all that.  Yum!!!!!

Finally?  I poured maybe 3/4 Tbls of olive oil and the same of balsamic into the bowl that had the tomato/basil mixture and stirred it around getting all the left over basil paste from inside the bowl. I poured THAT over the salad and back to bed I went.

Now, even though I am a balsamic vinegar maniac, I should have cut the balsamic vinegar by about half. It was a bit much. A lot too much. But, I enjoyed the salad a lot none-the-less!

Awesomeness in leftovers!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cold Chinese Noodles (Hiyashi Chuuka) from Erica (my infamous daughter)

This is a recipe my daughter posted and I tried. It was awesome... I can eat it OVER AND OVER...

Before you read it and freak out - let me say that I get lazy with this recipe. I chop up the veggies and such however I feel like doing it. I am a little less concerned with presentation when my tummy is grumbling. I also make up the sauce a few hours ahead or a day ahead to mellow the garlic and I also keep it for a week or more (evil me) in the fridge - eating away at it. 

Warning, TMI Moment: Mellowing the garlic out makes it easier on my delicate gastrointestinal constitution.

I have tried it with steak cut up in the noodles also - YUM! And, I have changed the sauce because it is too sweet for me as written below. I know, I know, I eat chocolate and drink coke - but seriously, I like this sauce as follows:
2 medium clove of garlic, minced
1 - 1.5 Tbsp. sugar 
2 Tbsp. vinegar (white or rice, cider if you're in a pinch)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
a pinch of salt
a few drops of sesame oil

Also, do not be afraid to change up toppings... You do not have to use all of these or even any of these - although, so far my favorites are cucumbers, steak, avocado, TOMATOES and spring onions.

Thanks Erica - daughter!

Here is what Erica writes in her FB notes:
This dish is probably my single favorite from my Japanese cooking and language course. It's the one I made for you, dad, when you were very ill a few years ago. For ages I couldn't find my recipe, so I had to rely on incomplete and imbalanced versions I found online, or Frankenstein monsters I created from memory. At last, however, I found the recipe and have translated it here for your pleasure. ;D

The recipe is easy enough for a young kid to do with minimal supervision but sophisticated enough for adults. Hiyashi chuuka is a traditional summer food and makes a great appetizer or light brunch/lunch. If you're a ramen-eater and you've run out of ways to cook your cheap food of choice, this recipe is for you.

Makes 4-6 lunch servings (unless you're like me and really like your noodles)

Noodles and Toppings
4 packets of ramen (I have also used udon noodles for this, also wonderful)
sesame oil

Note: All of the below are optional, but some combination of these toppings should make their way into your hiyashi chuuka for optimal nomming. The starred ingredients are for making an omelette to put on the noodles, which in my opinion is completely awesome. If you like tamago sushi, you'll like egg omelet on your chuuka.
1 cucumber, peeled, seedy center removed, and cut into matchstick-width sticks
1 carrot, matchstick cut
3 eggs*
cooking oil*
1/4 lb. ham (nice deli ham works very well, so will leftover ham) thinly sliced into ribbons
2 green onions, sliced into thin diagonal rounds
green or red leaf lettuce cut into ribbons
1 ripe avocado, diced large

1 medium clove of garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. sugar (I substituted honey and brown sugar for the usual white sugar today, and it was surprisingly fine)
2 Tbsp. vinegar (white or rice, cider if you're in a pinch)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
a pinch of salt
a few drops of sesame oil

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl, mix well until the sugar and salt are dissolved, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This sauce can be prepared in advance with no ill effects, just be sure to eat it within a couple of days. If you want to increase the amount of sauce, just up the ingredients according to the 3:2:1 liquid ratio.

Set aside or discard the ramen flavoring packets, as we won't be using those. Bring water to a boil in a large pot, boil the ramen for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water in a colander until all the noodles are cold. Set aside to drain for a minute, then pour the noodles into a bowl and stir in enough sesame oil that all of the noodles are lightly coated. This usually takes at least a couple tablespoons of oil.

If you are making the omelet, beat your 3 eggs with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan over medium-low. I often use sesame oil, but because that oil has such a low smoke point, you may find corn or canola oil to be more manageable here. Once the oil has heated up, swirl it around the pan gently, then pour in the egg mixture. Make sure the omelet is reasonably thin--it should be roughly 1/2 a centimeter thick, so swirl the egg mix around the bottom of the pan if you need to. After the bottom has solidified and the top becomes a bit opaque, use a spatula to lift the omelet and turn it completely over like a pancake--don't worry if the top is still runny. Cook for a minute or two more, then turn off the heat and allow the omelet to finish under its own power and cool. Once it is cooled enough to touch, slice the omelet into long, thin ribbons.

Prep your toppings. The thing to keep in mind is that this dish was originally designed to eat with chopsticks, and hence all of the ingredients should be cut "hosonagai"--thin and long, as if they were noodles. That is how your ham, omelet, cucumbers, and any other vegetable ingredients should be cut. Avocado won't stand up to that treatment, so a large dice works well instead.

Divide the noodles among bowls, top with the sauce, and arrange your toppings in bowls or on a 

plate to your liking. Serve and let your guests/family choose what they'd like on their hiyashi chuuka. Enjoy!

Kimshee is Our Friend

I thought I would throw out a little follow-up on the Kimchee/kimshee adventure of January 3rd, 2011.

As it turns out, that Kimshee lasted about a month in the refrigerator.  It did not go bad, it just got better and better and eventually found itself gone...

About three weeks ago I remade the same recipe except this time the following things were done differently:

  1. I bought the Napa Cabbage and went straight home to process it in a big bucket with sea salt instead of being a lazy arse and letting part of cabbage go bad. 
  2. I forget the Diakon Radish. BTW, why is it called rAAAdish and not rAEdish with a long "A"? So, when I went out I picked up the radish and added it the next day. No harm, no foul.  It worked!   
  3. The ratio of fresh ginger was higher and diced not sliced in the second batch. I say "fresh" but it was in the refrigerator leftover from the January 3 batch.
  4. The jar sat out on the counter fermenting for a week instead of just three days.

This past Saturday I tried it and drew the following conclusion:

  • It was a bit heavy in ginger in my opinion - however - I am not accustomed to ginger, so it may just be a preference issue.
  • It was a little darker than I remembered the first batch.
  • It tasted awesome in all other respects.
  • I did not get sick on it!

So, I call this a win and a success!

What did I learn?
Cut down on the ginger and even my picky mother will eat it with her meals.
Make a jar about every three weeks and I will have Kimshee year round.
Time to branch into a new recipe to see what happens.
Fish oil is interesting.

What The??????

So for giggles and grins, I am adding a humor section here. 

As I come across foods of particular interest, I will post them.

Let's start with this one! I found these at our local Asian food market that I luv to shop in.

Seriously?  What are we supposed to do with Coconut Sport Balls y'all?

Hacky Sack?


Geisha Balls?

Fishing Bait?

They do come in a jar with an "Easy Open Cap"! This is particularly helpful if your hands are well lubricated?

Just say'n...

Bruschetta Chicken - or - Heaven?

Bruschetta Chicken (Entrée or Sandwich)

Okay, let me start by saying YUM!?!  EASY!?!  ELEGANT!?!

So I was talking to a workmate one day and the topic of food came up (as it so often does with me). She told me about this chicken recipe that a friend of hers would fix now and again and how great/easy it was.  Being one who cannot listen and learn, but must “see and do” to even half understand, I started poking around on the Inter-Web to find what she was talking about.  I came across a recipe and it went up hill from there!

I had a wild hair last night after an underwhelming and unmotivated day at work (which is not the norm). I was CRAVING Bruschetta Chicken and GOING to have that Bruschetta Chicken on BREAD!  I also made the command decision to go to get the chicken from J&M Butcher instead of the grocery store. Their chicken is a little less expensive, but an added benefit is the meats there do not have preservatives and additives. Down-side?  The meat must be used faster.  The Up-side? Who wants chemicals in their food? I do not want to preserve my body through chemical laden food if I can help it. Ok, in all honesty, the beauty here is – you cannot see that I am eating a TV dinner as I type this.

ANYWHO, 3 stops later I rolled up to my house with the ingredients for a good night of digestive goodness. Let the good times roll y’all!

I crushed, peeled and sliced the garlic.

I cut the huge chicken breasts down into nice slices. While as an entrée the whole breast looks nice, it is a bit much I think on a sandwich. I like to eat more and more, but I cannot hold a ton at one sitting. These four pounds are enough to take me a week! Plus, it takes less time to cook slices of the breast as opposed to the whole chunk.

I heated the pan with olive oil and some of the garlic.  Ended up over-cooking the garlic on too high a temp and had to start that seemingly simple process over! I lowered the heat and prepared a little extra garlic and put aside. Scooped the burnt garlic out of the oil and used the olive oil in the pan to cook the chicken. At least it was already garlicky! Yes, that is a spell-checked word!  GARLICKY…

In went two breasts’ worth of meat as that is all the pan would hold. Did I tell you these were huge?

Yea, it's rude...
I should be so lucky.  

Damn Chickens…

I sprinkled some sea salt over the cooking breast meat. I have become fascinated with sea salts. I currently have 4 kinds including Pink Australian, Smoked Oak and Black Lava salts. The way I choose what salt goes into a dish relies more on color and that hoodoo voodoo feeling I get than any science or even art.  I just wave my hands over the containers and land on the one that vibrates right.

I commenced to stirring the chicken around, tossing and flipping until the meat was done. Picked it out carefully (leaving as much liquid behind as possible for the flavor), added a little more olive oil to the pan and repeated the process with the second half of the meat.

After the meat is basically cooked, I tossed the first batch back in the pan and tossed most of the fresh garlic in and stirred around over the heat.  I did leave a little garlic in the bowl to use later.

In between tossing and turning the cooking meat, I cut up one of my tomatoes.  I had four, but since I was just cooking for me, it made no sense to cut up a lot of tomatoes. I could cut them fresh later for an encore with left over chicken!  I sprinkled the tomatoes with the sea salt.  Do you see a trend here?  This is really just a “to taste” or “per dietary restrictions” sort of measure. People, I really like sea salt. Normally I would use fresh basil leaves but the store had some pretty sad looking basil. Options include dried basil (eh…) or crushed basil in a tube found in the herb section of the vegetable coolers in your supermarket.  I used the crushed basil and mixed it with the tomatoes along with a few twists of the pepper mill.

At this point I also worked in shredding my own mozzarella instead of using bagged. It is a little extra work, but is often cheaper.

For the entrée you would place whole (or group pieces of) chicken breasts on a plate, top with the tomato, basil, salt and pepper mixture, heat under broiler, top with mozzarella, heat under broiler a bit longer and serve.

Tonight I took Chiabata bread and cut open, then toasted in the pan I used for the chicken. I just added a little olive oil and butter, let it heat and it picked up the garlic remnants and flavors.
Bruschetta Chicken
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (Fresh or frozen but thawed)
  • A little salt – Pinch or two (I used smoked salt, but sea salt in general is a good option)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese (or lower moisture brick mozzarella or a bag of shredded mozzarella of choice)
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and thinly sliced into chiffonade (or cheat like I did and go with basil in a tube)
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic, crushed then minced or sliced.
  • Pinch of salt

  • ¼ Cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

 1. Preheat a pan with olive oil.
*Option: Combine balsamic and olive oil in a bowl. Season both sides of chicken with pinches of salt and place on grill. Brush top sides of chicken with balsamic mixture.

2. Cook for 4-5 minutes and flip chicken. Brush with additional balsamic and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. If you are going the balsamic option, brush additional mixture on now.

3. Combine the chicken with garlic and cook a tad.  Remove from heat.

4. In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, basil garlic, salt and balsamic. Toss gently to combine. Place chicken breasts on a serving plate and top with tomato mixture. Serve warm.

** Options:
  1. For a sandwich, pick the bread of your choice, load with all the ingredients and either eat open faced or sandwich style with or without toasting bread or broiling.
  2. Combine olive oil and balsamic vinegar together to create a brush on marinade while cooking.
  3. Cook chicken on grill.
  4. Add a drizzle of olive oil/balsamic mixture to the entrée or sandwich instead of marinating with it.
  5. Add a bed of spinach leaves to the entrée or on the sandwich.

Okay, as a side note, I walked through the house moaning and gloating over this creation. It was shameless, entertaining, and just plain fun.  This meal works well for me as I can cook up the meat and keep it in the fridge for several meals. Less work, more meals, cost is not bad at all.

This summer I see a basil garden happening.

Pickled Eggs Revisited

On January 10th I posted my experience with a Pickled Eggs and Red Beets recipe from Cooks.com.

As a follow-up, I would like to let you all know that the eggs NOW (2 months and 8 days later) taste awesome. They are still very mild but I find myself putting them in an egg slicer and then snacking on them. I am ready to try a slightly stronger recipe next however. The onions are still not worthy. I will not add them again. The beets are yummy. Time to move the eggs to a smaller jar and start again this weekend!

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