Sunday, May 31, 2009

Camp out and Blogging Discouragement and Encouragement

I took a two-week break from my blog, in part due to Memorial Day camp out
tiredness and letdown. We could only stay one night because of a going-away party the next day but some of the people we were eager to meet up with could not make it until the next day---meaning no singing and guitar playing for hubby and none of Mr. W.'s famous chili. Last time we were at Wichita Mountain Wildlife Reserve, I helped Mr. W. make the chili during a huge downpour. We were drenched to the bone and the chili turned out a little too soupy but still good. I've been dreaming of that venison chili!

Another downer was we got to the campsite much later in the day. By that time most of the campers had eaten. I hurried to grill some Vinaigrette Marinated Chicken and a five-minute stir-fried noodle dish on the camp stove and forgot to take pictures of the food before it was all gone. I was going to grill some steaks but too but everyone was already full. The only food photo I managed to take was shot of a few lonely hot dogs on the grill to show for our meal
. Oh well!

A positive thing about our short stay at the campsite was that teen had a good time hanging out with his friends, playing Mafia, some boy scout tricks and learning some jazz pieces on the guitar. Also,
at least I was able to visit with my dear friends Rhonda, Eva, Wes, Patricia and the girls.

Discouragement is my other reason for taking a break from blogging -- I felt I was not really making a difference in helping others go out of their comfort zone to try out new recipes, not touching people's lives as I was getting very few feedback from foodies, etc.

That all changed last night. Two things happened---1) I got an inspiring email from John D. who stumbled upon my blog --- 2) We went to dinner at Interurban with Kim N. and our friends. Kim said she was so glad I posted Debbie H.'s Carrot Zucchini Walnut Bread recipe. She brought the bread to friends who found it absolutely delicious! Kim was also wondering why I had not been posting lately.

So.. I'm back to blogging. ....
to all of you who have given me feedback one way or another from time to time, my sincere, heartfelt thanks for your friendship...sometimes a foodie needs a bit of encouragement too... it really doesn't take much to make my day so to anyone reading this, if you drop me a line once in a while when you can, I will be ecstatic to hear from you......

Here's the Vinaigrette Marinated Chicken recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1 lb skinless chicken breast, cut into half lengthwise
2 Tbsp lime juice
4 Tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
4 cloves freshly minced garlic
2 tsp sugar
4 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp chopped mint leaves

Place chicken and the rest of ingredients in a plastic resealable food storage bag. Shake to combine and place in fridge to marinade at least 3 hours (overnight is better). Allow chicken to come to room temperature for 20 minutes prior to cooking. Grill over charcoal for about 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Elephant-hearts-clipart.gif from Clipart from Clipartheaven.com.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Perfect Omelet (Breakfast Picnic at Hafer Park)

On Sunday, the weather was just gorgeous. After days of endless rains, finally the sun was out. We had a breakfast picnic at Hafer Park. The men prepared a hearty breakfast spread. Whole wheat strawberry and blueberry pancakes, crispy turkey bacon and biscuits were made on site. At the omelet station, David and Jim were preping perfect omelets on a Coleman propane stove. I had a two-egg omelet with everything on it -- green onions, mushroom, tomatoes, turkey ham, turkey bacon, spinach and shredded cheese. It was exceptional-- firm but not dry, creamy on the inside and lightly seasoned. I had it with Jim's salsa fresca with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, jalapenos and scallions --just the right heat and freshness!

I love picnics and for a change it was nice for someone else to make breakfast. I'm so looking to the Memorial Day Campout next week. When was the last time you had a breakfast picnic?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Crispy Fried Anchovies (Hamsi Tava)

I think most coastal cultures have one form of fish fry or variations of it. The Spanish Fritura Andaluza is fried anchovies and hake or shrimps, Fritto Misto di Mare is an Italian version of fried mixed seafood while Fish N' Chips very popular in the UK and Japanese Seafood Tempura are a just few examples.

It's been a while since we had Hamsi Tava (fried anchovies). Traditionally it is made from freshly caught anchovies but that is impossible to get where we live so when I spotted some flash frozen smelt at the International Market last week, I was inspired to make this real simple Turkish dish. If you're lucky to have access to freshly caught fish, do use it!

The recipe has only four ingredients - it can't be more simple than that. Here's what
I'm submitting to Regional Recipes Turkey.

1 lb fresh anchovies (or thawed flash frozen smelt)

kosher salt

cornflour (cornstarch)

canola oil

Wash the fish then gut and cut off the heads. Briefly rinse and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle kosher salt over it and mix with cornstarch. Fry in hot oil till golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). Serve with a wedge of lemon and a salad.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Texas Roadhouse

A couple weeks back we had dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Teen had been wanting to go to the newly opened branch at Perkins. One reason why we never did visit earlier was the mixed reviews from friends about the salmon being over-cooked and the baked potato tasting like a salt mine but the rolls were supposed to be soft and fantastic. The day before, I mentioned to Hubby we should try going there to find out for ourselves. So when Kim asked if we would like to join them at Texas Roadhouse on 270, we were eager to go. On the way there I heard Gerald was lusting for a thick, juicy steak after being on the fifth day of a vegetable and soup diet that's supposed to be good for keeping bad cholesterol in check.

We had to wait for the rest of our party to arrive so it took a while for everyone to get seated. I looked around and noticed the floor was littered with peanut shells. Kids were popping peanuts and stomping on the shells or throwing them at each other. So, that's how they keep the guests entertained while waiting to be seated.

Finally, we were led to our table but our group was too big so they split us up to two tables.
Someone a table away had a birthday and the wait staff made a big fuss about it, letting the guest sit on a saddle, focusing a spotlight on the poor guy and singing to him. Every so often, music would blare out and the wait staff would get together and form a line to sing and dance to the music. Very noisy and a lot of fun!!

The food was to my liking. I ordered Sirloin kabob -- meat was perfectly marinated and cooked just right with a good balance of peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and onions. It went well with my Caesar's salad. Hubby and Teen both had Fort Worth Ribeye --one with baked potato and the other with fries. Cooked medium-well, the steaks were tender and seasoned perfectly but true to a friend's feedback, the baked potato had a salt crust!! The seasoned rice was too complex and overly seasoned for Teen but the Rattlesnake bites (jack cheese mixed with diced jalapenos, lightly fried and served with Cajun horseradish sauce) made up for this. On the plus side too was the soft rolls that were perfect - buttery and soft with honey-cinnamon butter on the side.

Overall, the place was high energy and fun...the crazy ambiance was infectious! The food was very good but if you are on a low-salt diet, better ask your server about your options or request for the cook to go gentle with the salt.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Healthy Carrot Zucchini Walnut Bread

My friend
Debbie H. brought this delicious and healthy bread loaded with zucchini, carrots and walnuts. You can actually see the pieces of shredded carrots and zucchini in this hearty bread! It's moist and not too sweet.... so good I scarfed down 2 slices and I had a hard time resisting another slice!

Debbie is very generous with her recipes and I've never tried any that were not keepers--specially her White Bean Chili and King Ranch Chicken!
She emailed me the recipe from one of her cookbooks and I'm posting it here. You must try this--it's so healthy, you won't feel guilty eating it. So here it is:

Carrot, Zucchini and Walnut Bread

1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large egg whites

1-1/2 cup carrots, shredded

1 cup zucchini, shredded

1/2 cup walnut, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray.

Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together the next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the applesauce mixture to the flour mixture. Stir in the carrots, zucchini and walnuts till blended.

Bake 50-60 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.