Fired Up

May 31, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Posted in Seafood | 30 Comments

My two Webers are definitely front and center stage this weekend. I plan to grill, then I’m going to grill and then I think I’ll grill some more. Let’s take a look.

First out of the chutes is Glazed Shrimp. I wanted to keep it light on Friday evening, as  lunch that day was a big old heavy ham and pumpernickel sandwich. So serving up a side of my leftover Pasta Salad and skewers of Glazed Shrimp sounded PERfect. 

I found a beautiful package of jumbo shrimp which were labeled “Gulf Shrimp”. I was surprised to see these available with this oil tragedy, but the seafood counter was just too busy to inquire about their origin. Perhaps from Texas?

Simple please! I find that when grilling shrimp, size and simplicity matter.  We love the delicate and sweet flavor of shrimp and don’t like to overwhelm them with complicated sauces. Sometimes just a slather of melted butter lightly flavored with garlic is nice. Or a quick baste with some olive oil in which some of fresh herbs have been added.  We also like a light brush of Caesar salad dressing adding a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese at the end. Always love a squeeze of fresh lemon. Obviously the larger shrimp are more practical. The recipe below is about as complicated as I get.

This is a quick and easy recipe, had it for years, it’s my go to “dinner in 10 minutes” entrée. Sweet and tangy and I love the shiny finish that seals in the tender texture of the meat.

Shrimp Glaze

3 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic — minced
1 1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned and de-veined

1. Skewered, brush one side of shrimp with mixture, grill two minutes. Turn and brush, cook 2 more min.

I mean really, can anything be simpler and did I mention tasty?

Simple Glazed Shrimp…

It’s What’s For Dinner.

1 year ago  Sauteed Scallops in Orange Cream Sauce


The Best Pasta Salad EVER?

May 28, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Posted in Pasta Salad | 23 Comments
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Grilled burgers, pasta salads, hanging out on the back deck…get your flip-flops on, grab a cold glass of iced tea and Let The Summer Games Begin.

I honestly don’t have a really good pasta salad recipe. I used to. I don’t know what happened to it. I can’t remember what I thought was so darn good about it…I mean really, is there any magic to throwing together a good pasta salad? Do you really need a recipe? Well it seems I do, as nothing I “throw together” is impressing me.

So I decided to Google “best pasta salad recipe EVER”. After looking through a few of the results, this one caught my eye, so gave it a try. I think it showed up in the results because the first few reviewers exclaimed it to be the best pasta salad EVER.

I don’t know if it’s the “Best Pasta Salad EVER” but we really, really liked it.

Re-Googling, I can’t find the recipe to give credit where credit is due. It wasn’t from a food blogger, it was on a recipe site. And, by coincidence, just as I had finished preparation of my pasta salad, I headed to the computer to read a couple of food blogs last night before dinner and Buffalo Dick had just posted hisMacaroni Salad The Way A Guy Does It” pasta salad…so if you’re looking for a more “manly” version…

So here’s my recipe…it’s in my database sporting the title “Best Pasta Salad EVER”  and I suppose it can keep that title until something better comes along.

Before we go any further, I don’t want you looking at me like I have two heads when you see it calls for bottled Coleslaw Dressing. Finished product is quite tasty, and, as always, much better after sitting in the fridge overnight, gotta give those ingredients a chance to get to know each other better. Ok, you can proceed reading.

The Best Pasta Salad EVER?

1 19 ounce package of frozen three-cheese tortellini (Safeway had their five-cheese brand on sale, so that’s what I used)
1 lb bacon
4 cups chopped broccoli
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup bottled coleslaw dressing (I could only find one brand – Hidden Valley)

1. Cook the tortellini according to the package directions, drain, rinse with cold water, and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.

2. Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Chop the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces while still a little warm.

3. Place the tortellini, bacon, broccoli, grape tomatoes, and green onions into a salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the ingredients, and toss lightly to coat. Chill in refrigerator before serving.

Servings: 10

When standing in the frozen pasta section and seeing all the different tortellini flavors, I really think the possibilities are interesting. But for now, I somewhat followed directions.

Why is this so good?  Salty bacon and onions, always a winner, chewy cheese tortellini, fresh crunch of broccoli, colored with red tomatoes, with a creamy sweet and tangy vineager dressing.  Yum. 

Do you have a pasta salad recipe that you think is the best EVER? 

Pasta Salad

It’s What’s For Summer

Stick around for a couple of photos from our picnic today;

Our friend Lee, joined us on a picnic/birdwatching trip to Chatfield State Park today. Along with this pasta salad, I packed a ham sandwich wrapped in a plain white bag, tied off with some string with a sprig of fresh rosemary tucked beneath. I copy-catted this idea from my boss Sheri who was recently in a restaurant in Texas where they served a sandwich wrapped like this. She took a photo of it with her phone and sent it to me…that’s right, I now have people taking photos of food and sending them to me. 

The Riparian area along the South Platte River that flows into Chatfield Reservoir. This grove is lousy with birds.

A photo of  hills behind the lake. We’re kinda funny in Colorado, we call our mountains “hills” and our puny little reservoirs “lakes”. We’re at an angle and so close to the foothills that you can’t see those gorgeous 14,000 ft. snow-capped peaks looming behind.  With its close proximity to the Denver Metro Area, tomorrow this lake will be filled with boats. 

Have a great holiday weekend!

One Year Ago:  Cream Cheese Flan

Los Olivos Cafe Chicken Couscous Salad

May 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Chicken | 17 Comments
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Have you seen the movie “Sideways”?  It’s one of those movies that you either love or hate.    

We happen to fall into the “love it” category so a few years ago we headed to the Santa Barbara area for combination bird watching and wine tasting trip.  Yup, we did the Sideways Wine Tour that led us through the Santa Ynez Valley and beyond.    

We lunched at the Los Olivos Cafe, in Los Olivos.   For all of you familiar with the movie, this is the sight of the first date dinner where Miles “drank and dialed”.  It’s a fabulous restaurant with dining on one side and a wine bar and wine store on the other. The atmosphere was so lively and comfortable we fell in love with Los Olivos Cafe.   

This is actually a historic event for us because it’s the first time I remember loving our food so much that we actually took our first food photo. Seems odd now, since I now photograph food on a daily basis.    


Here’s that first food photo. Take a look at this sandwich that Bob ordered.  Here’s what I remember about it. A brioche type bread, hollowed out and layered with meats, cheeses and peppers. This was served warm and perhaps fried and it resembled an open-faced Monte Cristo somewhat. Out of this world.   

I didn’t take a photo of my lunch that day,  but I did make notes so I could try to recreate it at home. Just this week, and four years later, here’s my attempt. First of all let’s review the description of this dish from their web siteField Greens, Toasted Couscous with Vegetables, Roasted Free Range Chicken with Curry Remoulade and Toasted Almonds.    

Curry Remoulade

Heading over to Google, I quickly found a curry remoulade recipe and went to work.  Great recipe and I know I’ll find other uses for it.    


It’s been too long ago to remember my exact lunch at Los Olivos Cafe to know how close I came to their version. But I do know what I served up was delicious and will go into my database carrying its namesake. Here’s what I did:   

Los Olivos Cafe Salad:   

1 roasted chicken breast — sliced
Large toasted couscous (cooked according to package directions)
5 – 6 Broccoli crowns, steamed
Feta cheese
Toasted almonds   

Curry Remoulade:
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp curry powder
1 Tbs capers
1 Tbs cilantro — chopped
1 pinch salt   

Slice the roasted chicken breast and toss in the curry remoulade.  Assemble by placing a big scoop of toasted couscous on lettuce leaves,  top with slices of chicken mixture and steamed broccoli. Sprinkle with feta and almonds and dig in.   

Did you see the movie Sideways?  Love or hate it? 

Los Olivos Curry Chicken Salad,   

It’s What’s For Dinner.

When I’m Not Here, I’m There

May 25, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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Whenever I go back to Kansas to visit family, you can bet I find time to visit Smith’s Market in Hutchinson, KS.

Located on historic South Main Street in Hutchinson, warm and welcoming, this market is so unique that I don’t even know where to begin. Smith’s is a contemporary version of an old country market and one can definitely spend a lot of time browsing as it is chock full of unique items from floor to ceiling, nook to cranny…and there’s cranny to nook. 

In addition to  its beautiful produce aisle, and array of specialty foods, there’s guaranteed to be a surprise around every corner. I took lots of eye candy photos, so why don’t you join me for a photographic tour of a great little store.

Speaking of candy, it’s impossible to steer clear of the candy aisle at Smith’s, so you might as well let that sweet tooth run wild and grab a bag of every one of your childhood candy memories. Take a look:

The Jelly Belly Wall

Jaw Breaker anyone?  I love the hand-painted murals that adorn the walls at Smith’s.  Look at that little girl to the left sneaking candy.

More candy.

And if that wasn”t enough…I do believe I see my favorite Cinnamon Gummy Bears there in the middle. 

A gorgeous produce section. 

Love this antique stove used for display.

Ahh-haaaa…here’s the first little nook and cranny treasure I ran across.  Sandhill Plum Jelly. The Sand Hills are located northeast of Hutchinson.  Home to more sand than many deserts, you can also find Sand Hill Plum bushes amongst the rolling dunes and along the roads. These dunes were formed by wind-deposited sand from the Arkansas River left at the end of the Ice Age. They are now stabilized by the roots of sand prairie grasses. I remember as a kid Dad would drive us over in mid summer, parking alongside the road we’d  pick baskets of Sandhill Plums for jelly. They are tart cherry-sized berries that grow on these Kansas native bushes. It’s been years since I’ve had any of this jelly.

Tiddley Winks anyone? Tucked between the sacks of candy, sitting on shelves and racks you’ll find some great novelty items and games throughout the store.

“Nothing Runs Like A Deere” and yes I bought a Sock Monkey.

A large Amish community surrounds the Hutchinson area. Wish I would have picked up this cookbook…next time.

A great selection of Jake and Amos products. Everything I’ve tried so far is yummy.

A beautiful collection of candles.

You’ll also find a large selection of snack items from specialty trail mixes to fancy mixed nuts.

More tempting cookbooks.

Lots of antiques add to the charm.

Speciality jams,  jellies and sauces are EV and I mean everywhere.

 A race car driving Sock Monkey.

I bought Wickles brand of pickled okra…LOVED it.

A bulk spice section.

Some beautiful locally made pies.

I bought several bags of their popcorn!  It’s the best.

Got a garden to plant? You’ll find everything you need; onion sets, potatoes, seeds. 

Did I mention the rows and rows of specialty pasta products. You can bet my cart was full.

Now, If I could just get them to relocate to Highlands Ranch.  🙂 

I love Smith’s Market and look forward to browsing…and browsing..and browsing.. each trip home.  Know why?  Because I know I’ll find something new, that I didn’t see before.

Hurrah For Bloggers…and a Winner

May 24, 2010 at 1:49 am | Posted in Hurrah For Bloggers | 20 Comments

It’s time to showcase some of those great recipes I’ve found by reading  your  blogs.  Again, so many bookmarked, so little time. 🙂  Hurrah for bloggers and thank you for sharing your delicious and tempting offerings. It’s a great lineup…so let’s get started.

First of all, I found this Mexican style chicken burger over at MOTHER RIMMY’S. Kristi, this looked wonderful and I couldn’t resist giving it a try. Afterall, its list of ingredients was calling our names. You can see her original post for this recipe HERE. With a name like, Spicy Mexican Chicken And Avocado Burger…it automatically made its way to our table.  Thanks for this recipe Kristi…it is now in my database.

Stephanie over at PLAIN CHICKEN  is constantly tempting us with wonderful dishes and as soon as I saw her post for these sticky buns, I knew I had to give them a try. Good-gaaaREEF is this good. Stephanie, thanks so much for sharing this wonderful, melt in your mouth, ooey gooey goodness treat. Can’t wait for brunch guests to swoon over this one. For her original post take a look HERE. This is now in my database as Steph’s Over Night Sticky Buns.  Thank you my dear.

 How about Fried Goat Cheese on Bibb Lettuce with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing…let me repeat myself, “how about fried goat cheese on bibb lettuce with lemon poppyseed dressing”  I mean c’mon who can resist such a wonderful sounding salad. I made this the very night I saw it posted over at CINNAMON SPICE AND EVERYTHING NICE.   I have only one word for this…Fabulous!  To take a look at the original post and a great photo take a look HERE.  I served this with some Tequila Lime Shrimp skewers. YUM. Thank you for this Cinnamon Girl!

And last but not least, how about a Strawberry Pie?  Big tease Larry over at Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings has been waving torturous photos of a wonderful Strawberry Pie at us for over a week.  I made time to give it a try. I adore this Summery easy dessert. You can take a look at Larry’s original post here.  This is a traveling recipe making the trip from Mary’s blog DEEP SOUTH DISH, to LARRY’S BLOG in Smoky Mountains and finally to my Denver kitchen. This will be a great “go-to” dessert when company is scheduled for dinner.

Now for the winner of my cookbook 1st blogiversary give away. Using and assigning everyone a number…the resulting winner is Beren over at Roti-n-rice. Please send your snail mail address to lannisam at gmail dot com. I’ll get that Colorado cookbook in the mail.

Hurrah For Bloggers…a standing ovation…

Thanks For The Great Dishes

Step by Step, Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

May 19, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Chicken, Potatoes | 24 Comments
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Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy with a side of green beans. This is the first meal I ever learned how to prepare.

I know my chicken frying. A third-generation Kansas farm girl, I grew up on my mother’s family recipe for fried chicken. On the farm, my father would kill a chicken, my mother would dress it, cut it up and promptly place it in a large pot of salted water to brine for a coupe of hours. This ended up on our dinner table several times a week during wheat harvest when we had a table full of hired hands helping my father with the farm work. By the way, dinner was the meal served at mid-day, supper was our night-time meal. 

The preparation was simple but attention to details important. The right kind of oil at just the right temperature and knowing when to turn the chicken…all were important. Never did we jazz up the breading mixture with things like buttermilk, corn flakes or herbs. And use a deep fryer??? Never. I wouldn’t  touch our classic recipe. The results, sweet milk gravy over creamy mashed potatoes and perfectly crunchy fried chicken. 

1 whole fryer chicken, cut in pieces.  Don’t you dare try to get all healthy on me and remove the skin…it won’t work…don’t bother.  After your skin-on chicken pieces have been soaking in salt water for at least an hour…let’s get started with the oil.

I’ve never fried chicken in anything but Crisco. Well, maybe one time I tried olive oil for a healthier version, which didn’t work well at all. As far as I know nothing fries up chicken better than Crisco. I only make fried chicken a couple times a year, so I figure a little Crisco isn’t going to hurt anybody. Is anyone else old enough to remember the television commercial from the 60’s with the little girl in the kitchen exclaiming in that strong southern accent “My mom made fried chicken…and I haalped”?  🙂   

There, about three giant heaping tablespoons ought to do it. Make sure to use a large fry pan with deep sides. This time I tried my cast iron skillet.  It worked great, but any large fry pan will do. Turn the burner to medium high.

Remove the chicken pieces from the brine and pat dry. While the oil is heating in the pan fill a dinner plate with flour. Mix in about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Dredge each chicken piece on both sides in the flour mixture. As you work, place the pieces in the pan with the oil that has reached approximately 375 degrees. I usually don’t use a thermometer for the oil temperature, I just sprinkle a bit of flour in the pan and if it sizzles I know it’s ready.

In the meantime, turn on the burner under those peeled potatoes you’ve cut up for your mashed potatoes.

Once you have all the chicken pieces situated in the pan, let them fry at a bubbling speed for about 10-15 minutes.

With a fork, take a peek to see if you’ve achieved just the right golden crust.  Nope, not ready yet.

I’ve just turned this thigh.  Now that’s perfect.

Continue to turn the pieces as they reach that crispness and brown on the other side for another 15 minutes, or so.

After both sides are crunchy and browned,  I briefly cover the pan and let everything steam for about 5 minutes only. Any longer will turn that crusty goodness soft. I’m just doing this to make sure the internal meat is cooked through.

Having removed all of the pieces, pay special attention to the two large breast pieces by turning them on their sides for a few minutes. Just want to make sure each side has that crust.  Total time to cook a full pan of chicken is about 30-40 minutes.

Before we start the gravy, dip out about 1/2 cup of that starchy water that the potatoes have left behind from boiling.

Now we’re ready to make the gravy.

While the chicken is resting on paper towels, carefully pour off the oil leaving about 3 tablespoons in the fry pan. Make sure you don’t let any of those brown crunchies on the bottom escape the pan. That’s what really makes a gravy flavorful.

With burner on medium low, add an equal amount of flour and stir into a roux. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, sprinkling in a little more flour if you feel the consistency isn’t thick enough. You’ve got to get this part right because you can’t add any more flour after this step, or you’ll get those undesirable lumps.

Add about a cup of milk. Stirring constantly allow mixture to thicken. Stir in about 1/2 cup of reserved potato water and continue to cook. As it bubbles and thickens add a little milk at a time to achieve that perfect gravy consistency.

Mash those potatoes with some butter and milk and just enough salt and pepper.  Serve it up with some green beans that have been tossed with some cooked chopped onion and bacon pieces. Don’t forget to drag the green beans through some of the potatoes and gravy as you’re scooping them up.

I always grab for the thighs…love that dark meat.  Are you a white meat or dark meat kinda person?

Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy,

It’s What’s For a Country “Dinner”.

Blogiversary…I’m 1…And A Giveaway

May 18, 2010 at 1:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 51 Comments
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One year ago, on May 16, I said,  “Hello world”, clicked the “publish” button and Mangos, Chili and Z entered the world. I was nervous, I was excited and I remember checking in about every 15 minutes to see if anyone out there had read imy initial post.

Finally, my good friend Carol Grape noticed it gasping for its first breath, slapped it on the back with a view and a comment, and that’s all it took to get the madness moving on fast forward. 

I’ve had more fun with this blog. Thanks to all of you for following me, all the comments and all the inspiration from your great blogs. With 150 posts under my belt, I most certainly look forward to year two! 

Post #1   content involved a spring bird watching trip to Northeast Colorado and coincidence has it that we headed out to the Pawnee Grasslands on the same date this year. 

What a grand area the Pawnee National Grasslands are. Covering almost 200,000 acres in Weld County in N.E. Colorado and extending to the Wyoming border, this vast sea of natural grasslands is a destination of bird watchers all over the world due to its unique habitat.

When you’re out in the middle of this desolate grassland prairie, all you can hear is wind whistling through the grass, an occasional call of a raptor overhead and a chorus of sparrows, buntings and longspurs who have arrived to use the grass, rabbit brush, sage and an occasional smattering of trees as their spring nesting grounds. Throw in a bark from a distant prairie dog and  metal squeaking from a turning windmill and you truly feel a kindred spirit with the pioneers who first arrived on these plains some 200 years ago.

One might not take particular notice of the teeming wildlife in this shortgrass prairie when traveling East to West as most vacationers have their sites set on the Rockie Mountains looming in the distance. On a closer look you’ll find the area literally crawling with wildlife.

Filled with history involving buffalo, indians, settlers, cattlemen and farmers, in the 1930’s strong winds stripped the grass then sucked the moisture out of the ground carrying its topsoil aloft, sweeping it across the country and blotting out the sun in cities in the east. We call it the Dust Bowl.  After the winds were gone all that was left was a damaged ecology, towns and pioneer spirits. Beginning in 1934 Federal relief efforts were initiated and in 1960 these lands became the Pawnee National Grassland.  Slowly with patience and careful management the land is healing. A mat of natural grasses once again protects the soil and wildlife and settlers have returned. 

This area, so rich in history even inspired James Michener’s Novel “Centennial”. 

Here’s a few photos I took.

Birding treat of the day was when an American Bittern plopped down right in front of us. Usually a very elusive and secretive bird, they are rarely seen and only sometimes heard.

A better shot of the prairie pot hole habitat.  See it there in the middle?  You can’t believe how still it is.  It moves so slow you can barely tell it’s moving.  I thought my arms would sieze up trying to hold the camera as still to not to alarm it’s activity.  Plus, trying not to breath.  A tense and exciting moment. 

Now take a look at this shot.  As the bird moves towards the reeds he raises his head to imitate the tall stalks of the plant and to camouflage himself into the landscape. Pretty soon he’ll be almost impossible to see. Pretty cool…huh?

To celebrate my 1st anniversary, I’ve prepared the first meal that my mom taught me to make. Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes and creamy chicken gravy. That will be my next post. 

But first, let’s talk about giveaway.  Using a random generator one reader will receive a copy of Denver Junior League’s Creme de Colorado Cookbook. This cookbook contains a selection of recipes that reflect Colorado’s lifestyle and rich history. It  includes nearly 700 recipes which are enhanced with color images by the renowned Colorado naturalist photographer, John Fielder.  Mr. Fielder captures the essence of Colorado with his lens and the results invite you to feel a part of our region. 

But wait, there’s anothe bird hiding in that third bird photo.  To enter, simply leave a comment with a guess of what it is. You don’t have to be right, just guess.  Contest ends at midnight Saturday, May 22, Mountain Standard Time.

Birdwatching on the Pawnee,

It’s an Annual Spring Event

A Great Little Find

May 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Posted in Lamb, Light Meals, Salad Dressings | 33 Comments
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I know this doesn’t look like much, but please believe me, it is “much”! 

Maybe I should have put a shiny fork across the salad bowl.  But not to fret, I’ll have plenty more photography chances with this one as I’ll definitely be serving it up over and over. 

I found this on Sunday while leisurely catching up on food magazine reading.   You see, I have this pile of food magazines next to the bed that can get quite unruly if I get behind on my reading. My husband calls it the “Rat’s Nest”. 

Currently in the Rat’s Nest, you’ll find Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Sunset, The Food Network Magazine…Oh, I guess you can count Wine Spectator too, since some of those wineries can put out some great little recipes here and there. 

I’ve been wanting to prepare lamb since Easter and haven’t done it, so this recipe with its interesting combination of lamb and cumin vinaigrette promptly received a sticky note to mark its location.

This salad is as texturally interesting as it is in flavor. Matchstick pieces of jicama, cucumber and carrot all with different levels of “crunch” make a fabulous combination as well as looking quite pretty. And tossed with that Cumin Vinaigrette…Lordy! Delicious. So delicious that you almost forget about those tender slices of grilled leg-0-lamb until they melt in your mouth with flavor. Did I mention easy? Especially easy using a mandolin for those matchsticks. Take a look:

I love Chef Sang Yoon’s comment for this creation:  “Lamb seasoned with cumin is very Indian, as well as Sichuan and Yunnan. But no one in Asia would serve lamb on a salad; that’s just me being Californian”.

You’ll find the recipe below, or hop on over to  to add it to your “favorites” over at  It’s really a more high tech method for marking recipes you want to try.  🙂

Grilled Lamb Salad With Cumin Vinaigrette, by Sang Yoon, February 2010 Issue, Food and Wine Magazine:


  1. One 1-pound piece boneless leg of lamb, about 3 inches thick
  2. 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for rubbing
  3. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  4. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  5. 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  6. 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
  7. 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  8. Freshly ground white pepper
  9. 4 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  10. One 6-ounce piece of jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  11. 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
  12. 1 medium seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  13. 1/2 cup shredded basil, plus 4 sprigs
  14. 2 red jalapeños, seeded and sliced
  15. 4 cilantro sprigs


  1. Light a grill. Rub the lamb with oil, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the cumin and season with salt and black pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, mustard and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin. Whisk in the 1/4 cup of oil and season with salt and white pepper.
  3. Grill the lamb over moderate heat, turning a few times, until charred and medium-rare, about 12 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a carving board; let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the romaine with the jicama, carrot, cucumber, shredded basil and jalapeños. Add the dressing and toss well. Transfer to plates. Thinly slice the lamb and arrange the slices on the salad. Garnish with the cilantro and basil sprigs and serve.

Grilled Lamb Salad With Cumin Vinaigrette,
It’s What’s For Dinner!

No More Training Wheels

May 9, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Chili, eggs | 36 Comments
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Remember your first bicycle? I think it must have been about 3rd grade when I received my beautiful purple Schwinn. I remember how uneasy I felt the first time my dad let go of the handle bars while running along side of me, for my first solo trip without the training wheels. I remember my mom watching nervously and wringing her hands. Of course I promptly fell in the dirt, and with the help of Band-Aids and determination eventually became a bicycle riding fool adding flashy purple tassels on the handle grips and clothes-pinning baseball cards in the spokes to make a lot of racket when I went real fast.

So what does this have to do with food? 

Dinner last night was supposed to be skewered grilled shrimp and tilapia finished with some jalapeno butter for dipping, but at 6:30 when I decided I was starving and had better start dinner the recipe instructed that I marinade the seafood for at least an hour. Don’t you hate when that happens?

Plan B:  Dig around in the refrigerator, fry up some corn tortillas, top with some warmed up green chili and nestle a poached egg in on top. 

I had just started my 2nd glass of wine and feeling a false sense of security, threw caution to the wind and decided to ditch the egg poaching pods.

That’s right, no more training wheels.  I boiled some water, added some vinegar, got the water swirling like a tornado and slid in the raw egg. It worked like a charm and I didn’t even fall in the dirt. No Band-Aids were necessary. 

Bye Bye green silicone egg poaching pod training wheels. Bye Bye odd-shaped poached eggs…forever!

Don’t they even kind of look like training wheels?

As you can imagine, I’m completely tickled with myself. So tickled that I have to post way too many unnecessary photos.

So with all that said, Happy Mother’s day to all. I feel a perfect celebratory weekend has already begun. The wine we opened last night was a delicious Joseph Swan Russian River Valley Pinot…yum! After my poached egg victory we watched The Blind Side. What a great movie to kick off Mother’s Day. LOVED it.

 We’re brunching out this morning with the kids. Tonight I’ll start the marinade early enough to have my grilled shrimp and tilapia skewers.  It couldn’t have worked out better since yesterday was chilly and predicted temperatures at grilling time this evening will be in the 70’s

For fun, in the comment section, why don’t you share a  bicycle “incident” memory.  Whether it be a proud decoration, or a stunt that brought mom running with Band-aids and kisses.

Salute to Moms everywhere, and may your poached eggs be perfectly swirled and runny.

I’ll Take A Salad With That Burger

May 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Beef, Salads | 34 Comments
Tags: , , ,

A BLT Cheddar Burger in the middle of the week? How do I justify that? I usually save such indulgences for the weekend, serving healthier fare during the week.

Justification #1:  Serve it with a beautiful Citrus Salad (recipe below).  By the way, that  upper left pink stuff is an overly-ripe grapefruit that I mangled trying to get it sliced. 

Early on I was trained that a perfect plated meal included a chunk of meat, a green vegetable and a starch which was either baked or mashed potatoes.  And growing up on a wheat farm in the middle of Kansas, there was never a meal without bread and butter.  EVER. 

These days, more often than not, I’ll plate nothing but a tossed salad next to that chunk of meat. There’s just nothing better than a healthy array of beautiful chopped greens and fruits topped with a flavorful vinaigrette for a side dish. And so many variations available year round with seasonal fruits and veggies. Yum. On the weekends? You bet I’ll take fries with that burger.

Justification #2:  Maybe I should take the bacon off and feed it to the dogs, after all it would look better on them than me.

Justification #3, add a  healthy chunk of iceberg lettuce and a couple of rings of onions AND, whole wheat hamburger buns. Ok, bacon, you’re back in. Afterall, there’s nothing worse than a fat “little dog”. Don’t you agree? 

Justification #4:  Leave off the ooey-gooey melted sharp cheddar, (ok, I have to admit, only because I didn’t have any on hand) and add a nice big slice of tomato. Oops that little Devil appeared on my shoulder and I slathered on some mayo based Russian Tarragon Sauce (recipe below).

A burger and a salad on a Wednesday night…I was in heaven, even without that ooey-gooey cheddar. If you’re looking for a delicious twist on a regular burger, you might want to give this a try. I found this over at Food and Wine Magazine, a recipe from BLT Burger in Las Vegas. I learned an interesting technique from this recipe; dip the burger patties in ice water and then brush them with unsalted melted butter while grilling.  The natural sugars carmelize making the burger flavors even more delicious. The Citrus Salad recipe is mine.

Citrus Salad:

  • 2 Kiwi fruit, peeled and quartered
  • 1 orange, peeled and sliced in rounds
  • 1/2 grapefruit, peeled and sliced in rounds
  • mixed greens

Pineapple is also great on this salad. 

Dressing for Citrus Salad:

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs catsup
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Mix all ingredients in a jar and shake until well blended. 

Cheddar BLT Burgers with Russian Tarragon Sauce:


  1. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1/3 cup ketchup
  3. 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  4. 1 tablespoon grated onion
  5. 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  6. 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  7. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  8. 12 ounces thickly sliced bacon
  9. 1 1/3 pounds ground beef chuck
  10. 1 1/3 pounds ground beef sirloin
  11. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  12. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  13. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  14. 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 6 slices
  15. 6 hamburger buns, split and toasted
  16. 6 iceberg lettuce leaves
  17. 6 slices of tomato
  18. 6 slices of red onion


  1. Whisk the mayo, ketchup, red wine vinegar, onion, parsley, tarragon and Worcestershire sauce until blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Cook the bacon until crisp.
  3. Light a grill and fill a large bowl with ice water. Gently mix the ground chuck with the ground sirloin, salt and pepper. Form the meat into patties and submerge in the cold water and let soak for 30 seconds. Immediately transfer the burgers to the grill and brush with some of the melted butter. Grill over high heat for 9 minutes for medium-rare meat, turning once or twice and brushing occasionally with butter. Top the burgers with the cheese during the last-minute of grilling and let melt.
  4. Spread the Russian dressing on the buns. Set the lettuce leaves and tomato slices on the bottom halves and top with the burgers, red onion and bacon. 

Tarragon Burgers and Citrus Salad:

It’s Whats For Dinner…even during the week.

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